weekend open thread – January 22-23, 2022

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 Maid, by Nita Prose. The narrator, a neurodivergent maid at a high-end hotel, finds a wealthy guest dead in his bed and is accused of his murder.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,070 comments… read them below }

  1. awesome3*

    Are there comfort and fit reasons to prefer high waisted pants over mid rise of low rise? Or is it a purely fashion based choice? Does the answer change if it’s jeans vs scrubs vs yoga pants vs slacks?

    1. awesome3*

      Asking so I know if I would want to choose one rise of pant over the other. Thank you for any insight!

    2. LemonLyman*

      I haven’t found high rise that I find comfortable so I’m curious, too. I also find that high rise jeans seems to accentuate my lower belly pooch. So if people have recs of more flattering brands, I’d appreciate! I don’t mind spending a little more if it fits well. (I have several Madewell 9” and 10” rise skinny that I love). I’ve also been trying to find straight legs but everything seems SO HIGH (12”!! How do you sit and eat with those?).

      1. Anna*

        I’ve just bought my first high rise pants and absolutely love them! Vmera paperbag pant by Vera Moda Petite. (I am 5 feet “tall” so definitely not a long torso.) I can fit tight shirts under and loose shirts over and my belly is warm. They are 65 % viscose. I suspect many problems with high rise is if the material isn’t flexible enough for your comfort but that is just a guess.

    3. Llama face!*

      Personally I dislike high waisted pants because the place where the waistband falls digs into my diaphragm/bottom of my rib cage when I’m sitting. It doesn’t seem to matter which type of pant it is (trousers, jeans, or leggings). I think this will differ from person to person, though, since it will depend on the relative length of your torso. But, yes, there can certainly be fit and comfort based reason for preferring that style.

      1. LemonLyman*

        That’s the issue I have, too! But it’s been tough to find mid-rise pants that are still in keeping with current fashion trends.

        I also find that tucking a top into high rise pants looks odd on me. It doesn’t the way it does on other people. Maybe I just have a really short torso and don’t realize it.

        1. traffic_spiral*

          To quote lord Goring: “fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.”

          Having your waist and butt look its best is fashionable. Being in awkwardly fitting clothes is not. If the best cut for you is from a different era’s style, figure out how to make it a vintage look that works for you.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Apple here, and I hate the judgey way that high-waisted pants dig into the place I put that delicious cheeseburger when I’m sitting. I can sort of get away with stretchy paperbag pants, but even that can be a bit of a crapshoot… sometimes I feel like Old Mother Hubbard in them.
        On the other hand, low rise generally sits better but tends to slip down. A belt and/or a loose shirt usually works fine. But I’m finding myself lean more towards dresses for comfort… I like my cheeseburgers.

      3. Quoth the Raven*

        I am the absolute same — I literally find high waisted pants painful when sitting down or bending over, and even if I decided I could live with that, I don’t like the way they look on me. I go for mid-rise (or is it low rise? My jeans are currently sitting firmly above my hipbone).

      4. PT*

        High waisted pants also do not fit my torso correctly. Though I have noticed that the waist height of pants adjusts up and down based on trends, across all cuts. If you look at the most recent pairs of low rise pants I’ve bought, they are the same rise as the high waisted pants of 20 years ago (when pants were really low.)

    4. Kate in Scotland*

      I have a big arse and high waist so I need to buy high rise to get a mid rise look. As a pear shape, there’s definitely a reason to buy high rise for exercise wear in particular as it has a better chance of staying up.

      1. Mannequin*

        This is me!

        Long torso, high waist, big butt. Nothing fits me properly EXCEPT high waisted pants.

        1. Squishy*

          Me too. The higher the better. I love squatting down and not worrying about my butt showing. Long torsos don’t get much attention in standard sizing!

          1. Mannequin*

            “ Long torsos don’t get much attention in standard sizing!”
            Don’t even get me started on dresses with waist seams, or how upset I was when Target stopped carrying their long & lean tanks, lol!

            And despite having a big booty, I don’t have hips at all, so if the waistband of my pants doesn’t come all the way over my hipbones, there’s nothing to keep them from sliding back down my legs! Not even a belt works, even if I cinch it so tight it hurts.

            I had to all but stop wearing pants once low rises came into fashion, unless I was lucky enough to come across some high waisted 80s pants in a thrift store. And I LOVE pants!

            1. Gruvbabie*

              I have the same issue! Have you tried “Tall” versions? I’ve seen a few shops like Banana Republic offer Tall sizes. I’m not tall (I’m only 5’5″), but I can hem. My hope is that tall versions would allow for higher waists.

        2. Gruvbabie*

          Same here!!!! Low waisted pants are a disaster for me and those around me who had to see me in them, as sitting in low-waisted pants always resulted in some version of plumber butt.

    5. Arya Parya*

      I prefer high rise, because it fits me better. I’m fairly tall and have a hollow lower back. Most low rise trousers are too low for me and leave a weird gap at the back. High rise trousers tend to fit met figure better.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, same here. I have long legs and a short torso, but I also have a bulgy hourglass figure (my waist is about 34 in and my hips are at least 42 in at their widest, my cup size is F). So I need a high waist, if I don’t want my figure to look like a brick outhouse. Low rise and mid rise pants fall off, or pinch my stomach in a way that’s very uncomfortable.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I avoid low rise pants because they are really unflattering. There was a period when low-rise and ultra-low-rise were trendy, and between the inevitable muffin top and the difficulty of finding underwear that wouldn’t stick out it wasn’t a great couple of years for jeans. For elastic/stretchy waists, I like it to sit above my hip bones.

      In general, it’s really going to depend a lot on body shape, for comfort, fit, and how it looks. Try it on, see which is comfortable, make sure you sit down, bend over, and twist around a bit, and try them with the kind of shirts you plan to wear them with – will it tuck in, is it long enough to bend over or stretch without accidentally exposing skin/underwear.

    7. Batgirl*

      High rise fits onto my waist and will actually stay up; this looks better and is more comfortable. I’ve got curvy hips so if I get low rise they will do a slow slip despite my hiking on them until they ride low and I’ve got a builder’s bum. It’s a lot more comfortable to have them sit on the waist, than having a waist band dig into my stomach too.

      1. mreasy*

        This is my experience too – as a 90s kid I was pretty much only in low rise and always thought, does everyone have this problem with their jeans constantly falling down? Then I realized it was the power of butt & thighs pulling on them lol. High rise are the only kind of jeans that will stay up, and usually other pants I go with at least a mid rise.

    8. A.N. O'Nyme*

      For me it’s mostly a personal choice – low-rise easily make me feel as if my underwear/butt crack is showing (or make things feel drafty where I prefer not to feel any draft) so I avoid them.

      1. Namenlos*

        I firmly believe it depends on body type what works best. So you need to try what’s conformtable for you.

    9. Asenath*

      I would say it depends on comfort, which in turn probably depends partly on preference and partly on body type. I like high rise pants, whatever the type. I found this out by trial and error, but I suspect the fact that I’m a bit long-waisted has something to do with it too.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Low rise leave my lower back feeling very, very cold. But they look better on me overall. The high rise “show off” my tummy that I seem to be getting.
      I am warmer in the high rise and not constantly worrying about if I have skin showing or not.
      The trick with high rise is to get something that fits the waist. The waist is described at the midpoint between where the ribs end and the hips begin.

      If it is just something I will wear around the house, I want comfort and warmth. This means high rise sweats for me. They look frumpy though so I don’t wear them out of the house.

      Mostly what I am finding is low rise so I am pretty much stuck getting them. I find them super annoying as they just are not comfy for me.

      1. Buni*

        This is the problem I have: the gap between my last rib and my hipbone is barely 2″. BUt I’m also ridiculously high-waisted, which is to say the difference between my inside leg & outside leg measurement is immense, so I need a high-waisted trouser just for it to hit my natural waist.

    11. Jen*

      I think there’s a reason high rise is known as mom jeans. After I had a baby
      I still wore my full panel maternity jeans for a while because low rise because the helped support my core and low rise out the button right over my c section scar.

      1. Mannequin*

        No, not quite. High waisted pants have often been hip & fashionable! When designer jeans became the hottest fashion trend of the 1970s, they were all high waisted, and considered the exact opposite of ‘mom’ or frumpy.

        When I was a teenager in the 80s, ALL of my cool, trendy, brightly overdyed ‘skinny’ jeans from the Juniors section had high waist bands.

        “Mom jeans” was a whole different thing. Mom jeans are loose, baggy, and comfortable, and have a high, ELASTIC, waistband…they suit the lifestyle of someone with young kids, so they became the unofficial ‘mom’ uniform.

        There’s not actually anything wrong with wearing them either, it’s just a way to crap on women who choose comfort/function over pleasing strangers eyes.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          ❤️⭐❤️⭐❤️⭐❤️ to this, especially the last part! And if a person has any surgical scars in the middle area, those elastic waists are the only comfortable way to dress, at least they were until the knit waists came along in recent years. But those seem to be disappearing already. I’m just glad I’m old enough to not worry about what others think. If I wear it, it’s fashionable for ME.

          1. Salymander*

            I can attest to the discomfort of low rise jeans on a scarred lower abdomen. I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, and the scar is huge, all the way across my abdomen. It is really sensitive, and low rise jeans were always really uncomfortable. So, when I was teased by my otherwise decent husband about looking like a trucker (baggier, non-low rise jeans with a long, somewhat fitted t-shirt or tank top and flannel or similar shirt over that), I got rather snippy and told him to mind his own beeswax. I may have suggested that he should wear the low rise jeans and impractical for nursing tops if he liked them so much. I think I growled at him. Between nursing a baby and dealing with the rather slow healing giant wound across my abdomen, I was not in the mood to deal with jeans that simultaneously fall down, show my butt crack, make me feel like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed in the middle, and rub my wounds until they feel like they are either coming apart or on fire. And the flannel or twill shirts covered up my now massive breasts, which went from a small B to a very overfilled D overnight and tended to leak through layers of absorbency so I had two milk circles on my t-shirt at all times.
            Huzzah for comfy clothing!

        2. Random Biter*

          Very, very much this! As a really skinny teen/young adult back in Bedrock “bikini bells” were about the only thing I wore. Think low, LOW riders (yes, I’m a boomer…fight me). Now that those days are rapidly receding in the rear view mirror, high rise are the most comfortable for me, my inevitable bonus-sized muffin top and all the other squishy bits. Mid rise just cuts across to create a Michelin Tireman effect.

    12. LaDonna*

      I do mid rise for everything! I’m shorter so high rise just looks weird on me, and makes my stomach pooch out. And low rise is so uncomfortable, I want something against the lower part of my stomach

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I also do mid rise. I have a long torso with a low waist, so low rise would match the shape best, but if I opt for that, my back gets cold after I’ve been sitting for a while.

      2. ampersand*

        Where do you get your mid-rise jeans? The jeans that still fit me best are several years old and are now considered low rise (by current standards); the rise is 8.25 inches. Nine inches is about the highest I can comfortably do and even that’s pushing it. I have a short torso and high rise just doesn’t work with my body type, but the issue I’m having is that anything that’s labeled as mid rise is actually high rise. So I thought I would ask! I have lots of feelings on this topic since it’s become very difficult to find jeans that actually fit and are comfortable anymore.

        1. LaDonna*

          Try democracy jeans! They have a tummy control one that’s mid size and they’re so comfy. You can get them on Amazon!

        2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

          I too can no longer find any jeans that aren’t high rise. :( Anything mid rise is now cropped for some evil reason I haven’t figured out. I have begun searching eBay for jeans I bought a few years ago and have had some luck there.

          1. LaDonna*

            Aside from Democracy Jeans, I go for classic Jean brands like Paige, Hudson, and Joes. Those always have mid rise jeans and they’re half price or more at Nordstrom Rack

          2. Salymander*

            Why are so many things cropped!?! I am quite talk, so most jeans look cropped anyway. Cropped jeans look like shorts. If I want a nice pair of jeans that don’t leave my ankles out in the cold, I’m out of luck.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s largely a body type choice, I think — My waist is high, so I prefer my pants to also have a higher waist. Low waisted pants always feel like they’re falling down and I tug at them, and as a dear friend of mine has said, if you have to tug at it, it probably doesn’t fit you properly.

      1. Mannequin*

        No “probably” involved- if you have to keep tugging at your clothing, it doesn’t fit you properly…period.

    14. Jeni*

      I prefer high waisted because it keeps my stomach tucked in and my butt covered. With low- and mid-rise, I don’t like how my stomach spills over and/or muffin-tops. I’ve also had a long history of experiences with low- and mid-rise pants riding down enough where my the top of my butt is exposed when I’m seating, leaning over, or kneeling down. I have never been able to go back to mid- or low-rise pants and feel as comfortable and effortless throughout the day. This goes for jeans and slacks. I don’t wear yoga pants. FWIW, I’m not considered overweight but I have a typical stomach pooch.

    15. Jay*

      Love, love, love high-waist pants. I like both the look and the feel. Can’t stand low-rise and mid-rise tend to hit me in my widest and jiggliest area so they are not comfortable. I think (and the comments below confirm) that this is a very personal decision. I’d like to say I don’t follow fashion trends, but of course I do to some extent. I buy what’s available and I now look at things I liked years ago and think they look dated, so I am influenced by what’s out there. That said, I will be sad when high-waisted wide-leg pants go out of fashion again.

    16. Sundial*

      My experience as someone with a long torso is that high rise don’t have enough room in the actual “rise” part, meaning that the distance between the crotch seam and where the hip should fall is always insufficient. Ads tend to concentrate on where the waistband falls when they discuss rise, which is misleading. High rise always makes me feel like they’re cutting me in half.

      I am eagerly awaiting the return of low-rise everything, and will go on a shopping binge when it does, so I can last until the next fashion cycle.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Saaaaaaaame. I’m not the same body type as you, but low to mid rise is the only thing that fits me and I am going to hoard. my. clothes. when low rise finally comes back. For now I just wish I could
        time travel to 2005 to buy pants (right after time traveling to kill Hitler, of course).

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          I like your priorities!
          If you’re in the neighborhood to kill Hitler, could you take a small detour and knock off Stalin also?

    17. Llellayena*

      As a petite person with a short torso I can’t wear high-rise because the waist is literally around my rib cage. Mid-rise seems to work best for me (though I like when it’s termed below the waist or at the hip).

      1. Jacey*

        Interestingly, I am also short with a short torso, and I find some high rise pants are the ones that fit me best! But I also have a weirdly short rib cage, so my waist starts before those of other folks with short torsos.

    18. Kathenus*

      I really think it depends upon your body type/shape. I have short legs and am long waisted and high rise/high waisted pants aren’t that comfortable for me. A good friend just started buying the high rise style of a pant that we both love and it fits her so much better than the traditional style she and I had both bought. I tried a pair and can wear them but definitely not as comfortable for me. With doing so much more clothes shopping online these days, finding out which works better for you is good since it can help picking out things online when you can’t try them on first.

    19. RagingADHD*

      Body proportion is part of it, and the difference in naming conventions and fit from one brand or another.

      I have a very long rise (distance from waist to chair when sitting), so low rise pants were barely decent on me, even back when I was skinny and trying to be trendy. Now I have a lot more squish, and it has to go somewhere. Squish doesn’t usually play nice with low waistbands.

      Low-ish rise pants hit me in a wierd spot and just don’t stay up, so they give me plumber crack.

      What some brands call mid-rise is still low enough to give me serious muffin top, which is uncomfortable and looks terrible. Other brands’ mid rise is high enough to fit okay, but not great.

      I like pants that hit within about an inch of my navel. They are most comfortable and look the smoothest. Some brands call that natural fit, some mid-rise, others call it high rise.

      I don’t really go by the labels, except to to skip over anything called “low.” I eyeball the others to see if they’re likely candidates.

    20. matcha123*

      There were only low-rise jeans (as far as I remember) in the late ’90s – 2000s. Low-rise are great for people with flat butts. High-rise are great for people with butts.
      It was butt-crack central for me until high-rise became more popular.

      If you have a flat butt, you can go either way. If you have a butt, high-rise are flattering and safe. I am the same with skinny jeans. They work for me.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        I have a butt but I need low to mid rise because I’m curvy. Anything above mid rise cannot get my hip-to-waist ratio right (even the “curvy” fits) and I’ve learned it’s better to just not have pants come up to my waist at all, problem solved.

    21. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I am an apple shape. Thick waist, narrow hips, big stomach. Maternity wear was always a thing for me, regardless of whether I was pregnant or not. In college I did the low rise stuff, but in my mid-30s, I’m embracing full high waist. Esp since I had a C section, I find the extra compression around my midsection makes me feel a lot better.

      I’ve been wearing skirts/dresses, leggings and finally sweats over the last 5-6 years but now retailers are finally coming out with higher waist jeans etc that are built for shapes like mine. Literally every plus size retailer has designed clothes for women with hourglass/pear shapes and apple shapes got nothing. Finally they’re realizing it and some brands have come out with higher rise jeans and slacks that are also cut narrower in the hips.

      Sorry back to the topic — so to answer the question – for me it’s a matter of comfort. I need something to sit above my bellybutton and since I have a big stomach….it’s a lot of area to cover and nothing is ever high enough. I’m also at the stage in my life where I don’t care if I look like a fashion “don’t”. No one at Target gives AF if I’m wearing a crop top with high waist leggings under my coat.

    22. Rara Avis*

      I think it’s very personal. I hate low- and mid rise styles and spend all day tugging at my waistband. I’m much more comfortable in pants that sit at my actual waistline.

    23. Jenna Webster*

      I think it depends on body type. My waist is smaller and my hips are bigger, so high-waisted pants usually gap in the back for me. Lower rise fit me much better.

    24. Mannequin*

      I am very tall, with a long torso, big butt, and NO hips, so the only way pants will actually stay on my body is if the waistband is high enough to latch over my actual hipbones. Anything else is GUARANTEED to slide down after walking 2 steps, no matter how strong the elastic or how tightly I cinch my belt.

      Not to mention that I’m so long in the waist, that I don’t just risk flashing people buttcrack, but the au naturel landscaping in the front, as well…and that’s BEFORE they start sliding down!

      I used to wear pants 90% of the time until low rises came in and I couldn’t find pants that fit me anymore; as the pants I already had wore out I couldn’t replace them, and now wear skirts, dresses, or leggings almost exclusively. The only pants I currently own are army/cargo pants. I’d LOVE to build up a new wardrobe of high waisted skinny black & colorful jeans & pants again!

    25. Ducky*

      I like high rise because they don’t gape at the spine on me (big butt, small waist, poochy tummy). Mid rise usually slide halfway down my rear if I bend over or squat and low rise fall off at any position.

    26. Artemesia*

      Sort of high rises like NYDJ will control the love handle and give a sleeker look — you are less likely to have a muffin top with higher rise pants. And those of us who are old can’t get rid of that roll by losing weight —

      1. stillanon*

        All my jeans are NYDJ. I usually buy lightly used pairs because newer pairs have a lot of synthetics that I can’t stand. I’m 5’2″ short waisted and hourglassy and so far every pair I’ve bought fit great. No gaps, no slipping, no mid-belly squeeze.

    27. Voluptuousfire*

      High rise pants looks weird on me since I’m short and short waisted. Low rise pants on me are just a no. I have wide hips and a larger backyard so low rise pants don’t fit.

      Midsize pants are best. High rise pants are a no. I feel like an old man whose pants are belted under his armpits. High waisted pants (at least those with a fitted waist like jeans) hit me like an inch under my bra band.

    28. HannahS*

      I prefer all my jeans to be mid-rise; I’m short, so mid-rise hits just below my belly-button. For me it’s the most comfortable rise, as low-rise doesn’t adequately cover my (considerable) bottom, and high-rise cuts into my belly in a really uncomfortable way when I sit. For leggings, I don’t care, because the ones I wear are so soft and elastic.

    29. Adereterial*

      Anything that’s low rise or low-mid rise gives me a muffin top, and it’s not a look I enjoy. They also slide down. High rise – or even extra high rise – is my preference.

    30. Rainy*

      I think a lot of it depends on how tall your pelvis is. If you have an unusually short pelvis, like I do, high rise pants suck. I think for a lot of people it just ends up being preference as far as how they fit whether they like them or not, though.

      1. it's me*

        I have a short pelvis too, and narrow hips, and a short torso. High rise jeans (or really anything 9″ or more) literally slide down my body as I walk. Very annoying.

    31. Workerbee*

      My fit and choice has become “What doesn’t make me super aware that I’m carrying a bunch of fibroids in me?”

      For indoors and casual wear, this winter I am going with Land’s End Women’s Active Fleece Lined Yoga Pants. If I have to haul myself into the office (which is biz professional), I wear an older pair of White House Black Market ponte pants with a zipper and button—but they just skate over my fibroids, not restrict them, so as long as I have a long enough top, I stay as comfortable as with the yoga pants.

    32. Elle by the sea*

      High rise pants/jeans are a lot more comfortable to me at least. They don’t keep slipping, don’t create a muffin top or a mason’s décolletage. But everyone has different preferences.

      1. Elle by the sea*

        Ah, after reading the comments I realised I meant mid-rise. I have long legs and a short torso, so usual women’s high rise pants/moms jeans don’t fit me. I generally wear men’s Levi’s 501/505. I have a relatively feminine vibe, so it isn’t quite obvious that I’m wearing men’s pants. Apart from these, I wear black trousers which are mid-rise and have no zipper/button, only a rubber waist band.

    1. Kittee*

      If he’s a Norwegian Forest Cat, which I suspect based on his uncanny resemblance to my cat, then he is very very soft! They have double coats of fur and of course that wonderful ruff around the neck.

  2. Sawtooth Rampage*

    This week, I was at the bank setting up a new bank account. I was sitting in an office with only glass wall separating myself and the bank employee from the main room of tellers and people doing regular transactions. As I was giving my information to the employee for my new account, someone in the main room started raising their voice.

    I didn’t turn to look but I could hear an angry male voice saying urgently and loudly ‘please cash the check, I need the money right now’. The teller was calmly saying that the money wouldn’t be ready until tomorrow and so he couldn’t give the person any cash. After a little more pleading, it got quiet for a moment and then loud again. This time I did look over my shoulder and saw the man on his cell phone. He was loudly saying to the person on the other line that ‘they won’t give me my f-ing money’ and ‘I don’t know what to f-Ing do’. He walked to the glass doors of the bank and kicked them open. When he was out of sight in the parking lot, I heard him scream in frustration. Then it was quiet and he did not return.

    For the rest of my interaction setting up my bank account, I kept an eye on the bank door, tensing Up every time the door opened for someone to walk in or out. I was very worried that he would come back with a weapon to rob the bank, as he sounded desperate and there was no visible security guard in the bank m. The employee noticed my anxiety but waved me off, saying I shouldn’t worry, it happens all the time.

    My question to this is basically wondering what your reaction would have been. I don’t know if the bank employee was just being nice and trying to calm me or if this really wasn’t a big deal and I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Just this week, I heard from a friend that a coworker at her job threw a glass item at the wall in frustration. I asked what was being done about it and she said nothing because HR didn’t think it was a big deal (and now she doesn’t think it’s a big deal). So now I’m wondering how you all would react in a similar situation or if I’m blowing things out of proportion.

    1. PollyQ*

      Based on reading the website NotAlwaysRight, which documents customers behaving badly, I suspect it’s true that customers throw fits like this all the time, and they bitch & moan, and that’s the end of it. (The screaming in the parking lot does seem pretty extreme tho.) But assuming you’re in the US, I can’t say you were unreasonably concerned. An awful lot of people do have weapons, and over the past few years especially, customers seem more & more inclined to jump to violence, so there’s real grounds for your fear. I’m sorry — it sounds like an unpleasant experience all around.

    2. Barbara Eyiuche*

      I would have left. No visible security guard means the irate customer could have come back with a weapon and then everyone in the bank would be at risk.

      1. Asenath*

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a security guard at the bank except for one which has hired one specifically to enforce COVID restrictions. Banks usually do have unobtrusive methods for staff to summon the police, though.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      It’s not necessarily that it’s not a big deal, it’s that it’s a standard part of their jobs and thus they’re used to it and have assessed the risk for themselves. And banks have protections like panic buttons which help despite no visible security. (Also, it would have done the bank teller no good for you to panic.)

      The coworker throwing a glass item at a wall is more concerning to me.

      1. Observer*

        The coworker throwing a glass item at a wall is more concerning to me.

        I totally agree. Throwing stuff is a whole different kettle of fish. If HR thinks it’s not a big deal, they re asking for trouble.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      For the bank – this is part of their normal routine and yeah, it happens all the time. I’d probably have said something sympathetic to the cashier and gone on with the transaction. The guy left without being kicked out, didn’t threaten anyone, and didn’t do anything more violent than kick open the door. Most people who are stressed and bad mannered enough to throw a tantrum in public would never even think of armed robbery as an way of setting their issues. I also wouldn’t assume that a lack of heavily armed guards lurking around the bank lobby means no security.

      Shrugging off a random coworker throwing glassware at the wall as no big deal is pretty bad HR, however. I wouldn’t particularly be worried about being attacked by the coworker, but I wouldn’t want to work with her either.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, I’ve a friend who works in a bank and she says people get upset quite often and they don’t view storming out as a worrying sign of later violence. It’s just people being upset.

        Most of the time bank robbers in the UK are “professionals” so they come in with that goal in mind rather than it being an emotional reaction or something spontaneous. I can understand if you’re somewhere where people are carrying guns routinely you might be more worried though.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I work for a bank and started as a teller 25 years ago. In my time as a teller I saw all sorts of things. Someone screaming and swearing in the middle of the lobby that the bank won’t give them their “f-ing money” is just another day and something we just rolled our eyes at. Nine times out of 10, the person screaming was pissed that we’re following our policies and it’s inconvenient for them.

        Based on what the teller told him, I’d guess he brought in a check someone wrote to him that was drawn on your bank, but there weren’t enough available funds in the maker’s account to cover it. Or he wanted to cash a check drawn on another bank and he didn’t have available funds in his own account to hold it against. Either of which is normal. He just didn’t like it.

        When a person got out of hand at the teller line, we generally could tell when they might be a danger, which was very rare. In that case, we’d call a manager over and they’d help. (I remember one manager had to forcibly remove someone because he was so unruly and became physical. The manager picked him up and carried him out to the sidewalk. The guy screamed, swore, and kicked the whole time. When the manager put him down, the guy turned around and kicked the glass doors once and walked away.) The other alternative would be to pull the alarm. We never had to go that far, though.

        I wouldn’t jump to thinking the person would pull an armed robbery over a check. Most robberies are carried out by the robber passing a note to the teller. They pass the note, the teller hands over the money, and the person goes on their way. In general, no one even knows it happened until the teller says something and we pull the alarm.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          OldCity experienced a rash of bank robberies while I was still doing mountains of research on them for a trunk novel. Most of the local ones, as well as the ones I read about, were exactly like that—note-passers who never displayed a weapon. (That didn’t stop me from assessing all exits and potential defensive objects when in the bank, but I do that everywhere I go because my imagination is a jerk.)

          1. Jacey*

            Elizabeth, would you mind explaining what a “trunk novel” is? Google wasn’t terribly helpful when I looked it up, and it sounds interesting!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              A trunk novel is a book that, once written, goes into the trunk of unpublished works, never to see the light of day. Usually, that’s because it sucks or isn’t relevant anymore either to the world in general (example: if you wrote something a long time ago that would be problematic now) or the trajectory of a writer’s work (example: I’ve moved on from crime to fantasy). I didn’t coin the phrase but I’ve been using it so long I’ve forgotten where I first heard it.

              I took a grad school course from Mark Twain scholar Resa Willis and she said no time spent writing is wasted. Example: that Secret Book I kept talking about a few years ago contains a premise so bad I can’t even believe I was that dumb. But the writing in it is probably some of the best I’ve ever done. It was useful in showing me I’m able to elevate my prose if I really want to. No doubt I’ll crib from it in the future while leaving the terrible story behind.

