weekend open thread – October 23-24, 2021

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Small Pleasures, by Clare Chambers. A reporter in 1950s Britain who is investigating a woman’s claim of an immaculate conception finds herself becoming personally entangled in the story.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,347 comments… read them below }

  1. tangerineRose*

    I love it when the kitties cuddle! Especially when they met as adults. Laurie looks like he’s a lot more confident than he used to be.

  2. Jackalope*

    So… book thread! What are you reading? Any requests for recommendations? Anything you want to recommend to others?

    I just finished The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik, which is book two in a trilogy. It was great, but the ending! It’s a horrible cliffhanger, and book three isn’t out yet.

    1. allathian*

      I’m re-reading The Lord of the Rings. It’s been a while, and I was inspired by my son who’s also reading it. It is, after all, a classic that pretty much on its own spawned the epic fantasy genre, so I think it’s worth reading for that alone. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that it can occasionally be a bit troublesome to read for a modern reader because of its explicit racism and sexism, and a pretty obvious assumption that beautiful equals good and ugly equals evil.

      1. JustForThis*

        Yes to both the important role LotR played for fantasy and its troublesome attitudes (for all the points you mention plus the idea that kings have healing powers commoners could never have). I also feel that LotR features sensitive descriptions of the psychological dynamics of both depression and of the lure of power, and I give it kudos for that.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. I like LOTR for many reasons but recognise it’s problematic in some ways and is a product of being written by a middle aged white guy in the 1940s. So I’d agree that the dynamics of depression and the impact of war on a society are really good (coming from his knowledge of having fought on the Somme and nearly died of trench fever and then having lived through WW2). His ideas on gender and race are rather unfortunate.

          I think LOTR is something I love despite its flaws because it’s brilliant but I am well aware it has them.

        2. Dancing Otter*

          The “king’s touch” was an old belief in England. I think it was supposed to cure scrofula, or something like that? So it’s not something Tolkien dreamed up on his own.
          I read somewhere that as an Oxford don, JRRT refused to teach female students. From his writing, that seems quite believable.

          1. allathian*

            The main reason why Tolkien didn’t teach any female students was that neither Pembroke College nor Merton College, where Tolkien taught in 1925-1945 (Pembroke) and 1945-1959 (Merton), admitted female students until 1979 and 1980 respectively. Although I expect that he fully supported the idea of exclusively male colleges.

            1. Chicago Anon*

              Tolkien supervised the PhD theses of a number of women, whom he treated well and who went on to significant careers of their own. He was not known as an excellent or enthusiastic teacher of undergraduates, as he tended to mumble to the chalkboard rather than addressing the class. However, though he did not act as tutor to women undergraduates, any student could attend his lectures. Diana Wynne Jones said she learned about plotting from them.

      2. The Time Being*

        True that. I’m actually coming to the end of my own reread — just the Scourging of the Shire and the rest of the denouement left to go — and I’ve definitely been taking a lot of note of both the incredible, intimate ways that Tolkien writes about the psychological effects of war, despair, and conflict, and also of the baked-in assumptions about race, beauty, gender, and the propriety of a hierarchical society.

        I’ve been treating it as an exercise in really leaning into the notion of “a product of his time” — not treating that as the end of the conversation, but rather as the start of it. What about his time shaped these attitudes? How have we changed since then? How have these attitudes been perpetuated, since after all LotR is a foundational text of modern fantasy? How was he reflecting long-running themes of gender roles, race, social hierarchy, and warfare that started well before him and have persisted well after? It’s been interesting to think about and reflect on.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I’m currently reading the appendices. Some bits are more interesting than others, so if you’ve never read them, take a look. The story of Arwen and Aragorn is one of my favorite bits of the whole book.

        2. aelstuart*

          Unfortunately, there are frustrating issues with racism, sexism, etc. from a lot of notable authors. Jane Austen is probably my favorite author of all time and yet there are elements of both in her writing. I’m also not so naive as to believe we are past all that and have a feeling in a few decades or so people will be shocked and disappointed by things that are considered OK now.

    2. Stitch*

      I just read The Last Graduate as well. Interesting character development, not the direction I was expecting.

      I just started Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. I loved The House in the Cerulean Sea so high hopes for this one.

      1. MysteryFan*

        I started Whispering Door this week, and got bogged down with the events/conversation in the tea shop.. maybe I just liked the characters in Cerulean Sea better. Definitely more charming!

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m currently reading I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. I’m only 80 pages in but I’m really enjoying the voice of the narrator. Despite being written in the 39s or 40s, it has such a modern voice.

      One book I’ve finished recently that I’ve also enjoyed is A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towels.

      Also, I read the first chapter of Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell the other day and loved it so much that I had to put it to one side and wait to read it ony holidy next week in order to give it proper justice

      1. CTT*

        Oh I love I Capture The Castle. I need to re-read it; it’s been too long. It has the all-time greatest opening and closing lines to a book.

      2. AY*

        I am reading Amor Towles’ new book The Lincoln Highway! It’s extremely charming but maybe 15% less good than a Gentleman. Towles excels at writing very verbose, charming, and intelligent men who are somehow still likeable.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I Capture the Castle is so funny! I read it for the first time a year or two ago and loved it

    4. English Rose*

      I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes in all his guises – books, films, TV etc. I’m currently entranced by the Mary Russell series by Laurie King, in which the teenage American Mary Russell meets the semi-retired Holmes by chance on the Sussex Downs, where Holmes has become a bee-keeper during WWI. Russell is as bright and interesting as Holmes, and becomes his apprentice. The books track her development and their relationship through a series of gorgeously imaginative adventures. Start with The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice. Nothing like good crime fiction to take the mind off the state of the world!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I quite liked two series:
        Goodnight Mr Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas, about Irene Adler. Specifically, an Irene who is just as smart and daring and capable as the woman in the original story, rather than the various breathless heroines oohing at how Sherlock outsmarted them that I have seen far too often. The story is told through the diaries of her much more restrained friend and companion Penelope Huxleigh.

        Mycroft by Kareem Abdul Jabbar–he’s a major Holmesian–and Anna Waterhouse. About Mycroft, with Sherlock as a minor character. Mycroft’s best friend is a black man from Trinidad, who pretends to be employed by the tobacco shop he owns because that’s how it worked back then. Takes on issues of race and gender where many takes on the series envision a pure-white London. Doyle was quite progressive for his time, presenting stories of women doctors or white families lovingly embracing a new non-white family member.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          I loved that one! I found it in a dollar store, looking for cheap crossword, WordSearch and Sudoku books for a friend with Covid, in the hospital. She was bored out of her gourd, and since she’s Jamaican, this book was a great read.

          I also loved the Benjamin January books by Barbara Hambly, after this friend introduced me to them years ago.

      2. Sutemi*

        Have you read the Sherry Thomas Sherlock books? They are one of my current favorites, female versions that felt very true to the time period.

      3. HoundMom*

        Love this version of Sherlock Holmes. I also love Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear — post WWI now heading towards WWII series with a strong female voice.

        For anyone who likes WWII history, James R Benn writes a great series around Billy Boyle. He picks up little discussed events from the war and weaves it into the storyline.

      4. GoryDetails*

        Another Holmes fan here. I’ve enjoyed many of the re-imaginings of Holmes and company too, including the anthology SHADOWS OVER BAKER STREET, which includes Neil Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald” – a Lovecraftian spin! (Gaiman also wrote the short story “A Case of Death and Honey,” included in his TRIGGER WARNING anthology; that one describes Holmes in later life, exploring rumors of bees that create honey with life-extending properties, a nifty little tale.)

        1. GoryDetails*

          And adding another one, A STUDY IN SHERLOCK – this anthology has Holmesian tales by authors who don’t normally write in that category, including “The Men with the Twisted Lips,” a really excellent re-telling of Doyle’s “Man with the Twisted Lip” but from the viewpoint of the Chinese-run consortium that controls the London opium trade. Very good alternate-viewpoint rendition.

          Not all of those stories feature Holmes himself; Jacqueline Winspear (of the excellent “Maisie Dobbs” series) has a story in which her character is inspired by the Holmes stories to do some investigating of his own.

      5. PhyllisB*

        Yes, I like the Mary Russell series but haven’t read all of them; need to get back to it. Thanks for the reminder. Funny story about how I discovered this series: our book club was supposed to read the Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd I got to the library and had left my note with title and author at home, so I was looking on the shelf trying to remember and all I could remember is that bees figured into the title somehow. I saw The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and checked it out. Wrong book, but discovered a great new series and a new author!! As Sheryl Crowe would say, that’s my favorite mistake. BTW, I DID read the book I was supposed to read, and it’s excellent. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

    5. Bobina*

      Anyone have recommendations for a good introduction/primer/overview of a history of China? Or any books on Asian (any part) history? Ideally not too academic, but just something that will give a decent overview and context of the major milestones so I can feel slightly more informed? Bonus points for an easy/engaging read and/or any focus on food!

      1. Shiara*

        This may not be exactly what you have in mind, but Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang is a biography/autobiography of three generations of Chinese women, covering the twentieth century. I thought it was excellent, though not particularly light

      2. Jackalope*

        I remember enjoying China Wales by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, although it’s been several years since I read it so I don’t remember much more than that.

      3. Reba*

        “The Land of the Five Flavors” is a history of Chinese cuisine. It’s in translation, so it’s not exactly the easiest-reading prose, but very dense and interesting. “China’s Last Empire” is supposed to be both good and intelligible.

        “China in 10 words” is a collection of personal and historical essays by Yu Hua. Revolutionary to present day, hard reading (because of the subject matter, not the writing!).

        Not exactly on topic, but not NOT on topic, is the book “Vermeer’s Hat” by historian of China Timothy Brooks. This is a fascinating and highly readable book that uses paintings by Vermeer as windows onto the web of global connections in the 17th c. I love this one!

      4. Fellow Traveller*

        Last Boat out of Shanghai follows several families in Communist China after WWII. I was riveted.
        For fiction, Pachinko really had me turning the pages, and anything by Ha Jin is really good. Also Ishiguro’a When We Were Orphans is such a beautiful book.

      5. with a comma after dearest*

        For an autobiography of the Cultural Revolution so incredible you’d swear it was fiction, try “Red Azalea” by Anchee Min. I recently reread it after 20 years and nothing holds a candle to this book.

        For an excellent and captivating nonfiction piece on modern industrial China, and the massive phenomenon of migrating “sweatshop” workers – highly recommend “Factory Girls” by Leslie Chang. She befriend and follows several young women working in factory cities and tells all about their lives and the broader cultural phenomenon, also tracing back to her own pre-Mao ancestors.

        So much of Chinese history is focused the Opium Wars and Communism and then stops. This book is the economic capitalism of the modern day, and it’s such an important component.

        1. the cat's ass*

          And her husband, Peter Hessler, wrote a China Trilogy- “River Town”, “Oracle Bones” and “Country Driving”about his work in the Peace Corps, recent past Chinese History, as well as some current (1990’s) history. And Jan Wong’s books are also terrific though more personal.

    6. Japanese Cooking*

      Oh my god that ending!!! My best friend and I trade books back and forth using USPS media mail and I’m dying for her to read it so we can vent.

      For other books. I’m re-reading Tamora Pierce. It’s like comfort food in literary form.

    7. JustForThis*

      I had a most wonderful reading experience: I read Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series as a child and *loved* it. I re-read it several times then (decades ago), but had not read it since. The recent Tamora Pierce appreciation thread in the weekend open thread a few weeks back made me aware that she had written other series, and I bought the Immortals on a whim and started reading. I cannot describe the surprise and pleasure when I realised that the capable redheaded woman was grown-up Alanna! It was such a strong feeling of recognition and felt like coming home and meeting an old and trusted friend after decades away. I’ve since also re-read the Song of the Lioness series which triggered even more childhood memories, and also discovered Circle of Magic, which I thought was great. So thank you very much to everyone contributing to that Tamora Pierce thread!

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        Wow I haven’t thought about that wonderful series in years!! Thank you for the reminder – I’ll have to re-read that and check out the Immortals!

      2. TiffIf*

        If you haven’t yet–read the Protector of the Small series–I think that Pierce’s writing is at its best in that series, I actually like it better as a story than either Song of the Lioness or Immortals and I love both of them. And though Trisana is and always has been my favorite of Pierce’s characters, Keladry’s story is my favorite.

        1. JustForThis*

          Thank you for the recommendation — I will! I’ve embarked on a Tamora Pierce reading journey since that glorious moment, and have read the Immortals, reread the Song of the Lioness and read the Circle of Magic. Although it was the first volume of the Immortals which gave me that memorable moment, I did think that Circle of Magic was an even better series: I enjoyed that it has a more stable cast (I would have liked to see the relationship between Daine and Onua develop beyond the first volume, for example), and I loved the idea that each of the four volumes focusses on one of the four main protagonists while still keeping all the others in play — the structure of the books really reflects the structure of their interwoven relationship in that way. I’m much looking forward to the Protector of the Small series then!

    8. Loopy*

      I am just coming off a long period of not reading and finally going through TONS of great recs from a thread a few weeks ago (maybe almost a month by now). I couldn’t find the highly recommended The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard in any library branch, so I went to consider buying it. It’s 42 dollars! I realized only then, that it’s a 900+ page book.

      I’ve never read such a long book and cant imagine being sucked in for so many pages, but it has rave reviews. Sadly, I will probably put in on a wish list for now, as I need to go over my budget first- after shipping and tax 50 dollars feels like a lot when holiday gift buying is looming. I’m pretty sad my library doesn’t have a lot of the books I’m looking for.

      My library takes months to get in most new books after their release, sometimes up to 3 after release, sadly, so I have the Last Graduate on hold, and Under the Whispering Door on hold as well (both are showing as on order). Under the Whispering Door has 41 people in line ahead of me so it’ll probably be a good 4+ months.

      However, hopefully I’ll be able to go pick up The Historian and A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising soon! Both are AAM recs!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Coincidentally, I just finished The Hands of the Emperor today. I did buy it in eBook format, which is a much more affordable USD 8. It’s quite a brisk 900 page read, as doorstopper fantasy books go.

        I quite enjoyed it. It’s a very gentle read. Nothing bad happens beyond a bit of embarrassment and a couple of tense scenes, and there’s quite a lot of characters making speeches about their feelings and hashing out decades long family conflict, but it’s an engaging comfort read. Some of the world-building details didn’t make sense to me, but at a level I can overlook for the general enjoyment of the read.

        Other than that, recent reads include the latest October Daye books by Seanan McGuire, which was excellent (but not a good entry point for the series), the surprise new T. Kingfisher, Paladin’s Hope (excellent, and very much along the lines of the two previous books), and Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (a straight up sci-fi romance novel). And before that, Children of Time and Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky, a very good and very creative hard sci-fi duology (however, not recommended for arachnophobes).

        Oooh, and Lois McMaster Bujold just finished the first draft of a new Penric novella, which is something to look forward to.

      2. CJ*

        FWIW, I normally don’t rate my ability to concentrate for 900 pages, but I got it in ebook (so I didn’t realise how long it was when I started) and it absolutely kept me sucked in.

      3. PhyllisB*

        I’m not familiar with Hands of the Emperor, but if it’s an older book (more than maybe two years old?) you can look on Thriftbooks and probably get it a lot cheaper, Also if you spend over a certain amount ($10.00 I think) you get free shipping. That’s where I go for all my out of the way wants.

      4. OTGW*

        Idk if you’re still reading this, but even if your library branches don’t have it, you can request it via ILL which means they’ll get it from another library.

    9. SelinaKyle*

      I just finished the Thursday Murder Club in day so went out and bought the second book straight away. I really enjoyed them, didn’t guess the ending in the first few pages. I’m really glad they’re been turned into a movie with Steven Spielberg to direct.

      1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        I bought the second book last weekend and read it in two days, it’s BRILLIANT!

        1. Elsie*

          Thanks for the recommendation- my husband really liked The Thursday Murder Club, so I’ve bought book 2 for his birthday on Wed. (The ppbk of The Thursday Murder Club has nice readable print, but I like ebooks best!)

      2. Isobel*

        I really enjoyed the Thursday Murder Club and I’m looking forward to reading the second instalment. The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths was also great and had a similar theme of retired people investigating crime. It features DS Harbinder Kaur from the previous book The Stranger Diaries, but it works well as a standalone.

    10. Richard Hershberger*

      The Domestic Manners of the Americans by Frances (Fanny) Trollope, whose son Anthony is the more famous writer. This is in the genre of Europeans visiting America and writing about it. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is the one we all know. In Trollope’s case she spent several years here and published the book in 1832. It is a fascinating read, in part because she was largely unimpressed by our domestic manners. The descriptions of a religious revival and a camp meeting are particularly worth reading. She later wrote opposing slavery, but she can’t help but notice that the service is better when she is in a slave state. I am currently up to her visit to Washington, DC. (Fun fact: Washington, Pennsylvania was called “Little Washington” even then. It is not clear to me whether she realized this was not its official name.) She is very interested in observing debate in Congress, because women were not allowed in Parliament. She explains that this is because English gentlemen are so gallant that, were women allowed in, the members of parliament would devote too much attention to the ladies. A modern feminist she ain’t.

    11. The Dogman*

      Read Neal Asher.

      You are all missing out!

      His Prador War books are great, but so are all his Polity books.

      Start with “Gridlinked”, his first book.

      Warning, hardcore scifi with lots of blood and gore too!

    12. RSJ*

      I’m reading “There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America” (idk what’s secret about it except that not many people know much about its background) and I’m enjoying it! I don’t have much of a connection with the pageant, but learning about its very weird history has been fun.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      The Margot Affair which inspired a delicious tomato tart over at Smitten Kitchen. The secret daughter of a French politician decides to leak her existence to the press. You see the nuances of the mercenary or caring adults around her, but Margot is sixteen and more black and white. (Also, if you go to Smitten Kitchen and search on tomato tart this is an excellent way to use up the last farmstand tomatoes.)

      The Twelve Jays of Christmas New Donna Andrews, her protagonist’s extended community are as lovely as ever. For anyone looking for a good cozy series (Meg Langslow is a very organized blacksmith) I recommend finding Murder with Peacocks and going from there. For something different, her You’ve Got Murder has an AI detective.

      Generations by Tim Lebbon, a novel set in the Firefly ‘verse between the series and the movie. I would consider this a Firefly-fans-only read, but with that caveat it plays very much like watching an episode of the lost second season.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Donna Andrews – I’ll second the recommendation for the series, though I find that I’m falling behind! I just got THE GIFT OF THE MAGPIE – will have to put “Jays” on my list. (My favorite book in the series is WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARROTS, but I’ve enjoyed them pretty consistently throughout – though by the most recent books it seems that Meg and her increasingly-extended network of family and friends pretty much rule the county…)

    14. CatCat*

      I’m almost done with “The Poison Squad,” which a commenter here recommended. It’s about the history of food safety laws/reforms in the USA. It’s absolutely fascinating and also pretty nasty when looking at how food was adulterated to the detriment of consumers. It’s also fascinating that the same political tropes we see today associated with regulating public health were used 100 years ago. Things like, we can’t ban formaldehyde in milk or even require true labeling on products because that will infringe on people’s freedom of choice.

      1. Ampersand*

        That was likely me, and I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! :) I found it fascinating for that same reason. It really puts the US in perspective and makes you realize that, for all our progress, we have a long history of this type of thinking/pushback. On the other hand, maybe that means there’s still hope that eventually things will change for the better.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I haven’t read this, but sounds like something I would love. This little factoid may be in the book, but I remember reading years ago that chalk was added to horse radish at one time to…? I guess make it look more appealing? Also, Lydia Pinkham’s tonic was some sort of narcotic. Don’t remember precisely what, codeine maybe? Loads of women got addicted to it. I remember seeing it in stores when I was a young child.

        1. CatCat*

          Oh yes, chalk was definitely added to food. It was added to milk to make it look whiter after the milk companies watered it down. All kinds of crap was added to food as filler. Chalk, sawdust, borax, rope fibers, all kinds of non-food crap.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      Two nonfiction ones I picked up at the library because the title was at a level to catch my eye:

      Why Fonts Matter by Hyndman. On the opening spread took a quiz and determined that based on my preferred font I am someone who reads a lot and enjoys a well-made cup of tea, which: can’t argue. Very breezy with a ton of font illustrations and lots of interactive “If you type “Romance Novel” in the font “bludgeon” you can tell things are going to take a bad turn.” Made me more aware of font shortcuts I take. (On trip explained to husband that I knew this “Mimi’s Cafe” was the same as the one 1000 miles away because the font matched.)

      How to Eat by Bittman and Katz. Slim volume in a Q&A format on the basics of nutrition and diet. The emphasis being that most of this stuff is well-established, but science doesn’t lend itself to the New And Revolutionary Diet Breakthrough of news reporting. They agree with Pollan’s “Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much” as a good summary–what’s nice about the book is not that it is the latest and greatest research, but that it gives simple explanations for a lot of diet stuff. (For example, there’s a thing called lean obesity where if you’re someone whose body packs fat around the liver, just a few pounds can jumpstart the metabolic problems of obesity; meanwhile, someone packing on fat to her hips and thighs might have perfectly lovely blood sugar.)

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I read How to Eat too, and I found it really helpful for thinking about what food I should eat rather than what I shouldn’t. Also the way they framed “food science” within the context of the typical American diet really showed why special diets aren’t really as reliable as we are often led to believe. I thought it a really good reas for people who want a comprehensive analysis of what constitutes healthy eating.

    16. twocents*

      My book club just finished reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. It was… okay. There’s a lot of fridge logic where it’s obvious that the super genius man had to make REALLY stupid decisions in order for the plot to work, but the back-half of the book was bonkers so I didn’t terribly mind. I’ll probably donate the book to the library though, not giving it permanent shelf space.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I read that one over the summer and had a similar reaction. Lots of “ugh, this is why I don’t read many books by men” moments and I didn’t like the bonkers part either!

    17. ObserverCN*

      I just finished rereading “Dune” in preparation for the movie.
      I like to alternate fiction and nonfiction, so next up is “The Making of Biblical Womanhood” by Beth Allison Barr.

      1. Jackalope*

        As an aside, have you read The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans? I enjoyed it a lot and it’s a quick read but thought-provoking.

      2. KAZ2Y5*

        “The Making of Biblical Womanhood” is great! I checked this one out of my library but will buy it to have on hand whenever it goes on sale. Another book like this is “Women and Worship in Corinth” by Lucy Peppiatt. I had bought the ebook one time when it was on sale at Amazon and am reading it now.

    18. Teapot Translator*

      I just finished Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots. It was recommended here a while ago but I just got around to it. I enjoyed it!

    19. Bluebell*

      Just finished The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson, which was very sweet. Since I really enjoyed Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I read one of her earlier novels, Certain Dark Things, which centers on vampires in Mexico. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, especially the appendix, which details the different vampire species from different parts of the world.

    20. marvin the paranoid android*

      AUGH I also just finished The Last Graduate and that cliffhanger is a killer! Knowing myself, I will soon get distracted by another book and forget about it, though. It’s a really fun series, so I’m looking forward to the last one. I’m not usually much of a Naomi Novik fan.

    21. Ampersand*

      I’m reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s not at all what I expected—for some reason I assumed it would be existential, and that it is not. It’s ridiculous, and funny, and I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it. I’m not usually one for sci-fi but I’ve read quite a bit lately and enjoyed it.

      Before this I was reading the Silo series. I got through Wool and Shift, then decided to read something lighter because as much as I enjoyed the story and really want to know how it ends, it was not helping my mental health. It’s engaging and interesting and pretty well-written, but also depressing. I plan to read the final book…later.

      1. Filosofickle*

        HGttG is an all time favorite and I re-read the series from time to time. Great when I need a laugh! It’s so ridiculous in the best way.

        OTOH I tried the audio book on a recent road trip. I don’t actually like audiobooks, my mind wanders, but it was a LONG and emotional trip alone so I wanted to try and Hitchhiker’s seemed like a slam dunk. I hated it! The narration parts were delightful as expected but how Fry voiced Arthur Dent was nails on a chalkboard for me.

    22. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I just finished reading Educated by Tara Westover. (If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, you will probably like this book.) It seemed a bit improbable in places, and some of her family disputes her story/version of events (even the brothers she is still in contact with). Her mother recently self-published a book called Educating; her mother’s business (essential oils, btw now owned by Tara’s father) took a hit after Educated was published. Still, it’s jarring, sad, angering (TW for domestic violence), and contains bits of sweetness, hope, and extreme kindness.

      1. BTV*

        As someone raised in a similar environment, I found Tara’s story very probable, and it is not at all uncommon for people to have memories that disagree about things that actually happened. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. Educated Reader*

          Same, tbh. I was homeschooled in the 90s, had difficulty acclimating to the non-homeschooled world, didn’t find anything about her journey improbable.

