weekend open thread – May 28-29, 2022

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. A scientist in the 1960s fights sexism, becomes a cooking show star (insisting the whole time that she is a chemist, not a chef), raises a dog and a child, and fights more sexism. It’s darkly funny, quirky, and satisfying.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 914 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the rules for these weekend threads prohibit posts that are just “here’s an update on my life.” One update on something you’ve asked for advice on here in the past, but not ongoing updates.

    Please also make sure you’re not assuming people have read your posts in the past. So that the site doesn’t feel cliquey to newcomers, any post should make sense to someone who is hearing from you for the first time. Thank you and happy weekend!

  2. Booknooks*

    I recently discovered r/booknooks and r/dioramas on Reddit, and I am obsessed! Folks who are into these hobbies, I’d love to hear from you on any (or all!) of the following:
    How did you decide to start?
    Where do you get your supplies? Do you have to be good at other things (woodworking, polymer clay, etc) to build a booknook?
    How do you come up with your ideas?
    What do you do with the finished product, other than selling it?
    Any tips for complete beginners?

    Please feel free to share anything else you’d like!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      This was my early pandemic project, lol. I have a tendency to want to do things all from scratch and that didn’t serve me well with the nook – I really wish I’d just gotten a kit or something. You can find bases on Etsy (the actual wood nook but with nothing in it), some of them include a light or basic components and some are like a full 3D thing that you can build and then paint/customize. I, uh, still haven’t assembled mine but I think it will look cute if I ever get around to it! It’s the street lamp in the forest from Narnia :)

    2. Anonymous cat*

      I have a question for people who do these kinds of hobbies or something similar—what do you do with the completed projects after you’ve had them for a while?

      Do you put them in a closet or something or do you have to grit your teeth and throw them out because you don’t have room?

      1. RagingADHD*

        My daughter has been into all sorts of 3-D miniature art since she was tiny. We don’t really have a plan. We take photos of the best ones and they stay on display on various surfaces until she loses interest. Then they migrate gradually to the backs of shelves, into bins, and eventually get re-discovered and thrown out.

        Now that she’s got her own phone and Instagram, she posts things there. Also, now that we have a cat he helps accelerate the process by knocking things under the furniture and/or breaking things. When you make one, it’s precious. When you make ten thousand, they are easy to let go of.

        She only has the one proper book nook, and it lives in her shelf next to the series that it’s based on (Artemis Fowl).

    3. Suprisingly ADHD*

      One of my favorite sites for any type of model building or repair: thistothat(dot)com. You pick the two materials you are trying to glue from drop-down menus, and it tells you which glues work best! It also notes any pros and cons of each adhesive (eg takes days to cure, or will definitely be visible or is hard to work with), and adds tips for the material you’re working with. Plus each recommended glue has its own page on the site with details and a link to the manufacturer.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I just told this to my miniature-making daughter, and the gasp of delight was audible all over the house.

      2. Girasol*

        Thanks for posting that! It would have saved me so many disasters, the last being the day that I chose gorilla glue to reattach the loose soles on my moccasins because they said it was permanent. I ended up with a strange wad of powerfully strong foam that attached my shoes to the porch. I finally got them ripped off and had to throw them out. The splodge on the porch seems to be as permanent as promised.

  3. Mitchell Hundred*

    I just (as in about an hour ago) finished a really good trilogy of books: The Chronicles of Ghadid by K.A. Doore. They take place in sort of a fantasy Middle Eastern setting, and center around a family of assassins. The first one is sort of a murder mystery, and the other two are about the protagonists getting caught up in bigger political intrigue. They’re really lovely, all about the importance of being open and honest with the people you care about, and each book revolves around a different queer romance (because each one has a different protagonist). Also, the world is one where same-sex attraction is just generally accepted as a fact of life, which was really refreshing. I liked it a lot.

    Anyway, I normally just lurk here, but having just finished this series and seeing the book recommendation of the week, I thought it might be appropriate to offer one of my own.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I just finished Brace for Impact a newly published roller derby memoir. It covers the queer author’s first season in derby with flashbacks to her childhood (and emotionally and physically abusive mother). Roller derby helps her find herself and her voice (somewhat ironic since she’s enrolled in a writing MFA program), and be willing to take up space.

      Highly recommended.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I know what that acronym means, but it always makes me think of a cuss word.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m reading the Natural History of Dragons series, and it does a wonderful job of intriguing me–what’s around the corner?–even while being written by (ostensibly) an old woman about her younger years, the outlines of which her (ostensible) audience will surely know. I don’t know if we’re going for aliens or somewhere completely different.

      In putting my finger on this aspect, I realize that it’s something I regularly point to in Better Call Saul: I know exactly where Saul is going to wind up, but how he gets there is gripping.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Ooh, that does sound good. The ability to keep the audience engaged even when they know what’s coming is very difficult. I’m always glad to find a writer who can pull it off.

    3. cleo*

      Oooh, thanks for the recommendation! That sounds good – I’m always looking for more good queer fantasy.

      Have you read The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri? The queer, feminist epic fantasy set in a world inspired by India and SE Asia that I didn’t know I needed. My favorite book of 2021. I’m anxiously waiting for the next book to come out later this summer and I so hope it’s as good as the first.

      I’m currently reading Bluebird by Ciel Pierlot. The tag line is “Lesbian gunslinger fights spies in space!” and that’s pretty accurate. Not as much character development or world building as I prefer, but the protagonist is like a cross between Han Solo and Nebulae from Guardians of the Galaxy and it’s good, space operatic fun.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I think I have heard of this book. I couldn’t remember the title, though, so I was just thinking of it as “the sapphic South Asian fantasy novel.” Good to know what it’s called, thank you.

    4. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

      I’ve gotten such great book recommendations here! Most recently the Murderbot series by Martha Wells. It’s about a murderous android discussing itself and it’s also funny. Highly recommend.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Yes! But don’t be put off by the word “murderous.” Murderbot is a name given by people to scary-looking security units who have both biological and mechanical components. SecUnits are not seen as being self-aware; the story is about Murderbot gaining self awareness, watching a lot of tv serials in the background, and keeping its reckless and illogical humans safe. Heartwarming and very drily funny.

  4. Penguin*

    Slowly getting to a point in life where my friends’ schedules are too busy to make plans regularly. I’ve noticed myself getting resentful and self-pitying over it, and I’d like to change that. So a couple of questions to anyone who has been through this:

    1. Do you continue to invite people to hang out even though they have to keep saying no because of their schedule? Do you let them take the lead? Does it depend on how they respond (e.g. offering an alternate time/date to meet, vs just saying “sorry I can’t make it”)
    2. How did you work to be okay with the change in your social life?
    3. What are some fun things you like to do alone (solo dates if you will?)

    1. Anon for this*

      I’m interested in this kind of thing too!

      How do you deal with the pain of everyone moving on without you?

      It seems like there’s only so much you can do to keep yourself busy.

    2. Despachito*

      I am usually the busier friend so perhaps some insight from the other side?

      1. If I really want to hang out with someone who reaches out to me but I am busy, I’d offer some alternate time, or if I can’t, I’d at least sometimes call the other friend proactively. So yes, it would depend on the response, and if someone keeps saying just “sorry, I can’t”, I’d read it as “it is not one of my priorities” and eventually stop inviting them. People drift apart and that is perfectly normal and nothing wrong with it, but I cannot think of a socially acceptable way of saying “you have absolutely not done anything wrong but I have other priorities now in my life” than “I am sorry I am busy”.

      2. I think these are changes life brings. It is necessary to have something in common, and sometimes, if the common thing disappears (such as e.g. a shared hobby), there is no more reason to hang out so frequently. I think this makes the difference between acquaintances and friends. It can be sad, but on the other hand it makes some space in your life to find new friendships. I’d try to find an activity that would be interesting for you and at the same time a possibility to meet people and possibly forge new frienships. (A sport you like? Language lesson? Yoga class? Choir singing? Volunteering for a cause you support?). Basically to keep yourself occupied with something you like.

      3. If I need some activity by myself I like to take a walk. But if you mean “alone” as “I have actually no other person willing to do it with me”, I enrolled in language classes and met a pretty interesting bunch of people there.

      And an important thing – try to “read the room” and if your friends do not respond proactively, contact them less but do not be bitter towards them. If you stay on good terms is possible that they will come back to you once the turmoil in their lives slows down a bit.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I’m the less busy friend with two friends who are moms. It depends on how my friends refuse a meet up.

      But it does ultimately come down to if they carve out time for me even it’s not at the frequency I prefer. If they don’t they eventually fall out of the invites.

      I am an advance planner. That leads to me being the person who plans nearly everything so I don’t use that as a gauge. It’s really how they respond, and if they carve out time for me eventually.

      I go to museums and occasional movies alone. I also have more disposable income than my friends and figure they don’t want to spend money on museums. Although there’s time before or after, the actual movie watching is not social and if there’s something I want to see in the theater I’ll go by myself.

      But also if it is that your friends are having kids or coupling up and nesting when you’re not (moving yo a new life stage) it’s probably also time to look for an activity that might bring you into contact with other single people who are looking to socialize more. The meetup app works like that for me.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      While this isn’t exactly the same as your situation, I found that over time, a number of my friends were less available due to life changes or they had moved further away. I made peace with the fact that I needed to expand my friend group by bringing in new people.

      Wanting to make new local friends with shared interests, I ended up starting a Meetup group for people in my age group focused on nature appreciation. That was three years ago, and I now have several good friends from that group as well as others that are less close but whose company I enjoy.

      I still value my previous friendships and appreciate seeing those people when they’re free. But having others to spend time with regularly has really turned around the sense of loneliness I was feeling when my other friends moved away and had lives that became more full.

      As for what I love doing alone, I never tire of hiking or watching birds by myself. Nature is great company.

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      1) It depends on how often they say no and/or the reasons. One way I’ve tried to steer that for people that I want to see is to say “Hey, do you want to do a thing?” and if they say “yeah, that sounds like fun” I’ll ask when they are free and try to schedule around their availability. I have another friend who is super busy and I think what I’m going to try with her is to make future plans further in advance, so she doesn’t get booked up.
      2) It can be hard to be okay with losing a friend or set of friends because life gets in the way. It can definitely feel depressing that you aren’t as high of a priority in your friend(s) lives as you used to be. However, the loss of closeness with a particular person is NOT an indicator that there is anything wrong with you as a person. I’d encourage you to do some self care and try to make some new friends to fill your time. Love/Friendship are not a finite resource. While TIME is finite, you can have as many friends in your circle as suits your life and that may grow and shrink at different times in your life.
      3) There are a lot of good solo hobbies. Think about the things you are interested in – reading, running/other forms of exercise, shopping, collecting things (really could be anything from keychains to cars – although collecting cars would be a pretty expensive hobby), photography. Some things are more solitary by nature and some things are more group-oriented. If you are finding yourself gravitating towards the more group-oriented thing, maybe join a group that does those things – could be an adult sports team, a meetup group, etc.

    6. Vio*

      I’ve been on both sides of the problem, it really sucks when schedule conflicts get in the way of friendships. I find it’s best to just be open about it “I/we miss hanging out with you. Obviously you’re very busy but I/we’d love to do something when you have some free time.” sometimes it can take a while, but it honestly helped me a lot when one of my friends pointed out how long it’d been since we’d spent any time together

    7. Madame Arcati*

      1) I schedule things a long way in advance, tbh. Yeah I might be seeing my friend in June for the first time in months, but I know I will see her because we found a mutually convenient date and got it down in our diaries, and we’ll stick to it. Most interactions with friends to arrange meeting up start with a negotiation about when would work rather than an invitation for a specific day. So, “hey Fenella, it’s been ages, are you free any time in the next couple of weeks? I am in the office mon-weds, maybe we could catch up for an after work drink?”
      2) honestly I just did it. Some things you can’t change, you just cut your cloth accordingly, and learn to take pleasure in new things. No plans for a weekend evening? Well isn’t that great you can make a nice dinner of whatever you like, settle down and watch that film you love but have seen loads of times before, no rushing about. Looking for the positive, if you will.
      3) Re stuff to do alone; frankly I am a firm believer that most things don’t require company if it isn’t available. You can go to the cinema alone if you want to. I am a crafty-hobbies type person so i do that alone at home but if there’s a fair/show/exhibition/big collection of vendors of supplies, I’ll just bomb on down to that on my own. I might arrange to say hi to someone from an online group for that hobby, but equally I’ll enjoy spending as much or as little time looking at exhibits or stalls as I want. I might also do a class to learn something (at a show, or not). I did a modern calligraphy class last year, just half a day. And I might go to a crochet class on Tuesday night because I never could get it from a book or a YouTube video! I’m not even trying to get anyone to go with me.
      A day without plans dependent on others can be a joy. It’s half ten in the morning here in Blighty and I am still in bed, finishing my coffee and toast. Shortly I’ll get up and dressed and walk into town to the local library and a shop or two. I shall dawdle on the way to admire the wild blossoms and butterflies in the hedgerows, and nobody will be waiting or impatient.
      I used to live in a big city and occasionally I woke up on a Saturday feeling a bit bored and glum, so I got up, walked to a local café to get a takeaway coffee and breakfast item, and went to the park to commune with the dinosaurs. (I’ve now outed my old suburb to those in the know!) Now of course most places don’t have dinosaurs to hand but there’ll be someone to commune with. Ducks on the pond. Statue of Jebediah Springfield. The ginger cat you can see from your kitchen window. A large tree.

    8. Jay*

      I have a dear friend whose schedule seems to be the exact opposite of mine, so while we both have free time it rarely coincides. I used to tie myself in knots trying to accommodate her and it made me resentful, so now I hold my boundaries and see her when it works for me. We’ve started scheduling phone calls if we can’t see each other in person. She’s also the sort of friend I could actually process my feelings with so when I saw her post on social media that she was having lunch with someone else, I told her I was hurt and we worked through it.

      In general, I am the planner and the one who reaches out to schedule things. It used to bug me and make me feel like they didn’t really want to see me. Now I figure if they didn’t want to see me, they’d say “no” and I have realized my life is much less crowded and complicated than most of my friends – I no longer have kids at home and I’m mostly retired. I go for lots of solo walks and I will go to the movies or museum by myself. I belong to a choir and enjoy that community and I’ve made some good new friends there.

      I do keep inviting people even when they often say no if I really want to see them. Mostly they say “yes” some of the time or offer an alternate – if they just said “sorry, no” every time I would probably stop asking.

    9. Overeducated*

      My life is like this – my friends and I are at stages where we are mostly busy with family and extracurricular stuff, and mostly live further apart. It

      1. Overeducated*

        Ugh, sorry, I’ve been having issues with my phone. Anyway, my advice is plan WAY ahead. Sadly there’s no more “are you free for drinks tomorrow?” Now it’s “what weekends are you free this summer so we can get together once?” It is more work for much less socializing. And just keep trying. I don’t think keeping track of who does the inviting ever really helps.

    10. Swisa*

      If your friends have kids, if you’re willing to come to them, that can help. I would love if a friend suggested coming over for takeout, and then having cocktails or dessert or a movie after kid bedtime. It’s much more fun for me hanging out after my preschooler has gone to bed. My kid goes to bed at 8, and it would honestly be a bit of a pain in the a** for a friend because they’d have to put up with about 30 minutes of me doing bedtime routine, but after that it would be so appreciated and fun! I honestly assume that most childfree people wouldn’t be interested in putting up with that level of nonsense (and it seems like they often go to bed earlier, so staying up to hang out feels like an imposition?), so it’s not something I typically suggest.
      Hanging out without the kid outside the home is something I can do occasionally, but it involves either having my spouse watch the kid, which doesn’t always work, or hiring a babysitter, which involves coordination + $20/hour.
      But I so wish someone would be cool with/would suggest doing something at my house like this!

      1. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

        We have a weekly DnD night with friends that has been going for years now, very few exceptions, and the reason it works so well for us is that our childless friends *do* come to us. We deliberately scheduled game night to start after the kids’ bedtimes, though our friends usually arrive a bit before and get to watch the chaos of getting the munchkins down. It means we’re free to just enjoy time with friends, no babysitters required. They also dive in and do things like setting up the game table, hauling in whatever extra chairs are needed, etc. when my hands are full. It’s things like that that make a weekly game night possible and not something I resent.

      2. E. Chauvelin*

        Serious question: you wouldn’t feel put out by somebody inviting themselves over to your house? Many of the same people I have trouble finding opportunities to do stuff with frequently talk about how their houses are disasters and they feel bad about it. I’m trying to be clearer about the fact that I would be happy to go to kid-friendly places with them, like the local science museum, but while I’d be happy to go over to their houses also, being the one to raise that idea feels like I’d be asking them to do the hosting work even if I brought the food, so we’ve only ever done that once when one of the people with kids suggested it (and it was a middle of the afternoon mostly about the moms playing with the assorted kids thing). And my house doesn’t work for kid-friendly get togethers because, even aside from the fact that it doesn’t allow for the kid going to bed and the adult hangout continuing, it is full of not child safe things like swords hanging on walls that I couldn’t easily do something about temporarily.

        1. RagingADHD*

          It depends how it’s done. “Would it be easier for me to come to your place?” or “I could come to your place if you’d rather” isn’t really inviting yourself over. It’s just offering an option.

          If they say something like “Oh I couldn’t, it’s a sty,” then you’d say something like, “really, don’t mind me, I don’t care! I just want to see you!”

          They may still not be comfortable with it, but you’re not imposing. You’re just being flexible.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            Yes, this is what I’ve done. My friends with young children were grateful that I stayed in touch while a number of their friends didn’t because the parents couldn’t get out of the house easily. I would tag along on outings to the playground, or join them for dinner, or whatever. I would also offer to bring something or run an errand for them on my way.

        2. Swisa*

          I would say something like, “hey, would you all be interested in getting together this weekend? You’re welcome to come over here for dinner, or I’d be happy to bring over a pizza to your place if you’re interested. We could play some board games after the munchkins go to bed!”

          1. E. Chauvelin*

            Thanks. I do have another friend with whom I have a standing annual invitation to come watch the Tony awards at her house after her kid goes to sleep, so that the kid can just go to sleep while we hang out and so that her husband isn’t the only person to listen to her go on about musical theatre stuff that he has no knowledge of or interest in. But ironically she is also the most reliably available of my friends when it comes to leaving her kid with her husband and going out to do something (usually also musical theatre related), so I never have to ask if I can come over one of the other three hundred and sixty-four days of the year as a condition of seeing her.

            1. Swisa*

              Hugs. Adult friendships are hard. I was just thinking today about how I don’t feel like I really have friends anymore. I should probably reach out more, too.

    11. matcha123*

      I rarely invite people out, so I guess I would be the opposite of you.
      I also used to turn people down, not because I didn’t want to see them, but because the activities were: Too expensive for me (even after explaining countless times that I did have the budget for X, I’d get really weird responses); The activities were short notice; The activity conflicted with another activity I’d scheduled for that day/time.

      Personally, I prefer a good amount of heads up time to schedule in an event. I think that when both parties aren’t expecting the other to be on call 24/7, things work well.
      If your invites get pricey or are short notice, maybe try cheaper alternatives or plans further out?

    12. GoryDetails*

      Re solo activities: I do a lot of things on my own, from lunching at interesting brew-pubs to visiting sculpture gardens or museums or historical sites. Oh, and geocaching – am very fond of that, and have discovered loads of new-to-me parks, hiking trails, and historical and cultural information as well. And I often wind up combining these things with trips-with-friends if and when our schedules and interest-levels overlap. For me it helps to make plans a bit in advance so I can put it on my calendar and – especially if it’s a more elaborate day-trip than usual – get my mind around the requirements of getting up early or planning for lots of walking (or lots of sitting-and-listening, in the case of lectures).

      It is natural to stop or at least cut back on inviting people to things if they never agree (or, worse, never respond at all), but for friends whose company you enjoy it can be worth continuing to make invitations now and then – just adjust expectations (though I guess that can be easier said than done!).

    13. HannahS*

      When my friends had things that made their lives harder to schedule (chose to go to medical school or developed a mental illness or was caregiving for a parent) I pretty much shrugged and continued to invite them to things. It takes a lot for me to stop inviting people, becaus I don’t take rejection personally, and that’s allowed me to sustain very long friendships. Planning things and inviting people to do stuff is one of my strengths, and it’s something positive that I bring to my relationships. It is not everyone’s strength, and I accept that.

      If I want to hang out with Jenny, specifically, I’ll try be as flexible as possible. But if I just want to see someone and be social, I’ll honestly just work my way through all my people and see who I can have over for dinner on Tuesday.

      Lastly, I really like doing things alone (though it’s not part of my life right now due to baby) and when I was single I would go to my municipal website and get a list of all the free events happening each weekend. I made sure I got out to do one thing each weekend day.

      1. moonstone*

        Sadly I lack object permanence, so if I don’t see someone for a long period of time I kind of just drift apart from them. Part of it is I replace the time I would spend with them with other people. I need to get better and maintaining distant friendships.

    14. Eff Walsingham*

      1 & 2: This might sound weird, but my husband and I have found that, as our friends undergo certain life changes, it helps us to articulate out front what is happening. Having a baby? “We won’t see them again for 5 years!” It started as a joke, but then we realized that a) it’s kinda true; and b) it’s somewhat unavoidable. No malice, no harm. Pre-pandemic, we might have averaged one visit a year with each new family. Now, not even that. It’s perfectly natural that bonding with a baby / physical needs / activities / extended family are going to take the lion’s share of the parents’ time and attention. So it’s like the purpose of our ‘incantation’ is to take the sting away. We will just keep up with them on social media and exclaim remotely over their adventures.

      And it works for other life events too! Planning a wedding? “We’re not going to see them for 6 months!” Maybe 18 months, depending on the event. In a play? “We’re not going to see them for 3 months!” New job? Grad school? Depends on the details. But apparently, for us, low expectations are key. And the person may surprise you, and still be available. But we try to manage our emotions proactively, because we’ve been doing this for a while now. Some of our friends are having babies still, and some have grandbabies!

      And — I will say this here and never to anyone’s face in the moment — we both have a strong aversion to hearing detailed accounts of bodily functions, and some new-parent friends became huge oversharers. Then suddenly we were the friends who got ‘too busy to socialize’ for a while! In my experience, some friendships eventually return to their old form, or something that’s equally pleasant, and some just drift away. But I’ve had no success in predicting which will happen in a given case. I try to let go with grace, and be open to whatever happens.

      One thing that can be helpful is to show you care in other ways than spending time together. For example, I have one former college roommate who really likes to receive flowers. So if I know she’s working on a big deadline or something, I might send her flowers to show I’m thinking of her, instead of trying to set up a coffee or dinner. This works best with friends you know very well. A card with a shared joke in the mail, is another way of acknowledging “I know that you’re too busy to socialize now, and that’s okay.”

      3: During the last couple of years, I’ve learned that I’m not merely an introvert, I’m actually a loner, if not a hermit! I have always been fond of solo recreational activities such as walking, photography, crafts, and reading. I’ve never been bothered by dining alone, or attending movies or events by myself, although I understand that some people don’t like to. And some people make a real challenge out of meeting up by being late, or making last minute changes to the plan without consulting anyone else’s convenience. Maybe I’m just becoming a stick-in-the-mud, but if you try to turn a coffee date into an urban hike, it’s entirely possible that someone won’t have the right shoes. So I do like the freedom of calling all the shots on an outing because it’s just me going. That way I know I’m going to be responsible for getting myself to wherever I need to be afterwards, on time and not looking too tattered hopefully! Truly, I often have a fabulous time while out and about on my own, and occasionally meet nice strangers and chat a bit, in a shop or at a bus stop.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I LOVE your point about showing you care, even if it’s not spending time together. I have some dear friends with whom I exchange care packages at random points throughout the year, and it feels both fun to send them and awesome to receive them. Just a great way to show friends we still love them . . . .

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Care packages can be great! Especially if the strain on the friendship is caused by someone moving far away, there may be local, not-too-heavy treats that can be shipped and enjoyed.

          One of my friends, maybe 15 years ago, signed me up for a shipment a month from Victoria’s Secret. It was hilarious, a few of the things ‘Victoria’ thought I might enjoy! (They asked the sender for the size and categories, then shipped items in prints and colours that didn’t sell so well. In some cases, I could see why.) Again, this sort of lark is recommended for one’s oldest and dearest friends. She was my maid of honour. We saw each other all the time before I moved a thousand miles away.

          1. squirrel nutkin*

            Aw! Thank goodness for cell phones with unlimited calling plans, right? I can relate to having some of my closest friends far away!

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I have a friend that now works in a different building across campus (instead of in the same office, as we used to), and in addition to occasional lunches together, we send each other little surprises in campus mail just to show we’re thinking of the other one

    15. Squirrel Nutkin*

      One book that I got for myself that I like on this topic is Marjorie Hillis’s *Live Alone and Like It* from the mid-1930s. It’s aimed at the career or retired woman living alone and encountering just these sorts of problems as old friends get their time taken up with marriage and kids. While some of the advice is outdated, much of it still holds! She reminds the liver-aloners that almost everyone feels a bit self-pitying and neglected by their friends sometimes and recommends exactly the direction in which you seem to be going — solo dates and hobbies!

      She ALSO recommends making a new bunch of friends who have more time. Her basic MO for making friends when you’re an adult (a little more complicated if you’re taking a pandemic precautions) is to join up with a group or two, find someone who seems nice and has a common interest, and ask them to go do something with you. Repeat until you’ve decided that you don’t want to be friends or until you become friends. If you ARE taking a lot of pandemic precautions, one of my cousins had success with a group she found online that seeks to match up pandemic-careful people for activities. She got a great, safe walking partner out of it!

      As an old single with no kids, I’ve had to face a lot of my friends not having that much time for me, especially when their kids were little. (From about birth to five years old, their kids made any phone calls very hard to have without constant interruptions.) But I tried to remember that it wasn’t personal and that it was a phase in their lives that wouldn’t last. Now, my friends’ kids are a lot older, and it’s much easier to have a long gab on the phone. For those who’ve seemed to really want less contact, I’ve just had to let it go. Their loss, man.

      Solo date ideas — Walking and exploring new neighborhoods in the city; trying takeout from a new food truck or restaurant (or eating outside at the restaurant if you feel covid safe enough); staying home with a favorite meal and a book you’re looking forward to reading while playing some enjoyable music; spa day in the bathtub with scented bubble bath and a bath tray holding a good book and a cool drink; looking up a recipe for something you’ve never made before on the internet and trying to cook it with some good music playing; solo dance party rocking out to your grooviest tunes; if you feel covid safe enough, going to an art house movie theater and seeing a great old movie or going to a museum of something that truly interests you or browsing in cool stores or looking up something in a far-away branch library and going there to check it out; walking in the park and bringing along a picnic; watching kids play/people do sports at a playground; listening to a good radio program/podcast while you do chores; making yourself a special brunch every Saturday or Sunday . . . .

      1. Pam Adams*

        Marjorie Hillis did several other books- I love them too!

        There’s also a biography by Joanna Scutts- The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      One of the best life lessons I learned was to keep adding new people to my life. The point was really driven home for me watching my father as he aged. Friends moved away, friends died, eh, sometimes the friendship just waned. Attrition happens for many reasons and often it has nothing to do with the individual left behind.

      1) Rule of three might be helpful. Three invites and a no answer might be a cue to wait for them.
      But a good thing to remember is that is a two way street. If I say no three times then someone might not invite me as much.

      2) I redefined my idea of what friendship looks like. Not every one is meant to be a close friend, it’s fine to have people who you just do stuff with.

      3)Tag sales or shopping mostly. Sometimes I will join a group for something. But to be even about this – there’s lotsa stuff people would do that i won’t because of money, time, energy, etc.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        This is very true, about attrition. Three of my old school friends have died in the last couple of years (not Covid, not that it matters). And we’re not seniors… two of them had children still at home, so it’s been unexpected. The last one was in November and I’m doing okay, but one thing I’ve realized is that you can make new friends, but you can’t make good friends. Not efficiently. You can just BE a good friend, and see how things go over time.

        I’m not actively mourning anymore, but… I have vacancies. At the top. The friend who remembered my birthday every year since we were about 8. People who provided feedback and encouragement in specific, helpful ways. There’s no replacing people, of course. But I’m sort of persistently bummed out to have more people at, “Hello, my name is…” “You must be X’s wife. I’ve heard so much about you!” “What an amazing sweater! How long have you been knitting?” But I know it’s not possible to fast forward to deep, meaningful connections.

        1. Paddy O'Furniture*

          I know it’s rough, but you seem to be coping very well and moving forward. Good for you!

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            Thank you both! It’s a gradual process, and the pandemic hasn’t helped. But I still have a pretty good support system, so overall I’m lucky.

    17. moonstone*

      I think the way I’ve dealt with this in the past is broadening my friend group a bit. And by that I don’t mean making a bunch of new best friends, but finding hobby groups to include as part of regular activities. This works for me because I have a lot of hobbies and they provide opportunities for me to meet new people. It does help that I live in a city. I love my close friends, but I don’t have overlapping interests with all of them. One of them is just a homebody, rather than busy, and prefers to stay home more than go out. I’m also dating so that keeps me busy as well.

    18. allathian*

      I don’t have a lot of friends, but I’ve been friends with most of them since middle or high school, or college. I’m an introvert, so I’ve never felt that it was necessary to have a lot of friends.

      College was my social peak, in that I had a number of close friends, and a large number of acquaintances that I liked to hang out with. All of the acquaintances have dropped out of my life for one reason or another. A big part of that was that I was a slow launcher because a bout of depression made me essentially drop out of college for 2 years, and all in all I took 8 years to graduate from a 4-year program, I’m eternally grateful to my true friends who didn’t abandon me during that time. The depression left me so depleted that I couldn’t be a good friend to anyone else, and the feelings of unworthiness and shame made me drop out of touch with all but my closest friends, who accepted me as I was and who didn’t abandon me although I didn’t have anything to give them for more than two years.

      Most of my friends coupled up in their mid to late 20s, and I was 33 when I met my husband, so for a long time we were in different life stages. They were working full-time and dating or living with their future spouses, while I was still a single student, and then working whatever entry-level jobs I could find. I’m very lucky in that they always included me in their plans and were happy to attend the potluck dinners I organized, because I was living on a student budget when they were working full-time.

      Now most of my friends are in the same life stage as I am, and now that life in my area has returned more or less to what it used to be before the pandemic, we’re scheduling stuff again. But for more than a year during the worst of the pandemic, we mainly kept in touch through phone calls or texting.

    19. Texan In Exile*

      I felt like I was a pest because I was always the one asking friends to do things. I didn’t know if I should keep asking when so often, my friends said no.

      But then one friend said, “Thank you so much for being The Inviter. I want to do things with my friends but I just don’t think of asking. Even when I can’t meet, I’m always so happy when you suggest getting together.”

      So yes – if you like spending time with people and if they occasionally say yes, keep asking. :) Some of us are Inviters, some of us are Inviteds.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I had a friend tell me that before we became close friends she was sad and worried every time she had to say “no” to an invite because she’s a single mom with kid stuff and thought “I hope they keep asking because I do want to do stuff with them.”

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Scheduling phone or video calls is another option too. I definitely relate to this.

          I’m comfortable going to movies etc on my own, at least pre-pandemic. A divorced friend went to local singles meetups some were specified as hangout vs romantic ones, and that worked out well for them.

    20. allathian*

      Scheduling things well in advance helps a ton. It helps a lot if you can let go of the idea of ever doing anything at a moment’s notice with your friends, like you might’ve done in high school (obviously depending on how many extracurriculars you had) or college (probably not grad school).

      In my late 20s I was still in college and single when most of my friends were coupling up, had graduated and were working full time. At that time, I’d lost touch with a lot of my more casual friends and acquaintances, largely due to the shame I felt for being such a late starter. My studies had been on hiatus for about two years while I dealt with moderate depression. I’m eternally grateful to those friends who didn’t abandon me when I wasn’t capable of being a very good friend to them.

      I met my husband when I was 33, and by then my biological clock was definitely ticking. So we started trying for a kid fairly quickly after moving in together. Most of my friends who have kids had their first a year or two before we had ours, so we weren’t the only childless couple for very long.

      When I was in college, I saw my friends pretty much daily. Now I see them once a month, if that, and never without at least a week’s notice. Most of our meetings are planned weeks in advance.

    1. Melody Pond*

      Wow. I started reading in mid-2012 and have been here damn near every day since then. Congrats, Alison!!

      Ha, actually, I had just gotten together with my husband when I was introduced to AAM by a lovely former co-worker. And my husband and I just celebrated our ten year anniversary a couple weeks ago.

    2. StudentA*

      Wow! Congrats!

      I’ve been reading since the beginning. I also must be one of the very few people who uses my original handle!

    3. Raia*

      Congrats Alison!! I started reading in 2014 when I wondered if it was really supposed to be as bad as it was. Since then I’ve quadrupled my income, taken both yours and fellow readers advice to get a budget, dress smart, buy a car and house, and pay off my student loans. Life changing space here. Truly, thank you!

    4. the cat's ass*

      Happy Anniversary, Alison! You have been smart, sensible, funny, and compassionate, and have attracted a commentariat who also embodies these values, and i am very grateful.

    5. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Congratulations! I can see how your site has grown when I read some of your older posts. I have learned so much from you.

  5. Shaw*

    I’m looking for advice from commenters with chronic illnesses who have made a significant move. I’m planning to move cross country next year to be closer to family but am concerned about managing my health care during it. So for those of you who have done it, I’m curious to hear about few things:
    1. When did you start talking with your doctors/specialists about moving? Did you ask them for recommendations on doctors in the new area?
    2. What did you do about health insurance during the move/gap in employment? (I’m in the US and my medications alone cost thousands of dollars a month without insurance)
    3. Are there other things that I should be planning for or considering?
    I’d appreciate any insight people have!

    1. Kate*

      I’ve a few (4) international moves with a chronic illness and pricey meds.

      I definitely talked to my docs beforehand and asked them for recommendations. Sadly given that they were international moves, they didn’t have any recommendations to give me. I did join FB groups for my new local area before I got there to get some recommendations so I could try and line up a doctor right away.

      Full disclosure, I never really found a great specialist for my condition in the new location (other conditions, some FANTASTIC ones, but not my primary issue), so I had the new ones run the blood tests, renew prescriptions and stuff and flew back about once a year or two to see my “real” doctor.

      I really REALLY recommend you take into account the effect of the physical move itself on your health and plan accordingly. Each of mine meant months of stress and uncertainty, lots of packing up, long days, short nights, etc. and it inevitably wore me out. My body took months to recover from each of them.

    2. Kate*

      Arghhhh I typed out a whole long reply but it seems to have gotten lost.

      In short: join local FB groups for where you’re going (either your-illness-related or not) to get reds for new doctors, but be prepared to use the new one for med renewals and blood tests but keep your current doctor and fly back once every year or two for a visit.

