weekend open thread – August 13-14, 2022

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Boys, by Katie Hafner. At the start of this book, the father of two boys receives a letter from a bike touring company, politely asking that he never use their service again. What follows is … a love story? A story of loneliness, connection, family, and grief. It is beautiful in ways that you don’t see coming, and I loved it.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,097 comments… read them below }

  1. decluttering*

    Tips on decluttering? I am suddenly itching to clean out closets, drawers and the house in general. I’ve tackled the low hanging fruit (clothes from 10+ years ago and things I don’t even remember acquiring) and now I have to do the rest. Not a big Konmari method fan. What are your best decluttering tips?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do one section/area at a time. Make 3 piles: keep, donate, trash. Have a trash bag handy and bag or box for donations. Empty your drawer or closet and put everything in one of those piles. Once you have all of your keeps for an area, clean the empty spot (dust or vacuum or whatever). Put it back in a more organized fashion. If you think you might need an organizer or containers, make a note of that.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Yep, I just went through half of my house de-cluttering and this is pretty much how I did it. Focusing on one small chunk at a time is super important for me, otherwise I get overwhelmed and it doesn’t get done.

      2. Jay*

        This. And don’t buy the containers or other organizing items until you know exactly what you need to store and in what space. I love me some organizing gadgets, and I’ve wasted a lot of money over the years buying them before I knew for sure what I needed.

    2. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I get overwhelmed by looking at piles of stuff, so I’ve had better luck with going away and writing down lists of things I want to get rid of and how, and then I can almost treat that as if it were a packing list for a trip. Helps me focus a lot better.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Visible clutter consists of things you use regularly and can’t put away because your storage areas are full or difficult to use.

      Start by decluttering the things stuffed in the backs of cabinets, closets,and drawers. They will be the things you haven’t used in a long time and probably don’t need anymore.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Decluttering cabinets has been super helpful. Then you can take the time carefully selecting what other items will go into the freed up space. It works into a two-fer. The cabinet is cleaned and some clutter now has an actual home.

    4. Aphrodite*

      Go slow. Don’t try to do a lot. Start with a small space like a drawer or your car. And you might want to go t BECOMING MINIMALIST. Joshua Becker is a well known minimalist and both his blog and his videos are well worth watching for practical tips and techniques

      1. Girasol*

        If you’re not ready to go whole hog minimalist, find a closet or garage corner to store donations to the second hand store for a few months. Then clear out ruthlessly knowing that you could rescue something from the corner later if you decide that you couldn’t do without it after all. That helps me to whiz through a really deep de-cluttering without feeling ambivalent about my decisions. When I go to the second hand corner later I’m a lot more comfortable with giving it all away.

      2. Bob-White of the Glen*

        Agree with this. Joshua has a 12 (?) week FB course that motivates you to do one section at a time. Got my upstairs done the first round. You can continue to retake the course as many times as you want for free, but you will remain in your FB class unless you sign up and pay for the new one. Of course over time there are a lot less posts in your FB course.

        The messes people have cleared and posted are inspirational, and you can build accountability for yourself by making a schedule of when you will post an update.

        I like the (first) course because it overcame some of my ADD having to do some specific tasks, but I could also skip the ones that weren’t so pertinent to me. Accountability is pretty much the only reason I would pay for something like this. Next time I want to do it with a friend so we have accountability to each other two.

        Good luck!

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

      When I actually inventoried my home (except consumables; i didn’t inventory the food or toiletries)…wrote it ALL down, it helped me really understand what I had and helped me make decisions about stuff. It’s a pretty extreme thing to do, but I continue to keep my inventory updated so I always know what I have and where. Then I could make decisions…why do I have 5 throw blankets for one person? Do I really need 8 mugs? I have very little now that I truly just store and don’t use. I could definitely still get rid of some more stuff, but my biggest hoard was craft/sewing supplies and fabric. I had to let go of projects I was going to do “some day” and toss scraps that really weren’t big enough to be useful.

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

        Came back to say the method of pulling stuff out and sorting into piles just makes me mentally exhausted and creates a mess that may linger for months until I just put it all back in frustration; so writing an inventory, without pulling everything out, really helped keep me focused on my task and able to live in an organized home. I could see on paper that I had too many blankets without getting distracted by the actual blankets…this one my sister quilted for me…that one I picked up on my road trip through Colorado…and then I’m down a rabbit hole instead of seeing facing the problem.

        But you could make smaller inventories of just your biggest clutter areas. If the problem is too many books, writing a smaller inventory might just trigger you to realize which books you really want, especially if you find you don’t even want to write it down; have 90% sci-fi books and 3 romance…maybe get rid of all the romance books. This might even help with the one in one out method of declutter…you don’t have to stare at the shelves wondering which one to purge.

    6. Atomic Tangerine*

      Moving is an excellent way to suddenly turn a ruthless eye on all that extra stuff. May be a bit drastic tho.

      1. anon24*

        When I was preparing for my multi-state move it finally got me in the headspace to get rid of some things that I knew I didn’t need anymore but just couldn’t get rid of. In the months before moving I slowly went through every closet and cabinet in my home and looked at everything I owned with the thought “Am I willing to pay money to move this hundreds of miles?”

        Even if you aren’t moving, it’s not a bad mindset for decluttering.

        1. Berry*

          Kind of similar, but I’ve heard of the suggestion to ask yourself, “If my house burned down, would I buy this again?” It helps me think of why I’m keeping something. Am I only keeping it because it’s sentimental, I feel guilty getting rid of it, or I’m thinking I should keep it because I might need it again someday? Or is it something I actually need and am currently using, and value enough that I’d buy it again?

        2. Moving House Sucks*

          Oh my goodness, yes! We are in the midst of packing up our house of 25 years (where we reared our family) to move a state over to our new home. There is so much stuff we forgot we have. My late MIL was famous for giving us stuff that she couldn’t bear to toss or donate herself. I tried to toss the trash and donate useable stuff as she gave it to us, but over the years, it’s piled up. Our new place about half the size, so no more storing crap just because.

          I like the idea of sorting small areas one at a time….shoulda done that years ago and we wouldn’t be in this pickle now.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh god yes. I got rid of SO MUCH STUFF.

        Since I don’t know where I’m going, I was a lot more ruthless than I would have been if I’d had some idea of square footage, etc. Anything I can buy again when I get there, like cleaning supplies, etc., got trashed or I left it for the new homeowner. I donated a lot to the Council for the Blind thrift store—no junk, all stuff that was in good condition. The junk and anything that needed fixing or was dirty went into the trash bin.

        I still have too much, I think, but you get to a point at the end of packing where you just toss it in and decide you’ll declutter more when you get there.

    7. tab*

      I joined a “Buy Nothing my city ” Facebook Group. I post pictures of things I would donate, and members respond if they can use them. I find it extremely satisfying to give my unused items to someone who really can use them. I highly recommend it.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I did this when I decluttered my basement over the winter, and it was great! It was really nice knowing that things were going to people who would use them. Even things I was skeptical anyone would want were gone quickly. Highly recommend p!

      2. BookMom*

        Agreed! Buy Nothing is perfect for items that feel too “niche” to just donate to a thrift store. Or for cleaning or personal care products half used that I don’t like but feel bad throwing out because they’re “perfectly good.” I also recommend Peter Walsh’s book “It’s All Too Much.” It changed my relationship to “stuff” for the better.

      3. Susie*

        I did a big declutter day recently and posted on Buy Nothing that I had a table set outside the house and a general idea of the types of things going out. 90% of the stuff was gone by the end of the day and I didn’t have to deal with the logistics of arranging pick ups.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Or if you live on a busy street like I do, just put stuff on the curb and watch it vanish!

          1. Kittee*

            Yes! We live on a very busy street too. Works every time. I even put out magazines I’ve already read rather than recycling them. Someone always takes them.

    8. Bread Addict*

      I found watching videos on youtube of people decluttering helped me stay in the right mindset. Living with Cambriea’s horders series where she helps low level hoarders to declutter and get control of their homes (for free) was really good. But there are lots of declutter with me videos online.

      Go slow, do one room/area at a time. Dont overwhelm yourself.

      And I found it helpful as well to think about my future. I did it before my move last April but it was genuinely just is this something I will NEED in the new flat? I only have so much space is this really what I want to use it on? But you can do the same thing basically. Just ask if something is what you will need/want in the future. Is it a necessity (like scissors, food, etc.) And if not, is it something you need that will enrich or improve your life by being in it? Not like a groundbreaking improvement but like life is better when you wear clothes that fit comfortably. Or make you feel good.

    9. AlliterativeApple*

      Resist all temptation to make a “maybe” pile/box/crate/whatever. Most things will just end up in the maybe pile that way. As soon as you come across/pick up an item, make the decision then whether to keep, throw or donate. If you can’t quickly decide whether to keep it or not, it’s more than likely not that important so it can be thrown or donated. This is especially true for smaller/cheaper items that are easily re-purchased if you find you do need them at a later date.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My Maybe box lived in the garage. When I moved, most of it ended up in the trash or getting donated. But yeah, it’s easy to fill up the garage or storage space with maybes.

      2. Shuvon (Wakeen's sister)*

        Yes! I just saw a YouTube video (with Christina Mychas and Tidy Moose) where the organizer had the person sort their clothes into Yes/Keep, Maybe, No/Toss/Give Away. She then said, “I fooled you! There is no Maybe pile. Everything in Maybe is really a No.” Much like the saying, if it’s not hell yes, then it’s no. This has helped me.

    10. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I used to teach a class for the public library on this. Best online sources: the minimalists and project 333; my method for me is a mashup of those.

      My “method” for keeping up the decluttering:
      Decide how much space you have for x, if you get more x, something has to go.

      I have a shelf for books, if it fills up, and I get another book, another book has to go.

      I have about 60 hangers and I hang most of my clothes. If I get something new, something there has to go.

      It keeps me from buying things bc I know something else has to go, I really want something if I buy it more than I want what I already have.

      Tips to help let things go of items so you can follow the space method:
      1. I really do use Marie kondo’s thing to say thank you for your service when I discarded. I thought it was ridiculous but it helped me get over the, “but I paid a lot for that” or the “but x person gave me that” thing.
      2. I also used her idea to go by categories and pull all the books or clothes, or whatever from the whole house into one space and then discard. It was amazing how much I had!
      3. I used the project 333 idea to put things in boxes to shop from later. To the piles to trash, donate, and keep, I added a pile to put away and look at in 2 months. I found it showed me I did not really care about lots of things that I had trouble letting go of during the initial decluttering.
      4. I used the stories on the minimalists page for inspiration; their stories about how they got started. And I used their “rules” to help me decluttering. I’m a use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without gal. Which is akin to hoarding.
      -90/90 rule (have you or do you know you will use it in 90 days?
      -20/20 rule (can you get it in less than 20 minutes and for less than $20?)

      That’s all a lot!
      But it works for me. I hope it helps someone else.

      1. Jackalope*

        I really like the idea of a “look at it in 2 months” pile. Of course, I might have problems with actually getting back to it, but if I could get it into my semi-regular cleaning schedule that would be great.

    11. Ann Ominous*

      Removing everything from a drawer/space and then deciding what you want in that space. Not “how do I want to re-organize the stuff and return all but trash/things that go in another room to that space” but rather “what’s my vision for this drawer next to the sink?” – for me, I often end up just rearranging stuff if I don’t take this method, and the same issue just comes up right back again soon (disorganization or drawers overflowing)

      Also, never take out more than you can put back in an hour (I think that’s from FLYlady.com or .net).

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        FLYlady was a huge help for my mom and siblings when I was a kid. It’s nice to see her methods still around. When I was first looking for advice for coping with ADHD, I was amazed how much advice was stuff FLYlady recommended over a decade ago!

    12. Berry*

      I like Dana K. White’s book, Decluttering at the Speed of Life. My two favorite tips are:

      1) Container concept: If you have a collection of something, only keep what you can fit into a chosen container (a “container” could be a closet, a shelf, a shoebox, a drawer, etc…just a space designated for that specific collection). If you have way too many socks, you could decide to only keep the ones that fit in a single drawer. If you have books all over the place, you might only keep what can fit in your bookcase. If you have too many mugs, you might only keep what you can fit on a small shelf in the kitchen.

      2) When you’re going through your belongings, you should only touch each item once. Everything must either go where it belongs, into the donation pile, or into a trash bag. No “maybe pile” or “keep pile” because then you end up with piles that sit around and then you’re going to have to deal with them again later. If an item doesn’t have a home/place where it belongs, you probably don’t need it.

      1. Pumpernickel Princess*

        I also came here to recommend Dana! Her container concept was a big one for me. I also appreciate her realistic approach to decluttering with a family, time constraints, brain stuff, etc. And I love her sense of humor! There are lots of places to find her (books, YouTube channel, blog, podcasts); I like her YouTube videos the best because of her sense of humor. Her website with links to all of the above is called A Slob Comes Clean.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Ooh, thanks for suggesting her! I’ve never seen the container method, I call it the space rule. I’m going to read what she says.

        I’ve found that to be one of the most helpful things.

      3. fposte*

        I’ll add to the container rule–one way to trim a category down is to decide it goes in a smaller container. If I want to get rid of that beat-up particle board bookcase, I have to get rid of x linear feet of books to fit them into the other book spaces. Maybe instead of two baskets of papers to be filed I go down to one. Etc.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        The container thing worked for my miniatures. Granted, it’s a very big container, hahahaha. But I was super proud of myself that I got it all in ONE tub. I only kept three dolls houses.

        1. Minis*

          Gosh I would love to know what to do with miniatures. I’ve inherited them from a relative who was big into them, had several dollhouses, numerous room boxes, and hundreds if not thousands of high-end miniatures. They are too good to just go to Goodwill. I can’t figure out how to deal with them, it would take years to list them all on a place like ebay, not to mention it’s not my wheelhouse so I would have to research each artisan to list them properly. The one dollhouse place in our area closed years ago, so it’s not possible to sell to them any more. Ideas????

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

            Sell as a lot instead of each piece. If there is an auction house near you, they might be able to help price and sell the collection as 1, 2 or 3 lots.

          2. Bob-White of the Glen*

            I gave my to my local Humane Society thrift store, along with old bone china. They were able to see it all and made $1,200 off it via their ebay store. After selling they sent me a donation receipt for that amount. Might be worth seeing if an org you believe in have a way to sell in-demand donations online.

      5. CJ*

        I love her podcast too! The Container Concept is so good. And ‘Where would I look for this first’ (instead of ‘where should this go’) has been really helpful for me in terms of putting things away and being able to remember where. Also the Donatable Donate Box – the box or bag should be one you don’t want to keep so you can just take the whole thing to the thrift shop.

    13. Hotdog not dog*

      As a person who is currently in the midst of clearing out not one but two homes for relatives who passed away with seemingly every item they ever owned “saved for later”, please know that decluttering early and often is a great kindness to posterity. My husband and I have decided that as soon as we’re done with the relatives, we’re going to launch our own decluttering mission.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, this is a hard one. When my dad passed, I looked around his house and I wanted everything, and nothing. Most of his things were items he bought at thrift stores, but some of it was older stuff I remembered from childhood. I think you always want to keep people’s things with you because it keeps them with you. I see this on hoarding shows a lot, where someone loses a partner or family member and they can’t let go of their stuff.

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        This. So much. After going through my in-law’s house after they passed, I now look at things and think, “Do I want my children to deal with getting rid of this when I am dead?” It helps clarify a lot of things.
        I once heard someone on The Minimalist podcast say, “The stuff is not your parent’s legacy, you are.” And that really resonates with me.
        My parents downsized to two bedroom condo a couple of years ago and told me that I don’t need to keep any of their stuff when they die. It was a huge gift.

    14. MissElizaTudor*

      If you have trouble letting go of things for sentimental reasons (that’s a huge stumbling block for me), one thing I’ve found useful is taking a picture of the things I have feelings about before putting them in the donate or trash piles.

      There were a lot of clothes I was holding on to because of sentiment, and the picture taking let me give them away because I knew I could still get reminded of good times by the pictures. And you know what? It turns out I literally never look at those pictures, just like I never really looked at the clothes, but the pictures on my phone take up much less space in my apartment than the clothes did.

      1. PaulaMomOfTwo*

        This absolutely. Really helped me get rid of things of sentimental value, like clothes I made that no longer fit or the kids old things. So I have a ton of random pics from my clean out efforts, and am no longer verging toward horder level clutter.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I have one lower dresser drawer of sentimental clothing (my favorite dress from my daughter when she was a toddler, favorite little easter suit that my son wore when he was toddler, an old tshirt nightgown that my dad and stepmom bought me when I was single with the graphic “I don’t do mornings” that I ended up wearing at 6am breakfast cookings as a young wife and mother, and one pair of jeans in a size I know I’ll never see again . . . ) I allow myself that one drawer, and it’s not even full

    15. Blarg*

      Put stuff you aren’t sure about away. In a box or a bag in a closet, etc. If after six months you haven’t touched it … get rid of it without reopening.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        This! Packing away and then donating gave me the emotional space I needed to let go. And it satisfied the practical side of me that worried about cost, what if I need it later!?

        Guess what, a few times I did need it later but that problem is so much less stressful than keeping and managing tons of stuff “just in case.”

      2. Berry*

        This works well for me with things that are part of my everyday life in some way. Like, I had some action figures that had been displayed on my bookcases for years. At some point I realized I’d “outgrown them” and didn’t really enjoy them anymore and they felt like clutter, but I felt bad about letting go of them because I’d had them for so long. After I put them in a box and didn’t look at them for a few months, I didn’t feel as much attachment to them.

    16. Russian in Texas*

      I sometimes basically get in to the decluttering mood and attack a specific closet/cabinet/what have you.
      Unfortunately, I also live with a “clutterrer” who does not like to get rid of stuff. Not a hoarder, all the stuff is technically not trash, but throwing stuff away is not something he likes. And he lives gadgets. Small kitchen gadgets. Office gadgets. Tech gadgets. So we have a rule now that if one of us buys a thing, there is must be a place for it, it cannot live on a counter or a desk, or anywhere visible.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      I took the one year rule and expanded it to two years. If I haven’t used it in two years I probably do not need it.

      On the other side of the coin, for every one item I bought, I made myself pick out two items to get rid of. This really slowed down my buying habits.

      For parting with things:
      Giving something to a friend who will actually use it can make you feel good about decluttering. I have a dedicated area that I keep things to mention or bring to friends.

      I have sold some clutter and rolled that money into fixing things I actually want to keep. So in a way, I have turned what I don’t want/need into something I do want/need.

      Repurposing. If I see an item that I would like to buy, I make myself check around the house to see what I have that could work instead. I saw a lovely chest of drawers for sewing notions. Then I realized I had an old wooden tool box with many drawers. I use that to store my sewing stuff. I had a wrought iron stand made for it- and it works great for me. And I love it because of personal history with the tool box.

      Anything broken and can’t be repaired goes out the door. Anything that costs more to repair than the item is worth goes out the door. Anything that needs constant tinkering to get it to work correctly goes out the door. This stuff is dead weight in life- get rid of it or pass it to someone who can and will fix it.

      I read where we can comfortably get rid of 1/3 of what we have and not even really notice the items are gone. The article said even those in a studio apartment can do this.

      Don’t hold on to things because of family obligations. Do not turn your home into a museum in tribute to your family with things that make you feel sad, things you do not use and def get rid of the things you just don’t like. Set it free to be owned by someone who likes it.

      I live in a small rural community. If I put something out by the road with a free sign it’s usually gone within 24 hours. You might find it’s easier to get rid of stuff than you think it will be.

      This one is kind of odd but bear with me. Make sure you have appropriate sized garbage cans for your needs. If you have a tiny kitchen garbage can that needs emptying every day or two, it’s harder to toss out what needs to be tossed. It’s worthwhile to have a proper set up for the amount of garbage generated. I also spent the time to set up a working recycling area in my laundry room. This space has enough bins for all the categories of items to be recycled. I can pack stuff in snuggly so I make less trips to recycling. Punchline is to set up work flows for everything -this goes for stacks of mail, stacks of clothes to be donated , etc. Set up routines for stuff that would otherwise linger around the house.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I use the two year rule as well. I have some things that I only use annually, but if a couple years have passed and I haven’t used the thing, then I get rid of it. I had a blouse that I only ever wore to the office Christmas party / white elephant exchange every year. Finally got rid of it after I got it out again for the Christmas part and all of a sudden it had become noticeably dated.

    18. cat socks*

      When I get dressed, I’ll try on a couple of other items that I haven’t worn in a while. If I decide I don’t want to keep them, I put them in a separate laundry basket designed for giveaway items. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed with having to go through my entire closet at once.

    19. Here we go again*

      Try the one thing in one thing out method. For example, when you buy something new like socks immediately throw out the worn out ones. Get a box in your closet or wherever and when you bring something new in put something in the outbox. When the box is full donate or trash it. So helpful with my stuff now my husbands and sons is another story.

    20. Esprit de l'escalier*

      So many good suggestions here! I could use ideas about giving away my language-learning books. I used to learn languages for fun, so I have textbooks, dictionaries, and other materials in the various languages I dove into. And also, two full sets of Encyclopedia Britannica. Yikes.

      They don’t seem like the kind of books to donate to my library for their book sale — I’m afraid they would eventually throw them out due to no demand, if they would even take them. I’ve given away lots of fiction and nonfiction books, but these are my millstones….

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Check with the library about what they might accept. I’m not sure about language books – it may depend on how old they are. Some categories of nonfiction go out of date quickly and then libraries don’t want them because they are having to replace their own copies anyway.

        Maybe ask at used bookstores about the encyclopedias. I used to work at a library where we were getting rid of those and other large sets of matching books and you know what people wanted them for? TV and film sets! They didn’t care about the contents, they just wanted cool looking matching books to put on shelves as props.

      2. Owler*

        “ I’m afraid they would eventually throw them out due to no demand.”
        I have this thought as well, and I try to ask myself why I keep something that I don’t want and no one else would either? I don’t have to keep something just because no one wants it. I need to value my own needs as much as the need of the item.

      3. Bob-White of the Glen*

        Hopefully they recycle them, but old information simply is not valuable. Please let it go. Maybe a school will take it for kids to cut out the pictures?

    21. Chickaletta*

      There are a lot of excellent tips on how to decide what to get rid of. My tip is to just tackle one drawer/shelf/cabinet or small closet at a time (as long as you’re not on a deadline like for moving). Sometimes, thinking about decluttering the whole house can seem overwhelming, so I just do one small space at a time on a regular basis. Chose just one drawer/cabinet etc. and take everything out and wipe it down. Then go through the items for toss, donate, keep, etc. It takes about 10-15 minutes. Don’t do too much at once – no more than one, maybe two spaces in a day so that your brain doesn’t remember it as a dreaded chore that sucked up your whole evening or weekend. I find myself more motivated that way the next time I have a spare few minutes.

    22. I’m not sure about this, but*

      I hired a home organizer. I found it very helpful to set aside about a half day (or several hours) at a time for that appointment. Having someone help: I could say toss, donate, or keep and they would help get it done. The service I used also took the donate stuff and took care of that. We went through drawers, closets, linen closet, the garage and so forth. I had a number of appointments over about 6 months. It was worth the money to have the help.

      I also recommend Buy Nothing groups on Facebook, but I’ve used that primarily for one off items.

    23. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Excellent recommendations above, to which I add: invite a friend.
      When my friend came over, she didn’t clean or sort anything. She listened to the stories i had for the stuff i was getting rid of. It’s like the “take photos” suggestion above. Because if someone hears the story, it somehow makes it real in my head.
      Good luck!

    24. Random Biter*

      This thread brought to mind a dilemma I’m having. I inherited the family home in 2016, while going through closets I discovered the cedar closet in the basement to be chock-a-block with movie slides. You know, the family vacation stuff from the 60’s/70’s? Well, maybe you’re not old enough to remember but you get the idea. For more than one reason I have absolutely zero interest in keeping these and my brother doesn’t want them. I’ve already donated the pull up screen and slide projector to the local Goodwill when I couldn’t find anyone via Facebook sites to take them (free). So…what do I do with these slides? In no way do I want to toss them in the trash can (landfill) and my local recycle place (which is a good 1/2 hour away) never responded to any of my queries on if they’d take them (they do take film and I’m thinking they’re pretty much the same thing). Should I make the trip out there and hope they will take them (and there are several boxes) or is there another way to dispose of them?

        1. Random Biter*

          Mmmm…I think that would be a good suggestion if there was actually anything of interest to anyone except my immediate family :)) I mean it’s a lot of shots of random scenery from the car window. I suspect most of these were taken when the camera was a new and fun thing.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Can you digitize the slides? Or pay a place to digitize them for you? Then you can throw away the slides and store a DVD or two that you never look at (a big improvement on a whole closet full of slides).

            If you have no interest in keeping the images in any form (slides or digital) and just want to get rid of them, just search on the internet for “can I throw away slides?” and “how to dispose of old slides?”

            1. Random Biter*

              Well learn something new every day. There seems to be evidence that the slides are not hazardous to dispose of I may run them down to the recycle place and see if they’ll take them as I don’t want to dump the plastic trays they are in

  2. Kate*

    Looking for help with my neurodivergent (ADHD + gifted) 7 year old.

    My 7 YO and I have a pretty good, bordering on excellent, relationship. A lot of it, I think, stems from the fact that I know she is trying her very best even when she is struggling with things like executive function, I try to give her the benefit of the doubt when she makes a genuine mistake, and I try to work explicitly with her on behavioural strategies to mitigate some of the effects.

    Some things are like having a list of all the things she needs for school — that she wrote—- by the door, so she can check the list on her way out, or deliberately building in extra time before we need to be somewhere so that she can have the space to transition from one mode to another.

    I am also aware that, by some estimates, kids with ADHD receive a full 20,000 more negative messages by age 10 than non-neurodivergent kids. And I see it play out *every day*.

    We just got back from a week spent with my mom and my sister, and it was a non-stop litany of tiny thing my 7 YO is allegedly doing wrong. Every thing from holding her fork wrong to sitting wrong to speaking too loud to… the list was endless.

    At one point I estimated that she got a negative criticism from these two people she loves and trusts and looks up to once every THREE MINUTES. She was so defeated by the end, to the point that dropping her toothbrush in the bathroom put her in a tailspin of profusely apologizing for “making another mistake, I promise promise PROMISE I won’t do it again!!”

    …is there any way that I, as one person, albeit as her primary parent, can counter this?

    When I tried to raise it with both my mom and sister, I got the usual responses about needing to “toughen her up” and “prepare her for the work world where they won’t be so understanding”. I don’t think it helps that she is both tall and very articulate, so people tend to treat her as if she is older, and judge her behaviour accordingly.

    If you were a neurodivergent kid, what did you need to hear from your parents and authority figures growing up? If you’re the parent of a neurodivergent kid now, are there any strategies you’ve come across to help navigate all these negative messages kids are getting from their family members, teachers, camp counsellors, etc?

    1. KoiFeeder*

      If nothing else- I’m autistic, and I do not get negative criticism once every three minutes in the working world. As an adult, if I am getting negative criticism every three minutes, I can and will leave. Exactly zero people care about how I hold my fork post-high school as long as I do well at my studies and perform a good job at work- heck, no one cares about the fact that I don’t hold my pen correctly, which is far more relevant! And I can’t have my feet on the chair or something when sitting, but I can be a praying mantis all day and no one complains about that either (except my mom. hi mom!).

    2. Bumblebeee*

      I have a ND kid too. My family don’t criticize him but they’ve made critiques and gave well meaning but unhelpful advice to me in the past. In response I have gone ape shit at them and told them they are never allowed to criticize or give advice on my parenting unless I specifically ask for their opinion. I did not say this politely, I went scary crazy on them. Many times until the message sank in. So now they know this is a super sensitive topic and their opinion is not wanted.

      Please don’t allow your family to criticize your child. My heart aches for her imagining how self conscious and stressed out she must have been. You can’t control your family’s actions or what they think about ADHD but you certainly have control over whether you allow your daughter to hear this or not. If this was me I would immediately leave if they criticized my kid. Again and again until they stop. Don’t teach your child the onus is on them to tolerate the criticism with grace when really the onus is on the adults to not act like a bully.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        My dad used this phrase at my school when they punished me for being autistic, and I now provide it to you for your own use:
        “bayoneting the wounded”

      2. tangerineRose*

        About this “the usual responses about needing to “toughen her up” and “prepare her for the work world where they won’t be so understanding”.”

        The kid is 7 years old. She doesn’t need to be prepared for the work world yet. They aren’t helping her; they’re hurting her.

        1. JSPA*

          Exactly. They’re not doing it out of confusion; they’re making threadbare excuses for their urges to savage someone defenseless for being different. That they themselves may be unaware means only that they may be cluelessly cruel, but it’s unrelenting cruelty all the same. If they were locking up a needed wheelchair, such that the child was writhing on the floor while they exhorted her to stand up, what would you do? Well…do that.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Did you tell your mom and sister this? Not just “please stop criticizing”, but “you have been criticizing my daughter on an average of once every three minutes?” Because sometimes putting into hard numbers can get a message across.

      But also, respectfully, why did this go on for a week? That’s a lot of negativity, even for someone who isn’t ND. Right now, you are her sword and her shield. Please shield her from your family.

      1. Generic Name*

        I 100% agree with this. My teenager is autistic and has adhd, and I don’t think my mom or my sister have ever critiqued his behavior. And he spends a lot of time with my parents. (They probably spoil him too much by letting him do whatever he wants, but that’s another issue). If your family can’t treat your daughter better, she needs to not be forced to be around them. Protect your daughter.

      2. Ampersand*

        Absolutely agree with this. I have ADHD and received a lot of negative feedback from my parents and family as a kid, and my daughter is now showing signs of ADHD at a young age. Protect your kid! Take her out of that situation if it happens again; let her witness you defend her to your family so she knows you’ve got her back; and (ideally) don’t let anyone treat her like this! My family would lose the right to see my daughter if they behaved this way. Dealing with family can be difficult and fraught–but since you’re asking how to navigate the negative messages: you tell the person delivering the message to stop; if they don’t, you remove your kid from the situation.

        1. Sandy*

          This is so important. Your daughter needs to know both that you have her back and that what these family members are saying isn’t acceptable, correct, or normative.

      3. Banana*

        Also, don’t be afraid to let some of the pushback to your family happen in front of her. As a former kid who has been in that position, when family is criticizing you in front of your parents, one of the fears that erupts is that your parents think the same way about you. You have 2 tasks here – making the negativity stop and making sure your child feels supported and knows you don’t agree with the message. Shutting your mom and sister down in front of your daughter takes a ton of the fear away and helps counteract the negativity. You need to also support your daughter 1:1 and reinforce the message to your mom and sister 1:1 (and any other family who may take part) in private, but doing it once or twice with everyone there is hugely impactful and very necessary.

        1. Water Everywhere*

          This this this! A parent who will actively & immediately support you and push back against another adult’s unwarranted criticism is a parent you will trust and believe.

      4. Observer*

        But also, respectfully, why did this go on for a week? That’s a lot of negativity, even for someone who isn’t ND.

        This is a really important point.

    4. misspiggy*

      I wasn’t neurodiverent but physically disabled – supposedly invisibly, but in fact I was taught to mask it. The constant criticism to make me position my body in a more ladylike way, and to stop fidgeting, to do everything right first time, did so much damage to my health that I’m lucky to be alive. None of the criticism helped, because it didn’t tell me how to do the things I was being criticised about.

      I understand that women do need to be very careful how they present themselves, and there are a range of risks associated with appearing ‘thoughtless’, or even just graceless. I would have liked the opportunity to work with an adult on my own strategies to predict those risks and protect myself. And I would have liked to have got praise for trying so hard to do things that others found easy.

      I think I’d take the view that no adults who are not your daughter’s parents should ever be criticising her, point blank. I personally think she should get no criticism at all, unless she harms a person or animal. She is trying so hard, and therefore must be doing better than most people can see. If they don’t have anything nice to say to her, they shouldn’t get to see her.

      1. JSPA*

        Feedback from a coach in a coaching session? Yes.

        Immediate intervention by anyone if there’s a direct risk of significant bodily injury to self or others? Yes.

        Socialized to my specific norms because I’ve nominated myself to that job? Hell no.

    5. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      This is more of a ‘what I wished I’d heard’, because I definitely didn’t get any support from my family growing up. I wished that even just once they had said that it was ok if I struggled with some things. I wish they had given me the language to articulate what was painful and difficult about navigating school, social interactions, etc. Like, I think you need to have a really frank, grown-up conversation with your daughter about ableism and explain that they way her grandmother treated her is ableist and wrong. And if she asks what that word means, then you guys can have a detailed conversation about things she’s witnessed or experienced that explain what it means– really delve and ask her for examples of what she thinks the concept is until she can make the connection. Experiencing bigotry as a kid is so painful and disorienting, and not having the words to call it out as wrong just makes you feel so alone and and confused and like obviously you’re the problem. Empower her with the language to identify and name what is wrong with the way people treat her.

      1. Kate*

        This is really helpful, thanks!

        I have tried to work with her a lot on having the words to express what she is experiencing. I am disabled myself, and we have a lot of conversations (some more age appropriate, some more grown up) about when something sounds wrong, feels wrong, is wrong, and options for how to react.

        Probably the most successful has been taking her out of the situation and then talking through some scripts for how to articulate what she is feeling: “Auntie, can I talk to you privately? I heard you making jokes about how I use a fork while you were in the kitchen and it really hurt my feelings. It wasn’t kind. Can you please not do that again?”

        1. JSPA*

          It’s great that she has a script, but as a young child, that script is for her to use when you’re not there to protect her. If you’re there, you get to go full mamma bear on any other adult, if they’re hurting your child. Yes, that includes a blanket “stop right there” or “knock it off” or “that’s cruel and unnecessary correction” and “who died and made you the fork god?” to the very same people who used to protect you. Dare to be labeled “difficult” for this. It matters.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I think this is a good script for when a peer could be saying something mean to her. I don’t think it’s a good idea for her to address an authoritative adult in this way. When it’s adults, it needs to be you modelling for her that it’s unacceptable for adults to speak down to kids in that way.

