weekend open thread – November 6-7, 2021

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. Told in the first person plural, these are the stories of a group of Japanese women who came to America as brides after World War I. Short and powerful.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,397 comments… read them below }

  1. WoodswomanWrites*

    My ancient carpeting had a lot of stains. I had it professionally cleaned. I’m chemically sensitive and wanted to use something environmentally friendly, so I had it cleaned using Oxifresh. Alas, as often happens with carpet cleanings, I’m noticing a few spots starting to reappear about three months later. There’s no question that overall it still is way better than before, and I want to keep it that way. Any suggestions for treating the spots? As a renter, I can’t replace the carpeting.

    1. Joie De Vivre*

      Simple Green is an enzyme cleaner that may be able to get out grease and biological stains

      Anti-icky poo is an enzyme cleaner for pet stains.

      I’m sensitive to smells and can tolerate both cleaners. But ymmv.

        1. Joie De Vivre*

          I’ve used it on clothing and on fabric car seats and it didn’t. But that is a good point, if you decide to try it, test it in an inconspicuous place first.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Yes, I used it once and had the same response. It’s a challenge with most cleaners–they typically have strong scents that cause my eyes to water and make me cough.

    2. Reba*

      I have a great carpet cleaner device that I use mainly for pet mishaps, a Bissell Little Green. They sell various cleaning liquids to go with them, and they publish all the ingredients and MSDS on their site. Some people also use DIY cleaning liquids.

      1. Love WFH*

        Nature’s Miracle enzymatic cleaner is astonishing on removing smells, and I’ve never had it discolor what I’ve used it on. You’re supposed to soak the carpet and the pad underneath, then let it dry slowly.

        1. Wombats and Tequila*

          I use Nature’s Miracle for pet stains and it works quite well. I’m not find of the smell, but it dissipates pretty quickly.

          Since smell is a kind of stain, Spray N Wash works pretty well also.

          For natural alternatives, try vinegar with water, which we have to use for our rabbit when he gets in the mood to overhang his fuzzy butt over the edge of his litter box, and that works well. You can also try hydrogen peroxide.

    3. Girasol*

      After we lost our elder cat, who had been making spots on the carpet when his food didn’t agree with him or he couldn’t remember where his cat box was, we cleaned the carpets really well. A couple months later some of the spots came back. I cleaned them with a Rug Doctor rented from the grocery and that did the trick. I used the usual cleaner but I imagine you could use one of the more natural alternatives suggested here and just use the Rug Doctor to be sure it gets well into the carpet and the dirty residue gets pulled out. The rental cost isn’t much.

    4. Edwina*

      I have exactly the same situation. I read somewhere that what’s happening is there’s a little residue of the soap left behind and that’s what attracts the dirt. The key is to rinse and rinse and rinse. (Of course, who has time for that?) But you might try cleaning one of the spots and this time rinsing as thoroughly as you can? Just a thought.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        We were going on a vacation once, and Husband decided to do that. He used the Rug doctor, with Folex (I love that stuff, it got red lipstick smears- from my toddlers- out of several square feet of carpeting) and then he ran it with a bit of vinegar in the rinse, about 3 times. It took forever to do, but when we got home, the carpeting was perfect.

  2. acmx*

    Wow, a book recommendation I’ve read! And enjoyed. (I don’t typically read the family/people dramas).

    What’s everyone else reading?

    I currently have Cone Fly With Me checked out but haven’t started it.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I was doing so well with my reading goals this year but lost momentum over the past few weeks. I’ve been watching the HBO adaptation of His Dark Materials so I’m thinking I might reread The Golden Compass to get myself motivated again

    2. Pam*

      Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki. A trans violinist, a desl with the devil, and a doughnut shop run by aliens. Amazing and heartwarming.

    3. Eden*

      Been devouring Le Guin books recently. Currently on Worlds of Exile and Illusion, first 2 down and City of Illusions still to go. She is just so dang good! It’s also inspired me to branch out a little more into SF so The Female Man is next (with maybe a fantasy romp break in between).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames”
        It’s been a bad week, so I’m spending a little bit of time walking with Lara Maiklem. I’ve been allowing myself ever-smaller doses since getting it for Christmas 2019, but now is what I saved it for.

        1. Mudlark and Seaglass*

          Do you watch her Youtube channel? I find her soothing and her interest in clay pipes fun and there are some other mudlarks on Youtube. I also like the sea glass people as well.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        The Vanishing Half is great.

        Did Alison ever recommend it? I know she enjoys novels about complicated families.

      2. LouAnn*

        I loved the Vanishing Half. The themes of identity, escape, doubling fascinated me!
        I am reading A Gentleman in Moscow. So far it’s a gently beautiful
        descriptive tale where not much of import has happened—but I fear it will! I am also enjoying some quick read mysteries by Ruth Ware. I love British mysteries!

    4. JustForThis*

      A while back, I came across a Tamora Pierce appreciation thread in one of the weekend open threads, remembered that I had dearly loved her Alanna books as a kid (decades ago) and started reading one of her newer series. I loved it (partly because, to my surprise and utter delight, I “met” Alanna again as a grown woman), have since reread the original Alanna series and have read the Immortals, the Protector of the Small, the Circle of Magic, the Circle Opens, the Circle Reforged (all of these are four book series, so about 24 (short) novels in maybe six weeks?!), am now on the first Trickster book and realised yesterday, somewhat sad, that there are not that many books left for me to devour. This has been an intense, enormously pleasurable reading journey!

        1. JustForThis*

          I’ve never done such an extended reading spree with one author’s books before — it has been a really special few weeks. I want to thank everyone on the original Tamora Pierce thread very much indeed for guiding me towards her again. It felt like coming home.

      1. CaptainMouse*

        I love Tamora Pierce though I’m too old to have read her as a child and have read everything as an adult. Her Beka Cooper books take place much earlier in the timeline and are wonderful. Terrier is the first of three.

        1. JustForThis*

          I’m glad that there are still a few to look forward to. I don’t even know why her books have me so hooked, but I guess it’s a mix of childhood nostalgia and interesting characters in mostly (except for the antagonists) generous, loving, supportive relationships. I also think that the Alanna series, written in the 1980s, has held up surprisingly well with only very few passages that one would expect to be framed differently were it written now.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Tempests and Slaughter” was one of the few prequel novels I’ve truly enjoyed, and I’m watching for Numair’s book 2.

      3. TiffIf*

        If you are into fanfiction, there’s an excellent novel length one that takes place after Lady Knight (but has some spoilers for the Trickster’s duology so only read after). Lady Knight Volant by bracketyjack (on AO3).

    5. BBQHonk*

      Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts. Nothing like a 900-page biography to curl up in bed with at the end of the day!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Just finished the latest Donna Andrews bird mystery and the Six of Crows duology. Reading a Firefly-verse novel from the library (Life Signs) from a new series that seems to be based on the outline of the second season that didn’t happen.

      Also picked up “The Light Ages” on Medieval science, after the author was on You’re Dead To Me.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      I just finished Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha. Wow! I’d been avoiding because I thought it might be sad/depressing (because it’s about racism and violence on black people and injustice (BLM)) but I really enjoyed it. It actually ended up being hopeful but not unrealistically so.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      I just started The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, about the origins of the Ebola Virus and the Reston incident.
      It’s terrifying but engrossing. Planning on reading the other three books in the series (Dark Biology)
      Just finished a mystery book in the Tourist Trap series, and was not happy with it. The writing was just meh, and it was written from the first person, and that person was kind of obnoxious.

      1. matcha123*

        I remember reading that in 6th grade after a movie inspired by the book came out. Really interesting read. Although my elementary school librarian had a mini heart attack over the title when she saw me with the book…

    9. My Brain Is Exploding*

      “Reading While Black” by Esau McCaulley, a book about Black biblical interpretation. I’m one chapter in. It’s a bit too scholarly to be an easy read for me, but it has great content!

    10. the cat's ass*

      Am immersed in “Project Hail Mary.”by Andrew Weir, who also wrote the martian. Pretty good.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I haven’t read that one, but his Artemis is excellent too – it’s a heist caper in a lunar colony :)

      2. Sara*

        Ah, I missed this but I just finished it. Definitely immersing! I stayed up way way too late finishing it last night.

      3. TiffIf*

        I really enjoyed Project Hail Mary! I didn’t like Artemis, but adore The Martian.
        Project Hail Mary also has like the best ever telling/handling of a particular sci-fi trope that I have ever seen.

    11. Astoria*

      I just started Called out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice. I am aware that she ended up leaving the Catholic church over disagreement with some of its stances and the abuse scandal.

      I am interested in Christian conversion memoirs by former skeptics I have already read Mere Christianity.

      1. AlabamaAnonymous*

        Have you read the Case for Christ by Lee Stroebel? I don’t know if that quite fits what you’re looking for but I’ve heard it’s very good.

        1. Astoria*

          Thanks, that is the kind of thing I am looking for.

          I am open to exploring conversions to other religions as well.

        2. Lobsterman*

          I read it. It was a bizarre dichotomy; Stroebel was totally convinced, but his honesty in reporting his journey made it clear that his case was worthless. Very odd read.

        3. beentheredonethat*

          traveling mercies by anne lamott
          run baby run nicky cruz book
          Conversion by Malcolm Muggeridge
          What If It’s True?: A Storyteller’s Journey with Jesus Kindle Edition by Charles Martin
          Take This Bread A Radical Conversion By Sara Miles

          1. Jackalope*

            Take This Bread was amazing and surprised me with how wonderful and thoughtful it was. I also like her other stuff.

      2. Dawbs*

        I don’t try to sell folks anything, but if conversion arguments are your bag, consider “letters from a skeptic’ by greg boyd.

        It was convincing to me 20 years ago. Less so now.

      3. Carol the happy elf*

        I love C.S. Lewis, and Narnia. For fictional stories of Christian conversion, they are amazing. “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, where Eustace needs Aslan to help him return to his original form is especially powerful.
        I also love reading Blaise Pascal. Pascal’s Wager made a big impression on me.

    12. Sara*

      I just finished the audiobook of “Project: Hail Mary” and loved it. Andy Weir’s maybe not to everyone’s liking but I think this one was better than “Artemis”. And has some definite similarities to “The Martian”, but goes deeper in terms of basically everything but especially character development. It doesn’t have the conceit of being mostly told through log recordings, so really allows more character exploration of the main character.

    13. GoryDetails*

      Several good ones recently, including:

      The Binding by Bridget Collins: a historical-fantasy-romance in which “books” consist of the mystically-transcribed memories of people who no longer want to remember (or who are coerced into giving or selling their memories on the darker side of the “binding” trade).

      Intrusions by Ursula Hegi: a novel about a woman who’s writing a novel, switching between the character’s scenes (which often get rearranged at the author’s whim) and the author’s own thought processes, including interruptions from spouse, children, and life in general. A very entertaining look at writing as it might appear to a working author.

      The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne, a 6’7″ weight-lifter who’s also a working librarian – and who has Tourette syndrome. The book switches between “day in the life of a librarian” scenes and personal memoirs about his youth and adolescence.

    14. Jackalope*

      I’m reading Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. It’s the last book of 55 I have to read for a library competition and I’m enjoying it so far. I hadn’t been looking forward to it since I tend to dislike books set around the time of famous wars but it’s not as related to the war as I’d thought it might be.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I loved that one. I thought zombies were pretty done but her take was fresh and interesting. I recommend the follow-up book Deathless Divide, which jumps a few years forward. Over those years, the characters have changed and grown.

        I happened to be reading this book on January 6th, so the revanchist elements hit pretty hard.

    15. acmx*

      Turns out it’s actually titled Come Fly the World (but there’s a similar theme book called Come Fly with Me as it’s mentioned in this one).
      It’s okay. Interesting info but not all that coherently written.

  3. Anon and alone*

    To those with straight hair, do you ever curl it and, if so, how? I’ll go first.
    I use a variation on rag curls I found on YouTube. You start off with those $1 foam rollers, take the plastic out, and replace it with a strip of rag. The strip of rag is to hold the curler in place. It’s not too bad to sleep in.
    (The video title is DIY Comfy Rag Curl Rollers | Vintage Hair Chronicles with Vicky Bermudez) and I’m in the process of making curlers out of those foam sheets you can get in the dollar store (courtesy of “The Long-Haired Flapper”). If interested, I’ll let you know how they work.

    1. Pam*

      I gave up on curls as a kid. I was famous in my family for my picture day curls flattening out before I walked the three blocks to school.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I have this same hair. Around college, I gave up on trying to do anything other than “pin straight” as a loose hairstyle. (My daughter inherited her dad’s “straight but with body” hair and once tried to do something with my hair, and quickly concluded “You’re right, it doesn’t want to do anything.”)

      2. Lore*

        I had hair exactly like that until
        I was almost forty and then it started changing and now I have wavy-to-frizzy hair that I have no idea how to handle. It’s also gotten darker over the years and some days I feel like my hair has been replaced by aliens. I look in the mirror and barely recognize it!

      3. Anon and alone*

        I hear you on the stick straight hair. Up until the age of 10 I had long straight hair. Then it was cut for “medical reasons” which I’m still not clear on. For the longest while it wouldn’t hold even a wave, but now that I’m older (and maybe it’s thinned out) it holds a wave or curl better.

      4. TexasTeacher*

        Same. I even tried perms the 80’s but the front of my hair wouldn’t even keep a salon-done perm. Pitiful.

    2. allathian*

      Now that my hair’s long, it’s naturally wavy. I’ve never had the patience to curl it myself, although both of my grandmothers slept in their curlers… After I started earning my own money at 17, I had it permed a few times in my late teens and early twenties.

    3. Holiday Prep*

      Manes by Mell on YouTube has some delightful tutorials that I’ve used extensively during COVID. My hair is naturally curly but it doesn’t follow the rules of the curly girl method (sigh). I had my best results ever today by leaving in most of my regular conditioner (Leaf + Flower brand), just washing it out of the immediate root area, and then adding a handful of plain Pantene mousse and distributing throughout my hair. I curled and dried it all, used a touch of almond oil to break up the clumps and add shine, slept overnight in a satin bonnet, and woke up to Victoria’s Secret bombshell volume hair. Only took 18 months of experimenting lol.

      I have low porosity hair so it’s dang near impossible to get enough moisture in there. Especially in a dry climate. Leaving in my regular conditioner and just really squeezing it in helped it all absorb so my hair doesn’t look or feel weighed down.

      Curls are a journey so treating it like an experiment will hopefully keep it fun instead of frustrating. Good luck!

    4. Asenath*

      Never. Well, almost never. When I was a teenager, I went through a period when I longed to have curly hair, which to my mind was quite reasonable and not entirely a result of wanting what I couldn’t have, since some of my relatives had inherited curly hair. But mine was so determined to stay straight that all my efforts produced rather ugly curls that immediately went limp and flat. I suppose I could have gone for some kind of perm, but I didn’t have much money, and my mother, who might have funded it, was not in favour of perms for young girls on the grounds that they damaged the hair. The sister who had, to my envy, inherited the family curly hair hated it because it frizzed up whenever it rained or even got a bit damp. At least mine didn’t do that.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’ve noticed that the grass is always greener. Girls with straight hair want curls, and girls with curly hair long for straight hair.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Irish wave? lol I’ve never heard of that and I’m Irish. Is it kind of wavy, kind of straight? Maybe I have it without knowing. If I let my hair dry naturally it’ll be almost curly but not ringlet-y, but if I blow- dry it it’ll be kind frizzy and annoying. And it takes ages to straighten with sraighteners.

        1. Cimorene*

          Not always :) I have curly hair and I have always loved it. But I also have fine hair and loose curls to wavy ( no idea what curl type that is) so it’s also pretty manageable which helps.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I envy you. My mom would put me in a headlock right before Easter and Christmas and inflict Grievous Smelly Perms on me all through my late childhood.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          Oh, I remember that. Only it was Grandma, not Mom, and the headlock was serious business. Holiday hairdos, sausage curls, she called them, made with strips of rag about 3 feet long. I disliked the procedure and hated the effect, so in family photos, I looked like a demented little version of “Shirley Temple meets Chucky”.

    5. Meh*

      Stick straight hair of steel. It’s super long and needs a big chop (maybe 2 feet). I really want a chin length perm but I can’t find anyone in my area doing them (with picture results).

      The tube rollers that look like foam perm rods work for cold curling. They are terrible to sleep in though. I’d have good hair buy look a wreck! Heat curls just fall out and both dont last if there’s there’s whisper of humidity.

    6. londonedit*

      Nope, I also have straight hair that absolutely refuses to even hold a wave, let alone any sort of curl! As a child in the 80s I was desperate for crimped hair but even that just used to drop out after an hour or so!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Remember perms? Haha, I used to do that all the time, everything from shorter poodle hair to long curls like Rose in Titanic. They stunk and were terrible for your hair, but I loved having actual curls. I do have a natural wave, especially if I coax it, but it tends more toward frizz.

      Nowadays, I let my hair air dry halfway after washing, put it in a ponytail with a scrunchie, twist it, pin it down, and then sleep on that. In the morning, I take it out and have curly beachy waves that last for a few days and I only have to barely style it. If it frizzes I smooth a very light application of that Garnier Moroccan Oil stuff on from mid-length to the ends.

      I tried rag rollers made out of an old t-shirt in high school. It worked, but BOY, were they uncomfortable to sleep on!

      1. Anon and alone*

        Perm stink, I remember it well. I stopped getting perms after one unfortunate incident in high school. Picture a tiny, skinny white girl with a clown wig in black on top. Guess which picture they used for the high school reunion? Yeah, that one.

        1. Random Biter*

          I’ve always had really curly hair with a mind of its own. Today, I keep it very short to fight the cowlicks and tendency to do what it wants regardless of what I have in mind. Back in the day, when Toni perms were the thing for little girls, my mom inflicted one on me. I had the very first white kid blow out. ::sigh:: a mini Angela-Davis-circa-early 70’s blowout. In the late 50’s. But after receiving my Ancestry DNA results I think I’m seeing why :) As a teen I longed for the long, straight hair that was the fashion in the late 60’s/early 70’s and damned near fried my hair to a crisp ironing it. The things we do..

      2. Bethlam*

        Why “remember perms?” Both my sister and I, both with stick straight limp hair, still get perms. My hairdresser is brilliant at it.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I remember really bad home perms that lasted only a few weeks. I never splurged on professionally done perms, I imagine they were better than the home chemicals back then and probably way better today. Back in the late 80s I was so jealous of my friend who would get spiral perms done at the salon. Her hair was just gorgeous.

          I’m guessing my coarse-texture straight hair wouldn’t have held a salon perm much better than home ones, but the stylist probably would have coached me on how to maintain it. I’ve only ever had luck with a curling iron, tons of product in the hair, and tons of hairspray and pins to keep the style, and even that was just for a few hours (prom, my wedding, friend’s wedding party). I love the look but not enough to put in the hours of prep time and all that stuff in my hair.

          The irony is, I have straight enough hair that it combats almost every attempt to curl it, but enough of a wave that I occasionally have to use a straight iron to fight my bangs into submission. Can’t complain about the volume though, I’ve never had my hair lay flat even when that was all the rage except when it was Marcia Brady long and therefore heavy enough to weight itself down.

    8. CTT*

      I do hot rollers when I have longer hair. They brush out well and I like that I can do other things while I wait for them to cool down.

      1. Windchime*

        In high school (in the late 70’s) I had Farrah Fawcett hair. Mine was brown, not blonde. Anyway, I had a set of hot rollers that a friend gave me but they only had 6 rollers. So I had to curl one side of my hair, wait for it to cool, take it out, reheat the rollers and then do the other side. It took forever to get ready for school but it was worth it because — Farrah Fawcett!

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          Oh my gosh! I had the Farrah Fawcett hair in ‘77-‘78! Brown hair, too. It was such a popular hairstyle back then. I remember having “wings” cut along the front and top and lots of hairspray. Mine was never as thick and flowing as hers. I read somewhere that her hairstyle was very time-consuming to do, though.

    9. Clisby*

      Yes, I curl my shoulder-length hair every time I wash it (about once a week). I use the old-fashioned pin-curl method. Towel dry hair after washing, comb it out. Working all over my head, I pull up a small lock of hair, twist it, make a little coil of it, and pin it in place (use large bobby pins.) For the most curl, I do this just before bedtime and sleep on it. For less curl, I blow it dry after washing. Larger locks of hair will make a looser curl, smaller ones a tighter curl.

      I do this because my hair is much easier to style after curling it – braiding or putting up my stick-straight hair inevitably ends up with the do just falling apart. The curl/waviness loosens over the week, but it gives my hair a lot more body.

    10. Apt Nickname*

      When I was younger I had stick-straight hair that refused to do just about anything that involved curls. For my wedding I got a perm (two kits!) and then the morning of I hot-rollered it and hairsprayed it. I actually got curls that lasted all day!

      After my second kid my hair went slightly wavy and I’m actually a little indignant that I HAVE to do something with it if I don’t want it to look wonky.

    11. Theatre girl in an office world*

      I have super curl resistant hair (curls fall out in less than 5 minutes), and also do theatre. The only thing that has ever worked for me is the steam curlers. I bought the Richard Caruso molecular thing off a tv commercial in 1990 and it still works although I have had to replace some of the rollers because the foam wore out. Best $19.95 I ever spent.

      For long wear (aka an evening out with clubbing) I would wash my hair and put product in it and let it completely dry and then steam curl it and let it cool completely before removing the rollers and finger style.

    12. Rebecca Stewart*

      I’ve given it a shot when doing historical hairstyles and it does work but I have to handle the curls VERY gently. I gave up and used an equally historical solution: fake hair pieces.

      My hair is heavy and straight and it has about three styles you can do with it: You can buzz it short (which is what my son does) you can wear a straight bob, (which is what my mother does) or you can grow it long enough to roll into a bun, with braided variations on the bun, which is what I do.

    13. Kay*

      Depending on what look I wanted:
      For beachy bed head – after an evening shower use thick leave in conditioner, wrap my hair in a towel with a twist at the front, and sleep on it. This would get me the most volume, but the most unpredictable outcome.
      For a mildly more tamed wave – use above method, only put into braids or twists, then wrap in a towel (which could be like above or more low key) & sleep. In the morning I could do some mild maintenance with a curling iron (size depending on how my hair came out) to fix any inconsistencies.
      My personal favorite is to use a 2 inch iron, without a ton of product, which will relax to get more of a wave that looks more polished.
      I’ve tried the pin it method (too much hair), hot rollers (too much work and always burning something – plus with the amount of hair I have it also required supplemental rollers or curling), soft rollers (just didn’t do well), curling wands, different products, etc. and prefer the going to bed with it wet, or the 2 in curler method the best.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.
    I am still on my chill project for busy weeks, where I’ve mostly been cleaning up some really awkward dialogue. Now the characters sounds more like human beings rather than aliens attempting to disguise themselves as human beings.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      After a long break, I added a new post to my blog. Other things in my life got in the way of creative expression for too long. I’ve always preferred blogging to a site that just shares photos, because my photography feels incomplete without the written part. The words add the story.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I keep saying I need to add a post to my blog, but I can’t seem to get myself to do it. It’s been about eight months now and I keep wondering if I should just abandon it. It’s really just a personal blog.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I have a blog site that was originally part professional creative work / part personal that over time became only personal. It’s so neglected at this point that shutting it down makes sense. I am not motivated to write at all. But I’ve had my own site/blog presence for 20 years! Shutting it down is a hit to my identity even though the era of personal sites has largely passed. And there’s some really good stuff in there, too! What do I do with it?

        2. WoodswomanWrites*

          Mine is pretty open (it’s the same name as my handle here), sometimes focusing on my nature photography, sometimes on social justice, or travel. I went about a year without posting anything and I’m excited about adding to it more frequently now.

          The key for me has been letting go of “shoulds,” like I have to do this or that with it. It was easy to put constraints on myself. I’ve realized that it’s no big deal to let it go for an extended period if I didn’t feel motivated. I’ve also come to thinking that it doesn’t have to be sequential. I have notes and photos from a trip to Badlands National Park years ago, and I’m finally going to post those. It’s been freeing to let go of the expectations.

          I originally started my blog for friends and family and to my amazement, lots of people I’ve never met follow my blog now. I have no other personal social media presence and haven’t promoted it, so that’s been a fun surprise.

        3. DrunkAtAWedding*

          I’ve got a gaming blog I’ve kept since 2008. I write guides, or notes about games, or reviews, or rants, or just whatever I want. It’s mostly for me, but it’s stuff I think other people might find interesting/helpful and that I don’t mind them reading, which is why it’s online and not just in a word document or a spreadsheet or something. Some months, I’ve written several posts a week, or sometimes even a few in a day. Other times, I’ve gone ages without posting anything. Both seem fine to me. Is looking at your blog like that an option, like you just write when/whatever you feel like? Instead of having to choose between update vs abandon?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Most of the reason I haven’t written anything is because of physical issues–I developed chronic bursitis in my hips last year after back surgery and haven’t been able to get rid of it, even after multiple rounds of cortisone injections and other things. The idea of sitting down at all, let alone sitting down to write, is really unappealing these days. Especially since I have a desk job. The rest of it is just not feeling that urge to write, or like I have anything to say. I’ll leave it a while and see what happens. Since it’s just a personal blog and not something really focused, it’s mostly for myself anyway.

    2. Neon Dreams*

      I haven’t done much writing the past week. It’s the last week at my current position so my emotions were occupied. I’m really enjoying the fan fiction I’m working on, though. I love the couple and the concept.

    3. Maryn B.*

      I had a bad night this week and let my mind wander in the dark for a good long while. After I finally slept, I woke with a shiny new idea for a short story or perhaps a novella. All I’ve done so far is jot it down and flesh out a little of the dialogue, but it’s always exciting to have something new to work on.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t get into my writing headspace with all the no-job stress. I tried to work on my outline and just….nothing. So the conlang is about to receive a lot of attention and effort. This will probably help anyway, since it’s part of the world, and I’ll probably have a lot of story notes pop up as I go. One thing tends to feed the other.

      I’m kind of mad at myself for being so extra as to have a conlang (or even just an artlang) in the first place. What was I thinking? That’s a lot of extra work! But since Confluence came out with Essdran in it, I’m committed now.

      1. Not A Mango*

        How’s the job search going? Sending you lots of positive vibes that something good will come along soon!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had two interviews for a job I wanted very much and they went really well. But when I followed up, all I got was an OOO from the hiring manager, who is apparently on mat leave. The job is still up but I seem to have been ghosted. :'(

          The other job here ghosted me too. FML!

    5. DrunkAtAWedding*

      I’m trying to do NaNoWriMo. I’m trying a new thing. My first draft is more like a journal, in that I write down what I’m thinking, not just what is happening. Things like, what the characters understand in each scene, and what their motivations are, and what their actions might tell us about them. It feels really good (and bulks out my word count!). I’m figuring out the plot as I go and filling out the world and the characters in a really fun way. It feels like crochet, like I make a couple of points and then join them together and create a detailed pattern. For example, my main character sees an escape pod crash in the desert and she goes out to look at it. She agrees not to call the police or an ambulance when she finds an injured alien inside and instead takes him home to nurse him. Who would do that? Someone who is fiercely independent, maybe someone who has a reason to prefer to rely on themselves than to call the authorities. That then linked in with another fact about her. She’s living alone in this little desert town, trying to run the diner she inherited from her grandmother. Why was she so close to her grandmother that she’s burning out trying to keep this diner going? Where are her parents? Not dead but not around. So, putting all that together, I know that the reason why she’s so independent and the reason why she was close to her grandmother are probably the same thing. Something to do with her parents. If social services or a similar agency (my story is set on a planet the characters believe is earth but which is not, so they can be whatever agency I like) were involved in her childhood and failed her, that could also explain why her first thought is to deal with something herself rather than ask for help, and also why she absolutely understands, on a gut level, why this alien doesn’t want anyone in authority to know about them. Since this is a romance novel, it also gives me an ‘in’ to how she and the alien get to know each other. He hides out in her spare bedroom, he sees more of her life than she would usually share, he can help her to open up and get her to realise that she does have people she can trust around, she can ask for help.

      The end product is more of a very detailed outline than a first draft, but that’s something to deal with later. When I’ve tried to write long-form things before, I get stuck because I don’t know what happens next and I feel like, if it’s not in the story, I can’t write it down. So I need to figure out what’s in the story, but I can’t, so I get stuck.

      The other issue I have is realistic dialogue. A lot of the time, my characters just explain things to each other, completely see each other’s viewpoint, and agree on things, which is just not how people work. Writing this way helps me understand what each character wants or understands, which, I hope, will help me give them more realistic conversations. Plus, if I know what I want each character to know and what I want the audience to know, and I have that explicitly written down, I can think about when and what to tell/show. For instance, my first instinct was just to describe my heroine’s evening before she saw the crash. Now I’m thinking I actually need my first scene to be from the hero (the alien’s) point of view, to show why he was in a crashing escape pod (that’s another point where I joined different things together. Why did it crash when it was doing exactly what it was designed to do? Because he was piloting it manually, instead of letting the auto-pilot land it. Why was he doing that? Because it’s his own society he’s escaping/hiding from. Which is also why he’s willing to trust the heroine. His own civilisation are trying to kill him, he’s injured and alone on a foreign planet, and she has respected his wishes about not calling the police and is willing to care for him. She seems like a good option right now). If I was trying to write it without giving myself permission to freestyle and brainstorm on the page, I’d be stuck feeling like my opening scene was wrong, but not sure what to do instead. Now I know what to change, and I have an idea of what I want to reveal in the escape scene and what to conceal until later. I can also decide whether I want them to explain things to each other, or if I can show it in another way. Like, I don’t need to explain that the heroine’s grandmother died recently and left her the diner. The alien can notice that the flat above the diner is in disarray and still full of packing boxes and an old lady’s belongings. Customers can ask about the grandmother and how the heroine is holding up. Maybe the alien, not knowing earth’s (“earth’s”) social norms can accidentally do something upset, which can cause the heroine to express her emotions about it. That might not normally happen, because she lives alone but now they’re in a small space together and she can’t hide it.