      Most importantly, don’t underestimate the physical toll of moving on your body. You likely have months of uncertainty, stress, packing, long days, short nights, etc. ahead of you. In my case, it usually takes months for my body to recover from a big move (I’ve done four big international moves since I was diagnosed)

    3. Euphony*

      I’d recommend getting copies of all relevant medical tests, notes, letters, prescriptions etc. Just in case it takes a while for all your notes to reach your new doctor – hopefully then if your new doctor queries something you’ll have easy access to the answer (eg reason for a particular medication). A good supply of medication before you move is useful too

    4. Bread Addict*

      I didnt move across US. I moved from US to UK. But I have moved within UK. Cant answer about the insurance bits. Though I believe Alison has mentioned before the option to keep it after leaving employers so maybe search the archives for that.

      Definitely check reviews of new doctors in area moving to. As well as any specialisations they have. Its unlikely your current doctors will know people in new area but there is no harm in asking. As others said get a copy of your records yourself as well. And see if your current doctor will write up a plan/cheat sheet for new doctor. Gets heart checked every 6 months, blood tests x is done every z frequency. Curtent med regime is abc. That type stuff. Its unlikely when you do go to new doctor that they will know your background even with your records. So a quick sheet with diagnoses and dates, important tests, current doctors plan, etc. Can help them jump straight into helping you. They might suggest modifications but it will give them a great starting point. Also if current docs can get you some extra meds in case there is a gap in getting new doctors set up or insurance stuff would be good.

      Try to start purging as early as possible. Packing can be hard so make a plan. I made a 2 month plan for my last move. It allowed me to feel in control (which helped mentally) and makes slow progress my body could handle. It was like week 8 (until move) sort x thing. Week 6 (until move) find out about postal forwarding. Lots of places online have lists of who to notify when you move. Dont underestimate the stress the move can have. Dont be afraid to ask friends or others to help with packing or sorting.

    5. Out & About*

      I did a move for my health. I did it pretty fast. My main doctor I was worried about was able to maintain care virtually. I lived in a northern state and discovered most Northern doctors are set to be able to accommodate their snow bird patients.

      For health care, their was no gap due to employment remaining the same. In the past when I had gaps, I would pay attention to when my refills were due and make sure I could get them real close to the end of coverage for maximum supply. Also talk to your pharmacist or a specialty pharmacy (community Walgreens for me) there might be coupons available to help with cost when you no longer have coverage. I had a shot that cost $5 with insurance but without $5000. With no insurance and the coupon it was $20.

    6. Call me St. Vincent*

      Hey I did this two years ago!

      1) I told my doctors I was moving about 6 months beforehand. I also asked them to help me vet new doctors and figure out where to get my every 6 week infusions. In my case, I was moving from a really well known academic medical center to a city without one, but placed geographically about 2 hours equidistant between two academic centers. My doctors ended up making recommendations and one of them ended up doing what he called a “warm” hand off to me by calling the new doctor and talking to them about me before I decided to go with them.

      2) I would recommend doing COBRA until you get set with your new insurance. I think we ended up doing it into the first month of the new insurance to make sure all my pre-auths had time to be set up on the new insurance. It isn’t cheap, but definitely cheaper than the cost of meds/hospitalizations without insurance.

      3) I called the new insurance ahead of time and asked them what the coverage zone was and when I could submit the new pre-auths. They weren’t allowed to do the pre-auth until I was actually an insured with them, but calling ahead allowed me to inform the new docs of the requirements and have them have everything ready to submit and they processed it right away once I got my membership (like within a few days). I also did a telehealth visit on my old insurance with some of the new docs so that everything that needed to be set up in the new patient visit could be set up in advance (transfer of prescriptions etc) and so that I could get in with them asap if I had an issue. Some specialists are making new patients wait up to 6 months or a year for new patients, so I would get started on finding the new providers asap.

      Good luck and happy to answer any other questions!

    7. Academic fibro warrior*

      Chronic fatigue/pain is my issue. When I was accepted to grad school, about 4 months before we’d have to move, I started talking to my doctors immediately. I called the insurance rep for grad students at my school within a couple of weeks to figure out coverage dates. Figured out my leftover PTO for coverage end date and overlapped them. Talked to pharmacy about transferring scripts.
      The move was the horrid thing. I started packing basically right away. A box or two a day. Took a day off to arrange movers. Arranged with family to help with moving donations from home to goodwill since we were downsizing to an apartment half the size of the house. Put what we’d need for the first couple weeks into clearly labeled boxes to easily access and unpacked leisurely. I scheduled time to rest a lot. What I could get others to do, I did. The planning and scheduling can be very tiring, but then I don’t have to do the physical things. The sooner you start the less onerous and exhausting an already onerous and exhausting process will be.

      What works well for me is to minimize surprises and plan ahead for all conceivable events and start planning immediately. Then I can actually plan leisurely.
      The move will absolutely wear me out so I’m useless for a week or two, so more I can space things out, the more the plan is in place to have it taken care of, the faster I recover.

      For my condition the awareness organization maintains a list of physicians who are fibro friendly in most areas of the US.
      Is that something you could look into? Is there anyone where you’re going that you know that can tell you, like, when grocery stores are crowded what oil change place likes to upsell unnecessary maintenance that kind of everyday thing? If it’s for a job the company might have someone who does onboarding that can help with day in the life questions?

      Also, my mom is a nurse and what that means is often you can ask for free samples of meds or the billing people for help on a charge? Especially when I was without insurance that was how I ‘filled’ emergency prescriptions (like for a bad chest cold and sinus infections, my mom would do that with teen vaccination requirements. One time the billing lady went and got approval for me to pay what the insurance company would have reimbursed them rather than the full charge.) Medicare doesn’t want to pay for the newer osteoporosis treatments for my mom so her endocrinologist will sometimes go into his medicine sample cabinet to treat her.

    8. bibliovore*

      Part of the saying yes to the move was to a job with good healthcare and an area that had specialists / coordinated care for my rare chronic condition. I made sure all my prescriptions (including the one that is $3,000 a month without health insurance) were up to date and I had at least the next thirty days on hand. I made sure that my previous job paid out my vacation etc and that I was covered for those months. Also I paid for a month of COBRA to make sure there was no gap.

      My doctors were actually not helpful for recommendations for doctors in the new area. (when I moved from Philadelphia to NYC 30 years ago, my specialist not only gave me a referral but arranged my first visit with an actual letter of recommendation)
      I think if I was moving now I would join a regional Facebook group for my condition and get recommendations from those members.

    9. MJ*

      Something I saw suggested for a different issue, but might be useful for you: if you can, get a several month refill of prescriptions just before you leave / insurance cover ends. This gives you a bit of a buffer to get things in place at the new location without panicking about your meds running out.
      And having recently moved back from abroad, I second the recommendations to start packing early. Also ruthlessly weed out stuff if you can. I got rid of lots of “huh, didn’t even know I had that” items from my cupboards.

  6. Is Rebecca still here?*

    I hope this is okay to post!

    Is Rebecca who lived with her mother and found a young bear hanging around her car still here? Did things eventually get better?

    I still occasionally remember how she found a bear by her car and looking like he wanted a ride, and it makes me smile. “Scoot!”

    (Still impressed how calm she was about it!)

    1. Virtual Light*

      I also often think about her and wonder how she is. I understand why the commenting rules changed but still miss hearing updates from her. I learned a lot from her about cheerful fortitude and making progress in difficult circumstances as we heard about her divorce and her dealings with her mother.

      I guess I could maybe turn this thread into a question: what kinds of life stories make you reflect more on your own life? Do the person’s circumstances have to be similar to yours?

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        This varies widely for me. Their circumstances don’t have to be like mine. Off the top of my head what I find compelling are self-reflection, openness to sharing and learning, vulnerability, and good writing.

        I’m currently reading a really intense memoir that probably a bunch of others here have already read–Educated, a national bestseller–and my life has been nothing like the author’s, thank goodness. That said, her descriptions of her transition from a teen to a young adult living on her own had me reflecting on my own experiences at that age.

      2. Is Rebecca still here?*

        The literal circumstances don’t have to be the same for me to learn from it.

        I was impressed with how in the middle of awful life stuff, Rebecca still made room for joy, like setting up wildlife cameras and really enjoying football.

        I have a tendency to let my troubles consume all my headspace so I need to learn how to keep room for joy.

        1. the cat's ass*

          I like “still made room for joy” very much! I sometimes need that reminder. I hope she is okay too.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve been wondering about her, too and hope she chimes in on this and other threads.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I know her online outside this forum, and she is doing fine! Still enjoying her bear / critter friends. I asked her if it was okay to post and she said yes; she is busy planting stuff today. :D

      1. Virtual Light*

        So glad to hear it!! Thank you! On the off chance she is writing elsewhere online and would feel comfortable sharing a link here, that would be lovely.

        If not, it’s really good just to hear that she’s ok. She worked very hard to find contentment, and deserves all the joy that comes her way. I’ll work a little harder on making room for joy myself today in her honor. Thanks again!

        1. Tea and Symathy*

          Same here. I have also wondered how she was doing. I would definitely read her blog, if she has one.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m not sure if she does; I talk to her in a group we were a part of before I found AAM.

  7. HannahS*

    Parents of young children: what balance did you find a balance between “Make sure to take time for XYZ important thing (relationships, hobbies, self-care, etc.)” and “This is a stage of life where some things are just going to fall by the wayside and that’s ok” ? What did you choose to prioritize, and what did you choose to set aside for a while?

    1. Despachito*

      When I had young kids, my priorities were them plus my husband – my work – my friends and extended family.

      Luckily, most of our friends had children at the same time so it was possible to hang out together with the kids and combine these two.

      What I had to drop were most of the hobbies and self-care.

      So I’d identify with your sentence “This is a stage of life where some things are just going to fall by the wayside and that’s ok” . Which ones these are would depend on your priorities, my experience is that it sorted out itself – as I had much less time and it was pretty clear what was it I WANTED to do in the tiny bits I had left.

      Looking back, I absolutely do not regret the time I spent with my kids and with the other important people in my life, and I’d prioritize it again. And I am glad I was able to keep up with my work as well.

      I wish you the best of luck, it is sometimes tough but it is absolutely worth it. :-)

    2. Ellie*

      I have three children: 3.5, 15 months, and 1 month old, and I stay at home with my them. I have discovered that I have to be very careful with what I chose to “add on” to my daily tasks of childcare, chores and errands. If I try to multi-task too much and start an intensive craft/hobby project, I quickly get agitated when my children take me away from that or interrupt (naturally this happens every 2.5 seconds). Right now, self-care is a shower, drinking my coffee when it’s warm, and disappearing for 4 minutes to use the restroom. As much as I miss my hobbies and independent time, I’m trying to remind myself that this season of life is short. I’d rather be more present with my children than in a bad mood because my toddler ruined my scrapbooking project. I prioritize a mostly tidy house, being pleasant to my husband, seeing a few friends (with my family) a month, and watching tv (I love tv at the end of a long day!) I’d love to add in exercise time, date time with my spouse, and dressing better, but I know those will happen in time.

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          When my nephew was less than a year old, my sister-in-law posted a video to Facebook of her sweeping the floor while he watched her and laughed. I’m fairly sure that he was just laughing because it was something new and he’s always been a naturally happy kid, but my first thought was that he had realized the futility of a parent with young children trying to keep her house clean.

          Like, I don’t have any kids of my own, and even I know that.

        2. Hotdog not dog*

          Yes, the tidy house disappeared in late pregnancy. Now that the baby is in high school, I still can’t find any extra time or energy for it!

        3. Ellie*

          Haha I guess I should clarify; tidy house means dishwasher is ran once a day and we have clean clothes. The state of my house right now makes me want to cry…but I’m trying to ignore it. :)

          1. Felis alwayshungryis*

            I decided to define the difference between messy and dirty. Messy is okay – toys on the floor, washing not put away, tufts of dog hair by the skirting board, a few coffee cups here and there. Dirty is different – a sink full of unwashed dishes, not showering, apple cores lying around, that kind of thing. Washing was no big deal because we did cloth nappies so the machine was on every day.

            I know my line – I think everyone’s is unique – and we did try to make sure it didn’t get crossed too much because I got grossed out and anxious when it strayed too far towards ‘dirty’.

            It is REALLY difficult. I’m not good at getting kids to ‘help’ with chores and cooking, so I did have to make peace with using screens here and there so I could get stuff done. I also had to let go and accept help.

            Hobbies are tricky – my husband has always been great about trying to let me have time to myself, but my hobbies are naturally interesting to kids. Sewing, she likes playing with pins and scissors. Knitting, playing with the wool. Painting, she wants to do it too (with my expensive watercolours!). I have to snatch time for it here and there when I can and I get VERY few chances because she does not go to sleep early or easily. But it’s a season, and at nearly 5 she is getting more self-sufficient and able to understand to leave me alone for a little while, then we have fun together.

      1. Mia*

        This is such a helpful framework, as we are a couple months out from adding baby #3!

    3. Little beans*

      I have a 2 year old and my priorities are literally: family, then work, then… nope, that’s it. The house is never tidy, nor neat. Hobbies and self care do not exist. I decided a while ago to just focus on my kid when I’m spending time with him, and not worry about anything else. I heard someone say once that you never know when it’s the last time you’ll pick up your kid so I remember that whenever I’m trying to do something and he’s begging for attention – I think this was just in reference to kids growing up but it has new meaning for me after Texas.

      1. Overeducated*

        Same here. My older kid is in elementary school and the time they want to spend with me already feels limited and very short. I think I’ll have more time for hobbies and my own social life as they get older but right now kids, work, and trying desperately to keep the house out of hoarder territory are about it. Self care and relationship could be better, but in ways we need more time and money for than we currently have (more exercise, regular babysitter, etc).

    4. M*

      I have a 2 year old. I workout from home but did that before getting pregnant. When my daughter was a baby she had tummy time. Now she gets her own mini band and sometimes follows along. Otherwise has pens and toys around. I clean once a week and cook bigger meals a few times a week.
      Some Saturdays her dad will take her out for chores and then I will take her out for walks so each of us gets alone time.
      We learned to do everything with her.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      David Sedaris had an observation about viewing the parts of your life (family, friendships, health, etc) as pots simmering on the stove, and that nothing helped so much as just turning off one of them. Which resonated with me so hard.

      You maintain things by keeping a toe in, so this isn’t a casual “and you can always turn that burner back on in a couple of years and nothing will have changed.” But if your bandwidth is overwhelmed, trying to do a smaller number of things to an okay level is more workable.

    6. Tib*

      For me, cleaning definitely slipped, although I wish I had incorporated more cleaning with my child helping. I also had a rule to never do anything during naps and breaks that could be done with my child around. That rule really helped me prioritize and give myself time.

      1. M*

        I did the same. Naps are my time. We sometimes put the toys to bed / cleaning before bedtime but mostly I have made peace with toys around.
        We put dirty dishes straight to the dishwasher after eating and that helps too.

        1. BubbleTea*

          My baby has recently started doing one-nap days instead of two, which is annoying, but for a while I had a good rhythm going where I spent one of his naps doing what I needed to do, and the other doing what I wanted to do. Then the stretch of sleep at the start of the night was a fusion- if I got ready for the next day fast enough, I had a bit of time for myself.

          With one nap, I need a new rhythm :(

    7. Pop*

      I have been able to keep doing a lot of the stuff I love to do, just way less/modified. Four mile local hikes instead of all day eight mile ones, or a stroller walk with a friend instead of happy hour, or going to knitting group but being prepared to go early/late if it messes with naptime. I’m big on bringing your kiddo with you on your stuff, which is relatively easy for me bc she’s ten months old and there’s only one of her. My husband and I very much have a divide and conquer strategy: we have different days off and we each make sure we hang out with our kiddo alone during the week so the other parent gets to do something without her. But I did just give up a sport I love and was trying so hard to make work, which I am still pretty bummed about.

    8. Swisa*

      Hmmm. When my kid was really young (kid is a preschooler now), I got about an hour of leisure time for just me per week. So I set aside a lot of hobbies, like cooking for fun. Now that kid is older, I’m able to start doing that stuff again.
      I also definitely put up with the house being pretty gross (food crusted on the wall/floor from kid being a messy eater), and huge heaps of laundry. Like for a long while we gave up on actually putting it away, except for maybe a week’s worth of kid outfits a time, because it made daycare easier. We eventually got a cleaner once a month, which helps with some of the grime.
      I prioritize kid + spouse and then work. Now, my husband and I trade off more. He sleeps in until 11 on Saturdays, and then he takes kid from 11-4, and then we both take kid from 4pm onwards. But we only started that in the last few months.

      1. Swisa*

        We also recently started a once a month date night, that I wish we had started earlier. That together time, with just us, is so rejuvenating. It’s expensive (sitter is $15-20/hour), but it’s been so helpful for our relationship.
        We do it the first weekend of the month, and I typically book the next month’s date on the website Open Table on the drive to the date, to make sure it happens.

    9. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      Right there now and figuring it out with lots of trial and error (mostly error). My child is just over a year old and I’ve finally realized relationship and self-care have to be priorities. I can’t take care of my child as well as I want to if I’m not taking care of myself, too. Keeping the house as clean as I would like is definitely falling to the wayside. The other thing we have realized: with our current season of life and all the hiccups we’ve had the last year, my husband and I can’t take care of everything ourselves, especially with both of us working. We have to ask for some outside help (babysitters, house cleaner, outsource some projects) and be a little more creative than we have been.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Depending how hectic things are, you might not really get to choose, per se. Making large strategic decisions about life balance requires a great deal of quiet thinking time, which in itself may not be available.

      For me it was always seeing what I could fit in. If there were ongoing commitments with other people involved, it had to be something flexible enough that it could go on without me and I wouldn’t get kicked out or fall impossibly behind if I had to miss a session. Church choir was good for that, and it ticked several boxes at once (social, spiritual, music/creativity). A regular exercise class at the gym was good, too. Again, ticking multiple boxes.

      If it was something I was doing on my own, like writing, I had multiple fallback options for when and how I could do it: paper notebooks, cloud-based files I could access from home or work, etc. Projects like knitting, gardening, etc needed to be things I could accomplish a satisfying amount in a short session and pick up or put down.

      Then there were wild-card items like a glorious afternoon out all by myself. Then it would be something spur of the moment, like going to a museum or a hike. Or browsing a bookstore or vintage shop. Lovely!

      Basically, the stuff that fell by the wayside was the stuff that didn’t fit. It helped that I pretty much lost the desire to do things that were emotionally draining or required a lot of homework (like theater). I had no gas in the tank and no patience for other people’s drama anymore.

      You take it where you can get it.

    11. Rara Avis*

      My biggest commitment outside work and family was bell choir. I had been playing in two and planned to drop it entirely, but one director was very short on people and asked me to continue, so I ended up making it work. I returned to the second group when my kid was 5.

    12. Forensic13*

      It’s interesting to read how many people dropped self-care and personal hobbies! I genuinely make an effort for at least an hour of things like that nearly every day, simply because I can’t be as good of a parent otherwise. It does help that the toddler is in daycare thrice weekly and that I have a non 9-5 job. I’d say what has lessened is things like cooking more elaborate meals (by which I mean other than cooking, say, a large bag of frozen chicken) and tidying. The toddler can survive her toys being on the floor; she will have far more issues if I’m running myself into the ground and getting stressed!

      1. RagingADHD*

        “It does help that the toddler is in daycare thrice weekly and that I have a non 9-5 job.”

        Yup. It sure does. LOL.

    13. Invisible today*

      Never found a balance. It’s more like juggling – you can only have so many things in your hand – everthing else is in the air… and every so often something falls to the ground. That being said… cleaning fell off the list pretty fast. And kids are a high priority. Hobbies came back as kids were able to help / join.

    14. Fellow Traveller*

      I have three kids ranging from 10 to 2. A few years ago, I took the Yale Happiness course. (I think it’s technically called The Science of Well Being). In the course, the professor identified several things that were scientifically proven to promote happiness, and the “homework” was to implement these ideas. I’ve found it a useful framework around which to prioritize certain choices. Some of the things suggested don’t quite work for me (meditation for one), but a lot of the others, I do find lift my spirits so I try to find time for them. The assignments I try to focus on are: cultivating gratitude, savoring, connecting with friends, exercise. Sleep is also on the list, but I find that one hard though I am getting better at going to bed earlier. So while there are activities that i set aside currently because my kids are young, I still feel as if I fill that bucket in other ways. Like I don’t bike anymore (exercise) but I will do fifteen minutes of a yoga video. Or I don’t go out with my friends, but i will meet up with them at a park or on a hike.

    15. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

      I prioritized Kid then work then time with spouse then connecting with friends/family then exercise then clean house. Basically most of my hobbies died except reading, although coming for fun had made a come back now that kiddo is almost 5. But the art, language classes? Random online courses and meet ups? And travel (this one is COVID’s fault, not the kid’s)? Those aren’t happening right now.

    16. Fellow Traveller*

      My kids are 10, 5 and 2. I think there will always be busier seasons and less busy seasons to life, and not just because of kids, but also job, parents, etc. And sometimes a season will last years.
      A couple years ago, I took the Science if Well Being class (aka the Yale Happiness Course), and each week was an assignment to work on something that was scientifically proven to increase well being. Some of the assignments worked better for me than others (meditation was not really for me…), but I think it has helped me figure out what kind of things I want to try to maintain as regular habits. For me the assignments that resonated were: cultivating gratitude, savoring experiences, exercise, connecting with other people and acts of kindness. Also on my list are creativity, time outside, and reading. I think when I think of hobbies or projects in that context, it makes it easier to decide if something is front burner or back burner. Like maybe crochet is back burner, but sewing masks for my church group is front burner because it helps me feel connected to people and it’s an act of kindness. Traveling is back burner but journalling is front burner because it is a creative outlet and when I write, i take time to practice gratitude. But maybe travelling will move to front burner because i want to take that time to connect with my family and savor new experiences.
      When I do my weekly planning, I try to see where, once the bills are paid and the kids are signed up for summer camp and dinner is made and cleaned up- i see where there are pockets of time for these things that fill my buckets. There will always be things I wish I had time for, but i think I want to try to make sure that the things I do make time for feel important too.
      If you haven’t read 4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, I thought he has a very pragmatic approach- once one resigns oneself to not doing everything, one can more easily prioritize what one does want to spend time on. He posits that accepting the limits of time is actually quite freeing.

    17. MeepMeep02*

      I tried to hold on to my biggest hobby (piano playing and composing) and found that it created a lot more tension in my marriage than I wanted to endure. At this point, I kinda don’t even want to play the piano anymore. It has become subconsciously associated with all that conflict and tension.

      My daughter is 6 and I could totally practice again if I wanted to. What I should have done was just stop while she was little and accept that this was the season of my life when parenting was the only thing I could do. Then I could have come back to it now and not have all that psychological baggage.

    18. allathian*

      I was lucky in that my MIL had retired early on work-related disability, which meant that she was available to help a lot once my husband’s paternity leave ran out and he returned to work. This meant that I could shower and do chores while someone else was spending time with the baby. I’m lucky in that my MIL is one of my favorite people, and there were never any issues with things like parental authority. Some of our parenting decisions may have puzzled her, but she never questioned our right to make those decisions.

      I made a mommy friend whose daughter was two months older than our son, and when the kids were small, they played really well together.

      My highest priorities were getting enough rest, and eating reasonably healthy food regularly. Even before having kids, my main hobbies were things you can do at home, like reading, moderating and posting at fandom forums (remember them?), and dabbling with graphics. I resigned as a mod at a very busy forum because I just couldn’t find the time to do the job properly. I read less than I would’ve liked, simply because I was so tired. Thankfully my husband also prioritized his family and spending time with his son, even when he was working and I was on parental leave.

      We didn’t go out to restaurants or the movies for a few years when our son was a baby and toddler. Starting when our son was about 2, he really loved sleepovers at his grandparents’. This meant that we could start scheduling sleepovers with the grandparents, all of whom live in the same metropolitan area. This meant that my husband and I could start going on movie dates again, and it did wonders for our relationship. Before the pandemic, we’d go to a restaurant and to the movies, or have an adult party with our friends and a few drinks about once every 6 or 8 weeks. We got a date night, the grandparents got a chance to spend more time with our son, which he enjoyed, so it was a win-win-win.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      I’m in the wrong country for specific recommendation but mine is a simple but sturdy frame made of wrought iron. It was not cheap (hand-forged by rural craftsmen!) but it’s a lifetime purchase – I got it nearly twenty years ago and it will see me out. Makes no noise and hardly moves. It’s just two end pieces (with two legs each) and two sides forming a rectangle frame with two bolts at each corner, for the fairly thin base to sit on, and a mattress on that.
      Link below so you can see what sort of thing I mean. I am sure you could search for “iron beds in [state]” or something.

    2. Generic Name*

      I have a wooden, mission style bed from Kincaid. It’s solid wood and seems very sturdy. No squeaks or creaks when I move around.

    3. Flash Packet*

      I got a simple metal frame from Amazon that is sturdy, quiet, and relatively inexpensive: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B071CLZ9LV/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1

      I got the 14-inch and it’s tall enough to store things under but still low enough for my Tempurpedic mattress and the wood box it sits on. As in, low enough that I don’t need a step stool to get into bed. :-)

      I’ve had it for two years and it still doesn’t make a sound when I flop into bed.

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      I made my own platform bed from 4x4s, 2x4s and plywood. Sanded and stained and sealed. Tall and sturdy and silent.

    5. Allie*

      I have a Thuma bed frame and it has been great (a bit lower to the floor than I was used to, but now I don’t even notice it). It was very easy to assemble and I think it will hold up well in future moves.

      1. saddesklunch*

        Seconding the recommendation for Thuma. Super easy to put together and silent.

    6. Grits McGee*

      I have a TARVA solid wood bed frame from Ikea that is noiseless and seems sturdy. (I’m not jumping on the bed, but it’s survived 10 years and 2 moves with no issues.)

    7. Westsidestory*

      Cast iron fan here. They hold their value and are indestructible if you can find one secondhand they are a deal.. In the US/North America the place to check out is Charles P Rogers. The one I bought over 30 years ago for my Manhattan apartment is now the “spare” bed. The larger one we use now is an elegantly heavy modern style in a tropical wood.also from Charles P.

  8. MistOrMister*

    What long running book series have readers started out loving and then realized they couldn’t really stand it anymore and what turned you off? Mine are the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich and the Jill Gooder “witch is where…” books by Adele Abbot. In both cases the main character starts off as pretty immature and 20+ or 40+ books in is still incredibly immature. The lack of character growth is unrealistic and it just really brings down the story lines after a while. And in the Adele Abbot books, Jill starts off as hugely gullible and remains that way. It seems like in every book she makes some huge mistake that anyone should have been able to avoid.
    That being said, the books are not poorly written, at least.

    1. Pam Adams*

      Donna Andrews’ bird-titled books. How many books did she live through and not figure out that her family weren’t suspects.

      1. MistOrMister*

        Now I’ve got to read one or two of these so ai can experience this firsthand…

      2. GoryDetails*

        Heh! I actually love Andrews’ books – and yes, after a while she not only stopped suspecting family members but began building an empire of extended friends-and-family to thwart crime and promote good deeds in her community. By the most recent books, it seems that she can summon aid from most of the local government as well as her family – and while it does get a bit same-y at times I still enjoy the books.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter by Laurel K Hamilton

      Character starts off novel 1 saying she doesn’t date vampires, she kills them but pretty soon she starts dating one and then she starts having sex with entire harems of vampires and were-creatures. The character transforms but also the later books are filled with soft core porn that eventually pushes out the paranormal mystery that the initial books were about.

      My unflattering opinion is that lonely housewives got titillated by a woman fucking both the sexy vampire and the hot werewolf, and Laurel k Hamilton catered to them for the money not caring that her books became boring. But there’s better and more explicit erotica and romance with sex all over the internet in fanfic without the restrictions that bind traditionally published novels. So those books aren’t even the best source for well-done sexy writing.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I read one Laurel K. Hamilton book years ago and could not understand the allure at all. Maybe I had grabbed one of those later books!

          1. UKDancer*

            Also what is her thing with all the men having hair down to their feet? (I might be exaggerating slightly). Doesn’t she get how impractical that would be? It also got rather dull rather fast. I agree the romance scenes were very long and got rather dull. So I also gave up early on because they weren’t interesting and Anita got quite irritating.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Right? I have mid-thigh length hair and I cannot leave it out of a bun without shutting it in a door or sitting on it or someone else sitting on it, and oh god picking the hair out of places after just SLEEPING for a night, let alone the kind of acrobatic nonsense she’s writing.

              1. Hotdog not dog*

                When my hair was that long I couldn’t wear it in a bun, it was way too heavy. I used to braid it and then tuck the end of the braid into my waistband to keep it out of the way. Fictional characters whose long flowing locks are never an impediment confuse me.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  This is a real pet peeve of mine with action heroines. Let her put her hair up!

                  Something Captain Marvel got right.

      2. Bazza7*

        I used to read these, until one book had a foreplay scene that went on for like 10 pages, just stupid.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I kept reading them for a long time, glutton for punishment or something. At one point I texted my bestie something like “200 pages in and no porn!” And then there was a like 40 page scene that was literal tentacle porn and that was when I finally noped out. :-P

      3. Sister Michael*

        Oh, I remember really liking the first few and then the soft core porn/Mary Sue’ es got to be too much.

      4. E. Chauvelin*

        Anita Blake is why I have a rule that I don’t buy more than one book at a time when I start a series. And I only ever read the first Anita Blake book; I just didn’t really care for the writing style in the first place. But everybody else seemed to be reading it and talking about it at one point in my life so after things took A Turn I heard so much about it that it still managed to inspire a personal rule.

        I’m not sure I want to name the series because neither it nor the author are anywhere near as popular as LKH and it feels a bit like punching down for a librarian to criticize them, and most people have probably never heard of them anyway. And actually, none of the individual series went over five books, but it seemed to have happened to the author’s entire body of work. Her first few historical romances felt genuinely daring and dealt with types of characters that, while historically believable, were nontraditional types to be the main characters in regencies. But around the same time that 50 Shades of Grey came out, she went from traditional publishing to self publishing, and after that it seemed like the conflict in every book wound up involving how the man was into BDSM and he couldn’t bring himself to inflict himself on the woman but there was never even anything particularly kinky about the sex scenes and it felt like a marketing gimmick.

      5. MEH Squared*

        It’s funny. I tried to read the first book because I love all things vampire. I just could not get into the series no matter how hard I tried. Something about her writing just did not mesh with me.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I’m not a fiction reader but I got hooked on two mystery series by Anne Perry: the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series and the Hester and William Monk series. For a number of years they fascinated me. But they got old, tired and boring and I just stopped. A real shame. I was especially taken with Hester. But once she married Monk it seemed downhill.

      1. MMB*

        Same. And the incongruencies in the Monk series really started to annoy me, by the time I got to Blind Justice, I was so annoyed and bored I couldn’t even finish it

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Ooh, I think it was the Pitt series that got really boring for me. I can handle grimness; I read Dickens for fun. But the excessively dreary catalogue of grimness surrounding every character and setting just got to be ridiculous! I get it already! They were miserable!

    4. Bazza7*

      Agree with you on the Stephanie Plum series, choose a guy already! And Scarpetta – Patricia Cornwell, started off scary, when you finished them you’d be looking over your shoulder, but then they got silly and I went to re-read this series and all I read was about Scarpetta, every guy is attracted to me, I just can’t help it, just ridiculous.

      1. MistOrMister*

        How many times is Stephanie going to tell us how Ranger isn’t relationship material and then randomly fall into bed with him?? While still being in a relationship with Morelli!! It makes no sense! Pick a guy or move on for crying out loud. The antics of Lula and Grandma Mazur are what keeps me from being able to walk away.

        Re Patricia Cornwell, you have to wonder what happened there. How do you go from creepy/scary to absurd in one series??

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah I got fed up with Stephanie Plum for the same reason. I mean I can’t believe the guys are still waiting around for her while she can’t decide what she wants. I gave up on the books after about number 10 because I got bored.

      2. Lizabeth*

        Agree about the Plum novels but I love, love, love the audio books for car trips because of the narrator. Especially the one with The New Jersey Devil, the Pine Barrens and Carl the Monkey flipping the bird.

      3. WellRed*

        I used to love Cornwell but at some point it seemed like she got sick of Kay, it was Scarpetta this, Scarpetta that. Marino became a gross caricature and the niece was some sort of wealthy superhero? I’m on the fence about Stephanie Plum. I still laugh but I agree with other’s incredulity. They are no longer a must read.

      4. Lcsa99*

        I agree with the Scarpetta books. As soon as she brought a character back to life I just couldn’t.

      5. SofiaDeo*

        What killed Patricia Cornwell for me, is that people “tuck” things waaaaay too much, even things that aren’t tuckable. I stopped purchasing after 1 book tucked 3 times within the first 3 pages, I am not making this up. Someone get this woman a thesaurus.

        Sue Grafton’s Kinsey lost me about the letter H, with her almost orgasm-ing over eating a Big Mac. Plus I started to find her physical abilities hard to believe, given her extremely crappy diet.

        1. allathian*

          The paranoia in the Scarpetta novels made me lose interest. It’s not like every crook would be after her. I grant that misogyny in the workplace is a real problem, but when the author started blaming every problem Scarpetta ever had on the inability of men to accept a woman in a position of authority, it got old really fast.

          I got to the last book in the Alphabet series, Y is for Yesterday, before giving up halfway through the book. But the quality of the writing had dropped a lot in the last 5 or so books.

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          Grafton seemed to have the idea that if you run three miles a day, as Kinsey does, that you can eat anything you want to and stay skinny. As a longtime middle-distance runner, I can tell you this is not true, but a lot of non-runners sure think it is.

    5. Loves libraries*

      Robert Jordan wheel of time series. I started reading as a teen into epic fantasy but by the third book I was done! I kept telling my best friend who was also reading them “they keep repeating, he’s never going to finish this series”… It took a long time to be proven right (and of course they were finished by another author) but that was a good prediction and I do not regret stopping reading!

      1. jtr*

        Honestly, I think Sanderson taking over the series was the best thing that happened to it! (Not that Jordan died!) He tightened things up significantly, IMO.

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

        I started reading them in college while Jordan was still alive. I made it to book seven I think before I was just fed up, and tired of waiting for each new book…have the epic final battle you keep building up to already! What did the series get up to, 13 books…14? Is it still going?

      3. The OG Sleepless*

        I made it to, I think book 9 or 10. I loved that series so much at first, and I’m not usually much of a fantasy reader. But I swear, in the last book I read, absolutely nothing happened.

