weekend open thread – January 29-30, 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: Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper, by Hilary Liftin. Clearly inspired by the marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, this is an account of an up-and-coming actor who marries a Hollywood A-lister and finds that life with him is not she expected — and escape is not easy.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,028 comments… read them below }

  1. Sunhawk Rising*

    First off, I’ll say that I recognize that I’ve lived a privileged life where finances have never been a concern. My parents were financially secure enough that I didn’t have to take out loans for college. They have a savings account for me that is not for my day-to-day living but for big purchases (ie – I bought my car with it and can buy a home some day). I’ll get a sizable inheritance when they pass that will go towards my retirement. I recognize that these privileges have left me sheltered and not understanding of financial things that I should.

    So acknowledging that up front, I’m trying to understand these things and am feeling very overwhelmed. My parents have a tendency not to teach, just to do it for me; even when I ask them to explain it so I can understand, they just say they’ll take care of it now and I can learn later. They helped with setting up my first bank account when I got a job in college for my own money to go to. A decade later I’ve decided to change to a different bank and realized I had no idea what I needed to set up an account because they had done it for me (the bank staff was super helpful and it wasn’t hard but it struck me that I didn’t know how to do something so simple). I’m signed up with a retirement plan through my job but don’t understand it works, just trusts that it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. My taxes have always been done by my parents’ accountant; I had to change to my own accountant and they asked me questions that I had no idea how to answer, because the family accountant already knew everything. I’m thinking of moving out of my ‘cash under the table’ rental situation and realized I don’t understand leases and mortgages.

    Basically all of this is hitting me at once that I don’t understand a lot of basic financial things that I need to know. A coworker told me about a class at her child’s high school that was basically real world financial basics for teens and I really want something like that. I need some kind of class or video series or book or anything to give me the absolute basics like I’m a kid just setting off from home. Any thoughts on where I could find something like that?

    1. Excited Law Student*

      Yes! This is a bit of what I’ve done, though you might have to tweak it for your own style of learning. First, list out financial situations that you know you want/need to learn more about, and then Google them. First start out with basic google searches, like “what is this topic”, and learn more about the general summary of it. As you do that, you’ll start to find information that you don’t already know, and so on the next Google search, follow up those threads. Soon, you will have quite a bit of information, and when you run into confusion, Google search the direct question.

      For example: a list of topics
      1) leases
      2) mortgages
      3) bank accounts
      4) retirement funds
      5) investing

      Google Search: what is a mortgage?
      Search 2: what are the types of mortgages
      Search 3: everything you need to know about a mortgage
      Search 4: (any specific questions that Search 1-3 brings up)

      And if you ever come across a question that you simply cannot answer with an online search, asking in chat areas like this blog comment section, asking in an email to an expert (such as a banker or agent), or even attempting to ask your parents are all options.

      Hopefully this helps a little bit!

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        This is probably the best way to go.

        In addition, to help get you started with the list of topics, go to the library and find books like “personal finance for dummies”. They won’t be perfect, but its a start.

        Investopedia is really good for getting definitions and basic understanding of terms.

    2. allathian*

      It depends on how you learn. Do you prefer a class environment, or videos, or would a book do? If so, you could try Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson. I don’t like the “…for Dummies” bit in the titles, but I’ve read other books in the series. This should at least cover the basics so that you’ll know what questions to ask, and will understand the questions your accountant asks you.

      We’re solidly middle-class, and nowhere near as financially privileged as your family is, but we’ve been investing so that our son will have a nest egg when he grows up. I’m generally privileged in that I live in the Nordics, where college tuition is free up to and including a Master’s, but that doesn’t mean living is necessarily cheap. This is a timely reminder that we’ll need to teach him about personal finance as he grows up.

      1. Katie*

        Speaking of “it depends on how you learn,” scheduling a meeting and talking to the experts could be a way to go. Need to know what to do to set up a new bank account? What you did (ask the bank) is legit and will get you just the right info! Want to know how your retirement account at work works? Schedule an appointment or phone call with your plan administrators. For free, usually! You can prep by looking at the experts’ website first (I imagine your plan administrator and work place have documents online). Read them over, make a list of questions of what you don’t understand, ask those. Go away and think them over; if you have more questions, make another appointment. And don’t be afraid to say “I’m a complete newbie.” Or to just focus on one specific question til you understand it.

    3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Well, I’ve never had much money so I haven’t had your struggles, but for me, I just learned as I went. I think my older sister went with me when I opened my first checking account many years ago, because she had her account there and they required someone to vouch for new accounts at that time. Maybe the rest was all simpler then, but I got an apartment (several over time) and a job (ditto) and just learned as I went along. I mean, life’s not a class, so you don’t get a failing grade if you’re a little wobbly about tackling everyday things.

      1. Batgirl*

        It’s true that things are getting more complicated. I just bought my second house and there must have been a dozen more layers of bureaucracy and financial items as part of the purchase that I didn’t need twenty years ago.

    4. Clueless*

      Hey, I don’t share your same financial background and I still didn’t know how to switch banks and I barely know what my retirement account is doing. A lot of people figure this stuff out as they go. Googling things is not a bad idea. I personally also found The Financial Diet on YouTube and the Bad With Money With Gaby Dunn podcast to be really helpful. They both have a ton of content so you’ll probably have to search through it a bit to find the things that apply to you, but they’re both geared toward audiences with no financial knowledge and don’t shame anyone for that. I hope you’re able to find some good sources that give you the information you need!

    5. gsa*

      I like what “Excited Law Student” had to say.

      If you haven’t taken a personal finance course, take one.

      Look at what you earn and look at what you spend. The math will not lie.

      Both of our parents have been very gracious. But we do not rely on that for anything. We donate to good causes.

    6. ivy*

      Bitches get Riches, a blog run by two women in their ?early 30’s? is a fun light-hearted non-judgemental place to start finding out about some of these topics

      1. Katie*

        Yes! Understandable financial information and advice, with a healthy helping of “smash the patriarchy and capitalism!”

      2. Atlantis*

        So is WomenWhoMoney. They have a nice site that is set up for different levels of familiarity for financial topics. They also just published a book recently on Estate planning that I found to be helpful and very approachable for someone without much background.

    7. misspiggy*

      The site moneysavingexpert has what you would need if you were in the UK. It might be worth taking a look to see what kind of topics you’d want to know about where you are.

      Reddit’s Personal Finance subreddit is a good place to see other people’s lessons learned from the US, especially how to do basic investments, taxes and avoid scams. The page also has some good starter guides and tips.

    8. misspiggy*

      If you’re OK with text, the Reddit Personal Finance subreddit has some good starter guides, and lots of posts sharing experiences of how to invest, how to deal with banking problems, and how to avoid scams.

      The most useful and easy-to-understand financial advice site I’ve seen is moneysavingexpert, for UK finance issues. It might still be worth a read if you’re not in the UK, to get an idea of the types of topics to Google.

    9. Asenath*

      I’m a fan of doing things bit by bit, that is, if I needed to learn it, I figured it out – looked it up, checked with professionals (like you did with the bank and the accountant). I also think that I remember things better when I actually do them, and discovered that with some things like taxes and retirement plans, the rules change from time to time so I’d need a refresher anyway. But if you learn better from courses, I’d combing Googling for online information with some local course that can focus on local laws and requirements. Often local colleges,, governments or non-profit associations offer such things, and of course any company you’re planning on doing financial business with will provide you with information that you can check against other sources. And maybe you will decide to outsource some things – after many decades of doing my own taxes, I started hiring an accountant when they got a little complicated, and think it’s worth it. A financial planner – took two attempts to find one; first time I got one who was most interested in selling me things – can give you an overview of your current financial status and what you need to do for retirement, including whether or not your company’s plan will be sufficient, whether you are making the best use of it, and the reasons for these opinions. Don’t feel so bad that you haven’t learned this sort of thing yet; even the student who took one of those courses in high school probably forgot it all by the time she took out her first mortgage! And there’s a ton of information out there.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      Honestly, I’d go for an adult education class at the local high school, if they have it. Twice a year I get a catalog from the town’s Board of Education and it lists all the adult ed classes they’re offering for the spring or fall. There’s always a basic financial education class in there. If your town/city doesn’t have anything like that, check with your bank. I work at a bank and every bank I’ve worked for has had a basic financial ed program for the community. It’s specifically geared towards people who haven’t been taught the basics in their younger years, or maybe they want to brush up on their knowledge. Usually it’s free and open to anyone. Sometimes it’s just one sessions, but other times it might be a few sessions.

      If you’d prefer to learn on your own, check out the FDIC’s Money Smart program. I’m going to link to it, but if you don’t want to wait, go to fdic(dot)gov and search for Money Smart. There are several versions: one for people teaching the program, which includes all the participant guides you can download right now to PDF (“Teach Money Smart”); one for people who want to learn Money Smart (“Learn Money Smart”); and a new version for learners called “How Money Smart Are You?”, which contains games for learning. It’s all completely free and you can do it online.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Seconding the community education class idea if it’s available where you live. My local community has one on basic financial info. Their classes are affordable and comprehensive.

      2. KittyCardigans*

        Check your local public library, too! Mine recently had a series on personal finance that was targeted at people in their 20s but open to anyone.

        If you have a nearby university, they might have speakers/classes that are open to the public, as well.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I think you are doing great with your approach to this problem. My father did not teach me about money because he did not know. Depression kid and all that. Once I decided to spend the rest of my life learning things about money, I felt better about everything.

      I read up on stuff on an as needed basis. I took a finance course at church. I also did an accounting course at a community college, which was super helpful in an odd way. I learned how businesses think about money and I found tidbits that I could apply to my own financial decisions at home. My father thought it would make me a better employee because I would learn to look at money through the eyes of employers.

      It’s also really good to realize that stuff changes all the time. So I don’t think many people stay on top of “everything”.

      One of the first “big” decisions I faced with money was to identify where I was on the range of conservative to high risk taker.* After I picked that out and was able to describe ME, other decisions fell in place behind that. I have a very low tolerance (psychological) for taking risks. This was driven by a gut feeling or intuition or something. But the way my life played out it was the absolute correct choice for me. The numbers bear out on that one. Always remember if your gut is screaming nooooo, pay attention and, find out more information before you make a particular financial move.

      *Being very low risk tolerance lead me to not doing leases for anything; not buying new cars; avoiding unnecessary loans/debts; paying promptly and sometimes annoying others because of concern about an outstanding bill; I did not listen to how much house the loan officer said I “could” afford; I got one credit card and I have kept it for decades; and when raises were announced at work, I did not plan on that raise until I actually saw it on my pay stub. This all has served me well. We paid off our educations, I paid off my husband’s catastrophic medical bills and in 17 months my house will be paid for. It’s been a journey.

      I realize that your setting is different, but I am offering this as a way you can start thinking about setting rules of thumb for you to live by. Try to think about how much risk you are willing to take on in general- where do you start to get uncomfortable? Don’t answer here because your answer will change as the decades go by, this is a thing that you tweak according to stage of life.

    12. Purt’s Peas*

      Do you have a friend you trust, who’s generally pretty competent and answers questions without being patronizing? Ask if you can sit down with them and ask them some questions, or if they’ll help you with some of the stuff you’re trying to get in order.

      It sounds to me like you have a lot of shame around this. It’s ok to not know this stuff, and it’s ok that you feel how you feel, you just can’t let it stop you.

      A kid might be doing their taxes for the first time and not know what they need; they’ll turn to a parent, a roommate, a friend, a group chat and be like, “should I have a form W-2??? What??” and then they’ll get answers! Or, a kid looking for their first apartment might be doing so when the rest of their cohort is graduating: “oh, are you looking on craigslist? Cool…” (quietly takes notes) “I found a place that’s month to month, no it doesn’t have heat/hot water included, is that normal…?”

      What I’m trying to say is that people, especially young people but really everyone, are learning this stuff from others—very few people had their parents sit them down and teach them about form 1095-B, or took a class. That means that many people don’t really know all the stuff you feel like they do know, AND it means that people are very prepared to offer guidance and support.

      Absolutely ask questions. I think that more areas than not will be like opening that account at the bank—people are helpful, and want to do right by you, and explain the stuff that they used to find hard.

    13. GoodForYou*

      Great suggestions here, and good for you for wanting to get financially empowered! I recommend starting with a Suze Orman book. She gives clear, easy to follow advice and explanations. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke is a good one to start with even if you don’t identify as all those things :)

      If you’re doing internet research like some others suggested, NerdWallet is a great source

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      I second all the great advice already given here. Also, if you’re comfortable with it, have a sit down (or three) with your parents’ accountant and/or your own and ask away! In addition to the advice given above, you may want to ask about your tax situation and what perhaps you could be doing to minimize your taxes owed.
      Please don’t carry any shame about not knowing this stuff. In general, we are woefully under preparing our next generations to handle their money and personal business.
      And not for nothing, I’m a CPA and an exec level finance person and when I have to fill out a W-4 I always have to really think about it because it IS SO STUPIDLY WORDED!! Could the government make it more confusing? I doubt it. lol

    15. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

      My parents were mainly the “ My parents have a tendency not to teach, just to do it for me; even when I ask them to explain it so I can understand, they just say they’ll take care of it now and I can learn later.” variety also.

      The advice here about finances is solid. If there are other domains where they didn’t teach you, there are books and YouTube videos for those too. I love the book “Unf*ck Your Habitat”, and the YouTube series “Dad, How Do I?”

    16. Clisby*

      When you say you don’t know what your retirement plan is doing – do you not get regular statements from the plan? (I’m retired now, but seems like when I was working I’d get quarterly reports showing how much I contributed, how much the company contributed, any earnings, that kind of thing.)

    17. Financial Help*

      When I needed to learn about finances I read a lot of books about finance – but in a range.
      The Wealthy Barber was one of my favorites because it told a story so It was easy to ready but gave a big picture view of finance and building wealth.
      I also loved Girl, Get your Money Straight by Gilinda Bridgeforth. She was writing from a getting out of debt point of view, but it was valuable because I learned how to could avoid it.
      I also read Rich Dad, Po0r Dad and anything by Suzie Ormond. I don’t necessarily subscribe to any of their philosophies, but took all the information to get my own understanding.
      I have nieces are soon to be college grads and I got them the Clever Girls Guide to Finance, by Bola Sukunbi – there is a whole series of books. Her website clevergirlsguide offers free financial courses. Financial education is a journey and it never ends. As your life changes so do you finances. Being in control of your finances is a lot less stressful than hoping they work out.

    18. Ice Bear*

      My parents didn’t teach me anything about finances or retirement either. I learned as I went. I think it helps that I’m a naturally curious person so I like learning about all sorts of topics.

      Sometimes your local library will have courses. I also love the Dummies series. They have a Finances for Dummies book which I think is a nice jumping off point because from there you can decide what topics you’d like to explore more in-depth. I also really like Money magazine for tips and tricks.

    19. Lady Alys*

      There is a book called, “The Simple Path to Wealth: Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life” by J. L. Collins that started as a blog category on his web site and turned into this book, aimed at his then-19yo daughter, that might be a good place to start.

      If you end up talking to a professional, make sure that person is a FIDUCIARY – fiduciaries are legally obligated to give you advice based on YOUR best interests, instead of selling you something that primarily benefits THEM.

    20. Katie*

      “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties” by Beth Kobliner might fit the bill. It was last revised in 2017. Your library may have it!

    21. RagingADHD*

      I agree with another poster upthread that your most direct & comprehensive approach will be to talk to your parents’ accountant and your own.

      If your folks’ accountant is a responsible professional who takes generational wealth seriously, they are probably dying to step in and educate you, first on how to be fully independent, and then on how to manage the legacy you will receive.

      It is not their place to approach you, that would be an overstep. But they already know how sheltered your parents have kept you, and I’d bet they will eagerly step up to help.

    22. PT*

      Most states/cities have a tenants’ websites that explains the ins and outs of tenants law in that state/city, if you Google for it.

      I learned about leases back in Ye Olden Days (OK, 2007) when I lived in Boston, by downloading the city’s Good Neighbor Handbook. Now it’s a searchable website, which is much better. It assumed the reader was a first-time tenant, and also included tips on what scams to watch out for.

    23. Mostlyalurker*

      I’m in the same boat with feeling like my parents never taught me about finances- it’s nothing to be embarrassed about and now you’re learning! I’m working my way through a course called Slay the Stockmarket and it’s been really helpful for figuring out step by step how to get myself organized financially and how to understand investing. She teaches basic budgeting too if that’s something you need to learn. I found her on Instagram (I know) but its been really useful for me

    24. Elephants and beagles*

      I work in a call center for an agency that administers retirement plans. I talk to people every day who have no idea how their plan works, so please don’t think everyone else knows except you. You’re wise to figure this stuff out now. My agency has a ton of videos on our website – your retirement plan may have something similar.
      And although I haven’t used them for this particular subject, Khan Academy has a personal finance section with free, short videos broken into specific topics.

    25. Mary Fleming*

      When my kids graduated from college I gave them the book Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties. They all said it was so helpful. Although we also helped them learn the basics. Good luck. You will do great. I was raised with my parents doing all the financial work for me and I floundered on my own. That is why I wanted to teach my kids so they wouldn’t struggle as well.

    26. Miel*

      Regarding leases: it took me signing like five leases to be able to (mostly) understand them. At the beginning, I asked a family friend who is familiar with leases to help me figure out what it meant. That helped. (Google also helps, as does reading the document several times over.)

      Regarding mortgages: There are several organizations in my area that offer “first time homeowner” classes. It’s typically 8 hours and they talk about mortgages. I’ve heard they’re great.

      Regarding taxes: okay, your taxes might be more complicated than mine, if you have a bunch of stocks or something. But. I firmly believe that almost every person is capable of doing their own taxes, no accountant needed. There are a number of software packages that will walk you through the process. If you use something like FreeTaxUSA, you can file your federal taxes for free. (State taxes are typically way simpler than federal.) (Also, just want to say that tax returns are a scam. For 20 years the IRS has been trying to make it free and simple to file online, and TurboTax has successfully blocked it.)

      Also, this is anecdotal so take it with a grain of salt, but: I know several people who’ve goofed up their taxes, and it is not a big deal. My dad famously goofs up his taxes almost every year, and the IRS just sends him an additional refund or invoice. (I’m not sure how he manages to goof up so much, but he does own a house and some stock and had kids in college and all kinds of other details.)

      Anyway, best of luck to you! You’ve got this.

    27. Epsilon Delta*

      I really enjoy the podcast How to Money. Two guys explain financial topics, everything from mortgages to investing, and give balanced advice. They aren’t advocating that you save every penny nor advocating that you spend everything you make.

      I found it easy to follow with a fairly basic understanding of personal finance (admittedly I had a bit more experience than you) and after listening to a couple years worth of episodes feel like an expert now. They also have guests who have usually written a book or blog, so if their area of expertise interests you, you can check out their work.

    28. Texas*

      As a young adult starting out on my own, I’ve found the resources wiki of the personal finance subreddit to be a nice starting point for finding out what I should research further and what language/keywords to look for.

    29. Kay*

      Start taking in information, anything and everything. When I started out, in middle school mind you, I took accounting classes, investing and personal finance classes, you name it. Your local college will likely offer the same, so will your local municipality, your bank, your insurance company, the administrator for your company’s retirement plan, etc. Talk to all of them and take those classes available. You’ll know when you’ve ingested enough of the basics to take the next step.

      Sign up for newsletters from financial organizations – the Wall Street Journal/Barrons, Forbes, Financial Times, Fortune, (just start with a google search) etc. – often times you can get their daily newsletter for free without having to pay for their service – do that! Same with blogs and the money section of your home page – I remember MSN Money being a great source of financial info back in the day, currently websites like Slate have financial Q&A sections if you want a more casual conversation. Read the IRS FAQs, tax topics and use their interactive tax assistant on their site. Read lots, don’t get too set on any one bit of information you come across until you know more, and this will open your mind to many things. Keep in mind that much of you what you read won’t be relevant to you (at least now), your state, your situation, etc. but it will give you the insight and knowledge to start asking the right questions, as well as give you enough information to evaluate the information you are given.

      You might not learn everything immediately, but if you continue on this trend of absorbing information it will set you on a better path for the future.

    30. University Schlep*

      Have you checked out your local community college? Some of them have courses like that.

      Also just in general I got my young adult the two “Adulting 101” books (Burnette & Hardesty). While this is more general than what you asked for, it covers a wide range of topics that you might not have covered if you were as sheltered as it sounds like you were .

  2. mandy*

    Has anyone here done Stitch Fix or another clothing subscription box and if so what did you think of it? Was it worth the money and did you get pieces you wouldn’t have picked out on your own but liked?

    1. Pregnant during COVID*

      I’ve shared on here before that I am a big fan of Stitch Fix. That said, my last fix a month ago was a miss. I’m hoping that’s not the case moving forward. I find it helps to be really specific with your likes and dislikes in the profile, link to a Pinterest board of looks and styles you like, and check out their inventory first so you have a sense of what they have to work with. I use the Stitch Fix app which makes all of the above super simple. As long as you don’t have a super narrow style, there’s a big range to choose from. I use SF because I don’t have time to shop, online shopping is overwhelming, and my weight and body type have fluctuated a lot over the past five years after two kids. I also have a job that requires me to look polished but I don’t like to chase trends. So I am usually super happy with the items I get from the stylist and they almost always fit great (I’m short and curvy). Much of their inventory comes from a few places like Anthropologie. They’ve added more high end options you can opt in to with your budget range but I’ve found those to be overpriced. They’re best in the mid range budget in my opinion. Finally, SF recently added a Freestyle option that curates head to toe looks based on items you have already with the option to purchase other pieces in the look and I’ve used that function several times. It’s made getting ready really easy and makes me more confident in wearing things a bit outside my comfort zone. Hope that helps!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I did it for maybe six months and then gave up. It got me to consider items I never would have looked at in the store. I bought a few things, but it wasn’t enough for me to keep doing it. I found the clothing expensive for the quality, which isn’t the best, even when choosing the mid-range budget option. And my stylist kept sending the ugliest jewelry even though I told her I prefer small pieces. She kept sending huge statement necklaces and large earrings, both of which I hate.

    3. AY*

      I used Stitch Fix in the past, but I think the quality of the clothes is pretty poor for the price. I got frayed seams on some shirts after only a few washes.

      I’ve had better luck with Nordstrom’s Trunk Club. Although it’s more expensive, the pieces are good quality, and you can be more specific about the kids of pieces you’d like to receive.

    4. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Stitch Fix is my favorite out of all the “personal stylist” companies and works the best for me. I signed up for Stitch Fix originally to help develop a more professional style for work. For the most part, everything I got worked for me and i love a lot of the pieces they’ve sent me, some of which were completely unexpected. But at the same time, I’ve also had a few misses where it feels like the stylist didn’t even read my profile to see what I wanted (my profile says no dresses and I got a box once that had 2 dresses and a skirt) and I’ve also had boxes where it felt like the stylist didn’t understand what “professional” meant (like the time I got a box of black New York corporate fashionista clothes when my preference is more J Crew-ish). So it does take time to hone the system but overall I’ve found it to be super successful for me.

      Also be aware that Stitch Fix is moving more towards algorithms and AI tech instead of actual people picking your clothes. There’s a really great article about this if you’re interested in that kind of stuff. The article does also imply that Stitch Fix Corporate isn’t the best at supporting their workers as they implement AI so if that’s important to you, you might want to consider a different company.

    5. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      I’ve done it off and on and for the most part have appreciated it! The last time I did it I got a stylist who really paid attention to what I was asking for and found great options I wouldn’t necessarily have tried myself. That said, it seems like it’s worked best for me when I have had a clear idea for myself of what I was looking for (new blouses and a blazer for work, a maxi skirt, etc.) and can describe that to the stylist.

    6. o_gal*

      I’ve been doing SF for about 4-ish years now, and I alternately love it and hate it. My first 3 boxes, on a once-per-month schedule, were fantastic. Then there was a long time where I wasn’t thrilled with what came but I could find a few pieces. Then a period where they were back to being good. Then a long, long period where it was very obvious that the stylist was paying no attention to what I had picked in the past and what I liked on the styling board (where you click through pictures and pick whether you would wear it or not.) I hate flowery, poofy shirts, especially with bell sleeves, and that was all they were sending me. I honestly think they needed to dump overstock. But then I think they started on testing out their AI algorithm and the boxes started getting better. I also started rescheduling my fixes so they come only about every few months, and that seems to have improved things. If I were you, I’d try it for about 6 months, so you cross over a seasons boundary, and see how you like it.

    7. I'm Done*

      I just cancelled my Stitch Fix subscription that I started almost five years ago while living in Korea where it’s pretty hard to find clothing for American sized bodies. It’s been hit and miss. I was very specific in my profile but had a different stylist every time, a lot of who apparently didn’t bother to check it. The funniest/ most unsuitable fix was the one with the Daisy Dukes. I’m in the 50+ age range. I also found that many of the pieces were poor quality and often times wouldn’t hold up after getting washed a couple of times. Once I was back in the US, I switched to quarterly deliveries, but after the last two shipments were so completely wrong in regards to my preferences stated in my profile, I gave up and cancelled. My price range was mid to high.

      1. SpiderWort*

        I recently had a similar experience with Dia and Co. In my profile I specifically said I do not wear animal prints or anything orange… guess what showed up in my box? :D

    8. Jay*

      I have a Stitch Fix account and for a while I got a box every three months. It was very helpful a few years ago after I had bariatric surgery and had to figure out how I wanted to dress a body I’d never had before (and I mean never – I was a size 16 when I graduated HS and by the time I had surgery at age 57 I was over a 28. I’m now an 8-10). They sent me things I would NEVER have tried on and ended up loving. I have never kept everything in the box – usually it’s two or three items. I think the prices are reasonable for the quality but it is not cheap. I stopped getting regularly scheduled boxes because my closet is overflowing and I recently retired so I don’t need to buy clothes. I think it’s great if it’s in your budget.

      When I was actively losing weight, I bought a lot of stuff from ThredUp and they have a similar service – much cheaper and also a lot of fun. It was more hit-or-miss and I ended up sending most of the pieces back but it was a blast to try.

    9. Name Goes Here*

      I did Stitch Fix a few years ago –– I dislike shopping and was hoping it would help me identify pieces that suited me, without the headache of spending hours going through racks at the store.

      The first box was good (I got a skirt that I wore for a good five years after), but after that it went downhill. I felt like they were ignoring my descriptions of what I liked and was interested in. Cancelled three boxes in.