      The above got really rambly, which explains what my first draft is like. But, like I was trying to say, editing it is a problem for the future, and at that point, I’ll have a better grasp of the story.

    6. Cendol*

      Added yet another rejection to my rejection pile. I’d love for some of these stories to see the light of day, but realistically I know they’re a hard sell for most magazines. So I’m wondering the best place to publish them. A personal website? AO3’s Original Works category? Patreon? What have others done? Profit is not a concern at this stage and I would probably put them up under a pseud.

      A bit late for this weekend thread so I may ask again next week. :)

      1. beep beep*

        A personal blog or Patreon coupled with promotion across Twitter/Instagram, maybe? I’m assuming you’re looking just to get eyes on your work right now, and I’ve seen authors most active across those platforms. Occasionally Tumblr (which could be the personal blog platform you use), but there’s not as large a contingent there that I’m aware of.

        If you’re posting original stuff on AO3, they do ask that it’s content “created in a fannish context”. It’s a little confusing to me, but it’s in their ToS FAQ page under “Can I archive original fiction?”. Not sure if your work would fall under that category or not, but food for thought.

    7. Rebecca Stewart*

      I had someone read a scene to see if they got what I was trying to do in it. “She’s having a migraine!” he said. “But she believes God gave her a vision,” he added.

      That makes me feel a lot better about whether or not I can pull that dichotomy off. The character, by the end of the novels, is being acclaimed as a saint. I don’t want to put genuine miracles in, but at the same time, she has reasons for her beliefs, even if modernly we would take her to a neurologist.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    For those who play Animal Crossing how are you liking the new update?
    Personally I’ve been getting back to Stardew Valley. It’s nice to just do a little day of farming here and there in between being busy.

    1. something*

      I’m enjoying the ACNH update so far, but we’ll see how long I remain into it. Part of the issue is that I don’t have a Switch of my own and my partner (understandably!) doesn’t want me making executive decisions on their island. I look forward to getting furniture from Cyrus and trying to start farming. I did manage to snag a single pack of Series 5 Amiibo cards, so I’m excited to see what I get!

      In a previous week, someone was asking me about the Great Ace Attorney. It’s pretty fun so far! Just as ridiculous as I expected. Hard to say what the difficulty will be like based on the tutorial case, but I’m hoping there’ll be some head-scratchers later on (some of the 3DS entries in the series felt very dumbed down, imo). If you’re playing on PC, I suggest using a controller; the keyboard/mouse controls aren’t reprogrammable (afaik) and they leave a lot to be desired.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        That reminds me I need to continue Great Ace Attorney Chronicles…I will say Holmes (well, Sholmes) is a bit of a twat, but he doesn’t seem to be actively malicious. Also I kind of like the Dance of Deduction, though I hope it will get more complicated as time goes on.

        1. something*

          I’m happy with Sholmes’ characterization, honestly We need SOMEONE to annoy the protagonist, right?

      2. Calm Water*

        I’m still playing Pokémon go and need a new friend to finish a bunch of the tasks. Anyone willing to add a person?


          1. Morrigan Crow*

            Think I’m on the same task – just added you (Owler), so thanks! (Happy to add others, but also need a number code)

      3. something*

        My single pack of Amiibo cards contained Faith, Frett, Chabwick, Megan, Cyd, and Gulliver. None are villagers I feel especially strongly about, but I’m happy nevertheless. I am happy with Gulliver!

    2. Bookgarden*

      I’ve been paying Metroid Dread. I’m stuck on a boss further on in and am dreading (ha) going back to it. The game wasn’t very forgiving before but right now it’s on a whole other level.

      I’m also having fun with Final Fantasy XIV. I’mb going through the game with my partner. We’re currently near the end of the second expansion story and still have an incredibly long DLC to go through after that, and at the beginning of December the biggest DLC yet will be newly released. His work schedule has been atrocious lately, so I don’t think we’re ever catching up to the level 80/90 players at this rate. It’s been so much fun taking this at our own place though, so I’m completely happy with that.

      In other game news, I was able to get an order in for the Stardew Valley board game. Speaking of Stardew, I can’t wait for Concerned Ape’s new game! The screenshots and video look amazing!

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        For what it’s worth, I took around a year to catch up to my friends in FFXIV, and I’m really glad that I went at the pace I wanted to instead of rushing. (Tbh, I probably could have gone a little slower, but pandemic+FOMO made me push harder than I wanted to lol. Kind of regret the couple things I did zoom through!) So kudos to you and your partner for going slow, I hope you enjoy the game!

        1. Bookgarden*

          Oh I don’t feel so bad now, thank you! I get the FOMO feeling. I love that the game seems fairly forgiving about that, and the players are kind and seem happy to help us when we’re new to the trials we need for the MSQ. Loving the game (especially as a huge FF nerd). I hope the DLC delay didn’t disappoint you too much!

    3. Still*

      I’ve discovered the mobile version of Stardew Valley and it’s perfect for a bit of distraction here and there. Plus there’s an option to auto-fight the monsters, which makes mining SO MUCH EASIER. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how to succeed at fishing and the mini-games with my touch screen.

    4. BBQHonk*

      Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em on Android. Scratches my poker itch, and is cheaper than going to the casino.

    5. Doctor is In*

      We’re slowly getting better at Forza Horizon 4. Actually found a barn! We still always come in last against the drivatars in races though.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      I got a 7 Wonders and Sagrada apps on the phone (got a Google Play gift card), and highly enjoying them both.

    7. Dino*

      I adore Stardew Valley! I enjoyed Harvest Moon back in the day and love that SV is practically the same but better.

      I’ve been getting back into Flight Rising. A lot has changed since I last logged in, all for the better it seems. I’m enjoying re-dressing my clan favorites, buying some of the new breeds, etc.

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      I went to board game club for the first time in about six weeks on Wednesday, and I had a great time! I played Resistance (where you have to guess the identities of people in the resistance and play to pass missions), Minion (fighting your way through a dungeon against various monsters and having items/abilities etc to support you) and Decrypto (where you have a series of words that make up various codes and have to give clues to the words for your team to guess, as well as trying to guess the opposing team’s words to solve their codes too). They were all really fun and I’m definitely looking forward to heading back there again in a couple of weeks.

    9. Jackalope*

      I’m nothing if not consistent; still moving ahead on my 3rd run-through of Fire Emblem: Three Houses!

    10. Katt*

      My Switch actually broke several weeks back and I was finally able to borrow my brother-in-law’s Switch right before Halloween. However I’ve been taking it slow so my island is still in tutorial mode and as a result I’ve been unable to take advantage of most of the new update thus far. The resident services will only become a real building the day after tomorrow, and after that I still need to get K.K. I should probably get moving on picking the rest of the weeds and sticking flowers and furniture everywhere so I can get to three stars ASAP!

      1. LimeRoos*

        Honestly, take the time to plan your island. My first Animal Crossing game was this one, at the Start of Covid, and it was amazing, but then there was a suuuuuper long break (almost 6 months? Maybe more?) and I deleted my Island to completely start over so I could terraform exactly what I wanted and plan my houses. Really because I didn’t want to have to weed everything and deal with the cockroaches in my house….and knowing what I know now about how I like to plan layouts, it was a game changer.

        But omg!!! The new content!!!! It is amazing and take your time exploring it and getting to it. It really is a game where you can take your time an do exactly what you want. I wish I knew how expansive it was item wise when I started lol. You’re kind of at the perfect place to plan what you want based on what looks really cool and/or inspiring.

        Legit though – if you like interior design or just creating living spaces, the Happy Home Island Nonsense is amazing. AMAZING. So uh, if 3 Stars is where you get that, do it. And Harv’s Island. They really open up so much more design wise.

        …I’m a fan….and inebriated….but man, I’ve put 1000+ into my first and second islands and it was all totally worth it. (Also 1000+ into Minecraft, also also, this response took almost 3 hours because I’ve been playing Diablo 2 Resurrected with Hubby & His Bestie, and I had lovely bottle of Sweet Shiraz from Sugarbird in South Africa – do recommend if you like sweet wines. It is tasty. Also goes well with aged gouda & parm and fancy pepperoni.)

    11. TechGirlSupervisor*

      Currently replaying Pathfinder: Kingmaker on my PC. I love the CRPG games in general. I played Baulder’s Gate 1 and 2 too death as a teenager (I have 2 on my steam library waiting for me to load it up again). I love all the romance plots, so I’, playing through them right now. Waiting for Wrath of the Righteous to go on sale and I’ll get it then.

    12. The Dogman*

      Dawn of War: Soulstorm and more precisely the Ultimate Apocalypse Mod.

      With the scaled down size and lifted troop limits this old game is one of the best combat RTS’s ever made.

      Just about to finish the Space Marine campaign and will have a bash at the Eldar one after that.

      Also been playing a lot of Creeper World 3 again, I really recommend it, it is an indy developer called Virgil and he is a great designer and programmer. Energy management crossed with freeform Tower Defence style of gameplay really.

    13. LimeRoos*

      Even when I don’t have overtime I’m super late to this thread XD I love the ACNH update and DLC, I’ve made 6 vacation homes and the school and it’s been so much fun. Also unlocked Leif and Reece/Cyrus on Harv’s Island. I do love how Harv & Harriet are like the school approved version of Cheech and Chong (Though, omg, the otter, Harv and him totally bowl it up). Brewsters cafe is adorable. The amount of new items in the Nook stop for Miles is amazing and will make me play more for miles. Because I need them. <3. That is all. (There's been wine, beer, vodka, and business.) Highly recommend ACNH.

    14. SparklingBlue*

      Been counting down the days to Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl–in the meantime, have been refreshing my memory of where the Pokemon are and when you get them

  6. Pam*

    I gave up on curls as a kid. I was famous in my family for my picture day curls flattening out before I walked the three blocks to school.

  7. Anon-dating*

    Wondering what other people’s deal breakers are in the dating world? I’ve just barely begun to try dating again (been single for about a year). I forgot that this is a question that comes up.

    I look for someone who is kind, generous, caring, good at communication, willing to compromise, is able to express emotions in healthy ways, independent, good conversationalist, deep thinker…

    I definitely have a baseline decent human being parameter, but what are hard nopes I should add to my list of noes?

    1. JustForThis*

      This may sound too obvious, but I think it’s still worth remembering: nope if you don’t genuinely enjoy being with them. They can be as kind, generous, caring, good at communication etc. as anyone could wish for, it’s no good if you don’t really look forward to spending time with them.

      1. Boiling water*

        Ouch. This hits home. I’m in this situation with my long time partner at the moment, I just want to see other people and do other things, not spend time together at home. Trying to figure out if it’s just a slump, brought on by being cooped up too long, or if the relationship is really more of a habit now.

    2. Lonely Aussie*

      All of their exes are crazy/psycho…. they either gaslight/manipulate/aren’t very good with boundaries or they have a *type* and that type is drama, either way they’re the common denominator and neither is a good idea.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, everyone is allowed one crappy ex. But if all your exes are crappy in the exact same way…. well, you’re the common factor.

    3. Batgirl*

      “Why do you want to pay? Ugh, are you a feminist?” That’s an actual quotation! I think your ultimate deal breakers are pretty easy to spot when they happen. One that’s been a bit more subtle, and I’ve had to come to recognize it as a deal breaker, is how they process conflict. If they deal with it angrily, or with judgy words, that’s an easy to spot dealbreaker. It’s harder to spot the person who avoids conflict and goes along to get along. I started actively looking for someone who’s open about disagreeing with me, and approaches it cheerfully and in good faith. But I think the best dating advice I got was not to focus on someone surpassing the dealbreakers, and passing a bar, but to keep looking “until you meet someone who knocks your socks off”. That was useful to keep in mind, because you meet so many terrible people, you can start just wanting to meet someone okay, and decent who “will do”.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        The last bit is very true – having a romantic partner isn’t like having a job, you don’t have to have one to keep the wolf from the door and you don’t have to settle for a mediocre one to tide you over. You only have to have the very best. So if you are rationalising to yourself or others why you don’t want to continue dating someone, you don’t have to have a Good Reason. It can be, I didn’t like his skimpy eighties european underwear*/he was a rubbish cook/he had an Nsync T-shirt on and I always preferred the Backstreet Boys/his jacket smelled of wet dog/Uranus was rising in Capri-Sun…**

        *example from life although after a short while not the first date
        **not a typo just a joke for brits of a certain age who aren’t into astrology

    4. Virginia Plain*

      For me when dating dealbreakers were:
      Believer in bad science and “woo” (homeopathy/antivax/chemtrails/refuse medicines and cure your cancer with kale juice, type stuff)
      Someone wanted not a relationship as I did, but just to get their leg over.

      Never really came up against these though fortunately. In practice the things I remember really putting me off were:
      Performance art. Apparently he would dress up in a three piece suit and bowler hat and eat breakfast from an attaché case in the centre of a large cathedral town in the south of England. He showed me pics. Each to their own but cringe for me.
      Too recently bereaved of his wife…he still linked to her dating site profile on his own…what was I thinking meeting up with him??? He was nowhere near ready.
      A bloke with short arms and long pockets (metaphor).
      This was a friend of mine’s date ages ago – completely uninterested in food and said he would take a pill for nutrients etc if he could. Omg.
      I may have told this one before but I love it – third date or so, watching a film at his flat, kicked off my shoes and put them on a footstool. He looked and said, oh my god you’ve got webbed feet! No, said I, I am wearing tights [sheer nude pantyhose]. I mean who thinks of webbed feet before hosiery pops into their brain?! Buffoon.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “get their leg over”

        Weird gaps on one’s knowledge: I did not know this idiom. Looking it up in Green’s Dictionary of Slang, the specific form goes back to the 1970s, but this sense of leg on or upon or over dates to 1600. I have learned something new, making this already a good day!

        1. Virginia Plain*

          Apropos of the discussion lower down, it’s a nice expressive British idiom! I find that talking in a forum etc amongst lots of Americans brings out my finest britishisms, I shall end up sounding a like a Carry On film. We specialise in euphemisms for sex…”a bit of how’s your father” is a lovely ridiculous example!
          I’m similar in speech; I don’t have a very pronounced regional accent, just slightly northern, but if I’m talking to someone from across the pond you could cast me in Downton Abbey. Above stairs!

          1. I take tea*

            Or the idiom “a bit of slap and tickle”. It always makes me laugh. You have strange habits in bed.

          2. Random Biter*

            I do love me some whodunnits set in alternate times/worlds/historical periods…. While reading one of the Her Royal Spyness books I came across the “a bit of how’s your father” and while I could figure out what it meant through content, I did get lost in Googling the origins. It was great!

        2. banoffee pie*

          is that not a phrase in the US? It’s a good one. Really implies a kind of careless, vulgar callousness, I think

      2. RagingADHD*

        “who thinks of webbed feet before hosiery pops into their brain?”

        People from inbred families.

        1. Mstr*

          I feel like the answer to this is … men. Men who aren’t super familiar with pantyhose.

          It’s a cute story of an awkward/brain fart kind of moment that might be good for a laugh if you like the guy. Not sure I’d put in the dealbreaker/this person is 100% “inbred buffoon” category.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I wasn’t talking about buffoonery. I know people with webbed-toe relatives, and they would definitely be surprised and perturbed to see (or supposedly see) it on someone they were dating, as a red flag in the other direction.

            1. Carol the happy elf*

              Some relatives of mine had children born with fused fingers and toes. No bone problems, but these cute little hands that looked like gloves put on wrong. It was a simple surgery to fix, and they took piano lessons from an early age.

      3. KR*

        The food thing is a dealbreaker for me. I’m someone who loves to eat. I couldn’t be with someone who doesn’t like to eat a similar amount to me. My husband is always down for a snack or to try new food and has a similar appetite to me and it’s something I really like about him and enjoy bonding with him over.

        1. Triplestep*

          I have so many food sensitivities I just can’t eat in a social settings anymore. I’m married and not dating but I totally get where you’re coming from. I miss being able to share food socially.

      4. Carol the happy elf*

        Did he mention what planet he came from? I would like to warn my girls away from them, because they obviously don’t study earthlings carefully enough.

    5. Holiday Prep*

      Some nopes (for me)

      – Mistreats waitstaff or other service professionals
      – Always a victim
      – Racist/sexist/homophobic “jokes”
      – Not a good parent/pet parent
      – Lacks a sense of community (Ex. Litters, doesn’t pick up after a pet)
      – Super messy home/car
      – Hyper religious (but somehow never about the parts that involve helping others)

      Honestly I think the previous poster nailed it that you’re less looking to avoid crappy-person-bingo and more trying to find someone you click with who shares your values. So if you run your church food pantry, you’re looking for someone equally kind and giving. If you support your local animal shelter, you’re looking for a fellow animal lover.

      I hope you’re able to meet someone who knocks your socks off – they’re worth the wait! Folks will ask why a single person is alone but the tables are rarely turned to ask a married person why they settled!

      1. Blue wall*

        Agree with the above and so much of what’s been said.

        Red flags I should have paid more attention to at the time:
        – no long-lasting (or really much if any) friendships
        – didn’t see his own role in why past relationships failed – was always the other persons fault
        – didn’t communicate his wants or needs, even after being asked (example: I’m making pasta primavera, I call him to ask if there is anything he doesn’t like, list what I have on hand, he says no, but then proceeded to not eat the squash)
        – didn’t wear underwear (yuck)
        – didn’t match my level of physical affection, went both ways.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          The point about lack of friendships is a good one. I dated someone briefly and he had no friends, one of the reasons I ended it.

    6. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Men who complain about blue balls. Ever really, but especially on the first few dates. It speaks volumes about their sense of entitlement.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Dude! There is a time-honored solution to that problem that doesn’t involve a reluctant second party.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          I picture you, close to your avatar in appearance, popping up like an ad break mid-date to intervene and deliver that line in a posh gentlemanly-like manner to Mr Blue Balls. It makes me feel somewhat better about the world.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            We are pretty close. That is Henry Chadwick. You can look him up. He has a better beard than I do, but that was a good era for beards. He was far too refined to admit to knowing what we are talking about.

    7. Meh*

      Do some activities that are competitive and see how they deal with competition. Does it work for you? Observe interactions with service staff, the elderly, children.

      I’m in the US and 5/6 year ago I was seeing someone who was really excited to cast his vote to nominate a political candidate. I quickly dumped him, that day in fact. Just such a hard nope.

      But it led me to someone who is proudly/loudly an advocate and ally for things that really matter to me (and him!). He is also able to enjoy my fierce competitive streak (I’m the red flag ;)

    8. Neon Dreams*

      -Willing to pick a fight with you and doesn’t care where you are or if they make a scene
      -Calls you names in front of your friends and then gets mad at you when you leave the room to cool of
      -Too rigid-set in their ways-life is all about learning and growing. If someone isn’t always striving to be the best version of themselves, I’m not interested.
      -Acting like their experience is God’s word and everyone else is wrong
      -having an opinion that actively harms other people (racist/transphobic/homophobic. All of those kinds of things). I’m not saying you have to like or understand those groups (although it would be a plus if you did), but respect their right to exist.

    9. Jelena*

      *Talks about their ex/exes too much/too soon
      *Asks about my ex/exes too much/too soon

      We all have a past we’re trying to move forward from, and the over-preoccupation of some of the guys I’ve been on dates with around my dating backstory/their own….hard pass from me.

      *Either talking about their job/asking about mine incessantly
      *Sex talk too early or too much (I love sex but honestly give it a rest guys)

      *Revisiting over and over that their child is the most important thing in the world and I need to remember that. As a woman in my very late 30s the majority of single men I date have one or more kids and I’m fully on board with them being the priority and admire guys that are a positive presence in their kid’s lives. Reminding me of it constantly (on a first/second date!) with an unpleasant undertone gives me the ick.

      1. WellRed*

        Can I just say I agree with this kid stuff and add: I hate it on dating profiles where they answer questions like “thing I can’t live without”, “my biggest accomplishment” and every single answer is “my kids” it may be true but in this context feels like a cop out answer.

        1. Jelena*

          This is so true! I do wonder who they’ve encountered in their dating escapades that they feel the need to over and over and *over* again point out that their children are an important part of their lives. As I’m approaching 40 I now also get the interrogation from these same guys about why I don’t have kids as if there’s something wrong with me. I spent years in a relationship with a guy waiting for him to be ready to have a child and gave up on him eventually.

          1. Tabby*

            This, except I deliberately chose to never have kids, because I don’t want the responsibility. There are various reasons for that, chief among them is that I was a parentified child, so nope, I’m done parenting, thanks!
            But people don’t know how to let it go, they want to “It’s different when they’re your own (Yes, you are typically required to keep them until 18, whether you feel fit to parent or not; not great for kids to have an indifferent parent, which I would be, at BEST) “You HAVE TO! You might like it! (Really? Are children various foods?)” me to death.

            1. Sc@rlettNZ*

              Oh, god, the “but it’s different when they are your own brigade”. This used to drive me NUTS when I was dating. I’m child-free by choice, I have absolutely zero interest in babies and find small children incredibly annoying. I’ve lost count of the number of guys who think I don’t know my own mind and will suddenly decide I’m desperate for children (almost like they think I’m going to trap them in a relationship and then spring a baby on them), or that it would be oh so wonderful if only I’d try it (WTF? It’s not like babies have a 14 day return period lol).

              I once dumped a guy who insisted that secretly I really wanted a baby because had a cat.

              So that’s my dealbreaker – idiot men :-)

              1. Carol the happy elf*

                I dumped a guy who ridiculed me for volunteering to rock babies in a NICU. I guess it was because he told me that he could give me babies that weren’t defective. That was the red flag planted in the hill to die on.

          2. Mstr*

            I think they’re just screening to find a woman who will accept that he’ll never put her first. And I actually firmly do believe kids come first but I think these men are just unreliable.

      2. Generic Name*

        Also, how does he react when you turn him down for sex? Does he pout and sulk, or can he just be normal about it?

    10. Hilde*

      Having a grasp on their own finances. If not able to have savings, at least have it as a goal and not as a dream. Having a plan on how to repay debt. It is not a conversation starter but as you get further into the relationsship – and especially if you at some point in the future want to live together – this is a vital conversation.

      1. Hilde*

        A friend of a friend just met a guy who hadn’t saved anything since he started working. Spends every penny every month and doesn’t see the need for a savings account because he can just borrow from his brother… who has to loan the money from a bank. Hard no from me.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Financially literate and willing to delay gratification. They don’t need to be wealthy, but they need to understand that spending on credit costs more then waiting and saving ahead of time. There are ways to work around a tight budget and still have fun, but some people cannot see that.

    11. Person from the Resume*

      Too religious or spiritual including astrology. I’m an atheist believer in science. If faith helps a person get through their life, good for them. The dealbreaker is if someone thinks their god is actively controlling actions on earth. That’s in the same bucket as people who truly believe in ghosts and spirits.

      I think that’s crazy. I’m not going to “humor” them. And they wouldn’t like me telling them their beliefs are crazy. That’s a no go.

    12. Generic Name*

      After I had dated for a while, I learned if a man canceled a date more than once or if planning the date was complicated or annoying, then it was a bad sign. Planning outings with my friends is reasonably straightforward, so if it’s hard to settle on a date/time/place with a guy, it’s not a match for me.

      1. *daha**

        Ooooh. If I had known that was a red flag back in 2012, my life would be a lot different now. But then again, I was a guy getting nearly no interest on the dating sites, so anybody who was marginally available was like gold to me.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      It’s been a while since I dated, but along with what you described as decent human being: no substance addictions (childhood trauma), no long distance, no disparaging all exes.
      At this point in my life – same politics, religion, money habits, similar general interests in life, don’t need to overlap 100%, but I would not be happy with a huge football fan, for example.
      Basically I am old enough that I know I can’t date a republican, a religious person, a workaholic. It is better not to start.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      It’s been a while since I dated, but along with what you described as decent human being: no substance addictions (childhood trauma), no long distance, no disparaging all exes.
      At this point in my life – same politics, religion, money habits, similar general interests in life, don’t need to overlap 100%, but I would not be happy with a huge football fan, for example.
      Basically I am old enough that I know I can’t date a politicly opposite person, a religious person, a workaholic. It is better not to start.
      Similar sense of humor is important. I despise pranks and practical jokes, a person who does not get this would not be a person for me.
      I also hate surprises, to the point I google plotlines of tv characters. The absolute worst thing you can do to me is surprise me in public, even if you think it’s a nice surprise. Or surprise with a large gift, because I have opinions on things.

    15. Washi*

      Ymmv but one of the things that really attracted me to my now-husband is that he had the basic elements of his life together and didn’t need me to help him grow up. He went to doctors and dentists as needed, was registered to vote, was in the habit of cleaning and cooking… Not that he was Martha Stewart or anything, but I didn’t need to teach him life skills or take care of him. Sounds basic, but I have several friends whose male partners are supposedly just “not good” at that stuff, and that would be a dealbreaker for me, as someone who wants an equal partnership. We don’t do all the same chores, but we contribute evenly and haven’t had to work that hard to achieve a balance.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        This is one of the reasons I am so happy I got a Used Husband. Not that his first wife had trained him – he was already good with life basics, but because they went through marital counseling and he had worked on the things he needed to fix.

        He’s still not 100% there on some of the issues, but at least he is aware of them.

      2. Lotus*

        Omg one of my friends is currently in a relationship with a man child who can’t do anything himself. He also gets cranky whenever he’s hungry or cold and throws literal adult tantrums, and relies on my friend to comfort him and will ask him 20 questions of what will make him feel better, instead of him figuring it out on his own. Sometimes it’s really easy to recognize dealbreakers in other people’s relationships.

    16. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      For me, the most important aspect – how do you feel about cats? Also dogs, but especially cats. I love cats, and if a man dislikes them, we are not going to be compatible no matter what else.

      1. TechWorker*

        To be fair if you’ve not grown up with pets them then.. people can change!

        A few years ago I would have probably described someone really wanting dogs as a dealbreaker for me – I was always a bit scared as a child (still am, of big dogs or snappy ones) and find they make your house smell (sad but true). Luckily my partner LOVES cats (which I’d also not had but was more ambivalent about).

        Initially there was some resistance from me (I didn’t fancy having them IN our bed, for Eg) but I am now fully converted :p and whilst I’m not *keen* to get a dog it’s definitely softened me to all pets – I’m much more likely to see someone walking a dog now and think ‘what a cutie!’ for no real reason other than I guess I appreciate that the snuggles and playtime probably outweigh the slightly smelly house :p

        1. PT*

          My husband was a Certified Dog Person. His family lived rurally and had a whole pack of dogs growing up. He was opposed to cats because, and I quote, “they just put their anus in your face.”

          Well we got a cat and she converted him into a cat person. He loves her. So then when cat #2 came along he was like “oh well all right” instead of “absolutely not” and now he likes both of them.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Have you thought about where you draw the line when somebody loves animals but has a terrible allergy? I visit cats, I will go and cat sit for a weekend at your house, but I will be on allergy medicine the whole time. Not something I can keep up more than a few days. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

        1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          It may be more the attitude people have about cats, that it’s somehow ‘better’ to like dogs than cats and that sort of nonsense. It doesn’t matter if you can’t be in the room with them, but if you start insulting me because I have one, there’s not much reason for me to go out with you is there, you rude boy.

        2. Random Biter*

          I have a handful of cat allergic family members, so while I would love to have a cat I don’t.

          Having had many different pets as a kid, everything from dogs/cats/birds/fish to a litter of baby skunks, a non-animal lover would be the death knell of any potential relationship for me. I volunteer for 2 pitbull rescues, so one of the very earliest conversations during the dating period was, “I have 2 dogs that people would refer to as pitbulls. How do you feel about that?”

          My spousal significant, who was at first a little afraid of my first pittie as he only knew what he had read in the yellow journalism, once told me he loved our dog more than his kids. A true convert :))

        3. Bob-White of the Glen*

          Deathly allergic to cats – had to give them up when I was younger. Now have five. Decided I wasn’t going to give one up, and (eventually) built up a tolerance. Sometimes have to push them away after a few minutes, except for my black one, but not always. And try meeting a few black ones – I’m not as allergic to (most) of them, and I have a friend who is the same way.

    17. Lotus*

      I mean there are the obvious ones, but I also think it’s important to recognize your personal preferences as well. I’m reentering dating again as well, and compared to past attempts, I’m being more selective at choosing guys I actually like spending time with vs just going along with the guys who are interested in me, but I didn’t actually have much in common with. For some reason in the past, I kept finding myself hanging out with nerdy guys who were super into things like video games and DnD. I…just don’t care for that stuff and now actively select against it. (Not that I necessarily think that couples have to have all the same hobbies, but these guys were just major homebodies and I like actually leaving my house from time to time.)

      1. Lotus*

        Also, this is a pet peeve, but I’ve been noticing that some guys just…don’t know how to set up a simple coffee date? Like I will match with a guy on an app, and we will decide to meet for a drink (either coffee or alcohol). Normally my method is to select an evening in the near future, and then figure out the mid way point between where we live or work, and choose a place there to grab a drink and chat for a couple of hours. Some guys over complicate things IME. They will choose a place a million miles from me (but closer to them). One guy countered my suggested drink date with brunch. I was like “sure fine” but then he was like “but we can meet for cocktails a few hours later!” WTF dude…just pick something! I’ve actually unmatched people like that on the spot. Not wasting my time.

        1. Generic Name*

          That became a red flag with me, honestly. If it was a pain to set up a date, it was never a good sign. I met my husband online, and one of the things I love about him is he can actually plan stuff. Planning dates was easy.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Yeah I can’t be bothered with scatty/flaky people who can’t ever commit to meeting up, or keep cancelling. What’s the problem people? Imagine living with them in the future. No thanks.

        2. it's me*

          “They will choose a place a million miles from me (but closer to them)”

          Well that doesn’t seem coincidental….

    18. Marion Ravenwood*

      Being unreliable. I accept that sometimes things happen (work issues, family emergency etc), but if you’re consistently cancelling on me last minute and not making plans to reschedule fairly quickly – and keeping to those new plans – then I’m going to get fed up of you wasting my time pretty soon.

