weekend open thread – October 15-16, 2022

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Complicities, by Stacey D’Erasmo. After her husband is arrested for Madoff-like crimes, a woman tries to build a new life for herself.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,080 comments… read them below }

  1. Shutterdoula*

    I will graduate with my masters degree (in my 50s!) in May! YAY!
    I have a (happy!) conflict and will not be able to walk in my graduation. I’m okay with that. I do want to celebrate my graduation *somehow* though. Already planning to get my cap and gown and do a photo session.
    All I can think of is a party (I hate being the center of a party, though) or a trip (which may not be $$ possible).
    Any other ideas for an alternate graduation celebration?

    1. anonymous for this*

      When my niece earned her PhD, it was during the depths of Covid, and there wasn’t a ceremony (not that anyone could attend if there had been one). Anyway, a family member contacted everyone and had us each take a pic of ourselves holding up a sign that said “congratulations Dr. [niece’s name]”. Then made a slide show …it was an awesome surprise for her!

      Is there someone who could ask your family and friends to do something similar?

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If you want to celebrate with people, but not a big group, what about treating your local friends and family to a nice event – dinner at a restaurant you really like, for example, or an outing to some sort of favourite activity, or something fun you’ve wanted to try that’s more fun with other people (paint your own pottery, build a bear, a one day cooking class, whiskey tasting)? It’s probably more expensive than a hosted party at your home, but cheaper than going on a trip.

      If you’re more solitary minded, then doing some sort of treat activity could be fun. If it were me, I’d spring for something that’s not hideously expensive but outside of my usual budget, like hiring a one day birding tour with a guide who has a car.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I second this. When I graduated from university I went to lunch with my parents and sister, and honestly that was all I wanted. I’m not someone who likes a fuss and am not keen on big parties, but that was a nice way to celebrate with the people I loved and have some good food as well.

        On the treat activity, I’d like to suggest what I usually do for my birthday – a fancy breakfast/brunch (could also be a lunch somewhere) and a trip to the theatre. Obviously that depends on whether OP likes theatre, and I appreciate that’s easier if you live somewhere with a big theatre scene, but something about that just feels really decadent and indulgent.

    3. sewsandreads*

      When my cousin graduated, she could only have a few people there. We all got together about a week later for a dinner — she’s like you and isn’t keen on being the centre of attention, so dinner out was a nice way to celebrate without all eyes being on her!

      We did similarly after my grad — I graduated interstate, so my parents, brother, and SIL attended, and we had dinner near the grad ceremony location after. The rest of the family celebrated together at a small party a couple of weeks later (a surprise for me!).

      1. Stitch*

        I graduated from law school the same day my sister graduated from high school, so I told my parents to pick her. I just had my husband and a friend there and gave the rest of my tickets away. I’m not sure if I would have walked if it wasn’t the easiest way to find out your Latin honors/Order of the Coif.

    4. Jackalope*

      I recently did a short day trip with a friend to a nearby tourist spot that I hadn’t visited before. Could you do something like that? We had a lot of fun and the cost was pretty low.

      1. RLC*

        When my husband and I retired, we celebrated with a half-day scenic rail trip together. It was a joy to be able to do this on a weekday (yay retired!!!) with less crowds, and the rest of the participants were all there to have fun too. Didn’t matter that we didn’t know them, it was just a cheerful group on a fun outing.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      When my friend got her advanced degree in her 40s, she could only invite a couple of people to the actual ceremony and wanted to celebrate with others. She invited extended family and some friends to celebrate at a restaurant where our group had the whole space. Although she paid for it herself, I would have totally been willing to pay for my own meal and I imagine others would have been, too to celebrate her accomplishment. I hadn’t met her family before, and it felt special. She loved the event.

    6. Pam*

      I just assisted a former student to graduate- he’s almost 80! He wasn’t able to attend Commencement last Spring, so the college sponsored a party for him and his family/friends. He wore a cap and gown , and we presented him with a framed diploma. The event ran about an hour, with lots of pictures. Afterwards, they went out to dinner.

    7. StellaBella*

      WELL DONE! and for a celebration, I would offer ideas of: take a day to focus on you – no need to spend a lot, maybe do some nice self care things like a massage if you like those things, or a trip to the beach or forest, or take yourself out to a nice dinner, or do a day city trip and nice dinner in a new place. CONGRATS again!

    8. Redhaired runner*

      I treated myself to a spa day at a fancy spa when I graduated college. It was a very relaxing way to celebrate and release the stress of the lead up to finishing school.

    9. Juneybug*

      Congs!! I too, graduated with my Masters at age 50.
      I did not walk at my ceremony for my Bachelor’s. A noisy, rowdy crowd of 20s did not seem fun to me or my family members. No regrets. We had an outdoor party in our backyard.
      For my Master’s, there was a small ceremony at the school. I brought my husband and daughter (adult son was away with the miltary). Few days later, we again had an outdoor party in our backyard with family and friends. Told everyone no gifts or cards. It was potluck (we provided the burgers, paper goods, and drinks. Everyone else provided the side dishes and dessert). Both parties were perfect for me.

    10. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

      We threw a small barbecue for a friend’s graduation instead of a traditional party. As it turns out, her family and several guests were musically inclined, so 75% of the celebration turned out to be an epic jam session.

    11. Gnome*

      My advisor couldn’t make my ceremony and I am not into them anyway – we (including spouses) went out for a nice dinner along with another advisor and advisee in the same boat. it was lovely.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*


        When my son got his GED, I gave him the letter that he passed AND a graduation hat that I made him wear around the house.
        When he got his AAS it was the beginning of the pandemic: he wore his hat again and we took pics in front of a lovely tree (then watched the event online).
        When he gets his BSW this spring, we’ll probably have a lowkey outdoor gathering with family – either a BBQ or a tableful of our favorite take out. He might even walk a stage this time.

  2. Nance*

    Can we talk Botox? I’m in my 40s and thinking about doing it and wondering about other people’s experiences. Do you like it? Any regrets? How often do you do it? (Interested in hearing about other fillers too if you want, I’m open to anything.) I’m not trying to look 20, just a little more like the me in my head.

    PS to those of you in your 20s, be warned that you can end up with wrinkles and acne at the same time. No one told me.

    1. sewsandreads*

      No advice (terrified of needles), but slightly concerned about that acne warning… I only just got rid of mine!! NOOO

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          47 and the trifecta (earlyish menopause!) Though to be fair it hasn’t been full-on acne, just small pimples around my mouth & jaw which is a menopause thing apparently, hurrah

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Yup. Got one of those little whizzing things, and use it once a week, to remove whiskers.

        I thankfully found some anti-acne stuff for mature skin (as opposed to teens) that works for me – my skin responds well to salicylic acid as key ingredient. My favourite (expensive) is the anti-blemish from Murad, although The Ordinary and Boots salicylic acid is also good.

        Also two white hairs in my eye brow. Which I dye out.

          1. time for cocoa*

            Just For Men beard dye, applied with a soft toothbrush. It’s a thick gel that won’t drip. Go a shade lighter than you think you want, that stuff is potent.

            1. LostOstrich*

              I just did my brows last night – I’m 33, but I have a couple of white eyebrow hairs, and I mainly use it so I don’t have to fill them in every day.
              I use an angled eyebrow brush for mine!

          2. DistantAudacity*

            I use a brand called Kolokrem, widely available at pharmacies/where they sell beauty stuff here in Norway. The brand also does eye lash colour v

    2. BeeJiddy*

      I’m in my late 30s and have been getting botox for a couple of years now. I get it every 4 or so months, just whenever I notice my forehead lines start getting deep and noticeable again. I get it in my forehead, in between my brows (though that’s mainly as a balancing thing as recommended by my nurse), and sometimes around the crow’s feet area. I like it – I have a very expressive face which has led to some extremely deep forehead lines. My foundation always seemed to settle into them and it just got annoying. I get a pretty light amount so my face still absolutely moves, it just relaxes some of my facial muscles.

      I do believe you can overdo it but if you get a good nurse/aesthetician then they should be able to tailor it to what you need using the minimum amount necessary.

    3. English Rose*

      No personal advice, although I’m thinking about getting some filler in the smile lines from nose to jaw. I always thought I wouldn’t get anything done, but I really resonate with what you say around not trying to look 20 but there’s a point where your outside doesn’t look like how you feel on the inside.
      On that note, a friend recently had bags removed surgically from under her eyes. She used to get unwanted comments all the time that she looked so tired and was she alright, now that’s stopped and psychologically she feels a lot better.

    4. Day dreamer*

      Ive been getting Botox and fillers since I was 27, and I’m 35 now!

      I love it, but damn it’s expensive upkeep. I’m embarrassed to say how much I’ve spent a year and will likely try to tone it down a bit and focus on some microneedling in between my sessions and space them out longer.

      That being said, my tips:
      – find the absolute best person to go to. Don’t go for a Groupon or mega sale. I’m skeptical of people who offer half off Botox and fillers, they are barely even making their margins (or not at all). Hard to say if the product they’re using is real
      – find someone with 10+ years experience, no newbies
      – amazing reviews on Yelp and google (person is called out by name many times)
      – focus on looking natural, and mention that’s what you want

      I do Botox in my 11s, forehead (but not too much and I can still move it), and crow’s feet.

      I get filler in cheeks and lips. Lips are about once a year and it’s a half syringe to full syringe. Cheeks are also about once a year.

      I’ve also done sculptra in cheeks, also love.

      Previous things I’ve done but not anymore due to cost and/or no need because of other treatments helping the areas: under eye bags and nasolabial folds

      Note: if you work out a lot or half a fast metabolism, the product will metabolize faster.

      I have zero regrets on what I’ve done and love that it’s kept me youthful. I’m a redhead, and spent a few years fake baking back in my late teens and early twenties. This did a number on my skin :(

      1. Banana*

        My sister is a dermatology PA and does fillers and Botox. Just an FYI on those sales – she has to buy the injectables she uses herself, her practice does not inventory them for her, which is common for the industry according to her. All the product has expiration dates, after which she cannot dispense it. If she has product nearing expiration, she’ll use it on herself, offer it to family/friends/staff at cost, or do a Groupon/coupon thing. She’s just trying not to waste it.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            So there is. I do like to hear about other peoples’ experiences beyond the websites, but in this case drugs.com had an obvious and pertinent reason why it wouldn’t work for me, so it’s a moot point!

            1. Banana*

              I used it as a teen! You need a good moisturizing regimen with it and need to be religious about sun protection. It worked decently for me, but my acne was hormonal and what really worked was birth control.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Well, you need a prescription from a dermatologist for it. So that’s kind of a good thing in that if you’re having big enough acne issues, it’s good to see someone anyway. There could be better things for you than that now that I don’t know about.
          Anyway, I had horrible acne as a young teen and Retin A had first come out. I used it for three months (every night), and I when I went back to the derm after three months, she didn’t recognize me! And, I had no scars, which was really amazing.
          You just can’t do a lot of sun exposure while you’re using it.

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I got Botox a few times, but haven’t done so for a couple of years now (I am mid-50s). Initially I got it between my eyebrows, and also above my eyebrows – my doctor referred to that as a Botox brow lift and it really did lift my brows and open up my eye area. Later I got it in my crows feet too. I never went full-on frozen face look – more of a mild approach.

      It hurts. They use a tiny needle and it really stings. My place would give me an ice pack to take home. (The first time I got it done, I was also getting some Juvederm filler and they had numbed my face for that. When I went back for just the Botox, I was surprised at how painful it was.) Immediately afterward, you might have some little bleeding spots but it’s not hugely obvious that you’ve gotten something done. You’re supposed to regularly move your face, smile, grimace, make faces, etc., afterwards though. I don’t know if that’s to help distribute it or to keep your face from freezing. :-)

      Regular upkeep gets expensive though. They say you should plan on getting it 3-4 times a year. I don’t recall the exact cost but it was at least a couple hundred dollars each time. Ultimately I decided I would rather spend the money on other things, but I wouldn’t rule out doing it occasionally in the future. Though that probably takes away a bit from its effectiveness.

      Re: the Juvederm treatment – I got it in my under-eye troughs and was pretty stunned with how well it worked. I had fairly bad under-eye bags, and just looked so tired and haggard all the time. The filler really helped, and lasted for a couple of years. But when I got a second round, it didn’t seem like the results were as impressive as they were for that first treatment. (That almost seems to be the nature of some of these treatments. You’re blown away initially, but then repeated treatments don’t seem as impressive, or you need more to achieve the same result.)

      I went to a dermatologist who is highly experienced. You definitely want to go to someone who understands facial anatomy and who knows what they’re doing.

    6. time for cocoa*

      I get it every 3 months on the dot. My face is strong and burns it off quickly. The women in my family have crazy RBF, and my glabellar lines were intense by my early thirties. I’ve tried several types (Botox, Dysport, Juvéderm) and settled on Botox as the one that looks best on me. They have different effects and you may burn through them at different rates, so some injectors will encourage you to try them all (at different appointments) before settling on one.

      I spend $12 a unit and get about 50 units across my forehead, crows feet, and bunny lines. I also get two units directly under my left eye to fix a jelly roll. (I would not get the jelly roll done right away–evaluate your injector’s skill first. It’s very close to the eye and difficult to do well. I do it because I am extremely bilaterally asymmetrical, and it smooths the bag enough to make it match the right eye.)

      I’m thilled with my results, but it’s absolutely a matter of finding the right injector. I chose mine using RealSelf reviews. When she was on maternity leave, I saw a replacement, who jacked my face up with her poor skills. The dropped brows were BAD. Now I’m so loyal to my original injector that I got an Insta account solely to keep track of her in case she get a new job.

      Unexpected bonus: people stopped telling me I looked mad all the time. It’s “You Should Smile More”s infuriating little brother. My annual reviews started to say things like “good collaboration” and “has a reputation of being helpful”. Nothing changed except my face.

      I have told literally nobody IRL, and no one has ever said anything about me looking different. I don’t have subtle family, so if they noticed anything, they would come right out with it.

    7. Bluebell*

      When I was in my twenties I was bemoaning a pimple and asked an older friend why no one told you you could break out after the teen years. My friend smiled and joked “well that’s why lots of people hang on through their teens- they are looking forward to clear skin. If we told them, it would take that reason away.”

    8. specialK*

      I’m 44 and have been getting Botox for about two years now. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. I get 46 units mostly for forehead lines, the 11s (between eyebrows) and a few on each side for crow’s feet. I’m in Denver, pay $12 a unit and it lasts between 3-4 months. I don’t think I look frozen at all, just smoother. I get told that I look like I’m in my 30s but a lot of that probably has to do with limited sun exposure for most of my life. I don’t consider it to be very painful, although everyone is different there. It’s super quick so the discomfort doesn’t last long anyway. I bruise easily and usually get a few tiny bruises in the crow’s feet but they are not super noticeable and easily covered by concealer until they fade in a couple of days.

      When I first decided to try Botox, I didn’t know anyone that gets it so had no recommendations on where to go. I spent a lot of time online reading reviews and followed a ton of places on Instagram to see pictures of their work. It probably took me about 6 months before I settled on a place/injector and I’ve been going to her ever since. I recommend everyone that is curious about it give it a try!

      1. NaoNao*

        I’m in Denver and considering getting lip filler to create a more defined line between lip and skin (lipstick bleeds terribly) and Botox as well as possible nasolabial lines/jowl issues. If you feel comfortable, can you share your provider? Thanks!

        1. specialK*

          Yes! I go to Cherry Medical Aesthetics in LoHi. I’ve only seen Stacey and she is wonderful but the rest of the team seems great too!

    9. Kay*

      I tried Botox/Juvederm and to be honest I hated it and wish I had never done it.

      For one it is painful and you look like you were beaten afterward. I noticed there is this very subtle “shine and shape” shall we call it that is a characteristic of women who have lip fillers done. It took me a bit to realize what it was – something was off but I couldn’t pinpoint it. I now see it everywhere.

      Second – even if you have someone who is very good at what they do – things aren’t always perfect. No one else would ever notice, but I now have a mark where one of the needles went in around my lip. There are a few other things that may or may not have been attributed to the experience – but I much prefer the results and cost of microneedling.

      Obviously plenty of people love it for many different reasons, but in my opinion unless you are really sold on it or have a particular issue you want to address – try some other options first. It isn’t cheap and you might find other treatments get you what you want while still looking very natural for the money.

  3. sewsandreads*

    Sewists of AAM, what are your must haves for a sewing table?

    I’m in the process of building one (eek) and I’m sure I’m going to forget something important while all my stuff’s in storage! I’m mainly a quilter, if that changes anyone’s advice.

    I’m so excited to have such a deep and pretty table — I’ve just finished roughing up some matching cabinets to use as drawers/legs.

    1. RLC*

      I’m primarily a quilter, so suggestions are based on quilting activities.
      1) Solid, sturdy, non wiggly base. I don’t want my cutting surface to shake and mess up a rotary cut.
      2) Comfortable height for most frequent sewing activities I do at a table. I prefer to stand so mine was selected for that.
      3) Width and depth adequate for all cutting mats to be fully supported, and for every huge crazy template I have. Same for largest block I might design and lay out. I have an oversize Olfa mat (23”x70”) which I’ve permanently attached to a backing board (repurposed hollow core interior door); this lays nicely on my sewing table and lengthens it when needed but can stand up against a wall the rest of the time.
      4) Storage for tools and accessories used at table.
      My table is a repurposed 1930s sideboard, 2 drawers on top and 3 doors on bottom, with long shelf behind the doors. The drawers and doors close very securely which keeps out dust and prying kitty paws. The top of the sideboard has a bit of an overhang so I can clamp items such as a task lamp or my hand cranked pinking tool to the edge.
      My sewing machines are each set up in their own dedicated cabinets or folding tables (typical 1940s-50s setups) so I didn’t try to include a place for a machine.
      Hope this gives you some ideas!

    2. ShortySpice*

      Oooh exciting! I’m quilter mostly and I also do some garment sewing. I also am a reader! Twins!

      Are you planning to set your machine into the table? You’ll love that big flat surface if you quilt your own quilts. Make sure you allow for your machine’s knee lift if you use one (highly recommend this accessory- you can lift the presser foot hands free), regardless whether your machine will be set in or not.

      I use a large wooden banquet table so there’s tons of space beside and behind my sewing machine, and that’s really nice too. I have a good size cutting mat on there, plus a toolbox that holds my notions (no drawers). So my advice is make it as big as you can.

      1. Unum Hoc Scio*

        Also a quilter…. Don’t forget that with larger pieces like quilts or cumbersome clothing, you’ll need to let the excess fabric flow somewhere at the back. Give yourself a couple (or three) inches away from the wall and no upright lip at the back to allow for overflow.

    3. here's a thought*

      Also a quilter. I actually purchased a sewing cabinet. It has a space to drop the machine into and an acrylic insert (you can have them custom made for the machine) so that when the machine is dropped, the bed of the machine is flat with the rest of the cabinet. There are wings on the cabinet to make it bigger, to support a cutting board or large quilt tops. If I put the machine on a desk/table/etc. it is too high for me – you don’t want your arms reaching up from elbow to wrist. I can fit a cutting board on one side, but use my kitchen island for lots of cutting because it’s a much better height for my back. If your table is going to be for sewing AND cutting – make it height-adjustable if you can. Should be sturdy enough so it doesn’t wobble when you start sewing fast.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      If you are a rotary cutter person, it is worth either sizing the table to fit a good sized cutting mat or even getting one customized to fit. I also found it is not at all hard to trim down a cutting mat with tin snips. Think about if you are going to press on this table or not. If you do a lot of pattern alterations, a hanging pocket under tha table for your rulers is really nice. Enjoy your nice table!

    5. Llellayena*

      I’m still in the process of setting up my sewing room (new house!), but I found instructions online for how to modify an IKEA Ingo table to recess my machine. My cutting table is separate from my sewing table and will be a 3’ x 5-6’ surface at a little lower than kitchen counter height. I’ve got drawers and shelves under the cutting table for rulers and tools. Small drawers on top of the table for pins and smaller tools/templates. I will have a thread bin hanging off the edge of the sewing table for thread scraps (still need to make or buy that). I keep a garbage can near the cutting table for scraps. Mostly I’m trying to keep a good flow from cutting to sewing to pressing, it’s a lot of moving around!

    6. WheresMyPen*

      Ooh hello fellow sewist! I was just listening to episode 206 of the Love to Sew podcast about setting your table (and other surfaces) up to be ergonomic so that you don’t hurt your back or arms, and it was really interesting, so worth a listen if you’re setting up a new one. I’m still on the dining table unfortunately :(

    7. Spooky All Year*

      I used to work in a costume shop, and the two most useful things about our table were the storage underneath and taping brown paper over the surface. There was just a very large shelf underneath, basically a second table surface that held all the fabric scraps sorted into boxes. The brown paper helped to make sure we didn’t mess up the table, and let us sketch ideas out large scale and erase or just replace the paper when needed.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’m a big fan of leftovers for lunch. I like to make a big dish if something to have leftovers on purpose for the next few days. I’ll usually go for three things: a main dish, some sort of side (which is often carrots or chips with dip, nothing fancy), and then a dessert (usually a piece of fruit or some yogurt).

      1. banoffee pie*

        Yeah, me too. I love leftover, cold butternut squash risotto. I can eat anything cold for lunch. Lasagne, pies, pizza, literally anything. If I make lunch from scratch, I like a sandwich or bagel with cold meat, cheese and pickle. Or maybe falafel and hummous in a bread roll. Or a jacket potato with grated cheese and baked beans. Or an omlette. I think I’ve just made myself hungry!

    2. ShortySpice*

      I eat a giant salad every day. Staple ingredients: lettuce, carrots and cukes. Red onion. Hummus. Cabbage (preferably red but green will do) for crunch. Then I’ll toss in whatever veggie leftovers there are from dinner such as roasted cauliflower or broccoli. I’m a huge fan of beets so I’ll cook a bunch in the instant pot (pop them in unwashed/unpeeled and cook on manual for 13 minutes) and have a couple each day for the week. If there’s meat in the fridge I’ll use some (cold cuts or like a pork chop). I make my own dressing (equal parts canola/vegetable/grapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar with a teaspoon or so of Dijon mustard, shake it up and stir it in the fridge). I need volume to feel full but it works for me.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      For lunches at work, I tend to lean on vegetable/legume heavy soups, stews and casseroles, without a huge amount of starch – things that keep and reheat well, and can be made in a big batch. Minestrone, borscht, mixed vegetable sambar, cheesy taco pasta, a hearty frittata, bean and vegetable soup, Italian meatball soup, a vegetable heavy Thai green curry, cabbage roll casserole. that sort of thing.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I plan meals for the week so that most dishes get made in 4 portions, so we’ll eat them for dinner and then lunch the next day.

      It’s usually soups, stews, or traybakes. Meatless as much as possible, though not all the time (nothing beats the day when lunch is leftover lasagne). Rukmini Iyer’s Roasting Tin cookbooks are a goldmine for recipes that are nearly effortless and can be batch cooked that way. I also have a few other cookbooks that suit the purpose (Sabrina Ghayour is one of my favourite authors as I love Middle-Eastern food), and a list of recipes found online I want to try. Most of the meals are easy to put in a box and carry to work, should my partner or I have an office day planned.

    5. English Rose*

      A small chunk of cheese or a couple of boiled eggs or (on posh days) some smoked salmon scraps for protein, with salady type veg plus a big spoonful of kimchi.
      I’m not totally no/low carb, but I do find it suits my system, so I deliberately do this low carb lunch as a compromise. And the kimchi – well I started that about six months ago and it’s been amazing for my digestion and how, er, regular I am.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ooh, I am moving towards low-carb lunches and this sounds like a good system. Also, good tip re: kimchi, thank you!

    6. Copper Penny*

      Sandwiches, just cheese and meat most of the time with fruit as a side.

      Instant ramen with frozen veg.

      Potato baked in the microwave with cheese and butter.

      If I have lettuce, tomato, or other extra I’ll add it. But this is normally lunch for me and my toddler. My husband takes the same to work.

    7. UKDancer*

      Salad or a sandwich if it’s a day in the office usually. If I’m working at home I usually either have something in (soup from a tin, salad, cheese on toast etc) depending on what I’ve got in. As winter approaches the amount of times I have soup increases and the amount of times I have salad reduces.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Leftovers
      2) Ploughman’s lunch–good cheese, bit of smoked meat, seasonal fresh fruit, maybe a slice of toast
      3) Something from local farmstand (This is what I’m probably having today–black bean and chorizo soup)
      4) Various “as long as I’m erranding in this direction I will justify getting a takeout lunch” options. For example on northern errands, there’s a bakery that in the morning bakes bread and roasts a turkey breast, and in the afternoon sells sandwiches made from the above with a little lettuce, tomato, mayo.

    9. Jay*

      At home: yogurt and/or fruit and cheese plus some nuts. When I’m home I tend to eat a little bit every couple of hours rather than one bigger meal.

      Carried to work: usually leftovers plus some kind of salad. When I was taking lunch to work every day we cooked extra on Sunday of something that I liked for lunch. I love cold meat, so in summer grilled beef, lamb or chicken always worked. In winter I’d make a pot of turkey chili over the weekend and reheat it at work.

    10. fposte*

      Another vote for soup–I make a lot of different soups and freeze them in serving containers, so I have a lot of nice choice. And since I had a short commute and a microwave at work, it was an easy work lunch as well. I’m also a big fan of fruit and cheese, or a lazy salad that’s just prewashed greens, almond slivers, dried cherries, and a bit of Blaze drizzled. The key there for me is keeping the almonds and cherries in a bowl right next to the fridge so I don’t have to pry anything out of a cupboard.

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      Right now, soups. I actually love winter because it makes cooking lunches so much easier – soup, fresh bread rolls on the side, done. I tend to make a big batch from whatever sad veggies I have hanging round at the end of the week, but also keep some tins of tomato/chicken soup on hand for emergencies.

      Otherwise, cheese toasties (grilled cheese to the non-Brits), or things on toast – eggs (sometimes with added cheese or veg), baked beans, spaghetti, mushrooms with cream cheese/creme fraiche etc.

    12. the cat's ass*

      Thank god for Trader Joe’s-single serving reasonably priced nuke-able pasta dishes in recyclable materials. There used to be a 2$ one of farfalle and spinach the whole office called “poverty pasta.” It was very popular just before payday! I’m also a big fan of what ever leftovers are hanging around, tho because i see patients all day nothing strongly seasoned like onions or garlic (tho we’re still all masked so it just blows back in my face, despite toothbrushing). Hard boiled eggs, wraps, soups (TJs-again!-has those too and i can usually get 2 lunches out of one container), salads. And once a week, my medical assistant and i do takeout.

      1. bratschegirl*

        Ah, yes, masked self-garlic or onion breath! The orchestras where I play typically have one “double service” day every set, where there’s a rehearsal in the afternoon, a dinner break, and another rehearsal in the evening. Strings are all still required to mask while playing (yay! I honestly can’t imagine going back to playing with an uncovered face any time soon), and I unwisely went for a garlicky dinner in between last week. Powerful, and rather distracting!

    13. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I eat salad, soup and some form of bread most days. I try to keep it between 400 and 500 calories.

      The salad is just different types of lettuce and whatever fresh veggies I have on hand for the week. When I want to watch calories, I will use a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and cracked black pepper instead of dressing. I sometimes make the soup myself, and cycle between harira, ham and bean, lentil and cabbage, butternut squash, and green soups. I also like to have naan, pita, or Wasa crackers with hummus.

    14. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      Generally leftovers from last night’s dinner.

      Many of the grocery store chains here where I live have a kind of “meals on wheels” program where you can get a weekly package with all the ingredients for four meals a week, for four people, for a set price. I spent a year or so getting those every week and now have a fairly sizeable collection of basic recipes that I cycle through.

      Being a bachelor at the moment, making enough of each recipe for two people naturally gives me dinner that night and lunch the next day. What I need to do is start using my cookbook collection and crock pot for weekend meals, which will give me even more leftovers to choose from.

