weekend open thread – June 4-5, 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.

Recommendation of the week: This week it’s a movie, not a book. Uncorked, on Netflix. A young man expected to join the family barbecue business instead pursues his dream of becoming a master sommelier.

{ 1,134 comments… read them below }

  1. Progressive Lenses*

    Can anyone here please tell me about your experience getting used to progressive eyeglass lenses? I’ve never had them before and I’m very nervous and worried about not being able to see normally for however long it takes for my eyes and brain to adjust to these new lenses. For those of you that do have progressive lenses, how do you like them and how long did it take you to get used to them? Was it a difficult adjustment for you and do you have any advice for someone just starting out wearing progressives for the first time? Thanks!

      1. LK*

        I heard a lot of people complain that they were very hard to get used to, but I didn’t find that at all. I’ve worn them for years with no issues.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Fourthing. I expected it to be awkward and it really wasn’t.

        Two times I had to adjust:
        • Slumping way back on the couch to watch TV, I was looking through the reading-distance lower part of the lens. Sitting up a bit (or lying on my side to watch TV horizontal) fixed this.
        • Jogging in the woods, I was looking at the ground directly in front of me through the reading-distance lower part of the lens; I had to adjust to look a little more ahead. (Walking was no problem, nor jogging on a track–it was the combination of speed + tree roots that had me trying to look right in front of my feet.)

      3. Anon in NY*

        Same. No problem adjusting to them at all. I’ve had them for years & love them. My only suggestion is to make sure you choose frames that are fairly large. This will provide a larger lens area for the necessary transition between near, middle & far distance.

        1. MaxKitty*

          But make sure the frames fit your face. They told me to go larger, and the frames were too big and kept sliding down my nose. It’s more important the frames fit properly.

        2. WoodswomanWrites*

          Echoing this recommendation. I got the largest lenses and frames I could for two reasons. First, for any glasses including others I’d previously worn, I find it distracting to have a different view in my peripheral vision. Also, I second what Anon in NY said about creating the larger lens area for different fields of view.

          One other thing that has been useful, just for glasses in general, was splurging for titanium frames. They were more expensive than others, but they’ve ultimately more than paid for themselves by being lightweight and comfortable on my face as well as durable. I’ve had them for 15 years and never needed to replace them. I just update the lenses when I get a new prescription.

          1. Snow Globe*

            ++++The first pair of progressives I had were small frames and I hated them. After a year I went back to monovision. About 5 years later I gave it another try with slightly larger, rounded lenses and I really like them now.

      4. Heffalump*

        +1. If you find that you’re looking thru the wrong part of the lenses at a given time, just adjust the angle of your head slightly. It’s honestly no big deal.

    1. Jay*

      I started with regular bifocals (with the line) and it took a day or two to adjust, mostly to going down stairs. It was not difficult and didn’t interfere with my life at all. I had no difficulty when I went from bifocals to progressives.

    2. Susie*

      I’m extremely nearsighted. But I got used to the progressives right away. I had no discomfort.
      I love them.

    3. lsnkrn*

      I had to be careful going down stairs for a couple days, but other than that, no issues at all. I love my progressive lenses! That being said, if you sit at a computer all day, you might want to get a pair of single strength glasses set specifically for that distance. Those helped me a lot as my bifocal distance got stronger.

      1. OtterB*

        +1
        I still am a little cautious stepping onto a down escalator but otherwise I adjusted quickly with no issues. And I second recommendation for computer glasses. I found I was making my neck hurt by tipping my head to look at the computer screen out of the bottom of my progressives.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I also have an additional computer pair because I’m at my computer most of the day. My progressives are great, especially since they tint in the sun to become sunglasses. I didn’t have trouble getting used to them at all. But I mostly wear my computer glasses during the day.

        1. Just Another Cog*

          This is my experience. I like the progressives for everything except computer work. The medium range area I need for the computer is way too small, so I use some bifocals with near and medium ranges for work. I also am not crazy about progressives for reading since I have to move my head to keep the print within the small close up area. I think there are newer types that have larger vision spots on the lenses.

          All that being said, it does take some time to get used to them. You’ll eventually automatically turn your head to the correct angle to see without thinking about it. If it doesn’t happen within about a week, I’d say, go back to the eye doctor to have them adjusted so you’re looking through the right areas. Hope this helps.

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        I also have a second pair just for computer work, but those are progressive lenses, too. I found them better than single focus lenses and don’t have to immediately take them off to look at something else.

      4. allathian*

        I had the same experience. I’m on my second pair of progressives and my first pair of computer glasses, and I basically adjusted as fast to my first pair of progressives as I’d adjusted every time I got new single strength glasses in the past. I had to be careful walking down the stairs at first, and I’m still careful when stepping on an escalator, but other than that, I don’t have any issues.

    4. Nope*

      I got mine about 7 months ago and after trying to get used to them for a month I gave up. :-( I tried again later and same result. I couldn’t get used to them. I wish I had just bought separate pairs, even though that’s a pain.

      1. Owler*

        My doc under-prescribed the progressive portion for me to ease me into it. I wonder if the progressive portion was too strong for your first time. If you feel like you like your eye doc, I would go back to them and tell them of your experience.

    5. Bookgarden*

      More people I have talked to got used to wearing them than haven’t. I think I’m the only person I know who couldn’t get used to them actually. I’m not sure what it was since it was several years ago, but I don’t think I was the norm.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I had trouble getting used to my first pair and always felt like the distance vision wasn’t quite sharp enough, and sometimes it seemed like I was seeing slight doubling of outlines.

      Turned out they were just ground wrong and once I went back and got them redone they were fine.

      I could see just fine right away and I had the “trick” of it basically figured out in a few minutes. I’d say it took about 2-3 days to master using the right head angles at the right times, and a week for it to become totally automatic / unconscious.

      I was able to see perfectly well the whole time, it just was slightly awkward. Like walking in new shoes – it doesn’t stop you from walking, it just feels funny.

      I really like them, except that my eyesight seems to be changing faster now than it did in the last few years before I made the switch. Or maybe the margin of error is smaller on progressives anyway. So I need a new prescription more frequently, and that is $$$. That’s the only downside as far as I’m concerned.

      If you are used to the process of adjusting to a new lens prescription in general, it’s not that different.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        My eyesight is changing so fast now that my optometrist suggested just dropping $16 at the drugstore for nonprescription readers. I maxed out my optical benefit on the disposable contacts I’ve been wearing for years, plus updated backups, for my nearsightedness-plus-astigmatism.

        She said that in addition to the expense I would notice a decrease in sharpness of distance vision if I went to progressives at this point. I do find My First Reading Glasses(tm) to be annoying… I keep leaving them at home, then I can’t read the menu, etc. But I will stay with this system until I get used to it, and/or an optometrist advises me to go ahead with progressives. They sure are spendy though! At least they would be for my prescription.

        1. Two Dog Night*

          On the reading glasses front, I have probably 6-7 pairs of cheap readers. One pair lives in my purse, another in my (home) office, another next to the sofa, another in the kitchen… I even have a pair in the laundry room that’s dedicated to splitting the dog’s phenobarbital in half (I can’t see the line down the tablet without glasses). It’s much easier than carrying them around and forgetting them.

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            That’s what my Mum did! One pair in every room of the house. Maybe I should have saved some of hers? Nah, what are the odds we’d need the same strength….

        2. Just Another Cog*

          In a pinch, I use the “Magnify” app on my phone to see stuff when I’m out and don’t have glasses with me. It has up to 10x magnification so you could see stuff on menus if you’ve forgotten your readers. It’s not ideal, but better than nothing. :)

    7. ghost_cat*

      I found them easier than I expected, but my only warning is to be careful at first with uneven surfaces / switching focus. Quickly turning my head to look into the distance for traffic while crossing the road and then down at short range as I stepped over the edge of the footpath was a rookie mistake.

    8. BooklovinRN*

      I love not having a line any longer. I feel there is a more natural progression between near and far. As most have replied, within the first hour my eye and brain figured out where to look through the lenses so I could see. I splurged and got prescription sunglasses as well.

    9. Bagpuss*

      I got used to mine very quickly- to start with it was a bit distracting when turning my head or looking to the side, so I continued to wear my old ones when driving for the first week or two.

      I know when I got them there were different options at different prices which relate to how big the field of vision is (IIRC, with the cheaper ones, there’s more of the distortion round the edges)
      I went for the more expensive ones but not the most expensive ones, after discussion with my optician.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I did find that for me, wearing them full time was a bit of a strain for the first week or so, so I Wore them at work and either used my old glasses or left them off completely and just lived in a blur, for the evenings, but only for the first week or so as I adjusted. And I think part of that was that my prescription had also changed so I was adjusting to that as well as having varifocals!

    10. Podkayne*

      I hated mine. After due diligence over s week or more, I gave up and returned them. I had to actually turn my head in different ways to find the right space to see accurately, whether it was to read a book, view my laptop screen, or drive. Driving was dangerous, as I tried to access both the distance through the windows and mid-distance on the dashboard. … The depth perception, as already mentioned, was an issue, as well. … Maybe my lenses were poorly fabricated; maybe my vision situation wasn’t conducive for progressive lenses ..who knows?

    11. CatCat*

      It took me over a month to get used to them. It was easier to get used to them when doing activities in my living room like watching TV and reading books or things on my phone or tablet. I can now wear them out and about with no problem and it is nice to not have to take off my glasses to look at texts and such while out and about.

      Meanwhile, my husband adapted to his right away.

    12. Love to WFH*

      At first, you need to consciously point your nose at what you’re looking at, but it quickly becomes automatic.

      I suspect that people who have the most trouble adjusting to progressives don’t “commit”. They wear them for awhile, then put their old glasses on for awhile, and so on. I put my first pair on at about 10am, and wore them until bedtime.

      1. Podkayne*

        This is a variation on “you’re just not trying hard enough,” “you’re not motivated enough,” so that if they don’t work it is due to user failure. … As an adolescent, I tried hard contact lenses, and they were painful, difficult for me to insert, a nightmare for me to take out, but I was told that “if only you were motivated enough they do would work.” That guilt I had never fully went away. I could wear soft lenses when they came out. Progressive lenses did not work for me. I am glad they work for many.

        1. Slightly Above Average Bear*

          They didn’t work for me either. I tried for a few months, but they were triggering terrible migraines.

        2. Fikly*

          I worked for an optometrist. Can confirm that some people simply cannot adjust, because their brains will not do it.

          I loathe victim blaming.

    13. Generic Name*

      I need them at the point. I expressed the same hesitation you did, and my eye doctor said that the people who adjust most quickly are the ones who wait the longest before getting them, so he said I could wait until my current glasses are “driving me crazy”. I’m typing this now without my glasses. :/

    14. The teapots are on fire*

      It didn’t take me long at all, once I got a good pair. The quality of the lens design and the skill of the dispensing optician really, really matters. They have to measure you correctly and get the center of the lens in the right place. My eyes don’t converge normally when I read, and I have astigmatism and prisms, so it’s especially complicated to dispense glasses to me. Be cautious and skeptical and look for reviews from people with bad eyes.

    15. the cat's ass*

      I ADORE mine, especially after suffering through traditional trifocals. Also recommend large frames for maximum vision and a smooth transition between the different regions of the glasses. Good luck!

    16. Courageous cat*

      Fwiw, I worked in an optometry office as a tech for some time and everyone seemed to love them, I don’t recall most people having any issues at all. Don’t be nervous!

    17. Rage*

      I had no issues getting used to mine; it was just like getting a new pair of regular glasses. In fact, I’ve been kicking myself for not getting them sooner!

    18. Elle Woods*

      I love mine. I got my first pair about 2.5 years ago. It took a day or two to adjust but it was really quite easy overall. The best bit of advice I got was from the optician who told me that, especially in the first few days/weeks, to be careful when going down the stairs.

    19. Wishing You Well*

      I could never get used to my progressive eyeglasses. They made me dizzy. I gave up. I have a prescription pair of readers now, due to astigmatism. I’m glad others had better results.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I just ordered progressives for the first time and am really second guessing that. I suffer from vertigo and have often had difficulty finding lenses/glasses that don’t make me dizzy. (Turns out I need very flat lenses, and it has to sit off my face with nose pads.) Finding a good optometrist has helped so I’m hoping with her guidance I’ve chosen something that will work, but I fear I made an expensive mistake.

        1. Just Another Cog*

          Oh, I sure hope they work for you! I have a couple pairs of duds that I can’t use. I wonder if you can reject the glasses if they don’t work at all? I’ve never tried it, but you should be able to.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Yes, they’ll replace them with regular lenses — or maybe redo? they didn’t mention that option — but I can’t simply return them for full value. It won’t be a total loss, but the progressives are like 170 more than the regular so I could be out that much.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      I love mine; I finally have glasses I can see through again without having to attach stupid magnifiers to them. I can even drive in them, although I prefer contacts if I’m going out (I still need readers with those).

    21. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I almost fell down the stairs when I tried them and decided I’d rather just switch glasses, but I think most other people like them and don’t have a problem! I would be particularly careful about going down stairs, though, until your brain learns to process what that looks like wearing these lenses.

    22. Heather*

      My eye doctor told me to wear them all day, every day for the first two weeks, so my eyes would develop muscle memory for the different focal points. I did as she said and didn’t enjoy it, but she was right!

    23. BookMom*

      Love mine! It took me about 30 seconds to get used to them. My optometrist is not terribly “aggressive” with the lower section of readers so I do still end up taking my glasses off sometimes, especially when I’m tired. I sometimes have to remind myself to tilt my chin down when I’m viewing at a long distance, such as a large theater.

    24. Rara Avis*

      I also found the adjustment extremely easy. I was aware of the difference for a day or two and then stopped noticing it. My optometrist said I would need another pair specifically for computer work, but I haven’t found that to be the case.

    25. cityMouse*

      I had but one issue the first time I got them: I stumbled when going up/down steps. It took about two weeks for my brain to adjust. And my peripheral is a bit distorted, which can be a distraction if walking along, say, a busy sidewalk. The traffic rushing by can be a bit weird. Having said that, it is amazing how quickly you can adapt. Most of the time, I have no problems. And honestly, the first thing I noticed is that I can see! Everything is sharp and clear. I can read fine print and see which bus is coming. What a relief.

      However, the stumbling can be a risk for those with mobility issues, especially older people, and it appears to be underreported. There are proper studies being done, if you use search terms “seniors falls progressive/multifocal lenses”.

      But if you are young and healthy, and have a good optometrist, you will be fine! I would hope they would work with you to ensure you are comfortable, and if not, they should redo the prescription. Hold on to your old glasses just in case, and I would share your concerns with your dispensing optician.

    26. CaptainMouse*

      I adjusted very quickly and love them. HOWEVER, if they are made even slightly wrong, they can make dizzy, lose your depth perception and never really adjust. This happened to me with my second pair of progressives; it was awful. Since I had such a good experience with pair the first I went back to the optician and had them remeasure my pupil height and remake the lenses. Then they were fine. I suspect that at least some of the people who can’t adjust actually have misaligned lenses.

    27. *daha**

      I chose lined trifocals instead. I just like the idea of having clear divided zones of vision without in-between spots, and I don’t mind that other people can see the lines in the glasses.

    28. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I have never been able to adjust to them. I can read the dashboard of the car while wearing them but I can not really read a book or the monitor of a computer.

      I went back to the eye story that sold me the glasses, the doctor who proscribed them, and to another eyeglass place to get advice. No one could help.

    29. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve been wearing progressive lenses for many years and I love them. When I first got them, I walked out of the optometrist office and the floor looked uneven. Looking down was disconcerting and made me hesitate. However, looking forward they worked okay, and it was no problem at all to drive home.

      By the end of the next day, looking down was fine. There were some minor adjustments that took another day or so, but since everything looking forward was almost perfect pretty much right away, overall the adjustment was minimal. I suggest that you arrange your schedule to allow for time when you can adjust.

    30. The OG Sleepless*

      I wore them for a couple of years. I NEVER got used to going down the stairs in them, and I tripped a couple of times hiking. I might be a little different because I’m not at all nearsighted, just farsighted. I finally ditched them because, tbh, I didn’t like the way I looked in them; I felt like the mom in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” I wear contacts now to correct just enough of my near vision without messing up my far vision, and use drugstore reading glasses for the rest.

    31. Alanis*

      You’ve had lots of responses so you can see there is a range of comfort with them. I hated them. I had two pairs and I found them useless for everything. They weren’t strong enough for driving and were useless for the computer. I don’t need glasses for reading. I’ve split into 2 pairs, distance and computer and that works much better for me.
      I am evangelical about getting dedicated computer glasses. If you spend 8 hours a day staring at the screen, a prescription for the distance to the monitor makes such a difference to quality of life. Even if you’re happy with the progressives I would still recommend getting dedicated computer glasses.

    32. Rebecca Stewart*

      It took me a few hours, and while I’d avoid driving while doing it, I was fine reading and doing computer things and cooking. By the following day driving was no problem. But I’d already arranged for transport to the optician in case they dilated my eyes. (When they dilate my eyes, I ALWAYS get a migraine.)

    33. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’ve had them for years, and love them. Still, there are moments where I search for the right angle to hold my head so I’m looking through the right part of the glasses when shifting focus to or from something small.

    34. Fikly*

      I used to work for an optometrist. I saw many, many people make the transition.

      Best advice is to start out wearing them when you first wake up, not in the middle of the day, it’s the easiest way for your brain to adjust.

      A small percentage of people will not adjust. However! Sometimes an adjustment to the lenses themselves will fix the issue, and sometimes they are made with the focal point in the wrong place, just as an error, and that should be fixed free of charge to you (typically this cost gets eaten by the lens company). So if you are struggling with the transition, don’t assume progressives just won’t work, and instead go back to your optometrist and have them check the lenses.

      As for myself, I started wearing them at 28 and never looked back. However, I have found that the prescription must match exactly between my regular glasses and my sunglasses, otherwise I can’t go back and forth between them, which is mildly annoying because it means I have to change both pairs at the same time, which is expensive. But not everyone is that sensitive.

    35. 653-CXK*

      I’ve been wearing glasses since I was six months old, and had bifocals until I was a late teenager. I began wearing progressives around college age or so, and they’re terrific. No lines, and the field of vision is clear.

      One bit of advice – it will take some time to adjust if you’re not used to single lenses. Once you do, you’ll swear by them.

    36. Alan*

      I’ve had a couple different pairs. The first pair took a few days and I was really concerned but eventually they felt good. When a couple years later I had some problems with close work I replaced them with a different brand and that really helped. Different brands have different sizes for the close and far corrections. If you have a problem, your doctor should be able to work it out. And you likely won’t have any problems other than a short adjustment period perhaps.

  2. Progressive Lenses*

    Really? That’s excellent. I’ve been told that it takes anywhere from two to four weeks, which has had me in a panic. Thanks, you’ve made me feel much better and hopeful that I will be able to adjust as quickly as you did.

  3. Victoria*

    When I first got progressives, I had trouble with stepping up and down curbs and sudden head turns for about a week and a half before my brain finished the firmware update. Basically it was like things changed shape in disconcerting ways when my head turned. When my head was still, everything was great.

    Had a little nausea during the adjustment period, and had to be a little careful because my brain wasn’t registering ground height quite right when I looked around while walking. Driving was fine, but I was careful to stay in low-difficulty situations for a few days.

    Once the brain firmware updated, I’ve mostly liked them. My optometrist’s advice was point your nose at what you want to see and then look up or down to hit the right part of the focus. I got used to that very quickly.

    1. Anonosaurus*

      Haha I love the idea of a firmware update. That’s exactly what it is. I just got new progressives a week ago and I’d say it took 2-3 days to adjust (I have had them for s few years now though). I find it helpful just to remind myself that I know my visual perception and processing system has to install the new version and not to panic. The biggest issue with this pair is my computer monitor which I am still having some adjustment issue with, but I think it may be because I used a different optometrist this time and the gradation is different. If it doesn’t resolve within a week I’ll ask him. But in general, progressives should be fine and they beat switching between single vision pairs all the time (which I did for a while because I was in denial about needing progressive lenses).

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    Still not too much for me recreationally, but I do expect to have more time next week. I did jot down some things to work on but that’s about it for me this week.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I finished a manuscript and got it sent off to the client. They emailed me to say the last 2 chapters were so moving they cried.

      So that was really satisfying!

      My other very-nice-but-mildly-infuriating client is still working through revisions and continues their love affair with the words “transcend” and “amplify.” They want to shove those words into every other paragraph, it seems.

      In no instance are they using the words correctly:

      “When the husband died and the wife became a single mom, her responsibilities amplified.”

      No, dear client. No they did not. They may have grown, expanded, or multiplied. They could even have proliferated, though I would discourage it. They definitely did not amplify.

    2. Rage*

      In a word: lousy. But that’s as usual. I’ve been dealing with an Absent Muse for over 10 years. To be fair: the creative part is still there. I can come up with incredible ideas, I can assist others in working through their plot holes/blockages, I just can’t sit down and write my own. (And this extends to ANY creativity: painting, needlework, crafting, etc.)

      As one person succinctly put it: “Your get-up-and-go got up and went.”

      But I think I am finally on the correct path to resolving the issue, it’s just a slower process than I’d like. But also with full time work chaos and part time grad school – it’s not like I have a TON of free time to plop down some words.

      I do have a children’s book that I need to just start querying. Two, actually. Somebody needs to just kick me in the butt and make me do it. (Instead of, you know, whining about it on AAM Weekend Thread :p )

      1. RagingADHD*

        Stress kills your creative process, for sure. Or rather, eats it up, because creativity = problem-solving.

        The more urgent / practical problems you are required to solve in your day-to-day, the less juice you have for solving artistic problems. It’s Woolfe’s “room of one’s own and 500 lbs a year” phenomenon. Someone in that position doesn’t just have free time – they have financial security and options.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been so tired from temping that I haven’t even LOOKED at my stuff. Not only have I been getting up very early, but sitting in someone else’s chair is extremely uncomfortable. One more day and then I’m done. But the story is coalescing in my head, and I’m getting more and more eager to dive in regardless of circumstances. I think I needed to step away a little; that always seems to help when I’m unable to concentrate on something.

      One advantage to the temp thing is that it has reset my schedule to a more workday-friendly one. I’m very motivated to keep that up, in case of sudden job acquisition and relocation, but also so I can use morning energy to get some work done in the meantime. Once I start working full-time again, I’ll have to go back to writing in the evening and on weekends.

      I got a small flat LED daylight lamp and hung it on the wall; it helps a little.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I started writing a book of mystery short stories for kids! Don’t know where it will lead, as the contest I thought I could submit it to turns out not to accept stories or story collections, but I’ll try to worry about that when I actually have enough to make a book.

    5. just another bureaucrat*

      I’m really struggling and I know I need to carve some creative space in my life, I’ve been trying to journal a little to get to a place where dumping words out doesn’t feel so bad and doing it physically so I don’t feel so drawn to just do a little of the other thing we don’t talk about. I keep feeling like writing it down is…like committing a crime? it’s not, I don’t know why it feels like it, but I start to put pen to paper and I just have a panic that …it now exists? I’ve never felt like this about writing before and it’s disconcerting for me. So I’m going to keep trying to figure it out and keep going. But it’s rough.

      1. just another bureaucrat*

        Ok writing this yesterday inspired me to go home and write on the cover of a notebook “Burn me!” and then covered the inside of it with notes about trashy trashy trashy trash of the writing inside it and don’t ever read it because seriously a waste of time, and I did it in my worst handwriting.

        And then I wrote about 7 pages of a short story in it. Its not great, it’s pretty trashy actually, but I feel so much better for having done that!

    6. beentheredonethat*

      I have stories written by my grandmother and great uncle from early 1900’s. I decided to start writing stories from the 50’s I had heard from my Mom. I posted several on Facebook… short stories about 1000 words. It was exhilarating. I started making list of just 1 or 2 words to remind me of all the stories I can tell. For instance, canoe, trip to grandma, paint uncle edgar. I have done 4 posts now. I made it up to 1960. This thread, encouraged me to try. Thanks.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    For me it was once again mostly Cookie Clicker. Who knew a silly idle games about baking cookies could hold my attention for so long.

    1. philmar*

      I am playing Borderlands The Pre-Sequel… again… again… I played it when it came out in 2014 for PC, bought the PS4 “Handsome Collection” around 2019, and now I’m stuck in a hotel room with no car for a month, and I thought, what the hell, $20 on the Switch for the first 3 Blands games.

      Funny thing is, in 2014 I was also staying in a hotel room under the same circumstances, listening to the Taylor Swift station on Pandora and playing TPS, and a few days ago I was like, ooh, I wanna listen to Reputation, and realized I was just repeating the last 8 years of my life.

    2. SparklingBlue*

      Been enjoying all the classic stuff on Switch Online…but I’m excited that Pokemon Scarlet and Violet come out in November!

    3. Barrack Obama*

      If you’re into stupid internet games, play hedgehog launch and hedgehog launch 2! Those literally got me through middle/high school and I still play them all the time!

      Other than that it’s been all rachet and clank all day, PS2 edition

    4. Raia*

      My Time at Sandrock is on early access and I’ve been really enjoying how little pressure there is to do things in game. Usually in life sims it’s get to festivals on time, livestock, bed on time, rinse repeat, so I’m glad for this system. Also happy I’m enjoying so much as I bounced off of Portia.

    5. That’s Disco, baby*

      I love cookie clicker lol it’s so bizarre. I’ve been replaying disco elysium which is in my top 5 favorite games. The writing is excellent

    6. Jackalope*

      More Skyrim and D&D. I’m trying to decide what to do next with Skyrim since I finished up some major quest lines (the Dawnguard and Civil War quests), so I’m running out of stuff to do. And in D&D I’m continuing my new campaign that I started running. It’s been going well so far and I think people are having fun. I know I am! I created a character for another game that’s basically a dungeon crawl run by a family member. I liked my new character and was pretty sure that the dungeon crawl wouldn’t involve getting to use her back story at all so I made a link to the world in my campaign, and got to pull her out as an NPC this week. That was a lot of fun.

      1. Shannon*

        Skyrim is the best – love that game so much. Have you played the Dragonborn DLC? Acquired all the Stones of Barenziah? So many great quests in Skyrim… kind of makes me want to go play it right now, just thinking about it.

        1. Jackalope*

          I have indeed played the Dragonborn DLC and really enjoyed it. The Dragon Aspect shout is one of my favorite shouts, and my favorite weapon in the game (the Bloodskal blade) comes from one of the side quests.

          I haven’t gotten all of the Stones of Berenziah but am slowly getting there. They show up in the oddest of places.