      Otherwise: racist/sexist/homophobic, rude to people in service/retail jobs, smoking, having issues with alcohol (I have no objection to someone who likes a drink occasionally but draw the line when it’s starting to interfere with their everyday life and activities, including plans we have together). In terms of things that are yeses, having similar views on money/politics and at least some shared interests, plus a sense of adventure and a willingness to try new things.

    19. Sunshine*

      Life kit podcast on 2/16/21 had a great conversation about factors to consider in a relationship. It gets away from nitpicky deal breakers and focuses on behavioral themes. Like a a partner who is high in agreeability and low in neuroticism . Which sounds fairly obvious. But I wished I’d had that idea when I was dating.

        1. Tayto*

          Oh maybe, but on their own. I would not want to teach them. But still, no, now that I think about it, someone close to age appropriate for me who can’t cook is just a massive no. I’d just personally be incompatible with someone who had that low a level of basic knowledge about food by my age. (Clearly I’m far, far beyond ‘living on their own for the first time’ age!)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yes to this. I don’t mind giving a hint here and there, or letting him help me, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to full-on culinary school his ass. A non-cook learning to cook in an effort to be a contributing member to our household would give me a much more favorable impression.

            1. banoffee pie*

              I would quite like to try to teach someone to cook, to see if I’m as good at cooking as I think lol. Like I’d like to try teaching someone the guitar. Have I got the chops or am I fooling myself?? Maybe teaching a boyfriend could lead to arguments tho

        2. Clisby*

          I’d be OK with a guy who couldn’t cook as long as he loved to clean. Both us like to cook, and we both hate housecleaning, which is why a cleaning service is one of the first luxuries we paid for.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That’s acceptable. But I’d like him to be able to cook a few things, in case I can’t. I want someone to make me soup when I’m sick. :)

      1. RagingADHD*

        The director Robert Rodriguez once said that his mother told him “not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to fuck.”

    20. NaoNao*

      I think the biggest thing to remember here is, especially as you get older, you are very likely going to have to compromise on something. Whether it’s the person having kids from a previous situation, maybe them not being your ultimate ideal in terms of “your type”, financial stuff, their personal baggage and struggles, etc.

      I had to wait until I was 36 to meet a man who was as smart as I wanted who was also kind, available, and mutually attracted. I’ve met hundreds of blazingly intelligent men (my number one parameter above anything else) but speaking frankly 99% of those men were **mean** just…mean. Condescending, rude, thoughtless, lacking empathy, etc.

      So if you do meet someone that meets your intellectual and emotional requirements, be ready to find a way to live with and deal with their little foibles and flaws.

      1. Hilde*

        Kind and clever are the two traits I can narrow down to. It is surprisingly difficult to find clever guys who aren’t arrogant.

      2. Lotus*

        I feel like kids is a big dealbreaker though. You can’t go halfsies on kids. I don’t want to be a parent, and I especially don’t want to be a crappy unattached stepparent to an innocent kid. Fortunately, less people my age are having kids so hopefully this won’t be an issue going forward.

        1. Fran Fine*

          This. We do not need to compromise on that point. I too don’t want kids, so I don’t care how great a guy is – if he has them, that’s a no for me and I move on. I’ll stay single forever before I agree to play house with someone else’s kids.

        2. Calliope*

          I think the compromise on kids is more likely to be if you do want kids but hadn’t pictures yourself as a step-parent before a parent.

      3. Carol the happy elf*

        Yes! I dated a guy in college who kept mentioning his scholarships and Mensa. I’m an intelligent woman, and he always had to know more than I did. About ten years ago, a friend who lives in the old hometown mentioned that he needed heart surgery, and my first thought was “Nate has a HEART?”

    21. Lilo*

      I think there were a lot of good ones.

      When I was in college a firm deal-breaker was someone who tried to get me to prioritize dating them over studying. Studying came first. I met my now spouse in school but I’d say someone who messes with your job or important hobbies is a huge red flag.

      If someone mistreats waiters/cashiers or doesn’t tip (here in the US where wait staff depends on tips) that’s a hard nope.

      I also nope out if someone smokes. I can’t stand the smell and lost 3 of my grandparents to smoking related cancers. Hard no.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      –Racism, sexism, and/or homophobia or transphobia, and unwillingness to correct unconscious bias. This includes ableism. Having to explain and defend a hidden disability all the time is exhausting. I expect my partner to make an effort to understand it and offer support.
      –A lack of critical thinking skills and intellectual curiosity.
      –If you don’t read, GTFO. I did that once before and I won’t do it again.
      –I’m monogamous. I don’t want a partner who isn’t also monogamous.

    23. StellaBella*

      Back when I was dating (I have been single now for almost 5 years and do not plan to change that) I made a list. This is most of that list.

      1. Must not own any weapons.
      2. Must have some form of gainful employment.
      3. Must have a decent relationship with family.
      4. Must not have been in jail or had DUIs or use/used hard drugs.
      5. Should generally match the photo of their profile if we were meeting online. a 10 year old pic with long flowing locks while riding a camel is a great memory but dude really it was 10 years ago now that I have met you.
      6. If divorced, they should not bad mouth the ex wife on first meeting me.
      7. Should be reliable and not flake out when agreeing to meet me a lot, sure once in while things happen but if you say we will meet somewhere/somewhen then pls show up.
      8. Be able to fix small things in a house, not asking for much but simple common sense fixes to little things is helpful. I can do a lot of house maintenance but everyone should know or be willing to learn how to fix most minor things.
      9. Should not live in parents’ basement.
      10. Should be reality based and not a Qfollower/Repub/Red hatter, or completely bonkers in any direction or into conspiracies.
      11. Should understand that women of colour can have natural hair and it is not unusual.
      12. Should be kind to animals.
      13. Should know how to use a vacuum and how to clean dishes and floors and do laundry.
      14. Should generally understand human biology and anatomy.
      15. Should have lived alone for a period of time.

      All of these and more were things I have to contend with in my 30s and 40s at one time or another. Many of them have funny stories behind them. Some are very sad.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Human anatomy lol. There was an article in the Guardian recently and just 46 percent of people knew women have 3 holes (sorry to be crude but can’t think how else to say it). I mean it wasn’t just men, this was men and women in the study!!
        I know what you mean about jail but some people go to jail for very little and honestly I know some people who aren’t in jail but probably should be. I’d rather avoid them than someone who went to jail for weed or something. That doesn’t happen much here (UK) but I’ve heard it happens in the US especially to POC

        1. Fran Fine*

          I know what you mean about jail but some people go to jail for very little

          And that’s great, but it’s still on her (and my) nope lost. Just because a lot of people have been arrested and gone to jail does not mean we have to date them. They can date each other.

        2. Carol the happy elf*

          My first husband did not get that women aren’t just “men turned inside-out! Seriously, I thought he must have skipped the health classes that described anatomy! So was that 46% of PEOPLE, or 46% of MEN? Because if it’s 46% of people, that makes him less of an oddity and more of ,”them”.
          When I heard him say something about being surprised that women weren’t all incontinent, I asked what he meant. He answered that with the diameter being big enough for “him”, how was a woman able to hold off on needing to go? ( I’m snorting my soda right now.) Thank you for that statistic; do you have a reference?

          1. banoffee pie*

            46% of people, not just men. Your first husband may have got that ‘women are men turned inside out’ from ancient philosophy. I think that’s what Aristole thought. To be fair Aristotle also couldn’t competently count the legs on an insect!! I’ll post the link to the study in another comment as it’ll get caught in moderation, it should appear eventually.

    24. Double A*

      It’s interesting to read this thread because my husband definitely has a lot of people’s deal breakers! But then again, he often tells me he can’t imagine being with anyone but me because of how I deal with what for so many people would be no goes. He even has a couple of passions that I thought would be deal breakers (video games and cars) and they’ve turned out to be fine. So I’m pretty humble about anything but the deepest deal breakers.

      The main one I think is kids and long-term desires for the relationship. You have to be on the same page about kids or it’ll end in heartbreak. Likewise what you want from the relationship. Obviously all relationships start out with exploration, but if commitment is what you want and it’s still a debate or area of tension between your after 6 months, I think it’s probably best to end it.

      Instead, I think about deal makers. My husband deeply respects and appreciates me. For me, that is what I need to fill my cup.

      I guess the inverse of that would be contempt and condescension, even just a little bit. Those are complete deal breakers.

      And one last one I’ll share is that when I was dating, I wish I had put “recently out of a long term relationship” on my yellow flag list. I got burned badly by that twice; it’s not that it’s always a deal breaker, but I should have slowed WAY way down. Hence yellow flag. Proceed slowly and with caution.

      1. Camolita*

        Oh gosh yes to deep respect and appreciation instead of contempt and condescension.

        When I was very young, I tolerated way more than I should have because I thought we that since were so young that we were still growing and maturing. I learned the hard way that maturing doesn’t often happen to those who are contemptuous and condescending, and instead often gets much worse.

    25. Roja*

      Being decent with money. I don’t mean being wealthy or having a high-paying job, but being able to at least spend with their means (barring tragedy or extreme circumstances) and manage their financial life okay. My husband was under the poverty line when we got married and had only just bought a $1000 car, but he was in the black every month and we had similar financial values.

      I watched my parents make some very poor financial decisions and I knew I never, ever wanted to go through that myself. And so far that has been the case. We’re still not well off financially but we’ve always been stable and saved, and that’s such a great gift.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        There’s a book you may like; “Tightwad Gazette”, by Amy Daczyczyn. When my first husband left me, my bestie got me a copy, because she said, “Heed what you need”. My husband now is frugal, but not insanely so. “Froogle can be fun!”

    26. Ria*

      My dealbreakers:

      Poor knowledge of food and constricted approach: I need the other person to love food and good restaurants. They don’t need to have the same level of passion as I do, but someone who would never spend many hundreds of dollars on a very good meal, has a poor knowledge of the world’s food cultures, and who says they don’t like spicy food, seafood etc just isn’t going to work.

      Food snobs: On the other end of the spectrum, don’t want to deal with people who have this weird, insecure status thing based on knowing more than ‘plebs’. I like excellent cheap food as much as the most expensive food, and my French pronunciation sucks, and I’m not interested in being belittled for it.

      Overly careful people/people with no street smarts: I cannot deal with the sort of people who are focused on working out where the ‘bad neighbourhoods’ are when travelling and avoiding them. I need someone who is worldly enough to be out there, living in the world. With few exceptions, everywhere is safe for people with basic street smarts who are not engaging in risky stuff. ‘Bad neighbourhoods’ generally only become bad if you are bumbling around like a conspicuous tourist or doing something stupid like trying to buy drugs. I refuse to live in irrational fear.

      People who are threatened by the achievements of others: Huge red flag. If someone has a (even low key) negative reaction to a friend being promoted or whatever, they’re likely to be a nightmare in my books.

    27. Might Be Spam*

      I don’t like it when a guy wants to know how old I am before deciding to ask me out. I have adult children, so it’s not like he has to worry about me being underage.

      I felt like I was in an interview for a housekeeping job. He also complained about his ex being a feminist. When I asked what was wrong with feminism, he said I wasn’t the same kind of feminist. Apparently there’s a “good” kind of feminist. Same guy researched my ex, which I found very odd.

    28. Anon-dating*

      Oh my gosh, I’m so grateful for all your comments! I’ve read through them all and laughed, cried, cringed, and could relate to so much of what you were all saying! Thank you so much for helping me put words to describe my “baseline decent human being.”

      I also so appreciate some new perspectives. I loved “Double A’s” comment about paying attention to “deal makers” and how those are often more important than deal breakers. I think I’ll ask about folks’ deal makers next weekend!

    29. anonforthis*

      Oooh – I actually want to share something I heard recently that resonated with me.

      This article I read said that a good indicator of whether you are compatible with someone or not (both in terms of platonic and romantic relationships) is whether they appreciate your *core* competencies and values. Meaning, it’s not just enough for them to like you in general, but to like you for the strengths and abilities you actually have or aspire to.

      A counter example of this is, I’ve had both an ex-bf and ex-friend (at different times) who only liked me because, at the time, I suffered from low self esteem and shyness and it gave them control over me. Because of my mindset at the time, I initially saw their attention towards me as benevolence. However, as time went on, I noticed that they resented anytime I achieved something in my career, made new friends, or exhibited any sort of confidence or independence. They also had a tendency to scoff at things I liked or when I expressed interest in starting a hobby or something, usually saying that those activities were “silly” and “dumb”. As a result, I found myself hiding my interests from them.

      Someone who is truly compatible for you will be supportive of who you actually are, not just who they want you to be, and will also support you in your growth. If you sense that someone is trying to hold you back, it’s a dealbreaker.

    30. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I have been single for sooooo long, but here are some hard nopes for me if I ever get back in the dating world:

      –acts in any way entitled with food servers, with retail workers, etc. (with anyone, really, but there is a special place in Nopesville for people who act entitled with others who can’t fight back without fearing for their jobs)

      –tries to control me and ignores my preferences and wishes (rotten old boyfriend tried to make me eat seafood even though he knew I don’t like it by stopping at a seafood place for lunch when we were traveling without consulting me)

      –sexually assaults me in any way, including stealthing (same old boyfriend. Ass.)

      –wants to keep our dating on the down low for no good reason (another old boyfriend and potential girlfriend. Never again.)

      –doesn’t see a future with me (unless we’re both very clear that neither of us wants that)

      –enables toxic family members (very sweet old boyfriend, but I could.not.take.his.family or, eventually, see a future with them in it)

      I feel like most other things are negotiable for me — especially if the person listens to me and is open to working out compromises about areas where we differ.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Oops, was looking at the other comments and yeah, racism, sexism, homophobia, noxious political views of any stripe are all hard nopes for me as well!

    31. TM*

      I met with a matchmaking service a few months ago so I really had to sit down and think about this because I had a long list of “Nopes” (33, been mostly single as an adult, not able to tolerate BS). But he had me narrow it down to 4 “must haves” to help him choose prospective dates for me. These aren’t “no’s” but you get the idea.
      1)Must be liberal/progressive. A lot of my views align with with the progressive party and I won’t feel supported by someone who is conservative.
      2)Must be good to animals but not have dogs. I have rabbits and they are fragile. When I stay somewhere overnight, they either come with me or I board them. I don’t think my rabbits would get on with dogs too well and I won’t put them in a situation where they are terrified of another animal. Surprisingly, rabbits tend to intimidate cats so I’m good with cats.
      3)Must be atheist/agnostic. I support friends who are religious but I just don’t think I can do that with a partner.
      4)Wants an independent, career woman. I’ll probably be the breadwinner in the relationship for at least part of the time. I’m not going to quit my job to make you feel better about yourself.

      Other no’s I had that didn’t make the short list included:
      1)Guy who want a carbon copy of themselves. You like to hike? Great! I’m not going to go hiking every weekend with you! You love football? Great! I’m not going to watch/go to every game with you! I’ve got interests too and I’m not going to adopt yours just because you want me to. I also don’t expect you to join me for everything either.
      2)Can handle their finances. Live within your means. I am not your sugar mama and I am not going to nag you to save money.
      3)Does not have any close family or friends. We don’t get to pick our family so I’m not holding family estrangement against anyone. But you do get to pick your friends so unless you just moved here, I expect you to have some. I am also not going to be your therapist.

    32. Rebecca Stewart*

      I insist on religious and political compatibility. I don’t require them to be the same exact faith I am, nor the exact degree of political animal I am, but in neither case do I want to spend time where I’m relaxing getting told I’m following Satan or being told what my gay son needs is Jesus to get him over this. (I like him just fine the way he is, though I wish he wasn’t learning which guys not to date by dating them. But life has always been a full-contact adventure for him.)

      Also, they need to not be allergic to cats. The cats were here first.

  8. Holiday Prep*

    Safe conversation topics for the holidays?

    Many folks are heading home and spending time with folks they may (vehemently) disagree with but otherwise love. What are the topics you pivot to in order to maintain a pleasant time together?

    – Cooking/Recipes
    – Kids
    – Pets
    – Movies/TV
    – Childhood nostalgia

    1. Virginia Plain*

      I ind it useful to ask someone who can be difficult for their opinion or advice on something they do know about. Everyone likes to be asked for their advice and a bit of harmless flattery can smooth things over, plus the conversation might actually be useful to you. So to my mum I might say, have a look at these curtain fabrics with me, which do you think would look nice in my lounge? Or to grumpy uncle Bob, with whom the subject of politics should be carefully avoided but who loves his garden, you might say, I was thinking of putting some planters outside the front door, something bright, do you think pansies would do well?

      Looking at the above, perhaps “homes and gardens” would be a good general topic.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        We were typing at the same time I think, gardening and home is my go-to as long as my family member doesn’t use it to criticise my home or garden, then it’s on to cooking!

      2. Holiday Prep*

        This is an excellent reminder. I usually talk recipes with my sister since we both love cooking and you can get a LOT of mileage out of “what have been your favorite cooks/bakes lately?”. I usually pick up some new tips or tools or just general kitchen inspiration. Like, you know you’re a grownup when you have a favorite spatula!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Your last sentence tickles me. I have a favorite individual spatula (slightly oversized, extra sturdy and has an owl on it) and a favorite type of spatula for when the drawer needs replenishing (ikea’s one-dollar jobbie in an assortment of colors) – I usually keep a half dozen on hand so I don’t have to worry about what’s in the dishwasher, because spatulas are my favorite cooking tool.

      3. banoffee pie*

        Great idea to get them talking about something they do know about. Also music is pretty safe if you’re into the same stuff.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Yes to the above except for nostalgia (that’s just personal to me) and I’d add gardening. Bookmarking this thread with great interest for ideas.

    3. Firefly*

      Outdoor beauty spots or travel, like tell me about your best trip or which beach is your favourite. If I’m really trying to avoid conflict and just fill airtime with my mom, I’ll ask her to tell me in detail about the trip to Hawaii she and my dad took in 1976. I will listen to the “the resort brought sand to the beach” story over “the government is bad and here’s why” any day

      1. Generic Name*

        This is such a great tactic. I’m sure your mom loves reliving the story, and you’ve probably heard it enough times you don’t have to be paying rapt attention to make the appropriate reactions. Genius.

    4. Holiday Prep*

      And of course a reminder that:

      – You don’t have to spend time with people who disrespect or harm you (mental health is health!)
      – Always have an exit plan (including your own transportation!)
      – Family can be found/made and doesn’t have to be blood related

      This thread is mostly to help those who want to spend time with difficult friends/family and just need a little extra help smoothing out the stressful edges. Like the holidays are maybe the only time to see sweet Grandma, but it comes with a side of racist uncle Scott. I find it helpful to go into these gatherings with a plan. It’s more emotional labor than I’d do for most people, but that’s my family for ya.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      This ties to yesterday’s conversation about sports. The NFL does us a great service, playing games on Thanksgiving. This gives us something to talk about besides crazy uncle expounding his appalling and uninformed political opinions.

      Here is a cheat sheet for the games: The 12:30 game is Chicago at Detroit. Geographically this looks like a great rivalry. The problem is that Detroit is a historically futile franchise, and this year is no different. Despite this, they always play on Thanksgiving, because tradition. Chicago is pretty bad too. So your talking point is about how bad this game is. Bonus points for commenting on Chicago’s woes trying to find a good quarterback.

      4:30 game: Oakland at Dallas. This should be a good game. Your talking point is how Dallas looks really good this year, with their quarterback Dak Prescott recovered from his injury last year. And gosh, has it really been a quarter century since they were in the Superbowl?

      8:20 game: It’s 8:20! Stand up, stretch, yawn, make your excuses, and go home. But if you can’t escape, it is Buffalo at New Orleans. Your talking point is how Josh Allen, Buffalo’s quarterback, is amazing, and looks like MVP material!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And there’s another topic: moving sports teams. It took me years to wonder why my father talked about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn even in the early 1970s … I have a sneaking suspicion that it was his way to derail an argument between my mother and sister.

    6. Janet Pinkerton*

      I would talk about the weather (I love talking about the weather) or my favorite pet topic. My current favorite pet topic is highway trivia, so I can plan hypothetical road trips without a map in front of me, or I can talk about cool facts (unsigned interstates, or weird short interstates like I-2 or I-97). This has the advantage of either letting me talk about the stuff I love or driving the unpleasant person away from me.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This may have changed, but — last I knew, the shortest state highway in the US is M-185, which circumnavigates Mackinac Island in Michigan. It also is (I believe) the narrowest, as gas-powered automobiles are not permitted on the island and the highway is most frequently used by bicycle traffic, though it’s also open to pedestrians or horses.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Haha, it’s the only state highway i know anything about :) it was also the only one that hadn’t had a car accident in its history, until 2005 when the island’s ambulance and fire truck (which are exceptions to the no gas powered vehicles rule) dinged each other up at the 0 mile marker responding to a medical incident at the ferry dock. :)

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          Yeah, but if you rent one of their tandem bikes and you’re in front, go slowly enough so that if you hit a pile of horse crap, it doesn’t flip up in your new wife’s face. Macinac Island does not have enough fudge to make up for that.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Highway trivia: The Lowell Connector is the only highway without a number designation! It connects US Highway 3 and I-495 to the city of Lowell, MA because when they were building those highways, they put then NEAR Lowell, but forgot to actually connect them TO Lowell.

    7. Anony*

      I saw podcasts and home improvements/projects on another thread.

      I like asking older relatives to share about their childhood experiences or looking through old photo albums with them, and having them talk about who people are.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Interesting nature or space news – I’m a fan of Science Friday on NPR, lots of good stuff there.
      Travel or dream vacations
      House decor or renovations
      There’s usually some children around, or people who are proud of their children – whatever they are up to or their goals and interests.
      Sports – I’m not a big fan but I can ask enough questions to keep a conversation going.
      Board games or card games – one of my sib in laws made a fantastic evening one time, by setting up a bunch of those “minute to win it” type challenges. Totally innocuous and fun. Some of the show-ending 2 minute games on Taskmaster would work for that, too (some are too complicated, but others are very doable).

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Genealogy. Bring a notebook and jot down who’s who. If you get cornered by and abrasive older relative, just whip out the notebook and read through it with AOR to see if they can fill in any holes.
      Worked for me for years!

    10. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Childhood nostalgia – I do love this topic so I’m just sharing my own experience. I just reconnected with some relatives I grew up with and I love(d) talking to them about “old times” until one of them inevitably veers off into “well so and so was toxic including YOUR DEAD FAM potato. Potato why are you crying you need to stop being so sensitive. I can’t speak freely even in my own family.”

      With another family member I have a sticky history with, we mainly stick to 90s/00s fashion or fashion in general and we can talk for hours about it.

    11. Sooda Nym*

      My teen-aged and young adult children like to employ the fake, low-stakes, not-so-great debate. Pancakes or waffles: go. Do you prefer trees or clouds? Ranch sauce or bbq: explain. Which is better, hiking uphill or downhill? I think generally the idea is if you have people who like to interact by arguing, you give them something to “argue” about that isn’t make-or-break for anyone, and also (probably more importantly) they haven’t spent the past weeks or months developing talking points about, so it actually is a real distraction. This strategy works better if you have several people willing to play along, and only one or two toxic people you are trying to keep from monopolizing the conversation. It isn’t just about being silly: you really do learn interesting things about people. Also, it can be a pretty blatant attempt to change the subject, so other people can pick up that you are uncomfortable and help you out.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Love this! One of my friends has a similarly fun conversation starter: All foods will pair well with either cream cheese of soy sauce. Discuss.

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            Toilet paper, over or under?
            Installing it to come out under does spoil the fun for a cat.

    12. Jackalope*

      I like talking about books; I love to read and so do a number of other members of my family, so we all have a good time with this. We’ve all gotten some great recommendations from each other. Also I want to echo the idea of asking about old family stories. Especially if you’re asking a family member who is older than you, there’s potentially a lot of mileage to be had in asking about, say, your great grandparents or something. A few years ago my youngest cousin, the only one who never got to meet either grandparent, asked for stories about them. Everyone shared a story or two and then the talk branched off into great aunts and uncles, family legends, etc.

    13. Random Biter*

      My mom had a strict no politics/no religion at the dinner table rule and I continue that rule to this day.

  9. Crackerjack*

    I wondered if anyone’s interested in exploring some differences between US and UK English? I love language. It’s only since I started reading here that I realised ‘Mind you…’ has an almost opposite meaning in US English than it does to me (Cornish/English). And ‘gumption’ doesn’t mean the same as how you all use it here!

    1. Meh*

      I lived in Australia as a teen and the funny language differences were great!
      -Root, cheer for vs sex
      – Fanny, butt vs vulva
      -Canteen vs Cafeteria

      Funny story, my mom moved to England for a bit during elementary (primary) school and on her first day a classmate offered to show her the lavatory. She was so excited until she realized it was the restroom.

      1. Fair Guinevere*

        I’m an American living in Australia. Can I think of an example now? No, of course not, but it’s talked about a lot here.

        Chips, hot chips, crisps, or french fries. You can easily start a fight here speaking of those.

        Probably not what you are looking for, but first floor vs ground floor. To me you walk in on the first floor. To Australian, you walk in on the ground floor and take the lift (not evelvator) to the first floor.

        I think pretty good is one that can change the meaning is drastically different directions.

        1. londonedit*

          The floors thing is the same in the UK as in Australia – I live on the ground floor, if I go up a flight of stairs from here then I’ll be on the first floor. And of course chips are hot and crisps are crunchy!

      2. Cordelia*

        to me (from the UK), restroom is funny – you don’t go there for a rest! or indeed a bath. I don’t think people say lavatory much now – its either “toilet” or “loo”
        I lived in Canada for a while and my coworkers (in UK we’d usually say colleagues, so that’s another one) were highly amused by e.g. “half nine” for “9.30” (half-past nine). By the time I left the whole team were using it, always with a smile and a nod at me “we’ll meet at half two”. I like to think they still are!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Occasionally, you’ll find a “rest area” with chairs & sometimes a chaise longue in fancier (and usually older) ladies’ rooms. (Nicer hotels and high-end department stores are where this came from.) I think that’s where “rest room” might come from.

          “Bathroom” makes sense for the room in a house, but I use “washroom” otherwise. In the US, “toilet” just means the piece of equipment.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’ve seen those seating areas at a university that started admitting women in the 19th c. Fainting, you know. /s (I blame the corsets for that.)

            1. allathian*

              And in Finnish: “puoli yhdeksän” and Swedish “halv nio”.
              Of course, in writing and formal speech we use the 24-hour clock pretty exclusively, but the 12-hour clock is used in informal speech when there’s no risk of confusion.

        2. Crackerjack*

          Would they say the full ‘half past nine’ or just never say that and always say ‘nine thirty’?

          The American convention of putting the month before the day when writing always throws me for a loop. If I see 12/29/21 I’ll be thinking Wha…? What is the 29th month??!

            1. The Dogman*

              If it was the programmer style it is fine (2021/11/06) or in the Uk style it makes sense (06/11/2021) but the US style is silly and makes not a bit of sense.

              The day first is simple, the year first is best for filing and data access, the month then day then year is just daft!

              1. WS*

                Japan and China also use 2021/11/06, which makes perfect sense to me, as does 06/11/2021. Mixing them up, no!

              2. Jackalope*

                When we read it in the US we would say December 29th, 2021. So the order is the order we would say it in.

                1. The Dogman*

                  I would suggest that that is an awkward and unusual framing of the English language.

                  Over here it would be said “The twenty ninth of December, twenty twenty-one”

          1. Gatomon*

            As an American, I literally cannot understand “29/12/21,” for the same exact reason! Or written out, like “29 December.” Do you read it as “the 29th of December”? Or “29 December”?

            Logically I understand why you’d want the order to be smallest -> largest, but my brain just can’t learn this.

            1. Crackerjack*

              You’d read it aloud as ‘the 29th of December’. And even if we were doing it the American way round, if it was written ‘December 29’ I’d read it aloud as ‘December the 29th.’ Or posssiiiibly ‘December 29th’ but I can’t not ‘th’ it!

              1. banoffee pie*

                you have to ‘th’ it! I couldn’t say December 29, just the number. I’d feel like Alexa or Siri or something

                1. londonedit*

                  Yes! And it’s the same with numbers – I’ve heard a lot of Americans say ‘one-hundred-four’ and that just sounds bizarre. We’d always say ‘one hundred and four’.

            2. I heart Paul Buchman*

              29 th of December or December 29th. We don’t say 29 without the th. For the little numbers we say the third of December. (Australia)

            3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I write “6 November 2021” but also “11/6/21”. I think I started doing the first to avoid punctuation, honestly.

          2. Wandering*

            In French it’s “minus a quarter;” “10 moins quart” is 9:45. Half hours are more commonly added, eg “9 et demi” is 9:30.

            One of my favorite things about learning other languages is recognizing the idiosyncrasies of my own.

        3. GermanGirl*

          Ah, I’d get thoroughly confused by that one.

          German also has half nine but it means 8:30 – the clock has moved half of the way to nine. In the same way you can say quarter nine and three-quarter nine to indicate 8:15 and 8:45 BUT only about half of Germany understands this form of telling the time. The other half uses quarter past eight and quarter to nine for those times – but half nine for 8:30 is universal.

          So having finally come to terms with half past eight instead of half nine in English, I’d be so confused if someone said half nine without the “past”.

          1. WS*

            We used to have that in English, recently enough that my grandparents used it – “half of nine” means 8:30, “half past nine” means 9:30.

        4. Generic Name*

          I’m American, and I had never heard the term “restroom” when I was in kindergarten. I remember the teacher talking about the class’s schedule and when the restroom break would be. I was intrigued and wondered what a “rest room” looked like. I envisioned a room with soft carpeting and beanbags and imagined myself lying on a beanbag to rest. I was confused and disappointed when we were taken to the bathroom for our restroom break.

          1. Pennyworth*

            To me, bathroom and restroom are equally silly. You are not going there either to rest or to bathe. The euphemism ‘can’t go to the bathroom’ for constipation is beyond weird. But I am euphemism averse.

        5. RagingADHD*

          In the US, “colleague” is a broader term than “co-worker.” Your co-workers are people who work for the same employer and usually people you interact with regularly.

          Your colleagues are people who work in the same general field.

          1. Cheshire acat*

            Interesting, I’m also in the US but here we define the terms differently. Colleagues work for the same company but in different departments or roles, while co-workers are the people in my department/similar roles with whom I interact daily.

