weekend open thread – August 6-7, 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: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin. After creating a wildly successful video game, two lifelong friends contend with fame, love, and their relationship with each other.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,404 comments… read them below }

  1. anti anti*

    2 questions my friends and I have been discussing: What is the best/most useful/greatest thing you’ve ever bought under $200?

    Second, what is the worst purchase you’ve made–most useless or most overhyped or impractical?

    1. Andrea Schultz*

      Best item for about $110, my countertop ice maker. I find myself making iced tea instead of soda. Machine paid for itself in just weeks!

    2. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Best: My microwave. I use it daily.
      Worst: Shoes that I just had to have but turned out to be very uncomfortable. I only wore them once. (But I still have them.)

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I made that shoe mistake multiple times as a teenager. Now I’m old enough that I don’t care how cute my shoes are if they hurt my feet, but I still do it sometimes with dresses/skirts that I probably wouldn’t have bought if I tried them on first, but since I ordered online and they’re already here I’m sure I’ll make them work someday… They are largely aspirational “I could be the type of person who wears this, right?” or “I could totally figure out how to fix (glaring problem), I have a sewing machine!” items.

      2. Time's Thief*

        I feel you on the shoes. Back in my impoverished retail days I spent way too much on some SAS shoes that weren’t even that cute but everyone said they’d be the most comfortable shoes I’d ever worn. Maybe that’s true for some people but my feet and those shoes never did agree. The flats I bought for $10 at Payless were more comfortable. Worse, by the time I’d admitted to myself they weren’t working and found time to go to the store again I’d lost the receipt and was too embarrassed by the whole thing to see if they could look up the purchase by card or something. Nowadays I’d still try but young 20s me wasn’t so good at that sort of thing.

        I wound up donating nearly-new SAS shoes and I hope they made someone VERY happy.

    3. Pickle Pizza*

      Best: not sure about *ever*, but ATM my folding desk for WFH has been a life saver! ($89 from Amazon) Plus an expandable laptop stand (approx $45, also from Amazon). I have cramped quarters in my apartment and not enough real estate for a permanent desk, so this setup allows me to fold everything up on the weekends or non-work days so I have more space.

      Over-rated purchase: all the exercise equipment I’ve bought over the years, and continue to buy. Good idea in theory, but I still prefer to walk outside year round.

    4. Trixie*

      Best: Prescription Oakley sunglasses, followed by window-tinting for my car.

      Worst: A nice upholstered chair. Way to expensive for my budget at the time, plus my cats used it as a scratching post. Moved to curb, and someone picked up a prime piece for re-upholstering.

    5. NeonFireworks*

      Best: Steam cleaner, $110. It does nearly everything. Steaming clothes is like ironing them, but easier and quicker and more able to neutralize germs. Also works on a lot of home textiles like cushions and curtains that are tough to wash!

      Worst, or at least the biggest ridiculous letdown: an electronic pocket address book, in 1998, for $40. For some reason, I desperately wanted one of those things – about 6″ by 3″ and flat, in a sleek case that snapped closed, with a tiny keyboard and cool mini-computer feel – but it wasn’t until I bought the thing and eagerly opened the box that it really hit me: this gizmo was there to store addresses, exactly as it said on the box. At that point, I realized I’d made a mistake and would have had more fun with even a calculator. What was I thinking? I suspect I’d seen a TV ad for it that made it look like an Essential Tool of the Near Future or something. No wonder I’ve consistently been 5-10 years behind with my computers and phones since.

      1. AGD*

        Oh man, I was in fifth grade when those showed up on my radar and I wanted one badly. I couldn’t afford it with my tiny allowance, though, so I a drew a pretend one out of a folded piece of cardboard and took it to school, where I “used” it. My teacher, to her credit, told me she thought it was very cool.

    6. Monarch (butterfly)*

      Best purchase: prescription polarized sunglasses. Under $200 if you buy at one of those cheap places. So nice to see without glare outside.

      Worst: electric toothbrush. Maybe I bought a cheap brand, but I just never liked it.

    7. Aphrodite*

      Great questions!

      Best/Most Useful = My bed fan. This thing is a lifesaver in hot weather since it keeps me cool enough to sleep well.

      Worst/Most Useless = Bamboo sheets. Would you believe the manufacturer actually tells you to handwash them or at the very least use cold water for washing and dry them by hanging indoors? I use only hot, hot water and a hot dryer to wash all my things, but especially towels and sheets.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        I am desperately curious—why do you wash and dry everything on hot? I am the opposite. I wash almost everything on cold and tumble dry low.

        (But no way would I hand wash sheets or hang dry inside btw.)

        1. Russian in Texas*

          I wash towels and sheets on hot, for hygienic reasons that might be misplaced. But I wash 100% of my clothes on cold and delicate. It saves clothes and electricity. And I never had an issue with something not being clean. And I dry clothes on low. Even jeans and tshirts.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Oh, is that why clothes should be washed that way? It’s how my mom’s always done it, so it’s how I do it, but I never thought about why.

          2. AGD*

            I read an article in a big newspaper about 15 years ago that agreed – it was a list of hygiene tips for the house and one of the items was “wash everything in the hottest water you can.” It turns out that my parents wash on cold and assume that the dryer heat kills off any remaining germs, though, so I wonder!

            1. Pennyworth*

              I wash cold and air dry. Any of the germs on my clothes, towels and sheets came from me, so I assume they cannot cause further harm.

              1. allathian*

                I wash everything else on cold, except underwear and socks. I’ve had athlete’s foot once, and I don’t want to get it again. The surest way to avoid that is to wash your socks in hot water (60 C/140 F).

                Otherwise your own bacteria are unlikely to cause further harm, but washing sheets and towels in hot water will eliminate smells better. I have sensitive skin, and a somewhat scent-sensitive nose, so I need unscented laundry detergent.

                The greatest thing I’ve bought for under $200 is my electric toothbrush. I use it every day and love it. The most useless thing I’ve bought is probably a gold-colored light jacket that I bought for a summer wedding. I needed it then, because it was an exceptionally cold and blustery July day, only something like 15 C/60 F, but I haven’t used it since.

        2. Grits McGee*

          If you have dust mite allergies, it’s recommended to wash and dry bed linens hot so that it kills all the critters.

        3. Aphrodite*

          Janet, I believe that hot & hot gets everything much cleaner than cold. I also know that many have switched to cold water, and that a number of detergent manufacturers say their detergent cleans just as well as in cold as in hot water. But I insist on hot. I do use mesh washing bags for certain things but I would rather replace items slightly more frequently than wash in cold water. And while I’d love to hang sheets and towels outdoors rather than use a dryer, where I live does not allow that.

      2. Observer*

        I use only hot, hot water and a hot dryer to wash all my things, but especially towels and sheets.

        You’re wasting a lot of money, both in what the unnecessary hot washing is costing but also in the fact that you are seriously shortening the life of many of your things.

        Yes, some things need to be washed hot, but not that many. And, generally speaking, heat is destructive.

        You do you, as they say. But realize that your setup is sufficiently out of the norm that your contemptuous amazement of the idea that someone might recommend washing in cold water is a out of line.

        1. ThatGirl*

          My sheets get sweaty, no doubt, but I’m quite sure detergent will get sweat and oils out in cool water. I would only use very hot if we were talking, like, infection control or serious biohazard….

          (I do get that some people have germ phobias, but I’m with the cold water wash people.)

          1. allathian*

            Depends on what you mean by very hot. In the EU, the temperature standards are 15 C/59 F, 30 C/86 F, 40 C/104 F, 60 C/140 F and 90 C/194 F. I wash underwear, socks, sheets, and towels in 60 C, everything else in 30 C. My nose is fairly sensitive to smells, and I get itchy skin from scented detergent and/or fabric softener, and that means we use unscented detergent and skip the softener. Sheets and towels washed in cold water don’t smell clean unless you use a scented product.

            We don’t even own a dryer, which uses a lot more energy than simply washing. Clothes also wear out faster if you use a dryer. In the winter, our indoor air tends to be too dry, so drying indoors means a bit of much-desired humidity, and a load of underwear and socks will get dry in a few hours at no extra cost. In the summer, if it’s warm enough and unless it’s raining, we’ll dry underwear indoors, but everything else outdoors, to avoid excess humidity.

            1. Silence*

              Using white vinegar in the fabric softener slot is great for removing smell including it own

    8. PollyQ*

      Best: A really lovely set of pima sateen sheets with a thin woven stripe. I’d bought my sis & BIL a set as a wedding gift and decided I might as well buy myself some too. They were my first experience with good bedding, and were like night & day compared to the budget percale I’d had before that.

      Not sure about Worst; I’ll have to ponder that a little.

      1. Anon scientist*

        It was such a revelation to buy high count cotton sheets after using my grandmother’s hand me downs from like 1965 that finally just disintegrated! Will never go back.

        1. Ann Ominous*

          Oh my goodness. Those old towels that felt cold to the touch because they didn’t absorb water, just moved it around.

    9. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Best: I love my double boiler. It lets me cook things like canned beans without worrying about them burning onto the bottom of the pan, which makes it easy to make semi-homemade soups (starting with canned beans). When I was working from home, I could throw together a soup during a mid-morning break and then eat it for lunch 2-3 hours later. I also really love my metal clothes drying racks, which work so much better than the flimsy wooden ones that I used to break all the time before I upgraded.

      Worst: the entire pile of manual can openers I’ve gone through in the past few years. I don’t know why, but apparently all modern manual can openers are junk and only last a few months if you actually use them to open cans every day. I tried spending more money on fancier brands, and it did not help. I can afford to buy new can openers whenever I want to, particularly since the kind that cost about $8 seem to hold up just as well as the more expensive ones, but it feels very wasteful. (For context, I am not generally hard on my possessions! I have had the same favorite coffee mug for over 20 years, and both my dishes and silverware are hand-me-downs that are older than I am.)

      1. gsa*

        Anyone that does not owna double boiler is highly mistaken!

        When I was in college, I would use a pot and a glass bowl. Same effect!

        Best purchase ever, four nesting glass bowls. They probably cost me five dollars at a yard sale.

        1. Pennyworth*

          You have reminded me of one of my best buys – a set of three cast iron frying pans for $10 new about 40 years ago.

      2. Anon scientist*

        I snagged my parents’ electric can opener when they were doing a purge to save counter space. It’s a General Electric probably from 1972 (wedding gift) and it is a Beast that I will never give up. They’ve gone through so many manual can openers since then.

      3. Pippin*

        Kitchen Mama!!! I was skeptical when my husband bought it but it is amazing. About 30$ but totally worth it.

      4. I take tea*

        I have a manual Tupperware can opener that is really good. It was pretty pricey, but I think I’ve had it for twenty years now. It works by bending up the edges of the lid, instead of cutting it open, so doesn’t ever get dull. Plus, no sharp edges. It works on the kind of packaging that is part cardboard, part metal as well, easy to separate for recycling.

      5. Lady Lynn Waterton of Bellashire*

        I hate MLMs but was gifted the Pampered Chef can opener and it’s amazing!!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My husband and I ordered a really good pop-up tent with sides, in early spring 2020. We were able to see my immune compromised father-in-law almost every week all year round without any of us getting covid. In the winter we shoveled the patio & set it up with an electric heater under the table.
      Useless purchase award goes to my every attempt at mail order shoes and sneakers. I can’t seem to learn that my feet are weird enough I must try things on.

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      Best is my compact computer desk that’s about 20 years old. It holds my laptop, monitor, and printer, works ergonomically, fits perfectly in my small apartment in a spot with a view, and has just enough room to accommodate my messy pile of paper.

      Worst is the series of cheap vacuum cleaners I got at yard sales over the years that didn’t actually clean anything. I’m so happy I finally bought a new one that was more expensive but will likely last the rest of my life.

    12. Madame Arcati*

      Best: my sewing machine which cost me the equivalent of about $150 (current exchange rate, bought it about 8 years ago). Hours and hours of happiness making clothes and quilts and other bits and bobs. Lately I was proud to be able to buy a house big enough for Janine Janome to have her own room with suitable furniture and space for her hoard of fabric and haberdashery.

      Worst:probably a cheap second hand car, from a then colleague. It had various faults including that the brakes were barely legal, the bits that worked were very basic (this was about 2004 and it had no fifth gear let alone electric windows or a central locking, but it was a step up from the previous one which had no power steering and unexpectedly set itself on fire one Saturday morning) and it was only a couple of years max before poor Bert blew a head gasket and was a write-off. I had to be towed from the hard shoulder of the M25, ditch it at a garage, and get the train home. This was, btw, on the way to a party. On New Year’s Eve. Ended up watching Jools Holland on my own with a bottle of unremarkable wine from the local offy.

        1. Seal*

          Same here. My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was a kid. Didn’t realize it at time, but I was learning an invaluable life skill. I’m in my 50s now and still break out my sewing machine semi-regularly.

    13. Flooch*

      Best is probably my air fryer, I got a little mini one from Aldi and cook in it at least once a day. I’d love a bigger one or one with the two baskets that cook side by side but I’ll stick with this one until it gives up.

      Worst was probably one of the handheld Dyson vacuum cleaners. It was on a Black Friday deal so I couldn’t believe my luck but it was a total gimmick and broke just after the warranty expired. Would never recommend a Dyson to anyone and it’s an expensive piece of junk in the garage now!

      1. Sc@rlettNZ*

        A friend of mine had a Dyson that couldn’t suck a sausage off a greasy plate. It was so useless that his cleaner used to bring her own hoover to his house.

      2. cubone*

        This doesn’t really apply since it was about $500 but if my Miele vacuum broke, I would immediately place an order for the same one. It’s the best thing I own. I hate how well known Dyson is for being pretty meh. Get a Miele people!!

        1. Cookie*

          Miele is my Oneday Someday dream. I actually am happy enough with my Dyson V7 for quick pickups, which if you have a cat is an everyday thing. But I am not fooled into thinking it’s anything like a Miele.

    14. Dumpster Fire*

      Best: my ebags “mother lode” travel bag. I can pack for a week, it had just the right amount and type of pockets to be useful but not lose stuff, and I got it for a good deal at $70.

      Worst: my Roomba. Clogs and jams so much (mostly with pet hair, but also gets stuck under furniture) it’s easier to just run the vacuum myself.

      1. SpellingBee*

        Please tell me more about the Mother Lode bag! Is it the rolling carry-on one? I’m in the market for a new rollaboard bag and these look really interesting.

        My best purchase has to be our Breville toaster oven. We’ve had it for probably 9 or 10 years now, and use it several times a week for everything from warming up leftover pizza to baking small batch casseroles and cakes. It doesn’t heat the house up in the summer and is more energy-efficient than the big oven.

        Worst, will agree with you that it was the Roomba, and for the same reasons.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I declutter while roomba circulates and give it a foot nudge as needed. Otherwise I tend to vacuum OR declutter. ..your mileage may vary.

        2. Dumpster Fire*

          Mine is the travel backpack, not the rolling bag. I think they’re quite similar in terms of pockets, etc., except the backpack version has a padded back slot that easily fits any laptop. It doesn’t look like the rolling bag has that although it might. The backpack also has a zippered slot into which the backpack straps can be tucked, if you need to check the bag (or just don’t want it to look like a backpack!)

          In terms of space in the bag: I can pack about a week’s worth of relatively casual clothes in the main compartment without using the 1.5″ of expansion. The bigger pocket on the front fits a pair or two of shoes if they’re not too chunky; there’s a zippered slot on the front of that which is great for small amounts of papers, a book, etc. I put charging cords (i.e., phone, watch) and other relatively small items in the pocket that runs across the top. It’s pretty easy to pack and to live out of, if you need to do so.

        3. Peonies*

          We have two versions of the Motherlode backpacks plus roller boards and have been very happy with all of them. They have held up very well and the size works well for our packing needs (we tend to be light packers.) Ours are all over five years old at this point so I am sure they have updated them. I know hardcore travelers may prefer lighter weight backpacks or hard sided roller boards, but I am quite satisfied with our Motherlodes, especially for the price point.

      2. Girasol*

        A friend told us we needed to get Rick Steves bags for a three week trip to Australia. That might not be my very best purchase but it was right up there. Decades later I use mine for any trip anywhere and it still looks brand new.

      3. MissElizaTudor*

        That’s so interesting! I was going to say that my best is my Roomba. I have a refurbished of the cheapest one, and I think it does a great job, including when I’ve had cats here, and pushes me to tidy up my space better so it will run properly. Although my comparison point is just not vacuuming, so that probably alters my perceptions.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Yeah, the best isn’t my Eufy (also known as Minister Roomba), but I’ve been very happy with him.

          1. Joielle*

            We recently bought a eufy and we love it. We have four cats and it’s amazing how much cleaner it is just running that little guy every couple of days. Not gonna completely replace the need to vacuum (especially rugs) but it’s a huge improvement!

        2. thursday*

          Yeah, I personally love my roomba, because it means that my house occasionally gets vacuumed.

      4. Beethoven, nooooo!*

        My roomba is more of a pet than a cleaning solution haha. I named it and I dress it up for holidays but it’s no match for the amount of pet hair my animals produce (probably better than nothing, particularly if I ran it every single day, but as you say I can’t leave it unattended or it immediately gets stuck).

      5. Sundial*

        I am glad to hear you hate your Roomba. I was on the fence about them, but hearing the Amazon bought them was the final nail in the coffin for me.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I have had and liked both a Deebot and a Neato, if anyone is looking for an alternative to letting Amazon make blueprints of your home.

      6. EdgarAllanCat*

        The ebag mother lode comment was perfect timing! It looks perfect for my needs & is 30% off right now. Just ordered it.

        My best purchase since moving into a high rise condo was a gorilla cart for $120.

        Worst was a slow cooker. took me a long time to understand that it just cooks things slowly. Still the same amount of prep work, food doesn’t taste better (slightly worse, imo), and it isn’t a pressure cooker. Hated that thing.

      7. Filosofickle*

        I gave my Roomba away! There are a bunch of reasons, including that I could vacuum in less time than it took to prep for it, but my favorite glitch is it simply refused to do my striped carpet tiles. There was a black stripe in the pattern, and the Roomba’s optical sensor perceived that as a stair/dropoff and to keep itself from “falling” it would shut down.

    15. Russian in Texas*

      Best: a tie between a nice Lodge Dutch oven and an air-fryer. Worst: multiple shoes over the years.

      1. Beethoven, nooooo!*

        Shoes are so hard! They can feel fine in the store and just not work out and about – and they’ve very expensive!

        1. Filosofickle*

          I’ve said many times that it would be cheaper to invest in a home treadmill to try shoes than all the money I’ve wasted on shoes that can’t go the distance. Lots of things can feel fine even after an hour at home but fail on the sidewalk or trail, because the way you walk outside is so different than inside. And having spent most of my adult life in cities, I need shoes that can go miles.

    16. Russian in Texas*

      Best expensive thing: my current canister vacuum, Shark, for $400. It’s awesome. Also, super cheap but a life saver – one of those lint scrapers that advertise on Facebook and IG: they really do take the car hair out of everything.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Now I know this heat wave has boiled my brain. I hate to think how long I tried to figure out what car hair was before realizing it’s a typo for cat hair.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Car hair is a thing – my perpetually shedding dalmatian who only travels in my car a few times a year has infested it with a never ending supply of hair.

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            Yes. I am an occasional chauffeur to a husky. It’s like driving inside a snow globe!

            1. Forgotten username*

              The snow globe comment made me laugh. Not a husky owner but you’ve made me feel like one.

    17. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Best right now is definitely our smart bulbs; I just ordered 8 Wyze bulbs for about $100, as the Geeni bulbs we had in two rooms would every once in a while stop responding to commands or even the app for hours. Even those, when they worked, were great — I love being able to walk into a room with my hands full and say “OK Google/Alexa, turn on the lights”, or to say “Turn off all the lights” from bed. And I was able to do away with those timer plugs to make our house look occupied while we’re on vacation. I also set up a “wake up” routine that starts one set of lights at 1% and increases it to 100% over 30 minutes. Although our Shark WandVac might be up there, too.

      Worst was probably these huge beanbag chairs that can also be unzipped and flattened into a kind of rectangle supposedly to sleep on. We never use them, and they’re not comfortable to sit on, they’re just taking up a lot of space.

    18. Becky S.*

      What a great topic!!
      I still like to iron some items. My best purchase was a padded, magnetized (on the sides) cover that fits over my dryer, that I can then use to iron shirts, pants, as needed. This will work only on a flat top washer or dryer. Don’t leave it on the dryer when using the dryer as heat will build up. Currently it goes for $20-$25.

      1. Cookie*

        You mean it turns the top of the dryer into an ironing board surface? Wow!

        My dryer is stacked on top of my washer so I’d have to get on a ladder for that, but I can imagine Past Me really using this a lot in my tiny laundry alcove at a former house.

        1. Becky S.*

          Yes, I can iron on top of my dryer. Doesn’t work if you have stacked units. You could probably use it on other surfaces, like a table, but it would slide around.

    19. Lilo*

      For something very cheap: silicone muffin tins. I use them almost constantly when I almost never made muffins before. I also use them to make egg bites and pizza rolls.

      1. I take tea*

        I like those too! We bake a lot of banana muffins without grease, and they always get stuck on paper. Silicone is so much better.

    20. Golden French Fry*

      Best: event insurance for my spring 2020 wedding! It cost less than $200 but saved me several thousand in deposits that would have been lost otherwise. I bought it the day before my state got its first COVID case. My cats are a close second (haha jk, I’d actually rank them best) and were BOGO at the shelter for an $80 adoption fee.

      Worst: maybe a refurbished tablet? It never quite worked correctly and I didn’t get my money’s worth.

    21. small town*

      Seconding the clothes steamer. It is amazing and saves so much time!
      Worst: an expensive travel bag with 157 pockets that was surprisingly heavy.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        What I always praise in my Osprey luggage is the correct number of pockets–because there is definitely a point where adding more makes the product less and less useful.

    22. Ali G*

      Best would be either my sous vide stick or my air fryer. Both support healthy cooking and the air fryer is quick, while sous vide helps me batch cook on the weekends.
      Worst would be a well-hyped cleaning kit for my cast iron, that basically ruined my seasoning and I had to strip them and reseason both my pans.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Hah! My answer: my air fryer. My husband’s answer: his sous vide stick. :)

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          +1 for sous vide stick. If you cook meat at home, do yourself a favor and get one. We use it all the time.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              really good for root veg – I eat sous vided carrots by the pound, and butter-poached potatoes are fantastic. This winter I want to try butternut squash.

              Personally where I think the sous vide really shines is that we can put food in a marinade (or just a bit of butter and seasoning) in a freezer bag and freeze it, then when cooking time comes just chuck the whole thing in the water bath without having to further prep it. I always keep a packet of Serious Eats halal cart chicken in my freezer for a quick and easy supper night.