    7. MEH Squared*

      I’m still playing Elden Ring (FromSoft). I just finished my second playthrough and got the ‘bad’ ending. I only need to play through it one more time to get the canonical ending, and I’ll get the plat. It should only take another hundred hours or so! I’ll keep playing this game after I get the plat, but I can be more relaxed about it. It’s only taken three months to get to this point.

    8. Zaeobi*

      I *still* haven’t finished The Last of Us 2 so have finally picked it back up now that I’ve left an incredibly stressful workplace (felt demotivated after hearing that apparently many people didn’t like the ending *but* I resisted looking up what it was – so please, *NO spoilers*!)

      Hopefully I’ll get my creativity & gaming mojo back now that I don’t have to worry about all that prolonged stress…

    9. Smol Book Wizard*

      I finished playing AER: Memories of Old despite my frustration and confusion with the wayfinding. I wish it were either less linear or more linear – I loved the scenery and the setting, but I had to google walkthroughs to figure out what order of islands I had to actually go to, and some of how to get through the temples. I have, admittedly, an absolutely terrible sense of direction in real life and also in games. That being said, the thrill of exploring the Archives was especially magical.

      And then, of COURSE, I started another playthrough of FE3H. Crimson Flower, classic mode. I feel personally conflicted about the church and Rhea myself, so I can do it without much qualms of conscience. I do intend to recruit Ashe, Marianne, and Mercedes though… I have my limits, haha.

    10. The Dude Abides*

      I “preordered” Diablo Immortal, and holy fuck has it sucked me in. A lot of callbacks to prior games, and the gameplay is everything I wished D2LOD was.

      That being said, it is a HUGE battery suck.

    11. Liane*

      TL/DR: I used AAM while GMing!

      Playing and GMing* Cyberpunk RED on a Discord play-by-post. This week I got to use stuff I’ve read on AAM. For those who don’t know, Exec is one of the Cyberpunk RPG roles PCs can take. Also, Cyberpunk RPG companies, their mangers, C-Suiters, HR, etc. invariably would win AAM Worst Boss/company polls.

      We had a session go VERY badly in game. This was largely due to the Exec PC impulsively pulling a gun when he was trying to negotiate with a powerful slumlord who had a bunch of well-armed friends right there. As it so happened just afterwards he had a “Side hustle” roll that got him a bonus from his employer! As a co-GM running these side hustles, I turned to AAM to come up with something that made sense:
      *PC’s boss was trying to get him fired over the incident.
      *Meanwhile PC discovered an expense report that had “more padding than the CEO’s chair,” which made a rival of the PC’s Grandboss look very bad.
      *Happy to have ammo to use against her rival, Grandboss refused to allow the PC to be fired.
      *The bonus wasn’t a legit bonus – Grandboss had her pet netrunner (hacker) secretly transfer it from the department budget to the PC.
      *Grandboss made sure PC found out she did this – so he’d be more loyal to her, not his direct boss.
      Did I mention that Cyberpunk managers never read AAM?

      *NOT at the same time! Three of us are Co-GMs/mods who take turns running gigs

    12. DarthVelma*

      I have fallen back into ARK. My partner found us a gorgeous site for our main base and we did some building this weekend. We need to do more…we are up to our asses in dinos.

      They didn’t have the tek dinos when I was playing before and they are SO SHINY! I haven’t gotten too much into the higher levels of tech in the game yet, but my personal “win” condition this time around is to have a T-Rex with lasers. :-)

    13. Allosaurus*

      We found a box of Domino while cleaning and have enjoyed the retro feeling of playing a physical game.

  6. Bethlam*

    Seconded. I love, love my progressives, but the right strength for the computer had me tilting my head up which resulted in neck strain. So I got a 2nd single strength pair just for the computer and left them at work.

  7. Kelly Kapoor*

    I had posted on a Friday open thread a couple of weeks back, asking about ear piercings at a business casual office (this is not a work question btw) Thank you to everyone who responded! I started off small for now with a couple of lobe piercings, and I’m happy to share that as most of you predicted, it was a complete non-issue at work – I don’t think anyone even noticed it :)

    I’m already planning my next! I’d love to hear your experience with cartilage piercings – what was super painful and difficult to heal? What was a breeze? Which is your favourite piercing?

    1. Anon for this*

      I have had a number of cartilage piercings. The tragus was by far the most painful, and it took awhile to heal due to sleeping on my side. But I still loved it! Not sure I had a favorite though I love the look of the conch piercing.

    2. Laura Petrie*

      I’ve got a piercing in my upper cartilage I’ve had for 20 years and was done with a piercing gun, which I now know is a bad idea. I also got a tragus piercing last summer, done at a reputable studio with a needle. I didn’t find the piercing itself painful at all, but it felt tender and stung a bit afterwards.

      Healing was fine, I had to sleep laying on my other side for a while and was advised to avoid headphones, particularly ear buds, until it was healed. I followed the aftercare instructions and it was absolutely fine.

      I’m planning a rook and dairy piercing later this month and am considering an outer helix too.

      Go for it!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have wanted two more lobe piercings in my left ear for the longest time (I have two currently, so I’d like four total) and I’ve tried a couple times over the years, with a legit piercer, but every time I’ve had to take them out because they just wouldn’t heal :(

    4. Anonosaurus*

      My tragus has been fine, it looks good and no major healing issues. I like how my helix looks, but I wouldn’t get it again if I had my time back. It has been super hard to heal and still isn’t quite there over eight months in. This isn’t unusual for cartilage. I think with the helix since it’s on the outside of the ear it gets moved every time you catch it (and you will – on a pillow, putting on clothes, washing your hair). It’s a commitment. But it might just be me! And I’m about to go and get a rook in the same ear so my advice is probably worthless ;)

    5. Sundial*

      My tragus took over two years to fully heal, which was a total PITA. It didn’t actually hurt that much (though the loud crunch when she pierced it was gross) it was just fussy and high-maintenance. Masks and long hair were constantly getting caught and tugging, which caused a lot of setbacks. But it’s my favorite piercing and I love the way it looks.

      One day I plan to get an orbital in my mid-helix, but I’m waiting until masking is no longer a constant issue. Fingers crossed.

      Buy a doughnut pillow for cartilage piercings, or force yourself to back sleep if you can.

    6. slashgirl*

      I have a helix in one ear, industrial in the other (plus lobe piercings), both done by pro piercers with needles. First hole of the industrial was fine–felt it and it hurt but not bad…but the second one–took several long seconds for the needle to go through and it hurt. It was also very sensitive the first little while it was healing–I think it was within the first week and I accidentally brushed my fingers against it very lightly–hurt like a mofo and made me cry, briefly. It was the second worst pain I’ve had with a piercing (worst, if you’re wondering were my nipple piercings).

      Helix wasn’t at all painful–obvs, it hurts when the needle goes through, but it was quick. Although it did actually bleed when they pierced it–only one I’ve had that I’ve had any amount of blood, as in needed a tissue to clean it up–didn’t bleed for very long. And I don’t remember it being really sore while it healed.

      My fave is my industrial–I like the look of it.

    7. hewwo world*

      I used to have a piercing in my upper ear cartilage, and I honestly didn’t feel the piercing at all. Your mileage may vary, however: this was likely an adrenaline response, but the experience was pretty chill. I went to a piercing parlor and had it done the “””good””” way with a needle and not a gun. I however say “used to” because I had some trouble healing from it, so I come just with some warnings I’ve learned from that (I hope to someday get it re-pierced, btw! I’m not giving up yet, just waiting for things to be the right timing to try again.)

      Issues I had:

      -I got the piercing right as I started a food service job, in the summer, where part of my daily required uniform was a hat – this was a very bad combination I soon learned, with the heat/sweat/friction involved. I suggest being careful about particularly wearing hats while you’re healing! It was never immediately obvious it was causing trouble, but at the end of a long day the rubbing from the hat definitely was causing trouble on top of being hot and sweaty – if you’re in a part of the world that’s going into summer, saline sprays are very nice to flush sweat from the area and cool things down. I got one bottle of expensive piercing saline at the piercing parlor, but I ended up switching to cheaper saline you might be able to find in the pharmacy section of a grocery store – just make sure it’s plain saline, I’m not sure if one with medications of any kind in it would be good?

      -My second issue was with sleeping on it: I am a side sleeper, and normally a very light sleeper, so I had assumed I’d wake up if I rolled onto the “wrong” ear by accident. For some reason… I didn’t. Sleeping on that ear really screwed up the healing, to the point my piercer told me it looked like I’d tried to put too large of a gauge into the hole (I had not tried to change that at all!) I found a helpful solution unfortunately a bit too late for it to help me but: do you know those travel-neck-pillows that are shaped like a horseshoe? I got one that had a snap at the open end, so it could be secured into a solid donut – this was very helpful to me, and I wish I’d figured it out sooner! I was able to lie on my side, but without putting pressure on my ear. If you are also a side-sleeper, it might be useful for you!

      I know I didn’t have a great experience, but I have a friend with multiple cartilage piercings who had no trouble, I just had some bad luck and timing with mine, really. I’ve learned a lot, and again, even a “bad” experience hasn’t turned me off them – I look forward to being able to try again!

    8. All het up about it*

      I have a tragus and an upper cartilage. I’ve had them for so long, I can’t really remember them hurting that much. (Though more than a lobe, certainly.) The more experienced your piercing, the better you’ll be! I agree with both of them side sleeping can be an issue. I learned to sleep with my my pillow in a certain way to give some space and allow me to do so. I still want a rook piercing, which is ironically the first cartilage piercing I ever wanted and will likely be the last I ever get.

  8. Sick and desparate*

    I am supposed to be on holiday visiting friends and at an event today but instead I am at home sick. I hate this. Its not covid. I have checked multiple times. But its been a week and I am not getting better! I suddenly developed a runny nose yesterday which I didnt have for the 5 days before. My throat is dry and scratchy and me body physically aches. I am taking day nurse/night nurse but still struggling to sleep. And today is the last day I should be taking them as it says no more than 3 days.

    Anybody got any recommendations for meds to help kick a persistent cold?

    1. misspiggy*

      Keep testing – it took a week for my symptoms to turn out to be Covid.

      I find plenty of zinc supplements useful, and Anadin Extra (paracetamol, aspirin and caffeine) makes me feel less rotten.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Along these lines, my sister and aunt both felt sick but repeatedly tested negative while their live-in partners had covid. The false negative rate even for PCRs is not that low.

      2. Rose*

        Can you walk through the testing journey?

        I was exposed to covid on Sunday (so six days ago). Tuesday I started wheezing really bad and my head hurt a lot. I’ve had five negative home tests and a negative PCR Wednesday and everyone thinks I’m crazy but I’m convinced I have it. The only time my lungs have ever felt this way were when I had pneumonia (which doesn’t come on out of the blue) and when I had covid.

        1. Denaranja*

          I have Covid right now and here’s my journey:

          Had a trip this weekend with friends and we were all fine during the trip.

          I arrived home Monday Labor Day

          Tuesday woke up with a cough. I otherwise felt fine aside from fatigue, even ride my peloton that evening.

          Wednesday woke up, same cough, had some achy legs (especially my calves) Wednesday afternoon. Messaged the gals I was with and 2 out of the 3 were also having a cough or cough + congestion. Took 3 antigen tests and they were all negative.

          Thursday woke up and felt same as Wednesday, did a pcr test and it was positive. 2 of the other gals were too. We’re all assuming the 3rd one had Covid recently and she was immune, no way she wouldn’t have caught it.

          Friday woke up with stuffy nose. Same cough. Coughs been a mix of mucus and dry but mostly dry. Had several coughing fits. I only spiked a fever once Thursday afternoon, around 99.5. My rapid test finally came up positive.

          Saturday woke up feeling more weak. Same cough, poor lungs tired from all the coughing. Stuffy AF nose. Sore back.

          1. Stitch*

            I personally don’t have this symptom but my sisters have COVID (coincidentally, while I was with one sister this weekend, the other was in a different state) and both report very achy legs.

            I have an itchy throat and a mild cough, mild enough runny nose that I thought it was just allergies (I was with one of my sisters for the long weekend and we tested after she came up positive). My 3 year old has a mild runny nose, my husband has a headache. Husband and I are triple vaxxed.

            My parents who just got boosted again so far are negative.

            1. roxie*

              OMG.
              I just got a positive PCR (took them 3 full days to get it to me, total failure) and have been sick all week and achy legs like i have NEVER felt before was one of my symptoms!! this explains a lot.

      3. Stitch*

        My family just all tested positive for COVID after testing negative earlier. Fortunately the adults are all triple or quadruple vaxxed and have mild symptoms and the three year old (too young to be vaxxed) seems to just have a mild runny nose.

    2. Melon*

      (Not a medicine recommendation) I used to get colds fairly frequently in the before-covid times and I’ve relied on steam inhalation and salt water gargles for relief

    3. Venus*

      Someone once described a runny nose as the body’s way of getting rid of the virus or bacteria or whatever has been destroyed by the infection. So when the taps get turned on high then I know I’m nearing the end.

    4. Anon in NY*

      Sounds like it could be flu which is still running wild in my area of the Northeast. Hope you feel better soon.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Flush put your nose and sinuses with a neti pot or nasal rinse. Nap when you can. Drink a lot of tea, water, etc, and take an nsaid to help with the aches.

    6. Love to WFH*

      Zinc has been shown in double blind studies to help people get over a cold faster. If you’ve got a low fever, your cold could have turned into pneumonia. A doctor can diagnose that.

      Colds can just take a long time. :-(

    7. Michigan mom*

      Any fever? My neighbors just went through Influenza A. If it’s just a cold I recommend zinc like so am but that is usually in the beginning.

    8. Denaranja*

      It sounds like Covid… my rapid tests were negative until I had more symptoms. I had a positive pcr test. Started out coughing with body aches then started o get a stuffy/runny nose a few days later.

      1. RagingADHD*

        That’s the tricky thing about Covid – it also sounds like *everything* else, too.

    9. Rage*

      That was similar to me earlier this year, and it turned out to be bronchitis. I didn’t get the cough until Day 3 (diagnosed on Day 1 of symptoms). But I couldn’t sleep, ached all over (and nothing helped), and actually thought I had a weird combo of COVID, Influenza, and Strep. But no, it was bronchitis and it was just as horrible as I remember from 20+ years ago LOL

      I was back to work after about a week (worked from home for a few days) but the cough persisted for almost a month. (Also, the cough med they gave me did nothing so I just went back to Nyquil.)

    10. WellRed*

      Lots of liquids. I personally wouldn’t worry about extending the meds for another day or so but that’s a personal decision of course.

    11. Sick and desparate*

      Thanks everyone for the replies. I do in fact have covid. I tested negative for 10 days straight before finally getting a postive today.

      Which I guess is good to know but doesnt help with me trying to get better.

      Should I still try zinc?

      1. misspiggy*

        Definitely! No down side as far as I’m aware, and might well help you recover faster. Anti inflammatories probably a good idea too. And if you can order in a good broth, like chicken stock from the supermarket or something like Wonton soup, it is likely to make you feel a lot better at least for a while.

        Hope you feel much better soon.

      2. Overeducated*

        I think vitamins can’t hurt. And from what I’ve heard, just do your best to take it easy and not strain yourself, it sounds like this can take a long time to get over and pushing too hard too fast doesn’t help.

        I’m there with you – had to cancel the first vacation we’ve taken to see friends since well before the pandemic because we got it too this week, even though the trip wasn’t until next week, and nervous that my elementary schooler will miss the last days of school. It just drags on so LONG.

    1. RagingADHD*

      There seems to have been another change to the ad network, because my ad blocker isn’t working as well.

      The ads are really intrusive and cause the comments to expand or collapse randomly, the screen to jump around, comments to go in the wrong place or get lost in a page reload, etc.

      The site is unreadable on mobile without a robust ad blocker.

      1. Dino*

        I’ve recommended this site to so many people who came back later to say “Are you sure that’s a legit site because it crashed my browser, seems like a scam?”

        I know Alison has to get paid but the ad situation is off-putting on multiple fronts.

      2. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I’m sorry to admit I use an ad blocker when I view on my iPad because otherwise the webpage crashes before it even loads.

        1. Generic Name*

          And I’m someone who really doesn’t mind ads. I was a kid in the 80s, so ads are just a part of life, to my mind. I’ll watch YouTube ads.

          1. GoldenDawn*

            Yeah, I happily turn off my AdBlocker for sites I want to support, but it’s not possible here sadly. The site is unusable for me without a robust AdBlocker.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Honestly, even with it! I have to reblock the elements every time I come here. It’s a big part of why I’ve trimmed my reading (I used to be a regular).

      3. ecnaseener*

        Meanwhile I’m over here on Firefox mobile blissfully unaware of any issues! Not saying that to rub it in, just taking the opportunity for a PSA that Firefox has automatic adblocking.

      4. Bye Academia*

        Yeah, agreed. I don’t mind breakthrough ads, it’s more about the functionality of the site. The comments almost never stay collapsed anymore, and the page will often jump while I’m in the middle of reading one as ads load or comments randomly expand. It makes me not want to go through the comments anymore.

        I’m using Chrome on a Windows laptop, if it matters.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I am too, and I’m not having any issues. The only time anything happened was when I was looking at work, and the browser there didn’t have any adblocker.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yes! The inability to keep the comments collapsed is the worst of it.

      5. HBJ*

        Really? I only read the site on mobile and have never had this bad of an issue. I have long thought this is one of the sites I read with the best ad experience. Yes, the ads make the comment section jump backwards from where I was when I reload the page or post a comment, but only initially and then never again.

        I’ve read dozens of sites with much worse ad experiences (*cough* all the sites Alison writes for, to name a few *cough*)

      6. Filosofickle*

        The persistently re-expanding comments are driving me NUTS the past few days. So much worse than it’s ever been. (I’m not even on mobile!)

      7. Astoria*

        Maybe I’m just lucky, but I access the site on an iPhone via Duck Duck Go and don’t have intrusive ads.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      FWIW I’m on safari mobile and the ads are not overly intrusive to me (for when Alison is investigating this)

      1. GraceC*

        For me:

        Chrome on a Google Pixel phone with no ad-block is absolutely fine, the ads are a banner at the bottom of the screen and the occasional one between paragraphs that aren’t intrusive – I normally go on this site on mobile

        Chrome on a Windows laptop – my ad-blocker said there were 30k ads when I opened this page, over the course of writing this comment we’ve gone up to over 55,000; it’s not really usable

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Same for iPhone mobile. I only read on mobile now; if I want to post or comment I hop onto my laptop.

    3. Mimmy*

      I mainly read the site on my desktop computer (Microsoft Edge with a good AdBlocker) and my main issue has been the comments not all collapsing even though I have it set to always keep them collapsed. I was emailing back and forth with Alison, and I thought the problem was resolved but it still happens. What I’ve found to help is to click the Collapse/Expand All button twice – once expands everything, then I click again and that collapses everything properly.

      I would never want Alison to not get the ad revenue, but the fact that the ads disrupt the site’s functioning is a bit disheartening. However, I believe that Alison is really trying her best.

    1. Chi chan*

      I love update posts. But golden retriever of love is good and so many others about getting a handle on mental health.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Omg I’d never seen Golden Retriever of Love before; I just read it and it’s magnificent. I wish I’d had that when my ex dumped me.

        That bit especially about doing something that your ex would dislike but that you really like. He hated incense so the whole time we were together, and during the time we tried again, I could never burn it. After I was in my new place alone for a while, I realized I could.

        Reader, I burned ALL THE INCENSE. Including dhoop.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          I had a similar thing with my ex-husband, who hated ‘fish with bones in it’ (in reality, this meant ‘anything that wasn’t fish fingers’). The first night in my own place, I cooked a salmon stir fry I’d been wanting to make for YEARS. It was oddly thrilling and felt like a really liberating moment.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I cannot find updates in captain awkward. Anyone know what I’m doing wrong?

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The line “the people in our lives have choices about how they treat us” has stuck with me since #1221 in 2019 (search: My husband’s friend Hulked out on him/us, accused us of bullying him, and isn’t taking our calls. Is it because he has a crush on me, and do I need to do anything about that?).

      1. Rose*

        I think she does a great job of talking readers through this kind of issue but it never fails to surprise annoy and depress me how many people write questions that basically boiled down to “an adult man is being abusive and horrible because he’s having a feeling. Is that ok? I just have to grin and bear it right?”

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      The post that may have coined Darth Vader Boyfriend, in which the OP had tried to break up with her boyfriend but the boyfriend didn’t find her reasons logical, so they were still together. He was extremely super logical–for example a glass had broken in his kitchen, and he didn’t pick up the broken glass because it wasn’t his fault, but he wouldn’t let her clean up the glass either because she hadn’t broken the glass, so there was broken glass in his kitchen for days or weeks because LOGIC.

      I think of him often when internet discussions turn to “But I am being LOGICAL; the problem is that all you other people aren’t logical and rational like me.”

      I can’t quickly pull up the number or would include it.

      1. fposte*

        That was such a great callout of a cheap but often successful arguing move. “It’s not me disagreeing with you, it’s Logic–don’t you see? Pay no attention to what I’m doing to Logic behind the curtain.”

        1. Rose*

          These people drive me nuts. Logic does not somehow lead to “I can never do anything good or helpful if I didn’t do something wrong first.” Logically these people would also realize that other people frequently fix their fuck ups and forgive their mistakes.

          I know I’m preaching to the quire here. It’s just so cringe.

      2. Salymander*

        Yeah, reading all the Darth Vader boyfriend posts were really helpful to me, and explained way more of my ex boyfriends than I would have expected. It it weird how we can deal with so much terrible behavior and just write it off as expected or normal. I think reading the whole Captain Awkward archive repeatedly helped me just as much as therapy did. And I had a lot of therapy.

        The Hulk posts were good too. The Feminist Hulk posts were the best. How many times have I felt like I was hulking out internally while being completely serene on the surface as if nothing was wrong? Why did I do that? There were bad things happening and my inner Hulk was screaming at me and I felt unable to do anything to stand up for myself. Fortunately, I did eventually learn how to speak up assertively, but it wasn’t easy and the first time I did it I felt really guilty. Now, decades later, it is like looking back on an entirely different person and different life. I am really glad that my kid learned to speak up from a young age. I hope it will save them a lot of trouble and heartache.

    4. Frankie Bergstein*

      This one: https://www.google.com/amp/s/captainawkward.com/2014/06/04/583-the-worry-wyvern-and-the-dragon-of-disappointment/amp/

      It’s about how Captain Awkward (aka Jennifer Peepas) didn’t turn out to be the person her parents wanted. She talks about who they wish they had (Claire Underwood) vs. who they got. She describes an achingly sad confrontation with them, too.

      As someone who can relate, this felt like a soothing balm to my heart. I read and re-read all the similar stories that readers posted in the extensive comments. It’s one of my most affirming online experiences ever.

      I think I might go revisit today. Thank you for the prompt!

    5. GoryDetails*

      So many good ones – including those where the Captain partnered with Alison!

      One that I really liked was this one: #1307: “Persistently apologetic ex thinks he’s Miles Vorkosigan.” It had to do with the difference between a really good apology and a not-really-an-apology-at-all, and would have been wildly helpful to me in my youth, both when needing to apologize and when being offered an apology.

    6. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Anytime the Captain recommends something like “What if you just stopped working so hard” at any family or friend relationships where people aren’t treating you right or aren’t particularly invested. I love that whole “You have permission to just take care of you” vibe and the lack of blame, like hey, maybe it’s NOT my fault that a friendship isn’t working out, or maybe it’s both of our faults, or maybe it IS my fault, but whatever it is, it’s not necessarily a terrible PROBLEM that has to be solved, now or ever. I used to have a really hard time accepting it when friendships changed, and I feel like Captain Awkward helped me accept that that can be okay. *Gives self African Violet of ended friendships*.

      1. moonstone*

        Captain Awkward has definitely helped me end a couple of friendships last year.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        I once wrote to Captain Awkward and this was the advice she gave me (by email reply). It made an enormous difference to how I felt about the situation and about myself as a whole, and is something I try to keep in mind with other relationships as well.

    7. Katiekins*

      #813: Labor and Leisure. “Instead of splitting hairs over equal economic contributions and equal household chores, try aiming for equality and fairness in giving both partners comparable amounts of leisure time.”

    8. the cat's ass*

      She is terrific. I can’t wait for her book, and am grateful and humbled by her way with words, her broad scope of sci fi references, and of course the rock solid advice. I’ve utilized the African Violet of failed friendships a bit lately, and might never have had the words or courage to do that otherwise without her.

    9. Dr. KMnO4*

      One that I recently found very helpful was #515, Easygoing vs. Picky. I’ve been labeled “picky” all my life, and I really appreciated her framing and discussion of it.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I had never read this one before but as someone who has spent most of my life bending over backwards to be accommodating of other people’s wants at the expense of my own and has only recently started to speak up for myself in that regard, it resonated a lot. Truly, there is a CA column for (almost) everything.

    10. My heart is a fish*

      Maybe it’s a weird one to like best, but #1253 “Beloved, you are not ‘torn,’ you are in denial about your choices” (link to follow) is in my opinion a magnum opus of advice writing. CA walked the fine line where she did not shrink away from telling this guy how badly he’d behaved, but she also kept very well focused on what he should do, both internally in coming to grips with his choices, and going forward to manage the situation he’d created.

      Getting that letter (and all the other similar ones she alluded to in the post) and answering it with the full confidence that this person was capable of behaving better, and providing him a roadmap to doing so — to me, that’s downright impressive. My answer to this guy would have been pretty unprintable.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is broken down really well.

        I’ve developed a theory that people who fall on the demisexual/monogamous end of the spectrum can trip into affairs because it’s rare for them to be strongly attracted to someone–so if that happens, it must be a Grand Sign From The Universe, rather than “you are someone who has found another person sexually desirable” which for many people can be “Tuesday.” Whereas if monogamy is more of a conscious choice and you find a lot of people bangable in theory, then you’re less likely to react to the arrival of a particularly attractive accountant at work as a reason to blow up your marriage.

  9. Melon*

    Any solo travellers here who had to deal with an anxious family? How did you reassure them while also enjoying your trip? I am not keen on the information diet strategy because I think that would stress them out even more.

    Planning my first solo trip for this summer – a week or so in London (any recommendations are appreciated! I’ll probably also make a separate post for this in a week or two, once I get a chance to do some research). My family is understandably concerned about whether I (a young POC woman) will be okay – I would be too, in their place. But I’m now in my mid-twenties so it’s also feeling a bit… stifling to me.

    1. Sick and desparate*

      My first solo trip was to London at 22. I moved here 2 years after that. My family were worried. My mom even mentioned that they never caught Jack the Ripper and I was like hes long dead and also I am not a prostitute? But in her eyes it was proof that London wouldnt be safe. I was totally fine.