              1. Pam Adams*

                (example: I’ve moved on from crime to fantasy).

                As both a mystery/crime and SF/fantasy fan, I tend to the belief that a lot of fantasy, particularly urban fantasy is mystery/crime.

        2. Quiet Liberal*

          Former banker here. TOD is correct in saying that incidents like this are common and usually harmless (except for maybe the foul language). I started out as a teller in a large city in the Pacific NW and was robbed a couple of times. The bank hired off duty cops to sit in the branch during open hours as a deterrent, but it wasn’t always successful as the robbers came in anyway. You kind of get a sense after a while which “tantrums” are a true threat.

          1. Artemesia*

            In the US I am not worried they will rob the bank, I am worried that they will get a gun and just shoot up the place. This happens several times a day in stores, in traffic etc — just saw one where a guy got out of his car and started fire shots at other cars in a road rage incident today.
            We are always one well armed nut job away from the end.

            1. Observer*

              Actually, it doesn’t happen all that often. Rage incidents with a gun (which are not QUITE as common as people seem to think) generally happen with people who are already armed.

              Typical “going postal” scenarios tend to be part of a longer pattern.

    5. Asenath*

      I wouldn’t have done anything, since as a customer, I couldn’t do anything to see that the other customer could get his money before it was available. And I don’t think I’d have worried about him coming back once he’d left. I’ve seen angry people and customers before (in fact, I worked as a bank teller in the distant past and sometimes had to refuse to pay out money the customer wanted but wasn’t entitled to, or thought was there but wasn’t. And any bank robbery I’ve heard of involve people coming to the bank for that purpose, not irate customers. Irate customers who come back to shoot the place up are extremely rare. I wouldn’t have thought of a violent second act. I might have thought sympathetically about how hard it is when your deposit is messed up somehow and you really need the money now.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with the last sentence here. I’d be thinking about what the customer was experiencing and wondering how that policy would impact me. Granted, holds on checks are pretty normal so that would not bother me too much. However, if it was a different type of problem, I’d want to know about the policy in question before I finished opening a new account.

        Part of me would feel bad for the guy- although the behavior is totally unacceptable, I do understand the feeling behind the behavior. I’d take it more as a life lesson about factoring in time for handling money transactions.

    6. Widget*

      Yeah, I think this is just something that happens. People get irate and stressed when they are told no, and take it out on the employees of the service they are trying to use. Those people aren’t likely to become bank robbers, though, so I do think you were probably over-reacting a bit. It’s not nice to have to witness that behavior, but you seem to have catastrophised it to the worst possible outcome very quickly. Are you generally an anxious person? Do you tend to jump to the worst conclusion in other situations too? Or was this a one-off for you?

      If it was me, I’d have expressed sympathy to the employees who have to deal with difficult customers, I’d have perhaps felt a little sorry for the person themselves as money problems are incredibly stressful, and I’d have been annoyed by their behavior. But once they left I’d have seen that as the end of the situation, and it would not have occurred to me to think they could return with weapons and commit violence. That is such an unlikely event that I just wouldn’t have gone there.

      1. Pippa K*

        Saying the OP was ‘catastrophising’ based on their possible personal characteristics (anxiety) rather than the situation itself doesn’t seem quite fair though. Living in a place where there’s a 90% likelihood that the angry man had a firearm on him or in his truck, my danger sensors would have gone off when he started shouting and swearing in that setting too. I probably wouldn’t have left immediately, but I’d have kept an eye on the door and also noted the location of other exits. (And yes, I very much resent being in a cultural context that prompts this response.)

        1. Widget*

          Their response was to assume the worst and people with anxiety are often prone to catastrophising, which is why I asked. I did NOT say they did this because of anxiety, I simply asked if that could be a factor in their response.

          It’s not that the possibility of a violent response doesn’t exist, it’s that it is very unlikely and the reaction they described here is out of proportion to the actual risk. The bank teller’s responses indicated how typical this actually was, but OP was still “very worried” and “anxious” about the possibility. OP asks if they are blowing things out of proportion, and I believe they are.

          I’m sorry you have to live somewhere that makes you feel this way, Pippa K.

        2. Mannequin*

          Where I live, we have a bunch of busy roads, highways, freeways, TONS of high volume traffic, people with road rage, LOTS of crappy drivers, and accidents happen all the time.
          Driving can be really stressful! It’s a reasonable response to be situationally aware, to engage in defensive driving, and to show extra caution around people driving erratically or breaking traffic laws.

          It’s NOT a reasonable response to sit at every red light worrying/catastrophicizing that a random car will come careening out of nowhere to smash into you while you wait. That’s an anxiety response, and it’s not helpful in any way.

          OP leapt straight from “angry customer” to “potential bank robber” …not just ‘could this man come back and respond in a violent way’ – which IS a reasonable thought, but “this man might be an ARMED BANK ROBBER” – and that IS catastrophicizing, because it doesn’t track with how either violent men or bank robbers actually tend to work. And always jumping to the worst possible conclusion, no matter how unlikely- that’s anxiety.
          That example I gave? That’s real. I had s friend who suffered from such bad anxiety they couldn’t sit at a stoplight without worrying about Random Cars From Nowhere.

        3. Disco Janet*

          Have you ever worked in customer service? Because this kind of customer behavior is unfortunately not uncommon, so I do think it’s fair to call it catastrophising. The number of over the top angry customers who come back with a weapon is so small – like, an incredibly my rare thing to experience. Whereas ridiculous angry customers are often a daily thing.

        4. Hunnybee*

          Have you ever heard of ALICE training? They provide online training to walk you through what you can do in potential shooter scenarios. https://www.AliceTraining.com

          I got a certificate from them a few years ago when there was a rash of violence in the city where I was living at the time. And, I’m right there with you, Pippa K, in deeply resent having this be part of our cultural context.

      2. stillanon*

        Wow. How dismissive and out of touch with reality. OP is right to trust their instincts because people often lose their shit in public places and harm others.

    7. Batgirl*

      I don’t think it’s unwise to be wary around angry people. I think 99 times out of 100 an angry person does nothing more than make people feel uncomfortable. We do have an instinct to get away from physical anger for a reason though.

    8. NY Anon*

      I would have been fairly upset too. Banks in my area (suburb of very large east coast city of the U.S.) do not have security guards. Guns are far too common in the U.S. & I would have worried this customer could come back with one. Not to rob the bank, but to threaten & possibly harm the employees. I would likely have beat a hasty retreat from the bank.

    9. CatPerson*

      I definitely would have been nervous as well and started to possibly look for a safety plan, if not leave. But at the same time I found myself being sorry for the man that he was so desperate that he couldn’t wait 24 hours for the money.

    10. ThatGirl*

      I would have felt badly for the desperate man and the teller. He probably had something going on that made him react that way. If he didn’t threaten anyone, I wouldn’t see a reason to feel threatened.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Agreed, ThatGirl; I also can sympathize with the desperate customer. I’ve been there a couple of times—a piece of paper is in my hand (the check) representing money I desperately need for some valid and immediate purpose, and someone is saying, casually, “No, come back tomorrow.”
        Not imputing any malice on the part of the bank employees—there are rules they have to follow—but … I just feel for the customer.

      2. Mannequin*

        This. It can be extremely upsetting to be unable to get at your money when you desperately need it.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Depending on his tone and demeanor, I would think either “what a jerk” or “geez, poor guy, that sucks.”

      I grew up middle class and my folks brought me along to places like the bank, so I entered adulthood generally understanding how the banking system and the check-clearing process work.

      I have had plenty of friends who did not have those experiences, and some whose families didn’t have bank accounts at all. I once accompanied a boyfriend to the bank because he had received a Social Security death benefit check for a parent, and he really did need the money pretty desperately.

      He didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just cash it immediately, and believed the bank was treating him unfairly. If I hadn’t been there helping to explain, he might well have raised his voice or caused a scene, because he felt trapped in an unfamiliar system where he was powerless, on top of being in an emotionally fraught situation to begin with (the parent’s death).

      I tend to think that, in your situation, if the guy were out of control enough to be dangerous, he would have been saying things that made no sense, or making accusations toward the bank staff. And he would not have waited till he got outside to do his primal scream. That shows some level of self-awareness and self-management, despite his intense feelings.

      He sounds extremely upset and emotionally volatile, but not irrational, out of touch with reality, or completely out of control.

      I understand why it was unsettling, but I think anticipating violence was somewhat of an over-reaction.

      1. Jacey*

        This was my first thought as well—that the angry customer was dealing with a new and difficult system. Since I was lucky enough to know about banking from childhood, I once helped a friend open her first bank account in her mid-twenties; she was (understandably!) confused and a little overwhelmed by the cavalcade of new vocab, written and unwritten rules, etc. My friend tends to withdraw into herself when upset, but plenty of people throw their upset out at the world instead. Still, like RagingADHD said, the guy at your bank sounds like he was in enough control of himself to leave the building and let his emotions out there.

        All the same, anger in public places can be unsettling for bystanders, so I get where your anxiety came from, Sawtooth! Maybe in future situations like this, it could be useful to ask yourself, “does this person seem in control of their anger?” That might help you temper your anxiety for the situation at hand.

    12. Xx*

      This would definitely rattle me especially since guns are so common here in the U.S. But like
      Others said he was probably desperate and angry and wouldn’t have been carrying out a planned attack for that. And it does sound like
      The teller was used to it.
      I used to work a front desk position and we had a guy come in to participate in a study – I believe it was paid – and he got so irate over some scheduling thing I don’t even remember that when he was done being incredibly rude to me he went out the office door and SHRIEKED and stomped around right there outside the door. Some ppl really gotta learn to regulate…

      1. Xx*

        I do also sympathize with this man. It’s very scary and beyond frustrating to not be able to access money you really need.

    13. OTGW*

      I deal with irate people all the time at my job and honestly, it’s not that big of a deal. Like it’s annoying and stupid and sometimes I get really rattled but I don’t want my patrons being rattled. If anyone asks I act just like your bank teller—not a big deal, etc. And honestly, 99% of the time, it can be a little inconvenient if others try to get involved with irate patrons as that makes my job a little harder.

      Tbf, it’s not a bank and robbing was never a concern. (People bringing in weapons? Sure but that’s the life we live in ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) But yeah, it happens and the people on the other side generally know how to deal with it.

    14. Pam Adams*

      With him being on a cell phone, I’m wondering if it’s one of those scams where you give someone a check, they deposit it, give you most of the funds, and then you stop the check, leaving the person on the hook.

    15. Person from the Resume*

      I think it’s very much a stretch to imagine an upset angry customer’s response would be to return with a gun and rob a place. Yelling and kicking inanimate objects and creating a scene doesn’t translate to being/becoming an actual criminal.

      OTOH throwing a mug is much closer to violence and I’d be worried if HR brushes that off. And just the employee is not an angry customer. You don’t really have an excuse to be / act that angry at work.

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      In response to a question in yesterday’s open thread about the place we don’t discuss on weekends, someone posted a comment about their experience as a bank teller. They affirmed what others here who’ve had that job are saying–upset customers acting out in banks apparently is common.

      Sawtooth Rampage, I think I would have been just as rattled as you were had I not read that particular thread yesterday. And to be honest, I still think I would have found it unsettling because it would have been uncomfortable. However, the other example you mention about someone throwing a glass is physical violence and would scare me a lot more especially if others involved didn’t take it seriously.

    17. Imagine if this was your normal routine*

      Tell me you’ve never worked in the service industry without telling me you’ve never worked in the service industry.

      Yes. Customers yell and scream all the time. Especially now, when people are living with huge stressors 24/7, in the aggregate, customer behaviour is worse than before the pandemic, and that was a low bar to begin with. I have dealt with dozens if not hundreds of adult toddlers in the time I worked in customer-facing positions.

      We all hear scary stories on the news about crazy people being set off by something tiny, and if you haven’t seen someone throw a screaming tantrum without anything more sinister coming of it many many times I can understand why your first thought might be “am I about to appear on the 6 o’clock news??” But no, I promise you, this is just a regular day in customer service.

    18. Cynthia in the States*

      Always trust your intuition. I conceal carry so would feel comfortable being able to defend myself. But, if I weren’t carrying for some reason, I would have left and resumed my business at a later time.

      1. pancakes*

        You should not feel comfortable thinking that the police will somehow instinctively know that you’re not the person with a gun they’re looking for when they arrive. Likewise other armed people in the vicinity. That is why the audience members who were armed at the Gabby Giffords shooting didn’t start shooting themselves. It is really troubling how many people walking around with guns don’t seem to have given this a moment’s thought.

  3. LemonLyman*

    Not sure there’s much you can do in the case of the guy at the bank. His raised voice and choice of language is unnerving and out of place at a bank. But he left on his own, so that’s good. If he was refusing to leave until he got his cash, then maybe a security guard would be called to escort him out. But I also don’t blame you for keeping an eye on the door. I hate that I have to ask this but (assuming you’re in the US) what state are you in and is it an open or concealed carry state? That would make me more paranoid. I take the teller at their word that this happens a lot (and OMG I’m so sorry if it does, people who work at banks!).

    I know this isn’t the forum for work stuff but since it was brought up… I don’t see how HR can call that “no big deal”. Any outward signs of aggression should be addressed. Coworker didn’t just slam a door or raise their voice, they threw a glass object at a wall and it shattered. It could have hit someone or shards could have cut someone. Need to blow off some steam? Then go take a walk or go to your car and scream into your jacket or something.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Nesting fail” has been the theme of 2022 and I am HERE for this being the most exciting thing anyone remembers about the year.

  4. anon for this*

    UK readers who had positive experiences with therapy: how did you start on that journey?

    This is completely new territory for me. I’m looking for tips on where/how to look for a qualified therapist, and maybe some insight on costs.

    What I’ve considered so far is trying to get a referral from my GP. I’m not sure it’ll lead to anything. I have experience of not being believed about very real physical issues, and can’t imagine it’ll be much different if I tell them I need help managing anxiety and what I feel might be mild depression. Plus, I know waiting lists are long, and there’s a nagging voice inside me saying I shouldn’t get a spot someone more in need might deserve.

    I also tried calling my workplace’s EAP. A colleague I’m not close with mentioned in the past that they arranged a 6-week cycle of sessions for her. With me, they suggested I go read some online materials and ended the call. I probably won’t be trying them again.

    Readers, what has worked for you?

    1. Lena Clare*

      I’m sorry you’ve had that experience with your EAP. I had something similar except I really pushed for the sessions and got them. It was tough though and I ended up complaining about the service. It depends if you’re in that frame of mind though to go through with that.
      For me it ended up being worth it, because I’m still with that therapist now, but I pay for them. A good counsellor can cost £45-50 a therapy hour (about 50 minutes). But I know that there are people who charge less, and they may be just as good, it’s just that they just don’t have as much experience. Most of them will offer a free chat first of all to see if you gel well and can work together.
      With a referral through your GP you’ll most likely get CBT.

      If you go privately, you can chat about the type of therapy that’ll be better for you. I have strong personal opinions about CBT and other therapy.
      I prefer person-centred, preferably experiential person-centred, which is a type of talking therapy which is non judgemental and focuses on your feelings in the here and now. The problem I’ve encountered with it is that a pc counsellor can be either very, very good, or very, very bad. I don’t think I’ve ever had someone in the middle. It’s why I’m prepared to pay £45 for the very good person-centred counsellor. I’ve also had a type of therapy similar to transactional analysis, and a mixed therapy. Both were good. It is basically down to the therapist though rather than the therapy I think. I’ve found the best therapist for me now after many years of searching, but please don’t let that put you off! All the therapy I’ve had, even with not very good counsellors, taught me something and was worthwhile.
      Anyway. If you want to go privately, look at the BACP register and search there.
      Alternatively, you can approach Mind and ask if they have any services in your area. This is a free service and they’re really good. With anything free there is a waiting list. You can pretty much see a private therapist straight away and can specify who you want to see. You can’t necessarily do that with NHS or third sector therapy. All the best in your journey.

    2. Bobina*

      FYI, I’m pretty sure you can just self refer for mental health on the NHS and dont need to go via your GP. Waiting lists may be a challenge, but it may be cheaper if thats a consideration.

      Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with your work EAP. My (private) therapy was covered by my work insurance (BUPA) at the time. They will usually ask you some screening questions first and I think unfortunately depending on how you “score” there, they will either push you to to self-help first or suggest some sessions with a therapist.

      In terms of cost, it ranges between £50/h to £100+/h depending on area, demand etc to see someone privately. If its in your budget, oddly enough this is where actually getting private insurance more generally (BUPA, Vitality etc) can work out better because if your medical history is otherwise fine, you can get quotes for about £30-50/month and then that covers things like therapy sessions, physio, getting certain tests/scans quicker etc

      In terms of picking someone qualified – because mine was via BUPA I could only pick from the list they sent me – so essentially there was some pre-screening already done as far as official qualifications. I just took a quick look on my old therapists website and this is what was listed:
      Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
      British Psychological Society (BPS)
      British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)

      But finding someone you connect with on a personal level is often the trickier bit. I know friends who have felt like they didnt get along with their therapists and so didnt get much value from the sessions. Some will offer a first session free or an initial phone discussion, so try and use those to gauge if you feel like it will be a good fit.

      Otherwise I’d encourage you to see a therapist if you can find one and feel like it would benefit you! I remember posting here before I started seeing mine because I also felt like things werent “bad enough” to actually warrant seeing someone. But the very lovely people here basically said, there isnt some magic sign or scorecard you need to meet to be deemed “bad enough” to need help. If you feel like things arent right, thats a good enough reason to see someone. And I am now that obnoxious person who always suggests therapy because I actually took a lot from it and its helped me figure out myself a lot better (including managing my anxiety).

    3. Snacks*

      The only thing that worked for me was a recommendation from a friend (before that, I’d tried counselling, therapy through EAP, books, apps… not to sound discouraging, but this is HARD).

      Friend’s therapist hit the spot, and I’m… almost okay now? I like it. And now everyone in my friend group has the same therapist which is pretty inappropriate I guess but has done a lot for normalising mental health issues in our gang.

      Solid recommendations!
      – Cast your net wide and keep trying stuff until something sticks
      – Ask your mates for recommendations
      – Take a look at your budget. Can you pay out of pocket? A good therapist is worth any amount (but they’re not all good).

    4. Laura*

      I went to my GP, and had a productive discussion about my concerns, how the anxiety was impacting my daily life, and what I had already tried (because their first step will usually be to recommend meditation apps, breathing exercises, diet, exercise etc., and I was already doing all of that to manage my low-level anxiety and this was beyond that). I had documented the effect on my sleep, my inability to focus, and the anxiety attacks that were becoming more frequent and prolonged. My GP took me seriously, prescribed me anxiety medication for the anxiety attacks (I took a couple of different ones before we found what worked, but it was incredibly helpful once we got that dialled in) and referred me to a therapist on the NHS. It took about 7 weeks to be contacted, and as it was during lockdown my appointments were virtual. It wasn’t the fastest process, but it worked and I got the treatment and support I needed.

      You deserve the same. Please see your GP. If you have concerns that your GP is not listening or taking your concerned seriously, please find a new one.

      (I will note that I am in Scotland and things may be different down south, I’m not sure. My treatment, medications etc were all completely free on the NHS because of this, but you’d pay prescription charges in the rest of the UK I believe.)

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m British though I am based in Spain but I’m in weekly therapy at the moment and my younger brother, who is based in the UK, is in therapy there. He went through the NHS to get a referral and it took up to six weeks, which isn’t great since he went to the ER and said that he was thinking about killing himself and he needed help: their help included sending him on his way with a leaflet about who to call, which wasn’t overly helpful. He went private in the end because the wait times were just far too long for him to do so and I believe he found his current therapist through word of mouth.

      I have my sessions online. My therapist is currently based in South Africa though she works through a Spanish company so when I pay her, I pay her Spanish bank account and the prices are €70 a session but my other brother has a therapist at €50 so you can really shop around. If you do go the online therapy route, look for websites that are validated by the medical body in the UK, ask for referrals from the GP, that’s good, but also do what you’re doing now and ask a bunch of people. Hell, the Yellow Pages might even have something (although I’m probably showing my age there).

      One thing I was told at the beginning is that most people need between 5-8 sessions to start noticing a difference and I really noticed that as well. Around session 5, I was feeling more confident in myself and I had a number of breakthroughs that have been really helpful, so if you do go private, budget for about 10 sessions so that you can really commit to it.

      I’m sure there are a number of NHS therapists who also take on private patients so you can skip the line but if you do go through the NHS, be prepared for long wait times and an inability to really shop around. As much as I love the NHS, they really don’t have a good handle on mental health care and that’s purely because of funding issues, not because those that are working there are bad.

    6. Applebaby*

      Hi!
      A few options: depending on your location you can refer to IAPT (improving access to psychological therapies) services, easy to do online. They tend to offer CBT/phone talking therapy/online stuff. Have had friends with mixed experiences from this.
      You can get a referral from your GP but that takes months if not years.
      You can go private! Which is what I did. There’s a website called Welldoing where you can find a therapist in your area. It took me a few goes to find someone I gelled with that ‘got’ me and what works for me (bodywork/imagination/psychodynamic).

    7. Anonymoose*

      Sorry I’m not UK, but I am Canadian so hopefully there is some overlap.
      Can you afford to pay for a therapist? Over here this gives you a lot more control over who you get. A friend had problems with anxiety and called up therapists and asked for their expertise with treating it, and they happened to find someone with a specialty of people who had been hurt by the medical system. The therapist helped with the anxiety, and also worked to get them specialists who were able to help them improve physically.

      FYI, EAP is limited to about 8 sessions a year and is meant for specific short-term issues. If you call them and say “I am stressed by a fight with my family” then they will likely help you. If you say “I’m not feeling well and am wondering if I have depression or anxiety” then they will likely refer you to outside resources. In my case I wondered if a specific incident was causing me problems, so I had an EAP appointment set up for me, and during our meeting she said that she would talk with me about my health, and if it needed medical support then this specific health problem would be long-term and I would need to get that outside the EAP.

    8. Bobina*

      I had typed up a pretty long reply but it looks like its been eaten. I’ll check again this evening if it appears and if not I’ll share my thoughts again!

    9. misspiggy*

      You don’t need to go through your GP anymore, you can self refer on the NHS website for ‘talking therapy’ . Google NHS therapy referral. You just need your GP’s postcode.

      The site shows you which companies cover your area, you choose one, and call or sign up on their website.

      The provider decides whether you would benefit from what they offer, and waiting lists are usually not long. so please don’t feel like you don’t deserve this help. It’s not for people in severe mental health crisis – that’s a separate system. So you wouldn’t be taking away from anyone who needed urgent help.

      I had several phone sessions using this approach recently. It was – fine. had to wait a few weeks, but not as long as it would have been a few years ago. The person was very nice and caring, and agency wasn’t as ableist as I had feared, given my last therapy experiences 15 years ago. Not a fix for everything, but it was overall a safe experience.

      Some of the providers even offer more types of therapy than the ubiquitous CBT, such as EMDR.

      1. misspiggy*

        Just to add – I signed up on the provider’s website, and it accepted my referral straight away on the basis of an online questionnaire. So I didn’t have to talk to a person or wait for a decision. I have similar issues about not being believed, and this was a big plus for me.

        The company was Trent PTS in the Midlands: you could take a look at their website to get an idea of what you do and don’t want in a therapy provider.

    10. FrozenPeas*

      I’m in the Uk and I’ve had two long term therapists. I went privately because I was lucky enough to be able to afford it, and choosing someone I connected to (as a person but also in their therapeutic approach) was important to me.

      I started by thinking about what I was hoping to get out of therapy. I knew a bit about different therapies (basic stuff like what CBT can do for you, what a person-centred approach is) and roughly decided what was probably not right for me, so I focussed on finding therapists specialising on the approaches I preferred. I put together a short list of things that I wanted in a therapist and questions to ask them.

      I actually found both therapists on the Pink Therapy directory, the website is a bit old school but I think the listings are kept up to date. The majority are members of the LGBTQ+ community which again was important to me, but they don’t just deal with community issues. All are properly registered and qualified, it was just a way to filter the vast number of therapists out there. I then set up a few initial consultations to see who I got on with. That was the hardest part to be honest because I’m a people pleaser and I want to say yes to everyone!

      In terms of costs, I currently pay £60 per session and I have them weekly. Since COVID hit they are phone consultations (although I had the choice of having video consultations too).

  5. HNY*

    Tell me about journaling – do you find it helpful? How do you do it (yes, I know, that seems obvious, but do you follow prompts, do it at the start/end of the day, write or type etc)? I need to find ways to ‘get out of my own head’ but every attempt I’ve had at journalling in the past has failed as it’s become another ‘chore’ that I find myself making excuses not to do. But…really need a better way of processing my thoughts other than ruminating at 3am.

    1. Jo*

      I find it helpful, but I have no set routine for it – I do it when I feel like I need to. Mainly I just “stream of thought” write stuff out. Getting it out of my head and onto paper usually just helps me feel like I’ve cleared my head – and sometimes writing it down helps me figure out what is actually bothering me.

      1. Generic Name*

        Same. I write when the mood strikes me and I usually write about what’s bothering me. What if when you’re up ruminating you write down what you’re ruminating about?

    2. Captain Lance*

      I’ve found it helpful. It’s changed over the past two years for me, but the semi-constant thing was doing it in the morning and if I wanted to, going back for another session at night. I’ve done prompts and I’ve also done it unprompted just to dump thoughts, especially during the first few months of the quarantine. I think what’s helped me is to do it coming from a sense of self-compassion. I’m not doing it to impress anyone, or follow any journaling ‘standards’ (although I do morning pages my own way), or stop feeling anxious. I don’t put pressure on myself to do it daily, too (although it’s something I’m looking to develop as more of a habit this year).

      I have a low-energy version of it (which is basically anything from half a page to a full page of whatever notebook I’m using at the time, usually an A5 sized one) and a high-energy routine where I do the 3-page morning pages type. But I just let it out and stop when it feels natural for me. It takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, but I appreciate it because it means no-gadget time for me.

    3. Just a person*

      My husband has a set of goals for each day that he ticks off and then he writes about the bright spot in the day.

      I normally journal when I can’t fall asleep and just write anything that comes to mind until I fall asleep.

    4. Asenath*

      I’ve found it helpful, and done it in different ways. I never followed prompts. Initially I wrote whatever popped into my head. If I was really upset, I wrote non-stop at the time (or as soon as I could manage) and until I calmed down. Sometimes I kept these pages and re-read them for perspective later, but generally I destroyed them after they’d served their purpose of allowing me to vent. Now I usually type, do so when I feel like it which is oddly often the first thing in the morning about what happened the day before. If I find myself ruminating, that’s a good time to write. If I can’t think of anything to say (and don’t want to just skip a day), I write a sentence about the weather or something. And although I don’t follow prompts as such, if I find a quotation that seems particularly meaningful, I’ll write it down. For a while, I used a book with thoughts for the day, and wrote those down even on days I didn’t want to write anything else. So, long story short, I’ve varied my methods according to what seems to work at the time, and that includes periods of not writing at all.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      I do find it helpful but I don’t do it frequently. Maybe I’ll do it every couple of weeks or just if I’ve had an odd day and I need to work thinks out. It’s definitely helped me and it’s always worth giving a try as when you’re writing your feelings down, you’re getting them out of your head and onto your paper. I don’t ever read what I journal but YMMV on that.

    6. OtterB*

      I have journaled off and on for years. I seem to process things better in writing. I don’t use prompts, except when I am using the journal as a form of prayer in which case a scripture of the day might be my starting point. I have done open-ended morning pages, written about major decisions or difficulties, written about work or travel or current events. It’s best for me to do it by hand. I use the “composition books” that are usually for school or lab notebooks. Nice journals make me feel like I have to write something profound. Looseleaf paper feels too scattered. Typing doesn’t have the same brain-to-page connection because I automatically edit as I go as though I am writing for an audience and want to impress them. Be aware that you may find it tapping into emotions you are in the habit of repressing. For me that’s anger. The fact that I get angry while writing doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to write. For me, it’s important to commit to being fully honest so I am not writing fanfic about my life. Mornings are better for me than later because it’s easier to be consistent and because it’s more energizing than relaxing.

