{ 994 comments… read them below }

  1. WoodswomanWrites*

    I’m having an entire bag of microwave popcorn for dinner. Tonight, that makes me happy. What do you like to eat when you have no motivation to prepare a meal?

    1. EdgeOfTheWoods*

      Golden Krust Jamaican beef patty – as cheap and quick as a hot pocket and far tastier and more satisfying!

      Ramen. Yep, some people may judge, but it’s the ultimate comfort food when I’m feeling poorly. Broth, sodium, and easily consumed carbs. Hits better than chicken noodle soup every time.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Spaghetti noodles and butter, with enough Kraft powdered “Parmesan” to coat each and every noodle. Or just like half a brick of cheddar.

      2. Napkin Thief*

        I was just thinking what could I eat when I’m too tired to put much effort in and I happen to have both of these on hand – thank you for inspiring my struggle lunch for today!

    2. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      – Oatmeal
      – pimento cheese or pb&j sandwich
      – ramen with an egg and some green onion
      – graze on cheese, lunch meat, crackers, and fruit directly out of the fridge
      – bowl of cereal

    3. Jackalope*

      I like pancakes. I can mix them up in about 4 minutes and it just takes a couple minutes more to cook them. PBJs and cereal are also good options.

    4. EdgaeAllanCat*

      Tasty Bites, the shelf stable vegetarian Indian food in pouch. And a burger from the chain restaurant across the street from the building. It’s ready in 15 mins.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Boil macaroni in salted water according to package directions. When I’m making this just for me, I will cook 1/2 to 2/3 cup dried macaroni. While this is cooking I heat 1/2 and 1/2 in the microwave for 30 seconds, maybe half to three fourths cup. If you have whole milk you can use that instead, but we use 2% and it doesn’t do as well. Also shred/ finely chop some cheddar cheese. I like medium cheddar, but sharp does well, too. As someone else mentioned, a microplaner is great for this, but when I’m lazy I have been known to just cut into rough cubes. I don’t really know how much, maybe a cup? I never measure because if I have too much I just store it. Same with the milk/cream. You can put in the fridge and use later.
          Drain macaroni and return to stove. Turn heat down to medium. Add a small amount of cheese then dribble in some milk/cream. After this just keep adding cheese and milk and constantly stirring until it gets creamy. When it’s as creamy as you like, add a good lump of butter and stir in until completely melted, and there you have it!! You may add additional salt and some black pepper if you like. All this sounds complicated, but the hardest part is preparing the cheese. If I have any leftover broccoli I’ll sometimes warm that and throw it in, but usually I just pig out on M&C. I only do this when I’m eating alone.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Either cream or evaporated milk OR a more processed cheese will melt better and make it creamier, but it’s tasty either way. My secret ingredient is a half teaspoon or so of mustard powder.

          2. Felis alwayshungryis*

            I’ve heard of a version where you actually cook the macaroni in milk – the starch from the pasta thickens it and then you just throw cheese and whatever else in. Haven’t tried it but seems super clever.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Well, here’s my recipe. I cook the macaroni until it’s quite al dente. Drain it and put the pasta back into the pot. Add a small amount of liquid dairy (cream, milk, half-and-half), a lot of grated sharp cheddar cheese, and a dollop of thick dairy (sour cream, full-fat yogurt). Be sure to grate the cheese on the fine blade of a microplane grater, or it might not melt properly. Stir all of that up over medium heat with a lot of salt and pepper, a dash of cayenne, and whatever other seasonings you like. A tiny bit of mustard powder is good, as is a dash of Worcestershire sauce and/or some powdered garlic or onion.

        1. Llama Llama*

          I do something extremely similar for a quick meal except I don’t add the sour cream. I often add rotisserie chicken to it though.

          It really is super easy.

    5. Squidhead*

      Samosas (the kind that come frozen)
      Quesadillas (shredding cheese and sautéing veggies somehow doesn’t seem like that much work even when I don’t wanna cook other stuff)
      Cheese and crackers and apples.
      Tomato soup (boxed) and grilled cheese (or cheese broiled onto bread)

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      A can of tuna.
      Or kimchi eaten out of the container. Mashed with tofu if I’m feeling like I need the protein.
      Or too much cheese.

    7. Keats*

      Twins! I bought a giant box at Costco last week, and I live alone lol. But there’s something extra cozy and festive about hot popcorn this time of year.

      My dog is a big fan too, as I am physiologically incapable of not throwing him a piece or two.

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      Frozen pizza, or pasta and sauce from a jar (sometimes ‘sauce’ can literally be pesto straight from the jar and stirred through hot pasta). If I’m willing to make a little bit more effort and want to feel like I actually cooked a bit, then brinner (with scrambled eggs, baked beans and hash browns), stir fry with packet sauce and pre-cut vegetables, curry with Quorn pieces and a jar sauce (plus some extra onion and garlic), or a cheese toastie made in the pan.

    9. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Bao and rice with furikake rice seasoning, because using the rice cooker to make a whole meal is so easy.

      French toast or a panfried egg sandwich recipe that I found on a YouTube cooking channel.

      1. Zelda*

        This is more or less my “five minute dinner.” Put the kettle on to boil; put a saucepan of water on the next burner. While they’re heating, stage a mug with teabag or tea ball, get out 2 eggs, and put 2 pieces of bread in the toaster. When the water boils, pour kettle on tea to brew, crack the eggs into the saucepan to poach, and start the toaster. It takes a bit of energy to convince myself to get started, but remembering that everything cooks for literally five minutes, no measuring or mixing, can get me past the “food is too hard” barrier. With the piece of fruit it’s even pretty balanced.

    10. Cookies For Breakfast*

      When I was younger, it used to be a bowl of muesli, or I’d get cake from somewhere fancy as a rare treat and have it with a cup of tea.

      Now, rather than fancy cake, I get fancy sourdough bread, toast it and throw things on it. Usually avocado and salmon, or salmon and poached eggs, or pan-fried avocado, tahini and poached eggs. Meal sorted in ten minutes without fail.

      (I got a website error earlier, so this might get posted twice, hope not!)

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Peanut butter and preserves (not grape!) or PB swirled with honey, depending on the bread. Ramen from the import grocery store, especially Lucky Me brand with citrus and chili. Aldi’s frozen pancakes. Aldi’s calzones. Grilled cheese. Tuna sandwich.

    12. mreasy*

      Kid style quesadilla (just cheese & tortilla, fried in butter), plus adult style hot sauce. Or, I live in NYC so a solid pizza slice is never too far away (1.5 blocks from my front door in fact).

    13. Amcb13*

      I try to keep Trader Joe’s frozen corn dogs around for just such an occasion.

      I did just splurge and border myself some fancy tinned fish from Fishwife so I feel like tinned fish on bread will soon be my answer, though. I’m very excited.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      A tin of herring under pineapple sauce from Aldi and a toast.
      Or some other fish.
      Usually when boyfriend now at home, because the smell makes him gag.

    15. RussianInTexas*

      Tuna salad and Triscuits.
      Shrimp ceviche from the neighborhood Mexican supermarket and tortilla chips.

    16. Hotdog not dog*

      Peanut butter and jelly, or cheese and crackers. (Really anything with minimal prep or cleanup)

    17. time for cocoa*

      I make a mini party platter. Baby carrots, grape tomatoes, bell pepper, hummus, cheese cubes, olives, stoneground wheat crackers.

      For some reason I can always find the energy to chop ingredients, but actually applying heat to cook things feels like a huge amount of work, so I eat a lot of raw veg when I’m tired or lazy.

    18. fposte*

      Microwaved leftovers (there’s usually some pasta in the fridge), microwaved homemade frozen soup, or an apple or pear with cheese.

    19. Dear liza dear liza*

      Bake up some Pillsbury can biscuits and butter them good. Warm up a small bowl of Rao’s tomato sauce, and dip the biscuits into the sauce. Sooo good.

    20. OtterB*

      This can be fixed in the microwave or on stovetop.

      Cook some frozen green peas. Drain, if cooked on stovetop. Stir in a can of mushroom soup and a can of tuna. Heat. Serve over chow mein noodles.

      This was my mom’s go-to dinner when something (rarely) got her home too late to cook, in the pre-frozen-dinner, pre-carryout days of the 1960s. For me it’s comfort food.

    21. Voluptuousfire*

      English muffin pizzas, sans the oven.

      I used to toast them in my toaster until golden brown and put sauce and mozzarella on them and put them in the microwave for 90 seconds so it’s heated through and the cheese is melted.

      I realized I can probably use my air fryer for this. I HIGHLY recommend air fryers. My other go to no motivation meal are dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets from the air fryer and mixed veggies.

    22. Veronica Mars*

      Pasta with butter and parmesan. I throw some peas in with the pasta for the last few minutes.

      I also make a spicy peanut butter ramen that only takes a tiny bit more work than regular ramen but it TASTY (it’s a budget bytes recipe if you want to google it).

      I love frozen appetizers and will make a multi course appetizer for dinner meal that takes a long time but is no real effort.

    23. GoryDetails*

      One of my low-effort favorites is Stovetop Stuffing; if I have actual broth or stock in the house I might use that instead of water to boost the flavor, but the basic version is tasty enough for me.

      For quicker/smaller meals/snacks, the cup-of-ramen variaties work well: I like the spicy ones, but if I’m also dealing with minor stomach upset I’ll get the roast-chicken flavor.

    24. Seashell*

      Cereal (usually if I’ve had a large lunch or late lunch)
      Annie’s mac & cheese
      fried egg on toast
      an omelet

    25. PhyllisB*

      Also, I have been known to melt some cheese, either cheddar or mozzarella (or a mixture of both) and eat with tortilla chips and call that dinner.
      And I have done the microwave popcorn.

    26. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Eggs on toast, baked beans on toast. The other night I did microwave baked potatoes with baked beans and butter.

    27. California Dreamin'*

      Ramen is a solid comfort food for me, too. Or when my husband and kids would be out of town and it was just me, I used to enjoy a big bowl of spaghetti with jarred sauce (I usually make homemade pasta sauce, which is always delicious, but the jarred stuff takes me right back to my college days and tastes wonderful to me in a nostalgic way. Also is way easier.) Or a plain quesadilla, as someone else mentioned above… just tortillas and grated cheese fried up in a pan.

    28. wireknitter*

      Flour tortilla spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with chocolate chips. Microwave about 30 seconds til it’s all melted .

    29. cat in cardboard box*

      Microwaved chicken nuggets, and green beans from a can. What can I say? It’s easy and fast.

    30. SaraK*

      Usually some variation of aglio, olio e peperoncini. Sometime I add peppers or tomatoes if I’m feeling up to chopping anything

    31. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Frozen potstickers and a pinch of matchstick carrots cooked in pho broth (from a carton). I add a little soy sauce and sesame oil right before I eat it.

    32. Firebird*

      Oatmeal with raisins because I always have some on hand.

      I often keep a bag of burritos in the freezer. I microwave one for a minute and the stick it in the toaster oven on “light toast” (so I don’t have to remember to turn it off) to dry up any moisture on the tortilla.

      When I’m willing to make a little bit of effort, I slice some green pepper and onion to put in a tortilla, with some cheese. This goes in the toaster oven on the “medium toast” setting. Sometimes I add leftover meat to it.

    33. Still*

      This post has inspired me to throw half a bag of leftover kale into my instant in noodles as they were boiling, and with a couple of eggs poached on top it almost feels like a healthy meal.

    34. the cat's ass*

      ramen with a poached egg and maybe leftover bacon, a handful of corn or spinach; there’s usually something viable lurking in the fridge!

    35. So Tired*

      I order Whole Foods Amazon noms: cranberries with butternut squash, protein, plus a dessert like Enlightened cookie dough ice cream.

    36. allathian*

      Leftovers from the fridge. My husband is our main cook, and when he cooks on the weekend, he’ll make enough for several meals. Typically he’ll use our 5 liter (1.3 US gallon) cooking pot to boil pasta.

      If there are no leftovers and neither of us feels like cooking, it’s probably going to be cereal, or microwaved oatmeal in the winter. Or a few sandwiches made with whatever we have at home, usually cheese and sliced turkey, and some fruit, usually a banana or an apple.

  2. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’re reading, and give or ask for recommendations.

    I’m reading several books right now. A couple of books by Sharon Shinn who writes fantasy romance. Also The Matchmaker’s Gift which was recommended here a few weeks ago.

    1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I’m re-reading one of my favorites, The City and The City by China Mieville. Every time I read it I find something new and fascinating.

      1. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

        One of my absolute favorites. I’ve also read “Kraken” and keep reminding myself to find his other works.

        1. Atheist Nun*

          The Scar was great, but you need to deal with his asinine, condescending characterization of the female protagonist.

          1. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

            Knowing his politics and his personality, this seems certainly out of character for him. Would you be willing to elaborate on this a bit?

    2. Keats*

      I’m reading such a fun age. I love it, but I’ve decided to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame next and I can’t wait!

    3. Jackalope*

      Okay, I just finished The Matchmaker’s Gift and really enjoyed it. The ending wrapped up a bit too neatly and happily, but otherwise it was great. I enjoyed many of the characters, the plot was fun, and it was pleasant to spend a few hours in the world of the main characters. Also, as someone who can often tell if two people have a good relationship once they’re together but has virtually no CLUE when they haven’t met yet, I’ve always found the idea of matchmakers (both professional, and people who hook up their friends) to be fascinating.

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m still on ‘The Eye of the World’, the first Wheel of Time novel (bought in a Kindle deal when the Amazon series came out) – about two-thirds of the way through. It’s good, and I’ve enjoyed the world-building, but it’s hit a patch of feeling slightly repetitive so I’m hoping it will pick up shortly.

      Next up is going to be getting into the traditional Christmas reading with ‘The Dark is Rising’.

      1. carcinization*

        I so need to re-buy “The Dark is Rising” series. I read them so much as a child that I still have passages memorized, but I don’t think I ever re-purchased them after losing the first set to a natural disaster.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I’m afraid repetitiveness is one of the major weaknesses of the Wheel of Time series, but it is still very much worth reading. I need to go back and read them again.

    5. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. I look forward to reading the next one, but I’m going to read some fluff first. I borrowed some 20 books from the library. I can’t wait for the holidays.

    6. OtterB*

      Reading my way through At the Feet of the Sun by Victoria Goddard, sequel to The Hands of the Emperor and The Return of Fitzroy Angursell. It is very long. I will have to reread because I find that I’m reading it spread out enough over time that I’m forgetting incidents that occurred earlier in the book. I don’t love-love-love it like I did THotE, but am thoroughly enjoying it, and I’m near the end and think it’s going to stick the landing.

    7. Elle*

      Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. Don’t let the 600 pages scare you. It’s a fast read and very good so far.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I loved Demon Copperhead! Barbara Kingsolver has an amazing talent for getting into her characters’ minds.

        1. OtterB*

          Okay, I just placed a hold at the library for the ebook of this … I am hold number 1012 (for 130-some copies). Wow.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Bewilderment by Richard Powers. I’m only about 20 pages in, but already in love with Theo and his son Robbie.

    9. Mitchell Hundred*

      Gender in Medieval Culture by Michelle Sauer. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin, and is weirdly fascinating. I already knew about some of the unorthodox methods for inducing abortion, but there were a couple of other things that made me put down the book and just stare out the window for five minutes.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Did you ever read The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser? About women’s lives in 17th century England.

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          No, but it sounds like exactly my thing. Thank you! I did read her biography of Henry VIII’s wives, many years ago.

    10. Keymaster of Gozer*

      ‘Ladylord’ by Sasha Millar. It’s a fantasy novel of a woman promoted to being the lord of a house despite not being a firstborn son and the challenges she faces.

      I’ve read it about 20 times!

      (Content warning: does contain a fairly descriptive scene of r*pe – male on female)

    11. Veronica Mars*

      I just started listening to I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy and it’s definitely going to be a lot. Huge content warning if parental abuse is a trigger for you. She writes in a style that is bitingly funny and it’s very compelling. I read a decent number of celebrity memoirs and so far this is one of the best ones I’ve read.

      On the much lighter side I just finished The Bodyguard by Katherine Center and it’s a fluffy romcom in book form, and was fun and sweet. I’d read more of her books in the future.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ooh, I have I’m Glad My Mom Died on my Audible Wishlist (I mainly listen to audiobooks on the 90-mins-each-way drive to my therapist’s office, so I tend towards family memoirs that are deep but not unlistenably triggering for me) – this makes me want to check it out!

    12. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      ANGEL FALLS by Julia Rust and David Surface – actually a re-read, for an upcoming book-club. Eerie/heartwarming YA friendship set in a history-haunted coastal New England town.

      THE TWELVE JAYS of CHRISTMAS by Donna Andrews, another of her delightfully chaotic family-comedy/cozy-mystery tales, in which not only the bluejays but also mockingbirds, Pomeranian puppies, and even a pair of wombats play a part.

      A CHRISTMAS CARD by Paul Theroux – a longish short story about a family that stumbles across an unusual house while lost in a snowstorm, and what happens when they find a peculiarly detailed illustration of the area – apparently a Christmas card – that may be able to grant wishes. (It feels pretty creepy in places but ultimately proves benign.)

      And, on the darker side, THE FISHERMAN by John Langan, in which a widower recounts his joy in fishing – and what happened when he went to a particular and ill-omened stream one day… [Very much tale-within-a-tale here, opening with details of horrors to come and then backtracking into a lengthy how-we-got-there; I’m hanging in, but it is a bit frustrating at times.]

    13. Bluebell*

      Finally read “Killers of a Certain Age” this week and loved it, and also “Lets Not do That Again” by Grant Ginder, who wrote The People We Hate at the Wedding. Liked it a lot. Also started Kindred because I watched the first two episodes on Hulu. And finally got Now is Not the Time to Panic from the library.

    14. Seashell*

      I’m reading Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng. I started it before, but wasn’t in the mood for it, but I’m liking it now.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Just devoured these. LOVE THEM and am now obsessed with the “yellow car” game! There’s a really nice longform interview with him in the NY T or New Yorker or somewhere (I found it by googling) which I’d recommend

    15. Fellow Traveller*

      I just finished Joan is Okay. I almost didn’t read this one because I didn’t care for Weike Wang’s first book, Chemistry. Thought it was kind of whiny and pointless. But i felt like I should read more writers of colour, especially as a child of Asian immigrants myself, so I gave this book a chance. Well, Joan is Okay was soooo much better then Chemistry. Some really great writing about what it means to be an immigrant and the American Dream. I don’t think it’s for everyone- the plot is kind of non-existent- but as a meditation on how we get where we are, I thought it was beautiful.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          Depending on what you liked about Chemistry, I would. It has that same kind of listless meandering, but I thought the heroine in this one had more focus and self-awareness. And I thought the writing in Joan is Okay was really good. It’s really ironically funny in parts. I thought I would like Chemistry because I’m always interested in stories of children of immigrants and the pressures they face, but I just kept wishing the main character would just stop whining and figure things out.

    16. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’m reading Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. I see that there’s also a movie from the book (called Cafe Funiculi Funicula) but I can’t find where to stream it from. Also I don’t know if I’ll like it because the book says that the cafe is old-fashioned and dimly lit in a windowless basement, so of course the trailer shows that it’s modern and brightly lit with lots of windows and skylights — so it makes me wonder how faithfully they represent the story in the book.

    17. Roland*

      I am having a bad reading month! DNF’d the last 3 novels I’ve picked up. One just wasn’t quite up my alley, one was interesting but too mediocre, and one was just evidence that, wow, there really is a reader for every book huh. For now I’m reading an ok short story collection, Allie Brosh’s second book, and The Anthropocene Reviewed here and there but I just really want a novel I can lose myself in for hours at a time. Ugh.

    18. StellaBella*

      I spent the weekend reading and just finished the 2nd and 3rd books by Jim Butcher about Harry Dresden the Wizard. Ordered two more online too, for holiday break next week. The books are about crime and the supernatural and i really enjoy them.

    19. Anono-me*

      As you like Sharon Shinn, you might also like Tanya Huff. She is a mostly contemporary fantasy author. I especially love the Vicki series. (FYI she is Canadian, so to me her books have a slightly different vibe than most American authors)

      1. Jackalope*

        Good to know. I will try to check her out! I’ve heard her name before but I’m pretty sure I haven’t read any of her books.

    20. ICodeForFood*

      I just finished “The Premonition” by Michael Lewis, non-fiction about the people (in the U.S.) who had a plan to deal with the pandemic and how the U.S. government and the CDC didn’t follow the plan. It’s non-fiction that reads like fiction–I’d definitely recommend it!

    21. allathian*

      I’ve been reading a lot of Felix Francis. Some of them I read for the first time, others were re-reads. I devoured the first 5 or so books, but I’m having some trouble with Guilty Not Guilty, it’s a bit of a slog for me. Which is a pity. My favorite so far has been Pulse, featuring Chris(tine) Rankin, MD. So far it’s the only Francis, either Felix or Dick, to feature a female protagonist, and someone who’s dealing with a debilitating mental illness on top of everything else.

  3. Aphrodite*

    I love my local BUY NOTHING group. A friend of a friend was trying very hard to sell a heavy, lovely and large buffet and matching dining table/chairs as well as a brand new, unused bed. She was quite stressed and distressed because she was also dealing with someone who had to be out of the home today and hadn’t bothered to look until a couple of days ago and was upset. (We live in the fifth most expensive city in the U.S. per the U.S. News & World Report so good luck to her.)

    Anyway, I helped by posting the items on my BN group and wow, they were snatched up immediately. People said they’d show up and they did right on time. Rebecca is very happy and relieved that none of the items will be going to the landfill. Hooray for re-using instead of trashing.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      My city has fabulous recycling and disposal services. All organic materials are picked up, they have 24 hour styrofoam drop off for on-site recycling, they have a textiles reuse and recycle program, etc. They then provide free black soil and mulch with that compost year round. More responsible consumerism is my New Year’s resolution. It feels so good to reduce, refuse and really start to reject as much as possible. My only challenge right now is convincing my father to stop giving me useless gifts which are always terrible to begin with. And are always A Thing.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Our city just discontinued our recycling program. It pains me greatly to throw away things can be recycled. I still keep opening the back door looking for the recycle bin.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Sometimes I have annoying experiences with BN and my new group isn’t as great as my old one, but overall it’s an incredible resource and I don’t know what I did before it. (Actually I do. It wasn’t pretty.) It helped me clear out SO MUCH in my last move — stuff I held onto because I didn’t want to be wasteful or it might be useful someday or I don’t know where to give it anyway etc. My mom passed recently and I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to trash/donate all that without BN.

      Your friend was lucky she could find a taker fast for the buffet and dining set — those can be tricky. Big furniture isn’t always easy to get rid of anymore. At least around me, where people can’t afford larger homes.

    3. bratschegirl*

      Seconding Buy Nothing groups! I have found takers for pretty much everything I’ve put on mine, and gotten some great things as well. It’s a really great way to make people feel more connected. At the height of the baby formula shortage, a mom posted about her supply getting low and group members were practically tripping over each other to offer their extras, asking what kind she needed and saying they would go buy some for her, etc. Pretty darn heartwarming.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yes, I love these groups. Mine is Freecycle with the same concept. I’ve given lots of stuff away and also received things I was looking for. I agree with another poster that it can create a sense of community. On one occasion, I went to pick up an item and the person giving it away initiated a conversation. We ended up talking for a long time, and ultimately I became friends with her and her husband.

      1. Filosofickle*

        My BN group used to encourage this specifically — do in-person handoffs instead of porch pickups to create opportunities to meet and talk. I loved those interactions! With the pandemic we shifted exclusively to porch pickup and I don’t think we’ll go back. It’s so much simpler this way (less coordination/timing) but we have lost that piece.

    5. WellRed*

      I love my Buy Nothing group. I’ve given away so many things that would have gone into trash. And most people are really responsible about picking up, not ghosting.

    6. A Becky*

      I’ve been the other side of this – I got a beautiful, solid wood whole-wall cupboard, matching sideboard, 4/6 seater table, coffee table, plywood bed and 4 dining chairs for the €60 it took to hire a van to move them.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      Our local BN is so flaky! I love the concept, but just can’t anymore with the ghosting, the “I can’t come today, can you bring it to me instead?” and the people who respond that they’d like the item, but do I have it in blue instead?

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I use Nextdoor for the same thing and I just ended up being savage. “FCFS, no holding beyond a day,” and I leave the item in my driveway or front step. Don’t pick it up in time? Off to the next.

        1. Clisby*

          I just put stuff out by the curb a week before our regular bulk pickup and then advertise it on our neighborhood FB group. Somebody always takes it.

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          That’s how I do it too. I’m giving it away for free, even if it might have some value, specifically because I don’t want the hassle. It’s on the curb; take it or don’t.

          In my broke student days, I got all my furniture this way, for the price of hiring some guy with a pickup to go get the item (they also advertise on Craigslist, one-stop shopping). Now I’m a much less broke adult who might voluntarily replace a worn but still useful item. I’m happy to pay it forward, especially when it’s also the easiest option for getting rid of spare furniture.

    8. Your Computer Guy*

      I made significant progress on cleaning out my garage by listing stuff for free on craigslist (which is still reasonably active in my area). I’d do a little back and forth first, get a time/date/basic info before sending the address and just putting stuff out in the driveway for pickup. Feels good to get rid of stuff.

    9. time for cocoa*

      That’s fantastic! These groups are so different, area to area. My old town was great, my new one not so much. I gave up after three tries of sitting in parking lots for a no-show. I want to be eco-friendly, but spending hours to do favors for other people and have them stand me up in the process is infuriating.

      1. WellRed*

        When I’m selling stuff I make more of an effort at customer service but for the freebies, they can come get it.

    10. Ashloo*

      I’m so jealous. Our BN group in central Ohio is more trouble than it’s worth. The people who do come have been wonderful, but 80% of my experience in the group has been no-shows. I drive anything I possibly can to a thrift store instead.

    11. Missb*

      I love posting stuff there. I mostly list small stuff – I could take it to goodwill, but it’s often easier to have things picked up. Folks are very polite- if they end up not being able to pick up, they message and let me know to pass it along to the next person.

    12. Chilipepper attitude*

      I’m looking for a local but nothing group. Is it only on FB? I’m not on the bookface. Is there another way to join?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Buy Nothing is said to be developing an independent app so check out their website. I haven’t looked into it yet myself, but I sure have things to give away that have built up since I gave up on fb.

  4. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Everyone share what games you’ve been playing this week. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I once again have been grinding away at Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. Once I get the characters to certain levels then that will carry forward into NG+ games so I’m working hard at that.

    1. Nyssa*

      My GW2 guild had our annual Wintersday party tonight. Lots of people drinking some spirits, having lots of laughs, and a ton if games in the guild hall courtesy of the officers’ imaginations – drunk run, skiff race, bunny jump, death darts, beetle mount skee ball…and a ton of prizes.

    2. Ariaflame*

      I started playing Hades this week. Only a few more deaths before I can get the pet cerebus achievement.

    3. DarthVelma*

      The partner and I tried out Tribes of Midgard last night. It was fun enough that I’m going to give it some more time today to see if it’s going to be a thing we do. :-)

      I like the art style a lot, but there are a couple things with the game play and UI that I need to figure out if I can get used to or not.

    4. Amcb13*

      Cult of the Lamb—for folks who have enjoyed Hades, this is scratching a similar itch of part button mashing critter fights and part home base improvement. (And for those wondering, as I initially was, the lamb in question is literally a fleecy lil sheep. It is not affiliated with or commenting on an actual religion as far as I can tell. It’s very silly and cute in a dark way; you get different kinds of monster/animal followers, who want to marry you/be sacrificed/foster dissent as the case may be.)

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Civilization 6. I’m trying to win on every single nation. I found Scotland, Rome and China to be the easiest and Egypt, Canada and Poland to be the hardest.

      I still have to try Alexander the Great, the Māori and the Aztecs.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        There’s Canada?? I must be missing that expansion. I love Civ 6 and live in Canada so I’d better get this one!

    6. Junior Dev*

      I started playing a 2 player video game called Ship of Fools where you play as little anthropomorphic sea creatures fighting off monsters. It’s very cute and a fun thing to do with friends.

    7. just+another+bureaucrat*

      I bought some physical card decks and have been trying to learn new solitaire games. Four Seasons is the one I’m liking the best right now, it’s got a pretty tight layout which is helpful, it’s also not a lot of moving giant stacks of cards around.

    8. Jackalope*

      Oh, I forgot. My D&D DM put together a murder mystery for us that we just started and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Can’t wait to see where it goes. None of us who run tend to have the mental energy to put something like that together, so it’s a pleasant change from the stuff we normally do.

    9. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      I have lately been obsessed with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I cannot put it down, it’s so nice!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Eve has stopped caring about the tree entirely! This is the same cat who, when she was a kitten, conquered a device called Tree Defender that was supposed to keep her from climbing the tree; we found her sleeping on top of the Tree Defender like a shelf, having easily bypassed it. But I don’t think she’s done more than glance at the tree this year.

        1. Heffalump*

          What’s that guitar music in the video, and who’s performing it? Not the genre I normally listen to, but nice stuff.

    1. Pamela Adams*

      I’m glad to find it was a string. I thought she was shooting lasers.

      My older kitties preferred sleeping under trees to climbing them. I think they were camping.

  5. Cat Bowl That Doesn't Feed Rodents?*

    Does anyone have a good trick to keep mice out of a cat’s bowl? My cat free-feeds, and at her age and current weight, I don’t want to restrict her eating in any way. However, we’re dealing with the first real cold snap here, which is when all the rodents in the neighborhood try to move into my house. My cat is not a mouser at all, and in fact I’ve caught her passively cleaning her paws while a mouse eats her kibble before. I just found signs of another mouse around her eating area. Is there a good bowl, or a set-up you recommend? Mice, in my experience, can climb, swim, and fit anywhere. (I will also pursue all the usual anti-mouse efforts in the meanwhile).

    1. Double A*

      It’s not cheap, but a microchip feeder would keep them out. The food would always be covered unless your cat is eating (other than a few stray bits that might get kicked out that you’d need to clean up daily).

        1. Double A*

          Hm, I have one and I really can’t see how a mouse would get in? A plastic shield slides over the bowl and there aren’t any gaps. I tried lifting it and there’s not enough give to make a gap. I have the Surefeed brand.

          1. curly sue*

            It depends how much the cat enjoys the mice’s company. I had a microchip feeder to keep my younger cat out of my senior cat’s specialized kidney diet, and discovered that older cat was triggering the bowl lid to open, then stepping aside so that younger cat could eat.

            They’re very cool systems, but still have to work with the fact that cats are unpredictable little jerks.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I was going to suggest a microchip feeder too, but given the cat’s apparent equanimity to mice, it might let them get into the dish while it’s eating – and if the lid closes on the mouse when the cat walks away, you might wind up with a desperate mouse stuck inside… though whether it would chew through the plastic to get out or just finish off all the kibble and have a nap I couldn’t say!

        If your cat can jump at all, maybe set up a raised feeding station? Maybe add baffles or sticky-tape around the legs to discourage the mice? [Sticky enough to be annoying, not sticky like those appalling glue-traps {shudder}.]

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      In all honesty the way we got rid of the mice was with a second, younger cat (and a third, fourth, and fifth for that matter – it’s a long story). Otherwise I think your best bet might be putting the food bowl away at night when they’re more likely to come out and maybe switching to a higher-calorie diet to make up for the decrease

    3. But not the Hippopotamus*

      I was also thinking about a microchip feeder. We have one cat who believes in eating ALL THE TIME and will double their body weight in a month if free-fed. We have another who needs to free-feed and have a medical diet. I actually got a microchip cat door and put it on a large plastic storage bin (with air holes!!) to feed the free-feeding cat from (the other cat can get aggressive around food, so a separate “room” helps here). This might have the advantage of limiting potential spread of crumbs and reduce the drift of odors. The disadvantage is that it takes up a lot of space and you have to make it. Good luck!