          Also, FWIW, because Westover is a woman and her brothers are, well, men and therefore more privileged/safer in that kind of sitch, it’s possible they did not see some of the things she did.

        2. My Brain Is Exploding*

          The part I found improbably was that she could manage to teach herself enough to get into college…and a few of the educational things, like when she had to get 100% on a test in a class she was failing. To you and Educated Reader, I did not find her CIRCUMSTANCES improbable at all, and I agree with you both that people will have different memories about the same thing, and also that the brothers would have had a different experience. I think I worded that poorly in my comment.

      2. PT*

        I thought the book would have been better if she’d waited until she was older to publish it. It’s clear that she’d written it mostly as she was processing it, with no clear resolution to what happened in her life, and with her family. It just sort of…ends.

        Whereas if she’d waited until she was in her 50s, she’d have a more complete perspective on everything.

    23. The Dogman*

      On this point:

      “It’s a horrible cliffhanger, and book three isn’t out yet.”

      Like TV shows I no longer read parts of series until the whole thing is completed.

      That way I can even avoid investing time and care in things like GoT (Tv Series 8 was abominable cos the show runners didn’t care anymore, according to some good friends… and the whole internet lol) or AsoIaF (the GoT books, since I doubt Mr Martin will live long enough to complete them, sadly), and if I had done this years ago I would have had fewer disappointments with TV shows that get 1/2 seasons and then get canned, or with book series that never seemed to be complete to me (Wheel of Time anyone… tugs braids and smooths skirts…. AAAArrrrrgggghhhhhhhhh, tbf there is a lot more wrong with that series than just the author dying before finishing it).

      Hope you find something fun… and if you like hardcore SciFi then do check out my recommendation of Neal Asher…

    24. not that Leia*

      Saving The Last Graduate for when the series is complete…I love Naomi Novik but I’m with Dogman—plus I made it a rule after reading the first two Kingkiller Chronicles, (last book STILL unpublished) which I still periodically seethe about.
      I started the Goblin Emperor after mentions here last week but I’m finding it unexpectedly exhausting—so much protocol! (Does it get better?) Previously finished a Cold War historical novel—Our Woman in Moscow, which I enjoyed.

      1. Smol Book Wizard*

        The Goblin Emperor is a wonderful book but does have a very particular atmosphere that I think one has to be relaxed to fully be able to enjoy without empathetic anxiety…at least that was my experience.

    25. the cat's ass*

      I so appreciate this thread-so many great books out there! I’m working my through the Tess Monaghan books by Laura Lippman. Her stand alone books are great, too, especially “When she was good” and “Sunburn.”

    26. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed Edgar Cantero’s MEDDLING KIDS very much; it’s a Lovecraftian-horror story based on the “kid detectives” concept (originally inspired by Blyton’s “Famous Five” from the UK, but with “Scooby-Doo Gang” elements as well). The kid-gang in question solved a case – and then drifted apart; turns out they suppressed the memories of the “not at all a person in a mask” aspects, and are now adults with an assortment of personal issues. The book has the gang getting back together to try and settle the matter permanently. The writing style is unusual, with some really lush descriptive bits that meander between poetry and screen-writing/scene-setting, and the story features humor, intense friendships (and more-than-friendships), loads and loads of horror- and mystery-story tropes – most of them called out specifically by the characters – and some wildly dramatic confront-the-monsters scenes. Great fun!

      Am also enjoying a new-to-me manga series, PHANTOM TALES OF THE NIGHT, about enigmatic non-humans running a mysterious inn and charging the guests their secrets as a fee; lovely/creepy stories, some stand-alone, some linked, with some highly disturbing philosophical discussions about what it means for humans to have some purpose in life.

    27. Filosofickle*

      I’m in the middle of The Library Book and liking it very much! It’s about libraries, their meaning, and the catastrophic arson fire at the LA County Library. It’s lighter than it sounds.

      1. Other Meredith*

        I loved The Library Book. I keep meaning to check out the authors other books because of how much I liked it.

    28. cleo*

      I just read One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston and it lived up to the hype. Definitely best lesbian time travel romance set on a subway that I’ve ever read ;) It’s also just really damn good. A love letter to queer found communities and queer struggles and queer joy. It’s set in sort of an alt 2020 NY. There’s no pandemic, no mention of the election or Trump.

      It has a very narrow focus – the life of our protagonist August, a bi 23 y. o. from New Orleans, and her odd but wonderful roommates in their crappy 6 floor walk up in Brooklyn, and the pancake house she works at and the Q line she takes to college. And the beautiful 24 year old butch lesbian she connects with, Jane – mysteriously trapped on the subway since the mid 70s.

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        I just finished this and LOVED it – bought a copy already for my sister for the holidays. The sci fi/time warp aspect somehow balanced perfectly with the adorable meet cute queer NYC love story.

    29. Loredena Frisealach*

      I just finished Paladin’s Hope, the latest of T Kingfisher’s (aka Ursula Vernon) Saints of Steel series, lovingly referred to as ‘fluffy Paladin romances’. It is m/m, featuring gnoles, clocktaurs and the inhumanity of man as per usual. But no headless corpses! The last line is a zinger. I very much enjoy these, but I find they are not in my reread pile – not dark enough to dissuade my reading in the first place, but just a smidge too dark for comfort rereading.

      I’m about to start the latest Penric and Desdemona novella by Bujold which is a form of comfort read for me. I’m finding that the past few years has reduced my reading focus to new books in ongoing series and/or much-loved authors, and a great deal of rereading.

      1. The Time Being*

        !!! I’m supposed to be subscribed to T Kingfisher releases, why didn’t I hear about this one coming out?? Damn you, Amazon…. Thank you for mentioning it so I can grab it :)

        1. Loredena Frisealach*

          Amazon is horrid about waiting 3 weeks to show me a new release by authors I love :/ I only knew about the new Penric book because someone I follow tweeted it!

    30. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      I just discovered I’ve missed several releases by Elizabeth Hunter because I’ve been boycotting Amazon/Kindle. So I’m now back in Moonstove Cove. I love everything she’s written!

    31. Blomma*

      I’ve been reading all 82 of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels and short story collections in publication order. Last year was the 100th anniversary of her first novel so I began this “challenge” on 1/1/2020. I’m two novels away from being finished! It’s been a great way to get back into reading on a regular basis. It’s also been fascinating to see how the social views she expressed and language she used changed over the 50+ years she wrote.

    32. Fellow Traveller*

      I recently finished Ethan Hawke’s latest A Bright Ray of Darkness. It’s the story of a famous actor making his Broadway debut while his marriage is very publicly falling apart. It was really well written and the narrator/main character is so unsympathetically sympathetic. And, given my background in theatre, I loved all the details of putting on a Broadway show. Highly recommend if you like meandering stories of self discovery and backstage drama.

      So a quirky ask, I guess, but any recommendations for favorite books written in the omniscient/ third person voice? Particularly suspense or thrillers (but not violent ones) and general fiction with good characters and writing? (I’ve always prefer good character and prose over good plot.) I’ve read a couple really great novels this month – in addition to Bright Ray of Darkness, I’ve finished My Year of Meats, Northern Spy, The Wife Upstairs, and Hench- but they were all told in first person and I’m ready for a change. I just started Magic for Liars and the prologue was in third person and then I was so disappointed that the first chapter was in first person. But the book has redeemed itself so far and I’m enjoying it a lot.

    33. higheredrefugee*

      These are some great suggestions!

      BTW, Alison, Small Pleasures’ storyline revolves around a virginal birth, not an immaculate birth. The latter is born without sin, not by virginal miracle.

    34. BeckyinDuluth*

      I’m just starting Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown, and am also reading Blood Child by Octavia Butler (short stories). So far so good on both!

    35. MsChanandlerBong*

      Just finished “The Plot” and enjoyed it. Finished “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” last weekend and really liked it. It helps that I finished “The Turnout” a week earlier and thought it was a pile of horse manure!

    36. Sun in an Empty Room*

      I just read the brilliant short story collection “Gordo” by Jaime Cortez. The stories are about migrant workers in California in the 1970s. Highly recommend!

    37. The Smiling Pug*

      I’m currently finishing up A Bone to Pick by Jan S. Gephardt. It’s soft science fiction set on a space station hundreds of years in the future, with genetically modified dogs as main characters. It sounds hokey and childish, but it’s not. She tackles everything from abusive workplaces to the nature of trauma. I’m in Book 2, and they’re long, but they’re good.

  3. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I wanted to thank everyone for their input on the pet insurance from last week. I ended up not getting the cat due to needing a root canal, so that solved that problem, I guess. Thanks for all the input!

  4. An actual otter*

    Hello commenters! I’d love some advice from the community. I have been told I have “RBF” that makes me seem unapproachable. Do you think this something I can fix, and is it something I should even want to fix? As a youngish woman, I kind of feel like I’m being told to “smile more”, but at the same time, I do want to appear friendlier.

    1. Zona the Great*

      No you don’t need to change it and never tolerate being told to smile. “This is the way my face looks” is my go-to.

    2. PollyQ*

      I hate that it’s something you even need to think about, but the reality is, it can affect how people feel about you, and you asked, so. One low-effort thing you might try is professional eyebrow grooming, if you feel like your issue might be a sort of built-in glower.

    3. Copper penny*

      I have this as well. I’m a late twenties women. A few things that have helped. Thinking of happy things or plesant thoughts when I want to be approachable. Practice looking in the mirror and see how your expressions change. I’ve realised I can control my eyebrows and cheeks which make a huge difference for me. If I am upset or feeling awkward my rbf becomes 10xs worse. (I wonder how many people with rbf have anxiety or depression. I know I do)

      I also tend to tell at least one person in every social group that I can have bad rbf but I still want to be approached and talk to people. Bonus for telling the group gossip or group social leader.

      If someone tells me to smile more though, I’m not happy and lean further into the rbf for the rest of the conversation.

    4. Invisible Fish*

      You do you. No one needs to go around grinning in order to make other people happy. You look fine, your face is fine. I’ve noticed that ppl who have told *me* I have rbf kind of … just didn’t like how I did things anyway? (And if I have rbf, how come every lost kid or new person in town or older person who needs help in a store feels a-ok waltzing right up to me and asking for help?)

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My twin! This RBF gets approached by everyone in stores and parks and has to listen to their life stories. It drove my husband nuts for years, which I thought was funny because he’s the nice and friendly one, and I’m not that fond of people in general.

    5. WS*

      I think there can be a difference between rbf and “smile more”, depending who it’s coming from and in what context. Older men? It’s almost always “smile more”. I’ve practised smiling when on the phone and bringing that to my workplace – not necessarily the actual smile but the pleasant and approachable manner – has definitely helped. I also have social anxiety, so deliberately relaxing my face (especially around my eyes) a bit makes things go more smoothly.

    6. An actual otter*

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions. It’s fortunately coming from good friends who are women my age (late 20s), although I’m pretty sure most people I meet think the same. It’s only when I concentrate so usually happens at work, which is mostly ok because I don’t need to be super approachable there due to my role, but I’m also in a few hobby groups where I need to both concentrate on the hobby itself and make new people feel welcome.

      I like PollyQs very specific suggestion, although in my case it’s not an eyebrows thing – my eyebrows are extremely average looking.

      I also liked both the “it’s my face” suggestions and the “smiling / thinking happy thoughts” suggestions – I’ll see about applying these in the appropriate situations (with men at work vs with new people at hobby groups).

      Thanks everyone again!

      1. Pennyworth*

        When you switch from RBF concentration to interacting with people I’m sure you are approachable and friendly. I would be questioning the motives of someone who felt the need to comment on my RBF. What do they want me to do, get cosmetic surgery just to please them?

        1. Writer Worries*

          I definitely have RBF too and have been told to “smile” and asked if I was okay because I don’t look happy/look too serious when I’m concentrating or working or not interacting with someone. Some people just have ridiculous expectations for how everyone needs to be a dazzling rainbow of bubbliness and giggles all the time. The people who actually matter think I’m approachable and friendly and kind, so I don’t worry about it.

          I agree with Pennyworth. I’m sure that when you actually interact with new people at your hobbies (greet them, chat with them, let them know you’re happy to answer questions if they have any, etc.) they’ll think you’re approachable. You don’t need a grin plastered on your face the whole time or anything.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I have had the same feedback, especially when I’m concentrating or thinking something through. I’ve made a comment in the moment something like “don’t mind my frowny face, I’m just thinking!” With a pleasant tone and a smile (the last only if I feel like it). But, I’m firmly in the camp of your face is your face, and as long as you are pleasant (unless the situation calls for being unpleasant), then others can suck eggs.

      3. The Teapots Are on Fire*

        If you notice RBF when concentrating on your hobby, if you want to you can announce, “I’m going to make my thinking face now,” if you want people to know you’re not unhappy. Or call it your [hobby] face. Otherwise, yes, it may be your face and even good friends can unconsciously carry forward the message that women should be smiling more.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Do you have one or more trusted people who are in different demographics? You could check with them- or not. Depending on if you feel like it.

        I hear ya about the Smile! thing. I think you can use your words and tone of voice to indicate that conversation is welcomed.

      5. Roy G. Biv*

        An actual otter, in my youth I also had RBF when concentrating, or as I described it, “I look like I’m plotting a murder when I’m deep in thought.” And I would tell that to coworkers or friends who would ask, blatantly or on the down low, “What’s wrong? are you OK?” I would offer up the explanation so they could understand this is just how my face looks. And then they could get used to it, and perhaps share with the newbies, “No, Roy is not annoyed. That’s just how she looks when deep in thought.”

        If YOU wish to be perceived differently, then by all means work on the RBF. But if you are OK with it, own it. Having a go-to unapproachable facial expression has served me well when I wanted to remain uninterrupted on public transportation. Just sayin’.

    7. Wrench Turner*

      No, it’s your beautiful face, and there’s nothing you need to change about it.

      For me, a scruffy middle age guy trying not to come off as unfriendly or worse intimidating, I try to give quick verbal and nonverbal cues to people near me that I acknowledge them and happy to see them. Just a quick wave, peace sign, YO! or Mornin! and try to keep my voice “light and positive” even if my face (as my partner kindly puts it) looks “really serious.”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I recall a letter writer who was very quiet and solemn, and managed to turn that into “I am so serious about the value of our nonprofit’s work that it makes me quite grave when I talk about it.” Rather than show enthusiasm in more conventionally sparkly ways.

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      I have RBF too. I usually don’t mind it because I don’t want people approaching me anyway- I have social anxiety. But I do make a conscious effort to smile at people at work. Otherwise I just tell people it’s my face

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      There are roles (professional and social) where “do not mess with me” is a great vibe. And roles where you want people to approach you and so it’s a problem. As an example, I’d say kindergarten teachers, male and female, don’t want rbf.

      You should only try to adapt it if looking unapproachable is actually causing problems in your social or professional world. If so, I’d look to body language guides? (I am constantly asked for directions, so mild-mannered and approachable do I appear. Much more than my family members who possess senses of direction and actually know where they’re going. But in my younger days I did deliberately adopt things like striding boldly at random when lost.)

    10. RagingADHD*

      Since you say this is in the context of a hobby group where you want to make new people feel included and put them at ease, it might be not so much your facial expression, as your overall demeanor. Perhaps you get so concentrated on the hobby that you are ignoring the new people who want to chat with you. It can be intimidating to interrupt someone who is fully concentrated.

      I’d just say to try and keep your situational awareness “switched on” so you can make an effort to notice and actively welcome them. A little less “hobby time now” mode and a little more “host mode.”

    11. Exif*

      You don’t need to change anything about your face that you don’t want to.

      That said, I did get Botox because I wanted to. Besides fixing my RBF, I have a lot fewer headaches than I did before. I know it’s said to help with migraines, but I got it in cosmetic areas only. So maybe my tendency to scowl/facial tension was contributing to the headaches? Not sure.

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      This is such a ridiculous, shallow, and misogynistic thing and is absolutely not your problem.
      What kind of situations are you concerned about? If you really want to come across as friendlier, you could maybe be the first to to say hello or initiate conversation? I find that initiating the greeting often outs an instinctive smile to my face. I often find that people who are labelled as having RBF are merely quiet or shy or preoccupied.

      1. RagingADHD*

        OP clarified in the comments that this is a social hobby group where the veteran members like her want to help newbies, but her friends have told her the newbies are put off and intimidated by her demeanor. So it’s not just misogyny, there is a real impact on the social role she wants/intends to play.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          I meant just using the term is mired in a kind of ingrained misogyny, even if the user doesn’t intend it that way. I don’t know what else I would term a phrase that takes a feminine noun and uses it pejoratively, mostly to in reference to a woman’s physical appearance. A man might be called “cold” or “aloof”, but even those terms do not attack a person’s physicality the way the term RBF does. RBF is not about demeanor, it is about the physical appearance of a person. To my mind it would be like calling a deaf person “unapproachable” because they don’t look up when you enter a room.
          I think if OP (whom, interestingly, most commenters are assuming is female) is primarily concerned with being unapproachable, that ought to be a different issue than being concerned with having RBF. The former, I think one can strategize to counteract, the latter one shouldn’t have to question if it’s an issue.
          Also, I will say, I’m Taiwanese and there is a history of Asian women being labelled as having RBF for various physical and cultural reasons. I think when one also consider the term through that lens it is quite apparent why the phrase is incredibly intolerant.

    13. Filosofickle*

      I chose to “fix” my RBF because my outside didn’t match my insides. People perceived me as closed and unhappy, but really I’m a friendly person and I want to be approached, so it served me to make some adjustments. All I really had to do was be more aware what my face was doing — especially when I am concentrating or thinking (which is most of the time!) I tend to squint a little and furrow my brow. Simply relaxing my face and opening my eyes is enough. It’s an ongoing practice to relax my face whenever I find myself holding tension there. Not difficult but does take mindfulness.

      Beyond RBF, facial awareness is plain useful. I had zero poker face before, and it benefits me in life to be more aware what my face is giving away and direct that. Sometimes I want to be unapproachable. Sometimes I want to be neutral. Sometimes I want to look enthusiastic. It’s a kind of body language.

      1. justareader*

        I like your reply and I agree with you on “my outside didn’t match my inside”. That’s how I feel a lot of the time. I’ve been told I have an “unapproachable” look (by a woman with no ill intentions.. I think she thought it was a compliment somehow) but in reality i would love to appear more approachable since I’m so bad at approaching people myself!
        I will also say I’ve been on the other side of this situation where someone looks a little intimidating because of their facial expressions etc and I’m even less likely to approach them. It’s not fair seeming given it’s the face you’re born with (as I know from first hand experience but sometimes you’ve got to make adjustments to get the outcome you want!

    14. Sleepless*

      The OP asked for help with changing her facial expression because she wants to change it. Maybe we can offer suggestions on how to change it instead of telling her she shouldn’t want to.

      OP, one of the very first things I learned when I started doing mindfulness meditation is how much tension I carry in my face. Every now and then I do a quick full body scan starting with my face. I often realize there’s a scowl, or at least a really serious expression, there, and I can relax my face and try to look a bit more open.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Being the village scold to supportive people isn’t particularly helpful, either. Do we see men asking for help on how to be less of a Resting Bastard Face? Maybe we all need to work on changing the misogynistic standards that women must appear soft and welcoming.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      I attribute my RBF to something my mother told me as a child: “The shape of my upper lip made my smile look like a sneer.”
      I don’t think I smiled for at least a month after she said that, and I’m still not sure if it was ever true – it doesn’t show in any of the existing photos from that period or the present. But to this day, I have to make a deliberate choice to smile.

    16. JSPA*

      If it’s genetic, other people can like it or lump it.

      If your brow is knotted and your jaw is set because you are tense and unhappy (or your workspace is ergonomically messed up and giving you a low level constant headache, or your anxieties are knawing at your brainstem, and it’s writ large on your face), deal with those things…for your own sake.

    17. Here for the Randomness*

      I definitely have been told this as well. A few years back, a coworker switched to my group. A couple of months later commented that she assumed I was mean by my perceived demeanor but admitted she was wrong after being in my group. After switching jobs, I made it a point to be more visibly cordial which has made me much more approachable. While I can’t change my default facial expression, being more cordial has made work more pleasant.

    18. Esmeralda*

      I have RBF too. Have had it since I was a kid. It means I’m thinking.

      I used to think I needed to change my face. Now, I think to myself, F U Mr Smirky (it’s almost always a Mr who objects to my face), cock an eyebrow, and say, My boss doesn’t have a problem with my face, why do you care?

      Which is actually kinda bitchy. Goes with my face.

  5. Surprised to be a manager*

    Asking the writers among us: Have you ever worked with an editor on a book before submitting to agents? How did you find that editor? What was the process of discovery (and maybe the editing as well) like?

    Asking for my friend, who had two novels published by Harper Collins in the 2000s and is now working on a book she categorizes as autofiction/speculative fiction. It’s about a young woman living with an unusual disability in a dystopian near-future New York City.

    One reasonably priced source for editors I first read about in a previous AAM Weekend Open Thread: the London Writers Salon, which matches writers with editors for a manuscript assessment service.

    We’re based in the U.S., though, and she’s concerned that the British sensibility might not be the best fit for her work. (Of course that’s presuming the London Writers Salon works mainly with British editors, which may not be the case).

    We’d appreciate any and all input.

    1. Copper penny*

      I’m in the watching YouTube videos stage of writing, but my understanding is you really don’t need an editor before going on submission. You shouldn’t pay anything for traditional publishing. My main source of info is Michelle Schusterman on YouTube. She has mostly published middle grade books.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The one possible exception to paying for something is the index, which is part of the author’s responsibility. I farmed mine out for my first book. This is not uncommon. I also later concluded that I would have been better off doing it myself, and plan to for my current book. I gather that this too is not uncommon.

        1. fposte*

          Though often the publisher is willing to handle that and take the cost out of the author’s advance. We’re doing that with an academic title now–we’re behind schedule and if we do indexing (and proofing, which we’re also on the hook for) we will be very slow.

    2. WS*

      Are you talking about actual editing or a sensitivity reader? You shouldn’t be paying for an editor before submitting a manuscript, generally, especially with a publishing record behind you. The publisher will want their editor to work with you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t seek other input.

      1. Nicosloanic*

        Yes, a lot of the folks who will say “you must have an editor before sending to an agent to have any chance” are trying to make a living as editors (no shame! I respect the hustle!). I would say I’m an average copy-editor and I got an agent and a book deal without paying anyone to proof it, and for developmental edits I’m in a query group, and that plus my agents’ input seems to be sufficient. In theory, agents are expecting to by reading non-professionally-edited drafts. The industry is already impenetrable enough without trying to add this onto newbies.

    3. Weegie*

      Editor here. It depends whether your friend is looking for a copy editor (irons out grammar/ punctuation/spelling/word choice issues) or a book doctor (works with the writer on more substantive issues such as characterisation, does the plot makes sense, is it rambling in places). Copper penny is right that any future publisher should take care of copy editing, but sadly that’s often a bit lacking these days. Nothing wrong with roping in either type of editor to be sure your book has the best chance: look for professional writers’ associations who may have people in their memberships who offer book doctoring services; for copy editing, seek out professional editors’ associations who generally have lists of freelancers including those who can work with fiction writers.
      Alternatively, find a really good writers group whose members can critique each other’s work.

    4. sagewhiz*

      Editor here also. What Weegie says. With a caveat: the pub world has changed drastically in the past couple of decades, even re previously pub’d writers. Now agents/houses are much more receptive to submissions that state the ms has been vetted by X number of first (or beta) readers AND has been professionally copyedited. Yes the pub will have its own CE go thru the ms, but they now mostly concentrate on ensuring it meets house style (the days of the Maxwell Perkins of the world have joined the dinosaurs, and even Benjamin Dreyers are becoming a rarity).

      A good source for finding an editor is the Editorial Freelancers Assn—it’s an internat’l org, and the author will be inundated with responses, so a “hiring” post should be highly detailed as to what the author is seeking. Also, request a sample edit (no, don’t pay for it; it’s a “cost of doing business” aspect for us, to ensure both the author and editor are on the same page and will work well together). The EFA site is the-efa dot org.

      Or have the author get in touch with Weegie or me! ;-)

      1. Lore*

        I mean, Benjamin Dreyer is the copy chief of one of the main adult divisions of the largest publisher in America (and my boss) and I assure you we care enormously about copyediting! But not before something has been submitted to an agent. I’m not on the acquisition side but my sense is the idea of beta readers is more to get a read on “is there an audience for this book” then “has the author done the publisher’s job for them.” I would also make sure the query letters account for why your friend is looking for a new agent (assuming they had one for their Harper titles) and why there’s a long gap in their output.