      Remind them you are going to a country where you speak the language. You can get a sim for your phone here even if you do data only and just check in every few days to say you are still alive. You dont have to tell them your entire itinerary but letting them know your flights and hotels might help them. Beyond that there isnt a lot you can do. They will worry. Its your first trip alone. If you use social media they could maybe follow your update pics if you plan to post on the trip. Dont forget to look into health insurance before coming. But just remind them you have a plan and try to think of it as its not that they dont trust YOU. They are worried about everyone else and not being there if something happened.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        …I have so many responses to that bizarre logic, but that’s hardly helpful here.

        As for the OP, maybe check if your Ministry of Foreign Affairs has something where you can register your travel itinerary. Belgium has that option and I usually do it because it makes my mom worry less. Basically they use the info so that if something happens in the area you’re in (ranging from a freak storm to a building collapsing) they will have an easier time contacting you to see if you’re safe (and if necessary they can also pass that info along to your family). I’ve never needed it, but it’s nice to know.

        1. Sick and desparate*

          It was bizarre logic. I think she meant the police arent competent? But it still didnt make sense. I did send her a jack the ripper postcard. She was not impressed. XD

          She has lived in like 4 different countries but for some reason me going anywhere else freaked her out.

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            Jack the Ripper?? ROFL. I think my spontaneous response would have been, “Then I’ll bring some garlic, in case he’s a vampire.” Wow!

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes your likelihood of falling victim to a serial killer is probably statistically greater in the US (as I think there are statistically more of them). Unless you subscribe to the theory that Jack the Ripper is a demon (a la Wolf in the Fold episode of Star Trek) or a vampire, he’s long dead.

        People don’t tend to have rational fears about foreign countries. My family were always petrified when I went to the US on business in my last company because they watched a lot of Law and Order and CSI which makes it look like the US is full of crime and violence. The biggest problem I had over there was trying to work out sales tax (confusing) and remembering to tip enough but I couldn’t convince them of that.

      3. Foreign Octopus*

        Weird logic from your mum there but I do want to point out that only one of the five women the Ripper killed was actually a prostitute, and it’s theorised that because she was so much younger than the others and a sex worker that someone other than the Ripper killed her. The other four women were women who had slipped through the cracks of society – alcoholism and sexual and domestic abuse played a role in why those women were killed. It’s believed the Ripper chose them because they wouldn’t be missed by their families.

        I know that’s not the point of your comment but I wanted to leave this here just to fight back against the view that the women the Ripper killed were prostitutes.

        1. Sick and desparate*

          I did not know that! I mean even if they were prostitites they didnt deserve their fate. But it is good to be accurate with history. Or as accurate as we can be. Thanks for the correction.

          1. London Calling*

            There’s a very good book about the Ripper victims that puts them squarely at the front of the narrative and explains both the society of late Victorian England and what about it contributed to the women becoming victims. It’s called ‘The Five,’ by Hallie Rubenhold.

            1. Dr Crusher*

              Yes! She’s got a podcast too! Bad Women: The Ripper Retold. Not your typical sensational true crime podcast. It focuses almost entirely on the lives of the women and the social conditions that caused them to find themselves where they were, as well as why some people are so invested in framing them as prostitutes when there’s ample evidence that most of them weren’t. Highly recommended!

      4. Melon*

        Thank you so much, these tips are great! You’re right, they worry for me. I have travelled abroad before and had some solo time on those trips as well, but somehow they think I’ll get lost/sick/robbed/etc and won’t know how to get around. Hopefully this trip will go well and I can help dispel some of their fears :)

      5. New Yorker*

        I’ve lived in NYC for nearly 20 years, and Chicago prior to that…and my aunt still comments on how the news shows New York as being this dangerous, unsafe place. (She’s probably getting the fear from Faux News, but I digress…) My main advice, which stands for any time you’re somewhere unfamiliar — be aware of your surroundings. If you’re lost don’t obviously act like you don’t know where you are/what you’re doing– fake it and always have an attitude of “I know where I’m going, I know what I’m doing.” Don’t engage in small chit chat with people who approach you on the street, at tourist locations, on public transit.

        One thing I would put in response to Sick & Desperate is not to post live time updates on social media for safety reasons. Firstly because it indicates you’re not at home – so easier for someone to break in if they were so inclined, and secondly because if you have your networks public, and/or are “friends” with people you don’t actually know irl, it’s advertising your location, you’re by yourself, etc.

        1. StellaBella*

          Agree here. Also – do not walk around with headphones in or gawking at your phone. Be aware. Look at people around you. And enjoy the trip!

    2. misspiggy*

      London is really safe for tourists, especially if you have decent situational awareness. In talking with your family, I’d focus on your own ability not to be pickpocketed or talked into giving random people money. You’ve probably done all that in your life so far, and if so you’re well prepared for London.

      It’s a good idea to practice your not-bumping-into-people skills, or just generally work on your pedestrian game, but that’s all. Random, unavoidable danger is very rare in London.

      If you do have a problem, it’s very safe to use the emergency services, and Londoners will help if you ask. It’s fine to ask a passing commuter for help or advice, even if they initially look unfriendly. Londoners default to leaving other people alone, but in an emergency they can be pretty great.

      1. misspiggy*

        Oh, and I’m white so I can’t say for certain, but my impression is that London is one of the least racist places in the world.

        1. Clodagh*

          I don’t think OP will have any problems in London as a solo traveller but calling London one of the least racist places in the world is… not accurate. The Met have a well earned reputation and it is not a good one.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yeah a tourist is unlikely to have any problems (because they look like a tourist) especially if they’re in tourist places and doing tourist things. London is a large and diverse city so you’re unlikely to stand out unless you do something very weird.

            The UK is probably less overtly racist than it was 40 years ago (or at least overtly so) but a lot of things aren’t right. A lot of it is an entrenched inequality type thing, e.g. Black women have significantly worse pregnancy and childbirth outcomes and Black men are a lot more likely to be stopped and searched by the police.

          2. London Calling*

            Yeah, that’s the Met though. OP is probably not going to come into contact with them unless she’s very unlucky.

          3. misspiggy*

            Yes, London absolutely has a racist police problem. My impression comes only from the racism I’ve witnessed against others in a variety of places in the world. Compared to that I feel London as a whole scores relatively low, but that’s only my personal perspection.

            1. London Calling*

              They don’t score too well on attitudes to women, either. There was an interesting programme last night on the Met in the 60s and 70s being corrupt, which wouldn’t have come as any surprise to anyone living in London at the time. Consensus is it needs a good clear out.

              As for London as a whole – it’s massively improved from the 60s and 70s as regards racist attitudes. You get idiots everywhere, unfortunately.

        2. Lady Danbury*

          As a Black woman who has been to London more times than I can count and has friends/family who live there, I can objectively say that this isn’t true! With that said, I’ve never had any issues, partially because I have layers of privilege that the average Londoner doesn’t have (obviously foreign, obviously Western, relatively well off, etc). Melon is unlikely to have any issues either, but it’s completely wrong to say that London is one of the least racist places in the world. And there are still certain parts of London that I would avoid as a POC.

        3. Fikly*

          As someone who is white, you should never comment on a lack of racism. You simply cannot know.

      2. UKDancer*

        London is definitely fairly safe. The main risks for American tourists are:

        Getting run over because you’ve looked the wrong way before stepping onto the road.
        Getting lost on the tube or catching the wrong bus
        Pickpocketing

        Look both ways before travelling and if you’re not sure about the public transport ask someone. Londoners aren’t friendly (in the sense they don’t tend to talk to random strangers spontaneously) but if you ask for help most people will do something.

        Keep an eye on your bag and phone and don’t leave it where you can’t see it. Most pickpockets are opportunists so will tend to swipe things left unattended. You’re very unlikely to be subjected to mugging / armed robbery or any violence but pickpockets do operate especially in areas with lots of tourists.

        Other than that as long as you take the usual precautions you’re unlikely to have any trouble.

        1. Melon*

          Thank you UKDancer, this is very helpful! I am Indian so I should be okay with the roads, but will keep everything else in mind. Is the public transport tough to figure out? I’ll be relying on it to get around on most days

          1. Sage*

            I recommend downloading the citymapper app – it’s great for navigating public transport in London (I’ve lived here for years and still use it to check new routes). Once you know you want eg the jubilee line north then signage in stations is pretty easy to follow. London is also surprisingly walkable if you’re going from place to place in the centre, and it can be a fun way to get to know the city.

            All the big museums/galleries are free to visit for their permanent collections, although some now require you to book a time slot ahead of time since covid.

            1. pancakes*

              I was going to say, Citymapper is brilliant for getting around London. It will even tell you which part of the platform you want to wait at if you’re switching trains or exiting in a particular direction.

          2. UKDancer*

            Public transport isn’t particularly difficult I don’t think. The underground stations all have big maps of the network and information boards. There are employees at most stations who will help you if you get lost or aren’t sure.

            The buses can be a bit more confusing if you’re not used to them but there should be a plan and you can check on the TfL app or on their website which is the next bus that’s coming. Feel free to ask people at bus stops if you get stuck.

            1. Pippa K*

              I don’t live in London but travel there regularly and definitely recommend the buses as a supplement to the tube. Much easier to use than you might expect, with your Oyster card and the handy maps and route guides on each bus shelter. I think lots of tourists focus on the tube, which is great, but buses go a lot more places and are sometimes the more convenient option. And I say that as someone who never, ever uses buses in other cities.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Yes, and they’re much cheaper than the tube. Plus you see more.

                That said, if you can familiarize yourself with the Tube map, you can’t really get lost in London. There’s always a station around somewhere; as long as you know how to transfer (it’s not hard) and you know what station you’re staying closest to, you can get back to your lodging easily. In fact, I’m familiar enough with it now that I like to go to a specific place on my itinerary and then from there, get “lost” on purpose. :)

            2. Dr Crusher*

              Public transport is incredibly easy to navigate in London. The maps and signs are very clear. Someone not used to a big city might find the crowds and speed at which people expect you to move a little jarring at first, but you are very unlikely to get lost. There are signs everywhere!

          3. SilverTrees*

            Public transport in London is pretty straightforward, really. It’s just a lot of options which can be confusing. I highly recommend the CityMapper app, you can put in your location and destination and it’ll show you all your transport options, with times and maps etc. I use it in whenever I’m in London andvit makes it really easy.

          4. DistantAudacity*

            I also recommend figuring out and using the bus, where appropriate! Be a tourist and sit up top in the front! You get a lot of sightseeing done that way :)

            The underground is great of course, but sometimes if you need to change lines it can be a bit of a walk and lots of people, and you may have a little distance to and from the stations.

            Whereas in many cases you can just sit up top the bus and chill, and get closer to wherever you are going. Like Regent’s Canal.

            The apps are great for telling you how and where to get on the right bus at the right stop, too.

      3. Melon*

        Thank you misspiggy, this is reassuring! I’ve lived in a large and crowded city all my life so hopefully that experience helps me on this trip. Glad to know that people are generally helpful!

    3. Bagpuss*

      I agree that London is extremely safe for tourists and that while people will normally default to ignoring each other, if you need or ask for help they will be very helpful.

      In terms of your family, maybe don’t share too much information at least until you have done some research, so you can tell them that you have already researched and decided on where you will be staying, that there is a tube station or night buses so you have thought about safety etc.
      Maybe decide on how / how often you will check in with them (even if it’s just promising to post something on Instagram or facebook once a day, so it can be one way if you don’t want to have a long conversation every day!)

      1. Melon*

        Thank you Bagpuss, that’s great to hear! I think sharing a fully-fleshed out plan like you suggest will help them see that I have an idea of what to expect

      2. londonedit*

        Yes; Londoners aren’t ‘unfriendly’, we just don’t chat away to random strangers on the tube when we’re trying to get to work. If someone needs help then we’re happy to give it – I apparently give off a ‘knows her way around’ vibe and am frequently approached by tourists asking for directions, and I’m more than happy to help them. I’ve also stepped in before when I’ve noticed people struggling on the tube etc, and I’m sure the majority of other Londoners would do the same.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Skip the Tower of London – overpriced, hard to get to, jewels aren’t that extraordinary compared to similar displays in other countries, and crowded.

      Do get some good Indian food – I really liked Dishoom in Soho, kinda fancy, good cocktails.

      A lot of the art museums are free so those are well worth a visit. If you are a royals fan, the parks around Buckingham Palace are nice.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Oh and you can see Westminster Abbey for free if you go to the hymn sing which is at 4 pm as I recall.

        1. Bagpuss*

          You can always go in to the Abbey or St Paul’s free of charge if you are attending a service, but it will just be for the service, you can’t then hang around and be a tourist. So fine for a brief overview and if you enjoy church music, in which case sung evensong is a good choice, but if you actually want to look round then paying to go in is the way to go!

      2. Sick and desparate*

        Also skip the london dungeon. Its overpriced and not really worth it. Its just a few acting students playing bad pretend at Guy Fawkes times. Its a purely artificial experience as well. So not like its historically relevant.

        The walking tours around London can be good and also free. The Jack the Ripper one is okay but the majority of places where it took place are now buildings or blocked off. So its not that interesting to look at.

        The Science Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum are all fantastic if thats your thing. And free. Though I think special exhibits at the museums cost money. But you can see the regular bits free.

        Kew Gardens is a bit pricey but absolutely lovely. Make sure to check their website as sometimes they have special events on that require tickets. Their orchard “show” earlier this year was quite lovely. Again if plants and nature is your thing.

        1. Melon*

          Thank you! I’m very keen on visiting the museums as I know London has some great ones. I do enjoy art, history, architecture, and plants so all these suggestions sound perfect :) do you recommend the V&A museum? I read that it’s a must-visit for anyone interested in fashion

          1. Virtual Light*

            The V&A is A TREAT and a must-visit for me. It is chock-full of interesting stuff. You might want to check what’s in exhibit fashion-wise before you go to make sure it’s your thing. Also the tea rooms are IIRC the original William Morris design. Man I need to go back to London.

          2. The teapots are on fire*

            If you’re interested in fashion, the Alexander McQueen store on Old Bond Street apparently has ongoing exhibits about his prior collections.

          3. Bagpuss*

            The V&A is amazing- I also love the British Museum, and the British library – all are free to enter but they charge for special exhibitions and some exhibitions sell out.(I went for the Faberge exhibition recently and I know that it sold out pretty fast)

            The V&A and BM are both huge and you can’t see everything in one visit, if you have limited time it’s worth planning ahead to decide which areas you most want to see (if you have more time then just going and wandering around can be fun as you can stumble across less well publicised/ popular parts!)
            The TFL website is useful for working out how to get around on public transport and gives information about delays/line closures.
            I have no sense of direction and find Google maps is pretty good when I am walking, both for directions and timings.
            I agree that Kew is worth a visit, and I think the Tower of London is interesting even if the crown jewels are not your thing, IIRC it’s cheaper to book online (I went a few years ago on impulse when I had a free day, and ended up buying a ticket from my phone standing by the ticket kiosk as it was cheaper!)
            If you get your timing right it’s possible to book tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys (when they lock up the Tower each night) -they release tickets a few weeks in advance but they go quickly as there are only 40 or so per night.

            1. London Calling*

              Ceremony of the Keys is well worth seeing. Visited a few years ago thanks to a colleague’s connections. Amazing to think that the ceremony has been carried out every night and not one night has been missed in seven hundred years.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              If you go to the British Museum, be aware that the Great Court restaurant inside is SUPER expensive. You can skip it.

          4. Squirrel Nutkin*

            I enjoyed the Churchill War Rooms. I was last there about 30 years ago, and I believe they’ve done some renovation, etc. since. Basically, it was the underground bunker in which Winston Churchill and others in the government stayed safe as they ran the country during WWII. They had a ton of the original furnishings, etc. there, so it was like stepping back into the 1940s.

          5. Two Dog Night*

            Churchill War Rooms! If you’re at all interested in WWII, they’re fascinating.

          6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            Go to the museum of London, and possibly museum of London Docklands as well. They get a bit overlooked sometimes but both are great. Also the Wellcome collection if you’re interested in medical history at all, plus they sometimes have interesting special exhibits. It’s just down the road from Euston or king’s cross stations.

          7. pancakes*

            Absolutely, yes.

            For restaurants, Eater London is more reliable than the other cities, I think – or at least, the editors’ interests are more in line with my own. I’ll link to it separately. If it’s in your budget and you want to try a classic Sunday roast, Quality Chop House is incredibly good.

          8. pancakes*

            I thought of another thing, since you like history – the guided tour of the west part of Highgate Cemetery, which is otherwise closed to the public. It’s a beautiful place and the guide on my tour was very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.

            Check out Sir John Soane’s Museum as well.

      3. Melon*

        Thank you! I’m excited about Dishoom and welcome food recs :) art museums are totally up my alley, especially when they’re free!

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          When you make another post in a few weeks, let us know what food you enjoy or would like to try! I hope to be around to answer, and love sharing tips on where to eat in London (I used to hope I’d be able to become a food writer…that feels like another life right now).

          As a starter for ten, check out the Eater London and Infatuation websites. I get most of my ideas on what places to check out next from there, and they have some handy guides by area so you can plan food around where you’re staying or visiting.

        2. Former London ex-pat*

          Dishoom is amazing, go to any location. I also recommend Camden market for the food stalls, very fun and tasty and then you can walk through regents park or along the canals.

          If you go to dishoom in Kings Cross grab a beer at Little Creatures tap room — great beers from Perth Australia.

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I actually really enjoyed the Tower of London, primarily for the Beefeater’s tour. The history was interesting, but I had a lot of fun hearing about some of the more modern era stories too – they live on site (or did, that might’ve changed during Covid?) and I wanted to know, like, if you call up and order a pizza and give them the Tower of London as the delivery address, how often do they hang up on you thinking it’s a prank? (Answer: ALL THE TIME, the guy had a HILARIOUS story about how long it took to get his new washing machine delivered.)

        1. UKDancer*

          I like the Tower of London and the tours are hilarious. From what I know the Beefeaters have continued to live there through the pandemic.

          The guided walks are quite good too, walks dot com have a website listing all the walks they do. They’re quite interesting and you learn things you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          There’s a specific guide there who has a reputation for being very entertaining; I can’t remember his name, but he’s supposed to be very funny.

      5. London Calling*

        Hard to get to? it’s on an underground line and is a couple of miles from central London. I’d love to know what you’re comparing the Crown jewels to if you think they are nothing special. FTR, I’ve lived in London nearly all my life, went there a couple of weeks ago after not having visited for years and loved it. It has definitely improved their tourist experience. Expensive I will concede, though.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          I’m not saying the Crown Jewels aren’t extraordinarily but that’s all there is plus a whole bunch of swords and scepters. If you go to see the royal jewels in Copenhagen, you get to see necklace and earring sets etc that were actually worn.

          I assume those aren’t available in London because the queen or other royals still own/wear them. But I thought not getting to see things like a fabulous emerald necklace once worn by Queen Victoria (just making that up) was disappointing.

          Even presidential museums in the US often have jewelry given as gifts of state or worn by the First Lady on a significant occasion on display.

      6. DistantAudacity*

        Protip for the big museums: British Museum, V&A, Natural History Museum etc: get up early and go when they open. Lot less crowds.

        Also look into guided tours at the museums, but they will likely need to be prebooked early to get a spot. Also Buckingham Palace.

        I had planned to go to London in April 2020 (…) and had finally managed to book myself into a morning tour of the British Museum, before opening hours. Still haven’t been, and am looking forward to get a tour without the crowds!

        1. London Calling*

          Also, British Museum (and I think the V&A as well) have late night Friday opening.

      7. AceInPlainSight*

        I’m not sure whether the Globe is running right now with COVID, but if you’re comfortable and it’s open, it’s a spectacular time! Tickets were incredibly cheap, the acting was beautiful, and I would go again in a heartbeat.

        1. Cordelia*

          yes the Globe is up and running, you can get standing tickets very cheaply, and the tour is well worth doing even if you can’t get a play ticket

      8. David*

        I liked the Tower of London, actually. I’ll agree the jewels are nothing too exciting, but the rest of it was a pretty interesting historical museum. When I went there I didn’t make it until some time in the afternoon and I didn’t have anywhere near enough time to see everything, but I really want to go back some day and catch up on the rest.

    5. Venus*

      My mother worries the most, and we agreed that she can email me anytime asking if I’m okay and I only need to respond Yes, preferably within 24 hours. Nothing more is expected, because I don’t want to write a lot if I’ve had a long day, but that worked really well for both of us.

    6. philmar*

      What are their actual concerns? They already know you’re going alone. Is it getting mugged at night or human trafficked at a club or something? Then don’t tell them about the things they think are risky, and focus on the tourist-y things when you tell them about it. If it’s just that you’re alone abroad, then there’s really nothing you can do. Tell them your flights and hotel… and personally I would say that I could only contact them on wi-fi so you don’t have to text/call when you’re trying to enjoy a museum or something. But I very much think their anxiety is not my problem. I went to NYC last month and my grandma tried to make me promise I wouldn’t ride the subway. Sorry grandma, I’m not taking a cab everywhere because you think someone will push me onto the tracks.

      Also, I’m going to London in early July! I’ll definitely go to the V&A thanks to the recs upthread.

      1. London Calling*

        Families can be funny about stuff like this. My family lived in Australia and when I was going into Brisbane my grandmother was fussing and telling me to be careful. My mother had to remind her that I lived and worked in London, which is a lot bigger.

      2. UKDancer*

        This probably goes without saying but obviously use the same street smarts you would anywhere. Don’t accept drinks from strangers in clubs and bars in London and keep an eye on your drink to make sure nobody puts anything in it. You’re extremely unlikely to be trafficked but it has been known for people to put rohypnol in drinks on occasion as a precursor to sexual assault.

        Trafficking sadly does happen in the UK but it’s not something that usually involves tourists because there’s too much publicity if they go missing. No sensible trafficker would abduct a foreign tourist which is why the plot of “Taken” made me howl with incredulous laughter. I mean it’s a lot easier to traffic people for domestic or sexual exploitation into the UK from less affluent countries abroad by persuading them they’re coming for something else than it is to try and abduct people who are on holiday and have family expecting them back.

        Risk of mugging is very low because it’s not a common offence in the UK. Pickpockets operate but their MO depends on speed and not being noticed.

    7. Alex*

      What exactly are they worried about that will happen that wouldn’t happen in your normal life?

      My mom is a big worrier about my solo travel, but she herself was a big solo traveler in her young adult years so I have that to throw back at her :) She worries about terrorist attacks but I remind her that the US has plenty of its own terrorist attacks and I live here all day every day.

      I think one way to manage it for yourself is to remind yourself that their worry is THEIR problem. You can’t manage someone else’s feelings or fears or worries. Those are theirs to deal with. Acknowledge their worry, but don’t overly try to eliminate it for them, especially when it is pretty much unfounded.

    8. HannahS*

      Hahahaha yes 100%. My startegy was to start raising the topic a full year in advance, to let them get used to the idea. My general approach to dealing with other people’s anxiety is to listen, say, “Thanks, I’ll keep it in mind” or “Oh yes, I was planning to stay away from that part of the city/Of course, I booked my accommodation in advance” or whatever and then after that I nod politely and do whatever I want.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Haven’t read all the other replies, but I want to pop in and say that your family is allowed to feel however they want, but they can’t necessarily say whatever they feel whenever they feel it.

      You’re allowed to say, “I understand your concerns, and I’m happy to let you know my plans and what precautions I’m taking, but it’s not helping either of us to chew this over constantly. Let’s agree that I’ll let you know broadly what I’m thinking of doing as an itinerary before I book it, and then I’ll provide a final itinerary a week before I leave. You’ll have all of my contact info, and I’ll check in regularly, but otherwise we can’t spend the whole summer discussing this.”

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Great advice. I’ve taken multiple wilderness trips and routinely take solo road trips. My mother will always worry when I travel alone even when I’ve taken safety precautions to tell people where I’m going and when I’ll be back, have a cell and an emergency signal device, etc. But we’ve come to an agreement that she can’t keep bringing this up with me over and over.

    10. I'm Done*

      As an American who lived half of her life overseas, all I can say is that pretty much any country in Europe is way safer than the US. I only visited London and it was wonderful but I lived in both Berlin and Paris and even at night and taking public transportation, I never felt unsafe. Crime rates are much lower than in the US. Obviously, you should still exercise common sense but in general it’s pretty safe.

    11. Typing All The Time*

      I share my itineraries and flight info with my parents. I use my Facebook page to post pictures to show them I’m okay and also DM them to let me know everything is going well.

    12. RagingADHD*

      This sounds kind of callous, but I just… didn’t?

      My mom used to anxiously ask where I was going when I stood up to *go to the bathroom.* By my early 20s I knew there was no way to ever stop her from worrying, so I gave up and just did what I considered reasonable and kind.

      I gave them a general itinerary, called and checked in fairly regularly, (especially if the itinerary changed) and sent postcards. This was long before smartphones, so it would be even easier now.

    13. MissGirl*

      When I went out of the country for the first time, I didn’t tell my dad. I knew there was no amount of prep or reasoning that wouldn’t have him freaking out the entire time. I told my step-mom so she could get a hold of me and called regularly. My mom had my full itinerary so she could keep tabs on me (always important when traveling someone knows where you are).

      I also paid a little extra to have a working phone (it really wasn’t that much, like $40 for the entire trip) so that I could call and text whenever I had service. Seeing my fun photos and quick texts kept my mom reassured.

    14. Eff Walsingham*

      Long time solo traveler, and I’m trying to think why I don’t recall dealing with a lot of worry from my family while doing it. Well, my brother used to hitchhike a lot, and anything I had in contemplation was safer than that.

      But I do remember saying once that Ted Bundy wouldn’t have got me, because I wasn’t one of those *helpful* girls. Tell a stranger where to *get* help, yes, but I wouldn’t help them personally if it involved going anywhere with them or coming close to their vehicle. I have always been a fairly reserved and suspicious traveler. So maybe it might help to remind your concerned family (nicely) that you are not naive or helpless, and will not forget how human nature works simply because you are in a strange place. Repeat any basic advice they have given, such as keeping your eyes on your drink at all times, or not going into dark or deserted places, just to show them you have listened.

      It may help to show that you appreciate the concern behind the worry, even though the worry is OTT. Like saying warmly, “I love you and I’m looking forward to traveling safely and coming back to you in one piece!” and then changing the subject. As others have said, you don’t have to be open to rehashing the subject endlessly before you go. Just have a line ready to acknowledge and redirect as needed.

    15. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I think in London, you are going to be just fine, knock wood! If it makes your parents feel better, you could look up where the US embassy/Airline Office/American Express/any Travelers’ Aid-type organizations are and their phone numbers, print out the info, and keep it with your passport, just in case anything goes sideways. Have fun!