      4. Workerbee*

        I stuck through to the end of that series simply because I’d invested so much time in it, and just wanted to know how it would wrap up. I then ditched my collection because I didn’t think I’d ever want to read it again. I always remembered that the first book was my favorite of the bunch, but most of the rest got progressively irritating. And I got so tired of:
        -Jordan’s punishment kink (or so I eventually deemed it).
        -The constant description of embroidered hems.
        -The constant swishings of said hems, sniffings (again from the women), and other gender-specific mannerisms.
        -The constant misunderstandings of everything anyone said, like I was watching a 1990s sitcom.

        And probably a lot more I’ve buried.

        Then I saw the first season of the TV series, and I was rehooked – but really, I suspect, for the way they are doing the series. The showrunners, thank goodness, removed the above issues. It drove me back to reread book 1, this time as an ebook borrowed from the library, and either the first book didn’t have those things in it or my memory is terribly poor, but it felt like some editing had gone on to remove the more troubling (to me) features. Only I couldn’t find anything to that note online. I haven’t yet gone to my used bookstore to leaf through whatever copies they have.

        Anyway, I don’t know if I’d go back to invest in the entire series cash-wise, I’d just do it over library lends if that.

        1. Emily Elizabeth*

          Ooh, I didn’t know there was a TV series! I also gave up fairly early…I think after book 4? But thoroughly enjoyed the first two.

    6. Swisa*

      Harry Potter, due to JK Rowling’s transphobia. I used to love them, they were my comfort go to, read them all many times. Once I learned about JK, I tried for awhile to keep reading, but it just wasn’t enjoyable anymore.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I liked Harry Potter up through the 4th book. Books 5-7…thanks, but no thanks. I didn’t care for how dark the stories got. The constant adding of information and tweaking what we know of the characters for years and years after the series ended was really annoying to me. Could she not write a non-HP book?! And yes, once the transphobia came out, I nope myself right on out of the Harry Potterverse.

        1. Despachito*

          Same here. I think I ended th 4th or 5th book of HP, and then stopped liking it. Same with the films. And that had nothing to do with JKR as a person, it was rather what you describe as the constant adding of information and tweaking the previous knowledge, And I couldn’t get over the first pages of Cuckoo’s Calling, it was too boring for me.

          1. Pharmgirl*

            I actually quite liked Cuckoo’s Calling, but didn’t much care for the second one and really disliked the third one. I’ve had no desire to continue that series since.

        2. CTT*

          Yeah, even as a teenager I remember getting to book 6 and thinking “wow, she could use an editor who’s not scared to tell her these are getting long-winded.” Book 6 is also wen she gave an interview to some big fansite in which she and the interviewers gleefully made fun of people who shipped Harry/Hermione, which was a real preview of how much she would come to enjoy unprovoked punching down!

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            I started laughing at the books because her habit of killing off Harry’s support adults was getting so ridiculous. And the books are ickily classist. While characters like Hermione defend Muggles, everyone else treats them like slow children, and Rowling herself writes them as stupid or evil. So the series is basically How to Be a Snob.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              She made me regret a tattoo and I will never forgive her for that, as well as her stupid transphobic bullshit. If I ever end up on a panel with her (or Mercedes Lackey), I will withdraw immediately.

              I still haven’t decided what to do with them yet but the movies were enjoyable and contained actors I love. So I might dump the books and keep the movies.

          2. Westsidestory*

            That was the problem. She became a cash cow and they stopped letting editors edit her. The later books could have been cut by a third.

            See also: Anne Rice

            1. Elizabeth West*

              If I ever became a cash cow, I would BEG for editors. Being edited makes your books better!

        3. Grits McGee*

          Interesting, that’s exactly where my enthusiasm dropped off too! I always thought that maybe it was a matter of JKR not being particularly good at writing from the perspective of older teens, or it may have been that I got fed up with protagonists making really dumb choices over and over again. It also felt like her creativity was petering out a little bit- the whole “Doctors are nutters who cut people up, we have …*healers*” thing was pretty eye roll-y, considering Hogwarts has a nurse.

    7. jtr*

      Agree on Stephanie Plum – they used to at least make me laugh out loud multiple times while reading; I’m not even sure what number she’s up to now…

    8. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      I’m probably among the few that detest George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I purchased a set of five (I think) some years ago because people were raving about it. First book was hard to get through, but I kept at it in the hopes it would get better. Nope. I was done midway through the third and gave the whote set away. I could not stomach the misogyny and the gratuitous violence. This was before the TV series, which I never bothered to watch.

      1. sswj*

        I couldn’t get through the 1st chapter of GOT. Seriously off-putting. Detested what little I saw of the TV series.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, I picked it up at the library to leaf through, put it down and backed away. Gahh.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I read the first GoT and liked it. Did some skimming in the second. Half the third was skimming, and I just read plot synapses off Wikipedia for the last ones.
        • I wanted to know what happened to the characters, but not to invest thousands of pages in that.
        • After a while it just felt sadistic to the characters.
        • Way too many people seemed to die but then turned up again 500 pages later, completely undoing any lingering “Wow” from Ned’s death.

        I like stories to end–a good ending is a way satisfying fiction is different from real life. Especially epic stories. While I hope my detective series retire with grace before I get annoyed with them (Castle missed), if you’re saving the world, it’s not believable for the world to be right back in danger in the next book.

        1. Jackalope*

          This is why I’ve come to enjoy series that have different characters that take the lead. I have one series that I love – 12 Houses by Sharon Shinn – that has 5 books in which someone different is the main character but they’re all from a specific group of friends. The first 4 books are leading to a conclusion but it’s less stressful for each character (although they’re all involved). The 5th book is about a character who feels like she was tried and failed in the Dramatic Final Confrontation, and it shows her figuring out how to pick up the pieces and move on; the last book has some dramatic moments but isn’t Saving the World. (I believe the same author does this with her Elemental Blessings series too.) Much easier to stay involved than just repeatedly saving the world.

      3. MEH Squared*

        I could not get through the first chapter of the first book because of the purple prose. I read it aloud to a friend and we both were cracking up at the descriptions.

      4. Flash Packet*

        I read them but not every word. He’d start waxing poetic (or, rather, droning on and on) about the embroidery detail on a dress or every single dish in every single meal and I’d start flipping pages looking for dialogue.

    9. Jackalope*

      So my first series in this vein is the Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara. I read the first book and it was rough in places, but in the way first novels can be (note that I’m not sure if this was indeed the author’s first novel). However I enjoyed the world-building (I’m a huge fantasy nerd in part because I love world-building so much!) and the main character was kind of fun.

      Fast forward a few novels and the rough bits hadn’t improved. Plus the main character wasn’t growing up. She began the novel as a mouthy, impertinent kid (quickly aging into young adult). Throughout the series she is constantly being reprimanded for being rude and overly direct, but she just… never learns, and keeps doing it. And she meets older characters and is told that she must REALLY MAKE SURE not to be rude and she is anyway and they just keep finding it cute and charming or endearing. And I got so annoyed with it. I’m all for speaking truth to power, but there’s being honest & saying the difficult truths out loud, and then there’s being rude and obnoxious. Eventually it’s just not cute or endearing any more.

      My other issue was that the author apparently hated loud noise. Just about every time the main character talked (and since the author had decided that her regular flaw was being mouthy, as I said above, she talked a lot), at some point in the conversation (maybe multiple points) the author would add the adverb “softly”. As in, “‘I think I’d better head out,’ Kaylin said softly.” This might not seem like a big deal, but once I noticed I could not un-notice. I finally stopped in the middle of a book (maybe the 6th or so?) when I went back and counted. In 5 pages the author had used the phrase “Kaylin/She said softly” SIX times. The word “quietly” was also used 2-3 times in those same five pages. Y’all, all of the books were like that! Why??? So I dropped it and have never gone back.

      1. Jackalope*

        The Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey was also like that. When I was younger I loved her works and they were exactly what I needed. And then at some point in time the fairy gold all turned to withered leaves. It started with not being able to read her new books, which felt like new character names pasted onto already used plots. She always wrote with a purpose, to get certain ideas across, but her older stuff had fun characters and plot too. The newer stuff felt like it was trying to push a social agenda (which in many ways I agreed with, but it was still annoying to read a book for fun that was trying to be so didactic).

        Then somehow eventually I went back to her old stuff, and that didn’t work either. It just didn’t. I was sad (and I still think about the characters sometimes as I imagined them inside my head), but I couldn’t go back.

        And then mid-2021 I saw a new Valdemar book at the library and decided to check it out and give it a go to see if I was able to dive back in. Readers, I tried. I really did. But I just couldn’t stay interested, and finally gave up.

      2. OtterB*

        Disagreeing on Chronicles of Elantra. I still really enjoy these. Kaylin did grow up, though it took a while. Not to say you’re wrong- if it didn’t work for you, it didn’t work-but an alternate view if anyone thinks about picking these up.

    10. AcademiaNut*

      There are a couple of authors that I used to really like and then gave up on completely. Mercedes Lackey – both the Valdemar books and the Elemental Mages. I still like the early ones, but the quality of writing just got poorer and poorer. Same with David Weber and the Honor Harrington books, where the plots kept getting bigger and bigger, the bad guys badder and badder, and the descriptions of technology more and more lengthy (plus – the guy has a serious thing for empires, where the good guys are always monarchies, and the bad guys corrupt democracies).

      The Wheel of Time I eventually gave up on, as the series seemed to spin its wheels, and the female characters all annoyed me. The last few McCaffrey-only Pern books were disappointing, and I can’t stand the continuations by her kids.

      Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s might be getting that way – the last few books have sort of been spinning their wheels plot wise, and I really, really want the main character and her love interest to get some intensive therapy, so they don’t keep hashing out the same issues over 15 books and decades of relationship. The spinoff series I’ve never been able to get into.

      On the other end of things, I’m 15 books into Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, and still enthusiastically anticipating the next book, and I have not yet brought myself to read the last Discworld novel.

      1. Amey*

        I adore Jodi Taylor but also felt St Mary’s was spinning it’s wheels a bit, in recent books. But then she’ll write one which manages to totally suck me in – I loved the one before the most recent one although I felt the ending let it down a bit. I have to say though that I hesitated over the Time Police series but once I got into the first book, I absolutely love them and think they feel fresher than St Mary’s at this point. So it’s worth giving them another try! I didn’t think the third was as good as the first two but I’m excited for the fourth.

        Kind of agree re therapy, although (**spoiler alert**) I was Team Max and Peterson and that might colour my judgment :)

      2. UKDancer*

        I love the early Mercedes Lackey especially the Diana Tregarde series and a fantastic novel called Sacred Ground about a First Nations shaman. Somehow partway through Valdemar the books got longer and weightier and less well written so I gave up. I still re-read the earlier ones because they’re brilliant but I think she kind of ran out of good ideas and the later ones show it.

      3. Smol Book Wizard*

        I also loved the October Daye series. I got about uh… 8 books in? I don’t rule out returning to them, they’re very good at avoiding my pet peeves in urban fantasy. They were a great mix of exciting but not TOO dreadful for the time I was reading them.

      4. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree with you on Pern. AMC could’ve done with an editor who was brave enough to point out the most obvious “Anne-consistencies” (a fandom term for the inconsistencies in her writing) in the later books. I have absolutely no wish to read any of the books written by her children, although I’ve read some great fanfic. That said, the Pern books have aged rather badly in some respects. Granted, she was a woman writing sci-fi under her own name in an era when most female sci-fi authors used either a masculine pseudonym or initials to hide their gender. She wrote the first short story, Weyr Search (incorporated into Dragonflight) in 1967, at a time when there were practically no gay characters in sci-fi (she was adamant that Pern was sci-fi rather than fantasy, even if the science wasn’t particularly rigorous), her views on gender and gender relations seem very outdated today, even given that the world she described was a quasi-medieval one where most women’s roles were reduced to little more than motherhood. I used to love her writing, faults and all, but now…

    11. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I used to be an avid reader of the Kathy Reichs thrillers featuring Tempe Brennan. I found them right when I was starting to watch forensics TV series (think early CSI Las Vegas), so they lined up with my main fictional interest at the time. I read and enjoyed several over a few summer holidays, then came across Monday Mourning, which I ended up finding very disturbing. It put me off continuing the series.

      In hindsight, I was probably younger than most expect a serial thriller reader to be (credits to my mildly overbearing mother for never trying to ban books or TV from our home, I was always free to engage with whatever I felt ready for). Trigger warnings were not a thing back then, but I learnt a lesson on what sort of themes cross my personal boundary between genre-appropriate creepy and downright disturbing, and so I know which ones to pay attention to when I see them now. Case in point: there’s a Nordic thriller I keep hearing great things about (The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund), and every time I consider picking it up at the library, my brain helpfully reminds me that I have also read the many trigger warnings several reviews attach to it, some of which are my big nopes.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I respected Kathy Reichs’ subject matter expertise, and I liked Tempe’s character a lot more in the books than I did in the show, but the writing was just too overwrought for me. “This is EVIL! This person was the WORST PERSON EVER! Tempe and the others are about to have a REALLY SCARY EXPERIENCE!” ok, I get it.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      The Jane Jeffry cozy mysteries. Jane started off as a recent widow, living off her dead husband’s share of the family business–it let her be “just a middle-class housewife” and “just a mom” without any other adult household member to weigh in. (Her best friend’s husband is allegedly alive but offscreen throughout the series, a running joke.) By the end of the series I was re-considering her hubby’s EXTREMELY convenient death in a car accident just as he drove off to leave her for a younger woman.

      The last few books were creaky, but the finale was just bad. The entire “mystery” took place off-screen; there was an extended bit about the aggressive parking enforcement near the murder site that seemed ripe to offer up a murderer-with-a-parking-ticket clue, but instead just built to the time Jane put a bunch of quarters in a meter as a civil service; she found a whole new way to be a bridezilla (“I don’t care about this stuff, so it shall be EXACTLY as I decree, even unto the date of the wedding moving around only weeks out”) and my expected fun wedding reunion of characters from some of the past books in the series never materialized–Jane ends with still just the one friend, looking down on everyone else.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      The China Bayles mysteries, for the increasing supernatural psychic element. I found it completely unbelievable even in a fictional context, and increasingly just annoying.

      In the last one I read–trust me that this gives nothing away spoilerwise–Ruby had a psychic vision that at some point in time, China would encounter a door. BUT she should NOT go through the door. I could make that psychic prediction for everyone here–I don’t know when you’ll encounter this door, and whether it’s physical or metaphorical, but in hindsight you’ll realize you should have listened to me and not gone through a door that one time.

      One book was half about the hurricane that nearly wiped out Galveston, and that would have been great as a standalone historical novel with no supernatural elements. But not as an angry-ghosts-cause-modern-trouble cozy mystery novel.

        1. MistOrMister*

          Ha!! I didn’t really expect it to get any traction, but I’m glad it did. I’ve got some new books to look at now.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I still love the Donna Andrews bird mysteries mentioned upthread. An all-time favorite, I buy the hard covers when they come out and reread, which not all mysteries work for.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I didn’t mind her as kooky sidekick–hey, foreshadowing via vague predictions that only make sense in hindsight are a fictional trope. I can roll with it if it’s a minor decorative element. But as it became more and more central I felt like someone was trying to convince me that ghosts and such are real–look how much stuff they did in this fictional story!!!–and completely missing as a rolled my eyes and shook my head.

    14. Professional Merchandiser*

      Agree with all the comments about Stephanie Plum, but I have read all of them. I just know I have to space them way out or I get bored. I didn’t care for the one audio book I tried; how many times is she going to tell us she put down (or picked up) her messenger bag? I turned it (audio) back in and checked out the print version. Those things aren’t as annoying to me in print. And yes,
      pick a guy already!
      Another one I’ve gotten slightly tired of is Rita Mae Brown’s Sneaky Pie series. I still like the descriptions of the animals and the illustrations in the book, but there again I have to space them out.

      1. Kayem*

        Agreed with the Sneaky Pie series. They get so formulaic that reading them back to back gets boring. When I was a teen, I liked that because I always knew what I was going to get in the book (like the John Saul horror novels). But since then, I’d rather not read the same thing over and over. It’s generally why I stopped reading books that were in a series longer than two or three books. I got tired of the same perils and the same characters doing the same things over and over for the same results. I know there’s series out there not like that, but my reading list is already longer than I’ll be able to finish in my lifetime.

    15. OtterB*

      Interesting thread. I agree with some but disagree with others (I either still like the series or never started it.). It shows the challenge for authors in a continuing series: how much do they stick with what readers like about earlier books (characterization/plot) and how much does the main character change, either by growing up or as a result of their experiences?

      1. UKDancer*

        I like to see some signs of growth. So I like a series by TA White about an unwilling vampire called Aileen because the character has developed. She started as someone who was reluctant to be a vampire and stayed away from the vampire community. Over 4 subsequent books she’s come to understand the community and while she doesn’t like everything they do she has a more mature outlook. This works for me better than someone who is the same in book 1 as in book 5.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        For me, it’s not necessarily about change–just if the book is good and as noted above by Kayem, not too formulaic. I am a huge fan of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series, which stretched over about 41 years, and in which the main characters basically do not change (though Archie stops using regressive racist language after the first couple of years/books, which is certainly an improvement). For me, tuning in to a new adventure with familiar characters is great, as long as the book itself doesn’t bore me.

        1. I'm Done*

          I love Nero and Archie. I think Rex Stout did a really good job with giving these characters believable personalities and while they were consistent, they weren’t always predictable. Rereading these books is like visiting old friends. As an aside, Timothy Hutton did an outstanding job turning some of these books into movies a few years back.

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            Yay, a fellow fan! : ) One thing I love about those books is that they re-read so well. I’m always finding new little things in them I hadn’t noticed before. Stout was a great craftsman. And thank you for the Timothy Hutton recommendation.

          2. Bunny Watson Too*

            One of the few long series that I didn’t tire of after the first 5 or 6 books. Robert Goldsborough did an excellent job continuing the series, too.

    16. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      The Hannah Swensen mysteries by Joanne Fluke. They may have an actual series name, I don’t know. The main character (Hannah) runs a bakery in small town Minnesota and inevitably gets involved in a murder investigation after the victim is found next to one of her baked goods. Recipes are included. The first few books were light and cozy. Of course there is a love triangle involved. But the more I read the more all the plots sounded the same, she kept vacillating between the two guys for the same reasons, there was an unnecessary amount of focus on Hannah’s red hair and weight and how that was a *problem,* and it was no longer apparent how this town was populated anymore with so many people murdered or imprisoned. I know the series kept going past the last book I read, but I couldn’t take it after book 10 or so.

    17. MEH Squared*

      I have a theory that series should end at seven (ten at the most) because authors feel hamstrung after that point to duplicate their earlier books. I liked the first ten or so books of Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. I was reading only for completion by O.

      I also really loved Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone, but it jumped the shark hard when she basically married into money (and had been declining several books prior).

      I liked Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware for about eight books before it went off the rails. So, yeah. 7 – 10 books seems optimal to me.

      1. WellRed*

        I still like the Alex Delaware though they aren’t as good. Faye Kellermans Lazarus and Decker series went completely off the rails when she moved them to New York. I’m not sure she’s even doing the writing anymore.

        1. MEH Squared*

          I liked the first few Faye Kellerman books, but they didn’t really grab me. I think I only read them because I discovered that she was the wife of Jonathan and was intrigued. They’re well-written, but not as interesting to me. I really liked that Alex Delaware was a psychologist.

      2. OtterB*

        I still like the JD Robb In Death books even though they are up to 50 something now. I thought they got weaker a few books in but then strengthened up again. There is growth in Dallas and the other main characters and the plots occasionally get a little repetitive but not badly.

        1. Grey Panther*

          Agreed, OtterB. Part of the pleasure in reading this series is seeing how recurring characters change and grow.

    18. Flash Packet*

      Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake books. They started out as fantasy / vampire / murder mystery with a touch of sexytimes and slowly became hard-core erotica. Not dissing erotica but it’s just not for me and it’s not how the book series started out.

      When I found myself flipping past pages and pages of sex scenes to get to the plot, I knew it was time to give up the series.

      Oh, and also when I didn’t flip fast enough and inadvertently learned the anatomical term for a part of the male anatomy that I for real didn’t need to know. I had one of those “My eyes! My eyes!” moments. :-D

    19. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Seconding the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum books. I found the first several mostly laugh-out-loud funny (though the portrayal of Lula is really problematic, IMO), but they palled for me when I realized the series was really an endless will-they-won’t-they tease. Also, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone mysteries–totally loved the first three, but the later ones stopped giving me joy. I also enjoyed the earlier books in Walter Moseley’s Easy Rawlins mysteries and Valerie Wilson Wesley’s Tamara Hayle mysteries more than the later ones (The first Tamara Hayle mystery, *When Death Comes Stealing*, is brilliant, though.) That said, when faced with a long plane flight, I’d probably still consider buying something from any of those authors/series. I just wouldn’t expect as much as from the earlier books.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      This is kind of old, but I loved the Earth’s Children series by Jean Auel all the way up until the last one, The Land of Painted Caves. The rest were okay—Mammoth Hunters is probably my favorite—but that last one was rough going. It desperately needed an edit it obviously didn’t get. When I reread the series, I stop at Shelters of Stone.

      1. Water Everywhere*

        That series had so much potential and instead went with so much problems. I actually loved all the descriptions of landscape & daily life, and loved Ayla herself except for her one big blind spot. Mild Spoilers: In Mammoth Hunters, Ayla should have said “bye bitch” when Jonlongdong threw his hissy fit and left, and stayed on her own very interesting journey with that group; much better story path imo. I read the next two books hoping she’d come to her senses and then gave up.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I agree; that’s probably what she should have done. Ayla had to do all the emotional labor for Jondalar (I love your nickname, hahaha) and that made me roll my eyes. Also, she was a bit of a Mary Sue, what with all her inventions and innovations and being the most beautiful woman in camp whom all the men wanted to mate with. Although I understood that Auel wanted to show the development of certain items in context, Ayla almost seemed superhuman after a while, and that made her a bit boring.

          But yes, I also loved the setting and all the details. That’s probably what made me stick with the series the whole way.


          If she had separated them, she could have made everything Jondalar went through happen on a journey of his own and surprised everyone by having him come back a changed man and a better match for Ayla. Sadly, he didn’t grow at all through the entire thing. His asinine behavior kept her final choice from being all that difficult or life-changing and robbed it of its emotional punch.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, the books got a bit repetitive after Mammoth Hunters. They find new people who are initially very suspicious because they travel with horses and a wolf, but Ayla soon wins them over by learning their language very quickly and saving someone with her skills as a medic. There’s some trouble between Ayla and Jondalar that separates them for a while but they end up together again…

    21. Paddy O'Furniture*

      I think this happens with pretty much everything. When you first discover a new to you author, their writing seems new and refreshing, but over time you get used to it and it loses its novelty. Aside from this, most novels need to stand on their own, even if they are part of a series, so the author will have to repeat things for the benefit of new readers, but then it bores the people who’ve already read the earlier books in the series.

      I really loved the first few novels by Margaret Coel in the Wind River Mystery series, but after the 5th book or so in ther series, I grew bored with the unrequited love between American Indian lawyer Vickie Holden and Catholic priest, Father O’Malley. I can’t believe that she milked 20 novels in total with the characters.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Wow, this is a series I haven’t thought of in a while! Like you, I loved the first several books and then just….stopped caring about any of the characters. Not even sure why. Such a pity.

    22. Tea and Symathy*

      This is so bizarre. I was thinking about this topic this week and had planned to ask the exact same question.

      I was thinking about it because I used to love Martha Grimes and I read all her books then published several years ago. Last week I picked up a recent one. It was a disappointment. It was like when you go to a concert of someone who was big in the 60s or 70s. You know the voice isn’t the same anymore, but you just want to see the person and experience the nostalgia, and they know that. I felt like I was just supposed to be happy to revisit these characters, and not expect much else. If you didn’t already know the Martha Grime characters, their relationships, their history, I can’t imagine this book would make any sense. At one point the detective calls another character and tells him to go to Africa, with no explanation of the relationship between the two, to explain why he would be willing to drop everything and go. And the coincidences (plural) were ridiculous. Like someone steals a boarding pass from a random passenger and just happens to have a passport with that name on it.

      Sorry for the long rant, but it was such lazy writing and I used to love Martha Grimes. I wonder if she isn’t writing her books anymore.

      My other example was going to be Patricia Cornwall, but others have already covered her. I agree with all the comments, but will add that I hated the way she turned Marino into such a pathetic, depressed character, pining away for Kay. I had to stop reading her.

      On the other hand, I have recently been reading Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series and appreciate that the writing and characters remain consistently strong.

      1. jtr*

        The Pub ones? I hadn’t realized she had written anything in a looooong time. It sounds like I shouldn’t look for it, though…

    23. I take tea*

      I used to like Elisabeth George’s Detective Lynely series, but after a while I started to get annoyed with the detailed descriptions of physical decay of the grieving persons – even though it was pretty realistic, it was just to detailed. I kept reading until she *SPOILER* kills off one of the main charachters just to add to the Man Pain of Lynely, or at least it felt like that. I shut the book there and then and haven’t been back.

      1. UKDancer*

        Elizabeth George badly needs an editor I think because her books go on too long nowadays. She could also use someone to Britpick her books I think because it’s really obvious that she’s American and doesn’t always get things especially diversity and class issues in the UK quite right and people live in parts of London that wouldn’t work for their socio-economic background. I do wonder if she’s ever met any Black British people from the way she writes them.

        I agree also way too much time spent on Lynley’s manpain lately.

        1. Morning reader*

          I just finished one of these and didn’t realize it was a series. I wouldn’t have known she wasn’t British as there were so many “British” references. What is a fizzy water, anyway? I listened to the book and there seemed to be too many similarly named characters. A detective named “ncarter” it sounded like, and a suspect named Carter. At least two characters named Finley or Linley or Finny, one perhaps the brother of the other?

          1. UKDancer*

            Fizzy water is carbonated mineral water. I’d usually say “sparkling water” if I were ordering it in a restaurant. Fizzy water is more the sort of thing a child would say in my opinion. Actually I’d probably order it by brand (San Pellegrino or Perrier being the most usual in restaurants I think).

            The detective’s name is Nkata and he’s supposed to be Black. I think Nigerian or Ghanaian but I can’t remember. I don’t think she’s awfully good at writing BAME characters as they usually sound like a terrible stereotype and several years out of date to me.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I loved the earlier books in the series (though I did side-eye her depiction of POCs), especially Barbara Havers because she was so different than Lynley (though I found the contrast to border on classist at times), but at some point, maybe ten books in, I just lost interest because the prose was turgid.

    24. Liane*

      1. I stopped reading Piers Anthony’s Santa years ago mainly because they stopped being amusing. Contrary to my husband’s and best friend’s belief, there’s a limit to the number of puns can be made on one thing. Also, I think the number of characters who had parents of different fantasy species who then went on to have a kid with someone who was a hybrid of 2 other fantasy races….just got to my Zoology degree. I feel kind of bad about it because I have met the guy and he seemed cool.
      2. I stopped reading Lackey’s Valdemar, for pretty much the same reasons as several other posters. I still read the 500 Kingdoms and Elemental Masters books. However, I am done, I think, with the Sherlock EM spinoff series; it is darker than I usually like.
      3. The Star Wars High Republic series. I was really looking forward to it but the first one was only okay. I haven’t completely given up on it since I just discovered some are available free with Amazon Prime Reading

      (Elizabeth West, if you’re still reading and are willing to say, why would you not want to be on a panel with Ms. Lackey?)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        She got kicked out of this year’s Nebulas for saying something racist and doubling down when called out on it. Which, from what I was seeing on Twitter, is not a new issue with her.

    25. Mephyle*

      Hunger Games. I enjoyed the first one considerably, got through the second one, and left off reading the third one halfway through. Never finished it, didn’t care how it turned out. Haven’t watched the movies.

    26. CTT*

      I’m not quite at the “can’t stand it anymore” level, but I do not like the style of writing in the Slow Horses/Slough House books and there are too many twists with no backing to them, AND YET, I just checked out another one.

      1. Mephyle*

        Curiously (since I posted mine just above), Slough House books are my current read, and I do enjoy the style and the twists!

        I hear the series is very good, but there is so much wry, ironic and darkly humourous narration and wordplay that couldn’t be rendered in film, so there’s a lot more to appreciate in the books.

  9. Expensive Trash Can?*

    In one of the previous weekend threads, a few people talked about an expensive trash can (I think from Simple Human), and how much they loved it, but I don’t think anyone specified which exact model they bought. I’m interested in upgrading our trash can situation and would love to hear from those folks about which specific trashcan you love and why.

    1. HHD*

      We love our simple human recycle bin a lot. It has two well sized sections for separating your rubbish and recycling, is reasonably slimline and it doesn’t need awkwardly sized liners like some do.

    2. mreasy*

      We have a tall round Brabantia in a fun color, and it’s the only one I haven’t absolutely hated the look of. We can use regular bags in it (though it’s narrow), which is a plus. Even the Simple Human I find too…garbage can looking (I know, ridiculous), but the Brabantia is great all around.

      1. pancakes*

        There’s a Branantia one I’m looking at for recycling. We have a little bin from Muji for that now and it’s just not enough. We really need something dual-compartment for recycling, and The Container Store has a dual bin with step to open I’m considering.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      *goes into kitchen, reads trash can*

      So we have a Simple Human rectangular bin that fits in between the pantry and back door, had it for many years now and it really held up, the opening mechanism still works really well. We use normal Hefty trash bags in it–I pull the new bag tight against the bin edge and then the extra fold gets held down when I drop the plastic bin back in the larger metal can. So if needing to remember the special bags makes you hesitate, know that you can get by just fine without the special bags.

      In vaguely horrifying notes, there was one time there was a smell, and it turned out a dying mouse had crawled up from the floor into the mechanism below the can.

    4. kina lillet*

      I have the dual compartment butterfly step can from simplehuman. I added hardware store wheels and a little pull hook—I have a very small kitchen and I needed something to slot in under the counter, and be able to roll out from under the counter. Works really well, and it’s very sturdy.

      1. Bookgarden*

        I think this is the one I have, too, which we got for a studio. We’ve had it for almost ten years and the opening mechanism still works as well as when we got, it even after moving across country with it. We’re finally looking at replacing it due to a logistical issue, not the trash can itself.

      2. Filosofickle*

        Ooh, wheels! That might be just what I need to adapt my old can to my new kitchen…

    5. Chestnut Mare*

      As a warning, we bought a fancy trash can with the hand-wave sensor to open it. Our not-especially-bright dog figured that out in about five seconds.

    6. Double A*

      Ha, that was my thread so I should respond! I have two simple human trash cans, one we use for trash and the other for recycling. I like the trash can better because you can lift the can insert out. It’s the “simplehuman 38-Liter Fingerprint-Proof Brushed Stainless Steel Rectangular Step-On Trash Can” and I bought it from Home Depot.

    7. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Can’t remember the name, but I wanted a large, stylish can with an open top for recycling. Found some gorgeous stainless-steel, half-moon shaped tall cans like you might see at a cafe through a restaurant supply store online.

    8. All Monkeys are French*

      I had one from Joseph Joseph that was amazing. I think it’s called the Totem, though the new ones are slightly different from the one I had. Its not a step-on or automatic, but it’s sturdy and holds a lot of trash and recycling, and even compost if you want, in a small footprint. It was worth every ridiculous penny I paid for it.

    9. pancakes*

      We have the Simple Human Stainless Steel 45-Liter Semi-Round Liner Rim Step Trash Can. It keeps in the smells of anything smelly, and looks pretty much just as good as it did when I bought it. Very sturdy, very happy with it.

    10. CallTheBagelShop*

      I love mine – Simple Human 40L dual compartment butterfly step can. It fits perfectly into my kitchen while holding a lot of trash, and I really wanted one solution for both general trash and recycling.

    11. Expensive Trash Can?*

      Thanks, all! I think we’re going to try the butterfly step with recycler for our kitchen. Appreciate the recommendations!

  10. MistOrMister*

    I cannot get over how adorable the picture of the cat in the window is. I am choosing to believe it’s watching an impromptu dance off of mice doing morris dancing and riverdance.

  11. Person from the Resume*

    Does anyone has suggestions for how to stop checking my phone constantly? It’s a completely unconscious habit. I do use the time limiting app on my phone but I very often password out and extend my time.

    There are 2 problems (1) the unconscious I have a moment/I’m transitioning from 1 task to another / I move and pick up my phone: checking a rechecking FB and IG for new and interesting posts, checking fanfic / AO3 for an update to a story I’m following, checking blogs I follow. None of the fanfic pages or blogs update THAT often. I could save checking for a certain time of the day and not miss anything I wanted to read. And FB and IG are time wasters; I do run a group and find out about a lot of IRL events there so I can’t / don’t want to go cold turkey cut FB of, but I could check once or twice a day and not lose anything. That’s probably the biggest problem.

    The second is sometimes when I craving that brain buzz of an excellent softly romantic shippy fanfic and I don’t have a new story I go back looking through the archives. It eats up time since I never plan to carve out time to reread a favorite fanfic or an old story that I don’t remember but hope will be a forgotten or missed gem. I am almost reading a book but that romantic fanfic hits a different spot.

    But really problem 1 leads to 2. If I could just not open and look at my phone hundreds of times a day I’d have more time and be more productive and very likely be happier. But I keep my phone near me because I’m almost always listening to a podcast or audio book.

    So ideas on how to stop opening and checking my phone for new content all the time? Carrots or sticks?

    1. Aphrodite*

      Get rid of the phone and get a non-smartphone with no texting and no internet. Sounds snarky, but I am serious. I have a flip phone that can only make and receive calls. Never had anything else, never wanted it.

      1. MistOrMister*

        This isn’t always feasible. I would love to go back to pre-smartphone life in some ways. The main thing that stops me is the fact that maps are not as ubiquitous as they used to be. Yes, I can google directions before I leave the house, but if there is an issue while I’m on the road and I don’t have my phone I can’t just pop into a gas station and grab a map anymore. Shoot, I was in the AAA store and they looked at me like I was crazy when I asked did they have a regional map. It blew my mind.

        1. mreasy*

          Yeah, I can’t do this because of maps and work travel. I don’t mind some phone time but too much is a bummer. I have set website limits and app limits on my iPhone, but even those are really easy to get through. It can be a good reminder though! (Also a good way to stop yourself from idly browsing on Petfinder and suddenly you’re getting another cat, not that I’d know about that.)

    2. MistOrMister*

      I’ve found that I have to really just make a conscious effort to not pick up the phone at all except for texts or calls. Otherwise I will grab it all day long mindlessly. It’s hard because you have to be saying to yourself all day long DONT PICK UP THE PHONE, YOU’RE CUTTING BACK!! and it’s so easy to forget. I like to plan to check the news or whatever sites for updates in the evening. That way I can try to force myself to keep the phone down all day but still see what’s going on. If I check in the morning for some reason that makes me want to keep checking all day.
      If possible, can you get multiple devices? I like having an ipod for my music -that way I’m not on the phone and tempted to fall down an internet rabbit hole. Same for using the kindle instead of the kindle app. Maybe you can check FB or IG via computer and try to make a conscious effort to not get on them on your phone. It would potentially make checking all day a lot more hassle and help you cut back.