            2. Cedrus Libani*

              I’ve done non-meat things, but I personally love a roasted root vegetable too much to switch over, and for most other veggies I think you’d have a hard time telling the difference between sous vide and a more traditional method. Also veggies tend to cook hotter than meat, so you can’t just use freezer bags, you need a vacuum sealer with bags that can handle the temperature. Eggs are good fun though.

              1. Schmitt*

                I dunno, I love me a roasted carrot, but sous vide carrots…. I could die happy eating them. A little olive oil the in bag, a little powdered sugar, a bit of salt and some herbs maybe. The sous vide technique intensifies the carrot flavor in a way no other cooking method I’ve tried yet does.

    23. overeducated*

      Best: food processor. Its the workhorse of my kitchen. Instant pot close second in the summer.

      Worst: this is worst current, not worst ever. I regret buying a single curtain rod because I need need solid curtains for my front window that looks right out over the sidewalk, but I would much prefer sheers for the afternoon sun, it’s either blackout dark or full exposure now. It’s installed in my crumbly century old brick walls, so I’m kinda stuck with it.

      1. Owler*

        I have solid curtains on an installed rod but added sheer cafe curtains inside the window frame on a tension rod. Maybe you could do something similar?

        1. overeducated*

          Thanks, I used to have that pre-curtain rod, but I haaaaaate any curtains inside the window frame. I am in a rowhome with the ensuing small number of windows, so keeping the full front window unobstructed is my One Weird Thing.

          1. Hatchet*

            Might I suggest a double curtain rod? I have one for both sets of my back windows and love them! I have sheers on one rod and black out curtains on the other – works great for whatever the needs are!

            1. Overeducated*

              Yes, I would love a double curtain rod! Should’ve bought one in the first place. Right now, buying another thing and drilling more holes in our crumbly walls is not high on the list, but I’m wondering if for now I can just put some sheers on between the solid curtains on the same rod, and tie them back very tightly to not block the windows.

              1. Juneybug*

                Would window privacy film help? It would still allow (frosted or colored) light in but block folks from seeing inside. We use the film for the lower window in our bathroom.

    24. DarthVelma*

      Best under $200 – I didn’t buy myself but my partner got it for me off of my wishlist. It’s a heating pad that covers almost my entire back and comes up over the shoulders to snap together in the front with magnets. I have issues with my shoulders and neck and it’s so nice to have a heating pad that covers that area and stays in place. It’s also big enough and flexible enough that I use it in other areas as well – sometimes I wrap it around my bad knee and the magnets hold it together pretty well there too. Or I can lay it flat and it warms my entire back.

      Worst under $200 – it’s hard to think of just one thing. Most of the purchases in that range that I’ve regretted have been clothing items purchased online that just didn’t end up fitting. I suppose the futon I bought for my first ever apartment. That thing was very very uncomfortable and I kept it way longer than I needed to.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Thank you so much! Perhaps in another thread on another week this bad boy will become my newest top purchase.

    25. Falling Diphthong*

      Best: Probably a good tea kettle. I’ll toss a high quality knife (Wusthof and Kyocera) in there.

      Worst: A white dress with purple flowers which I got rid of last weekend. Lovely concept, yet on my limited dressier occasions it always was not quite comfortable and so I would change to something else. I don’t think I ever wore it past the fitting room.

    26. Sloanicota*

      Best: automatic kitty litter machine (there are more expensive ones and less expensive ones, I got the less expensive one for like $150). Also: a portable space heater that looks like a fire, for my drafty living room – I spend the entire winter practically huddled around that thing.

      Worst … hmm. I guess I try to forget my failures haha. Probably some fancy item of clothing or shoes that I thought I’d wear to parties and never did. Makeup, maybe, which can be terribly pricey and not work any better than drug store stuff.

      1. Joielle*

        Which kitty litter machine did you get?? I’ve been looking at a few of the really expensive ones and they look great but hard to justify a $500 poop scooper…

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          FWIW I have used a Litter Robot for years. Used the original in a four-cat household, now have a 3rd edition of my own in a two-cat household. Yeah, I spent $500 on a litter box. It’s still one of my favorite purely frivolous purchases.

          You should know going in that it’s a robot; there will be maintenance involved. Some people are shocked and appalled that they might have to take a screwdriver to their $500 litter box. You do. It will throw errors sometimes; they’re pretty informative but you might have to look up what they mean. Personally, I take off the top part and vacuum the litter out of the base every 2-3 months, just as preventive maintenance. Every 6 months or so I might have to break out the manual, followed by cleaning a sensor or something. Nothing difficult, but if you’re not up for basic household DIY then you should skip this one.

          1. Time's Thief*

            We got our first Litter Robot during quarantine and I think I scare some of my friends over how enthusiastic I am about a $500 litter box. But it’s really that good! We have 6 cats and I think I’d go insane dealing with the litter if not for R-Poo (our litter robo). It’s good enough that I’m actively talking myself out of a second litter robot. Like, seriously, we don’t need it, the cats are fine with the current setup. But the newest one is so sleek …

    27. Hotdog not dog*

      Best- technically not a purchase, but the adoption fee for Best Good Dog was $200.
      Worst- a tie between the dozens of absolutely adorable outfits in my closet with tags still on that I will never wear. (Unless somehow the middle age spread manages to significantly contract!)

        1. Time's Thief*

          Totally! Though most of ours came off the street so no adoption fee. Instead we got vet fees for the spays/neuters which came out to a considerable bit more than our shelter kitty’s fee. Also doctor fees after one of our new kittens protested the spay visit by hanging off my finger. By her teeth.

          Ah, well. Totally worth every cent.

      1. dogs not gods*

        Yep, best $80 I ever spent was the day I ganked my dog from the animal shelter. I adopted her 3 months before quarantine and it was so good for my mental health to walk her twice a day. That girl is a walking fool.

    28. KoiFeeder*

      Best thing: my Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager. Currently ~$32 on amazon, it is my best friend and I love it.

      Worst thing: Not actually my purchase, but my parents got a juicer when I was put permanently on the low-residue diet, and insisted I take it with me to college and then undergrad. I do not like the juicer. I cannot even give the juicer away because according to the people who are into juices it’s actually just that terrible.

    29. Academic Librarian too*

      best: Sleep-away camp for my year- and half old dog for two months. Although I worked with trainers and a behaviorist, the only solution was to throw a big pile of money at the problem and send her away. She was trained, then I was trained, and she is a very good dog and very good citizen now.

      worst: actually not really sure. My stepmother used to say- we don’t wear our mistakes, we just pay for them.

    30. Elizabeth West*

      Excellent topic!

      BEST:
      I bought several things for under $200 that I especially love but they’re all in storage. I miss my stuff. :(
      One of the best was a large Chinese camphor chest from the 1940s to put sheets and blankets in. Flea market, $100. The seller was actually there that day and she hauled it home for me in her truck. She said she bought it from a lady whose mom brought it to the US during or after WWII. Its black finish was a disaster so I stripped and refinished it. I didn’t care about value since I’m not selling it; I just wanted it to look less gross. It smells like medicine but it’s really nice. I just need to replace the lid support hinges. https://i.imgur.com/fqK50QJ.jpg

      WORST:
      A futon from Kmart. I bought it when the frame of the daybed I used as a sofa finally gave up the ghost. I thought the futon would be a good alternative, but it was not. It was too low to the ground and killed my knees every time I got up, it felt like a rock, and it took up too much floor space when opened fully in my small living room. I absolutely HATED it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thanks! It was a really great find for a good price, which is the whole reason I go to the flea market, heh heh.
          I have no idea what kind of wood the outside is made of. It needs a couple more coats of polyurethane but I can’t do anything about that right now.

    31. Girasol*

      Best: My bike. When I was a kid I was so jealous of my brother’s racing Peugeot but my babysitting money could barely cover a no-name cheapo bike. Decades later I was in a bike shop with a broken derailleur and they said, “They don’t make that kind anymore. You might try a second hand shop for a bike to part out.” So I did and there was my Peugeot: Eddy Merckx silver commemorative edition, just my size, with a $15 tag on it. Looked like it had been left in a corner for 30 years, but with the crumbling seat and tires replaced it was new again. I’ve ridden spendy modern bikes but nothing has the great ride of that Peugeot. Best purchase ever.

    32. Nicole76*

      Best – $180 Shark cordless vacuum that converts into a handheld. My house is cleaner than ever because it is light and easy to maneuver, therefore I don’t mind vacuuming frequently.

      Worst – $70 drone. It’s very difficult to control and so lightweight that any amount of wind throws it off course. It’s too easy to break off critical pieces when it inevitably crashes to the ground. Used it twice and got frustrated; now it sits in a box in the closet.

    33. AGD*

      Fantastic question!

      Best: I really want to say my sewing machine, but it was a little more than $200. It’s a toss-up between the electric heating pad that lives under my desk half the year (I have a circulatory disorder and live in a cold climate, so it goes a long way), and the laser printer that has lasted for an actual decade on only about three toner cartridges and given me no hardware problems whatsoever.

      Worst: Yeah, I too learned the hard way that finding a shoe retailer I loved online, admiring the pictures of a pair, reading about their comfort level, and excitedly buying them on sale did not mean I would actually have the slightest amount of interest in wearing the shoes in question. It was only about $50, but still, I felt stupid for using up that money uselessly, and guiltily took the shoebox to a thrift shop. Hopefully someone has been utterly delighted.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I have learned that buying shoes online is a fool’s errand. I am the person who will sit there for two hours, trying on literally every pair in the shop, hoping to maybe find one that doesn’t annoy me. But then I’m comfortable, and I’ll wear those shoes until I walk holes in them, so it’s worth it.

        I last made that mistake when I was getting married. There was one pair of white flats on the entire Internet that was supposedly my size, so I bought them. Instantly remembered why I never wear women’s shoes – they were still too small, and not the least bit comfortable. I bought stretchers; I froze them, took a heat gun to them, swaddled my foot in blister pads and attempted to walk in them, etc. They were still uncomfortable. Finally decided that I’d lost my blessed mind. Inner Bridezilla to the rescue! I threw those shoes in the bin, and threatened to provide a bouquet enema to anyone who dared give me grief about it. Most of the wedding party also gratefully put on the shoes they’d brought with them to change into the moment the ceremony ended, and wore those instead. It was fine.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I was prepared for my wedding. White character shoes for the walk down the aisle and getting married. (my stepmother can be very insistent) White reeboks for the rest of the day.

        2. allathian*

          For me it’s not a matter of size, but I have short and wide feet, so it’s very difficult to find anything nice to wear. I wore a pair of shiny Ecco shoes for my wedding. Nobody gave me any grief, I was 8 months pregnant at the time, and wore black maternity pants and a dressy maternity tunic. Yes, the bride can wear black at the wedding if she wants.

          I don’t buy clothes online. The only thing I could probably buy with little risk would be the patterned long-sleeved t-shirts I wear to work, but there’s no way I’d buy a pair of pants or shoes without trying them on first.

    34. the cat's ass*

      I have multiple best purchases: a Zojirushi hot water pot; a Zojirushi rice cooker, and the number #1 is the Dyson Animal Stick vacuum. The Stick is light weight, has a battery and is rechargeable. My house is a bunch of redwood boxes flung up against a hill, so LOTS of stairs, and i can carry that Stick up and down to get ALL those stairs clean.

      Worst/overhyped purchase? Probably my Instapot. It’s okay and i do use it intermittently, but i always fear it’s going to act like a typical pressure cooker and explode.

    35. Nicki Name*

      Best: Swiss Army knife, $30 (over 20 years ago though). I still carry it with me and find frequent uses for it.

      Worst: Would have to think about that, it’s probably something I’ve banished from my mind…

    36. beentheredonethat*

      My Under Armour hiking boots. Hiked about 15 miles a week for 4 years and still they are happy shoes.
      My Chefmate skillet, I’ve had for about 15 years and its still my favorite
      Dry Tek tees -7 years hard wear
      Ryder breathable steel toe shoes – forgot I had them on and wore them home
      Sunbeam Oskar 3 cup food processor – 10 years and still chopping
      Bissell Airam battery operated vacuum cleaner – I discovered I didn’t hate vacuuming, it was the vacuums I hated

    37. Bluebell*

      Best is a tie between the Lodge Dutch oven I got in a pretty shade of blue, and a nesting set of 4 Pyrex bowls w lids.
      I can’t really think of a good worst, though I’ve been testing out various purple shampoos, and been disappointed by quite a few.

    38. Esmeralda*

      Pink paisley raincoat from target, $35 on sale. I’ve had it for years, it’s still water resistant, and I get compliments on it ever time I wear it.

      1. Jay*

        Last summer I wandered into an Eileen Fisher store, fell in love with a raincoat, and choked on the price tag. Went home, looked on ThredUp, and snagged the exact same raincoat in a color I liked better (red!) for less than half the price. Absolutely love that coat and feel smart every time I wear it.

    39. MEH Squared*

      Best: SSD (Solid State Drive) for my desktop. I bought one for my laptop years ago and it changed my life. When I bought my current desktop, I knew I had to have one.

      Worst: Instapot (instant pot). Everyone raved about them and my brother insisted it would change my life. I’ve used it maybe three times and have since given it to said brother. All the things I hate about cooking (chopping things up, attending to different things at different times) were not alleviated by the Instapot and it didn’t really save much time, either. Such an utter disappointment.

      1. Time's Thief*

        While my instant pot isn’t my biggest regret (I do use it occasionally for yogurt making and, with the air fryer lid, air frying), it did make me realize that I’m a very simple cook. I need the control that a simple pot and stove top give me and don’t like putting my food in a black box and hoping everything works. And those cook times are SUCH a lie! Sure, it’s only 15 minutes at high pressure but no one mentioned it takes a good half-hour to get there and then needs another who-knows-how-long to come back down.

        I’m happy for everyone who loves theirs but I’ve found it’s just not how I cook.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          I’ve had that experience with the Instant Pot also. By the time it (slowly) heats up, and then (slowly) depressurizes, you might as well have just cooked it on the stovetop. And if there are any vegetables involved, you’ll probably have more lid-free cooking at the end to boil off the excess moisture.

          I do use it regularly for stock. Turns an overnight boil into a set-and-forget operation that’s done in two hours max. I also use the air fryer accessory a lot more than I thought I would. It’s also a decent slow cooker, definitely better than the ancient fire hazard it replaced, but I don’t do that nearly as much as I used to. Does just enough to stay on the kitchen counter, but not a life changer.

        2. Gravity*

          Yes! I have a crockpot that makes the same dishes I’d do in an Instapot, and with the crockpot I can just throw stuff in before work and come home to a done meal. No babysitting required, and a lot easier to clean.

      2. Generic Name*

        I have an instant pot that basically is a rice cooker. Turns out, I’m not really that into “wet” foods. I like oven cooking and sautéing and crispy skin, etc.

      3. marvin*

        I just have a regular slow cooker and was initially disappointed in it as well until I discovered that it makes amazing curry. That alone saved it from being donated in my recent move.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I love mine, too! Not having to remember to buy more period supplies when I run low has removed one of those minor yet incredibly annoying hassles from my life.

      2. NeonFireworks*

        I forgot about this! And my winter coat, which is from The North Face and has lasted like 15 years.

      3. Nack*

        Yes! Well, diva brand didn’t work for me, so I have a June cup. They were selling them at cost during early pandemic days so I think with shipping it was only about $15. Also period underwear. As someone with a very heavy flow, (used to used cup + giant pads & still wake up 1-2 times a night to refresh), period panties were a life changer.

        1. Observer*

          This is a total aside, but if you have not done so yet, please get that checked out. And if you spoke to your doctor who just waved it away, please find someone who will take it seriously.

          In the vast, vast majority of cases bleeding THIS heavy is tied to an underlying condition and it’s often worthwhile to check it out. Also, in too many cases, doctors blow it off so it can be hard to find someone to actually check it out.

    40. Lcsa99*

      Best: our stand mixer. We’ve put so many miles on it and love it

      Worst: our robo vac. I know a lot of people have theirs as the best, but we bought a BobSweep and it was such a waste. It took forever, it always got stuck. I don’t think it ever finished a whole room without a problem. I am sure there are more things we’ve wasted money on (definitely agree on shoes!) but this was the first that came to mind

      1. Time's Thief*

        While I like our old roomba, my husband would totally agree with you. I don’t mind that it makes it about fifteen minutes before needing to be rescued, can’t find its way back to its charger, and keeps getting lost in the bathroom. It keeps the cats out so I can exercise without stepping on tails and really, after that, the slightly cleaner room is just a bonus.

        But it really does fail as a robotic vacuum. Granted, it’s a decade old so don’t take that as a statement on new roombas. Maybe they don’t manage to close themselves in the toilet stall EVERY SINGLE TIME. This one, though? It’s got issues. But, like I said, it works for me so we keep it. My husband thinks I’m nuts.

    41. Joielle*

      Best – I have a few!
      – Kitchen: Instant Pot (and Instant-Pot-brand air fryer)
      – Office: a tiny little lamp thing that sits right below my monitor and is just bright enough to light the darker side of my face in Zoom meetings. I look so much better on video now.
      – Workout: a deeply discounted treadmill that I got from Aldi for $100
      – Garden: a hori-hori knife

      Worst – oh god, I’ve bought so many things over the years that I thought were going to be The Most Amazing Thing but ended up being total duds. Once I bought a SpiritHoods wolf hat (literally a fake fur hat with wolf ears) that was like $150. Why?? I do not know but I decided that I absolutely needed it at the time. I get it out every year for when the trick or treaters come by but never wear it aside from that.

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

      Tie for best with cheap toaster oven with a timer on it (You can toast! You can roast! You can bake!) and u-shaped body pillow from Queen Rose (It’s like being cuddled on both sides, and you can support your entire leg, not just your knee).

      I’ve made a lot of purchases that didn’t work out, but I don’t remember them much. I toss them out and move on.

    43. Burnt Eggs*

      Worst- yeti cooler. Too heavy (for me) and didn’t keep things any colder than our older ones.
      Best- BIDET!!! love it so much, I gave as presents to some people! :-)

        1. Burnt Eggs*

          Luxe Neo 120 and just installed a Luxe Neo 180 in a seldom used bathroom. Took 1/2 hour to install, less if I would have shut off the water all the way first! Mine are not heated, but it’s never been too cold. I love them so much, I feel I’m ‘roughing it’ whenever I go somewhere with a standard toilet.

          1. Mad Hatter*

            I bought the Lux 180 early in the pandemic based on a suggestion on here and also have given a couple as gifts. The TP shortage was not an issue at my house!

    44. Echo*

      Best: food processor, laptop stand, house slippers, a nice fleece from Patagonia, external hard drive where I back up my laptop.

      Worst: mostly clothing purchases, of things that I didn’t really need and/or didn’t actually look good on me. I also don’t use my fancy stand mixer anywhere near as much as I thought I would. “Surely, this will be the week you suddenly turn into an avid baker,” I tell myself about once a week on average.

    45. All Monkeys are French*

      Best is probably the Oxo gooseneck electric kettle. It’s lightning fast and great for making pour-over coffee.

      Worst is a pair of shoes I thought just needed a little breaking-in, but they only got less comfortable, and then it was too late to send them back.

    46. TallGuy*

      Niche as heck, but…one of the best purchases I made was the pair of recovery sandals I bought at the Hoka One One booth at the NYC Marathon expo in 2018. Extremely comfortable, easy to get on (which is a plus after races), and they’ve lasted me four years so far. (Granted, I haven’t worn them THAT much, but they’ve been through quite a bit.)

    47. Danish*

      Best: this may be a bit of a controversial answer, and I know it’s not an “object”, but my purebred cat I got from a breeder early 2020. This cat is so unlike any shelter cat I’ve ever owned, in a way that is both challenging and delightful, and he was deeply integral to helping me through the worst of the pandemic. He also has helped me establish healthier routines, Because he is very particular about his bedtime (and thus, my bedtime), and when his box is cleaned, and even bothers me to take him outside on a regular basis (on a leash).

      Worst: any of the very high end, quality drawing tablets I’ve purchased over the years. I fanc(ied) myself an artist, but I was never dedicated enough to even remotely justify those expensive, professional tools. I ended up giving them all away, including a brand new cintinq that I never even opened.

    48. Voluptuousfire*

      Best—my air fryer. I actually use it, so it’s fantastic.

      Worst—so many shoes. I have a wider right foot along with the beginnings of a bunion, so so many shoes just don’t fit right. i also forget to take them back and only remember a week or two after the time to take them back is over.

    49. cityMouse*

      I love my costco house brand (Gourmia) air fryer. Bought it on sale for 60CAD. Best appliance ever. I use it every day. I love it.

      Worst: a made-to-measure suit for $600CAD. I thought it would be a good investment, and really needed a good, basic, black suit (jacket and pants) for work. It didn’t fit! I couldn’t move in it. I couldn’t raise my arms, or sit in a chair! I was so upset, we had several fittings and discussions, and I still don’t get the disconnect, but once it’s made you can’t change it. The unspoken accusation was that I had gained weight, but I hadn’t. I was so unhappy! Never, ever, EVER again. What a waste of money. It sits in my closet and accuses me of wastefulness. I hate it. I went to the local thrift store and bought separates and they fit quite well and DIDN’T COST 600CAD. I’m still angry at myself. ARGH.

      1. cityMouse*

        the only good thing is how much I learned, quite expensively, about made to measure vs off the rack vs custom suits. If you ever make this choice, be very well informed about the fabric. The tailor claimed I chose the wrong fabric.

        Again, argh.

    50. Mme Defarge*

      best is my Ashford spinning wheel – bought just after I was unexpectedly widowed young, 18 months after getting married and emigrating. I spent hours and hours spinning. After 35 years being mostly tucked away, it has come out again and is sustaining me through pandemic times. (Just needed a spot of oil.) It did cost less than $200 (equivalent) at the time, but a new one would be more now.

    51. Jasmine Tea*

      Best: My electric towel warmer. I live in a subtropical climate and it prevents my towels getting moldy and smelly. I love it! In the winter the towels are warm and cozy.

    52. JustAnotherJedi*

      Best purchase that comes to me right away? A water fountain ($20) for my very senior cat (he was 24 at the time and used the fountain almost two years). Now my 15 year old cat loves it too. Oh, and my air fryer ($70). Swore I’d never have one now we used it ALL THE TIME!
      Worst? A thing that goes between the front seats and back seats of my car. My dogs rammed through it like it was made of paper. I should have considered that one of the dogs in question is 140 pounds. Ooops.

  2. Ginger Pet Lady*

    Was reminded this week of the show Early Edition with Kyle Chandler and went to see if I could find it streaming for a little nostalgia. I can’t find it!
    I’ve previously looked for and not found:
    Once and Again
    Providence
    What old shows do you wish were available for streaming?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh I loved Early Edition!