    5. Olive Hornby*

      Editor here. Yes, it’s quite common for writers, even previously published ones, to work with outside developmental editors before submitting a new proposal or manuscript. Half the editors I know have left Big 5 publishing in order to do just this kind of work. Does your friend have an agent? Is their former editor still at Harper? Do they have friends who have been published by Big 5 or prominent indies (Grove, Graywolf, Norton)? If so, they may have recommendations. Otherwise, yes, the Editorial Freelancer’s Association is a good place to look.

      1. Olive Hornby*

        Sorry, I see your friend is no longer agented – but presumably someone is handling royalties for their previous books (even if they are out of print)?

        1. Lore*

          I agree on contacting the former editor as a starting point. Also their assistant at the time, who, if they’ve stayed in publishing, will be an editor somewhere.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I am indiepub, but I found an excellent editor through Reedsy. She has 15 years’ experience in the industry with major houses and now freelances.

      Reedsy’s prices are higher than average, but I find they also have a very high standard and make the process extremely structured and easy to find the people you want.

    7. Ann Herendeen*

      I’m the author behind this original query. I (we) should have specified that I’m looking for a developmental (structural) editor or a book doctor, not a copy editor.
      When I was originally published by HarperCollins (acquired in 2007, first novel published in 2008) it was an unusual situation, even now. I have never had an agent and my manuscripts were not edited in any structural way, just copy edited.
      Thanks to everyone who replied. I am definitely planning to contact the EFA and Reedsy, and will certainly reach out to the individuals who have graciously offered to help.

      1. marvin the paranoid android*

        I’m also an editor! One source you might want to try, unless you’re looking for an explicitly American viewpoint, is the Editorial Association of Canada. They’ve got a pretty extensive group of editors, and paying in Canadian dollars might be more feasible. Also, personal recommendations can be pretty valuable, if you know any fellow authors who have worked with freelancers they really like.

        Although personally, I would probably try to see how much work I can get done on my own or with the help of critique partners before paying someone to edit my writing. Any decent structural edit is going to be pretty costly, and as you know, the book publishing business is not a lucrative one to begin with. A good critique partner can be really helpful.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, I’m stealing that, too. My last editor was awesome, but in the UK. It was a few years ago and paying in pounds was quite a pinch at the time.

      2. NancyDrew*

        Another great resource is all the Binders groups on Facebook — Binders Full of YA Writers, Binders Full of Fiction Writers, etc. Lots of freelance, expert editors in those groups willing to help.

  6. matcha123*

    How do you all schedule time?
    I have a huge list of things I want to accomplish. This list hasn’t changed much in over a decade.
    When I am able to get into a good groove, inevitably something will happen, pulling my attention elsewhere and before I know it months have passed.

    My list includes: Going through my clothes to put them into groups of “toss,” “donate/sell,” and “keep;” Becoming proficient in Python and Javascript; exercising almost daily; reading more; learning to cook with my small kitchen space (no oven); saving money and becoming financially literate; and reorganizing my living space.

    You’d think that the clothes would be easiest, but where I live, there’s no “drop off clothes here for donation” type of places. There may be a few small ones connected to churches, maybe. “Selling” involves going to a recycle shop and getting 20c for a bag of clothing or trying to sell online and having to deal with people trying to bargain with you.

    How do you all tackle your own lists?

    1. Suzi Q*

      Have you tried pomodoro technique? Basically it means allotting a really small amount of time and working fast. One common issue is giving the task too much time and running out of interest. When I had a tv I used to do all my housework in commercial breaks. I was motivated to hurry AND I had a built-in reward.

      1. English Rose*

        The only way I get housework done is to save it for listening to podcasts I’m really looking forward to! :)

        1. Texan In Exile*

          That’s the only way I will exercise! I let myself listen to podcasts only while I am working out or doing chores.

      2. matcha123*

        I’ve never heard of this, but I do try versions of it to help me concentrate at work. (5 min on a puzzle, 5 min stretching)
        Tomorrow is Sunday, so will see if I can give this a try with other areas (reading, studying).

    2. Lizzie (with a deaf cat)*

      I find my tasks need to be broken down into things that take only a minute or two so that I can do them (in theory!) while waiting for the kettle to boil, the shower water to heat up, a tv program to start etc. And that I need the equipment to be where I will use it. For example, while the kettle boils I will wash or dry or put away stuff on the sink so the dishwashing liquid and sponge and a tea towel all need to be by the sink so I don’t wander off and get distracted while looking for a tea towel. In the bathroom I have some cleaning product on top of the washer, so while the water is just getting to temperature in the shower, I have a cloth nearby and am more likely to give the sink a wipe over or give the toilet a quick brush. One minute’s dishwashing is better than none. Exercising daily could incorporate stretches while you dry yourself after a shower.

      Re possessions, maybe you would benefit from amnesty re throwing things out at this point, rather than hoping that recycling or selling stuff may get easier over time. The clutter site “Taking one step at a time” talks a lot about amnesty in this way; later on you can then do a simpler “one thing in, two things out” routine to keep your stuff manageable, recycle, and so on.
      Re clothes, grab a shopping bag and stand in front of your wardrobe or sock drawer or wherever your clothes are, and throw three things out. Do the same tomorrow and the next day. As soon as the bag is nearly full, put it in the boot of your car, you will find a bin somewhere or a charity shop.
      Re books, same thing, put a shopping bag by the nearest bookshelf and tell yourself you will let go of three books a day – I have passed on more than a thousand over a year by this method, because I was rather inundated with books and they haven’t stopped writing them!

      That was lengthy – summary: make a list, break your tasks down into tiny ones and make it easy to do them while doing something else.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree with the clothing amnesty. Not everything is able to be sold, donated or otherwise recycled. However, unless it’s high quality stuff, I’d actually say to throw it out, not drive around with it looking for donation box.

        1. matcha123*

          I got most of my clothes from thrift shops growing up, so I definitely wouldn’t donate garbage clothing. Anything torn, stained, worn out, etc. goes to recycling (garbage). Other items are like, nice dresses and slacks that were barely worn and I’ve come to realize don’t look that nice on my body type.

        2. ronda*

          if you are not on board with throwing away.

          Do you have a local Buy Nothing group?

          mine is on Facebook and they often have someone giving away a bag of clothes. takers usually come and pick up from porch….. but I live in a locked apartment building, so I schedule to meet the person in my paring lot.

          for exercise, I find that I will only do it if I have a scheduled class. I do water aerobics and zoom yoga classes. If I dont have the social contract of a meeting commitment, I dont do it. (maybe a class would help for you programming training too)

          also many things on your list are broad on-going categories. maybe come up with a specific goal for them that is doable in a time-frame. ie: cook one meal a week on Sunday, shop, etc on Saturday

      2. Reba*

        A friend of mine did something similar, it wasn’t going to work for her to do a major clean-out so she would get rid of one object a day. Trash, give away, recycle, all valid options. I believe she did this for nearly a year! (I still have a pair of her gloves.)

    3. English Rose*

      I agree with Lizzie (with a deaf cat) [fabulous name!] about breaking down into tiny tasks. There’s a guy called David Allen who developed the Getting Things Done method. His key take-away for me is to find one ‘Next Action’ for everything, so you’re not overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.
      So one of the things on my list is to ‘sort out my pension funds’ which sounds horribly vague and scary (I am ridiculously afraid of anything to do with finances and always procrastinate!). So the very Next Action on this is to open my Bullet Journal (next suggestion) and make a list of all past employers with whom I’ve had pensions, and any personal pensions I’ve had over the years. That feels manageable, and will lead to a series of further Next Actions, such as finding paperwork for Fund number 1.
      And yes, Bullet Journalling. Find Ryder Carroll on YouTube to learn about the method. I find that writing things down on paper – in one place, one journal – helps me remember them better than electronic methods. For example you could have a list of potential places you could recycle/donate your clothes, with advantages and disadvantages of each type. Then your Next Action might be: take bag 1 to place A on Saturday.

      1. Jackalope*

        I also find it helpful to put all the things I want to do on a list, and keep a rolling list. For example, there might be a big thing like clean up the clutter in spot A, and a small thing like take the new laundry detergent downstairs. I will also include fun things I want to do like curl up with a book and some cats. When I have a few days off, I’ll add things like go on a long bike ride at least X number of days, or spend at least one evening playing a video game. That way I make sure to intersperse fun things with chores, and feel a sense of accomplishment when I can get some of those things scratched off the list. And whatever I don’t finish I’ll add to the list for next weekend or whenever.

    4. Anima*

      Bit by bit. Becoming proficient in Python and JavaScript is going to take its sweet time, if you are a beginner and doing it on the side. I am trying for Python since two years and am still at beginner level. I learned Java and C++ in the meantime and am just not a beginner anymore, so that is that.
      Other task like sorting through clothes: I set away a day or half day for that. And I won’t let me get distracted. Someone calls me? I tell them to call again later/tomorrow. If I see other stuff that needs to be done: I put it on the list for later/tomorrow. Maybe that works for you, too.
      Sadly I have no advice in how to get rid of clothes for you. I have it very, very easy here were I live with that. I just drop the good stuff off in the shop.

    5. Japanese Cooking*

      Two things

      Humans were not designed to be productive 100% of the time. I (often) have to release myself from the guilt of not doing more even though objectively I’m already doing a lot. Remembering that rest and rejuvenation belong on the to-do list just as much as laundry or cooking helps me quiet my brain weasels.

      For almost every task on my list, I’ve broken most of them down into smaller chunks. For example, if I’m hoping to meal prep something for the freezer the steps might be:
      – Research the recipe
      – Read comments
      – Print best recipe
      – Take printout to the kitchen
      – Put printout on the fridge with a magnet
      – Edit recipe in pencil (I like to mix recipe tips and tricks)
      – Take all ingredients out of cabinets and place on the counter together
      – Measure all ingredients (I have small cups for this. So garlic and ginger can go in a cup, the spices go in a cup, the sauces go in a cup)
      – Chop veggies
      – Prep protein
      – Put the right pot on the stove
      – Select storage containers
      – Label storage containers with meal and date
      – COOK
      – Allow to cool
      – Portion into labeled containers
      – Freeze

      It’s a LOT of steps and sometimes I can combine them sometimes I can’t. But I can almost always do one thing to keep things moving along.

      I try to be realistic about my brain space and physical energy at any given time so that I’m not running myself ragged. Having precooked homemade meals that I love and crave is one way I’m giving myself some self care and reducing decision fatigue during the week. Good luck!

    6. James*

      I don’t schedule, I prioritize. The nature of my work is such that you can’t pin it down precisely–there are so many things beyond my control that can affect what I can and can’t do that any schedule I make is more a framework for change than an actual schedule. So I decide what my top priorities are (usually the ones with the most limiting factors). Then my second priorities. And on down the list. When things change I move up or down the priority list as possible. There’s a whole Classical Greek concept of time that basically is this world view–you do what’s necessary at the right time, not the time dictated by the clock.

      So, for example: Let’s say you decide that learning Python is your top priority. Work sucked today and you don’t have the mental energy to deal with learning programing today–so you go through your cloths instead. Or you happen to be driving by the grocery store so you pick up ingredients to cook tonight, and spend the evening preping meals for the week. Then you spend a bit of time organizing the kitchen because you’ve already got to do the dishes anyway so you might as well.

      There are ways you can make priorities easier. For example, I always leave a book on my night stand, so that at the end of the day it’s easy to pick it up and read for a bit. I follow Teddy Roosevelt’s advice and read what I enjoy, ignoring what I “should” read, so it’s always enjoyable. Or, you can get a fun gadget to use in the kitchen so cooking becomes a joy instead of a drudgery. Spend a bit of time setting yourself up for success and it pays dividends.

      For exercise, you can’t beat martial arts. The class schedule and the companionship keep you on track. Honestly, I want to get back into European sword fighting as much for the companionship as the exercise. It’s getting easier to find places that focus on the health benefits of it and less on the…..Cobra Kai aspects, if that makes sense.

      1. fposte*

        I really like the “prioritize” notion. It was very helpful to me to decide that lists weren’t for finishing, just prompting.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, and also I find it useful to talk throughmy resistance to a task aloud. “I don’t want to fold and put away the laundry. There’s a lot of bending over and I’m not good at it so I get impatient when things don’t fold right, and I’m not sure what to do about some shelves, and I feel like this never gets done because of how often I have to do laundry.” There’s something about identifying free-floating resistance that’s helpful to me.

          1. Reba*

            Oh, this is a much better self-script than “just fold the laundry, you goof, it won’t even take that long”!

          2. Bibliovore*

            oh the laundry.
            My husband did all the laundry. He would be resentful if I interfered with his flow.
            Now it had been piling up unfolded.

            A friend of mine said always fold laundry in front of a TV show. I have no idea why I had never thought of that. Also, I have started just organizing my clothes in bins (zulilly had some plexiglass ones) in cabinets and folded in the Kondi way. That works for me.
            I have given up on the socks. I buy all the same ones, wool for winter, cotton for summer. I leave them heaped unpaired in a small basket on a chair in the bedroom.

    7. Voluptuousfire*

      Look for local charities that pick up clothes donations! Do you ever get fliers in your mailbox saying a church is going around accepting donations? Usually they’ll pick them up.

      Saves me a lot of trouble and forgetting.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I prioritize my tasks; I approach them differently depending on what type of task it is; and I identify roadblocks and remove them.

      For example, “exercising daily” and “saving money” are different kinds of tasks than “purge the closet.” These require small daily changes in habits that are meant to continue indefinitely. There’s no point in putting those off (and a real danger to myself if I do), so I would move to “identify roadblocks” and really try to address them. Carve out the time, put it in my calendar, etc.

      One big roadblock is wanting everything to be perfect. “I can’t do it all/can’t do it all the time” becomes very shaming, and then I don’t even think about my new habit or task because it makes me so anxious. Maybe you want to exercise 30 minutes a day 4 days a week, but you’ve been trying for years and it just never happens. See what happens if you JUST carve out 10 minutes every morning for light stretching. Don’t make this a consolation prize, B- grade kind of thing. The actual 100% task is 10 minutes of stretching every morning. That might be more doable, it’s certainly better than seven days per week of nothing at all, and someday in the future you can circle back to adding some more exercise on certain days.

      Other tasks, that aren’t lifestyle oriented, I would prioritize. Maybe you have plenty of room in your closet and it’s just your internal Jiminy Cricket that wants you to purge it. Put it on the bottom of your list. On the other hand, maybe you really care about this project but you’re getting bogged down on finding a place to donate (roadblocks). If it were me, I would prioritize how important that particular part of the project really is. Maybe I realize that my clothes are not so hot and it’s okay to throw them away. Or maybe it is super important to me not to create more landfill, so I’ll spend a few hours finding a free-cycle group online or calling the small churches you mentioned. Once you have an actual plan for the clothes, instead of a vague “I must donate them, but where? where?!” it might be easier to get started on sorting. Especially if you’ve committed to a drop-off next Thursday.

    9. matcha123*

      Thank you all for the replies!
      I hope I can start putting all your advice to good use soon. I also notice that I get a huge energy burst in the winter months and fall off in the summer. Which…aligns with how I feel about summer (sluggish, hate it). I need to plan for how to deal with that eventual fall off in the warmer months, too.

    10. RagingADHD*

      To some extent, I separate routines like exercise, frugality or reading from projects like clearing out clothes or learning a language. Making a new habit is a bit of a project in that it takes energy and focus, but hopefully once the friction of change is overcome, it will be ongoing. Whereas the other kind of project has an endpoint, if you see what I mean.

      I think trying to do all these things at the same time is just too much. I would pick 1 routine and one project, and then dedicate a 2-3 month window to hit a certain defined goal with them. For example, you could set the goal that you will do X days of exercise and purge Y bags of clothing. And keep a log.

      At the end of that period, you maintain the new habit, and pick a new habit and a new project to set goals around.

      I think defining goals will really help, because “become proficient” or “read more” are fuzzy and the brain kind of blanks out on executing fuzzy things. It’s not actionable. Like your brain says, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

      “Complete this many chapters in this book /course on Python” or “read five new books” aren’t fuzzy. They are actionable, which helps the brain wake up and start doing things.

      1. Nicosloanic*

        See, I think one of my problems is that I lump “learn new language” and “clean closets” into the same category, whereas in reality, I could likely get most of the closet task done in a day if I would just – do it, where as something like learning python is a series of classes and homework over a long period of time. I fail in two ways: 1) I tend to save up the closet task until it’s “big enough” do be A Project, hoping that some Saturday I’ll feel inspired to spend a whole day doing it – which I never will; it’d be better if I spent five minutes a day doing it rather than putting it off forever – 2) I will try to approach something like “learn python” as a weekend project, when it’s just not the way learning goes, and then be frustrated I’m making so little progress. Don’t be like me.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Clothes. Put a bag next to or in your closet. As you come across things you know you do not want put them in the bag. Here the key is that it’s things you know for certain you do not want. If you are unsure put it back in the closet.
      This way it is just part of your routine to always be skimming your clothes. I take off my socks at night and notice a big hole, I can either try to fix it or I can toss it. Since I do not like repairs on the bottoms of my socks, I usually toss them. Why put them in the laundry if I know they are not comfy and they are not repairable? Toss or donate as you go.

      If all you have near you is a church program for donating clothes, why not just roll with it. A church near me (that I do not attend) has a popular thrift store with lots of bag sales. A surprising number of locals shop there. The store clearly sends out a message that they do not care where or even IF a person goes to church. The store is for everyone.

      Computer classes? Pick one, get your book/class whatever and start. Designate one or two evenings a week until done.

      Reading more. Is that realistic with all you are trying to do? I thoroughly enjoyed my hour of reading before bed. I have to get back to it. It’s amazing how much I covered in that time frame. Again with the designated time slots, pick a slot and make it your reading time. You can also cover learning about finances and learning about popular organizational strategies. I call it “reading strategically”, I try to address concerns, goals and interests with what I read during that time.

      Learning to cook in a small kitchen. You probably are already underway doing this. Figure out what you would like to cook that you are not cooking now. Figure out if you will need a new appliance to do that thing. You can cross over with a lot of this stuff- for example you can use your reading time to find new recipes to cook.

      Using your examples, I would ask myself, “What do I FEEL like tackling this week or this month?” It’s two different answers because of the time allotments. Some days I am in a super mood for organizing and I will tackle a half dozen kitchen cupboards. Other days I am sick of not knowing how to make X and I will sit long enough to find a recipe to make X. A month long project would be something like the garage because it’s never really been that organized. I go where I feel like I will have some measure of success.

      I think it’s good to remember that there will always be projects and goals waiting in the wings. There is always something more to add to our to-do list. This can give a frame of reference that I like. It reminds me not to waste time on projects that are self-defeating, such as some sewing projects. Once I have that pillow made to I really want to clean it every year for the rest of my life? heck no. Go with the high points things that seem like they will be more enduring.

    12. Pam Adams*

      I’m wondering if you’re letting perfection outweigh the good. If you want to, for example, get rid of clothes, the 20p sale or small church group donation will get them out of your way pretty quickly.

      1. Lou*

        “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly.” I think I read that on tumblr or Pinterest (probably a screengrab from tumblr tbh). Don’t let it be perfect, just let it get done.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      For getting rid of things, one year my New Year’s resolution was to discard (in whatever way) one thing from each room each garbage day. The linen closet counted as a room. It helped that it was just one thing, like an old scrunchy or a worn out pair of socks. It wasn’t so overwhelming to think of it that way. Hope that helps!

    14. PhyllisB*

      RE getting things done. First thing I’ve discovered is writing things down helps a lot. List everything you can think of. I don’t mean stuff like get up, brush your teeth, ect. (Though that may be helpful for a dragging child.) I mean things like sort clothes, weed out books, go to post office, ect. It seems that seeing it in print helps me get a handle on things and quells that anxious, overwhelmed feeling. Then when you look at your list of 437 items you want done, don’t panic. Just decide which one you want to start with. Then set a timer for 15-30 minutes and tell yourself you can stop when the timer goes off. Most of the time you will get in a groove and want to keep going. If not, you can quit without guilt. This has helped when I have a lot of things to do, and it’s so satisfying when you can cross it off your list.
      I like the suggestion about throwing out three things a day. I have a storage shed that hasn’t had a good clean out in this century. (Seriously, I think the last time I really did it was 1999.) I have told myself I will go out every day and pick at least two things to either throw away or rehome. So far I’ve gotten rid of about 50 items. I can actually see part of the floor now!!

  7. Frally*

    Please tell me how to get over my phobia of throat cultures. I have a bad reflex and can’t tolerate them. Just the thought of a stick swabbing my throat gets me upset. I’d like to be able to go to the doctor when I have a sore throat to test for strep.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I feel you. Same here.
        I do my throat swabs myself (no reflex that way!)
        If I’m at the doctor’s – they can see my reaction so they usually just leave it. My doctor knows me though, which helps I think. I’ve had very upsetting encounters when younger with male doctors not understanding my reaction. (Boo to doctors like that).

    1. WS*

      Surprisingly, there is a palm pressure point to reduce your gag reflex and it does seem to work and has been studied by dentists. You make a fist with your left hand and squeeze your left thumb hard. Some left-handers use the right hand instead, and some people hold their thumb in the opposite hand. It reduces your gag reflex considerably.

    2. Admiral Thrown Rocks the Blue*

      Last time I had a swab for possible strep I ended up sitting on my hands. I couldn’t stop pushing away the nurse. It was almost involuntary, a very strong reaction. I’m still embarrassed about that but she was very understanding.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      No advice, I’m there with you. My last one involved being held on the table by other people because I kept moving away

    4. The Teapots Are on Fire*

      Two things to try: panting, and leaning slightly forward. Little things can make a difference sometimes. Concentrate HARD on the panting.

      1. Maxie's Mommy*

        Leaning forward works great. A dental assistant showed me that trick when I was having impressions done. So does tilting your head all the way back, with your mouth pointing at the ceiling, for a throat culture. Those dental assistants know all the tricks!

    5. Stitch*

      I mean, how often do you really get stabbed for strep? I think it’s been twice in my life ever. So unless you have chronic strep, I think its okay.

      Otherwise I’d recommend what I do when I have to go to the dentist (I’ve had three different surgeries). Just try to take your brain away and thibk about anything else. I think I replayed the Lord of the Rings movies in my brain during one surgery.

    6. JSPA*

      1. Practice dropping your tongue as you say “aah.” (Think of a frog, or gollum, making a “gollum” noise, and your throat should bulge out). Do it in the mirror. Having a wide access path reduces the risk of extra touches to the side or the back.

      2. suck some ice before. Well chilled = less touch-reactive.
      (Sprays mostly won’t be ideal, if they’re trying to culture.)

      3. Ask yourself what “tolerate” means. Do you expect it to be comfortable? That’s not very likely! Nobody, so far as I know, likes getting swabbed.

      4. There’s plenty of advice out there for people wanting to reduce their gag reflex for more, uh, recreational reasons. Some of it might translate to your situation.

  8. NYC Nonprofit*

    Can anyone share their experiences of dealing with cat over grooming, or cat IBD? One of my cats has IBD and the other one has been over grooming since mid-August, and in both cases it has been a long, hellish experience trying to navigate different strategies while trying to control symptoms as best as I can.

    In this case (after trying literally everything else), I think I’ve figured out that the overgrooming cat may also have developed a food allergy (her brother’s IBD manifested earlier this year too), and so am now doing a food trial on her.

    I think what gets me about the treatments for both these conditions is that any one strategy takes a minimum of weeks to see if it’s working… so you could put in all that effort for weeks, meanwhile watching your cat tear her hair out or continue to have diarrhea / gastro distress — all to find out you weren’t addressing the right cause.

    It has been absolutely maddening and, while I’ve dealt with a lot of feline chronic health conditions, this is my first time dealing with these two specifically. Any advice or commiseration would be appreciated!

    1. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I shall watch this with interest as one of our cats has started over grooming. The vet thought he was stressed out by our other cat bullying him but I’m not convinced that is the issue (for several reasons).

    2. Lizzie (with a deaf cat)*

      My deaf cat has to have a grain free diet, this allergy was initially skin based (scratching, pulling fur out) when I got her and she was on prednisone, but the grain free diet sorted that out promptly. If she has any food with grain in it now, it affects her gut instead of her skin. SOME foods marked as grain free are not so, disappointingly, so I rarely change her tinned food diet. Grain allergies seem to be becoming more common in cats, I assume that is partly to do with their more indoor life and their processed food diet, and I wonder if things like worming tablets, flea treatments etc are having a negative effect on their gut.
      I haven’t tried it because my cat’s gut seems pretty stable at the moment, but I wonder if Feliway or another cat calming spray could help yours in the interim. I do have pots of cat grass in the house for my cat as a digestive, as she is an indoor girl.
      You certainly do have my commiserations, when my cat recently tried a new “grain free” food she was very excited by it, loved it, wanted nothing else, but the sad evidence that her gut did not like it only took 24 hours.