        3. Irish Teacher*

          I think that’s a good script, but given that it happened numerous times, it sounds like your mother and sister were not responding to it. If she asked them to stop and/or you asked them to stop and she was visibly upset, which would be enough to stop most people, then I think the reality is they are not going to change and you need to limit her exposure to them.

          Given her response by the end of the week, I would say they are not safe people for her to be around, at least not for a week at a time. Even with your support, and it sounds like you did all the right things and that you are a really good parent, but very little is going to make somebody comfortable around people who criticise them every three minutes. I am an adult and if I had a family member who was criticising me like that, I would probably lose my temper completely long before the week is out. Even if there were people supporting me.

          What you have described is not the sort of criticism that ADHD get a lot more of than neurotypical kids. That is things like them getting more negative feedback on their schoolwork, being criticised for handing up messy work by a teacher who did it deliberately because they don’t have a good understanding of ADHD, being told off for being out of their place in class or for doing risky things or a parent who is tired getting annoyed at them for not going to sleep at night. Things that neurotypical children usually SHOULD be corrected for and that adults either don’t realise the child with ADHD is not doing for the same reasons OR in a class situation because the teacher doesn’t want to make the ADHD child a target for bullying by relaxing the rules for him or her.

          The things you have described your daughter being criticised for would not be reasonable to criticise a neurotypical child for either. Plus, you were right there. They had no need to correct her.

          And it can’t have been very easy for you either. It’s not very respectful to you to criticise your child when you are there and could intervene if necessary and it is even less respectful to criticise her again 3 minutes after you have told them in no uncertain terms to knock it off. It sounds like spending a week around them was nearly as stressful an experience for you as it was for your daughter and neither of you should have to deal with that.

          I will say your daughter is lucky to have a supportive mother who understands that she may have to deal with more difficulties than the rest of us.

      2. Observer*

        they way her grandmother treated her is ableist and wrong

        I agree that Grandma was wrong. But I don’t think it was necessarily ableist. Because to be honest, I don’t think a neurotypical kid would have managed THAT much better. They were nitpicking her to pieces, and it sounds like most of the issues were things that are both highly typical of 7yo kids and just not that big of a deal. Especially since they claim that they are worrying about “the work world”, as though anyone gives a flip about how you hold your fork in the office.

        So either Grandma and Auntie are just being difficult or they are holding her to a higher standard. And it can be easier to deal with this kind of stuff when you know in your own head that “I’m not asking for any special favors here – just be reasonable!”

        1. J.B.*

          When grandparents do this to a neurodiverse kid (and it happens a lot) it does seem to be in response to the brain wiring. My family members reacted much differently to one of my kids than the other.

          1. Observer*

            It could be that they are harder on her because of her issue. That’s why I said not necessarily.

            But I do think that it’s reasonable to call out the fact that they are riding her for stuff that is soo typical of children of that age range.

    6. RagingADHD*

      The best thing my parents did was not allow people to verbally abuse me.

      That is not normal childhood feedback. That is verbal abuse.

      I understand that it is difficult to recognize and push back against verbal and emotional abuse from your family of origin, because you yourself had to normalize it growing up. If you aren’t emotionally prepared to stand up for your kid, please stop subjecting her to these people.

      You can hear that this is bananapants, right? She is seven years old and she needs to prepare for the work world by holding her fork “correctly?” That is some kind of bend-over-backwards self justification going on.

      The thing she needs to hear from you right now is the truth:

      1) it was wrong for grandma and aunt to talk to her that way. They are messed up in their thinking, and it makes them act mean instead of loving.

      2) you were wrong to let it go on. You should have stopped it, but you didn’t, because (you’re kind of scared of them, or you got used to it because they did the same thing to you as a kid, or whatever your truth is)

      3) you are sorry.

      4) you will make sure it doesn’t happen again. If grandma and auntie won’t behave, you will take her home so they can’t go on being mean to her.

      Then do it.

      1. PollyQ*

        Yes, all of this. Your mother and your sister* should be spending ZERO time criticizing your daughter, especially in your presence. Let them know that unless it stops, completely, that they won’t be spending any time with your daughter. Then stand by it.

        This would be just as true if your daughter were completely neurotypical. I’m an aunt to 2 who are now both in college. The ONLY time I did any criticizing or correcting was when I was minding them and their parents weren’t around, and then only if it was something truly egregious (e.g., that time my niece decided to smack her older brother for no apparent reason). It never would have crossed my mind to even comment on things like how they sat or how they held a fork.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Also, can we talk about the fact that neurotypical 7 year olds also sit funny, get the wiggles, are loud, drop things, and may not have impeccable formal table manners at all times?

          I understand the difference and how ADHD can make some kids very “extra” in ways that family members sometimes latch onto. But the extremity that was described here makes me think they were bagging on the poor kid for just, average kid stuff that doesn’t even merit criticism in the first place.

          1. PollyQ*

            1000000%. Hell, kids significantly older than 7 still do all of that.

            Various other thoughts:
            * I am also so not very sure that the poor kid “loves and trusts and looks up to” these people. She sounds like she’s just plain scared of them, and who wouldn’t be?

            * Anyone else remember the series of letters from the LW who called her boss’s daughter a wh*re, partly because it was a word that was lobbed at her continuously in her childhood? (link to follow)

            What grandmother & aunt are doing is every bit as abusive, painful, and, take it from a survivor of childhood emotional abuse, damaging.

          2. UKDancer*

            This so much. My Grandmother was always telling me off for sitting funny, crossing my legs in a way she thought unladylike and struggling with cutlery and I was neurotypical. Some of this is pretty average for that age because kids are often clumsy and awkward.

            My mother had a pretty stern word with her after one holiday when I came back very miserable and told her to wind her neck in. That she was fine with Granny teaching me table manners and which fork to use but she was not to shout at me about the way I sat or if I got it wrong and that did make a significant difference.

          3. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

            I mean, can we talk about the fact that adults do all these things, too? It’s so weird that mom and sister are so aggressively attacking this child over normal things that happen to everyone. I mean, I dropped a fork 20 minutes ago, and I’m 46! I also sit funny and get the fidget, and I have not been diagnosed with any neurodivergency, though I have my suspicions that I might be ADHD-leaning.

            Those two are too much.

          4. Rain's Small Hands*

            Heck, in some ways you are lucky you got a diagnosis. My ADHD 22 year old is also very gifted…..and we suspected something was wrong way back in kindergarten. But “she will grow out of it, its normal for kids who are five to have the wiggles.” And it went on this way from year to year to year – teachers would NOT support a diagnosis (I suspect because she was doing fine academically and not a troublemaker – so an EAP would have been more work for THEM). She forgot her backpack, didn’t turn in homework – all the signs of executive processing disorder – but we kept getting told she was normal – and she was progressing – eventually forgetting the backpack stopped being a thing. It wasn’t until a brick wall in Math as a Sophomore high school on her way to calculus that a math teacher finally said “you know, I think…..”

            Make sure she gets therapy from an ADHD specialist – medication alone isn’t sufficient, she needs to build the habits and create the systems that will work FOR HER (and those systems may not be the ones your mother and sister are pushing). Tell your relatives to cut it out – its going to take her longer to master some things, and often its one thing at a time – and other things she will be great with (read again – mine was heading into Calculus as a Sophomore – and hated math). And yes, if necessary – remove her from the influence of her grandmother and aunt.

            1. Observer*

              and those systems may not be the ones your mother and sister are pushing

              No maybe about it. They are so off the wall that it isn’t even funny.

        2. Lexi Vipond*

          In general there might be some space for house rules – we take off our shoes at the front door here, you can’t run/throw things in this room because there’s glass on the shelves, don’t put your feet up on my nice new chairs please – things I would phrase as a request to an adult who would understand that it was an instruction in disguise, but might phrase as a simple instruction to a child. But it doesn’t sound like that’s at all what’s happening here.

        3. Irish Teacher*

          Yup, I’ve corrected my nephew when he was doing something that could hurt him or break something and his parents weren’t in the room with us and even then it’s usually like “be careful, sweetheart. We don’t want to break that. It’s your grandma’s” or “hey, be careful. You don’t want to hurt yourself.” Those are things that are non-negotiable. How he sits or holds a fork…those are not my business.

      2. Kate*

        My post was already getting long, so I didn’t get into the details of how I have been handling this as it happens. Suffice it to say, I am not just sitting back and letting my kid get verbally beat up for hours.

        We have certainly done any combination of the “standing up to them” suggestions in your post and the thread many times, up to and including picking up and leaving, sometimes in the same day!

        That unfortunately doesn’t change that I feel like I am the only one standing up for her regularly in a sea barrage of criticism. That said, I get some comfort from one of the posters below’s story about their mom standing up for the over the years and what that meant to them. It’s not perfect, but it’s absolutely important.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I’m glad you have found a way to do all those things for your daughter. How are YOU doing? Constantly having to manage this is exhausting for you. You got some good tips from others, but all of it does not sound sustainable for you. You need help, or at least not MORE work, when you are with them. And brava to you for all you are doing.

          If you need it, this internet stranger is behind you 100% in going low or no contact with them and explaining to them why and exactly what they have to do if they want to see your daughter.

          Maybe another tip is to explain Maslow”s hierarchy to them; you cannot toughen someone up by jumping a level in the pyramid. In fact, you ARE preparing her for a tough future by meeting her need right now.

          And maybe a boundary for you is they need counseling to learn about adhd?

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I’m glad you have found a way to do all those things for your daughter. How are YOU doing? Constantly having to manage this is exhausting for you. You got some good tips from others, but all of it does not sound sustainable for you. You need help, or at least not MORE work, when you are with them. And brava to you for all you are doing.

          If you need it, this internet stranger is behind you 100% in going low or no contact with them and explaining to them why and exactly what they have to do if they want to see your daughter.

          Maybe another tip is to explain Maslow”s hierarchy to them; you cannot toughen someone up by jumping a level in the pyramid. In fact, you ARE preparing her for a tough future by meeting her need right now.

          And maybe a boundary for you is they need counseling to learn about adhd?

          Sending all the supporting thoughts to you!

        3. RagingADHD*

          I’m glad to hear it.

          I would suggest that whatever you are doing, you need to do it more and earlier, because she was under fire for a solid week and you saw with your own eyes that it broke her.

          You don’t have to try. You do not need their permission, understanding or cooperation. It is entirely within your power to not allow these people to treat your daughter this way, ever again.

          I also do not believe that your idea to coach a seven year old on standing up for herself against grownups, in their home, where she cannot escape, and where you keep making her go back and take it, is at all healthy or helpful. Maybe when she’s 12 or 13. And has had years of feeling secure and protected to build her confidence.

          I know you mean well, but this is just the “toughening up” approach in different clothes.

          She is a little kid. Protect her, so she knows what it feels like to be protected.

          One thing ADHDers are really, really bad at is accepting cognitive dissonance. We cannot ignore it. You can tell her all day long that their behavior is unacceptable and she doesn’t deserve it. But if you keep choosing to expose her to it, she will not hear your words at all. Instead, she will internalize the message that it is normal for people to be cruel to her, that she has to show people affection when they are cruel to her, that she can never escape, and the best she can hope for is to find some ways to make herself feel better.

          I would encourage you to teach her that if something is unacceptable, you just don’t accept it.

          This may require you to get some help and support for yourself. As I mentioned, I understand that it is difficult to separate yourself from an emotionally abusive family.

          If you and your kid are in a sea of cruelty, get out of the water.

          1. un-pleased*

            All of this. By returning to the situation, OP is telling mom and sister they can still behave however they want to this poor child and that giving them that freedom is more important than protecting the child they are abusing.

        4. anonforthis*

          I was a lot like your daughter (ADHD, gifted, tall), except my mother was my biggest critic. It nearly destroyed me, and it did make me too terrified of doing anything wrong (and convinced whatever I did do would be wrong) to succeed at a lot of the things I once wanted to do in life.

          She already has you in her corner and a safe place at home. That’s huge.

          Other things that would have helped (which you may well already be doing) :
          – Keep her away from unreasonable critics to the extent possible, if they can’t be made to shut up.
          – Tell her, and mean it, that it’s a them problem, not a her problem. I implicitly believed everything everyone said about me, because I never say things without a good reason, so why would they? It would have helped if someone had told me that adults can be blinkered and mean and talk nonsense.
          – Talk to her about how she’s different, and how being different isn’t wrong even if some people are jerks about it, and the things that are different and great about her. (Not the giftedness, I grew up thinking perfect academics were the only thing that was acceptable about me, which was a disaster when I finished study and had no more academics to be perfect at.)
          – As she gets older, you can talk through together how neurotypical culture works, not as ‘you’re wrong for not naturally being like this’ but so she understands and can make choices about consciously navigating it. A neurodiversity-informed therapist would help here, though it can be hard to find the right one.

          But just having someone in my corner at home would have made a huge difference for me, as well as the non-judgemental help you give her with executive function. I’m glad she has you.

        5. Emma*

          Since it seems to be a recurring issue, and you’ve tried everything you reasonably can, I would limit the relationship with both your mom and sister. It’s not fair to you or your kid to keep having to fight these battles.

          Like definitely no more weeks together. Maybe a lunch here or there, you can leave if you need.

          But I would not keep forcing yourself and your kid to go through this. It sounds incredibly damaging. Your anecdote about the toothbrush had me shuddering.

          1. Emma*

            Like I think if you keep having her have to be with them for extended periods, knowing that this is going on… it’s just not good for your kid. It doesn’t matter how many times you defend her. If you keep putting her in this situation, that’s an issue. It’s a choice you’re making.

            And I know families are complicated! Maybe seek advice from a therapist on this? But what you’ve shared is very worrisome. Please protect your kid by limiting her time with them.

          2. JSPA*

            If you have to travel to see them, then hotel room (or even friends’ couch and air mattress, or tent and camping, if the various disabilities allow it) plus meeting in outdoor areas for picnic or looking at flowers or whatever?

        6. Observer*

          That unfortunately doesn’t change that I feel like I am the only one standing up for her regularly in a sea barrage of criticism.

          Maybe you’re spending too much time with the wrong people. I think there comes a point where you need to get out of that sea rather than trying to be the dike that keeps your kid from drowning.

          I think it’s time to start being really, really clear with people like your mother and sister about what is, and is not, acceptable. And then if they won’t dial it back? You just spend less time with them, at least with your daughter. She’ll find other people who will be better for her.

          1. AsPerElaine*

            Yes, this. If there aren’t other adults in your/her life who can love and accept her for who she is, can you find some? Especially some neurodiverse adults who can relate directly to what she’s dealing with, will get where she’s coming from without you needing to run interference, and bring personal experience like, “I really struggled with that when I was your age, too; when I was older I learned XYZ and I wish I’d known that earlier”?

      3. waffles*

        I am a BCBA who works with neurodivergent children and THIS IS THE WAY. Do not allow others to talk to your child this way. You must set boundaries on what they can and cannot say to your child and enforce the boundaries. Do it now before adolescence hits, their comments will be ten times worse then.
        Hugs and strength to you and your DD!!

    7. kina lillet*

      Preparing her for the work world? A seven year old? The mind boggles. That’s a really thin excuse for cruelty.

      I don’t know if you have a kid/neurodiversity question but a mom & sister question. I hope that they didn’t do the same to you, but I think it’s worth acknowledging to yourself that it will probably be hard to stand up to them. I’m afraid I don’t have a ton of advice for you but I’m sending well wishes.

    8. Not A Manager*

      This just makes me so angry. I would suggest being much, much more clear and decisive. “I am declaring this table a critique-free zone. No one is going to comment on anyone’s table manners for the rest of the week.” “Mom, Patrice is my child and I’ll do the criticizing. Your job is just to love her and spoil her.” “Sister, Patrice has my permission to be doing that. You don’t need to tell her to stop.” And more generally, tell your family in advance that you don’t care whether they agree with you or not, that they are not raising your child and they aren’t allowed to boss her around.

      I hope that you don’t have to back this up by packing your things and leaving, but if you do have to, be sure to really let your daughter know that this is because the *adults* were behaving badly, and not her.

    9. Double A*

      Phewwww this makes me angry and I’m so sorry you and especially your daughter experienced this. I’m neurotypical but have always worked with neurodivergent kids and non-typical people are my favorite. I married one, probably at least one of my kids will be one.

      I agree with Raging ADHD’s comment about the conversation you should have with your daughter. As for your mother, I think you need to have a very serious conversation. Tell her she has been being unrelentingly negative towards your daughter and she cannot do this. You will not allow someone to speak to your daughter that way; if they do, you will leave. You expect people who love your daughter to recognize her strengths and help her build on them. You expect them to pick their battles in terms of corrections. Those corrections should be solely for the sake of safety or kindness; even when it comes to hygiene, you should handle it. Is how your daughter holds a fork a safety issue? Is it unkind? Then it’s off limits.

      If your mother is defensive…I’m so tempted to say you should treat her the way she treats your daughter. See how she likes constant criticism. Considering how defensive she got when you brought it up, I don’t expect she can take feedback like she can dish it out.

      In terms of your daughter, I would explain that there are a lot of people who think children need to be bossed around. They’re not very nice. Tell her what you value and what you think is important she work on, and ask her what she thinks it’s important she work on. And for the most part, just keep recognizing what she’s good at, her persistence, and her growth. Try to give her 5-7 positives for every 1 correction.

      The book “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen” has some great framing for ways to build your kid up in an authentic way.

    10. KatEnigma*

      Don’t allow it. Period. Correct THEM as soon as they start, in front of her so she knows you are standing up for her. If they don’t knock it off after a warning, leave. This means not going on week long holidays with them unless you have separate lodging and transportation. I shut my parents down the second they start picking at my son, my husband or our parenting choices. I yelled at my dad just last week for “correcting” my son for something we allow. We had a big blowout a couple Christmases ago. They have learned to apologize and stop immediately because they know I will go no contact if they don’t.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      Their approach is just banana crackers, and it would be just as useless with a nuerotypical kid. Their pedagogy is just to sit back and criticise, which any fool could do because it is lazy and ineffective. Look, I’m a big believer in saying “no” and “stop that” and bringing the thunder with kids, but I’m talking about really unacceptable or inconsiderate behaviour, like damaging their home. Even that has to be followed up by positive attention and direction. A seven year old can sit, or hold her fork any way she chooses! How bored they must be. Did they put any effort into building a relationship with her at all? If they didn’t then what’s the point of allowing time with them? Honestly the next time they start on her, I would bundle her into the car, while shouting exactly what I think of their approach, and I would let them know ahead of time that you will be doing that. I know you don’t want to be *that* parent whose child does no wrong, but your instincts are solid here.

      1. Nicki Name*

        “Their approach is just banana crackers, and it would be just as useless with a nuerotypical kid.”

        This! I don’t think brain type matters much in this case, no kid should be subjected to this. This experience would be awful even for a 100% NT 7-year-old.

    12. Anima*

      My mom fought like a bear for her weird goth kid, so hard in fact that none of the criticism her side of the family had for me ever reached me until I was older and she told me. I recommend you do the same, what your family does to your daughter feels cruel to me. Your daughter does not need to hear any of this. Put a stop to it, other commenters have already posted good tips for that.

      I’m still the weird goth kid btw. I just don’t listen to my family anymore.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      Reading your post and your description of your sister and mother’s behavior makes me feel for your daughter. It’s outrageous to comment so negatively on how she holds her fork, how she sits, that she dropped something, etc.

      I’m writing from my perspective as being the person who isn’t the parent, observing the dynamics of my cousin’s twin sons on the autism spectrum. They live several states away and until the pandemic, I would go out to visit for a few days every year. The boys’ behavior was challenging sometimes when they were young. Major scenes with their parents that the kids couldn’t help, including at dinner, and their parents were and continue to be amazing with responding to their behavior in ways that set limits and guided behavior without throwing criticisms at them.

      Even as someone who is not a parent and observing their sometimes intensely emotional behavior, it would never occur to me to criticize these kids who were doing the best they could. Their parents were dedicated to their well-being and were amazing. My role as a family member has been to be encouraging and supportive of both kids as well as their parents. since I was not clear on the best way to interact with the boys when they were little, I asked their parents for guidance. They gave me good advice and I had a blast playing and creating with the kids. They’re young teens now and doing great.

      If I had started putting those boys down every few minutes, my cousin would have given me a stern talking to and if it didn’t stop, I’m certain I would have been asked to leave even though I was a houseguest. Honestly, I hope you won’t take your daughter for an extended visit with her relatives again. That’s just plain verbal abuse they’re putting her through.

    14. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t know if I’m neurodivergent or not (have quite a few autistic like traits, but…not to the point they really interfere with my life, so, who knows?) but I am a teacher who works primarily with kids with SEN.

      I will firstly say your mother and sister’s comments would be concerning even with a neurotypical child. You don’t “toughen a child up” by criticising them, quite the opposite. You “toughen a child up,” if that is even desireable, by giving them support and building their confidence and I cannot see how they could believe they were making your child tougher or more resilient, given her reaction. It’s quite clear that being with them is making her more insecure and less resilient.

      And preparing a 7 year old for the “world of work” is ridiculous. No 7 year old is or should be ready for the world of work.

      I’m sorry if i’m being harsh here, but I do think one thing you, as her primary parent, should probably do if possible is spend ensure she spends less time with your mother and sister. While I do realise that kids with ADHD hear more negative comments by a long way than neurotypical kids (and the one kid in my career that I really feel I failed was a boy with ADHD who was clearly getting to the point that he felt there was no point even trying to behave because even when he managed to sit still for 20 minutes, it STILL wasn’t good enough, as classes lasted 40, and I know I added to the criticism he got), it is NOT normal for adults in the 21st century to think that criticising them “toughens them up” and it was never (at least in my lifetime) normal for adults to believe they needed to be prepared for the world of work at the age of 7.

      I do think you need to either spend much less time with your mother and sister or make it clear to them that the way they speak to your child is unacceptable and if you hear any more comments like that, you are leaving and then do just that. Could you stay in a hotel when visiting them?

      I will add that I would NEVER criticise my nephew like that or override his parents if they asked me not to speak to him in a particular way. The issue with your mother and sister is less about your child being neuroatypical and more about them not having good boundaries and not respecting you as the parent of the child. (Yes, there are exceptions when I would ignore a parent’s request as to how I interact with their child, but that would be if they said something like “make her eat her dinner. Stand over her and make her finish it even if she’s gagging” or “if he misbehaves, give him a slap with a ruler” or something else I found utterly unacceptable/abusive. Just “don’t constantly criticise my child” does NOT fall in to that category.)

      For the more subtle criticism that ADHD children usually face – the criticisms I am talking about with the student I feel I failed is stuff like him getting in trouble for repeatedly pretending to fall off his chair in class or calling out, disrupting the class, not just things like holding a fork wrong – it’s more difficult.

      I think you can talk to your daughter and let her know that some people don’t understand and will judge her for things that she can’t help. But I also think you need to work on reducing the negative messages. As her parent, you DO have some control. At school, that will probably mean working with teachers to deal with any negative behaviours she has. If she doesn’t have behavioural problems and is being criticised for things like stimming, then she should not be criticised and that might mean keeping her away from certain people or explaining her needs to a teacher and going over their head to complain to the principal if they continue blaming her for things that do not disrupt the class or prevent her from learning.

      However, assuming we are mostly talking about her being criticised for things like not getting her work done, not having the materials she needs for class, calling out in class, fighting with other kids, things that it WOULD be reasonable to criticise a neurotypical child for, then I think the answer is to work with the teacher to ensure these behaviours happen less often. You probaby know what works with your child so let her teachers and other adults know that and in the case of her teachers, they might be able to adapt some of it for the classroom. If she needs to move around, is there some way she could move while doing her work that would not be disruptive to the rest of the class? If she finds it difficult to be organised and often loses her homework, so the teacher thinks she isn’t doing it, could you or whatever adult brings her to school, bring the homework in and hand it to the teacher, so it doesn’t get lost? Would it be possible for her to have movement breaks at school?

      I don’t know what the issues are that get her in trouble, so these are only examples. They may not apply to her at all. But I think you want to prevent her being criticised so often, not just to make up for it.

      None of this is a complete fix. Depending on the child, there may be behaviours that she DOES have to adapt. I’ve taught some kids with ADHD who take a lot of risks due to impulsivity and there is no way to avoid a child being criticised for things like trying to climb up on the roof of a building, jumping off things so high they are likely to get seriously hurt, etc. But what you want to do is to reduce the times these behaviours happen and also ensure your child is not criticised for things that just seem “odd” to people who are neurotypical, but which are not really any problem.

      I will add, to build on KoiFeeder’s, comment, I walk around the school tossing things in the air and catching them. I do this in class with my whiteboard markers. When I “froze” when the waiter at a wine bar was trying to take my order at a staff party, my colleagues simply stepped in and ordered for me and drew no attention to my reaction. My colleagues joke about the fact I need to shut up sometimes, but mostly they listen fairly patiently to my lectures about de Valera (one of them joked that if my history students don’t know the answer to any question, they should just answer “de Valera,” because knowing me, the odds are high that will be the answer).

      Kids are expected to be “normal” in a way adults often aren’t. And being “a fidget” myself, I have had conversations with students about how to fidget WITHOUT getting in trouble. “STOP playing with the blinds. They are not toys and it’s distracting for all of us if you keep opening and closing them. If you need to fidget with something, bring in a marker or a fidget toy to play with. That’s what I do.” *shows them whatever I happen to be fidgeting with at the time*

      I think that is something else you can do to prevent your daughter getting in so much trouble. Find ways to avoid her getting in trouble. I don’t mean about things like how she holds her fork. The obvious answer there is to let her hold her fork however works for her. I mean things like if she is tossing things in the air as I do but is not good at catching them and ends up accidentally throwing them around the room. Then maybe finding something better she can do that with or something like an elastic band around her wrist that she can play with to keep her hands busy so she doesn’t need to do that would help.

    15. Invisible fish*

      No child anywhere needs to get “tough.” My dad used that excuse to be cruel to me for years, and it left me believing others were right when they judged me negatively and spoke to me unkindly – I was a doormat for anyone and everyone because I was “wrong” for existing as a human being who didn’t look and act exactly like others thought I should.

      Well, we all know what happens to doormats …

      So the next time anyone anywhere wants to “toughen up” your child, tear that person to shreds before you collect your child and GO. Don’t let her suffer like I did, please.

      1. AGD*

        I agree. This is sometimes used by people looking for a nonexistent “silver lining” in bullying situations. It’s a red flag indicating that someone’s behavior is so bad that the situation warrants adult intervention.

        1. Kate*

          To be clear, that phrase isn’t mine, it’s their (extremely poor) justification for their outrageous behaviour.

          1. Observer*

            Understood. And it’s a red flag for all of the reasons described.

            Essentially, it’s confirmation that what they are trying to do is not in any way helpful to the kid. If they don’t know it, they need to be told – ONCE. And if they do know…

    16. Hotdog not dog*

      She doesn’t need to be toughened up, she needs to discover her “superpowers” (and believe me, holding a fork the right way is not a superpower!).
      I was a very quirky kid, and it was actually my grandfather who told me, “look, you’re a little different, but that’s a good thing. We’ll just figure out what your superpowers are, and then everything else is your disguise.”
      It turned out that one of my superpowers is that I love to read and have good retention. The disguise is learning to not shout random facts out of context, but to share them at an appropriate time (and volume, and without interrupting someone else).
      Another superpower I have is perpetual motion, and the disguise is to funnel my energy into small motions (like wiggling my toes) when I’m in a situation where movement isn’t practical.
      I’m middle aged now, and I still think of my quirks as my superpowers. (I have never been evaluated or diagnosed with anything; I don’t consider myself either typical or divergent, I’m just me.)

      1. tangerineRose*

        “We’ll just figure out what your superpowers are, and then everything else is your disguise.” I love this!

    17. Suprisingly ADHD*

      The best question I learned was “who cares?” Oh, she’s tapping her foot? WHO CARES? I can tap my foot all day at work and it doesn’t affect anything else. Oh, she holds her pencil crooked? WHO CARES? As long as words are there on the page it doesn’t matter how they got there. Oh, she needs a fidget tool? WHO CARES!? Even executive offices have had fidget tools for decades (those clacky steel balls, the drinky bird, mini-zen gardens).
      Any adult who treats her like that, you need to step in immediately and shut them down. Their behavior towards her is unacceptable. Let your daughter know that adults don’t get in trouble for sitting backwards in a chair or dropping a toothbrush or forgetting a pencil. Tell her that whatever she did to make them mad, wasn’t wrong! Specifically explain that the adult who is berating her is wrong, and overreacting to something (children assume adults are smarter and automatically in the right. She might not realize yet that she is correct and the bully adult is wrong). Remove her from the situation as much as possible in the future (limit or end visit time with those family members, get her out of an abusive classroom). Teach her phrases like “You should bring this to my parent’s attention,” or “Mom specifically gave me permission to do this,” and when she’s old enough to be taken seriously by adult jerks “Most offices don’t care if someone [does x],” or “studies show that [Y] is beneficial,” or even “Just because it annoys you doesn’t mean it’s a moral failing.” Heck, teach her that she can be rude to strangers who are rude to her (eg, be politer to your teacher but some random lady on the playground should mind her own beeswax).
      It sounds like you’ve done a great job of making her home life more accessible for her! Having that safe space will help her a lot in life!

    18. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I have nieces and nephews some of whom are ND and I manage to not constantly criticize them.

      I think you need to set a boundary with your family about the comments. If they criticize your daughter, you leave.

    19. J.B.*

      I have family members who do that and have either been cut off or put on limited contact. They are being ableist jerks, bordering on emotional abuse.

      1. Observer*

        bordering on emotional abuse.

        I think that ship has sailed. This is not “bordering”, it IS.

        Wherever someone used the excuse that someone needs to be “toughened up” that’s a red flag right there.

        Sustained constant criticism over inconsequential things is abusive.

    20. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      Good grief, they need to back off! None of what they are on her about is unusual for a 7 year old! And it doesn’t matter how she holds a dang fork! Nobody CARES about that.

      Continue to be supportive of your daughter, and minimize the amount of time spent with them, for her sake; they’re doing too much.

      Poor kid.

    21. Squidhead*

      I’m not a parent, but I’m thinking about the times we’ve visited our good friends and their daughter. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s very verbal. She’s a NT (AFAIK) kid home-schooled by two quirky, smart parents. And she wears. us. out. after about 3 days. Maybe it’s because we don’t have kids? I’m not excusing your mom and sister’s behavior, but we know ourselves well enough to know we don’t have the mental stamina for a week-long visit in our friends’ home! (I’d like to think we’d never act like your mom and sister, but the point I’m getting at here is that a full week visit may simply be too long for all parties, all other factors aside. Are the first couple of days of a visit better than the last? If so, try keeping all visits shorter than this “honeymoon” period. And absolutely co-signing the idea that the visit should end when the pointless criticism comes out.)

    22. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

      My mom: What your aunt C said to you was wrong.

      Me: …You mean you don’t agree with her?

      My mom: Of course not. She was way out of line. Anyway, I thought you knew I didn’t agree with her.

      Me: No, I didn’t know that, because you just sat there. Why didn’t you tell her she was out of line, when she *started* going off on me?

      My mom: Because if I take your side against another adult, it looks like I’m spoiling you.

      Me: Yeah, but if you *don’t* take my side, it looks like you agree with her that I’m spoiled.

      My mom: Well, what do you want from me?

      Me: Not to have to go to Aunt C’s house?

      My mom: Like I’m gonna let you stay home by yourself.

    23. Gnome*

      I am SO sorry! Your family… doesn’t know what they are talking about. Your kid is SEVEN, not 17. She needs to prepare for things like the first day of school and summer camp, NOT the workforce.

      I am neurodivergent + gifted and so are my kids. In your shoes I’d tell them that I know they mean well, but what my kid really needs FROM THEM that NObody else can give them is the love of a grandparent/aunt. The rest of the world can do the toughening. I’d let them know that it hurts anyone to constantly be corrected AND that nobody can work on everything at once. If you think it will help them, share the ONE THING you are working on, so they can be “in the loop” and supportive, but tell them everything else that isn’t safety related needs to be dropped. So, if it’s clearing the table after eating a snack, that’s where the reminders are.. NOTHING else.

      And if they can’t deal with it, limit her time with them. Seriously.

      As a kid, it would have been lovely if my parents had ever told me “good job” or “I like the way you did X” or “thank you for Y.” Heck, I once tied for first place in something and ALL I heard about on the way home was “if you’d done X, you would have won.” I dropped that activity like a ton of bricks.

      The best strategy I have found is to avoid these sorts as much as possible, tell my kid when they do something right (or try something new, try a new way, work hard, etc) and make sure the positives get as much air time. And I try to be there to support, of course.

      And when you have to spend time with family like this, try to make activities all stuff that can’t be done “wrong” (like art, watching a movie, etc.).

      I know I’m a random internet stranger, but please tell your kid that I’m rooting for them, they are absolutely worthy and give her a high five from me.

    24. Janeric*

      I don’t think you can give her the tools to protect herself, because you obviously lack them for yourself — probably a therapist familiar with ADHD and maybe play therapy could be a significant assist to processing trauma if you think she’s going to be in similarly abusive situations going forward.

    25. Observer*

      If you were a neurodivergent kid, what did you need to hear from your parents and authority figures growing up? If you’re the parent of a neurodivergent kid now, are there any strategies you’ve come across to help navigate all these negative messages kids are getting from their family members, teachers, camp counsellors, etc?

      I’m not sure that what your daughter needs is any different in this respect to what a perfectly neuro-typical kid needs.

      The level of criticism your family is dishing out is insane. They are nitpicking her to pieces. And it’s simple baloney that this is what she should expect in the work world. This kind of thing doesn’t happen in reasonably functional workplaces.

      Also, neither neuro-typical nor neuro-diverse get “tough” through constant criticism. It doesn’t work that way at all. It’s like trying to make your kid resistant to arsenic by feeding her arsenic. And vaccinations are given in very, very measured and relatively low doses – preferably using either pieces of the virus (or mrna), dead viruses or other viruses that can’t make people sick. You don’t inoculate people against disease x by injecting a full load of that virus! And that’s essentially what they are doing.

