weekend open thread – February 12-13, 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: My Italian Bulldozer, by Alexander McCall Smith. A Scottish food writer, reeling from a break-up, heads to Italy to finish his latest book. Mishaps abound (including a problem with his rental car, which leaves him renting a bulldozer instead).

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,103 comments… read them below }

    1. PhyllisB*

      Yes!! I love his Ladies Detective series so wanted to see how this book would develop. It was hilarious!!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Also, if you like this book be sure to read the follow-up, The Second Worst Restaurant in France. Just as entertaining as the first.

  1. Returning to dating after a very long gap*

    I’m interested in hearing about experiences (good, bad, bananas) with dating sites aimed at niches/subgroups/particular backgrounds. Thinking of trying out online dating for the first time in a LONG while, but repeatedly getting stuck on the question of whether to start with something geared to a category (diet, religion, geekiness, etc.) – there isn’t any one of those things that’s obviously more important than other criteria, but I wonder if it would simplify things.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Captain Awkward has some good advice (of course) on this, about being very clear about your specific requirements, and also on how to figure out what really matters to you in a relationship. Good luck!

      1. Salymander*

        Yes, seconding the recommendation of Captain Awkward. There is so much great advice and info in the archives, and the commentariat is really hilarious, supportive, and wise. A lot of the Awkwardeers read and comment on Ask a Manager, too.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            The last year or so, Captain Awkward has closed comments on all posts because of the large time commitment involved with moderation. If you look through the archives, there are comments on most of the older posts. Just scroll down the page and they are at the bottom.

            I think there are also forums that are currently active, but I have never read them so I can’t say for sure.

            1. RagingADHD*

              The forums are not run by, nor technically affiliated with, Captain Awkward. They are a fan-run space.

              And, like all intense fandoms, there is a lot of shit-stirring, rules-lawyering, and nonsense.

              Proceed with caution. Read all the rules first. All of them. There are a lot. Consider that they were created in response to actual situations on the site, and that the users needed that granular of a definition of “don’t be a jerk.” They also have/needed an extensive harrassment policy.

              If you can get through that and still want to participate, go for it.

              1. anonymous radish*

                I agree with this, and sometimes the rules lawyering can go a little too far, defeating the purpose of the rules in the first place. Sigh.

              2. anon for this one*

                I participated there for a while and ended up drifting away. Most of the people there were pretty nice and I’m still friends with someone I met there (who also ended up drifting away). But the need to add a specific rule any time there was an incident that wasn’t covered by the broad “don’t be a jerk” rule left me feeling culturally out of step even though I didn’t run afoul of moderation.

                1. Sunshine's Eschatology*

                  That is a… perhaps harsh but not unfair description of the forums. On the upside, I’d describe it as a very supportive and conscientious community. That kind of strict legislating you are describing works for much of that community, so great for them! But I also ended up drifting away due to cultural out-of-step-ness. Funny but maybe not unexpected that others here have had the same experience!

                2. anon for this one*

                  Hah, maybe a bit. I do remember the forum fondly and would definitely say no hard feelings on the parting. Personally I’m partial to implicit norms over explicit rules, but when the moderators are trying to balance “don’t be a jerk” with “don’t tone police people when they’re talking about things that directly affects their lives,” I can see why they went the route of adding more rules.

                  There’s a major challenge that comes with trying to maintain a space that functions like a close-knit community where everyone understands and respects everyone else’s needs while also growing to accommodate everyone who wants to be there. That’s a hard balance. If I’m in a private chat group with ~20 people and I ask everyone to thread Game of Thrones spoilers because I’m only now starting to watch the show, that’s not a major ask and everyone is happy to accommodate. But if it’s an open group where anyone can join and everyone who joins can make that kind of request, it will quickly get out of control.

    2. KeinName*

      I would say that is a good idea, from what I heard from friends. I almost wish a had a very specific fetish because apparently these online communities are good for finding long term relationships. So maybe you could choose a niche that attracts a lot of people who are similiar to you in other ways as well. When I was a teenager in 2000 this was a guest book/comment section of the national alternative radio station and people I have met there are still similiar to me 20 years later (i.e. left leaning, interested in education, volunteering, good music…). I have now idea what that could be for me today, so I try with Bumble, which at least has this feminist reputation and is somewhat niche still where I live (though there are also only about 30 users, so…).

      1. Tex*

        Try Hinge. You have to write more, so the time and thought commitment shakes out some f the very casual lookers.

    3. Batgirl*

      I would say that you can cast a wide net while also having specific and detailed wants. You never know where you could meet someone.

    4. Princess Deviant*

      I’ve had better experiences with dating sites geared towards my values (like vegan, or kink, or religious for example – not saying I’m those things, I’m just using them as examples). Shared interests aren’t that important to me, and can be developed anyway, but I’m much more likely to meet someone with similar values on a site that specialises in something, rather than say Plenty of Fish which is generic. Given that a lot of people don’t even fill their profile out fully it gives me something to go on.

    5. Sunflower*

      I think these sites are most effective when those things are dealbreakers vs just interests. You can meet someone on one but I think the reason that people sign up for sites geared towards religions or political affiliations is because it’s such an important thing for them. On the standard apps, you can filter but a lot of these are standard prompts and don’t tell You much about the actual person’s interest. For example, I’m Christian and am indicated as such on my dating profile. I’m not religious at all and don’t care if my partner is but I don’t intend to become deeply into religion. I am not a good match for someone who wants a partner that follows ‘good Christian values’ or goes to church every week.

    6. Mama Sarah*

      Have you listened to the Deeper Dating podcasts? There is also a website with the same name. Ken Page speaks so eloquently about online dating. Not sure the site or app you use matters as much as having boundaries and taking the time to be clear on you what you truly want in a partner.
      Don’t forget the three C’s!

    7. Bluey Christine Heeler*

      I chose an app based on region because it’s a dealbreaker for me. The app touts itself as a site for people who are seeking marriage, but many of the men I encountered were only interested in hookups/casual dating.

    8. Violet*

      I met my partner of two years on a mindful dating site. We are both practicing Buddhists, but the site was for people pursuing a variety of forms of spirituality. I literally took a online dating break and never heard anything for three years from the site after signing up. Then an email from him and the rest . . . is history, future, etc. :-)

      I don’t know if I’d recommend it now because I’m not sure how secure information is on the site. But I tried different niche sites. And we are really compatible about things that matter (I’m not super devout, either).

      My advice about online dating in general, take your breaks to not become bitter. But never give up. :-)

  2. Blue Eagle*

    READING THREAD
    What is everyone reading this week? I’m a little over halfway through “Say Nothing” by Patrick Raden O’Keefe, a historical account of the Troubles in Northern Ireland (this book was actually recommended by Stephanie in this Saturday forum over a year ago and I finally cleared the library waitlist).
    It’s a fascinating recount of a terrible time in history. O’Keefe does a great job of telling the history in stories that keeps you engaged. I highly recommend it.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’m trying to get myself to read Gutenberg’s Apprentice. Has anyone else read it? I’ve started it because we’re discussing it in my book group on Sunday and I’m doing my best but I made it a little ways in and it wasn’t working for me. Any feedback? People who liked it or didn’t?

    2. Jamie Starr*

      “Music is History” by Questlove. Starting with 1971 and going to the present, he focuses on hidden connections between songs, politics, culture, etc. and also inserts his own memories as a music fan. I’m at 1977 and I’m not sure if I like it yet or not. The subject matter is interesting, but he packs so many trivia bits and obscure connections that it’s a bit hard to follow. The writing style is also a little too casual for me. It reminds me of his podcast — sort of rambling and kind of lacking focus.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I know you aren’t sure about it but it’s the kind of book my husband would like, so thank you for sharing it!

    3. Sue*

      Just finished Crying in H Mart, recommend. Also doing Tara French books. I’m a big Louise Penny and Ann Cleeves fan so also enjoying these. Also highly recommend Facing The Mountain by the author of Boys in the Boat (great book). It is nonfiction account of Japanese Americans during WW2 both internment and military service. A compelling read.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I would also recommend Say Nothing.
      I am just finishing Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi. It’s a really fascinating memoir of growing up in Albania at the end of the communist regime, which fell in 1990. And for anyone interested in book cover design, it’s an interesting exercise to compare the US and UK hardback edition covers of this book. Interestingly enough, both covers only make complete sense if you’ve read the book.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      I usually have two books going: one heavy and one light.

      My current heavy book is The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity by Peter Brown, who is the go-to guy for Christianity in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. This book is about the evolution of Christian beliefs about the afterlife up to the seventh century. Those of us raised in one or another version of the church absorbed teachings on the subject, but these are heavily culturally determined, pretty much no modern version dating back to the early church.

      My light book is on hold. I recently blew through the first two Quilifer books by Walter Jon Williams. The third one will magically appear on my Kindle in three days.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I’m almost done with How to Be Perfect by Mike Schur (creator of The Good Place) – it’s an overview of different schools of thought in moral philosophy and how they map onto ethical choices we make….my description sounds boring, but it’s the same funny-yet-heartfelt tone that made TGP so effective.

      I’m loving it, I wish it were longer! This coming from someone who’s been in a reading slump.

      1. LemonLyman*

        I have this on my Libby holds along with the audiobook. He has a bunch of actors he worked with on The Good Place (and I’m sure some others he’s worked with, as well) help with the audio so it should be fun! I’m guessing a of like listening to a podcast?

        He’s a smart and funny writer so I am excited to read/listen to it!

        1. ecnaseener*

          I haven’t heard the audiobook, but even with the paper book I keep hearing it in the characters’ voices!

    7. Aneurin*

      Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, which I’m absolutely loving (as I suspected I would, as a one-time biologist-in-training). It’s beautifully, poetically, and accessibly written and a good book to dip in and out of. Highly recommended for enjoyers of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

    8. Atheist Nun*

      I just finished Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang. I thought it was great, which I expected because I also liked Chemistry. That being said, I found it difficult to read about the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joan is an ICU physician in NY, and the book’s time period is November 2019-March 2020. I work (non clinical) in a hospital in NY, and I realized that I am not yet ready to read about that time, even in a fictional setting. This book has broader themes, and it was the concept of being an immigrant woman living alone which really appealed to me because I relate to that experience too. I recommend this book, just be aware in case you are sensitive to the traumas of the early pandemic period.

    9. PhyllisB*

      Right now I’m reading No Way Out by Fern Michaels, and it’s okay. Right before I read The Bookseller’s Secret which was about Kate Mitford.

    10. AY*

      Patrick Radden Keefe is so great! I enjoyed Say Nothing so much that I picked up Empire of Pain even though the subject matter did not interest me. It ended up being my favorite book of last year!

      I finished Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits this week and can’t say enough good things about it. Currently reading Kathryn Schulz’s Lost & Found. It’s a memoir, which I don’t love as a genre, but I love her. You might recognize her from her piece about the next big earthquake on the West Coast that won a Pulitzer a few years ago.

    11. It’s all good*

      The Good Son by Jacquiline Mitchard. I enjoy family drama especially if it has to do with ethics and morals. So far so good

    12. GoryDetails*

      Can’t remember if I mentioned this one before, but I’ve finished it and really loved it:

      THE READERS’ ROOM by Antoine Laurain – a mix of murder-mystery, personal-ghosts, and very entertaining looks at the publishing industry from the viewpoint of the readers who wade through the heaps of submitted manuscripts hoping for that rare gem, a new talent.

      THE THIN PLACE by C. D. Major – a multi-viewpoint tale, unfolding in three different times (the 1920s, 1940s, and present day), in which a modern-day TV journalist finds herself obsessed with a mysterious old house – and the nearby bridge, from which dogs apparently hurl themselves to their deaths. (This is based on a real-world location, though the author does take liberties.) I did have trouble warming to the characters, but the story weaves together in interesting ways.

      BEHIND THE MASK: an anthology of SF stories themed on superheroes and supervillains, with some very inventive variations – there are very dark tales, very touching ones, some that are flat-out hilarious… great fun!

    13. Overeducated*

      I’m in the middle of The House in the Cerulean Sea (based on how much people love it here!), How Long till Black Futures Month, and Chocolate City. But not much progress because all I want to do is binge watch Cheer Season 2….

    14. Teapot Translator*

      This week I read “A Desolation Called Peace” by Arkady Martine and “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune. It was a good week!

    15. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I am in the middle of reading the biography of Malcolm X. It’s fascinating. (I have just reached the point where he is in prison and copying pages from the dictionary to improve his handwriting and vocabulary.)

      1. PhyllisB*

        OT, but this reminds me of when my son was about 9 or 10. I came out in the den and he and two of his friends were intently looking at the dictionary. I said, “What’s up, guys?” I was told, “We’re looking up cuss words!!” I walked away thinking, “well, at least they’re learning how to use a dictionary!!”

    16. E. Chauvelin*

      I am midway through Malice by Heather Walker, a queer dark fantasy reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, and it’s very good. I’m already looking forward to the second book this spring.

    17. Veronica Mars*

      I’m about 3/4 of the way through The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab, a Christmas gift. It’s about a woman who makes a deal with a devil–she can live forever but without anyone remembering who she is after she is out of their sight, and without being able to make a mark on the world. I’m really enjoying it so far.

    18. Radical Edward*

      I’m on the third book in the Greenwing & Dart series by Victoria Goddard – ‘Whiskeyjack’. She has several different series and stand-alone novels/novellas set in the same universe, but they differ in tone and style. Greenwing & Dart has a very ‘Connie Willis meets British detective series’ feel that makes for some hilarious climaxes.

      I finally caved and started reading the series after my second read-through of ‘The Hands of the Emperor’ (my new favorite book as of last summer). I’m now thoroughly hooked on the entire universe and dread running out of new stories to read! The word building is fascinating, very subtle and ‘show don’t tell’ – one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about these books is how there’s almost no exposition or explanatory passages. The reader uncovers little details and tantalizing hints about How Things Work as characters encounter or refer to them in passing, or as they become necessary to the action. It’s a very effective approach that always leaves me dying to know more.

      1. Elsie*

        Goddard sounds like my cup of tea! Trying Stargazy Pie now.
        I am so grateful to the readers who introduced me to Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education- such a character, longing for Book 3 in September.

    19. Anon and alone*

      I’m reading “Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story Of America’s Canine Heroes” by Maria Goodavage and when I finish that I have her other book “Top Dog: The Story Of Marine Hero Lucca”. Libraries, you gotta love them.

    20. Jay*

      Just finished The Last Castle by Denise Keiran about the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. We toured the Biltmore last month while we were visiting and our local friends recommended the book. It was – OK. I wasn’t thrilled. The first two-thirds were much better; the last part felt perfunctory.

      Current audio book is The Wistera Society of Lady Scoundrels which I downloaded on the recommendation of someone here. Absolutely loving it. The narrator is great and her very prim English voice adds to the absurdity of the experience. Highly recommend.

      About to start Kickback, one of the post-mortem Spenser books written by Ace Atkins. I have a plane ride coming up and that’s about what I feel capable of.

    21. University Schlep*

      This week I finished The Kill Club, The Husbands and Admission (as someone who works in a University that admits a far higher % of applicants, I found the admissions mindset quite different)

      I have about 6 different places where I get book recommendations and I just add them all to my overdrive wish list at the library and then checkout whatever is available when I need something, yet I am very frustrated right now because yesterday a coworker told me about a book and I lost the name. Because apparently having 120 books on the wishlist isn’t enough and having to wait until Monday to ask about the book again is too long.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      All reading is on hold at the moment. In my brain, I’m running around like Kevin in Home Alone. Although, maybe reading would calm me down a bit. Worth a try, anyway!

    23. beentheredonethat*

      I decided to reread the Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters Set during the 1100’s contest for the crown of England between King Stephen and Empress Maud…. She contrasts people trying to live their lives and survive when the war lands in their town. I am fascinated that London chased her out so she couldn’t be crowned. Sadly I only have 12 out of 20. To buy or not to buy a book I have already read….. sigh

    24. Rekha3.14*

      I’ve several on the go, but I’m really loving the humour in Talking to Canadians, Rick Mercer’s memoir. It’s hilarious and makes me giggle, and the humour doesn’t feel forced (IMHO), it flows well, and gives me a glimpse into a part of Canada I am not familiar with. I’m only ~20% done but it shouldn’t take me long to finish.

    25. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Just reread the 2-before-last Dresden Files books so I could plow through Battle Ground. And I’m antsy waiting for my other half to catch up so I can discuss [spoilers].

      1. FalafalBella*

        Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict. Fascinating read about the life of scientist Rosalind Franklin and her discovery of the helix shape DNA (this discovery was ‘appropriated’ by James Watson, without credit to Franklin, later leading to a Nobel Prize for Watson, along with Crick and Wilkins)

    26. I take tea*

      I’m reading Mother of invention: how good ideas get ignored in an economy built for men by Swedish journalist and author Katrine Marcal. It’s an interesting take on the history of inventions and why it’s problem when the financing is very narrow. It is similar to Invisible Women by Criado Perez (also a very good book!)

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Loved Invisible Women (I mean, it inspired a lot of frustrated rage, but I appreciate that she documented all of this and strung it together so cohesively). Thanks for the rec!

    27. Astoria*

      Audiobook of Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation and the Making of a Dark Classic. Author: Glenn Frankel. A Libby recommendation.

    28. CatBookMom*

      J. D. Robb’s (aka Nora Roberts) newest Eve Dallas futuristic police procedural, *Abandoned in Death*, dropped on Tuesday, so that was my day, pretty much. Kick-ass female, a bit OCDish, not the best with interpersonal relationships, but has a cadre of good friends & co-workers, regardless. Different universe, so cars able to levitate a few feet, space travel to moonlets around Earth, etc. Doesn’t really affect the police procedural aspects, other than their databases & electronic gadgets are SERIOUSLY better.

    29. Bluebell*

      Just finished the second Finlay Donovan book, but didn’t love it as much as the first. Also zoomed through An Ambush of Widows by Jeff Abbott and thought it was pretty good. Yolk by Mary HK Choi is next up.

  3. Ontariariario*

    Anyone else living in an occupied city?

    It’s unreal. I want to avoid politics in this thread, and am happy to answer questions although will avoid anything potentially identifying.

    1. Jackalope*

      So what is your experience with this? Does it feel threatening? Or just annoying? How much is it interfering with regular life? It sounds like a lot from the vague bits I’ve heard but I’m not sure how.

      1. Ontariariario*

        I live a short walk from the river and I heard them honking and making noise as they came into the city, but other than that my life is pretty normal. I have been working from home for nearly two years, so my little physical part of the world is very small.

        It has been very annoying, as people downtown aren’t sleeping and are being harassed. There are people who say that the convoy is peaceful and isn’t harassing anyone, but the downtown area was very safe to everyone before this and now many people are being harassed to the point where they don’t feel safe leaving their homes.

        It is starting to feel more and more threatening, as the likelihood that this ends peacefully are disappearing. There are now people driving around communities to find schools to yell at young children, which makes one worry about their next tactics.

        1. Generalist*

          We must live quite near each other. I agree with your description and your analysis of the possible outcomes. And I hate it. I wish I thought more of the general population was offended but I’m not sure they are.

          But I also agree that “occupied” isn’t the right term, as I’ve known folks in brutally occupied cities where they are in danger daily of being arrested or shot by the authorities. This is closer to the Jan 6 events in DC, in terms of being a lawless activist group the government opposes (also obviously not a very accurate comparison).

          Anyway, I’m glad to see a near neighbor on AAM though I wish we had realized our proximity for happier traditions.

          “This is a place to stand, and a place to grow.” Wish they had better cause to stand for!

          1. Ontariariario*

            In hindsight I realise that I shouldn’t have used the word occupied without being more clear about what I meant as it makes light of anyone who has lived in a warzone (which I have, and this does feel very different). Maybe in hindsight I shouldn’t have used the word at all, just described the situation. This isn’t an occupation with military or any organised group, yet they have taken up residence in the street and have taken up the downtown. This is more than a brief protest, and the word was meant as a comment on the situation where people have been living in the city for weeks now.

          2. Generalist*

            Autocorrect. *for happier reasons.

            Hope you understood what I meant, and also I totally get what you were trying to convey with your original word choice. Didn’t mean to be negative.

            1. Ontariariario*

              All good! I also regret using the word because the Occupy movement is a thing, and very different.

      2. Ontariariario*

        To add: My paid work is pretty normal, but I do volunteer work that has been overwhelmed with the situation as more people are asking for help and a lot of people are offering help. I really hope that the noise yesterday doesn’t continue, because it will make that part of my life even busier and more stressful.

    2. Deborah*

      I’ve never lived in an occupied city. We lived in Seoul for 7 months in 1985; the north Korean propaganda floated from the sky, the smell of tear gas was detectable in the spring, and although I personally didn’t feel threatened, just the proximity to the DMZ gave one pause. I’m curious about your day-to-day activities. How are they affected by the occupation? What’s the general consensus? Is the occupation as divisive as what we’re seeing in the US? I hope this issue resolves soon; it’s unnecessary and ugly and does no one any favors.

      1. Ontariariario*

        It’s not really divisive. The downtown has drawn the least rational of two nations (it is primarily Canadians, yet there are a lot of people from the US) and everyone wants them gone. They seem to think that they are a majority, and yet they are in a very small minority in this city.

        My day hasn’t really changed, although it is similar to your situation in Korea where I know it is in close proximity and it occupies my mind even if it isn’t a direct threat to me now.

      1. Ontariariario*

        I think many are sleeping in trucks, and they eat food that is bought in grocery stores and cooked communally, and get fuel in large containers from outside the city that is then put into small containers and smuggled in through the streets to refill the trucks.

        There are a few porta-potties, but I’m not sure about sanitation. I have a bad feeling there is going to be a big mess left behind.

    3. KateM*

      Not yet… and back when I was living in an occupied country it had been occupied for so long time that it was the (not even particularly new) reality.

      1. Ontariariario*

        I have also worked in a situation where we were the occupier, although it was by request of the country. I can now appreciate how the locals around us felt!

    4. Another Canadian*

      Not personally living in an occupied city, but I’ve been getting dispatches from those who are, and you have my deepest sympathy. My latest informant (only last night) was most infuriated by the noise levels. Apparently it’s truly atrocious, and most if not all people cannot move away from it, not the least because some of the subsidized apartments for the poor elderly and disabled are not far from the local legislature. And this informant, who can still hear the noise at home, quite a distance away from the legislature, is unwilling to subject herself to it closer up which is keeping her from carrying out activities at a public facility near the demonstrations. If there had been any sympathy with the cause among those I’ve heard from, it’s vanished.

    5. WellRed*

      Oh I wanted all week to ask about this here! I get that it’s not simple to just clear out occupiers but this seems so egregious I’m wondering why residents seems left on their own? Noise? Road blocks? Lack of Permits? Isn’t some of that enforcemeable. I saw pictures this week and some of them look like Canadian cousins of the capitol insurrection wing nuts.

      1. WellRed*

        I hope this question isn’t political. I’ve been resting the Times coverage and find it lacking some context.

      2. Another Canadian*

        I suspect, on no evidence other than instinct and what I have had from the media, that is it political, and that an attempt to move them on using the police would result in the kind of situation that the protesters would make political hay from, probably along the lines of the evil oppressive state getting in the way of their freedoms. Apparently one protester said in an interview with the media, regarding people having to live with this mess, that “sacrifices must be made”. Sacrifices are voluntary, and no one but the protesters volunteered for this.

        1. WellRed*

          I actually just read some more in depth analysis this morning looking at the response from both sides Of the spectrum. Very interesting!

        2. Ontariariario*

          This is my guess too. They talk about freedom, and yet they have taken away any freedom from those who live in the area. Also taken away their sleep. There was silence for a few days, but the noise is back.

          I think the politicians and police would have changed their actions in hindsight by blocking them out of the city, because they now have hundreds of vehicles that are in a huge part of the downtown and refusing to move. Many vehicles have been disabled. This isn’t just a few blocks, this is so big that they can’t really contain it, and I don’t know where they would start clearing it out by force. At this time the police are there to mostly keep an eye on things so it doesn’t get a lot worse (although if they all started a big fight amongst themselves I wouldn’t mind!)

    6. Macaroni Penguin*

      What do you think it would take to resolve this situation peacefully? In brief moments that I’ve been able to contemplate the subject, I’ve thought of a few options.
      1) Protesters are satisfied their message has been heard, and they disburse willingly?
      2) Laws are changed. Protestors get what they want.
      3) Tickets and fines are applied to the point people are annoyed into leaving.
      4) Various law enforcement agencies arrest people and tow blockading vehicles.
      5) Parliament is dissolved and reformed with…..?…….
      6) I’ll wake up in an alternate timeline where None Of This Ever Happened.