      1. Starling*

        This was my experience – great the first box, then ok, then blah. Because they didn’t seem to be listening to my feedback. Also – I prefer natural fibers, and there was a lot of poly/rayon/dry clean only that does not work with my kids+washing machine lifestyle.
        It was fun though and I still have a shirt in rotation 5 (?) years on

    10. the cat's ass*

      I’ve done Dia, Stitch Fix AND ThredUp, and they all started out strong with things I liked and bought, that I might have not picked out for myself. Then they went rapidly downhill, ThredUp being the worst offender-i wear a size 16 and was looking for business casual, and they sent me glitter! Feathers! Cocktail dresses! Stilettoes! It was like I was going to be an extra on Sex and the City. Which could have been fun but everything was a size 8. I think both they and I could have been a bit more diligent in tracking/choosing things, but I really didn’t have the time or energy and i cancelled them. My price range was med to high. Hope your experience is better than mine. Once it’s safe again, it’s back to consignment and vintage stores for me.

    11. Bluebell*

      I had a monthly subscription for a few years ago when I was still working full time in a business casual office. I kept 2-3 pieces each time during the First year but then tapered off. Yes, it was definitely more expensive than store shopping, but I liked the convenience and received things that I probably wouldn’t have tried on myself. I also agree that making very specific requests from your stylist helps a lot.

    12. OneBean TwoBean*

      I order from Stitch Fix periodically and like it. I started during covid when I needed new work clothes and wasn’t going into a store if I didn’t have to. They’ve got me to try some things slightly out of my comfort zone that I ended up liking. The clothes are more expensive than what I’d pick on my own (I picked the lowest price option and they are still pricier than my normal). I’ve found their customer service to be great. I’ve done a few “fixes” where the stylist picks the clothes for you and some “freestyle” orders where you select items yourself. What I appreciate the most is that shipping is always free and it is super easy to return items. I can just stick them back in the shipping bag and drop them into a mailbox.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      I tried StichFix, and hated it. I honestly don’t think any human person ever reads what you say, or evaluates anything you click on.
      I am plus size, and everything they sent was not great. Things I would never pick for myself, and not in a good way. I kept usually 1/5 of any shipping to avoid the stylist fees. They would also send me things that I asked explicitly NOT to send.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        I’ve always wanted to try it, but I’m allergic to rayon and reached out to the company and they couldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t send me items with rayon in them. Considering how difficult finding things without it has gotten even in brick and mortar stores, I opted not to risk it. I’m also plus size, so it sounds like it was a bullet dodged.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        I had a similar experience. I was very specific with what I was looking for in terms of style and color, and kept getting… 85% not that. I think I only had 3-4 shipments total.

    14. Mostlyalurker*

      I’ve been using Rent the Runway for about 6 months now and I’m obsessed. It’s a little different than Stitch Fix because you pick out your own stuff, and it’s a rental service instead of purchasing.
      But I love it because I don’t have to deal with laundry for my work clothes anymore, I can wear clothes that are waaaay nicer than anything I could afford to buy, and I get to rent pieces that I have tons of fun with for a few weeks but would never want to commit to purchasing permanently. It lets me explore more style and pattern and color options than I would otherwise.
      And an unexpected bonus is that I can get whatever size I need to accommodate changing body size, without spending a lot of money on a new work wardrobe every time my weight fluctuates

    15. Longtime Lurker*

      I’m an occasional customer, and sometimes have the opposite problem of what others have described -I get pieces that are exact clones of things I already own. Along with a few things that I’d like to keep. And then I have to do the math dithering “if I keep all 5, I get the discount; is it actually cheaper than just keeping the pieces that I really want….” (sometimes yes, and then I either have a back up or a donation!)

  3. NLR*

    I just finished Alison’s book rec from last weekend, The Maid, where the narrator is somewhere on the autism spectrum. Can anyone recommend other books with non-neurotypical narrators? I really enjoyed it and would like to read more.

    1. Who Am I, Really?*

      I loved the book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. First person narrator who is on the spectrum, a really good mystery too.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I loved this! Also, I just finished the Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, which I enjoyed but I’m curious about how autistic people feel about it because I can imagine an argument for not being thrilled with its portrayal of the narrator.

        1. Washi*

          I would be curious about this too! To me there was too much of a My Fair Lady thing going on of Rosie fixing Don which I found problematic at several levels (the trope of a quirky woman teaching a man how to love plus the implication that autistic people need to be fixed.) But I am not autistic so I would love to hear opinions from autistic readers.

        2. E. Chauvelin*

          I enjoyed it but I have to say that by the third book, The Rosie Result, it’s obvious that the author put a lot more work into understanding and representing autism than he’d done in the first book, which is enjoyable but more of a coded Big Bang Theory kind of portrayal. In the third book Don and Rosie’s kid is facing issues at school and the question of whether or not he’s autistic is raised, and it’s very much explicitly about the advantages and disadvantages of formal diagnosis (disadvantages being stuff like will he be put in a box), the line between learning techniques to deal with the neurotypical world and changing yourself in ways you shouldn’t have to, a side discussion on identity first vs. person first language, etc.

          Helen Hoang writes own voices romance novels with autistic main characters. The first one is The Kiss Quotient.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Seconding this recommendation for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It’s a fantastic book.

    2. allathian*

      (The) Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. I really recommend this one.

      “Lou Arrendale is a bioinformatics specialist who has high-functioning autism, and has made a good life for himself working doing pattern recognition. A new manager at the firm where he works puts pressure on his department, where many autistic people work. Lou is pressured to undergo an experimental treatment that might “cure” his autism. Lou does not think he needs curing, but he risks losing his job and other accommodations the company has put in place for its employees with autism if he does not undergo it.

      Lou struggles with the idea of going through this “treatment” for his autism while he pursues fencing with his “normal” friends and continues to go to work. His autistic friends, as well as himself, meet together after work and discuss what or what not to do.”

      Source: Wikipedia

      Would Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes fit the bill?

        1. allathian*

          That’s true, but intellectually disabled people are also neurodivergent. It’s also an intellectual disability when it’s so severe that the person is non-verbal or needs help to get dressed or to eat. It’s only the high functioning ones who can be described as smart, but different from the majority.

      1. ivy*

        I’ve just finished “When we were Vikings” by Andrew David MacDonald. Protagonist/narrator has foetal alcohol syndrome, not neurodivergent per se but might fulfil your needs

        I really didn’t like the Rosie Project! It made me really uncomfortable and I didn’t finish it…

    3. Blue Eagle*

      Just finished reading One Two Three. Three narrators who are triplets, one on the autism spectrum, one who is in a wheelchair and cannot speak but uses a voicebox from her keyboard. Very interesting book from their different points of view.

    4. Atheist Nun*

      Belinda Bauer wrote a murder mystery, Rubbernecker, whose “detective” is a medical student who seems to be autistic (I cannot remember if he was formally diagnosed). I liked it a lot, but it is painful to read because it shows how non autistic people can be prejudiced towards people with autism.

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

      The books by Stieg Larsson in the “Millennium” series — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and others — the main protagonist is on the autism spectrum.

    6. Kathenus*

      These are nonfiction, but anything by Temple Grandin. She writes both about her experiences as an autistic person and how she perceives the world, and books on animal welfare – an area that she’s dedicated her professional life to improving in the agricultural world.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Definitely try “Curious Incident”!

      I also enjoyed the YA SF novel Jillian vs Parasite Planet, by Nicole Kornher-Stace; young heroine Jillian suffers from anxiety, and I think it’s conveyed well in the story.

      There’s also the manga series With the Light: Raising an Austistic Child, by Keiko Tobe; it doesn’t have a narrator, but it does deal with many aspects of autism, from challenges to the parents and siblings to classroom issues and on.

    8. I edit everything*

      If you’re into YA adventure/light science fiction/alt history, try Laura Ruby’s York series. B1 is “The Shadow Cipher.” One of the main characters struggles with anxiety and is prone to catastrophizing, has “spells” where she gets lost in her own anxiety spirals. Also, she has a very, very cool emotional support cat.

      1. Anonasourus Rex*

        The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch. It’s a memoir (but reads easy, like fiction) of being diagnosed as autistic as an adult and trying to understand his life and improve his relationships and marriage in a new context.

    9. Rara Avis*

      Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon. It’s YA. Residents of a group home solve the mystery of the death of one of their friends.

    10. cityMouse*

      Don’t let the titles throw you off: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. The first book is All Systems Red. I looooooove this series.

      1. JustForThis*

        I’ve recently read the Murderbot Diaries which I loved, and I’ve also wondered about this. The narrator/protagonist certainly has some habits which may be associated with being on the autism spectrum, e.g. strongly disliking direct eye contact. The narrator/protagonist is also what is called a “construct,” i.e. partly a machine. I’m not comfortable with comparing being a cyborg to being on the autism spectrum, but I do agree that the implication may be there, and I’d be really interested in hearing how others read The Murderbot Diaries.

        1. anony AI*

          I second the recommendation for Murderbot. The audio books are even better and read by Kevin R. Free from Welcome to Night Vale. He does a perfect job capturing Murderbot’s snarkiness.

          I’m introverted, have anxiety and depression, and come from a dysfunctional family where I learned by observing other more functional people and found it relatable. I’m not on the spectrum, but it sounds like there could be some overlap in relatable characteristics

          I agree the series has the issue with not fully human folks being the ones who are different. The series is also lgbtqia+ friendly except it bugs me that Murderbot is basically asexual only for not being fully human and everyone else is poly for some reason? There are no other options in this universe. As an ace, I did appreciate that the sexual content is low and not the focus of the story.

          Thinking about it now, maybe it’s easier to talk about human issues semi-anthropormorphically and as an observer. I still love the series overall and they are action packed and hysterical.

          1. Very Social*

            Oh my gosh, I’m not a big fan of audiobooks but I love Murderbot and Kevin R. Free–I might just have to try the latest one on audio!

            And this whole thread of recommendations is great–adding a bunch to my TBR!

        2. Morgs*

          Hi, I’m autistic and the protagonist from Murderbot Diaries definitely feels like kin. Absolutely fair comparison. And fwiw, I feel like a robot some days myself. :)

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      I just finished The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth, where one of the sisters is on the spectrum, and really enjoyed it. Also Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

    12. I take tea*

      This is a memoir, some years ago I read Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Autism by Jeannie Davide-Rivera (Aspiewriter) and it was really a eye opener to me.

    13. Just a different redhead*

      I don’t think it’s explicitly stated, and may not even be the case… I also have watched the resulting anime rather than read their manga, but “March Comes In Like A Lion” and “My Roommate Is A Cat” really hit some resonance points with me. If you are interested in their styles, I highly recommend those stories.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you are game for R-rated romance, try Penny Reid’s “Neanderthal Seeks Human” ( book one of her Knitting in the City series). When it was mentioned in the comments on TheBloggess years ago, many people said “I’ve never seen a person like me in a book before.” Social anxiety, strong tendency to blurt out interesting facts that aren’t exactly socially acceptable, and an undeserved low self-esteem because she didn’t quite fit in with the people around her growing up. I like Reid’s other books too, but this one remains my favorite.

    15. Lucy Skywalker*

      I agree with everyone who said The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Nighttime.
      I’m not sure if Tourette’s Syndrome is considered non-neurotypical, but if it is, I recommend “Motherless Brooklyn” by Jonathan Lethem. It’s a murder mystery narrated by one of the detectives, who has Tourette’s. One thing that I especially liked about this book is that the protagonist’s disability is not the main plot of the book. The murder mystery is the main plot, and his disability is secondary.
      Another novel with a protagonist who has Tourette’s is “Icy Sparks” by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. It takes place in the south and is narrated by a young girl who has Tourette’s but isn’t diagnosed until the end of the book.

    16. Mimi*

      Helen Hoang is autistic and writes romance novels with autistic protagonists. THE KISS QUOTIENT is my favorite, but I liked the others, too. (There are sex scenes but her stuff isn’t super-steamy.)

  4. Random Name*

    Happy weekend everyone! I would love to hear stories of how you embraced body neutrality. Please feel free to share any resources that helped you in your journey.

    The fatphobia/discrimination I experience is nothing compared what people at larger sizes do. However, I do also face it so would especially appreciate content targeted to mid-size people (I think that’s the term? On the very end of straight sizes) as I do not see a lot of representation for this segment – perhaps I am looking in the wrong places :(

    A request: I know this is a hot button topic for a lot of people, but let’s please keep it kind! I would like this to be a helpful thread for people at any size who are struggling with body image. Please no comments on the lines of “you are promoting obesity” or “you aren’t even fat, what are you worried about”. I know most people on here would not do this but I figured it would be good to put it up to head off any concern trolls or gatekeepers. Thank you for reading!

    1. WS*

      I am very fat, and the worst of it for me is that I gained a tremendous amount of weight with cancer…while doctors told me that I obviously wasn’t sick, I was just fat and lazy. It’s meant that all my medical appointments ever since (and there’s a lot, as you might expect for a cancer survivor) have been extremely stressful for me, even when the doctor doesn’t immediately tell me to, say, lose weight for a sinus infection. Which has happened.

      The things that helped me the most in being more confident and less anxious were a) making myself think kind/nice things about other people and b) exercising. Every time I thought something nasty about someone else who wasn’t actively being horrible in my sight, I made myself think something nice about them. So, “ugh, that hairstyle looks awful on her” had to be followed by “she’s walking really confidently, she must really feel good in those boots.” It helped me cut down and stop the negative self-talk.

      The second part was getting in my bathers and going to the pool. Yes, terrifying, and I’m almost always the fattest person there, but (almost) nobody actually cared. And I get to move around and feel good doing a kind of exercise that doesn’t hurt me.

      I do think people at mid-sizes experience a slightly different form of fatphobia, which I saw when I was around that size. It’s more “if you just…[improved your posture, dressed better, changed your make-up, were quieter, shaved your legs]…you’d be a worthy person.” At higher weights, I’m just a lost cause so nobody’s policing the details.

      1. Random Name*

        I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis and the way you were treated by your doctors. It’s really frustrating when medical professionals, who you think would know better, behave this way – not at all comparable to your story, but I once had an ER doctor try to talk to me about my PCOS and weight (at the age of 16) while I was being admitted for having a 103F fever for a week.

        Interesting tips! I’m definitely going to adopt #1. Won’t lie, I am intimidated by #2, but once the coronavirus situation improves in my area perhaps I can try that as well. Thanks for sharing!

      2. mdv*

        I feel you! I’m super frustrated by doctors who think my weight is the problem, and not the underlying autoimmune disease that I have *successfully put into remission without medication*, but which still impacts my energy and pain levels on a daily basis.

      3. Potatoes gonna potate*

        @WS – I’m so sorry you went through that. Its sad that there is this bias against larger women.

        I had several miscarriages and was always told it was b/c of my diabetes and weight and “well it just happens, lose weight and try again.” At one point I was seeing an endocrinologist, bloodwork showed that my thyroid was messed up and all my symptoms matched – constantly exhausted, lots of body pain, unable to lose weight, no energy to exercise. She just shrugged and said “well try harder.” By the time she left the practice and I was assigned to a new endocrinologist, I was towards the end of my first trimester. She immediately put me on thyroid medication as high levels were dangerous for a developing fetus.

        PS I still remember that poor girl who, upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, was told that she can “finally lose the weight!” by the doctor who diagnosed her.

        1. WS*

          Oh yes, when I was finally diagnosed with cancer, my mother said, “Trust you to get the one cancer where you gain weight!”

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’ve experienced what you described all throughout my childhood, which really did a number on my self-esteem and body image up until my mid twenties.

      Finding a form of exercise that works for me helped lots. Growing up, I hated exercise because it was mandated at school, and made to incentivise competitiveness. It was almost always running or gymnastics. I lack both speed and agility, and have heard horrible things about my body in every single changing room from my youth. In my mid to late twenties, I started getting a lot of enjoyment out of swimming, yoga and taking long walks, all of which I can practice at my own pace and on my own. There’s a relief in doing it in settings where nobody around cares what others are doing. I can focus on myself, and what I want to get out of it that day, and that hasn’t been changing the shape I see in the mirror for years now.

      Something else that helped was gaining awareness of how environment was shaping my thoughts. Growing up in a small town where the wealthy popular people all looked a certain way. The casual negative self-talk around bodies and food I’d hear from women around me all the time. Realising how I’d internalised all that was a bit of a breakthrough, and as a side effect, I’ve gained more confidence calling it out when I see it. A caveat, though: it helps that I moved away to a big city abroad, because the distance in mindset was way more than the miles separating two countries.

      I hope at least a little bit of this can be helpful!

      1. Random Name*

        I completely relate to hating exercise as a child. My dad still tells me off for not having participated in any form of sport when I was younger. I was the fat kid and made fun of, so it just became a vicious circle where I truly believed I was bad at all sporty things and thus was never able to lose any weight. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve discovered I actually love walking and running. But I admit I do get frustrated when I don’t see it having an effect on my body, I hope someday I can be okay with not seeing any changes. Thanks for the food for thought!

        P.S. I love your username :D

        1. ThatGirl*

          I think we are in similar boats. I haaaaated gym class, I am not coordinated, lousy at team sports, hate to run. And I’m currently a size 16 and wish I had appreciated my body more when I was younger. But we can’t undo the past, and getting regular exercise I *do* enjoy has absolutely helped. I will probably never be much thinner, but I can feel strong and healthy. It doesn’t have to help you lose weight to be good for you.

          I do want to say, though, that all bodies are good (or at least neutral) even if you can’t or don’t want to exercise.

        2. UKDancer*

          Me too I always thought I was rubbish at sport and exercise at school. I wasn’t sporty, couldn’t hit a ball and was terrible at hockey, football, netball and anything in teams.

          It was only when I discovered dance in my 20s that I realised I loved dance and swimming and had no competitive instinct. So I was fine with activities I could do on my own.

      2. Asenath*

        I hated any and all kinds of team sports. I don’t react fast, except when I duck if I notice a ball heading towards me. So I hated exercise as a child. Eventually I looked a bit closer to home and realized that the swimming my family enjoyed and encouraged counted, and so did walking, even if I didn’t want to do the more exhausting long hikes that some of my relatives enjoyed. I even became willing to apply my “I’ll try anything” approach to exercise as well as other interests – yoga, karate, tai chi, aerobics of various kinds, and so on. Still all individual activities, of course. You’ll never fine me joining a recreational softball league. But I now know there are activities I like, even if some of them I only tried once.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Another surprisingly active thing to learn to do? Juggling. At first there was all that picking stuff up…. and then I decided to learn clubs, and some brands can be pretty heavy.
          Passing clubs, most fun ever!

        2. Lucy Skywalker*

          I totally have the same reaction when someone throws a ball in my direction! It is because I have a neurological disorder where I am unable to judge the speed of moving objects, so I always think the ball is moving much faster than it actually is and that it is going to whack me in the head.

      3. Random Biter*

        Include me on the I-HATED-gym or PE or whatever it was called at the time group. During childhood I was stick thin, all knees/elbows and gawky with it (the karma train has since reversed course in order to run over me and true to the female genetics of my family I am fat). I wasn’t one of the jocks or the gym teacher’s clique so it was a misery. When my daughter started refusing to go to gym class in high school I discovered she could take comparable classes at the local community college and get both high school AND college credit for it. No more trampoline/square dancing/vicious dodgeball, instead a self defense class. It amazes me that the powers that be in education don’t see why so many kids loathe gym class and FIX IT. /rant

    3. Service Dog*

      If you haven’t explored her work yet, Brene Brown does AMAZING research around shame and empathy. It’s been helping me reduce negative self talk (reduce, not eliminate…) because it doesn’t help. I consume far less glossy media, I focus on the things my body *can* do, and I let fatphobia sit with the owner instead of letting it projectile vomit all over my day.

      1. Random Name*

        I will check out her work, thank you for the suggestion! The ‘projective vomit’ part made me laugh out loud :D

        1. doubleplusgood*

          Brene Brown is amazing.

          I wonder if there are ways to find other positives. This may not be helpful so feel free to take it or leave it, but for example, my first thought as a larger person is that you have the best clothes options since you can shop at both regular and plus size stores! Neither larger or smaller folks have that option.

          1. Mimi*

            Unfortunately, in my experience that last bit isn’t actually true. It was *massively* easier to find clothes that made me feel good/looked good/remotely fit when I was a size 14 instead of sixe 16, and it’s worse at size 18 or more. And struggling to find clothes you feel good in doesn’t help with any of the other stuff.

    4. Batgirl*

      Do people commonly get accused of promoting obesity? That’s wild. I was watching a talk show where they were discussing some photography to showcase different body types and one of the pictures was a fabulous shot of a very big woman in a swimsuit, hands on hips, about to go into a lake. She looked incredible. One of the women on the show was made very uncomfortable by it and she parroted that line about promoting obesity. This had me scratching my head for a while! As if someone is going to look at that photo and dive into a refrigerator. If anything, it would make them more inclined to dive into a lake. I think of her from time to time as someone who is allergic to common sense and I had thought she was a rarer example than she must be.

      1. Random Name*

        Unfortunately yes! Maybe I’m hanging out in the wrong places haha. Love your take on it and I hope you don’t mind if I borrow the phrase ‘allergic to common sense’ :D

      2. Sunflower*

        Oh yes- I follow Self Magazine on IG and they recently had Jessamyn Stanley on the cover of an issue and the comments were so vile, short sighted and frankly disturbing. Some people in the fitness community issued some thoughts/videos that were truly insane coming from anyone, let alone people in a community who claim to be dedicated to everyone’s well being. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so upset by something I’ve seen online.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          That’s awful. I hate most health influencers. I have found a few good ones that take a sensible, reasonable approach and I’ll be happy to share if you’d like to know about them.

      3. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I love hte phrase allergic to common sense. But yes, sadly it seems to be way more common than you think. Look up any posts including Tess Holiday, Ashley Graham etc. Frankly, I think it’s just fatphobic BS. Lest I be a hypocrite because I’m pretty certain this kind of concern trolling isn’t aimed at anyone slender, I’m curious if anyone who was older in the 90s could speak to if this kind of rhetoric was around when “heroin chic” became famous.

        1. Lucy Skywalker*

          I was an adolescent in the 1990’s, and I was always either underweight or borderline underweight. I remember a few times when people thought I had an eating disorder (I didn’t) or told me that they were jealous of my skinny body. It always made me feel self-conscious. Seriously, people, don’t make casual comments about anyone’s body, whether they are fat or skinny.

      4. WS*

        Yes, any time someone dares to be fat (or even average size) in public and look happy, they’ll get accused of “promoting obesity”. It’s disgusting and demoralising, and I think that people who have devoted their entire lives to restrictive and miserable dieting really can’t deal with seeing someone fat enjoying themselves or looking happy or even being normal. I remember someone (who was about my size) who would pop up on a community I was on every time someone talked about eating and admonish them for not being “good”, and how people will think all fat people are terrible, so it’s not limited to thin people by any means.

        1. Batgirl*

          I think you’re on the money here. The woman in question did admit shed had her own food issues,and though she’d like to see “more average size” models, a fat and happy person was too powerful an image for her.

      5. I take tea*

        There was a maker of sportswear that got a lot of the “promoting obesity” nonsense when they rolled out a line of training clothes for bigger people. Because, you know, that’s logical.

      6. Observer*

        Do people commonly get accused of promoting obesity?

        ALL. THE. TIME.

        You are right. It makes absolutely no sense. But then again, if you read all of the other experiences, and look at the so called “science”, you will see that a lot about how we treat weight makes no sense.

    5. Asenath*

      I didn’t even know there was a term “body neutrality”! I went through a period many years ago when I had gained a lot of weight and really wanted to get at least some of it off. I got myself in a cycle of trying to lose (generally using fairly reputable methods, not fads), “failing” (because I gained a pound or two) and eating to celebrate or “succeeding” (because I lost a pound or two) and eating to celebrate, and beating myself up mentally whatever I did. And I had a lot of other bad stresses in my life at the time. One day I just decided I couldn’t do it any more. I quit all attempts at dieting (although I eventually began weighing myself at home weekly, which for some reason didn’t make me feel bad) because it wasn’t working – and also because I just didn’t have any energy left over for it. My weight did very gradually drift down over the years (and up, sometimes, but a net decrease) but I’m still fat. And I don’t really care any more. Letting go of the desperate struggles over a few pounds up and down was liberating, especially since it was tied so much to how I felt about myself. And I do what I want. I dress comfortably. I finally got back into exercise when I wanted to an was able to, including water fitness (I can’t possibly wear a swimsuit! But I discovered I could find one that fit, and actually wear it in public) and aerobics (Too hard on my joints because I’m so fat! But I found a group that’s willing to let me adapt movements and do what I can.) Letting go of the idea “Once I lose weight, I’ll…” was liberating that way, too.

    6. GoodForYou*

      Thank you for raising this. I just discovered Christy Harrison’s podcast Food Psych and have found it so helpful. She is very grounded in the Health at Every Size movement and calls herself “the anti-diet dietician”. She often has guests who are in different fields and they talk about a range of issues, not just nutrition or health but also stigma, how to treat yourself, etc. She also shares some really useful research about how long term weight loss from dieting is unsustainable, and how stigma and weight cycling (going up and down in weight from dieting) account for health issues seen in “overweight” people more than their actually size. I find it really healing and helpful and recommend to every one, not just people who live in bigger bodies or have struggled with food. Our culture fosters so much stigma around enjoying our bodies and food and almost all of us could use some counter messaging for that.

    7. Generalist*

      I strongly recommend the podcast Maintenance Phase, which is two clever, funny people dissecting fatphobia in its scientific and pop culture guises. Also, I have benefited a lot from the Facebook group Fit Fatties, although I think it’s not as useful as it was a few years ago.

      1. marvin the paranoid android*

        Maintenance Phase is so great! I picture Aubrey and Mike as little body-positive shoulder angels watching over us all.

      2. Aneurin*

        Echoing the recommendation for Maintenance Phase! Aubrey Gordon (one of the hosts) is also on Twitter and Instagram as @yrfatfriend – I find it helpful to follow body neutral/HAES/fat acceptance/etc. accounts on Instagram because it puts a wider range of body shapes/sizes in front of my eyeballs than I’d otherwise come across in (social) media. I like @unlikelyhikers (on IG) because they post a people in a range of bodies (fat/trans/BIPOC) enjoying the outdoors, which helps reinforce the notion that movement for fun isn’t just for skinny people. They also re-post a lot of posts so they sort of come with in-built recommendations of other accounts to follow.

        (In the gentle nutrition/intuitive eating space I like @alissarumseyrd and @thenutritiontea, both are in straight-sized bodies but have really helped me think differently about body size/weight and food.)

    8. Jay*

      I like the suggestion to catch the negative thoughts about other people and counter them – I’ve done much the same thing and find it really makes a difference. When I’m out among people I challenge myself to find one nice thing to think about everyone I see. It makes me much more cheerful, if nothing else!

      When I first started working on this I was very fat (I’ve since had bariatric surgery to regain my mobility). I started following fat fashion bloggers – this was before Instagram. They looked awesome. That community really helped me change my sense of what was possible and change my approach to clothes even before I lost weight. Look for one or two on Insta and follow the people they follow and hey presto! You will have gorgeous photos of people of all different sizes in y0ur social media feed!