    16. Lady Alys*

      My family visited London in February 2017 (date was school-related) which turned out to be lovely – NO LINES while seeing the Crown Jewels at the Tower, and it wasn’t too hot, either. Our Beefeater guide was hilarious, and the displays of weaponry, not to mention Henry VIII’s armor, were quite interesting. Plus, for me, as someone who grew up in the USA in a medium-sized midwestern city, just to be able to stand in a building that is 1,000 years old is an experience I had never had.

      If you are into this sort of thing, I’d also highly recommend the London Transport Museum.

      We also sat in on a bit of House of Lords debate. I’m pretty sure I saw one of them sleeping on a back bench. (Which is actually pretty harmless compared to what some US Senators get up to…..)

    17. Lady Danbury*

      I’ve been to London more times than I can count, both solo and with others, for business, vacation and to visit family. It’s a great city for solo travel because it’s pretty safe, public transportation is easy to navigate, and there’s tons of activities such as museums that are perfect for solo. I also did a bus tour to Bath and Stonehenge on my last trip, which I definitely recommend if you’re into either of those.

      I usually get a sim card for data access on the go, but I didn’t on my last trip and was still fine. Plenty of places have free wifi and I downloaded google maps offline for directions. Definitely share your basic itinerary (flights/hotel) with your family and let them know when you arrive. I would agree to check in regularly, but clarify what regularly means. Is it every night when you’re back in the hotel? Every # of days? I think you mentioned that you live in a large city, so as long as you take your street smarts on vacation with you then you should be fine.

      In terms of food, other than afternoon tea (a must for me) pretty much all I eat is ethnic food in London. Indian, Malaysian, Nigerian, Caribbean, even a few decent Mexican places have popped up now. Some of the best food can be found at various markets. Borough Market is a popular one but there are now so many all over the city. I’m not even a fan of donuts but the filled donuts from Bread Ahead are worth the trip alone. If you don’t mind sharing the areas that you’ll be visiting, I can give more specific recommendations of food favs.

      My fav museums include the V&A, British Museum, Tate Modern and then the National Gallery and Courtauld Gallery for impressionist art (one of my favorite periods). Depending on when you’re going, it might be fun to attend a football or cricket match. I do tons of walking when I’m in London, which is a great way to get around and explore the city for relatively short distances (20-30 mins walk).

    18. Chaordic One*

      I’m a bit paranoid about these things, but are there any extra precautions you might take to avoid being pick-pocketed? Maybe wear a money belt? Other ideas?

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Just don’t dangle your wallet or phone on the end of your arm or keep it in the outside pocket of your backpack. I lived in London for several years until covid and I didn’t know anyone who got pickpocketed or used measures like a money belt. Keep your wallet in a pocket or a zipped cross body bag, maybe put your phone in your pocket or down in your lap when you’re approaching a station in a busy area on the tube if you’re sitting near the door.

        Everybody uses contactless now so I wouldn’t bother getting much cash.

        1. kiki*

          The only person I know who got pick-pocketed in London was somebody I love dearly but habitually leaves their backpack unzipped and always has things dangling out of their pockets. Honestly, there’s a 50-50 change their wallet fell out of their backpack. But just in case, separate your various forms of identification and payment. For example, keep one credit card in your wallet and your debit card somewhere else in your bag. Keep extra forms and copies of identification in your hotel room safe.

          It depends on where one is traveling– there are places that merit a lot of precautions– but I feel like a money belt is overzealous, especially for London. Like Miss Pantalones En Fuego said, keeping your wallet in a zipped purse or pocket is probably sufficient.

          Just keeping your wits about you does a lot to keep from becoming a target for pit-pocketing, especially because most are opportunists. I think my biggest advice is to try not to look painfully touristy. Not that you have to go out of your way to make sure you dress exactly like the locals, but don’t have a selfie stick out or wander around with a group wearing matching t-shirts, if you can help it.

      2. londonedit*

        I’ve lived in London for 22 years and have never been pickpocketed. Best advice is to try not to look ‘like a tourist’ – look like you have some idea of where you’re going, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, don’t keep valuables in outside pockets of a backpack if you’re going to be somewhere crowded. There’s no need to be super scared of pickpockets, just generally aware of the fact that if you’re not paying attention and you’re in a crowded tourist spot, someone might see an opportunity to take advantage. Just as they do in any crowded touristy area of any large city that’s popular with foreign travellers.

        I’d recommend steering clear of the obvious/cliched tourist traps anyway (a friend of mine from my home town still WILL NOT STOP going on about the time she was charged £38 for a bottle of wine in a crap pub in Leicester Square, and I’m like…you were in Leicester Square. If you’d actually asked me where you should go, you’d have been in a decent pub with wine that wasn’t at rip-off tourist prices…). Regent Street is nice, but Oxford Street isn’t worth it, especially since Covid, because half the big shops have closed down and it’s sad seeing it all boarded up. The only thing I’d recommend going to Oxford Circus for is the Willows rooftop bar/restaurant on the top floor of John Lewis. I’d also recommend going for a walk around the City of London at the weekend – it’s usually pretty deserted and the history is quite fascinating. But be aware that a lot of the pubs/cafes etc will be closed in that area at the weekend, especially on a Sunday. A walk along the South Bank is always a good idea, ditto for a walk up Primrose Hill and around Regent’s Park, and I’d also recommend getting out of the centre a bit and visiting places like Richmond, which is glorious and right on the river. I also really love the cable car across the Thames for a fun outing, and you can get the river taxi back to central London which is a cool way to see the city.

    19. Dr Crusher*

      Are you used to cities, OP? If you’re at all used to cities you will be fine. I first went to London from my much smaller overseas city when I was your age and I was fine. Used my city smarts, had a great time. London is not particularly dangerous as long as you take the usual basic precautions.

    20. All het up about it*

      It’s been years since I’ve done a big solo trip that made people nervous. When I traveled solo for the first time in college, I called home ever day – at a pay phone! But I purposefully called when I knew my parents were at work. So I left messages that were cheery and giving them updates, but didn’t give them opportunity to ask questions where they would not have liked the answers. That might be a little harder to do in the days of cell phones, but if you could figure out a similar method, I’d encourage that. Maybe find out more about Jessica Nabongo’s travels and share with them tips and tricks to show that you are researching how to be safe and from other women of color.

    21. kiki*

      Before an extended solo vacation abroad, I created an Instagram account and had my family (and close friends) follow me. I take a lot of photos when I travel anyway, so it just made sense for me to upload the photos and create a lot of stories as I traveled. That way, my fam could quickly check Instagram and see that I was still alive and ate a cute breakfast without me having to reach out to folks individually at pre-determined intervals.

    22. The OG Sleepless*

      I spent the summer in London in 1986, and took my family there for a week in 2018. The only thing that I really did, safety-wise, was carry a bag with shorter handles so it was easier to hold it against my body getting on and off the Tube. Before my second trip, somebody (maybe here?) warned me not to walk down the street looking at my phone (because my first trip was pre-cell phones) or somebody might swipe it. I did indeed watch somebody get their phone swiped in that manner, right in front of St-Martin-in-the-Fields church (but they raised enough of a scene that the guy just wordlessly handed it back).

      One extremely interesting thing we did was a walking tour of street art by Free Tours by Foot. It was just a loop through Aldgate looking at the street art and learning about the art form in general. My city has a good bit of street art too and it changed the way I see it.

  10. Thread starter*

    I know we are getting a ton of bad news currently, often without even looking for them. I’d like to collect some hopeful news here, small moments of kindness and other things that let us try again another day.

    Please share some things that give you hope, short nice interactions at the store count as well as big moments.

    This week these were important to me:
    After near two years with little to no interactions in the house I live in (partially thanks to COVID) people got together to air some grievances. The whole conversation however got turned around in how we are going to deal with repairs needed in the common areas, how we can communicate better and even tentative plans for a house party (planned outside, though numbers have been going down for weeks) in summer. After that talk everybody has now been acting with more consideration of others and a bit more patience. It’s only a start but it makes me hopeful.

    Conservation news for bumblebees in California, who are now legally fish for better protection. That really had me laughing and is also utterly charming.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Bumblebees being fish made me laugh, thank you for that.

      A couple of weeks ago Ghent became home to a plant shelter (like an animal shelter but for plants). They already had a plant hotel intended for students to safely leave their plants when returning home for the summer, but now they also have this shelter for people who cannot take care of their plants anymore (or for people who keep being gifted plants despite being useless with them). It’s run by students from a secondary school and they built the entire thing themselves. It’s staffed by students who don’t speak Dutch natively as a way to practice their Dutch, and they’ll take in most plants except the ones with bad diseases (to protect the other plants), nurse them back to health and sell them for a modest price.

      And in case anyone is wondering, yes it does seem like teachers will be present in case they are needed.

      1. StellaBella*

        Do you have a link to share? I have searched several pages and found a similar thing in Lithuania.

    2. Lady Whistledown*

      When I had to take an unexpected trip abroad to help a family member I didn’t have time to go home and pack. My husband made a bag for me and brought it to the airport and he remembered to the pack the heating pad I need for cramps during shark week (that time of the month). It was so sweet and thoughtful and just so him.

      1. Rage*

        Shark Week.

        Definitely going to start using that phrase.

        But…this is DEFINITELY not as cool as the Animal Planet televised version. *goes off to find the Aleve*

    3. fueled by coffee*

      Banning CFCs means we’re on track to completely heal the hole(s) in the ozone layer in the next few decades!

    4. RagingADHD*

      There is an endangered species of flower that only grows in 2 counties in my state, nowhere else in the world.

      The power company has an easement that runs through the growing area, and they’ve partnered with the state department of natural resources to protect this plant’s habitat.

      The bloom count this year found nearly 50 percent more flowers than last year, so it seems to be working!

    5. Filosofickle*

      I was taking a walk around my new neighborhood and came across a woman picking clover out of her grass. I stopped to say hello, and we had the nicest conversation and connection. Overall my neighbors have all been friendly and welcoming. I feel good about living here.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      California is building the world’s longest wildlife overpass so that animals can cross a major highway. They not only can avoid being hit by cars, but also have a corridor to avoid being genetically isolated from wildlife on the other side.

      In another fun bit of news related to a wildlife crossing in California, in 2020 a remote camera captured a video of a fox and a badger traveling together through a tunnel beneath a freeway. They were obviously friends, with the coyote waiting for the badger. You can find it on YouTube, really cute. Biologists also appreciated having a video of this wildlife interaction.

      1. Astoria*

        Cool. The Bison Bridge Foundation is trying to do something similar in the Midwestern Quad Cities.

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Gabriela Sabatini played again, 27 years after her retirement!! It was at the Roland Garros Legends tournament, but the fans (and commentators) went mad like old Gabymania days.

  11. Princess Deviant*

    What artwork do you have in your home? Do you have original pieces? Where’d you get them from?
    What’s your favourite?
    I have some framed original prints from a couple of art galleries, some photos of where I live done by an artist, and some batiques my mother did as an art student in the 60s. I have some glassware, but ornaments are a pain to clean really so I don’t have many, and I don’t like figurines. They’re just sort of… shapes! I have a really cool crystal ball on a stand with a black rose in the middle and in the middle of the rose, an eye. It’s a Day of the Dead thing. I think that’s my fave so far.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My partner and I are trying to fill up the walls in our new home (of 1 year). We still have huge blank spaces in the living room, bedroom and stairwells.

      So far, I’m happy with the space we found for some framed posters our parents handed down. Some were on the walls of our family home when I was growing up, and were bought on trips they made in the ’80s and ’90s. I have two more art posters to frame (their sizes will need bespoke framing which will be interesting to get quotes for), and we also have a very cool print with a historical reproduction of my partner’s hometown that his father gave him from his collection.

      The stuff brought over from the previous flat is mostly still in boxes. Years ago I framed my favourite black and white photos that I took, and they used to be in the old living room. Now I have displayed some of them, without hanging yet, above cabinets that would otherwise look empty. Other than that, I realised my taste has changed, and I’d rather save space for new art I’ll love more. My partner still would like to put some of the old things up though…discussions and decisions ahead!

      We’d love to buy some original pieces too. Would love at least one painting, but when going to art fairs, the first thing to catch our eye are usually prints. Mostly because they seem more affordable…and even so, we’d struggle to budget for those prices right now, so, we’re still at the stage where we like lots of things but will probably wait ages before buying anything.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh yeah, first year in a new home is like finding your style I think! It’s nice that you have some posters from your parents that reminds you of your childhood.
        Bespoke framing is totally worth it, when you can afford it!

      2. Unum Hoc Scio*

        Second hand stores like VV Boutique (aka Value Village), flea markets, and garage sales are great places to find unique and affordable art.

        1. Unum Hoc Scio*

          Also, framing makes a difference but you don’t need to spend a fortune on it. Michaels and Walmart have great pre made frames with matting that don’t cost a bundle like custom frames do

      3. allathian*

        Most of our artwork is prints of various styles, but I do have an original oil painting that a family friend who’s an artist made for my 30th birthday (on commission, my parents paid for it). It has pride of place in our living room.

    2. MuseumNerd*

      I’m an artist so my home is mostly full of my own work. But when I was doing outdoor shows I would often buy art from the other artists so I also have an eclectic collection of local artists’ work. I’m a surrealist and fantasy painter myself but my taste runs the gamut. I’m always on the lookout for something unique.

      Hard agree about cleaning ornaments. My decorating style leans more toward minimal as far as knickknacks and whatever go, and it’s mostly for that reason. But my walls are crammed with paintings so I figure it makes up for it.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh that’s so cool! I love going to local artist shows and buying their prints – that’s how I got the local photos on my walls.

      2. Unum Hoc Scio*

        Fourth generation painter here (three generations of which painted after retirement). While we have a lot of artwork from aforementioned artists, my husband and I purchase or display nothing without being in complete agreement. This meant it took us a while to add to our collection but we are both happy with what we have. I tend to give tours of our artwork rather than of the house to new guests. These are not snobby tours, more like *This piece is by a cool artist in Montreal* or *My Dad found this amazing painting of children skipping in Bangladesh while he was travelling*.

        Meanwhile, a couple of important tips for hanging artwork:
        1. Lean a piece against the wall you are thinking of hanging it on. Leave it there for a couple of days. If it feels happy, hang it. If it seems uncomfortable or you get a *it doesn’t seem quite right here* feeling, maybe try it in another room
        2. Most people hang their artwork way too high, especially in living and dining rooms where people are mostly seated. This is because you are generally standing when you hang it. Have someone help you. As you sit and direct, have someone else hold it against the wall you want to display it on (or vice versa). Take a picture with your phone, discuss, mark where you think it’s best. Enjoy.

    3. ghost_cat*

      I’ve collected a variety of art from my travels and love having it on my wall to see and enjoy every day. Everything from watercolours, pen/ink drawings, an etching on a page from a book bought from one of the book stalls along the Seine for 5 euros, shadow puppets from Vietnam, a small face mask, an embroidery, a painted tile and paper cutouts from Mexico celebrating the Day of the Dead. I’ve included some family stuff, including postcards from an aunt from around the 1920’s when postcards were sent as a way of courting, plus my grandmother’s wedding headpiece. It’s very eclectic, yet it works. I’ve tried to group colours or tie in with the framing, which I think helps. None of the artwork was expensive – the framing though, that can be a bit pricey.

      Agree that it’s a no to ornaments. Grew up surrounded by these and spent way too many school holidays being tasks with dusting them.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I just love the Day Of The Dead stuff. I know a local artist who specialises in it – one day I’ll have the whole collection, but he’s kind of expensive for me atm. I don’t mind paying for art, I just can’t afford it right now!
        The family things you have sounds really lovely.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Same, ours are mostly from our travels. We framed one nice poster from a tourist destination, three of the best photos from a safari, and a bunch of Kwakiutl prints. We also hung some Polynesian carvings that actually display better on the wall than they would on, say, a table.

    4. UKDancer*

      I have various things I’ve cross-stitched including one of a ballet dancer that I did during lockdown which I’ve framed and mounted. Also a large one of a husky that I did a number of years ago after a trip to Norway which reminds me of the day I spent driving a husky sleigh. I also have a couple of pictures by a surrealist artist, one large and one small. They’re both limited edition prints and give me great pleasure.

      I’m a bit minimalist for ornaments but I do have one piece of carved ivory which was my grandfathers. I’d never buy ivory but when he died we had to deal with the collection he’d acquired and I kept one of the pieces we couldn’t sell (because the rules are, quite rightly, a lot tighter now). It reminds me of him when I look at it.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Ah that’s lovely! I agree that art with memories attached are the most meaningful.

    5. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

      I have a bunch of artwork still in the packaging it came in—I’m terribly lazy when it comes to getting things framed and hung up. But I do have two original pieces from comics artists I know personally (one is from a book called “Set to Sea”, the other is so NSFW it’s almost NS, period); an original piece from a former mentee at my old job; and a quilt my mother put together using fabric-printed photographs of various ancestors, centered around a cross-stitch my great-grandmother made. There are a few nature photographs and such in there as well.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We are nerds and animal lovers in my house. A few years ago there was a kickstarter for a D&D type game where the characters were all anthropomorphic dogs, and my husband and I both sponsored it so we could get both our dogs listed in the credits. After it was released we made them both character sheets, Angua Bloodhound the Guardian and Alannah Whippet the Runner. For five years every Christmas my husband wrote me a story about the adventures of Angua and Alannah, joined by Captain Kyna Whitepaws of the Good Ship Curiosity and her first mate and sister Kiara in year three. (That’s his two cats.)

      All that to say, my front hall has a wall that’s art of the critters in their character appearances. My favorite is a sketch our friend drew of Angua Bloodhound because she looks super regal in her plate armor with her broadsword and kite shield. We lost her in September (the day before our wedding anniversary no less) but every time I see the sketch of her I smile.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The other side of the front hall and the wall up the stairs is actual printed and framed photos/collages of said critters.

          The new puppy gets a few months to figure out what her character will be before we start working her in there, but we’re thinking she’s Abigail Dane the Druid because she’s very much an outdoor puppy, and my to-do list for some upcoming free time is to get photos printed to add her to the Real Life side of the hall/wall.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I have some original art and some prints, bought at local art dealers or when traveling. We have a bunch of small wooden hippos from when we lived/traveled in West Africa. Also from that time, a museum in Burkina Faso (I think Ougadougou?) had local artists working and we could spend a day watching them; I bought a roughed in wooden statue and made a seal that the artist then cast in bronze.

      On a trip to China my husband had a local shop make a copy of a Chao Shao An piece that I had always loved but had only in postcard size.

    8. ecnaseener*

      My favorites are two tapestries of paintings by Anastasia Trusova. (I wanted them BIG because they’re so gorgeous, didn’t have the budget for massive prints, and large posters won’t stay on my walls, so: tapestries.)

      I have framed prints handed down from my parents when they downsized, and those are lovely too, but when I need to look at something beautiful and feel happy I look at those tapestries.

      1. GoryDetails*

        The tapestries sound lovely! And reminded me that I have a tapestry too – it’s been on the wall so long that I don’t really see it anymore, so perhaps I should move it somewhere else to refresh the view. It’s an image of Paris from the gargoyle-gallery atop the (pre-fire {sob!}) Notre Dame cathedral.

      2. Princess Deviant*

        Tapestries are a great idea. I just looked the artist up and her work is bright and colourful, I can see how it’d cheer you up when you look at it!

    9. Girasol*

      Ours are lucky second hand finds and hand me downs: Two big Audubon prints. Three botanical flower posters on silk that once served as a seed catalog for a company in France in the 1800s. A set of Jonas Bradford primitive paintings of Amish farms. A painting of a prairie backed by buttes that looks like an amateur painting but we like it. Another amateur painting that looks exactly like my favorite autumn hike in Colorado. It’s all nature stuff, the sort of thing my art instructors would have said is not real art. (They were big on the sort of painting that has one red rectangle and some black scribbles.)

    10. GoryDetails*

      I have several pieces, mostly from fantasy convention artists (and most of those purchased in the 1980s – haven’t been to a con in a long time!). A stained glass image of a black unicorn with a white mane against a dark blue background is mounted in the opening between my living room and kitchen. Some limited-edition prints I had framed (the framing cost more than the artwork but it has paid off over the years).

      And some lovely watercolors by my niece, including one she did of my own garden many years ago, and another of a Japanese temple from a trip she made pre-COVID.

      Oh, and the crime-scene dioramas – my sister made me a miniature “Psycho bathroom” scene, and she and my niece collaborated on a “The Birds” phone-booth-attacked-by-gulls and the iconic living-room-with-portrait from “Laura”. (Eclectic, my style is.)

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Ooo yes art from modern culture – very nice! I love stained glass too. I have a beautiful stained glass mobile with birds on it.

    11. fposte*

      Oh, I love art. It’s wonderful that you can get beautiful things without spending kajillions. I have quite a few artists’ hand-pulled prints (a way to get cool art for a comparatively low price), mainly from a few specific print-focused galleries or printshops. I also have some paintings, some which I got at art fairs, some of which I’ve boldly ordered over the internet and been delighted with. And early in the pandemic, I finally scratched the itch to get a couple of paintings I’d seen in a New Orleans gallery when traveling there a year or two before. I’m definitely running out of space and getting into the cycling-art-through stage.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Totally agree :)
        You’ve just reminded me, I have two canvas prints of a cat who looks exactly like my cat, Albert. They’re currently stored away, but it might be time to get them out!

    12. I'm Done*

      A hodge podge of things. On the wall a collection of paintings, posters, and photographs we bought from local artists during our travels. My own photographs taken while living in Europe and Asia. Pottery from around the world but especially from South Korea where we lived for several years. What’s important for me is that each piece connects me to a memory of a wonderful experience, so when I look at it I immediately travel back to that place in time.

    13. Double A*

      We have walls that are literally filled with art. Gallery walls, but the whole wall. It’s a combination of original art made by friends (we have a lot of artist friends) and that I’ve bought on galleries or from artists I follow on Instagram. I follow a decent amount of artists and galleries on IG. Then that’s mixed in with random prints we’ve collected over the years, thrift store finds, masks (like, carved masked), and other doo dads. We have one of those typeset drawers we use as a display for little knick knacks we’ve collected over the years. The art is very eclectic but I think it works because it’s all our style so somehow it all ties together.

      Our aesthetic is basically antique shop/natural history museum.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        That sounds great, and eclectic totally works when it’s all meaningful to you :)

    14. Princess Deviant*

      Do any of you follow @WomensArt on twitter? That’s a great account for wonderful (female) artists.

    15. Art Lover*

      I have an art history background, so I almost exclusively have original art, or high quality “arty” posters.

      – a large framed poster from the Cannes Film Festival (from the year I spent a semester studying in Cannes). I love it because aside from being one of the cooler festival designs, it reminds me of that time in my life
      – a large framed exhibition poster of Lorna Simpson’s “Self Possession” from a museum I used to work at
      – original prints by Hank Willis Thomas and William Kentridge. The Kentridge one is very special to me because he is one of my favorite artists and I couldn’t believe I was able to buy an etching. (Other that my grad degree it is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, but I don’t regret it.)
      – several original prints by Seonna Hong; when I was much younger and poorer I desperately wanted a painting of hers, but I couldn’t afford one, so I bought prints instead
      – large poster from a film with one of my favorite stars (photo by Jeff Katz)
      – multiple original prints by friends who are graphic designers
      – original art by artists who worked at a museum with me; the museum would let the staff organize a staff art show and I always made a point to buy a piece from each show.

      I love all my art; I don’t know if I can choose a favorite. I didn’t buy any of it for investment purposes, even though the Kentridge and Thomas are worth the most, and will probably appreciate. My art history professor used to say you should buy art because you like it, it makes you happy, etc. not for its return on investment.

      I also have two original Ai Weiwei prints and a sculpture that are in storage. The sculpture and one of the prints I really dislike. I’m saving them for the right moment and then I will sell them. (They were gifts, I would have never bought them.) The other print is okay — not entirely my style, but not entirely hideous so if I ever have a larger apartment I would consider having it framed. But I don’t have room in my current apartment.

    16. Pippa K*

      Love reading the description of everyone’s art in this thread! We’ve got a hodgepodge too, including some things collected on travels and my own photography. I also have some reprints of unusual maps – like the 1920s sheep/wheat map of Australia and a 19th century isochrone map (showing the world shaded by how long it takes to travel to particular places).

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Love reading the description of everyone’s art in this thread!

        Yes right?!

    17. slashgirl*

      I live with my step sister–we have a few pieces of cross stitch that she’s done, some of her photos (her hobby and she’s good at it). In our hallway, I have a unicorn print on one wall, she has a seashore painting done by my uncle who is an artist, on the other. In the living room we’ve got two pieces by a Newfoundland artist (don’t know the name, sorry) that were her father’s and he gave to us–one is a charcoal (I think) sketch of row boats on a beach when the tide’s out, the other is a colourful picture, looking down a hill over the houses and out to the narrows of St. John’s NFLD. The other painting we have on the wall is also by my uncle–it’s one my mum had and I’ve always loved it (we got at the same time as the other two as the parental units moved and were downsizing). It’s a forest scene with hardwood trees and the perspective is from a small clearing. The tree leaves are all orange/yellow/gold and the fallen leaves are like a carpet on the forest floor–it just makes me feel like I’m in the picture and I love the colours.

      In my bedroom, I have a clay plate that’s originally from Greece, hand painted with a pic of the Acropolis on it–my mother got it from a Greek couple whose restaurant she worked in before I was born. I have a poster of pages from Edward Gorey’s Gashleycrumb Tinies and a framed, old photo that hung in my grandmother’s house for years–it’s probably about 6″ wide by 8″ tall (I’m guessing). It’s of a young woman dressed in a toga like garment; her back is to the camera and she’s looking over her shoulder at the camera, hands reaching up to a (fake) tree. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it was taken before the 1940s. One of my aunts had picked the photo to take (before my grandmother moved into a seniors apartment, she’d had her 6 kids and some of us grandkids, visit; she laid out items she wanted to get rid of, and her kids put their names on the ones they wanted–more than one name, there was a draw), but gave it to me when I said how much I’d always loved it–she liked it but didn’t have the connection I did with it.

    18. OyHiOh*

      A lot of ours is original work we’ve personally done. My partner is a photographer, I’m many things but mixed media artist suits me best. We also have original works by artist friends, and a few high end prints.

    19. kiki*

      I enjoy collecting artwork from trips and picking up work at art fairs. I have a few pieces from talented friends as well. I love having art with stories and personal meaning more than I care about cultivating a really cohesive aesthetic. I have an ever-expanding gallery wall situation that I hope will take up the whole room someday. I’m really not a minimalist at all :D

      My favorite pieces in my apartment are a cross-stitch my mom made for me and a framed copy of John Lewis’s last words as they ran in the NY Times.