      1. Another Canadian*

        1. No. The protesters don’t appear to me to be much interested in merely being heard. They want changes in the public health regulations.
        2. Oddly enough, this protest hit just when most provinces are moving to ease restrictions (each in their own peculiar way) as the next step towards living with COVID like we live with influenza. So the changes they want were coming anyway – maybe they’ll disperse then, to reform when something else comes up, and take credit for something that was happening anyway. I don’t know their strategy.
        3. I suspect there’s a fear of sparking a riot.
        4. Same as 3.
        5. Not gonna happen unless things get far, far worse. It takes more than a civil disobedience on this level to bring down a parliament. Some of their members (I don’t remember if it was an official spokesperson) said something about raising enough money to bring down the government. Maybe – but bloody unlikely; I can’t see any of the major parties taking it. And if, as has been rumoured, funding is coming from the US, that could play very badly politically. No one wants anyone, but particularly anyone from another country, buying their elections.
        6. This is my preferred option.

        1. Ontariariario*

          5. I don’t think a lot of the money is Canadian. The question is how much of it is US, and how much is Russian, but there is a lot of commentary on this point. I’m also hopeful that the funding sites can be sued for the policing money, because I’m ticked off that I’m paying a lot of money for this occupation (in addition to a lot of other grievances).

        2. Macaroni Penguin*

          5. Is mostly a joke. Though I know some protestors want a new government entirely. But its 2022 and I’ve seen too much so…. (awkward laugh).
          I just really want to see a situation where things end peacefully..

      2. Ontariariario*

        3. They have tried and it isn’t working, it is angering them.
        4. They likely don’t have enough police to do this safely. It is huge. Towing companies are also being threatened not to cooperate. Some poor company helped out the convoy folks voluntarily, people around there thought that he was being a problem, and he got attacked online for it. Eventually the organizers got the word out that he was helping them, but it shows that the response to any attempt to remove vehicles will be quick and negative.

        1. Macaroni Penguin*

          Yeah, I certainly don’t have an answer to solve this. Beyond wishing that I didn’t live in this time line. K

        2. Elsie*

          So upsetting. Ottawa is my home town, so glad I don’t live there now. The thing that infuriates me is that this protest is such a small minority, with most of us vaccinated and mask-wearing. The ‘freeedom fighters’ are willing to sacrifice me! (autoimmune, comorbidities, old) in the quest for freedom from public health requirements.

    7. Downtown girl*

      I have lived in two, both in the Middle East, and I now live in Ottawa. While what is happening in my current city sucks hard, but it is not an occupation in the sense of an “occupied city”. When we start having occupying forces knocking on doors, demanding IDs, ransacking peoples’ apartments for contraband, and hauling people away to unknown prisons, detention centres, and areas unknown, then we will have reached an occupation. This is a nasty, stupid, pointless, even dangerous protest, but it’s not an occupation.

      1. Another Canadian*

        That’s a fair comment. “Occupied” is perhaps not quite the right word – but I suppose it’s more catchy, and gets the emotions across, more than “forcibly preventing me from living my life and going around my lawful business”.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Ah, yes, I was wondering if the original letter writer was living in a war zone? The use of occupied was unclear and vague to me.

      2. Raboot*

        Thank you! When I first read the original comment I definitely thought they were talking about foreign/military occupation and was like, oh wow that must be hell. But from followups I realized they just meant protestors. I’m sure it’s somewhat uncomfortable but very very different…

        1. Calm Water*

          Yes for sure! The two are on VERY different scales. However in Canada over the last 5ish years, maybe more, the word ‘occupy’ has been adopted by protest movements and means to show up, demonstrate or protest. Of course I can’t think of another example right now

          1. WellRed*

            In the US, there are certainly examples of this occupy mindset. I agree occupy sounds catchy but is not the same as an actual occupied region.

          2. Raboot*

            If you mean like “Occupy Wall Street”, I’d argue that “occupied city” isn’t really the righ phrasing to invoke that. In any case OP has acknowledged above that it wasn’t great wording so I’m going to leave this thread alone

      3. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I honestly thought someone was posting this from the Ukraine, and I was concerned the invasion had started but the media wasn’t reporting it for some reason.

      4. Ontariariario*

        Definitely not an occupation, and I was being a bit loose with the term, as it also refers to people living somewhere. And they have moved in for a while. Both physically, as well as in the thoughts and experiences of almost everyone in the city.

    8. Albertinian*

      For three weeks now the truckers have been honking in my downtown, near the legislature building in my province. I live downtown and the noise is frustrating and invasive and just…triggering. my home is supposed to be my safe place, and their noise pollution is upsetting to the point I’ve used earphones for hours and scowled at anyone with a flag when out running errands. I can only imagine what its like in the capital and my heart just aches for everyone wanting their lives and homes back.

  4. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    My joy is that I’m loved enough to get tough love-which on its face stings- but then I remind myself it’s when the tough love is replaced by apathy that it’s more problematic.

    Please share your joys.

    1. Deborah*

      I harvested enough snow and sugar snap peas to provide a snack at the agility trials we’re running this weekend with our dogs. My winter garden has been generous this season, except that the snails have eaten all four of my parsley plants. And I have dozens of small volunteer wasabi arugula plants whose flowers smell powdery-sweet and leaves taste of wasabi. My volunteer calendulas are providing a pop of orange, and the orange tree its prolific (we’ve processed 12 pints of marmalade, and given away dozens and dozens to neighbors & friends, and have several dozen on the tree for juicing). So, my garden = my job and my joy.

      1. Meh*

        I love Wasabi arugula! Trader Joe’s carried it at one time and I thought it was amazing. I never thought to grown it <3

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I participated in an online dulcimer festival, and loved the workshops and concerts so much that I ordered a custom instrument. A gifted luthier is building me a mountain dulcimer, which will arrive in a couple months. I’m super excited.

      1. Deborah*

        How cool! A roommate from many decades ago made a hammer dulcimer and taught himself to play. This was in the mid-70s. He was a pretty decent player, too. It’s one of my favorite instruments. I’m chuffed for your new dulcimer. Congrats!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Thanks! That’s impressive for your former roommate to both build and teach himself how to play. I’ve played the mountain dulcimer for decades, and a long time ago bought a hammered dulcimer as well. I eventually sold it because I wasn’t motivated to learn to play it, but I still enjoy listening to it. The festivals I’ve been attending include both hammered and mountain dulcimers.

          1. Pumpernickel Princess*

            Wow, how cool for your roommate!

            These dulcimer festivals sound wonderful, I’m glad it’s gotten you back into playing. :-)

      2. Pumpernickel Princess*

        Oh, how exciting! Have you been playing long or is this your first dulcimer? I recently got into mountain dulcimer playing and have, miraculously, been able to check one out from a neighboring library. Keep us posted on the process!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          That is incredible you could check out a musical instrument from the library! I’ve played the dulcimer for decades but only recently discovered, through an online workshop, that the two I have had for years are too large for me.

          For those who are interested, the excellent online festival featuring workshops and concerts is called QuaranTUNE and it’s offered a few times a year. It’s very affordable and the teachers are typically professional musicians. I signed up for six classes of an hour each for about $75 total.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      This happened on Sunday but I count it towards the week :-) visited my friend in her new home. Was having a great time catching up with everyone. We wore sweatpants lol. For once I wasn’t in an anxious rush to leave

    4. Double A*

      When I nurse my baby to sleep for a nap, a lot of times my very old cat likes to come and curl up with us. So he’s tucked into one elbow and she’s tucked in the other. She’s about 6 pounds soaking wet so she can lay on him and he doesn’t even notice. Then we all just kind of doze together. It is very peaceful and comforting.

      Right now the old lady is curled up under the covers with me. She’s in remarkably good shape for a 17 year old cat, but that could change at any time, so I’m just trying to enjoy her while I’ve got her.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Fun memories — my old cat loved to share my lap with my daughter. He was 12+ pounds so it got crowded!

    5. StellaBella*

      My joys this week were starting to get my balcony garden pots in order to plant potatoes and flowers….and getting my taxes done and will send them off later today.

    6. IrishEm*

      I ordered some Swiss sweets (Sugus) online and they arrived this week. Flavours of my childhood and good times giving me hope for when this panasonic ends and I can go back there.

    7. UKDancer*

      Got my hair done yesterday which always makes me feel good about myself. I splashed out on a hydrating treatment so it looks great. I look better and feel so much happier when my hair is done. It was one of the things I found difficult about the pandemic lockdowns (on a personal level) that my hair got longer and more untidy while the hairdressers were shut.

    8. Meh*

      I chopped off 2 feet of quarantine hair this week – feels amazing! My last hair cut was Aug 2019…so I was due. I also took some overgrown plants to the nursery for TLC and they look great now.

    9. Swisa*

      My husband bought me a “just because” necklace that I’d been wanting. He had an affair a year ago, and we stayed together, and recovery has been so hard, but it feels like things are normalizing.p

    10. ecnaseener*

      Warm sunny weather! I went and sat in the sun for a few minutes yesterday and it was much needed.

    11. Ali G*

      The days a finally noticeably longer! There were even birds singing when I got up this morning. It’s also unseasonably warm, but I am not complaining.

    12. the cat's ass*

      I finished/submitted readoption papers for my DD. It was a stressful complicated slog, but it’s done, and even if they need correction, that’s the biggest piece finished.

      Got a chance to see the finale of “the book of Boba Fett” and it was good!

      Seeing friends today as we distribute GS cookies to our service unit.

    13. fposte*

      I have started learning to play the recorder! I really like it as an instrument (I was obsessed with renaissance music as a child) and have vaguely toyed with it before. But now there is the internet and a great YouTube recorder channel and I have bought myself a respectable but affordable plastic recorder and an adult beginner book. Sorting the fingering has a puzzle-solving quality, but it’s like you’re running a sprint while solving it. And while I sound very much like a beginner, I have not hit that wall of horror where you’re appalled by how different I sound from the music in my head.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Congrats on learning an instrument! I’m enjoying your posts about your new endeavors since retiring.

    14. RSTchick*

      We had a very unexpected snow day yesterday (usually when we’re going to have nasty weather the weather forecasters really hype it up, whereas Thursday night it was quietly labeled a “special weather event.”

      I work in the same school system as my daughter, so I chose to keep my son home from daycare as well and we all caught up on some sleep and cleaning. It was a nice way to end what was a rather rough week at work (I personally have been fine, but we have some students dealing with challenging mental health situations, and one of them finally came to a head).

      1. allathian*

        Oh, and I also had our annual (virtual) meeting with my son’s teacher, they were at school, I was at home. Great to see he’s making so much progress. He seems to be enjoying learning for its own sake. Fingers crossed he’ll stay in that mindset once he hits puberty in earnest, he’s 12 now and on the cusp.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      Best Good Dog made 2 new friends this week. A new family with 2 little girls moved in around the corner. They were outside waiting for the school bus when we passed by on our morning walk, and one of the girls was terrified initially while the other one wanted to hug him. Fortunately, BGD loves children and was thrilled with the attention. Within minutes, the frightened girl quietly crept up and stood about a foot away. He immediately dropped to the ground and rolled over for a belly rub, making both girls laugh. Now, about a week later, they both wait for him to come by so they can pet him while they wait for the bus. Their mom said the girls talk about him all the time and now their family is considering adopting a dog! The mom and older daughter apparently wanted one but the younger daughter was afraid of dogs. I’m proud of BGD for being such a good ambassador on behalf of his fellow Canine Americans!

    16. Overeducated*

      I have had a really tough, lonely couple of weeks, and almost cried on a regular Zoom call with a couple friends a few days ago. They immediately said “let’s plan something to get you out of the house” and we are going to meet up at a restaurant with outdoor seating next weekend (we all live an hour apart in different directions with different work schedules, so it’s not that easy to hang out on a whim). It gives me something to look forward to and made me feel cared for.

    17. Bluey Christine Heeler*

      Last night I finished weaving in the ends on my first ever cardigan. Now the only thing left is to buy some buttons for it.
      I’ve gotten back into the routine of going to the aquatic center a couple times per week. Swimming is my favorite form of joyful movement, and I love the freedom of a low impact exercise where I don’t feel as limited by my disability.
      After work today I’m going to go to the new fancy grocery store to buy ingredients to make Cajun chicken pasta for dinner tonight.

    18. Veronica Mars*

      I had COVID all week (not a joy), but woke up yesterday feeling hungry and SO MUCH BETTER. That feeling of finally feeling well after being sick for a while is such a joy. I’m still not 100%, but I’m definitely on the mend.
      Also, there’s pretty snow on the ground right now which makes looking out my window lovely.

    19. Ravine*

      I started reading “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee this week, and I’m really enjoying it so far. Lately, reading has felt like a chore, but this and my previous bedside book (“Artemis” by Andy Weir) have reminded me that it can — and should — be pleasurable.

    20. Wishing You Well*

      I have massive joy this week!
      I am home again with my dear husband after having cancer surgery on Wed. It was very hard but I’m now doing well. I’m sleeping in my own bed and the prognosis looks good.
      I’m so grateful right now for many things large and small.
      Sending wishes every day that y’all stay safe and healthy.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        So glad you have a good prognosis. I hope that the good news helps you sleep well now and get some good rest.

    21. University Schlep*

      I completed a full push-up today. While that sounds small, I had severe injury to both wrists, one elbow and both shoulders that have made even cat/cow/table pose painful. Baby steps.

    22. The Other Dawn*

      Knowing I have only one week to go until vacation. I leave next Saturday for 10 days in Vegas!

      Being granted an extension for the online technical writing course I’m taking.

    23. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I’m getting my first tattoo. It’s not going to be anywhere visible because of work, but I can’t wait. I’ll get my appointment on 2/15, and we’ll design it from there. I’m super excited.

    24. NeutralJanet*

      Did the best parallel parking job of my life today! I’m pretty bad at parallel parking, which is a problem because I live in a city, but this parking job was smooth, quick, and perfect!

    25. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Bluebirds in my front lawn…four of them. And they’re SO blue in their fresh new feathers!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One more than last year, too. Today’s project is assembling a bluebird house kit and mounting it…to think I almost forgot I had it!

    26. I take tea*

      I just got something done that I’ve been procrastinating about for ages. Now I’m tired (it’s really late / early, but I feel so much better.

    27. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I did a little YouTube concert streaming some of my favorite songs from Broadway musicals to try to cheer up a bit.

    28. Virginia Plain*

      I’ve just come back from a skiing holiday in Italy. Quite apart from the skiing fun, lovely food and drinks etc my small joy is finding out, owing to a menu translation mishap (by the hotel), that the Italian word for snow-pea and jackdaw is the same.,.

    1. Double A*

      This is very lovely. Our tuxedo cat, who we went to rather expensive lengths to save from a normally fatal infection, has a personality a bit like Zeus’s. I hope he lives as long, or longer.

      I think a lot about the eras that our pets represent in our lives; my first day died shortly after I met my husband, like he knew he could go because I’d be taken care of. My oldest cat I’ve had over 16 years and it’s kind of crazy to think of the eras of my life she’s been through with me.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      One of ours has been in hospital this week (hopefully coming home today) because she fished an ibuprofen pill out of god knows where and decided this needed to literally be the first thing in seven years that she ate that wasn’t kibble. (Seriously. She and her sister – they don’t do treats, cheese, chicken, fish – nothing but dry kibble, and the other one is specific as to what KIND of kibble, she won’t touch any other type.)

      She’s doing well, my husband saw her right as she was swallowing it and had her to the vet within 30 minutes, but it was the same day as Scalzi’s cat crossing and husband was a bit of a wreck reading about his loss.

    3. Cj*

      We had to have one of our cats put to sleep a week and a half ago. He had squamous cell carcinoma in his mouth, and even with treatment only 10% of cats live a year. He was obviously in pain and couldn’t eat.

      Although it was the obvious decision to have him put to sleep, it was still devastating. I wish my husband would read the post at your link, but I think this early it would actually upset him more.

    4. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      That made me cry. And laugh, especially at the biting of the wrong body part. Cats will cat!

    5. Natalie*

      No, this is cool.
      Because, see, I WANTED to be sitting here at my desk sobbing. This is fine.

      But seriously, this was really lovely. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to go hug my cat.

      1. I take tea*

        I like his Twitter too, but I don’t have Twitter myself and for some stupid reason Twitter has lately decided to block reading without an account :-(

        1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

          I had the same issue start happening. My guess is that there’s now a cookie on your device that cuts you off after a certain number of views. Clearing my cookies, in any case, restores my ability to read the tweets for a few days at a time- give it a go!

    6. I take tea*

      That was a really nice euology. I like his style, and I’m sure it would be a god life to be a pet in that household.

      I have a purring cat on me right now, and another at the foot end of the bed. Very comforting.

  5. Lady Whistledown*

    Favorite travel location/memory?

    One of my coping mechanisms during the Plague is thinking about the trips I’m going to take once kiddo is vaccinated and major danger has passed. Current mental escape is planning to see the Northern Lights.

    What about you? Where have you loved traveling?

    1. Deborah*

      Last July we took a two-week tandem bicycle tour of France. We started in Paris, the week that the Eiffel Tower opened and the Tour de France finished. We had a quick (3 hour) tour of Le Louvre (the Mona Lisa is quite small IRL), went to the top of the Eiffel Tower (the elevator took longer than the ticket purchase; the French weren’t quite ready for the reopening so there were no crowds; it was fabulous), and shared a VIP booth <100 m from the finish line of Le Tour. Wowowowowow! Then we had 9 days on a boat on the Rhône river (mostly docked, due to flooding in Germany; explaining that is too much). We rode our bike with other tandems around Vienne, Avignon, Arles, down to the Mediterranean. Provence is gorgeous. In Burgundy (one of our side trips was dinner at Paul Bocuse, in Lyon) I saw some familiar flowers — they were California poppies — in France! We loved the south so much (we'd spent a week in Normandy in 2005; much to see there and prepared to be overwhelmed if you visit the D-Day areas) that we joined up with 3 other tandem couples to ride our bikes in Bordeaux, the Dordogne region, for two weeks this summer.

      In 2014 we did a 2-week small bike tour of Abruzzo, Italy. It was like Napa but waaaaaay older, and much more rustic. We'd planned to do 3 -6 rides in Italy in 2020 (my husband was consulting on projects being built in 3 different provinces in Italy) and then COVID kicked everyone's plans to the curb. We're trying to make up for it no.

      1. Berlin Berlin*

        Sounds amazing! How did you find the tandem compared to riding individually? Did it significantly reduce the exertion for a given distance? Or was it about allowing the person on back to be able to “enjoy the scenery” a bit more?

        1. Deborah*

          The captain sits in front and has control of steering, braking, and gears. The stoker (me) sits behind and provides power. This is our third and “forever” tandem (custom hand-built Calfee; everything is carbon fiber including the timing belt; hydraulic disc brakes and electronic shifting) — we originally got a tandem because I was riding my bike like I stole it, and kept dropping my husband (not intentionally). With a tandem no one is dropped.

          It’s harder going uphill because of gravity. It’s faster going downhill for the same reason. I miss being in control and having the wind in my face on my half-(aka non-tandem) bike. As for allowing the stoker to enjoy the scenery: The 5 S’s of Stoking: Sightseeing, socializing, snapping photos, singing, and stoking. So yeah, scenery is enjoyed. (c;

        2. Deborah*

          Oh, and I almost forgot the infamous tandem saying: Wherever your relationship is headed, the tandem wil get you there faster. We’ve been a tandem couple since 2007, and will celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary this year, on a tandem tour of Bourdeaux. So, yay tandems!

    2. Lammy*

      Two of my most prominent travel memories aren’t my favorite, but they are memorable.

      One was being told to hold on tight to my brother (only a year younger, but due to health reasons much smaller) on Mount Vernon on a super windy day. My dad was concerned he’d blow away on us. Possibly the same trip, we just missed the ferry to Ellis Island. Like ran up as the boat was pulling away. Don’t know why, but that always stuck with me.

      I also recall seeing a moose in the Grand Tetons and my dad not recognizing what the open hands on both sides of the head illiterates. We were a bit a head of him on the hike and waited for him to catch up.

      There was also a trip to London. Brother and I went our own way from mom and stepdad. Found a toy museum in the guide books. Cool! We like toys! Each stairwell had creepy dolls. So many dolls. But the gift shop at the end was on point and that’s where I got most of the souvenirs for my friends back home.

    3. Salymander*

      Husband and I once spent several months living in a tent and the car, traveling across the USA and parts of Canada on a shoestring budget. We went to a bunch of national parks and historical sites. We didn’t really plan anything except the basic direction we would be going, first from California to the East coast, and then back again by a different route. We saw so much wildlife. We even saw a grizzly bear! It was huge, and it ran so fast. Thankfully not toward us. We were caught in a herd of stampeding elk. We had a terrifying stand off with a bighorn sheep while hiking a narrow, precarious trail on the edge of a cliff. We were able to hike across glaciers, though they have probably melted away by now. Glacier National Park in particular was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Totally worth living on canned veggie chili and Clif bars and sleeping on the ground for months.

    4. Oh! The Places We'll Go!*

      The Northern Lights are my current mental fantasy too! I’ve been watching them live online. Of course they don’t always show up when you want them to, but I’ve seen some great ones recently.
      As for past places I’ve loved, I’ve been to Paris probably 8 times and I adore it, what a beautiful place. And people have always been very very nice to me, with one minor exception. Nothing like the stereotypes you hear. For me and other members of my family who have traveled there, it has always been glorious and friendly.

      1. Ontariariario*

        The northern lights are very affected by time of year. They can barely be seen far north in summer due to long hours of sunlight, and in winter there is often cloud. I never saw them on my trips in May and November, and saw them well at 2am in October.

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My last few trips were to my parents home country, January 2019 to be precise. Have a lot of family there and would love to go back one day when tater tot is older. The smells are so strong. It’s where my father is buried. It’s def not the same visiting anymore now that he’s not there to greet me at the airport.

      Before he died my husband and I travelled to California, Dubai, and smaller local trips. I’ve also done solo trips to California and Washington state (that one in January 2020!). And ofc canada since that’s where he’s from. I would love to do a huge trip in canada, travel to different provinces etc.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      Someday I want to go to Iceland and see the landscapes I’m in awe of from the photos and videos.

      I’ll go with the first travel memory that popped into my head. When I was hiking in Canyonlands National Park on an uncrowded trail, I took a break in an alcove to sing in the great acoustics created by the shape of the rock walls. A canyon wren flew in and landed not far away. When I sang, he sang and when I paused, he did too. I will never forget that incredible duet.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Iceland is on my list too. I always wonder if those black sand beaches are as beautiful in person as they are with photography magic though!

        1. Bluebell*

          The black sand beaches are beautiful but also dangerous. And even in the summer, the weather is pretty nippy. I went there in summer 2019 and loved the experience. Taking a boat ride in the Glacier Lagoon was very memorable. Also watching the sky at night was fascinating- it just never got dark.

    7. StellaBella*

      I travelled a lot in the before times. Five favourite places are Papua New Guinea (2009 work but loved the beauty and people and still have friends there so on FB see photos all the time), The Maldives (2012 and our trip ended with the coup so 3 days living in the airport was interesting), Trinidad and Tobago (2005 Carnival, amazing and lovely), Italy (3 visits since 2010), and New Zealand (1999 and fave place was Napier by far but all of it was lovely). My next trip I have thought about is driving and maybe camping, as I live in Europe, on the Route Napoleon seriously look it up) but from North to South to the Med. I may try to do this in summer if things stabilise here.

    8. Jen*

      I absolutely loved my trip to the Big Island (Hawaii). I love both hiking and swimming and it was just an amazing trip. I even swam with dolphins (which I have to say in the wild is actually a little scary, though being able to watch the spinner dolphins swim up and then jump into the air was amazing).

    9. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      My return trips: Arizona and New Mexico, particularly Canyon de Chelly, Santa Fe and the drive to Albuquerque, the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert, and Tucson and San Xavier Del Bac Mission. A more thorough exploration of Vermont. Quebec City and Île d’Orléans. Hartwick Pines State Park in north central Michigan and Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan.
      Bucket list of places I haven’t been: Nova Scotia, taking the ferry from Maine. The Pacific Northwest. Grand Teton National Park. And so many countries I’ll never see unless I win the lottery.

      1. Rara Avis*

        For my honeymoon we took the ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia. Went back for our 1oth anniversary. Great trips!

    10. Anima*

      And I sit here just wanting to go to the next town over, Heidelberg. It is a pretty as the pamphlets say, and ist can be seen in one day, but then you miss the most interesting parts. I’ve been there several times with different people, but the hiking trip in 2018 is forever in my memory. Haven’t been back since, sadly. And I need to wait out this panini a bit longer before I jump in a train and go again.
      You can’t have a bad day in Heidelberg. Especially if you’ve been there several times and know how to avoid the tourist stampede!

    11. IrishEm*

      My last 2 trips were to Switzerland in 2019 (July & December). I had travelled there often as a child and seeing it as an adult was eerie and exciting. Also December was my first time travelling alone and I got my first massive boost of gender euphoria when I was called “sir/ser” at the hotel reception. I have no bad memories of Switzerland and I want to live there because my pain drastically reduced while I was over there.