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Do you have a computer or tablet or not-your-phone place to check social media? I removed FB from my phone to stop myself from checking it too much and it really helped reduce my time on it. I still use it but only on my laptop, which I’m not sitting at all that often.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’m not a heavy smartphone user, and don’t have any social media or email on my phone (I have a google account attached to my phone, which is different than the one I use for actual email). I mostly use it for texting (Messenger and Line), translations, bus schedules, the occasional map, contact tracing/proof of vaccination, the camera, and a flashcard app for language practice. I also turn off almost all notifications, and set do not disturb at nights.

      2. Generic Name*

        Same. I don’t have any social media on my phone at all. It’s improved my quality of life immensely.

      3. EventingForChickens*

        I did the same thing — I can still check social media on my laptop, but having to have the extra step of getting it out and turning it on makes it harder to convulsively check it. A lot of local horse eventing stuff is only posted on FB/IG, so I feel you about not wanting to completely delete them.

    4. Square Root of Minus One*

      The article already has useful things : deleting apps (reserve them for the computer for instance), disabling notifications (or making them silent) etc.
      To that, I would add the general idea to make the phone less convenient to use. Like the password you say you use, I bet you type it super easily without thinking. I would suggest to replace the password by a super long and annoying one to type, long enough so that typing it raises to your conscience and goes “wait, what am doing now?”
      About keeping it close, maybe bluetooth speakers or headphones could allow you to keep it further. I suppose you can make podcast playlists so you don’t have to get it too often.

    5. aleth*

      Not a carrot or stick. I recently started working the 12 steps (in a group for relatives of addicts), and I’ve found I have a lot more self-control when it comes to the constant scrolling. Not for everyone for a variety of reasons but it’s been enormously helpful to me.

    6. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      Yeah, get rid of the time-suck apps on your phone and access the sites via computer. Or, if that’s not possible for whatever reason, move those apps into a folder so they’re not visible. Works for shopping apps too.

    7. Kathleen Jowitt*

      I like the Forest Focus app. You plant a virtual tree and put the phone down. The longer you can go without prodding it, the more interesting your tree gets.

    8. Princess Xena*

      What worked for me: shut the phone off, totally. Find something else for a music/audiobook player. Heck, get an old style MP3 player. But designate blocks of time where your phone is off, period, unless you are doing something through phone that is actively time sensitive.

      I have found that very few things cannot wait 4 hours. Unless I’m job-hunting or have a known family emergency or similar, it can wait.

    9. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Get some of those strong post office rubber bands, and wrap about six of them around your phone, that gives you a minute to remind yourself that accessing your phone is a habit you want to reduce.

      1. Jim Bob*

        I really like this. Simple, and makes it a pain to check the phone while still having it if needed. Thanks.

    10. Fit Farmer*

      It sounds like you don’t “check your phone constantly” but rather, open it up in moments of transition, and then get lost in it. The cigarette advice may apply here: you can’t stop smoking without something else to replace it with! I was going to suggest putting on music to distract/jolt your brain and offer something to occupy it while you complete the transition to the next thing. You mention you already listen to podcasts/books, so that means you’re already easily plugged-in with headphones etc…if you feel like you’re about to do any of those things you mentioned, could you instead tap on the music app and play some music that is more exciting than the talking? That change in music (and brain excitement) may help tide you over without checking for updates on all the things that might have updated. The key here is LOW barrier to entry — not scrolling and searching for the perfect track to play, have a pre-built playlist of exciting/pick-me-up music that you can easily press Play for, or pick a track from that pre-curated list. And as much as you can, do the opposite for the other things — make the barrier to entry higher, by deleting bookmarks, deleting apps or removing them from the home screen, passwords that are long and annoying to type on the phone, etc. Sure, you CAN just type them in…but if there’s an easier, faster option of putting on fun music (or something similar for you, with quick action — like standup comedy, if talking would work better for you than music), you’ll be more likely to pick the simple one.

      If you try this advice or any other, don’t expect it to work 100% of the time, or become an immediate fix to the global issue — if you can notice that it works SOMETIMES, that’s great, you really did find a solution to that particular iteration if the issue, and see if you can focus on those successes and replicate them more often. You don’t have one giant daunting problem to fix, you’ve got, as you say, hundreds of little problems a day! Focus on the little problems you DID find a solution for, rather than on how many times you DIDN’T fix it and got lost in the phone. If you find some things that work for you, eventually, you’ll get better at implementing them more and more of the time.

    11. Pharmgirl*

      Number 1 really resonates with me. Our system at work is slow, and I always reach for my phone during transitions while waiting for something to load. I haven’t really found success yet in staying away from my phone but I might try Forest Focus recommended above.

    12. Let me be dark and twisty*

      My strategy is to not have my phone’s screen easily visible. I will either lay it face down on the table (ringer/flash on) or put it just far enough away from me that I can barely see it with my peripheral vision. It usually works.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Similarly – I put my phone in a different room than the one I’m in. I’m always a little worried that an important call will come through and I’ll miss it, which is why I don’t shut it off completely, but the physical distance makes it easier to resist picking it up just to scroll aimlessly because I’m mildly bored.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I also do another room, but find even placing it under a nearby cushion helps. It disrupts the automatic reach and having to dig under a pillow makes me feel just silly enough to think twice.

    13. Jay*

      I did the opposite of what people here recommend with social media – I stopped using FB on my computer and put a time limit on the app on the my phone. Did the same with solitaire and I need to add IG and TikTok to the list. On days when I have a lot of downtime (sitting in an airport, for example) I override the limit but mostly I follow it if only because I’m kind of horrified to find I’ve been on FB for an hour and it’s only 11:00 AM.

      I don’t get alerts from any apps – only phone calls and texts.

      For a while I tried using the transition times for mindful breathing instead. I would put my phone somewhere I had to get up to get it – on the bookcase behind me instead of on my desk, for example – and then while my computer was connecting to the work network or something was loading I would do the breathing instead of scrolling.

      It helps that I hate reading anything lengthy on my phone so I don’t go down the rabbit hole with Slate or the Atlantic the way I tend to on the computer.

    14. Kayem*

      I like to run the battery down, then it’s stuck on the charger across the room in an inconvenient spot. Since it’s too much of a pain to get over there to check every single thing while it’s charging, it’s easier to ignore. By the time it’s charged, I’ve gotten into a work zone and don’t even want to get it. Though the downside of that is my phone has an annoyingly long battery life, so then I have to find a way to drain it again.

      I also often listen to music at work, on a Bluetooth speaker. I don’t like to use the phone for anything else while listening because I want to keep the screen on with the song playing so I know what I’m listening to if it’s something I haven’t heard before and I like it. So that keeps me from messing with it.

      The other thing I do is I have pretty much all my notifications are turned off, save email and one chat app. No sounds, no top notifications, no little red dots, nada. Do not disturb is perpetually turned on. The ding of a noise is far more likely to trigger me looking at my phone than a visual cue, plus it irritates me. Though I should point out I get maybe two calls a month and I make only half a dozen calls a month at most, so leaving DND on all the time isn’t an issue for me.

      I also sometimes leave my tablet and phone in the bedroom while I’m working. We keep the bedroom closed, which drives the cats nuts. The only thing they want in their lives is to go in there. So unnecessary trips to the bedroom can turn into ten minutes of cat wrangling. I don’t have time to do that while I’m working, so if I stick my phone and tablet in there, then they are stuck there for the rest of the day.

    15. Suprisingly ADHD*

      This may sound silly, but can you delete the facebook and instagram apps from your phone, and only use them on your computer? I find it much easier to avoid the scrolling trap using a plugin on my browser rather than trying not to open the app. Currently I use DistractMeNot, which I can turn on and off at will. When I reflexively check my habitual sites, it instead puts up a message I wrote remining myself I’m breaking the habit. And when I’m not working, I turn the blocker off so I’m free to do what I want.
      For AO3, I don’t actually use their bookmark system. Instead, I use the in-browser bookmark for things I want to reread, or unfinished fics I want to come back to. No more endless scrolling through the fandom tags, I can find my old favorites in my own browser bookmarks!
      To keep your phone further away from you, can you use headphones or a bluetooth speaker? Then you can leave your phone on the charger across the room.

    16. RagingADHD*

      I seem to have 2 modes: on my phone all day, or leave it in the other room and forget where it is.

      If you can park it somewhere and walk away, and never in the same place twice, maybe you could copy my “technique”. Then you have to call yourself to find it, which will eliminate the ability to check it unconsciously.

    17. Esmeralda*

      Turn it off completely and stick it in a drawer. Then go do something that requires attention. Or take a walk or a drive — have a destination at least 20 minutes away, so that you’re away from your phone for close to an hour.

      Do this every day or two do that you get in the habit of being without the phone

      Turn off the phone and put it away whenever you want to focus on something

      You want to make it inconvenient to look at it a lot and also a habit to be without it

    18. pancakes*

      1. Put it down someplace where it’s moderately annoying to reach for – in another room, say, or just settle someplace comfortable for you to be where it’s out of reach. Spend increasing amounts of time there.

      2. Take up a hobby that keeps your hands busy. Puzzles? There are a lot of cool puzzles out right now, inspired by the pandemic I’m sure. If you don’t have a place to work on one where you can just leave it and come back to it, there are roll-up mats that aren’t very expensive and look like a good solution. Assembling miniature models? I bought a little greenhouse kit with working lights and have been gradually putting that together, but there are so many different types of things. Cars, boats, trains, have a look on YouTube and there are probably people building it.

    19. SofiaDeo*

      I don’t allow any notifications except emergency alerts. So I have set times I check/read things, and that’s it,

      1. RG*

        For Ao3: if you have an account, you can subscribe to an author or a story and get updates in your inbox.

    20. AnonAgain*

      There’s a really good book on this, goes through why we do this and a step by step program to get back to a healthy relationship with your smartphone. It’s How to Breakup with Your Phone, by Catherine Price.

    21. MeepMeep02*

      I had the same issue and here is what I did:

      First, I admitted I had a problem and that the phone use was sucking up my time and taking time away from other activities that are more rewarding. I also told myself that changing the constant phone checking habit was something I wanted to do, and thought of multiple reasons why I wanted to do that.

      I then decided to do a total media detox for a month. I set myself a challenge where the only recreational content I was allowed to consume for a month was one book and one book only. (I picked Don Quixote as my one book for that month). I was allowed to read it as much as I wanted, and I was allowed to read it on my phone, but I was not allowed to read anything else for 30 days. I found it extremely illuminating and I noticed that I felt significantly better when I was not constantly bombarded with new Internet content.

      After my detox was over, I came back to the Internet / phone, with the following rules:
      – I removed all the time-suck apps from my phone. For me, it was Reddit and Facebook. Both gone now.
      – I set a blocker on my web browser to block all the time-suck websites (Reddit and Facebook and a few online forums) except on Saturdays. I unblock everything from Friday at sundown until end-of-day Saturday.
      – Disabled all the notifications on my phone except for phone calls and texts.

      I’ve been doing that since January 1 (it was my New Year’s resolution) and I find that it strikes the right balance for me. I hope any of this helps you.

    22. Person from the Resume*

      Ironically just posting this question made to think and stop mindlessly scrolling Saturday morning. Then on Saturday afternoon I did an activity with friends that kept me grabbing my phone to take photos but no scrolling. Also I lost my phone for an hour yesterday and thought we’ll that’s a way to get away from it, but it turned up.

      Thanks everyone. There’s some very good ideas here, and I plan to read through more thoroughly later.

    23. rosyglasses*

      For me, I shut down my Facebook account and am making a goal to shut down my IG by the end of the year (I shop Wayyyyyy too much there and is the source of much of my phone browsing).

      Other times, I purposely leave it in another room, in a drawer, or at home (if I’m going on a walk, or if I’m out with my hubby and he has his). It helps tremendously, but it’s still a work in progress.

  12. WoodswomanWrites*

    Birding thread. What are our feathered friends up to?

    My county fair that’s in early July is skipping the part this year that’s typically indoors. Their photography exhibit and contest this time around is virtual, so I submitted one of my favorite bird images that I haven’t previously published on my blog. It’s a portrait of a white-tailed kite staring right at me with its bright orange eyes. I don’t expect to win anything, just want to share the image of a really beautiful bird of prey looking fierce.

    As a more current update, I went for a hike in the woods and the birds were singing away. Although it was tough to see them, it was lovely to listen to the chorus of junco, varied thrush, band-tailed pigeon, hermit thrush, a pileated woodpecker, and others.

    1. MistOrMister*

      Am I allowed to comment if I’m an at home bird watcher instead of a birder?? Because I’ve been getting visits (I put birdseed out on my deck railing) from titmice, dark eyed juncos, a warbler I forget the name of, a couple of kibds of woodpeckers as well as the usual doves, jays, cardinals, sparrows and grackles, and it’s fabulous. And yesterday a crow who visited last weekend came by while I was sitting out back to ask for some dried cat food – it flew to my fence then when I got up to grab some food, flew to my chair. Not gonna lie….I felt like I was almost having a Disney princess moment!!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Cool story about your backyard birds.

        You are definitely a birder because you appreciate birds! Audubon Magazine recently published an excellent article, “It’s Time to Redefine ‘Birding’–Anyone who enjoys birds—wherever, however—should be able to call themselves a birder.” I recommend it as an excellent read, opening with this: “To nurture a community as wonderfully diverse as the birds we love, we need to ensure our language is as welcoming and inclusive as possible.” Check it out at https://www.audubon.org/news/its-time-redefine-birding/

      2. Lizabeth*

        Pileated woodpecker sighting! They always surprise me because for some reason I think they are the size of a flicker and they are not! They range 16-19 inches (basically the length of your forearm).

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Lucky you! A couple times over the years, I spotted a pileated woodpecker banging away. It was incredible how much wood was flying through the air. They’re the bird equivalent of jackhammers.

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          We have a pileated woodpecker come up to our bird feeders once every couple of years and it always startles the heck out of me! I get lots of downy woodpeckers and an occasional red-headed, but the pileated are in a class by themselves.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Hummingbirds at the nectar feeders! And the other usual suspects at seed, peanut and suet feeders – the tufted titmice are among my favorites but I like seeing them all. The catbirds have been very active, though I think they’re filling the niche that used to be occupied by mockingbirds – perhaps just as well given how very noisy the mockers could get…

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Hummingbirds on my solomon’s seal, mertensia and lilacs!
      Hearing a lot of pileated woodpeckers, but not seeing them so much now that the trees have leafed out.
      We have a baltimore oriole couple nesting in our willow again. Yay!
      And lots of chickadees and wrens in all the birdhouse gourds I put up in March
      I KNOW robins are nesting in a few of my shrubs, but I can’t easily find them and don’t want to pry too closely for fear of disturbing them. Same with one pair of cardinals i’m seeing regularly.
      Looks like a good bird year!

    4. Girasol*

      Redwings, robins, house and gold finches, and house sparrows here in suburbia, and kildeers just back. Heard a mourning dove yesterday that must have been a juvenile because he couldn’t quite get his song right. He sounded like he might have been listening to collared doves and gotten confused.

    5. Tybalt's Cat*

      I don’t consider myself a birder, but I’m getting more interested in birds since we have a barred owl (maybe two) in our neighborhood. I hear it (them) a lot at night and would really love to spot it (them). But from what I understand, barred owls are particularly difficult to spot. Anyone have any tips?

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Currently, we have furious Flickers and rampaging Robins.
      A flicker has been HAMMERING on our metal chimney critter cap at Ungodly O’clock in the a.m. for multiple days and a rogue robin is attacking 3 of our windows. For the robin, I put up bird scare tape: no luck. I put up raptor window clings with the scare tape: no luck. Finally, I put white printer paper behind the window clings for better contrast and that did it.
      Oy! Can’t wait for next spring to do it all over again!

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      I finally have bluebirds nesting! I had to replace my bluebird house and they did not seem to care for the new one, but they finally built a nest last week and eggs are appearing.

      I was really excited to see that I still have goldfinches! I get quite a few in winter but they seem to disappear in the spring, so seeing males in summer plumage was exciting.

    8. Double A*

      The baby birds that hatched in our porch light have already flown away! It was like a week between when I first saw they had hatched and that they left. The closest thing I could come to identifying them is that they were song sparrows.

      A lot of the baby bluebirds must be growing up too because their parents have stopped attacking our windows.

    9. Pine Lily*

      Wonderful imagining your WTKI photo, good luck on the submission!

      The BASP (Bachman sparrows) are still pining for their Miss Kitty. Dawn and dusk typically through August.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Thanks! I have lots of bird photos on my blog that has the same title as my user name here, if you’re interested in checking them out. I will also post the white-tailed kite image on my blog once I hear back from the county fair team. The fair is the first week of July, so it won’t be long before I have news.

    10. pancakes*

      House finches feeding their babies on our fire escape. The babies are getting big and seem able to fly in short bursts, at least, but they’re still noisy at feeding time, and still getting fed. Our next door neighbor has a feeder with seeds that suit them, so they’re often around. My boyfriend and I try to be as quiet as we can making our way over to window with our glasses of wine in the late afternoon, and it’s been really fun to see their little families grow up. I thought there was one very red one but at one point I looked out and there were three in a row!

      Also Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal out there this week – beautiful to watch up close. The rubber tree I have in that window has gotten more and more full, and it provides good cover for us to watch the birds.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        That is so cool. I’m always envious when I hear about birds nesting where they can be easily viewed.

    11. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have a Ladder-backed Woodpecker that has been hanging around my back yard eating from my suet feeder and drinking from my hummingbird feeder. According to my field guide, he is a rare visitor to back yards.

    12. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Last week I saw a crow and a young roadrunner fighting over the roadkill carcass of a prairie dog. They both jumped to the side of the road as I drove past so I am not sure who won.

    13. I take tea*

      We spotted a grey heron in the middle of the stream in a small town the other day. I was so surprised that it wasn’t more shy, but it was very fun to see it up close (maybe three meters). It just stood there calmly looking for its dinner!

    14. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Two weeks ago, I was so excited to see an oriole in my back yard. However, upon consulting my field guide, I see that he was actually a Black-headed Grosbeak, the first I’ve ever seen.

  13. Dark Macadamia*

    Inspired by the “expression of frustration” post earlier this week, what are your favorite substitute swears that you use or have heard? When my kids were babies I liked saying “what’s the fuss” when they would cry because it sounds like WTF :)

    1. jtr*

      Ha! I’m pretty good about not cussing around kids, although I do have a major potty mouth. (My instructor’s nickname for me is Sailor Trucker…) One of my favorites is Holy Moly Mother of Pearl. I don’t know if super religious Christians would still find it objectionable, but it’s long enough that I can avoid saying anything really bad.

        1. pancakes*

          A film noir classic. I’m sure there are others that should be used more often too.

    2. I skip the mas*

      One of my mother’s favourites was “christmas”. I mean, no one can be mad at you for saying christmas, right?

    3. MistOrMister*

      Good googaly moogaly is my all time favorite (first heard years and years ago in a snickers commercial where a guy is painting the endzone on a football field. He finishes and someone comes up and says “who are the chefs?” [It was supposed to be the kansas city chiefs] and the guy who’d been doing the painting mutters, good googaly moogaly!! My parents and I all fell out laughing). Also son of a biscuit and jiminy christmas.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I yell a lot of Jiminy Christmas and great googly moogly, yes. Also “rassafrackin…”

        1. MistOrMister*

          Oh man, I forgot about rassafrackin!! Trying to cement that one in my brain so I can start using it.

      2. Lizabeth*

        Hot puppies – my old college roomie used to say this plus “ hot chocolate covered puppies” if it was really bad.

    4. BC Lower Mainlander*

      Instead of “bull$hi+”, I’ve used “bullocks”, “bullpuckies”, “bullpancakes”, “bulldozers”
      “That’s f’d up” to “That’s fascinating”
      “F me/you up the @$$” to “Sit on a carrot and spin” though that one is a little spicy still.
      Sometimes I just mumble “you’re such an irregular square.”
      The joys of needing clean language when working with pediatrics!

    5. Princess Xena*

      Sonnova biscuit
      D’arvit (From Artemis Fowl – I read those quite a lot as a child and so did my entire family so we all know it)
      Sometimes just a deep frustrated breath/sigh
      Sometimes ‘aaaargh’ or similar

      1. RG*

        My mother’s was “ son of a sea biscuit!” It also has the advantage of sounding ridiculous, which helps defuse the situation that provoked it ;).

    6. Melody Pond*

      One that I instantly loved when I heard it for the first time: “Cheese and fries!!” With punchiness in the right spots it sounds like “Jesus Christ” – a lot less potential for offense for anyone within earshot.

      I also really liked, “Shut the front door!” as an alternative to “shut the f* up!”, mainly useful in a context where you’re expressing incredulity (not actual hostility).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (I used “Shut the front door” as my trigger phrase to make my Alexa lock the smart lock on the front door, because I also like that one.)

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        “Shut the front door” has such a satisfying cadence lol. Really fun to say!

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “What the MONKEYS??”

      Honestly though my most common is to lean right into it and go “What the expletive are you even on about?” or similar, just using the word “expletive” as its own placeholder. Heh.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I used to work with someone who said, “What the ham sandwich and macaroni and cheese?”, rather than, “What the hell?”. It was cute and funny. She had another one, but I can’t think of it at the moment.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s a good one. Reminiscent of the 90s classic compliment (or puncturing of delusion), “all that and a bag of chips.”

    9. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

      “Now SEE HERE!” is my go-to when the item I am currently attempting to use is not feeling particularly cooperative as regards the purpose for which I am using it. (Stolen from a comic strip over at “Hark! A Vagrant”.)

      Otherwise I just swear. I’m single and live alone, so it’s not like I’m going to offend any tender sensibilities.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Hark! A Vagrant has such good reaction panels! I love Holmes going “that is not – that is NOT me” and Gatsby and Daisy’s “what baby”

    10. Jean (just Jean)*

      From the late, lamented Walt Kelly and Pogo comics, I learned “dagnabit” and “ding bust it.” I also invent my own cuss words using either the names of elected officials or random strings of nouns (something like “celery eggplant rowing machine”). The latter mostly works to defer or delay plain old ordinary cussing.

    11. Mimmy*

      I curse like a sailor when I’m home with my husband, but outside of that, I tend to go with the standard substitutes, like “fudge” or “sugar” (that last one was something a weekend desk clerk at college used to say). When I write on FB, I’ll say “what the eff” or “what the blankety-blank”.

    12. Not My Money*

      Frickin frackin biscuit eater – no idea where I picked it up but it’s my clean go to.

    13. small town*

      I grew up in the deep south so anything referencing the divine was not ok. Instead we used:
      Jiminy Christmas
      Holy Hannah
      Cheese and crackers
      In the name of…

    14. OyHiOh*

      My son, once declaimed “tough kitties!” to one of his sisters. He also took to calling people “jackets” as a swap for jackass, for awhile. My enthusiastic support of “jacket” diminished the appeal pretty considerably LOL

    15. Generic Name*

      I don’t think I ever heard my granny swear. One of her stand-in phrases was “son of a gun”. Shortly after she died, we were having a family get-together. My aunt was trying to open a wine bottle, and the cork broke off. She loudly exclaimed, “Son of a…..” stopped herself and we both looked at each other and said (more quietly) “gun”.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Oooh. Great reason to expand one’s language skills! (And social skills, lest one drop a bomb amidst others who speak that language. :-D )

    16. Water Everywhere*

      I like the actual word ‘bleep’ as a stand-in when I can’t swear. “What the bleep” and “bleeping heck” are favourites.

    17. Friz*

      Great question :-)

      I really like “what’s the fuss.” My favorite that I’ve heard so far is: Shut the front door!

    18. Elizabeth West*

      “What the fuss” is great, haha.

      The Twitter algorithm caught me randomly one day for saying “f*ck” so I’ve been trying to use variations of “Jesus H. Christ [on varied items, doing varied things].” i.e. JHC on a Ferris wheel, JHC on a velocipede, Dear Baby Jesus on a pogo stick, JHC making biscuits on a wood stove, etc.

      1. pancakes*

        “Making biscuits on a wood stove” is hilarious. The ones I hear most often are “on a cracker” or “on roller skates.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        In The War of the Flowers, Tad Williams has the sprite Applecore say, “Shite and onions!”

    19. pancakes*

      I have another that was a classic for my grandmother, and confused me for the longest time. No one else knew what she meant by it either, though my older cousin and I often tried asking. She used to say, “You’ve got more nerve than a brass monkey.”

      Eventually I learned that “brass monkey” was slang for the frame used to arrange cannonballs in a pyramid, to hold the first layer in a square so you can pile more on top. In other words, it’s a way of talking about balls in public, without saying “balls.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, hahaha. In Confluence, which is set in the winter after Tunerville, I made Simon (a Brit) say “Let’s go in and sort it there, shall we? It’s brass monkeys out here.”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Also there is a character who thinks “Blast!” is a worthy curse, lol.

      2. allathian*

        Ah, so that’s where “brass monkey weather” comes from. Meaning it’s so cold that guys claim the cold’s freezing their balls off.

        1. londonedit*

          Yes, the full phrase is ‘it’s so cold it’d freeze the balls off a brass monkey’ but it’s morphed into ‘it’s brass monkeys’ to mean ‘it’s really cold out there’.

    20. M&M Mom*

      Once,and i swear, only one! I said “d-head” while driving Four year old repeated it to her grandmother. Going forward I just said “dingle hopper”

    21. Liminality (Formerly It's Quarantime!)*

      Ever seen the disney movie Rookie of the Year?
      A kid breaks his arm and when they take the cast off they find that his tendons have healed a little too tight, which gives the kid a wicked fastball pitch, so off to the big leagues he goes for adventures and heart warming life lessons.

      My ‘ultimate swear’ comes from that movie. When the doctor is checking range of motion as the cast comes off he gets accidentally whapped in the nose and he shouts “funky butt-loving!”

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Oh I thought of another one, from Ghostbusters: “Mother pus bucket!” A bit gross, but effective lol.

    23. Salymander*

      I sometimes say, “Frickety Frack!” instead of something of the four letter variety. No idea where I heard this one.

    24. Finny*

      As a kid I came up with “ritzle-rats” as a substitute swear word, and it still gets some use. I’m also rather fond of “frell” from Farscape.

      1. allathian*

        Frak and felgercarb from BSG are also quite good. Or they would be, if I got the opportunity of swearing in English IRL.

    25. MeepMeep02*

      This one is a Russian-Jewish thing, maybe. In any case, whenever my mother was very annoyed with something I did or something that my father did, she would go “May you be VERY HEALTHY!” in a very frustrated tone. I do it too, except in English rather than in Russian.

  14. Other Alice*

    I’ve finally bought a flat! (As a side note, looking back at where I was 5 years ago, I can’t believe I have a job that lets me afford a mortgage and I suspect reading this blog helped so much.) Flat is a bit of a fixer upper and I’m about to start renovations and then I need to buy furniture. What suggestions do you have for a first-time home owner? For example I want one of those beds with storage space underneath, because lack of storage has been such a hassle in the past. I’ve got a bit of money saved up and I don’t mind splurging a bit. What things have made your homes better?

    1. Lizabeth*

      Good hangers for clothes – dump the wire ones. I’m talking about decent weight plastic ones that aren’t flimsy. And yes, there are flimsy plastic hangers available.

      1. WellRed*

        Haha. I dumped plastic or padded ones in favor if the really thin/flat hangers covered in felty velvety fabric. Take up way less closet space and clothes don’t slide off.

    2. Asenath*

      A rather expensive but really comfortable chair – I chose a recliner. I brought a little loveseat with me when I moved, but the chair is where I mostly sit.

    3. Madame Arcati*

      I did get one of those storage beds and they are great! Soooo much space. Look for an “ottoman bed”. And if by the use of ‘flat’ i correctly infer you are in the UK, look at Dunelm. Lots of good stuff including my bed.
      No rush but come colder weather make sure you get proper curtains. They are very effective in insulating and what with energy prices you don’t want to pay for your central heating to float out of the windows!
      If you get bedside cabinets that have two or three drawers (rather than just a table) you can store a lot of stuff in them. In a previous flat I had all my makeup, jewellery and hair bits in the bedside cabinet.
      It looks much neater and tidier if the bin/hamper you have to put you used clothes in to be washed is a rigid container rather than a cloth bag (or pile on the floor). Even better if it has a lid (prevents eau de sock wafting about!)
      Hanging a mirror in a well lit place where you can get up close to it (as opposed to leaning over a dressing table or sink) is a good idea. As is a full length mirror on a wall. Could be the same mirror!
      Get a good hoover if you can afford it. I have a shark. The effect after hoovering with something that really does a good job of sucking up the dirt is just amazing, and cordless makes it loads easier.
      Before you put furniture anywhere, look where the plug sockets are and think what you will want them for.
      If space, it’s useful to have something in the bedroom to sit down on to put your tights on, inspect your pedicure, perch while you pair clean socks to put away. I have a little ottoman bench thing with space to store clean bedlinen and blankets, at the end of my bed, which I love. But a pretty stool or chair is nice too just don’t let whatever it is become a dumping ground for clothes.
      Either a coffee table or side tables in your lounge. Somewhere for you and any guests to put your drink, mug of tea, mobile phone, book, newspaper. Having to put these things on the floor is awkward, invites spillage or things getting trodden on, and even the stuff you can pit on sofas and chairs slides off/makes it look cluttered. If you have a small table with a drawer you can put charging cables in it. I have one with my landline phone on the top but even if you don’t have one of this it’s useful for somewhere to put the post, your keys, etc.

      1. UKDancer*

        Seconding Dunelm. They have some great stuff and really good bedding. Dawsons Department Store (online) also has a website with really good value towels and linen called justlinen dot co dot uk.

        I’d also say getting good curtains is a way to save on money by insulating the flat. They also keep the light out so you sleep better.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      I forgot to say! Get as good a mattress as you can afford. The amount of time you spend asleep, you need to be comfy and not get a bad back. I have one of those fancy ones they advertise on tv but I got it when there was 45% off so keep your eye out. Normal pocket sprung ones are fine too; I had one before this and it lasted very well.

    5. Still*

      A coming-home station by the door is wonderful: a shoe rack (preferably one with cubbies so that you can put your shoes in the cubbies and your bags etc on top – that’s also where I put library books to return and any items to donate), coat hangers, a little holder to put your keys, gloves and any other items that you might want to grab quickly, maybe a small bin for recycling mail. Coming home is so much better if you can leave all your stuff neatly in the hallway rather than dumping it all over the living area. Oh, and a full-size mirror for a last check before you leave the house!

      1. I take tea*

        This makes so much sense. I’m going to rearrange the hall a bit. Thank you.

    6. mreasy*

      A nice mattress makes all the difference in the world, and the biggest bed size you can fit. We splurged (in my mind lol) on our dining table, which is sturdy and big and lovely to look at, as well as our sofa, which is just exactly the right size, leather, and SO comfy. (Sofa is still IKEA but like expensive side of IKEA.)

    7. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I second the good hangers advice! I like the skinny velvet ones for my clothes and bigger wooden ones for my coats.

      Make your smartphone do all the work for you, especially when it comes to lamps and lights that aren’t wired to a switch. I put all my lamps on wemos/plug-in smart outlets to control them from my phone and set them on timers. I put my printer on a wemo, and I set up a wifi sensor on my garage door to tell me if it is closed (and the app lets me open/close the door from my phone).

      I don’t know how it is in the UK but here in the US, more and more of our devices and gadgets use a USB, especially our mobile devices. If you’re like this too, I also recommend swapping out some of your outlets for ones that have USB charge ports (or whatever other options you have where you are) in them so you aren’t always constantly hunting your chargers down and can plug the cable right into the outlet.

      Don’t forget to treat yourself too! When I moved into my first home years ago, my first purchases were fluffy fancy new bath towels and real China/glassware for eating.

      I also recommend you buy a ladder. Mine was my dad’s housewarming gift when I got my first place and I can’t tell you how handy it’s been. My go-to housewarming gift for new homeowners now is a ladder.

      Congratulations on the new flat!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On the smart things: I replaced the interior deadbolt handle on my front door with an August smart lock. I can lock it by voice, app, or manually, but it only unlocks by app or manually (some of them replace the key side too, but I didn’t do that, so it’s watch/phone app or key lock). The big draw for me is that previously, the only way to lock my front door was with a key, and my brother’s girlfriend kept leaving before anyone else was up and I didn’t want her having a key to my house OR leaving the door unlocked for however long, so with the smart lock, it automatically locks 2 minutes after it’s unlocked. (You can adjust the timing, but I wanted a short window.) I also like being able to check it from my phone when I wake up panicked in the middle of the night and confirm that it’s locked.

    8. Other Alice*

      Wonderful advice! Good hangers and a really great mattress were already on my radar so it’s good to hear confirmation. I’ll be reading everything more carefully later but I just wanted to mention I’m in continental Europe, not the UK, so the brands available to me are different. I have IKEA of course but I’d also like to buy furniture from local stores.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Change your locks. The previous owner let himself into our friend’s newly bought house while the friend was out – most likely to retrieve some illegal item since things were moved but nothing of our friend’s was missing. We replaced the standard deadbolts with ones having longer bolts and stronger strike boxes with longer screws for better security.
      Making our house WAY better is an instant hot water tap. The water stays just below boiling and I use it multiple times a day for A LOT of things!

    10. Dancing Otter*

      Good lighting makes a huge difference.
      Table lamps are not as effective as the bulb strength would suggest. I put floor lamps in every room: two in the living room, even. Most are multi-armed, and I use one arm for task lighting and aim the rest at the ceiling to reflect throughout the area.
      I love the folding kitchen step stool with a padded seat on top. In addition to reaching the top shelf, I can move it next to the trash can or sink to sit and peel vegetables. And it folds up to only a few inches.
      Check your plumbing first, but if you can, install a garbage disposal. I miss mine sooooo much.
      Instead of a desk, I have a drop-lid bookcase. That section holds (and hides) stationery supplies; and when open, it’s just the right size for a laptop. The space I saved accommodates a sewing machine cabinet, so I don’t have to use the dinner table. Plus, can one have too many bookshelves?

    11. Bread Addict*

      Rugs, Art and plants. Genuinely they made our flat feel more homey and lived in once we got the art up, a rug on the floor and some plants. I love the way the plants make rooms feel more fresh as well.

      Also good curtains for energy bills, sleep and privacy.