        6. banoffee pie*

          Is it true that Americans don’t say fortnight and just say two weeks? I love the word fortnight!

        7. Sleepy Student*

          In Dutch (like in German and Danish, I’ve just read) that means 8:30!
          When I was on exchange in Ireland in high school, my host family told me that breakfast was at half 7. I was not about to be rude to my host family, so I dutifully got up at 6 and was dressed and made up at 6:30, only to realise that, since the house was completely dark and quiet, it probably meant half past 7! Lesson learned! I love false friends, but I would’ve loved another hour of sleep more!

      3. Crackerjack*

        Most of the Australian ones are the same in England, but how do you ‘root’ for sex? That just brings up images of a pig snuffling for truffles – not sexy!

        1. The Dogman*

          In the sense of giving someone a good “rooting” is how I have heard it used… fairly crass but that is pretty standard for the Aussies…

        2. I heart Paul Buchman*

          Having a root or rooting is not sexy! It’s how teenage boys or extremely drunk, offensive men talk about sex. The term paints a picture :)

          1. allathian*

            Jerker used to be a fairly common Swedish given name, although it’s become a lot less popular in recent decades. Wanker is a Swedish family name, although it’s often spelled Wancker. I don’t know if anyone has the name Jerker Wancker in reality, but it’s perfectly possible.

        3. marvin the paranoid android*

          In Canada, we have a major (tourist-oriented) clothing store called Roots, and it is unfailingly amusing to Australians. To make things worse, the company’s icon is a beaver. I think the company should create a novelty branch office in Australia.

        4. Sc@rlettNZ*

          “but how do you ‘root’ for sex?” – They meant that the word ‘root’ also can be used to mean that you had sex with someone, e.g. I rooted my hot neighbour from next door would mean that you had shagged him.

      4. Carol the happy elf*

        My brother wondered why 3 people in his new school told him where to find some guy named “Lou”.

    2. JustForThis*

      Recently, some people on this site talked about inadvertently using “bye-bye” in work conversations and feeling silly afterward. English is not my first language, and I was really surprised to learn that “bye-bye” and especially “buh-bye” apparently are heard as very informal, maybe even childish. (I had thought it was totally fine to use in formal contexts, basically synonym to “good bye”.) I’d be really interested to find out whether this is a US/UK or otherwise regional thing.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        American here. “Good-bye” is perfectly standard. “Bye” is less formal, but fine. “Bye-bye” is even less formal. It is what you say to a small child. It isn’t impossible in speech between adults, but I wouldn’t suggest it in a business context. You might instead use “Bye now” as another informal version that does seem juvenile.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          I used to work with someone that said bye bye bye bye bye and continued until he had replaced the receiver. I may have picked that up.

          But I think ba-bye/buy-bye with the first syllable said very quickly (b-bye, really), in a cheerful breezy voice, is pretty normal in the UK and not childish/for children. It is if you say bye-bye and give the first stable it’s full phonetic value like the second bye. No that makes nonsense!

          1. londonedit*

            Classic British way to end a phone call: ‘OK great, cheers, thanks, bye now, buh-bye…’

            I also know an Irish chap who ends every phone call with ‘Bye now, bye, bye, byebyebyebye…’

          2. Tayto*

            Not British, but all Irish people end their phone calls like this! Ok not all. But it’s pretty common.

            1. Crackerjack*

              I’ve a friend who does this and she does have Irish heritage! I had no idea it was a regional thing, I thought it was just a slightly annoying iteration of not wanting to be the first one to hang up.

              1. banoffee pie*

                Northern Irish here. It’s not childish to say bye bye here, or even bye bye bye bye! It shows warmth/affection and also we’re overly polite and don’t want to annoy the other person by hanging up first.

      2. Washi*

        I’m in New England and bye bye feels childish, but I hear buh-bye all the time at work. I think it must be a regional thing.

        1. Gatomon*

          My family is from New England and buh-bye is what they say, and I’ve mangled it into mm-bye. A simple bye feels a little terse though.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        My friend who’s a YouTuber (and ironically, lives in England now) says “Byes! Byes byes byes!” at the end of all her videos. It’s just a cute thing she does. I’ve never heard anyone else do it.

        Most people in the US say “Bye,” or “Later.” My Canadian friend says “Cheers” for thanks and also sometimes for goodbye.

        1. Crackerjack*

          Cheers for thank you is ubiquitous everywhere I’ve been in England and yes, also for a casual goodbye.

      4. RagingADHD*

        Most work contexts in the US are pretty informal in speech. It’s quite normal to say buh-bye to anyone you would call by their first name.

        If you would call them Mr/Ms, or by a title, then probably not. But it’s not a major faux pas or offensive in any way.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      There is a blog on that topic, Separated by a Common Language, by an American linguist in London.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        Lynne Murphy’s book, The Prodigal Tongue, is excellent. She writes the blog “Separated by a Common Language.”

                1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

                  You’re right, and my memory is terrible. It’s ‘flyvemaskine’ in Danish, though!

    4. Astoria*

      To Americans, “scheme” has a connotation of crookedness or corruption – a scheme to defraud a bank, for example. I believe it is a neutral synonym for “plan” in Britain.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Yes it doesn’t necessarily mean bad here; it might be used in a slightly derogatory way “oh that’s just Jeff next door, he’s got some scheme for recycling his his beard trimmings as wigs for bald hedgehogs…”
        But if one is scheming one is plotting evil!

    5. SarahKay*

      Washing up. In the US this means (as I understand it) to wash one’s hands before a meal. In the UK it means to wash the dishes after a meal.
      A UK mild swear, and informal description of testicles/balls: bollocks. Spelt with an O, not with a U. (U spelling seen in a number of Buffy fan-fics with US people writing dialogue for Spike.)

      1. RagingADHD*

        Washing up is also differently constructed. I have heard/read UK dialogue where people say they are going to “do the washing-up” or refer to dish soap as “washing-up liquid” (though that may be archaic/stereotypical rather than normal usage).

        In the US, you wash up (yourself) for a meal or wash up before bed. And after a meal you might say you washed up in reference to cleaning the kitchen, but it’s more common to say you “did the dishes”.

        1. Isobel*

          Washing-up liquid is what it’s called normally – it’s not archaic. And yes “thanks for doing the washing-up” or “whose turn is it to do the washing-up”.

        2. The Dogman*

          “(though that may be archaic/stereotypical rather than normal usage).”

          Nope, this is uses in the adverts for that product and every single person I have ever heard refer to such a product here in the UK called it “washing up liquid”.

          We call it that as “Detergent” is usually used to mean the stuff for washing clothes over here!

          1. banoffee pie*

            yeah I can’t think what else you would call it except washing-up liquid. Fairy I guess? Like Hoover lol

              1. The Dogman*

                Dish soap would be a bar of hand soap on a cermaic dish in the bathroom/toilet to me…

                Language is fun!

    6. Virginia Plain*

      So what the other meaning of mind you? I’m UK and to me it means, however/but/that being said/you must remember though…. Does it means something else in America?

      I have a question for USAians arising from reading notalwaysright earlier. What is the difference between a bartender and a “bar back”? Here we normally said barman/barmaid or bar steward, and we’d understand the use of bartender. They all do the same thing – serve drinks at the bar, take money, maybe collect glasses and put them in the dishwasher, take food orders perhaps, bring bottles up from the cellar or get someone to change a barrel. What does a bar back do?

      1. Meh*

        The bar back is the bartenders helper. They bus glasses, can cut fruit, get ice, refill the beer, etc. Usually the bar back receives a cut of the bartenders tips.

      2. Crackerjack*

        Yeah I don’t think we have bar backs in the UK the barman/maid does it all. Maybe the KP helps if it’s a restaurant (KP is a kitchen porter, washer upper basically).

        Mind you as I’ve seen it used on here seems to mean ‘and what’s more…’ kind of like we would use ‘bear in mind’. To me in the UK, it means the opposite, more like ‘on the other hand’. So I’ve seen people say, for eg ‘my boss didn’t approve my leave request. Mind you, I had never taken a sick day or personal day in three years…’ whereas we would say ‘my boss didn’t approve my leave. Mind you, I had just had two weeks off sick unexpectedly, so…’ It sort of suggests an extenuating circumstance.

        1. Batgirl*

          Pubs in my area (Liverpool) used to hire teenagers as glass collectors. They were made known to the regulars as being legally unable to serve. You don’t see them much any more.

          1. londonedit*

            Yes that’s true! Same in my bits of England (London/south-west). You’re right, you don’t see young glass collectors in pubs anymore.

            Another point – I’ve worked out over the years what ‘bus’ means in terms of restaurants/bars but we don’t use that term here. We’d just say clearing tables or collecting glasses.

        2. A Wall*

          Only busy or fancy bars have barbacks, in other cases the bartenders do that stuff themselves. You get the extra job of a barback in bars where you need the extra hands to handle things that the bartenders don’t have time to get to if they’re also making drinks– especially stuff that requires someone to leave the back bar to go to a storage area or kitchen or whatever.

      3. MissCoco*

        I’m from the US and I think “mind you” can mean all of the above depending on context, but probably the most common usage would be closest to that being said.
        I’m curious to hear what the difference between the definitions is from someone who’s aware of it

        1. Eden*

          Yeah, those are all along the same lines as far as I (US) amd concerned. People here would say and understand both

      4. RagingADHD*

        In the US, children are told to mind the teacher or mind their parents, meaning listen to and obey.

        I believe in the UK it’s common to say someone minds children, meaning to tend and care for.

        Does the London Underground still announce “Mind the gap?” In the US, that sense of “mind” would be “watch out” or “look out” or “beware”. On the NYC subway they just say “Stand clear of the closing doors.” You have to mind the gap all on your own.

        1. Crackerjack*

          ‘Mind you’, from the Cambridge English dictionary:
          ‘used when you want to make what you have just said sound less strong:
          He’s very untidy about the house; mind you, I’m not much better.
          I know I’m lazy – I did go swimming yesterday, mind.’

          That’s what it means in English. It tempers the previous statement. But Merriam Webster has a very similar definition so maybe it does mean that in the US too and there’s just been some idiosyncratic use in the comment section of this site!

          I did find this:

          ‘A phrase used to indicate that someone must consider or pay attention to a particular piece of information:
          They can certainly afford to give some of their profits back to their employees, mind you.’

          We wouldn’t use it like that, just for emphasis. Only to correct or temper what we’ve just said.

          Re: ‘mind the gap’ – they do still say that! I think for all the examples you gave, ‘mind’ would mean ‘pay attention to’. Pay attention to your teachers, these children in your care, this huge step up from the train to the platform. But I have never (Cornwall, far south west) been asked to ‘mind’ my younger siblings or similar; we’d say ‘look after’ (so again with the connotation of watching them, paying attention).

        2. Virginia Plain*

          Yes London transport still exhorts us to mind the gap – not at every single station I don’t think but at some, often those with a curved platform, there is definitely a gap to mind. Clapham junction springs to mind!
          Thanks for the explanation of bar back! As others have said we do sometimes have glass collectors in pubs that are under 18 and so can’t serve alcohol. They do the washing up too! But pubs don’t normally have table service – in a restaurant etc the waiter or waitress (we don’t really say server) will clear the table and a bus is what you ride on to get home.

      5. A Wall*

        A barback is to a bartender as a busboy is to a server/waiter. It’s a lower-level job where you do all the little scut things (clearing and washing dirty dishes, getting things from storage, hauling ice from the back to the wells the bartenders are working at) that the people directly serving customers couldn’t get to without ignoring the customers too much.

        Not all bars have or need barbacks, it depends on how busy the place is and what kind of bar it is. In many places a bartender has plenty of time to do all those things themselves, and in other places they don’t.

        Also, as someone who used to work in bars, no Americans know what barbacks are either ;P Unless you work in the industry, that is. Customers assume barbacks are just bad bartenders that are ignoring them 99.999% of the time. And they can’t just say “oh no, I’m the barback” because no one knows what that means. What you usually do is gesture to the bartender they should be talking to and say “[name] is your bartender, they will help you in just a moment” or something.

    7. Virginia Plain*

      Ooh I’ve got one. Apple cider!
      I believe in the USA that pertains to pressed apple juice, no alcohol, that we would call cloudy apple juice. If fermented to produce alcohol, that is hard cider. Whereas here, apple juice is just called that, and cider specifically the alcoholic beverage (to us, apple cider sounds like saying grape wine). I was very confused a few years ago when I read a US person talking about getting hot spiced cider in Starbucks.

      I could also do with some direction about hard seltzer or any seltzer. So hard means with alcohol, but is seltzer just fizzy water (we’d say soda water) or fizzy mineral water or is is flavoured, is it a fizzy drink like sprite or something? I only ever use the word in the context of an otc medicine called alka-seltzer which is a soluble tablet of paracetamol (acetaminophen!) or maybe aspirin I forget, with antacids. Disgusting but great for a hangover.

      1. Meh*

        Hard seltzer has alcohol in it, usually flavored and canned. Seltzer/soda water would be your fizzy water. Plain and used as a mixer for alcohol- it’s generally not consumed on its own in the US (fizzy mineral water or flavored soda water yes). Sprite wouldn’t be called fizzy water, that is soda or pop.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          I prefer plain soda water to regular sodas or even flavored soda water, and have for decades. I’m in the Midwest U.S.

      2. Amey*

        Cloudy apple juice isn’t the same as apple cider! I’m an American who has lived in the UK for a long time and I’ve never found an equivalent to American apple cider here, I just don’t think it’s something that exists in the UK.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          So what is it? You press your apples and the juice comes out, then what? If you don’t do anything else then that would be cloudy apple juice (as you haven’t filtered it to make it clear). What’s the thing that makes it apple cider? Are further flavours added?

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            With apple cider you boil the water, juice, and apples (and other things to add flavor) for several hours, which I think creates a much denser drink.

          2. PT*

            A lot of juices in the US are heavily processed and contain added/fake sugar. They’re not really juice so much as fruit soda without carbonation.

            Nonalcoholic cider is made from 100% fresh apples. It spoils if it’s not kept refrigerated.

      3. PollyQ*

        In the US, traditionally selzer water is plain carbonated water with just a teeny bit of salt. But lightly-flavored, unsweetened selzer water has gotten hugely popular over the past few years, so that’s probably what someone means if they say “selzer water.” Flavors are often citrus or fruit. Sodas, which would include Sprite, are more strongly flavored and sweetened, either with sugar, corn syrup, or an artificial sweetener.

        Cider used to just mean cloudy apple juice, but hard ciders have become much more popular in the past couple decades, so depending on context, “cider” by itself might mean hard cider.

        1. The Dogman*

          What you call “Soda” we call “fizzy” while “Soda” to us means just carbonated water.

          The slightly fizzy, possibly mineral enhanced waters are “tonics” over here…

          1. Virginia Plain*

            Ooh Dogman where is “here” to you? I’m in Britain and only know tonic water as the fizzy mixer with a little quinine in that you put in gin. Many artisanal hipster varieties are available with fancy extra botanicals but they all have that traditional slight bitterness and definitely aren’t flavoured mineral waters.

            1. The Dogman*

              Yes the UK, I am in South Wales…

              My wife is an afficianado of the flavoured tonics, she particularly like the tangerine flavoured ones!

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Midwest U.S. use: Apple juice is usually the super-filtered shelf-stable drink. Cider is usually fresh and made seasonally and is cloudy and much more flavorful. Hard cider is the boozy stuff, sold with the beer selections. Then there’s apple schnapps, apple brandy, and other liqueur/liquor goodies.

      4. Clisby*

        Cider in the US isn’t necessarily made from apples, although that’s the most common. If someone just said “cider” I’d assume apple, but I’ve seen peach cider and pear cider for sale here. Just like wine isn’t necessarily made from grapes. If someone didn’t specify, I’d assume grapes, but of course you can make wine out of many different fruits.

    8. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Oh, my husband is North American and I’m Australian so we regularly have fun with this. It’s especially funny when one of us inadvertently uses the other’s expression. Here’s what comes to mind (US vs AU):

      Sidewalk vs footpath
      Doing the laundry vs the washing
      Taking out the trash vs rubbish
      Going to the store vs shops
      Parking lot vs carpark
      Petrol station vs servo
      Thrift store vs op shop
      Liquor store vs bottle-o
      Cask wine vs goon
      Afternoon vs arvo
      Getting up early vs at sparrow’s (fart)
      Biscuits vs biccies
      Warm beverage vs cuppa
      Tracksuit pants vs trakkie-dacks
      Flip-flops vs thongs
      Thongs vs g-strings
      Swimsuit vs togs
      Take-out vs take-away
      Crisps vs chips
      Fries vs chips
      Corn chips vs chips
      Pretzels vs chips
      Carpenter vs chippie
      Electrician vs sparky
      Tradesman vs tradie
      That man vs old mate
      That woman vs old love
      Holy shit! vs Bloody hell!
      Not the sharpest knife in the drawer vs a few stubbies short of a six-pack
      A little crazy vs a few ‘roos loose in the top paddock
      Hmmm vs yeah nah

      1. Meh*

        Does North American = Canadian, because petrol station isn’t one the Americans use. We don’t use petrol at all. Just good ‘ol gas ;)

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Yes, lol! Although come to think of it, I don’t know now if petrol station is me just trying to find the actual English word to explain wtf a servo is or if it’s what he would actually say back home. Servo is now firmly in his vernacular.

        2. Oui je parle franglais*

          Canadians also say gas in English. Technically it’s pétrole in French but half the time we just say gaz (which is an anglicisme/Franglais word since gaz really means gas like helium or oxygen). Don’t know if that’s universal to all forms of Canadian French, there’s quite a bit of variation regionally.

            1. Oui, je parle Franglais*

              Yes, sorry, I thought I was being clear that I am talking about the Canadian context. You do see essence here too on signs etc but I’ve never heard anyone say it. But again, maybe that’s not what people do in the Gaspésie, never spent time there. Canadian French is very very regional.

      2. Idyllic Gulag*

        Also North American (US) and a tradesman – we definitely call electricians sparkies. Not considered disrespectful, unlike calling the plumbers “waterboys”, the carpenters “wood butchers”, and the ironworkers “boltheads”.

        In my experience, the general American public doesn’t use the term though.

        1. londonedit*

          I love the Finnish version, which is ‘doesn’t have all the Moomins in the valley’. The British version would be ‘a sandwich short of a picnic’.

          1. the cat's ass*

            or, not traveling with a full seabag (coastal new england)
            the elevation doesnt go all the way to the top
            a few fries short of a happy meal…

            whyyyyy to i know these (from childhood)

            1. banoffee pie*

              The Moomins could get quite dark and sad at times. At least it seemed that way to me when I was a kid. I loved the show/programme though. (just keeping the theme going there lol)

              1. allathian*

                I just did a few years ago. I read them aloud to my son in the original Swedish, like my dad did when I was a kid.

      3. Rockette J Squirrel*

        I’ll be actively looking for an opportunity to use “a few roos loose in the top paddock”. I love this!

      4. Lurker*

        Thongs and g-strings are actually different though. A thong has a wider piece of cloth, whereas a g-string is much thinner – like a string.

          1. Windchime*

            When I was a kid (U.S.), thongs did indeed go on your feet. At that time, they were usually made of a rubber-type material. It’s only been in the last couple of decades that the word came to mean a type of racy underwear, and then people started calling the rubber shoes “flip flops”. But people of my generation (I’m 60) grew up calling those “thongs”.

            1. Ampersand*

              I’m glad to hear this—in the 80s my mom called her flip flops “thongs” so that’s what I grew up hearing. But I never heard everyone else say it, and then the 90s happened and the meaning of the word changed. I didn’t know if it was commonly used in the US or if it was just my mom. In my head I still call them thongs!

          2. Lurker*

            Missing my point. Missing Cat Memes used the example that the Australian “equivalent” of thong (underwear) is g-string. My point is that a thong and a g string are actually two distinctly different types of underwear. It’s like saying an A-line skirt is the same as a pencil skirt. They’re similar in that they’re both skirts, but they are not the same.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      One of the less common ones, but one I’ll never forget is marrow (UK) meaning zucchini (US), not the pith or core of something, usually bones (US). This is because I used to work for the American Red Cross in a laboratory that did tissue typing, largely for bone marrow transplants. So I had a tee shirt from the “National Marrow Donor Program”, or NMDP, a large nonprofit in the US that funds testing for those who need bone marrow transplants. It was hilarious when I wore this shirt in England, someone asked me about it, and explained their standard use of marrow, and I realized it sounded like a food bank for one type of squash!

      1. Crackerjack*

        Ha! Yeah we do use marrow to mean the heart of something ‘get to the marrow of the matter’, but if we meant bone marrow we’d probably say bone marrow. And to me, the translation for zucchini is courgette – marrow is something different (although maybe not much different… Bigger, more tasteless!)

        1. Zucchini farmer*

          Yes, good, I run a vegetable farm on the US east coast and we pick zucchini at a slim size before the seeds enlarge and the flesh gets spongy; I thought this was a courgette across the pond. I had always understood the British “marrow” squash to be some sort of overgrown summer squash left to get huge and I guess tasteless? (As opposed to a winter squash, left on the plant to grow to maturity, which becomes tasty when cooked.)

          Interestingly, judging from the language of people who come to work here, there is some regional (?) disagreement about whether “summer squash” encompasses both zucchini and yellow (crookneck) squash, or whether zucchini is one type of squash and summer squash is a different type (including yellow squash, pattypan, etc, but NOT zucchini). To me, they are all summer squash, as opposed to the hard-rind long-storing winter squash.

          1. londonedit*

            A marrow is like a giant courgette/zucchini and they’re usually pretty tasteless! Courgette is just the British word for zucchini. I’m not sure what a summer squash is! We have butternut squash (which Australians call pumpkins) and other squash like acorn squash etc, and then orange pumpkins like you’d have for Halloween. There’s also the aubergine/eggplant difference!

            1. Amey*

              Summer squash is yellow courgette! Marrows are just really big overgrown courgettes (zucchini) which everyone who grows their own vegetables gets sometimes.

              1. Crackerjack*

                Yeah I think marrows used to be more common than courgettes in England (possibly due to the obsession with growing prize vegetables for the village fair…?) but because they tasted like nothing we decided to stop it and pick them as courgettes instead. I rarely see a marrow in the shops but sometimes I have to eat one when my dad left me to look after his garden and I missed a courgette to harvest.

              2. Pennyworth*

                No, a vegetable marrow is not the same as a zucchini/courgette. It is pale green and completely tasteless. My mother used to serve it to us at least once a week in summer.

                1. Amey*

                  In British usage now a marrow is absolutely a very large left on the plant courgette and they definitely are watery and tasteless. I know links get blocked in comments for a while but if you Google ‘What is a marrow?’ and click the BBC Food link, it’s defined that way and what all the gardeners around me call it! I’ve always wondered whether there was a different definition in the past – I feel like Poirot retiring to grow vegetable marrows has to be more than just oversized tasteless courgettes.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I always think of the disappearance of Mr. Brown’s prize marrow in More About Paddington and how he played detective to find it. Turns out Mrs. Brown accidentally cooked it for dinner, lol.

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      To “table” something, like a discussion or motion or proposal, at a meeting is 100% opposite in U.S. and U.K./Canada English. My work is back and forth between Canada and the States and I swear I have to take a second, every single time, when someone says they want to “table” a discussion.

      1. Crackerjack*

        Wait.. what does that mean in the US? I would think to table a discussion meant to arrange a discussion, to set one up.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          In the U.S. you’ll often hear “let’s table that for later,” meaning, “let’s postpone that agenda item until another time.”

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              Well, from Parliament to professional meetings, I’ve only ever heard it to mean “this is on the agenda and we’re about to start talking about it now.” Maybe different areas of Canada use it differently. My experience is Toronto/Ottawa and Atlantic Canada.

        2. GermanGirl*

          Iirc in the US it means to put a topic aside for at least the rest of the meeting (sometimes even the rest of the project) and focus on something else.

          1. Calm Water*

            I guess I have heard both used but understood from context whether the matter was to be set aside or addressed next. Language is weird!

        3. fhqwhgads*

          In the US it means you are taking it off the agenda/deferring the discussion. So in the US “let’s table that for now” means “let’s stop discussing this and do it at another time”. Like Glamorization, Esq said, the opposite of what it means in the UK.

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I’ll just throw in a couple I haven’t seen yet (we lived in England for three years):
      aubergine for eggplant
      pudding for dessert (that one took a while for me to understand!)
      spring greens for collards (had a southern friend who saw fields of them, went to the store, asked for collards, got a blank stare…finally figured it out)

      1. Crackerjack*

        Ooh I’d never heard the word collards!

        For what it’s worth, I would never say pudding for dessert. To me that’s an upper class terminology (or upper middle). Dessert is standard here on restaurant menus and amongst normal people talk but in Cornwall wed say ‘afters’.

        1. Laura Petrie*

          I’m a working class northerner and we have pudding after tea! To me it’s a normal term and never considered it to be posh.

          We did play tig at primary school. I was so confused about tag…

        2. londonedit*

          Middle-class/upper-middle southern English here and it’s always been pudding in my family.

          Don’t get a group of Brits from different parts of the country started on the lunch/dinner/tea/supper conversation…!

          1. banoffee pie*

            Too late! Here in Northern Ireland the upper-middle class have dinner and the others (like my family) have tea :)

            1. Crackerjack*

              In Cornwall, front room or sitting room. But we actually sit in the kitchen most of the time. Sitting room for best.

              We have dinner at 1ish and tea at 6ish and supper just before bed (well an hour or half an hour before bed), probably a piece of cake and a cup of tea. And crowse mid morning (more cake and tea).

            2. banoffee pie*

              I’ve heard all three. Round here, lounge and sitting room would be posher than living room. Sitting room is probably most like what *we think* English people say (even if they don’t!), therefore posher lol

        3. RagingADHD*

          Collards and kale are closely related, and are both relatives of the cabbage and broccoli family.

      2. RagingADHD*

        And US pudding is UK custard.

        US spring greens are a salad mix, like baby arugula (rocket), baby spinach, etc.

        1. Crackerjack*

          OH! I did not realise arugula was rocket! I thought it was a different salad lead we didn’t have here! Like alfalfa (? don’t tell me that’s just an American term for watercress or something!)

          But would an American eat pudding like we would eat custard i.e. hot, served over apple pie or jam roly poly? It always seems to appear in hospital dinners (e.g. on Grey’s Anatomy) in little pots, eaten on its own, presumably cold. If so, I think that’s more blancmange than custard.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, I don’t think it’s exactly the same–it’s not a topping, and we don’t have a pourable version of it. And it’s a genus–the closest would be vanilla pudding, but there’s chocolate pudding and banana pudding, etc. We wouldn’t just say “pudding.” It’s also somewhat old-fashioned now; the banana pudding (nanner pudding, as it’s often known) is a thing that our parents and grandparents might have made, and the others are superseded in fashion by mousses and foams.

            1. Crackerjack*

              Yes, that’s blancmange. Or Angel Delight as it’s almost universally known here, after the famous instant packet brand. That’s another thing I don’t know if Americans do – co-opt brand names to be a generic name for the item – maybe I’m just not exposed to it because of course they can’t do it in films, but here you ‘do the hoovering’ whatever brand of vacuum cleaner you’re using, ‘Fairy Liquid’ means washing up liquid whatever it is, etc.

              1. fposte*

                Huh, I’d never put those together. Pudding usually has much less thickener (and never gelatin, IME, so it’s more like mayonnaise or ketchup texture rather than something moldable); people who make it homemade these days often add eggs. But it’s mostly made out of a packet anyway, which is where it has some similarities with custard. So I’d say blancmange but leaning toward custard.

                1. fposte*

                  To be clear, I mean “I *had* never put those together,” not “I *would* never put those together.” I think you’ve called it that they’re essentially the same.

              2. pumpkin socks*

                yes, brand names for generic thing is absolutely done. “kleenex” for tissues comes to mind. There’s a couple of others that I can’t think of right now…

                1. Owler*

                  Google (verb for search). Zoom (any video call). I don’t think Zoom will last.

                  Xerox (photocopy), Kleenex (tissue for blowing your nose), Band-aid (bandage or plaster), Ziploc (plastic storage bags)…

                2. SarahKay*

                  Dymo label printers – historically used to print black text on a yellow strip of sticky-backed plastic, although they now print a much wider range of labels.
                  I work for a company that makes its own version and we are strongly encouraged to ‘Buy-Own-Brand’ so mostly we have Own Brand and they still get called dymo printers by pretty much everyone. Apparently the site that makes them is very bitter about this.

                3. Brrrrr*

                  Post-It for piece of self-sticking notepaper (though we also frequently call them stickies). Sharpie for permanent coloured marker that writes on almost anything.
                  Tylenol for acetaminophen and Advil for Ibuprofen (pain-killers).

    12. fposte*

      Bakeoff can be a great source of those. A Canadian friend and I just went down a Google hole on honeycomb/hokey pokey/sponge candy. It turns out there’s a whole Wikipedia article on its many names.

      Oh, and I was stunned to find that areas in the English North play tig and not tag. It seems so tied to the verb that I can’t wrap my mind around that.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, another one! When you touch somebody in the game, would you say you ticked them? Or is it only the name of the game?

        2. SarahKay*

          So glad you said that as I’d always called it ‘tick’ but over the years it only over seemed to be Tig or Tag. I’d been beginning to wonder if I’d just spend my childhood mis-hearing / mis-pronouncing Tig.

      1. Jules of the River*

        Bakeoff is full of those! I just watched an episode where cakes were topped with a “jelly” layer and it took me a minute to realize they meant a large layer of sweetened, decorated gelatin. In America jelly is a spread made of fruit juice, jam is a spread of fruit pieces, and preserves is a spread of whole fruit – although I’ve heard people use the terms more or less interchangeably they all mean something you’d put on toast, while sweetened gelatin is universally called “jello”.

      2. The Dogman*

        Tig is the name in the South and in Scotland too…

        I don’t think I have ever heard it called Tag outside of american media.

