{ 1,199 comments… read them below }

  1. Ashkela*

    I’m going to be in Columbus, OH for a (non-work) convention next week and would love if anyone has any suggestions of where a girl could go do some karaoke. (Bonus if there’s a competition) Queer friendly preferably, but I know sometimes the answer is an Applebee’s or other non-bar. Wednesday through Sunday nights!

    1. PerplexedPigeon*

      Check out the Short North district, I assume it still exists. That’s where the gay bars are.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard good things from reliable about a spot called Bossy Grrl’s. They have karaoke every Friday and every other Thursday, as well as drag and burlesque shows. Of course if anyone who has visited feels differently please chime in!

    3. kina lillet*

      Totally unsolicited recommendation to check out Otherworld if you have time and inclination. I was in (close to) Columbus for a very short time and it was so, so worth it.

    4. AY*

      I live in Columbus! I’ve never been, but I know that Mickey’s in Grandview is a karaoke place. We have really excellent LGBTQ establishments, including Slammers, Union Cafe, and Axis Nightclub. Please do not miss a visit to German Village while you’re here. Enjoy a macaron from Pistachia Vera and visit our most beloved institution, The Book Loft. And of course, you must have Jeni’s if you’ve never been. I hope you enjoy our lovely city!

      1. Ashkela*

        Ooh, all of these sound interesting! There is a Wynonna Earp convention Friday through Sunday, but I’m going early so I’ll have to see what my friends are interested in. But I’m now intrigued by The Book Loft especially!

        1. E. Chauvelin*

          Yeah, I’ve never done karaoke in Columbus so I can’t help with your original question, but I can vouch for the Book Loft, The Otherworld, and Jeni’s Ice Cream if you haven’t been to one elsewhere.

        2. Constance Lloyd*

          I love the book loft! And if you’re into coffee/wine/chocolate (and I’m not too late with this comment) Winan’s is an excellent spot. They have a few locations scattered around town.

  2. PollyQ*

    Bluetooth earbud recommendations? Not Apple, because they’re too big for my delicate ears. I have a pair of Klipsch wired earbuds that I’ve been using happily for a while. Anyone know if their bluetooth cousins are similar, and good quality/ratio? Thanks!

    1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I don’t have any, but I’m hopping on this thread because I’d love to see the answers! I’m hoping for some that are good for running myself. I don’t mind if they’re wired or Bluetooth!

      1. TechWorker*

        I have ‘JAM athlete in ear true wireless sport earbuds’; they were pretty cheap and I use them all the time. I am probably towards the end of the spectrum where I don’t care much about sound quality (honestly I often can’t tell the difference) but I also have small ears and in terms of comfort they are great. They don’t need charging that often and the little charging case is small enough to fit into a small bag/pocket.

      2. acmx*

        For running i suggest Aftershokz. Its bone conduction so they sit in front of your ears allowing you to hear your surroundings while listening to music.

        I also have a pair of Sony in ear buds(mine aren’t BT) that has ambient noise function. They have a built in music player.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I just sprung for a nice pair (my wired ones keep falling out when I take my daughter out in the jogging stroller). Thanks for the rec!

    2. David*

      I just went on a search for good wireless earbuds myself a few months ago. I made the rounds of a bunch of different review sites and wound up getting the Jabra Elite Active 75t as a gift for my sister, and from what she’s told me they work really well (good sound quality, fit, noise cancellation, performance on calls, music, podcasts, etc. – I quizzed her extensively :-p), so that seems like it was a good choice. Plus I got them on sale for $100, down from the usual price of $180. The catch is that it’s a recently discontinued model (or so I’ve heard), so I’m not sure if they’re still available direct from the manufacturer the way I got them, but you can probably find them at some electronics stores and other retailers.

      For myself, I got the Sony WF-1000XM4, which is pretty consistently the top or nearly top rated model in the review sites I looked at, but it’s a lot more expensive at $250. (I was looking for fit and sound quality more than price.) They also seem to work very well – the noise cancellation in particular is extremely effective – but I can’t imagine the quality difference is enough to be worth the extra $150, so I suspect the Jabra ones are a better value if you can get that sale price. Plus, I’ve been getting an intermittent “clicking” or static-like noise when listening to podcasts with the earbuds, which is something a lot of people reported in online reviews of the Sony buds, but weirdly enough in my case it also happens on my phone speakers so maybe it doesn’t have to do with the earbuds after all… anyway, maybe not the most helpful fact but this is something I wish I’d known about before I bought them.

      Unfortunately I don’t have any insight into Klipsch earbuds. But I hope that info helps a bit, even if just for comparison. Good luck finding something!

      1. Helvetica*

        I have the WF-1000XM3, which I would recommend. Not the cheapest but long durability after charge, convenient functionality, excellent noise cancellation, especially in windy conditions.

      2. Aly_b*

        I got the Jabra ones and really like them. Great battery life, which I was looking for, very reliable and good sound quality. I only have them connected to one device so don’t know how they would do with switching. I work out in them and they’ve worked well for that for me.

    3. Virginia Plain*

      I have Samsung Galaxy buds, they are really good. You can turn them off with a light tap, and some other functionality I’ve been too lazy to explore!

      1. Golden*

        Do they ever fall out, especially during more vigorous activity? I’ve been looking at those for a while (I’m a big Samsung fan) but they just seem so small!

    4. Camellia*

      My husband, who is in to all things tech, prefers SkullCandy and bought both of us a pair. A couple years later I bought a pair of Samsung, because they were marketed with a theme from my favorite band. And I think the SkullCandy ones are better.

          1. Golden*

            I was wondering that too! I think it also means Buy Trade Sell in some circles (like “I just got a used lawnmower from the local BTS Facebook group.”), but idk about this context.

            1. Clisby*

              Camellia (above) mentioned something about her favorite band, so my mind went to the K-Pop BTS.

          2. Camellia*

            Sorry, didn’t see your comments until this morning. Yes, BTS stands for BangTan Sonyeondan, and they are a group out of South Korea, and are currently the most popular group on the planet. Literally, the planet, based on All Things Counted in the music world.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I have a pair of Sennheiser Momentum ear buds and I love them. Pricey, but worth it IMO because they’re so comfortable to wear and the sound is great. I like bass and was impressed with how good they sounded (for earbuds) – I listen to a lot of electronic, ambient, and bands like Radiohead. I watch stuff on my tablet (don’t own a TV), and it’s good to curl up in bed with a movie without annoying wires.

      My husband also got a pair and isn’t a fan, but we use them for different reasons/music and have very different ear sizes. He uses his for workouts and finds they don’t hold in his ears well so he prefers the wired together kind. He also struggles with accidentally setting off the touch controls for some reason.

      I know what you mean about the Apple ones. I have small ears too and they’re freaking painful. I struggle to understand how a company that designs user friendly products so well can fail so hard on the earbuds. Like, who did the testing and did they ever wear them for longer than 10 minutes?

    6. shearwoman*

      I am a runner and I love my aftershockz openruns– they are not inexpensive but really good quality. If you still need to hear outside noise (such as traffic, when running or walking) they are great. They also come with soft earplugs if you want to block ambient noise. https://shokz.com/products/openrun

      1. Autumn*

        I have the Aeropex, and love them, looks like Aftershockz has made some changes and I am really hoping the openrun is the same basic design. More incentive to keep the old Aeropex in good condition! I can’t wear any kind of in-ear speaker, and I love how the Aftershockz (I guess just Shockz now) lets you hear what’s going on around you too.

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      If you don’t mind the wired together kind (that still pair to your phone via Bluetooth), Letscom is my favorite. Inexpensive, good quality sound, and fit my ears much better than Airpods. The loop over the ear holds them in place very well for running or yard work.

    8. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex (she/her)*

      I got Mifo bluetooth earbuds specifically because they were recommended for small ears! I like them and they weren’t horribly expensive.

    9. CallTheBagelShop*

      I haven’t used those but love my JLab Go Air Popp Bluetooth wireless earbuds. It’s only about $30 and gives me no pain, compared to MPow X3 which was much more expensive (around $90?) and became useless after 6-9 months. I especially love that it seamlessly reconnects after the first pairing.

    10. Katie*

      My husband received Raycon and Galaxy earbuds for Christmas. He likes the Galaxy ones but loves the Raycon ones a lot. The Raycon ones with a coupon code were under 100.

      1. not sponsored*

        I’ve been considering trying Raycon but haven’t yet, some youtubers sponsor them, you might be able to find a discount code through one of them.

    11. A Feast of Fools*

      I bought some Samsung Galaxy Bud Pro earbuds a couple of moths ago and have been really happy with them. Sound quality is great, they stay put in my ear, and they’re “ambidextrous” in terms of which earbud needs to be active to place phone calls. (Which I bring up because I spent a lot of money on a pair of Bose earbuds just to find out that *only* the right ear bud can make calls. I’m a left-ear phone user, so the right ear thing was a deal-breaker).

    12. Little Miss Sunshine*

      I have had good luck with Boltune and Soundpeats brands. Both are magnetic with a wire so I can wear them around my neck and not lose them when I need to remove the earbuds temporarily. Long battery life, good sound for calls and music/podcasts, decent noise reduction and they each come with multiple ear cushion sizes so you can adjust for your ear shape. Less than $30 and each pair has lasted years.

    13. higheredrefugee*

      I just bought some cobaltx limitless over the earbuds a couple of weeks ago to hike in. I have small ear canals so I always need the smallest bud pieces and over the ear stay on as I scramble over rocks. The case will charge them 3 times before needing to be plugged in, they lasted about 18 hours total the first time for all 3 charges. I paid $20 for them at TJ Max, which has become my random place to for all those kinds of electronics. I also use them to listen to podcasts and NPR so I don’t need great sound fidelity, but the price is right for my needs.

    14. Jackalope*

      I bought a pair of LG Bluetooth ear buds for around $80 awhile ago… maybe 2014 or 2015? They are still going strong, still work well, and I’ve loved them. I don’t know if they’re the best ever, but I can say that they’ve lasted REALLY well.

    15. cityMouse*

      I just bought a pair of Focal Spark Wireless in Ear Headphones for $38CAD and I loooooove them. It did take a while to pair them, but I’m not very good with new tech, so I blame myself. The sound quality is amazing for the price point, really quite open with decent bass, and I like the design. They sound better than the Apple earbuds in my opinion. They come with three silicone tips. I give them 10/10 at that price point. 8 hours of battery life is impressive!

      1. cityMouse*

        ps they are connected to each other with a flat wire, so I can’t lose them, which is a bonus for me.

    16. Kayem*

      I have Klipsch wired earbuds and I love them too. I had to start keeping a decoy pair in my bag to deter family members with a penchant for earbud snatching. I also have wired Klipsch cushioned headphones and they sound great.

      Though now I’ve been using my Beats Flex more than anything, especially when doing any physical activity. The sound is very good, but not quite as good as Klipsch. Then again, I can’t wear them at the same time as my hearing aid like with the headphones, so I don’t know how much of the sound quality is due to it. Though on sale they’re cheaper than my Klipsch earbuds were. I got them when I couldn’t decide between them and a collar style set of Anker earbuds. My husband got the Anker, I kept the Flex. My only complaint with the Flex is, because they’re noise canceling when there’s no audio playing, I can hear everything in my skull. Way more so than other noise canceling earbuds and headphones.

      For true wireless, I’ve yet to find a pair that I can trust to stay in. I have a pair of Murel true wireless earbuds that I got six years ago that sound fantastic, but the left one never stays in my ear.

    17. Tegan*

      I have the Klipsch T5 II ANC earbuds and LOVE them to death, they are my favorite I’ve ever owned or even tried. They are more than what I would usually spend, but the sound quality is fantastic, they pair (and stay connected) super easily, and the battery life is excellent. The app that goes with them is really well done too, it has a very granular EQ function if that’s something that interests you.
      So much of wireless earbuds is about fit, though. I bought the Jabra Elite Active 75t early last year and really like the sound quality, but they didn’t fit my ears well – they hit the cartilage in my ear in a way that started to hurt after about 45 minutes of use. I also tried the Panasonic wireless earbuds, and the sound quality was OK but not great, but pretty reasonable for the price point. They didn’t stay in my ears well, though, even with different size tips.
      My husband really likes the Bose wireless earbuds, and of course the sound quality on those is nice, but to me they feel too heavy in my ears. Wireless earbud shopping is tricky since you have to find something that you like the sound *and* fit of. For me, the Klipsch checked all the boxes for both sound and comfort.

    18. COBOL Dinosaur*

      I can’t wear ear buds because I can’t find a set that doesn’t hurt my ears. I tried a set of bone conducting headphones by aftershockz and I love them!

      1. PollyQ*

        Side Q: Are you actually still working in COBOL? I used it a lot at the beginning of my career, but that was 30+ years ago now.

    19. Redhead*

      JLab $20 at Target. They are rated better than airpods. I have a pair and the sound quality is excellent!

  3. Not A Manager*

    Just finishing Klara and the Sun. Does anyone have any thoughts about it? I enjoy it, but it feels like a re-hash of Never Let Me Go. Very similar characters and feel.

    1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I read it with my bookclub and we had similar thoughts!

      It was sweet (and a pretty quick read) but it didn’t enchant me as much as his others. And it felt a little….on the nose, I guess?

    2. Wildcat*

      It felt a bit flat to me. I though the concepts in it were already well trod in scifi and it just didn’t bring anything new to the table. I didn’t dislike it, I guess I was just expecting more with the level of hype.

      1. Estraven*

        I’ve just finished ‘Klara and the Sun’ and felt the same way as Wildcat. It reminded me in tone and subject matter of several SF and YA stories past – Brian Aldiss’s ‘Supertoys’ stories and Karen Thompson Walker’s ‘The Age of Miracles’ for instance. The way Klara’s world was described was clever and well controlled. But there were no real surprises, lots of longeurs and a ‘huh’ ending. I can see it’s got a lot in common with ‘Never Let Me Go’ but doesn’t have the same emotional impact.

        I’ve had mixed results with Kazuo Ishiguro. Had to give up on ‘The Unconsoled’ altogether about a third of the way in, because it was driving me absolutely crackers. It is (presumably by design) like having a very long, complex and detailed anxiety dream, and I get quite enough of those already. Apparently folk who do like it find it witty and amusing, but I had trouble locating the funny.

        1. Budgie Buddy*

          The Unconsoled omg SAME (I finished it but there’s no need to – it is definitely an anxiety dream)

    3. another Hero*

      omg yes at the end especially I was like “I have already read this book and it was called Never Let Me Go.” it wasn’t my favorite of his but I did feel like it was kind of illuminating about his body of work (not just its own similarity to NLMG)

      1. the cat's ass*

        I liked them both, tho NLMG crept along so slowly but then with slowly dawning horror. Klara was much more overt. He’s an amazing writer.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I liked it. I felt like there wasn’t much to the story but Klara was such a sweet character. I listened on audiobook and I think the narrator did a great job, so that may have added to it in a way reading the text wouldn’t have. I read “Never Let Me Go” years ago but don’t remember anything about it!

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I enjoyed the audiobook after Allison’s previous recommendation and had mixed feelings about it. The story was interesting but were we supposed to take away a lesson? Is AI good or bad? Are humans just terrible? I haven’t read other books by Ishiguro, maybe it’s intentionally vague?

    5. GS144*

      I read it right after finishing Walter Issacson’s biography of Jenifer Doudna (who co-discovered CRISPR gene editing technology.) That timing lent the book a very eerie sheen. It’s a little surreal to think about how gene editing tech could be applied in our lifetimes.

    6. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I personally liked it. He is the kind of author who treads in similar themes over and over, so Klara also reminded me of The Remains of the Day and The Buried Giants too. I don’t mind the similarities. I can’t get too deep into the differences because of spoilers but I think Never Let Me Go is mostly about human mortality and has a definite point of view and conclusion, while Klara is more about human responsibility to AI and is a lot more ambiguous/curious/questioning.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I think Ishiguro’s explorations of morality are some of the most interesting parts of his books in general. In Klara, I think one of the issues is how our attitude toward technology can spill over into our attitude toward other humans. A key question in the books is how disposable is Klara to her humans, but another question is how disposable are the humans to one another? Klara inhabits an ambiguous state of human significance, but the humans, too, inhabit an ambiguous state of human significance.

        I liked that about the book, and I didn’t think it was covered by Never Let Me Go. But I felt like the characters and plot (even including “can True Love conquer all”) were sort of phoned in from NLMG.

    7. Budgie Buddy*

      I liked Klara and the Sun – Klara is a very sweet and caring protagonist. She’s also very active within her limited abilities. Ishiguro often writes protagonists that are intentionally self-centered and passive so I liked seeing him break the mold. Not my favorite book of his but also an enjoyable read for me

  4. Candy floss*

    Note: I mention my diet and issues with eating habits in the below text. I hope this is not against the rules but please feel free to remove if so

    Is this something a therapist could help me with? – I would like to be more disciplined in following my diet (my doctor has put me on a low-carb diet). I struggle with impulse control where I eat whatever’s in front of me (especially foods that are not compatible with the low-carb diet :() regardless of whether I’m feeling hungry, but I am good at stopping when I feel satiated. I don’t know why this is the case, I am lucky that I’ve never had to struggle for food or other necessities, so it can’t be due to that.

    I feel strange about approaching a therapist for this because I don’t think it rises to the level of an eating disorder, but is it something they could help with? Has anyone else faced this, and if yes, have you had any success navigating it? My doctor is quite strict about the diet and expects full compliance. I don’t feel like I can talk to him about my difficulties, but I’m finding it really difficult to follow these rules and I feel bad for not being able to do it.

    Thank you for any advice, and have a happy weekend!

    1. Not A Manager*

      You might look into CBT for this kind of thing.

      And do speak to your doctor – if his response is basically to scold you then you might want to think about finding a different doctor. In order for your medical care to be effective, you need to feel safe to honestly share information with your providers. The next step after him shaming you for being honest will be you fibbing to him about your compliance, and that’s unsafe for your actual medical treatment.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Seconding Not a Manager — if this person gets off on shaming patients, it may be time for a new doc.

      2. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        Agree with others that this is fine to discuss with a therapist, and a nutritionist would be a good choice too. You need to be able to be honest with them and with your doctor and it sounds like your doctor is just shaming you, not helping you.
        I joined Weight Watchers some years ago and it worked very well for me – learned a lot about portion control and that I can still have things I crave, just not every meal. I’m skeptical about diets that limit whole areas of food, though they work for some people. But not me.
        The best diet is the one you can live with, not one you’ll go off and on.
        Good luck! Changing habits is hard.

        1. Not A Manager*

          OH MY GOSH it never occurred to me that the underlying issue here is weight loss. I assumed that Candy Floss needed to limit carbs for some other health-related reason.

          If you need to lose weight, an internist or GP or PCP probably isn’t any more qualified than a layperson to tell you what diet to be on. In general, in my experience, if a medical issue is not squarely within a doctor’s actual medical area of specialization, they aren’t any better educated about it than an intelligent, well-read layperson. I would be *especially* wary of a doctor who prescribed a specific regimen for weight loss rather than telling you to lose weight and sending you to a specialist.

          So I’m modifying my response. If your doctor has put you on this specific diet for a specific, diagnosed medical reason, then you should try to figure out your difficult complying and you should also be honest with your doc about your difficulties. If your doctor has “prescribed” this diet because he wants you to lose weight, then lose the doctor. Seriously. Find a dietician or a nutritionist if you agree with your doctor that you have a medical reason to lose weight, and find a less pushy doctor.

    2. Hola Playa*

      A really great holistic nutritionist can help you with this. What you describe as ‘impulse control’ may be based on nutrient deficiencies or another irregularity and having support with planning the right types of foods (that you like!) at the right times with maybe some supplement support could be what would help most.

      And therapy is excellent either way!

      1. RagingADHD*

        If you are in the US, the designation you’re looking for is Registered Dietician. They actually have scientific qualifications. The term nutritionist is not regulated here, and is often used as a cover by uneducated woo merchants and MLM supplement peddlers.

        You are making a major change to your macronutrient balance, and problems with satiety and “rebound” eating are entirely predictable and to be expected. They are often driven by changes in the gut and hormones that regulate appetite.

        Doctors do not get trained in nutrition sufficiently. Dieticians do.

        Therapy is great and I think everyone would probably benefit from it sometimes in their life, but this is highly likely to be physical rather than mental.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, speak with a therapist. Consider it a tune up with a life coach. You might be surprised to find what motivates or demotivates you. I hope you find a good one who can help you. It can take time to get your diet in order.
      I’m on a medical diet, too. My advice is to ALWAYS have allowable food on hand that you can grab and eat – even in your pockets and at work.
      You can do it with the right tools! Best of Luck!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When I cut back on carbs it was A LOT of planning.

      I had to make sure that my protein intake was adequate- this helped with the carb grazing later.

      I also learned that the “hungries” can actually be thirst. Thirst will masquerade as hunger. So before grazing, I tried to have a big drink of water, let that settle in for five minutes and then see if I wanted anything. Happily a properly hydrated body also means the brain is properly hydrated and that improves mental function. This can mean having better impulse control among other things.

      I had to plan what I would eat when I wanted a snack.

      For me, grabbing a candy bar at a convenience store or eating what ever a friend was offering were habits. It was indeed hard to stop these habits. And it does take a while to develop new habits. My first step was to be aware of how much I ate that I never even thought about. I was munching randomly thorough out the day and not even noticing. Once I started noticing that is when the impulse control became MORE of an issue. It sounds to me that you have progressed to the part where you are actually aware of what you are eating more often than not. So you are moving along and may not even realize.

      SLEEP. Sleep is a bfd if you are trying to control impulses. I am always amazed at how easier things are if I have enough rest under my belt. Energy comes from two places: food and rest. The more diligent I got about going to bed on time, the easier things got.

      One thing that I did was keep track of how I felt after I had that “forbidden” thing. I noticed that I felt differently sometimes for DAYS. Making myself notice this was hugely helpful in roping in my impulses. I could tell myself, “I don’t wanna feel like crap for the rest of the day/tomorrow/whenever.”

      As far as the stern doc, I went to a doc who was partners with a stern doc. My doc was much more approachable and would actually explain how to navigate pitfalls. If your doc has a partner who would follow the program with you, then you might try going to the partner to see if the partner is receptive to questions. OTOH, you might find someone in his office who has done this and this person would be willing to whisper tips to you.

      For me, a reality based doc is what I need. I need someone who can understand that I ate x at a party on Saturday because of special reasons Y and Z and I probably won’t eat x again for months if not years. My first doc admitted he follows his diet 80% of the time. If you travel a lot, if you work long hours, if you are a care-giver, (and so on) there are many reasons why it is not always possible to follow an ideal diet. You just may need a different doc for this program.

    5. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Maybe try Overeaters Anonymous? Despite the name, the only requirement for membership is really to want a healthier relationship with food, and dealing with impulse control issues can fall into that category.

      I have tried OA myself, with varying results. It has been good for my emotional health, though I still struggle with food.

      If you try OA, you should probably shop around a bit until you find a meeting that works well for you and a sponsor who fits well with you. Some meetings/sponsors are hardcore and expect perfection; others, not so much. Some have a very narrow definition of “abstinence”; others, a much looser one. Some are VERY God/Higher Power-centered; others, much more secular. Some see their role as being the food police; others, more a support system that helps you get emotionally balanced so that you’re able to make the best choices.

      Anyway, good luck! (And don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect.)

    6. Chaordic One*

      Like “Not So New Reader” says, it requires planning ahead. I make a point of looking at recipe books and making shopping lists to stock up on healthy foods ahead of time, so that I have things to eat when I get cravings. I cook things ahead of time on the weekend so I can pop them in the microwave during the week. I bring a few snack things with me in my bag just in case I get hungry when I’m out of the house (fruit, low-carb cookies). When I’m out of the house or at work I might just have a coffee by itself and ignore the pastry or doughnuts. And yes, the getting enough sleep is important. It will make you feel better and help you avoid those times when you’re tired and popping something in your mouth will give you a short-term energy boost.

    7. Nela*

      You didn’t ask this question, but someone I know was recently diagnosed with insulin resistance after decades of unsuccessful dieting. She had to alter her eating schedule and is finally seeing results for the first time in her life, as she’s no longer feeling the need to overeat. Her own MD never considered this and was always shaming her, and this seems to be very common among them.
      Your problem may not be impulse control, do make sure there are no other reasons before you start “hacking” your instinctive responses.

      1. JSPA*

        tracking responses is useful, and it can be as simple as a “notes” app or text file or physical pad of paper. I won’t “journal,” but found it super helpful to track gall bladder triggers, before finally getting surgery. That involved noting down the time, foods, and resulting moods, hunger level and gall-bladder response (spasms, nausea, searing pain vs mercifully minimal response). Ditto for short term restrictions before tests and colonoscopies. Or checking for reactions to medicine. Or caffeine level. Or shift in time zones. As a biologist, doctors can be the worst violators of “correlation ≠ causality.”

        Do people with low X in their blood have good health outcomes? Lovely. That’s a statistic.

        But that does not mean, “lowering X in diet => lower X in blood. It doesn’t even mean that lowering X in your blood will mean that you will have a better health outcome. Heck, it doesn’t even mean that people in general who lower X in their blood, will improve their health outcomes.

        That’s not a reason not to check if lower X in your diet does lovely things for relevant parameters; but it’s a darn good reason to check in with your body, as you do it–and to treat your doctor’s guidance as one possible useful route, not “the facts from the universe on what will make you healthy.”

        Don’t get me wrong…short-term, an essentially zero fat diet quieted the effects of an active organ trying to function around a giant gallstone. But longer term (and once the gall bladder was gone)? Well, nope, the core issue was genetic, and cutting cholesterol out of my diet at the same time that my liver was working with a hyper-acute cholesterol scavenging system, wasn’t a good move.

        There are parallel correlations regarding food choices and creatinine levels, food choices and PCOS, etc.

        The nutritionally-adequate, health-optimizing diet for any one person is quite likely going to be highly dependent or more of the many (many many) genetic variations that your DNA happens to have.

        Furthermore, it’s utter madness to assume that everyone has the same reachable health goals–metabolically, just as in any other way. Nobody suggests we can all be pro basketball players, or all be olympic-class hurdlers, or all bench press hundreds of pounds; but we’re bizarrely willing to believe that everyone has the same metabolic and nutritional talents and abilities.

        If your doctor wants you to try one likely way to improve X–sure, why not. If your doctor subscribes to “one true way” thinking, though, with no room for you to check in with your body’s actual response, though? That’s broadly not good science, and (with a few legit exceptions) it’s broadly not good medicine.

    8. Little Miss Sunshine*

      Fatphobia and medical shaming are real issues. Keep shopping for a doctor you can trust to listen to you and your concerns, and who will deal with you as a human being deserving of respect and not scold you for not following the rules.

    9. Candy Floss*

      Thank you so much for your kind and understanding responses! Most of you are right that I have been prescribed this diet for weight loss. Interesting to know that it could be due to nutrient deficiencies, all this while I just felt like a bad person for “cheating” on my diet so this makes me feel a lot better. I will try to have an honest conversation with my doctor at my next appointment. Thank you again!!

      1. A Little Bit Alexis*

        This comment reminded me of a dietician I follow on TikTok. She’s a registered dietician and I love her approach to food. She says frequently that her recommendation for people wanting to lose weight is to add more to their meals. More veggies, more protein, more healthy fats, etc. You’ll stay full longer and be less likely to snack and hopefully less tempted.

        I’ve been working on cutting back on simple carbs and sugar for health reasons, and this approach has definitely helped me. Impulse control has always been an issue for me too, especially around snack foods. I now eat bigger meals but less snacks (which were a problem for me, sugar-wise). I’ve also tried to do small things like make sure snack food isn’t as easily accessible and in my sight, even if that just means keeping it in a pantry instead of on the counter. I’ll be open that weight loss isn’t my goal and I don’t know if I’ve lost weight or not, but I feel better and more in control of my food urges.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      Agree that you should totally be able to bring this up with a therapist, not because it sounds disordered but because I don’t think it has to go as far as being disordered to be addressed.

      Also, your doctor sounds impossible and discouraging. Would it be possible to find someone more understanding? I’ve learned that I don’t function well without carbs (I’m fine without sweets, just not carbs as a whole class of foods) and I would find this really difficult despite having, in general, remarkably few conflicts with food.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    I’m actually making quite good progress in something that has been near-completion for a while! Turns out having another project idea that I’m really excited for definitely is a good motivator.

    1. Yaz*

      I have lots of threads but no meta narrative yet. Anyone else? How do you figure out how the characters and vignettes inside your head fit together?

      1. river*

        This is how I usually write, starting with a handful of characters and vignettes. Plotting has always been more difficult for me. I try to think of it as a journey. Take the most important vignette and think, how did these characters get to here? What motivates them to act the way they are acting here? What will they do after this? And then see if you can make connections between the vignettes, the stops along the way so to speak.
        I have found the advice of Ellen Brock on youtube helpful. She is an editor. She has useful advice on working within your writing approach, whether you are more methodological or intuitive.

        1. Coast East*

          I can’t plot to save my life, but adapting the save the cat method definitely helped me out. I hate outlining myself, but once I knew the “plot beats” it was easier to decide what to do in the next scene

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Personally I like working backwards – I figure out my beginning and ending and then work backwards from the ending to the beginning. If I already have stuff for in-between I’ll usually figure out where they make the most sense.

        It also might help to write these things out in a way that you can easily rearrange. Personally I use physical flashcards for this, but there’s software out there that will do essentially the same thing (Jenna Moreci on YouTube might be a good start, she regularly gets sponsored by these kinds of apps).

        Also I second the Ellen Brock recommendation, to which I’ll add Jenna Moreci and maybe also Terrible Writing Advice if you need a laugh.

    2. Shanderson*

      Any script or screenplay writers out there? I also like the getting beginning and end and then blocking in vignettes and moving them around from there, but it would be good to hear how other people have managed with that style!

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Not sure if you are a screenwriter, but many and possibly even most screenwriters work that way! My screenwriting teachers always said filling in the middle was the hardest part. Some writers put their scenes on note cards and then move them around to create the structure in the middle. Unlike a novels there’s no connective narration to tie the thing together so filling in the middle blanks and moving vignettes around is very compatible with screenwriting.

    3. Maryn*

      Pfft! After finishing the edits on book three of a series, instead of planning book four (which will be the last book), a shiny new idea has drawn my attention.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Actually wrote down a bit of my story? novel? novella? that I’ve been drafting in my head for quite a while!

    5. Junimo the Hutt*

      Kicking off the big writing part of this project on Friday (doing Camp Nano with a moderate goal instead of a losing-all-sleep-and-ability-to-function-goal). Because I haven’t been able to write consistently for a couple years, this project will be an experiment in bribing myself to reach benchmarks. I bought the prize for “finishing outline and story manifesto” already, but it’s in somebody else’s possession and I don’t get it unless I finish those by Friday.

      It’s going well, though. So far.

    6. PhyllisB*

      I have a 10 year old granddaughter who likes to write short stories. I would like to encourage her, so was thinking of sending her a thesaurus (do people even use these anymore?) A journal and some colored pens. Too much? Not enough? Suggestions welcome.

      1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

        Find out HOW she writes before offering tools – some people write on paper, some people on computer, some people in a treehouse, etc.

        as far as a thesaurus – I tend to go online for that? I’d think a lot of people do, these days.

        but I’d go with finding out how she likes to write first and going with fancy version of that. no point in getting nice paper if she’d rather type, etc … :)

        1. Junimo the Hutt*

          Seconding all 0f this. About 10 was when I started writing and well-meaning relatives gave me a lot of various tools throughout the years that gathered dust when all I wanted were cheap college-ruled notebooks and mechanical pencils. I was very appreciative of their efforts! I just felt guilty.

        2. PhyllisB*

          Thanks. I know most people go on-line for references, but I’m not sure if she has a computer to write on, and besides I thought it might be good for her to learn how to use printed references. But I realize I’m a dinosaur :-) I will check with her mom.

        3. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Seconding this, and adding that even the fanciness level mattered to me at that age/who am I kidding, it still matters to me. I would have been happy with a huge pile of cheap spiral bound notebooks then/now while a super nice leather-bound journal would/is collect/ing dust under my bed.

          1. Maryn*

            Same here. I bought fountain pens with colored inks, and a few lovely notebooks–and they’re all much too nice to actually use.

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

    I…fell back into the rabbit hole that is the Sims 3. Finally got around to modding and and I’m genuinely wondering why I didn’t do this sooner – the more sensible story progression alone is so worth it.

    1. TechWorker*

      I got sims4 recently (played 1,2 and 3 as a child/teen, tho at that time sims 3 ran dog slow on our family computer). I am enjoying it a lot; and have read a bit about modding but not quite made the jump! (For probably irrational reasons, I literally code for my job so chances of me screwing it up and not being able to remove the dodgy mod is probably low..)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I can’t speak for Sims 4 (got the base game when they gave it away for free one weekend and I’ve played it for a couple of hours, but that’s it), but the mods I have for Sims 3 literally have you create a separate folder to put the files in, so you aren’t touching the base game files at all.
        And, of course, I made a back-up beforehand just in case.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      I am super bummed because I’ve been waiting years for rune factory 5 to be released in the US and the first eave of reviews has been…not great. The general concensus seems to be “the characters and nuanced systems are great! Oh btw, it looks and runs like absolute trash with lots of input lag and stuttering” so ill probably wait and see if they can patch some of that before I buy it. Really took the wind out of my sails this weekend!

    3. Shanderson*

      I’m still embarrassingly into Stardew Valley, which scratches the Sims Freeplay itch but with less wasted hours aftershame. However, I’m madly excited for the remastered Chrono Cross dropping this month and it’s put me in a mood to replay Chrono Trigger, so I busted out the DS. (For any curious, Chrono Trigger holds up as a truly wonderful game literally decades later, I still replay once every few years and try for a different ending or with a new party mix)

      1. TechGirlSupervisor*

        No shame in Stardew Valley. I find it much more enjoyable than the Sims. Currently playing in the valley myself and just contemplating start a new farm to try out one of the other farm types.

    4. wingmaster*

      Pokemon again LOL. But this time, I am playing Gold. I just had a desire to beat Whitney’s Miltank last night.

    5. onebitcpu*

      Final Fantasy 7, or Horizon Forbidden West.
      It all depends on how much energy I have after work.

    6. Alice (the other one)*

      I got that huge itch.io bundle in support of Ukraine and I’ve been trying a few games in that bundle. So far I’ve enjoyed Baba Is You, Cosmic Puzzle and Old Man’s Journey. I think those alone are well worth the price of the bundle, and I’ve got a ton more to try.