    12. UKDancer*

      Favourite places are:

      Norway because the scenery is so beautiful. For my 30th birthday my parents took me to Norway. We saw Bergen and got the train up and over the mountains to Oslo. Then we flew to Kirkinnes in the Arctic circle and had a wonderful day sleigh riding (drawn by the cutest huskies) and snow mobiling. Then we got the boat down from Kirkinnes through the fjords back to Bergen. It was amazing, the most beautiful place.

      I’d definitely agree with people recommending the Maldives, it’s absolutely beautiful with amazing reefs. I had a wonderful time snorkelling there. My bungalow had a bathroom that was open to the sky so I would shower at night and look at the stars. If I get married I want my honeymoon there.

      I think in general I love visiting Germany and don’t think I could pick a favourite city from Nuremberg, Hamburg, Cologne or Stuttgart. I just feel so content in Germany and it works for me on one level. I went a lot as a child to visit my godparents and lived there as a student so it always feels like coming home. I don’t know if I’d want to live there but I have missed my annual visits during the pandemic. I am hoping to go to Berlin the autumn for music and shopping and fun.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      This fall we took a trip through eastern Arizona and New Mexico. Very beautiful, in a spare way. I live in New England where you are pretty much always in the forest, and the wide open views on the drives really stayed with me.

      I think my favorite part was Petrified Forest National Park, on the border between the two states. Not near anything else, and so not at all crowded. I am much more into geology in my 50s than I was when younger. (Look! Physics, slowly with trees on top!)

      1. Carpe Manana*

        I hope at some point you can come out to visit northern New Mexico. I’ve lived in and about Santa Fe for over 20 years and something about the landscape and the open skies gets into your blood. At least it has mine. Whenever I go back to the Mid West to visit, the chartreuse-like green gives me the hibbie jibbies.

        Lots of little know, off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions.

        But I’ve driven past but never visited The Petrified Visit. I looked it up and it’s a 3 1/2 hour drive. Maybe this summer. . .

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      Places I’ve been and loved, partial list:

      • Hawaii, the big island. It’s Hawaii, and beautiful.
      • New Zealand: You know how it plays itself so well in movies? That’s not a filter. Very fond memories of the sheep expo.
      • Costa Rica: We spent time on the coast and in the rainforest. Lots of diverse beauty packed into a small space; lovely people. This is somewhere I would consider retiring even though I don’t currently speak Spanish. If you’re in the Americas, it’s got minimal jet lag to deal with.

    15. RSTchick*

      We went to Ireland for our honeymoon back in 2014, and it was amazing. We’d like to go back in one of our milestone anniversaries.

    16. GoryDetails*

      So many! Looking back I do wish I’d done more traveling when I was younger (and there weren’t all these pandemic restrictions), but I have been fortunate enough to see some marvelous things.

      Some were actually local: my family lived in Wyoming for years, so day-trips to the Tetons were A Thing; that moment when we rounded the turn and saw the mountains was always a joy. And now I live in New England, within easy driving distance of the coast, so I can bop up to the Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine and enjoy the stunning view.

      Other moments: seeing Stonehenge – despite my familiarity with it through documentaries and other media, actually being there put me in awe, and I had to be dragged back to the tour bus {wry grin}.

      The staggeringly-beautiful Welsh coast near St. David’s Head. [Also the marvelous ale at the local pubs.]

      Climbing the bell tower of Notre Dame in Paris, and seeing the gargoyles up close.

      Walking among the redwoods in Muir Woods – and spotting an American Dipper dabbling at the edge of a brook; yes, the trees were awesome, yet somehow that tiny bird sticks in my memory.

      To name a few!

    17. Pippa K*

      Our last trip abroad before things shut down was to Australia to visit family, and we can’t wait to get back. I normally travel a fair bit for work, family, and pleasure and have missed this so much for the past two years. At this point I’d go almost anywhere! But for some reason the daydream lately has been to go back to Amsterdam, stand in the Rijksmuseum gazing at some Rembrandt, and then go eat all the Indonesian food I can hold.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely Loch Ness in 2014. It was a bucket-list item from childhood. Back then, I was really into UFOs and cryptids (silly me!) and badly wanted to see Nessie, but the ruined castle was also a draw. During my planning, I had a choice between Paris and Inverness for a day trip—it was the perfect chance to mark it off my list, so I chose Inverness. Since I took the Caledonian Sleeper up there and I always wanted to sleep on a train, I killed two bucket-list items with one stone. :)

      I blogged that trip, so here’s a link and pictures:
      https://aelizabethwest.com/2014/10/04/scotland-loch-ness-inverness-trains-and-tubes/

      On the trip back, I met a young Scottish woman and her nan in the first-class lounge car; they were headed down to London for a trip to Egypt. We had drinks and a nice chat and she and I are still friends on Facebook. She got married and had two kids in the interim. Next time I go back, I hope we can visit.

      I’d travel a lot more if I had both money and time. Thanks to my online stuff, I have so many friends in different places that there’s always someone to meet up with. Before I lost my job, I was planning a huge trip around Europe. Someday…

      1. beentheredonethat*

        Machu Picchu was the most amazing thing I have seen. One side of my family came from Chalgrave England in the 1600’s, The church is still standing. I then went to the local library and they had the town records from the 1300’s and let this foolish American in the room with the ones from the 1600’s. I made copies and brought them home and bought a book on middle English AND ran out of steam. But still so cool.

    19. KR*

      My husband and I took a road trip up to Moab. We took our dogs and pretty much drove the entire weekend, listening to music and trying to see as much as we could. It was snowing. One of my favorite trips we have taken, even though we didn’t *do* a lot.

    20. SparklingBlue*

      One of my favorite memories was an epic road trip to Florida when I was young–the highlight of which being Disney World.

    21. The Other Dawn*

      Not necessary my favorite memory, but something I still tell people about so it was memorable.

      I grew up, and still live, in the Northeast. My parents and I drove to Florida when I was kid (we never flew anywhere due to money and my mom’s fear of flying). This was the time of paper maps and TripTik planners from AAA, so very early 80s and o GPS. On the trip home, my mom took over driving and it was nighttime. We were somewhere around northern North Carolina/southern Virginia. My dad fell asleep, so no map reader. But it’s I-95N all the way home. Very easy. I don’t know why, but my mom I guess forgot it’s 95 all the way and rather than waking my dad to check the map, she concluded that the car in front of her was going to same way (home!) and followed it. All the way to eastern Delaware. My dad woke up and was confused as to why we weren’t in NJ. My mom then had to explain her reasoning. We laughed about it for years. All I can say when people ask why she did that is, “That’s just who she was.” LOL

    22. the cat's ass*

      We went to Chile a couple of years a go for a month with another couple and traveled from the Atacama Desert all the way down to Patagonia with kayaking, hiking, hot springs, and winery tours. We mostly travelled by train and bus which were surprisingly luxurious, especially the night buses. In Santiago we stayed in the a friend of a friend’s apartment, and just before leaving, recovered in a spa in the Andean foothills. DH had gone there as a kid with his grandmom, and it looked a little dumpy and run down, but WOW. We were the youngest people there, as it was a lot of older folks taking the cure in the lithium loaded waters. And the food at the spa was incredible, and even nicer for being unexpected. I’d love to go back.

    23. Been There*

      Vancouver. I went a couple of years ago in the last week of September, when the trees where turning but the weather was still nice. I loved wandering through this big, spacious city right by the water.

    24. Cedrus Libani*

      I think my favorite place ever was Switzerland. I love mountains, cheese, and chocolate, and OMG did I get that. I also have a rather specific soft spot for massive engineering projects that exist mostly because the engineers in question wanted to flex – yep, they have those too. Special mention to the train that goes right up the Jungfrau, one of the biggest and baddest of the Swiss Alps.

      Iceland is at the top of my to-do list – would’ve been my honeymoon, in late March 2020. Someday!

  6. Lurker*

    Advice for planing your first adult vacation? Never been on a trip by myself that wasn’t visiting family/ friends and staying with them or road tripping and camping. Looking to plan a trip someplace warm, like Hawaii, Mexico, San Diego, etc, and I have no idea how to start. Any advice on finding the right hotels/ flights/ activities. What order to book stuff in? Especially looking for advice on where/ how to start, a little frozen/ overwhelmed with the idea of planning stuff.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I suggest picking a spot or a few that intrigue you and looking up the kinds of activities you enjoy. Museums? Music? Gardens? Parks? Etc. From there, Trip Advisor is my go to. There are a whole lot of reviews there and almost without exception, I’ve found other people’s recommendations spot on for hotels as well as other destinations.

      It’s also good to consider what kinds of accommodations you’re interested in. If I’m staying somewhere for an extended period, I prefer going through Airbnb to get a place with a kitchen where I can bring groceries rather than having to eat out all the time as is needed at a hotel.

      Think about how you’d like to get around. Do you want to be able to walk places? Rent a car? Ride a bike? Public transit? That’s a good thing to consider also.

      All these suggestions are how I’ve traveled before COVID, so you may need to modify things. For instance, when I’ve had short stays in hotels, I’ve brought all my food with me and used the refrigerator and microwave to prepare meals so I wouldn’t have to go to public places unmasked. You’ll need to consider what your own comfort is for traveling.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Also, since you’re figuring things out as you go, you might find it easier to book things through a central source online such as Expedia if you find it overwhelming to dive into the entire internet. Look for bookings you can easily change for a full refund. For instance, when I’ve booked through Expedia, I’ve found hotels I can cancel all the way up to a day or two before my trip. Many airlines during the pandemic have waived all fees for cancellations or changes. My experience with Airbnb is that you can cancel with minimal fees as well, that just varies on the place in terms of how much notice they need.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          The warning with this is that if anything goes wrong, there’s an extra level of beaurocracy between you and the company you’ve paid via the middleman. And in a lot of cases they expect you to deal with Expedia rather than the people who are sometimes literally right in front of you.

          1. missing travel*

            Yes, when there was an issue with a flight I booked through Orbitz, I ended up spending weeks going back and forth on the phone with Orbitz and the airline, each telling me that the other had to do XYZ before they could do ABC.
            On the other hand, when our honeymoon hotel announced (on the day of the wedding) that they were closing immediately for renovations, Hotels.com got in touch ASAP, apologized profusely, sent us a handful of comparable options, and then covered the price difference. So that’s a middleman I’d be happy to use again.

            1. WoodswomanWrites*

              Good points. I’ve never had anything go wrong with Expedia or other external services, so now I know to be aware of the risk and may change the way I book things.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      First, I decide the cities I want to stay overnight in (one city, and do day trips, or a couple of different locations), and check transportation options, for a basic itinerary.

      My usual order
      – check necessary visas, and make sure my passport expiry date is compatible (ie, not expiring within six months of the trip). Check national holidays for the destination, so I’m don’t accidentally book for an unusually busy period.
      – check hotel rooms for a general idea of price/location/availability, check rental car availability.
      – book plane tickets. Usually I avoid ultra-budget airlines, and try to get fairly direct flights. Making multiple changes to save a couple hundred dollars isn’t usually worth it.
      – book rental car/train tickets between cities, etc.
      – book hotels
      – buy travel insurance

      Then I can relax a bit, and think about what I want to do when. Tickets for things like the opera, ultra busy cultural sites, or a guided birding tour, I do in advance, most of the rest we figure out after we’ve got there.

      A few hints – read the cancellation/change information carefully for tickets and hotels. You can often cancel hotels or rebook train tickets, if you do it well enough in advance, but sometimes a cancellable room is a bit more expensive. Plane tickets can generally be rebooked for a change fee, but not fully refunded. I’ve noticed the hotel sites, like booking.com, have taken to suggesting cheaper options where you change rooms at the same hotel between nights, which is annoying (you have to check out, and stash your stuff before checking in again). I’ve had very good luck over the years with not very expensive B&B type places that might be a bit shabby, but have rave reviews for the owners.

      I would also recommend not filling your schedule too full. Give yourself time to relax in a park or on the beach, or have a mid-afternoon nap, or read in a coffee shop.

      If you’re nervous about travelling, it’s probably easiest to stick to the US for your first trip. You won’t have to worry about language issues or passports and visas.

    3. Pam Adams*

      Don’t put too much weight on making it perfect. Find a place you would like to go, a reasonable place to stay, and choose some activities. Enjoy yourself.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        +1 to this advice. I think I often suffer from FOBO (fear of better options) and am paralyzed by choice. I have to tell myself that making a choice is better than not making one.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It wasn’t exactly my first adult vacation, but when I booked my first solo trip I went to the JetBlue website and found a getaway package that looked good– included flight and hotel, so that was taken care of. I wanted to go somewhere I had never been, somewhere relaxing, somewhere I would feel comfortable on my own. I narrowed it down to Las Vegas, Key West, and Bermuda.

      I ended up in Bermuda. Wrong time of year so it wasn’t expensive. Frankly, the weather sucked (February!) and I ended up not really loving Bermuda, but my hotel was GREAT and I had a good time.

      In short: you can book a package which will take care of the major pieces and go from there.

    5. Loopy*

      If you can afford it, make arrangements with companies with better customer service reputations vs. sites like Expedia. I used to always go with the cheapest option but when things go awry or wrong, you’re usually just plain out of luck. For example, it may take a long time to reach a person, but when I finally do Delta’s customer service (when booked directly through their site) was easy and helpful and I could have cried with relief.

      This may mean asking around to those who have used different companies. For me personally, it reduces a lot of travel anxiety, but YMMV on how much this matters.

    6. LDN Layabout*

      1) Do all the at home tasks first. That means booking leave, buying travel insurance, checking what and where your travel insurance will cover e.g. do you want to do any diving/water sports.

      2) Flights. What experience do you want and how does that meet up with your budget? When I was younger, I would book flights at idiot times to save money, now I’m older and have more money? Comfort > saving money.

      Same with flying direct vs. having connections, I’d much rather fly direct if possible but some people don’t mind dealing with connections to get a deal on flights. This might rely on whether you have a hub airport nearby or not.

      If all you want to do is go somewhere warm, I’d look first at what direct/reasonably priced flights you have going from your local airport to help you choose where to go. Also take into account accommodation/spending costs at that point e.g. Mexico will likely be cheaper than the US when you’re there, even if the flights are more expensive.

      3) Accommodation. Think about how you want your holiday to go, do you want to flit from place to place or go somewhere with a beach and pool nearby and just stay there for two weeks, or something in between? Consider whether you might feel more comfortable doing an all-inclusive for this first trip, it’ll mean accommodation, food, activities will be something you can arrange with one entity (the resort).

      4) Activities. Once you have everything else sorted, you can see what kind of things are on offer. Check tripadvisor and also google things such as ‘travel blog LocationX’ and you’ll see what others before you have done/enjoyed.

    7. sagewhiz*

      There is an advisory to NOT travel to Mexico, due to covid. If you do decide to go there, carefully research the particular area, as many are known to be dangerous for tourists.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      My hotel picking advice: Choose a destination and some stuff you want to be sure to visit on the trip. Pull up Google maps of that location and search for hotels. Most recently I did this to find a really lovely B and B on the Maine coast near Bath; a quiet bunch of cabins in the woods on a stream well outside Sedona; a casino-free resort outside Albuquerque; and a known-quantity chain hotel close to the highway exit midway on a long driving stretch.

      Typing this I realize it’s very close to what AirBnB offers as a model, assuming that “proximity to the thing I want to see” is a major criterion for me.

    9. Llellayena*

      If you’re not quite sure on location yet, check the flight prices to a few places and pick somewhere less expensive to fly to. Also, if you’re comfortable with dorm style sleeping arrangements, look at hostels. Most of the major cities will have them, you’ll have access to a full size fridge, often an included breakfast (don’t expect fancy though, think bagels), and sometimes a full kitchen. You’ll also have other travelers to talk with at meals and in the evenings and might find someone to pal around with for a day.

      I’d make a list of what you’d like to do, map out where it is and decide if you actually need a car rental. I’ve been on several trips where I just use public transportation or occasionally Uber. Get your sleeping spot somewhere in the middle of everything (another way hostels can be useful) and walk, bus, or train/subway where you want to go. For a one day trip a little farther out, you can get a car just for that day.

      Oh, money saving trick. Lunch should be your biggest meal of the day. Lunch prices at restaurants are cheaper and give you just as much food as dinner. Use the leftovers for dinner (if you’ve got access to a fridge) and you’ll save a ton.

      Ps. I recommend Santa Fe. I would recommend San Diego but I haven’t been there yet, but there’s a lot that looks interesting and it all seems to be in one area.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding on two bits of this:
        • Uber for visiting large cities. I didn’t have to deal with driving in heavy traffic or trying to park.
        • Santa Fe: Visited this fall and it was lovely. It’s high desert, though, so may not be as warm as you are hoping for if you go in early March.

    10. Raboot*

      Don’t book airline tickets from anyone except airlines. You can use any number of tools to seatch for flights (google flights and skyscanner are popular) but book the actual tickets through an airline.

      If you do stay in the US, afaik Southwest doesn’t give agggregators access to their flights, so also check Southwest when you choose your tickets.

      For hotels, it’s definitely a good idea to alao check their own website after finding them on booking-dot-com or similar, but it’s less of a big deal because hotel reservations tend to be easier to change and sometimes are pay on arrival (read the booking conditions though). Meanwhile buying airline tickets from a 3rd party will probably be fine BUT if anything changes, even if your flights are rescheduled by an airline, it will be a nightmare to modify anything.

    11. cleo*

      I highly recommend the Lonely Planet guidebooks – they give a good overview of what to do and see, with lots of tips and things to keep in mind when planning to visit specific places. They also have a website.

    12. Bluebell*

      Lots of good advice on this thread. Given your interest in warm places/beach, I’d add Puerto Rico to the list. I went there solo preCovid and stayed in AirBnbs. Also chose some Airbnb experiences that were great. Was able to get direct flight on JetBlue that was not too pricey. I usually start with flight research, then look at accommodations. Good luck!

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m seconding another suggestion of making room for down time. I’ve found that once I arrive somewhere, the locals have suggestions for things I didn’t previously know about that turned out be fantastic. It’s also good to have wiggle room where you may just want to hang out and read a book or something. Constant activity can be draining.

    14. Koala dreams*

      I like to borrow a few guidebooks from the library to start with. They give you an idea of what to see and do and often have examples for travel itineraries, but of course you’ll have to check the details online or with the local tourist office since the books can be outdated.

      Many cities have websites with information for tourists, like the online version of tourist offices, if you have a particular city in mind you can look there for ideas.

    15. Lurker*

      Thank you for all the advice this is super helpful. It’s very overwhelming doing this for the first time, so I really appreciate all the advice.

    16. BarnacleSally*

      I usually start with thinking about what type of vacation I want. Do I want a more social and urban experience? (access to plays, museums, events etc) Or do I want a more rural experience? (hiking and natural wonder style experiences) Figuring out that usually helps me to start to hone in on a location. Then I head over to the Trip Advisor travel forms and lurk there to see what interests me in my potential locations.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    For me it’s been little this week, but I did get some more very necessary plotting done for a massive project. I genuinely hope I get to complete this one – my brain has a tendency of coming up with 50 different ideas and then I end up with 47 incomplete projects to find years later…

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Lately, I’ve been thinking about writing about music on my blog. Music and writing are two of my creative outlets, but trying to mix those two genres together is really tough. I sit at the keyboard and just kinda stare thinking about how to translate my feelings about playing and singing into words and paragraphs. I have new respect for music writers.

    2. Miss 404*

      Mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s going fantastically – the words have flowed like water when they’re usually more like ketchup (in a glass bottle). But on the other hand, I put my character in a Not Fun situation from which I haven’t yet extricated her, and my muse has abruptly departed now I’m less tired since I am the epitome of “write drunk, edit sober”… so now I have a lovely bit of grimdark hanging around front and centre of my notes app that I don’t really want there without a happy ending… yay.

    3. Forensic13*

      Not too badly! I was trying to figure out how to get a character to act. . . out of character. . . quickly and finally figured out how to make it work. I’ve always been trying to find more writing support, which I’ve been craving, and tried a new group.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I am unbelievably frustrated by my inability to concentrate and buckle down. We finally got everyone well and back to school, and then we got bad health news about a family member, so its a whole nother fire drill with hosting relatives, then my husband traveling, and oppressive worry.

      I feel like I “should” be able to be productive because I’m not physically doing much for the family situation, and I have the time. But it is taking up a big chunk of brain space.

    5. Girasol*

      One of the short stories that I’d tried and tried to write suddenly appeared all at once. I am still delighted and mystified by how my characters say things that surprise me. Part of me thinks, “What a concept! I never thought of anything like that,” while another part says, “How can I be surprised? I wrote that.” Do your characters surprise you or am I just out of my mind?

    6. DrunkAtAWedding*

      I’m writing a story about a woman who falls in love with an alien…and the most unrealistic part so far is when the alien notices all the work she’s doing and thinks “Hm…maybe if I do the washing up, she’ll have time to watch a movie with me?”. The majority of the men I’ve met in my life (not due to biological gender, but societal expectations) would struggle to come to that realisation.

    7. just another bureaucrat*

      I read a book recently that I really was annoyed with, the whole time I kept thinking about all the stupid parts of it and sat down to write…essentially anti-fan fiction. About half way through my brain just crashed out and was like “what do I do to make this saleable? How do I need to update this character to fit this model to be more catchy? Which particular sub-genre am I aiming for and am I hitting the right notes to make it a hit within that?

      1. just another bureaucrat*

        Hit send too soon…which is basically what happened and all my forward writing momentum just WHOOOOOSHED out of me. I can’t seem to get my brain to stop and focus on creative outlet for creative sake, it’s like gotta do the next thing. It’s frustrating to feel like I’m fighting my brain all the time to get it what it needs.

  8. 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’ve recently gotten back into Don’t Starve, that survival game where starvation is usually the least of my problems. A group of pengulls decided to nest closer to my camp than I care for (though at least this time they’re not right on top of it)

    1. Smol Book Wizard*

      Oh, the joys of Don’t Starve, and the pengulls. I play Wendy all the time now so I don’t have to worry As Much, but there’s just so many ways to perish… The last time I think it was the ant-lion that got me, because I had just escaped lightning at night and was like “I cannot be bothered to leave the earthquake zone, how bad can it be?” I also have a long and dishonorable history of falling to the walrus-folk in the wintertime, even when I’m not trying to steal their hats.

    2. Alice*

      I’ve just finished Wytchwood and it was so charming, just a little game about a witch wandering around collecting ingredients for quests. Just 10 hours of gameplay, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Not sure what to play next (sure, I have 50 games on my bought-and-unplayed list, but I’ve got nothing new to play!)

    3. The Dude Abides*

      The new Kamigawa set just dropped, and outside of the one busted card everyone wants in older formats, for me the set is a big giant pile of meh.

    4. anon7557*

      So Clover is a fun activity (we don’t keep score). It’s slow and quiet with lots of thinking so keep that in mind.

    5. comityoferrors*

      My partner and I started playing Escape Simulator this week and it’s been a lot of fun! The first few puzzles we solved, we went way over the timer but celebrated getting tokens anyway. As we got more into the groove, we started beating the time *and* getting tokens and it really hyped us up. We have very different play-styles (he’s competitive, I’m a slow completionist) but the escape rooms balanced out our styles and helped us collaborate better. I’m excited for our next game night.

      If anyone has recs for similar low-key co-op games, I’d love to hear it!

    6. Libby A.*

      I’ve been finishing up the new Pokémon Legends Arceus game. One of the Pokémon requires you to find 107 floating wisps around the different maps and I’ve been hunting those down recently.

      My friend and I also had the chance to play the Pokémon card game for the first time. I played a lot with the cards as a kid but never with the actual rules. It’s been a very fun Pokémon filled week.

      1. LGC*

        Ditto, although I still haven’t beaten even the fourth noble yet (after I struggled way more against Arcanine than I should have, I put off Electrode until the weekend).

        It’s been pretty lit, though! I JUST got into Pokémon myself (as in, Sword was my entry into the main line), and while I found the Pearl remake kind of ugly on the Switch (to the point where I just put it off and totally not because Maylene’s Lucario beat me into a pulp and I was BIG MAD), and while Legends: Arceus is different from the main games…it still uses a lot of the familiar Pokémon mechanics. And I’ve had fun with a lot of its changes (for example, the fact that you are the monster in the tall grass now).

      2. SparklingBlue*

        I’ve been having fun with Pokemon Legends: Arceus even if Hisuian Arcanine was a royal pain to fight

    7. RagingADHD*

      I’m excited to try a new TT collaborative game called “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Got a notification that my hold came in, so I’m picking it up from the library today.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I downloaded some puzzle thing called Bubble Pop: Origins because I just wanted to pop bubbles but it’s HARD. It was very stressful until I realized that, like most games, if I grind long enough, it will let me win eventually. I do like the sounds it makes, so I guess it’s somewhat relaxing.

    9. Koala dreams*

      Does anyone use board game arena? I’m curious to try it out, but don’t know where to start. Any tips?