      For years I wanted to watch all of Lizzie McGuire and Boy Meets World since I only ever saw what happened to be on when I watched TV. When Disney Plus happened I watched a handful of episodes of both but it’s just not the same now (also, there were SO MANY Lizzie episodes I’d never seen? Why did they constantly re-air the bra one and the camping one??)

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I miss the 80’s tv specials that existed entirely to sell toys. My parents taped them off-air at the time onto beta tapes, so I rewatched them over and over again growing up (but did not have any of the toys – my parents were much pickier about what toys I could have than they were about me watching tv shows marketing toys, so I spent a lot of time wishing I had stuff I’d seen on tv).

      I particularly miss Fluppy Dogs (which did not seem to make it to Disney+ despite being a Disney show) and Star Fairies. Neither ever got a DVD release. I had better luck with the various Garfield specials that I also liked as a kid and picked those up when they came out on DVD. I also wish I could remember the names of more of the cartoons I used to watch, but I pretty much just watched everything on in a given programming block except for a few shows I disliked, so not all names got retained. Oh well.

      1. TvShowsOnDVD is a missed resource*

        Main reason it hasn’t had a physical or digital release is because it was a co-production by more than 2 companies, and was started before full-season tv releases to dvd were a thing. Basically the rights are a complete legal mess. And that isn’t even touching on the music rights. (I did a big deep dive on this in, like 2008. Basically until it goes into public domain, or someone spends a LOT of money, we won’t see a release outside of, I think season 1 came out in Germany in, like, 2006.)

    3. UKDancer*

      Poltergeist the Legacy. I can not find it anywhere. I have the first season on DVD but can’t get the others in a UK compatible format. I loved that series.

      Also Forever Knight which was one of my favourite shows as a university student and one of the first fandoms I wrote really bad angsty fanfic about.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Forever Knight was awesome in all its early 90s, Canadian production campiness. I believe the first two seasons are on Prime.

      2. allathian*

        A modern blu-ray player should play both Euro and US DVD formats. Thank goodness they did away with that nonsense with blu-rays.

      1. anony*

        If you’re in the United States, LA Law is available on Amazon Prime. Not sure if it’s all seasons cus I don’t know how many they had.

        1. SpellingBee*

          Me too! They were my favorites. Sue Perkins also did a couple of short series with Giles Coren called The Supersizers Go and The Supersizers Eat, where they spend a week eating (and dressing) as though they lived in a specific era, such as Victorian England. Very entertaining.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Oh, yeah, it was incredible. Which era and animal was their favorite? I loved 100 million years, the toratons were just great.

    4. Seal*

      Homefront, which also stars Kyle Chandler. It’s an early 90s post-WWII drama about how a small town adjusted to life after the war.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I remember being so angry, watching that, when it showed the companies firing all the women employees so they could hire returning veterans.

    5. Defective Jedi*

      Clean Sweep. The organizers were kind and shared strategies I still use to keep my Stuff under control.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        That’s Life from the 90s, I never watched Real Housewives, but it’s Heather Dubrow back in the day if you did. Such an empowering show for the era, I loved the characters.

    6. Fran Fine*

      What old shows do you wish were available for streaming?

      Tales from the Crypt. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t buy them when they were available for sale on Amazon Prime. I wish HBO would bring it back or some other streamer would buy the rights – there are no good horror anthology series out, and as a huge horror buff, it’s disappointing.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Oh wow, I was just thinking about that show a couple days ago and was wondering if it was available to stream anywhere. The opening to that show scared the bejesus out of young me!

        1. Fran Fine*

          It scared the crap out of my little brother, too, lol. Every time the Crypt Keeper popped up out of that coffin, my brother would scream. Every. Single. Time.

          He should probably be in therapy now…

    7. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Ed! Lovely show and SO many actors were on it before they got famous (Julie Bowen, John Slattery, Justin Long, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Michael Ian Black though he was already as famous as he ever was!). I suspect there is a rights issue with this one too – it was NBC/Universal plus David Letterman’s production company so it’s a bit of a no-mans land on what streamer it would live on. I’m also not sure they got enough episodes to be syndicated. They ALSO had a rights issue when the show came out because there was confusion about whether they got the rights for the theme song from the Foo Fighters. For a while they had some other song as the theme, then the rights issue got worked out and the FF song came back! Thank you for coming to my TED talk about little-known early 00s television.

    8. JK78*

      A quick google search for Early Edition turns up an article in Variety that says CBS might reboot it. Sounds like a pilot has been ordered and it’ll be a gal reporter? “In the rebooted version, an ambitious but uncompromising journalist starts receiving tomorrow’s newspaper today. She then finds herself in the complicated business of changing the news instead of reporting it.” But yeah, I liked Early Edition too, “Mrow!” *THUMP*

      NBC is has Quantum Leap this fall, but supposedly it’s a sequel series than really a reboot. I’m excited, I hope they do more than nod to the “relationship” Sam and Al had, which was always my favorite part. I think I have most of Quantum Leap in a moving box somewhere, I might have to try to dig it out before this fall.

      Once and Again looks like it’s on YouTube, although I’m not sure how “legally” it’s on there. Some shows seem to appear on YouTube and then disappear, so ymmv.

  3. Yeah summer!*

    I was listening to a podcast about what it’s like to be a sibling to a set of twins. As a twin mom with a disgruntled older kid, I want to hear more. Does anyone have the experience of being a sibling to twins. Would you share the things that were hard for you. Honestly, the pettier the better. When you were in elem what really bugged you.

    1. California Dreamin’*

      Interested to see the comments. My older child was 10 and in 4th grade when my twins were born. He’s an adult now, but I often think that must have been quite an experience to go from doted-on only child to mom and dad have way less time for you now because we’re under water with two infants. He has not expressed any resentment, but sometimes my mom guilt kicks in and I think I sort of left him to his own devices too young because he was good at occupying himself with books and Legos and video games. Of course he loves his siblings, but I imagine there’s some baggage there.

      1. fposte*

        Though TBH I think that’s the experience of any older sib to some extent–parents are generally underwater with a new baby, and once they’re there I’m not sure it makes that much difference whether they’re on the bottom of the shallow end or the deep end. I hear a lot of parental confessions about shoving an older sib off with an iPad or whatever to cope with the baby.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          Definitely to some extent, but in my experience (observing friends and family), when there’s one new baby, one parent can focus on older sibling while the other parent is focusing on baby sometimes. With twins, it’s a bit of an all hands on deck situation for a while. But yes, this is certainly something that’s faced by all growing families, maybe just a little more intense.

        2. Beethoven, nooooo*

          that’s interesting, my parent friends mostly tell me they feel guilty engaging less with their younger children as infants because the toddler demands more attention, so they end up letting baby #2 chill in the car seat or bassinet more

          1. California Dreamin’*

            This may be the case if the older sib is a toddler because yeah, they require constant attention. My son was 10 when my twins were born, so he was more self-sufficient and thus easier to ignore. Not that we ignored him completely! But I wish I’d been a little more present for him in his tween years.

    2. Older sister*

      I have two younger identical twin brothers; my husband also has younger identical twin brothers. I think for both of us there were a lot of other dynamics going on such that the twin stuff was pretty small in the scheme of things. My brothers never seemed all that close to each other despite being twins, so I didn’t necessarily have that whole outsider feeling compared to them. My husband and I both got professional degrees at Harvard while none of our brothers went to college, so I feel like we’ve had some pretty different life trajectories and experiences that affect our adult interactions more than any twin/non-twin thing. I mean, hopefully your kids will spend most of their lives as adults and will have better relationships by then? I think siblings are just hard period when you’re little, regardless of twinhood, along with the whole 2 vs. 1 dynamic.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        It’s a really interesting question! In the case in my family, at least, the twins are fraternal and not a lot alike in terms of either appearance or personality (they get along well and occasionally do that twin-talk thing, but other times they find common ground with one of the singleton siblings instead). And all the age gaps are small anyway. It’s really a set of 5 kids where some pair of them are technically twins, but it’s difficult to guess which ones just by looking.

        1. Yeah summer!*

          Ours are fraternal and three years younger than our other child. So oldest went from center of the universe to twin sib.
          They have always been a little think tank. So parenting them is somewhat more challenging. As opposed to the single who just accepted limits.
          They also get more attention just because they are twins. Pre pandemic a lady followed us around Costco cooing at them (more sweet than creepy).
          They are starting to rally for each other. If one’s about to get in trouble the other will cover (badly)
          There is definitely room for very valid complaints

    3. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

      Not quite what you’re asking for, but I think somewhat relevant: I know a woman online who deeply resented her brother who was born when she was a teenager, because somehow her parents got into a pattern of treating her like an unpaid nanny, taking off for weekends and leaving her in charge. So much for a social life, right? As a result, they were never close, and as adults, barely know each other. I daresay you’ll have to give your singleton son *some* extra responsibilities from now on. But try to phrase it like, you know you can count on him to do this, and you appreciate it. And when he gets to be a teenager, give him enough time to be a teenager.

      Also not the same sitch, but I’m a gap baby, born when my siblings were teenagers, and so is a guy I know IRL. Well, we won’t get into my story, but my friend’s parents had a good way of dealing with scheduling problems. Instead of dragging him to all his older brothers’ sports things, so he could be bored and cranky, they would leave him with his grandparents, sometimes overnight, where he could relax, have fun, and bond with Gma and Gpa. So if possible, let Singleton spend time at the home of a family member, a friend, one of *his* friends; anywhere he feels comfortable.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        Oops, missed the part where the twins are already born. What are the ages/age gap?

      2. Asenath*

        Being the oldest and often the baby-sitter doesn’t always cause problems, though. Maybe it depends on the relationship. I was the oldest in my immediate family, and adored my youngest siblings from the moment they were born – to this day I am much closer to one of them than I am to the sibling closest to me in age. And I certainly helped care for them. On the other hand, I disliked being chief child wrangler when the extended family got together. I was not only the oldest in my immediate family, but the oldest of all the cousins on one side, the side of the family that I saw the most of. In that case, it was largely a matter of responsibility without authority, plus of course the fact that some of these cousins behaved very differently than I expected (or was really considered acceptable, IMO) and saw no reason they should listen to me.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I think it depends too on the other dynamics in the family. There’s a subtle but significant difference between being asked to help out and being treated as a third parent. I think a lot of it depends on whether the older kids needs and wants are also respected. “You can’t join the soccer team/be in the school play because I might need you to babysit” is a lot different from “hey, are you free to babysit that weekend?”

          Another issue is whether the older one gets extra privileges along with extra responsibilities.

          1. Alexis Rosay*

            Yes, this. As the oldest, I think kids do get that being older comes with more responsibilities. It’s pairing it with privileges that makes it feel worth it.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        A girl in my sixth grade class was kept out of school so often to babysit that the school sent a truant officer after her parents. At 11, it wasn’t even legal for her to babysit at all, let alone being forced to skip school.
        Another eldest sibling that I knew as an adult decided never to have children of her own because she “had raised enough kids already.”
        These were extreme cases, of course, but people shouldn’t have more children than they can care for, or afford to hire help.

    4. PollyQ*

      If your older kid gets too disgruntled, tell him about my cousins. The first child was a girl, and 6-7 years down the road she received the delightful present of twin baby sisters–on her birthday.

      1. AGD*

        Oh no! It was so important to me not to have to share my birthday that I can still tell you my list of all the kids I met in childhood who dared to have the same one as I did. Along with the kid I met who lied and told me she had my birthday, when it turned out that she did not. (She later said, “I don’t know what I was thinking, sorry,” but it wasn’t the only time she made stuff up just to push people around. Also, by that point, we were teenagers.)

    5. Yeah summer!*

      I included more info about our family dynamic upstream here.
      If anyone is interested the podcast was “hills I’d die on” and the topic is separate twins at birth. (A joke. Mostly)
      The bigger points were being a normal sib next to twins who get a lot of extra/unearned attention, witnessing their special relationship (which can lead to gains like avoiding consequences) etc.
      My seven year old is good with his twins, as he calls them. But I could fully see some valid points to get frustrated. (Included in second post. above )

    6. Anon5775*

      I’m 5 yrs older than my identical twin sisters. My main complaint was they got to share a chore and I had to do a full chore. I realized later that this was partly because I was older and more capable, but as a kid I didn’t appreciate that. I think I got overlooked a bit because they were cute and identical. I did help out with helping dad tell them apart but wouldn’t say I felt like I had to help raise them. They were super close up to their twenties and now I’d say one is closer to me because we share politic views etc. One thing my mom regrets that she didn’t even know about for a while was, she was busy with them so didn’t take me to my first day of 2nd grade. A neighbor took me and she wasn’t very effective. It bothered me a bit, but didn’t scar me permanently. But my mom wishes she would have had the neighbor watch my sisters so she could have taken me to school. Good luck!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Older sister to the Cute Little Sister here. Even having one little sister – complete strangers would stop to gasp about her beauty – was hard.

        To this day, my sister is the one people rave about – her charisma, her smile – and it’s all true – she is the charismatic one whom everyone adores. But now I adore her, too, and have accepted that we are just different.

        1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

          With you, TiE! My older brother is the one everyone likes, and it was so unpleasant growing up, because everyone was always on about him, and never noticed anything I did. AT ALL. To make matters worse, people tried to call me “Little J-Rock”. No ma’am, no sir. I am a) a girl, and b) not about to be junior his nickname! What we’re not gonna do is think that’s cute, funny, or appropriate.

          Let’s just say a few of his friends learned fast that his little sister is much meaner than he is and packs a real punch!

          We’re fine now as adults, but I wouldn’t say we have a close relationship.

    7. NancyDrew*

      So I am the twin (identical) and we have one older sibling and one younger.

      Definitely some interesting dynamics, though the good news is we’re all very close (though I can’t deny my twin and I jump to each other’s defense if there’s ever a sibling spat in ways we don’t do for the other siblings!) And I do recall that, when our grandfather died and we were at the wake, so many of his friends literally walked right by my other siblings in order to exclaim “Oh! The twins! Your grandfather loved having twins!” It was like they were invisible.

      I saw someone comment that their twin siblings had to split a chore while they had to do a whole chore — but it worked the other way for us, in that if there were, say, 3 cookies left on the plate, my older sis would get one, my younger bro would get one, and we twins would have to split the remaining :)

      (Disclaimer: I absolutely love being a twin and I’m sure a tiny part of that is the fact that it’s seen as so special — since we’re identical and that wasn’t super common 40 years ago!)

    8. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Older sib by 7 years here.

      In my case, the shift from being an only child and the only neice/granddaughter wasn’t overly distressing most of the time. I did get shoveled out of the way when the twins were the focus of an occasion, such as the baby shower when they were born.

      I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They and I had a great relationship and were thrilled with the arrangement. It gave me some ‘special’ opportunities that my siblings and cousins didn’t get, such as flying unaccompanied as a minor and visits to national parks. When I got a little older, I noticed this special treatment was only directed at me and made me feel like my parents didn’t want me around (there are some complex family dynamics behind this).

      That said, I was so much older than my siblings that we never really clicked until I was in university and they were teens. I don’t remember any overt jealousy and even arguments between either of them and me were rare. I related more strongly with my parents’ younger sisters (who are 13-15 years older than me) while the twins associated more with their kids. This probably led to our relatively peaceful coexistence.

      Sorry that didn’t fully answer your question, so here is a gripe…I think I was most irritated that my youngest aunt was so excited about them being twins that she told someone their gender while talking on the phone when I was in the room. I had wanted to learn that from my parents! I complained about her to everyone for months.

    9. Manders*

      I have a friend who got pregnant with triplets when her baby was about a year old (and then her husband left her. It was a trying time). Now they are older teenagers, and the 4 of them, because they are so close in age, are all really good friends with each other. I think it helps that there are 2 boys and 2 girls.

      1. Yeah summer!*

        Oh my! Give your friend a big hug ( or high five). I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.
        I do feel like three is a difficult number. Weird feelings can come up a lot. But I’m not. Having another to even it out.

  4. Mitchell Hundred*

    I just finished reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel ‘North and South’, which I loved. Surprisingly I’d never heard of this book or the author before, but I’m glad to have come across it. It’s sort of a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ kind of story, except it was written and set in the mid-19th century and offers commentary on the class divisions brought about by the Industrial Revolution.

    1. Older sister*

      Have you read Middlemarch by George Eliot? I’m a big Austen fan, but Middlemarch is my #1 favoritest book ever. I reread it last year and it was still just as good the second time through.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Yeah, I bought a copy of that, and Felix Holt the Radical, and Adam Bede at various used bookstores. Haven’t read any of them yet, though. My TBR pile does this weird thing where I try to make it smaller, except that only makes it bigger?

      2. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

        Yes to Middlemarch :)
        The book is king but there is a really good bbc TV series of it from 1994, if you can get hold of it. I remember as a child basically falling in love with Will Ladislaw and his twinkly eyes….

    2. KatEnigma*

      Masterpiece did a nice adaptation of it, if you are interested. My husband introduced me to it.

      1. Katiekins*

        Richard Armitage is SO dreamy, but his character is such a jerk! I don’t think he really redeems himself for all his union busting.

    3. ElsieD*

      ‘Cranford’ is my favourite, less serious. The copy I have has black and white illustrations which adds to the period flavour.

        1. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

          I loved Cranford.
          Recommendation: the audible audiobook of it, read tenderly by Prunella Scales (who played the wife in Fawlty Towers!) That was how I “read” it and it was a great experience. Scales is so intelligent, witty and respectful – it feels perfect for the quiet but sharp tone of Cranford.

      1. Inkhorn*

        Which was all I knew about her until North and South hit the small screen. Then it was like, “OMG! She wrote NOVELS!” *squee*

      2. Mitchell Hundred*

        Yes, my grandfather mentioned that when I told him about it. He also mentioned that she was married to a Unitarian minister (he hasn’t read any of her books, but he is a Unitarian, so he knows all the famous ones).

    4. UKDancer*

      North and South is wonderful, one of my favourite books. I love her take on the social changes of the industrial revolution and her understanding of the difficulties women faced in that time period. The romance is nice but it’s a good piece of social commentary. As someone who grew up in the north but live in the south, I found a lot of the discussion about the differences resonated with me when I first read it.

      I agree Richard Armitage is gorgeous but he wasn’t how I pictured John Thornton. I had someone more like Ciaran Hinds (from the 1995 Persuasion) in mind. Armitage is a bit too good looking. It was a really good adaptation though.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Probably my favourite part of it is her descriptions of different places and of people’s emotions. It gave the story a really strong sense of place. Also, I have trouble making emotional connections to fictional characters, so being put in another person’s shoes like that was really refreshing.

        1. Nitpicker*

          My favorite Jane Austen adaptation (aside from Clueless which is a whole different thing).

        2. UKDancer*

          Mine too. He looks so good in those uniforms and has great legs. I also love the way they cast Anne. Amanda Root has such expressive eyes.

          It’s one of my favourites although I also love the 1995 Pride and Prejudice and the Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility. I must say the 2021 Emma was also really good, great costumes and exceptional use of Bill Nighy.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Wives and Daughters is my favorite Gaskell. There was a terrific miniseries of it years ago– occasionally it shows up on Netflix.

      1. OxfordBlue*

        I watched that and thought it was brilliant. I went on to read the book as well as Cranford and love both of them for different reasons. I hadn’t realised it might be available to stream so thanks for the info.

    6. Imtheone*

      I love Gaskell! Known as Mrs. Gaskell. She met Charlotte Brontë—I believe Gaskell was already a successful author. Her other books are quite good: Mary Barton, Crawford, Cousin Phillis, Wives and Daughters.

    7. Katy*

      I love North and South! Have you read Wives and Daughters? It’s her masterpiece imo. Very different from North and South, but then all her books are different from each other.

    8. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

      Oh I really enjoyed North and South. Yeah, I like the way you relate it to Pride and P, I hadn’t thought of that.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Well, as I understand it Austen created the basic template for romance, so pretty much all subsequent writing in that genre is going to have some of her DNA.

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

      Oooh, I remember how much I loved discovering Gaskell after I’d run out of Austen! Here are a couple less-well-known women authors who scratch the same itch for me:

      Elizabeth von Arnim (she is just so sharp and funny, and many of her books are available on Project Gutenberg. My all-time faves are The Caravaners and The Enchanted April– which was also adapted into a delightful film.)

      Dorothy Whipple (a more recent writer, probably a contemporary of Agatha Christie, but in terms of her strengths and general vibe as a writer, she reminds me more of Austen. I’ve had trouble finding her books in the states except via interlibrary loan, but the publisher that has reprinted most of her works, Persephone Books, does have e-versions available.)

    10. Buni*

      Late to the game but if you like the Victorian Romance + socio-political commentary angle may I MASSIVELY recommend Charlotte Bronte’s “Shirley”. Same vein, but also the genuinely funniest of any Bronte book (sample chapter heading ‘XVIII Which the Genteel Reader is Recommended to Skip, Low Persons being here Introduced’).

  5. Medical Mystery Anon*

    Back in June I wrote about my frustrations of having so many things going haywire in my body, abnormal blood tests, and providers downplaying my symptoms or not acting with urgency. My health got even worse.

    I followed advice to get a second opinion, and, internet friends, I have been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus. It is brutal. My doc started me on medication and aside from the not-fun side effects (hello insomnia and crazy lucid dreams), I am feeling SO MUCH BETTER. Lupus causes pain and organ damage, so getting a diagnosis and starting on medication is crucial. I am so grateful to have found her and to have a treatment plan.

    If you are in pain and it continues to worsen, always, always, always get a second opinion if the first provider dismisses you. Or a third. Or a fourth. Working with a doctor you trust is so important. Thank you to everyone who chimed in with their advice and support. Sending out internet hugs!

    1. NeonFireworks*

      On the one hand, lupus is rough and I’m really sorry to hear you’ve been grappling with it – but YAY for a diagnosis and treatment and a fantastic, considerate doctor! Everyone deserves that.

    2. Chronic issues*

      So glad you got a diagnosis and treatment, and I hope things continue to get better for you!
      I’m on doctor 13 in the last 20 years. I’ve had ONE who took my symptoms semi-seriously, but then an insurance change meant I couldn’t see her again and now she’s retired. And now that I’m 50+ and overweight from decades of chronic pain making exercise difficult, doctors not have age and weight to blame EVERYTHING on. So that’s fun.
      The health care system here (the US) is just not workable to have a long term dr/pt relationship and it incentivizes doctors to move you through quickly and without much depth.

    3. AGD*

      Oh my goodness! I applaud you on continuing to seek a true ally. I hope things continue to go well!

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

      So glad you’re getting the answers and treatment that you need. Great work advocating for yourself! : )

    5. Observer*

      I’m so glad that you got a diagnosis!

      Lupus is rough diagnosis, but being undiagnosed must make it 10X worse.