      The other thing that helped me, as hokey as it sounds, was starting an affirmation practice. For a while I did three affirmations daily and one had to be about my body. It was HARD at the beginning and I thought it was bunk but my therapist insisted and she was right.

    9. I edit everything*

      I used to really struggle with the admonition to “love your body,” until I realized what it really means. It doesn’t mean “always think positively about the way your look and feed.” It means treat your body with love. Care for it, give it the things it needs to be healthy, and be good to it.

      I’m still working on it, and maybe that’s not “body neutrality,” a phrase I’m not familiar with, since love isn’t neutral. And it’s a hard thing to do. We get so many messages about “bettering yourself” and how to “improve.” But I’m getting there.

    10. marvin the paranoid android*

      My body issues have mostly been more related to transness than size, so please skip over this if it’s not relevant enough. To my mind, there is quite a bit of resonance (and intersection) between the experiences, so I’m hoping this might be helpful to someone. The two things that I personally found most helpful in accepting my body are:

      1) Making peace with the fact that my body would never be normative and that some people would always take issue with it. This is obviously a struggle to do, and an ongoing process, but once I stopped trying to force myself to somehow fit into normative body standards that were not meant for me, everything immediately got a lot easier.

      2) Seeking out representation of people who look like me and admiring the hell out of them. I can’t overstate how transformative this has been for me, just being able to see myself reflected in other people out in the world who are so beautiful. This is something I’ve had to actively work to find because the representation is pretty thin on the ground, but it’s so worthwhile.

    11. Smol Book Wizard*

      Following for advice, offering solidarity. Sounds like your situation is similar to mine.
      I am blessed in that the fanbase of one of my favorite shows (Critical Role) has a lot of good art of curvy, not-flat female characters. I’m a rather odd person, I suppose, but I think that’s the part I find the most helpful – seeing that the cool fictional girls I love so much do not have flat stomachs either, nor would fit in the sizes I regret no longer fitting into. For those of us who aren’t into fandoms, maybe try looking up “body positive art” of women in sports, or business clothes, or onstage in theater productions, whatever one prefers?

    12. Katie*

      Just saw a discussion over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about “counterprogramming with fat romances.” I’ll share the link below. I think having more (positive) representation of all body sizes and types helps with body neutrality.

    13. Fiona*

      I don’t know if you are a woman or femme but if you are, something that helps me is to remember how infrequently men are told to love their bodies or appreciate their bodies or to remember that their bodies are beautiful. Men and masculinity is policed in other toxic ways, but for the most part, their bodies are looked at as neutral tools. When I think about it, it actually makes me angry to think of the time I waste thinking about my body when I could be thinking about books, friends, politics, celebrity gossip, how the clouds look today, music, whatever. It feels better to be angry and a little self-righteous than to spend all my time telling myself to love my body. Body neutrality has been really helpful to me personally because there’s just way less pressure to feel a certain way.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I think I’ve embraced body neutrality before I learned the term. I’m fat, and I’ve accepted that I’ll probably always be fat. But my husband loves me just the way I am, and if being fat and middle-aged makes me invisible to other people, I don’t particularly care. The only time I worry about my size is when I go to the doctor. Most have been reasonably decent, but there’s the one who brought up my weight when I went in to get antibiotics for a sinus infection. I complained to the clinic about that, and I don’t much care if it gets me a reputation of being a “difficult patient” as long as I get the care I need.

        1. doubleplusgood*

          I found some medical studies about how doctors mistreat fat folks and keep printouts in my car to take with me to appointments now. I’ve only had to pull them out once so far and it helped. I used to work in academia and thought I’d try something peer-reviewed since docs probably get their share of weird stuff people looked up on the internets.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I hadn’t been to my primary care dr for a few years and I went last summer and immediately remembered why. I’m healthy – all of my labs are in normal ranges, cholesterol, bp, etc. but yes, I’m heavy and I gained some weight over the last 3 years – who hasn’t? (And it was like… 12 lbs over 3 years). And this very thin doctor immediately gave me a whole condescending talk about eating better and exercising more like I’d never heard of a vegetable. Even jumped to weight-loss drugs. I was so annoyed and frustrated and couldn’t say anything because I was afraid of bursting into tears. But I definitely need to switch doctors. I’m still mad about it.

          1. allathian*

            I’m sorry that happened to you. I hope you can find a doctor soon who understands that you can be both fat and healthy.

    14. University Schlep*

      Check out Intuitive Eating which sounds like it is more about the eating component of diet mentality, but it is about rejecting diet mentality including respecting and learning to love the body you have right now.

      Realize that it is a process and is non-linear.

  5. anon for this*

    I wanted to thank everyone who replied to my post last week about accessing therapy in the UK. I wasn’t able to send individual replies over the weekend, but I read the comments and I’m grateful for every single one. Everyone has been helpful in exactly the way I needed.

    I found a self-referral link to NHS services I’d have had no idea I could access before last week. In the spirit of starting from the simplest step I can take, before I lose momentum or start telling myself “it’s not that bad”, I signed up.

    Knowing workplace healthcare benefits may cover therapy was also really useful. I’m job hunting, and this is helping me evaluate potential employers in a different light (I’m physically healthy and never used my current workplace’s benefit, but the small company that offers no healthcare at all became immediately less attractive when I realised therapy may become an expense I want to make).

    So thank you, wonderful people, from this internet stranger who feels a little less clueless now. It means a lot that you shared your experience with me.

  6. Cj*

    My father-in-law’s funeral is at 3 this afternoon. The Funeral Home charges includes a $100 honorarium to be paid to the pastor. I’m wondering if this is enough.

    They added a $75 honorarium for the organist, and all they have to do is show up for an hour, play one hymn, and I suppose also some intro and exit music. The pastor, on the other hand, spent a half hour on the phone with my husband re what my FIL was like, and has to write and then deliver the message. My in-laws little church that they went to closed several years ago, so this isn’t even a pastor from a church that they attended.

    Should we give the pastor more, and if so any idea how much? It’s probably relevant that we are in rural Minnesota. I’m sure people’s don’t give as much as they do in larger/more expensive communities.

    1. LibraryCat*

      My partner is a clergy-person. He gets around $275 (USD) when he does services through an ecumenical organization he participates in. When contacted directly from his church it varies more widely. You’re correct that their time investment is more significant than the service itself. You can provide an additional tip or honorarium given directly at the service and it will be most appreciated.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I did a funeral in December, and this is exactly how the family did it. They gave me a card at the end of the services, which I was not expecting.

    2. Pineapple in hiding*

      The organist will have spent years practicing in order to become a professional musician, to be able to play the hymns and entrance/exit music, and spent a lot of money on lessons to reach that standard. It isn’t a question of “just showing up”.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes, but the pastor also had years of schooling. The question isn’t whether the organist is overpaid, but whether the pastor is underpaid.

      2. Cj*

        I definitely didn’t mean to dismiss the organists skill. I was strictly testing about the time commitment.

        1. Cj*

          If we do decide to give more, which I think we will, we were planning to put it in a card to give it to them at the end of the service like you suggested.

          That’s how it used to be done around here before the funeral home started adding something to their charges. I think they did that because some people were giving nothing or way too little to the clergy and organist.

          I’m not sure everyone knows they are supposed to be giving an honorarium. How are you going to learn this unless you have been around other family members planning a ceremony of some sort? And what if you have been, but those family members didn’t know to give an honorarium? So I definitely have no problem with the funeral home adding the charges is directly.

    3. Liza_jacks*

      Also from rural Midwest, and I think both are too low. We sent thank you card to pastor and organist with total of $200-300. They both had travel, prep, practice time plus the service. My condolences.

      1. Cj*

        Travel time does count, but in this case it’s only a few miles from their homes to this location of the service.

        He has been cremated, and it will be dark when the service is over, so there is nothing at the cemetery. Thank goodness because it’s pretty darn cold out. 15 above instead of 15 below like it was earlier this week, but still.

        I think we will give a card with $50 – $ 100 cash in it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Rural America here, I think area matters. I think those amounts are fine. And I think if you want to do more that is fine also. Additionally you could consider making a donation to the church later on.

    5. Minneapolis Mom*

      You can always add more! I will say our church, where I work as a pastor, coordinates directly with several funeral homes to set fees. They collect for the church most times. I know many pastors see helping families in grief as a major part of their call. I always want to make it affordable for families, so $100 is about usual for me in Minneapolis.

    6. o_gal*

      You can always give them more, but as other people have pointed out, the organist is not just showing up to play 1 hymn. They may be consulting with the pastor to determine which pieces to play that will be appropriate. For example, if you discussed how much your Father loved the outdoors and animals, they may choose to play “Let All Things Now Living”. They may also be playing more pieces than you are aware. They will probably be playing some background music during the service, which again I’m guessing they will try to make appropriate to your Father’s life.

      1. Cj*

        Other than a congregational hymn of the families choosing, I’ve never been to a funeral where the other music is anything besides the standard music funeral of that denomination. They will play some instrumental music maybe five minutes before the service starts but people know to be seated, the hymn, and I don’t know if they’ll even play anything at the end since he’s cremated so there will be no carrying of the casket out. I’ve never been to a service where they’re playing background during music yet, either. Possibly a regional or denominational difference

        I think the organist absolutely deserves the $75 that they we’ll be getting as an honorarium. But I don’t think it is to little, either, which is why I didn’t ask the question if we should give them additional.

        For additional reference, I do payroll reports for a Church. They have three organists that rotate, and they only get $35 per service. Other than the 20 – 30 minute sermon, they are playing almost constantly during the one-hour service counting several hymns, the liturgy, and before and after the service.

    7. Generic Name*

      If the family can afford it, I would absolutely increase the amount. If you can’t, that’s okay.

    8. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      Former long time church admin assistant here. The $100 is enough, believe me. While of course pastors need to be paid, they are also following their calling to comfort the bereaved. You are good.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Pastor’s kid here, let’s not dismiss the physical and financial needs of pastors. Yes, it’s a calling, but it’s also a job. Give more if you can.

        1. Cj*

          That was my thought too, especially since my father-in-law a member of the congregation of the pastor who will be doing the service.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        I would have thought that the pastor’s salary from the church was inclusive of providing funeral services to members, while the organist has presumably more specific duties that might not include this. But I’m always in support of paying people’s labor. And if you’re/the decedent not a member of this pastor’s church then it makes even more sense to pay extra, as you do for weddings.

        1. Cj*

          My father-in-law is not a member of the congregation because their Church closed a few years ago, and at that point they were at an age where it was hard for them to get to church anyway.

          I mentioned above that I do payroll for a church. The pastor’s there are paid an additional hundred dollars for funerals, weddings, Etc by the church itself. I’m not sure if the funeral was for a member of that church oh, if they give extra or not.

    9. PastorJen*

      As my username suggests, I’m a pastor. I serve a small church in Texas and regularly officiate at funerals. My church has set fees for different aspects of funerals, one of which is the minister’s honorarium, which they set at $200. I always waive my honorarium and I tell the family that. If they give me money anyway, I give it to the church. I do this because I’m already paid a salary by the church and consider funerals to be part of my work. Additionally, I am privileged and since this is a second career for me, I have savings and do not need the extra income as much as many pastors do. That having been said, many pastors could use the extra money, as pastors at most small churches are not paid a lot (most small churches cannot afford to pay high salaries) and many have student loans from seminary/grad school to consider, as well. If you can afford to give more generously than $100, I’m sure the pastor would appreciate it. Also, I’m very sorry to hear about your father-in-law.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      For our wedding 13 years ago in a Milwaukee suburb – which I am comparing to a funeral only in the sense that it required prep time and event time with a pastor, we gave the pastor $400. I can’t remember if that included the building fee. (I don’t think it would have been unreasonable to charge a separate fee for building use – we used electricity and bathrooms, etc.)

    11. I edit everything*

      This is how it’s done in our area. The funeral home handles the $100, so my clergy spouse always gets a little envelope from the funeral director with a check for $100. Sometimes the family gives additional, usually in a card. It tends to be those families for whom my spouse did a lot of visits and counseling and support along the way, not just after death. He would be very surprised to get extra from a family he doesn’t know, for whom he only did the funeral.

      He never asks for money; the funeral home’s payment is automatic, and the family would have to go out of their way to cancel it. But extra is always appreciated in our household.

      Also, here’s a secret: At least for him, it’s much easier to write a eulogy for someone he didn’t know than for someone he did. Also, for some reason, funerals tend to pop up just when an extra $100 would be particularly useful.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I’m very sorry about your FIL.

      I wrote out a whole thing about honoraria for church funerals and then re-read the question. If the funeral home is running the whole service, and the pastor is just coming in to speak, then $100 is fine, but more is always appreciated, of course.

      The pastor does a lot more of the “event coordinating” at a church funeral, so in that case I’d recommend $250 or more.

    13. ronda*

      being of catholic upbringing, we made a donation to the church rather than to the priest. but I do think giving more is definitely a nice gesture. give what you can afford.

    14. Cj*

      Thank you to everybody who answered my question.

      We were almost late to the funeral home because we have problems getting the picture printed out at Walgreens that we wanted to display at the funeral. We didn’t have time to get a card, and since we didn’t have a card with us, we forgot to give the pastor extra. But she is going to be at the cemetery when the urn is buried on Tuesday (which we didn’t realize she would be), so my husband is going to give her a card with $100 cash in it then.

  7. Service Dog*

    Folks with service dogs, especially for invisible illnesses… how?

    My partner is a 100% disabled vet with PTSD and anxiety. Our dog helps him a ton but likely wouldn’t pass service dog training due to his own anxious temperament (7 year old rescue).

    If you have a service dog, how did you start that process?
    Did you self train?
    What was the cost?
    Are there any programs you recommend?

    The VA covers the cost of a service dog and I made a giant list of programs but we’re still a bit overwhelmed. And I think my partner is struggling with the optics of not “looking” sick as someone in their 30s.

    Any tips or pitfalls we should be considering?

    1. No Name Yet*

      I don’t know anything about the logistics/costs of service dogs, other than I think most people find the process overwhelming – you’re certainly not alone in that!

      In terms of optics/stigma – I’ve worked in VA mental health for over 10 years, and over that time there has been an increasing number of vets your husband’s age using services dogs for mental health conditions. A lot of them have certainly had the same initial concerns he has, but my sense is that there is much more recognition of how service dogs can be helpful for folks with invisible disabilities now compared to 10 years ago.

      1. Service Dog*

        This is a very reassuring perspective, thank you! I think a trained dog would do wonders for his willingness to leave the house, be around people, reduce anxiety in crowded spaces etc.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      So if you want self train it’s a ton of work, you’d need to carefully select a dog from someone with a proven line who has the size and temperament needed for service dog work and they still have a high washout rate because service dogs need to be bomb proof. Because of this, I’d highly suggest working with a program. Most dogs aren’t cut out for service dog work and that’s ok. It’s also hard to start with a puppy because realistically they won’t be a reliable service dog until they’re around 2, so another benefit of working with a program is being matched to a dog who is proven and ready to work. I hope you find one that fits your needs and helps your partners mental health :)

      1. Service Dog*

        Completely agreed! Hoping to go with a program and am nudging him to start now because the waitlists are crazy long.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      What will you need the dog to do? That will help determine if a small dog is OK, or if a larger one is needed. Mine wakes me from nightmares as well as alerts me/helps calm me to incipient panic attacks. Since he needs to sleep with me, he is small (11 lbs). An Army vet friend with epilepsy from TBI also has a small dog, since he also needs to wear his in a chest bag in order to keep his drivers license (petit mal seizures, he just needs to pull over/sit quietly waiting for the seizure to pass). If your partner needs a dog to physically hold him down, you will need a larger breed. IMO a smaller dog will cause less optics “issues” in many public situations since they are less noticeable: mine sits in the kiddie basket in grocery carts (inside a throw, so the dog doesn’t touch the cart), next to me (on a crate pad I carry in) on bench seats in restaurants, and my buddy has his sit in his lap in movies. Larger breeds can’t easily go unnoticed.
      Since I have an education background, the training service gave me lesson plans to work with my dog. Due to the nature of my needs, and my teaching ability, I could self-train, but this won’t be possible for everyone.
      I paid under $1K a decade ago, I think my friends’ dog was $6K if I remember correctly. The VA paid for his.

      1. Service Dog*

        Panic attacks and to sleep with. So we might be able to have a smaller dog. Thank you for the advice!!

    4. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Look up Paws And Stripes in Albuquerque and get an idea of the type of org you’re looking for in your region.

      1. Service Dog*

        We are on New England with several great options like NEADS. It’s all a bit overwhelming to be honest so I appreciate folks sharing their experience and advice!

        1. SofuaDeo*

          FWIW, my small dog often goes unnoticed unless he moves. Many a person in a store has thought he was a stuffed animal in the cart. Also, I am allergic to dogs and got a hypoallergenic Bichon Frise. (You need an intelligent breed before even testing for ability to be a Service Dog. And breeds that don’t readily bark are easier to train IMO too) So no shedding, no one nearby sneezing if they are also allergic. And carrying a throw or crate pad inside places is key in keeping mine close to me without pushback from staff. He’s not on their seat, he’s on a pad. I can’t have him way down on the floor in a store or restaurant anyway, he is too small to properly alert from down there. So the throw in a grocery cart counteracts statements like “your dog can’t be in the cart”; my response is, “he’s not in the cart, he’s in a blanket and my dog is much cleaner than some kid with a poopy diaper.” For restaurants, a small crate pad that’s in his car seat anyway lets him sit next to me on a bench seat. It also works for outdoor restaurants when he IS on the ground, these places often have more room than inside many restaurants. My dog knows the pad is “his spot” and it’s easy to position him exactly where I want him, and he stays cleaner. Individual chairs are more difficult, and we never can do a small 2 person table unless outside in a corner or otherwise out of the way. Again, I need him close and the floor is generally too far. As well as too dirty, I don’t actually want my dog on the floor in most stores or restaurants. I actually have 2 crate pads in his car seat; one is used on the ground, the other isn’t. I am also immune compromised and have to be germ conscious.

    5. Lizy*

      No help on the dog, but just wanted to say mine is 100% PTSD, too. It’s taken years – and he (and I) still struggle with the optics of it. Honestly, getting 100% was one of the things that made us both realize that he really does have a disability and just because it’s not visible doesn’t mean it’s not real, and that our coping mechanisms are just that, and not necessarily how “normal” people live. I think it’s helped that we’re seeing more vets his/our age, and that it’s being talked about more. So good luck, and keep your head up.

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    Last week I got some comments thanking me for starting these threads almost every week for so long, and you are all very welcome :) I hadn’t even realised I’ve been doing these for so long until Woodswoman Writes mentioned it.

    1. river*

      Mine is going well atm. I’m editing and trying to really get clear focus on the main theme. I don’t decide the theme ahead of time, I like to let it emerge, but this story is twice as complicated as my usual ones, so it’s been unclear. I’ve got it now, so I’m pruning and shaping to make it a bit more obvious. It wasn’t the exact theme I was expecting, it was just to one side of where I was aiming, but funnily enough it’s just what I need for my own life right now.

    2. Jellyfish*

      A research article I co-wrote got through the peer review process and cleared for publication this week, so I am very excited!

    3. Maryn B.*

      My former Real-Life writing group never worked online because one member has no internet at home. We continue to swap emails talking books and writing as well as our personal lives, which she may not see for a week or more, when she visits a family member with the internet.

      But this week, she sent a writing prompt based on something that I’d mentioned in an email (getting stuck in a car wash, no phone signal in there to call for assistance) and I set aside my novel series and wrote a short play about someone getting stuck someplace. It was different, and fun, quite a nice change.

      So if you’ve been writing One Thing for a while, let yourself have a break and write something short that’s not related. It’s invigorating.

    4. Liane*

      I have an editing gig! And I got over my latest bout of writer’s block so I can get a bit ahead on blog writing before I get the editing piece.

    5. beep beep*

      I haven’t previously talked about my work specifically to anyone I know since it’s very…niche, but this week I found out a friend does professional editing and another friend mentioned their interest in my subject and they’ve both given me some great positive feedback! I’m very pleased, even if my output this week hasn’t been the best.

    6. beentheredonethat*

      I started writing 5 years ago and found the first 18 pages. It is a murder mystery in a little town and it includes the odd relationships and prejudices. It’s one of those things where this little town and people and their families and generations all just sort of walked in my mind. I am trying to write at least 3 pages a week starting now. I will let you know next Saturday how it goes. Thanks for the thread, giving me incentive to try again.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I added a new blog post. It’s been ages since I’ve felt this motivated to write frequently.

      The challenge is that most of my writing recently has been nature oriented. Sometimes I feel like I could just write, “I love nature and taking photos of nature. The end.” I’ve written about other topics, but it’s been a while and it would be good to not be repetitive. Unless I’m creating something I think others would be interested in–rather than “look at me just because”– it’s not worth putting out there.

      I’m glad you know you’re appreciated for posting this thread. :)

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For irrelevant reasons, I found myself opening up my old livejournal this week. It’s been so long that I don’t remember what I was writing, and I am pleasantly surprised to find out that I enjoyed reading it. What I do with that discovery may belong more on a Friday post.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    I haven’t had much gaming time this week, but I’ve set aside this weekend to get some done! Hopefully if I remember I actually have something to say this weekend, and otherwise it’ll be for next weekend’s thread.

    1. Clodagh*

      Been playing Death Stranding a LOT. Absolutely terrible and tedious storyline, but tootling around the place delivering cargo is oddly enjoyable!

    2. Sapphire (they/them)*

      I started playing The Outer Worlds a couple weeks ago, and I think I’m going to pick it up a bit this weekend. It’s a lot of fun so far, and I like the character creation, but it’s very much a late-stage capitalism satire, complete with its own looming pandemic so I have to take breaks. I’m also feeling very conflicted about the decision I just made.

      I also picked up What Remains of Edith Finch from a suggestion on this thread and it’s a really cool adventure game. It’s been helping me with my own grief.

      And then of course the Wordle bug bit my friends circle so I’ve been partaking. It’s a nice morning ritual to have a little word puzzle with my morning coffee.

        1. Koala dreams*

          It’s a bit of bluffing involved. You see other people’s cards but not your own. All the cards have fruits on them, not only Durian but bananas and things. You take turns drawing cards and put in the middle, and there’s a little bell involved too.

    3. SparklingBlue*

      I’m hopeful I will get Pokemon Legends: Arceus soon–I’m more excited about the gameplay, and don’t get why everyone’s mad over the graphics–they can’t all be Zelda or Skyrim

    4. Nicki Name*

      I’ve been playing Seven Wonders Architects since it just got added to Board Game Arena, and… I think I might finally have gotten the hang of it?

    5. ampersand*

      We’ve been playing a lot of the dice game That’s Pretty Clever! (It’s originally a German game called Ganz Schön Clever.) Has anyone else played? It’s a quick and fun game. I’ve been varying my strategies to figure out how to increase my score and win–using different strategies is part of the appeal for me.

      My husband and I also still need to finish up our last couple of games of Pandemic Legacy. Also a fun one–we started in mid-2020 (ha) and lately we’ve only played sporadically because real-life pandemic has gotten in the way, but we’re almost done.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      Glad that I don’t have to tear up any decks after the new bans, and still working on piecing together cycle storm.

      Did pick up some more signed cards off eBay, just waiting on those to come in.

    7. Jackalope*

      My husband just got me a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles and I started that this week. Anyone else played it before? I feel like it has potential but I’m having a really hard time with the combat. There are a million things you can do and I’m not sure how to do most of them, plus I’m frustrated by the fact that you can’t really control any of the characters, and you can only control one of them to any extent at all. For example I was using a character besides the main one as the party leader and the other two kept dying because the main character never ever used his healing papers which only he has, even though this would have been a reasonable thing for the AI to have him do when someone was at low HP. At least there are a bunch of things you can pick up scattered around everywhere which I’m having fun with.

      1. Garden Pigeons*

        I’m playing through it now (third attempt – didn’t finish either of the last two) and finding it more manageable. A couple of thoughts:

        – you don’t have to switch up the character in the lead, and some have worse AI control than others. I mostly play as Shulk.
        – doing sidequests gets you more levels and better gear that makes life easier – especially completing Collectapedia sections, which I think often gives strong armour.
        – you can use Casual Mode (makes everything easier) or Expert Mode (doesn’t make anything harder – just gives you more control of levels). I’m playing with Expert Mode, so in areas I find OK I can stay at the same level as enemies, and keep getting lots of experience from battle, then in the regions with fiddlier combat mechanics I can boost the party leader to six levels above the enemies, and they all avoid me so I can focus on plot or trinket collecting.
        – When to use Speed/Shield/Purge etc. can be tricky to remember, but Arts that are particularly good to use at the moment are highlighted with ! as a hint.

        Hope that all helps! How far are you?

        1. Jackalope*

          I’m at the first large-ish quest right at the beginning, the one where you go explore a nearby cave with Reyn. That’s part of the problem is that I’m still so early in the game. (Also that you use every single blasted button on the controller and I’m not used to battles that are so involved.) I didn’t know that I could switch into expert mode; I’ll have to figure that out. And I’ve started on some of the side quests; a ton of side quests always make me feel a bit scattered, because I want to go romping off after them all instead of focusing on any one of them. But I’ve completed a few so far and that’s helped.

          1. Garden Pidgeons*

            I should say that Expert Mode is a thing in the Switch version; if you’re playing Wii or 3DS I don’t think it’s there.

            My approach with sidequests is to run around and talk to everyone in a town and get all the quests, then run out and do them all – you’ll run into the collectibles you need for quest B while looking for the monsters you need for quest A and so on, so your “go romping off after them all” approach is actually pretty good!

        2. Jackalope*

          Another response (my first one seems to have been caught for review for some reason): is there a way to make the non-party-leader characters tend to pick a certain skill in battle? One of my frustrations playing as Reyn is that Shulk will never heal as the non-leader even if he or someone else is dying. Likewise, if I play as Shulk then Reyn won’t do the whole drawing aggro thing he’s allegedly in battle to do even if everyone else is low on HP and it would make sense. I know some games have an option where you can tell the AI to focus on defense, offense, or whatever; does this game have that?

          1. Garden Pidgeons*

            There’s nothing exactly like that feature in other games, but there are a few things you can do:

            – levelling up the arts you want to use helps, because it reduces their cooldown and makes it available for use more often. (I do find it hard to track what’s going on in a fast-paced battle, but often if someone isn’t using the move I want, I suspect it’s because they used it thirty seconds ago – e.g. to heal someone else – and it hasn’t recharged yet.)
            – you can unequip arts (there’s a Remove button), so if you remove the ones you don’t want, the ones you do are more likely to be used.
            – if Shulk has a vision of an enemy attack, the party leader can warn other characters (A “Press B to warn Reyn” thing appears when you get near them) which lets you pick an Art to use to heal/draw aggro/put the enemy to sleep/etc.
            – you can Chain Attack when the blue bar at the top-left fills up, which lets you pick an attack for each character. Not something you can do in every battle, but good for tough enemies/bosses to do Break/Topple/Daze and knock them over.