      I think you know all of this, but I think that you need to lay this out to them this way. And if that doesn’t work, you should probably limit how much time your kid spends with them till she’s old enough to understand that their nit-pickiness is not really about her.

      1. Former gifted child*

        Adhd and former gifted child here…

        There’s a lot of good points above, and I almost hesitate to add anything because it sounds like you’ve tried everything up to and including leaving, and I can only imagine how overwhelming it is to hear so many people tell you that your kid is being emotionally abused and you aren’t doing enough. Someone said “do more of what you’re doing, earlier” and I think that’s the right idea. You already have good strategies, but if you and your kid are still a wreck after time with your family then it’s time to step it up. Do you give them three strikes before you leave? Make it two. And then keep raising your standards until neither you or your daughter feels worse when you left than when you arrived. If that means you don’t go at all, then you don’t go at all. If you need to replace time with your family with other supports like chosen family, therapy, support groups, do that.

        No one was ever this mean to me as a child, and I still had to do a lot of therapy to learn how to get myself out of bad situations and relationships. Basically imagine your daughter is 22 and this is how her future partner or her friend talks to her. What do you want her to do? Leave and find someone who treats her better? Then that’s what you’ll have to show her how to do. For me learning how to do that has been in two parts: 1) set and maintain boundaries (included in this is recognizing yellow and red flags, of which your family offers some great examples) and 2) make sure you have the support you need so you don’t compromise on your boundaries. It’s a lot harder to walk away from people who are treating you poorly when they’re all you’ve got.

        Is there any chance you yourself are having a hard time setting the boundaries you and your daughter need because your mom and sister are “all you’ve got”? Or most of what you’ve got?

    26. Former Gifted Child*

      My first comment was a nesting fail but I just wanted to add two things:

      1) Your family sounds exhausting and it might be easier to take a break from them until they meet certain standards, like maybe apologizing for their behaviour and promising to leave any criticism entirely to you. Once they manage that maybe ease back in with shorter visits (ideally on neutral ground) that are less work for you (can they make the trip to you?) and see if they keep their word. I originally suggested holding them to increasingly higher standards, but on second thoughts you and your daughter really deserve a break and chance to reset. They crossed all sorts of lines and you don’t need to wait for them to agree with you about it before you put them on probation. All of which is MUCH easier said than done, so I hope you have lots of support in figuring this out! Captain Awkward has some great advice on family and boundaries if you need to be reminded that you’re not alone and that this stuff is just really, really hard.

      2) To answer your actual question about what I needed to hear from my parents growing up… you’re already saying it! You said “I try to give her the benefit of the doubt when she makes a genuine mistake, and I try to work explicitly with her on behavioural strategies to mitigate some of the effects.” and that is absolutely what I needed from my parents. They refused to follow up on recommendations to get a diagnosis so in many ways you’re already doing what I wish they had done for me**. It truly warms my heart to see parents like you taking the time to understand their kids and figure out how to support them. I also would have loved to have my parents model how to get help when you need it, and how to to keep trying solutions until you find one that works (I’m thinking specifically of mental health stuff and situations like the one with your family, but it’s a very broadly applicable skill). Finally, especially for gifted neurodiverse girls/ AFAB kids it is so SO important to be praised for working at things that are not easy. I know I wasn’t alone in being praised only for things that came easily (English) and internalizing that I shouldn’t try at things took even slightly more effort (STEM). A lot of us ended up with the opposite of a growth mindset, convinced that we could only accomplish what was effortless and that if something required effort it meant we were just bad at it. No one ever taught us how to break things down and work slowly and steadily to master something that we didn’t understand at the first go. Most gifted kids aren’t equally talented at every subject and it’s easy to get left behind in the ones you don’t excel at. Articles like this really resonated for me when I was in my 20s: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/06/the-s-word/397205/

      **That said, no one was ever as mean to me as your family is being to your daughter, so that part will require different solutions

      You sound like a wonderful parent and your daughter is lucky to have you in her corner! I hope you have the support you need while you’re working so hard to get her the supports she needs <3

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I too was a child of very uneven talents, and I came out of it with the exact opposite of a growth mindset. When I was good at stuff, I wasn’t even trying, and the other kids had absolutely no chance of keeping up no matter how hard they worked. When I was bad at stuff, I was so far behind that it didn’t matter anymore either, I was never going to catch up no matter what I did. Why would I try, when the only possibility is failure, and my pathetic attempt will get me laughed at by kids and adults alike? Even fear of punishment didn’t work on me – I’d figured out that adults on a power trip won’t believe that you can’t do things “anyone can do”, and thus would interpret my genuine inability to comply as willful disobedience. Might as well skip the humiliation and go right to the punishment for willful disobedience.

        Yeah, it nearly broke me when I found myself at the limit of my talents. I was going to have to…work. Like a pathetic failure. Also, I didn’t know how to get better at things! That’s a skill you really do need to get anywhere in life, no matter how much talent you have. The earlier you learn it, the better.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          It took me decades after high school to learn how to learn things that were hard. I still avoid them unless I’m *really* motivated. There aren’t many, but they’re still there.

    27. GingerNP*

      I just want to tell you that you are a good mom.
      My kid is pretty smart but otherwise NT, as far as I can tell, but I’ve had to work really hard to combat the constant criticism he got from his dad (my ex) for years. He’s 16 and we moved out of that house when he was 12 – and it has taken a long time for him to a) stop apologizing for the smallest mistakes and b) no longer cringe in fear when he does actually screw up. It’s an ongoing process.
      Whatever you can do to give her positive feedback will be helpful – but it’s also reasonable to say “just because you do things different than people expect doesn’t mean the way you do them is wrong.” My other piece of advice would be to avoid voluntarily spending time with the family members that have so little regard for her feelings. She’s 7. They can eff off. Family is supposed to be a soft place to land.

  3. Sabine the Very Mean*

    Seamsperson help needed:

    I found a great casual dress at Kohls. 100% cotton. Bottom front, sleeves, pockets, and a belt. Nearly perfect but it has ruching at the shoulder where the sleeve and shoulder are sewn together. I’m a boxer with very broad shoulder so this makes me look like a linebacker. There’s no elastic but is just gathered and sewn into the seam that way. Any suggestions for removing the ruching or somehow removing the puff that results?

    1. Down with puffy sleeves*

      Technically, you could snip the threads that created the ruch and pull them out, but it’s hard to know on a commercial garment what the shape of the fabric will be then or if you can even get at the threads. It will also be wrinkled as heck, which may or may not be solvable with an iron.

      p.s. Who says linebacker is a bad look?

      1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        Seconded! I (femme-presenting NB) also have big shoulders and I am very vain of them.

        That said, if you want actual practical sewing advice, you can look up a sewing tutorial on converting a standard sleeve pattern piece to a puff sleeve. That will give you a visual to how the excess fabric was added. Basically all you want to do is flip the garment inside-out and pinch out (first with pins, then with stitches) that excess fabric (probably the least disruptive way is with a few evenly-placed darts– by which I mean pinch out sharp pointy triangles of fabric that have their base at the shoulder seam and are pointing along the line of your arm down toward your elbow.) I’ll see if I can find a good diagram and post a pink to it in a reply.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*


          I cannot believe there is a puffed sleeves dot com, but TIL, I guess. Anyway, scroll down to the little diagram for “puffed sleeve with gathering at the head”. The process it’s showing is going from left to right to make it more puffy with those triangles of excess fabric, so you want to go backwards, right to left to make it LESS puffy by taking those triangles out.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      To alter it properly, the sleeve would need to be removed from the armhole entirely and reshaped.

      From the picture, I can’t tell whether the sleeve cap is too high or the sleeve itself too wide.

      Draw a new seam line where you think the cap should be, and BASTE the sleeve back in place – don’t cut off the excess until you’re sure it will work. If the problem is the shape of the sleeve cap, this should work, though it might take a couple of tries.

      If the sleeve itself is too wide, the sleeve seam will need to be taken in as well as reshaping the sleeve cap. Are your arms muscular or slender? Be careful not to make the sleeve too narrow.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Okay, I am not sure whether the link got messed up or if there’s a terminology issue, but I don’t see any ruching on the top of the sleeve in that photo. Generally, a sleeve that has a puff at the shoulder would be gathered into the armscye (arm hole). I am not seeing much of a puff in the photo, but there could be a little bit.

      If that’s what we’re talking about, it’s not going to be easy to remove.

      You could unpick the whole top half of the sleeve and spread the fabric out so the excess is more evenly distributed. But if you aren’t an experienced sewist, that is unlikely to turn out well.

      It’s possible that you could try to tuck the puff inside the shoulder and tack it down with a few hand stitches. You could try pinning it in place to see if that would work.

      Or you could try to flatten/minimize the puff by pressing it.

      Is the fabric woven or knit? If it’s knit, you might be able to get away with stretching the arm holes in such a way that helps you spread the puff out a bit to flatten it. But that will change the way the dress hangs and could come out uneven.

      Okay, on second look, I notice that the way it fits on the model, the shoulder seam is not right at the point of her shoulder. You can see it better in the back view. The shoulder seam comes down a bit onto her rear deltoid rather than being right at the pivot point.

      Is that the way it fits on you? Because having that extra ease at the shoulder will make the sleeve lie flatter. If your shoulder seam is stiiting right on top of your shoulder, it is going to make any puff stand up and out more.

      Maybe go up a size (or two) until it fits you better in the shoulders. With the belt, you can nip in the waist. Or if it needs alterations, taking it in at the sides or hemming the length are a lot easier than reworking the sleeve cap.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        Yeah that’s why I was surprised to try it on when I got it to see so much puff. It doesn’t look like it would be so puffy in the pics. There is a fair amount of room in the sleeve and shoulder and I do what you suggested and tuck the puff with my fingers in the mirror when trying on. And that does seem like it could work but I worry it might end up looking worse. Thanks for your ideas!

    4. Willow*

      This is a tricky alteration. I would recommend taking it to a professional rather than just trying it yourself.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Agreed. There be dragons in armscyes. Do not mess with them unless you truly know what you’re doing.

    5. HannahS*

      Hm, that’s a pretty tough repair. I see two options:
      Quick and dirty: tuck/fold the excess fabric that’s along the top of the sleeve under the shoulder and sew it into place.

      The proper way is to remove the sleeve, re-cut the sleeve head, and sew it back on. Would not recommend unless you already know how to construct clothes!

      Also…what’s with commenters correcting someone who doesn’t want to wear clothes that they don’t find like? I don’t think that having a healthy relationship to your body means you have to feel that every silhouette is ~beautiful~.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        Thank you. I simply choose not to look beefy but I do exclusively date stud masc women so I do like the aesthetic on others!

    1. Cj*

      Is this one Eve? I don’t always remember. I know Alison has a list and pictures somewhere, but I thought maybe someone would remember off the top of their head.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I think this might be Olive. I have seen the list of names in the past but can’t find it now.

        1. SarahKay*

          If you’re on a computer, hover your mouse over the picture – Alison always adds the cats’ names in the descriptions. This week’s is Olive – and she is indeed gorgeous.

  4. KoiFeeder*

    Thoughts on Nope? I’m tempted to go see it, but I don’t know if it’s streamed or theaters-only, and if the latter it’ll have to be VERY good for me to be willing to risk it…

    1. Bluebell*

      I saw it this weekend at a drive in and really enjoyed it. The actors are very good, and I loved the way all of the pieces clicked into place. There were definitely scenes that benefitted from seeing them on a large screen. So far it’s my favorite movie of the summer (also saw Maverick, Jurassic and Thor – kind of sad this was the only original one!)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve seen very good reviews, and specifically re seeing it in a good theater, like Imax, if you can, because the sound is designed to really work with the speaker layout and does some neat stuff that is only evident if you are a theater with such a sound system.

      That said, I have muscle problems that mean sitting still without moving for more than an hour isn’t worth any payback, and the pandemic solidified a switch to just waiting until I could watch on a TV with a pause button so I can move around occasionally.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I LOVED it. The acting was great and the writing smart and layered. I crush a little on Daniel Kaluuya, so I would have seen it regardless of venue. But I definitely recommend your first viewing in the theater. The wide-open spaces contribute to the sense of paranoia and the creature is best on the big screen. There are a couple of gross parts but overall, it’s not relentlessly intense like a slasher film, except for the Gordy scenes.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        FWIW I don’t think the Gordy scenes are as intense as anything in Us or (the ending of) Get Out, if that’s helpful to people considering seeing it!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          True, but the longer one is a bit unflinching. If you’re a Jordan Peele fan, though, you know what to expect.

    4. mreasy*

      It was a big showy fun film with some stunning visuals so it’s a good candidate for the theater! I loved it.

    5. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I would definitely see it on the big screen! If you are concerned about COVID risk, the movie has been out for a while now so I doubt the theater would be very crowded.

  5. Iowa22*

    Different username than usual for this one, but anyone headed to the Iowa State Fair? I’m going on Saturday when it’s going to be in the mid-90s and I also grew up with no humidity so it might be a bit of a struggle. But I haven’t been in 12 years, so I’m excited to go and check it all out. I will not be eating all the crazy food except I do want to try the caprese salad on a stick. Other than that I’ll just be going with the normal corn dog and things like that. I want to go to all the barns and see all the animals. I’m not huge on carnival type rides but we’ll see if any interest me, I do love carnival games so I’m hoping they have some good ones.
    If you’re not going to the Iowa fair, does your state have something similar and do you go?

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Mine has a blacksmithing demonstration this sunday and is the only reason I’m leaving my apartment this week.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      We have gone to the WI state fair three times in the past week. Our favorites:

      * The children’s barn with the baby animals
      * The dog agility contest
      * The horticulture building, with the prize-winning flowers, vegetables, and baked goods. And the quilts. And the photos. There are always at least a few cat photos that win.
      * The amazing new foods. We tried four of them: Fried cheese curd and pickle tacos, pretzel-wrapped jalapeno brat, flaming hot Cheetos covered chicken on a stick, and black bean burrito balls. They were all delicious and now we are done with that kind of food for a year.
      * The goats. The goats are so cool! So are the chickens!
      * The draft horses show. Percherons, Belgians – all dressed up and gorgeous and huge. We saw a ten in hand contest a few years ago.
      * The hatching and newly-hatched chicks
      * The WI Dept of Natural Resources area – it’s wooded and quiet and almost nobody goes there. In the display buildings, they have fish. And they have master gardeners there to answer your gardening questions.
      * The The Kids from Wisconsin, a musical show with high-school kids from around the state. (Although it’s always so white. Soooo white. I wish they would include some of the non-white kids here – WI does have Black, Hmong, Hispanic, and Native American people as well.)
      * The people watching is amazing and sometimes a bit frightening. So many hostile t-shirts.

    3. Angstrom*

      I as a 4-H kid in a small New England town that had a classic fall fair — local agricultural plus traveling midway. I still go back. Favorite event to watch is the youth oxen obstacle course.

    4. Hiker*

      The pie! Half the reason I live the Iowa state fair is all of the pie.
      Actually, I love homemade pie anywhere!

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      When we lived in MSP we went to the MN State Fair a few times. It was pretty…. epic I have to say. Expensive too – we learned really quick to share all sorts of food things! We looked at the 4H competitions for beef cattle, cows, the sheep barn, the quilts and jams and breads and cakes competitions, learned about wine making, watched live veterinarian demonstrations on uh, fixing cats, met political candidate type people, and hung out for an hour in an arena watching some sort of barrel racing competition which was so much fun. I dont remember if it was mixed class, but this little girl about 10 or so came tearing out on what was probably her older brother’s pony, fearless as could be, little sparkly shirt on and jeans and boots. The crowd loved her and while she didn’t win, she was such a favorite they sent her out for another run at the end. MN state fair is absolutely huge though – I think only TX is bigger?

  6. Gyne*

    Has anyone bought or tried the Pipersong meditation chair and if so, what did you think of it? I’d also love to hear any recommendations for other “nontraditional” office chairs.

    1. Ranon*

      I have an Ikaria Soul Seat and like it a lot- great for folks like me who want to be cross legged or have their legs tucked under them all the time

  7. ThatGirl*

    Any recommendations on places to buy flattering sleeved work-appropriate dresses for a size 16? One of our directors has the cutest collection, I keep forgetting to ask her where she shops. Lots of button-front, almost shirt-dress style.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      My post above was a result of my looking up cotton button front shirt dresses. I found tons at Kohls. Lands end and Croft and Barrow brands. I’m a 12 who usually busts out of the top but these fit well.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I buy a lot of tshirts at Torrid, but haven’t tried any dresses yet. Might be worth a look though.

      2. Voluptuousfire*

        Second Torrid (pretty Much for anything) but wouldn’t be surprised about them quietly closing stores. They went on a spree of opening stores in 2016 or so, so I could see them closing underperforming stores. I hope they don’t close mine.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Old Navy. Seriously. Even if you are larger than a size 16. I always get compliments on my dresses and people are also always shocked when I tell them I got them at Old Navy. They are affordable too. The styles come and go fast, though, so what’s there today won’t be there next week if you hesitate.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I just bought some dresses at eshakti and I absolutely hated them.

        I think I’m not good at imagining how dresses will look on me so I chose poorly, I guess.

        I don’t know how you all do it. Many of the things I like there I have not seen before to try on. Or when I do try them on, it seems like the fit is the problem, not the shape or color or whatever. But I learned that the eshakti dress that fit looked aweful on me. And the other one did not fit, despite being to my measurements.

        Idk why but when I try on clothes that are supposed to fit my waist, they are often too big for my waist and swim on me.

        Also, I have a general sense of fabrics but I hated the fabric on one dress. I have a dress that is labeled with the same fabric that I love but it was very different, weight, feel, flow, etc.

        Ok, rant done! I don’t as really hopeful about eshakti! Any other in-person suggestions?

        1. ThatGirl*

          I have looked around eshakti, but I need to know a certain style will look good on me before I order it online, because I’m not always good at imagining that either.

        2. KatEnigma*

          I didn’t like them either. I did all my measurements, and I’m know what silhouettes I like, but nothing I ordered from them fit right.

      2. OyHiOh*

        I’m starting to wear a lot of eShakti dresses and high waist pants. The cotton poplin dresses translate from the model to my body very well. They do not use wrinkle resistant cotton though so be prepared to iron! Some of the jersey dresses wear ok too, but some look like dresses cut from a track suit.

    3. Saddesklunch*

      This is on the pricier side, but universal standard has really nice workwear in sizes 00 to size 40.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Ooh, I got the universal standard Geneva dress in petite and love it!! Great for work or going out.

        1. the cat's ass*

          came here to say this! Universal Standard is wonderful and they even have sales! I also like WildFang and Boden. Wide range of sizes and patterns/colors.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I got a Geneva dress in the January mystery sale, and I didn’t realize US has a following. I walked into my eye doctors appointment, and the first thing the receptionist said was, “Is that a GENEVA!?”

          It’s very comfortable and flattering. One thing I’ve noticed about the US clothing, is the fabrics seem to hold a stain more than any of my other clothing. I’m always dropping something on top of my bosom, and on my cheaper clothing, the stains come right out with not pre-treatment or anything. If I drop anything on my US clothing, I have to immediately pre-treat and throw it in the washer (which fortunately I can with WFH)

      2. ThatGirl*

        Willing to spend more if I love it, but will have to check their return policies… I like to try things on first if possible!

        1. Jay*

          Their return policy on full-priced garments is great. Some of the sale stuff is final sale – it’s usually prominently marked. Love love love their clothes. Wonderful fabric, well-made, gorgeous colors.

        2. Saddesklunch*

          They make returns really easy – they have a partnership with fedex so you just process the return online and then take the garment and the email to fedex and they do the rest!

    4. Hello*

      Lane Bryant. Pricey, but I shop their clearance sales. Online clearance prices are really good. I got several really nice, well-made, flattering dresses for less than $20 each.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I love Lane Bryant. Bitterly disappointed to find out they closed my local store; the nearest ones are now 4 – 5 hours away.

      1. Lindsay*

        I find that those stores (Nordstrom Rack and Loft) have a fair amount of 16s, XXL, 1X etc because larger people don’t think they carry those sizes there so there’s a fair amount of plus-size stuff (just on the edge of plus size). Loft also vanity sizes so I usually fit into their L, XL stuff with no issue. (I’m a size 16/18).

    5. Sydney Bristow*

      Boden! They have a ton of really cute patterns. It is almost the only place I shop for work wear anymore.

    6. AnonAcademic*

      It depends on whether you want your workplace gear to be quirky, but I love Svaha, which has lots of science-themed dresses (and a few literary ones etc. as well, as well as the occasional plain solid-color.) All dresses have pockets, and easily accomodate my large upper-arms. I usually wear a size 18.

  8. AnonyMouse*

    Are you a birthday/holiday person or not? What is your mindset toward celebrations, particularly with gift giving? I would say I’m not overly into birthdays and gift giving certainly isn’t my love language, but I do feel disappointed that my spouse isn’t into holidays at all.

    1. Manders*

      I’m with your husband on this one. Sorry. I’m not materialistic in any way, so I actually really don’t ever want gifts, and that sort of colors my giving style, correctly or not. I’m in a place in my life where I can buy what I need, and I don’t like having a lot of extraneous stuff around, so I’m not that into stuff that I didn’t pick out myself. LOVE gifts that are either experiences or consumable though, and that’s what I tend to give.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I like acknowledgement and celebratory things like special holiday food, music, or holiday parties and some amount of decorations. (Not huge all-over-the house stuff, but a few things). For birthdays, we have a felt bunting I made for the children and keep using for everyone.

      I like giving gifts, especially stuff I make. I don’t care about getting big or expensive gifts, but I like experiences or little things I can use.

      I don’t mind if I don’t hear from other people, and I don’t mind if my spouse doesn’t get me a gift, but I would be disappointed if I didn’t get a verbal “happy birthday” or coffee in bed, maybe a card.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        I think this is basically where I fall! It isn’t actually about a gift, but the special feeling of the day. Last year spouse did not even wish me a happy birthday in the morning – hoping that changes this year. I also would love to do more family traditions on Christmas, like my family always did, even though I’m fine without doing big gifts.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Tell him you want to be wished happy birthday! He doesn’t have to have your exact feelings in order to respect them. If you want him to share your feelings and enthusiasm as well, stack the deck a little. Make the new traditions with his preferences in mind, like his favourite foods or games or film genres. Be a salesperson: “What will it take to get you into this holiday?”

          1. UKDancer*

            This so much. My ex wasn’t into birthdays or Christmas but I told him I was and it would be something I’d like him to acknowledge. I didn’t expect a massive and expensive gift but I wanted a card and something as it showed he thought of me. I don’t think he ever understood why I wanted this but he accepted that I did. In return there were things he wanted to do that I didn’t understand but did them because he wanted to do them (mainly watching Eurovision and having a party).

          2. RagingADHD*

            This is true. He doesn’t have to be personally into it to do things that make you feel loved.

            “It’s not my love language” may make a person a little awkward with something. It doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t try to speak someone else’s love language.

          3. AnonyMouse*

            I really like the idea of framing it as “what will it take to get you into this holiday” and then making those things traditions. I think like other posters have said, part of the appeal of holiday traditions is just having something to look forward to and mark the passage of the year with special days. The actual tradition itself could look different.

        2. Kay*

          Ooooo-I can relate there. I got in really big trouble one year for not doing the birthday greeting till far too late in the day. As someone who couldn’t care less about holidays/birthdays, and only cares about gifts if they are truly great gifts for either giving or receiving (an experience that the receiver will definitely want, something specific they like, etc. Costs isn’t key here, but the nature of the gift) I certainly took to heart the fact that my spouse wants some kind of acknowledgement from me, preferably before anyone else (as I was very emphatically informed)! Duly noted and haven’t forgotten since.

          It certainly has taken me a while to get where I’m at on the gift/holiday stance, but I can buy what I need and am confident in my place in life. So, unless you happen to have found that obscure book I’ve been wanting or a stash of my favorite exotic fruit for example – I don’t need a crappy bottle of wine, clothes not to my taste, a candle, you get the idea, nor do I want to give mediocrity either.

          So my advice, say something! I would have been fine letting birthdays & holidays slide without further thought, but if it means that much to my spouse, he is getting a “Happy Birthday” first thing in the morning and perhaps at minimum some extra verbal fluff. If you have a halfway decent spouse they should be able to step up.

    3. Disco Janet*

      Gift giving is definitely one of my love languages – I’m one of those people who just has a knack for making note of or remembering some little comment a friend or relative made months before the occasion that helps me figure out the perfect gift for them.

      My husband is not as into it, which can be a bit of a bummer, but we have a pretty good system. Part of his thing is he’s big on saving money and doesn’t ever want to spend it on himself, so I stick to thoughtful but inexpensive gifts for him, and always write him a note instead of buying a card. And when I see something I really like, I text him a link with a little message about how cool/pretty/whatever it is, and to maybe file it away in his brain (or phone) for a future idea. Then I never know which item he’ll end up picking since I usually send multiple, so still a tiny element of surprise, and he isn’t stressing over what to get me and if I’ll like it.

      It used to disappoint me a tad that I’m kinda picking out my own gift, but I got over that pretty quickly because this system works so well for us.

    4. Lingret*

      Birthday gifts and small get-togethers are probably my biggest love language. I think it’s because my birthday is REALLY close to Christmas.
      I love presents! Could be a $5 hand cream and I’d be happy. And up to expensive clothes, vacations, etc. Along with the simple/inexpensive and up to extravagant/expensive – please know me. I’d rather have nothing than something that’s not me. Promise I’ll forget about it. :-)
      I imagine this is prevalent amongst those with birthdays close to Christmas. Many times a gift would “count” for both. I think that’s what made me sensitive about it.

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

      Not. It’s not the gift giving, which I do like giving gifts, I just hate the contrived over-hyped culture of holidays and birthdays these days — the food, decoration, travel, expectations… Everything has to be unique but still traditional and so extra! I’m good with socks for Christmas, and a pizza, or pasta…I don’t need foods I only eat one time a year…except maybe pie…I’ll eat the pie.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        OMG, for months, it’s ALL CHRISTMAS ALL THE TIME in all public spaces and in stores and in restaurants and everywhere. You can’t get away from it.
        Costco ALREADY had the Christmas stuff out. Yes, even trees. In August.
        American Christmas is a bit…much.

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

          Right? But it isn’t even just Christmas anymore. Personal occasions are so over the top now…birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. Back in MY DAY, we just went to dinner…grump grump grump.

            1. Maggie*

              To have fun with your friends and a reason to take a trip together! Why not?! No one’s forced to go

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              The bachelorette used to be just a night of drinking and playing silly games and most likely sleeping over at one of the ladies’ house. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the current trend of whole weekends in another city. I think maybe wealthier people always did that, and it’s now trickled down as an aspirational habit for nearly everyone else. But just overall, holidays (and celebrations that didn’t used to exist) have become more . . . MORE than they used to be, as far as I recall. Everyone’s just a little more extra about it than people used to be. Some of it I enjoy (I like extra) and some of it seems like it would be exhausting.

    6. Double A*

      Gifts have become more of a love language for me as I’ve gotten older, I don’t really know why. It really touches me when someone gets me something because they thought of me when they saw it. I’ve always liked stuff and knick knacks. I keep a lot of my memories in objects so I have things around that remind me of people I love and I think of them when I see those objects around me.

      I think holidays are really important. Ritual and traditions are things that bind humans together, and in the US at least most of our ritual and tradition is tied to holidays. I like how they mark the changing of the seasons and the cycle of the year. Again, as I’ve gotten older and had kids they’ve gotten more important.

      My husband literally could not care less about any of it and it makes me pretty sad because it just means the year marches by in monotony and there’s no designated special moments (and he doesn’t create, like, other spontaneous special moments). I do things for the holidays and my kids like and, but it feels kind of lonely since my husband doesn’t care. He’s not mean about it, he just doesn’t really want to do it. I mean this year he didn’t even wish me a happy birthday (I was on a trip but still). He wouldn’t care if I didn’t acknowledge his but I have to admit it hurt when he didn’t acknowledge mine.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        I am with your husband. I am not a good gift giver or receiver, the whole process feels super awkward to me. And I am not a romantic person at all nor I am sentimental/nostalgic, so “special moment” mean basically zero. I don’t even have any photos displayed in my house, and holiday cards go straight in to recycling.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I admit that I sort of agree. I mean, I’d feel a bit slighted if my husband didn’t at least wish me a happy birthday, but we stopped giving birthday presents to each other when we moved in together, and my side of the family stopped exchanging Christmas presents with the adult members of the family a few years before Covid. Luckily for us, our son doesn’t mind if he gets mainly clothes for Christmas… We usually get him one bigger ticket item, such as a phone or a games console, but he woulnd’t dream of considering it necessary to upgrade his phone every year, thank goodness. We have more stuff than we know what to do with, and I’m honestly very bad at remembering where I got things from and when.

          For me, the most important things about the holidays is getting to spend time with people I love and who love me, not gifts.

          One of the joys of being an adult is that I can buy the things I need, and some of the things I want, without having to wait for a “special occasion” to get it. Shopping is also one of my least favorite things to do, and the stress of getting someone else a gift is always greater than the pleasure I get from receiving a gift, no matter how much thought the giver has put into it.

          TLDR; I’m not big on gifts, but if my husband didn’t acknowledge my birthday at all, I’d feel a bit bummed about it.

      2. Maggie*

        Not telling you happy birthday when he knows it means something to you is very mean. It’s cruel even considering it’s literally saying or texting two words.

    7. Cedrus Libani*

      I don’t really care about the gifts, but I do appreciate a celebratory occasion. It breaks up the routine. You’ve got an excuse to gather with far-flung people you don’t see that often, while engaging in fun, quirky, and/or nostalgic traditions…okay, the activities are often the sort of thing that’s only fun in small doses, and some of the people are too, but it’s been a whole year! You miss them!

      I will admit that I’m a bit sad that my husband isn’t attached to the traditional American holidays. I’m the atheist child of atheist parents, but we’re white and culturally Christian, so we did the big family to-do for Christmas and Easter. Husband is a second-generation immigrant and culturally Buddhist, so his early memories of these holidays involved watching other people celebrate and feeling like the odd one out. He does like birthdays and anniversaries, though. Also, his family leans into weddings / funerals / etc as the semi-regular excuse to be all in the same place at once; it works for them.

    8. Helvetica*

      I love my birthday, and every time AAM commentariat veers towards “why would any adult ever care about their birthday??”, I feel like an outlier. I like getting together with people who love me, and the feeling of being acknowledged. So when people say they don’t care about their birthdays, I don’t fully get it but I would never pressure anyone into celebrations. I just really enjoy the birthday feeling, which is more important than gifts.
      There are holidays I don’t care about, though – like New Year’s Eve. I’ve never really felt the significance there. I’m neutral about Valentine’s Day in that it is nice to be together with your partner but I dislike the pressure to do something on this day, rather than having a continuously meaningful relationship.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        See, I will take the whole week for my birthday, and I want a cake, and I’m just going to please myself generally and not do any boring life stuff. However I completely get the elements of the commentariat who don’t want to do it personally, or who feel press ganged into performing for other people’s birthdays. There’s room for personal preferences and most of the “be an adult complaints” come from having theirs ignored, I think.

      2. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        Oh, New Year’s. When Mr. Devore and I started dating, I was and he became part of a friend group that had house parties on NYE. Fantastic! No bar/club cover charges, no paying jacked-up prices for one drink, people could walk home or sleep over instead of someone having to DD and risk other drivers not being sober, *and* we were free to consume something that is now legal in Colorado and some other states…Point is, we had a blast. Nowadays, everyone we hang out with either does a pub crawl on NYE, which to us is expensive and stressful, or they don’t do anything because it’s just another night for them. So we stay home and try to whoop it up as a duo.

      3. londonedit*

        I’m with you! I love my birthday and usually joke about having at least a birthday week, if not a birthday month. It’s not about forcing people to make a fuss of me or making people give me gifts (I’d rather ‘do things’ than receive gifts anyway) but I will take any excuse to get some friends together, go out for a nice dinner, treat myself to a massage or a spa day, take a day/week off work, that sort of thing. Last year I had a big birthday and took the week off work – I went for a half-day spa thing with a massage and facial, went out for dinner with a few friends, and then went to stay with my family for a few days and did a couple of trips out for lunch/coffee/cake with my parents. It was so nice that I’ve booked the whole week of my birthday off this year too – I have enough holiday to do it and it’s great fun being able to take a week to do whatever I want.

        Have to say I’m not keen on New Year’s Eve either – I absolutely love Christmas and I love that quiet period in between Christmas and New Year, but for me by the time I get to New Year’s Eve I feel like I’ve eaten too much and I’m thinking about going back to work and I’m sad that the Christmas break is nearly over. I try to see it as one last bit of fun before the tedium of January starts, but it isn’t easy!

    9. Asenath*

      Definitely not a birthday person, and haven’t been since I was a child. I don’t celebrate and only one person still gives me a gift (which I accept, because of the thought behind it and because no big fuss is made about it). Other holidays – I generally either ignore, or if they’re important to me (like Christmas is) I mark in a very low-key way that I’ve developed over the years. I do try to acknowledge birthdays and holidays that other people are celebrating, mainly with good wishes. This is just what I’m comfortable with.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      I fall in the middle. I’m not a big “whole weekend of partying for my birthday” type of person, but I love Christmas, I love the way people seem to be in a better mood and there is a general festive atmosphere around everywhere and gift giving is rather my love language. I enjoy finding the perfect gift for somebody, not necessarily expensive but meaningful (two I’ve bought recently for birthdays in October – yes, I’m organised! – are a personalised book for a friend, which to be honest is more for her toddler, but she is returning to work in September, about 5 weeks before her birthday, after a year’s maternity leave and it’s a children’t book about “what does *child’s name’s* mammy do all day?” and ends with how excited the child is to see her come home and the other is for the teenage son of a friend in Denmark for whom I’ve gotten a model of an Irish 17th century hero in traditional dress).

      I was really hoping school wouldn’t close for my 40th (which fell during covid) because I wanted the celebrations we do for big birthdays. We didn’t close and my colleagues did the usual card, collection and cake, without going overboard. For people who are big into parties and stuff, we often have a full party but I think they figured I would prefer to keep things low-key and they were right.