    7. SparklingBlue*

      Swapped back to Pokemon Brilliant Diamond so I could get Shaymin, and got her! I’ve been horribly stuck on Legends: Arceus, so I’ll keep Brilliant Diamond going while I’m waiting for Scarlet and Violet (Gen 9)

    8. Emotional support capybara*

      I fell down a Stardew Valley hole again. First playthrough since they added Ginger Island.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2… I have raised a skyscale. Very cute watching it sit on a blanket playing with a ball…now I take a break for tax prep. Bleh. We need someone to gamify tax prep.
      I also spotted a vintage Scrabble set at a charity shop so that is in the lineup again at last.

    10. Quietone*

      I enjoyed yonder a lot – graphics, free play + quests. Has anyone played their new one “grow”?
      Also, does anyone remember lemmings and has that one been rebooted at all?

    11. MEH Squared*

      Like a broken record, Elden Ring! I’m 125+ hours in and maybe 2/3rds done? Perhaps? I’m cleaning up some NPC quests and tying up loose ends. I am finally feeling my faith (incantations) build is working for me instead of against me.

      This game is going to force Triple A devs such as Ubisoft to change up how they do open world games. Or not. There’s plenty of room in the gaming industry for different kind of open world games. But I can never go back to an AssCreed, I’ll tell you that much.

    12. Esus4*

      We are liking a board game called Cascadia. It’s a tile-laying game based on the U.S. Pacific Northwest ecosystem, with multiple goal layers of habitats and animal territories.

    13. RowanUK*

      I am on my second playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077 in a row. I honestly did not expect to like the game (I’m usually more of a BioWare/Elder Scrolls player) but bought it when they had the half-price sale and WOW, it’s become my new slight obsession. It runs perfectly on the Series X and they seem to have fixed the vast majority of the glitches.

      There are things I’d like them to improve – like more content for certain characters – but it’s brilliant, and the different approaches to building your character really adds to the replay value.

    14. DarthVelma*

      The partner and I finished the Destiny 2 Witch Queen and most of the Season of the Risen content on our main characters and have decided to do another playthrough on our Titan characters. No crayon is safe! *snort*

      It’s been fun learning to play a class I’m way less familiar with. The good news is I still have “punch them in the face” as my fallback move.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I did the legendary campaign on my Titan first (my main character), and just finished the legendary campaign solo on my Warlock the other day. I agree, it is fun to learn to play a different class. I’ve done a bit of the campaign on my Hunter, but that’s the class that I have the hardest time with.

        “Punch them in the face” is the best fallback move. Or opening move. Or move in general, unless the enemy explodes.

        I absolutely ADORE Caiatl, and have been loving her dialogue during the Seasonal content. Have you done the PsiOps battleground on the Moon yet? If you have, I’m interested to hear what you think of it.

        Idk if you’re interested in raids, or have a raid group, but I have a good group of people who raid regularly, so if you want some people to run with just let me know.

  7. Yaz*

    Any other t1 diabetics out there? It’s a rough night. Do you ever have days where you just can’t get your numbers down? Sadly this is happening on my first day of vacation

    1. Bookgarden*

      T1 here and can offer commiseration. I’ve been going through this more often lately. Stress tends to play a factor, or if I eat a lot of cheese, or have a lot of change in my diet, or sometimes when something goes wrong with the insulin vial. Sometimes I have no idea why.

      Right now I’m having a small low so I’m waiting for my juice box to work before falling asleep. I’m sure our bodies will normalize soon. Rooting for you!

    2. WellRed*

      Yes there are going to be weird days. I love it when I get 99 or 100 on the meter. Something so satisfying about it.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m T2 but yes I have had those moments where sugar is too high but I’m still hungry/craving food. It’s not a great feeling. Unfortunately IME short of an extra insulin shot nothing will bring it down super quickly.

      For regular maintenance I’ve learned that a small protein & carb snack before bed leads to much more desirable numbers in the morning.

    4. JustKnope*

      Fellow T1D here and YES. Those days are so unpleasant. Lauren Bongiorno on Instagram coined “sugar squats” and swears by doing 50 squats when you’re high to help kick start the insulin. Works for me sometimes :) otherwise I just “rage bolus” which is definitely not great when I swing low on the other side, lol.

      1. Yaz*

        Exercise usually helps me! But what sucks is when it’s like 3am and I just want to sleep. At that point, the “rage bolusing” (great term!) starts

    5. Vanellope*

      Yes, you are definitely not alone in that! For me, it’s a high stress time at work and I am also in the process of switching endos because I was very unhappy with how my current one handled some insurance issues. Once it gets warmer where I am I can start running again, and that helps keep my levels more even.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Not me, but my mother was insulin-dependent. Whenever she had any sort of infection, from bronchitis to an ingrown toenail, her blood sugar was through the roof.

  8. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    My mother and mother-in-law have both, over the years, gifted me a number of perfumes.

    I pretty much don’t wear them, in large part due to the worry that they will cause migraines or irritations for others. But recently someone told me that fear was overblown outside of doctors offices, etc. Would love to crowdsource some wisdom on this: are there some general rules for polite or acceptable times to wear fragrances? Or is my general less-is-more policy standard?

    1. river*

      My main advice is, put the perfume on your skin, not your clothes. After a shower, for instance. Then your body has a scent that can be smelled when someone hugs you, but you are not exuding clouds of scent wherever you go.

      1. SaraCennia*

        My gran’s tip was to spritz perfume on her hairbrush. Dunno the logic behind it but I still do it.

        1. PhyllisB*

          It’s a subtle way to wear scent (spritzing your hair brush.) The heat from your scalp diffuses it so its not so in your face.

          1. PhyllisB*

            My mother used to tell me to spray the air and walk through it. This is what I told my girls when they first started wearing scent because again it’s not so overwhelming. Now that they’re adults they put it on in traditional ways.

            1. Lizzo*

              Actually, I believe the proper technique is to spray and then leap through the cloud like a gazelle.

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          If it’s a spray, it helps to spritz a cotton ball and then dab your skin with it, instead of spraying directly on your skin. It tames most smells that might have too much projection.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Wait do people actually put perfume on their clothes? I was always told that would create stains.

        1. Blue*

          I do. Fragrance isn’t great for your skin, and my family is predisposed to fragnce sensitivities, so I ways out it on my clothes if I can. I’d pefer not to though because people do talk about how the fragrance reacting with your specific skin chemistry can transform it into something new and sometimes better, but oh well.

        2. E. Chauvelin*

          I buy perfumes from an indie company that has most of their scents available in oil or eau de parfums (which are alcohol based). EDPs don’t stain and a lot of people will put them on their clothes so it will last longer. Oils will stain clothing. Oils also tend to stay closer to the skin, so I deliberately buy mostly oils so that my scents won’t bother other people unless they are way more up in my business than coworkers or random passersby should be.

      3. Internist*

        Exactly – people should only be able to smell your perfume if they are close enough with you to exchange a hug. Anyone who stands further away shouldn’t smell much, and that way you won’t have to worry about irritating or offending.

    2. Bazza7*

      Don’t over do it. People to also think of are asthmatics. I am also going through menopause, and what I like has changed, I have thrown all mine out.
      Just for record, Lovely perfume by Sarah Jessica Parker smells the same on everyone, I always wish she had done a toilette version as well.
      Also do the like the smell of these perfumes, have you worn them? Why did they give them to you, did you already wear them? Perfume is quite a personal gift to give someone.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Thank you for the recommendations.

        It’s a bit of a joke with my partner that his Mom must think I’m under-made-up and possibly smelly, because she consistantly gifts me perfume, make-up and nail painting sundry. I suspect that’s a uncharitable of us, however, because she really enjoys beauty culture and I think she is just excited to share it.

        I’m confident my Mom doesn’t think I’m smelly, because she would tell me bluntly to my face — but she has two perfumes she loves (Bond No. 9 and another one from some French boutique in my home city) and she has gifted those to me and my sisters. I do actually really like the boutique one, it’s very subtle and not too floral (sandalwood in it, I think). That’s the one I do feel a desire to wear.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          Yes often gifts like these are from a pov that they are luxuries you might not buy yourself. I don’t know about the US but over here perfume can get really expensive, the “proper” ones anyway.

          1. PhyllisB*

            All this reminds me of a Christmas a few years ago. I found a fragrance set that had sample bottles of about 8 different fragrances. I bought one for all the young women in the family. They were thrilled!! But none so much as my son’s girlfriend; she had never had any perfume before. (I was shocked, she was in her mid twenties.) She sat there and put on some of EACH one. That’s eight different fragrances at once. Needless to say she was quite aromatic the rest of the day. LOL. I did tell her that it might be better to just wear one at a time.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Asthmatic here. A light scent wouldn’t cause me a problem–it’s when you’re surrounded in a cloud that it hits me the same way strong cleanser hanging in the air does.

        Echoing Expiring Cat Memes’ point about how you smell it less and less, so don’t compensate by squirting on more and more.

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, this asthmatic reacts to perfume that wafts through the air. I’m chemically sensitive and want to thank all in this thread who are chiming in about being considerate to folks like me. Much appreciated!

        So many people pile on scents without being clear about how it affects others. A recent example was getting on an elevator completely alone. But someone’s perfume still filled the air. A neighbor of mine wears such a strong scent that I smelled it on my clothes after she and I shared a space for just a couple minutes.

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Don’t wear it the way teenage boys wear Axe deodorant. I’ve definitely known people who wore so much perfume it felt like getting whacked in the face every time they walked by – and I’m not sensitive to scents.

      You could also opt to not wear it daily in case someone in your workplace might be sensitive to it (assuming you’re in-person) but keep it for your free time or when you’re spending more time outside.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        This. The longer you have the same fragrance, the less you will be able to smell it. So don’t go by your own sense of smell, stick to 1-2 spritzes max, which should always be plenty.

        A woman got seated a few tables over from us at a café last weekend and she had totally Axed it. My eyes were watering, I’ve never finished up my meal so fast.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Lord yes on the Axe. I have four grandsons. As each one got out of the Axe phase, here was the next one. Riding in a car with them was torture. The youngest boy is nearly twelve now, so maybe not much longer. Middle school teachers deserve a medal. Or maybe a gas mask?

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Gah, yes. At one old workplace, a coworker always wore so much cologne we could tell when he walked in the door. And at another, someone I never saw left a lingering presence in the elevator every day. I used to think if Elevator Person ever became a ghost haunting any particular place, you’d only need to sniff to know if they were manifesting.

    4. Virginia Plain*

      If someone can smell your perfume when socially distant then you are wearing too much! And if someone is close enough to smell a normal amount of perfume then you obviously know them well enough to know if they get migraines from it. Most people aren’t bothered by perfume if it hasn’t been splashed around like an enthusiastic painter emulating Jackson Pollock!

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Most people aren’t bothered by perfume if it hasn’t been splashed around like an enthusiastic painter emulating Jackson Pollock!

        LOL. Love that, thank you!

    5. allathian*

      Depends a lot on your workplace. Mine is officially scent-free, meaning no perfume, or aftershave. I haven’t heard of any bans on scented laundry detergent. I have a fairly sensitive nose, and I’ve had to switch seats on the commuter train when someone’s used too much scent. Fahrenheit and Chanel no 5 are migraine triggers for me.

      Personally I don’t really see the point of wearing perfume, because if you wear it regularly, you’ll no longer be able to smell it on yourself except right after applying it, and if others can smell it on you from 6 feet away, you’re wearing too much…

      1. un-pleased*

        That assumes people only wear one fragrance, and that smelling good isn’t a thing that people do for themselves. Fragrance can be like other forms of self-care or a process of discovering the use of a sensory input that isn’t often a huge focus in Western cultures except as it pertains to personal hygiene. People also rotate scents and taking breaks precisely so that one doesn’t become noseblind. Done lightly it doesn’t have to be invasive, but of course one wouldn’t wear it in an officially scent-free environment..

        1. allathian*

          That’s a fair point. Some people do have a favorite scent, to the point that it’s a part of their personal brand, and will wear only that one. For example, my maternal grandmother to my knowledge only ever wore a lily of the valley scent. She was a farmer’s wife, and I doubt she even wore deodorant, and for most of her life probably bathed in the sauna on Saturdays and before any special occasions. But when she went to church on Sunday, or went downtown to shop, which she used to do a few times a year, she’d wear her Sunday clothes and that scent. Lily of the valley scents aren’t very popular anymore, and it’s certainly not a young person’s scent. But whenever I smell it in the air, I think of my grandmother, and she died 25 years ago…

    6. Constance Lloyd*

      I do a single spritz at the nape of my neck. It gives it a bit more staying power because it absorbs into your hair, but it doesn’t result in a stronger or overpowering smell. It’s still subtle enough I need to hug someone for them to notice it, but the scent is still there at the end of the day.

    7. HannahS*

      I think it’s polite to consider not wearing perfume when you know you’re going to be in close quarters with a stranger–so, for example, I wouldn’t wear perfume to the symphony, because the person next to me can’t change seats and is very close to me for three hours, but I would to go out to dinner, because the people at other tables are farther away. (I mean, it’s COVID so I don’t do either of those things but I would if I could.)

      I think the general rule that it’s really meant to be be smelled by people who are within hugging distance. If someone is within hugging distance and can’t move farther away (like at a concert with assigned seating,) keep to less-scented products. Otherwise? Have a light hand, apply it to your skin (I use my neck,) and enjoy.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I was at a concert once for a singer I’d loved for decades, and I was so excited! But I kept getting distracted by a woman in the row in front of me, a few seats down, who was wearing perfume. The problem wasn’t that it was strong – it was that I wanted to climb over the people between us so I could lick her neck! I’ve never had that impulse before or since. Dang, she smelled wonderful!

    8. Can't think of a funny name*

      Less is more lol. I really hate perfumes, cannot handle the smell at any level. Not a big deal if I can walk away but in closed spaces it’s more of a problem.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        And none is best LOL!
        My husband hates perfumes, so I never wear them. Also, multiple medical conditions are aggravated by the smell. I hope you’re never in a perfume-y place you can’t leave.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Nobody should be able to smell you unless they are close enough to touch you, and they should not be able to smell you coming or after you leave.

      So for me, that would be like on a plane, as someone else mentioned a concert, etc.

      I don’t count public transport because those are usually brief rides with many options to move away.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I used to have a 50 minute ride to/from work on the Long Island Rail Road. Some times that was crowded enough that we couldn’t fall over if we tried. Other people’s cologne & perfume was inescapable….those days I got regular migraines.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, obviously that would be neither brief nor have many options to move away, so it’s not what I was referring to?

          I presume that if OP were in that situation, they would know it.

          1. As per Elaine*

            I used to have a 15-20 minute subway commute, and it got full enough that I couldn’t easily move away multiple times a week. On a strongly scented day, I could definitely be somewhat headachy by the time I got off.

    10. Decidedly Me*

      I can get headaches and otherwise feel not good when people near me are strongly perfumed. I feel it’s common courtesy to not use it when you’ll be in close quarters (plane, movie theater, etc) and not use it to the extent that it’s noticeable to others in non-close quarters.

    11. the cat's ass*

      HCW here, and i’m in a fragrance free office, and all of our washables are washed with unscented detergent. This was at the request of a patient with multiple chemical sensitivities about a decade ago. I think any place outside of health care offices is okay if it’s applied with a very light hand. But that’s just me!

    12. Deschain*

      Thank you for your kindness in thinking of others. I have asthma and chronic migraine with vertigo, and smells are my number two cause (after visual stimulation, number 3 is sound). I can’t open windows at home or in my car. It’s almost impossible to go in stores. I don’t expect people to cater to me at all since mine is so severe, but I appreciate that there are lovely people like you who think of others. It’s so heartwarming to read!!

    13. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I get scent-triggered migraines, but I like wearing perfume (and using scented candles, etc.). On a good day, I’m fine and only certain scents or really strong ones affect me. On a bad day, even light scents can hit me like a brick. As a result, I’ve had to request that my workplace be scent-free, because others don’t know if I’m extra sensitive on any given day.

      When I wear a perfume myself, my general rule is to NOT wear it to places people can’t opt out of. Not to work, or the grocery store, bank, pharmacy. I reserve it for social events (haha), outdoors, and at home or close friend’s houses. It does mean I don’t wear it often, but I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing it just for myself and my SO. (Semi-related, I’ve been getting into the mindset of using/wearing fancy stuff, even at home, because *I* like them instead of because other people like them).

      If you want to wear it to work, ask around! Check with HR or your work manual first, to make sure it’s not already a scent-free place, then ask the people you sit closet to, and the ones you need to talk to a lot. If they all say it’s ok, then use a light amount, and check with them again in a few days. I suggest using the same scripts you would use for burning a candle or spraying air freshener. For most places, it will be fine!

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I used to wear perfumes but I no longer bother.
      What happened was my allergies escalated for me. I ditched the perfume and things dropped back.

      Part of the problem with fragrances is that the wearer gets used to them and needs more and more in order to be able to even smell it. Sometimes the wearer also had laundry detergent fragrance, shampoo fragrance and so on that they already carry. (I remember my husband was given some shirts from a family member. I had to wash them five times before I got the fragrance beat back. The shirts even felt “yucky”- like coated somehow.)

      One of the worst places to me for fragrance is church or a meeting where people have to sit in proximity of each other for extended periods of time. There’s a person at church who, I think, bathes in it before service. smh.

      Just my opinion and probably most do not agree, I think it’s just easier to abandon use of fragrances. Because I agree there is no way to know if people are uncomfortable.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        The issue with that is then we’ll have people complaining of certain more natural smells, mainly because we have started associating the scent of sweat with poor hygiene rather than “it’s hot you turnip what do you expect other than sweat”. And given how weird human bodies can be, I have no doubt people will start developing/noticing medical issues triggered by those scents. Who knows, maybe scent-free products have issues for other people that we don’t know about, and so on and so forth.

    15. Anony*

      I live outside the US and always think it’s interesting how much of an issue this seems to be in the States (at least according to the AAM commenters), but where I live wearing perfume and cologne is very common. People tend to use a heavier hand too. The heavy scents used to bother me when I first moved here but I’m used to it now.

      1. Bennie*

        Just hopping on to say that you should definitely assume this is particular to AAM. There’s a lively fragrance culture here, and while there are fragrance free offices, they are in a small minority and usually are responding to a particular person’s needs.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Oh, it’s not the States as a whole at all.

        Take a look through the archive and see if you can find the salary/job survey which IIRC also had demographic data. The AAM commentariat is a pretty specific niche, in terms of subculture.

        1. pancakes*

          Middle and upper middle class white collar workers aren’t subculture, lol. I do think people with scent sensitivities and people with strong preferences about office life are probably over-represented here in terms of how much of the general public they resemble, but that’s another matter.

      3. Batgirl*

        I’m not in the US, and my partner is very scent sensitive. There isn’t anybody in his circle who knows this besides me and he doesn’t feel the culture will approve, or someone will feel he could just “get used to it”, so he just distances himself or suffers. Working from home has been a godsend.

    16. Elf*

      I frequently have trouble with migraines from people wearing scents. Be especially cautious wearing them in other people’s houses or anywhere you will be in contact with something upholstered. My husband gave someone a ride and the cologne settled in the upholstery and I couldn’t use that car for about a month.

    17. Little Miss Sunshine*

      I think you can safely use a modest amount of fragrance in most situations. I have always worn perfume becasue I enjoy it, and only refrain from using at certain doctor’s offices. A light spritz on your pulse points (neck and wrist) goes a long way.

      Beauty products that you don’t plan to use can be regifted to a women’s shelter. Men’s and children’s products are welcomed too (usually) for the children of women in the shelter, or for families getting transitional housing assistance (depending on the shelter).

    18. Donna DeLuca*

      It’s a hard truth that more and more of us suffer from chemical sensitivities. If the perfumes they have given you contain artificial ingredients they are more likely to make others sick. Subtle scent usage is definitely a good social guideline.

    19. I don’t post often*

      Hello! Coming here to offer a different opinion. I don’t understand why everything in society has to be scented. I come from a family of people that have weird reactions to smells. Ear pain, neck pain, throats pain, hip pain, scratchy ears, jaw pain.
      I had a new cleaner in my house this week. I woke up at 2am with my jaw throbbing- she had used scented trash bags. (I mean, WHY?).
      So I, for one, very much appreciate everyone that DOES NOT wear a scent.

      1. Girasol*

        Thanks to covid shopping issues I have been introduced to scented trashbags. What an abomination!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I can’t decide if it’s better or worse than the scented toilet paper I remember from the 1970s. All our parents seem to have started buying it at the same time and us kids thought it was hysterical. (Fourth grade potty humor, man, it’s universal.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I bought some accidentally a couple of months ago. There was a sale and I didn’t look closely at the label. Then I kept wondering, what is that smell and where is it coming from?! It took me a little bit to figure it out. Fake lavender, blech.

            1. Kay*

              Oh my gosh – this just happened to me! It was either the raze the virgin forest type or this other brand. Apparently, it comes with everlasting scent – it took me a while to figure out what had gone wrong in my house.

        2. Rose Absolute*

          I’ll see your scented trashbags and raise you … scented dog-poo bags. Vanilla scented yet!

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Honestly we once bought those accidentally and I really don’t understand the point. Fake lavender (which I can only assume was created by someone who had never been near actual lavender) really doesn’t do anything to cover up doggie-doo smell (which I’m honestly glad for because that fake lavender is horrendous)

      2. Batgirl*

        I would love it if they stopped over scenting ordinary detergent and go back to how they used to be. I don’t want to smell like lillies and black diamonds! Why would anyone want to smell like the cheapest possible perfume? How can you know if it smells clean underneath all that? I use strictly unscented stuff for my partner’s migraines but they are all highly specialised and for some reason don’t have great cleaning power. I can make my own, which does a good job, but I honestly don’t see why I should have to.

      3. moonstone*

        I have eczema and am allergic to artificial scents plus I don’t like them. No perfumes, air fresheners, or scented candles for me! I know there are growing number of me out there and I’m just waiting for Febreze and Glade to go out of business.

      4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I didn’t not realise that scented trash bags were even a thing! How annoying.

        1. As per Elaine*

          I’ve only started seeing them in the past five years or so, I think, but within the past three-ish it’s started to become challenging to find unscented ones sometimes. The cheap grocery store still has a decent selection, but the convenient grocery store sometimes only has one kind that aren’t scented, stuffed down on a low shelf somewhere.

          It’s a good thing I’m not particular about what sort of handles the bag has.

    20. bratschegirl*

      I’m one of those who is highly sensitive to fragrances; headaches, watering eyes, sneezing, etc. All my professional musical workplaces are officially, by contract, entirely fragrance-free. The occasional guest artist doesn’t get the memo, and when one is under stage lighting and working hard, it’s amazing how far the scent carries.

      In the area where I live, it’s pretty unusual to encounter someone wearing fragrance. The custom has become to keep perfumes out of the office and other places where you will be in close quarters with those who can’t easily get away, like theaters.

    21. beach read*

      It was good and right of you to consider others when wearing fragrance. I can tell you from seeing my younger sister suffer so badly with her allergies to perfume, the fear is not overblown. She had co-workers outright refuse to stop wearing it when management told them about her situation and asked for people to work with her with the issue. Every day at work, terrible headaches. She is super sensitive to scent, be it a candle, shampoo, food, whatever but perfume is the worst. Please know that there are many people who suffer from this and thank you for thinking of others.

      1. Observer*

        What happened to your sister was abominable. Whatever the OP decides to do about wearing scent in general, I can’t imagine that she will go from where she is at to being just incredibly selfish, and even cruel.

    22. MEH Squared*

      Late to the party, but I wanted to chime in. I’m allergic to almost every scent on earth (I sometimes joke that I’m allergic to air), and I appreciate when people keep it very light. Basically, if I can smell it, it’s going to bother me. Most are just irritating, but some actually make it difficult for me to breathe. So thank you for thinking of others as you find a scent you like!

    23. Love to WFH*

      I’m not super sensitive, thank heavens, so ordinary levels of scent in lotions, shampoos etc don’t bother me; however, perfume is torture. Body sprays, men’s cologne, and perfume all kick my sinuses into overdrive and make me miserable.

      The nightmare is when I can’t move away — airplane, theatre seats, and the like.

      I’m really grateful when people don’t wear scent.

    24. Sniffy*

      There are a growing number of us out here who are really sensitive to perfumes. I frankly wish people would not wear them at all.

    25. Catherine*

      Re “less is more,” because I enjoy perfume, I make sure to use unscented detergent, bodywash, lotion, deodorant, etc. I want to smell like my perfume, not five different scents jangled together. Thinking about how other scents “on” me might layer or muffle or intensify my overall smell is pretty important for how I approach it.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        That’s a very good point. I generally try to avoid scented products because I don’t always want the scent myself — but I see how limiting these in general could make it more permissible to use perfume

    26. Batgirl*

      I’ve seen my partner screaming in pain after an encounter with a stranger’s perfume. Before meeting him I had no idea migraines could be like that, so I think your stance is unbelievably kind and considerate. Even I can wear perfume though, so I believe that so can you! The golden rules are: 1) make sure that your perfume is “misting” and you’re not wearing concentrated globs of it. 2) wear it on warm skin out of the shower, so it can diffuse and not end up on clothing or other textiles, and 3) be aware of those in close proximity. If you’re going to be on a plane etc it might be better to play it safe. The places that hit my partner the hardest are lifts (elevators) and crowded escalators because he can’t get away before it kicks him off. I think perfumes which are heavy, are best used with an admirer of said perfume when you’re alone!

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Thanks for those practical tips. I think part of the issue is that (not being a regular scent wearer) it’s hard for me to know what it means to apply in such a way that only someone hugging me would pick up on it.

        It sounds like some good rules of thumb would be: only for special occasion, only in large or open spaces, and worn very lightly.

    27. Jean (just Jean)*

      One more “yes” here from the please-consider-the-folks-allergic-to-fragrance crowd! A close relative loses their voice and has an asthmatic episode (diminished lung capacity) in reaction to fragrance. I understand that scents can be enjoyable to their users, but IMHO it’s more important that bystanders can breathe.

      As for the industries that insist on perfuming trash bags, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, plug-in fragrance dispensers, I have no words, just amazement that something so unnecessary can be transformed into an essential feature.

    28. Observer*

      I think that it’s fine to use scent in reasonable amounts. Severe scent sensitivity is not THAT common that you need to assume that wherever you go there is likely to be someone who is going to become ill in some way because of your scent.

      I do think that the others are right that the key to this is to keep the amount of scent in check. Like so many other things, for the vast majority of the world, “the dose makes the poison”.

      And, of course, none of this matters in a situation where you have reason to know that someone does have an issue. Like, if you get a memo that one of your coworkers gets symptoms from very minor amounts of scent, then you obviously don’t wear scent. But for the ordinary day to day, I don’t think you need to worry about it.

      1. Rose Absolute*

        I am something of a perfume hoarder (seventy-odd at the last count, not including the testers) and love to wear it most of the time. However, I’m always conscious of the effect on those around me who might have allergies/be asthmatic/just hate a particular scent. I wouldn’t, for example, wear original Opium to work – and only lightly elsewhere, as it’s rich, incensy and has considerable throw.

        Whoever mentioned Sarah Jessica Parker’s ‘Lovely’ as a good work choice is spot on and I’ve had good feedback when wearing Philosophy ‘Amazing Grace. They are both light floral musks which stay close rather than scream SCENT! far and wide. I’m also planning to try out some of Shay and Blue’s fruity florals – Blackberry Woods and Black Tulip are low key and smell like comforting desserts.

    29. moonstone*

      I think the mistake people make us spraying it on their clothes vs on their skin, plus spraying too much. I hate the smell of perfume until this day because my mom would spray a ton of perfume on her clothes, and then if we were in the same car to go somewhere would refuse to open the windows per my begging and insist on having the AC on, ensuring that the perfume smell circulated in the small car. It would make me nauseous.

      1. moonstone*

        Forgot the rest of my comment.
        So yeah, it turns out that my mom was wearing perfume wrong – you’re only meant to wear a little but on your wrists or behind your ears.

    30. MaryLoo*

      Some groups I’m involved with (recreational groups, being vague for anonymity) request “no fragrances” at their events. There are more people than you realize who are sensitive to fragrances.

    31. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You don’t know who has allergies or sensitivities. And I suspect that it’s becoming far more common. In my small office of less than 20 people, there are 2 of us who have problems with at least some fragrances. However, if you want to wear perfume, less is more. And if someone tells you its an issue, believe them.

  9. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Less definitely is better! Some people wear so much fragrance they could leave a puddle if they stood still. They’re so used to their perfume, they can’t smell it unless they take a bath in it.

    Try this: Apply a half-squirt to your wrist, inner elbow, behind your knee, or base of your throat. Add a second location if you like, but don’t apply to all of your pulse points at once.

    Maybe try this, too: Before you get dressed, spray one squirt in front of you and walk through it.

    1. sagewhiz*

      This. The mantra is “Spray, delay, walk away.” As in, spritz the air in front of you (once!), wait a beat, then walk thru the misted area.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Oops, I thought I was responding to the thread about perfume. But I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who knows about this technique.

  10. Camellia*

    In light of the post earlier this week, let’s do a “What’s the most astounding first impression of your SO’s parent(s)” thread.

    I’ll post mine in the comments.

    1. Camellia*

      Warning: mentions of child abuse

      I met my husband nearly 20 years ago at a book signing at a now defunct bookstore, when we were both 35+ years old. We sat in the bookstore’s café and talked for nearly three hours. It was a very honest conversation. We both shared that we had grown up in abusive families. That my mother (had been) and his mother (still is) emotionally crippled, incapable of love or even a smidgen of empathy, only able to see others and events as they related to themselves and their own pain. And that his father had served prison time for molesting his eight daughters, after the youngest one grew up enough and got brave enough to tell a teacher at school what was happening at home. Let me add that my husband is intelligent, with an IQ of 147, and is also the most brilliant EQ person I have ever met – he can instantly access and interpret his own feelings and has such insight into others that he often seems psychic.

      After we had been dating a few weeks, his mother called him to come and check something out on her computer. After introductions, the instant he stepped out of the room, she turned to me and said, “Did he tell you that his dad cheated on me? That he cheated on me WITH HIS OWN DAUGHTERS?!?!”

      I was not at all surprised that she would put this interpretation on those tragic events. I calmly looked her in the eye and said, “Yes.”

      Totally took the wind out of her sails. I don’t remember the conversation after that, but we didn’t stay long. He continues to restrict contact with the toxic members of his very large family, including her, and we’ve lived across the country from her due to my job for the last fourteen years, much to our delight.

      1. Camellia*

        Side note: The next day when I was telling my best friend about this man that I met at the bookstore last night, I said, “You gotta love a man who can use the word ‘commiserate’ correctly in a sentence.” And I was right. We were married 11 months later.

        1. ECHM*

          Lol! The evening I met my future sister-in-law, she used “onomatopoeia” in a sentence and I asked my brother how soon he was going to marry her!

      2. Virginia Plain*

        She sounds like a treat. Imagine being so self centred your main issue with incest and child sexual abuse is that’s it’s adulterous if the offender is married…

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Well in her mind, if she can make it all about his fault that he cheated on her then she doesn’t have to deal with her own failings as a mother in recognising the abuse and protecting her daughters.

    2. Virginia Plain*

      We arrived at my OH’s mum’s late, and she had gone to bed (which was fine) so my first impression was of her house. Which had a large freezing cold spare room with a SINGLE BED (my OH was on the sofa which he was prepared for but it was early in our relationship and he was about to be deployed so I was a bit disappointed not to be getting a cuddle!) then at 0700 on a Saturday the curtains opened BY THEMSELVES – they were on some sort of electric system with a timer switch like for lights. When I found out the shower was out of action so I was going to have to have a bath and wash my hair with a plastic cup, I was all but in tears!

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Wider family count or are we just doing parents?

      First time I met my ex’s niece (maybe 6 or 7 at the time) she burst in ahead of anyone else and was startled to find someone new in the living room. It was only the 2 of us there at the time and I said “Hi! I’m Cat, I’m Uncle’s new girlfriend.” She digests that for a moment, tells me her name and then launches herself at me in a full bone crushing hug.

      Uncle himself turned out to be a bit of a twit, but his family (nieces especially) are gorgeous.

      1. Pippa K*

        That’s sweet! In a similar vein, I went to visit a friend I hadn’t seen a few years, who had a 4-year-old daughter I’d never met. Long international flight, arrived late at night badly jetlagged, friend immediately tucked me up in bed. At the crack of dawn I was woken by a small girl barrelling into the room and flinging herself onto the bed shouting “Auntieeeee!” It was certainly a warm welcome :-)

      2. I take tea*

        I have done the surprise hug once when I was a student. My then partner and I had invited my good friend and a friend of his to my partner’s parents cottage for a festival thing. I didn’t dare to tell them that I had never met this friend before, so when they came I just hugged them both equally hard.

    4. Morning reader*

      This happened after my (former) SO met my FOO for the first time. He was expounding upon psychological insights he had apparently learned about me. I was irritated and exclaimed, “Not fair, your parents are dead!” as if that were some kind of advantage…. Oops.

    5. Morning reader*

      Family story of the first time my dad was invited to dinner at my mom’s mother’s house, when they were dating. Her mother served liver and onions, and, he ate it!

      This story was always told as a romantic sign of my father’s devotion to my mother, that he would suffer such a thing for her. But now, looking back at it, I wonder… who serves liver and onions to a prospective son-in-law at first meeting? Was my grandmother a big glass bowl? (I remember her as sweet and loving, and this would be out of character.) I wish any of those people were around now so I could ask. Did they show up unexpectedly and this was what she happened to be having for dinner? Or did she plan it? And why?

      (Suppose I should just count myself lucky to be born. In my dad’s place I woulda been outta there!)

      1. UKDancer*

        Perhaps she really liked liver and onions. I certainly do and cook it fairly often for myself. Also it’s cheaper than other meat in most UK supermarkets so when I was at the start of my career and not earning very much I used to eat it fairly often because I could afford it when I couldn’t afford other more expensive red meat.

        And now I’m craving lambs liver with bacon and onions. Hmm, I wonder if the butcher has any in.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My mother was forced to eat liver as a child and swore she would never cook it. And she hasn’t, and I’ve never had it. Don’t particularly want it, after working in a chicken restaurant where I had to handle/sort raw livers and gizzards. >_<

      2. Hippeas*

        I have only ever heard the term glass bowl (referring to a person) today, and today I’ve read it twice on two different sites. Off to Google what it means!

        1. RagingADHD*

          It’s a euphemism for “asshole” to protect the delicate sensibilities of sites that filter out naughty words.

      3. Catherine*

        I feel like there’s a cultural thing here that I’m not understanding. What is the problem with liver and onions?

        1. Clisby*

          It wouldn’t be any problem for me – on one of our family vacations, I ate liver and onions on 3 occasions because I like it so much. However, I think a lot of people don’t like it, including my husband and two children, so it wouldn’t be my go-to if I were expecting a guest whose food preferences I didn’t know.