      Double purpose items are also a blessing. The end table next to our couch is a flat top for drinks and things but inside holds spare blankets. Our couch is also two recliners that you can operate separately. So can both be reclining or only one. Or just use as a couch. Etc. Saves having to have a recliner separate. My wardrobe has a beauty shelf in it with a mirror at the back (we added) that has jewelry, hair stuff, and makeup and means it is all tidied away when I close the wardrobe door. Also for kitchen space we put our microwave inside a really deep cabinet. Its out of the way but still usable. Those last 2 are more space related. But space saving helps a home feel more organised and less cluttered.

    12. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Get #1 and #2 square drive screwdrivers! You’d be surprised at how many things are square drive and we had no idea until we needed one.

  15. Retaw*

    A question on neighbors and parking! We recently bought a rural home which we’ll be moving into full-time (thanks to wfh) in the coming months. Our neighbors are kind of spread out and the nearest one has a driveway that sits next to ours. Neither house was built with a driveway but over time the neighbor has concreted over a small part of their garden to create a narrow driveway, and the previous owners of our place concreted over a much larger part of their garden to create a wide but not as deep driveway. Ours could accommodate 2-3 SUVs side by side, the neighbor’s could hold two little hatchback cars, but they’d have to park one directly behind another in a line. Although there is no fence or wall dividing the driveways themselves, the walls remain dividing what’s left of the gardens so visually it is obvious whose driveway is whose. And the problem is guests of the neighbor parking in our driveway because of the lack of alternatives (there is a small area of waste ground maybe 30 feet away that could accommodate a car but other than that no street parking). We had anticipated this might become an issue on the showings and figured if it was a 1-car household next-door maybe it wouldn’t matter, but this neighbor has a better social life than we do.

    I know with the house having been empty for a couple of months they may just think it’s cool to park there until we move in, but this is likely to be a more long-term issue because the neighbor has a little driveway. We don’t want to be inhospitable to our neighbor but we also don’t want to have to ask permission to park on our own driveway, or have to go next door and ask their guests to move so our family/friends can park on the drive. As part of some improvements we’ll be doing we had thought about building a low dividing wall between the driveways and planting a hedge for privacy. There are no legal or title issues we need to consider (already checked) so I’m wondering is there a ‘good’ way to handle this? We’re used to rural and city living – and the inevitable parking problems that come with city dwelling. We were hoping to avoid them in the countryside! When this happened previously in the city our neighbor used to get in our business about ‘well you only have one car home today so what’s your problem? come by when the second car comes home and we’ll move’ and we’re so keen to avoid this again. We have met the neighbor a couple of times and they seem pleasant.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I’m not sure I would do anything to handle it, at this point. Building the divider and hedge sounds like a good idea. You don’t need to warn the neigh or about that and once it’s in place, the visibile barrier will likely keep people from trying to park on your side. Also, unless your neighbors are jerks, it seems highly unlikely that they would direct their guests to park in your driveway without asking once you’re living there full time. Granted, they could keep on doing it since some people are ridiculous that way. But, best to go in not expecting trouble. It would look kind of weird for you to talk to them about the issue before it’s actually an issue and could sour them on you if they weren’t going to direct people to your driveway once you’re moved in.

    2. Fit Farmer*

      Yeah, I don’t think there’s any way to do it but by taking to them. As MistOrMister says, it probably makes sense to wait until you have an issue rather than raising one pre-emptively from afar. Your former city neighbor sounds like an outlier even among city people, and even though you’ve had that experience, I’d try not to let it color your take on this new potential problem. In the course of developing a relationship with the neighbor before you move in, and since you’re moving from the city with different parking customs, you could quite reasonably ask something like, “How do people on this street handle it when they run out of off-street parking, is it common for people to park on the street” etc. You might get some useful information generally, and certainly would get a sense of their take on parking issues. Heck, if they say, “We’ve always just used the neighbor’s spot,” you can say that won’t work anymore! But in all likelihood, they’ll say something totally normal, because they are a totally normal person. If somebody parks on your side once you move in, I think the best way might be to just treat it like the one-off situation it hopefully is: “Hi, someone parked here last night, could you ask your guests to park on the street (or whatever the local custom is) and not park in our driveway? Thanks!”

      On the walls & hedges, it would be a curtesy and good for rural neighborly relations to mention your plans for that in the course of run-of-the-mill conversation with the neighbor. Not in a way that asks for permission, or even gets their take on the idea, just as a heads up.

      1. Retaw*

        I appreciate all the advice. We’ve noticed their guests parking in our driveway when we’ve visited the house on a few occasions now, and the neighbor has never said anything about it. I guess I’m pre-empting that it’s an unwritten thing in their mind that because we have a bigger driveway and aren’t home when their guests arrive that it’s cool for them to park on our drive and we can just figure it out when we get home. This is what I’m trying to avoid as I hate the idea of having to ask permission to park in front of my house – part of the reason for this move is for peace and privacy, and we don’t really want to get into calendar sharing to figure out the parking situation. Their house does have an unusually small driveway (I think they’re into gardening so decided to keep more garden than our house did) and so far it’s only been one car at a time. What do other people with small driveways do when they have guests with nowhere for them to park, and their neighbor has a large driveway? I get that maybe it’s a reasonable equation to think we won’t mind as we don’t need all the space all the time but parking things drive me bonkers.

    3. Overeducated*

      Are these driveways actually connected? Like you can tell the difference because there is a wall between the two garden areas deeper into the properties, but the pavement is continuous? That does seem legitimately confusing and I think could be worth addressing with paint first. You could say “to avoid confusion as we get settled, so we don’t park in your spot!” Which is clearly a white lie but perhaps less awkward than directly saying it’s because of their guests.

      1. Retaw*

        They driveways are connected – the positioning of the wall between what’s left of both our gardens is what denotes the boundary between the two. It might be hard to explain here without a drawing but although they are side by side one is clearly in front of each house.

        1. Bread Addict*

          If they are really into gardens they might like your hedge idea! Though I would make sure that its a plant that is non-toxic to animals and people. In case you or they get any animals or small children in the future.

          I agree with the others. I know this is obciously important to you and causing some stress but I would wait and see once you move in. Its likely they figure its okay since the house is empty and it just was bad timing that you visited when friends were there. And it wont be an issue once you move in. I would wait and see.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think the best way to handle it is to wait and see if it will actually be a problem. They may well be normal and considerate people instead of huge entitled jerks like your city neighbor.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes I think this will turn out to be a non issue once you move in and a hedge or whatever will definitely help. Most people don’t go around just parking in random driveways. The city neighbor would have had his car towed at some point. Eff that.

    5. retired3*

      Rules for living in the country (if that is what this is) are unwritten and different from living in an urban area. I would get to know the neighbors (at least at a superficial social level) and talk to them if it becomes a problem. If you break the unwritten rules, no one will say anything but you’ll lose out on benefits like neighbors who get things delivered to them instead of to you or who watch who comes into the neighborhood. Cookies work.

      (Lived rural for much of my life)

      1. retired3*

        You may find that it is OK for them to park there if the neighbors ask ahead of time. The relationship that develops may go that way. I had a neighbor actually save my partner’s life when he had a serious accident and I had a small child to cope with…the neighbor drove him to the hospital which was almost an hour away. Neighbors can be very important…and they may value their privacy as much as you do.

        I’m concerned about the assumptions you are making (asking for permission to park in your driveway) and that they may impede your ability to make good relationships.

    6. Eff Walsingham*

      I would absolutely go with the divider and hedge as soon as is practical, and have a few scripts in mind that are both positive and clear. “Yes, it’s boxwood. We like a hedge. Makes a property look *finished*!” And so on. As if you’d have planted it even if there was no house next to yours. Sensible people expect that new owners will want to make changes to a place. And polite people will keep their opinions to themselves if you don’t ask them whether they like or approve of your hedge.

      My experience stems from the fact that every house my parents owned in my lifetime except the first, which was isolated, they’d have lovely neighbours on one side and horrible ones on the other. The ‘bad guys’ ranged from encroachers, whose cars, compost pile, and defacating dog all ended up across the property line, to ones where you’d call 9-1- and wait to see if they were just going to stand there and scream at you or if there might be escalation. That one was a particularly bizarre situation, because we lived across the street from the court house and municipal jail, and yet the guy would scream and threaten like Yosemite Sam. In each of these settings, other neighbours on the street were perfectly pleasant and sometimes sympathetic over public displays of pettiness, etc. So, in spite of the pattern, I don’t think that my family is bad to live next to! We just kept getting the short straw.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am in a rural area and I have a shared drive way. It has 4 owners, three of them actually use the driveway. (Yeah, the property lines look like jigsaw puzzle pieces. )

      While no one ever blocks the driveway, having a place to put cars is sometimes tough. If I know a neighbor is having extra people for a big event (funeral, extended family gathering, something special like that) I have offered to let people park on my lawn.

      My point is that as you go along you can do things like this if you choose. This is once you get to know the people are not boundary-stoppers and very respectful of your property.

      Once in a while a visitor or repair person will park right in my parking space. I just politely ask them to move. I acknowledge that the layout is confusing and they are not the first person to be messed up by it. Most people are are apologetic when they realize they have parked on someone else’s property.

      One thing to realize is that they will see you driving in and out and realize, “hey we can’t park there any more”.

      There was one newbie driver visitor who insisted on driving across my septic. I mentioned it to my neighbor and she said something to the newbie driver. And the driver did it again. With that, I said to my neighbor that I would be reporting the newbie driver to the police if it happened a third time. My neighbor’s explanation was “farm people drive all over their properties and so that is what the driver learned.” sigh. I simply said that in driver’s ed they tell you to stay on the black top. And that story ended. So that was the worst thing that happened in 30 years and it was manageable.

  16. Vio*

    questions about the amazon commissions, since I’d like to be able to support the site
    1: can you still make a commission from a co.uk order? (also applicable to other locations for other users)
    2: can you still make a commission in addition to using smile.amazon charity donation system, or is it one or the other?

    1. Swisa*

      My guess is that you can with do Amazon smile or a commission link like Alison’s, since it’s based on the link (ie if you use Amazon smile, it’s not going to link back to Alison).

    2. fhqwhgads*

      My general understanding of how it works is if you click the link from AAM, and then within 24 hours buy anything from Amazon (smile or not), it counts. I do not know if it crosses from the US site to other countries’ Amazon sites. But it’s based on a cookie.
      I regularly come back here and click on the link if I’m about to buy something on Amazon, but when I do my actual purchasing I always use smile.

    3. Square Root of Minus One*

      I wondered that too! I used to have my Kindle set on amazon.com by default and I really can’t keep it that way. Dollar purchases generate random end-of-month adjustment fees on my card and it’s a total budget mess.

  17. Kate*

    Tips for peacefully ending a friendship?

    It’s been at least 10 years since I have seen an acquaintance of mine in person. We were friends-by-proximity once (we work together, and I introduced her to some other friends) but we’ve alternated living in different cities since then. We did not make efforts to see each other during those times.

    We are at very very different places in our lives. We now live in the same city, and she has been reaching out A LOT to hang out. Honestly? I don’t WANT to. I don’t have an explicit reason for this— I’d be happy to run into her at work and grab a coffee — but I just don’t WANT to rearrange my schedule to make room for her in it.

    This is complicated by the fact that I have had some major health issues over the winter, and am only just starting to fit in time and energy for the good friends I really DO want to see.

    Any scripts for being like, thanks but no thanks, but not being mean about it?

    1. Vio*

      it’s hard to reject someone, or feel like you’re rejecting them, but obviously it does neither of you any good to lead them on. it’s probably best to be as honest as you possibly can be without being hurtful, use what you know of them to try to get the best balance. maybe something like “I’m often really busy and have limited downtime but I’m sure we’ll meet in passing and have a chance to catch up over a coffee at some point.” which makes it clear that although you can’t make time for them, you’re also not specifically avoiding them either

    2. Still*

      If you’d be open to some small amount of interaction you can use that to send a signal that you want to scale waaaay back. For example if she reaches out asking if you want to do a big activity and spend the whole evening together this week, you can say “sorry, I’m swamped, but I can do a coffee / lunch next month” – something that’s clearly way smaller and way further in the feature. But that’s only if you’re still open to doing something together at some point.

      Otherwise I’d probably keep cheerfully declining the invitations until she gets the point.

      If you want to be more explicit about it, I might say something like “It’s so nice for you to offer! My schedule is really busy right now so I don’t really have the time to hang out but I’ll reach out if that changes!” It is still probably going to sting, but there isn’t really a nice way to say “you’re not a priority for me and we’re not as close as you think we are”, so.

      1. Overeducated*

        This, plus i think the health stuff gives you a graceful out, you can say “due to health stuff I’m dealing with my energy is really limited and I’m not up for a lot of get togethers right now.”

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Yes, something like “I’m recovering from major health issues and it’s going to take some time to get my energy back. I’m sorry I can’t meet up for quite awhile.” This statement is true for me and I’ve used it more than once. You can use the nicest possible language and people can still get mad. Continue to set boundaries anyway.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            This is good. And if you’re on the ‘scale way back’ trajectory, you can use your first meetup to establish realistic expectations going forward due to your health issues/energy/backlog of necessary activities. Maybe you anticipate coffee or lunch twice a year would work, given all that’s going on—and it’s okay to say so if that’s the case, and ask for understanding that you’ll have to decline anything more frequent than that.

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

      If you’re really ending the friendship, be clear on that so it doesn’t string her along thinking you can’t hang out NOW but you will at some time if she keeps trying. The gentle slow fade of a friendship really only works if the other person catches on, and it doesn’t sound like she has so far. Do you two have anything in common besides you once worked together? If not, you could point that out gently, “Friend, I’ve come realise we don’t naturally have interests in common and I’m at a very different point in my life than when we first met, so I don’t think we’ll really enjoy each other’s in-person activities. If you want to continue being virtual friends, I’m happy to keep in touch on FB,” or leave that last part off if it’s not true.

  18. EdgarAllanCat*

    Thank you, commentariat, for all the packing tips recently shared. I didn’t purchase any packing material and felt incredibly efficient using towels, etc, as padding.

  19. Despite the Nora*

    How long do you hang onto really formal dresses that you only wear once? Prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses, that kind of thing. I’m looking in my closet and realizing I’ve been hanging onto some of these dresses for over 10 years. Part of me always thought I could wear them again somewhere, maybe turn them into a costume, but I don’t even fit into most of them now. I know there are prom dress donation charities that could probably get some use out of them. It just feels weird to get rid of these dresses of only one once, but I’m trying to remind myself that’s mostly the nature of these things. What do you all do with your formal worn only once dresses?

    1. UKDancer*

      I have a couple of evening dresses because about once per year I have a black tie dinner with work (or at least I did before Covid). I alternate them so I’m not wearing the same one twice in a row. I check that they still fit when I do my annual weeding of the wardrobe to remove things I’ve not worn for years and years.

      1. Despite the Nora*

        Oh i’m not talking about evening dresses that can be regularly be worn, I mean the fancier bridesmaids dresses and prom dresses that usually seem to be where once kind of deals. I have regular dresses that I do wear to attend weddings and other things, but nothing that seems appropriate for the more formal dresses in my closet.

    2. MeTwoToo*

      There are programs to donate formal wear to. They help students who can’t afford prom dresses, etc.

    3. Bread Addict*

      Try to think of it less about only wearing it once. And more along the lines of it served the purpose you needed it to serve. Now you can reclaim your wardrobe space for new things that you want to have NOW. It doesnt really benefit you to keep them especially if they dont fit. Its not like holding them in your closet for another 10 years is getting your moneys worth out of them. I held onto my prom dress for 10 years even moved countries with it and then realised I had no occassion to wear it and if I did, I would probably have wanted to get something new anyway.

      I would let go and let someone else use them. As someone else mentioned there are charities that can give them as prom dresses to teens who cant afford it. You probably wont find out who for privacy reasons but wouldnt it be nicer to know someone else got to wear it and feel special?

    4. Despite the Nora*

      New problem, I started looking into these charities and all the local ones I find say the dresses have to be no more than five years old. Kind of sucks because all of my dresses are over 10 years old, so maybe I won’t be able to donate any after all I will just have to give it to like Goodwill or something.

      1. Pop*

        Yes, this is not uncommon because of how quickly trends change. The last two bridesmaids dresses I wore I suspected I would never wear again (one wasn’t my style, and the other was maternity). I donated them both within a month of the weddings and it felt great to not have to think about them any more. I live in a very small space and don’t have room for a ton of extra things.

        1. Despite the Nora*

          Darn, so I’m just out of luck? Just give them to Goodwill or a thrift shop?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            At the time I type this, there is not a single comment here from someone saying “I held onto my prom/bridesmaid dresses, and that really paid off and I got a lot more wear out of them.” Or even “… one more wear out of them.”

            As a general rule, I think if you didn’t wear it in the past year it’s unlikely you will wear it in future, current exception granted for covid. (And it can make sense to have, say, a funeral outfit if most of your clothing is not funeral appropriate–if you actually do need this outfit every five years or so.) If a super dressy occasion did fall into your lap, I’m betting you would realize you want something newer. (Do any of these tick your “I look so GREAT in this and would just love a chance to wear it again” synapses?)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I do have a single bridesmaid dress that I kept and have reworn several times for various occasions. But it was a situation where the bride said “Pick whatever dress you like in some shade of purple,” so it’s a knee-length cocktail dress in a color and style that I chose and that looks banging on me, not a Traditional Bridesmaid Dress.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              I’ll extend this to a rule for rarely worn clothes:
              • If the item is rarely worn but practical for something you do every few years, it can make sense to keep it. The small leather gloves you only wear when visiting your spouse’s relatives in Maine. The outfit that works for any funeral. The extra tall bee keeping suit you only need once every 5-10 years, but then you’re glad you have it.
              • If the item is rarely worn but associated with fun–either you’re finding ways to make the fun thing happen so you have an excuse to wear it, or if something new and fun and formal did come up you’d probably want a new fun outfit. Not your junior prom dress.

              1. WellRed*

                I’m chuckling at the specificity of small leather gloves worn only while visiting spousal relatives in Maine.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  I’m smaller than everyone in my husband’s family, and so the leather gloves on Ye Olde Homestead were all way too big. Eventually I bought my own pair and threw them in my suitcase for each trip.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              “I held on to my dress”…. and had it altered so I could wear it to more things. And I STILL did not wear it. I ended up donating it.

              Worse, I was in a wedding with a dress that could probably be worn again. I never wore that one either. What a waste.

          2. Generic Name*

            There’s nothing wrong with donating them to a thrift shop. Someone will buy them for a Halloween costume or to re-purpose. A good friend of mine bought her wedding dress at a thrift shop and re-made it.

            1. Eff Walsingham*

              I am an ardent thrifter, and wore a secondhand wedding gown. The dry cleaning cost more than the dress. I felt very clever. No, I haven’t re-donated it. I’m still thinking I might want to make something else out of an acre of cream dupioni silk. It’s only been 7 years. ;)

              That said, I think you should donate them, to the cleanest thrift store in your area. Right about now, to catch the prom- and wedding-goers. Everywhere I’ve lived, there are still at least a few people (ahem, me) for whom style is no object because we can remake a dress and wear it. New fabrics can be very expensive, and making a dress from scratch is a lot more work. I’m not broke like I was when I was younger, but I just hate to pay full price for a wear-once dress.

          3. Michigan mom*

            I graduated from HS in the mid 90s and I wore my Jr. prom dress to the last Detroit Autoshow before Covid hit. It was cute actually I think. That said I’m an engineer and not exactly an expert in Fashion

        2. Christmas Carol*

          Brook Shields’ daughter wore a 23 year old dress to her prom though. Some things never go out of style.

      2. WellRed*

        Can you post in a local group and ask for suggestions or see if anyone wants them there?

      3. Bread Addict*

        You could still contact them with photos and potentially see if they want them. Sometimes the issue is fashion but I think there is also concern that the items if too old will smell, or be stained/moth holes and not be wearable. I would definitely reach out with some pictures and see.

        You could always donate to goodwill if you need to. Or even post online on sights like depop or vinted if you want to sell them yourself though that might take longer.

        For the record as well while I personally would donate them. I realise we all said that so far I think. The last 2 years has made me prioritise my space and comfort over objects. But if you decide you want to keep them that is valid too. Do whats best for you. I should have said that earlier.

      4. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yup. I had to just Goodwill my wedding gown because it’s 30+ years old and I couldn’t find a single organization who wanted it

      5. Eff Walsingham*

        Regarding the 5 year rule, I would look at the styles and be brutally honest with yourself… can you tell? Is it obvious?

        I have consigned clothes at a local consignment shop that has a 2 year limit, and I don’t think any of them were that new. But many of them still had tags on, because my mother had half a dresser of stuff that had been gifts from well-meaning people over the years. Some were about a decade old, but they hadn’t dated. I remember a Ralph Lauren white linen shirt, for example. Like my mother (or I) would ever wear a white linen shirt! We’re a sloppy family. Marinara sauce would magically find us! And there was a bunch of cruisewear, country-clubby stuff.

        Anyway, when the store lady asked me when it was purchased, I just said, “I don’t know. It’s from my mother. Do you think it will sell?” And she accepted almost everything, and most of it sold.

        Some formal wear does date fast, because the fashion is very “of the moment”. If that’s the case, it is more likely to be sold or received as a costume. Even if you wanted to hang onto it for another decade (!), most styles that come around again have some kind of twist or tweak.

    5. Just another queer reader*

      If you donate the dresses to Goodwill or similar, someone will probably get to wear them to their prom or special event!

      One of my best friends in high school got her prom dress (it was beautiful) from the thrift store where she worked. I’ve also found special occasion outfits at thrift stores.

      Your dresses will find new life :)

      1. Reba*

        Exactly! donating/thrifting is not a bad outcome at all. Sure, maybe no one will buy and wear them… but no one is wearing them while they sit in your closet for sure.

    6. SoloKid*

      I’m in the same boat (haven’t touched my wedding dress in 6 years) but I’ve read about brides making nice pillows with the fabric from their dress.

      1. Bread Addict*

        I had this done by a keepsake company. And honestly I regret it. I now have a very nice coushin that serves no purpose, and just takes up space. I doubt anyone else would ever want it. And so I am king of just stuck with it at the moment.

        Wish I had donated the full dress so someone else could use it. But I had it for 8 years as a drese knew I wouldn’t wear it and thought this would be better. It takes up less space but yeah.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Same with an unused ring bearer’s pillow. Gone. I got really tired of it.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Prom and bridesmaid dresses make great dress-up clothes for little kids.

      I didn’t do that with my wedding dress for emotional attachment reasons (it’s in a corner of the closet, though my daughter is significantly taller than myself and I don’t expect her to wear it) but was glad I retired the thought of “I might wear it again, in these perfect narrow circumstances” for the other stuff. The four year olds (girls and boys) got a lot of use out of it.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I would post them free on Craigslist or a FB “buy nothing” group and see if anyone claims them. I feel better doing that kind of thing because with donating to a thrift shop you never know if it will actually make it to the sales floor or just get thrown out.

    9. the cat's ass*

      i had a lot of these too, for a while. I finally bit the bullet and donated them to my kid’s former day dare for the dress-up box and they were happy to get them!

    10. Jean (just Jean)*

      Some communities have a twist on prom dress charities: wedding dress charities. It’s nice to think of one’s wedding dress as part of someone else’s marriage ceremony. I hope whomever wore it is happy and healthy.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Yep! We call them gemachs. It’s a beautiful thing. A good friend/mentor of mine lent me her own wedding dress, I paid $25 to get it altered, and gave it right back (she probably lent it to someone else after me). I feel strongly about not keeping things longer than you need them…share the love!

    11. Suprisingly ADHD*

      If they’re in good condition, you can donate them to a thrift shop! Finding a beautiful dress there can really make someone’s week!

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Heeyyyy! That’s a great idea! I might have a couple of things myself that our local groups could use. We have two educational programs in the area that do different approaches to Shakespeare in parks each summer.

    12. All Hail Queen Sally*

      There are a number of charities that make tiny baby burial gowns from donated wedding/prom dresses.

  20. Loopy*

    Every year I do a trip home and stay with various family and friends. I always end up admiring things I skimp on in my own home, like fluffy towels and really nice hand soaps. Looking to splurge when I get home so does anyone have a recommendations for your favorite:

    – Super fluffy indulgent bath towels
    – Really nice smelling foam/pump hand soap
    – Scent plug in (saw a super cute decorative one from bath and body works, didn’t know they came in such pretty designs!)
    – Other really nice small home splurge you really love

    Looking to stay with functional items vs pure decor as we battle being a little cluttered already, so functional things that are also decorative aare always a plus!

    1. UKDancer*

      I love the handwash from Molton Brown and the White Company, both of which do lovely scented and upmarket products. I tend to go for Verveine by White Company or Pettigree Dew from Molton Brown.

      I also love the Jo Malone diffusers (especially Lime Basil and Mandarin) and am currently using their Silk Blossoms diffuser which smells gorgeous for summer.

    2. Bread Addict*

      Neutrogena do a pump style hand soap called rainbath. I love it so much and everyone who comes over likes it. Another friend used it first and I loved it so much I had to get some. It smells nice, feels nice.

    3. GraceC*

      – Changing the handles on kitchen cabinets/bedroom chests of drawers honestly just completely refresh a space, they can completely change up a look

      – Handwash that comes with matching handcream for the bathrooms

      – Nice decorative bowls/baskets for dropping things in – no more digging through coats trying to remember which one I was wearing when I last had my cardholder/compact mirror/lipbalm, it lives near the coatrack and everything goes in it

    4. Jay*

      Garnet Hill for towels. Expensive. Worth it. About to replace ours after maybe ten years, which I think makes them a good investment.

      Really nice sheets. I like 100% cotton medium-high thread count percale in summer and nice cozy flannel in winter (we’re in an area of the US that gets cold and we have an older, drafty house). We get them from Garnet Hill or Lands End and I watch for sales.

      The perfect pillow(s). Hubs is allergic to down. I found one on Amazon that is made of cut-up bits of memory foam and it is heaven. I also have a back-support pillow that I use when I sit up in bed to watch TV or read and ever since I had knee surgery I have used a pillow under my knees as well. SO much more comfortable.

      I have a steel-colored dispenser at my sink so we don’t have to keep the plastic bottle of dish soap on the counter. We also have glass canisters for coffee and we keep most of the small appliances (blender, food processor) in a cabinet so the counters aren’t too cluttered.

      Agree with pretty bowls or baskets to collect things you tend to drop on surfaces. I have a lovely red porcelain bowl on my desk for paper clips and other things. We have a glass bowl on our dining room sideboard for keys and charger cords and other miscellaneous small object and a large decorated china bowl that sits on the table and collects larger things like mail we haven’t dealt with yet. That’s also where the subscription and membership cards live – we dump them in the bowl when they come in the mail and dig them up when needed. I have a space in the closet where I can put the bowl when we have company. Easier than dealing with a random pile of papers on the table.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Came here to recommend Garnet Hill, too! Awesome towels and bedding and their January White Sale is fabulous. I have flannel sheets from them that do not age. And they have the fluffiest towels ever.

        I like Pre de Provence soaps for the bathroom and Dr. Bronner’s almond castile liquid soap in a pump at the sink. Nice scents, not too strong.

        Little luxuries are the best!

        1. pancakes*

          Yes to Garnet Hill, and the other brands you’ve mentioned.

          Beautyhabit is a great source for little luxury treats, and Vitacost has some great buys on medium-luxury hand soaps.

    5. Alex*

      I recently purchased on Amazon these towels “MOSOBAM 700 GSM Hotel Luxury Bamboo-Cotton, Bath Towels” and I loooove them. They are so soft and fluffy and nice.

    6. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I love the lotions and creams from N aked Bee — they smell super good and feel luxurious, especially the creams!

    7. Flash Packet*

      Functional nightlights that I enjoy looking at. I have two in the kitchen, one on either side of the sink: one is a salt lamp that I just really, really like the shape and color of (I have a thing for rocks); the other is a moon with bat hanging from a branch. They’re the perfect amount of brightness to let me find what I need after dark but not so bright as to mess up my night vision and tell my brain it’s time to wake up and get going.

      Sheets from Purple (the mattress company), their SoftStretch kind. Sleeps cool and soft and comfortable.

      Also, the Purple Harmony pillow — holy smokes is it comfortable! Just the right amount of soft squish paired with support; it’s worth ordering just to try it out. You can always send it back.

    8. Just Jo King*

      I love the lemon scented hand soap from Williams Sonoma. They also have a matching lemon scented hand lotion that is very nice. When we have visitors they always comment on how lemony good the soap smells!

      1. Flash Packet*

        I just ordered a soap-and-lotion duo based on your recommendation, Just Jo King. They better be good! ;-)

      2. Flash Packet*


        The soap and lotion arrived today and it is AMAZING.

        It’s fresh lemons and maybe a hint of something herbal, like basil. So it’s not a sweet lemon scent (which is great for me). Thanks for the recommendation, Just Jo King!

    9. DryRoasted*

      I use nest fragrances rose noir hand soap. It is heavenly! They also make candles that are great.

    10. WoodswomanWrites*

      I like hand-decorated light switch plates. I have one that’s a painting of a bald eagle in flight, so much nicer than the plain beige ones that came with my place.

  21. Anon5775*

    How did I only discover a Pullman bread loaf pan with a lid just now? I’ve baked bread in regular pans for a few years. Anyone have tips or recipes for me? Bonus if the bread is gluten free so my partner can eat it. Thanks in advance!

    1. BRR*

      I’ve also only recently gotten Pullman pans and love them. I got the bigger ones so I like being able to make a larger quantity of bread. King Arthur’s pain de mie recipe turned out well for me (unfortunately not gluten free).

  22. Anon for this*

    Not asking medical advice! More does anyone have good/bad experience with this?

    Lately I’ve been trying to find new mental health providers and it seems like they all practice some form of mindfulness. Like it’s the new big thing.

    Does anyone have any experience if this actually works or if it’s just the latest trendy thing?

    It’s kind of startling to ask a doctor how to handle something and they suggest doing a body scan to ground you.

    1. UKDancer*

      It doesn’t work for me but I’ve only encountered it at work where it’s become fashionable. Some people find it very helpful though. Personally I find trying to be still and focus on my breath and my body makes me hyperventilate because I obsess over whether I’m breathing right. I can feel in the moment and get the same results much better doing ballet. I’ve a colleague who absolutely loves it so I thin k it depends on the individual.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. Both times I’ve tried mindfulness I started to hyperventilate. I really can’t focus on just breathing. Before the pandemic, I used to do tai chi, and somehow the movements make it easier to breathe in a way that works with the moves. Yoga is not an option, because I can’t even sit cross-legged on the floor, and most of the asanas would be completely beyond my abilities.

    2. Bread Addict*

      Mindfulness can be good for getting in touch with how you are feeling. Sitting down and going what am I feeling, where is the feeling originating from in the body, where am I holding onto tension. Animals like cats (big and small) will literally shake their bodies after an intense or adrenaline fueled experience. To sort of literally shake it off. That can be beneficial to people as well. To shake off physical feelings of stress. To
      notice and unclench your jaw. Relax your shoulders. Etc. To tune into your heart rate and breathing and if you can slow it down if its fast. It can help in the moment.

      It can help with the physical symptoms of some aspects of mental health like anxiety. Which can potentially have some benefit back to you mentally. But its arguable how much benefit someone would get if they have clinical depression, bipolar, etc. It can be useful but I would personally say is not a substitute for talk therapy or medication (if desired). I personally view it as more of a complementary practice alongside medical/counselling support. Something to use between sessions rather than a treatment by itself.
      That being said if its just a very busy period at work but overall fine than maybe it could work. In the same way some people find Yoga or meditation to be helpful. I think it depends on your needs. I would discard it as just a trendy thing especially without giving it a try at least. But depending on your mental health history and needs it might not be suitable by itself. I hope that makes sense.

    3. Also Anon*

      Mindfulness was a life changer for my anxiety. (Not the body scan which I do not care for but several other techniques). Used with medication. Previous Cognitive Behavioral Therapy didn’t help. I think just as different diets work for different bodies (low fat vs keto for example) different therapies work for different minds. You could try mindfulness but know that there are other therapies if it is not for you.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      The counselor I saw through the cancer center did mindfulness (e.g. picture your body healing) for pre-surgical prep and it was very helpful. She was recommended by a bunch of other patients, and I had expected it to be mostly diet and exercise, but it was all mindfulness.

      I’ve struggled with anxiety since the cancer, so for me this turned out to be a really good fit. Also, she recommended I try about three different things (out of a far longer list she clearly had), based on her talking with me for an hour. One was a strong match, one medium, one ok. So it was very far from “Mindfulness is good, here is the one mindfulness exercise I have everyone do.”

    5. Decidedly Me*

      Most mindfulness practices tend to raise my anxiety, lol, so it’s not for me. However, I have friends that swear by it!

    6. Generic Name*

      I doubt it works for everyone. I will say that I think the name is terrible. I think it should be called “body awareness” or something. I think it can be helpful if you have a hard time identifying your emotions. Sometimes it’s easier to say, “my stomach feels tight” than “I’m feeling anxious.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Mindfulness is not new. It works for a lot of people but not for some. There are different ways to practice mindfulness. I hope you try several before giving up on it since it can be a great help.
      Best of Luck

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I use it as part of my meditation practice. It’s helped me learn how to take a moment to assess things instead of just freaking out.
      It’s a technique, like anything else, but it shouldn’t be the therapist’s ONLY focus. If it is, I’d try another therapist.

    9. AGD*

      My understanding from the doctors in my life is that the fundamental idea is evidence based, but this doesn’t mean that anyone advertising their services adheres to what’s been tested.

    10. Internist*

      Mindfulness has helped me with my anxiety, personally. But it took years and actually doing mindfulness exercises *with* my partner for me to actually get into it. Before that, I had tried it over and over and saw no benefit.

      I think there’s value to trying it, but if it’s not for you and you don’t feel it’s helping you, good mental health practitioners should be open to that and not push it on you.

    11. HannahS*

      It is evidence-based, but that doesn’t mean that it works for absolutely everyone. And yes, it is also a bit trendy in mental health right now. It goes in cycles. Everyone was into CBT for a while, now it’s mindfulness. It’s ok, both are good (as are many other things) but that’s probably why it feels like it’s everywhere. You’re welcome to try it, and if it’s not for you, you should be able to say so. A competent therapist should have other tools in their toolbox to offer you.

  23. Hotdog not dog*

    I didn’t see a Small Joys thread yet, so I hope I’m not duplicating…what are everyone’s small joys this week?
    I had an omelet with eggs from my neighbor’s chickens and fresh herbs and asparagus from my garden for breakfast today. Yum!

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Small joy for me is that my roses have come out and they are spectacular! My garden, which is a tiny 0.5m x 1m space in my front yard, is looking pretty good and I’m grateful I’ve put the effort in.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      This probably requires some background. I have had my 3rd years (around 15 years old) for the three years they’ve been in secondary school. We will not be a group next year as in Ireland, students can choose various pathways after 3rd year and the group have made different choices. I bought them small presents – literally costing a total of €1.50 per person – a pen and a few highlighters that could be stacked like Lego bricks, to mark the end of our three years together. They were delighted, spent the class period playing with them and thanked me numerous times.