  6. Daily reader, rare commenter*

    What is your understanding of cultural appropriation? I’ve never asked a question here before, but am really keen to hear your views because of some comments to the letter from someone couple of days ago about a non-Chinese colleague who writes Chinese in birthday and sympathy cards sent by their office. There were some readers who deemed it cultural appropriation, which I personally think is extreme. For the record, I am not white, my first language is not English and is written in a non-Latin script.

    1. RagingADHD*

      My understanding is that there are several aspects to appropriation, or ways that something could potentially be appropriative. I may not get them all, but they would include things like:

      Using culturally significant or sacred symbols / items because they are interesting or pretty, without acknowledging its origin or context. Or giving lip service to the context while actively disrespecting the tradition behind it.

      Ripping off or profiting off of a cultural tradition or art form without returning any recognition or financial benefit to the community that created it.

      Using cultural or ethnic dress/hairstyles/mannerisms or art forms because they are “cool,” even though the actual members of that community have been persecuted or discriminated against for expressing their own traditional styles.

      There’s a tipping point where appropriative dress starts to blend into outright racist practices like using an ethnicity as a costume for laughs.

      I don’t think sharing in practices that are meant to be shared, like languages or food, is appropriative. And there are many ways to appreciate and enjoy all different aspects of other cultures that are respectful and that give credit (and payment) where it is due.

      1. BethDH*

        Clothing is always one that seems tricky to me. If you’re a white American invited to an Indian wedding where most attendees will be wearing Indian dress, is it appropriation to wear it yourself?
        I tend to think that it isn’t, and would see it as following a sort of dress code rather than wearing a costume. But I’ve never been in that situation and I don’t know for sure.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I have never been in that situation either, but I think in that case, the best thing to do would be to ask the hosts?

            1. Beethoven, nooooo!*

              Right if you have been asked or invited to participate in an actual cultural tradition, it is not appropriation to do so authentically. It might be appropriative if you, like, used a photo of yourself in that wedding sari as your FB profile for the next decade because you thought it was “pretty” now it was completely divorced from the cultural context.

        2. londonedit*

          I live in a part of London with a big South Asian population and the norm is that white guests are invited to wear traditional dress at weddings. All the women get dressed up in their best sarees and shalwar kameez and it’s perfectly normal and acceptable and celebrated for white guests to also do that.

      2. Mewtwo*

        Agree. Also want to add that while it’s okay to partake in the shareable aspects of a culture, doing so doesn’t make you an “honorary member” of that culture or community. Just putting this out there because there are a worrying number of white people out there who think that because they love hip hop or Indian cultural traditions, or married someone from that community, they feel like “could be part of that community” or are an honorary member of the community. That’s not how it works. As a white person, you got to experience only the fun aspects of being in the community minus the systemic discrimination, microaggressions, barriers etc.

        Also, many communities carry internalized biases which white people benefit from as well. Indians LOVE it when white people express interest in their culture and wear saris and stuff, while criticizing dark-skinned people in their own community. A lot of white people don’t realize how privileged they are in having their options being allowed wherever they want while most marginalized people are limited in where they are accepted.

    2. A.N O’Nyme*

      I pretty much agree with RagingADHD. If you’re profiting off of sacred or cultural aspects of a culture that people who are actually from that culture would get punished for using, that’s appropriation. That letter from earlier this week…was not. It’s rude to write something you know people won’t understand without a translation, especially on a condolence card (though I would assume the birthday cards just have whatever the birthday greeting in Mandarin is and let that go). Now whether or not that was Orientalism kind of depends on more detail than we got in the letter so I’m not willing to jump to that either – it depends entirely on how the coworker speaks about China. It could just be that they’re proud of knowing a second language and having been outside the States, it could be a case of Orientalism.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        No I need to know what Orientalism is, please. It’s not something I’ve heard used irl (UK) or on the internet until just now.

        1. Squidhead*

          Someone will probably have a more nuanced definition, but I would say that Orientalism = fetishization of the culture (which probably elides multiple cultures, at that).

        2. curly sue*

          Orientalism is a term used in postcolonial studies. It was established by author Edward Said in his book of that name to describe the ways in which western culture has vilified and exotified eastern culture. He was mostly talking about the middle east (think any Sinbad movie, or harem fantasy) and north Africa, but use of the term has expanded.

          The opposite would be occidentalism, ftr – perceptions of western culture as presented in Eastern media.

        3. A.N. O'Nyme*

          curly sue is pretty much spot-on, though here I am indeed using it in a broader sense than Said originally intended. The distinction I’m making here is whether or not she’s actually fascinated by Chinese culture and willing to also learn about the bad bits, or if she’s fetishising it. I don’t know too much about China, but to use Japan as an example: is the person also willing to acknowledge all the shit Japan was up to (seriously if Pearl Harbor and comfort women already give you the creeps there’s definitely other stuff you don’t want to look up, even knowing some of it is probably exaggerated) or are they in it to fetishise Japanese culture, extoll the virtues of Bushido (which didn’t exist – at least not in the way we think of it now), the Shinsengumi, or Japanese sword fighting as superior to any Western styles (really there’s only so many ways to swing around a sharp stick)?

          Or, to use the tattoos below as an example: does the person go to a Chinese tattoo artist to have ‘lover of exotic beauty’ tattooed on them in Chinese (only for the tattoo artist to write ‘foreign pervert’ instead – yes, that actually happened. There’s also someone out there with a tattoo reading ‘made in China’, where I’m not sure if that’s a meta joke about the tattoo either by the person or the artist, or if the person was in fact conceived in China).

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I appreciate the distinction between clothing that has a specific meaning, and within the culture is only worn by certain people at certain times to symbolize certain culturally important things, vs fashion and a general aesthetic.

        The line between cultural appropriation and cultural sharing can be hard to hit. I think scrutinizing things for cultural appropriation often gets into a molehill on a mountain situation, where “Does this count as cultural appropriation, or not” is getting all the oxygen when “This is hurtful” should be the lede. (If you and a grieving person share a language, you don’t express your condolences to them in a language you know they don’t understand.)

        1. Filosofickle*

          I gave thought to this when buying an African dress. I chose one that wasn’t in a style or pattern that is culturally meaningful (kente, dashiki). And I wear it without adding other obvious African style elements (head wrap, jewelry) so it’s just a dress and not a costume. I also made sure I was buying it from African / Black folks. This way I’m celebrating a culture and fashion while benefiting the community.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I bought African dresses when I lived in Africa and so that was the available clothing option. It would have been weird for someone to demand that I special order clothing from my home country rather than go to a shop in the local market.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Using someone else’s culture as a funny toy or prop and therefore being patronising towards it and not showing the proper respect for it. I don’t think it applies everywhere in the world, but in western culture there’s a history of one set of people putting themselves on top of another by saying “my culture is important and normal, yours is a tourist gimmick I picked up while conquering an empire”. This is an easy thing to spot when the example is obviously patronising or ridiculing another culture. I think the young girl who wore a cheongsam to her prom and caused a stir on social media is an interesting example of people not being sure what the intention is. When I first heard that I thought “What, no, a prom dress is an important outfit; surely there is respect being shown to the dress by choosing it for something special” but then I saw one of the pictures where she was posed crouched with praying hands and I thought “Oh. No.” because that definitely did look play acting out someone’s culture in a very silly uninformed way. However it turned out to be a YouTube meme they were copying and not a cultural reference at all. It’s still thoughtless and offended people, because it looked like deliberately mocking someone’s culture.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I am going to begin by saying that being Irish, I’m in a bit of an odd situation that may be biasing anything I say, in that my country is both a wealthy Western one that is generally privileged and also one that was colonised and experienced some of the same things as other colonies. So that is my perspective and may affect what I say.

      But my understanding is that it is taking something of significance to another culture and using it without bothering to understand the significance. The usual example I come across is Native American headdresses, which have to be earned, being worn by people who are not Native and have not earned them. I feel it is kinda like somebody who isn’t Catholic wearing a pretty rosary as a necklace, which is something that is just not done. If somebody who wasn’t Catholic wanted to use one as a prayer aid for their own prayers or had one that was gifted to them as a friend and kept it on display, that would be perfectly acceptable, but it is not meant to be worn as jewellery and using it in that way would be disrespectful (maybe not cultural appropriation exactly as I’m not sure there is one “Catholic culture,” but it’s just an example I am fully familiar with and don’t want to risk using an example from a culture I am not fully familiar with and misrepresenting its significance).

      I also think that once somebody starts doing the “well, ACTUALLY…” to people OF the culture, they are heading close to cultural appropriation. Using something from a culture and lecturing people FROM that culture on what it REALLY means and why it IS OK for you to use it really and they just don’t fully understand their own culture…is usually problematic.

      I agree with those who have said that simply using things from another culture is not cultural appropriation. Playing a sport invented by another culture, eating foods imported from another country, etc are not usually problematic.

      1. Westsidestory*

        Clothing and hair styles is where I get worried and a bit sad. Am I never to have cornrows? Can I dress as a geisha for Halloween? I live in a very diverse neighborhood; I admire the many imaginative hairstyles but pretty sure I’d get the side eye with knots or beaded braids.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I occasionally get cornrows because it’s a protective (and low maintenance) hairstyle during busy times, vacations etc. I’m white, but I have highly textured hair that holds cornrows really well. I do my best to avoid it seeming like appropriation by skipping beads/decorations and doing just plain braids with my own hair and no extensions or anything, and wearing a hat or buff most of the time so they’re not flapping around on display (also helps make sure I don’t get stripey scalp sunburn). Basically I do it for practical reasons, not for fashion reasons, so I try to keep it as low-key and not flaunt-y as possible. I don’t know if that’s enough, but.

        2. RagingADHD*

          I am going to address this as if you are sincere, but your chosen examples are so extreme it is kind of hard to believe that you are.

          Perhaps you are not aware that historically, geishas were sold/coerced into servitude. It was not a career choice as it is today.

          Cornrows have major cultural significance for the descendants of enslaved people, as they were not only a traditional art form but a means of communication and organizing resistance.

          If you are white, the idea that you would be “sad” that it’s inappropriate to cosplay the trappings of slavery for Halloween is…

          Wow.

          I congratulate you. You couldn’t have chosen more perfect examples of wanting to use things for fun without understanding their meaning. Spot on.

          1. Beethoven, nooooo!*

            Right. Dressing up as an extremely complex and nuanced part of a culture that you have no connection to or appreciation of, for a silly Western Halloween tradition in which the most common costumes are fictional witches or ghosts is an extremely appropriative thing to do. Like, a prime example of it.

          2. AGD*

            I agree. In all cases, people should stop and first learn about the meanings of these things to the people whose cultures and histories they come from. Then think about it for a while. And ideally find an existing discussion or it, or (briefly, without demanding undue emotional labor) run it by people in the know first. Being curious, tolerant, and accepting is fantastic, but everyone needs to be careful before blithely borrowing stuff. Because if either the stuff in question is negative, or what it looks like when a probably white outsider borrows it is cringe-inducing, that’s not fair to the people from the culture.

            I am (ostensibly super-white, but) Jewish and I have been ignoring Madonna for decades ever since she hauled out a bunch of pretty darn scared prayer accessories and paraded them around – the lack of respect was deep and obvious. It’s much worse for BIPOC.

    5. fueled by coffee*

      A key part of this that often gets overlooked is also whether the cultural traditions that are being taken up by outsiders are *intended* to be shared (i.e., how the originating culture feels about outsiders adopting those elements). It’s not appropriation to wear a sari to an Indian wedding if you were invited by the hosts to wear a sari; it’s not appropriation to cook food from a different culture; it’s not appropriation to learn a language (barring a handful of indigenous cultures that treat their languages as sacred) and read books/watch tv/write poems in that language. Appropriation enters the equation when either (1) that cultural tradition is NOT intended to be shared with outsiders or (2) outsiders are claiming that their representation of a (usually marginalized) culture’s tradition is somehow more “authentic” or “better” than the original, usually to profit off of it.

      As an example: I’m Jewish. I celebrate Passover every year. Sometimes I invite non-Jews to join my Passover Seder — and it’s not appropriation for them to take me up on that offer! I am inviting them to participate in a cultural celebration. They are welcome to eat the food and sing the songs and celebrate with us.

      Meanwhile, there’s been a recent(?) tradition of some Christian groups trying to “reclaim” Jewish traditions from the past, and they’ll host “Passover Seders” so they can have an “authentic” tradition like Jesus did — and to me, this is appropriation. We haven’t shared this with you; Jesus most assuredly did NOT celebrate Passover the way contemporary American Jews do; and given the power differential between Christianity and Judaism in the US today, this comes across as a very appropriative practice.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Double-commenting because I have a lot of opinions on this, but I also think the claims of appropriation from the original letter might also have come about because a classic example of appropriation are people who get tattoos written in (usually Asian) languages they don’t speak, that they think mean “peace” and “harmony” but turn out to really mean, like, “snail” and “cabbage.”

        The tattoo case is an example of people using Chinese (or another language’s) script purely for aesthetic purposes, without regard for the culture behind it. Writing in a language you can actually read isn’t appropriation, just annoying-to-rude to your colleagues who can’t understand it.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          To be fair, I would totally get snail as a tattoo unironically… just probably as an image, not a word.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I felt like that colleague was in a strange middle ground actually, because it was good that she understood the Chinese characters she was using, and presumably had respect for the meanings; but using them in contexts where they couldn’t be understood implied they should be used just for aesthetically pleasing effect. It was a head scratcher, actually.

      2. Jay*

        Thank you for so clearly articulating why I am uncomfortable with those Christian “seders.” I’m Jewish, often invite non-Jewish friends to Seder and sometimes also to synagogue – we certainly had non-Jewish friends and family at our daughter’s bat mitzvah. None of that is appropriation. Holding a seder in a Christian church led by someone who is not Jewish and with a very different focus – that’s appropriation.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        There’s a scene in Top Chef where the judge explains that because he grew up in LA he knows REAL Mexican food, and the chef in question responds that he is Mexican and grew up cooking in Mexico, and so feels confident that he is versed in Mexican food.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Just watched that episode (assuming that hasn’t happened twice) and was gobsmacked by that bit. It was Roy Choi talking to Carlos on S11

      4. Reba*

        There is a really good episode of the Sporkful podcast about this “gentile seder” thing! Titled “Other People’s Holidays,” they also discuss Chinese New Year parties.

    6. Lilo*

      .It’s interesting because I’ve also heard of cooking food from not your culture. My brother is not Indian but he single handedly turned around a failing Indian carryout diner (mostly by offering lunch specials and improving the quality of the food). There’s a strong reality that the industry just hires line cooks. I guess it’s technically profiting off of another culture (my brother didn’t own the restaurant, he just got paid for his hours) but that’s one instance I can’t get as upset about. Especially since food culture has a history of cultural mishmash.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I will go to the mat on food. Eating food you like, cooking food you like. I delight in consuming dumplings from across the world. Also cookies. (One of the most egregious examples here was the intern who berated a woman for making tamales for the potluck, and on being informed that she was Ecuadoran pointed out that she didn’t LOOK Hispanic, which is the bar for whether or not you are allowed to cook tamales.)

        Bad food appropriation example is the white people who opened a “clean food” Chinese restaurant where you could have all those old Chinese takeout favorites but now they were “clean.” I totally got the “what the actual f?” vibe as people did double-takes.

        1. Lilo*

          I’m also from a funny family in that white grandparents lived in South America for a while so I grew up with a family that makes arepas, for instance.

        2. fueled by coffee*

          The thing with food is that there’s multiple sets of distinctions: (1) cooking for your own enjoyment vs. to make a profit, (2) claiming some kind of “authenticity” vs. just selling food, and (3) the power dynamics that are at play, which is very tied up in why “clean Chinese food” feels so icky.

          Some examples:
          -I’m Jewish and am completely unbothered by non-Jews opening up, say, bagel shops and delis. I probably wouldn’t bat an eye at a non-Jew saying “As a New Yorker I’ve grown up around deli food, and this is real authentic New York pastrami on rye” or whatever. The power dynamics at play with respect to antisemitism are religious in nature and just generally don’t apply to food. There’s also no symbolic significance of bagels or whatever to Jewish culture, it’s just food that tastes good!
          -In contrast, the “Aloha Poke” restaurant chain tried to trademark their name and sent out cease and desist letters to many native Hawaiian-owned poke restaurants asking them to remove the words “aloha” and “poke” from their brand names — the power dynamics involved here come across as very appropriative! The issue, crucially, is not that Aloha Poke serves Hawaiian food — it’s that they’re trying to use their power to out-compete marginalized businesses run by people from the culture that the food originates from.

          The issue isn’t serving food or even having a restaurant; it’s how that interfaces with power dynamics between different cultures.

          1. Lilo*

            There’s also some interesting stereotypes at play. There’s an excellent documentary called “In Search of General Tso” that talks about Americanized “Chinese” food and why Chinese restaurants were so common.

            You can also raise some other interesting questions. For instance you think of Indian food you might think of Chicken Tikka Masala. However that particular dish is generally credited with originating in Glasgow.

            Or here in the US we associate corned beef and cabbage with Ireland, but my Irish grandad always pointed out that association actually arose because that’s what Irish immigrants were often served in Boston and New York, it’s not Irish (though you might see the effect, like you see in “Chinese” restaurants in China that cater to.tourists, where it gets loaned back again).

            1. Imtheone*

              I’ve read that the small hams that people knew in Ireland were not available in New York or Boston, but the nearby Jewish delis had a similar-looking preserved meat (corned beef brisket). So the Irish adapted and started preparing the corned beef.

    7. CatPerson*

      I think that cultural appropriation is off the mark. I call it virtue signaling. Clearly the card-writer wanted to be asked about her message (since the readers have no chance to understand it) and be given an opportunity to brag about her expertise in Chinese.

          1. AGD*

            I’m not. Truly respecting each other’s cultures requires listening to each other and not making people feel dismissed by borrowing whatever you want without the context…especially if it’s something from a minority culture and people from it are actively mistreated or denied opportunities for using it (see Black English, or Black hairstyles, in the United States).

    8. Mewtwo*

      I’m South Asian-American FTR.

      To me, “cultural appropriation” itself is neutral – neither good nor bad. But obviously, it can occur in bad forms with nefarious purposes. Other times, it’s benign.

      There is an annoying trend where engaging in certain cultural activities seems to be stigmatized up until white people partake in them, and then suddenly is cool and trendy, but that doesn’t always make it wrong for white people to do them. It’s just an annoying double standard.

      I will always be salty over the fact that I got made fun of for “smelling like curry” growing up and being told my school lunches looked “gross”, but it got de stigmatized as soon as white people wisened up to the fact that curry is, in fact delicious, and started cooking their own mediocre versions. On one hand, I’m glad it’s destigmatized – however it took to get there – and that Indian owned businesses are being patronized – but racism is annoying.

      1. Mewtwo*

        To be clear, in case I didn’t make it so in my original comment, adopting different cultural cuisines is appropriation but a benign one. The double standard is a separate issue on its own. I generally think it’s a good thing to discover other cuisines.

  7. Volunteer Burnout*

    Ever feel vindicated?

    I wrote here for advice back in May about volunteering in a group where someone was really difficult, and the lead mostly dismissed my concerns. Thankfully she respected my boundary where I refused to interact with this person, and life returned to chaotic normal.

    This past week the abrasive volunteer managed to cause enough problems with a partner (who helps the charity out in a critical way) that the partner called the lead to complain. I heard about it indirectly, and won’t plan to bring it up with the lead, but I feel VINDICATED!! The best part is that I can laugh about it today, and I’ll have mostly forgotten about it tomorrow. She isn’t worth my time or mental space.

    Thanks to all who provided advice and support. It is such a relief to be on this side of the problem!

    I would love to hear other stories of vindication, for anyone who wants to share.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You sound so much better. I am glad things changed for you.

      I had a situation where an outsider said X. I said NOT X and of course I knew what I was talking about. Leader went along with the outsider. sigh. Finally leader sat down to look things over, realized I was correct and the leader handled what needed to be handled. It took close to a month and a half for all this to play out -long ride. However, I am pleased that leader did not make me clean up the mess that followed and the leader put things back as they should be. All is well now.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      This one is kinda silly, but my immediate thought was “hah, I feel vindicated.” Mostly in a joking way.

      I really HATE having my blood pressure checked and often find it quite unpleasant and whenever I mentioned it, people were like “what? It doesn’t hurt.” Then, the last time I had it done, the nurse stared and said, “there are red marks all down your arm.” And I was just thinking, “see! It’s NOT just me making a drama over it. It actually does have some kind of affect on me that it doesn’t seem to on others.”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Dental X-rays. One reason I love my current dentist is that the first time I needed X-rays, the assistant started to put in the bite wings and said ‘Oh gosh, you’ve got bumps in your upper and lower palate that are going to make this painful. I’m so sorry.’ Apparently the lower is pretty common and the upper 10% (or maybe vice versa)?

        Every previous dental person didn’t say a word, and I wondered why this wasn’t renowned as a painful experience.

      2. Imtheone*

        I think the automatic blood pressure machines squeeze too hard, at least for some people. I find them very painful. My home machine, also automatic, is fine.

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

        Tell me about it! It generally hurts a lot for me too (sometimes less if they use a larger cuff), and thus shoots my blood pressure up, but if I say anything, they think I’m a drama llama. Now I just accept that sometimes, I’ll fail blood pressure, even taking meds.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yup, and knowing that makes me nervous when I go in because I know it’s unlikely to be accurate and I start thinking “I can’t get worried. I must be calm” and that of course, makes it more likely to go up. So what is my blood pressure? Who knows?

        2. Move it move it*

          I once had to take a blood pressure test and decided it would be a good idea to read my email while I was in the waiting room. I opened an email from my accountant saying that something a client had done would cost me over $50,000 more in taxes for the previous year. As I was reading, a health tech called my name to go in. “I think I’m going to need to redo my blood pressure test another time,” I said. (It turned out the client had made a mistake and I didn’t have to pay more taxes and, yes, my blood pressure was higher than usual on that test.)

      4. allathian*

        I’m fat, and I have cellulite on my upper arms. I absolutely refuse to have my blood pressure taken on bare skin, because although it doesn’t leave any marks, it hurts like hell. Pain gets your BP spiking like nothing else will.

    3. Macaroni Penguin*

      A decision maker decided to Change How Things Were Done
      I warned them that The Change Would Not Go Well. I believed this so strongly that I left the project.
      Now two years later, things have Seriously Not Gone Well. The decision maker is not making their goals at all. Things are running along at half capacity, maybe.
      It’s like a having a Greek comedy/tragedy play out. I’m just eating popcorn and watching the fire grow. Vindicated!

    4. Jay*

      I’m a doc. Early in my career, I was chastised and nearly fired due to a complaint by a nurse because I refused (politely) to take on someone else’s work and since she could see that I was caught up, she thought I should have done that. I subsequently moved out of state for my husband’s job. Six months later, the nurse followed the letter of a policy about messages and thus failed to prioritize a message to a cardiologist about a patient having chest pain. The cardiologist (also a woman) hit the ceiling. The nurse complained about the cardiologist’s behavior. The nurse was, um, reassigned, and I had four message that evening from different people in the group to tell me about it. Plus an apology from the chief of the department, because he was a class act.