    7. Jay*

      I tried to journal for years and found it either actively annoying or unhelpful. I felt self-conscious while I was doing it. I’m a writer, so I felt like I should journal – don’t all writers journal? – and always felt weird about the fact that I didn’t. I bought lovely blank books and they sat on the shelf, mocking me. When personal blogs were a thing, I had one for several years that served as a kind of journal, but I avoided anything too personal or difficult because anonymous isn’t private, and it wasn’t entirely anonymous. More like psuedonymous.

      Anyway. Right after the pandemic started, something terrible happened in my life. Many of my coping mechanisms were off-limits because we were in lockdown, so I picked up one of those blank books and just started scribbling. I didn’t think about sentence structure or word choice or anything else – I just wrote. I realized that I had previously approached journaling as WRITING, so I approached it the way I do my other writing. It work when I think of it more as dumping emotions and thoughts on to the page. For a while in the midst of the crisis I did journal every day. Now I do it when I feel I need to. I don’t use prompts. I just write until I feel calmer or I feel I’ve resolved something.

      I think it depends on your goal. I use journaling as an emotional coping mechanism and processing space, so this works for me.

      1. anonymath*

        Yep. My journaling is not WRITING, it’s dumping emotional crap and minutia of my brain onto a page. It’s the equivalent of dumping everything out my purse so I can clean it out.

        I do keep my journals and look through old ones now & then in an unsystematic way. It was useful when contemplating a career change because I had a moment while glancing through them in which I said to myself (more or less) “wow you’ve been dumping the same crap out of your brain for like 6 years. Aren’t you tired of that?!” Yes, yes I was. Now I have new and better problems with my new and better job ;) so I keep journaling!

    8. Sloan Kittering*

      My problem with journaling is that I tend to use it to process/express only bad or anxious emotions, so then I have this book sitting around full of really negative thoughts and feelings, and I’m always worried someone is going to pick it up and think it’s an accurate depiction of how I feel about life. I say some terrible things in there and now I have a fixation that I’m compelled to read it in court or something (can happen, probably not realistic) or after I’m hit by a car or whatever. Because of this issue, I now prefer to journal on word docs that I save to a password-protected file and write over regularly. It does prevent me from looking back as effectively to say “see, this bad thing I was worried about didn’t happen” but it’s worth it for my peace of mind.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        When I journaled in high school, it was a lot of venting my negative emotions. I recently reread my high school journal and I cringed at so many of the things I wrote, laughed at my pettiness, and reflected on how many of my memories of high school are positive but so much of what I wrote in my journal is negative. I’m thinking of what I want to do with that journal and the best way to get rid of it (maybe burn it?) because, like you, I don’t want anyone to stumble across it and come away thinking I’m a miserable person/had a terrible time in high school.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Yeah I have told my friend to find my hard-copy journal and, without reading it, make sure it gets buried with me!

      2. Daffodilly*

        That’s why I just type stream of consciousness until I’ve worked out the emotion or figured out the core thing that bothers me, and then I close it without saving.
        Journaling for me is about the process not the end product.

    9. Purt’s Peas*

      I do it less now, but I do find it helpful for the 3AM rumination feelings! It’s a sort of a short-circuit / cheat.

      Basically if I have a task or an event that I need to do/remember, my brain will ruminate over it; once I write the task down, my brain is like “ok, it’ll be remembered, I can stop thinking ‘I need to pack my charger.’”

      So if I’m ruminating over something else more emotional, I can write down the contents of my rumination. And my brain is like “cool, it’ll be remembered, I can stop thinking ‘I feel so bad about X.’” I never look back on these journals, but my brain trusts that I will.

      If you already have something you regularly, like add things to your calendar, or maintain a todo list, it might help to journal in a similar format to that.

      1. ronda*

        I have never been a person who wants to write, so never been a journal type.
        But,
        I did read an article about worrying and one technique to help was to schedule your worrying. So if something comes up, instead of worrying about it then , write it down and schedule a time to worry , add more stuff to the list if it comes up. When your scheduled time comes up, think about it then. Your brain is satisfied in the moment that you are going to do something about it and when you get around to worrying about it, you may not feel the same way about it.

        I have not tried it, but it sounds like it might really work. So if that is what you are trying to accomplish with journalling, maybe putting a scheduled meeting on your calendar and adding to the list until the scheduled time will work.

    10. Mimmy*

      I see journaling as a way to process thoughts, ideas, and emotions. When I was much younger, I journaled all. the. time. I finally destroyed the notebooks years later because I was ashamed of some of the dark or weird things I wrote. I couldn’t even bare to re-read them.

      Nowadays, I journal by typing out my thoughts and save them in various MS Word files. Most of them have been to try to process my thoughts on potential careers (can you say, “analysis paralysis”? lol), which never really helped because I didn’t have anyone to discuss them with. I’ve journaled about other things too, but not on a regular basis, which I’d like to change. I just need to figure out how to do it in a way that’ll help me and not make things worse.

    11. Jackalope*

      There’s the Ignatian examen which involves each evening or early the next morning thinking through the good and bad parts of your day. It’s meant as a spiritual tool which I personally find helpful, but if that’s not your thing then you can just write good and bad things for each day. I used to always just freeform write whatever had happened and sometimes it was a lot of writing, but now I do this more often. It’s nice because it can be super fast or it can take as long as you need it to. It also helps remind me that every day has some good and some bad, which is helpful. And looking back over it later you can see patterns that can help you make choices about life. For example, I’ve looked back and seen that a specific activity made me happy every time I did it, so I made more room for it in my life. Or for an example the other direction I was in a lousy romantic relationship and part of why I ended it was looking back over a few months and seeing that every time I mentioned the other person it was on the bad side of the day. I’d known it wasn’t going super well but that really drove it home for me.

    12. Olivia Oil*

      Yes because I only journal when I feel like it or need to. I don’t put pressure on myself to do it regularly, only if I feel like it will help me at the time. I pretty much only journal when I’m going through a difficult time as a way to process my feelings. I do a combination of prompts and stream of consciousness.

    13. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I have notebooks but rather than “journaling” in complete thoughts and sentences, I might write a poem or the start of a poem, a few lines that might be a poem eventually if I come back to it; or sometimes I copy down a text exchange or email that seemed significant…as a way of preserving it, maybe, or just because it felt poignant at the time; theses are often not poignant weeks later. I might just do a little drawing. Write a tiny 1 scene play. I hope these are all burned at my death, unread, and I tend not to keep them after a notebook is filled.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      I had to keep a daily gratitude journal as part of physical therapy. On the last page of the 6-month journal, I wrote I was grateful for not having to fill out this stupid journal anymore! I guess I’m not into journaling.
      Hope you have better luck!

    15. Girasol*

      My journal isn’t to get out of my head, so perhaps I don’t have the same objectives as you. I have heard of writers journaling, doing a character sketch of a woman they saw in the store, jotting down plot ideas, and so on. I’ve heard of people who keep an uplifting gratitude journal. Some people write down what they did each day so they know what day the payment was sent or whether they’re making steady progress on whatever endeavor. My journal gets into my head. It’s a friend to talk to when no one is around or when what I want to yak about is too boring, angry, political, or embarrassing to say in polite company: what I need to do, why am I procrastinating, where did I leave off on a complicated project, what I’d say to that so-and-so if I didn’t know perfectly well that I’d regret it tomorrow… stuff like that. My journal keeps me organized, helps me move from being stuck on something to problem solving, and lets me vent without annoying actual people.

    16. comityoferrors*

      I’ve found journaling helpful. I actually do use prompts, or rather a format, to help me with mindfulness and feeling actively connected to my emotions and body. I used to struggle a lot with 3am ruminating as well, and this structure really helped me. The friend who showed me calls it My Pretty Little Goth Friend Annaliese. It’s:

      Mood (any and all at the moment you’re writing); Physical (sensations you’re feeling, what you hear and see, etc.); Let go (of a thought you’re stuck on, of a habit you’re unhappy with, of unrealistic expectations for yourself, whatever); Gratitude (I do three items), Focus (a task to accomplish today, a mindset you’d like to have, a new habit to form); and Affirmation.

      It’s short enough that I can journal in 5-10 minutes, and it helps prevent me from spiraling endlessly about all my anxieties and displeasures about my day. I find that it’s balanced enough that I don’t overdo it in the other direction, either, so I’m not *only* journaling about how I’m so grateful for every single thing in my life and never acknowledging that I’m sad or angry or human.

      I do freeform journaling in addition to the prompt sometimes, if I’m still struggling with a thought after I answer. There’s a lot of value in being able to just get your thoughts on paper. But it’s a lot more effective for me if I’ve done my mental check-in first. If traditional journaling is appealing but hasn’t helped much, I would try the prompt (or a similar one!) a few times to see how it feels.

    17. chi chan*

      Pull out your cell phone and make a voice recording of your ruminations. It is like verbal journaling. I often fall asleep after confiding to my cellphone and I don’t have to get up, turn on the light and find a pen to write stuff down.

    18. Koala dreams*

      I keep a small notebook near my bed so I can write downs things I worry about before I sleep. It could be shopping lists, memories, night mares. It can also be positive things: a cute dog I saw, something I look forward to. It’s easier with a small notebook and not a big one since the page fill up quickly and you don’t have a lot of white space to fill. You could draw if you don’t like writing, or use stickers.

      Some people use calendar notebooks to write down things. Could be weather, events (birthdays, holidays, meetings…), bird sightings, whatever you find important. That way you also have limited space so it’s quick to finish each day (not that you need to write each day, of course).

    19. retired3*

      I’ve been journaling on and off for 50 years or so, “on” right now because I’m going through life changes (not related to covid), My only rule is that I can’t lie to myself. I focus on my spiritual life rather than daily events. One thing that has been interesting is my New Year’s “as if” lists. Many years ago I talked with a therapist about not having hope. I asked her what you do if you don’t have hope and she said you act as if you do. I spend some time thinking about what I would like to change in the coming year, but don’t really ruminate or come back to the “as if” list. I have found that mostly I accomplish what was in my list…kind of like yoga intentions. So it taps into the part of my life I’m not particularly aware of and helps me consider things besides grocery lists. Gives me balance and some centering. And I do write/edit for money, but that’s not my focus.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How is everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.

    Personally I’ve been in the groove lately so I’ve actually made quite some progress in the first draft! I wonder how much of this I’ll need to adjust when editing ^^’

    1. Another Writer*

      I have been totally flat. My last book didn’t get much fuss once it was out and I find it’s the hardest thing in the world to write a new book while trying unsuccessfully to sell your last one. There are so many books in the world, so many more coming out every day – it seems a bit futile to me at the moment. I hate how the industry has invaded something I used to enjoy for its own sake. However, I try to recall that it’s like this every time, and once it passes I usually get excited about a new idea and find myself doing it all over again.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’m working on a first draft nonfiction from a series of interviews, and have been really struggling because the interviewee is such a circular thinker. They don’t go off on irrelevant tangents, but they see each topic we’re covering as so deeply connected to every other, that they want to explain the whole book in every interview. They were especially circular when we started, and got more focused as we went on. So I was struggling to decide what to keep or toss from early interviews, because we were going to cover the material in a more focused way later.

      I realized this week that the best thing was to work backwards. By having the ending chapters already roughed out, I can tell what to keep from the earlier talks, and what is extraneous. I don’t have to wonder if I’ll need something later, because it already was later.

      Time travel is cool.

    3. Maryn B.*

      I posted something at a writing website for input from other writers, warning them it was a first draft. (I write fairly clean, so it wasn’t riddled with mistakes or anything that embarrassing.) The feedback was positive and mostly quite brief, enough that the one person who gave actual critique contacted me privately asking if she’d gone overboard. I reassured her that only her input would help me improve it, which is true. I’ve made edits based on what she said.

      The best part is that later I got a private message from someone who said they’d been in exactly that situation, and I’d gotten it so right that they wondered if it was based on my actual life, which it was not.

      Research for the win.

    4. Jacey*

      I’m planning a D&D campaign in an original setting and I’m having a GREAT time filling out a little world wiki on Obsidian Portal. (For those who don’t know, obsidian portal dot com is a website that lets you keep all your RPG campaign info in one place—I recommend it!) It’s been a while since I wrote any straight world-building, so I’m enjoying not having to juggle pacing or other scene considerations. Also, I’m doing my best to make the world feel alive but not unplayably baroque… it’s an interesting tightrope to walk!

      1. Mimi*

        How do you organize your wiki? I’ve only ever kept my worldbuilding in a journal (usually not-well-organized, since I come up with a lot of it on the fly and often don’t know if this setting/character/org needs a sentence, a paragraph, or a whole page).

        1. Jacey*

          Good question! And sorry if this answer is coming too late for you to see it.

          I start by making a main page with links to categories: places, people, objects, and events. Then I make a separate page for each category and make a list on each page of the big names (like major towns or NPCs, quest items, big moments in world history or the campaign…). I go through the list and see if I can explain each point in a sentence or if I need more. If more, I make a page for that bullet point. If not, I put the sentence right there on the category page.

    5. Malarkey01*

      I have a question for those with experience if anyone feels up for it. I’m not a writer but started working on a novel twenty years ago, put it away, and recently got it back out and am maybe 75% done with it (writing some sections for the first time, completely rewriting others). Anyway it’s a little (very?) NSFW and also loosely based on an one year experience of my life that I’ve never shared. I’m trying to figure out who I can ask to beta read it. Any advice on how to hit up friends and family while simultaneously being worried that they will think it’s the dumbest attempt at writing and wondering if they will forever be visualizing my past sex life?

      1. Maryn B.*

        Can I recommend you join a writing community that includes memoirs and fictionalized biographies. AbsoluteWrite.com/forums (where I’m a moderator for my genre) is one. It’s quite possible this first effort in its present state is as bad as you fear (first drafts are like that!), but there are many people there who will guide you toward improving it until you’re not a bit ashamed to show it around.

        There’s plenty of NSFW content there, for the record. It’s probably wise for you to change names and disguise identities of real people who are portrayed as anything but wonderful, including yourself. AW can help you do that, too.

        I strongly advise against asking friends and family to beta read. They love you and won’t want to hurt your feelings with the truth.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      For a long time, other things in my life got in the way of my writing, which in my case is for my blog that’s the same as my handle. I’ve been really enjoying the fact that I now want to write again after my creativity was on hiatus for so long. While nature writing has been my primary habitat, and no doubt will continue to be, I’m also opening up to again writing about other topics.

      And A.N. O’Nyme, thank you for consistently posting this writing thread over such an extended period of time. Although I don’t comment very often, I very much appreciate reading it!

    7. Cendol*

      Thanks for this thread, as always! Writing is not happening here—I’ve been in quite a slump. Just poking at a fanfic for now while I wait to hear back about a handful of pending submissions.

    8. awesome3*

      It’s been awhile since I was able to write, so I was really proud to be able to write the equivalent of 11 pages on the notes app of my phone. It’s nice to have a head start like that

  7. 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 game you wish including board games and phone games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    I’m still on 7 Billion Humans. Some of these puzzles are actually getting quite hard, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

    1. Cartographical*

      I replayed Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning (the original version) this week and last and it still holds up. My only wish is that it had been multiplayer so I could adventure with friends or at least that it had a companion system. The world is beautifully realized and illustrated, there’s lots to do before and after the main story, and the DLC is a nice expansion on the world. It’s not super gory or disturbing, in terms of the combat. (Fallout, one of my favourite series, can be a little much for some people with the dismemberment mechanic and raider ‘aesthetic’ areas.)

      I consider it an excellent “gateway” game for video games in general and RPGs specifically, as the combat system isn’t too taxing, the skills development is meaningful, and the crafting system is limited enough to be manageable but still has an impact on the game. It can get a little overwhelming if you give into the urge to join every available faction but if you have an idea of what kind of character you want to play it’s a clear run to the end of the main story with plenty of side quests to keep leveling from feeling like grinding. Fable II & III also fall into this category for me: pretty ways to pass the time.

      Because they’re older games, it’s usually possible to get them quite cheaply on sale, which doesn’t hurt. If you’ve ever wanted to try out an RPG video game but aren’t sure where to start, I love Amalur, Fable II & III, and Dragon Age: Origins. I have intermittent neurological issues that make combat in games challenging but I’ve managed well in all of those — especially on casual/story mode. The next step from there would be into Fallout (its built-in targeting system is good for those of us who are combat-challenged), Skyrim (save the world or spend eighty hours as a poor woodcutter trying to make ends meet, your choice), or something like Assassin’s Creed (if you like puzzles and have good reflexes).

      This was also my first time using an Xbox controller on my PC and I can’t recommend it enough, it’s a nice change of pace for those of us who already type on a keyboard all day. I usually do console games but we’ve shifted to PC in order to play Borderlands with our kids via Steam. For the unfamiliar, Borderlands is a ridiculous, hilarious, brightly-coloured, gonzo-style “science fiction” adventure/shooter that can be played as a party, it’s not an MMO/open-world like Fallout 76 (though that would be amazing).

      I’ll also put in a plug for the Elite controller from Xbox here because I can’t imagine going back now that I have one. The travel-distance between buttons and sticks is reduced, the grip is great, the underside paddles are a huge upgrade, it has three custom input profiles, and the adjustable sensitivity is incredibly helpful if you have issues with arthritis or fine motor skills. MS may be an Evil Empire but their accessibility is relatively good — they have a whole suite of accessible input devices separate from the controllers if you’ve ever wanted to explore gaming but need accommodation for your motor skills.

      1. Remedial Chaos Theory*

        I really loved Amalur when it first came out, I thought it had such interesting worldbuilding. I just finished playing the new DLC for the remake, and despite being new content, it feels dated in a way replaying the original base game doesn’t, though I did enjoy it more than not.

        I too have just started using an Xbox controller for PC games — I’m on a keyboard and mouse all day, and frankly, my hands get tired a lot sooner than they used to.

        1. Cartographical*

          Getting away from the mouse was a big deal. I really like my Razer game pad but the mouse wasn’t doing it for me anymore. The controller really is a great change of pace.

          I waffled on getting Re-Reckoning this time but stuck with the original and it was the right call. Part of the reason for playing was the nostalgia, which wouldn’t have been the same. I’ll wait until it goes on sale so I’ll have less to complain about if I don’t like it. I’m about to give the remastered Mass Effect a go now.

      2. DarthVelma*

        Bts, if you have played and enjoyed any of the Telltale games, like Walking Dead or Wolf Among Us, they also did Tales From the Borderlands. It has the same colorful style and whacked-out sense of humor as the Borderlands games with a lot of really engrossing story-telling and difficult choices. (My partner STILL can’t believe a couple of the choices I made in my play-through. It’s been 4 years since I played it and I’m still hearing about it.)

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      My husband and I have been playing Scythe more in the last week or two. I highly recommend it.

      1. Cartographical*

        I’ve seen trailers for that but missed that you could do multiplayer, thank you! I will check it out, I’m always looking for “together” games.

        1. Cartographical*

          (I was assuming this was a video game and may have it confused with another one — now I have to go look.)

          1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            It’s a board game, but they do have a digital version available on Steam. One day when my husband’s back was hurting, we played the digital version “together” each on our laptops.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Wordle!

      It’s funny, usually when I find a puzzle I like, I want to do a whole bunch of them and go down the rabhit hole. So I looked up the wordle archive so I could do more than 1 a day.

      But when I tried it, I didn’t really want to do extras. One was just right.

    4. Jacey*

      My group is coming into the home stretch of our current tabletop campaign! I’m the current GM and I’m excited for the plot threads all pulling together… but also relieved that I’ll get to just be a player again soon lol

      1. Mimi*

        I thought we were at this point… a year ago… and then one of the characters made an extremely unwise decision that headed them all right back into rabbit holes. Someday we’ll get there.

    5. CatCat*

      Like millions of others, I’ve been enjoying Wordle.

      Also enjoying/raging at Absurdle, which is evil Wordle that works against you instead of with you.

    6. Fikly*

      Trying to find games that work with my current abilities, which is limited use of one finger, but also work for me cognitively.

      I found Bubbles the Cat, which is a surpisingly interesting and fun one button platformer (kind of a puzzle one?), but I tend to get excited and then press the button hard enough to hurt myself.

      On the other hand, have been playing a bit of pokemon cafe remix, which has the advantage of cutting me off after just a few rounds, so I can’t overdo, and I have all the time I need to plan a move before only using my finger for a short time, so it’s working better than I thought it would.

      1. beep beep*

        Yo! Not sure if this is up your alley genre-wise, but did a little poking around and you may enjoy this one-button game called Painted Waters? Launches open beta in a week and their website has some other gaming accessibility content you may find helpful, ymmv: https://playabilityinitiative.com/.

        1. Fikly*

          Oh, thank you! Funnily enough, I follow two groups they partner with, Taming Gaming and Able Gamers, but hadn’t heard of them.

          My brain isn’t quite up to digging through their site to see what this game actually is, but I signed up to get a code for when their open beta launches, and hopefully it’ll be a fit. Thanks for the suggestion!

    7. Heckofabecca*

      Last Sunday was the final session of my D&D campaign’s first act—and I got a standing ovation! In the end, the party basically stood by while a local faith leader executed/beheaded an avatar of a god on earth. :)

      Prior to the dramatic conclusion, the party had to get through a cavern series to gather some goodies for the faith leader’s great-aunt, a half-halfling, and at least one almost died just getting across a trench, not to mention the gelatinous ooze… Good job, kids!

    8. The Dude Abides*

      Debating whether to tear up a Pauper deck after the bans that came down, and scared I might have to completely redo a modern deck or three come Tuesday.

    9. Smol Book Wizard*

      I asked my brother-in-law for recommendations for something that would keep me busy on the Switch but be less emotionally all-encompassing than FE:3h and am now working on Rune Factory 4, which is suitably low stress and cute. I didn’t find the wood and stone crate for a while though and was very frustrated that I couldn’t access my materials which I KNEW I HAD…

    10. SparklingBlue*

      Counting down the days til Pokemon Legends: Arceus comes out! I am beyond excited to see an ancient Pokemon world.

    11. Scotlibrarian*

      I’m loving Township which is a free mobile farming and trading game. It’s weirdly satisfying getting together good and then watching your helicopter flying off. I’ve been playing by myself for quite some time, but I’m now in a co-op where we can help each other

    12. DarthVelma*

      Still working on finishing up important Destiny 2 content before the Witch Queen comes out and they vault a lot of stuff. I managed to finish Season of the Splicer this week (and I will NEVER do another Expunge again – YAY!).

      The partner and I also managed to finish the Grasp of Avarice dungeon during our day off on Monday. I was WAY under-powered for that dungeon…like 30 light levels underpowered. But we did it. And now I have a bright, shiny Gjallarhorn to blow things up with. :-) Also got my light level above 1300. Not bad for only really playing the last three weekends.

      Today’s goals – finish up the steps to get the Ager’s Scepter. Maybe try another run at the Prophecy dungeon with the partner (it kicked our butts yesterday). And try to do the stupid jumping puzzle for Xur to get another shiny shiny gun.

    13. Jay*

      I found an odd little gem on Steam this week called Strange Horticulture. I haven’t had time to delve into it, but it’s a Puzzle/Riddle type game centered around a vaguely Lovecraftian small town where you have just inherited it’s Spooky Herbalist shop from your Mysterious Dead Uncle.

    14. LimeRoos*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo still, we just beat the Ubers twice! I got the fancy charm for my Barb and totally destroy things now. Recently hubby saw Spiritfarer on sale for Switch and sent me the link, because it was like Animal Crossing but not Tom Nook’s Brand of Capitalism XD or as he says “that weird thing with the animals and capitalism”… Spiritfarer has been very fun so far! Gorgeous game with a really interesting premise, and there’s a solid chance I may cry a little (I read about it a bit, just to make sure I’d like it, and oh boy.) Very much looking forward to playing that one more. I started Paper Mario on the N64 switch games, and played for like 4 hours straight then couldn’t fall asleep because I just saw Paper Mario when I closed my eyes. Oops. So that’s on hold for a little longer lol. And of course Minecraft! The update has been amazing, and our friends just found this HUGE almost endless cavern that we’re exploring and flying through with Elytra because it’s just that big.

      Today is probably going to result in more Key runs for Diablo, since I am completely hooked and we need two Paladin charms, a Sorceress charm, and 2 more Amazon charms.

    15. Mimi*

      I played Cascadia for the second time last week. The alternate goals and interesting and really vary gameplay.

  8. Bobina*

    Gardening thread:
    Its winter (and too cold for my liking) where I am so not much happening other than a few bulbs trying really hard to get going. I’m already thinking about spring and some of the clearing up that needs doing. I have some grasses that I think I want to re-pot so that they can hopefully start growing to their full height which should be up to 2m (I bought them to provide some height/visual interest to an otherwise boring wall). So I shall yet again be spending more money on pots!

    My attempts at annuals last year didnt really do well – so wondering if I want to invest in fancier seeds or just make do with what I have.

    If its summer where you are – how are your plants doing?

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Summer greetings Bobina :) I’m still settling into my new house and garden during what is an incredibly unusual La Nina summer. The previous owners of the house were Not Gardeners. They left behind a very neat and low maintenance garden that features lots of gravel, astroturf, and several varieties of “bulletproof” plants that are also incredibly invasive. Because of the warmth, long days of light and all the rain, those things are bolting overnight, so I’m slowly chipping away at either cutting them back or replacing them. I’ll eventually rip it all out and create my own space, but I’d like to live through the full range of seasons first (including a typical summer) before I lock in a plan. The previous owners did also leave me some fantastic (and neglected and overrun) raised veggie beds, which I have been getting stuck into. My beans and most of my herbs are looking very promising! Everything else is struggling, dead or didn’t make it past emerging seedling. Summer is generally not the best time for a veggie patch in full sun in the subtropics though, and I suspect that despite it being quite mild this year, the microclimate in my garden is just too much for them with all the gravel and plastic grass. Like you, I wondered about my seeds. They were the “fancy” ones, they all looked healthy, they’re appropriate to sow in my climate and season, I followed the directions, and yet many failed. I think sometimes plants are just gonna plant?

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh, new house and garden sound so exciting! And while I’m sure having to deal with “bulletproof” invasive plants wont be fun, I’m excited for you just thinking about all the potential of what could be :D

        Glad to hear at least the herbs are doing well – I seem to be a herb killer despite my best efforts.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Oh, I’m super excited! I’m sure I’m going to be asking a million questions here over the next few months about landscape design!

          The frustrating thing about herbs here is that all the ones I want to nom on in summer – basil, dill, tarragon, coriander – it’s too hot for! Meanwhile, the winter dish ones like thyme, sage and rosemary are going off. I have several types of mint going cray (that I planted 3 weeks ago but you’d think I’d planted months ago) but I don’t really use much mint. I mainly planted it to discourage possums from venturing in, and to make fresh mint tea in autumn. I don’t know if you can get this cultivar called “chocolate mint” in UK? It smells exactly as the name suggests and makes the most delicious tea.

          1. Crackerjack*

            I have that in the UK! My mum gave me four fancy mints a few years ago, chocolate, basil, lemon and cologne and I basically never use them because its basic peppermint I want with lamb, salad etc.

            You probably won’t see thisnow, but just in case – how do you make mint tea?

            1. Mimi*

              I’m not Cat Memes, but I just grab a bunch of stems (a big handful), rinse them, and dump them in my biggest pan (6 qt, I think) covered in water, bring it to a boil, and then let it sit with the leaves at least an hour. Depending on your mint/how much you use, this will either be tea or tea concentrate that you can mix with water. If you like your tea at all sweet, it’s easiest to add sugar/honey while it’s still warm.