    3. Laura H.*

      I hadn’t seen one as I was typing mine- my bad!

      Seeing this thread wanted always gives me joy.

    4. Rara Avis*

      Retrieved my kid from their 8th grade trip to DC and they were chatty all the way home from the airport so we heard lots of good stories about the trip.

    5. GoryDetails*

      A thunderstorm moving in! I love thunderstorms – although they can have unfortunate side effects, so I’ve just been covering the recently-planted vegetable seedlings so that if the threatened heavy-rain-and-small-hail materializes they won’t take too much damage. (That doesn’t sound all that joyful, but I really do love thunderstorms – the sudden shift from sunny-and-hot to increasingly-dark-and-cool as the front moves in, the distant rumblings turning into major crash-and-booms, lightning when I can glimpse it from under all the trees…)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      My (temporary) Place We Do Not Discuss on Weekends included me in the lunch orders and Friday breakfast. It’s not like it cost them extra; I’m subbing for someone who’s on vacation, but it was nice to be included. Usually the temp doesn’t get anything.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I have about 100 voter turnout postcards to send out next month and finished a big chunk of them today! My preschooler put on the stamps :) This was an especially hard week so it felt good to take action, no matter how small.

    8. Pam*

      A fancy Asian doughnut store just opened downtown. We stopped in and got lovely fresh-made doughnuts!

    9. The OG Sleepless*

      This might be too big to be a small joy, but I had my floors refinished a couple of weeks ago. They are a darker color that is more on trend now and they are in vastly better shape. I knew I didn’t like the way the floors looked, but I underestimated just how much I was going to like having them look this good. It cost a good bit less than I was expecting, too (which is why I’d been putting it off for so long).

    10. allathian*

      Celebrating our son’s 13th birthday with both sides of the family. Because it was cool and rainy, we celebrated indoors. It’s the first big family celebration we’ve had indoors since Christmas 2019. Last year the end of May was much warmer, so we had an outdoor party.

  24. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I had to laugh at myself on Thursday- I was a day ahead of myself all day! Kept having to remind myself “not Friday today!”

    Please share your joys, big or small.

    1. fposte*

      I’m going to go with a current unexpected silliness. There is a stubborn Great Pyrenees who does not like walks who is currently peacefully lying down in front of my house, while her frustrated owner attempts to get her to move. She’s been there at least five minutes now. I checked to make sure the pup was okay, and the owner says she does it all the time and there’s a whole text thread of ideas to move her along. Owner also has a lab mix in tow who finds this all terribly exciting!

      1. Reba*

        Ha! I always enjoy seeing a neighbor dog who, when asked by his person to leave the park, flops down dramatically as if onto a fainting couch. Then he has to be carried out with his hammy bulldog legs in the air.

      2. Unum Hoc Scio*

        My daughter’s Pyrenees mix does exactly this! Soooo funny! When I’m the one walking her, I play Pokémon or read a book on my iPhone.

    2. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I got to hang out with a good friend last night at a restaurant in town while her husband played acoustic guitar for the other patrons. It was such a pleasant experience!

    3. UKDancer*

      I had a haircut. I always feel so much better with my hair done.

      Also today I had the cleaner which always feels indulgent but makes me so happy to see everything clean and smelling of domestos.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I made cream of mushroom soup pretty much from scratch without having to look up the recipe again, and it came out delicious! And I was very proud that the roux I made as the base worked well — I have been working on learning how to make a roux correctly.

    5. beentheredonethat*

      I made a major mistake instead of paying 63.14 I paid 6,314 on a virtual bill. The city sent it back and politely told me they thought I made a mistake. I emailed and thanked them and paid the correct amount. This is possibly a big joy.

    6. CTT*

      My local lower-league soccer team won their game tonight and there were fireworks afterwards! Weird how a little (and yet very loud) thing can be so much fun.

    7. The Dude Abides*

      My joy came today.

      I got a rugby refereeing assignment (assistant for the HS girls’ state championship) that didn’t require me to be on the road at dawn, so I got to enjoy breakfast with the family before the long drive.

      The match and everything surrounding it was a refreshing reminder of why I love the game and the “local” community I am involved with. The game itself was great to watch for the entire 70 minutes, the fans (90% were on my half of the paddock) were audibly into it, I got to catch up with people I’ve known for years, and the social afterwards was tremendous. 1-2 parents tried to give the center ref some stick, but I shut them down quick and even landed a zinger that got an audible response from those in earshot.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      My friend celebrated a milestone birthday and invited me to her party but I had a conflict I couldn’t reschedule. Instead, I took her out to dinner and she really appreciated our having one on one time. Me too.

  25. Anony*

    Tl;Dr: my wife wants a third child, I do not. How do we navigate this?

    We have a 2.5 and a 1 year old. We regularly move internationally for my work, and fortunately my wife doesn’t have to work. The constant moving is stressful. While in some places we can afford a nanny, where we’re going next, we cannot. We have put our older child into daycare before to help take some burden off. I regularly cook a few times a week, have a job that often requires 9 or 10 hour days, and often don’t have time anymore to exercise. She does probably about half to the quarters of the housework.

    Marriage wise, we definitely have communication issues. We were in counseling before, but she’s not interested in going back. I suffer from what I think is depression and am in counseling. I suspect my wife suffers from depression too, but she won’t go to a counselor nor seek one out. I have attempted to help her find one, but she has refused my help. We suffer from other marriage issues, but I think the biggest issue really is poor communication. An example is my wife will post things she doesn’t like about me on Facebook but will not talk to me directly about them.

    I’ve tried to express to my wife that I feel stretched too thin. The work requires I do a lot of the legwork to move us, but she gets so stressed out by the moving that she won’t help with the things she’s capable of doing. We’ve talked about my finding another job, but she doesn’t want to go back to work. So we’re stuck here for now.

    I feel guilty about putting my older child into daycare, and am the one that takes care of him morning until bed. He often asks for his mom, but I’ll generally have to take care of him. I know my wife feels guilty, but nothing really changes.

    I can’t handle the parental load of another child. I think we’re stretched thin enough as it is. I’ve gone through major depressive episodes after the birth of our other children, to the point where I feared I was becoming suicidal. I don’t want that again. My wife is often critical and struggles to compliment me. Especially when we’ve had newborns.

    I’m not sure what to do here. Any suggestions?

    1. Chestnut Mare*

      I do not think you should have another child; your relationship quite frankly isn’t healthy for the children you currently have.

      Make sure you are 100% responsible for birth control, no exceptions.

      I wish you the best. Parenting littles is tough on even the healthiest of relationships.

    2. WellRed*

      Your wife sounds insufferable. I’m glad you are in counseling. Please no more kids. Does your wife know how unhappy you are? Is it time to lay it all out? Separate? If she won’t go to counseling and posts on FB rather than communicating directly, well…

    3. fposte*

      I’m sorry; it sounds like you’re in a tough place right now.

      Obviously you don’t want to bring another child into this, but is there any way of asking her nondefensively, in a quiet moment, to talk about what having a third child means to her? Does she have a vision of a big happy family with a pile of kids? Does she love being pregnant? Is there something about having a baby in the house that makes her feel complete or validated or something else rewarding? I’m thinking that for the sake of your marriage and your other kids it would be helpful to get past the stalemate of “I need this!” “I need not to have this!” and into what’s going on behind both your positions. I realize that somebody who refuses to go to counseling might not be on board for that kind of conversation, but you might as well at least try it.

      1. Anony*

        Thanks all.
        I want to be fair, it’s not that I’m without fault. I struggle with criticism and will sometimes ruminate on my own criticisms of my wife. She also tends to go nuclear on me. It’s not a good cycle. I also notice our older child copying this behavior.
        I really don’t want to separate.
        My wife really wants a daughter and we have two sons. She’s also older, so there is a clock ticking. I don’t mind a third child, but I cannot handle a third right now for sure. I feel like there’s simply too much on me, right now, to do a third. I don’t want to discount the load on her either; I think it would be an incredible amount. We couldn’t afford for the next 2 years the help we would need to simply keep things going.

        There definitely is a larger communication issue. I really don’t like what we’re demonstrating to our two kids right now.

        1. Janet Pinkerton*

          My aunt really wanted a daughter. They had four boys. They considered trying again!!! Luckily they stopped before having a fifth boy.

          Honestly, they ended up divorced. Idk just take care of yourself.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My aunt and uncle had a fourth aiming for a boy. It was a girl.

            Fifth was a boy. And I think they might have not tried for six–but they had five in a two bedroom house, so who knows.

          2. Firebird*

            The neighbors kept giving condolences to my dad when daughter number 5 was born. He finally said that he was glad it wasn’t a boy, because with 4 older sisters, we would be putting bows in his hair.

        2. waffles*

          I applaud you for your even-handed analysis of the issues in your marriage. It is difficult to function in a relationship when both people are struggling. I hope you will continue to be objective and hold your boundaries for what is healthiest for you and your current children – I encourage you to not have a third child at this time.

          My partner and I have been together over 30 years and have 3 young adult children, and we spent 4 years in marriage counseling in the middle and just managed to avoid divorce. We are happy and stable now. I remember how incredibly hard the toddler years were. Please, please do not have any more kids until she is participating in counseling with you and conditions have improved. It is not easy to add a third child to the mix, it becomes much exponentially harder when you can’t each be responsible for one little person.

          The part about “wanting a girl”… our culture is quite focused on gender roles for children. What does this really mean to her? A “mini-me”? Stereotypical pink clothes, crafts, dance classes? People are born with their own inborn personality traits, and even if she has a girl, she may have a girl who wants to wear ripped jeans, play football, and play Fortnite for hours. The baby’s genitals will tell you very little about their personality, and as we know now, the baby born appearing to be a girl may voice the opinion that she is actually a boy, and transition when she is able to do so. Children are not born with a guarantee that they will be like their parents or meet their expectations.

          1. Anony*

            I think she really just wants to be the kind of mom to a girl that she wishes her mom had the time for. Her mom was very kind, but far too busy so my wife, as the middle of five, was often lost in the goings-on of her family. It’s the cute girl clothes as a baby too that she’s into.

        3. Batgirl*

          Well, nobody wants to separate! However we all have a “if x happens, I would separate” and sometimes it helps communication if you know where your line is. It simply isn’t healthy to decide you would never separate, no matter what, because it means you have no boundaries at all and soon your inner self worth will start to make you pay for that. Would your line be physical abuse? Angry outbursts? Lack of something critical you need? Or would it simply be if the status quo settled into something that clearly is designed to never change or get better? Your life is in danger here so you do need to know where the exits are, as a safety measure, even if you don’t use them or want to. From there, you need to tell your partner (with your counselor’s guidance) what your bare minimums are for staying in this marriage, because your life is at risk. It doesn’t sound like she had any idea of your limits because she thought you had the capacity for another child. It’s true people sometimes dismiss us and turn us down when we are in great need, but we still need to ask for their help before deciding that they’re not going to.

        4. Venus*

          With two boys you are very likely to have another boy. The chemistry between your bodies, both of you, says that the Y sperm can move faster in her body. It is possible to have a girl, but I wouldn’t count on it.

            1. AGD*

              Agree. The chances of having a boy and then another boy are about 25% – you’d need a much longer chain to suspect that something’s up, and even then it still might be chance.

      2. Anony*

        Add-on: I haven’t been explicit that I’m worried about how I think I was becoming suicidal. I’ve been thinking it’s a heavy burden to put on a spouse, which is why I haven’t been explicit. I’m still on the fence about bring that clear, partly from fear that it might be thrown at me later. She hasn’t done that before, so I probably am not being fair to get, but it’s what’s going on

        1. waffles*

          Hugs to you, Anony.

          Being absolutely transparent about your needs will help everyone make better decisions. Right now she does not know how you actually feel, and so is working using her own assumptions, which are not true. I strongly encourage you to work with your own therapist to figure out how to bring more truth and transparency to your relationship. Hiding feelings from your partner will slowly kill the relationship.

        2. Batgirl*

          The word burden got me thinking and I didn’t respond to you immediately because I couldn’t put my finger exactly on what seemed inaccurate about it. It’s true that people burden their partners with their mental health sometimes, but I don’t think it’s true for you. You are working on yourself, seeing a professional and setting healthy boundaries about what you can cope with. You are clearly willing to take responsibility for yourself. This is not something you are placing upon her, and you can let her know what’s going on, the same way you could with any other health issue. You’re being very harsh on yourself, and if anything, taking on too much burden yourself.

      3. MEH Squared*

        This is a really thoughtful response, with which I agree. It sounds, Anony, from your comments that your wife is longing for a connection with a daughter to ‘be the mother she never had’ (to a daughter). But, and I say this gently, she is already struggling with the children you have; adding more to the mix will only make things worse.

        You sound like a thoughtful and introspective person. The fact that you acknowledge your own shortcomings is a positive. However, it is concerning that your wife is putting so much pressure on you in various aspects of your life. I don’t get the sense if you’re seeing a therapist yourself or not. If not, I suggest you do. If so, I urge you to be brutally open with them about what you’re experiencing.

        I think you and your wife need to focus on the issues in your relationship and the children you already have. You are both overwhelmed, depressed, and unhappy now. Even if your wife won’t dig down and figure out what’s going on with herself, you can do that for yourself.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      If part of a couple doesn’t want a kid, the couple can’t have a kid, end of story. You can’t compromise on making another human. Even if you both wanted another one, it doesn’t sound like your relationship/family is in the right place for it. Make sure when you talk about it you don’t make it sound like “when xyz problems are solved we can have another baby” – the baby issue and the marriage issue are two separate problems.

    5. Good luck :(*

      The right number of kids to have is the smallest number that both parents can agree on having. I’m in the opposite position that you are – I wanted one more child, my partner didn’t. We didn’t have another child, and that was the right decision. I’m sad about it, but managing my feelings about living the best life I had available to me instead of my perfect scenario life is part of being an adult in the world, and something that is appropriately done with support from family and friends and counselling as needed, not by creating another human person.

      The current state of your marriage also sounds like it’s presenting some barriers to happiness for both of you right now, so that sounds like something it might be sensible to focus on dealing with. If my spouse was trash talking me on social media while refusing to engage with me at home and criticizing me when I was so unwell I was contemplating suicide, I would consider that an emergency in my life to be dealt with and resolved ASAP. Especially if I was noticing my kid picking up unhealthy behaviours.

    6. Anonthistime*

      I don’t think it was clear you are getting help for yourself. Please do so immediately. Your work may have an eap. Get into your own counselor. Talk to a crisis line while your are waiting.
      It’s a short one sided letter but it sounds like she is disengaged from the older child to the point he notices. This could be emotionally abusive behavior. It sounds like she is home and just leaves the care of this one to you. That must feel awful to that small child. Again there could be differences if it’s once a week while she is preoccupied by something else.
      The push for a girl child is problematic too. What if it’s a boy. What if it’s a girl that doesn’t meet her expectations. These kids are carrying a lot.

    7. Not A Manager*

      “Two yesses, one no.” You’re a no. Absolutely do not have another child with her at this time. Be sure you are using birth control and backup birth control.

    8. Squirrel Nutkin*

      No struggling relationship gets *better* with another child in the mix. I agree that you should take all precautions (vasectomy, if you’re feeling up to it?) so that you don’t have to deal with this added stress while you’re trying to work on your mental health and marriage and already juggling too much to do with work and the kids you have. Please take as good care of yourself as you are able in this very difficult situation.

    9. Unkempt Flatware*

      Please don’t have this child. I’m the not-100%-wanted child and it showed all my life. Only have kids when every cell in your body aches for it.

    10. Macaroni Penguin*

      Okay wow, it sounds like there’s a lot on your plate. I’m sorry that there are so many struggles. And you’re doing so many things right (like counseling). I just wanted to say you’re an awesome human!

      It sounds like having another kid would stretch y’all too thin. Why does your wife want another baby? They’re cute but….?
      Anyway, just focus on the facts that y’all don’t have the financial or emotional capacity to handle another kid. And keep repeating that focus. How does she respond when you bring those facts up? Children deserve to have enough resources and enthusiasm from their parents.

    11. Swisa*

      I would insist on counseling. I would perhaps consider a vasectomy if you could foresee your wife secretly ditching birth control.

      You can’t have a second child if you both are not on the same page. And if your wife isn’t willing to address her mental health issues it just seems like a terrible idea.

    12. Flash Packet*

      If your wife won’t consider counseling (and therefore probably also won’t consider medication for herself, if needed?) then a third child should be a non-starter. The dynamics you have now in the relationship will only intensify and get worse with each added stressor.

      I am not internet diagnosing here but sharing my personal experience: The dynamics you describe — one partner being the backbone / mortar / glue / do-er in the relationship and the other person being overwhelmed to the point of going nuclear (and unable to make changes when their partner becomes suicidal) — sounds like my relationship with my ex. He has ADHD, which went undiagnosed and untreated until he was in his 40’s.

      It might help *you* to look at a book called “Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD?” and see if it rings true for your marriage.

      And whether it’s ADHD or something else, I’m not sure any relationship can thrive when one of the partners insists everything is a You problem. At the very least, I hope you seek counseling for yourself and practice judicious self-care, including talking to your doctor about antidepressants.

      Also, if there is some mental issue underlying this (with her, with you, or both), “improving communication” won’t work. At best, it’s a band-aid on a life-threatening wound.

    13. [REDACTED]*

      Your post definitely threw me for a loop, because I could have written a lot of it about my own relationship.

      My career pays enough that my wife can stay home with our two kids under 5, but my job is an intense one with workdays averaging 10-12 hrs and an occasional 15-20 hr day. On top of that, I handle all home and outdoor maintenance/repairs, about 3/4 of the cleaning, 1/2 of the cooking, and 1/4 of the childcare.

      The TL;DR of our situation is: My wife is a well-intentioned person, but struggles with basic tasks and time management, won’t work outside the home anymore, explicitly refuses to learn new skills, and won’t engage with me in discussing our relationship issues. I love her and love our kids, but she’s constantly on edge, can be emotionally abusive, and has been physically violent on occasion (to me, not the kids as far as I know). I’m not blameless on our poor communication – I’m stretched thin, burnt out, and tired, so there’s times I do a poor job of hiding my frustration with her.

      I don’t know that I have much to offer in the way of advice, because I’m still figuring a lot of things out myself. I would say that I don’t think the question of whether or not to have another kid is the core of the problem. Couples can and do disagree on having kids or having more kids, but that’s a conflict that should be addressed by an open conversation where each partner respects the other’s perspective and they both work to find a resolution. Based on your post, it sounds like that’s the conversation you’re trying to have, but your wife isn’t willing or able to engage in that discussion right now.

      From my perspective, your wife’s resistance to counseling, the Facebook posts in lieu of talking to you, her detachment from the day-to-day of raising your older child, and her resistance to complimenting/validating you sound concerning. I know you don’t want to separate – that’s the same decision I’ve made for now – but do ask yourself whether the current status quo is one you can live with for the rest of your life and act accordingly. The decision to have another child is up to you, but from an outsider’s point of view, don’t even consider it until the two of you have worked out some of the other issues in your relationship.

      If it means anything coming from a random Internet stranger, I’m sorry you’re going through this and I wish you and your family the best. Hopefully you and your wife are able to work through this and come out stronger in the end (third kid or not), but in the end look out for your own and your two boys’ best interests first and foremost.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’m sorry that you are dealing with this and I don’t want to pile on, but if a woman posted saying that her husband had been emotionally and physically abusive to her but she didn’t think he was hurting the kids, I (and most people) would beg her to not to take that for granted. Violence against another human being is a major threshold, and once it is crossed it always escalates and spreads unless it is addressed directly.

        I hope you all stay safe and things work out well for your family.

        1. [REDACTED]*

          I appreciate the perspective and unfortunately agree with you. While I’ve never witnessed my wife physically abuse our kids, I’m obviously out of the house a lot with workdays between 10 and 20 hours, and there have been some incidents/injuries that have happened while I’m out that don’t 100% add up when she tells me the story behind them. I have seen her veer into emotionally abusive territory with them. It’s gutting to see. I was on the receiving end of a lot of abuse as a child, and know the lasting impact it can have.

          Like the OP though, I feel stuck. My income is decent and financially sustains our family; I’m not stuck on gender roles and have repeatedly offered to stay at home with the kids while my wife works, but she refuses to pursue a job. My decision not to separate comes down to the fact that I’m unlikely to ever see my kids again following a divorce – her family is very wealthy and very toxic, and while they don’t support us financially now, they’ll absolutely use their resources to protect their children and isolate their partners during a divorce (I’ve seen this play out multiple times with her siblings).

          As things stand, since I’m still in their lives I can at least protect my kids from this to some degree. Ideally my wife and I will repair our relationship – she has positive qualities and I do love her – but at this point I don’t know what the right answer is.

          1. MEH Squared*

            I’m so sorry you’re going through this as well. Her family having money complicates matters, but it does sound as if you have reasons to worry that she’s abusing your kids. The hotline for domestic abuse 800-799-7233; they might have some suggestions for you. If you can afford counseling on your own (not with your wife because that’s not recommended in relationships where abuse may be occurring), I would highly recommend you see a therapist.

            Hoping that you’ll find some relief soon for you and your kids.

          2. RagingADHD*

            What a nightmarish situation. I hope you are able to make a plan to keep yourself and your kids safe. I know it is never easy or straightforward. There are a number of DV organizations that have begun making a point of being inclusive to men dealing with violence at home, hotline dot org is one.

            You can also talk to your kids’ doctor about your concerns. They are mandatory reporters.

          3. Batgirl*

            Do you have any hidden savings? Copies of yours and your children’s papers? Have you sought legal advice? I’m not suggesting you leave, and completely hear you about the difficulties of leaving, but you seem to be in the type of situation that could change quickly and I know other people who have benefitted from having some “just in case” preparations in place when trying to leave a powerful person. Other than that, just my best wishes for your happiness and safety.

      2. Anony*

        I’m sorry you’re going through this too. Please, as best you can, take care of yourselves too. I understand how you can love someone who also seems to really struggle to help and be a part of the relationship.

        I have a friend I’ve confided in who thinks my wife is being emotionally abusive. I don’t know about that, but I do know that she swings and would really do well to steady herself out. Looking at her family, I suspect a history of mental illness that… I fear she may suffer from. Her father, certainly, was abusive and did her few favors. It’s hard to see how deep the damage goes before really living with someone for awhile

        I appreciate knowing someone else in this situation.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      Oh, man. I’m sorry you’re in this spot.
      Please don’t have another kid right now. Take steps to make sure there’s no oopsie since your wife wants one and is dismissive of your feelings and needs.
      My aunt floored me when she said it was time for her and my uncle to “either have another kid or get divorced”. She got both. It was a mess.
      Sending my best thoughts and wishes to you.

    15. RagingADHD*

      I am so sorry you are dealing with all this. And whatever your wife has going on, I am sorry for her too. Certainly, a third child is not going to help anything when you are both so overwhelmed with two already. Y’all both need marriage counseling, very very much. This relationship is not working in its current state, and TBH things cannot go on like they are long term. Either something has to shift, or there will be no marriage left. You can’t function in a relationship with your partner acting this way and refusing to get help.

      It is also not good for your kids. If you work 9-10 hour days, what is Mom doing with your eldest when he’s not in daycare? How is she treating him? Given the things you’re saying I am very concerned for his emotional wellbeing.

      It sounds like your wife is stuck in some magical thinking about having another baby. She imagines it would be a girl. She imagines it will make her feel connected and satisfy something her own relationship with her mother did not. She imagines she would not be lonely.

      None of that is real. I have 2 girls, and while it helped me *understand* my mother, it did not in any way replace the things that I didn’t get from my mother. The opposite in fact, because babies can’t provide emotional support to their parents. I had to get those needs met elsewhere, so that I could give more to my kids than I received.

      If you wife is lonely, she needs grownups to connect with, not babies and toddlers. Being a stay at home mom is isolating (especially when you’re constantly moving) and having another baby is just going to make it worse.

      Please continue with your own therapy, especially because of the suicidal thoughts. You are valuable and needed in this world, and there are so many things worth living for. You deserve to be cared for and helped, because you are worth it. You matter.

      Please also make sure that there is zero chance of impregnating your wife. Do not rely on her for ensuring birth control. It’s awful to be in a situation without trust, but the things you’re describing make me think she might not be making good decisions right now.

      You may need to start making some difficult decisions about what you will do if she continues to refuse therapy/marriage counseling. You can work that out with your own therapist. Maybe if there were another job that allowed you both to put down roots, and/or allowed you to work less, it would be a good thing. But of course you still have to provide for your family. Maybe the boundary you need to set is that you will both have to cut back your lifestyle to allow for a less demanding job. But again, you can’t make constructive decisions as a family unless both partners are participating.

      I’m very sorry and hope something turns in a positive direction for you soon.

    16. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. It sounds like a really tough situation. But in all honesty, if one person doesn’t want a child, then its non-negotiable. It’s not fair to the other person and it’s not fair on the child to be the “rescue” child. I desperately want/ed a second one but my husband did/does not so the conversation ends right there.

    17. Anony*

      For the folks worried about birth control, that isn’t an issue. Intimacy is another problem in our marriage. But I think communication is a larger issue, and I simply can’t fathom trying to tackle it again after being called some rather… Nasty things when I was trying to target once a week for us to carve out time to be intimate.

      1. [REDACTED]*

        Sorry dude. If it helps, there’s more of us out there dealing with similar things. I’m watching this thread too because at this point I don’t have any more answers for my own situation.

    18. Anono-me*

      I am very worried about you and your family. It sounds like your wife is in a very bad place and that is having a horrible impact you and your children. I am glad that you are in therapy.

      If you are not dealing with a counselor who is knowledgeable about abuse, please consider adding or switching to one.

      Please look at the divorce and custody laws in both your current country of residence and the country you are planning to move to.

      You mention your wife is feeling like her biological clock is ticking fast. While I am in absolutely no way advocating another child; I do wonder if egg freezing (and egg only) would be a possibility and a way to take that specific pressure off of her and possibly create a space where you can convince her to go to therapy.(Does the current country have lower medical costs?)

      Sending hopeful thoughts in your general direction.

    19. Courageous cat*

      … divorce your wife? Forget the next kid, what are you even getting out of this marriage? She doesn’t sound like a good partner to you at all.

      1. Flash Packet*

        Most people want to believe that the person they married is a good person with good intentions and they would prefer to try to rebuild / save the marriage (especially when young children are involved) than to just say, “Fuck it, I’m outta here.”

        FWIW, when I was struggling in my relationship with my ex, literally the least helpful comments / suggestions / replies whenever I reached out for help were, “DTMFA.” It felt dismissive and definitely made me leave several [supposed] support groups, because what was the point of asking for help — even if that just means asking to be heard and validated — if all I got back was “Leave him.”

        The support group I stayed in has lots of parents in it. One thing the parents in the group agonize over is, “Yes, my spouse isn’t much of a partner to me, nor is s/he much of a parent to our children; but divorcing them won’t suddenly make them a perfect parent — let alone a perfect co-parent — and my children will truly suffer if I’m not there to intervene.”

        So they ask for help to find a way to keep themselves sane and healthy while they support and caretake everyone in the household, including the other adult. They have weighed all the options and decided that the least-worst one is to stay in the marriage, practice judicious self-care, be there for the children, and mitigate the harm their spouse causes to the children, finances, and the relationships.

        Advice that person needs — actionable, helpful advice — is not, “Why are you even still married to this person?”

    20. Salymander*

      This sounds like a really tough situation. I think you are right to not want to have more children. It is not good for you and it probably won’t be good for your children either. With two parents stretched thin, the oldest kids end up with the short end of the stick. My child’s friend is the oldest of four kids, and she is drafted to babysit most evenings and every weekend and has been since she was quite young. She is allowed to spend the night at our house maybe every 2 months or so, and that is really her only time off. Her parents are not terrible people really, they are just overwhelmed and working a ton of hours and they kept trying to have a boy but had three girls first. The oldest takes care of the younger ones and the rest run wild because they don’t respect their sister’s authority and their parents are exhausted all the time.

      When my child was young, we were trying to have another baby. I had a number of health problems resulting in some serious but mostly temporary mobility issues, postpartum depression, PTSD from a childhood trauma, several miscarriages and a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that almost killed me. I finally decided that it was irresponsible to keep trying for a second child. Better to be there to raise the child I have than to die while trying for another, thus leaving my child without a mother. And that is what I tell all the nosy parkers who get judgemental about my choice. That was also what I said to my husband. Fortunately, he agreed with me, but was really obviously sad until I told him that my life was at stake and he needed to face up to that and be supportive because otherwise he would no longer have a wife. Sometimes people just need to be told.

      You are at the very edge of your capacity to function. It is ok to tell your wife this. It is also ok to get a vasectomy. Women who are in strained marriages are often told to be very careful about their birth control, because accidents happen. The same applies to you. And sometimes those accidents are not accidents, really. A pregnancy can be used to force partners in a difficult relationship to stay together. Sometimes this is overtly manipulative, by tampering with birth control or coercing a partner into unprotected sex. Other times, the partner might just get sloppy and careless about it. If your marriage is om the rocks and you are this overwhelmed, being very careful about birth control is the smart thing to do. I’m not saying that your wife will try to baby trap you. I just think that getting a lot of counselling, both individually and as a couple, is necessary before you bring any more kids into the family. If your wife is being emotionally abusive to you and you are seriously depressed, you will probably be better off with individual counseling first. Please be very, very clear about this with your wife.

      Take care of yourself. I hope things improve soon. Putting your child in daycare is fine, and will help you to be a better and more healthy and rested parent. Get some therapy so that you have an outside perspective on things. Be gentle with yourself.

    21. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      The no always wins in this scenario, no matter the yes’s feelings about it. If you’re not on board with another child, make certain there can be no slip ups or oops in this. She cannot foist more responsibility on you.

  26. Food Storage Faves*

    Does anyone have recommendations for good food storage containers for leftovers? I’m tired of the random mismatched containers that seem to breed indiscriminately. Thanks!

    1. BRR*

      I bought several glass ones from the container store and have been incredibly happy with them. I like having a matching set and that the glass doesn’t stain. They’re airtight and I have had no issues storing soup in them and bringing them to work (aka no spillage).

    2. Paris Geller*

      My husband and I got some as a gift from Target off our wedding registry a few months ago, and we’ve been so pleased with them! They’re the rubbermaid 10pc leak proof with air tight lids (I’ll put link in a reply comment). We particularly like the lids–as long as you close them, those things aren’t gonna have a single leak.

    3. Reba*

      I have and recommend the Pop It glass containers. They are great! I felt rich when I first got a matching set of containers, lol. Plastic ones I had previously from Oxo and Ikea never seemed to hold up that well. The glass ones are heavy if you are carrying them to work however.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My husband has never felt so wealthy as the day we threw out all the old mismatched containers and replaced them with a new set. Whatever the grocery store had–not fancy, just every square lid fits every square container.

    5. Girasol*

      I’ve been avoiding plastic containers and I do canning, so I do a lot with canning jars. I use all regular-mouth jars so that my collection of saved mayonnaise jar lids can close all of them: quarts, pints, or half pints. A lot of foods can be microwaved right in them. You mustn’t can with scavenged lids, of course, but they’re handy to close a jar of leftovers or an open jar of homemade jam when its proper Ball cap and ring have been unsealed.

    6. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Mr. Lid (TM) containers have the lids attached so that you can never lose them! They are a little more difficult to open than some other containers, though. mrlid dot com

    7. All Monkeys are French*

      If you are alright with plastic, get Cambros from a restaurant supply place. They aren’t expensive and they’ll last forever.

    8. pancakes*

      We bought square glass containers with snap-on lids (each side of the lid snaps down separately, if that makes sense, and some of the lids have a hole in the top that opens with a snap as well, to let out steam on the microwave) from Ocean State Joblot, and they’re great. They’re heavy glass and have held up really well.

    9. Filosofickle*

      After a few years with OXO Good Grip Smart Seal Glass containers, I could not recommend them more highly. I don’t like to handwash and I don’t like how plastic gets weird in the dishwasher so I switched to glass. I do keep some of the ziploc round plastic containers with blue screwtop lids for odd things and soups. I like those.

    10. Lunch brigade*

      I have some glass Pyrex containers in rectangular shapes that work well for larger portions. For most leftovers I’ve been using deli containers, which have been light, durable, and have interchangeable round lids!

  27. Nervous Writer*

    I have recently decided to do hand-written journaling in order to deal with my anxiety problems I have been experiencing. My anxiety is mostly from having secrets, not being able to express myself in front of my family, frustrations with my lack of job skills, lack of peers, etc.

    As I write I sometimes also feel anxiety and hesitance as I feel that sometimes it is hard to write down my own faults that a lot of time further exacerbate my anxieties. But I know I need to find a way to put my thoughts out, so I can better arrange my thoughts and better understand the source of my anxiety. I can’t go to therapy clinics because I live in a household that don’t believe in psychological health (yes, I know this is hard).

    I wanted to know if there’s tips or helpful advice for journaling for sorting out anxieties and other emotional distresses, and which can help me understand why I feel a certain way.

    1. fposte*

      A few things come to mind. First, are you using a template? Sometimes getting prompts instead of a blank page is helpful. Another is have you tried speech to text instead of typing? Sometimes that can break the writerly focus on perfectionism.

      But another question I have is why you think it’s important to write down faults. I’m not sure that severity towards oneself is particularly helpful for your anxiety, or that that framework is particularly useful. I wonder if that’s part of your anxiety rather than helping with your anxiety. What if you just skipped the faults part for awhile and wrote about your feelings, just as a test, to see if that works better?

      1. Batgirl*

        Yeah that jumped out at me too. It’s not a category that I would even consider if I were writing for emotional release. I might write out my feelings, or goals, or frustrations. Secrets can be satisfying to burn as a way of releasing them. If I were looking to feel more positive, I might write a gratitude diary, or about hopes and plans. It’s important to know one’s faults, but dwelling on them and writing them down seem counterproductive unless its phrased as a positive goal. So, for example if you think you’re too passive, make it a small goal to be more assertive occasionally etc. However you need to be heavy on the positive or there’s a danger it will turn into insulting oneself.