    5. Katie*

      I applied for an internal job once that had two components. I had lots of experience in A but little in B. They turned me down with even talking to me. Hired someone who was strong in B but had none in mine. Three months later that person quit. About a year later because all the issues they were having in A they split the work into 2 (and even moved A under different management because the leaders there did so bad) and hired me. The person they have for B has to come to me a lot because they need help.

    6. KoiFeeder*

      Just this week, at the blood draw labs!

      I bring a plush toy with me as my buddy because I hate the needles, and there was a small child there who was both utterly terrified and going before me. I loaned my buddy out to them, the mom confided to me that this was the first time the child had been able to get blood drawn without biting and scratching the phlebotomist, and I feel very pleased with myself.

      People have been giving me crap about my buddy since I was in lower school, and honestly at this point in my life I probably could do this without my buddy… but why would I want to?

      1. Imtheone*

        Great thing to do! I used to have special toys for my daughter to help her through her many doctor visits and tests. I like the idea of a plushy buddy for adults too!

      2. Bluebell*

        I’m glad that the plush buddy works for you. I always have better experiences with female phlebotomists. the last two times I had a male phlebotomist, I tried to be open minded. But both times, he wasn’t that great. If he’s there next time, I plan to ask to wait.

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

        Aw, that’s so sweet that you could help the kid have a better experience!

      4. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

        I’ve several buddies. I mean, they don’t all come at once but they’re all on call :)

      5. allathian*

        Aww, that’s so sweet! I hope the kid gets their own plush toy buddy for the next time they need a blood test.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      In 2019, my company was acquired and we got a new CEO. New CEO brought in his own (GE) people. I got a new VP who, for the rest of the year,

      * barely talked to me,
      * gave me no objectives or feedback,
      * asked me only once about the work I did and why it mattered and what should my goals be,
      * ran horrible meetings (why were we meeting? what was the agenda? WHO KNOWS?),
      * told me she wasn’t my boss but didn’t tell me who my boss was, then said she guessed she was my boss, then moved me to reporting to someone I had helped hire and train (that someone had no management experience),
      * and then finally “eliminated my position” at the end of 2019.

      A few months ago, three of my friends who are still with the company and three friends who quit because of this VP (one of them didn’t even have a new job lined up) texted me excitedly to tell me that the VP HAD BEEN FIRED IN DISGRACE.

      If I ever run into her again, I will tell her that she is an awful leader (she thought she should be on the “40 Under 40” lists) who can’t even run a meeting, much less lead a team.

      1. Pentapus*

        Wow, until you mentioned the gender/age of the vp I could have sworn it was my company. I’m sorry to hear that there are other ex-GE people bringing in their cronies and wreaking havoc. My CEO was recently fired. I’m not sure it’s vindication, but it’s nice to have him gone.

    8. Elle Woods*

      I’m glad things have changed for you.

      A relative, who has never really had to deal with the consequences of their actions, ran a side hustle for a few years. They’d ghostwrite blog posts, marketing materials, email newsletters, website copy, etc. and took in more than $2K/month in income. I encouraged them very early on to report the income to the IRS as it was taxable. They didn’t do that. Eventually, they got caught and faced all kinds of trouble–huge tax bill, penalties, etc. It was nice to see there finally be consequences for their actions.

    9. merp*

      probably the most satisfying one for me was back in grad school. I had written the first draft of the final paper, and my professor had mentioned an upcoming call for papers that it would be relevant to, so I planned to submit it to that. well, she absolutely tore apart my first draft – 200-something comments, some of them outright mean and unhelpful (things like “????” or rude comments) – to the point that I cried when I tried to read through them the first few times. heard similar things from my classmates as well.

      but I wanted to publish it, so I asked her for the call for papers info. when she replied, it was this kind of snotty “well I don’t really think your paper’s up to snuff but here’s the info” – which made me mad because a) she had only seen the first draft, obviously I would be editing it, and b) the call for papers only required submitting an abstract!

      anyway, sent in the abstract, got a 96 on the final draft in the class, and got published. I always wondered if she realized she came off so negatively when as a professor, you’d think she might be invested in her students’ success… but happily I have never interacted with her again, and don’t plan to. I do kind of hope she ran across my paper when it was published, though.

      1. AGD*

        Am professor, and am cheering you on! Grad school is already brutal – we need to celebrate our students and connect them with opportunities, not discourage them. Preparing grad students for journal reviewers is one thing, but reviewers don’t have the right to be mean-spirited (or vague) either – and they don’t have the power over a given scholar that we do with any supervisee.

    10. Bluebell*

      I dragged my feet on getting my cholesterol checked when I got a new cardiologist. I knew it was fine, and managed to stretch it out for several years. When I finally had it done, the note from the cardiologist included “ your cholesterol is excellent.”

    11. Anon for this*

      Going anon for this since this is very identifying.
      My position was eliminated by an absolute dolt of a CEO who literally had his head down reading a script to tell me this. Not too long after he was fired for (very good) cause.
      It was the fasted, most epic, corporate payback I’ve ever seen.

    12. NeutralJanet*

      I like to refer to “vindicatred”, which is when you get a bad feeling about someone for no specific reason that you can identify and then they do something actually objectionable–you get to have you hatred vindicated!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Oh, that reminds me of when I worked retail and this new guy was hired and I just had a bad feeling about him. I once nearly walked out of the stockroom when I went in and he was in there too because I didn’t feel safe alone with him, though I couldn’t say why. I later found out he had been harrassing an 18 year old coworker and as he was still in his probationary period, he got fired for it.

    13. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Not me but my best friend. Worked as a manager at the biggest name brand paint store in the US. She was at the counter and her male employee was in the back mixing paint when a customer came in. He asked to speak to the guy in the back. She said he was busy at the moment and what could she help the customer with instead. He said, no thanks little lady, I’ll wait for male employee. She shrugs and guy waits 10 mins for male employee to finish. Customer asks male employee a question he can’t answer and says, “well that would be a question for my boss Jane here”. Gold.

    14. Resolutely Rach*

      Really glad to hear that, Volunteer Burnout. I had wondered how you had got on.

      I will always remember my mum’s advice when I had a flatmate within a large house-share at uni who was awful. Kept stealing my food, and being unpleasant directly (but only) to me. Sweet as pie with the others. My mum told me to wait – eventually they would forget/act up and ‘extend’ the behaviour out. And lo and behold, ..! I also felt vindicated.

    15. Observer*

      This past week the abrasive volunteer managed to cause enough problems with a partner (who helps the charity out in a critical way) that the partner called the lead to complain.

      Yeah, you can’t even *suggest* that critical partners prioritize the “feelings” of problematic people over the partner’s need, can you?

      Vindication, indeed!

  8. 529*

    What is the best way to find out accurate information about using a 529 set up in one state by a relative for use at a school in another state? The information on the website for the 529 in the state where it was set up had incorrect information on it (as in, directly contradicting what was on irs.gov as acceptable educational expenses). Thanks for any advice!

    1. California Dreamin’*

      Hmm, as far as I know, you can use the 529 money anywhere. We live in California and our kids’ 529plans are here. My oldest child went to school in New York. We just took withdrawals each year… I think they just transferred the money to our bank account and we used it for tuition. I don’t remember having them send it to the university, but if we did, the location of the school didn’t factor in. Or are you asking how the funds can be used?

    2. overeducated*

      It it a 529 investment plan or tuition prepay for a state school system? If investment it is portable. The state it’s set up in only matters as far as the state tax benefits it may offer to contributors, it can pay for school in any state. I’m not sure prepaid plans are portable at all, if that is what you have you should call the plan administrator to ask about your options.

      1. Jay*

        Right. We live in PA. My kid’s 529 was set up by my parent in NY and paid for her college in CA – no problem. State-system prepay plans are different, which is one of the reasons we didn’t do that.

    3. Esmeralda*

      We live in North Carolina, started Ohio’s 529 (at the time, better set up than NC’s), our son attended college in Illinois. Makes not a bit of difference. We found the 529 plan employees to be very helpful in figuring out what was covered. Call them up and ask.

      For instance, our son’s rent and food costs (when hd moved off campus) were covered to the amount charged by the school for room and board. We also were able to purchase supplies and a computer he needed for his current internship right before he graduated.

  9. Olive Green*

    Seeking advice, perspective, and/or encouragement (tell me your happy-ending stories!).

    I’m a woman in her mid-30s hoping to find a relationship that will eventually lead to marriage, but it’s been hard. I’m going through a breakup right now with someone I had an unusually strong connection with, and I know that colors my thinking, but it’s been a struggle for a while. Basically, it’s hard for me to find someone who I find interesting enough, whose company is enough of a joy to me, that I’d want to commit long-term… and the few times I have found that, the guy wasn’t willing or able to commit to me. (One of these was a ~5ish year relationship, we lived together, but ultimately he decided it wasn’t right.)

    I’ve had a couple 1-year relationships with guys who were fully committed to me, great boyfriends in a lot of ways, but I just didn’t enjoy their company enough to see a future together. It’s hard to describe, but an intellectual connection is really important to me, which those relationships lacked, and we also didn’t have a shared sense of humor, and they never were the person I wanted to go to for advice, to talk things over, etc., because we just couldn’t relate well enough. (And I know you can’t have everything in a partner, but I feel like these are really important aspects of partnership!)

    I do worry I’m being too picky, but having had relationships with guys who I did connect to in that way, I can’t imagine committing to something less.

    How do people figure this out?! I’ve learned a lot through trial and error, yet at the same time, I feel like I’m stumbling around, clueless, in the dark!

    1. Sheeplike but Not Sheepish*

      No advice for you, but commiseration and some hope! I could have written your post. Felt I’d never find anyone, kissed a lot of frogs, had a lot of guys who wouldn’t commit, and had a long-time intense relationship break up and break my heart. But at 35 I met my now-husband! We are still going strong 27 years later. Hang in there.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I totally agree that enjoying someone’s company, sharing humor, and respecting their judgment / character enough to ask their advice are all essential for a happy lifelong partnership! I don’t think that’s too picky at all. It sounds like the bare minimum.

      I didn’t meet my husband until I was in my 30s, and we didn’t connect romantically for a while. We got engaged about 6 months after our first date, and married about 6 months after that. Happily married for 19 years, 2 kids.

      Prior to him, I had had a few uphill-slog relationships of a year and a half to 2 years or so, and a bunch of short-term dating situations that lasted anywhere from a week to like, 3 months but never really had “legs.” Then I just decided to be single for a while. Bought a home. Made long-term plans for career, retirement, etc. Lived my life.

      I met him through an arts project, where he showed up to do a favor for a friend. That project brought me into a social circle where we kept running into each other. He was in my orbit but not on my radar, if you know what I mean.

      Eventually he asked me out, and it all started falling into place. Lots of laughing. Lots of romance. Lots of good long, deep talks.

      Neither of us are perfect, so of course there have been conflicts, but we had such a meeting of the minds and mutual understanding that we can always talk it out. I knew marriage was the right step when I realized that he made my life better in every respect, and I made his better, too. And it wasn’t a “rescue” situation. Both of our lives were just fine already, but together they were better.

      I can’t make any magical promises that there’s someone out there who is just right for you. But I absolutely believe you have the right priorities, and if I couldn’t find a relationship that met those very reasonable, sensible needs, then I would be much happier being single.

      Let me rephrase that. I *was* much happier being single than in any other relationship that didn’t meet those needs.

      Best wishes for your current and future happiness!

    3. Chris too*

      My mum was in her late 30’s, back in the late 1950’s. She was quite adventurous and loved travelling, and wasn’t particularly looking for a relationship.

      She moved into a new apartment that she was thrilled with – and then the building inspectors turned up to sign off on the new build and determined her apartment was actually illegal and she’d have to vacate immediately. She called her best friend in a panic and her friend said hey, I met a fellow who’s new to the city the other day at a church thing. I don’t think he’s got a job yet, I bet he could help us move you out today!

      They were happily married for 46 years.

      You aren’t being too fussy. Best of luck, you never know where you might meet the right person.

    4. PollyQ*

      This is the exact question that just went up on WaPo to Carolyn Hax (link to follow), which was adapted from a previous online chat. One of the reader’s responses that really struck a chord with me was “Dump early, dump often.” Speaking as someone who’s been single most of her life, but has watched many friends’ and relatives’ relationships come & go, I doubt you’re being too picky. I’ve seen many more people make compromises that it turned out they couldn’t live with.

      So, if you can hone your sense of “Nah, this guy isn’t for me” and make a decision much earlier in the relationship, I think that’ll help you sort the wheat from the chaff and quit burning so many years of your life.

      1. kiki*

        Yes! I think society puts a lot of judgment on women who don’t find a long-term partner until later in life, but the people I know who struggle the most are the ones who compromised too much and settled early. Some people luck out and meet the person they want to spend the rest of their life with early, but it really is mostly luck. Seriously, ask most happily married people how they met and it’s very rarely, “I had an organized campaign to find a man within 1 year.” So often the story is about meeting at work, being behind each other in the grocery store, having a mutual friend, etc. Keep yourself open to possibilities, don’t bog yourself down with folks you know aren’t right for you, and live a life full of love with or without a partner.

        1. Rose*

          So much judgement on women who don’t find a partner til later in life – or at all. I am now pushing 50, still single. And shockingly, MUCH happier than I was in my 30s when I was in desperate pursuit of “the one.” The person I was probably closest to marrying thankfully pulled the plug – I would have married him, despite knowing in my gut he was not right, just to be married (not that I would have admitted that to anyone, including myself, at the time). I am at the age where many, many people my age have been divorced and/or struggled in marriages – some of whom I know were like me, and got married because it was expected/the right time – not because it was the right person. So so glad to avoided that fate. I have learned I can be by myself, and be happy… at this point if I meet someone, it will just be icing on the cake, not a need.

    5. ghost_cat*

      For me – travelling together was a very strong way to work out whether we were a good match. In my opinion, travel shows a lot about a person – their interests, how informed they are but also how open they are to other ideas, how independent they like being, how they engage with others from a range of backgrounds, how they treat animals, how they cope with an unexpected change in plans, their sense of humour etc. Not that I recommend it for everyone, but we spent 7 weeks overlanding in Africa, with each night in a tent. It very much highlighted to me our strengths, our differences, what would have been deal-breakers and also, how we resolved any differences of view.

      1. overeducated*

        This is good advice. My thinking is that if you’ve had the kind of connection you’re looking for and you know enough to recognize whether it is or isn’t there, you can trust yourself to move on quickly when it isn’t instead of giving someone a lengthy chance. Trust and making someone the person you want to confide in does take time to build, but I think intellectual connection should click early.

        OP I don’t think you’re too picky. You have a standard. I think meeting the right person at the right time is heavily a matter of luck and I hope yours hits soon!

        1. Overeducated*

          This was a nesting fail, it was supposed to go under “dump early and often.” Sorry.

      2. Generic Name*

        My husband took me camping with a group of people for our 5th date. He admitted later that it absolutely was a test, and he figured if it didn’t work out the worst that would happen was a really awkward drive home in the middle of the night. Lol

    6. Anonosaurus*

      I don’t think you are being too picky. What each of us needs from a relationship is different, but like you, I can’t imagine being with someone with whom I didn’t have that intellectual rapport. Conversation and learning new things from a person and having a shared vibe of intellectual curiosity and humor are absolutely vital to me.

      Obviously no relationship is 100% but it’s really important to identify what matters to you most and what you can compromise on. I’m not sure there is any way to do this other than what you have been doing – trial and error. I do wonder if you have given some of these relationships more time than they really deserved because you doubted your own right to have preferences? If so you might consider moving Mr Wrong on on a bit sooner and honouring your preferences and needs? I may be way off base here. It’s not easy especially when someone is a good person and would tick so many boxes but just can’t offer the deep connection you really crave.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      When I met my fiance, I was following advice from a marriage counselor who in a previous life had been a matchmaker in business with his wife. His advice was basically to go on a date with 30 people, because that’s how many people their clients tended to need to meet when their standards were good. He said it could happen at number 5, 10 or 15 but only one person needed to meet more than 30 and she married no 31! There was something very soothing about this number because five bad dates feel awful unless you know you’ve not even scratched the surface of your candidate pool yet. His other advice was to dump and move on “unless they knock your socks off”. I had just gotten divorced, and my friend had a broken engagement so we both gave it a whirl and tried to go on as many dates as possible. I wish I had done online dating earlier because I felt being able to spell out my preferences before meeting really sorted out a lot of miscommunication and cleared things up before I even got up off the couch. An old university crush felt emboldened to ask her out because she was really open about getting out there and getting her 30 dates. She ended up marrying him (number 15) and he is the favourite of my friends husbands. I was made sockless by my very first date and we’re getting married next year after 9 years together.

      1. I’m not sure about this, but*

        I was getting divorced from my first husband and had this thought. I’d date 20 men and then find the one. Instead I found the one first. Together over 35 years. You just never know.

      2. Imtheone*

        My friend did something like this. She was recently divorced and was told she had to date at least X people. Number 6 was a winner, and they’ve been together longer than any of her previous relationships l

      3. Emma*

        Second this. My now husband didn’t have a great online dating profile and only made it through because I was giving everyone a chance!
        He’s not a good writer, but once we started talking on the phone/meeting in person, the connection was pretty immediate.

    8. A.N O’Nyme*

      I know several elderly ladies who are very confused about the current practice of dating already being pretty exclusive. In their day, you went on dates with multiple guys until one asked you to go steady and you accepted. And the ones who were dating during wartime basically dated multiple guys and married the one who didn’t come back in a box.

      1. A.N O’Nyme*

        (Hit submit too soon) My point is, don’t be afraid to go on multiple dates and see which one you work best with. In my opinion there’s nothing like being too picky when it comes to selecting a life partner – sure, you’ll have to make some compromises, but too many and you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think you’re dead on here. We have more freedoms nowadays but an odd one we seem to have given up is dating around. The friend and I above got a lot of strange judgement in some quarters that if we were going to be dating around, that meant disrespect to the men we’d already met, or promiscuity or whatever. We’re allowed to shop around! If you don’t: you end up “making it work” or “am I being too picky” with a guy simply because he’s nice and acceptable enough to not be outright dismissed but not up to the same standard of your bestie when it comes to fun and conversation.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Even in the 90s (so, not elderly) it was common to date several people casually, and while there were certainly plenty of 1-night-stands and casual sex going on, there was a social aspect to dating that didn’t automatically presume immediate sexual involvement as a matter of course.

        There wasn’t this pressure / perception that every connection has to be either a hookup or a friendzone on Day 1. You would just…date people until someone indicated they wanted to get serious / exclusive.

      4. Angstrom*

        That’s what my father described — if you wanted to go dancing, you asked out someone you knew who was a good dancer. If you wanted to go to a museum, you asked someone who liked art. A date was someone you’d enjoy being with for that occasion, and dating several different people was normal. Going steady was a big step.

      5. Generic Name*

        Yeah, it’s super weird that dating several people at once is seen as “slutty” but it’s also not unusual for people to expect a date to turn sexual almost from date one. Like, what? The week I met my husband I had five first dates (no, I did not sleep with any of them….). That was too many, and I resolved to never do that again. :) I went on a couple of dates with one of them and then my husband asked me on a second date and after date number two, I was hooked.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          >it’s also not unusual for people to expect a date to turn sexual almost from date one.
          Say what? Do people really expect this? What happened to the concept of getting to know each other first before intimacy (or the illusion thereof) makes everything more complicated?
          Maybe I’ll post this next week as its own question.

          1. newname*

            From what I can tell, dating apps have pretty much ruined that concept. People think that by texting back and forth a few times they are getting to know each other and can proceed straight to sex from there.

          2. Generic Name*

            Yeah, maybe I should have clarified that it seems to be an expectation when one is online dating. I had dates with men who seemed to think that meeting on a site that “matched you” meant you basically skipped the “getting to know you” stage of dating, or else they would “interrogate by text” even before a first meeting and ask inappropriately personal questions. I think this doesn’t happen too much when meeting people in real life, but online dating is what I’ve done most recently.

          3. RagingADHD*

            Online dating and hookup culture have made the dating scene very weird and stressful for The Youngs. Every time I read anything by later millennials and Gen Z about dating – even when they’re content with it – I get so worried for them. It’s this strange combination of superficiality and instant intensity.

            At least back in the day, someone who was picking up a stranger for casual sex knew that this was an entirely different activity with different criteria and goals than looking for a relationship partner. Sometimes it did lead to a relationship, but not very likely.

            Now the expectations of those two things are merged together, and nobody seems to be happy with it.

      6. allathian*

        Yeah this. That said, casual dating is not for everyone, it certainly isn’t for me. I need to see if things are going anywhere with one person before I can express any interest in anyone else.

        I met my husband when I was 33, my best friend’s husband’s coworker was my husband’s friend. Both of us were the perpetual singles in our respective friend groups, and neither was into casual dating. We exchanged a few emails with photos, then a text and a call or two, and then we went on a date. By the end of that date both of us knew that we wanted to see each other again. We were exclusive from the start by default, because neither was going on dates with anyone else at the time. He was working in another city at the time, and it was two weeks before we went on another date, and by the end of that I we were serious about the relationship. We texted every morning and talked on the phone almost every day, and by the time we’d been dating for six months I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. About 3.5 years after we met he got a transfer to our current hometown and we moved in together. A few months later we started trying, I got pregnant pretty quickly, and we got married when I was 8 months pregnant.

        My husband’s not only my intimate partner, but he’s also my best friend and confidant. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I lost him, because after knowing the kind of mental and physical intimacy that I have with my husband, I don’t think I could settle for anything less. My husband and I have been together for nearly 17 years, married for 13.

        Before I met him, I didn’t have a lot of dating experience, just one serious relationship when I was in my early 20s, a few casual dates that never went anywhere and a few FWBs that always ended badly because either I or the guy wanted more than the other person was willing to give.