  4. Macaroni Penguin*

    Any fantastic gift ideas for a one year old? My sweet bebe will be turning one year old next month. Friends and family will be asking what to get him for his birthday.
    We’re not focused on materialism. Which has resulted in me just not knowing what the heck cool stuff is out there. Help?

    1. TeaFiend*

      We try to not buy ‘stuff’ for our nephew cause we know he’ll have plenty of toys from everyone else that he doesn’t need and won’t play with. We opt for things that either make his parents life easier (like food subscription service) or consumable goods that won’t break/end up at a rubbish tip somewhere. This year we went for tickets to the zoo. Next year maybe the same, maybe tickets to some sort of production/event.

      1. Jackalope*

        On a related note, I know a lot of people use zoo passes even for little kids so they can go run around and watch the animals. Would some sort of pass work? Obviously this would be dependent on location, but if you have a zoo, children’s museum, etc, having someone get you a year’s pass could be a fun gift.

        1. Clisby*

          When we lived in Atlanta, we were in the Grant Park neighborhood (that’s the park where Zoo Atlanta is located) and were never without an annual zoo pass. We probably went to the zoo at least every other week, since we could walk to it and didn’t feel any pressure to stay a long time to justify the cost. Our kids loved it. Here in Charleston, we did the same with annual passes to the aquarium and the county museum. These are great presents.

        2. Dicey Tillerman*

          My best friend moved 2000 miles across the country with her 3.5 year old in an emotional whirlwind. One of the things I bought her during that time was a family pass to their local zoo, and then when I got to go visit, we took her kiddo there. It was a really great memory maker for the two of us, and kiddo turns 5 this week.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        If you or anyone you know has recently purchased a new appliance, those extra huge cardboard boxes are the BEST toy known for kids of any age. You can cut out doors and windows and draw on it
        Failing that, seconding the pass suggestions. I’m in New England and we have wonderful children’s museums, a science museum with a great kids section and a super aquarium

      3. Hello sunshine*

        This is great! Membership to the kids museum. Tickets to childrens theater. Art supplies. I love crayola ultra washable everything. Don’t be fooled by regular washable. It’s not as good. A big roll of paper or any boxes laying around.
        Also magnatiles. Duplo. And I’m attaching this fort kit.

    2. 2 Geriatric Cats*

      Maybe not an impressive gift, but 1 year olds love those nesting cups. They’re colorful, they stack, they nest, they’re great in the tub or at the beach or park. They have numbers & colors. They’re inexpensive.

      Also, the Peggy Rathman book, “Ten Minutes ‘Till Bedtime.” Very few words, but new things are discovered each time you read it.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        at one, my son’s favorite toys were his nesting cups and a plastic ball. His second favorite was my Tupperware. My parents spent a good chunk of change on an elaborate ride on toy that he sat on exactly once (to take a photo) and then wanted nothing to do with it. Simple is better!

    3. Educator*

      My fairly anti-materialism family started suggesting college fund contributions when I was about that age. Once I was old enough to open the cards myself, they explained to me what they were doing with the checks, how my money was growing, and what it meant for my future options. And boy, was I glad about all of this when I was 18! I think it directed some grandparent gift giving energy away from toys and clothes that I might not have loved anyway. And it resulted in some very cute thank you card photos of me in various college onesies—in addition to a fantastic college education.

      1. Macaroni Penguin*

        Ohhhh now that’s an idea. The sweet bebe has an RESP for Future Schooling. Maybe we can redirect some gift giving enthusiasm in that direction.

        1. Jay*

          DO IT. My parents were generous enough to fund a 529 plan for my daughter starting when she was a year old. They stopped contributing when she was 6 and my dad died, and it was still enough to make our lives SO MUCH EASIER when she went to college. If your relatives will do this, it’s a great thing.

      2. Another mom*

        At one my kid (who’s two) started being fascinated by vehicles ( easy-to-roll cars or anything with wheels), balls (especially if small and slightly noisy, ping pong balls are great when they stop biting everything), and especially loved picture books with photos (you know those books with a few labeled photographs per page – drawings interested him later. People/babies, vehicles, animals and familiar everyday things he loved best).
        He could make animal noises before talking so books that encouraged that were (and still are) a hit.
        Also musical books (classical music or songs but pre recorded songs annoy me, lol). Grund has great sound and music books with emotions and other great topics.
        You can also buy (or make) small translucent panes of a given color so that they see everything in that color when they look through it. Big hit and now he figures out that yellow+blue equals green by putting them on top of each other.

        Between 11 and 16 months or so he also tried to sit in any box that fit and wanted to be pushed. We tied a cloth “rope” around a wooden wine case and pulled him around inside.
        He’d also gleefully empty out anything he could (still does but now he puts the stuff back! Lol), and happily spent ages in the bath pouring out water from small plastic cups.

        For “non stuff” activities.
        Ball pit, trip to anywhere with small animals (chasing after pigeons and ducks is more fun than the zoo at that age) , short shows with light and sound effects. Playing with sand (a small cup and shovel go a long way), crawling on pillows or anything that gets him to climb.

        Some kids start really dancing at that age if you find the right type of song (in our case one voice max, a few recognisable instruments as opposed to an electronic mix, preferably repetitive and not too fast).

        But honestly, a box full of spoons and small light stuff that makes some noise when banged together is great at that age (unrolling toilet paper : awesome).

        You can also send all your pictures to willing relatives and tell them to make you an album if you’re fine with surrendering a bit of control over the results.

        And pat yourself on the back for having gone throught the awesome and exhausting first year period^^

        1. No smart name ideas*

          We gave my niece two gifts when she turned 1: a box that was nearly as big as she was to play in, and mommy and me swimming lessons at a local Y. The box was later turned on it’s side and became a cave, fort, etc. And she swims like a fish.

      3. BadCultureFit*

        While I agree with this in theory, be sure to strike a balance. My mom often says how she wished her own father had given her an actual present now and then so she could have something to hold on to when he died. Her comment always sticks with me when it comes to my own kids’ birthdays!

    4. Bluebell*

      I feel like board books are always a good present. That way if bebe teethes on one, there are others to enjoy.

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

        Love board books! I particularly like *The Monster at the End of This Book* — you can have the kid rip open each board page as Grover begs the kid not to. Spoiler Alert: The monster at the end of the book is just lovable, furry old Grover himself!

        1. Macaroni Penguin*

          Hahaha! I had that book when I was a kid. It made me happy.I’d forgotten about it until now.

      2. Tierrainney*

        I loved and my kids remember the board books written by Sandra Boynton. I just ordered some for my great nephew.

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      We live in Ireland, so it’s often rainy. We gave our son a spendy rainsuit, sized a little bigger than needed. It had a jacket and dungarees. He wore it for three years, and it was pretty much the reason we were able to go outside with him for a couple of those summers, which had wild rainfall totals. Also a good pair of rainboots, although they outgrow those pretty quickly. My mom always gave people gift cards to shoe stores, particularly stores that specialized in kid shoes. Kids always need new shoes, and good ones can be spendy.

      Another great gift are memberships – zoos, museums, open farms, indoor play areas. The lovely thing about a membership is that it lets you go to a place often, but also leave whenever you need to without feeling like you haven’t got your money’s worth of the admission tickets.

      1. TechWorker*

        +1 to the years membership, also lets you go there just for a picnic or whatever rather than feeling like you have to rush round everything & spend the whole day.

    6. krsrch*

      My 1 year old is obsessed with balls and little cars he can “drive”. He got a couple ball-goes-in-hole toys for his 1st bday and is still playing with them 10 months later.

      Books and/or clothes in the next size up are always winners too, for any occasion!

    7. Eli*

      My granddaughter will be turning one soon and I’m planning to give her a little wooden rocking horse suitable for toddlers (her mother had one as a child and played with it for years). Her great-grandmother is giving her a wooden baby swing to hang from a tree in the garden, but it might be possible to suspend it from the ceiling somewhere if you don’t have a garden.

    8. Stitch*

      For toys, a big sensory ball, a stuffed animal. I’ll tell you now anything that makes noise will be a hit.

      Stickers and anything consumable are good.

      People will always say “you can never have too many books” but you really can, particularly as small kids will get absolutely fixated on a few books at a time (my 3 year old is still obsessed with Where the Wild Things Are).

      You’re still in the rapid growth stage so clogoof.

      My kid was 1 when COVID hit so people who couldn’t see him just sent a ton of stuff so I definitely have a clutter problem.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Anything that makes noise will be a hit.

        For oldest niebling, first grandchild, my in-laws bought a rocking horse. “How nice!” the adults said to each other as we admired the craftsmanship. “There’s a switch down here that causes it to make an electronic neighing noise!” said my toddler niece to herself, switching it on less than a minute after it was presented to her.

    9. Venus*

      Agreed with the experiences, including memberships. Here, the family museum passes are worth it if a family plans to go at least 3 times in a year. My 4 year old family member loves the science classes near her so I’ll give a gift certificate for future classes. Swimming lessons, art classes, maybe a gift certificate to a place that offers a lot of options.

      Ways to show appreciation are to send photos of you enjoying the activity, or to call and have child talk about how much they enjoyed it (not yet, obviously, but at the right age). It really isn’t necessary, but I think that some people aren’t as excited about gifting experiences and hopefully this would encourage the doubters.

    10. Goose*

      My biggest piece of advice is, if your family and friends don’t get weird about him opening the gift in front of you, is to hold back some of the physical items and toys to pull out throughout the year when you need a bribe or a reward. Too many toys can be overwhelming and get lost in the shuffle, so this way you can bring out a toy from Aunt Suzie in January and make it special

      1. SallyAnn*

        My mother used to rotate toys fr or my siblings and me. She’d clear out the ones we didnt play with much and put them in the attic, then bring out a couple at a time a few months later. It was like getting new toys all the time! (And it was easier to keep the “current “ batch tidied up)

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      If there’s a local museum or zoo, a membership there can be wonderful. We really used those when my kids were small, especially when with first we lived in the city. One big appeal is you don’t have to keep going around until you “get your money’s worth”–you can stop in for 35 minutes and then leave if that’s what makes sense today.

      At this age with oldest we had memberships at the science museum, aquarium, children’s museum, and fine art museum. Don’t discount the last–they had a regular live music program that attracted a scattering of museum goers rather than 300 kids and their minders, which was often true of the stuff aimed at small children which just wound up being overwhelming for her. She would have a cookie and juice, I would have a cookie and tea, and she would dance to the harpist. The docent committee and guards loved her. It didn’t work as well when she turned 2 (for her, this meant a crash of her long attention span), but for 1.5 years before that it was a great fit. Which I only knew because at 5 months she decided walking dangling from fingers was her thing, and I was getting extremely bored going up and down our apartment so gave the museum a shot one day.

      1. Macaroni Penguin*

        Fascinating! We have a music museum nearby. I’ve never thought to check and see if they have kids programming.

    12. Ranon*

      To the memberships list I’d add sculpture gardens and botanic gardens- at one they don’t need to be at kid friendly places all the time but those places are usually friendly to kiddos who are just starting walking and they’ll keep the parents’ brains from melting out of their ears. Plus seeing small children gaze in wonder at sculpture is pretty freaking cute.

      In actual stuff I quite like Fat Brain Toys for ideas, they let you search by age and it’s definitely a “I had no idea cool thing “x” existed” spot.

      In practical the time between 1-2 is a big one for starting to eat like a person so kiddo cutlery, plates, cups, etc can be handy as you move into that phase, we love Replay (you can use lids from the larger Fage yogurt containers as lids for their bowls, it’s my one true life hack).

      A ride on toy can be an awfully huge hit, and a few extra balls if you’re not already awash in them likely won’t go amiss.

    13. Annoy mouse*

      I would say if you want toys, pick things that will last and grow with them. the duplos that i got for my (now) 9y on her 1st birthday are still played with by my 5y today.

      Also, books ! I find that non-fiction books hold kids attention over a longer age range, but some classics are worth it regardless.

    14. Llama Llama*

      My go to gift for young kids is books. My favorites include Mo Willems Piggie and Gerald books or John klassen’s hat books. Both are silly fun books.

    15. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Board books are great for that age. Also, you might want to request no electronics or battery operated items – especially things that beep or make other noise.

    16. J C Books*

      My favorite gift is a water table. By summer the child can stand and enjoy it outside. Lots of pouring and sprinkling for hand eye coordination and fine motor skills.

      Step2 Tropical Rainforest Water Table | Colorful Kids Water Play Table with 13-Pc Accessory Set.

    17. Irish Teacher*

      Wonderbly has some awesome personalised books. There’s one with nursery rhymes including the child’s name. Another thing that one might be a big young for but that I would recommend is the DVD set of Balamory. It’s a kids TV show from the…early 2000s? And is one of the best preschool series I’ve seen.

    18. fhqwhgads*

      Does he have a 529? So far we’ve been telling everyone who asks what to get our will-be-one-year-old to contribute to the college fund. There’s a link and a code for others to do it directly. We point them at that.

    19. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Books are always a fun option, and especially ones intended for above his current age! Babies outgrow cardboard books pretty fast, but I still have my (nearly destroyed) Shel Silverstein books that are older than I can remember! Many kids enjoy having something read to them that they can’t manage themself.

    20. Double A*

      Ok so I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old and have perspective on this. If your get something experiential, make sure it’s something actually accessible and feasible. If someone gifted us a zoo membership, we’d use it…maybe once, because it’s far from us and the logistics of outings when babies still nap can be a pain.

      I frankly like toys! I don’t like chintzy, single purpose toys. The best toys are ones that are somewhat entertaining for the parents and/or encourage independent plat. Some toys that both my little one and big one enjoy:

      -Magnatiles! Picasso tiles are interchangeable with them and like a quarter the price. This is a toy that is entertaining for truly all ages. My husband and I enjoy building with them. With a one year old, we build stuff and he knocks them over.

      -Vtech activity desk. I was sceptical when we got it, but it’s been one of the things my daughter has spent the most focused time with and has grown from enjoying pushing random buttons to being able the accurately track letters. My son started being interested in it at about 1 year.

      1. Annoy mouse*

        Watch the magnatiles until the kids are old enough to not put things in their mouth. The magnets are tiny and can cause problems if swallowed.

        I like the activity centers – tho test them first to see how chatty they are. some are noisier / more grating than others.

    21. AnonyMouse*

      I have two kids under four. I ask for books, although it can be good to make a list if you already have a lot of them to avoid repeats. I actually liked getting some clothes for my one year old, especially nicer brands like Hanna and Kate Quinn. Toys that my kids have liked for a long time and still play with daily:
      – Wooden cars – I got some from Ikea and a wooden pull car with wooden people in it from Etsy
      – Hape play kitchen and some kitchen stuff (I gave this to my daughter at age 2 though)
      – Megablox / large legos
      – Nesting wooden boxes with shape cut outs
      – Push car – my kids don’t like strollers much, but both have loved the Step2 buggy with the wheel they can hold

    22. beach read*

      A soft book that doubles as a photo album. You can put pictures of the whole family in there and the little one will learn who they are. Plus, a book!

    23. Qwerty*

      B. Toys makes great kids toys from recycled plastic and lots of their toys have a recommended age on the packaging. Both my nephew and his parents love that brand.

      One great thing at this age is that small gifts entertain small children the most.I impulse bought the B. Toys HelloPhone ($10) for Christmas when he was 18months and it was his favorite toy of the holiday. For early birthdays, I usually do something that easy to open and play with immediately + contribution to college fund. If you spend a lot of time with the baby, look for toys that you would have fun playing with because it’s fun baby + baby gets bonding time with you!

    24. Analyst Editor*

      Luckily at this age your baby doesn’t care, so any parties you have and gifts are pretty much for you, or the future photo-op.

      Good gift ideas include good children’s books for now or the future, clothes for him to grow into (it can come in useful when poof, all the pants are too short except that 2T gift set you swore you’d never open), musical instruments for babies.

    25. JustEm*

      I have a 16 month old girl. Things we love: Sandra Boynton board books, wooden puzzles, pull along toys, rocking horse, nice quality baby glockenspiel, pretend food items (eg Melissa and Doug or Plan toys wooden food), toy trucks

        1. Edwina*

          Those are gorgeous, expressive puppets. My son had a whole raft of them, and I created elaborate, neurotic personalities for each one, and he would have a whole sort of pageant (a “bird chat” — most of them happened to be some kind of bird) every night at bedtime. Honestly, they were such complex, thoroughly badly behaved characters that I could never get rid of any of them, and still have them, even though my son is now 27. Sometimes when I’m alone in the house with them, they still have a little chat with me.

          1. Maryn*

            Our kids are in their 30s, but we cannot let go of the Folkmanis puppets. Once in a while I’ll leave two or three in the living room when they visit. Conversations between puppets ensue.

    26. Maree*

      I have four kids and I’m not so interested in ‘stuff’ so I liked toys that could be passed down, played with in lots of ways and could suit a range of ages.

      1) Wooden blocks
      2) Small train set with carriages that magnet together (not hooks!)
      3) Sandpit

      Other than this most kids like balls and story books. You’ll also get mileage out of an easel or chalk board, a roll of large paper and finger paints if you don’t mind mess.

    27. Slartibartfast*

      How about a copy of the gift giver’s favorite kids book? A well stocked library is an awesome gift.

    28. Fellow Traveller*

      Congrats on the first year!
      Things I appreciated getting the the first few years:
      -bath toys
      – good winter gear. My in laws gave us a Patagonia puffer vest in one size up, and it has been a workhorse and K never would have bought myself anything that pricy.
      – nice clothes- In our house you can never have too many pjs.
      – Mozart Cube toy
      – push or pull toys
      -anything to encourage outdoor play- balls, shovels and buckets, etc.
      – feeding supplies- cups, child sized plates, bowls, silverware, water bottles with straws (Thermos Fogo is a good one.)
      – napmat for daycare.
      -Child sized backpack
      -big ticket item- Nugget, Pikler Triangle, push trike, Melissa and Doug shopping Cart, a bike seat or trailer (if you bike), bike helmet, micro mini scooter (to grow into- our kid used hers around 18 months)
      – finger puppets or other small toys that can be thrown into the diaper bag.

    29. MacGillicuddy*

      A really good set of wooden blocks. They get used for years in different ways as the kid gets older.

    30. Gnome*

      Look at the clothes you have. probably you were gifted lots of clothes for ages NB -12mo. So, ask for 18mo and 24 mo clothes.

      The best present my kid got for the first birthday was a large cardboard box with a smiley face drawn on it. They loved that box. seriously. nobody is going to give you a box (ok, we did get one, but it was a really quirky friend). And they are pretty young for meaningful experience -type gifts. So clothes become extremely practical.

      if that’s too practical for you, board books/bath books and pushing toys (kids love pushing stuff as they learn to walk).

    31. WheresMyPen*

      I think a lovely gift for little ones is always books. Maybe ask family and friends to gift them their favourite book with a little message written inside that they can enjoy as they get older. Or gift vouchers for nice days out to somewhere he’d like, like an amusement park or aquarium or something. At one he won’t understand what he’s getting or why, so it might as well be a nice experience or something he can use for a long time.

    32. Sister George Michael*

      My friend’s family gives each one-year-old a box of tissues on their birthday—the kind that pops up. And of course the encouragement to go through the whole box. I’ve see this in person and it is magical!

  5. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’ve been reading, and give or ask for recommendations.

    I’m currently reading In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power. I’m enjoying it so far and am hoping to push through to the end soon.

    1. Bluebell*

      I just finished Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett, charming and funny, but also sad as the main character returns to her small hometown to help with her father who has dementia. Very excited that the library had the new Denise Mina, as I really enjoyed Conviction.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Aaaagh just read Conviction and Confidence in a massive binge, AMAZING. My gf and I read Confidence together on our Kindles! Loved them both.

    2. ShortySpice*

      I recently read Flying Solo by Linda Holmes and thoroughly enjoyed it. Light but not silly, still gave me lots of feels and I loved the snappy banter.

      1. Bluebell*

        I liked Flying Solo and thought it was nice that that one of the characters referred to the central characters in Evvie Drake Starts Over, her previous book.

        1. ShortySpice*

          Me too. It made me want to reread Evvie Drake (on audiobook this time because Julia Whalen is the narrator).

      2. fposte*

        I genuinely had missed that Linda Holmes (once Miss Alli on Television without Pity) has novels out! So thanks for the tip.

        1. Autumn*

          Me too! How did I not know that? Shame on this librarian. I’ve missed her voice, am psyched to read! Ah, TWOP, the Toast.net, and AAM, my internet homes over the years.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      Earlier this month, I really enjoyed “Common Decency” by Susannah Dickey, which is about two women who live in an apartment building in Belfast. Lily is grieving the loss of her mother and becomes obsessed with her upstairs neighbour, Siobhan, who is having an affair with a married man. It’s such a good book, a slow simmer of emotions and complicated characters. I also enjoyed “Good Neighbours” by Sarah Langan. A sinkhole opens up in a suburban neighbourhood and when a child is lost in it, the neighbours turn against a family and make some pretty terrible accusations. This book is great, full of flawed yet relatable characters, but is also a tough read because of the subject matter.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ooh, Good Neighbours sounds like my kind of thing. Is it thriller-y, or more literary? Or is that not the right question for this book? (I guess I think of thrillers as giving you more pleasurable excitement/schadenfreude, and literary fiction as… not making a promise to the reader that the experience will be pleasurable even if the subject matter is rough.)

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Oh thank you for defining your terms – it’s more literary fiction with a twist of thriller??? No one is entirely a hero and many people are very flawed and terrible, but you understand exactly why they are doing what they’re doing. It’s an amazingly empathetic book, in many ways.

    4. English Rose*

      I’m racing through Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver. And yes it’s supposed to be a children’s book but so what? Set in a mythical world six thousand years ago, it’s the task of a 12-year old boy and his wolf cub companion/guide to save the world from maelovant forces of evil. They’re joined by a heroic girl from a different clan, and other vivid characters.
      Just brilliant!

    5. allathian*

      Just re-read Agatha Christie’s Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? It’s one of my two favorite standalone Christie books, in that it doesn’t feature either Poirot or Miss Marple. The other’s And Then There Were None… but that’s a thriller rather than a mystery.

    6. sewsandreads*

      In fluffy romance land — The Ex Talk. Not too far through it but as I’ve just started masters (eek!) it’s the perfect antidote to intense, heavy reading.

    7. Still*

      I’m partway through “Horse” that I think someone on here recommended, I’m really enjoying all the different perspectives. I’m not usually big on books that alternate between now and the past, but this one is working for me.

      I’ve just read “Husband Material” when my library finally got a copy and it was a lot of fun!

      Oh, and I’m making my way through “The Phoenix Project” and look, I know that it’s basically an agile textbook thinly disguised as a novel, but man do I get frustrated with all the characters!

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I enjoyed the Phoenix Project for exactly what it was. All the extreme characters are extreme, but it’s more entertaining than a textbook.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Long Shadows by David Baldacci, which is the next book in the Memory Man series.

      I just finished Recursion by Blake Crouch, which I absolutely loved. It was very fast-paced and a bit mind-bending. And right before that was Upgrade, which was also great. I liked the clues that allowed me to figure out the year in which it takes place. I’ll likely read Snowbound next.

      1. Bluebell*

        I discovered Blake Crouch because of Wayward Pines, and am always glad to read his latest. I liked Upgrade a lot.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          If you haven’t read Recursion yet, you may like that one even better. Fast paced and interesting. And Crouch really knows how to evoke certain feelings.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’m enjoying HAUNTED by James Schannep, another of his wonderfully intricate choose-your-own-path books. This one’s themed on a haunted house; the protagonist is invited/challenged/dared to stay there for three days to win a million dollars, ostensibly for a reality TV show, though once you get to the actual house things seem a bit off. (All of Schannep’s “Click Your Poison” books are very good; way more characterization and plotting than is common in the choose-your-own style, easily the best I’ve seen. This one has some marvelously creepy atmospheric scenes, and some rewarding “good” options – though of course there are more not-so-good-at-all-no-no-put-down-that-ax ones!)

      And I’ll put in a plug for ANGEL FALLS by Julia Rust and David Surface, which comes out today; will be getting several copies at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival in Haverill MA (Oct. 15), where the authors (my sister and brother-in-law) will be on hand. I did read this one in early drafts, but will be diving into the official version tonight! It’s about teens in a small Massachusetts coastal town who discover a strange area in the forest that might have the power to fulfill wishes…

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I just got The Very Secret Society of Unlikely Witches (witches!) and An Immense World (animal senses!) to take on a quiet visit to relatives next week. Both look really good. I also plan to reread The Golden Enclaves, last in the Scholomance series, after popping back to reread the first two books with the events of the last in mind.

      I will put in a plug for The Epic Crush of Genie Lo and The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee, which I would be rereading this week except all this other stuff came in. It’s a duology about a high school student from the bay area who is completely focused on how she can get into a good college and escape her home town, when the monkey king shows up and wants her to help him fight demons around her academic commitments. Like Rick Riordan’s books, it’s good at drawing ancient mythology forward into the modern world, while also allowing for some “Wow, that is some bulls***” as the modern young person points out that various aspects are seriously messed up by modern standards.

      1. The cat's pajamas*

        Ooh, those sound interesting. I enjoyed the FC Yee novelizations of the Kyoshi warriors from Avatar the Last Airbender. I haven’t checked out his other stuff yet.

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      The Eye of the World (the first Wheel of Time novel). I’m enjoying it so far – about a quarter of the way in, and there’s a nice balance between the world-building and keeping the actual story moving along. It’s been a while since I read a big fantasy novel like this (I think the last one was A Dance With Dragons) so I’m quite liking having something meaty to get my teeth into!

    12. Person from the Resume*

      Just read (in preparation for December book club) Recitatif by Toni Morrison. It’s her only short story. It’s a pretty amazing “experiment” in which the main characters who we follow from a childhood meeting in a foster care to various meetings into middle age. One is white and one is black, but Morrison never reveals which is which.

      The 2022 publication has an intro by Zadie Smith which you should wait to read after because it’s a heavy analysis that gives away too much.

      Why is the deep analysis of the story the intro instead of an afterward? Who thought that was a great idea to assume the reader has already read the story?

      1. Jackalope*

        That always gets me when I read books with that sort of intro. As you pointed out, put it in the back if it’s going to be filled with spoilers and an analysis of the book. To make it worse, some intros are true intros rather that are better to read beforehand, and you can’t always tell which is which.

      2. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Love Toni Morrison! Just finished “it’s not all downhill from here” audiobook, which is read by the author. Fabulous!

    13. An Australian In London (currently in London)*

      Having devoured The Golden Enclaves I had a taste for unusual systems of magic, with great characters, great story, and female characters that didn’t make me grit my teeth at how they were written.

      I am well into The Craft Sequence by Max Gladwell. It’s a five-part series. Without spoiling anything I’ll say that magic is powered by the soul (nothing new there)… and souls are currency with everything that implies: Craftspeople (those who use the Craft) form contracts and companies to limit their liability; all sorts of magical/financial instruments exist in secondary markets; just as the movement of money adds value, the movement of souls adds value; the best Craftspeople are lawyers and forensic accountants; Gods and their priesthoods are like investment banks and hedge funds.

      It is emotionally nothing like the Scholomance books, and that’s fine with me, I am devouring financial crime whodunnits where finance = magic.

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

      Erskine Childers’s *The Riddle of the Sands*, a 1903 espionage novel. There’s a bit of heavy lifting with looooooong complex sentences and maritime and other not-so-familiar vocabulary at the beginning and a lot of map and nautical chart reading throughout, but now that I’ve gotten into it, I am enjoying it!

    15. Angstrom*

      Reread “The Code of the Woosters” which is nonstop action with most of the Wodehouse characters: Bertie & Jeeves, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Basset, Stiffy Byng, Aunt Dahlia, and more. Relentless!

        1. Angstrom*

          One of the great speeches in English literature: :-)

          …“The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting “Heil, Spode!” and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: “Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”

    16. Jay*

      Just finished “Whereabouts” by Jhumpa Lahiri for book club. Looking forward to our discussion this afternoon – I found it haunting and will likely reread it once we’ve talked about it.