        1. Cordelia*

          yes I don’t think writing down your faults is going to help very much – I’m guessing that you already spend enough time thinking about these (that’s what anxiety does to us). I like Batgirl’s ideas, and agree that mixing it up is probably the way to go – review your day, note “small joys”, as in the regular thread here, think of things you’d like to learn about or do, write down the things you are worried about (sometimes they seem less important when written down, or you might find, with distance, another way of looking at them)
          You might want to look at some CBT techniques as well as your journalling, there are a lot of self-help guides online, as well as various journalling prompts which might make it easier to get started. With the prompts, perhaps set a time limit and just write what comes to mind, don’t edit or worry about your spelling or grammar.
          I’m sorry you are having such a hard time and that it’s difficult for you to get support. I wish you all the best

    2. Reba*

      You might look at The Anti-Anxiety Notebook. It’s like guided journaling, somewhere in between a free journal and a workbook. Since it has prompts and questions, perhaps the structure would help with getting over the hesitation you feel, and ordering your thoughts. It also has a basic intro to cognitive behavioral therapy, and some therapy tools like an feelings wheel (to help name and specify one’s emotions) included.
      It has the name on the cover, but you could maybe cover it with cloth or another book’s dust jacket around your family?

    3. PollyQ*

      Two things:
      1) I hear mixed reviews of online therapy, but it might be worth looking into as a way to get some professional help in a private way.
      2) Speaking as someone who’s dealing with anxiety, I’m not sure you’ve got the cause & effect right on your issues & their root. I would bet that it’s not that your secrets, inability to express yourself, job skills, etc. that are causing your anxiety. It’s probably your anxiety that’s causing all thouse issues, at least in part.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Try doodling to start putting marks on paper. A blank paper can be intimidating. Just draw aimlessly for a few minutes and see if that’s useful to you. Drawing might be a better outlet for you than writing – or maybe a combination of the two.
      Sending my best

    5. pancakes*

      I haven’t tried journaling as a structured activity, though I did keep a journal for many years off and on. It sounds like you are only writing negative things, like faults, and I think you should journal things that give you pleasure as well if you want to make a habit of it. Even if there wasn’t something during your day that fits the bill, you could maybe make a list of movies you loved, places that you want to visit someday, etc.

  28. Old Car*

    Does anyone else have an old, not-great-condition car they plan on keeping for as long as possible?

    I’m asking because my car is from 2000. (I bought it several years ago when I needed to immediately replace another car that was totaled in a car accident–it was what I could afford to buy outright with the insurance payout.) It has a lot of rust issues and clear coat damage, so it honestly looks bad and I imagine there will be a big repair cost at some point. But it functions fine as far as getting me where I need to go, gets pretty good gas mileage, and I keep it clean. Although I’m not thrilled about the condition/appearance, I figure I should just keep it as long as possible because getting a newer car wouldn’t make much of a practical difference.

    But…when I visit my brother to play with his kids, he makes comments about how I really need to get a new car (him and his wife have newer cars). And it seems like the people I work with and my friends all have newer cars in nice condition. My coworker in the same role as me just bought a 2018 model car. Another coworker just got a new-ish car for their 16-year-old.

    Am I missing something? Does anyone else have an old car?

    1. WellRed*

      My car is 12 years old and starting to rust a bit. I like nice cars but hate car payments and right now they are out of reach. I also live in a state that requires an inspection every year and the rust will eventually prevent it from passing.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You’re not missing anything. You drive a car that meets your needs, and your financial priorities don’t lean towards replacing it at this time. Your brother can mind his own business and spend his own money the way he wants to, while you spend your money the way you want to.

      For a while we drove a “hand-me-down” Oldsmobuick sedan from a relative, definitely not the make or model we would have bought on our own — but, hey, free car that replaced a beater that was never again going to be worth more than its next repair bill. I guess friends and family snickered at the Oldsmobuick, but who cares what they thought?

    3. fposte*

      Well, you’re missing a pile of recent safety features, if we’re going to be literal. And a 22-year-old car is going to be an outlier, so there’s no particular reason to be surprised that yours is.

      But I also think you’re not obligated to replace it if you’re happy with it now. I had a similarly aged car that I only replaced when the AC died; I wasn’t going to do without AC and the discrepancy between the repair cost and the car value irked me.

      The one thing that’s worth keeping in mind is that if you’re buying another, you can’t just get whatever car you want on the day or week you start shopping. If you want some control over what vehicle you get, it may make sense to start shopping before you have no choice.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Safety features and probably better gas mileage. I tend to keep cars for awhile, I’ve had multiple until they died, but not 22 years. If it works for you, great, but I get to a point where not having the stress of constant breakdowns and repairs is worth it.

    4. acmx*

      I did until a few months ago. While it sounds like my vehicle had better paint condition, I sometimes received the same comments/attitude from people. Personally, I think people get rid of cars too soon. Part of me wishes I had kept my old vehicle.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, a lot of people are really classist/snobby about cars, and I’m giving your brother some serious side-eye here. Next time he comments on your car, ask him what type of car he’s buying for you. When he sputters that of course he’s not buying a car you can ask him to keep the comments about your car to himself.

        1. Despachito*


          Your brother should absolutely mind his own business. Would you otherwise think of buying a new car were it not for his comments? If the answer is no, let them slide off your back.

          (We have a car from early 2000s as well, and I was told that the older models are more robust than the newer ones, and the mechanic said that should we want to sell the car he would willingly buy it. I’d be thinking to get rid of it if it started to be unreliable, and if it needed frequent costly repairs. Which is not the case for the moment.)

          I have witnessed some very strange cases of car snobbism (people snubbing other people for having a too battered/too expensive car), and all this is utter BS. Do as YOU – not other people – like and see fit.

    5. Angstrom*

      There’s nothing wrong with an older car if it provides the reliable transportation you need. No car payments and low insurance and registration costs are nothing to sneeze at.
      One real advantage to a newer car is safety. Newer cares are safer for the occupants in the event of a crash.

    6. Fit Farmer*

      For the farm, I have used a succession of 15-20 year old vans for deliveries, bought cheap and very used. All had consistently large repair bills, and didn’t last longer than a few years before a major repair & maintenance requirements did them in. I bought a newer vehicle for the reliability, although it’s not a clear win financially. If your old car runs fine and is reliable and suits your purposes and values (and safety requirements), I don’t think there’s anything weird about driving an old car! My current Honda Fit is from ’07 and will certainly drive that as long as possible, especially since they aren’t selling Fits in the US anymore.

      I would expect that your brother et al. are mostly driving newer cars — or especially, are encouraging you to buy a new car — for values- and status-related reasons, rather than for practical reasons. There ARE practical reasons to buy newer cars, but if these folks aren’t citing specific concerns with your ride, I’d bet there isn’t a practical basis for the commentary. If those aren’t your values, and that perspective isn’t convincing to you, by all means keep driving a perfectly serviceable old car!

      The only thing I can think to be aware of is that it’s much easier to sell it while it’s running. So once it starts getting on its last legs, it could be better to sell it before it needs a major repair, rather than waiting until you don’t want to do the big repair and can only sell it for a price close to scrap.

    7. Grey Panther*

      I bought my 1999 small pickup in mid-2001, and they’re going to have to fight me to get it away from me! It’s tuned regularly, repaired as needed, and has long been one of the most reliable things in my life.

      Another benefit: A neighbor recently bumped his expensive, latest model vehicle into the back of my truck as he, moving slowly, pulled into the parking space behind me. Resulted in expensive-model plastic and chrome shards all over the ground from his car; my truck had a microscopic scratch on the back bumper. (As I told another neighbor, who witnessed it, “One reason why I drive a truck.”)

      You’ll start looking at other vehicles when you’re ready, and that timetable is totally yours to decide. Until then, enjoy the wheels you have

    8. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

      True about the safety features. On the other hand, you’re also missing a potentially annoying console screen, greater vulnerability to hacking, and an aggressively anti-ergonomic seat design (modern standards for passive whiplash prevention).

    9. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I drove my 2000 Altima until 2017, when it just stopped on the road and never moved again. Then I drove a 2003 Altima for 2 years until it developed engine problems too expensive to be worth repairing. (I bought both of them used, so I didn’t have the full repair history). Now I have a 2005 Ford van that was previously my grandparents’, with over 200,000 miles on it (they’re snowbirds and bought it new in 2004).
      They all had rust issues, but not enough to be dangerous, just look ugly. The most important advice is to have a great mechanic. Mine will run a diagnostic for the check engine light for free, and he tells me what problems are dangerous, and which ones I can let go. All three of my cars have had warning lights permanently lit due to bad sensors (they think there’s a problem when there’s not). The sensors were outside my budget, so I’ve been able to avoid replacing them as long as I get regular checks to make sure the problems haven’t REALLY developed).
      As long as you monitor an issues and keep up the standard maintenance (oil change, brakes, other fluids), an old car will just keep going! And with the state of the car market right now, you’re probably much better off keeping what you have.

    10. the cat's ass*

      Got a used Subaru in 2001. Just replaced it because it finally died (with another Subaru). By that point, it was a beater, but it ran well, got me back and forth to work safely, was good on gas, etc. It was also a lurid metallic bronze so i could find it in ANY parking lot. People teased me about the color, age, etc, but I’ve never really cared about what i drove as long as it was safe and good on gas. You do you and ignore everyone about this. It’s NICE not to have a car loan!

      1. retired3*

        2004 Subaru with 400,000 miles. No car payments; sometimes repairs or maintenance. One spot of rust. I hate the new stuff in cars that I don’t really need. This Forester has gone really remote places and has managed freeway problems fine. My kids with new cars and hefty payments now endorse my preference. Money for other stuff more important, like donations. People assume I’m a poor little old lady, which is sometimes helpful.

      2. Double A*

        This is hilarious to me, because we have a silver outback which I swear is the most common make and color of car in our area. I often look at our license plate to make sure I have the right car, but more than once I’ve parked next to another silver suburu outback that ALSO has the same letters in their license plate, ha. Being able to find you car easily sounds very handy.

        1. acmx*

          I feel like vehicles only come in 5 basic colors: white, grey, silver, black and red. Not even gold/tan/beige anymore. Red and a few blue. Boring. I’ve seen some cars with the “mural” paint job and while not something I’d do, I can see the appeal more nowadays lol

          1. the cat's ass*

            We bought the Bronze Bomber (as we called it) used, right around dot com bomb #1 and it had all sorts of custom-done nonsense-the color, the dog cage package for the back, etc. And it was a great car for close to 20 years! I miss it, especially when I’m trying to find current Subaru (a weird sludge greeny browny metallic-it’s like camo) in a parking lot!

            1. acmx*

              I forgot about that color. It’s such a weird color to describe. There’s a grey like that, too – hard to describe grey.

    11. anon24*

      My car is a 2000 Honda with over 250k on it. I bought it as my first car when I was a teenager back in 2009. I have no intention of getting rid of it any time soon, it drives well, is super cheap to insure, and parts and maintenance are super cheap.

      The first few years I had it I think it went through a cycle where wear and tear just got to it and I did put money into it but since then it’s just been minor stuff here and there, so why replace the whole car?

      A lot of people have poked fun at me for still having this old car when everyone around me is buying new cars but it runs great and gets me where I need to be. You drive your car as long as you want.

    12. Paris Geller*

      My car is a 2016, but I only bought that because my previous car (a 2005 trailblazer) got to the point where it became more expensive to continually fix than to replace, and that’s how I personally approach cars. I know some people are into cars as a status symbol or a hobby or just like having a newer model if they can afford it, but personally my car is just a tool to me. I treat it well, but I will drive my car into the ground before I willing sign up for a car loan. As long as it’s not too costly to fix when repairs are needed and it’s still safe, I say keep the car as long as you can.

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        Yep, that’s my rule too, when I’m spending as much on repairs as a car payment would be, time for a new one. I’ve had 3 cars in 30 years, one of them we replaced after only 2 years when we had an unexpected third baby and three car seats wouldn’t fit in the back seat.
        If it gets me where I need to go and everyone fits safely, it’s all good.

    13. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      We always keep cars until a second major repair would be more than the Blue Book value. Our last one lasted 16 years. Now we’ve got a new one (last year), and besides the safety features, the warranties cover a LOT more than when we bought the last one new.

      1. Girasol*

        Me too. My car is unimpressively small and has 200K+ miles on it. It’s scratched and looking tatty but the mileage is still great and I keep it clean inside and well maintained so that it’s safe and pleasant to drive. When the car you have meets your needs for safe and reliable transportation, the only reason to replace it is to keep up with the Joneses. I’m hoping mine will last until there’s an electric car and an electric charging infrastructure to meet my needs. I don’t see what I need yet but it’s coming soon. I hope I don’t have to buy another gas or hybrid car just to tide me over.

    14. RagingADHD*

      We have always paid cash for used cars and driven them into the ground. Our current vehicle is a 2011 Toyota with 212,000 miles on it. I don’t have a problem with outdated styling or some scratches and scuffs, but I would have a problem with rust because it’s literally disintegrating.

      You can get a car repainted for a lot less than you might think.

      But all in all, props to you for keeping a car going that long! At this point, we are looking at options because the Toyota has timing-chain and automatic traction-control issues that mean it won’t be with us much longer. The mechanic assures us that it is safe to drive in terms of maintaining control, braking, etc. It’s just liable to conk out whenever, and it would cost as much as a new car to fix it. That’s when we usually upgrade – when it costs more to fix than it’s worth.

      With used cars being as high as they are now, we have accepted that we will have to get a loan. Therefore, we’re going to look at something newer and with less mileage than we are used to.

      The main reason (in my mind) to get a newer car is for safety features and to save on maintenance / running costs. But we’re still going to buy used because the depreciation and insurance on a brand-new car are just insane wastes of money. We’re going to look for something 3-5 years old to try to get good value.

    15. fhqwhgads*

      I have a 2014 that I got in 2018. Previous car was a 2003 I got in 2007. Before that, a 1991 that I drove until 2006. I drive my cars til they die. My current and previous were in cosmetically great shape, and were models that didn’t change for a few years. So either could be mistaken for something 2-3 years newer than it was. Still, if I’m driving a car for at least 10 years, it doesn’t matter much.
      Also used car prices are severely inflated right now. If your car works, now is not the time to replace it. If the rust is bad enough to be a safety issue, consider it. But otherwise, I recommend you google David Tracy+Jeeps and you will immediately feel better about the condition of your vehicle.

    16. Rara Avis*

      We always keep our cars as long as possible. Got my first in 1993 and my third in 2016. If it’s functional and keeping it running isn’t a money pit, why not? To me a car is a tool, not a status symbol.

    17. North Wind*

      My first job out of college was at a major investment firm, this would have been around 1998, and I remember one of the directors had a really beat up little… Datsun? something like that… from the 80s. It looked like a total junker, and definitely the others at his pay grade had nicer cars, but he was fine with it. I think you just have to go with your own preferences on this.

      I (obviously) don’t mind people liking to have nice things, there are some things I would spend a lot of money on, but I’m really not impressed by people who are judgmental about other people’s things. I wouldn’t go out of my way to take their opinions into account of my decisions.

      My car is only 12 years old, but (unless I win the lottery) I plan to keep it until it’s ready for the junkyard. It’s a Honda Fit so I can probably keep it going quite a long time.

      I am actually mindful to do regular maintenance and take care of issues right away because I know I want it to have a long life.

      Two years ago, I was rear-ended in traffic by an Uber driver. It was pretty bad (the car that is, I was totally unharmed). The insurance adjuster mentioned it was on the fence for being totaled or repaired, and I told him I had just had new brakes put on the month before and that I planned to keep it as long as I could and please have it repaired if it was an option. There’s no way I’d get an equal car for the blue book value, I’ve owned the car since it was new so I really know it, it’s paid for so no car payments, the insurance and excise tax is incredibly inexpensive, and the whole back side of the car would be completely brand new if they fixed it, (10 years worth of dings/etc would be gone). He did have it repaired, and now it actually looks pretty great for a 12 year old car.

      1. RagingADHD*

        We have found with used-car shopping that it’s really important to do a VIN/title report check and read it very carefully. You’ll often see a late-model used car with low mileage listed for a surprisingly low price. These always turn out to be cars that had rear-end crashes and have a salvage title (meaning they were totaled).

        We fell for one of these years ago when we were in a hurry to pick up a cheap replacement car. Turned out, it was the front half of one car and the back half of another that had just been stuck together. They weren’t exactly the same model car, either, so the electrical systems didn’t *quite* match up. We had constant problems with it until the electrical system finally fried itself into a molten lump.

        There are so many things to watch out for when you’re buying used: title washing, flood/hurricane damage, undisclosed wrecks. On that level, I can understand the desire to buy new just so you have some guarantee of what you’re getting.

        1. North Wind*

          Oh yikes, what an awful experience.

          Yeah, my current car is the only new car I’ve bought. Before that I had a certified, pre-owned car bought from a Toyota dealership. I did run a carfax report on that, but it still felt like a gamble. Ended up being a great little car, which was totaled while parked by a drunk driver. Actually, both of my previous two cars were totaled while parked by drunk drivers, but I lived in the city then/parked on the street.

          Buying a car in any circumstances is really stressful, I think.

        2. Chaordic One*

          A car with a salvage title is something to be concerned about, and often it is a red flag, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything seriously wrong with the car. Often, when an older car is involved in a fender bender, the cost of repairs will be estimated to be more than the value of the car and the insurance companies will consider the car totaled and a salvage title will be issued.

          It is not uncommon for cars with salvage titles to be bought by people looking to repair and flip them. One of my relatives whose car was “totaled” by the insurance company turned around and bought the car back, had it repaired and I think he ended up a couple of hundred dollars ahead, although his car now has a salvage title and the salvage title will hurt the value of the car if he ever decides to sell it.

          I would still consider a car with a salvage title, but I’d get it inspected by a mechanic and see what he or she said before I would actually purchase one.

          1. HBJ*

            Yup. We bought a totaled vehicle back from insurance once and fixed it. There was no engine damage at all, and it was a truck – aka it had a frame and thus no actual structural damage. Still a great truck six years later.

            Also, I know someone who bought two cars – one wrecked in front, one wrecked in back and welded them together. His wife drove it for years without an issue. It all depends.

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      I actually LOVE the idea of driving a car for hundreds of thousands of miles and being the person whom everybody wonders why they still have it. But they all seem to develop a terminal illness before they get to that stage and I have to chuck them. If it’s working fine, keep driving it! People who do that always strike me as sensible.

      1. North Wind*

        Yeah, I agree with this!

        I remember hearing about a car with over a million miles on some episode of Car Talk and thought, hmm, wonder if I could get there. I mean, it’s not a life goal, I’m not actively trying to make it happen, but it’s been in the back of my mind for a few years :).

    19. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an old car if that’s what YOU prefer. For me personally there are features of a newer car that are non-negotiable for me.

      But I will say that when there are kids involved, young in a car seat or older ones who are driving, safety is the top concern and from what I’ve read and know, newer cars tend to be safer. I think that’s why teens tend to get new cars from their parents. Of course those with more experience and knowledge may disagree, and I’ll be happy to learn more.

    20. Alan*

      We’ve always driven our cars into the ground. It’s usually around 200,000 miles. I’d rather not waste money on something that depreciates so quickly. I’ve known people who always have a car payment. I don’t want to live that way. To me it’s a waste of money.

    21. M&M Mom*

      We bought our kids a 1997 Lexus. The car was older than the kids. I loved how that car drove! So solid. A few rust spots. And of course they dinged it up. We only got rid of it because we were downsizing. It was still driving just fine.

    22. Not So NewReader*

      At some point external rust indicates problems inside also.

      I am a car-keeper. I keep them until they almost die.

      I’d like to encourage you to get a plan to replace it within the next few years. Now is probably not the best time to be looking at used cars, but put buying a car on your radar for the near future. Meanwhile, keep track of safety stuff such as brakes. Have a mechanic put it on a lift and look around at the undercarriage.

      My car is 5 years younger than yours, I plan on replacing it within a couple years.

      I am just not a car person. I have very little interest in what’s new, i have always been this way.
      FWIW, I see plenty of older cars out on the road. We are far from being the only ones. Very far.

    23. SofiaDeo*

      Other than my very first, I never buy new, and I drive them into the ground. I find when driving that people get out of the way/don’t challenge or tailgate me, seeing a dent in the rear bumper and scrapes on the sides. You won’t be upset/distressed *when* someone scratches it in a larking lot somewhere, because you probably won’t notice it. I would get major rust fixed for structural integrity, that’s important, but you don’t have to match the paint/get a new paint job. I’ve had friends who didn’t even paint, but were happy with primer. I also like that any burglar casing our neighborhood will head straight to all the shiny new cars to steal or break into. The next time your brother makes comments about your car, give a huge smile back and say something like “you’re right! When are you going to get one for me? Because I can’t afford a newer one” He probably won’t buy you a car, but might spring for the rust repair with a paint job!

      I would have a lot more in my retirement account right now if I hadn’t let “what other people do” affect my spending. If someone is going to judge you because of your car, that’s important to find out about them sooner rather than later. If I could go back in time to give my younger self advice, it would be to have started buying used/stop replacing usable stuff just to “get something new” much sooner.

      1. North Wind*

        My brother had this one junker car when in his teens or twenties – if I remember rightly the driver side window wouldn’t even roll up. Anyway, he comes home super late one night tired from working a second job, and accidentally left the keys in the ignition. His apartment was at the end of a dead end road, nevertheless someone did notice the keys and stole the car. It apparently stalled halfway down the road because it was left there abandoned, lol.

    24. Camelid coordinator*

      I’ve been puzzling over the other side of this and hope I am not hijacking your thread. We bought a couple of nice cars in the fall and mine is very nice. The hubs basically picked mine out, and I really like it. But it is very fancy, and I know I am going to get grief for driving a lovely sports car when I am out doing work for my church-related nonprofit in the next phase of my life. Somehow all the reasons I have this car “The hubs got it for me, I’ve been poor and it is lovely to have a nice car” etc. don’t seem like they will fly. Do I joke it is a classic midlife crisis story, I got a nonprofit job and the hubs bought a sports car? I could drive my old Subaru Crosstrek that does not have working air conditioning, which is rough in the hot and humid summer. Scripts welcome!

      1. OtterB*

        Could you say that you have the car from before you retired/changed jobs and it made more sense to keep driving it than to replace it?

      2. North Wind*

        I think the other side of this is still that you don’t have to put a lot of stock in people who are judging other people for their things! It’s ok to want and/or have a nice car, I don’t think you need to explain it away.

        Caveat that I often live in the how-things-should-be rather than the practicalities of how things actually are, but I guess it’s still my take :). I think your script is perfectly fine, and honest (“The hubs got it for me, I’ve been poor and it is lovely to have a nice car”).

        I’m from a lower, middle class family, and my siblings and I are all over the map in terms of our finances. I have one sister who actually has a private jet (and pilot) and a second home in some islands somewhere, and I… definitely don’t, lol. She doesn’t up-play it or down-play it, it just is what it is. I’ve never felt weird about it, and while we’re not a particularly close family, I’ve never sensed any weird feelings from any one else in the family. I think we’re all more-or-less happy with our own choices in life, and happy for her that she has a life she’s happy in.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          Thanks for your comments, OtterB and North Wind! I really appreciate it.

    25. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      As a car buff, I have a lot of thoughts on this issue! In some ways, I think 2000 is about the sweet spot when it comes to cars. They still have the most important safety features (airbags, anti-lock brakes, some side-impact protection) and engines/transmissions that are advanced enough that power and smoothness will generally be fine. However, they don’t have distracting video screens and wall-to-wall electronics, all of which can and eventually will break. New cars are also heavier, sometimes actually less economical unless you get a hybrid or electric (because of their extra size and weight), more complex, much more powerful than they need to be in a lot of cases, and drastically more expensive. With the additional power, size, and distractions of new cars, I’m not totally sold on them being safer, even though they do have more active safety features to protect you.

      If your 2000 model year car is still structurally safe (a mechanic can tell you for sure if you have any doubt) and you’re OK with the possibility of repairs coming at any time, then keep driving it without any bad feelings.

      There are almost no small, sub-$20K cars left on today’s market; new cars are really not for the moddle-class anymore unless you go into a lot of debt. It’s sad.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Middle class, not moddle class! Oops.

        Adding to my post: Right now I drive a 4-year-old car, but I’ve driven two 14-year-old cars and I never was ashamed of it. I got rid of the first one because oil had started to mix with the engine coolant, meaning a $4000 repair was just around the corner on a car worth maybe $1500. I got rid of the second car because the multiple $400-$700 repairs per year were starting to wear me down and we just wanted the peace of mind of a newer car. But if that choice came up in today’s insane car market, my calculus would have been much different. At the end of the day, you really have to do what makes sense for you and your situation.

    26. Hotdog not dog*

      I am on my 4th car. I bought my first car new at age 21, then replaced it with a slightly used car at age 35. Sprang for another new car at age 46, which Mr Notdog totaled 2 years later (he was fine, car was not). Replaced that with another used car that I intend to drive until it won’t go another mile. If not for the accident, I’d probably still be on car #3.

    27. Texan In Exile*

      We have a 19 year old Passat that needs occasional repairs but paying for repairs is a lot cheaper than buying a new car. I don’t care if we’re not keeping up with the Jones. I’d rather spend my money elsewhere.

      Related story for a spousal win:
      Mr T took the Passat on a trip last month.
      Me: Take your winter coat.
      Mr T: But I’m going south.
      Me, who is always concerned that The Worst Will Happen: What if the car breaks down and you’re stuck by the side of the road waiting for the tow truck in the freezing cold?
      Mr T: That won’t happen.
      Me: You have room for the coat. Toss it in the back seat.
      Mr T: Fine whatever.


      PS The alternator went out. Mr T was almost 100 miles from our house, but not more, so AAA towed the car all the way to our mechanic. $900 to repair the alternator is still cheaper than buying a new car.

      PPS Did I mention I was right?

    28. Just another queer reader*

      I’m an engineer. I drive an old, beat-up car. I could afford a fancy new car, but I’d rather not spend my money that way. Half my coworkers drive brand new Tesla’s and the other half drive beat-up 15 year old cars.

      A few family members give me crap about my financial choices [being a cheapskate] which drives me nuts. I try to ignore them.

      Good luck! Enjoy your car!

    29. allathian*

      My husband likes fixing cars, that’s why we have old beaters. Our son just had his 13th birthday, and our goal is for our next car to be younger than he is!

  29. Non-private Idaho*

    Those AAMers who live in the Pacific Northwest of the US: Is there any real momentum to this “Greater Idaho” movement I read about in the news the other day? My mother-in-law lives in Eastern Oregon, and I fear that a sudden switchover from living in a relatively liberal state to a conservative state might be harmful for her.

    On the face, not having done a whole lot of research just yet, it sounds like a typical pie-in-the-sky secession movement (I remember when Staten Island tried to secede from New York City, for example). But, her county actually voted in favor of becoming part of Idaho, pretty overwhelmingly I think.

    This can’t just… happen, right? I don’t recall any recent scenario in which one U.S. state just up and became part of another. But the fact that I’m nearly 3,000 miles away from the situation means I don’t have a good idea of how much momentum this movement actually has.

    1. Nicki Name*

      No, the ballot measures are just about starting the process to even find a way it could happen. The process would probably have to include the Oregon legislature agreeing to it, and most of the state legislators from the counties that voted in favor aren’t even willing to talk about it, so pretty unlikely.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I don’t know much about the Greater Idaho thing, but Eastern OR and WA are a lot more conservative than the western halves so she’s already living within a somewhat “red state” culture.

    3. Girasol*

      I live in..er..Lesser Idaho, and am watching this too, for I suspect it would make Idaho an even redder state. But as I understand it, both the Oregon and Idaho state legislatures plus the US Congress would have to agree to the boundary change. I figure that if it got close to that, the issue would be lighting up front pages nationwide long before a final decision could actually grind through all those political bodies, so we’d have a good bit of warning. It’s my guess that your mother in law and I are still pretty safe.

    4. jtr*

      I don’t think so. I live in one of the counties in Oregon that would go to Idaho. While my right-winger acquaintances are super gung-ho, even in this VERY red county, the initiative to allow our county commissioners to spend money investigating the option lost, although it was close. (47% yes, 53% no). For reference, in the 2020 election, 69% voted for Trump, 31% for Biden.

      So, I think that while right-wingers complain about how the state is run by the Demoncrats, blahblahblah, they don’t actually want to give up the benefits of living in that state (e.g., no sales tax). The ones who do have moved to Texas or Idaho already.

      I also can’t imagine that it would be particularly easy to do – there’s a LOT of land owned by the state of Oregon in those counties, there’s a LOT of infrastructure owned by the state, etc.

      I would have the same fears for myself, and honestly, I’ve already decided that we WILL move once my husband retires or gets a different job in a blue county. Being surrounded by Trump Won! flags isn’t really good for my blood pressure.

    5. YNWA*

      I know when I was growing up in North Western Montana, there was often talk of the Idaho panhandle, eastern WA, and western MT trying to become their own state. Nothing ever came of it.

    6. LNLN*

      Yeah, that’s never going to happen! People in southern Oregon have talked about combining with Northern California to create the state of Jefferson since the 1930’s. Ninety years later it is still a pipe dream…

    7. LGC*

      If I remember correctly: State boundaries are pretty much set when the state is admitted to the union. At the very least, Congress would have to sign off on this as well.

      (Obviously, state borders can change slightly – like, disputed islands – but it can’t be like…say…an entire border county deciding to join its neighboring state.)

    8. Don*

      I think they are trying to do something similar in Northern California. They want to breakaway in to becoming their own state. Honestly, I support anyone who wants to liberate themselves from left wing overreach.

    9. Internist*

      Lol. No. This is not going to happen. People in the liberal half of the state have also been dreaming of breaking away from the red half (or from the entire US) for years if not decades. These are just silly dreams, on both sides. The legal hurdles are far too large.

    10. Non-private Idaho*

      Thanks, everyone. I’m glad to hear that my instinct that this switch would be next-to-impossible is correct.

      1. rosyglasses*

        Yeah – I’ve grown up in both Eastern Oregon and lived about 20 years in the Western part of the state and I remember even in the 80’s the conversations about splitting Western WA/ Western OR into one state and Eastern WA/OR into another state. Economically, we need both halves to be balanced and just like the State of Jefferson will never happen, this Greater Idaho thing is a way for people to use a big stick of politicking and rhetoric to feel better about their situations.

  30. Hatchet*

    Prenuptial agreement/post nuptial agreements (not looking for legal advice) – those of you who have had pre-nups or especially post-nups, what are you especially glad you included? What do you wish you had included? (We’re on the same page about getting one, but I feel like we these sort of things, there’s always the “I wish I had known…” after the fact, so we’re trying to get ahead of that.) Any other related suggestions are welcome, too. Thanks!

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      what are you especially glad you included?

      Independent legal advice. Each party should have their own lawyer give them confidential and candid advice on the terms of the agreement.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We specified that nothing should be considered joint unless we had specifically both signed onto the application and such, and anything that only had one of us listed on it was the sole debt/asset of that one.

    3. Generic Name*

      This is separate from pre/post nip advice, but don’t have cars jointly in both names. You are on the title for your car and they are on the title for their car. I thought having my name on both cars protected me financially, but it was the opposite. Honestly, the main problem is my ex husband is a shady wanker, but if my car was in my name only, he wouldn’t have been able to take out a loan on my car without asking me, and if his car was in his name only, it wouldn’t have been my problem when he stopped paying the car payments on his car after we divorced (he didn’t refinance the car like he was legally obligated to).

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Oh, so sorry to hear this!
        And you’re RIGHT! One name per car title protects the non-owner, even when married.

    4. Bread Addict*

      Your car in your name. Their car in their name.

      If you decide for family, medical, etc. For 1 person to stop working outside the home. Then have a clause that protecrs the non-working spouse. It helps balance the loss of experience/career growth. Just a they get x amount support for x amount of time. That you both agree would be a fair amount.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      Sort of related. We bought our house before we got married. The entire down payment – 50% of the house price – came from me from the sale of my previous house. Mr T did not have a will, so if he had died, half of the house would have gone to his parents. (Who hated me and told him not to marry me and threatened to boycott the wedding and got drunk at our wedding supper and gave a toast that did not include my name or refer to me at all but that’s a different story.)

      ANYHOW. We talked to a lawyer to make sure that the house stuff was worded properly: If Mr T died before we got married, the house would be all mine. Joint tenant with right of survivorship or something like that. (See a lawyer if you want to do this! Do not trust that I am remembering this properly.)

  31. the cat's ass*

    Good morning, folks!

    Do any of you know of a jeweler providing lapidary services in Northern California? A friend deputized me to find one to identify some uncut gems (if that is in fact what they are-it’s a weird story). Thanks!

    1. Tell us about it :)*

      I don’t have any recommendations for you, sorry. But if you’re willing to share the weird story, I’m here for that!

      1. the cat's ass*

        Okay! My BFF has been in a relationship with a dude who turned out to be a complete con man with all sorts of get-rich-quick ideas. EVERYTHING he did from the marriage on was so sus and finally, she got out relatively unscathed. As they were dividing everything up, she ended up with this bag full of uncut gems from India and Kenya where he was trying to start various businesses. She just moved to a new area and passed the gems (or who knows, old sprite bottle glass) onto me to get them investigated. And I’ve been to/called a bunch of places in my immediate area with no luck, but will continue my detective work!

        1. Generic Name*

          I believe it’s illegal to import diamonds and possibly other gemstones without some kind of permit or certificate, so keep that in mind.

        2. Maggie*

          If you want rough identified you might need to send it to a gem lab like GIA or IGI. If this guy was a con man the gems probably aren’t genuine or valuable.

        3. Tell us about it :)*

          Interesting! Keep us posted! I kinda doubt he’d have let them go if they had any value, though.

    2. Maggie*

      Sounds like you want a gemologist, so I’d google gemologists in that area. Idk why your friend deputized you to google something lol

      1. the cat's ass*

        Thank you, everyone! I went the gemologist route and have an appointment next week. I think they are probably dreck, but what a nice surprise if they are not!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Interesting story and you get extra points for using the Yiddish word dreck.

          1. the cat's ass*

            Thanks! I found working as a shabbos goy in Brookline and in a Jewish hospital in LA for 5 years very educational!

  32. Firebird*

    I’ve been looking for a therapist. I read that colleges offer clinician-in-training programs at reduced session rates and I would like to hear from people who have gotten therapy through the training programs.

    What kind of issues can they handle and what was your experience like? I’m an older adult with CPDST and I wonder if a therapist-in-training is going to be able to help.

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I’d look and see if colleges in your area even DO have such programs. My experience with my kids (3 students, 2 universities) is that these training programs are only for other students and have long wait lists. One kid needed to take a semester off and lost access to the on campus therapist. Another was on the wait list for 18+ months and graduated before being able to use a therapist in the program.
      Most university programs are not large. There may not even be a program open to the pubic in your area.

    2. Anon for this*

      I’ve used exactly that kind of program and found it helpful. In my case, they had a graduate program that specialized in what I was seeking help for, and they were clear that it was open both to university students and the public. Ginger Pet Lady is right in that some of those programs aren’t open to the public, but it’s worth looking.

      That said, many social services nonprofits host trainees and have income-dependent fee scales. Those are worth checking out too.