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I didn’t meet Mr Arcati until I was 35 – we’ve now been together ten years and he has always treated me well and made me happy. Despite the name I’ve used we aren’t married and I’m maybe a bit :-/ about that if I’m honest but these things don’t always work out how you plan. I want to be with him more than I want the formalities of marriage. So my first tip would be, don’t get stressed about society’s plans or rules or expectations – what matters is, are you happy and is he/she?
      My second tip would be, there is no shame in trying to find someone. Certainly when I was dating (I had a couple of stints of internet dating and was never closed off to the concept of a relationship (do NOT get me started about people talking about women “choosing a career” over a relationship) I heard a lot of guff about, oh you’ll find someone when you stop trying, just let it happen, one day you’ll realise they’re were there all along, I married someone I was friends with for years, blah blah”. Yes this does work for some. But not for everyone – all my male friends were in relationships or really genuinely not for me, and anyway how is the Universe supposed to know I’ve stopped trying?! Where do I fill a form in to register my intent to Let It Happen, whereby Mr Right falls out of the sky?! If you wanted a (new) job or a promotion, nobody would judge you for working hard to achieve that. If you wanted to sell your hand-felted cat-fur jewellery on Etsy, everyone would understand you practising your craft, photographing your wares, trying to create a buzz on Instagram.
      So if you would like to be ina relationship then I say go forth and do whatever works for you to meet new people and engage with the ones that interest you. That might be internet dating, going out more with friends, joining societies or classes or online groups, chatting people up in bars, whatever. But to me the idea that the only way is to sit there passively and wait to be in the ending of a chick lit novel, is unhelpful.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, definitely. I think that the “if you stop trying, it’ll happen” leaves a crucial thing out. It should be “keep trying, but don’t try so hard, and it’ll be more likely to happen.” People who are really keen to find a relationship almost always give off an aura of desperation that tends to scare otherwise interested people off. People want to choose and be chosen, not to be just “any port in a storm” for someone else.

    10. Flooch*

      From what you’ve said I don’t think you’re being too picky – but perhaps you’re meeting too many of the wrong type of person if that makes sense? If the same gaps are repeating themselves I mean. The gaps you’ve mentioned also strike me as ones that would become evident pretty early on, in which case there’s no need to spend 12+ months figuring things out! I’m still looking for my person but I’m confident he’s out there!

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I think WHERE you are meeting men could be part meeting the wrong type of person for you.

        I’m married 32 years and while we are not 100% perfectly compatible, our core values are almost the same and I think that allows us to respect each other and our differences. Date enough to recognize your core values.

        And think about where to meet men who might share those values. I have a friend who only meets men in bars and then is surprised they are party guys. She does like to party but it’s not the most important core value for her. She refuses to try online dating, though all her friends do, so she keeps meeting men who don’t share her real interests and is unhappy.

        I’m not saying you cannot meet great guys in a bar, just that where you are meeting them might matter if you are not finding men you are looking for.

        And I’m really curious where women are meeting men right now, especially with the impact of COVID.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I am also among those who think you are not too picky. I think you are on track.

      I had no plan on getting married. I met my husband when I was 19. We married when I was 23. And he passed just before my 46 birthday. That was years ago. I am happy on my own. It’s funny how stories just turn all kinds of corners and go in different directions. I would not have predicted ANY of this- from getting married to current time being content on my own.

      Keep insisting on having a life while you look for a partner. Fill up your days, round out your experiences. That’s what I was doing when I met my husband, I was just filling up my life. What is good about this is that it becomes a life habit. Because marriage is not a destination, marriage is a journey. Once you find your other half, the journey continues but now you just have someone else with you, that is all. The life journey never stops.

    12. Strong Aroace Vibes*

      I’m in a similar situation so I don’t have advice, just commiseration. People who have been a match in the sort of connection you describe have universally been unable or uninterested to form a partnership; stable relationships have generally felt less-inspiring on this dimension. Knowing that reality, it’s difficult to parse what’s “good enough” for a partnership, especially since most relationships are average and one can’t wait around for perfect. And especially since so many married people (mostly women) DO seem to be in healthy, positive relationships navigating daily life and family, yet also do have a collection of friends (again, mostly women) who offer more of the sort of intellectual and/or emotional dimension you describe.

      How do people figure out which dimensions they’d like met by their friends vs. their partner?

      I don’t mean to derail your question, if this isn’t something you’re also thinking about, but I would appreciate hearing others’ perspective on this one in a sub-thread.

      1. allathian*

        I have a few very good friends that I’ve known since middle school, high school, or college. I got lucky in that I didn’t have to relocate to go to college, and in that I stayed in the same city after graduation, and in that most of my friends have done the same thing. A few have moved elsewhere, but whenever I see them, we pretty much pick up where we left off, there’s no awkward “getting to know the new you” period. Earlier this summer I met a friend I hadn’t seen since 2018 or thereabouts, and we just talked about what had happened in the years since our last meeting, and started planning the next one for next summer.

        I’m an introvert, and the older I get, the less social I seem to have become. I have one best girlfriend who I can talk about the things women share that men can’t really be expected to understand because it’s not their lived-in experience, and about a handful of other friends who’re wonderful people whose company I enjoy, but our topics of conversation tend to be a bit more superficial. I’m not really interested in maintaining a huge network of casual friends or acquaintances. I did have more friends when I was in college and early in my career (and crucially when I was single), but many of the more casual ones have disappeared through a mutual lack of interest in keeping the friendship going. I’m also not on social media, so even if I were interested in reconnecting with someone I knew 25+ years ago, they wouldn’t be able to find me so it’d have to be by chance.

        Like I posted elsewhere on this thread, my husband is my intimate partner, best friend, and confidant. Luckily for me, he also has friends, so I don’t have to try and meet all of his social needs. He’s also quite introverted, but I think less so than I am. Or else he’s just in better physical shape, so he isn’t as completely drained by social stuff as I am.

    13. Cookie*

      One of my good friends, well into her late 30s, met Mr. Right at a political protest group. They didn’t hit it off immediately but sort of vaguely knew each other. Subsequent events meant they subsequently met again. Eventually they started dating and moved in together.

      Find an activity you love, that you would love to do even if you did not meet Mr. Right. Enjoy that thing. Like-minded people who also truly enjoy that thing will be there.

      I’m happy now (much later in life after a long marriage and divorce) just hanging out on weekend evenings with Mr. Right Now, but if I wanted a go-round at getting serious or marrying again, I’d get out for group activities and meet a lot of people. For me it would be book clubs, hiking groups, travel enthusiasts, cooking classes. And I would be going for the fun/interest, not just looking for guys.

    14. mreasy*

      I was worried, when I was single and dating, that I was being “too picky.” But people who seem great on paper – or even are great to hang out with – aren’t necessarily a person you will fall in love with and want to spend your life together! Remember when the wise Cher Horowitz’s words: I’m really picky about my shoes, and they only go on my feet. But seriously – being committed to someone (especially with a kid involved) you don’t feel connected with is lonelier than actually being alone. My husband was a coworker I met a few years after a six-year long relationship ended just when I was about to turn 30. I had never felt so confident about being with someone forever than I did (and do) with him. There is hope, don’t let the media freak you out about fertility or men only wanting younger women! Good luck out there.

    15. Westsidestory*

      Well, you have plenty of time….I married for the first time at age 59!

      Before that, one long term relationship that didn’t work out, followed by the kind of duds that just fizzled for various reasons.

      What changed my mindset was 1) deciding I was my own best company and 2) joining sports groups that tend to attract healthy people (think skiing, hiking, kayaking, baseball) and most importantly, 3) accepting all first dates and then dating more than one person at a time.

      People are attracted to happy healthy people, and it definitely pays to comparison shop! One memorable weekend I had three dates. Friday was with a hiking acquaintance (definite no second dates) Saturday went to a concert with a ski group member (several more dates as we had many mutual interests) and Sunday brunch with a random cutie who asked for my number at a birthday party that was held in a karaoke bar. (Happily married 8 years now).

      Moral to the story: be careful out there, but be out there. You are not picky. You get to choose. Multiple options tend to yield a good voice.

    16. Beethoven, nooooo!*

      You’ve got some good advice here but just want to add, as someone who is very much in the same boat, once thing that helps me is to acknowledge the extraordinary social forces that are swirling around these things in our current times. It’s almost like when there were tons of single women after WW2 because so many young men had died in the war – so it didn’t necessarily reflect on those women’s particular charms or aspirations, but that was just the cultural context of their era. In our era, women are encouraged to work and build their own career and security, so we don’t “need” to form the almost business-like relationships of past eras, where most reasonable women truly needed to marry relatively early the best prospect they could find at the time – marriages are now “companionate.” But we also haven’t shaken off enough cultural baggage that our newly empowered selves can really serve our own best interest – we still have strong gender roles and ideals in all of our heads. I mean, there’s still a lot of pushback on stay-at-home-fathers, marrying younger men, marrying men who didn’t go to college or don’t have career prospects, etc etc etc. In white middle class American culture at least, most professional women are still taught to aspire to even more professional men – so if the woman is a doctor, she “should” marry a surgeon or a very high powered lawyer. Also, even if she is a doctor, the bulk of the child raising and housekeeping is still assigned to her to manage one way or another. We haven’t worked out all the kinks yet. That’s why I couldn’t reconcile it all and ultimately stayed single.

      TLDR: I was encouraged to spend a lot of effort and time building myself up to a comfortable middle age, but was also supposed to give it all up at some point and be subordinate to a marriage and family (if not specifically a man) – couldn’t quite circle that square, am now single and reasonably content, what are you going to do, culture is weird.

    17. Texan In Exile*

      I met my (engaging, never boring, intellectually connected) husband at our 20 year college reunion. That seems to be the year that people start recycling spouses. :)

      And a college friend who, after 20 years of marriage, divorced the man she married our junior year, dated some lovely men in the years following and just last year, in our 50s, re-married a wonderful guy.

      They are out there!

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

      This isn’t the traditional happy ending, but I’ve eventually made my peace with not having a romantic partner. I guess it’s a happy-enough ending? I keep in close touch with those exes of mine who are nice (I still talk to one every day) and have other people I check in with daily. It’s not the same as having someone to rub your feet or change a light bulb or help you move something heavy, but it’s okay. Whenever I read about awful relationships (like on reddit’s AITA sub), I remember that being in a bad relationship is definitely worse than being alone!

    19. Anon happy story*

      I know someone who was single at 40 and signed up to do medical work at a hospital in Haiti . . . where she met this lovely Haitian doctor whom she married. They had two kids and lived happily ever after. You never know when you’ll just be living your life and find a great match.

    20. Inner beauty*

      I was in my 30s when I met my wife, in her 40s. And we’d each had unsuccessful 10+ year relationships prior to meeting (through online dating). We love each other deeply and are best friends, too.

      But that’s not to say that there was/is no compromise. I think, with my wife, I realized (and decided to accept) that no person is perfect, but this person’s imperfections are reasonable, I can live with, and aren’t really deal breakers. For example, I’ve usually been attracted to a certain physical type, which my wife is definitely not. However, I realized/ decided/ accepted that that didn’t matter to me, really. I had to grow, myself, to look beyond things that *had* been likely deal breakers, to see the inner beauty of my wife and the possibilities of a relationship together.

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

      Definitely don’t settle, it’s not worth it!

      Not sure if you, like me, had been socialized to wait and be asked out, but for me I realized in my mid-30s that I just didn’t like dating the kind of people who came on real hard to me. Literally 2 days after resolving not to date those people anymore, I got up my courage and asked out someone I met just out walking in my neighborhood, who seemed nice and friendly but in a not-pushy kinda way… And we’ve been together 6 years now, which is (for me) an absolute eternity.

    22. Generic Name*

      You are not being too picky. The goal is to find a man who enhances your life/you enjoy being around etc. it’s not to choose the “most acceptable/least objectionable” man from the pool of existing dudes. You might not find someone you want to commit to, and that’s okay! At least that’s the mindset I had when I started dating after I divorced in my late 30s.

      I think the advice to dump early and often is solid, especially if you are marriage minded, but also because why waste time with guys you aren’t totally into?

      As far as intellectual connection goes, it might help to broaden your criteria for suitable matches, as contrary as it sounds. I have a professional job and a masters degree, and if I only dated men who have the same background as me, I would not have met my husband. He did not go to college, but he is every bit my intellectual equal. He can keep up with me on basically any topic, and he deeply respects my expertise in my discipline. College is so expensive that for many people it is out of reach financially and not because they lack the intelligence to be accepted.

      For the happy ending story, I met a man online and married him just before I turned 40. :)

    23. Olive Green*

      Thank you everyone for all these really insightful, thoughtful, and encouraging comments. I really appreciate it!

      I think the “dump early, dump often” advice is spot on. I actually feel really optimistic when I think about it from that angle, whereas trying to convince myself to settle just makes me miserable. I did do online dating for the first time recently, and I think it helps a lot to be able to compare options–I definitely met several “nice enough” guys I would have settled for previously, but this time I was able to say no, I can find a better fit. And I did! So I’ll go back to the apps when I’m ready, this time in hopes of finding that great connection with someone who’s able to commit.

    24. Ann Ominous*

      “I do worry I’m being too picky, but…”

      Why settle for a relationship that isn’t that deep connection? What would that accomplish?

      You’d spend your entire marriage looking for that bond…you’d essentially be in the same position you are now, except more lonely, because you’re ‘supposed to’ be happy now that you’re married, and more complicated, because of there being another entire person involved (and all kinds of laws and property and taxes and kids and decisions such).

      Allow your loneliness in, feel it fully, don’t reject it or run from it, or numb it.

      My happy ending story: after an abusive 15-year marriage and a long-term failed engagement, I found lasting love (in middle age).

      Stay true to you. No matter what else, stay true to yourself.

    25. Bibliovore*

      Not sure this helps but thank you for asking.
      I was 61 and my husband (71) died on May 16, 2021, suddenly between 4 and 6 am. We were together since 1985, married in 1987.

      True story:

      I was working in a bookstore.
      I was at the front register.
      A man walked in and said. “I am the Viking Penguin rep.”
      And I said “Wow, just last night I read a Puffin book about the Cattle Raid of Cooley, that was so amazing
      (because I thought the Penguin rep read all the Penguin books)
      I babbled a bit.

      He looked at his watch and said he had a 1:00 appointment with the Lou Ann, (the buyer.)
      I asked, do you know the way?
      And he said yes
      and started up a short fight of stairs to the next level of the store.
      Here is the weird part.
      As I looked up at his back, I thought, I’m never going to see him again,
      and felt sad.

      I picked up the receiver on store phone and called the buyer (who was a good friend)
      and said the Penguin rep is here and going up to the office.
      She said “ that nice Paul Von Drasek?”
      Shocking myself, I said
      “ Tell everyone that we are hanging at my apt. tonight and invite the Penguin rep. “
      About 4 people.

      By 7, everyone had cancelled,
      this one had a migraine ,
      that one’s boyfriend came in from out of town.
      I called the Penguin rep at his Holiday Inn on Locust street
      and said he couldn’t come over to my apartment because I didn’t know him well enough.
      (he could have been an ax murderer)
      Him “ Have you had dinner yet?”
      I said no.
      Him “ Do you want to?”
      I said yes.
      That was our first date.

      He woo’d me with free- and-review copies and galleys.

      Two years later on our wedding day, I found out that he expensed our first date.

      So when people asked, How did this work?

      What I know-
      I was extremely shy 25 year old who could count the number of guys that I had dated on one hand.
      This was extremely out- of-character for me.
      We didn’t have a lot in common except loving books and book people .
      He was adventurous,
      I was not.
      He liked to see where the road went,
      I wanted to have a plan.
      He liked surprises; I dreaded them.
      He wanted an “anything- can -happen” day;
      I wanted a stay-home-and-read day.
      I love speculative fiction,
      children’s books,
      young adult books,
      and the occasional Michael Connelly;

      He read
      poetry,
      literary fiction,
      and independent presses.

      I watched Freeform,
      If he had his way the tv would be on all the time on CNN or MSNBC.
      True fact.
      We made each other laugh.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Bibliovore, this is a lovely story! How wonderful that you and Mr. Bibliovore met (in this unusual way!) and spent 36 happy years together. I’m not discounting the sadness of his sudden death. But the one doesn’t cancel out the other. Thank you for sharing this small piece of your personal history.

    26. kiki*

      A piece of advice I heard that has served me well is once you’re exclusive, don’t hold back asking them to take on challenges with you. Don’t make up silly tests or anything like that, but it’s okay to expect things of somebody you’re exclusively dating. A lot of people, especially women, are told not to “scare men off” too early in the relationship– for a couple dates, that makes sense, but now “too early” can mean 6 months to a year. It’s better to take on challenges together and realize you’re not going to work out than to ask nothing of somebody you’re dating and find out a year later than they’re not equipped to be the kind of partner you need. Look for dealbreakers early. Go on trips, put yourselves into new situations, ask for help with the hard parts of life. As PollyQ said above, dump early, dump often.

  10. A.N O’Nyme*

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

    Still not much for me this week other than some light editing.

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      Would it be super embarrassing if I discussed my fanfic? Well, I’m going to anyway!

      I’m fifty pages into a The Great Ace Attorney fanfic which has stagnated because I need a refresher on the structure of a trial before I continue. Unfortunately, TGAA isn’t terribly re-playable. It’s basically an occasionally interactive novel.

      In the meantime, I started working on a Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild historical fanfic about Maz Koshia and the other enshrined Sheikah monks, and will hopefully explain why dude has a motorcycle. I started writing and it immediately went sideways off my very roughly sketched out character plans, which is delightful.

      In non-fanfic news, I’ve been working on something that can be described as YA-ish fantasy, plotline like— What if Cinderella only went to the ball to case the joint, because Robin Hood is her half-brother? You won’t believe what happens next! But that seems like such an obvious idea, I’d be very surprised if it’s not been done, and am purposefully not checking either way. It’s been fun to build a fantasy setting that’s the best of what we could be, but aren’t yet: no social stigma around different sexual orientations, for example, and no power imbalance around the genders. My current world building goal? Come up with completely gender neutral substitutions for royal titles.

      1. Cendol*

        Love the Cinderella idea, and Robin Hood makes everything better! What are some of the gender neutral royal titles you’ve come up with so far? I’m getting stuck on “sovereign,” which is embarrassing for me, a nonbinary person. I also like the idea of titles that *aren’t* neutral but don’t depend on the gender of the said royal, e.g., King Marian, Queen Richard.

        1. Melanie Cavill*

          I’ve been using Dynast as a substitution for King/Queen! For all children of the Dynast, I’m using Prince regardless of gender. That last one doesn’t thrill me, as it’s still very much a gendered term in English, but I can live with it.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Roughly half of all my ongoing projects (if not more) at any given time are fanfic, so go for it! I’ll make sure to specifically add a note about it in future threads, because this is the second time in a pretty short while that I have seen people ask if it’s okay to talk about fanfic. Writing = writing.

    2. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      Horrible. Nonexistent. My loving spouse purchased me an 8-week writing course, which I excitedly started in mid-February and am still dead-ended halfway through week 4. I just can’t find the emotional energy to push through.

      1. KristinaL*

        I don’t want to push you if that’s not what you need right now, but if it helps, when I’ve felt stuck and like everything I write seems wrong and not good enough, I’ve found that embracing the “not good enough” feeling and just going for it seems to help. I write it even when it seems badly written and clunky, and then I can edit it later and maybe make it better. It seems like getting it on paper (or on my laptop screen) really helps me.

      2. RagingADHD*

        When I get stuck like that, it’s usually because either

        a) the thing I feel like I’m supposed to write isn’t the thing my creative mind actually wants to write, or
        b) there is some question, detail, or problem that I need to solve/find out so that I can fully imagine the thing that wants to be written.

        Sitting with myself and asking questions often helps uncover the issue. Sometimes I need to put aside the thing I was working on and do something completely different.

    3. Maryn*

      For once, my writing is going well. It’s been my escape from July’s Too Much Everything (birthdays, guests, anniversary, health concerns, COVID exposure), putting book four of a four-book series past the half-way mark. Finally.

    4. Cendol*

      The well has run dry! Thanks largely in part to receiving an ADHD diagnosis and medication, I was able to hit a ton of deadlines in July, but I definitely pushed myself a little too hard. My goals for August are to finish just two stories, one of them a fanfic. The going is *very* slow. I’m doing a lot of thinking, outlining, and daydreaming; not a lot of actual words on the page yet. But after last month’s sprint, I’m grateful for the time I have to just sit around and “vibe” with each story, haha.

      (I have a lot of hope for the stories I sent out in July. So far, four of them are being held for further consideration—fingers crossed!)

    5. Bunny Girl*

      Haha Ugh. So I am aiming for 45k works in my novel and I’m just shy of 20k, so just about right at the half way mark! But I have had to do so much writing for school that it’s fallen a bit on the wayside. But I have a week off as I switch employers so I am hoping to sit down and bang off a few lines.

  11. A.N O’Nyme*

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

    I’m still on Age of Empires 2, almost done with the Saladin campaign.

    1. curly sue*

      We picked up the Companion Collection and just finished the main storyline playthrough for both Portal games. And now we’re bereft! Other than co-op mode and achievements, anyway. Are there any other puzzle games anyone can recommend – ideally available for the Switch – with a similar vibe? (We also loved Obra Dinn, so games like that are excellent recs as well.)

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        If you liked Portal, maybe you’ll enjoy Death Squared. To me it has a similar vibe to the Portal 2 co-op campaign, and when a puzzle finally clicks it feels amazing. Snipperclips is also fun and very charming, and some puzzles can be surprisingly hard!

    2. SparklingBlue*

      Was very excited for the new Pokemon Scarlet and Violet trailer this week, and Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent continues to impress.

    3. DarthVelma*

      One of the members of my old Fortnite squad joined us in ARK this week. That’s been fun. I think we’re taking him to try his first boss fight later this weekend.

    4. Girasol*

      Yesterday Rick Tq pointed to madgeniusclub.com, a good blog about self publishing, and I am feeling encouraged. The book I’m working on is for a niche audience so it’s unlikely to be of interest to a publisher, especially since it’s a writer’s first book, but I do want to get it out there.

    5. anon24*

      SkyrimVR. I’ve been playing VR for about 2 years and always passed on SkyrimVR because I’ve heard it’s very buggy and needed a lot of modding to be a good playable game. A co-worker convinced me to buy it (“but it’s dragons! In VR!”) and I tried it and found that due to the bugs it was fun but not something I wanted to spend any amount of time playing (I also had an initial bug that was fixable but which caused my screen to spin violently and gave me motion sickness so bad I won’t share the gruesome details).

      I’ve recently had time to research, download, and install mods. (If anyone is interested, I picked the Ultimate VR Experience on Wabbajack, highly recommend, I know almost nothing about modding and it walks you right through it plus a discord group for help).

      It is AMAZING modded. I spent like 20 minutes yesterday just standing outside Whiterun staring at the night sky and watching the deer run around. I feel like I am in heaven. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and of course it’s not even real. Still some bugs and crashes occasionally, but definitely my new favorite VR game.

    6. Henry Division*

      My partner and I were looking for something somewhat mindless to play, so we played through all of Donut County in a few hours. It’s like reverse – Katamari? Colorful and silly. My co-worker’s kid also loves it.