      1. Alice*

        Do you have other friends who might be interested in trying with you? We have the most fun when playing together on a group call. When we are trying a new game, or if there is a new person at the table, there is the option of playing with no timer which really helps. Otherwise, make sure to read the rules before joining a table. It’s okay to take some time to figure out each interface at first, even if you are familiar with the game, some buttons and options are in weird places.

        1. Mimi*

          Agreed. There are also a lot of settings when creating tables that I didn’t find at first, so even if you don’t have friends available, you can deliberately set up a game for inexperienced players, or whatever.

    10. MEH Squared*

      I’m eagerly awaiting Elden Ring by FromSoft, supposed to drop in less than two weeks! I can’t believe it’s almost in my hot little hands. It’s probably the game I’ll be playing for the rest of this year.

  9. Loves libraries*

    Minor issue alert – I am aware this is a small problem but thought I’d see what y’all would do.

    I have a very good friend who started wearing a particular perfume a few years ago. I don’t like the smell of this perfume as it makes me feel quite nauseous. However, she was living in a city far away so we would see each other once or twice per year and it seemed like a small price to pat on our occasional catch ups. Said friend has now moved back to my current city and hopefully we’ll be catching up a lot more often. Should I say something about the perfume? I am currently pregnant so have a relatively good excuse for scent insensitivity.

    1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      You can use the pregnancy as an excuse for now, just say all perfumes make you feel queasy. Afterwards, something like “That’s a lovely scent but I seem to be allergic to it” would be diplomatic.

      1. Berlin Berlin*

        I agree about using the pregnancy as a justification – and afterwards could you simply tell them that the insensitivity has unfortunately persisted? That might soften it if they might be dismayed at the revelation you’ve disliked it all this time

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely I’d rather know. I think just say “one of the symptoms of pregnancy is an aversion to some scents. Unfortunately that perfume you’re wearing is making me feel unwell. Would you mind not wearing it when we meet up.” Unless your friend is a completely awful person they will probably prefer to know so they can do something about it. I mean I have about 3 favourite scents and would be happy not wearing one if it would make my friend feel unwell.

      2. AGD*

        This. I once learned that a friend had been secretly reacting badly to some completely optional thing that I’d been doing for years, and I was a bit horrified that they put themself through all that – it would have been very easy for me to make the necessary small adjustment all those years earlier!

    2. Llellayena*

      Just a couple days ago at the place we don’t speak about here I asked someone to step back because I was reacting to their perfume. It doesn’t need to be a big thing. You can’t control how you react to irritants and a good person will recognize that and accommodate you. Heck, I had a friend who was allergic to ALL scents (epipen level allergic) and I would shower after work with unscented soap and use unscented deodorant before heading over there. You accommodate the people you love.

    3. allathian*

      Please say something, especially now that your pregnancy means you have the perfect excuse. If she’s a good friend, she’ll understand. If she doesn’t understand, she isn’t as good a friend as you think.

    4. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I’m very scent-sensitive, so I’ve developed a couple of scripts to explain it to people I need to see often. My favorite is “Certain scents tend to trigger headaches or make me feel ill, even ones that I think are pleasant. And on some bad days, some smells that are usually ok, aren’t. Please don’t ____ (use perfume/spray airfreshener/burn candles) when I’m around, as much as I like them, they make me sick.”

      Most people are understanding, I’ve worked in scent-free offices, and my friends have no problem accommodating me. They understand that I’m not insulting them, just trying to keep myself from getting ill.

    5. JustEm*

      Pregnancy is the *perfect* excuse! My mother in law used to give us flowers that triggered my migraines, but when I was pregnant we asked for scent-free and then just said I’ve stayed sensitive. It was great way not to make it obvious that all the prior flowers were a problem — everyone knows pregnant women are sensitive to smells.

    6. SG*

      I would recommend saying something before you see her even once, so that you don’t have to suffer through a first visit. Just say you’ve found yourself very sensitive to scents to the point of them making you physically ill, and could she please not wear any perfumes or anything heavily scented for your visits. Honestly, although I understand your apprehension or awkwardness, you are making this bigger in your head than it needs to be. Just ask!

    7. LemonLyman*

      I’d just tell her ahead of time that the pregnancy has really made you adverse to scents and that you’d appreciate it if she didn’t wear any strong scents such as perfume. This way you’re not feeling like you’re picking on that particular scent. (I this makes me think of that scene from the Office.)

    8. Observer*

      I think the issue should not be a big deal, as long as you communicate it right. So, I wouldn’t say “I don’t like it” because that implies judgement. Instead just tell her that the scent causes a reaction in you.

      It seems to me that “it makes me nauseous” often comes off also as a judgement about how awful something is. And because scent can be very personal, people can sometimes read that kind of intention even when you absolutely do not mean that. But when you say something like “my pregnancy is making me sensitive to a lot of normal smells” or even “I seem to be oddly sensitive to this particular scent” that’s clearly not about your friend using a “bad” scent.

      I do agree with everyone else – DO tell her. Because when it’s so bad that you think of it as the price for occasional admission, that is going to get in the way of being able to spend time together. And that would be a real shame.

    9. beach read*

      I wouldn’t use the pregnancy as an excuse because you won’t always be pregnant and using that as an excuse doesn’t deliver the message as being an ongoing problem. I’d tell my friend how happy I was they were back, how I looked forward to seeing them. I’d say at that point “There is something important I need to talk with you about.” and then I’d tell the truth about the allergy to her perfume, explain why you never said anything before and ask them not to wear it when you are together. If this friend is a good friend, they will be ok with your telling them and they will not continue to wear the perfume when seeing you. If they don’t react well that is a shame. Either way you won’t be suffering any more.

      1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

        This us what I do, beach read — I just say it. Kindly, but I tell them. Typically, people respond very well to “Oh, hey, my weird body is not able to tolerate x perfume, which sucks because man, it smells absolutely wonderful on you!”

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I feel like I’ve missed something crucial… who is this new cat and how long have they been here?! And I feel like the tongue sticking out is only a brief intro to a much bigger personality…

        1. Cj*

          I thought it was probably Eve, but there’s something about the picture that I wonder too if it was a new cat.

    1. LemonLyman*

      I love when animals blep! I was at the zoo a few months back (all outdoors = activity for me as an immunosuppressed person!) and one of the lionesses was sound asleep and her tongue was sticking every so slightly out! I couldn’t help myself and excitedly exclaimed “Awww! She’s blepping!” and a young woman with her SO turned around and happily states behind her mask, “That’s what I was just saying!” Both of our SOs gave us looks like they had no clue what we were talking about but we both kept cooing about the sweet blep. I love having these types of little positive connections with strangers!

  10. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    I was the runner who posted the question a few weeks ago asking if it was crazy to deliberately plan to quit at the 17-mile mark of the Brooklyn Marathon. Turns out the race organizers solved the dilemma for me: They were unable to get the Coney Island section of the race (the big draw for me) permitted, and the second half of the revised marathon course is positively hideous, so I switched my registration to the half-marathon.

    In a large way, I’m actually relieved. I don’t think the competitive part of me would have actually let me shut down at mile 17, and I was behind schedule in training. At this point, a half-marathon is a much better fit for me, as a number of commenters said on my original post.

    But a smaller part of me… is kind of ticked off that this organization put the race up for sale when its amazing course was still, apparently, just a proposed route. The rational part of me knows how hard it is to get a race on the streets of a major city permitted, and I have no doubt COVID complications have made things a thousand times worse. On the other hand, I feel like I was sweet-talked into investing in a highly speculative stock, and my investment tanked.

    Runners (or cyclists, triathletes etc.) of AAM, I’m curious… have you ever had a course route drastically change on you when you were in the middle of training? Did it ruin your whole race experience, or did you make lemonade out of lemons?

    1. I was told there would be llamas*

      There have been marathons completely cancelled right before the race…there was one recently, Charleston I think that was cancelled like 1-2 weeks before the race…that’s a lot worse than a course change…so I’d say the course change is disappointing but at least you’re not training for nothing :)

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Yup — I remember I knew several people who were planning to run the NYC Marathon in 2012 only to have it canceled at the almost literal last minute by Superstorm Sandy. To say they were devastated would be an understatement. I had a bit of that happen to me in 2018, when I planned to run the Philadelphia Marathon but got knocked out by a knee injury five days before the race. I enjoyed the training runs, so it wasn’t a total loss, but still.

        The half-marathon course for this race actually looks pretty cool — the same changes that basically torpedoed the full marathon actually made the half-marathon better. So this isn’t a total loss, either.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, well Sandy was a different situation. This was something that no one at all could have planned for. No one made any mistakes – except for the Mayor who should have cancelled IMMEDIATELY instead of dithering over it. But even that can be chalked up to just the scope of the whole mess.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      I haven’t had that happen to me, but I have definitely been disappointed in courses that seemed like they’d be in or near nature and then really weren’t. I am glad this worked out ok for you, I wasn’t sure you’d stop after 17 miles. Enjoy the half!

    3. University Schlep*

      yeah, it wasn’t the race organizer’s fault, I was signed up for a beautiful half through woods and wine country, and a couple weeks before the race a section of the road collapsed due to mudslides so they moved the whole race to the same route as an ugly half I had deliberately not signed up for because I did it once and found it monotonous (an out and back through the warehouse district -flat grey and with so few turns it felt like running on a treadmill – but super deserted on weekends so easy to permit) . They did offer to defer the entry to any other race they did for 12 months – they do about 6 a year, but I needed a half in my marathon training that weekend so grey and uninspired it was.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        A wine country half marathon sounds pretty amazing. I’m sorry it never happened — the alternative sounds terrible!

    4. Triathlete of AAM*

      I had a half marathon course change at nearly the last minute when spring flooding put part of the proposed course underwater. A bike trail encircled the city and the original course was the more scenic and lower lying southern half of the loop. At the last minute, flooding forced to race to the less scenic and more elevated northern half. No one, including me, was happy, but in a situation with nature misbehaving we understood and made lemonade. (Also got snowed on, but that would have happened regardless of the route.)

      A triathlon had the swim cancelled when the lake went anaerobic leading to a huge and disgusting fish kill. Another triathlon moved completely close to the race when the lake got too much toxic blue green algae. I can deal fine if it’s a nature/act of God type problem, but I think I’d be much more upset if it was poor planning or human error.

      1. Observer*

        I can deal fine if it’s a nature/act of God type problem, but I think I’d be much more upset if it was poor planning or human error.

        I’m not a runner, but this makes a lot of sense to me.

    5. Double A*

      This isn’t a course that changed, but there was this gorgeous half marathon that I ran multiple times and I swore someday I’d do the full. When I finally did, the first half of the route just wasn’t very interesting or pretty, so it was just kind of a letdown. All that anticipation for nothing!

    6. LGC*

      Oh man, I wish I’d seen your earlier question!

      Anyway, I haven’t had that issue yet…mostly because my target races tend to be really established. (For marathons: NYC 2x, Boston 2x and going for #3 this spring, and then my first marathon was New Jersey in 2018.) Probably the closest I’ve come was 2020, when my club’s half marathon needed to run a drastically different course. (Usually, it’d start from the mall and go into the park; that year, it had to be entirely in the park, and go in the opposite direction from its usual route. Which makes it more difficult.) But in that case…it was 2020, I had been recovering from various injuries anyway, so I didn’t have any expectations for the race. I was honestly just surprised that we’d been able to get permits from the county!

      (Context: I’m from New Jersey. So after the spring of 2020, local officials were extremely cautious. But then in the fall, case rates had been relatively low – up until November or so. And the race happened in October.)

      For what it’s worth, I ran 4 minutes slower than my PR that year. But that was mostly based off of not fully training. And I was just happy to be able to run in person. And…like, I’ll be honest, I don’t necessarily think too much about the course. If something drastic happens (like NYC Half changing from being relatively flat and down the west side of Manhattan in 2017 to being a two-borough race that’s hilly in 2018), that’s more of a, “okay, gotta adjust strategy then.”

      Kind of inside baseball (as another NYC area runner): I think another issue is that NYCRUNS is an upstart race organizer (NYRR is the big gorilla in New York – to wit, I’ve done multiple NYRR races, but haven’t had a chance to do any NYCRUNS races yet). I’m not expecting NYRR’s Brooklyn Half to have to make any changes, for example. And you’re also right about permits being a pain in general – while my club was able to return to its old course this year, and the NJ circuit was able to run most of their races eventually, the New Jersey Marathon is looking for an entirely new location after Long Branch refused to give it permits this year. (Which I’m really sad about! I have fond memories of that race.) I’m hoping that it’s less of an issue now, especially since NY Marathon went off pretty smoothly.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Yeah, that thought crossed my mind with NYCRUNS. It’s not their fault, but the end result is that I don’t really want to sign up for any of their races far in advance anymore. The problem is, close to race day, the races get much more expensive.

        It’s all kind of a moot point anyway as I got so used to running my own courses on my own schedule during the pandemic that I think my days of running races are about over. I found I didn’t miss the whole experience of waking up super early and struggling with early morning weekend transit, increasingly obnoxious security procedures, standing in a huge crowd of people far more competitive than me, etc. But this course was too good to pass up — and the half marathon that hopefully will turn out to be the finalized route still looks pretty sweet.

        Too bad about the New Jersey Marathon. That was a terrific race. I ran it twice; one was my career best race and the other was my worst. I wish them luck getting it relocated.

        1. LGC*

          *looks at beat-up pair of Diadoras from pacing the NJ half marathon in 2019*

          I was actually supposed to pace the half again in 2020 and 2021 and then…you know. Actually, NJ would have been an even better example (as the race was entirely cancelled), but…in that case, it was kind of a relief. I had Boston scheduled six days before it would have been run this year, and Boston ended up doing such a number on me I don’t think I could have run a half six days later. (I did manage to do that double in 2019, but in that case there were 13 days between, which makes a big difference.)

          I’m actually a bit glad to get back into in-person racing, but that’s largely because I enjoy the stuff around it. (Mostly the finish. I joked to my running group that I’m the guy people make the “there’s bananas at the end” signs for this week.) Like, I’ll run a virtual race…but it just doesn’t feel the same, and then you have to organize the afterparty. For me, it’s just like a fast long run.

    7. newbie*

      I’ve done plenty of races where I never bothered to check what the course actually is – just follow the signs. That said, I’ve never been into giant “experience” type races.

    8. Mama Sarah*

      I love the challenges of adapting to the landscape and trying to run even splits…the latter of which might get more of my attention on race day.

      I did the first half of the California International Marathon. So awesome to be in our Capital city with so many amazing runners and tremendous community support…but miles 6 to 10 (and a lot of mile 11!) were all rolling hills on pavement, just one after another. I had visualize a good climb or two and then some flats. After that surprise (I still made it to mile 13 under 1:50, so I was happy), I decided to definitely read course reviews before signing up (or at least before race day!). Pear Blossom 10 miler in Medford, OR has a few miles that were total suburban blah…and then we rounded a corner and it was vistas, farms, and a four piece string band at the bottom of driveway before a nice hill at the turn around. I highly recommend this spring race.

      It’s totally fair to be one and done with a course.

      BTW – Good call on not planning to quit at mile 17!! Makes more sense to enjoy a quality training run without the fee and hustle and bustle.

  11. Loopy*

    SO much thanks to the many who commented last week on my body odor problem. I’ve employed a few of the ideas and am feeling much better.

    So now I have a fun question. I am traveling cross country (via plane) for a 5 day trip and hoping for all the packing tips. I love the idea of keeping it to a large backpack but am skeptical that’s possible. I have the compression packing cube things but this trip will call for an extra pair of shoes, an extra dress (for a potential nice dinner) and I’m stubbornly (so stubbornly) bringing a full hardcover library book I’m desperate to read.

    Also would love airport/plane travel hacks. It’ll be a long day both ways!

    1. Meh*

      Assuming you are going somewhere warmer/temperant then you shouldn’t have a lot of bulk. Pack things that are convertable/have double duty. A dress that you can put a shirt over to make a skirt combo. Roll everything. Stuff your socks/underwear/jewelry/night cream into your shoes. Wear your largest pieces on the plane – and prepare to wear them back – including shoes. If you do makeup can you put anything into smaller containers? Decanting the larger things helps.

    2. AnonNTA*

      I packed a 10-day trip to Rome in a regular size carry on plus personal item. Didn’t check a thing. There was no access to washers. I used Marie Kondo folding to maximize space. I don’t roll or lay flat. KonMarie all the way.

      Pretty sure I got three cotton shirts, three cashmere sweaters, three pairs of pants, one skirt, one dress, one rain coat, two pairs of shoes (Allbirds, flats, and dressy), socks, and undergarments in the soft shell carry on. My phone, laptop, camera, book, cords/earbuds, and liquids went into my personal item. On the way back, I had an extra pair of shoes, a scarf (wore it on the plane), a bottle of wine, rolled up art prints (the tube fit in my personal item drink pouch lol), and an extra book and it all fit. I had to ship a piece of original art home instead of taking it with me, but that was almost preferred. I wore some outfits twice.

      I also swear by Truffle clear pouches – I always put my liquids in their clarity travel case and use the tech pouch or clarity pouch large for charging cords.

        1. AnonNTA*

          It was duty free and in my carry on. Security didn’t care. I don’t know if I got lucky or if rules changed since then.

          1. AnonNTA*

            My SO just reminded me that I checked the carry on on the way back because of the wine. And that’s how it got all beat up. Which makes more sense. All I distinctly remember is packing the bottle between all my shirts and hoping it didn’t break or burst. It fit!!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Not sure if by large backpack you mean one that fits under the seat in front of you, or the top end of the carry-on range. I normally travel with a small backpack that can hold my reading material, laptop, and purse (for boarding), and a carry-on for the overhead bin. If I want to bring athletic gear (specifically my hiking poles, which don’t fit in a carry-on), or more warm outer layers than comfortably fit on my body for the flight, then I bite the bullet and pay for a checked bag. (Reminding myself that if the prices per flight had been $30 higher I wouldn’t have blinked.) And then pack efficiently with my spouse so we can fit all the bulky stuff between us into one big bag.

      I have been really happy with Osprey luggage–first got packs for a trip to Costa Rica, and later roll-aboards. They have the right amount of diverse pockets and handles.

      Note that roll-aboards are very useful for chugging through airports, and so ideal for plane->rental car->hotel door travel, but they don’t roll nearly so well on sidewalks and if you have to pick them up and carry them along the rugged path or up the stairs, then some of the packing space and weight is going to that wheel-and-handle assemblage.

      If you can do laundry at your destination, that lets you pack lighter.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Frequent-ish solo traveler. I always prefer to check a bag, and I include any checked bag fee in my planned budget for the trip. This lets me bring my preferred toiletry items in full sizes plus at least one extra pair of shoes. It also lets me keep my carry-on to a smaller size, and I don’t have to get stressed about competing for space in the overhead bins. Doesn’t mean that the bag I check is massive or bulky, though. It’s a convertible backpack-duffel that I can easily haul on my own along with my carry-on, including on public transit.

      For the plane ride I carry my laptop and a selection of magazines, newspaper crosswords, and books. (Often I’ll leave a book at my destination and pick up a replacement during the trip.)

      1. WellRed*

        This is me, right down the magazines and replacement books. I prefer to check a bag because, also, I often struggle to lift anything over my head. Especially when travel exhausted. I’m enjoying all the packing tips, however.

    5. Reba*

      If you have the space for a liquid in your carry on allotment, I like the Laundress wrinkle release spray. It works well on creases and I also use it to refresh clothes and get another wear out of them.

      Also, re: the hardback book — I understand this, I truly do and I have been there, but just keep weight in mind. You are planning to carry all this stuff *on your back* which can get fatiguing, and you need to be able to lift it overhead if you are going carry-on only.

      Have fun!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        And if it’s a library book, you can’t just leave it, so now it’s weight and bulk you have committed to for the return journey as well.

        May I suggest finding some used paperback books that you could read and leave behind? I grab books at my library book sale ($1 each) and then give them to the flight attendants or leave them at the hotel (lots of them have book exchanges) when I am done.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also, if there’s a hiking whoops with water, mud or animals, it’s a lot less easy to laugh it off if you’ve damaged something belonging to someone else.

    6. No longer stinky*

      I also wanted to put in my thanks to the people that answered Loopy’s questions about body odor. I have had bad menopause body odor for years. Someone mentioned that it may be a bacterial issue. I started using Hibiclens (antibacterial wash) on my armpits and it is a game changer! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    7. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Plane/car ride tip: create a “seat bag” that’s small enough you can put it down by your feet where you’re sitting. You want it to have everything you might need or want while travelling. Wallet/purse, phone (if it’s not in your pocket), charging cable/plug, portable battery charger, headphones, book, ziplock bag(s) of snacks, napkins/tissues, any medicines you might need, gloves, glasses, water bottle/tea/coffee/etc, sanitary products, map, tickets. Then you don’t need to worry about digging through your other luggage to find something you want right now.

      Airport tip: find a large travel mug that seals really really well (I recommend contigo, once it’s closed properly I can throw it in a bag upside down and shake it a bunch without losing a drop). Bring it through security empty. Most airports have bottle filling fountains, once you’ve passed security you can fill it. If you want tea, bring tea bags (in a ziplock or box) and a spoon and sugar. Most coffee shops will fill your mug with hot water if you ask politely, and you can make it to your taste.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        I am not much of a traveler, but did fly over the holidays. A very nice TSA agent told me that I could bring solid ice cubes through TSA as long as they were not melted. Easy enough, drink the melt out of my flask! I was so very happy.
        Also, I am sure that will change by the time I go through TSA again. ;)

    8. Travel much?*

      There are so many fun & helpful minimalist women packing videos. Grain of salt bc some of them are too minimalist. Like, I tried just 2 pairs of pants & it’s not enough. If you check a bag make sure you have in your carry-on: a change of clothes, toiletries, medications & anything else in case airline looses your bag. Use an e-reader loaded with tons of books instead of paperback books.

      To save toiletry space: tooth powder instead of toothpaste that takes up room in your liquid/gels bag. Scrape some stick deodorant into a small container like the Nordstrom makeup sample screw jars. Saves so much space instead of the whole stick & you can apply with your finger. SMALL containers of face lotions & other toiletries. Buy sunscreen there.

    9. Public Health Nerd*

      Laundromats with drop off service was awesome for a 10 day trip from US to Europe, and not very expensive. It meant that we could pack in carry on size backpacks and also have enough variety in clothes to cover the different weather. We would drop off the load in the morning, go do stuff during the day, and pick it up on the way back to the hotel.

    10. Koala dreams*

      Put some underwear and a toothbrush in your pockets or your carry-on bag in case your checked in bag gets delayed. If you have a big carry-on bag, put the most necessary things in an easy to reach place in case the plane will run out of space for carry-ons and you have to check the bag.

      If packing shoes, make sure to use the space inside the shoes too.

      If you are planning to walk a lot, bring plasters for your feet.

    11. SaltedChocolateChip*

      I’ve done 10 days with hiking boots and raincoat/layers with just a large (two big pocket) regular backpack before — you can do this! My best tip is if you have a thin daypack, too, pack that with some of the stuff you might want easier access to on the plane. Then, when you’re in your seat, slide the daypack out of the other pack — you should then be able to fit both under the seat in front of you easily and you can get your plane items out much more easily. And the daypack comes in handy for any outings during the trip.

      For the library book — see if it’s available in e-book from your library and get the Libby app for your phone or tablet! I love real books too but I can’t tell you happy I am every time a notification pops up that one of my holds has come in and I get to read it *right now*.

  12. Loopy*

    Hope it’s okay to post two questions in a row- this one is quite different. I saw a friend post a book called Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price. The idea of the book (which I recommend looking up as the online description is far better than what I would paraphrase!) really spoke to me, but so many books along these lines I’ve picked up just don’t quite acknowledge the realities of life. I am usually frustrated with some disconnect that keeps me from applying it to my own life (some real life unmovable barrier that self help books don’t acknowledge or gloss over).

    Has anyone read this? I really want to but curious if folks felt the book was actually something they could apply as someone living in the US?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s a reasonable concept; productivity pressure is a real thing (if anybody reads Carolyn Hax, there was a letter writer who got super sucked in and almost lost his marriage over it). But I’m looking at the Amazon listing and, as a book reviewer myself, laughing at at least one of the review quotes they used. When you’re pulling out “It’s an accessible read,” that strongly suggests the rest of the review didn’t think much of the book.

      1. WellRed*

        Omg. What does accessible even mean in this context? Drives me crazy though maybe slightly less so than interactive, which it seems to be replacing as the marketspeak word du jour.

        1. fposte*

          I use “accessible” a fair bit as a book reviewer, though admittedly I was talking about books for youth; it usually means that the concept/theme/narrative would be graspable by less skilled readers, so my guess is that’s what was meant there. But if that’s the only good thing you could pull out of my review, it wasn’t a rave.

          1. WellRed*

            Our marketing dept recently used it as a descriptor for a package of articles to entice our subscribers and it annoyed me. Especially since I put together the package!