    8. DarthVelma*

      I’m still working my way through Destiny 2 content that will be going away with the new Witch Queen expansion. I’m finally getting high enough level that I feel useful in group events. Even helped carry several low level players this weekend in Override and Blind Well. And I had the single best run of Dares of Eternity I’ve had so far. Just went off on Friday night. It was nice to feel not just competent, but actually like I’m pretty good at this game.

      This morning I finally got serious about inventory management. I was doing pretty good about deleting weapons where I had multiples…but the armor in my vault had gotten out of control. I set myself some strict guidelines and started wholesale deleting stuff. Totally worth it so I could stop worrying about my vault space limit all the darn time. :-)

    9. Doctor is In*

      Forza Horizons 5. Like FH 4 but set in Mexico! Love driving on interesting terrain with no consequences for collisions, etc.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In Guild Wars 2, it’s Lunar New Year festival. My favorite part of the game, especially now that I’ve finally gotten the hang of DragonBall.
      I can’t stay on long because my hands cramp up, so festival dailies are perfect.

    11. Kimmy Schmidt*

      A friend set up a Call of Cthulhu one-shot roleplaying game this week, and it was a lot of fun. I got to play as the wealthy benefactor for the paranormal crime fighting society! I’ve played a lot of DnD but never done any other RPG.

    12. Free Meerkats*

      I spent a big chunk of the weekend uninstalling and reinstalling my Blizzard games. Updates stalled and left everything unplayable, so I just blew it away and started over. Now getting games set back up the way I like.

      And I’m still cussing Blizzard that they didn’t make D2R available for Mac!

  10. Disco Janet*

    My car is getting pretty old (07 with 200k miles) and I’ve been researching what I want to replace it with. Going to be my first time purchasing a new car instead of used and I’m a bit intimidated by the prices, but with the used car market being so bad right now, buying new just makes more sense for my needs. It’s just more than I’ve ever spent on a vehicle, so I’m extra nervous about making the right decision.

    Curious how others are with this – when you’re car shopping, do you test drive a whole bunch? Just a few? If you have a clear favorite from your research, do you just test drive that one and then buy it if you like it? I hate the actual shopping at the dealership part but don’t want to rush my decision (and make a bad one!) just to shorten that part of the process.

    And if anyone has a reasonably priced not too huge SUV that they love, I’m open to suggestions (although I think I have my list narrowed down.) Trying to keep it to around 25k. Replacing a Ford Edge – open to all makes/brands though. I’ve finally released myself of caring about the community peer pressure and rude bumper stickers about what make my car is. (Is that a thing elsewhere or just here in the Motor City area?)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      That’s a Detroit thing mostly :-P you’ll sometimes see the tacky Calvin peeing on logo bumper stickers on giant pickup trucks in other places, but not as often now I don’t think.

      I (despite growing up just a shade west of the motor city :-P ) have been a Honda gal for probably ten years now, and I love my CR-V. He’s my second – the first one got totaled by a texting teenager, and the officer who responded to the accident thought he’d be calling an ambulance to rush me in when he saw the condition of my car (smashed between the teenager’s sedan in the back and the Dodge Ram in front of me; we’d been stopped at a light and he hit me going 55). However, between the safety ratings of the CRV and probably a little divine providence, I walked away with a hairline fracture of one rib and that’s it – not even any bumps, bruises or whiplash. Three days later I replaced her with another one, one year newer. He’s big enough for my family of three and 110 pounds worth of dogs, but doesn’t drive like a behemoth, which was important to me. (Before I started driving Hondas I drove a Smart for five years :-P )

      1. Turtle Dove*

        I can second the recommendation for CR-Vs and Hondas in general. (And I’m also a Michiganian!) It’s all about reliability and longevity in my family, and Honda delivers. Our Honda Accord from around 2000 still runs — barely, to be fair. We’ve had our CR-V for nine years without problems. If we get another SUV, it’ll be a Honda.

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          I third Hondas. We bought a new Honda Fit in 2007 for its excellent gas mileage. We gave it to our son when he graduated from college and it still runs great. It has ~190k miles on it. The interior isn’t one bit luxurious, but the engine is Honda all the way.

          We are on our third Subaru since 1998. We compared lifetime cost of ownership among many makes of cars and our current Outback came out on top at the time. Also, whenever we buy cars and have the research done on what to buy (we buy new), we buy a Consumer Reports report on the particular car that tells us what a fair price to pay in our market is.

          1. Quiet Liberal*

            I guess I should have pointed out that you can compare lifetime cost of ownership for various makes and models at Edmunds.com.

      2. The Dogman*

        You were really lucky you were not in that smart car when the teenager hit you!

        CRV’s are tough and well made. I personally recommend the Suzuki Vitara, but I think that is not available in the USA though.

        Which is a shame as it is as big or slightly bigger than a CRV, 5 star Euro NCAP safety and does 70 miles to the gallon cruising too!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I actually got rear-ended by a semi and subsequently dragged a mile and a half down a highway in the Smart, and all we got from that one was three holes punched in the bumper, a blown tire, and the crockpot of green beans in the trunk tipped over and made a mess – no injury to me. They have pretty good safety ratings too, in part *because* they’re so small — the impact frame covers most of the car.

          I learned, in my years of driving the Smart, that people like to rag on them, but the people doing the ragging don’t usually know what they’re talking about. :P My bloodhound mix loved riding in it (and she got me out of a speeding ticket in it once, the officer forgot what he was doing because he was so busy snuggling her ears and letting her lick his face off); I only upsized when I got a second dog, because then me, partner and both dogs didn’t fit in the car anymore :)

          1. Quiet Liberal*

            Ok, now I am going to remember your story and cringe every time a semi comes up behind me! Glad you made it ok.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Depending on the mood I’m already in, I frequently get either real nervous or yell at my steering wheel when people get too close behind me, between semi dude and Stupid Dennis the Texting Teenager. :P (I saw Stupid Dennis coming, and KNEW he wasn’t going to stop because all I could see was the top of his head, so it was just that sense of inevitability. :P )

          2. The Dogman*

            I know smarts are ok for their size, but you were lucky that time too.

            If you get pushed in them its not too bad, but if there were a crush situation I would prefer to be in the CRV for sure.

            Glad you are good, and good one for having big dogs, also lucky you on that ticket too! I would like a bloodhound or cross but only once I move out the city, too busy here for that sort of dog really.

      1. Jay*

        We’ve owned four Fords in the past 10 years and loved every one. One Fusion sedan, three Cmax crossovers, all hybrids or plug-in hybrids, and they were AWESOME. Unfortunately, Ford is not making either any longer but if I could find a late-model used Cmax, I’d snap it up.

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          We are soulmates, Jay! We are on our third Ford F150 over 40+ years. Spouse and I come from long lines of faithful Ford truck owners. My Dad’s first was a 1938 Ford Pickup he bought in 1951. He had it until the late 60’s when he treated himself to a new one.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      I wrote something very long and detailed and somehow lost it so you’re getting the much abbreviated version, which is probably more helpful anyway.

      I test drove two small SUVs (a Subaru to try the brand (not enough zip) and a Porsche Macan because my friend insisted so I could experience both power and luxury in one vehicle (it was great but also $55k over budget)) in your shoes, then months later when my car bit it I bought a Honda Civic Sport hatchback without test driving it. It had more horsepower per ton than the Macan so I (my friend) knew it would have the power I wanted. I found a dealership that had it in red (two states away, people here hate color) and went there and bought it. And you know what? It’s great and I have no regrets about not test driving it.

      The key difference maker among my dealership experiences was how long the sales guy (always a guy) had been there. The Subaru guy had been there six months and clearly bounced from dealership to dealership and I got those gross car sales vibes. The Porsche dealership was a wild experience that isn’t really applicable to us mortals. And the Honda guy was (1) the general manager who (2) had been there for 20 years. (It was May 2020, staffing was limited.) And my experience with him was top-notch. So the key for me would be finding someone who has been there a long time, and don’t be afraid to cut bait with a salesperson who gives you bad vibes. Honestly, it was so easy and pleasant to buy my car that I legit just advise family and friends “drive to Honda of Turnersville, yes it’s in NJ but it’s worth it, talk to Min Chin (the GM), pick one there, it’s worth the drive because it’s such a good experience and their selection is unreal”.

      (Yes, I promise this is the short version, lol.)

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I believe my state has a crappy extra registration fee for cars bought out of state. Glad that was not the case for you!

    3. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I’ll second the Honda CR-V. I had a 2007, but it’s fundamentally not too much different now other than having a new engine (which has gotten good marks for power and fuel economy). It was huge on the inside without driving like a big car or having a huge footprint, was a super-smooth and comfortable road trip car, got remarkably good gas mileage for a vehicle that could hold so much, and was completely trouble-free for the first 12 years I had it.

      My mother has a 2018 Nissan Rogue and has had a similar experience. Again, the 2022 model is fundamentally about the same.

      The only time I bought a new car, I bought the first one I drove because I was in love with it. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here. Good luck!

    4. mreasy*

      I drive a tiny Fiat myself, but for the past two weeks had my mom’s Subaru Forester, and found it to be a real joy to drive. Even though it’s bigger, it’s quite maneuverable, and overall a great car. (She loves it too.) If you do decide what you want without a dealer, I can recommend Carvana, at least based on my experience! Prices were lower for what I bought than any dealer in the area & it was a breeze to shop. But of course only works if you don’t need to test drive. Good luck!

      1. Terri Rathburn*

        Second the Forestor. Excellent visibility, AWD, great light with the big sunroof, more ground clearance but not hard to get into, zippy enough, close for bad weather (northern lake-effect snow zone Michigan resident and a solid feel. Liked the CRV and RAV4 but the the Forestor felt more open and airy.

        1. the cat's ass*

          Currently driving my 3rd Subaru. Sturdy, good on gas, great visibility, handles well, roomy enough for a bunch of things/people. My previous one was a bit smaller, so I’ve had to adjust to parking a slightly longer car. But you have to adjust to that, anyway!

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I have a Toyota Rav-4 that I like a lot. In my area it is the official car of dog walkers, which is how I picked it out to replace my official mom minivan (as driving around sports teams became less of my life).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (I swear I’m not saying this just because I was stanning Honda up above! :) ) If one isn’t already familiar with driving Toyotas, I would suggest test-driving them or even renting one for a few hours — I and my husband (and several friends) have all found in the course of pre-pandemic road trips that while a few minutes in a Toyota is no big deal, more than about a half hour in either the driver’s seat or the passenger seat results in significant back pain because of the way their lumbar support is structured being incompatible with our individual structures.

        I wouldn’t mention that if it was just a me thing, but a group of about eight people had to get really specific about how we planned out our caravanning – we had two Toyota drivers, and only one of them could drive on any particular trip, because the two of them were the only ones who could drive or ride shotgun in a Toyota without pain, and the rest of us all had to ride in either another car or the back seat.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I get it: I once rented a Ford sedan where my head brushed the ceiling, and I am 5’3″.

          So for OP: If you’re going to go with a different make of car, important to have test driven it and made sure it’s comfortable. I’m always thrilled when our rentals turn out to be Toyotas because I will know where the controls are. (I am sure learning a new system for each car is a brain-building challenge in the right circumstance, but the past few years rentals tended to be in stressful contexts where I really didn’t need one more challenge.)

      2. Clisby*

        I rented a Rav-4 once when my Kia Soul was in the shop, and really loved it. Not in the market right now, because my 2016 Kia doesn’t even have 40,000 miles on it, and it works just fine for us. If I were to go looking for a new car right now, I think the Rav-4 and Honda CR-V would be at the top of my list. I have no interest in anything larger than that.

    6. Llellayena*

      Keep an eye on who is having supply chain issues right now too. Minor insider knowledge, but Hyundai and Toyota aren’t as bothered by the chip shortage and should have a decent amount of stock. This might help with the prices. Branch out on color too. If you can get a car from the lot that’s not quite the color you want instead of ordering from the factory you might get better pricing.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Local (big city) Hyundai dealer, all 6 I called, did not have a single Elantra on the lot, so YMMV.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        On the supply chain thing, my sister bought a new Subaru Crosstrek and the dealer said it would be at least two months before it arrived. I was pondering posting a thread much like this one, but my sister fortuitously offered to sell me her 2017 Subaru Crosstrek with low mileage just before my 2004 Outback bit the dust.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      We had a couple of VW Tiguans and they have been awesome! We did buy them new, but the previous year’s model, so the price was better. There is a ton of room in them and you can put some of the back seats down or all of them and fit a LOT back there. The mileage is decent, they handle REALLY well and if snow is an issue, they do well in the snow.
      We generally buy new, which I know isn’t “the norm,” but I’ll explain our thought process. We look at the overall cost of the vehicle per year, not including insurance or gas (since we tend to get the same type of vehicle so gas and insurance will be about the same). So if you buy a used vehicle, you have your payments (if you didn’t pay cash) and repairs and maintenance. If you buy a new vehicle, you have your payments (if you didn’t pay cash) and repairs and maintenance. This is where used tends to get more pricey than new. If you are getting new tires one year, then new brakes the next, or maybe both in one year, that’s where the cash out the door can be way more than a new vehicle.
      This is just our philosophy, and as with all free advice, take it for what’s it worth!! Good luck!

      1. Temp anon*

        Ha, I hadn’t refreshed the page before I posted my own rave review of the Tiguan below. Greetings, fellow Tiguan driver!

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Woot! I second all your comments below too. I forgot to mention the awesome seats. They have never aggravated my bad back either. Love our Tiguans!!

    8. Temp anon*

      We have a Subaru Forester and a VW Tiguan. I’ve previously had another Subaru as well. We live in a place where Subarus are one of the most popular vehicles because they’re so practical for cargo and for winter and rough-road driving. Ours is ok, but it’s not nearly as good as my VW Tiguan! I love that thing. Had it 7 years, no problems. Love the all-wheel drive, the engine, the handling. The seats are the most comfortable (I have back problems, and I can drive this cross-country with no discomfort). One thing I really appreciate is the sensible design of the dashboard controls – everything’s laid out really intuitively, just well-engineered from the user’s perspective. The Tiguan has every option I want. I plan to drive this one as long as possible and then maybe buy a new one someday. Truly, VW should put me in ads or something, because I just adore this vehicle and sing its praises to everyone.

      1. New car blues*

        Just went to the dealer yesterday to test drive Tiguan and they now have a slightly smaller version called Taos which I liked even more because of the space limit in my garage. BUT… the dealer wanted $2500 over sticker and I would have been lucky to get one in the next shipment whenever that may be coming. The Subaru dealership did not even have a car to test drive!

    9. fposte*

      I don’t really enjoy cars and I really hate car shopping. I don’t think that’s particularly unusual, either. Therefore my goal is to get something I can live with contentedly in my price range as quick as possible. That was especially true when I was replacing a car that was totaled, but even last year it was the same thing. I can go nuts with optimizing/maximizing and I’ve decided that for car shopping I need to satisfice instead.

      I’d been a Honda person, but I knew I wanted a hybrid this time, and I also found the Hondas in my range really ugly in the front, like some clunky sci-fi monster. I decided that a Prius (because of my back problems, in a trim with heated seats) was my top contender. There was only one car in town that met those terms, new or used, so I went out and drove it. I liked it fine and I knew selection was only going to get worse, so I bought it.

      I really like it, and it’s actually much more comfortable for long journeys than my old Civic (it’s quite possible a new Civic would be on par, because the old one was a teenager). I like it enough that when I discover a flaw–like the low-profile tires are ridiculously crap on snow, so I’ll probably get snow tires in future years even though we don’t get enough snow to be worth it if you have real tires–I’m inclined to forgive it.

      1. JSPA*

        Priuses in general drive badly in snow. Something about the weight distribution, I think. Shame, because (as you say) they’re overall very comfortable as well as green.

    10. Water Everywhere*

      I’m starting to look around for a new vehicle as well; this will be my second new purchase and here’s my approach:
      Budget – what payment amount & term am I comfortable with, keeping in mind other related expenses like fuel & regular maintenance.
      Essentials & options – decide what’s non-negotiable vs what would be nice to have.
      Reviews – I’ll have a general type of vehicle in mind and look at online reviews/ask owners of the different models available to narrow down my choice. Maybe even get a test drive from a willing friend.
      Online pricing – many brands have an online ‘build & price’ option so I’ll run through this for my top choices to see what options fit my budget.
      After all this I will get in touch with a dealership. I find that having done this research helps me more firmly stick to my budget & needs in the face of a persuasive salesperson.

    11. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

      “ Curious how others are with this – when you’re car shopping, do you test drive a whole bunch? Just a few? If you have a clear favorite from your research, do you just test drive that one and then buy it if you like it?”

      In the mid-2000s I got my first new car, a Honda Civic. I loved that car, and I was 90% sure that I wanted another Honda Civic. But I wanted to be sure, so I test drove a Toyota Carolla, a Nissan Altima, a Nissan Juke, a Kia something, and a Hyundai something. And after all that I bought another new Honda Civic and I felt solid. I also was working with a salesperson who took me very graciously at my “no you may not” after he asked if he could call me to see what I wanted to buy.

      1. ampersand*

        This sounds like my experience–had a Honda Civic from the mid-2000s until 10 years later when I wanted something different. Test drove various other makes/models and ended up with a Honda Fit.

        Although that said: I’m so annoyed and frustrated with my local Honda dealership where I purchased my Fit from that I’m about to swear off Hondas and get something else altogether when I buy my next car, probably soonish. My dealership experience has all but ruined Hondas for me–it’s not even logical because there are ways around this problem, but I’m at BEC stage with them.

        1. Windchime*

          If you have the option, go to another dealer. I had done tons of research and was pretty sure I wanted a certain model of Acura, so I went to the dealership closest to me. They didn’t give me the time of day; when I asked to go on a test drive, the salesman went inside to “get a key” and never came back outside. Another time they ignored me completely. So I drove a few more miles to the fancy city down the road, found the Acura dealership and told them of my experience at the other shop. They rolled out the red carpet and got me a decent deal on the car I knew I already wanted. The first dealership missed out; all I needed was a test drive and a tiny push to buy a $40k car.

    12. Jay*

      I test drive anything I haven’t driven before because I am picky about the seat position and my husband needs a lot of headroom. My current car is a Mini Clubman plug-in hybrid which I LOVE. I lucked into it used two weeks after some idiot came careering around a blind curve at 70 MPH and totaled my Ford CMax. I bought the Ford without test-driving it because we already owned one and I knew I’d like it. So I’d say if it’s a make you haven’t driven before it’s worth a test drive.

      BTW if you can find a used Cmax and you liked your Edge, I’d suggest it. It’s a bit smaller than the Edge (built on the Focus platform). We found it had plenty of cargo space for the three of us on long car trips and more than enough for everything else. They don’t make it any more, unfortunately. I think it’s worth taking a stroll through Carvana (we’ve used them twice and been satisfied).

      1. ronda*

        yes … test drive what you are interested in to see if the seat works for you and no stupid blind spots etc.

        I would follow Clark Howard how to buy a new car. (google it)

        he suggest getting a rental to do a longer test drive. (but rental companies can be limited on which makes are available)
        and getting buy online quotes then contacting dealer to see if they will give a better price. you can do this all online (except the test drives)

    13. CR Fan*

      I would recommend looking at “Consumer Reports” magazine. The April issue is their automobile issue, but they publish road tests throughout the year (usually at least one every month) and they also publish New Car Guides and Used Car Guides that they publish separately. They’re not the be all, end all, but probably the best that is out there. I especially appreciate their evaluations about long-term reliability.

      You don’t want to test drive every model on the lot, but when you narrow down your top few choices, be sure to test drive at least one model similar to the one you plan to buy. You’ll want to see that you fit in it, that the seats are comfortable, if it seems noisy, what the car drives like and how it handles, if it seems to be powerful enough. There will usually be differences between different trim levels of the same model of car. A lower-trimmed, less-expensive version of a particular car might have a less powerful engine, less sound deadening and the seats will be flatter, so be aware of that.

      In recent years auto manufacturers have adopted smaller-displacement turbo-charged engines in an attempt to obtain better gas mileage, while maintaining performance. In my opinion, they’re not always successful at doing at. In theory the smaller-displacement engine will use less fuel than a larger displacement engine in normal driving and if you need extra performance, such as to suddenly accelerate, the turbo will kick-in and provide it (although at the expense of worse gas mileage). A lot of these turbo-charged engines are tuned to get good gas mileage figures on the EPA fuel economy tests in the U.S., but the tests are not necessarily reflective of how people really drive and most people end up getting lower gas mileage than what is reported in the EPA tests.

      Personally, I’m not a fan of turbo-charged engines because they are more complicated and not as durable as non-turbocharged engines. If something goes wrong they are more complicated and expensive to repair. One might last for 150,000 miles or so, but they still wear out faster than regular engines. For most people, they are probably fine, but if you are someone who keeps their cars for a long time (like over 200,000 miles) you might want to avoid them. I’ve also noticed that many Subarus seem to have engine problems when they get to around 140,000 miles or so, so I’d be a little wary of purchasing one if I planned to own it for a long time.

    14. Girasol*

      You can do the dealership thing without having to talk to the unctuous sales guy. Read up on car reviews online, pick some cars that meet your needs and that get good reviews, and then ask for quotes online from dealership web sites. If Dealer A has your perfect car nearby but Dealer B in another state has a better price or color, tell dealer A you’re thinking about going out of state if he won’t match the deal, and you might get what you ask. You can arrange to visit the dealer to test drive just that one car before you buy, which might identify a problem reviewers missed. But reviews are pretty thorough these days, so I’ve bought several times with no test drive. I go to the dealer just to pay up and drive off, no sales pitch at all, and have not been disappointed. (This is *so* much better than the days when car salesmen said, “So, little lady, how much money do you make?”) My last pick was a Honda Fit with which I have been completely delighted. It’s over 200K now, still getting 40 mpg, and it looks like it will soldier on until I see an electric that meets my needs.

    15. Nicole76*

      I usually look online at what’s out there in my budget, decide what features I can’t live without (such as heated seats), and then test drive whatever falls into that category.

      It’s great that you’re looking now because it took me over a year to pull the trigger. Some of that was pure luck. I found I really liked the Subaru Crosstrek but when I test drove it in early 2017 they didn’t make the color combo (blue outside, grey inside) I liked except in a manual transmission. When they announced the 2018s they did offer that in an automatic. I’m so glad I waited and got exactly what I wanted!

      Be careful with the crazy markups dealerships are doing right now due to the shortage. My husband recently had to replace his car and they tried adding $2500 in unnecessary “upgrades”, which we refused.

      Incidentally he got a Nissan Rogue and we really like it. They make a Rogue Sport which is smaller but closer to the price range you’re looking at.

    16. Blomma*

      When I was shopping for my first/current car, I started by reading Consumer Reports reviews of vehicles from all different males and models that were roughly the size I wanted and rated highly for safety. Then, I had a list of models that I wanted to test drive to get a feel for them. I am very petite and am moderately physically disabled, so how I fit in the car was important to me (as was seeing over the steering wheel!). After test driving a bunch of cars and deciding I wanted a Toyota Corolla, I began searching online for a Corolla that met my price, age, and mileage standards. I ended up buying from a dealership that doesn’t negotiate prices. They price vehicles competitively (mine was lower than the KBB value) and if you want add-ons (maintenance package, etc), you pay for add-ons. It was great to not have to mess around with negotiations!

    17. RussianInTexas*

      I bought a new car literally a week ago! I am interested in cars on general, so I knew what I was looking for (can’t afford what I REALLY want, but still know what is on the market).
      Make a list of what you must have and what is nice to have. Once you there, figure out the type of a vehicle you want: a sedan, SUV, hatchback, etc. Read reviews from few sources. If you are looking for a used vehicle, search for that specific model forums, they will show if there are specific issues for that car. People with complain.
      Test drive, test drive, test drive. A car might be perfect on paper, but you may absolutely hate how it drives IRL, or cannot get comfortable in the seat.
      Warning: new cars inventory is TIGHT right now. You will not have time to think if you find a car to buy. You have to be able to buy it on a spot. It took me calling over 20 dealers to even find cars to test drive, they literally do not have them on the lots. A mass market dealer would say “we have two cars coming in February and one in March, and you must put the deposit today, because they won’t be available tomorrow”. They are not kidding. A lot of dealers add extra money on top of the sticker – local Kia dealers add $4k on their popular models. You will not have any way to negotiate on the sticker. You may only be able to negotiate on the dealer options and extra things like extended warranty and that long of stuff.
      I got lucky. The car I bought came off the truck that very day. It would not be available two days later.
      So, do your research, but be prepared to really look around, and pounce.

    18. acmx*

      I travel for work and sometimes get a rental car so some of my test driving is done that way. Also, loaner vehicles from the dealer let me know I don’t like the RAV4.

      I’m not sure 25k is a reasonable price for SUVs right now. Look at dealer inventories online. The dealer I went to wanted $3500 deposit for vehicles that were in transit.

      I bought a Toyota yesterday. The dealer had little inventory. I didn’t really get what I wanted. I’ll note that I did not physically shop around. I did look at inventory a different dealerships (even outside of my state). It wasn’t that encouraging! This was a semi spontaneous decision and also a decision I’ve put off for a couple years. Buying at the end of the month from inventory on hand, saved me the 10% markup.

      Good luck! Such a hard/tedious process…

    19. Bob Howard*

      One thing worth trying is to see if you can rent the make/model that is your top choice. That way you can try it out without pressure from sales.

    20. The teapots are on fire*

      I had two favorites, test drove just those two, and one of them was not that interested in merging onto the freeway and was immediately disqualified. I focused on mileage, comfort, reliability ratings, the usability and safety of the dashboard controls, and something else that I’ve long since forgotten.

      I advise you to plan your own route for your test drive. The sales rep at the dealer for the car I rejected tried to steer me away from driving up a ramp to merge onto the highway, and it became clear that this was because the car was grossly underpowered for getting onto a Bay Area highway.

    21. Come On Eileen*

      I bought a Subaru Crosstrek a few years ago and absolutely LOVE it. I tested several smaller SUVs and this one hit all the buttons for me, and three years later I’m still in love with it. My second choice was the Subaru Forester because it had all the great features of the Crosstrek plus a bit more room inside and amazing visibility (huge glorious windows). The value holds up — I’m getting emails from the dealership askimg me to trade it in for a newer Crosstrek and the difference would be only $1500 (I think there’s a huge demand for used cars right now which doesn’t hurt). Anyway, all that to say — check out a Subaru or two.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        You’re the second person I know whom a dealer has called asking them to trade in the car they purchased earlier. I don’t think the other person’s car is a Subaru. Crazy times.