    7. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I have no shame in admitting I’m back at ACNH building a new island. It’s helping me get over a breakup. Anyone want to be friends? :-)

      1. Nessun*

        Just got back into ACNH myself…hadn’t picked it up in years and wow my island had gone to rack(?) and ruin. Now I want to change almost of it – but I’m not burning it, so instead its a really long process of moving stuff around. Anyone who has advice on how to get a vampire squid…that thing is hiding from me! (Yeah, I’ve got the requisite numbers, time, and date)

    8. Kara Danvers*

      Got Fall Guys working on my Switch! Been playing that again. The computer I was using for gaming is super old and not worth dealing with anymore, so it’s nice to have everything running on my Switch now (except for Among Us, which I can play on my Mac).

      I’m not a hardcore gamer, obviously :P

    9. Jackalope*

      Still working my way through The Forgotten City. I’m stuck at the moment and not sure what I should do next. I suspect that I need to start a new time loop and see if that helps. But I’m hopeful that someday I’ll finish!

      1. anon24*

        I just played through that this week! So interesting. I went from “oh, this is cute, can definitely tell it used to be a mod someone made”, to “OH SHIT RUN!!!!” very quickly :)

  12. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

    Thank you to whoever it was (sorry!) in last weeks thread who recommended The Books of Ambha by Tasha Suri – I’m two thirds of the way through the second one and really enjoying them!

    Any recommendations on a similar theme?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not to your theme, but a similar thank you – last weekend or maybe the one before someone recommended the Lunar Chronicles by Marisa Meyer – thank you, I plowed through the entire series today. (Username checks out.)

  13. Aphrodite*

    What is the best or most unusual thing you cook in your microwave?

    For me, I tried corn on the cob a few days ago for the first time. I had read about it a year or two ago but didn’t try it (thinking “how well can it really work?”) Well, it turned out to work REALLY well. I have a small, less powerful one so I put it in for four minutes–and it was perfection with no pots or a steamer to wash. Just heat, peel and eat. I love this!

      1. Random Biter*

        This one really made me laugh. I used to get notifications from a rather snooty recipe share group. During one “send us your great chocolate recipes!” I decided I was sending in the chocolate mug cake They published it! Of course it was with a rather condescending “and this one was submitted by Random Biter! Boy, is she low rent!” kind of remark but hey, I was published in the snooty recipe group! :))

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Edamame. I found a store selling freezer bags of peeled edamame , and I cook off one bowl at a time for a high protein lunch. (Try them over brown rice with sesame ginger salad dressing or rice wine vinegar.)

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I do most fresh vegetables in the microwave instead of messing around with the steamer. It takes only a few seconds to get perfect asparagus and mangetout.

    3. KatEnigma*

      I have stopped making corn on the cob by any other method! I read about it a year or so ago too, tried it and was amazed! So much better than the huge boiling pot of water (especially now that I live in Texas) and more consistently and evenly cooked than on the grill/smoker.

      I have a microwave recipe for hamburger stroganoff that I make and also a recipe my mom found in the 80’s that’s country sausage and vegetables (carrot/celery/onion but now I add mushrooms) that you then mix into rice.

      My son’s (5) love of hard boiled eggs far surpasses my enthusiasm to make them, so we also tried a microwave “as seen on tv” microwave egg boiler, and it works.

      1. Egg in microwave*

        Would love to know more about this microwave egg boiler! How long does it take? Can you provide a name or link?

        1. KatEnigma*

          It takes 10 minutes cooking plus 2 to carry over- then into ice bath or eat it warm.

          The one I see in ads on TV has handles and a clip that holds it together. The one I got on Amazon is missing both those features- and an exploding egg has twice made the lid go askew, so I recommend that feature! Just go to Amazon “microwave egg cooker” and it looks like a giant egg- I have the Nordic Ware version. Get the egg pod!

    4. fposte*

      My most unusual are probably quick and dirty caramel (a little honey and butter in a silicon cup, cooked until things look to be coloring up) and a cheaty cheese fritto (thin slices of cheese on a plate, cooked until they bubble; let cool at least until it won’t fry your mouth off and possibly until crispy).

    5. Liminality (It's Quarantime, Again...)*

      Mug Omlettes
      Crack eggs into mug and scramble. (I usually do two.)
      Add “toppings” that are cooked with the eggs, e.g. ham, sausage, peppers, onions, etc… whatever you like on your eggs.
      Microwave on full power about two minutes, stir, return to microwave for 15-30ish seconds at a time, stirring between to make scrambled egg size chunks.
      When fully cooked, add additional toppings. e.g. cheese, tomato, avocado, sour cream, etc…

      1. Girasol*

        Me too on mug omelettes. Also mug bread pudding, which makes a nice quick breakfast out of the ends of bread loaves. (Bread cubes, milk, egg, sugar or honey or maple syrup, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla.)

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        You can also add frozen veggies that are small enough (I used to use a peas/carrots/corn mix) to the egg mixture straight from the bag without needing to defrost or cook them first. This was one of my go-to quick dinners for a while, since eggs keep long enough that I always had them around, and frozen veggies stay good indefinitely.

      3. Nack*

        This reminds me of one of the first cooked breakfasts I learned to make. Same concept but in a microwaveable bowl. Makes it the perfect size/shape for a an egg sandwich (on toast or bagel) with a slice of cheese or other toppings ga of choice!

      4. Trawna*

        I do my Sunday breakfast eggs this way, too. Really good. Salmon also works really well — it poaches perfectly.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      One time I was out of town on a six week gig, staying in a hotel with a microwave and a mini fridge. I think the fanciest thing I made in it was a lasagna. It didn’t have the browned, burnt cheese top that I liked, but it was perfectly fine.
      We don’t currently have a microwave and I miss the ease of corn and mug cake and baked potatoes.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I have become a convert to microwaved corn on the cob, after what I acknowledge as far too long as a snobby holdout. The steam completely loosens the silk, where peeling it off was such a pain for making grilled corn.

      I recently made beets this way (peeled and diced raw yellow beets, covered in plastic wrap, and microwaved for a few minutes) and it was way better than boiling for a long time–concentrated flavor better, more akin to roasting but you don’t have the oven on at high heat for 90 minutes in the summer. (I use yellow beets to reduce the abattoir effect.)

    8. Generic Name*

      I’ve made potato chips in the microwave. It’s a great way to eat an entire potato standing up at the kitchen counter. ;) basically you put spray oil on a plate and you put a single layer of thinly sliced raw potato on it. I don’t remember the cooking time or level, but I found the recipe online. They are surprisingly amazing.

    9. anonagaintoday*

      I’ve never tried corn in the cob in the microwave, but it made me think of that video I saw yesterday about the boy who loves corn and it was just the sweetest thing ever!
      twitter – /capetownbrown/status/1555366629852192769

    10. bratschegirl*

      Butternut or similar winter squash, cut in half and seeded, then placed cut side down in 1/4” of water in a Pyrex type dish and covered with cling wrap. Time depends on the size of the squash, but for a medium size butternut with a substantial neck I usually do 12 to 14 minutes. Then scoop out the pulp and mash with butter and salt.

      Corn on the cob works great in the microwave, although my preferred method for it these days is the instant pot.

    11. I take tea*

      Corn of the cob is not really a thing where I live, but sometimes you can find them. I had read about the microvawe cooking here and tried it – so easy!

      We cook whole sweet potato in the microvawe. Wash it, cut the skin around it as if you were slicing it in quarters. Cook on one side for about six minutes, flip, cook another six minutes. Repeat of neccessary. So easy.

  14. The Prettiest Curse*

    I realised this week that quite a few of the commenters here have usernames that might need some explanation, either because they’re pop culture references or because they refer to obscure AAM lore. And I realised that this also applies to my username, which is the title of a 2020 album by the great all-female Spanish rock band Hinds. (I’ll post a link to the song which features my username in a reply.)

    I always find it fascinating to hear about why people choose usernames – so tell me about the origin of your AAM username, even if it’s not a pop culture reference!

      1. Katiekins*

        I didn’t get the reference until I heard of dark academia (I think from Jen Ryland’s blog), and when I saw your name the next time, I thought, oooh, well played.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I sometimes think mine is misleading because I am not generally prone to rage. It refers to the fact that I have a raging case of ADHD.

      So does the protagonist of my book series, and I wrote him that way before I was diagnosed, so that turned out to be ironic.

        1. allathian*

          Same. Your posts are always well written and definitely not ragey. I’m pretty NT myself, and I’m grateful to you and other ND posters for being so open about your lives.

    2. Weegie*

      Mine references the place I’m originally from: anyone else who’s from (or near) it will immediately know which city it is :-)

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Hello from the other side :D

        (This is just from a random name generator, but it made me think of Landward!)

      2. Nack*

        I used to live in that city and this post made me extremely happy (and a little homesick for it!)

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      My user name is the name of my blog featuring my musings on multiple topics as well as my nature photography. I’m not tuned in to pop culture so I miss most of those references here.

      Being a word person, I enjoy clever user names. As an example, I miss seeing the user name of the person who used to post here as the Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist.

    4. Taking the long way round*

      Mine’s from a Dixie Chicks song, and kind of describes my life up to now as an emotional late developer.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        I use other names on here depending on what commentary I make.
        I have a name I use just for health discussions, and I have a different name (my actual name) if I want to link to my social media for whatever reason (so I rarely use that one).

      2. Taking the long way round*

        Sorry, I should point out that that is their old name. They go by The Chicks now

    5. A.N O’Nyme*

      Most of the time the pop culture references don’t bother me because they don’t add anything to the story (and sometimes they’re even used for people whose personality is the opposite from the character whose name is being used) – they’re more of a fun easter egg than anything else. Notable exception being the Demigorgon – Vecna reference earlier, as I never finished season 1 of Stranger Things and am not that into D&D.

      As for my name, it’s a reference to And Then There Were None, specifically a Dutch translation where the killer signs a letter as A.N O’Nyme, which is pronounced similar to “anoniem”, the Dutch word for anonymous. Another common translation for that name is N.I. Manth, which is pronounced similar to “niemand”, the Dutch word for nobody.

      1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

        I saw And Then There Were None about 15 years ago and it still keeps me up at night sometimes. I can picture the judge in the last scene SO vividly.

        Mine is Judi Dench’s character in As Time Goes By.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I started posting as just Red Reader because I have Merida hair and read voraciously. Then someone asked for an adulting fairy to encourage them to do the thing, I added that part as a silly and never took it off.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Around the time I started reading ask a manager I had realized I had no play left in me. Even my hobbies had become chores. That was something I really wanted to work on because whimsy & music & art were a big part of my earlier life. I’m still a work in progress…. but I’m reminded every time I comment here.

    8. Mornington Cresent*

      I don’t comment much, but mine is the name of a tube station on the London Underground, on the Northern line. It’s also the name of a nonsense game played on Radio 4, where the rules only make sense if you’re playing. I think it’s a pretty name, but I also like the underlying chaos.

      I was going to use “Rainy” as my username, but someone else got there first!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I wish more commentets chose tube (or othee transit system) stations as their usernames!

    9. Madame Arcati*

      Mine is the name of a character in a Noel Coward play. When I was a t university twenty-mumble years ago, so one said to me if they were casting that play they’d cast me as this character. I did not see or read said play until a few years ago (when the character was played by Jennifer Saunders, fwiw) and whilst even now I’m not as old as the character I can see certain resemblances if only being somewhat flamboyant/eccentric in dress and in manner, and being partial to a dry martini… Also it’s a very very British play and I get even more British in the presence of Americans, which I am here!
      Also, in soul-baring honesty…I thought a highbrow literary reference would make me seem fancy!

    10. Melanie Cavill*

      Mine is a direct reference to my favourite character from the TV show Snowpiercer. Someone once left me a comment recommending I freeze someone’s arm off (which makes perfect sense in context) and I was delighted. Although this should not be taken as a rec to watch Snowpiercer; the show is okay at best.

        1. allathian*

          The film was interesting, and it’s probably the first English-language movie I’ve seen by an Asian director that had a non-Western vibe to it, even if most characters were white (boo!). (I’ve seen and enjoyed a number of Chinese wuxia movies.) It made me think, and left a lasting impression on me, but for some reason I have no need to ever see it again, or any wish to see the show, for that matter.

      1. TPS reporter*

        Haha that was me with the suggestion.

        Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. mmm okay? (To the place we shall not name)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I am not that imaginative. People help me pick out names for my dog, because I am just not that creative.

      I think my user name kind of telegraphs that. I wanted to change it, but i have been using it for so long that it would get confusing for some.

      1. Just a name*

        Ditto. I am not imaginative, and was pressing myself to come up with something clever. Having failed that, I told myself it’s just a name. Most of my other user names relate to my favorite sports team, and I did not want to cross streams with that here, as that might make it too easy to ID me.

      2. fposte*

        Didn’t you start out as New Reader and then people pointed out you were a known regular at this point?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep, that’s right. Someone pointed that out and I started using Not So NewReader. ha. Not So Imaginative.

          When did you start posting here? It seemed to me that you were had been here for a bit before I joined.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I remember the foot story line, too. It sounds like I started within a year or so after you did.

    12. UKDancer*

      I’m from the UK and I love dancing. Also I’m not very imaginative and it seemed self descriptive.

    13. Irish Teacher*

      Mine is basically just clarifying where I am coming from in discussions. As the site is American, some of my experiences may not apply to many/most people and teaching is in many ways a law onto itself. I saw a lot of things here that I don’t identify with (one-to-ones with managers, etc) and honestly, I’m often not sure if they are American things or corporate world things, so yeah, the name prevents me from having to preface too much with “I’m Irish, so this may not apply if you are American” or “this may not apply to the private sector.”

    14. Turtle Dove*

      I’ve always loved turtles’ color, movement, and shape. I grew up back when dime stores sold them as pets, and my siblings and I often owned one. I’m not big into birds but added “Dove” because it goes well with “Turtle,” and that bird is symbolic of good things.

      I used to go by my initials here until I read some older posts where someone had used nearly the same letters (e.g., I used xyz but later noticed xy was established). I didn’t mean to step on toes, so I found a different user name.

    15. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Mine is a comment that is made almost every episode by a character in the TV show Leverage. I often say it to myself when I am annoyed about something.

      1. AnotherLadyGrey*

        I love Leverage so I always smile when I see your username. I also “hear” it in Eliot’s voice.

        At our house we frequently say “Dammit, Hardison!” and I often follow it up with “…I got these things in my PANTS!” which I find hilarious, even though it’s said earlier in the show.

    16. 653-CXK*

      My username is based on a license plate of a car my father owned from 1980-1985 – a mustard yellow 1974 VW412 wagon with the engine in the rear and the trunk in the front. He bought it after he sold his blue Chevelle so my mother could have a run-about car (he subsequently bought a blue Ford Fairmont for his own use). When the VW412 went, he sold it to the Old Volks Home and received $50 for its scrap value.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We replaced our cars about 5 years ago (between college educations) and apparently the old two license plates are it for that region of my brain–I have no hope of remembering the new ones.

        It did finally occur to me to write the license plate numbers down on an index card, so if a car is ever stolen I’m not saying “Well! I can tell you the license plate of the minivan I was driving 10 years ago. But the current car, no, no idea. I think it’s got an L?”

        1. Deanna Troi*

          This is interesting, because in the state in which I live, you just take the plate off your old car and put it on your new one. I’ve had the same plate for 30+ years, on 5 cars. I wouldn’t be happy if I had to remember a new plate number every time I bought a new car!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My husband needed a new one because his new vehicle was all electric. I had one license plate on my 90s wagon that moved to my aughts minivan, and have no idea why I couldn’t just move it on to the new Rav. But apparently not.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve always been impressed that you got your avatar to match your username, as someone who’s much too lazy to do that myself.

    17. Chauncy Gardener*

      I love the movie Being There and always wanted to name my dog Chauncy Gardener, but none of them ever seemed like a Chauncy to me. So here I am! Plus, I love to garden. I do not like to watch! lol

    18. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Mine started out as a pseudonym I could use to comment on news sites, and was meant to make a bit of fun of the seriousness of the…heated debates going on there. I just tried to think of a very self-aggrandizing term, to the point of being a bit of a farce. Then I added the avatar of Eduardo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends wherever I could to drive that point home a bit. Now I use it anywhere I want anonymity…although a few friends now know about it, for me it’s more just about staying anonymous with employers and strangers on the internet.

    19. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Mine is an Ask A Manager reference from a person whose workplace wanted their employees to all write poems.

      The commentariat responded in a very entertaining manner.

    20. Mimmy*

      I’m not very creative so I originally used variations of my name and (former) career path. Then one day, a then-regular commenter Jamie offered help with coming up with usernames. For me, Jamie suggested “Mimmy”, which I believe she said was a character from Hello Kitty, which she was a fan of, saying that I reminded her of this character. This is the only site where I use that name.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I think she popped up kinda sorta recently once or twice? And a bunch of people were like HEY. Or I might be mixing that up. Or pandemic brain might be making that seem more recent than it really was…

          1. Myrin*

            She did! I, too, couldn’t tell how recent exactly that was but I wanna say sometime during the last two years?

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          Me too, to missing both Jamie and Rebecca.
          I’ve decided to believe that they both are happy and doing well. My reasoning is that they both sounded grounded and positive in their comments, so why wouldn’t that extend into Real Life?

          It’s nice that people can make a positive impression on others here, even when everyone involved is using usernames. It renews some of my faith in humanity, the basic goodness of people, and the usual tendency of the arc of the universe to bend towards justice … eventually.

    21. fposte*

      Mine is from the signature of the heroine in Cold Comfort Farm, which is a book I adore. Flora is competent and well-mannered, and she reminds me to behave online.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have read that book, and somehow never made the connection with your username…

    22. Llama face!*

      Mine’s pretty simple: I love the movie The Emperor’s New Groove. There were many awesome quotes to choose from but at the time Alison was using the llama grooming business as the default workplace in posts so I picked this one. (Other strong contenders were “Pretty crucial conjunction” and “Why do we even have that lever?”.)

      1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        Mine is also from that film! Me and a friend say ‘yay, I’m a llama again’ to each other regularly, so using it makes me think of her. And like you, when I joined there were many Llama related ‘jobs’ so it seemed appropriate.

        1. Llama face!*

          Hello fellow New Groove llama :)

          Friend language is so fun! I have a running joke with a friend of mine where we reference a “left/right mermaid” (which only makes sense if you’ve seen this random 2016 Chinese movie called The Mermaid).

    23. bassclefchick*

      I used to play the bassoon. Which is a bass clef instrument (mostly. I was never good enough to grasp tenor or alto clefs.). That’s pretty much it.

    24. Texan In Exile*

      I used to be The Class Factotum, which is a nickname a former boyfriend gave me after we saw School of Rock and was the name of my blog at the time.

      Then I became The Golddigger, which is what my husband’s parents accused me of being. They told him not to marry me because I was marrying him only for his money. (Reader – he was a divorced, alimony-paying, individual contributor engineer. He had no money.)

      And then, when my husband’s parents died and I didn’t have much to write about in my Golddigger blog, I became Texan In Exile because I am a Texan who was tricked into moving to Wisconsin to get married. And now, I really am in exile because of all the crap going on in Texas.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have seen your username change over the years from reading archive comment threads (it’s easy to identify your comments because your avatar stays the same), and I always wondered about the reason(s) for the changes!

    25. Invisible fish*

      I was working under a bullying assistant principal who made things terrible for me and pretty much every human she interacted with, and in discussion with other sufferers one day, someone noted that she really got off on being a big fish in a small pond. This has always been a bizarre concept for me- if I’m at work, I’m there to do my work well, I don’t need to be at the top of the heap in order to get this weird affirmation that I’m amazing, I don’t need to lord power over anyone – no person who is focusing on being a good human being can fall into this “pissing contest” mind set. (My position was such that I was just a step below her in the campus/district hierarchy, and I invested a LOT of time and energy protecting the people “below” us that she wanted to bully.)

      I blurted out “I just want to be an invisible fish!” It really, truly hit me how much I like to be helpful and supportive and be a part of people doing good work, and how my leadership style is “servant leader” – I’m there to help you be your best, not to chastise and find fault and harass.

      And then I was able to make my escape!! It took about two years to recover from all the damage that woman caused, but I’m still an invisible fish, just trying to make my pond the best it can be.

    26. I’m not sure about this, but*

      I’m using this name until I can come up with something I really like.

    27. Macaroni Penguin*

      I’m Macaroni Penguin, because it amuses me to think of a bird made of noodles. But it’s also the name of a real species of penguin! The concept is too silly to be real, and yet it is. Life really is an absurd experience.

    28. Falling Diphthong*

      My username is a phrase from an episode of Says You, NPR’s language quiz show. A diphthong is a combination of two vowels in one syllable (loud, coin) and a falling diphthong is one in which the first vowel is more emphasized (noise). In a rising diphthong the second vowel is more emphasized (guava).

      While I am not a language nerd–I have a terrible ear–my husband has a strong linguistics interest he shares with his mom, and this reminds me of many “Fanta boils; the rice boils; Fanta boils” letters that they wrote to each other when we lived overseas.

    29. OyHiOh*

      I’m Jewish. I like language games. Therefore, I like how the Yiddish “oy” fits into the name of the US state (Ohio for non US). I’m not from Ohio, don’t live there, and it’s one of the few states I haven’t actually ever visited). Just like the word play of it.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        Oh! I though for sure you lived in or were from Ohio. :) Also, I know it isn’t exactly the same, but every time I see your user name, I think of the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song “Ohio,” about the Kent State Massacre, because in the song they say “Oh-Hi-Oh.”

    30. Trixie*

      A former colleague and good friend penned me as “Trixie”. He also used that as one of his passwords for something or other. I had a pixie cut at the time, and associated this nickname with Speed Racer. This friend had a wicked sarcastic side that was much appreciated, in an otherwise difficult workplace.

    31. Flowers*

      I like flowers. Pretty much it. My last username (Potatoes) was the name of a blog I had written on a website many years ago. It was a play on the “haters gonna hate” phrase and I like potatoes and well there you go.

    32. the cat's ass*

      Mine is 1920’s slang meaning something fantastic. Sorta like the cat’s pajamas (which i believe is also a username on here) and the bee’s knees. And i have cats, 3 of them, and they are tails up kitties all of the time, so i am always seeing…the cat’s ass!

      Great thread, The prettiest Curse!

      1. Flowers*

        I laughed so much when I first saw your username. I had heard of cats pajamas but not cats ass lol. Thank you for sharing the story behind it!!!!

    33. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      Bear is a childhood nickname, and I figure my use of indoor plumbing moves me slightly above your average bears.

    34. AGD*

      Great question! I love seeing these stories.

      I work in higher ed (technically faculty, but I do a lot of advising) and my scholarly background is in cognitive science. I was going to go for Amy G. Dala, which is a subtle pun on “amygdala” and also gets a bit of additional information about me across, but I didn’t want people to assume it was nothing more than my exact name, and I couldn’t think of anything more creative that I would actually remember was me, so I just gave myself these initials, which mean absolutely nothing. Oh well.

    35. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Vlookup is my very favorite Microsoft Excel formula & I use all day long! No creativity points for this one.