            2. Expiring Cat Memes*

              I make it similar to Mimi but a bit more rudimentary: a good handful of washed mint, torn and just covered with cool water, then pour not-quite-boiling water over the top, allow to steep for 5min and start drinking. If you use enough mint the flavour comes through quickly. Key thing is to not get boiling water straight onto the leaves as that’ll burn them before you can extract the flavour. Just made a pot today with peppermint, lemon balm and thyme and it was delicious. Thinly sliced fresh ginger is another great addition.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Very much winter here – low single-digit temperatures this morning – and the only gardening I’m doing other than daydreaming about How Much I’ll Accomplish Next Season, For Sure is maintaining my Aerogarden. That has a thriving collection of parsley (flat-leaf and curly) and cilantro, and is outstripping my usual requirements to the point that I’m hunting up recipes. Made some very tasty carrot-and-parsley soup!

    3. CatCat*

      It’s winter here, but we have mild winters. I was disappointed in my winter garden. Radishes did well, but not much else. In a couple weeks, I can plant nasturtium seeds so I am looking forward to that.

      I got a new round of Aerogarden going with mint, green shiso, and arugula. The arugula is coming in FAST.

      1. Pippa K*

        Can I ask you and GoryDetails above about your Aerogardens? I’ve had only limited success in starting and growing herbs in ordinary windowsill pots, but Aerogarden owners seem to get good results, so maybe it’s worth investing in one? I’d love to have salad greens and herbs on hand. I’m curious about how simple it is, where in the house you keep it, etc. if you don’t mind giving some recommendations!

        1. CatCat*

          It’s very easy to keep. Herbs do well in it as do salad greens! They’re pretty fun. The light is VERY bright though. We keep ours in the kitchen. I have two Harvest models. I used pods that came with it at first, but now I do my own pods with seeds I bought.

        2. Quiet Liberal*

          We love our Aerogarden! It’s currently on the workbench in our basement shop. The lights are on about 17 hours a day, and very bright, so you don’t want the unit where that’s going to bug you. We plant our own garden seeds and currently are growing lettuce, spinach, basil, thyme and rosemary. We leave about two inches of the plant when we harvest and usually get a couple more crops from each until the roots get cloggy. Then we start over. We only use it in winter as we garden outside in summer. We’ve had it about 8 years. In fact, my husband just made some yummy hummus with a bunch of basil this morning.

        3. GoryDetails*

          They’re very simple to use, though you do need to check on them – the display will tell you when the unit needs water or fertilizer, but if you’ve set it somewhere out of the way you might not notice. [It’s not horrible if you miss a feeding by a few days, but if the water level gets too low the plants can die.] I have noticed that my parsley is a water-hog, using more water than lettuce; when it’s in full production I have to top off the water every few days.

          The light is bright enough that I’ve placed other pot-plants next to the Aerogarden to benefit from the light! And I like having it on in the mornings in winter – makes a nice cheery sight on dark days.

          There are different sizes of units, but I’ve stuck with the six-pod styles. They aren’t very large, fit neatly on an end-table or the end of a kitchen counter, and produce plenty for my needs. I mostly use them in winter, but sometimes I’ll use one for salad greens in the hottest days of summer; lettuce doesn’t like hot weather so it doesn’t do as well outside, and growing it in the Aerogarden means it’s nice and clean, ready to pick and eat.

    4. Surprised garlic grower*

      Winter here, but I noticed all the garlic I bought was sprouting in the fridge. So, potted those up and stuck them on a windowsill. They are now a foot tall or so. Advice appreciated, I’ve never grown garlic before.

      1. Missb*

        I usually grow garlic outside, in a raised bed. It’s typically planted in the fall (October-ish), but you can find some potted garlic in the spring, where someone has taken a clove and stuck it in a pot of soil. I’ve transplanted some with success, but if you’re interested in ongoing garlic then you’d want to start in the fall.

        But for the stuff you have going – it should be fine. I hit mine with a fertilizer about once a month during the growing season, not sure how you’d shift that over to inside. I use blood meal, but I’m not sure you’d want to use that inside. I generally only grow hardback varieties, so if it develops a bit of a neck with a closed bloom on the end, I’d suggest trimming that off (and using it! Steam or saute like a green bean!)

    5. AY*

      Dead of winter here! I just started reading Lauren Groff’s Matrix, and I loved this line from the first page: “in the fields, the seeds uncurl in the cold dark soil, ready to punch into the freer air.” I love thinking about all my plants putting on their boxing gloves and getting ready to fight their way to the surface.

    6. Cartographical*

      We are in a Canadian 5a (American 4a) zone (not adjusted for climate change). Did you know they were different scales? I did not. For years. Did you know Canadian retailers sometimes use the American scale but don’t indicate that they do so? Again, I did not.

      See, I am trying to get into gardening again. I used to do it from the 70s into the early 90s and I had plenty of success but my recent two years of attempts were ridiculous — just nothing growing for me at all. It’s all been like “you missed the 87 second planting window this year!” and “I looked fine all week but I’m dead now, LOL”. I wasn’t sure whether to blame myself, climate change, angry pixies, or bad vibes from the weird neighbours. I’m dreading another round of “we’re all dead but you don’t know why” this year.

      Any resources on accommodating climate change when it comes to gardening and selecting plants? I think??? general increase in temperature and lack of shade in this yard are key issues but I’m just guessing. Anyone else had a similar experience?

      Also interested in what y’all do you to create some shade — I’m at the point that I’m considering building a pergola of some sort but it’s pricy at a time when I don’t have a lot of money to spare.

      1. Missb*

        I’m using raised beds (Birdies beds) as they have some tall ones that help me to not bend down as much (bad knee…)

        I super mulch them. I have a lot of source material on site on my half acre – lots of trees that drop leaves in the fall, which we rake up and throw into open wire rounds and place over by our three compost bins. Those break down over the year and then I lift the bottom of the rounds and grab the wonderful leaf mulch and throw that on top of my garden beds in the fall. In the spring, I harvest the compost out of the bins to use while planting stuff out. I also have a dozen hens, so I always have some straw to throw on top of the beds in the fall. I grab some chopped straw from the local Wilco in the spring to use when planting stuff out. It all disappears as the season progresses, but I find that it keeps the soil nice and moist.

        It got really hot here for about a week last year – like well over 100 degrees. It was horrible. I had tomatoes that bloomed around that time and just didn’t set the fruit. I had to pick off a bunch of blooms, and the plants eventually did set fruit, but they took a few weeks to recover. In hindsight, I should’ve thrown some burlap over the beds to shield them. I have a big roll of it that I bought a few years back, and while it will let some light through, it really would’ve been a great choice to shade. I just didn’t expect the heat to stay around so long. I also use the burlap when I’m seeding stuff like lettuce, peas and radish so the birds stay out of it. It helps keep the soil evenly moist and I just remove it as things sprout.

        I’m hoping that the winter sowing method will auto-adjust the planting times a bit. We’re seeing little to no frost, so the old method of setting out tomatoes after Memorial Day may be out the window. Letting things sprout as they will when they’re ready may be the key for me at least. We get a bit more rain sometimes in the spring, and if that keeps up, I’ll need to provide a cover for tomatoes. I’ve seen them used in other countries – just simply wood stakes with that wavy plastic roofing overhead. Tomatoes don’t love too much rain.

        What I’ve also found is that when I get a variety that grows well, whether it is a tomato or a squash, I save seed from the best fruit. That way I know the seed will grow fine in my garden – it already has – and saving the best one means I self select for better characteristics.

        1. Cartographical*

          I’ll try the burlap and the extra mulching, thank you. That thing about the tomatoes sounds like that happened to mine. First year I’ve failed to grow even one tomato, the plants never fruited. I used to be up to my hips in them.

    7. BlueWolf*

      Winter here also, but I can’t stop thinking about my garden. A bunch of seeds I ordered are supposed to arrive today. I’m expanding my veggie garden this year from one raised bed to two and planting a greater variety of veggies. I’m also thinking of creating an herb spiral near my patio area. I can see the area from my kitchen window. I figure maybe I’ll be better about using them if they’re in view and easier to access. Plus it will add some visual interest to our backyard.

    8. Missb*

      It is still “winter” here in the PNW, but our local temps are heading above 50 degrees for the next few days.

      I’m doing a *lot* of winter sowing this year. I always buy a few packets of annual flower seeds, but in my frenzy to get my veggie garden going each year, I never quite plant them. Sigh. So I figure if I winter sow pretty much everything, I can maybe end up with a few more flowers than normal. And by a few, I mean a lot, lol. I sowed 70 containers over MLK weekend, plus a few during the week here and there. For winter sowing containers, I’m mostly using clear-ish gallon milk jugs, but I also have four 110-quart long clear totes that I put solo cups in. I’ve filled two so far, and I’m still awaiting some seeds.

      The theory with winter sowing is that the seeds will sprout when they’re ready. They get watered by the snow and the rain, but are in a bit of a bubble of protection.

      Usually I start stuff in my basement, but my rolling racks are currently in my dining room, holding the essential contents of my kitchen while my kitchen is torn apart. There is zero chance of my kitchen being ready before I need the plant racks, so I’ve had to switch over and sow stuff outside. I’ll probably still start a shelf of tomatoes and peppers in the basement as a back up, but I’m all-in on winter sowing.

    9. Lizabeth*

      Cold and icy weather here in VA. Discovered bungee cords to help with tall bushes that got whacked out of shape with the first ice storm. All the other bushes bounced back except for two tall junipers and the rosemary. They did fine with the second ice storm – woot!

      Question is this: should the bungees come off or just wait until early spring?

    10. Third Coast*

      Thanks for the thread! Just starting to make plans for the spring. I wonder if anyone can point me to some websites or even books to get me restarted with the basics? I’m retiring this year in the upper Midwest, zone 6a, and I used to garden 25 years ago but haven’t touched it in a long time. I want to compost and grow vegetables. Thanks!

    11. Batgirl*

      It’s winter here, very mild and I’m starting to wonder what I will do with the overgrown gardens I’ve inherited from the previous owner; when we moved in it was October and there were too many internal things to attend to. Both the front and back have large established shrubs where we would like a driveway/patio. However I have a feeling I’m going to really like the shrubs when they flower! One already is starting to – I think it’s a dark red camellia and next to it is a Mexican orange blossom, judging by the leaves. Two of my favorites, of course. In the back there is a huge tree stump and plenty of trees. I like trees so I’m going to wait until I know them and the light levels better before doing anything. The tree stump apparently belongs to what was a 100 year old tree and is about half a meter wide. I think levelling the ground and getting a new lawn is going to be pretty challenging too.

    12. PT*

      It’s winter here, but our last frost date is at the end of March, so it is getting to be time to set up the indoor seeds. I have a new kit with a grow light (I was going to buy a cheapie but got a fancy setup as a gift) and once Omicron has safely crested I’ll go buy the seeds and start getting them started for spring.

  9. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    A bit early but i have a milestone birthday coming up, any suggestions on a good way to celebrate (in summer) that is covid friendly.
    Travel is okay but in province/state by car.

    1. Ins mom*

      Five years post-chemo, I wanted a party. Turning 60 takes on a whole new meaning! We did a catered picnic in a park, family, neighbors, church friends and childhood friends-probably 80 attended (small family) it was grand!

    2. HannahS*

      Ooh I was going to ask something very similar! I know one person who decided that for his milestone birthday he was going to learn new things. I’d love to do that, myself, but only if COVID permits in-person learning.

      1. HannahS*

        For my own upcoming milestone birthday I’m thinking to try and arrange a private tour of a local museum for a little group of my friends and family, then a meal.

      2. Jay*

        I LOVE this idea. I had a milestone birthday in the summer of 2020 and cancelled the big party we’d planned. Now contemplating its replacement….

    3. Cartographical*

      Seconding the park party suggestion. I don’t know what your resources are like but check the city website, ours allows you to book pavilions at various parks for a nominal fee. That will keep you out of the weather if it rains.

      Having it catered is a great idea but if that’s out of your budget you can self-cater by putting in a bulk order at your favourite deli or restaurant. We went with a local deli and a local bakery for a wedding and all I had to do was put out the food (thank you, dollar store, for the funky plastic bowls and platters).

      If you can have it catered, food trucks or bbq catering (having a pit master show up — sometimes, they’ll even do a lesson on bbq while they work the grill) can be a lot of fun.

      If you don’t want to focus on a meal, you could look into a night-time party with drinks, desserts, and fireworks, should your local weather be reliable enough and your bylaws reasonable enough for such a plan.

    4. Sooda Nym*

      I would think about this from two different angles.
      1. What do you enjoy doing? Do you like to travel? Do you like parties? Do you prefer quiet gatherings? Do you have a hobby that would be fun to indulge, or a major purchase that you want to “gift” yourself for your birthday? and
      2. Do you have people that want to celebrate with you and whom you want to include in your birthday?

      My husband prefers to plan trips over his milestone birthdays so he can “forget” it’s his birthday (he doesn’t like to think about getting older…). My preference is to have something “lasting” to mark the occasion, so we bought a new stove for my last milestone (it was kind of a splurge, and I like to cook). If you have people that would want to celebrate with you, then I would try to honor that, too, with something like an outdoor gathering at a park, but I really would focus on what would make this feel special for *you.*

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        Good questions
        I am not wanting to have a party with family as we are not close, i don’t have many friends either.
        I do like to travel, i enjoy road trips, nice food, relaxation, learning new things.

        1. Jacey*

          What about going on a trip that includes a guided tour of somewhere interesting in your area—possibly with friends?

        2. the cat's ass*

          A road trip sounds like fun! I was going to drive with DH from SF to Vancouver (Canada) but the panini put paid to that. Hope to revive it for maybe my 67th instead. Happy impending b-day!

  10. Bobina*

    After many years, I think its time for a new winter coat. Ideally I would like something that is:
    – made ethically/sustainably
    – warm and fairly waterproof (I live in rainy England and walk a lot. it needs to not get soaked through)
    – about mid-thigh or knee length (although I’m short, so this is less important)
    – has a hood (important! see above re:rain)
    – fits someone with a curvier build well (pear shape)
    – bonus: available in a bright colour

    Where should I be looking? Open to buying online as long as it ships to the UK without exorbitant fees and I can return it if it doesnt fit well. Budget is probably up to £200 but willing to spend more if it can last me like 10+ years.

    1. Helvetica*

      Do you want like a wool coat or are you open to a winter raincoat? To get something waterproof would need more of a specific kind of coat; all other materials would get ruined.
      I have one from Rains, which is a raincoat but it has a hood, it’s lined so it’s warm (at least enough for Belgium, so probably also England), and it looks very nice, so it doesn’t scream “I am wearing a raincoat”. Ilse Jacobsen is also another great brand for these kinds of coats. Generally, Danish brands know how to handle rain.

      1. Bobina*

        More like a winter raincoat probably. I love the idea of a wool coat but I’d always be slightly worried about it getting too wet if I’m out all day (although I know wool can handle some amount of water).

        Thanks for the brand recommendations, I’ll check them out!

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Gortex (or similar waterproof breathables) are fantastic for chilly rain. I’ll wear a lined one down to close to freezing (with a hat and gloves as needed), and with a fleece layer, down to -10 C. I don’t know brands where you are, but I find ones with an inner adjustable elastic at the waist, a hood that can be tucked away, and pockets you can easily fit your hands into are the most comfortable. You can find some that have a zip-in warm layer.

    3. Aneurin*

      Seasalt are a pretty ethical brand and they’re UK-based! They do a few different raincoat styles and have a wider range of sizes than a lot of high street brands. I’ve found their stuff to be well made and comfortable, and they currently have a sale on, but even without that they’re in your budget range.

        1. Rrrrach*

          Yes echoing Seasalt! I highly recommend for the range of colours, lengths, lined and unlined etc of their waterproof coats – and ethical and sustainable practices.

      1. Laura Petrie*

        I love my Seasalt stuff. I’ve got a jacket, longer jacket and a full on winter coat. It’s the nicest coat I’ve ever had, warm, cosy and nice and long even on me (I’m 5’9”).

        I’ve had the jacket over 5 years and it is still in great condition.

    4. Law librarian*

      Check out Seasalt – I don’t have any of their coats myself, but friends swear by them and they hit your criteria. I’m also in the market for this so have been gathering recommendations, I’ve been looking at Finisterre and Rapuni too though I haven’t ordered any to try yet.

    5. Ins mom*

      My Lands End coat is probably 15 years old and might fit your requirements. I wish I could justify another…tired of this Covid distancing stuff.

    6. FrozenPeas*

      Another brand to have on your radar is Finisterre. Ethically made (they’re a B Corp) and amazing quality. They’re a bit pricey but their sales are pretty good, although I think this year’s has finished.

    7. Scotlibrarian*

      I have a Lands End Squall coat, it is completely waterproof, very warm, hooded, I’ve got it in plum, but they do other colours. I’m so happy with it, I bought a 2nd one after I got paint on the first one after about 4 or 5 years. Lands End have a UK website, so no shipping issues. I wear it twice a day dog walking in Scotland. It’s mid calf, but they do other styles. I tried Seasalt, but the sizing was a bit small and the one I bought wasn’t cosy.

  11. Captain Lance*

    Looking to read more fiction and essay collections this year, would love to read your recommendations. I have Fairest by Meredith Talusan lined up plus an edition of Best American Essays lined up once I finish Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      When Joan Didion died I realized that I had not actually read any of her work, so I picked up Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Reading it, I totally understand what the fuss was all about. She was a superb writer.

      1. Captain Lance*

        Thanks for this! I now am reminded of the copy of Miami I have yet to go through, so definitely lining that up for me.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I was introduced to NK Jemisen’s work in the short story collection How Long Til Black Future Month?

      The Thursday Murder Club is set in a retirement village, and the genesis of the story was the author visiting such a place and discovering that everyone was incredibly interesting. Told from multiple points of view as the people no one should have underestimated investigate a series of murders. He’s very good at capturing loneliness and connection–a scene that I have thought over recently is a divorced man in his 50s sitting in a pub, imagining having a wife again. They would sit together in the nook and he would look at his reports and she would be doing something very smart. Something that wasn’t his thing, but they would be in the habit of coming here together and each doing their thing, side by side,.

    3. Eden*

      Ursula Le Guin would be great for short story collections. Most recently I read amd enjoyed The Wind’s 12 Quarters. I also liked Changing Planes which is somewhere between short stories and a collection of fictional ethnographic descriptions iirc.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      For essay collections, I love Ann Patchett, and Wendell Berry.
      Other specific books that tread the line between memoir and essay that I’ve enjoyed:
      Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings.
      Sarah Ruhl’s 100 Essays I Didn’t Have Time to Write.
      Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
      Wintering by Katherine May
      Shrill by Lindy West
      Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
      What God is Honored Here – a collection of essays on miscarriage and still birth by people of colour – really gut wrenching, but what I needed to read at the time.

      1. Delighting in daffodils*

        Yes to Ann Patchett! Re-listening to This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage while on the hold list for her new essay collection.

    5. fposte*

      If you have any interest in France, especially its writers (there are several Flaubert essays), I recommend Julian Barnes’ Something to Declare. I hadn’t realized he had collections of art essays and food essays as well and I’ve just bought those, based on how much I adored Something to Declare.

    6. AY*

      Two very excellent, very different fiction collections I’ve loved recently are The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw and Exhalation by Ted Chiang. The former has a bit of a hokey title, but the pieces are very, very strong and very specific. The latter is a sci fi collection that has some absolute bangers in it.

    7. Starstruck*

      I like The Sun magazine. I have a subscription, but you can view some content online to get a taste of it (plus it looks like they’re offering a free issue as a promotion right now). It’s usually several nonfiction essays, an interview, a short fiction story, maybe a reprint of a classic essay, and some poems and quotations. Actually the “reader’s write” section is often my fav, where various readers write in on a common topic.

      I think it’s a nice supplement to books, plus it shows up every month without having to browse for something & sometimes introduces me to topics I wouldn’t normally think to choose.

    8. Cookie*

      I’m reading The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories, and really enjoying it. I love happening upon a new short story collection in my local library.

  12. Just a person*

    Qatar airways hand baggage

    We are flying from Australia to USA with Qatar airways tomorrow. I’m so confused about the personal item. Has anyone flown with them recently and can give me an idea of what they accept as a personal item. If my husband breifcase/ laptop bag doesn’t have his laptop in it will it count as a personal item? My understanding is that the difference between it counting as your personal item or needing to be your hand luggage is if it has a laptop in it. I’m getting a headache from their website so any experience would be appreciated.

    Also tips for flying with an 18 month old. We’ve got two long haul flights in a row. I think we are prepared. We’ve got extra snacks, headphones, her swaddle bag, and some toys, as well as planning on screentime which is new to her.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      In my experience, personal item means something the size of a briefcase or purse. So you can bring on a carry-on item (inside the dimensions they give), plus a purse or briefcase, plus a jacket. It definitely sounds from their wording, though, that a laptop bag with laptop does *not* count as a personal item. If I were packing, I’d have my laptop in a sleeve inside my hand baggage allowance, so I could remove it easily to use on the flight (which is basically what I do anyways – I carry a backpack which fits my laptop and camera, plus a jacket, snacks, my eBook reader and cell phone, and other stuff I’m going to use on the flight.

      In general, international flights are much saner than domestic ones when it comes to what people try to stuff in the overhead compartments, given that you get checked baggage with your ticket.

      1. Just a person*

        I agree about the size of the personal bag. I think the mention of a labtop not being a personal item really threw me. I’m used to that counting. I agree with most of what you’ve said. I think the wording just struck me funny. This is my first international flight with a toddler. And I’m panicking. Note to self, changing anxiety medication right before an international flight is probably not the best idea.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      The luggage rules seem to have changed a fair bit since COVID, so I would ask at the check in counter before you drop off your checked-in luggage, and leave a little room in your suitcases to offload stuff if you need to. IME they’ve always been pretty relaxed about carry on for international as long as your items aren’t obviously overstuffed or heavy looking. But also, presumably by your description, you’re going through at least LAX and another major airport, with an 18 month old…? Please save your back and shoulders and reduce as many on-body carry items as you can. Those places are huge and I can’t remember being able to get a trolley till the baggage carousel. After 15 hours+ crammed like a sardine your body will already be achy AF.

      On flying with kids, I don’t know if you had packed phenergan in case? If so, the recommendation is to test it out on them in advance. Apparently in some children it has the opposite effect… I’ve heard nightmare stories about parents figuring that out mid flight!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Toddler: Sippy cup ready to go so she’s swallowing during takeoff and landing. It really helps equalize the pressure.

      In the line of new media, my mom used to pack us little bags of presents that we could open at various points on the long trip. Your child’s probably a bit young for that, but a couple of new small toys to explore, that you could deploy strategically at the start of “now everyone sit still and wait” periods, would probably be good. (Depending also on how reliable new media is in that role.) One of my kids was easy to fly with at this age and one challenging.

      I am leery of diving into just what the baggage restrictions might mean and hope someone with Qatar-specific experience weighs in, but assuming economy would suggest trying to get things into one bag per seat, which fits under the seat. For example, I fly with a backpack that can hold my laptop and a book and my purse, so the purse isn’t a second “personal item.”

    4. LCS*

      Re: headphones – are they “kid safe” or regular? Kid safe versions have a built in volume limiter that maxes out much lower than adult volumes. This is great under normal circumstances but we learned the hard way on a long flight with kids that even at max volume, it was too low to actually hear over the general ambient roar of the engines. We travel with adult gear now, even for the kids.

      For screen time, bring a ziploc bag. Phone or tablet goes in the bag and you tuck the top of the bag behind the tray table and clip it closed so the screen hangs vertically from the seat in front of you to watch. This way the kid isn’t handling the phone, pushing buttons by accident, dropping it etc. And it gives you more space to be able to keep the tray table up, not to mention the person in front will thank you since it means the kid isn’t kicking or leaning on the table which moves their chair.

      I always travel wearing a long medium weight scarf when travelling with young kids. It is great to put down as a mat on grubby airport floors, to build a Fort between chairs while waiting, or for the kids to use as a blanket / pillow on the flight.

    5. yesterday's toast*

      I flew with my kid at that age, I just don’t remember much. If screentime is new, don’t necessarily expect it to be absorbing – that’s a very kid-dependent thing. My kid didn’t enjoy watching media on planes till she was 7 or 8. Bring a lot of consumable toys (stickers, crafts, etc) that you can just throw away when you’re done. And bring changes of clothes for parents/kid.

    6. B*

      Lowest of low tech toddler amusements; ask the flight attendant for a cup of ice cubes , another empty cup and a handful of napkins. Most toddlers love to mess around with water and cups and water is non staining and easy to clean up. Also after you use all the napkins to sop up the water, it becomes a play dough like glob- another plaything!

    7. Hazelnut Bunny*

      As I have arrived home today from traveling with my toddler, there’s a few things I noted during our flights. First and foremost, gate check a stroller. I checked the stroller with our checked baggage and I regret it. My arms and back were sore as we had a long trek through the airport and a layover. Next, pack an extra change or two of clothes and a plastic bag. I was tickling and playing with my toddler when they were laughing so hard they started coughing and threw up on themselves. Luckily I packed extra clothes and a bag so I changed them right there. Obviously, bring a wide variety of their favorite activities and other things travel friendly. And don’t forget that you are a child’s favorite toy. I did a lot more playing and singing songs throughout the flights. Best of luck!

  13. Lena Clare*

    Does anyone know where I can buy a large all-black velvet triangle shawl (not a scarf! And not rectangular/square) with black fringing? I’m beginning to think I may have to make one – I am not good at crafts!
    It’s a seemingly impossible task.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I found one on Etsy, seller DesertGlassVintage, item title “80s vintage black velvet fringe shawl wrap knotted tassel / Gothic goth Hollywood vamp rocker rockabilly glam boho bohemian romantic drape” – it looks like a plain big black velvet triangle with fringe?

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Doh. I put an Etsy seller in my previous comment rather than a link, but it went to moderation anyway. But I found one when it gets released :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You could also check at a local sewing store such as JoAnn’s and see if they know of someone who would sew it for you. You’d pay for the labor as well as the materials, of course.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Poshmark isn’t very active for me in the UK unfortunately and the only one on ebay I could find was in really bad condition! I don’t mind getting one from abroad if its good, but I have to pay taxes etc. so it might end up cheaper for me to have one made.

        1. LemonLyman*

          Oh yeah! Sorry. Forgot Poshmark is only US and Canada (and I don’t think we can buy from each other bc of separate mail services).

    4. StellaBella*

      on Amazon USA I see something like this called a RIIQIICHY Women Scarf Pashmina Shawl Wrap Stole for Evening Dress Bridesmaid Wedding Bridal Winter Warm Thick andI also see one called Lucky Mjmy Velvet Renaissance Medieval Cloak Cape Lined with Satin. I also see several large velvet stoles, shawls, and boleros on Etsy that could be triangular but most do look rectangular. If you get a large one you can fold odd corner to corner to make a triangle, would that work? Check winter bridal shops too, maybe. Historical Emporium and Baggout may also have options, look for an Indian dress shop too. GOod luck!

      1. Lena Clare*

        If it was very big and the velvet wasn’t cut out, then I’d fold it. Problem is, I’ve searched and I just can’t find anything big or small! I didn’t think of Etsy though, so that’s a new one for me to try. Thanks for the recommendation – it’s not coming up for me, I wonder if it’s because I’m in the UK site?

        1. Lena Clare*

          Oh sorry I meant to say that I can see the cloak one which is gorgeous but sadly not what I’m after!

    5. Not A Manager*

      historical emporium dot com has a burnout black velvet shawl with fringes. Etsy seems to have a few. Try googling “velvet triangle shawl fichu”.

  14. Not So NewReader*

    Chargeable vacuum cleaners.