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          It has a strong, distinctive flavor that a great many people REALLY don’t like. It’s an unusual/odd choice to serve to guests whose preferences you don’t know.

    6. Jay*

      I am Jewish and grew up in the NYC area. Hubs was not raised Jewish – his parents lived in upstate NY and were of New England stock. The first time I met them we went to visit for spring break and it was serious culture shock. No napkins on the table (never did figure out why that was but my MIL to. her dying day did not use them), no drinks with dinner (FIL believes it is not healthy to drink liquids with your meal) and strangest of all at the beginning of the meal there was NO CONVERSATION. Everyone sat and ate in complete silence. This does not happen in my family. Not ever. Finally my FIL spoke to me – to tell me that the part of NY where I lived should not actually be part of the state because the city is “demographically so completely different” from the rest of the state with “culture and values” that are not the same. Um, OK, and let’s just ignore the fact that the “culture and values” you’re so unhappy about are connected to the largest Jewish community in the world.

      The second time we visited I found out that my mother-in-law received an allowance – he gave her a set amount of money every month. When I heard that I had to leave the room. I actually left the house and went for a walk because OMG. A grown woman had an allowance. I was already determined to be financially independent and that pretty much cemented it.

      1. fried eggplants*

        Not quite the same, but similar. I’m Jewish, hubs is not, and from protestant stock, southern US. Not the first time I met his parents, but on one extended visit everyone was in the living room …. silent, just sitting around not reading or doing anything. I kept trying to make conversation, because … in my culture, you have conversations with your family members. Apparently, in his culture you need to sit around in companionable silence. We joke about it now, but I still find it weird.

        1. Jay*

          SO weird. Still, to me. And somewhat anxiety-provoking. In my family if people aren’t talking to you it’s because they’re angry.

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          My SIL and her family are like this. Her sister is fairly outgoing and will chat with people, but the rest of them will just…sit there. Honestly, I find that rude. Just sitting and not saying a word to people in a social setting, to me, says that you’re not enjoying their company.

      2. NancyDrew*

        Oh my goodness. I have the opposite, which is that my husband’s family is Jewish (but not from NY) and literally sit in silence constantly. I don’t even know why my MIL visits us, as she truly will sit on the couch and read a book with the lights off and nobody talking. I come from a talky family and I am constantly baffled by their lack of interest in discussion of any kind.

        True story: we went to visit her for a family dinner — the first and only she’s ever hosted, and I’ve known her 10 years now — and everyone (my husband, her, my husband’s brother, his wife, their daughter) acted as though my MIL’s husband (husband’s stepdad) just…wasn’t there. They truly treated him like he was invisible. It was so bad that I genuinely started to worry I was seeing a ghost because his presence at the dinner table went so completely unregistered.

        Families are weird, man.

    7. UKDancer*

      Nothing terribly exciting from my experience. My last ex had fairly normal parents. The only really weird thing was the bathroom door didn’t have a lock on so I spent my time petrified that someone was going to walk in on me on the toilet. And his father had the TV on all the time which is probably not unusual but I only ever had the TV on when I wanted to watch something (not very often), not as a constant background noise so I wondered how anyone made themselves heard over that racket.

        1. Cj*

          I’ve never been in one without locks. I’m in the Midwest, in case anybody wants to compare if it’s regional.

          1. Owler*

            Midwestern childhood, 1960s-era homes: no locks that I recall.
            PNW, 1900s-1930s homes: also no locks. Or perhaps I just don’t look for locks since I didn’t grow up with them? We all assume that if the door is closed, someone is in there.

          1. pancakes*

            I’ve been in residential ones with and without, but I’ve never been to dinner at someone’s house (or whatnot) and worried that they’ll just barge into a bathroom with a closed door if there isn’t a lock to stop them. Who does that?! I see there’s one commenter below whose mom doesn’t even think there should be a door, but that is not the norm.

            1. Blue Eagle*

              There was a lock on our bathroom door but we weren’t allowed to use it. You just knocked on the closed door and asked if anyone was in there and how much longer they would be. The only time this was a problem was when I was about 8 and my uncle tried the door and walked in on my on the toilet. Obviously he didn’t know about the knocking protocol. Oops.

          2. fposte*

            I wonder if it’s more common in houses where people had young kids and left (or took) the locks off in case the kid locked themselves in the bathroom?

            1. Elizabeth West*

              The bedroom and bathroom doors in my childhood home had those doorknobs with a thumb latch on the inside and a hole on the outside. We were supposed to leave them unlocked when in the bathroom in case we slipped or something. You could use a pointy curtain hook or a nail to get into them fairly easily, and my parents kept a curtain hook on the bookcase in the hall just in case one of us was locked in and started crying.

        2. UKDancer*

          I don’t know. I’m in the UK and I’ve never been in a house without locks on the bathroom door (none of those belonging to my family or any of my friends). They’re just a thing you have. That’s why the absence struck me as odd.

          1. Batgirl*

            I’m in the UK and I’ve seen bathrooms both with locks, and without. I grew up with both options (at different times), and when there isn’t a lock you just have to be aware of that and to use a protocol. Ours was that if the door was closed over, it was occupied. My mother thought it was a good habit to teach children (don’t barge into toilets), but when we got older and had more guests over she put a lock on.

        3. California Dreamin’*

          In my experience they always have locks. Weird tidbit: My mother has a quirk where she doesn’t care at all about closing the bathroom door (not at a party or something, but she doesn’t feel a need for privacy in the bathroom at home.) Years ago when she remodeled her master bath, she designed it with no door even existing. Like it’s just open to the bedroom. Her partner didn’t like it and would use the guest bath. I don’t know why he even allowed it to be built that way since it was his house, too. She just doesn’t get the idea that most people want to close the door sometimes. I don’t know how much trouble this is going to cause when we eventually sell the house. I think it would be a dealbreaker for me!

          1. Ginger Pet Lady*

            When we were shopping for our last house, because of the price range, area, and size requirements on our list, most of the homes that met our needs were built in the 1990s. And *most* of them did not have bathroom doors! They would have a bathroom behind a turn in the hall or something. I was truly amazed at how common it was.
            My partner works rotating shifts, and I work on call so maybe 5 times a week one of us gets up and showers in the middle of the night, so doors are a necessity to keep light and sound separate.
            Our real estate agent was so excited one time that she found us one with a door! Only….the bathroom and bedroom shared a vaulted ceiling and the bathroom walls were only about 10 ft high, so light and sound would still be an issue.
            She thought we were so weird making a door to the ensuite a required feature.

            1. California Dreamin’*

              This explains a lot because my mom’s doorless remodel would’ve been late 90s.

            2. DinosaurWrangler*

              I’ve never seen or even heard of a bathroom without a door. That’s just ridiculously weird!

          2. Jackalope*

            Even when I lived alone and didn’t care about having the door closed for privacy reasons, I wanted it closed when bathing to keep the room warm. Otherwise the shower or bath feels awfully cold.

        4. Maggie*

          I don’t think that’s regional. I’ve never been to someone’s home without locks in the bathroom and I have family and friends in many different states and regions.

          1. Lady Danbury*

            This, except expanded to multiple countries as well. I’ve visited family/friends in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico and multiple Caribbean countries and never seen a bathroom without a lock.

            Growing up, my siblings and I had a mini library in our bathroom and could spend hours in there because it was the only room with a lock!

        5. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t have a lock here, but I do have a dog who has figured out how to open a closed door. Fortunately there is a drawer just inside the door. I tell people to close the door and open the drawer a smidge. This prevents the door from swinging open more than an inch. Not everyone bothers to open the drawer.

          Growing up we had a lock on the bathroom door. There was something wrong with the lock because we all had turns getting locked IN the bathroom. It was so weird. Sometimes the lock jammed and you could not get out. This went on. At one time, I got locked in the gift shop at West Point because they turned the lights out while I was still in the bathroom. I was about 9-10 y/o. I started screaming when I stepped out of the rest room and they turned the lights back on. And that sealed the deal for me- if I do not have to lock a bathroom door then I don’t.

        6. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex (she/her)*

          which region? I grew up in the midwest and have lived in new england the bulk of my adult life; have lived in latin america as well; rarely been in a bathroom whose door you couldn’t lock? i can’t just be in someone else’s house peeing with an unlocked door…

    8. Anonwhimissesmil*

      A past significant other. We were visiting his hometown. His mom was my dream mom. She had two bookcases full of cookbooks. She was taking a cake decorating class for fun. On the weekend they had bloody Mary’s and piped npr to the speakers on the patio. She had been married twice before and all the iterations of family got together for meals when the grown kids came home to visit.
      My mom and my mil are a lot. I still have little daydream of the one that got away. Not the sig other but the potential mil.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I so relate to this! Mom of the ex just before DH was a real keeper, smart, funny, engaging, great gift giver, loved to entertain and get people together. When my relationship with her son (who unfortunately resembled his dad in personality) ended i was the saddest about losing her as a potential MIL!

    9. Shanderson*

      SO ( now husband of 8+!) lived in an apartment owned by parents in a large multi unit (three units, they lived on top floor, he lived on bottom with a NON FAMILY roommate, we were only early 20’s and in University so fair). Why did I all-caps non-family roommate? First morning after staying at his place I excited his bedroom to find future MIL in *his* living room folding her laundry.

      Yes, she knew I was there, and had still decided that this was a good idea.

      No, she did *not* habitually do her laundry in this not-her apartment because my SO lived with someone else whose space it also was.

      I only drifted out in my nightie because SO assured me that roomie was away for the weekend.. which MIL also knew.

      This was followed by a pressure to join them for breakfast because “we already made pancakes we want to meeeeett heeeerr”. Lots of boundary issues that took years to interrupt, and I still frequently just feel wrong footed with this woman.

      Small potatoes for sure, but annoying as fuck small potatoes.

    10. Anima*

      My mother in law liked her plate IN THE RESTAURANT at out first meeting. Granted the food was exceptional, but you don’t do that. But I was delighted, having never met my first in laws for reasons I never understood and having very catholic possible in-laws the boyfriend before. It just showed me she’s quirky as I am. Also, she’s divorced (happily married again), I am too, so I did not get a constant catholic side eye. I am friendly bordering on friends with all my in laws now.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Oh, *licked* her plate, ha ha! That’s equal parts awful and adorable. Such enthusiasm!

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      When I first met my MIL, when my husband and I had just started dating at age 20, greeted me like a long lost family member and instantly took me under her wing. A few weeks later, she randomly gave me a gift-a silk negligee. She just saw the color and thought it was pretty, and didn’t think twice about whether a revealing piece of lingerie was an appropriate gift for her son’s new, just-past-teenage girlfriend. This immediately set the tone for 30 years of warm friendliness and absolutely no sense of what was socially appropriate. I loved her while simultaneously she drove me crazy for the rest of her life.

    12. ThatGirl*

      I get along with my MIL now, but she’s very particular and has what I believe to be undiagnosed anxiety. And she was pregnant and hormonal when I first met her. So she got mad over the silliest things – I use a water glass and then leave it on the counter (out of the way) for later; she washes everything immediately. So my glasses kept disappearing and she was passive aggressively mad about me leaving them on the counter.

      1. Sallie*

        I know people like that. They can’t stand having anything out of place, even for a minute. In their house you have to pretend you’re a cat burglar and not leave any trace of your presence!

    13. Bethlam*

      I’d met my future in-laws briefly, so I knew the dad was a bit off. We were on a date and had to stop back at his house for something and his dad was in the bathtub. Bathroom was right at the top of the stairs where you come in the house so he knew who had come in. He yelled down, “Hey , come scrub my back.” I was 19, naive, and awkward, so just stood rooted in embarrassment while he continued to exhort me to come wash his back.

      Future husband returned from getting what he needed and I escaped. This was introduction to a serious jerk of a future f-i-l. Luckily, husband cut all ties shortly after we were married.

      1. TechWorker*

        Tbh I think ‘pretending you didn’t hear’ is a fairly good response to that regardless of age or naivety – wtf!

    14. The OG Sleepless*

      Oh! A quick one about my FIL. DH’s parents divorced ages ago, so I met FIL separately. FIL fancied himself an artist, though he was completely self taught (taking lessons would have involved somebody else giving him instruction, which he definitely did not do). He had brought one to DH for his dorm room and made a very big deal about him having it and displaying it.

      Except DH showed me on the back where he had written in large script, “This painting is ON LOAN to DH Sleepless from Firstname S. Sleepless on XX/XX/XX.”

      Yes, we still have the painting. It had been in a closet for ages until DH unearthed it. I refused to have it hanging in the common parts of the house; stuff in your home is supposed to make you happy, and every time I looked at it I got enraged. DH was so used to FIL being high-handed that it didn’t bother him much, so he hung it in his office. And yes, FIL spent the rest of his life doing as little for us and trying to get as much recognition for what he did, as he possibly could.

    15. the cat's ass*

      DH comes from a large intrusive multigenerational fam with boundary issues. We visited, staying in the fam house (mistake #1) and awoke to see his aunt’s face inches from mine. We then sat at a giant dining room table for HOURS with a sea of food while we were peppered with questions. Later that day, the same aunt collared me and said, “Were so happy he’s not gay! we were wondering.” His (only sane) cousin also caught up with me even later in the day, and reassured me by noting that DH’s last GF was an “actual rocket scientist (worked for Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena), spoke 3 languages and they hated her, so don’t pay them any mind.”

      We see sane cousin a lot. The rest, not so much.

      1. UKDancer*

        What is it with people coming in. I stayed over with a previous ex boyfriend and woke to his mother bringing us in breakfast in bed. Which would have been nice in theory only she did large amounts of things I didn’t actually like and I felt compelled to eat them which made me feel slightly ill. Also I really didn’t want her coming in while I was in bed.

        I mean give people privacy to get up before asking what they want for breakfast. Don’t just go in and give people what you think they should eat.

    16. Katie*

      My husband’s dad wasn’t in his life much. He was only around when he needed something. Well he hadn’t spoke to his dad in years when we started dating. He wasn’t invited to the wedding. We randomly run into him at the hospital (we took a wrong turn to get to the ER when my husband had a huge gash in his back). Husband is sucker back into his life after that. Well very soon after that the first thing he does is asks to borrow money for eye surgery.
      My husband does give him the cash and surprising he does pay it back. Not surprisingly, he was rarely around unless he needed something.

    17. Squirrel Nutkin*

      My first time meeting my former SO’s dad, his dad showed off some CRAZY road rage as he picked us up to take us out on an adventure. At my graduation, his dad was swearing up a storm at a pedestrian . . . who turned out to be my dad.

      Former SO’s parents’ house would also absolutely be chosen to be on *Hoarders*. We spent a night there on a pull-out couch in a room with six-foot piles of paper surrounding the couch and a lot of old paint cans in there for good measure. Good thing no one struck a match.

      Both of these things were really deal-breakers for me — I just couldn’t imagine having my hypothetical future kids be around these people — but my SO was such a sweetie himself that I hung in there for over a decade, wasting both of our time. Fortunately, he has married a very nice person with *excellent* boundaries now, so it all kind of worked out.

    18. Chaordic One*

      One of my former SO’s parents had divorced and both remarried. The first time I met them at a family function they seemed O.K. but I immediately took a bit of a dislike to SO’s stepmother. She was a striking beauty and significantly younger than SO’s father. I initially perceived her as being a “trophy” wife, a replacement for SO’s father’s first wife who was his own age. I also felt sympathy for SO’s mother, dumped by her first husband, and replaced by a newer, younger model.

      Needless to say, I was oh-so very wrong in my initial impressions of my former SO’s family. So VERY wrong.

      After a second meeting at a family function I got to visit with SO’s father and stepmother, and SO’s stepmom was just the sweetest, most considerate person you’d ever want to meet. I can’t account for the difference in their ages, or figure out just what makes their relationship work, but SO’s father and stepmom seem to have a good relationship and to care for and love each other.

      SO’s mother lived quite a distance from SO and so I never saw her very often, but when I did, she did not make a good impression. She was one of the most self-absorbed people I’ve ever met. Everything was all about her and she was very critical and judgemental. I can see why her marriage to SO’s father failed. I’m surprised that she was able to find another husband. I guess the lesson is to not be too swayed by first impressions.

    19. Rara Avis*

      I meet my to-be in-laws in the hospital after my not-yet husband was in a car accident with major head trauma. But the happier story is 6 months later when I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Course 1: Italian lunch meats, cheeses, antipasto, all the pickles, bread. Course 2: ravioli. Course 3: turkey, potatoes, stuffing etc. Yowza.

      One of my husband’s brothers asks (during the first course), “What is this, Dad? No pickled pigs’ feet?” At which point my FIL admits that he has them, but left them in the pantry for fear of scaring me off.

      (I am Italian by marriage only. After watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, my husband commented, “Well, at least I didn’t saddle you with 26 first cousins.” I said, “Are you sure?” We counted. He has 27.)

      That was 26 years ago and I love his family. Although his parents are gone now.

    20. comityoferrors*

      TW: brief mention of CSA
      Well. I met my SO’s parents for Thanksgiving dinner. We had “officially” started dating 4 days prior – we’d been unofficially dating for almost 3 years, but all his family knew about me was that we’d known each other for some time before getting together. As far as they knew, this was a brand new baby relationship. His dad was mostly great – a little Dad-Joke-y but I love that, and love him. But his mom. I mean. I love her, too, but it was immediately obvious why my partner has so many issues with her.

      1. raked him across the coals for his “drug abuse” (he was a rave kid for a couple of years in his late teens/early 20s and then grew out of it – which thankfully I already knew about because she made it sound like he was addicted to meth and near homelessness or something equally difficult)

      2. went deep into detail about his only other serious relationship, which ended when he discovered his ex-fiancé in bed with another man, which spiraled into a lot of really serious and traumatic experiences for him (again, thankfully I already knew about because who the fuck tells their kids’ new partner about that????)

      3. casually joked about his sister’s friend that he rebounded with after #2, specifically describing her relative attractiveness compared to the ex-fiancé, other friends of his sister, and people I personally knew that he had crushes on when we were kids (which made me feel pretty uncomfortable and, irrationally, jealous)

      4. she and the rest of the family casually talked about some family friends, specifically how the family’s dad had sexually abused his daughter decades ago (which thankfully I already knew about because wtf, but ALSO, that’s literally my best friend’s dad and sister! They failed to make that connection or notice my protests that we shouldn’t be talking about their extremely painful situation so casually…at Thanksgiving…)

      5. told me how happy she was for me to join the family and how she couldn’t wait for us to get married, preferably soon? Again, as far as they knew we had been dating for FOUR DAYS.

      His family is genuinely lovely and has welcomed me with open arms, and three years into this, being part of their family means the world to me. But holy shit.

    21. Kj*

      My MIL, in the first 24 hours I spent with them, told me that she had almost aborted my now-husband because she got pregnant almost as soon as she and FIL were married. I told my husband the story later, assuming he knew since she had told me so casually. He did not know. I love my ILs, but, man. That was something

    22. Emotional support capybara*

      Ex’s dad owned a small chain of shops that sold… let’s say llama mushing equipment, for anonymity. He was in arrears with the sledge and llama harness supplier (in related news he had a bad habit of writing hot checks because “Jesus will cover it.” Jesus did not cover it) and couldn’t get inventory just as Llamaditarod training season was ramping up.

      And then suddenly it was fine, llama tack and sleds were in, and all was well… until the debt collectors started calling my ex.

      “Capybara, you’re not seriously going to tell us your ex’s dad opened up multiple lines of credit under your ex’s SSN and didn’t pay the bill?” That is the exact thing I am going to tell you! Ex had his own whole color guard worth of red flags but that’s a whole nother thread.

    23. NancyDrew*

      I’m an identical twin, but my sister and I have names that have nothing to do with each other — not matchy-matchy, don’t even start with the same letter, etc.

      When I met my now MIL for the first time, she proceeded to call me by my twin sister’s name all day long — even though she had never met my twin sister. She just knew that I had one, and had asked her name. It was SO bizarre.

      Ten years later she would sit me down in my own house at my daughter’s birthday party out of the blue to tell me how much she doesn’t like me and how “people like me” will never understand “people like her” — which to this day I think means extroverts like me will never understand introverts like her, but that’s still unclear, as we now don’t talk.

      She’s a miserable person.

    24. small town*

      Late, but… My husband and I were engaged when I met my inlaws. My folks were pacing around saying “we are going to love him!” His parents left the lovely guest room empty and put me in the trundle bed in the sewing room. My husband had to find me towels and so forth. My MIL did make sure that I knew that if we had children that we could not “dump them there”. Ok, then. We survived 2 days. When I was out in the car to leave my then fiancée went back in and explained that they had had their one and only temper tantrum. If they were rude to me that did not mean that he would come back without me. It simply would mean that they would not see him. He managed it and problem solved.

    25. NotRealAnonForThis*

      A former SO.

      When I met his parents, father was relaxing in his underwear. I wasn’t sure whether it was just poor timing to walk in the house at that point, or what. Turns out, his father was basically straight out of f–ks. His house, it was hot, and he saw no reason for more than the bare minimum of clothing.

      Come to think of it, it turns out his son put nothing more than the absolute bare minimum of being a decent human into his day to day life, so it tracks.

  11. Loopy*

    Last year I booked an Air BnB for a long weekend with my dad just to hike and enjoy nature. We are both avid hikers who love getting away from the hustle and bustle.

    I am looking to do it again and would love recs for an area in New England with ample enough hiking to choose 3-4 options. Ideally within about 2.5 hours drive of central MA (so a bunch of Maine is out of range I think).

    I’m a huge fan of the mountains. Last year we did Vermont by Snow mountain and it was heaven. Anyone know similar areas to consider?

    1. Pumpernickel Princess*

      Ooh this is my specialty! If you want a taste of how spectacular the White Mountains can be with fewer crowds and a wider range of trail difficulty options (mild to challenging), I can’t say enough good things about Evans Notch on the NH/Maine line. It’s within easy reach if you stay in/near Conway NH (more bustling) or the Lakes Region of southwestern Maine (scenic with terrific swimming and shorter hikes), both of which are about 2.5 hours from north central MA depending on where you are.

      Other ideas: the Belknap range north of Winnipesaukee in NH (closer, shorter mountains, possibly less crowded); the Keene/southwestern NH region (you have Monadnock, Pack Monadnock, Wantastiquet, Madame Sherri forest, tons of beautiful local conservation areas); the Lebanon/White River Junction area of NH/VT (Mount Ascutney, the Garden of Life [not really a hike but a beautiful themed sculpture garden that’s worth the trip], Camel’s Hump); the Berkshires/Hilltowns of western MA (amazing waterfalls, very quiet/away from it all, Mt Greylock, tons of small lesser known places in the Hilltowns where you won’t see another person, the Appalachian Trail, the New England Scenic Trail).

      If you really want to go for spectacular mountains in the Whites, you can’t beat the Pemigewassett Wilderness for day hikes and overnights. The Franconia Ridge loop is a classic for a reason! But I love and stand by all the places I’ve mentioned here. :-)

      1. pancakes*

        Love the Berkshires. We used to go camping on Alander Mountain. If you’re going to be in the area in the summer 1) try to get to Tanglewood if you have any interest in classical music, and 2) be aware that there’s usually a lot going on in terms of theater and dance (Williamstown theatre festival, etc.) and places to stay can book up fast.

      2. NHnative*

        I grew up in the Lebanon/WRJ area and have a lot of fondness for it, but wouldn’t say it’s particularly close to Ascutney (45+ mins) or Camel’s Hump (1.5 hours). Since that’s a river valley, there’s some small nice hikes like Moose Mountain but you have to drive 45-60 mins to get to bigger peaks.

        Totally agree on Evan’s notch area, an absolute hidden gem (shh don’t send all the boston hikers over there). And the belknaps are great! If you stay away from Mt Major it can be pretty quiet.

        My other pick for small-mid size hikes with pretty views would be the Keene-ish area. You’re 30 mins or less from Thumb and Skatutakee Mts, Kulish Ledges, Silver Mountain, Wantastiquet Mountain, Hubbard Hill+Pitcher Mountain, plus on the busier side Monadnock and Wapack. And Pisgah State Park, which doesn’t have much elevation gain but many miles of trails. It’s not as dramatic as the Whites but much quieter (except for Monadnock and the Wapack range).

        1. Pumpernickel Princess*

          Good point re: Lebanon/WRJ! I associate it with those places probably because I have a relative who lives nearby, so it’s a convenient and free base camp for adventures further afield.

          Seconding Pisgah State Park too! I’ve hiked in a few times from the Chesterfield side and it’s beautiful there.

      3. Loopy*

        Thanks for these great recs! I’ve been wanting to get up tp Maine for a long time! Unfortunately we have such limited time even the options on the NH border ended up being slightly above the drive time we decided was our limit for this. But I’m keep all these recs!

        My dad is based in MA and I’ve done monadnock a few times! Love the hike wish it wasn’t so crowded at times :) When I was younger it didnt, bother me at all, but now that I’m older I like the quiet and peace of less traveled trails!

        We ended up deciding on the Berkshires/Western MA. On Air bnb and vrbo places were going fast for our dates we we had to jump on grabbing something. I am a sucker for waterfalls and places where we wont see many other people, glad you mentioned them! Very open to any hike recs you have for around North Adams/Williamstown/ the VT/MA border!

        1. Pumpernickel Princess*

          I recommend the website New England Waterfalls and the book of the same name! Lots of good recs for scenic falls as well as hiking ideas. I can’t speak to how crowded spots in the Berkshires may be, but those are good places to start.

    2. Esmeralda*

      It’s been a long time, but we’ve been camping and hiking in western mass., there’s a state park near the appalachian trail. Mount Tom, I think. Be alert for sudden thunderstorms and bears!

      1. Pumpernickel Princess*

        Mount Tom is another great one! It’s about an hour east of the AT in the CT River Valley region, and is crossed by the New England Trail, another long distance hiking trail in the Northeast. State forests and parks that are closer to the AT in the Berkshires include Mt Greylock, Savoy, and October Mountain. I’ve heard good things about the state forest (I think?) in Monroe (northeast of North Adams) not being too crowded and possibly having some nice water features!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Loopy, I’m glad you asked this question and I’m following the replies. I haven’t been to New England in decades and now have a number of people in my life there. I’ve been thinking of making a visit to see people in Maine and Massachusetts and outdoor time is important to me. I’m bookmarking the tips here.

      1. Loopy*

        I adore hiking is New England. Grew up there and lived there until my early twenties, so far I haven’t found a region I enjoy quite as much in terms of hiking (though I haven’t hit them all yet!). I hope you get to enjoy some of the suggestions in this thread!

      2. Pumpernickel Princess*

        Glad the tips could be helpful! I grew up hiking in the Whites and have since come to appreciate the nooks and crannies of my local New England trails, too. It’s a special place for sure!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Me too, since I’m trying to move there. I prefer walking outside to doing it on a gym track.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you come out this far, you in particular might want to look into adding enough time to get up to the Finger Lakes region of New York. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a visitor center and walking trails open to the public. And then there’s the surrounding countryside.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Oops–this was supposed to be a reply to Woodswoman Writes because of the birds connection.

  12. Baroness Schraeder*

    Something I’ve been wondering this week… do neurotypical people read productivity books? It occurs to me that the most likely people to read them are neurodivergent people who struggle to get organised, but by definition productivity books must mostly be written by organised neurotypical people and will therefore never address the real issue behind the dysfunction.

    I’m aware from previous comment sections that many of us here have ADHD (diagnosed or undiagnosed) but if you don’t, I want to know – do you read productivity books? Any sort of self help books? Or are you just too busy being productive without them?

    1. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I know of one organization book written by someone with ADHD:

      Organizing Solutions for People with ADD
      by Susan C. Pinsky

      She aims for what is helpful to *you* rather than what looks pretty to *others*. I found it really helpful, for the first time in my life, my room is useable! The book is split by room, but a lot of the tips can be used everywhere.

      I am curious if neurotypical people read those productivity books or other self-help stuff!

    2. WellRed*

      I occasionally might read one because it interests me or I like the writing. By definition I don’t think they need to address the why’s of the dysfunction. There are books for that, too.

      1. Nela*

        The issue isn’t that they don’t explain the “dysfunction”, the issue is that neurotypical advice usually doesn’t work for us. It sound like a good idea, but it’s not possible for us to implement it.

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I am allegedly neurotypical and I’ve never really used productivity books to the point where I have difficulty imagining what they’d even cover. However, my productivity methods can best be summed up as “chaos that makes sense only to me” – which I think is a big part of productivity. Unless you have shared work, as long as it works for you it’s all good.
      So do I think neurotypical people buy those books? I’d say yes, actually. Just because brains still work differently regardless, so I’d wager some people just haven’t found the system that works for them yet and so might buy these books in order to try and find a good method. I got lucky in the sense that teachers at my secondary school would explicitly teach us various methods so we had more chances to find something that worked for us individually, but I imagine other people may be shown the One Way used by Whoever Is Speaking and beat themselves up when it doesn’t work.

      Sorry for the word vomit, you got me thinking ^^’

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, neurotypical people read productivity books. After reading one, I bought an organizer notebook. I lost it.

    5. Overeducated*

      First off, I’m not sure about this part: “by definition productivity books must mostly be written by organised neurotypical people.” Must they? Or could they be written by people who’ve had to develop systems because it DOESN’T come naturally? I assume people only pick up productivity books because they feel like they need help in that area.

      I have a bit of a philosophical issue with our culture’s valorization of productivity, but I do look for organizational advice, and it’s because I am definitely NOT too busy being organized without them. I referred to myself as disorganized to a coworker the other day because I’ve always felt that way and he was totally shocked, so apparently I’ve figured out how to keep track of things and give off a better impression at work, but at home, I’m a complete mess. I’m that person who literally left the house without a coat, wallet, OR keys a couple of weeks ago, and I’m constantly struggling to physically organize my space so I can stop losing both stuff and time. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I also don’t feel like I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum, and often do find advice for neurodivergent people useful. So I guess my feeling on this is that there isn’t necessarily a hard divide, sometimes the same coping mechanisms or strategies may be useful for both neurotypical and neurodivergent people, and it may not always be apparent which is which (just as many people are diagnosed as adults and not recognized what their coping mechanisms were coping FOR). I’m sure it depends on the specifics of the advice as well though.

      1. Batgirl*

        Yeah, after years of being told by neurotypical, punctual people to “just leave earlier” and “care more”, I wouldn’t touch a book by someone whose only qualification was that stuff came easily to them. Things only clicked into place for me when I accepted that I was time-blind and needed highly specific routines and pre planned structures. Basically, to realise that I had to put more work in than a neurotypical person would ever need to.

        1. Baroness Schraeder*

          Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. One particularly memorable tip I’ve come across went something like “struggling to get all your tasks done? Just block out time for them on your calendar” as though that would automatically make them happen. Sorry but I’ve blocked out all that time already to laugh at your assumption that my calendar has magical powers!

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      What defines a productivity book? I think of myself as neurotypical and I though Oliver Burkeman’s 4000 Weeks one of the most helpful books I read last year.
      I think part of the reason I like reading productivity writing is not that I feel unproductive, but rather I feel like the things I tend to spend my mental and physical energy on aren’t necessarily always fulfilling. “Being productive” is, to my mind, a vague terms but also kind kf meaningless if it doesn’t fit into the context of one’s hopes, dreams, and values.

    7. Esmeralda*

      I have read productivity books in the past but didn’t get much use out of them. I’m neurotypical but not at all naturally organized, I kind of like clutter, and I have to work every day to make sure I am on track and organized. I used to think “If I only have the right planner I’ll be able to be super organized.” LOL, no. I can’t tell you how many planners I carried around in my purse or briefcase that I never opened up after that initial rush of enthusiastic filling-in.

      I found workshops on time management, managing workflow, that sort of thing to be a lot more helpful, but only when it was a genuine WORKshop and we did a lot of hands-on, got materials, practiced, etc.

    8. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex (she/her)*

      this is NOT what you asked for, but I have ADHD and don’t read self-helf or productivity books because I know they’re not for me. I get my productivity suggestions from other ND people, and now my ADHD coach, who may or may not have ADHD herself but definitely understands that NT productivity strategies won’t work for me.

      1. addnonymous*

        I read them when I thought I was nt before I was diagnosed, lol. I still read them and find non nt ones more helpful but some nt ones are still good. My ADD is moderate. I’ve heard nt tips can be helpful for others anecdotally.

    9. fposte*

      I love productivity books. I am allegedly neurotypical (I went a few years ago for an ADD screening, and the psychologist gave me some tests and then said I didn’t have ADD, just an academic’s brain, which I thought was hilarious).

      I think rooted in your question may be the idea that neurotypical people are organized and productive and satisfied with their level of both. That was never true, and now it’s 2022, we live in an Instagram world with insufficient time and child care, and nobody seems satisfied with their level of organization and productivity. It would almost be heresy to suggest you were, since that’s such a common self-improvement trope.

    10. MeepMeep02*

      I am not ADHD at all (though not neurotypical), but I definitely needed a productivity book. I’m a disorganized mess by nature. I just recently started bullet-journaling to get my life more organized, and I feel so much better now that I know everything is under control. I believe the creator of the bullet journal method has ADHD, but his method seems to be working fine for non-ADHD folks as well.

    11. E. Chauvelin*

      I am just about certain that I’m one of those neurodivergent people who never got labeled as anything besides “gifted” as a kid, so I can’t comment on what neurotypical people do. I also have a distinct memory of when I realized in elementary school what kind of coping mechanisms I was going to need to stay organized, and other than possibly having more organizational tools than any one person should, it’s been working for me, so I don’t spend a lot of time on productivity books, either. But sometimes productivity videos come up in LinkedIn Learning Paths I do for training goals and some of the best ones I encountered last year were from a guy with ADHD, Dave Crenshaw. A lot of his advice was stuff I was already doing but it gave me some new perspectives on how to think about it.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I don’t read them in general (am NT). I might read one because I’ve heard a lot about it or something like that, but that’s about it. I’m not trying to pick up tips.

  13. Houdini Research*

    I’ve recently become interested in researching the life and career of escape artist Harry Houdini.
    Can anyone here recommend some good documentaries or books about him? Thanks!

    1. Morning reader*

      Fictional, but the series Murdoch Mysteries had an episode that featured Houdini. You might find it amusing once you’ve got to know him.

      1. Sue*

        Timeless featured him in an episode as well (1.11) but the focus was more on the first serial killer so I did not enjoy it very much.

    2. GoryDetails*

      The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher features Houdini in his debunker-of-spiritualists mode; he apparently had quite an extreme feud with a Boston woman who held seances there, and includes some interesting perspectives on Houdini’s views as well as on the craze for seances in general.