      Currently re-reading some of the Sharon McCone series by Marcia Muller. I have the audiobook to “The Broken Promise Land” and re-listened to it during a long drive recently, and that got me started on the rest of them. I’m up to “Burn Out.” I usually have more than one book going at a time, so I’ll pull another book off my stack after this afternoon’s meeting.

    17. WheresMyPen*

      Just started listening to Undoctored by Adam Kay. He’s a former OBGYN in the UK who’s written books and shows about his time as a junior doctor. Equal parts hilarious and poignant.

  6. Jackalope*

    The last couple of weeks we haven’t had a gaming thread so I figured I’d start one now. What is everyone playing? As always, this is for any type of game, not just video games.

    I’m still working my way through Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. I’m getting used to the crazy play style and kind of like it now.

    1. Emmy*

      More of a FYI but from October 18 the Sims 4 base game will be free to play. Until then if you already have the game you can get the newest kit Desert Luxe for free. :)

      1. TechWorker*

        Interesting, I bought it not that long ago! Oh well. EA are getting plenty of my money still because I am absolutely sucked in by expansions. I don’t actually get that much time to play so lots still to discover with the ones I do have! currently experimenting with restaurant ownership :)

    2. Melanie Cavill*

      I’ve been playing Deathloop! It’s such a fun game. I’ve also been working on DMing a Blades in the Dark campaign for my tabletop crew.

    3. Smol Book Wizard*

      Still Genshin. Not sure how long that’s going to last, but it doesn’t show much signs of stopping… although my brother in law has repeated his offer of buying me Trails in the Sky!

    4. Bookgarden*

      Picked up Cyberpunk again in PS5 after the major kerfuffle at release and am having fun with it. I’ve also been playing Terraria and No Man’s Sky on Switch.

      For Halloween, I’ve been dabbling with Silent Hill 4 on PC but it’s a bit difficult for me to play with keyboard, so I’m going to look into a controller for it and other games. I loved the game when it came out, and I just saw the film 1408 for the first time last week and it made me want to play it again.

    5. Jo*

      Lol. I think I’ve been stuck on the same CandyCrush level all week, but its the kind of level I like (lots of explode-y even if I’m not achieving the target) that I dont mind!

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I am paused on Candy Crush and currently obsessed with a game called 1010! which is like slow Tetris

    6. Still*

      For those of you who like puzzles and escape rooms, my partner and I have been playing the scenarios from Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective – in each box you get ten cases to solve – and they’ve been fantastic. Each scenario is three to four hours of good time, and they’re perfect for two or three people. We got the green box and it’s A+++.

    7. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I’ve been playing Mass Effect 2, on my quest to bring one profile all the way through! I’ve played ME2 before this playthrough, but I only just got the DLC so I’m excited!

    8. lobsterbot*

      The Interactive Fiction competition is open for 2022. Interactive fiction is text-based games, which can vary from a closed-ended novel you read in an interactive way, to games with puzzles or story elements that change depending on what you do. IFCOMP.org does a contest every year and this year has a lot of entries ranging from 10 minutes of play to hours, and ranging in style and quality. I’m hoping to play most of them before the end of the competition and vote on them and I’ve found several I like a lot so far.

    9. Bear Down for Midterms*

      If you have a game night group with enough people to form a few teams: monikers! So much fun!

    10. Loredena*

      Stardew Valley is still my game of choice for now. I keep thinking about picking Skyrim back up but I’m not ready to spend hours on building out my mod list.

    11. Past Lurker*

      I hope A.N O’Nyme is doing well, I think they usually started this and a couple of other threads every weekend?

    12. DarthVelma*

      Welp, the MTG Commander tourney in my house picked back up this weekend. We finally cleaned the gaming table off and finished up the rubber match between Elsha and The Reaper King. And we had our first real surprise winner when one of the Elsha deck’s crazy win conditions went off. (All in one turn, play Jace, Weilder of Mysteries with text that if you have to draw a card and have no cards in your library, then you win. Then drop Leveler to remove my library from the game. Then use one of my artifacts that I tap to draw a card – and win the game!)

      Those complicated win conditions go off so infrequently that it was really fun to have it happen. But I had Reaper King going all the way to the Semi-Finals, so that blew up my tourney bracket.

  7. Emilia Bedelia*

    Between the perimenopause/menopause discussion last week and the mention above that you can get acne and wrinkles at the same time, my elders on AAM are teaching me a lot about what to expect in my future. (I’m 25.) That menopause discussion was really interesting me, it was not a topic I knew anything about or honestly had thought anything about.

    What else lies ahead that no one has prepared me for? What has surprised you about getting older? What do I need to know as I look ahead to getting older?

    1. Rosyglasses*

      One thing that surprised me was how much my skin and hair would change as I age (dryer for me) and it somehow seems to happen overnight.

      1. DistantAudacity*


        I suddenly understood body cream vs body lotion, and hair masks…

        Start paying a little attention to that in your mid-thirties (or whenever): do I need to swap some product types, and adjust accordingly

        1. JSPA*

          1. The odd blend of befuddlement; clarity; loss of unearned (and two-edged) unwitting / un-asked-for influence; and gain of hard-earned, determined internal power.

          Sure, you knew that certain (obvious) people were interested in your externals…but finding out how many were impressed by your “promise,” but only so long as that promise included a certain youth, or innocence, or nubility? Bit of a kick in the teeth. (Not merely because of the new invisibility, but the retroactive recalculation.)

          The “invisibility” is often barely figurative. Like, being brushed off the sidewalk into brick buildings or into traffic, by people coming the other way–especially walking in 2s or 3s abreast–without slowing or compacting. (Not saying this doesn’t happen to all sorts of people; but if one has been in the habit of being seen and accommodated, the change is stark.)

          Mind you, some women exude more power and successfully claim more space and courtesy as they age. (That’s the “earned” or “claimed” part of the equation.) But mere competence (or personhood) doesn’t get you there. (As plenty of people who start out being “othered” can also tell you.)

          2. how deaths land (context, familiarity, expectations)

          default at age 20: the death of a grandrelative is terribly sad; of a parent, a calamity, to the point of people not even knowing how to react; of a cohort friend, a huge shock.

          default at age 50: “wow, your granny lived to 99?” “when my father passed, it was so hard, so call if you need to chat. And Cat has a lot of executor experience from losing her moms. So sad.” “Can you believe we’ve already lost 6 classmates?”

          …and so it goes.

          3. How doctors treat your supposition that you might, after X years, know something about your own body; what has and has not helped; what symptoms seem to be correlated vs independent; and that doing your best to lead a healthy, active, independent life is a valid use of your time, and theirs.

          My PhD and a fair percentage of my professional experience has been in the biological and chemical sciences, yet I’m still presumed ignorant, now, in all the little ways I was presumed competent, at 30.

          As others have mentioned, loss of depth of field is completely different from being nearsighted or farsighted (yet comes to most) and that’s even truer of retinal degeneration in its various forms (which comes to many).

          The resulting bobbing, shifting items and fiddling, even with multifocal glasses, doesn’t help project an air of competence and control, even though the problem isn’t loss of mental acuity, it’s merely reduced depth of field / smaller and trickier functional field of view.

          (And, along those same lines…thumbs down on tests that assume manipulating or responding to shapes and stimuli test IQ separately from testing variable-depth-of-field visual perception.)

          I mean, I get it…when I was 25, and my boss spent what felt like ages turning a tube (that needed to remain frozen) to see the label, I was pretty brusque, demanding she let me read it off to her. She curtly warned me that she would laugh “not with me but at me” when I was 50, and finally understood. I never got to tell her how right she was (as she’s been dead for 20 years).

          4. repetitive strain risk applies to you. Even if you’re athletic. Wear and tear on joints and other tissues, equally so.

          5. More generally, you’ll feel better in retrospect if you judge less. Do some people “volunteer” for disease or disability or screwing up their lives? Not formally impossible…but in hindsight: when that’s what it has looked like to me, there’s almost always been something non-optional below the surface. Pretty much nobody likes to ache, or fall apart, or be hateful and hated. That doesn’t mean, “stay and wait for them to change” though; it most often means, “get out before you sustain lingering damage of your own” or “throw them a life preserver from a safe distance, so they can’t drag you down.”

          1. Grieving Sister*

            #5 should be repeated daily to everyone on this planet.

            When my brother took his life in June, it was after decades of being an active alcoholic, a year in prison for not following through on probation requirements for a DUI, and three years of being essentially homeless.

            I don’t think there has been one single person in my life who knows his story who showed any empathy at all when I told them he committed suicide. “Well, you knew it was always going to end like this,” followed by a rapid change of subject. The implication is that he deserved to die alone in a dirty motel, what with making all those poor decisions his entire life. He simply should have made different choices.

            Except, he had mental illnesses. And our healthcare and societal systems are not set up to help and support people with mental illnesses. And, though my mom and I did everything we could to help him, my brother made the choices that made sense to his brain. Just like the rest of us do every single moment of our lives.

            1. OhHi*

              “My brother made the choices that made sense to his brain.” Thank you for saying this, and I’m so sorry your brother’s memory isn’t given the grace he deserves.

              My grandmother completed suicide recently, and it’s incredibly frustrating how dismissive and judgmental people are.

              1. JSPA*

                sometimes it is hard to know what to say when the tragedy isn’t (only) in the final moments / final result, but part of a long, slow, arc that has come to feel inevitable. One way to look at it is, “they’ve been grieving all along, and they know you have, too, but they fail to grasp that the finality of death is no less of a loss of everything that could have been, for all that.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      How your muscles and joint work together, so if the muscles get weaker, the joints suffer.

      If you aren’t already exercising the muscles of your legs – either body-weight exercises or weight machines – start now and keep it up, at least a few times a week. I’ve been getting physiotherapy on my legs for 14 months because I stopped doing weights when we moved to a rural location. I was able to get away with it for about 10 years because I was running and walking regularly, but once I got into my late 40s, the running wasn’t enough.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      Also, no one told me how unpleasant the after-effects of drinking would be in my 40s. Granted, I was always a bit of lightweight, but I’d bounce back the next day after a big breakfast. Now, I pretty much never drink because it’s not worth it. Even a couple of beers and the next day, I feel like my body is full of broken glass.

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

        Also, alcohol interacts with some of the meds you might be taking as you get older. I was always a lightweight, very minimal drinker, but now I *can’t* drink without screwing up my meds, which is irritating.

          1. Random Biter*

            I mourn my peel and eat ruby red grapefruits. Also as a stick thin child, teen and young adult, I honestly thought my clothes were shrinking when the dreaded post-pregnancy body kicked in. Don’t know why I was surprised as all I had to do was look at pre and post photos of my grandma, mom, aunt, et al, but I sure was.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, I do still drink some, but it is usually 1 drinks now, maybe 2, and I try to drink in the afternoon or early evening as alcohol also makes peri-menopause symptoms skyrocket for me too which for me are much worse when I’m in bed, so I want time for the alcohol to clear before going to sleep. So many of my friends who used to enjoy a beer or wine just don’t drink at all anymore.

    4. Another mom*

      Family planning – ask yourself now some hard questions about what you want your life to look like. For those of us who wanted kids and were told in our teens that one missed pill equals a pregnancy, and that sure, you can have kids at 35, after your career launched off and all, the reality of fertility in your thirties hits hard.

      At 30-32 over half the people I know took over a year to get pregnant (few had actual up to then undiagnosed issues, most were very healthy), quite a few needed medical help.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Fertility is a fickle thing. You might be someone who has an unexpected kid at 41 (while on birth control), like my mom, or give up on IVF at age forty, like me. The problem is that you generally don’t know which category you’re going to be in until you actually get there, and age related fertility issues are a race against time.

        Freezing eggs seems to becoming more common, but it’s not the miracle tool that some people think it is, particularly if you’re freezing your eggs in your mid 30s (when the quality/quantity is already declining).

        1. Janet Pinkerton*

          Yeah, if you want to freeze your eggs, freeze them now. And remember that if you try to have a kid from frozen eggs, that necessarily means you’ll be going through IVF. And if this is relevant, google “IVF attrition” to learn more about how ten retrieved eggs can end up meaning about three embryos to transfer. Which is fine! But it’s a numbers game.

      2. 30ish*

        Anecdata: Had my son at 36 and know many people who had kids in their late thirties, even early forties (the latter had more issues conceiving and carrying to term, which is expected). 30-32? Everyone I know got pregnant within a few months, or even accidentally.
        Jean Twenge has an interesting article about this.
        Definitely don‘t have kids when you are not ready just because you are worried about declining fertility. Certainly not when you are still below 35.

        1. allathian*

          Fertility can drop very quickly too, when it does. I got pregnant with my son at 36, literally the first cycle we tried. I was definitely not expecting that. After a somewhat traumatic birth and slow recovery, I wasn’t willing to try again until about three years later. Two miscarriages and at least one chemical pregnancy later we decided to stop trying, especially when I was more relieved than sad about the miscarriages. I’m not sure I would’ve coped well with another kid in my early 40s.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            For me it was a sick dog–we’d stopped trying to have another kid after miscarriage + infertility because logic, but it was a few years later, around 40, when I was up every hour cleaning up from one end or the other of the sick puppy and walking her around the yard yet again that I thought “Wow, I am really not up for this sleep deprivation + effluvia the way I would have been in my 20s.” After that I felt a lot more at peace emotionally with the perfectly logical decision we had made.

        2. Maggie*

          Same – everyone I know in their late 20s through 35 got pregnant accidently or literally while on BC or very quickly like their first cycle. My sis and my bff both got pregnant their first cycle for their first and my bff got pregnant with her 2nd before she even had her period back (at age 35). It varies wildly front person to person! What OP wrote can be true for the person they know but it’s far from fact

          1. Velociraptor Attack*

            It’s also very possible that you just don’t know about the people who struggled to conceive, especially if they never did, since a lot of people don’t talk about it.

      3. mreasy*

        Most of my close friends with kids were mid-30s when they had their first (with a couple early 40s) and nobody I’m close to had to get IVF. In fact the 41-year-old had the easiest pregnancy of anyone based on anecdotes! Don’t not think about fertility if you want kids, but don’t panic or not live your life.

      4. Generic+Name*

        This absolutely. I had my son at 27. Got pregnant within a few months. Now I’m divorced and remarried, and my husband would be thrilled to have his own, so we’ve been not trying but not preventing. I’m 43 and have been off the pill for about 2 years now, so I’m assuming it won’t happen.

        This isn’t to say to rush out and breed with the least objectionable dude (if you’re heterosexual), but be thoughtful about partners. If you want kids, I would advise not marrying guys who aren’t sure. I know several women who were with not sure guys during their fertile years and now those relationships ended and they are not likely to have kids.

        1. Clisby*

          I would not assume pregnancy won’t happen unless you’ve had a hormone test showing you’ve gone through menopause. I had my first child at 42 and my second at 48. We were thrilled both times, but honestly were surprised at the second – we had kind of given up.

      5. Maggie*

        That’s all totally anecdotal though. My anecdotes are I really did get pregnant on the pill when I took two at the wrong time. My friend group is 32-35 and any women who have children got pregnant in 1-2 cycles. Most were shocked how quickly it happened even at 34 and 35. You very much can get pregnant by slightly messing up birth control and the majority of women 30-35 can get pregnant within a year without intervention. Women 35-40 have an 80% chance of conceiving within a year. So while I don’t doubt your anecdotes are very true for you and the people you know, they aren’t fact and I don’t think scaring people is helpful. Nor is saying you can’t get pregnant for missing a pill because you absolutely can.

        1. BadCultureFit*

          Thanks for saying this. Very very few folks in my friend group had trouble conceiving and we were all in our mid to late 30s! I got pregnant with both kids on month 2 of trying. It was one of those ‘oh wow, my birth control was REALLY WORKING’ moments.

          I just don’t want Op to be scared unnecessarily.

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

        The fertility thing can go either way — I know several people (including some relatives) who got married at 40-ish and BOOM! got pregnant on the honeymoon. However, I personally waited a bit too long to try knocking myself up with a turkey baster in my mid-forties and did not succeed.

        If it’s important to you to be a parent but you need to wait for financial or partner reasons, maybe do some planning about what alternatives you’d like to try if getting pregnant later doesn’t work. I eventually just resigned myself to accepting being childless-not-by-choice, but I do have friends who have adopted and are very happy.

    5. Aphrodite*

      How much more at peace I feel. I carry no resentment, no bitterness, no anger. If I am cut off on the freeway or someone zooms into a parking space I was waiting for or anything else, I remind myself that it’s not a big deal. And then I go on with my life.

      I don’t care about politics or social media or societal change or what is going on in the world because they are things I can do little about. I am passionate about making my own corner of the world better and I am very involved that way. But if I were to allow myself to become upset about things I have no control over then I (and my own community) lose a lot because I then withdraw inward to save myself emotionally. So I focus on what I do. For me that means no news, no television, no social media, only carefully selected shows online (and no new ones). I do not shop uselessly, nor do I ever get angry at shortages or other ridiculous nonsense. In short, my life has become an oasis of peaceful calm.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      Your ability to recover from…well, anything…goes downhill really fast after 30. In my 20s, I could live on Pop-Tarts, cheap liquor, and the occasional nap. I am 36. I require a full night’s rest, proper hydration, and other assorted old-fart comforts, else I am sincerely not right.

      Also, your eyesight is likely to go rapidly downhill in your mid-30s. I was warned, and so I wanted to see a truly dark sky for the “last time” in full resolution, booking a trip to Iceland in late March 2020. Take a guess how THAT worked out, and now it’s too late; not that I’m blind or even impaired, but I had 20/15 vision back then, and now I’ve got glasses that I actually want to wear for my own comfort.

        1. allathian*

          Most people will need reading glasses/bifocals somewhere between the age of 40 and 45. I got my first bifocals when I was 43.

      1. Bluebell*

        I had always had terrific eyesight, despite my mom warning me not to read in dim light. At around age 50, I finally needed readers. At 55, I discovered that you can get bifocal readers, and that made my life so much easier!

        1. No Longer Looking*

          I was really excited when I read that, but investigation showed that the “bifocal readers” are readers on the bottom and clear on the top. What I was picturing was a lower-power on the top (computer distance) and higher on the bottom (phone/book distance). I did find that there are transition readers, so I’m going to try out a set of those and see if they provide the effect I was looking for.

          Here’s hoping! Thanks for letting me know they exist!

          1. JSPA*

            the opposite (accountants glasses, they were called, I think?) need to make a comeback, too.

            Ability to do high work in focus, while having distance vision for climbing down, I’d pay handsomely for that.

            looks like one can get “inverted bifocals” as safety glasses.

            Maybe we need someone to make VR style glasses, but reality-reality, not virtual reality. Glasses that can track your gaze, ping the distance, and bring whatever that object is, into your plane focus. (There already are adjustable focus glasses that use torsion and fluid between the lenses.) Or let you press a button to choose to flatten the plane of focus (digital telephoto effects, basically).

        2. allathian*

          You definitely need more light to see properly as you age. I’ve read somewhere that the amount of light you need doubles every 13 years after 20. So, at 33 you need twice as much, at 46 four times as much, and at 59 eight times as much light to read comfortably than you did at 20. It’s not as bad as it sounds because the scale’s logarithmic, but nevertheless it’s interesting to think about. When we summered with our grandma as kids, my sister and I would stay up reading through much of the night. We were far enough north that while we didn’t have the midnight sun, it didn’t get quite dark, either. Just a sort of twilight.

          Forget about candlelit dinners at 50, though. I want to see what I’m eating!

      2. Voluptuousfire*

        My eyesight is roughly the same (at least prescription wise) but when I wear my contact lenses, I find it a lot harder to read small print. I have to hold whatever I’m trying to read a bit away from my face to make sure I can read it properly.

      3. Girasol*

        Yes, recovery: exercise is important but more recovery time is needed between strength training sessions.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      It’s been wonderful to be more confident in my decisions. It’s easier to know what I want, from minor things like realizing I don’t like crowds to what direction I want my life to go in. I don’t second-guess myself as I did when I had less life experience.

      It’s been freeing to not care much about what strangers or even co-workers think of me in public situations, etc. I don’t mean that I’ve decided to be rude, but rather I’m a lot less self-conscious. I wear whatever I want, speak up for myself, and generally feel more free navigating the world.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, this. You put it more nicely than I might, now that I’ve hit 50, or really when I hit 40 ten years ago, I ran out of fucks to give. I don’t go out of my way to be unpleasant to people, and I try to get along, but I wear my RBF with pride and don’t really care if people like me or not. I’m fairly self-sufficient and it helps.

        I must admit that it also helps that I’m living the life I’ve always imagined and wanted for myself; I’m happily married with a kid, which gives me personally some purpose in life, and I have a job where I feel that my skills are valued and where I can make a small difference in the world for the better. As a family we earn enough for all the necessities and many enjoyable luxuries of life. My parents and MIL are still active and independent (my FIL is in a care home for people with dementia), and our son’s grown into a really great teenager.

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      It’s a lot easier to identify films, books, TV and music that you’ll enjoy when you’re older because you have a much better idea of your tastes. That can make it easier to get stuck in a rut, but it also means that you don’t waste time on stuff that’s the 99th version of a theme that was played out years ago.

      People’s children will grow up way, way faster than you think they will.

      You care a lot less about what people think as you get older. It’s also more difficult to make friends.

      The first acquaintance or friend in your age group to die probably won’t be the person you’d guess.

      You do get more emotionally resilient as you age – at least, this was the case for me. Things that would have totally thrown me when I was younger just bother me a lot less now. I think you just gain enough life experience to know what’s a truly shattering crisis and what’s terrible but manageable.

      You will still remember and miss all your dead pets, always.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh, and I thought of one more – when choosing someone to marry or be your life partner, it should be someone with whom you’re good at making decisions. You will have to make a LOT of decisions together (where to live, whether/when to have kids etc.) and being able to make decisions you’re okay with in a rational and timely way is incredibly important.

        1. Erica*

          +1 and I would add, someone with whom you resolve conflict well. The way a couple fights and recovers from fights is way more important than I realized at 25

      2. English Rose*

        “The first acquaintance or friend in your age group to die probably won’t be the person you’d guess.” This!
        The first for me was a friend who hated her job but it was great money so stuck at it for years counting down the time she could take early retirement at 50.
        Two weeks after we all attended her big retirement party she (non-smoker) was diagnosed with an aggressive lung cancer and was dead six months later. She never got to enjoy her retirement. All those wasted years in a job she hated – a lesson for everyone!

      3. Prospect Gone Bad*

        The problem with films and tv shows is staying interested. There are only so many stories to be told. So much is a reworking of something else and it becomes too common with age to be able to predict how a show or movie will end when you’re 20% of the way through, and then you lose interest.

      4. allathian*

        Good point about the shows and books. I used to be a completist, when I started something, I wanted to finish it, even if I didn’t like it all that much. Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that if I’ve lost interest in something, it’s okay to quit watching or reading. I felt guilty the first time I abandoned a book half-way through when I was in my late 20s, but I got over it fairly quickly. Now I just shrug and think “not for me” and leave it without guilt, no matter how much other people hype it up.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yes, it’s a lovely feeling when you realise that you can just quit something which isn’t holding your interest any more.

        2. Random Biter*

          So much me. I used to feel guilty if I skipped ahead and read the last chapter in a book that I discovered didn’t interest me (especially after reading rave reviews and having a hold at the library for weeks) just so I could see how it ended and toss it in the return pile. No longer.

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I once heard someone say that after about 35 every injury you get is basically permanent! Not sure id go that far but the ability to bounce back does lessen – the knee you busted aged 20 and two months later you’d never know, differs from the knee you busted age 40 which still bothers you years later when you’ve been on your feet all day or sitting in a cramped seat.

      Your tolerance for other people’s BS may and/or your inclination to do things because others are doing them, may well go down. I loved hitting my thirties because I felt I didn’t have to pretend I like nightclubs any more – I am a very sociable person but I like to chat, I don’t like dance music and I am good for nothing after about midnight. Similarly, I have cut out a “friend” or two because at best they added nothing and at worst were a bit toxic; in my20s I would have been more afraid, of awkwardness, the opinions of mutual friends etc.
      Assuming from your name you identify as female and have the hormones to match; start carrying tweezers in your handbag because your chin will probably start to try to grow a goatee and those odd little bristles are annoying!
      My period is still around (F44) but it is much shorter; done and done in a couple of days and cramps are very rare. My hair is less greasy and so is my skin so it’s clearer – I think this is pretty common.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I go to a beautician every 5 or 6 weeks, and it was the one appointment I refused to give up even during lockdown (because beauty salons never closed here), even if I had to reschedule sometimes because I had symptoms. Even when I was wearing masks everywhere in public, getting rid of my facial hair made me feel so much better about myself. I’m sort of glad that it’s blond rather than dark, like the rest of my hair. OTOH, if it had been dark or black, I could’ve had it lasered away. Expensive? Yes. Painful? Probably. Worth it to me? Absolutely!

        Many people get more hirsute when they’re pregnant. I’m one of those 5% who remain hirsute even afterwards. I’ve been dealing with this issue since I was 37.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          FWIW, I’m about halfway through with laser treatment, and I am happy that I did it. Not sure it’s actually helped with my lady beard – though it might just be thickening faster than the laser can kill it off. However, my legs do seem to be getting 10-15% less hairy with every treatment, such that I might actually be razor-free* by the end of my treatment package. The armpits are coming along more slowly, but I can imagine buying a second package for pits alone and getting them sorted.

          It’s not exactly pleasant, but it’s tolerable, and numbing cream is an option. I do use numbing cream, but only because I’m ticklish and thus found it hard to lie still, not because it actually hurt.

          * Okay, I was razor-free before I started; I’m lazy and very prone to ingrown hairs. But I’m approaching the point where people can’t tell, at least from a distance.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Gee, I wish I’d been able to wait until 35 for that issue. They’re permanent now. :(

        Can’t wait for grease reduction, though! I can look forwards to that!

      3. Flash Packet*

        I’ll be 56 next week and still haven’t gotten chin hairs BUT… I do get those weird white/clear hairs that grow 1-3 inches overnight. Like, putting on eye makeup (using a 5x mirror! lol) on Tuesday and everything’s fine. Pull that same mirror out on Wednesday morning tho, and — bam! — there’s that effing hair, growing from below my eyebrow near my nose.

        Sometimes the hair has popped up in the middle of my cheek or along my jawline, but it’s usually below my eyebrows.

        You don’t want to be the person on the receiving end of what one letter writer sent in recently here: Someone says, “Hey, you’ve got a dog hair on your face, let me get it,” but the ‘dog hair’ is anchored into your skin, which you both discover as soon as they try to pick / brush it off.

    10. English Rose*

      Er… the effect of gravity on a full bust is not to be trifled with as the years go on! There was a separate discussion in a recent letter about someone who can’t wear a bra because of sensitivity. Nowadays I can’t NOT wear a bra because I really need it to hoist the girls up comfortably!
      Also a tip: as well as your face, use sun block routinely on that triangle of skin below your collar bones that’s revealed if you wear a v-neck or similar. The skin there is really thin and wrinkles easily. One of my “I wish I’d done that” things.
      But I’ve also been surprised by how good it feels growing older, and how much more confident I feel.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes. I’m fat/obese and my cup size is FF. If I didn’t wear a bra, I’d slouch, and my breasts would rest on my stomach. Mine have always been fairly pendulous anyway, and this hasn’t changed with age, at least not for the better.

      2. Random Biter*

        So this reminds me of recent bra-fitting battles at home. Now that the girls are tired rather than perky every time I try to measure (lost a bit of weight) for new bras I have to wonder…am I supposed to measure around where the nipples *are* or for where I’d like them to be?

    11. Janet Pinkerton*

      Regarding childbirth and raising a baby:
      Strength training (lifting heavy weights) meant I was really equipped for delivering a baby. I had heard a lot about how some people are afraid to push hard enough, or they have incontinence issues afterwards. But from lifting heavy, my pelvic floor was ready for the task. And strength training has helped with a lot of my aches and pains of growing older.