    11. Astoria*

      My friends and I periodically have birthday gatherings at a restaurant and exchange gifts. I would just as soon skip the gifts, since we usually just get each other gift cards. Mine is a minority opinion, so I go along to get along.

    12. Sloanicota*

      I like to celebrate the day little but I *don’t* like the pressure around having other people celebrate you – from either end. I don’t like that if I’ve got plans one night it’s like I don’t love my friend now because it’s her Big Day so I need to prioritize her; I do love my friend, but I’m also in a big social circle so it’s someone’s Big Day almost every week (we are mid-thirties?? I think it’s okay to let 37 slip by some years?). I try not to do that to other people – I pick something I want to do solo, maybe take the day off if I can swing it, order food that feels like a treat. On “big years” I try to organize a special treat.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m a gift-giver, but not necessarily a holiday person. I give my gifts whenever the urge strikes, rather than wait for a specific occasion, for the most part. Expensive stuff I want to give my husband or brother, I’ll bookmark on my online shopping list for Christmas, because if I buy it now then I’ll forget where I put it by then, but everyday stuff like a silly t-shirt or whatnot I give the recipient right away. This has the added bonus of, people don’t fuss at me if I don’t do birthday presents, because I forget birthdays and the people I’d give birthday presents to, I’ve probably already given them three or four things over the course of the year anyway.

    14. Lifeandlimb*

      I’ve never been much of a birthday or holiday gift-giving person. My birthday falls during a time of winter when people would be distracted by other holidays or out of town due to travel, so my friends were often not around to celebrate. I’m also not a big gift-giver by nature; I find gift-giving holidays a little materialistic. My favorite holidays are times like Halloween or Thanksgiving, which are more activity-oriented.

      That said, I don’t mind receiving gifts as long as they’re heartfelt. I’ll take cues from my friends about what is important to them. If Friend A is obviously into birthdays, I will always call them on their birthday or buy them a gift. If Friend B doesn’t seem to mind either way, I might text “happy birthday” and then leave them alone. My spouse is very into celebrating Christmas, which I always felt pretty neutral about, but because I know it means something to him, I’ll buy him a small present and write him a nice Christmas card. I only do so because my loved ones have been generous to me and make efforts to make me feel seen, too.

    15. Not A Manager*

      I love holidays and like to celebrate them with special meals and activities. I’m a poor gift giver and an mostly-unwilling gift receiver, but if I conceptualize the gifting as a special event (“we have brunch and build a fire and open gifts”) then it feels better to me.

      I like to celebrate my own birthday and other people’s with a special experience like a mini-vacation or a destination meal. I give a gift because that’s what you do, but mostly they are perfunctory. My best birthday ever was where I took my extended family on a nice destination vacation and we all did a variety of family activities for a long weekend. They did give me presents, which I mostly don’t remember.

      My own attitude toward receiving gifts is ambivalent at best – frequently I am left with some object that I don’t value in itself, but I feel that I’m expected to cherish it because it was a gift. But occasionally I get a wonderful surprise that I really love, and then it’s true that in addition to enjoying the object, I always recall that it was a special gift from someone.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        I am with you on the receiving gifts. Most of the time it’s something I don’t care for, or have no space for it, or it’s something truly not “me”. I don’t like handmade stuff either except for food, so I appreciate the gesture, but it will still go in to the “donate” pile.
        So I would just rather not. But I am the single voice like this in my family.

    16. Russian in Texas*

      Not really. I hate thinking about gifts, I NEVER know what to get, it breaks my brain and I am that person who gets gift cards for everyone. Or would if it was ok with all people. So now I get food/tea/coffee for the most. We don’t decorate the house for Christmas at all (the combination of laziness and atheism), although we do some outside decor for Halloween – lots of trick or treaters in the neighborhood and it’s fun to make the house “spooky”. We don’t host any holidays, but will go if invited, and bring whatever requested.
      I am also the person who has the Amazon wishlist, and get me the gift from it, please and thank you. And if you give me to yours, I will really appreciate it.
      I don’t care much about my or anyone else birthdays. No gifts are exchanged for birthdays for adults in my circle of friends and in my family. Partner and I have our birthdays only 9 days apart, so we go to a fancy place for dinner.
      My partner likes giving gifts, so I kind of have to, for Christmas. I was giving him good expensive knives for years, but now he has the whole set, and I need to find another “thing”.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        Oh! We do have a Christmas tradition! On Christmas Eve we eat Chinese food and watch Die Hard.
        And on NYE, I bring out some Russian foods I get from the Russian store, and we watch one another of the Die Hard movies until midnight.
        I couldn’t care less for Easter (atheist Jew here), Thanksgiving is ok for the food, Memorial/Labor/Independence days aren’t “holidays” per se, they are days off, sometimes with grilling. I’ve spent some Thanksgivings in an IHOP or a Denny’s, on a road trip with my partner.
        On each 4th of July and NY Day, a group of us usually goes to a Brazilian churrascaria and eat meats. And then we go to someone’s house and play board games.

        1. the cat's ass*

          I love your Christmas tradition-here it’s dim sum, Die Hard and Love, Actually (a mini Alan Rickman film festival, god rest him).
          We do a few small gifts, because we have everything and are in winnowing down mode, except for kid, 16 who gets fun stuff. Generally i do a Thanksgiving thing with folks who are too far away from home to Travel or don’t want to travel. The rest of it is kind of random.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off Nakatomi Plaza! :)

          I do have my Christmas favorites and I do like watching them. I think I would enjoy Christmas more if I had a family of my own, but these days all it does is remind me that I don’t.

          1. the cat's ass*

            YES! come have dim sum with us as we say goodbye to Hans! We don’t have much fam, so everyone is welcome, you just multiply the dim sum by 4 or 5 or 6 or 8 or whatever number you need to feed everyone.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I would love to do that if I could; I’ve never actually had dim sum. I like Chinese food and I like tapas so I’d probably dig it.

    17. cat socks*

      My husband and I don’t exchange gifts for birthdays or Christmas. We do celebrate holidays by hosting Thanksgiving at our house. I will decorate the house for Christmas and I do a Secret Santa Claws gifts exchange online for my cats.

      Both of us are more into experiences, like traveling or trying out a new restaurant.

      For my birthday, I celebrate by taking a day off work and having a say to myself. This year I’m thinking of booking a massage.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I prefer birthday acknowledgement to gifts. I usually buy stuff I want for myself and my family does not pick good gifts. My birthday lands near Memorial Day—most people are out of town, so it’s typically a Me day. :) If I have a partner, I DEFINITELY want him to do something, even if it’s small.

      I’m not so much into Christmas since I don’t really practice Christianity anymore. My dad’s birthday was at Thanksgiving, so we’ll probably have a get-together this year, since this will be our first one without him.

      Halloween is my favorite holiday. I’ve been a horror fan for years; I’m much more likely to decorate for Halloween than anything else. My brother’s birthday is October 31 and I am so jealous, lol. I wish it was my birthday. One of my old skating coaches got married on Halloween. I didn’t get to go (it was in Arkansas and I couldn’t afford travel at the time) but they had a masquerade reception, and MAN, that was cool. I would LOVE to do that.

    19. Jay*

      I love festive parties. I love hosting them and I love attending them. We do two big parties a year (Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving) and in 2020 we hosted a New Year’s Open House that I intended to make an annual tradition….well. Anyway. My husband luckily also loves hosting parties like that so we have fun making it happen together.

      I also really like to have a fuss made over me on my birthday. It doesn’t have to include a present. I want “Happy Birthday” first thing in the morning, a card popping up somewhere, dinner out or some other kind of outing that I didn’t have to plan. I love surprises and it doesn’t have to be on that day – so my husband surprised me this year by making reservations for a special dinner for my birthday. He told me about it when he made the reservation a few weeks ahead of time and it was a lovely surprise then! Made me happy every time I saw it on the calendar after that and it was SO much fun when the day arrived. This did not come naturally to my husband and in fact was the source of a fair amount of conflict between us and we finally settled in with the help of a couples counselor (that wasn’t the only reason we were there). Apparently it made him incredibly anxious because he thought he could screw it up and I would be angry, so he didn’t do it all and then of course I *did* get angry. This was part of a larger unhealthy dynamic that took several years to unravel – and I was so happy this year that we both enjoyed my birthday!

    20. Girasol*

      I used to like gift buying especially for Christmas but my husband and family hate both giving and receiving. And I had to agree that a lot of gifts are stuff that wasn’t really wanted and isn’t used, so it’s just wasted money, clutter, and and land fill. Nowadays I celebrate Christmas with decorations and holiday food, and my birthday with cake (must have cake!), and ignore his birthday because he prefers that. For other holidays maybe a treat or a special outing.

    21. E. Chauvelin*

      I like holidays/birthdays but I don’t care much about gifts for gifts’ sake. I prefer either consumable gifts/experiences (although even there if it’s something I don’t care much about, I may never use that gift certificate – I have a movie gift certificate from 2019 not only for pandemic reasons, but because the closest location of the chain is moderately inconvenient) or specific books that I want. My mother always asks me if there’s anything I want that’s not on my Amazon list and the answer is almost always no. The parts of holidays/birthdays I get into are the special activities and seasonal foods and going out to dinner.

    22. MoMac*

      Totally not interested in my birthday and have no problem if it is forgotten or ignored. Some of that stems from my sober anniversary happening a week and a half before. That is the important one to me but I still don’t like a lot of fuss. A congratulations card works fine.

    23. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I like holidays and birthdays but don’t care about gifts. I don’t like having people around me during holidays who are outspoken against holidays. I understand not wanting the commercial aspects of it but why spoil others’ fun? I had a significant other who loudly complained if holiday music was playing. I never want a gift but I do want my fun unspoiled.

    24. RosyGlasses*

      I love birthdays and celebrations. I love receiving gifts but that are thoughtful. I also love curating gifts for others. My husband didn’t come from a family that seems to really put much thought into gifts (so they often are chintzy – more just how many presents can we open) and not into cards. It’s become a bit of a running joke between my husband and I that I will probably get a birthday card once every ten years :) but I love it when he takes the time to write a thoughtful note.

    25. Random Biter*

      Halloween is my holiday. But when it comes to Christmas I did have a CTJ talk with my daughter a few years ago. While we are both, fortunately, employed, the gift spending was inching towards over the top. My daughter’s pretty practical and had been preaching for years before my mom passed that Grandma had enough dust collectors and 4 closets stuffed full of clothes, some with the tags still attached (that’s another story for the “while cleaning out Mom’s house” thread) so I figured it was time to scale it all back. She’s not a fan of the drawing names thing, and really other than the grandkids who are all young adults now there’s only a handful of the rest of the immediate family that exchanges gifts. End result was we would buy 2 or 3 gifts in a reasonable price range for each other and the kids would get cash. It’s taken a lot of stress out of the gift giving season.

  9. Virtual Light*

    What are your tips for waking up and getting going in the morning, especially accounting for ADHD and anxiety? I have no framework for starting the day in a proactive and positive way.

    For a long time I got-up-at-the-last-possible-second and did it all in a mad adrenaline rush. A sunrise alarm clock has helped and it’s no longer a Daily Panic. But I tell myself I’ll just look at one thing on my phone to transition into the day- this does motivate me to consciousness, but I still get sidetracked on my phone and then have to hustle more than I’d like to get out the door.

    I want to wake up, put my feet on the ground, and begin when I planned to, not when forced to by time pressure or guilt. I’m getting enough sleep. Motivation to confidently face the day when I’m not quite conscious yet is the problem. (And, like, problems with time awareness.)

    I welcome your thoughts gratefully!

    1. Disco Janet*

      I do not allow myself to open email or social media until I’ve left the house. I just can’t – it will derail my whole getting ready process every time.

      And for me it’s always important that I take my ADHD meds ASAP or it will be too late, and then I’m in for a day of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. So getting right out of bed and taking that is the #1 priority in the morning for me.

      And this one is a major cliche, but for a reason – picking out your clothes the night before is a huge time saver! I’m so slow at it when my brain is still waking up.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Yes on the meds right away! And I’m trying to make a stronger habit of having clothes I WANT to wear ready so there’s no choices to make & it’s something to enjoy instead of a stressor. Sigh. The phone is the next habit to change I guess. Thank you!

        1. Disco Janet*

          Thank you for posting, because I’m learning from the comments too! RagingADHD’s advice to have your phone charging NOT in your bedroom when you sleep had literally never occurred to me and is amazing advice. (Because while I don’t let myself check social media right away, having it there tempting me and noticing if I’ve missed calls or texts still mentally derails me.)

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            I couldn’t do that.
            A) My phone IS my alarm clock.
            B) I have enough jobs where on-call is a thing that my phone needs to be by my bed.
            C) I have elderly relatives so I need to be reachable from three time zones away

            But, what I do is: A) Never, ever, ever log in to FB from my phone, B) What little social media I have on my phone is not allowed to beep, squawk, knock or chirp, not is it allowed to put anything on the screen.

            The only notifications I have enable are SMS, for postal notices, Amazon, again for deliveries, and my alarms/timers and calendar appointments. That’s it. I get ringing for phone calls, with caller ID. The idea is that nothing has the right to interrupt me or grab my attention except time sensitive stuff, and social media is just not important or time sensitive. Same on my desktop – web site and game notifications are not allowed. This keeps me from chasing the interruption dopamine rush.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        I’m with you! I used to constantly be running late to work because I’d check my work e-mail from home in the morning and get derailed. No work e-mail till I get to work!

    2. RagingADHD*

      I see that you don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. That’s good. I recommend putting your phone charger outside your bedroom altogether so that you can’t even pick it up until you’re up and about.

      If you drink coffee, the kind of coffeemaker that you can preset to brew on a timer is a nice incentive to get up, because it smells good.

      Most of my other incentives involve biological needs or discomfort, like needing to go to the bathroom or take meds to avoid a headache (or stop one in progress). Other than drinking a whole lot of water before bed, I’m not sure what to tell you (and that could backfire anyway).

      Is there any way you can open the curtains / blinds from bed? Natural light is good.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Funny how it takes other people telling me that the phone has to get out of the bedroom to make me actually consider doing it. It’s a bigger crutch than I realize, maybe because I don’t perceive time well when I’m on it.

        Coffee/ (breakfast treats?) and beautiful morning light are great ideas to bring wakeful joy and comfort to the morning. Thanks!

      2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Seconding good coffee as a motivator — I am a big fan of Medaglia D’Oro’s instant espresso. I keep telling myself, “If you get up, you can have your espresso!”

      3. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        On days when I have to get up, I make sure that my blinds aren’t totally closed before I go to bed so that I get some of that good morning light when the sun rises.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      The only two things that have ever worked for me are having a dog to walk or a bus to catch. In both cases, my brain can keep waking up after I’ve already left the house to do the thing that I can do on autopilot. (For dog walks, I pick clothes the night before, and I shower in the evening, so it’s very much alarm-clothes-outside within about 15 minutes. When I had the long bus commute, I packed everything the night before and I’d buy breakfast out between buses since I had to transfer buses anyway.)

      Also, I set 3 alarms 15 minutes apart from each other. The first alarm wakes me up just enough to understand that the second alarm is a meaningful non-dream noise, and by the third alarm I’m awake enough to get out of bed.

    4. Atomic Tangerine*

      What about setting an alarm to take your meds (if you take ADHD meds) half an hour before you need to get up?

      Getting as much ready the night before helps, like laying out your clothes etc. Or my method for work days is to have a uniform (this could be literal or just variations on the same basic outfit in different colors; it reduces decision fatigue too).

      I have a really strict routine with benchmarks (out of the house for my walk at X, in the shower by Y and out the door by Z). And it helps to think in terms of when I have to *leave* as opposed to when I need to *be there.* Especially important for those of us with a wibbly wobbly sense of timey wimey! And ALSO helpful for decision fatigue.

      Seriously as an anxiety sufferer myself the fewer number of decisions I need to make in a day, the better. So I “automate” the small stuff and use my brain for the bigger stuff. It may seem unfun and rigid but I frame it for myself as self-care, because I know I do better when I stick to my routines.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I do the uniform thing too – polo shirt in a limited number of colors, jeans is a limited number of colors that goes well with my array of polo shirts. For me that’s purple polo and black jeans, usually, with the occasional black polo or blue jeans. I never have to worry about things matching.

        I’m a shower before bed person as well – that way I don’t have to sleep dirty and then try to shower when I’m not awake. (That way I avoid making mistakes with soaps, shampoos and other bathroom liquids while not fully awake.

        Coffee within a half hour of waking up is essential to getting me moving.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      How’s your bedtime? That was my absolute biggest ADHD hurdle, getting off the couch and into bed on time, but if you’re going late to bed, everything else about the morning is going to be so much harder, so start there. I do a lot of stuff the evening before, like making sure my hair is prepped so it doesn’t need much attention in the morning. I lay out a couple of outfits, so it’s just an A or B choice instead of getting into Narnia at the back of my wardrobe. In the morning, I start with music. My alarm is Alexa and I have quite nice gentle classical music wake me up, and I can tolerate that quite early and wake up gently. At some point it gets a bit more upbeat. The great thing about music is you can use it to keep time to. Like if Blondie is on, I know I should be in the shower for example. I do a salute to the sun (yoga) the very first thing, as soon as feet touch the floor, when I get up to stretch out. I always do this because I feel a real difference in my awakening when I don’t, so I’m surprised it has stuck – but it has. It takes two minutes tops. It’s important I get done with this, showered and dressed by a certain time because I need a slow roll into my day. So I’m mostly ready and eating breakfast with enough time to decompress and wake up by watching TV or reading or whatever. I have an alarm to tell me to stop and leave, but again it’s a music one because I don’t like abrupt disruptions when transitioning activities. I manage to pull this off about 90 per cent of the time. On a bad day, at least my clothes are ready and my breakfast is in a to-go Tupperware to grab and bring along so at least I won’t be late.

        1. Seal*

          I’d like to say my cat was responsible for messing up my name and weird reply above, but I did it myself by messing with my keyboard!

          What I’d intended to reply was that as a woman who was recently diagnosed with ADHD in my 50s, I had no idea that having difficulty getting to bed on time might be one of its many manifestations. That explains a lot!

          Regardless of when I go to bed, I always lay out my clothes for the next day and make sure my bag and anything else I’ll need to take with me is packed and ready to go. I have a fairly strict morning routine if I have to go someplace first thing in the morning so I know how long it takes me to get ready. If I know I have to do something outside my morning routine, I’ll put a note on the bathroom mirror or door to the garage or even set a calendar reminder the night before so I get a notification. Not having to think about what I need to do to get out the door first thing in the morning greatly reduces my anxiety for the day.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            The cats know we will forgive them! The penny didn’t drop for me until I trained to teach SEN students; “Remember Ellis, some students cannot start a new task just because you want to transition to another activity. Give them a count down or routine so they’re expecting it. Not everyone can stop what they’re doing straight away if they’re absorbed.”My response to this was: “Of course. Is that even a thing people can do?”

          2. Atomic Tangerine*

            Speaking of cats, anyone struggling with getting up in the morning is welcome to borrow my hangry 15 year old who insists he must eat at 5am. And he hits.

            1. I take tea*

              I have the opposit problem, I have a very cuddly cat, who likes to lie on me and purr loudly in the morning. Very hard to shove her off and get up! She’d so adorable and it is a nice way to start the morning…

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                My cat sleeps on my head, and if I wiggle just a little she purrs, making getting out of bed very hard.

    6. Bobina*

      A really simple one might be setting a second alarm on your phone telling you to get off your phone?

      It depends on whether or not you are likely to stick to this or just turn it off. My phone lets me snooze the alarm a certain amount of times so if I get up, play with my phone but still have the alarm go off at 5 minute intervals, it keeps me tracking time just enough to know that if the last alarm goes off and I dont get out of bed immediately, high chance I’ll be late for everything else.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I do this – a second alarm on my phone to tell me it’s time to stop woolgathering and go to work. It’s my “Five minute warning”.

    7. Blarg*

      Ok so I have a hypersomnia sleep disorder so my techniques are born of “else I will sleep for another 14 hours.” Also I take meds that help me stay awake but I have to be awake to take them.

      My #1 life changing technique has been.. drinking an absurd amount of water at night. It sounds crazy. But now I always wake up to pee at like 6am. So I have to get up. And my meds are right there. And I take them. And if I will myself not to climb back into bed, I manage to start the day.

      I also started a pandemic balcony garden and living in the mid-Atlantic, watering and stuff before it is 1,000° out is preferable so that’s also helped. Fresh air in the morning without exertion that can make being away early feel more painful.

      Anyway. I do have the cheat of “wakefulness promoters” but you gotta be awake to take them. Mid 40s now so bladder was prob gonna start waking me up anyway.

    8. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Do everything possible the night before. Lay out clothes, pack/choose lunch, and hunt down everything you want to leave the house with. I figured out I need a jump-off point. My work bag, wallet, keys, lunch cooler (empty but with food ready in the fridge), coffee mug, coat. So I only have to stand in one place to gather everything.
      If you have a morning ADHD prescription, set an alarm for before you have to get up. Before you go to bed, put one pill and a bottle of water (or whatever) next to your bed. Then you don’t have to stand up to take the prescription, and you can be groggy in bed while it kicks in before the ACTUAL alarm. I also take vitamin D gummies in the morning, it helps me wake up. So any supplement that gives you energy can be taken then too.
      The sunrise clock is a great idea, it helps me a lot to have the room bright when I wake up. I also turn on the closet light while I get dressed, it lets me see without shocking my system.
      Have you tried setting alerts on your phone? “10 minutes till leave”, then “5 minutes, get up and put your lunch in the bag!” It helps me when I lose track of time.

      1. Seal*

        A sunrise clock is indeed a great idea. I live in the very northern part of the Upper Midwest and have to get up in the dark for at least half the year. It’s much easier to wake up and get moving when there’s light in the room. My sunrise clock is set for a half hour before my other alarms start to go off. It lights up gradually, but never gets so bright it’s a shock to my system when I wake up. Truly a game changer.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I did go through a time in life where the pressure was incredibly high.

      One thing that helped me get up in the morning was prepping the night before. Prep can mean anything- clothes, lunch for tomorrow, pay bills, organize things specifically needed the next day and so on. I did all this before bed. That was hard because I was tired. But I found that I was tired yet did not sleep so it was okay to take the extra 15-20 minutes to line up what I needed for the next day.

      It helped me in the morning when I could feel that I was as organized as possible.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      No ADHD but anxiety here. Most of it stems from the fear of running late—dyscalculia makes it hard for me to judge how long something will take, which makes me stressed about getting started. I counter that by doing everything I can the night before.

      –Pack a lunch if I need it.
      –Pick out an outfit
      –Put everything beside the door (look up Home-X Do Not Forget Door Knob Organizer on Amazon; it is GREAT)
      –Shower the night before; if I wash my hair early enough on shampoo days, it will somewhat dry and I can put it up in a twist and it will style the next day with no effort
      –Get the coffee press ready to go

      If I do all that, I feel less hurried while I drink my morning coffee and read a little news. I also check the weather then too so I’m ready for any storms or temperature changes during the day.

    11. Jay*

      Keep your alarm clock far enough away from the bed that you will need to actually get up, get out of bed, and walk to shut it off.

      Go to bed earlier than you need to so that you get up on your own before your alarm wakes you. It helps me to avoid feeling “forced” into waking up and getting moving.

    12. Virtual Light*

      Thank you to all for sharing your thoughts and experience! Good to know I’m not alone in this. Part of the problem, I now see, is that I can set 5 alarms for myself, but then I just ignore them out of weird stubborn-ness/ avoidance and double down on the maladaptive behavior.

      That’s why I’m trying to frame this to myself as something that’s rooted in joy and self-love. Preparing my clothes, food, and bag the night before for my day is a kindness to morning me, not a boring chore. Focusing on things to enjoy and look forward to in the day. Etc.

      Obviously the part of this that’s my avoidant attitude goes deeper, and I need to get at this to make any helpful habits stick. I’m realizing that my default emotional position on a lot of stuff is: “I don’t want to do that,” “It will take a LOT of energy to do that,” or “I’m not good at that.” No wonder I spend a lot of time trying to escape reality in my phone! Everything feels scary. But with this attitude switch I’m trying to become a person who Does Stuff instead of avoiding it. (I like the positive framing about superpowers and disguise in the second thread today.)

      I’m glad I am realizing this and that the ADHD meds seem to be giving me the motivation to work through this stuff/ feel more possibility in my life. I don’t have to spend my days just getting through them; I can find tools to help me feel like I have some control and choose things I can enjoy. Thank you for helping me figure this out, commentariat!

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        I’m so glad the ADHD meds are helping you! I’ve found that for me, it’s like a little energy boost to my self-control, making it less impossible to do things. I’m still in the process of unlearning a lifetime of habitual attitudes, my first thought is still usually “this is gonna be so much WORK”! But I’ve finally reached a point where my next thought is “Well I took my prescription, lets see if it helped.” And often it does! I’m still amazed by how much extra mental and emotional effort I needed to pour into every task, and by how much LESS I need now. I hope that your prescriptions and coping tools help you to reach that point and keep going from there!

      2. EdgarAllanCat*

        Have you seen the Twitter thread that Captain Awkward re-tweeted about considering yourself as a zoo animal? Something about the tiger getting agitated when its cage is messy… Lots of posts about coping mechanisms to ensure treating ourselves well.

        Today is pajama day because my tiger needs to be in its cave.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Lovattspuzzles dot com has several types of crossword under the online puzzles tab, updated each day. It’s an Australian site so uses UK / Australian spelling.

    2. Really?*

      I like the New York Times crossword puzzle app. It is a yearly subscription (I think about $30), but I think this is a fair price for the enjoyment.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        It’s $40/year now, which is still under $1/week, and I’ve been working my way through the archives for the last few years at an average of a few puzzles a day, so that’s definitely worth it for me. I’ve gotten a lot better at them since I started.

    3. Lifelong student*

      I do the Washington Post and WSJ puzzles every day. Also- while not a crossword- Wordle is fun.

    4. Kate*

      Highly recommend Knotwords. It’s from the makers of Wordle but it’s like a crossword with no clues. I like it so much that I upgraded to the premium version, which I NEVER do.

      I am a Monday-Tuesday NYT crossword person (the rest of the week is too hard for me so far), so I have been going back through their archives to play the Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s amazing how much the clues have changed in just a decade!

    5. Meh*

      If you’re an android user the app Shortyz aggregates them daily. It’s my go-to fall asleep activity.

    6. Jay*

      Depends on what you’re looking for. There’s a blog called Crossword Fiend (not including link to avoid moderation) that reviews a bunch of puzzles every day and includes links to many of them.

    1. Taking the long way round*

      Oh wow I haven to been to Rhodes in years! The day I flew back was the day Princess Diana died – the pilot announced it before we took off!
      Anyway, the old town centre is a must. You can probably visit the centre in one day.
      Enjoy your holiday there.

  10. Teapot Translator*

    I downloaded the BBC Sounds app to listen to an episode of You’re Dead To Me. Any other podcast you’d recommend on there? I enjoy British humour, but when it punches up not down. I also like QI and enjoy learning random stuff.

    1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      If you like QI, you might already know the ‘No Such Thing as a Fish’ podcast – I love that more than QI!

      I also really like Infinite Monkey Cage.

    2. Scot Librarian*

      I love In our Time, each week Melvin Bragg talks with 3 guests who are experts in a specific topic, could be the origins of the universe, or Plato, Pride and Prejudice, or the Ming dynasty. Absolutely fascinating (but not funny).
      Just a minute (guests have to speak without repetition, hesitation, or deviation for a minute) which is funny.
      I’m sorry I haven’t a clue, where guests have to do silly things like sing one song to the tune of another.
      The kitchen cabinet, surprisingly amusing, where guests who love food (chefs, professor who studies taste and flavour, historian who recreates old dishes) discuss it and answer qs from the audience.
      Natalie Haynes stands up for the classics – this is amazing, a classicist is very funny about people from ancient Rome

      1. Grits McGee*

        In Our Time is great! So many podcasts consciously dumb down informational content because they assume audiences can’t keep up- In Our Time never condescends to their listeners, and Melvin Bragg does a great job keeping discussion focused and interesting. The Gin episode is a great place to start.

        Lucy Worsely’s Lady Killers podcast might be a good listen too.

    3. DistantAudacit*

      In the learning section:
      More Or Less is great (looks at numbers that pop up on the news – is it correct? Is it big? )
      Health Check (good, factual information about what’s going on, findings, studies, in the Health are)

      1. Jen Erik*

        More or Less is one of my favourite programmes.
        John Finnemore for humour – there’s usually something by him on -though on the main site it seems to be series 9, and I wouldn’t neccessarily start there (it’s written backwards): but series 1-8 or Cabin Pressure, or any of his Double Acts are worth a listen.

    4. Taffy*

      I love The Unbelievable Truth presented by David Mitchell. Four comedians deliver lectures full of untrue facts except for five unlikely true ones. The others have to spot the truths, which are often hilariously unlikely and surprising.

      1. Asenath*

        David Mitchell was on Would I Lie to You? I obsessed over that for a while – two teams, and a combination of tasks like a panelist reading out a statement and defending it as true (it might or might not be) while the other team questions it, and “This is my..” where a guest arrives, and each member of the team explains how they know the guest, and the other team members try to figure out which one is telling the truth.

    5. UKDancer*

      Lucy Worsley’s podcast on women killers in the Victorian age is really good. It looks at the cultural, societal and religious background and what it contributed to their offence.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve downloaded that one, but haven’t yet started listening to it – I’ve been watching her recent TV series, though.

        As far as other BBC podcasts go, I’d recommend Ukrainecast, which features ongoing reporting (3 episodes a week) on the war in Ukraine. As you can imagine, it’s not the most cheery listening, but they do make an effort to mix in uplifting stories too.

    6. Blarg*

      You’re dead to me is THE BEST.

      Also on BBC:
      Curious cases of Rutherford and fry
      Lazarus heist
      Missing crypto queen
      Northern bank job
      People vs j Edgar Hoover
      UK confidential (which is bizarrely fascinating)

    7. Elizabeth West*

      If you can find it, you must experience John Finnemore’s Cabin Pressure; it’s an older BBC radio show about a small, rather dysfunctional airline. It’s very funny and features Benedict Cumberbatch as the co-pilot.

      1. MrsPommeroy*

        I think you’ll find that (Benedict Cumberbatch’s) Martin Crieff is actually The Captain! ;)

    8. ana_hardy*

      Sandi Toksvig’s Hygge, The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry, anything with Robin Ince

    9. MrsPommeroy*

      Strong vote for anything John Finnemore
      Cabin Pressure (radio sitcom; 27 episodes; 30min each) (episodes are A to Z (Abu Dhabi to Zurich – Z being a two-parter); Molokai is my favourite)
      John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme (sketch comedy; 9 series of 6 episodes each; 30min per episode)
      John Finnemore’s Double Acts (comedy two-handers, largely unrelated to one another; 2 series of 6 episodes each; 30min per episode) (my favourites are “A Flock of Tigers” and “Penguin Diplomay”)

    10. Cat Wrangler*

      I don’t know if these are on BBC Sounds, but they are all great podcasts for British humor: ‘Wooden Overcoats’ (rival funeral directors on a small British Island),’Victoriocity,’ (slightly steampunk mystery), and ‘Crowley Time With Me, Tom Crowley’ (one-man variety show…and it’s super hard to believe that, apart from the occasional guest, one person wrote and voiced all of it).

      1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        @Teapot Translator, thank you for asking the question, got loads to add to my already long list of podcasts now! Thanks everyone. I struggle now to find the time to listen to them all!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Well, I want to thank everyone for suggesting Cabin Pressure. So funny! And I do like Roger Allam.

    11. Peter*

      “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue” – as long as you can cope with the old-fashioned smuttiness.
      There’s more than a hint of sexism in the older episodes though it’s moved on with Jack Dee in the chair.
      On a similar note, Just a Minute can be really funny.

  11. likeToRead*

    I enjoy Carol Higgins Clark’s mystery stories and the stories she and her mom, Mary Higgins Clark wrote together. I keep wondering if I should read Mary Higgins Clark’s stories, but it’s hard to tell how scary they are. I like a good cozy mystery.

    1. Forensic13*

      It depends on how scary you find certain things! They’re not “gory,” but they are very much in the “beautiful woman has trauma and here’s a very bad bad man to mentally torment her secretly and now a big chase when a trusted man/person turns out not be trustworthy after all!!!” They’re often creepy and harrowing, if that makes sense? So depends on your mileage for putting up with upsetting (almost entirely male) behavior.

  12. Lady Whistledown*


    We have by the luck of all suns had our offer accepted on a home that happens to include a wood fired pizza oven and I’m beside myself with excitement to test it out this fall. My question(s):

    Any tips on using a wood fired pizza oven?
    Favorite pizza dough recipes?
    Is it easy to host friends to enjoy the goods?

    1. KatEnigma*

      I highly HIGHLY recommend a no knead pizza dough recipe. We use the “five minutes a day” one specifically. You mix up the flour, water, salt, and yeast and then let it sit until it rises- then toss into the refrigerator and you can use it for up to 2 weeks. Get a Danish dough whisk to mix the dough- trust me, you will thank me on how quick and easy the dough comes together using one. They are like magic. It’s so easy to host and serve pizza.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      King Arthur Flour Grandma Pizza Dough. is my favorite. I don’t use the proprietary seasoning in the recipe – either leave it out or do 1 tsp garlic powder instead. Baking companies really really test and troubleshoot their recipes.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      The recipe I most like works for flatbread in general as well as pizza; it’s the weight watchers one where you just mix yoghurt and flour instead of faffing around with yeast. I use it because it’s the best way to make the most of gluten free flour but it was originally an ordinary flour recipe.

    4. BRR*

      My go to is the 24-48 hour recipe from the elements of pizza. You might need to adjust the amount of water since your baking the pizzas at a higher temperature.

      It should be easy to host friends once you get the hand of working with dough. Homemade pizza has ended up being my quick and easy meal I make at the end of the week.

    5. Courageous cat*

      What do you mean by “is it easy to host friends to enjoy the goods”, why wouldn’t it be?