    36. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      I got my username from the automated announcement that plays every time someone presses the stop request button on a bus in NYC. I also think it would make a good name for an emo punk band. Ha.

      1. Henry Division*

        I’m from NY and this is such a good username. It goes with “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”. Excellent choice.

        1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

          Ha! Thank you. I am actually a big transit buff so it manifests itself in a lot of the things I write.

    37. Deanna Troi*

      Mine is from my favorite TV show, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Occasionally I’ll see references to the names in the show on this website and it makes me smile.

    38. RMNPgirl*

      I’m female and love Rocky Mountain National Park. I grew up about 45 minutes away and now live a few states away so it’s a nice reminder of my mountains.

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

      Mine is a character from one of Beatrix Potter’s children’s books. The extra in parentheses got added because I ran into another Squirrel Nutkin in academia here on one of the weekday threads, which I am seldom on. Great minds think alike!

    40. Rara Avis*

      Rara Avis means “rare bird” in Latin. I teach Latin and my favorite animal is a penguin.

    41. WellRed*

      My username is self explanatory and a little dull but I always love the clever ones. Too many to even think of, but a current pop culture gave us Not Tom, Just Petty.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          Sorry, that meant to say “one of my favorite user names.” I lived up to my own user name.

    42. Henry Division*

      Henry Division is the sole human character and defendant from the video game Paradise Killer.

    43. Cedrus Libani*

      My first default username was IsotopeOfAngel…because I was in middle school when stuff like AIM hit the mainstream, and I was a twee little nerd. (I’m a *heavy* isotope, that’s why I’m here and not in heaven…) That name served me well for a decade, but eventually I found myself staring at an account creation screen, realizing that I was a grown-up and I needed a new name. I happened to be listening to the Indigo Girls song “Cedar Tree”. So I used the Latin taxonomic name for a cedar tree, and have been using it since.

    44. Jackalope*

      Mine is related to a nickname that I have IRL, plus I’ve always loved the idea of jackalopes and wish they were a real animal.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have never seen that show, but flipped through enough articles about it in TV Guide that I recognised your avatar matched your username.

    45. NeonFireworks*

      I keep wondering about other people’s usernames! Mine, I think I just wanted something…colorful and exciting, I guess?

    46. OxfordBlue*

      Mine references the place I live and my favourite colour which is also the colour of the famous local university. Like Irish Teacher I chose it to show that I’m not in the US so as to avoid having to explain that whenever I commented.
      I really enjoy working out what the names the commentariat use mean and find many of them laugh out loud funny so I’m loving this thread.

      1. Really?*

        I thought Oxford was a reference to Oxford, Mississippi. Which is where Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi) is. My bad.

    47. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My main username for internet stuff in general is pretty linked to my overall identity at this point, so I knew I wanted to use something else here just to keep this stuff separate from the rest of my online presence.

      I noticed a lot of pun/wordplay usernames, so I knew that was the direction I wanted to go. I further decided that I wanted something with both business connotations and fannish connotations if I could pull it off. Then I just riffed on stuff for a while, and since I particularly enjoy wordplay where by changing just a couple of words you can change the meaning of a sentence, I settled on this. It’s a play on the book title “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (which I have not read) and hobbits from Lord of the Rings (which I have read, although it’s really not the center of my fannish interests), although there really wasn’t anything in LotR or the rest of the assorted Tolkien stuff with specifically 7 hobbits all doing a notable thing that I’m aware of.

      1. Katiekins*

        You admire your name so much.

        I also really appreciate the name Snarkus Aurelius. (And Not Tom, Just Petty, as already mentioned.)

      2. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        I did an exam last year and I’ve of the things I may have been tested on was Covey’s 7 habits, and your username made them funnier so the actual habits stuck!

    48. Fran Fine*

      I loved the tv show The Nanny growing up. Fran Drescher was beautiful, funny, and very well-dressed – I wanted to grow up to be just like that, and according to those who know me in real life, I accomplished that goal :)

      I’ve changed my name several times over the years (I think I’ve been a commenter here since 2011 or 2012), but this is the one that suits me best for now.

    49. NeutralJanet*

      I don’t naturally form facial expressions and speak in a monotone unless I’m consciously trying to modulate my face and voice–I actually didn’t realize until my late teens that most people smile as an unconscious response when they’re happy, for example, as I only smile as a signal to others that I am happy and assumed it was the same for everyone. This is apparently not-uncommon for autistic people, which I discovered at around the same time. I had always gotten comments that I had a great deadpan sense of humor and occasionally had people worried that I was bored while doing things that I genuinely really enjoyed, but I never connected the dots.

      My username is a character from The Good Place who also doesn’t do facial or vocal expressions–quick and dirty summary for those who haven’t seen it, when you die you either go to the Good Place or the Bad Place. Both places have magical, omnipotent assistants named Janet, but in the Good Place, there are Good Janets, who are kind and helpful, and in the Bad Place, there are Bad Janets, who are always chewing gum, paying attention to their phones, farting, and insulting your mother. In one of the later seasons, we meet a Neutral Janet, who wears beige and is…neutral.

    50. HannahS*

      My real name is very foreign-sounding and difficult to pronounce, with a Hebrew first name and Yiddish last name. Think like, Ruchama Shayneboym.

      I thought being plain, easy, Hannah Schmidt would be nice for a change! My plan was to use it as an alias everywhere on the internet but I pretty much just comment here, so HannahS it is.

    51. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I changed my username a few years ago, and chose a reference to a 2019 letter where the LW mentioned keeping a ‘stunt apple’ on their desk to deter coworkers from asking invasive questions about fasting. I get lots of questions and comments about my diet so that letter stuck with me.

      It was this or Chris Hadfield’s Mustache (which is still under consideration).

    52. Myrin*

      My username is the name I have been using everywhere on the internet for more than twelve years now – it’s a combination of my abbreviated middle name and my hometown.

    53. Astoria*

      I wanted something elegant and feminine but not frou-frou, and that sounds like a given name but generally isn’t.

    54. Jean (just Jean)*

      Mine is a combination of a family name, a lack of imagination, and a small amount of self-deprecation. I wanted to use something more witty but figured that I would eventually tire of whatever I selected. Instead, I enjoy the witty usernames of other people.

      Someone else here comments occasionally under Jean (the name Jean without anything else–a real live version of Jean (just Jean)), ha ha). I thought about trying to make it clear that we are two different people, but that seemed unnecessary because we seem to comment on different topics and/or with different frequency.

      I haven’t seen Jean here for a while, actually, so I hope everything is okay!

    55. Bootstrap Paradox*

      Mine is from Heinlein (I grew up on the classics), re-inspired by Dr. Who.

      And I remember as a kid a neighbor used the ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ a LOT and I was like but but but…physics!

    56. allathian*

      I got mine from a random username generator… But I really enjoy the funny user names some of you have come up with.

    57. Random Biter*

      Someone sent me a meme that said, “I’ll probably be one of those old ladies that randomly bites other people,” and waa-laa! (Yes, I know that’s not how it’s spelled)

  15. Art and consumerism and feelings*

    I’ve recently gotten into embroidery and I have some… guilt about my creations not being useful or serving a practical purpose. It’s strange because I’d never think that about someone else’s art or hobby, but I guess we’re always harder on ourselves. I try to embroider on or create things that can be used – e.g. tote bags, earrings, etc, but I can’t help but think that none of this is actually necessary because I don’t need 500 tote bags. I try to give them away, but there’s only so many people I can give them away to! My family and friends say I should sell my work but I just want this to be a hobby and not create more work for myself.

    Can anyone relate? Would love to hear your thoughts. I want to stop feeling this way and just enjoy my hobbies without worrying that I’m destroying the planet by creating things that are not strictly necessary. Any suggestions as to how to be more environmentally conscious in creating art are also welcome

    1. Aphrodite*

      Art is as necessary to life, I believe, as food so guilt is misplaced. As for what to do with your work, how about gifting your work–throws, bedspreads, totes, whatever–to domestic violence or homeless family shelters or churches that serve low-income populations, or low-income housing programs, or Giving Tree organizations (especially those focused on seniors) during the holiday season? I can easily imagine the joy that such beauty can bring to those who would get them.

    2. Weegie*

      Yes! Totally. I make jewellery (mostly earrings) and have given away as much as I can, as well as wearing it myself. I have also been urged to sell it, but I really don’t have the time or energy to set up an online shop or sell at craft fairs. The only other thing I can think of doing is donating it to charity shops.
      I have suggested to a craft group I’m in that we have an occasional sale of our collective work and donate the proceeds to a good cause, but the group leader doesn’t seem keen. That would definitely be my preference for getting stuff out of my house and doing some good, if I could find others to pitch in.

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

        Love the idea of donating to charities. Maybe try domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters? People who have lost all of their stuff might need and want what you’re making.

    3. A.N O’Nyme*

      1) art is very necessary, or cultures around the globe wouldn’t be creating it.

      2) suggestions for environmentally friendly art:
      Try to use secondhand materials, such as totes and pillow cases bought at a secondhand shop.

      If you’re into embroidery, look into sashiko. It’s a Japanese combination of darning and embroidery intended to reinforce pieces of fabric that are wearing out. Please be aware that it is more than just “white thread on blue background”. Trust me, I have seen things.

      The principle can also be applied to other kinds of embroidery: you can try to use it to cover up repairs to other things or maybe spice up that old T-shirt.

      1. PollyQ*

        Trust me, I have seen things.

        OK, but now I’m imagining you taking a drag on a cigarette and staring 1000 yards into the distance.

    4. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I’m a mosaic artist and while I do sell my work I also donate some of it to a local cat rescue I help run. Sometimes I list it directly for sale on their FB page but most often we run raffles, which are really popular.

    5. Mornington Cresent*

      I understand- I cross stitch and always think “but what will I do with it when it’s done?” when working on things.

      If I ever get to the point where I have more pieces than places to put them, I think I’ll stitch them together into a little book that can just be pretty for its own sake. The world needs art, and creating soothes the soul, so never feel guilty for creating a beautiful item.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Art need not be utilitarian to be necessary to our enjoyment of life. Beauty is its own reason to create it.
      If you’re looking for ideas beyond tote bags, take a look at the way medieval and Renaissance embroiderers decorated clothing, or the way early American embroiders decorated household items. Some of those were started simple and added to over time, even after they had been in use.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also think of totally different ways you could use it.
        A friend’s dog ran through screen doors without seeing them. She did a decorative strip of cross stitch pattern right onto the screen door at dog-eye level and he stopped going through the screen.
        An embroidered banner could be an easily stored holiday decoration for someone who’s living in a small space, or who can’t put nails into their walls.
        And I’ve seen some beautiful embroidery done to repair rips and moth holes.

    7. Madame Arcati*

      You can also do that cute thing where you leave it in the frame, neaten the back and hang it on the wall just as you would a picture. I have a little trio of such, just inside my front door, in three different sizes. Makes me smile and also it’s the first thing guests see and I find there are few harmless little ego boosts to compare with “why thank you I made it myself”!
      Also, a thing of beauty is a joy forever! The things you make might be treasured for years and that’s not waste. My mum has a framed embroidered sampler done by a relative which has been passed down, and it is dated 120 years before I was born*. When it is 200yo (by which time, with all due respect to my mum, I expect I will have it) I shall throw it a little party. With sherry.

      * if you want some morbid Victorian caption inspo, it reads “the grass is green the rose is red the sampler is mine until I am dead”

    8. Madame Arcati*

      Genuine question for the embroiderers here – would any of you be interested in finishing an incomplete embroidered linen table cloth I acquired from my late grandma? I will never do it (I do have some embroidery bits to finish from her but this is too big considering my other hobbies and projects.
      If that’s piqued anyones interest I can give further details, then if you are still interested we can figure out how to get in touch privately. I could eg put pics on my Instagram and tell you what my id is on there.
      I wouldn’t want anything for it just the knowledge it wasn’t going to be wasted; you could keep it or raffle it off for charity etc.
      I tried a couple of facebook groups and when I first mentioned it some people were like, oh yes I would, but when I put up pics, tumbleweeds… (it’s not horrible so I don’t think it was the pics, just the vagaries of the internet.

      1. jleebeane*

        I don’t know where you’re located, but if you’re anywhere near Boston (or willing to put in in the mail) there’s a secondhand arts and crafts supply shop that often sells incomplete projects. I’m sure someone would snap it it.

        https://makeandmendshop.com/

    9. Elf*

      You should embroider handkerchiefs! Switching to handkerchiefs from tissues is good for the environment, and you can never have too many, plus they make a lovely small gift.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      This is why I stopped doing crafting. I now do practical items for my home or myself. I have made dog beds and curtains, etc. I don’t want to clean all the craft stuff I made and I don’t like it looking dusty.

      My suggestion is do a few pieces then switch to something else. I have done embroidery, crewel, knitting, crocheting, sewing, macramé (back in the day), stained glass, canning, gardening, ugh- the list goes on. I do not excel at any of these, I dabbled. I enjoyed it for the time. I concluded that I liked learning how things go together. Once I had the general idea I was ready to look at something else.

    11. Koala dreams*

      If you do crafts for the fun of it, then that’s the usefulness. Fun might not be strictly necessary for survival, but it’s still important.

      There are second hand stores that sells donated tote bags so I think that’s possible to find if you’d like to donate them. Not sure about earrings.

      Talking of second hand stores, they are often a great source for craft materials. Sometimes yard sales too.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        YES
        I’ve found lots of things to use for miniatures at flea markets. It’s a hobby where you never know what will be useful, so it’s easy to end up with a ton of things, but 1) they’re usually small, and 2) they’re usually cheap. Plus, you’re recycling!

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      There’s a cat rescue I’m involved with that has an annual auction fundraiser using things that have been donated to them. Maybe there’s something like that near you that you could donate some items to? Also, one of the churches near me has an annual fair (inside) before Christmas where local crafters sell their creations. The artists/crafters each set up a table and go from there. I know a bunch of them and they all say it’s so much easier than craft shows that require tents etc.
      And, I bet nursing home residents would just love some of your creations. There often isn’t a lot of beauty in those places. And as so many here have already said, art and beauty are life necessities!

    13. Inkhorn*

      I’m a knitter living in the subtropics, so I’m waiting for the inevitable day when I run out of useful things to make and confront this issue myself. There’s only so many woolly items a person needs in this climate. (I’ll probably go in for yarn bombing, I’ve been wanting to try it for years but keep getting distracted by socks and shawls. It always makes me smile when I see it, so maybe I can make other people smile.)

      1. Nitpicker*

        I crochet. I ran out of things to make and my friends didn’t want any more scarves so I did some research and found an organization that distributes handmade blankets to sick and traumatized children and teens. They take crocheted, knit, and quilted blankets. If it’s OK to post the name, it’s Project Linus. They have a website.

      2. Salymander*

        Yup. I knit, and I live in a place with 8 months of summer and 4 months of fall/spring. In other words, I don’t need any more knit items, not even socks which are my favorite thing to knit. I wear flip flops all year around.

        The one good thing about having arthritis is that I can’t knit very often, so I don’t have to find homes for all the knitwear any more. I give some to charity, but that’s about it.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My mom used to make premie hats for the NICU at the hospital where she volunteered.

      4. Silence*

        Plush toys, parasols, hair ornaments, lace shawl for in between weather, beach cover up in cotton

    14. Just a name*

      I still have the embroidered linens (at least some of them, mostly pillow cases) that were wedding gifts given to my parents in 1950. I particularly like the dresser scarf (I think that is what it is called) because my mother always had it on her dresser.

    15. Susie*

      Have you tried visible mending? There are several styles, but one of them is embroidering over a mended hole or stain. Perhaps use this skill to reduce clothing waste.

      Right now I do pretty simple visible mends, but I’d love to learn more about embroidery to up my game.

    16. KatEnigma*

      There is a reasonably well know vlogger with an Etsy shop, who ONLY opens the shop when she has accumulated a reasonable amount of things to sell- and by that, we are talking maybe 30 things total, at most. She also didn’t want to feel like it was an obligation or another job. She opens it 2-3 times a year. She makes about enough to cover her supplies.

      Or donate to the charity of your choice- either that has a shop or that has a rummage sale/silent auction/etc as so many do.

    17. Fellow Traveller*

      I was thinking about this lately because I was visiting one of those historic houses and in the parlor was an embroidery stand. And it made me think about how embroidery and needlework used to be a prized skill and that this was how people (mostly women, I suppose) used to spend their time before internet and tv and what not. There was real value and accomplishment in handwork and just creating something. Not sure where or why there has been a shift away from handwork being part of every day activities to where it is now regarded as a hobby…
      No brilliant ideas or thoughts for you, but just something I too have been pondering.

    18. Dark Macadamia*

      I also embroider and my main solution has been to just stick with smaller projects. I hate clutter and I do so many different designs that don’t really match each other or the decor. My favorites have been on a bookshelf in my apartment, but my family is now moving to a house and I plan to have a “hoop wall” in my office. Some things honestly just get stuffed in a drawer because I don’t know what to do with them!

      I think often about how people say art for children is more about the process than the product – why do we ever stop viewing it that way?? I think the more you can view your hobby’s product as “time I spent enjoyably” instead of “fabric with a picture on it” the less you’ll feel that you’re being frivolous or wasteful.

    19. I’m not sure about this, but*

      I’m primarily a quilter, but I’ve recently started crocheting smallish throw rugs from fabric I’m not going to use. I’ve also purchased sheets from a thrift shop to use. I’m starting to accumulate rugs from this activity! Need to find an outlet for them.

    20. Falling Diphthong*

      I second all the art is necessary to life posts. If you want to maximize effort per unit of space, you can do very complicated projects, e.g. elaborate scenes on Xmas stockings. But I totally get the satisfaction and appeal of working on something that will be completed within a reasonable time frame.

      But will confess that much as I adore miniatures, I have resisted taking this up as a hobby because what would I do with a perfect miniature room?

    21. Fiction Reader*

      I don’t think we always need to be practical, just enjoy making things. However, if you want to give your work away I have one suggestion. I recently stayed at an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge with a relative who was getting cancer treatment in a city far away from where she lives. One room had items donated to the program; we were told we could take anything we wanted or needed. My mom just took a small quilt to use as a lap blanket in the chilly treatment rooms, but they also had small items like hand-crafted keychains and decorations that were just cute and fun, to lighten the patients’ spirits and decorate their rooms if they were there for many weeks. I will say that tote bags would probably be very useful there, because patients and family members are always hauling things around to the waiting rooms. I forgot my reusable grocery bags because we drove in my relative’s car – I would have grabbed a tote bag if they offered them.

    22. OyHiOh*

      My local zoo does a “art for conservation” fundraiser auction every year. The main criteria for entering pieces is that they reflect nature in some way. I purposely make works during the year that can be entered in that auction, and they’ll accept up to 5 pieces from each individual artist. It’s a good way to send beautiful things out into the world.

      Art is necessary for living. Many people would argue that point, but we live in a world designed by artists. Artists design the homes we live in, and their function. Artists design furniture and fixtures. Artists design clothing and textiles. Artists design and make our dishes and appliances. Art is everywhere, even when it is functional and designed to serve a specific purpose.

      Embroider all the beautiful things. Sell if you wish, donate to auctions, fundraisers, and charity shops, if you wish, give as gifts as you wish. But please keep making beautiful things!

    23. HBJ*

      Could you sell one offs via Poshmark or Mercari? I understand not wanting to do it as a business, but that would not be quite the same thing.

    24. Joielle*

      Yes! I also embroider and I mostly do tea towels these days for the reasons you explained. I spend a LOT longer on each towel than is probably “sensible” for something that’s going to get used and washed, but I enjoy the process and I get to use them and look at them every day. And since they’re both small and practical, people are always happy to get a couple as gifts. If I was going to sell them, they’d have to be like $50 apiece to properly compensate for my time, which is a ridiculous price for a kitchen towel. So they’re just a labor of love.

    25. Jackalope*

      Here is my personal, non-scientifically-backed theory. There are some things that exist in every culture because they have to (food, ways to access clean water, shelter from the elements). But if something is invented by multiple cultures around the world, it also touches on a real need. I’m thinking of things like music, dancing, sports, visual arts, and so on. Not everyone is touched by all of those things, but they all hit some chord that exists in a huge percentage of the population or else they wouldn’t exist in so many places.

      So just because we don’t need embroidery in the same way we need clean water, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter or isn’t important. I don’t know if this helps, but I find it useful when I’m wanting to denigrate the “unnecessary” things I spend my time on.

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

      I also feel guilt when I spend time on making art/crafting, and it’s been really useful to me to try and unlearn that impulse. Creating something out of nothing is a life-bettering practice, and we all deserve to have that in our lives. Two things that really helped me are the book The Lonely City by Olivia Laing, which is sort-of a memoir but also sort-of art history– mostly my takeaway from it was about how the creation of art sustains us through what life throws at us. After reading it, I threw myself really fully into allowing myself time to make art, and still have a number of pieces from that time that I’m proud of.
      Also, if you’re on the east coast of the US, I cannot recommend enough a visit to the Visionary Museum in Baltimore. It’s a very unusual place, and for me what it does better than any other museum I’ve ever been to is celebrate the role of making art as a life-sustaining activity. I find the most moving pieces of its collection are the beautiful things made by people who were either incarcerated or institutionalized. Looking at those carefully made items and reading about the artists’ stories just made it so stark and clear to me that art is not a frivolous, indulgent waste of time or resources, but is in fact very much a matter of survival.

      I will also add that there is lots of scholarship done on the ways that specifically feminine-coded art forms like fiber arts have been historically denigrated as “not real art” for reasons I’m sure you can guess. Seeking some of that out may also make you feel more empowered to take yourself and your work seriously as a big eff-you to the patriarchy. Good luck!

    27. Emma2*

      I can relate as I think about similar things. I knit and do a bit of sewing and one thing I find is that a lot of influencers (particularly for sewing) are promoting a lot of very simple patterns. I think this is partly because simple projects are easier to produce quickly, and a lot of people use their projects as content, so making things faster helps them generate more content, which helps build their audience (and any return they are getting from ads, sponsors, etc). I also think pattern, fabric and yarn companies have an incentive to promote easy to make items as it encourages faster production, and therefore more consumption. I try to think carefully about whether I actually want the end product of a project – and not to take shortcuts where I think another slower or more complicated technique would be better. I also think about the materials I am using and try to purchase yarn that aligns with my own values (generally supporting smaller producers and avoiding plastic as much as possible – I will admit to having some sock yarns with nylon, which is supposed to increase durability, but am thinking about using alternatives).
      I was thinking about your particular question – I don’t have children so don’t know how much this would cost, but I wonder if you could purchase cotton children’s clothing from a second hand/charity shop, add embroidery that might be appealing to a child (trains, dragons, unicorns, dinosaurs, butterflies, pirate ships, etc) and then re-donate the clothes. A chi