    4. Gnome*

      I was just saw a cat bowl on Amazon that was called something like “step and feed” where the cat has to step on a part to open the food. That might work.

  6. GF rolls or rotis or such*

    I really could use a good reliable recipe for a gluten-free roti or dinner roll or (American) biscuit or anything of that sort to serve with a vegetarian soup, which is a common dinner for us.

    I’ve tried and failed with numerous roti recipes … sometimes a recipe will work once but not again and sometimes they flop the first time out. “Flop” could mean the inside is gooey or the batter is super messy to work with or the taste or texture is off or it’s way too much effort for what you end up with. All the GF cooking blogs make big promises about their flatbreads and such, but I don’t believe them any more.

    For ingredients, I have BRM 1:1 GF blend and various GF flours, starches, psyllium, and all that sort of thing (but I can’t eat millet or sorghum). Ideally I’d be able to fix this while the soup is cooking.

    Has anyone figured this out?

    1. giraffe spots*

      I’d use socca – a chickpea flour based pancake. I like David Lebovitz’s recipe. I think he calls for baking it in a hot oven, I fry mine like crepes. I also like that the chickpea flour is both protein and fibre rich.

      1. GF rolls or rotis or such*

        I have besan flour on hand but not specifically chickpea flour. Are they interchangeable for making socca?

      1. GF rolls or rotis or such*

        Do you make the ATK GF flour blend or do you use a purchased blend and if so, which one? This recipe is from 2014 and their suggested alternatives, King Arthur and BRM, have much different GF blends now.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I sometimes use GF corn tortillas (good quality from the deli, natural ingredients and big packs that freeze well) and shallow fry till crispy. The oil helps prevent them from sogging out when scooping up soup.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        As a person who lives in a city with a large Mexican population – corn tortillas should always be gluten-free. The ingredients are corn, water, salt, and lime juice.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Sure, but if the corn tortillas are commercially made, they’re not necessarily produced in a flour-free environment. So if cross-contamination is a concern, getting corn tortillas that explicitly say they’re GF matters.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If I recall, my gluten-intolerant friends have had luck using GF AP flour and the Serious Eats drop biscuit recipe. (I know I love it but I’ve only ever done it using standard flour.) It’s a very flexible recipe – I’ve added various cheese, herbs and spices (including a version of the Red Lobster biscuits) and it’s always turned out lovely.

    4. Meh*

      Does your diet allow for cheese? Brazilian cheese bread is gluten free and delicious. Tons of recipes for Pão de Queijo. Zip it in a blender and pour into muffin tins. I prefer a really neutral oil like avocado.

    5. Redhairrunner*

      I have been making a lot of moong dal chilla, which are just mung beans, water and seasoning. Every batch has held together wonderfully and only took a few minutes to make. Plus they are full of protein. I will post a link to the recipe I have used below.

    6. Tex*

      Try Indian dosa crepe recipes. If you are close to a south asian grocery store, they might have the dry mix in a box.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I so feel you on the trials and errors of gf bread making! My favourite and most fool proof bread dough is the gf take on the weight watchers dough where you combine flour and yoghurt to make a yeasty flavour profile, and manageable dough with just two ingredients. You end up with a very nice puffy pitta or soft pizza base depending on how much yoghurt. I use Doves flour (as I’m in the UK) but the site I got the recipe from is American and insists on either cup 4 cup or Better Batter (which can also be mocked up if you have the ingredients). Here: https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/weight-watchers-gluten-free-pizza/

    8. GFRoti*

      Do you have an Indian grocery store near you? The one near me has gluten free roti in the frozen section and it’s not bad! I live in an area with a huge Indian population though and the Indian grocery store is massive so YMMV depending on where you live.

    9. 00ff00Claire*

      For an American biscuit, have you tried the BRM biscuit mix or gluten free Bisquick mix? I have used both of those multiple times and have always been successful making fluffy biscuits / drop biscuits with them. The BRM directions say to roll the dough out and fold it onto itself, but I ignore that part and just pat the dough into biscuit shapes. The Bisquick dough is pretty wet, so their directions say to make them as drop biscuits and that’s how I do it.

      Aldi also has a line of GF products that includes a biscuit & baking mix. I have not used it, but my mom uses for pancakes and they turn out fine!

      Also – I like BRM 1:1 for things like muffins, pancakes, and cornbread. I’ve found it doesn’t work as well for things that are more finicky, like cookies or pizza dough. I’ve had better success using Authentic Foods brand products, especially with cookies. Their pizza dough mix makes wonderful GF crust, but unfortunately that one has millet. I have not yet tried their products for breads other than pizza dough, but based on how well the things I have tried turned out, I’m planning to order more of their flours and mixes and try some new things. So, although I can’t personally recommend a specific recipe of theirs, I have had a good enough experiences with their products that I think they are worth looking into and might be helpful to you. Good luck – GF baking is a journey for sure!

    10. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian Cheese balls would probably fit your needs! You can also leave the cheese out. The recipe from Simply Recipes (the first that came up in my google) looks almost identical to the one I was given by a Brazilian friend. You can also find these in many grocery stores’ frozen sections in my area, even Costco now, despite not having a large Brazilian population here, so you might find them too!

  7. Parking Spot Fury*

    I live in a neighborhood where all street parking is public parking. Our driveway can fit three cars and then curbside parking is up for grabs. Everyone parks in front of everyone else’s house. When my partner and I have parties, we can’t park everyone in our driveway or on our curb so we tell them to park wherever. It’s the same with our neighbors, we frequently have cars we don’t know parked in front of our house when they’re having gatherings and it doesn’t bother us.

    Tonight we had a gathering, and before the party even started, we had two neighbor cars on ‘our’ curb. No big deal, we tell our friends to find parking where they can. A friend came in and said she was screamed at by one of our neighbors for parking on ‘their’ curb because her husband needed to park there (never mind that their driveway can fit three cars and they only have two). If she had nicely ask my friend, my friend would have happily moved, even though they don’t actually have the authority to tell people not to park there, but the screaming was truly unnecessary.

    The last thing I wanted is to get in a dumb parking war with neighbors I don’t interact with, so likely the best thing to do is just leave it alone and tell my friends not to park there. But I also kinda want to leave a note that says ‘you can’t claim parking but if you ask nicely rather than scream at my guests, they’ll be happy to comply’. Anyone else encountered this before?

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yes! The worst neighbors I ever had would make these claims of their curbs and the best thing you can do is go about your life as you would normally. Don’t go out of your way to park there or not park there. Do not engage. If they leave notes on your car, don’t return their message in any way. I got very good at pretending I didn’t know she was standing there screaming at me. I carried on with phone calls, I giggled with dates while holding hands and kissing, I welcomed guests who parked in front of her house as if it were a silent peaceful day. She eventually tired. Once she tripped over herself and it was hard to pretend like I didn’t see it.

    2. Dibs*

      Tuesday night someone parked in front of my neighbor’s house. He has these tall orange poles marking “his” curb parking spot which is actually not his but a public space. For some reason he somehow drove onto the sidewalk and onto the public grassy area and parked his car pointed to the offending car in retaliation. It makes no sense as the car that parked there was not impacted at all. The car was not from our block but likely a visitor visiting someone who lives on our block, cause we all know he is a nut with parking. A neighbor went over to talk to him but he still did not move the car. Totally insane. Of course we live in the number one city for dibs as well But this takes the cake.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        That kind of over the top jerk behaviour..? Where I live, I would be so tempted to anonymously report his orange poles to our local city council. Because our council are just as insane rules maniacs that would read him the riot act for daring to claim public property, probably issue a fine, and would ruthlessly monitor him for years afterwards.

        I used to live in a small apartment complex with little parking, and there was an unspoken understanding about who parked where in the (one way, top of a hill) street. If visitors were there and they took your spot, well that’s just life. Reasonable people deal with it.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’ve been the person scolded for parking in front of someone else’s house a few times. It’s always unpleasant and I know they don’t “technically” have the right to do this, but I do generally move just to make peace. At least one time, the person who asked me was elderly and said she needed the close spot.

      1. WellRed*

        Yep. I know who among my neighbors doesn’t like it and respect it as much as possible. I will admit, though, I hate it when someone unknown parks at my curb for several days (like, they didn’t want to pay for airport parking or something).

        1. Workerbee*

          In the city I moved to, you have to call some department every night if you plan to park overnight on the street – anywhere in the city, quiet neighborhoods or somewhat pastoral environs notwithstanding. Otherwise I think they are very happy to make money off parking tickets and towing.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Apparently it’s considered a security thing –no possibility of abandoned or undriveable cars, less chance of crime. Not sure I follow the reasoning on that last because few houses in my old neighborhood even had garages.

              Also makes sure street is clear as planned for nighttime maintenance, snowplowing, and early am trash pickup.

        2. Flowers*

          ugh – someone in one of my groups was asking if they could pay to park their car in someone’s driveway while they travelled b/c they wanted to avoid paying the steep airport parking fees. Someone suggested that they just park at a random curb – it set off a quite a bit of sniping on both sides.

    4. KatEnigma*

      Don’t ask your friends not to park there. You might want to warn them that this neighbor is bat guano, but since it’s public parking, there is no way I’d ask my friends to avoid it. Warn them and let them decide.

      The jerks of the world get away with their crap mainly because other people think giving in to them will make things smoother- when they almost always just escalate to other inappropriate things.

      1. Anono-me*

        Strongly agree with giving visitors a heads up.
        Long ago and far away, I had a BF with neighbor like that. Eventually people parking in front of his homr had a ‘no air’ flat tire, then a slashed tire, then several slashed tires. People acting mean and banana pants don’t always stop escalating.

    5. fposte*

      Yup, from the asker’s side, even. I lived in the upper floor of a two-flat over the landlord, and his very nice but very naive girlfriend used to tell people they couldn’t park in front of the house because she wanted to keep the space clear for his truck. I’ll also note that this building had a garage and a driveway, albeit a partially shared one, so he didn’t even need to park on the street (and also didn’t care), and that it was a very roomy parkable street (I parked on the street every night, usually in front of the house next door). I did alert her that she was incorrect and that that was actually pretty extra; I don’t know if she fully accepted it or not.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I have been screamed at by people possessed by territorial nonsense! I used to live on a square where only a couple of people had driveways, and my own house was in the corner. The two houses either side had driveways which touched each other, so I had no curb space outside my house at all and had to park elsewhere on the square; this was fine, as it simply meant walking a few extra yards and all houses had a good view of the whole square. The house with the most frontage (about three car spaces wide) was most often free, and she only had one car. It was closest to me, so even if you think the rule is about parking as close as you can to your own house – well I was doing just that! Thing is, she absolutely detested me parking within a yard of her house, even if she had two car spaces to park her own vehicle in. She once rapped on my window as I was parking and told me to block my neighbouring driveways instead (this is illegal in the UK). Another time she told me she needed the extra space for safety reasons (?!!) because she
      was a woman who worked shifts (so… exactly like me!!). One time she just opened her front door and screamed obscenities at me after I parked up. I just looked at her like she was fascinating and walked past. Another time she called an ambulance for her mother who was visiting and she sent her surly brother around to ask me to me move my car. I was like: “of course!” I didn’t even bother to point out that you could have gotten two ambulances in front of their gate; because you don’t quibble when a neighbour asks you to move for an ambulance! She and her brother waited for the ambulance outside while glowering at me. They didn’t look in the slightest bit worried about their mother, just grim and dusapproving. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever seen her. She didn’t care at all that I had moved when asked. You simply can’t do anything for people like this. They are dying for you to engage so they can take their rage out on someone besides retail staff. The truly odd thing was it hadn’t become a problem until my ex moved out.

    7. Chestnut Mare*

      The guy who lived across from my kids’ school hated when teachers parked legally on the street outside his house. He went so far as to ask that it be designated a no-parking zone, then was enraged he got tickets for parking there himself.

    8. Missb*

      My neighborhood has narrow streets, no sidewalks, and not much in the way of street parking. When folks throw huge parties, their guests tend to park in one of the lanes, reducing the street to a one-lane road. When someone has an estate sale, same thing happens.

      My neighbor just slightly up the hill had a house on one acre. Her property bordered three streets and the layout of her house/property allowed for parking along all three streets in front of her house. Which would be fine for someone who throws a lot of parties, but she never even had a guest, let alone 10. Half of her property also had a pull-through driveway that started on one street and came out on another street.

      I have a relative that lives across from one side of the property. There are no garbage cans, driveways or anything over there. My relative’s nanny or parents would show up and often park in the public right-of-way along the neighbor’s property. Neighbor would consistently throw a fit. They even screamed at the nanny once. Utterly nuts. I could understand if they were actually blocking access to anything, or otherwise harming the area, but it was literally public space.

      Thankfully that neighbor moved, and the property sold.

    9. Flowers*

      Oh gosh this si bringing me back –

      When I lived in my previous home, parking was a nightmare. Everyone had driveways but most of the driveways (including mine) were inexplicably tiny. Like, you could park but you would risk scratching the sides and would be unable to open teh door more than 2-3 inches. I mean I guess cars in the 1930s were much smaller than a 4-door sedan? Idk. Anyways, tiny driveways and each home had multiple cars (a lot of legal or illegal “apartments”) so street parking was a nightmare.

      I had a next door neighbor who had a food truck. He parked his BBQ grill and sometimes food truck right in front of my house. The area in front of his house was reserved for HIS massive car. Yes I rolled my eyes but knowing that it was technically public parking I said nothing. I saw people parking their cars next to fire hydrants, underneath “no parking” signs, and vertically parking in front of their driveways where the car was half on the street and half on the sidewalk. Neighbors would claim their spots with orange cones. Of course we could never “claim” the spot in front of our house because BBQ grill/food truck.

      One morning we found that the side of our car was dented; someone had been making a left turn and likely drunk and or overspeeding and slammed into our car. Another time, two trucks were speeding down our road in the opposite directions and somehow they ended up totalling both of our cars.

      When we were looking for a new home, a useable driveway was my top 3. My house is 1 of 3 on a small street so there’s plenty of parking. No issues with neighbors but sometimes I will see a car parked right in front of my house and it makes me a little nervous for some reason.

      Idk about anyone else but for me, parking is a huge quality of life issue for me. Knowing that if I ever left my house after 2 PM I would end up circling for seemingly hours is something I did not want to do.

  8. Told Ya So!*

    How do you shut down ‘I told you so’ comments in the moment?

    Years ago, I started working towards a goal that was a large risk to me (although small in reality) and I recently decided to abandon it. I told two of my friends last month- one was great but one made a ‘we were expecting this’/’I told you so’ comment. I made the mistake of trying to explain my decision making which was met with a response of ‘just say you hated the goal’- which is not true and caused me to get pretty upset.

    Have spent some time thinking about this and while I love my large group of friends, I’ve noticed they (like some others) can be quite negative about change while I enjoy it. This can lead to a lot of doubt when someone tries something new and inevitably these ‘told you so’ comments if it doesn’t pan out. I am very aware these comments have much more to do with their own stuff than me but doesn’t make it any easier to hear esp. as my instinct is to get very defensive when I know I don’t need to explain myself.

    This comes up outside of my close friends in other situations as well so pulling everyone aside and explaining why it’s not nice to say ‘I told you so’ isn’t an option. Would love any curt but polite line suggestions to ideally shut this down in the moment. (I also believe no one is perfect and the people I’m around are great 95% of the time so I’m not interested in cutting off those who do this)

    1. giraffe spots*

      I think the insight that you like change while others don’t is valuable. If it were me, I would worry less about explaining why, and just try to keep the responses light & breezy. If people want to be right: let them. “Yup, you were right!”, said cheerily. Maybe followed with “can you help me pick lotto numbers” or something semi-joking.

    2. Double A*

      How about, “I’m glad I tried.” So you say something like, “After a couple of years trying to master llama grooming, I’ve realized it’s not for me but I love all the time I got to spend with the llamas! I’m so glad I tried it.” Then it’s clear that the journey was enjoyable even if the end point ended up different than you expected.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Actually I really like this, even as a rejoinder :

        THEM: I told you so!!
        YOU: Well, I’m glad I tried it.

        I’m going to try to use this when I go home for the holidays, as someone whose career just took *another* turn, much to the dismay of my relatives I’m sure.

    3. But what to call me?*

      Casual but confident in your decisions (both to try it in the first place and to change your mind once it was clear it wasn’t working out) might be an effective response, like ‘eh, it was worth a try, but you’ve got to know when to change course/cut your losses/call it quits/whatever it is you did that prompted the ‘I told you so’. You’re acknowledging that 1) yeah, you took a risk, 2) as sometimes happens with risks, it didn’t go the way you wanted it to go, and 3) this disappointment does not, in fact, mean that taking a risk was a terrible idea and you now seriously regret not listening to the I-told-you-so-ers.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Close friends: “Well, that’s a crappy thing to say.”

      Not so close friends: “Thanks for the input.” (Said the drier, the better).

      1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        I also use the “thanks for your input” lines. Also works well for unwanted advice: “thanks for the suggestion” and unwanted opinions “thanks for your feedback”. Another option for OP would be a simple “it didn’t work out but I have no regrets”

      2. FashionablyEvil*

        Yeah, I’d also use the, “Well that’s an unkind and unhelpful thing to say,” for people you know well/who are consistently obnoxious about this sort of thing.

        1. fposte*

          I think you could even, with the right people (I’m thinking siblings immediately), go with an eyerolly “Thanks, that was super-helpful.”

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I would personally find that kind of comment so rude and unsupportive coming from a supposed friend that I would be pretty blunt in response.

      “I told you so!”

      “Well, I wasn’t seeking your permission to go do Thing and I’m not asking for your blessing to give it up now. Just updating you on where I’m at. So, how is [subject change]?”

    6. mreasy*

      It sounds like they may be having fear-based reactions to change? If you can be as breezy as possible in this type of conversation – “well, X didn’t work out after all, turns out that I loved doing it but couldnt commit the time” or whatever, that will shut down their response options. Or if they say “we didn’t think it would work” just reply that you knew it was a risk but you’re glad you tried for A and B reasons. Maybe your resilience will have a positive influence on them?

    7. Sloanicota*

      This is my whole life! I have a weirdly high tolerance for risk because I always want to try things even if I may not like them. I don’t consider something a “failure” necessarily if I tried it and it didn’t work. More like an experiment. But, there are a lot of people with the mentality that all change is scary and only wild success can serve as protection from the audacity of taking a chance. I just let it go honestly.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        THIS! I always have such a hard time with risk averse folks.
        Nothing ventured nothing gained!

      2. allathian*

        Yes, that’s it, speaking as a very risk-averse person. I have more sense now than say “I told you so” to anyone who decides to make a change that I’m sure will fail, even if I’ll probably think it. For me at least, it’s mostly envy. I don’t generally take risks unless I’m forced to do so by circumstances, and I rather envy those who are less risk-averse than I am.

    8. So over some types*

      This is probably too snarky for most situations -but given that the negative Told You So types are more invested in their righteousness than your feelings to begin with – “You sure did! I am so glad you have something in your life.” And then walk away like you are exiting a bad dramedy. Because people like that either learn to keep it to themselves or…don’t. Might as well have your own fun.

      1. Chilipepper attitude*

        Idk if your take is rude or escalating but I love it!!

        I think it would be stronger if said with sincerity and not snark. Like you are genuinely happy that since they are risk and new things avoidant, they have a hobby — telling others “I told you so.”

        Pretend you don’t know what they said was snarky.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I go with something like: “I’m not afraid of things not working out. You know what they say, ‘If you’ve never failed, then you’ve never tried anything new’ “. Possibly they are not the best audience for post-risk dissections? If I absolutely had to speak about a misfire, I might even make a point of saying upfront “I know you think the best move would have been to not try at all but I think …”

    10. JSPA*

      Include in your original messaging, “I’m so glad I gave it a solid try, wouldn’t change a thing!”

      People who feel bad about trying stuff that doesn’t work out (or who think something is a failure if it’s not kept up forever) are very common, and they’ll default to that assumption for everyone else, as well. If you want them to make room for, “but happy to have had a go,” you need to provide them with that script from the outset.

      But also…friends (real ones) are allowed to have foreseen that something was unlikely to be a good long-term hobby / prospect / side hustle / relationship for you. Feeling too known, seen and understood isn’t always comfortable, but I’d say it’s the mark of a real friendship, as opposed to “friend group membership.”

      I get that asking you to denigrate your goal isn’t making you feel seen or understood, though!

      So we’re back at option 1 (the, “if it isn’t a forever thing, dump on it collectively by way of showing support” mindset). People who dump on your ex when you break up, and then are rattled to find you’re still friends, are in the same category.

      1. Told Ya So!*

        Sure everyone has their thoughts and opinions about people- very well allowed and me included- but responding in a ‘I told you so’ tone isn’t necessary or kind. A friend could very easily just as well said ‘that’s unfortunate, How did you come to this decision? I had suspected this could be the outcome from what you’d told me’ which has a totally different connotation than ‘i knew this would happen’.

        1. Chilipepper attitude*

          Exactly told ya so! It is not just that the people saying things like that are risk averse, it’s the rudeness inherent in saying I told you so.

        2. JSPA*

          Sure, which is why in this particular case, we’re back at case 1, not case 2.

          But this isn’t about just the one friend. It’s about the whole group. It’s so very easy to hear “I told you so”–from people who literally did tell you so– even when they say, “well, not a completely unexpected risk, I suppose, so how are you feeling?”. So, as well as pointing people in the right direction in telling them, it’s also useful to resolve, wherever possible, to prepare one’s own ears.

          Round the more ambiguous responses up to “reasonably supportive and concerned for my welfare” rather than down to, “people who are so glad to be right that they want me to crap on my own dreams.” Don’t prioritize the little voice in your head reminding you that they warned you, and that this means they didn’t wish you well.

          Wishing someone well and cheering them on for a specific goal are not synonymous.

    11. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “Yes, you sure did tell me! I’ll tell you what, I am so glad I tried it. Life would be so boring if I only did things that I was 100% confident would succeed. I really enjoy change and trying new things. How about subject change

    12. I don’t post often*

      Five years ago husband and I made a life decision to work towards a BIG goal. It was a “public” decision meaning everyone knew. There were many naysayers. Well…. The pandemic changed the world in many ways, including the way people that have the goal we had to about it. In January of this year, we realized this… just wasn’t going to work out.
      awe announced this decision in August. Anyone that said “I told you so” is simply not counted as a friend, and I therefore don’t have to listen or care about their opinion.
      Example. “Thing isn’t going to work out.” “You knew that wasn’t a good idea, I’m not sure why you couldn’t just be happy. So much money down the drain.” “I don’t consider it wasted money for X and y reason. How is hobby going?”
      And that’s it. These are not people I depend on anymore.
      (And in our case, yes. Thousands of dollars invested. It’s gone. I’m not sorry. It was worth every penny.).

    13. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      Ugh. Even as a fairly negative person, I hate “I told you so!” It’s just so dismissive. You at least tried something new, which is an accomplishment! You found out that you don’t like x thing, or it just didn’t work for you; there’s nothing wrong or bad about that, I think. You learned something new, and that’s great!

      I am also nthing “I’m glad I tried!” I actually said that after trying real sushi for the first time just this year and finding out that it’s a Cursed Texture (a phrase my friends and I (we’re all neurodiverse) coined amongst ourselves) for me. At least I tried a new thing.

    14. TallGuy*

      Oof. Honestly, I wish I could tell you to come back with a witty, sarcastic comeback (ex., “I’m glad you’re so supportive of me”), but that usually only gets applause in movies and on the bird site whose name we dare not speak.

      Actually, something like a relatively chilly “Thanks for your concern,” and immediately terminating the interaction or changing the subject can work – it doesn’t sound like these people are normally obtuse, just that they messed up in this instance. Sometimes, the best course of strategy is to not engage them.

      On the other hand…now that I’m reading over it again, it does seem like this particular thing is a blind spot for this group? Maybe they’re great otherwise, but not the people you talk about moonshots with.

  9. not so excited*

    So, how do you stop yourself from being disappointed about nice things, when they’re just not quite nice enough? For example, tonight I won a door prize. Winning a prize! Exciting! Except … I didn’t really like the prize. (assorted savory snacks). So, I feel a bit not happy. How do you cope when what is supposed to be fun or good doesn’t make you feel happy? I’m talking only minor things here, nothing major.

      1. Porch Screens*

        This sentiment right here! I just try to be grateful that I was lucky enough to win a thing or that someone cared enough to take even a smidgen of time, effort, and money to get me a gift. If it’s something that isn’t to my own personal tastes (honestly, I’d probably be right there with OP on the savory snacks) or something I don’t have a use/need for, then I can always give/gift it to someone else or donate it :)

      2. PostalMixup*

        Agreed! I won golf balls in a company raffle. I do not golf. So now my stepdad is getting an extra Christmas present.

    1. RagingADHD*

      If I feel like I’m having an outsized amount of disappointment or frustration over something that I intellectually know is minor, I think about what my original expectations were, where they might have come from, and what associations might be giving it so much emotional significance.

      Sometimes I realize the thing is actually pretty important. Usually I figure out that it symbolizes something else that is the real cause of my feelings.

      1. OtterB*

        This. I find that disproportionate feelings (with me it’s usually anger, but true for disappointment too) are usually tapping into something else, and it can be useful to identify what.

        Or, maybe I’m just tired/hungry.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Hahah your last line! I was totally with you on the deeper meaning … EXCEPT during a few days out of the month, haha. Then I probably just needed to go lie down.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I love the thing that says if you feel like you hate everybody, eat something, and if you feel like everybody hates you, take a nap. Recently I came across someone’s addition — If you feel like everyone hates everyone, go outside, and if you feel like you hate yourself, take a shower.

            1. OtterB*

              “If you feel like everyone hates everyone, go outside.” Berkeley Breathed recently reposted on Facebook the original 1982 Bloom County comic of Opus watching TV news and turning it off to go take a dandelion break. I have loved Opus’s dandelion breaks for what is apparently 40 years.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It happens to me a lot with gifts, I’m apparently hard to buy presents for. (I acknowledge this and try to help by not buying myself anything after November 1, I just put stuff on my wishlist instead – in addition to Christmas, my birthday is also today.) But people try to go off my wishlist and wing it and usually miss the mark in one way or another.

      I try to remember that it’s the thought that counts (and hopefully they were close enough that I can work with that) and then after all the gifting is done, I go home and buy myself something good off my wishlist. :)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree, I used to feel weirdly upset by birthdays because I would get hyped up at the idea of presents and then it’s usually like, a sweatshirt and a mug, both of which were thoughtfully chosen with love, but if I’m not careful I’ll overthink it. Now my tradition is to secretly order something for myself – to splurge! a bit – and give myself that feeling of giddy commercialism for a moment. Then I can be properly grateful for the love and attention even if I didn’t really need a new mug.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I embrace commercialism, gifting is my ”spoken” love language – in my house, I give my boys gifts from both dogs individually, the cats jointly, Sanna Paws, the Trismas Yeti, and Sasha the Christmas Tiger. (I made up the Trismas Yeti – Trismas is a chosen family celebration, on Christmas Eve or whenever you can get together, where you eat Chinese food, drink an old-fashioned, watch Die Hard, and open gifts – but just borrowed Sasha, but she’s a hoot if you Google her.)

          So I always end up getting myself gifts from Sanna Paws, the Yeti and Sasha, so I know that there are going to be at least three things I really want under the Trismas Garland.

      2. Your Computer Guy*

        My wife had this problem with me. I told her, just absolve me of the guilt of buying something for myself. So now I order things (mostly computer/networking equipment/toys) and declare “this is my Xmas/birthday gift.”
        With my mother we just settled on cash.
        My in-laws are “real gift” people, so I pick things I wouldn’t want to spend money on but would benefit from a better version of, like a vacuum cleaner or blender or new pillows.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Let yourself be upset for a little bit and then figure out a plan and move on. My in-laws (who have known me for 20+ years) recently sent me, a foodie, a fruit basket from Amazon. It had decidedly mediocre fruit (including lemons and limes! Who puts lemons and limes in a fruit basket?!) that I could have purchased at my local produce mart for $10. I didn’t want to be disappointed (a present! how thoughtful!) but geez. Definitely took me a bit to get over the unripe pineapple, bruised gala apple, and mealy oranges.*

      *I’m over it! I swear! Also, pro tip: don’t buy fruit baskets off Amazon.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Omg. I would have a really hard time with that too. Incidentally, I was trying to find fruit baskets online last year sourced from Florida (why send something across the country if you don’t have to?), and I kept running into companies that were doing the Amazon approach. One of the baskets even had bananas. Like, imported grocery store bananas.

        1. Pudding*

          If you still have a Florida fruit basket need…Hale Groves is pretty good. Most of the fruit is citrus and I suspect the non-citrus might come from out of state, but they have a nice selection at a variety of price points.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Seconding Hale Groves for citrus.
            Also SunnyLand Farms for pecans and pecan related products. Sooo good and very fresh.

      2. nobadcats*

        Geez, I sent my dad and one of my besties Harry & David gift baskets, and they’re not even foodies.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Particularly with things like a door prize where I wasn’t expecting anything, I reframe it as “this is basically how it would be if I hadn’t won, except now I can give these snacks away” — rather than “oh no this is worse than a prize is supposed to be” if that makes sense — compare to the perfectly fine baseline instead of the hypothetical good outcome”

      1. fposte*

        I’ve genuinely enjoyed this when it’s something like a bottle of booze, which I won’t drink. It’s really fun being the champagne fairy who gives a bottle of unexpected bubbly to somebody who likes the stuff.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I think there are so many things in life which are “supposed to be fun”, which actually aren’t, if you pay attention. On my own personal list is: prizes (most of them let’s be honest are pretty bad), most presents excepting those from kindred spirits, New Year’s Eve, crowded parades and street parties, firework displays (in Britain it’s just a reason to freeze your bum off in November), surprises and camping. I once heard a comedian say that if you ask a five year old if they want to go to a party they’ll say “yay!” without question, but if you ask an adult with any seasoning they’ll be suspicious of how much fun is on offer before some key questions have been answered! There are good things about aging into your preferences and no longer falling in with everyone’s generic idea of fun; there’s still room to be pleasantly surprised! I took part in a secret Santa fully prepared for the present to be some tat I would have to find a use for, but someone had bought me a pretty good match for my collection of trademark Alice bands. If I’d been expecting that, it wouldn’t have been half as pleasing. It also means you make more time for things you truly like, and when things don’t measure up, well, you were prepared and were fully ready to just appreciate the gesture or whatever.

      1. Chilipepper attitude*

        I love, “aging into your preferences.”

        I had the same feelings of disappointment as the OP of this thread and I’ve grown into the same list as Ellis Bell. So now I prefer buying what I want or need and I see any wins as about the “win,” ie the journey, not the gift, ie the destination.

        I think the disappointment is a bit of childhood trauma, not getting or being able to get what you need and winning seemed so glamorous!! I think I was hoping to feel like I arrived when I finally won something.

        I have a dogopoly game taking space on my counter that I just won at work. Any takers?

    6. JSPA*

      I quietly ask them to draw another name, as it’s not really my thing. (They can announce it as a duplicate basket, or whatever.)

      Learned that from my granddad, who turned down a couples trip to Hawaii (that he couldn’t take, and wouldn’t have wanted, even if he could). Then you get the abstract delight of “I won!” and the additional thrill of, “I’m making someone’s day!”

      1. just+another+bureaucrat*

        Yeah, I’ve done this when I can, just because my card says I’m the winner doesn’t mean I have to get it. In the moment you can just not have the winning ticket and they have to redraw that’s ideal.