      Regarding friendships: depending on where your life has taken you so far at 25, you might have spent most of your life with people who are very similar to you. That can shift with time, especially as you are in the workforce for longer. It’s a real joy to have friends or work friends who are very different.

    12. StellaBella*

      For me (am age 53 now and a woman), the changes were more internal in terms of being more confident in my life and not giving a dang about other people’s opinions and being able to use my voice to stand up more for what I believe. In terms of physical changes – do your health checks. Know what is normal for you and what is not in terms of overall health. And, exercise and brush your teeth and floss every day. These things will help you stay around longer.

    13. Asenath*

      I care less about fitting in, doing the conventional thing – but on the other hand, I was accused of that as a child. Maybe it’s just more noticeable now. I’m more accepting of my own faults and failures, I think. More at peace with myself. But it’s always a work in progress – I certainly have not become some serene and wise person!

      And small financial decisions early in life make a big difference now, when working full-time is just too much. I’m doing just fine, but I cringe when I think of how little I put aside for retirement in my early working years. I think I assumed I’d never live long enough to use it, and anyway I always seemed to have more immediate need for the money, or what seemed like a real need back then.

      1. SpellingBee*

        This! Start saving for retirement NOW. If your employer has a 401(k), contribute something, anything, especially if they match your contributions. Otherwise open an IRA at Schwab or similar and start putting money into it. Every time you get a raise, dedicate a portion to your retirement account. The wonders of compound interest will mean that you’ll be in a much more comfortable place come retirement than if you’d waited until later to start investing, even if you can’t put much away right now.

              1. Clisby*

                Fifthing! And if your company matches some part, do your best to contribute enough at least to max that out. It’s like earning extra interest right off the bat.

                1. specialK*

                  Sixthing!!! Start saving for retirement now, compounding is magic.. Future you will be so very grateful!

              2. No Longer Looking*

                And yes, do NOT NOT NOT run up your credit cards. You lose most of your money when younger to credit card interest and rent. Absolutely get a credit card (with no annual fee), but pay it off every month, and don’t charge more than you can pay off.

                1. No Longer Looking*

                  Also speaking of debt, don’t take out more loans for school than you expect to receive in one full year of income. The only things that you should consider having that much debt for are secured debts (car, house, things you can sell back to pay off all or most of the loan if things go sideways).

        1. Kay*

          Also – an HSA. If you are healthy and can afford to – open one, contribute the max amount, invest it, and don’t use it till you retire. It is free money – what you put in is reduced from your income (so you pay less taxes now) and you don’t have to pay taxes when you use it. After a certain age (65 I think) you can use it for ANYTHING!!

          The nice thing about this is that if you do come into a medical situation when you are younger – though you can’t pull it out like you could a 401k, you can pay for medical bills without penalty. If you let this grow till you retire you won’t ever have to pay tax on any of it – not when you put it in, not on the gains your investments made, not on when you spend – truly free money (aside from a few dollars a month in statement fees which your investments should cover).

    14. mreasy*

      The day I turned 30 I felt like a weight had lifted from my shoulders. No more pressure to be a young precocious…something. When I turned 40? I felt a bit more mixed, but now that I’m well into my 40s, I am absolutely more settled, happier, and more able to take meaningful action than I have ever felt before. I’m no longer anxious about being too much of a homebody or having embarrassing hobbies or whatever insecurities bubbled under the surface. It’s not perfect by any means (would I like fewer wrinkles? sure), but overall I feel happier and healthier than ever. Plus I can finally afford the blonde hair of my dreams, and I love my personal style.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I am so jealous. I know that I don’t have enough time to try to be a young precocious whatever, but the pressure is intense.

      2. Girasol*

        Yes! I was surprised at 21 to discover that I didn’t feel like a grownup at all. But there comes a tipping point along the way when you realize that you’re still thinking (at least to yourself,) “Look at me! See what I did? See how grown up I can be?” and you realize that you’re way too old for that. It feels like losing youth but also gaining the power to be the authority figure for your own life. Maybe that’s not about old age. Maybe you got there at 22. But I was this-many years old when I finally got there (late bloomer, you know) and it was rather a revelation.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      I was surprised by how quickly it snuck up on me! My drivers license says I’m 53, but I could swear I was in my 20s only a couple years ago.
      Also, the best practical advice on physical aging I got was to continue whatever skincare (toner, moisturizer, sunscreen) I use on my face all the way down my neck and at least to the top of my decolletage. (Grandma forgot to add that gravity will increase the size of the “above-boob” area, so this requires additional product after 35 or so.)

      1. time for cocoa*

        A dermatologist told me “your face ends at your nipples” and that is how I’ve rolled ever since. It’s a bit of a squeeze if you use pricey products, though; the face is a lot smaller than the neck/chest.

      2. A Frayed Knot*

        Exactly this! At 61, my face is relatively unchanged from my “younger days” but my neck…Yikes!

        1. Random Biter*

          ::sigh:: the dreaded turkey neck. It was like I just woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and was appalled. WTF?! And there are no beauty products to fix that one.

    16. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I knew my body would stop looking and feeling indestructible at some point, but it surprised me how early it started happening.

      Adult acne hit me, like clockwork, the year I turned 30. I barely had any spots throughout my entire teens and 20s, so it was a complete surprise and I was very unprepared for managing it.

      This year I turned 35 and a whole new series of bodily malfunctions cropped up with no warning. Mostly stuff that creates lots of discomfort day to day but doesn’t have a clear diagnosis, and that I’d never heard my elders, or even anyone in my age group right now, talk about. So I also get the feeling of being completely alone with weird symptoms, which of course can’t be true. It’s exhausting, and I still feel way too young for this crap.

      1. Filosofickle*

        At 38 I broke. Sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and vertigo. A decade later I specialize in unlikely injuries. I definitely didn’t do enough to keep my body strong.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        This one is so true. I got full blood work and I was a little low on a hormone here or two (don’t want to go into details here) but nothing striking. It was frustrating to get told I am so healthy when I have so many problems that don’t have any specific cause we can identify. Maybe it’s food? Chemicals? Who knows

    17. No smart name ideas*

      Shrinking is a thing—and Pilates can help ward it off/lessen its effects, but nothing stops it. Because of Pilates I was the last of my friends to shrink—two went from 5’5” to under 5’3” during their early 50s. I went from 5’5” to 5’4.25” between 58-61.

      Easiest way to lift my spirits was to have almost every sleeveless top/dress I own taken up at the shoulders by 3/4 of an inch—it’s made a world of difference since it’s not me that’s baggy/saggy as much as all that extra fabric.

    18. Chauncy Gardener*

      The hair and skin getting soo much drier, seemingly overnight, is a real thing. I used to have to wash my hair daily, now maybe twice a week. Washing my hair at night and sleeping with conditioner in it really helps my hair look and feel less dry.
      Keeping up with cardio and weight bearing exercise is key, if you can. My metabolism basically stopped when I hit menopause and it is so hard to take weight off now.
      For me, keeping up with vitamin and mineral supplements has been very important. I wish someone had told me that one yogurt a day isn’t enough calcium to fend off bone loss!! I have osteopenia in a couple of places (pre-osteoporosis) and it is now stabilized because I take a couple of calcium supplements over the course of each day. But geez, I wish I’d started that at least in my 40’s if not earlier!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Also, I just love the feeling that I don’t give a rat’s hoot about what other people think of me. For me, that built up slowly maybe starting in my 40’s. Wish it had started when I was 15!
        I’ve learned to choose my battles. “Not my circus not my monkeys” is a wonderful mantra.
        And what another commenter said the other day about figuring out how far you can reach out of your own canoe to help someone without capsizing yourself is very key. I’m a very caring/helping person and it took a long time for me to realize I can’t care more about someone’s life situation than they do!

    19. NorwegianTree*

      Regarding pregnancy : it is a lot more common to have a miscarriage than people think. I had one at 11 weeks with my first pregnancy, and I told everyone I was close to, as well as work. I was then told by quite a few people I know that it had happened to them as well, and some even had to have an abortion because the featus would not survive. But noone was talking about it, and I think I would have been better prepared for the possibility if I had known it was that common. I think about 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (some happen so early that people think it is just a heavy menstruation). Got pregnant again a cycle after, and the resulting child is now 2 years old

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I and my two sisters-in-law–none of us related by blood–have each had a miscarriage. It is really common. (I had to have a D&C because my body was not expelling the dead fetus; at the other end one sister-in-law had to go to the ER because she was bleeding so much.)

        Because the first two pregnancies went fine, we had started telling people near the end of the first trimester, just before I learned on the ultrasound that I had miscarried. Meaning there were a lot of awkward “Congratulations, heard you were expecting!” “Actually not any more” conversations, and so in hindsight I really saw where the “Don’t say anything until 2nd trimester” rule came from–it’s hard to keep getting sandbagged by grief as you explain to one more person. Not saying “Never announce before month 4” but “If someone doesn’t announce until month 4, don’t critique them.”

        1. Random Bystander*

          Oh, so much–I had two pregnancy losses prior to my first successful pregnancy (he just turned 29), but early in that pregnancy I had had spotting, and the resulting testing and bedrest requirements meant telling my workplace sooner than I wanted. But by the time I returned, people had gotten the wrong information (that I had lost that one also). Really difficult and awkward–because of the prior two first trimester losses, I hadn’t intended to tell until I reached second trimester. One of the pregnancy losses was early, rather unremarkable; the second was one of those horrific things where I went to the ER, and when I stood up from triage … well, let’s just say that hearing “Dr So-and-so” being paged to come to the ER stat, knowing that it’s for you–that is terrifying. I even bumped ahead of the stabbing victim the police had brought in.

          There was another loss between my firstborn and my secondborn, but that was so early (6 weeks) that the only thing I had to deal with was an appallingly horrific alleged medical person (nurse who was going to give me the rhoGam shot) who didn’t like that my family planning method was NFP who actually said “You need to pick something more reliable, you can’t rely on having miscarriages.” What kept me from punching her through a wall is still a mystery to me, though my outraged yelling did get her removed from the room and someone else administered the shot. (Modern methods of NFP are extremely reliable–and can also be used when the desire is to achieve, rather than avoid, pregnancy.) I did manage two more successful pregnancies after that third loss. Then my body decided to really mess with me, and after menopause I developed uterine cancer (now 16 months cancer free).

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Want to add–when a young person in our family died suddenly, it was surprising how many people in our circle shared a similar experience. It wasn’t talked about not because of shame or secrecy, but because it was very painful and so not pulled out in regular light conversation. It came out if their experience might help comfort us as we went through it.

        I think women often don’t talk about miscarriage because it’s one of the worst things that’s happened to us.

        1. allathian*

          I got pregnant in the first cycle we tried when I was 36. I had a miscarriage when I was 40, a chemical pregnancy when I was 42, and an unplanned pregnancy that ended in miscarriage when I was 44.

          Especially with the last one, I was more relieved than sad about the miscarriage, and took that as a sign to ensure that I don’t get accidentally pregnant again. I was sad about the first miscarriage, but I hadn’t told anyone except my husband about the pregnancy, so it was easier to deal with it.

    20. The Other Dawn*

      Save money for your future, but don’t scrimp and save to the point where it sucks the joy out of life. Make sure you enjoy some of it now because you can’t take it with you. I know too many people who scrimped and saved and sacrificed all their lives , often to the point of it being ridiculous, so they can have a big retirement nest egg and take that one big trip once they retire. Then they retire and six months to a year later they pass away, or they start having major medical issues to the point where they can’t do any of the things they dreamed of doing, or something catastrophic happens.

      Also, don’t waste your time and energy worrying about the things you can’t change. Focus on the things you CAN change.

    21. Falling Diphthong*

      On the positive side–(and having typed that, weirdly it is often presented as terrible)–I really love that my kids are moving out and building their own lives and doing things on their own. (Oldest is in grad school, youngest is finishing undergrad.) They are doing things that I would not have done, that they are passionate about. I feel like we have a really loving relationship–my oldest has commented on this favorably a few times, comparing it to the stresses she now observes within many of her friends’ families, so I definitely don’t take it for granted. And I feel like a good part of it is down to her really working at building those adult relationships.

      People change as we get older, relationships change over time for many reasons, and these can be wonderful things. It can open up new areas for you that you didn’t dream of 10 years ago.

    22. Not So NewReader*

      People here have many so many good points. I have experienced so much of what everyone is saying.

      In high school there was the “In Crowd”. ugh. I was not with the “in group”. I had good friends and we stuck together for all those years. But the “in group” reminded me of everything I was not and did not have.

      This fades and then finally disappears. Even the adult version of “keeping up with the Jones” peters out. My give-a-damn broke in my 30s by the time I hit 40 it was totally gone. (It may have gone sooner, but I did not really notice. Life was too busy to notice. I hit 40 with a big grin because it was gone-gone. I felt free on the inside. Free of the stupid ideas I used to think of.)

      One thing I don’t see mentioned is passing of elders. This could be family or it could be people who we are just close to. We don’t think about how much they anchor us, they can be a port in the storm or just a quiet reassurance.
      I learned with watching my father age, that it’s super important to keep adding people to our lives. My father lost his elders around 40-50 years old. It aged him. Then his peers started passing. He grew lonely but it was a quiet lonely because he would never say. However, you could see his loneliness and sorrow on his face. I learned a big lesson.

      Take your time, carefully select new people to add in your life. Start now and make it a life habit. A good rule of thumb I wish I had learned much earlier is that good people lead us to more good people. Go meet your friend’s friends. Join a group or a volunteer org and meet people.

      My friends have saved my butt as a widow on my own. I have an endless source of ideas, cost cutting ideas and a much higher awareness of what is going on in my community. We all share things with each other- “This isn’t working out for me, would you like to try it?”. I had one friend who had a few special items that she was not interested in getting money for but rather more interested in finding people who would actually use them. I was able to help with that. The items went to people whose faces lit up. You can’t put a dollar value on these connections.

      Your network of good, reliable people becomes more and more important as you age. This is stuff that money can’t buy.

      Another tidbit I have is to watch your elders. Try to find patterns of what works and what does not work for them. Adopt the good ideas for yourself and apply them to your life in your own way.
      One of the best things I have found is having friends that are about 10 years older than me. It startled me to think of them as my peer group, initially. But after a while it became normal to me. What is great about this group of people is you can really see the things that might be of concern to you in 10 years and start mulling over what to do now. You can also watch them handle stuff, which will shorten your learning curve. And you get to tell other friends what has been shared and in turn you shorten other people’s learning curve.

      Health. What everyone said is true. We start seeing that we don’t bounce back the way we used to. My uncle said a cold that used to last a few days would go on for a week even longer. He was 70 at the time.
      If you do nothing else, build a water habit. I got over my stupid self and started measuring it out in the morning. I know this is how much I have to drink. I went on to decide that I want x amount finished by noon and y amount finished by dinner. This leaves me a little to finish off after dinner and less midnight runs to the bathroom.

      You will notice less aches and pains. Your skin and hair will look better. (Worried about face wrinkles? Use that as a reminder to hit the water bottle.) Your mind might even feel sharper. Keep in mind that coffee, soda, fruit juice and so on are not water. Only water is water. In order to get in my water quota for the day many of these other things had to fall by the wayside because dang! I felt full. Oh yeah, thirst can masquerade as hunger. Sometimes we think we are hungry and the actual problem is thirst.

      And last. I was surprised by finding out how much of my stuff I do not need/use. It was jarring to realize how much money I wasted on things that did not amount to much in my life. The mildest caution I can say here, is be prepared for you to change your mind about stuff. Be prepared that Item You Thought You Would Never Get Rid Of, gets tossed out at age 40 or so. This happens for a lot of reasons, but primarily because what we need changes and what we value changes. It’s okay to let things go as you go through the seasons of your life.

      1. MJ*

        If you are like me and just don’t like water… try adding fruit. I cut wedges of lime or dice cucumber or watermelon in large chunks and freeze them. I then add a few of these “frozen fruit cubes” to my water glass at the start of the day and keep topping up as I drink.

      2. Lemons*

        ‘Only water is water’.
        This is absolutely untrue. The water content of most drinks isn’t negated by their other ingredients.
        And this is absolutely medical advice.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Juice, tea, coffee, seltzer, etc all count, yes. And you can get some hydration from fruit, soup, etc. And I’m a person who really loves water.

        2. Clisby*

          Yes. I’ve heard people say this before, and it’s just irrational. Water is water. It doesn’t matter whether it comes from drinks, fruits, vegetables … it’s still water.

    23. Annoy mouse*

      The things you shake off now without blinking – staying up too late (or awake all night), falls/strains, will get much harder to recover from. Start good habits now.

    24. Just a name*

      Prepare to become invisible. Most people look right past you. Turned 60 this year and it was strange to realize this.

      1. Flash Packet*

        The invisibility is so effing *freeing*, though! .

        No more, “Smile, pretty lady!” No more boobs-to-toes-to-boobs visual assessment from strangers. No more worrying if I’m dressed right for the occasion.


        As someone who started modeling in my early teens and who routinely — through my 30’s — got stopped on the street to either be told I should be a model/actress or asking if I was someone famous, being invisible is *amazing*!!

    25. fposte*

      My armpit hair has largely given up, or at least fallen below what I can see–it’s just some soft fuzz now. Not true of the leg hair but there I have largely given up, so I am happily shaving-free.

      1. Quinalla*

        I have the opposite (I’m not complaining!) – my leg hair is basically gone and since it is blond, I don’t shave my legs anymore. Armpit is thinner, but that is the one spot I still shave.

    26. Voluptuousfire*

      My skin gets dehydrated more easily. I’ve noticed that on my face. Also my skin texture seems to have changed. It’s less smooth now.

      Ditto to the alcohol. I no longer drink and realized how I was dehydrated after two glasses of wine. It was amazing! No more hangovers. If I start thinking “oh, maybe a nice glass of something” I remind myself “do you like hangovers?” The answer is no so I stick with a diet coke or seltzer, or a mocktail if they have them.

      My story is a little different. I live with my family until my dad passed in 2020. It’s definitely been interesting finding myself as an adult woman in her 40s during the Panini.

    27. Voluptuousfire*

      One piece of advice I would recommend as a younger woman is invest in good shoes. Do not bother with the cute cheap flats from Target that are $20. Spend a little extra money and get the flats that are $100, if you can afford it. Also make an effort to find out what your actual shoe size is. I know that sounds weird, but for so long I bought random cute shoes in between a 9 and a 10 that I never ended up wearing because they didn’t fit. It was a waste of money and only now at 42 I finally figured out my shoe size. It’s still varies a bit but at least if I know I get a 9W or 9 1/2, it’s more likely to fit since I now understand things like a wide toebox end the shoe being wide enough for my toes to be able to lay flat.

      1. cat socks*

        I spent my 20s in cute shoes that were uncomfortable. Heels don’t work for me, so I switched to flats. Now I WFH and have started expanding my sneaker wardrobe.

        Also, your feet can change size. My 6.5 size shoes are feeling snug and I’ve had to replace my workout shoes.

    28. matcha123*

      I’m about 14 years older than you, OP and don’t see myself as super old, but when I was 25 I definitely couldn’t picture myself at this age.

      I would say that a lot of the stuff I heard from older women/media as I was growing up was very specific to people who had experiences and so on that I didn’t have access to or that I was doing differently.

      I was in a lot of extracurricular sports in elementary school and heard that if I kept up with my stretching, that would benefit me when I got older. Although I haven’t really participated in organized sports since middle school, I do try to keep up with the stretching I did at that time.
      I walk all the time, too. And I feel that that has helped to keep me healthy.

      Same with sun screen. I’ve been trying to wear it almost daily (since mostly being indoors due to the pandemic I kind of stopped, but restarted because even though I use UV blocking curtains at home, some does get through).

      My theory since about middle/high school has been that our current lifestyles show up on our bodies 5 – 10 years later. So if you’re 25 now, how you treat your body now will be reflected in your body when you turn 30ish.

      I’ve been surprised to learn that so many people don’t use lotion after a bath/shower. Lotion after a wash is a must. And if you’re going cheap, the lotion will probably feel runny or too oily.

      Everyone’s body is different and while genetics does play a part, how you treat your body also plays a part in how you look and feel, too. Learning how to part with toxic people and jobs also plays into your health because mental health also affects physical health.

      Oh, and brush your teeth at least twice a day and try to get regular dental check ups. If you grind your teeth at night, look into getting a mouth guard or working on how to stop grinding your teeth as you drift off to sleep.

    29. Newbie*

      Physically, I need to work up to things a little slower, but can still reach the same level of performance, whether it’s running, heavy yard work, whatever. I may not have as much raw power as I did when I was 20, but I make up for it with efficiency.

      I had surgical menopause at 44 and it’s been AWESOME. 12/10, highly recommend. My appetite and weight don’t fluctuate, my moods are more stable, life is good.

      I’ve never been much in the looks department, and I look my age. I DGAF what others think.

    30. Cacofonix*

      You become invisible as a source of physical attraction by the opposite/desired sex. I’ve seen the comments about not caring what others think and that’s also true. But people don’t look at you “that way.” My husband and I both noticed this. As a woman, I’m glad. No more being told “you’d be so pretty if you’d smile” and way fewer men assuming my friendliness is a come on. Less paternal indulgence when I have an opinion. Other general gender issues are still there (unsolicited, ‘just trying to be helpful mansplaining), but the intensity has gone way down and I’m much more confident in handling it.

      My husband on the other hand is sad. He is acutely aware that friendly women aren’t non-stop hitting on him. We laughed at that… he’s a bit of a nerd so it’s not like it was ever true, but now he knows for sure.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        This one hurts. I live right near a city and often walk around at night and my reflection off of street lights in dim light is my “old face” but then when I look in a regular mirror I look like middle aged staler me. It hurts to quickly go from one to the other. On a side note, I firmly believe some people who live in places like this get deluded into thinking they look better than they actually do. Lighting everywhere is so complementary, but hold me up to a bright light? it is scary

      2. matcha123*

        Can I say that I see this type of comment a lot about women and aging and really some of us have always been “invisible” because we’re the wrong “race,” or have a physical disability, not having the best sense of style, or whatever.
        Not all of us were hit on 24/7 by good-looking members of the opposite sex. When I was in my teens and 20s, considered “peak” among white people, I was only ever hit on by older men in their mid-40s and older who hoped that a brown girl would be open to a relationship. Men in my age group never gave me a second glance.
        When I’d go into stores, I’d generally be ignored.

        1. Empress Ki*

          I started to be “invisible” when I became fat (paradoxally lol). It’s actually relaxing.

        2. Generic+Name*

          Yeah, I’m a bit perplexed by this too. I’m white and don’t have any visible disabilities, but I’ve never really attracted that much attention I guess. I’d say I’m reasonably conventionally attractive, but not super attractive. One of my friends I guess got a lot of attention from men and I think she’s still beautiful, but she’s complained about feeling invisible because she is 100% grey. She’s pretty bitter about it and has negative feelings towards aging, and I kind of don’t really get it. Maybe it’s because my hair is still mostly dark, and I’ll understand when I’m more gray. I’m also not someone who is super flirty and I’m somewhat socially oblivious. Who knows

    31. Girasol*

      It’s startling when the DMV clerk says, “And…hm…hair: gray.” And at the peak of your career when someone chirps, “That comes to umpty-three dollars and, oh, we do half off for seniors!” But then comes the harder part when people really lay on the stereotypes: perhaps you raise a legitimate concern and someone says condescendingly, “There, there, dear,” as if they see a dotty centenarian when you’re not 60 yet. That’s really startling (and infuriating) but a few words in a stern self-assured manager voice, whether at work or elsewhere, will usually turn that around.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Yeah, there’s one place I shop where they offered me the senior’s discount 2 visits in a row. I just declined politely because they’re volunteers (charity shop) and I didn’t want them to feel bad or get in trouble. The next time they didn’t ask… and when I looked at my receipt, yep, there it is, I’m a senior now!

        I’m 50.

        Good news: not getting hit on in public by strange men anymore! More good news: I frequently am offered a seat on public transit! Briefly I felt sad, thinking I must look awful! But – really, what do I care what strangers think of my looks? I like seats. And I reeeeally hated getting hit on by drunken randoms on my way home from an otherwise wonderful evening out.

    32. time for cocoa*

      I had no idea how much time and effort it would take just to maintain a base level of generally feeling “okay”.

      Up through my 30s, I would be fine as long as I semi-regularly ate green things and kept moderately active. Since my 40s, I can’t drink a drop of alcohol, I can’t have dairy, I can’t have fried food, I can’t sleep on my stomach, I can’t sit with my legs folded under me, the list goes on.

    33. Chaordic One*

      Besides my skin being dryer, one thing they don’t tell you is that you have a thin layer of fat underneath your skin. As you age, that thin layer of fat becomes even thinner making wrinkles look more pronounced and making you look older, even if you don’t have that many of them. It makes the skin on your body appear crepe-y. Also, deposits of fat on your face start sinking because of gravity. Your cheeks slowly start to fall and you start to get jowls. Your hair doesn’t just become gray, it also becomes more dry, more coarse and more unmanageable and needs a lot more moisturizing.

      Finally, I’m noticing some problems with osteoporosis. My rib cage is larger around than it used to be. I understand that sometimes this is a problem exaggerated by smoking, though I quit smoking more than 20 years ago. I’m also beginning feel the beginnings of a dowager’s hump. I’m trying to use nutrition and exercise to try to slow down the effects, especially the dowager’s hump.

    34. Bethlam*

      Hard agree here on all of the suggestions about starting to take care of your body at an early age. It gets harder as you get older, especially losing weight (to be fitter, not thinner).

      One thing I haven’t seen mentioned: keep records of stuff. As you get older there’s more stuff to remember, and you don’t remember as well. We’re constantly saying, “When did we buy that?”, “How much did we pay for that?” “When did . . . . whatever happen?” Some of our questions are simple curiosity, but sometimes it’s important. I like using a spreadsheet because of the columns and because it’s easy to find something with the search feature.

      If you’re not into “journaling,” a simple spreadsheet is easy to manage. One tab for purchases, with columns for bought where, when, how much, and then columns for how you parted with it, and a notes column for anything extra. Another tab for events. I can never remember if my great-nephew was born on the 3rd or the 5th of the month, but it’s in my spreadsheet. Other events, like fender bender on way to book club, neighbor’s house on fire, anything you might want to remember when it happened. Only takes a couple of minutes each night to add notes, and many, many days there won’t be anything at all to enter, so it’s not an onerous obligation. And you can have additional tabs if there’s something specific you do on a regular basis and want to see if there’s a pattern, or when you’ve done it in previous months/years.

      I keep a separate spreadsheet for medical records. I have a document that fits on one page with all of my past surgeries, allergies, family history, various doctors’ and pharmacies’ names and phone numbers, and all of my medication with dosages. I used to take a copy to every new doctor and simply attach it to the questionnaire they give you for medical history. Now that everything is computerized and connected, that’s not as necessary any more unless you’re going out of your local network.

      Another tab is for tests, scans, vaccines. I print this on the back of my copy and take it with me to all doctor’s appointments because, although networks are now connected, many doctors don’t look at all that information and when they ask when my last mammogram, flu/shingles/Covid vaccine was, I have it right on hand.

      And a third tab is for “this happened but it didn’t seem important at the time and I didn’t seek medical attention, but now it would be good to know when I first noticed that rash/that bump on my hand, this mole, that bruise, etc.” Or – especially as you get older – falls and bumps that didn’t cause any obvious injury, but often being able to connect future pain to a past incident can be important.

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

      As I got older, I went through some rough experiences — my parents’ illnesses and deaths, friends’ deaths, having cancer and dealing with other medical problems, having friendships change, having my heart broken, breaking up with a long-term partner, having my world shrink during the pandemic . . . .