    3. SelinaKyle*

      It depends why they are over grooming. One of our cats is allergic to fleas. The first summer we had her she over groomed her belly. Turned out the usual flea treatment wasn’t strong enough for her. We now use a different stronger brand on all four of our cats. She hasn’t over groomed since and that was 5 years ago.

    4. Dwight Schrute*

      My cat was overgrooming due to stress, we put him on Prozac and he was much better! Hope you find something that helps yours

      1. Double A*

        Yes, my cat started over grooming from stress after our other cat died. Prozac snapped her out of it. And she didn’t need to be on it long term; once the habit was broken, she didn’t go back to after she stopped.the meds.

    5. The Dogman*

      If you are using a Fipronil based flea treatment it may not be working anymore.

      In the UK fleas are more or less immune to Fipronil, which is why I switched to Bravecto (tradename) which is a Fluralaner based treatment.

      My cat hasn’t overgroomed since I started that last year!

      Good luck, if the fleas are not the cause you will need to work out which food she is ok with, and yes, that takes ages and lots of licking. Some vets will give a steroid injection to reduce the skin irritation, perhaps one of those every couple of weeks in the meantime will stop her getting too matted and patchy while you work out what she can have?

    6. fposte*

      Don’t know if this will help, but a friend has a pair of sister cats from a breeder (responsible, etc.); they overgroomed and apparently it was something that was common in this family line, but the cats that did it stopped after spaying. I thought that was really interesting and also reflective of my own stress behaviors, which sometimes ramped up for internal rather than external reasons.

    7. Twisted Lion*

      My cat over groomed for a long time. After tests at the vet we switched her to prescription allergy food and she is a lot better. It is frustrating but I would definitely try the vet if you can afford it. The prescription food is pricey but worth the sounds ok licking and her poor bald red stomach. I was trying allergy food from the pet store but it was rubbish and didnt do anything.

    8. PNW*

      I’m not sure how different it is in cats, but my 8 year old dog has had IBD for years. She’s on prednisone every other day and prescription food. A yeast based probiotic called Mycequin helps *a lot* but is frequently out of stock. The IBD is mostly controlled but she still has flares. Usually we have to test for giardia and then do a combination of more prednisone, probiotics, and/or other meds. The prednisone has long term side effects but it’s better than constant vomiting and diarrhea. I hope you’re able to get a good treatment plan for both of your cats.

    9. Blomma*

      I can’t speak to the over grooming, but my 13 (now 14) y.o. cat was diagnosed with pancreatitis and IBD back in May. Treating it has involved many trips to the vet! (Maybe 12 visits since this all started?) We started out with an anti nausea med and an appetite stimulant med because she wouldn’t eat anything. The vet also prescribed her a probiotic. The most helpful med was prednisone for the inflammation, which she took from May until about 2 weeks ago. (I’m hoping that she won’t have to go back on it, but you never know.) She also had to have a course of Vitamin B-12 shots for a deficiency. Another thing that made a huge difference for her is prescription cat food she eats now. It’s Royal Canin Multifunction Satiety + Hydrolyzed Protein. (The satiety part is because she is overweight and needs to slim down for her joints and for diabetes prevention.) She is only allowed this food, no cat treats or samples of bacon anymore. I think it took a week or two for the prednisone and diet change to resolve most of the gastro symptoms. I was actually surprised at how quickly she was willing to change to the prescription food, but I’m sure she made the connection that it didn’t make her feel sick. Our dog also has a Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein prescription food for his allergies, so I wonder if it might help both of your kitties? It’s so hard to see them suffering – I hope your kitties feel better soon!

    10. Chilly Delta Blues*

      My cat has a ragweed allergy which is one of the main reasons we don’t wear shoes inside anymore. She gets a $30 steroid shot each year during the worst of it. Once when it was really bad we put a 0-3 month button down baby shirt on her, it didn’t prevent her from using the litter box but did protect her belly from rubbing on things and gave the scabs time to heal.

    11. JSPA*

      One ingredient I’ve noticed showing up in dozens of foods is peas / pea protein. Also, soy / soy protein. Pumpkin and beets and carrots, to a lesser degree. Cheese and eggs, in some. And despite several of these items being potential major allergens in cats as in people–pea allergies are right up there with soy allergies and peanut allergies–several supposedly “sensitive” formulations have one, two, three or more of the above. For now, the most basic of the Purina cat chow naturals (“original”) still works for mine…though it does have soy…peas have invaded at least one of the flavors, I think?

      Another thing is even low level flea problems. Cats can become super allergic to flea bites, and get digestive problems and a host of systemic issues.

      Cat beds don’t always cooperate, when you try to wash and rinse them–sensitivity to residual soap can be a problem.

      Rare but serious–exposure to permethrin insecticides. Yes, they’re “natural,” more or less; but no, they’re not at all safe around cats.

    12. Cat and dog fosterer*

      My friend’s cat occasionally overgrooms due to stress, and they put a soft collar on her (turned down against her body). It doesn’t resolve the underlying problem, but whatever stresses her is temporary, so this fixes the problem without drugs.

    13. CatMom*

      One of my cats constantly over groomed and licked a bunch of fur off this stomach and arms. After several frustrating food trials, it seemed like he was allergic to poultry (very common ingredient in cat food). We switched to an allergy friendly food (instinct limited ingredient rabbit) and it’s worked out great. Definitely worth the trial and error.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Chicken is notoriously allergenic for dogs and cats, and fish is also one that I have experienced with several cats.

    14. Mungojulia*

      Seconding the allergies suggestions – it may be enough to switch protein/carb sources (like if you’re feeding them a standard chicken/grain formula, switch to something like salmon/potato) but you might need to go with fully novel protein, like duck or venison. You can usually get those formulas from your vet (but aren’t a prescription diet) or specialty pet stores.

      It may also be worth talking to your vet about doing a round of steroids to help eliminate the underlying inflammation that months of irritation may have caused. Steroids are also appetite stimulants in cats, so it makes food transitions easier if they are picky eaters.

  9. Princess Deviant*

    Weird and maybe an esoteric question – what do you do to self-soothe that’s healthy?
    I’ve been working on it in session.
    One things that was suggested to me: placing my hand where I feel anxious, e.g. on my stomach or on my chest.
    I guess I could regulate my breathing too because I breathe shallowly when I’m anxious.
    The issue I have is that I do forget to do these things in the moment. It’s only afterwards when I’m exhausted from the interaction that I think “hey, I should have done that”.
    Work in progress I guess.
    I don’t know about you, but I didn’t learn how to ‘adult’ from my own family. I’m learning it from other healthy adults as I’m getting older.

    1. English Rose*

      Not so weird, I think this is important to a lot of people. I have a friend who used to suffer horrible anxiety in part because she couldn’t sleep well. She got a weighted blanket. Google it, but be picky, and the best ones are expensive :(. It ‘holds’ her and is comforting and fosters quality sleep. Or even sitting with it in a chair. Not something you can use in the moment of course, but she has found benefits spill over into everyday life.
      Learning to ‘adult’ takes a lifetime!

    2. Bobina*

      One of the best things for me was just learning to recognize what anxiety looks like for me. I’m in a bit of an anxious phase at the moment, but even just knowing to recognize it and acknowledge it means its a lot easier to know that I need to self-sooth or just give myself some space/grace.

      So I would say start by paying attention to your body and the signs of what anxiousness looks/feels like for you.

    3. Japanese Cooking*

      Grounding techniques can be very helpful here. Specifically using all five sense when you’re overwhelmed. What are 5 things you can see, 4 you can hear, 3 you can touch, 2 you can smell, and 1 you can taste? My family had/has a lot of mental illness and it’s fascinating to look back on the various coping mechanisms each kid developed. One thing that’s effective for me and actually matches what they now recommend is to read a news article. This was easier in the Before Times when the world wasn’t on fire, but pick a safe category like cooking or gardening and read an article. Any article. It only takes your brain two minutes to reset onto a new path. HUGE help for me growing up and now to interrupt and escape the rumination spiral. I still read every dang shampoo and conditioner bottle in reach. It’s weirdly soothing!

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I am in my 50s and still don’t have the hang of adulting, and have run out of f’s to give about that fact.
      For self soothing I use breathing exercises. The classic breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold 2, exhale tends to be the most effective for me.
      I also crochet to relieve stress and read when I need to get out of my own head and “visit” another world for a while.

    5. Jay*

      I have always had difficulty recognizing the physical warning signs – before I notice it, I’m wound up past the point where basic self-soothing will work. I finally found a few things that have really helped. I figured out that the emotion underlying the wound-up-edness is usually shame, and I recognized which situations and which people/relationships are most likely to trigger that response. Now I know ahead of time that I’m heading into an encounter that puts me at risk and I pay far more attention to my body, which helps me slow my roll and do something to defuse my response. That something is often focused breathing, which helps slow my heart rate and calm me down and also stops me from talking so I don’t blurt out something I will regret.

      The other big thing is that I try to set myself up for success with self-care ahead of time. In 12-step, we use the acronym HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Those can trigger the behaviors I want to change. I’ve added “time pressured” to that – if I feel rushed, I start to spiral emotionally. I do everything I can to prevent getting hungry, angry, tired, or rushed (lonely is not a big thing for me).

      And the final thing is I’ve given myself permission to walk away from encounters if I feel like I’m going to lose it. If I think of it early enough, I can end the conversation gracefully and give myself time to recover.

      It’s taken a long time to figure out how to deal with this. Give yourself grace.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I love that acronym. Although I will add another “T” because I get cranky when I get dehydrated.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      Breathing techniques and fidget toys and going for walks help me in the moment. I love this video on breathing techniques- I think it’s water, and whiskey breathing- you should be able to find it on YouTube that way. Long term out of the moment- weighted blanket, and medication.

    7. Sloan Kittering*

      If I have time, nothing works a s effectively for me as a hot bath. In a pinch, getting under my duvet helps too. Just being surrounded by heat, basically; being cold seems to trigger anxiety. I realize this won’t work in the middle of a meeting though. They say counting, or breathing while counting, is good but I’m sure your counselor has already told you that. A “bad” one, maybe; I drive my fingernail into the fleshy pad of my thumb, or pinch myself. The pain distracts me from the anxiety, however I’m not sure that’s a recommended technique; I use it in emergencies (mostly the doctor or dentist).

    8. Frankie Bergstein*

      I have been thinking about this topic a lot. I’m also learning to adult while approaching what folks call middle-age, so you are not alone.

      For me, in addition to the sunlamps folks have mentioned, daily exercise that is fun, involves music, etc. If I can’t make myself, I’ll do a deep stretch yoga video — that way, at least I’ve worked some tension out of my muscles.

      I’ve also been leaning into coziness: snuggling the dog, making spiced chai and hot chocolate, and trying new recipes, like an egg-in-the-hole grilled cheese. Listening to new music and finding albums I like, then listening to them over the week is nice too. Lots of tiny pleasures, like sun coming in and gorgeous cloud formations outside while I type this.

      Also: it’s just hard. I can’t get as much done, and I really like being active / productive. I name this phenomenon my “winter slowdown” when I talk about it so I can specifically name that it affects my productivity. I am working on accepting my winter slowdown.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Visually tracing a square when anxious. Up one side: inhale to slow count of six (or whatever number works). Across top: slow count of six. Down other side: exhale to slow count of six. Across last side: slow count of six. Repeat until calmer.

      I got this from a pre-surgical counselor, recommended through the hospital and cancer center. Will note that she did not say a single word about diet and exercise (what I expected the session to focus on; instead it was all mindfulness) but, over the next month, I lost several pounds. I think because she gave me ways to cope with stress other than chocolate. So your question about how to self-soothe in a way that’s healthy resonated with me a lot.

      1. Ampersand*

        It’s interesting you mention this—I’ve noticed that if I’m really anxious during a conversation, I start mentally tracing lines around objects in whatever space I’m in. I think my brain automatically just starts doing it to self-soothe. Then I realize I’m doing it and recognize I’m anxious. I’ve never heard of or considered doing this intentionally, but makes sense! Most anything that is mentally distracting seems useful.

    10. Wishing You Well*

      Breathing exercises are good, if you can tolerate them. A social worker friend said breathing exercises can actually make some people MORE anxious! I use exercise. When stressed, I go for a walk, if possible. If not, I exercise inside. Exercising every day can help your overall anxiety level. Of course, therapy can help find the root cause of anxiety and offer an individualized plan for self-soothing. My neighbor likes to bake (cookies, not weed) to relieve stress!
      Great question and good luck!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I can’t do breathing exercises, except for two or three deep breaths before I have to do something that makes me anxious, like give a presentation. Tai chi helps me, although I haven’t been able to go since February 2020…

    11. Chaordic One*

      Yes, not so weird. It’s not unusual to forget to do these things in the moment, but afterwards when you’re exhausted from the interaction is a time to process what happened and to get yourself back to a state of equilibrium. Not dwelling on what just happened, but acknowledging it and moving on. The breathing helps.

      There’s an intermediate step that is horribly uncomfortable, where you are not exactly forgetting to do these things in the moment. You’re aware of what is going on and of the things that you’d like to be doing, and it doesn’t happen. It’s like watching yourself in a slow-motion train wreck and you can’t stop it. When you’re in that horrible intermediate step, you can take the next step and say to yourself, “Hey, I should do this!” The next time it happens might actually do it. Or at least attempt to do it. Maybe do part of what you want to do, if not the whole thing.

      Once I read an article about boxing (of all things) and the thing that I remember about it was that successful boxers were not just good boxers (the boxing was the comparatively easy part) but that they were extremely physically fit and spent a lot of time exercising to build up their muscles in order to withstand that beatings that they would receive from their opponents.

      You don’t need to be in extremely peak physical fitness like a boxer, but you do need to be well-rested, reasonably fit, hydrated and fed in order to withstand life. That means getting enough sleep, remembering to consciously eat well and getting some exercise in order to be able to deal with life as an adult. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Be ready to move on to the next thing. That’s what resilience is about.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh yes, I can relate to that horrible moment of realisation when it’s like having an out of body experience. I really like this explanation of it being a muscle that you have to practise using. Thanks so much, that’s really helpful.

    12. Not A Manager*

      Re: forgetting to Do The Thing. This is an issue of learning a new habit, and it’s exacerbated by the fact that you’re disordered at the time you most need to practice your new skill.

      If you have people around you who could prompt you, ask them to give you a one-word prompt or a short phrase when you seem distressed (maybe due to your shallow breathing). They don’t need to get all up in your face or manage your experience, they are just reminding you of a task.

      If you don’t have people that you feel comfortable asking this, and/or as a backup, you could post some sticky notes with your prompt on your workstation or around your home. Just like “give yourself a hug” (perhaps not the best – trying for “touching where the anxiety is” but I’m sure you can think of a better phrase), or “in through the nose” (which is completed by “out through the mouth” as one kind of breathing exercise).

      Also, as with any habit, sometimes you need to practice it a second too late in order to learn to do it on time. Even after an episode, if you’d forgotten to put your hand where the anxiety was manifesting, do it now. Think about how you felt when you were anxious. Practice that next time you’ll place your hand sooner. That’s part of learning any new habit.

    13. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      If I’m in a place where I can use my phone, I either play Sudoku or Tetris. Easy things where I have to concentrate but not CONCENTRATE. They are mindless but do take some thinking. It helps.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Yes! It doesn’t help me with in the moment interactions but I love playing suguru on my phone. It’s very calming.

    14. Jackalope*

      I find it helpful to have a phrase that I repeat to myself while breathing. I’m a Christian so I like to use the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ God’s son, have mercy on me, a sinner.”), but anything about that long can work. I breathe in for the first half of the sentence and then out for the second half. I started practicing it by using it to calm myself down before bedtime, since when I’m trying to go to sleep I’m usually restless, not anxious, and it got me into the habit so that it’s easier to use when I’m feeling anxiety.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I use prayer, too. Especially in the middle of the night where I know I am just getting jittery. I ask God to lift what ever this anxiousness is off of me. Interestingly, a person in my life who is a quasi-believer has tried this and it was the only thing that helped her in some instances.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          Me, too! When I can’t sleep I go through my prayer list very deliberately. Once I really couldn’t sleep and prayed for the whole parish, starting with the family that always sits in the front row.

    15. J.B.*

      Taking a walk outside and breathing in deeply, although maybe one time out out of three do I remember to do that when I’m skizzing out. I had a similar question later on so awesome to see more ideas.

    16. Generic Name*

      I like to do soothing things with my hands. Honestly, the most soothing for me is to rub a specific type of fabric together because I used to rub the edge of my baby blanket when I was a small child. I’ve found jacket lining to be similar, and I find myself rubbing the jacket lining together absentmindedly when I wear certain jackets. But I normally am not wearing that type of fabric all the time, so rubbing a “worry stone” can help. I also like to fiddle with small objects. I have a small twist tie that I play with at my desk. I also read somewhere that stroking your own arms in a petting motion can help soothe you. Rubbing your hands together slowly is a more publicly acceptable version.

    17. MeepMeep*

      I’m not sure how healthy it is, but Internet forums have always been my self-soothing mechanisms of choice. This one is great for that. It is a very good distraction from whatever it is that’s bugging me and a redirection from any negative thoughts.

      I am pretty careful about which forums I pick, though, so that there’s no negativity or angry/fearful content on the forum itself.

    18. I take tea*

      Lots of interesting tips to try out, thank you for this question! Things I do are fiddling with my braid, if I have one. The tightly wound hair feels good to touch and following the weaving strands keeps me focused. A spiky rubber ball (for massage) to roll over my arms is very helpful too, and a much better alternative to the clawing I used to do when I was younger, but it’s not so discreet, of course. Already rubbing something with texture helps. I also tend to sniff my scarves, a habit I’ve had since I was little. Focusing on smelling the fabric makes me calm, I suppose it’s a kind of breathing exercise.

    19. cleo*

      I have a two pronged approach to this – 1, things I do in the moment when I realize I need it and 2, things that I do regularly / good habits that tend to make the rest of my life go better if I follow them. That includes getting enough sleep, eating nourishing, mostly healthy food, taking a morning walk etc.

      In terms of #1, I’ve noticed that it helps me to rotate my self soothing practices pretty regularly. I have a post it note with my current practice on my laptop. Currently I notice one thing with each of my 5 senses. I also like holding onto something. I have a variety of stones on my desk to squeeze when I need them.

      If I know that I’m going to be in a situation where I may forget to take care of myself, I’ll wear a specific bracelet or necklace as a reminder. I particularly like pendants that I can tug on or hold. Different people seem to use different senses to resource themselves. For some people smelling a specific scent can be grounding. I prefer touching something.

      I think that being able to notice that you could have self-soothed in a specific situation is huge! Keep noticing that. And noticing how you felt right before then. And eventually you’ll probably notice that your internal meter is turning towards RED and put your hand on your chest during the stressful situation instead of after.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      If you would like to use regulated breathing in times of need, then practice it in calm moments.
      I love doing the in through the nostrils out through pursed lips exercise right before I go to sleep. I sleep better.

      I like a warm cup of herbal tea.
      But it’s also good to put on an extra sweater or sweatshirt sometimes.

      Depending on my setting sometimes I can start to feel differently by complimenting someone on something they have done. It helps me to think more about others and stop thinking about me and my concerns. And it helps me to remember that there is more to life than My Current Concern.

      If you feel symptoms in your stomach, I’d recommend actually taking something for the stomach ache/pang/pain. Our emotions can become physical and it’s okay to address the physical component of an emotion. For example if a relative is giving us a real (literal) headache, it’s okay to take something for a headache.

      I always say make sure you are eating some whole foods- fruits and veggies. But if that is not doable for some reason, then focus on hydrating. Water helps organs to function. This means water helps a brain to function, also. It’s amazing how even a little dehydration can really make us feel bogged down.

    21. Carcarjabar*

      Having something physical to remind me of the breathing techniques helps. I have the CALM app, which has a breathing timer. I’ve seen bracelets for this purpose, but haven’t used them. And I also have mantras for each of the major things that spike my anxiety. I repeat them OVVVVERR and OVER, in conjunction with the breathing, during am anxious period. If mantras feel weird- just try counting. Anything to get your brain off of the anxious thought.

    22. beach read*

      When I’m in the dentist chair, for instance, I whale watch. Close my eyes and imagine the gentle giants swimming gracefully in the deep blue.

    23. JSPA*

      Not really office-friendly, but at home, I still use one I learned in school. Lie down. Close eyes. Tense and then relax your toes. Tense and then relax feet, ankles and calves. Next, thighs…and so on up to arms, fingers, head.

    24. Princess Deviant*

      These replies are so helpful, thank you so much! Especially the ones about how to help me with in-the-moment-recognising.
      I’m about to have a difficult encounter with someone right now, so I’ll try to put in practice some of the things mentioned here.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Rocking chairs & swings.
        Doing something simple & repetitive like knitting or crocheting something with no pattern change.
        Swimming.
        Walking on the beach even (especially?) if it’s bad weather.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Oops I lost part of my answer. Which is that I find it easier to deal with specific instances if I’ve done things like this for myself in the recent past. And some of them work while on a stressful phone call even.

    25. Bibliovore*

      these days.
      if I am around people, I use the Breaths app on my apple watch.
      If I am in the car, I pull over and cry.
      If I am home- I ask myself if I am in HALT and or pain- sometimes I don’t recognize pain that manifests as anxiety/ panic.
      I cuddle the dog or listen to an alternating sounds CD or watch stupid television or phone a friend or take a hot bath or listen to very loud music.
      Sometimes I just give up and send myself to bed and read ask a manager or the bloggess or grief facebook groups.

  10. Fosspro*

    I live outside the US in a country without zip codes and just closed on buying my first home here. It turns out due to having a pretty common last name and living in a large rural area that I need to ‘name’ my house so it can be identified by the mail service and the rest of humanity in general. The house doesn’t have an address as such right now, just the rural area and county. I have no idea what to call it so am throwing it out to AAM – if you could name your house what would it be and why?! And if it already has a name why that one? I

    ‘ll be stuck with it once I choose it so am overthinking it of course! Downton Abbey here I come…

    1. DistantAudacity*

      …you could name it using the What Three Words address convention?
      The grid is fairly small, so you can get different combos on your property.

        1. newbie*

          I just looked up my house’s three words and LMAO… for being random, they’re really on the nose!

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Nampara.

      It’s the name of Ross and Demelza’s house in the Poldark series, by Winston Graham. I’ve loved those books since I’ve read them and it would nicely reflect my Cornish roots now that I live abroad.

    3. Fall Leaves*

      I love when a house/property gets a name after an identifying plant, design, or geographical feature. Is there a tree or flower you especially like in the garden? Are you going to plant something? Does the stone fence look romantic?
      Can’t wait to hear others’ ideas!

    4. WS*

      What is the indigenous language where you live? Otherwise, a geographical or wildlife feature is good.

    5. Japanese Cooking*

      Recommend using a permanent feature in the name (rocks/hills/landmarks). No sense in naming it the red house if you might repaint later. Or the Magnolia Tree house if the tree might come down later. You could name after something in your garden but a little risky if you don’t intend to keep up the maintenance for the Rose Garden house etc. Could use the build style of house (cottage/cabin/gable): Gabled Hill. Or the purpose: Summer Haven, Winter’s Solace, Artists Retreat. You might be able to surf sites like AirBnB or VRBO for house headlines/names that seem fun. Good luck!!

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Also don’t name it Rose Cottage. This is what staff in uk hospitals use to refer to the morgue when speaking when patients might hear and they want to be sensitive!
        I mean not that you live in the uk (I gather) or would entertain many British medical staff but still. Although if you are a bit of a spooky goth type you might like the secret knowledge!

        1. fposte*

          I have never heard this and this is amazing. And I live in a house with a lot of roses so I love the idea that I’m accidentally preparing.

        2. Chaordic One*

          Being of a certain age (older than dirt) I remember “Rose Cottage” as being the name of the doll house that belonged to the character of Hallie Stokes on the old soap opera, “Dark Shadows.” The doll house was a miniature version of the real Rose Cottage (that was also known as the old McGruger mansion) located on the edge of the Collinwood estate. A suitably morbid name for a doll house or a mansion on Dark Shadows.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I still haven’t forgiven the people in The Yellow House Where I Turn to Get to PT for repainting it a less distinctive color.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My house is named Dunbroch, after the made-up kingdom from Brave, because I am my dad’s Merida and I shot for my own hand. :) I also own dunbroch dot net as a domain for email.

    7. Richard Hershberger*

      I am so envious. I would adore having this opportunity. So let’s go:

      Rivendell. Too over the top? This also excludes
      Orthanc. Much less
      Barad-Dur. OK, how about going obscure:
      Armenelos, which was the capital of Numenor.

      The heck with it: I’m going in a different direction entirely:

      Stately Wayne Manor.