    7. tessa*

      The older I get, the more I treasure gifts that aren’t my taste. I find undesirable gifts charming, and wouldn’t trade for *anything* the sheer delight and hopeful “Oh, I hope she likes it!” expressions on the faces of my gift-givers. My home and my wardrobe are full of objects and clothing I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but they are a gigantic, constant, warm hug, which, for me, is home.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      To me, there’s nothing to cope with. I just remember that gifts that are an attempt to appeal to a broad base or someone they don’t know enough about personally–like door prizes, gifts from fellow team members at work who want to give me something but might not know enough about me outside of work, or a relative I don’t see often–are unlikely to hit just the right note. I say, “Thank you!” and move on. If I don’t like the item, I can donate it, give it to a friend who likes it, regift it, or just throw it out or stash it in a closet.

  10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Anybody have a recipe using candied chestnuts? I have some because they looked interesting, but no idea what to do with them. The internet, when consulted, just seems to think I want a recipe on how to make them. Maybe I’m just supposed to eat them straight out of the package?

    1. Bluebell*

      I think they’d make a delicious ice cream topping, or a topping for creme brûlée, or possibly add to pancakes? I’ve never had them candied, just in stuffing or roasted in a bag.

    2. Reba*

      Yes, you are “supposed” to just eat them solo as a treat (maybe with some tea, coffee, or a hot alcoholic beverage)! I love them.

      I would put them chopped in a spice cake, or on top of a simple tart with some creamy filling. There is a (I think) old-fashioned kind of tart called Mont Blanc that uses chestnut paste and candied nuts.

      You may get different results searching “marron glacé.”

    3. Yum*

      Oooo you are so lucky. They are delicious. Meant to be eaten as is. If you don’t like them, send them to me…

  11. Anon In IL*

    I have a question about how HMO’s work. I understand you need referrals to specialists but am unsure how this works.

    For 2023 I changed my insurance from a PPO to an HMO (same insurance company, different plan). My three doctors are in-network both plans — a Primary Care Physician and two specialists.

    Here is my question. I already have 2023 appointments scheduled with my two specialists. With my PPO I went to the specialists without any particular authorization or approval. What is the HMO process? For example, when I see my psychiatrist in January 2023 on the HMO plan, do I need to get a formal “referral” from my PCP or the insurance company? Again, I have been seeing both the PCP and the psych. for years, just on a PPO (same insurance company).

    1. Joie De Vivre*

      Your best bet would be to call your insurance company.

      Make sure to keep notes of the date, time, rep, and what they told you.

      1. Anon in IL*

        Thanks. I can do that but I find their customer service hit and miss so was hoping to hear others experiences.

    2. carcinization*

      My husband, who’s been working in medical billing/coding/records for almost 20 years, says you really need to call your insurance company about this. This depends greatly on specifics of your insurance company and the providers!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This, but my money is on you needing a referral from your primary MD. I would call their office and check. Or you can call your specialist and ask.

    3. Hatchet*

      I ran into a similar issue with my specialists last year. I was forced to reschedule one appointment because I had to wait on the “referral” from my PCP. I would reach out to your PCP office and explain the situation and see if they can give you or approve the “referral” for your specialist(s). My PCP was in the loop that I was seeing these specialists, so they had some indication in their files and were able to approve both referrals without me going in to see them. For this year, I have one Check-Up type appointment with my PCP for the year for some basics and then I’m set for the specialists referrals. Hope this helps.

    4. bratschegirl*

      Call the individual specialist providers too, and also the billing department/person for your PCP. They have experience with what various insurers and their various plans require in terms of referrals. You absolutely can’t assume that you can just keep going to the specialists without a referral and have it paid for by the insurance.

  12. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    Has anyone had the vertical gastric sleeve? What was your experience? (Please let’s not debate the pros and cons of bariatric surgery. Right now I’m only looking for lived experience. Thanks!)

    1. Llama lamma workplace drama*

      I have not but I know people who have been very successful with it. I had the lapband in 2004 and I do not recommend that at all. Very few doctors still do them. I had the lapband removed and a revision to RnY gastric bypass done 2 years ago and I’ve been very successful with that. I am at my goal weight and just scheduled my brachioplasty to remove the batwings left behind on my arms from the weight loss.

      I was a type 2 diabetic and was unable to control my blood sugar and the next step was insulin. My endocrinologist recommended the bypass as he said it is the ‘gold standard’ bariatric surgery for diabetic patients.

      Good luck with everything!

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I had Roux-en-Y bypass because I had so much to lose (literally!) and had diabetes. I’m in a support group and 90% of the others had vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Most of them have done very well. Recovery is faster than with RnY because it’s a shorter less complex surgery and the diet progresses faster as well. There are fewer limitations (for example I can’t take meds like Motrin but people who had VSG can). There are far fewer complications.

      The downside (compared to RnY) is that the restriction isn’t as significant or pronounced and it’s easier to eat around it. In my experience, the people who struggle the most either with the initial weight loss or regain are the folks who expected surgery to be magic and didn’t realize they also have to make major, sustained changes in the way they eat. It’s a very effective tool when used that way in conjunction with everything else. I eat a very low carb diet. Five years out I still have to eat small amounts every few hours. I do allow myself treats – and the amazing thing to me is that I can eat two bites of cake or one cookie and feel satisfied. That never ever happened before.

      Good luck. I hope you can find a support group – mine is on Facebook and is one of the reasons I stay on Facebook.

    3. Put+the+Blame+on+Edamame*

      Jen Larsen’s book Stranger Here is her memoir of similar surgery, I thought it was very well written and even handed fwiw.

    4. RMNPgirl*

      I had it 14 months ago and it was the best decision I ever made. It is not a cure, but it is the most effective treatment for obesity that we have right now. It doesn’t just work through restriction, research shows that’s only about 10% of weight loss, it actually works on your gut and metabolism to help your body process food correctly again. One myth is that you can stretch it out, you cannot stretch it out but you can eat “slider” foods (cookies, crackers, popcorn, anything that melts in your mouth). If you eat those and snack, you won’t lose or you’ll regain. But if you follow the program, it will be successful. 90% of weight loss surgeries result in long-term significant weight loss.
      Now for the actual surgery, the first 6 weeks after are the worst. You will be wondering why you did this to yourself and feeling like you may never be normal again. Also most people stall at 3 weeks which sucks. Trust me, it gets a lot better. Those 6 weeks are dealing with liquid/pureed diet, hormone changes, huge lifestyle change, very small portions and it just feels so different from your life before. After 6 weeks it gets better and by 6 months post op, I felt like a normal person again. The first 12-18 months is the golden time when weight will melt off, although you will have some stalls like I said, and it slows down as time goes on. I’ve lost 105 pounds and would like to lose 20-40 more and my doctor thinks its possible I can but it will be harder than the initial 105 was.
      Like I said, best decision I ever made in my life. Even with some of the lasting side effects, like having to take Miralax on a daily basis. And I will need plastic surgery for loose skin which insurance hardly ever covers. But it’s all worth it, my life is so much better now and every day things are easy and I don’t even have to think about running up and down the stairs or having to park far away from a store, etc etc.

    5. Mimmy*

      My husband had the surgery 3 years ago. As RMNPGirl said above, the first few weeks to couple of months was definitely the most difficult, but the weight came off fast–over 100 pounds. Everyone commented on how good he looked. I benefitted indirectly because we were eating much less. Unfortunately, my husband did have a minor wound complication a couple weeks post-op (did not require hospitalization). He also ended up having to have his gallbladder removed a little over a year later, which was a whole other not-so-fun experience (gallbladder removal is apparently common with bariatric patients).

      He is back to eating crap again, but he still can’t eat large portions, so he is still well below the weight he was at right before surgery. He has diabetes and I think the surgery helped in that regard. Not eating large portions is toughest when eating out because he barely touches his plate. Yes, he could make better choices, but that’s another story.

      So all-in-all, I am glad he had the surgery and I believe he is as well. He still keeps periodic appointments with the surgeon to ensure he is following the program as best as possible. The surgery is definitely not a magic solution – once you’re finished with the initial restrictions, it is up to you to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

    6. Dodubln*

      My best friend had VSG done in March of 2018 in Mexico, with one of the leading surgeons who does that procedure, and I was her companion for the trip/surgery/post-op process. At the time, her family (and mine) thought the whole thing was a huge mistake, and couldn’t believe we were “going to Mexico” for her to have it done. Sigh. How mistaken they were! So I totally understand your “Please let’s not debate this” part of your post more than you can know. The push-back we both got was ridiculous!

      The whole process/travel/surgery could not have gone better than it did, and to this day, my friend is SO happy she had it done. What stands out for me is that she went into the whole process having done a LOT of research, and always looked at it like another “tool in her toolbox” towards weight loss, yet at the same time, she understood that the VSG was a “permanent tool”, so she had to be very prepared for what would she would have to do both before and after surgery. And she did it all, with no major problems.

      Her post-op course was pretty much pain-free, and she was literally walking circles around the 5 other patients who had surgery the same day she did, which was a plus. She was the heaviest patient who had surgery that day, and she had “extra surgery” in that the doctor fixed a hiatal hernia she didn’t know she had, so we are both not sure why she did so well post-op, versus everyone else in her group, but she did. But..part of that may be that I actually made her get up and walk around “as instructed by the doctor”, versus other patients who had their moms/husbands/wives there, who did not “push” their loved ones like I did. I am not saying I am Nurse Ratched, but I do take doctor’s orders seriously, LOL!

      My friend strictly followed the dietary instructions in the following days/weeks/ months, and really had no issues with them, other than sometimes consuming more in one meal than she should, but she never vomited, or anything like that. Just felt uncomfortable for a bit, mostly. And she learned to work around what made her feel uncomfortable, learned from her mistakes.

      One thing we did do, that I don’t think has been mentioned yet, was to have her send me a picture of her each month, for one year, post-surgery. That way, I could determine if she was losing “too much” weight, which is actually a problem with VSG. Sometimes, the people who have undergone it move into an underweight/dangerous stage of weight loss. Luckily, this did not happen with my friend. She has been at her target weight for some time now, and is maintaining it.

      I hope this helps!

  13. PhyllisB*

    I have two serious things to ask but will make separate posts for them. This is my first. My great-niece was severely injured in an auto accident on Halloween. She is paralyzed from the chest down. (Thank you for your concern. I know all of you are sorry to hear about this, especially since she so young. Only 21.) She is currently in rehab and during extremely well.
    Her family is going to have to do some MAJOR renovations to their home to accommodate her wheelchair and other equipment. Of course, they will have to get a specially fitted van for Transporation. Here is my question: Are there any organizations who will help with this? Not only financially, but maybe advice or doing some of the renovations?
    They may get all that info from the rehab facility, but since they’re in another state from where the facility is located, perhaps there are other options. I just want to offer any suggestions I can. They live in Alabama. They don’t know I’m posting this, but they will be okay with it because they are open to all the help they can get. I’m not naming the city unless that’s needed, too. Again, they won’t mind because they will know what I’m trying to accomplish, and they have been sharing their journey on Facebook.

    1. Chapeau*

      The state may have an agency that provides support in that situation. Not Medicaid, necessarily, but another agency or program. For example, in Pennsylvania, the department of labor has a program that will assist with renovations and even pay for a vehicle if the person is working/trying to work.
      Also, look into the USDA rural development program, if their location qualifies. 504 loans in particular, although there is an income limit for that.

    2. Trina*

      Help Hope Live! They are a non-profit, medical-specific alternative to GoFundMe, and the crowdsourced money can be used for anything related to the illness or injury, like the house renovations in question. They’re better for the recipient because the money never touches the recipient’s hands (donor-> Help Hope Live-> bill paid directly by HHL) and therefore can’t disqualify them from government aid based on income. They’re better for donors because the medical need is verified and the donations are tax-deductible. HHL also has emergency grants available.

    3. WellRed*

      Google aging and disability services for the area. There’s likely to be some sort of nonprofit that serves as a resource for everything from advice to equipment to funding sources to emotional support.

    4. Newbie*

      Is there anything that’s restricting them to living in Alabama? If her parents have jobs that are at all portable, my advice is to move to a state with better services for disabled people and their caregivers. Having lived in AL, services and access to them are spotty at best (The “Show up to this address between 2:15 and 3:35 on the third Thursday of the month to fill out the application that can only be done on paper.” type thing is REALLY common). If they are part of a church, that is usually the best bet for getting help with renovations. Accessing and/or directing people to any kind of services in Alabama was more frustrating than other states I’ve lived in by a long shot. I lived in a small city that was a hub for a HUGE rural area, so some experiences may be different than in B’ham or Huntsville.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Unfortunately, moving was my first thought. Alabama is not known for a robust social safety net, and it’s a poor state as well.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I appreciate all the suggestions and will pass them along. My nephew works remote but travels a lot. His wife has taken a year off from her job. She works remote, but she has to be local.
          I don’t know if they would be willing to move or not. The mother grew up in this city and live in the house she grew up in. Roots run deep. However, I also know when it’s your child’s best interest, we will do a lot of things we never thought we would do.
          The rehab center is in Georgia, and I know they are temporarily moving there until they know more about long term care

    5. Healthcare+Worker*

      Ask her rehab facility to refer her to the state’s vocational rehabilitation program. They can help with funding for some of the things she will need.

    6. Christmas Carol*

      Depending on who was at fault in the accident, auto insurance may come into play too. I don’t know anything about insurance laws in Alabama, but if she was not 100% fault, and/or the driver has any assets at all, it may be time for a call to apersonal injury attorney.

    7. 00ff00Claire*

      The only organization I know of who does stuff like this is Sunshine on a Ranney Day, and they do renovations for children, so I don’t know that you great-niece would qualify. But perhaps they would know of a similar org who does something similar for adults and could give your family some leads?

  14. PhyllisB*

    Okay, here is my second post. I posted this last weekend, but it was too late to get any responses.
    Two of my grandchildren lost their other grandmother this past weekend. Her partner told my daughter that the grandchildren would be beneficiaries of her life insurance. (Don’t know how much money is involved.) I have heard that since they are still minors that the company will not release the funds. I understand why they wouldn’t release them to such young people, but will they allow her mother to oversee the funds until they are officially of age? If they won’t release it, what happens to this money?
    Also, assuming they will allow my daughter to oversee the funds, she’s not sure what’s the best way to safeguard it for them? My first thought was a college fund, (I can’t remember what it’s called now) but she’s hesitant for two reasons. One she doesn’t want to limit it to just college in case one or both decide not to pursue higher education, and two, one of her kids is supersmart and will probably qualify for some scholarships when the time comes, or will be eligible for different grants, and I know if you have funds this can knock him out of the running.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Random tuesday*

      What happens where I live is that the insurance company holds on to the money till the beneficiary turns 18. Then basically the day of the 18th birthday cuts a cheque.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I had never thought about this before, but that makes a lot of sense.

        Would it be handled differently if the grandmother had appointed a trustee for the kids’ inheritance in her will?

        1. fposte*

          Life insurance generally passes outside the will. That’s one of its big advantages–you can get the money much faster than the estate assets.

          1. Clisby*

            Yes, that’s also a benefit of retirement funds with named beneficiaries. Those don’t go through an estate either. (At least, they don’t in South Carolina.) When my husband and I die, whatever’s left in our bank account and our house (assuming we still live in a place we own) are the only things wills need to address.

      2. Observer*

        Not necessarily. Depending on the way it’s set up, the money could be put into a trust and the person appointed by the person who set up the insurance would manage the money.

    2. Double A*

      How old are the kids? I think it’s not a bad idea to put some money in a college fund (a 529 I’m assuming you’re thinking of) because that money can be spent on things like housing while you’re in college.

      You can get merit scholarships no matter your financial status. Other grants and scholarships are need based.

      But I’m having the same dilemma about college funds. How much to put in in case my kids don’t go. I’ve been putting money in a 529 but with the market going down it lost a bunch of money (which makes now actually a good time to start one but was a bummer to see its value decrease so much). But since I didn’t want all the money in 529s I started putting money in I Bonds, which are government bonds tied to the rate of inflation. So at least they will retain value. It’s a very safe place to put money that you don’t plan on accessing for at least 5 years (there is a small penalty for withdrawing before then).

      1. Llama lamma workplace drama*

        Right now I am putting my son’s college savings into Series I savings bonds. They are tied to the inflation rate so the interest they are paying is very good.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Not a lawyer, but someone has been appointed trustee of those funds. Might be the partner, might be mom, might be the insurance company. The insurance company will definitely know, and I would start by asking them.

      I have nothing for investing advice except that you will want to ask about liquidity va the age of the children. Are they 14 and 17? They will want it sooner rather than later, so you want low risk and rapid return options. Are they 4 and 6? You have some time for compound interest to kick in, so consider stock portfolios or longer-term bonds.

    4. J.C. Books*

      My father set up a Trust. It had a sum of money for grandchildren to use for college. Had to be for school. Trust paid funds directly to the college when the time came. It was enough to cover the first year of college for 6 grandchildren.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      The advice I got for financial aid before oldest started college is that the BIG factor in determining it is current parent income. Rather than money set aside in some sort of investment or savings. You would get far more aid as a family with low income but some money set aside, vs a family with nothing set aside but a high yearly income.

      It truly didn’t make sense to not save in the hopes of a better financial aid deal.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh good, I hope that is the case, as otherwise it’d be a real disincentive to save, and I had some money from my grandfather I’ve set aside for my goddaughter (currently 2, haha)! I’d hate to end up messing with her financial aid because of it.

    6. EdgarAllenCat*

      My nephew inherited money from his father’s life insurance policy. BIL died intestate which meant, in my state, the money had to be liquid when my nephew turned 18. It was not legal to establish a trust after the fact, which was (and still is) very disappointing bc this now 19 y.o. isn’t a long-term planner and wants to help friends (which I love) and is thus susceptible to scams/scammers.

      PhyllisB, best wishes from an internet stranger. The end of 2022 sounds like a challenge to you & yours. Please take care. xoxo

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The insurance company may release the money into a UTMA account, which comes with various requirements. Otherwise, they’ll hold the money until the minors turn 18. I would research the rules around UTMA accounts, because that may well help answer your 2nd question.

      1. PhyllisB*

        And thanks for all the good suggestions for this. I knew I could count on y’all to point me in the right direction. I will at some point update on both these situations in case someone else can be helped.

    8. UTMA-st*

      My minor son was in the same situation. Initially, the insurance company said I would need to go to court to be appointed his guardian. I took it up the chain and eventually they released the funds to me as custodian under the UTMA.

    9. Observer*

      Someone needs to check if Grandma actually appointed a trustee when she set up the insurance. If she did, the insurance company needs to release the money to that person. BUT there are some rules around what can be done with that money and how it can be managed.

      Things like a requirement to choose low risk parking for the money and can only be used specifically for the child’s benefit. Although if Grandma specified something like education etc. the trustee may need to work within those parameters.

    10. SweetFancyPancakes*

      I’m answering this late, so I hope it’s still helpful. I worked for a life insurance company for around 5 years, and my main job was paying out death claims. When we had a minor beneficiary, we could pay out right away IF the minor’s guardian was named as a fiduciary custodian. We would usually direct people to talk to a lawyer to get the proper paperwork. If we didn’t get the paperwork, we would pay out the policy to the state, and the beneficiary could claim it from the state’s unclaimed property office when they reached majority. Since that didn’t happen very often, it must not have been very hard to obtain the correct paperwork.

      As a side note, it’s important to always be really specific when naming beneficiaries. I once had a nightmare claim where the insured had named her children and great-grandchildren (note the skipped generation) but no names. There were all kinds of legal hoops we and the benes had to jump through, since at least one of her children had pre-deceased her (so we needed proof of their death as well) and the grandchildren were all mad because we couldn’t pay them out (“well, we’re sure she meant to include them”- sorry, a bene designation is a legal document and we can’t assume what the insured meant to do) and most of the great-grandchildren were minors, etc etc etc. It was a mess.

  15. Francie Foxglove*

    What on earth is DH giving me for Christmas that required measuring my legs?

    Early in December, he asked me my height. Was I sure? When was the last time I was measured? Then he got my sewing tape and measured my legs, from ankle to hip, and ankle to crotch. He also checked the label on my jeans (that I wasn’t wearing). “You’ll find out,” he said.

    I don’t think it’s a bicycle. We’re in a web of hilly, twisting roads with no sidewalks, so where would I ride it. It could be for a costume, and he’s going to further surprise me with ComicCon tickets, but I doubt he’d surprise me with it. Anyway, he didn’t measure anything else, like my waist. Well, just over a week until I find out! (Assuming this *is* a Christmas thing.)

    1. Francie Foxglove*

      Sorry; I mean, he might surprise me with ComicCon tickets, the way he once surprised me with concert tickets. But he wouldn’t choose a costume *for* me, because I’d be the one wearing it, so I’d *have* to have input.

    2. Criminally Creative*

      Do you have any hobbies that would be more comfortable with a specially made chair or stool? I weave and spin and there are chair and bench makers that will make weaving and spinning stools custom to your height. That’s the only other thing that comes to mind.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      This is so funny. I would assume like nice tailored pants or something? but I really hope it’s completely unrelated and this is a weird misdirection :) Please tell us when you find out!

    4. nana*

      I wanted to surprise Scottish S-I-L with a kilt…asked DD to take measurements. To keep it a surprise, she measured the length of his arms, circumference of his head as well as the actual measurements required. [he was surprised…and pleased]

      1. Francie Foxglove*

        Nana: That’s clever!

        Criminally Creative: No, I paid good money last year for the chair I’m in right now, and DH advised me on it.

    5. Anima*

      Those are the basic measurements for pants. Did you maybe complain about not finding pants? (I do constantly because women’s sizes are a joke.) Is Husband trying to give you high quality, fitting pants?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I dunno how you’d do well fitted pants with just inseam and outseam but not hips, waist, rise.

        Do you have any outdoor hobbies? Maybe something you’d wear over regular clothes so the girth wouldn’t matter as much, a beekeeper suit? Ski overalls? Fishing waders?

      2. Francie Foxglove*

        That could be! I have two good-quality blouses that I got at a huge discount, and he’s heard me grumble about how hard it is to find pants or a skirt to go with them. @Red Reader: Not a hobby, but I am obligated to do yard work, and he’s also heard me express a wish for a “monkey suit” (coveralls, NOT overalls) that I could pull on over my clothes, instead of having to change into a whole different outfit of worn-out sweats. Which wouldn’t be a fun gift, but I have reason to believe that he is getting me several “fun gifts”, so a monkey suit would be a nice surprise!

      1. Francie Foxglove*

        Eh, no. His cousin has a Harley that we’ve gotten rides on the back of, and that has satisfied any motorcycle jones either of us might have had! To enjoy, but *not* to own.

    6. mreasy*

      I hope this is a fabulous misdirect – or that you end up with the custom length PJ pants of your dreams!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        That’s what I was thinking! He’s getting you a ring or a pair of nice gloves or something that’s not clothing at all and this is designed (!) to convince you it’s pants.

        1. Francie Foxglove*

          Yes…I can see him doing that.

          Well, Christmas is Sunday, so I absolutely will post and let the commentariat know whatever it is!

    7. Generic+Name*

      Ha ha, my husband does stuff like this too! I’ll wrack my brain trying to guess and half the time he changes his mind and gets something else.

    8. Persephone Mulberry*

      I don’t usually read the weekend threads these days but you can bet I’ll be checking back after Christmas for an update on this one.

    9. Anono-me*

      Snow pants, snow shoes or skis. (He probably knows your height, weight, and shoe size.

      I wish we could start a pool.

      Please let us know what it really is when you find out.

      1. Francie Foxglove*

        That is a good guess! Neither of us has ever been downhill skiing, nor wants to try, but he’s heard me reminisce about cross-country skiing as a teenager in a very flat state. If it’s that, I could do what I did then: ski on a riding trail that nobody uses when it’s covered in snow. (Or if anyone is brave enough to try, I can still hear them in plenty of time to avoid disaster.)

        1. WestsideStory*

          I’m also guessing it’s cross-country skis, which do have to go by your height…and maybe some nice ski pants to go with.

          Let us know!

  16. Santa Steph*

    My friends and have have frequently done White Elephant gift swaps for holidays, where no one is assigned a gift person, you just bring a gift and swap things. We’ve done them without issue but this past weekend, we encountered two people with issues for their gifts. One person picked and then unwrapped a make up that they can’t use due to skin issues. Another picked and unwrapped a food gift they couldn’t eat due to digestive issues. We’re all in our 30s so I didn’t think we’d have to start taking medical issues into account but I guess we should start laying down a few guidelines for these things? Have you attended a gift swap that had rules? I’ve never been part of one that had rules other than a suggested price range.

    1. acmx*

      I was at one recently and you could steal gifts.

      Why didn’t the 2 just swap gifts? They can regift at the next exchange. I received wine glasses that I won’t use (I don’t drink wine nor do I entertain). I’ll give them away or donate.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If there’s only one or two of issues, you could say something like “no gluten” or “no cosmetics”.

      Otherwise you could have a tag code – blue tags means cosmetics, yellow tags mean food, orange tags means scented – so that when people swap the gifts they can avoid a particular sensitivity. And the people with sensitivities grab first.

    3. Roland*

      If it’s a situation where like EVERYONE always brings cookies but Ethel is alergic to flour then maybe rules are in order so one person isn’t excluded. And if a lot of people start having dietary issues then maybe a blanket “no food” would make sense. But if neither is the case and 2 people just got unlucky, then I think gift rules are a bit much. Agreed that what you should do is look up rules for white elephant with stealing. I’ve usually played max 3 steals per gift but you can adjust for the size and preferences of the group. And at the end of the day adults can choose to swap and regift things regardless of any “rules”.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I was just in a similar gift exchange where I got a bath bomb when I don’t have a tub. I swapped with someone who got a journal and pen set they didn’t want. Just because the gift exchange ends doesn’t prevent you from swapping some gifts around.

    5. Pushisty*

      One I used to be part of had ‘nothing you can eat and nothing you can wear’ as a rule, not for the reasons you gave but because it forced you to be more creative than a box of candy or a scarf! It was actually pretty fun.

      1. NYC Redhead*

        This is a great idea. We did one this week at work and there was a high number of Starbucks gift cards.

    6. Your Computer Guy*

      When my office has done it there’s been no restrictions, but there’s a healthy amount of trading after the official swap is done. One year I made 3 swaps to get to a bottle of whiskey that I wanted and everyone I swapped with wound up with something they liked more as well.

    7. Anono-me*

      I always thought that white elephant gift exchanges were supposed to be silly things that you already had, like an ugly vase or a chia pet Telly Savales.

      Maybe go that way.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        There is an important but overlooked difference between a true White Elephant gift exchange and a Dirty Santa/Yankee gift swap, and IMO this should be made clear from the outset. I have participated in both. Yankee gift swaps are nice exchanges of presents (with some potential pitfalls as seen above). White Elephant swaps are just a fun game, and in their pure form nobody spends a dime on them.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      One of the gift exchange games might be fun. I’ve done the Dirty Santa game, and that has the potential to be hilarious. Plus, it helps with the wrong gift type issues.

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Whenever my group of pals has done a White Elephant exchange, the end of the game didn’t mean the end of the swaps. It just meant that the party moved on from the exchange. The horse-trading might continue, though, until the last guest leaves. Afterward, if you’re still stuck with something you absolutely can’t use, you can always re-gift at the office or donate it to a charity shop.

      We’ve never had any hard and fast rules, but we’re encouraged not to spend too much money so that the cheapest, tackiest, least-wanted gift isn’t outshone by, say, a $50 bottle of wine.

    10. MissCoco*

      I’ve never attended a gift swap with rules other than a monetary limit, but I think no cosmetics is almost common sense, and no food doesn’t feel like an overstep in a group with allergies. That said, I think most people would just say “oh this is so lovely, but I’m allergic to most makeup/this food, if anyone wants it!” And have a friend “steal” the gift to save them

    11. Person from the Resume*

      I just participated in quite possibly my first white elephant gift exchange. It’s not something my family did and I am often uncertain by the rules. So my thing is make the rules super, SUPER clear. Regift/something you have at home, new with a price limit (no gift cards).

      I just participated in a great one … for a book club so used books (but nothing the book club read) and you put a vague/mysterious description of the plot on the package. Funnily enough 8-10 people, no steals.

      I would tend to think that if someone has a food restriction you could say no food or nothing with the restricted food stuff. It would have never occurred to me that cosmetics were a gift appropriate for a swap, but I do know that bath products are often sold in stores as a great gifts for women. That always seems impersonal to me. Yes, I will make use of it, but that’s something I buy for myself picking the scents I like and you’re not likely to buy a higher quality bath product than I buy that’s going to feel like a splurge. I’d say cosmetics can be off limits too.

    12. Observer*

      We’re all in our 30s so I didn’t think we’d have to start taking medical issues into account

      You are very lucky that this is the first time that you’ve had a problem. Neither skin sensitivity nor food restrictions are all that uncommon even in young people.

      You’ve gotten some good suggestions on how to handle this stuff. But start from the point of view that in any group there are going to be some that have one or two issues that are not relevant most of the time, but can be potential problems with a gift swap.

  17. RLC*

    A while back I posted about the domestic canary living in my yard and someone asked that I update: the canary is still here despite nighttime temperatures well below freezing, daytime highs barely above freezing, and 9” of snow on the ground. It seems to have become an honorary member of the resident flock of Lesser Goldfinches, feeding, watering, and roosting with them (we feed a variety of seed, maintain 3 heated bird baths all winter, and have mature conifers to roost in). It’s fun to spot it every few days. I think it’s been here for nearly two months.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      That’s a lucky canary to have a flock of wild birds as mentors that have helped it survive. Glad to hear the canary is doing okay.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Aww man, I think of them as warm-weather birds, does anyone know if they can survive a winter in the US? I don’t know enough about goldfinches, or if their temperature needs are similar; I hope they might migrate together if so.

      1. Generic+Name*

        I see lesser goldfinches throughout the winter in Denver, which is cold, but with plenty of warm spells

      2. 1LFTW*

        So, you’re right; they are in the finch family. According to Ye Internets, their habitat includes mild subtropical climates, Mediterranean climates, and altitudes up to 5000 feet. It makes sense that they’d be somewhat cold-hardy.

        Thanks for inspiring me to look that up! I love that this feral canary has found a flock and a way to survive.

        1. RLC*

          We’re at about 5100’ elevation, northeastern Sierra Nevada, so upper end of the elevation range you noted. I feed a high oil content sunflower seed in winter which may help with cold tolerance. The birds around here definitely know where the free restaurant is!

    1. OperaArt*

      Ooh. Thanks for posting this. I just started moving from Twitter to Mastodon. I’ll go look for her account.

  18. Tired of chasing doctors*

    Has anyone UK-based bought any at-home tests to investigate the cause of digestive symptoms (food intolerances / gut microbiome / SIBO and similar)? Which ones, and did the results help you get better, or was it a waste of time and money?

    The ones I see through googling are quite expensive (£100+ to 300+) and I don’t have private medical benefits at work to cover them (this might change in a few months, my workplace is reviewing benefits).

    I’d like to get my GP to refer me for more tests (already excluded a few conditions which is good), but I’m also trying to be prepared to hear they won’t, while I keep having symptoms that make me uncomfortable daily and are sometimes painful.

    1. Weegie*

      I have sporadic, recurring gut issues that frequently have different foods as the apparent source. In my case the issues are actually triggered by some deeply unconscious emotional/psychological cause, but in the past, before I realised this, I’ve had all the GP tests and referrals to specialists, and other than diagnosed gluten and dairy intolerance, nothing is ever found.