    I am trying to help my friend with her Dyson. It clogs up almost with every use. It’s a few years old and still charges well. But the clog shuts the machine down. It’s not a charging problem it’s a clogging problem. It ends up that you have to take the foot apart and clean out the foot at least once PER ROOM. My friend is not messy so this is not because she has Christmas tree pine needles all over the place or whatever. She has one elderly cat with short hair, so it’s not cat hair. When I clean out the foot- it’s just normal dust or minor amounts of dirt that has been tracked in the house. The stuff collects in the foot and chute and jams it right up.

    Has anyone encountered this?

    My one thought I had is that perhaps people do not use their cordless Dyson as their main vac. Perhaps they just use it for touch-ups.

    My next thought is that maybe she needs a different brand so that she doesn’t get that clogging problem. She vacuums weekly so this is not a case of having a really messy floor.

    Has anyone had this experience and found a solution?

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Yes. I have a cordless that I just use for touch ups because our main vac is so cumbersome. It’s not a Dyson, but I’ve had a similar clogging issue. I find if I keep it running and at a steady angle it goes ok, but, if for example I pop the handheld bit out and try to do the couch or car, stopping in between, it shows a flat battery within a few minutes and won’t start up again (and it’s not the battery). I suspect the fabric filter bit is clogged with fine dust and something about the varied angle sets off its sensor? But I haven’t gotten around to attempting to clean or replace it yet.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      I have not had this issue but I wanted to say that I use my Dyson stick as my only vacuum and it’s the best vacuum I’ve ever used. I have had great success with their online troubleshooting (my issue was in fact pine needles!). I’d try the following things in order: (1) Take apart the foot and do a thorough cleaning. My bet is that there’s some part that you or she isn’t actually getting to in the cleaning so it’s always very close to clogging. Find a manual and make sure you’re getting to every little part. (2) Go through the online troubleshooting guide.
      (3) Take it to a Dyson service center, they have them scattered around the US, unclear if other countries have them. (4) Buy a replacement foot from their website.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        This would be my guess – there’s a clot further up that you’re not reaching when you clean so it’s not getting totally emptied. My dad used a plumber’s tool to get inside the hose of my vacuum when it had a similar issue. A long flexible rod with a velcrolike end.

        1. Clisby*

          Like a plumber’s snake? I would never have thought of that to clean a vacuum cleaner hose, but I can how it might work.

    3. the cat's ass*

      I use my Dyson cordless a couple of times a week and clean the foot every other time or so because of the same issue. It’s generally ok as long as i remember to clean everything thoroughly on a routine basis. We have a lot of cat hair (3 cats), and a rug/tile/hardwood floors combo so lots of dust, too.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks everyone.

      I think I am going to “snake” the stick for her and suggest that she clean the foot more often perhaps every other time she empties the cup. The vac is ideal for her setting, so I am really hoping we can make this work out okay for her.

      Thanks to every who responded. I will check for more responses later.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        You might also check up the body of the vacuum itself—that’s where my pine needles were clogging my machine. Like directly north of the stick, if that makes sense

          1. Janet Pinkerton*

            Like when you take off the stick extension, the thing that the stick goes into. Between like the stick and the filter. Idk what model your friend has but the troubleshooting guide is really good about showing you cartoons for each style of vacuum and how to check it.

    5. Windchime*

      I don’t have the clogging issue and I have a cat that sheds wads of hair that look like cotton balls. But I rarely use my Dyson rechargeable because the battery only lasts like 2 minutes. It’s not worth it to drag it out. I have a bigger Dyson that plugs in and I mostly just use that. I would love to have a stick vacuum as my only one but won’t do that until they come out with longer lasting batteries.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, it’s not for me but she is happy with it- the charge seems to last about 20 minutes and it fits her setting very well. It would not work for my setting.

    6. Kay*

      Have her take it to Dyson repair!! I don’t know where she is, but in my area I just call them up, request an appointment (during early covid, not sure the procedure now) and drop it off to a location a few miles away. They check it out for free and do whatever fixing is necessary. I haven’t had this issue with either of my Dysons – cordless or standup which both get lots of use – but have brought mine in for other issues and it has always been remedied quickly and without cost.

      Even if she doesn’t/can’t bring it in, I would suggest she search online for the nearest location and at least make a phone call to them. In my experience their service has been awesome.

    7. WS*

      My Dyson did the same, and I tried to unclog it and had no luck, so called Dyson and sent it away to their repair place (there was no local one) and it turned out there was a pen stuck in the hose much higher up than I could get to and it had damaged the hose. The whole repair cost $80 and they paid the postage. So if you have no luck yourself, definitely try Dyson.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Thanks WS and Kay, I will check into calling Dyson if these other suggestions don’t pan out.

      2. londonedit*

        I was going to suggest contacting Dyson – their customer service has always been good. I have a V7 Motorhead (yes I do sing Ace of Spades on a regular basis while I’m hoovering) which works perfectly as an everyday hoover in my studio flat. A charge lasts a good long time – I’ve never had it run out while I’m cleaning the flat. But it’s not a huge space and I wanted something small that would be easy to store away in a corner – my parents also have a cordless Dyson but with a much bigger house they use it just for occasional spills and in-between cleans.

  15. Book recs - set in France*

    Good morning! I’m looking for some lovely and easy reads that are set in France. Love a good love story (women’s lit or “chick lit”), something easy to read and will hook you from the first page.

    Love 18th/19th century set books, and books set in today’s time.

    Examples: Paris is always a good idea, postmistress of Paris (historical fiction)

    1. Berlin Berlin*

      Have you read Joanne Harris’s work? While Chocolat is her most famous book, lots of her other work is also set in France (mostly present-day) and is a very enjoyable light read which I think matches what you’re looking for. I liked Blackberry Wine and Five Quarters of the Orange, as well as the sequels to Chocolat.

      1. French Books*

        I haven’t! These books sound divine, checking their availability at the library now! Thank you:)

    2. AY*

      Are you ok with nonfiction? Then you must read Julia Child’s memoir My Life in France. It is delicious.

      1. GuineverePettigrew*

        The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes switches between Vichy France and a modern day city (can’t remember where, might not be specified in the book).

      2. French books*

        I typically shy away from nonfiction, I find it hard to get into! But I’ll definitely check this one out :)

        1. AY*

          And I didn’t mention that My Life in France is actually a really beautiful love story as well! I believe Julia wrote it after her husband had passed, and she writes really movingly about their relationship. Check out the movie Julie & Julia as well!

    3. GuineverePettigrew*

      The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes switches between Vichy France and the modern day (I can’t actually remember which city – it might not be specified). Two women, one whose husband has been taken by the Nazis, one whose husband died young – connected by a painting.

    4. So Much To Think About*

      Code Name Helene! A based-on-a-true-story fiction account of a real woman in the French Resistance! It’s amazing.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Some that I’ve enjoyed:

      THE MONEYLENDER OF TOULOUSE by Alan Gordon, one of his “Fools Guild” historical novels – this one’s set in 13th-century Toulouse and features the usual mix of historical detail, political plotting, and delightfully snarky banter between the main characters.

      SPECTACLE by Jodie Lynn Zdrok is a YA novel set in 19th-century Paris, and features a young heroine who discovers she has a gift/curse: if she gets near the body of a murder victim she can “see” the crime from the viewpoint of the killer. While that sounds rather grim, there are some lovely friendships and potential romances as well as the suspenseful hunt for the criminal.

      Non-fiction: A LIFE OF HER OWN by Emilie Carles, a fascinating memoir of a woman born in 1900 to a peasant family in the mountainous region of eastern France, not far from the Italian border. Her story covers the vast shift in technology and culture – not to mention the wars – from her girlhood through the 1970’s.

      And THE SILENT TRAVELLER IN PARIS by Chiang Yee is a delightful look at life in and around Paris in the 1950s, from the viewpoint of traveling poet and artist Chiang Yee.

    6. Florida Woman*

      I recommend The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley. It’s historical fiction, set in the court of Louis XIV and based on a real life scandal involving poisonings at court. But it’s a fun read told from the point of view of a clever “witch” who makes her way in the world fleecing aristocrats by selling love potions and such.

    7. Max Kitty*

      Nicholas Barreau, Love Letters from Montmartre
      JoJo Moyes, Paris for One & Other Stories
      Juliet Blackwell, Letters from Paris
      Juliet Blackwell, The Paris Key
      Paul Gallico, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris

      1. Weegie*

        Love Paul Gallico! I feel like nobody knows his books now. And the Mrs Harris series is wonderful.

    8. RosyGlasses*

      Oh I feel like my bookshelf was curated just for you! I love almost any book set in France. Here is what I have on my bookshelf:

      The Little Paris Bookshop
      Paris By the Book
      A Paris Apartment
      The Paris Wife (about Ernest Hemingway’s wife)
      French Exit
      The Summer Before the War
      Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore (one of my favorites)

      More non fiction/related to French Living/Style
      Lessons from Madame Chic
      Older But Better But Older
      French Women –> Don’t Get Facelifts / Don’t Get Fat/For All Seasons (by Mierille Guiliano)

    9. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I really enjoy the Dordogne mysteries by Martin Walker. The first is Bruno, Chief of Police

    10. CatPerson*

      OMG Martin Walker’s “Bruno, Chief of Police” series is wonderful! Lucky you for being able to start from the beginning and read it all for the first time!!

    11. Jamie Starr*

      A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle is an oldie, but a goodie. I read it decades ago before I spent a semester studying in the south of France.

      Is Paris Burning? (not to be confused with the documentary Paris is Burning, which is completely different; ha!) is nonfiction about the liberation of Paris during WWII.

    12. Weegie*

      The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (in English translation). It’s about a bookseller who finds a red notebook in a Paris street, decides from the notes in it he would like to know the owner, and sets out to find her without a name or address to go on. It’s absolutely charming.

    13. Skeeder Jones*

      So it’s a little different and it’s fantasy genre so it’s a fantasy 16th century France that is and isn’t France, definitely love stories, lots of intrigue and suspense: Kushiel’s Dart (and also a lot of ess-eeee-exxx).

      It’s the 1st book in a trilogy and I have reread it so many times that literally read the book to death (it fell apart and I had to replace it). The characters became like friends that I wanted to revisit and I saw different nuances in the story every time I read it.

    14. Chris in Scotland*

      Another nonfiction suggestion is Marcel Pagnol’s account of his childhood in Provence: ‘My Father’s Glory’ and ‘My Mother’s Castle ‘. There are delightful films of these too, with English subtitles, ‘La Gloire de mon Pere ‘ and ‘Le Chateau de ma Mere ‘.

    15. Cricket*

      Left Bank by Kate Muir is one of my all-time favorite novels. It’s sexy and fun without being shallow. And it’s very French.

    16. recommendation*

      If you like whimsical stories, “The Matchmaker of Perigord” by Julia Stuart might be up your alley. It’s set in a small French village, roughly present day but with an “out of time” feeling to it.

  16. Baby Maybe*

    Looking for book recommendations featuring boys/male characters/coming of age story lines.

    Hello, I have a ridiculous problem. I am six months pregnant with a boy* and I don’t know about boys.

    Long story short: I am cis-het female with abusive or absent male relatives. My husband is great but he has his own journey to go on.

    I have a therapist and am confident I can Google most things. What I’d love is novels centering boy/boyhood to help me… know and understand boys. A good novel centering women can really make me feel seen and understood and I’d like to see if I can replicate that.

    I made a conscious decision several years ago to stop reading books about men by male authors and… I think I succeeded too well! The last « boy » books I read are Underground Airlines, The Plot Against America and A God In Ruins.

    Any suggestions for books centering boys? I read most genres.

    * Sorry to equate sex and gender! Obviously we will celebrate whoever baby ends up being but there’s a ~90% chance they’ll be cis, so I’m starting there.

    1. OtterB*

      Here’s a few, mostly older since my kids are in their 20s now and I’m not keeping up. They are mostly preteen or teen boys, not younger. You might try your local children’s librarian, too.

      Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
      Frindle, Andrew Clements (plus some of his other school stories. Clements does a good job of describing reasonably supportive parents but still leaving his young protagonists lots of room for agency)
      A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula LeGuin
      The Riddlemaster of Hed and sequels, Patricia McKillip
      Lloyd Alexander books – Time Cat, The Book of Three and other Chronicles of Prydain

      (newer) Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, Kwame Mbalia

      You might try some memoirs / biographies also
      For better or worse, a lot of boy-centered books are sports books

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I read and loved Hatchet, Frindle, and Time Cat as a kid, so here to second all those suggestions!

    2. AY*

      Some that immediately came to mind are The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (boys in reform school in Florida), The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (boys on a cross country road trip), Born a Crime (this is a memoir by Trevor Noah, but it’s very good), The Witch Elm by Tana French (young man deals with the aftermath of a long-ago murder). You probably can’t go wrong with James Baldwin. And if you’re interested in fantasy/sci-fi, the possibilities are pretty endless. The books I’ve listed are all lit-fic, but I suppose you could call the Tana French a mystery/thriller.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Hatchet and most everything else by Gary Paulsen. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Call it Courage by Armstrong Perry. In the Reign of Terror or Beric the Briton by G.A. Henty*.

      These are all Adventure Stories, because that’s what I loved growing up.

      *Caveat, these are Very Victorian, so the history and social mores can be out of date. Sounds like that might bother you? They are great stories though, and very much favorites of mine. Nuanced heroes are good sometimes, but Heroic heroes are great too, and Henty is great at Heroic heroes doing awesome things.

      1. Baby Maybe*

        Ahh I grew up reading almost exclusively Edwardian literature and later boys-on-adventures books from the 70s! Probably this influenced my wild swing away from boy-books, but that sounds wonderfully nostalgic to me! I’m in.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Thought of another, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, by Farley Mowat. It’s hysterical account of a most entertaining dog, but it’s also the story of the narrator’s boyhood.

          1. Sandi*

            Farley Mowat is one of the best known Canadian authors, and The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be is such a great book. He is writing about his childhood and the foolish things the kids did on the prairies in the 1920s and 30s. A cultural institution, for good reason. Plus the relationship between his father and the dog is so funny, it makes you laugh just thinking about the blueing bath, and the stuck-up guy with too much money who asks the dog to ‘hunt’ out of season… so many laughs!

    4. 2QS*

      Non-fiction, but journalist Rachel Giese had a similar issue (two cis women faced with raising an AMAB kid together) and wrote a book that is a loose sociological study of the expectations and norms of masculinity in English-speaking Western societies.

    5. Sooda Nym*

      The Great Brain series by JD Fitzgerald. Not contemporary, but lots of boy sibling antics. I think I read them in middle school, so they should be fun, fast reads.

    6. sagewhiz*

      Strongly caution against The Nickel Boys! Whitehead picked the story up from on-going reporting of the true story and it is gruesome: truly evil adults molesting and murdering boys sent the the *school* for infractions as small as not going to school. Reading the multi-part newspaper series was the stuff of nightmares. Those boys who lived are now elderly men, and have never recovered from the horrific abuse.

      If you’re looking for uplifting stories where good men play a major role in raising boys to be good men:
      The Tender Bar: A Memoir (book not the movie, but the movie’s darned good)—J.R. Moehringer
      The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family—Ron Howard and Clint Howard
      I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda—a girl plays a big role, but being pen pals changes both of their lives
      Dreams from My Father—Barack Obama
      Secondhand Lions—John Whitman (the movie’s great! haven’t read the book)
      Finding Fish—Antwone Quenton Fisher
      The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother—James McBride

      Just the fact that you’re immersing yourself now means you are going to make a great mama!

    7. NancyDrew*

      The YA author Barry Lyga does a really great job getting inside the head of boys. Some of his stuff is mature/grim (he has a thriller-trilogy called I Hunt Killers) but books like The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl, Boy Toy, and Time Will Tell have good male leads!

    8. Janet Pinkerton*

      This is kind of a left-field suggestion but it was the movie Boss Baby that really made me comfortable with the idea of having a boy. The older son is so imaginative and caring, in a way I hadn’t necessarily imagined little boys to be (since I always imagined a little girl).

      I also got a lot out of the nonfiction/quasi-memoir “How to Raise a Feminist Son”.

      1. Patty Mayonaise*

        Oh if movies work as suggestions, I STRONGLY suggest Luca – wonderful movie about male friendship!

    9. Olivia Oil*

      I really liked Louis Sachar’s stuff growing up, especially Holes. But I’m a girl and not a Mom so my perspective is limited there.

      1. Olivia Oil*

        I also really liked The Kite Runner. Both the author and protagonist are male, and one of the themes of the story are the relationship between father and son.

    10. Jacey*

      Librarian here! I find that for very young kids there’s not much of a gender divide in literature taste, but here are a few suggestions for when your kiddo is older:

      The Fudge books by Judy Blume — narrated from the POV of preteen white boy, totally charming and deals with the weird change in social dynamics that come with middle school

      Basically any book by Jason Reynolds — fantastic mostly-YA author who really gets inside the head of male kids and teens, especially Black boys (Reynolds is Black himself)

      The Misfits by James Howe — my all-time favorite book about how being in middle school feels, white male POV

      Nate the Great series by Sam Spade — fun, engrossing mysteries solved by a kid sleuth, white male POV

      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (and many others by him) — wonderful, emotional, honest coming of age story about a Native American boy dealing with a home life on a reservation and school in a nearby white suburb

      Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan — semi-fantasy coming of age story about a Latino preteen boy exploring his heritage and his hopes for the future

      Most everything by Gene Luen Yang — mostly comics/graphic novels, but some really fun male Chinese and Chinese-American protagonists in a range of ages from 8ish to early 20s; Prime Baby is an especially silly favorite of mine

      Definitely talk to your local children’s librarian for more!

      1. Jacey*

        Oh! Can’t believe I forgot to give a shout out to Walter Dean Myers — absolutely fantastic kid lit and YA author, Black male POV for a range of ages

      2. WellRed*

        I was thinking fudge and, for a POV of another older boy, Blumes “then again, maybe I won’t.”

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      Congrats!
      We have one son (and I am one in a very female intensive family) and were always into Calvin and Hobbes pre-baby. Yes, the cartoons. Prepared us better for a youngster who lives in his imagination better than anything I can think of. Plus they are laugh out loud funny.
      Every kid is different though. They are who they are when they come out, so if you just go with it you’ll be fine!

    12. OTGW*

      In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. Fantasy-esqe YA, male lead
      The Percy Jackson series might also work – Fantasy, coming of age

    13. RosyGlasses*

      Not ridiculous at all! I am mom to a boy/man (just turned 20) and I think this is a great idea. One thing that helped me quite a bit was just the mental framing of “this is how I think/react, I need to remember that he will not think/react the same way and some of that is physiological/biological, and some of that is just the fact that he is his own unique human”.

      YA Books, but I always loved the “My Side of the Mountain” book series, and many of Carl Haasen’s books (e.g. Holes) have myriad types of protagonists that are male-presenting/thinking. A Series of Unfortunate Events books are great as well.

    14. small town*

      I have 2 sons, now young adults. They both loved the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. Magic, good and kind male leads, strong female characters.

    15. Gnome*

      For younger boys, try Katherine Applegate’s Roscoe Riley’s Rules books. These were good books for my son to read when bridging from readers to chapter books… And can illustrate some of the well-intentioned mischief some boys will run into.

      But also, remember that boy or girl (or whatever) each child is unique and not strictly defined by gender identity. My son is nothing like typical boys, and I was never like a typical girl… So take all the prep work with a grain of salt

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I was a tomboy growing up, in the sense that most of my friends were boys until I hit puberty, and I couldn’t understand typical “girly” girls at all, yet I always identified very strongly as a girl at the same time (not that people were generally aware of the alternatives in the late 70s and early 80s, even among academics like my parents). Our son is very much a boy, but he’s also fairly quiet, imaginative, studious, diligent, and not at all interested in cars or team sports, or many other typically boyish interests.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        This!!! I have 2 nephews who are 2 years apart and they have very different personalities/interests. A lot of parenting advice that focuses on boy/girl needs is more based on gender roles/socialization than actual gender differences. In terms of actual parenting, the vast majority of differences should be based on the needs of individual children, not their gender.

    16. Angstrom*

      When I was in high school, Ursula K. LeGuin’s “Very Far Away from Anywhere Else” was my “Somebody out there understands me!” book.

    17. Disco Janet*

      I’m a high school English teacher, so my recommendations are more geared towards teen boys, but here are some popular YA choices that have helped boys in my classroom in terms of coming of age type stories:

      – The Perks of Being a Wallflower (this one is my personal favorite, though it became harder to read after having my sons as it’s very realistic on the issues that can affect them)

      – Dear, Martin (especially if you or your spouse are POC)

      – All the Bright Places flips between a male and female perspective, though it’s heart wrenching and I hesitate to recommend it to a pregnant woman!

      – Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda (the most uplifting on this list)

      – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

      – Looking for Alaska (or any John Green book with a male protagonist, really…his male leads are quite similar to one another.)

    18. Bibliovore*

      Late to the game but don’t miss Knuckleheads – It is a memoir by Jon Scieszka about growing up with brothers. Review link in next comment.

    19. Clisby*

      Might seem like an odd suggestion, but I loved The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
      Obviously inspired by The Jungle Book, it’s about a toddler who wanders into a graveyard and is brought up by ghosts.

  17. Harness for Dog?*

    Does anyone have experience with a harness instead of a collar for a large, powerful dog? My boy – recently adopted as an adult – is usually so sweet, but when he gets excited about meeting another dog on a walk he can literally pull me off my feet and drag me over there. Every time he succeeds at this, of course, the behavior is reinforced because he got what he wanted (he’s not aggressive with the other dog, just wants to play, but it’s often alarming for everyone else involved, and I’ve been literally injured this way, although not seriously – yet). Last time this happened, the other dog owner suggested I try a harness for him instead of a collar, so I’ve been looking online. But is this a good suggestion? Has it, or anything else, worked for others in a similar situation? We are working on all the usual leash etiquette throughout the walk and I thought it was helping, but we had another dragging incident yesterday and I’m so discouraged.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      1) If you can afford to experiment, I’d try the harness. Maybe it will work, or just change the angles such that it’s easier for you to counter.
      2) It’s easier on the dog to pull in a harness, so I’m dubious. (I think it helps if the pressure on the neck is spiraling them up into more pulling.) Things you might try: High-value treats (like cut up hot dogs) that you use to drag his attention back to you. Training–for example, if you can get in front of him when he wants to drag, does that divert his attention back to you?

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        Sadly, what I find is that there’s a tipping point of excitement where nothing seems to drag his attention back. So far we have been trying to avoid these situations by reversing away, crossing the street etc, on the advice of my friend the dog trainer (who I have also asked about the harness) – but sometimes we just get caught out, with a dog coming unexpectedly around a corner on a narrow path, as we did yesterday. I find it a bit frustrating trying to avoid the circumstance forever, rather than being proactive about it – although I understand that the idea is he will unlearn the habit. I have stopped taking him to some of my favorite walks in the woods because it’s harder to see dogs coming, and it makes me sad. We avoided any on-leash intros for about a month until yesterday, but he was just as bad as ever. Obviously I feel very fortunate that he’s not aggressive, or the situation would be untenable.

        1. ShinyPenny*

          Here to suggest my favorite book about how to work with a dog like this: “Feisty Fido—Help for the Leash Aggressive Dog” by Patricia McConnell and Karen London. It’s a clear, brief book that will give you so much help with this issue! I got my latest give-away copy on Thriftbooks, but, I would say speed is essential in your situation and I wish I could Amazon you a copy today!
          One of the biggest things is, dogs act like this for different reasons– so the training approach needs to be customized. (The book will help clarify *your* dog’s motivations.)
          This explains why some people, for instance, have great luck with a prong/pinch collar, and for other people it makes the dog *much* worse (there’s a reason it’s used as a tool to INCREASE dog aggression in police dog training). Unless you have excellent luck and just the right dog, a prong collar is the option that can cause the most harm for a new dog/owner pair, of all the possible tools posters have mentioned. So I wanted to say this specifically, because people were suggesting it below. (I am not anti! I used them for many years in the olden days, until I got a dog for whom it was a tragic error. It’s not a great starter tool, for sure.)
          It sounds like you have a lot of the needed skills (being able to identifying that “tipping point” you mentioned, for instance, is a *huge* thing that some people need a lot of help to SEE), so I think you would be able to put the info in Feisty Fido to work for you.
          Good luck!

        2. ShinyPenny*

          Here to suggest my favorite book about how to work with a dog like this: “Feisty Fido—Help for the Leash Aggressive Dog” by Patricia McConnell and Karen London. It’s a clear, brief book that will give you so much help with this issue! I got my latest give-away copy on Thriftbooks, but, I would say speed is essential in your situation and I wish I could Amazon you a copy today!
          One of the biggest things is, dogs act like this for different reasons– so the training approach needs to be customized. (The book will help clarify *your* dog’s motivations.)
          This explains why some people, for instance, have great luck with a prong/pinch collar, and for other people it makes the dog *much* worse (there’s a reason it’s used as a tool to INCREASE dog aggression in police dog training). Unless you have excellent luck and just the right dog, a prong collar is the option that can cause the most harm for a new dog/owner pair, of all the possible tools posters have mentioned. So I wanted to say this specifically, because people were suggesting it below. (I am not anti! I used them for many years in the olden days, until I got a dog for whom it was a tragic error. It’s not a great starter tool, for sure.)
          It sounds like you have a lot of the needed skills (being able to identifying that “tipping point” you mentioned, for instance, is a *huge* thing that some people need a lot of help to SEE), so I think you would be able to put the info in Feisty Fido to work for you.
          Good luck to you both!

    2. CatCat*

      Yes, I found the Halti harness great for my mom’s dog. He was a strong dog and a puller. He didn’t like the Halti at first, but got used to it. It definitely stopped the pulling. It was a head harness, not a body harness.

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        That’s good to hear! Thank you. He’s such a good boy about not pulling on the walk generally – with training I mean he does walk with a slack leash for most of the trip now. It’s the specific circumstance where he has seen another dog and wants to go over there that he pulls overwhelmingly. If I had more leverage perhaps I could stop him more effectively.

    3. BRR*

      I use a harness and it’s been helpful. It’s called the easy walk harness. Just make sure to get a harness that’s made to prevent pulling as many harnesses make it easier to pull (hence why sled dogs use them).

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        The harnesses with the clip in the front (on the chest) helps with pulling – especially sudden pulling as it will turn them around. The dogs do figure out how to pull in them but it is easier to control them than it is with the regular harness or a collar. Regular harnesses with the clip on the dogs back do not help with pulling at all.

        The Halti (face harness) doesn’t allow pulling at all. But they may be able to get out by backing out of it. Another thing is that a lot people seem to think they are muzzles and treat your dog as dangerous (don’t know why, they don’t prevent the dog from opening their mouth.)

        1. ShysterB*

          I agree with ImOnlyHereForThePoetry. Our dog acted as if the harness with the click at the back was so she could practice her sled-dogging — if anything, it made the pulling at the leash even worse than the collar. (She’s a master at getting her collar off, which is why we moved to the harness in the first place.) The front-hook harness, with the D-ring at the front, made the pulling much more manageable. She can still do it when really excited (is that a CAT ahead? Wait, is that Neighbor Mike? The UPS guy with a biscuit????!!), but the momentum of her own body will make her turn around if she does a sudden lunge. And steady pulling as she walks might be annoying, but is manageable.

          1. Harness for Dog?*

            That is exactly what I need – something (besides my body mass) to intersect the Sudden Lunge, because he can suddenly accelerate with a lot of force. He’s actually not a bad puller most of the walk. If I’m fully prepared for the lunge I can head it off about 50% of the time by planting my feet, sitting down, or swinging him around – but if he gets a head of steam, forget it, and he occasionally catches me off guard such as on ice, on a slope, uneven ground etc – and then it’s off to the races. And of course, every time it happens, it makes him want to do it more. It really p*sses me off that he does it even when I’m actually walking him over to meet a friendly dog he knows. He does get plenty of off-leash time in the yard, and doggy-time at the daycare and the dogpark, so the pent up enthusiasm is just too much during walks.