    8. Sloan Kittering*

      I’d probably pick a bird or animal I’ve seen around the house – Three Foxes Cottage, Red Deer House, Killdeer, etc.

    9. fposte*

      In addition to what people are suggesting, try out names for clarity on the phone (since you’ll have to tell people your address sometimes) and tolerability with frequent repetition. So if it’s funny, will it be funny after a hundred repetitions?

      If anybody ever read Marie Killilea’s Karen books, there’s a great moment when they decide to name their house Sursum Corda (meaning Lift Up Your Hearts). And they hear a couple see the sign and say “Oh, the Killileas have moved. I wonder what the Cordas will be like?”

    10. TexasTeacher*

      This is very interesting. I wonder, are there copyright laws that must be followed? Can one select a literary place name to a modern work?

      1. RagingADHD*

        No, copyright does not apply here. It’s not a creative work, it’s a house.

        Perhaps if OP were advertising it internationally as an AirB&B based on the fan appeal of a name, there might be trademark issues but given that OP is in a different country laws will vary and nobody smaller than Disney would be likely to bother. Even then, it would be fine to name the house for postal purposes, just not promote it commercially based on the name and association.

          1. RagingADHD*

            “Wizard school” isn’t intellectual property. “Hogwarts” is.

            It’s not really a matter of length.

            1. fposte*

              Hogwarts isn’t *copyrighted*, though. “Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases,” from copyright dot gov. There are other legal ways to protect intellectual property, such as trademarks. (Then of course there’s the time-honored method of having lawyers write a threatening note regardless of legal grounds.)

              1. RagingADHD*

                Yes, that’s why I said intellectual property. I was referencing back to my point that if someone were to list their home for a vacation rental experience as “Hogwarts” or “The Time Variance Authority” or “The Razor Crest,” there will be lawyers coming for them. Doesn’t matter in the context of this discussion if it’s technically copyright or trademark–it’s a problem.

                But if they just want to live in it, nobody will care. It’s not a problem.

                1. fposte*

                  Copyright and trademark are very different, though, and it is indeed a matter of length for copyright. So I’m not sure where you were going there.

        1. TexasTeacher*

          That’s good to know. As a teacher I’m sometimes surprised at the complexity and scope of what’s restricted by copyright laws.

    11. FashionablyEvil*

      I will say, it’s good to pick something not too weird—a friend had problems with a security clearance check because a foreign relative’s address was basically “Snurp Cottage, Snurp Lane,” and the investigators didn’t believe it was a real place.

      1. Fosspro*

        This plus long-term I anticipate starting my own company for which this will be the registered address. I work in a conservative industry so want to avoid giving my address as Fosspro Inc, Curmudgeon Dungeon…etc

    12. small town*

      How about Longbourne? The Bennet house in Pride and Prejudice. Or Satori, the Buddhist term for sudden enlightenment

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Longbourne would be nice but I’d definitely check the meaning of names or elements of names that describe geographical features; for example bourne means boundary, lea means field or meadow, hurst means a sandbank or wooded rise, and there’s a city in California (I think) called valleyvalley (Glendale). I mean you might not care if the name matches the geography but it would annoy me to live in a house called Sandbrook if it was built on clay with no stream in sight, or Toadstool Copse if there were no trees anywhere nearby.

    13. Purple Cat*

      That’s such a cool/weird opportunity!
      I agree with the feedback on geographical/animal features of the area. Or, I would try to personalize it to me. Maybe incorporate birthstones or birth flowers into the name. I’m born in August, so the Peridot House.
      I think I would stay away from fantasy/literary names just because it might start to become awkward in actual conversation and when you have to give your house name for professional purposes.
      Q: Where do you live?
      A: Rivendell

    14. BlueWolf*

      I agree with the idea of picking some sort of distinctive feature of the house or geographical area. I’ve thought about naming our house just for fun. Ours is a pretty distinctive blue color so I thought of something playing off of that or something to do with the local wildlife we see around often.

    15. Chaordic One*

      A friend (who has since passed away) had a charming comfortable house that always reminded me of being inside of a comfortable little rabbit den. My friend was known by his middle name and never used his first name, which was “Howard”. His house was known as “Howard’s Hollow.”

    16. *daha**

      Use my favorite phrase of all time from Saturday Night Live:

      PAINFUL RECTAL ITCH

      (With a name like that, it’s got to be good!)

    17. Nessun*

      My grandparents owned a house named Silverknowe (a knowe is a hill or crest of land, sort of). If I had a house, that’s what I’d go with, in a heartbeat. I loved that their house was named, and I was saddened when it was sold after they passed.

    18. *daha**

      Here’s a more serious response than my previous one. Famous-last-name + Folly or Landing or Crossing.
      Hitchcock’s Folly
      Lafayette’s Landing
      Taft’s Crossing
      Smirnoff’s Folly
      Bluebeard’s Landing
      Hemingway’s Crossing
      Clapton’s Folly
      Lipton’s Landing
      Pompidou’s Crossing

      Plus you get to make up a story about how it got its name.

    19. Not So NewReader*

      I’d go with something that makes sense to the people around you. I live in an old school house and people know that. So I could do “The schoolhouse on X Road”.

    20. SlinkoBeast*

      Sorry if someone has already said this. You might want to avoid literary and other cultural references; it’s possible someone else has already named their house that, and your mail might get misdirected.

    21. chi chan*

      Give it your last name plus house/cottage. Smith Cottage. Or choose a name that people can recognize it by like Redroof House.

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Out of pure curiosity, if an existing house sells, do the new owners choose a new name? Are they supposed to keep the old name? If they choose a new name, do the neighbors keep using the old name any way? LOL

  11. InMyBones*

    Is anyone else’s computer prone to blocking captive portals? Captive portals are when you sign onto a public Wifi network and the computer says it’s connected but you need to enter additional information in a browser to have access. Usually a fresh browser pops up or you type a site into a browser and it re-directs to the portal

    My work laptop often doesn’t allow the portal to come up- I would say it appears maybe 20% of the time. This is primarily a problem because the bus line I use has it and I sometimes have 2 hour commutes where I need to work during.

    Does anyone know if there are tricks around how to get the portal to show up? I’m pretty sure it’s something with my VPN (the portal isn’t totally blocked because it does appear sometimes) so my IT team doesn’t seem to care about solving this. I can also just get a hotspot (I can’t use my phone as a personal hotspot) but I want to try this first.

    1. KR*

      I think it’s an issue with your VPN as well – I had the same issue with my work PC and hotel Wifi. Something that helped for me was looking at the Wifi IP address and navigating to what I guessed was the router IP address, and that sometimes forced the login page. Or going to Google or other random pages until my computer figured out it needed to allow the login screen to come up. At a hotel wifi, I sometimes called the hotels help desk and they would give me the correct address to type to force it to come up. Honestly phone wifi just worked the best for me, so I think a hotspot might be the best longterm solution. More secure too.

    2. WS*

      My local hospital has one of these and I spend a few hours there every few months for an infusion, so I have had this problem! I usually just refresh the browser over and over until it suddenly finds the right page and goes to the portal.

      1. Girasol*

        My experience too. Just poke it a dozen times and on one random try, poof, there it is. It’s kind of like stroking a cat until all of a sudden the claws come out for no apparent reason.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      This happens with my work laptop because of the VPN. To get around it at hotels I have to call the hotel’s tech support and be given a something-or-other so I can bypass that login portal entirely. It’s a huge pain. So a hotspot is almost certainly the answer.

    4. Sloan Kittering*

      I have had this in hotels, and the only solution I’ve found is to know the address it’s trying to manually redirect you to (often you can guess it, like it starts with the hotel chain’s name – or ask someone who’s got it) and then proceed to log in. I’m assuming it’s a security thing , something about blocking pop-ups/redirects, that could be deactivated if I was more tech-y but I’m not.

    5. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Try sending your computer to the address 1.1.1.1 after joining the network. For many routers, that will aim you directly at the captive portal page, and work around many issues with your device not allowing the router to redirect your internet traffic.

    6. Katefish*

      You probably already know this, but I didn’t until this year so throwing it out there – make sure you uncheck the “Connect automatically” box on the internet itself when dealing with this issue. I consistently had problems until my spouse showed me this for web pages with a secondary login. (Do this before VPN, obviously.)

    7. Observer*

      I’m pretty sure it’s something with my VPN (the portal isn’t totally blocked because it does appear sometimes) so my IT team doesn’t seem to care about solving this

      I would be confident that they are never going to fix this problem for you. Most IT folks who have a decent grounding in security HATE public wifi. Even with a VPN they just add a real layer of risk. So even if they are not banning you from using it, they are not going to spend a lot of time trying to make it work. A personal hotspot is MUCH safer.

    8. David*

      It’s hard to say based on what you posted here. E.g. what do you mean by “doesn’t allow the portal to come up”? I can make a couple guesses about what might be happening but it’s hard to tell without having some more detail about what you actually see when you try to access the portal.

      Here’s my best guess, though still just a guess: if the first thing you do after connecting to wifi is try to load up whatever website you wanted to visit, it might be a feature called HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) that’s blocking you from loading the portal. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but if not: HSTS basically means your browser will refuse to load certain websites without first verifying that it’s the right web server on the other end of the connection. And if you’re trying to use a network with a captive portal, then of course it won’t be the right web server on the other end, it will be the captive portal server instead, so the browser will detect the discrepancy and refuse to load the page. (Mini-rant: this is why captive portals are the worst. You’re presented with a situation where one web server is pretending to be another one and you’re supposed to just roll with it rather than doing the normal thing which is to treat it as though someone’s trying to hack your connection.) Anyway, HSTS is something that can be enabled or disabled for different sites individually, so if this is the problem, you can solve it by pointing your browser to a site that is guaranteed not to have it enabled, like neverssl.com, or captive.apple.com, or Google’s or Microsoft’s equivalents, or 1.1.1.1 as Cthulhu’s Librarian suggested, or so on. When you go to one of these sites, the browser will not try to verify the connection so when the captive portal server intercepts the request and sends your browser the portal page, it will hopefully get displayed. Best to make sure your VPN is turned off while you’re doing this, as well.

    9. I don’t post often*

      Someone above mentioned this, but look at item 2 on this website. https://zapier.com/blog/open-wifi-login-page/ Or Google “force computer to open wifi network” There is a series of numbers you can enter into the web browser to make the page to log in appear.
      Unless your VPN works differently, it’s not your VPN. I have to have the internet connection before I can log onto VPN.

  12. Tuesday*

    Daylight savings time is ending soon – oh no! Lately I feel like I never want summer to end. What do you do to make the darker, colder months brighter and more enjoyable?

    1. KR*

      Honestly, I hide inside and sleep a lot. Try to soak up as much sunshine as possible during the day. I hate when the days are shorter, my seasonal depression kicks my hind end. Watching this thread for ideas.

      1. AGD*

        This.

        I take vitamin D, use a sun-lamp, try to get enough exercise, and use the dark hours to play lots of computer games. But mainly it comes down to being ridiculously patient with myself and reminding myself of how good I feel in June. Next June is worth waiting for, basically.

        I honestly keep wondering whether I should just try to move to California, in spite of the number of natural disasters.

    2. Lizzie (with a deaf cat)*

      Full spectrum lightbulbs, take vitamin d, bring out the strong coloured throws and scarves etc, especially deep red and orange ones.

    3. allathian*

      I live at 60 N, so from November to January it’s dark when I go to the office/start working and dark when I leave/stop working. I have a sunrise alarm to wake me up, and a bright light to help with my SAD. I try to go out for a walk during lunch to get some daylight.

      I’m a homebody, though, so hygge is definitely for me.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        When I was growing up back in Siberia, it was dark like that all winter long – sunrise at 9am, sunset at 4pm.
        We had a UV light that everyone (especially the kids) had to sit in front for at least half on hour per week.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      SAD has hit me like a ton of bricks recently (oh UK gets dark quick) and I can’t use those lamps because they give me migraines.

      However: I’ve sorted out all my Xmas sewing projects and started a few (some take months), I’ve reinstalled some old favourite games onto my PC that are good for nostalgia (well hello there original Mass Effect and Dragon Age Origins and Titan Quest and Diablo 2 and Fallout New Vegas and….).

      Cups of tea.

      1. The Dogman*

        Have you tried the sun tone lamps not the UV purple ones?

        I am in the UK too, and my house glows all winter nowadays, I have bought some multifunction B&Q DIAll bulbs that have sun/moon/colour changing modes, and I find they made a big difference for me. The come with a remote control, have 10 light modes (including music reaction colour changing function!) and are about £20 for 3 with a remote. They are standard screw in style ones but I think that had bayonet style ones too.

        Another thing a friend of mine found good was the light focusing glasses, no good for me as I have prescription glasses but if you don’t they might be good for you? They are weird to look at, but have plastic coloured bits that focus more light into your eyes than you can normally get in winter.

        Also get a good multivitamin, extra vitamin D possibly if your MV is a low D dose, and try to get out for a walk in a park each day during the daylight hours (easier said than done I know for office and retail workers)

        Good luck, hope this winter is brighter for you!

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Yes, a lunchtime walk is my main solution. I used to skip lunch in order to make this possible! At a previous job I pretended I was a smoker in order to get outside at lunch.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            Oh, and on weekends – taking up an outdoors winter sport. I did snowshoeing, but cross-country skiing is also pretty gentle; if you’re a go-getter there’s more options like snowboarding etc. Even dogsledding, where I live! Give yourself a reason to look forward to winter and again, get outside in the morning/afternoons.

            1. The Dogman*

              Sadly winter sports round my way are mostly just pits of mud and pouring cold rain…

              Not as fun as snowshoeing or snowboarding, def not as glamorous!

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Due to disability I’m kinda stuck inside (I can walk about 20 metres aided before the pain kicks in, mostly I drive everywhere), and my eyes are incredibly sensitive to light. I’ve tried different ‘Sun’ type lighting but it seems anything toward the blue end of the spectrum just means hello migraine. Have the same problem with flourescent lighting.

          Having said that, the vitamin thing is worth looking into, and light filters is a really unique idea! Thank you.

          1. The Dogman*

            I am sensitive to blue toned light too, the bulbs I was on about don’t have that harsh colour temperature, they are golden yellow mostly, with the bright mode being a clean white not a blue white. They do have a “blue” mode, but it is a solid deep blue colour, not the washed out blue tone of a lot of LEDS, that can be a part of the colour cycle of red/orange/yellow/green/blue/purple. And that colour is not in the bright white, golden and soft yellow modes.

            I think they come in pack of one, might be worth a tenner to see if it helps you at all?

            If money is tight I would be happy to send you one, not sure on the rules about posting email addressess here though so I will check with Alison first!

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              No worries mate, but thanks for the offer. The home system is on Hive (yeah I know the bulbs cost a bomb but being able to control them from my bed is a disability lifesaver!) but my sibling works for a firm that can get them cheaper for me – and I think they do a yellow toned one. Checking it out :)

              1. The Dogman*

                No worries, all the best!

                Just so you know the ones I have are also remote controlled! Old fashioned remote not smartphone/home though!

                Have a good week!

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m curious to see how it will hit me this year (usually it’s like a ton of bricks) because for the first time ever I will be working from home and can take advantage of having a midday walk in natural outdoor light instead of being trapped in an interior office from dawn until dusk.
      I’m hoping that will make a difference.

      1. Jay*

        Getting outside during the day has helped me immensely. After three years I finally realized that’s one of the reasons I prefer my current job (doing home visits) to working in an office – I always get outside when it’s light out.

      2. Venus*

        It helped a lot for me last winter. I went for a walk on my afternoon coffee break during the warmest and sunniest part of the day, rather than walking to and from work in half darkness.

    6. Ranon*

      Sunrise alarm clock, 15 minutes outside at noon everyday, programmable LED lighting that does blue white in the mornings and warm white in the evenings, vitamin D, putting up the Christmas lights and leaving them up, properly warm clothes and layers, heated mattress pad, cozy blankets.

      First year living north in a while so also hoping we get enough snow for all the snow sports, sledding and snow shoeing and whatnot. Leaning into winter holidays and festivals.

      And then February is for hibernation, and by then you’re well past the winter solstice

    7. fposte*

      I added a second sunrise alarm clock so there’s one in the living room as well as the bedroom–I don’t go into a dark room after I get up. I turn it on as a light sometimes as well during the evenings, too. And yes, I very much try to go for a walk and get what sunlight there is.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I have seriously heard good things about UV light hats (wear around the house for an hour in the morning as you’re getting ready) if you’re someone who gets dragged down by the endless dark.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Look for hygge ideas that comfort you – candles, string lights inside and out, cozy decor, fancy tea/cocoa flavors, etc. I do get worn down by the darkness before winter is over but I love decorating for Christmas and that gets me through a lot of it. Projects that make it enjoyable/relaxing to be indoors in the evening are also helpful – for me I do a lot of embroidery.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I have found that I love winter decorations: greenery, wreaths, candles (not together — a treasured childhood memory is the year the advent wreath combusted). This is somewhat surprising as I’m not religious and not particularly festive, but it’s lovely to have wintry scents and I get some satisfaction out of caring for my living space.

        I also highly recommend force-bloomed bulbs e.g. paperwhites, amaryllis, etc. It’s a lovely way to get “garden therapy” when other plants are dormant. Actually, might order some now.

    10. UKDancer*

      I exercise because the endorphins help, whether that’s a brisk walk, an exercise class in person, or a zoom dance class. I feel better and brighter when I’m doing something. Then I usually have a relaxing and luxurious bath and a pamper.

      Then when it gets cold I get my cross stitch out and sew while listening to audiobooks. Usually something like an Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh. I need something that’s got enough narrative to occupy some of my mind but not so much that it stops me from sewing correctly.

      I go out to the theatre or the ballet and enjoy a meal out. Evenings don’t feel oppressive when I’m out doing something. I went to a classical concert last weekend (first one since Covid) and it was glorious sitting and listening to Beethoven wash over me after eating really good Pad Thai. Then I came back and had a nice cup of tea.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      I live on n the south and I very much want for the summer to end, lol. I want my A/C bills to go back to reasonable. Our colder months are not really cold usually, so I don’t really do anything different, besides cooking “winter” foods like stews, soups, and roasted stuff – I never use the oven during summer.

    12. Exif*

      Enjoy the quiet. Summer is full of constant lawnmowers and untrained dogs barking. Whenever the dark and cold starts to bug me, I close my eyes and revel in the lack of noise.

    13. the cat's ass*

      I’m def in the minority here, but driving to work in the pitch black at 5 am with recent rain on top of lots of road construction has made my previously peaceful commute in the morning into the 3rd ring of hell. I can’t wait to be driving at sunrise! Once we get into winter, I also go out and sit in the sun/exercise at lunchtime, use full-spectrum lights indoors and bump up my Vitamin D, B complex and biotin. And realize the cycle is just that, a cycle.

      1. Yay Standard Time!*

        Whooo boy me too. I live on the western edge of a time zone, so it takes forever to get light in the AM and dark in the PM. Makes it so much harder to get started. It’s also very rainy here, so on rainy days it will just be bleh and cloudy until, like, 9 pm. So disenheartening!

        Very much looking forward to the return of timely sunrises and early dusk/darkness, when I can turn on all my string lights and feel cozy and warm.

    14. GoryDetails*

      I try to get out and about during what daylight there is. But for indoors, I set up my Aerogarden with a variety of lettuce; the light on the bright green leaves is cheery all by itself, and there’s the added benefit of nice fresh lettuce whenever I want some. (One can grow flowers in the units as well, though I haven’t tried that; not sure how long they’ll bloom.)

    15. Aphrodite*

      Honestly, I love the colder darker months. (I have the same seasonal depression you do but it kicks in during the summer. I hate summer beyond description and am less than crazy about spring though I don’t hate it.) I love the cold, the shorter days and longer nights because I love lights, no mosquitoes, cuddling under a blanket on the sofa while I read (reading is a much beloved fall/winter activity), hot milk, and more. I love the sound of rain, the cats preference for sleeping on me at night. Every darn thing about cold and dark I love.

      I certainly would not want to live in it more than, say, five months of the year, but I wish we had that much. I come ALIVE in the colder, darker months. I am a frenzy of activity, the way many people get in summer but summer makes me feel awful, lethargic, miserable.

  13. Fall Leaves*

    If you had a smallish wedding, I need your help! How did you decide whom to include from the close-ish but not that close friends? Did your friendship/relationship change with those you invited and those you didn’t?
    We’re pretty clueless about weddings with my partner and right now we’re trying to navigate preparing the guest list. It’s fun and we’re super excited :) but it’s also stressful!
    (We’re around 50 ppl, about 30 are close family.)

    1. Invisible Fish*

      Only pick people you really, really want to see that day. That’s it. Don’t think about it past that. It’s about you and your partner, so Mari Kondo that guest list to your heart’s content. My relationships with ppl before and after my wedding stayed the same.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        This year there’s definitely less expectations than ever. I would never feel bad about not making the guest list given the current state of the world.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I had a small wedding 30 years ago. Seconding “Don’t think about it past that.” This is not going to be the make or break thing in any friendships.

    2. allathian*

      I had a tiny wedding with just our immediate families present, with my sister and his sister as our witnesses, so for us this issue didn’t come up.

      I do know, though, that when a college friend I’d considered a close friend didn’t invite me to her wedding, it made me rethink our friendship. I realized that I’d valued her friendship more than she valued mine. We still get along, because we’re a part of a larger friend group, but I never hang out with her 1:1, unless we’re all going out somewhere together, and we happen to be the first ones there. I don’t invite her to the events I host and she doesn’t invite me to her events, but we can enjoy talking to each other when we’re visiting mutual friends.

      So it’s good to be prepared in case some of your friends are disappointed that they don’t get an invitation, but I wouldn’t stress over it, either. Don’t be a hostage to anyone else’s expectations, just invite the people you genuinely want to see you get married.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Huh – you mean you didn’t invite her to your wedding, but were this upset that she didn’t invite you to hers? Or maybe hers was first?

        1. twocents*

          I think allathian was saying that (1) her wedding was literally immediate family and Friend’s was not, and (2) that not being invited made her take a step back and see that Friend was actually not that close after all. As in, they don’t even hang out 1:1.

          I didn’t read it as allathian having some newfound deep grudge. Just perspective.

          1. allathian*

            Yup, you got it. I guess I should’ve specified that my college friend got married in 1998, I got married in 2009. We still see each other whenever our friend group gets together, and exchange Christmas cards. There’s no animosity between us, it’s just that we’re not particularly close.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Had a small wedding in the in-laws back garden! Basically the guest list was on the ‘people I either speak to regularly or really wish I could’ basis.

      I also didn’t invite any children so there was fallout from that (I didn’t mind people refusing the invite because they couldn’t bring their baby, but a few people got…a bit irate over the whole concept of no kids and I don’t speak to those people anymore)

      Whole thing was videoed by a professional company and the family/friends who couldn’t come or weren’t invited due to the small space generally loved to watch the vid after! It was a more ‘highlights’ video than a complete session, complete with the sight of me in my dress trying to get into the driver’s seat of my old Ford :)

      1. allathian*

        It always puzzles me when I hear about guests trying to dictate how other people should host and who they should invite. I’ve turned down invitations to childfree events before, when my son was a baby, and it was fine. When he was a bit older, and his grandparents were more than willing to babysit, I was very happy to attend childfree events occasionally.

        The host gets to decide what kind of event they’re hosting, and the guest gets to decide whether or not to accept the invitation on the host’s terms, and that’s it. I have no patience with guests who try to negotiate terms, like bring a kid to a childfree event, or worse, to show up with a kid in tow and some spurious excuse about not finding a babysitter in time or the babysitter canceling at the last minute (if that happens, you send your apologies and don’t attend the event). I also have no patience with hosts who set detailed terms about what their guests are expected to wear (style and colors to fit a theme), and then take umbrage when the guest declines the invitation.

        Dress codes are fine, and even recommended for more formal events, but unflattering dresses for the bridesmaids aren’t, and certainly not if the bridesmaids are expected to pay for them; and don’t get me started on body alterations, like expecting bridesmaids to lose weight before the wedding, or to cover up their tattoos. No, no, no!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Yeah, it was quite a stressful time for a while managing the ‘how dare you, my baby can legally go anywhere I go’ and the ‘weddings are about making children!’ complaining but it stopped a few years after the actual event. The funniest ones were the ‘your marriage won’t last if you deny your husband children’ complaints – I’ve been married 16+ years now and all the people who complained have divorced…

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had 14 people at my wedding including us. Our wedding was across the country from where we lived. Nobody that we didn’t invite was upset about it to my knowledge, a couple people that we did invite couldn’t make it, and there are a few people in my wedding picture that, given my druthers now, wouldn’t be there. (But it’s fine, I don’t ever look at them anyway and I’m way more irked by the giant cold sore on my face in them. :P )

    5. Old and married*

      We invited about 20 friends, and we picked them based on a few criteria:

      1. Each of us invited our oldest friend that we’re still in regular touch with. There is something immensely valuable in having someone who’s travelled with you through your life history at big moments, if you’re lucky enough to have that person in your life.