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I do ‘t have the exact list on me right now, but it might also be worth looking into Arthur Conan Doyle a bit. The two were very good friends for a while due to their shared interest in the occult and the possibility of an afterlife, but that ended when Houdini kept debunking seances and exposing fake psychics. Doyle himself believed that Houdini was in fact also a real magic user and that he would use his powers to “block” others.

      There’s also Houdini’s book “Miracle Mongers and their methods” where he basically goes over tricks like fire eating and explains how they are actually done.

      For fiction, there’s apparently a TV series called Houdini and Doyle which is kind of like X-Files in that one is the big skeptic (Houdini/Scully) and one is the big believer (Doyle/Mulder), though I have not actually watched it so I can’t speak for how good it is.

    4. DistantAudacity*

      BBC’s The Forum podcast recently had an episode on him. The panelists were all people who had published books on him. I recommend looking up the episode and its references (and the episode itself!)

    5. PollyQ*

      He has a sort of a cameo in the book Ragtime, by E. L. Doctorow. It won’t tell you much about him, really, but I love the book so I’m recommending it anyway.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        A fantastic book – was just coming here to suggest this.

        I started a biographical book on Houdini when we were at an Air bnb a few years ago, which I now cant remember the name of. It was written in the last 10 years though.

      2. pancakes*

        We read Ragtime in my 10th grade English lit class, and I told my teacher I wanted to make a short film about it rather than write an essay. It ended up being shot on video, of course, but I cast one of my best friends as Emma Goldman and had her delivering speeches in a corner of the girls’ locker room that we pretended was a trades hall.

    6. Patty Mayonnaise*

      There is a great episode of the podcast Criminal about his relationship with Doyle. It’s split pretty evenly between the two men.

    7. Urban Prof*

      The best biography by far is Kenneth Silverman; Houdini!!!: The Career of Erich Weiss. (Yes, three exclamation points.) If you appreciate the scholarly apparatus in that bio, try to find the companion volume, Notes to Houdini!!!, which reproduces a lot of the original documents Silverman used in his research. There were only 500 copies printed of Notes to Houdini!!!, so a library might be your best bet for that one.

  14. Billy Idol's White Wedding*

    Would you go to this wedding if you were in my shoes?

    My spouse and I live in Philadelphia. A friend who moved from the Philly area to Illinois 11 years ago is getting married in Illinois at the end of May. I haven’t kept in a whole lot of active contact with this friend since then (we pretty regularly respond to each other’s posts on Facebook, essentially) but she makes an earnest attempt to let us know she’s thinking of us by sending us cards at every holiday, even minor ones. She also traveled from Illinois to Philly to attend our wedding a decade ago. But:

    –The trip is going to be pricey. An expensive healthcare situation is fairly likely to flare up sometime within the next few months within our family, and even if it doesn’t, we’d already have to dip into our reserve fund to do both our normal June getaway (which I feel like we really need this year) and this wedding.
    –It’s not a part of Illinois where we can really extend the weekend and turn it into our annual vacation (think a distant suburb of Chicago).
    –The mask mandate on airplanes will surely be lifted by then, and I’m not comfortable getting on something that’s as tightly packed as a plane without a mask requirement. And we don’t have enough days off available for driving to be feasible.
    –I’ve seen this friend only once in person in the past ten years, and realistically, that rate is not likely to increase post-wedding.

    My spouse thinks we’re morally obligated to go because my friend traveled to attend our wedding in 2012 and because my friend keeps making the effort to stay in touch. She thinks not going to the wedding will truly be offensive to them and will kill the friendship… and we have few friends left to lose, as we keep losing touch with people who have moved away from us/moved on in their lives. I’m not sure I agree, but I also know weddings are emotionally fraught. What do you think? When it comes to traveling long distances for weddings, does the power of friendship trump the negatives?

    1. Blue Eagle*

      You are not morally obligated to go – – but if you don’t go and you want to salvage the friendship you should send a really nice gift in advance of the wedding.

    2. Coffee Anonymous*

      An invitation isn’t a summons, and you’re not obligated to attend someone else’s wedding just because they attended yours. If it’s not in your budget, and there’s enough uncertainty with your family’s health issues and the COVID pandemic, send your regrets, and a nice card and gift. A friendship that doesn’t survive this isn’t really worth saving.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Send a nice gift and a card with your very sincere regrets. People are unable to attend their closest friends’ weddings all the time, for all kinds of reasons. If not attending would kill the friendship (!) then you don’t need these kinds of friends. And also think of it this way: your absence might actually be appreciated since will open up 2 spaces on their guest list.

      1. Billy Idol's White Wedding*

        “your absence might actually be appreciated since will open up 2 spaces on their guest list”
        That’s a very interesting point. Another detail that I left out to keep the post from getting even longer than it is now is that the wedding was scheduled for a Friday. I was under the impression that folks schedule Friday weddings strictly because the venues are less expensive or might be more likely to be available — but the first person I spoke to about this said (unsolicited) that Friday weddings are often done to deliberately keep the wedding small. Wonder if that could be in play here?

        Take out all the mitigating factors, and we’d love to see this friend and we’d go. However, the world isn’t perfect. Is it worth us paying probably $2K, all told, when you factor in airfare, two nights at a hotel, taxis/Ubers (and that’s before a gift is factored in), and dealing with a high anxiety airplane situation, to essentially wish a friend the best of luck for a few minutes since she’ll be so distracted by everyone else and all the general pomp and circumstance of the day in general? That’s the question.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I had the same reaction recently to a recent Monday wedding invitation — was it a way to minimize guests?! Was I really even invited?! But more people are doing non-weekend days right now because venues are still catching up from all the cancelled events.

          BTW, I didn’t go to my very best friend’s wedding because I couldn’t swing it. Technically I could have made it work but the travel would have been a burden I couldn’t comfortably afford. I absolutely agonized over this decision but it was totally fine and we are still best friends. Based on what you’ve described you’re not likely to enjoy this trip at all. Make sure to gush about her getting married, let her know you wish you could be there (without being defensive about why), send a lovely card and gift, and let yourself off the hook.

          1. Cj*

            My best friend from college missed our wedding 30 years ago this July. I see her every couple of years, and every time I do she mentions how upset she is that she didn’t come. We got married on July 4th, she was managing a bar at the time and it was hard to get people to work that night, and we had just decided to get married that day on Memorial weekend, so she didn’t have much time to plan.

            My husband is also very close to her. Neither one of us was ever upset at her at all for not coming. Even though she was one of the Chosen Few, as we only invited 30 people to our wedding.

            Yes, we missed her and wished she could have been there, but there was never any annoyance, let alone anger.

        2. PollyQ*

          Re: Friday schedule, I wouldn’t make guesses about that kind of strategy. If you want to keep a wedding small, you just invite fewer people, especially friends you’re not that close to and haven’t seen in many years.

          It sounds like you’re not that close to these people and that you don’t actually want to go. In the end, that’s all the reason you need not to.

          1. Cormorannt*

            Agreed it might not be any kind of strategy, especially this year. There’s a huge backlog of wedding celebrations from the last two years and venues are booked solid. I am planning a July wedding and by fall of 2021 many places only had a handful of Saturday dates left. That doesn’t mean the OP should or shouldn’t go, but they shouldn’t assume a Friday event is to keep numbers down.

        3. Hippeas*

          Honestly it sounds like you really, really don’t want to go but are trying to see if the external factors justify you forcing yourself to overcome your emotional and financial hurdles.

          They aren’t. I would NOT go.

          You haven’t kept in touch with them anyway – it sounds kind of one-sided to begin with, with them making more of an effort than you, so your comment about not losing the few friends you have doesn’t seem to apply here. You already aren’t close with this person. You are allowed to drift apart even from people who like you and to whom you feel no animosity.

          You also don’t have to go to their wedding just because they want you to.

          Write a nice and thoughtful card (explain the budget and the health care costs that are coming) and send a nice gift and don’t worry about it. People generally (bridezilla/groomzillas aside) don’t stress about you coming to their wedding as much as you do – you’re the only one of yourself going whereas they have other guests as well as other plans to make.

          Give yourself joyful permission not to go! This isn’t something you have to feel guilty about. Send a handwritten card and a gift off their registry and you’ll be fine. No guilt.

        4. AY*

          I will say that the justification “wishing someone the best for a few minutes” doesn’t really hold water as a reason not to go! That’s true of every wedding with more than about 25 people in attendance. Don’t go if you don’t want to go, but don’t tell anyone that that’s your excuse, especially the couple getting married.

        5. Elizabeth West*

          I would send a nice gift along with your regrets. You don’t have to explain all the stuff you said above, just that you won’t be able to make it that weekend. You can always visit them another time.

    4. Not A Manager*

      What does “kill the friendship” mean in this situation? You and the bride are casual Facebook friends who exchange holiday cards. If your friend became mortally offended and huffed off, I don’t think you’d mourn the loss of a current close friendship.

      I suspect that your spouse’s fears are more along the lines of “if we ever wanted to re-kindle this friendship, this might be a dealbreaker.” If that’s the case, then I’d encourage both of you to decide NOW whether this is a friendship you want to rekindle. Then you can rekindle it without necessarily stretching yourselves to attend the wedding. Do you like these people enough to proactively plan to visit them over your next vacation? To plan a vacation together? To invite them to come stay with you?

      If the answer is no, then I think you can decline this invitation and let the chips fall where they may. If the answer is yes, then make those actual overtures and decline the wedding with regret.

    5. Suprisingly ADHD*

      There is no moral obligation from a trip your friend made a decade ago! (2012 was TEN years ago, I can’t believe it)

      You can respond to the RSVP to say it’s unfortunately not in your budget AND potentially risks covid exposure. Send a nice card to them, write a letter inside or at least a heartfelt note wishing them happiness. Pick a gift from the registry that’s in your budget, most registries let you ship directly to the recipient with a note who it’s from.

      If the friend pitches a fit over it, the friendship is probably not as good as you thought. Hopefully, they will understand that the circumstances are hostile to you coming, most people will!

    6. Billy Idol's White Wedding*

      Thanks for the responses so far. Without question, if we decide not to go, we’ll send a very nice gift.

      (Public service announcement: The word “t–p”, which I used in my question in the last sentence, apparently triggers moderation. Obviously I should have said “outweighs” or “overrides,” in retrospect, but I didn’t think. If anyone else has thoughts on this it’s probably best not to include that word in your response!)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It seems like your wife is concerned about continuously losing touch with friends. That doesn’t mean you have to go to this wedding… but I’d look for ways to nurture existing friendships.

        1. Billy Idol's White Wedding*

          To be fair, not just my wife. I’m concerned, too, about losing all of my friends.
          I got very loudly “fired” by a close friend a few years ago over an emotionally charged issue and although in retrospect, I’m better off without that friendship, I’d rather that not happen again. That said, realistically I think the chance of this particular friend telling me off as ostentatiously — or really at all — are pretty low.

          1. fposte*

            This seems to me a bit at odds with your initial statement, though, where it sounded like you’d become casual FB friends with this person, and they maybe wanted more than you did. Are you drifting from these friends in general, and is that okay with you? If it’s not, I’d consider mobilizing some contact beyond FB; if it is, I wouldn’t let the fear of their anger keep you friends with people you don’t actually share that much with. I’d hate to find out somebody was friends with me or, God forbid, actually hauled themselves to my wedding only to avoid my yelling at them.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Try “override’ or ‘overbalance’ if you’re now awkward with the bridge-playing lower-case usage.
        And if the only quibble had been the need for extending this into a vacation I’d be suggesting driving there & back via a series of little places that have day-trip appeal, like little Victorian hotels in scenic areas. The kind of destinations listed in local travel guides or Atlas Obscura…with some time on a beach along Lake Michigan.
        But since you aren’t that keen on it, I grant you permission to decline. “Thank you for the invite, but we regret we cannot make it.”

    7. Venus*

      The issue with attending weddings like these, where you only know the bride, is that the bride is so busy that you won’t spend much time with her. If you could visit another time when you could actually talk, then that would be better for the friendship.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      Don’t go. Any one of the reasons you’ve listed (expense, health, travel, Covid, not a close friend) is enough to skip it. I’ve missed almost every wedding I’ve been invited to for one reason or another and it’s really not a big deal – there are only like 2 people aside from siblings that I would really make an effort to be there, and one had a private pandemic ceremony so I wasn’t able to anyway.

    9. crabcake*

      An invite is not a subpoena! It would be one thing if your friend had attended your wedding two months ago, but personally I feel like that kind of matching only suits a situation where the situation is very close to identical–same time period, same financial circumstances, etc. For what it’s worth, I’m currently planning a wedding reception (we COVID-eloped, lol) and guest list and there are absolutely people that are being invited purely because I would appreciate their presence and it feels offensive not to invite them–I’d feel awful if those people felt an obligation to attend even if it put them in a difficult situation with COVID/finances/time off work/life in general! Your friend may well be in a similar position.

      Since you don’t know one way or another how your friend feels about this, why not just assume the best (that your friend is a reasonable person who knows you have your own life and obligations) and act accordingly? Assuming there’s no obligation, do you want to go? If after evaluating the tradeoffs of attending, you don’t want to go, don’t.

    10. Squirrel Nutkin*

      The thing that rings the loudest to me here is the pandemic safety issue. Your health and safety should not be something you have to compromise, even for a friend who is a lot closer than this one.

      I agree with multiple commenters here that your regrets and a very nice card and gift should be good enough for a reasonable friend.

    11. Katie*

      If you can’t afford something, you should not do it. Send regrets and a gift if you want to You already mentioned you were were but I could argue that don’t even have to do that to preserve a friendship.

    12. Lady Danbury*

      Based on what you’ve shared, I absolutely won’t go. It doesn’t work for you financially as well as healthwise. An invitation is just that, not a summons and wedding invitations/attendance should be based on current circumstances, not what happened in the past. Given everything that is going on in the world right now (both pandemic-wise as well as financially) anyone who ends a friendship over you not traveling to their wedding didn’t value that friendship in the first place. I agree that you should send a nice card and present instead.

    13. Despachito*

      I second the opinion of not going but sending a sincere, personal congratulation, regrets that you cannot come, and a nice gift.

      I absolutely would not worry about losing the friendship. A normal person will understand that this might be a financial burden not everyone wants to make, and if not – would you really want to be friends with someone who absolutely disregards your own situation and want you to trip over yourself for them?

      And consider the possibility that sometimes the hosts may be even relieved if the number of guests is smaller (although they like you and your invitation is sincere). And by sending your gift and congratulation, you clearly let them know that you do care.

    14. Juneybug*

      Could you explain to her that it’s out of your budget for this trip? Then maybe plan another time to visit?

    15. Bazza7*

      No don’t go. You said yourself, you have money saved up that’s needed for health reasons which hopefully you don’t need extra for but could. This friendship has run its course.

    16. Esmeralda*

      Your spouse is, please excuse me, ridiculous.

      I didn’t go to my favorite nephew’s wedding last year. I could afford it, but I was not willing to fly at that time due to the pandemic. It’s actually the only family wedding I have missed, ever. No one is mad at me.

      My sister did not come to my wedding — she was at the tail end of a european trip, and the expense of rebooking plane tickets was very high. I’m not mad at her and never have been. I have never felt that she was obliged to show up.

      This is a friend who’s essentially become an acquaintance. But even if it were a really good friend or a family member, you still have exceptionally good reasons not to go. And frankly, even without the family illness etc that you have to plan for, spending more money and time than you can afford is a good enough reason.

    17. Batgirl*

      It sounds like you’re treating this as the only/last time that you’re ever going to see this friend. If that’s true, I think it’s too expensive in terms of time and money for such a rare reunion where you’ll barely have time to chat. If you do ever want to catch up, it would be better to leave the door open on your end (“if you do ever come back this way, we’d love to see pictures over brunch”), or nominate a better time (“We’d love to celebrate your first anniversary though, because we can really catch up then”), or a better place (“Our next trip is halfway towards you. Would you and new spouse like to do X?). Yes, weddings are emotionally fraught but as a divorced person who lost a lot of people who were at the wedding; true friends outlast a wedding! It may be that the physics of the friendship mean it’s just a long distance one now, and that’s okay. But if not, there are options beyond one event. Express excitement and interest in the wedding; explain what you can and can’t do. I don’t see how any friend could have a problem with that.

    18. Koala dreams*

      There is never a moral obligation to go to a wedding as a guest.

      Personally, I’m happy to travel to a wedding (or birthday party, or another life event) for a good friend. Often these things functions as family or friend re-unions and it’s fun to meet the other people my friend cares about in person. It’s extra fun when it’s someone who live far away or someone I don’t visit often. I still wouldn’t go it if I couldn’t afford the trip or if there was a health reason not to.

      For you… Well, your primary reason to go seems to be that your partner wants to go. It’s often one of these implicit rules in relationships that you follow along to weddings, funerals, other life events.

      Your general point about losing friendships, yes, it’s also one of those unwritten rules that if you say “no thanks” and don’t suggest another activity later, it probably means that you want to end the friendship. And if the friendship is based on spending money you can’t afford, you probably should end the friendship. That being said, it’s often worthwhile to spend some time talking, openly, about your expectations, instead of relying on unwritten rules that people might or might not recognise. You could explain to your friend that you are happy doing low cost activities like sending cards or gifts, but that travel isn’t in your budget. You could explain that you are happy to meet in person if it’s within driving distance. You could explain that you are happy with a long distance friendship and not interested in meeting in person. Based on whatever you want, not how friendship is supposed to be.

  15. shearwoman*

    Any other marathoners here? I am training for the Boston Marathon (I’m a fundraiser for Dana-Farber) and I have my longest long training run Sunday. 20 miles. I have run other marathons but this training cycle has felt so hard– the winter in the northeast has been never-ending, the pressures of fundraising; I’m tired. lol. Send some good vibes and energy my way, please.

    1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Good luck! I’ve run five marathons, although never Boston — always wanted to, but was never fast enough to do it.
      Marathon training is always tough! The good news is that you’re out of the woods after Sunday. I really came to appreciate the tapering period by my fourth and fifth marathon.

      Just visualize how amazing that race is going to be in a couple of weeks.

    2. WellRed*

      I saw an article about a woman who planned 100 marathons in 100 days. Is that even possible?

    3. Can't think of a funny name*

      Sending good vibes! I have done 15 marathons (well, 16 counting one that was at the end of an Ironman). I did Boston in 2017. I live in the south so training for a spring marathon is def easier down here! I think I would struggle up north training thru the winter! You’re almost there! ;)

    4. Lizzo*

      You’ve got this! Just get the miles in at whatever pace your body wants to do today. And remember that the race day experience is going to be AMAZING!!!!!!!
      And thank you for fundraising for Dana-Farber. xo

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      This internet stranger thinks you’re absolutely amazing and is so impressed by what you’re doing! Day of, you get to be part if an incredible, joyful community (with some breathing hard, lol!).

      Seriously though, running is beautiful. I love it as much as I love whiskey and love. You’ve got this.

    6. Double A*

      My marathon days are behind me (I only did 2) but I’m sending you good vibes! Honestly I don’t even know if I ever made it 20 miles in a training run. You’ve got this though!

    7. PollyQ*

      Not a runner, but I did volunteer support for it a couple of times and had a blast! Good vibes, good energy, and good luck!

  16. rr*

    Any recommendations on organic catnip? I used to buy sojos (I think that is the spelling) but haven’t bought any for a number of years, and that doesn’t seem to be available any longer. I don’t really know if there are differences in brands, but I thought I’d ask.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Catnip is in the mint family and grows like a weed in a pot. You could just grow your own?

    2. Joie de Vivre*

      I get catnip from litterbox. It is labeled as all natural, but I don’t remember if it is organic. My cats like the fine ground and the leaf + flower. But they LOVE the silver vine.

    3. cat socks*

      The Yeoww catnip toys are great. They might sell just dried catnip by itself.

      It’s also very easy to grow catnip, but make sure it’s in a container. It spreads very easily. You can buy plants at local garden stores in the spring. The stuff I have planted survives Midwest winters and comes back in the spring.

  17. Purple Dragon*

    I’m so sick of noisy neighbors blasting music. Are there neighborhoods or apartment/condo buildings that have enforced quiet hours anymore and if so how do you find them? I’d happily deal with an HOA if they were strict on noise. Or just simply, how do you find places to live without knowing anything about the neighbors and what you’re getting into?

    1. Morning reader*

      My go-to strategy is to prefer housing on the edge… the end of the hall, the top of the building, the last house on the block, etc. currently I live on a cul de sac on the edge of my small town next to the cemetery.

      Does not guarantee less noise but it reduces the potential sources of it.

      Still I have neighbors across the street who have loud Friday night parties, but not til late. (I groused about it when I first noticed but then I noticed it was only 8pm. “Late” is different when you’re old… in my 20s we didn’t even show up at a party until 11ish.)

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I live in a SFH in a quiet neighborhood. We looked at least 40 homes and really checked out the neighborhoods on weekends to see the level of noise, traffic and the number of cars parked and was quite happy for the first three years.

      Then new neighbors moved in behind me. They installed a pool and used it regularly for weekend partying. Their two daughters also had weekday parties and both events cranked up the music and the bass boomed through my house. They had powerful outdoor speakers.

      The mom would regularly listen to Rush Limbaugh indoors and we’d hear his daily diatribes through the outdoor speakers, which were often left on during the week.
      After 25 years, they sold their house and moved to Truckee.

      The new neighbors are so quiet you’d think no one lived there. So happy old neighbors moved! I now can hear the big screen tv at a normal volume.

      Now if I could do something about the 4am train horns that blast me awake and sound throughout the day, the overhead planes and commercial jets that seem to fly every 10 minutes I’d be happy.

      The modern world is too noisy to enjoy!

      1. pancakes*

        25 years of this and you never went over to talk to them? Where I live, if they were repeatedly not responsive to the idea of trying to get along with their neighbors, this would be a 311 call (non-police or police noise code enforcement, depending on how bad it is and who’s available to respond).

        1. L. Ron Jeremy*

          Yes, I did talk to them about their music volume and it would get turned down. They even gave us a heads up when they would have parties, but the outdoor speakers would usually broadcast the Rush report no matter what we said. The teenagers would turn up the volume during the weekdays.

          Really, them playing music would blast straight into our family room and was disruptive even at a moderate volume.

          Love our new neighbors. So quiet. No outdoor music broadcasts.

          1. pancakes*

            Oof. Talk radio or blaring TV on a day to day basis would bother me a lot more than the occasional party.

    3. Golden*

      Ugh, these neighbors have been the bane of my existence. Other than reviews on Google, I’ve had better luck renting from individual landlords in buildings where some/most(?) of the inhabitants are owners as opposed to everyone renting in an apartment complex-type situation. My current building is this way and it definitely skews older. We’ve never had a music problem here, although we did have a loud political talk radio issue! The person was actually thankful that they were told it was seeping into other units, and we haven’t heard a peep since.

      Additionally with this setup, if we were to have issues, we could go to our landlord, the property management, and potentially the offender’s landlord (if there is one) for help. So that’s three potential avenues of getting things enforced rather than one management company.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ll qualify that. Live by an *old* cemetery so there are not frequent backhoe mornings. (I live across from one small enough to have only a few burials a year, even these 2 years.)

    4. WellRed*

      Go by at night or weekends. Check out other nearby places (is there junk all over? People draped around the porch or yard? Tons of cars?) within a building it depends on the landlord but good ones don’t want noise complaints, especially if the city has a nuisance ordinance.

    5. CatCat*

      Ugh, so sorry you’re dealing with this. In our last move, we were able to talk to the tenants who were moving out to get info om the neighborhood. You might try talking to people in the neighborhood/building to get the lay of the land. That will give you at least insight into the current state of things (though a disruptive neighbor could always move into the neighborhood or building later).

      Sorry you’re dealing with this. I can’t stand excessive noise. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to rent since moving is a lot easier.

    6. ScorpioCat*

      Thanks for the reality check! Lately I have been thinking about downsizing to an apartment but the whole noise issue is my biggest fear. I live in a SFH in a relatively quiet neighborhood- the new people next door have a yappy dog but I can handle that over loud music. No neighbors on the other side because it’s zoned wetlands.

    7. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Look up the local noise ordinances for any place you’re considering. Sometimes the county/city/municipality can do more for noise than neighborhoods or apartments/condos. Of course if the noise is happening outside of quiet hours there isn’t much you can do but sometimes the ordinance might have a provision that noise over X db at any time is prohibited that you could lean on the non-emergency line to enforce if it is truly egregious.

      The other thing you could consider is moving into an older community (older by age). I lived in a neighborhood once where most of my neighbors were of retirement age. And I didn’t know this but there are some 55+ communities that allow younger people to buy in and live there and they can be pretty quiet. I looked at one in my current house-hunting journey and if I could afford the monthly condo fees on top of mortgage payments, I absolutely would’ve done it.

      And I am writing this as my downstairs neighbor is blasting their music so loud I can hear the bass thumping from every room in the place. I am grateful that they blast it for only 2-3 hours per weekend day. Much better than the first apartment-neighbor I had years ago who blasted his music so loud I could hear the lyrics through the walls and I could tell exactly what kind of company he had over by the kind of music he played.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Agreed, we bought our house very early, and our original neighbors were wonderful, but then they moved out and Deadbeat Drug-dealing Neighbors moved in, and I wound up looking up our county’s noise ordinance, which is pretty clear. But I never reported them until the night they had dozens of HS/early college people over, and they all came out in the street to watch a couple of them fight (and pee on lawns and the street)! So many police cars showed up so fast, I am sure half the block called in, too.

        But anyway, our noise ordinance specifies a maximum decibel level, even during the day, anywhere on YOUR property, and a lower one after 9pm on weeknights or maybe 10 or 11 on weekends? I forget, we haven’t had to worry about that since the DDNs got foreclosed on after the 2008 housing bubble burst! If this was an apartment, I believe the dB limit would apply to any *open* window or door.

        So, tl;dr, I agree, look for a county/city with a good noise nuisance code.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, also, good apartment/condo management would help, too, but both you and the noisy neighbor are their customers, so depending on how things are set up, they may not want to enforce the code, or they just may choose not to. The police are much less likely to have any such conflict, IME, although sometimes it can be worse depending on certain factors.

    8. Internist*

      Ughughgugh. You have all my sympathies. I’m extremely affected by noise and stuff like this has really impacted my mental health in the past.

      If you’re considering moving into an apartment complex, ask the management how they deal with noise violations. In one complex I lived in, I had loud neighbors but the manager was pretty good about giving people a stern talk and keeping it under control. Then the management changed and they completely ignored my complaints.

      You can also knock on doors and talk with neighbors before you move in to find out how loud things usually are.

      I agree that elderly neighbors are a good bet, but not 100% of the time–my loudest neighbor currently is technically a ‘senior citizen’ but parties more than I ever did, blasting house dance music.

      I would look for neighbors with young kids–they’re likely to be putting kids to bed early and to be united with you in wanting quiet so their kids aren’t disturbed.

    9. Mary S*

      I just moved into a very quiet complex. The apartments are duplex style which reduces noise and I live on the edge of the community where it backs up to a nature preserve that doesn’t have any hiking trails on the side I’m on. The community is advertised as being quiet and tranquil, close to nature. Online reviews confirmed this. I checked it out during the day and evening and made sure it wasn’t close to a firehouse / hospital, etc.

      But… it turns out my neighbors’ assigned parking space is right in front of my bedroom window. And my new neighbors are involved in all sorts of activities and come and go at all hours while talking about what they need to remember to bring to events, etc. I would like to ask my neighbors to be more quiet, but frankly they’re not outrageous and it is their assigned space…

      So now I’m looking into how I can soundproof better as a sort of last resort. I ordered special blackout curtain rods and heavy blackout curtains to try to muffle the noise coming through the window. If that doesn’t work, I may shell out the money for industrial soundproofing curtains or window inserts. Door gaskets and door sweeps. Hanging rugs on the walls. Soundproofing foam. Maybe you can ask about the construction of the walls and insulation for the next apartment you move to, too…

  18. Bobina*

    Recommendations for products/brands/stores that make *very moisturizing* body wash and/or body lotion? My only criteria is it needs to be easily spreadable – so for instance solid butter/moisturizer blocks which I’ve tried are a bit of a pain to apply (although they are good at locking in moisture to keep my skin hydrated, feeling like I need to work up a sweat just to rub it in properly is no fun after a nice relaxing shower!).

    It needs to ship to/be available in the UK and extra points for being an ethical/fair trade type brand as always.

    1. Morning reader*

      I like the solid stuff when I’m very dry, typically in winter. I recommend putting the jar in the bathtub with you so it becomes warm and pliant. Or, a soak in a sink of warm water if you’re showering. It spreads and soaks in more readily. (Not so hot that it separates, don’t use a microwave.)

      Otherwise I like Aveeno for routine use.

    2. anon24*

      I just buy straight unrefined organic shea butter. It’s a little greasy if overdone but a little goes a long way and it’s the best for super dry skin. It has a really low melting point (80 F) so it’s easy to apply. I get Naturise off Amazon but I don’t know if they ship to the UK.

    3. UKDancer*

      Sanctuary spa do a wet skin moisture miracle which you put on after your shower while you’re still wet. It’s supposed to absorb better. I got some in a beauty box and was surprised how absorbent it is and it’s been good on the dry skin on my legs. I’d have a sniff though as it works really well but I don’t like the smell much so I only use it on my legs.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I like Weleda’s Skin Food body butter. It absorbs quickly and is very moisturizing without being greasy. Kiehl’s cream de corps lotion is also fast absorbing and not sticky. Their Creme de Corps Smoothing Oil-to-Foam Body Cleanser is also good for a shower cleanser.

    5. DistantAudacity*

      CeraVe Moisturising Cream – superb moisturizing cream, very spreadable. Stocked by Boots!

      1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex (she/her)*

        I second this recommendation, great stuff. Unscented and great for my dry, very sensitive skin. Also a great choice for moisturizing new itchy tattoos, if that is of interest.

    6. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Unfortunately the stuff I use doesn’t ship from Australia to UK! But having very dry/sensitive skin, these are some things I’ve found:

      Small batch, handmade bar soap is far better than any commercial “moisturising” body wash. I don’t know exactly why, but I suspect it’s to do with most commercial stuff having the glycerin removed as it’s more valuable. I used to buy soap from a former coworker who made it as a hobby. She knew how sensitive my skin was and would often use me as her guinea pig for new recipes. The soaps she made from shea butter or olive oil were best, but coconut oil was ok too, and plain or lavender scent. Though I loved the smell of the others she made, like citrus, peppermint, coffee, rose, etc, the additional oils tended to dry my skin out. Sadly I no longer work with her but I’ve since found a great local store that makes their own soap which I can order online. I’ve tried a few varieties, but again, plain/unscented is the best.

      I use a bristle brush to lather up and wash. A good quality soap will froth easily on the brush and regularly using the brush helps remove dry skin and allows the moisturiser to sink in.

      On moisturiser: consider whether you primarily need something to hydrate or seal in moisture? If your moisturiser is hard to spread, it sounds like it’s probably more of a barrier cream, which won’t help if you don’t have enough hydration to begin with or can’t spread it well. I second Aveeno (unscented) as it seems to be readily available everywhere and the right balance of hydration/barrier for me. DermaSukin was better, but I can’t seem to find that anymore.

    7. Constance Lloyd*

      Are you open to using liquid oils as a moisturizer? I make my own using the equal parts avocado, grape seed, and sweet almond oils. Super moisturizing, fast absorbing, and you can usually find all three in your grocery store. Since it’s just a matter of pouring them into a bottle together it’s super easy, and you can add a few drops of fragrance if you like. Otherwise, L’Occitaine has my favorite shower oil body wash, also sweet almond.

    8. Rrrrach*

      I really recommend L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil (think there’s a bath version too). Stores nationwide in the UK plus they do delivery.
      It emulsifies in contact with water so won’t make the shower base slippy. I actually apply it neat from the bottle to my skin while the shower is warming up. It’s really reduced the amount of lotion I need afterwards.
      Recommend buying it in refill packs too, to save money (decanting into original bottle).
      For body moisturiser I find Vaseline’s range hard to beat on price and simplicity. At most major supermarkets in the UK.

    9. Helvetica*

      Look for body lotions with urea, 10% should be fine. I use Eucerin’s, which is extremely boring but extremely effective.

    10. Wishing You Well*

      I use O’Keefe’s Working Hands. It’s more moisturizing than liquid stuff in bottles.

    11. The Prettiest Curse*

      The Body Shop Shea Butter body butter is good, but expensive. Marks and Spencer does a good range of less-expensive body butters – the Olive one isn’t scented and is good for dry skin.
      I’ve just discovered Noughty products – their The Soother Gel Moisturiser is great. I also like La Roche Posay products (available from Boots and Superdrug) and Vitamin E Dry Skin Oil from Superdrug is brilliant and has helped my eczema a lot.

    12. crabcake*

      I’m a huge fan of LUSH. I keep trying new products from other brands but go back to them. Their solid body lotion is great and zero waste (no packaging).

    13. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I am a huge fan of the Naked Bee Body Butter — it feels luxuriously smooth and smells great. (Grapefruit is my favorite scent, but they have a bunch of others as well.) Pricey but worth it.

      For unscented products, O’Keefe’s Working Hands cream and Healthy Feet cream are superb. Get the ones in the containers that look like ice hockey pucks.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Just discovered The Naked Bee last weekend after buying the small tube of their body lotion and second their products. I bought it when I was out of state for a wedding and it kept my hands soft after repeated hand washing.

    14. Lady Danbury*

      E45 cream is awesome for my super dry skin. It’s a cream so it’s on the thicker side but still easy to apply. Readily available at your local Boots/Superdrug. I’ve also heard great things about La Roche Posay’s Lipikar range. Dove and Nivea’s nourishing body washes are also working well for me. I find that products that are targeted towards eczema tend to be good for dry skin.

      Oils/butters don’t work for me on their own because they’re occlusives so they don’t hydrate. When I use them alone, I end up with dry, shiny skin. They do work if I layer them over a hydrating lotion/cream that contains humectants, especially on damp skin post shower.

    15. J.B.*

      I got a mix of Shea butter and baby oil which is easy to spread. It looks like hand sanitizer but is not :)

    16. Ashkela*

      I’m getting conflicting answers about whether or not it’s available in the UK, but Renew lotion has been a godsend for me from Melaleuca. I slather myself in that stuff.

    17. Bobina*

      Thanks for all your answers! There’s a mix of new and familiar names in there (but which I might not have trusted) so glad I have a bunch of options to try now :)

      1. Aly_b*

        Coming in late and with no idea if they’re available in the UK, but bioderma has been really doing the trick for me.