        2. LemonLyman*

          I used to have something similar (the Gentle Leader) and people always thought it was a muzzle even though my little beagle would be panting with his cutie little tongue hanging out. People see what they want to see.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m a fan of the Julius K-9 harnesses for my dogs. Both are powerful dogs though maybe not as large as yours but I like these ones because they’re comfortable, easy to use, and last for a really long time.

    5. Husky*

      Yes, I have a big husky who pulled a ton when we first adopted him! I recommend trying a “no pull” harness where the leash clips onto the front, at the dog’s chest. When the dog starts to pull, the leash gets in their way and slows them down. We use one called “Chai’s Choice – Premium Outdoor Adventure Dog Harness” — it’s been great! Good luck!

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        I didn’t realize the breed was going to be so pull-y – he’s a big mutt but they said he had some newfy in him, which is supposed to be pretty calm I thought. I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway since he’s a mixed breed. Maybe somewhere in his family there’s a sled dog.

    6. Granny Weatherwax*

      You should look into front clip harnesses, the leash attaches to the front so when the dog pulls it actually turns them around backwards. I think there are also harnesses that make the dog feel like their front feet are being pulled up which can help with pulling. Google may have other suggestions but you definitely want to get a harness designed to prevent pulling because a traditional harness will just give your dog more pulling power.

    7. Dwight Schrute*

      Try a freedom harness or ruffwear webmaster! My 60lb pharaoh hound walks in a freedom harness unless we’re doing a pulling activity and then he wears his pulling harness.

    8. A Girl Named Fred*

      We tried a harness for our recent rescue who pulls all the time and unfortunately the harness just made her want to pull more, whether we clipped the lead in the front or not. The only thing that has worked to help train her out of it is a prong collar, used on the recommendation and instruction of a trainer, which turned her into a completely different dog (in a good way! We could actually have enjoyable walks where I wasn’t being half-dragged, so she got rewarded with longer walks!) Unfortunately we had an incident where the collar popped open, so I can’t use it again until I get a backup clip.

      Good luck with whatever you try! I totally understand how annoying it is to try and avoid whatever gets them excited, so I hope you’re able to find something that works for you and pup.

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        Yeah, this is what I think all the time – “you stupid dog, this just makes me NOT want to walk you, or only take you on the most boring routes where I can be more sure there won’t be other dogs – you are only hurting yourself!” I would love to take him longer and better hikes. Of course he can’t understand that though.

      2. LemonLyman*

        For anyone who might have negative thoughts toward a prong collar please consider my experience.

        I’ve used a prong collar with my most recent dog and it’s been a wonderful communication tool! She’s part pit bull so even though she isn’t big, she’s very strong. As with OP’s dog, Scout gets excited when she’s out for a walk and she will pull and tug and it’s hard to redirect her once she gets going. She will also lunge at other dogs some of the time (she’s the sweetest dog and has no problems at doggy daycare but on leash is tough; rescue dog problems). But I started working with a trainer who insisted that a prong collar would be a useful tool.

        I was hesitant but realized it’s doesn’t hurt the dog as long as it’s used properly – under the chin/over the top of her neck, held gently with just a quick short and gentle tug as a reminder that I’m there. A flat collar with a pulling dog can actually be more dangerous because it comes the dog since it’s right at the throat/larynx. As soon as I started using the prong collar, she immediately stopped pulling. When I can tell she’s ramping up around another dog, I give a quick “I’ve got you” flick of the leash and she walks wonderfully by the other dog, no pulling. It really has improved our communication! I’ve put the collar on myself and tugged much harder than I’d ever tug the leash with it on her it doesn’t hurt. It feels like fingertips, actually. Agreed that it needs a backup. Also, it’s meant as a walking tool so if we are stopped somewhere where she’s tied up, I switch the leash to her flat collar.

        I hope this is helpful for others!

        1. Kay*

          I have to second this. My trainer specifically told me not to do a harness, and instead used a prong. My trainer specialized in strong willed/powerful breeds and from my extensive amount of time around her work would highly recommend a prong as well.

          But this should be coupled with training! My first experience with the above trainer was with my extremely stubborn, wonderful, extremely powerful dog and without the training the prong would simply have been a band aid. The joy of having a well trained dog that will obey voice and hand commands is the greatest joy in the world – in my opinion.

          1. Harness for Dog?*

            Yeah I won’t be trying a prong without a dog trainer working with us on it. Whereas I would try a harness or a gentle leader style thing on my own to see if it improves my ability to control him when he’s overexcited (see my response to fposte but we are in line to see a trainer to help us).

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve had some luck with Gentle Leaders for pullers (we call them “nose harnesses” in my house) — it moves the leash clip to just below the dog’s chin, which is fine as long as they’re behaving, but if they start to pull, they can’t get any leverage behind it because their head won’t go in the direction they want to, it kinda makes them duck their head down and then they can’t see where they’re going. Putting my pullers in a standard harness always just gave them even more urge (and success) with their pulling, because it let them really get their whole body into it. Neither of them particularly cared for the nose harness, but they adapted to it pretty quickly, and it MOSTLY worked really well on my current dog. After a few weeks of walking in the nose harness, she actually got a gouge on her nose in our backyard so we couldn’t use it until her nose healed, so we had to go back to her standard harness and she’s been walking politely enough with the standard harness that, even though her nose is all healed up and fine now, we haven’t switched back to the nose harness. If she gets fratchety again, or possibly in the springtime when more critters and people are out, I can switch back easily if I need to.

      There’s a lady somewhere in my neighborhood who has a two year old male Great Dane that she has done NO leash work with, and I think she was trying with a prong collar a couple weeks ago, and even with the prong collar he dragged her literally half a block down and across the street to come jump on my dog, and she had no prayer of stopping him. Thank god he just wanted to play and my dog was too confused to disagree, so it ended up okay, but oh my goodness it was nerve-wracking. (And I’m getting a similarly large-breed dog as a puppy later this year, so it definitely reaffirmed for me the need to start working on leash manners and general training early and often.)

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        Yes, I’m so ashamed and embarrassed to be that lady in my neighborhood :( I don’t want to say it, but I’m afraid I was foolhearty to take on such a big dog – even though he’s so sweet 99% of the time! – we are almost the same weight honestly, so if he isn’t willing to work with me I just don’t know what I will do. Multiple people warned me that taking on a large adult rescue dog was a bad idea and I didn’t listen because this dog is such a loveable couch potato … most of the time …

        1. fposte*

          Have you actually been working with a trainer? It sounds like you maybe asked your friend a question, but I suspect that you and your pup could both benefit from actual regular lessons.

          1. Harness for Dog?*

            Yeah, I have a call in to a professional (not my friend, who lives in another state). They’re a little backed up right now – lotta pandemic dogs with behavioral issues! – but will be able to see us in a few weeks.

            1. fposte*

              Excellent! I think that’s going to be the biggest help, both in providing strategies and in giving you a framework and accountability for practicing. (I also agree that the halti/gentle leader is a better plan than a harness. Even with a horses a harness is *for* pulling with, and they need additional head control for actual direction.)

              1. Wishing You Well*

                I agree with fposte about training. Your dog needs to be trained more than he needs a harness. (probably needs both) We had a very close run-in with a Great Dane that outweighed its owner. No dog should be pulling its owner off their feet or even pulling on the leash.
                Best of Luck.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          You’re totally not that lady! That lady got her dog as a puppy, so had plenty of opportunity to do better and didn’t. (But in her defense she is trying now, she just needs to find a better way of trying.) Knowing it’s a thing you need to work on, and making steps to that end, is the important part — like fposte suggests, a few sessions with an actual trainer will probably help both of you :)

          1. Harness for Dog?*

            I have had people stop me and say he walks so beautifully … and I just snort because they wouldn’t say that if there was a dog he was trying to get to.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              cut yourselves both some slack :) He’s not as good (yet!) in other circumstances, but in the circumstances he’s in at the time, they’re saying he’s doing great because he is doing great, and so are you!

        3. Stephanie*

          Adopting a dull-grown, large rescue dog is entirely different than adopting a large-breed puppy. Full-grown dogs take some time to train, and because they’re so big, any problems with manners or behavior are amplified. Adult rescue dogs need some adjustment time to get used to their new living situation and recover from any trauma they might have experienced in their previous living situation (and we rarely know what their life was like before we adopted them).
          We adopted a retired racing greyhound in June. He’s the fifth racing greyhound we’ve adopted over the years, so we’re not new to the breed and their quirks. But he’s proven to be a challenge with manners, and we’re working on it. But it does take some time. Give yourself some grace, try a harness if you can, and possibly look into training with a professional trainer. But don’t beat yourself up. Large dogs are delightful, and if you work with him, you’ll get there. And you are definitely NOT that lady.

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      I had this exact problem. We adopted Best Good Dog when he was about 7, and as a completely untrained husky, the pulling was a problem. We tried a lot of things, including a couple different designs of harness, a gentle leader head harness, and multiple styles of collars. What ended up working was a chain (but not prong) collar and a hands-free leash that goes around my waist like a fanny pack. The loops of the chain pull his neck hair rather than squeeze his neck, which gets his attention. Since I outweigh him, if he tries to pull I just plant my feet and he can’t get rewarded with extra distance.
      Also, we worked with a trainer and go for walks every single day, so it was a process. He occasionally still tries to drag me to greet friends, but it’s not frequent and he remembers his manners as soon as he feels the hair pull, so he doesn’t even get to the point of almost clotheslining himself at the end of the leash anymore.

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        A lot of the reviews I’m reading say the harness is for general pulling on walks, which I’ve done a pretty good job training him out of (by stopping until he walks nicely). It’s the Lunge that’s killing me. I would be afraid to clip to my waist, I think. He has literally dragged me across the ground *after* I fell before, and at least then the leash eventually gets let go. The idiot is all waggy tailed excitement when it happens too, and come back to me all proud of himself.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I was initially nervous about clipping him to my waist too, but it turned out that wearing it low (more on my hips than waist) gave me a lot more leverage due to a lower center of gravity. He’s never been able to pull me down with the hands free leash. The regular leash was causing me so many back, shoulder, and elbow problems that I felt it was worth a try. Also, there is a clip on each end, so I can detach from either my end or the dog’s end of the leash.
          Try checking with your vet, groomer, or other dog related groups to see if you can borrow a few different styles of harnesses, leashes, or collars to see what works for you and your dog before you drop a small fortune on things that don’t work.

          1. Harness for Dog?*

            Haha hence this post!! I knew a dog was expensive, of course, but I’m at that stage of adoption where I have wasted a LOT of money on stuff that doesn’t necessarily work for him, so I’m hesitant to just go out and buy new things as a first resort!! That’s a good tip about borrowing one, maybe I can find someone to let me try it out.

    11. Pippa K*

      Seconding the recommendations to try a head collar like Halti or Gentle Leader. They’ve worked great for several strong pullers we’ve had over the years. The dog simply can’t pull with much force or in the direction he intends, and it also solved the problem of a dog who could pull out of his regular collar. I’ve only ever had one big dog for whom nothing worked but an old-style pinch collar, which I normally dislike a lot, but for this particular dog it stopped him pulling so hard he’d hurt himself. Generally, though, head collars are super effective and humane!

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        I’m googling now to see if they work on jowly dogs like my good boy. I’m not sure anything would fit around his muzzle!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond was a jowly bloodhound, and they fit her just fine :) they’re pretty adjustable!

    12. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      I actually prefer them for large dogs. Mind you, I’m also fairly strong, so I can put the brakes on an Irish Wolfhound if I have to, but a harness makes it easier, because I have control over the body, not just the neck. Try it and see if it works for you.

      I also recommend some obedience training to give your dog better impulse control, and to give you more leverage over his behavior.

    13. Cartographical*

      Harnesses or halters with a “martingale” attachment point are super useful; for a harness, this point should be at the chest. I might also try double-leashing with a harness (attached at chest or back) and a training collar or halter, I’ve found having two points out control to be very helpful when controlling a large or excitable dog — it’s a bit like flying a stunt kite. :p

      One thing that has really helped us is drilling “leave it” and “look at me” until it’s reflexive for the dog. You can practice this over and over at home with temptations like toys and treats — it may take two people to train this effectively, though, even before you get out of the house.

      You may be able to recruit another dog owner to provide distraction when your dog is able to resist other temptations — planning to walk towards them and their dog and then getting your dog’s attention before the outburst begins with the goal being that you can get closer and closer while still having successful responses to the command, until your dog can self-regulate at any distance. While it may not alleviate the problem entirely, even a partial success in the moment can buy you (and other dog owners) precious seconds to react, anything to break up the behavioral cascade. Scripting encounters for practice is a good way not only to train your dog but to increase your confidence and help you protect yourself.

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        Ha, I tried something like this today – but probably screwed it up. I took him out with a hot dog to a place another fenced dog is outdoors a lot. When he sat or lay down on cue, he got the hot dog. But he was still pretty fired up and the owner of the dog came out to see what the hell I was doing … whups.

    14. Missb*

      Our dog trainer discouraged us from using a harness, as he thinks it prevents the dog from getting the right signals from you as to what you want.

      I have a 100-lb lab mix – and he’s mixed with mastiff, American bull dog and a few other very large breeds. If he wanted to, he could pull me down easily and in fact did before we trained him.

      What we use nowadays is a special leash that allows you to loop the leash around his belly. If he pulls, he tightens the leash around his belly and that stops him (because of training, not pain). He reacts to the tightening, understanding that he’s not where he should be. It’s really just a super long leash with some sewn parts where you thread the leash through. It’s on Amazon – I can link if you want.

      He heels, he sits, he ignores. It’s all training for us. Lots of training with a trainer. The trainer made us go into busy plazas to train, once we had a good voice response from the pup. We used a lot of treats to keep his attention, but the main point was to actually keep his attention. We talk a lot to our dog when we’re walking, to keep him engaged with us.

      He gets to interact with lots of dogs at dog parks, not on leash during walks.

      I will say that it took us a very long time to get to the point where he would not pull. We tried a lot of different collars – including some that made me look a bit sideways at the trainer, but none that were harmful to the pup. In the end, the leash worked best. We did have some initial success with a Canny Collar (ordered from UK, but the shipping was pretty fast) but the leash has been the best long term.

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        I have definitely been reading the blogs that say it’s the overall behavior and manners that need work – that he should be more attentive to my orders in general to overcome this impulse to lunge. We do work on that stuff too, although I have to try not to get discouraged about it – like if he isn’t perfect in every way at all times I’m just going to have to accept this lunging situation :(

        1. The Dogman*

          “like if he isn’t perfect in every way at all times I’m just going to have to accept this lunging situation :(”

          No you don’t, you can do this!

          He can be a well behaved and polite lad, you can get there… a large part of training dogs is self belief too, you need to convince yourself you can do this, then you can do this!

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago I bought a Sporn harness. I just looked at their site and now they call it the “original” style. That’s the one I have. It’s lasted through at least 25 years and 3 dogs. It’s very durable.

      It did not work so well on one dog with longer fur. I am not sure why. Just doing a quick scan of their site all the dogs appear to have short fur.

      If it’s going to work, the results are instant. Pulling is a thing of the past. It goes under their “underarms”. The first time I put it on a dog I give it a very gentle tug, so they can feel how this thing works. No more pulling on their throat/voice box.

      The thing works so well that I am willing to put up with what I don’t like about it:
      It’s confusing to put on the dog – I had to get used to it.
      Putting it on a young bouncy dog was a longer effort than I want to think about. They do stop bouncing all over and just let you put it on them after a while so this problem goes away.
      The collar on the Sporn hits on the same spot as his regular collar. I don’t take the regular collar off because that has his ID, rabies and registration tags. It’s an extra minute to make sure the two collars are not overlapping each other.

      The dog I have now is the strongest dog I have ever had. My friend, male, 6ft tall with strong muscles, got whipped around while walking my dog. Since not much throws my tall friend, he knew this dog is a Force, he said he would never again take my dog walking without his harness.

      With the harness I can control the dog with two fingers on one hand.

      sporn dot com

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        That sounds great, thank you – definitely checking out all these helpful suggestions!

    16. The Dogman*

      NOOOOOOOO!!!!! Never use a harness with a power bred who is bad on the lead! Well for car safety they are fine but not walking…

      The dogs power comes from his shoulder and back muscles… the smaller the muscles he has to transfer that power through ^before^ it reaches the lead the less force he can exert on you via the lead.

      The further forwards the point of contact the less strength you will need.

      For a case like this I would start remedial lead training using a face lead or halter style, that way he only has the small muscles at the base of his skull to transfer the power of his back to you, and conversely you will not have to overcome his giant shoulder muscles, you only have to overcome the force he can exert with his base of the skull muscles.

      I read some of your other replies and I think you need to start some dog contact socialising with a local trainer/dog behaviourist. If he is so excited he will pull you over you really need to restart all elements of obedience training, from “sit/stay” to lead walking, to dog to dog contact… his previous owners clearly did not do this properly.

      All the best, PLEASE do not get a harness, and if you do please do not expect it to actually solve this issue.

      You have a socially awkward dog who is massive, this needs a proper training plan with daily, then weekly session once he is over the worst of the excitement.

      Also if he is not neutered yet then that can help a bit with excitability, but ultimately he needs a fresh go at obedience training.

      Good luck!

        1. The Dogman*

          Yes, mostly the case both front or back for the high energy ones, so calmer dogs do ok on a front harness clip (as it simulate the turning when they pull without stressing the next, so for small pulling dogs a harness maybe better than a collar, but honestly the key is training, or re-training.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Harnesses do not cause pulling. All of my dogs are power dogs and walk politely on a harness. I have a friend who mushes with her malamutes and they also walk fine on a harness. The training is what helps. The harness keeps the dog from damaging their airway when they pull.

        1. The Dogman*

          “The training is what helps”

          Yes, and if the dog is dragging on a collar then a harness will make it worse, which is what my extensive comment explains in detail for people who do not have already well trained dogs.

          I personally have a giant breed labrador who is so well trained literally anyones 5 year old could walk him on lead, collar or harness, or off lead… but that was not relevant to the discussion in hand so I didn’t bring it up…

    17. LemonLyman*

      Have you looked into trying a prong collar? I gave my own prong collar story in a reply somewhere else in this thread when someone else mentions it. I’ll add that a prob collar needs to be fitted and used correctly. I worked with a trainer but I have watched a bunch of YouTube videos for a refresher and recommend Be Heeled Dog Training’s prong collar intro video as well as Upstate Canine Academy’s prong collar intro videos. The trainers both talk about how to fit the collar, how to introduce the collar, as well as some introductory leash work exercises you can do. As I mentioned in my other post, a prong collar doesn’t hurt and is meant as a communication tool.

      Best of luck! Good on you for trying to find solutions to help your dog!

    18. JustEm*

      My dog sounds very, very similar to yours. Standard harnesses did not help AT ALL. He broke out of his gentle leader. He will choke himself on a choke collar. Bold lead designs perfect pace no pull dog halter works well and has clip to clip to regular collar as backup. He still will sometimes suddenly lunge to get to a dog to try to play, but can no longer pull me off my feet.

    19. SofiaDeo*

      A properly fitted choke collar with inside prongs will be better than any harness. I say properly fitted, because one with tines too long could possibly hurt your dog, and one with tines too short won’t work best. I was horrified by the look of them initially, but my service dog trainer assured me a properly sized one won’t hurt the dog. And get a waist leash too, so your arms don’t get yanked on. This was especially helpful when doing “heel” training– I used a walking stick in my left hand, to physically keep my dog at/behind me on my left, he was always trying to pull ahead. I positioned & moved the stick along my left foot. When my dog would try to pull ahead, having a stick in his face stopped him. Until I started this trick, my arms were worn out from puppy pulling.
      A harness in a dog this large won’t be effective. And if it turns out even the prong choke collar won’t work, you likely will need to work with a trainer and a treat/reward for your dog every time the dog follows your command of “leave it” or “no say hi” or whatever command you decide to use when the dog successfully ignores the other animal. Unfortunately it may take longer than anticipated re-training an adult dog, but if you can’t stop the behavior I agree there will be injuries (both dog and human) if you don’t.

    20. Gnome*

      They make special harnesses for pulling dogs. A regular harness helps them pull you. You want one that clips in front by the chest. They are called no-pill harnesses, I think.

    21. Pennyworth*

      I use a harness on my dalmatian, because he used to pull me over when I had some hip issues and wasn’t very stable. With a harness you get a more predictable angle of pull which helped me. I also tied the long leash I use with the harness into a double loop at the end I hold, which means I can hold a loop in each hand, and use the strength from both arms if I need too.

      1. Harness for Dog?*

        Wow, a two hand leash, that is – what a great idea. That would probably help a lot actually. My gut feeling is that if I could stop the lunge from being so successful, it would give me more time to regain his focus. Right now I feel like I’m *training* him to lunge, because it works for him.

        1. The Dogman*

          “Right now I feel like I’m *training* him to lunge, because it works for him.”

          You can overcome this, but I think a few sessions with a trainer used to large breeds is the key to getting you moving the right direction.

    22. Wyn*

      For my big dogs one of those “nose harnesses” was the answer. It’s been many years, but I think one brand was Gentle Leader. Research them, maybe since my experiences they’re no longer considered safe or something, but they solved all my dog walking problems. I also had a rig involving a sturdy waist belt for me with a ring to attach the lead to, which had a clip on each end. One end on my belt, one on the harness, very safe for both me and dog. Hands free, just had to grab the lead if I needed to shorten it up for more control.

    23. Random Biter*

      I have had 2 pitties, both very strong pullers, and I swear by Freedom Harnesses. They have a front and a top connect, plus you can buy a leash that will attach to both. I used the front loop, whenever my dog would try to pull me (and it could be like being hooked up to a team of sled dogs) the front connect would cause them to be pulled around in an arc rather than the straight ahead pull that would (in my spousal equivalent’s term) allow them to get their ass behind it and *really* pull. The harness is very durable and comes in a lot of colors and designs.

  18. Scandinavia_Soonish*

    I am a few weeks away from moving to Scandinavia from the US for a job. I’d love to hear suggestions from any current or former expats about what they wish they’d done differently or if there was something that worked well. Any and all advice is welcome. What do you wish you had/hadn’t packed? Keeping in touch with WhatsApp vs. iMessage? Would love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Berlin Berlin*

      This isn’t specific to Scandinavia, and might be blindingly obvious, but a couple of things I’ve found helpful on the keeping in touch point:
      1) arranging standing calls (eg “Every Tuesday at six I call ”) is great because it’s so easy otherwise for you to fall out of touch with people. Maybe it has to be every fortnight or whatever depending on your schedules (I realise the time difference might make this harder but hopefully you can work something out).
      2) if you have a group of mutual friends try to arrange periodic group calls to maintain that dynamic, in addition to one on one chats.

      1. Berlin Berlin*

        Also, while presumably most people will have a grasp of English, try to initiate interactions in Finnish/Swedish/insert as appropriate once you have some grasp of it even if you think you’ll have to switch to English (which they may do unprompted) so that you’re showing that you’re making an effort and being respectful (though I make an exception for especially stressful interactions like with police!)

        1. Scandinavia_Soonish*

          Thanks, Berlin Berlin! I love the standing call time ideas and have started with Duolingo!

      2. PT*

        My old friends who were from Europe (we were on the West Coast at the time) had two clocks on the wall in their house, one with the local time and one with the time “back home” so they could better stay in touch with their friends and families there. I thought it was a good idea.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Learn the language learn the language learn the language learn the language! It doesn’t matter how good you are at languages, or whether you will need it for the job–the language, if it is not your own, is the biggest barrier to getting to know a place and its people. Just making an effort will introduce you to people and places and perspectives that are fascinating and life-enriching. It will help you settle in, or help you figure out that it is not the place for you much quicker.

      Some other random thoughts:
      -Scandinavia is MUCH farther north than the contiguous US, so maybe think about a daylight lamp for the winter if you don’t already know those latitudes? It sucks to realize one might be useful to you in the depths of winter, when everything is dark and all the shops are sold out for the season.

      -Keeping track of people and keeping up relationships largely depends on the people involved. Pick something sustainable for you and whomever you want to stay connected to. I agree that standing call or chat dates are often easier.

      -Settling overseas is a process. It takes a while–the initial excitement will at some point wear off and you’ll start to notice all the annoying and hard things…but the pendulum does also swing the other way again. Give yourself some time and be patient, it’ll work out one way or the other.

      -What do you know about yourself in terms of what you need to be happy? Spend some time thinking about this if you don’t have good answers already because it will help you find the right things or figure out approximations. I’m a people person, so figuring out how to people in my new culture was directly tied to my happiness over all, much more than, say, my apartment or my commute. I had to relearn how to do small talk, find new ways to meet people, figure out how to be politely interesting and interested and how to ask to be friends…and lots of other things. But it worked out very well for me and I am very happy. Another friend doesn’t care much about people, but he needs nature, so his approach was totally different.

      1. yesterday's toast*

        All of this is good advice, especially about learning the language. Also, get involved in lots of activities, and don’t just stick to ex-pats. Try lots of things – it can be hard to integrate into a new culture, but getting out and meeting locals is key.

      2. Jackalope*

        Also if you can get something you can have in in the background in the language that helps you get used to the sounds and the cadence even if you aren’t actively listening. Music from that country, news program, movies, whatever you can have as background noise, use that. Especially if you don’t know any of the language yet you might feel like you aren’t picking anything up but it really does help prep your brain to know how to listen to the language.

    3. Public Sector Manager*

      My spouse’s family is still in Ireland, so here has been my experience in dealing with my in-laws and when we go for extended stays:

      1. The younger generation primarily uses WhatsApp and the older generation is either Viber or iMessage. Go figure.
      2. Most of Europe is like the U.S. in the 1970’s when it comes to store hours (many places are closed on Sundays, needing something at 9 pm will always be a bummer because everywhere is closed, etc.).
      3. My brother-in-law turned me on to the “maps.me” app. It’s great for driving around because you can download local maps to your phone and use it offline so you don’t have to use your data plan while driving around.
      4. Hot sauce. Whether it’s Cholula, Tobasco, or something else, take some with you.
      5. If you have a strong itch for Mexican food, wait until you come back home. I had Mexican food in Germany once. Big mistake!

      Have a great time!

    4. allathian*

      How long are you planning to stay? In Scandinavia, most people of working age, and certainly the vast majority of those with a college degree, speak good English. You can manage well enough using English when you need to deal with the authorities, for example.

      But to really get into the culture and become more than the American Expat, you do need to learn some of the language that’s spoken in your host country, and the earlier you start, the better your experience will be.

      Where are you going? There are significant cultural differences between the countries, including professional norms.

      1. I take tea*

        I’m with Allathian on this, if you would be comfortable sharing which Scandinavian country, you could probably get more specific tips about that country and its culture from the local people’s viewpoint. We often know what throws people off :-)

        1. I take tea*

          Sorry, I just realized that you were specifically asking ex-pats, I just got so enthusiastic about sharing things I know about.

          1. Scandinavia_Soonish*

            Ha, sorry, I take tea! :) I singled out expats forgetting about AAM’s global reach. I’ll be in Sweden. I studied abroad in Denmark and have Finnish ancestry. So I am familiar with the stereotypes but would also love a local’s POV!

      2. Scandinavia_Soonish*

        Allthian, I’ll be in Sweden. Though in Skåne, so close to Denmark. I’ve started Duolingo and will be taking language classes once I’m there. I imagine my biggest struggle will be asking Swedes to tolerate my attempts!

    5. I take tea*

      There’s a YouTuber called Wildwood Vagabond, that has a lot of videos about differences between the US and Finland, and stuff about Finnish life. I know Finland isn’t Scandinavia, but from a US perspective I think there are a lot of similarities.

      Finns tend to be a lot more direct (or very blunt) than the rest of the Nordic counties, for example, but what I’ve understood, compared to some US culture, a Swede would be as well, even if Finns think they beat around the bush a lot.