      2. We invited the people we thought would most enjoy celebrating with us and with whom we would most enjoy celebrating. That was it. It’s a party! So we planned it like a party.

      Now 15 years later we are still close with some of the people at our wedding and not so much with others, and that’s fine. We’re closer with some people who weren’t invited now, too. I don’t think we damaged any relationships by not inviting people. The wedding guest list reflects one moment in our lives, it’s not supposed to be like a friendship sign-up sheet for the rest of our days :)

    6. Janet Pinkerton*

      We invited 19 total—I had five friends plus one’s partner, and my wife had two friends plus their partners and one kid. This was about five years ago, for context. We included zero “should”s as invitees—everyone we invited we wanted to be there. Our threshold was “I can’t get married if ___ isn’t there”which made it easy. (My friend’s partner was kind of new, so I was a little skeptical about it, and he felt more like a plus one than a “of course we invite _____”. As it turns out we just went to their wedding last weekend so it’s clear he stuck around.) But honestly even if he hadn’t, I have a pretty firm personal rule about inviting your friends’ partners to weddings. It’s weird to invite someone to celebrate your love but not let them bring their own partner. (But also notably I didn’t invite my brother’s girlfriend of two years or my sister’s boyfriend of four years, and now one pair is married and the other owns a house together. And weirdly I feel totally fine about that decision in contrast. I think because my family had my family there.)

      And no relationships changed. But we invited 11 non-family members and that might be an easier cutoff than 20. And I’m lucky that all of our attendees are people we’re still in regular touch with. That was important to me; I greatly dislike when someone’s wedding is the last time I see them. But that doesn’t have to be important to you!

    7. Wrench Turner*

      I think we had maybe 20 people total for our DIY wedding. It was only people we really wanted to celebrate with us and knew we could make it. It was small, super chill and 10 years later people still tell us it was one of the best weddings they’ve ever been to (thankyouverymuch). We told everyone from the beginning that it’s just going to be a small, casual affair with a handful of people, and that’s all there was to it. People that might fuss or complain about not getting invited don’t deserve to be there anyway. It’s YOUR celebration. Do whatever makes you happy. The only relationship that DID change was 1 guest that just didn’t show and never said anything about it, because we would have invited someone else who would have enjoyed being there. Congratulations!

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Accept in your heart that (1) some people who aren’t invited will take it too personally and feel bad; (2) some people who are invited aren’t actually as close to you as you think they are; and (3) some 10% or 20% of the people you do invite will have to decline anyway due to schedule conflicts, so keep a few parties in your “maybe invite” list so that you can add them to take these spots.

      Can’t please everybody at your wedding, so best to focus on yourself and your partner.

    9. JustEm*

      My wedding was slightly bigger (ended up with 75 people, but the vast majority were family), but there are couple of friends I cut from the list and four years later I still regret it. They were friends from college who I really liked and would like to be close to again in the future, but had not talked to in awhile since we’d moved to different cities. I got too overzealous cutting the list and I really wish I hadn’t.

    10. mreasy*

      We solved this by having only about 15 people (close family) at the actual ceremony and dinner, then having a lot more people (somewhere in the 200s) to the reception, which was more casual and WAY less expensive per person. Not an option for everyone but it was a huge relief when we came up with the plan.

    11. Purple Cat*

      We had 60 people at our wedding. We both have small families, and small social circles and REALLY didn’t want a big production.
      Make a list of people you want to be there for yourself, and then make a list of the people you think should be there for your future spouse and then compare/contrast the lists and “justify” the differences to each other. Whatever you do, do NOT ask your parents for their lists because all of a sudden you’ll be inviting your Great-Uncle Bob who nobody has talked to in 20 years, but he’s faaaamily and just your luck, he’ll show up.

    12. Cheezmouser*

      We asked ourselves, “Would we be disappointed if they didn’t invite us to THEIR wedding?” If yes, then we invite them. If no, then we skipped.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      We had 5 guests at our church wedding (no flowers, no music – just 15 minutes at the church). Sounds crazy now! We had our parents and 2 witnesses – a brother and his girlfriend. My other siblings weren’t there. If they had any interest in coming, they certainly didn’t say anything. Timing and planning were very tight. It was our senior year in college, interviewing for jobs that would move us to anywhere in the U.S. No one we knew indicated they were offended they weren’t invited. Maybe they assumed it was a shotgun wedding – it wasn’t!
      I’d recommend, if possible, a tiny wedding with a big reception held on another day. I think you’d enjoy both events more.
      Congrats!

      1. Might Be Spam*

        A delayed reception seems to be more popular these days. A couple of my neices and my daughter all had small weddings and larger receptions a week or so later. It seems so much less stressful.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I think we had about 40 people. We chose them by their activity in our current daily life. The people we were interacting with regularly got invited- some of them that is. And we let it be known that we could only afford a small wedding. I know some were relieved to NOT make the trip.

    15. I'm the one*

      It’s best if you invite a whole class of people — so if you are having one aunt and uncle, invite all of the aunts and uncles, etc.
      We had a smallish wedding, with the ceremony in the backyard and an open house reception. The open house reception meant that many more people could be invited to the reception, which went from around 2-5. The house wasn’t that large, but few people stayed for the whole time.
      My mother had about 40 first cousins, plus spouses – so we didn’t invite any of them. It was too hard to just invite the ones she was closest to. And we didn’t invite any of the great aunts and uncles. One great aunt called my mother up and said she was coming, and we just looked the other way.
      Since none of the cousins of my mother’s generation were invited, she could just tell everyone that the wedding was very small, and that we were only inviting her brother and my father’s brother. That helped limit the hurt feelings.

      1. allathian*

        I think it really depends, you don’t have to invite the whole class of people. Just because you don’t want to invite the cousin who used to beat you up as a kid and who you’re NC with doesn’t mean you can’t invite the cousin who’s more like a sister, even if they’re siblings. But that’s obviously an extreme case, if you’re on neutral terms with people, it’s best to invite, or not invite, a whole class of people.

  14. Japanese Cooking*

    Long shot but… any fans of Japanese cooking here? I’ve been trying to recreate a few recipes from my visit to Okinawa.
    – CoCo’s curry
    – Taco Rice
    – Curry noodles

    Will share the closest I’ve come on the taco rice in the comments (it’s all about the red sauce!)

    1. Japanese Cooking*

      Taco Rice

      This is the closest I’ve come so far. The taco meat ends up sweeter and saucier than it was in Okinawa but you do get what feels like a closer mix of Tex-Mex and Japanese flavors.

      Taco rice
      1 tsp Vegetable oil
      1 tsp garlic paste
      1 cup White onion
      1 lb ground beef
      1 packet taco seasoning
      2 tbsp mirin
      1 tbsp soy sauce
      2 tbsp worcestershire
      2 tbsp Tomato ketchup
      1/2 tsp sriracha

      Secret Res Sauce
      4 tbsp ketchup
      1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
      1 tbsp sriracha

    2. Meh*

      Adam Liaw on YouTube has a recipe for Taco Rice.

      Coco like the restaurant? I don’t remember their curry being spectacular. But I’ve never been to Okinawa, only “mainland” Japan, and their food and cooking styles are really different and more of a fusion. My (Japanese) family is boring and we just use box curry mix – S&B.

      Have you searched any Japanese/Okinawan cooking blogs? They are helpful for my when I’m trying to recreate something. It is a struggle to determine the actual Japanese name and not the made up English words to describe it, like gooey rice :/

      1. Japanese Cooking*

        Adam Lisa’s recipe sadly tastes nothing like real taco rice. It’s like getting lemon flavored water when you’re after lemonade.

        I’ve searched dozens of sites and comments sections and have improved the taste but am still chasing the elusive flavors. I had started researching Japanese blogs in Japanese that I then back translated to English but I have a toddler so that got exhausting fast lol.

        For curry yes we loved Coco’s curry. I’ve used S&B but there’s another depth of flavor and heat I’m chasing. The adventure continues!

        1. newbie*

          I gave up on taco rice and decided that its appeal has less to do with any recipe and more an association with good times, being outdoors and fairly hammered at 3AM.

    3. Semi-Anon*

      Honestly, for the curry you buy curry blocks in the grocery store. Coco uses a base sauce and mixes in a chili sauce to get the different heat levels (I’ve had some poorly mixed extra spicy ones), but the grocery store ones come in different levels of heat. At home we usually do it as a stew, with pork, carrots, onions and potatoes. One of the simplest Coco versions to do at home would be the hamburger patty one, maybe with a bit of spinach and mushrooms mixed in the sauce. Buy some roasted sesame dressing while you’re at it for the side salad. I have a Japanese former colleague who wants to go to Coco when he visits Taiwan, because he says it’s much better than the Japanese ones.

      Just One Cookbook is a good Japanese cooking blog that I’ve gotten many recipes from – I think she’s got all of the above.

      My taco rice is really simple – ground meat, sauteed, add taco seasoning (I make my own, because I can’t get the premixed stuff), then steamed rice, plus diced tomato, lettuce, onion, cheap grated cheese and Doritos.

      FWIW, I’m not Japanese but my husband is, and he’s the one who makes the curry. I do the taco rice, and he likes it.

      The best recipe I brought back from Okinawa was their braised pork belly. Thick slices of pork belly (no bone), braised in soy sauce, dashi, sake (or awamori if you’re being authentic and can get it) with green onions and ginger. I do it overnight in the slow cooker, cool, fish out the pork belly and finish it in a hot pan with some of the cooking liquid, then serve over steamed rice. I like to serve it with bitter melon shiraae (a cold vegetable dish with a tofu-sesame topping, recipe from the website above.), and cold steamed spinach with sesame dressing.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yum.
      We’ve been making our own sushi for almost 20 years so we could have it in a lower salt formula. (We use veg & cooked/smoked fillings to avoid the raw-fish safety issue.) And one of the first things I learned to make when I was a kid was chicken teriyaki. I’m so glad that fresh ginger is easier to find than it used to be. I look forward to your recipes.

    5. newbie*

      Fellow lover of all Okinawan (and Okinawan-American) foods!
      Kenji/Serious Eats’ Ome-Raisu is dead on, as is his beef donburi.

    6. Book the Ninth*

      For curry, I recommend googling “Kotaku” “Japanese curry”. A features editor there posted an article on jazzing up curry bricks for it to be closer to the Japanese restaurant curries. I’ve used it on both Golden Curry and Vermont curry bricks and both have turned out well. My only advice is go in with the cheese with a light hand.

    7. Holly the spa pro*

      My husband has gotten super into Japanese recipes lately. My favorite is his gyudon but he makes a mean tonkatsu as well. We haven’t been to Japan but i hope we can go someday and compare beef bowls lol.

    8. Mameshiba*

      Okinawan soba is amazing, as is the pork belly, and sea grapes!
      I use cookpad for finding Japanese recipes.

  15. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    RPG fans! (Pen and paper/electronic doesn’t matter) Can anyone recommend any Solo RPGs – basically they’re like creative writing prompts? I’ve played Thousand Year Vampire and absolutely loved it.

    (My current depression means my D&D/tech support mashup I’m DM’ing is on hold)

    1. The Dogman*

      I used to play a lot of Space Hulk (Games Workshop 40K setting) that had a single player mode.

      More using models than pure RPGs but I found it pretty entertaining to play alone when no mates were available.

      Or perhaps an online RPG? Like the Star Wars KoToR or Star Trek Online etc?

      Personally I found walking (especially with dogs) to help massively with depression, perhaps that might help you too if you can do it?

      Good luck with entertaining yourself, and I hope you feel better soon!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Oh I didn’t know any GW stuff had a single player mode! That’s worth looking into :) sadly I’m disabled so going for a walk isn’t feasible. May drag a bit of string for the cat and pretend he’s a rogue making dex rolls :p

        1. The Dogman*

          They do with Space Hulk, but it is not cheap, if you have any old school gamer friends who can lend a mark 1 set that would be the best option.

          I think all the old rules books are available as PDFs lurking on the internet and with some creativity and pens you could recreate the mark 1 Space Hulk at home. It was not a super complex game, basically a 1-4 player DnD style board game set in ruined spacehulks infested with Daemons, Genestealers, various corrupted Adeptus Astartes and regular humans, Dark Eldar and of course, as always with GW, Orks!

          The cat plan sounds fun… Do an after action write up on it too in the style of a DnD Campaign maybe? Then post it here!!!

          Also there is an online RPG gaming systems a friend is into, I forget the name but it is basically a tabletop games emulator, so you can play all sorts of TT games online with friends or strangers. It lets everyone use the same online dice roll generator, has battle map options and voice chat too. If you do some google-fu you will find it!

          1. Loredena Frisealach*

            Roll20? That’s what my group uses, though we use Discord for voice. There’s also D&D Beyond

          2. Aealias*

            We’ve been using Owlbear Rodeo for small-party online dnd. It provides battle maps and dice rolls (although I don’t think voice chat?) and only requires a browser. No sign-ups, logins or accounts. The trade-off for being so lightweight is that it’s pretty basic to-date.

          3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Reworking my cat into a barbarian because he went full Berserk for an hour last night and caused 2D10 damage to my leg and a D100 to the surrounding area…

            1. The Dogman*

              Lol, that sounds pretty normal for a cat… but surely it’s some kind of Daemon more than a Barbarian?

    2. Twisted Lion*

      Dragon Age is always my favorite. I did just finish Yakuza Like a Dragon which is kind of RPG light. But I really enjoyed it. There are 6 other Yakuza games on game pass as well as that one.

    3. Nicki Name*

      Would a gamebook (basically Choose Your Own Adventure but with some dice rolling in addition to decision-making) be too structured? If not, I can recommend a bunch of those.

    4. Software Dev*

      The D&D solo modules from DMs guild are pretty good! I played the first one and thoroughly enjoyed it, though it is a bit more like a gamebook than like Thousand Year Vampire, which is kind of its own thing.

      I just bought Five Parsecs from Home, which is solo wargaming so might be too gamey for you, but I am throwing it out there.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed a number of solo RPG modules back in the day – most of my favorites were from “Call of Cthulhu”. Can’t recall specifics at this point, alas.

      I have come across some entertaining choose-your-own-path books recently, including:

      INTO THE DUNGEON by Hari Connor, which uses character stats in addition to the choose-the-path mechanics; it’s relatively simple but nicely done, with some varied and interesting options. [Side note: you can’t “win” all the paths with a single character unless you max out all the stats on purpose; this adds to the replay benefits, but can be frustrating if you get to a tricky spot and find out you don’t have the key stat needed to progress.]

      James Schannep has a great series of choose-your-own-path books, themed on pirates, superheroes, zombie apocalypse survival, and more. I don’t think he’s done a D&D-type one (yet), but the ones I’ve tried are fun. These aren’t stats-and-die-rolling based, though.

      There’s a fun graphic-novel series called “Knights Club” in which the choices are all via numbers in the graphic-novel panels, with some options requiring dice-rolling for combat; there are also puzzles to solve. Aimed at middle-grade readers, but I found them quite enjoyable. (And sometimes very sneaky; there might be an option that has a teensy, hard-to-see number in a single panel in the entire book…) Oh, and there’s a magic/steampunk entry too, IRON MAGICIANS.

    6. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I’ve often used random plot/ecnounter/dungeon generators as a way of generating ways to do solo RPG playing. It does require that I run a whole party of characters (since most systems are built around the idea of a group playing).

      donjon used to be one of my favorite dungeon generators – these days, they also have a random campaign generator for a longer story, as well.

      Also, I sometimes would use a recorded play through of one of my MtG decks and turn that into a story also.

      I’ve heard good things about One Day at a Thyme, Ironsworn, Alone Among The Stars, and Expedition, though never had a chance to play any of them.

    7. Loredena Frisealach*

      I return to Skyrim fairly frequently. On Steam I’ve been playing both Hades and Pathfinder Kingmaker lately, and my group’s DM is playing the newer Pathfinder, Wrath of the Righteous.

  16. Bobina*

    What have you been listening to this week? For me its been:

    Podcasts:
    U Up Pod? – All about dating in this day and age. A great first episode to listen to is “When is it okay to have a serious conversation over text?” where they go over a listener contribution and analyse it. It ticks all my boxes of finding people and human interactions fascinating.

    XO Soused – I love this podcast. Its a food/anthropology podcast hosted by Andrew Wong (Michelin Star chef) and Mukta Das (food anthropologist) who work closely together. They just finished off their first season, and the last episode is probably a good place to start as it documents how they met and started working together. Earlier episodes are great for anyone who is really into food, especially Chinese food as it talks a lot about distinct techniques and how and why certain things work.

    Music:
    Alt-J! But only the first two albums because I have those on my ipod.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      The Dicebreaker podcast (tabletop gaming talk, although it goes off the rails often and starts talking about their pet cats which is lovely :)

      Generally I listen to 70s prog rock, ELP, Pink Floyd etc.

      1. Astoria*

        Jethro Tull as well, by chance? Seems like they would fit your taste, from what I know of you online. :)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Oh yes! Although a mate of mine just gifted me a load of Grateful Dead albums which I’m starting to like.

          Basically I was born in the 1970s and I think all the music Dad listened to has shaped my tastes forever. I’ve got his original Dark Side of the Moon LP in a frame :)

    2. James*

      I got Libby on my iPad. It’s an app that lets you borrow books from your local library, including audiobooks. I downloaded “Master and Commander” recently, and intend to see what else they’ve got.

      I’ve been listening to “The Lubber’s Hole”, a podcast that basically amounts to two older gentlemen (one Yankee, one Brit) reading the books and discussing them. They have a lot of really interesting guests on, like a former intelligence officer, an expert on Regency etiquette, and the like. Thus the downloading of the audiobook.

      For music, I’ve been getting into female metal vocalists more. Ranthiel Soprano is really good. Jonathan Young has some good covers, too–his covers of Ghost songs with Violet Orlandi are, quite frankly, better than the originals. I like Ghost, but the lead singer’s voice sounds, I don’t know, thin?, when compared to that duet. And the Pretty Reckless have a new one out that’s really good, “Only Love Can Save Me Now”.

    3. Exif*

      The new Brandi Carlile album would be worn out if it were vinyl, I’ve played it so much.

      Disappointed with the new Dorothy song, starting to think she’s going to fall into the same great voice/shit writing crack as Lzzy Hale did.

    4. Pam Adams*

      I just got a couple of Seanan Mcguire’s Wayward Children audiobooks, I’ve also had my Katherine Addison books and the Murderbot series on repeat.

      I find it hard to do audiobooks if I don’t already know the book- my mind drifts and I can’t hold on to the story. Familiar books are great background company, though.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Just had someone suggest “the Fall of Civilizations”… I’m about to dive into ancient Mesopotamia.
      What I am actually looking for is a broader history of Asia & the Middle East, ancient & modern. I know just enough to know I don’t know enough. (Africa & South America to follow.)

  17. Meh*

    Murder Mystery Games

    I ordered two murder mystery games (1 time play) and I’m hoping that I love them. So now all my targeted ads are for these types and most are subscription based. Can i get recommendations on companies/games that I should order? They need to be for 1+ players because it’s just me and my partner.

    1. Perla*

      I did a dungeons and dragons style murder mystery via Zoom and it was SO MUCH FUN! I was a bit skeptical at first, a friend invited me and I’ve never done any type of role play. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable but decided to give it my all and made my character into a vulgar southern bell, complete with accent and all (parents from rural Arkansas so it’s the only accent I can imitate), I had a really good time! Alcohol was involved, the story and descriptions were great, and I haven’t laughed that hard in such a long time.

      The people who run it are trying to create their own game, so it’s nothing final or official that you can purchase yet (as far as I know).

      Their IG handle is dastardlydeedsmysteries

      Perhaps you can message and join one of their beta testing games sometime!

    2. Lcsa99*

      Hunt a Killer. My husband and I are subscribed to it and love it. With the subscription, you get a new portion of the mystery to solve every month and it’ll take 6 boxes to solve. You basically get evidence and have to read through it to figure out whodunit. There are some cryptograms that can get a little difficult, but you can get hints if you get stuck.

      They also have mysteries that are a one and done thing, and those have been fun too but the subscription is always 6 months.

    3. TiffIf*

      This might not be exactly what you are looking for but you may want to try out the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective games. I am currently playing The Thames Murders box (ten scenarios or cases in the box). me and my group of friends are having a blast! it is 1-4 players so it would work just fine with 2.

  18. WellRed*

    I’m up way early because my roommate woke me up three times with some sort of nightmares. She kept hollering shut the f up and pounding the wall or bed. Scared the crap out of me. I don’t plan to say anything ( we’re friendly but not friends) but is there a good option to “break” them out if the dream? Ignore? This was intermittent over 2 hours! Not a frequent occurrence but not the first time either.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      I hate to say earplugs, but they work miracles… Also maybe you should say something. A concerned “You were yelling and banging the wall in your sleep last night and it startled me awake, and it’s not the first time… is everything okay?” is entirely appropriate. It doesn’t have to be confrontational but it is your home, too.

    2. Venus*

      I would say something, as your roommate likely isn’t sleeping well and might appreciate that info. “You were knocking on the wall last night, so might be tired this morning! Do you want me to mention it in future? Do you have suggestions on how to get you to stop if it ever happens again?”
      I learned that I didn’t sleep well on some nights because of how I was sleeping, based on a comment by someone years ago, and I appreciate it. Although intermittent behavior over several hours is pretty intense!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I would say something, because your roommate might know what will shake her out of it safely.

        For “I will leap out of bed and move things to solve this dream problem” with my husband, I hit on a firm “You’re on the way to the bathroom.” This would annoy him because that wasn’t it, but he also couldn’t remember what it was, and once you’re standing by the bed at 3 am you do kinda gotta go, so… he would go off and that started enough of a familiar muscle-memory routine going that his brain would shake into “and now I go back to bed” mode. He then hit on always reading a chapter of his book before coming to bed, so work/school stress didn’t get worked out in his dreams.

        The reason he knows about it, though, is that I told him.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Interestingly, I learned when my kids were toddlers that night terrors are often caused by needing the bathroom, because their brain is trying to wake them from deep sleep, but they get stuck in-between phases. Putting a toddler with night terrors on the toilet is one of the few ways you can end the episode quickly and safely.

          Maybe you were on to something.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I used the “you’re going to the bathroom” line on my son as well, for standing in the hallway seemingly at a loss as to why he was there.

    3. ATX*

      I don’t see the reason to walk on egg shells about this, friendly or not so friendly, it’s pretty alarming! Why are you hesitant to say something?

      I’d be like yo! You okay? You must have had a wild dream, you were pounding on the walls and screaming

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, open the conversation.
        It could be that merely mentioning it is enough to slow down or stop this process she has.

        A dear relative and I shared a motel room on a road trip. My relative began talking in a weird voice in the middle of the night. I spoke clearly but gently, “It’s okay. You are just having a dream. You are okay.”
        There was a moment of silence. Then she clearly said, “Thank you” and nothing else. We both went back to sleep. Kind of odd, kind of funny, but at the time I was concerned. It turned into nbd.

    4. Grits McGee*

      Yes, please say something to your roommate! I (think) I’ve been in your roommate’s position before- I was taking a melatonin supplement with extra ingredient that was making me have really weird dreams where I would wake up, but be so out of it I wasn’t sure if I was just yelling in my dreams or in real life. I think my upstairs neighbor knocked on my door and asked if I was ok, but, again, I was so out of it I have no idea if I was dreaming or not and I’ve been too embarrassed to ask. If your roommate has changed something in her routine recently, she will probably appreciate the heads up, and it might confirm some concerns she already has.

    5. WellRed*

      So it turns out, it was the Other roommate, likely in a rage over the noisy tenant in the second floor so that’s a whole separate issue. As to the roomie I have was asking about (she had also been disturbed by last night’s noise) she did say if that’s ever an actual problem with her to please let her know because she will take steps to resolve it. I had hesitated because I didn’t want to embarrass her or whatever. Thx all.

      1. Venus*

        Thank you for such a quick update! I’m sorry that it was more complicated, but at least you have one good roommate.

        I would also worry about embarrassment, but if it is likely affecting someone’s sleep and health then I would mention it if I like the person.

  19. skinflint*

    What is some item or some category where you’ve found that the versions a level or two up from “standard” have been so well worth it that now it’s your new normal and you’d never go back?