      Specialists are usually looking for something that is fixable with an operation or medication, or the tell-tale wreckage left by a food you should avoid, so your GP is likely to keep referring you for further tests until you’ve exhausted all the available options (if they won’t, change your GP – seriously). A quick online search suggests the at-home tests – which are largely going to lead to dietary recommendations – won’t tell you much that you don’t already know. If a food or foods are the issue for you, there are other investigations or treatments to try, but as I don’t want to make assumptions or veer into medical advice, ask your GP for suggestions about those alternatives: you’ll be surprised how many are evidence-based and/or NHS approved or recommended, even if trying them means spending some of your own money.

      1. Tired of chasing doctors*

        This is so helpful, thank you very much. I was concerned there would be nothing NHS approved other than direct hospital referrals from my GP. Earlier this week, I spoke with someone very unhelpful at my clinic, who pretty much said “your past test results are normal so I don’t see the point in investigating more”. That dragged me down the entire week, just as I was having a big flare-up that seemed to never get better.

        Finding out it’s a “deeply unconscious emotional/psychological cause” would be a relief for me. I’ve known I could benefit from trying therapy for a while and ignored it multiple times as other things got more urgent – I’m now more motivated than ever to start in the new year. But I want to exhaust all the available options before I can conclude that’s the most likely explanation for my gut issues, and knowing it’s a possibility that I might get more GP help working those out is reassuring.

        1. Cookie*

          I tried gut-focused hypnotherapy and it was wholly ineffective, but following a mostly lower FODMAP diet (strict at first and then after challenges, adding back what I could) has really improved my gut issues. Nobody wanted to run any tests after the usual endoscopy and H. pylori lab, so I’m just on my own here. One doctor actually told me, “So just don’t eat vegetables.” I haven’t invested in at-home testing, because I’ve never seen a home test that looked legit to me. My tests are generally “does this cause symptoms every time I eat it? Okay, no more of that, then.”

          You have all my best wishes that the right solution for you happens, because I have had to manage this myself with very little help from specialists, nutritionists…anyone! For over 40 years now. And it is quite an annoyance at best.

    2. bratschegirl*

      I’m in the US, and when I had a similar condition, I dealt with The Biome Clinic in Australia via video visits; Western medicine essentially washed their hands of me after their only idea, an antibiotic that cost me nearly $1000, didn’t help. My insurance didn’t cover any of it, and the testing cost about what you mentioned, but I had specific guidance on what testing to do from the naturopath who was advising me. Dr. Jacobi’s Bi-Phasic diet helped a lot; that and lots more information available at the sibo doctor dot com. Note that the clinic closes for the last couple of weeks of December.

      My friends in the chronic illness community have recommended, when MDs are stonewalling on testing/procedures that might help, that folks say specifically “I would like it documented in my chart that I have requested this test and been refused.” This can apparently be motivation to order it just to cover their [hindquarters].

    3. Generic+Name*

      Have you tried an elimination diet? I think a lot of food sensitivities aren’t necessarily detectable with testing. There are plenty of online guides of what foods to cut out, and if you feel better, add in o e of the foods you cut to see if the symptoms come back. That’s how I figure out I’m lactose intolerant. I cut out all dairy and the symptoms went away. I got a latte one day and forgot to specify soy milk, and sure enough, within 30 mins, I had the telltale symptoms.

      1. Tired of chasing doctors*

        Thanks! I’m wary of doing it in a self-directed way (a past history of disordered eating and cutting out foods on a whim doesn’t bode well). Plus, I have been eating the same way for pretty much a decade, and never had any sort of trouble until this year. I kept a food diary for months and not a single pattern stood out, so I’m puzzled.

        1. Badger*

          Sounds like a very good decision to me! I didn’t have any issues with disordered eating and still did get into some weird thought pattern when I did the elimination myself.

          Seeing as you didn’t notice any patterns with a food diary I’m not too sure that it would tell you anything anyway.

        2. Green Beans*

          The gold standard for finding food intolerances is the FODMAP elimination diet (every gastroenterologist should be familiar, as well as dieticians.) You can find it online pretty easily.

          It is extremely restrictive, however, so I’d definitely recommend anyone who struggles/d with restrictive eating figure out a good support plan and/or team – definitely a dietician can be helpful, but a therapist can be too.

    4. Badger*

      I believe I have SIBO and dysbiosis. I say believe because gastro tests never figured something out but the symptoms match (and step by step improvement with my strategies seem to confirm).

      I never did an at home test. The last time I talked to my nutrition specialist (paid out of pocket) and suggested dysbiosis she simply recommended probiotics to me that fit my issues, which have slowly helped.

      May I recommend something? It may sound woo-y but it is a central cornerstone of my treatment and if it doesn’t work for you, there is no risk or cost to trying: https://www.dharmaworks.net/Tim/can-you-breath-your-way-out-of-sibo/

      It likely works by strengthening vagus nerve signaling which in turn helps trigger the migrating motor complex more reliably. If you suspect SIBO the MMC might not be working very reliably.

      I do three times three repitions (catching my breath in between) four times a day.

      If you feel like trying it out I recommend sticking with it at least 4 days in a row to see if it makes any difference, and spacing out the four “sets” as much as possible during the day – that seems to help the most.

    5. soolisouena*

      Hiya! I totally feel you on the tummy troubles. I recently started working with a functional medicine practitioner here in Canada for a chronic pain condition. My GP referred me. The very first thing she did was start me on an elimination diet designed by the Institute for Functional Medicine, which provides the gold standard of care in this field here (linked their website below). The elimination diet approach is methodical and data driven so it will definitely help you get answers about food sensitivities if that’s what’s going on for you. If symptoms continue, this could be extra ammo to bring to your doctor to request testing.

      For what it’s worth, she also mentioned they don’t recommend testing kits for food sensitivities/allergies because efficacy questions/concerns. Apparently they’re not very accurate. Good luck! https://www.ifm.org/

    6. TMI Anon*

      My gut symptoms mimicked celiac but i tested negative. the complete diet restrictions of pandemic lockdown helped me realize it was a combination of bad too-strong coffee with too-rich food. It comes back if I have a third cup of my coffee, or a single cup from the office cafeteria. There’s just a time lag that I couldn’t see when eating at the cafe daily.

    7. Cedrus Libani*

      As I understand it, any “at-home food sensitivity test” that doesn’t require a blood draw is an actual scam, while the ones that do are merely of dubious value.

      I have done the microbiome tests that sequence your poop. That’s a legit way to look for dysbiosis, and it wasn’t that expensive. I was able to observe shifts – I sent one sample while on antibiotics, then chugged a bunch of probiotics and tried again a few weeks later, and saw what I expected. The company I used no longer exists, but I believe similar products are available.

      I figured out my weird gut issues with an elimination diet, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I went on a low-carb diet purely for weight loss, which meant I inadvertently cut out most (but not all) gluten, making it real easy to spot the pattern. Wasn’t expecting that one. I demanded and got a test for celiac, which was negative, but I feel so much better that I’ve just stayed gluten free ever since.

      If you don’t feel comfortable designing your own elimination plan, as others have mentioned, there are standard ones that you could work through with a nutritionist or similar for support.

  19. Pushisty*

    Does anyone else struggle…I mean really struggle…to make friends as an adult? It’s not for the want of trying but I feel like I must be a kind of Marmite person (as in you either love me or hate me) because I am, and always am, on the periphery of every social group I’m part of. It makes me so sad and I feel so lonely. I’m a chatty and friendly person and really make an effort to get to know people but it never comes to anything in terms of building a friendship that goes beyond pleasantries here and there. I’ve tried volunteering, joining clubs, new hobbies etc. (I spent my 20s/30s moving countries a lot so have a list of ‘meet new people’ activities!) but I still struggle. It’s like high school where no-one picks you for their team, except on repeat and you’re over 35.

    It’s come to a head for me in the last few days when it came to light that a WhatsApp group I’m part of socially has been recreated several times, but only when someone adds me to it….and I’m never told about the new group. So I’m added and then shortly after the group goes dead, I don’t know why, and it’s because they’ve started a new one and haven’t told me. I found out indirectly the first time it happened and then someone added me to the second group, which then died a death and now there’s a third version up and running (minus me). I don’t know what I do wrong (it happens frequently enough for me to look in the mirror as the common denominator) and it’s soul-destroying. I don’t even know what to fix if I don’t know what’s wrong. Is it just me or is this the nature of being 35+ and trying to make friends?

    1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      It’s not you. It may not even be your age, just the fact that sometimes people can be pretty crappy. It sounds like you know how to make friends, it is my (not very helpful) experience that sometimes you just need to meet “your” people and that can be pretty hit and miss.
      Have you tried keeping an eye out for people also on the ‘periphery’ of these groups and fostering individual friendships with these individuals? Sometimes that works better than trying to be part of ‘the group ‘.

    2. PX*

      A person I follow on Instagram sometimes uses the phrase “your picker might be wrong” and from what you describe, I wonder if this is what is happening to you a little bit? It sounds like you are trying to be friends with people who – for whatever reason – dont want to be friends with you. So how about focusing on finding “your” people – and people who want to be friends with who you are?

      Great that you have the “meet new people” part sorted (its a hard one!) but now you need to perhaps work on filtering from those new people who are the ones you actually want to spend time with? You used the high school team example and – while this may not be what is happening – the analogy I would use based on Western TV stereotypes would be something like: are you focused on trying to be friends with the “cool” kids – when actually you need to figure out if perhaps the “geeks” or “band kids” or “insert alternative stereotype here” are actually the people for you?

      If nothing else, I’d say the person who added you back to the Whatsapp group that you had been left out of sounds like a decent person to follow up with and maybe have an open conversation with?

      1. Barr*

        Agreed with all this – sometimes it works out that the people you’re mostly around just aren’t the right friends for you. You sound very self aware so I bet you’d be great at making new friends but I know how hard this is. My concrete suggestion is bumble bff, or I don’t know if there are other dating sites that do platonic matching as well – I made a couple great friends that way aged 33. Although they’ve since moved away so – I feel you. I think you’ll find your people it just definitely takes more effort as an adult.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree, in big groups I think of myself like a border collie, cutting through the pack to pick out just few the sheep that I want (sorry, I’m reading a lot of dog content right now). It’s too easy to see “everyone” as a faceless crowd who isn’t playing with you, but you don’t want everyone, you want a few friends to have pleasant experiences with. Invite one or two to join you for something, low-pressure, and if it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.

    3. Inkhorn*

      It’s not just you. I’m a Marmite person too (or Vegemite, since I’m Australian), and I seem to be perpetually surrounded by people who are, at best, not really enthusiastic about metaphorical yeast extract. Like, I was at my current job for over four years before I had any idea that after-work drinks were a semi-regular thing. And even then I only found out because a coworker used one to cheerfully share around the gossip she’d heard about me, and precisely one other person thought that maybe I should know. I was gutted; I thought I’d found a place where I … not “fit in”, exactly, but fit much less badly than anywhere else. Instead it was suddenly like being back in primary school, or high school, or college, just without the malice. (And the common denominator is….)

      I can’t offer more than internet hugs and solidarity, as I’ve never had any idea how to make friends, at any age. I’m used to the aloneness, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to feeling like a freak without knowing *why* I’m a freak, or the nagging sense that I somehow missed out on the Socialisation Handbook with which everyone else was issued at birth.

      There clearly must be at least some [yeast extract of choice] people out there; I managed to blunder across a boyfriend who thinks that I’m wonderful and he’s insanely lucky to have me. Maybe one day I’ll blunder across a friend, too?

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      There’s an article in the Atlantic right now by Olga Khazan about personality which gets into this a bit, might be worth a read?

      My two tips are to not internalise it too much and also be an organiser: the person who does the admin of sorting out meetings, updates texts, writes cards etc
      Yup it’s more emotional labour, but it keeps people around.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Is it about attachment styles? Because I don’t know OP at all, but I wondered if they were struggling with some insecure attachment type thinking. As an avoidant person myself, I often feel this must be a much easier way to get through life; nobody can leave me more than I can leave them, etc.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, partly I think one gift of age is maybe letting go of a little bit of that FOMO and not feeling like I need to “fix myself” if other people don’t warm to me (as long as I’m not being offensive or insensitive, I mean). I mean, if YOU think you may be too chatty and want to stop, that’s a fine thing to try for yourself, but if you just worry other people find you too chatty and you like how you are – then don’t change! Sometimes I’m on the periphery of things, but that’s a good place to observe and be entertained. Sometimes I’ve ended up moving more into the center of the group over time, other times I’ve stayed right where I am with “sometime friends” who are good for a specific activity but not overall intimate, other times I’ve drifted off entirely. If people aren’t reciprocal to my overtures of friendship, I save my energy for others who are. There are certainly people in the world who will enjoy you the way you are, I’m sure. You seem very kind and pleasant.

    6. fposte*

      Maybe a little of all of it? I think friendships often build differently as you get older, and there’s a lot more triage for most people. So a degree of conversation that would mean “Now we’ll see each other all time time!” in college becomes “I might enjoy running into you at somebody’s NYE party!” in the 30s. In my personal experience, they’re also more likely to be individuals or couples than friend groups in their entirety. It might also be that what’s being suggested as a picker issue is about getting a better sense for cues of reciprocity, both making them and reading them. There’s a good Captain Awkward comment about that that I’ll link in follow up.

      1. fposte*

        I forgot Alison is off so comments may not be getting approved, so you can also look in the Captain Awkward comments for letter 618 for a comment by katepreach and a followup from syrens.

    7. marvin*

      I also struggle with this! In a sense I think it is something everyone experiences sometimes, particularly if you’re not in a life stage where everyone around you is keen to make friends.

      For me, the main two things I’m working on are being more active in trying to make friends rather than waiting to be adopted by someone, and trying to avoid the habit of self selecting the type of friends who don’t treat me well (you may have some of this going on with people who tend to sideline you). I’m also trying a few different types of social activity to figure out which will be most successful for me. It’s a lot of work and personally I find it difficult but it is important to me to try to make some friends who I can really connect with.

    8. Not A Manager*

      You mention several things that to me imply group gatherings and activities. I personally have found those to be a good way to meet people, but a poor way to deepen friendships.

      Have you tried making acquaintances in some of these groups, and then asking a few of those people to join you in a smaller setting that you have selected and organized? Of course you can jump to asking one individual if they want to get coffee/do a thing, but sometimes that creates a pressure for more immediate intimacy than some people want. If you put together a few causal events with a rotating cast of people but mostly the same ones, you have more opportunity to click with one or two of them.

    9. 40ish*

      In my experience one needs to be active in planning activities, be it with specific individuals or a larger group. Especially deepening friendships often only works by taking the (sometimes a bit scary) step of iniviting them to something. The whatsapp groups are like that as well. There are always new ones bc some people take the initiative of making them. They may not even remember the old ones. You can create such a group as well and add others.

    10. Seashell*

      I feel your pain and would be friends with you, although you may be on another continent than me. :-)

      My husband is better at making/maintaining friendships than I am. One time, we randomly ran into someone from my book club. Afterwards, my husband said to me, “You should text her and say ‘It was nice to run into you. Want to do dinner some time?'” I was like, “Ugh, she will think I’m a big dork.” So I didn’t do it. In retrospect, he probably was right, but it feels awkward to me to be forward like that.

    11. Anonosaurus*

      I can understand where you’re coming from and it’s a painful experience being on the outside. Most of us want to belong and be accepted. It’s upsetting if this doesn’t happen.

      I’m quite Marmity myself and one thing I’ve learned is that there is a difference between having friends and being part of a friendship group. I am at a point now where I have many good friends but I’m not in a group (at least not any group with more than three other members) and most of my friends don’t know each other. I’m completely ok with that because I’m much more interested in focusing on individual relationships rather than being part of a circle. That generally requires an effort of conformity and participation that I can’t sustain. I don’t have the emotional energy to do that at anything beyond the most superficial level but I also don’t depend on the group level interaction for emotional nutrition.

      One thing that strikes me from your comment is that it’s all about the feeling of not being accepted rather than not being able to find people you like to make friends with. Ultimately for me making friends is all about the quality of one-to-one relationships and that depends more on shared interests, values, sense of humour. Do YOU actually like these people or do you just want them to like you? There’s nothing wrong with that but I wonder what would happen if you turned this on its head and concentrated on connecting with individuals you like and feel rapport with. It might well be that there’s only one or two people in any new friendship circle that you actually like and who will like you back. If so the key is to develop relationships with them and let the group carry on doing its thing. That could end up being more satisfying and those relationships will almost certainly be deeper and more resilient.

      Good luck!

    12. Person from the Resume*

      I like the idea that your picker may be off, but also I noticed you’ve only talked about a group and not A person.

      When you mention being left off the group texting app, that happens with my friends sometimes but I’ll always remember my closest friends or I notice (or catch) that my closest friends are left off.

      I think the key is to work on making A friend and not friends plural. Pick someone or two from the group and invite them a friend “date” and work on getting to know them better, make a real connection.

      After meeting new people, comes getting to know them better and that’s usually a one-on-one activity or at least small group of 3 people, and then that’s where you make a friendship.

    13. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Well first, I suggest not joining the new group, even if one person invites you. One hard lesson to learn is that when someone gives a clear indication they don’t want to include you, you need to let them go and not pursue the friendship any longer. In my experience, sometimes the “chatty, friendly person” doubles down on maintaining the friendship at their level and that’s just toxic for everyone. You deserve to be treated much better than they treated you…secretly creating a new group minus just you IS childish and cruel… but they also get to set their boundaries. Who keeps adding you? Create a new group with that person… or also think about why someone would keep putting you in that position…maybe they don’t have YOUR best interest at heart.

      Think about what does a “deeper” friendship feel/sound/look like to you? How do you experience friendship? In adulthood, usually you won’t find a non-romantic person who spends a significant amount of daily time with you. My BFF and I don’t see/talk/text every day like I would have in, for instance High School or college — back then we were basically at the same life stage and doing the same things at the same time. The deepness of our adult relationship is about our shared values or life philosophy, rather than hobbies or activities. My work, hobby, or happy-hour friends are usually pretty shallow relationships, based on only one small part of me.

      The next step is to examine what do you expect to give to the friendship…if you encounter a “need some space” person, can you happily give them space or is it a tug-o-war for you to always get what you need? Do you try bargaining or pleading to nudge them beyond their comfort level? When they talk are you listening, or thinking about your next turn? Do they get what they need from you? That is the key to a lasting friendship.

      1. 40ish*

        That exclusion from the whatsapp group may not have been on purpose though. Someone may have created the new group bc they were not part of the old one, for example.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          If Pushisty is the only one excluded AND the group abandons and regroups again, it’s on purpose. It’s good to identify a weasel as a weasel.

    14. Anono-me*

      Is there someone actively in your life that you can trust to look at the situation clearly and wisely and to give you useful honest advice on how to improve things? Maybe The person who invited you to join the second group?

      There are lots of things that we can guess about and point out as potential stumbling blocks, but someone who actually knows you can probably give you more relevant suggestions to consider.

      But, unless, except… If you are in USA , there are certain areas of the upper Midwest where people are glacially slow to warm up to newcomers. If you are in one of those areas, it might be more practical to focus on meeting other tranplants. I lived in one such area and slowly wound up with a lovely circle of good friends, but eventually I realized that none of my good friends had grown up there.

  20. TeaFriend*

    I have a two-parter for you (I’m not looking for advice, I’m interested in how you personally respond).

    What do you do when someone you’re friends with starts telling a story that they’ve told you multiple times before? Or switches to a topic/rant that you’ve discussed to death?

    Conversely, what do you do if you’re the friend who has shared the same story/rant/discussion multiple times and your counterpart to the conversation says “Oh yes, you’ve told me this before”?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      On the stories, everyone I know does the same thing so we mostly all either joke about it or nod and smile along. If it was a rant, or a discussion that I didn’t want to get into again, I’ve had some luck with something like “I know that the llama ruling about teapots absolutely sucks, but I just cannot again right now, can we table that one for something that’s easier on our collective blood pressure?”

      1. RussianInTexas*

        By this point I know a friend of mine first saw Red Hot Chili Peppers in a small bar in Tulsa in 1989, because he said so multiple times when having a drink, and misic theme covers up.
        Oh well, I have probably repeated myself too.

    2. Guest*

      Face to face or “just” a phone call? If the latter I start playing cards and let them get it out of their system while I hmm-mmm at the proper places.. I do not know if that makes me a good or a bad friend.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’m usually a patient listener, so the first few times the topic / rant comes up, I try to share advice or commiseration, depending on what they’re looking for. If later on it comes up again, and it becomes clear nothing I’ve said before has stuck with them, I switch to nods and sympathetic noises until they run out of steam and we can change the subject in a natural way.

      I get in the opposite situation a lot with my partner, because of two reasons. 1) He is one of two people in my life I can open up with about the most fraught topics. The other is my best friend, and we live whole countries apart, so our electronic conversations have less of a repetition factor. 2) We have different approaches to stressful situations: I need to call out all the things that worry me so they don’t become overwhelmingly intrusive thoughts, while he is very good at focusing on what he can control and relaxing about the rest. We both know his way is healthier, and I know he says “Oh yes, you’ve told me this before” to try and help me minimise the worry in my head (also, moments like this don’t make me particularly easy to be around, I know). Still, I can’t help feeling dismissed sometimes, because my repeating of the topic or rant comes from a place of “I can’t solve this on my own, and trust your opinion a lot, so please talk it out with me or I’ll drive myself mad”.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      With stories – well, we know each other for long time, and are all guilty of this. You think you may not be, but you are. So smile, nod, let it go.
      Rants and stuff – depends on how heated? If I can quietly excuse myself to go to the bathroom, for example, that’s what I do. Especially in the multiple people situation.

      1. TeaFriend*

        Hopefully I’ve misunderstood here but “you think you may not be, but you are” sounds like you’ve assumed I think I don’t repeat stories. Obviously I repeat stories. Everyone does. (Though I do try to open with “did I tell you about the time…” so people can stop me if I did). The question was just to see how other people behave in those situations.

        1. Reba*

          I took it as “you” = the general you/all readers.

          I think the response is different if the story or topic falls in the positive-to-neutral range or distressing-to-angering range. Like, if we’re just shooting the shit and a familiar story is raised, I can take the chance to ask a further question about it (“do you remember x thing about that time?”) or just try to keep the convo moving in whatever way. If it’s an unhappy topic, I might say something like “I can tell that is still bothering you, something something supportive remark.”

    5. Barb*

      For a story repeater: “I love it when you tell this story.” Even if I don’t. It clues them into why my mind will start wandering in 2 seconds.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Actually that’s quite a nice approach, assuming it’s somewhat genuine and you can say it without sarcasm, as it lets the person tell the story but may remind them they don’t need to belabor it or could maybe focus on the part that’s most relevant to the topic at hand. I don’t mind hearing repeat stories sometimes but maybe not with the same level of enthusiasm as the first time.

    6. Courageous cat*

      I am that friend and I have friends that are too.

      When someone tells me a story they’ve told me multiple times before: “oh my god I KNOW YOU HAVE TOLD ME!!!”

      When I tell a story someone has heard multiple times before: “oh my god I KNOW YOU HAVE TOLD ME!!!”

      The key is delivering it in a laughing manner, and to have that kind of relationships with your friends where you can roast each other.

    7. KatEnigma*

      Sometimes, if I want to… hurry it along, say, I will chime in with “oh yeah, details of story that are coming up! I love this story” cheerfully.

      Only my FIL will then CHANGE THE STORY and tell me that the details I added of the story I’ve heard 30,000 times are allllll wrong, and here’s what really happened. (Both my SIL and husband verify my version. My SIL even tried to say that in front of him, that he’s always told the story how I said and he got mad and denied it…) So then I just roll my eyes and let it go.

    8. fposte*

      For two, I definitely agree with “I can’t anymore on that topic. I’m taking a break for my own sanity. Can we talk about cats for awhile instead?”

      For one, it often takes me a moment to remember whether I’ve heard the story before, so I can answer “Did I tell you about Fred?” with “I’m not sure–remind me?” or “OMG, there’s Fred news with his car” with “I think I heard this–is this about the paint thing?” But I kind of enjoy hearing true classic stories again, especially fun ones like how partners met. It’s mostly when they’re long-winded complaints about things that should be dropped by now that I really will sometimes put effort in redirecting; yes, the meter was broken in 2002 and you didn’t know it and still got a parking ticket, but if it’s taking you longer than that to say, I’m going to ask if there’s something going on in your life now that’s making you feel unfairly done by and bringing that up for you.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        “Did I tell you about (whatever)?”
        “Probably, but go ahead and if I know it I’ll join in on the chorus!”

    9. Not A Manager*

      Agree with everyone about cutting off the rants if they really bug you. In terms of stories, generally I try to extend grace because as we get older, we have a lot of old stories and fewer new stories and that’s just the way it is. Would I rather hear about the time you saw The Cars in your freshman year, or your colonoscopy last week?

      But when it’s really a story that I know to death, sometimes I’ll try to head it off by jumping to the emotional point of the story. “OH MY GOD I KNOW! They showed up with a raw turkey and a can of Sterno. I always thought they did that on purpose, but you said they just forgot.”

    10. Pudding*

      If it’s just a story they’re repeating because they’ve forgotten they already told me, I usually respond with “oh yeah! I remember this! You did [insert detail].” Then redirect with a follow up question that cues them into where we left off last time. I read a tip years ago that responding with “I remember” instead of “you already told me” helps people feel less bad about repeating themselves, and it works well for me.

      If it’s a rant or a story I’ve heard a bunch of times, I’ll usually smile and nod and mhmm and then change the subject as soon as I politely can. If it’s someone I’m very close to and comfortable with, like my husband, I may bluntly tell them I’ve heard as much about that subject as I’m willing to listen to, or tell them I’m a little worn out on the topic but they have two minutes to get it out of their system and then we have to talk about something else. I am more likely to do that with people talking about problems who just want to vent and not problem solve – I have a strong problem solving drive and it stresses me out to listen to prolonged conversations about problems where a clear solution is present but not being used. I do not, for example, want to hear a lot about hunger from someone who is able to eat, but will not feed themselves or allow me to feed them. The older I get, the blunter I get about stuff like that.

    11. RagingADHD*

      For stories, if I’m the hearer, I try to say something along the lines of “Oh, I think I remember this – when you were at Place?” In such a way that implies I like the story and we are sharing a good memory. Rather than a shutty-downy kind of way.

      If I’m the teller, I say something like, “Oh have I?” And use the reason the topic came up or the point of the story to connect with asking them about their experiences.

      Like, if I’m telling the story about the time I was in Paris and saw… And the other person says it’s a repeat, then I’ll ask them about traveling, or France, or wierd things they’ve seen.

      For rants, if it’s something I don’t mind letting them go on about, I just nod and say, “I know.” If it’s bothersome, it depends on my relationship with them. Sometimes I just tune out / don’t engage or engage minimally by saying “hmm” and let them run out of steam. Sometimes I say, “You know, we’ve been through this and it’s not going anywhere. Can we talk about something else?”

      If I’m the ranter and someone tells me they’ve heard it before, I say “Ack, sorry. It just gets me going, you know?” And then ask them a question about something tangential or unrelated.

      Usually when people cut off repetitive talking, it’s because the speaker is dominating the conversation and the other person wants a turn to be heard. So asking them a question is a good way to pay back the social “debt” of going on too much.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      For hearing a story a friend has told me before, if it’s a good story I listen to it again. For me, I love words in general and interesting stories. Also, if sharing the story makes my friend happy, that’s another reason to just listen.

      As the talker rather than the listener, I’ve discovered that as a senior my memory is not as good as it used to be, meaning I know I’ve told someone the story but can’t remember whom. I now often start off with, “Maybe I’ve told you this before, I can’t remember.” Then when I start my story, that leaves room for the listener to say, “Oh, you’ve told me that before.” And we can comfortably change the topic.

      For a rant, if someone is irritated or complaining about something, fair enough, we all do that including me and so I’ll listen. But the same rant over and over is different. I speak up about that. I say that I understand that Thing bothers them and at the same time it brings up negative feelings for me to hear it multiple times, and could we talk about something else? I don’t think I personally repeat rants very often, but if I do, I completely respect if someone says they don’t want to hear it again.

    13. Chilipepper attitude*

      I start almost every story with, “I’ve probably told you this story about the guy on AAM who was accused of poisoning a coworker?” Or whatever story.

      If they say yes, I say, so that’s why I value our boss so much! Or whatever my point was. If they say no, I tell the story.

      I like to think I’m modeling for others to say something similar.

      If others start to tell me a repeat story, I get animated and excited and say, sorta talking with them/over them, “ooh, the funny one where the guy was accused of poisoning his coworker.”

      It seems to help stop the story and I’m usually genuinely excited about it.

    14. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      If I’m in a group, I let the storyteller go on. There may be someone who hasn’t heard it and I lose nothing by letting it go. One-on-one I may say something like, “I think I may have already heard this one?” And if possible follow with a prompt for parts/info that I haven’t heard, “Did you ever find out what happened to the missing fish?”… “Do you think you’ll get another fish?”

      For a rant…I remind them we’ve got the rounds with this topic before and my opinion hasn’t changed, “you know I’m not the right audience for this”… “you already know we don’t agree on this topic and it would be better to leave it alone and enjoy our lunch”…”i still feel the same as the last time you brought this up” or “please let this subject go.”

  21. KeinName*

    Poll: Should I miss my grandmother’s funeral because I have a prebooked holiday?
    Maybe you have some insights for me?
    I‘ve been so looking forward to an uninterrupted 2,5 weeks at a destination 10 hours away (train and flight), where I would meet all my very new (5mo) boyfriend‘s relatives and go to a nice spa hotel and have cosy movie watching and walks. And now my grandmother, whom I liked a lot, has died and will be buried right in the middle of the 2,5 weeks. And my family, who I also like, would probably want me there. I was already feeling a bit guilty about missing Christmas with them. Now I would miss Christmas and the funeral and wouldn’t be as light-hearted as I would want to be…
    What should I do? I could fly after the funeral, losing out on holiday time and money, and having to just stay home waiting for the funeral with nothing to really occupy me and lift my spirits. Or fly back and forth, which is rather bad for the environment and energy draining. Or I could send someone to go to the funeral instead of me, which is an original idea but a bit weird. Ugh.
    Downside of not going to funeral is I don’t get to say goodbye to grandmother (I live three hours away so am not involved in any of the aftermath currently) and my mother would be without her child there, and relatives might think I am heartless.
    Any advice?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t generally go to funerals, personally. They say they’re for the living, and going to them doesn’t make me feel any better (and usually the exact opposite), so I don’t do it. When my gran passed, I talked to my dad (her son) and asked him if he wanted or needed me to be there – if he did, I’d have sucked it up and gone – but he said no, he didn’t really want to go himself so he was fine with me not being there, and so I just stayed home (I live a state away). On the day/time of the service, I went off by myself at home, lit a candle and had a bit of quiet thoughtfulness on my own, and for me, that was much better. If anyone got judgey about me not being there, I never heard about it.

    2. E*

      Not quite the same but I didn’t travel back for my grandfather’s funeral when he died when I was on vacation. I have mixed feelings about it but don’t live in regret. I wouldn’t worry about your relatives’ judgment. What do you think your grandmother would have wanted for you? If you decide to go on the vacation, maybe you can find some way to mark it — write something beforehand to give to your mom so you’re with her in spirit, and light a candle where you are? Do some kind of memorial service on her birthday or another meaningful day? Best of luck with the decision, and my condolences for your loss

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, what would your grandmother advise? I’m leaning toward you should stick with your vacation plans. You can say goodbye to her wherever you are and honor her in some way. Call your mom after the service or the next day.