    18. LemonLyman*

      I’ve discovered that the key to moisturizing is to apply the moisturizer when I’m still damp from the shower. I’ll get out, lightly pat dry with a towel but allow some water to remain, and then moisturize my entire body with a lotion that has a humectant (like glycerine or hyaluronic acid), is emollient, and is occlusive. This application helps minimize transepidermal water loss, which leads to dry and cracked skin, as the humectant grabs onto waters to create moisture, the emollient properties make my skin soft, and occlusive creates a barrier that prevents the moisture from evaporation. I am a big fan of the Cerave Moisture Cream in the tub for this process (others have recommended this, too!). It seems thick but when applied immediately after the shower on damp skin, it sinks into the skin and dries nicely in a matter of minutes.

  19. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Switch off strategies? I’m struggling at the moment switching off from The Place That Shall Not Be Named. I’m dealing with a particularly gnarly situation there that is so stressful it’s often bleeding over into my off time and I’m getting really frustrated with myself that I’m allowing thoughts about it to interrupt the enjoyment of my weekend. During the week: whatever. But I resent not being able to fully disengage on my days off because I really need that time to recharge. My Sundays have become pre-Mondays and I HATE that.

    I’m having some success applying mindfulness techniques, reading (actual paper) books before bed and doing intense physical activity. One especially bad day this week when I couldn’t calm myself down I smoked a cigarette. I know that’s not healthy, but wow, it worked a darn treat and I got to enjoy the rest of my day off and sleep soundly that night.

    The Gnarly Situation is likely to continue a few months, so I’m curious to know what else works for others to help switch off?

    *No medical/drug advice please or advice about navigating The Situation in The Place.

    1. Jay*

      It always helps me to have a specific thing to do out of the house on the weekend, preferably Saturday morning. I love to plan so that makes my work week happier and then we get to go do the thing and it feels like a real break in the routine and gets me away from the chores I feel like I should be doing at home. Doesn’t have to be a big thing or cost a lot of money – when the weather is good we pick new places to walk or hike and then (if we can do it safely) maybe a little boutique browsing and a lunch out. Sometimes we go to a winery or brewery or distillery for tastings.

      And this is one of the reasons I started going to Friday night services regularly and having Shabbat dinner at home (clearly this works better if you feel connected to Jewish practice). The ritual nature of it and the complete separation from work helped me reset. I think a ritual of any kind would serve the purpose and you don’t need to be Jewish to make a special meal, light candles, have a glass of wine, and relax. I have friends who do pizza and movies with their kids every Friday and I think it gives them the same effect.

      1. Reba*

        ITA with having a “thing” to do — unstructured time in which I’m supposed to relax is just time when Work Thoughts keep swirling around.

        On a daily basis I think a hobby or something that occupies the mind a bit really helps me. Lately it’s knitting, which is a chill activity but I have to pay a certain amount of attention to it. Similarly doing an exercise class or something works better for me than doing it unguided, because at least in my case that’s helpful to keep my mind on the present activity.

        Anyway Memes you are not alone!!

    2. crookedglasses*

      Any time I go camping, I flip my phone into airplane mode. That’s especially valuable during two or three night backpacking trips, but I’ve found even a quick one night trip can be really helpful for decompressing.

      I find the combination of hauling out into the woods and airplane mode to be effective, but there’s no reason you couldn’t do a similar unplugging closer to home. Though I do think having some sort of location shake-up helps. Good luck!

    3. Cocafonix*

      Having a creative hobby for me has been a panacea to ruminating about issues. Whenever my mind strays to the unnamed place, I start brainstorming ideas on my next creative project. My partner and I at first mocked, then actively borrowed the Japanese term of “forest bathing.” We live in the forest, so we walk in the woods all the time. We’re simply more mindful of its benefits if we use the time to enjoy where we are.

    4. just another bureaucrat*

      Change clothes. Do not wear non work clothes during work times. The nonwork clothes should be sacred to help with the off switch. (I would say the same about space in so much as that can be done.) Commute. Sorry I know everyone is going to scream. But commute. However you have to. At the very least leave your home and re-enter it. I have a podcast that I ONLY get to listen to on my way HOME. It is “this is now home mode” for my brain. But have “this is now home time” action.

      I have a lot of automated lighting in my home that I love and …It’s sort of soothing in that I don’t need to think about time at home. I put down the phone a lot other than listening to podcasts. I will often not look at it for a long period of time. The worst is if I’m expecting a delivery.

      Have a non/that place thing to look forward to. It can be something from a great big vacation, to brunch with a friend, to trying a new recipe, to (my favorite) having clean sheets on the bed. Indulge in that thing.

      And then the thing I do when they are really bad, I give myself 5 minutes, I literally set a timer and just …RANT. I live by myself so I just do it to an empty apartment. All of the swearing and cursing and rage as fast as I can. The timer goes off and now it’s time to be done. It weirdly works pretty well for me. But you have to obey the timer. I have an activity that I need to do after, sometimes it’s make the bed or make dinner, or brush my teeth, or take out the trash. But it’s 5 minutes, then I need to do X thing.

    5. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Good headphones, loud music. I have playlists I specifically made to take up enough of my attention that I can’t ruminate on whatever is currently worrying me.

      The downside, of course, is that people have a hard time getting my attention. So it doesn’t work if I’m, say, cleaning with my family, or watching kids.

      1. Jay*

        That’s how I get through chores I really don’t want to do. Headphones and the Brandenburg Concerti blasting. I used to use that to de-stress in college – and once with my 1970s stereo I didn’t push the headphone jack all the way in and woke up my roommates at 3:00 AM.

    6. LMKthi*

      If I can’t be distracted by my usual things (reading, music), what helps for me is making plans on what I’m going to do when I win the lottery. I make lists of who is worthy of sharing the money with, look at houses online where I’m going to live, etc. In my dreams? Absolutely! Usually works to take my mind somewhere more pleasant though.

    7. Hippeas*

      Man, I feel you! It helps me to schedule immersive activities that start as soon as I get home at the end of the day/week.

      You’ve gotten tons of good ideas so far. The thing that I had to overcome was the fear of letting myself become immersed in something and therefore suddenly I wasn’t hyper vigilant about The Situation, which was terrifying! It felt like it meant it could sneak up on me and bite me in the ass when I dared to relax. So instead I’d browse the Interwebs all day, never getting immersed or enjoying myself, but always being ready to drop my phone in an instant and improve The Situation via worrying about it /end sarcasm.

      My advice is to schedule the immersive thing anyway. Watch a movie Friday night even if you don’t feel like it or are tired. Read a good book or go for a walk in a new place, get a massage, volunteer somewhere, call an old friend, do arts and crafts, plant indoor seeds, go rock climbing, take a cocktail-making or wine tasting class, clean up your local highway, make a list of hikes in your areas and print a map and make a list and put pins in the trails
      You’ve hiked. Try that other thing you’ve been wondering about. Look up Airbnb experiences in your area or see what interest groups are out there on Meetup.

      The intent isn’t necessarily to have fun (though that would be great, and you obviously don’t want to choose a frustrating or stressful activity) as much as it is to fully immerse yourself into Not The Situation.

      You’re not trying to find something you’ll definitely love or is the hands-down best use of your time. It’s just to do something immersive (new things are often immersive but if you love playing music or kayaking you can do that). Anything that you lose track of time while doing is very good.

      Bonus points if you can find deep connection with another human or animal while you do that. That reminds you that the world is not hostile.

      I find that very rejuvenating. Good luck.

    8. Anon ruminator*

      This week one of my parents had a health scare this week complete with emergency room visit that ultimately turned out fine but was the first time we’ve had that level of scare with them. I have found myself ruminating on the experience and the things I need to talk to my parents about as they age. One of the things that’s helping me to set that aside and do other things (like literally sleep at night) is having a list where I can write down all of my “and also” things I keep thinking of. Once it’s written down, I don’t have to keep thinking about it and going over it again and again in my head because it’s on a list and I don’t have to worry I’ll forget about it. Depending on what kinds of things about The Situation are bleeding into your non-work time, that might be a way to acknowledge it and set it aside so you can take a break from it.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I have found journaling helpful, in the moment, writing about that place gives it more attention but once I’ve written it down, it’s out of my head. I use Brene Brown’s ****ty first drafts method (inspired by Anne Lamott) where you write the story you’re telling yourself with all the gritty and gory details, then write how you will get to the brave ending. I think this was from Rising Strong or Daring Greatly. I keep notes in my phone and write them in the moment when ruminating.

        I’ve also started keeping a gratitude list. There are variations, like write 3 things every day you’re grateful for and other prompts online or in special preprinted journals etc.

    9. Janet Pinkerton*

      Okay I’m someone who has maybe one cigarette a month and I love them, but I’ve never been a smoker beyond that. I haven’t had a cigarette in like a year (was pregnant) but sometimes I’ll just go sit outside and play around on my phone and imagine I’m smoking a cigarette. Nicotine is great, for sure, but so is being alone, outdoors, and only doing one thing for the duration of the cigarette. (This only works because I don’t have a dependency on nicotine, imagining it is sufficient.) It’s kooky but it might work for you too.

  20. Lady Whistledown*

    Savory muffins!

    What are your favorite tips, tricks, and recipes for savory muffins?

    1. BooklovinRN*

      You didn’t mention any preferences food wise, but I default to meatless when first recommending recipes.
      The first is not a muffin, but with puff pastry from the supermarket freezer is easy to put together and depending on how many are sharing it with you can be a week’s worth of breakfasts and one of my favorite anytime meals:
      https://smitten kitchen.com/2013/12/breakfast-slab-pie/

      I don’t use the glaze on these and they are savory sweet because of the tahini.


      This one is great for breakfast and with soups.

    2. aceinplainsight*

      Sort of sweet/savory muffins: bran muffins! With raisins and lots of molasses, but the trick is to soak bran cereal in milk and use it as the base for your muffins. I use my grandma’s recipe. They’re delicious with butter and cheese!

    3. Nela*

      (I use metric units)
      ▫️250g flour (I mix wheat and corn)
      ▫️1 tsp baking powder
      ▫️300ml yogurt
      ▫️2 large eggs
      ▫️100g cheese
      ▫️ 50ml olive oil
      ▫️1 tbsp oregano
      ▫ Ham, bacon, or sausage to taste
      ▫ Spring onions to taste

      Bake on 180°C for about 25-30 min

    4. the cat's pajamas*

      Not exactly a muffin, one time when money was tight I added a bunch of spices like Italian seasoning and dried dill or thyme to buttermilk biscuit mix following the recipe on the box and they are really good and super easy/inexpensive.

    5. Angstrom*

      Turkey muffins from “Rocket Fuel” by Matthew Kadeem. Taste like stuffing!
      1/4 cup + 2 tsp oil
      1 lb lean ground turkey
      1 1/2 cup ww pastry flour
      1 Tbl dried sage
      2 tsp garlic powder
      1 Tbl sugar
      1 tsp baking powder
      1/4 tsp baking soda
      2 lg eggs
      1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      1 1/4c 2% plain yogurt
      Can substitute other flours — spelt, all- purpose, etc.
      Change spices to taste

    6. Anono-me*

      I like corn muffins, but I am untraditional (which is unsettling to some people) inthat I use a mix and add in whatever I have on hand that sounds good, usually cheese.

      Not a true muffin recipe; but it might be close enough to suit you.

      -Can of chili.
      -Small corn muffin mix and listed additional ingredients (I think Jiffy is an egg, some cooking out and some water.
      -Cup of shredded cheese cheese
      -Optional cup of shredded/ground cooked meat or meatless equivalent.
      -Optional 1/4 cup diced onion.

      Preheat oven to temperature on muffin mix. Combine muffin mix as directed and let rest while assembling the rest of the dish.
      Grease pan. Add chili, then layer in any protein, onions and 1/2 of the cheese. Spread with muffin mix. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake as directed on the box.

  21. NoLongerFencer*

    My baby was born 2 weeks early and is in the NICU for monitoring due to apnea (low pulseox dips) likely associated with posterior tongue tie (which they recommend watch/wait not snipping). Baby feeds great (donor milk plus my milk), high Apgar, smiles a ton, great reflexes, but NICU won’t (understandably) discharge until a week apnea episode-free.

    Any NICU parents/families out there? How did you cope with visiting your baby, leaving them at the hospital each time, plus uncertainty of when he’s coming home? I’ve only told immediate family aka baby’s grandparents and one or two others. I can’t deal with the pity because I know I’d fall apart. It’s one day at a time, and yes, I know he is in the best of care. It just feels like parental putgatory.

    1. Emily*

      Oh, so many hugs from this NICU mama to you. Ours was a very unexpected stay, and we are so grateful for a healthy baby boy now, but I’m still dealing with the trauma of the experience. Some practical tips that helped me: I called the NICU the “baby spa” to myself, to take away some of the scariness. So when I’d be up at night panicked about how Baby was doing, I’d say “he’s at the baby spa getting lots of attention!”. Silly, but kind of helpful. I also didn’t tell anyone besides immediate family, for the same reason. It’s just too hard. So I leaned a lot on my spouse, and let myself cry and have all the outbursts that I needed. Because you have every right to be sad, and scared, and to feel like this just totally sucks.
      When going to and from the hospital for visits, I always treated myself to a little something- a Starbucks coffee, a treat from Panera, or even just downloading a new podcast/book to listen to, to make the outing feel more “normal” and also feel like I was taking care of myself in the midst of being solely focused on my baby.
      All in all- there’s not much that can help when all you really want is to be home with your baby in your arms. Just take it one hour at a time, and find the little moments of joy where you can. Stand in your sunshine, and be that sunshine to your sweet baby. If nothing else, please know that this Internet stranger is keeping you and your baby in their thoughts this weekend

      1. NoLongerFencer*

        Thanks so much, this really, really helps, self-care, baby Spa perspective, etc. <:)

    2. AGD*

      LA writer Danny Miller has a blog called “Jew Eat Yet?” and the archives hold an account in increments of his son’s time in the NICU in 2009 after a very premature birth, if it sounds like that would be a source of assistance/commiseration/interest.

    3. Anonymously Yours*

      We ended up in the NICU for eight weeks, but my three year old is now happy and healthy and has no I’ll effects what so ever. Maybe try thinking of it that way: this is the first bunch of days in a very long wonderful life, for which you will be utterly present. Day by day, hour by hour, you and your baby will get through and have many wonderful hours and days together!

      I also reminded myself that the NICU nurses were experts who know so much about little baby care, so I was getting a lot of good information and best practices from them. I mean, of course I would rather have taken my little one home, but I was trying to make the best of it.

      Many many many hugs, I am thinking of you!

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      I don’t have this experience, but just heard about a new book, Navigating the NICU: A Guide to Self Care for Parents by Rebecca Servoss—sounds like it may be up your alley if books are your thing right now.

      Wishing your family all the best.

    5. MoMac*

      I wish I could send you some hugs. Just over 25 years ago my son was born 2 months premature at a whopping 3 pounds and spent 6 weeks in the NICU. I was fortunate that I could take the time and just go to the hospital. Back then they would not allow kangaroo care so I sat outside of his isolette singing and talking to him with my arms physically aching to hold him. At the time it seemed endless. And watching the other babies get discharged before him was an acute pain. I learned to knit, I read books, and I learned about cardiac issues. I usually drove up to arrive mid-morning and left as 3rd shift was arriving. One night I said to my husband, “it was so busy at work today,” and I realized it was taking up too much of my cognitive space. Make sure to drink lots of water, it is so dry in there. And dehydration is bad for pumping. I felt so alone. It helped when a few friends visited because it made me feel more normal. His first day home was hard for him until we realized that it was too quiet and turned on a radio. My son is now taller than his father, was in NHS and graduated summa cum laude from college. He shows no lingering effects of his early hospital stay. He was on theophylline for his apnea in the hospital but was off it by the time he discharged. He never developed asthma. It seems like it will never end as you watch the long parade of babies go home while you are still stuck. But one day it will happen and those days will recede into the past as you are with your growing, curious child. It was such a small period of his life and you would never know today that his start in life was rocky. I hope you find yourselves at home together soon. You can get through this.

    6. Katie*

      Not the NICU but the PICU, but my daughter was there for a week (all is good now). They let me stay there, so I did. I ‘slept’ in a little chair. It is incredibly stressful and all I can recommend is taking it one day at a time and focusing on the positive. There was lots of tears and stress. Advocate for your baby and don’t take crappy answers from the doctors if you feel something is wrong.
      I hope your baby gets to go home soon!

    7. California Dreamin’*

      My daughter spent a week in the NICU after birth. I couldn’t really visit her much at all because her twin brother had come home and was nursing… he couldn’t come to the hospital and I couldn’t really be away from him yet. It was really hard for me! I felt like no one was there to live on her. My husband went more than I did, and it was rough on him splitting his time between two new babies that way. And older son was totally lost in the shuffle. But in the end, I bonded just fine with my daughter when she got home, and she spent 3 months on anti seizure meds but then was completely fine. The medical staff in the NICU are truly amazing people. Your baby is in great hands!

    8. Observer*

      Why are the doctors not recommending you don’t snip the tongue tie? If it’s really causing apnea severe enough to keep the kid in the hospital, then it seems reasonable to just deal with it. And snipping the tie is generally not that big of a deal. So I’m wondering if there is something else going on?

      In any case, would it help if you asked some of your close family to also take visiting rotations? Would the hospital allow it? For some parents it’s helpful because it doesn’t feel so much like you’ve left the baby “alone”.

  22. Constance Lloyd*

    Knitting and other fiber art friends… have any of you dipped your toes into designing? Any tips, tricks, fun and silly stories? I’m not looking to monetize anything, but I really love knitting sweaters and I finally splurged one some design software (envisioknit) so I can make and gift the sweaters of my dreams, but the math and scaling side of things feels a bit intimidating!

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        In case it’s just us here, my starting plan is to use patterns I already have and adapt the color work charts to my own designs. I figure I can add or remove a few stitches in different places and learn how that affects the overall pattern and scale as I go. That said, I’ll take any tips I can get to speed up the whole learning from my own mistakes process.

        1. Pucci*

          Base the shape of each piece off a pattern that you know fits right and use yarn of a similar weight. From there select your pattern stitch, with the caveat if you are doing a lot of cabling, base the shape off another item with a lot of cables, as the cables will affect the fit.

    1. another Hero*

      I am not much of a pattern follower, though my designing leans analog – I’m just trying to make a thing once, not write a pattern from it. but while I don’t use full patterns much, I do really appreciate general formulas like the Fringe Association series on improvising a raglan (not linked because I don’t want to add to Alison’s weekend moderation but it’ll come up if you google those terms) that communicate ratios rather than stitch counts. it’s helpful when looking into kinds of garments I haven’t made before, especially. if you’re looking to copy existing patterns you like as the base, ime still looking at the ratios is most useful (as in, it doesn’t matter that you have fifteen decrease rows in the sleeve, it matters that you do them every six rows, or whatever). if this is very obvious, well, cool, you’re set lol. maybe as you’re getting used to it, you could make some things for yourself and work on patterns you can try on as you go? socks, gloves/mittens, top-down sweaters? that way you could sort of physically check your math as you go? and then you’ll be able to branch out with confidence.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Oh this sounds wonderful. I have a tendency to over plan and research, but all of those concepts you mentioned are familiar and make sense, so this is going to be an especially helpful resource to take me from theory to action. Thank you!

    2. Cocafonix*

      Well, I was going to start a thread on, “never knitted before and was gifted one of those knobby plastic scarf/hat knitting loom thingys and wondering if it requires a high level of skill?” I think I’ll just admire the “I design knitted stuff of my dreams” mastery thread in awe instead.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It super doesn’t – I had a kit to make Barbie clothes using knitting spools that I was using solo when I was like seven, they’re dirt easy to do :)

    3. Reba*

      This is so interesting to me! I’m definitely still a learner so not ready to try, but I have had the thought cross my mind that I would like to design my own [whatever]. Or put X cable pattern on Y garment.

      Have you come across any reading that you think is helpful?

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        There used to be an app called Bellish that let you choose garments, yarn weight, and design elements and it would generate a pattern for you to follow, but it disappeared. I really like stranded color work, so when I started dipping my toes into making my own color chart I practiced on a basic beanie pattern (the Dover and Classer on Ravelry, if you’re looking) and used graphing paper and colored pencils to play around with fair isle designs I could add to the pre-existing structure of the hat. If you like mittens, Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Knitted Mittens includes 45 of her own patterns as well as a blank mitten chart and some motif charts in the back so you can make your own design. I’ve also really liked the book AlterKnit by Andrea Rangel and 150 Scandinavian Motifs by Mary Jane Mucklestone. Both have been helpful in understanding how color work designs work and I’ve been able to essentially layer those on blank canvas patterns with decent success. I think to really perfect things like creating an actual sweater structure in various sizes I just have to play around!

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, I design knitted items. I write patterns for my own use and to keep a record of what I did.
      There are many design-your-own sweater books out there, such as Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Knitting Workshop” that has her Percentage System for the math/scaling problem. You might want to start with putting a panel of your choosing onto an existing pattern. Remember that cables tend to pull in the sides, lace stitches expand your piece, garter stitch pulls in vertically. Make a large swatch before starting for accuracy. Your sweater will look better if you block it after knitting.
      My best advice is: just jump in and have fun! Start small for a quick victory!
      Happy Knitting!

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Thank you! That book is exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve knit over a dozen fair isle sweaters and am fairly comfortable winging something for myself since I can try it on as I go, but when it comes to garments I plan to gift winging it just feels too risky. Much appreciated!

    5. marvin the paranoid android*

      I have designed a lot of my own crochet patterns, but I tend to make smaller stuff and find crochet more intuitive, so it’s not the same scale as trying to design a pattern for a knit sweater. For me, it’s just a lot of trial and error, but it’s always rewarding when something comes out the way you want. If you’re finding larger projects intimidating, you could start by designing some smaller stuff from scratch, or take an existing base pattern and experiment with making changes to it.

  23. matcha123*

    Do you have any tips for making better decisions?

    I realize that the decisions we make are based on a variety of unique factors. But what I’m thinking about is how to make a calm and rational decision without defaulting to fear.
    When you make big decisions, for example whether to tell another person something personal or whether or not to make an expensive purchase, what steps do you take? And do you feel satisfied?
    I find myself later feeling frustrated at steps I feel I should I taken for a better outcome. (ie- If only I didn’t have some much anxiety related to budgeting and cooking, I’d have more savings, etc.)

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I ask myself 3 questions:
      What’s the worst possible outcome?
      What’s the best possible outcome?
      What’s the most likely outcome?
      (And then usually the actual outcome is none of the above!)

      1. matcha123*

        These are good questions. My mind is also making the likely outcome and the worst possible outcome the same, however…

        1. Suprisingly ADHD*

          That sounds kinda like catastrophizing, when your mind gets caught on the scariest possibility. It’s a really hard habit to break, I struggle with it too. Some people find it helpful to work on it with a therapist, but I don’t have one at the moment.

          You may find it helpful to practice on low-stakes questions. Decisions you make every day that you don’t find stressful, or where you can easily change your mind later. That “most likely outcome” assessment is like a muscle that you can build up a little at a time.

          You can also write/type all the factors and sort them accordingly. Sort them however makes sense to you, for instance, good/bad/in between/unrealistic. Combine duplicates that are under one header (eg, “5 minutes late” and “10 minutes late” can be combined as “slightly late”). Sometimes just seeing the facts heaped mostly under one heading can help you choose the most likely.

          Alternatively, finding ways to minimize how much you beat yourself up for past decisions can help you feel better about your current ones. The way you think about yourself has a huge impact on how you feel about yourself. Try to think “past-me was really struggling, she did the best she could” instead of “I made so many dumb choices.” It’s very hard but it makes a difference over time.

          I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, anxiety is a sucky thing that pops up so many ways. I hope you find the coping methods that work for you.

        2. Hotdog not dog*

          It almost never is, though. Frequently it turns out to be somewhere in the neutral to positive zone (assuming it ends up being a thing I decided to move forward on.)

    2. Cj*

      My husband has extreme difficulty making decisions, and no matter what the outcome will second-guess himself. I’m interested to see what people have to say in this thread.

    3. Aealias*

      I tend to discuss, argue pros and cons, look very hard at the disadvantages of each side… and then I make a firm decision, commit to it, and keep it to myself for two days. During those to days, I’m either happy and excited, or sick to my stomach and filled with dread. I let that emotional feedback guide the decision that I implement.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think small daily decisions like cooking and sticking to a budget are much harder than big ones, because they are so relentless and multivalent. You’re making them constantly, often unconsciously, among nearly infinite choices, and the results are cumulative, far in the future. It’s exhausting!

      Major decisions seem easier to me in many respects. For one thing, you usually have plenty of time to think about whether you want to do a thing at all, before you have to choose exactly how to do it (buying a house, for example).

      There are usually limited options to choose among (tell a secret, don’t tell, write a letter to be opened later, tell another person you will tell if they don’t).

      My main strategy for coping with big decisions, bad news, or scary things on a practical level, is exhaustive research. The main thing I worry or get frustrated about is when I feel like I have to make an important decision without enough information to do a proper risk/benefit analysis. No choice is perfect and everything is a tradeoff, so I need to know what I’m trading. When I have a good sense of all the factors involved, I can usually choose the priorities that matter to me most.

      When it’s something moral or interpersonal like whether or not to tell a secret, I dig down into my beliefs and principles to see what applies and what is most important. I pray, get advice from people whose judgment and values I trust and sometimes read scripture to help clarify.

      It helps, I think, that I don’t believe choosing wrong on a practical level is the worst possible outcome. I believe that the moral/spiritual aspect of a decision is the most important, and as long as I get my priorities straight and exercise reasonable prudence, things will work out in the long run. I’m okay with being mistaken, but I don’t want to do wrong to anyone if I can help it. And when I screw up, there is forgiveness.

      We all make suboptimal decisions, sometimes with negative consequences. But dealing with those consequences is the stuff of life that nobody is immune to. I get peace by knowing I made the best decision I could with the information available, under the circumstances I was in.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      When you feel that frustration because of a “short-coming” why not modify your future methods to include something that fills that gap?

      This means figure out what it takes for you to be satisfied with your own decision. Your answer will be different from mine or anyone else’s.

      Telling someone something personal. Know your reason for telling them. Are you trying to help them through their problem? Are you seeking their advice because you really respect their thoughts on matters? Do they have a tangent area of expertise that you can learn something from? Know your reason why you are telling them. If you don’t see a reason, it’s okay to make your default answer not to tell them.

      Expensive purchase. Let your previous expensive purchases teach you. Twenty year old me spent $30 on a picnic basket that I never, ever used. I hauled that basket through life with me for decades because at the time I purchased it, it had cost me 3 days pay. It was an expensive purchase to me at that time.

      Sooo many lessons here. I put things in the perspective of how many days did I work to pay for this? Will I get that much in value from the service this item gives me? The picnic basket stood out with me because it was disconnected from reality- I very seldom went on picnics but I felt I should have a picnic basket. This purchase taught me to think about how much use I would get from the item and to NOT to use emotions for making decisions about money.

      That picnic basket purchase went forward into many other buying decisions. The one time I bought a brand new car, I picked something modestly priced for that time. Then I later learned that again I bought more than I needed for the way I was using it. Each scratch almost made me cry, dents were so worrisome. I learned that reliability was really the most important thing to me. A brand new car did not bring me joy the way it does other people. I have bought used cars ever since, no regrets. I am not a car person. If my good used car gets a little scratch my life goes on. I modified my buying decisions about cars because of what I learned.

      So let’s go bigger: house. From the car and the picnic basket I realized I needed to be really practical. I wrote a list of things a house I buy MUST have. Then I wrote a secondary list of “nice to haves”. Must haves included a garage and everything being on one level. Nice to haves included a screened in porch. I thought I looked at a lot of cars…. nooo… I looked at way more houses. That was because I had no reference points. It took looking at many houses before I got oriented to making a decision. There is a learning curve to purchases and it is okay to allow time to get through the curve. We had trusted friends and family look at different houses with us. When we decided to buy this one, we had so many conversations under our belts that we knew this one was The House.

      In recent years one of my fav things to do is buy a used, modestly priced version of something to see how it goes. I have done this with furniture, vacuum cleaners and other items. It ties me over while I decide on the real purchase and I also develop a stronger idea of features I like and dislike. Added bonus, if I really don’t like it I have not wasted a big bunch of money.

      It’s good to realize there is a learning curve. It’s helpful to copy from someone else who has successfully purchased something that you’d like to have too. And it’s helpful to realize that you will make mistakes. Mistakes can be sold at tag sales, donated to raise funds for charity, given to friends and these mistake purchases can sometimes be used for barter. A mistake is not the end, it’s just a little detour on the way to getting what you actually want.

      Bigger picture, of the decisions I have made in life I do have regrets. We all do. Regrets are not fatal. We can let those regrets teach us. If we end up in a bad spot because of a poor decision we can look around to see what opportunities we have to correct course. Sometimes I read about people facing huge difficulty in life just to see what creative thing they did to change their course. Seeing a person work through Big Mistake X can make my smaller mistake Y seem manageable. Always keep in mind, if we never try anything we never make a mistake. But somehow never trying anything is also a mistake…..

    6. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Is part of the fear worrying about what other people (friends? family? loved ones? ) will say if you do something that is allegedly “wrong”?

      I have toxic family members like that who are constantly saying things like “Why didn’t you do X?” They don’t really want to know why — their question is really more like a statement of “You should have done X like I do because I am superior.” They are being jerks.

      Captain Awkward suggests putting people like that on an “information diet.” No telling them things that are going to trigger their toxic comments.

      Instead, maybe focus on A. figuring out what you feel like doing in this situation and B. allowing yourself to make mistakes and to change your mind. Almost every “mistake” can be un-done/re-done/fixed eventually. Maybe you tried cooking that recipe and it totally didn’t work out. That’s okay. Have something else for dinner and call it good. Maybe you moved into an apartment that doesn’t suit you so well. Okay, when the lease is up, maybe you’ll move again. Maybe you revealed something personal to your significant other and they acted like a jerk about it. Okay, that’s valuable information for you to know so that you can decide if THEY are worth keeping in YOUR life.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        P.S. There is a Sesame Street Song sung by Big Bird called “Everyone Makes Mistakes” that is probably available on YouTube. It goes something like this: “Oh, everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do! Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too. Big people, small people, matter of fact, all people — everyone makes mistakes so why can’t you? If everyone in the whole wide world makes mistakes then why can’t you?”

    7. I'm Done*

      I do a lot of research up front and then do a pros and cons list. That usually clears up a lot of things for me. In addition, I look at worst possible outcome if it’s something that has more significant impact on my life such as switching jobs or moving to a different city or even country. Once the decision is made, I don’t second guess myself. I’ve done pretty well with my life changing decisions. Sure, one could often have done something better or different in retrospect but life is not perfect and that’s half the fun.

    8. Fikly*

      What I have found helpful is before researching options or thinking about what I like or don’t like about the various choices, I think about my risk tolerance for this particular decision.

      Once I start looking at options, it can be easy to be swayed by impulses or the oooh, shiny, or on the opposite side, but what if this isn’t the perfect choice? So by starting with what my risk tolerance is, it helps set the stage much better.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I can overthink things to the point of analysis paralysis, where sometimes I have to force myself to just pick an option randomly because there’s no clear best answer. I’ve come to the conclusion that no decision is going to be perfect, and that I give most decisions a LOT more consideration than most people do, so I keep telling myself that I made the best decision I could at that time with the information I had. Sometimes I imagine myself choosing a different option, and I force myself to think it completely through, and I realize that it probably wouldn’t have been any better, or it would have been better regarding this one thing, but it could have been worse about another, and there’s no way to really know.

      If I really feel like my decision was suboptimal, then I try to consider it a good and worthwhile lesson to remember for next time, something that actually demonstrated the difference between decisions in a way that I will surely remember, and it was worth the (less optimal part of the decision I made) to have such a concrete and memorable example.

      For example, I sold Tesla before it shot up, and I lost money on crypto. But those were both good lessons for me on why I shouldn’t dabble in individual investments, I should stick to my index fund strategy. If I want the thrill of risk and gambling, I now know I should go to a casino and play a few hundred on the slots or something.

    10. bananas in pajamas*

      I’ve used a priority matrix, you make a chart of all the relevant factors in your decision like price, how much support you have, etc.

      Then you rank each choice and factor in a scale like 1-5 or 1-10 and add them up. The choice with the highest score wins.

    11. marvin the paranoid android*

      This is something I’m working on in therapy a lot. I think I’m like you, I tend to let anxiety take over, which usually just makes me delay making a decision for way too long.

      What I’m trying to learn to do is to untangle my thoughts and feelings. For me at least, my thoughts are very fear-based and can argue both sides convincingly, but on the rare occasions when I am aware of how I feel about a decision, I’m able to follow through even when it’s hard, and I never regret my choice. Which is great, except I’m so used to being up in my thoughts, it’s a real process to learn how to see past the clutter into how I actually feel. But it does get easier with practice.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      There’s frameworks of how to make decisions. These are often geared for business use, but there’s no reason you can’t adapt them for you to use. Perhaps if you make a very strict effort to follow one of the frame works you’ll have an easier time of it.

  24. Llellayena*

    House hunting thread! How are you surviving?

    The market has been light in choices for me lately so I’m focusing on the one in my ideal community that will be on market in 2 weeks. I’m doing all things you shouldn’t do that get your hopes up like research furniture and price out new flooring (house definitely has carpet, I want hard floors). What other things have you done while waiting desperately to put an offer in? I need something to distract me!

    1. Bethlam*

      I am not house hunting, (still living in the house we built almost 20 years ago), but I thought your thread last weekend was interesting, and was surprised to see the comments about investors buying up houses as I knew nothing about that. And then! Did you happen to see 60 minutes on Sunday? Leslie Stahl did a segment on the lack of housing, although it was mostly slanted toward the outrageous rent increases.

      But some surprising (to me) things that were highlighted:
      *investors are buying up to 30% of single family homes, which they refurbish if necessary, and then rent out (Look up Tri-Con Residential – they featured that company on the piece).
      *these are usually all cash offers
      *investors are buying sight unseen and waiving inspection fees
      *homes are often sold before regular home-buyers even have a chance to look at the place

      Not to depress you, but the conclusion of the piece was that this means home ownership is increasingly out of reach for single family homebuyers. They also talked about why there is such a shortage of homes, and where and why this is happening the most (the whole Sunbelt). It was eye-opening. You can go to the 60 Minutes web site and it’s on the first page.

      1. Medievalist*

        This happened to the house next to me, and another one down the block. The rents the investors are now charging are pretty insane too. I’m sure my ex-neighbors loved the payoff from selling their house (it sold thousands over a high asking price, with a bidding war, in just three days on market), but it’s depressing that families can’t afford to buy (or rent without multiple roommates!) in what used to be the most affordable part of my small southern city.