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        I’m used to doing most of my prep work days in advance of hosting so being on the spot to feed a group makes me a little nervous. Not sure how fast everything comes together/cooks in the oven.

        1. Nack*

          My brother in law frequently makes homemade pizza for guests. In his oven he can cook one pizza at a time (and they cook pretty fast!) so he always sets the expectation that people can eat while it’s hot. He may say something like, “we’re cooking 6 pizzas tonight, first will be cheese, then pepperoni… (insert progressively fancier pizzas here) – when you see what you want, grab it!” It makes for a fun casual vibe, great also if you have kids cause they may eat a few cheese and wander off. I think waiting to eat together when all the pizzas are cooked will lead to subpar pizzas. So that’s how it goes in our family :)

    6. Formerly in HR*

      Re: Hosting, I do remember reading on a blog (but cannot remember now where) that they hosted pizza parties by preparing/ buying dough, preparing the sauce and having all kind of toppings put together (check our Smitten Kitchen for her ideas, or Dinner A Love Story). Then guests would create their own pizza ( or corner of) and the pizzas would be baked and they’d be eaten in the end.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        This is super clever and something I’d love to try. As a kid I always adored making my own pizza. Didn’t matter if it was ugly or missing cheese coverage. It was mine.

        1. beentheredonethat*

          I did a buy biscuit dough and flatten it. Cook it on one side, flip it and let the diners to all add their choice of toppings. Kids loved it.

      2. eeeek*

        Home-made pizza is our go-to Family Night meal, especially when dealing with people who are dealing with different dietary needs and preferences. (And, thanks to the commenter above, I have a line on a gluten-free dough recipe! YAY, AAM community!) But, we do just what _Formerly in HR_ says: make the dough (and assist the littles with shaping), provide sauce(s), cheese (dairy and vegan), meats (pepperoni and sausage, turkey pepp, seitan sausage), veggies. We usually invite Team Vegan to share a cookie sheet size pizza, and Kosher Keepers or Carnivores to do the same. Pie plates or cake pans do fine for “personal pan” pizzas. It takes practice for us to load the oven so things come out around the same time, but that comes with practice. We have, at times, had all three racks of the oven filled with sheet pan pizzas, and recruited the gas grill for the personal pizzas in cast iron fry pans.
        I love the look on the little kids’ faces when they get to have a pizza with only cheese or only sauce or as many onions as can fit. SO MUCH FUN.

    7. Lady Alys*

      The Serious Eats website has several good pizza dough recipes.
      Get yourself a nice metal peel and a lot of coarse cornmeal and be prepared to lose a few pies as you practice the jerk to get the pizza off the peel and on to the lovely hot floor of the oven.

      1. KatEnigma*

        We use parchment paper between the peel and corn meal. We remove the parchment paper halfway through to get a better consistency on the crust – it slides out from under once the dough has started to cook without issue (usually)

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      We have pizza parties all the time. We ask folks to bring their favorite toppings. We provide crusts, tomato sauce, mozzarella, shredded cheddar etc. Then everyone gets a pizza made with “their” toppings, but we cut it into many slim pieces so everyone can try it. We generally plan on making more pizzas than people.
      Dessert pizzas too! Nutella and white chocolate chips! Fig preserves instead of tomato sauce.
      I’m so excited for your pizza oven!!! Congrats!

    9. Constance Lloyd*

      My absolute favorite is Roberta’s Pizza Dough, which can be found in the New York Times cooking site. I’ve converted family and friends from the recipes they used for decades. It has a long rise time (4 hours in the counter, 8 in the fridge) but isn’t otherwise difficult to make, and you can use the Danish dough whisk recommended by others or a standard mixer. A single batch makes two pizzas worth of dough, so I tend to make a triple batch and freeze the extras.

    10. Christmas Carol*

      Check out the blog THE ART OF DOING STUFF, by Karen Beltelsen, and her posts on building and using her own wood-fired pizza oven in her back yard in Ontario.

      1. Lilith*

        The Danish ‘whisk’ is terrific. I think it’s called Mrs Andersen’s. I love mine. We’ve had pizza parties too with youngsters and handed out certificates printed with ‘roundest pizza,’ ‘most colorful pizza,’ ‘cheesiest pizza’ etc. Kids really got into that.

    11. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      My brother has one …

      Note that once you get the thing hot enough for pizza, it may stay hot enough for other things afterward. So once you get your pizza game down, you may want to throw some regular bread dough, cookies, or even do a casserole or roast while you’re at it. Learn your temps and timings so you’ll have enough heat to work with.

  13. The Person from the Resume*

    3 episodes into 8 episode first season of A League of Our Own and I am loving it.

    But now that I think about it I wish we saw a bit more baseball. Although while most of them seem to have a beautiful swing, the filming of fielding, throwing, and catching looks odd. IDK I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s not like watching a game.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I haven’t seen it, but I wonder if they trained enough? The publicity articles only mention 2 of the performers having prior experience playing baseball or softball on a regular basis.

      Even if you’re in great overall shape, it is really hard to fake the movement of a seasoned athlete if you are not actually good at the sport. If the camera angles are trying to cheat / cover up weak skills, it’s not going to look like normal game coverage that showcases the players’ prowess.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Interesting. Thanks for the info.

        I had some friends over and rewatched the first 3 episodes. (Haven’t made it any further.) I noticed in some of the larger tryout scenes the background characters had better form than the Peaches main characters. So that’s likely it.

        There’s also some stylized camera angles that you don’t normally see in a game (because it would disrupt it) but also maybe be hiding poor form by making a quick cut to the fancy shot.

        I’m generally enjoying the plot, though, and my friends quite enjoyed it too.

  14. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’re reading now. If you want any specific recommendations, or have any recs, leave them here too.

    I’m currently getting ready to read The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. I’ve liked her other stuff that I’ve read and am looking forward to this one too.

    1. Double A*

      I just finished Gideon the Ninth by Tasmin Muir oh my GOODNESS was it entertaining.

      It’s basically a lesbian necromancers whodunnit in a Gothic Mansion in space. The premise is intriguing and then she just knocks it out of the park.

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        I give advanced warning: the sequel, Harrow the Ninth is a veeeeeeery different story and can be difficult to get into. Without giving anything away, it plays holy hell with the concept of an unreliable narrator. I started with it on faith and was well rewarded, but it took two-thirds of the book to get there.

      2. Lilo*

        Going to say I’ve read and petered out on this book twice, once about 25% on the way through, once about 75% of the way through.

    2. Bluebell*

      I’ve been on vacation this week so am reading a lot, but nothing very heavy: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is about a woman who time travels and switches lives, and it’s all in NYC, which I liked. The Golden Couple was a standard suspenseful “who’s the unreliable narrator” thriller. The Husbands was a fun Stepford wives flip, and also made some good points. Counterfeit was recommended by Alison and i really wished it had been better. I’ve just started The Recovery Agent by Janet Evanovich, and I think it just needs to be a movie. Oh well.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I just finished A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers. I’m liking this series well enough, but I’m having the same problem that I always have with novella series, which is that the books take me so little time to read and so long for the next volume to come out…

      On a completely different note, I’d be up for recommendations for military SF (particularly of the “paperback the thickness of a a large brick” variety) that meets the following criteria:
      (a) No sexual assault or gendered violence of any kind mentioned anywhere in the book. At all.
      (b) Not “male-gaze-y”. If the female XO breasts boobily into the room each time and the male TO is, I dunno, probably wearing a uniform, I guess, but it’s never mentioned, I’m out.
      (c) No random asides to Current (or Recently Previous) politics. I don’t care if I agree with the position taken or not, I don’t want my 25th century space lieutenant to have a page where they randomly complain about, say, teachers’ unions for no obvious reason before getting back to the space battle. If the book series is a thinly-veiled retelling of some pre-20th-century conflict but In Space I may or may not put up with it, but I want no “here is the author using this character to say things that belong in their blog” asides.
      (d) I’d also prefer a series where the author can figure out where their plot is and isn’t and stick the landing at the end, but I’ll tolerate a big, sprawling mess with no obvious resolution in sight if it meets the other 3 criteria.

      1. Atomic Tangerine*

        Hmmm I was thinking of the Vorkosigan Saga books for you but you would probably want to steer clear of Cordelia’s Honor (Shards of Honor and Barrayar), Mirror Dance, and A Civil Campaign as there is some gendered violence/assault in those. I can’t recall any in the others but you might want to check reviews first. Bujold’s female characters are well rounded, empowered, and just kind of awesome and I sense you would enjoy that aspect of the books, which is why I mention them anyway.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          Awww, they’re probably my my favorite because they focus on Cordelia and not Miles. Although even I admit that Shards of Honor is very fanfic-like and romance trope. Barrayar is much improved on that.

          But yeah, unfortunately both have sexualized violence, rape, aftermath of rape. If you don’t want that, skip it. Barrayar has a sexist, backward, classist, and misogynistic society. The main characters are trying to move society forward, but they’re dealing with people who are happy with the status quo.

        2. I take tea*

          I’m definitely seconding the Vorkosigan saga. It has good, intelligent plots, also lots of fun, and good charachters. There is a bit of gendered violence, but at least in Shards of Honor it is interrupted and vindicated in the most glorious way. I’m very sensitive to that kind of writing, and I have no problem with it here.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        I’m going to recommend again Dread Empire Falls by Walter Jon Williams. 7 books so far with book 8 coming this fall. And they are doorstops eventually getting to 600 pages.

        Military, space opera Trilogy, 2 stand-alone character driven books, another military space opera trilogy. I don’t normally like military/naval sci fi, but it’s well done. The each trilogy is a (civil) war. The first trilogy concludes with the war ending – one species the Naxids tries to replace the extinct Shaa as the head of empire over the other species. Then the stand-alone novels show what the two main characters do between wars. The second trilogy is another civil war where the human race is blamed for innovating and the other races try to expel them from the military and human and allies fight back.

        The main characters are a man and a woman and while there’s some romance the female character has sex positive plot where she’s sleeping with a guy (gangster/mobster) she wants and her enlisted aide is silently judgy about it but she wants to so she keeps doing it. She is an officer and a high ranking peer (so classist disapproval), but actually she’s stolen that identity of the peer so she’s sleeping with the kind of guys she grew up with.

        The aliens are very alien. Because of varying needs ships are designed for and crewed for a single species. But they’ve also been allies for a thousand years or more so they get along – the peers especially get along because they’re on top.

        Setting at the start: The Dread Empire’s Fall series is set in a future in which the powerful Shaa species thousands of years ago conquered several other intelligent species, including humanity; imposing on them their inflexible set of laws known as “the Praxis”. When the last living Shaa dies, the species they conquered first, the Naxids, attempts to appoint itself rulers of the former Shaa empire. A civil war erupts when the other species resist them, including the protagonists, Terran (human) naval officers Caroline Sula and Gareth Martinez. Since the Shaa empire stopped expanding long ago and its military was largely occupied by training and suppressing the occasional mutiny or revolt, its strategic and tactical doctrines have become matters of rigid, unchanging tradition. To stop the Naxids, the other species must practice innovation and creativity, something the Shaa attempted to stamp out long ago.

        It seems the human race is more innovative than the others and now that the Shaa is gone they want to go outside tradition.

        The Dread Empire’s Fall trilogy:
        The Praxis (2002)
        The Sundering (2003)
        Conventions of War (2005)

        Standalone works:
        “Investments” (2005), novella
        Impersonations (2016)

        Second trilogy:
        The Accidental War (2018)
        Fleet Elements (2020)
        Imperium Restored (Forthcoming, September 2022)

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I think I’ve recommended this three weeks in a row now, but for a good doorstop military SF series, I love Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar series, beginning with In The Balance, where aliens invade and interrupt WWII. I do not remember any instances of gendered violence or male-gaze, though it’s been a minute since I re-read. There are many actual historical figures scattered throughout the series, and they say things that would’ve been appropriate to their historical counterpart, but none of it is Turtledove getting on his own soapbox, and I think he sticks the landing pretty well at the ends. The first four books end with the end of the war, then there’s a trilogy afterwards about further developments 10-20 years on, and a final single book that was very satisfying to wrap up the whole series. But each subsection of the whole has a good ending overall as well.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            They ARE.

            Also, I was reading his Timeline-191 series (I think, I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written almost) and got to a line where a commanding officer yells “Hell’s bells, Turteltaub, next thing you’ll tell me is that aliens have landed!” and then I had to explain to my husband why I was laughing so hard.

      4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Have you read Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series? Normal sized paperbacks but there are a good few of them. The main character gets rescued from a cryosleep escape pod, only to find a hundred years of war have passed and that he is A Hero. Also, he’s trapped behind enemy lines with a large fleet. Also, he is now the only person left to be in charge of said fleet while they fight their way home.

        I’m pretty sure it meets all 4 of your criteria, plus it also has the BEST descriptions of spaces battles I’ve read-I usually zone out slightly during those bits until something interesting is happening. These I read and understood and enjoyed.

      5. Jackalope*

        Someone below mentioned Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice series (that’s the title of the first book), and that might meet your criteria. The main character is from a culture where sex and gender are completely irrelevant, and they use “she” as a pronoun for all sentient beings (the only other 3rd person singular pronoun being “it” for objects). So it’s really good for a & b on your list. It’s been a few years since I read it so I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure it meets c as well. And I thought it was good for d. Also relevant, I enjoyed the series a lot, and would recommend it for that.

        1. SarahKay*

          Would strongly second your recommendation for the Ancillary Justice series, and I’d agree that I think it meets all four criteria.

      6. Lady Alys*

        Tanya Huff’s series with lead character Sgt. Torin Kerr – looks like there are several trilogies (Confederation series, Peacekeeper series). Torin Kerr is very funny and sarcastic and has a bad habit of letting her sarcasm out around superior officers. Lots of aliens. I may have just realized I need to re-read these.

        1. Pippa K*

          I’m halfway through Valor’s Choice and really enjoying it. It’s great to have a whole series to look forward to!

      7. Angstrom*

        The Marko Kloos “Frontlines” series that starts with “Terms of Enlistment” is good. The male hero marries a female dropship pilot — who continues to move up the ranks — and there are other strong female characters.

      8. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        For your military SF rec, there’s always Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. There’s five or six books in the “trilogy” but the first can stand in its own right.

        1. I take tea*

          I thought of that too, but it’s been a while since I read them, don’t remember so much detailes, exept liking them. In The Ghost Brigades is a pretty gruesome episode, not gory, but emotionelly upsetting. No sexual asssault anywhere, as far as I remember.

      9. Atomic Tangerine*

        Oh you know what? It’s not *all* military (it’s a heavy theme though) but the Expanse books (yes the series the TV show is based on) are solid and they check all your other boxes. The final book came out last year and while it was wrapped up well, I grieved that it was all over. The characters and the world building are amazing.

      10. Dancing Otter*

        Two authors you might like, though the individual volumes might not be long enough to suit you. I “read” many of them as audiobooks at 125%, so it’s hard to gauge.
        • David Drake’s RCN (Royal Cinnabar Navy) series. Drake has opinions, but I don’t recall noticing them impinging on these stories. One of the two main characters is a librarian-turned-intelligence expert, so there’s a bit more plot depth than the usual shoot ‘em up. Note that I am not recommending *everything* he writes as meeting your criteria.
        • Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War and Serrano series. She also wrote the Deed of Paksenarrion series, which is military but not space-based. I enjoyed all three.

        1. allathian*

          It’s been a while since I read the Paksenarrion series, but there’s a very creepy rape scene in the first book.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The House of The Spirits is SO GOOD. I read it as a teenager and credit it for being one of the adult books that made my love of reading stronger. I’ve enjoyed other Allende novels since, but this remains my favourite. Enjoy!

      I have three books on the go, which I’m reading at different paces.

      1) Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss. I’m finding it a slog and was expecting something completely different. It’s well written, but also very intellectual in ways I find obscure. I’m just not its target audience. Challenging myself to finish it before my next trip abroad in September, though I don’t hold much hope, it’s taken me months to pass the halfway point.

      2) Real Estate by Deborah Levy. I loved the first two Living Autobiography instalments (especially The Cost of Living) and will take my time with the third, letting the words and chapters sink in.

      3) Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. Just started and I think it’ll be a quicker read. The author’s voice is very entertaining so far, despite the subject matter (the perception of death, funeral rituals, and working at a crematorium).

    5. Atomic Tangerine*

      Duct Tape Marketing (business book obviously) and Yes to Life by Viktor Frankl.

      Just finished Armada by Ernest Cline (meh), Cringeworthy by Melissa Dahl (recommended on this blog and it was useful and delightful. I need my own Awkward Project now), Artemis by, er, the guy who wrote The Martian and Upgrade by Blake Crouch; both were good, not great but a nice bit of sci fi light fun if that’s what you’re looking for.

    6. Helvetica*

      I just finished “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe, about the disappearance of Jean McConville from Belfast in 1972 but really about Northern Ireland, the Troubles, and the reverbations of decades of struggle. It is non-fiction but written super well, and the 400 pages just flew by. I recognised that despite being in Europe, and knowing about Northern Ireland, I really didn’t know anything.

      I also just started my annual re-read of my favourite book, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. That book has a hold on me that I can’t really explain but I love the way it draws me in and keeps me in this world of family and magic.

      1. AY*

        After Say Nothing and Empire of Pain, he’s an immediate buy (well, library checkout) for me. I had been to Northern Ireland a couple years before reading the book, and it’s striking just how small the place is for all that violence.

    7. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Many thanks to the person who recommended Tasha Suri in the last week or two! I’m on her second book.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      … I seem to have just started reading the Scholomance again. (Book 3 is out next month.)

      Gave up halfway through Ancillary Justice: while I intellectually admired some of the crafting, I didn’t care about any of the characters or wonder what would happen to them next. (I feel that occasionally abandoning a book is a positive sign in terms of my stretching out and trying new things.)

      Oh, Round Up the Usual Peacocks, the latest Meg Langslow mystery! Was a delight to visit Caerphilly again, and I really appreciate the author’s attempts to have the amateur sleuth mesh with the police in a logical way. (Relatedly, when suggesting this series I always praise the way cell phones are used, with none of that nonsense about how an amateur sleuth “just doesn’t like carrying one” which is a dead giveaway that they are going to wind up in a situation where one would be crucial. There’s a real effort to, say, tell someone where you’re going to be before waltzing off to interrogate your lead suspect.) This probably won’t be one of my favorites, as the attempt to give space to three separate mysteries meant each individual one didn’t have enough space for twists and turns. But justice was served, llamas were costumed, and all was well.

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        I’m with you on Ancillary Justice. Made it through book one but no further. That said, The Raven Tower was exquisite. Not SF at all, more a fantasy spin on Hamlet with avery…. Unique narrator.

    9. GoryDetails*

      SKYLARKING by Kate Mildenhall is set in a small Australian coastal village in the 19th century, and deals with the teenaged daughters of the lighthouse keepers – inspired by a poignant real-life tale.

      THE SANDMAN Book One, an omnibus edition of the first couple of collections of Neil Gaiman’s iconic “Sandman” graphic novel series, plus several bonus stories (including the one about how Morpheus influenced Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”). This volume contains the source material of the live-action Netflix series, which I’m enjoying.

      ANGELMAKER by Nick Harkaway, which I picked up after enjoying the author’s “Seven Demons” (published under the pseudonym Aidan Truhen). Angelmaker is set in modern-day London but has a rather steampunk feel, as the protagonist is a clockwork-device repairman and gets involved with some amazing devices – including one that may be an actual doomsday machine… (The characters include a feisty near-90-year-old woman with a lively past and a wicked sense of humor – also, very good aim.) Very lively narrative, if gruesome in places!

    10. Russian in Texas*

      Collapse: about the collapse of USSR. I was 12 when it happened, and I remember many things, but vaguely. It’s fascinating, and explains many things that happened afterwards so well. It also explains the huge gap in how people in the West perceive Gorbachev, and how people in the former Union perceive him (spoiler alert: he is nearly universally hated).
      I just finished Midnight in Chernobyl, which made me hate me former homeland again, and Isaac’s Storm, about the Great Galveston Hurricane, which gave me nightmares (I line on the Gulf Coast), so I am obviously a glutton for punishment.
      I do recommend all three books, they are really good.

    11. the cat's ass*

      Just finished Carl Hiaasen’s “Squeeze Me” which (as usual) is rude and funny about florida and the last days of an imaginary terrible president. Just what the NP ordered!

      1. Old and don’t care*

        I just looked this up and, Skink #8??? I didn’t realize he had made so much of that character.

        I haven’t read Hiassen in quite some time; maybe it’s time to pick him up again.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Still plowing my way through Elie Mystal’s Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution. I also started reading Malcolm Nance’s They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency. I also ordered Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World and Scalzi’s Kaiju Preservation Society.

      I sort of bailed on reading because my brain would not let me stop thinking about job hunting, but dwelling on it 24/7 is not doing me any good. So I’m trying to make more of an effort to read again. Random Amazon book credits have dropped into my mailbox from time to time. I decided to stop wasting them and get an e-book now and then.

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Waiting to start TWTKA, but his previous trilogy on The Orange Menace were riveting.

    13. Angstrom*

      Recently finished Thomas King’s “The Inconvenient Indian” , which lead to “Son of the Morning Star”, Evan Connell’s sprawling nonlinear account of the Battle of Little Bighorn and surrounding events.
      “After The Fall”, novel by Noah Hawley. Enjoyed that.
      Reread Terry Pratchett’s YA “Johnny and the Dead”. Delightful.

      1. Houndmom*

        I just started reading Marjorie Eccles — WWI to WWII era mysteries. Well written and interesting. I also like Jacqueline win spear and James r benn sap in the same genre.

    14. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Just finished: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Brown.
      It’s the Venn overlap of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Hunger Games, and Black Panther. Kinda YA but good.

      Just started: Shadows of the Short Days by Vilhjalmsson. Icelandic alt-history/urban fantasy. DARK but fascinating to read another culture’s take in the genre.

    15. Still*

      I’ve just finished People You Meet On Vacation. I enjoyed the first half and then I just couldn’t wait for it to be over. I wanted a fun beach read but I was hoping it would be about a little bit more than just twelve years and four hundred pages of will-they-won’t-they. There was a bunch of interesting elements in the back ground, but anything that didn’t have directly to do with the relationship was glossed over.

      1. Lilo*

        I found that book so unmemorable that I read it maybe a month ago and had to double check whether I had read it. I do not get the hype, it was really quite dull. I liked Beach Read but this was very.meh for me.

    16. Meh*

      Some from this week. My taste skews towards “free” from Amazon Kindlen Unlimited

      She’s Up To No Good by Sara Goodman Confino. This one sparked a lot of tears but it was a good easy read

      Adulting by Liz Talley. It was ok. Better characters than her other fluffy light fiction.

      The Candid Life Of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel. I really enjoyed this look into adoption, loss, and Indian food.

    17. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      *Moonflower Murders* by Anthony Horowitz. I didn’t like the previous book in the series, so this is sort of a test — can I like these, or not really?

    18. GoryDetails*

      My latest carrying-around book: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu. It opens with a man joining a research group at the site where his daughter died, exploring long-frozen animals (and, surprisingly, people) from 30,000 years ago, as climate change causes accelerated melting of the tundra. Quite intriguing so far – not least for the threat of releasing a long-frozen plague…

    19. GingerNP*

      Food Isn’t Medicine – Dr Joshua Wolrich
      What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat – Aubrey Gordon
      The Body is Not an Apology – Sonia Renee Taylor
      Plus I’m reading The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher for the 6th or 7th time.

  15. Infected*

    We are halfway through a cruise and we have Covid. Vaccinated, boosted, wore masks everywhere. Hub and I feel pretty crappy. We’re isolating in our room, don’t feel like doing anything anyway. Just looking for a little sympathy I guess. At least the country we are in does not require any quarantine or isolation, and we don’t have to have a negative test to fly back home.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Getting on a plane while knowing you are infected with Covid would be completely inexcusable.

      1. rrr*

        I agree though I guess that isn’t the case here. But apparently, this is now a thing -people flying back if they know they are positive/likely to be positive. There was a whole article in Slate about it. I was really, really hoping to go see a sister soon (she doesn’t live in the same country), but I just don’t see any way I can now. Though it probably would’ve been a bad idea in the first place what with the lack of masking and the increased transmission.

        I do think it is pretty much more of the same behavior though that has been going on the whole time, to a greater or lesser degree. People who justify things to themselves in whatever way they can. Nobody is immune, of course, including me. It would be hypocritical to suggest otherwise. The same way a lot of people behave in the general course of their lives, including, again, me. I just try not to kid myself that I’m any better, which I do think a lot of people do. Getting off topic here, but I think a lot about this and wonder if other people do as well?

        Anyway, lots of sympathy to you on COVID. I hope you’re ok, and feel better soon. That really sucks.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        Not disagreeing, Slate published an article where traveller’s tell their stories of COVID travel where so many did just that. It’s infuriating. They can’t afford to stay longer, they want to be sick at home, they have no one to help them while isolating away from home. It’s infuriating how selfish their excuses are for getting on a plane while probably / likely contagious. Only one person faked test results; for everyone else they were not checked for proof.


        So be careful on flights. Potentially some people on the flight are knowingly traveling with COVID.

        I was sick for 11 days with COVID recently. Half of them were miserable. It felt like a bad flu for me.

        1. WellRed*

          It sucks but I’m not sure ” being unable to afford to stay” and ” needing help” are totally selfish. If they’ve made a good faith effort in following the rules, What’s the alternative? a park bench and hoping a kind stranger will bring soup and tissues?

          1. Waiting on the bus*

            Agreed. Once you’re at “can’t afford to stay” it doesn’t seem as though there are any good solutions possible anymore, unfortunately.

          2. The Person from the Resume*

            I assume that someone vacationing in a foreign country that they got there by airplane actually wasn’t broke and could have afforded a hotel for another week.

            Getting on an airplane while contagious is selfish. If you managed to pay for your vaca you need to be able to deal with/pay for not entirely unexpected things like catching COVID and being forced to extend your time away from home and work.

            1. Observer*

              I assume that someone vacationing in a foreign country that they got there by airplane actually wasn’t broke and could have afforded a hotel for another week.

              That’s a ridiculous assumption. If someone has been saving up for a long time to make that trip, they may not have any cushion. Even if they haven’t been saving, they may not have any cushion. On top of which, the costs can go up very quickly for unplanned travel. Like if you are in a hotel with a lot of traffic, they may have booked your room, which means you need to find something else NOW.

              I was just reading a story about a couple who had come from Australia with their toddler. The airline messed up their return flight – When their original flight got cancelled they rebooked the parents on one flight and the baby on another. And refused (claimed they “couldn’t”) get the a flight together till over a week later. The couple wound up being out almost $15k and had to move lodgings twice.

              A LOT of people who can afford a vacation cannot afford that kind of extra expense. The assumption that they can is not a good one.

              1. Sick of It*

                Then they should not be travelling during a global pandemic, or should have sufficient insurance to cover any extended stays due to testing positive. It is appallingly irresponsible to travel and risk others health under these circumstances.

              2. The Other Dawn*

                “That’s a ridiculous assumption.”

                Completely agree, Observer. Also, there’s having to unexpectedly hit one’s PTO bank for another week’s worth of time on top of an unplanned hotel stay. Assuming one even has any PTO left after this vacation.

                Everyone’s risk tolerance is different, plus we’re not in the same place we were over two years ago. I’m at the point where I’m willing to travel again, and have done so several times this year. Many others are at that point, too, judging by the amount of people I see pretty much everywhere, whether it’s at the grocery store or a concert.

            2. Sigh*

              I get it sounds harsh, but I agree with this. Buy travel insurance, wait to travel when there isn’t a pandemic, save for the travel and the pandemic risk. It’s a little difficult to plead poverty when you *know* your risk for getting ill is fairly high and you are on a non-essential vacation. Just because others do it doesn’t make it right.

              1. Emma*

                Yeah. I can get feeling like it was a surprise/you don’t have the extra funds to cover it, etc etc.

                But at this point, it’s happened to so many people that it feels like something that can be anticipated/planned for in advance, and should be a built in cost in planning.

        2. Ali + Nino*

          And potentially some people are *unknowingly* traveling while infected with Covid. Everything is a balance between risk and benefit.

          1. Sc@rlettNZ*

            That would be me – we had to fly to another city for my partner’s cancer treatment. I tested positive the day after we returned but had been symptom-free the day before. So it wasn’t done knowingly but I did fly while I had Covid.

        3. Nancy*

          There has always been the possibility of being on a flight with people knowingly and unknowingly sick from something. Illness is not a new thing.

          It is not selfish to not be able to afford to stay an extra week or want to be home while sick because you need help.

          Sorry you got sick on your vacation, OP.

          1. To Do List*

            It is not selfish to want those things. It is absolutely, horrifically, unacceptably selfish to ACT on those wants and risk the health of others when you know you are Covid positive.

            People make me sick. Literally and metaphorically.

      3. Melody Pond*

        Hmm, I don’t know that I agree with this. I also don’t agree with other comments in this sub-thread that if a person could afford to take a vacation, then of course they could afford a hotel for another week. I definitely don’t tend to have that much spare cash available.

        Obviously getting on a plane while sick with Covid is not ideal – but it may not be as risky as you think. Airplanes have insanely good ventilation systems – with HEPA filters and anywhere from 15 to 20 air-changes per hour. This number of air-changes per hour is more frequent than standards for many commercial/public buildings.

        I remember reading a while back that on an airplane, you are most at-risk from the people immediately next to you, because of how good the ventilation is. You’re not at a huge risk from anyone further away than that. So if you can do your best to protect yourself from people right next to you, and protect them from you… I don’t know, the risk doesn’t seem outrageous to me, like it did at one point.

      4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Yes, I just found out that an ex thought it was okay to fly home infected with covid. I have NEVER been so glad not to have married him. This choice to knowingly put others at risk would have made me divorce him.

    2. Asenath*

      Much sympathy. I picked COVID up just over a month ago – it was days after the date on which, according to the local health care people, my third shot was wearing off and I should get a fourth shot, which I hadn’t been able to get. Either I was just one of the unlucky ones who gets it anyway or they were right, and my immunity had dropped a bit. Anyway, I was sick as a dog for a day or two, but steadily improved and after my isolation period ended was fine except for a persistent cough that has since gone away. During the two years, I once suspected I had COVID, but got a negative test result. When I woke up one morning with it, I had no doubts what I had, and didn’t really need the test I took to confirm it! I was VERY grateful I had whatever residual immunity the vaccinations provided, if that was a mild case that went away with rest, cough medicine, and OTC painkillers! So many people asked me who I caught it from – all I could say was that I had no way of knowing. No one I knew who had been diagnosed had been near me, and I was going around the city following my usual routine, masked. It could have been anyone, and that doesn’t matter to me. That’s just how highly contagious diseases work.

      On the bright side, I now have increased immunity, and don’t need to get my fourth shot! At least not for another 3 months, according to local medical advice. I don’t mind waiting until the fall, when they say there are going to be newer and better ones out.

      I hope you are already feeling a bit better, and will be right back to normal by the time your isolation period is over.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I got Covid about a month after my fourth shot. I was traveling and masking except for eating, but the new strains are pernicious. I had a mild case, probably thanks to how vaccinated I am.

    3. bratschegirl*

      I hope your case is mild and you have no lingering effects from it. That said, honestly, I confess to being amazed that anyone continues to take cruises after all the highly publicized outbreaks of norovirus, Legionnaire’s disease, and now COVID.

        1. fposte*

          And also, every pastime and place comes with risks, and you can get norovirus and Legionnaire’s (and of course, COVID) lots of places.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        Heading on a cruise at the end of the month. Went on one in May. Lots of fun and I’m youngish and healthy and I want to live a life of pretend luxury. Cruising is great bang for the buck, and with millions of cruisers a year a few outbreaks don’t scare me.

        But I got Hepatitis in Mexico and bronchitis for the first time ever on a flight to London, so all travel has the risk of exposure to new germs. I just vaccinate and enjoy. Not interested in a life of fear for manageable illnesses.

    4. Ann Ominous*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. We finally got it as well. Felt fine till I was on a plane and fainted and that’s how I discovered I was sick. Came home and tested positive and was laid out for a week. Also vaccinated and boosted, but it was never intended to keep you from getting sick to begin with, just hospitalized, so that was still a win for me. Plus I got boosted in November so it had been more than 6 months since the booster and I wasn’t eligible for a second one.

      Thankfully I was wearing a mask on the plane so I feel better about having exposed everyone, but it made me think just how many people are sick and don’t know (or do know and have to travel anyway).

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      Sympathy. Feeling sick on vacation is so disappointing.

      I don’t wear masks everywhere, but I’m still one of the few wearing masks in stores. I still caught COVID.

      It’s happening to lots and lots of people.

    6. RosyGlasses*

      I’m so sorry – that sucks to have planned a getaway and then having to spend half of it cooped up. I hope your travels home are uneventful and you feel better soon!!

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Feel better! I know several people who have it right now. It’s going around quite a bit, but luckily it’s just cold symptoms.

    8. Jackalope*

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’re sick and feeling lousy. I hope you recover soon and that there are still good things about your trip for you even if it’s not as good as you were wanting it to be. And here’s crossing fingers that the vaccine does its job and you have a mild case!

  16. PX*

    What are you watching this weekend?

    I’ve been in a bit of a funk due to life stress so not been in the mood to watch anything really, but Mystery Menu on the NY Times Youtube is back and it makes me so happy. I fully know that you cant judge people based on what you see of them online, but Sohla and Ham’s relationship just seems so good when watching them on it, its very much ~couple goals~! Especially the Peanut Butter episode – its all about communication!

    1. Ann Ominous*

      The Sandman on Netflix – just, wow. Really well cast and great cinematography. And kind of trippy and dreamy.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’m watching Sandman too (and re-reading the graphic novel as well). The cast is impressive, and the visuals amazing!

      2. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Just started it last night. SO GOOD. I’ve been a fan since the original and it does not disappoint. Spouse is brand new to the series and enjoys it equally well.

      3. Lilo*

        I got to the diner episode and just couldn’t anymore. It was obvious very early on in the episode what was going to happen and I just felt like they were dragging it out and it was just massively unpleasant.

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      I already mentioned A League of Their Own on Amazon Prime.