            1. fposte*

              Heh. Yes, it’s not a word I think of as enticing. It’s more akin to a restaurant review that calls the food “palatable.”

          2. Fae Kamen*

            I usually read it as praise, to suggest that the topic could otherwise be difficult and that this author has exercised a skill in articulating it clearly.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I haven’t read the book, but I was curious so I read the NPR interview with Devon Price (I will link in a follow-up comment). Price does say:

      Most of us don’t have that ultimate freedom to walk away from things that are exhausting to us and just work at a much slower pace.

      Based on that single sentence, it looks to me that he does acknowledge that his advice can be difficult or impossible to implement at times.

      I did particularly like this paragraph:

      I think laziness really is this canary in a coal mine kind of emotion that tells us when our values are out of step with our actual lives. A lot of times we pour so much energy into being impressive at work, satisfying all the demands of our friends and family and just trying to overachieve in every possible way that we don’t really listen to that inner voice that tells us, “Here’s what matters most to me in my life. Here’s what I really believe in and value. And here’s how I really would live if I wasn’t just setting out to satisfy other people.”

      I do periodically take stock of how I am living my life and how I want to live my life. Usually, there’s a disconnect between the things I value and what I’m spending my time and energy on, so then I make adjustments big or small until I feel like I’m in a better place.

    3. Swift*

      I read it, and I thought it was great. It’s more scholarly than most other self-help books I’ve read. Very thoughtful, too. It’s been several months so I don’t remember the specifics, but it felt like it was speaking to actual issues and not just hyping the reader up. So yeah, I would recommend it, and I should probably reread it, thanks for the reminder.

    4. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Thanks for the recommendation! I looked this book up and just ordered my copy. I have been feeling “lazy” for quite some time. I hope this book will provide some insight into what is going on in my brain.

    5. doesn't comment often*

      I’ve read this book, and while the concept was appealing, I found it to be a disappointing read. It felt that many of the examples in the book were anecdotal (“I know about this because some of my friends and people I know have experienced it”) and pretty thin.

    6. Rebecca Stewart*

      I read it. I tend to agree with him. I am applying it, but by applying I mean I’m working to unpick the idea that if every single thing I do isn’t productive in some way I’m a massive slacker. (It’s okay to read here cause I learn things about the work world. It’s okay to stream podcasts on science while I fold laundry. It’s so not okay to spend the day videogaming even if my foot arthritis is flaring and I was out with people yesterday and my autistic self needs to take the weight off and recharge quietly in private.) This is stuff that I need to unpick for myself before I can really start trying to help others with it.

    7. Frankie Bergstein*

      I absolutely loved this book and felt so validated by it! It’s part of the reason I’m nursing burnout by relaxing on the couch this Sunday instead of stampeding through my to-do list.

  13. Dog Help Sought-Update*

    I was looking for advice about rehoming a friend’s 2-year-old husky dog, Ava, a couple of weeks ago. An update: new home has been found for her! Someone I know saw my post on Nextdoor and expressed interest. He has another husky (Stella) the same age who would benefit from a companion, a large yard with tall fencing, familiarity with the breed and typical issues (running, escaping, digging, high energy), a family that’s on board with having another dog, and intention to take both dogs to training classes this spring.

    I used much of the advice from experienced posters here, thank you all! (Also adapted “hiring” practices learned here on AAM.) We didn’t use a foster or rescue agency although that would have been the next step. She didn’t really need a temporary foster placement since my friend could keep her until we found the right place. I looked up application questions for other agencies and used them as a basis for a phone screening interview. Then we arranged home visit meet and greets with potential placements. One had insufficient fencing and young children who seemed overly aggressive with the dog. Another had an older husky who seemed a likely match but younger dog energy seemed overtaxing for him.

    Both Ava and her new dog sister, Stella, seem very happy with the arrangement. Ava loves to run with other dogs at the park but when she’s been alone in her own yard, she doesn’t play and run off as much energy by herself. Stella is similar. After their first home visit, both dogs slept for hours because they had played so hard together. These dogs seem to need to have a “pack” to fit into and it looks like they will fit the bill for each other.

    The new dog person was my contractor last year who renovated my bathroom. He had met Ava before when my friend brought her along on a visit. It’s interesting that a combination of tech (social media) and IRL relationships ultimately found a new place for Ava. I feel more confident that this will work out since I am more familiar with this person than I would be with just an interview.

    Now I have another old friend who wants to pursue her “life long dream” of getting a golden retriever puppy. I think it’s completely irresponsible when we’re too old to get a puppy, too disabled to properly care for a dog, and can’t afford it. (How do you even get a golden retriever puppy?) I feel bad that I didn’t push back more on my husky-rehoming friend a year ago when she decided to adopt Ava. Now I wonder how much to push back on my golden-dreaming friend. We’re all adults and I don’t have standing to put my foot down on other people’s life decisions… but I really don’t want to be helping rehome a one-year-old retriever a year from now either. Any advice?

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      I’d tell her, once, “sounds hard, so be very sure—I just had to help rehome a young dog and it stunk.” As you say she’s an adult so it’s her call, and it’s not cheap to get a golden retriever puppy so it might not happen.

      You also don’t have to be responsible for it if your friend does get a dog and does need to give it up. Shelters will not find it difficult to adopt out a young golden retriever.

      1. Observer*

        I’d tell her, once, “sounds hard, so be very sure—I just had to help rehome a young dog and it stunk.”

        This is exactly what I was thinking. It’s hard to push back, but you’re sharing a very recent and real experience which does shift things.

    2. Forensic13*

      Ask them why they want a puppy, specifically? There are so many older dogs up for adoption, and they are SO much easier to take care of. Then they can still get a retriever or mix thereof and have the experience, while making sure that they and the dog mesh with each other.

      1. anonymouse for this*

        I’ve always wanted a puppy. Then my friend rescued a stray puppy – possibly the mother was run over as it was found close to the highway. And I realized how much hard work it is. The puppy is lovely but it chewed everything and because it’s so young it hadn’t been socialized as much. The first couple of months have been exhausting. Now I’m leaning towards an older dog when I’m in a position to adopt a dog.

        1. AnonNTA*

          It gets better. Stick with the little one. :) We just survived two puppy phases. We adopted one of them at 5 weeks (mom abandoned and would not feed) and he was completely awful until, one day, at 8 months, he was suddenly potty trained, calm, and no longer eating everything (…except the TV remote; we need to hide that still). He is nearly 3 years old and I’m so happy we had him from an early age and was able to train him into the wonderful dog he is now. The Lab we adopted at 8 months, is almost 2 years now, and is still fully of puppy energy, but she’s been through a lot of trauma.

          1. AnonNTA*

            But I’ll add to that after reading more upthread about adopting older dogs instead of puppies…our first dog (Lab) was 4 years old when we got him, and our most beloved years with him were when he was 6-10 years old. He died at 10.5 years. After he died, I wanted to adopt a 7-year-old dog I saw online at the no-kill shelter, but my SO wanted a puppy. At the end of it, I’m happy with our dogs, but I would absolutely no question adopt an older dog again next time. The only caveat is that the puppy Lab we adopted would absolutely have been put down by the owners who were desperately trying to get rid of her. They were one day from going to the kill shelter, and she was a trainwreck in terms of behavior (because of them). I have no doubt that she would have been in and out and then down.

            1. anonymouse for this*

              My friend is keeping the puppy :0) We live abroad and she’s just finished her contract and so she’s taking her home with her and then will have the summer to spend with her and a trainer. So she’s currently running around sorting out vaccinations etc.

            2. Sloan Kittering*

              I just adopted a six year old dog and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Puppies are cute for about five minutes, but they’re completely exhausting. That’s twelve months of drama right there. If I had the urge to get a baby animal, kittens are so cute but a lot easier, and there’s no shortage of them come spring.

    3. Swisa*

      That’s so great about Ava!

      You say that “we’re” too old/disabled/not enough funds to get a puppy. Do you have an intimate knowledge of your friend to be sure of that? It seems like a stretch, unless you’re this person’s partner.

      I think it’s fine to ask a few questions, like their plans for potty training, exercise, vet care ($$(, etc, and even to mention the Ava situation, but if they still seem set on it, I’d let it be.

      1. Dog Help Sought-Update*

        Yes, I do, having been involved in their efforts to find housing, get SSDI, etc., over the last couple of years. I exaggerate saying “we’re” disabled… I am ambulatory but with an osteoporosis diagnosis I’m reluctant to get knocked down since I would likely break something. This friend is barely ambulatory, better on good days but some days barely out of bed. She could not take a dog for a walk. The age thing is more of an opinion but I don’t think it’s good to take in an animal with a life expectancy longer than your own, without some solid backup plan for the animal.

        You are correct that I should probably not push on this, and let reality take its course. Thanks!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Oof. Yeah, the ambulatory thing is huge with most dog breeds, and certainly with a golden retriever. I like Purt’s suggestion to bring it up once, using rehoming Ava as a personal example.

        2. Sloan Kittering*

          Oh man that’s so tough, almost any dog, even a senior dog, will probably want walks. And you can pay a dog walker but that’s money coming out of the budget. I totally sympathize with the pain of a life long dream that never quite happened.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Is she mobile enough to be a dog sitter? My mother loved her occasional chance to have a dog in the house again with no long-term commitment by letting us children & grandchildren know that she’d take a housebroken dog while we went on vacation. As she got older, she shortened it to long weekends.

          1. I take tea*

            This is a good idea! I know of a couple of elderly persons who look after dogs during the day, when the owner is at work. The walk them a bit, but mostly it is company for both, and the owner takes care of long runs and all other stuff.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I knew a young/old pair of neighbors who got a dog this way–one was around during the day for company, one was up for a good walk morning and evening.

          2. Observer*

            If days where she can barely get out of bed happen on a fairly frequent basis, I can’t see that being an option.

    4. Ali G*

      I am so happy for your friend and Ava! It sounds like you found a great place for her.
      Maybe suggest your other friend talk to the friend that had to rehome her dog about the realities of getting a puppy. If your friend has never had a dog before, they are probably wildly underestimating the expense, work and commitment.

    5. WellRed*

      Love the update! If you really want to talk your friend down from the golden puppy, maybe use the husky experience. I love my friend’s golden pup but she has only had cats and I think had she known the amount of work…(she’s and fit, but it’s a lot).

    6. Workerbee*

      In cases like these, where the type of animal wanted is not the type who would thrive—not just survive—in the environment, I speak from the animal’s perspective, as it were, to the well-meaning person. Here you’ve got a being who will be completely dependent on a big brained, big hearted person to do the right thing by him or her 24/7, 365ish days of the year, all life long in all stages of that life.

      Wanting is not enough. Love is not enough. And too many people still think “neglect” and “abuse” just mean things like not feeding properly (“Because of course I would!”) or not physically striking (“I would never hit an animal!”)

      We’re supposed to be the top of the food chain, intelligent lords of creation, so to me, we need to use our brains to recognize what our desires and actions really mean to those we put them upon. Better the animal never comes to a home where you already know he or she will need to be yanked out of one day and go through all that trauma of separation and rehoming, than to sit there and let it happen without even trying to provide an exhaustive list of Why This Isn’t Good For Anybody Involved.

    7. Cj*

      Puppies are hard! My husband and I have had 13 dogs in the 30 years that we have been married. We have had 3 to 5 at a time, all of them rescues or strays that just showed up, and none of them puppies.

      3 years ago we adopted a 7 year old German shepherd. He Is Awesome. His previous parents were 85 and 87 years old, and one of them had a stroke. His adoption fee was only $100, because he had just been to the vet and was current on all his shots, so the shelter didn’t have to invest a lot of money in his care. I’ve never priced what a purebred German Shepherd puppy would cost, because I’m not interested in buying one, but I imagine it would have been a lot of money, plus you would have had the initial costs that a puppy requires.

      If your friend has their heart set on a golden retriever, at least try to talk them out of getting a puppy. There are breed rescues where they could find an older Golden Retriever. The adoption fees from these rescues can be high, but all of their vet care has been taken care of.

      1. Cj*

        Out of curiosity I just Googled how much a German Shepherd puppy cost. I only looked at one breeders site, but they are over $3,000. Apparently the average golden retriever sells for 900 to $1,300. Do you have all your puppy vaccinations, getting them fixed, because please don’t breed them, excetera.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Might your friend be convinced to try a senior dog instead of a puppy? My mom has been a lifelong animal lover, and now that she has reached a stage in life where she can’t really keep up with a young pet, she’s been fostering seniors for her local shelter. They don’t require much, just love and basic care. The one she has now walks to the mailbox and back each day, and that’s enough exercise for both of them!
      Mom said it’s hard to say goodbye so often (sadly, most are not adopted) but she finds it rewarding to give them a good life for the time they have. Because she’s a foster, the dogs’ medical care and a stipend for food is provided by the shelter, so it makes it affordable for her to have them. It’s really a win for everyone.

    9. RagingADHD*

      If she brings it up, tell the Ava story and ask some clarifying questions about the realities of dog ownership.

      If she wants your help with stuff she can’t do, don’t volunteer and say no if asked.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Having read your comment about the friend being unable to walk and frequently bedridden, is this a fantasy of hers or an actual plan?

        You don’t have to rain on her parade if thinking and talking about a puppy just makes her happy. But you also don’t need to help her get one or figure out how to make it happen.

        1. Washi*

          I wondered this too. You say you’ve helped her find housing and get SSDI so you probably have a pretty good idea of what she’s able to do on her own. Obviously getting a puppy isn’t the same level of intensity as applying for SSDI, but it’s not like you just order one off Amazon either.

          I have friends who talk about making a documentary, or taking a year off to travel, or various other things that are certainly acheivable but seem likely at this point to stay as fun daydreams.

    1. Pumpernickel Princess*

      Probably not what you’re looking for but I’ve been very interested in buckwheat pillows and mattresses for a while now. They’re supposed to be hypoallergenic and good ergonomically, although a bit noisy and expensive.

      I’m not sure of the brand, but I asked a chiropractor for a pillow recommendation a few years ago and LOVE mine. It’s a huge memory foam pillow and so comfortable that I can’t sleep on anything else.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      We now have a variety of Tempurpedic pillows. I like the memory foam, and you can try them out in the store.

      Mixed in with softer pillows from Target–again, being able to pick the best one by feel was big to me.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Should note some of the Tempurpedics have a cooling gel layer which my husband liked in theory but found too heavy in practice.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      I love my original purple pillow! My boyfriend has the purple harmony pillow and he loves that one too. Check out Freakin Reviews on YouTube. He does a fair amount of pillow reviews and they’re pretty in depth

      1. Chaordic One*

        They are becoming a bit hard to find. IMHO the man who runs the company is a horrible person (an opinion shared by many other people). Many stores are now refusing to carry “MyPillow.” OTOH, as a result, there are now a lot of “MyPillows” on sale at various outlet stores at significantly discounted prices.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          One Fresh Pillow is an excellent sedition-free alternative ;) The firmness is different on each side, with one side designed for side sleeping and the other for back sleeping.

    4. Bluey Christine Heeler*

      I have Malouf gel dough pillow. I find it’s supportive enough for side sleeping without being too big for sleeping on my back.

    5. Sundial*

      Depending on your price range, Sleep Number pillows are a treasure. I splurged as a gift for my insomniac husband, and he swears it makes a difference. He has the TrueTemp Ultimate.

    6. Pippa K*

      For side sleepers I can strongly recommend this (full name so you can google it): Sleep Innovations Versacurve Multi-Position Curved Memory Foam Pillow.

    7. ronda*

      I just got a big u shaped pregnancy pillow and rather like it. I saw one reviewer said they added extra stuffing (shredded memory foam) and I might do that. I like side support no matter which way I turn. It does take up a lot of room on the bed. The filling is not memory foam but pretty good for now.

      I also got a camping sized memory foam pillow and a square memory foam pillow(for side sleeping) I like them pretty well. small enough to just support the head. the target regular pillows were getting too flat and not enough support.

      I tried buckwheat, it was way too hard for me. I tried a water filled pillow, it was way to heavy for me.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a fan of feather pillows. IKEA has a wide range, and they last ridiculously long. Don’t believe the people who say you can’t wash them yourself. Yes it works best in a front loader, but if you put two in at once for balance you can even use a top loader. The trick is drying them extremely well. I wash & dry them with an old sneaker. The sneaker goes right into the dryer with them. (Dryer balls are not heavy enough.)
      I also get over cautious and leave them in a hot sunny window or next to the furnace for a few days.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ll also point out that feather is natural material, and all those foams are from a nonrenewable resource.

    9. Alex*

      This is such a subjective thing, but I recently purchased some relatively cheap shredded memory foam pillows on amazon and have been very pleased. I like them because you can change the firmness. The brand was ASHOMELI and they were $40 for two. I like them better than some more expensive pillows I have.

    10. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      My sleepy brain somehow read this as “bad pillow recommendations”. Ha! I was going to say, don’t use your cat as a pillow.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      Just was at a hotel and they had WONDERFUL pillows! The Sahara Nights by Sobel Westex (yes, we loved them so much we took the pillowcases off to check out the label) We are currently scoping them out online.

  14. Alice*

    Still trying to buy a flat. No joy with the place I saw today, it was beautiful but had one major flaw that is a dealbreaker for me. It’s hard because I want to buy in a specific small area that’s very pricey, so that limits my options. I need to compromise on something — either look a little further away or expand my budget. Anyone else house hunting and wants to commiserate with me?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I started looking in April last year, thinking we’d be moved into a house by the end of summer. Looked at over 30 places, made several offers, and now I think we’ll be in this apartment forever :( We’re in a very competitive HCOL area and barely anything meeting our criteria has been listed since October! I’m not even excited for a house anymore, just desperate to get out of our current place that we kind of settled for on the assumption it was temporary.

    2. Golden French Fry*

      We’re kind of house hunting in a pricey area as well. I love our current apartment but we got it during COVID rates, and I doubt we’ll be able to renew the lease for anywhere close in rent.

      Some of my favorite houses we’ve seen are in districts with poorly rated schools (I’m currently pregnant so its not an immediate concern, but I don’t want it to be a problem if/when we want to sell the house). And some houses in our budget would take a bit more work than I’m able to finance right now. There’s so much that goes into house hunting – I totally feel you in having to compromise!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Look into why they’re poorly rated before writing them off. If you look at places like GreatSchool their rating is almost entirely standardized test scores, which tells you nothing about safety, culture, or teacher quality. I like Niche because it accounts for more factors and is more transparent about how they determine their scores.

        If the whole district is known to be bad, that’s probably true, but if it’s one low-scoring school in a decent district it’s often something like having a bigger ESL population whose test scores are affected by language barriers.

        1. Golden French Fry*

          Thank you. I have looked into it beyond the scores, and unfortunately I keep seeing reviews about apathy from administration regarding bullying, physical fighting, and weapons being brought to school.

          We’ll probably move well before my kid enters middle school, and my husband and I could probably supplement against any academic gaps until then. So I’m not sure what we’ll do. I was bullied starting in kindergarten, so seeing in the reviews over and over that the admin doesn’t address it sets me on edge a bit.

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            Oh yikes, yeah that’s a whole different problem. I live in a great district and I often see parents being like “why is this school so bad? I can’t send my darling there!” based on almost no information so my impulse is always to question what gives someone that impression :)

    3. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I’m exactly in your shoes – the area I’m looking at is small, but it’s also very desirable and very competitive so who knows what will happen. I could do a few tradeoffs and compromise but I’m not sure if I’m ready for that as looking further away means a longer commute to the office and my commute is already about an hour each way. (Looking closer to the office means I’d need a bigger budget or sacrificing square footage.)

      I’m also in a high COL area too where my single income isn’t good enough and it is frustrating. I was commiserating with a friend about it and we think there should be some kind of dating app that matches single people based on their house-wants list so they can get married for the home benefit.

    4. Filosofickle*

      Oh my god yes. It’s SO hard. Just a few months ago it was a uncomfortable stretch but doable, but there was a winter surge in pricing where I am (already one of the top real estate markets in the world) plus interest rates have gone up. It’s still going to be possible but will involve even more compromises — I was already barely willing to move to an area I didn’t love but was targeting very specific spots within that city so it still felt good to me. I will definitely have to give that up or go even farther AND expand my budget now. And maybe take on more repairs, too! It’s so so hard. It doesn’t feel smart to stretch myself this far financially, but there’s also no reason to expect prices to come down so what’s my alternative? Housing will just be even higher here in a few years. My rent goes up every year, too.

    5. Alexis Rosay*

      All I can say is, compromise isn’t always bad. My husband and I bought in an area very far off the trendy/cute/desirable areas of our HCOL city that we originally wanted to stay in…and now I really love where we live and don’t want to go back to living in those areas. The house definitely has its pluses and minuses, but it feels like home.

  15. Swisa*

    Any tips to get through a busy and uncertain (but not bad) season?

    My husband is going through a dramatic job change (will hopefully be good, with a raise and better working conditions, just not sure of the specifics of the transition), so we’ve been staying up late interview prepping, readying the resume (using Alison’s book!), etc. We’re at the peak of a time sensitive hobby (think beer that’s ready to be bottled), the in laws are coming over, and we have family obligations for the next couple weekends after that. The preschooler is busy being a preschooler, and we have to get a (relatively small) amount of valentine’s ready for his class. And this is my busy season at work.

    I feel a bit like my head might explode – no rest for the weary right now. Any tips of getting through the slog of the next few weeks is appreciated!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m going to pull out the preschool Valentines as something to make sure happens this weekend. This one-off special-school-day celebration stuff can be big to some kids. And sometimes you don’t know who cares and how much until you’re in the classroom observing.

      1. Swisa*

        Yeah it’s definitely all going to get done! It’s more about figuring out stamina. My son is super excited about his celebration and I want to support that.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have a friend who has visitors all the time. It’s to the point that she can barely live life. It might be time to start saying no to company, at least for a bit. If you know then end is in sight regarding the parade of company, that might help.

      The other thing I like to look at is the concept of doubling up. Would an inlaw help your kiddo with their Valentines stuff while you do something else? OTOH, would a family member be willing to help bottle beer? Nothing to make a habit of for sure as it is free labor, but maybe one time to help move though a tight spot?

      1. Swisa*

        We actually really rarely have company, with covid. This was unfortunately just a stars aligning situation.
        We had already planned a day trip this month see my brother and exchange Christmas gifts (we didn’t want to see them in January because of omicron). And then my uncle randomly invited us down to stay with them on a different weekend, when we haven’t seen them since January 2019, and it can only be this month due to it being the only month their Airbnb is available. And the in laws was just a last minute day thing that was rescheduled from a previous week.
        So- all good things, but just trying to figure out stamina. Actually currently in the bath, now that the in law visit is done, so enjoying a break ;).

      2. Swisa*

        And agree about looking to the end of things. I think things will be much chiller a month from now! It does help.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      I’m in one of those seasons right now. I keep reminding myself that I’ll get through this because I have before. Also, while I know things will be amazing in June, I am looking at short-term accomplishments and celebrating them when I get there. For me the sad part is that all of the extra stuff is eating into my exercise time!

      1. Swisa*

        Thank you!!! I like the short term accomplishment thing. I think that will help. Good luck with your busy season!!!

    4. WellRed*

      Stop staying up late to interview and resume prep. There’s only such much that helps. Pull back on family obligations if you can or yes, have in-laws help with (store bought) valentines.

      1. Swisa*

        Thankfully the job stuff, at least our part, is over (just sent thank you emails). It was a lot of stuff that had to get done, like my husband’s resume hadn’t been updated for a few years, and a company asked for a copy. Just stuff that had to be cranked through.

        It was hard to find easy Valentine’s available for pickup, but I was able to get to a drugstore yesterday and got some simple ones that we need to address.

        The family stuff is all good, just busy.

        But I’m about to take a break for an hour or so with a book, and looking forward to that!

  16. Dwight Schrute*

    Any tips for camping in cooler weather? I’ll be tent camping next weekend with two of my dogs. The nighttime temp will be in the 30s and day time will be in the 50s. I have bought a set of long underwear, hand warmers, hot water bottles, and plan to take a lot of blankets. Anything I’m missing?

    1. Pumpernickel Princess*

      Are you using just blankets for sleeping or will you bring a sleeping bag? I usually wear a hat or hood when it gets cold at night to keep my head warm.

      What’s your sleeping pad/mattress situation? Having lots of warm insulation underneath you will keep the cold ground from stealing your warmth at night. Cheap foam roll-up pads are great for this! Maybe you are already aware but this was definitely a learning curve for me when I started cooler weather camping.

      Have fun!!!

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Thank you! Yes I have a queen size sleeping bag I’m planning on putting into the mix and I’ll be on a queen size air mattress

        1. Generic Name*

          If it’s just you in the sleeping bag, you will freeze. A down mummy bag for 1 person would be warmer. Also, the air mattress will make you cold as well. The air in it will be the same as the surrounding air, and will make you colder. A closed cell foam pad would be warmer. You could put it on top of the air mattress so you don’t sacrifice comfort.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Yep, I have slept on an air mattress in cold weather and it does NOTHING to keep you warm. You will need as many blankets underneath you as you need on top of you. Roll up in them like a burrito. I had probably at least 6 good blankets and was rolled up in them so just my mouth stuck out and that was enough. And this was merely unheated indoors.