      None of that was fun, but I was proud of myself for getting through it all and coping with it anyway — it was kind of nice to see that even if I was miserable and overwhelmed at points, I got through it and was strong enough to survive. I think dealing with unpleasant stuff like that can toughen you up and help you remember that there’s usually some sunshine ahead after the current misery.

    36. RagingADHD*

      OP, take a lot of this thread with a grain of salt. Much of it is extremely overblown. NO, your ovaries don’t dry up at age 30. NO, all injuries are not permanent after 35. Etc. Etc. Everyone likes to have a good moan and compare their aches and pains, but don’t let all this get in your head.

      You have to bear in mind that people with chronic health conditions are over-represented online, and (I’ve noticed) particularly over-represented in the comments here, compared to the general population. Of course that’s going to affect the way you experience aging.

      Enjoy yourself, take good care of your health in commonsense ways. Keep up with your preventative care, and all that. You’ll do fine. Even in areas where I don’t have the same energy or bounce-backiness as I did in my 20s, I wouldn’t go back there for the world, I am so much happier and my life is so much better now.

      1. Kay*

        Actually, I would counter that most of this should be taken much more to heart than the opposite. I think that for any of us we can look back and muse “hindsight – 20/20” on something in our lives – whether it be financial, really figuring out who we are and what we want in life, taking care of our bodies, life choices, etc. The one thing none of us can do is go back in time. As I read all these comments my thoughts are -yup, remember being told that, yup – heard that, definitely didn’t heed any of that, but man do I wish I did!

        The thing is – when you are younger you really struggle to see just how all this advice will apply to you – it is so unfathomable when you are invincible and have so many years for compound interest to work in your favor!

        I’m considered very healthy, look good for my age, I’m in a good financial place and most would think I did a good job choosing the people in my life – but I still wish I had followed most of the advice here. I would have less health issues if I had stayed in shape, I’m still awaiting that skin cancer diagnosis – its gotta be coming, I would be retired by now if I had kept to my younger me financial strategy, and I still took far too long to enjoy the benefits of being confident in who I am. Not to say I still don’t have work to do – but oh the possibilities if I could have put the wisdom of today to work in my younger life…

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I would agree, with the caveat that everyone’s body will react differently to ageing, and people will be bothered by different things. I’m 46 and – other than healing more slowly than when I was younger – don’t have any major aches and pains. However, I’m fortunate that I got into the habit of exercising 4 times a week (originally lap swimming, now ballet) when I was in my early 20s and I think this has helped a lot. Although this type of exercise isn’t feasible for everyone, even doing something low-impact once or twice a week will still help.

        Also, you probably notice some of the changes that come with ageing less than others. I’ve always had terrible eyesight, so it doesn’t bother me much that it has got worse. I’ve also always had sensitive skin that tends towards dryness, so other than the fact that my eczema is a bit worse now, I don’t notice those changes as much either. My alcohol tolerance hasn’t changed much, though I was never a big drinker anyway.

        And not everything is negative! I feel a lot stronger mentally and physically than when I was younger. I just feel a lot more resilient now. So don’t just assume that everything will go to crap the minute you turn 30. Some things might, but some things might actually get better.

      3. JSPA*

        Or, under-represented (or not “out” as having a disability or lingering injury) in active people’s daily lives, which are often not disability-friendly. (Not easy to distinguish.)

        People generally don’t know why a friend group member stopped going to shows then drifted away… or why the promising up-and-comer took that weak lateral transfer to a less-competitive job in a place with lower C.O.L. … or that the irritable person in accounts receivable has constant pain, worse on rainy days.

        There are actuarial tables and statistics; neither your personal experience nor mine nor anyone else’s, can stand in for actual data.

      4. superdupercomputer*

        Eh. I don’t think anyone’s saying “ovaries dry up,” though I was disappointed in the thread on fertility representing two extremes. I think the point is that getting pregnant is not always as simple or straightforward as we were warned in high school health class. And a lot of media makes it seem like there’s a fertility cliff at age 35, when really it’s a slow degradation of fertility and increase of risks that’s always there and accelerates after 35. Most people I know have been surprised by the realities and I wish we had better education about fertility and reproduction

    37. Prospect Gone Bad*

      On a positive note, stress and not sleeping no longer causes acne!

      I wasn’t used to how my face changed and got a slightly different shape. That was just weird to me.

      Also wasn’t expecting knee, ankle, back type pains. I am still very active and bought the lie that a good diet and exercise make you immune to problems. They don’t, unfortunately.

      I got discoloration on my face, a large tan type area on whiter skin that I got lasered off. Doctor said it was completely normal and just from too much sun, so at 40, I had to pick if I wanted to continue looking younger than I was, or age and get that white-person-who-sunned-too-much look. I wimped out and got the laser treatment and some botox. I thought I was goodlooking enough to pull off the aging but at the end of the day, most aging is skin damage and discoloration. I realized talk was cheap when I said “I’ll age naturally” but it’s another thing to have to keep looking at discolored skin or lines and wondering if it’s going to get worse.

      I am also more scared of and think about things like serious illness or heart health. I’ve been through so much and worry my heart isn’t going to keep up forever.

      And I didn’t expect my body to start not liking caffeine. It used to wake me up and give me a nice buzz, now it feels like I am slightly dizzy and am damaging my heart! Yet another crutch I can no longer use.

    38. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Put down the credit cards! Don’t live beyond your means. You will thank yourself 20 years from now when you’re not dealing with crippling debt.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Credit cards are a tool. I’ve had one since I was 20 and have always used it wisely and paid it off in full every month. As a result of that and other choices I have stellar credit.

        Don’t live beyond your means is good advice but if you can use a credit card well there’s no reason not to. The better advice imho is “know your financial style and work within your limits”.

      2. Clisby*

        Having credit cards does not equate to living beyond your means. Credit cards are a convenience, and for me, at least, make it much easier to track my spending. I pay them off every month.

    39. Quinalla*

      In my mid 40s I really NEED my sleep, I could get away with little sleep in my 20s & 30s, but no more. Less than 7 and I’m just almost non-functional, I really need 8 a night but only get that on the weekends :)

  8. Pam*

    I just assisted a former student to graduate- he’s almost 80! He wasn’t able to attend Commencement last Spring, so the college sponsored a party for him and his family/friends. He wore a cap and gown , and we presented him with a framed diploma. The event ran about an hour, with lots of pictures. Afterwards, they went out to dinner.

  9. Might Be Spam*

    TLDR; I’m looking for a reusable support wrap to protect my very skinny ankles.

    I tend to get sprains and torn ligaments just below my ankle. The support wraps I have found are too big for my small ankles and narrow feet. Where can I find braces or support wraps that are smaller than a small women’s size?

    It seems odd, but the last time I tore the ligaments it seems to have fixed a gait problem I have(had?) For at least the last twenty years, my right foot swings out when I walk, causing a slight limp that physical therapy never helped.

    During the last few months, since I stopped wearing the orthopedic boot, it is moving forward normally without swinging to the side. I think something changed in my hip to fix it. I don’t think it’s from wearing the orthopedic boot because I’ve used it before. Anyway, I’m just happy to walk evenly and I hope it lasts.

    1. Day dreamer*

      Have you ever done any exercises to build strength in those areas? Can’t imagine always having to wear something like that for support :(

    2. kina lillet*

      Honestly lace-up leather boots might not do a bad job for everyday wear—like hiking boots, doc martens, or some more fashiony kind.

      1. kina lillet*

        Seconding exercise/PT though. Strengthening and practicing walking in alignment, or learning ways to move around the world that are safer for your ankles could help.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If you are so inclined, get with a nutritionist. You can get some serious help with nutrition and maybe some diet changes. I used to have ankle issues. I wore high top sneakers to compensate. I started eating more salads, got vitamins and a protein drink and I got rid of the high tops. I have never looked back. The ankles are so much better. YMMV, of course. And definitely talk to a pro.

    4. Ranon*

      For a smaller brace I would look at children’s ankle braces, they appear to exist at least online.

      I’ll nth the PT suggestion if you have access, ankle stability and balance are very closely tied together and it’s the sort of thing you’ll benefit from addressing especially before you reach an age where falls can be quite dangerous. A good PT is basically magic and the work it takes to benefit is worth it.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Kids sizes? I knew a woman with small feet and ankles and she shopped in the kids section for shoes. Sometimes she said it was a bother because of the difference in styles, but she was also grateful because her shoes were always much cheaper. I don’t know if that tracks to medical stuff, though.

      1. Clisby*

        Kid’s sizes definitely can work sometimes. My now-20-year-old son spent years in Rec League soccer, which meant typically I was having to buy him new soccer cleats twice a year because his feet kept growing. Then, all of a sudden, one time none of his shoes fit. I looked at them and thought, “I wonder if I could wear them – they look close to my size.” Sure enough, they fit perfectly, so I inherited a pair of soccer cleats, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of Sperry Topsiders – all of which were pretty lightly used. I still wear the Topsiders, and when time comes to replace them I’m def going to check if the boy’s size is cheaper than the women’s size.

    6. fposte*

      In the grand tradition of answering a different question than the one you asked, I would consider going back to physical therapy. A couple ways to look for higher quality PTs: look for one who’s a fellow of the AAOMPT or who has OCS certification. Those are continued learning standards that aren’t just the requisite CE credits. I’ll add links in followup.

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

      Have you tried kinesiology taping instead of a pre-formed wrap? The PT could show you how to do it effectively for your stability issues, and size is irrelevant.

    8. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I use an ankle brace occasionally, and it helps both my gait and my knee pain. The brand I have is Darco, my podiatrist recommended it. It’s reversible, the inserts on either side can be swapped for either foot. It’s lightweight and slips on over the sock but under the shoe. Very convenient!

    9. Squidhead*

      Ace wraps? They come in several widths, but you might need to look online for a 2 or 3″ wide one. You should seek guidance (PT/MD) on how to wrap them for the support you need.

    10. Sandra Dee*

      As someone who has broken both ankles, a little over a year apart, and the second break requiring surgery, I have been using the ankle compression sleeves, which has helped with the swelling on the surgical one, and provides stability without extra bulk. I can wear regular shoes, with extra support. I am a size 6 in womens shoes, and a lot of times can wear kids sizes. the compression sleeves range in size from small to XXlarge. I have small and medium (the medium were used right after surgery when the swelling was worse). I am almost a year post op, and wear them less frequently now, but if I know I am on my feet an extended period of time, I wear them preemptively.

      Best wishes in your recovery and ankle health.

    11. JSPA*

      I wonder if your closest children’s hospital might have a pharmacy (internally or nearby) that sells smaller dimension orthopedics? And, I’ve also had improvements following accidents, due to loosening of connective tissues. There are some forms of bodywork that try to achieve similar ends, less brutally and less randomly; I’ve found some of those helpful as well.

  10. English Rose*

    What’s your favourite small gadget?

    I’m redecorating my bathroom which has loads of white tiling with mucky grouting. Someone recommended buying a Sonic Scrubber which is basically like a big electric toothbrush which really gets into the corners and crevices of anything you’re cleaning. Friends, it is amazing, my tiles look brand new! (Not a sponsored update by the way LOL)

    I bought one for a friend who has arthritic hands and she is finding it brilliant too as it doesn’t require a lot of gripping and scrubbing and she can clean without being in pain.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Where did you get it? I also have mucky grout in a few places and its driving me nuts!

      1. English Rose*

        On Amazon. I’m in the UK but they seem to have similar in other Amazon stores. If you can’t find exactly Sonic Scrubber search grout scrubber or similar.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I have the Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber and Grout Head, which you can get on Amazon US.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      I recently bought a Zylis easy pull food processor – it’s a small food processor with a pull cord (like the sort of thing you’d get on a toy to make a noise). It does take a bit of effort, but it chops things really finely and is very compact so really easy for me to store in my small kitchen. I use it most days to cook with and it’s genuinely the best £20 I’ve spent.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Came here to recommend same! It sort of looks like it would work that well but it really really does.

    3. Girasol*

      Old stainless butter knife. No, really! Pries small things apart, scrapes loose house paint better than a paint scraper, stirs paint and wipes clean, gives a loose screw a quick half turn, gets the gunk out of the narrow corner. I have a pretty complete tool box but so often I dig past all the real tools because it’s the old butter knife that will do the job.

    4. Unum Hoc Scio*

      In the kitchen, I love my small, foldable weigh scale. Also scissors, lots of scissors for cutting anything from meat to herbs. Open them up in the dishwasher cutlery section to clean the blades.

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

      Those rubber grippy thingies that help you open jar lids (Alternately, the gadget that helps you break the seal on a jar.) As my strength has waned and my skin has become more delicate, these have made jar opening a lot easier!

        1. Clisby*

          That’s what I use. You (or I, at least) need the thick rubber bands like grocery stores put around celery or broccoli.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        I use a rubber gloves you’d use for doing the dishes. As long as they’re dry they work a treat :)

    6. Flash Packet*

      A “granny picker,” also known as a “grabber reacher”. I was given one by the hospital when I had my hip replaced back in 2013 and I still use it everyday.

      For instance, I have curtains on a window that runs horizontal to the ceiling. The window is over a huge desk. Opening/closing the curtains (or even the window itself) used to involve me climbing up on the desk. Now I just lean over the desk and use the granny picker.

      Same with fishing cat toys out from under the couch or fridge.

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

        I got one too after seeing how it was useful for my mom when she was sick — great for fishing out stuff that has fallen in the back of my messy closet!

      2. Flash Packet*

        Speaking of granny pickers. . . I woke up before dawn this morning to test my elderly (and eldest) kitty’s glucose and give her an insulin injection, and the youngest cats were super excited about something in/on the base of the cat tower in the kitchen. It fortunately got away from them because it was a paper wasp. But it flew up to the ceiling and hunkered down behind the light fixture.

        I used the granny picker and a clam-shell mesh bra holder (the thing you put bras in to protect them in the washing machine) to gently capture the wasp and let it go outside.

        There are a million and one uses for granny pickers!

    7. Paddy O'Furniture*

      Several weeks ago, someone here recommended using their small coffee grinder to chop nuts and it has been a real game changer for me. Thanks to whomever made the recommendation!

    8. Cricutter*

      A ceramic box cutter found on Amazon. Opens boxes and packages but won’t cut you. Even cuts cardboard. I use it almost daily.

    9. Ali G*

      It’s a little countertop machine that draws in and traps small flying insects. Since I have a compost pail, I will get fruit flies every summer without fail. This little thing sucks them up and is easy to clean.

  11. WoodswomanWrites*

    It’s time for a bird thread.

    I’ve been following some livecams of birds. One that is drawing my attention these days is the Cornell Lab Bird Cams site featuring endangered royal albatrosses at the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve in New Zealand. I got to see royal albatrosses on a wildlife tour when I visited there many years ago. I was amazed at how huge they are. You can find clips on YouTube of biologists weighing a chick at a nest site and that scale gives you perspective. They are also docile and cooperative. Incredible birds, with a wingspan of 10 feet and living at sea away from land for most of their lives. Hmm, now I want to go back to New Zealand.

    1. IWasHereToo*

      Cool, I will look up some of the webcams you mentioned!

      This summer I went to Costa Rica. We stayed in San Gerardo de Dota, which has incredible birds. I saw a quetzal, among others, and it was an amazing experience.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I am visiting family and loving all of the wildlife here. I saw a beautiful bluejay the other day. And lots of robins! And squirrels and chipmunks, too. Good fun!

    3. Green Mug*

      I put out some mealworms, and I am hope hope hoping to attract some bluebirds. The peanuts successfully draw woodpeckers. I put out a platform feeder for the blue jays who seem to be to big and awkward to eat at the other feeders. Watching the birds is a highlight in my day!

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      OMG! Did you see the Cornell Great Horned Owl nest cam where they show the male bringing in a GREAT EGRET and an adult BARRED OWL??!!!
      Sorry. That just blew me away. The size of the prey these owls can catch and carry back to the nest! Holy cow.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And for more current activities, had an enormous (500+?) flock of migrating grackles in the yard today. Very impressive! And made me glad I planted so many late fruiting shrubs for birds like that to eat.

    5. Kittee*

      I love live birdcams! There’s one in a backyard in South Africa that attracts tiny colorful parrots, crazy looking hornbills, and all manner of other interesting birds. And at night the fruit bats and bushbabies come to eat! It’s the allen birdcam on youtube.

    6. Westsidestory*

      Driving around the Susquehanna Valley last weekend I saw a bald eagle!

      Also a flock of wild turkeys and as a bonus, an actual weasel.

  12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    I need gift ideas for the in-laws 40th wedding anniversary!

    My thinking was a nice crystal vase or something about $200 or so. I see its a ruby anniversary, so not sure if that really matters or if something nice they wouldn’t buy for themselves is better? MIL is a gardener and loves flowers/plants, but is a nice vase something that gets used?

    Note: they aren’t in the US, nor are we, and Amazon is not available. We will be traveling to see them, so I need something I can bring with me.

    1. Ruby*

      I’m not sure about the ruby anniversary significance, but could you maybe bring seeds / cuttings from wherever you are, for them to grow in their garden?

    2. Not my usual name*

      For my parents, we bought a rose with “Ruby” in its name. For their 50th, one called “Golden Wedding” – any rose supplier has a whole range of roses with celebratory names.

      (This assumes a suitable climate for roses!)

      1. Isobel*

        We did something similar for my parents’ ruby wedding – as well as appropriately named roses, there are sweet pea varieties called Anniversary and Ruby Anniversary, a Siberian iris called Anniversary and an astrantia called Ruby Wedding and I think we went for some of those.

        1. Isobel*

          Although if the country you’re travelling to is New Zealand, plants and seeds are not going to be acceptable for biosecurity reasons (can you tell I love watching old episodes of Border Patrol?).

          1. Felis alwayshungryis*

            Haha, I (figuratively) clutched my pearls at the suggestion of taking them seeds and cuttings. Guess where I live? ;-)

    3. Lcsa99*

      We got my in-laws a custom made music box off etsy. They put their initials in a heart on top with they song as the music. Maybe you can find something like that?

      We’ve also done a scrapbook for them with all their kids and grandkids creating a page including special letters to them.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      When my parents had their ruby anniversary they got a few gifts that weren’t necessarily fancy or expensive but they were red. Maybe start with something you know they’d like (I’d say a vase would be appreciated if they like flowers; or how about something for the garden or for gardening, and see if there’s a red version. You can get some pretty solar lights in the shape of flowers; I once got my uncle a poppy. Or small but useful equipment – good gloves, shiny new secateurs, his n hers kneeling pads…

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      For my parents’ 40th, before home computers and the internet, I wrote to their family members and friends and asked each of them to write a remembrance letter to my parents but to send it to me, with a picture if possible, and then I compiled all the responses into an album. They loved that album – there were letters from people they hadn’t heard from in years.

    6. Bluebell*

      If they have houseplants, maybe you could bring a red colored planter? That might be less breakable than a vase. I love the rose idea, or maybe bulbs for red hyacinths or tulips, if it works with their climate. Or red amaryllis, which is often an indoor blooming thing in the US.

  13. UKDancer*

    Perhaps a rose if she’s a gardener? I’m not sure how you’re travelling and if it’s possible to bring one with you or have it delivered to them locally from their local garden centre. There’s one called “Ruby Wedding” which is a deep red tree rose or a pink tea rose hybrid called “special anniversary.”

  14. Bobina*

    Dont think we’ve had a gardening thread for a while – how are all the green things doing?

    I’m in a weird living situation at the moment so while I have my plants, I cant see them from outside my window like I used to be able to which means I feel like I miss out on them doing things. Hence why when I went out earlier this week I was like “Begonias – really? You decided to flower now when all summer you had nothing?”. So anyway, my begonias seem to be doing really well despite the fact that its getting colder than they should be out for.

    I also bought some Berberis Thungbergii a few years ago even though I didnt really have space for them, but one of them is the most amazing bright red right now and I love it! Cant wait to sort my life out and put them somewhere they will really thrive.

    1. kina lillet*

      I’ll actually jump in to ask a question on your thread—I’m moving to a place with a vegetable garden and I’d love to keep it up but am a total gardening novice.

      Question 1, what should I be doing about the garden to prep for winter? There are a few raised vegetable beds (including one currently used as a sandbox that I want to return to the noble service of veggies) and some flower areas. I’m in Massachusetts so winter will I guess come sometime in November.

      Question 2 is, any recommendations for gardening books?

      1. Venus*

        There is nothing critical. Many people remove the dead plants from the beds in fall, whereas others keep it because useful insects like native bees burrow into hollow stems and only come out after three days of 50F temps in the spring. So you really can’t go wrong, and if you’re busy with moving right now then ignore them and research more over the winter.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I would recommend getting rid of any weeds, though…annuals before they drop seeds everywhere and perennials before they establish root systems that suck up all the nutrients from the soil. Otherwise I just let everything be until spring.

      2. Bobina*

        Depending on your local area, for resources I might also suggest online communities (Reddit can be good for this, or maybe Facebook if you have it), neighbourhood communities, local garden centres etc. Books are fine for basics but knowing the local area climate, soils etc is usually a lot more helpful from people around you. A lot of how I’ve learnt has been trial and error + the internet!

        In terms of prepping for winter, its hard without knowing what is already there, but usually basic cleanup (raking, pulling dead plants, maaaaybe some light pruning) is usually it. But like Venus said, nothing is really essential right now – and if you want to give yourself time to do some learning before spring, thats totally fine.

      3. Redhaired runner*

        Save some of your moving boxes to cover the beds over the winter (weighed down with rocks or similar). My mom does this to prevent weeds from taking over in the early spring.

      4. Girasol*

        If your raised beds need topping up, use garden soil intended for raised beds, as opposed to just digging up some local dirt and throwing it in. That stuff is rich and light and works wonders on veggies.

    2. The teapots are on fire*

      We have a Black Mission fig tree in a container that produces these beautiful but dry and inedible figs. We do water the thing and feed it quarterly, and the tree looks healthy. The only explanation we have read is that maybe it’s male and we should get a second tree for it to pollinate. I’m thinking if that’s the case we should get a different tree and let this one go. Our deck is not that big! Any other thoughts?

      1. fposte*

        Cultivated figs aren’t gendered and shouldn’t need a second plant to pollinate. When I search, it looks like heat/dryness and need for nutrients are the most common culprits. It may be that the container just heats up too much for it. You could try shielding it from the sun, transplanting it to a bigger one, adding mulch, etc. and also adding some fruit-tree appropriate fertilizer.

        1. The teapots are on fire*

          Oh, that does help. We could try moving it to shade. We are using the fruit tree fertilizer the nursery recommended, but maybe it’s too damn hot. I don’t think I can get a bigger container, (it’s in a quite large terra cotta pot) but some shade makes sense. My fiance used to have a different fig tree (brown turkey fig) in the same spot and it thrived there, but it was lost to the Great Grad School Debacle, when he was working and in grad school and basically never set foot on his back deck for 9 months and most of his trees died. But maybe they’re more resilient.

    3. Granger Chase*

      Does anyone have any experience on using coffee and tea as natural fertilizer for your gardens? I’ve heard they can add essential nutrients to the soil, and we recently came across a ton of expired coffee beans, K cups, and tea bags when cleaning out a relative’s home. I know the coffee needs to be diluted prior to use in the garden (although the teabags can just be tucked into the soil if they’re biodegradable I believe), but I’m not sure if I should do this now that it’s getting colder or if I’m better off saving it for next spring & summer when I’ve got plants growing out there. Thanks!

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Coffee grounds are toxic to plants when used fresh. If you want to use it as a fertiliser it has to be composted first. But that doesn’t mean it’s not useful fresh – it’s also toxic to weeds so it could make a good mulch if you have areas where you want to suppress weed growth.

        I wouldn’t be game to use tea either without composting it first as it contains many of the same toxic components as coffee. I assume when people talk about using “tea” as fertiliser they’re talking about something like comfrey tea, which is made by weighing down comfrey cuttings in a bucket of water and leaving it to ferment.

    4. MeepMeep123*

      My pomegranate bush and my lemon tree are starting to bloom. I’m not sure the pomegranate bush is supposed to be doing that at this time of year, but I’m happy it is.

      I’m also getting a nice thriving patch of potatoes. Our housekeeping skills are not great, and we often get sprouting potatoes and sweet potatoes in our pantry. Every time I find a particularly healthy-looking one, I plant it. We’ve already harvested a couple of the plants and the resulting tiny potatoes were delicious.

  15. AdviceRequested*

    My sister has 7yr old twins with whom I’m very close. I am also happily pregnant myself (after a long time trying!). Now that I’m through the first trimester, I’m thinking about how best to tell my niblings. The kids generally like babies, but my sister and I expect they’ll take the news a bit hard and worry about being displaced, as they’re used to getting a lot of attention from me and my partner. Already they have noticed and seem frustrated I have less energy to play with them. And a couple years ago one of them worriedly asked if we were planning to have a baby. How can we roll this news out, and continue to convey to them, that they’re still really important, even though we will have less time and energy for them? All the advice I can find is for telling your kid about a younger sibling, and doesn’t quite translate to this scenario.

    1. TechWorker*

      I’m by no means a parenting expert but tbh I would be careful you don’t end up influencing their reaction by how you break the news! If you make out like you expect them to be upset and disappointed they might pick up on that. Can you get them excited about having a cousin? A quick Google shows there are various kids books about it.
      Mostly I’d say to try not to worry too much – even if they’re upset at first, your actions over time will show them you care about them, and it’s not the same risk of neglect/jealousy as a younger sibling (which is why I bet there’s less advice around – most of the time it ends up a complete non issue). Yes at the moment you’re the fun aunt with lots of time and patience, and that might change a bit – but that’s normal and they won’t resent you for it long term. (I’m assuming in this they get plenty of time and attention from their own parents ofc, but it feels like you would have mentioned if that wasn’t the case).

      1. IWasHereToo*

        Great advice! I was also going to say the same about modeling excitement for them. I definitely would go with “Guess what!!! You’re going to have a cousin!!” rather than “Okay I know this might make you upset but…”

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I think if you go in with a nervous energy, seeking to reassure them that “you’re still important”, then that reassurance sense a really unintentional warning that there’s a risk! Imagine if it was you welcoming a new person into your circle, and instead of getting congratulations, or excitement from people you got sympathetic reassurances about your importance! Make all the happy noises about them getting to meet their first cousin! Tell them how important it is to be a big cousin and that you’re going to let them feel the baby kick/pick out something fun for the baby/have a day spent making crafty stuff or welcome pictures for the baby. Talking to kids about something new doesn’t have to take a lot of energy. It also doesn’t have to be all about them in order to make them feel involved, curious and heard. After they’ve done some things, buy them a “congratulations on being a fantastic big cousin” gift and ask your sister to give it when you’re at you’re max distracted with the newborn. It probably is not necessary at all, but big brother and sister gifts are something that made my niblings really proud of themselves when newborns came along.

    3. Asenath*

      Yeah, tell them as though it’s good news, of course it’s good news! If they miss that cue, or later seem a bit jealous, deal with it in the moment. Continue to see them as often as you can, so it’s clear they still have a place in your life, encourage them to look forward to the birth by discussing plans, names etc (my younger sibling is eternally grateful that our parents did NOT choose any of the names that caught our (her older siblings) fancy when we were asked what names we liked!). Make the news a family event; they’re part of the inner circle. My parents told me fairly early that I was getting a new sibling. They also said that I shouldn’t discuss a private thing like that outside the family. It was years before I realized they were following the practice, common then, of not announcing an impending birth until the pregnancy was past the highest risk period for a miscarriage. I thought it was so special that only I and my closest family knew this special secret! And when the child’s born, being encouraged to hold and cuddle it will help them welcome it.

    4. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Tell them they are going to have a cousin – how exciting! Basically take the attitude that “of course it’s a great thing!”

    5. RagingADHD*

      You might as well practice now, before yours comes, that you can’t pre-empt children’s emotional responses. From a very early age, toddlers and children can pick up on cognitive dissonance. They don’t know what that is, of course. But they know something is “off,” and they will react in many different ways to try to poke holes in the facade and get an authentic reaction. (Until they give up, which is worse).