    20. rosyglasses*

      I have a couple of framed watercolor prints from Rosalie Haizlett who is an amazing botanical artist. I also have a print of a woman standing in a living room with a parrot (very colorful and bold) all the way from down under, from the tattoo artist at Hand in Hand.

      I have yet to hang a charcoal line drawing of my dog that a local artist @Vanessa_Schmidt did, as well as two dry flower wreaths she curated.

      The rest of my “art” is pottery — several white and grey ceramic candleholders thrown by @NotaryCeramics (based here in Portland) and a set of three grey-wash small bud vases from @LulaPottery.

      I do have one very large canvas that I’m painting myself – I’m re-learning abstract painting with acrylics and trying to fill the very large blank walls in our rental home. It’s been quite cathartic and it’s probably time for me to take another go at layers on the one hanging in our living room.

    21. Bluebell*

      I don’t have a favorite piece in our house, but love that most of our art has stories behind it – some from traveling, some from artists we know (bought at open studios), and others as gifts. Most of it is paintings or prints, and I still have a few posters from my 20s. In my 40s I got a print from an art student I knew, and splurged on beautiful matting and a wood frame. The framing cost three times what I spent on the art. I also have a pastel done by a great aunt of mine that used to belong to my grandparents.

    22. inkheart*

      I have one framed poster and the rest of my wall art is original paintings, mostly from the local art league. They have an annual show and I usually end up buying something.

  12. Admiral Thrown Rocks the Blue*

    Removed — I’m sorry, I don’t allow fundraising here since otherwise the site would be overtaken with it. – Alison

  13. MuseumNerd*

    What’s everyone reading this week? On a recommendation from here I am in the middle of A Natural History of Dragons and I’m in love. I wish I could remember who recommended it so I could thank you. I’m so excited to learn that there are 9 books in the series because even at halfway through I was sad about the thought of it being over.

    Also just bought a book called “I’ve Got Your Back: The Indispensable Guide to Stopping Harassment When You See It” about bystander intervention so I’m excited to dig into that.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress as usual, including:

      VISIT SUNNY CHERNOBYL by Andrew Blackwell, non-fiction essays about his visits to several different highly-polluted locations around the world. Sounds grim and the details often are, but he also manages to find some beauty and a lot of human interest in the places and people he meets – and I really like his writing style.

      FLUNG OUT OF SPACE: THE INDECENT ADVENTURES OF PATRICIA HIGHSMITH, a graphic novel presenting a slightly-fictionalized look at the start of the author’s career – including her work on comic books (I had no idea!) and the writing and publishing of Strangers on a Train and (under a pseudonym) The Price of Salt (now titled Carol, her original title, and available under her own name).

      And a re-read via audiobook of THE LAST CHRONICLE OF BARSET by Anthony Trollope, which mixes relationship ups and downs with social issues – and which features a compelling, very touching look at mental illness. (Also has some frustrating examples of the sexist roles of the day; the parted-by-fate potential lovers from Small House at Allington appear here, with Lily Dale stuck at home with her mother while John Eames has a career to keep him busy – and careless flirtations with women, as well. Most of the characters ship Eames with Lily, who is adamant that she’ll never marry at all. The author keeps popping in to comment on their motives and behavior, making it clear that if everyone else had stopped pushing the two together – and if John had avoided those flirtations while still telling himself he would win Lily someday – they might have eventually made a match, but as things are (spoiler) it’s not to be. I recall thinking they should get together when I first read the novel, but now I think she was right to refuse him – though perhaps wrong to shut herself off from any future relationships at all. But if she’d had more opportunity to travel, or to find fulfilling work somewhere, that might have improved her lot whether she ever fell in love again or not.)

      (I see there’s another book-thread farther down, started by Teapot Translator; see more recommendations there!)

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m currently reading Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart and it’s incredibly well written but I’m taking it slow as the subject matter is very difficult.

    3. Helvetica*

      I started Isabel Allende’s “City of the Beasts” and I do not like it at all. I love Allende’s writing as a rule but this one is very slow, and the language is as if written by a novice – so many tedious descriptions of things, clunky dialogue, and none of the magic I associate with Allende. I don’t know if it is a failed translation or just a failure of editing but I just cannot get into it. Very disappointed.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, I’m with you on that one. I had a good discussion of the book with a friend who said that often authors writing other genres think that the YA genre is easy to write and don’t recognize that it’s its own separate thing that requires its own separate skills. I too have enjoyed her other books, but this one just wasn’t as good. My personal favorite of hers so far is Maya’s Notebook; don’t know if you’ve read that one yet but if not I recommend it.

      2. PizzaCat*

        City of Beasts took me FOREVER to get into! But the story is great and I’ve enjoyed it more on re-reads.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Recently finished “The Butterfly Assassin,” which was amazing. Quite violent and with references to abuse, in the form of basically training children as assassins and ill-treating them, in case that bothers people, but it’s a very believable dystopian world, very well-developed, using the language Esperanto in certain contexts.

    5. Rara Avis*

      I just got Pandora’s Jar (Natalie Haynes) after a long wait from the library. I heard her speak in April and she is so funny and engaging. I can’t wait to start the book!

    6. Astoria*

      Just finished John Waters’ Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance. As you might expect, it’s raunchy and over the top; reads like one of his screenplays.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      FINALLY started Chuck Wendig’s The Book of Accidents. So far it’s cracking good; lots of IT and Stranger Things vibes.

      My TBR list is very long. I haven’t felt much like reading in a while.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Your description made me want to read this, go to add to Goodreads and already there lol!

    8. VegetarianRaccoon*

      I’m working on two I believe were actually recommended here on the weekend open threads recently:

      “River Kings” nonfiction about Vikings in Britain -but also where they were in the world at the same time, I think. I’m only about 100 pages in. I think it’s very interesting so far and while it is written by an archeologist I find it fairly accessible to myself, a not-archeologist/history expert of any kind.

      I also started “Bluebird” by Ciel Pierlot. Also not super far in. Adventures of a female Han Solo? Writing is just a hair clunky at times but the characters and worldbuilding are enjoyable enough for me to happily carry on. Helps if you like sci-fi/space operas of course.

      So if you mentioned either of those two recently, THANKS!

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I just finished readying Tara Westover’s memoir Educated after hearing it recommended by multiple people. An incredible read about her abusive childhood and emergence as an adult. She’s working on another book which I plan to read because she is such an outstanding writer.

      I have a stack of books that I’ve picked up or others have given me. I need to decide which one to read.

      1. I take tea*

        Educated made a big impact on me as well. I read it as an audio book, and had to pause several times, because it was so overwhelming.

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      The Hail Mary Project by Andy Weir! Like his other books, an admirably down-to-earth person is trying to solve an enormous problem and giving detailed explanations of the science involved. The setup is considerably gloomier than his other books, though.

      1. My heart is a fish*

        Oh, I finished HMP recently and adored it. I thought his middle book, Artemis, was kind of weak, but HMP felt a lot like The Martian — I think Weir does his best when the primary antagonist is “the unforgiving laws of physics, biology, and chemistry” rather than a person or people trying to do bad things.

    11. My heart is a fish*

      I just finished She Who Became The Sun and man, that was a thrilling read. I’ve got an enormous weak spot for stories of people taking on a new identity, and this one does it really well.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        I looked it up and it sounds so good! I’m requesting it from my local library now.

    12. Bluebell*

      I’m loving When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East by Quan Barry, and I’m only reading a few chapters at a time. Twin brothers in Mongolia go on a search to find a reincarnation of a Buddhist holy person. I’m also reading Priestdaddy, which mixes the hilarious with some very serious topics.

    13. I take tea*

      I just reread a dystopian novel called The unit by Ninni Holmqvist. It’s about a world where women over 50 and men over 60 are deemed superfluous if they don’t have children or maybe aging parents who need them for care. They get moved to a unit, where they are taken good care of, but they are used for different medical and psychological experiments and donate parts of themselves. At some point everybody donates everything that can be taken in an “end donation”.

      It deals a lot with the coping with the new normal. I can recommend it if you like that kind of stuff. It’s pretty chilling, especially the part with how it all was democratically voted for, and people really understood the consequences before it was the norm, or maybe they did and really think this is the best choice for the society. It reminds me a bit of The Handmaid’s Tale, which obviously is much more complex, this is a fairly short book, but thematically. Obviously, if you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale yet, what are you waiting for!

  14. ShoppingforSis*

    I wonder if people here could recommend brands for professional clothing for tall women with big frames.

    My sister is about to graduate and she struggles to find professional clothing because she’s well over 6 feet tall and big all around (so some brands for tall women assume a smaller frame and won’t fit her shoulders, for instance, but plus size brands aren’t long enough for her height or end up baggy). Same thing with shoes, she struggles to find women’s shoes in her size or the selection is very limited.

    Of course the downside to shopping online is struggling to figure out if stuff fits before you buy/ship it, so if there are any in-person brands. Like many, she finds it really stressful to try things in because it’s hard to find things that fit. It’s rare to find pants in stores that have a long enough inseam, for instance.

    1. Lady Whistledown*

      Yes! Check out Yogipace on Amazon. I used to use Long Tall Sally but their quality has gone down sadly. Yogipace has a nice range of sizes and inseam lengths.

    2. Meh*

      Old Navy and Gap now have tall clothes. You can get some basics there. They aren’t just longer but actually cut for tall proportions. The pants will have a higher rise to accommodate for the added distance from crotch to hips etc.

    3. Ranon*

      For shoes, Rothy’s goes up to a 13 in a lot of their styles (granted if she has wide feet it’s more like an effective size 12), I’ve had good luck finding 12s on Poshmark even

    4. Workerbee*

      For shoes, Zappos has been my good friend. Auditionsshoes is another, and widewidths as well.

    5. B*

      Universal Standard has some very good stuff for all sizes, they have their own sizing chart so you need to look carefully. Every review I’ve seen says the clothing runs long. I like that the models are diverse in size and color so I can more easily determine if the garments are for me.

    6. Clothes for Everyone*

      CAbi clothes has big & tall women sizing. It’s kind of a MLM, but the clothes are nice

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Seconding CAbi. I outfitted several very tall young female relatives starting their careers and the clothes are STILL wearing extremely well (7 plus years later).
        Eddie Bauer is very good on sizes too

    7. LNLN*

      Eddie Bauer has a lot of their basics in tall sizes for women. I am 6’2” and bought most of my business casual clothing there.

    8. the cat's ass*

      If you are in the Bay Area, In Full Swing in Rockridge Oakland has been my go-to for great clothes for my big goddess bod! Online, Land’s end, Universal Standard and Wildfang have lots of great selections. Zappos for shoes all the way. Second Old Navy (tho things fall apart relatively quickly).

    9. Eff Walsingham*

      I am not tall so much as disproportionately long-limbed, but YES on the inseam issue! In Canada we have a line of stores called Pennington’s for bigger and taller women (also maternity) and in this age of internet they may be helpful remotely. My aunt and I get ‘jeans’ from there (actually more like jeggings) and they seem to wear as well as anything stretchy can be expected to.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        I should add that though *we* mainly buy jeans from them, they do have a selection of reasonably priced professional wear. I’ve just been fortunate enough to get most of mine at local consignment stores with a broad range of sizes.

      2. WellRed*

        I’m a longer legged 5’5” and what is up with every inseam seemingly stopping at 30 inches?

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          I have had the opposite problem most of my life (think jeans having a default 34-36″ inseam and being a teen who had to get them hemmed) and am so thrilled to see 30″ inseams as an option. I don’t always have to buy capri-length now! (Even petite wasn’t cutting it for my short little legs.)

          There should, of course, be options. And they ought to be made clear up-front on a sizing chart.

    10. just another bureaucrat*

      I gave up and exclusively shop on eshakti now. Got measured, just put in your height and you don’t have to change anything and it works pretty well. I struggled a bit to find the cut and style I liked and now I just basically order the same thing in different colors and patterns and slight style changes that are enough for me.

      It was a little odd to do it because it sort of felt like giving up but it has also been really liberating for me personally to just be able to order what I need without the stress of what exactly will work and the stress of trying things on. I get an order and hang it up and it always fits. Done.

    11. *daha**

      Hitchcock Shoes – wideshoes.com – is great for hard to fit feet. They started out as men’s-only, but have been selling women’s shoes for years also. They have exactly one brick-and-mortar store. It is in Hingham, Massachusetts.

    12. rosyglasses*

      Not a brand per se – but I follow @caralynmirand on Instagram (she has an Amazon storefront as well) and she is very tall and regularly wears size Xl/14-16 which is around my sizes. She also has size 11 or 13 (can’t remember) shoe. She was a model and regularly will post out try-ons from different brands and it gives me a good sense of what I will like on myself from JCrew, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Target or Amazon.

  15. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Update on Honsom, my 20 year old cat who has kidney disease. I scheduled and then canceled a Lap of Love visit for this past Tuesday. He was looking like his last days were coming, but then he rebounded and improved; still enjoying life for now while getting plenty of love.

    I know this can be a short term condition, but he wasn’t ready to leave just yet.

    Also, thank you to everyone that posted your comments about the signs to watch out for from several weeks ago.

    1. Rage*

      My 15-year-old Egyptian Mau, Cairo (AKA “Bubs”) has a facial tumor (nasal passage/sinuses). He’s doing pretty well but I’m watching him closely for signs of a sudden decline. This afternoon I’m getting together with a coworker and she and her husband are going to do a photo shoot with him/me. He’s a wonderful boy and I’m going to miss him horribly when he crosses the Bridge.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        A photo shoot sounds like such a wonderful idea. I don’t know if it would have worked with my recently-departed kitty (since she was afraid of new people) but I would’ve loved a few more nice photos, I don’t have many.

    2. Double A*

      I’m glad you’re getting some extra bonus time with him! My nearly 18 year old cat is getting increasingly creaky but seems happy as ever. They really can just keep trooping.

  16. Meh*

    New kitten Gift Basket

    My friends (2 adults 2 kids) adopted 2 kittens (really smol) and I would like to send them a collection of things -probably from Amazon since we’re geographically separated. .

    Any suggestions on what gifts would be fun, appreciated, interesting? All the basics are covered including a climbing tree tower.

    1. barnaclesally*

      Toys on a wand are almost always a cat favorite! I’d stay away from catnip related products as those don’t usually “kick in” until a cat is around 6 months old. Sometimes non cat items are a hit-my cat LOVES chasing hair elastics that I fling around a room.

      1. CatCat*

        One of my cats is a fiend for hair elastics. You can get them in bright colors. I get big thick ones so there’s no danger of them being swallowed.

        Finger puppets also make good cat toys. One of mine carries them around.

        One of mine loves LOVES mice covered with real animal fur (rabbit, I think). She flings them in the air and chases them. She does not react the same to ones with faux fur.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My local pet supply store sold the plastic pull tabs you pull off milk bottles, for people who had cats but didn’t buy any liquids in this form.

      3. cat socks*

        Da Bird and Da Purrpeller are two of my favorite wand toys. The Neko Flies one are fun too. The type of wand I have with those allows me to change the toy that is attached.

        My cats have vertical scratching posts, but I also have a variety of cardboard ones laying around.

        Sheer Fun is a sheet with crinkly edges and mine love when I hide toys underneath. A couple of them like when I drape it over them and they think they’re invisible.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Seconding toys on a wand. Lasers are often also a bit, but they can be frustrating for cats (because they can never actually catch it).

      Depending on the age of the kittens, you could also get them an easy food puzzle – they have simple ones specially for kittens. It will require some supervision from the owners until the cats figure out what to do (they may need to be shown a few times and again, they can get frustrated) but after that it can be a very joyful experience for cats and owners.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Our older dog is a devotee of chasing the red dot, moreso than any cat we’ve had. She now has a route over which she expects my husband to direct the dot, and will wait in the next location if he tries to get wiggy and go off-course.

        Relevant detail: She once caught a squirrel (while on a leash; squirrel was very over confident) and brought it to my husband, bewildered that following her instincts had resulted in a mouthful of dirty, angry rodent. She appreciates the pure abstraction of the red dot.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, my husband got his cat a puzzle feeder and she ignored it for two days, then literally threw it off the top of her shelf at him. She is now back to her regular food bowl.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Yeah, I use mine for supplementary feeding and treats. Regular food goes into a regular bowl.

    3. Asenath*

      I was going to say fishing pole, but the toys on a wand are the same thing. Vaguely mouse-shaped stuffed toys made from real animal hide are a big hit with one of mine, but may not be easily available where you are. Some cats like springs – you can get ones just the size for cats in pet stores, and they bounce nicely. I wouldn’t advise the toys that squeaked like a mouse every time a cat batted it, although one of my cats loved it. You can get nylon tunnels with holes in the side, which two cats might like because they can bat at each other through the holes. Almost any kind of ball or small stuffed toy – you can’t have too many of them because they tend to go missing. The tops of soft drink bottles (Man working on washer: “Do your cats play with bottle tops? I found five under the washer.”) Your friends will probably provide the empty cardboard boxes and piles of warm laundry straight out of the dryer.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Our kittens are obsessed with pompoms. They chase them around like mad fiends and then carry them in their mouths, growling ferociously at each other lest anyone try to take it away.

      (Of course, the other kitten must immediately try to take it. That’s part of the game.)

    5. MechanicalPencil*

      Da Bird cat wand is always a foster favorite, and there additional types of attachments to the wand (a bee, different feather types). I found an enrichment feeder that’s also been well received by my kittens. One of those window ledge beds possibly? They suction to the window and have a shelf bed.

    6. AnotherLadyGrey*

      On the recommendation of Captain Awkward a few years back, we got our kittens a rainbow tunnel. Best $10 we ever spent. It’s available on Amazon for $11.99. It folds up so that it can be put away easily but we just leave ours out. The kitties love it and they play in it so much that they end up driving it all around the house. Countless hours of fun. Highly recommended!!

    7. Jackalope*

      My cats really like the S-shaped scratching posts (link in my next post). They can scratch them and then use them as a seat. Lots of scratching posts are good to help the kittens learn what can and can’t be scratched.

    8. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      It doesn’t really matter what you order, just make sure it will be shipped in a box :)

    9. All Monkeys are French*

      The Ripple Rug is very popular in our house. It’s a big floor mat that has another mat on top. The top piece has cutouts of varying sizes and velcro that lets you position it to make tunnels for cats and their toys. It takes up some space, but is easily folded away.

  17. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    My asparagus did well for a month, and the raspberries and irises are blooming.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      We planted grass two weeks ago where before there was a wasteland of dry soil and rubble, and it’s growing well! Not bad at all for first-time gardeners with not much of a clue. We’re pretty pleased.

      However…local foxes keep getting in at night and digging holes in two specific places, so the lawn still has its bald spots. And we can’t do anything to stop it, because the foxes’ point of access is on our neighbours’ side, where they took down a fence over a year ago and still haven’t replaced it. They keep saying they booked the work and it will happen soon. I’ll believe it when I see it!

      1. Generic Name*

        I’ve successfully gotten a raccoon to stop coming into my yard by putting human urine (ok, I peed in a solo cup and sprinkled it around- if you have uh, male parts, you could apply directly) along the perimeter of my yard. It might work for foxes.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          You can also buy granules that are infused with wolf/coyote pee to sprinkle around – I think these are marketed toward deer/rabbit deterrent, but I would expect the foxes probably don’t want to tangle with coyotes either, so it might be worth a shot. They seem to have gotten the rabbits out of my yard, at least.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Worth 2 cents: Mild cayenne pepper. My dog dug the most holes I have ever seen a dog dig. By the time winter rolled around and the holes alternated between ice and water, he found he could not walk around in his dog run. I got that straighten out and I bought a bottle of mild cayenne pepper. I poured some on my hand just to be totally certain it would not burn him. Then I applied it to any new holes he dug. That problem was over.

        I bought the cayenne from a dollar store type place I was able to get a good sized contain at a reasonable price. Again, I made sure I only bought the mild pepper. You could sprinkle plenty around on your property where you see digging. You could also try to use aging spices that you have on hand but do be careful about the strength of the spice. My thought here is to find something annoying to them, not injurious.

        Drawback- you have to reapply after rain.

    2. Ness*

      I’ve been picking pluots, blueberries, and cherry tomatoes (the tomatoes are from my volunteer plant that popped up in January – the ones I planted aren’t ripe yet). I’ve also gotten a few blackberries – there are a ton of green ones so I’m looking forward to those, assuming I can get them before the birds!

      My zucchini and melons plants are still small – I think I didn’t choose great spots to plant them (insufficient light/soil fertility). My bean plant is taller than me, but no beans or even flowers yet.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our vegetable garden this year consists of three tomato plants in pots, and all of them have flowers and one has a tomato in progress, so that’s exciting.

      Even better — my raspberry bush, peach tree and cherry tree are all chock-full of proto-fruit. The raspberry bush produced a couple berries last year, and I’ve never gotten anything off either tree in five years between late freezes killing off most of the blossoms and the squirrels getting the rest, so I’m super stoked to maybe get to eat something off my own fruit tree this year :)

    4. GoryDetails*

      Southern NH here: my overgrown yard is now full of wild roses, blooming prolifically to the delight of the bees. The aroma is lovely too – but wild roses simply devour the space, so I need to do some major butchering soon.

      Intentional-gardening is a bit better; got all my containers planted, plus some small fenced-in-against-the-chipmunks-and-rabbits garden beds. Heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, and a burgeoning planting of Swiss chard (plus a couple of basil plants) which are already big enough for me to snip enough leaves for a meal.

      1. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

        Former Hillsborough County resident sends greetings to the old home soil and wishes your garden every success this season.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Northern MA here. Hello!!
        My garden is in the same situation as yours. Got everything planted last weekend in that heat. The basil seeds are already sprouting. Nothing yet from the beans and cukes. I hope it hasn’t been too cool and wet for them!
        My roses are just starting to bloom. I lost my “Paul’s Himalayan Musk” rambling roses over the winter (sob). I think they drowned in all the wet. I’d had them for 20 years. If I replace them, I’ll need to find a different place for them.

    5. Invisible today*

      First time using a raised bed. Several tomatoes, peppers are starting to show buds, eggplant, cucumbers are growing slowly. Beans were eaten by something within a day. As was my sunflower and chamomile. Need to put up a fence but don’t want to invest too much time / money.

    6. Girasol*

      The nectarine bloomed and then we got about a dozen hard frosts, but it set fruit anyway. The veggies in the raised beds look like the best in years, perhaps thanks to unseasonal late rains, much needed here in the west. We’ll have a good crop of currants, which we’re looking forward to turning into syrup, because currant cocktails are yummy. The purple grape died but the pink one bids fair to cover the whole arbor by itself. It’s the best of the two and has so many tiny grapes starting that we’ll be making raisins again this summer.

    7. Lurker*

      I bought several small basil plants and some petunias to put on my fire escape (as I do every year) and the pigeons have eaten everything! The basil was there Thursday night and Friday morning, it was gone, down to the soil! This morning the petunias are definitely being eaten. I’m so annoyed. (I hated pigeons before.) I’ve lived in the same apartment for 9 years and this is the first year this has happened. Is there anything I can do? I was looking at mesh nets, but the sizes are all so big. My flower boxes are probably 8″ x 8″ and the basil pot is like 10-12″ diameter.

      Curse you pigeons!

      1. Salymander*

        Years ago when I was at university I had some herbs and two patio type tomato plants in pots on my balcony. The birds were stripping off the leaves and fruits. So annoying. I tried netting, but it kept blowing around and I was worried that it would tangle up and trap a bird. I bought some chicken wire and folded it into rectangular baskets that I placed over the plants. The bees could get through the mesh, but the birds couldn’t. It wasn’t very pretty, but it was inexpensive and worked like a charm. When I wanted to look at the plants or needed to water, I just took off the baskets.

    8. also anon for this*

      My tomatoes and peppers are planted and seem to be fine. I planted them at the edge of our really hot weather last week, but shaded them for the first few days. They seem to be growing well.

      My potato seeds all sprouted and are up about a foot already.

      I’m busy trying to get all the wintersown plants in the ground. I’ve been trying to do some everyday, but the weather has been rainy off and on. I planted a ton of bean seeds over the past few days, so at least there’s that.

      I did screw up and plant my cucumber seeds in the wrong spot. Hopefully the pickling cucumbers do okay in area I put them in. I really meant to give them a big spot in the center stage, but I accidentally put the slicing cucumbers there instead. Oops.

      I lost a lot of poppy starts to slugs, which is tragic. I may get an Amazing Grey poppy flower, but that may be it out of all of them. Sad, but next year I’ll know to start multiple containers.

    9. Salymander*

      My community garden plot is doing really well. Tomato plants are about
      2 1/2 feet tall except the one plant I had to replace, and even that one has grown about 8 inches taller in just 2 weeks or so. 4 of the tomato plants have baby tomatoes on them. The zucchini are really lush and beautiful. I have harvested about 6 zucchini so far from 3 plants, and there are so many baby zucchini growing right now. The lemon cucumbers are all doing well. The fennel is 2 feet tall and the bulbs are about 2-3 inches across so there should be some ready to harvest soon. The peppers and eggplant have baby fruit on them. All the herbs are growing really well, and we have been eating salads made entirely of basil, cilantro and parsley. I discovered that I don’t really like dill except in pickles, and maybe growing it was a mistake. I only have one plant, so no big deal. The chervil is not very vigorous, but maybe it will fill in soon. The scarlet runner beans are just now popping up, and I am trying to keep away whatever is chomping the baby leaves off until there are only stem stubs. So far, so good. Last year, I didn’t harvest a single bean. The flowers among the vegetables make my plot really pretty.

      I bought a beach umbrella, and I set it up on one of my paths so I can just chill out and read in the garden, or take breaks in the shade. I leave the post thingy in the ground and take the umbrella and beach chair home so they don’t fall apart in the sun or shade things too much. The umbrella was super cheap, but it has made life so much better for me. It is so lovely to sit in the shade and watch all the birds and insects, and I am so much more appreciative of all the growing things I see.

      My guerilla garden patches are doing well. I just drove down a street yesterday that I hadn’t seen in awhile, and noticed that some of the flower seeds I planted have grown into a small flower garden in a spot that was formerly all broken concrete and debris. It is a tiny spot of city property in a neighborhood of small, older homes that is in my opinion not very well maintained by the city. Now, there are California poppies, California bluebells, and chia flowers growing there. It turns out that when I prepped the soil and planted the seeds, 2 women watched what I was doing and decided to trade off watering duties. They hadn’t been friendly with each other until then, but helping the plants became their thing. They recognized me when I got out to look at the flowers and came out to say hello. That really cheered me up, and brightened up what was until then a really terrible week.