        Here’s hoping things work out better for Llellayena!

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      I mentioned last week that I am on the other side of this as a seller. Inventory is super-tight where I am, and it is tough to break into the market. I hope your bid is successful!

    3. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I’m hanging in there! Found a place that could be The One but comps and prices in our market are going substantially above ask so I am nervous about the bidding war I might be getting into. Currently waiting to hear back from my realtor about what the seller’s interests are and if there are other offers to see where we can begin negotiations.

      I am distracting myself with movies. It being Oscars weekend means a lot of the nominated films are available on streaming so I am working my way down the list. And also Bridgerton Season 2 just came out so that’s what I’ll be watching when I run out of movies. (Last weekend was Squid Game.) I can’t get too far ahead of myself researching furniture, flooring, etc. I feel like that will jinx me. Buuuuut if I happen to see interior design pictures on Pinterest while I’m looking up recipes to cook for dinner this week, well…

      Some friendly advice from someone who is also searching in a light and competitive market: do not wait to see the house. Tour it the very first day it’s on the market and put your offer in ASAP. Properties around me are coming on the market Thursday and going under contract by Sunday morning.

      1. Llellayena*

        Yup, as much as I can I’ve been going the day they come out (only so much time off work). I still get beat out by people who can put in a better offer than me. Sigh.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Mostly just resigning myself to living in this apartment forever *sob*

      Not entirely, lol, but there are little things I was waiting to buy a house for and have stopped waiting. Like I wanted to replace our dining set with a nicer one, but went ahead and got new chairs for now even though they’re cheap and don’t match the table. I’ve been thinking about doing a specific type of themed mini Christmas tree and bought one on clearance for next year even though we don’t have a good spot to display it. Bought a ton of books I’ve been wanting even though they’re a pain to move with, got an Instant Pot despite the limited counter space, etc.

  25. Squidhead*

    Friends are facing medical bills after their child was seriously injured. They have a GoFundMe page, but is there any good reason I can’t/shouldn’t just mail them a check? (I know that GFM is great for supporting strangers, but we know their address and I’d rather just send some money directly unless this is actually less helpful for them.)

    1. merope*

      There may be a financial difference (i.e. GoFundMe may keep a certain amount of the donations to cover their own costs), but I think there’s a psychological difference as well. There is a personal component to sending the cheque that isn’t present in the GoFundMe, in my estimation. That is, you know your friend best: would they see the money as the gift you intend, or would they, because of the direct, personal connection, feel an obligation to repay you or make other concessions? If the latter, it might be easier to add to the GFM, which de-personalizes your contribution, and pad your donation a little to cover any GFM admin costs.

    2. WellRed*

      A friend suffered a brain injury (she’s fine) and was a single self employed mom. A family friend sells an MLM product and did one of those online %of sales thingies to raise money for friend who was a bit embarrassed. I laugh about because I hated the products (scents) and she got about $6. I told her, “I should have just given you the $30!. I say give them the cash.

    3. Double A*

      The only thing with a check is that it’s slightly more inconvenient to cash, and adding one more bureaucractic task to a stressful time is…maybe not the best? I know it seems so simple, but when you’re maxed out even a small extra task can seem overwhelming. The GoFundMe is all in one place and accessible in the same way. If they do want to thank people, the list is all in one place.

      I thought that GFM does give 100% of the proceeds to the people? You can “tip” which is what pays GFM. So I don’t really see the reason not to.

      1. Venus*

        Unfortunately not 100%. GFM charges 2.9% according to their website. So better to send money directly.

    4. crabcake*

      I would just send a check, or a private Venmo if you use that. GFM is great for the people in their lives who don’t have their address, don’t know them well, or strangers. But since you know them well, a check won’t have the GFM cut taken off the top, and it might be easier to access the funds quickly. (I don’t know how GFM works for getting the $ out.) These days nearly every bank will let you deposit a check on their mobile app so the old inconveniences of checks are going away.

    5. Katie*

      Send them the check. Go fund me keeps a portion of it and it’s tax reportable. If that person has even a semi modern bank they can deposit the check via an app (unless you are extra generous. There is a limit).

    6. JSPA*

      Unless it’s above some tax reporting limit (depending what country you’re in), I’d probably give them the check (or cash). Unless it’s another crowdfunding that needs to hit a certain limit to be funded, in which case, that matters. Or unless you’re close enough that they’re willing to let you pay directly to the medical provider (which–again depending where you are–may be usefully exempt from gift limits / gift reporting limits).

    7. Doctors Whom*

      We were in this situation when a longtime friend of the husband unit died of COVID, leaving a wife and two middle schoolers. Someone set up a GoFundMe for the kids – we wanted to offer a substantial sum and it galled me how much of it would have gone to GFM instead of our friend’s kids.

      We sat and wrote a thoughtful note about how much we loved him and wanted to help with anything they needed, and sent a check with it.

    8. beach read*

      I have sent a check with a supportive card in the past instead of using the go fund me. I don’t know about go fund me but I wanted the person to get the money quickly and know I was thinking of them.

  26. Bibliovore*

    MacBook help please.
    I was on zoom at 6:30 am on a full charge then at 7:30 down to 20 percent .
    This seems bad and weird.
    It is a MacBook Pro from 2019.
    I only use it to stream and to internet surf and to write.
    I haven’t been able to upgrade to Monterey . Keeps saying I don’t have enough memory.
    A google search hasn’t been helpful.(or I am useless)
    Before I brave the apple electronic phone loops, does any one have any idea what is going on?

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      If it’s 3 years old, it’s possible the battery is done. Mine stopped holding charge after a while too.

      But you could try using Activity Monitor to see what’s chewing most of your processing power. Ad services/trackers on certain websites can drain a surprising amount in the background.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Pull up the activity monitor and look at the energy consumption tab – that will tell you if there’s some process running that’s draining the battery. Occasionally there’s some sort of out of control process that’s using a lot of power. Restarting should kill any rogue processes.

      Check your disk space. If your disk is close to full, things can go wonky, as you need enough space for various programs to write temp files. If the disk space is almost full, you wouldn’t be able to download the files to upgrade the operating system. You’ll need to clear stuff out to run more efficiently, and to upgrade.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        +1 on Activity Monitor. If your battery is not totally shot (a 3-year-old battery isn’t going to last as long as 0-year-old battery, but the type of major drain within an hour doesn’t sound typical for a 3-year-old MacBook Pro), sort Activity Monitor by %CPU descending (highest at the top) and leave it open to see what might be draining your battery.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Also if you grew up with the old (late 90s, early aughts) advice to fully drain your battery before recharging it (which applied to nickel cadmium cell phones but applies to almost no portable electronics today, which use lithium ion), don’t do that any more.

    3. Alex*

      Does it say not enough memory or not enough storage space? I recently upgraded my macbook (much older than yours) and had to delete a lot in order to make room for the operating system to install.

      Sometimes if the battery is going, it gives you a warning in the battery icon, so I’d check that if you haven’t yet. But a lot of time even if it doesn’t give you a warning, the battery is shot. It seems like your problems will *probably* be solved by deleting large files (check trash, downloads, etc.), checking the running processes as others have mentioned, and replacing the battery.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’ve had good luck with the apple chat function, and when things have gotten too difficult they’ve been good about having phone support call me instead of me having to loop into them. But my preference is usually to make an appointment at the Genius Bar. I get anxious messing around with stuff on my computer and I’d rather have an expert do it.

    5. crabcake*

      1. Seconding the advice to check Activity Monitor to see if there’s a problem with an application taking up all your battery. I don’t think it’s very unusual that Zoom would be draining a 3 year old battery that significantly, but there might be something else going on and taking a lot of power.

      2. For the Monterey upgrade issue, this is a very large operating system download. I had a basket of issues trying to get some older computers on it. This is a good time to go through your files to see if there’s anything you can delete–even simple stuff like, have you emptied your Trash folder recently, does your Downloads folder have 24GB of files you don’t open, that kind of thing. If you have an external hard drive that you use for backups (which you should! everyone should! I am a backup evangelist ever since The Incident), you could move a few large files onto that temporarily to see if that frees up enough space for the OS upgrade.

      Once you’ve upgraded, the battery problem might go away if it’s not actually an issue with the battery itself but some kind of operating system problem.

      3. If your battery is toast, it is not the end of the world. I was surprised when I replaced my 2014 MacBook Air’s battery at how cheap it was. Back in 2018 at least, it cost about $120 and took less than 15 minutes at the Apple Store, with no appointment. When you go in, they’ll do a full systems check to make sure there are no other problems. I was surprised by how easy it was, really.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Yes thank you. Got in the activity monitor and there were two weird programs eating up a lot of cpu? As able to google a fix and am doing that now. Plan b will be the apple store.

    6. JSPA*

      If it’s not activity (or something malign running in the background) and it is the battery, I have had best luck finding a good truly independent repair person (not one of the chains with “fix” in the name). They should be able to replace the battery for, well, not “nearly nothing” (macs are a pain to get into, and parts are expensive) and not zero risk, and not zero waiting…but lower cost and lower risk and faster than sending it in for official repairs.

    7. Bibliovore*

      Thank you for all the tech advice.
      Started cleaning up and removing files.
      Bought an external drive.
      Yes there were rogue things eating up the energy.
      Keeping an eye on this stuff.

    8. fposte*

      My big thing is that I don’t regularly turn the computer off, which means it doesn’t often get to properly reboot programs. If this is you as well, it wouldn’t hurt to try this and see if it helps.

  27. Forensic13*

    Planning my college writing II courses for next year, which is research-based, and I’ve decided that the second half of the semester will focus on the book Invisible Women, about the sexist ways data ignores and excludes women.

    The first half I want a book about an exciting/positive research event. Something about people discovering something or learning something “exciting.” It could be medical, scientific, even literal discovery—as long as it feels related to research. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

    1. Cj*

      Is Hidden Figures, the book that the movie is based on, research related enough? But maybe you don’t want to focus on women in both halves.

      1. Forensic13*


        I did actually think of Hidden Figures, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m pondering giving them two options and let each student pick individually. Haven’t decided fully yet.

    2. CatCat*

      I enjoyed the book “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming.” It’s an autobiographical book about the astronomer, who dreamed of finding a tenth planet in the solar system, but whose discoveries led to the “demotion” of Pluto. It’s a blend of information about the field of astronomy and the author’s personal life. I learned a lot about the study of astronomy and the academic politics of astronomy.

    3. Jay*

      I just read two books about deciphering – one about the people who figured out Linear B and one about the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone. I really enjoyed both of them. “Riddle of the Labryinth” is about Linear B and “The Writing of the Gods” is about the Rosetta Stone.

      And please avoid “The Secret Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

      1. Jay*

        One of the decipherers of Linear B was a woman who was pretty much ignored in the publicity afterwards, so it would also be WOMEN EVERYWHERE. I am totally here for that.

        1. AGD*

          Alice Kober! I recently read Andrew Robinson’s book about Linear B, which is mostly about Michael Ventris, and I enjoyed it but it left me seriously wanting to learn more about her. Putting ‘Riddle of the Labyrinth’ on my list!

        1. Esmeralda*

          It’s an excellent book. But not what OP wants in this case. It’s not a woman doing research, but rather a Black woman being used to enable research done by white men.

          Well-written, absorbing, heart-breaking. It was our university’s common reading awhile ago. Great conversations.

          1. Forensic13*

            Ah yes, I thought that was the case. I want to interest them in research BEFORE crushing them with cynicism (I will probably fail at this.)

    4. AGD*

      Something about cryptography might be good! There are a few out there about Enigma that are exciting – e.g. Sinclair McKay’s ‘The Secret Lives of Codebreakers’ or maybe Jason Fagone’s ‘The Woman Who Smashed Codes’?

      1. Forensic13*

        Oh that’s a good idea. I remember reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes. An interesting story and the people involved were SO unique when we wouldn’t expect people to be from that era. (Based on stereotypes)

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just finished Fuzz by Mary Roach – it might not be quite what you’re looking for, but she travels around the world researching interactions between humans and animals and the impacts they have on the local environment, society etc.

      1. Forensic13*

        I LOVE Mary Roach, but I’m looking for something that’s more of a “built-up” investigation. Though I remember the time she tried to find the truth in a “human-meat-dumpling” story and that “investigation” was hilariously like regular scientific research. Her poor interpreter.

    6. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Maybe something about Rosalind Franklin, whose photographs showed the DNA double helix but who got shut out of all the glory that Watson and Crick got? I have not read it, but I see there is a book called *Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA* that has good reviews.

    7. pancakes*

      Linsey Marr’s research on aerosols in relation to Covid is pretty exciting — she basically proved WHO wrong. I don’t know whether there’s a book out yet, but contrasting coverage of her work to coverage of the guidance she revealed to be outdated and misunderstood could be an interesting lesson in a media literacy sense.

    8. I take tea*

      This is not really what you asked, but if you found Invisible Women interesting, I’d like to recommend another book: Mother of invention. How good ideas get ignored in an economy built for men, by Swedish journalist Katrine Marcal. It analyzes how inventions by or for women tend to get ignored or underfunded. It was very interesting.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Almost Human by Lee Berger, about the separate discoveries of two species of early hominids. As a detail to complement semester 2’s topic, the second set of bones was deep in a cave and they needed very small flexible people to fit inside (the head researcher is not one of the people who can physically get in there, in fact) which tilted the recovery team heavily toward women.

      I also really liked How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown. Which is about how with new information (here about Kuiper Belt objects) scientists re-examine what they thought before, and the scientific consensus can change.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Maybe something by Brene Brown? Her books are all blurring together for me at this point but she talks in depth in one about how she was discouraged from qualitative research, the main book at the time was the “pink” one that literally had a pink cover, and how she did her PhD anyway etc. She was discouraged from researching shame and vulnerability and is now successful and helps lots of people.

        She is a serious researcher but down to earth and explains things in plain language. She even swears occasionally, shares bits about her own journey and does not apologize for being herself. She loves her research and geeks out about it, too.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Take a look at the different biographies of Barbara McClintock who won the Nobel Prize for genetics (“jumping genes”). I can’t suggest which of them is best, because I sheepishly admit that I have not any of them yet. I ‘just’ know her work from college classes.

  28. Hotdog not dog*

    TW: loss of loved ones

    We are in the process of cleaning out my late in-laws’ house. This is so much more difficult than we expected, mostly due to the ridiculous amount of “stuff” they saved in the belief that it was valuable. China, glassware, tchotckes of all kinds…we brought in a few different experts who mostly advised us to toss it all. (Which I and my SIL both said for free at the beginning, but what do we know about heirlooms?)
    So now on top of the actual physical work of packing and carting off 70 years worth of belongings, she and I are dealing with upset spouses. I get it that it’s hard to let go. I feel it too, like each item bagged or boxed is another in a series of goodbyes, and there is some anxiety that when the house is empty there will be no more memories. This seems to be manifesting in completely opposite ways for me and my spouse. I want to go through all our own stuff and get rid of things so our son won’t have to do it someday, but my husband wants to bring as much of his parents’ stuff into our home as he can in addition to everything we’ve accumulated over 30 ish years. (This makes me nervous, having watched a few episodes of Hoarders.)
    I’m willing to be patient, but it’s getting out of hand. Literally every single room in my house has become an obstacle course of boxes, bags, and piles. We are hoping to be able to meet with a grief counselor, but there is a waiting list so it won’t be for a while.
    I’d rather not spend money on a storage facility, especially since it’s likely to end up as a permanent monthly expense (once an issue is no longer urgent, my husband considers it resolved).
    Would it be too heavy handed for me to just start throwing things out without necessarily going through each slip of paper, box of “misc household”, or item of clothing that fits none of us? I’m thinking I can maybe chip away at it while we’re waiting for additional closure. My thought was to give him a month to get started on the piles himself, and then just quietly make things disappear a bit at a time.
    Also in case any of you are thinking your adult children will want to inherit your vacation souvenirs and glassware, please have those conversations now. The stories behind some of these items are so much more valuable than the things themselves, and then your kids can make better informed decisions on what to keep and what to toss. For most of this stuff, our memory is of having to clear it out of their house. From our vantage point there’s no connection to a great story about some epic adventure or quirky relative like it was for them. It’s just stuff, and it’s suffocating.
    Sorry this is a little long and rambling. For those of you who have already traveled a version of this path, what did you find helpful?

    1. WellRed*

      I’m sorry. I’ve been shouting this from the rooftops for years and my parents aren’t loaded down with collections and souvenirs. When dad died mom and I went through and dumped a lot of things and it was hard. Easier with my brother. Less stuff plus he lives locally so was able to sell donate and give away a ton fairly easy. But I hated having it all piled up in house. Planning a month at mom’s soon to go through stuff while she’s here.

      1. WellRed*

        You asked what’s helpful: being willing to find new homes for stuff where possible, sell the salables cheap. And by all means, chip away at stuff that won’t be missed.

        1. UKDancer*

          Find homes for things, sell what can be sold and take things to charity shops.

          My godmother’s house was full of ornaments and glass and things on shelves. We asked her friends and family to take something if they wanted and then sold the things that would sell and gave the furniture to the charity shop. I have a small china figure and a picture and that’s sufficient.

          We did get an expert in to check first and he pointed out one vase that was worth money and one rug so we sold those specially. So I think it’s sometimes worth checking as we would not have known otherwise.

          1. WellRed*

            Oh absolutely check value on anything that might have it! I’ll be doing that with mom next month.

            1. UKDancer*

              That’s good and it’s not always apparent. We went through my godmother’s jewellery and she had a box of different broaches. The valuation expert said one of them was work about £500 and the others were worth about 50p each. They all looked the same to me and we would not have known that one had real gemstones whereas all the others were coloured glass.

            2. Hotdog not dog*

              We did that, and the few valuable pieces have already been sold. They outlived almost everyone they knew, so it’s really just 3 sons, 2 daughters in law, and 3 grandsons left. Now we’re at the point where the house is being sold and must be empty by the end of the month. Since our house is geographically closest, we’ve become the default repository. (We’re actually the only ones who live in the same state, so it would be cost prohibitive to ship things to everyone else. )

    2. Cj*

      I understand it’s really hard on your spouse, but I would recommend getting rid of what you can now. We had to clean out my father-in-law’s house last summer, and most of it ended up at our house. And I wish we would have done more sorting, tossing, donating, and selling at the time. Once it’s here, we just don’t seem to get at it.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I wish we had a little more time to sort through. Unfortunately we’ve got a limited time to clear out. We’re already finding that it’s easier to walk around the stacks of boxes than to sort through them.

    3. HannahS*

      It might be helpful to request that you be “deputized.” I wouldn’t start throwing things out without discussing it first, but I think it can be helpful to ask if someone wants a specific thing–like are there any specific dishes to keep and use–and then see if it’s ok for you to go through all the kitchen stuff on your own and donate it. I’ve helped some family members go through their stuff and I’ve found that sometimes they’re relieved at not having to go through everything themselves. Like I’ll hand them a small pile of things that I found for them to go through and otherwise they trust me to use my judgment.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, also, offering stuff for free on FB marketplace or a local Buy Nothing Group is a great way to get rid of stuff, especially if you (or your loved one) feels better knowing that its going to a real person instead of donation bin (but may be wind up trashed.)

    4. machinedreams*

      This isn’t quite relevant, but maybe some part of it’ll help.

      My mom passed in 2017 and by early 2018 I had just about all of her stuff with me several states away due to having gone back to get it a few months after I got away from home. At the time I clung to it like a clinging thing because she was the parent who meant everything to me. The parent who didn’t hurt me every time she turned around. I’ve got things of hers that I STILL won’t get rid of even though I don’t actually have specific memories or anything. I’m getting better, though, there are things I’m willing to get rid of now that I wasn’t four and a half years ago — and will, as soon as I figure out how to do what I want with some of it. (I want to get, like, pillowcases or a quilt or something made out of her clothing so that way I have them in some way but I don’t have ALL THE THINGS hanging around. Just need to find somewhere or someone that does it.)

      But when my dad passed away in 2019, it was a lot easier to figure out his stuff — almost all of it got donated because I kind of loathed the man (emotionally and verbally abusive my whole life). But what we did in terms of the furniture was donate it to a charity shop that uses the proceeds to help an animal shelter. So if it’s the idea of just chucking everything that’s getting to him, maybe you could look for somewhere like that for anything that isn’t junk and that you don’t want to keep? I know the idea of my father’s furniture actually being used for something good made me feel better and less like a failure because I couldn’t keep it.

    5. Lizzo*

      In-laws are still living, but did a very significant downsizing several years ago. It took my husband MONTHS to cope with getting rid of stuff and the general idea that his childhood home was being sold. So, you are not alone in experiencing this.

      There’s an advantage to you handling things–you are more emotionally removed from the “stuff”, so it is easier for you to be decisive–however I think it is incredibly unfair that you should have to bear the burden of this task for **your husband’s family** just because he doesn’t want to learn how to cope with an emotionally challenging situation. That may be frustration from my personal experience coming through, and I know you can’t make other people do things they don’t want to do, but please consider whether doing all of the heavy lifting in this situation will make you resent your spouse, especially if it’s possible that you will have to do the same sort of heavy lifting when your own parents pass. Counseling is an excellent place to sort this out.

      Re: dealing with your own possessions: my father died very suddenly last year, and he had been cleaning the house out for years before that (retired = bored). It has been an incredible blessing that my mom doesn’t have to deal with a ton of material possessions on top of adjusting to being a widow. The flipside of this is that us kids have been looking for a few of our dad’s possessions that we recall from our childhoods that we would like to keep, and it appears that he gave many of those things away. If your kids are old enough, work with them to make a list of things they might want when you are ready to part with them.

      As far as strategies:
      -My brother-in-law took photos of the things that he wanted to remember, including childhood toys and art projects. Videos are valuable, too, if you want to capture stories about certain objects.
      -The idea of friends being able to come and take things as mementos is a good one. When a friend of mine died, I inherited a few things from her kitchen that I use daily, and it always reminds me of her.
      -There are lots of charities that will take donations, whether to make use of those items directly or sell them for cash (e.g. old cars, scrap metal).
      -Look on Facebook for Freebox and Buy Nothing groups.
      -Estate sale and junk removal services are worth paying for.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Seconding having friends take some of the “stuff.” It can be easier on the family to know that their parents’ things are with neighbors/friends rather than in the trash or sitting in a Goodwill bin, AND it keeps it from piling up in your own house. After all the female descendants looked through my grandmother’s jewelry, we invited her neighbors over to see if they wanted any of the broaches/bracelets/costume jewelry that we knew we’d never wear but still felt too sentimental to just donate. Old clothes from the 60s-70s (yes, really) went to the local high school theater department.

        With things like cheap dishes/souvenir glasses/etc., are there any teenaged children in the family who will be moving out of their parents’ houses in the next few years? It might be worth boxing these up for them with the understanding that they’ll be used as a “starter set” for their first apartments – in other words, with a set deadline on getting them out of your own house.

        Ultimately, nothing is going to make your spouses feel *better* — they’re grieving — but knowing that their parents’ things are going to specific people in their community may be able to help with making the decision to let some of it go.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          We’ve already boxed up a bunch of basic household goods for when our son (the youngest grandchild) goes to college in about a year, and everyone else has a pretty established home. We’ve also all already selected a few things that are special, so what we’re left with is basically years’ worth of miscellaneous stuff. (Apparently also including stuff they stowed away after other relatives who passed). Most of it is stuff none of us even knew existed. We were able to donate a few things, but many charities are now very selective about what they will take. Hopefully as we work our way through we’ll be able to find good homes for most of the stuff.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I too am helping empty a house gor sale. I’m watching for posts on our local Buy Nothing group looking for things needed by people setting up homes in extreme situations. In past years I’ve seen posts on behalf of
            refugees new to the country, families whose homes burned down, teenagers aging out of the foster care system, and people leaving an abusive domestic situation.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Much sympathy! Both for the loss of loved ones and for the challenge of helping to cope with all the Stuff, especially when it has emotional value to your spouse.

      In my case, my folks were pretty good about downsizing themselves – partly when they moved (which for much of their lives was “often” and “far”) and partly at their final home, where they wanted to minimize clutter for their own sakes and also to spare my sister and me from having to deal with it all. (I intend to do the same myself, but… um… have been procrastinating; those piles of stuff in the basement aren’t actively in the way so I have little incentive to deal with them. Must prioritize!)

      Anyway: for me there were some clearly-significant items – mostly photos and letters – and a lot of “I’ll remember that always but I really don’t want to ship it to my house and then find a place for it”. After removing what we wanted, my sister and I contacted a local estate-sale expert to Just Deal With It. Sounds like that won’t work for you, though. And the storage-unit idea, while helpful for your own home and sanity in the short term, could indeed turn into a keep-it-forever situation. Though it would be much simpler to pull the trigger on the unit and all its contents if it’s gone un-delved-into for a few years; sometimes that can help people let go…

      I’ve seen some good ideas in books like The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, to “free your family from a lifetime of clutter”; it’s focused more on clearing your own stuff ahead of time, but the emotional and practical notes might be of some help. Good luck!

    7. Anon for this*

      My heart goes out to you. I was in this same situation but as your husband. Six years ago most of my parents house was cleared into my house. Luckily at that time we had a consignment shop nearby that a whole bunch of tschochke items went to and ~90% of the stuff sold (a whole bunch was worth less than $10 each). It made me feel good that someone valued my parent’s stuff so that it wasn’t in my house and it wasn’t thrown out or donated to a rummage sale, who threw it out.
      Now on to the rest of the stuff – – a bunch of which was paper stuff. I didn’t do anything with it for at least a year. And now 6 years later I’m still going through stuff and tossing. The thing is – – a bunch of stuff from my parents house was stuff that they brought home from their parents house when their parents passed. It was all boxed when it was brought home and stored in the attic or basement and never gone through 30 years later when my parents passed.
      It was pretty interesting to go through that old stuff – – – BUT it’s hard to go through stuff every day. If it all comes into your house, you better expect it to still be there years later. Sorry for the bad news. My husband is very patient with me and I’m still trying to let go of everything and 6 years later it is much easier for me to toss stuff.

    8. Kathenus*

      I’ve been there and totally get the challenge. My mom was somewhere between packrat and hoarder, and cleaning out her house was a huge task. A few things that helped us. Anything we had given my mom we got back if we wanted it. For anything else, we each had a different color post it pad and we put a post it on anything else we wanted (this could be ‘I REALLY want this’ to ‘I’ll take it if no one else is interested’ level interest). Then we took turns each taking something we had marked until everything anyone wanted was spoken for.

      One of my brothers sells items in the flea market/antiques field so he took a lot that he could make some money off of. My other brother was in a position to sell off utilitarian type furniture also to be able to get a little more income – so this was helpful in the clean out. A bunch of cousins claimed some of the leftover kitchen supplies. Everything else was donated if in good enough condition, or discarded if not.

      I think doing the first round where people indicated interest, or lack of, with the post its was really helpful because the goal wasn’t to divvy up everything, it was only to indicate if any of us had a want/need for it, and it made the donate/discard decisions easier. Good luck.

    9. RagingADHD*

      IDK how long it’s been, but at some point you need to make him responsible for the stuff instead of absorbing the labor and obstacles yourself.

      If he needs closure, he needs to go through the stuff himself. If he won’t let go, then it needs to be confined to a space that doesn’t inconvenience everyone else or cause a health hazard. If he isn’t prepared to go through it and make decisions, then he needs to delegate those decisions to you.

      “Trip over boxes of my parent’s stuff indefinitely” isn’t a viable path, but it can be okay for a little while until the crisis passes.

      I hope the counseling helps you both move through this productively.

    10. Pucci*

      Would it help your husband if you started using a few of those items, like a few mugs or a bowl? Having something so he can see from his childhood or memories of his parents in front of him everyday might make it easier to get rid of the other items.

      1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        One thing that helped in going through my father’s boxes after he died, (which also held his father’s and mother’s papers and stuff) was to set a timer for an hour and do what I could in that time. Dealing with Death Stuff for hours and/or days at a time is just grueling, and I had the luxury of handling it that way. Maybe that would help your husband start to go through things. He must work for an hour every time, but then he can stop when that timer goes off.

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      For your own house: There’s no reason you can’t do YOUR stuff and some non-sentimental shared stuff, but don’t pressure him to go through his own things right now. I’m a periodic declutter-er so I regularly thin out my accumulated belongings and my husband basically never does. He literally has boxes from previous moves that never get opened before we move again! But it’s not enough to be a problem lol

      For family stuff: We’ve been going through my childhood home (Dad is still alive and selling, Mom died over a decade ago) and early on it was hard to part with things because it’s connected to my own past and to my mom, and there is definitely a huge sense of loss, like what if I regret getting rid of one of the only connections left? But the last time I went over there it’s just like UGH, get rid of EVERYTHING, this is too much stuff! I have I think 2 boxes I packed up early on and I already feel like I kept too much. We’re also doing this with my grandparents’ house (he recently died, she’d been gone awhile) and a lot of it has been taking photos and sharing them with family even if things aren’t being kept. I think you should try to set some boundaries about how much of this stuff will enter your home and how (are there small things you can use/display? does he want to replace your furniture? how much space do you have for boxes?) And encourage him to consider whether each item is actually a meaningful way to remember his family. You can keep one dish from the set to remember the pattern by, you don’t need to keep the whole thing. Keep your favorite of someone’s sweaters but donate the rest, etc.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Oh, and I wanted to add: a lot of the stuff I’m going through was MINE, and it’s like past me created this huge burden for present me. Because no, I don’t actually want a bunch of old camp t-shirts and I’m sure reading my diaries would be excruciating, but like… how do you just throw away something that used to have a lot of meaning? My parents kept toys that they liked and I don’t even remember, so there’s this like ugh maybe I should give these to my kids but they have SO many toys already, do I really have to give them ones that carry this extra emotional weight? And of course toys I would’ve liked to keep are gone and I’m partly glad because now I don’t have to keep them! Basically just… you can have Feelings about the stuff, and it doesn’t feel good to get rid of it, but it won’t necessarily feel good to keep it either and in the end it really is just stuff. It sounds like you probably can’t put off this process until he’s more comfortable in his grief but just for both you and him, remember the feelings behind this stuff will change and it won’t always carry the weight it does right now. Don’t get a storage unit, but also the things you do keep won’t necessarily stay in your house forever.

    12. Jen Erik*

      I’m trying to think what would have helped me, and I just keep coming back to that I wasn’t entirely rational at that point. My family lived with my mum and dad, and continue to live in the house: before my mum died, during her final illness, I had no compunction about throwing away anything of hers – if it was a hindrance to her, it went. After she died I was compelled to get rid of everything we’d bought to make that period easier for her – I couldn’t bear to have it in the house. I was totally happy for my siblings to take anything they wanted, with a very few exceptions. However, it’s only now, three years on, that I’m able to think of the remaining stuff as my stuff and properly sort through it. And still not entirely (I’m currently baffled by a brandy warmer).
      I think counselling might have helped, but I needed distance and time to distinguish between what was of value to my parents, and what has value for me.
      I think what I’m saying is that a lot of my feelings around the stuff was instinctual and irrational, and an outworking of grief, and didn’t make much sense. You have to do what you need to to make your space liveable, but if my husband had disposed of something without telling me, I might have got hysterically sad, or overwhelmingly angry or incredibly grateful – it would just have been an outlet for whatever feeling I needed to feel in the moment.

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      I’m so sorry! I asked almost the exact same question six years ago when my in laws passed, and there were lots of great suggestions.
      Ultimately for us the best thing was to hire an auction company to do an estate sale, recognizing that we were not going to get a lot of money. (i think in the end we got $2000 for all the furniture in their 4 bedroom house.) We gave away clothes, towels, pots, pans and kitchen things to a group that helps with transitional housing. Husband went through and kept what he wanted to keep. Everything else went to the auction company. (Or the dumpster if it was papers or obviously not going to be of use to anyone else). The auction company took care of disposal of anything that didn’t sell.
      Another thing that was super helpful was listening to an episode of The Minimalists’ podcast where they talked about this issue. They said, “Your parent’s legacy is you, not their stuff.” That really helped us frame decisions when we felt like we had to hold on to something for sentimental reasons. You can find other ways to hold on to the memory without holding on to the physical object.

    14. Bibliovore*

      Yes. I had a friend who was a downsizing expert come in. There was a valuable collection of first edition rare books. I had the non profits who would benefit from holding or auction come in and take those all away.
      Had two non profits who wanted his clothing for un-housed people in transition and I added my own- read the gentle art of Swedish death cleaning.
      If I die tomorrow no one is stuck with the awful clean out tasks.
      We winnowed his “papers “ down to one 12 x 14 plastic container.
      His biographer will be very sad.
      Now I just have to burn 30 years of journals and we are good to go.
      Moved all of his family photos to his family.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      Thank you all for so many thoughtful and genuinely helpful suggestions! Anything with financial or emotional value is pretty much settled; we’re down to the truly miscellaneous stuff, so the challenge is just going through the volume. Understandably, my husband is overwhelmed and afraid he might accidentally get rid of something important. From what I’ve seen, none of it is valuable in any sense, although I hate the idea of filling up the landfill.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Remember that you are not filling up the landfill. Your in laws filled up the landfill when they purchased the items. (Think of it like this: if you don’t buy a styrofoam cup, then you never need to throw away the styrofoam cup. It’s not the throwing away that’s the problem, everything becomes trash eventually. It’s acquiring it in the first place.

      2. VegetarianRaccoon*

        Is it literal trash though? If it’s just low-value you could try posting it for free on Facebook Marketplace. I’ve done that with some of my sister’s stuff as she was preparing for a big move (she wasn’t on FB) and it was amazing what stuff people apparently find useful. It’ll cost you some of your time to coordinate handoffs (even when people don’t flake out on you) but if it’s worth it to you to keep it out of the landfill…(I am definitely one of those people who hates throwing out stuff if someone would want it, so I thought it was great).

    16. JSPA*

      If there’s a class/type of items he can more easily let go of, do that.

      If there’s a bin that he’s willing to commit to helping fill and dispose of weekly, do that.

      If he has to wait for the clothes to stop smelling of memories, do that.

      If he’s willing to select 1 out of every 20 things to make a display, quilt or memento box, do that.

      Value isn’t just “what the market will pay for it.”

      If there is a cause that’s good enough that he’s willing to hold a garage sale as a benefit for it, do that.

      If there’s a free store, and if he hates the idea of people having nothing, use that to encourage a drop off.

      If there’s a kid cousin who’s willing to put things on ebay and put any resulting money in her or his college fund, see if he’ll go for that.

    17. beentheredonethat*

      My Dad died in 2018. The night before his funeral, we let everyone choose from his camera collection. They asked to take 2. I still have about 19. He had about 50 pocket knives, I sat them out in and they were party favors in 2018.
      Here is what I suggest. Think about what is really important to him. Set up an area to display them. Get him to tell the story and video tape it. This is a 2 for one. It shows you care and in setting up a place to display the bags and boxes have to move .