      The more you try to manage their feelings in advance, the more misunderstandings and unintended consequences there will be. For example, by age 7 children are capable of picking up cues on how they are “supposed to” feel and react, and perform accordingly. Of course, the further those performed feelings are distant from their true ones, the more alienated they become from the authority figure and/or from themselves.

      Just tell them you have good news, express your own happiness & excitement about the baby, hug them a lot, and deal with whatever feelings they have in real time without getting mad at them or scared of their reaction. This also models for them that feelings are not dangerous bombs. You can have them, express them, and work through them without damaging the relationship.

      Which is really important for kids to see and experience.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      A couple of years is a long time at 7. Not saying they might not worry; they very well might. I just wouldn’t assume anything based on comments from a year or more ago.

      Personally, I think it might be worth including them and rather than indicating, “you’re still really important,” make it more “we’re having a baby and we’re going to need ye’re help because they are going to look up to you so much and you’ll be closer to their age and will know all the cool things they might like.”

      I was a fair bit older but I remember at about 12, my aunt-by-marriage and I out in her garden talking while we watched her toddler and I felt so grown-up, sitting as one of the “adults,” watching the child play. I think she talked a bit to me about the toddler too, like “oh, she’ll probably be up all night now.”

    7. IzzyTheCat*

      They’re kids, so I would make it all about them. “You’re getting a baby cousin!” and “I will really need your help picking out special toys for your Baby” and “you will be Baby’s special babysitters” (my similarly-aged child is obsessed with “babysitting”, which is basically getting to be in charge for an hour and playing with / feeding the baby while I watch from across the room). Essentially always saying “your baby” this and “your baby” that. They will especially love showing off to their friends “their” baby. Stress how fun this will be for THEM.
      In the end it will be great, they are going to be obsessed with “their” baby, you will see… :)

    8. AnonyMouse*

      I would tell them somewhat casually and let it sink in while the pregnancy goes on. I know the dominant culture right now trends toward big announcements, but I think it can be very simple here – you’re over one day and you say, hey kids, great news! You’re going to have a cousin! And then pretty much leave it at that for that day unless they have questions. Maybe plan something special to play with them that day, but not directly relate it to the news – just so they can see you’re still the same aunt. Then as the pregnancy goes on (it can take forever from a kids point of view – my 9 yo niece kept asking me when the baby was finally coming out haha) you can keep talking about how exciting it will be for them to get to play with their new baby cousin, etc.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Thanks for saying this. Kids don’t really care about “milestone” announcements, especially about other people.

        Tell them casually and positively and let them have their response. Answer questions as they ask them. They’ll probably need some time to think about it anyway.

    9. Rocky*

      My own twins were six when their brother arrived. They were simply excited. I agree with others; don’t set it up with an expectation that they will have any particular feeling. My six year olds were a huge help with their baby brother and I’m sure your niblings will be just as engaged!

  16. I take tea*

    Hi everybody, this is a question mainly for the female presenting people, I think, or maybe not. But it’s at least mostly aimed at people who have worked at home instead of at an office during lock-down and is now maybe returning to the office.

    The other day one of the “You may also like”-links suggested a post about armpit hair on women at work from 2018. I skimmed it a bit and got to think about the grooming many women do to be “professional”, and the thread a while back about wearing a bra at work, and how some people had happily stopped that during lock-down. I also remembered Shirley Șerban’s delightful Covid-19 parody song “Manicure, Pedicure” to the melody of Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof (It’s on YouTube. I can recommend her channel, it’s lovely.)

    My question is: have you changed your beauty routine significantly during or after lock-down, specifically because you didn’t go anywhere for a good while? Did you stop shaving and haven’t bothered to start again? Stopped wearing make up? Stopped dyeing your hair, or finally tried the Water Only method on your hair, when you didn’t see people anyway? I’m just curious to know how much especially women really do these grooming things because outside pressure, and how much it’s because you really prefer it?

    To start with myself, I went longer without dyeing my hair than usually. Then I realized that I really prefer my dyed colour to my natural and started again. So apparently it’s something I do for myself. But I wash my hair more infrequently now, as it seems to have started to get used to that (very light hair, that tends to look greasy quickly). How about you?

    1. Strawberry shortcake*

      Same here! I stopped highlighting my hair during the pandemic and realised I really preferred it with the colour, so I went back to highlighted hair once I could.

      I also stopped getting my eyebrows threaded. But I seem to have given that up for good, I’m enjoying my thick natural brow shape haha

    2. Ruby*

      My body is much happier not being shoved into elastic bands and narrow shoes. I always shaved for my own sanity but I never do makeup (except mascara, if there’s an important call) and usually let my hair do whatever it wants.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I didn’t change anything, but I worked from home before Covid and was pretty low-maintenance in my routines to begin with.

    4. Jay*

      I also stopped coloring my hair at the beginning of the pandemic, because of course I did. My hair is short so the first post-lockdown haircut got rid of what remained of the color. I lived with my graying hair for a year and decided I liked the color better. At my first appointment when she asked about color choice I told her I’d always had a secret desire for fuschia streaks – and now I have red hair with deep fuschia streaks! I love it. Turns out it doesn’t show up on Zoom for some reason (probably my lighting) so no one at work knows I’ve gone pink.

      Makeup wasn’t a regular thing for me and now it’s not a thing at all. I still shave my legs because I’ve been indoctrinated enough to feel icky if I don’t.

    5. UKDancer*

      I actually started taking more care of my skin in lockdown because I couldn’t go anywhere so I relaxed by giving myself facials and subscribing to a beauty box which gave me different things to try. I also found I was enjoying make up more and learnt how to do winged eyeliner properly from youtube tutorials. I went to a lot of online parties during lockdown and it was fun to dress up excessively and put on a full face of makeup. I still do my facials because I’ve discovered I enjoy them a lot.

      I wash my hair about as much as I ever did (every 4-5 days) because it works for me. I was so glad when the hairdressers re-opened because I did miss having my hair cut and my fringe out of my eyes. I don’t get my eyebrows waxed as often but that’s because the place near work has shut and I’ve not found another one I like.

      I’m in the office 2-3 days per week now and I have the same minimal make up routine I had before. I don’t bother with make-up when I’m working from home although I do use a primer so my face looks better on zoom calls.

    6. Erica*

      Yes I am down to one hair wash a week now! So much easier and I also get to feel virtuous about less water consumption. I almost never wear makeup now unless a very special occasion (it was minimal already before, mascara and some tinted skin coverage maybe twice a week, but now even that feels clownish to me!) I let my eyebrows go au natural for most of pandemic but recently started getting them done again bc I like the way my face looks better with them having more clear definition

    7. Workerbee*

      I stopped shaving, mostly. Every so often the old demons of indoctrination (to use that great word from another commenter) rear up and I buzz my armpits because summer = tank tops and all that, and I have dark hair. But not a close shave for all that. Nobody has noticed or said anything. And I do think I’m better off not shaving, in terms of how my body naturally reacts to heat and cold.

      By contrast, I’ve left my legs entirely alone. I still have demons there and cover them up when in the public eye. I’d like to think more folks are less concerned about body hair, but as yet I just don’t feel like having to arm myself with snappy rejoinders and whatnot.

      I was never a heavy makeup user, and quit entirely. No one has noticed or said anything. Good.

      I do not intend to dye my hair. Got the silver coming in. I do get comments from women and men thinking I dyed it that way on purpose. *shrug*

      I just really took a deep dive into the WHY of all the time and energy I’d put in over the decades – and the money! – and boiled it all down to somebody, somewhere, deciding they wanted to make a profit out of making me feel Less Than if I didn’t buy all the things to do all the grooming and maintenance and etc.

      I couldn’t trust my “preferences,” you see, because I’d been told or shown since birth what the expectations were. Women shave and men don’t. Shaving wasn’t actually for hygiene (some bodies may vary). Makeup was for women, not men. Why was my natural face not good enough? And so forth.

      I now had the space and time to test things out and rediscover that my natural self was, in fact, good enough. I need to keep working on courage to let the hair out! Too many people make it their business to make us feel like crap.

      In the meantime, I enjoy being able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice, spend less time on routine whatsits, and spend my money elsewhere. ;)

      1. allathian*

        Yes, to all of it.

        I was hairy even before the pandemic, but I have enough body image issues regardless that I dress modestly enough that I never show my pits or legs in public anyway, and I don’t go to public gyms or swimming pools where I’d have to undress in front of other people. I’ve never liked going to the beach, and I’m not going to start now.

        I found my first gray hairs when I was 28, the older I get, the more salt there is in my pepper. I actually kind of like it, and I haven’t been penalized for it professionally or otherwise, so I see no reason to start coloring it.

        I didn’t wear much makeup day to day anyway, and I just stopped altogether with the pandemic. I might put some lipstick on for a really special occasion, but that’s about it. I guess I’m lucky in that I have very smooth skin for my age.

        I’m so happy that as my hair’s become drier, I’ve been able to cut down the washing from every day to every other day, and now I can go as long as a week if I’m not going anywhere. We’re hybrid, so I tend to wash my hair the evening before I’m due to go to the office.

      2. kina lillet*

        As a heads up, no one has ever, ever said anything to me about my body hair, and it’s quite dark—sometimes I’ll maybe see someone looking at my legs on the bus but I’ve never had the need to use a snappy rejoinder.

        This has been the case in both the midwest and the northeast US, but if your area is more friendly to gettin’ personal with strangers your experience might be different.

      3. I take tea*

        Oh, I like “demons of indoctrination”, I don’t shave and am blonde enough that it’s easy for me, but I can still feel self-conscious about it, though never enough to make me shave. It’s part principle, and part laziness.

    8. PhyllisB*

      I also quit dyeing my hair. It doesn’t look bad, but I wish I had more silver in it. Right now it’s a bit mousey ( natural blondes don’t grey as well as brunettes.) But I do get some compliments because I have a couple of silver streaks in the front.

    9. AGD*

      I’m a bit of a tomboy and never bothered with much of the feminine-coded body-adjustment stuff beyond skirts. During the pandemic, I dressed in super comfy stuff and very quickly fell out of the habit of washing my hair or showering often, because it didn’t matter.

      Post-pandemic, opposite trends. I actually discovered that I’d really missed my nice work clothes and now enjoy getting to take those out of the closet again, and there’s one sweater I wore for so many days in a row during the pandemic that I’m not too disappointed about the hole in it because I may never want to see it again. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that I resent having to think about washing my hair and/or showering more often. The only thing that helps me commit to doing that is my desire not to have to wash clothing items every time I wear them.

    10. Generic+Name*

      I wore very little makeup before lockdown and stopped during. I also don’t wash my hair on my work from home day, which is every other day.

    11. fposte*

      The COVID standards change coincided with my retirement. You can imagine that that combination eased a lot of things. However, I was an academic, with more generous approaches to many aspects of presentation, before–I almost never wore makeup and didn’t color my graying hair, and post-menopause twice weekly hairwashes did fine for me.

      Now it’s no shaving, almost never anything with a non-elastic waistband, “formal” bra (non-sports type) only for the occasional special outing. That means it’s actually kind of fun to put on a dress and some jewelry for something, which is nice.

    12. RagingADHD*

      Well, I put on 10-15 pounds I don’t need, but that was emotional eating and being more sedentary, not really a grooming choice. I guess it was less stressful to deal with because I didn’t have to think about dressy pants or skirts for a while.

      I WFH before the pandemic, with video calls being the exception rather than the rule. Since wearing makeup was always a thing I did before going out, I wore it a lot less frequently with this work. (Still wore it the same amount socially). In 2020, video calls became much more prevalent, and so I wore it more often.

      The main thing I did was grow out my dye / highlights to let my gray streaks come in. I’d been wanting to do that for a couple of years, but I never could quite make peace with the awkward phase, nor afford to throw enough money at making a transition plan and upkeep with a hairdresser. So that was nice, and once it got fully grown, it looks much better than poorly maintained highlights ever did.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      In the beginning I tried washing my hair less often and found that it basically looks gross no matter what, but more gross if I go longer without washing lol. I tried switching shampoos a few times and I don’t know if that (or pandemic stress) caused it or I was just paying more attention but I realized I was losing a lot of hair and that’s unfortunately still a thing :(

      I’ve done balayage a few times but I am very timid about hair color… early in the pandemic I tried Overtone Rose Gold (not cute) and more recently I’ve been using Arctic Fox which I like way more. I’d prefer to go blonde but I’m scared how much hair will fall out with bleach, so for now I’m going reddish with the Arctic Fox about once a month.

      1. Newbie Fed*

        That’s where I ended up as well. I went almost a year without dyeing my hair but I don’t have enough gray/white to like the look, so I’m back to dyeing to a color I do like every 10-12 weeks. I kept shaving and washing my hair on the same schedule as the before-times, I still wear tinted moisturizer daily because it is SPF 30, and I’ll add a little eye makeup on the rare occasions I have a dinner out or an in-office day.

    14. matcha123*

      The major experiment I had with my hair when I was working from home was washing it different ways. I tried shampoo (night 1) > scrub with water only (night 2) > okay that doesn’t work well, so back to shampoo (night 3) > scrub with conditioner only (night 4) > this seems okay! > scrub with conditioner (night 5) > hmm… and so on.

      When I read about people deciding to forego shaving, I get the feeling they tend to be people with thin, light colored hair that doesn’t really stand out. And they probably weren’t teased about their pit hair in elementary school…and they probably don’t sweat a lot, which then smells worse with longer pit hair and then the pit smell transfers to clothes and…well….I digress.

      I actually used my time at home to try to get used to wearing making and get faster at applying it (I usually never wear foundation, so it’s eyes and brows). I experimented with different clothing styles. I pulled out clothes that rarely get a wear and let them see the light. I tried mixing and matching styles to see how flexible my wardrobe was and also bough better quality clothes for the return to the office.

      1. I take tea*

        I do admit it’s much easier to skip the shaving when it isn’t that noticeable. I mean, I probably wouldn’t anyway, because I’m lazy and really dislike doing it, both practically and out of principle, but I probably would cover up more if it wasn’t so light.
        I like the thought of really using all your wardrobe. I should do that, I tend to wear just my favourites over and over.

    15. the cat's ass*

      Female-presenting, and did go to a mostly deserted office (which was spooky but nice) alternating with WFH. I stopped coloring my hair and i really like the way it looks now! I also couldn’t get a hair cut in the depths of the pandemic so i got used to a longer length which i also like more. I’m also edging up to 70 and my body hair is sparse so i don’t have shave as much. However the body hair didn’t send the memo to my facial hair so i spent a lot of the lock up experimenting with hair removal on my face. I’m now back at work 100% and as a HCW we’re still masked so i don’t wear lipstick. I miss that!

    16. PM by Day, Knitter by Night*

      Patty Lyons new book Knitting Bag of Tricks is great. Also recommend Ravelry of course and the bazillion you tube videos. I keep a copy Vogue Knitting Ultimate Quick Reference in my bag. Also all knitting is just knit and purl so fear no technique. And remember that pretty much the worst thing that could happen is you throw hands, toss out a ball of yarn, and pretend it never happened. That said – if it needs to fit, make sure you swatch.

    17. cat socks*

      I used to wear makeup on a regular basis, but rarely do so now. I’ve gotten used to my face without makeup.

      I used to dry and flat iron my hair, but I let it air dry more often.

      I don’t tweeze my brows regularly. I’ll only do it if I decide to wear makeup.

      One thing that I started doing though is getting regular manicures. Having polished nails in bright colors makes me happy

    18. Cacofonix*

      Ditched my too many high heeled shoes and replaced with a couple after a hunt for professional low heeled or flat professional ones that were funky enough to fit my style. It wasn’t easy! Also learned how to tint my own eyelashes/brows and maintain my hair, such as cut my fringe and tint roots so I head to the salon way less. I have just a few gray hairs. I’d go fully gray if I could, but not there yet and I feel unkempt with haphazard growth.

    19. time for cocoa*

      I started tretinoin, and was so thankful to experience my purge in privacy (and to cover it up with masks when out and about). It was a really rough transition, and while I’m so glad for the complexion I have now, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to go through with it during regular times.

    20. Person from the Resume*

      Not so much COVID or work especially because if I went to the office I’d be wearing pants and sleeves not exposing my underarms.

      I shave less, lazy about it, but I actually enjoy smooth legs so I haven’t stopped. But the hair above my knees has gotten lighter and thinner so I don’t shave much above my knees. I shave my underarms about every 2 months. The hair gets softer as it gets longer so it’s lots less irritating until I start to notice/think it’s holding unpleasant scents and then I shave.

      Did not like having a sharp color line in my hair when I was growing out during lockdown. When I’m tired of playing with color I die the ends my natural color so it can grow out. I don’t sweat the gray hair.

      Kind of opposite of what you asked. Working from home is great to allow me to brush my teeth and floss after meals. Apparently aging also allows your teeth to spread out creating spot between teeth to hold food. So nice to be home where you can brush and floss when that happens.

    21. Educator*

      Prior to the pandemic, I wore tights and heels/heeled boots every day for ten months of the year. Never phased me–it was what made me feel most professional, and I looked great. Now I hate tights! Why are they so constricting? Why are they working so hard to flatten my behind? When I am home, I wear my super professional shirts/sweaters/dresses for Zoom, with leggings or sweatpants and comfy socks on the bottom. I hate having to dress my lower half to go into the office now! I don’t think it was any outside pressure–if anything, I dressed up a little more than I had to before, and I definitely dress to make myself happy, not for the male gaze. I just was not aware of the true freedom of having a perpetually casual lower half.

      1. Perpetual hobbyist*

        I have a pair of maternity tights that I got when pregnant with my first child and just… kept using! I’m no longer pregnant and mostly back to my pre baby weight but I still wear them anytime I need tights. They go up really high (no muffin top) and the material around the tummy is so stretchy that it doesn’t feel restrictive at all!

    22. eeeek*

      Oh, interesting question. White, cis-F, 60 y.o. academic professional here. When we went into lockdown, I had already made the decision to stop dying my hair and let the grays grow out. After dealing with makeup-related breakouts and the fact that I *hate* wearing makeup, I was happy to give that up, too. SO…no makeup (though a surprising number of people commented that I look like death on Zoom. So I verified that regardless of makeup, ring lights, camera settings, I have the pale luminescent glow of an Addams family member, and now we all know that this is just the way I look. (For a while, my MSTeams status was “yes, I really am this pale; no, I am not ill.”)
      I came to wash my hair infrequently, shave my chin regularly, and only use coconut oil on my “meh-mostly shaped” brows and lashes. I kept this very minimal personal routine even after we returned to the office. I have time in the morning to walk the dog, do my yoga, breakfast and puzzles, and still pull myself together in 20 minutes to get to the office on time. Yay!
      Probably the biggest thing for me was going all in on making, remaking, and repairing my own clothes. As bras wore out, I discovered that (a) I’m really terrible at making bras and (b) I really don’t like or need to wear one. I get by with making tanks and camis with patterns fitted perfectly to my body and tastes. So far, no comments…but then, I don’t think anyone would dare cross that boundary with me. Age and orneriness have their privileges…

    23. Fellow Traveller*

      I feel like I didn’t do a whole lot – even pre-pandemic, I didn’t shave or colour my hair or wear make-up.
      The one thing I did do was stop wearing deodorant. I will use it now on days that I bike to work, but otherwise I don’t bother. It’s gotten to a point that I just use my Husband’s deoderant because I no longer keep it in stock for myself.
      Oh and I switched to bar shampoo. I’d always been worried that it wouldn’t work for my hair so I figured the pandemic was a good time to try it out, and it wasn’t great for the first fee washes, but now is fine.

    24. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I have started using makeup more since Covid, actually – I never liked using it while I was just around the home because it felt too ‘dressy’ but getting out of the house gives me an excuse to wear it which I really like.

      I did cut my hair to shoulder length last winter on impulse and have been really happy with the decision. I got tired of hair care and brushing and it runs to the fine anyways which makes it look worse when super long.

    25. Flash Packet*

      I cut waaaaay back on the makeup. I used to be into it, like a hobby, but now I’m happier with more time (and more money) that comes with reducing my makeup routine — which includes getting the makeup out and then putting it back and tidying up the counter –to 15 minutes instead of almost an hour.

      I also quit shaving my legs except for maybe every few months. But that’s because I realized that, for me, aging means less leg hair. I only shave it when I can feel the handful of hairs waving in the breeze when I’m outside in shorts.

      And I quit worrying about having “cute” footwear. I go with what’s comfortable instead of what will get me compliments (and major foot pain).

      Lastly, I pull my below-the-shoulder-blade long hair straight back into a ponytail. That’s mostly because I wear a mask with head straps instead of ear loops, but I do it when working from home, too, for video meetings.

      But on the days when I won’t be seeing anyone from work? My unwashed hair gets covered with a baseball cap, my face goes bare, and I wear clown-shoe Crocs.

      Which means that I only do the traditional feminine “look professional” things because of my job and my industry’s workplace norms.

    26. HBJ*

      Nope, I haven’t made any changes. I still don’t put on makeup if I’m going to be home all day, but I always do when going out or seeing people. I shower the same amount. I actually just recently started shaving more. Or rather, I got an epilator and keep my legs smooth that way. I used to go months, often most of the winter, never shaving my legs since they weren’t going to be visible.

    27. Rosyglasses*

      I’ve focused more on skin care but mostly because of aging – but also so I can go lighter on makeup. I still wax and shave because I like it better (it’s interesting to read the commentary about being “indoctrinated” or not) and have enjoyed going back for massage, sauna and nails.

    28. 22five*

      Interesting question!

      I ended up cutting my own hair – used to get it cut every six weeks. I am able to (mostly) replicate how I like my hair cut – which is rather short, but I let it grow out longer in between, since cutting it myself is a PITA – but necessary, because I hate it when my hair feels “floppy.” I continue to cut my hair because I’m not doing anything in person that I can handle myself, since the pandemic is far from over. I was coloring my hair myself before the pandemic, and have continued, but I also let this go a bit longer – and yes, coloring my hair was always for me!

      The biggest shift in my beauty routine is in how often I shower (perhaps this is TMI?) – in the beginning of the pandemic, DH would chase after me if I didn’t shower every.single.day – which was ridiculous, since I wasn’t doing anything to generate sweat and we are in a drought. At some point, he stopped nagging, and I settled into showering and washing my hair twice a week. My skin is happier for it! If I do something that generates a sweat, then I will shower off cycle. I WFH, and think I smell fine – but haven’t put this to the test LOL.

    29. Banana*

      I started coloring my hair. I was 39, had a few stray grays since about 32, and just decided to stop ignoring them and start using box color in my natural color occasionally. That has progressed to straying a shade or two away from my natural color now and then…nothing that will leave a really obvious dye line if I get lazy about dyeing it, but minor changes in shade that please me personally.

      I also started cutting my own hair. Honestly I always struggled with consistently making and keeping cutting appointments anyway, and mine is an easy length to self cut so why not.

      And I started doing pedicures more often, which has progressed to professional pedis now. I bought some tools for home pedicures. I like the ritual of choosing a color and being able to admire it for a couple of weeks. Pedicures seem to last a lot longer for me than manicures, and I tend to pick at polish on my fingers, so I leave my hands alone mostly or just do a light colored home polish.

    30. MeepMeep123*

      I went full-on feral during COVID. Started growing out my hair, switched to leggings rather than pants, and stopped shaving. My hair is now approaching waist-length and gray (I never dyed it even before COVID), I still dress like a slob, and I only shave every so often when I’m especially inspired to do so.

      I’m actually kinda enjoying the “long gray hair in a bun” look, and I don’t think I’ll ever cut my hair again. Long hair is way easier to maintain. I’ve had so many bad haircuts over the years from all sorts of hairdressers who don’t understand curly hair – now I can just tie up the hair and look decent and be done.

    31. I take tea*

      Thank you so much for answering my question, it has been very interesting to read your comments.

  17. Crocheted familiar*

    I’m learning to knit! Please give me tips! I can already crochet but I’ve never really tried knitting before, so I thought I’d ask here for your ‘I wish someone had told me this earlier’ advice. What are things that would have really helped to know or have when you started out? Is there anything that was endlessly frustrating until you figured out a way to make it work? Do you have any recommendations for interesting early-beginner knitting patterns? How do stitch markers for knitting work? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. IWasHereToo*

      I used to think “stitch marker” meant something complicated. But it is literally just a way to mark where you started so you don’t lose track! There are a million places selling cutesy stitch markers, but I have found that a twist-tie from a package of bread works just as well. It’s like a bookmark: You can think of it as “a thing I need” and purchase a nice one, OR you can just grab whatever is on hand to mark your spot!

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        I just make them out of a scrap piece of yarn, just a loop with a knot. Then I can use different colours if I need to and lose them to my heart’s content.

    2. Gyne*

      Stitch markers are helpful if you are doing lace or cables, otherwise not so much. Yet I buy the cute ones I like.

      I wish I had bought a set of interchangeable needles sooner.

      Learning the Magic Loop method instead of using DPNs

      Google Stephen West’s “Weavin’ Stephens” method for weaving in ends as you go! I learned this last year and do a lot of colorwork, it was a game changer.

      Are you on Ravelry? If not, join up!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      There’s two kinds of stitch markers, at least the way I use them — there’s a ring style that goes on the needle and marks stitch counts and progresses along with you, and then there’s a kind that are sort of like plastic safety pins almost that are handy for marking what you’ve already knitted, like to indicate the beginning of a repeated sequence of rows, or “this side is the front” or whatnot.

      Needle choices: Straight needles are the “traditional” option, but I do pretty much everything on circulars. No risk of losing a needle. They give you more length to work with so you can work on wider projects or spread your work out fully to get a look at it. When you put the project down, you can shove it all to the middle and be less likely to lose stitches off the ends. For bigger projects, the cable helps support part of the weight of the project and puts less strain on your hands and wrists. (This should go without saying, but you don’t have to knit in the round on circular needles, you can just go back and forth on them the same as on straight needles :) ) When you do get to knitting in the round: Don’t be afraid of double pointed needles. (But do use bamboo or wood ones, in case you drop one and end up sitting on it. I have legit seen people in the ED from sitting on and being impaled by metal DPNs.)

      My biggest tip for a newbie should be a lesson that carries over from your crochet experience, but just in case — it’s just string. Your GOAL is to tie the string in pretty knots. Sometimes you get the knots that aren’t what you wanted, and that’s okay, you can fix that. You have thumbs and scissors. One way or another you will win. Be the boss of your string. :)

      Learn how to read your knitting. Look at it when you’ve finished rows, so you can see the difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch and any other specialty stitches in your pattern. You should learn how to read both written patterns and charted patterns too, but all the pattern reading knowledge in the world won’t help if you knitted when you should have purled, so knowing how to look at your work and tell what you DID is key. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, and don’t be afraid of lace, cables, other fancy stuff. It’s all the same stitches, just rearranged. (Literally, a cable is just shuffling your stitches on the needle so you knit them CDAB instead of ABCD.) Be the boss of your string :)

        1. AGD*

          This! I didn’t try cables until several years after I started knitting. I didn’t need to wait so long! I also love lace, and with stitch markers would have done a decent job of it from early on.

        2. Crocheted familiar*

          This explanation of cables honestly made it much less concerning to have to figure out, so thank you for that. The rest of your advice is also very useful, especially the advice about wooden needles – I’d definitely rather splinters than getting impaled – so thank you so much for it all!

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      Since they are removable, I use the locking stitch markers to mark rows on socks (one marker every 10 or 20 rounds) to make it easy to count and be sure that both socks wind up the same size. I use the round stitch markers for marking the beginning of rounds or to mark increases/decreases or lace patterns.

      I wish I would have gotten my interchangeable needle sets sooner, but I think if I did that too soon I might have spent a lot of money on a set I wouldn’t have liked later on. I would try a few different kinds before deciding on a set.