    3. mreasy*

      If it were me, I would go if possible. I am from a family who pushes down grief and never went to any funerals (also didn’t tell me when close relatives died, don’t worry, I’m in therapy). I couldn’t afford to go to my then-boyfriend’s grandmother’s funeral (she raised him & they were super close) so some friends bought my flights. I am so happy I was able to be there as his support. Since then I tend to go if a friend invites me, as I’ve seen what a huge difference it can make for them to have a support system there. I wouldn’t worry about what your relatives think, but rather your chance to celebrate your grandmother with other people who loved her and be a support and help to your mom.

    4. Bt;dt*

      Oof, that’s a difficult one.

      My advice would be to imagine yourself 10 years from now. Looking back, which choice would make you feel glad that you did X? Self care with time off is just as valid a choice as being a support for your mom btw!

      Is the funeral event itself very important, or would spending time with your family (maybe a couple days at the beginning of your holiday?) fulfill an emotional need for you and mom just as well?

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    5. Still*

      How does your mum feel? Is she handling it well? Would she just prefer it if you’re there or is she going to have a significantly harder time without you there? Does she have other support to lean on? That would be the only thing I’d really consider, other than your own feelings.

      I’ve been to the funeral of my grandfather, whom I liked, with my family, whom I also like, and honestly it was whatever. Everybody spoke well of him but there was no drama or huge feelings. My mother handled it surprisingly well, as did her siblings. Some cousins were there, some had other obligations; a few years later, I couldn’t tell you who was there and who wasn’t. Maybe it’s because grandpa was quite old and had a long, happy, healthy life right until his sudden death, but everybody other than my grandma took it in stride.

      Personally, I’d go on the trip and make sure to call a lot and visit right after coming back.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, I agree that taking the temperature with other family members would be a big part of the calculation. I wonder also if folks would be open to holding another gathering later on?

        I have missed a funeral of one family member, and it wasn’t over a holiday, just a long trip when I was broke. I talked with my mom about it, who felt I had honored this relative during her life, which was long, and all survivors were feeling peaceful.

        I would not, however, have wanted to miss funerals of my grandparents, for my own sake and for being a support to my parent. But the whole family scheduled them for a time when we could all make it (cremation so this was doable).

    6. bratschegirl*

      I personally would fly back and forth, so as to miss out on the least possible amount of vacation while still attending the funeral. I second bt;dt’s recommendation to envision which choice you might feel happiest about when looking back some years from now.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Personally I didn’t go to one of my grandmother’s funerals for no reason other than we were not close, it was far away, my parents didn’t care, and honestly I didn’t want to.

        BUT if that doesn’t feel right, I would fly back and forth. It’s 2.5 weeks — you could still have 2+ great weeks with a few days carved out in the middle to travel back. Yes, it’s a huge hassle but this is a special case and you *could* do everything. I would definitely not cancel this very special trip for it. (And based on the length of the trip and that it involves multiple other people, I am assuming it can’t easily be rescheduled.)

      2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        I concur with this. Funerals are for the living, and supporting/sharing this experience with your mom is the reason to go. Maybe also ask her if she would like to come back to the vacation destination with you afterward for a few days… just for a change of scene before she has to get to the estate settling (which is very difficult and draining too).

    7. Amcb13*

      A few questions to consider: Have you experienced other folks you were close to passing away? Did you go to their funerals? How did that feel?

      I know for me, funerals have been really helpful in allowing me to transition from the first phase of grief where it’s really consuming into a second phase that’s easier to live with day to day. I lost someone close to me during a part of the pandemic that made a large gathering impossible and I found that it made it much harder to move into that second, quieter phase of grieving. If that’s been your experience of death, I would say that going would be worth the disruption to the nice vacation. If you’ve experienced things differently, then perhaps the nice vacation is the best way for you to process your loss.

      You also mentioned your mom. If this is her mom, and if you want to support your mom in a time that is likely especially difficult for her, talk to her now about what she needs. Maybe she could use support more now than at the funeral when other family members will be there? There isn’t a hard and fast rule, there’s just you and your feelings and your relationships with the people you love. Check in with yourself and your loved ones.

    8. Venua*

      Your reason for not going back and forth is environmental. This suggests that you don’t have a lot of negative about this option, so I would suggest that for you.

      Don’t worry much about the carbon footprint for the flights. The plane will be going anyway, and flying isn’t something you do often. You also mentioned being drained, but you’re on vacation and people you’re visiting will understand.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree re going back and forth–sure, it’s draining. Every option will be draining in its own way.

        Skipping the flights will have a negligible impact on the environment–like Venua says, the planes are going with or without you.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I’m thinking the same – the environmental factors aren’t super compelling considering this is such a rare situation. I’m actually curious if OP just doesn’t actually want to interrupt their vacation and “environmental reasons” is a stand-in for that.

        1. Willis*

          That’s sure what it sounds like. If you don’t want to go because it would disrupt the trip with your boyfriend, at least own that. But telling people you’re not going to a funeral because of the environmental impact (when you clearly are fine with traveling for other stuff) is pretty eye roll inducing.

    9. AY*

      I literally could not imagine not being there for my mother. But she would expect me, and much more importantly, need me to be there. If I had to miss it for some reason, it would be a wound for the rest of my life. I would examine your relationship with your mother and see if the same is true for you. Would this cause you and her sorrow?

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      For me it would come down to what it meant for your mom, inferring from the letter that you are very close to her and want to support her.

      Neither of my kids came to my mom’s funeral, and I was completely okay with that. Even though their presence would have been a comfort. The one who lives close to us left school to made a trip to see her after the second stroke, and the other one was on another continent and had planned to make a special trip to see her at Xmas that was derailed by the stroke. Their trying to connect with her while she was alive is what mattered to me. (Also, my mom had moved close to my sister during the pandemic and had the first stroke just as everyone got vaccinated, so the funeral wasn’t going to have any friends and greater community to grieve with.)

      However, I had my husband there to provide moral and physical support. If your mom and you are close and there isn’t a supportive spouse, and her family are kinda stressful, then I would lean toward going.

    11. kina lillet*

      Can you call the airline and the hotel and reschedule for after the funeral? Fly out after the funeral and stay for your full 2.5 weeks? The airline will probably ask you for some more money and the hotel may or may not. But the extra fees will probably be less than flying back-n-forth in the middle of the vacation. And, the hotel probably wants your rescheduled business more than it wants your cancellation, especially if you mention (in a non-demanding way) that it’s due to a conflict like a funeral, which many people see as quite unavoidable.

      Of course it might not be possible but these things can be more flexible than you might think especially if you call someone and talk to them in person to rearrange it.

      I’m so sorry about your grandma.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Death in the family is often a reason thst airlines & hotels will açcept to let you reschedule even nonrefundable bookings. It’s worth asking. And maybe tour office would let you go on vacation asking term bereavement leave.

    12. California Dreamin’*

      Not quite the same, but years ago my aunt in another stare, whom my dad was very, very close to, was dying as the wedding day of some very close friends of mine was approaching. It came down to where I was thinking okay, if she dies on Saturday or Sunday, the funeral will be over before the wedding the next weekend, and if she dies on Thursday or Friday, I can leave for the funeral after the wedding. But she died on like the Wednesday so I had to miss my friends’ wedding that I really wanted to be at with our whole friend group. But I dearly loved my aunt, and more importantly my dad really needed me to go with him. I’m an only child and my parents were divorced, so I was my dad’s main person in life. If it’s remotely possible, I would fly back for the funeral in the middle of your vacation because your mom probably really wants you there.

    13. KatEnigma*

      Don’t worry about what others will say.

      When I was 13, my grandmother died a year to the day after my grandfather had died. We’d had a family vacation planned to start just days after the funeral. We had the funeral and then left and those busy body extended relatives had things to say. My mom (and only child) basically told them to STFU, as it was her mother who had died and our immediate family could grieve as we saw fit, but that canceling our vacation wasn’t going to bring my grandmother back!

      Personally, I’d skip the funeral.

    14. I'm Done*

      Please go to the funeral. The plane you need to take to get there will fly with or without you. Yes, you deserve your vacation but sometimes life happens and we need to bite the bullet and do the right thing.

      1. KatEnigma*

        “The right thing” isn’t defined by anyone other than OP. Not attending funerals is very often “the right thing” for other people.

        1. Roland*

          The reasons they are considering not going are missing out on vacation and the environmental impact of hopping back and forth, so I think it’s pretty clear they would go otherwise. This is isn’t general “going is always the right thing” advice, it’s advice to this OP who sounds like they want to be there.

    15. Generic+Name*

      You can rebook your holiday. You can’t have a do-over of your grandmother’s funeral. Can you shift your holiday dates so you can attend the funeral and go on holiday?

    16. fposte*

      I’d check my personal guilt/angst/perseverating meter. It sounds like you’re already doing that and thinking that the trip won’t be what you’d hoped it would be with the funeral going on. I wouldn’t worry about what the relatives thought, but I would consider how much it might matter to my mother.

      For me personally, I would have a hard time committing emotionally to the vacation with this and would spend a lot of time wondering if I should have gone to the funeral, whereas if I go to the funeral, I might think how much more enjoyable a spa would be but I won’t self-recriminate. I would either go back and forth or go to the holiday after the funeral. You say you’d have nothing to really occupy yourself before the funeral–usually after a death and before a funeral there’s a lot of work, so I’d ask what you can take off your mom’s plate and tell her you’d rather be doing something.

      The one thing I’d avoid is asking my mom what I should do. She’s got enough going on that she shouldn’t have to carry this call for me, and I want to make sure her love of her kid doesn’t bury her own needs.

    17. Jessica*

      I would go to the funeral. And do whatever works best for you personally in terms of taking half the vacation, flying back in the middle, trying to reschedule it, etc. If you choose to wait and go on the second half after the funeral, maybe your mom could use your company and/or logistical support during that first half time.
      Sometimes there’s no substitute for showing up. And it can be something people (including you) remember always.

    18. Emma*

      I would likely go on the vacation, and go to the funeral, and return to the vacation. It will be annoying, but I would have the least regrets doing that.

    19. RagingADHD*

      If it’s right in the middle, I would go for the first part of the holiday, meet the people, and then fly back for the funeral and spend the rest of the holiday time with my mom.

      The period right after the funeral is very hard and your mom could probably use the support.

      1. Not A Manager*

        This is what I would do also. You get to meet the family and share some time with them, and you will be there to support your mother. For me personally, life cycle events are important in themselves, and they are important in terms of family connection.

        My mother passed recently after a very long and full life and a fairly long period of lingering inaccessibility. Frankly, I wasn’t sure who would bother to come to her funeral. In fact, a lot of quite distant relatives came to honor the person she once had been. Some of them I hadn’t seen in years and I certainly wouldn’t have missed them if they didn’t come, but it meant a lot to me that they did. Similarly, I just attended several bar mitzvahs of cousins that I had literally never met – but I know their parents and other relatives. If people don’t show up for the big stuff, they eventually get lost.

        To your question of what your own relatives would think if you didn’t attend the funeral, a related question is what your boyfriend’s family might think. I know people have all kinds of very complicated family relationships, but all other things being equal I would probably have some thoughts and feelings if my adult child’s partner was on vacation with me instead of attending the funeral of a close family member.

      2. WestsideStory*

        I think this may be the best idea. You will have the meeting that is important to you, but consider going back for the funeral and remaining with your family. It’s an odd gift you’ve been given to have the time off when you for sure may be needed by your mom.

    20. Bexx*

      I would go to the funeral and try to rebook the trip. I’ve lost both grandfathers in the past few months and I’ve had to cancel or move multiple trips. I’ve found that people can be gracious about cancelations/ refunds when the death of an immediate family member is the cause.

    21. carcinization*

      I’d fly back and forth if I had the means, but that’s just me. It sounds like the holiday trip and the funeral are both important to you, and that’s a way to do both. My grandmother and I had our ups and downs, and also lived at least a couple of hours away from one another most of the time, but I still miss her almost every day and she’s been gone for almost 10 years.

    22. MM*

      I’ve attended two funerals via Zoom because they were out of state and I couldn’t travel since I was high-risk for COVID. One zoom was set up by the funeral home, one was set up by the family. I would see if that was an option to let you be there “in spirit” if you do not want to travel to the funeral in person.

    23. KeinName*

      Thank you all so much for taking the time to think this through for me, and your kindness in doing so.
      I had a chance meanwhile to get advice from a friend (who suggested what some of the first commenters said) and hear from my mother. She said her and her siblings had discussed ways for me to ‚be there in spirit‘ and take lots of pictures and give me a token from my grandmother to bring on holiday and do a little ritual. From that i take she might be okay with me not being there. So I’ll try to go see them before I leave. And then I will keep in mind that my mother might need more calls after the funeral. She is very well aware of her feelings and never pushes anything down.
      She has no spouse (very independent) but very close younger siblings who handle the majority of the logistics, and supportive cousins.
      I can’t say I disagree with anything you all wrote though and it’s still not ideal. Also, yes, my boyfriend‘s family might be scandalised. He lives in the country I am going to though and I haven’t seen him for two months and this is the only time I get off work so I really want to go. I‘ll just have to see how we all feel. Thank you again!

    24. Missb*

      My husband and two kids were on their annual multi-week bicycle trip when dh’s grandma died. I went to her funeral while they stayed on their trip.

      I would think you could send some flowers and let your mom know how sad you are about your grandmother passing. She’s dead; saying goodbye to her doesn’t need to be at a funeral. You can go somewhere quiet, or where the two of you have been before, or just on your porch and say goodbye to her.

      My father died during a family vacation (dh, kids, me) and we were in another country. We didn’t end our trip. We knew he was going downhill, his mind was already gone so running to be by his side when he died really didn’t make any sense at all. I have zero regrets.

    25. Anono-me*

      I think you have a hard decision to make and I would suggest that the two main criteria to consider are how you will feel and how your mom will feel.

      I worry that cutting your vacation in half might mean you get two one week vacations rather than 2 weeks vacation interrupted by a rushed trip to your grandmother’s funeral.

      I 100% believe that you should not worry about what your relatives have to say about whatever you decide. If it was important enough to them that you be at the funeral, they would have asked you about your schedule . If they had asked and then planned the funeral for this Monday or Tuesday you have easily delayed your departure by a few days to attend.

      Sympathy on you loss.

    26. Tea and Sympathy*

      My mother died earlier this year. My nephew and his daughter had the same situation – a pre-arranged vacation. My sister and brother and I gave him our blessings to go on vacation and encouraged him not feel guilty about it. We knew he loved my mom and would have liked to have been at her funeral, but we also knew that he had been saving and planning for this trip for a year.

      In your case it seems like your mother has moral support from other sources and will not be upset if you miss the funeral. So just figure out if you want to go back or not, based on how you really feel, not how you think you should feel , or might feel at some point in the future.

    27. TallGuy*

      First of all – I’m so sorry for your and your family’s loss.

      That said…it really depends. It’s a LOT of traveling! But I would go if possible in this case – the planes and trains are probably going to run with or without you. And yes, funerals are for the living, but…that’s exactly why I’d tell you to go in this case. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but “I missed my grandmother’s funeral to spend time with my (relatively new) boyfriend at a resort” doesn’t sound that good for your family dynamics going forward, and it seems like family is something that you value.

      The counterbalance is that it’s 7 to 13 hours of travel each way, it sounds like. That…quite honestly, is exhausting and sounds expensive. (Maybe not where you’re at, but I’m assuming based on where I’m from.)

      1. KeinName*

        Thank you for your kind considerations! Just in case anyone reads this in the future: i am not going on a 2,5 week spa retreat ;) I am going to my (yes, very new) boyfriend‘s home and we will be visiting all this relatives for their various Christmas celebrations and then go for 1 spa day in the new year. Doesn’t make it look much better, I just wanted to clarify in case someone thought I must be extremely rich and could easily afford lots of flights and hotels ;)

    28. MissCoco*

      My grandfather (my father’s dad) died the week my mother and I left for a two week trip to Iceland for her 65th. We decided ahead of time that we’d go even if we needed to miss the funeral, because he enjoyed traveling and would care more about us going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip than being at his funeral. It ended up playing out that way. We thought of him lots on the trip, and did some extra family calls the day before and of the funeral to offer some emotional support to people, but we still had our vacation.

      Now when I think of that vacation, I think of him and how he loved to travel, and embraced the good things in life.

      My mother’s mother died the week before my wedding, and I wanted really badly to go to her funeral, but decided against it based on health and logistic factors. I wish I would have made it, because I did want to be with my family, but I don’t think it would have made my grief much easier.

  22. Irish Teacher*

    A couple of people asked for me to elaborate on the “Write Your Own Christie” competition that I took part in back around…I don’t know, 2013, maybe?

    Basically, they had it divided up into about 10 chapters and they started it by giving the first few paragraphs of A Murder is Announced. So the first round was to write a first chapter that began with those paragraphs. Then the following month, they ran it again, asking people to write a second chapter that followed on from that and so on.

    Each chapter was given a title, based on the titles of chapters in A Murder is Announced, though not always the exact same, and they had to be taken into account too. For example, there is a chapter in A Murder is Announced entitled “Enter Miss Marple,” so that was changed to “Enter the Detective.”

    This is the main chapter I won. Two things I had to remember when writing was a) it was the 1950s. This meant I took up way more of the chapter than I would have expected just having the characters find a phone to contact the police and b) it’s England, which meant characters are not going to say things like “I’m after calling the police.

    At the end, they had a sort of closed competition between the winners to write a prologue and choose a title and my prologue won that. I am less proud of that than the other as they were maybe only about 7 or 8 winners and I don’t even know how many of those chose to enter a prologue.

    1. Trina*

      Thank you for elaborating! Do you remember how the estate advertised the contest? I love the idea of participating in endorsed fanfiction, but I haven’t the slightest where I’d look for announcements along those lines, short of following every author/literary estate ever.

    2. Myrin*

      I was one of the people interested in this, so thank you so much for elaborating how the whole thing worked. What a fascinating premise! (And “A Murder is Announced” happens to be one of my favourites anyway, so yay on that front as well!) Again, thanks for sharing!

  23. Anon for this one*

    I’ve been in treatment for binge eating for years now and am better but had a bad relapse all last week – stressful time lead to me reverting to all my short-term coping strategies. Really looking for any stories of recovering from something that 1. Feels so ingrained into my behaviour and 2. I’ve tried and failed to beat! I’m trying to take courage but I feel like I’m just on a hamster wheel with this stuff.

    1. Nitpicker*

      I recommend Overeaters Anonymous.
      One of their slogans is “Don’t quit before the miracle.” I was in your position (basically a 20 year relapse) and one day (through a combination of circumstances) it just clicked. That was 13 years ago and I’ve been maintaining a major weight loss since then. Not perfect but still good.
      My heart goes out to you and I wish you all the best.

    2. Still*

      Why does doing worse for a week count as failing but doing much better for an extended period of time before that doesn’t count as winning? Is it only a win if you never ever have a setback ever again? Cause that seems like a very high bar for success.

      I don’t know if you’ll ever get to a point when it’s effortless and not an issue anymore, but as long as it’s a struggle, every day you’re doing better is a win. It’s not all or nothing. You were doing better and you can do it again. Last week doesn’t erase all your progress and hard work.

      I hope you’re taking care of yourself in other ways, everything is so much more daunting when you’re stressed and exhausted.

      1. Wannessa*

        100%! I recommend looking into the “all-or-nothing” cognitive distortion, which tells us that if we mess up even one time, none of it matters anymore, we’ll never be able to do it, it’s always going to be too hard. That’s really harmful rhetoric for our goals, and is much more likely to encourage the same behavior that we aren’t happy about.

        I find it helpful to spend some time reflecting on this negative self-talk and reframing/redirecting it. i.e. you’re disappointed – that’s valid, it’s OK to be disappointed. Why are you disappointed? The immediate thought might be things like, “I messed up” or worse, but that’s not really the root of it, right? You’re disappointed because this is really important to you. So why is it important to you? Because it makes you feel so much better in XYZ ways, both physically and mentally. There are tangible benefits to the work you’ve done, and you know that because you’ve done an awesome job at it for a long time. You are choosing to do hard things because you know you deserve the way you feel when you do. Your disappointment is a reflection of how strong and determined you are.

        Or something along those lines! I can’t speak for your exact feelings, but that’s the general loop my brain goes through. At the end of the day, the fact that I’m so hurt when I fail is evidence of how much I really love myself and want to treat myself well. If I beat myself up for my missteps, I’m not respecting why I’m trying in the first place.

    3. sagewhiz*

      Recommend reading Iris Pastor’s book, Secrets of a Weight Obsessed Woman, chroinlcalling het 40 yr bulimia, recovery & all her setbacks. And learning to be gracious to herself when stress still pushes her back down occasionally. Wishing you all the best.

    4. TPS reporter*

      I second giving yourself a lot of grace. I always think that food issues are so much harder than many other addictions/unwanted behaviors to control because food has to be in our lives as humans. It’s not like alcohol or gambling. I’m not downplaying those issues but it’s different when we have to confront and eat food every day just to live.

      As someone who’s dealt with a lot of food related issues, these days I just try to be more mindful when eating. Like what does my body want, am I eating slowly and really enjoying what I’m eating. Do I really crave that bad food? If I really want it I can have it.

      I don’t know, it’s not perfect. I think a lot of it is not about the food it’s about letting go. Just living in the moment of what you want at the time and not feeling guilty later. Somehow divorcing food from guilt. Being more relaxed about eating will help you relax while eating? It’s really hard and I sympathize.

    5. E*

      So sorry you’re feeling this way. id you can, try not to see yourself as failing but rather as someone who is going through something hard. You may want to check out Christy Harrison who writes/talks a lot about recovering from eating disorders and anti-diet culture. Good luck and take care!!

    6. marvin*

      I’m sorry, that feeling of being stuck is awful. I don’t have this exact issue but I struggle with my mental health and have had similar feelings about other coping mechanisms that I’ve had.

      A few ways of reframing my thinking that I’ve found helpful are: recognizing that the behaviour itself is fulfilling a function for me and helping me get through difficult things even if I’d like to redirect to a healthier long term strategy; reflecting on the changes that I have made and the agency I have; thinking of progress as a process where I get a “reset” every day. As long as I’m trying to move forward on a given day, I’m succeeding, no matter what happened the day before. This is a bit of a difficult one to get your head around if you’re a perfectionist like me but I find it comforting.

      I hope you’re able to be in a better place with this soon! Solidarity.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      This is going to sound backwards, but congratulations on being in recovery enough to have a relapse! I’m serious. You weren’t binge eating, you hit a bump in the road, and you’ve relapsed. It’s ok. Be proud of the progress you did make (because that is freaking awesome!!!), forgive yourself for being human and struggling, and resume doing your best. You’ve got your healthy coping strategies, use them and you’ll get back to healthy behavior.

    8. cat in cardboard box*

      I’ve seen some drawings etc. that depict recovery less as a hamster wheel (ending up in the same place all the time) and more like a rising spiral or roller coaster (there will always be ups and downs, but hopefully the downs aren’t going quite as low as before you started the journey). It can be really helpful to expect that the downs will happen, as that helps us to not beat ourselves up as much when they do. It’s not realistic to expect a continuous improvement. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, this is also a hard time for nearly all humans and especially everyone who struggles with any kind of mental challenges. Being gentle to yourself and accepting as much as possible are key. Another way to look at it is – your brain is doing what it’s supposed to do (in a biological sense), it’s helping you cope enough with life to survive! Hopefully you can find some way to think about it differently and yourself more compassionately.

    9. Also anon for this*

      First of all, sending you big mental hugs if you want them. I had a binge eating disorder for a couple of years about a decade ago and it was so crushing every time I would relapse. I applaud you for reaching out to get support here – for me, shame was such a huge part of the cycle, and asking for help was really hard.

      I would call myself completely recovered at this point, so it is possible. I would say the only remnant of it now is more of a sense of mindfulness about eating (how my body feels, the pleasure of eating with intention, a sense of when I feel full), which I view as positive.

      The three main things that helped me recover were 1) therapy, 2) a dietitian, and 3) cultivation of mindfulness and meditation. My therapist and my dietitian actually coordinated with each other to help give me targeted care, which I think helped.

      I don’t know about your triggers, but for me bingeing wasn’t really about the food; it was a coping mechanism to deal with extreme anxiety. I would enter a numb/trancelike state whenever I would binge, and I think it was almost soothing in a way. I found that when I started addressing my underlying anxiety more, I also started to have fewer relapses. Mindfulness also helped with this, and helped to put me more in touch with my body.

      Another issue that contributed to relapses for me was I would often feel so ashamed and unhealthy from bingeing that I would have a really restrictive diet in the in-between times. Lots of low-fat salads, etc. I think the lack of pleasure I felt in my non-bingeing foods also contributed to relapses, putting me in a yo-yo cycle. The dietitian helped me to find a more stable set of foods that are more sustainable for an everyday diet. She helped give me permission to not restrict myself after a binge, and to really pay attention to and enjoy the food I was eating with intention.

      I would say once I started really addressing my issues by therapy/seeing a dietitian, I probably got better within 6 months or so? There were definitely some slip ups along the way in those 6 months, but like I said, it’s been about a decade of full recovery (zero binges) for me. I know having access to the above resources may be challenging for some, but at the very least I think a focus on mindfulness can be achieved for free (look for guided meditations on YouTube or the Calm app or podcasts). I also really recommend “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zin (probably something you can check out from the library). Hopefully you can also enlist support from friends and loved ones. Once I finally broke through the shame and started talking about it with others, it really helped my recovery.

      I know it’s really hard right now, but it can get better. I’m sending you so many good wishes. Please be kind to yourself; you deserve it.

    10. Zweisatz*

      One thought I’ve encountered around this is slips will happen, but don’t let it become a slide by berating yourself about the slip. We are imperfect, we will experience stressors, we will revert back to old behaviors, but if we acknowledge that and give us the mental space to sometimes slip up, any slip-up doesn’t have to become a whole ordeal. Start fresh the next day (or week or when the stressor is under control – whatever is attainable).

      With my own chronic stuff that might be treatable over *years*, which means day to day progress is pretty invisible, I’ve started to consider how far I’ve come. I might not be able to see that I’m better than last month, but what about 6 months ago? Am I better than when the whole issue started to manifest?
      If I think about it that way I can clearly see the progress and it allows me to be a little more patient again. (also I write things down that have improved since then, simply because I forget things easily and it’s nice being able to refer back to the list)

    11. Anon for this one too*

      Related to a different addictive behavior – I like keeping track of the behavior and keeping track of how often I relapse. Looking at the pattern helps me realize that yes, I’m actually pretty good most of the time, and that I can come back after a relapse. Stress tends to trigger relapses for me, too, and I’m sure for a lot of other people. It’s normal. Just be kind to yourself, understand that you can come back from this just like you came back from your other relapses, and keep on keeping on.

  24. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I’m seeing Joel Kim Booster live this week and so excited! Sitting at the back though so he doesn’t try any of his crowd work with me…

  25. Zzzzzz*

    New topic (on a not so fun topic; U.S.-based answers, pls): what are you doing to prepare for elder care for yourself? Types of insurance (any companies too pls provide that info) that isn’t employer-dependent that will cover living in in old age or medically assisted living facilities–so many break the bank beyond the IRA/401K etc. I looked into this a few years ago and costs were prohibitive. We have a horrid elder care “system” in this country. I am watching my parents deal with this now, am single, have no kids to help me, and am getting close to age 60. I currently live in a major metro area but my current job is remote and would move if cities recs are part of this answer (though I currently don’t have or need a car where I live which is a boon and part of the financial picture I’d like to keep in check).

    1. bratschegirl*

      We were lucky enough to qualify for a good group rate for long-term care insurance through spouse’s former job (John Hancock is the insurance company). If you buy individual insurance, my understanding is that they can raise your rates as you age; if you’re part of a group, they can’t raise your rates unless they raise them for the entire group, which of course does happen but it’s only happened for us once so far and we’ve had the policy for a good many years now. If your employer doesn’t offer this, is there any group you can join (college alumni association, etc.) that offers this as a benefit to members?

    2. fposte*

      It’s rough, isn’t it? I looked into long-term care insurance and thought that the market was too volatile to make sense as a purchase for me. But I’m also lucky enough to have a pension and enough, with a house sale, to enter a continuing care retirement community near me. My dad was in a great one one and while I like his better than the ones near me, there’s a pretty nice one that I’ve toured and checked the finances/waitlist of, and as a single person I want to limit the caretaking gambles I have to take. So this is another one of those things that current fposte will be doing for future fposte. My best friend here is planning this alongside me and we both know people who waited too long, so we’re likely to keep each other on the track when the time to leave our current houses arises.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Simplify your finances as best you can – having 10 bank accounts is much harder than 3. Automate bill paying. Try to build a solid social network that can help as you age. As you’re aging, get yourself into a living situation that is easier to manage – no stairs, etc.

      But yeah, the US doesn’t have this figured out. We are switching from an intensely family based system, where children/grandchildren cared for the aging grandparents, and we haven’t replaced it with anything else. If it makes you feel better, we’re not alone in this problem.

    4. Old+and+Don’t+Care*

      This may not be conventional thinking, but I’m not looking into any long term care insurance. I’d rather have the money. I’m single, no children, and own a home, so the way I look at it I can sell the home and use that and all my other assets to pay for the care I need, which may include some type of in home assistance insurance wouldn’t pay for. I am mistrustful about long term care insurance and would rather have flexibility. It’s definitely tough, though, when you would essentially have to pay for all the help you might need. And if insurance brings people peace of mind that is good in and of itself. But I don’t think it’s for me.

      1. Missb*


        We own our home outright. We have enough resources to pay for in home care as we ease into old age. At the time we need to move to assisted living, we can sell this house and use the proceeds for the monthly cost without drawing down our other resources. Yes, I’m aware how much the monthly costs are.

        We’ve been exploring assisted living for my mother. She lives in a fairly rural area- the cost is about $4500/mo for a studio. In the urban area that I live in, the cost is about $7-$8k/mo for a similar sized place.

        Some places take ones social security amount plus Medicaid to cover the costs. Finding a place that has an opening for a Medicare resident may be easier in a rural area. Lots of places around here are private pay only.

    5. Emma*

      I know stuff is really expensive, just from seeing my own grandparents. (Like 8k a month!)

      So we’re just trying to save a lot.

      My understanding is that most long term care insurance isn’t good, unless you enroll really young, and even then I think they’ve done away with plans that actually cover a lot.

      We did have a close family member who died with very little assets. We looked into options for them, and they were very limited. The medicare/medicaid funded nursing homes have horrible reviews.

      Things we looked into to extend their time in their home: grocery delivery, meal delivery (many caterers sell individual meals that can be heated in the oven – the menus rotate on a weekly basis), having a life alert, having a smart doorbell/door lock, so it could be unlocked without getting up. Some family were able to fund a few hours of care each day (around $20/ hour), for things like making sure they took their medicine, heating up a meal, bathing, etc. But the family member had dementia and honestly it was pretty unsafe at the end, because we couldn’t afford round the clock care. Medicare/medicaid did cover some of the home visits when the family member was ready for hospice, but even that was challenging, as the hospice provider really didn’t want to provide care to someone living on their own; they agreed, with much cajoling . The family member narrowly avoided one of those nursing homes.

      If you’re close to 60, I would look at eventually getting a smaller place that’s easier to maintain, maybe a condo, that’s one story, and has lawn care covered, and trying to outfit it with accessible tub, etc. Do this stuff while you’re able – it gets harder to move when you’re in declining health.

      I’d also try to work as long as possible, to squirrel away $$, both in terms of for your 401k, but also in a higher social security payout like I have a relative working to age 70 for Social Security reasons).

      Good luck!!!!