      On Thursday night I watched Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story on Netflix. Really great documentary. Leo Baker is a top American skateboarder selected for the 2020 Olympics, but he’s a trans man and selected for the woman’s team/event. He’s face with the decision to fully and explicitly come out or remain closeted and and risk his mental health and life for the opportunity of a lifetime.

      Baker is part of the older (now 30) New York skateboarding scene. Very much a street skateboarder, “it’s an art/a lifestyle not a sport”, skateboarding is antiestablishment and punk scene. Never loved the competitions (although they provided money for Baker’s family to live on) and never expected skateboarding to be in the Olympics so it’s not a lifelong dream.

      Highly recommended.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Only Murders in the Building Season 2, which is managing to get an astonishing and delightful amount of mileage out of some glitter.

      Better Call Saul. Last episode of the series will drop (for me) Tuesday morning. Watching the show from the beginning with my spouse–now in season 3–and it is still great, with little moments that resonate more. (Every time Howard or Chuck condescends to Kim, I shiver now.)

      1. Astoria*

        Love Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. Will binge both this weekend in anticipation of the BCS finale Monday evening.

          1. Falling Diphthong*


            Or at least it doesn’t work with her, and he can tell it doesn’t work.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            On pondering this: Chuck is clearly beloved and revered in the local legal community. I wonder if, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, he wasn’t a condescending asshole to everyone around him? To Jimmy, sure, but to others I would guess he managed to be charming and level-headed? And it was the progression of his mental illness–he dealt with no one but Jimmy, and when he starts going out again people give him a lot of leeway based on the past relationship and their memories of Old Chuck, but he can’t find the shreds of not being an asshole?

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just finished Obi-Wan Kenobi last night, so now I’m debating whether I want to watch more Star Wars, one of the MCU series I haven’t gotten to yet (Moon Knight or Ms Marvel), or something else entirely.

      MCU fans — on Disney+, the “Assembled” series is a bunch of making-of docos on at least the phase 4 movies/TV shows (I forget offhand if they go back earlier than that), and they’re REALLY well done. The one for Multiverse of Madness is hosted by Bruce Campbell and I about fell out my chair laughing.

    5. the cat's ass*

      I’ve been very engaged by “Extraordinary Attorney Woo.” on Netflix-it’s about a brilliant neuro divergent woman who’s an attorney in S Korea.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I finished all the Marvel stuff and Obi-Wan, watched Lightyear (it was good), watched a bunch of true crime/cult docuseries, was about to start The Sandman, and BOOM—Season 3 of Locke and Key dropped. I will miss this one when it’s over (this is the last season).

      Only Murders in the Building Season 2. Loving it.

      What We Do in the Shadows Season 4. This is my favorite show right now. Every episode is a GEM.

      I’m waiting for Hulu’s The Great to come back. That show is amazing. Nicholas Hoult steals every scene he’s in. “Everybody loves me! Huzzah!”

    7. WellRed*

      I’ve started in coupled on Netflix with Neil Patrick Harris. May also check out Gone Mom, which appears to be a made for tv movie about a mom if five who just disappeared about two years ago. Husband and second wife suspects but he’s since killed himself. This is a true story here in New England.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I’m planning to watch “Fire and Blood,” about the Vikings in Ireland, but given the weather this weekend, I doubt I’ll be watching TV. It’s actually too hot to go out but I still feel like I shouldn’t be doing indoor stuff. Temperatures are dropping Monday though, to pretty much back to normal.

    9. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Harley Quinn. Be warned, while it’s animated it is NOT FOR CHILDREN, and it is also NSFW.

      Also just finished off S3 of “For All Mankind”.

      And for my inner child, I’m working through “Samurai Jack”

    10. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Free movies on YouTube — *Madea Goes to Jail*, *Cleopatra*, *The Mechanic*. I enjoyed them all in different ways. *Cleopatra* was pretty spectacular in terms of sets and costumes and some compelling acting from Rex Harrison.

    11. Frankie Bergstein*

      Big Grrrls (Amazon Prime) – Lizzo’s show where she searches for her backup dancers.

      Indian Matchmaking (Netflix) – about a matchmaker’s work in Bombay and a few US cities.

    12. Random Biter*

      Erm….don’t hate me but I watched a bunch of the dumbest vampire movies I’ve ever seen. The kind that make you think….somebody paid somebody for this? Oh…and some MST3K. I did watch Vamp for the gazillionth time then was depressed when I looked up the cast members only to discover they’re oldsters like me ::sigh::

  17. Bobina*

    Gardening thread: feels like its been a while since we’ve had one? How are all the green things doing?

    Its heatwave central here, so my outside plants are looking very droopy but most of the indoor ones dont mind the extra warmth. The rubber plant in particular definitely thrives on it. My monstera dropped a massive new leaf last week which somehow amuses me because it feels so out of proportion to the others on it :D Also, if anyone has tips to help train it to grow more vertically (I have a “moss” pole) rather than just outwards? Tying it seems to have made zero difference so far…

    1. Ann Ominous*

      Not sure if there’s a way to train it to grow more vertically, but you could always tie some soft green ribbon around the outside and connect that to a central stake, which will gather them up in a more vertical bunch.

      My tomatoes are coming in like crazy – so many varieties -and I just harvested some potatoes! I always wanted to grow them but my partner didn’t, because there’s not a ton of yield. I realized this year that this isn’t a factor for me, I just want to have grown them, so I did! Excited to eat them.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      My spouse’s coworker continues to generate epic amounts of zucchini.

      My daisies seem to be all fading, having been planted just before a prolonged hot and rainless period.

      The rose of sharon and pinky winky hydrangeas are doing really well, providing almost all the flowers/color at the moment as the lilies are done.

    3. Red Sky*

      I use a tall wooden stake and plant velcro to train my monstera to grow up. The key is to continue to tie the main stem to the stake as it grows (if the stems starts leaning or flopping down I know it’s time to add another velcro tie. I’ll also manually wrap the aerial roots around the stake.

      My experience with moss polls (actual sphag moss, not coco coir) is that they’re good for plants that have smaller roots that can easily wiggle into the moss, and supporting structure, and anchor themselves, you also really have to make sure the moss is consistently moist so the roots will seek out the moisture there. I’ve found monstera’s aerial roots are too big to successfully root to a moss pole.

      If you’ve got a coco coir pole, sometimes referred to as a moss pole, you can treat it the same as if it’s a wood stake and use plant velcro to secure the stem as it grows. If you keep the coco coir consistently moist you might get some of the aerial roots to stick to it, but I personally haven’t had any luck.

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      Two words: Tomato. Sandwiches.

      One of my five tomato plants, a Pink Boar variety, is quite prolific. One, Moskvich, is less so but very sweet and tasty (and easy to tell when ripe due to color). A third, Berkeley Tie-Dye, has produced a grand total of THREE large tomatoes and I am feeling let down by all the care (and water) I’ve put into it.

      I am attempting to save seeds for next year and have not been able to find anyone who has combined two methods the way I want to: drying full tomato slices and then rehydrating to plant next season. (I am also drying seeds in the recommended manner, but of course they are tiny and fiddly to handle.) I only need 4-6 plants total, and I usually have a mix of varieties, so I’m fine with overplanting/lower germination rate and just encouraging a few strong starts. Do you think it will work?

      1. Girasol*

        Panzanella! Bread and tomato salad, like a tomato sandwich in bowl. We planted Ten Fingers of Naples sauce tomatoes for the first time and they ripened way before the table tomatoes. As it turns out, that’s okay because they’re great in panzanella.

      2. Firebird*

        I didn’t bother doing anything fancy with my heirloom tomato plants. Last year I took slices of heirloom tomatoes and laid them on top of a pot full of seedstarter mix. I left it alone in the spare bedroom for the winter. I think the seedstarter mix did all the drying necessary. This spring I sprinkled some more seedstarter on top and started watering. It seems like everything germinated and they are growing like weeds.

        The only problem is that I mixed up the pots and I won’t know which varieties are in which pot until harvest time.

        I tried the same thing with green pepper plants but none of them came up.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Ooh, surprise tomatoes! Sounds like your method was a success!

          I tried planting a sweet red mini pepper start in late May and it just did not thrive — transplant shock or something about its container. It dropped the one tiny pepper, and looked sad for 2-3 weeks, but I gave it a little fertilizer and kept watering, and its new leaves are nice and green. We’re due for a September heat wave, so maybe it’ll come into its own still.

      3. Filosofickle*

        Tomato on sourdough rocks my socks. Yum. Bacon too but honestly just tomato is fabulous

    5. Filosofickle*

      Oh my goodness I decided to dig up some foxtail fern offshoots that are trying to take over the area and there is a whole world down there! I just kept digging and digging to get whole tuber clusters, they go on forever.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Our volunteer cherry tomatoes are producing like crazy, which kind of makes up for how bad the others have done. Deer decapitated 2 early ripening big-tomato plants, and the plums all have the bottoms rotting out. My 2 zucchini plants are suffering the same way so I figure we need to do some disease research.
      But I had given up hope on my giant crown lilies, and 2 plants burst into bloom among the tomato pots. No separating them, they are beautifully entangled.

      1. Westsidestory*

        Look up “blossom end rot”.

        Usually caused by irregular watering or lack of calcium in the soil. . .you may be able to save the crop by watering in bone meal or applying a liquid fertilizer that contains calcium.

    7. Round Little Wink*

      For some reason unknown to man and fairies, my pot basil is going like gangbusters. I’ve made two separate rounds of pesto and can easily get another couple. Gotta say, the water from below method is FAB for this herb.

      The chives are doing fine, and the mint is bonkers. I think I need some extra nutrition in the window box of green onions tho. Suggestions? I’ve done a few years worth and I am pretty sure I need a supplement of some kind.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had another neat gardening thing to share: Our blue hydrangeas have one pink blossom. We can’t think what’s causing such localized pH variation!

  18. Porch Screens*

    Cat adoption when you already have cats! When you’ve added another cat or kitten to your existing crew, what sort of factors did you consider? How did you decide on an adult vs. a kitten, male vs. female (or if it mattered at all), active vs. chill?

    We’re looking to potentially add a third feline to our household at some point in the future, where the two resident cats are a 3 yr old male and a 2 yr old female. Both like to play but the male is generally more chill and independent and sleeps more than our female. The female is basically my shadow most of the time, can be fairly high-energy, and seems to get bored of toys more quickly. When introducing the female (4 months at adoption) to our male, things went fairly well – I kept them separated for a few days, though he had the opportunity to look in on her if he wanted. He was hissy for the first couple of days and she basically ignored him in favor of me or toys. Once I gave her run of the house, he was actually the first to start initiating play and they’ve gotten on fine since then – they like each other but they’re not bonded or anything. Our male does sometimes get agitated when he sees neighborhood cats/strays close to the house and our female seems to swing between being disinterested and curiousity.

    Final note, the cost, time and space factors aren’t an issue – we thankfully have the time, the space, and the money to afford adding a third. I’m mainly trying to consider age, general personality, and activity level to determine a hopefully good match for the two cats we have.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I have heard that the easiest combination is an opposite-gender, younger companion – but as you note, it also comes down to personality, and you already have a boy and girl. It sounds like a second female kitten would be the best fit to me, that matches the playfulness of the existing house. Older cat seem to understand that kittens are not threats and deserve some tolerance (this tolerance wears off as they age – but at least the kitten got the chance to learn the rules of interaction while it was in place!). I would try to avoid a cat that will “threaten” the dominance of your current tom because you note he is already agitated by interlopers, which to me is a sign that he would not enjoy another big male companion. Also a kitten that is very hyper will probably irritate the older ones who don’t want to play as much – look for one that’s a bit more mellow and easygoing.

    2. Cj*

      We have had multiple cats in our house for many, many years, and have found it in 90% of the cases the males are more mellow and affectionate. We fortunately not had to go through the work of separating them for a long time. They’ve all been used to other cats in the past, and got along good right away. Even the cat we adopted recently from a Humane Society that was in a cage so she didn’t get to interact a lot with the other cats who were also in cages was at least used to cats.

      We’ve only had one failure, when an outside cat that we brought over from my in-laws because he got picked on by their other cats just loved our dogs but attacked our cats no matter what we did. He’s now a shop cat.

      Other than the cat we just adopted, they had all been
      adult strays that showed up in our acreage. They were apparently used to other cats where were they had come from. Introducing an adult cat that hasn’t been around cats before might be harder. In that case I guess I would get a kitten.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Lysander was elderly and low energy when we adopted Leo, who was 2 and a wild man. They never really got along but after several years would sleep on opposite ends of the same couch. After Lysander went, we adopted Arty, who was 9 months. (Leo is now 5.). She ADORES her big brother but shows it by leaping on him and otherwise being a brat. So they mostly interact by wrestling. We did get a female because Leo can be territorial.

    4. Jackalope*

      What I’ve heard is that if you adopt kittens that are under 4 months old, the older cats are generally going to consider them not threatening, and they’re more likely to at least be able to cohabitate in peace. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but we did this last year when we went from 2 to 4 cats, and getting a kitten pair worked pretty well after the first couple of weeks. And now they mostly all get along; right now I have one of the older cats and one of the younger cats both snuggling on my lap.

      (If you are able to go up to 4, I do recommend getting a bonded pair to introduce to your house; that’s what I/we did with all of our cats and it worked really well. But that may well be too many cats for you, so ignore if this part is unhelpful.)

    5. WS*

      Either young kittens that the older cats will be okay with, or an adult cat that is known to be chill and wants to be around other cats. I lost one of my elderly cats and the other one was very lonely, so I adopted a bonded adult pair. My elderly cat is not impressed at all, but he is much happier with their company. There’s still the occasional fight, though.

  19. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    What are people making at the moment?

    I’ve temporarily abandoned my jumper knit as I’m finding it far too hot for it. I’ve started a beta knit for a Woolly Wormhead hat instead and I’m enjoying the rather unique construction.

    1. Ewesername*

      The family has requested socks for Christmas. I’ve knit 4 pairs so far, three more to go. Currently finishing the first of a pair for someone with size 15 feet. I’m used to knitting for my little size 6s, so this one seems never-ending. I think I’ll knock off a pair of kiddo size before I tackle the second one.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Wow, size 15 socks, that’s a real labour of love. Sounds like you’re on track and making good progress with the knitting.

    2. Not Australian*

      I usually have several patchwork projects on the go at any given time, and since this time of year is too hot for quilting I get them to the ‘sandwich’ stage and leave them for the cooler weather (I am 100% a hand-stitcher and quilter). Currently I’m assembling a cat-themed quilt made by our group, and also a 900-patch ‘postage stamp’ quilt. Planning to branch out a little and make a patchwork ‘circle skirt’ next in shades of indigo and navy, using repurposed/thrifted fabric, but it may not be finished in time to wear it this year.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I really ought to find the motivation to continue to the paper pieced quilt I started making at the beginning of the pandemic. I have about half the blocks completed, a couple more designed, and then ran out of steam. It’s partly my own fault for deciding to design everything myself for my first quilt project. And partly down to moving house and changing jobs mid pandemic.

    3. Susie*

      I’m knitting a scarf for my 7yo that looks like dragon scales. I got the yarn at a fiber festival and it is perfect for this pattern.
      I’m planning out throw pillow patterns for my aunt in laws. First time designing a pattern so fingers crossed it works out.

    4. MissCoco*

      I just started rage-blocking a crocheted baby blanket that’s been such a chore. I know the parents will adore it, but I found the pattern I picked a bit boring, and then the border (usually my favorite part of a blanket) was coming out rumpled. I frogged four rows of the border and threw it in our tub to wet block. Hopefully once it’s a bit more rectangular I will be able to do a fun creative border and wrap up this project on a positive note!

      1. Houndmom*

        I knit to keep my hands busy and tend to make easy items — blankets, scarves and hats. Can anyone recommend an easy pattern for socks or mittens? I am not talented but love yarn and would like to make useful things.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          I love Yarn Harlot’s cloisonee mitten pattern – the cuffs are fun, and then because it’s aran weight wool the rest is over before I’m bored of it. (I like the look of the stained glass windows in black, but don’t actually like knitting black wool!)

          I haven’t tried socks – her basic sock recipe is apparently a classic, but it’s in a book rather than online. See https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sock-recipe-a-good-plain-sock

          1. HoundMom*

            Thanks so much. My daughter is going to be home for the first time in three years for the regional sheep and yarn festival and both of us are going to try these patterns.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I was told to start socks with “Toe-up Knitting” because you can do both socks roughly to low height then add a row at a time until you run out of yarn on both equally. But I got frustrated with short rows and Those socks have been sitting on the needle without heels for easily ten years.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I hope everything went well with the threading! I know some are more complex than others, but I found that mine was actually a lot more straightforward to thread than I had feared.

    5. eeeek*

      I stepped away from projects while I got ready for a big trip, and the sewing room started to accumulate things (old suitcases, a new mend-or-pitch pile, a pile of Forbidden Dog Toys…) I need to clear that out and contemplate the UFOs. I “need” to make room on my shelves, and the easiest way to do that would be to make three pillows I’ve been procrastinating about. What I want to do is lay out dresses (a lovely linen floral print will make a work-appropriate sundress worn with a sweater, and a flowy bamboo jersey knit will make up into a long-sleeved ballerina top with a full skirt…I think).
      Ooooh, thinking about it here makes me want to get to work. I’ll cut out the pillows, first. ;)

    6. Random Biter*

      I’ve been a cross stitching fool. More than one (Halloween-related, of course) projects going on at once. Keeps me out of the fridge and I donate the finished project to the local Pit Crew rescue I belong to for raffle/auction items.

  20. Waiting on the bus*

    Charity donations!
    Do you give to charity? Money, goods, volunteer work?
    Which charities do you give to, do you do research before donating to new causes? Any thoughts on micro loan organisations like Kiva?

    If you work in the field, anything you would like donors to know or consider?

    1. UKDancer*

      I give to charity regularly.

      I have a direct debit to Guide Dogs and I’m sponsoring a guide dog there. They train dogs to support blind people and then find them a person. I get pictures of my puppy and videos and she’s so cute. I’m allergic to dogs so I love seeing her but also being able to breathe.

      I also contribute to a food bank in the area my grandfather lived. It’s a very deprived area and the poverty has got exponentially worse in recent months. So I give them money each month because it reminds me of how wonderful he was and how lucky I am to have escaped that place.

      And then off and on I support charities in Ukraine because I like the country very much. Sometimes I take goods to the Ukrainian cafe when they’re collecting for a lorry to Ukraine. I also support events to fundraise for that community. This is more of an ad-hoc basis.

    2. Asenath*

      Yes, I give to charities – money, sometimes goods and sometimes time. I have a list of charities I prefer (I think everyone has their favourites) – mostly local, although I have one international charity I give to regularly and another I give to less often. I choose them based on their activities (well, that’s probably obvious! Why else would one donate to a charity?), and at one time back when I started I probably looked them up on one of those rating sites. I rarely add new causes for regular donations, although I often make one-off donations in response to particular issues – in memoriam requests, local or sometimes international special situations, fundraisers. And although I will participate in fundraisers, buying things from charities, I do not like charities that send me little “gifts” in hopes of encouraging further donations. Or ones that list my name publicly. Mostly, they’re good about that, but an acquaintance said recently that she noticed I’d donated to a local cause when she heard an announcement of donors, and really, I like charity to be private.

      1. Waiting on the bus*

        I’m with you on disliking the “gifts” or public announcements. I get that they do it because there are people who want to get some sort of acknowledgement, but I really dislike it personally. There’s an annual donation drive sponsored by our local newspaper that everyone in my family donates to except for me. The name of the donors are always made public and there’s no way to opt out of that.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I work in the sector. Here are things to think about for financial contributions.

      An important thing to consider is that there’s a myth about charities being most effective if they spend almost nothing on their overhead. In reality, organizations that are effective require the infrastructure to operate well. This includes a living salary for staff, funding for key functions such as finance and human resources, etc. Charities without that lead to burnout, high turnover, and rotating leadership that makes them less able to accomplish their stated work. While there are a few charities that inappropriately spend the majority of their funding on their own organization and little on their work, they are definitely the exception.

      As a donor, I look at charities’ accomplishments. Are they well respected by the communities they say they serve? Does their work make a difference in the world beyond what they say themselves? Note that this last one is tricky, because for work in sectors like climate change policy, etc., this is long haul work that you can’t compare to something like an organization providing free meals that can be counted annually.

      If they have a website, what do you find there? Does their board of directors demonstrate a broad range of expertise that’s relevant to the cause? Is it diverse ethnically and by gender?

      It’s good to learn the basics of reading their financial summaries. Do they appear to be on solid financial footing? Does their budget show good planning for things like reserves in place for unexpected financial challenges?

      Finally, with so many good causes out there, think about the ones that resonate with you personally. Civil rights? Endangered species? Healthcare? Something else? There’s a pretty much endless list of worthy sectors. Do you want to contribute to something in your local community or something national or global?

      1. Sloanicota*

        yes, this! I say find a charity you trust, whose mission you believe in and whose impact you can see in your community. Then, give them funding with no strings attached, ideally on some kind of regular schedule so they can plan. Don’t try to donate only to the services but not the organization, or donate products that they can probably acquire themselves more cheaply by buying in bulk.

      2. Jamie Starr*

        I also work in the non-profit sector, and your second paragraph is so important. Being a non-profit doesn’t mean the organization can or doesn’t need a profit! It means any surplus is reinvested to support the mission (or put in a reserve fund for down the road), rather than paid out to share holders or owners. (Because a non-profit doesn’t have owners.)

        GOS (general operating support) is critical for non-profits. GOS means they can spend the money on less glamorous but still important things like infrastructure, decent wages, professional development for staff, etc. GOS is the most flexible and, I think, the hardest to fundraise for.

        There is a website called Guidestar . org where you can search non-profits. (It’s free to sign up for an account.) Some orgs keep their own profiles up to date and there is a “transparency” rating system. But at a minimum you can find their 990s (federal tax returns) and audited Financial Statements (required for most non-profits). There is a section of the 990 where you have to list salaries for Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, etc. so that’s useful to see. In the Financial Statements you can look at the Schedule of Functional Expenses to see how much of their expenses are spent on programming compared to the total expenses. Ideally, you’d want to see somewhere above 75 – 80% I think. And always read the Notes in the Financial Statements – you can get a lot of good info from them!

        If you donate by credit card or online, know that the non-profit is probably getting fees taken out on the back end. Even though it’s old fashioned, I still give most of my contributions by check so they aren’t charged fees.

        I donate mostly to arts organizations, especially the one near where I grew up, in a fairly rural area. My money makes more of an impact there (compared to giving to MoMA, for example). There are a lot of families living at or near the poverty line so for things where I would get something free with my donation (art class, supplies), I also ask that be donated to a family/child who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it.

        1. Waiting on the bus*

          Thanks for the tip with the website! That’s super useful.

          I suspected the part about the GOS so for the big donations at the end of the year I try to make 50% in general to the organisation and the other 50% to specific projects I especially support. Does that sound like a good ratio?

          1. Jamie Starr*

            I think whatever you can give is probably appreciated! But when you say end of the year, do you mean calendar year? Is that the same as the org’s fiscal year end? It might be nice for the org to get the GOS earlier in their fiscal year rather than at the end of it.

            1. Waiting on the bus*

              I meant calendar year as I usually remember around late November/early December that I haven’t used my charity budget yet. That’s a good point about the org’s fiscal year!

        2. Decidedly Me*

          In regards to credit card fees, the majority (if not all) of the places I’ve donated to in the last few years have a checkbox to cover those fees yourself. Just something to check out for the places you support :)

          1. Jamie Starr*

            Yes, for online donations that’s normally an option. But if you’re responding to a mailer and using credit card that way it’s not usually an option. Also, if you cover the fees, then you end up paying a bit more, right? Like if I want to giver $250 and there are $3.5 in fees, my card is charged $253.50. But if I send a check, I pay $250 (plus the price of postage stamp), and the org gets $250. And greedy corps/banks don’t get the “convenience” fee. Of course, there is the “value” of the time it takes me to write the check, mail it, etc. but I’d rather do that than give money to a bank/ccard company for doing nothing.

        3. WoodswomanWrites*

          I want to shout your comments about general operating support from the rooftops. Unrestricted funding is essential.

        4. Observer*

          In the Financial Statements you can look at the Schedule of Functional Expenses to see how much of their expenses are spent on programming compared to the total expenses. Ideally, you’d want to see somewhere above 75 – 80% I think. And always read the Notes in the Financial Statements – you can get a lot of good info from them!

          This is good advice. But do keep in mind that you need to be very careful in how you look at that ratio. What is actually being put into each category is one question to ask. But also, why does the ration look like it does.

          For an example of this kind of issue. Many guides treat “capital” expenditures much like “overhead”, with all of the attendant negativity. So one charity that spend a lot of money (I don’t recall the name now) on purchasing key properties to protect them got dinged for having “too much cap ex”. Except that this was a key part of their strategy!

          Even though it’s old fashioned, I still give most of my contributions by check so they aren’t charged fees.

          Except that there is a real cost to the organization with paper checks. I may be wrong, but I think that ACH transfers are probably the least costly to an organization. But your best bet is to check with the organization and ask them what is the method of donating that is the least costly to them.

      3. Observer*

        In reality, organizations that are effective require the infrastructure to operate well. This includes a living salary for staff, funding for key functions such as finance and human resources, etc. Charities without that lead to burnout, high turnover, and rotating leadership that makes them less able to accomplish their stated work.

        Not only that – it’s actually MORE expensive to operate at all, and harder to be effective at your goal, if you don’t spend on that infrastructure. Also some of that so called overhead is often required by law, local regulations or the contracts that come with many grants.

        For instance, we are REQUIRED BY LAW to take reasonable measures to keep the information about our clients secure and confidential. That costs a lot of money on the infrastructure.

        Record-keeping, required reporting and data tracking that supports good management and decision making are all part of the “overhead” that people complain about. But I can tell you that having these systems saves us an enormous amount in program costs (and in other overhead costs).

        It’s a lot cheaper to have a good, well paid fiscal apparatus (staff, services, IT, etc.) than to have your program staff manage their own finances. Especially when it leads, as it inevitably does, to wasted money and audits (which are always a huge drain of time and money even when you come out clean) which program staff need to deal with rather than with their service area.

        I could go on, but google “overhead myth” for some good information on the issue.

    4. PsychNurse*

      I work for an organization that, while it isn’t exactly a charity, does run partially on donations. Here’s my advice. If the charity is anywhere near you, and if it’s the kind of place you can visit or call— Go do that, and see what the experience is actually like for their clients. (I realize not all charities have “clients,” but I’m thinking about food pantries, places that help people get documentation, etc). Call and see how the receptionist is. Go in the door— are you treated with respect? If there are clients around, does it seem like they’re being well treated?

      I’m saying this because my organization puts on a GREAT show to funders. PowerPoints of smiling children, all this info about the wonderful programs. If the only thing you do is interact with our website and our marketing people, it seems like an amazing place to donate to. But in reality, there’s a lot of mismanagement and our clients are not very well treated.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I have certain charities that I donate to regularly. Most are well-known ones with good repuations, St. Vincent de Paul, Trócaire, Peter McVerry Trust. Information about them is very easily and readily available

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I give automatic monthly donations of money. Local environmental groups, local food pantry, local NPR. Planned Parenthood, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy. Staying on my list is contingent on not sending me stuff.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I have monthly donations to a local org that helps homeless and low-income folks with a food pantry, shelter, educational resources and material needs, and to an abortion fund. We also donate semi-regularly to the shelter we adopted our late, great dog from.

    8. Helvetica*

      I have three monthly payments: one for a cat rescue, one for my country’s LGBT society, and one for an an independent feminist publication. I chose them because I used to volunteer at that cat shelter for 2 years and know how much they rely on donations, and the other two are really the dominant organisations dealing with those issues in my country and I want to support them. So not a lot to research since there aren’t alternatives but I have looked at how they use the money, i.e. projects they conduct, and I fully support all of them.

    9. fposte*

      When I give goods, it’s mostly as a part of decluttering, so I can’t really consider myself as doing them a favor with those donations, though I understand their importance. I have a donor-advised fund and give regularly to several favorite charities with the occasional spontaneous donation for something that caught my eye or a pressing immediate need. I have a couple of local charities and then some national/international ones. I do some research before donating to new causes, since if, for instance, I want to support Ukraine I know there are lots of dubious orgs hopping on the bandwagon, but I don’t worry too much about maximizing–I just want to avoid straight up fraud.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      I volunteer regularly at our food bank (packing boxes, sorting stuff – it’s very satisfying).

      I also volunteer for the candidate who I hope wins the Senate race in Wisconsin, replying to texts that he gets in response to text campaigns. I can do this from my computer in my house. My husband has been and will continue to knock doors for this candidate, but I hate doing doors.

      I have helped local candidates with their communications messaging and strategies, including translating one friend’s campaign site into Spanish after I looked at her voter demographics and discovered 14% of them were native Spanish speakers, which was not what we had expected for eastern Wisconsin.

      I volunteer as a pollworker during elections and have volunteered at the election commission.

      We donate $$ to critical political campaigns (the friend who’s running for Senate) and to other causes we care about, like supporting first-generation college students and local hunger and housing charities. We are very close to everything we support financially and see how they use the money.

    11. Rara Avis*

      I knew someone who talked about “time, talent, and treasure.” I mostly give time. I bake for an organization allied Cake4Kids that provides birthday cakes for kids who might not otherwise get one. My kid and I also volunteer at our local cat shelter. My mom does Friends of the Library and a local genealogical library (they are photographing and digitizing every gravestone in every cemetery in the state); my dad volunteers at the hospital delivering supplies to different departments.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t give much now but I’ve tossed a few bucks to Razom for Ukraine and World Central Kitchen when I can.

    13. mreasy*

      I give quite a bit, maybe around $700/month all told. I’m very fortunate to be able to afford it. I mostly do $10-30 monthly donations to organizations offering direct support. I have my ACLU, SPLC, Planned Parenthood in lock, but I have been giving to a lot of stare abortion funds, direct local organizations focusing on trans & LGBTQ+ youth, and grassroots anti racist advocacy groups, as well as my neighborhood food bank, cat rescue, and mutual aid organization. We’re lucky that with a bit of googling, you can usually find out who is legit and who is doing the most to directly support people.

      1. mreasy*

        I also do some volunteer work though not as much as I would like, and give clothing/housewares/etc to local orgs & Goodwill.

    14. Anon scientist*

      At this point in my life what I have to give is money (not time) and I donate to some regulars – a local and international human rights org, an international development/relief org, an animal support org, my local house of worship (which badly needs it – the congregation is not very well off), and the local soup kitchen, which also gets matching donations through my work.

      I do one additional thing: I love buying notecards (I’m actually kind of addicted and it’s how I support local artists) and writing letters, so I found a couple of charities that send cards to folks who could use them, and I buy cards/write letters as I have time, and then send out a big box about once a year. So I’m really helping but also don’t need to Interact with people.

      1. mreasy*

        I love this idea! I also always want to buy notecards but never have use for them. Such a nice way to connect.

    15. Ginger Pet Lady*

      To be completely honest, I’d donate a lot more if I could give WITHOUT being pressed for more! more! more! for years afterward. Every single donation I’ve made in the past has made me regret it because of the constant spam and phone calls (even when I did NOT give my phone number!) that followed.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        In addition to working in the nonprofit sector, I’m also a donor to multiple organizations. There are two I support with a monthly contribution and the others are once a year. For my own organization as well those I contribute to, all of them have honored my requests about not receiving additional solicitations. I just had to ask, which sometimes involves digging around their website for the privacy policy for looking up a contact email or phone number for their donor team. While the default for many is to continue asking, you can tell them you don’t want to me on their lists and they remove you.

        In the US, the IRS categorizes nonprofits with different designations. The ones where donations are tax-deductible are 501(c)(3) organizations, and that is listed on their website and paper communications. I donate to a lot of these charities and every single one has taken me off their paper and email lists when I’ve asked.

        The only times it’s been a challenge to get off lists have been donations to advocacy/political groups with the IRS designation of 501(c)(4), the ones that are not tax-deductible. As an example, it’s a massive effort to get my 94-year-old mom off the email lists of the Democratic Party. With multiple variations of their email address, they send her messages up to seven times a day. She forgets that she already donated to yesterday’s request so I helped her set up a small monthly donation and unsubscribed her from their list. It’s gotten to the point where I have to check her email every day as a preventive measure so she doesn’t see them, unsubscribe her yet again, and label everything as spam.

      2. Waiting on the bus*

        I hear you on how annoying that can be. There’s one organisation which I gladly support but right after you make a donation they’ll immediately follow up with an auto responder going “thanks for helping! X and Y also need your support, why don’t you check them out? :) :) :)” and I’m like, I JUST GAVE YOU MONEY! At least wait a little bit before you ask for more.

        I was able to unsubscribe from that, thankfully. If I ever got an unsolicited phone call I might boycott that org on principle though, no matter the cause. I would absolutely hate that.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I received a mailing that had both messages on the envelope— thank you, enclosed are your membership cards … PLEASE DONATE TODAY. Um, the membership donation is what you’re getting for the year go away.

          And a long time ago I negotiated with my local PP that I would only donate if they didn’t contact me for 12 months and it worked! That was when most things were still on paper, might not work today but I should try

      3. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Ugh, yes. The Democratic party texts me mercilessly. It does not make me want to give them more money.

    16. tessa*

      I donate to the ASPCA, Save the Chimps, and the (President Jimmy) Carter Center, all of which garner the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator, which breaks down how charities spend donations.

    17. RosyGlasses*

      I give to a Workers Fund in NY that my friend works at – supporting farm workers. I also give to Planned Parenthood. Memberships to the Oregon Historical Society and the Japanese Gardens are my other supports to charities.

    18. HannahS*

      I give to a kosher food bank. Honestly, I know very little about them, but there’s only one in town and they do important work. They have a good reputation.

      I volunteered a lot when I was a student–museums and science education, mostly, but my work schedule doesn’t allow it anymore.

    19. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I give mostly money to food banks, homeless shelters, voting rights orgs, civil rights orgs, etc. There are so many people and causes needing help in our world right now.