      Also, swatching is important. I used to skip it, but now I make sure to do it. Sometimes I wind up using the pattern’s recommended needle size, but more than half the time I wind up going up or down a needle size, and getting the correct gauge is really important when you’re making wearables. Important to get to the correct dimensions AND to ensure you have enough yarn based on the pattern recommendations.

      1. AGD*

        Yes, this! I always skipped swatching/gauge, which was a bad idea because I knit very tightly and all the calculations for size and yarn quantity were always off.

        1. Crocheted familiar*

          Thankfully I’ve learnt the importance of gauge swatches in crochet but I’ll be sure to carry it forward into my knitting after these comments! It sounds like it might be a bit more important to knitting than it is to crochet.

          1. HamlindigoBlue*

            I can get a different gauge on the same size needle but with a different material. My gauge on a 6mm needle made of bamboo is not the same as on a 6mm needle made of stainless steel. Also, if I knit flat vs in the round, the gauge will not be the same. One tip is to swatch flat or in the round, depending on what the pattern calls for. I tend to knit a bit tighter when working flat, so for me it matters.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      Look at videos for both English and Continental and try both to see what you like—in a nutshell it’s about which hand you hold the yarn in. I like Continental because I think it’s easier to purl or to alternate between knitting and purling stitches, but it’s not for everyone.

      They several ways of holding the yarn to control tension until you find one that is really comfortable for your hands.

      Oh, and have fun!

      1. Christmas Carol*

        If you learn both English and Continental right when you start out, when you start doing color work you can just use your two colors one in each hand, and alternate as needed without having to drop and pick up each separate strand of yarn to work your pattern.
        Learn to “read” your knitting, learn to recognize the stitches, and rows after you have made them, and it will make following pattern stitches easier.

        1. Crocheted familiar*

          Oh that colourwork thing is a really good point! I’m definitely going to try and learn both so I can do that!

    6. AGD*

      Amazing! For me it was that needles made out of very different materials have entirely different feels. There are a bunch of options, and they differ wildly in terms of how heavy they are, how cold they are, how much they make a clicky noise, how pointy the tips are, and/or how slippery (or sticky) they are relative to yarn of different types. Bamboo and some aluminum needles (like Addi Turbo needles) are super light, wood tends to be in the middle, other metal needles heavy. I started on old metal needles, which I didn’t love, but as soon as I switched to bamboo, the entire world opened up. Other people find bamboo too light or too slippery or whatnot – disregarding the fact that needles are costly, experimenting is encouraged.

      1. Crocheted familiar*

        This is such a useful explanation! I have joint problems, so it’s good to know that metal needles probably won’t be for me *before* I buy any. I’ve started with bamboo entirely by accident but it seems like that was actually a good choice for me.

        1. AGD*

          For sure! I have a chronic circulatory thing that makes bamboo a better bet for me too, so I know this feeling. I also love that they’re light and not too noisy. I need to take inspiration from you and learn crochet as well!

          1. Crocheted familiar*

            Do it! There are so many pretty patterns for things like shawls and jumpers, and it’s very good for things like stuffed animal toys, which are great for gifts. I think my top two tips for crochet are the ergonomic crochet hooks (with rubber on the handles) because they’re so much easier to hold and use, and using a stitch marker in the working loop to stop the entire work unravelling when you have to put it down. There’s also a difference in US and UK stitch names, so make sure you know the language the pattern is written in. They’ll usually say, but if you see ‘sc’ or ‘single crochet’, it’s US stitch names because UK names start at ‘dc’ which is ‘double crochet’. It’s easily to get used to though.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Coming from crochet, I found the Continental or “pick up” style where the yarn is held in the non-dominant hand to be much faster and easier than the “throw over” (sometimes called English or American, depending where you are).

      The main tip I always give people learning to sew, knit, etc, is that there are techniques to fix many kinds of mistakes, and the process makes you better at the craft. So don’t worry about making them, and try to learn different techniques as you go.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes! Picking is so much easier than throwing with a crochet background.

        Semi-related: If you find yourself looking on YouTube for technique videos, make sure you find someone who knits with the same hand you do. Lefties vs righties don’t have differences all the time, but when they do, the difference can be significant, and likewise pickers vs throwers. (I think lefties are more likely to throw? but maybe I’m making that up.)

    8. Mostly Managing*

      As someone else has already said, get yourself set up with a Ravelry account.
      Squillions of patterns, a really good searchable data base, and lots of friendly folks in the forums who will answer “help I’m stuck” type questions.

      Then, look at patterns by Tin Can Knits. Some of them are paid patterns, but they also have a LOT of free patterns specifically designed for beginners. Everything from hats and mitts to socks and sweaters.

      And have fun!!

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      Check with your local library or yarn store for knitting groups in your area. I learned crochet as a child and decided to become bi-stitchual now that I’m in my 50s. Not surprisingly, knitters love to share what they know. I’m still better at crochet, but I really love the distinctive clicking sound of knitting needles. I find it very soothing.

    10. Bibliothecarial*

      You likely already know this, but I didn’t figure it out for years so I’m going to say it anyway :). Don’t use crappy yarn. No red heart, no crappy garage sale stuff. One might think it would save money, but it just feels icky to the hands and I hated everything I made with that yarn, even if it was a nice pattern. For economy yarn, I like Caron and Willow brands. (Any other yarn suggestions? Not that I have a closet full or anything…)

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

      When knitting in the round, I always knit a few rows back and forth before joining, because then you have a flat ribbon of knitting that makes it’s much easier to check and make sure that you aren’t twisting it when you join (which is basically impossible to fix neatly if you do it).

    12. Mephyle*

      This is a recommendation for an early-beginner project. I’m not a skilled knitter, but I knitted my way through this project, and now I’m not fazed by increases, decreases, round knitting, lace, short rows, bobbles, colour patterns, picking up stitches from an edge, or pretty much anything that a pattern can throw at you.

      That’s because this project has them all, but in a carefully staged progression from the most basic, and gradually working your way up the skill levels. You start with a simple garter stitch (the simplest kind of knitting there is), go on to regular knitting, and then start adding other skills.

      Each new skill results in a square, and when you’re finished, you sew the squares together to make an afghan or bed cover.

      All the details can be found in the book Learn-To-Knit Afghan Book by Barbara G. Walker. Check your library, or buy it online. It’s an oldie but it’s the best.

    13. MeepMeep123*

      The only thing I ever used stitch markers for was to do Japanese sock heels. I really don’t think you need them for anything else unless you’re doing something really complicated.

      By the way, I knit Russian-style and find it way easier than either English or Continental. If you’re just starting out, this is a good style to check out.

    14. Silence*

      The most important thing is to enjoy yourself.
      Things others have mentioned that I also recommend
      – interchangeable needles
      – ravelry
      – don’t be afraid of mistakes it’s only yarn and can be fixed/ unraveled or if you want a save point use lifelines
      – in person meet ups can help a lot. See if meet up or your local library has any
      I like very pink knits on YouTube for very clear tutorials
      Knitting seems to work up slower then crochet so maybe start with a smaller project

  18. Strong Aroace Vibes*

    What are you doing when you do your “personal style”? (This is inspired by last week’s redecorating thread and long and wonderful gender thread.)

    I used to think style is just: Wearing things you like. Everyone says, “Wear/look how and what you want, just ‘do you’, ‘be yourself’” etc.

    But there’s more communication going on than just wearing a bunch of articles you like to wear—there’s a “whole” that comes together out of the individual parts of somebody’s presentation.

    And that “whole”—someone’s style/presentation/look—is a tool to communicate something to the world about yourself, about group identity, etc. This has little to do with (and in fact may be in conflict with) “wear what you like”, and everything to do with “wear what you need to wear so that others will see you they way you want to be seen.”

    Basically, how do people reconcile these two forces? Of wearing what feels “at-home” to you vs using your “look” as a tool to get people to interact with you the way you’d like?

    I’m thinking about this for queer-related reasons of style/presentation, but everybody has a style, and I’m interested in what everybody says!

    1. Day Dreamer*

      I’m a big fan of neutral colors and whites, and the casual yet polished look. I’m also very much into finding colors to wear that look good on you.

      I’m incredibly picky with clothing and honestly don’t like 95% of what I see online or in stores, I have the toughest time shopping :(. I don’t have a lot of clothes for this reason and the clothes I do love, they all look pretty similar. I despise the trends these days – high waisted, flare pants, vegan leather pants, crop tops that are basically bras, awkward shaped blouses, “paper bag” pants/shorts (wtf??)

      My usual style for work: black, navy, or grey pants (usually a bit more form fitting, or slightly loose) with a white or neutral color blouse/top. I do have some colored tops – such as blue and green, and they are more muted blues/greens as it looks better with my skin/eyes/hair (red head, green eyes, clearly very pale with freckles).

      My usual casual style: jeans or knit ponte pants with a fitted top or blouse. I love halter tops, casual tees that are form fitting and stretch, and sweaters that are not super oversized but a little flowy.

      I also love athleisure :)

    2. Jay*

      I had bariatric surgery five years ago and lost 200 lbs. I was 57 at the time. The last time I wore straight sizes I was 18 years old and Jimmy Carter was President. For about ten years I had to buy all my clothes online/by mail because I was too big for the plus-sized sections in the stores. I now wear a size 8/10 in US sizes – so in my late 50s I had to figure out my style. I spent a LOT of money on clothes the first couple of years and bought a bunch of stuff that wasn’t right before I settled on a look I like.

      Being comfortable for me means not just that the clothes are physically comfortable. It also means that I am comfortable with the image I’m projecting, which is what I think you are talking about. Turns out my work style is softly tailored and on the dressier side of business casual. I prefer A-line skirts to pencil skirts and I like blazers with a little swing to them. I am a cis woman and I definitely like feminine clothing – but even my dressy clothes are simple and fitted, no ruffles or frills. Last spring we went to an Orthodox wedding so I needed something that covered my arms, went below my knees, and was cool enough to wear outdoors in hot, humid weather. I ended up with a flowy midi-length pastel dress with a chiffon overlay. My husband said “that’s lovely but it doesn’t look like you.” He’s right, and I doubt I’ll wear it again.

      I didn’t think ahead about what style I wanted. I tried a bunch of stuff and after about a year at the same size I went through my closet, donated the things I wasn’t wearing, and realized I’d settled on a “look.”

    3. NeonFireworks*

      Fantastic question! I can recommend a podcast called Looking Feeling Queering that often gets into this sort of thing, but I’m also super interested in what people here have to say on the subject.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Style is a language, definitely. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone saying what they want to say with it who’s unhappy with their look.

      I mean, all the queer women with side shaves or undercuts weren’t wearing that style (are y’all still wearing it?) because of a strong aesthetic preference for bare skull. They were wearing it because it said “I’m queer”, which is what they wanted to say.

      I’m pretty sure I like long, flowing skirts partly because they say “pretty” and “feminine” and “dressed up”, though swishy fabric is also objectively awesome. If I lived in another time and another place with another style language, maybe I’d like loud prints or hedgehog hair, because they would say the same thing.

      Pink is the perfect example of this. There is nothing about it, objectively speaking, that says “feminine”. In the middle ages, it was considered “pale red” and thus a perfectly manly color. So when little girls pick it as their favorite color, when tomboys and straight men avoid it is as too girly, or when Elle Woods loves it for the same reason, it’s not really an *aesthetic* preference. They like/dislike it because of what it says.

      Basically, “being yourself” means to a large measure “wear something so that others will see you they way you want to be seen.”

      People who are unhappy (caveat: that I’ve seen) seem to be mostly people who feel that they are pretending to be something they are not and do not want to be. Yes, often something to do with gender or sexuality. A smaller subset are generally unhappy with themselves, so expressing themselves doesn’t help.

      My problem is more colors that I love that just don’t look very good on me. I love subtle earthy colors-I have a lovely soft sweater in cream and taupe and grey. It washes me out and makes me look blah. I look good in strong, deep jewel tones. But my closet keeps filling up with greys and browns, because they were so pretty at the store.

      And yeah, I would love to wear styles that say “elegant” “subtle” and “feminine”. But I know these colors actually say “blah” and “mousy” on my body, so I need to stop buying them. One of these days I will hopefully learn.

      1. GraceC*

        Re: the queer woman hair – I’m a queer cis woman who [i]really[/i] wants people to actually read and interact with me as such – but my personal style, the thing that says me to me, is high femme in a long skirt long hair lots-of-lipstick kind of way, and no-one reads that as queer :(

        I did contemplate the side shave paired with keeping my long hair, just so I might actually be spotted in the wild without having to say anything, but the grow-out process is intimidating and I care too much about my hair to want to chop it all off, even if it will grow back. (That’s what people always say – it’s just hair, it’ll grow back! – but it’s longer than waist-length and would take [i]years[/i] to grow back, so no thanks!)

        I’m considering dying it instead and hoping that it’ll be at least a little bit of a signal, since straight girl fashion where I live right now is very “blonde Y2K” and my style is very much not that?

        Finding a balance between being seen and feeling good is hard! But priority number one right now is feeling good, so we’re sticking with the pretty dresses and glittery make-up indefinitely, I guess

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I’ve got no experience with being queer, but I do have a lot of experience having long hair and growing it out. It takes forever! I’d guess 4-5 years from shaved to past waist, at average growth speed. I don’t blame you at all for not wanting to have to do it.

          Best advice is a rainbow purse, but I’m pretty sure that’s lousy advice.

          1. Genderqueer Anon*

            If GraceC want queer people to recognize her as queer, rainbow (or other pride flag colored) accessories are a good way to go. I recognize when people have pins and watchbands that are rainbow or the bi or pan flag colors. Also consider painting your fingernails the color of whatever flag best represents you. That would be a good mix of high femme and visibly queer.

            1. marvin*

              Tattoos and piercings also work for this, although obviously not as easy to give up on if you decide you don’t like them. I’m already pretty gay-looking but currently contemplating a facial piercing in the constant quest of looking even gayer.

      2. Schmitt*

        “I mean, all the queer women with side shaves or undercuts weren’t wearing that style (are y’all still wearing it?) because of a strong aesthetic preference for bare skull. They were wearing it because it said “I’m queer”, which is what they wanted to say. ”

        I mean… no? I wear it because I think it looks cool AF?

        1. JSPA*

          But there are things that might look cool AF that, if the look were used to signal some stance you found deeply problematic, you would not wear them, after all (or not outside the bedroom)… and other things that look cool AF because you associate them with people who are cool AF… it’s hard to detangle.

          I lived in an area where something not unlike the undercut turned out to be the look of choice for a pretty intolerant sociopolitical group that loathed homosexuality. (And they were sure that lesbianism was taking over the world, because Those Horrible Women came up and were flirty with them, for No Reason!) The semi-undercut, trust me, stopped looking cool AF pretty fast, in that context.

      3. JSPA*

        Heh, I actually love the look of mousy-colored people in mouse-tones.

        If you need to sparkle to look less blah to yourself, could you get brooch with a faux jewel with those tones? (With abalone populations doing badly, one doesn’t see abalone shell brooches so often anymore, but they work well to offset mouse-tones, seaweed tones and heather tones).

    5. Reba*

      I think about this a lot! I wrote a phd dissertation that touches on it, lol. (happy to suggest some further reading if you like!)

      The two forces that you name can be in opposition, but I would disagree that they have little to do with one another. On some level they are also entangled, even inseparable. “Wear what you like” — what I like, and even who I am or how I know who I am, is linked to my social identity. We don’t like things in a vacuum! We like things from among the repertoires and materials available to us, and the range of meanings we learn about them. I’m not suggesting there is no freedom in personal style, by a long shot, but IDK to me somehow thinking about this complicated back and forth takes some of the pressure off of being “unique” in style, or expressing yourself perfectly. It’s so complicated, because we depend on our own understandings of our expressions but also upon others’ readings of them, which we can’t really control. Plus there is the layer of physical sensation/comfort preferences (which again are socially conditioned in part). The way we feel as people interact with us no doubt affects how we feel “at home” or off-balance in certain looks, too.

    6. marvin*

      This has been an interesting question for me to navigate as I have been in the process of transitioning. It’s kind of fascinating to see how gender can be felt and interpreted in all kinds of tiny ways, arising from interactions between how you look, how you move, how you sound, how you dress, how you groom yourself. As someone who sees my own gender identity as something complex and changeable, transitioning feels like a series of micro experiments to see how looking and dressing and acting in certain ways feels and how it changes how others react. I’m kind of fascinated by the fact that I don’t have a good grasp on how my gender is perceived by others, which can be scary but also thrilling. It’s hard to describe all of this because it doesn’t really happen in an intellectual space.

      1. Genderqueer Anon*

        I’m kind of fascinated by the fact that I don’t have a good grasp on how my gender is perceived by others

        I’m not in an area of the US where “sir” and “ma’am” are used frequently, but when they are used (always by strangers and usually in brief interactions) they’re a fair proxy for “what gender are people perceiving me as.” Before I started playing with my gender presentation, I was consistently referred to as “ma’am.” Since I’ve started experimenting more, I am now referred to with a mix of “ma’am,” “sir-ma’am, sorry,” and “sir,” which warms my genderqueer heart to no end.

        1. marvin*

          I definitely get my share of “sir … ma’am?”, “[extremely long pause] … ma’am?” or “Sir? Sorry.” Which I generally like even though it’s awkward, haha. But my gender presentation varies a lot from day to day and I don’t live in a very sir/ma’am-heavy area either, so it’s hard to keep a bead on it.

    7. Dinwar*

      Jeans, flannel shirt, and boots is my personal style. This does two things. First, it simplifies my life–I don’t need to worry about what I’m wearing, everything fits together. Second, this is the style that reads “Management” on a jobsite, so it communicates that I’m not some random dude slinging a shovel. Rugged enough that when I need to prove I can do their job I can jump right in (had to do that today, in fact!), but good enough that if the client wants to have a meeting I’m not embarrassed. Plus it’s more or less what men wore where/when I grew up, for the reasons I gave above, so it fits culturally. And the Mighty Mighty Bostones were known for wearing it, which is a plus.

      I also have a cloak, tunic, hose, baldric, and circlet, but folks tend to give me very funny looks when I wear that outfit in public, so I only do that on certain occasions. And the hauberk, sadly, rarely sees an excuse to b worn. :( Not sure where my new Mongolian outfit fits, but it’s court garb, it’s supposed to show off not fit a personal style.

    8. Genderqueer Anon*

      I think I’m fairly lucky in that what feel “at home” to me and what “look” is the best tool for getting people to interact with me the way I like are fairly aligned at the moment.

      When I came out as gay, I started experimenting with some of the stereotypes. Flannels? Feel comfortable and cozy in the fall and winter. I like how they feel, I like how they look on me, and if people see them and think “she looks like a lesbian” that’s a bonus. Hawaiian shirts? Same deal, I like how they fell, I like how they look on my, and I like the queer signaling.

      I’ve been questioning and experimenting with my gender for a while now. I have started to ship for clothes across both “women’s” and “men’s” sections in stores. I had an epiphany that the three questions that mattered when trying on an item of clothing are:
      – does it feel good?
      – does it fit correctly?
      – does it look good?
      And I should only buy clothes where all three answers are “yes.” Again, I am lucky that when the answer to those three questions are “yes,” which takes care of the “at home” feeling of my presentation, the queer signalling naturally follows.

    9. HannahS*

      What an interesting question! My general aesthetic preference is a Pinterest-fueled fantasy of East-coast prep mixed with English country style mixed with Edwardian professor. Wool dresses, blouses, hand-knit sweaters, etc. But I’m really, really REALLY dedicated to comfort, plus I’m cheap and have a one year-old. So my evening/weekend wear is a lot of jeans, t-shirts, and cozy sweaters.

      I put a lot of thought into my work clothes, though. I want my clothes to fade into the background; I don’t have a “big personality” and I feel I’m easily overshadowed by loud clothes. Because my patients are often heavily marginalized I want to look non-threatening. No visible brand names, inexpensive watch, I don’t wear blazers or jewellery. I’m often in chinos, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a cardigan or wool pullover. Since covid I don’t really wear dress shirts (and I wear scrubs when I can but my current hospital’s scrubs have an OPEN FLY which is just such BS so I wear my own clothes under gown/gloves.)

      From a gender perspective, I do find it incredibly frustrating that I see every single male colleague in beige chinos, a blue dress shirt, and brown shoes. Like, wow, all the non-cis-male people I know have to put so much thought into this, but when I tried to just wear, you know, chinos and a blue dress shirt I could! not! find! women’s chinos that weren’t just jeggings. My kingdom for some pockets, you know? Plus, I don’t think that the exact contour of my butt needs to be publicly viewable and I deeply resent that it’s so hard to find pants that just fit roughly the way men’s pants fit–trouser-ish.

    10. Strong Aroace Vibes*

      “I settled on a look I like…means that I am comfortable with the image I’m projecting.” …“Style is a language, definitely.” … “We like things from among the repertoires and materials available to us, and the range of meanings we learn about them.” … “I think I’m fairly lucky in that what feels “at home” to me and what “look” is the best tool for getting people to interact with me the way I like are fairly aligned at the moment…the queer signaling naturally follows.” … “Finding a balance between being seen and feeling good is hard.”

      Thanks for this, everyone! I’m coming to a better sense of it. I can see how “what feels like you” is in fact pretty tangled up with “what communicates what you want to communicate.” Like, if you and other people are speaking the same style language, what somebody expresses as “themself” will be read that way by others—>style success. For example when a woman includes the fact of being read as a woman into her stylistic communication, and other people ALSO read her as “woman with x clothing,” and in so doing they understand what she is communicating.

      Someone’s body being read as male/female is a lens through which style choices are understood, and I think the style-language thing gets trickier when someone’s body means something to a them that’s different from the lens it communicates to others.

      For example, what feels “at home” to me is practical workwear-inspired overalls and flannel-type clothes. It’s always been that way, but recently I’ve been specifically looking to lesbian folks—I’d like people to feel about me the same way I feel about them. On someone whose body is read as female, my natural style would communicate “probably a delightful not-very-feminine lesbian!” On my male-coded body, the same clothes communicate, “…some dude wearing guy clothes.” There might be ways I could communicate that same idea while accounting for my male-coded body…but what “being seen how I want to be seen” would require wouldn’t be what I “for myself” would want to wear.

      Your comments here are helping me understand that my male-coded body plus male-coded clothes will have a hard time saying what I want it to say, which is why I feel such a disconnect between “what I want to wear” and “what I want to say,” and why I posted the question with that premise. But I can see that ideally—and for most people—personal style works such that one’s at-home style simply IS (and results from) the thing they want to communicate.

    11. JSPA*

      Defaulted-to-female person here.

      There are rare situations where I end up wearing something “effective” essentially as camouflage or a costume. So while it’s not “me” in terms of clothing, it’s absolutely “me, in disguise as the person I need you to treat me as.” I’m still owning the process and the outcome and feeling good about myself in the role, as I assume an actor might.

      To be clear, I’m normally less at home in an evening dress than I would be as the back end of a two person horse costume! But, just as I’d wear the horse costume if needed, for a good enough reason, so too, I can wear the dress. (It feels like drag, and hey, I’m fine with drag.)

      I figure I don’t need to have just one self or style, in any case. Channel Walt Whitman: “I contain multitudes.”


      here’s how the questions go.

      “how much is this event supposed to be about me?”

      “Fun or work?”

      “how legitimately important is it to anyone else that some default pattern be followed?”
      (costumes, bridesmaids, themed regalia, whatever).

      “is there sociopolitical subtext that makes me unhappy about this, and no really compelling reason for me to do it, and if so, is there a reasonable excuse to bow out?”

      If I’m supposed to be there to “be me” and “be myself,” I figure I have free rein to do much more of that. If I’m a bridesmaid because all of the groomsmen spots are filled by people who need to present masculine, and I’m flexible…eh, I’ll probably ask if I can staff the cookie table instead, frankly? But for a good friend, I won’t refuse. For a funeral, I will wear the something black and covering that’s approved for the sitution, and obviously STFU about anything as trivial as my clothing awareness.

      If I can catch my own eye in the mirror and think, “yup, looks like me” or else “yup, good costume, go make some good trouble” or even, “I see my parents and grandparents looking back out of that mirror” or “I’m being a supportive friend”–it’s all good!

      If it’s often, or regularly, “ugh, who is that, even…I hate this and hate having to wear this…I feel like a pawn and a fraud”–I won’t say, don’t do it, but maybe do it only if you must, like to save lives (including your own)?

      It’ll wears you down.

      Fairly extreme signaling aside (and creepy, bored boudary-pusing coworkers aside, I guess???) most people will not invest significance into your style, beyond “looking intentional” vs “looking confused, unhappy and a hot mess.”

      Given that my natural style is schlubby–which is not an identity–I do have to pull things together for situations with an actual dress code, or when I want to be taken seriously in the sort of places where suits and the implication of money get you listened to. Or, in a different way, where looking grandmotherly or scholarly or schoolmarmish will do the trick.

      But for daily wear, I do my equivalent of, “I will wear purple with a red hat that does not go and does not suit me,” if that’s what suits the me that’s inside.

    12. Anon-E-Mouse*

      I’m a senior lawyer in a non client-facing role at a big city law firm. The firm’s dress code is moderately stylish business casual if you’re not meeting clients. (For example, nice jeans are okay but not t-shirts.)

      Out of the office my style tends toward stretchy, durable clothes that can handle dirt, paws, fur, feathers and drool because I volunteer as a photographer for animal rescue groups. And, as a vegan, my wardrobe doesn’t (to my knowledge) incorporate any products derived from animals (i.e. no leather, wool, silk etc). Message t-shirts, some cheeky (“Eating animals is weird”) and some more direct), are a pretty common feature.

      At work, I’ve tried to incorporate elements of my personality and values into my appearance but more in the manner of hints that I hope invite questions and conversation. The message t-shirts are (obviously) off limits, but I have metal bracelets with vegan messages on them. Somewhat unusually for a nearly 60 year-old corporate lawyer, I’ve got farmed animal (eg chicken and sheep) footprint tattoos on my wrists. And my wardrobe includes dresses and shirts with animal imagery in fairly subtle prints. A fair number of people know I’m vegan and they do sometimes engage me in conversations about my wardrobe (eg how to find vegan dress shoes, how to dress warmly in winter without wearing down or wool) or what I eat.

    13. The New Wanderer*

      It’s interesting to me because I had a bilateral mastectomy – no reconstruction earlier this year (breast cancer awareness month!), so a lot of my tops and dresses really do not fit like they did before. No regrets at all, but even so, D-cup to completely flat is pretty drastic! I’ve worn a bra since I was 11 (36 year of my life) and now I just … don’t. I did get prosthetics but I realize now that I’ll probably never wear them. The few times I’ve tried wearing them, it just felt so odd I quit after an hour.

      I’ve been going through my closet and drawers and getting rid of the stuff that is now too low cut, too gappy at the arm holes, too fitted, or otherwise hangs oddly… Seeing what doesn’t work or feel right is easy. But I’ve only started getting a few new tops that look cute and work with my new body, because it’s hard. I don’t know what looks like me now. So, what I end up wearing about 90% of the time is loose fitting t-shirts with a long sleeve shirt layered over, and joggers. Fast, comfy, and easy to hide behind for now.

  19. IWasHereToo*

    Language podcasts:

    A couple years ago I started learning Spanish, because I took a job at a clinic where our patients are largely Latino. It has been a slog but I’m proud of myself. I remember when I got to the point where I could understand some of the Duolingo Spanish podcast— I shed a couple tears realizing I was understanding it!

    Now, I’ve gotten to the point where that podcast is slightly too easy. I can understand about 90% of it without effort. I need another podcast (or audiobook I guess) that is just *slightly* more advanced. I can’t just start listening to, like, BBC World News in Spanish, because I wouldn’t be able to follow it.

    Anybody have recommendations for an intermediate listener?

    1. Day Dreamer*

      Advanced Spanish speaker here. Have you tried Radio Ambulante? It’s native level speed but they have transcripts online to follow along (as well as Spanish from all over the world).