    10. Sparkly Librarian*

      I tried a pumpkin and a watermelon from starts this year, and they’re both flourishing under a light shade cover. (The watermelon, which was squashed by my rambunctious 3-year-old, seems to have recovered well.) I interplanted marigolds near the pumpkin and around my beans and tomatoes, and about half of them are doing well — the others may not have transplanted easily because the starts were overgrown and a bit rootbound. My wife pointed out that I wasn’t actually growing two zucchini on one of the hills; it was a zucchini and a volunteer borage plant. Oh well! We like those, too. Great for pollinators.

      This season has had a couple of do-overs: I got zero germination off the first round of pole beans (which were a couple years old), so I bought a new packet and have a bunch of sprouts now. Also I gave up on the first carrot planting (also old seeds) and decided to sift the soil in that bed to make it finer and more welcoming to root veggies. I’ll replant this week and focus on keeping the soil moist.

    11. Susie*

      This week the veggies in the raised beds have exploded! The arugula is ready to harvest and the other greens should be ready for a first harvest next week.
      We still get starts from our local nursery, but we are starting seeds soon for a second planting of cold weather veggies. We’ve tried starting seeds the last few years but haven’t been successful…largely due to struggling to find a spot that our dog or 7 yo won’t destroy. However this spring we got a ton of spinach that had survived the winter. I have a pretty good plan this year so fingers crossed!
      We’re still waiting on a planter from GardenersSupply for our herbs…so that will be a bit of a late start.
      Tomorrow I’m planting some plants for a sensory garden for my daughter. They are largely native perennials, but we decided to go with English lavender for the scent and it smells amazing.
      We’ve lucked out with weather recently. Rain during the week and beautiful weather on the weekend…so spending lots of time enjoying the growing plants

  18. Meh*

    Weight lifting app/ routines?

    I’ve started to incorporate heavy lifting in addition to Orange Theory. I tried FitBod, but it’s a paid subscription after 3 free sessions – not enough to know if I like it.

    Anyone have suggestions for a written program I can add to basic weightlifting tracker? I just don’t want to watch a ton of YouTube videos to write down what I need to do at the gym. Thanks!

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Stronglifts!

      It is very good for managing the basic 5×5.

      It wills start you off at the empty bar (or wherever is your starting point), and will gently increase your loads. You can also set what sort off increases you want, if you don’t want the standard. It includes the necessary warm-ups based on whatever weight you are doing, etc, and will also guide you towards a deload if that is needed. It will also helpfully calculate which weights to put on, based on what you have told it of available equipment that you want to deal with.

      Very good tutorials too – video + text

      Stronglifts dot com

      1. DistantAudacity*

        There is a paid app, but there is a lot of free information (including the routine itself) on the website.

      2. Lady Alys*

        +1

        You could also check out “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training,” by Mark Rippetoe.

      3. Meh*

        I downloaded and used it today, but I am confused (or dumb :) The app wiki says weight is total weight including the bar – but within the days’ workout it breaks it up. So, for squat it says 30 pounds. I’m assuming that’s 45 (bar) then 15 on each side? And you’re supposed to progressively load 2 pounds (but wouldn’t that be 4 pounds?) but do you adjust the weight total to reflect what you maxed out on?

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Hm. I’m not sure I understand?

          If I’m doing 30kg, that’s 20kg bar + 5 on each side for today’s working sets. Warm-ups may start lower). Warm-ups may be one set with just the bar, and one set with 25 kg, and then the 5 working sets at 30?

          And then the next time, if the load increase is 2,5 kg, for a total of 32,5 kg, that’s when the working sets would increase?

        2. DistantAudacity*

          Just took a look at the app again – make sure you didn’t just see the warm-ups; there’s separate tabs for the warm-up sets and the actual working sets, where the warm-up will give you an increas up to today’s working weight.

    2. cat socks*

      Fitness Blender has workout videos, but they also provide written descriptions of the exercises on their site.

    3. Aly_b*

      Liftoff is basically a “couch to barbell” (like couch to 5k). It has a couple of phases, starting with lighter dumbbells and a technique focus, and ramping up to barbells. It’s a pdf/ebook format and definitely something you can enter into an app. And nice since it’s not a subscription model!

    4. Pharmgirl*

      Try Caroline Girvan on YouTube. She has several 10-week programs and all are free. All focused on strength training and she lifts heavy.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Sorry I missed that you didn’t want YouTube. She may have the workouts available in the video description but i just do these at home so I haven’t checked.

    5. Bookworm*

      Not an app, but I really like the book “New Rules of Lifting for Women.” I learned a lot from the science-y chapters at the beginning, and it’s got like 4 months of workouts at the back

    6. TPS reporter*

      Search for Jason and Lauren Pak. They have free resources plus some paid programs that are very affordable and easy to follow.

  19. Challenging enough*

    How do you go about finding the line between challenging yourself and finding yourself in an emotionally overwhelming situation?

    I’m middle-aged and decided two years ago to start taking singing lessons. I’ve always wanted to sing (especially with others) but never felt comfortable with my own singing voice, and decided to take the plunge. Though progress is very slow, I do enjoy the lessons, and felt that I have gotten better especially in the last few months (though I’m still at untalented beginner stage). Yesterday, a very small recital took place, organised by the music school, with some other voice students and very, very few friends and family as audience. I thought that the event might be a good way to practice “being seen” at bit more (something I struggle with) and also to show off my newly-won “skills.” I did expect to be nervous and thus for it to not go perfectly, and would have been totally happy with a performance at 80% of my own abilities.

    Readers, it went abysmally. I was so nervous that my voice was shaking really hard, and some notes would not come at all. I broke off and started again, but the second attempt wasn’t much better. I cried hard when I got home, and felt that I maybe should have protected myself better and should have decided not to participate in the recital.

    Have you had similar experiences? How did you hone your judgement to know what might be a challenge but still allowing you to stretch and grow, and what would be too much of a challenge? I feel almost as if I’m missing the parent-type voice that helps children learn to make these kinds of decisions.

    1. Meh*

      This was your first public performance, yes? You’ve done the most difficult thing and put yourself out there. You didn’t perish on stage or melt into the ground but completed your piece! That’s a huge accomplishment and now you know you can do it again. I’m going to assume everyone watching was supportive and encouraging? Your missed notes weren’t mocked? If you’re seeking protection then it’s only from yourself and the inner voice that highlights all of our faults. That voice is an a**hole and should be ignored. Celebrate that you did a tough thing!

      1. Pippa K*

        Just had to highlight this:
        “ If you’re seeking protection then it’s only from yourself and the inner voice that highlights all of our faults. That voice is an a**hole and should be ignored.”

        That is such a great way of thinking about what we might be trying to protect ourselves from. So well put!

      2. Challenging enough*

        “If you’re seeking protection then it’s only from yourself and the inner voice that highlights all of our faults.” This hits the bullseye for me, I think. Thank you so much for this enormously perceptive and kind reply!

    2. Virtual Light*

      Please be gentle with yourself. We learn by doing, it is the only way to learn. You tried something difficult and it did not go as you planned. I totally understand how this could have been emotionally overwhelming!! Please be proud of yourself for the effort you put in and the risk you took. By the time the next recital comes around, you can decide whether you have improved enough so that it feels less stressful, or decide not to participate.

      As a teacher, I have students explain their work to me instead of an exam. I have nervous students who just think that they cannot do it. So we find ways to bring the pressure down so that they feel more comfortable.

      Is there a way to stair-step your goals up gradually and lower the pressure as you grow? In teaching we call this the zone of proximal development: the sweet spot where the task is hard/ interesting enough to be interesting to the student, but not SO hard the student gives up. The idea is to continually be working with the student to improve and push their comfort level/ learning. Maybe reflect on where you are and talk with your voice teacher about next steps for this? Sending you encouragement!

    3. anonagain*

      Challenging enough: I hone my judgment by getting it wrong sometimes. I do too much and find out that I’m not quite there yet. (Obviously I only take this approach when I’m not risking life and limb!)

      I hope the post-recital yuck feeling wears off soon.

    4. Anonosaurus*

      I think that’s a really interesting question. I don’t think there is an answer, actually. We can imagine future events in quite a lot of detail but ultimately we don’t know how they will feel until we do them. How much discomfort is too much discomfort? I don’t know, but I do feel that part of the toolkit for dealing with this kind of thing is to accept there’s a risk of biting off more than one can chew, and put in place escape or support strategies for if that happens, rather than avoiding the risk (and thus missing out on the growth). In other words, have a plan for being really good to yourself if things don’t work out but still do them (this is my approach).

      I can imagine this must have been a very unpleasant and uncomfortable experience but it sounds to me you achieved some useful learning. You now know more about your body’s reaction to fear, and you also know that when things went a bit wrong you stood there, started again, and finished the performance – even though it wasn’t of the quality you had hoped and prepared for, you completed the attempt. I admire that. If you hadn’t done it, you would have protected yourself from an unpleasant experience (and I have done something similar so I know the stomach clenching awfulness of standing there while people clap politely) but would you know this about yourself? I guess that’s what it comes down to – do I prefer to risk an unpleasant experience, or risk not learning something (or not succeeding, which is another potential outcome!)? I don’t think there is a right answer to that, and I definitely don’t think it’s something everyone but you knows how to do and you missed out on that bit.

      1. Challenging enough*

        “I do feel that part of the toolkit for dealing with this kind of thing is to accept there’s a risk of biting off more than one can chew, and put in place escape or support strategies for if that happens, rather than avoiding the risk.”

        This resonates as a clear and useful strategy: to acknowledge the risk (more) consciously, set up a safety net, and then go do it. Thank you!!

    5. Asenath*

      I don’t really know – I try to encourage myself to take small risks on things I haven’t done before. I think I tend to do them in small increments, so that when one doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped, I can honestly tell myself, “Well, it was worth a try, but I don’t think I’ll be doing THAT again!” Or, depending on how much I want to do it, “but maybe it would be better with a different instructor/different setting/whatever; it’s worth another try.” I also keep my ambitions small – not that I’ll sing up to my potential, but that I’ll get on stage, get through my piece, and get off again. I hope I get better with practice, but really, for me, the big effort is in making myself try things that make me nervous, and I am getting better at that, and at not caring if they don’t work. I think it helps that there are many options for adult learners, and most of them are very kind and encouraging, both from the instructors and participants. When I decided, rather late in life, that I really wanted to sing, my first choice was a community choir open to all comers – very low stakes, very encouraging, and I could tell myself (falsely) that no one would notice me (or my mistakes) in a group. I did take lessons for a while (and found other choirs too), and even sang as one of a socially-distanced duo during COVID. It was the little step of allowing myself to pretend anonymity in a low-risk setting that actually got me singing in public.

      I’m still doing that, and have picked up art. The instructor and my fellow students are pleasant and encouraging. I tell myself I’m just doing a pleasant pastime, and when someone finds out what I’m doing and asks if I frame and hang up my work, I laugh and say I’m doing it for the experience, not the outcome. Which is fortunate, because I will never create a masterpiece, but I’ll enjoy splashing around with paint.

    6. cinnamon rolls*

      You did a thing, and it didn’t go as planned. That’s an adventure. And, that’s what makes life interesting. You imagined that you can very slowly go from here to there, with tiny bits of incremental progress, and never feeling sad/embarrassed/bad feelings. Sometimes that happens, but often it doesn’t. There are big leaps, big stumbles, and lots of feelings: good and bad. To echo another poster: having it go badly is not failure, because you did something new and hard and it didn’t go well. Ok. The next time you try something new and hard, maybe it will go well, maybe it won’t. But if it doesn’t go well: it won’t be the first time things don’t go well. And if it doesn’t go well, you’ll feel less badly about it because it won’t be the first time. If you do enough things that end in terrible failure, you’ll stop feeling badly about them, because you’ll be used to them, and each terrible thing won’t be so important. So, go out there and sing. Sing your heart out.

    7. fposte*

      I think that most of us find that a challenge! Funnily I was thinking along these lines recently with my own music excursion (I’ve started playing the recorder); I’ve been very conscious about pushing myself a little into low-stakes failures so that I get the experience of picking myself back up and moving along when they happen. There’s also the concept of graduated exposure. Was this the first time you sang in front of anybody except for the voice teacher? That’s a big step and maybe a few intervening ones would have helped. What comes to mind are things like asking a friend to listen to you sing a song to help you get used to performing, or even a private YouTube channel with comments turned off just in case.

      When you listen to performers and sports people talk about what they do, they’ll cheerfully list the times they bombed and wiped out all as part of the process. I’ve been listening a lot to comedians lately, and they talk about bombing being the rule for dozens of early gigs. I haven’t had a profession or pastime that treat errors and setbacks like that, and I’m trying to embrace it more. Maybe it’s worth redefining what you wanted out of this concert–you wanted to have the experience of going on stage, and you successfully did that. Maybe you learned that you don’t want to do it again, or maybe you learned that you need to prepare for more nervousness and work toward that as well.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just need to tell you… I am a trained classical singer and this happens to me, it’s happened to my friends. Singing is about the physical and the mental and the emotional and “put this here” and “remember that there” and “oops, here comes that high E” and it can get very overwhelming for your whole body. Please don’t give up because of this– instead, explore techniques to help you work through it. (A tip– hold on to something, like a water bottle or the top of the piano, to direct all of your excess energy.)

      Remember, the stakes may feel high, but they aren’t! You’re doing something you love. It’s a challenge, and that’s good! Keep going.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Me too. I still get nervous, and I’ve been performing in some way since I was five.

        You do get used to it in time. One thing that helped me when I was new to performing or new to the activity (especially skating) was to ignore the audience completely and concentrate hard on what I was doing. It reduces engagement, but it also lets you get used to doing your thing in front of people. Focus just over their heads so you can’t see their faces—to them, it appears you’re looking right at them. :)

      2. Challenging enough*

        “the physical and the mental and the emotional” — yes, this so much. I’m rely a lot on solving things cognitively, and I have usually no trouble with being on a stage giving a paper, for example, because I can tell myself that people focus on the issues, that it’s about the thoughts and ideas and not about me. This mostly positive stage experience may be part of the reason why I thought I could handle the recital. But being on stage with my whole being, for the sole purpose of drawing attention to my voice as something that I’ve come to realise is very personal and only fully unfolds when you really open up is a whole different beast. Plus remembering a text in Italian and that at that one phrase its a count of two and at the other a count of three… Thank you for helping me understand better where the specific challenges are, and thank you for being so understanding.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I am going to put on my “mom voice” and tell you that you did something really hard, and I’m so proud of you! I hope you are proud of yourself, too, because that was very brave.

      I made my living as a performer, but I was so scared of singing solos in front of people that my goal for an audition was simply to get out of the room alive. You are alive, so you win!

      Going from zero to singing solo is a really huge leap. Have you thought about maybe joining a choir? It’s very friendly and you can get used to rehearsing & performing in a group, before you decide if you want to try soloing again.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Choir is a good suggestion. Way less nerve-wracking since you have other people with you. Plus, it’s fun.

    10. WellRed*

      Patti Smith filled in for Dylan at the Nobel ceremony. She sang Blue Eyed Son (which seems a challenging piece). She fumbled it. She asked to restart or go back to some point and apologized to the audience stating she was nervous. The Audience reacted warmly. She’s been performing half a century. Performing is hard. Congratulations for your bravery. And YouTube that performance.

        1. Challenging enough*

          This is an incredibly beautiful and moving performance. Thank you so very much for pointing me towards it.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t sing for an activity. But it seems to me that singing is an endurance test, not much different than running or walking long distances. It isn’t just about the activity it’s about the mental endurance/ the mental stamina.

      I have a friend who played a musical instrument for groups. He had to stop because of physical problems. But he said the stress was incredible. And he is good at what he does and had played this instrument for years. Even though he is rusty now and in pain, he plays better than a lot of people.

      I think it’s important to realize that being really good at something may not solve the nervousness.

      I really admire you. You put yourself right out there and really, really tried. Do you think about what kind of guts it takes to do that????

      So take-aways on this one:

      The number one take away comes from my own personal experiences. You have guts. Once you find the right channel for you, those guts are going to be a huge asset. I know, it probably feels like you are no longer brave. Trust me when I say that part of you did not die, it’s still there. It will come to the surface again in a bit. BTDT.

      You are very wise to be thinking about how to pick challenges. While I can’t tell you what challenge is for you, I can tell you that in my mind, when I pick a challenge now my self-check includes how certain I am that I can do it. I have to be 50-60 % certain that I can have success. This means, if I am really nervous, jittery this is a stop sign for me. It’s important to pay attention to how we feel. Some folks have it in the stomachs. Some folks just feel shaky. When I pick out a challenge that is right for me, there is a part of me that says, “If I concentrate and prepare, then I will get this.” I don’t have this feeling when I go into challenges that are over my ability. If a challenge is beyond me I am a bundle of nervousness with zero sense of “try harder and it will be okay”.

      As a kid I was sent for swim lessons year after year, for almost a decade. I never learned to swim. It turned out there were physical reasons for that. Unfortunately, I learned a lot of misconceptions. I learned that I had to stick with things no matter how insurmountable and just suffer through and hope for the best. Of course, the best never happened. Where I landed was, “I wish I could swim, but that is just not going to be a part of my life.” I no longer force myself to stay with something that just plain is not working out for me. I set time limits and I stick to them.

      I love music. I have a horrible story about a duet I did. (My partner for that ended up in the restroom crying because of me. [shuddering]) Now I love *listening* to music. It took a while to get to this conclusion.

      Aging was also a friend to me for some challenges. I did a public short speech in my 20s. It was agony. Thirty years later, it was no longer a big deal in some circumstances. What worked for me there, is that I did not force the public speaking issue with myself AND I found things to speak about that I actually believe in. Time helped. Trying again in a bit might be a viable technique for you.

      I do think that my own public embarrassments helped me to empathize with people better. And I think it helped me to understand the effort involved in doing something publicly. Again, this is a sense of things that develops over the months and years to come. So if you don’t feel it right now, that is okay. Your situation is still new and raw. The rawness goes down, it won’t be so stark like it is now.

      I know I missed the parent voice myself. But we can be our own parent. We pay closer attention to the “pit of the stomach feelings”. We can learn to gauge how we are progressing with New Thing vs what our expectations are of ourselves. Most importantly, we can decide what we think of as “having success”. For example, with singing what does success look like for you? And the answer can’t be, “Jumping through the hoops that the instructor lays out for me.” There has to be more to that answer. What’s your goal with your singing? What would you like it to be? What do you think is attainable given what you have worked at so far?
      Don’t answer here. Just mull it over and see what you come up with.

    12. beach read*

      Long ago I auditioned for a solo in a school play and my voice sounded nice but shook like crazy due to the unadulterated terror I felt singing in front of my classmates. I didn’t get the role and although I wanted so badly to participate, never tried again. Looking back, I have so many regrets about that.
      It takes a lot of courage to pursue a dream and to step out of our comfort zones. I think you are amazing for taking the lessons and singing in public. I hope that you will keep on going because, what if?

    13. Challenging enough*

      Thank you to everyone for your kind, thoughtful and incredibly helpful replies! When I read through the thread, I cried a little, but these were the good tears washing tension away. You helped me realise that sometimes utter failure is not only not the end of the world, but nothing terrible happens at all. This is obviously not always true, but in this case the stakes were objectively low (though I did put a lot of pressure on myself), and so there were basically no consequences to failure. So I might have arrived at a partial answer to my question: thinking about the real-life consequences of failure before engaging with the situation. If the worst that can happen is a bruised ego, it is still worth trying.

      Thank you all very much!

    14. Kama'aina Kitty*

      Trained singer here. I admire you–what you did took guts. Don’t give up on singing. Here are some ideas to try: seconding the idea of joining a choir. It may be a church choir or a community choir or, if you live near a college, they may have a choir that’s open to non-music majors (may require tuition). Choirs are a great way to gain experience singing in public with others. Ask your voice teacher to set you up with another student so you can sing a duet in the next recital. Make sure that the other student is more experienced than you; this should help you feel more secure. Pick a song you know well that easily fits in your range, nothing complicated. Folk songs, pop songs, something from a musical–heck, sing Happy Birthday, it doesn’t matter. These next few performances are just for you, to help you get over your nerves. Don’t worry about entertaining anyone, you’re learning a skill and some of that learning has to take place in front of an audience. Tell yourself that it’s your turn and that you deserve to be there. Sending you positive vibes!

    15. Fikly*

      Neil Gaiman, who is an incredible performer, has terrible stage fright. I heard him and Amanda Palmer talking about a tour they were doing, and how they were getting ready before a performance, and midsentence, he pauses and abruptly puked out a window.

      That isn’t to say you need to force yourself to keep performing. Why do you want to perform? Is there something you think you would get out of it that you aren’t getting out of the singing lessons? Is there a middle ground, say, singing with a group?

      I ask this because it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot myself lately. There was a computer game I was wanting to try, thought I would really enjoy, but I kept putting it off because I was anxious I either wouldn’t enjoy it, or my disabilities meant I wouldn’t be able to play it, and I didn’t want to deal with the disappointment. I had other things I could do instead. I finally tried it yesterday, and flat out couldn’t play it. There are other things I can do, games I can play, that I know work, and are less risky. And there are times in my life when I am more risk tolerant, but they are not now.

    16. bratschegirl*

      Professional instrumentalist here. First off, what you did is legitimately incredibly hard. I started chanting Torah readings in my synagogue some years back, after decades of musical performing experience, and having my voice be the instrument is very different and leaves me feeling much more vulnerable. I was terrified the first several times and I still get nervous every time. I’m so sorry you had a bad experience; it’s so very challenging, when your first one is like that, to feel OK about contemplating doing it again.

      Know that there are many hugely famous performers who never get over their stage fright, and even decades and millions of album sales and tours and Grammys into their careers are still puking in the dressing room before going on. So what happened to you is not evidence that this is something you shouldn’t be doing. It may indeed turn out that you ultimately decide that this isn’t something you enjoy enough to justify dealing with the anxiety, and that’s a decision that you get to make, but you absolutely shouldn’t feel that this one really unfortunate experience somehow disqualifies you from the arena altogether.

      You’ve now seen that learning to sing (or play an instrument, etc.) is not at all the same thing as learning how to perform. There are people who will tell you that stage fright simply means that you hadn’t prepared the music enough, and that if you had really learned it well enough to be performance-ready you wouldn’t have felt this way. These people are to be ignored, or marooned on a desert island, or some such; this is nonsense (see above).

      The first thing I’ll suggest is that you talk to your voice teacher about this, in detail. They may or may not be helpful, and if they aren’t then you may need to look elsewhere for guidance. But there are doubtless some specific techniques that singers employ when they feel the quavering in their sound that might help you on future occasions.

      The second thing to remember is that the adrenaline burst, which is what made your voice shake and then became that loop that kept feeding itself and spiraling you down, is evidence that you cared about what you were doing and it was important to you. Adrenaline, in manageable quantities, can actually be helpful to a performance; nobody sets world records in practice, and the heightened experience of a performance situation can elevate what we do beyond the levels that we typically reach in rehearsal. But when there’s an uncontrolled flood, our physical response gets in the way of what we’re trying to do.

      Mindfulness techniques can be very helpful. Concentrating on the feeling of your feet in your shoes on the stage floor, or something like that, can help keep you in the moment and prevent your thoughts from wandering off unsupervised, either into the past (“oh, no, that note was out of tune”) or into the future (“oh golly, here comes that scary passage” “I wonder what the audience thinks” etc.).

      Something to check with your doctor, if you want to keep doing this but just can’t find any other way to get or keep the nerves under control: a prescription for beta blockers. Professional musicians, actors, etc. commonly use these meds in tiny, tiny doses to prevent the release of excess adrenaline and the physical manifestations that it causes, like a quavering voice or shaking hands. 5 or 10 mg of propranolol can make a huge difference. Dry mouth is sometimes a side effect, though, which could be detrimental to singing, so ask your doc and teacher about that.

      I salute and honor you for being brave enough to take this on, and I hope you find a way to make your peace with performing!

  20. maen*

    Catching up on the post a few weeks ago about an inappropriate relationship with a coworker and going off on a tangent – about using extra vowels in words!

    I’ve noticed that sometimes people add extras of a vowel that’s not pronounced, e.g. “loveeeeeeee”. I’m not really a vowels person myself, but I would probably write “loooooove” instead. I don’t mean to say that one way is right and the other is wrong, it’s just a difference that fascinates me. How would you write it?

    Maybe I should come out of my shell and become a vowels person? I’m worried about it coming across fake and over the top, but perhaps I can find my voice somehow.

    1. Meh*

      I think your example highlights the way it would be said/the inflection. The stressed eeeee seems more like a squeal or an up lilting of the word. Like a compliment on someones shoes. The stressed ooooo would be maybe more mocking. Like, she looooves him, she wants to maaaaarry him (thinking kids taunting).

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m with you, the idea of extra-ing a letter that you don’t even pronounce the once is just weird to me. But I only do the extra vowels in a couple places, I think — “weeeeeeeeeell….” is my big one, where if we were having the discussion in person, I would be saying it the exact same way, drawn out like that. Otherwise, it’s pretty much limited to “oooooo” or “heeeee” :P

    3. ecnaseener*

      Some combination of 1) “ooo” makes the oo-sound, and 2) even if you do read it as luhhhhhv, that’s not what I’m going for – I’m not trying to convey literally dragging out the word, more a general emphasis. (It’s a different emphasis than you get by capitalizing it, idk how to explain it lol.)

      Because Internet by Gretchen McCullough might interest you!

    4. Anon for this*

      I totally do the loveeeeee thing but in my imagination I pronounce it “luuuuuuuuuv” and I know the whole time it’s nonsense! Maybe ramp up with like 2 extra vowels at first and see how it feels. Extra consonants also doable! Another silly one is lolllllll – because the “lol” stands for laughing out loud but the extra Ls convey more laughter! Language is amazing!!!

    5. Flash Packet*

      I’m not a fan of extra vowels that aren’t pronounced when spoken. I’d rather someone add a bunch of consonants (“lovvvvvvvve”) than extend that silent E.

      Obviously, I can override my internal irritation and understand what the person is conveying when they write “loveeeeeee” but it annoys me that I had to do a stop-and-mentally-edit because my brain initially interpreted it as maybe a nickname (“Lovey”) instead of an emphatic “love”.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I’d read “loveeeee” as “lovey,” with the last syllable extended, so yeah, if I meant to imply extending the word “love,” I’d do it your way.

    7. Filosofickle*

      This is one of my pet peeves. I’m in the looooooove camp. Phonetics, people!

      1. WellRed*

        I might get Phonetics, people! On a T-shirt. I’ll wear it and walk around with my trusty apostrophizer zapping extraneous possessives wherever I go.

    8. PollyQ*

      I would write it “looooooove” and the other way drives me out of my gourd! But I’d be much more likely to use LOVE, love, or love, depending on my mood.