    18. Bazza7*

      Don’t let hubby bring in stuff without sorting if possible. If he brings it home, how much time will he actually have to devote to sort through his parents stuff or will he say, I will do it later, later will never happen.

    19. Kate in Scotland*

      When we last moved house, we used professional organisers to clear out a garage-full of stuff that had been accumulating for 10 years and found it well worth the money. I hadn’t anticipated that a) they would be absolute experts on where to get rid of things (which charity shops specialise in vintage, which buy nothing groups are most active) and b) they would do all the getting-rid once we’d agreed to it. It was also useful to have external people who didn’t have any emotional investment (either in the things themselves, or in the fact that they’d been sitting around for embarrassingly long).
      I think if I had to clear a house that was emotionally important to me I’d try to do the first sort to the extent I can; move the rest into our large garage (which is now pretty empty!) and schedule the professional organisers to come in 6 months or a year’s time.

    20. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m going to come down in favor of your plan “give him a month to get started on the piles himself, and then just quietly make things disappear a bit at a time.”

      I worked on cleaning my parents’ apartment when they were still alive, my dad in hospice. (It was not hoarding so much as “I don’t know where to start on denting the piles of stuff I might find useful someday.”) And clearing things with my mom in another room really helped–with her there it fell into that 15-minutes-to-muse-per-item thing you seem to be experiencing with your husband and his brother. With her gone I could decide “Okay, this church bulletin is from 7 years ago, so everything in this layer is not being used” and then ask her about a small subset of stuff, and do the stories and reminiscing part.

    21. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Unfortunately, I’ve had to clean both my parents’ apartments in the last 15 years or so. Fortunately for me, I’m an only child (pretty much the only time I’ve been glad of that!), and they were divorced and single, so it was 100% up to me what I did with their stuff.

      I didn’t have the attachment you say your spouse is showing, although I did try very hard the first time to find homes for all the stuff that we didn’t need. Luckily, that parent lived in a senior apartment complex, and a lot of their friends took stuff, and we left some kitchen stuff in the (unstaffed) communal kitchen/dining room. Anyway, there were some thing I liked but either didn’t have a place for or didn’t go with our house, so I took phone pics of those things to remind myself of them.

      I see from your subsequent comments that you’ve already had the in-laws take things that have personal meaning to them, and donate or sell things that are still useful, the first things I would have suggested. I’d suggest talking over with your spouse how much storage space you have for things that you KNOW you will not immediately use every day, and ask them to confine anything additional they want to keep to one or a few moving boxes, depending on your living situation. Anything else they should take a photo of and sell, donate, or toss. Giving them limited space can actually help them prioritize what has the most meaning, and the photos will help them feel like they will still have access to the memories of the relative connected to that object.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      We haven’t even begun with my dad’s house—we’re not having his memorial until later in April because the church won’t do a funeral mass during Easter and we wanted to be sure everyone could be there (he’d arranged to be cremated so there’s no hurry). I know I’m probably going to want a few tangible things to remember him by other than some clothing I wheedled him out of, that I actually wear. I don’t know if he bequeathed anything in particular to anyone.

      I know it’s hard, but perhaps actually going through it will help him process. Maybe a little bit at a time every day. In actually doing so, he may find that it’s not all stuff he wants to keep. On Hoarders, they recommend taking pictures of stuff you can’t save but still want to remember, so that might be something you can suggest also.

    23. bratschegirl*

      I would not simply take the reins and start disappearing stuff. I would suggest telling your spouse that you won’t live with piles of boxes or exploding closets or having your car crowded out of the garage past some time period that feels reasonable to you, and that you also won’t agree to spend family money to store it off site, so he has X amount of time to do it his way with no interference, and after that you will start weeding.

    24. SofiaDeo*

      I’ve been through this twice, once with my mom (only child) and spouse’s mom (parents divorced). Decided to focus mostly in functional things we could actually use. Decorations were only holidays (boxed until the holiday, 1 box limit per holiday) and non-holiday stuff limited to available space to actually display. It was tough. And now a decade later we are going to remove a bunch. I agree that the “hoarding” thing needs to be nipped right now. There may be arguments since they are grieving and irrational, but grieving irrational people will argue/get upset anyway, so be the rational one and limit this. No matter what you choose, they won’t be happy because of their grief. So choose the “we need to walk around the place we currently live, and are not spending money just to store stuff”. Sorry to hear this, itKs tough.

  29. Cj*

    I quit wearing perfume years ago when I had a co-worker who scents really bothered. She felt comfortable enough to tell me about it, but I think a lot of co-workers don’t, and I worry about them being sensitive and not telling me. And if you work with the public, I’d recommend not wearing them at work too.

    If you want to wear it in social settings, I wouldn’t worry about it as much if you’re going out to dinner or something. I’d worry more if you’re going to a party where you’re going to be around the person more, up close talking to them rather than sitting at a distance away in a booth. Just make sure to wear it sparingly so you’re not bothering the person at the next booth.

    I have chronic migraines, so I sympathize extremely much with people who get them from scents, or have other reactions to scents. Fortunately, scents don’t seem to set them off for me unless it’s really poured on.

  30. StudentA*

    Why is it that when I’m on mobile and I’ve been reading for more than like 5-10, the page randomly reloads and I have to find the spot where I was reading from?

    On my laptop, the page just lags. And no, I don’t have this issue with other websites, even long-text ones.

    It seems that every few months, the technical difficulties themselves are different, but there are always technical difficulties.

    Alison, this is really frustrating! I can’t stay on a page with comments long enough before I give up and leave! Are you aware this is happening?

    1. Anima*

      I absolutely have the opposite problem: now the site almost always gets the spot right were I last read. Even after posting a comment.
      Is your browser up to date? Maybe there’s a plugin here that other sites don’t have that clashes with your browser.
      Do you use an ad-block? I know Alison makes her money from ads, but I’m sorry, I can’t stand ads on websites. Without ads the site runs so smooth, at least for me.
      (Tech info: I mostly read on my android phone on Firefox.)

    2. Mental*

      I gave up reading this site on mobile because the ads keep rotating and they are different sizes and so text keeps jumping up and down. It’s barely much better on a Chromebook. It’s just not mobile friendly.

    3. Hearts & Minds*

      That was happening to me all the time on this site too. I switched to a new browser awhile back (Brave) and it hasn’t been a problem since!

    4. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I am having issues with the comment threads expanding/collapsing automatically. Only my personal PC, though (HP, Windows 11, Chrome browser). Mobile (iPhone XR, Safari) and my work PC (Dell, Windows 11, Chrome browser)) work perfectly fine.

      My issue is that even with “collapse threads” set as default, the pages start to load with comments collapsed. When the page finishes loading, all comments and replies are expanded and I have to click the expand/collapse button several times for all the threads to collapse. It’s only started happening in the last month or so.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you’re on Chrome Mobile, AdGuard helps with this.

      The tech issues are longstanding and well documented.

    6. Girasol*

      I use NoScript with Firefox on the laptop to block javascript. If I happen to have turned on javascript back on, the Ask A Manager page jumps around so much that I can’t keep my place. Is that what you’re seeing? Do you have javascript off for your laptop (maybe as a feature of an ad blocker) but on for your mobile?

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Right above the reply box is a link to report a tech issue. You will likely get more traction doing that than putting it in the comments.

    8. river*

      This happens to me too. I’m using Safari on an ipad. Recently it happened when I was just about to hit Submit on a big long comment, and my comment disappeared. I gave up. I haven’t noticed any pattern why or when it happens.

    9. The Face*

      Me too. Safari on an iPhone. It’s a relatively new problem but only on AAM so far. I’m afraid I’m tempted to look into ad blockers, though I know ads are how the site makes money so I don’t really want to.

  31. BP Fighter*

    I have high blood pressure for which I’ve been taking medication for several years. I’ve recently changed my diet to reduce sodium and cholesterol intake and include more fruits and vegetables. I’ve started exercising. I’m also learning healthy strategies to reduce stress at work. My goal is to eventually come off of my medication (with my doctor’s permission). Have you ever taken blood pressure medication that you were able to discontinue thanks to a healthier lifestyle? How did you do it? What are your best tips? It must have felt amazing to accomplish that. I would love to hear your inspiring stories! I also know I may still need my medication, and that’s okay. It can’t hurt to try. A healthier lifestyle will benefit me no matter what.

    1. Maryn*

      It wasn’t me who was able to stop medication for high blood pressure, but I saw it several times when I was doing Weight Watchers. While weight loss may have played a part, for more of the people who shared this happy announcement, it was changing the way they ate (which they had to do to stay within the daily points limit for WW). Greatly reducing dietary fat, especially trans fats, day after day, made more difference than reducing salt or exercise, although those were also health-positive.

      Typically they removed all fried foods from their diets, saving them for special occasions. (I did that, too.) They found reduced-fat and fat-free products that were okay, while trying and rejecting others. They reduced the amount of butter, oil, mayonnaise, etc. they used to cook or make a sandwich.

      Identify the fats and high-fat foods in your diet. Start with oil, margarine, butter, mayonnaise, red meat, and dairy products. Reduce quantity or replace with healthier fats as you can. (Healthier fats in limited amounts are okay. Measure to be sure.) You want liquid non-tropical plant oils (canola, olive, avocado), lower-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, etc., and lean protein sources like fish, white-meat poultry, and white-meat pork.

      Good luck on this quest! It can be done–I’ve seen it.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I have been able to avoid going on BP meds with lifestyle changes, if that is relevant.

      I had gradually crept up from “let’s keep an eye on this” to “It’s time to talk about meds.”

      First I discontinued another med that was known to elevate BP, but that wasn’t enough. Then while researching the DASH eating protocol, I found a study being done by Duke University called the Nourish study. It’s based on using their tracking app, plus education and support on following DASH.

      I’m on week 8, and my BP was absolurely perfect this week, despite being taken under stressful circumstances that would have spiked it in the past.

      Look up the study and see if you qualify. They are taking new people all the time.

      1. RagingADHD*

        BTW, in the DASH protocol (the guidelines for which which are freely available all over the place), getting enough calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber are just as significant as limiting salt and saturated fat. Just restricting the so called “bad stuff” won’t get you there. You also have to get enough of the helpful stuff.

        They aren’t crazy hard targets to meet, either. You can eat normal meals, the hard part is consistency and paying attention.

      2. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

        I just looked and the site says they have finished recruiting for the Nourish study. Bummer.

        1. RagingADHD*

          You can still set up an app like Cronometer to track custom nutrients. The guidelines for DASH percentages are easy to find, you just have to do the math to find the proper amount for your recommended calorie range.

          We focused on 1 nutrient target per week and had articles and videos about good sources of that nutrient, and possible recipes. Now that we’ve done them all, I’m not sure what happens for the rest of the year. Maintenance, I guess.

    3. Healthcare Worker*

      January 2021 I decided I needed to become intentional about good health; I was significantly overweight and very out of shape. I joined Noom and have lost 40#. I also began walking regularly (nothing too strenuous!) and practicing mindfulness. When I started I was pre-diabetic with an A1C of 6.5, now it is 5.0 and I am no longer considered pre-diabetic. I decreased my blood pressure medication by half, then discontinued it completely. I still regularly monitor my A1C and BP.
      I found decreasing my refined sugar and increasing fruits and veggies has really helped. I count calories, water intake and steps and even though it can be a drag the payoff of a healthier lifestyle, feeling so much better and having more energy is well worth it! I’m 66 and thought it would be dreadfully difficult to lose weight, but the program has been very user friendly and supportive.
      Best tips: take it day by day and be gentle with yourself; changing lifelong habits is not a quick nor easy process but can be done. Find a support group to encourage and help sustain you. Good luck to you on your journey to healthier living!

    4. Chaordic One*

      This is probably not helpful or pertinent to your situation, but after being a smoker for 18 years, when I finally quit, my blood pressure dropped to where I no longer needed to take medicine for it. In spite of significant weight gain my blood pressure was still lower after quitting. That was quite some time ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to resume taking medicine for high blood pressure in the future, just due to aging.

    5. beach read*

      My friend got off hers by losing weight and reading every single label for the sodium count. She won’t even buy anything with a high number.

    6. BP Fighter*

      Thank you for sharing your stories! I started to incorporate the DASH eating plan recommendations last week. It is very helpful that the information is freely and readily available online. I also use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calories in/out and nutrition breakdown to make sure I’m meeting those goals. I also read all of the labels now and make better choices. I am motivated to get this under control to prevent a health crisis down the road. Thank you again.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Not me, but a woman I used to work with. She got fired (she was pretty unhappy overall and it made her snappish and unpleasant), and the new job she found required a move to a much more rural area. The move resulted in a major lifestyle change. Her stress levels decreased significantly, her kids were much happier. Their new lifestyle was much healthier – way more active, she was less stressed and had more time so was cooking a lot more rather than eating fast food, etc. She lost a bunch of weight, reversed the prediabetes, significantly reduced or eliminated the blood pressure and cholesterol meds, came off the anxiety meds, etc. None of this was deliberate necessarily, just the environment changed so much and other things changed because of the environment change.

    8. SofiaDeo*

      I have had patients do this. Have you checked out a health related social media site like HealthUnlocked, or a Facebook group dedicated to this? They function as support groups in addition to simply gaining the information.

  32. PhyllisB*

    All this reminds me of a Christmas a few years ago. I found a fragrance set that had sample bottles of about 8 different fragrances. I bought one for all the young women in the family. They were thrilled!! But none so much as my son’s girlfriend; she had never had any perfume before. (I was shocked, she was in her mid twenties.) She sat there and put on some of EACH one. That’s eight different fragrances at once. Needless to say she was quite aromatic the rest of the day. LOL. I did tell her that it might be better to just wear one at a time.

  33. Mental*

    What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found on Amazon?

    Mine was a used protractor. I was looking at a protractor (I have no idea why; I just end to skew geeky weird in that way) and it said I could save money by buying a used version of the item. I mean, who sells off an old protractor? And who buys one just so they can save a few pennies?

    1. Ali G*

      There is a banana slicer on Amazon that has some of the most hilarious reviews I have ever read.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Why….wouldn’t you sell an old protractor if you were never going to use it again? It’s not such an intimate possession that I’d expect people to keep it.

      1. Vio*

        I’d imagine that it’d probably cost more in postage as well as time than it would be worth, unless it’s some kind of special design or something

        1. Clarissa*

          Intriguing post! Perhaps it was an antique wood protractor. Or an antique Bakelite protractor. I’m a mathematician and would be interested in those. (I’m really stretching my imagination here.)

      2. RagingADHD*

        Because they are usually 50 cents worth of plastic and you can get them anywhere you can find school supplies.

        If it’s not antique or some special material, who on earth would buy it and pay for shipping?

        Would you re-sell (or buy) a used shoelace off Amazon? It’s not personal either, but what’s the point?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Oddly, a metal protractor is one of the things I’m hoping to find as we empty a family house for sale…the plastic ones don’t hold well enough to use for Zentangle!

    3. Lcsa99*

      Sheet metal.

      The wooden floor beneath my chair at work has a huge dent in it, so I wanted something strong and thin I could put between the floor and the chair mat so I could stop getting stuck in it. My boss tells me that at some point, we’ll get the floor repaired but until no this works.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Once I was looking for tub inserts for showers (so a kid bigger than a baby can take a bath) and surprisingly a lot of them were weird novelty shaped sitting tubs for adults – like one that looked like a giant red sneaker. I think there were a couple with covers so you’re basically encased in the tub thing up to your neck?

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      It was some random thing that showed up on my FB feed, “dressing” was in the title but it wasn’t food or clothing related. Something related to vehicles or building I think. I clicked on the link, scrolled to the comments and 99% of the comments said pretty much the same thing, they came to the link bc of the ad and no one could figure out what it actually was.

    6. Skeeder Jones*

      What it is is an item that has been returned by the original buyer and is now being sold again, but it’s listed as used since it was technically purchased by someone and returned. I read a big ol’ article about what happens with returns and some places dispose of them due to the cost of relisting/reselling and the laws around that. I thought that this was a better solution.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Out of print slightly battered Foxtrot cartoon book selling for more than $500. Like, I thought I might get a 10-year-old childhood favorite to send to a kid in college–this was $490 more than I was willing to consider paying.

      (And I have gotten used books off Amazon–the one Danny Dunn my husband didn’t bring to the marriage–but it was a normal used book price, not a mint condition first edition of Dickens price.)

      1. pancakes*

        That’s not uncommon on there. It’s pretty much the last place I go if I’m looking for a used or out-of-print book. Will link to an article about this in a separate reply.

  34. RMNPgirl*

    Who has had Lasik? Pros/cons?

    I’m getting tired of dealing with contacts and glasses, but I’m also sort of terrified to get Lasik because it’s my eyes. If something goes wrong that could ruin my life. And it’s not medically necessary to do. But it also seems like it would save me money over the long term and things would be easier not dealing with contacts/glasses. So is it worth the risk or not?

    1. Dino*

      Look into it’s impact on night vision, as well as the FDA review of its previous approval. Plenty of people have done it and are happy with the results, but I was turned off permanently after doing some research.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      I’ve done it about 12 years ago and was super happy for about 10. Unfortunately the astigmatism in my right eye created a regression which is not fixable by another LASIK correction due to my cornea. About the same time I started to get halo-ed night vision. Now, the night vision issues coincided with the age when it starts happening naturally, so it’s very possible LASIK is not the culprit. So I once again need glasses, although not 100% of the time.
      A warning: they will want your prescription to be stable for around last 4 years, no vision changes, so if you have started to get the age-related issues, aka needing reading glasses, they won’t do it.

    3. Double A*

      I did it 8 years ago when I was 30 and it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent. My vision wasn’t too bad (-2) and I don’t have an astigmatism to speak of. I wanted to maximize the time if have good vision, so this timing was great; eventually you’ll need reading glasses.

      I hated how I looked in glasses and contacts were tiresome. I’m pretty active, so not having to worry about vision while backpacking or exercising is what made it worth every penny for me. Would do again without hesitation.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      I got mine almost twenty years ago. It completely fixed my vision. Now I’m in my 40s and I wear a very minor prescription, which would have happened if I had had perfect vision in the first place. It was totally worth it for me.

    5. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Look into the Visian ICL procedure. I had this done instead of Lasik or PRK. It’s a procedure identical to cataract surgery but they implant, basically, a contact lens into your cornea. I’m going on 10 years and couldn’t be anymore pleased with results. It’s outpatient surgery, results almost instantaneous, but they only do one eye at a time – nondominant eye first, then a week or two later, the other eye.

      One of the reasons I went with Visian ICL is because it is reversible. So if my vision deteriorates, I can get either replace the ones I have now with new lenses and go back to 20/20 vision or if I ever became unhappy with it, I could take them out entirely and go back to being blind as a bat. (I was incredibly nearsighted.)

      1. lissajous*

        I also had intra-ocular lenses inserted, albeit only a year ago (I’m late 30s). For me, my vision was so terrible laser and variants weren’t even an option (up at -9.5 – not enough cornea in the world to fix that!). Note that it is much more expensive than laser etc.
        My thoughts going in were essentially, even if it didn’t give me perfect vision, it would be a massive improvement on the baseline, and even if I need reading glasses in the next 5 years, I’d be happy.

        The vision improvement was actually better than 20/20. Some light sensitivity initially but I’m now back to almost never needing to wear sunnies. Some halo-ing of street light etc initially; this is now mostly not an issue, except occasionally on very dark streets with an occasional street light (ie, driving on the freeway is not a problem at all). Sometimes it’s a strain after a while focussing on something in front of me if there’s a bright light further back – this pops up in orchestra when I’m reading music and other people in my line of sight are using stand lights.

        All up though? It’s been great. I go to the beach and I see where I left my stuff instead having to line it up with big landmarks. It makes all the outdoors stuff just that bit easier.

        Surgery was day surgery, under general anaesthetic, both eyes at once.

    6. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I got Lasik about 9 months ago. I have zero regrets!

      Before they’ll even consider the surgery, there is an evaluation/consultation. They completely dilated my eyes, and ran a bunch of scans I’d never seen before. Then the actual doctor came in. His first words were “Hi, I’m Dr _____ and I’m here to try and talk you out of this surgery.” He made sure I knew exactly what it entailed, the risks, and every potential side effect. I had gone there with a typed up list of questions I had, and space to take notes. I was surprised to find that the dilation had made my vision blurry even with the glasses! I could barely read what I had typed, so if you do that then use a large font. They had made it very clear before the appointment that I needed someone else to drive me home, and boy were they right, my eyes stayed dilated for nearly 3 days!

      I wanted Lasik because I was virtually helpless without glasses, and contacts were a bad option for me. The optometrist said “well, we get a lot of patients with vision like this, but they’re all over 90!” My prescription was over $200 for even the cheapest knockoff glasses I could find online. And I’m very light-sensitive so I needed prescription sunglasses as well. Add sports and boating and my vision was a severe handicap. Once they decided I was a good candidate, there were even more appointments for scans and tests. But eventually it was time for the actual procedure.

      The day of, I had to come in with multiple prescription eye drops I had gotten at my pharmacy the day before. They used a bunch beforehand so my eyes couldn’t move. The surgery itself was the scariest 15 minutes of my life! There were several people in the room, they used some device to hold my eye open, and I was completely blind at some moments. The device was very loud, it actually moved me at some points, and honestly the tiny dose of valium they gave me right beforehand didn’t feel like nearly enough. After that, the doctor took me to a nice dark room and checked my eyes (with a bright light, ow). He made sure I had the right prescription drops to take home and use, and gave me a bunch of samples of fake tears. He taped protective goggles to my face and gave me cheap plastic sunglasses. And that was it! I texted my ride to come get me, I had been in the building less than an hour total, from waiting room to dismissal, and most of that time was waiting for the drops to kick in at the start.

      I was glad I had remembered to set my phone to the largest font beforehand, my vision was just as bad as ever for days afterward. I would be able to see clearly for a few minutes, but then back to blurry. My eyes burned for 2 weeks afterward. I had to get used to putting in eye drops myself. There were 2 prescriptions I had to use on a set schedule, and saline “tears” I could use for dry eyes. My tears didn’t work for nearly 2 months, even cutting onions didn’t get liquid from my eyes. Even after that, I still had dry eyes and needed the fake tears multiple times a day (took nearly 6 months to go away). I had halos around lights for 4 months or more, but that did finally ease off.

      It was a lot to go through. For me, it was totally worth the risk! I’ve never had such clear vision, I can use designer sunglasses, I can read the clock from bed, I have decent peripheral vision! No more worrying about breaking glasses and not being able to drive home, no more tripping over pets I thought were weird shadows or pillows. But, it was expensive, painful, and interfered with my vision for months afterward.

      If that didn’t make you stop wanting Lasik, go ahead and schedule a consultation! I still recommend it after everything, I’m extremely happy. Oh, and my dad got Lasik more than 10 years ago and had perfect vision until he started needing age-related reading glasses. His distance vision is still perfect.

    7. Kay*

      Mine lasted about 2 years before my vision started reverting significantly enough that I could no longer ignore it. I’m not quite back to what I was pre surgery, but I’m still blind enough to say there is no longer any benefit from the surgery. My eyes now have the nearly universal complaint of drier eyes than before, as well as some degradation in night vision and ocular migraines which I never had before. My newly gained side effects are relatively minor, and I had my surgery done for a very specific reason/life events because didn’t want to have to deal with glasses but needed to be able to see. It was arguably one of the most expensive temporary fixes (2-3 years max benefit) I’ve shelled out for, but as my doctor said – I’m a 1 percenter!

      So, knowing the possible side effects, and that your results can completely revert or worse (and you will probably always have dry eye/some kind of side effect), would that still be worth it for you? Only you can answer that.

      I have known lots of people who only have one eye done at a time because, ya know – its your eyes! They were all really happy they did it that way as it gave them peace of mind. Now that I’m years beyond the disappointment of things reverting back I’m not wallowing in regret – but with hindsight for me just sucking it up and wearing contacts for a few events would have been a cheaper and easier route.

    8. Rusty Shackelford*

      Don’t know if you’re still reading… DH was considering this many years ago, so I looked into it and learned that when a doctor or clinic gives you their success rate, “success” is defined as 20/20 vision, or maybe even simply improved visual acuity. If you can no longer drive at night due to halos, or if you have to use eye drops every 30 minutes because your eyes are so dry, you are still technically considered a success as long as your vision is 20/20.

      I also noticed that many of the doctors advertising that they do Lasik actually wore glasses in their ads. :-/

      Something one doctor said that really stuck with me: If your vision can be easily corrected with glasses/contacts, use glasses/contacts. If glasses just don’t work for you, *then* consider Lasik.

  35. Alex*

    Anyone have any bright ideas on what one can do with a cast iron frying pan that is cracked? It’s practically brand new but the side has a crack in it.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I was going to suggest using it to hold a sandscape or something, assuming it couldn’t be made oven-worthy again, but I might be wrong about that; found some suggestions for having cast iron welded, or – if the crack isn’t too bad – there’s a product called Castaloy that’s supposedly helpful. (I’m not sure I’d trust it if the crack ran down more than an inch or so from the top edge, but it might be worth a try if you really like the pan.)

      1. Alex*

        The crack goes all the way down the wall of the pan, and you can see daylight between it, so it isn’t going to hold anything…

        I don’t mind getting rid of the pan but…I feel I can’t just put it in the trash! It is heavy!

        1. GoryDetails*

          Maybe see if there are local junk dealers who’d have a use for a lump of iron? Search for “scrap metal pickup” or some such, perhaps?

        2. Reba*

          You should be able to scrap it or recycle it! That might mean taking it to a scrap yard or recycling station.

    2. Bluey Christine Heeler*

      Since it’s practically new, have you contacted the manufacturer about sending this one back and getting a replacement?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        ^^this ^^
        Lodge at least has a good rep for covering manufacturing defects.
        Otherwise send it to a scrap yard, even if that’s by way of giving it away on Freecycle to someone who does scrap pickups.

  36. Oscars!*

    The Oscars are Sunday! What are you rooting for? (Or against!)

    We always do ballots and I am conflicted on a lot this year; Power of the Dog seemed like a lock for Best Picture, but now CODA’s winning a lot, so I don’t know what to do there, or for Best Actress. I’m also bummed over how much they’re messing with the ceremony and cutting some of the award presentations. I sort of can’t wait for ABC to give up the broadcasting rights and it just goes on streaming somewhere and we can get the long ceremony that die-hards really want.

    1. AGD*

      Couldn’t agree more. I love the Oscars but have never owned a TV or an ABC subscription, so most years either I don’t watch them at all, or I happen across a one-off solution serendipitously (an Oscars watch party at someone’s house, a TV in empty public bar, a not-entirely-legal stream that someone’s set up, etc.).

      Would be thrilled with either of those for Best Picture, but I’m secretly hoping for CODA. Would love to see Ariana DeBose get Actress in a Supporting Role, but the acting categories are all really tough calls this year! Same for Animated Feature Film – the one I liked the most there was Raya and the Last Dragon, but they’re all so different, and that one really doesn’t have recency on its side the way Encanto does. For the songs, although I will admit to having a soft spot for Billie Eilish (who is both massively talented and refreshingly down to earth), I’m hoping for Lin-Manuel Miranda there, if only because in my opinion he deserves to be an EGOT winner ASAP!

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m rooting for great red carpet looks! I’m not really into fashion but I love red carpet photos and I’m really out of touch with current movies lol. I especially love how more men are embracing non-traditional attire whether it’s full gowns or just brighter colors and unusual cuts.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I really think Benedict Cumberbatch should be nominated for The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, but that was such a niche film I don’t think it was even on their radar. But DAMN, he was so good in that.

  37. Alice (the other one)*

    I’ve posted before about my house-hunting woes and I’d recently made an offer on a flat but I was not optimistic. I got the flat! It’s a bit more than I wanted to spend and will need to be renovated, but it’s still within my budget and I actually like the idea of doing the bathroom and kitchen however the heck I please. Right now I’m still waiting for the bank to approve my mortgage, but expect lots of whining about renovations in the near future. Everyone else who is/was house hunting, any joy for you??

    Also, I noticed this week that there is another “Alice” in the comments, whoops. Been meaning to change the name to something else, but I comment from a few different computers and from mobile so I’m sure I won’t remember everywhere. Sorry fellow Alice!

    1. Elizabeth Leigh Sloane*

      Congratulations! I lost out on 3 bids in two weeks. I’m putting in an offer on an As-Is, which I said I wouldn’t do, but it has a lot of potential and it’s in a great neighborhood. So with this hippo luck.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Sorry. I found information I didn’t know about in a nonfiction book and thought it would be useful to share it. It’s actually kind of funny – the makers of the product said they were unable to buy any magazine ad space because none of the them would mention flatulence smell reduction in their magazines either. BE out!

  38. I edit everything*

    Sometime in the next year, we have to buy a new car. We have a very basic list of wants: Not too expensive (mid-20K), able to haul a load of stuff home from Home Depot, and good gas mileage.
    We were thinking about the new Ford Maverick hybrid, but our mechanic, whom we trust, says no, we should only buy a Honda or a Toyota.
    So: does anyone here have any experience with the Maverick? It has a crappy warranty, but it hits every item on our list.
    And what vehicle would you pick, with that list of three items?

    1. tuesday's girl*

      how big is the load of stuff, and how does it pack? We have a Honda Fit. You can stuff a surprising amount in there because the back seats lay flat, and the front seat can be made to, so you essentially have from windshield to back of car to stuff things in. But, that may not work for a large gas grill, say, more for lumber. So, it depends exactly what you’re hauling.

      1. Fit Farmer*

        Yes I was also going to suggest the Fit! I have the ’07 model and I don’t know if the dimensions have changed since, and recently another Fit owner told me they’re not even selling them in the States anymore. I didn’t fact-check that though. I am a farmer and pick up all sorts of loads from home depot, auctions, supply houses, etc — I can’t count the number of times I’ve rolled up to a loading dock and the workers are like…”this stack, in THAT vehicle?!” It always fits. The genius thing is that the back of the Fit (at least my ’07) is about the dimensions of a pallet. Anything in the world is meant to pack evenly on a pallet. 800lb weight limit, which I do rub up against sometimes, but usually I run out of space first. 5′ loads fit behind the seats with the hatch closed; 8′ loads go up onto the dash (passenger seat down); 10′ conduit/pipe goes out the passenger window.

      2. I edit everything*

        Plywood, lumber, and other home improvement type stuff.

        I don’t think the Fit is around any more.

        1. Fit Farmer*

          Yeah…not so good for plywood :)

          An entirely new tact to suggest, though, is having two vehicles. I admit I do just happen to have a number of vehicles around for the farm (cargo van, minivan, small delivery van, Fit), but I really do appreciate having a big cargo van for hauling, and a little vehicle or personal car for more normal loads. I wouldn’t want to be driving my “Hauls Plywood” vehicle as my daily driver, if that’s what this new vehicle would be. So my idea, if it fits your vehicle-owning style, would be to buy an old used van or full-length pickup truck to use for the big or heavy loads. I’m guessing it would on average see not much more than weekly use for local trips, and so would hardly get any older than it was when you bought it. Like, 150k miles, 15-20 years old, $2-3k, pay a mechanic $100 to check it out if you can’t assess it yourself. Especially if you have a year to keep an eye out for it. And then buy a hatchback or other smaller, efficient, less expensive car for the daily driver.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Lumber has a standard of 8 feet. My friend uses an old truck with an 8 ft bed. Then we bought 12 ft sheetrock because we found a bargain. You will still need tie downs to secure your load. Probably should hang red cloth off the end to indicate overhang when necessary.

          And you want to watch load capacity for a given vehicle. Lumber adds up quickly. Just a quick google showed plywood weighing from 45-60 pounds. My friend picked out sheets that were 80 pounds each. He bought 100 sheets for various projects. He found that he could only pack on less than 20 sheets per trip. You can really feel the weight in the brake pedal- brake fade- it’s a thing.
          Roofing shingles are another nightmare. I needed 17 packages at 90 pounds a package. My car was not going to hack that.

          Sheets of foam insulation are a different problem. They are light enough to blow off, but weighting them down leaves dents.

          If you plan on doing one or two rooms then it might be easier to just plan on having the order delivered. Or paying a friend with a long bed truck. If you have a larger home and plan spending many years redoing things then getting a haul-vehicle might be worth it. Definitely think about the length of the bed and how much weight the vehicle can hold. When calculating weight remember to factor in the weight of the passengers and if it’s a truck the weight of the cap on the truck bed if you have a cap. People and things reduce the load weight capacity.

          I have driven more than one vehicle that was overloaded. It’s scary AF.

      3. Clarissa*

        I LOVE MY FIT!!! My sister loves hers. I’ve had 3 Hondas for a total of 30 years. Never a problem. Only needed new batteries and tires.
        The Fit is a dream to drive, corners on a dime.
        And it’s so cute.

    2. Llellayena*

      My parents love their Honda CR-V. Dad builds sets for a local theater so I’m pretty sure Home Depot knows him on sight! Plywood has to go on top, but they can manage to get most lumber inside and with the seats down you get a pretty high space as well, depending on what you’re hauling.

    3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Check out Motor Trend for their assessments of just about every vehicle made. It really helped us decide since we hadn’t bought one in almost 20 years. We decided on a Kia Soul, and love it.Its a tiny Tonka toy on the outside, with a roomy interior.

    4. CR Fan*

      I would be wary of buying a Ford Maverick at this time. It’s a fairly new design and people don’t really know if it is going to be reliable or not. (My sister has a Ford Escape that has been a real lemon.) They don’t import Honda Fits into the U.S. anymore. The Honda CR-V is a very decent vehicle, but the price for a basic version has crept up to around $30,000.00 and in the current economy most dealers are selling them for Manufacturer’s Retail List Price (MSRP) and not giving discounts.

      Hondas and Toyotas are usually very reliable and your mechanic is offering sound advice. Prices for a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla start below $25,000.00 and they are available as both conventional 4-door sedans (with a trunk) and as 4-door hatchbacks. Fancier versions can reach $30,000.00. One should provide many years of reliable service to you.

      I would also look at the Subaru Impreza and Crosstrek (they only come with standard all-wheel drive, which hurts gas mileage a bit, but they’re great if you live where it snows), the Nissan Sentra and Mazda 3, and the Toyota Corolla Cross, Nissan Rogue Sport and Mazda CX-30.