    22. *daha**

      Car buying is different now, even compared to six months ago. The dealers list inventory on their websites that they don’t actually have, just in the hopes that you will come in and they can get you to put a deposit down on something they expect to come in “at the end of next month”. You need to have a phone call with each one asking “what is on the lot today?” and be ready to drive out there today and make a decision. The closest you can come to a bargain is somebody willing to sell you the car without any markup over MSRP. Get pre-approved from a bank or credit union so you’ve got a financing offer in-hand. Do your research on the model before you show up at the lot, so you know already if there are reviews that rule it out. That way you’ll have your money and research ready to make a decision right there and then. Some people are traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to get the “acceptable” car they have decided on.

    23. SnappinTerrapin*

      Research in advance. Kelley’s, Edmunds and Consumer Reports are good sources.

      Subaru welcomes informed customers. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about cars with any sales person. Compare different cars online, on the lot,and on the road. Test your sales person to see how interested they are in meeting your needs, because that’s the ultimate goal for you.

      I’m not in sales anymore, but I did become convinced that Subaru builds great cars. I encourage you to check their offerings.

      But whatever you do, focus on finding a car that meets your needs.

      Enjoy the experience. It doesn’t have to be an ordeal, as long as you can keep the process under your control. If the process is adversarial instead of collaborative, walk out and find another dealer.

    24. onebitcpu*

      My wife and I test drove a lot of cars when looking to replace our mini van.
      She found that for some cards, the front window pillar was positioned just perfectly to block vision of traffic, which ruled a few out.
      We also brought along a big rubbermaid bin, a large cooler, and a laundry basket to stick in the trunk.
      If we couldn’t fit basic weekend luggage without folding seats down, that took the vehicle off our list as well

    25. LemonLyman*

      I really like my Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. It has a 10 year/100k mile warranty and was about $28k for the mid-tier which I had to get bc I need certain features bc of a disability (granted, I bought it a few years ago). It’s been a good car. Bench seat in the back and roomy “trunk” space for the dog.

    26. Purple Cat*

      To help narrow it down a key thing is for you to decide the most important feature of the car. Is it looks, mileage, cargo space, backseat legroom, stereo system, paint colors available…. Doesn’t matter what other people think is important, it’s what YOU think is important.

      When I was car shopping, mileage was the most important. I work far away from home, I used to have a Prius, but when I got another new car and went with a Kia Niro (just like their Sportage, but hybrid). It’s on the smaller side of the cross-over and now that my younger one’s hockey sticks are getting longer, I think the space is probably a little tight. DH got a hybrid Rav4 and there’s definitely more cargo space in there.

    27. Cj*

      My former co-worker and her husband have been buying new Hyundai’s for years and love them. They trade every four years or so, and have owned both sedans and SUVs

      I’m not sure you can buy *any* decent SUV for around $25,000, though. I think you’re probably going to have to spend at least $10,000 more for than for something you like and is reliable. You might see a price of around $25,000 doing a good search, but unless you are looking at a specific vehicle (like on a dealer’s website), the first price you see if almost always that base price, and by the time you get done picking the options you want, you can add many thousands of dollars to that.

      Don’t forget to take into account the increase in your vehicle insurance when deciding how much you can afford.

  11. JustForThis*

    I’ve always liked reading fantasy, but often felt somewhat alienated by a disinterest for female characters or, worse, misogyny. A few months back, a recommendation on a weekend thread of Tamora Pierce’s novels — some of which I’d read as a kid — sent me on a reading spree of fantasy novels written by women, and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. These are the ones I’ve read:

    Tamora Pierce; I read and enjoyed all of her novels, most of all maybe the first and last Magic Circle series.
    Alison Croggon, Pellinor series (which was slightly too dark for me)
    Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown (good fun, but quite a bit of emphasis on ‘blood lines’)
    T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking (good fun)
    Rosemary Kirstein, The Steerswoman Series (not strictly fantasy, but the best series I’ve read in a very long time. I’ve recommended it to everyone around me)

    Some years back, I read Sarah Monette, The Goblin Emperor (which I loved), some of Leigh Bardugo’s novels (which I liked, especially the heist aspect and the multilingual world), and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series as well as the first of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses (I didn’t like the relationship dynamics in those two).

    I’d be very grateful for further recommendations! And just to not cause misunderstandings: I’ve read truly wonderful fantasy novels by male authors which were balanced and inclusive, and at another occasion I’d love more recommendation along those lines, but for this thread I’d like to focus on female authors.

    1. frystavirki*

      One of my favorite authors is Seanan McGuire, whose fantasy work trends more towards urban fantasy rather than high fantasy, but I’ve read most of what she’s written and enjoyed it. The October Daye series, Incryptid series, and Wayward Children series are…I think all of her fantasy offerings? She’s quite prolific.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Her trilogy that starts with The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is sort of a branching off of the Incryptid series as well.

        1. JustForThis*

          “Quite prolific” may even be an understatement… Thank you so much, both to frystavirki and Red Reader for opening up such a rich mine for me!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            And if you do like science fiction as well, she also writes that almost as prolifically under the pseudonym Mira Grant. :)

            1. Jay*

              Huge Seanan McGuire fan here as well. Just a little warning. If you DO read the Mira Grant books, be warned. She does a lot of Pandemic Horror, that is novels set in the midst of world ending pandemics. While they predate Covid, none the less they can be…… problematic for some people.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Seanan McGuire is indeed prolific – and has a new pseudonym: A. Deborah Baker, for a fantasy series that begins with OVER THE WOODWARD WALL. (I haven’t read that one yet, but I bought it purely on the strength of my delight in McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series.)

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I LOVE Patricia McKillip. She’s one of two authors for whom I would read anything and everything. My person favorite is Od Magic, but I also thoroughly enjoyed The Bell at Sealy Head, The Bards of Bone Plane, Ombria in Shadow and Alphabet of Thorn. She has others, but those are my favorites. If you want more classic, I would recommend one of her oldest, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

      Speaking of classic, Anne McCaffrey’s harper series is lovely even after all these years. The first one is Dragonsong.

      I’ll add more if I can think of good ones!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The Isabella Trent series, first book A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan – a set of memoirs by a bluestocking noblewoman in a pseudo- Victorian world who adventures off in search of studying dragons and archaeology. It’s not fantasy like magic, but dragons count, maybe?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I read all five books in like, a day and a half – just couldn’t put them down. :)

    4. allathian*

      The Deed of Paksenarrion, and sequels set in the same world by Elizabeth Moon. Very well-rounded characters, and great world building that doesn’t get in the way of the story.

      1. Aneurin*

        Yes! I’ve just finished the first trilogy (with Paksenarrion as the main character) and really enjoyed it. I especially appreciate that Paks is canonically asexual*, which is extra unusual given the publication year of 1988 for the first book. (Heads up that what-is-clearly-intended-to-be-read-as-PTSD is dealt with at some length in books 2 and 3, in case that’s something you might have trouble with.)

        *she’s not referred to as “asexual” specifically, but it’s clear that that’s what she is, and it’s not a big deal in the text.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Ooohh Robin Hobb. I’m not even much of a fantasy reader, but I devoured her books several times over. I find her writing style such a joy, I can clearly see and feel everything in my head as I’m reading. The way she brings politics into her stories too made it so engrossing for me. Bonus if you’re an animal person, you’ll love the way she portrays the magical connection between humans bonded with animals.

      Start with Assassin’s Apprentice and the rest of her books carry on in the same world from there.

      1. JustForThis*

        I’d read Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Apprentice quite a few years back and enjoyed them, but I for some now elusive reason I must have stopped after those two. Thank you for pointing me to the series again! There seems to be much more to explore in that world. Thank you!

        1. allathian*

          Oh yes! Some of the books are a bit depressing, though, especially Assassin’s Apprentice. My favorite is the Liveship Traders trilogy, it has more interesting female protagonists as well.

          It’s odd, though, that as much as I like Robin Hobb, I can’t stand the stories she writes as Megan Lindholm, they’re far too grotesque for my taste.

      1. allathian*

        AMC herself would’ve been incensed to hear her work described as fantasy, that’s why the dragons were genetically engineered, and this is made clear in the introduction of the first book. She was a pioneer in showing gays in a privileged position (any dragonrider, even a lowly greenrider apprentice, has more status on Pern than most ordinary people dare to dream of having), but there are no lesbians on Pern (undoubtedly there are, but they get married off to a spouse of their father’s choosing and accept it as the natural order of things, and their sexual preference is never mentioned in the books). Some women do have positions of power, but they are few and far between, with the vast majority in very submissive roles as homemakers. She’s not a feminist writer by any stretch of the imagination.

        Granted, she was one of the pioneers, a woman who wrote sci-fi with a feminine name, in an era when many women writers used male or gender-neutral pseudonyms, or used initals to disguise their gender (Andre Norton, James Tiptree, Jr., C.J.Cherryh, etc.), even J.K. Rowling has been accused of doing the same, even if the author’s photo has been used frequently enough in marketing materials that her gender is no secret.

        (Please note, I was an avid AMC fan for a long time, starting in my early teens when I got Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern for my 14th birthday (it’s still my favorite Pern book). I was a moderator on her, now sadly defunct, fan forums, and a gifted, signed copy of A Gift of Dragons is one of my most prized possessions to this day, even if it’s been years since I last read it.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          (Moreta was my first AMC too, pulled out of my Easter basket when I was 9. :) )

        2. Generic Name*

          Pern is definitely more sci-fi, but dragons are a fantasy staple! She was my intro into the world of sci-fi/fantasy at age 14. Have you read the books written by her son? I don’t love those as much.

          1. allathian*

            No, I’ve skipped those, although I might give her daughter Gigi McCaffrey’s novel (Dragon’s Code) a go.

        3. The Dogman*

          “Some women do have positions of power, but they are few and far between, with the vast majority in very submissive roles as homemakers. She’s not a feminist writer by any stretch of the imagination.”

          She os describing a world (in the books set “later” in the convoluted timeline) that is clearly a medieval feudal structure, only the Lords Holder, Craftmasters and Weyr leaders have any actual power, and other than dragon riders everyone else is submissive, male and female.

          And if she would have been offended to be called fantasy that is sad, to me her Dragonriders series is a fantasy series set in a broader SciFi universe, and what is wrong with that? I don’t understand why that would upset anyone but I often don’t understand why people can be so touchy about things like that… called a metaller friend a goth once (thought he was a goth, honest mistake since they can be so similar looking in theme) and got the silent treatment for a few months…

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I get what you’re saying, I don’t understand why she was so touchy about that. But to her it was important that her works were based on (imaginary) science, rather than magic (even if there’s lots of fantasy that doesn’t involve anything supernatural).

            But she wrote in a few genres, mainly soft sci-fi, romance disguised as sci-fi (most of the non-YA Pern books could be read as bodice ripper romances), plain romance with no sci-fi elements, and her Freedom series got its start in a short story called The Thorns of Barevi, originally written as soft porn for Playboy magazine (although they didn’t buy it or publish it).

            1. The Dogman*

              “and her Freedom series got its start in a short story called The Thorns of Barevi, originally written as soft porn for Playboy magazine (although they didn’t buy it or publish it).”

              That I had no idea about… good info, cheers!

          2. Workerbee*

            If you wonder why folks can be “touchy,” I respectfully suggest doing a little digging to find out why. For example, I had always thought it was because Anne had not only grown up with male authors but started writing in an era that was still dismissive of women daring to write in a genre—sci-fi—that had been said to require a cishet male brain (if not in quite those words, the sentiment was the same). Her first book came out in the late 1960s. Not all that long ago, really…

            In any case, for her, “fantasy” meant “magic,” and she didn’t have magic in her books, so between that and the old boys’ club, heck yeah, she had the right to be touchy about what to call her works.

            1. allathian*

              I hadn’t actually connected the dots about the reason for her annoyance, but your reasoning makes sense.

            2. The Dogman*

              What confuses me about that sort of “touchy” is it inevitable that subjective statements or positions are exactly that, subjective…

              So if someone were to tell me they thought my writing, which I consider SciFi, was instead fantasy, or horror, or whatever I may not agree, but I don’t see why it would ever be worth getting angry about.

              So if someone tells me the sky is green, when I see it as blue I am more inclined to wonder why (colour blindness/a brain injury/wilfull-being-kind-of-a-dick-about-stuff) than to actually get into an arguement. And for something actually subjective like pigeonholing writing I really cannot see why anyone would waste the energy telling someone why they are “wrong”.

              But I am a bit weird…

      1. JustForThis*

        I’ve read her Xenogenesis series and still think about it, decades later. It poses such fundamental questions while telling a gripping story. (I didn’t mention her above because I think of that series as SF more than fantasy, but I’m not even sure whether this is a helpful distinction to make; I certainly like both. Do any of her other series lean more towards the fantasy end of the spectrum?)

    6. JustForThis*

      Thank you for all the wonderful recommendations so far! Of course I’ve forgotten some very good ones I’d read a while (or even decades) ago:

      Diana Wynne Jones: Howl’s Moving Castle
      Ursula LeGuin, The Earthsea Cycle
      and Edith Nesbit, definitely a cherished childhood favorite.

    7. Puffle*

      I love Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion novels (The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls).

      T. Kingfisher’s other novels are also great- I’ve never got into her fairytales, but Swordheart, the Clocktaur War duology and The Saint of Steel series are all outstanding.

      1. ronda*

        LMB also wrote a 4 book fantasy series called the sharing knife. the 1st novel upset some people cause it had a romance aspect, but the whole series was very good. (there is also at least one novella related to this series)
        Shards of Honor and Barrayar is a duo in a larger series of Vorkosigan books that has a strong female central character. Most of the other books focus on her son. More science fiction cause it is set in space, but really it is just a fantasy world in space, right?

        She also has been doing novellas (penric & desdemona) set in the challion world but at a different period in history. So she is also a wealth of reading materials if you like her.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Naomi Novik, whose Scholomance series (starts with A Deadly Education) is top notch. I am rereading the first two books, after first reading them a couple of months ago. Third book of three is due out in the fall. Our heroine is holding out against pressure (fate induced) to become a great dark sorceress, while trying to survive in her extremely lethal magical high school.

      She has a couple of takes on fairy tales, Uprooted and Spinning Silver, which for me hit that “this is well executed but not moving fast enough for me” spot. But like the Scholomance, a strong focus on female friendships that I really liked.

      Becky Chambers’ A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is fun space opera focused on relationships.

      For a different take, currently reading Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries about an agender, asexual rogue android. (Rather than go on a murder spree it decided to work through the equivalent of Netflix’s catalogue; the people around it keep distracting it with fast-unfolding crises.)

      1. Stitch*

        Naomi Novik standalone fantasy books (Uprooted and Spinning Silver) would be excellent for someone who likes Robin McKinley.

        I liked her alternate history dragon series too, which doesn’t get as much attention as her other works.

        1. J.B.*

          I agree with this, plus she has the scholomance series (with a third book coming that I didn’t expect!)

      2. Coenobita*

        I love the Murderbot Diaries!

        If you’re ok with something deeply weird (in a cool way but also in a way that makes you think “where did that even COME from?!?”), maybe try Gideon the Ninth/Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. The review quote on the back of the book is “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” and, yep, that’s exactly what it is.

      3. Autumn*

        Murderbot is a given, but Wells’ Wheel of the Infinite is also excellent, and is more fantasy/high magic. I also really enjoyed her Books of the Raksura. Her anthropology background brings a lot of richness.

        1. JustForThis*

          Oh, thank you so much for pointing me to Wells’ other books! I’ve recently devoured the Murderbot series, but somehow didn’t see the Wheel of the Infinite. This is definitely going on the list.

    9. Llellayena*

      Try Jaqueline Carey. I’d actually start with one of her newer novels, Starless. But she’s best known for her Kushiel’s Dart series. The Dart series is set (roughly) in renaissance France so you can’t escape some misogyny but it’s more peripheral and storyline helping and not endemic to the main characters.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Aggressively rough (both consensual and nonconsensual) sex is, however, endemic to the main character in the Kushiel books.

        1. Llellayena*

          True, my usual gauge on recommending that series is if you read 50 shades and aren’t offended. Her other books don’t have that theme though which is one reason I recommended Starless first.

      1. Tegan*

        Yes! Was hoping I wouldn’t be the first to mention Jemisin, the Broken Earth trilogy is brilliant and her characters are so incredibly well-written.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Jemisin is marvelous! I really loved THE CITY WE BECAME, an homage to the diversity of New York City – with a touch of Lovecraftian horror, though the novel reads more fantasy/suspense than out-and-out horror.

    10. AY*

      Helene Wecker has written a two book series beginning with the Golem and the Jinni that I love. It’s set in turn of the century NYC and really centers the immigrant experience there. A golem immigrates there from Eastern Europe and a Jinni from Syria. It’s so, so wonderful.

      Susanna Clarke might be my favorite fantasy author. She’s written the extremely long, extremely intricate Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as well as the extremely short, extremely moving Piranesi.

      And NK Jemisin of course! Her Broken Earth trilogy is wonderful, especially the first book. It follows three women in a world where some people have the ability to control the movements of the earth.

      I see you love Robin McKinley! Her book Beauty was my favorite book as a teenager. I read it dozens of times.

    11. Jen Erik*

      Someone (here I think) recommended Victoria Goddard’s ‘Hands of the Emperor’ as akin to The Goblin Emperor, and it really is.
      Nothing particularly new to add – Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion books are worth reading, Megan Whalen Turner – starts with ‘The Thief’, don’t read any reviews – I liked Wen Spencer’s Ukiah Oregon series back in the day, but I haven’t reread them recently, Zen Cho’s ‘Sorcerer to the Crown’, ‘Tooth and Claw’ by Jo Walton.

    12. SofiaDeo*

      I am enjoying the P.C. Cast various series, even though I am in my early 60’s. Older than their target audience, but strong female characters have me liking them immensely.

    13. J.B.*

      I’ve read a lot of things in your list lately. There is a sequel to the goblin emperor. I have found Laura Resnick which I enjoy, it merges modern mystery and fantasy and the main character is great.

      The bookstore chose a mystery book Differently Morphous by Yahtzee Croshaw which was fun and surprising, and I have Highfire by Eoin Colfer on their recommendation too.

    14. Generic Name*

      I primarily read novels written by women, and I love fantasy. Some favorite authors:

      Katherine Kerr
      Anne McCaffrey
      Juliet Marillier

    15. fposte*

      Since you’re not averse to YA (though some of these may do adult as well):

      Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles
      Nnedi Okorafor’s Nsibidi Scripts series
      Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer series

      If you’ll stretch to alternative history with zombies, Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation.

      1. JustForThis*

        Thank you very much for these recommendations! I’ve come across Nnedi Okorafor before (I think via N.K. Jemisin), but haven’t read any of her books yet. This will now change. The others on your list sound really interesting as well.

        (I’d characterise myself as someone who reads basically any text put in front of them, from the back of milk cartons to hermetic poetry (is there a difference?), but I have to admit that this image of myself is not quite true: I’ve always struggled with horror. YA, however, is very much within my comfort zone.)

        1. fposte*

          I am not a horror person but I make a few exceptions, such as Dread Nation, Peadar O Guilin’s The Call, Daniel Kraus’ Rotter, or Alexander Yates’ How We Became Wicked. Less focus on splatter, more on the messed up.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Seconding that Dread Nation rec. Not usually a horror person, I thought there was nothing new to do with zombies, but this story is excellent.

          Timeline split off mid Civil War when the dead rose and started eating everyone on both sides. Now a revanchist group dreams of returning to those good old days, and our young black heroine trains to be a lady’s bodyguard.

          I was reading this book when a revanchist mob stormed the capitol.

    16. Jay*

      The great Terry Pratchett has a number of books with amazing female casts. Any of the Witches books, the Tiffany Aching Books, the Miss Susan Books, and Monstrous Regiment, in particular, are female focused. Most of his many, many novels have powerful women/girls featured prominently. Basically, he had a daughter and wrote his female characters with her in mind.

    17. GoryDetails*

      Lots of my favorites have already been mentioned, but I didn’t see an entry for Elizabeth Bear; she does a variety of speculative fiction, from horror to SF and with plenty of genre-bending. Anthologies include THE CHAINS THAT YOU REFUSE and SHOGGOTHS IN BLOOM, and I absolutely loved her novel MACHINE. [That one’s SF, with a strong nod to James White’s delightful “Sector General” series about a galactic hospital staffed by all manner of aliens as well as humans.]

      1. Alaska_Blue*

        Yes to Elizabeth Bear! I love her writing! The Jenny Casey series is good, her after Ragnarok series makes me cry each time. Probably the only book of hers I won’t recommend is “Karen Memory” but I think that’s a me problem as I really don’t like reading books where the author writes in a western drawl for main characters over multiple pages.

    18. AceInPlainSight*

      This is my favorite genre! Mercedes Lackey, especially her Elemental Masters and 500 Kingdoms series, for light, feel good fairy tales. If you don’t mind grimmer fantasy (all the trigger warnings, but she handles it really well), NK Jemison is spectacular. Her Broken Earth trilogy deserves every award it got.

    19. GoryDetails*

      (Trying to keep up with what’s already been posted – quite a challenge!) Wanted to add a nod to Holly Black, whose DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST does some nice spins on the fey, with a horned boy in a glass coffin and what happens when he wakes up. A brother and sister – and their changeling friend Jack – get involved, and it’s a solid story blending modern-day characters with creatures out of myth.

    20. Red Sky*

      The His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers starting with Grave Mercy…basically assassin nuns. Each books features a different character’s story with the overarching plot playing out across the 3 books.

      Ymmv, but I loved Anne McCaffrey as a kid, however an attempted reread as an adult left me cringing with all the casual sexism and internalized misogyny

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I certainly don’t love her Pern novels as much as I did as a teen and in my early 20s. That said, I enjoy her non-Pern books a lot more than most of Pern.

    21. Reba*

      The Steerswoman series is so good, isn’t it? I’ll try to add some titles not already mentioned in this thread.

      I LOVED the Bear and the Nightingale series by Katherine Arden. Gorgeous, based on elements of Russian Folklore.

      Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series is for younger readers but a bit dark (in a good way).

      In the sword & sorcery genre, two series that I enjoyed because they are about “found family” groups of friends were the Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn, and the Harp and Ring series by Ilana Myer.

      With more modern/urban settings, I have really loved the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman, and the Greta Helsing series by Vivian Shaw.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Another vote for Katherine Arden. Just a heads up that you should not Google characters that you think may be based on historical figures. There are several, and you may ruin some plot twists.

      2. JustForThis*

        The Steerswoman series is phenomenal. I’ve tried to convince people around me to read it so that I have someone with whom to talk about all these glorious, juicy little hints pointing towards the yet elusive solution of the what-the-heck-is-going-on-here-riddle. Basically, I could easily go all-out-nerdy for that series, as in I’ve recently made a list of all wizards and their keeps and checked in detail which animals also encountered on earth are mentioned.

        Thank you so much for your other recommendations!

    22. Jortina*

      The Empirium Trilogy by Claire Legrande. As not a huge fantasy person there was a lot of world building IMO but really enjoyed the complex female characters.

    23. Nicki Name*

      Someone should mention that there’s now a second book set in the world of The Goblin Emperor. It’s called Witness for the Dead.

      Jody Lynn Nye’s Dreamland series is an old favorite of mine.

      Since Pern was mentioned, if we can include science fiction stories that use fantasy tropes, you might like Julian May’s Saga of Pliocene Exile.

    24. I edit everything*

      I just finished the York series by Laura Ruby (The Shadow Cipher, The Clockwork Ghost, and The Map of Stars). Great female characters, and an amazing story arc. It’s YA adventure/alt history/science fiction, set in New York City. Smart, intricate, emotional.

    25. Texan In Exile*

      You’ve probably already read my favorite, A Wrinkle in Time, but just in case.

      I also liked The Mists of Avalon, although I am troubled by the accusations the author has received.

      And does Clan of the Cave Bear count? I loved learning about all the medicinal herbs.

        1. allathian*

          Me too, and The Valley of Horses, as well as The Mammoth Hunters. The later books were basically repeats of the same plot over and over, though.

      1. JustForThis*

        I read the Clan of the Cave Bear when I was maybe 11 or 12 and was so fascinated by All. The. Sex! that I hardly remember anything else about it. (I guess it might be fun to find out how a reread would match that first reading experience.)

        1. allathian*

          And I thought I was young when I read it at 14! It’s been a while since I last read it, but from what I remember the sex scenes in the first book were completely non-consensual, and that really bothered me even at that age. I loved the descriptions of the cultural/biological differences between the Clan and the Others, even if it’s been shown that Neandertals have a similar hyoid bone to modern humans, and that they were thus capable of speech. I liked the sex better in the later books, even if they got to be a bit monotonous.

    26. Rara Avis*

      I’m currently rereading The Wind Witch by Susan Dexter. Tanya Huff is good too. Holly Lisle.

      1. Jen Erik*

        Thank you! I came back to reread everyone’s suggestions to find new authors to try, and it’s so helpful to have them listed all together.

        1. JustForThis*

          There are so many great recommendations and helpful comments in this thread that I wanted to organise them for myself anyway and thought other might like such a list as well. I might clean the list’s formatting up during the week and post a link to it again next weekend for anyone who might be interested but missed the link buried so far down this rich thread.

    27. CJ*

      I’ve recently loved AJ Lancaster’s Stariel series and CM Waggoner (duology, as yet no series name, I hope there’ll be more). Both gaslamp-ish fantasy though different in tone, both wonderful with great characters, relationships and worldbuilding.

    28. Huxley*

      Longtime FF reader and would recommend:

      Kate Elliott’s Jaran series (more SF than FF but fabulous) and the Crown of Stars series

      Marion Zimmerman Bradley’s Darkover books

      Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series

      1. allathian*

        MZB is dead and I’ll suspect we’ll never learn the full truth of what really happened, but she’s been accused of doing some dreadful things, including sexual abuse and rape of her own children, and helping her second husband, a convicted pedophile, get access to unrelated children for the purpose of abusing them. I guess it’s just as well that I never really got into the Darkover books, although I did like some of her short stories.

    29. AcademiaNut*

      A lot of good stuff here. I second T. Kingfisher, Becky Chambers, Victoria Goddard, Seanan McGuire, Katherine Addison, Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent Books, Bujold, Butler, Jemisin and Okorafor, Elizabeth Moon, Naomi Novik.

      Others: Theodora Goss’s Athena Club trilogy (featuring the daughters of literary mad scientists), V.E. Schwab (her shades of magic trilogy is excellent, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue also),

      On the YA side, Rachel Hartmann’s Seraphina books. Tess of the Road is a well done portrayal of a young woman dealing with the trauma of her earlier life, and forging a life she chooses. Patricia Wrede has some good stuff – the trilogy starting with Cecelia and the Chocolate Pot is great fun.

      Tanya Huff: great female characters, LGBT representation before it was mainstream, and a fun read. She’s got urban fantasy, high fantasy, and military sci-fi, and excellent Canadian content.