      3. banoffee pie*

        It’s tig in Northern Ireland too. When you catch the person you say ‘you’re it’ for some reason.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, we would say “You’re it” in American, too. “It” was basically a job title, so somebody would say “Who’s it?” and you’d say “banoffee pie” or “fposte.”

    13. My Brain Is Exploding*

      another one: spouse was looking for denatured alcohol in England. Couldn’t find any. Eventually read a book and discovered that he should have been looking for methylated spirits.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I was minorly shocked when my Irish/Scottish cousins referred to my grandfather as being a “fresh” old man. I thought they meant he had made a sexually inappropriate comment or they felt he had gotten fresh with them, so I questioned them. Apparently they meant he was spry, youthful, healthy and active or something like that.

      1. Wireknitter*

        As an American exchange student in England, I was unprepared for the shock on my friends faces when I innocently remarked at a meal that I needed to cut my bangs-trim my fringe is what I was told I should have said.

    15. Tea and Sympathy*

      Quite! Coworker A (English) once told me (American) that he didn’t think that Coworker B (Irish) liked him much. So when B happened to say that he thought A was “quite nice”, I happily, helpfully passed that along to A…who told me that the UK meaning of quite is fairly, as opposed to the US meaning of very. Oops. That was awkward.

      1. The Dogman*

        Yeah that old understatement thing can be tricky in UK English, sometimes it is just understated, and others, like that one for you, it is actually just being polite.

        Sorry that happened, must have been a bit of a moment! ;)

        (BTW in that context “quite nice” probably really translates to a number of unprintables, someone might have had a spot of the old “Oi’m Irish so I hates the English” going on, sadly we still have lots of Welsh, Scots and Irish people who are prejudiced against all English people regardless of whether said English persons Great-Great-etcetcetc-Grandparents had any part in oppressing their Celtic Great-etcetcetc-Grandparents.)

        “Please, tell me more” is another tricky one… in the US it means literally that, in the UK it basically means “leave now and I don’t care if you die somewhere!”

        The differences can be pretty entertaining if we are a step or two back from any embarrassment! ;)

      2. Pennyworth*

        Floor seems to have a much wider meaning in the UK (from watching ambulance programs). I think of floors just being inside buildings, in the UK it seem to be inside and outside.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, although I suspect that’s regional. At least when I lived in the West Country in the mid-80s, floor only referred to the surface you walk on inside a building, or at any rate covered by a roof, as in a covered railway station. But when I’ve watched British ambulance programs, it seems to refer to any paved surface, whether indoors or out.

        2. Virginia Plain*

          Yes from watching US tv the word ground is often used when we would say floor. If I said someone fell on the floor I would not be specifying inside or outside.

      3. I take tea*

        I’ve has something similar with Swedish and Danish, somebody said something like “they could tolerate me fairly well”. Turned out that it was a much more positive statement in Danish.

    16. Jules of the River*

      US vs UK:
      – Baking soda vs bicarbonate of soda
      – Acetominophen vs paracetomol
      – Minivan vs people mover
      – Candies vs sweeties

      Also, the term “car park” makes me smile every time. I always briefly imagine it’s something like a dog park: a designated space for cars to let loose and run around with each other.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Car parks can be like that, especially round here ;) Parking lot sounds funny to me, I don’t know why.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          We don’t really use “lot” in that sense, do we? Like our version of a vacant lot would be a building site (construction site?) or an abandoned building or “where the old Saab garage used to be but they knocked it down”. A “lot” to me suggests something in an auction.

          1. banoffee pie*

            ‘Lot’ screams ‘auction’ to me. Parking lot is starting to grow on me though, maybe cos I read this blog so much. I would say building site, not construction site, or ‘where that used to be but they knocked it down’! That’s exactly what I would say too. We mustn’t be as succint as Americans haha

            1. Ampersand*

              Which is funny, because I’ve always thought car park was so much more succinct than parking lot. :)

    17. New Dog Owner*

      I haven’t lived in the UK for 20 years but I had to laugh when I got the line edits back on my book – so many British-isms I had never noticed before! “Grey” instead of “gray,” lots of “towards” and “amidst” (I guess Americans … don’t use the s??) and at least one reference to a brand name that apparently isn’t recognized over here. Whoops!

      1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

        My editorial style guide dictates that I remove the ‘-s’ from words such as ‘towards’ and ‘forwards’ and the ‘-st’ from ‘amongst’ or ‘amidst.’ These spellings are considered British English. The guide deems American English spelling to be ‘toward,’ ‘forward,’ ‘among,’ and ‘amid.’ You can also see by my punctuation that I’m in the U.S.
        All of this is arbitrary and prescriptive and something I’ve seen in a few guides over many years. The spellings you use are acceptable here, and you shouldn’t be knocked for them.

        1. banoffee pie*

          I’ve just done some proofreading qualifications, and ‘amidst, whilst’ etc are considered old-fashioned in the UK now too. They definitely slow down the action in a novel, imo. The style guides seem to be advising amid, while etc now.

          1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

            I understand the reasoning for that, and it’s likely why we excise those endings. I find so many examples of ‘amidst’ and ‘amongst’ when I edit that I suspect no one told Noah Webster to drop them from his dictionary.

      2. Random Biter*

        Dear UK friends, never offer to “knock up” an American unless you really do want to have kids with them

    18. WoodswomanWrites*

      Back in the 1980s, I worked at a place in the US that hosted British interns for the summer. We were doing door-to-door fundraising and at the end of each evening we would have to do paperwork manually to record everything, using pencils rather than pens so we could erase any mistakes, doing it as a group. One of the interns didn’t have a good eraser on his pencil, and asked if anyone else had one. But because of the difference in language, he asked, “Does anyone have a rubber?” Of course we all burst out laughing because we were thinking he was asking for a condom.

      I lived in Scotland for a bit, doing housekeeping at a bed and breakfast in exchange for my housing there. The man who ran the bed and breakfast was English. If I was trying to emphasize something I was talking about, I would finish a sentence with the word “period” as many Americans do. Eventually the man of the couple asked me, “Why are you saying menstruation?” That was how I learned that the correct phrase was “full stop.”

      1. The Dogman*

        ” “Why are you saying menstruation?” That was how I learned that the correct phrase was “full stop.””

        Actually Lol’d, and my dogs think I am mad again now…

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          It’s especially funny to me now because he was a reserved person, and I can only imagine how tough it was for him to even bring that up.

          1. The Dogman*

            I think I know that type of person, he would have had a hard time getting to the stage of bringing it up I know!

            Poor him lol.

      2. comityoferrors*

        Yes! James Acaster has a great bit about the terrible “rubbers” (erasers to me as an American) from a museum gift shop and I was 50-75% through the joke the first time before I realized he was not buying cheap museum condoms. I’ve re-watched his specials so many times and that one still never sounds quite right to me, even knowing what he means.

    19. Girasol*

      Sitting around the campfire once a British woman said she was going to bed and asked her husband to “knock me up in the morning.” The Americans laughed because to them “knocked up” isn’t “wakened” but “made pregnant.”

      1. marvin the paranoid android*

        Similarly, I learned the hard way that the phrase “I’m full” in French means “I’m pregnant” translated into Italian.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      ‘This is different to that.” — UK
      ‘This is different from that.” — US
      Declared incorrect by English teachers but commonly used: ‘This is different than that.” — US
      ‘Knock you up’ — UK it means knock on the door to visit. US it is vulgar way to say get you pregnant.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, “different to” is a great one. I think it shows how difficult it is to get the right preposition for comparatives.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          My mum would scold me for saying “different to”; I think it is strictly speaking “bad English”. But not as bad as “different than”.
          Other things I was not to say:
          I’m going [destination] (omitting the “to”
          I don’t want no (or other double negatives)

      2. londonedit*

        No way – ‘different from’ is standard British English! And ‘knocked up’ in that sense is either archaic or regional, it means ‘get pregnant’ where I’m from.

    21. banoffee pie*

      UK US
      (in a car)
      boot trunk
      bonnet hood
      glove box glove compartment

      (kitchen stuff)
      icing sugar confectioner’s/powdered sugar
      rocket arugula
      self-raising flour self-rising flour
      biscuits cookies
      coriander cilantro
      swede rutabaga

      And gumption is more like common sense here, whereas in ask a manager land it seems to be extreme cheek in putting yourself forward for jobs ;)

      1. Lilith*

        Please, UKers, I’m in the US. Tell the group what your version of ‘homely’ means.
        Also, I’ve been watching this British show called GPs (can’t recall the rest of the title). These doctors call rectums ‘back passages.’ Hilarious

        1. allathian*

          In the US you’d probably say homey when you mean what the British mean by homely, cozy and homelike. Someone who likes to keep a nice and cozy house and who has simple tastes and is unpretentious could be described as homely in the UK. By this definition, it’s possible to be both attractive and homely. In the UK, a fairly unattractive woman would probably be called plain, I suspect. Maybe a British poster could confirm?

          1. Virginia Plain*

            I can confirm that (although we spell it cosy!). I only know that homely means or meant a bit unattractive from reading Anne if Green Gables. I remember being somewhat confused – why is something that is like a home, ugly?! Homes are nice!

            GPs are primary care physicians I gather, and yes they do say things like back passage; I think here we are a bit more coy about using the anatomical terms for things, well maybe partly coy and partly speaking to a patient in terms familiar to them. But in general casual speech outside any medical context, we say womb rather than uterus, and will go through a large number of other words before we say vagina.

          2. Crackerjack*

            Yeah we’d say plain. I, too, only discovered the American meaning from Anne of Green Gables.

            Back passage is a common euphemism for rectum, not rude, just intended to be relatable and clear I suspect. Do Americans not have that sort of casual, non swearing slang for body parts/functions? See also: passing wind, time of the month, lady parts, willy, tummy. Although I don’t think a doctor would say lady parts or willy I’ve heard all the others from medical staff.

            1. banoffee pie*

              I’m in the UK (Northern Ireland) and tbh I can never take the term ‘back passage’ seriously. There’s something daft about it. Yes, it’s a me thing. I think most people think it’s a perfectly cromulent word ;)

            2. Ampersand*

              I’m amused that you said a euphemism is used for clarity, haha. I’m thinking back to when I was pregnant (I’m in the U.S.) and so there was lots of talk about my various body parts—high risk pregnancy required lots of appointments—and I don’t recall my doctors using euphemisms. That would have stood out to me. I think American doctors are more likely to use anatomical names, overall. I would think to be a doctor you can’t be squeamish, and also you’d only use euphemisms if you’re squeamish. I have no idea if this is accurate—and it may be wholly American—just my perception!

            3. LutherstadtWittenberg*

              ‘Anne of Green Gables’ is a Canadian book and television series! Canadian English has a mix, it seems.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh and let’s not forget snogging. US readers of Harry Potter now recognize it, but my teenager says is rarely used.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          There was a thread (heh) here a month or so ago that discussed the different meanings of ‘vest’. Tank tops and waistcoat were in there and I got them all mixed up in my mind.

        2. Clisby*

          Yeah, I had never heard that term pre-Harry Potter. I pretty much understood it from the context, but had to look it up to be sure.

          I remember once listening to a 3rd-grader read aloud from one of the Potter books, and it said something about people wearing their “dinner things.” She looked up, completely confused, and said, “What are dinner things?”

          I did know what that meant, but agreed with her that it sounded odd.

    22. My Brain Is Exploding*

      OOH…yard v garden! In the US we say the back or front yard, which Brits interpret as being paved. To Brits, this grassy area is the garden, where to those in the US, the garden implies specific growing of flowers or vegetables.

    23. marvin the paranoid android*

      My favourite is “pants.” When I’m speaking to my elderly British relatives I have to be careful to say “trousers” to avoid scandalizing them. However, I’m very fond of “pants” as an adjective, although if I say it to fellow Canadians, they are usually confused. Another of my favourite expressions is “I can’t be arsed” but it doesn’t work with a Canadian accent.

      1. Cordelia*

        I’m English, worked in Canada for a while and got used to wearing Dress Pants to work. Eventually got over my amusement, and even got accustomed to Comfort Pants – dress pants sold by a particular store, with elasticated waists…. Pants, of course, are underpants/knickers.

        1. Cordelia*

          ooh, and another one just came to me (I like this game!)
          My Canadian friends found “swimming costume” hilarious, but couldn’t explain why “bathing suit” was any better

          1. marvin the paranoid android*

            I think both are objectively ridiculous, but you get inoculated to it once you’ve heard it enough. Along the clothing line, I think a lot of Canadians are confused by “fancy dress” and take it to mean wearing expensive clothing. It seems like a fun term to me, though. I don’t think we have an exact equivalent.

      2. banoffee pie*

        I love pants as an adjective. It wouldn’t work so well if pants just meant trousers here ;)

      3. marvin the paranoid android*

        And actually, this is a full other discussion, but I love Polari and get excited whenever I hear a Polari word or phrase in the wild. A few have made it over into North America through drag and gay culture generally, but it’s a lot thicker on the ground in the UK, for obvious reasons.

    24. I take tea*

      Thank you all for this thread! It’s been a joy to read, and informative. We are usually taught British English in school, but have much cultural influence from the US, so both versions are somewhat familiar, but not to this extent. Australia was a bonus – but no NZ here?

    25. Random Biter*

      I recently discovered I had a 2nd cousin in England (YAY!) and we’ve been having the whole “why do you say…?” conversation. He dislikes the term “math,” he says it should be “maths.” Me, on the other hand, learned that I should get an electric kettle for tea water rather than nuking it, and that I could SO eat a bacon sarnie or chip buttie.

  10. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Wardrobe clean-outs: what’s your strategy?

    I’m finding that between WFH and COVID kilos, I’m probably only wearing about 10% of my wardrobe right now. I’m pretty good with regularly getting rid of worn out or poorly chosen clothing, or styles I’ve outgrown, but I’m having trouble letting go of the vast volume of unworn items that are left. Because my style is quirky and it’s hard to get clothing that suits my body shape, I’ve spent quite a bit of time and money over the last few years collecting unique, timeless, quality pieces. Thing is, most of them just don’t fit me well anymore, or, while lovely, were bought for the office and are now forever “tainted” as workwear.

    I hate hoarding and clutter, but I also hate waste and I’m on a tight budget right now. Should I just accept that my changing middle-aged body will probably never fit into this stuff again and start replacing it all with larger sized, lesser quality/more boring clothing that I feel at least ok in? Or should I take this as a nudge to better manage my health and middle-age spread, using my dearth of clothing options as motivation?

    What have you done and how did it work out for you?

    1. Fair Guinevere*

      I’m late twenties so grain of salt and it might not work when I grow older, but baring pregnancy I don’t buy bigger clothing. To my I take the fact that my clothing is getting tight as a sign I need to change my health routine. So far it’s worked for me, but isn’t the right approach for everyone.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s my go as well — I’m 40, and I told my doc that I’m not discussing my weight as long as my clothes still fit, but when my clothes start to fit differently, I dust off my calorie counting app and such, because I would rather count calories for a month or two than go shopping for new pants. (GOD I hate shopping for pants.) She thought that seemed reasonable to her.

    2. Holiday Prep*

      Do you have any nice thrift shops near you? I’ve taken a two prong approach:

      – Storage for clothes I love but just don’t fit right now after kiddo
      – Donating anything I won’t wear again (short dresses, mini skirts, literally anything itchy or even mildly unflattering)

      Knowing where all the thrift stores are reminds me that in twenty minutes for $20 I can have 3 new-to-me dresses that are often a better name brand than I would ever pay full price for. Plus I get the fun of shopping! My sanity and need for space is worth $20. That’s what helped me anyway, I know everyone’s circumstances can really vary (Ex. assumes you have secondhand shops nearby, transportation to access them, and the patience to sift through some junk to find gems).

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Many! However, because of my body shape and taste in clothing, it can be a long, frustrating experience to find anything I like that fits, and I don’t have a lot of patience for clothes shopping at the best of times (one major reason I don’t want to let go of my current wardrobe!). It’s also not uncommon (in Australia, city area) to pay more for a used clothing item in a charity store than you would for something similar, brand new, in a department store sale.

        Also, apparently a large volume of our clothing donations are being shipped offshore as landfill. Not that it necessarily means it’s where everything goes and that I should stop donating, but there is also that aspect for me to consider in donating my much-loved, high-quality but too-small clothing.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I like BuyNothing and FreeCycle as ways to give it away locally to people who want the items.

    3. Meh*

      Covid weight gain and over 40 here. So much doesn’t fit right now. I bought some things to tide me over and started back at working out. I haven’t lost a pound but I feel in more control over things (and my shoulders look amazing).

      Clothing can be an important part of expressing personality. I wouldn’t choose things that bore you. Look for pieces that you can be happy!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Second this! I’ve just started focusing on getting in some type of exercise each day and being much more mindful about what I’m eating. Nothing crazy, but having oatmeal instead of a sandwich for lunch, say. I’ve lost 5 pounds and at least my winter jacket is fitting a bit better so far! I really don’t want to swap out my clothes. They’re already a couple of sizes bigger than what I wish they were!

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        And now you can show off those shoulders!

        Agreed, finding pieces that feel good AND express personality is important to me. I’ll pass on the mom jeans trend, thanks.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I wouldn’t choose things that bore you.
        This is why I wouldn’t follow the path of getting rid of the old and buying new pieces that work now–because OP frames this so negatively I suspect it would land negatively.

        Meh, one of the more inspiring meme threads I recall had a bunch of people who had changed their body without losing a pound. Focus on how you feel!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Instead of looking at a scale, I use my clothes to tell me when I need to cut back on snacking or second helpings.
      BUT. Our bodies do shift around with age/life events so that has to be a factor. I ended up going into websites for “older women” to see what points to consider. This may help make choices easier. So basically, yes, take care of your health AND keep clothes on hand that fit and flatter you. Do both. The two go hand-in-hand. I know if I feel good about how I look that encourages me to be more careful about food and life choices.

      My number one thing is the garment HAS to hang nicely on me. If I feel klutzy or jerky in it, then out it goes.
      For my body type there are certain styles that look the best on me and other styles predictably fail. I try to keep clothes that look different one to the other yet still keep the cut/style that looks better on me.

      Another idea that helped me a lot is to use a sort as I go method for clothes and other items. This means I can pull out a shirt in the morning and quickly decide that I am forever done with it and pop it into a donation bag. I only throw stuff in when I am certain I am done.

      Across the board I turn the whole question into a math problem. This helps to reduce the emotions involved. I work in-person three days a week. So I need at least three sets of office clothes for the season. Since I worry and I like having back up plans this translates into four sets per season. I always have that spare set that I can shift off with, or just keep in the back of the closet in case Plan A fails.
      I do the same math question for everything, socks, underwear, thermal stuff, shoes, sneaks, etc. I am disgusted with the clothes I bought in the past and how they did not work out for me. By limiting quantities I can cut down on the numbers of times I run into this problem.

      In the last ten years I started getting more clothes at tag sales or consignment shops and I am much happier since I made that change also. Awkwardly, I still get compliments on my $2 coat or $1 handbag. LOL. If a person is discerning… okay, PICKY… they can make out very well buying clothes this way. And this is a great work around for budget issues.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I tend to use clothes as my gauge as well. But I also know that at some point I’m going to have to accept that my shape will change in a way that won’t ever go back to what it was despite whatever exercise I do.

        However I also have a smart scale, and I can see that while a little overall weight has crept on, my body fat to muscle ratio has drastically changed since COVID and a more sedentary lifestyle. So I could make some changes there if I commit to it.

        I like the idea of a sort as you go system, thanks. I think it’d make it easier to assess each item for its merit than getting overwhelmed by the prospect of having to get rid of so much in one go.

    5. English Rose*

      Middle aged body here. Six months ago I would have said recycle it all, you’ll never fit into it again. But something in my brain kind of switched then. With no discernible trigger, I started eating more healthily and walking a lot, and at this point I’ve lost 15 kg (33 lbs).
      I can fit back now into lots of favourite items that, like yours, are a bit quirky and often unique. I am SO glad I didn’t get rid of them.

    6. ATX*

      I go for classic simple staples. Nothing trendy or in style. I find pants that I love (none are jeans, they’re mostly the ponte style) and purchase several in different colors.

      My tops vary from casual tees to sweaters to turtlenecks to camis. All are plain (no pattern), neutral colors or ones that look good with many skin tone and hair.

      Couple nice dresses that are classic for various occasions.

    7. Workerbee*

      I’ve gotten rid of things I loved that didn’t fit me anymore, thinking I would be at my new size forever, and then ended up going back to my old size and rebuying what I could from Poshmark!

      I do have a few “workwear” items still, but I kept only the ones that gave me joy in wearing them and that could also be mixed in with normal clothes. A marvelously striped green and black button down with wild French cuffs, for example, and super comfy ponte trousers.

      So I say, if you still love those items and you can manage to find room for them, keep them until you don’t love them anymore. Then put them in a Pile To Be Given To Charity and let it sit for a bit. If you find yourself suddenly thinking about an item in that pile, go get it back out, look at it, maybe set it aside for a few more days, and then decide again what you want to do with it. Sometimes it takes awhile for the subconscious to churn out decisions (or for us to listen to it).

      This all may be terrible advice but it’s what I’m doing currently.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        The charity/eBay pile idea is a good one. My equivalent of this is a big Ikea see-through soft storage bag/box that lives on top of my wardrobe. Clothes I’m unsure about go in that for six months, and if I haven’t wanted them in that time then they go up on Vinted for a couple of weeks and whatever’s left after that goes to the charity shop.

    8. Anona*

      I had a kid, and my body is forever changed (hips wider, etc). I got rid of the things that don’t fit, and have been slowly rebuilding with things that do, that I like.
      Thredup is a great resource- it’s a huge online thrift store. You can save your sizes, and also save searches. For example, I’ve saved a search for natural fiber non-black A-line dresses.
      If you have favorite brands you can search for them.
      I find that I typically have to return a few things per order, but returns are pretty easy. It’s like a really fun treasure hunt.
      And I know Alison has advertised them in the past, so if you search through the site there may be a coupon code.

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You will never fit into it again. If you do ever fit into it again (which you won’t), it will be so out of style that you’d be uncomfortable wearing it.

      I have 2 rules of thumb for clearing out old clothing. One, stuff goes when it’s too old. The rule here is 10 years for suits, 5 years for everything else. Two, for every 1 item that comes in, at least 2 items have to go out. The second rule makes me think before I buy new clothes, and also it helps make my closet more manageable and less stuffed over the long term.

    10. SoloKid*

      I put things on hangers from left to right, so when I wash something and put it away I hang it on the most recent (left) side. Then I periodically purge things from the right side in bags to donate and let them sit in my closet for a bit.

      If I haven’t thought of/dug out the item in all that time, I send it off to the donation bin/make fabric scraps.

      I’ve also created some rules for things that fit, e.g. if I raise my arms and my stomach shows more than I’m comfortable with, I won’t buy it or keep it.

      I’ve found that holding on to clothes “just in case you become healthier” doesn’t help change. Having clothes that fit you well as you are NOW is much better for that.

        1. Pennyworth*

          You can also turn the hangers – start of with all hangers pointing in the same direction on the rail. Anything you use, turn the hanger the other way. After six months check which hangers haven’t been turned and consider getting rid of those clothes.

    11. Filosofickle*

      Since many of your items are special, I would consider keeping some “just in case”. Like you, I’m hard to fit and love interesting items. And I have regretted over-pruning my wardrobe and giving away something that doesn’t fit me or my needs today and would have a year later. Money is limited, and so is time.

      What I do keep a large bin stashed away with my favorite items that are a size up/down from where I am. I choose carefully for the bin — things that have a better chance of me fitting later, are especially special, or would be the hardest to replace. Over time, I revisit the bin and things that have been in there a long time get donated. Emotionally I benefit from having this waystation so they are no longer in my closet taunting me yet also not completely gone. And if my shape does change, shopping out of the bin is lovely! The same things that are tainted by work now may not feel that way if you rediscover them in a year or two.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Over-pruning is precisely the word for it, lol!

        Relocating items so they’re not taunting me daily is a good idea. My days would get off to a better start without my morning body-shame routine.

    12. Camelid coordinator*

      I am mid-50s and suspecting that some of the items in my closet will never fit again. I am going to give it a while though. For now I move the lovely offending items to the back of the closet.

      1. banoffee pie*

        They might fit again. I know people who lost weight in their 70’s. I don’t think people should be too negative :)

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s tough because of lockdowns, but generally if I haven’t worn something in a year I probably shouldn’t keep it. The difficulty is of course that routines were smashed and you may not know what you’ll want next year.

      If it doesn’t fit – get rid of it. Donate it if it’s in good shape so someone else can make sure of it.

  11. Fair Guinevere*

    Nanowrimo/writing thread!

    It’s going badly for me. It’s what the 6th and I’ve given up. My brain is completely scattered, I haven’t been sleeping cause toddler. I’m taking a break this weekend and I’ll start back up writing Monday with no word count goal. Just writing each day. I am enjoying the process. This is the first time I’ve worked on a book for more than say a week before I decided my writing is awful. I had about 14,000 words before starting but was hoping to keep up with the word count.

    1. Holiday Prep*

      No writing advice, just toddler commiseration. Everyone knows that newborns are fickle sleepers but I’m not sure when it ends. 2.5 and still waiting for a week where he doesn’t wake up at least once. I hope you’re able to get some real sleep and boost your word count soon!

    2. Seascape*

      I’m so overwhelmed with freelance assignments that I don’t have time to do any creative writing. I’m very grateful for the work, but my sh1tty muse only shows up when I’m up to my neck in deadlines! I need to have a talk with her…

    3. Spessartine*

      I’m doing horribly! I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten this bad a start and I’ve been doing NaNo since 2009. Just yesterday I finally caught up…to the first day’s word goal. Normally I hit 50k a few days early and that is NOT happening now! I don’t know what the issue is except that I just haven’t been writing much in general this year. I’m interested in this story but it’s very different from what I’ve done before. I’m hoping I can use this weekend to knock out a really big chunk and then catch up in increments over the rest of the month.

      I can’t even blame work or my social life, since at my new(ish) job I’m working fewer hours than I ever did in the last decade, and since I moved states recently I don’t even have any friends to hang out with! On second thought, maybe that’s the problem…I used to do NaNo hangouts with my friend back in Ohio who’s also a writer. I miss having local writing friends.

    4. Maryn B.*

      This is common and does not mean you have failed. Really, it doesn’t. It means that right now your life has other priorities, and anyone who puts writing ahead parenting is a douchecanoe.

      You can officially quit, or you can modify your goal instead of being in lockstep with the one they set. (You just know the guy who started it wasn’t raising kids, running a household, making meals, etc., much less gearing up for holidays, guests, feasts, and gift-buying.) Maybe you write 500 words a day, or for twenty to thirty minutes, broken into sessions if that’s what works. Maybe you research, or edit. Whatever places you closer to the completion of your manuscript is a win.

      Here’s a tip from the pros that’s helped me a lot: Give yourself permission to write utter crap. An astonishingly awful first draft can be rewritten, revised, and edited until it’s presentable, and nobody has to see it before that stage. Let yourself write badly!

      1. RagingADHD*

        “anyone who puts writing ahead parenting is a douchecanoe.”

        As the children of several famous authors can attest. Fortunately, there are enough successful authors with decent priorities to prove that it’s not a binary choice.

    5. HBJ*

      It’s going well for me. I started over with an idea of which I’d previously written a few thousand words all in random scenes. I haven’t even looked at the prior scenes I’d written and am starting over. I’ve written at least 1,700 per day and am almost 12k in. I’m feeling good about this year.

    6. Forensic13*

      Have you tried using programs like writeordie to help you just slam words down without getting too caught on whether they’re good? I find that to be helpful.

  12. Lizabeth*

    Public Service Announcement:
    Go to a dermatologist for a full body check if you haven’t done it!!
    Background: went three years ago, biopsied two spots, everything checked out okay. Went last week and had one of the previous spots biopsied again and, yup, cancer. BUT according to my doc, it was the best type to have because it was caught early…totally on the surface and hadn’t spread yet. Will be going back more often for checks. Plus a plastic pasta scooper makes for a gentle back scratcher when things gets itchy (the site is on the back, hard to reach – ugh)

    1. English Rose*

      So glad you caught it early, and thanks for the great reminder. Hope all goes well for you and your pasta scooper! :)

    2. CJM*

      Yes! Thank you for sharing this information, and I’m glad you’re okay.

      I go every year (except for last year, when I skipped all in-person medical appointments due to covid) because I’m very fair with lots of moles and freckles. Good thing I don’t like sunbathing, or I’d have more than the minimal sun damage I already have. My dermatologist finds a suspicious spot roughly every third year and removes it for biopsy. So far they’ve all been benign.

      My adult kids are going now too. It’s so important!

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I made an appointment recently. Around here, you can’t get in for a routine screening by a dermatologist (my primary care doctor did a check but didn’t see anything concerning) until spring. So make any appointments early.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Also, the dermatologist can freeze pre-cancerous spots. This is quick and might sting a bit and make the area a bit pink. Way better than having the cancerous ones surgically excised.

    5. WellRed*

      Dermatologists are in short supply in my area. How is the full check actually done? Do you get some sort of scan? Do they go over you with a microscope? How naked do you have to get?

      1. Lizabeth*

        I had a hospital gown open to the front on with underwear only (no bra). Woman doctor and she looked me over with her eyes and what I think was a magnifying glass of some sort. Uncovered and recovered sections as she went both standing and laying down.

      2. CJM*

        My dermatologist scans me visually. There’s no machine involved. She uses a magnifier to better see some spots. I keep my bra and panties on, although naked would be okay too. She lifts up my bra strap in the back to see under there. First I lie on the exam table, and she checks what she can from there. Then I stand barefoot on a paper pad so she can examine places like my back. It all takes about ten minutes. She usually has an assistant in the room to take notes about spots to keep an eye on, and she also double checks the spots she’s noted in the past as concerning. She uses a little measuring tool to size my moles and spots.

        A friend of mine was surprised it’s only ten minutes, but I figure my dermatologist knows her stuff. She seems thorough to me.

        1. CJM*

          Oh, and she checks my scalp too — especially around my part line. But she’ll move the hair around to get a good look.