      And yes to learning the language, at least something. Language differences is also always a good topic when you meet locals, because it’s interesting, but not provocative, and language says a lot about culture as well. There’s a Swedish word for Friday relaxing, for example (fredagsmys). A Norwegian word for relaxed feeling in general (hygge). And a Finnish word for getting drunk in your underwear (kalsarikännit). And so on.

    6. Koala dreams*

      You’ll get this advice second hand, so take it as you wish.

      1) You’ll need winter clothes as February is rather cold, but you don’t need to bring everything, you can buy some after you have arrived. Ask people (co-workers, new friends) for tips on what and where to buy.

      2) Lots of people will want to speak English with you, so if you want to practice the local language, you’ll need to tell people you’re learning and ask to switch over.

      3) From my own experience, culture shock goes in phases. So maybe look up the different phases and remember it’s going to get better when you feel down.

      Good luck!

    7. Jinni*

      Join local Expat groups on FB. It can be annoying for all the reasons social media is, but they can be helpful depending on what you need (kid stuff, women’s issues, US comfort items that are important to you despite the cost).

  19. Needs some charisma*

    Has anyone found a book, website, online group, etc that you’ve found to be particularly helpful for learning how to improve your social interactions that goes beyond “just be yourself” and “ask them questions about themselves… people love to talk about themselves”?
    I know there are “generally understood” social rules and ways of making people feel comfortable in their interactions with you, but I did not grow up in a family that understood them or could help me learn them as a child, and although I’ve learned some by trial and error, I feel like my well- intentioned attempts are sometimes terribly misunderstood and the completely wrong impression is made.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Shoot, I’m trying to remember a site I came across once where people with autism were sharing what they’ve learned about interactions with each other – perhaps someone else in the commentariat will know it. But I’ve learned a lot from Captain Awkward’s site, like this post and similar (link in next comment to avoid going to spam).

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Here’s an article I remember liking about big-picture how to make friends, which I think helps cut short the expectation that “everybody” is hanging out with a super close clique of besties they’ve known all their lives: https://www.thecut.com/2014/08/ask-polly-how-do-i-make-friends-in-my-late-20s.html. Or Captain Awkward sometimes gets more into the nitty gritty of conversation rules, like this: https://captainawkward.com/2019/01/14/1168-and-1169-friendship-conversation-and-taking-turns/

    3. Annie Oakley*

      I’ve always found Captain Awkward to be a great advice site for people (like myself) who have had to reparent themselves. I know Alison has featured CA on this site before, so you might already be familiar.

    4. RagingADHD*

      They are somewhat old fashioned about formalities, but I have always enjoyed Judith Martin’s books, aka “Miss Manners,” because she talks a good bit about how social behavior expresses relationships.

      Not just what is “correct” or not, but how people will interpret behavior, how to be gracious and put people at ease, how casual situations are different than formal ones, and how the “rules” shift but don’t disappear when you are close friends or family with someone.

      You shouldn’t take every word as set in stone, but she illustrates a helpful and not too technical way of thinking about behavior as communication. And she’s witty.

    5. Olivia Oil*

      Following because I have the same pain points!

      Although one thing that is worth mentioning is that sometimes you will have easier “chemistry” with some people more than others and I think that’s fine and expected.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I found it helpful to look at the history of etiquette rules. These rules started so that people could be comfortable with each other and have successful interactions. Some of the rules got to be a bit much. But the general idea is valid- put others’ comfort ahead of your own.
      Rules of etiquette can change according to the needs of a society. This is why we see older generations doing X, and younger generations not doing X. Society as a whole has changed just within a generation or two.

      Putting other people’s comfort ahead of your own does not mean setting yourself on fire to keep others warm. It means finding that compromise solution where both of you have some sort of benefit. A friend came over the other day for computer help. She brought me goodies as a thank you- some nice tea and homemade jam. I did not expect anything, so this was very sweet. Heck, yeah! I will help her again.
      Sometimes a male friend and I go to the nearest large town to go shopping. Our compromise here is that he is willing to sit in the car and wait while I go in the sewing store for a minute. Then my turn comes when I am willing to sit and wait while he goes in the car parts store to pick up a part. It’s a compromise so we can hang out together and visit while we do our errands. Each of us benefits.
      These are simple examples but the common thread is making sure the other person benefits in some manner.
      It’s reciprocal- back and forth.

      Another common thread I saw in just reading through etiquette rules is transparency. Be clear in what you say and do. This also means words should match actions. If you slip up, apologize (if necessary) and correct course as you as you realize you slipped up.

      All this is just the way I took in what I read and def not comprehensive.

      Where the wheels fell off for me is when my mother was all about having the correct fork in the correct spot at each place setting. smh. And if eating a dinner out somewhere, make sure to use the correct fork. omg. I tended to view this stuff as superficial and I got very confused. Yes, it’s a good idea to know which fork is the salad fork, but it’s not something that will show you how to have long term, rich friendships.

      One of the bigger things I have noticed with people is that caring about those who THEY care about, is important. Even if I don’t really know this third party. I know first hand if someone remembers my dog’s name and asks how he is doing I am just so touched. I am also impressed because I probably do not remember their dog’s name…. sigh. Remembering people who are important to a friend, is a kind gesture that is highly valued. I never saw this growing up, so to me this was a little pearl of wisdom.

      The last thing I think that is good to know is that there are jerks in this world. And no matter what you do, these jerks will make a person feel stupid for being gracious. Move away from such people. I mean, really. Gracious people realize when someone else is trying to be gracious and they grant slack when we slip up. They let us recoup quickly.

    7. Hlao-roo*

      Sometimes when I watch TV, I focus on the interactions between the characters. Which characters are friends with each other and how does the dialogue/acting SHOW you they are friends? A caveat with this is that TV characters often break social and workplace norms for the sake of entertainment, so this may not be the best method to become more charismatic.

      Building a little bit off of Not So New Reader’s point of people feel good if you remember and ask them about things they care about: if you can’t remember, it’s OK to take notes! No need to build up a whole detailed profile but if someone regularly mentions their dog/kid/garden you could make a little sticky note that says “John: -black lab named Fido -daughter named Sally -grows tomatoes.” Then before you hang out with John again, look at the sticky note so you can ask “how are the tomatoes doing this year?”

    8. Kate in Scotland*

      Another vote for Captain Awkward.
      I’ve also benefited from some episodes of the Lingthusiasm podcast that explain how conversation works. For example, episode 51 explains small talk. Episode 39 explains how different styles of turn taking (how much the speakers overlap/ talk over each other) can make a conversation difficult, and how to address that.

    9. Mannequin*

      I’m actually autistic, and from an ND family, so I was never around anyone who understood the arcane, convoluted, and always changing rituals commonly known as “social interaction”…but certainly nobody would ever have said the adults in my family were rude or made them uncomfortable or were socially out of line in any way.
      They were very direct and came from an ask/tell culture, but when dealing with others, they uniformly
      1. Used basic manners/politeness, always – please, thank you, you’re welcome, may I, pardon me, etc

      2. Used the Golden Rule : Do unto others as you would have others do unto you (do you want people to treat you kindly, with respect, as a person, etc? Then treat them kindly, with respect, as a person, etc)

      3. Lived by their version of “is it kind/necessary/helpful to say it?” which was basically “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”

      4. My personal addition to this is “be as direct and clear as possible when speaking, no softening or weasly language” because THATS where I run into misunderstandings.

      If you are doing all of these and people still seem to react in weird ways, the problem is almost certainly NOT YOU.

    10. Mannequin*

      Also, I’ve found that a lot of times, people who are unsure about social interaction are afraid to be direct because they worry about breaking an unspoken social rule, and in trying to soften their language or seem less ‘blunt’, it actually obscures what they are trying to say. You can be clear and direct while also being kind & polite, and it does help resolve some issues of misunderstanding.

    11. Voluptuousfire*

      I like Dr. Nerdlove. His advice is geared more towards nerdy guys learning how to meet women but IMO it’s transferable to learning more about social interactions.

    12. Koala dreams*

      I like etiquette books and web sites, but they are often geared towards formal situations (weddings and such) and not everyday interactions. Some advice works anyway, but some don’t.

      I’ve read about turn taking, which is a very useful concept, but I don’t remember where, sorry.

      Outside of that, there are therapists (talk therapy) who work on those things. Might be useful if you can access therapy. After covid, many providers offer online treatment.

    13. Jinni*

      The first few chapters of Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards has some excellent tips. She also has videos/content on her website. Also, there are some great YouTube videos by her and interviews with her that address this with helpful tips.

    14. Dawbs*

      You might actually try speech therapy.

      People who know my autistic 11yo kid often day “speech? She speaks fine. Is there an impediment?”… but she’s learning how to talk to a neurotypical world.
      (Disclaimer for those in the know re autism therapies. We do speech instead of crap like ABA and discuss when we have to/don’t have to mask. We’re not trying to make her not autistic, just functioning through the hellhole that is middle school.)

      There are speech therapists who specialize in adults and, honestly, the summary of what they’re working on every week makes me wish i was in my kid’s speech therapy!
      They write scripts. They have homework to write goals. They talk about how to word things for teachers and how that’s different for peers.

  20. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Any other Aussies here struggling to come to terms with The Wiggles getting #1 in Hottest 100? I mean, it’s an awesome cover. But I also feel like this is the “I’m officially too old for Triplej” moment..?

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Yep! How can it be so? Mind you, I still remember Andy Pandy’s “time to go home” song, so kids’ music does really have an impact.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I’m starting to think that “fruit salad” is maybe some kind of subliminal message for “vote for global domination”…

        Federal election is coming up, who knows? Maybe The Wiggles have got a plan to save us all.

    2. I heart Paul Buchman*

      Ha! I realised I was officially too Old a while ago! When I first heard Myf on ABC local radio my heart broke a little. It so perfectly encapsulates my trajectory out of my 20s (ditto Zan and Yumi, Richard Fidler and the list goes on). They used to be so cutting edge, *I* used to be so cutting edge. Jesus wept.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Oh I love Myf! I still remember when she was new, probably back around the time when Adam and Wil were still doing breakfast!
        Admittedly, I’ve been tuning in less and less, and barely at all since Ben and Liam left. I always thought I’d be one of those cool middle aged people who had taste in music, but honestly? All I hear these days is what sounds like drunken cats chasing spoons in blenders.

  21. Junior Dev*

    Any advice for starting to get up early? I’d prefer responses from people who have actually had to do this. I’m gonna be starting a job in a little over a week that starts at 7 and I should leave my house by 6:30 at the latest. I currently get up around 8 most days and spend a couple hours puttering around and gradually waking up.

    (Also, it’s not a software job. But that’s a story for another day)

    1. suggestion*

      I hate waking up early but often have to do it for work. I found that one of the sunrise clocks is the most effective at getting me up and not super grouchy. The one I bought was under $40 and I’ve been using it for a few years.

      The next piece of advice is to have a set routine when you get up. I feed the cat, make the coffee, pack lunches, and then shower. It helps get me going and keep me going.

      1. Windchime*

        I used to have to get up at 4:30 AM and I used a sunrise clock also. It was very helpful. I also made a few rules that I just told myself I had to follow:

        1. No whining. I accepted this job and I knew the hours and the commute, so no whining.
        2. Get up when the alarm goes off. No snooze allowed.
        3. I showered the night before; I have the kind of hair that allows me to just touch it up in the morning. Lots of people like a morning shower; I do not like to get wet at 4:30 AM.
        4. Have a routine. I knew that I had to be dressed and put together by 5, no exception. This gave me 20 minutes to get downstairs, make my tea and toast, pack up my backpack and hit the road.

        Having said all that, it sucked and I was super glad when I didn’t have to do it anymore.

      2. PT*

        If you feed the cat when you wake up, after a few days, you have a Cat Alarm, so that is a big bonus to that routine.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Smart plugs on timers. I have lights go on and the coffee machine gets started, which makes it bearable to get out of bed.

      1. Flower necklace*

        This is what I do. My lights turn on automatically when my alarm rings at 5 a.m. and turn off a little after I leave for work at 6:30 a.m. I need a lot of time to wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready, so I leave extra time for that.

    3. Sloan Kittering*

      Everyone is going to have a different approach that works for them, but I used to have to get up at 4:30 to open the pool (I was a lifeguard) and what I found best was to have everything packed and ready so that I could operate on auto-pilot for the first 30-40 minutes. I didn’t eat breakfast until later, I just rolled out of bed in the dark, pulled on the commuting clothes I’d set out (I had to change later anyway), grabbed my keys and went. I have very little memory of the mornings that year but I was never late opening the pool!

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        In college I had a 5am radio show once a week and this is how I managed it. Alarm, roll out of bed, and go. It also helped me to have a special 8:30am pick-me-up planned. For me, it was grabbing breakfast from the nearby dining hall. I don’t remember why it was special, but it always felt like a nice thing to do to congratulate myself for getting to 8am.

    4. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      So.e of this is pretty obvious, but my best tips are:
      -Start now. A week is not a lot of lead time, but will still make it so much easier than waiting until that first work day.
      -Know what kind of morning person you are and accommodate it as much as possible. I absolutely cannot just sleep until the very last minute and rush through getting ready. I have to build in time to sip tea, mill around a bit, read some headlines, etc before I really get started.
      -If you don’t usually prefer to be up early, do something you enjoy first thing. I make fancy hot tea. Maybe you enjoy having 10 minutes to revel in a warm bed before actually having to leave it, or sitting outside with Wordle and listening to the birds chirp. It’s just easy easier to actually wake up of your whole morning isn’t entirely utilitarian.
      -Get one of those sunrise alarms is it’s still dark when you get up. They really do make a world of difference.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Hehehe I like that your strategy and my strategy are the exact opposite of each other – but it takes all kinds of people to make a world!!

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I switched from night shift (show up at 3 PM) to morning shift (show up at 6 AM) from one week to the next and I don’t remember doing anything special. I set my alarm for the new wakeup time, of course. It was not the most fun thing ever, but I don’t think it was as bad as I was expecting. At first it felt like I was awake in the middle of the night instead of waking up for the day. But I have stronger memories of the shift in job-fitting into the new crew and stuff- than the changeup in sleep patterns.

    6. CatPerson*

      Most important is to go to bed earlier. I require 9 hours of sleep to feel my best but you should always try to get at least 8 hours.

      1. Windchime*

        Oh, that’s another good tip that I forgot to mention above. I made sure I was always in bed by 8:30 PM. That worked out fine in the winter, but was really strange in the summer when the sunlight was still streaming in the window and the neighborhood children were playing next door.

    7. the cat's ass*

      I get up at 4 am 4 days a week and SO look forward to my day off and the weekends when i can catch up on my sleep and stay up a little later. I go to bed around 8 pm and can spend a bit of time having breakfast and tea before leaving at 5 to get to work by 6.

    8. Generic Name*

      I normally get up early (6:30) for work but often have to get up even earlier for airplane flights or fieldwork. Since you know when you need to leave your house, figure out how long it takes you to get ready. You say your normally putter around for a few hours, so you’ll likely want to have an efficient routine. So instead of allowing yourself 1 hour to drink coffee, can you cut it down to 30 mins or less? Some people need a shower to help them wake up, but you may find the extra half hour of sleep is more beneficial for you. I try to have my lunch packed or at least something I can easily grab (like I’ll portion leftovers into lunch sized containers so I can grab and go in the morning). Don’t fall into the trap of magical thinking in terms of how much time stuff takes. Yes, you could theoretically take a 3 min shower, but most people take longer than that, so account for reality in your routine. Also, try to keep your sleep routine as consistent as possible for the whole week. Meaning, don’t stay up until 3 am on the weekends and then sleep until noon, because then Monday will be much more awful.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Yes to the sleep routine! You can probably get away with sleeping in an hour or two on the weekends, but if you have to get up at 5am during the workweek (for example) and you’re sleeping in until 9 every weekend, your Mondays are going to be horrible.

        1. Generic Name*

          I’m sad to say my sleep routine is so consistent that I awaken naturally at 7am when I can sleep in. :) the upside is if I happen to sleep really badly one night, I’m normally pretty OK the next day because I’m not routinely sleep deprived.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Same, haha! I got super excited a couple weeks ago when I managed to sleep til 8:30, and that was because I’d been woken up at 4am and took a couple hours to make myself go back to sleep :P

    9. Forrest Rhodes*

      When one of my brothers struggled with the early start time at a new job, he used the classic multi-alarm-clock solution. He set the clocks at 10-minutes intervals—one at 4 a.m., the next at 4:10, etc—and placed them 5 or 6 feet apart, each one farther from the bed. Eventually, he had to actually get out of bed to shut off the blasted noise, and then, well, he was up so he stayed up.
      It was a bit tough on the rest of the family for a while, but eventually, his sleep rhythms adapted and the multiple clocks were no longer needed.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        My lord, I would kill my BF if he did this! I just had flashbacks to my roommate wanting to “get up early to study” and then hitting snooze every five minutes all morning long. It’s a good tip for someone who lives alone though.

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          LOL. You’re right, Sloan K. Problem was, our mom categorically refused either to let the rest of us kids retaliate on our brother or to make him sleep in the backyard. It was okay—just one of those things that was a pain at the time but became a better story as it recedes farther into the past.

    10. Dino*

      Hello! Former barista, K-12 support staff and call center worker here. My jobs have started between 5:30 and 7:10 AM and I have tips!!

      While you’re still getting used to it, go to bed and read/relax/whatever with only dim light 1-2- hours before you need to be asleep. At the first second you feel your eyes get heavy or feel sleepy, turn off the lights (remotes are A+) and go to bed. It feels stupid at first, but it will really help your body realize “oh, I’m relaxed and cozy, maybe I could drift off…” earlier and earlier.

      Co-signing those saying to figure out what kind of morning person you are, as well as what the job will require of you in the AM. I need to be awake bare minimum of 40 minutes before I leave for work, but 1+ hour is better. Relatedly, my job requires interacting with people back to back while doing complex processes—when I worked back of house catering kitchen, I could wake up and split in under 20 mins.

      Last thing, if you wake up and stay really groggy try adding more protein to your breakfast. Caffeine can help but making sure you’ve got a steady fuel in your system for the first few hours will help you function better AND feel better/less tired.

      Best of luck on the new job!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m echoing the comment about protein. At a workshop on productivity, the presenter cited a study showing that having some form of protein within a half-hour (0n average) of waking up was helpful for the brain. It has definitely helped me in the mornings even when I had no appetite for any other type of food.

    11. Jackalope*

      I also find it helpful to get used to it gradually. For example, get up 15 min earlier for a day or two, then 20 min earlier the next day, then two days later another 20 min, and so on. That way it’s less of a shock to the system.

    12. Sooda Nym*

      I’ll add my agreement to all those suggesting a sunrise alarm clock. Basically, I’d have a “nice” alarm and a “mean” alarm. The “nice” one is a sunrise alarm, makes nice bird chirpy noises, plays soft music, etc. to gently pull you from sleep. The “mean” one makes an annoying and loud noise. Set this for 10 minutes later than the nice one and place it across the room. However, the goal for the mean alarm is to be out of bed and turn the alarm off so you never have to hear it (rather than using it to force yourself out of bed to turn it off).

      Also agreeing with anything you can do to make it light in your house (lamps on timers, etc.) and I will add to try to have it be warm when you get out of bed. I have a timed thermostat and set it to be a few degrees warmer, starting about a half hour before I need to be up, and lasting my whole “get ready” time. A space heater in the bathroom if it’s cold, so you don’t have to take clothes off when it’s freezing (or think about showering before bed if that works better). Cold and dark just makes you want to go back to bed.

      You’ll have to think about whether it’s better for you to have “extra” time in the morning to indulge in an activity you enjoy and fully wake up, or if it’s better just to get everything set up so you can be on “auto-pilot” in the mornings. I really think that’s down to personal preference. And as to working back to an earlier bedtime gradually, I, personally, have always found it’s easier to let the “jet lag” happen, as long as I’m prepared for it. Don’t plan any evening activities for the first week, so once you start to be tired in the evenings, you can start going to bed earlier.

      One warning: the transition is temporary, but where you end up is long-term, so watch out for letting bad habits develop with the excuse that they are just temporary. For example, hitting snooze too many times, or having too many cups of coffee, etc. Those types of behaviors become habits really quickly and can be pretty hard to shake. Good luck!

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Oh, you’re so right about the warmth! I had a whole system of ways to be warm when I got out of bed, which I completely forgot until you said that. Otherwise I’d never want to get out of the blankets. Meanwhile I also keep it cold when it’s time to go to bed and fire up the electric blanket – and I’m out in 30 seconds most nights.

    13. coffee is my friend*

      College prof who gets up at 8 between semesters and 6 during the semester. unlike a lot of other commenters, I gave up easing into it! Week 1 I simply make sure everything is ready the night before to limit thinking in the morning. The first week stinks but I run on week 1 adrenerline during the day so the main impact is being tired once I get home. This then helps we go to bed early. After week 1 I still keep my morning routine very simple, but by then I’ve managed to reset my sleep schedule. (Def important to stick to a bedtime, use natural light in the morning, and have an alarm that works for you).

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Young me did a lot of retail work and worked all kinds of crazy hours. I never had a sleep schedule. It wasn’t until I got a 40 hr/wk job, M-F that I had to tighten up my habits.

      The hardest thing I did was make myself get up at the same time each day. I had a huge problem with longing for the weekend when I could sleep in a bit. I was obsessed. So I stopped letting myself sleep in and I opted for naps later in the day. Secretly, I did not like sleeping to 11 or later. It was kind of depressing to get up and realize the day was half over. It turned out that getting up at the same time every day made everything so much easier. I stopped yearning for the days where I could sleep in. I became more disciplined about keeping to a set bed time.
      Then… whooops, I found out that I was having a hard time foregoing “my” tv shows in favor of rest. It took time but eventually I just stopped watching tv entirely. It’s been years. I don’t have a working tv. If I want to watch something I look around on YouTube for something interesting. Now I think about all those hours I spent just watching tv and it almost feels like I wasted so much time. I don’t miss it and I never thought I would be able to say that.

    15. DinosaurWrangler*

      This from a natural night person who had to force herself to behave like a morning person for work:

      1. Start now. Get up at 5:45 every day. And don’t take any naps. This will be murder after about 3 days (the first day might be deceptively easy) but you’ll soon begin to be able to go to bed earlier and get a decent amount of sleep. (Don’t bother trying to go to bed earlier on the eve of that first 5:45 alarm, you’ll just toss&turn because you won’t be tired).

      2. (This one is hard). Do not sleep late on the weekends. You’ll slip back to your old schedule, and every Monday and most Tuesdays you’ll feel jet-lagged.

      3. Do everything the night before that you’ll need in the morning. This so you avoid having to make any decisions in the A.M. Set out all your clothes, pack your lunch, put your backpack/tote near the door, coat/hat/boots ready to go. And set up the coffeepot so all you need to do is push the button in the morning.

      4. If you’re a “hit the snooze button” type, figure that into your time. Use 2 alarm clocks if there’s a danger of sleeping through the first alarm, or of hitting the snooze button in your sleep (don’t ask me how I know this……). If you’re not a jump-out-of-bed-the-second-the-alarm rings type, you’ll probably not turn into one.

      5. If you need to take 20 minutes to drink your coffee while staring vacantly into space as you finish waking up, set a timer when you pour your coffee. But avoid any puttering – it can suddenly eat time without you realizing it.

      I’ve been a snooze-button-pusher and a wake-up-while-puttering-silently person, a double-whammy combination for a night person who has to get up early. It will get less difficult. (as opposed to “easier”). Natural morning people will never understand any of this! Luckily my partner completely gets that my lack of verbal communication during the first hour of the morning is perfectly normal!

      Good luck.

    16. OTGW*

      Any time I have to reset my inner clock, I force myself to get less than 5 hours of sleep and then staying up until I deem my new regular bedtime. I usually only need one night to reset, but if it was really bad, I’d need 2-3. It’s not the most healthy but lol I’m here for a good life not a long one and nothing else works quite like being exhausted.

      Also once I started making my meals the night before (whether that’s making a larger portion dinner for leftovers or whatever) my mornings are SO much less stressful. I use those extra ~15 minutes to sleep in.

    17. anonagain*

      I woke up at 4am. Building on the “know what type of morning person you are” theme: my general strategy is to wake up at the last possible minute. If I wake up earlier than I need to, I waste time and end up late. Waking up only as early as I need to keeps me focused.

      At other times in my life, I’ve used the strategy of waking up and doing something enjoyable first. This helped cut down on sleep procrastination when I was working in a job I didn’t like. Making your commute as comfortable as possible and finding some kind of treat to incorporate can also help. (I used to have a public transit commute and I would save certain books just for commute reading.)

      Good luck with getting up early and with the new job!

    18. HannahS*

      I use a light alarm clock, just the basic Philips model. It helps immensely. The other thing is to move my bedtime around, which is much easier said than done. Like, if I’m used to going to bed at 11:00, and then now I have to go to bed at 10:00, it feels weird and wrong. It’s not bedtime! But it’s important to power through that feeling and GO TO BED.

      Also, watch your caffeine rhythms. I never thought I was hugely sensitive to caffeine until I stopped drinking any in the 12 hours before bedtime. Suddenly I realized….yeah, it was affecting my sleep! When I have to get up really early, I have caffeine first thing in the morning and that’s it. On the weekends I’m more leisurely, but during the week I’m pretty strict with myself.

    19. Anonymous Luddite*

      About four years ago, I switched from a Start-At-9 to a Start-at-7 job.
      Thankfully, my partner is an early bird, so I just let them be their perky selves and do my best not to smother myself with a pillow.
      But for me, it boiled down to: don’t ease my clock back, just start getting up (in our case at 530) and go to bed earlier and earlier until I’m not a zombie (these days, around 930). In concession to my needing a slightly more gradual wakeup, we snooze and snuggle for 15 before getting up to the day.
      Good luck!

  22. Curious*

    Under what circumstances is it acceptable to raise your voice at someone working on something in your home?

    Under what circumstances is it acceptable to yell in anger at someone working on something in your home?

    (In my opinion // For question one: to alert them to a safety issue. For question two: never acceptable)

    1. Morning reader*

      You asked this yesterday so I’ll be curious right back at you. Are you the one being yelled at in this situation, or the one yelling?

        1. fposte*

          Well, you’re not likely to change your parent, especially if they’ve always been like this. So now your question is what do you want to do?

        2. Generic Name*

          So is your parent yelling at you when you are working on something in your/their home? And then when you say it’s not okay they argue with you? I guess I’d stop doing favors for them/working on the house. If they ask why, you can simply say you don’t like being yelled at.

          I can’t tell if you are an adult or if you are under 18, but your age and whether or not you live with your parents (and they are financially supporting you) makes a difference in terms of what you can do.

    2. fposte*

      Can you be more specific about what prompted the question? I don’t know that I’d have blanket rules on this. I’d have no problem raising my voice in anger if somebody was doing so to me, for instance, or if they’d promised to wear a mask and lied about keeping it on, or if they were doing something shitty to an animal. I don’t know that I’d do it, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it if I had.

      1. Curious*

        Short version: she yelled at a home repairman in public (outside) in anger because he was about to do something to our house’s water pipe that she didn’t think was correct (he wasn’t immediately, at that moment about to do it, so our house’s water wasn’t in any immediate danger and no one’s safety was at all in danger).

        She’s a person who doesn’t handle her emotions and anger appropriately and won’t listen when it’s pointed out to her. Her new therapist seems to be making slow progress with her, so that’s something.

        1. Generic Name*

          Ah, I see. I was reading stuff into your question that wasn’t there because my teenager is being very difficult at the moment. Ha. Based on what you wrote, no, it wasn’t cool of your mom to yell at the repairman like that. But you already knew that. :) Hopefully your mom makes progress with her therapist.

        2. fposte*

          “Won’t listen when it’s pointed out to her” is pretty much all of us at some point, though, rather than being a particular flaw of this person. That’s especially true if that pointing out happens in the moment.