      On the more classic side, Ursula Le Guin’s books are excellent. Reading the whole Earthsea set in chronological order has a really interesting exploration of gender roles in magic. Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey are old favourites of mine – McCaffrey’s stuff is a product of its time, but was groundbreaking when it came out. With Lackey, I stopped reading her new stuff about 15 years ago, finding that the quality had declined to the point where I didn’t enjoy it any more.

    30. OtterB*

      Lots of things I love mentioned already (Bujold, Martha Wells’s Wheel of the Infinite and Raksura books, also City of Bones, Kingfisher’s paladin books, The Hands of the Emperor.)

      Not yet mentioned, I don’t think:

      Sharon Lee, series beginning with Carousel Tides. Small town Maine with amusement park, spirits of land and sea. Present day with folkloric magic in the background.

      Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamourist histories, Regency England with magic, romance.

      Melissa Scott, Astreiant series.

      Juliet E McKenna, Green Man series. Son of a dryad and a human in modern England, able to see the nonhumans who mingle among us.

    31. WS*

      Not a book recommendation, but years ago I bounced off the Wheel of Time series very hard – it had a ton of female characters but was always setting them up to fail and be humiliated, or talking about their breasts, or doing the whole “women! so mysterious!” thing. The TV series so far (apart from one death in the first episode) has done far better with the same characters.

    32. Skeeder Jones*

      I loved Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. There is a very untraditional and strong female character that I loved

    33. Daisy Gamgee*

      Nghi Vo has written some gripping, fascinatingly worldbuilt books, including Empress of Salt and Fortune and When The Tiger Came Down The Mountain.

    34. Cimorene*

      My all time fave fantasy author is Patricia Wrede. I love her YA series Dealing with dragons but she is also very prolific. I think my favorite adult fantasy were Caught in Crystal and Raven Ring (I think a lot of her books are loosely set in same world but also stand alone). Also liked Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

    35. Tofu Fan*

      Tons of great recs already. I’ll add a few that may not have been mentioned:

      Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
      The Spirit Lens and the other Collegia Magica books by Carol Berg
      The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

      The Fantasy Book Cafe blog has done some special events focusing on women in speculative fiction and the recs that came of it were compiled into a lengthy list,
      http://sffwomen.fantasybookcafe.com/list2020.html, which is a fantastic resource.

    36. Esmeralda*

      Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population. The protagonist is an elderly woman. I think it is her best book.

  12. Doesn't Follow Trends*

    I’ve muted for 30 days everyone who posts their Wordle scores on Facebook. hoping this craze passes by then.

    Does this make me a curmudgeon? Do I need to do some introspection as to why such a silly little thing irritates me so much?

    1. Wordler*

      I mean, it’s a fun little game that people are enjoying. If something so harmless is bothering you that much, there’s probably a reason why that is. Whether it’s worth the effort to figure it out is really up to you.

      Imma keep posting mine (on Twitter, not FB, tho, because FB users are what annoy me ;p).

      1. Name Goes Here*

        This seems a bit uncharitable. Like DFT, I have Wordle muted on Twitter (not on FB, because I still want to see the non-Wordle posts of friends who are playing it) –– I’m glad that people are enjoying playing! Please enjoy! I (we?) just enjoy a timeline that is not five little black-green-and-yellow grids all in a row.

        1. Julie*

          How on earth is this uncharitable? The OP asked if they should reflect on why a minor, harmless thing annoys them a lot and this reply boils down to “sure, if you want to”.

          I’ve noticed a big increase in commenter scolding each other for being uncharitable, unkind or hostile recently when it’s really just someone with a different opinion.

          1. Courageous cat*

            God, right? Why do we have to come down on everyone for being uncharitable or ungenerous now if someone doesn’t say something 100% pure agreement and kindness? Have def noted this trend too. It’s ok to have differing opinions, y’all. We don’t have to always agree with each other just to be nice.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It would annoy me too, but luckily the people I know who do it keep adding new comments to the same post instead of making new ones. (But I am also an easily annoyed curmudgeon and well practiced at scrolling the little things or the people who annoy me.)

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      Hah, no, I think anything that’s pervasive that isn’t your thing is annoying when it’s everywhere. If I could have muted the entire existence of Game of Thrones I would have.

      (Personally I love Wordle and get a lot of joy from it, including from the community aspect, but I can see how it’s annoying to others.)

    4. Turtle Dove*

      I play Wordle and love it, and I find posting scores irritating.

      For me Wordle is a private pleasure. I keep my scores to myself. That’s how I use Facebook anyways: I’m there mostly to see family photos, and I rarely post. I’m probably a curmudgeon.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yes I enjoy wordle and my parents play it with me, but it’s a little dull to see people post their scores, unless it’s something really unusual like getting it one guess – and before I was playing it myself, it was even more annoying because I didn’t know what it meant anyway, so interesting content was being replaced by little boxes. Twitter does a bad job of hiding content unless you mute the word, which is irritating to me as I want to mute the scores themselves but not necessarily conversation *about* wordle.

    5. Purt’s Peas*

      Yes you’re a curmudgeon but who cares! Enjoy it; being grouchy about some small thing without being a stinker is your god given right as a person who exists in society.

    6. ecnaseener*

      Muting is free and easy and they’ll never know. You’d be a curmudgeon if you actually grumped at them! I’m a big fan of muting content that you don’t enjoy seeing.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Agreed with this! Muting something that annoys you just means you’re curating your space. Actually snarking at people for it would make you a curmudgeon, IMO. So mute away and enjoy the lack of squares!

        (I don’t mind Wordle, personally. The only thing that annoyed me the other day was when I saw someone post a screenshot of their correct guess with the word actually shown. I thought, “Thanks for making it impossible for me to play today, friend!” lol)

      2. Eden*

        This. You’re not writing people out of your will and swearing eternal bloodfeuds. You’re just preemptively saving yourself some scrolling. It’s fine!

    7. Golden*

      I don’t think so. I am somewhat decent about exercising and eating healthy, and don’t have any triggers related to those topics, but I mute people that mainly post that type of thing. It just doesn’t interest me!

      I must live under a rock because this is only the second time I’ve heard of Wordle though, so my perception may be off about how pervasive it is.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Is there room in this space for me also? :-D
        (I’d never heard of Wordle until Facebook began sending me notifications.)

    8. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Nah, I sometimes wish I could have muted a lot of stuff. Social media is fine and mutable, but sometimes even actual newspapers start reporting on these things. I know most plotlines of Game of Thrones, what happened in Temptation Island, or who the mole is without watching any of those shows because they just keep following me.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I don’t think you need to do any introspection unless you’re snapping at people for posting their scores; muting temporarily is like walking away from a party conversation about curling because you’re not interested in the sport.

      I’m on a Discord server where a bunch of people are posting about Wordle, in a dedicated thread that other people can ignore (or mute that channel entirely for a while), which means we can post about gameplay and the rest of the world can go on and talk about weather or Shakespeare or animal pictures.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      So I had never heard of this before. (I don’t do social media.) And just now my husband sent me his Wordle score. (At least, I think that’s what it is.)

      I am perplexed.

    11. Girasol*

      Washington Post had an article yesterday on why people love Wordle that mentions how its pattern-finding is like ritual, letting us experience a sort of holiness or spirituality, how we use to to connect with others and thus become part of something bigger than ourselves, and how we use it to show our honest selves and be seen as we are by others. It sounded as though the meaning in life that we are all seeking could at last be found in Wordle.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I only just started playing it. I only post scores when I do it in just a few guesses. Best so far is three. :)

      2. Esmeralda*

        I like it because it does require some logical thinking and knowledge of the English language.
        It’s fast.
        And you can’t play it obsessively— one word a day.

        I dunno about holiness and ritual tho.

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I think it’s ok to not like something. I don’t think it’s ok to rant about it and cast aspersions on those who do enjoy it and/or post about it (not you!!)

      Someone still mystified at the influx of snow pictures from ppl who have lived in that climate for years and ranted about it once 12 years ago.

    13. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Go ahead and keep muting everything that annoys you on social media! Curate your online experience to be as pleasant as you can!

      Think of it this way: if all your friends were meeting in person, and all they did was shout high scores, you would probably eventually say something to move the conversation along, or just leave the room to a more interesting discussion. You can’t do that on social media, so all you can do is tune out the things you don’t find interesting. It’s not rude or shocking to search out only things you’re personally interested in, and it doesn’t hurt your friends if you aren’t seeing all their scores.

    14. RagingADHD*

      Q1: Yeah, kinda.

      Q2: Nope. You’re allowed to be as curmudgeonly as you want as long as you’re not rude to people.

    15. Pyramids*

      Mute as needed, embrace your inner curmudgeon.

      On a grander scale, I’m interested in the Wordle backlash. I’m a daily Wordler who posts scores occasionally, mostly when I flame out or if it’s tricky. I like hearing people’s strategies, what trips them up, etc. Wordle has only been big for a couple weeks but almost from day 1 I’ve seen grumbles. I think of how many play-by-plays of All The Sports, and of reality shows I don’t watch, and the Animal Crossing craze earlier, and yet I just scrolled on. I can see how daily scores with no context filling up your timeline could be annoying, but then just mute (as the OP here is.) Why some people need to make a really public noise about it seems rude. You do you, let me do Wordle.

      Again, a reflection of what I see in my slice of social media, not an indictment of OP. :)

    16. i will do it anon*

      I love Wordle but I also made sure to start a separate thread for it on my friends Discord server – its very boring if you don’t play.

    17. *daha**

      Wordle is a minor pleasure, and a consistent one, and I share my scores. That’s me. I suppose there’s something that’s displeasurable to you about those colored box arrays, and if it is worth it to you to miss all the other posts from the people who share their scores, well, that’s you and facebook is your pleasure place. Balance your leisure activity the way you like.

    18. fluffy*

      I, too, was grumpy about wordle until I took the time to follow the rules and solved one. But I have a lot of time on my hands. So I understand your feelings. But I wouldn’t say no to a procedure to help me be more accepting of what has been a minor irritation

    19. Purple Cat*

      Yes, it makes you a curmudgeon, but we’re all allowed to make those decisions for ourselves :)
      I post my scores and I know it annoys some people, but the fact that you don’t want to see ANYTHING from these people for 30 days just over one wordle post a day I think says more about your relationships in general with your newsfeed and you possibly need to consider why you’re FB Friends with them in the first place.

    20. Esmeralda*

      Nah, I love wordle, sometimes post my result (mostly when it’s terrible), and mostly scroll past others scores cuz it’s actually boring. One friend likes to work backwards to see if they can figure out your first attempt (#1 word nerd lol).

      No need for introspection. It’s just one of those little peeves, everybody’s got them.

    21. Texas*

      I don’t think it makes you a curmudgeon; that’s what the mute function is for. Not interacting with content you’re not interested in makes sense.

    22. Middle School Teacher*

      Um… kind of, yes. Why not just scroll by, like we’re always being advised to do here?

    23. KR*

      You’re not a curmudgeon! It’s ok to mute. The beauty of social media is that you can curate your experience.

  13. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Runners of AAM: Am I crazy for signing up for a full marathon and deliberately planning not to finish it? Do you think that once I start, it’s going to be irresistible to run all 26.2?

    To better explain the situation, I have this harebrained scheme to run the Brooklyn Marathon and drop out at mile 17. Mile 17 is when the race reaches Coney Island, which will be the most beautiful part of the race, and Coney also has been a really meaningful place for me throughout my life. After that, the race loops back on Ocean Parkway, repeating the most dull ​part of the course for 5+ miles, and finishes with a loop in Prospect Park. That park is extremely hilly and steep hills have led to injuries for me in past years (and this is when I’m fresh, not after having just run 23 miles), which I’ve just now overcome. And in the five marathons I’ve already run, I have a history of my quadriceps melting down around mile 19 and the last 10K being an exercise in torture.

    I signed up for the full marathon (so that I don’t draw the attention of race marshals) and will officially “count” this race as my 40th career half marathon, and just tacking on four miles at the end. There seems to be nothing for me to gain by running past Coney Island (mile 17), but everyone I’ve mentioned this plan to is skeptical. They all think I’m going to decide to finish the race once I’m actually running it. What do you think, runners? Am I crazy?

    1. Angstrom*

      Not a runner, a cyclist, but I understand. I think you’ll be fine if you’re saying “This is my finish line” as opposed to “I want to see how far I can get.” You’re setting a reasonable goal. Have friends waiting for you, and plan to celebrate a good run and being where you want to be.

      Life is too short to grind out miles for the sake of grinding out miles.

    2. Cormorannt*

      Nope, not crazy. Honestly that sounds lovely. I’ve known people who signed up for marathons intending to use them as 20 mile training runs for other races, so it’s not unheard of. Only you can say if the draw of finishing will tempt you past mile 17. Personally, I’d be okay if that were my plan from the start. 17 tends to be where I start wondering what the heck I was thinking. The fact that I said I’d do the whole thing pushes me to finish. If I’d already told everyone I was only going 17, I’d be getting a huge cup of coffee and heading off for breakfast in a heartbeat.

    3. Emily*

      The marathoner in me is all “OH MY GOD NOOOOO”, but I realize that’s probably not helpful to you, ha! The only thing I would consider is: will there actually be a way for you to get back to where you need to go (start line and/or finish line) to pick up your gear check, etc? I’d be worried about getting stuck somewhere on the course without a way back.
      Also, this is going to be your 40th (!!!!) marathon! Would you miss all the hoopla of the finish line for such a big accomplishment? Just a thought! Either way, you are a total rock star, and congrats on gearing up for another race!

      1. SpiderWort*

        This is a good point. You’d want to notify race officials you’re dropping, and if you need a SAG wagon to get you off the course. If you’re not using their resources to get out of coney island that may also take some planning – I’m not familiar with this particular race but often, transportation in the area gets disrupted so it’s easy to get stuck.

        1. Cormorannt*

          If the OP does want to go to the finish area and not just head home, I would recommend a plan for public transit or ride share or something. It’s not an issue of race resources if she’s a registered participant, but the SAG wagon can be a slow journey back to the finish line as it picks up stragglers.

      2. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Thanks for these thoughts… Luckily, neither getting back to the start nor picking up my gear will be a problem. I live locally to the race, and if I read the course map correctly, the 17 mile mark is right near the Stillwell Avenue subway hub, where family will be waiting with my stuff and we can all take public transit back home. (The race might disrupt some bus lines, but it won’t stop subway service.) The only thing that I realized won’t work with this plan as I originally imagined it is that I won’t be able to get Nathan’s French fries at my makeshift finish line, because the race starts at 7 am and even given how slowly I run, it’ll still be too early for lunch by the time I get to Coney Island. Oh well.

        And while I love the idea of being a 40 time marathoner, I’ve actually only run five full marathons! I’ve run 39 *half* marathons so far. Still an accomplishment but not the same level of rock star. Will I miss the hoopla of the finish line? I guess it’s possible. I feel like I’m kind of over competitive running after obsessing about finishing times for so many years and then not racing at all during the pandemic, but once adrenaline is going on race day, it’s hard to say.

    4. AY*

      I’m not a distance runner and would never attempt a marathon (though I have done the half) but it seems to me a better choice would be just picking a half marathon you’d actually like to complete? Maybe in a city you’ve always wanted to visit so it feels more festive and celebratory?

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        I want to do that, too. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. What draws me to this particular race is that I’m a Brooklynite and have waited all my life for a marathon on the streets of Brooklyn that runs through Coney Island. Unfortunately, it took so long to become reality that I’m no longer really willing or probably physically capable of covering the distance.

    5. o_gal*

      I think you can do this, but please find a way to alert race officials that you are not going on. They probably keep track of who all has not crossed the official finish line. You may introduce what is, in their perspective, and emergency situation where a runner is lost. That may cause them to send out emergency services.

      1. Coenobita*

        That was my first thought too! Definitely make sure you find a marshal or safety volunteer or someone before you leave the course, and tell them that you’re dropping out.

      2. Buni*

        yup, just before lockdown a friend of mine noped out at mile 18 of a ‘fun’ marathon because – word of a lie – she went past a frozen yoghurt shop and was just like ‘welp, priorities’. Several hours later she remembered to turn her phone back on and found she was the subject of an official search complete with police etc….

        1. Cormorannt*

          That is bizarre to me. I’ve mostly done larger marathons, where there might be thousands of runners who don’t finish. There’s usually a time limit, and whenever the time limit is reached, runners who have not crossed the finish line are marked DNF. I’ve never been in a marathon where there is even a mechanism for reporting that you are leaving. They definitely sweep the course for people still on it who may be struggling, but if you leave, well you’re an adult and you can go get a yogurt if you like. Did friends or family report them missing?

      3. Cormorannt*

        Not at a marathon. People don’t finish all the time. If you leave the course, they won’t go looking for you. The OP will be listed in the results as a DNF (did not finish) and that’s about it.

      4. Runner advice*

        This will be covered in the race booklet, usually, or one of the volunteers or marshals when you pick up your packet can tell you about it. A DNF usually requires me to notify a volunteer at a given place that I’m officially dropping from the course –– though, I’ve done a lot of races in remote mountainous areas, so YMMV for a highly populated area such as NYC.

      5. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        I’ll ask a race official at the expo just in case, but being a veteran of many road races in NYC, I very highly doubt their radar would be pinged in the slightest if I didn’t finish the race. About 2 or 3 percent of runners in any race don’t. I’ll just be in their system as “did not finish.” Potentially it would cause problems if I checked something at bag check and never came back for it, but given the COVID situation, I’m not sure there’d even be a gear check.

    6. Runner advice*

      I’m a runner (2 marathons, 4 ultras, and so many at other distances I’ve lost count, which I mention to boost my cred in giving advice, lol). One of the things I appreciate most about our sport is the ethos of running in a way that feels good to you; whether you go 2 miles at 12 min/mile or 20 at 7 min/mile, you’re a runner, and you’re crushing it. So, go run your 17 miles if it feels good to you. It’s not weird.

      If on the day of, you decide you want to finish, you can certainly do that, but ultimately, your choices about how you like to run are what matters.

    7. Double A*

      I’ve only run two marathons, but in my experience the only way to finish is to be very determined to finish. I would quit at the very first out, and mile 18 is where things get grim. So personally if I told myself I only needed to make it to mile 17, there’s no way I’d “just” run another 9 miles.

      I’m not as competitive as some, though.

    8. Ampersand*

      Not crazy! Actually this sounds saner than running a full marathon—I’m a runner, but I don’t do marathons because…it sounds like torture. :) this sounds like a happy medium and you should do what makes you happy.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Thank you. Saner, probably. The funny thing is that if the race were set up with a finish at Coney Island, and the race officials somehow reallocated the 5 miles used for the up-and-back I don’t particularly want to run to a different part of Brooklyn, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all. I’d be planning to withstand the torture — and having run 5 marathons already, I can say that miles 20 through 26 of a marathon truly are torture when you’re not in world-class shape.

    9. The teapots are on fire*

      It’s not crazy. The one marathon I ran, it was so hot that the leader of our pace group dropped out (they had gotten ahead of me and I saw her waiting for pickup around Mile 18. I finished, but very slowly).

      If your impulse control fails you and you decide to finish, remind yourself it’s fine to take all the walk breaks you need.

    10. Spelling has become strangely fun...*

      I’ve only ever run shorter distances, but I can understand the thought that you will begin with one goal in mind and then change to a different goal halfway through. If it were me and my primary concern was whether or not I would keep on going in a “why not just finish?” mindset, I would plan for something to do after reaching Coney Island and finishing. Something that would help hold me accountable to my original plan and would make it mentally harder to change my plans. You say you have family meeting you and that you were originally going to get a hotdog. Will knowing your family is waiting for you at the 17-mile mark be enough for you to go ahead and stop or would it be a realistic possibility that you would tell them you had changed your mind and they would be OK with it and then change their plans? If it’s the former, I would say don’t worry about it. If it’s the latter, can you find a substitute activity for getting a hotdog, something else that you can anticipate that would be incentive enough to you that it would outweigh whatever desire you have to just keep running the race? The strength of that impulse to keep going will vary from person to person, so you could just find whatever fits for you that will tip the scales in favor of stopping.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Oh- the hills in Prospect Park? Maybe still easier to take care of your legs if it’s at the beginning of the race though.

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        I’ve run the NYRR Brooklyn Half probably ten times. It’s a great race but in no way comparable. The race I’m running starts in Williamsburg, hugs the coastline for awhile, and runs through downtown Brooklyn before taking on more or less the normal Brooklyn Half route. In my (crazy?) mind, too good to pass up.

    11. University Schlep*

      Heck, I have signed up for races just because it happened to be a decent training run for what I was really interested in. A training run with support. This isn’t that much different if you don’t mind spending the cash on it. I would never wear the shirt though. :D

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, signing up for races as training runs is a completely normal thing to do. It gives you a bit of support and it means you can practise the whole race day routine as well as getting a long run in. I have also taken part in an event and deliberately not finished – it was a 20-mile organised training run (not a race) designed for people doing the London Marathon, but my marathon was two weeks before London so it was my last long run and I only needed/wanted to do 16 miles. I was visiting my parents that weekend and didn’t fancy running 16 miles on my own, so I asked the running club organising the 20-miler if I could join in but drop out early. I made it clear I was happy to be responsible for myself, I notified the organisers that I’d be stopping at 16 miles, and my dad came and picked me up when I was finished. That was a bit different because it was a much more low-key thing and if I hadn’t told them my plans they’d have been waiting for me at the end – I think with a big, fully organised race you’re probably absolutely fine to just stop when you want to stop. Hundreds of people DNF at the London Marathon every year. But I’d definitely notify a marshal so that they don’t worry about why you’re stopping, or just in case they’d be worried about you not having finished.

  14. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Gardening thread: what’s going on in your indoor, outdoor or imaginary garden?

    I’ve stumbled on some issues this week that I’d love advice on if anyone has any…

    Has anyone successfully gotten rid of spider mites and your plant recovered? I realised the problem too late and they already seem to be through a few of my living room plants. I’ve blasted the leaves with a hose, repotted, doused with an appropriate insecticide and am leaving them outside to recover in a brightly lit (quarantined) spot to give them their best shot at putting out new growth. But it’s always been my experience that from here it’s just a slow, drawn out death – so I’m wondering if there’s actually any hope or if I should just quit now and bin them before they potentially spread on to other plants?

    Has anyone successfully frozen beans from their veggie patch that still tasted good when thawed and lightly cooked? And how did you do it – straight in the freezer? Or trimmed or blanched first? Vacuum packed? I really need to rein in my enthusiasm and remember to progressively sow…. I have about 60 bean stalks coming in to flower, so yeah… not my smartest moment.

    And lastly: cutworms! What I thought was the heat destroying everything in one of my veggie beds appears to be a teeming bed of cutworms freshly awoken by all the rain! Third time trying to get this bed going I’m using more advanced seedlings, collars, and a liberal application of thuringiensis. I hope that’ll be enough, but keen to hear from anyone who’s had experience getting rid of them!

    1. The Dogman*

      Spidermites can be killed with a dish soap solution.

      Get a sprayer bottle, half fill with warm water, add a fair squirt of washing up liquid type dish soap.

      Spray soapy solution on plants affected.

      Spidermites should die of in under a month if you spray every other day for a week, then weekly.

      Plants should be unaffected.

      With cutworms my mother likes to use toilet paper roll centres (the cardboard tubes) to protect early seedlings, but with some plants she just puts the seedlings in a pot til they are mature enough and then the cut worms do not cause issues for the adult plants.

      best of luck, can’t help with the beans much but I imagine the quickest freezing is the best option, but most household freezers are not cold enough to flash freeze veg sadly.

    2. Venus*

      I listen to Ed Lawrence because he is so calm and reassuring, and has great advice.
      “Mix 40 parts water with 1 part liquid soap, not detergent (20 oz. spray bottle plus one tablespoon soap) Spray plant thoroughly and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse with spray of clear, room temperature water. Repeat three times over a 10-day period.”

      The key is to spray everywhere, under the leaves in particular. Also, use dishwashing soap (Dawn is one, I think) and nothing else. Most people don’t have true dishwashing soap and he is very clear about that part. He recommends spraying in the shower, so you can turn on the shower to rinse.

      I also use toilet rolls for cutworms. I cut them in half for the smaller seedlings.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        What’s “true dishwashing soap” – in terms of ingredients or chemical compound? Is it like castille? In Australia, Dawn is just regular dishwashing liquid with the same additives as every other brand.

        1. Venus*

          I feel guilty for saying it without having a good answer, but I’ve never had to look it up, sorry! I only know that whenever the topic comes up the difference is described as being very important. This also seems to apply to bathing kittens covered in fleas. Sorry for a lazy answer!

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Oh, please don’t feel guilty – I appreciate your answer! Between colloquialisms and culture differences, cleaning ingredients are a minefield of interpretation… my mind was blown when I realised that washing soda is a very different thing to bicarb soda. We also have a dry product called Lux soap flakes which is supposed to be “pure soap”, but it’s sold as a laundry product so I don’t know if that’s remotely the same thing or not!

            1. Venus*

              The one thing I remember is that almost every kitchen product is wrong, as it mentions having to look hard to find the true soap. Of course results may vary internationally!

    3. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

      I’m a beginner so no advice for you, but I am feeling the call of spring :)

      Last year I grew a LOT of veggie plants from seeds. It got very overwhelming, there were thrips, I barely harvested anything, people kept commenting on what a jungle I had going on (I have an enclosed balcony that is quite visible/eye-catching to passers-by). I decided this year was going to be a year of flowers instead (+ a strawberry plant at most) so I got some geranium seeds in the soil two weeks ago (all are tiny sprouts now!) and I’m planning to buy some established geraniums and maybe roses or fuchsias when it gets warmer. Very excited about this! (Some of my neighbours have very #goals balconies that are constantly chock full of blooms.)

      I also have a bit of an indoor jungle and spent much of this rainy Saturday showering them, potting up cuttings (and taking new cuttings whoops) etc. I went from three pilea peperomioides plants and a tradescantia in 2020 to around 50 plants by the end of 2021… so I’m trying to find my priorities/how I would like my collection to develop this year. I want to try all the things (I like seeing how different plants grow) but I also want my home to look good rather than overwhelming. I’ve enacted a moratorium on taking pilea cuttings, and on buying plants online (we have some wonderful plant shops within cycling distance and I know I prefer the plants I get to interact with before buying (sorry if that’s weird lol)). I’m also keen to avoid pests and humidity issues so have decided on no calatheas, anthuriums or alocasias coming home with me. And of course my well-lit spaces are limited (not prepared to get grow lights at the moment) – and most of it is south-facing which is great much of the year but too intense for most plants for 3-4 months in the summer.

      I’m planning a trip to my favourite nursery tomorrow to buy some “gear” but NOT plants, wish me luck :p

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Oh, you grew a COVID jungle too! LOL You and I both know that you are coming home with plants tomorrow… so just set yourself a # or $ budget now and accept what will be.