            1. CJM*

              I forgot the hospital gown you mentioned! I get one too. I noticed that my doctor has become more conscientious about keeping me covered except for the area she’s actively checking, and she now tells me what she’s going to uncover and check next. That’s not super important to me because I’ve already screwed up my courage about feeling exposed. But it’s very considerate, and I can see how some people would like that a lot.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        My dermatologist uses a magnifying glass and goes over parts of my body while I wear a hospital johnny open in the back and my underwear. So far my face has had the things worth biopysing/freezing, but he keeps an eye on my arms (which probably got almost as much sun damage) and makes sure nothing unobserved is going on between the toes.

        Some places use photos (to answer “Was this there last time?”) and I would expect photos of anything in the “We should keep an eye on that one” family–that’s how you tell if it actually is larger or redder or anything six months from now.

        Reiterating that getting the precancerous spots liquid-nitrogen’ed off my face was 1000 times easier than getting the actually cancerous spot removed from my forehead and the skin hauled back together. Even though my surgeon was great and you can’t even see the scar now, and I was having other major in-hospital surgery at the same time so the outpatient skin surgery was in comparison a breeze. Five seconds with liquid nitrogen is more of a breeze.

      4. PollyQ*

        I had a dermatologist with very bad eyesight, so when he wanted to get a good look at one of my many moles, he wore a jeweler’s loupe and pressed it right up against my skin. This sounds like it should have been creepy, but he had a certain charm about him, so in practice, it was fine. There was also a nurse in the room, but I would’ve been comfortable without her.

      5. Pennyworth*

        My brother has moles all over his skin (always has), when he started to worry about them he found he could get a body scan done annually and computer software identifies changes in the moles. I think it is expensive but it gives him peace of mind. It would take a very long time for a dermatologist to check each mole thoroughly.

    6. Crackerjack*

      I wish this was a thing in the UK! I fret about this a lot, especially for my husband who has a huge mole/birthmark on the back of his neck that has changed in appearance over the last year.

      1. HHD*

        If you’re high risk it is! And a mole/mark that’s changed in appearance is a fairly rapid referral – my partner has regular checks due to severe sun damage and a history of suspicious moles

  13. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone here had their wedding vows renewed? Or know people who have? Was it a case of wanting to recommit after rough times or something else?

    My husband and I are coming up on 26 years married (31 years together) in February and are going to Las Vegas. It’s the big trip we were going to plan for our 25th anniversary, but of course we couldn’t do it this year. It’s been in the back of our minds for a bit as to whether we would want to do a vow renewal in one of the little chapels they have there, but we didn’t talk seriously about it. More of like, “Haha let’s run into the Elvis chapel and then go gamble.” Well, my husband brought it up the other day and the way he asked made me think maybe he’s serious (it’s hard to tell with him sometimes since he’s a bit of a jokester). I kind of just joked about it at the time since we were on our way out. I brought it up last night and he’s definitely serious. He even asked if I’d feel bad my family isn’t there (we’re all on the East coast). I told no. If we did it, it would just be just us. I didn’t give a definitive answer, but told him I’d think about it.

    I’m not against it in any way and it seems like it could be fun. I guess I think of it as something people do after they’ve had rough time of it and they want to recommit to the marriage. Everyone I know who has done it has been in that boat, and now they’re divorced. It seemed more like a last-ditch effort to save the marriage. But I suppose it can also be a way to say, “We’re still in love and going strong after all these years.” We did a surprise vow renewal for my parents at their 50th anniversary about 10 years ago, complete with their original flower girl. They were the role model everyone looked up to when it came to what marriage should, or what they wanted it to, look like. And we both feel that’s the kind of marriage we have always had. (We joked we either truly do have a great marriage, or we’re just too lazy make the effort to go find someone else. No, we feel we have a great marriage.) Any rough patches we’ve had have been several unexpected deaths in my family, my own health issues and surgeries, loss of pets, money problems. Things like that. Nothing that ever came between us. Just the standard stuff that happens in life and we supported each other.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The one couple who split after renewing, in my opinion probably just had the wedding as a “look at me” thing.

      Your setting is day vs night different from that. We change and grow even though we are married. We keep evolving as individuals. It sounds like you and your spouse still like the person you each have evolved into. I think that taking a moment to say, “Hey, I do this with you all over again!” is lovely. I think you should do it.

    2. Venus*

      I think if someone is doing a renewal for their 8th or 12th (less than 20 years, and a number not divisible by 5) then I would first suspect that things were a bit rocky. At 20 or 25 years I would view it as taking advantage of a good excuse to celebrate something, as the world needs more happiness and fun especially now.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      My grandparents just had one for their 40th. (Second marriage.) It was just to celebrate their love and to have their now-larger family celebrate with them. (For instance, their had their six kids when they married, but no grandkids yet.) It might have also been to have a church blessing, since they didn’t get married in the church the first time.

      My coworkers are also big into them. Two are doing it for milestone anniversaries. I know for one, her husband is very into the idea (he’s a real sweet dude) and I don’t know the motivations of the other.

      Tbh, it’s a tradition that’s not for me, think, but of my wife wanted to, I’d do it. It’s not like you’re starting the commitment afresh, you are just restating it (at least to me).

    4. Emily*

      My husband and I renew our vows every year on our wedding anniversary- some years it’s just the two of us re-reading our vows, and for big milestone years, we have hired the officiant from our wedding to do a mini ceremony. It’s always just the two of us in attendance, and is really meaningful. For us, marriage is a commitment you make every day, even as you change as a person over the years. We are different people than we were when we first got married and said those vows, so it’s very special to us to make the same promises again as the “new” people that we are. Either way, congrats on your anniversary!

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      This is a sensitive topic for me. Did my marriage vows expire? When was that? Can I go sleep around, until the renewal? If not, why not? Apparently the old vows are not currently operative, so what is stopping me? I hear there are apps for this. Perhaps I should download a few. I really, really hate the idea. It treats wedding vows like a car registration, except that I can renew my car registration online. If my vows had been of limited duration, I would have specified this at the time.

      My 20th is coming up next year. The kids (aged twelve and thirteen) pushed the idea of a renewal, but this is because they would like the ceremonial aspect. I quashed the idea. Instead we are going to dump the kids on Grandma and go spend a long weekend where we had honeymooned.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It’s interesting to me to contrast your comment with Emily’s just above.

        I understand your point of view, but I can also see her point – I’ve been married 14 years and we’re definitely not the same people we were then. I will be honest, I don’t even remember what my vows were! We wrote them down of course and I think they ended up in someone’s suit pocket and from there I couldn’t tell you. I know they were meaningful, I know we meant them, they didn’t “expire” and we’re certainly still happy to be married. But I can see the POV that I could write new ones now, and they would reflect who we are now and how far we’ve come.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      To me the vow renewals are on the same level as getting a tattoo of each other.
      If I hear friends do this, I would automatically think they are trying to save the marriage. May be it’s not you case, but this would be my first reaction, sorry. I would fully expect the couple to divorce shortly after.

    7. GoryDetails*

      For me, a renewal of vows would primarily make sense if there’d been a serious rupture in the relationship – it’d be a way of re-committing, something that wouldn’t be necessary if there hadn’t been a breach. If I wanted to celebrate a long-term relationship I’d go for an anniversary party of some kind instead. But that’s just me!

      I did have friends who threw a vow-renewal/anniversary bash, a really lovely get-together; I didn’t know why they wanted to renew vows at the time, but it turned out that she was suffering early-onset Alzheimers and he wanted to do this as for her, before she began to lose more and more of her memories…

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      My parents renewed their vows for their 25th wedding anniversary and celebrated their 46th anniversary earlier this year. They’re the only people I know who’ve done this (at least that I’ve been invited to), and it was very much the ‘still in love and going strong’ approach, as well as an excuse to have a bit of a party afterwards. From hazy memory it was mostly only close family at the renewal (so basically them, me and my sisters, my grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins) and then friends and wider family came to the do afterwards. Personally I think it’s a sweet idea, but it definitely doesn’t need to be a big thing – just a nice way to say, “you’re still my person and I like being with you and want to carry on doing that”.

    9. Meh*

      I found the IG account CactusandLaceWeddings that does ceremonies in the Valley of Fire – about 40 min outside if Vegas. They look beautiful and not as kitschy as Vegas chapels.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I can’t tell what your concern is. Clearly you don’t think that if you renew your vows that *means* that your marriage is troubled and you might divorce soon. You know that troubled marriages are troubled (and strong marriages are strong) whether people engage in certain ceremonies or not. Are you worried about possible signaling, like “if we tell other people about this, they will think our marriage is on the rocks”? Or is your question more along the lines of “other than trying to save a floundering marriage, I don’t see the point in doing this”?

      I see some responses on here that seem to be about signaling (“if my friends did this, I would think that”). Which, fair enough, but do you care? If you chose to renew your vows because that was fun/romantic/meaningful to you, does it really matter what Aunt Patsy thinks about it? Do you even need to tell Aunt Patsy?

      I think the real question is whether this is or could be meaningful to you. Some people have stated reasons that it would not be meaningful to them. I personally can see a value in bringing some mindfulness and ceremony back into a longstanding relationship. In both of my marriages, we put a lot of thought into the original vows, and we “worked” a lot on “who are we and what is this relationship about?” After a number of years, some of that intentionality and mindfulness can slip away. Sitting down and saying, “where have we come from and where are we going” can be useful, whether there’s a ceremony at the end or not.

      Another thing that might give this meaning for you is simply that it’s meaningful to your partner. Even if you never find a different way in, that might be enough of an in to make this worthwhile.

      My only warning would be, if this is serious to your husband or to both of you, reconsider whether you want the easy irony of a Las Vegas chapel. That’s fun for the scenario you first described, with the kitch factor and gambling afterward. But if this has serious emotional impact for him, then think about an appropriate setting that honors his real feelings. The Nevada desert can be lovely in the autumn, so you could even go on a hike or something and renew your vows together.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “I can’t tell what your concern is.”

        Oh, I’m not concerned about anything. I’m just curious if other people have done it, really, and why they decided to do it. That’s all.

        My best friend did it years ago. Her marriage was not good to being with, and she definitely got married when she should have waited. I remember her exact words were, “I told myself ‘IF we make it to 10 years, we’ll renew our vows’.” Which, yeah. They made it, renewed their vows, and had an even rockier 10+ years, and then got divorced. A former schoolmate did it–flew to a foreign country with their entire families–and it was very much a way to try and save the marriage. They divorced two years later. Another friend did it simply to reinforce their commitment after having a couple kids and they’re just as much in love as they were years ago.

        I would say I don’t feel it’s necessary, but if my husband wants to do it, I’m definitely on board with it. And it would just be us. Not a big bash or anything. I’m sure whatever we do, it will be nice. I like the idea of doing something out in nature, like Valley of Fire, rather than a little Vegas chapel. It’s beautiful out there.

        1. banoffee pie*

          I wouldn’t leap to thinking anything in particular about the state of a marriage if a couple renewed their vows. To me it’s just the sort of thing some people are interested in doing, and some aren’t. I didn’t realise some people thought it was such a symbol of ‘trying to save’ the marriage. Interesting.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I feel the same way you do about this. That said, I’ve never attended a vow renewal, I don’t think it’s a big thing here. But then, I’m in an area where more than half of all firstborn children are born to unmarried parents, even if they subsequently get married. In some circles, people have opinions about big weddings when the couple has a kid, or several kids, old enough to be in the wedding party as ring bearers or flower children.

            I expect vow renewals to be popular among people who got/get married during the pandemic and who had a much smaller wedding than they really wanted.

          2. The Other Dawn*

            I didn’t say *I* think of it as a symbol of trying to save a marriage. I don’t. I’d always thought of it more along the lines of reaffirming to each other, “I’m still in love with you after all these years.” Something some people like to do to celebrate a milestone anniversary or something. It just happens out of the four times I’ve seen it done, two seemed to be a way of trying to save the marriage.

    11. Let me be dark and twisty*

      My grandparents are the only ones I know who did a vow renewal. They did it on the occasion of their 50th anniversary but the vow renewals were part of a mass they asked their priest to do. They were very involved in the church so it made sense to them to do it that way. My mother and her siblings then threw an enormous dinner party, not unlike a wedding reception, afterwards. The big dinner party celebration is tradition in their community and the mass for the fiftieth anniversary is tradition in their parish.

      The other is because my grandparents realized that this was probably one of the last few times they’d be able to celebrate with all their loved ones in the same place — friends before they passed away, grandchildren before they finished growing up and went on their own, and even before they themselves passed away. (Don’t worry, they’re still kicking around these days. Just celebrated their 64th anniversary.)

    12. James*

      I’m not a fan. To me, a vow doesn’t need renewed. That’s one reason my wedding ring is stainless steel–it’s supposed to be unalterable (and, because neither my wife nor I are morons and are familiar with the divorce rate, very carefully worded). To me, the idea of renewing wedding vows boarders on blasphemy and is insulting–it’s saying either I can’t be trusted, or my wife can’t. If we want to throw a party, we’ll just throw a party. If we want to take an oath we’ll take a different one.

      That said, that’s just my views, and I tend to view vows a bit differently than most. If it’s something you want to do, go for it!! Never let someone else’s opinion sway you.

    13. J.*

      My husband’s grandparents renewed their vows on their 25th anniversary. They remained married for a total of almost 70 years until his grandfather passed away at over 90, with his grandmother caring for him through his last hard months. I always thought it was a bit silly before, but now every time I hear about vow renewals I think of them with a little bit of awe. Maybe you’ll be the couple that creates a completely new association in others’ minds.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I have heard of people doing this as a celebration of a major milestone anniversary, with (afaik) no serious trouble before or after. I mean, two fallible humans can’t live together 20+ years without ever having any disagreements or problems. But not necessarily anything major/traumatic enough to put the marriage in jeopardy. And if folks want to do that, I think it’s sweet.

      It’s not something that would occur to me to do, just because of my beliefs about the religious/spiritual aspect of marriage. To me it would be like baptizing a baby twice. In my belief system marriage is a threshold event, if you know what I mean? It could get broken but it doesn’t wear off. Like in my church, they don’t do “vow renewals,” but they will do a similar type of thing as a “blessing” or a “commemoration.”

      But I don’t apply that to other people. I’d take it at face value as a special celebration, that’s all.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      A couple I know renewed their vows, in a low-key way, for their tenth anniversary. Low-key meaning they got me to read the same thing they had me read at the wedding, got someone else to do the other reading (the guy from the first wedding wasn’t available), and then served wedding cake to the people they’d invited to a party.

      I’m not sure why they wanted to do it, but it mattered to them, which is the important part. They celebrated their twentieth anniversary a few months ago (for low-key pandemic values of celebrated), and are still seem happy together.

    16. Disco Janet*

      We thought about it for our ten year – just the two of us on the beach at the romantic couples resort we spent our anniversary at. Decided against it because my husband wasn’t feeling it and I didn’t feel too strongly about it, but my main reasoning was that I was so nervous on our wedding day – especially with everyone watching! And I like the idea of having a redo that’s just the two of us and in a calmer, more intimate ceremony where I can take in all the details and focus on just us.

    17. A Wall*

      I told my husband I thought vow renewals were always a case of “they protest too much” and he got all sad puppy about it because he apparently wanted us to do it one day. We haven’t even been married for that long, he just thinks they’re sweet and wants to do it for some big number anniversary. So I guess there are people out there who don’t see them as a sort of desperate rekindling, but I’m with you on this one.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve never seen them as an attempt at desperate rekindling. I always thought they were about celebrating a milestone or something, as a way of saying to each other “You’re still the person I love and would do it all over again.” I mentioned above I’ve seen it done four times, and two seemed to be a way to hopefully save the marriage. I’ve never felt the need to do it, but I see why some people would like to.

    18. Dwight Schrute*

      My parents renewed their vows after my dad went through a really tough year health wise. They had new vows written and we through a casual party to celebrate. It was really sweet imo

      1. The Other Dawn*

        We arranged it for my parents as a surprise at their 50th anniversary party, which was also a surprise. It started out as a small backyard picnic and kind of just snowballed, as these things tend to do, into a big party in the backyard, surprise vow renewal, a big cake, etc. We played their wedding song, Unchained Melody. Everyone had a great time.

  14. Spooky Doodle*

    As I’ve mentioned in a few recent open thread posts, I recently broke my wrist and have it in a cast. My question actually goes back to the last time I broke my wrist. I fell on a city sidewalk and a friend took me to urgent care/emergency room. In gathering my medical history, I mentioned how I had broken that wrist previously years before. The ER doctor looked at my x-rays and said it was a sprain. When I voiced my confusion because of the severe pain I was having, he said there was some damage to my wrist on the x-ray but it was just my old injury. I asked if he was certain, still feeling doubt, he became very dismissive and even talked over me, telling me it was just the old injury and I was fine. He gave me a brace and sent me on my way. My friend also noted how rude he was.

    A couple days later, I was still having severe pain and saw my regular orthopedic doctor, who confirmed that it was actually broken and put me in a cast. I was healed up just a few weeks later thanks to the proper diagnosis and care. When I received the bill from the ER, I wrote them an email saying how I was disappointed in the rude and dismissive acts of my doctor and the fact that I was completely misdiagnosed. I did not say I did not wish to pay my bill because of this (it was just a $100 fee), the ER actually waived the cost and apologized for the mishandling of my injury.

    So I’m curious if this is ever happened to anyone else? Have you been able to push back on a medical bill because The doctor was being rude and not listening to you, or because you were misdiagnosed? Is this a common thing or completely out of the blue?

    1. Colette*

      I’ve heard that some breaks are hard to see on an x-ray immediately after the fact – it takes a couple of days for them to show.

      1. Mitzii*

        Since they already got the bulk of their $$$ from your insurance, I’m sure they wrote off the $100 to avoid just that.

    2. Daffodilly*

      I have! It was a cardiologist when I was in college. Had been having issues, couldn’t workout without becoming faint and feeling like my heart was irregular, and my primary care doc referred me to this cardiology clinic. Cardiologist was dismissive, didn’t run any tests or do any bloodwork, told me I was “young and just out of shape” and should “lose weight and be glad I wasn’t dying like the last guy” he saw. I was not overweight (about 140 lbs and 5’10”) and a few weeks later went to an ER when it was bad and they caught an arrhythmia that I have since been treated for by a different cardiologist.
      When the bill came I pushed back, said I did not want to pay for being subject to that and not getting any testing or treatment, and they waived it.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I went to a clinic as I needed a new prescription. They ran a few tests to make sure the med still made sense. At the first test, they knew they weren’t going to write the prescription, but continued running others tests I didn’t need. I got the charges for all the tests after that first one waived.

    4. Elle Woods*

      It happens and it happened to me on an ER visit. I got a nasty bout of gastroenteritis and landed in the ER the day after St. Patrick’s Day because I couldn’t keep anything down (not even water). Before he had even asked a question, the first doc I saw accused me of having a “green hangover” because I “drank ’til I was Irish.” He ordered a BAC test because he thought I was lying about not having had a drink in months. Surprise, surprise, it came back 0.00. When the bill arrived for that visit, I called both the hospital and my insurance company and told them the story. Reps at both were horrified by what I experienced and adjusted the bill accordingly.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Drank til you were Irish? Yikes that’s a bit rude of your doc! I bet he’s never even been here (I’m Irish and don’t drink believe it or not lol)

    5. WS*

      It’s incredibly common, and more so in an ER because the staff are stretched thin and rushed. A polite but busy doctor could say “Well, there’s nothing showing now, here’s the follow-up I want you to do” (which is common with fractures), but you unfortunately got a rude one.

    6. retired3*

      Last year I went in for a routine colonoscopy. The doctor pierced my bowel at the first turn, apparently. They woke me up to agree to have surgery (cut from navel to public bone). All this in a hospital with covid and before vaccinations. They sent me home; I developed an e coli infection. Back to the hospital (ambulance), left with drain coming out of my back. My naturopath told me they would never bill me. They never have. Some billing of insurance was all. I had an odd visit when I got out of surgery that I now think was someone from the hospital risk management. I decided I wouldn’t sue them if they didn’t bill me…I’m just letting sleeping dogs lie…it’s been more than a year.

      1. Owler*

        Hospitals that receive Medicare funding are penalized for a high rate of readmittances within 30 days of a discharge. If you are retired (and of the age to be on Medicare), it is entirely possible that it was less of a penalty for them to eat the cost of your treatment instead of having to record you as a readmit. (This happened to my mom with a serious complication. We didn’t sue only because the hospital not billing us was the least of our concerns.)

  15. Flying again*

    Any tips or tricks to pop ears after a flight? I landed nearly 24 hours ago and I’m still clogged! Yawning, chewing gum, swallowing, swallowing while holding my nose, holding my nose and sucking in my cheeks, neck stretches – all have been tried. In fact, I’m chewing more gum this morning out of desperation! (I don’t have allergies or any kind of congestion that could be contributing.)

    1. Virginia Plain*

      When scuba diving this is an important thing; one is advised to equalise [the pressure] by holding the nose, closing the mouth and very gently breathing out (or trying to). This causes air to go up your Eustachian tube (between inner ear and throat) and clear gunge out. But you MUST do it VERY gently and carefully to avoid damaging your ear drum. Don’t do a big sudden breath like a huff; just start slowly. You’ll feel it.

    2. allathian*

      For me, nothing else works except holding my nose, and exhaling slowly with my mouth shut, then swallowing. I have particularly narrow eustachian tubes (a defect that runs in my family), and my ears get clogged if I ride more than a storey or two in a speed elevator. A week’s vacation was once nearly ruined for me, because my ear didn’t pop until the morning we were due to leave. Luckily the return was easier, and I could pop my ears almost as soon as we landed.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Decongestant nasal spray! I was blocked up for 2 days before my Mum made me take some. 5 minutes later I was hugging her and almost sobbing in relief.

    4. Just a name*

      A bit late, but the earplugs they make for flying are great at preventing this and ear pane. I used to get the worst pain when I flew but now it isn’t an issue. EarPlanes or Flents both work.

      1. A Wall*

        Seconding this. Sudafed is the best way to quickly fix anything that’s funky with your eustachian tubes.

    5. mreasy*

      Sometimes a very steamy shower or doing a steam sinus treatment (boiling water in a bowl, your head under a towel draped over the bowl breathing in steam) has helped me with this.

    6. Generic Name*

      You could try using a net I pot to clear your sinuses to see if that helps. Then do the hold nose and blow.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Go gently when something in your sinuses or adjacent to sinuses is already plugged up. I learned the hard way, I blew too hard and got stuff into my ears and gave myself a full-on infection. But the Neti Pot is great for me when I’m able to do several small doses over the course of the day, because the salts do progressively more each time.
          Good luck!

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      Have you tried hanging upside down? Either do a forward fold or find a playground with a horizontal bar and hang by your knees.

    8. Malarkey01*

      If you have a bath, laying underwater, on my back, holding my nose for as long as I can and then slowly surfaces and breathing works for me.

    9. RagingADHD*

      You probably have some swelling or blockage in the Eustacian tubes and need to open them up. Try an NSAID followed by warm tea, hot compresses on the sides of the throat, gentle massage under the ears, and/or letting a hot shower run on your throat

      1. Flying again*

        I think you may be right. I’ve tried almost all the suggestions and now it’s mostly pain just under my ear, getting near my throat. On to NSAID!

    10. The Dogman*

      You need a decongestant ASAP.

      Get some of them down you, sniff some eucalyptus oil too, then do the whole routine of clearing again.

      Good luck, I too have small tubes and diving or flying can be a pain.

    11. Pennyworth*

      I have had success by blocking my ears by pushing that bit of flesh in front of the ear hole to seal them, then yawning a few times.

  16. Stellaluna*

    CW for hypothetical family member death

    I am curious if anyone has tips on how to handle the death of a family member who you don’t care about in the least but you want to support those who do care.

    Without writing a long and boring post about family drama, I’ll just say that I am very close to my stepmother Kate but not to her mother, Terry. Her mother has never liked me because I am the step child, and she went through a very nasty divorce from my stepmother‘s father. Terry has said in my hearing that she does not consider step relatives to be family, and told my half sister that we are not sisters because we don’t share blood through our mothers (my sister, awesome girl that she is, told Terry where to shove that ridiculous statement). Frankly no one in our family likes Terry, my dad and half siblings can’t stand her. Terry and my stepmom Kate have a very on and off again relationship. It has been very off these last few years to the point that they didn’t even say hi to each other at a recent family wedding.

    All that said, Terry is in very poor health and will be passing away soon. This is going to devastate my stepmother; Kate has always hoped that they can reconcile their differences, but even if that did happen before Terry‘s passing, it wouldn’t heal everything that came before. So I know that Kate will be beside herself when that day comes. I will definitely not shed one tear for a woman who forgot to get me and only me a Christmas gift my entire childhood. I’m not even sure my father or siblings will be upset. Obviously we’ll go to the services, but I’m just wondering how do I help my stepmother when I don’t care about her mother? It’s not like I’m going to be dancing for joy when she dies, but I really won’t care at all; it will kind of be a relief actually. But I wanna be there for Kate as she goes through this rough time. I can’t even just go with the general statements you usually say when someone dies like they were such a good person and they will be missed and all that. Because frankly Terry is not a good person and will not be missed. So what can I do when this day comes?

    1. Virginia Plain*

      “I’m sorry for your loss” can be sincere – you are sorry for your stepmom’s loss and any distress, as your stepmom is good to you. Also you can ask her if she needs help with anything, or she wants someone to talk to – you can fetch and carry and phone people up, or just listen, you don’t have to agree. I’d frame the whole thing as being sympathetic to your stepmom’s pain and helping her, and that being your concern. Send flowers/take a casserole to Kate to comfort Kate, even if you don’t care about Terry.
      Go to the funeral if your stepmom would like it, and if you can’t think of a single nice aspect of Terry (even if it’s just, I remember she wore such great shoes) then just smile and nod at others memories, how nice for you, that sounds fun, etc. She’ll be missed, is actually a handy phrase; she’ll probably be missed by someone even if it’s not you! If she was ill before she died, “a least she’s at peace now”.

      1. Elle Woods*

        This is great advice. It’s likely that the more profound loss to Kate is going to be loss of what her relationship with Terry could have been. Being there to listen, support, run errands, etc. can be an immense help during that time.

    2. allathian*

      Just be there for Kate. I think she realizes well enough that you have good reason not to care at all about Terry, and as long as you don’t stand up during the eulogy and shout “ding dong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead” or dance on her grave or something, you should be fine.

      Because you won’t be mourning, there’s probably a lot you can do to support her in a practical way.

      1. Stellaluna*

        I am cracking up so much at the thought of chanting dingdong the witch is dead at the funeral. That would be a riot! I may not do it physically but I will be doing it in my heart :)

      2. Virginia Plain*

        Sorry but I am now thinking of Stellaluna doing a high kicking dance routine on the coffin, like in that musical number in the film Scrooge. The one with Albert Finley. Snort.

    3. Ali G*

      Why don’t you talk to Kate now? “Kate, I know it will be a very emotional time for you when Terry is no longer with us. How can I best help you when the time comes? Do you want to go over her final wishes and put me in chrges of the funeral?”
      Basically before it becomes a thing, talk to her about what you take off her plate. Since you don’t really care about Terry’s passing, you can do all the stuff that it can be hard to do in grief for Kate.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I definitely am not actually good at crying people, but I do have a plan for dealing with them:
      1) take care of any physical needs. Make sure they have tissues, bring them a glass of water. For deaths, help with the funeral, bring a casserole, help clean out stuff.
      2) be with them. Don’t need to say anything if you can’t think of anything, just be with them as close as makes for your relationship (wrap your arms around them, or hold their hand, or just sit next to them)

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Let Kate tell you stuff. Good memories. Frustrating memories–more frustrating now that repair of the damage isn’t possible, at least not in any two-way sense. It sounds like not being able to change the past via a better future is going to be a big weight for her.

      I agree with Virginia that “I’m sorry” can do a lot of work here. You feel sorrowful! For Kate, whom you love, who is going through a rough and complicated time.

    6. fposte*

      I’d say same as if you didn’t know Terry at all. You’re supporting someone you care for who’s grieving–it’s pretty common to do that without being bereaved yourself. Think what you’ve done for friends bereaved by losses of people you never met.

    7. Undine*

      Depending on how aware Kate is, you can be open about supporting her grief for the mother she never had. She will likely feel guilty and you can be there saying she did everything she could. You can tell her she deserved better, if it seems right. I guess, focus on Kate and what she has lost (a child’s longing for an actual mother, which will never be fulfilled) and not on the more general value of Terry as a human being.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      When my husband’s father died, I went to the funeral for two reasons:

      1. To make sure he was dead
      2. To support my husband

      FIL’s death was hard on Mr T and my main purpose after FIL’s death was to support Mr T, not express my relief that his father would no longer be an element in our lives. You support the person and what s/he’s going through – it doesn’t matter what you think about the deceased. Your concern is for the living.

      1. cleo*

        Yep. That’s why I went to my grandfather’s funeral. To support my mother / his daughter and to make sure he was dead.

    9. Jelena*

      I think focusing on who Terry is to Kate is the key here. Although she was a horror to you she’s Kate’s mom, and focus on supporting Kate from that mindset. Let her talk about her mom and you don’t need to agree with any of it because she’s speaking about her mother from a daughter’s perspective. I’m sure Kate knows there’s no love lost between you two so being falsely complimentary about Terry’s contribution to humanity, however well-meaning, would probably fall flat and cause more problems in the long run. Sympathise about how difficult it is to lose a mom, how big of a part of her life her mom was bound to be, the important mom/daughter memories she’ll always have etc. etc. – you don’t need to praise Terry’s stellar step-grandmom skills. Practical supports like others have suggested will be welcomed and don’t feel conflicted or hypocritical about supporting her in her grief.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      To Kate: One thing about Terry. I will always be glad she had YOU.

      To others: I am grateful that Terry had Kate.

      If you go to the funeral, you will be with a bunch of people who probably think along the same lines as you. This means their expectations for what you will say will be rather low. A simple, “I am sorry” (don’t say what you are sorry for) or “I am glad she is not suffering anymore” is plenty.