      1. Emma*

        And I know you don’t have kids, but if you have siblings or nieces and nephews, it might be worth moving nearer to them. We’re anticipating providing some future assistance to an uncle who has few funds and no kids. He lives far away, so it will be harder to help remotely. We’ll likely see if he would be willing to move closer, which will make it easier to check on him.

      2. Emma*

        Also one of the reasons we didn’t do one of the state run nursing homes was our family member’s longtime wish to stay out of a nursing home. But it was realllly touch and go at the end, and if they had lasted a few more months, we likely wouldn’t have been able to avoid it.

  26. Ellis Bell*

    Toning up tips for the budget and time constrained? A lot of you mentioned a particular online yoga class a few weeks ago in weekend threads that I can’t find now; I felt a lot better when I was going to a weekly yoga class but there isn’t a good one nearby since I moved. I also was going to the gym daily for a stretch to get away from my roommate’s dogs early morning – but the move has also stopped that and I’m seeing the difference with my arms and abs in a way I don’t seem able to replicate at home, through a lack of motivation and machinery. Hit me with your top tips!

    1. Cordelia*

      I don’t know whether this is the one you were looking for, but I really like Yoga with Adriene, she has a YouTube channel with all sorts of different practices for you to try out. She usually does a 30-days of yoga series in January too, I’m going to make a real effort to do that this year.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I also recommend Yoga with Kassandra, and my favourite YouTube exercise channel, Fitness with PJ.

      1. Blue wall*

        I also found Do Yoga With Me recently and really like it! Helen is great. Yoga with Adrienne wasn’t doing it for me.

    3. Hatchet*

      Yoga Download – website (and Roku Channel). Lots of videos with a wide variety of ability levels, instructors, focuses (such as Pilates), and workout lengths. The annual price on their website is higher than I’d like, but you can find major coupons/discounts for the annual subscription online.

    4. *daha**

      If there is a Planet Fitness gym near your home or your work, that’s a great budget choice. $10/month gets you their budget package – it gets you admission to your local gym, use of locker room with showers, and all the gym equipment. Moving up to the $25/level adds use of tanning, massage chairs, admission to all the gyms in the chain, and ability to bring a guest with you. Joining fee might be $10, $1, or free, depending on their promotion at the time. There’s a $39 national fee that pops up yearly. Quit any time without penalty. Their classes used to be just instructions on how to use the equipment, but they might be doing more than that now – you’ll have to ask.

  27. Mom*

    My teenage (18, amab) child recently confided in me that they think they might be either nonbinary, transgender, and/or bisexual. My immediate response was, “you’re my child and I love you. What do you need from me?”
    Their response was that they aren’t quite sure where on the queer spectrum they are, but eventually expect difficulty with certain family members. (I think they’re correct about the family members, fwiw.)
    I would like to find a counselor or therapist to help them figure out who they are and also help with strategies to deal with any challenges. What should I look for? Is there a gender/sexuality subspecialty? Professional designation?
    We are trying to keep things quiet until my child feels ready to disclose, so I can’t really ask around much. Also, any books, websites, or other resources that might help? (Both for me to know how to be supportive as a parent and for my child to navigate.)
    I believe that we are all souls who happen to have bodies, but I know that’s not the case universally. I want to give my child the best shot at not having either their body or soul harmed.

    1. just another queer reader*

      Congrats to your kid and seriously, thank you so much for supporting and loving them. It makes a world of difference. <3

      (For context I am a cis queer 20-something woman, and I have several trans loved ones.)

      I wouldn't worry too much about your kid figuring out their exact gender and sexuality on any particular timeline. It can take years! (I spent years trying to figure out whether I'm gay or bi and finally decided it doesn't matter.)

      That being said, a good therapist could be great! I'm not aware of any specific certification/ specialization, but I think the best route would be to get recommendations for queer- and trans-competent therapists from someone who's in the know (your local PFLAG chapter; your local Queer Exchange fb group; trans friends; etc) Note: if you search a therapist database there's often an "LGBTQ friendly" filter; however, in my experience this often means the therapist says "oh yeah I don't have anything against gay people or lesbians" rather than being really informed on queer and trans issues, so tread with caution there.

      I'll post another comment with specific resources but I'll just broadly encourage both you and your kid to seek out community – there may be a GSA at their school, a trans parents group in your area, a PFAG chapter, a queer program at your library, etc etc.

      Sending all the best to you!

    2. just another queer reader*

      Just a note – I just wrote a response but it seems that it’s stuck in moderation. Love and support to you and your kid! You’re doing great.

    3. Emma*

      The psychology today website has a great database of counselors. You can likely search for one with experience with these types of issues.

    4. marvin*

      If there are any queer community centres near you, they will probably have a lot of resources to suggest! There might also be some local online reference lists that may include a list of queer- and trans-competent therapists near you. I don’t know if there is an official professional designation, but therapists who specialize in trans or LGBT concerns will list it in their profile. If you’re able to find a therapist who is queer or trans themselves, that is especially good, but they tend to be harder to find.

      I’d recommend your kid absorb some queer and trans content, if they don’t already. I really love the podcast Gender Reveal, would highly recommend that. And some fiction that I have really liked is Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, Nevada by Imogen Binnie, Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke, Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman, Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin, Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki, and pretty much anything by Adam Silvera. I’m not much of a memoir reader but there are many of those as well.

      Another helpful resource can be identity-related Facebook groups. These tend to be closed groups based around a certain identity or experience, sometimes regional, sometimes global. Some are quite general (e.g. a group for non-binary people) and some are specific (e.g. a group for people in a certain region who are preparing for a specific type of surgery). I don’t love Facebook generally but it tends to be the main platform for groups like this.

      Congratulations to your kid, and to you! Being queer and trans can be really hard at times, but it’s also wonderful.

    5. just another queer reader*

      Regarding family:

      When your kid gets to a point where they might want to be more open, it’ll be important to follow their lead w/r/t what information is shared with the family, how, and when.

      On your end, be willing to stand up for your kid. Be willing to skip or modify family plans if you/your kid knows they won’t be safe there, or if your kid just isn’t feeling up to it.

    6. just another queer reader*

      Specific resources!

      First up, PFLAG is great. I recommend starting by reading their booklets “Our Children” and “Our Trans Loved Ones” (free PDFs on their website). They’re very well written. Then poke around their website for other topics you want to learn about, and see if there’s a chapter in your area.

      Second, get connected with a group for parents of trans kids. Many medium to large cities have these groups. In Minnesota there’s a group called Transforming Families MN and they have fantastic resources on their website. You might ask your work’s LGBTQ network for suggestions, or other people you know.

      Third, see if your kid is interested in getting connected with queer (or affirming) spaces/ groups. There’s lots out there, from groups at your school and library, to nature centers that put on events for trans youth, to queer- affirming sports/ hobbies/ groups. My city has a social/ support group for trans teens, run by trans adults; it’s very cool.

      Fourth, make space for LGBTQ topics in your family and life. Pay attention to news on LGBTQ topics or queer media (Autostraddle and Them.us are good). Consider going to pride together. If you have queer friends or neighbors, don’t tokenize them, but invite them to be present in your life. If you’re doing family movie night, consider watching a movie with queer or trans characters. Etc.

      Most of all, follow your kid’s lead – they may want to deck their entire room out in rainbow flags and go to queer youth events every day of the week, or they may want to keep their life almost exactly the same as it’s been. It’s their choice.

      Thanks again for loving and supporting your kid. It means the world.

    7. MomToo*

      As the parent of an amab 24-yr-old who just this week disclosed new pronouns (from they/them to she/them) and a new name, I just want to offer solidarity and thanks for broaching the topic –I’ll be following replies. I want her/them to be supported and to make whatever transition steps she chooses safely and with good advice, esp since she lives far away from us.

      And also to acknowledge that no matter how open and accepting you are, this change can still be difficult to process for you, so don’t forget to think about the support and care that *you* might need, too.

    8. Filosofickle*

      There are definitely therap.ists that specialize in LGBTQIA+ — last time i was looking it was not only possible but very common in my area. They labeled it very prominently as a specialization, if they do it they say it. Definitely look for someone who does. (Mine specializes in trans youth and I was actually afraid she wouldn’t take me because that’s not my need area!)

    9. *daha**

      You haven’t said that your child -asked- for therapy. You could say “let me know if you would like to talk to a therapist about any of this” but unless you get an enthusiastic “Yes, please” I wouldn’t try to make it happen. Be available, but let them do the research unless and until they explicitly request it.

    10. quicksilver*

      Rather than a therapist (unless your child specifically wants that), I would suggest looking into local community/support groups where they can actually meet and interact with other LGBT+ people face-to-face. In my (27yo trans/genderqueer/gay) experience, community connection and social experience is much more conducive to figuring yourself out than sitting in a room with a “professional” who may or may not know what they’re talking about. (For what it’s worth, of all the queer and trans people I’ve known in my life — which is a lot — I don’t know a single one who discovered their identity by going to therapy. I do know many people, including myself, who were required to undergo gender therapy and found it deeply problematic and unhelpful in many ways.) Particularly for “strategies to deal with any challenges”, it’s best to get that from people who are actually dealing with the specific challenges in question, which is a thing that tends to happen through community. On that note, mentor relationships can be hugely meaningful — when I was 18, I had no adults like me to look to, which made progressing into adulthood seem all the more terrifying. Now I’m a mentor/older-sibling-esque figure to several trans/queer 17-20yos, who have told me how helpful it’s been to be able to process things with me and find assurance that other people have gone through it all before.

      But as another commenter has said, the important thing is that you have committed to providing whatever support they need from you. So keep that line of communication open, and don’t stress about the timeline or rush your child to make a permanent declaration of “who they are” (they may already feel quite pressured to do this because of general societal expectations). The process of figuring it out is a part of life, and IMO isn’t something that should be minimised or feared — some people have one clear lightbulb moment, but others spend years experimenting and fluctuating, and there’s nothing wrong with that! If anything, pressure to “settle” can make it a lot harder to determine what you really feel/want, because the primary goal becomes “give other people an answer” rather than “understand yourself.”

      As long as you keep listening to your child about what they need from you, and respect any boundaries they may want to set (you being supportive doesn’t necessarily mean they will want to share everything with you!), I think you will be all set. I wish them, and you, all the best!

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Yes to all of this, especially seeing if you can find older queer mentors – there are lots of us in our 30s and 40s and 50s (and up!) who can model some of the ways that queer/trans adulthood can work out down the track. It’s awesome to see people 10 or so years on from you, but a thing (most) straight cigs kids get (normatively) is a couple of generations of family to model themselves on or react against, and I am a big fan of multi-generational networks for queers too.

    11. Saddesklunch*

      Hi! I’m a queer therapist with many close trans folks in my life who works with a lot of queer and trans clients! I would definitely recommend the inclusive therapists database as a place to start – they do pretty decent vetting and you’re more likely to find someone who has lived experience there. I also think it’s helpful and important to ask any potential therapist about their experience working with queer and trans folks – you can also get specific about how they approach folks who are exploring identity.

      Another commenter recommended helping your kid to connect with community and I can’t second this enough! Whether it’s a support group, a community center, or a qsa/gsa finding other folks with similar experiences is so important.

    12. Mom*

      Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses!
      Yes, my child (who is still undetermined as to pronouns, but leaning towards They/Them) did say that they thought speaking with a professional would be helpful. I think it’s a good idea, but have heard horror stories about attempts to “deprogram”, which is not the idea. I want to make sure we can find someone supportive who can help them be confident and comfortable. One of the challenges is that certain members of our own family are a bit too far right. They love my child, but I’m not sure whether they will be accepting. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the family’s problem, but my child has always been sensitive to other people’s feelings.
      I will definitely research what community groups are available in our area, and hadn’t thought to check with the LGBTQ affinity group at work (we do have one).
      I am sure that I have a lot to learn and will make mistakes. I appreciate your support in answering honestly.
      (Off to do some research and hug my kid now! Internet hugs to all of you as well!)

    13. Kiki*

      Agree with all of the other comments here so far. As another resource: There’s a really cool organization called GSA Link that links youth to mentors, community groups, and also provides community for parents/caregivers. It’s based in Massachusetts but they support connection across the globe!

    14. Enby's Mom*

      Your teen’s school or college may have a guidance counselor or social worker who can help. If theres’s a Gay/Straight Alliance that is also a good place for some teenager peer support. PFLAG for you.

      I’m glad your teen has you in their corner. Just knowing they have a parent’s unconditional love keeps them safer.

  28. Constance Lloyd*

    I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on hand-knit hats to gift my grandparents at Christmas. My grandma is a quilter and I knit them both cozied up under the quilt she made me for my 16th birthday. The patterns were designed by a woman from their hometown, where they met in high school. I finally finished my grandpa’s hat on Thursday and it’s drying in the blocking mat as I type. My grandpa died last night.

    I’m okay, his quality of life had recently changed significantly and was never going to go back to “normal,” so I know he was just done. I just now have this very tangible, petty example of that old cliche about life being what happens when you’re making other plans. Anyway, hug your favorite people and all that :)

    1. Pippa K*

      What a testament to him, really – to have lived a life where up through his very last minute, someone was doing something to show their love for him. I’m so sorry for your loss; it sounds like he’ll be much missed.

  29. Courageous cat*

    FYI, not sure if anyone else is experiencing this but the default collapse/expand all function has been screwing up for me the past few days on Chrome. Half the time I click on one thread to read it, it annoyingly expands all the threads and I have to scroll up and reset it.

    1. Mimmy*

      I’m getting this as well. I am using Microsoft Edge. This was an issue a few months ago until Alison somehow fixed it.

  30. Anon in IL*

    I tried to post a question about how health insurance works but it didn’t go through. Does it violate the rule against medical advice? I don’t want to break the rule but if permitted I could use some advice.

    1. KatEnigma*

      If it doesn’t violate the rules (some words flag the censor, and I can’t always predict what) Alison will let it out of moderation. There’s sometimes just a delay, especially right now as she’s technically on vacation.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Ever since “cauliflower salad” sent one of my posts to moderation I don’t take any of these personally. “Today the censor doesn’t like cauliflower.”

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yeah, and being a usually reasonable person who can generally manage to not be a jerk, they normally come out of moderation anyway.

  31. Dear liza dear liza*

    A family member asked for a set of sheets for Xmas. Soft rather than crisp, no crazy colors or patterns, nothing too fancy or fragile. Something in the $100 range would be ideal. Any recommendations?

    1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

      Might be a little cheaper than you’re looking for, but I have Mellanni’s 1800 microfiber sheets and I love them. They’re very soft, almost buttery feeling. Faintly reminiscent of velvet, but without the weird feeling velvet gives my fingers. I’ve had them for four or five years and they’ve held up just fine as part of a rotation with several other sheet sets.

    2. Elle Woods*

      I love the Threshold 400 count cotton percale sheets from Target. They’re available in both solids and patterns (some vibrant, some subtle). They’re soft, durable, and reasonably priced (about $60 for a queen size set).

      1. Chapeau*

        I just bought a set of plaid flannel sheets from LL Bean and they are amazing. Soooooo soft. Ultrasoft comfort flannel.
        I bought mine on sale though, which is the how they made the price you listed.

    3. Anono-me*

      I love the t-shirt style of sheets for soft sheets, and have gotten whatever felt nicest at the big box store and been happy.

      If your relative feels chilly at night, youay want to look at fleece sheets. (Usually expensive but often significantly on sale right now.)

      1. Squeakrad*

        Costco now has 800 thread count and 640 thread count soft sheets that are awesome and for king, should be less than 100.

    4. Lucien Nova*

      I’ll recommend Cosy House Collection – their bamboo sheets are to die for, soft and not overly warm in summer but also not terrifically cold in winter, and they’re often having very good sales. cosyhousecollection dot com.

  32. PRD*

    Medical Records – what am I entitled to see?

    TLDR, the surgeon and I have disagreements about what was supposed to be removed during surgery. What documents should I look for?

    I have an ongoing problem for 2 years, the last surgery was a year ago. (There were a total of 3 that year.) Surgery #3 did not fix the problem, so I embarked on a long series of consulting specialists. I went back to the original hospital and surgeon to ask the, some questions. Original surgeon said they did not take out the part we discussed (which would be the cause of the issues), only the cyst associated with it. FYI, the surgeon only makes 3 lines of notes for every visit.

    My recollections are quite vivid that we discussed taking out the problem part. I even got a second opinion before the surgery and asked another doctor and he recommended that course of action. I verbally told everyone (when they asked before the surgery to confirm) what I was have happen. BUT all my online records only say the cyst was removed.

    If the surgeon deemed in the middle of the surgery to change course of action, fine, but I was never told. There are no doctor’s post-op notes. Just a pathology report for the cyst, discharge papers. The “Lucy” or “Epic” records has the technical notes of what went on (start/stop of surgery, amounts of anesthesia drugs given, etc.) but no doctor’s notes.

    I feel like I am being gaslit.

    1. fposte*

      It sounds like what you’re looking for are notes of the consultation prior to surgery, not the surgery itself, since it seems like it’s confirmed that you still have the part. Have you gotten records for those? They may not be that detailed about the recommendation and/or may be more conservative than the conversation roamed.

      1. PRD*

        It’s not completely confirmed I still have the part – when looking for second opinions on what to do next, I’ve had 4 doctors afterwards look at the MRI and nobody said, “oh there it is.”

        And one of the second opinion doctors was looking at the written records with me, and he said he couldn’t find any documents for removing part in surgery #3. I had been looking at the online records the night before and said it was only on one document; we scrolled together and found it and then he entered it in his report. But I can’t find that document in my online records anymore.

        1. fposte*

          Definitely sounds frustrating! It’s still worth your getting the full records, including the pre-surgical consultation records; this likely will be a specific request through your health system. Were the subsequent doctors directly asked and was their response “We can’t tell on this MRI”? Or were they looking for other reasons and it didn’t come up?

          1. PRD*

            I did not specifically ask – can you find gland #2? And at no point did we specifically go see if it is still there. And none of the three of them, while scrolling the MRI images said, what is this? I had the MRI done with and without contrast but I don’t know what settings or imaging would make this sort of gland show up.

            The subsequent doctors were looking in the exact area, not for the specific gland, but for any cause for the swelling cyst, so they were pretty thorough. They identified potential areas to look into for exploratory surgery (such as potential scar tissue, residual 1st gland tissue, possible damaged lymph nodes) that they pointed out on the screen to me.

    2. Doctor is In*

      You are entitled to a complete copy of everything in your record. Depending on where you live you might or might not have to pay something.

    3. AnonRN*

      At my EPIC-using hospital, there is typically a “Brief Op Note” (start/stop times, volumes of fluids, technical name pf procedure performed), an “Anesthesia note” detailing what drugs were given, various “Anesthesia procedure notes” for intubation and certain IV placements, and finally an “Operative report” (I think it’s called) which is the detailed description of the surgery. It usually, indirectly, describes the rationale for a change-of-plan decision (the tissue was too adherent, the blood vessel went somewhere unexpected, the infection appeared to be contained, etc), but the language may be very technical and it’s hard to know what’s “normal surgery stuff” versus “change of plan stuff”. So, this is probably the one you want if you haven’t found it. Unfortunately many surgeons dictate these and then they have to be transcribed.

      The 21st century CURES act is the law that entitles you to your medical notes and describes which notes and test results have to be shared. However, hospitals were not always required to make this retroactive, so the date of your surgery may fall before the date that your hospital started releasing notes. The medical records department of the hospital might be able to tell you if this is true, or if there are dictation files that were never transcribed and what the options are for those. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

        1. AnonRN*

          Should clarify: the CURES act was about electronic access; as the Doctor is In noted you should have access to your entire chart by requesting it from the records department but they are allowed to charge a duplicating fee.

        2. Happily Retired*

          Depending upon how the record is set up, the op note might be in a separate section. But there should be one. That’s been a Joint Commission requirement for many years.

          Your hospital’s Health Information Department (formerly Medical Records) should have someone who is willing to help you navigate your chart (electronic or paper.) And at some point, there should have been a full op report. We would never have billed insurance or Medicare without one. It’s possible that if they just couldn’t get the surgeon to do the report, they would have administratively closed the record, and there would be a note of that. If it’s just *not there*, the hospital has a problem on its hands.

          Also, the surgeon’s office should have its own copy of the op report.

    4. Chi chan*

      I would ask to have the MRI rechecked by a radiologist and confirm whether the part is still there or not. The radiologist would also be able to guide you if you need a different scan to see it. Also google the name of the procedure. It might show it the removal was complete or partial.

    5. Anono-me*

      I had a gem of a primary care doctor who requested all of my records from the egotistical raw data hoarding medical specialist. Since it was so gem doctor could see the genius at work, he got everything. And then promptly shared everything with me.

      Rather than you trying to get your medical records; Could someone on your medical team approach the egotistical surgeon for all your records ‘so that they could better explain what happened and get you to move on’. (You should be able to get all your own medical history records; but right now, I think the focus should be on getting what you need to be healthier. ) Once your team has copies of everything, maybe you can get the information that you need.

      Offering good wishes for answers and better health.

      1. PRD*

        Thanks for the info. I don’t have PCP, but I might be able to get insurance to investigate what permissions were given for the surgery vs what actually got billed. But I will get a second opinion doctor to request them per your suggestion if needed.

  33. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

    Meat eaters of AAM, how do you keep your entire house from smelling like whatever you’re cooking? I recently started eating more fish and beef, and although they taste amazing they make my house smell, frankly, terrible! I keep a lid on pans when cooking on the stove and run my microwave exhaust the whole time, but it doesn’t seem to help much. (I know the microwave just vents toward the ceiling but I figure it has a filter at least.) A real vent hood over the stove isn’t financially feasible, unfortunately. I thought about buying some air purifiers and parking them on the countertop, but I don’t know if they would be effective in a cooking scenario. There aren’t any windows near the stove and even if there were, it’s too cold to open them right now.

    1. Generic+Name*

      I have an essential oil diffuser I’ll turn on if I cook bacon, which really stinks up the house. If you have pets, make sure the oils are safe to use around them.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        Great idea, my boss runs diffusers at work all the time and it smells wonderful. I do have cats so thanks for the warning!

    2. fposte*

      I have a vent hood and it sucks, or rather it doesn’t, which is the problem. I close the bedroom door before cooking most things, and temperature be damned I will sometimes even open the doors a bit (trying to get some pass-through and the windows aren’t really accessible in the kitchen) if it’s going to be bad. I could actually close more internal doors to keep things more in the kitchen but don’t tend to bother–is that an option for you at all? I have one pocket door, which delights me, and the other entrance is just an archway but can be substantially blocked by opening the door of the nearby closet across it.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        Bedroom doors I can definitely close, but the kitchen/dining/living room are completely open concept (which I normally love, ugh). I could open a window in the dining area and put an outward-facing fan in it, maybe? It’s not super close to the stove but it does share the same general air space, so it might help.

    3. anon24*

      I like to take a big pot of water and boil it with slices of fruit that are starting to go bad or even just a small amount of ground cloves or cinnamon (too much can cause eye irritation). Makes the whole house smell amazing.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        I love this idea and will definitely give it a try! Cloves and cinnamon are some of my favorite scents.

    4. Cat’s+Cradle*

      My vent hood takes care of cooking smells but I swear by my air purifier for eliminating litter box smells. My old cat was diagnosed as “naturally smelly” by the vet and life with him would be difficult if not for the purifier right next to his favorite box. My guess is that if it works for that level of odor then it should work for cooking smells. Just put the purifier a bit away from the stove so it’s not getting gunked up by oily particles.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        We have air purifiers near our litter boxes as well and they definitely cut down on the smells! Good tip about keeping it removed from the stove, I can’t believe how expensive replacement filters can be.

    5. Reba*

      Air purifier in the kitchen will help! You can make sure you have fresh charcoal filters in the MW, but honestly I wouldn’t count on the MW fan to make much of a difference.

      Assuming central air/heat, where is the air intake for the system? Mine is unfortunately actually IN the kitchen, so cooking smells move quickly through the home, so sometimes I take steps to keep the fan from running while I’m cooking.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        No central air, much to my dismay. We have a swamp cooler for summer, which I’m sure will be good for moving smelly air out through the windows, but in winter all we have is baseboard heat. We got a quote earlier this year for AC installation and it was around 20 grand, so…definitely not happening. That’s so unfortunate about your air intake! My previous house had the intake in a bedroom and had a ceiling fan in the kitchen itself, which was truly wonderful.

    6. Seashell*

      I bought an air purifier (mainly for allergies, but it was early in the pandemic too, so I figured it couldn’t hurt re. Covid), and it does seem to kill the smell when I roast broccoli or cauliflower or burn something. I keep it in the living room, which is next to the kitchen.

    7. Chaordic One*

      How are you cooking your meat and fish? Personally, I really dislike frying and grilling because of the odors, occasionally being splashed by hot cooling oil or butter, the fumes and the way that it kind of leaves behind a greasy coating on stove, the backsplash behind it, and the adjoining areas. I prefer to roast most things in the oven. It reduces the odors somewhat and there is less cleanup of the kitchen, although I do have to clean the oven more often.

      Other than avoiding frying and grilling, an air purifier does help.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        I hate the entire process as well, but unfortunately I just love the taste of things pan-fried in butter! Especially sous vide steak. I do have an air fryer, so that might be an option–I’ll have to explore its functions some more as I haven’t used it too much yet. Fish is definitely something I could bake instead of fry, and is also one of the worst aroma offenders.

        1. Schmitt*

          Might be too late for you to see this, but I changed from heating oil/butter in a pan and then putting the steak in -> to rubbing the steak with oil on both sides and heating the pan dry (not non-stick! check that your pan is suitable for this) – there’s enough residual oil in the pan that the moment I see it start to smoke I know it’s hot enough.

          So much less splatter & stinkiness & grossness. Before, I would have the stove vent all the way up plus open the window all the way -> now the vent on normal is enough.

    8. carcinization*

      I burn a scented candle or incense afterward usually. Oddly, food smells linger in the bedroom even though cooking takes place in the kitchen on the other side of the house, so if I make something that causes a smell I don’t want to deal with when falling asleep, I burn a candle for an hour or so in the bedroom.

      1. Girasol*

        A pot of boiling water with vanilla and cloves in it won’t get rid of a cooking scent but masks it pretty well.

    9. Ampersand*

      We use a Levoit air filter, especially when cooking bacon. It definitely helps get rid of the smell faster, and what’s nice about the one we have is that it has an indicator light that tells you how clean the air is (ranging from blue to red—cooking meat makes it turn red). I think we bought it during the start of the pandemic because we wanted a good filter at home, and turns out it works very well for cooking smells. It’s not cheap, though there might be more affordable options available that work just as well.

    10. cat in cardboard box*

      I have a real purifier in my bedroom, but for the kitchen I use the cheap alternative, especially for onion fumes: 20×20 box fan with 20x20x1 HVAC air filter duct taped to the back. It’s not perfect but I think it helps.

    11. Canada Goose*

      Microwave exhaust filters do need changing occasionally … a new carbon filter could help.

      Lids on pans affects the cooking process as well as just trapping the steam temporarily (assuming you’re taking food out of the pan hot), but I do recommend closing bedroom and closet doors. Another alternative option is to roast in your oven or stew in a closed slowcooker more often.
      Good luck.

    12. Samwise*

      Some things I almost never cook inside — lamb chops outside on the grill.

      After the meal, open up. We have a whole house fan, but even without it, opening windows and outer doors is the only thing that really works. Used to do this in Chicago in the winter. You’d have to have a powerful hood vent/fan to really suck out the aroma.

      Wash dishes, broiler pan etc promptly, take out the trash asap too.

  34. WellRed*

    Can anyone recommend a frying pan that’s good for cooking steak? (Specific Xmas request from my mom. No idea.). No cast iron.

    1. fposte*

      If BRR is around this is up his alley. Is cast iron an issue for weight or other reasons? How many people would she be cooking for? Carbon steel is somewhat lighter and has some similar advantages, for instance, but it’s still heavier than aluminum, and the bigger the pan the more the weight will be an issue, if that’s the concern.

      1. BRR*

        It’s our favorite topic! Yeah I really like my carbon steel pan and while it’s lighter, it’s still pretty heavy. For cooking a steak, you could use a clad steel pan. All clad is top of the line for that. I’m happy with my cuisinart clad pan. I’ve hear good things about made in pans as well.

        1. KatEnigma*

          All clad is still heavy. Especially for the big pan. My own mother can’t lift mine easily (the newer-cheaper-made-in-China All Clad pans are somewhat lighter)

          The truth is, a pan that’s good for cooking steak has to be heavy.

        1. acmx*

          Would a “kitchinventions vertical attachment for pan handle” help her? Just saw this on apartment therapy yesterday.

  35. Flowers - health insurance issue*

    My health insurance is ABC. I’m unable to login to their portal. I’ve called their tech support several times with no luck and lots of frustration. 

    Now I suspect the issue is because I was under ABC through my previous job which was naturally terminated when I was no longer w/ that company. About 2+ years later I enrolled with ABC under my new employer so there are different insurance numbers etc BUT they’re all attached to my name/SSN/etc. Everytime I’ve tried to reset my ID or register for an account, it pulls up my old ID and when I login it says I’m not authorized and to call this #.  

    I called last month, and they said it would need to be escalated and they gave me a ticket number for reference….fair enough. 

    well I called back earlier this month, so about a month after the last call, and I was told that there is no ticket, and while they create a new one, they cannot give me that new ticket number and to just wait and keep calling back. He took down my contact information. I asked (very nicely) to speak to a supervisor and was put on hold then disconnected.

    I called back and explained what happened on the last call and asked to be transferred to a supervisor; the rep refused to transfer me and insisted that she could help, so I repeated everything and she said she can’t help and finally transferred me to a supervisor. But I was d/c again. In my call with her she took down my email address and phone number and said it was never in the system. 

    I reached out to their social media and someone called me back right away. She said she would escalate it and gave me a reference # and told me to contact her if there was no resolution in 48 hours. I reached out 3 days later, and she informed me there was no update. 

    I reached out one more time earlier this week for a different issue, and was having a helpful conversation with the rep (caseworker I think) so I told him about the tech issue and he transferred me. Again I was told there’s nothing they can do, they have to escalate it. I asked to confirm my contact information and whatever they repeated back to me was NOT my information, no email address and the wrong number. the ph# wasn’t even close, like transposed numbers or something missing, that I could say it was a mistake, it was literally random numbers. 

    Every time I asked each rep why the contact information is incorrect, they were unable to answer. How is it that my contact information was entered incorrectly 3 times when on the phone they

    I get that everyone I’ve spoken to aside from the social media rep + caseworker is  reading from a script so they’re unable to go beyond that. And I get that what may seem like a simple fix may not be a simple fix but I’m getting stressed out with all of this. 

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I am so sorry you are having this hassle. I would ask your benefits person at work to help you. I tried for 8 months to solve a claims problem with BLUE CROSS OF MICHIGAN the worst insurance company in the world and got nowhere. My company benefits person resolved it in a day. You should not be having to go through this much trouble.

      Insurance companies – fix your crap. Flowers should not be having this problem. People change jobs all the time.

      Fix your online forms. You ask me to enter my name as it is on my ID – Texan I. Exile, for instance – but then give me only a first name field and a last name field.

      Expand the space for first names. Right now, a first name like Alexandria will be truncated but the user does not know that and your system will say that Alexandria cannot be found – do you think you could get on that one? This has been a known issue for decades. Dec. Ades.

      1. WFH FTW*

        +1 for looping in your employer’s benefits person. They can work with their account manager at ABC insurance.

        1. Anon for this*

          +2 to getting your employer’s benefit person involved to get the issue escalated through their account team at ABC. (Source: I was an account rep for an ABC insurance – we had more flexibility and resources to address this stuff than the call centers, plus access to the folks who could actually fix things!)