          Right now I’m more concerned with where you are in this picture. I suspect that plumbers can look after themselves, and they have great power in their ability to down tools and say “Then fix it yourself, lady, I’m out of here.” Assume you can’t make your mother not yell–what do you want to do then? Options include making yourself scarce when a repair is happening to avoid the stress, apologizing for her to the repair person (but don’t assume their emotions or the value of your apology to them), your handling the repair people instead of her, etc.

          1. Curious*

            The repairman was a friend of mine & living on our property at the time; he was pissed at her behavior and left about 5 days later. She hasn’t connected him leaving to her screaming.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, yuck. I definitely get why that was a problem for you, but the “What do you want to do now?” question is still the actionable one. I suspect you’re pretty angry with her and what you want to do is make your mother understand she did wrong and stop yelling in the future, but, again, assume that that’s not going to happen. What do you what *you* to do now? Maybe it’s alert friends that this isn’t a good place for them to stay, or not to work for your mother, or you do the hiring in future and use outside workers.

              1. Curious*

                I guess I’m trying to fight a brick wall rather than admit my mother is currently a pretty toxic person.

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, that’ll happen. Unfortunately, all the commenter agreement in the world won’t change your mother, but it can be freeing to realize it’s not on you to change her and to make your decisions based on her staying how she is rather than an “if only.”

                2. Curious*

                  Yeah. I’ve been too passive and haven’t set boundaries in the past, so I’m not looking forward to how she’s going to react to that. It’s really hard to realistically face the prospect of cutting off a parent. It absolutely sucks.

                3. Morning reader*

                  That’s kind of a leap, from “tell mom the internet thinks she shouldn’t yell” to “must cut contact with mom.” Can you explore in between options with your therapist, or maybe a one-off session with hers to help you strategize?
                  I can see why your friend got out of there, but she’s not his mother.

                4. Not So NewReader*

                  It’s funny/odd but it’s in how our parents treat others that we ourselves can suddenly have a great awakening as to just how Not Cool the parent’s behavior is. I am betting if she did that to you, life would just go on. But she did it to your friend and it hit you between the eyes.
                  This happens a lot to people. They don’t realize how wrong something is until they are not the direct target of the wrong action/words.

                  There was an incident where my father cured my best friend from ever wanting to speak to him again. There was nothing I could do. She was correct. So simple yet so hard. My father doubled back on just how right he was. No, you’re not right, Dad, but you are OFFENSIVE.

                  To continue on I had to accept the fact that I could not bring friends around my parents. I did not trust my parents, they could drive my friends away from me. So step number one quit bringing friends around.

                  With my mother there was no hope for and I went very low contact. I did have some hope for my father so I “stepped off a cliff” and called him out on his drinking. He never stopped drinking, but he did stop drinking around me. And he did eventually stop calling me if he had a few. This was what a “win” looked like for me. To his credit he did what he could to keep and maintain some type of relationship with me. And I am actually proud of him for that. (He had many battles and I do understand that.)

                  If you are not already working with a counselor, please consider. You can also check out YouTube for videos done by professionals talking about parent-child relationships.

            2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              I am a little curious if the friend who got yelled at is an actual experienced repair person, or if he said, “Oh, let me do that” but she could tell he didn’t know what he was doing? That is a Thing That Sometimes Happens.

    3. RagingADHD*

      It sounds like your parent doesn’t care whether it’s okay or not. The issue is how to deal with bad behavior.

      If your parent is yelling at you and won’t stop, then stop working on the house and tell them you are done until they can be civil.

      If it’s another worker, and your parent is paying, then it’s up to them what they want to put up with. Distance yourself from the situation.

      If you are paying, apologize for your parent and try to get them out of the house when the work is being done.

    4. Daffodilly*

      I’ve yelled in anger at a furniture delivery person. And I don’t feel bad about it either.
      They were bringing a large piece of furniture downstairs. I heard a loud crash, but wasn’t able to see what happened. I asked if they were okay, they said they were and it “sounded worse than it was”
      When they were all done, they wanted me to sign that I had received the item and was happy with the delivery. He was pressing me hard to sign it and standing between me and the stairs to go downstairs. It raised red flags.
      I told him I wouldn’t sign until I saw it downstairs. He yelled at me that he did not have time for that.
      I walked around him and went downstairs. There was a closet door near the bottom of the stairs that I always keep closed. It it was odd that it was open. Went over and closed the door to find a large (foot across) hole in the wall! The furniture item was also broken.
      So yeah, I lost it and yelled at him. He had damaged my home, damaged my furniture and tried to hide it and intimidate me into signing that all was well. He yelled at me when I tried to verify that all was well before signing a document saying that it was.
      Mistakes happen, I would not have yelled in anger over the furniture dropped down the stairs. In fact, I didn’t even ask about the furniture, I asked if HE was okay. If he had admitted what happened, it would have gone down VERY differently. The attempts to hide it and bully me pushed me into anger. Sometimes you have to stiffen your spine and raise your voice to people who are trying to intimidate and bully you.
      And I called his boss and got the company to repair the damage to my wall and replace the furniture item, too.

      1. allathian*

        Your example is perfect for showing that there’s an exception to almost every rule. In this case, yelling was perfectly justified. I’m glad the company fixed your wall and replaced the furniture item, as well.

  23. DefinitelyAMonica*

    Not one to usually post something like this but I need some help. I’ve decided to move and have somehow come across three very different options (all with roommate(s) bc of a HCOL area). Based on the 3 options below which would you choose and why?

    Option 1
    – Move into an already mostly furnished apartment with 1 other roommate who already lives in the space (you don’t know the roommate prior to talking about moving in but they seem nice and normal)
    – Rent is a little more than your ideal budget but doable to still comfortably live/save
    – Apartment is newly renovated in a pristine building with a good landlord
    – Area is exactly where you want to be and are already familiar with

    Option 2
    – Move in with someone you’ve met a few times based on a shared interest and have gotten along really well with
    – Room is exactly in your budget and includes extras you weren’t expecting like a washer/dryer, extra half bath, a dishwasher and outdoor space
    – There is another roommate in the space who is friends with the person you know, they seem nice but you’ve only met once
    – The apartment is in a ok area that is closer to your friends and SO but the area itself isn’t the nicest

    Option 3
    – Move in with someone you met in a shared interest group who you think you’ll get along with alright
    – Move into an entirely new space that you will need to furnish completely
    – Able to set own price and area but they are pretty picky and you’re not sure you’ll find something that checks all of their boxes
    – They are also more lax about timing whereas you like to make a plan and stick to it

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I would pick #1, but if any options had more privacy / space to avoid roommates, I would do that. I have lived with a friend, with a craigslist stranger, and in a group house with a rotating cast of characters. The only factor of success was how easy it was or wasn’t to get away from them when I wanted. A private bathroom in a group house is easier than sharing a wall and bathroom with a friend. I also think being friends can kind of muddy the issue and it’s easier to be clear, direct and fair in a business style relationship.

    2. Max Kitty*

      I’d stay away from No. 3. It just seems to be asking for problems to have a “pretty picky” roommate with fundamental differences in how to approach things. You’re always going to be wanting to plan while they will want to wing it.

      Also, furnishing a place completely could add up quickly. Even if you’re looking at thrift stores.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      I would go with option 2!

      There’s always unexpected expenses so having a little wiggle room in your budget and getting a washer/dryer seems ideal. Living with someone you know of and being closer to friends is just icing on the cake. Assuming the landlord is decent to average.

    4. Llellayena*

      Options 1 and 2 are about equal to me and I’d probably base it on more conversations with the roommates. Treat it like an interview and figure out how cleaning, cooking, guests etc will work as roomies. I’d cancel out option 3, the hassle of finding and furnishing a place with someone you already have a fundamental mismatch with (planner vs not) would be a nightmare.

      1. PT*

        Would the roommates be amenable to an interview? Or is it such a HCOL area that the roommates will be interviewing you and you’re at the mercy of who to pick?

        When we moved to the Bay Area a lot of my friends had to go through a rigorous roommate selection process, just to get a slot in a random apartment on Craigslist. Think essays, new roommate interview “parties” (like Greek life rushes in college, with a large group of prospective roommates), then in depth interviews once they’d narrowed it down to a small number of candidates.

        We had an easier time finding housing, we settled into what was at the time a very uncool suburb that no one wanted to live in. It was a nice place to live though.

    5. Annie Oakley*

      For me, I would go Option 1 – I’ve been a renter for almost 20 years in various areas, and my main stress has always been the condition of the apartment and the responsiveness of the landlord. If you think you would be able to talk with your potential roommate and agree about house rules (guests, storage, cleaning), I think being able to be in a mostly furnished place in the area you want will feel worth it.

      I’ve been trying to get myself out of the habit of “the cheapest option is best” and try to evaluate more hidden costs/value. What commute costs would you have in a different area? How much would it cost to furnish a new spot?

      Good luck! Moving is so stressful.

    6. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      That’s a though one! I’d probably go with number 2, for the sole reason that, in my experience at least, it’s much easier sharing a flat in a group of three or four people as compared to if it’s just the two of you, especially if the two of you don’t know each other very well already. With two people you are in a way much more dependent on getting along for everything, while with a group of three or four I found it easier to just get partially along (in the sense of, flatmate 1 is great for weekend activities, flatmate 2 is on the same page for groceries, and so on).

      In any way, before moving in, I’d also have a talk about expectations for cleanliness, spending habits (how would you handle groceries or replacement of common furniture), desired/hoped for level of social involvement in each others lives, and of course how you would set up a contract and handle stuff like the rent, insurance, and so on.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Agree with this. In addition to chatting about cleanliness/spending/social lives, I’d also make sure you’re on the same page about:

        1. Expectations for having guests over: How often is reasonable for having romantic overnight guests? What about friends from out of town who want to crash on the couch?

        2. Everyone’s current covid precaution level. You don’t want to be trying to limit exposure while one of the roommates is out at crowded bars every night, but you also don’t want to be the roommate who is comfortable dining indoors while another roommate is spraying Lysol on everything you touch. Also, if one or more of you is WFH, will you be able to manage the space and noise constraints that imposes?

        1. DinosaurWrangler*

          Comments by YesImThe.. and fueled by coffee make really important points. If you haven’t had these conversations with your prospective flatmates, don’t make your decision until you do. Issues/lack of agreement with those subjects will do more to derail your living situation than anything else.

    7. Golden*

      I think I would pick #1, because the person already lives there and can give you an idea of what noises to expect from neighboring units (assuming they’re honest). I know neighbors can change at any point, but I’d pay a little extra to have some sort of firsthand knowledge of how insulated against noise the walls and ceiling are.

    8. Cardboard*

      I feel like this depends on what stage of life you’re in. Normally I would always pick #2 because I’m always on a tight budget. Now that I have a little more disposable income I’d probably go with #1 because I’ve always lived in older apartments that can be a little run down, in not great areas … so the idea of everything being new is kinda nice, and in a good location. I also think fewer roommates is better bc you have to share a kitchen and usually share a bathroom. But it’s also nice to be close to your friends and SO and be able to save more money … I don’t think either 1 or 2 is better than the other just depends on priorities. I wouldn’t even consider #3, too many wildcards.

    9. bassclefchick*

      I’ve lived in apartments y entire adult life. I was going to pick #1, but I’m leaning toward #2 simply because of the washer/dryer. I’ve never had an apartment with an in unit washer/dryer. It’s such a pain to go to a laundromat or share machines. Run far, far away from option #3. That sounds like a nightmare.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I would choose #2 because of the extra amenities, and it seems like the best balance of value and convenience.

      My second choice would be #1.

      I would not go for #3. It sounds like it has a low chance of success.

    11. Olivia Oil*

      #1 if you can comfortably afford it, since it seems like the only “con” is the cost. If cost is an issue, go with #2. Definitely not #3.

      Some general observations from my many rental/roommate experiences over the years:

      – Try and get furnished where you can. It’s a huge cost saver from having to buy and move furniture every year.

      – Unfortunately in my experience, whether or not you will get on with your roommates is unpredictable and a total toss up. My best roommates were people I had one Skype conversation with before moving in. My most terrible roommates were people I had met in person previously. You just really don’t know someone until you share a space with them.

      – Don’t underestimate the importance of living someplace you are comfortable in. This is a place you will be spending a lot of time in. Personally, if it is in my budget, I’m always willing to spend more to live in a place I feel truly comfortable in (however you define that).

    12. Kay*

      I wouldn’t even consider #3, and to narrow between 1 & 2 I would analyze a few things, in addition to some of the other comments mentioned.

      1. Are you going to spend more time at your place, or your SO’s/friends area? If they come to you more often, then option #1 might be the better choice – but only after having the conversation about what kind of guest policies you agree on.
      2. Are you willing to risk the relationships in option #2? Often times, as others have mentioned, relationships go south after living with people – and this can be unavoidable. If things go bad – is that shared interest group going to be awkward enough that you can no longer participate? Do you have mutual friends or would you see them at the corner coffee shop when visiting your SO?
      3. How much financial stability do you have? If you have lots of savings, a job that would take a prison sentence to get you fired and a financial safety network in place then option #1 is the easy choice. We are still in a pandemic, so if there is any chance things could take a turn for the worse, or you could say – need a new car in the near future – I might lean option #2.

    13. OTGW*

      I’m leaning towards #2. Knowing the roommate, having extra money, and some of the amenities is what really sells it for me. While a good landlord and renovated building sound pretty neat, I’d rather have the money and be closer to my friends and SO.

      Though when you say “area isn’t the nicest”—if people are getting robbed every day then lol please choose #1.

    14. Texas*

      I’d say #1. I think paying a little more (with enough to still be saving, etc) is worth it to be in the area you want to be in, with only one other roommate and in a nicely done unit.

    15. Lady Danbury*

      I’d go with #1. Met a few times and got along well with is nowhere near the same as knowing them well enough to know if they’ve be a good roommate, so I’d consider 1 and 2 to essentially be strangers in terms of potential roommate issues. The fact that the other roommates in #2 are friends could go either way, as you could become part of an awesome trio or they could team up against you when dealing with household issues. Also, #1 is potentially less pressure to go from friendly acquaintances to friends if you discover that you aren’t as compatible than you thought after moving in. Remember that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with have a roommate relationship where you are friendly and get along, but not friends.

      You don’t say whether #2 is furnished, but that’s definitely a plus of #1, as well as a good landlord (this can be a dealbreaker when issues arise, as they inevitably do). Location is also a huge factor for me. I’ve never regretted paying more to be in my preferred location, because there will be many times that I don’t feel like traveling far for whatever attractions make the location ideal and I’ll be glad that they’re a short walk/drive away.

  24. Swisa*

    Option 3 sounds the least attractive, just in terms of potential hassle, both in finding and locating a place, dealing with someone who’s lax, and completely furnishing a place (both hassle and expense).

    From what you’ve described, option 2 sounds the most appealing. Someone you get along with, nearby people who are important to you, in your budget with extras!

    Option 1 seems ok, but I never like having to stretch my budget, especially when there’s another good option.

  25. Sunshine*

    Hello everyone. I am looking for a little feedback on behavioral health technologies. I am working on a program for our community and I want to include some tried and true technology supports. If you have personal experience would you share your thoughts on whether you’d recommend? (anon please) My two categories are:
    Online counseling platforms. Not connecting with local counselors via telehealth, but the subscription based options. If you could share names and any pos/neg experience.
    Tech supports. I’ve explored a few (Calm, Insight timer, Superbetter, smiling mind, cbt-I coach, dbtselfhelp.com, cimhs.com) Again, if you have any thoughts based on your experience of other examples I would be grateful.
    Clearly, it’s necessary to connect many needs to professional support, but our community is severely limited and having tertiary options would be beneficial.
    Thank you so much for any insight you can offer.

    1. pancakes*

      I do not have experience with this, but the Wirecutter article “The Online Therapy Services We’d Use” looks like a good place to start.

    2. Skeeder Jones*

      I am pretty good at managing my emotions but I was experience high levels of anxiety when the pandemic started (had a car fire a month before the world shut down and the 2 together were a lot for me). I did like Calm for the breathing exercises but the one I really loved is Happify. There are little activities that you do that really would help me switch my mood quickly when I needed to and they were often things I could replicate later on my own. One example, look around your house/home/room and find something that you have positive associations with and reflect on it. I picked a photo I took of the Portland Headlight on a rainy day from a trip I took a few years ago and I reached into my memory to pull associations like the feel of the wind, the smell of the air, the sound of the surf and how it felt to make a dream trip happen. It’s something I can do anytime I find myself slipping a little bit in mood.

    3. ThatGirl*

      My husband is a counselor at a university, and in response to a shortage of counselors and increased demand they are partnering with Talkspace. He says it’s the best of the app offerings, though obviously everyone’s experience may vary.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Similar to Calm, I subscribe to Headspace. I like the different options…meditation, topics/lessons, sleep sounds, music, mini excercises/workouts. I don’t use everything all the time, just when I need them. The options for the topics are really good and, this sounds shallow but makes a difference to me, the voices/coaches are very soothing to listen to and I enjoy the graphics.

    5. Sunshine*

      Thank you for all your feedback. That happify app sounds interesting. I will look into these and the wirecutter article. I’m grateful for your insight.

    6. Lace*

      For people who have a Netflix subscription, it has several Headspace videos including an interactive one called “Unwind Your Mind” which offers some simple guided meditations.

  26. Bad Skin*

    Just wanted to thank the poster who responded to one of my threads saying their friend had to take steroids to get rid of a rash they got from the Covid vaccine. My rash cleared up a few days into taking an oral steroid and it hasn’t returned in the couple weeks since I finished the steroid. So happy to finally have a normal neck again after dealing with a bad rash for eight months!

  27. CTT*

    Movies! What have people seen recently?

    I watched The Tragedy of Macbeth last night. Somehow, despite having taken multiple Shakespeare classes in high school and college, I had neither seen nor read Macbeth last night (and yet somehow chose to read Henry VI Pt. 2 for a law school project, so I’m not sure what happened there). So I have nothing to judge it against, but I really enjoyed it. The acting was of course amazing, but it was visually stunning. It had such a strong point of view and I wanted to pause every few minutes to take it all in. I’m planning to read the play soon and watch it again.

    1. Fellow Traveller*

      I took my 10 year old to see West Side Story, and it was so so so good! It was my first time seeing a movie in a theatre in over two years, and I debated whether or not it was in my risk comfort level, even though the theatre was requiring proof of vaccination and masks. But since it’s pre-assigned seating I could see how many tickets had been sold before I checked out and turns out there was maybe twelve people at the theatre.
      I’ve always loved West Side Story (the stage version, mostly) and I thought this new movie version really brought some thoughtful new backstories to the characters and their lives, and they solved the one moment in the stage show that I always felt didn’t quite work. I don’t usually cry, but I was definitely crying through the whole second half of the movie. There is something about watching people sing and dance and emote unabashedly that just really does it for me.

    2. bassclefchick*

      We just watched Gunpowder Milkshake on Netflix. Amazing cast (Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, and Michelle Yeoh, just to name a few)! Karen Gillan plays a hitwoman, so it is violent. But, if you just want a fun, shoot-em-up movie that makes no sense but entertains you it works.

      Otherwise, we’ve mostly been catching up on the Marvel stuff.

      1. Anonymous Luddite*

        Yes, Gunpowder Milkshake is the love child of John Wick and the 2016 Ghostbusters.
        Violent and ‘splodey but fun.

    3. Olivia Oil*

      I actually recently watched The Other Boleyn Girl for the first time and WOW it was a lot.

      It was generally good and I enjoyed it, though would have appreciated warning about the r*pe scene.

      Natalie Portman is just a fantastic actress.

      1. Olivia Oil*

        Spoilers below. Content warning for explicit references to sex and incest:

        The plot is just so weird!! A dad and uncle conspire for their daughters to have sex with the king. There is a scene where the uncle literally interrogates Mary about how many times he came on the first night they spent together. And then the part where Anne seriously tries to get her brother to impregnate her to cover up her miscarriage just broke my brain.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I’ve always thought Philippa Gregory was a bit obsessed with incest in her books. She also really doesn’t like Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth I for some reason.

          I’ve always understood there was no evidence that the Boleyns and Howards were pushing their daughters on the king in quite the way depicted.

    4. yesterday's toast*

      the producers (broderick/lane version).
      Apparently has much of the broadway cast. It was the funniest/campiest thing I’ve seen in a long long time.

    5. Pellegrino*

      Watching the Sundance Film Festival this week! It’s virtual this year, and individual film tickets are still available for anyone interested. Some great movies so far, including Emergency and Master

      1. CTT*

        Ooh, did you see “Fire of Love”? A lot of the film critics I follow on twitter were talking about it last night (mostly just in a “lava is really mesmerizing” way, but still!) and now I’m intrigued.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I finally got around to watching Monty Python last night. One of those that I’d been meaning to watch for a decade or so.

      The problem with cultural touchstone movies like Monty Python, of course, is that all the best scenes have been memed so then when you finally watch them the only parts that are actually new to you are the…less fantastic scenes.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. Monty Python is a bit dated now. You can see why it was innovative at the time but some of the parts have aged less well and others have been memes for too long.

        That said the Upper Class Twit of the Year show always amuses me and so does Close Order Swanning About.

    7. allathian*

      Eternals. I’ll frankly admit that I’m a bit Marveled out at the moment, but this one was entertaining, if a bit too long. I prefer my superhero movies to be at most 2 hours long, this one clocks in at 2 hours 36 minutes. But Chloé Zhao is a very talented scriptwriter and director, and I loved the diverse cast. Finally a Black, gay superhero (Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry), and a Black, deaf superhero (Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, who is deaf).

      1. Stitch*

        Eternals wasn’t for me. I found Icarus and Circe to be just so dull. The side characters were more interesting, but they didn’t get developed enough.

  28. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

    I’m looking for something very specific, and it may not exist. If it does, someone here will know about it – a nonprofit or private philanthropist who helps people buy houses. I’m a 50 year old woman with lower income, credit score too low to qualify for a house/townhouse. I’m working on all these issues, but my problem is time, time, time. My roommate graduates in April with her PHd, but we don’t know where her career will take her. If she stays in this city, then great, I have a place to live with my foster fail cat (I had no plans to have a cat due to circumstances, but we all know the universe brings us cats). I am absolutely, utterly terrified of being homeless. Housing is high here, and anything remotely affordable is scarce. I could handle renting a room again, but with my kitteh, Lagniappe, that adds a big degree of difficulty. I believe in forever homes for pets, so I have to make this work. Somehow.

    So, I have been searching for a nontraditional solution. I live in Tallahassee, FL, if that helps any. I’m open to many solutions, including the possibility that someone may have a rental coming open. Thanks.

    1. Sunshine*

      Having you talked to local housing supports.
      https://www.tallha.org/help-center
      I’m not in fla but there are good financial support options to get people in housing as a response to covid. There is also some low income housing options for people with disabilities or seniors or low income.
      Also habitat for humanity could be something to look into.
      Lastly this might be a little manipulative but if you have any health issues that would necessitate an emotional support animal I would talk to your doctor to have a recommendation written. That could help, particularly if you are eligible for any housing supports.

    2. Just a name*

      Looks like you city has a listing of resources. Talgov dot com / neighborhoodservices / landlords dot aspx.

    3. fposte*

      I would call 211 or look at its online equivalent and ask; I hear occasionally of such a program but it’s usually local or state. I’m guessing you’re already familiar with FHA loans? If not, look those up; they have more latitude on credit scores than conventional loans. You could also look to see if you qualify for a Habitat house.

      Am I understanding that your current roommate owns the place? Or is it a rental in her name? The landlord might be more willing to switch it to your name despite tarnished credit if you’ve been a reliable tenant; then you could swap in a new roommate.

      1. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

        My credit score is just under what FHA wants it to be. My roommate is actually my landlord, she rents the house from the realtor/owners. I couldn’t afford to take on the lease by myself. Hopefully she will just stay a few more years!

        1. fposte*

          Most people who sublet to a roommate do so because they couldn’t handle the rent on their own, though. The hurdle is likelier to be being named on the lease with a lower credit rating, and that’s why your tenancy history could work for you here. If your roommate is in a nearby PhD program, they can be great places to network for a new roommate, too.

          If it’s just concern about being officially on the hook, I can get that; it’s a lot lower impact to just sublet a room. But this could be a real opportunity, and it might also help you build your credit rating up. However, I will join you in hoping she just stays longer, since that’s the easiest route of all.

    4. HFH*

      If you have a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, they can be a fantastic option. I serve on the board of my chapter, and we have an entire committee dedicated to helping you get your finances right. The current cost of a build can make it slightly more difficult, but our chapter has homes from previous homeowners that they grew out of and “gave back” that could work for a situation like yours.

      1. Polopoly*

        That’s about right. When my daughter was born, my mom used to warn me that babies have a sense to wake up exactly when mom is going to sleep, shower or eat. It gets better. Eventually. And some hobbies they can join with you.

    5. WellRed*

      Credit score aside, can you afford to rent or lease on your own? If you can’t, that’s a bigger barrier. If your roommate leaves, see if you can take over the lease and get a roommate. You are in a tight spot dues to age (not quite senior) and what sounds like you don’t have any disability etc to qualify for programs (which tend to be useless due to lengthy wait lists). I’m in a similar situation.

      1. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

        I can rent up to a certain amount on my own, but it goes back to scarcity of affordable rentals. My roommate probably pays around 1200 per month for this house, and no way could I be qualified for that.

        1. fposte*

          Do you mean the rent is $1200 or what she pays after your payment is $1200? If it’s the former, talk to the landlord–for an existing good tenant, they may be willing to be forgiving on the credit issue, and it’s just about you finding a new “you” to carry the cost. If it’s the second, are you currently paying market rate on your sublet? Would a higher sublet cost be reasonable and give you the financial room to stay there?

          1. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

            I don’t know for sure but I think the house rent is $1200 ish. I pay $700 to rent the garage, which includes everything. It’s actually a fairly nice space, big enough for all my things and my many, many boxes. And one 15 year old cat. I do not want my name on the lease as the primary, because I don’t want to rely on finding a trustworthy roommate. Even if I was willing, I think it’s the calculation of income vs rental price that would make it impossible.

    6. AnonAgain*

      One thing to keep in mind about being a homeowner is the cost of upkeep and repairs. Ownership might not be the right solution for you if you don’t have a cushion of savings for those things that come up.

      1. Mannequin*

        OMG this! My best friend came home yesterday to a burst pipe; 24 hours later and TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS so far, and they aren’t even close to done.

        I would have a stroke over that kind of plumbing bill, that’s almost a YEAR’S worth of rent. I will NEVER be a homeowner because I can’t handle the stress of it.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Those policies very frequently exclude flood damage that’s not from weather, or just explicitly say “except stuff caused by plumbing”. (I paraphrase.)

  29. No Longer Fencer*

    My friend’s hosting a virtual baby shower for me pretty soon. Lots of RSVPs which is great but I noticed none of my cousins nor their mom responded at all which is highly unlike them. I also noticed they haven’t been on social media platforms for the past weeks which is highly weird since we’re pretty close. Only reason I didn’t notice sooner was I was sick over Xmas. Is there a discreet way for me to do a welfare check or something? They live all over the globe and I’m not sure what’s going on.

    1. sswj*

      Can you just send a quick message like:
      “Hey, what’s new? Haven’t heard from you in a while, sorry if I missed something – I was sick over Xmas and kind of hibernated for a while. Hope you’re staying well!”

      Just send a brief, cheery check-in and see what you get.

      1. WellRed*

        This. Presumably, you’d notice their absence and wonder even if you weren’t counting RSVPs, correct?

  30. fposte*

    I’ve been spending time with a friend with mid-to-late early onset Alzheimer’s, and somebody pointed me to the work of Teepa Snow on caring for people with dementia. In text some of it looked a little twee, but then I watched a video lecture (posted on YouTube from the Alzhei