    My partner and I both happen to be thrifty and by default save money rather than spend it; our perspective on finances is so similar that we rarely ever think about it. We both just keep using the stuff we always have because we have it, seek out perfectly acceptable used items when we need something, and look for a sweet spot of functionality and price when we buy new. Which all means that we rarely end up with things we don’t literally NEED, and rarely anything fancy or top-quality when either of us does buy something. Neither of us have an interest in the spending- or lifestyle-change involved in “leveling up” across the board, but the fact that we are such similar people in this regard means that we can’t have a moderating influence on each other! Surely there are things we might appreciate having a higher-end version of, but which it wouldn’t occur to either of us to try.

    What has made a big difference in your own life? For example off the top of my head I can imagine someone saying cooking pans, shoes, toiletpaper, some precision-engineered device. Oh–my partner would say butter, the fancy Icelandic or Irish butter sold in half-pound foil-wrapped blocks. How about you?

    1. Angstrom*

      Try experimenting with foods and spices to see if you can taste a worthwhile difference between the store brand and the higher-end stuff. For a lot of items I’m perfectly happy with the inexpensive version, but cheese that tastes like a dairy product instead of cheese-scented rubber is absolutely worth it to me.
      For me, a nice bicycle. I have no illusions that it makes me any faster, but the way if feels and responds makes me smile every ride.

      1. Loredena Frisealach*

        This! Food is one of those areas for me.

        I can absolutely taste the difference in Penzey’s spices (so much fresher!) but not everyone notices. I also will use cheaper olive oils as my cooking oil, but look for really good ones for anything I might taste it in. And buy smaller bottles unless you use it regularly, because it goes rancid easily (most USians don’t know what non-rancid olive oil should taste like, tbh). That is something I found worth going to a specialty shop for.

        I’m not nearly as fussy about coffee as I thought I was in terms of going for the fancy ones, but I do insist on fresh brewed. But I’ll drink ground happily rather than buy beans and grind my own, as my father insisted on.

        Also I’m a plain yogurt snob, so I’m always taste tasting different brands for the ones I like enough.

    2. Meh*

      My coffee maker. I have a fully automatic Jura (coffee and espresso) and it is the best thing ever. I never *truly never* go out for coffee now. We refer to other coffee as “Sad coffee” It has paid for itself in that sense. Before I was using nespresso pods. I read someone’s calculations that the Jura becomes the cheaper option after 5 years of use. We’re at that point now.

      Now if you are happy with drip coffee then my recommendation makes no fiscal sense and totally disregard :)

      1. James*

        I’m the opposite, I trade time for money. My every-day coffee maker is a French press–$20 gets you a descent one, and makes far superior coffee to a drip coffee maker in my opinion. Or splurge and get a steel double-walled French press that can survive being knocked around by children and dogs. I also have a $15 stovetop espresso maker and a $10 Turkish coffee pot.

        When my kids were babies I had an even cheaper setup: a large mug (it could hold 800 ml of beer), a funnel, and a coffee filter. Heat the water, pour over the grounds through the filter/funnel into the mug. Drink. It’s the stripped-down version of the super-expensive setups you see in coffee shops. And it had the added bonus of not waking up the baby that I was holding. I was also playing a lot of Skyrim at the time while I was up with the baby, and occasionally using a mortar and pestle to grind the beans. It always sort of made me feel like an alchemist mixing a stamina potion. (I’m required to be a productive member of society and provide for my family; I am NOT required to grow up!)

        I’m not saying I spend less on coffee makers. :D I’m just saying that I’ve found that for me, personally, technique is more important. I like preparing the same coffee in a variety of methods and seeing how it affects flavor.

        Totally agree that the typical Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker is not great coffee. It’ll get you by, but it’s not comparable to good coffee.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      The only thing I’ve so far found to be “that much better” is buying an actual $300 GoPro camera instead of the cheap $60 clone that looks exactly the same but isn’t. I bought the clone first, was kind of disappointed (I still use it, mind you), and just saved to buy the original. That’s really it. Even with shoes, pans or butter.

    4. OxfordBlue*

      Off the top of my head here’s my list.
      1) A really top of the line mattress that suits you and a bed frame with top quality sprung slats plus top quality mattress topper, heated underblanket, down pillows, down duvet and heated overblanket plus your preferred bedlinen.
      2) Really comfortable, supportive shoes for everyday wear.
      3) Good quality thermal underwear in a variety of styles so that you stay warm all year whatever the weather and also some good quality warm weather clothing for the three weeks a year you need it in the UK.
      4) A pen you like to write with.
      5) Microplane graters
      6) Good knives that fit your hand and a sharpener that you can use weekly.
      7) Top quality ingredients for your food especially fruit and vegetables.
      8) Delia Smith’s online range of baking tins with Silverwood.
      9) Good scissors
      10) A diary you will use
      11) A comfortable reading chair
      12) Reliable domestic machines e.g. washing machine, hoover, dishwasher, food mixer, kettle, toaster, iron etc. I don’t think you need many functions or programmes for most of these but you do need them to last and to be reliable.
      13) Backpack that makes it easy to carry your shopping etc. home.

      I’m sure there are lots more things that I’ve forgotten to add but these are the things that leapt to mind when I read your post.

      1. Observer*

        I’m going especially second the shoes, good food ingredients (it’s not just taste – in many cases you are paying for better nutritional value) and reliable appliances. I’d add to try to get ones that are efficient – if you pay your own utilities, your checkbook will thank you.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think definitely some food items – free-range, slow reared meat, for instance (which actually works on more than one level for me, it tends to be significantly more expensive, so I don’t eat it as often, and often it means supporting local, independent farmers. !)

      Mattresses – a good quality mattress can make a huge difference.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Definitely shoes, yes. I have special snowflake feet that won’t tolerate cheap-ass shoes.

      Other than that … when we traded in our last car, we got a manufacturer-certified pre-owned car from a brand that is known for its quality and consumer loyalty, so much so that used vehicles from this brand don’t often hit the market. (Not a Subaru Outback, but along those lines.) There are cheaper versions of this kind of car available; even new ones from other manufacturers are cheaper than the used one we got. But for me this was the better choice for reliability, resale value, safety features, driveability, etc., etc.

    7. Voluptuousfire*

      Spending more $ on shoes. I learned that after learning I had arthritis in my big toe. I spent a few hundred dollars on some Danskos shoes and I can walk without any pain. They’re stiff and were the most comfortable shoes out of the box.

      And barring good shoes, good insoles for cheap shoes! My current favorite sneakers are these cute but cheap Walmart slip on sneakers that offer no support. I slip my insoles into them and I’m good.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        See that’s funny, the best shoes I’ve had were from thrift stores and came a bit broken-in. Those early days with new shoes can be tough!!

        1. Observer*

          New shoes should not require “breaking in”. Sometime a really stiff pair of shoes does need it, but generally, if you need to “break them in” it’s a sign that they are not a good fit.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Definitely yes on the insoles! It’s amazing what they can do for a pair of cheap shoes.

    8. Sloan Kittering*

      For me, it’s things that are maaybe overpriced but I know will support people I want to support, like full priced books at independent bookstores, or meat at the farmer’s market, local artisan stuff, etc. That’s the kind of thing I could never have dreamed of buying as a broke college kid so it also gives me a blast of pride to be able to do it now, rather than going to Amazon / walmart / whatever soul-destroying options exist. I do my holiday gifting this way.

      1. Washi*

        Same. Buying local when possible, even if I can’t really tell the difference in the product. This is especially true for food, since I don’t have a delicate palate at all, but I love seeing the names of nearby towns on the packaging.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes! I don’t buy books often (thanks library!) but when I do I try to get them through the locally owned indie bookstore. I get things like graphic tees from local screen printers with unique designs and I’ve started buying more local brands at the grocery store too.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          It means soooo much to authors. They couldn’t survive if nobody was willing to buy new books.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Two really good professional chef’s knives, and a diamond stone to keep them sharp enough they don’t go off angle. I was honestly close to phobic about knives until I realized it was because my mom’s knives were so dull they slipped every which way.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh, and José Cuervo Gold. Life is too short to drink bad booze, and yet a cheap tequila hangover feels infinite.

        1. James*

          A coworker of mine turned me on to good bourbon. It’s surprisingly affordable–1792 is $35 a bottle around here, and you can get some fairly good stuff in the $40/$50 range. You can also spend $1,000 on a bottle, but after about $100 you’re not paying for quality anymore, you’re paying for rarity–small batch and the like.

          I’ll also pay a bit more for good beer. I’m not a snob, and Coorse Light has its place–if I’m doing yard work that’s what I’ll drink–but sitting by the fire with the kids, roasting marshmallows, you splurge for the good stuff.

    10. Anona*

      Slave free chocolate from small suppliers. I learned a few years ago that most cocoa and chocolate is produced by child labor, including some enslaved people. The fair trade stamped stuff is apparently also similar because the supply chain is so challenging to track.

      I buy cocoa powder from a small supplier that knows the origin, and chocolate bars from another. It means I have chocolate much less often because it’s more expensive, but it was really bothering me, knowing that my simple pleasure was causing so much pain.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Slave-free seafood, as well. That expose’ about the shrimp processors – they kidnapped workers and kept them on ships for years and some of the workers died – made me sick. I will pay more for food (or anything – looking at you, China) that has not been processed with slave labor.

      2. Feliz*

        Hey, I work in the food industry and have have some familiarity with both Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance. The supply chain traceability is actually pretty good and is independently verified (unlike many large corporations own-brand “ethical” programs). It’s worth doing some reading yourself of the pros and cons of it.

        The true provenance and cost of food continues to be a thorny problem – it’s a complex mix of so many issues – air miles, sprays/organic, packaging, mono cultures etc etc.

    11. twocents*

      Workout gear. I don’t think you need the top of the line stuff, but even cheap workout gear is expensive and it’s worth getting right the first time.

      First cheap yoga mat? Started shedding chunks within a month of regular use. $69 legit mat has been holding strong for over a year.

      First cheap workout step? Too small to use either as a workout bench or for step classes, and I’m not particularly tall. Upgrading $10-$20 more to the Reebok step, and it’s exactly right.

      First cheap hiking shoes? Leaves blisters on my toes, so I can’t do long hikes (anything greater than 3 miles).

      Learned my lesson over the years, and bought an appropriate set of weights and exercise shoes the first time around.

    12. CatCat*

      I had flimsy, crappy sheet pans most of my life. Then we got a Target gift card and bought new sheet pans, Nordic Ware brand. They weren’t even particularly expensive, but they are soooooo much better than my crappy old sheet pans.

      I also like springing for heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo. Quality and variety is excellent, but definitely pricier per pound than what I could get at the grocery store.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Oh yeah: son has given me good quality heavy baking sheets for Xmas the last couple of years. Replacing the cheap ones I had used for decades. A delight.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        I have had bags of grocery store dried beans ruin so many of my recipes! If they are too old they just never cook soft.

    13. ObserverCN*

      Hoka running shoes are well worth the money. My physical therapist recommended them to me, and I won’t wear anything else for exercising.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      Glide dental floss. I didn’t think I could possibly care about the floss shredding until we got a free sample, and it turned out I did care. A lot.

      Decent paper towels. (Same for kleenex or toilet paper.)

      Kerry Gold butter. Several cheese counter people recommended it for a dairy allergy, and while it acts on my son like domestic butter, I had a real “Oh. Wow.”

      LL Bean fuzzy slippers. I wear them 9 months out of the year, and replace each pair as it develops a wear hole.

      I will recommend good outerwear–boots, coat, gloves–as an investment that pays off in comfort and usually lasts years.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Ooooh, seconding the Glide floss. We bought a multipack of the cheap stuff when we were doing our start-of-pandemic stockpiling, because that’s what we found at the store, and are slowly working our way through it but it truly makes mornings worse to deal with the shredding.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Thirded! I have densely packed back teeth, and the regular floss hurts my gums. My dentist insisted on the Glide floss.

      2. Loredena Frisealach*

        Seconding the Glide – my teeth are so tight/my mouth so small that I couldn’t floss properly without it!
        Also the Kerrygold butter, which is so good.

    15. Chilipepper attitude*

      Not sure if this applies to you because you said upgrading fro “standard,” not from cheap, but there is research showing that paying for the more expensive item is a cost savings in the long run. It is why it is so expensive to be poor. I think about that a lot for purchases now.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I even found this with some makeup. Not all, mind you, but good eyeshadows, for example, last much longer, and have better quality. Mascara – nah.

      2. traffic_spiral*

        Yup. As the famous author once wrote:

        “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

        Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. […]

        But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

        This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

      3. Observer*

        This is 100% true. It’s not the case for each thing, and sometimes it’s still financially sensible to buy the cheaper thing. But in a huge range of situation, a higher purchase price also gets you higher value even when your starting point is “standard”.

    16. Purple Cat*

      For our household, it’s shifting the spending thinking into:
      1) I don’t have to drive around finding the cheapest sale price on something. Time is also money, so just spend a couple of bucks more for convenience.
      2) Replace things sooner. Things don’t have to be on their complete last dying leg before being replaced. It’s hard to strike that balance now that so many things have designed obsolescence, but we’re not struggling. Nobody should be wearing shoes with holes in the soles and too short pants and undershirts with holes in them.

      Otherwise, toilet paper and paper towels. Buy the good stuff! Allow yourself to enjoy some luxuries. And yes, sometimes you’ll try something “Fancy” and you won’t actually like it. That’s okay too!

      1. James*

        The difference between Bounty paper towels and the blue shop towels they sell at the hardware store is night and day. We use the blue shop towels at jobsites, because we’ve found we use 3x the paper towels if we buy the cheap ones. And every time, the roll wanders off the site when we’re done! (Before anyone says it, there’s some justification for it–even if they’re clean they can’t be used at another site because you can’t PROVE they’re clean, so if they’re not used they’ll just be thrown away. Better to take them home and use them.)

      2. Aealias*

        Oh, yes, good toilet paper! There’s definitely a sweet-spot balancing comfort, efficiency and happy sewer pipes. Still, this is one of the few places I put my foot down when we were broke and scrounging for change in the sofa. I will eat bulk brand ramen noodles, but I will NOT use cheap TP!

    17. No Tribble At All*

      Refrigerators! And dishwashers! I’m not saying you need the $5k smart refrigerator that writes your shopping list for you. After we upgraded the one in our house, we had to move, and now that we’re renting, the fridge in the apartment is literally the cheapest one possible. In order to have the front cold enough, the back is below freezing and ruins any produce you put back there. Have you ever seen frozen watermelon chunks? Or eggs in the freezer? Not great. The freezer section is taken up by the ice maker, which is just an on/off lever. The good news is it works quickly. The bad news is if you leave it on overnight, half the freezer gets filled with ice cubes!

      When we bought our new fridge, we got the medium price one from Costco, and it’s still sooooo nice. Water/ice dispenser in the front with a filter. French doors, pull-out freezer, and some kind of air circulation witchcraft that keeps the entire fridge the same temperature. I legit miss our fridge!

    18. Not A Manager*

      I run chilly and wear some kind of sweater most of the year. I used to buy cashmere occasionally and only wear it for “special,” but during lockdown I realized that I actually live in my sweaters and the cashmere literally brings me joy. So now I wear them for every day.

      We tend to spend a bit more for old-fashioned food. What I mean is, fresh produce, real dairy (cream, not creamer, for example), full-fat items instead of ones with texture enhancers, etc.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      1. Shoes. There is a huge difference between good shoes and good-enough shoes. I own one or two pairs of the former, and they are worth the cost. I do my research, though, as brands differ and I’ve been burned by expensive trainers that fell apart well before six months were up.

      2. I’m with you on the Irish butter. Kerrygold is my standard now; no others will do and it can’t be the generic version.

      3. Percale sheets.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Some other Irish butters are Dromona, Golden Cow and Ballyrashane too if you can get them there. I think they’re all even better than Kerrygold but I could be biased. It’s so weird that our butter is fancy in the US! I love this idea. It’s just hundrum for us lol

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I don’t think it’s fancy exactly. It’s just…better. By a lot. And it’s also significantly more expensive than, say, butter from Wisconsin.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Yeah, but here the Wisconsin butter would be more expensive here in Ireland remember. If they sent it ;) I’d like to try the Wisconsin stuff but we don’t get it here. Only Irish, Danish and French.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Right, sure. It’s totally just an importation thing, but the only reason I’d consider Kerrygold a “splurge” is because it’s so pricey.

          2. Chauncy Gardener*

            As an aside, I grew up in Wisconsin and we used to get a big roll of butter from the local dairy. It was AWESOME

    20. marvin the paranoid android*

      I’m kind of like you, but if it’s something where the cheap version will wear out or break quickly and the more expensive version will last a long time, I’ll usually try to get the expensive version if I can afford it. I don’t usually get the luxury version of anything, but I try to avoid the extremely cheap version if I can. Or I’ll just get a lot of second-hand ones if the expensive one is out of my reach.

      1. Five after Midnight*

        You obviously never had American butter – it tastes like lard. The quality of raw ingredients and food in general is so so so much higher in Europe. And even Kerry Gold now started to use skim milk in their unsalted butter – I can guarantee they only do this for the American market, because in Ireland that would result in a customer revolt or a lawsuit about how that’s not really butter (look up “Subway bread Ireland”).

          1. Five after Midnight*

            “subway bread here isn’t that great” – of course it isn’t: that’s because it’s an American import (the recipe is, anyway), lol.

    21. Chaordic One*

      Many years ago, during the Great Recession, desperate for employment I broke down and accepted a position at a bookstore/coffee shop as a store clerk/barista and I learned quite a bit about coffee. I ended up turning into something of a coffee snob. The kinds of cheap coffee that I grew up drinking just don’t cut it anymore.

    22. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Seconding many things on this list including shoes, glide dental floss, sewing scissors, mattress.
      Adding: socks, hotels (doesn’t have to be the priciest but no more Days Inns for us!), bras, jeans for everyday wear (ha, spouse buys jeans for the workshop at the thrift shop b/c he just trashes them), quilt fabric, first class airfare (well, just to Europe from the US but we can’t afford that…but would if we could!); also not a material good, but something like a monthly massage or similar is something we generally think we don’t “need” to spend money on, but it’s very stress-relieving and can help with other medical conditions.

    23. RussianInTexas*

      Good tea. Good kitchen knives. Mattress, because my back will thank me. Bras – I am very busty and expensive bras with good structure 100% worth it.
      Good jams and marmalade – a lot of big brand ones are over sweet.
      Shoes that you will wear daily.
      Decent paper products.
      Oh, and good tires. Don’t have to go super expensive, but they do make much difference in the comfort and quietness, especially if you drive a lot.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and good tires are also safer, because their behavior’s more predictable and they’re less at risk of aquaplaning, at least if you replace them often enough. In my climate, we need studded tires for about 5 months of the year.

    24. pieforbreakfast*

      Shoes, outdoor gear- coats, sleeping bags, rain gear, etc…, saute pans, and more recently, cat litter, are all things I’ve come to spend more money on. Having better quality items in these categories seems to set me up for better quality times (or my cat, in the last one).

    25. the cat's ass*

      Go for the (Kerry) gold! If youre in an area that has a trader joe’s or a costco, they have it at a reasonable price and it is what i consider a cheap luxury! I also spend a fair amount on rice, because there are specialty South Asian and Asian stores in my community with great rice. And because that is the backbone of so many meals, it’s a cheap luxury once more.

    26. Little beans*

      My husband finally convinced me to replace our old 30 pound vacuum with a new, cordless one. I was reluctant because the old one works fine but the new one is so much easier to use, we vacuum much more often!

    27. Cheezmouser*

      Cookware/bakeware. I used to be super thrifty too, until my partner–who is thrifty as well but also understood that sometimes you end up spending more on cheap stuff than if you just bought the higher quality version once–pointed out that I could’ve bought 3 of the nicer baking sheets for the price of all the cheap ones I bought that kept rusting.

    28. Redhairredrunner*

      Good quality flour, I had to buy a bag of cheap Kroger brand all purpose flour during the COVID flour shortage and it was so bad that I literally threw out the rest once I was able to get my usual King Arthur flour. None of my usual recipes came out right with that flour, it was so irritating.
      Also good wool socks are worth every penny, especially if you don’t mind darning the heels when they start to wear out.

    29. Little beans*

      Bread. Spent several minutes staring at the sad collection at my local chain grocery store this morning, and now I’m about to drive 20 minutes to my favorite bakery.

    30. Silence*

      Co signing the recommendations for good shoes.
      Bamboo bed sheets are amazingly soft and breathable.
      Large bath sheets instead of towels, preferably 100% cotton.
      An electric toothbrush, I have a cheap oral b one but the first time I used it I was amazed at how much cleaner my mouth felt.
      Heated throw rugs if you live somewhere cold.
      I prefer a smaller amount of good ice cream to more of the cheaper brands
      Getting a massage is so nice.
      Scented candles/ oil defusers can make your home smell lovely and welcoming.
      If you have Spotify or something similar getting a premium account so you don’t have to listen to ads.
      If you do any craft slowly building a collection of excellent tools / materials even just some really nice colouring pencils.
      Outsourcing any home maintenance you dislike can free up time to spend together. Time is probably the most luxurious thing.

    31. Laura Petrie*

      We bought a new mattress recently and it is SO much better than our old cheap IKEA one. I bought a nicer, more expensive one than I normally would have looked at and it was totally worth it.

      Organic fruit & veg from a local box scheme. Not that much more expensive than supermarkets but a better choice and much nicer flavour.

      Cake tins and baking trays, they last better than cheap ones.

      Beer. I love beer and life is too short to drink rubbish

      Holidays. In non-pandemic times we love to travel and I’m happy to spend good money on it.

    32. Colette*

      I bought an ice machine this summer, and I love it, even though it’s very much a want, not a need. Electric stand mixers are also worth it if you like to bake.

      And I don’t skimp on renovations – if I want an option, I get it because I don’t want to regret it for 30 years.

    33. KR*

      I absolutely love my steam mop. We got it used off eBay- the heating element was a little clogged up because the previous owners didn’t use distilled water in it but we cleaned it and it works fine now. It’s an expensive mop but it makes cleaning so much easier (my house is 100% poorly waxed linoleum).
      In the same vein, we splurged a little when replacing our vacuum recently. I don’t think we spent more than $300, but this one is light and picks up animal hair extremely well. It’s also easy to clean and can be taken apart in minutes. My husband convinced me it was worth it to replace the vacuum and I’m so glad I did, since I used it all the time when we had a place with carpet.

    34. Finny*

      Proper KD (Kraft Dinner/Kraft Macaroni and Cheese). None of the generics I’ve tried taste or mix right. (Nor does the new KD powder they’ve come up with for the kid-oriented noodle shapes, for that matter–Kraft says it’s all the same, but comparing the ingredient list it definitely isn’t, and doesn’t act like or taste it, either.)

    35. Not So NewReader*

      I am amazed by how many people said Kerry Gold butter. Yum.

      Shoes out of necessity, my feet need me to do that.
      Better quality foods.
      Good quality vitamins/nutrition.

      The rest of my life -eh, I have a pure bred mutt, my car is very NOT new and weeds in my lawn are okay as long as they are green. I got a new furnace and spent a bit on that. I redid the plumbing and upgraded that. And I got a little heavy handed with the insulation. (yippeee, warm house.)

      1. Aealias*

        Oooh, yes, and the stuff with the lotion! My colds go on for WEEKS and my skin used to be horribly raw by the third day. Fancy-pants tissues make an enormous difference.

      2. My Brain Is Exploding*

        OOh, yes…Puffs Plus with Lotion for when we have colds/allergies. For occasional use, cheaper tissues are OK.

      3. Lissajous*

        My philosophy for tissues is: most of the time I’m barely using them.
        Unless I’m sick, then I am using them at an alarming rate.

        So get the pricier, soft, gentle ones, because it’s not like they go off, and when you suddenly go through a box in three days your nose will thank you by not being rubbed raw. Being sick is already misery, no need to add to it.
        And the per annum cost is still ridiculously low.
        (I personally don’t do scented, not my thing, but if it is go for that too!)

    36. Bibliovore*

      Real Birkenstocks. Local food. One good knife. Purebred dog who eats fancy expensive food that makes healthy small poops. Heat. (grew up without, then couldn’t afford)
      The new Suburu with safety features. (first new car in this lifetime) SO happy I did this.
      I buy one or two expensive pieces of clothing on sale from Eileen Fisher each year- they last for years and years. Like ten years of washing machine and dryer.
      Therapist who doesn’t take insurance.

    37. sswj*

      Don’t laugh – Litterboxes.
      I have spent a stupid amount of money on automatic litterboxes (CatGenies, Litter Robots, and Pura X), and with one exception they have been worth every penny and then some. As I have 12 house cats they save me an immense amount of time, as well as keep my house from smelling like a zoo.