            The more air you have in your sleeping bag with you, the colder you will be. Bigger is not better, as long as it fits.

            Will the dogs snuggle up with you under the covers? That will help.

            A hot water bottle for the feet is amazing at helping them keep warm.

            1. Dwight Schrute*

              I think they Will and both are pretty big! One is 55 lbs and the other is about 70lbs, so hopefully between both of them and two hot water bottles I’ll be ok

        2. DinosaurWrangler*

          Air mattresses are colder to sleep on because the air cools off quickly. You need to put an insulating layer (like a closed cell foam pad) between your sleeping bag and the air mattress. Even a space blanket will help.

          Also, bigger tents are colder than smaller tents – more air to heat.

          Long underwear is a good idea if you put it under polartec pants and top. Also socks and a hat.

          And a hint from old Girl Scout lore- don’t go to sleep in the same clothing you’ve worn all day. The layer next to your skin will have moisture from perspiration, and even if you don’t feel damp, the sweat will evaporate and make you cold, typically you’ll feel the effect around 3 a.m.

          1. Washi*

            Is this definitely true? Everything I’ve ever read about sleeping pads is that inflatable is warmer than foam. Is it different if it’s a mattress, not a sleeping pad?

            Also to me, nighttime lows in the 30s is…not that cold. I’ve backpacked in similar temps with just a foam sleeping pad and appropriately rated sleeping bag and been fine. Adding some extra blankets on top of that seems more than adequate to me!

            1. GOGO*

              Most backpacking air mattresses are also insulated. Even the simplest ones have some sort of R value rating (higher value = more insulation).

              I’m reading “queen size air mattress” to be a Coleman inflatable or something similar. Those have no insulation and will suck up all the cold from the ground. I’ve slept on one of those at around those temps with a low-temp rated sleeping bag and was still freezing. We’ve since switched to an insulated mattress with an R value around 6 and it’s much warmer.

        3. Rebecca Stewart*

          Get a space blanket…one of those mylar things…. and lay it down between the air mattress and your sleeping bag. That will keep it from stealing your heat.

      2. Girasol*

        I’d want an insulating mattress between me and the cold ground: closed cell foam (like Ridgerest or Ensolite) or inflatable foam (like Thermarest.) Even a thin one makes a world of difference. A cushioning mattress (air mattress or thick open celled foam) is helpful against pointy rocks but those don’t insulate, so you’ll still want an insulating pad underneath. A big warm stocking cap for sleeping is helpful if the sleeping bag doesn’t have a hood.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      How big and what style is your tent? A smaller tent will retain your body warmth better, but will also be harder to get in and out of while staying completely dry. We have a 2-man hiking tent that’s been plenty warm with extra floor insulation and a couple of extra blankets on top in down to -2C, however getting up early morning or during the night for a bathroom break and trying to shimmy out without brushing past the icy-dew exterior tent flaps is almost impossible.

      Thing that always gets me is trying to wedge my socked foot into my sneakers with frozen fingers while awkwardly crabbing out the entrance, so I recommend a shoe or rubber boot that easily slides on for that. I’ve also bought cheap holed rubber mats for the entrance to keep wet grass and dirt down and they’re well worth it.

    3. WellRed*

      Is your sleeping bag rated for cold weather? Your clothing? How warm are your boots? Do you have hot food and beverage to prepare to warm and nourish?

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Yes warm food will be taken care of! Lunch and dinner will be provided at the event so no worries there. My boots are winter ll bean boots so they should be plenty warm!

    4. crookedglasses*

      I always use toe warmers overnight when I’m camping in cold weather. They make a huge difference for me! It sounds like you’re able to haul in stuff without too much trouble, so don’t be shy about bringing foam or thick blankets to go under you as well as over you. Have fun!

    5. Sloan Kittering*

      Growing up we did a lot of ice camping. One old campers’ trick is to use the heated rocks from around the fire ring, carefully wrapped in newspaper. I’m sure it’s a bit of a fire risk (we often found the inner papers scorched) but man, putting the hot rock next to you or down at your feet was amazing. Maybe there’s a safer modern version of this.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      Have a great time!

      You want to avoid clothing made of cotton. It absorbs sweat and doesn’t dry and you’ll be chilled with that against your skin, even if you pile warm layers on top of it. Go for a wicking synthetic layer against your skin. Also, don’t forget to bring thermal bottoms and not just tops.

      For sleeping, thick wool or fleece socks keep your feet warm, separate ones that you haven’t worn all day. A warm hat is important. If you’re like me and roll around a lot in your sleep, it’s helpful to get a hat that ties under your chin so it doesn’t fall off in the middle of the night, or a balaclava.

      You mention being in a six-person tent. With that much space, the heat created by you and your dogs won’t warm it up at all. The temperature will be comparable to the outside air. As others have pointed out, an air mattress designed for an indoor space is not suitable for camping and you’ll be really cold all night. The warmest option is an inflatable camping mattress that also includes foam, designed specifically for this use to insulate you from the cold ground.

      A snack before bed also is a big help to give your body the fuel to stay warm.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Came here to mention the cotton thing. Basically, if you’re going to be in cold weather, it’s wool or synthetics. Cotton Kills.

    7. Anono-me*

      Put tomorrow’s clothes in your sleeping bag at night, then change in the bag in the morning.

      Take some big chemical thermo patches with you. They are available at most drugstores. (You can get reusable big chemical thermo patches online if you have time.)

      Consider coats, boots, and extra food for the dogs if they are not already outside all of the time in similar conditions.

      Have fun.

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      Thank you everyone! I got a foam pad for the bed yesterday and I also have fleece neck gaitors and fleece lined slippers I can sleep in.

    9. just another bureaucrat*

      Go pee before bed, getting up in the middle of the night when it’s cold is really hard. If you do have to don’t just leave your blankets/sleeping bag folded back, fold them over to hold the heat as best you can especially if it’s a long walk.

      Wear your heavy duty wool socks to bed, I strong vote to put on the fresh pair before bed, not in the morning. And have an extra pair to wear on your hands if you get cold.

      Sounds like others have addressed the ground sucking the heat from you issue.

    10. Techie*

      Hi,
      Not sure if others have mentioned, but you’ll definitely need a sleeping pad with at least a 4.0 rating (in 30 degrees, basic air mattress won’t cut it), in fact, you may want to double up on a foam pad plus an inflatable. It’s also worth noting that those temp ratings you see on sleeping bags are measured assuming both a 4+ R sleep pad AND a person wearing a decent base layer (usually mid-weight merino). Also, it’s really important to stay dry, especially if your sleeping bag is down. A cheap fleece blanket on the floor of your tent is also great (and will protect it from sharp doggie nails). Dogs will similarly need sleeping pads & a good blanket/sleeping bag – their own or sharing yours. If you have a subscription to outside mag, check out Wes Siler. He has a ton of great camping advice.

    11. Ranon*

      Piece of rigid insulation to sit on does worlds to keep you warm in non tent circumstances (pink or blue tends to shed the least, at least an inch thick, 1.5+ better)

  17. Petirrojo*

    I’m seeking reading recommendations for a book club! My wife and I are two queer women in a book club with a few straight women. After about a year and a half un the club, we are very, very very tired of reading books that center heterosexual relationships in this club. So I’m seeking recs of books that would be good for a book club and that are either queer or that dedicate very little space to romance/relationships. Any ideas?!?

    1. Petirrojo*

      I should add that we read the books in Spanish, so a published Spanish translation would be necessary for the club. But I’m also interested in any potential recs without such translations for myself!!

    2. Jen*

      What about the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? It’s a recent prominent book, I checked and it was translated into Spanish. And despite the title it does have a focus on a non-heterosexual relationship (trying to be as vague as I can to avoid spoilers).

    3. Llellayena*

      Santa Olivia by Jaqueline Carey and the sequel Saints Astray. It takes a little time to get to the relationship in the first book but the second book it’s basically a central theme.

    4. AY*

      My book club is doing Detransition, Baby this weekend, and it sounds perfect for you! It’s about a trans woman named Amy who then detransitions, going by Ames, and accidentally gets his boss pregnant. There are flashbacks to Amy’s prior relationship with Reese, also a trans woman, and the main action addresses how Reese, Ames, and Ames’s boss deal with the pregnancy. This book is warm, funny, and sharply observed. The author has a great sense of humor.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Trying to focus very much on the book club appropriate side:

      The House on the Cerulean Sea is centered on two gay men. (Who eventually get together, though that is not the primary focus of the book.)

      The Thursday Murder Club is about people in a retirement community. I bring it up here as the relationships that are centered are friendships, old and new. (And investigating murders.) People tend to have lost a spouse, or be in the process of doing that, so while it’s straight people the focus is less on finding that special pair bond and more on the poignancy of slipping toward an end after decades with one person.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Some that I’ve enjoyed:

      THE CITY WE BECAME by N. K. Jemesin: a kind of love-song to the diversity of New York City, including its troubled history as well as the more hopeful aspects, with a fantasy-quest element. I found this one really enjoyable and surprising.

      YA:

      Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series, starting with EVERY HEART A DOORWAY – a diverse cast, including a trans-boy and an asexual protagonist, with riffs on those “gateway to another world” fantasy tales.

      THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END by Adam Silvera – this one’s a tearjerker indeed, but I really loved it; a multi-viewpoint look at a growing friendship between two teenaged boys who know they are going to die within the next 24 hours. [Kind of a weird SF/fantasy plot about this “when you will die” knowledge – makes no sense but serves as an interesting plot-driver.]

      Science fiction:

      MACHINE by Elizabeth Bear – lots of diverse characters (human and alien), with a protagonist who has an ex-wife and child in her background (not part of the main plot but it informs a lot of her choices).

      ASCENSION by Jacqueline Koyanagi – space-opera with a rather desperate mechanic-heroine who finds herself working with a polyamorous and somewhat piratical spaceship crew.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        “They Both Die at the End” is so, so good. It’ll make you cry but it mostly feels like a rom-com.

    7. CatCat*

      I’m not sure if it’s offered in Spanish (maybe… the book is set in a fictional Latin American setting), but “We Set the Dark on Fire” and its sequel “We Unleash the Merciless Storm.” Focus is on two women and revolution in an oppressive society where the upper echelon men have two wives. (It is not ABOUT that marital relationship, the dude is relatively unimportant to the story. It’s really about these two women, societal expectations, and revolutionary forces.)

    8. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t know if any of these have Spanish language translations, but here are my book recs:

      My Brilliant Friend and The Lying Life of Adults by Elana Ferrante: not queer, but beautifully written books that capture what it is like to be a teenage girl.

      Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk: also not queer, but not romance-centered. Part murder mystery, part fairy tale, very good.

      Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst: a young adult book about a princess who is betrothed to a prince, but falls in love with his sister.

      Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: another queer young adult book, but definitely darker than Of Fire and Stars.

      Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: best summed up as “lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!”

      The City We Became by N. K. Jemesin: seconding GoryDetail’s recommendation of this book.

      Outlawed by Anna North: a novel about a gang of women in a slightly alternate reality American Wild West.

      Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: a very good short story collection.

      What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi: another short story selection I enjoyed reading.

      The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister edited by Helena Whitbread: non-fiction, the edited diaries of Anne Lister, a lesbian in 19th century England. There are two volumes, published in English wit the subtitles I Know My Own Heart and No Priest But Love.

      Sophia Parnok: The Life and Work of Russia’s Sappho by Diana Lewis Burgin: non-fiction, a biography of Russian poet Sophia Parnok.

      Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: I have not read this yet, but several people have recommended it to me.

      She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan: I have not read this yet either, but it is on my list.

      I hope at least some of these work for you. Happy reading!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Two more I forgot on my first list:

        The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith: the movie “Carol” was based on this novel about two women falling in love (the book may also be published under the title Carol). I recommend both the book and the movie.

        The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: the main romances are all straight, or course, but one of the minor subplots is definitely queer. Impressive for a book published in the 1840s!

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      “The Once and Future Witches” by Alix E. Harrow – suffragettes and magic! Doesn’t focus much on romance but there’s a major queer character/relationship

    10. NeutralJanet*

      The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily M Danforth – a coming of age story about a 12 year old girl coming to terms with being a lesbian, dealing with the death of her parents, and being sent to a conversion camp

      Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta – about a young girl growing up during the Nigerian Civil War coming to terms with her sexuality

      How We Fight for Our Lives, by Saeed Jones – an achingly beautiful memoir about growing up as a gay black man in Texas in the 1990s

      Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters – set in 1890s, about a young woman who falls in love with a male impersonator and moves to London to be with her – warning that this book does have some sexually explicit scenes, which you may or may not be comfortable discussing in your book club, depending on what the book club culture is like. I also highly recommend Fingersmith by the same author – it’s set in the same time period and is a queer-themed crime novel with lots of twists and turns, but again, may be more sexually explicit than you’re comfortable with for your book club

      1. NeutralJanet*

        Eesh, completely missed the Spanish bit! I know that The Miseducation of Cameron Post has a Spanish translation, and I believe that both of the Sarah Waters books have Spanish translations, but I’m not too sure about the other two – definitely recommend reading both for yourself, though!

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Also Sarah Waters’s *Fingersmith*. I think I see a Spanish translation on Kindle?
        Set in the 1860s, it’s like a Wilkie Collins novel (a total Victorian mind-!@#$@#$) with queer women as the protagonists. Content warning for violence, suicide, mean people, mental asylums, executions, etc. It will keep you up late reading. I’d personally suggest it whether your book club wants to read it or not!

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Oh, I’m sorry, Janet — I should have read your comment more thoroughly, as I now see you also recommended *Fingersmith*. I heartily second it! : )

      3. Lemonwhirl*

        Also, Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth is fantastic. It’s a big book with a lot going on. It tells two interwoven tales that feature a mysterious boarding school in New England. One story is set in the early 1900s, and the other story is about a modern day film crew trying to make a movie of the the story from the 1900s. It’s rich and delicate and so amazingly told. And it’s been translated into Spanish.

    11. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Hunger Pangs: True Love Bites, by Joy Demorra. From her description: “Phangs is a queer-polyamorous-paranormal-satirical-romance series featuring vampires, werewolves, and all other manner of creatures that go bump in the night. It has been described by those who have read it as being, ‘like reading the queer-goth-punk love child of Terry Pratchett meets Jane Austen.'”

      There’s two versions, one includes the sex scenes, and the other is fade-to-black. She’s got lots of ebook options, and paperbacks are available.

      Her site is joydemorra (dot) com

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      Not sure if they are available in Spanish, but two books with queer characters I really enjoyed lately:
      The Great Believers is a wonderful book set during the AIDS epidemic.
      Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, an Iranian-French author who grapples with her past and the history of Iran and life as a queer immigrant.

    13. Not A Grouse*

      I don’t know if it’s got a Spanish translation, but I highly highly recommend Ninefox Gambit (and the whole Machineries of Empire series) by Yoon Ha Lee. SciFi with epic concepts, detailed political intrigue, and awesome worldbuilding. None of the main characters are straight, a number are gender non-conforming, and while there’s no central romance, it shows romances and other relationships as a part of life. The central relationship is more of a coworkers-type relationship. The whole thing is just SO COOL!

    14. Fulana del Tal*

      If you haven’t already read it “Song of Achilles” and it’s also available in Spanish.

    15. PostalMixup*

      It’s may not be a book club rec, because it’s a series, but Ancillary Justice (and sequels) are set in a far future civilization that has no gender. “She” is the only pronoun, people wear whatever they want regardless of biological sex, and relationships occur regardless of biological sex. It’s simply not something anyone cares about. I’m not sure you ever actually learn the biological sex of most of the characters. It looks like it’s been translated into Spanish.

    16. Miel*

      Oh my goodness! Would you like to read about Uruguayan lesbians, in a novel translated by the author herself?

      Cantoras: Una Novela, por Carolina De Robertis

      It is an absolutely beautiful book. It’s about found family and surviving under military dictatorship and art and love and breakups and more love. It follows a group of five friends over several decades, from young adults living under the dictatorship to older adults in near present day.

      That being said:
      1) it is written in rioplatense Spanish, the Uruguay/ Argentina dialect, so some words and verb forms (voseo) might be unfamiliar.
      2) big content warning for violence, homophobia, conversion therapy, rape, and suicide.

    17. Miel*

      Cantoras: Una Novela, por Carolina De Robertis is a beautiful book that follows five friends (all queer women) from their young adulthood under the military dictatorship to the present day. It’s about found family, love, art, and survival, and I loved it. The author translated it to Spanish herself.

      That being said:
      1) it’s written in rioplatense Spanish so some words may be unfamiliar. I wouldn’t expect this to be a dealbreaker for your group, but heads up.
      2) content warning for violence, homophobia, rape, and suicide. The book deals with heavy stuff.

    18. Bluebell*

      Not sure if it is available in translation yet, but I loved Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie. Also second Outlawed by Anna North, and Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey.

    19. Cleo*

      It’s such an exciting time for queer fiction right now! Here are a few that I don’t think have been recommended yet, that I think are book club appropriate. Not sure if they’re all available in Spanish.

      Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers. Coming of age story about a bi-racial lesbian who’s just graduated with her PhD in astronomy, goes to Vegas and wakes up hungover and married to a woman she doesn’t remember meeting. Not the fluffy romance that that description implies. This book got tons of buzz and I thought it mostly lived up to the hype.

      One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston – a young bi woman moves to NY and literally runs into a beautiful butch woman on the train. One of several lesbian time travel novels that have come out recently and one of my favorite. (The very best one is This is How You Lose the Time War but I’m not sure it’d work translated.)

      Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall – like a queer Hugh Grant rom com

      Anything by Leah Thompson – she writes excellent queer YA.

      Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy – YA, about a teenage lesbian who falls for a boy (but stays queer)

      The Seafarers Kiss by Julia Embers – queer retelling / reimagining of the little mermaid, with Vikings. Darker than the cover implies. CW for pregnancy loss.

    20. Alexis Rosay*

      If it’s translated into Spanish, I’d highly recommend Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. It’s about a cis woman, a trans woman, and a detransitioned trans woman who contemplate starting a family as a parenting triad.

    21. Petirrojo*

      Thank you all so much! I’ve looked through all the recommendations I hadn’t read yet, and there are so many great choices! I’ve chosen five that are available in Spanish and that I think the club might like (unfortunately they’re not super fond of fantasy–but I am, so I’m super excited for those recs!) and hopefully one of them works out:

      -Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
      -Under the Udala Trees
      -Song of Achilles
      -This is How You Lose the Time War
      -Cantoras: a Novel

      Thank you all so much!

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Gonna throw out one more idea: Little Eyes by Samantha Schweblen. It’s speculative fiction about social media (very Black Mirror, if that would help sell it to your book club) and the original is in Spanish, so you’d definitely find a translation.

    22. Cher Horowitz*

      Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki – it does not have a Spanish edition yet but it may be coming soon (fingers crossed)

  18. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Ever had a conversation with a close friend along the lines of: “Friend, I love you dearly but you’re being an unreasonable jerk about everything and to everyone right now and you need to sort your shit out if you don’t want to do permanent damage to your relationships.”

    If so, how did it go? Both the conversation and the outcome?

    My instinct and experience is that the healthiest thing (for the relationship and for me) is to take a step back, don’t engage with the jerk behaviour and let them calm down on their own before tentatively reengaging.

    In this instance I also recognise the behaviour as a cry for help and feel utterly crap about not stepping up to support someone so important to me (this isn’t their usual MO). However doing so would also draw a bandwidth I don’t currently have, and, without going into a bunch of detail, the jerk behaviour hits close to home in a way that means I can’t be the unconditionally understanding, sympathetic ear they likely want – so my support would have to come with a conversation like this.

    If it’s someone you don’t have necessary life overlap with (like a partner or family) is the conversation ever worth having?

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      I had a similar conversation with a friend, and it both really ruined our friendship for a while—still hasn’t fully recovered—and sent her to the therapy she really needed.

      If you have this conversation I would suggest keeping it specific and personal to you, and how your friend is treating you.

      “Friend, I’m worried about you and feel like you’re hurting, but jerk behavior 1 and jerk behavior 2 make me very uncomfortable/hurt/on edge.”

      After this, it is helpful I think to ask for what you want them to do, aside from “Just get better now.” Do you want the jerk behavior to stop? Do you want an apology for something they’ve done? Do you want to pull back from the friendship? Do you want them to stop asking for support of their behavior?

      “I’d like an apology.” or, “You don’t need to apologize to me, but I can’t be the one you text after you do jerk behavior 1 anymore.”

      This is a real request, but it also clearly paints a way out of the conflict and into a sturdy friendship again.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Oh this one hits close to home atm. My good friend is having difficulty with her life-long friend. We are talking over 60 years of friendship.

      One suggestion I had is to say, “Jane, you are not sounding like you. What’s up?”

      I see about not wanting to get involved in an on-going problem/situation. And actually this is probably wise.
      This is the part that deserves time and careful consideration before you start the conversation. Figure out what you are willing to do out of respect for the friendship. Be able to state in words what your limits are.
      It’s okay for the list to be random because you need a fair idea of all the different things that you consider reasonable.

      So here’s some of the things on my Reasonable List.
      I will help drive them to random (but not recurring) doctors’ appointments.
      I will not loan money but I will help look for grants, government programs etc that are situation appropriate.
      I will not help solve their problem, but I will help look for a professional relevant to their concern.
      I am not willing to listen to vents, but I am most willing to listen to progress reports. I am good with cheering on any progress.
      I won’t put up with verbal/psychological abuse that is a deal breaker. Stop it or we are done. (Physical abuse including breaking my belongings or endangering my pets is a cold hard stop in the moment it happens. I only need to see this once.)

      Now. If you have read my list and shook your head all the way through it- you might be done right now. Here is something my wise friend showed me: Sometimes we need to get out of the way so REAL help can get in to the matters. We can think we are befriending a person, or we are supporting them by maintaining the friendship and really all we are doing is enabling their problems to persist. We are in the way of attaining real help.

      You would best know what makes sense here. But this could boil down to saying, “Friend, I am not going to be spoken to/treated in this manner. I understand that things are choppy for you. I still want to be your friend, but until you deal with the matters at hand I think it is best that we give each other a bit of space for the time being.”

      This one can go many different ways, it could be a wake-up call or it could be a good-bye to the friendship call or maybe something in between. In the end, you cannot allow yourself to be someone’s punching bag because their life sucks.

    3. fposte*

      Looking at it from a workplace standpoint, it’s too broad and non-actionable; it’s not useful feedback. If you’re going to do it, focus on the “you” part. “I can’t be the audience for your issues with Jane anymore; I don’t agree with you and while I love you as a friend, I can’t support what you’re doing here.” Or “I’ve gotten three texts from you today demanding that I answer; that freaks me out, so I’m going to take a texting break from you. I’ll call you/see you on [Day].”

      Or, looking now upon refresh, I really like Purt’s Peas’ suggestions. The one thing I would differ on is that asking for an apology rarely has the result one hopes, and if you get an eyeroll and an “Okay, fine, I’m sorry,” what do you want to do now?

      1. Anon for this*

        I have a friend who is going through a rough phase. They did something out of line and I asked for an apology. I didn’t want to get into why they behaved that way. So an apology helped. But I also thought carefully before asking for an apology and what I would do with one.

    4. Briefly Anon*

      I wish I had. I didn’t, and I eventually had to draw a firm boundary that ended a 15-year close friendship.

      More recently, my husband was using me as a feelings-dumping ground/pacifier and being really negative and grouchy most of the time, and it was not working well for either of us. I tried the “how can I help” and “what do you need from me” and the answer was…not great (essentially, “I need you to be an unending source of soothing emotional energy without making demands of your own” which like, no.) I love the man dearly and recognize that he isn’t at his best right now, so I framed what I said as, “I love you, I’m so sorry that you aren’t happy right now, here are all the stressors that I recognize are impacting you, and I cannot offer you the kind of emotional support that you need. I can’t manage when you do XYZ, because I have ABC needs.” We both cried and it wasn’t a fun conversation, but after a few similar conversations it got better.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did, about a dozen times in different ways, in person, via email, text/chat, you name it, and nothing changed, even when I explicitly said “If [specific behavior] continues, I will not be able to remain in a friendship with you.” It resulted in me terminating the friendship and … to this day, six years later, they still insist they don’t understand what the problem was and that I just ghosted them and they have no idea why.

    6. Sunflower*

      Can you suggest this person see a therapist? Therapy is not going to fix everything but when people start acting like this when it’s not typical behavior, it’s usually because they’re at some sort of breaking point and may need help- help that friends honestly can’t even provide. I think you calling out the problem as ‘you’re being a jerk’ period is probably not going to end well but if you come at them from a point of compassion, you may have more luck.