    2. Anono-me*

      Get you benefits person involved.

      Do all future communications by email or certified letter to create a paper trail. (Certified Letters are old-school, but they absolutely SCREAM “I am documenting this for future legal escalation. “)

      If need be escalate to your state Insurance Commissioner. I have had good luck with mine.

      1. WellRed*

        Especially if you express concerns they might be violating HIPAA. I say This because if your information winds up in someone else’s file, that could be a violation. But yes to the suggestions also to get benefits person involved. I’d also stop talking to anyone below supervisor level.

        1. Flowers*

          How do I request to speak to a supervisor? The first time I asked I was disconnected; the second time the rep insisted that she could help me but I ended up getting disconnected. I’ve been calling the number that’s on the screen when I try to log in. Should I try a different set of numbers?

    3. Emma*

      I would keep blowing it up on social media. State the number of times you called and weren’t helped, and if they respond that they want to take it to a private communication method, politely decline because that hasn’t worked in the past. Be a burr in their behind.

    4. fposte*

      Another possibility is to see if your state department of insurance/bureau of insurance has services, mediation or otherwise, that might help here.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      If you have a decent EAP at your current job, they may be able to help. I once got an insurance issue sorted out way faster than it would have been with the help of my EAP, because they had access to contacts at the insurance companies who could actually fix stuff.

    6. Aphrodite*

      You can always involve your Congressional representative. Call their office, explain the problem, and ask if they will help. Oftentimes, companies will sit up and take notice when they get a call from “Congress” where they have ignored the consumer.

    7. Flowers*

      Thanks all. I will be reaching out to my HR first thing Monday.

      I’m assured that my insurance benefits are active but I still want to be able to login to their damn online portal.

    8. Vanellope*

      I don’t have any advice but I just wanted to commiserate. That’s sounds supremely frustrating and I know you must be pulling your hair out. I hope someone figures out how to resolve it soon!!

  36. sulky-anne*

    This is kind of a niche and slightly gross question, but for anyone who has a nose piercing, did you find a way to be able to blow/wipe your nose while it was healing? I made the possibly unwise decision to get a septum piercing in winter and I’m worried about disturbing it.

    1. anon24*

      I dont have my septum done yet, but I have both my nares done and the answer is *very slowly and gently*. Be extremely mindful, you will bump the piercing but as long as you are gentle and don’t catch or pull it you will be ok.

    2. just another queer reader*

      Hi! Years ago when I got my nose pierced I immediately got a cold afterwards, so I learned quickly!

      I guess mine is nostril rather than septum, but I honestly haven’t had an issue just working around it. I think you will be able to, too! Good luck!

    3. Courageous cat*

      I never had an issue with my septum. I got mine in January and had a runny nose all the time as a result. Just be gentle.

  37. Baby gear?*

    Stroller/car seat recommendations? Hoping to get something on boxing day sales.

    I’ve read a bunch of articles and reviews and they all look the same to me. We don’t mind spending a little more for something that will last/is high quality. I have a small car so the stroller needs to be able to fold into the trunk and the car seat needs to fit in the back seat. Baby is due in April so something that will work for a newborn in the summer.

    1. Double A*

      Are you looking for a travel system where the car seat snaps into the stroller base or two different systems?

      I never used a travel system because I didn’t like leaving the baby in the car seat for the long strapped into the same position; I’d just wear the baby, but that’s just a preference. Then as the kid gets bigger they can go in shopping carts so I personally rarely use a stroller, except for hiking and I have a jogging stroller for that (not small!).

      We liked the Chico KeyFit carseat. It carried both my babies and has now been passed on to a second friend.

      1. Baby gear?*

        Either a travel system or separate pieces is fine! A travel system seems convenient but seems like it might be not as good in terms of quality?

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I was gifted an UPPAbaby infant car seat + stroller combo and it was excellent but I never would’ve bought it myself because it’s a “luxury” brand and absurdly pricy. But it was really good and lasted through frequent heavy use for two kids (about 5 years?). The stroller comes with a bigger seat that can be switched out for the car seat, which locks into a base so you can just move it back and forth without hassle.

      You certainly don’t need a fancy stroller but get something mid-range if you can, not a little umbrella style one. I briefly used a super cheap stroller (I’d gotten rid of the UPPAbaby and my kid broke her leg, lol) and it was the worrrrst.

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I found it useful to go look at them in a store. Once I had a very cheap little umbrella stroller and among its other bad qualities, the handles were too low for my tall husband to comfortably push it, which we would have realized if he had handled it before buying. We also had a “travel system” type where there was a separate seat piece once the baby outgrew the infant car seat; this was just awkward because it was too many pieces to carry around while also carrying baby, diaper bag, etc. We ended up getting rid of it and getting one where the seat was not separate from the frame/wheels.

    4. Wilde*

      For a stroller, I love our Baby Jogger City Mini GT and it fits in our small hatchback.

      For a car seat, I’d recommend going to a specialty store to see what fits. In my country, a capsule is recommended for the first six to twelve months, depending on how quickly the baby grows. Then we move them into a “regular” car seat. Again, worth going to a store to get one fitted as you’ll need to purchase one that meets safety recommendations and fits well in your specific vehicle. And get them to show you how to fit it. They’re generally more difficult than you think!

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      We had an Uppa Vista that lasted almost ten years. It isn’t small, but the back wheels came off easily so we were able to put it in our trunk that way. Also their customer service is really great.
      We’ve only used one type of car seat, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, ans I’ll tell you our experience in case it is helpful. We started with a infant bucket seat, Chicco keyfit because our first kid was born early and it was one of the only options for a baby less than five pounds. After we got home from the hospital, we bought a snap n go (the stroller frame for the car seat) used off craigslist. We used the bucket seat/ snap n go combo for the first year or so. The snap n go was easy to fold and didn’t take a lot of room in the trunk. It’s also nice because it fits a wide range of car seats. (For my subsequent kids I bought the car seat adaptor for the Vista, but I didn’t like it as much as the snap n go; it just felt bulky. )
      After a year we had a better sense of how we would use a stroller and went to the store to try out all the different strollers. We ended up buying the floor model of the Vista so we got a good deal- I think it was $300.
      I think it was good for us to wait because it became apparent that I preferred to babywear and wouldn’t use the stroller too much, so I let my husband pick the stroller that was the most suitable for him. He wanted something with substance and an adjustable handle bar. I highly encourage going to the store and trying strollers out if you have that option- strollers all feel different and it’s hard to get a sense of that without trying them out. Who knows, maybe a jogging stroller best suits you, or maybe a simple umbrella stroller… there are a lot of options.
      If you have more than one car, I highly recommend getting more than one base. That might be a good purchase right now, rather than a whole stroller system.

    6. Ajps*

      My son just turned 2 and we’ve been happy with the Britax Emblem Convertible Car Seat from the beginning. We opted out of the “travel system” because we thought it was a racket since a kid grows out of it in a year. We have a small hatchback and live in an urban city in the US, drive with the kid maybe 3-4 times a month, and it’s worked great for us.

    7. EJ*

      I love the Britax carseats, so so safe! For infants I really liked my snap n go, which was light and easy and then as they grew I switched strollers.

    8. PostalMixup*

      We’ve used Britax and Graco car seats, and liked both. They are, generally speaking, easy to install. If you and/or the baby’s other parent are particularly tall, you may want to look into seats with higher harness slots. My first outgrew her harness straps at 5yo, which is on the early side for moving into a booster. Fortunately she was able to sit still, but if she’d been a wiggly kid we’d have had to buy another seat.

      As another poster mentioned, our Baby Jogger City Select Mini GT is wonderful. It’s lasted almost seven years and is still going strong with kid #2. My enormous 6yo even still fits in it. And they sell adapters so that you can click your infant seat securely into it.

    9. Napkin Thief*

      I love my Chicco Bravo travel system – using it again for baby #2! I did have to get another car seat once #1 outgrew the bucket, but he lasted a little over a year in the infant seat and the stand-alone stroller still fits him really well. It worked well for my lifestyle (and my budget!)

      FWIW I have a pretty small trunk (Kia Forte) and lived in Florida when #1 was born. Folks are always impressed the first time they see me fold it and put it in the trunk one-handed.

  38. Just a Name*

    Thinking about buying a used minivan for my sister. She’s 68, has RA and other medical issues, and her old one is 20+ years old. It has issues, and the last mechanic suggested it wasn’t worth fixing because of the rust frame (Midwest winters). She lives on SS disability. Her daughter helps when she can, but they’ve had battles for years, and my sister thinks she is being treated like a burden. She’s very distressed about her daughter’s treatment and attitude. My sister can be difficult (very). Always her way or the highway and never forgets to tell you when she thinks you are doing wrong. So, I can see both sides.
    Back to the car – I live @400 miles away, so I can’t see the car. Thinking @ asking her daughter to check it out. She has a good friend who is a mechanic. Could backfire, it I see this as a win-win for them.
    Anyway, any suggestions on the car thing would be appreciated. I can budget up to $15k cash, probably a bit more. Has to be a minivan for her knees and her strand up walker (it’s huge).
    Worried that their spat will be an issue at Xmas, but maybe they will behave. Although my fam is rather known for snarky comments.

    1. Cleaning day*

      I don’t like relying on others, especially those in an already complicated relationship, to make something happen. I would look for another way to get this very generous gift done. To me, there’s a huge upside if it works out, but it also could lead to a lot of disappointment and hurt feelings if it doesn’t. But you know the players, so if you think it’s workable, it might be worth a try.

    2. Aphrodite*

      Could you ask to be in touch with the friend/mechanic and ask him–maybe pay him something for his time and expertise–to check out the van or find one he feels is good.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      Why not tell your sister that you’re financing 15k toward a minivan for her it and let her pick it out/make decisions, etc?

      1. Just a Name*

        I hesitate to do this. Not sure why. Worry that she doesn’t have the resources/skills to research vehicles, etc, I guess. Which is also partly my obsession with researching things to death. I’ve read so many carfax reports at this point, and I see something wrong with all of them. It would make my life a lot easier to let her figure it out.

    4. Solokid*

      As the daughter in a previously extremely similar scenario, that poor mechanic friend will be distrusted and on the hook for not catching every weird noise as long as that car runs.

      Tell your sister you see a good minivan and you’d be willing to help finance it, and she can bring it to her own mechanic, or ask daughter herself.

  39. Christmas Eve family dilemma?*

    A third of the family who will be at my sibling’s for Christmas Eve are not vaccinated. At all. Their choice, fair enough. My mom skipped the last booster because you can be “over-vaccinated.” Her choice, fair enough. However, I don’t want to go and have to wear a mask for (several more) people who aren’t my parents and who aren’t vaccinated (my dad is one of the unvaccinated, too). My plan was to see my parents separately CE Day wearing a mask and then they will go to my sibling’s for CE. My mom is upset with me, as she feels there will now always be COVID and infectious diseases and it’s time to move on.

    Now, I’m considering instead going for a very brief masked visit (20 minutes max.) at my sibling’s, where I can see my parents (and everyone) and drop off their gifts. I just don’t want to deal with attempts to coerce me to stay longer. This seems stupid to me — I would have a longer visit with my mom than I will attempt at my sibling’s, but for her, it’s maybe not about that. Ugh!

    1. Emma*

      Choose what you want to do. I think any of your plans are fine! It’s ok to disappoint your mom. It’s also ok if you don’t want to deal with it, and want to do the 20 min visit instead. But your mom doesn’t have to understand your decisions.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I agree with Emma. Your mom doesn’t have to understand. You just need to do the best you can for yourself.

        And I appreciate your efforts to protect yourself and others. On Thursday, I walked out of an eye exam I scheduled two months ago because the technician and the optometrist refused to mask. (I was masked.)(And I asked very politely.)

        1. Christmas Eve family dilemma*

          Wow, that optometrist! I can’t believe they wouldn’t put masks on! I’d have left, too.

        2. allathian*

          Yeah wow. When I had iritis, I had to remove my mask for part of the eye exam because it was fogging up the instrument they use to examine your eyes with, but both the optometrist and technician were masked.

    2. InternetRando*

      Choices have consequences. They’ve made their choices regarding vaccination, and one of those consequences is that your time with them is going to be masked and limited. if they get upset about that, it’s a them problem, not a you problem. Do whatever you need to do to keep it a them problem – journaling, meditation, chatting with a therapist. Your boundaries are your boundaries – you don’t need to take on other people’s feelings about your boundaries.

      Do what you’re comfortable with. Things are still in flux, and there’s a lot more going around than just Covid. (And I am guessing that someone who has refused Covid vaccination probably also doesn’t do flu vaccinations.)

      1. Christmas Eve family dilemma*

        My mom’s idea was that I could attend for the whole celebration wearing a mask. I think masks are very helpful, but no, thank you.
        And I also always get a flu shot, and I know none of them do, so there’s that, too.

        1. Happily Retired*

          I postponed getting my flu shot this year, and 14 days after I got it, I got miserably sick. Flu test was negative, but my doctor theorized that I had just enough immune response from the vacc to lower the viral load, thus the negative test and relatively mild case. But I was sick for a week, classic flu symptoms.

          I’ve added a reminder on my phone calendar for next October to get vaccinated sooner.

    3. Pool lounger*

      As someone who is fairly young (30s) and healthy, got every vaccine and booster, and had no risk factors, and still got long covid—I wouldn’t take any risks you aren’t 100% comfortable with. “It’s time to move on” works out fine for some, but others end up with long-term lung issues, coughing fits, heart trouble, fatigue and brain fog… and it’s really miserable. Wear a mask and don’t let your family guilt you into doing something bad for your health.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I think it’s so interesting that she made two choices creating this situation (not to get boosted, and not seeing you separately), knowing this would prevent you from visiting much and *she* is upset with *you*. I think you’re being very generous and kind with her trying to fix these issues on her behalf. If she misses you, well it’s not like family only love each other on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I also don’t understand why time together only counts when there’s a big crowd around. Why can’t you see people in batches? She can catch up with you in January, or before new year. This isn’t a casting call for a Christmas movie. If she’s upset because this is how it’s going to be from now on; maybe it is! Let her make peace with that.

      1. Christmas Eve family dilemma*

        They all seem to have weird vaccination theories, and I don’t discuss it with them because it would be pointless (and undoubtedly upsetting). I was surprised my mom got vaccinated, actually. Last year, I visited her for a good part of the afternoon of CE (socially distanced at her house) *because she was vaccinated.* I’m already dreading next year — ha!

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Well, you’re being super consistent and clear. When she’s up to date with jabs she gets more of you then when she’s not. When you get right down to it, she doesn’t even need to believe the science, she just has to believe that you mean what you say. It’s not hard for her to listen to what your comfort levels are and learn that you’re going to obey them more than you will obey her.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Whatever you choose to do, make actual plans that matter to you for immediately after. That way you won’t be tempted to cave to any pressure to stay longer.

      1. Christmas Eve family dilemma*

        Yes, there will have to be a reason for a hard stop to keep any visit within my limits, thanks.

    6. Christmas Eve family dilemma*

      Thanks for all of your thoughtful reasonings on this! As I’m sure you can guess, this is one of probably many topics my family and I don’t agree on, but since this one could affect my health (and possibly whether I could cause someone else’s sickness), I get to decide.

    7. JSPA*

      Vaccines are not currently as effective as one would wish at preventing infection or, especially, transmission, with most of the strains currently circulating. References to follow separately, if I don’t get distracted first. They do still (within the time lag intrinsic to data collection and publication!) still help significantly to keep people alive… out of intensive care, mostly… and out of the hospital (YMMV).

      EVERYONE well-masked (and good airflow) would probably meet your needs at least as well as everyone vaccinated (so long as symptomatic people stay home) but, ugh, that’s sadly also not going to happen.

      I’d stay home, and get the chicken soup ready to bring over to the sick people after (not that they’ll necessarily taste it).

      And do what feels best to you! Spend less time worrying about the tender sensibilities of people who are prioritizing their fantasy of normalcy over the actual health and lives of their relatives.

      If it’s worth the risk, TO YOU, to see them, then go. If not, then don’t.

      1. JSPA*

        This isn’t the one I was looking for (on transmission) but the “waning effectiveness” study might get mom boosted, though not in time for Christmas.


        This’ll do, as far as vaccines and/or past covid being less effective against newer strains, though it’s still not the one i was looking for.


        Even masks are not at all foolproof, but a good mask, worn correctly and consistently, adds a significant safety margin.

          1. Christmas Eve family dilemma*

            Lots of great info, thanks!
            I wish the holidays were over, already, though. Or that my family believed in science — that would be even better!

            1. JSPA*

              They may bend more (and listen to the science better) if more of us pro-mask and pro-vax people are decently proactive about sharing studies that address the imperfections in over-trusting any one solution. We’re also being unscientific if we lock in a response of, “if everyone is vaxxed, we’re 100 safe, if people are unvaxxed, we’re 100% at risk.”

              Having had Covid is (somewhat) stronger than a single vaccine dose, in terms of future protection… and neither one guarantees that you’ll be unable to catch Covid, have functional virus in your upper respiratory tract, and pass it along while (breathing, singing, shouting, sneezing due to an allergy etc etc) even if (at that point) asymptomatic or minimally aware of feeling mildly funky.

              1. MeepMeep123*

                They won’t care either way. And after they inevitably get COVID for the nth time, they will go through amazing intellectual contortions to pretend that it was not COVID at all, that it’s not a big deal at all, and that they’re absolutely fine afterwards. Well, maybe they now need a cane or a wheelchair or an oxygen tank, but other than that, they’re absolutely fine!

                My mother’s best friend, who is 81, just got COVID from her granddaughter, who was symptomatic when she came to visit grandma with no mask on. She spent 4 days in the hospital and had terrible fatigue and breathlessness after getting out – like, she couldn’t walk up 4 steps without taking a break. That sort of thing. When my mother gently suggested the idea of maybe masking next time, Friend hotly insisted that of course it wasn’t COVID that she had, and she’s absolutely fine now! Really, she is! It was totally not COVID!

                Another elderly relative of mine is now temporarily in a wheelchair because his idiot libertarian son infected him with COVID twice, and the relative fell and injured his shoulder and back very badly. He’s also getting on in years. He will never put on a mask and neither will his idiot son.

                It’s ideological by now. These people will never listen to anything. Masklessness and lack of precaution is part of their identity.

    8. Can’t Sit Still*

      I suggest planning out consequences in advance. One thing that was extremely effective in the long run, personally, was deciding that if X happened, I was leaving. I told my mother and she agreed. Ten minutes after I arrived, X happened. I packed up my things and left, despite all protests: But you just got here! (We agreed X wouldn’t happen or I would leave. It happened, so I’m leaving.) But you drove for an hour to get here! (I am well aware of that.) But, but, but. (We agreed, you didn’t keep your word, but I’m keeping mine. I love you, but I’m leaving now. I will see you later/next time/etc.)

      X never happened again. My mother was aware that when I said I will or won’t do something, I meant it. She was more interested in seeing me than in getting her way, at least for a while.

      It’s also perfectly acceptable to cut people off who don’t care about your well-being.

    9. Missb*

      My mom remains unvaccinated.

      She’s on round 2 of Covid and in the hospital this time. (She also fell in her bathroom and wasn’t found for six days. She likely fell because Covid made her extremely weak, again. It is only because she fell that she’s in the hospital to begin with, otherwise we would not know her health status.)

      She has pneumonia now too.

      Protect your own health. Don’t risk it for people that don’t believe in vaccines.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I’m sorry about your mom. I think folks don’t realize that close to 2k people are dying of COVID daily in the US, so this is not over. Why not take all the precautions you can?

        1. Old+and+Don’t+Care*

          Per the New York Times the 7 day average daily deaths is 408, and per the CDC it is 386. (Assuming different cutoff dates; I just wanted to get two sources.). The death rate hasn’t been near 2,000 since March 2022.

    10. MeepMeep123*

      Don’t let these people pressure you into abandoning your very reasonable precautions. This is not over, and if you end up with Long COVID, you will be the one bedridden – not them. If they want to “move on”, it’s their choice, but they don’t get to make that choice for you.

    11. Anono-me*

      Have you asked your family to mask? If they test negative and still will properly wear a medical grade mask around you, that I believe it would decrease your infection risk level significantly.

      If they are not vaccinating due to beliefs, I don’t think that you can change those beliefs. But many people will mask and/or test for for something important if asked in a non challenging way.

      When you decide what is your maximum risk level this holiday, please consider that it may become your family’s new maximum effort level going forward and plan accordingly.

      Good luck with navigating this situation.

    12. tangerineRose*

      She’s probably right that “will now always be COVID and infectious diseases”, but what she doesn’t seem to get is that the longer these things are around, the better scientists and doctors will be able to prevent the diseases and make them less horrible.

  40. costello music*

    Any science book recommendations? Mostly for beginners and aren’t super dense/math heavy. Specifically looking for space, paleolithic humans/pre-history. But pretty open to anything. (I have read Caitlin Daughty and Mary Roach befor and enjoyed it immensely.)

    I read a lot of history books too so if it’s history-science I would appreciate recs there too.

    1. Hexagon*

      Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo Naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story by John Hawks and Lee Berger. I don’t have much background in science, but I found this one very engaging and absolutely fascinating.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      What If? is great for physics and related science. What If 2 is now out, and one of the author’s notes at the end is how much he likes the questions from kids because they don’t try to specify considering general relativity and so on, they just ask “What would happen if you filled the middle of the solar system with soup?” (Bad things would happen, it turns out.)

      I loved Shaping Humanity by John Gurche, the artist who did the sculptures in the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human History. It gets into the nitty gritty of science based on small marks on bones and how to convey that in art–e.g. you can tell when we started to be capable of throwing overhand, but not when we developed the whites of our eyes.

      One of my favorite science books is Animal Earth by Ross Piper, which considers the entire animal kingdom with equal weight given to each phylum. So mammals get as much attention as mollusks or flatworms. Beautiful photography is the focus, with informative text.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I also love history-science :)

      Erik Larson, Thunderstruck: In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men: Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication. Their lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time. (Marconi as in, the radio guy.)

      Deborah Blum, The Poisoner’s Handbook: The history of the rise of forensic science in the coroner’s office in NYC, interspersed with actual cases that were involved along the way. Excellent book, was also done up as an episode of the American Experience documentary show and narrated by Oliver Platt which was also excellent.

    4. Jill*

      Science, but maybe not what you are looking for:
      -The Poisoners Handbook
      – Get Well Soon
      -The Disappearing Spoon

    5. NotAScientist*

      The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein! Ticks the space, history of science, and not-too-mathy boxes. I recommend it highly.

    6. GoryDetails*

      There are some great suggestions here already, but I’d add a vote for Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – it touches on all sorts of sciences, with fascinating tidbits and snarky humor.

    7. Bob Howard*

      How about “Guns, Germs, and Steel” (subtitled A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years in Britain), 1997 by Jared Diamond ?

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      Professor Alice Roberts (who does quite a few BBC documentaries) has a book called Ancestors – subtitled ‘A prehistory of Britain in seven burials’. That could work?

  41. Biff Chippington*

    I’m looking for an artist who could paint or draw my sister’s cats as the Four Horse-kitties of the Apocalypse. Anyone know an artist who does stuff like that, or where one goes about commissioning stuff like that?

    1. Bethlam*

      Years ago, I wrote a poem for my parents and wanted to have it illustrated. My cousin, who was still in high school, mentioned that there was a VERY talented girl in her class who might do it. She was only a sophomore at the time, but I saw her work, we agreed on a price, and the finished work was amazing.

      She did two additional commissions for me while still in high school and they, too, are fantastic. So you might be able to find someone at your local high school or at a nearby college – especially if they have an art program.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      You might want to look into people who do D&D character art and also furry-adjacent art, depending on what you want in terms of of final look, as well as looking at the typical pet portraits people. You’ll want to look at people’s portfolios to see if their typical style works for what you want. (Cartoonish versus realistic, anthropomorphized versus not, etc.)

      The first person I can think of who does both pet portraits and non-anthro cat fantasy stuff is kikidoodle (Christine Knopp), who has kikidoodle as a dot com as well as various social media accounts under that name or variants. She has a particular style that may or may not be what you’re looking for in this case though as it’s quite a bit cuter than you may have in mind for this project.

  42. Real time off!*

    For the first time in my adult life, I have over a week off and no obligations. I’m not hosting, not traveling, not caretaking, and have no major projects or repairs to complete.
    While I’m immensely excited about the mental break from work, I’m unsure sure what to do with my free time.
    I’ve got some ideas, but given the option, what would you do? Any suggestions or even just fun daydreams?

    1. Still*

      That sounds lovely!

      I’d get a stack of books from the library that I may or may not read. Go ice-skating. Journal. Cook something really luxurious. Do some puzzles. Go on walks. Go to the cinema. Sit in coffee shops. See if I can meet up with a friend or maybe call a couple of friends. Write a letter to a friend I rarely talk to. Go to the gym classes that I usually can’t make. Sleep until I wake up naturally. Paint my nails. Bake chocolate chip cookies. Put on a podcast and knock some low-key items of my to do list, like finally fixing a button in my autumn coat. Maybe buy a whole box of tiramisu from the store and eat it while watching a silly Spanish series that I only half-understand.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Congratulations! That sounds amazing.
      Personally, I would hit museums. Do tons of reading. Nice walks in the woods. Organize some drawers or something. Maybe deep clean an area. Perhaps cook some things and freeze for future you dinners.
      I love that kind of “centering” time!
      Hope you enjoy yourself!

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      Plays, concerts, movies, dance performances, etc—just for you, or take a friend if you want. But solo shows can be fun!

      Also love museum-ing, playing tourist, taking guided tours, walking new neighborhoods to get my 10k steps, etc.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I would go on a long hike every day, somewhere where I couldn’t hear traffic, maybe even go campin. Spend some time in a bookstore browsing, and buying, books. Visit the library and read all the magazines (though, sadly, our libraries don’t have print magazines anymore). See the John Singer Sargent exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Bake elaborate things and clean up afterwards. Organize/ purge my wardrobe and fridge and freezer. Write. Take a yoga class. Lunch dates with friends. Volunteer.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      When I have time off like that, I love the option of not making plans in advance and luxuriating in the idea that I can wake up in the morning and just decide at the time what I want to do today. You’ve got lots of great suggestions here to choose from, or just see how you feel at the moment.

  43. There You Are*

    Question about British accents: Are there regions or schools in Great Britain where it’s normal to pronounce R’s like W’s?

    I ask because the first time I heard anyone talk like that was in elementary school when a kid with really big hearing aids joined our class in Texas. (This was in the 1970’s, before hearing aids became tiny). He said “cwee-ate” instead of “create”, “gwoop” instead of “group”, etc. Additionally, it sounded like maybe his sinuses were stuffed up. The rest of his words were pronounced “normally” (for Texas at that time; meaning, he didn’t have a British accent).

    I remember my mom explaining to me that it’s because there was a disconnect between what he could hear other people saying and what he was saying. And I gave it no more though until a person with a British version of that way of talking joined my team at work.

    At first, I thought that maybe she was deaf/hard of hearing and, being from England, she was essentially the kid from my class but with a British accent. But, now that I’ve noticed it, I hear it at least once a day from random interviewees on BBC News (broadcast here in the States on NPR).

    So now I’m wondering if the sound is being made on purpose in those British English speakers. Like how parts of the U.S. Midwest say “warsh” instead of “wash”.

    1. RagingADHD*

      It is a pretty common speech impediment. The chat show host Jonathan Ross has a strong version. I think in general the British broadcasting ethos is more accepting of diverse accents and speech differences than the New York & Hollywood driven system. It is not unusual to hear British entertainers, commentators or presenters with noticeable speech differences.

      In RP (aka “posh” English) the R sound is often dropped altogether. Think “cah” instead of “car.” This is true in many of the prevalent dialects, but some regional accents have quite hard R sounds, like Devon/West Country.

      The Estuary and Geordie accents have versions of w-for-r in certain contexts, but they are fairly soft. For example, some people who speak Geordie would say “sure” or “pure” as “sheweh” or “pyooweh”

    2. Reba*

      This is one of the more common speech impediments or speech disorders across languages, among hearing speakers and not only d/Deaf speakers! It’s called rhotacism. You’ve probably noticed at some point that for young children the R sound is often difficult and one of the last ones they fully master.

    3. Ask a Dialectologist*

      The answer is yes! It’s semi-common in the north of England, which is a separate reason from auditory/physiological reasons for this occurring.

      1. Ask a Dialectologist*

        (I am afraid that my time is very limited these days because academia, but I have fantasized about opening a dialectology Q&A site, so…maybe stay tuned?)

      2. I need a new name...*

        I’m obviously loathe to disagree with someone who has studied dialects but as someone from the North of England… I respectfully disagree. There are certainly a few different interesting things done with ‘R’s across several Northern England accents, I would argue that none are a substitution of ‘R’ with ‘W’.

        I also acknowledge that talking about accents and dialects can very easily become a very involved discussion (and I love those discussions and find them endlessly fascinating), so you may be giving a simplified answer for brevity.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I’m British with a regional accent and I studied accents! It’s unlikely that your colleague’s pronunciation is a result of her accent as there aren’t really any accents which pronounces R like W as a regular thing; there are accents which drop them in very specific places though. BBC presenter Jonathan Ross’ rhotacism is seen as unusual and a feature of his speech rather than his region; so much so that he’s known as Jonathan Woss. It is apparently more common to encounter rhotacism in the South East though! Nobody’s done any particular study into it that I know of, but there are theories that the r is dropped a bit more often, so kids get less practice with the sound that’s hardest to master for all kids, especially for those with hearing issues. (I’m in the north west and one of my hard of hearing students is fine with r, as we emphasize it a lot, it’s the p sound he is struggling with). You’re probably hearing mostly dropped Rs rather than Ws. The feature of pronouncing W for R isn’t really accepted. There’s a famous Only Fools and Horses episode where the brothers hire a singer for a flash event and only when he starts singing “Crying” and “The Green Green Grass of Home” does it become clear he has this impediment. They expect the event to be a disaster, but the guest of honour found it hilarious.

      1. fposte*

        Estuary English was the big one that suddenly seemed to be everywhere in the 1990s. I *just* was reading an article about this and of course can’t find it now, but the rhotacism of Estuary and even Wossy isn’t literally saying a W for an R–speakers who employ it can do a minimal pair of “weep” and “reap,” for instance, with the sounds differentiated. (Whereas Michael Palin in Life of Brian did a straight w-for-r swap.)

        Whether something like that is considered a specific phonemic speech disorder will depend to some extent on culture and language as well as how atypical the sound is. Many of us are familiar with sounds non-native speakers have trouble differentiating in English and English speakers in other languages, because those differences aren’t prioritized in our own language. A mild example within English is the vowel(s) in Mary, merry, and marry. They’re not differentiated in my Midwestern dialect, but I’ve seen Easterners genuinely puzzled by that. I’d argue that the rhotacism of Estuary is in that category rather than a speech impediment.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I’m kind of with you on the Estuary thing. If language change has taught us anything it’s that the sharp corners get rubbed off over time unless there’s a reason to emphasise them. Of course it’s impossible to know how much of this is impediment v choice because language change is so unconscious.

      2. Cant find a cute name*

        I hear a lot of dropped Rs on BBC radio, which sound to my US midwestern ears like Ws. We have very crisp Rs in my region.

        The well-known American broadcast journalist, Barbara Walter’s gave rise to a Saturday Night Live character called Baba Wawa. Barbara Walters has a weak R in her speech.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Isn’t she from Boston?! The Boston of famously soft Rs which are in no way Ws? If you think about it it’s just totally ridiculous that people are so uninformed about another accent that they don’t expect someone to… use their own accent.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, the “sure” and “pure” examples I mentioned above are not so much pronouncing a W, but more like the W sound is a side effect of sliding the Ooooo into a shwah “uh” sound.