    11. Double A*

      I think, if nothing else, a kind thing you can say about Terry is that you are grateful that she brought Kate into this world. To be there for Kate, I think just listening, asking questions, and letting her know it’s okay to have complicated feelings.

    12. cleo*

      I had this exact situation with my maternal grandfather. He was a pretty terrible father and grandfather but it was important to my mother to maintain a relationship with him.

      I decided to go to the funeral to support my mom (and also confirm he was actually dead). And it was fine. I was able to support both my mom and my grandmother and I was glad I was there.

      I made sure that I had my “team cleo” lined up ahead of time. I needed people in my life that knew the story, that knew he was an abusive, damaging a-hole so I didn’t feel like I was lying. And because of that, at the actual funeral and related events, I didn’t need to talk about my feelings – I just focused on making sure that everything went well.

      I did make sure I had a couple neutral things to say about him that sounded complimentary if I needed to say anything (yes, he sure loved to travel / play tennis / go sailing) but I don’t remember if I used them. I mostly just listened to stories and thanked people for their condolences.

      I also made a private bargain with myself that I would quietly leave if anyone said that he was a devoted family man but no one said that.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I think being close to the person but outside the grief actually puts you in a great position to do practical things, like cooking and cleaning, driving people to/from the airport, dealing with logistics, writing thank-you notes, doing a calling tree to notify Terry’s friends, or just sitting with Kate and handing her Kleenex.

    14. WS*

      Forget about Terry – the person you’re here for is Kate. Support her (with driving, groceries, any help that she needs) when her mother is dying, and continue to support her (with logistics, anything she wants to hand off to you, getting death certificate copies, dealing with bills etc.) as she copes afterwards. Kate is going to be grieving, if not for actual Terry, then for then mother she wanted to have.

  17. Teapot Translator*

    I changed handbags this fall and the one I got out of storage was “peeling”. I finally had to throw it out. I’m thinking of buying a new handbag, but what material should I buy to make sure the handbag lasts a long time?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m not vegan, so leather is definitely an option. But I need to research how to find good leather.

        1. Reba*

          Full grain leather is the most durable. Next is top grain, a lot of fashion pieces are made with this as it’s smoother and pliable. “Genuine leather” is least quality, it’s often laminated or bonded to increase its thickness and stability, hence peeling. Saddle leather or strap leather is thick, like for belts.

          I’m really happy with my Fossil bags, which are top grain. Read the reviews as some models have hardware issues.

          I’m planning to look for vegetable-tanned leather for my next bag.

        2. fposte*

          Generally it’s about what layers of the hide are used. Full grain and top grain are the best stuff; split grain is the lower layer, and it’s often the base for color and decoration (it’s also where they get suede). “Genuine leather” is “we didn’t want to say,” sort of the mystery meat of leather.

          1. Teapot Translator*

            I’m at a stage in my life where I think I can afford full grain and top grain. I don’t follow fashion, so the handbag needs to last a long time. I think I’ve bought “genuine leather” all my life.

        3. Dino*

          I was sick of peeling bags and finally got a leather one. I only use one bag at a time (so it needs to hold up to daily wear and tear) and don’t care about brand names at all so that wasn’t a factor in searching. Even though I’m not vegan I don’t want an animal to be killed solely for leather, and I was lucky enough to find a local leather goods company that only uses leather leftover from food processing. They even warn that your bag might have a brand mark on it, ha.

          Anyway, I looked hard at their reviews and return policy then took the plunge. Cost $160 but two years later it looks almost new—it probably would look new if I treated it with leather balm but I haven’t bothered yet. It handles scuffs and scrapes well, and took an entire 10oz of orange juice spilt inside it without leaving any marks. And I regularly get compliments from strangers. I’m hoping to use it for many years to come!

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Can I have the name of the company? I’d love a bag from “leftover” leather.
            I use max two bags a year (one for the summer, one for winter) and for as many years as they will last.

            1. Reba*

              FWIW, all leather (excluding some “exotic” ones) come from this kind of leftovers. It is a by-product or co-product of animal farming. It’s not waste reduction, it’s a small portion of the profit.

              But it *is* unique that Dino’s bag company uses imperfect hides, which might otherwise have just been trashed especially since demand for leather is declining. Probably helps keep the price point a bit lower as well!

              Other factors in thinking about a lesser-harm product might including looking for vegetable-tanned products, or trying to find leather sourced from countries with relatively stronger environmental regulations, because the tanning process can be very polluting.

        4. The Dogman*

          More important is good leather care.

          Bags and gloves will need moisturising, get some good products and treat the leather regularly.

          As others have said steer clear of “genuine” leathers, this is the cheap stuff.

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Thank you! When I buy the handbag, I’ll ask the company if they have recommendations for treatment.

            1. The Dogman*

              Good idea, and if they are vague ask at a proper shoe shop or a bikers gear sort of place, they will have good recommendations too!

    1. ATX*

      Leather, but not all leather is the same. I’ve bought Coach, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors bags and all have peeled within 2 years. I stepped up my game after a ton of research and a testimonial from a friend who had a Mansur Gavriel bag, and recently took the plunge and bought one. They will last decades.

      I got the one called soft lady bag and I’m in love. It’s wonderful quality.

    2. LQ*

      I will make a bit of a case for cork. I have a few of them and the longest I’ve had one is about 5 or 6 years and it’s still going strong and looks good. It’s wearing a bit on the corners but still wearing well and it looks good as it wears.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I don’t have a preference about the material as long as it lasts a long time and reduces my consumption of handbags. I’ll explore cork! Thank you.

    3. Idyllic Gulag*

      I don’t know purses, but I do know leather. As other have said, full grain is best from a durability standpoint. It wears nicely too – it “gathers patina” rather than “totally fails”. It’ll be thicker and heavier, so take that into account. Avoid “corrected” grain, split grain, “genuine leather”, etc.

      Research proper leather care for your specific bag; with a minimum of effort, it’ll last a lifetime.

    4. PollyQ*

      If you don’t care much about fashion, I strongly recommend Kipling bags. Variety of designs, lots of pockets, wear like iron.

      1. riverflows*

        +1 My Kipling crossover purse is 12 years old and I use it 90% of the time. I’ve tossed it in the washer a few times over the years!

    5. Teapot Translator*

      I just remembered that where I live, there’s an annual event where arts and crafts people all gather in the same place to sell their products. The event will take place this year, so I’ll wait to go there to shop my new handbag. We have a high rate of vaccination where I am and we have to wear masks indoors, so I’ll feel safe.

      1. Reba*

        What a great idea! I hope you find something you like (and that you don’t go overboard as I inevitably do at these kinds of things!).

  18. Destination Anywhere*

    I love sending and receiving postcards in the mail. My mother recently sent me a wooden postcard with the comment that she won the postcard competition with this unique card. And she’s right, I’ve never seen a wooden postcard before. It’s like a little plaque with my favorite bird on it. It’s very cool! Now I’m wondering has anyone else seen any really unique postcards? I’d love to try and find something to one up her, but I can’t think of anything that would make a super unique postcard.

    1. Bobina*

      Oooh. I’m also a postcard person. I’ve seen puzzle cards (doesnt really work as a postcard as it needs an envelope) and maybe some made out of cloth or fibrous type things. But a wooden one is pretty good!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      According to Car Talk, you can send anything (not dangerous) through the mail if you buy the postage. This specifically applied to coconuts.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have seen this! I worked one semester at the front desk of a residential high school, and one day the mail that I was sorting into the kids’ mailboxes included a coconut that someone had whacked a bunch of postage on, written an address in sharpie, and covered the postage and address with clear packing tape to secure it, then chucked the whole mess into the mailbox. (That was also the day I had to say “No, I don’t have a loaner machete” which was not something I had ever anticipated having to say at a high school.)

    3. Koala dreams*

      I like the advent calendar cards. Not very unique, but the right time now for people who like advent calendars. Postcards with your own photos or drawings are nice, too.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        Advent calendar post cards? Please tell me more about this interesting concept. Where does one find these?

        1. Koala dreams*

          I bought the last one in a bookshop, but apparently you can buy from Etsy too. (Perhaps other places as well.) Mine came with an envelope to put it in. They are similar to Christmas cards, but you can open the small windows and there are mini pictures behind the windows.

    4. Meh*

      I try to collect the wooden postcards from places we visit. Usually tourist spots will have them. I like 5hey they are usually a vintage ad or scene from the area

    5. Amanda*

      I make fabric postcards, using Timtex to stiffen them. Lots of fun and a good way to use up scraps of fabric, trims, and buttons.

    6. river*

      This reminds me of what people used to do here in New Zealand. There is a plant called muttonbird scrub which has really leathery leaves, so people used to write on them, add a stamp, and use them as postcards. The underside of the leaf is pale, so that’s the side you write on. It has a soft, thick texture almost like suede. The leaves don’t go crispy or dry out, so it worked pretty well, but it used to annoy the postal service.

      1. Sleepless*

        That combination of local lore and malicious compliance makes my heart happy. Thank you for sharing this!

    7. Michelle*

      You piqued my interest when you mentioned wooden postcards, as I had never seen one before. While looking at options online, I came across Monkey Design Seal Postcard – Japanese Styles Series Wooden Postcard on Amazon. There are two designs, Osaka Castle and Tokyo Tower. They are a wooden postcard, but then you can “punch out and assemble” pieces from the wooden card to create a 3-D decoration. It would be one way to one-up the wooden postcard idea. A search online for 3D POP UP WOODEN POSTCARDS turns up some really cool ones. Some on etsy (formesberlin), others from Scotland, and even Amazon has a a Christmas post card that can be 3-D (Wooden 3D Christmas Cards Gift- Pop Up Happy Holidays And Happy New Year Greetings)

    8. MissCoco*

      I believe there is a rule about “self contained units” which determine what can be mailed without packaging, if you’re willing to branch out from strict postcards in order to win this competition.
      I sent out individual plastic Easter eggs with stamps to friends in college, and you can also send flipflops, citrus fruits, and plastic things with address + appropriate stamps
      If you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, I think a plastic ornament or a dreidel could be sent (and definitely meet weight requirements!)

  19. Grandma Mazur*

    We have just bought a (what is for me my first ever) microwave (800w), and I’m looking for tips/advice/recommendations along three broad avenues (ok, there’s some overlap):
    1. Best ways to cook food in it/
    hacks/things we wouldn’t think of (eg, I’ve heard microwaves can make good scrambled eggs – how long to cook them for, how often to stop and stir? How can we make popcorn if we’re not using the prepped packets?)
    2. Your best recipes for meals that are very quick because microwave (I’m not sure how to line up the sequential nature of the components – or do we just put everything on a plate and cook one person’s first?)
    3. What essential microwave gadgets should we get and what should we avoid?
    Thanks in advance!!

    1. Virginia Plain*

      Scrambled eggs cook quicker than you think, you want to be stirring every thirty seconds and the whole thing will only take a couple of minutes.
      Cover things when you cook/reheat as they often splatter the insides of the microwave (much more so than an oven).
      I don’t think one needs many gadgets as long as you have non-metallic plates and bowls. I like a plastic bowl with a handle as said handle doesn’t get as hot.
      Don’t put crockery that has a gilt edge in the microwave – it won’t explode but it will spark.

    2. Virginia Plain*

      Also definitely cook different foods separately (unless you are just quickly reheating a plated meal). Things cook at different rates; the wetter it is the faster, broadly speaking. And stir! Microwaves don’t heat that evenly and food will be hotter on the edges so stir stir stir before serving.

    3. ATX*

      Microwaves do not cook good eggs… they are quite ish compared to eggs on the stove! I only use it when I’m in a bind and don’t have time to prepare them at home before I go to work.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I use the microwave to:
      • Reheat leftovers. (Or other already-prepared foods.)
      • Melt butter or chocolate. (50% power)

      I would not buy a microwave gadget. The rotating plate is nice but if it’s not built in, just microwave in 2-3 smaller time increments and move the food around. (The waves can set up an interference pattern with hot and cold spots, so you want to shift the food around to account for those.)

      I have heard of people making bacon in the microwave but was too afraid of the grease potential to try. I think of the microwave as good when you already have the food cooked the way you like it (e.g. sear on the meat) and you just want to increase its temperature a bit to make it palatable. When without a microwave for a couple of months I just skipped any recipes that wanted to melt butter or chocolate because I don’t have the patience to do that on the stovetop.

    5. CJM*

      I like popping popcorn in the microwave. It comes out crispier than in the air popper, and I don’t need to use oil like I did as a kid, when I made it on the stovetop.

      I put about a quarter to a third cup of kernels into a paper bag (nothing else in there) and turn down the top of the bag a few times (so the bag can mostly be filled with popped corn). Then I press the popcorn setting, which runs for 2:30 on my machine (not sure about the power level). I have to listen closely so it doesn’t burn toward the end. The pops steadily slow down, and I stop it with about 25 seconds left.

      You’d have to experiment on your machine. I don’t cook much, so it’s my top use of the microwave besides reheating leftovers.

      1. Lady Glittersparkles*

        I had no idea you can make microwave popcorn this way! I’ll have to give it a try, I for some reason have the hardest time not burning air popped popcorn, but I hear the lining in microwave bag popcorn isn’t good for you.

    6. cat socks*

      For gadgets, I have a plastic, domed lid that lives in the microwave. I use it to cover food that needs reheating. It works a lot better than using a plate or paper towel. I never have to wipe out of the inside of the microwave.

      I do hand wash the lid and turntable on a regular basis. Even though I don’t have splatters, I will sometimes put a piece of lemon in some water and microwave until boiling. I wipe off the steam residue and the inside smells fresh.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Okay, even though I said up-thread that I didn’t think much of microwave accessories, the domed cover is actually very useful. Easier than cleaning the inside of the microwave. (Especially as mine is over the stove and I’m short.)

    7. Laura H.*

      Get a splatter cover. If you reheat stuff that can explode like soup, you just wash the splatter cover as opposed to having to scrub out the whole microwave interior. Get a large- and small-circumference one for different plate sizes.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I wouldn’t make scrambled eggs in a microwave because they’re so quick to make in a pan, with better control – at least that’s my experience. What I *love* my microwave for:

      Reheating things – mine has a “reheat” button that works very well on all sorts of different foods, different quantities, everything. [I have plastic domes-with-vents-in-them to put over the plates or dishes, helps control spatter and even out the reheating. Oh, and my microwave has a rotating turntable with a removable glass dish, making it easy to clean.]

      Melting butter

      Corn on the cob: I dampen each ear, wrap in waxed paper, and nuke on the “hard vegetables” setting – they come out beautifully. (Your model may have its own guidelines for cooking corn; I think mine takes 6 minutes or so?)

      Vegetables in general: the microwave cooks them pretty much by steaming, so any time I want steamed veggies I can use the microwave instead. Saves the time and the water. (I often prepare mixed peppers and eggplant this way, as a prep-step before sauteing the softened vegetables for use in quiches or as a side dish in its own right.)

      I do use frozen entrees fairly often, and of course the microwave’s great for those. Also for heating up my own frozen batch-meals, stews or soups or whatnot. My model has a “frozen entree” button that works quite well, including the various pauses to stir or reposition foods for best results.

    9. LQ*

      I’ve never seen anyone else do this, but if you find stuff getting poorly heated I put in a thing of water along side it, it seems to slow and even the heating. I always always do this with chololate. Just a pyrex with 2 cups of water next to the butter i want to melt or the chocolate i want to melt and it’s slower, but way more even. your mileage may vary.

      1. Law School*

        I do this to reheat things like starches, especially pasta. Heats more evenly and prevents that congealed, reheated taste.

        Also, if you need to soften butter but not melt it, I put a glass of water in the microwave for one minute. Empty the glass when it’s done and put the stick of butter in the heated, empty glass for a minute. Softens it right up.

    10. Not A Manager*

      Popcorn: My microwave does not have a popcorn setting. I put 1/4 cup of kernels into a paper bag, roll down the top, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Then shake the bag and microwave for another 2 minutes. Stand by the appliance and listen. When you hear a lot of fast popping, stop the cycle and remove the bag. If you leave the popcorn in longer, it starts to burn.

      I do not like single-use gadgets, BUT my spouse loves popcorn and has it at least 3 times a week. We bought a special microwave popcorn popping bowl that he loves. It’s a plastic bowl with a vented top and some cardboard filters that go in the bottom. The filters are reusable up to a point, and then you replace them. I can find the brand if you’re interested.

    11. Koala dreams*

      You can often find old microwave cooking books from when microwaves were trendy. Ask around. Crumble apple pie is tasty. The order depends on the food, it can get complicated with too many ingredients. (I’ve also seen a cooking book for a coffee maker, by the way.) If it’s for more than two or three people, it’s usually faster with a regular oven/stove.

      My favourite dish is oats, perfect to make for two (I make one bowl first, then the other), no need to wash the pan, just the bowls and perhaps the lid.

      1. fposte*

        Totally agree on microwave oatmeal–just remember to use a bowl that’s much bigger than the contents, since things will bubble up while cooking.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Agree on oatmeal and hot cereal in general, and seconding fposte’s comment about using a large bowl to avoid a mess bubbling over.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Speaking of bowls. A friend gave me a “pot holder” for bowls in the mic. It’s squarish, with thick material and several seams so the pot holder is cupped to fit the bowl. You put the pot holder in the mic with your bowl of food to be heated. When the food is done, it’s very easy to remove the hot bowl from the microwave with this pot holder type thing cuddling the bowl.

    12. OxfordBlue*

      Apart from popcorn the other dish I’ve done really well in a microwave is a steamed sponge pudding which took 15 mins compared to an hour and a half in a saucepan of water. I’ve also used them to reheat Christmas pudding not quite so successfully but think that was down to using an unfamiliar machine at a friend’s house.
      Many of my friends have switched to combi ovens which are microwaves with a grill and/or a conventional oven all in what looks like just a microwave and swear by them for reasons of economy and convenience so you might want to have a look at that type of machine as they aren’t much different in price here and you can save quite a bit by not using so much energy to prepare your food.

    13. I take tea*

      It’s very easy to bake sweet potato in the microwave. Wash it, cut the skin around both ways (as if you would quarter it), put it on a plate and turn it over halfway. The time depends a lot on the size of it, 6+6 works for one big as two smallish fists. It’s possible to do potatoes as well, but I think the sweet potato turns out better.

      Cooked veggies, as others have said, either raw or frozen. Brussel sprouts, green beans, baby carrots: just put them in a bowl with a little water and cover up. Ready in a couple of minutes.

      It works well for stale bread, at least the kind we have: take a damp paper towel and cover the bread. Nuke for 30 s or so, just so it gets warm and soft. Eat immediately, because it will turn to rock when it cools.

      Very hassle free hot cocoa. Mix the cocoa powder and sugar (or what you use) in the cup, add a little milk or water, stir and then fill up with milk of your choice.

      For gadgets: I bought a little thing that makes it possible to heat two plates of leftovers at the same time. It’s a bit silly, but actually is quite nice that neither have to wait for their food to be ready.

    14. Janet Pinkerton*

      My favorite microwave trick is to cover everything in a damp paper towel to ensure it doesn’t dry out or splatter, then use the damp paper towel afterwards to wipe down a surface of the microwave, usually the front door.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Having had microwaves nearly my whole life, I would *not* use them for cooking entire meals. Nothing browns, and proteins can get quite rubbery.

      They are great for:

      Reheating, especially soups, stews, and sauces.
      Steaming vegetables.
      Quick baked potatoes (though they are tastier im the real oven)
      I don’t like scrambled eggs in the microwave, but I do like poaching eggs in a small dish of water with a loose fitting lid. About 50 seconds per egg. (That’s my beverage setting).

      The more water something has in it, the better it will fare.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I have recently started cooking some meals in the microwave. I put vegetables in a small rectangular pyrex (whatever I have on hand, potatoes etc diced) then one or two chicken legs on top. Season to taste. Microwave until chicken is done. It is quite tender and all the meat juices run down through the veg. Also works with salmon instead of chicken, but I cook the vegetables first then put the salmon in for another couple of minutes. Yes, I do live alone!

    16. Owler*

      I agree with the commenter about using the microwave to steam veggies, especially potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn on the cob. Use a fork to puncture your potato/sweet potato and microwave for 6-8 min (adjust for size). If you can get good corn on the cob, you can microwave in the husk, which keeps it more tender! I think it’s 4min for an ear of corn? To husk and desilk it, you just cut the stem end of the war about 1/2 from the end (you want the cut to separate the leaves from the stem). Then hold the silk end of the ear with a dishtowel or oven mitt and basically pinch the cooked husk/silk end to slide the cooked ear out of the husk and silk. It should be a clean side and you don’t have to pick out the silks.

    17. small town*

      The recipe recommendations are great! I would like to share my best cleaning tip because sooner or later something will overcook or you will have a guest or…something. If it looks like something exploded in there, fill a coffee mug mostly full of water for about 3 minutes. It makes a steam bath and then you can wipe things off without using chemicals.

  20. Teapot Translator*

    Does anyone know if there is a free, easy to use tool (whether online or on premise) to draw a plan for furniture?
    I want a custom-made wall unit for my living room and some of the companies that build them ask for an idea of what I want. But well, I don’t know exactly? Some of them offer to draw the plans as a separate service (paid), others as part of the package (so I have to agree to get the unit from them), and well, what if we start the process and I realize I don’t like their design and materials?
    This feels like a really complicate project to me.

    1. Llellayena*

      Graph paper, a tape measure, a pencil and scissors! Measure the room/wall and draw it on the graph paper (one square can be 3” or 6” or whatever ends up fitting). Measure and furniture, draw it on a new piece of graph paper and cut it out. Now you can place it in the graph paper room and move it around. If you’re looking at some kind of sectional piece of furniture make each section a separate cut out so you can switch them around.

      A 3D option is SketchUp. Free download and will let you build the room in 3D and you can add furniture from a library or build your own in the program. Many tutorials are available online.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Will add to the graph paper method:
        • Once you have your clean to-scale drawing of the space you’re working with, make a bunch of photocopies of it. Use these to sketch ideas.
        • Especially in an older house, check that the distance between, say, door frame and window frame at the ceiling is the same at the floor.

        If you aren’t sure what you want, I think the best thing is to look at a LOT of samples from each company. Go with the one whose designs evoke “Oh, this looks nice. I like how they solved this” responses from you.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Yeah, I looked at what the companies had online, and only sent a request for a quote to companies whose style I liked.
          Thanks for the advice!

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Ikea have free storage planners online where you can input sizes, play with configurations, materials, colours etc and use a 3D visualiser tool. Try the Besta one?

    3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      You would definitely have the final say on design and materials. The process should be: they give you a proof, you ask for changes on the proof until you are happy with it, you approve the proof and materials, they build it. You should never have to just accept the first sketch they offer.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        That’s what I thought! And that’s how it was for another custom-made furniture I ordered. But that company doesn’t make wall units so I can’t order from them again.

    4. Maxie's Mommy*

      Look on Pinterest for bookcases you love. See what they have in common. Do you want all display, or display over storage? Don’t forget to include a baby spot light/s to show off your collections.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I did a search on Pinterest, but I do have images of what I like, but I couldn’t find exactly what I want.

  21. The Mayor*

    Bareback has always meant, to me as a former bartender, a junior employee, often a teenager, who job it was to collect used glassware, wash it, replace full trash bags & take it away, replace empty kegs & liquor bottles. This frees up the bartender to make drinks. Not all bars would be busy enough to need a barback, but on a busy evening they could be worth their weight in gold. Oh, and bartenders & servers shared their tips with the barback.

  22. Expanding scope of remodel*

    Tips for surviving an expanded remodel? TLDR; anyone use PODS to store furniture?

    After living in our house for almost 2 decades, we are finally remodeling our kitchen. Gutting it really- floors, all cabinets and counters, appliances etc. Maybe the sink faucet gets retained, maybe. It’s not a huge room and we aren’t expanding the walls or anything so really it’s just a change out of finishes.

    Within the space, I’m getting inset cabinetry and soapstone counters and high end appliances. I’m not doing another kitchen. Ever.

    The floor in the kitchen is toast- we can’t fix the wood floor and it’ll need to be ripped out. We are matching the oak flooring in the adjoining dining room. The house is old and so the flooring is rather narrow – 1 1/2 inches wide. Challenging to source but our floor contractor can get it. He will weave in the new and old flooring.

    Also we have an entryway between the dining room and living room where there is still linoleum (and no hardwood underneath). The living room floor is stained and the dining room floor isn’t. The wood is the same- it’s just a different color. The office attached to the living room also has dark stained oak.

    So we expanded a bit- all floors downstairs refinished at the same time, tear out linoleum and weave in new oak to match existing oak, fill, sand, finish.

    And the fun part? We still get to live here. We only leave for a couple of days when they put the seal coat on. We have two dogs and a cat, will have no kitchen and our master is on the main floor. But we can access the back hallway, bathroom and bedroom as well as the upstairs while the floor project is going on since those floors are excluded from the project. I can’t move out so I’m looking for ways to survive! Tips? My kitchen will be torn up and any temporary cooking facilities will be moved to the basement during the floor portion of the project. We may be eating with our garage door open (basement garage) but at least we’d be able to cook…

    Have you used PODS? I have to cram furniture somewhere and the big stuff (couches, dining room table, buffet) can’t make a corner to get into the master bedroom. Do I hire movers to move the stuff into the POD? I have driveway space but is it better to move the POD offsite?

    (Also, when we had the upper floors refinished, we “blocked” off the staircase. I now have kitty prints of a since-deceased kitty permanently on the second floor where he took refuge and walked out after the finish went on. Current kitty will be taking a vacation during the final refinishing step in this project.)

    1. It’s all good*

      We had a kitchen redo that last months instead of weeks. Highly recommend a Foodi all in one air fryer/pressure cooker. We mainly used it and hardly ever our microwave. We had both in the garage. Good luck!

      1. Missb*

        thanks! I have two instant pot pressure cookers (one small, one normal size), an air fryer toaster oven, and a single electric induction burner so I’m pretty prepped to do without the wall ovens or gas cooktop for as long as needed. I won’t love not having appliances.

        I do currently have a microwave in my pantry. I’m actually taking the pantry out during the remodel and it isn’t coming back. I may leave the microwave in the basement forever.

        (I’m stuck with a small footprint and I’d really like a normal width fridge. The only way to do that is to sacrifice most of the pantry space and switch over to a roll-out pantry cupboard. I also have a basement pantry so I’m fine with not having a big one in my kitchen.)

        Thanks for the good luck – I’m going to need it!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My hardest part of being without a kitchen was cleanup – I didn’t trust my other sinks to the heavy duty work of washing dishes, and my kitchen had no sink or dishwasher for almost a month. So even though I had the stovetop, oven, and small appliances out my ears, I didn’t have a reliable way to wash anything, so didn’t hardly use them.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Good luck: When relatives remodeled the kitchen and added a family room they arranged for it to happen in the two summer months they would be at the shore. So of course work started in October. Plan for the long haul, is what I’m saying.

      Captain Awkward has a bit of advice about sometimes money being the cheapest way to solve a problem. I would look at what it costs to rent an off-site storage locker vs PODs, and what a two-guys-with-a-truck mover would cost for the afternoon. I think PODs are fine for a short-term thing, and it’s just a question of how short-term this will actually be.

      1. Missb*

        well, nothing is really short term right now with the supply issues. That’s a pro and a con. I really only need the furniture off-site when they’re doing the floors and that’s just for a couple of weeks. Once the finish is on the floor, the furniture can carefully be moved back in about 3 days later, but we’d probably wait a couple of weeks.

        I fully expect that we’ll be without a kitchen longer than we will want. The extra floor project just adds to the fun, and I’m still weighing the pros and the cons of just doing the kitchen floor vs doing the entire first floor. I’m pretty set on doing allll the floors that need it, but the reality is that they wouldn’t finish the floors in the kitchen until after the cabinets are in, so arranging everything schedule-wise is a bit of a nightmare.

        Did I mention that I’m the general contractor on this project?

    3. newbie*

      For the POD in driveway vs POD stored away dilemma, are your neighbors petty jerks and if so, how thick is your skin? In my ‘hood, a couple of people who dearly need hobbies like to snark loudly about PODs. After a bit of online abuse, I helped one neighbor last year decorate her’s with twinkle lights to make it a bit more festive :-)
      If you’re a person for whom the neighbors’ opinions get under your skin, POD stored offsite might be a better option.

      1. Missb*

        I mean, maybe one is? Mostly because he’s tearing down his newly purchased perfectly fine house and building a behemoth.

        The neighbors on either side won’t see the pod if it’s parked in the driveway. We’re pretty private what with all the vegetation/trees.

      1. Missb*

        yep, great point. We aren’t young, and the furniture that has to end up elsewhere isn’t light. It’s all the big and heavy stuff. It’ll be well worth it to hire movers.

    4. Ali G*

      Are you certain all your stuff is in? We started a kitchen remodel in March and we will be lucky to actually do anything until January. We aren’t removing anything until all the cabinets and appliances have arrived. Everything is back ordered.
      Anyway, assuming you aren’t starting until you have all your new stuff ready to go, the refinishing the floors will be the most inconvenient part. A POD in the driveway for a few weeks shouldn’t be a problem. It’s pretty common where I live. I wouldn’t send it away, you might need something from it, or need to add things as you go along.

      1. Missb*

        Ha, no nothing is in. I’m an engineer so I plan well in advance. I’m also acting as the general contractor on this project – that’s something we always do. We’re planning on a May or June install for most stuff – best case scenario with long lead times.

        The appliances get ordered later this month and will be held at the warehouse locally until we’re ready to have them installed – we’re being told 4 months, but more likely 6 months. The flooring, once we make the decision, will be ordered next week and is expected to take almost 4 months to arrive. I’m still waiting to hear how long they plan on having the flooring sit in the house before installing, but generally we’re using the time between now and then to yank things out and live with a temporary kitchen because I can’t measure for cabinets until I have bare walls. Once I have a firm date for flooring, I’ll know when to order the cabinets which are currently taking 8-12 weeks from the vendor we’re going with. I’d like to give a buffer of about 4 weeks, but it really depends on the cabinet shop.