        I have the perfect sub-tropical climate for calatheas and alocasias, and I absolutely love their colours and textures. Yet even here I find them too fussy to bother with trying to keep. If you’re into that kind of thing, I’ve found aglaonemas to be a much better substitute. They’re extremely hardy, resilient to pests, tolerant of low light, and available in a good variety of interesting patterns and colours.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      For the beans, I blanch them, drain well, and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Then I pack them into ziploc quart bags, squeeze any extra air out, and store in the freezer. I find that they last about a year, but are better in the first 6 months.

    5. Tegan*

      We just bought our house last summer in Georgia, so I’m in the middle of planning my first vegetable garden and getting ready to start seeds in the next week or two (and I definitely have no advice on the beans or cutworms). I’m going to try square foot gardening and keep the footprint relatively small to start (8ft x 4ft), I’m really excited! I’ve had very mixed success growing things outside previously, but after getting an Aerogarden for my birthday a couple years ago and keeping that plus some houseplants alive and well for the last year, I’m feeling a little more confident in my plant-tending skills and ready to try going back outside with them.

      The Aerogarden is empty right now since I’m going to use it to start seeds for the veggies, but after that I’m going to get some salad greens going. Previously I’ve done lots of herbs and then some cherry tomatoes for several months, it was fun having tomatoes growing right on the kitchen counter! I have had spider mites on some herbs in it once, and doing the dish soap/water solution worked for me. I sprayed every other day for 5 days or so – at that point they looked gone, but I did it once a week for a couple weeks after that just to make sure.

      I do have a question for any other gardeners around this weekend – any experience or tips with growing camellia sinensis to eventually make your own tea? We are in zone 7b so it should do OK here, and since we’re finally somewhere I know we’ll stay for quite a while, I don’t mind starting the several-year investment that I’ve heard it takes before you can start making tea. But I’d love any tips or anecdotes from anyone else here who has done it!

    6. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      Imaginary garden…. I love roses, because they are awesome and also one of the few cat safe plants out there. Also, I’ve always had this abstract dream of growing rare herbs and plants and selling them to cooks and restaurant supply stores at exorbitant prices. Just such a niche thing to do, so it appeals to me. If you are a fan of the Cat Who books, you maybe remember the awful high school principal who was killed off, but grew saffron to sell, seemingly at high prices. I wonder how I get started with that?

    7. just another bureaucrat*

      Indoor garden, aerogardens for me. I am finally trying some not pre-made ones. The pepper I picked is looking lush and lovely. The lavender smells good and is growing very slowly. The rosemary is just not happening. The strawberries are finally starting but slow so we’ll see. And the cilantro isn’t happening yet either but I’ve not given that as much of a shot as the rosemary.

      My normal basil and tomatoes and thyme are all still coming along beautifully. I’ve kept the same thyme for months and it just sort of is lovely and green and I’ll walk by and pet it to make it smell occasionally because it smells so good.

      I did take apart all the machines last week though and cleaned out even the motors which I think helped as they were getting a little green. I don’t think I’d ever pulled the motors out and cleaned them before so I need to put that on my rotation.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’ve had good luck with cilantro and parsley – indeed, more of both than I was quite ready to use, though a batch of tabbouleh will take care of the parsley bounty, and some guacamole helped put a dent in the cilantro harvest!

        I’m not surprised that the rosemary wasn’t happy; it’s supposedly more of a desert plant, hot/dry/scanty-low-fertility-soil, none of which fits with a hydroponic setup. But maybe there are varieties that work better under those circumstances?

        1. just another bureaucrat*

          This is really good to know. I will stop fighting the rosemary battle, I do love it but if it’s not meant for my garden tools then that’s ok.

          I’m really excited to hear the cilantro worked out for you though, I’m going to give that one another good try. I’d love to have it. I’ve had the too much to use issue with the basil in the past but it’s a really good problem to have.

      2. Polopoly*

        I don’t do cilantro in the aerogarden. It’s a cool weather crop so direct sow it in a container early spring for the first round. You can let some of the plants go to seed in heat of the summer, and harvest the coriander seeds as a spice and for planting again in late summer or fall. usually goes to early December around here.

    8. BlueWolf*

      I’m still in the planning stages, but I’m doing inventory of all my seeds and planning my seed starting. I’m adding a second raised bed this year, so I’m adding more varieties of vegetables, which is exciting. Last year was my first year, so it was a lot of trial and error, and I think I have a better idea of where to place things and how much to grow of each. I’m also planning to do an herb spiral for all my herbs. It will be near our patio and visible from our kitchen window. Supposedly the herb spiral allows for sort of microclimates to grow herbs with different light and moisture requirements, so we’ll see how it goes.

    9. Quiet Liberal*

      I usually give up on spider mites and toss the diseased plants. I think by the time I realize I have an infestation, it’s a lost cause. Maybe I’ll try to spray plants “prophylacticly” (is that a word?) with the dish soap spray next summer to see if I can head them off.

      For cutworms, we sprinkle cornmeal around the young green bean plants until they are large enough to to be left alone. Just shake a bit all around the stem in the evenings. It’s worked great for us.

      We like to harvest green beans when they are young and tender. We snap the ends and blanch for about a minute until they turn bright green, then drain well. We have a food saver and vacuum seal about a pound in each bag. They freeze well and keep for a couple of years.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I would not have thought the beans would last that long, I guess the food saver really lives up to its name! We have one on hand, so good to know.

    10. GlowCloud*

      Yo, plants are my jam! This week, our Alpine Garden Society seeds arrived in the post, and I’ve started sowing them into pots! The cold-frame has survived last night’s gale-force winds, so I’m happy.

      Spider mites have soft bodies that are desiccated by contact with soap or alcohol. They are also so tiny their breathing is compromised by humidity, and they breed less rapidly at temperatures below 75F, so if your plant can tolerate a cooler zone, and consistent misting, they’ll be fine.
      As for recovery… It really depends how extensive the feeding damage, and what type of plant, but most plants will recover from even a severe attack, unless the mites managed to transmit a virus.
      It’s unlikely that mites alone would kill a healthy plant unless you leave them to munch for too long before treating the problem. Are your plants very young, or stressed to begin with? Or are you possibly ‘shocking’ your plant in your attempt to get rid of the mites? e.g. treating them to sudden intense periods of heat or cold… like an icy blast from a hose in January? That could be more kill than cure…
      I’d always recommend being vigilant & trying to keep the population controlled, since plant pests are usually only truly harmful in large numbers. https://www.cannagardening.com/spider-mite-pests-diseases

      I blanch my Broad beans – literally throw them in boiling water for just long enough to change colour a little, and then straight into cold water, dry on a towel, then freeze in a bag.
      I let some of my runner beans dry in the pods on the vine last year, before shelling them and storing them dry in a paper bag for a few months. They’re good for slow-cooked stews or chilli.

      For cutworms, cultivate the soil a few times to expose the grubs to birds before you plant anything. You could also break their lifecycle by covering the bed in Autumn, to prevent the adult moths from laying their eggs.
      If you still get them this year, you might be able to go out at night and pick them off your veg by hand, but it’s a bit labour-intensive.

      Hope that helps, Expiring Cat Memes!

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        A blast from the garden hose is usually welcomed by all things plant, animal and human here :) It’s summer and I’m in the subtropics, so our days are typically low 20’s (min) to mid 30’s (max) celsius with 80% humidity. I guess that means the spider mites are breeding as madly as they are able while being short of breath, LOL!

        I think they got to munch too long before I realised they were there. The plants were perfectly healthy a few weeks ago, it’s just unfortunately always my favourite begonias that I have trouble tossing out!

  15. Anima*

    This is not a school question, I promise.

    So, I failed two exams last semester and am going to retake them soon – on top of three other exams. I was really worried to fail anything at all and quite devastated as I did, expecting something bad to happen to me – but nothing happened. Not even my spouse being disappointed in me. Rather, he gave me tipps and helped me learn (where he could).

    So, here is my conclusion: I am surprised by this because I got screamed at for bad grades at home. And I reallyean screamed at this time, as in loud voice, angry face. My parents lost patience with me early on, especially in math, especially in elementary school. I always expected shouting matches when my grades where bad and went on to be quite the over achiever after school (never failed a class first time in uni, worst grade was a 2.7).

    So, my question: what epiphany regarding your behaviour and past had you lately? Is it normal to figure out stuff like that late in live and on my own?

    I probably will fail one or two exams this time, too, it’s CS after all, but I’m out more calm about that.

    1. merope*

      I am 53 and I’m still figuring stuff out about myself and my behaviour! And my mother (78) says the same.

    2. Turtle Dove*

      I had a similar experience in college. I was a top student, and that was a big part of my identity. A death in the family sent me reeling. I stopped going to some classes and failed some finals. The world felt different and weird without my over-achiever confidence. I rebuilt it: retook those classes and graduated with honors. It was okay in time.

      Funny you should ask about epiphanies this week. I had a big one — possibly the biggest ever — on Thursday. A friend described a health issue I’d never heard of. Suddenly I understood decades of my struggles. Huge relief! Now I can find better tools.

      I’m probably much older than you (60s), and I’m still figuring things out all the time. My mother lived into her early 90s, and it was the same for her. It’s normal in my experience.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think those ah-ha moments ever stop. I think it’s a healthy sign to rethink and reframe things in the past. It’s definitely a healthy sign to recognize poor/abusive behaviors as unacceptable now. You’re growing but the growth is different now.

    4. Asenath*

      One of the great benefits of getting older is learning from past experiences – not just in the sense of learning from mistakes, although that’s important too, but looking back and realizing that Old Me has learned ways of reacting to things and dealing with them that Young Me simply didn’t have. And, less cheerfully, that certain personality traits seem innate, and some of them are beneficial and even enjoyable, but others…. not so much. So from remembering my past actions and reactions and how they worked out, I can sometimes (not always) tell myself “Sure that feels like the right decision, but isn’t in exactly the same pattern as several decisions in the past that didn’t work so well? Stop and remember and think!” It’s a lifetime process.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I’m in my forties, and my recent one was unpicking the shame I’d associated with my introversion and shyness. When I did something wrong growing up, my parents heavily shamed me about it. But when I did something well, they made Such An Embarrassingly Big Deal about it that the net effect on me was also shame. So as an adult, I was associating any kind of attention, good OR bad, with shame. Which has made a surprising number of things challenging, like ever accepting any praise or recognition, constructively advocating for myself, dealing with unwanted attention and wanting ungiven attention in healthy ways. (I’m not parent-bashing btw – they did their best – it’s just, this is how turned out).

      We’ll be having those epiphanies forever. I think on some level we expect to arrive at a point where we figure it all out and everything suddenly makes sense, but the reality is that life is a journey not a destination.

    6. fposte*

      I’m going to cheat and give you one that’s not lately at all. Years ago, I was early career and filled with suppressed rage with my boss (though I loved him and we’d grocery shop together because I had a car and stuff) for messing around as a deadline came up (and also as a way of dealing with my stress about the deadline). And he said something siblingesque in the “I’ve noticed, it’s annoying, but it’s not a big deal” about my being grumpy all day.

      I had come from a family where you *never* talked about anger, so it seemed like this huge world-destroying monster that we had to keep inside us. And to have somebody I liked and respected matter-of-factly treat it as just annoying grumpiness and demonstrate that you could even *say* caused an absolute epiphany about the unremarkability of anger.

    7. Disco Janet*

      Oh man, as a teacher I always really feel for students with parents who come down unnecessarily hard on them. It doesn’t help.

      I was reading a description of anxiety the other day that really resonated with me – that it’s like a bunch of voices talking about important-sounding things all at once, and you can’t keep up with all of them and get overwhelmed…but all the voices are you. And that the common thing to do is shut down and just try to ignore the voices – and yep, this is what I do and it is super unproductive and creates a vicious cycle. I’ve starting tuning into the voices instead of tuning them out, and writing down my thoughts until all the different ones are down on paper and I can clearly see the illogical parts.

      1. Jay*

        This was an epiphany for me as well and my first step into IFS (internal family systems) therapy, which has been life-changing. My most recent epiphany was the understanding that it’s OK if not all the voices agree. I can listen to all of them and try to figure out where they come from and I don’t have to get them all in harmony.

      2. Not a cat*

        My mother (who was a teacher) used to scream, hit and punish me for anything below a 90. So, I’d cry in school when I got a “bad grade.” A few teachers over the years called my parents about my crying in school, starting the hitting and screaming cycle over again. I didn’t have kids because I was afraid of doing the same to them.

    8. Siege*

      I don’t really do shame, but it’s been astonishing during the panini realizing how much of my personality is my neurodiversity. I’m diagnosed ADHD, and I’m starting to suspect autism though of course there’s a strong overlap in behaviors; I’m 45 and it’s just so new to hear people describing ADHD behaviors and going “…oh, THAT’s why I do that!” It’s because I’ve stumbled across more neurodiversity-focused tweeters as I’ve spent more time on social media, and it is buck-wild learning that yes, there’s a reason for that.

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        I can second that! It’s been the same for me, finding out how many of my habits and struggles are associated with ADHD has been mind-boggling. There’s a post I’ve seen floating around the internet that goes something like “either people with ADHD have to get a lot less relatable or I’ve gotta talk to a doctor.” It’s almost absurd how much my diagnosis changed my self-perception.

      2. AlabamaAnonymous*

        Siege, I’m assuming there’s a typo in your first sentence, and “panini” really should be “pandemic”? I hope so because that is the best laugh I’ve had all day! I am going to start referring to it that way myself, just as a way to bring a little levity to life :-)

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It’s a meme to call the pandemic the panini. I don’t know the origin but see it all over the place.

    9. A Girl Named Fred*

      This was a few weeks ago, but I was talking to my partner about something and as I finished a sentence I freaked him out by immediately saying, “Oh my God,” and staring blankly into space for a second. He asked me what was wrong and I said, “Nothing, I just realized that what I just said is exactly how my mother approaches things that scare her, and her example is probably where a lot of my fear and anxiety come from, and I don’t want to do it anymore,” and he grinned and hugged me because apparently he’s been waiting for me to figure that out for a while. (I’m stubborn, I wouldn’t have had the same epiphany if he’d pointed it out to me versus realizing it myself lol)

      I agree these kinds of things happen all the time! I’m actually hoping to get to therapy soon and see if I can have some more epiphanies about why I’m the way I am and which parts of that I enjoy and want to keep and which parts are no longer serving me. It’s gonna be a ride, I’m sure!

    10. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I have had very similar experiences overcoming things that were a huge deal to my family when I was a kid, that turned out to not matter at all to most other people. Things that got me screamed at for hours, don’t gain the slightest notice now that I’m out of that situation. It’s been quite a journey teaching myself better ways to handle it and talking myself down from anxiety attacks over minor things. I think that’s just part of growing as a person: learning that the scariest things from years past, can’t hurt you anymore. And on top of that, realizing exactly how MUCH you were hurt back then can be a shock, when you learn that it wasn’t necessary.

    11. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Over the last year or so I’ve been reading a little more about ADD/ADHD and — shocker — everything fits. I spoke to a doctor and was officially diagnosed last year in June but I still come across readings and posts and they all fit me! Since I’ve been sharing them so often, two of my friends have told me that they also suspect ADD/ADHD but not formally diagnosed (yet). But everytime I see it it’s like… a ha! It’s been a slow progression from telling myself that I’m NOT a “stupid __” (whatever words were used to me as a child) to accepting that this is who I am and I’m trying my best.

    12. marvin the paranoid android*

      Oh man, I feel like the last year has been one of these after another. Possibly the biggest thing for me has been realizing how much being in the closet/feeling dysphoric has affected my life. It seems really obvious, but somehow even though I secretly knew I was trans for all this time, I just thought it was some kind of side issue that I could manage. Only now that I’m starting to see the other side, I can appreciate how all-consuming the shame and fear of it has been. It’s actually a major relief to realize that this isn’t just the way my life has to be.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Oh, I keep figuring out so much about myself (and my parents) the older I get.

      This is how life is supposed to be. Wisdom and insight are supposed to grow and develop as we mature. If you only understood what you could see as a child or teenager, you’d be emotionally stunted for most of your life.

    14. Voluptuousfire*

      I was diagnosed with ADHD in October and taking a look back at everything a lot of things about myself that didn’t quite make sense now makes sense. It’s eye-opening! It’s nice to know that my brain just works a little differently.

    15. Anima*

      Thank you all for your insight!
      Quick disclaimer: my parents did their best, too, and I had a good childhood in other aspects.
      I seem to be figuring out how *I* want to live, in my mid 30s. Better now than later, I guess!

  16. Hmmm*

    Is anyone else stuck in the northeast snow storm this weekend?

    It’s cozy at home now but I dread the shoveling that’s to come.

    Stay safe and warm everyone

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Yup, I am. I’m just hanging out at home doing nothing at the moment. I’ll probably do some cleaning, put the rest of the outside Christmas lights back in the attic, and then clear the snow.

      I feel bad for my husband, who has to work 12 hours today. He works in aerospace building security and it’s shift work, so he needs to be there. His normal drive is about 60 miles each way, but luckily he has a 4X4 truck and made it there without any problems. When he leaves for home, the highways should be plowed at that point. I’ll have to pull out the snow blower later and clear the driveway for my husband. (I swear these winter storms are timed on his scheduled work days so I’m the one who has to clear the snow, not him. LOL)

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Whereas my husband and I are both home and argue about who will shovel – as in, the person who shovels gets to count that work as the day’s workout and be lazy the rest of the day. (Although don’t assume I like shoveling – I hate it – but I like efficiency.)

    2. rr*

      Yeah, we are in a blizzard where I am. I’m going to try and give myself a break on chores this weekend, as much as possible. I’ll do paperwork and cooking (which, will, of course, create a mess) and not think about the aftermath at this point.

    3. 653-CXK*

      Ayup…I’m in Boston and the snow is just beginning to intensify. We’re supposed to be getting 18-24 inches of snow by the time it’s over.

      I bought a Worx battery powered snow blower last year and it’s fantastic – it cuts down shoveling time by half. I will still have to do manual shoveling at first but once it’s down to a manageable level, the snow blower can take care of the rest.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        West of Boston: I went to bed Thursday night with 8-10 inches predicted and got up Friday morning to predictions of 23″. I felt very hard done by.

        I think we’re currently expecting around 18″.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        South of Boston, and it’s coming down hard. My lights have flickered a few times. Very fortunate to have a lovely neighbor who fixed my snowblower yesterday.

      3. 653-CXK*

        I’m in the city of Boston (south of downtown) and so far we have about 6″. We’re supposed to get 18″ of snow.

    4. allathian*

      I’m in Finland, so not the same storm, but a blizzard’s just started. It even has a name, Valtteri, and it’s expected to drop about a foot of snow during this weekend.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      *raises hand*

      I am on my own this weekend as spouse is traveling; neighbor kid will be paid to dig me out as chest surgery really limits that.

      Thursday I hit the grocery store, and it wasn’t packed. Friday I went to the library (would be closed for weekend) and health club (would be closed today) and to a lunch spot for one last not-made-by-me meal (would be closed today). The whole time I had the vague urge to go back to the grocery store and stock up, even though I was fine to feed myself for many days–something about impending snowpocalypse means we should stockpile more toilet paper.*

      So far we have a couple of inches of accumulation–I told my spouse and kids that if we were at a ski resort they would all be out skiing in this.

      *One thing that went right in 2020–at the start of March I was at the grocery store and thought “Do we have toilet paper? I can’t remember. I’ll throw in a big pack.” Two days later the panic buying started.

    6. WellRed*

      Yes though I don’t consider myself “stuck” ; ) it’s been such a non winter so far. I took care of errands yesterday. I love watching the snow, I have a pile of reading, food, tv. I’m good.

    7. Blue wall*

      I’m in Philly; it’s still snowing now, we have about five inches. I just went for a walk in my neighborhood and it was delightful! A few other people out too. Luckily no shoveling for me.

    8. Jay*

      Yup. New Bedford, MA here. I’m not sure exactly how much snow we have because I can no longer see out my windows. We’re supposed to get around two feet, give or take. My heat, stove, and hot water are all gas, and the building I live in has a substantial emergency generator, so I should be more or less all set.
      Best of luck to all of you out there in Blizzard Land, as 2022 gets itself off to a not-at-all ominous start!

    9. Choggy*

      Yup, I’m unexpectedly (but knew I’d have to) doing the thing of which we do not speak on weekends. I am grateful there is a blizzard outside instead of it being a lovely day! :)

      Also thankful hubby and I don’t need to do any clean-up, our expensive HOA is good for something I guess!

    10. GoryDetails*

      Southern New Hampshire, well inland; the snow’s picking up here now, as is the wind, and the forecast is between a foot and 18 inches of snow. I filled the birdfeeders, and the birds are definitely stocking up; I expect they’ll find shelter if the wind gets more severe. If the power stays on I’ll have a pretty comfy day, cats to cuddle, books to read, cocoa to drink – or some wine, if I’m in the mood – punctuated with trips outside to shovel the driveway in increments. (I’ve been watching the forecast for the Rhode Island coast, up to two feet of snow predicted; I left a trackable in a geocache down there a couple of days ago, and now it seems it may not be accessible until spring!)

    11. Pregnant during COVID*

      Yes I’m in NY watching the snow fall. We are out East and expecting up to 2 feet. Just finished cleaning out two massive junk drawers with my spouse and currently enjoying a mimosa.

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Raising hand * here *

      I decided to bake the box of Trader Joe’s vanilla cake that’s sitting in my pantry for breakfast. Trying to figure out how to implement frozen cherries somehow. Because….why not? Making the “TikTok famous” tomato feta pasta later today except with goat cheese. Grateful to have a full pantry/freezer/fridge.

      Otherwise….I hate snow. I spent almost all day yesterday preparing bags for if we had to go to a hotel in case of a power outage. Pre kids I was never the curl up with a good book and cup of warm drink type but somehow I wouldn’t mind that now lol.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      So since we’re on the topic re shoveling snow and I’m curious: do you all wait until the snow stops to shovel? My husband has always shoveled at least 2x during a snowfall. He says that if he waits til the end there will be too much and it’ll be too hard to clean off.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I definitely shovel incrementally when I can, especially the snowplow ridge at the end of the driveway – and including shoveling out my mailbox and a path to my Little Free Library. (The actual driveway can get more of a lick and a promise, as my Subaru can get me through most typical snowfalls, though I try to catch up on that as well.) The incremental shoveling also helps avoid muscle-strain (or worse – my friends-who-have-had-heart-attacks do not shovel anymore!).

        That said, I dearly miss the young high-school kid who cleared my driveway for me for years; he did a marvelous job, even cleaned off my car and my back porch, all for a very reasonable fee. When he went away to college and “retired” from snow-removal a couple of years ago, I meant to find a replacement, and never got around to it. I’m retired and don’t have to go anywhere for a few days so I can take my time, but I really should contract for proper snow-removal one of these days…

      2. Quiet Liberal*

        Always shovel a few times during the storm. Depending on the moisture content of the snow, it can get really heavy if you wait too long.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve always done that too. It’s just easier. The only time I don’t is if the wind is really bad.

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yup! I did all my pre-storm prep yesterday, so have plenty of stuff cooked in case we lose power. Plus we have a wood stove insert in the fireplace that’s keeping everything nice and toasty, in front of which the dog and cat have claimed as their rightful place in the house. Of course.
      Wow, is it blowing! No point in shoveling right now since it’s drifting all over the place. I can’t even tell how much we’ve had so far. Nice to have a bit of downtime to do whatever I feel like doing!

    15. Wandering Anon*

      Vermont here. A dry nor’easter, which means the dampness that makes your bones ache and wind that freezes your butt, but no snow. Wind gusts of 30-40 mph, wind chill well below zero. Challenging to keep an old house warm.

      Looking forward to a better day tomorrow.

    16. Wishing You Well*

      Please stay safe, everybody on the East Coast. Stay inside, if you can.
      Fingers crossed for y’all.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      Is it bad to say I wish I was? Because it would mean I am not here!

      But seriously, y’all keep safe and keep your feet warm.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We did not lose power, we did get both properties cleared, and luckily we started early enough that when a shear pin broke, we still finished in daylight. But i overdid it and owww i feel old right now.

    19. Random Biter*

      North Coast here….we’re waiting to get hammered AGAIN this Thursday. I’ve had to have my plow guy out in the last couple of weeks more often than I did all of last year.

  17. BalanceofThemis*

    The search for a house is still ongoing. Unfortunately, I am losing out to a lot of cash investors. My real-estate agent says I may need to compromise more, but I’ve already started doing that and I’m not sure I can compromise on anything else.

    So people who have bought houses, what were some things you compromised on that you were at least ok with in the end?

    1. Double A*

      I just heard an episode of NPR podcast The Indicator called “Even You Can Buy a Home in Cash.” I can’t really summarize it, but there’s basically a new thing some realtors are doing that enables regular folks to make a cash offer. Could be something to explore.

    2. Generic Name*

      Well, the only things you can’t change about a house are location, layout, and lot size. Everything else you can change. I’m not saying it will be cheap or easy to change, but it’s possible. So think in those terms. You can also compromise on price (meaning increase your budget, obviously) if you don’t want to compromise on anything else.

      I’ve owned 3 houses. I grew up in a historic house, and I always assumed I’d eventually live in a charming historic home. That he’s not happened so far, and will probably never happen. In every place I’ve lived, those houses were not affordable or literally none were available in the area I wanted to live. So that’s been the biggest compromise I’ve been largely happy with.

      The other compromise I’ve made is style of home. I like traditional 2 story layouts with rooms with doors (see growing up in a historic home). Those houses just aren’t built in my suburban area. I compromised on a split level layout and it’s been fine.

    3. PostalMixup*

      Our wish list was, frankly, a unicorn. 4 bed, 2-3 bath, one of which was to be en suite (uncommon), decent closet space, (also uncommon), with a backyard suitable for kids, that didn’t need significant renovation, in a specific area, within our budget.
      We didn’t get the en suite bathroom or the closet space. But we got a way bigger backyard than we thought was possible, and a lot more space than we thought we’d find, with a great layout and amazing kitchen, and an attic conversion that could, someday, with a renovation, become that master suite that we’d hoped for.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is a great point. Can you ask your realtor on which aspects of your wish list seem to be the sticking point? Like you want a pool but only 1% of the houses in your area have a pool, to use an extreme example. Or maybe your desire for “move in ready” is not attainable with your budget for a single family home?

    4. I was told there would be llamas*

      My first house had a small kitchen and it drove me crazy for 14 years until I moved…this time I made sure I got a kitchen with more counter space than I know what to do with!

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      I really wanted a house with all the bedrooms on the same level, but we eventually went with a split level with two bedrooms below and two above. It’s no a problem right now because all my kids share one of the upstairs bedrooms and I think by the time we move them to the downstairs bedroom I’ll be glad for a little bit of separation.
      Also our house is super close to the freeway and the hospital, which I thought I’d hate because of the noise of traffic and sirens, but it actually hasn’t been terrible.
      The yard is smaller than what we wanted, but in retrospect, having less yardwork has been good for this stage of life.
      The house is in the location I wanted, and has two bathrooms and a larger kitchen then our first house. These were the things I didn’t want to compromise on.
      What is on your list of “must have”?