    5. *daha**

      Noooo! Do not buy a Maverick Hybrid! I want one for myself, and they might not make very many, so if you get one it might lock me out of the running.
      For the 2022 first-year model of the Maverick, they only sent the non-hybrid version to dealer lots. If you wanted the hybrid you had to factory order it, and then they delayed first deliveries until January, and then they cut off orders even before January. Meanwhile, the hybrid has been getting great reviews and the base no-options model was under $20K before the mandatory shipping charge was added in.
      Advantages of the turbo (non-hybrid) version are that it can haul more and tow more and is available with AWD if that is something you want.
      Meanwhile, I’m waiting for Ford to open up orders for the 2023 Maverick Hybrid so I can place mine, and trying to decide whether I should get the tonneau cover as an option from Ford or buy it separately at a truck accessories store.

    6. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      The Maverick sounds like the ideal vehicle for you — it’s the only one that ticks off all the boxes you mention. BUT as someone mentioned downthread, it’s the first model year of a clean-sheet design. That means Ford, which isn’t known for stellar reliability on its tried and true designs, is still going to be working out the bugs. It’s widely recommended to avoid the first year of a brand new design.

      Would you consider a vehicle that’s a few years old? What about a 3-4 year old Honda Ridgeline? Because of its V6 engine, you probably won’t get much more than 20 miles per gallon, but that’s better than just about anything else that can haul plywood. A Toyota Tacoma is bulletproof and low-end versions with the four-cylinder engine and few options may come close to your mid-$20K guideline, but it’s an old design and a pig with gas.

      Too bad about the plywood, because otherwise, like other commenters above, I would have suggested a gently used Honda Fit. My 2018 Fit, despite being the smallest car I’ve ever owned, is also the roomiest car I’ve ever had AND I’ve been averaging about 30 mpg city and 46-47 (!) mpg highway, and my first year with it has been trouble-free. I’m hoping the recent explosion in gas prices prompts Honda to bring it back in the US (it’s still sold in other countries).

    7. RosyGlasses*

      I would pick the smaller car (eg Fit) as long as it has good tow capacity for the smaller trailers that Home Depot or Uhaul rents. They are less than $40 and that way you’re not locked in just for plywood fitting.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        I wouldn’t recommend a Honda Fit to tow even a small trailer. Not enough power — basically the car’s only weakness.

        Another small truck besides the Maverick is the Hyundai Santa Cruz, assuming its cargo bed is big enough. Hyundai might not quite be up to the level if Honda or Toyota with reliability, but they’re generally a better bet than Ford, their warranty is unbeatable and their products generally have pretty good fuel economy.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you definitely want a truck, or can the Home Depot stuff go in the back with folded down seats or be strapped to the roof?

      I have a Toyota Rav4 hybrid with a roof rack. (Spouse has an electric car, so mine is the vehicle to carry kayaks/Xmas tree/1x8s.) Replaced my Toyota minivan; I have found Toyotas to be very dependable. The Honda CRV is similar and also well reviewed.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you dig through the European website, Volkswagen Jetta large engine version has a trailer rating. So I have a highway-friendly sedan with a trunk, and a small mesh bottom landscaping trailer for moving big things. (The tradeoff is that I have already needed to replace the brakes ahead of schedule, and I’m expecting the same news about my clutch in the future.)

    9. Wandering*

      Some stores also rent trucks – eg Home Depot rents a box truck for $20 for 90 min plus gas (goes up a fair amount for longer rentals). If you rarely need to be able to haul big stuff, that might be a good compromise.

    10. Alex*

      It’s not a honda or a toyota, but I recently bought a Kia Niro and love it. I also have a friend with one and she loves it too. And my cleaning person has one and loves it. Uses it to haul the equipment for cleaning.

      I’ve gotten up to 60mpg, although in the cold it can get about half that sometimes.

    11. Dust Bunny*

      I have a Mazda CX-5 and LOVE it. Good mileage, comfortable, hauls stuff, and has been very reliable for eight years so far, and the current model is at the top of its class in crash-test rating. I’m not sure that Honda’s and Toyota’s reputations are as unchallenged as they used to be.

  39. RussianInTexas*

    Sourcing AAM for summer lunches.
    Where I live it’s already summer. I am looking for the lunch ideas that I can make in bulk and eat through the week. Cold, preferably.
    My standard go-to are Texas caviar (bean/corn/herbs) salad, gazpacho with cheese toast, or sandwiches. So along these lines?
    My partner doesn’t eat fish, or most seafood in general, can’t stand miso or seaweed at all. I am fairly open to most flavors except silky tofu or okra.
    We both don’t mind eating the same food every day.

    1. Ali G*

      I like quinoa – can be in salad or bowls. You can make a big batch and prep your toppings in advance and just assemble daily. It travels well, but if you are doing greens or other delicate stuff, don’t dress it until you are ready to eat.
      I like a greek style, with cuke, olives, tomatoes, feta, arugala. You could also add chicken for more protein.

      1. MJ*

        Couscous is also good as a base. I used to do pouches (Ainsley Herriot in the UK), but if you make it from scratch with broth instead of water it adds to the depth of flavour and you can add other ingredients to taste (sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, lamb & apricots, anything you like really).

    2. insufficiently spooned*

      my favourite salad is white beans, cucumber, tomatoes peppers, feta cut in largish chunks, olives.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Lots of variations on slaws out there, from basic cabbage to broccoli-stem, carrot, turnip, etc. Can hold up well over several days.

      Also, roasted vegetables can be delicious cold, maybe with some fresh greens added to “salad-ize” them.

      The Budget Bytes site has some good recipes of this kind, with meal-prep advice too.

    4. MaxKitty*

      Pasta salad – pasta, Italian dressing, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, parmesan. Can make it heartier with cold chicken or turkey.

      Chef salad – greens, hardboiled eggs, sliced turkey and/or ham, shredded carrots, diced peppers, olives, various cheeses.

    5. OTGW*

      Potato salad? I really only eat German potato salad but any type obviously works.

      I also like pasta salad–my mom usually does like a lemony vinaigrette, bell peppers, a crumbly cheese, cherry tomatoes, black olives that I really enjoy.

    6. Aealias*

      So last summer I made some “coffin pies” – they’re a cold pie stuffed with meat and veg and then filled with gelatin to bind everything together. I made them as tarts in a cupcake tin, and they were an AMAZING quick, cold, eat-straight-from-the-fridge balanced meal on the days when the heat made me want to never eat again.

      Salads are my other go-to in summer. Make a huge green salad with veg, toss some shredded cheese and deli meat onto your serving each day.

      1. Overeducated*

        I’ve never heard of “coffin pies” and am intrigued! Do you have a recipe to share?

        1. Aealias*

          I read this one for the technique:


          And then I threw out their pastry recipe and used my own, swapped the pork stock for homemade French onion soup with gelatin, and changed almost everything about the filling. (I used ground beef or slivered steak with Worcestershire sauce, diced ham, and diced veg, and just added thyme and rosemary until I liked the taste.) I swear I’m not normally this person! But I had a specific flavour in mind, and really only used the recipe to understand the “coffin” part.

    7. Lady Danbury*

      I make a roasted sweet potato citrus salad that would be good on it’s own or as a side with some protein. The base is roasted sweet potato, oranges, onions/shallots (raw, roasted, pickled, your preference) and some type of citrus based dressing, then you can play around with add-ins based on your preferences. Kale or cabbage based salads are also good to make ahead because they don’t wilt as easily. Roast or grilled veggies can be eaten on their own, as a side dish or turned into a salad as well.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        The chickpea post below reminded me that chickpea based salads are another good option.

      1. I take tea*

        Oh, I’ve got to try this! We cook red lentil stew pretty often, but I’ve never thought about doing that with coconut milk, even though we sometimes do butternut and red lentil soup with coconut milk. I love getting new ideas!

    8. Fikly*

      I’m not sure how well this would do for making in advance and eating throughout a week, but this used to be my absolute favorite go to for summer lunches, until I developed a severe dairy allergy.

      I’d chop up tons of fruit, and then just toss in a small container of plain greek yogurt. I’d usually add a drop of almond extra and a bunch of cinnamon, but season however you like. For fruit I’d usually do an apple, half a banana, a peach, and some strawberries, and then a handful of raisins, but you can do anything. And some nuts for extra texture and protein.

      I could certainly prep the night before to bring to the thing we don’t mention on weekends, but after a day or so I would imagine the fruit gets a bit mushy since it’s cut.

    9. beach read*

      I make a tuna salad with tomatoes and medium pasta shells. It’s my favorite summer lunch. My Mom used to add onions in hers.

    10. Esmeralda*

      Salade nicoise — I make a giant platter for dinner, then eat the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week

      Cold curried zucchini soup
      Cold cucumber soup

      Greek salad. Throw in some chickpeas. Pita or pita toasts on the side.

      Cold spicy peanut noodles.Vietnamese or Thai style Cucumber salad


      Cold pizza :)

    11. PostalMixup*

      Chicken salad? Lots of variations out there, and you can put it in bread, or a wrap, or a lettuce cup, or eat it plain.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Try a simple salad of lentils, minced red onions & yellow bell pepper, and balsamic vinegrette. Vary with Mexican spicing, or Middle Eastern.
      If you’re feeling more ambitious, try making dolmas (stuffed grape leaves, either meat or rice) or Turkish red lentil balls (Mercimek Köftesi).

  40. Ali G*

    Hi All! It’s been a while. I’ve been so busy with the place we don’t discuss on weekends – but I am done! More Friday.
    Anyway, I am wondering if anyone has tips for maintaining marble counter tops in the kitchen. We recently renovated our kitchen, and apparently my aesthetic is expensive and somewhat fussy because I could not find anything I like, except for marble.
    I use my kitchen regularly and enjoy cooking so I need to figure out how to keep them beautiful but still use my kitchen.
    I’m ordering a cleaner recommended by the vendor, but any tips are appreciated!!

    1. Enough*

      Use cutting boards (wood, glass, silicone) for prep work and to place got dishes, pots, etc on.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Marble is porous and should be sealed while it’s new before stains happen. There’s also marble stain removal advice online. Quartz countertops have better stain resistance but marble can be so beautiful.
      Congrats on the big project!

  41. All Hail Queen Sally*

    What has everyone been reading this week? I just finished As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. Then last night I watched the movie (for the millionth time, probably) and it was wonderful knowing all the behind the scenes info.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      This book is a new one on me. I loved the movie, just went on my library’s website and put it on reserve. Thanks for the recommendation.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Trying to finish Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch today! Nonfiction about the linguistics of the internet

    3. Water Everywhere*

      How did I not know this book existed?! For a wonder my library a) has it, & b) has it AVAILABLE, so there’s my afternoon sorted!

    4. Ashkela*

      I ended up having a Twitter interaction with the husband (Larry Dixon) of one of my favorite authors (Mercedes Lackey) this week, and that kicked off me going back to restart The Heralds of Valdemar series. She’s been writing this since the mid-80s when I was in elementary school and there are still new books coming out. Pre-industrial fantasy written largely in trilogies and I devour these things like candy.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed As You Wish very much (audiobook form) – great fun!

      Current reads include:

      THE RECKONING ON CANE HILL by Steve Mosby (who also wrote The Whisper Man as Alex North), a twisty and dark thriller featuring detectives with significant traumas in their pasts, and some seriously warped criminal activity.

      On the lighter side, ESCAPE FROM THE BILLINGS MALL by Chuck Tingle, a “select your own timeline adventure”, predicated on the need to find a last-minute birthday gift for the protagonist’s adult son before the mall closes. Some of the storylines focus on that last-minute-shopping vibe, but as the mall is situated in a place subject to time rips of various kinds, the perils range from seeing the shop close before you get there to being swallowed by an extra-dimensional Void!

    6. Bazza7*

      Just finished The Drop by Dennis Lehane, recommended by someone here last week. Easy fast read, loved it. Have just started These Precious Days by Ann Patchett, the first essay in this book was about her 3 dads, lovely writing, looking forward to rest of the book.

    7. Bazza7*

      Just finished The Drop by Dennis Lehane, recommended by someone here last week. Easy fast read, loved it. Have just started These Precious Days by Ann Patchett, the first essay in this book was about her 3 dads, lovely writing, looking forward to rest of the book.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I’m so thrilled that y’all liked The Drop! And I’m saving These Precious Days for my flight to Portland on Fri.

    8. Bluebell*

      I loved As You Wish – it was worth the wait on my library reserve list. This week I finished Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. Just got The Empathy Exams off my holds list. After that I’ll look for something lighter.

  42. OTGW*

    I think I want to take a road trip this summer/early fall, but am not sure exactly where. I’ve never been out west, but my husband loves the east and if we did go that way, I could probably see the ocean for the first time.

    Any suggestions? It would probably only be 7-10 days, so I’m thinking 1-2 days of travel, 3-5 days of sightseeing, 1-2 travel back. I live in the Chicago area so we’re smack dab in the middle of the country.

    1. 2QS*

      Can’t go wrong, I’d say, though there are a few distinct optimal combinations of place/season in there. PNW in the summer (autumns get rainy/dull), San Francisco in September or October (summers are chilly and gloomy and foggy), New England in October or thereabouts (that’s when you get the stunning colors!).

      The West is enormous, involves a huge range of landscapes, and for the most part is much more sparsely populated than everything east of Chicago. If that sounds inviting, definitely worth it. If it sounds grueling, head east.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If I was going to do a road trip from Chicago and wanted to see the ocean, I’d probably go for the mid-Atlantic region, NC and VA, and drive along the coast. Probably stop in the Shenandoah Valley and at Kitty Hawk, plus there are a million cute tiny towns. You’d get the Gulf stream, so the water would be lovely, but the weather would be nicer than Florida. I understand there are some touristy bits and some wild bits, so you could mix and match as desired.

    3. I edit everything*

      I know it’s kind of cliche, but we went to Niagara Falls last summer for the first time, and I loved it. It would be one long day or two shorts from Chicago (stop in Cleveland for the Rock & Roll HOF?). Then you could cut across upstate NY to the coast.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin*

      If you’re willing to fly and then rent a car, maybe fly to San Francisco and take a leisurely drive down Pacific Coast Highway? It is beautiful, and you could have nice stops at places like Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Hearst Castle, San Luis Opisbo, and LA.

      1. mreasy*

        This is what I was going to suggest as a Central Coast native – I have done this drive a couple of times and it’s stunning.

    5. e271828*

      Chicago is much closer to the E coast, so I’d suggest going east. If you want to do a true road trip with a day of driving, a day or half-day of sightseeing, day of driving kind of pace, you could head east via Toronto toward Montreal (both interesting places), then south into Vermont/New Hampshire, visit the Atlantic coast in Maine, New Hampshire, and/or Massachusetts (the North Shore is very scenic, and a drive from Portland, Maine to Gloucester, Massachusetts along old Route 1 is both scenic and full of historical interest), then head west to get home via I-90 with some possibility for side roads paralleling that to see bits of western Massachusetts, New York State and Pennsylvania, all very pretty country with many interesting short or long stops possible.

      If you want to simply drive to the coast and stay a few days, again heading east is more reasonable. New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware shore all have rentals, and there’s lots to see and do.

    6. beach read*

      If you are considering the east, I recommend researching with the PBS show Weekends with Yankee. It’s a live magazine show based on Yankee magazine. They go all over New England all throughout the 4 seasons.
      I can’t imagine never having seen the Ocean. East or West, dip those toes in!
      Plan your trip around the full moon so you can sit on the beach sunrise to sunset and beyond.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      It’s not the ocean, but what about driving north to Manitowac, WI and taking the S.S.Badger car ferry across to Ludington, MI then up across the Mackinaw Bridge? There’s lots to do & see hugging the coastline. You can go back approximately the same way so 2 ferry rides, or do a big circle through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula going west on US2 before swinging south through WI again, if you want to do a bit more driving/stop at more places.

  43. TDS*

    I need a dress to wear as a wedding guest — a cocktail dress for an NYC spring wedding in the evening. I actually haven’t been to an event like this so any advice regarding formality, appropriate wraps/jackets, or shoes is appreciated. Would wearing tights with a sparkly dress be a misstep? Better to err on the side of evening-wear or okay to choose a bit more casual spring floral dress? Little black dress A-OK? Does searching cocktail dresses at Nordstrom/Lord and Taylor give me the correct impression about what people actually wear in real life?

    If anyone feels like doing some vicarious shopping — Would prefer some sort of sleeves/ability to wear a regular bra, and like to wear blue/green/purple/gold/black. Also an apple shape — any brands/styles you would recommend? Can do either regular sizes or sometimes petites.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      White House Black Market is one of my favorite spots to shop wedding guest dresses. A little pricier so I only shop their sales but they’re a good look.

      1. mreasy*

        I have found a few great WHBM dresses in Poshmark at incredible prices and loved them – but of course can’t try on.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I like to browse Rent the Runway sometimes because the dresses are so pretty. And even better, a bunch of the women who wear them post photos, so you can see how they look on someone who is not a model and get an idea of the types of bodies they actually flatter. Might be a good option if you won’t want to re-wear the dress. Or just to get an idea of the type of dress you want. Caveat, I haven’t gotten anything from them, so can’t actually recommend them.

      No idea what people actually wear, so you’ll have to check with NYC people with that.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My daughter, and other people’s daughters, have used Rent the Runway and really liked it. It’s ideal for “want a special outfit for a special occasion” + “that special occasion isn’t going to recur soon.”

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Traditionally, you should not wear all black to a wedding. I would not wear a sparkly dress to a wedding, either. If the invitation said “cocktail wear”, start with that. Otherwise, use “evening wedding” as your guide. If you can’t ask any of the people involved with the wedding, ask a bridal dress shop or any wedding planner/wedding site manager in NYC what guests are wearing for an evening wedding.
      I hope you have a great time!

      1. pancakes*

        Many of us who live here aren’t big on dressing traditionally, but my suggestions on this point would nonetheless be pretty different for a wedding in, say, midtown vs. a wedding in, say, Greenpoint. I would be surprised to go to an evening wedding in either and not encounter anyone wearing black, though.

      2. TDS*

        A botanical garden for anyone wondering about the venue. All the cocktail wear I’m seeing when searching that term at stores has sequins or lace or embroidery — too fancy? I have a black dress with a woven sparkly gold and black overlay which I thought might work.

      3. PollyQ*

        I’ve been to New York area weddings, and many, many guests wear sequins. (Hell, I’ve been to many NY area Bar/Bat Mitzvahs where many guests wear sequins.) Black is also common nowadays.

    4. pancakes*

      Yes, better to err on the side of evening wear than something more daytime-y. It’s hard to get more specific without knowing what the venue is. You don’t need to reveal it here, but poking around online for photos can’t hurt.

    5. Ins mom*

      Do you know the venue? I’m sure other posters will have great suggestions and I think rent the runway is a great place to look

    6. Lady Danbury*

      A knee length or midi lace dress works really well for these type of events. I’ve definitely seen options with sleeves. I would skip the tights (they feel heavier/more casual in spring) unless the weather is so cold that they’re an absolute must. A classic or ankle-strap pump would work well with this look. Finish with a lightweight silk or cashmere blend wrap (or a similar synthetic). Nordstrom has a shimmer wrap that would be perfect for an evening wedding. Another option would be a velvet shrug or shrunken cardigan, if you can find one that matches your dress. Pinterest is also a great resource for wedding guest dress inspiration.

    7. mreasy*

      NYC person here. In the evening I would go with more “cocktail” less “sundress” – but you can’t go wrong with an LBD. The only thing about tights is that depending on what month you’re talking about, it could be hot/humid – tights plus sparkly sounds great to me otherwise.

  44. Tiredlibrarian*

    I’m planning a trip to Paris in September—my first time! I love researching and planning, but I’m a bit overwhelmed/not sure where to start. Any good sites or books for research you recommend? Any tips/tricks? I want to hit all the standard touristy stuff in Paris, but I also am thinking of Versailles and maybe a chateau in the Loire valley, and/or a day trip to Mont St Michel?

    Help me plan! :)

    1. Lifelong student*

      Mont St Michel is probably more than a day trip- or it would be a long, day trip at best.

      One thing we have enjoyed in various cities are small walking tours. We have used London Walks and Berlin Walks . There is a website for Paris Walks you might look at. The tours are in English and always interesting to get the ground level view and commentary.

    2. Maryn*

      You can reach Versailles on public transportation (although it’s been years, I assume this is still a busy destination), but they only allow a set number of people inside at a time, so arrive as early as you can. You can easily spend a day there, and while there’s food for sale, carrying in your lunch and enjoying it on the grounds would have been a better choice, had I known.

      Like New York, Paris is a “walking city,” only with far more uneven surfaces than any US city (with cobbles, heaved bricks, concrete slabs). You want all the shoes you pack to be comfortable walking shoes. It’s also a sophisticated city, so a wardrobe that’s light on or missing jeans and T-shirts will help you stand out less.

      1. MaxKitty*

        We did a lovely part-day tour that had us meet guide, take the train to Versailles, go to market and buy lunch, then pick up bikes and ride through the Versailles gardens to have our lunch. Then time after to visit the chateau.

        Blue Fox Travel is the name of the tour operation. They do other tours around Paris and day tours outside Paris as well.

      2. PatDiddy*

        Parisienne here. please bring all the jeans and t-shirs you like. I wear jeans pretty much every day and nobody has ever batted an eye on them. Leggings or sweat pants might be another story but even then I’d say they are pretty frequent in the subway/streets.

        Even if it were a non-Paris thing, people are going to realise you’re a tourist as soon as you open your mouth anyway-why not embrace it ? I sweat we don’t bite !

        Depending on how long op stays, I’d make the Mont Saint Michel a multi-day affair and take a peak at other normandy places (Honfleur, Etretat come to mind).

        Normandy is pretty far and there’s no fast train to get there. A single day visit to Mont Saint Michel will be tiring, if you’re short on time I’d skip it and stay in île de France or southern Picardie (e.g. Chantilly)

    3. UKDancer*

      I love Pere Lachaise cemetery. It’s wonderful to wander around and just look at the graves. There’s something rather peaceful after the rush of Paris in wandering around it.

      I also usually go to the Opera or Ballet but that’s because I like them. It’s quite fun and worth dressing up a bit for (not black tie just a bit smarter). I love just pottering through the Latin quarter because it’s fun and usually stop by Shakespeare & Co (if that’s still open).

      The Loire castles are lovely but probably more than a day. Villandry has the best gardens and Chenonceau is the loveliest overall (in my unscientific opinion).

      1. pancakes*

        +1 to Pere Lachaise.

        St Germaine des Pres was my favorite area for shopping and restaurants.

        David Leibovitz’s blog has lots of restaurant and market suggestions. I’m not inclined to rely on books rather than online resources for travel research because places close and things change and books quickly become outdated. The Guardian’s travel section is pretty good, too.

    4. MJ*

      I used to go with a theatre group and we would get a travel card for the Metro (think it was called a “carte d’orange” but it may have changed) that was good for a week of travel. From memory I believe it ran Sunday to Saturday only. Otherwise we used “carnet” – ten single-use tickets bought together.

      If you aren’t used to a busy metro/subway system the map can be overwhelming to start with! But there is cell service on the system, so you are able to figure things out as you go if necessary. I also used a phone app called City Mapper that was great with travel instructions.

      Versailles you definitely want to allocate a full day so you can take in the gardens. Just watch the last ‘train’ times for the garden transport. We missed the last one at 4pm and then got caught in a rainstorm for the long walk back to the other end.

      We enjoyed the catacombs, the stacked bones were fascinating. And an odd recommendation from a long-time visitor that a group of us enjoyed – the sewer museum (Musée des Égouts). It sounds strange, but gives a history going back to the Middle Ages and wasn’t anywhere near as smelly as we had expected. YMMV, but if you like offbeat ideas it’s worth looking into.

      Comfortable walking shoes are essential! I also always took a backpack with a water bottle, a sweater/wrap – some of the old buildings can be chilly – and an umbrella – good for both rain and as a parasol when waiting in the beating sun lining up to get into Norte Dame.

      Have an amazing time.

    5. Reba*

      Mont St Michel is quite doable as a long day trip — at least a few years ago, there was a special SNCF package train-bus ticket to do this. It would be worth spending more time in Normandy IMO but if a day is what you’ve got, go for it!

      We may not have similar taste, as I hate touristy, crowded things, so take this all with a grain of salt. Like, Versailles is great no question, but I enjoyed visiting smaller and less-heavily-visited chateaux quite a bit more.

      In Paris, there are so many hidden gems! The grand mosque in the 6th has a little cafe that is special. I always advise people to go up on the falaise in the 19th / Belleville to look out over Paris — it’s a better view than the Eiffel Tower. The one touristy thing that I think is really worthwhile is the catacombs. There are so many weird and small museums so depending on your interests, there could be a really rich itinerary of these off the beaten track places. Gaite Lyrique; Porte Doree (museum of immigration): Institute du Monde Arabe, Russian Orthodox cultural center (incredibly beautiful building) both close to Quai-Branly; Deyrolle Museum of Taxidermy; Gobelins; Biblioteque St Genevieve; many house museums of illustrious parisians…

      I lived in the 3rd and the 11th and really enjoyed staying in both arrondissements.

    6. Anima*

      Make an upfront plan for the Louvre if you want to go and only have one day. My sister and I did “paintings per minute” at the end of our visit, and we had a rough plan which sections we wanted to see and which not. Still not enough time.
      Instead, go to the Musee d’Orsay! Way nicer, smaller (but still big) and well, it’s in the old Gare d’Orsay if I’m not mistaken, so in an ex-train station!
      Plan a day frolicking in Montmartre. It’s super touristy in places, but if leave the beaten path it suddenly is very magical. We found a whole street of cloth vendors there, this wasn’t even in our guidebook!
      (Side note: I should go to Paris again, I found it loud and dirty, but I live about three hours by train from Paris and don’t know why I do not go there more often, panini or not.)

      1. the cat's ass*

        I adore all of these great suggestions, and would add a trip to the Chartres Cathedral as well.

      2. Lurker*

        I second the Musee d’Orsay. Other smaller museums I recommend are the Rodin and L’Orangerie.

      3. Lore*

        On the topic of museums, the first Sunday of the month, a lot of museums have free admissions. I didn’t plan my trip around that but it worked out beautifully—downside is louvre and orsee are even more crowded but smaller museums were great. I packed in Orangerie, Picasso, Pantheon (which I probably wouldn’t have done if we had to pay) and Cluny on one packed day.

        We also did a day trip to Rouen, which I probably wouldn’t have picked but my friend wanted to go, and if you’re interested in cathedral architecture, it’s quite amazing.

    7. Fikly*

      My favorite part of the Louvre (not sure if this is still a thing, it was 15 years ago) was the archaeological dig in the basement where they were digging up a previous Louvre.

    8. cat socks*

      David Lebovitz is an American chef who has lived in Paris for a number of years. He has posts about Paris travel tips on his blog.

    9. Imtheone*

      Monet’s garden at Giverny is a nice half day trip. We went in at lunch time, which made it much less crowded. There was a train from Paris, then a short taxi ride. You could probably also do an excursion and combine with another spot.

      Musee of the City of Paris is less well-known, and worth seeing. Lunch in one of the big department stores. I like a salon de the near the Eiffel Tower for lunch as well.

    10. California Dreamin’*

      We loved visiting the catacombs. Versailles was a full day and we didn’t see it all. Highly recommend renting a golf cart there to tool around the gardens and get to the other buildings. (You need a driver’s license to rent the cart! The folks in front of us were turned away because they didn’t have one with them.). We also did a really wonderful walking food tour. We did ours in Le Marais because we were staying there but they had them for a few different neighborhoods. I think it was called Taste of Marais. American expat took us and a few others around the neighborhood talking about the area and stopping in at a boulangerie, a cheese shop, a couple other spots and getting selections for us to try. It was a highlight!

    11. allathian*

      Versailles is awesome, although it’ll take a full day, unless you want to rush through it. The gardens are also worth a look.

      The blocks in Paris are big, so you’ll find yourself walking longer distances than the map would have you believe, at least if you’re used to smaller city blocks. Street numbers tend to focus on the Seine river, the numbering on streets perpendicular to the river start from the river, and on streets that run more or less in parallel with the river, the numbers flow downstream.

      The metro is often the fastest way to travel, even if it isn’t as scenic as the buses are. Traffic is crazy, and the vast majority of cars will have dings on them from parking accidents.

      Granted, it’s been 25 years since I last visited Paris, so things may no longer be as I remember them…

    12. LuJessMin*

      I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant that had the most delicious Croque Monsieur flatbread. My sister had the Croque Madame and it was also delicious. I’ve tried recreating them, but it’s not the same.

      And there was the restaurant our first night in Paris that had an awesome Beef Bourguignon. Yum.

    13. Middle School Teacher*

      Don’t bother going up the Eiffel Tower. It’s expensive and super crowded. See if from a boat ride on the Seine at night, when it’s all lit up and sparkly. If you want a tower, Montparnasse is higher and cheaper and less crowded.

      Definitely check out Sacré Coeur, either take the stairs or the funicular.

      The catacombs are amazing, I highly recommend them.

      Musée d’Orsay is better than the Louvre imo, but the Louvre is the Louvre.

      Definitely check out Père Lachaise cemetery. Even if you don’t see all the celebs it’s worth the visit.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Best advice I got about the Louvre was to pick whether I wanted to do the highlights of the museum or in-depth one time period. Best advice I stumbled across on my own is that if you are a medieval history buff go straight to the Museum of the Middle Ages AKA Musee de Cluny. Also don’t skip that if you were ever a unicorn crazy child like I was…they have the “La dame a la licorne” tapestries.
      Beyond that, think about the movies and books you have loved that are set in or near Paris, and find those places.
      When planning your meals, consider restaurants run by people who emigrated from former colonies. We had some great luck at small Lebanese and Moroccan places. And also, you know how Chinese immigrants to the United States developed something new out of their traditions to use what foods were available? They did the same thing in France and the result is different and delicious.

      1. tiredlibrarian*

        That bit about movies/books is why I want to see Mont St Michel – 1982 Scarlet Pimpernel with Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews! lol

        But that’s a great idea–thank you! And the food ideas too! :)

  45. What The Family Leaves Behind*

    Follow-up question related to Hotdog Not Dog’s post about how to deal with the possessions that remain after a loved one dies:

    I still have a bunch (it’s not organized enough to be called a collection) of coins and paper currency that my late parents had gathered—things like Silver Certificate dollar bills, at least one Mercury dime and other coins.

    I’d really like to find out if any of it has value beyond the sentimental, but just don’t know who to trust.
    – Online sites such as EBay, etc., are all over the map in valuations.
    – I thought of visiting a coin-collecting club meeting, but most of these still aren’t meeting in my area because of Covid; and I’m wary of someone saying, “Oh, yeah, I’d buy that from you for fifty bucks” when the coin would be worth substantially more and I’m just not aware of it. (Several years ago, a family member almost lost something valuable to that kind of offer—and the offer was from someone we knew and trusted.)
    – Professional appraisers: I understand it’s unethical for an appraiser to offer to buy something they’ve just appraised … and anyway, the professional appraisers I’ve contacted charge more than my monthly rent just to look at the few items I have.

    Sounds like I’m preemptively blocking off all possibilities, right? But where would you go for this kind of thing? I’d be most grateful for any suggestions.

    1. Lifelong student*

      You could seek out places that sell such things to see what they would charge for them to get a rough estimate. Of course, their prices would include a mark-up- but it would let you know if something is worth $10 or $1oo.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes if you can find a local dealer they will help and be fair (reputation). A coin worth $100 is only worth that if you know how to sell it.

    2. Llellayena*

      Try an auction house. They’ll have appraisal services attached to them that are often open for the public. You have the option of the auction house auctioning your stuff off or just getting the appraisal for auction, retail or insurance valuation (which can be three wildly different numbers).

    3. What The Family Leaves Behind*

      Thanks, y’all, for the excellent suggestions. I’ll be looking up coin dealers and auction houses in my area immediately. Much appreciation for your help.

    1. Phoenix Wright*

      Yep, it’s incredibly sad. They played here last weekend (didn’t see them this time, but I had already seen them twice) so I never imagined this could happen.

    2. StellaBella*

      I am super heart broken about this. Last month it was Mark Lanegan, now this. I loved them saw them a few times and I am from Seattle. It is so sad. He was only 50. :(

    3. Chaordic One*

      I was really shocked and saddened. In addition to be talented, I just found him to be so darned likeable.

    4. VegetarianRaccoon*

      I hadn’t heard yet! I would call myself a fan,yes. They were my first and only concert experience this past August (it was great!) Terrible for anyone to be lost so relatively young, selfishly sad now for what we might lose musically as well.

  46. Lettuce*

    Any ideas for what I can cook with lettuce? I am vegetarian (so no meat or fish), but eggs and dairy are welcome. Thank you!

      1. mreasy*

        One of my go-to wraps is scrambled egg, hummus, and lettuce – can use tofu and a little crispy chili sauce is a great addition. You can also do salads with baked tofu or hardboiled egg as the protein.

    1. WellRed*

      How about a taco salad with beans, cheese, corn, seasoning, salsa, sour cream (really whatever you like)

    2. Fit Farmer*

      If you literally are asking about “cooking” — usually lettuce is eaten raw, of course — there is a Mexican soup that involves lettuce. Now lettuce is only bitter when the plants are too old or when grown where too hot, but if I remember right, like 250 years ago lettuce was quite bitter to where it was often eaten cooked. You might look for historical cookbooks, like “Founding Fathers” type or other 18th century recipes.

      1. I heart Paul Buchman*

        In my country we also eat lettuce raw but I have a friend from China who tells me that in her district it is solely eaten cooked. In fact she had not seen it eaten raw until she emigrated. Cool huh? She described what I would call a stir fry.

    3. Not A Manager*

      What kind of lettuce? You can use most kinds as a leafy wrap for whatever sandwich type fillings you enjoy.

      Soft tender lettuce is sometimes used to add a “green” flavor to spring pureed soups. It’s a classic in fresh pea soup (you can make it with frozen peas but not dried peas – great hot or cold, easy to make with water or veggie broth).

      Probably this isn’t what you mean, but firm bitter greens can stand heat. Arugula and escarole are good sautéed or added to vegetable soups. Endive can be roasted or braised. Radicchio is good stuffed like cabbage.

      Romaine hearts can be brushed with oil and grilled or broiled. If they’re large, cut them in half first.

    4. e271828*

      There are several lettuce soups in my Hungarian and Czech cookbooks, I think. Finely shredded, in broth. You could use a vegetarian dashi as the base and add an egg to poach.

      1. the cat's ass*

        My mom always sauteed fresh peas in butter and lettuce in the summer. It was delicious.

    5. HannahS*

      I either slice it up and make salads, shred it and use it in tacos, or I put it in soup. Like if I make a brothy soup I might shred some lettuce and put it in the bowl before ladling on hot broth. It wilts but romaine and iceberg lettuce will retain some crunch.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I think you substitute lettuce for any recipe calling for cabbage. Stuffed, roasted, sauteed