        We are fortunate that we can live with the unfinished floors for as long as needed, just with paper down. We’re already planning on shifting to sleeping upstairs for the duration of the project so that our master bedroom can be used to store/access stuff except for the larger pieces that won’t fit in the room. We have a den upstairs so not having a couch or office will be fine. We’re WFH, so it’ll be “fun” to squeeze in different places upstairs.

        There is very minimal electrical work that is needed. We have to pull a permit for one circuit but otherwise the lights and switches are all in the right places and are wired correctly. The plumbing and gas lines aren’t moving.

        But yeah, I’m hoping it’s all wrapped up by next October.

        Seems like a pod in the driveway is the solution I need.

        1. Ali G*

          Oh man I get this so much! Just to commiserate, we ordered our appliances in June, and will lucky if they arrive in January. Apparently manufacturers are so behind they are only making stainless steel appliances. We of course ordered matte black and have no idea when they will start making them. Our cabinets had a 17 week lead time, which means maybe right before Christmas (they will also be stored off site). Luckily we don’t have to floors to do, and our counters, which will also be the back splash have been purchased. We are also getting new French doors and 2 windows, so we told the contractor to just order them and we will store them here because we don’t want any more hold ups.
          We also have a dog and already have some friends lined up to allow us to stash him in their basement during the day so they can work freely. We will go to the office for those weeks they finally get to work.
          Good luck! It sounds like you have it under control. We should check in and see how well or not well things are going once we both get started :)

          1. Missb*

            definitely we should check in!

            I guess I’m happy I’m choosing stainless steel appliances, lol.

    5. A313*

      Depending on your climate and your furniture, you may want to consider putting a bunch of desiccant packs into the POD. We had the POD stored wherever they store them, so we weren’t sure how climate-controlled they might be and much of the furniture we put in the POD was our nicer wood pieces, and we tossed a bunch of the packs in also. Also, I would hire movers for the big pieces, but with a POD, especially one you’re going to keep on the driveway, you don’t have to have everything ready to go in at one time if you need to add some boxes.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      A word of caution with the pods- a friend used them to prep for a move and we had a weekend of bad rain and the pod flooded and ruined all of their furniture

  23. Ali G*

    Hi fellow dog owners!
    I need some help with my dogs loose stools. He’s old, like 14+ (in fact Monday is his 13th gotcha day!) and thus is on many medications. He also has to be on special kidney support food, so I can’t change his food. I picked the one with the least amount of grain and not based on chicken because they are two things he doesn’t do well on, and so I can’t switch it.
    He currently gets meds (Prozac, 2 heart meds, Gabapentin) 2x a day in cream cheese. Cream cheese works for us because it can easily be scaled up or down (sometimes he also gets Xanax or Apoquel too). He’d been doing fine until we added more pills recently and his stools are loose now almost every day. And a couple times a week he’ll freak out and need to go outside urgently to poop. IDK if it’s the medication (Gabapentin) or that he’s getting more cream cheese as he’s also been itchy so getting itch meds almost daily as well.
    He already gets canned pumpkin puree in every meal, he will not eat veggies.
    Does anyone have any suggestions for a supplement or a different pill vehicle that could help? Have you been here and been able to turn it around? Of is this just an Old Dog thing I need to deal with? I don’t want him to be uncomfortable all the time.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I suspect it’s an old dog thing. That said, in the spirit of experimentation:

      For itchy skin: Salmon oil squirted on the food, which I get at my specialty pet supply store. What I have now is called “Grizzly Salmon Plus.” Discovered with previous dog who had itchy skin, and it was great for that and made Not Itchy Dog’s coat lovely, so we still use it for latter and New Pup.

      For pills: We have had great luck with Greenies pill pockets. The household pets immediately formed a consortium and the rule is that if Old Dog gets a pill pocket, Young Dog also gets a pill pocket and the cats get to split a pill pocket. You can also try peanut butter.

      1. The Dogman*

        You can use hemp oil instead of salmon oils too, I find that they usually have a much larger range of omega oils and fatty acids than the fish oils.

    2. newbie*

      Anecdata, but Hills K/D has always resulted in good stools among dogs I’ve looked after.
      Pumpkin can go either way – it’s not the loose stool panacea that it’s often claimed to be. I’d try (with your vet’s blessing, of course), eliminating the pumpkin, and if that doesn’t take care of it on its own, adding psyllium fiber (Metamucil, plain, unflavored) instead.
      Lastly, digestion/absorption is a system that sometimes just quits working well as a dog gets extremely old. You might ask your vet about adding Tylan powder to their food and keeping a bit of Flagyl on hand for when he has a flare-up. Neither of these will resolve the problem, but both are effective at managing the symptoms, which at 14+ is probably the more realistic goal.

      1. Reba*

        Yay fiber! If the dog doesn’t like powder on their food, there are quite a few dog fiber supplements out there, most labeled for “scooting.” We have had success with the Naturvet No Scoot chewy treats/supplements, which are basically psyllium and some other vegetable fiber. They are the most palatable to my particular dog.

        (Pumpkin didn’t do much for my dog’s issues, though she still gets some just because she loves it.)

        In lieu of cream cheese, what about a scant coating of peanut butter?

        1. A Wall*

          +1 for the fiber. I had an elderly dog with IBS and I mixed psyllium fiber into her food every day along with a probiotic powder.

          Pro tip from my vet, if you buy the psyllium capsules instead of the powder, you can open them and put them in his food. The powder in the capsules is finer than the loose powder.

    3. Generic Name*

      As someone who has become lactose intolerant later in life, I wonder if the cream cheese is causing the loose stools. Could you try spray cheese (it’s artificial enough it doesnt bother me) or peanut butter for giving pills? Or could you request the medication in liquid form?

    4. Meh*

      I use American cheese for my 14 year old dog. Just enough to cover the pills that aren’t flavored. Can you adjust the timing of the pills, maybe spread through the day so it’s not all at once? We started an arthritis med for her that gave havr loose stool but that evened out after a few days.

    5. Other Meredith*

      My last dog (who was an old dog, also on much medication) could not handle dairy at all without getting horrible loose stool, so it’s possible it’s the cream cheese (although he had that dairy problem even when he was younger). It’s also worth calling the vet to see if any of the meds he’s on might cause it.

      As for giving pills, current puppy would sell her soul for a pill pocket. Last dog was a big peanut butter fan, but he was also a fan of a pill in a marshmallow.

    6. Ali G*

      Thanks to you all! I should have mentioned PB never agreed with him so that’s out. I have used pill pockets before, so I may try those again. Sometimes they aren’t big enough for all the meds, so then he needs 2 which can sometimes cause stomach upset because they seem fairly rich. But I will try them again and look into the fiber supplements (I’ll talk to the vet before using).
      I did think it was likely this is just an Old Dog thing too, but I’d like to try before I give up a deal.

    7. KR*

      Does he like pill pockets? They make the capsule ones and the tablet ones. I get the tablet (big) ones and then break them in halves or thirds so I only use as much as I need to cover the pill. My old boy doesn’t agree with dairy so that would be my guess.

      I know the anxiety can cause loose poops so that might be it too. Another cause could be that he might just be getting a lot of liquid in his food – when I got my good boy years ago he was getting fed wet food and dry food at the shelter and they told me he had a sensitive stomach. I cut out the wet food and he stopped having loose movements.

    8. Cj*

      Our 11 year old German Shepherd was recently suffering from loose stools, but seemed to be fine otherwise. We did need to switch his food for a while, which I realize you can’t do, he was also put on a probiotic that seemed to really help although it took about a month to be completely over. Like it got really good in just a couple days, and then would only sporadically be an issue for about a month.

      This is something you would want to discuss with your vet if you put him on any supplements, even if you can find them over the counter somewhere.

      Both my husband and I actually take gabapentin ourselves, and this has not been a side effect for either of us.

    9. The Dogman*

      It will be the cream cheese most likely.

      Very fatty, and that alwasy casues loose stools.

      Have you tried giving him something like Wheetabix or Shredded Wheat to help bind things back up a bit?

      For a small dog a 6th of a wheetabix with water should help, for a Labrador sized perhaps a half a bix every day or so should sort him out.

      My old boy got a bit runny when he was on all his meds and I am sure it was the pate and cream cheese he was getting. When I switched to Cheddar for the pills he was back to normal poo-wise.

      A bit more fibre should sort out his discomfort!

  24. Falling Diphthong*

    Thanks to those who suggested I might enjoy the King of Crows books even if I was disappointed by Shadow and Bone. A great romp.

    In this spirit, I’m looking for Unexpected Delights. Of any form. Something you expected to be not-actively-annoying and then it was wonderful.

    Mine is a place: Petrified Forest National Park. It’s on the road between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, and not really near anything else. We needed to break up a drive so I chose a hotel in the nearest town (Holbrook, AZ) and figured we would spend a couple of hours going through the park in the morning. We were there most of the day. It’s part of the Painted Desert, so absolutely beautiful landscape with such a variety: all very spare, but so many different ways to wrought beauty with a narrow palette.

    And the forest! This isn’t “according to the sign, this rock was once a tree.” It’s “Wow, this is very obviously a bunch of fallen trees scattered over the ground–look, you can even count the tree rings in this one.” If you have discovered latent geology nerd tendencies within yourself, this park is wonderful for geology just unrolling on the surface, in a way you can observe without needing to read the sign. (But the signs are great for giving more depth or answering FAQs.)

      1. Chaordic One*

        That might be something we could ask Alison to consider if she continues to work on updating the website.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I love that kind of discovery! I usually expect to enjoy visits to museums or national parks or whatnot, but sometimes they exceed my expectations so much that I get giddy. Most recently I “discovered” Bedrock Gardens, a sculpture-garden in Lee, New Hampshire, about an hour from where I live – but not on a main route, which is why I hadn’t come across it before. It’s a smallish garden/trail/sculpture/native-plants installation with easy, flat trails, delightfully-chosen paths and vistas, and a fascinating variety of plantings, seating, structures, and sculptures – ideal for an easy stroll, and fun to visit at different times in the year, to experience the seasonal changes in the plantings and things-in-flower. There’s even a “dark forest” segment of the trail, with eerie sculptures and a nicely uncanny feel – quite a surprise!

    2. Grits McGee*

      Mine is also a place- I live in the Washington DC area, and my favorite place in the district is the Summerhouse on the US Capitol grounds. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and has a Spanish/Cordoba feel to it (a nice break from all of the bland federal neoclassicism!). There’s a bubbling fountain in the center, but the best part is the grotto- stick your face against the grate, and you get a cool gentle breeze from the small waterfall, and the scent of honeysuckle from the plants. Absolutely marvelous on a hot day.

    3. Generic Name*

      The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was unexpectedly delightful. I remember going to see it thinking it might pass the bar of being “okay”, but it was so funny and charming.

    4. pieforbreakfast*

      My husband likes to find random places to visit in the surrounding areas- gardens, historic buildings, etc… One weekend it was an old grist mill that a local volunteer group had gotten going again. I was like, let’s go watch flour being made, yay. And it was pretty great- beautiful location, there was lot on the history of the town and mill. We got to help make some flour and sample baked goods made from it. I just saw they’re set up for cider pressing this month so we may go visit again.

    5. Skeeder Jones*

      Library of Congress

      I thought I was just doing a quick look at the building and the Gutenberg bible and then on to the next DC adventure. I ended up spending 4 hours there. They had a few exhibits that were really interesting, the one I remember the most was about letters home from war, they went all the way back to the American Revolution and gave a totally different view of some big events in US history. The building itself was also beautiful with so much detail inside. I’m really glad I made the impulsive decision to “pop in”

      1. Sleepless*

        We stayed in a VRBO rental near the Library of Congress, and we went inside mostly because it was close by. It is astounding. We spent hours there as well.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      A solo vacation to Phoenix, AZ in June which I’d the office season because it’s so hot. But I come from the humid south and I loved the lack of humidity. If your clothes and skin are not dripping in sweat are you really hot?

      The Desert Botanical Garden were lovely and the Heard Museum (Native American art) was great too.

      I didn’t expect such a lovely and relaxing vacation.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We went to the Desert Botanical Garden at the start of this trip!

        You have to be really careful photographing things, because you can’t just walk backward until the whole plant is in frame–there might be a cactus behind you.

        I really appreciated the guide to different local habitats, which we could observe as we drove north.

        Also the restaurant was excellent. We picked it on “it’s right here” and it was great.

    7. Patty Mayonnaise*

      You might be interested in an episode of the podcast Criminal which is about people taking wood from the petrified forest. Lots of interesting stories! The episode is Triassic Park.

  25. Goose*

    I’ve been struggling with some mental health related memory loss lately. Mostly in terms of forgetting things that come naturally or automatically. Example: miscounted deliverables at work (that I was sure I counted correctly) led to me running around the city finding replacements and scraping my car on a parking structure, and when I got home I noticed my front bumper was hanging off, even though I was sure the original incident was only a bit of paint (I checked! Did I?)

    I guess I need help remembering to slow down when I am in an anxious rush. I have tried different mindfulness techniques but I haven’t been able to find one that helps when I’m in an extreme headspace. Does anyone have any strategies that work for them?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a strategy for a strategy, but: A single counseling session with someone (recommended by fellow patients I met at my cancer support center). She proposed several techniques specific to me, based on what I was struggling with, about half of which resonated and I adopted them. (I had expected this (pre-surgery) session to be on diet and exercise, and it was all mindfulness, and that turned out to immensely help.)

      I saw this counselor a couple more times, well spaced out, and part of the appeal was that she is far more woo than my baseline: Because of that, she came at things in a way I didn’t. She thought of things I wouldn’t.

      Unfortunately I don’t have advice on how to find this person without the context “Lots of people at the cancer center recommended her.” But “see a counselor” doesn’t have to be “once a week for a year” to be helpful.

    2. Generic Name*

      Are you on any medications? If so, I’d bring this up with your doctor. For me, writing things down is a tried and true way to help me remember things. Maybe put things in notes on your phone and do it for things that you used to just keep in your head.

    3. Malarkey01*

      On the letting a mistake snowball and lead to anxious rushes Ive had a surprising amount of success with an “oh well statement” and a mantra (try a few until one resonates). I internalized and hold on to a lot (I may or may not still rerun an imaginary conversation I had with my boss 10 years ago coming up with wittier and wittier comebacks each time when I can’t sleep sometimes). An oh well statement is a way to acknowledge hunh that just happened and then put it in its proper perspective and say okay that’s done, no worries, move on with your day or with calmly fixing the issue. A mantra you can repeat seemed dumb to me and I doubted it would really work but am shocked at how making a declarative statement (like “I will be calm and polished for this presentation/event/etc) 3-5 times in a row suddenly connects as fact in your brain.

      I would suggest speaking to a therapist or doctor like the previous posters suggested because something like even a s all car accident where you don’t recall the extent of the damage is serious (not a panic but a this is a little worse than being frazzled).

    4. PollyQ*

      Have you tried any breathing techniques or things like consciously relaxing your muscles? Sometimes tackling the physical symptoms first can help the mental issues underneath. If the mental health issue is depression and you’re not taking medication, perhaps consider it. Anti-depressants can also help with mental acuity, not just mood. And while you’re dealing with it, checklists are your friend, even on things you know how to do. Good luck! I know how frustrating it is to deal with various kinds of brainweasels.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      When I lost my husband, my memory went out for a walk without me and I was stuck trying to “do life”. So I started right in on the common problems, I got a clasp for my key ring so I could attach it to something like a handbag or a tote bag. (Spent less time looking for keys.) I spent an hour or two on a non-work day lining up some of the things I needed for my work week and I put those things in relevant places such as the front seat of my car or in my tote bag. (Forgot less stuff, because I lined it up in advance.)

      I bought a calendar book and made sure I used it. Writing things in on the calendar did reinforce my recall.

      My biggest fear was that I would forget to feed the dog. So I made it a habit to feed him before I got my own food. You can attach unrelated tasks to each other and make habits of doing things in the same order so you don’t miss stuff.

      This one sounds irrelevant but you may want to try it: Go to bed around the same time each night and make sure you can get eight (or however many hours) you need to function the next day. It’s amazing how rest can help you fill in gaps as they happen and prevent other gaps from happening. For me, I found relief in knowing the fn day had finally ENDED.

      Have protein for breakfast or work with a protein drink. We get energy from rest and food. If we are faced with a crisis of any sort, we burn through vitamins and minerals at faster clip. Get stuff into your body that helps to fortify you. The brain works better when the body is fueled up.

      Last. I want to use the example you show here. This is actually pretty normal human behavior. One thing goes wrong, and the tired rattled human tries to remedy and in the process of remedying, one or more other things go wrong. I have horrible stories about people rushing to funerals with disastrous results- those are extreme examples, but it is also in us as human beings.
      What happens is a preoccupied mind. It starts with one thing going awry. The lack of concentration, focus in the moment can in some instances cause more things to go wrong.

      First and foremost check your self-talk. Congratulate yourself for getting through all the crap with fixing your work problem. Tell yourself positive things, “Yes, A, B and C went wrong BUT *I* worked through it all anyway and I am proud of me!” Try to see yourself as conquering the chaos against all odds. Maybe in your mind’s eye you have a super power cape on. You actually do have a very strong work ethic, we see that because you kept going and working at things.
      We do learn from this stuff and we do get better at coming up with remedies on the spur of the moment.

      Next. Not everything that happens is something that was foreseeable. As an example you probably did check the bumper of your car and it was FINE when you checked. However, during the ride home something worked loose and then it wasn’t fine. It’s not possible that you could have anticipated that one. Try to be realistic about your own expectations of yourself.

      Pad your time as often as possible. Try to make your day less rushed. We can’t help the unexpected things that pop up during a day, but we can avoid rushing the last minute to get to work or nervously waiting for the dryer to finish drying those pants we need RIGHT NOW, etc. Take things you know you have to do and allot plenty of time to get them done. This may make it feel like life has slowed waaaay down. But this is just temporary to help you through this time while you invest in your own well being.

      Grief (heavy sorrow, such as for any type of serious health issue) can trigger forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is part of grieving a loss such as a down turn in our well-being. Forgive yourself when you forget something, remind yourself that you are working to help yourself get better. Don’t skip this step, it’s important.

      1. I take tea*

        I always like reading what you write, Not So New Reader. You sound so genuinely wise and kind and practical. You have apparently learned a lot from life and are always willing to share. Thank you.

    6. Squidhead*

      Part of my work is training new employees (ICU nurses). We often have many tasks to do all at once and it feels overwhelming to figure out what to do first. Each task has multiple steps and so one step might get missed (like, they draw the blood but forget to print the label before sending it to the lab, which means they have to do it all over again, but the reason they forgot to print the label was that a piece of equipment started alarming and they didn’t know how to fix it or even if it was a high-priority alarm). And by the time they call me in they are frantic because the alarm won’t stop and the labs are wrong and my job is to basically come in and be the Voice of Reason. Help them triage what needs to be done first, force them to finish one task completely before starting another, etc… And here’s the thing: I’ve also been the frantic one with so many things going on that I don’t know where to start, even when I know how to do all the tasks. But if I catch myself, sometimes I can be my own Voice of Reason. I can literally say to myself “slow down, finish the labs before checking the alarm because the patient is still breathing so you have some time.” Equipment not working? “Okay, self, start at the beginning…is it plugged in? Is the cap open? Etc…”

      These are tasks and processes that you know how to do, but something is going awry (especially when an unexpected thing happened). But can you try stepping “outside yourself” a bit and being your own Voice of Reason?

      As others have pointed out, sometimes the Voice of Reason also involves acknowledging an unexpected thing and not berating the person for it but not allowing them to stew on it either. Like if they didn’t label the blood the only option is to get a new order from the doctor and draw the blood again. There’s no bargaining, no way to recover the old blood. Yes, the doctor might be annoyed but the correct path is to simply move forward with the new circumstances. The Voice of Reason is all about problem-solving, not self-flagellation.

      My self-talk for activating my inner Voice of Reason is a little unkind because I ask myself “what would I do right now if I wasn’t an idiot?” But that (totally optional) sarcasm helps snap my brain into the right mode!

      I don’t know if the Voice of Reason will help with your initial memory/focus trouble but it definitely helps me retain focus when things seem to be avalanching.

    7. Scared Sleepless*

      Sleep helps.

      I had a health scare 4 yrs ago.. and with it came sleeplessness and memory loss. I thought I wasn’t able to sleep because of the stress related to my health care and my memory issues..

      But it turned out my memory issues were related to lack of sleep and get worse or better with lack or / good sleep. My naturopath helped me see it!

    8. Slowing down*

      I was feeling like I was swept up in a current in a river, unable to stop myself or control my direction. Sometimes in those moments, it’s helpful to visualize myself on a raft going with the current–I cannot control the direction but I am afloat, I am safe, and that is the first and most important step. When I catastrophize and feel like everything is going wrong, this can help stop the feeling of free-fall.

      Sometimes it is helpful instead to visualize myself in a car that is going way too fast and out of control. I visualize myself pressing the brakes as hard as I can and feeling the car slow down. Sometimes it helps to press my foot to the floor in real life, a tactile feeling of “braking” to remind the brain to slow down. This has helped me regain emotional control in an anxiety spiral.

      I hope either of these help or inspire you!

  26. Anona*

    What are your favorite things to eat or have on a charcuterie platter this time of year?

    My husband and I are planning two in the upcoming weeks- one for Thanksgiving, and another to celebrate a friend’s wedding.

    1. Bluebell*

      We did a vegetarian charcuterie-ish last year at Thanksgiving when we zoomed friends- we had several kinds of cheeses, hard and soft, roasted cashews and almonds, olives, grapes, and dried apricots. Plus fancy Italian crackers, and carrot sticks. Pretty to look at, and tasty to much on while we chatted.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This time of year, really high quality dried fruit. There’s a store that opened near me that does their own, and it was a real “OH. This is what dried apricots should taste like.”

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Good quality dried pear is amazing!

        Aside from dried fruit: I don’t know what you’re able to get this time of year where you are, but fresh figs, dates or green apple cut into thin slices are always great with charcuterie and caramelised onion is a fantastic accompaniment to a sharp cheddar.

        My husband has also started smoking fresh trout rather than buying it smoked and it is heavenly – absolutely worth the effort.

    3. mreasy*

      The fancy cheeses that I wouldn’t buy other times of year due to cost are my favorite holiday treat!

    4. Generic Name*

      Figs plus blue cheese are amazing together. I love marcona almonds. They are quite expensive, so they definitely are a special occasion food for me. Fancy olives. Fancy olives stuffed with various things besides pimiento (blue cheese, garlic).

    5. Not A Manager*

      Seasonal things:
      – Some kind of preserved duck or other game (could be a pate, or smoked, or confit…);
      – Smoked fish
      – If you usually have a sweet spread to go with the cheese, you could have a spread that has cranberries in it;
      – Dried fall and winter fruits & nuts;
      – Grapes that you only get in the autumn, like Concord or others that pop out of their skin;
      – Dried beans. You can get lots of different kinds of beans that are toasted in a seasoning. I think chickpeas and soy beans are pretty common;
      – I’ve never seen this, but if I were doing a “seasonal” platter I would look for a recipe for pumpkin spread or chutney. I’ll bet you could cook down pumpkin with some spices until it’s thicker than what you use for pie filling.

    6. Bluebell*

      Last Thanksgiving we did a charcuterie-ish plate for a zoom get together with friends. Since we are vegetarian, there was no meat but we had several kinds of cheese, both hard and soft, dried apricots, a few kinds of nuts, olives, carrot sticks, and some fancy crackers and fig preserves. It was yummy.

    7. Ali G*

      Figs with blue cheese and honey.
      I always do roasted pepitas since my SIL is allergic to tree nuts.
      Deviled eggs.

    8. Cheese bored*

      Honeycomb is a fun sweet to add to your board along with great cheese & prosciutto, crispy crackers, sliced good quality baguette, olives, Marcona almonds.

  27. newbie*

    Y’all, I posted a few weeks back for advice on whether or not to buy a bike I’d seen on line. Readers, I bought the bike, it arrived in great shape, my local shop looked it over, and it’s awesome. It’s more comfortable and useful for transportation in a way that my road bike and mountain bike are not. The answer really IS n+1.
    Buy the bike :-)

    1. I take tea*

      I’m glad it feels right. I like the idea of having different bikes for different needs, if you have the space and money.

  28. Thanksgiving dinner*

    Alternative Thanksgiving meals! We’re a family of 3 and don’t really enjoy turkey much (or all the leftovers). When we had family over, we always made it (because that was what was expected) but with Covid it was just us last year, and will likely just be us again this year. Last year I made a bouillabaisse for Thanksgiving and it was wonderful – so I’d like to explore other non-turkey ideas again for this year!

    I will say we are not huge beef eaters, so I’m unlikely to make a huge cut of meat. But we are adventurous eaters so I’m open to ideas of foods from around the world!

    1. the cat's ass*

      We might be a little boring, but we do roast chicken with various sides. I make chicken congee the next day.

    2. CatCat*

      We eat plant-based and have decided to cook a Mexican meal for Thanksgiving. Our main dish will be a lentil-based rather than meat-based rellenos en nogada.

    3. Ali G*

      The last Thanksgiving dinner I did was a beef wellington. It was awesome. Since you don’t do beef, you could do something similar with a pork tenderloin.
      You could also consider something that takes all day so it’s kind of like an event: bake your own bread, put something in the slow cooker, and make you favorite sides from scratch.
      A fancy non-beef dinner could be roasted salmon. Or get some ahi tuna and make some sesame stuffed tuna with fun sides.

      1. A313*

        We just decided on beef Wellington earlier today for Thanksgiving! I’m really looking forward to it! Any sides suggestions you like?

    4. ThatGirl*

      We are having tamales for Thanksgiving, just the two of us. Plus chips, salsa, guacamole, retried beans… we did it last year and it was fun.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I love doing pork tenderloin or a pork roast, and they smell FANTASTIC while they’re cooking. Plus, the traditional turkey sides go nicely with pork if it’s just the meat that is switched up.

    5. Medical Librarian*

      We always do Cornish game hens with sides. Sort of like having a mini-turkey for each family member.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I’ve made individual Cornish game hens for small Thanksgivings. You can serve them with whatever traditional sides you do enjoy – we love the stuffing/cranberries/gravy but not the turkey. And people like to get their own tiny bird.

    7. tiredlibrarian*

      We do a homemade version of the bread service from the restaurant Sanaa at Disneyworld: naan + 9 dips, including coriander chutney, red pepper hummus, tamarind chutney, tomato date jam, red chili sambal among others.

      Then we do whatever normal sides sound good: jello jigglers, real mashed potatoes, biscuits (usually take out from Cracker Barrel), gravy, and pies.

      It’s just me and my husband, so we figured a few years ago to just do something we like :)

      1. Generic Name*

        Tell me more about this amazing sounding meal! Is there a website that has the recipe? Do you buy premade naan or do you make it from scratch?

        1. tiredlibrarian*

          We got the recipes at Disneyland, but I just did a google and these recipes look accurate to me: https://mission-food.com/homemade-naan-sanaa-dipping-sauces/
          It does take a bit of time — I’ll usually make one every night for the week before, and then the last couple Thanksgiving morning. There’re so good, and they keep for a good while after too.

          We usually use Trader Joe’s naan and garlic naan, but sometimes my husband will make naan using whatever recipe he finds appealing on the internet. :)

    8. Bluebell*

      I have friends who only do appetizers and desserts. Their menu always looks awesomely delicious! We are pescatarian, so we often make a roasted salmon, sometimes with rosemary and lemon and red onion. Very yummy.

    9. Aphrodite*

      Here are some ideas I love:


      And my favorite “special”meal of all. The bastilla is not hard to make but it is time consuming and therefore perfect for a once- or twice-a-year occasions:

      Sour cherry soup
      Moroccan orange salad
      Chicken bastilla
      Carmelized shallots
      Steamed artichokes
      Apple or cherry pie with vanilla ice cream

    10. Generic Name*

      It’s just my husband and myself for thanksgiving this year, and we’re doing Cornish game hens. I myself don’t love turkey, so this is a welcome change for me.

    11. pieforbreakfast*

      We’ve done steamed crab legs and grilled oysters the last few years, with the usual T-day sides. It’s awesome. Then we use the crab body meat for crab cakes the next day. I say this knowing I’m lucky to live in an area where this is available fresh and affordable, but it helped me realize it’s awesome to step out of the traditional box.

    12. Bon voyage*

      Fall lasagna! I’ve love Midnight Chicken’s (vegetarian) butternut squash and leek lasagna! It handles substitutions well–a sweet potato and carmelized onion version is just as tasty!

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did lasagne one year – Italian sausage for the meat eaters and spinach and mushroom for the vegetarians. (I mean, anyone could eat whatever, but.) Very popular.

    14. Burnt Eggs*

      Not a turkey fan, so this year we are thinking a huge taco bar so people can have what they like, or a snack buffet with nachos, Swedish meatballs, cookies, and a general mishmash of our favorite things. I’m leaning toward this rather than a MEAL so we can enjoy each other rather than have the production of a big meal.

    15. Thanksgiving dinner*

      Oh yum! So many amazing ideas. I’m going to start looking into some of these – I’m so glad I asked.

    16. The teapots are on fire*

      Pork loin marinated with rosemary and balsamic vinegar, spinach salad, mashed sweet potato with cranberries stirred in before heating.

    17. Rosa*

      There’s a Brazilian recipe of creamy shrimp stew inside a pumpkin (“shrimp in pumpkin”, camarão na moranga) which fits well with the Thanksgiving’s theme.

    18. Chauncy Gardener*

      Chicken korma with home made naan! We do that Christmas eve sometimes as the anti-tradition. It’s very involved, delicious and satisfying

    19. Jane of all Trades*

      I’ve made swordfish for thanksgiving before and loved it – used a cranberry and soy sauce marinade, seared it in a pan and then moved briefly into the oven.
      Made it with the traditional thanksgiving sides – honey glazed baked carrots, stuffing, green beans, corn pudding!

  29. RussianInTexas*

    I have noticed that some advice columns (not this one!) are leaning heavily on to the mindset of “you should never ever make you spouse uncomfortable, worried, angry, etc”. And if they ever make you even slightly angry, that is Bad, So Bad, you should probably divorce.
    Have anyone else noticed this?