    20. IT Manager*

      I listened to a podcast recently (and then did some followup reading) about Effective Altruism that really made me think about my charity priorities and causes. Not sure I fully buy in to all their ideas but it was an interesting way to make me think about what is an *effective* use of my resources rather than the ones that I’m used to or “feel good”.

    21. Smol Book Wizard*

      As someone who’s worked in both these places, I would very much recommend donating to your local schools and to your local Boys & Girls Club and/or other low-cost childcare options.

      For schools, even in an affluent district the materials needed to run an special education classroom well were more than the school provided for us, and so Teacher and us assistants had to make do and use our own paychecks at times to help. I shudder to think what the SPED classrooms are like in a place that was even less well off. Local school districts may have donation pages, or if you call up and ask the office of your nearest school, they can probably give you some ideas. Hand sanitizer, snacks, and wipes are almost always useful, as are good-quality markers and crayons and such.
      For childcare centers, craft supplies and sturdy, educational toys like Legos and puzzles, or anything else specific they mention. I bought a lot of those myself for the kids at my Club job and will periodically drop off a load there still.

  21. Anon for this*

    Hope this is ok to post as the topic is medical but I’m not looking for a diagnosis.

    I’ve had some (digestive) symptoms that started around two months ago without apparent triggers. Some pain and a lot of discomfort, nothing that stops me from going about my day, but unusual and lasting enough that I got concerned and decided to speak with a doctor. All I could get was telephone appointments with services external to my GP, which didn’t help. The first professional advised “this is temporary, try Remedy X for a week and call back if still an issue”. After less than a week, Remedy X was making things worse and I stopped. The second person I spoke to was clearly under pressure to close the call quickly, and prescribed something that doesn’t match my symptoms at all, with risks of heavy side effects on top. I decided to hold off taking it until I could speak with someone face to face.

    I managed to get my face to face appointment in a week’s time, explaining I have a prescription that doesn’t feel right and I’d like to discuss it further. The thing is… I seem to be getting better. Pain has stopped, discomfort is way lower, though I still think I’m not functioning as usual. It’s more of an “I know what my body looks and feels like and something isn’t right” sensation: anyone looking at me would conclude I seem just fine.

    What I want at this stage is some help understanding what it is that I had. Whether I’m slowly getting over it, or because of how long the symptoms lasted, there are causes that it’s best to rule out or treat. At the start, I was hoping to get referred for some tests (one in particular is a very close match for my symptoms), and now it seems unlikely I can achieve that.

    So what now: still attend the appointment, and explain everything I said here? Cancel it so they can spend the time on other patients? I know I’d benefit for some face time with a professional and a more detailed explanation of possible causes, I just hope it won’t come across as wasting their time once I start explaining that part of what I need now is a better sense of what “normal” should look like.

    1. PsychNurse*

      In my experience, it’s a waste of a visit to go in with “I used to feel bad but now I feel fine”! I’ve been in the same situation you describe, where you make the appt and then your symptoms resolve before the day comes. I don’t think you need to worry about taking up an appointment that could be used by someone else— but do play out the appt in your head in advance to see if you really anticipate any answers from it.

    2. Ann Ominous*

      “I had a thing and now the symptoms have resolved, but I’d like to describe what they were and what I unsuccessfully tried, and get tested to see if something chronic is going on that I will need to manage. What are my options to rule out/rule in diagnoses?”

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        And add to that, if it flares again, is there a way to see someone right away so they can actually see it?

        I’ve had what appears to be a Bell’s palsy on my right side 3 times, about 20 years apart. It goes away completely each time. The second time it was gone by the time I got to the specialist (my GP made the appt!!) and he literally yelled at me. So the 3rd time I went to a walk in clinic so someone could see it and it was not just me claiming it.

        1. Anon for this*

          Oh, this is a good point. The last time I had anything remotely similar, the pain was so bad I called the emergency number, and they told me to get a hot water bottle, try to sleep, and call again if it persisted. But then it did go away the next day and didn’t reoccur for almost a year. That made me self-conscious about wanting to be seen immediately this time round, but I should ask about that for next time.

    3. Reba*

      Lots of illness are episodic or present in flares that come and go. And sadly some illnesses take a long time to pinpoint/diagnose! So for those reasons I think it’s worth keeping the appointment, while still keeping expectations somewhat low.

      Sorry you had such a poor experience with the telehealth folks!

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

        Yes, if what you strongly suspect was the cause is a chronic condition, and not just something like a virus or food poisoning, see the doctor. Even something relatively minor like a reoccurring UTI or fungal infection could point to a systemic issue.

    4. bratschegirl*

      FWIW, when I had a prolonged bout of SIBO/SIFO a couple of years back, I got actual help from a naturopathic practice after the Kaiser gastro department basically shrugged their shoulders once the $1000 (that’s not a typo) antibiotic didn’t help. You might get better assistance from someone who practice is “functional“ or “integrative“ medicine rather than a standard MD. So much about gut health is still pretty poorly understood. I hope you find your answers soon!

    5. Lifeandlimb*

      Go ahead with the face-to-face appointment and get some medical advice. It might be just digestive, but keep in mind that it could also be a symptom of a broader problem.

      If you get no luck with medical professionals, consider speaking to a nutritionist who has experience with sensitive stomachs.

      While you wait for your appointment, I strongly recommend keeping a journal or personal calendar where you can jot down what you ate or did each day that you had symptoms. Logging my food intake (in combination with a FODMAP) diet eventually helped me get to the bottom of my issues. At the very least you can see if there’s a pattern or triggers.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, I’d recommend a nutritionist also. They will get down in the weeds with you and figure out what is up.
        Food allergies are strange, strange things. But it could be certain combinations of foods don’t work for you. Eh, who knows.

        While you are working on this, how’s your water intake? Do you drink healthy amounts on a regular basis?
        Water does so much for the body and mind, we’d be here all day counting all that it does. Regular hydration triggers proper organ function, if something in your digestive track has not been participating in a proper manner, hydration might make it kick in.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Re: Food combinations
          I know someone who loves tomatoes, loves soft gooey cheese, and cannot eat the two at the same meal. Homemade & frozen lasagna with ricotta cheese caused an argument with his mother because he thought he had food poisoning! (Disproved because she’d eaten it too.)

      2. Anon for this*

        Thank you! Getting referred to a specialist for more in-depth conversations is my ultimate goal. I was thinking a gastroenterologist, as it’s an available service at the public hospital near me, but I’d still need a referral from my GP and that’s the hardest thing to get. The price of private consultations is eye-watering, and makes me resent my workplace a little bit because they don’t offer any medical benefit apart from telehealth I’ve already tried.

        I’ve kept a food diary for a few weeks and nothing peculiar jumped out. My diet hasn’t changed, only the fact some days I’d get symptoms, and others none at all (and in answer to Not So NewReader below, water is flowing around here, couldn’t make it in this heatwave otherwise!). Still, you’re right, a nutritionist can be worth keeping in mind.

        1. Red Sky*

          With my GI issues I did an elimination diet and while there were some very obvious trigger foods discovered, it took me a while to figure out the more subtle interactions between my gi tract, my environment, and certain trigger foods. Turns out I’ve also got Oral Allergy Syndrome (aka pollen food syndrome) that flares up when pollen counts are high and turns safe foods into trigger foods and my gut gets really mad, but those same foods are safe to eat when pollen counts are low. Not saying this is the case in your situation, but just another variable to consider.

          There’s also what I think of as an intolerance scale for certain foods, where occasional smaller amounts may be ok but eating them regularly or in large amounts can trigger a reaction and those aren’t always obvious in an elimination diet.

          Here’s hoping it was something simple like a stomach bug or food poisoning and that you’re on the mend.

    6. Red Sky*

      Don’t cancel and when you see doc say something like – I’ve been having these GI symptoms for a few weeks, but now they seem to be improving, in case they’re not I’d like to have a plan in place for next steps without having to come back in for another appt. Can you make a note in my chart to that effect and give me a referral for (colonoscopy or other testing you want, referral to GI doc etc) that I can use if I do get worse again. When I started having my GI symptoms there was a set process of testing (blood and fecal) and treatment (rx, elimination diet) I had to follow that eventually worked it’s way up to colonoscopy. I guess they want to eliminate more likely, smaller causes before doing the more invasive and expensive testing.

      Also share your research and ideas about what you think might be going on, a good doctor will appreciate any additional insight. My current doc shared they’re actually now trained to ask if you’ve done any internet research and what you’ve found because you are the expert on your own body and may find connections missed in a 15 min appt.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you so much, the way you worded it is perfect and I’ll remember to mention my internet research. I’m surprised, in a good way, to hear there are doctors that take it seriously. I’ve not been taken seriously with much more evident issues in the past, so, got a long way to go to fully trust that I’ll be heard.

    7. fposte*

      My recommendation is to keep it bullet-pointed rather than making a long narrative. But also, I’d say, be aware that diagnosis is not really an important thing to doctors in a lot of cases, and it often doesn’t matter as much to patients as it feels like because it often doesn’t unlock anything special about treatment and is affected by the changes in culture and science. Generally they’ll rule out the really dangerous things and the clear interventions, and after that a situation may not be diagnosable, or would only be diagnosable with a ton of expensive tests that they won’t be allowed to order and your insurance may balk at and wouldn’t result in any new or different management suggestions. Then add to that the possibility that this was something transient that can’t be confirmed objectively after the fact anyway; I had an ER visit with what we’re presuming was viral enteritis, for instance, but there’s no way to prove that now, and that was several months to normal (and I’m still a little more reactive so probably am not really there yet).

      So I’d also consider what questions you want answers to if you would never have a firm explanation beyond an exclusionary one.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks, that’s helpful! To be honest, excluding the more dangerous stuff would be a lot already, and I could see myself being content with finding someone who takes the time to walk me through that. Even if they said “the medicine you got prescribed is actually worth trying for reasons X, Y, Z”, that would go a long way to answer questions I have that the last telehealth appointment completely ignored.

        1. fposte*

          That all sounds very reasonable. I also think that it’s worth seeing a doctor face to face if this might be something you could need subsequent visits for; it can help a lot to build a bit of rapport with a doctor for that.

    8. mreasy*

      I think it makes sense to go to the visit, explain that your symptoms have lessened, but since IBS & digestive issues so often come and go, you wanted to check in about it.

    9. Squidhead*

      If you do go, or even if you don’t, it’s worth trying to track some things for discussion and comparison if it does come up again: Time of day (before/after eating/the gym/when getting up), body position (upright/lying down/heavy lifting or bending), any recent changes to any other medications including brands (my new store-brand multivitamins made me nauseated for months!), any contributing symptoms (the headache/migraine-GI connection is very real, as is the anxiety/stress-headache-GI connection, etc…). If you have a uterus and/or ovaries, noting whether your cycle plays a role might be useful as a lot of abdominal symptoms can be caused by these organs versus your actual GI tract. Keeping these notes might help you remember (if it does come back) what the specifics were of this episode.

      1. TMI Sorry*

        I also should mention to track your caffeine intake including who made the coffee. It took pandemic lockdown for me to realize 2 issues were going similar results. Commercial coffee is simply too strong for me, and some food uses oil I can’t digest. I had no digestive issues for many months and then I indulged with a large coffee-shop coffee. Coffee is a fast response… restaurant food is 24 hours. Coffee after restaurant food is hell.

  22. Meh*

    Turkish foodies?

    A long time ago a Turkish friend would make a dip and said it had walnuts and red peppers. It was delicious and she called it Ezme.

    I have since looked up recipes and Ezme looks completely different. What she made sounds more similar to Muhammara. Can anyone tell me if maybe the names have a regional switch or it could be a third possibility altogether?

    My goal is to make it but I’m not certain what I’m looking for in recipes. The trader joes red pepper dip is reminiscent of the flavors I remember if that helps. Help?

    1. Emma2*

      I think you are looking for muhammara, which can be served as part of a meze. I often use a recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen (website online).

    2. California Dreamin’*

      I haven’t had ezme… it has a similar look to muhammara but seems like it’s tomato-based. Muhammara is definitely the one with red peppers and walnuts. It’s delicious!

    1. Different name*

      I cheated on wordle today. I would have lost, for the first time. The guilt consumes me.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Aw heck… two days ago they lost my stats so yesterday I didn’t bother doing it. Now I wish I knew whether I would have gotten it

      1. Russian in Texas*

        It took me 3! That’s a big crash for me.
        I cheat on Globle by looking up country names spelling, because it’s spelling – sensitive.

          1. Russian in Texas*

            Globle is tricky, because it doesn’t give you the directions, just the degree of separation and the distance. Oceania is my personal curse.

            1. fposte*

              I barely even try on Worldle with those before cheating. There are just too many teeny islands of similar shape. But Globle looks like fun even with cheating.

          2. Lexi Vipond*

            If I get to the last chance I wander through wikipedia links, starting with the closest country I’ve found and using the bit where it tells you the bordering countries to head in the right direction. It’s educational, and therefore justifiable!

          1. Abhorsen*

            And sedecordle (16)
            And duotrigordle (32)

            And a 64-word one, but that’s just ridiculous and far too laggy

      2. Elizabeth West*

        You are going to hate me…
        I just did it, got no hits in the first two guesses, and then nailed the word on the third try. I don’t know what happened!

        I try not to cheat but sometimes I do because I’m too tired not to.

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        I cheat at Duolingo sometimes (by taking screenshots of the correct response), mostly when it’s being annoyingly picky about my spelling in French.

        1. londonedit*

          I also cheat at Duolingo sometimes but you try remembering how to spell words in Finnish :D

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Since I paid for my sudoku app (I just wanted to get rid of the ads) as it turns out, when I hit the third mistake and get the “you lose” screen, I can undo and keep going. So now I have won something like 500 games in a row, because I can’t lose.

    3. anon for this*

      My close extended family has a dog that is about to be rehomed for complex reasons; the plan is not to get another one. I am so relieved because I am not a dog person and am tired of pretending to like this one so that I don’t seem like a stubborn horrible heartless person. I do want animals to be treated well, but I also want fewer dog photos in my life and am feeling kind of guilty that I’m secretly relieved about the dog going away.

      1. Incognito*

        Aw, I feel this one! I confess that I’m not a dog person either and am secretly annoyed by the massive volume of dog content from my friends. Why is it that it’s socially acceptable to say you aren’t into cats but if you say that about dogs people think you are untrustworthy and unloving?

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          Cats are untrustworthy and unloving, so not liking them is ok because it suggests you’re the opposite? :D

          (I have never been able to see why you couldn’t walk by your wild lone through the woods *and* love people very hard.)

      2. Sundial*

        I don’t blame you, I can’t stand dogs. I hate that we’re expected to tolerate them literally everywhere now, because people won’t leave them at home where they belong (excluding service animals, obvs).

        1. PleaseNo*

          It’s been really hard for me for several years now (prepandemic) since I’m allergic to dogs and I carry my epiPen with me everywhere and that now includes bookstores, home improvement stores, craft stores, etc. And I don’t buy anything on a low shelf at the grocery store for fear that dogs were there and it’s not worth the risk to me. Honestly I wish people would leave the dogs at home where they belong.
          The pandemic has been nice in that there’s less pets in the stores, but it’s starting to creep back up.

    4. AGD*

      I am doing an awful job of keeping my phone out of the bedroom. This is in spite of the fact that I have a separate alarm clock and know that playing on my phone anywhere near bed is terrible for my sleep quality. The idea of lying down, getting comfy in bed, and reading for 15-20 minutes before sleeping is repeatedly too tempting.

    5. Chestnut Mare*

      I adore my children beyond measure, but I am SO ready for them to go back to school. No horizontal surface is free of clutter, the Amazon deliveries arrive at all hours, and there is a general griminess everywhere. Even the dogs seem ready to have quieter days!

      1. Nack*

        I feel this in my bones! Haha. My oldest son is only in preschool so this was our first summer break (previously both my sons were home full time with me). And wow, did I underestimate how much summer break would change things! Literally counting down the days until preschool is back in session.

    6. NeonFireworks*

      I am not actually allergic to asparagus. I just have that genetic quirk that means my urine smells funny after eating it, and I absolutely hate that smell and won’t deal with it well, which means absolutely no asparagus.

      1. Gyne*

        Are there people that don’t have that? I thought it was universal. It’s totally reasonable to not like a food! (I personally like asparagus but it’s not objectively *so good* that I’m not able to believe people find it meh.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          I didn’t realize it was a genetic quirk. I learned about it in a sci-fi book so was shocked when I first ate asparagus later in life.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Gateway by Frederick Pohl…..great book. As much as I love asparagus, I admit I don’t cook it much since moving into a house where my bedroom has an attached bathroom!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      These past weeks I have gotten on the phone list of a scam organization that has real humans call you. By sound, well-spoken young American women reading scripts. Apparently my yearning for the good old days when you were targeted by humans you could plot against, rather than computer algorithms and robots, was not rooted in any accurate memory of how annoying this is.

      I am considering deploying the “I am gulled and going to give you money, but it’s so hard to understand that question/instruction so I need you to hang on…” technique next week.

      1. Generic Name*

        My husband uses fake voices when he gets scam calls. He pretends to be an old lady or a little kid or he breaks out his hillbilly accent. He goes on until they hang up

    8. Not Australian*

      I tell everyone that I don’t have a mobile phone, but I do. I don’t want people trying to contact me on it as it spends 99% of its life switched off and sitting in a drawer. When my contract ended I bought the cheapest PAYG Sim I could find and have been using that for the past year, and now I find the phone just has too many options for me and I’d rather go for a ‘dumb phone’ instead. I’m over 60 so I play the ‘stupid old lady’ card and just say I couldn’t get on with my mobile so I gave it to my grand-daughter; this is only partly untrue…

      1. grumpy pants*

        I also tell people I do not have a mobile. So many business want to text me, and I nope all over that. Here’s my landline number, it has an answering machine to take messages. I never answer the mobile if it isn’t in my contacts list.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Companies are getting so aggressive about it, pushing for text messages to confirm accounts / logins. Often there are workarounds but I’ve run into a few where my choice is give a mobile number or not use the service at all. I have one and don’t hide it, but I do try to keep it out of the hands of companies!

          1. Observer*

            That’s actually one of the few good reasons for companies to push for a number. Talk to them about other ways of securing you account if you don’t want to do it this way.

    9. beep beep*

      My sibling and I live with my parents, and they planned to go to visit my aunt and grandmother this weekend. My dad woke up not feeling well, and I was disappointed and thought he wouldn’t end up going- because god, could I use some alone time without him! My sibling and I function much better in the kitchen and around the house without him hovering. Thankfully he did decide to go after all. I hope he and my mom have a lovely time :P

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes – mine is traveling for work next week, and I will miss him but I will sleep a thousand times better than I do when he’s home so I’m looking forward to that. And also not having random dirty dishes and food wrappers left around the house where I have to get to them before the puppy does.

    10. Waiting on the bus*

      I’m actually eating mushrooms on pizza now. Only when they’re thinly sliced and place on top of the cheese so they dry up in the oven, though.

      This is a confession because for 30+ years I have maintained that mushrooms are the most disgusting thing ever and I will never eat them. All mushrooms, no exceptions. And in 99% of the time that still holds true, except as described above.

      I will never tell my family (of mushroom lovers) as it took forever for them to take my aversion seriously and stop trying to make me eat meals with mushrooms (and then complain when I picked them out!)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I will eat them on pizza but nowhere else. But I usually give up after the first slice and pick them off.

    11. RosyGlasses*

      I’ve realized lately that children really annoy me. This triggered after being around my nieces. It makes me feel like something is wrong with me after being a teacher in a past life and having my own child (now in their twenties) that I adore – maybe I just dislike being around my in laws kids? It’s weird and irksome and I sometimes feel like I am being petty.

      1. NOW I’m done*

        I get you. I love my adult kid. I loved helping in the classroom, going to the plays & sporting events. The birthday parties. Loved it all. But I am DONE. I don’t want to deal with kids now. I want to talk with the adults and not worry about supervising them. There probably won’t be grandchildren and I’m fine with that.

      1. AGD*

        Yeah, I completely understand the reasons why people object to the show (especially the semi-veiled misogyny and the issue of whether we’re laughing with or at the characters), but I usually enjoy it. The dialogue is funny, I like most of the characters, some of the storytelling is really creative, and (speaking as a woman with a Ph.D. in sort of an applied science field) the glimpses of real science – however fleeting – are a bonus.

      2. Biloxi*

        I can’t explain why or how, but BBT was the one thing that got me through the immediate aftermath of my mom’s passing. After the burial, I just crashed. Spent a week doing the absolute bare minimum and binging only BBT. I hadn’t ever watched more than a handful of episodes before that, and I couldn’t stomach any other show at that time…in a weird kind of way I feel like it brought me back to the light.

    12. the cat's ass*

      I consistently tell my colleagues at The Place We Don’t Talk About On Weekends that I’m going someplace on vacation that has NO Wifi , so don’t try to get in touch with me.

      This year it was a cute rented house in Cazadero and there WAS Wifi AND Apple plus to boot!

    13. KoiFeeder*

      I didn’t take my cymbalta for my last labwork because I didn’t want to deal with the “oops! all bilirubin! we need you back in again!” dance.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        me: posts this
        email, a few hours later: hey your lab results are in. we need you back again because it’s all bilirubin.
        so. that did not even work. brain zaps for nothing.

    14. Jackalope*

      I find large amounts of clutter frustrating and distracting, but I actually kind of need small bits of clutter because complete tidiness is distracting for me as well. Because of this I will never have a fully neat and tidy home, and sometimes I’m embarrassed by that, but not enough to get rid of it all.

    15. Jury Duty*

      I’ve been summoned for jury duty and I am desperately hoping and praying to be put on a jury for a long and complicated case so I can have an excuse not to go to work. In front of other people I do the same “oh no, jury duty, what an inconvenience” that everyone else does, while secretly hoping it will be the biggest inconvenience ever and give me a break from normal life.

      1. Buni*

        I had a whale of a time on jury service – only had to do the two weeks but would’ve LOVED to have done more! Getting called twice is extremely rare but if I got called now because of where I live it would be to the Old Bailey, which I’d love even more from an historical point of view.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          It would be fascinating to do jury duty at the Old Bailey! I hope you get called there some day – even though the trials they have there tend to be very serious.

      2. Ochre*

        When called for jury duty a few years ago I was going to be put on a murder case, which would have been interesting! But I was worried it would run a long time and I would miss working a bunch of days with my crush, so I said it would be a hardship if I missed work. (The case only ran a week and they convicted, but I still enjoyed the days with my crush!)

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve never been called for jury duty and was expecting that my luck would run out when I moved back to the UK and registered to vote … but not yet. (I lived in the US for 15+ years, but was exempt from jury duty because I wasn’t a US citizen.)

        The joke about the difference between between being a US permanent resident and US citizen is always that permanent residents can do everything citizens can, except vote, run for office and serve on a jury – but all of those are (supposedly) the things that the citizens don’t want to do anyway…

    16. I take tea*

      If I spent half as much time actually cleaning and decluttering, as reading tips about it, I would have a much more tidy environment…

    17. Fidget*

      Had a couple over for dinner last night where we know one of them but had never met his spouse. They were both delightful but I kept forgetting spouse’s name after we were introduced and even after she was referred to by name. I turned all sentences around to avoid having to use her name. Today I know it. Sharon! Sharon! Sharon! I’m gonna say it all day today and hope I’m not going insane.

    18. WoodswomanWrites*

      I worked as an educator for many years with K-12 kids and still really enjoy their company. But babies and toddlers have never been an age group I’m comfortable with. When friends have had babies and ask if I want to hold them, that’s a hard no.

      When that kid is school-age then yes, I’d love to hang out with them. I’ll hold the hands of the young ones and let them climb in my lap, play whatever mind or board game with the middle schoolers, and talk with the high-schoolers about whatever they’re interested in.

      Until they get to that age, please let me be happy for you and appreciate your babies and toddlers from afar.

  23. ThinSkinned*

    How do y’all handle responses on here that seem short, irritated, or like they assumed ill-intent? Like literally what is your mental process to move on from someone online being annoyed with you? I have told myself to stop posting because a sharp response can really ruin my whole day, but I also get lots of good tips and learn a lot from commenting. I need a way to make like Elsa and let it go but I seem to struggle with it. I do understand that the nature of commenting is snappy black and white thinking so it’s kind of inherent to the genre.

    1. Totally relate*

      Same…honestly, I usually disappear from the discussion for weeks or months until I am ready to try again.

      I especially cannot handle when I’ve posted about something I’m enjoying, like a movie or a band, and someone responds “That movie is really problematic” without any further explanation. It makes me feel shamed about liking or recommending the thing but I don’t know what’s problematic about it, so I also feel like they’ve given me no way to rexamine the thing or try to learn to do or be better. (I’m autistic, so a lot of my life feels like I’m doing things wrong and I have no idea why, and for my own mental health, I need to avoid finding more places and ways to be wrong.)

      Also what helps me is to remember that in general a short or abrupt response might not have been meant with any ill intent. There’s a tendency to read flat text in the worst possible tone. So I will also read something in my head in a silly voice or try to find other ways to soften the tone. I also remind myself that everyone on here is an internet rando and that it’s okay if someone is annoyed with me – it can be a them problem. I don’t have to make it a me problem (unless I posted a hot take just to rile people up, but trolling is definitely not my thing!)

    2. Asenath*

      I’ve had lots of practice after more years than I care to remember, some of which were spent on much less polite forums than this one. Sometimes, especially if it is part of an ongoing discussion, I’ll post a mild comment and not return – that’s where “agree to disagree” comes in, or my acknowledgement that I wrote something the could easily be wrongly interpreted or made a typo that changed what I meant to say. Sometimes, when it’s a post accusing me of something or the other, it’s so far off base that I can just laugh at it, puzzled – but I don’t usually respond. Much more often, I simply mentally dismiss whatever was said and move on. I turn my attention to something else. Very rarely, I have in the past resorted to blocking the offender. Now, while mentally dismissing some rudeness or accusation does get easier the more you do it, I still do sometimes get carried away in discussions that clearly aren’t going anywhere and are getting ruder by the post. It happens much less often.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I give one response. If it seems like somebody misinterpreted what I said and thought I was being rude, critical, had bad intent, I will explain once and apologise if necessary. If they continue arguing, I simply stop checking the thread.

      I also TRY to keep in mind that a certain amount of misunderstanding is almost inevitable online. We don’t have tone of voice or body language so it is easy to misread something as being short or rude or blunt when that isn’t what is intended. We also don’t know each other personally, so wheres in real life, with my friends or colleagues, I have a fair idea who would mean something in a negative way and who has simply phrased something badly, I don’t have that insight online, so it’s easier to mistake a person’s intent. And we are from different backgrounds – I know I once gave offence on facebook by posting something that by sheer coincidence aligned with something that was big news in America (think posting a criticism of our hospital waiting lists when there was a debate in the US on universal healthcare, that kind of thing, something that would have very different context in the US than here). Keeping that in mind when somebody sounds hurt by something you said is easier said than done though.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Sometimes I push back. I try to do so in a civilized way, but I can be very pointed when my dander is up.

      At some point, when I realize that I’m getting hot, I put the phone down / close the browser and go do chores. I usually have elaborate conversations with the unreasonable person in my head (or out loud if I’m alone).

      When that stops, I can go back online. If it’s still the same day, I will collapse or mute the offending thread (depending on the platform). If it’s something like Facebook or reditt where I control my own comment, I might delete my remark if I feel that the snark outweighs its usefulness.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think where you post matters.

      To gain some objectivity- take a look and see if others are having a similar difficulty.

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      If it seems like someone is totally misinterpreting a comment, I’ll generally try to make one reply to them to try to clarify, then put it out of my mind and not go back to that thread at all.

      If I feel that a response is genuinely in bad faith or looking to provoke me (this has only happened a handful of times), I don’t feel obligated to respond and will generally step away from the site for the rest of the day so that I don’t ruin my mood.

      Fortunately, I have pretty good instincts for which posts might have comments that might upset or annoy me, so I don’t read the comments on those posts either at all, or until enough time has passed that comments are closed. Also, if you read enough comments on posts with similar themes, you can usually predict what topics will provoke the most heated discussions and avoid those reading those comments right away so that you’re not tempted to wade into a huge argument.

    7. Russian in Texas*

      If I don’t know the people personally, I don’t really care they are annoyed with me. I try to be polite and civil on my side of the discussions and I can’t control anyone else. Sometimes I push back, but it’s really easy to go to the rabbit hole of that XKCD cartoon of “I can’t go to sleep, someone is wrong on the internet!”. If I get too involved in the conversation, I step back, because no online discussion is worth it. And just remember, usually people being snappy and rude says more about them.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh, I deliberately think of that cartoon as a way of mocking myself out of escalating a disagreement online. It’s surprisingly effective!

    8. Taffy*

      I just don’t give it that much thought. It’s the internet. People are allowed to see things differently. I just move on.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I agree! My heart lurches when is see something I wrote was misinterpreted or disagreed with in a way that implies I’m a crappy person. I wish I didn’t care what people think but I do! Sometimes I try to defend or clarify but usually I realize that is going to make things worse so I intentionally walk away and try to set it out of my mind. I never fire back hard because I just don’t have the confidence in my “rightness” for that. In the case of snippy responses, I try to remember that critical feedback is usually more about them not me.

        1. RosyGlasses*

          I’m the same way – there are many times I actually don’t post questions here or reply in certain threads because I don’t want the flaming replies. Even above thread, a poster wrote about having Covid on a vacation presumably looking for a bit of commiseration and has several angry types of replies in thread that make all sorts of assumptions about them.

          It’s easy to say theoretically that you can brush those off or it’s more about them than you; but those lurching feelings are real.

    9. Kay*

      It can be useful to think about how easy it can be to both misinterpret things when reading & responding, as well as to fail to accurately convey meaning before submitting that final post. It is so easy when reading to miss things, and even easier to write things that don’t convey the full meaning you intended – whether this happens because people are busy, didn’t take the time to read/edit, etc., it happens all the time!

      Far more often than I would like to admit I’ve sent things out into the world I’ve later read and thought “Oof” for any number of reasons. Nothing personal, it usually has more to do with me knowing what I meant to say vs what I wrote, I was short on time, I was tired or grumpy, I didn’t want to elaborate, etc.

      Short version – it is more about the other person than about you, usually. :-)

    10. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve just had an unpleasant interaction on another site. I think it helps to go and do something. Right now, I’m trying to think of the good things in my life.
      But I’m not the kind of person who can just let it flow over me. :-( I’m just not built that way.

    11. Cendol*

      I had an exchange on a previous weekend thread that, no joke, annoyed me for weeks! It kept popping up in the back of my mind. I ended up treating it the same way you would a workplace full of bees. Become an amateur anthropologist and remark to yourself, “Huh, how interesting.” Life is a rich tapestry…

      After the sting wore off I also took some time to think about the comment and why it had rubbed me the wrong way, and that was helpful too. The tone irritated me, but the content wasn’t necessarily wrong. When something really sticks in your craw, it’s sometimes worthwhile to examine why. (Of course, people on the internet can be wildly off-base, in which case the first approach of “…huh, weird” is the correct one.)

    12. Yes, I do have OCD*

      As someone who “came up” on message boards that had a lot nastier replies than this one, I tend to just roll with it. That said, the few times I have replied to posts here, I have been “called out”, in particular because I have used the term OCD to describe myself…because I have OCD. As an example, I once replied to a post saying that the OCD part of my brain made me feel a certain way. And I got hammered in the comments. I really didn’t know what to think at that point. I know I have OCD, I have been diagnosed with it, but somehow, the commentators decided I was using that the term OCD willy-nilly, and I was the a-hole for doing so? It was disconcerting to say the least, and I chose not to reply, and just “walked” away at that point. I am not going to argue with stranger(s) on the internet about something like this. It isn’t worth it. One person’s ceiling is another person’s floor, and all that.

  24. Berry*

    I’m trying to sort out how I feel about being alone/lonely and what to do about it, if anything.

    I guess the minimum background details are that as a kid, I wasn’t allowed to invite friends to my home, couldn’t go to their houses, and couldn’t go anywhere with them. It was impossible to stay close friends with kids I didn’t see over summer break and who I eventually couldn’t even see at a mid-day recess. In middle and high school, the only friends I had were online friends. I didn’t make any lasting friendships in college because I commuted from home, so I just wanted to go home after classes. And hanging out with people wasn’t something I’d done before, so I would say I was busy if anyone invited me to do something. I was friendly with coworkers at my first few jobs, but would also decline any invites to do things.

    Now I’m in my mid-thirties, and the only people I have to talk to are my elderly mother (I live at home) and one online friend. I worry about this because some day my mom will be gone, and then who would I go to if I need help with something? Who will I talk to or get companionship from? My online friend is great, but they’re in another country and we communicate via long e-mails every few days–it’s not the same as having an in-person friend.

    I wish I had in-person friendships, but at the same time I can’t imagine making new friends or hanging out with them. My hobbies are solitary, and I don’t have a lot of energy because of chronic medical issues. I hate being around crowds/strangers (I think I might have social anxiety). I think it’d actually be embarrassing to try to make friends, because what if people found out I have no friends? What if other people can tell I have no experience with having friends? Finding my only current online friend took years of effort. The idea of having to spend years trying to make in-person friends and possibly ending up with nothing anyway is very intimidating.

    I guess I don’t want to be alone/lonely, but having friends doesn’t seem like something I could accomplish.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think a typical suggestion here is to join a recurring activity. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find!new!friends! right now, which is going to be too much – just focus on getting out of the house once a week with some pleasant strangers at a book club / garden club / painting club / MeetUp / whatever you are genuinely excited about. This takes all the pressure off of the Making Plans stage, which I find wearisome too (there are already plans in place) and nobody will know/care how many other friends you already have. I think there was a good Captain Awkward about this that you could adapt – I will try to find the link and share. I do agree that having local community is great. If you are at all religious, even if only very mildly, church is made for this kind of thing.