      If this friend is generally a kind, understanding person then it’s likely this is what’s happening and it’s not purposely. Doesn’t make it ok but it does make it easier to suggest she step back and sort some stuff out.

      ‘Hey Jane, you aren’t seeming like yourself lately. Is something bugging you?’. Whatever she says, reply along the lines of ‘Yea that seems tough, have you considered talking to someone?’ and share your own experiences.

      1. PT*

        I had a coworker who I used to talk to, who very desperately needed therapy, but obviously you can’t come out and tell your coworker that they need therapy. So I waited until she got on the topic of a relative she has a challenging relationship with, and said “Have you considered seeing a therapist for strategies to deal with Relative? I bet they would have some good suggestions.”

        My logic was, if that got her in the door with a therapist, the therapist would have a better sense of the big picture issues and handle them from there.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve done it twice. The first time, the relationship turned out to be unsalvageable. The second time, things were uncomfortable for a while but we figured out a way to grow together and recover.

      I want to address your line about “you’re being an unreasonable jerk about everything and to everyone.” That’s not going to be a helpful idea to express. I don’t think there’s any way to frame that so your friend won’t take it as a major personal insult, and it’s probably going to be the fastest way to get them to stop listening to you. The key here is to be specific in describing how what they’re doing is affecting you.

      “Friend, I’ve noticed lately that you are [hurtful behavior] more often than you did in the past. When you do that, it makes me feel like [your reaction]. I know that you care about me and that you’re not trying to hurt me on purpose, but it does hurt me and I need [change in behavior].”

      They’re probably going to respond with some level of hurt. And that’s okay. They probably don’t realize that their problem behavior has escalated to this point or that other people are noticing and being hurt by it. It can be a blow to the ego to realize that the way you see yourself doesn’t line up with the way other people experience you. Just keep holding to your boundary. You care about them, but you are not the right audience for them to talk about this/do these things anymore and you need them to treat you in kind and respectful ways.

      I can’t promise it will work. But if you enjoyed having this person in your life before this and you think there’s a way back to a relationship that works for you both, I think it’s worth trying.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Right, I’ve heard that, in difficult statements, “I statements” and avoiding generalizations (meaning don’t say things like, “you never / you always” because it’s just going to derail the real issue) are the way to go. So “you are being a jerk about everything” is the opposite of that advice.

    8. AGD*

      Yes. I don’t regret it – the other person’s behavior had deteriorated badly – but I never really got a response, and the friendship fizzled out, just like that, after 20 years. What helps me is the realization that it wasn’t my speaking up that pulled things apart; that was happening anyway, though I don’t think I’m ever going to know why.

    9. Koala dreams*

      Support can come in different shapes. You can tell your friend that you won’t be their listening ear anymore, but you would like to send funny cat pictures, share cake recipes, play Uno online or do some other activity that doesn’t require too much talking.

      Good luck! Friendship is hard.

    10. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Interesting to see the responses. So far it’s confirming that were I to do it, I’d also need to be prepared for things to be awkward for a while, or even forever.

      Addressing the “you’re being an unreasonable jerk” line, I meant along the lines of as a general concept, not that I would literally say that! What I’d consider saying would be closer to “you are getting unreasonably worked up about things that are outside of anyone’s control and it’s not okay to take all your anger and frustration out on me.” It also sounds like she’s doing the same thing with her husband and family, and because of the context I’d feel compelled to add “and everyone else”. But of course, you’re all correct in suggesting that I should stay focused on the “me” statements as those other relationships are hers to manage.

      For some additional background, she took an extended holiday break, is frustrated with the increased parenting responsibility and boredom that comes with COVID life and is now dealing with it by lashing out at everyone who hasn’t made time for her. I get that it’s frustrating. But also, not everyone has the luxury of taking that amount of time off work and almost everyone has also been dealing with Major Life Stuff. Alarmingly, much of her anger and venting is directed towards those of us who are prioritising our time to deal with seriously ill or dying family members. She’s so worked up and in her own head that I don’t think she appreciates how out of line that is.

      I’m leaning towards taking a step back until she calms down. But I feel like she’s needling for attention (which I’ve seen with others can escalate to wanting ANY attention, good or bad) and that could mean the conversation is foisted on me anyway. I’m appreciating reading all your input so far about what I might say if it comes to that.

    11. Laura H.*

      I was the jerk friend in an online friendship.

      And I needed someone else to point that out to me. I wasn’t the victim and yea timing sucked but I’d like to think I realized my friendship was worth more than my pride.

      I needed to make changes all over the place and while it’s still very much a work in progress and the friendship isn’t as it once was, I want to preserve it and so does my friend- both to a point. Direct communication and to a smaller point doing it through an asynchronous method of a digital letter helped considerably.

      I’m ashamed of my behavior, and while I acknowledge the blemish I put there, I want to get past it and stop kicking myself over it.

      I understand that I’m not typical in this sort of thing but I hope it helps.

  19. Falling Diphthong*

    Recurring theme here, often for writers but encompassing other fields: Having ideas is easy. Some people can have half a dozen decent ideas with breakfast. Determining which ideas are worth pursuing, and then executing them well–that’s much harder.

    This week I checked out Single Drunk Female, comedy series on Hulu recommended last week here. I love it. Contrasted with two other series I’ve tried there–How I Met Your Father and Dollface–that are not hitting for me at all even though I like the premises on paper, and I think it comes down to the writing. Idea is fine, execution is lacking. Single Drunk Female never leaves me scratching my head thinking “Why does this character not know this?” or “Why was this interesting plotline introduced and then dropped cold?”

    Other things that have fallen into that “This is just so well executed, it’s beautiful” bucket:
    • Only Murders in the Building (the reason I added Hulu a month ago)
    • The Good Place (as much as I loved it, glad they were willing to wind things to an end)
    • His Dark Materials on HBO
    • Chernobyl on HBO (I am irked that they stopped offering this as a subscription on Amazon)
    • The Thursday Murder Club (book, multiple points of view investigating murders in a retirement community)

    Anyone want to share stories that are just executed beautifully? The initial idea might be not your thing (I don’t listen to true crime podcasts), but it was executed so well that the end result was a delight.

    1. fposte*

      I’m less enamored of the second season, but Rose Matafeo’s Starstruck breathed new life into the romcom cliché of famous man falls for not-at-all famous woman.

      Oh, and I’m not a horror person and I usually get bored by anything involving a fairy kingdom, but Peadar O Guilin’s book The Call is amazing.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        That was a fun series! I must say, I think one series was enough to tell the story but I’ll check out the second.

        FWIW, I loved In the Long Run, with Idris Elba. It’s kind of autobiographical, but it’s got so much heart and a sense of fun (and a killer 80s soundtrack and costumes. And Bill Bailey!)

    2. CatCat*

      “The Power of the Dog” on Netflix. It is not a beautiful story, but it would say beautifully executed. It made me feel a little off-kilter throughout, which I’m certain was intentional by the move makers. They really evoked what I can only call “compelling discomfort.” It was one of those rare movies that left me thinking about it days after I saw it.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I loved Good Place right up to the last few episodes, but then it really felt like a cop out. They had a delicious and urgent dilemma, with lots of twists, and then it felt like the writers painted themselves into a corner and said, “well we’ll just walk on the wet paint anyway, because hey, paint footprints are actually great.”

    4. marvin the paranoid android*

      I am constantly being disappointed by great ideas that really fall flat in the execution, so this question speaks to me. I have a low tolerance for writers who have a good initial idea but completely fail to think it through.

      I really admire Natasha Pulley for her ability to take a high concept idea and make it feel lived in and natural. I think she also has a really great sense of how much information to reveal so that the reader is intrigued but not confused. That’s a really difficult skill. I would highly recommend any of her books, although fair warning, once you’ve read any one of them, it will probably spoil the others to some extent, so it’s best to read them in the order they were written. I don’t even like to describe what her books are about because the discovery is the best part.

    5. Forensic13*

      Russian Doll from a few years ago, which Netflix has announced a second season for finally!

      The documentary Screwball, which tells the story of the baseball steroid scandal—using kids for all the re-enactments. It seems like a gimmick but it’s actually amazing.

      Gosford Park and Knives Out, both nearly perfect mystery movies.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      “We Run the Tides” by Vendela Vida. I felt like the book overall was a bit uneven – some chapters are great and others it’s like ugh, did we really need to spend time on this? But the way it ends is SO interesting and satisfying.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I just finished bingeing Only Murders in the Building last night and I LOVED it. The premise was intriguing, the dialogue excellent, and the actors were all wonderful. I’d forgotten how much I love Steve Martin and Martin Short. Absolutely delightful show. Steve Martin tweeted a pic from the set of Season 2, so we’re getting more! \0/

      Chernobyl was also really well done if a bit exaggerated. I don’t have HBO but watched it via a friend.

      One show I saw during the pandemic and enjoyed more than I anticipated was Mr. Robot. I wasn’t sure if I would like it; the hacker thing seemed a bit overdone to me, and I didn’t like the trans woman as villain (although she was compelling, and at least they gave her a backstory) but doing it from Elliot’s unreliable viewpoint, wow.

    8. Ampersand*

      Fleabag, on Amazon Prime—written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Though I wish there were more than two seasons, she wasn’t afraid to end it and be done and I can appreciate that. I don’t think the trailer does the show justice…I almost didn’t watch it after seeing the trailer! It turned out to be one of my favorites. I also love Only Murders in the Building and The Good Place (also Chernobyl, though it’s a very different kind of show). So if you like those, Fleabag may be your style.

  20. Anon for this one*

    How does one get rid of bad juju?

    Evidently I’ve done something to anger The Big Guy upstairs – injured my hand in Sept, broke my leg in Nov, and just this week, I was in a minor car accident. (No injuries in the accident, just a torn and smashed up bumper. I am more upset that this bad luck continues than I am over the accident.) Is saging yourself a thing? Do I need to burn an effigy of myself or dance around a fire pit chanting the Betty White/Proposal fire dance chant?

    1. Ali G*

      Well they say bad things come in three’s so maybe you’re done??
      I dunno, maybe just try slowing down and doing some mindfulness to recenter yourself. Maybe the universe isn’t mad at you, but wants you give yourself a break.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Just before the pandemic hit, I was diagnosed with two types of cancer. My mom passed away just as everyone got vaccinated.

      Sometimes you put your head down and trudge forward, having faith that eventually there will be another side to this statistical concentration of bad luck, and fate will waft along and focus their attention on someone else. I am glad I took advantage of counseling offered through my cancer center, and recommend that–it can be a one-time “Unload my stress and worry onto someone who is not emotionally connected to any of it, who will then recommend some coping mechanisms.”

      Also… those rituals can benefit just to the extent you get yourself into them. Like tying descriptions of your problems to a goat and then driving it out of the village. It’s like giving yourself a one hour timer to be really upset about something and cry and lecture a throw pillow with heartfelt zingers and eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerrys–but the deal is that when the timer dings you have to be done for today.

    3. c-*

      I’d look for practices that are open (so, no sage) and belonging to or related to your culture/religion (so they’ll be meaningful to you). What does your religion do in cases like these? Find out and do that. Don’t have a religion? Look for cultural practices for warding off evil that fit with your background.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When I get a run of crappy stuff it can (but not always) mean I am distracted and not paying attention to what is right in front of me.

      When my presence of mind seems to be on vacation, I go back to the basics- adequate rest, whole foods and plenty of water. It starts with how we fuel our bodies.

      Concurrently, I decide that I am on a bad luck streak. This means I need to slow down and add extra time so I can concentrate better and really watch what I am doing. I would take each instance and say, what can I do differently? You can use these things to sharpen you, to tweak your game so you are going at life smarter and sharper.

      So for the car accident example, let’s say it is truly not your fault. This happens, it’s easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So here, no matter the reason, one thing I might consider is can I change my route for a bit? Just to put myself in a different place and see how that goes. It could be that I leave earlier or later just to change the mix.

      I slipped on the stairs at work and had a hairline fracture of my finger. For such a little thing it was a real PITA.
      I decided that I could be more diligent about making sure those stairs were sanded.

      We can tweak what we are doing with out beating ourselves up about. “oh this is all my fault, blah, blah, blah”. OR we can cut to the chase by simply decide to make small changes. It’s a supportive activity because the injuries actually do hurt and who wants to do that again? And it’s also a way of taking back our power. That broken finger or broken leg can really blindside us and make us feel like things are not under control as they should be. We can use small changes to take back our power/our control.

      Definitely extra rest, though, above anything else here. This stuff can be very draining and then more stuff goes haywire because we are so drained from the previous stuff.

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

      I think any symbolic thing you do respectfully can work, even if it’s not your usual belief; be open-minded: light a special candle/incense, make and drink/eat a special food, clean your entryway, spread salt at your doorstep, cleaning bath, symbolic sweeping of the home, hang dried herbs, wear of talisman of your own making, dance, if a chant works for you — do it. Again respectfully and open-minded because you may gain a new perspective in your current beliefs.

    6. Angstrom*

      I find it helps to do something nice for somebody else. It helps break the worry-spiral focus on “me”.

    7. Starstruck*

      I just want to say I read this as you angered your heavyset upstairs neighbor. Maybe hit the ceiling with your broom a few times? Or stop doing that if you’re already doing that?

    8. Sunshine*

      I vote for doing good acts. Like donate Nutella and diapers to the food pantry. And and building a gratitude practice.

    9. Cj*

      I lost my job the middle of November. Two days before Thanksgiving my husband broke his shoulder. On January 15th he tested positive for covid, and January 18th his dad died. We had to have our cat put to sleep last week. I feel your pain.

    10. MissGirl*

      I’m not someone who thinks everything happens for a reason. I think some things do and some things don’t. But one of the more useful lessons I learned when I was in a very bad spell (loved ones dying, two injuries with two surgeries, etc), is I asked myself what I could be learning or changing from all this.

      At the time I was in a dead-end job and dead-end personal life. I was using being active as a way to mask all the uncertainty. Being inactive took me to a little bit of a dark place, forcing me to face some uncomfortable truths. For instance after my last surgery, I sat in a work meeting and finally realized I couldn’t keep doing that job anymore. I made some huge life changes that have paid off.

      Now that I’m in a good place, I recognize that good times don’t last forever and I try to focus on how I can live my life fully during the good times and prepare for the bad times. I also try to check in more with myself so that I can recognize if I’m being complacent and pushing things down. I’m in therapy now, which is helpful to talk things out. I wish I’d had that during my dark spell.

    11. BadCultureFit*

      Every time I’ve felt similarly to this, I’ve gone to a few reiki sessions. Something about refocusing in my own energy and having someone help me shift it around really helps me feel more centered, more in control, more at peace. Maybe worth a shot!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        +1000 to Reiki! It really helps re-center me and get me back to a constructive, present place in my life

  21. Ali G*

    I just have to brag about my Old Man Dog. He’s 14+ and this week we went for his annual appointment to check his heart murmur. His condition continues to improve, even at his age! The vet was so impressed for the improvement at his age. She said he’s in the best condition she’s seen for being so old.
    We are still waiting to hear from the regular vet about his kidney levels, but I’m still really proud of my Old Man.
    Please join me in bragging about your pets (or kids!)!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I just got two of those “hunt for food” puzzles, an attempt to offer more engagement to younger dog who has been barking more. Got one for older dog because I didn’t want her to feel left out (though she has lost all interest in chew toys), and now that we have two young cats and a young dog she realized she might be food motivated, if the kitten is literally standing in her food bowl.

      Well. Older Dog was ON IT. Immediately figured out how to paw open the flaps and sliders and unearthed all her treats. Younger Dog stood with his tail between his leg and stared at the treat sitting uncovered in its little cup. He does not grasp this at all. (And he loves “pull the landsharks out of their boat” toys, but the parts all get chewed up.) Hoping he figures it out by observing Older Dog, but glad I tried something new with her even though she seems quite engaged with the “walk, nap, bark at UPS man or possible deer” schedule.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I am so glad that someone else has cats who stand in the dog’s food bowl too. It cracks me up. It was a raised feeder, so she’d climb up on the one side and stand in the empty food bowl to drink out of the water bowl on the other side. Confused the heck out of the Elder Statesdog though.

      2. mreasy*

        My cat has about 5 different food puzzles because he figures them out immediately! I guess we have a cat genius.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah for the Old Man (Woman) Dogs!!!

      My guy will be turning 13 soon. He remains a power house. His vision is dimming, his hearing is going down but he never complains. He can still jump up on the bed which is half again his height from a standing start. He enjoys the heck out of company as he is very interactive with them.
      This dog was my wild child dog. The first two years were really rocky. Now he gives quick little “I love you” licks to people. He will stand beside a person and wrap his tail around their arm or leg as if to hug them. (I think he’s part monkey with that wrapping tail thing.)
      They sure can become our heroes and our inspiration.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yay for Old Man!
      My old lady dog is also 14+ and going strong :) She throws out her back sometimes, and she spends a lot of time sleeping, but when she’s awake she’s still got near-puppy energy levels!

    4. Cj*

      We have three dogs, an 11 year old German Shepherd who acts like he is two, a 14 year old golden retriever mix who deaf, but it doesn’t really affect his quality of life, and a sixteen-year-old rat terrier / blue heeler cross who is blind from cataracts.

      The Golden retriever has slight kidney problems, so he’s on a special food. Other than that he is is perfectly healthy.

      Does 16 year old blind dog has no issues when blood tests are done. Despite her blindness, she gets along great in the house, as long as I don’t set something new down on the floor.

      Senior dogs are awesome. We’ve had the oldest two since they were a couple years old, but adopted the German Shepherd when he was 7 (almost 8). That’s quite senior for his breed, but he acts like a puppy, but without all the bad puppy have it’s like chewing.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Old Man Dogs are awesome! Best Good Dog is still going strong at 13-ish (he was adopted as an adult so our vet made an educated guess 6 years ago). He’s a working breed (siberian husky) and takes his job of walking his human daily very seriously! Bad weather is no excuse, we’ve barely missed a day in 6 years. Besides, there are neighbors to greet, smells to sniff, and spots to “mark”, who knows what state the neighborhood would fall into without his input!

    6. Double A*

      I’m talking a lot of my cat this weekend but she’s the best. She’s 17. A few months ago she started losing weight and eating less I took her in to the vet. The vet called her “amazing” because of what good shape she’s in. We had a few months of drama because her thyroid levels were a little high and the meds we used made her throw up, so we had to get her back to eating then on a topical thyroid med but now she’s putting on a little weight and the bald patch on her butt, which I thought was just going to be a permanent old cat thing, is growing back. So yeah, according to both vets she’s seen say she’s amazing, and every time she gets sick and I think this is probably a turn for the end, she bounces back.

    7. Meh*

      Oh! My Old Lady is 14 and went to the vet this week! A little hiccup with protein in her urine, but they said she doesn’t exhibit any other signs of kidney disease. Otherwise, she looks great

    8. Sloan Kittering*

      Oh man, I’m living for this thread right now, as I just adopted a six year old rescue mutt, who is quite big, and he’s healthy and full of life, but I’ve been bumming myself out with research about his possible breeds, and most of them only seem to live to be about ten. I thought we’d have more time together (like maybe he’d live to be twelve?), but the vet confirmed that ten was probably realistic for his size. So I love to hear of 14 year old german shepherds still going strong. I had only owned small dogs and cats before so I was not quite prepared for the short lifespans of large-ish dogs. Do you know, I read that Golden Retrievers previously lived longer than they currently do? Even in Europe they apparently live longer. They are quite prone to cancer in the US apparently.

    9. Rara Avis*

      Our new cat is getting braver. We finally gave her the run of the house (after a month) and her favorite spots are, of course, the ones that belong to cat #1. She adores him and wants to be friends; he’s not sure.

    10. Loopy*

      This thread gives me SO much joy. We have a much beloved dog turning 12 in September and he’s still healthy but it’s at the age you really start to worry about the looming decline. I adopted him around age 2 and my husband has been in the picture most of the years since, so he is pretty much a central part of our little family. I’m so comforted to hear of all these puppers going strong at 12, 13, 14!

      Our boy is currently on daily meds to keep his liver enzymes in check but is otherwise healthy, happy, and active!

  22. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Has anyone asked to see a different practitioner in the same practice than their regular one? Could you share any tips for a script? Context below—

    My issue is with the dental hygienist I see. I love my dentist and don’t want to change practices but I absolutely cannot hear or understand the hygienist who works on me. She is a very lovely girl but she is so soft-spoken and has a thick accent that I have to ask her to repeat herself constantly. I have asked her to speak louder or remove her mask, mentioning my deafness and pointing to my hearing aids but her “loud” still isn’t loud enough for me, especially when there are other people around us who are talking.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I was pretty blunt: “No, thank you, I’d rather not see Liz again. I like to listen to music while they work and prefer a hygienist who doesn’t talk while she works.”

      They said “OK let’s try Margret.”

      And Margret has been my person ever since. I adore her.

    2. Healthcare Worker*

      I’ve changed hygienists before, too. When you’re scheduling explain your problem and ask for someone else, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    3. Deschain*

      I have a similar issue and my longtime dentist readily agreed to clean my teeth himself instead of me struggling with the hygienist. He’s done it twice now and it’s such a relief.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I just asked the receptionist if I could schedule my next appointment with someone different. In your case, “I’m deaf and she’s very soft-spoken, I hate to feel like I’m asking her to yell!”

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      Just say your thing, “I don’t hear very well and Martha has tried but can’t speak loudly enough for me to hear her. Can you suggest someone else?” It’s not personal, it’s business, and it’s about your needs as a patient, so don’t feel as if it’s going to be a big deal to anyone. Martha will probably be relieved as well.

    6. argh*

      dental offices are pretty used to people having a preference for hygenists. A quite word to the receptionist, and they’ll book you with a different hygenist.If the practice has more than one.

      1. Windchime*

        I was able to easily change hygenists at my dentist. I was paired with one gal who was super chatty and also very “jabby”. We just didn’t gel at all, so when I booked the next appointment, I said, “Could I book the next one with Jan?” And that’s how I ended up with Jan, who was/is excellent. Every time I book a return appointment, I make sure to specify that I want Jan and it’s not been a problem.

  23. Anonymous cat*

    I’m taking some time off from work and I’m a little worried about how I’ll fill my days.

    Anyone have any suggestions or advice from doing something similar?

    1. Anonymous cat*

      I should add I’m taking several weeks, not just a few days. I want to come back with a better plan for dealing with life and work, and to not worry through the whole thing.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Because you’re taking several weeks, routines will probably be helpful. Bedtimes, meal times, wake up time so you don’t fall into a bad pattern of staying up too late and lazing around in bed all day (unless that’s your goal for this time off!). If you’re taking time off to decompress, I say do whatever you want for the first week and put routines in place for the following weeks.

      Are there places near where you live that you’ve always wanted to explore but haven’t had the time to? Put together a list so when you’re bored you can chose a place from your list. Or if there aren’t places you want to go, are there things you want to do? Take up a new hobby, read a book, put a meal prep plan together? Those can go on an “if I’m bored” list too.

    3. Anima*

      Oh, I feel you. Every time summer break finally hits I don’t know what to do with the 24 hours given to me at first. I allow me to do nothing the first few days, except the things I want to do that day. After a few days I seem to adjust and start to plan out what I want to do, often deep cleaning the flat, see people I didn’t have time for before (granted not in the panini), buy supplies for hobbys and then using those supplies up. Do all the stuff that fell off the plate before like repair things around the flat. But I also plan time to watch movies and shows I hadn’t had time before. So, after a while I get a new rhythm and the days don’t seem to be so long anymore and usually filled with stuff I tend to like. Does this sound good for you? It’s weeks summer break in my case too, so I hope this helps.

      1. AGD*

        Same. I have a very demanding day job in higher education. When I do get an occasional long break, I spend 24 hours pretty much just wandering around my house and staring at various walls. Then my brain thaws out a bit and I start cleaning, repairing, sorting, knitting, reading, Netflixing, and actually going out to do things in the city (or beyond).

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          I agree with AGD. For the first day/couple of days, AnonCat, don’t program anything. Sleep until your natural rhythms wake you up, take a shower at whatever time of day you feel like it, don’t even get dressed until noon—or at all—if that’s what you feel like.

          Be kind to self and give yourself carte blanche as far as what you do or don’t do. Eliminate “But I HAVE to do (thing)” from your vocabulary for a bit.

          After a day or so, you’ll have unclenched and the “Aha!” thoughts will occur—you’ll recall some things you’ve always wanted to spend a little time on, and now you have the time.

          These unscheduled weeks are a real gift—let yourself relax and enjoy them.

          Good luck, and a beneficial break, to you!

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Treat it like you’re visiting your own town on vacation – are there cool museums/zoos/attractions you never get around to seeing? Search for seasonal things you might not even know about, like street fairs, farm festivals, etc. Explore different parks, watch movies you haven’t gotten around to seeing, find some new recipes to try…

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I do this a lot! I try to take at least one staycation a year, and each time I try to add on new ways of planning ahead to make my home life easier when work wears me out, and to create healthy habits for keeping work and home separate.