      Lawnmower – Specifically one appropriate to the area that needs regular mowing. We recently got a fairly big and beefy zero-turn to replace our little zero-turn that was rattling itself to death. The new one seriously cut mowing time by half or better! It’s not only the larger deck, it’s that it has a stronger motor so I don’t have to slow to a crawl for thick or overgrown grass, or go back over it several times. We have a tractor and bush hog too, left over from a previous larger property. That did the job for sure, but it was so big I had to go super slowly to get corners and avoid hitting the fence. Love the $$$ zero-turn!

      Dundee marmalade (lovely and tart), good cuts of meat, local produce (real local, not the “farm stands” that buy from the giant distributor), wine that you love to drink and damn the price tag.

    38. Spearmint*

      Razor blades. My partner and I both cut ourselves far less when shaving since shifting from cheap to mid-range priced razors.

    39. Observer*

      and look for a sweet spot of functionality and price when we buy new.

      One thing that might be useful to you is to add something else into that calculus: What is known in the business world ans TCO – Total Cost of Ownership. When you do that you often wind up spending less in the long term AND have better quality.

      The example that comes up a lot is about boot. If you buy a cheap pair of boots for $X it you can expect it to last for a year. If you buy a GOOD pair of boots for $5X, it may last you for 10 years. So in the short term you paid more, but it the long term you pay half of what you would have for the cheap boots. And in the meantime, you have years worth of MUCH better boots.

      A personal example. When we got our first new car, my husband was very focused on getting a low cost car. I really didn’t like it. And it wound up costing us a pretty penny over time. When it came to our next car, I insisted that we look at factors other than purchase price (in addition to purchase price.) It was surprisingly hard to do, because SO many of the resources that supposedly show cost of ownership place way to much emphasis on depreciation, which was a total non-issue for us. We were going to keep that thing till it was too expensive to keep, so resale value was going to be minimal in any case. What I looked at was gas mileage (my husband drives a LOT for work), and repair history. We wound up getting a decent lower end car. It was significantly more expensive the current model of the car that we were getting rid of, but it was a terrific financial decision on three counts: The amount we saved on gas paid for the difference in about 2 years (at current prices it would probably have be 3.5 years) on a car that we were expecting to keep for 5 years. So, thousands saves just in fuel costs. Maintenance (other than the routine stuff you do on any car) was minimal until it got geriatric enough to make us decide the get a new car. Lastly, the car lasted us for 10 years before starting to fall apart.

    40. Clisby*

      We pay a CPA every year to do our taxes. I’m sure we could do it, but we don’t want to. So we don’t.

    41. Girasol*

      Slight tangent: I read an essay written in 1910 or so about the economy of working girls. It talked about how people thought they were stupid because they bought cheap shirtwaists that didn’t last well, but it was because they didn’t have enough money to buy better. It went on to discuss their strict long hours in the factories, intolerance of time off, and the way that some pooled their money so that if someone in the group got sick she wouldn’t run out of money and be evicted before she could recover. Does anyone remember the name of that essay?

    42. RDC*

      I’ve been trying to buy more planet-friendly versions of my regular products and I think that fits here since they probably cost more than regular but I enjoy knowing they have a smaller environmental impact. I’ve switched to solid shampoo from Ethique, concentrated cleaning supplies and hand soap from Blueland, detergent sheets from Clean People, bamboo toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap.

      1. RDC*

        Oh! Also toothpaste tabs from Bite. And lots of food storage containers to cut down on use of plastic bags and cling wrap. Re-usable shopping bags, of course. Any other suggestions in this vein?

        1. LizB*

          A metal or glass floss container + compostable floss, finding a local grocery with a good bulk section so you can re-fill containers of pantry goods instead of buying a new bag/bottle/box, mesh or cloth produce bags to avoid using the plastic ones from the store, and beeswax wraps to further cut down on cling wrap/foil use, have all been some of my favorite swaps I’ve made gradually over time. I’m interested in trying toothpaste tabs, I want to check those out once my current tube runs out.

  20. WellRed*

    I believe it’s always worth it to spend a bit more on shoes as your feet support the whole rest of your body. I also think it’s usually worth it to spend money for a haircut. I don’t mean hundreds, mind you, but $70 vs $30.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      (gently teasing): Oh you’re not getting the $9.99 special at supercuts?? There’s me shown!

    2. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      Many years ago I read some great advice from an Italian woman in a magazine. She was a model or something, don’t remember now. She said to always buy a good mattress and good shoes, because if you aren’t in one, you are in the other.

    3. UKDancer*

      Definitely. I spend money on shoes and also get decently fitting bras. These come in fairly expensive but are worth it. I economise on other things but I need comfortable feet and comfortable chest. I spend more on trousers but that’s because when I find a pair and style that fits I usually by 2-3 of them.

      I do tend to spend money on a haircut because I like my hair to be nice. I tend to book a massage about once per month which is a luxury but a pleasant one.

    4. HBJ*

      I disagree on haircuts. I agree if you’re getting color or maybe have complicated hair or a complicated cut that needs to be perfect, but I have have pretty basic hair and get a pretty basic cut. I never been able to tell a difference between a cheap haircut and a more expensive one on my hair, and I don’t think anyone else has either. They’ve never said anything or complimented the more expensive cut more or anything like that.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yup, Great Clips cuts my hair just fine.
        A friend paid $50 for a chopped-up disaster of a haircut, so paying more can be a gamble.

      2. ThatGirl*

        It depends on the haircut! Mine is short but not simple, and it’s a dramatic difference in how it looks and grows out at $40 vs $15. There is an upper limit I’m willing to pay, but it’s absolutely worth it to me to pay a trained pro vs a cheap chain salon.

        1. WellRed*

          I think the haircut itself is key. And I have had Supercuts that has been fine but when it went wrong, on my birthday no less, it took four months to stop looking hacked; )

          1. Blomma*

            My hair is the same. I pay a bit more for someone who knows what they’re doing with curls doesn’t botch it up. The last time I had a cheap haircut, my hair looked longer on one side compared to the other because the hairdresser didn’t know what to do with my curls. It was awful!

      3. Exif*

        My friends with stick-straight hair who wear it blunt agree with you.

        As a layered curly girl, I unfortunately need to pay more to avoid poodle syndrome.

        1. Clisby*

          Yeah, I have stick-straight hair that I keep just barely below shoulder length. I haven’t had a professional haircut in 16 years – my husband cuts it and it looks fine. (He has a regular barber set – it’s not like he’s chopping off my hair with discarded kids’ kindergarten scissor.) He cut my son’s hair up until age 14, and that was fine because my son wore his hair below shoulder length. Once my son switched to a shorter haircut, we paid for professional cuts.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Interesting topic…I hope to remember this until next weekend’s open thread. (Another person with Jewish hair here. I’ll save the narrative for next weekend. :-) )

    5. Laura Petrie*

      I go to a cheaper salon but that’s more because of the location. I pay half of what a cut and full head of highlights would cost in the city centre. I’ve also had some horrendous cuts at fancy places.

    6. Voluptuousfire*

      It’s situation dependent. For me, I switched from going to a salon to a barber shop since I have a short haircut. I get the same quality haircut for at least half the price. I also like my lady barber a hell of a lot more than my former stylist.

  21. Venus*

    How do your plants grow? From green to brown, indoors and outdoors, I enjoy all your updates!

    Note that I will be hibernating and won’t be posting after this week, until next March when I start up my tomato seeds again. I encourage others to post!

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think it’s time for me to re-pot the new shoots in my pink quill, but I’m nervous I’ll do it wrong…also I don’t have another pot or soil so I guess I’ll uproot the whole thing?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s worth getting a quart of new soil because it has more nutrients and less chance of carrying over any plant disease.
        If you know anyone who is a big gardener, ask if you can buy a coffee can’s worth from them. I would just give it to you, because we buy it in huge bags. The biggest gardener at my old office used to start all his seedlings in red plastic party cups with holes drilled in the bottom. Start them in that, and before they take root, empty the old plant pot and bleach it for reuse.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I would probably have to wait for thanksgiving to get soil from relatives unfortunately, no one close by – and there’s nowhere in my studio to keep a whole bag. So I guess I’ll either run out the clock for a few weeks or take my chances reusing the current soil

          1. Venus*

            If you have social media then there are groups (we have Buy Nothing here) where people offer and make requests all the time. Asking for a cup or two of soil would be encouraged on our group!

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Doing some lovely baby kale for the end of the season. I feel superpowered when I eat it, and it’s growing well (and so cute) just now.

    3. fposte*

      I am starting the bulb planting. There’s supposed to be a lot of rain this upcoming week so I probably won’t finish for a couple of weeks. It’s 400 tulips plus about 5 lily bulbs–and maybe I also got some iris? Can’t remember.

      I poop out very, very quickly so I’ve established a drill that works great for me over the years–break up the tulip bed into sixths and plant a sixth at a time; I go fast and sloppy, so it’s about 15 minutes to do a sixth. I demarcate by just digging a stick into the ground between sixths. You’d think I’d remember the bed measurement from year to year but I don’t, so it always starts with my dragging my tape measure around to figure out the length of my curvy bed edge.

    4. CatCat*

      My radishes have not gotten bulbs. I think they’re planted too close together. It’s my first time trying radishes so I think next week, I’ll harvest the radish greens and we’ll eat those then plant some new seeds.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      I have a passion vine in a pot on my balcony that I just brought in for the winter. It had a beautiful flower on it that just closed and I think it will turn into an orange colored fruit. It did it once before several years ago, so I have my fingers crossed.

  22. Astoria*

    Skechers shoes are worth the cost, especially when I shop at Shoe Dept Encore.

    I also am willing to pay a little more for lotion or hand soap packaged with a wide pump.

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      100% agree with Sketchers. I was on vacation recently and wore the wrong kind of shoes for daily urban walking – had incredible pain and blisters after Day 1 and knew I had to get different shoes or else I’d spend the trip in the hotel. There was a sketchers store nearby and man, those sneakers saved my trip. I could walk again!

    2. RagingADHD*

      We used to get Sketchers for the kids’ school shoes when they were transitioning into adult sizes. They fell apart within a couple of months. Complete waste of money. They might be cute and comfy, but they do not hold up to hard wear. When a pre-teen going through massive growth spurts wears out a shoe before they outgrow it, there’s something wrong with the shoe.

      Now we only get New Balance or Asics.

      1. Astoria*

        I don’t doubt you whatsoever, but mine have lasted much longer. Sorry you have had that experience. I’m not on the Skechers payroll or anything, BTW, just a fan.

      2. Mstr*

        I have the same experience with Sketchers. They fit comfortably but don’t last long, though I do walk a lot to be fair. I’ve also switched to ASICS and recommend them.

      3. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        The same thing happened to me with Skechers shoes. They were terrific for about a week and then fell apart faster than any shoes I’ve ever had. Thinking it might be a fluke, I bought a second pair a few months later, and those were even worse. Like other commenter, I’ve had very good luck with Asics.

    3. beach read*

      Yes to Sketchers as they have been the best shoes my odd feet have ever worn.

      Also…the good parm/romano cheese.
      I would have said Scott tissue but whatever it is they changed about it has decreased the quality tremendously.

  23. SunnyStreets*

    I’m looking for gift suggestions for people who enjoy food, something that I can ship, like an assorted box of nice chocolates or teas. Any recommendations based on something you received that you really enjoyed? Thanks!

    1. JustEm*

      Spices from Penzey’s are great quality, and they have some interesting ones and spice mixes. (If the people like to cook).

      1. fposte*

        Heh–I just got a big box from Penzey’s that I suspect is a birthday present come a little early. So far I highly recommend :-).

      2. Generic Name*

        Agreed! Savory Spice Shop is also another option. I love their Pikes Peak all purpose seasoning.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        Spicewalla has some wonderful gift boxes and their herbs and spices are amazing. A gift box from a local chocolate/candy company is always a nice gift to receive as well.

    2. Ranon*

      Arbor teas for tea, Zingermans for treats of all sorts, Miami Fruit is fun for tropical fruit, La Tienda for tinned seafood and Spanish delicacies, Rancho Gordo for beans if they like to cook, Delta Blues has some cool rice gift packs

      Honestly Harry and David pears are pretty great too

    3. Skates*

      I sent my best friend a cheese and beer pairing box from Murray’s in Brooklyn last year because she Covid-eloped and when I finally saw her and her husband 9 months later they were both still talking about how much they loved it.

      1. Clisby*

        I love getting presents of food and/or wine. I’m at an age where I just don’t want more stuff (OK, I’ll take a $15,000 Persian rug), and it’s nice to be treated to a kind of luxury food/drink item that I enjoy and then it’s gone.

        1. SunnyStreets*

          This, exactly. I’m working on gift ideas for people who don’t need or want anything specific, and they definitely don’t want more stuff.

    4. Llellayena*

      Teas, hot chocolates, spices, honeys, jams/jellies, those recipe-in-a-mason-jar things, fancy/unusual candy, snacks from a different culture…can you tell I’ve tried similar gifting themes?

      If you have a World Market near you, they have a ton of “make your own gift basket” items. Theming something like a fancy coffee, a packet of cookies/crackers, a good jam and a piece of chocolate can sometimes be better than 6 different coffee flavors.

      I’ve seen companies that put together gift boxes of regional foods (Japan and England seem to be popular). If you are living in an area with its own regional food, sending something related to that would be nice (New Orleans=pralines, Vermont=maple syrup, etc.)

      1. SunnyStreets*

        Thanks for the World Market tip – great idea! And I like the idea of a regional food box as well!

      2. Baby Maybe*

        Yes! I did something like this the last time we Went Home – but it was just groceries from our Small European Country that read as bizarre back home. Biscoff spread (it’s just cookies in a jar!), breakfast cereal, that one type of biscuit they’re all obsessed with here…

        Might something like that work for you?

    5. fposte*

      If glass jars aren’t a bar, I love flights of honey. Moonshine Trading/Z Specialty Foods do some great ones.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Partly that depends on where you are shipping to and from. Chocolates melt so easily…
      If you feel like being extravagant and have access to an Indian or Middle Eastern market, saffron is a glorious treat for a foodie.

      1. SunnyStreets*

        I’m in the Nashville, TN area. Good point about chocolates melting, since I’m in the south and you never know how long it’ll be hot around here.

    7. Let me be dark and twist*

      If they’re drinkers, consider a booze flight! Find a place where you can mix and match to build your own collection of whatever the recipient’s taste is (wine, beer, liquor). If you get mini bottles or single-serving beers, it can be quite fun. Just make sure to wrap them well for shipping.

      I do this for my grandfather at Christmas. He’s a big scotch drinker so I pick up all kinds of mini-bottles of scotch from the ABC stores around me and make a gift box out of it for him.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      For tea: Tea Forte, The Whistling Kettle, and The Republic of Tea all sell small sampler packs, which are a good way to discover new types. (I currently drink a lot of Iron Goddess of Mercy and Purple tea from the second; I like the cardamom tea from the third.)

      For chocolate I’d recommend a local purveyor, as that will probably be different from what the recipients have locally. A store near me does dried fruit and nut mixes as well. (Working off the key to delight being half that something is good, half that something is new.)

      Having just returned from Santa Fe, I will recommend Kakawa Chocolate House for excellent chocolate, including traditional style drinking chocolate.

      1. SunnyStreets*

        Yes – the small sampler packs sound great! Thanks for the tips! And I’ll search around to see if we have any local folks for chocolate – good idea! (And I’ll be checking out Kakawa, for myself!!)

      1. SunnyStreets*

        That sounds amazing. Any specific places you like to get it from? We have a lot of cheese lovers in our family so this could work well.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          We usually just load up at Woodman’s (a local grocery store) because it’s super cheap (and very very good), but if you are restricted to ordering online, Carr Valley Cheese is very good.

          In fact, it’s the cheese I wish I had hidden from my allegedly lactose-intolerant inlaws when they stayed at our house for our wedding. (Do not do this. Do not let people stay with you when you get married.)

          They filled up on the Carr Valley, which is $16-22/lb, during their 4:00 cocktail hour, instead of eating supper.

          Marieke Gouda is also very good cheese. There are so many small producers, too, but right now, I don’t know of an online shop that sources from a variety of makers.

          1. allathian*

            Aged cheese is the one dairy product most lactose intolerant people are able to tolerate, because the maturing process converts most of the lactose into lactic acid. That said, hosting guests when you just got married sounds like a bad idea…

    9. Writer Worries*

      Dollar Tea Club! (I haven’t purchased from them yet, but plan to.) They have over 40 different blends of loose leaf tea to chose from, and you can get small sample bags for $1 each. It might be fun to send 10 samples, a diffuser, and a few honey sticks or something like that.

      Note: Their website is not user friendly at all and it takes forever to find where to look at their products. Start here: https://www.theteaclub.com/product-category/loose-leaf-tea/

    10. GoryDetails*

      I’ve been enjoying the Sakuraco Japanese snack-boxes featuring different themes each month; not all of the snacks are to my taste, but most of them are, and even the too-weird-for-me ones were interesting. If any of your friends are into adventurous snacking it might be worth a shot. [Alternately, if you have international food stores near you, you might be able to make up your own gift box for less money.]

      ’tis also the season for themed countdown-to-Christmas calendars, many of which include foods; I’ve seen many with chocolate, some with tea, pricier ones with wine or other types of booze… and at least one with different-flavored marshmallows (From XO Marshmallows, I think)! The Bonne Maman one has teeny jars of jam or honey behind each window – I got one of those for me, from the local Hallmark store, but they tend to go out of stock pretty quickly.

    11. Laura Petrie*

      I’m in the UK and visited a Penzey’s store when I was on holiday in the US a few years ago. I was in heaven, I bought so many blends to take home. I’d be delighted to receive some as a gift.

    12. SlinkoBeast*

      See’s Candy. Everyone I have ever sent it to has been SO happy. (Now I want some.) A cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory (esp. if the recipients don’t have one nearby). Best of all: Armadillo Droppings, the absolute most wonderful pralines I have ever had. Get them straight from the makers in Texas (not from Amazon, etc., where they may have been sitting around for a while). Expensive and expensive to ship, but they are amazing.

    13. Aealias*

      What’s local to you?

      When I was on the west coast, good candied salmon was a favourite food-treat to ship. Now I’m in the prairies, Saskatoon teas, chokecherry jellies, fancy local honeys are go-tos. If you live somewhere where you can legally ship alcohol, the products of local breweries and vintners can be a great way to introduce something unfamiliar. Locally roasted coffee is often popular.

      When a friend got sick last fall, and our local post offices were locked down, I went online and shipped them some of my favourite tea from Thaytea.com (I love their Earl Grey Cream) and a book from Powell’s in Portland. The gifts were appreciated, as was the support of localized, non-chain businesses. (Since the US Postal Service was so badly slowed down, they arrived after my friend had recovered, but they were still appreciated!)

  24. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Any suggestions on what to do while people are touring your house? Especially if you’re a homebody.

    My house has been on the market for almost 2 months and I’ve run out of places to go/errands to do. The only Starbucks in town is at the mall and Panera requires you to purchase something before you can camp out in the cafe but I need to cut down on spending after blowing up my budget on vacation. The neighborhood isn’t a walkable place either (one of the reasons why I am moving). The local library doesn’t have any loungy spaces and there’s no bookstore in town.

    Am I doomed to sit in a parking lot till my house gets sold?

    1. WellRed*

      Walk around in the mall? Bring your own coffee and camp out at the food court? Go to McDonald’s and spend a dollar for a drink and read a book there?

      1. twocents*

        Seconding this. Mall walking is pretty popular where I’m at, and it’d be easy to pop in a podcast and do a few laps.

    2. Llellayena*

      Does it have to be your neighborhood you walk? Find a nice downtown area to walk around or a neighborhood you want to/wish you could live in. Are you house hunting while you’re selling? Use the time to check out other open houses?

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I would probably drive to the next town over to sit in their library, but I know some places, that’s a real long way away.
      Are there any museums within an easy drive? Are you a member of a church/temple/mosque that would let you be there? Yarn shops that let people crochet there? The pandemic really does complicate a lot of this!

    4. Chilipepper attitude*

      I just went through this. IDK why it is so hard to figure out what to do but it is!
      I hope you get good answers. We would up parking down the road and sitting the car after we exhausted all the other options. Partly because we had a dog with us.
      Best of luck selling!

    5. AGD*

      To escape construction noise a while back, I gathered a pile of books I didn’t want anymore and went in search of Little Free Libraries. Some are on the official registry map online, but most aren’t, so I picked neighborhoods with lots of individual houses and plenty of kids and went looking.

      1. Chilipepper attitude*

        that is such a good idea!
        Geocashing might fit the bill too but without the added bonuses of getting rid of items you probably don’t want to move and helping others by donating the books.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Good plan! Side note: the BookCrossing site – which lets people register individual books with tracking information in hopes of hearing from future readers down the line – has listings for local “release zones,” and many of us leave those books at Little Free Libraries and other book-swap shelves. Those listings may include LFLs that aren’t on the official maps.

        1. AGD*

          Wow, I was a member of BookCrossing nearly twenty years ago! This makes so much sense and is a super helpful tip about LFLs as well. Now, I wonder what my BookCrossing username was…hmm…

    6. Purple Cat*

      Is there a high school track you can walk around?
      Random kids sports events you can watch just to pass the time?

    7. GoryDetails*

      Maybe a silly question, but do you HAVE to leave your house? I imagine it’d be very uncomfortable to sit there while people are making judgments about your home, but unless you’re required to be away perhaps you could set up a little reading-or-other-media nook in an out of the way corner and nest there?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes. The seller is expected to leave the house. I think it would be weird and awkward if you didn’t.

        That said I’ve driven my car up the street a few houses and sat in my car – on the phone or reading a book.

    8. PollyQ*

      Go for a drive? Maybe out to the countryside, if you’re near-ish one, or even just meandering through cities/neighborhoods you don’t often visit.

  25. Dwight Schrute*

    Any Ted Lasso fans here? I just started watching it and I love it. Ted is so positive and happy without crossing into toxic positivity that he just makes me smile the whole time I watch the show.

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Yes! Just binged it myself this week. I was so happy it was completely worth all the hype I’d heard about, and then some. It was definitely a breath of fresh air in today’s world. I love that it’s funny without being mean. Laughed a lot and that was exactly what I needed this week.

      The Christmas episode from Season 2 is probably my favorite.

      1. I take tea*

        Funny and not mean? Sounds nice, but a couple of questions: How big part of it generally is the sport? I’m extremely uninterested in sports generally and if it’s much about that, it’s not for me. And if it’s a guy leading a male soccer team – are there any more than token women in it? The cast looks very male, and I’m just tired of watching stuff with mostly men. I feel invisible.

        1. fposte*

          There are more men because it’s a sports team, but the women are pivotal rather than token, and they’re excellently written. It’s perfectly possible to watch the show and enjoy it without knowing any details about the sport beyond a ball goes places and some people really care.

        2. Let me be dark and twisty*

          There’s very little sporty-sport stuff (maybe like 5 mins per episode on average?) and the rest of the sporty stuff is more about the personal dynamics and relationships between all the teammates. It reminded me a lot of how they did Friday Night Lights (tv show) where it’s more focused on relationships than football. Also they do a really great job explaining all the sports stuff so I found it easy to follow along.

          And I’ll be honest here. The women completely surprised me. It was very refreshing how they wrote the women and you feel their presence well throughout the show. It definitely passes the Bechedel Test.

          Why don’t you just watch an episode or two to see for yourself? No harm done if you don’t like it and two episodes is a little over an hour (episodes are about 35 mins each).

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I adore it. The next time I have a sick day or random day off, I’m planning to rewatch it all. It’s SO GOOD.

    3. It's Quarantime!*

      I’ve started watching it with my parents. :)
      They’d have already marathoned their way through the whole thing if they hadn’t promised to watch it with me.
      All I heard about it was how wholesome and amusing the show is, so I was caught completely off guard by the language choices. No “wholesome” show in the US could drop multiple f-bombs and still be wholesome.
      That said, despite the colorful vocabulary, it really is a lovely cast and concept. (So far)

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Hmm … I was thinking to suggest this to my parents. They are more procedural fans than sitcoms, but the f-bombs might be a turn off. OTOH my SIL expressed surprise that my parents are watching Big Sky apparently bloody violence (?). I avoid recommending overly violent or sexual shows to my parents because they’re not fans of that either.

    4. Frankie Bergstein*

      I adore everything about this show. I can’t wait for the next season! I am now listening to the soundtrack on Spotify and getting Ted Lasso memes via Instagram to try to tide me over. So good and so innovative.

    5. Elle Woods*

      LOVE Ted Lasso. I’ve had the Roy Kent cheer stuck in my head for a few weeks now. Season 2 is even better than season 1.

  26. Dwight Schrute*

    Light recommendations for SAD? With the cooler and darker weather coming I’d like to invest in one so I can get some sunlight even on dreary days.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I have heard good things about the baseball-caps-with-lights. Plop it on your head as you are getting ready for the day and it gives you an extra hour of “sunlight.”

      1. justareader*