        Oooo-uh or ooooo-eh wind up with a W in the middle by default. You can’t help it unless you stop and make them two distinct sounds.

    5. There You Are*

      Replying to myself to make it easier to thank everyone for their responses. I love the AAM community and I’m glad I asked the question because there’s so much more to the answer than what I was assuming. Yay, knowledge FTW!!

  44. Vertical Mouse Recommendation*

    My Evoluent vertical mouse is skipping, double clicking, and draining batteries within a few days. Taking it apart and cleaning it has not helped, so I think it’s time for a replacement. Anyone have a particular model they swear by? Has to be Mac compatible.

    1. Reba*

      I’m enjoying my Logitech MX! it’s rechargable, while there is also a more affordable model that takes a AA battery. I have small hands but my large-handed spouse and I both find it comfortable.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconded – my Logitech pointing device of choice on my Mac is the MX Ergo trackball, but I believe they have a vertical mouse in the line as well.

      2. Can’t Sit Still*

        Thirding the Logitech MX vertical mouse. I have the rechargeable one, and I think it lasts longer on a single charge than the battery powered ones.

      3. MEH Squared*

        I also would recommend Logitech. It’s my preferred brand for peripherals. I have the M510, which is very basic and not vertical. It takes an AA battery and plugs into a USB port. They do have a mouse specifically for Macs.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Most of their stuff is cross-compatible with multiple operating systems. In fact I have a Logitech trackball and keyboard that do multiple connections and are shared between my (Windows) work computer and (Mac) personal computer to save desk space.

          1. MEH Squared*

            Good to know! I wasn’t sure because I’m purely a PC person and saw Logitech had a Mac-specific mouse. Glad to learn that they’re integrated for both.

  45. I'm A Little Teapot*

    My 70 year old father is getting hearing aids, finally! Whoo! I’ve been told that the transition can be challenging, and one thing that seems to help some people is knowing what challenges they might encounter, so it can help encourage them to keep up with adjustments, etc. My dad regularly watches youtube, so I figure there has to be someone talking about hearing aids that might be good for him to watch. Any recommendations?

    Will also take recommendations on youtube channels that he might enjoy, he’s been watching various channels on auto repair and there’s one on woodworking that I sent them that he’s loving. Metal work maybe?

    1. UsuallyALurker*

      Jessica Kellgren-Fozard talks about her hearing aids some. Though I’m not sure how much she talks about challenges or adjustments. Most of the ones I’ve seen she talks about them in terms of how nice it is being able to hear her wife talking or her son making baby sounds or birds singing or what have you.

      For metal working videos I’d recommend My Mechanics. He’s a machinist and does a lot of interesting restoration videos.

      1. the cat's ass*

        This is my own experience with hearing aids. I ADORE mine and they have changed my life immeasurably. They are a big adjustment at first-my audiologist warned my that it would feel like my ear canals were trying to spit them out for a couple of weeks, and while they didn’t pop out, it felt like that were trying to! Ambient noises were a trip. Washing the dishes sounded like Niagra falls, and the fan in the ceiling of my office was incredibly loud. My car’s motor had a weird little clicking noise. But the payoff of being able to HEAR is awesome. I also have the bluetooth hookup so my phone rings and i can hear the call directly. Ambient noise is still a problem; if i go out to a cafe with love music, I can’t really hear conversation over the tunes. I’m told i can upgrade to a new HA model that can improve that, so im looking into it. I wish your dad the best!

    2. Squidhead*

      Adam Savage has a YouTube show called “Tested.” He’s a rambling storyteller but likes talking about his shop, cool movie props he makes, Mythbusters stuff, how he organizes his tools, new favorite tools, etc. He also wears hearing aids but I don’t know if he discusses them on the show (I mostly listen when my spouse happens to be watching).

    3. Samwise*

      It can take a bit of time for your brain to adjust to the hearing aids. The weirdest thing I experienced was getting a slapping sort of sound — almost an echo— from walking on wooden floors. That lasted a week or so. It was also distractingly stunning how crisp sounds were. Made me realize how much my hearing had degraded.

      I found the speaker end in my ear to feel kind of irritating off and on for awhile. But I got used to it.

      Oh also, I can adjust the volume on mine with a phone app. Very handy.

      If he has any issues, have him let the audiologist know, as they can make adjustments or repairs.

      I really love my phonaks— pricey but worth it. Tinnitus is reduced a LOT, can hear in places with lots of noise (such as cafes), can watch tv without endlessly and uselessly fiddling with the volume etc etc. Plus my audiologist is awesome. I just had my annual hearing recheck, she adjusted the aids a bit due to small changes in my hearing.

      I have the kind that have a case for recharging them. So I do take them out at night to recharge. And of course they’re out when I shower or swim. Otherwise, I wear them, all day long. They’re so light I don’t even notice them.

      Should have gotten them at least ten years ago…

  46. Bibliovore*

    Content warning grief-

    In preparation for the Big Bathroom Renovation tm. I have to empty the downstairs for the construction.
    What this means is the dismantling of Mr. Bibliovore’s man cave.
    I don’t know why I didn’t think about this at all.
    When we bought the house, a huge blue leather sectional (seats 8 with a pull out queen bed) and a huge (5 feet by 4 feet) mid century modern teak desk came with the house.
    Mr. Bibliovore two days after move in bought a huge tv for the wall.
    We each staked out parts of the house.
    The downstairs was his space except for the porch.
    He had a brown leather recliner for watching all the political shows.
    A microwave for his nightly popcorn.
    His desk was his mission control with an I-Mac, a printer and all of his very very important files.
    And except for paying the bills I ignored the pile up of magazines and stuff.
    During the lockdown he was downstairs and I was upstairs and we met at the dining room table three times a day.
    The contractor is going to move the couch out to a better place.
    Last Saturday I paid a visit to the guy who restored the desk and asked him if he wanted it.
    (Mr. Bibliovore would hang out with this guy for fun just shooting the breeze)
    He did and was planning the pick up for Thursday so I had a deadline.
    I spent Sunday shredding, filling recyling bags, cleaning out the drawers.
    I did ask for help and my friends took shifts sitting next to me as I cried, tossed, and cried.
    Other friends came and walked the dog.
    That night I watched Thor: Love and Thunder (distanced with friend who recommended it as comedy) I was thinking it would be like Guardians of the Galaxy. Nope. Grief, anger, more grief.
    Spent this week in an emotional hangover.

    Two requests- feeling like I am moving too fast and not fast enough. Construction begins Tuesday. This had to be done, right? Why do I feel so awful?

    Anyone have anything distracting to stream or watch ?
    I am thinking something on the light side but my brain is frozen.
    I just keep paging through screens on Netflix and Prime and Paramount and Hulu. I seem to be caught up on contemporary stuff like Handmaids Tale and Bosch.
    Any older things to recommend?
    Anyone watch the Leverage reboot? Any good?

    1. Bibliovore*

      Oh and the I-mac has a virus and no amount of googling gives me directions to fix it. google Chrome has been hijacked by something. I have tried following directions to delete back programs but they keep popping up. I spend about twenty minutes on it and then meltdown. I can’t update the Operating system because Apple says I don’t have any memory. It is super slow. It is out of warranty but a 2018. I do want to keep it as it has all of his photos, emails, files, and music. (tons and tons of music)
      (and by the way in case you are wondering, I can’t inherit his music so if I delete or try to change the name on the apple account, I lose everything.)
      My brother says take the physical computer to best buy. Your advice?

      1. Generic+Name*

        I would take it to either the geek squad at Best Buy or to the Apple Store itself, if one is nearby. The Apple Store requires you to make an appointment.

        1. Bibliovore*

          ok. got a 5:45 appointment at the Apple Store. They started to help me at 6:30. Turns out I couldn’t upgrade to the latest software operating system because I was 2 behind.
          The malware is in Chrome and they can’t fix it. (they say it is a third party app and they only know safari.)
          Unfortunately for me my job is all google all chrome and you can’t get into certain files and forms except on chrome.
          That said, I don’t NEED this one for work so might just keep it around for writing and streaming movies and music.
          Although bought in 2018 it is a 2017.
          28 minutes remaining on the install sigh.

          1. Bibliovore*

            update to the update- the second helper bee said yes we are not supposed to help with chrome but…
            while we were waiting for the down load of the update- he spent the next 45 minutes tracking down the malware and fixed the problem by 9:00 pm.
            The computer is good to go. whew.

            1. allathian*

              Great news! I’m glad the employee had enough empathy for your plight that he helped you with Chrome even if he wasn’t supposed to.

      2. JSPA*

        If there’s an independent repair person (I found mine through raves on Google and nextdoor) they’ll likely be willing to work on it in-house (and even with a virus) while the others tend to send them off somewhere, and be squeamish about viruses.

    2. Not A Manager*

      It had to be done, yes. I’m sorry for your grief.

      When a partner passes, it leaves such a gaping chasm that things like cleaning out closets and renovating offices just become tangible reflections of that loss. But your posts over the past few years have documented your own journey to making a different kind of life and space for yourself. I don’t think you could (or should) have done this much earlier. But now I think you are able to accept the loss of the preserved office in exchange for the gain of the nice bathroom. Which is as it should be. That doesn’t mean that there is no loss or no grief.

      From what you’ve said of your husband, I think he would have approved of this step. If it would be helpful, you might consider having a little conversation with him in your new space. Maybe pour a bit of his favorite beverage or have a favorite snack, light a candle, tell him how you feel. The conversations I used to have with my spouse after he passed were always very comforting to me.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh geez. I’m so sorry.
      Yes, do this! You can do it!
      Movies I find healing/distracting: My Family and Other Animals (the full length BBC one), Shrek, The Sound of Music, the first Harry Potter, A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy by Woody Allen (yes, super old!)
      Good luck and this too shall pass
      Internet hugs if you need them

    4. slashgirl*

      I can’t really help with your first question–we all process grief differently. But I do wish you well.

      The second part:
      Yes, watched the Leverage reboot and it’s good. Not a LOT of Hardison (cus Aldis Hodge is busy) but he shows up in a few eps. Some new characters but it’s still got the fun/goofy bits that I liked in the original. I love it even though they’ve written Nate out (he was one of my faves).

      You might like The Librarians–Noah Wyle and Christian Kane are in it (and some of the writers/producers were also on Leverage, iirc).

      White Collar was another lighter show I enjoyed–master thief ends up working with the FBI (mostly….).

      Burn Notice–spy receives a “burn notice” (ie he’s out of the business) and helps people out while trying to find out who burnt him.

      Hopefully some of this will help.

      Take care.

      1. Emma*

        Oh and I like Crash Landing on You on Netflix. It’s Korean and I watched it with subtitles. The basic premise is a wealthy South Korean CEO accidentally parachutes into North Korea, and it follows her antics as she meets a local army office. It has serious, heartfelt moments, but also plenty of comedic relief. I’m not a huge foreign films person, but I really liked it!

    5. Double A*

      I think everything when it comes to grief probably happens to fast and too slow…it feels awful because it’s visible change, one more step that feels like changing the life you had together. It looks like moving on, even though I don’t think there’s really such a thing as moving on. It’s okay that it’s hard and if you have moments of thinking “what have I done!?”

      Golden Girls is delightful light company that you don’t have to pay too close attention to.

      Abbott Elementary is excellent.

      I’ve been watching Veronica Mars as a fun diversion.

      “Reboot” is a hilarious and incredibly well constructed new sitcom. If the cast seems at all appealing, I highly recommend it.

      All these are available on Hulu.

    6. MJ*

      Bibliovore, my heart goes out to you. Yes, it had to be done. And you feel awful because it pulled your loss to the forefront again. But hopefully it will also be cathartic for you.

      A show recently recommended to me that my family loves is the Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Available on Netflicks, it’s a South Korean show focused on the first autistic attorney. Woo Young-woo is a newly fledged attorney learning to make her way in the world. It’s a lovely, heartwarming show.

    7. MJ*

      My longer comment may be stuck in moderation.

      In short, for a light warm-hearted show on Netflicks I recommend “the Extraordinary Attorney Woo”.

    8. Danish*

      I really like the leverage reboot. It does have a little bit of a different feel (and part of it is that the world is different now than when Leverage first came out), but it’s deeply enjoyable in the same “watch people get comeuppance, and then good feelings found family”. As someone who used to watch ER with my mom, it was also really fun to see Noah Wyle. His character is a great addition to the team.

      Best thoughts for you in this time, it sounds so difficult.

    9. Leverage Reboot Spoilers*

      I enjoy the Leverage Reboot, but I think you would run into the same issue that you did with Thor Love & Thunder. Grief over a spouse’s death is a significant part of the show and one of the main character’s arcs.

    10. Tango Maureen*

      I’m very sorry for your loss.

      I watched the Leverage reboot (more a sequel series actually) and it’s very good! Interesting and fun cases. Nate was written out as having died, and living with grief is a theme for Sophie’s character. Hardison’s younger sister is the new hacker and there is another new character who is a very pleasant and mild-mannered lawyer who used to work for the bad corpo types but is semi-forcibly adopted into Leverage. On the whole I would recommend it, but it may fall into a similar category as Thor did for you at the moment.

    11. Emma*

      It’s definitely necessary! I’m sure your husband would be happy for you, that you’re moving things to make way for something wonderful for yourself. I imagine he would be happy that you’re taking care of yourself in this way.

      Seconding Abbott Elementary on Hulu. Parks and Recreation on Peacock, or the Office. Mindy Project on Hulu. All of these have approximately 30 min episodes and can be classified as comedies.

    12. I take tea*

      It’s so very hard to let go of the things belonging to your loved one. You feel awful because it feels like losing yet a piece. But it has to be done and you are allowed to be sad. Lots of symphathies to you.

      If you haven’t seen it I have found much comfort in The Good Place. It is funny without being mean, and also deeply philosophical, because it deals with the concept of what makes a good human. The concept is about the afterlife, which might be too much, of course.

  47. Amber Rose*

    I’m making Nanaimo bars as is my holiday tradition. That said, the top layer is usually a hard chocolate layer. A few months ago my husband tripped over a chain, ate pavement and shattered his face. It still hurts him a little to bite down on hard things.

    How do you soften chocolate so it stays soft-ish, without turning it as soft as frosting? Like a fudge consistency maybe?

    1. Lexi Vipond*

      Ganache is a bit firmer than ordinary icing, I think, but might still be softer than you’re looking for (and I don’t know how it would keep)

      1. Reba*

        I thought of ganache, too, it can hit that fudge consistency and might be the best solution. The keepingness of ganache depends on the recipe/technique. Scalding the cream, using inverted sugar or adding alcohol to the ganache will all increase its shelf life.

    2. Not A Manager*

      When you melt the chocolate, try adding a little corn syrup to it. I’d try with a small amount before melting the whole batch. If that doesn’t work, then as suggested above, a ganache should be good. I also add a bit of corn syrup to mine to make it softer and more spreadable.

      1. Cant find a cute name*

        I second adding corn syrup. This is a way to make a chocolate topping for pastry – harder than frosting, but softer than pure chocolate. I don’t remember the amounts, but something like 1 tsp corn syrup to 8 oz chocolate

        If you just melt semisweet chocolate and use that, and don’t let the bars get too cold, the chocolate will stay softer as well.

  48. Cendol*

    New homeowner here and we dun goofed: our outdoor spigot is frozen. Hoping the pipe hasn’t burst inside the wall. I’ve picked up an insulated cover from Home Depot for the spigot, but what do I do about the icicle hanging out of the faucet? Chip it off? Pour hot water over it until it thaws? Leave the ice and hope for the best come springtime?

    I’ve only been able to find “how to winterize your spigot” vids on YouTube, but I think that ship has sailed, lol. We live in a place with big temperature fluctuations (10 below to 40 degrees in a day) and I’m sure that isn’t helping. Grateful for any advice anyone has to offer!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Here it is in case it gets stuck since Alison is off:
        How to Thaw a Frozen Outdoor Faucet? The easiest way to thaw a frozen faucet is to cover it with towels or rags, and pour hot water onto the towels until they’re soaked. Repeat as necessary. After it’s thawed, you can run the water then shut the valve from the inside of your home to drain the water supply.

    1. Missb*

      if you have a basement, see if there is a shut off valve.

      I have so very many hose bibbs around the yard. This morning, I went out to give my hens some fresh water, and the hose had frozen. Luckily it wasn’t the faucet coming out of the side of the house. I used the shut offs in the basement and then drained all the lines and disconnected the hoses from the hose bibbs.

  49. Augustus-sama*

    Removed. You cannot post things like this here. I will not be able to allow further comments from you.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Mine is roast turkey and gravy, potato latkes, herb pancakes (green herbs, green onions, eggs), two kinds of chutney, green salad, and bean salad (main event for my veggie child), with a fruit tart for dessert.

      Giant veggie tray, bread, crackers, and dips will appear a few hours ahead of dinner.

        1. Anono-me*

          Forget the recipe. I want a plate. That sounds fantastic. (Unfortunately, I think you actually live in Ohio and thus too far away to employ puppy dog eyes on.)

          I hope you have a lovely day and your Hanukkah is everything wonderful that it should be.

          1. OyHiOh*

            I do not, in fact, live in Ohio. User name is just fun word play!

            However, I do live in a state that surprises people accustomed to the culture of Jews in major East Coast cities. To quote a Jewish friend of a friend “Jews don’t ski!!!” One of the children I taught Hebrew Aleph Bet to as a child is a competitive skier now!

      1. OyHiOh*

        2 or 3 bunches of scallions finely chopped or 1 small onion
        1 C chopped flat leaf parsley
        1/4 t allspice
        1/4 t ground cumin
        1/2 t salt
        Add 4 beaten eggs.

        You can add up to 4 T flour or matza meal for a more pancake texture.

        In a heavy hot pan, with just enough oil to cover the surface.
        Drop mixture by 2 Tablespoon fulls and flatten slightly to form 1/4 inch thick, 3 inch diameter rounds fry, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

        *** From Olive Trees and Honey, Gil Marks

      2. OyHiOh*

        Bean Salad

        Veggie child is a particular fan of red beans.

        1 C dried beans, soaked and cooked till soft, or 2 cans cooked beans
        1 cucumber, diced
        4 – 6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

        Lemon juice
        Olive oil
        Ground cumin

        Mix to taste and combine with the beans and veggies.

        I like a bit of feta cheese and a few olives in it, but the veggie kid has simple tastes so I add those as optional toppings.

    2. Kate*

      The first night of Hanukkah coincides with my youngest’s birthday, and much to my surprise, she requested a combined party.

      So at her request, we are having hot dogs, latkes, “fancy drinks” (I got Blue Curaçao and Sprite with a star fruit garnish), and sufganiyot with a birthday candle on top :D :D :D

      1. OyHiOh*

        My oldest also has a birthday that frequently coincides with Hanukkah. This year, it’s Monday and they definitely do not want a combined event. So fried stuff tomorrow, and birthday cake on Monday for us!

        We’re also doing fancy drinks, but Sprite and grenadine for us (sparkling cran-lime seltzer for the grown ups).

    3. fueled by coffee*

      Latkes, salmon, salad. Homemade applesauce (and store bought sour cream lol).

      No one in my household likes jelly donuts so I think we might attempt churros, with a trip to Krispy Kreme for donut holes if things go south :)

      1. OyHiOh*

        I live in an area with heavy Hispanic/Crypto-Sephardic influence. This makes Passover a bit simpler to plan for, and means churros are more common than sufganiot. Enjoy the attempt!!!

      2. Bluebell*

        The blog What Jew Wanna Eat has a recipe for Easy Sufganiyot Dippers- small donuts that could be dipped in anything. We made them in 2020 and they were surprisingly successful!

    4. Bluebell*

      Not hosting this year, but we got a wonderful food delivery with various things we will be eating all week long – sweet potato latkes with applesauce, mini- sufganiyot, chickpea fritters, and veggie kofta with rice pilaf.

        1. Bluebell*

          Thanks! My birthday is actually this week, so we are planning for fancy takeout that night. Tonight we have an outdoor community menorah lighting- chilly but fun!

    5. Ali G*

      I’m still struggling with this crazy diet I am on (no gluten, dairy, or nightshades), so I am not 100% sure. I am thinking some sort of meatball or kofta, a parsnip and zuke latke and something with squash. Maybe a puree?

    6. MeepMeep123*

      Latkes, roast chicken, and maybe sufganiot if my wife feels up to it. She did a great job with them last year.

    7. WestsideStory*

      Tonight made coq au vin with s green salad, crusty bread and a good red wine for Mr. Westside; it was just the two of us. Next Sunday I am hosting a Christmas/Chanukah brunch and will make a baked blintz soufflé.

  50. Unkempt Flatware*

    I eluded to this in a response to someone in earlier threads but I wonder if anyone has any advice. TL;DR – My father gives gifts that are almost insulting in their thoughtlessness. I am a rejector of Things and he won’t stop giving me Things.

    My dad is a miser beyond comprehension. He’d let my brother and I die of thirst before buying a bottle of water or soda for us as children. He’s even stolen from us as adults by talking us out of our money while he saves his. Needless to say, our relationship is terrible. Even as a child, I have never asked for anything from him. Yet for some reason, I can’t get him to stop gifting me with Things. Never Things I want or need.

    Shoes that last less than a season and are ill fitting (the more I correct him on my size, the farther from my size he gets), Things I can’t and won’t use like a bath bomb when he knows I only have a standing shower, Things that he used already and is pretending are new, Things he found on the street, and Things that were clearly purchased only because he found them in the clearance section of a bargain basement shopping site he specifically went to to find me a Thing. He hoards Things for future gift giving.

    I shop with the earth in mind and never ever want more than I need. My clothes cost a lot because I shop at sustainable vendors and I expect them to bury me in them. I don’t wear plastic based clothes or shoes and I reject plastics in most forms. I HATE contributing to the amount of Things in this world. And this has taken sacrifice and discipline. I cannot reconcile his extreme miserly ways with this bizarre refusal to stop buying me Things. Asking him to perhaps pay a couple months of Audible, for example, is met with extreme derision on his part. All gifts must be Things or they are not worth giving. He’d only take us to movies, for example, if we promised to keep the ticket stub forever.

    Should I literally start rejecting the Things? Like refuse to hold my hand out and take it from him? For things mailed from said bargain basement sites, can I simply RTS or does that penalize the mail system somehow? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve asked him to stop. How many times I’ve begged. I’ve screamed. I’ve calmly reasoned. I’ve spoken to him in times of peace. I’ve threatened in times of war. He. Won’t. STOP!

    1. Maggie*

      You say your relationship is terrible but I trust you have reasons for staying in contact with him so I won’t question that. Just throw it all away. He clearly is never going to stop giving you things as long as you have a relationship with him and doing things like refusing to hold things he puts out is just going to escalate things unnecessarily. So I would just take it and throw it away as if he had asked you to take the trash out.

    2. fposte*

      I mean, you’ve kind of answered your own question. He won’t stop. He’s going to keep buying you cheap wasteful crappy stuff. If you know it won’t make a difference to what you get next time, what do you want to do? Do you want to do something that makes a statement for its own sake, even if it doesn’t change anything on his end? You may be able to refuse a package–the usps dot com site has a regulation explaining how–though it may be more planet-friendly just to donate it or throw it out rather than having it get shipped just to get thrown out at the other end.

      I’d attempt to reframe the problem away from the human dynamic and think of it as something impersonal, like a pest control problem. Crap keeps getting into your house. The world is full of crap and that’s what it likes to do. You can keep most of it out, but sometimes it sneaks in. Dispose of it appropriately and swiftly but assume that this is always going to require a little bit of maintenance.

    3. Seashell*

      Could you steer him towards food or flowers? Actually Things, but they’ll be gone soon enough. House plants?

      If he’s getting things used or off the street, that’s not bad for the environment. I would just give away or donate what you don’t want or can’t use.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      First step is stop trying to make him stop. He won’t stop. You are beating your head against a brick wall and the brick wall isn’t changing.

      Second step is not to make this about The Earth. The Earth isn’t affected by the weird gifting habits of one man. And it sounds like half the stuff is used anyway, which is pretty sustainable.

      Two problems are left: lousy presents you don’t like and a terrible relationship with your father. You can deal with the lousy presents the same way everybody else does (donate, recycle, discard, regift, compost). The terrible relationship is the real issue and someone wiser than I will have to advise you on that.

      BTW, a strong preference for gifting physical Things is a fairly common human quirk. I have a bit of it myself. Things just feel more real to a lot of people and that’s ok. It’s one of the minor weirdnesses that make us all different. That’s not your real problem-the relationship is.

    5. Not A Manager*

      It depends on what you want to accomplish. If you just don’t want more stuff in your house, make a big pile and donate it. If you want to punish your father, refuse it/return it to him.

      I know that punish is a strong word, but there’s no judgment here. He sounds horrible, and you sound justifiably angry. If you want to give him a big F-you, that’s completely reasonable.

      What is impossible, I think, is to have any conversation that results in him giving you more thoughtful gifts.

    6. A Quiet December Holidays*

      My sympathies. Or should I say my empathies, because I dealt with a similar problem. I finally gave the Things away and in a positive tone told him where I gave them. “The diabetes group really appreciated your bowls because they’ll be popular as a fundraiser.” “My neighbor appreciated your shoes and they were the perfect size for her.” At the same time I started giving part of his gift as a donation to the food bank, and over time I’ve steered him into donating to them instead of buying Things for me.

      I know this may not work for your father. Mine is very driven by public perception, so in his presence I reinforced with other people how much I appreciated his generosity to the food bank. It also took about 10-15 years of slowly decreasing what he bought me and giving more to the food bank, so this was not a quick process. It helped that I lived Away for a while and I couldn’t take much with me on the plane when I returned home. My father Very Strongly believes that gifts are Things and there is a full ritual for opening wrapped presents and I find it all so exhausting. In his mind Things equal Love, because his actions suggest that he’s a controlling a$$hole whose love is conditional but he could never understand that about himself (or his father, or his father before him) so instead he buys Things fully convinced that he can buy his family’s Love. His inability to buy me what I needed despite giving him a clear list made me decide that I didn’t care if I hurt his feelings by refusing Things, because he didn’t care about my feelings if he ignored my basic and clear list so openly.

      And he wonders why I won’t visit him next Sunday…

    7. LNLN*

      It seems as though the one thing you have not tried is to open the gift and then immediately put it in the trash. At this point, I would be tempted. It does not seem as though doing this could make things worse with your father (and he might even stop giving you things…).

    8. Pool lounger*

      If your relationship is terrible, do you want a relationship with him at all?
      If you do, I’d refuse to take gifts he hands you, and any sent would either immediately go into the trash or into a dedicated “take-to-thrift-store” box.

    9. Just a Name*

      Just donate it. One man’s junk is another’s treasure. My in-laws volunteer at a thrift shop in AZ and are always finding special things just for me. And themselves. One is a hoarder the other a shopper. Their house is full. The other house is full. The barn is full. Etc. We cleared out a shed for them once, and my FIL wanted to donate moldy crap. They have no concept of value. Just volume.

    10. Missb*

      My mom is a hoarder. Her home is literally an episode of Hoarders.

      For years, she’s brought stuff when she visits. She doesn’t really do birthdays or Christmas.

      Both my brother and I just take the bags of stuff, set it aside and then donate or throw it away when she leaves. She will never change. I cannot change her.

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      I have relatives who have a strong “quantity over quality” approach to gifting – why give you the specific Barbie with a cool gimmick that you asked for when I could give you 3 generic baby dolls? why give you the book you’re excited about when I could give you the book plus a shirt from a show you don’t watch plus 30 happy meal toys I found at a garage sale? They were just very well-meaning people who didn’t understand what we wanted, and we would literally come home after spending Christmas with them and empty the trunk straight into a donation box. It sounds like there’s a lot more going on here that makes it NOT a loveable quirk, but I’d suggest just trying to really frame this as having nothing to do with you: don’t expect a gift that makes you feel loved, don’t get emotionally invested in the waste he’s creating, just consider it to be a chore you have to do sometimes where there’s a Thing and it goes in the donation bin and it’s not really your problem.

    12. Lizzie (with the dead cat)*

      Hi Unkempt Flatware. These are my internet stranger thoughts on his behaviour: The gifts are an effective fishhook which successfully catches you every time. He doesn’t WANT to acknowledge your needs. In fact, it seems that he specifically chooses to deny them, and it sounds as if he has always done so.
      Nothing is going to ‘fix’ that behaviour. (Sorry.)
      Your freedom from this interaction is to become boring around the issue rather than dynamically engaged – to say ‘Oh, thanks dad’ in a flat tone, and not discuss it. If the gift comes in the mail, remove your address from the package and put it into the donation box without opening it. For your own sense of balance about ‘stuff’ in the world, figure out how much you could donate to an organisation of your choice each time you get something from him, or put $20 in a jar towards buying yourself a useful, beautiful gift when the jar is full.
      Your power here is your power to disengage.
      If you have any kind of employee assistance program at work, think about having a few sessions with them about how to deal with manipulative people in general.
      Best wishes to you, and I hope your savings jar or donations to worthy causes will bring you much satisfaction!

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Hahaha. I was going to thank you and then say sorry for your dead cat. Like, is it stuffed? Thanks so much for your insight. You really nailed the manipulation I left out. This is helpful.

    13. Double A*

      To be honest, it sounds kind of like your dad and you are doing your gift-giving styles AT each other in a deliberate attempt to get under each other’s skin. You feel your way is superior; he feels your way is snobby and pretentious and gosh darn it he’s not going to abide by that woke leftist nonsense and he’s going to show you (I mean…I’m just supposing this is his internal thought process about this, think I might be close?).

      I think part of what he’s getting out of it is that he knows it bothers you. A generous interpretation of this is that he has no idea how to positively connect with you, so getting some kind of reaction is better than nothing. A less generous interpretation is that he’s just kind of mean and enjoys getting your goat.

      So what if you just…drop the other end of the rope? He won’t change. As others have said; the world is full of junk, so just accept that some of that junk will pass through your hands. I would suggest just being blandly thankful for what he gives and then donate it as soon as you can. Right now you’re only really hurting yourself.

    14. JSPA*

      1. Sounds like the Things are often second or third hand, thus already in the world.

      2. Sounds like his deepest problem could equally be summarized (functionally) as, “extreme inflexibility, manifesting in an item-focused way.”

      3. Pitting an invincible force against an immovable object is only fun in superhero movies.

      Take the Thing, and thank him with all sincerity, saying, “ooh, this would be a great gift for someone I know!” Then bring it to goodwill (or if it’s truly trash, treat it as you would, if it were a rotting tennis ball that a nice dog handed you, or trash you picked up off the beach, and put it in the trash.)

      He’s given a gift, and feels right in his mind [within the rules and limits of whatever is funky with him]. Kind words have been said, to close the loop. You’ve incurred no eco-karmic debt.

      Waiting for him to prioritize your needs wants and happiness over his [whatever it is, that we don’t diagnose] is something to bring to a therapist. If he wouldn’t buy liquid for thirsty kids (!) he’s not going to suddenly go, “oh, here’s the streaming subscription you wanted.” (And even if he did, it wouldn’t undo a life’s worth of damage.)

    15. StellaBella*

      Can you go no contact and move? Not sure this is an option and of course is costly to you. But disengaging and having a donation bin by the door that you drop off every year is another way. Do not acknowledge the gifts and stop talking to him. Block his number. And email. These are things you can do that are in your power. Also if you can afford it or have employee assistance please consider taking time to talk to a therapist to heal. I am so so sorry for the effect on you of this dynamic.

    16. Red Sky*

      Your dad sucks and isn’t going to change. Return trash to sender, save everything he gives you and calmly drop it off at his house every Father’s Day wi