    2. Alicia*

      It’s really not a shameful thing to be without friends, and it’s a special kind of resourcefulness to be able to enjoy your own company, so you need to tell your jerk voice to shut up and give you some slack. I am currently without friends too, for different Life Stuff reasons, (I lost friends in a divorce, and then my other group of friends when I relocated and my one good friend in that location then relocated and the distance is definitely impacting the closeness. It Happens, and so do your circumstances about growing up isolated, which is very like my partner’s story). I also like my own company which makes it difficult because I am picky and I too have just gone home without bothering to be social because of introvert energy. Here’s the list of good news items: 1) you don’t have to go outside today and bag a lifelong friendship, 2) When you try to make friends it won’t always happen and that’s not because you are destined to fail at this stuff, but because it’s typical: humans are odd mixes and compatibility is not always there, 3) you don’t have to answer any interrogations about your friend-number status in life. Anyone who asks or cares is deeply weird. Avoid. Basically just pay attention to the people more interested in whether they enjoy your company or not. 4) Small stake things can lead to friendships. Offering to get a coffee, or to help someone with an issue they are having, is a more likely move than Proposals of Friendship and explanations of why you need some. The bad news is… making friends is hard, and sometimes awkward! Sometimes you will put yourself out there and the other person isn’t into it. But your efforts (if you do want to go to less solitary things, or take a chance and invite someone to something) will look just the same as anyone else who is trying to make a/more friends.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think most adults are going to judge how many friends you have, so I wouldn’t worry about that. Honestly, if I found out one of my friends had no friends but me, I might be concerned, but that would be all. I wouldn’t think less of them.

      Do you work? If so, could you try and build relationships with your colleagues? They don’t have to be all-or-nothing. It doesn’t have to be a case of either you go out for drinks with them every week or you have no relationship with them beyond work. I have a lot of “work friends,” people I rarely see outside work but we get on really well in work and are friends on social media and keep up with each other’s lives that way (and message or text each other if one of us is out sick, etc). That sounds like the kind of friendship that might suit you. Maybe go for lunch with your colleagues, if you have them, a few times a year.

      Another possibility is to take a class of some kind. Is there anything that interests you? That would let you meet people with similar interests.

    4. Spearmint*

      I’m in a pretty lonely place right now, and am trying to get out there and make friends. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not always easy, but it’s very doable even if you’re socially inexperienced.

      On being embarrassed about having no friends, I feel like those feelings in me were leftovers from middle and high school. I’ve found adults are usually very nonjudgmental about this if you don’t make a big deal out of it. For example, if the topic comes up you could say “I realized I don’t have many local friends at the moment and so I’m trying to get out more and meet people”. That’s basically what I say.

      The other piece of advice I have is that for someone in your position, and trust me I’ve been there, is that binding a social life will take time and pushing your comfort zone. You will have to do things you feel a little apprehensive about, or that you’ve never done before. I’m not saying do things you hate, but you’ll have to try to be in situations that will make you a bit uncomfortable and may not feel ideal. That’s ok, that’s part of learning to be comfortable outside your shell.

      Finally, I highly recommend a site called Succeed Socially, which has a ton of practical, step by step articles on how to do the basics of socializing.

    5. Lifeandlimb*

      It’s OK to be alone—there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not having friends or not having many friends! Many people have tons of “friends” or “acquaintances” and still feel lonely. Different people are different! However, it sounds like you want some in-person company, which is totally fine. Understanding the context of your situation, here are a few suggestions:

      1. Try saying yes to every social invite that you get for the next 6 months to a year (provided it’s not a super creepy invite). You’ve said you’ve turned them down a lot; try accepting, and then go. Make an effort to show up for half an hour or an hour, and then if you don’t like it, go home and count it up as experience.
      2. Every few weeks, elect to do something by yourself and invite people to come with you. Ideally it’s something that you would still enjoy alone (maybe watching a movie, picnicking by a lake, or checking out a new neighborhood). Send a casual group invite to your work friends or a blast out on social media (“Hey all, I’m going to go check out the new Lakeside plaza on Saturday afternoon; anybody want to come with?”). Then go either way, and if people seem interested, have them along. This way it’s low stakes and you don’t have to painstakingly invite people one-by-one.
      3. Try a new activity once every few months, like joining a book club or a ceramics class. I used to use Meetup.com, but I’m sure there are other sources now. Give yourself the intention of talking to at least one person when you go. That’s it. You don’t have to make friends with them. Just meet somebody and learn their name and a little bit about them, and share a little about yourself. The more you practice that, the better you’ll get at it. Then if you eventually want to add them to your activity blast rotation (#2), you can!

      It takes practice. Don’t worry if you feel a little uncomfortable. Things that end up being worth it often start out a little outside your comfort zone.

    6. kina lillet*

      I think one first step is to break down what you want right now, not “in the future I’ll need companionship.”

      What I hear from you in your comment is that you have two major signals/symptoms. One is anxiety; the other is loneliness. A first step for anxiety may be to talk to your doctor and tell them that you experience a lot of anxiety that’s interfering with your life and you’d like to discuss medication and referral to a therapist.

      For the loneliness, the good news is that social skills and friends are actually possible to acquire. They really, really are. It does require practice, and the practice is easier when you’re not feeling desperately anxious, so these things are interconnected; but not so much that every anxious person is doomed to be without friends for life.

      I think it may help to initially reduce the goal from “make friend” to “have conversations”. That’s really doable and it’s the building block of friendship anyway. And, you can practice them! For example, if you’re comfortable with it, joining religious community is great for providing opportunities to practice (and for feeling the presence of other people). So is joining a book club or volunteering. So is commenting on the weather to someone in the grocery line.

      Good luck and best wishes.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Who did not allow you to have friends over or go visit friends? Your mother?

      Are you seeing a therapist?

      I think one thing you can work on right now- is that you do have people who like you. Those are the people who invited you to do something with them. So the idea of not being able to have friends is false. Reality is that people do respond positively to you. You just need to figure out what to do with that.

      Another good thing to look at is “what is a friend?”. As the years rolled by I redefined what a friend looks like to me. Friendship is a two way street. Our friends should enrich our lives- add quality to our lives. But we do the same for them. I have found it very helpful to frame friendship as a gift. This is my starting point for figuring out all the little things that come up in relationships.

      1. Despachito*

        ‘Our friends should enrich our lives- add quality to our lives. But we do the same for them. I have found it very helpful to frame friendship as a gift.’

        This is so very much true.

        If you want to meet people you must signal to them somehow you are willing to.

        The idea of planning an activity you would enjoy even alone and inviting people to it seems excellent to me. I think that if you want friends it helps if you are the first one to offer a favour to them. And if they offer a favour to you and you do not see any red flags try to accept. You mentioned that there are people offering activities to you and you refuse them out of anxiety. It would probably help to have a professional advise you about the anxiety, and also to realize that there is another human on the other side who may have stepped out of their comfort zone as well to invite you, and if you accept the invitation, it will make them happy.

    8. KatEnigma*

      If you think you have social anxiety, I would suggest seeking treatment. Not being allowed to go anywhere or have friends over indicates, to me, that you would likely benefit from therapy aside from social anxiety. That sounds difficult. It’s never too late to get help with healing.

    9. PRM*

      I suggest trying therapy, if you can afford it and can find a practitioner (there’s a shortage sigh). I’m a big fan of “the village” — community is all we have when we can’t rely on institutions.

    10. WellRed*

      What a sad and strange upbringing. I hope you are getting therapy or considering it. As others have said, the fact that people have responded to you favorably in the past is something to boost your self confidence. It’s harder as an adult because we are not thrown into friend making opportunities the ways kids and young adults are.

    11. Cendol*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling lonely! I had a similar upbringing, but the end result is that I don’t really talk to my mother anymore. She would often say things like “Why do you want friends?” and “Friends are pointless” when I came home crying about not having anyone to sit with at lunch! I went to exactly one sleepover in high school and never dared to ask again. (I am also in therapy but can’t say it has done much to help me make friends. It has helped with nearly everything else, though, so I do recommend it.)

      Truthfully, I think you should celebrate your online friendship(s)! They aren’t any less “real” by virtue of being online, and, as you said, you’ve put years of heart and effort into making them. Most of my friendships are online now by necessity, as I am separated from both old real-life friends and new internet friends by oceans and time zones. Maybe there’s a way to baby-step into irl friendships, perhaps by joining hobby groups that meet over Zoom first?

      Wishing you lots of luck as you move forward.

  25. Pharmgirl*

    I’m traveling solo to Copenhagen in the fall and would love your tips! I’ll be there for 3 full days. Which are the must see attractions? What can I skip? Where should I eat? Is the Copenhagen card worth it? Thanks!

    1. Lexi Vipond*

      I went to Roskilde to the Viking Ship Museum, which I enjoyed, but apart from the mermaid I don’t remember doing anything much special in Copenhagen itself.

      For the various cards, I tend to count up in advance the cost of the things I really want to do, and then decide – sometimes I’m better off with a public transport pass and paying a couple of entry fees (and occasionally public transport is included with accommodation – I think that was mostly in Switzerland or Austria, though), but if it comes out at least close then the card can be good, as you can take a chance on something without having to decide whether it’s specifically worth the cost.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Agreed! I was in Copenhagen on a layover day when most museums were closed, and the Viking Ship Museum (a brief train ride out of the city, n.b) turned out to be an AWESOME alternate choice. You get to see real Viking ships that were excavated from beneath the seabed in an amazing technical feat. The ships had been deliberately sunk to prevent another fleet from invading and so were preserved. They also have a replica ship workshop you can tour. In general I also really enjoyed just walking around town. Have fun!!

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        The church will the royal family crypts is right by the Viking museum.

        The museum with the royal jewelry and other artifacts downtown is worth checking out if you like that sort of thing.

        The historic amusement park is worth a walk through though we didn’t do any rides.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I loved the Copenhagen card – being able to hop on and off buses and get into so many places was tremendous. (Also, my son was 5 at the time, so we always preferred to have memberships or cards to places so that if his behavior went off the rails, we could pick up and leave without feeling that we hadn’t gotten our money’s worth.)

      The National Museum is fantastic – well worth a visit. We also went to the zoo (because kid and my husband had work meetings near the zoo), which was fine but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it. We also went to other places, like the Experimentarium, which are more kid places so probably not of interest to you. We didn’t go to Tivoli Gardens because we were there in March, but I’d like to go back to see it some time.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Yeah I think I land the day after Tivoli closes for the season but I would love to see it some time!

    3. Helvetica*

      Ohh, I used to live in DK and love Copenhagen! While I’ve never had the Copenhagen card, I friend who just went did think it was very useful.
      Aside from the usual recommended museums and whatnot, I would say to visit Cisternerne, a super cool exhibition space in an old water reservoir (the space itself is so cool that the exhibitions don’t even matter that much). Next to it, Kongens Have, is a gorgeous park. And Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket is a very nice traditional art museum. Davids Samling has a fantastic collection of Islamic Art.
      The areas around the Copenhagen lakes are very picturesque for walking, aside from the old town. Little Mermaid statute is much smaller than you’d think, and I would say you don’t need to see it, unless you really want to tick that box. There’s nothing much around it to see.
      Be ready for food to be very expensive, as DK is generally very expensive. But trying smorrebrod is a must as they are delicious.
      Everyone cycles but the Copenhagen metro is also very convenient for getting around the centre.
      Oh, and Copenhagen airport is my favourite airport in the world. It’s huge but manages to feel cozy.

    4. Kathenus*

      Check out the trolls, which are made by artist Thomas Dambo – you can search online for where they are in Copenhagen. I learned about them only after I had been to Denmark and was so disappointed to not have gone to see them. I’ve since traveled twice in the US to see some of his trolls here, in KY and in FL. Also, if you have a vehicle, check out the white cliffs at Møns Klint, about 1 1/2 hours away on the eastern shore of that part of Denmark, really stunning.

      1. Willis*

        I saw them in Chicago and they were great. I haven’t been to Copenhagen but I second the troll suggestion!

      2. Catherine*

        We have some of his trolls here in Maine, too! They’re at a botanical garden, and I visited there for the first time last month.

    5. Sue*

      Watch Borgen on Netflix. It’s a fictional series about the first female prime minister of Denmark. It has certainly made me want to travel to Denmark.

    6. I take tea*

      If you want to see more than one or two museums, the card is usually worth it. Very practical.

      Runde taarn is a must, I really like walking there and imagine people ridning up.
      Tivoli is worth a visit, even if you don’t ride anything (even though the wooden rollercoaster is marvellous, and I recommend it, if you are able to)
      Louisiana art museum, if you are an art person. It’s a bit outside, but you get there quickly by train, and it should be included in the Copenhagen card, both the train and the entrance, if I remember correctly, it’s been some years since I last went.
      Eat smørrebrød, definitely. If you like ice cream, get one with all the toppings. It feels wonderfully decadent.
      Also, try the Danish pastrys. So tasty, I’m not much for them usually, but in Denmark they are good. And kransekage, a sort of baked almond pastry. Or any pastry, they are really good at sweet stuff.

      Don’t waste your time on Ripley’s Believe it or not. It was boring.

    7. Fidget*

      Thanks for asking this question and all these great responses. I’ll be in Copenhagen in September too!

  26. Chilipepper Attitude*

    It’s about them, not you.

    I don’t have much beyond that, but I try to focus on that.

    1. The teapots are on fire*

      I know this was a nesting fail, but I have to say that “It’s about them, not you,” is something I should embroider and hang on my wall.

  27. Not Australian*

    I think I mentioned on here a few weeks ago that we were adopting a ‘special needs’ cat, our first of that description. I just wanted to update folks that he (George) is doing much better than expected; his unpleasant skin condition is disappearing rapidly, and his eye is looking healthier although he seems to have very little sight in it. Best of all he is gaining in confidence all the time now that he has a more settled and less stressful home life. We’ll need to keep on with daily treatments for the time being, but the vet has reduced his medication considerably which will change the time it takes from 90 minutes a day to 3 at the most. Best of all, we won’t have to ‘burrito’ him any more; given the hot weather none of us have enjoyed that part of the process. And I’m sure our scratches and scars will heal eventually…

    1. Dancing Otter*

      If you are giving him pills, I cannot recommend too highly getting a pill shooter. Some cats resign themselves, but some cats never, ever stop resisting. At least if they bite the pill shooter, it doesn’t flinch, bleed or curse.
      I’m glad to hear he’s improving.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Glad he is improving.

      I have had a succession of male tuxedo cats named George- starting when my mom was a little girl and her aunt had one named George, so that’s the name she gave her cat when she was 6-7. Altogether my family has had 5 Georges.

  28. Tubal Recall*

    Could folks share their post-op recovery experiences with salpingectomies (removal of Fallopian tubes)? My doc has approved me for the procedure, but I’m a concerned about organizing support for after the surgery. I’m single with no family nearby, so I’m trying to figure out how much support I would need to ask for from friends. My doc said I should plan to be out of commission for a week and to work from home another week, which seems like a lot for laparoscopic surgery.

    1. Not Australian*

      When I had my hysterectomy I lost all muscle tone in my abdomen, which meant I really struggled to lift anything and even going up and down stairs was difficult. If your incision is only a small one this may not be so much of a problem, but I think you might be surprised at how great a physical toll it can take. I’d recommend having someone on standby to visit you every day, certainly; you can always let them know if you end up not needing them, but just the reassurance that someone will be available to help could make a huge difference to your recovery. Good luck!

    2. aubrey*

      That seems like a really long time to me too. When I had my tubes tied it was good to have someone there for that day and the next (I fainted as a side effect of the anesthesia), but after that I would have been fine alone. I took it easy for a week but that just meant not working out or lifting things and moving slowly and carefully. Also taking care not to catch my incisions on the waistband of my pants, ouch. I wouldn’t have wanted to do a long or physical (bike, standing on train, etc) commute. But really it wasn’t a bad recovery at all.

      1. Red Sky*

        Eh, I can see how the recovery time for tubal ligation would be much shorter than tubal removal (salpingectomy). Whenever you’re removing an actual organ you’re going to have a lot more trauma and shock to the body requiring a longer healing and recovery time.

        1. Courageous cat*

          I don’t think that’s the case here, my understanding is the recoveries are pretty similar

    3. Red Sky*

      Sounds about right, it’s still surgery to remove an organ even tho it’s laparoscopic. My laparoscopic hysterectomy had about the same projected recovery time but it actually took me a bit longer (3 weeks-ish) to feel mostly better.

    4. Courageous cat*

      Wtf I asked almost exactly the same thing, and now I can’t see my comment at all. Weird…

        1. Courageous cat*

          Hahaha, I thought I’d truly lost it. No worries, sounds like we’ll get similar advice anyway!

    5. Courageous cat*

      Like I literally even said I had no one to take care of me.

      Anyway from my research my understanding is you won’t really need it. Largely once the anesthesia is worn off you should be fine. My ex is staying with me till then, and I plan to go it alone after.

    6. Anonymoose*

      I was able to walk around with minimal problems the day after my tubal and appendix removal (two different surgeries done years apart). I would suggest ready-made meals so you can take it easy, and I needed painkillers so that my muscles would relax and I could walk normally. I wasn’t in a lot of pain, but if I didn’t take enough meds then I couldn’t stand up straight. I lived on my own and had a friend nearby as a backup but she only very kindly drove me home. The fact that you can get almost anything delivered these days should make it easy to be self-reliant.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      I guess it depends on what they meant by “out of commision”. I actively felt bad for maybe 3 days after I had salpingectomy, oopherectomy, hysterectomy. The week after that I would not call myself out of commision at all, BUT was easily tired in a way I did not anticipate. For example, standing for 10 minutes felt like I’d done a 3 mile hike. That lasted a few weeks, and my lifting restrictions were for 6, so if you have to lift stuff that weighs more than 15 lbs frequently in your everyday life, you might need help. If you even have the same lifting restrictions. How much help you’ll need really depends on a lot on what you’ve been told not to do and for how long.

    8. Melody Pond*

      I 100% would have needed exactly what your doc suggested: out of commission for a week and working from home for another week.

      I know some people are up and about more quickly and have an easier time with recovery, but I was NOT one of those people. Unless you’ve had laparoscopic surgeries previously and know exactly how you’ll deal with recovery, I would suggest following your doc’s advice for recovery time. Just be pleasantly surprised if you recover faster than that and are ready to return to the office earlier.

      In my case, I did the opposite. Took one week off, came back to work, was NOT ready for it, and took another week at home. I hated springing the unexpected additional time off on my employer. I think it’s much better to plan for extra time and not need it, than the other way around.

    9. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I had my gall bladder out laparoscopically, and was surprised that I felt very low in energy for two weeks (thought I would rest a bit for a couple of days and then do some decluttering). My recommendation is to make a list of what you need within arm’s reach if you are going to be lying on the couch or staying in bed. Collect those things together on a side table or tray as per your list BEFORE you get settled. For example: book, remote, glasses, tissues, phone, water, pain relief, hot water bottle, cold pack etc. The number of times I settled on the couch and then had to get up again because I did not have something I wanted- that number was very big, and it was effortful to keep getting up. Oh, and remember to go to the bathroom first before settling on the couch! I hope it all goes very easily for you.

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Walk as soon as you are able to (ideally in a few hours after surgery). The gas used to pump up your abdomen comes out your right shoulder and the fastest way to get that gone is to get moving. Ibuprofen will help as well.

      I only had about a week of recovery, and the first night my Other Half was completely useless due to being overtired so I put him and then myself to bed. I wasn’t even in bed that often, but just made sure to brace myself with a pillow when I got up. By about Day Five I was feeling pretty good. I WFH full time so just took that week off post surgery so I didn’t have to think.

      I would maybe suggest having someone at home the first night, maybe the second just in case of adverse surgical events

    11. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Maybe make sure that you have lots of clean granny panties that can protect your incisions while they heal? Lots of clean clothes that don’t bind your abdomen ready to go (housecoats? loose dresses or skirts?)? Shower chair and/or support handle in the shower? Pre-prepared meals that you can pop in the microwave or toaster oven? Paper plates and plastic silverware so you don’t have to deal with dishes for a while? Thermometer, pulse oximeter, and blood pressure cuff so you can keep an eye on your vital signs? Written reminder of how to get into your healthcare system’s messaging app so you can message surgeon with any concerns that may arise?

    12. Sundial*

      I had abdominal laparoscopy for cholecystectomy, and the vNOTES procedure for bilateral salpingectomy, both within six months. (But of course not in the same calendar year, RIP my deductible.) So, the comparison between the procedures was fresh in my mind.

      I highly recommend vNOTES if you have the option. I didn’t take a single prescription pain pill, just a few aspirin for the first two days. The abdominal procedure was a lot harder to bounce back from.

    13. Dodubln*

      It is so dependent on the individual, I don’t think there is anyway to tell how you will do. I had my gallbladder out via a laparoscopic procedure on a Friday, and I was back to work the following Monday, no issues. I was hauling patients out of wheelchairs, etc, no problem. Recently, a coworker of mine had a laparoscopic procedure performed in her uterus to check for issues, and had nothing removed, it was just exploratory. She was out of work for a week, could not function/move. I think what your doc is telling you is somewhere between the two extremes. Some people are ready to go quickly, others need more recovery time.

    14. Dancing Otter*

      Partly, the second week is about not driving. Seatbelts are not comfortable after abdominal surgery, for one thing. And heaven forbid you need to stomp hard on the brakes. Just riding, I hugged a pillow between me and the belt.
      I was fine to sit at a desk and work the week after my hysterectomy, I just couldn’t drive myself there. Oh, and I napped a lot.

      The medical folks probably won’t warn you, but you really, really, really don’t want to get even slightly constipated while your abdominal muscles are still recovering. You may not be very hungry the first couple of days while the anesthetic clears your system, but be sure to drink enough.

  29. Be the Change*

    What do you do for your partner just to be nice? Or, what does your partner do for you that you feel is loving?

    When my husband is away for a few days I make sure that the bed has clean sheets when he comes back. He’s away for several weeks now, and I plan to make sure the house is thoroughly cleaned. (I know, I know, very wifey.)

    1. RagingADHD*

      Whoever gets up and makes the coffee first brings the other one a cup, and announces that it is “coffee of love.”

      1. Nack*

        I love this! Maybe I should put this under the small confessions thread, but I used to make coffee and bring it to my husband in bed every morning. Then I got pregnant (nearly 6 years ago) and the smell of coffee made me so sick. So I quit. Sorry husband.

    2. RosyGlasses*

      For me it’s similar – if I’ve had a lighter WFH day, I’ll try to have the dishes cleared out and a few chores done (which I sometimes procrastinate on but I am the more picky one about trying to have a spotless house). I know how much I appreciate that when I’m having to work at the office and dread coming home to clutter so I try to alleviate that for him.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m the family cook, including planning of meals and most shopping. On weekend mornings spouse takes the dogs for a walk near either the good bagel place or the good bakery and brings back a tasty breakfast.

    4. LNLN*

      Most mornings I prep a piece of fruit for him to eat with breakfast. Right now, I slice up a peach but all winter it was peeling and segmenting an orange. It’s a nice way to start the day.

    5. Llellayena*

      I look for his favorite (hard to find) Gatorade flavor every time I’m in the store. He…does so many little things, it’s hard to pick one out. I loved that when we were dating long distance he made sure to have my brand of cheese stick in the fridge even though I was only there every few weeks!

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      He takes care of the small things when I’m feeling unwell or too tired to do anything but lie down. In most of those situations I could probably stand up to make myself a cup of tea, go get the hot water bottle upstairs or help with dinner, but if I ask him, he’ll do it, no complaining and no questions asked. Sometimes that even means he makes me coffee in the morning, even though he doesn’t drink it.

      I have the more relaxed work schedule, so while he’s at the office or taking calls from home all day, I batch cook some of our meals in advance if I can. That sorts us out with food for several days in a row, and means we have more relax time together (or doing our own things) at the end of the day, that we’d otherwise spend discussing what to cook and how to divide tasks.

    7. Jackalope*

      When I was younger I was used to dudes that would just leave dishes lying around the house such that they’d become furniture if the women didn’t pick them up. So I’m especially thankful that my husband picks up my dishes and takes them to the kitchen for me when I’m done eating, and also washes most of the dishes.

      When I go grocery shopping Saturday mornings I go to a store that has a special treat he really likes and always get it if it’s in.

    8. E. Chauvelin*

      When I’m having trouble talking myself into getting out of bed on Monday morning (which is when I work the evening shift and I can give into the desire not to rejoin the world for a while), if I’m still lying there by the time he’s gotten out of the shower, he grabs an extra stuffed animal off the dresser to tuck in next to me so I have something to cuddle.

    9. mreasy*

      I go to bed before he does and he comes in for a full goodnight ritual which includes putting my glasses away, plugging in my phone, and bringing me a water refill if I need one. And of course a kiss!

    10. Suprisingly ADHD*

      We still can’t afford to move in together but he comes over every day so we can cook dinner together and watch something or play computer games together. If I haven’t planned a meal, he’ll show up with something to cook, or go food shopping with me. On days when we can’t cook he misses it a lot, even if we’re having leftovers he’ll find some side dish or dessert he can make with me.
      I make my home have a space for him. I keep paperback books and fast-food menu on my desk for him to play with. Ruffling or folding paper is soothing to him and he likes to fidget with them while we watch something. When I find something online that I know he’ll find funny I leave a tab open to show him next time he’s over. Often I have 5 or 6 tabs with memes and videos open waiting for him. I keep the ingredients for his favorite drinks, and stock his favorite snacks. I have a charger for his phone on my desk next to mine, a space for his shoes in the corner, and a shelf cleared for projects we’re working on together.

    11. MissCoco*

      My partner rarely wakes up before me, but when he does, he adds another blanket to the bed, makes sure my feet are tucked in, and gives me a pillow to cuddle
      In the winter I bring him a muffin from his favorite coffee shop to have for breakfast once a week or so.

  30. Spearmint*

    Has anyone ever moved from moved from one big, liberal metro to another one primarily for social/cultural reasons? Did it improve your social life?

    I’ve been in my current city for awhile and I haven’t made many friends here. I just don’t seem to click well with the culture in a way that’s hard to put into words. I’m toying with the idea of moving somewhere else to see if it would help, but that seems like… not a good enough reason to move. Also I don’t know if it would even work. Is the problem my city or is the problem something about me? Sometimes I hear people discuss cultural differences between cities but I wonder how much those really matter in terms of building a social life.

    1. Double A*

      It wasn’t specifically for this reason, but I left Seattle after 12 years and moved to the Bay Area because while I had friends and enjoyed Seattle, I didn’t feel super connected so it made sense to move closer to family and to a place I knew would be a culturally good fit. 10/10 would recommend.

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      I moved between UK cities an hour apart because I’d reached a stage where most of my friends were in the second city, which is a bit different. But there was definitely an indefinable difference in the cultures and the kinds of people I was meeting – I loved (and love) the first city, and it’s full of great people, but they weren’t quite my people.

    3. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I’ve experienced this in my own life in the same city, except my social life is worse where I live now! But I can pinpoint why: the area of the city where I used to live has a lot of people who did not grow up in the city, so people were much more open to making new friends. The area where I live now has a lot of people who grew up here and frankly aren’t that interested in making new friends, because they are established with their friends and family. It doesn’t bother me that much because I didn’t move here to make more friends, but yes, in my opinion changing cities could change your social life and it’s likely not about you.

    4. KatEnigma*

      I’ve lived in the Bay Area, Milwaukee, Houston and heavily visited Chicago and Cleveland. There are huge cultural differences in how people interact with one another even (especially?) between geographically close cities like Milwaukee and Chicago.

      But have you considered just moving to another part of the city? You can experience pretty different attitudes and hobby opportunities, etc just in different parts of a big metro area. We had Realtors who kept trying to steer us to certain neighborhoods because they thought that’s where people in our demographic wanted to be, but that weren’t a great fit for us based on what was nearby or the culture of the people living there. But we found neighborhoods within the same metro area that were a good fit. And I know it sounds silly, because you could always go to the gym or theater or bar or whatever across town, but, generally speaking, you won’t. It costs a lot less to move across the city than to a new one.

    5. Anon for this one*

      I think it can make a difference, and I don’t think it’s a bad reason to move, if all the other factors in your life (work, finances, etc.) line up. I used to split my time between Chicago and Toronto, and while I love, love, love Chicago, especially the architecture and the lakefront trail, I found it so much easier to make friends in Toronto. Just different vibes!

  31. Courageous cat*

    Tell me your experiences recovering from getting your tubes tied/bilateral salpingectomies. I’m 35 and don’t have anyone living with me so after the first day I’ll largely be recovering alone. Anything I should plan to have around that I may not think of? Anything that you didn’t expect?

    1. Bogey*

      Pretty sleepy the day of, and generally sore the next day. I was able to take care of myself once the anesthetic wore off.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I didn’t get my tubes tied, but I did have laproscopic surgery on my lady parts.
      Tiny holes in the skin are fine. The level of abdominal discomfort due to the air pumped in to make a bubble of room for the surgical activities – surprising. Recovery isn’t hard, just as long as they told you it would be. Took a couple of days for the soreness to wear off.

  32. Spessartine*

    How early is too early to mow the lawn on the weekend, in your opinion? Around here it starts getting hot around 8:30 and the sun really beats down, so ideally I’d like to start right at 8. But I’m an early riser–not by choice, I just wake up at 6:30 whether I want to or not!–and I don’t want to disturb my neighbors who might not be. At the same time…I don’t want to die in the heat. My mower’s self propel function is broken so it’s definitely a workout, not a stroll around the lawn. It’s hot all the way up until sunset so waiting until evening isn’t a great option either (though it’s what I’ve been doing all summer). My mower is electric but it still makes a decent amount of noise, and I live in a pretty typical suburb where my neighbors are close but not packed in.

    1. o_gal*

      Start at 8. Yes, some of your neighbors will still be sleeping. But everyone knows how hot it is. And 8 is about when most people start things for the day. I would suggest that even 7:30 or 7:00 would be OK but it depends on your neighborhood. Mine would be fine but others may not. Anything earlier that 7 will proably incu some wrath.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Personally I would disagree, although I’m awake at that hour – I would be annoyed by a neighbor mowing at 7 or 7:30. I try to keep my dog from barking before 8 or after 10PM because of my general sense of quiet hours.

    2. sagewhiz*

      Check your local noise ordinance. Here in Tampa you can start at 7 a.m. weekdays, 8 on Sat & Sun. (The very small town in Michigan where a friend lives prohibits such noise on Sundays—and yup it’s an ultra-religious place) Like you, I really need to get it done as early as possible, after having a horrific episode of heatstroke a couple of years ago. No more going out in the noonday sun (as I am neither a mad dog nor an Englishman ;-)

    3. Maggie*

      Just had this conversation haha! While I think 9 or 10 is ideal, I think 8am is the earliest reasonable time to start on a weekend, so I’d go with 8

    4. ShortUN*

      If you are in a neighborhood where everyone has their AC on (windows are closed) then you are probably ok starting at 7 am

      1. Spessartine*

        That is actually a great point to bring up because everyone here has swamp coolers, and thus a lot of people keep their windows open all the time! For some reason I hadn’t even thought about it. Thanks for the extra factor to consider.

    5. Rara Avis*

      My city has a mouse ordinance (okay, NOISE, not mouse, but the autocorrect makes me laugh so I’ll keep it in) that says outdoor work, construction, etc. can start at 8.

    6. Jackalope*

      Please ignore the people saying 7 or 7:30. That’s too early on Saturday mornings, and I’ve had people incur a great deal of my wrath because Saturday is my only day of the week to sleep in.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, if you unilaterally decide it’s fine to make a racket at 7AM, you have to be prepared for other people to unilaterally make at a racket at 11PM. After all that’s a perfectly reasonable hour for some of us to be up and about.

        1. KatEnigma*

          It’s not unilateral when noise ordinances often end at 6-7am and start at 10-11pm. When they exist at all. Milwaukee, for instance, has construction hours restrictions, but no ordinances that impact people using normal yard machinery- there are still so many shift workers there who wouldn’t be able to snowblow their drives before work, if there were.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had that same discussion with myself before I farmed my lawn mowing out to an intrepid high schooler, because I am also an early riser. Our local ordinance says noise is okay after 8am. However, from the number of people in my subdivision who start mowing their lawns at 8:30pm (which is not too long before I go to bed), I assume most of my neighbors are not early risers. So I always got started at nine on the nose. Even when that jerk down the street had his construction guys start at 7am. :-P

    8. Spessartine*

      Thank you everyone for weighing in! I usually listen to music while I mow, but today my headphones were acting wonky so I went without and discovered that my mower is not as loud as I remembered, so that’s a relief. I did look up my city’s noise ordinance and found that you’re allowed to start being loud after 6AM! I, however, will not be mowing that early. Seems like 8 is generally accepted as reasonable–I’ll probably try to push it to 8:30 just to be safe.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Check your local noise ordinance? Where I live before 7:30 is a no-no. But really, check what’s allowed where you live and go off that.

    10. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Find your city’s quiet hours. Around here, you can tell it’s 8am because it sounds like the starting line at Daytona.

    11. Hatchet*

      I’m team 8:00. I’d even say 9:00 for the earliest start for most outside yard work noise, but given the heat, I’d be okay with 8 in my neighborhood. Before then… I’d become the disgruntled neighbor (though not enough to go out and tell them).

    12. Ampersand*

      My vote is 8 am. I wouldn’t feel comfortable making noise before that hour in my neighborhood. Someone on my street started a leaf blower a couple of weekends ago at 8:30 am–in my mind, that seems like a reasonable hour (I can’t logically argue with that time!), but I was getting over being sick, was just waking up and was quite annoyed by the noise. I still say 8, and if you live in a hot climate your neighbors will understand why you’re starting early.

    13. Westsidestory*

      For the love of god (or your neighbors) please wait until 8. Or 9 or 10 on weekends. On a more practical note, don’t mow grass that’s damp with dew. That will affect your mower and encourage diseases like rust on the grass. Yes it’s hot later but it’s best to cut grass blades when they are dry.

    14. Observer*

      8:00 sounds reasonable. Even people who sleep in are probably starting their day by then. And even if they aren’t it really is not egregiously early.

      Earlier is a bit much.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I totally disagree with the idea that sleeping in still means up and about by 8! That is not sleeping in for many non-earlybirds. I feel much more kindly towards neighbors who wait until at least 8:30, 9 is best, but I get that loc