      Here are some of the things I’ve tried:

      1. Stick to my bedtime/sleeping routine, even though I’m not always going somewhere. If you don’t have a good routine in place, a few weeks off from work is a great time to establish one.
      2. Tackle the minor home organization stuff I’ve been meaning to do, but never have the energy when I’m going to work every day. Also a fun reason to order stuff from the Container Store.
      3. Try out new recipes so I know what’s feasible for a work night and how much prep everything takes.
      4. Schedule some kind of relaxation appointment. A massage, a facial, a one-on-one stretch session at the yoga studio, something that makes me feel good about being in my body.
      5. Establish a new skill or hobby. Youtube and the public library are full of resources if you want to learn how to do a cool new thing during your time off.

    6. Windchime*

      I recently retired and had the same concern at first. I have to say that having my time be my own has been a revelation. I usually sit and catch up on my internet stuff for a couple of hours when I first wake up. Then I shower and dress. Sometimes I do a household chore like vacuuming or laundry. Then lunch. The day just kind of progresses like that and it’s lovely; I can lay down in the afternoon and read/nap if I want. I have time to sew as much as I want.

      I guess what I am saying is, do what you want. You don’t necessarily need to make every minute “productive”, unless that’s what you want to do.

    7. marvin the paranoid android*

      This isn’t really practical advice, but every time I’ve had a bunch of unstructured time off lately I worried that I would get bored and it has not happened yet. I think many of us need more relaxation time than we’re getting, so I wouldn’t feel bad if you aren’t able to or don’t want to schedule every minute. You might find that it doesn’t take as much to occupy yourself as you think.

  24. Don't want a mom bod*

    From the time I started puberty, I’ve felt like I had a “mom” body (ie- matronly, broad shoulders, large chest) and it’s had a very negative affect on how I’ve seen myself. Looking like a “mom” as a middle school, high school, college student is not fun…
    I am about 5’2, so my bust size might look fine on a taller person, but I feel like the size makes me look shorter and larger than I actually am.
    So my question is this: Are there good quality bras that, like a sports bra, pull things in, lift up, and flatten?
    Honestly, I would want to get a reduction, but based on the research I’ve done, I wouldn’t be a candidate for that (less fatty tissue). Exercise doesn’t reduce the size, either, which is why I’m looking for any kinds of tips.

    I’ve heard about low cut or v-neck shirts, and I have tried v-neck shirts when I can find ones that fit, but it seems like scoop neck and high neck shirts are more popular.

    1. Julia*

      I’m in the UK and I don’t know if it’s the same elsewhere, but here you’d probably be looking for a minimiser bra. They are designed to support larger chest sizes while spreading the breast tissue out more to give a flatter profile and make the chest appear smaller.

      1. UKDancer*

        If you’re the UK I’d recommend going to Rigby & Peller. They have the best bra fitters I’ve come across. They fit the Queen amongst others. They’re really good at looking at you and working with you to find the sort of corsetry that works for your body needs.

        1. Tex*

          Try the Waocol Awareness minimizer. It’s Nordstrom’s most recommended minimizer.

          I would also suggest going for a fitting at a department store (Nordstroms or Dillards have been good in my experience) or an independent specialty lingerie store (not Victoria’s Secret). Having someone measure you and make recommendations is going to narrow down the search time considerably. And it’s a free service to make sure you get the right fit.

    2. B*

      Seek out ABRATHATFITS on reddit for a down the rabbit hole experience. The knowledge (and opinions) is vast. I will say that what makes me look “less” is a bra that pushes all the business forward instead of squishing to my sides while completely containing all tissue for that locked n loaded feeling.

      1. Don't want a mom bod*

        I have a few bras that push everything forward, but the only thing I don’t like is that it looks like I’m putting the goods on display. I need a lot of structure on the sides to keep everything in place, too.
        That sub has some good advice, I read through it from time to time.

    3. Anonie*

      I don’t have bra recommendations except to look at a minimized bra. I’m primarily commenting on the the shirt cut trend. Avoid trends in clothing. I don’t look good in scoop or crew neck shirts and so I wear v-neck and sometimes boatneck. I’m 30-something and don’t care what high schoolers and undergrads are wearing. Cropped shirts are in right now and it drives me nuts; I want enough shirt that I can at least French tuck if I want. What I’ve also found is that I’m a medium in shirt size…but all the fabric gets stuck on my boobs, so I size up to large or extra large to get the length, but then it looks baggy. When I buy high end, I buy larger and then get the item tailored to fit me. I realized this after following Fashion Jackson on Instagram- we are the same height, similar build, but she doesn’t have the same boob challenge I have. Tops that looked good on her looked terrible on me and then I figured out why.

      1. Don't want a mom bod*

        This has been my experience, too. I size up to fit my shoulders and bust and look for v-neck shirts, but since I don’t tailor my tops, they end up baggy in the waist area.
        With my body type, however, shorter tops tend to look better on me.
        I do agree with you about higher-end and tailoring. I love Zara and the GAP but can rarely find good, long-term items. I’m now coming to terms with that fact. *sigh*

    4. Golden French Fry*

      I’m 30E and have had great luck with the Panache brand (both regular and sports bras). I found my size on abrathatfits, and my chest looks quite a bit smaller now that I’m in a well-fitting bra.

      1. Don't want a mom bod*

        I’m a 32DD and this sounds exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve never heard of that brand, thanks for sharing.

    5. cat socks*

      Start with a proper bra fitting. The Reddit page mentioned above has instructions for how to measure yourself. Or if you feel comfortable, try an in person fitting at a place like Nordstrom or Soma. The blog Wardobe Oxygen has some good posts about bra fitting as well.

    6. Maryn B.*

      A bra that really fits will make a huge difference. The “mom” look is often due at least in part to a bra that lets your breasts rest lower than they should. I’m big (FF cup) and I can get bras that fit, just not in stores. (If you live in a city big enough to have a dedicated lingerie store, you may be luckier than I.) Among the offerings are minimizers, although that’s not what I buy.

      A good fit is fully comfortable, the support coming from the bra’s basic structure rather than hanging from the overworked straps denting your shoulders. It touches your sternum, no gap. The band is neither tight nor loose and it’s at the same level in the back as the front. I find bras with side support work best for me.

      Brands that offer large-breasted woman real support include Elomi, Fantasie, Goddess, Panache, and Freya. Websites that carry all or some of these include BareNecessities, FreshPair, and HerRoom. Some have a chat to help you get the fit right the first time.

      And yes, these bras are pretty, come in colors and prints, and are everything you’re happy to see in your lingerie drawer.

      1. Rekha3.14*

        Seconding some of these brands. I shop at Change in person, but they have things online. As noted, a good fitting bra can make a huge difference. I was a 34J and I found stuff that fit there and I felt really good in. A proper bra fitting is a MUST. I was so happy to find a store that carried multiple sizes, styles, and colours, that didn’t cost a fortune.

      2. Don't want a mom bod*

        I have heard about the bra touching the sternum, but the closest I can get are ones that are close to touching or that touch until I actually have to go out and move. I have wide-set boobs and also participated in many sports when I was younger (swim, gymnastics, etc.). I guess imagine a gymnast’s upper body, but with larger breasts and that comes close to what I’m working with. The shape is one that is bottom, not top, heavy. In their natural state, I feel like a kid who stuffed balloons down their shirt.

        With measuring, I’ve used abrathatfits along with measuring guidelines from Wacoal and other places. I get pretty consistent results. With that said, I have found that even within the same brand fittings can be wildly different. It looks like the consensus is to look for a specialty boutique for a “to be sure” fitting.

    7. marvin the paranoid android*

      I don’t know exactly what kind of look you’re going for, but if you’re interested in trying out a flatter chest, you could try looking at products that are mostly aimed at transmasculine people. I’d recommend Outplay as a brand that has a range of basically high compression sports bras, and you can go for more or less compression depending on what you’re interested in. I actually find them pretty comfortable. The main downside is that they don’t work under all types of clothing. I realize this might be slightly off track from what you’re looking for, but I just thought I’d mention it in case it interests you.

      1. Don't want a mom bod*

        Thank you, I will give them a check! I have a friend who would be interested in that site, too so this is great.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t think sports bras are the solution. I think they contribute to a frumpy body shape.

      1. Don't want a mom bod*

        Typical sports bras, yes. I should have explained that the one I use is a VS sports bra with an underwire and great support. I’ve worn it out when I’m not exercising and I love how everything is supported, kept in place, and doesn’t look overly “showy.” Unfortunately, it’s a bit tight, as sports bras tend to be.

        1. BraQueen*

          i find VS bras very unsupportive. I highly recommend Title 9 for sports bras, they have a lot of models. I also had surprisingly good luck with LuLuLemon sports bras — their front zip one in particular is nice with a heavy fabric that’s minimizing.

    9. mreasy*

      I love Enell sports bras for actual activity, but they are also flattening.

      And this isn’t what you asked, but my breasts are extremely fibrous and heavy, and I had a reduction last year.

  25. "New Normal?"*

    Have you said the phrase “adjusting to a new normal” to someone who is grieving? Or if you have lost a loved one, has someone said that to you? I was reading on a grief website that this is inappropriate to say to someone who is grieving. And I don’t understand why, and there was no further explanation. When you were grieving what did people said to you that was helpful? Were things said that were hurtful?
    I’m facing an impending death of a loved one and am giving this a lot of consideration. To me it seems I will be adjusting to a new normal, so I don’t understand why it would be considered offensive. I would appreciate your ideas and thoughts.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is something that I think varies from one person to another.

      I think a good thing to do is realize that “new normal” means mention of the future. When grief first hits, just getting through today can be an incredible challenge. Thinking of any time beyond today can be unimaginable.

      We can follow the lead of the grieving person. For example, if the grieving person is not talking about next week or next month, then we can do the same. We can remain aware that they may need x or y next week or next month but just not say it out loud because THEY aren’t there yet.

      I do know that time between the passing and the funeral can be so demanding and so grueling even mentioning groceries can cause a person to feel overloaded. We can take our cues from what the person thinks of to say.

      For me, in my loss (everyone is different) the most powerful thing I saw was people’s willingness to stand beside me even though they knew they could not “fix” this. Their courage in facing the Unfixable became my role model for finding my own courage.

      For some odd reason, I was able to see that people were trying the best they knew how so not too much bothered me. But one person got me. She was older than me by a couple decades, so I felt I could not respond to her. But she said, “He’s been gone two months. You have been moping around here for two months. You need to get over it and go find a new man.” She really made herself stand out because everyone else in my life was saying things along the lines of “you are the best judge of how your life should go”.

      I guess in short- ” adjusting to the new normal” is too far a reach when you can’t even get through the current day.
      After having lived it, I would say adjusting to the new normal took a few years. I kinda like the expression “building a new chapter in life”, as it seems to indicate an on-going and pro-active effort. OF course, others won’t like this. Everyone is different.

      1. allathian*

        Oh my, that one person was downright offensive. I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I wouldn’t blame you if you avoided her from now on.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I did avoid her. Unfortunately she too lost her current SO a couple years later. That was sad. I saw her at the funeral and said I was sorry for her loss. Then I left. I saw her in passing a while later and I did not see a flicker of recognition on her face. And her happiness and smiles were gone.

          I can only conclude that she was very aware how life changes and tables turn. Perhaps her advice to was more about a terror inside her than it was anything to do with me. It took me a while to think of this, though.

      2. E. Chauvelin*

        I haven’t been told it in a grieving context, but what bothers me about the phrase “new normal” is that I hear it as implying that whatever the situation is in context will not get better in any way. If not that it’s permanent, then at least that it will take maybe a decade or several decades before anything improves at all. Just because whatever the old normal was won’t be back exactly the way it is doesn’t mean I want to hear that the current badness is so unlikely to become better that I should consider it normal.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In that case it assumes that the “old normal” was preferable to the “new normal”. Which is probably true in those contexts. However, we get new normals all the time- such as when we marry, we add kids, we adopt pets, take new jobs, I could go on. These are things we choose to do but they too are new normals.

          Indeed, we use the term normalizing most it seems when we want to berate a new idea or concept. “Well we are just normalizing X, so now X is okay with everyone.”

          Changes we want vs changes inflicted on us are two way different animals.

    2. fposte*

      I think as the bereaved person, it’s always your prerogative not to consider something offensive. There are probably people who are genuinely comforted by “They’re in a better place now.”

      But if I were trying to support somebody grieving, I would be unlikely to use the words “adjust” or “normal.” It might be a different matter six months on with a friend I talk to all the time, but as a one-off, I don’t want to say anything that makes it sound like I’m treating grieving as a job, and while eventually most people do adjust to a new normal, when they’re in fresh grief it’s usually more important to acknowledge how abnormal things are. When I’ve just lost someone, I’m not worrying that I might not be okay, I want the world to be disordered by this wrong. Tell me you see how hard and terrible it is, not that I’ll get used to it.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’m an example of a person who was very comforted by thinking of my loved one being in a better place and welcomed people saying that.

        In this situation, my loved one was experiencing horrible pain with no hope of recovery, and nearly her last lucid words were to the effect that she wanted to go be with Jesus already. So it was/is comforting to think that she is now happy.

        OTOH, if someone had tried to impose their own beliefs about death on me at that time, in contradiction to what I believe, or if the loss happened in a less obviously hopeless circumstance, that would be a cruel thing to do.

        Anything that addresses cosmic questions is totally a “know your audience” situation.

      2. ECHM*

        fposte, thank you for helping me put my finger on why it makes me so upset when I mention to my mother that a person I cared about died, and she says some variant of “it happens to everyone.”

    3. ecnaseener*

      My grandmother recently died, and my grandfather has said similar things about needing to adjust to a new normal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that as a concept, when you lose someone who’s a major part of your life then of course you can’t get back to that old normalcy and you’ll eventually find your new rhythm.

      I’m guessing the website warned against a lot of variations on “telling a grieving person what to feel or what their experience will be,” because that’s generally a bad idea. So it’s not the new normal idea specifically, it’s the “don’t worry, you’ll get used to it” implication that comes through when a person outside your grief talks about you finding a new normal.

      Sending you a big internet hug. You get to feel whatever you feel.

    4. Charlotte*

      What people said that was helpful: “I’m so sorry.” “I brought this food – let me just put it in the freezer for you.” “I’m going to take the kids for a walk for a couple of hours, is there anything you want me to get while we’re out?” “I’m here, I’m listening.”

      What people said that was hurtful: “everything happens for a reason”. “God has a plan for all of us.” “You need to start moving on.” “Time heals all wounds.”

      “Adjusting to a new normal” is likely to be hurtful precisely because people know it, but everyone processes that at their own speed and doesn’t need to have it told to them by others. It comes across as indicating that grief is something you have to get over, that your focus should be on the future not the past (memories and history with the lost loved one), and as telling them how to deal with their loss. Those are not appropriate or kind things to say to someone.

      No one ever said it to me, thankfully, but if they had I would have been very upset. And furious. I didn’t want a “new normal”, I wanted him back. I didn’t want to adjust, to get over it, to move on. I wanted to hold on tight to what we had, to cling to my memories, to feel the pain and loss and horror of it all. I would have screamed in the face of someone trying to offer platitudes about adjusting to a new normal. It’s such a banal, pointless thing to say in the face of grief.

    5. Sunflower*

      I think people try too hard to say the perfect thing when there is no perfect thing so they say nothing at all. Nothing anyone says is going to take away the pain so esp when grief is new and raw, the best things to do is keep it simple, be supportive. I think a lot of people underestimate the value of a simple ‘I’m sorry, I’m thinking of you’. I think saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ is maybe the worst thing you can say to someone.

      Death is a funny thing. It affects people in ways you really can’t predict. I know when I dated someone, he didn’t want to accept that life would be different without loved one and I think part of the grieving process is accepting there will be a new normal which can be really hard to do in the immediate term. I think he thought after time, things would go back to normal and didn’t want to accept normal wasn’t going to be what it was before- he needed to cope with the new normal. I also think a reference to ‘the new normal’ can be interpreted by a grieving person as trying to forget the loved one existed if it’s given too soon.

      I follow Ashley Spivey (who was on the Bachelor years ago but now just posts interesting things) and I’ve learned a lot about grief from her account. She has been dealing with infertility issues, finally had a successful pregnancy and then her son died about 3 months prior to his due date. I have found a lot of her posts to be very eye opening- primarily around how many people are afraid to talk to her about her son.

    6. Healthcare Worker*

      Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses! I hadn’t realized how this could be perceived, this really makes sense to me, that it’s telling someone how to feel. Fortunately I haven’t said this to anyone and won’t. I really like the phrase “building a new chapter of life” as a way to frame the changes I will be facing. I’ll check out Ashley Spivey’s writings. Hugs to all.

    7. Bibliovore*

      I think the answer is that as the grieving person, you get to decide “what is offensive”
      For me “the new normal” is hell. (Inside my head I am an a-hole “Thanks for reminding me.” No kidding, thanks for stating the obvious) on the other hand if it is another widow sharing their experience, I just think yep.
      At one point I made a list of things people said that I found offensive here are a few- he is in a better place, he didn’t suffer, he would want you to be happy, I can’t imagine what you are going through, (nor would I want you to) You had a great 30 years, I miss your smile, gee you look great, how are you doing in that big house all alone?, did he have life insurance? Are you going to retire? Are you going to move home (a place I hadn’t lived in 30 years) Do you think you will remarry?

      Things people have said and done that helped.
      Everyone on this blog who have shared their experience, strength, and hope.
      A friend who weekly texts and says, I am going to the grocery store- do you need anything. I text no, and she texts back bananas? orange juice? eggs? Milk. Oh yeah I could use those bananas.
      A friend who says, hey can I stop by for a bit and help open the mail? and she reminds me to pay the electric bill or that the property taxes are due.
      Another friend who texts that she is taking a walk with her dog, can she swing by for mine?
      Another friend who texts that she wants to come by to fold laundry (she LOVEs folding laundry. is that true, I don’t know but it certainly gets the laundry done and put away)
      Another friend who texts that her family is picking up Pho and would I like some and they will drop it by at 5.
      A neighbor who texts says she needs to get out of her house, do I have time for a walk at 1 -2 or 3-4 .
      A puppy mom who says she has to be out for a few hours tomorrow morning can she drop her puppy off at my house.

      People who have said- how has this day been going- and who are okay with me crying- again.
      people who don’t try to fix how I feel.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      The only hurtful thing that was said to me, and the only specific thing I remember over a decade later: “It would be WRONG to be okay right now.”

      My mom had just died after several years of fighting cancer. Her last couple months were awful. I WAS okay because we’d been past the “maybe she’ll recover” point for awhile and in some ways it was a relief. We were all hugging and getting ready to leave the hospital and I asked my uncle (her BIL, not brother) if he was okay just as the sort of kind/caring filler you say when there’s nothing to say. And that’s how he responded. To someone grieving their MOM. He should’ve been asking ME how I was doing.

      I think it doesn’t matter what words are said as long as you follow Ring Theory (support flows inward toward the “epicenter” of grief) and give people space to feel how they feel, including how they react to specific comments.

      1. allathian*

        That sounds eminently sensible to me. I’m sorry your uncle by marriage was so insensitive.

        I’ve lost all of my grandparents, but I haven’t really grieved any of them. I certainly don’t remember feeling devastated by their deaths (more so by the grief of my parents), because all of them were so sick by the time they died that we had time to get used to the idea and to mourn them before they actually died, and none of them died young. I was 5 when my maternal grandpa died, and that’s when I realized that dead people don’t come back, and 25 when the last of my grandparents died. I’m sure it’ll be much worse for me when my parents and in-laws die regardless of how sick they are when it happens.

    9. Jackalope*

      My absolute least favorite “may this comment burn in flames of darkness forever” comment is, “God took this person because he needed a new angel.” I mean, in Christian theology (which is my religious background), God has been around for all of eternity and has literally BILLIONS of dead people to do angel-y things and spend time with, but somehow this one person that I’m close to absolutely had to be one of them?? This seems to be used more for someone who died at a younger age or died suddenly, so that makes it even worse.

      1. Healthcare Worker*

        Yes, this is a horrible thing to say! And so theologically unsound. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Adding people do not become angels. Only angels can be angels.

        So very much agree with you, Jackalope, not only does the person not know how this stuff works they also really don’t have anything to say. That is why they rely on the worn out angel thing.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My father said to me when I was pretty little that sometimes God knows when we can no longer help the people we love here on earth. So he calls us home and we can help our loved ones from above.

          This is something very different than the angel thing. And I still think of him saying that 50 years later. He firmly believed we had “work” in heaven. And some of that work was to watch over our loved ones and help take care of them. Technically not theologically based, but it sure comforted me as I could still think of them as loving me and it was okay to keep loving them back.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I think the grieving person is allowed to think or say whatever they want. *I* need to adjust to a new normal us a fine thing to you. *You* need to adjust to a new normal might not be a fine thing to say.

      When I was grieving, one of the hardest things for me, paradoxically, were the brief moments of normalcy. When I’d be hungry and I’d eat something and it would taste delicious. When someone would say something funny and I would laugh. Those moments would arouse so many contradictory emotions in me, but one was a feeling of almost jealously holding on to my grief. A feeling that in the future, maybe I would live a normal life with normal emotions. It would hurt me to think of ever moving away from this intense grief.

      If someone had told me to adjust to a new normal, or even implied that someday I would inevitably adjust to a new normal, I think that would have aroused those same feelings. When I was deep in grief, I didn’t WANT to adjust to a new normal. I wanted to mourn the loss of the normal I used to have.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Your post really grabbed my heart strings. Yes, we more the loss of the life we had because of our person. There are so many aspects we grieve.

        My father got a lovely letter from my mother’s doctor. In it the doc said, “as you reweave the fabric of your life”.
        I was young and newly married, but I could see that this doc was “getting it”.

    11. Xenia*

      A lot of it comes down to whether you are saying it to yourself or saying it to another person. If you are saying it to yourself, then what you consider offensive or harmful or helpful is purely up to you. If “I’m adusting to a new normal” is a helpful approach to you, then definitely use it. If you are saying it to someone else, it depends on how they feel, and that’s a lot harder to figure out.

      As a general rule of thumb, if I’m saying something to someone else, then anything that should tell them how they should feel–i.e., “God has a plan”, “you have to adjust to a new normal”, or worst of all, “You should get over it”–is something I would avoid on the grounds of being potentially insulting, because grieving is a painful and personal process and everyone should be allowed to feel their own emotions at their own rate.

      So for other people, I will stick to offers of support and validation. If I am concerned that someone is doing really badly and does need some outside perspective on their grieving, then I’d still treat it factually — i.e. “You’ve cancelled on our coffee meetings for the last three months running and you haven’t changed out of your pajamas from three days ago. I’m worried about you.”

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        You made the verbal connection here I was struggling to make.

        When it’s a person who hasn’t experienced the kind of loss you’re grieving, “you’ll have to adjust to a new normal” really does translate more as “why aren’t you over it already?”

        My dad died when I was a teenager. At the time, my two best friends had been raised by single moms; one had never even met their dad. At my dad’s funeral they said something to the effect of “we can teach you how to not have a dad.” And it was like being punched in the face. Because even though I knew how hard and painful it had been for both of them to have their dads absent, the experience of never having that person present in your life is VERY different from having that person and suddenly losing them. And those relationships were never quite the same afterward because to them, not having a dad was totally normal and they couldn’t quite grasp why I couldn’t make it feel normal for me.

    12. Esmeralda*

      Honestly, most everything anyone said felt terrible. Except these:
      I’m so sorry.
      I feel so sad for you.
      I really love you.
      I know now may not be the time, but can I text you soon to see if you need anything?

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The best interaction I had at my dad’s funeral was a friend who walked up to me in the receiving line, gave me the tightest bear hug I think I’ve ever had, and said “you know I love you, right?” I said I knew, and he gave me one more squeeze before he had to keep the line moving.

        What I desperately needed was someone who understood that he couldn’t fix me, but he could support me.

    13. marvin the paranoid android*

      I would say as a rule of thumb that people should avoid saying anything if it’s really just to make themselves feel better. It’s usually pretty obvious when someone is just uncomfortable with any negative or complicated emotions and wants to paper it over with some weird platitudes to make themselves feel okay with the chaos of life. For me, “new normal” isn’t the most egregious example of this, but it does carry an undertone of “hurry up and get over it.”

      I would say the most helpful comments are either people who are just willing to listen and affirm that things suck or are complicated, or people who are genuinely there to support you with what you need to get through it. In both cases, I think it’s about showing the grieving person the respect of listening to them and paying attention to what they need.

    14. My Brain Is Exploding*

      My cousin, who had already lost both of her parents, to me after my second parent died: “It sucks to be an orphan no matter how old you are.” It did and it does and that comment was just so right for the way I was feeling.

    15. RagingADHD