    3. Anonymous healthcare person*

      I used to work at a clinic like that (as a staff member supervising students). So if you are accepted as a client (which would only happen if there is both a student and psychologist supervisor who are willing/qualified to work with your issue), then the quality of therapy will be good but the pace will be slower than with a fully trained and experienced therapist. I am assuming you are diagnosed with complex PTSD? If that’s right, you would be working with a senior student likely close to the end of their training. A downside of that is that the student might (or might not) leave in a year or so to complete training (internship), and there is no guarantee another student could take you. But, in my opinion this is a great option to consider.

      I think 211 works in most/all areas of Canada and the US, it’s worth calling to find out about free/cheap services for PTSD/CPTSD. The student clinic is definitely one such option but there may be others to explore too. It will vary enormously depending on where you are of course. Good luck!

    4. Decidedly Me*

      Do you mean CPTSD? My answer is for that if so.

      It’s really difficult to find someone skilled in that area from my experience. Many therapists that say they’re skilled in it treat it like regular PTSD and it’s just not. However, that doesn’t mean a school won’t have someone.

      I have done therapy with a school once many years ago – more for general stuff than a specific treatment path, as limited sessions were offered. The sessions were watched, but I couldn’t see the person(s) watching (2 way mirror), so didn’t really notice, but I can imagine that could make someone uncomfortable.

      1. Salymander*

        This is true about finding a clinician to treat cptsd. I have cptsd, but I have Kaiser insurance and I can’t even get cptsd as a diagnosis even though all my mental health professionals have agreed that is what I have.

        There is an org near me that has clinicians in training to provide mental health assistance at low or no cost. They also have shelters for people dealing with domestic abuse, provide advocates for people who have been raped, and other services like a food bank and homeless shelter. Maybe your area has something similar.

    5. Alan*

      I don’t know about “in training” but I’ve got experience with a couple therapists who were still building hours to get their licenses. In my opinion, over many years of experience with various therapists for various reasons, with different members of my family, a lot of therapists, even licensed and experienced ones, are simply horrible, sometimes even abusive. But there are also therapists who are completely amazing! So I wouldn’t worry too much about experience. Try someone, and if you’re not feeling better or making progress, try someone else. In the end it is well worth the money and time once you find a good one. Take care!

    6. Filosofickle*

      I did this awhile back, spent a year with student at a school clinic at the end of his PhD. Mine was…okay. I really appreciated the affordability. In hindsight, I can see where he was insightful and skilled, we unearthed a lot, but he wasn’t experienced enough to patch me back together when things got rough. I was there for garden variety depression/anxiety and don’t think I’d have trusted him for big stuff. On the other hand, a friend did the same more recently and had a very good experience.

      I would definitely mention to the clinic what kind of help you need. They may be able to tell you whether or not they can handle it. I have a friend working as a trainee therapist right now in one and he’d be good with some kinds of big issues/traumas and not with others. FWIW near me there are at least 3 major schools with clinics that are open to the public and those seem to be readily available (on their timetable, usually starting with specific semester dates).

    7. Hatchet*

      I worked with a graduate student therapist for a while, but found her through our metropolitan city’s family service association, which offered a wide range of counseling services. When I compared the per-session rate with insurance and my out of pocket cost to the cost without using insurance (based on a sliding scale on income), the non-insurance cost was considerably cheaper, but it meant that I worked with a grad student. I was okay with this, but figured that if we had those additional resources (non-grad students) if needed. The only caveat was that she left our area/the program at the semester, so I had to go without sessions for a month over the holidays and then picked up with someone new, which was doable in my situation.
      So my ultimate advice: look at other mental health/counseling services through your city or county and, like Anon suggested, ask about sliding scale or income based fees. I hope this helps!

    8. U*

      CPTSD is complex. If you go the in training route, I’d at least find someone in training to specialize in ptsd. If it’s the cost you’re worried about, have you asked about sliding scales at clinics etc? I know my therapist has a couple slots she reserved for people who can’t afford therapy. Signed, someone working their way through CPTSD

  33. Taro*

    What is the consensus on regular consumption of zero-calorie sodas for those trying to lose weight?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Define “regular”? There are other things besides sugar that aren’t great to consume in large quantities. Some of them are quite acid and bad for your teeth, just as one example.

      One or maybe 2 a day, probably fine. If you’re drinking them instead of water, 6-8 a day, probably not fine. Better to switch to those fizzy unsweetened flavored waters, if you can’t stand plain water.

      What does your doctor say?

      1. Taro*

        My partner is the one who wants to lose weight and drinks caffeinated zer0-calorie soda, maybe 5-6 a week at most. He hasn’t asked his dr yet because he says it’s zero calories so it shouldn’t affect weight. I hadn’t thought about their effects on teeth, so thanks for bringing that up.

        1. RagingADHD*

          That’s the same for any soda. Fruit juice, too, actually. There are all kinds of acidic foods that are bad for your tooth enamel. It’s the amount and frequency that matter.

          If he’s drinking 1 per day or less, I really doubt it is a factor to be concerned about.

      1. Taro*

        Thanks! Sounds like there are some definite downsides for people trying to lose weight.

      2. Chrysoptera*

        I’ve heard of this too. I drink several regular sodas per week and I am still losing weight.

      3. Filosofickle*

        That’s my experience, a sample size of one. But since that one is my own body, I listen to it! Diet sodas crank my sweet tooth so I don’t drink them anymore.

    2. WellRed*

      I love my Diet Coke but am aware that carbonation can be hard on the digestive system and I believe diet soda leaches calcium from the bones. Like everything: moderation. To cut down on my consumption I have crystal light lemonade. There are all kinds of water enhancers these days.

    3. Maggie*

      Idk what consensus there would need to be, they have 0 calories so they couldn’t physically cause weight gain. Unless you feel they make you hungry or something.

      1. RagingADHD*

        There is some research into how the fake-sweet can affect your perception of satiety and cause rebound eating, also some theories that the artificial sweetener can affect your gut microbiome. There appear to be links between diet soda consumption and obesity/type 2 diabetes.

        But I’m not sure that there is any clear evidence of causation.

        1. Maggie*

          Very interesting- I’m a sparkling water/sparkling tea drinker so don’t drink any diet or regular pop.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s often cited as a problem because your body starts confusing the signals–the flavor said “sugar –> calorie boost coming” but then no calories, so your body can eventually give you unhelpful prompts and feedback.

      Though I could certainly see someone setting this up as their daily sweet treat, and it hit the spot and they didn’t then need to look for cookies. Like ADHD says, there’s a difference between 1/day and 8/day.

    5. Taro*

      Yep, artificial sugar reinforcing sweet cravings is one of the things I’ve heard about, and that is why I asked this question. It sounds like the quantity my partner drinks isn’t too bad. Thanks for chiming in, folks!

    6. Wishing You Well*

      The body does weird things trying to make sense of artificial sweeteners. Diet sodas can ramp up your appetite. I never had success dieting until I quit diet sodas.
      Drink water. You can add pieces of whole fruit to make it palatable. I use frozen strawberries for double duty: taste and chilling the water.

    7. Mary S*

      I think Abbey Sharp (dietician) has some YouTube videos on this you might find interesting. Losing weight is so complicated and depends on so many unique factors like metabolism, stress, etc, in addition to “calories in, calories out.” Best of luck!

    8. SofiaDeo*

      Agree with others noting that the sugar free chemicals are contributing to diseases like metabolic syndrome and fibromyalgia. Read Robert Lustig’s “Metabolical” for an understanding of how the chemicals in our foods, and the processing that strips fiber, are affecting us.

      1. Taro*

        That is exactly what he is thinking of switching to. Caffeine boost without the (artificial) sugar.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      My dad’s oncologist told him that ant dark colas, diet or not, can be a risk factor for bladder cancer. We’ve all switched to unsweetened iced tea or water.

    10. Denaranja*

      As someone who’s been in shape all their life and has helped friends get in shape, the best thing is to not drink anything but water or sparkling water (or coffee/teas no cream).

  34. Ins mom*

    Maybe start ‘making a car payment’ to yourself so you’ll have a nest egg when you decide to take on a newer car. It will make that decision easier. The safety features are good; so is living with less debt.

  35. anonynonynon*

    Dating question! Apologies in advance for the long post, it’s been heavily influenced by the amount of ice cream I’ve consumed in the past few days.

    I will be finishing grad school and almost definitely moving for the-place-we-don’t-discuss-on-weekends next year. There is a microscopic chance that I will stay in my current city, but I will almost definitely be moving – I’ll be applying to both academic jobs (could be literally anywhere) and industry positions (which in my field are mostly located at least ~8 hours from my current city). My career is important to me, I love the work I do, and it’s not something I’m willing to compromise on.

    I’m also a straight woman in my late twenties. In the ideal world, I’d find a partner who is totally up for moving with me in a year, but I recognize that asking someone to uproot their entire life for me to move ~somewhere~ is a big ask, so I understand that my current relationships might be pretty casual or that people might not be particularly interested in dating me. When things do seem to be starting to get serious, I have a real conversation about the situation – as in, I’m fine with just seeing where things go, but if we’re going to be in a serious long-term relationship, that’s going to involve dealing with me moving potentially across the country.

    The problem is that twice in the past year I’ve had men who were initially on board with this end things after a few months, not because they decide they don’t actually want to deal with a future move or long-distance situation (or, like, any of the million other non-moving reasons why someone would want to break up with me), but because “I thought you would change your mind and stay in [current city] if things worked out.” Most recently, this was because I had mentioned that a university a few states away might be hiring someone in my field next year (obviously a long shot), and he was upset to learn that I was still considering applying to jobs in other places because obviously even though I ~said~ I was going to move, I was clearly only saying that because I hadn’t gotten to know him well enough yet.

    Are there things I should be doing differently to signal that no, really, I’m seriously prioritizing my career right now, and I’m not going to change my mind about this? I’m just so thrown because I feel like I’ve been extremely clear and upfront about this, and for the exact same thing to happen *twice* in a row feels like maybe the problem is actually something about how I’m explaining this (mixed with like, a heavy dose of sexist assumptions).

    1. moonstone*

      Be more upfront earlier on in the dating process. If you’re meeting people on dating apps, put in your profile “am looking to move for jobs outside of (city) so just looking for something casual/temporary”. If you’re meeting in person, say as much on the first or second date. Make it clear that you won’t change your mind in any circumstances.

      1. Joi*

        I agree with bringing this up on the first date, but not with saying you’re looking for something casual. You’re not looking for something temporary and saying this will only bring guys who are looking for that.

        1. anonynonynon*

          Yeah, I’ve decided that once I start actually applying for jobs (for academia, in the fall) I’ll pause my dating apps for a few months until I figure out where I’ll actually be located. I feel like it’s easier to be like “I am moving to Sacramento in July” and letting people decide whether to match or not based on that than it is to be like “At some point in like a year I’m going to live somewhere else, but idk where.”

          I do mention extremely early on (usually this comes up organically on a first date when work/school come up in conversation) that I’m going to be moving after graduation, I just think it doesn’t really sink in that I don’t mean, like, “We live in Connecticut and I might need to find a job 45 minutes away in New York City.”

    2. been there, done that*

      As a scientist having finished grad school decades ago: consider these relationships “flings”, and don’t be mad these guys don’t want to stay with you. They’re showing you who they are: believe them!. This will not be the first – or -last time they would expect you to do what’s best for them. You don’t want these people. You have a great big adventure ahead of you!

      I didn’t settle down with my partner till a decade after I finished grad school. I can’t promise this will happen to you, but you’re not at the end of the line for choosing partners. And, even if you are, these aren’t the partners you want. You want someone who values you, and is willing to compromise, and these guys aren’t. When you settle down, you’ll find lots of things to fill your leisure time with – hiking or biking groups, or quilting or choir, or whatever.

      Good luck with finishing up, and the adventure that lies ahead. It’s a wild ride, and be sure to enjoy the scenery.

    3. PollyQ*

      I kinda doubt you’re doing anything wrong, and two dudes is not a big sample size. One thing you might do is pay attention to how future potential partners deal with reality in general and your statements in particular. Do they generally deal well with what’s actually in front of them, or do they tend to ignore unpleasant facts? Do they respect your opinions & desires, or do they subtly put them down or push them aside? How they behave in other arenas may help predict how they’ll deal with the reality of your moving once it comes up.

      1. StellaBella*

        Was going to say something similar. +1 Do they discount your reality, choices, etc? If yes, dump em.

        1. Despachito*

          I do not see you did anything wrong. I am glad you stood your ground. I am sick of people thinking that this is always the woman who should follow the man.. (Not that it isn’t possible but must be after MUTUAL consent, and there is no reason why it should’t be the other way round).

          But I think this is about priorities. Your priorities are now clear, you clearly stated them and followed on what you said. Their priorities were also clear and they were incompatible with yours. These things happen and that is nobody’s fault. Continue your search (that is, if you so wish), these were just not good matches.

    4. Kiwiapple*

      I’m a Brit in NZ. My partner told me on date 3 that his visa was expiring in spring of the next year when we met in the autumn. I was like…that’s fine, we don’t know where this is going or if we will still like each other.
      By Christmas, he had asked my thoughts on moving to NZ with him. It took us a year to actually move (covid related) and now we are both loving in NZ! 3 years together in October.

    5. RagingADHD*

      IDK, I don’t think its about you so much as about wishful thinking. There are a lot of people who get into dating relationships thinking/wishing the other person would change something fundamental about themselves or their plans. It’s not just straight guys, it happens all the time in every direction. Haven’t we all experienced (or talked friends through) heartbreaks that boil down to “Yes, I saw the signs (or they told me the truth) but I caught the feels and thought it would all work out somehow”?

      I think it’s just part of the idealistic distortion we all go through with infatuation/romance/attraction. We put a shiny veneer of “what if” and “if only” onto the person that blurs out all the obvious incompatibilities. Then when reality sets in, it’s hurtful. It’s not logical or fair, because the person was very clear, but feelings aren’t rational.

      It’s possible that they read too much into you saying that you were applying to a local place. They may have thought that was “a sign.” It’s possible that they think they are so magic in bed that you couldn’t possibly leave. But it seems most likely to me they just fooled themselves —in which case the only thing you are doing “wrong” is to be attracted to romantics rather than cynics. Which is understandable. Romantics are very attractive.

      With the timeline being so short now, I certainly think you should adjust your expectations that there would be any chance that a dating partner would want to move with you. As moonstone says, be up-front that you are leaving. For sure. No if’s. Don’t wait until things get serious to have the conversation. They are already invested by then.

      If things wind up working out long-distance or with a move, like Kiwiapple, just let that be a pleasant surprise. Expect for it not to happen.

      1. Reba*

        I agree with this but in a slightly less charitable way, I see it not as caught up in romanticism but rather as seeing the OP as merely a supporting character in their lives, rather than someone with her own life to live. Always expecting things to “work out” through the partner changing their mind or whatever.

        It also brings to mind something else I have observed but I’m not sure how to put into words. I think OP IS being clear but it’s not uncommon for people not to take women fully at their word, to sort of downgrade the intensity or something. It isn’t that these dudes thought you were lying, but rather in some vague way I think that when a woman says “my seriousness about this is level 10” the listener unconsciously rounds down to “sounds dramatic, this issue is prolly around a 6 or 7.” I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else!

        1. RagingADHD*

          I see what you’re saying, but I have sat with SO MANY women friends who sobbed their way through “I know he *said* he was going to grad school / not looking for commitment / not leaving his wife, but…”

          I really don’t think it’s “not taking women at their word.” It’s humans being human.

          1. anonynonynon*

            Thanks, both. Obviously anyone of any gender can romanticize their partner, but I think that the sexism I’m reading into the situation is not just “why don’t they believe me” (although that’s obviously a big frustration with it), it’s that I feel like there’s a general cultural expectation that women will switch jobs and move around (or not move, as the case may be) for a man’s career, but not so much the reverse.

            I have an inkling that the single men in my grad program are NOT spending this much time agonizing over whether it’s leading someone on to go on a second date without also being like “and by the way I heard there might be a faculty position in my area opening up next year in California – could you see yourself living in Sacramento???” or whatever.

            1. fposte*

              But it also seems like you might be responding by taking on a level of emotional labor that you don’t need to, and that’s a gendered response you have some influence over. You told them. You had a good time. Bummer that they didn’t believe you, but what else were you supposed to do?

              Obviously that’s a fairly crude take on what are presumably some otherwise decent people that you actually like, but I wouldn’t spend a ton of time caretaking this in advance.

              1. Reba*

                Yep, 100%. Not just an academia thing, I think many many people have unexamined assumptions about which person in a partnership will be the primary wage earner (or whose job is more “important”), who will be the primary caregiver, whether/who will change their surname, etc etc etc.

    6. Joi*

      I agree with the other posters who said this is on the guys, not on you. The right man will be willing to move with you and/or figure out a way to do long-distance in the short term until he can move. Having said that, I think waiting until things become serious is too long of a time to wait to tell them you’re planning to move. I’d want to know on the first date. My husband told me on the first date that he could *not* move because of his job. I was hoping to move out of the country and decided to stay because of him (yup, he is worth it!). I was also glad to know this early on because if moving was a top priority for me — as it is for you — then I wouldn’t have chosen to get involved with him.

      1. anonynonynon*

        Glad things worked out with you and your husband :)

        To be clear, I do explain on first dates that I will be applying to jobs elsewhere once I graduate. But once things start getting serious I have the “No, really, I will not be living here next year” conversation, since I feel like people don’t necessarily understand that I’m not talking about vague plans to move 45 minutes away. This has also only started feeling like something that needs to be brought up immediately recently, since back when I still had several years left of school, it felt like the move was always far enough in the future that saying “3 years from now I’m going to move” was overly involved for a first date — there were so many other reasons for someone to decide they don’t like me in that time!

    7. David*

      I can sort of relate to how frustrating your situation is, since I also had a difficult experience with the conflict between staying in town for a possible relationship and moving for my career in the last year before I finished grad school. I don’t think I have any advice to offer, at least not beyond what other people have already said (e.g. being clear and direct is probably the best you can do, and sometimes people will just make their own assumptions anyway; that’s not on you), but I hope you find someone who’s right for you at some point!

    8. Loopy*

      Years ago when in grad school I dated a guy told him there was zero chance I was staying anywhere near the state after graduation. He didn’t think I’d change my mind and said he understood… The issue was he didn’t realize how not okay he’d be with it when the time came.

      He didn’t try and convince to stay or follow me but there were a lot of tears and I was a bit frustrated because I felt guilty even though I was a clear as could be.

      Sometimes people want to think they will be okay with an outcome but it’s so different in theory than after a year of dating. Apologies I don’t have advice except to accept it may be hard no matter what you both say up front.

    9. anon for this*

      I am in almost exactly the same position. No advice, but commiseration. I did meet a third person in the same boat lately who met someone who happily moved with her!

    10. Spearmint*

      It could well just be they are just not listening to you, but in case you’re not I’d recommend examining how you talk and interact with them. Even if you explain your plans on the first date, have you done or said anything subsequently that might unintentionally imply you’re not as dead set on moving as you actually are? For example, talking about future plans with them without having a commitment that they’d move with you (thus implying maybe you’re considering not moving after all).

      Also, it sounds like you’re an academic graduating from a PhD program. If so, I’d make it a point to explain early on how academia really works: the job market is very competitive, you have to apply to jobs all around the country to have any chance of getting *any* job, and securing a local positions is extremely unlikely. People who work in “normal” professions often don’t understand this aspect of academia because few others field work this way, ime (my partner is in a PhD program).

      Finally, I don’t think you should completely write off non-casual dating, but the reality is that most people on their late-20s and early-30s won’t be interested in uprooting their lives for a <1 year relationship. Some may think they will be at first when it’s all hypothetical and infatuation is running hot, but I think when the reality hits them most won’t be interested.

      1. Joi*

        I agree that most people outside of academia don’t know how things work.

        I have to disagree that “most 20- or 30-somethings wouldn’t be willing to move.”
        It is true that most people who place a high priority on their careers would probably be less willing to move solely for a partner, so obviously a lot of factors would need to align for this to work out. For instance, a lot depends on the particular place Anonynonynon moves to, as well, and what it offers.

        On the other hand, with the big increase in remote working, the massive job reshuffling going on right now, and people generally not staying in the same job more than a few years at a time, folks overall have much greater flexibility today than they did even 5 or 10 years ago. 20s/30s is precisely *the* time that most people look for the serious life-long relationship, so of all life stages, people of this age might actually be more willing to take one for the team, invest in the relationship, and move with the person they’re hoping/planning to marry.. Having said all that, I do agree that the chances of all this working out are small (though possible!) and as RagingADHD said, it’s best to expect that this won’t happen and to treat it as a bonus if it does.

    11. HannahS*

      I was in a very similar situation with my now-spouse. Around the time we decided to get serious, I was explicitly clear with him and explained that I would most likely be leaving our current city. His response was to say, “My job is portable.” That showed me he was serious. In my explanation, I explicitly said something like, “I’m not willing to stay here for a boyfriend. If we’re engaged, then sure, I’ll happily make a shared life together anywhere, including here. And it’s not a threat or an ultimatum; if we’re not in a position to decide for sure in six months [which was when I would find out where I was going next], then I’m very willing to make an LTR work until we figure it out. But I’m not changing my plans without that much of a commitment, and I’m not asking you to uproot your life for me unless we’re getting married.” I was EXPLICIT. If you’re not being that explicit, maybe try? But honestly, sounds you were pretty clear and like it’s a them-problem, not a you-problem.

    12. PostalMixup*

      I started dated a guy in April of my senior year of college, and I made sure he knew from the start that I’d be moving across the country in August for grad school. I had never intended this relationship to outlast the summer. But then two weeks before I left he told me he loved me. I went, “Well, shit, maybe I should give long-distance a try.” He dumped me during orientation week. In addition to “some people don’t listen” and “some people don’t believe you,” there’s also “some people want relationships to end on their terms.”

  36. Trixie B*

    Question for those that live in dusty areas, how do you maintain the dust? So much dust here, it’s overwhelming. Thank you!

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Good furnace/AC filter, replaced frequently. Same for your vacuum cleaner. And dust often.

    2. Anono-me*

      Seconding using good filters and changing them often.

      Make sure the windows and doors are sealed up, especially on the dusty, windy side. I actually used a winter window plastic on one window that was super problematic (and due to be replaced soon as part of a remodel. )

      Collections/special items are displayed in enclosed glass fronted cabinets or deep picture frames. That way they rarely need to be dusted.

      I dust with a lambs wool duster (ikea) and damp mop quite often.

      Sisel entry door mats with a big open weave (like loose crochet) pattern and extra huge so everyone (including the 3&4 leggeds) has to take several steps to shake off the dust before coming inside.

      Plant beneficial, original to the area, long life, groundcover plants if possible.

    3. Mary Connell*

      I don’t live in a very dusty area but found that a portable air purifier helps keep the dust down.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      So far I’ve given up the fight. We have hospital grade filters. All the thing. None of it made enough of a dent so I’ve sort of accepted it.

    5. Paris Geller*

      I don’t live in a dusty area anymore but I use to live in a coastal city where sand/dust could become a big problem. It’s money upfront but one thing that really helped was getting a really *good* robot vacuum cleaner and running it daily, plus like others have said changing air filters on a frequent schedule.

  37. Forensic13*

    I’m going to Myrtle Beach next week; anyone who lives/visits there have recommendations for unique things? Fun smaller stores, weird things, bookstores, unique activities, etc. thanks in advance for any thoughts!

    1. CallTheBagelShop*

      I would recommend Waccamaw River Tours if you like river birds/animals! I also heard that Brookgreen Gardens are very nice.

  38. Jackalope*

    Okay, this is a bit late, but I see that our gaming thread person isn’t here, so here’s this week’s gaming thread! What is everyone playing? Anything is fair game, not just video games.

    I returned to Skyrim this week after some time away. I’ve finished up the main Dawnguard quest and have started the civil war quest. I also made a ton of jewelry, enchanted it, and then am trying to find places to sell it. No one has enough money to buy my stuff! But it’s been fun.

    1. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I’ve been playing the original Mass Effect for the first time! Well… sort of the first time. I’ve tried it multiple times in the past but found the combat too difficult, now with a combination of the right build and me being more skilled, I can actually complete missions instead of dying repeatedly for hours. I’m planning on taking my character through all 3 games!

    2. anon24*

      Love me some Skyrim. It’s my go-to when I have downtime at work (it’s allowed and on my personal device).

      I’ve been super stressed and anxious lately, so I’ve been returning to my comfort games, the Witcher, Skyrim, and AC Odyssey and Origins. I’m also working through Red Dead Redemption 2 for the first time.

    3. Liane*

      My live Discord RPG group is still doing Mutants & Masterminds, although we have gone to every other week due to a player’s schedule. Alternate weeks, my son GMs Star Trek Adventures for us. He’s a better GM than me.

      A few months ago I found a Cyberpunk Red (RPG “prequel era” for the 2077 video game) play by post on Discord. I’ve enjoyed it and am one of the rotating GMs, although I prefer playing my Medtech PC. I, our current GM, and a third player just took over as the PbP Moderation/Coordination team. We have some typical mod duties. Most of our job, however, is vetting new players, okaying new PCs, agreeing on house rules, and some continuity.

    4. DarthVelma*

      I really got started with the new season of Destiny 2 this weekend. It’s creepy and I adore Eris Morn (I actually have an Eris Morn rubber duckie on my desk), so I’m enjoying the storyline so far. I’m also loving the new Nightmare Containment public activity. It’s so chaotic and brings back really good memories of running the Menagerie back in the day.

      And I want a Calus bobblehead for real. If Bungie doesn’t make those for sale they are missing a HUGE opportunity.

    5. SparklingBlue*

      Been playing the classic stuff on Switch Online (the NES and Super NES stuff; the N64 and Genesis/Megadrive pack is a little expensive on top of the initial payment) while waiting for any official news about Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.

    6. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      Jumped back into Sea of Thieves over the four-day holiday and completed the “Lost Sands” deeds list. (Rebuild Golden Sands!) Also successfully soloed a low-level Order of Souls ghost ship quest, which is a big one for me because I absolutely suck at PvE/PvP combat.

      Haven’t played Skyrim in a while. Or Valheim, for that matter…

      1. DarthVelma*

        My partner is starting to make noise about wanting to return to Valheim. We got through the first 4 bosses I think and had a couple of lovely bases going. I figure it’s probably next after we get this season of Destiny 2 done and Ark out of our systems.

  39. Silmaril*

    Weighted blankets: any thoughts?

    Wondered if anyone is a fan or has tried them and found they didn’t like them? Any thoughts on specific features that are useful or not?

    There seem to be a lot of articles promoting them for sleep quality, but I have to travel regularly for work and wonder whether going from weighted blanket to no weighted blanket might make sleeping on work trips tougher…

    1. kina lillet*

      I like them, but if you have problems with acid reflux it’s a no go—that extra weight in your stomach will add on. It is a really comfy thing though.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Try one at home first. If they make no difference in your sleep quality, you needn’t worry about work trips without them.
      I have to give up on mine for now. I hurt a shoulder muscle pulling on it and am now doing shoulder rehab exercises! I hope you have a better experience!

    3. Paris Geller*

      I got one a few years ago as a Christmas gift. I like it for the weight/calming factor but one thing I didn’t take into account was that because it’s so heavy, it gets very, very hot and I *have* to be cool to sleep, so I don’t use mine much anymore. I’ve heard they make cooling ones but I’ve never looked into it.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I have a cooling weighted blanket because, like you, I cannot tolerate heat (at all, but especially when I sleep). It works in both aspects of keeping me relatively cool and making me feel secure. I was skeptical when I bought it, but it delivers as promised.

    4. Loopy*

      I got one as a gift and wanted to like it so terribly but I have back problems and it was uncomfortable for my back to have the extra weight. I was surprised and also in denial for a while but ymmv.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Mom got one for Dad, but he didn’t want it as he thought it would aggravate his claustrophobia. So she gave it to me. I love it. I sleep under it at night. I’m under it right now.

      The only thing I don’t like is that you cannot wash it in the washing machine. I want to get a bigger one and buy a cover for it.

    6. moonstone*

      I personally tried one after hearing from everyone else about how amazing they are and…I can’t say I love it. It feels good for the first two seconds and then I feel like I’m suffocating and about to melt.

    7. Blanket Burrito*

      I have sensory issues and I find weighted blankets are incredibly helpful for quickly calming my nervous system down. I don’t think they have the same effect for most neurotypical people. For me, it has a similar effect to resting with several cats asleep on top of me, wrapping myself tightly into a blanket burrito, or taking a bath. I don’t use them for sleeping, just as short term sensory therapy. Getting several in different weights was one of the best purchasing decisions I’ve ever made. My favorites are knitted ones like Bearaby and Nuzzie.

    8. small town*

      I got one for my ADHD son and he loves it, sleeps much better. Do agree with Elizabeth West about not being able to wash it, though.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I spilled milk on mine (gah!) and had to put it on the floor and scrub it by hand with a solution of dish soap and water. Arrggh.

    9. VegetarianRaccoon*

      I was gifted one but have only used it a couple times because it was so warm underneath it :(

    10. Bread Addict*

      I know several people who love them including my husband though it wasnt for me.

      I got his from Kuddly. They are soft, durable and importantly for me machine washable. That was a big plus.

      A big factor when picking a weighted blanket is how much weight as they can vary wildly. Online there should be an article that tells you how to calculate the right weight based on your own weight. Though I do have friends who got that and then swapped for lighter ones or heavier ones.

    11. beach read*

      Even before weighted blankets became popular and available in the mainstream, I always said I slept best when using a very heavy comforter my Mom had bought me.

    12. Just another queer reader*

      My partner uses a weighted blanket some nights, especially when having a hard time with sensory/anxiety stuff. They do not seem to have any issues with using it only sometimes.

      Good luck!

    13. Pharmgirl*

      I debated getting one for a long time because I’m a hot sleeper and I was worried about extra heat. I ended up getting one this winter during a cold spell and I loved it! It kept me warm on the cold nights, and it was definitely comforting. I fell asleep faster and don’t have as many sleepless nights as usual. That said now that it’s warmed up a lot I’m finding it too warm for the summer. I’ve been using it when I first go to bed and end up pushing it away in the middle of the night when I get hot. I might put it away for the summer and see how it goes without it.

  40. M&M Mom*

    Cat help! Last summer, we moved to a place with wall to wall carpeting. As soon as we moved in, our cat started scratching at the carpeting, enough to pull up little pieces of it! I try to trim her nails regularly, bought different scratching pads, try to cover the areas that she scratches. And no luck. The real problem is, that she now does this all night long as an excuse to get food. And I give her the food because I just want to get some sleep and to have her stop scratching the carpet! So yes, I am at fault here. But any help is appreciated. Thanks!

    1. RagingADHD*

      Have you tried a deterrent spray? Our cat for some reason is obsessed with scratching the bathroom door (really the only inappropriate place he scratches). A couple of spritzes on the door, and he’ll leave it alone for a couple of days at a time.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have put vinegar in a spray bottle and sprayed things I want the dog to stay away from. It worked.

    2. GraceC*

      Not necessarily for the scratching, but we retrained the youngest cat to recognise actual feeding times (after several years of feeding the older ones on demand to keep their weight up, which was not great for the youngest’s waistline) with a treat ball? Slightly decreased the amount of dry food she gets morning and night, put half a handful of it in her ball instead, and every time she pestered us for food the ball would just get rolled in her general direction (or no movement and just a tired you have FOOD in your BALL which I’m sure are words she recognises by now) It won’t deter the scratching right away, but it might hit that combo for her of midnight snack plus burning off some overnight energy, if you can tolerate the rattling of the ball rolling around?

      Otherwise: deterrent spray, maybe a sheet of tinfoil on the ground in the offending areas as The Most Hated Noise?

      1. M&M Mom*

        I have never heard of the treat ball, but I will definitely look into it. And you’re right,I hadn’t thought of the foil but that’s a good option too. Thanks!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Similarly, there’s stuffy mice you can get that have a pocket where you put kibble or treats in the pocket and then kitty can be a Mighty Hunter and hunt down their own food. We didn’t try this one, because the dogs are way more interested in being Mighty Hunters than the cats were, to the point where every work-for-your-food option we DID try, the cat straight up threw across the room at my husband until he went back to her regular bowl :P But I’ve heard good results with that sort of thing from people who have slightly less lazy cats.

      2. Eff Walsingham*

        I will cosign tinfoil. I had a cat who, after years of better behaviour, decided he had to scratch the beautiful vintage wallpaper in our boutique rental! At first it was just one spot. Eventually I had tinfoiled the entire foyer for about 3 feet up from the baseboards. It worked, but I’m pretty sure my landlord thought I was a lunatic.

      3. RC+Rascal*

        Not all cats hate tin foil. I put some on the floor to deter a peeing issue. He pooped on it.

        If a 23 pound cat takes a dump on a sheet of tin foil at 3AM you WILL hear it and wake up.

  41. Lana Kane*

    I’ve had the Simple Human 48L dual compartment rectangular touch-bar can for a few years now. I almost fainted when my husband bought it , but it’s been a great investment. It still looks and works great. Looks were important t ous because it’s a small kitchen and the trash can is very visible. And like falling Dipthong says, you dont have to use the special branded bag (they do fit a little better but that’s not as important to me – regular bags work fine as well).

    1. Lana Kane*

      Ugh this was suposed to be a reply!! Well, now you all know what garbage can I have!

  42. Elizabeth West*


    After my meditation group met, I went to the bank, to Walmart, and to the grocery store. They had my veggie sausage patties that they’ve been out of for some time (yay!) and cherries have arrived (woo hoo!). So I got that going for me, lol.

    I have done nothing all day, just resting since I have to clean tomorrow and go back to the temp work on Tuesday. If I had a regular job, I’d probably go shopping and take myself to lunch, which is what I usually do.

    How do you typically celebrate the day of your birth?

    1. Jackalope*

      Happy birthday!

      I always take my birthday off and generally celebrate it by myself on the day of. I take the whole day doing whatever I feel like; it could be getting a massage, calling a friend I haven’t talked to in ages, cleaning up a pile of junk, binging a video game…. No limits, just whatever I want. And pre-COVID I would have a party the weekend before or after and have a bunch of friends over. I’d try to invite people from all different corners of my life and it tends to be a hoot, but the ones who stay the longest are college friends, and it’s kind of our impromptu yearly college reunion party. I see people at other times of year in small groups or one-on-one, but this is the big shebang for everyone to see the people from college that they maybe weren’t close enough with to see if their own accord, but they still like to know how those people are doing. This wasn’t my initial goal with my birthday party, but I’ve had several college friends tell me that this is what they love about it.

    2. Virtual Light*

      Happy Birthday! I usually just try to have a few special treats lined up for the day/ couple weeks around the day. I also try to spend some time in a place I really love – like the woods or the beach. I hope you have a lovely day and long weekend!