    9. Sally O’Malley*

      I would also use looooove. When I see loveeeeee, I think of Lovey—Thurston Howell III’s wife on Gilligan’s Island. LOL

    10. SofiaDeo*

      I think it’s something being done by people trying to make up new writing rules just to be different….. Like, the ones that think punctuation is aggressive.

  21. Dashing*

    Looking for suggestions on where to buy good mounting tape or tips on mounting dash cams.

    I got a front and back dash cam set about two years ago. Front one has never fallen off the window, but the back one falls off about every six months. Ran out of the extra mounting pads meant for the small back dash cam, so I cut one of the extra mounting pads for the larger front dash cam in half to use. It’s fallen off less than 24 hours later for both halves. First time I assumed it was because the car was parked in the summer sun and it was too hot for the mounting tape to “set,” so I parked my car in our carport for the second one, but that didn’t help.

    From what I gathered online, the best mounting tape to use is 3M VHB Tape in black (which can withstand up to 250 degree F temperatures), but supposedly if you get it from Amazon it’s likely to be counterfeit. My local hardware stores only sell it in huge $200 rolls. Not sure what to do now!

    1. Other Duties as Assigned*

      Not for a dashcam, but my Illinois Tollway I-Pass is mounted using heavy-duty 3M “velcro.” It’s not the usual type with one side of plastic hooks and another of a fuzzy cloth material. Rather, BOTH sides are really robust plastic hooks that REALLY interlock. The other peel-off side has an adhesive which is strong, but removable with a little effort. I used two small (1.25″ x 0.75″) rectangles and it’s more than enough. It’s usually in the hardware store with the other 3M stuff for hanging pictures, etc.

    2. Anono-me*

      I would probably go to an auto parts store and ask them or maybe look at the mounting stuff for rearview mirrors.

  22. Different Name Today*

    I recently received an expensive gift from Amazon (a baby monitor, $200, not on the registry) and I have no idea who it’s from. There was no gift receipt or other paperwork inside.

    I want to ask around to see who it could be from, but I’m too embarrassed to because the majority of people (~15 out of 20) I invited to my shower did not get me anything. This is totally fine, but I’m feeling awkward about asking. I don’t want it to give “just following up” vibes, I just want to thank the person.

    Also, I feel even more awkward about the whole thing because I didn’t even want a baby shower in the first place and so many people have asked about a registry, told me to put more and more stuff of it, and then…to get 5 things? I felt embarrassed because I think, isn’t this kind of what you wanted? You didn’t want a shower, you didn’t want to seem gift grabby, and now you’ve gotten a handful of gifts and can just buy everything you want yourself, so what is the problem? Has anyone gone through something similar?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Can you send out a group email to everyone who was invited and say thank you for coming/for thinking of you…and then add extra thank you wording for whomever gave the baby monitor that came without sender information? That way you aren’t targeting anyone specifically, you’ve thanked whomever it is and said person can speak up if they want to.

    2. Alex*

      I have seen people post on social media this exact kind of thing–“To the person who bought me this lovely baby monitor, thank you so much! I would thank you directly but I don’t know who it was!”

      It never seemed awkward or anything.

    3. Pop*

      Apparently this is not uncommon with baby registries. People want to express enthusiasm and support but don’t always follow through with dollars. I also had a few people ask for my registry link weeks after she was here. Actually, there’s nothing left because I needed it all a month ago!

      I don’t think it’s weird to send a quick “loved seeing you at my shower! By the way I got a baby monitor gift in the mail with no info – was that from you? I don’t know who to thank!” text. It won’t seem gift grabby IMO. and rest assured this has also happened to several people I know with gifts, including me.

    4. Not A Manager*

      The first thing I would do is contact amazon and ask them. If you have any of the shipping labels still intact, that would be helpful, or if you got any kind of shipping email from them. But even so, try asking just based on your shipping address and the date the item arrived.

      1. coffee is my friend*

        Yes – I did and learn that there was no gift note (I wondered if it had gotten lost) but they would email the person for me

        1. Victoria*

          I got an amazon package last week with my item and somebody else’s baby shower note and gift receipt (for a product that was not in my box). It was deeply weird.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            My aunt has sent Christmas gifts through Amazon. She always arranged for a note, & I have never once received one. My siblings have the same experience. I think it’s due to their warehouse staff not really having time to mess around.

            Amazon has the worst & most nonsensical packaging system from a consumer perspective.

    5. Cj*

      Could it be a group gift? $200 sounds like an awful lot of money for a shower gift from one person. Maybe that’s why you got so few.

    6. Different Name Today*

      Update: mystery solved! I went ahead and asked Amazon Customer Service to send a Thank You note on my behalf and they told me who it was, LMAO. Well, to be exact, CS asked me if I knew who X was and I did!

      It was from one of my best friends who couldn’t make it to the shower. Maybe the gift receipt was in @Victoria’s order!

      1. Different Name Today*

        PS – I definitely cried about it earlier this week. My shower was a couple of weeks ago and I thought my BFF didn’t care. She didn’t need to get me a gift, but we had talked since and she didn’t ask about the shower and I didn’t bring it up. My feelings were hurt and I told myself I was taking it too seriously, then my brother in law had/has yet to acknowledge it either and I was upset since husband and him are so close, but then H told me it was fine, which made me feel stupid for caring, cried some more. Good times.

        1. PollyQ*

          FWIW, I think it’s terribly odd for someone to attend a shower, either wedding or baby, and not bring a gift. That’s the whole point of a shower! And I understand that people have budgetary issues, perhaps especially right now with galloping inflation, but they could at least pick up a pack of onesies at Target or something.

          1. WellRed*

            I agree with tjis. Whether you agree with the concept or not, the whole point of a shower is gifts. Even if you can only afford a diapers.

    7. Salymander*

      This happened to me, through not at my baby shower. It turned out that the pricey gift was from several people who all chipped in together. As groups sometimes do, they each thought the other’s were responsible for the card or gift tag, and everyone’s responsibility became no one’s job. They were sheepish about it and didn’t say anything because they didn’t want to call attention to it in front of everyone else at the party. I sent out an email to all party attendees, thanking my anonymous benefactor for the lovely gift, and they all messaged me back. They all were really embarrassed about the lack of a tag or card for some reason. It was kind of funny and sweet.

  23. HannahS*

    Thanks to everyone who commented last week on my question about finding balance in life as a new(ish) parent. I couldn’t comment because I had a call shift last weekend (…which is part of the challenge in finding time for myself) but I really appreciated everyone’s thoughts.

  24. Rehoming my dog?*

    SHORT VERSION:
    The summary is — my dog bit someone (this person was provoking him) late last year. We worked with trainers and tried to address the issue, but he’s still had many, many close calls including two where he’s nipped and torn someone’s sweater. I live in a sense suburban area – picture like an apartment community in the outskirts of Philly.

    I’m thinking of rehoming my dog to a more rural place where he won’t be constantly around people and animals he doesn’t know. I’m so sad as I type, but I want what’s best for the dog.

    Thoughts?

    LONGER:
    I adopted a loving, 8 year old 70 lb lab mix last October. He comes to us from South Carolina. Had some signs of neglect, but was looking for a new home because he 1) lived with a big German Shepherd who beat up on him and 2) his human parents were splitting up.

    We did a few months of training with him, have taken him on vacations, to visit my Mom, to visit friends, to the dog park, and to doggy play dates. 95% of the time everything is fine. But I’m so scared that he’s going to bite someone again! He bit a neighbor who was approaching him. (The dog had been growing and barking to tell this man to back off). When others have walked up to him, he’s jumped or barked. He’s so big that he’s hard to control if I’m not perfectly alert.

    I’ve gotten him tags that say “I’m nervous please give me space” or “nervous rescue, do not pet” and my neighbors understand when I walk in the other direction as them. I also use a poke pronged collar more if the time than not (I know this is controversial).

    He’s so sweet. I love him. He’s cuddly. He smiles all the time. When he meets a youngish woman, he wants to cuddle her and is hella gentle. There’s so much right with him. He’s trained, house trained, well-behaved. The lady who took care of him over the long weekend had zero issues and liked him.

    I just wonder if a rural-ish place or just a home with more space and fewer unknown people (e.g., not a dense suburban area) would be a better fit for him? I think our relationship with him is good, but I don’t know if the dog will ever adjust to living in a sense area, and I’m – again – scared he’ll bite someone.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      What about a muzzle? I’ve seen dogs around my neighbourhood with muzzles, but I’m no dog expert.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I would pair a muzzle with investigating more intensive training. I know there are dogs out there who just need a muzzle to feel…safer. Worth a shot I think.

      2. KR*

        I think a muzzle would be a great move here. It’s also a signal to other people to not approach. I would also say that the dog should never be alone outside unsupervised where neighbors/delivery drivers/so on can just walk up to the fence or home. Even if you relocated to a less populated area there are still neighbors and visitors and whatnot there, just not as close in proximity.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I agree- I’m astonished anyone would approach a growling and barking dog in the first place, but since you can’t control people…

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      So … if you are literally on the outskirts of Philadelphia, you should know that, in southeastern Pennsylvania, jury awards against someone whose dog has bitten a person can be high. Pennsylvania state law is very unfavorable to people who know that their dog has biting issues and/or has actually previously bitten someone. And your homeowner’s insurance may not defend you if your dog bites again. (Source: Pennsylvania is one of the jurisdictions where I’m licensed.)

      I don’t know if your dog would benefit from more training or a completely environment, but if it were me, I would absolutely fast-track the rehoming option.

      1. Dog*

        I’m not actually in PA, but I get your point. Similarly, my homeowner’s insurance will not support me if my dog bites again – you’re exactly right about that.

    3. Not A Manager*

      My friends have a rescue dog that was super aggressive in their home, very territorial and protective of them. He would bark and nip/bite people. When we visited, we would wear boots because he would bite our ankles and calves.

      They worked extensively with a trainer on conditioning him in provoking situations. I don’t know all of the techniques, but they have some kind of clicker that makes either a sound that is unpleasant to him, or maybe he’s just learned that it’s disapproving. He’s really like a new dog now. He will never love or even like anyone that’s not his owners, but he tolerates us and isn’t threatening. But this took a lot of time and concentrated work, and money too.

      I see that you’ve done some training in the past, but you’re not continuing with that now. My advice is that the status quo is unsupportable. It sounds like you are trying to be alert enough to prevent individual incidents before they occur. And you are right that you can prevent 99% of them, but there will always be that 1% that you miss. I think you either need to fully commit to a professional regimen of consistent training, or you need to rehome him.

    4. Generic Name*

      Was the training general obedience training or specific private training with a behaviorist? If you haven’t taken him to a behaviorist, that’s something else you could try.

      1. Rebecca*

        I 100% second this. We had a similar issue with our rescue doggy. She had other issues too but the main thing that terrified me was that I just didn’t feel confident that she wouldn’t bite someone. She had bit someone before (gave SO many warning signs that he ignored) and had tried to bite several others who had again, ignored warning signs. We took her to a behavioralist who built a great plan for us based on our pup’s individual issues/temperament. I am not kidding – she became a new dog. She still has her quirks that drive me nuts some days but I don’t worry about her biting a visitor. She’s even warmed up to a few of my family and friends who she used to hate. We had a second visit scheduled with our behavioralist but after we reported to her how our dog was doing she cancelled it and said to just call anytime. It was the best money I ever spent.

        (Also, if you do decide on rehoming that is understandable. The behavioralist said that she was surprised we hadn’t gone that route and that she actually would have recommended it if our dog had shown any aggression toward our kid.)

        1. Bob-White of the Glen*

          Can this trainer work with someone long distance? Maybe they can help this dog. If so, maybe post next week?

    5. just another queer reader*

      I’m sorry you’re in this tough situation :/

      A few thoughts –

      – call your local Humane Society. They are typically connected with lots of resources and may be able to refer/ give advice.
      – “board and train” places exist
      – your vet may also have good advice.

      Sending best wishes to all of you.

      1. Meh*

        I have a friend through a rescue that boards and trains and the changes in dogs are amazing. But I second the muzzle for every walk. Just know that a lot of rescues won’t take reactive dogs or those with biting history since they are extremely difficult to get adopted out. And there are very very few total no-kill shelters.

        1. just another queer reader*

          For sure.

          A good friend of mine works for a local humane society. They typically only accept animals that will be able to be adopted out, and while they try hard to work with every animal, sometimes the best option is to put an animal down.

    6. Dog*

      Update: I just heard from the neighbor whose label the dog got. Apparently the dog bit through the lapel making the jacket unusable, and also hurt (but did not pierce) the skin. This is two incidents; I reached out to the rescue agency about rehoming him. I’m sad but also resolute. This isn’t OK. If the two guys who got bit were really cool about it, but if they weren’t, our home insurance would be dropping us, we’d have multiple lawsuits, etc.

      1. Unum Hoc Scio*

        We went through something similar. Adopted a lab mix from a rescue group, the foster mother assured us that she was *great* with kids and cats and only had a *slight* problem with older men (history of abuse). We tried. We really did. After a month of trying, of the cats hiding from her, the kids (11 & 12) being jumped on, of controlling her carefully on walks in case we encountered a man over 30, of having the back seat of our van eaten, we gave up and returned her to the foster mom.
        The kicker was a young couple sympathizing with us after a growly, lunging episode with an older man (and profuse apologies) saying that they had gone through something similar. When we asked how they ended up training their dog out of it, they replied that nothing worked even though they still had that dog.
        We grew up with dogs and this wasn’t our first and we ended up adopting a wonderful dog/puppy from the SPCA later
        Sometimes nothing you do works and the dog needs a completely different place away from lots of people.

      2. HannahS*

        I’m sorry to hear it. I do think that you’re making the right choice, but I’m sorry that you’re in this position.

    7. WellRed*

      I’m sorry and hope you figure this out. I appreciate dog owners telling me from a near distance “she’s not friendly” if I come across one on a walk. Your signs wouldn’t be helpful because I won’t see them until I’m close. Make sure you know the law in your area. In mine. A dog with (3?) strikes is automatically put down.

    8. Invisible fish*

      Get a muzzle, up the training with a specialist, and when fools come up close to him and he’s obviously telling them to back off but is being ignored, be his voice and TELL THEM to back off. People who keep getting close to or around a dog that is growling or agitated are just …. UGHHH. Why? If a person said “I don’t like you- don’t touch me,” would they still go up and try to shake that person’s hand? Ugh. (A friend whose dog had similar issues ended up wearing a muzzle for times he’d be around people, and it worked well. You want to research the best one for him, get the perfect size, etc., but it’ll be a great safety measure while you and a specialist help him to deal with others better.)

    9. KoiFeeder*

      What’s the cause of the biting? Is it touch? Proximity? Certain individuals? Has the vet noticed any chronic pain conditions, like arthritis? I think a behaviorist is a good idea, but if you think the environment is making him more inclined to bite you may indeed need to rehome him.

      To be clear: if you have to rehome him, this does not mean you have failed him. You are setting him up for success by giving him the best possible options.

    10. anonagain*

      I would muzzle, avoid other people, and consult a veterinary behaviorist for advice. Find out what would be required to safely rehome this dog.

      This is very tough. I’m sorry for you and your dog.

  25. Teapot Translator*

    What about a book thread? What are you reading? What have you read? Are you looking for recommendations?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I just finished The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. It was as fun as everyone said it was. Does the author have other light, fun reads like that one?

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Scalzi: Not quite as frolicsome but still a lot of fun: Redshirts, about all the background characters in a World Very Much Like Star Trek. I also enjoyed The Dispatcher, a short novel set in a world where murder victims – for no explainable reason – will, 999 times out of a thousand, return to life nude, healed of the most recent damage they suffered, and in the place they most felt safe (usually at home in bed). This very quirky situation has resulted in lots of changes to society and business, as people find ways to make use of it to their advantage.

        1. VegetarianRaccoon*

          ok, that sounds fascinating, I’m requesting the Dispatcher from my local library now!

      2. Stitch*

        Redshirts is very, very meta.

        My husband likes the Old Man’s War series but I haven’t started it yet.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        His The Last Emperox series is space opera, but is full of similarly snarky characters.

        Overall his books are all very readable and usually fun.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Someone mentioned this last time Scalzi came up, but Agent to the Stars is a lot of fun. It’s about a Hollywood agent who is hired to represent gooey aliens. I think it was his first novel!

      5. OtterB*

        You might try Fuzzy Nation, which is a reboot of the 1950s Little Fuzzy. Prospector on an alien planet finds that cute fuzzy native creatures may be sapient and therefore the owners of their planet. There are important themes about colonialism and who counts as a person, but it’s generally lighthearted.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      I read Allison’s recommendation for a few weeks ago _The Nest_ and loved it to bits! The specific bits were that it deftly and compellingly went between characters’ perspectives, Sweeney’s amazing vocabulary (“adenoidal”, anyone?), excellent prose, and it reminded me of some family dynamics of my own and helped me let go of them. Really loved it, reading another by this author.

    3. SpellingBee*

      I read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison last week and loved it! I tried it several months as an ebook ago after seeing a recommendation here, and for some reason I couldn’t get into it. But in a recent visit to the real library I saw a hard copy on the “featured books” shelf and picked it up to try again, started it a few days later and was immediately smitten. I devoured it in no time and was sad when I finished. I just started her next book set in the same world, The Witness for the Dead.

    4. HannahS*

      I am reading, “The Urge” which is a history of addiction, written by a psychiatrist who has struggled with addiction himself. So far, reasonably interesting.

    5. AY*

      Finished One Italian Summer in one day at the pool. The story was just OK but the descriptions of the Amalfi Coast and the food were sublime. It was like going on vacation for the day. (I am a big wine person, so I admit I was disappointed that the author lavished all this attention on the food and then just said the characters were drinking “red” or “white.” I want more! Was it vermentino or fiano? Aglianico or negroamaro? How did it taste??)

      I’m reading Candice Millard’s new nonfiction book, River of the Gods, which is about the search of the source of the Nile. I’ve read a few other Millard books, and she’s a great storyteller.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I’m about to start FLASH FIRE by TJ Klune, the sequel to the hilarious “Extraordinaries”. The books are set in a world where there are superheroes – and villains – with lots of issues as to where their powers came from and how the justice system should work regarding vigilantes who can level entire city blocks. Here, the teen protagonist has finally figured out that he’s in love with his best friend – and he’s learned some secrets about several of the students at his school, with regard to which one’s actually a superhero and which a villain. And there are secrets in his own family that look to be revealed soon… (Given that there’s a third book in the series I expect this one to get a bit darker, but am hoping for more of the laugh-out-loud bits I loved from the first one.)

      See also my post in an earlier book-thread by MuseumNerd.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Still working my way through two series:

      A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, five books based on the Victorian explorer model, but with dragons. It’s a nice combination of world building and one person who sometimes wound up in a position to act, and did. I’m in book 3 and really anticipating book 5, where I assume a lot of my speculation about what this is leading to gets confirmed or blown up.

      The Crown Colony mysteries by Ovidia Yu. Set in Singapore between the world wars, from the pov of a girl who dreams of being a reporter and manages to avoid an arranged marriage and get a job working for the chief of police. It’s nice for the sense of place, and for the complicated dynamics–the family who wanted to arrange a marriage aren’t monsters; I like that the heroine is young and writing as though looking back and her older wiser self wouldn’t have fallen for stuff that her younger self did. Her impressions of people swing around in a way that I found realistic, but unusual in fiction. I like Su Lin, and like the strong sense of place. Next book is set during the Japanese occupation in WW2.

      1. MuseumNerd*

        Ah! Here you are. I posted upthread that I was looking for whoever recommended A Natural History of Dragons last week so I could say thank you! I’m already probably within an hour of finishing book 1 and got the second book already. Super pleased to find there are so many in the series. Thanks for the recommendation!

    8. Jamie Starr*

      My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite) – this was a quick read. Despite the title, it’s not that dark.

      I’ve just started Born a Crime (Trevor Noah). I’m not that into Trevor Noah, but my graduate thesis was about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, so I’m interested to read a first hand account of what growing up there was like. I’m about four chapters in and enjoying it so far.

      1. slmrlln*

        I loved My Sister the Serial Killer! Less dark than I expected, and I just really enjoyed the sister dynamics

        1. Jamie Starr*

          I didn’t like the ending; I wish Korede had made a different choice. But I don’t have a sister and am estranged from my brother so maybe it’s because I can’t relate to that type of relationship.

    9. slmrlln*

      I just finished Gideon the Ninth (awesome!) and am now reading Gods of Jade and Shadow (slower pace but also awesome). The first one is more on the dark science fiction side, the second is fantasy set in 1920s Mexico.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        Oh, I loved Gideon the Ninth, I’m so happy every time a new person reads it!

      2. Virtual Light*

        Yay Gideon! The audiobook is also superlatively done. If you are not planning to read the sequel pretty soon, maybe plan a Gideon re-read before you dive into Harrow the Ninth, so you will maybe be less disoriented at the beginning. I learned that the hard way.

        Book 3 coming out this fall!! I cannot WAIT.

    10. AceInPlainSight*

      I’ve been on a T Kingfisher kick lately, and just finished her Nettle and Bone. It’s a dark fairy tale, and even though I don’t normally go for horror or horror-adjacent anything (I had a nightmare with it the night I finished it), it was so good I don’t care! Somehow, even though it’s dark, and there are parts where everything is just incredibly fucked up, I walked away feeling uplifted and cheerful, with the impression of a fun, escapist story. Like, (mild spoiler) Bone Dog. The book starts with our heroine wiring together a dog skeleton out of a charnel pit. Livestock on the bottom, pets in the middle, people on the top, as the famine got worse. Bone Dog comes to life, and winds up being a very good boy who licks her face (or tries… he is just a skeleton), eats chicken bones that fall out of his throat, and goes to pee on an evil king’s tomb. The whole book is like if NK Jemison took her body horror and social justice, then wrote a comedy sword and sorcery novel. So…. Big recommend if you’re into fairy tales

      1. GoryDetails*

        Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is awesome! I’m in the middle of Nettle & Bone myself, and the mix of gritty realism (as in the state of our heroine’s hands after she’s spent so long plucking nettles and weaving bones together with wire) and whimsical/weird fantasy is enchanting. And Bone Dog is a delight!

    11. RagingADHD*

      Defenestrate by Renee Branum. I didn’t know anything about it. I picked it up because the title is one of my favorite words to say.

      It’s written as a series of memory vignettes, entirely out of chronological order but in an emotional logic / arc. Her style is beautiful but the story is so sad that I’m not sure if I’ll finish it.

      I’d recommend it to anyone who likes family dramas with a hint of magical realism / superstition /fate.

    12. Decidedly Me*

      I just finished (as in an hour ago) The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel about a girl who was kidnapped and raised in the woods, later meeting people fleeing the Nazis. Very good! Though, given the time period, also a hard read.

      Before that was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It was on my list for awhile and with the movie coming out, I figured it was time. It follows two timelines, a girl living alone in the swamp and a murder of someone in town.

      Next up is The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. I tend to not read the back of a book before reading it, if it’s on my list then I knew what it was about at some point and decided I wanted to read it, so I don’t recall what it’s about, but I loved another of his books: The Silent Patient.

    13. Susie*

      I’m reading Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. It is an incredibly powerful book. While I would probably get through something a that is escapist more quickly, I’m glad I’m taking time to really engage with this book.
      I did just check out A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy Lin from the library, so I’m excited to transition to a different genre next

    14. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I JUST finished Trust, by Hernan Diaz, and I can already tell that it’s going to be one of my top five books of the year. I won’t say much about it, but it just gives giving you more and more — and the writing is lovely; I highlighted so many sentences.

    15. Kayem*

      I’m almost done re-reading Moonfall by Jack McDevitt. Not related to the bad Emmerich movie, but I wanted to reread it after seeing said bad Emmerich movie.

      I generally stick with sci-fi, horror, monster, and occasionally fantasy when reading for fun. I read so much science, philosophy, and technical manuscripts at work that I try to stick with leisure reading that isn’t likely going to appear in headlines in our universe, whether it’s serious or pure fluff.

      I used to ask for book recommendations, but I’d always start by saying the genres I was interested in, the genres I wasn’t interested in, and then a footnote that I was not interested in Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, or Neil Gaiman because yes, I already knew about them and I’d either read them all or was looking for standalone books and didn’t want to get into series just yet. And the first five posts would immediately suggest those three authors, a high fantasy romance series eight miles long, or Tom Clancy genre books.

      So I’m not asking for recommendations. I’ll probably either start Jurassic Dead 2 (I can’t say no to zombie dinosaurs), finally finish Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James K Morrow, or Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.

    16. rosyglasses*

      I finished my third Haruki Murakami book yesterday (The Wind Up Bird Chronicle) and will be picking up another soon.

      I’m on book 6 or 7 now of the Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker that was recommended here a few months back – I love anything set in France and the short reads are a great distraction during the work week (plus – I love books that include food as a central point to the story).

      I am casually starting Think Again by Adam Grant as one of my work reads, and today will likely try to get back into The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

    17. Expelliarmus*

      The last book I read was The Eagles of Heart Mountain by Bradford Pearson. It’s the real story of a group of Japanese teenagers that were part of a stellar high school football team in their internment camp (during WWII). It’s very comprehensive and insightful, and the author definitely did his due diligence to ensure that he did the story justice.

  26. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I am debating commissioning a custom day bag from an Etsy seller, and pondering what sort of features I would want in such a bag. Carriers of handbags, satchels, purses, murses, or whatever you call it, what features have you found in an everyday carry bag that you loved? (I’m looking for more “average” size, not particularly small/large like wristlets or laptop bags.)

    1. Grits McGee*

      Small exterior pockets with minimal barriers to entry for low-value items that need to be accessed quickly (eg- handkerchiefs, masks, public transit card, etc). I also prefer bags with a large interior space- you can always create more sections, but if they’re built into the bag, it limits what you can carry.

      This may not be that useful for your purposes, but my favorite feature in the Ikea DROMSACK* bag I use all the time is how easily it converts from a backpack to a shoulder bag. But I spend a lot of time in museums and spaces where backpacks are banned, so it may not be that useful of a feature for your purposes.

      *Ironically, the DROMSACK does not have my favorite small-exterior-pockets feature; it has one large exterior pocket with a teeny velcro closure that doesn’t work, and it’s a hassle searching through it.

    2. HannahS*

      Able to convert to backpack. The single best bag I ever owned was one I made which, through clever design, could be worn either over-the-shoulder or as a backpack. Also: closes with a zipper. A bag wit a single snap closure instead of a zipper across the opening (or a flap) is so much easier to pick-pocket.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Handles/straps long enough to fit over my shoulder and leave my hands free even when I am wearing the bulkiest of winter coats.