    6. Anon for this*

      I don’t have any advice, because we’re in exactly the same boat. We’ve lost two bids to cash investors and might lose a third (we find out on Monday). With every attempt we go a little farther away from the town center, a little smaller, and a little less updated.

      Sympathy! This is a soul-sucking process. I hope you find (and get!) the house you want.

    7. Television*

      My mom and I were in the market for a place so she wouldn’t have to worry anymore about skyrocketing rents. Our must-haves included a 2bd/2ba within 5 miles of my neighborhood at or under our budget.

      I’d submitted a very competitive bid on the one property in the neighborhood that met all those criteria…and then someone came in with an all-cash offer! After that defeat, my then-agent suggested we compromise on the location and price, but then became complacent with providing leads and with responding to properties we found interesting.

      My mom saw one advertised at well under market rate, and the listing agent responded immediately. We toured it and I put in an offer that evening, which was recently accepted. Long story short, we found a 3bd/2ba that borders a high-income city eight miles from the coast and $6k over our budget!

  18. BellaDiva*

    Does anybody have any experience with tactile allodynia? I hadn’t even heard of it until I asked Dr. Google about my symptoms, but a lot of it fits. Just light touches on certain parts of my body feel extremely painful, ranging from feeling like pressing on a bruise to feeling like a nerve is being pinched. For example, I can’t use my heels to push my socks down, as it feels like pushing on a sore muscle in my leg. However, I don’t feel any pain there otherwise. Also, there is a line around my hipbone where a light touch goes from slightly uncomfortable to “get your hand off me, you’re touching a nerve!” Same with my shoulders. I plan to mention it to my doctor next time I see her, but I am curious whether anyone else is dealing with this.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      While you are waiting for the appointment, how’s your water intake? Water is a vital thing. I am always amazed by how much less pain I have in my body when I am diligent about drinking water. I measure out the amount of water I need each day in the morning. I try to make sure I finish it off about two hours before bedtime, so I don’t have to get up as much.

      1. BellaDiva*

        Up until about a month ago I definitely did not drink enough water, but I started a healthier eating plan and drink at least six glasses per day.

    2. Sherpa*

      I had a similar condition, but only in one specific part of my body. It ended up being a congenital nerve condition that was curable with surgery.

      Doctors are sometimes weird about pain. If you are pretty sure you have this condition, find an expert or specialist and have them check you out. I went through several doctors who didn’t take me seriously (or gave me one treatment option and then gave up) before finding one who really knew his stuff.

    3. RagingADHD*

      When my skin is painful to the touch, it’s a symptom of a major systemic inflammation flareup. When I told my GP that it hurt to put on lotion, she sent me to a rheumatologist and my bloodwork came back with markers for rheumatoid arthritis.

      Fortunately, it was not RA but my other autoimmune issue that had gone haywire due to extreme stress. I was able to get it under control in a few months by making active stress management my #1 project for a while.

        1. RagingADHD*

          By active stress management, I mean all the regular stuff like nutrition hydration, exercise & sleep. Plus specific steps for my stressful situation – getting grief counseling and hiring respite care so I could get the exercise and sleep.

    4. WS*

      Have you been tested for B12 deficiency? That can affect nerve conduction and can show up in limbs first. Definitely something to check out with the doctor.

  19. Bibliovore*

    Contractor/ designer help
    After much thought I realized I can age in place. I love my house and my neighborhood.
    What I really really want.
    I want a deep soaking tub.
    I will need to renovate my bathroom which is rather small and sad prefab shower.
    Too much HGTV has made me think I could have a soaking tub, steam shower, and heated floors in that space.
    A wall might have to move. (What?!)
    I got a recommendation for a designer and for a contractor.
    What should we expect?

    What do I need to ask?
    What do I need to know?
    I will put a link to the tub in the reply.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Just generally speaking-
      Ask around for referrals from friends/family. I picked out a doc this way and I did it with an email blast. I asked people to explain WHY they liked their person. Getting that explanation can be very telling.

      Figure on cost over runs. Either you forgot something or the contractor forgot something. Eh, it happens. You can argue about it with the contractor or you can simply pay for it and get what you want installed. I opt for the non-arguing option. For cost over runs, I add 20% to whatever the contractor’s estimate is. I have never used the full 20%. But there are always surprises as no human being yet can see through walls and floors.

      Same deal when you ask how long the project should take- add in extra time for unforeseens. I had a contractor working here who lost his dad. This stuff happens and I can’t be THAT person who says, “no. you have to stay here and work.” Add in more time than they say it will take. That project was supposed to be two weeks and it stretched out to 6 or 8 weeks. I decided to just hang in there and let them go through their processes.

      I dunno if you have more than one bathroom. If you only have the one bathroom work on a plan of how you will navigate having a toilet available for use. And kind of off topic, but consider getting a higher toilet and safety bars. I already have it planned where i will put safety bars if I need them.

      I have mentioned this before but it is so important- never underestimate the power of being kind. Contractors will put up with “silly” questions and maybe a couple changes, IF a person is kind. Kindness can include concern for their safety, concern for their needs materials/tools, and showing a bit of concern for anything they mention that concerns THEM, such as a sick kid at home or whatever.
      If you are looking for someone who might come back and do projects later on, be sure to mention that. Contractors LIKE repeat customers who are kind. You will get faster/better help than the nagging, nasty, person across the street from you.

      1. bibliovore*

        Thank you. The designer and contractor were both recommended by my grief councilor.
        (who I am starting to refer to as my grief councilor/ concierge- he found me a dog trainer, a synagogue, a retreat on lake superior, a meal plan, work coach- say no, can’t right now, a program of light television watching- Great Pottery Throwdown, After Life, and makes many good book recommendations-This Thing Called Grief, The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America etc)
        The designer because I have a huge deficit in spacial relations.
        Yes, eventually the living room/dining room area will need a redo.

        1. ronda*

          if you want the other rooms done too, I might have the designer and contractor work up a plan with doing all of it and a plan with just doing the bathroom and see if you might just want to get it all done at once rather than in stages.

          the heated floors that I have seen them put in on This Old House seem like they might be very nice depending on where you live. Also the towel warmers that are installed on the wall as a kind of towel bar set-up seem very nice. My last rental had a huge bathroom counter, loved it. I am now in a place with a tiny bathroom vanity and really think I didnt appreciate the counter space enough at the time. My laundry was in the bathroom at last rental (and it is next to bathroom in this one). This is very nice, cause most of my dirty clothes do end up in the bathroom. And electrical outlets !! the apartment I am in now only has one in the bathroom. 2 plugs is not enough. storage needs in bathroom? current bathroom is very limited, one before that was huge vanity, laundry closet and a linen shelfs area in the bathroom It was kind of the king of bathrooms.
          The master baths at new homes of relatives have a separate toilet room in the bathroom, I am not sure I would care about that, but if you have the room, maybe you do.

          I will say back when I owned a house and had work done, I rather disliked the process. noisy, dirty, taking longer than expected and costing more than expected. So know it will be an unpleasant thing but at the end you will get a nice upgrade, so it will be worth it.

          your concierge sounds awesome! I wish I had one.

          1. Random Biter*

            Here’s a bathroom question. My house was built back in the early 60’s which means the bathroom wasn’t exactly high on the “nice” list. The tub is standard tiny with a shower that was added later and has one of those push/pull faucets that I hate (I always feel like I’m pulling it out of the wall). The bathroom is also a bit crowded. I had a spinal fusion a few years ago which greatly impacted my range of motion, add some arthritis into the mix and lifting my leg to clear the side of the tub (and I only use the shower) has gotten awkward and painful (along with 5 grab bars). I decided I’d like to have a walk in shower (no door for a couple of reason, just a full length shower curtain with the slight ridge to keep the water inside the shower). Problem is, this is the only bathroom and I’m afraid that selling a house with no tub would be problematic. My daughter who works in marketing at a senior complex says more and more older people want homes without a tub and to not worry about it, but of course I do as I suspect it will be on her shoulders to sell the house at some future time. So….any opinions to tub vs. no tub?

      2. Melon*

        Great advise only I would double the contingency and timing buffer in These Times. Also check with your designer, but lead times on fixtures are a Thing. Don’t waffle, make a decision based on what’s feasible and buy as far in advance as possible if it’s something you really want. If you’re more neutral on a product and don’t want to buy right away, just know you’ll likely need to reselect (and get material cost and design time overruns).

    2. bibliovore*

      yes, I have two bathrooms. The upstairs one that there is nothing wrong with except might need re-grouting.
      The downstairs one is the sad one.
      Oh yes grab bars are essential.
      AND I want a fancy japanese toilet!

      1. B*

        Yes to the fancy toilet, I have an entry level model and warm water,warm seat and warm air dry is not to be under estimated. BUT the cleaning of such a toilet is – different. Also plan for extra space around your toilet in case you eventually need helper bars or a walker in the future.

        1. Dumpster Fire*

          Along with the extra space, I’d also suggest getting “double-duty” accessories when possible. For example, I replaced regular towel bars with towel bars that (when installed correctly) are ADA-compliant grab bars. I even found a toilet paper holder that is a small but ADA-compliant grab bar! They’re nicely finished and you would never know by their looks that they’re so sturdy.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that is brilliant! I have a towel bar that I’m pretty sure is not installed to be ADA compliant but has still been useful for the occasional steadying moment. The TP holder is insanely clever.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I would say to consider how you will get a bathtub into your bathroom. Getting one out is fine, it can come out in pieces – IN is another story if your home is delicate. I was a little disappointed when I realised that the lovely deep bathtub in our family bathroom is moulded plastic… but then when I remember how difficult it was to get our furniture up the split level staircase I’m just happy to have any bathtub at all really.

      So happy for you Bibliovore that you have decided to stay in your lovely MCM home, and I hope you keep us updated on your reno journeys. Particularly on how you go with the Japanese toilets (my husband wants us to replace all 3 with fancy, heated, butt-washing musical varieties!)

      1. Bibliovore*

        OMG! I just realized that the tub would fit in the bathroom but there maybe no way to get it IN!
        Thank god for the designer.

        Yes. Mr. Bibliovore and I spent two weeks in Tokyo. I’ve wanted a fancy toilet ever since.

        1. the cat's ass*

          I did a homestay in Osaka with Girl Scouts and never wanted to leave that bathroom! The toilet in an alcove with a basin! The sunken Tub/shower room with heated floors! The best known brand is Toto and they are available in the US. Enjoy!

    4. Not that Leia*

      Accurate budget estimates. Both designers & contractor can help with this. But typically you should plan on an additional 20% project costs on top of your construction cost budget. (That covers design costs, permit fees, etc) And you should have a construction contingency (often around 10%) to take care of unforeseen items. Being realistic about costs up front will make the process less stressful throughout.

  20. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Solo travelers — has anyone taken a cruise? I’ve cruised before but always with family or friends, never on my own. What was your experience like? Would you recommend it to other (introverted) solo travelers?

    FWIW, I am not a particularly social traveler and always keep to myself. Most of the cruises I’ve researched tend to emphasize social activities and “meet other people!” but that is not something I would enjoy.

    1. pancakes*

      I have traveled alone and would not consider a cruise. I like being able to set my own itinerary for the day and go off exploring, and to research the best local restaurants and bookstores and whatnot, so being trapped on a ship with limited options does not appeal to me. If you just want to read and lay in the sun it may be just the thing for you, though.

    2. Jay*

      I’ve actually looked at a few “themed” cruises over the years. Usually things I am already very interested in, so I would basically be spending a week traveling around on a giant floating buffet with the kind of people I would like to have conversations with, anyway. Then spend a day hanging out in a place I want to go with the sort of people I wouldn’t mind being around for a little while.
      I haven’t pulled the trigger, yet, but it sounds like a really fun vacation, at least to me.

      1. Windchime*

        I admit that I’ve been tempted to check out “themed” cruises, like a knitting or quilting cruise. Even if I went alone, there would be a lot of like-minded people there so that might be fun.

    3. Bluebell*

      One of my favorite things about traveling solo is wandering down streets and discovering things randomly. I just can’t imagine that working with a cruise.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I like to travel solo, and would love to be on the water, but the typical cruise-ship setup doesn’t appeal to me. I have looked into things like those coast-of-Alaska cruises – more “gape at the amazing scenery” than “next event on the lido deck” – but haven’t found one that tempts me to all the travel-overhead necessary. (I don’t like being away from home for too long at a time, even if I have reliable pet-sitters for the cats.) I’ve also been tempted by those “join the crew on a sailing ship” cruises, though that would have been a better fit when I was younger; not sure how much hauling or climbing or stowing or rowing I could do now!)

      But I have sometimes taken ferry rides or harbor cruises or whale-watch cruises, all of them day-trips; scenery, history, time on the water, not too much of a commitment. Maybe see if there are harbor-cruise equivalents in places you’d like to visit otherwise, and add it to the itinerary?

    5. Colette*

      I’ve done a few cruises, but not alone. I like that it takes the travelling out of travelling- you wake up and you’re somewhere else. When you’re in port, you can do excursions, or wander on your own. As long as you’re back by the posted time, you’re on your own schedule.

      I’m not a fan of lounging by the pool in general, but cruise ships also have libraries and quiet areas, and sometimes have talks or trivia you can go to. (I did one in the Mediterranean that had a lecture on the 7 wonders of the ancient world.)

      If you travel alone, you’ll be at a table with other people for dinner. (You can go to the buffet, but I recommend the sit-down restaurant). It’ll likely be the same people every day.

      But cruises are priced for 2 people per cabin, so if you go alone, it’ll probably be expensive.

    6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Maybe cruises organized by Smithsonian or similar organizations, that include lectures and stops at historic or cultural sites?

    7. RMNPgirl*

      Yes, I did Norwegian’s Alaska cruise a couple years ago. They have cabins for solo travelers so you don’t get hit with the single penalty. They also have a cruise director assigned to the solos who arranges activities that you can join in if you want to. We had dinners together and laser tag and things like that.

    8. Max Kitty*

      I did a California coastal cruise a few years ago. DH didn’t feel like going, so he stayed home with the cats.

      It was nice. I read, napped, worked out, went to the spa, all when I felt like it. I enjoyed sitting on the balcony, watching the water. I didn’t feel like I was pushed into any more interaction than I wanted to have.

      Some lines have solo cabins, but otherwise you’ll be paying double fare. On the other hand, I got double credit toward status!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The closest thing to a cruise that sounded interesting to me was friends who went to Norway and took the overnight ferry system up the coast with layovers in certain cities. Obviously it doesn’t work if you’re interested in Caribbean weather with swimsuits!

  21. Washi*

    Any recommendations for movies/TV with realistic portrayals of pregnancy? I’m right in the middle of my 2nd trimester and suddenly realizing how often I see someone get pregnant on a TV show and they just…continue with their lives. Maybe there’s a stray mention of nausea or a scene of them eating something random, but even in comedies with physical humor, there is not burping, farting, barfing, constipation, heartburn, weird dreams, restless legs, random pains, confusion over gas vs. baby moving…stuff that seems like it would make for some funny and relatable moments!

    I’ve actually struggled quite a bit in pregnancy, mainly due to nausea that is still continuing in week 22, and I would love to watch something that didn’t make me feel like baby myself for struggling more than glowing.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      I *adore* Call the Midwife, about nurses/midwives in London’s East End during the 1950s-1960s. Definitely lots of talk about nausea/swollen ankles/heartburn and so on.

      That said, you may or may not want to watch it while currently pregnant, since it’s a medical show so mixed in with the healthy pregnancies there are also episodes dealing with just about everything that could possibly go wrong, so if that might make you anxious you may want to hold off for now.

      1. Chaordic One*

        “Call the Midwife,” is a train-wreck of a show. I can’t stand it, but (like a train-wreck) I can’t look away. The conflict caused by old social mores and prejudices that were still present in the 1950s and 1960s; the scared ignorant patients; the 1960s “Mad Men” fashions; and the noble midwives, nurses and doctors (with surprisingly enlightened and liberal 2020s morals and values).

        And all the SCREAMING! (Usually from women in labor.) SO MUCH SCREAMING!

    2. Fellow Traveller*

      I completely agree! I chalk it up to the fact that the entertainment executives are mostly men. Hopefully that’s changing, though.
      I really liked the movie Away We Go.
      I also really identified with the way pregnancy and postpartum were handled in Superstore.

    3. Double A*

      There’s a couple of episodes of Crazy Ex Girlfriend when Heather is pregnant that are pretty amazing. She does fine until her 3rd trimester, then gets real cranky. There’s also an amazing song about giving birth. Also I love that in the birth scene they all go to the hospital expecting drama and she’s just chilling in bed and is like, “Oh yeah, I got an epidural, I feel fine.” You never see that represented on TV!

    4. Cyanotype*

      There’s an HBO mini-series called Expecting Amy featuring Amy Schumer during her pregnancy. A lot of vomiting – very little glowing.

      1. Washi*

        Thank you for this! Just cried my way through the first two episodes. I don’t have HG but do have an emotionally intense job where I have to be in front of people pretending not to feel terrible, so Amy’s experience even as a comic is surprisingly relatable.

    5. sagewhiz*

      No suggestions but a question: are you getting enough Vitamin B? Sometimes that can be a cause of the ongoing, later-stage nausea during pregnancy.

    6. Anonanon*

      Hands down best fictional depiction of pregnancy is the third season of the Mission to Xyxx podcast even though the pregnant person is an alien creature with more flaps and chutes than the typical human.

      Sarina Bowen rights pregnancy well in her romance novels where a pregnant character shows up.

      No movies or TV shows come to mind, sadly. One Bad Mother podcast (non fiction) is highly relatable especially if you start from the beginning and line up your pregnancy with theirs.

    7. Janet Pinkerton*

      I mean, it’s an experience that a full half of the population (and the half with more cultural power/influence, especially over media) can’t ever relate to. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but I think that’s probably why.

      I’ve found a lot of camaraderie in talking with other people who have given birth. They’re like universally happy to talk about the struggles, it seems. But I don’t have any media recommendations.

      1. Washi*

        True! More than half the population won’t experience it directly even, since not all women have biological children. That said, if you include the non-birthing partner, it’s way more than half the population! My husband has a pretty up close view of what I’m going through and could definitely relate, albeit differently, to a more realistic portrayal.

    8. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      My nausea was a low level irritant well into the 2nd trimester. I hear ya!

      But then the bump starts taking over a bit, and you get to deal with the clothes things and the bladder things and wondering if people just think you’re fat …

      I suspect that folks who write movies/TV hand-wave a lot of this because they’re trying to get to the end. And so many have not been actually pregnant.

  22. Ancestry/genes that question*

    I’ve been very into tracking my ancestry for a while and just received the results of my DNA test, and I have a few questions that I haven’t been able to find the answers to online!

    My DNA seems to have primarily come from my mom’s side, which is Scottish, English, and Welsh (makes up 90% of my ancestry). Which is interesting because my grandfather on my dad’s side was 100% German, both of his parents came to the US from Germany in the late 1800’s, yet I only have 3% Germanic Europe. I thought I must have inherited my paternal grandmother’s side more, which has been found to be English and French (but I had zero French in my results).

    I know that it’s possible that perhaps my paternal great-grandparents weren’t really German, even though they lived there. I’m having my parents take a DNA test, interested to see their results!

    Is anyone familiar with how genes pass down from parents and grandparents? I’m quite happy to be mostly Scottish, I’ve always felt a connection to Scotland for some reason. I guess that’s why! heh.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Two possibilities:

      1. Parents each pass 1/2 of their DNA on to their children, but it’s a random half, not necessarily equal contributions from each grandparent. It’s possible you got more alleles from your paternal grandmother’s side than your grandfather’s just due to the randomness of which half of your father’s genes you inherited.

      2. People moved around within Europe even before the 1800s, so DNA tests are based of off probabilities and frequencies of certain genes being in common in certain places, but it’s not absolute fact. Your grandparents could have moved from Scotland (or wherever), or they could have been in Germany for generations but ended up with DNA sequences that are probabilistically more likely to show up in Scottish than German people, so the test marks it as likely Scottish. All of the above also applies to the “missing” French genes from your grandmother.

      Either way, you still get to be culturally German-American and celebrate family traditions and so on that were passed down! DNA tests are interesting but they are not determinative.

      1. Ancestry/genes that question*

        Thank you so much! This is all very fascinating. My mom’s ancestors have been in the states for generations, almost all of them came to British Colonial US during the late 1600s. I’ve been able to trace them back to southeast England, Scotland lowlands and highlands. And a sprinkle from her mom’s side in Northern Ireland. (I’m a redhead too, classic)

        I’m very interested to see what my dads dna results say, he would be so upset to learn that perhaps he might not really be German. He’d probably call the test a lie :D

        1. peasblossom*

          Just underscoring fueled by coffee here: take dna tests with a massive grain of salt. To flatten it out slightly, they operate under the assumption that cultures are closed systems (that germans marry other germans and then produce more germans for example) when the reality is that people are a lot more migratory than that and have been for centuries.

          And whatever genetic makeup the tests indicate has no bearing really on whether someone is really of a particular culture! Your dad is German-American regardless of what the tests say.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yes! Most of the redheads that get attributed to Ireland and Scotland are actually throwbacks to Scandinavian invaders :)

            Conversation I have had:
            Person A (to me): “Do you have Irish ancestry?”
            Person B: “Her name is Ginger O’Lastname and look at that red hair! Of course she does!”
            Me: “I was actually born a Lastnameson, and my family heritage is almost entirely Swedish, nary a drop of Irish that we know of. Cheers!”

            1. NeonFireworks*

              My surname is from one of my parents and makes me sound like I’m half [nationality]. I am indeed half [nationality], but it’s because of my other parent – the one who’s never lived in [nation].

          2. Cj*

            That’s what I was thinking. Even if your paternal grandparents ancestors have been in Germany for Generations, it’s very possible that some or many of them married people of different ancestry.

            Even if they had German last names going back a long ways, if maiden names weren’t look into, there could be a lot of other DNA mixed on there.

          3. tangerineRose*

            I’ve done the Ancestry.com DNA thing, and it *constantly* adjusts what it thinks my ancestry is. Fortunately, I was more curious than invested in it.

          4. Chaordic One*

            Yes, take them with a block of salt. My ancestry is half Irish and half German, and while Irish and German showed up in my DNA test results, they said that I was 60% English and that I also had a small amount of Scandinavian ancestry. I suppose that part of it has to do with the English and the Vikings invading Ireland, but also, people did indeed move around quite a bit thousands of years ago. I would imagine that people from England and/or Scandinavia moved to or invaded Germany at some point in time. Those European countries are not really all far away from each other.

            1. Maxie's Mommy*

              I learned I’m German, Scottish and mostly English. I tell people that means I want a drink, I want it now, and I want you to pay for it.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Queen Elizabeth II has German ancestry, Queen Victoria’s children married all over Europe…and royalty brings staff when they move.

    2. MMB*

      The estimates provided are just that. Estimates based on the gene pool of people who’ve tested with that company. Ancestrydotcom for example, is notorious for overestimating Scottish and other UK percentages. If you upload your results to My Heritage and FTDNA you’ll definitely receive slightly different results. There are some great discussions about the topic on Reddit’s genealogy and ancestry threads.

    3. pancakes*

      There can be quite a bit of variety among the testing companies. Have a look at the LiveScience article, “I took 9 different DNA tests and here’s what I found.”

    4. Koala dreams*

      Ethnicity and nationality is only loosely related to DNA. You’ll have to use your judgement, just like with other clues for your ancestry. Also, it’s possible to belong to several ethnicities or nationalities.

      There have also been some critics of DNA testing specifically, as their accuracy depends a lot of their database of genes. I don’t understand the science behind it myself, but you can find articles online.

    5. really*

      My niece did this and the results were interesting. One part said England and Northwestern Europe. What is Northwestern Europe? Scandinavian countries (which we already had on the list), Ireland, Part of France and Germany. All things being equal half of her would be English, Irish, Scot, French German, Swedish. With Swedish and German being predominate. As far as not being ethnically what you think, I had a great grandmother who was Swedish but born in Finland.

    6. RagingADHD*

      There’s a lot of Viking and Germanic DNA in the British Isles. I can’t imagine how they divvy that up in a reasonable fashion.

      I recall watching one of those ancestry TV shows, where Henry Louis Gates got DNA results with supposedly zero African genes. Not “a little.” Zero. Which was of course contradicted by his family history.

      Those results are for finding where your living relatives are now. They don’t tell you much about where your people used to be.

    7. photon*

      Commercial ancestry DNA testing is very close to being a junk science (sorry, “for entertainment purposes”). They use some small set of alleles (which they deem proprietary) that may or may not meaningfully represent a population.

      Most people get some junk, and the uncertainty goes way up the more mixed you are. If you try out multiple companies, you’ll get different results – and they can be *wildly* different!

    8. Person from the Resume*

      Your genetic ancestry is 50% from each parent so, no, your DNA did not primarily come from your mom. You can’t know which 50% came from which parent. But I’m pretty sure that the 50% of your dad’s DNA that you got isn’t necessarily 25% from each paternal grandparent.

      Like everyone else said the ancestry determination is pretty much just for fun and little science especially as they get more specific about location.

      1. pancakes*

        Not quite accurate — mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down only maternally. I don’t know which companies test it but it looks like someone made a chart on ISOGG dot org.

    9. Daffodilly*

      My husband has worked for 4/5 biggest companies that do this. We’ve taken all 4 since they make it free for employees/families.
      Zero consensus on the results. Absolutely none.
      A magic 8 ball would be about as accurate.

    10. unpleased*

      These tests conflate relatively recent political entities called nation-states with genetic heritage, which is problematic. It creates a pretty ahistorical view of race and ethnicity because of an underlying assumption that nation-states are far more homogenous than they are.

  23. I'm too young for this*

    Any recommendations on good non-English period dramas/historical dramas? My husband and I are currently watching Ekaterina (about Catherine the Great, in Russian) and I’m looking for something similar. In German or Russian would be a bonus. I’m not super interested in the time period post 1900. Thanks!

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      It’s just edging up to the turn of the century, but Charite is a German drama series that takes place in a hospital in the 1880s.

    2. Washi*

      I enjoyed the Barber of Siberia, which I think is early 1900s but still pre-Soviet. Also, it doesn’t fit your time period, but I also really liked the TV series Red Queen, about Soviet supermodel Regina Kolesnikova. It’s all on Youtube though so bonus for easy access!

      I love period films but am not into Soviet filmmaking for that genre, so I’m curious if others have suggestions for Russian language stuff.

    3. AceInPlainSight*

      A few years ago there was a miniseries Софья (Sofia) about Ivan the Terrible’s grandmother, first Tsarina. It was beautiful!