      Sections and pockets inside so I can keep items separated. I do not want to have to use a flashlight to find my keys or my ponytail holder or a pen. At least one zippered section so it would take a pickpocket longer to get The Good Stuff.

      A way to close it, even if it’s just a snap. I want to be able to toss my purse onto the passenger seat when I get into the car and not have all the contents fall out.

      Little feet on the bottom so almost none of the purse touches the floor when I have to put it on the floor in a public restroom because nobody thought to put hooks on the door.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I carry a small plastic over-the-door hook in my purse for restroom stall doors that don’t have hooks.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I keep a Heroclip carabiner on mine – it has a hook that swivels out, so I can use it to hang my bag, or I can clip extra stuff on the outside of the bag if I need to. Super useful.

      2. Anono-me*

        Service station single person bathrooms tend to be the worst and also have a $200+ door closure mechanism with an arm that makes an adequate substitute for a $1 hook.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I love my nylon/polyester ripstop travel handbag so much that it’s now my all the time bag! It’s a local brand (i think) called high*way, and it’s black on the outside, sky blue on the inside, has 3 zippered pickets of varying sizes, a large pouch divided into two compartments in the back, and 3 smaller open pockets. It has an adjustable strap and is washable. My only caveat is that sometimes i lose stuff in it because i can’t remember which pocket i used! It’s sort of like Baggalini bags, if that helps.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      The correct number of pockets. Too many and you can’t remember the system; too few and you’re pawing through the same pile of stuff in the middle. Figure out what you would want easy to find in a pocket (glasses? Tylenol? band aids?) and include those. Maybe 1 or 2 extra for things you later discover would be helpful.

      I really appreciate my purse’s two separated key clips. One has my housekey and library card; one my car keys and gym card. Keys being the sine qua none of small heavy items that fall to the bottom.

    6. Redhaired runner*

      My favorite features from bags I’ve had over the years:
      -Large enough to carry at least small bottle of water/snacks
      -Cross body or convertible to cross body for fully hands free use
      -Zip up top or a secured flap on top for increased security of contents
      -Easy to clean/water resistant exterior

    7. Elizabeth West*

      A deep zippered inside pocket to corral my makeup and grooming items. I hate purses with a zipped inside pocket that isn’t big enough to hold anything. That’s the first thing I check in a purse I’m considering.

    8. EdgarAllanCat*

      Key hook. Long enough that I can’t hear the keys jangle while carrying bag.

  27. coffee is my friend*

    Deodorizing dog – I have a short haired mutt who gets pretty musty between baths in the summer (she loves rolling in the grass). I brush her and wash her bedding but I’m looking for a way to deodorize her a little. Recommendations? Is there anything that won’t also add a scent? I want her to be less musty not smell like roses

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Doggy wipes I think are intended for exactly that — I have some from Burts Bees that aren’t unscented, but they’re very lightly scented and the scent doesn’t last long. They’re basically like baby wipes for dogs.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Internet says bad idea, because of some of the ingredients used on baby wipes – dog wipes are made assuming that doggy will probably lick their fur after wipe is applied, but baby wipes don’t make that assumption because presumably babies aren’t that flexible.

          1. merp*

            I think the unscented ones that are just 99% water and nothing fancy would be safe (I use them for foster kittens sometimes on the shelter’s recommendation) but also they might not do much.

          2. rosyglasses*

            |because presumably babies aren’t that flexible.

            This made me snort giggle. Thank you for the funny mental picture!

      1. coffee is my friend*

        Good to know – I had looked at those but was wondering about the scent strength

    2. Not A Manager*

      I don’t have a dog, but my first thought was baking soda. I love it as a deodorizer in a variety of contexts, why not fur? I did a little google, and it looks like you can use baking soda in a wet or a dry application on animals.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      I use cleansing wipes on my Doberman. His skin is a bit sensitive, so we use an oatmeal/aloe wipe that has a mild scent. Unscented is also an option.

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          Right now, we’re using Earthbath’s oatmeal and aloe formula. It takes two wipes to wipe all 95 lbs. of him down. I also have a container of Mokai’s aloe and oatmeal that I haven’t used yet, but I like their packaging better. It’s a plastic wipe container instead of the wet wipes packaging. I feel like those wipes tend to dry out due to the packaging, so I wanted to try the Mokai.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We had a deodorizing spray for our dog, you just spritz it on before brushing, seemed to help.

        1. ThatGirl*

          It was TropiClean, though there were several brands at Petsmart that looked promising.

      1. One Two Three*

        I use a deodorizing spray for our dogs. I just ran out of the one I used to use, so I can’t tell you its name. I got it from Petsmart Grooming and it was in a purple bottle. When spraying, it has a colonge-type smell. The smell fades pretty quickly. I use this when she is really stinky.

        I also have a dog-safe wet wipe that I use. I use it to wipe down her eyes, ears, paw pads, and butt. I’m not 100% positive it’s the wet wipe, but I know when I keep up on my weekly grooming sessions she smells fresher longer. For what it’s worth, I also brush her fur, brush her teeth, clean the fur by her mouth, and put paw ointment on.

    5. VegetarianRaccoon*

      in between washings you can spritz her bedding with white vinegar to help deodorize, if that helps. The ‘vinegar’ smell will go away very quickly.

  28. Typing All The Time*

    Hi all. Due to work and other personal reasons, I’ve fallen behind on non-sanitary cleaning at home. I’ve been trying to better tackle it (shredding and recycling copy paper and publications and putting aside items for donating) but I haven’t made a significant dent. I’m starting to feel overwhelmed and I can’t afford to pay a cleaning service. Please help.

    1. Bibliovore*

      What has helped me.
      I have an accountability partner.
      I take a picture of the pile, the papers, the closet, or the countertop and send to them and say I will be dealing with this mess now. Then in an hour I send a picture with my progress.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      Can you break it down? Like once a week do a different part of the task. Or monthly or daily or whatever works for you. The more frequently you do it, the less time you would theoretically need. So for example if you need to declutter an office – pick a different drawer or shelf and just focus on that. You can spend 5 minutes a day, 30 min a week, 1 hour a month. Whatever you are able to fit in. Once you start doing that regularly it will get easier. I find breaking it down into sub tasks especially makes it easier to just it over with.

    3. S*

      I feel you. One thing that might help is trying to let go of the idea that you have to do everything all at once or in a proper order. That happens to me all the time where there’s so much to do that I feel like if I start something I have to finish it all and then don’t have the energy to do that so do nothing instead. One strategy you can look at is called junebugging, where you let go of trying to do things in an order or even finish one complete task, just moving between things that need to be done so something gets done. For example, I’ll sort the mail into piles of trash/shred/important for me/my partner. I’ll take the trash mail to the recycle bin in the kitchen. Then instead of dealing with the rest of the mail that requires a bit more thought I see something in the kitchen that needs to be donated so I’ll drop it in the donate box. If I’m feeling ambitious maybe I’ll put the box by the door to take to the car when I leave for work the next day, so maybe I’ll have time to drop it off on the way home. Trying to do little things a bit at a time rather than in one big chunk helps me out a lot, especially when it feels like there’s always something more important to do and I can’t block off a chunk of time to do the still-important but not immediately pressing stuff.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes, the perfect is the enemy of the good here!

        Sometimes I set the timer for 15 minutes and do what I can in that time. I count it as an accomplishment.

        1. Dino*

          I do this but set it for 10 minutes. I find that 10 minutes isn’t enough time, so I then feel good about pushing through “just a little bit more” until it’s done. I do it once a day and it really helps.

      2. One Two Three*

        Yes! I was coming to say something similar to this. I use the mantra “Progress Over Perfection” a lot. I don’t need to make the room, desk, drawer, or whatever perfect right now. I just need to take 20 min and make progress towards my goal.

        I also fell into the habit of thinking I needed to take everything to Goodwill, to the dump, or wherever at once. However, they are always open and taking more items! I reframed it as once I finish this round of purging I can take these items to their new destination. I’ll take the next batch another day.

    4. Virtual Light*

      I struggle with this! One thing that helped me see progress was making time or item goals per day or week. That way if I couldn’t see the progress immediately, I could still count it up and know it was happening.

      For example, last summer I committed to putting 7 items in the “free” box on my parking strip. It comforted me to know that I was 49 items lighter every week. Or committing to 15 minutes of going through papers and shredding per day. I knew that 2+ hours a week had to be getting me SOMEWHERE.

      Having three or four receptacles in a space with a timer was my other system when I was really overwhelmed. One for trash, one for recycle, one for donate, and one for put away. When receptacles got full or when I felt like it I would put the stuff where it went.

      The last thing that helped when it was really bad was putting little affirmations that I could see when my Forest app timer (complete with calming ocean sounds) was finished. Like: “You can take the next step without seeing the destination.” “Strength lies in trying, not succeeding.” “Imagine a future life without this stress.” “There is no perfection, but each step reduces anxiety.” I really needed a kind internal voice, and this helped more than I had thought it would.

      I’m rooting for you! I wonder if we could do an accountability thread here to share goals and cheer progress, as per Bibliovore’s suggestion above?

    5. Girasol*

      I shred with a good movie rerun, since the shredder can’t run long without overheating and I have to shred in spurts. As for donating, I have a donation box or bag, and when I see a thing that’s unused and cluttering, I grab it and toss it in, rather than searching the house for donations all in one big effort. I do cleaning in small bites.

    6. fposte*

      I like using a system; for me it’s the app Home Routines, but UFYH and FlyLady also seem to be popular.

      Some of this will depend on your location, your habits, and your budget. But it sounds like you may be getting bogged down in longer-term projects that don’t give much reward along the way. Can you drop off the items you’ve already identified for donation now and get them out of the house rather than waiting until that task is ostensibly done? Can you do the same with the shreddable paper? When you look around, what items that need attention are taking up the largest part of the visual field? If it’s not paper, maybe move that farther down the priority list.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Start in a corner. Set a timer. When the timer rings you can stop. (Or keep going, but “just 10 minutes” in multiple iterations can slowly get you there–especially if your brain tries to spend 4 hours explaining how the cleaning can’t start now, the conditions aren’t optimal.) Go clockwise around the room until it’s done, then hit another room.

      I did this for my parents’ apartment when my dad started hospice, and my mom was able to maintain it–it wasn’t hoarding but being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start and so not starting.

    8. Ranon*

      If the struggle is mostly clutter you might like Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K White, she has a lot of strategies for slow and steady solutions that don’t make anything worse as a middle step

      1. MJ*

        I love Dana. She has a blog – aslobcomesclean.com – and if you start at the beginning she explains how she learned to “deslobify”. Her concept of starting with the most visible space and putting things where they go immediately (instead of creating piles to put away later) really spoke to me.

        The usual decluttering method of pull everything out, sort it and put it all away never really worked for my brain.

    9. North Wind*

      I suggest setting a timer for 20 minutes a day, or three times a week, or along those lines to tackle this.

      Maybe your first 20 minutes session is just writing a list of things to do, and subsequent sessions you can just choose something from the list to start on.

      I actually have time to do cleaning/physical life admin chores around the house, but I am acutely uncomfortable doing so, and I don’t know why. I pay attention to how I’m feeling when I’m doing it and all I can come up with is anxious and stressed and uncomfortable and bad. Sometimes when I set a timer, I may actually be watching the timer just waiting for it to go off and hating every minute, but I can do it with a time limit. Other times, I find I get really quite into what I’m doing and may end up going a lot longer than 20 minutes – I just needed help getting started.

      On the other hand, I can get so into my work (career work) that I forget to eat and hours fly by without me realizing it. So when I’m hating doing housework I don’t allow any negative self-talk like I’m just lazy or anything like that. I think about it in as neutral terms as possible – some things come naturally and some don’t, but I still have to do some of the things that don’t come naturally. I just make it as painless as possible.

    10. Lady Danbury*

      I recently read somewhere (might have been here?) to make at least one thing shiny every day. It can be as small as wiping off a counter or as large as cleaning out/organizing the fridge, but tackling just one thing allows me to feel a sense of accomplishment/see tangible results and I sometimes (not always, lol) end up doing more than I had originally intended because I’ve already started.

      Maybe you can figure out a similar approach for the tasks that you need to do? Challenge yourself to complete one small task every day/week/whatever.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Having a designated area or container for things has been a huge help to me.

      I have a little recycling area near my washer. Clothes and other items for donation go into a clean trash bag in my bedroom. I have a basket to throw papers into for shredding.

      I also put things in my car for the next time I go out. For example, a full bag of donations will get put on the front seat of my car and I stop at the donation box on the way to work. A couple years ago I did a major sorting for my clothes. I filled 7 kitchen bags. But each Monday I took what I had culled and donated it. So the 7 bags went piecemeal, not all at once. I did the same with recycling before they started making us pay to recycle. Now I wait until I have a car load because of costs.

      Shredding I try to stay on top of for security reasons. I was surprised to see that this means I only really need to shred every few weeks. Once a year when I clean up my records in the course of doing taxes, then I will have a big pile to shred but that is just one time per year.

      Punchline, find stuff that can be removed and just get rid of that part. I went through a stack of papers the other day and just pulled out all the newspapers. I brought the newspapers with the rest of my recycling and got rid of it. If you keep the tasks short, but keep doing it, you will gain ground.

  29. Bibliovore*

    Help for internment plan.
    Recap- Mr. Bibliovore died suddenly a year ago.
    I am doing as well as can be expected. We were married over 30 years. I have a grief counselor that I see every other week, a grief group that meets on zoom twice a month, a circle of supportive friends.
    He was cremated. I bought a place at a historic cemetery that he liked for its gardens and architecture.
    It is time for the internment.
    I don’t know what to do or “what is done”
    I am culturally Jewish, but not religious or affiliated.
    It is outdoors so I don’t have as many COVID concerns.
    Googling hasn’t been very helpful.
    The grief counselor just doesn’t want me to do this alone but I don’t seem to understand the “how”
    Can I just pick a date, call a few people and if they can be there, then they are there?
    Is it like the funeral where I make an announcement on facebook? (that seems a bit much)
    Do I feed people?
    Do I have to say anything?
    I feel so weary and so sad and so overwhelmed.
    When I talk to my family they have been giving me dates that they can fly in. (I am not sure that’s what I want either.)
    I would appreciate some good orderly direction.
    Thoughts?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      This is what we did when we buried my mom and then my father a few years later (they were in an urn): we picked a date that worked for my brothers and me, invited the closest family (aunts and cousins mainly) and met there. Whoever wanted or needed to be there made it work for them. My dad made a speech for my mom (and maybe other people) and one of my brothers made a speech about my dad. After burying my mom, my dad invited people back to the house – I think because he needed/wanted it. I can’t remember what we did with my dad. I think it’s mainly about what people feel the need to do. And yeah, I don’t think doing the internment alone is a good idea.
      If inviting people back for drinks or food seems like too much, don’t invite them. If making a speech feels like too much, don’t make a speech. But being together to bury him is good.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’ve helped relatives plan several funerals. It’s—I’m very sorry to make this comparison—similar to planning a wedding. I would call on those folks who have been asking you what they can do to help and ask them to help with logistics. Where I’m from (very WASPy midwest) people do expect to be fed after a memorial service. I’ve seen everything from nicer catered affairs to potlucks in the church basement, organized by the church ladies.

      I think it’s perfectly appropriate for you to pick a date that works for you and then spread the word. You can send a mass email and/or announce on Facebook.

    3. Summer Pumpkin*

      I don’t have any suggestions but wanted to say I’m so sorry for your loss.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I strongly recommend marking the event in a meaningful way. The placement or processing of remains is ritualized in almost every culture because it addresses the survivors’ emotional needs. Whether you are religious or not, the placement of remains marks a passage of the body; it marks a movement of the person’s spirit – whatever that means to you – from being in this world to being in another place (including resting in your own memory); it marks your own journey of relinquishing your hold on the person in this world and allowing him to reside in your own heart.

      I think that those of us who have moved away from strict religious or cultural observance do ourselves a disservice in treating these major life cycle events in a casual manner. I understand why being weary and sad would make you not want to lean into the ritual of interment. From my own experience, though, I think that you will be weary and sad no matter how you manage this one event, and I think you might find more comfort – or at least more forward movement – if you can make room for your family and friends to support you for it. And it might also be helpful for them.

      The following is how I would do this myself if I were you. There is not any right way, and none of this is prescribed by some kind of social requirement. You should do whatever makes sense for you, but since you asked for thoughts this is what I would do:

      I would not do a general announcement on Facebook or anywhere else. Memorial services or delayed interments can be small, invitation-only affairs. I would schedule the event for when some or most of your family can be there in person, if they are truly offering and if you generally are okay with them. I would invite members of your community who knew your husband and have been supportive to you.

      I would have an actual ceremony; it can be small and informal, but I would have something planned. You can plan it yourself if you want to, by choosing a few readings or prayers, by placing flowers or planting a shrub, by inviting certain people to speak, OR you can hand this off to someone else. If there’s a trusted friend or relative, you can ask them to put together a ceremony and run it past you for small tweaks. I absolutely would not try to “lead” the ceremony myself. Do deputize either a secular-minded clergy member, or a friend or relative to be the MC.

      I don’t know about other traditions, but the Jewish tradition would absolutely include a gathering after the ceremony. I sounds like you are not comfortable with inside events at this time, so I would look into any venue that can give you a separate outdoor space with some light catering, say on a buffet table. This event is a time when people will want to share their memories, so I would provide an opportunity for a few people to share prepared remarks at the interment, and then possibly some time at the later gathering for people to speak impromptu if they want to.

      You do not have to be the host. You don’t have to mingle, or entertain people, or speak at all. When it’s time to wrap up, you can deputize someone to thank everyone on your behalf and send them home. If you’re comfortable sharing an indoor space with anyone, you might think about allowing one person to stay overnight with you.

      I know I made this sound like a fairly large event, but even if you don’t let people fly in, and you only have a few other people with you, I would still do the same things I listed above – have someone read something, have someone say something, leave a token, have a meal. These are important human connections for an important life cycle event.

      As always, my thoughts are with you.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Came here to say this, but lack your eloquence, Not A Manager! Keeping it simple and deputizing someone to wrangle folks (i think your brother has been very helpful?) will make this less fraught, tho it is still exhausting. After the interment of my dad, we went out with a select few to a cafe he especially liked and ate outside on the patio. This was pre COVID, but just a thought. We left a trusted friend at home as is traditional and brought her a sammy from the cafe.

        My thoughts continue to be with you too.

      2. WellRed*

        Yes to all this. My dad’s ceremony was traditional and a bit formal, followed by a fun reception at a favorite neighborhood restaurant (we provided food, but not open bar). For my too young brother in Covid times, we met outside at his shop, my friend read a poem, I spoke briefly, we invited others to share a memory, people milled and caught up, and we did a “last ride” for my car/bike loving brother. Literally strapped his box on a dear friends bike and did a 20 minute loop through the old neighborhood. A total blast. After, I had lunch with my friends, my mom did the same and his friends all gathered at a house for a cookout (I sent money to help cover). I’m still pleased with the whole thing and it honored him and gave us all some peace.

      3. bibliovore*

        oh, this was exactly what I needed to hear. His memorial was on zoom and I have regretted not saying something. (I was bereft so I physically couldn’t say anything) I barely remember it. And yes, I will be sad anyway.
        There is an outdoor space near his spot and I envision that we could have box lunches and those would be easy enough.
        Yes, his cousin could stay with me and she is the super-organized person.

          1. Not A Manager*

            Bibliovore, that’s a lovely and peaceful spot. Whatever you do, your husband will rest in your heart and memory. I’m glad that his remains will be in a place that was meaningful and beautiful to him.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Can I just pick a date, call a few people and if they can be there, then they are there?

      This seems to match the level you have in mind. This could be anywhere from two people install the ashes, stand quietly for a bit, and go home, to a handful of close people gather and then do some sort of ritual sharing of food–going to your husband’s favorite ice cream stand, for example. Basically you can do what you want, and it sounds like you want a small and low-key thing. (Vs a big gathering or solo moment.)

      It can help to have a bit of a program, e.g. Sam will sing that song your husband liked, and Chris will share a memory, and other people can chime in to share their memories. You can arrange this if my “Sam and Chris” immediately suggests someone, or ask a trusted close friend/family member to be the person who orchestrates a low-key gathering and sharing of memories.

    6. fueled by coffee*

      Judaism has a tradition called an “unveiling” to be done a year-ish after a death (so-called because when this is happening in a cemetery, you quite literally take a veil off of the gravestone. If there will be some sort of placard where he is interred, you could place a piece of cloth over it and remove it – but again, this is just symbolic). It’s customary for someone to share words about the deceased, and perhaps say Kaddish (if you’re not religious in that way, maybe substitute with a poem or similar reading?). It’s not a long ceremony, and more of an opportunity to share memories of the deceased when the grief is not quite so raw, though of course it still hurts.

      I would suggest inviting some friends and family (yes, just call and ask, or send an email), and when you get an RSVP, asking if any of them would like to say a few words. You can speak, too, if you’d like, but at my grandparents’ unveilings the surviving spouses and children delegated the speech-giving to grandchildren and friends — it just depends on your comfort with this kind of public speaking and whether you would find speaking to be comforting or an added stressor.

    7. Flash Packet*

      When my next-door neighbor (Cal) died, his family — which included an adult daughter who was living with him and who inherited the house — held a little gathering / ceremony in the front yard and each family member took turns scooping some of his ashes into a flower garden where his wife’s ashes had been sprinkled / tilled into the soil years earlier.

      He had been in the Marines in WWII, so a bugler and a flag-giver (?) showed up to play Taps and to offer an American flag to the family.

      But if that little bit of formal ceremony hadn’t happened, we would have just folded the ashes into the soil then retired to the backyard to drink tea and beer, and to tell stories about Cal. We eventually ordered some pizza to be delivered. It was very low-key.

      So, yes, pick a date and invite the people who you would like to be there with you. Tell them you would like for them to be there. If the date really, really doesn’t work for them, then move it.

      Afterward, maybe head to a restaurant with outdoor seating. If relatives fly in and they’re staying at a hotel with a quiet pool area, that could be an option, too. The location doesn’t really matter, it’s just a venue for you to decompress after this big thing instead of heading home and sitting alone with your thoughts and feelings.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Lots of thoughtful advice here.
      My contribution: don’t make a public announcement on Facebook. Thieves use that info to time a break-in.
      You could have just a few very close people with you for the internment, then have a bigger “celebration of life” later when Covid isn’t as bad. Although, in my family, the extended family was uninterested in getting together again after grandma’s funeral but maybe that’s just my family…
      My Deepest Condolences and Sincerest Wishes for Healing.

    9. WellRed*

      You can do whatever you want, including change your mind at the last minute if you thought you’d speak and then can’t. What would honor him? Do you want to break bread with people after? Can someone do a reading? Do you want music? What can you handle and how can you best honor him? If he, oh, loves The Rolling Stones and seafood, have a lobster bake and play the stones.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I assume you have the ashes?
      If the ashes are still at the funeral home, that is an easy out- tell the funeral home you’d like to arrange a burial with a simple service.
      If you have the ashes you could still call and ask if you can set something up.
      They can call the cemetery to find out where the plot is.

      If you prefer you can call the cemetery directly and make arraignments for burial with a simple service. But here, I think you would end up being involved in creating a service of some type.

      I have done a couple of burials where I did not bother announcing the burial broadly. I notified a couple of well-chosen people and they came. (I knew they would come.)
      Since I had people who I needed to see there with me, I worked to accommodate their times as best I could. But this was just a couple people. Not very many people at all. I let them know right away that it would just be a few of us. That way they knew what to expect. It’s good to let people know what to expect. But you set it up the way you want.

      At my husband’s burial, we each took a flower and set it on the casket. This kind of gave each person a chance to say their own private (quiet) good bye, as each person went to the casket with just their partner or relative. I really appreciated the simplicity of the gesture with the flower.

      OP, this is one of the times in life where we can just pay people to help us. Because this is a life event. So if you need to pay someone to prepare food, or you need to pay a restaurant to prepare and serve food, then just do it.
      After my father’s funeral, we went to a nearby restaurant that was an old mill. The mill’s working parts were still in place. Because the building was so interesting, it served as a distraction and a conversation opener for people.

      If you need to pay someone to provide a short service, even if it’s secular in nature, then go for it. As you are saying here, some things are just too hard to do alone and the extra work is unthinkable.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I have the ashes in a special container at home. The cemetery does the internment- I will need to give them the date.
        Yes, I will ask other people to be in charge of things.
        I appreciate the time you have spent laying this all out for me.
        It feels less overwhelming.

        1. beentheredonethat*

          My Father was a minister. I realize you said you culturally Jewish. However the nearest rabbi would probably helpful. They generally help you get what you need and want. And they have done this hundreds of times before.

    11. Susie*

      We buried my dad over a year after his passing because he was buried in his hometown several states away. My brother was deployed when my dad passed, and while he was able to return for the funeral, we couldn’t do the burial at the same time.
      We had a grave site service then had a potluck picnic in his favorite place in his hometown. All my siblings, many of my cousins and most of my aunts and uncles on both my mom and dads sides came.
      My mom wanted this to be a time for close family to share memories, but I was still too much of a mess even so much time later. But a few people shared and I loved hearing the stories.
      We ended up spending the week with extended family and that ended up being the most special time and some of my favorite memories—being able to reinforce some of these relationships.
      I didn’t organize much-just getting my little family to the town. But I think most of my aunts and uncles did the organizing, so is there someone who you can deputize to do some of the planning once you have a better sense of what you want. I will say my dads passing was very expected and given the length of his decline, was a bit of a relief. So I don’t know how I would have felt if his passing was unexpected, but I hope you find a way to mark this event that allows you to feel supported.

    12. Bluebell*

      I echo all of the “do what feels right for you” comments. If by any chance you have Hulu, the Amy Schumer series Life and Beth has her character doing a “do over” of her mother’s funeral in the last episode. It’s rather sweet.

  30. Courageous cat*

    I just recently got a macbook, anyone find the collapse/expand all option doesn’t work well on Macs (Chrome)? I have to hit it like 20 times for it to actually collapse all and it doesn’t seem to save the setting. If not, just an FYI.

    1. Kid Delicious*

      I’m on Chrome on a PC but it’s funky for me as well. Also subscribing to comments via RSS brings up like the xml version of the site or something, but definitely does not subscribe me to updates.

      1. rss*

        That’s the RSS feed. You need to use a browser that recognizes RSS. It won’t subscribe to email updates though, that’s not what RSS is.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      On my MacBook, this site renders well for me on Safari. I also use the Brave browser (Chromium-based privacy browser) on my Mac that works well with this site. I wouldn’t use Chrome at all on my Mac without an ad-blocker of some sort because I swear gremlins are living inside Chrome.