      This is how I advanced my Spanish listening skills early on, listening to slow Spanish is a disservice for learning because you get used to listening to a very well enunciated and pronounced language. No one speaks like that, and it’s a rude awakening when you chat with folks in real life from countries where they speak super fast. I have several friends from Buenos Aires, and when I first started chatting with them, it took me a good 2 months to be able to understand them. Nowadays, Argentine Spanish is the one I understand the best.

      1. Day Dreamer*

        Edit: I always recommend listening to slow spoken Spanish early on in your language learning journey, but once you hit a good level and can communicate well, it’s time to leave that behind.

      2. IWasHereToo*

        As I said, I work at a clinic where our patients are monolingual, so I get plenty of real world practice.

        I’ve never heard of Radio Ambulante— I am going to go look it up now! Thanks for the recommendation

      3. Erica*

        +1 for Radio Ambulante. Don’t get discouraged if some episodes / certain accents are harder to understand than others — I’ve been learning/ speaking Spanish for 15+ years and Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican accents still really challenge me. I love the way they sound tho!

      4. Kw10*

        I *LOVE* Radio Ambulante, and they also have an app called Lupa that’s designed specifically for intermediate level Spanish learners. Sounds like that might be perfect for you.

    2. Ranon*

      The speed at which Spanish is spoken varies dramatically by area- I’m far from an expert but I seem to recall when I was learning Puerto Rican Spanish was one of the most accessible for me – you might try something out of that area?

    3. Sister George Michael*

      I would recommend “News in Slow Spanish.” Interesting topics at different levels and speeds.

    4. Still*

      I’ve been listening to Españolistos, it’s by a married couple, she’s Colombian and he’s from Texas. They’ve been doing the podcast together for several years and as far as I can tell, he went from quite advanced to pretty fluent. They talk about a range of topics and I find that I understand enough to be able to learn a lot of new words from the context.

    5. Mephyle*

      1) Slow news in Spanish. There are a variety of sites and podcasts for this, which you can find with a search. Check them out and hopefully you can find some that are more challenging than the Duolingo podcasts but still a bit slowed down to help learners.
      2) Movies/shows. Especially movies you’ve already watched in English, so you have some idea what is going on. Many streaming services offer a choice of audio, and of subtitle language. Rewatch with Spanish audio. If you can’t understand very much, start with English subtitles. If you can understand a fair bit, skip that and go to Spanish subtitles. If you rewatch enough, you may get to the point where you can do without subtitles.

    6. Yoli*

      My cousin wants to maintain her Spanish now that she’s in a more monolingual English work environment and listens to The Princess of South Beach, which is a telenovela podcast that releases each episode in both English and Spanish.

    7. Jackalope*

      I would also recommend if this is something that won’t drive you crazy, putting on something that’s beyond your level and having it play in the background. Even if you don’t understand it all, it will still help you grow accustomed to speech patterns, tones, etc, and it can help your brain get used to what it’s like to listen to Spanish at the full speed.

    8. MeepMeep123*

      I’m at that point myself, and I love Lingopie. It gives you Spanish-language TV shows and movies with subtitles in Spanish, and with slowed-down speech. The shows I’ve seen on it are very interesting and the subtitles help quite a lot, even though they’re in Spanish.

    9. WheresMyPen*

      Not a podcast primarily but I think they do have one – I love the EasySpanish YouTube channel. They go around the streets of Spain or Mexico and interview members of the public about random topics. They also have bilingual subtitles. My friend also recommended Coffee Break Spanish. I haven’t listened yet but sounds like they tell a story over the season and there are different options for different levels.

  20. J.B.*

    Does anyone have advice for supporting executive function when it is low (tested and definitely low due to brain wiring and childhood experiences) and yet you are also the executive function for your family? I’m thinking about blogs etc that might have tips. Due to spouse’s brain wiring I can’t give up much-kid’s medical professionals have asked me to attend appointments because he doesn’t give them descriptive information. I have offloaded specific things to him – bill paying and scheduling house cleaners. In theory he checks kid schoolwork and gets them to do their modest chores but it doesn’t always happen. Are there other domains I could pass of and just accept if not done? Are there creative solutions I could consider?

    1. Ruby*

      This sounds like it may be good to his take on. You could frame it as, “I am struggling with the load I’m carrying, can we discuss ways that you could help out more?” It’s hard to advise without knowing what kind of issues he’s running into – does he have trouble remembering things? Problem solving? Would checklists work? It’s hard to say what the solution should be without understanding what’s causing the problems

    2. RagingADHD*

      Mom with ADHD, married to a guy with ADHD, and have 2 kids with significant ADH traits but nothing needing dx yet. Our house is pretty chaotic.

      The main thing I’ve learned is the importance of letting go of doing things “correctly” and focus on getting needs met, while learning how to correct errors and contribute where I can. We’re late to stuff a lot, and I apologize. Stuff gets left behind, and we improvise. We pay library fines. I don’t organize activities or volunteer to be in charge of things, but we’ll show up and pitch in or bring something awesome. If we can’t be on time, we can at least give people reasons to be happy to see us.

      I definitely lowered my housekeeping standards after having kids, because we are all just as unreliable as each other, and it doesn’t feel fair to make a fuss when I’m going to turn around and see something I missed, too. We dwell somewhere below “company ready in two hours” but above “call the authorities.”

      I have never checked my kids’ homework. YMWV based on your kids’ temperament, but I told my kids that school is their job. I’ll help them with anything they need/want help with, but otherwise they get the grade they earn. If they flunk, I’ll love them the same.

      However, my kids are highly motivated by approval and recognition from teachers. My system might not work with kids who are ambivalent or resistant about schoolwork. It’s just an example of letting go of other people’s expectations and deciding what is or isn’t really necessary to get the outcome you want (kid who learns and feels secure).

      I externalize things as much as possible. I write things in a long, running paper notebook and transfer it where it needs to go, like the calendar, email, grocery list, etc. I use a lot of phone notes and post-its.

      Things in the house get labeled with tape and Sharpie. I have a couple of items that used to “float” until I taped out the spot they belong and wrote the name of it on the tape (the way propmasters do backstage at a play). I tape things to the back door or the bathroom mirror so we don’t forget them.

      We share a family calendar, and my husband & I spend a *lot* of time talking about what needs to get done and how we can cover it.

      I think part of making peace with it is a point you get to in your relationship and your life. Earlier on in our marriage, we had more tension over who was “supposed” to do this or that.

      Then time wears the edges down. I’ve been ill or had crises that left him managing solo or having my back. He’s had crises or injuries that left me flying solo and having his back. We’ve swapped off being the breadwinner vs the SAHP at various times due to the job market.

      The age of the kids matters a lot, too. The more independent they get, the less you do for them physically but the more you need to invest emotionally (and the logistics of activities get more complicated).

      At some point you come to fully trust that you are all a team, and all the things you need to do are mutual responsibilities, and you’ll all muddle through together.

      IDK if that helps, I hope so.

      1. J.B.*

        That does help a lot. For myself I think I also need to balance rabbit holes with specific things-this am at least I thought “better reorder meds” somewhere along the way and did.it. I think there’s some medical stuff we can talk through and handle better.

        1. RagingADHD*

          When I say my husband talk logistics / tasks a lot, I mean on any given day we have probably touched base 3-5 times just about who is going to be where or get the thing or pick up the kid. Once or twice in person, and at least a couple of texts.

          Stuff changes, stuff gets remembered, new things come up. It’s ongoing.

    3. Ann Ominous*

      I don’t have ADHD but I do have executive dysfunction for other reasons. Here’s what I’ve found:

      r/adhd on Reddit is amazing for practical tried and true advice tips (not “exercise more so that you have more clarity” variety but more like “if you’re laying there and need to get up but can’t, visualize yourself getting up to do the thing, and if you still can’t, throw your phone across the room and follow it”.

      There’s also a really good podcast by a person with ADHD called Hacking Your ADHD, short episodes that are very practical and easy to focus on.

      Eating clean, exercising, getting enough sleep and water all REALLY help, so whatever you can do to get yourself doing those things more often will help.

      Pay the ADHD tax up front. If you know you’ll never cut up that pineapple and it will go bad and you’ll have to throw it away, so pay extra for the pre-cut pineapple because then you’ll eat it. Or pay for a meal prep/meal delivery service. Don’t pay for a gym membership you’ll never use, but do pay for a personal trainer to keep you accountable. Get a virtual assistant to keep up with things and get them done, cheaper than paying fines.

      Autopay all your bills and automate as many things as possible.

      Do ‘body doubling’ where you call or text a friend that you’re about to Do The Thing (dishes, oil change, work assignment) and the accountability and support helps.

      Do things that stimulate dopamine when doing boring tasks – listen to books or music or podcasts while folding laundry.

      Gamify things if that works for you – make a game of chores for example. There are a lot of apps that reward you for doing things and which can be shared among families.

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I’m the only person diagnosed with ADHD in a house full of people who definitely also have it but would never believe it/think it’s an insult/refuse all treatment and coping strategies. There’s two things I do to keep the household even slightly manageable.

      1: Offload as much executive function as possible to electronics or organizations. Anything you have trouble remembering, try to set an outside reminder or keep a digital list
      When something gets scheduled, I immediately type it in my phone’s calendar with multiple reminders. My default is 1 week/3 days/day before/morning of/hour before. I ask for text reminders from every medical practice I have to see, and get paper bills mailed for everything that I don’t have auto-pay set up.
      If something is running out, I type it into my phone’s notepad (shopping list apps are too much work to set up and I lose paper lists, but I rarely forget my phone and therefore can see what I’ve forgotten). I also do this for lists of errands, things I want to discuss in a specific meeting/appointment, and information/instructions I need to remember later.
      I have a daily alarm for my scheduled medicine times, and another one in mid-afternoon to remind me to drink something because I always forget and start feeling ill.

      2: I create A PLACE for each thing that gets lost all the time. This was a lot more work for me than average, with 4 generations of moderate hoarders. But the simple stuff was quick to set up. The trick is, it doesn’t have to be neat. Clear plastic bins and wide bowls/baskets/trays are your friend.
      There is now table by my front door where all the keys go. They walk in the house, they drop their keys there even before taking off their coat. There’s other stuff on the table, both decoration and clutter. But the space for the keys ONLY has keys and anything else is removed (even if it’s just dropped on another pile).
      A certain shelf is reserved for crafty stuff. I have a bin with drawing stuff, a bin with clay, a bin with diamond dotz, etc. When I’m bored with whatever craft, I just dump the supplies in the bin and stack it with the rest, and when I want to work on something specific, I just pull out that bin.
      For more help with that, I highly recommend the book “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD” by Susan C. Pinsky. It focuses on usability rather than looking neat, and includes a cleaning method that I found very helpful.

    5. JSPA*

      For doctor or equivalent fact-intense meeting:

      Print out and bring and/or email (or portal-message) info and questions in advance. Take notes of anything additional that they OR YOU (or kid) come up with, at the meeting. (This is chemo-brain standard, also helpful for others subject to forgetting and tangents).

      Bonus: If spouse can write (or record), spouse can even switch out for the actual meeting, and working off the notes, either of you can circle back by messaging.

      The key isn’t getting everything in order, so much as not having to use your brain to store info on what was covered and what was missed and still needs to be covered.

      If paper notes, spouse can type them up and email them to you, so you both have engaged with the information fully.

      (This also models the process.)

      Assigning cleaning tasks “time of” to both, always feels fairer. “You put away or in the dishwasher things sitting out in the kitchen, I’ll do equivalent for recycling and laundry through the rest of the house, then I’ll mop the kitchen while you vacuum what I’ve cleared, and we’ll both go hard enough to sweat for an hour” makes a big dent.

  21. Stephen!*

    How much of a tip do you leave for the cleaners of an extended stay hotel? I’ve been here for a month, if that makes any difference.

    1. Erica*

      Do they come every day? I don’t have experience with extended stay but if they clean daily I would prob treat it as I normally do for hotel cleaning staff. $5 per day tip is my go-to.

      1. Stephen!*

        No, they don’t clan at all while you’re staying here. There’s a kitchenette and I’ve been cleaning up after myself, of course- it’s really not that messy. I guess all they have to do is the routine cleaning, but since I’ve been here longer, it feels like it should be more?

    2. Buni*

      Tipping isn’t the huge thing where I am that it can be elsewhere, but the best advice I ever saw for all tipping is to think of it in terms of buying someone – by local prices – a drink.

      So for a one-off, small act you ‘buy’ them a beer. For something bigger, maybe a couple of beers or the equivalent of a round. For longer stays / jobs, a bottle of wine (how ‘expensive’ a bottle depending on circumstances). For really good jobs, the equivalent of a bottle of good spirits.

      Basically, think of what actual gift would be appropriate for the work in hand, and tip that amount.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I would do $5-10 per week, so $20 at least but $40 if you can manage it. when a place isn’t being vacuumed/mopped or the bathroom scrubbed daily, the dirt builds up, so a deep clean once a month takes more effort than a daily wipe down.

    4. mreasy*

      I would do like $20? Since they aren’t cleaning every day but presumably will be doing a MUCH more in-depth clean when you leave. I usually do $5/day for regular hotels.

  22. RMNPgirl*

    Update on my post last week regarding gabapentin for my cat.
    I was able to get it, compounded into liquid with a tuna flavor. Unfortunately, he’s too smart for his own good and realized his food smelled a little different and wouldn’t eat it. Fortunately, I was able to squirt it into his mouth.
    It did not last long enough at the groomers, so apparently by the end he was very spicy. However, I do think going forward it will work well for me trimming his claws and vet visits. I’m hoping now that all the tangles are gone, he will allow for more thorough brushing and we won’t have to get him shaved again.
    He can be a sweet cat (not as affectionate as I’d like) but he has a very strong sense of bodily autonomy and does not like being messed with.
    Thanks everyone for the advice and your experiences!

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Glad to hear this worked out well. Our cat just shakes off any gabapentin effects and ups her fighting game. It does make her a bit woozy but she’s still unclippable without major effort (towel burrito, face mask, special restraint bag to fish out one paw at a time). Husband says gabby makes her a “mean drunk”. We’ve considered taking it ourself to help with our anxiety!

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I get it, glad something worked. I had to have a cat fully knocked out and groomed/bathed by the vet recently because she wasn’t doing it and wouldn’t let me do it.

      If he gets tangles, trim them early if he won’t let you brush them out. It’s far better for him to look a little raggedy than to develop mats. Keep a standard comb on hand, slide it under the spot and cut along the comb so you don’t nick the skin. If you can do it while he’s sleepy that might be even easier.

  23. HannahS*

    Recommendation for a non-stick frying pan? It doesn’t have to be 100% perfect (I’m not cooking eggs in a dry pan, after all) but my most recent one bit the dust after five years and I’d like something longer-lasting. It doesn’t have to be Teflon-coated, just closer to non-stick than stainless steel and NOT cast iron. I’ve got joint problems and cast iron is too heavy for me to comfortable use. Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have used anodized aluminum cookware for ages. I got a set as a wedding gift in 2007, gave it away when I moved cross country but ended up getting another set in 2012, and gave that set away as hand-me-downs when I got a new set as a gift last year. The set from 2007 is still going strong on its third owner. :) Mine have all been Anolon, but Calphalon is I think the “biggest” name brand in anodized aluminum. I’ve gotten most of mine on Amazon, but it’s available in stores as well I’m sure.

    2. BRR*

      I see Tramontina recommended a lot. With nonstick, you’re not really going to get long lasting. But there’s also not a reason to spend a ton on a nonstick pan so it sort of balances out.

      The other thing to look at is carbon steel. It’s similar to cast iron but lighter (although still heavier than a nonstick pan).

      1. Bluebell*

        We have a large Tramontina pan but a smaller all clad. I use the all clad sometimes, but the Tramontina is easier to clean. It’s 4-5 years old, and will probably need replacing in another few years, but the all clad will last forever.

      2. fposte*

        As is so often the case with cooking stuff, BRR and I are on the same page. Buy nonstick in the expectation you will replace it, and factor that into the price point. I often just grab whatever’s the top recommendation in America’s Test Kitchen for the size, if the price and features sound like they work for me. So right now I have a small T-Fal and a larger Oxo.

        And one day, BRR, I will finally try carbon steel and will bore you to death with what I think about it.

        1. BRR*

          I also often just go with whatever Americas test kitchen or wire cutter recommend.

          Not if I bore you first! I think I’m finally close to finally buying a carbon steel pan (only said that about a dozen times). I realized only this week how much quicker my carbon steel wok heats up. That’s been an annoyance I’ve had with cast iron lately (in addition to the weight) so it might finally be the time.

    3. Erica*

      Wire Cutter review was helpful. We wound up getting Oxo and I like it. As other replies noted, either way the don’t last too long so I wouldn’t shell out a lot of money

    4. Stitch*

      I try to avoid nonstick because I have a young kid and have concerns about PFAS. I’ve been pretty happy with ceramic.

    5. Pan-demonium*

      For a less-expensive option, T-Fal Viva is pretty good and goes on sale at Canadian Tire all the time (you’re in Canada, if I recall correctly, and I’ve found that they’ve had some really good deals on cookware). I have another T-Fal that’s a few tiers above Viva (Titanium, perhaps?) that’s also really good.

    6. EdgarAllanCat*

      I like the online company, greatjoneswgoods.com, and their nonstick skillets. Plus their dutch ovens, sheet pans, etc. :)

    7. time for cocoa*

      I love the Ozeri Green Earth series. I am super picky about wanting a molded handle instead of a riveted one because I don’t think they’re hygienic. I just can’t clean underneath well enough for my taste.

    8. No Tribble At All*

      Ninja foodie brand! It’s not teflon, so you can actually cook on high heat without destroying the coating.

    9. Leenybear*

      Caraway! Pricier than some listed here, but so so worth it. Beautiful AND functional. Even if you let food sit, it slides right out when you clean it. I’m amazed every time.

    10. Anono-me*

      Just finished watching an old Cooks rerun and they recommended OXO for a big fry pan.

      If you just do one or two eggs at a time, I love my Bella egg pan . It is teflon and has a clear lid with a single vent and comes with a perfect sized plastic spatula. Right now Macy’s has them on sale for $8.

  24. Europe travel recs*

    Hi folks :) looking for some Europe travel recs for someone who loves the following:

    – Hiking
    – Beautiful scenic towns, easy to walk around and explore
    – Lots of history, culture, or art
    – Easy train travel

    I plan on going somewhere in April. I was thinking Scotland, Switzerland, or Sweden.

    Already been to Spain, Portugal, and Italy. While I’d love to go back, wanting somewhere new!

    1. UKDancer*

      I love Austria as it has some beautiful countryside and some lovely cities (Salzburg, Graz etc). Germany is also a deep love of mine with lovely walking around the Weinstrasse and by the rivers and beautiful historic cities. They also have a really good train service that is very user friendly.

      Switzerland is lovely but very expensive in my opinion. If you’re going to Scotland then Glasgow deserves more praise than it usually gets. It’s one of my favourite cities.

        1. Europe recs OP*

          Oops, got too fast with my fingers.

          What are some of your favorite places in Switzerland, and Scotland (aside from Glasgow)?

        2. UKDancer*

          I like Geneva because it’s lovely and the lake is pretty. There are some nice places around the lake in the Swiss and French parts. Thonon les Bains on the French side is lovely.

          I’ve also got a soft spot for Bern because everyone forgets it’s the capital. It’s a really pretty city. They also have some bears who are the symbol of the city and there’s one spot of the riverbank which is their home and you can sit and watch them in the bear park.

    2. Jay*

      Croatia. Can’t speak to train travel – we went by van when we were there last June. It has everything else on your list and was less expensive than Italy (the other country we visited on that trip). We were there for just over a week and I am eager to return!

        1. Jay*

          Rovinja, Split, and Dubrovnik, with a side trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park which is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever been. And I’ve been to Yosemite, Yellowstone, the fjords of Sweden, Alaska, and a lot of the western coast of the US. We only had a few hours to spend in Plitvice and I wish we’d been able to stay for days – that’s one of the reasons I want to go back. That and spending some serious time on a small boat sailing around the islands off Split and/or Dubrovnik. So, so gorgeous.

    3. Erica*

      Your choices sound great! Latvia and Estonia also had surprisingly (to me) beautiful landscape and hiking — not mountainous but pretty hills. Georgia also has spectacular hiking including big mountains if that’s what you’re interested in. Hopefully Russia won’t expand their aggression to those areas. Also heard Norway has beautiful landscapes

      1. UKDancer*

        Georgia is lovely and Tbilisi is fascinating. The food is also really good there. I wanted to do a wine tour of Georgia (they make some really impressive wine) this year but didn’t because I was a bit concerned about what Putin might do so I’ve delayed it another year.

      2. Europe recs OP*

        Georgia would be amazing! I absolutely love wine from there, especially orange wine.

        I’ll look into it and make sure to be diligent on what’s happening with Russia.

    4. Pippa K*

      How about Cyprus? It has all those things except train travel (because it’s too small!) and in April the weather should be more pleasant than in high summer. You can avoid the beach tourist destinations like Paphos and explore Nicosia, Limassol, and even the north. It has history, wonderful food, and hiking, and it’s more affordable than a lot of places.

      1. Europe recs OP*

        Ohhh Cyprus sounds so amazing! I had thought about doing Greece in the fall as well, perhaps I could make some time for Cyprus if I end up going :)

    5. Living here*

      Germany! The black forest (Schwarzwald) is beautiful. Bavaria, the state, is also unbelievably beautiful and very walkable/hikable. Forests and mounains of various sizes and heights abound. The Harz mountains are lovely (e.g. Quedlinburg or Goslar), but they tend to get rainy (but so beautifully rainy!) I’ve hiked up the Brocken there, for example, and took the historic steam train down the mountain. Fränkische Schweiz is another mountain range you might enjoy. If you like wine, the Rhine river and tributaries are gorgeous.

    6. Kathenus*

      A number of years back I was in Denmark for work, and took three days afterwards, rented a car, and pretty much criss-crossed the country. No set plans except some places people had recommended I visit – I’ve never taken a trip quite that unstructured before but it was wonderful. I had been in Copenhagen and Odense for the conference, and drove to Skagen at the very north of the country (where two seas meet, which was kind of cool – can take a ‘sand worm’ transport out to the beach), then to Esbjerg on the west coast, across to the white cliffs at Mons Klint in the southeast, then back to Copenhagen. And I missed them while I was there but if you go be sure to research the Thomas Dambo trolls to look for them too – I’ve gotten to see a few in the US and they are amazing.

    7. KatEnigma*

      I like the flatness of the Netherlands. LOL My FIL is planning on doing one of those biking tours there this spring (my husband’s Uncle did it previously)

      I second the ease of the German train system. If a small town midwestern girl who had never been out of the country (except to Canada) could manage it alone at 18, it’s easy!

    8. 30ish*

      As a Swiss person I will recommend Switzerland even though it‘s an expensive place. It‘s fantastic for train travel.

      1. 30ish*

        And it does not really matter where you go. It is beautiful pretty much everywhere and you can get everywhere by train within about 4 hours.

    9. Reba*

      I LOVED Scotland! You can do quite a bit by train, however I think for hiking, a car is necessary or at least really worthwhile. We hit a number of the “highlands and islands” and there are so many gems (if the weather is cooperative lol).
      Glasgow is significant in the history of art and design. They also have a museum of transportation that is fab.

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

        I adore Iceland, too, but I feel like to get around you need a car? Definitely would’ve taken a train places last time I was there if I’d been able to find one.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      I’m biased but Ireland. Our trains aren’t as good as some other places, but the main cities – Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick are all accessible by train. Our history is…well, given that we have written records going back in detail to the 7th century and less accurately to the 5th. And we have so many great writers and poets. Galway in particular is a centre of culture.

      And if you’d consider sports part of culture, hurling and Gaelic Football are sports that are unique to Ireland. We also have Irish dancing and ballads, many of them about events from history. It’s not hard to find a pub with a ballad session taking place.

      Newgrange in Co. Meath is over 5,000 years old.

      Most of our towns are fairly small. Dublin and Cork are about the only places where you don’t have pretty much everywhere in walking distance and they both have good bus services.

      1. Europe recs OP*

        Ireland would be amazing, I actually have quite a bit of Irish ancestors who came to the US in the 1700s. I’ll be looking into it!! Thank you :)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Dublin is a very fun city to visit – you really can’t go wrong there, as there’s something interesting for everyone. Same with Edinburgh. St Andrews is a small university town that gets overlooked by a lot of non-golfers, but it’s very beautiful. Scotland in general is extremely pretty.

          If you make it to England, I’d like to put in a plug for my home city of Liverpool. The people are incredibly friendly and witty, the culture is great and there’s a lot to see.

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

      I loved, loved, LOVED Scotland the couple of times I was there–friendly people, tasty food, gorgeous scenery and architecture, strong transit. I enjoyed Edinburgh, Inverness, the stunning train ride from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, and the Isle of Skye (rent a car on Skye to get around). My friends have explored more out-of-the-way places in the north of Scotland and also loved them.

    12. DistantAudacity*

      I was in the Alsace region of France this summer, which has exactly those things!
      We were based in Colmar (massively charming), and visited nearby villages like Keyserberg and Eguisheim. Rented ebikes were a winner! Everything was lovely, and very walkable. Hikes available in the nearby Vosges Mountains.

      It’s close to Switzerland (we actually drove up from Geneva, with a stop in Neuchatel), and Schwartzwald/Black Forest is just on the other side of the Rhine, to tie in with another commenter’s recommendations.

      For looking at train possibilities across continental Europe, I highly recommend Deutsche Bahn.

      1. Isobel*

        Seconding the Deutsche Bahn website, and also seat61.com for general advice about UK and European train travel.

    13. 00ff00Claire*

      If you are looking around Switzerland, check out Annecy in France. It is just south of Geneva, and it is a beautiful little city. The lake is gorgeous, and there are trails around it. I’m pretty sure there are multiple hiking opportunities, although we didn’t hike while we were there. We attempted a biking outing but got rained out. The older portion of the city is scenic and very walkable. We stayed in a hotel very close to the train station but right outside of that older part of the city. There are raclette restaurants if you like cheese. I really can’t do the city justice describing it here, but it was such a wonderful place to visit.

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

      Czech Republic if you’re feeling adventurous language-wise (it’s hard to learn, and there’s plenty of places where people don’t speak much English). Prague is a tourist-trap hellhole, but there is an extensive excellent train system to get you outta there quick. Head out west from Prague to Beroun and beyond for gorgeous hiking and biking, plus food/lodging way cheaper than in in the city. If you have time to go farther afield, the area down around Brno (near the Austrian & Slovak borders) is Czech wine country: beautiful, beautiful countryside, cool architecture, tons of charming small towns to explore and a distinctly different culture than up north near Prague. If you can bear a little bit of the tourist-hordes, Cesky Krumlov down kinda southwest of Prague is fairytale-come-to-life stunning and worth a day or two, but make sure you take frequent breaks to walk around the wooded area out of the main part of town (excellent birdwatching!), because otherwise the absolute press of humanity will drive you bonkers (or go during the low season, once it gets cold, because it’s still quite beautiful even in nasty weather, and there’s nobody else there to step on your toes).
      Have fun!

      1. Imtheone*

        Slovakia is beautiful too, and lots of mountains. We visited about ten years ago. Very few tourists, and those were mostly from neighboring countries.

  25. People get offended too easily*

    Genuine curiosity: why do people get so offended these days?

    I work with someone from Europe, and his directness is refreshing. No sugarcoating, no beating around the bush. I also have a couple of French friends and love how direct they are. It’s refreshing, and sometimes it catches me off guard because I’m not used to it! Haha.

    It got me thinking that Americans are quite sensitive (although I’m sure it happens in other places, I just happen to be from the states and live here so that’s my personal opinion).

    There are times I read comments or replies to comments here on AAM and you can tell the person got offended, but when I read what they were responding to, it’s just honest and direct feedback.

    1. AGD*

      Directness does vary by culture (my Israeli friends just say things; my Japanese friends have a complex system of honorific markers to navigate). That said, this argument is almost always a plea to stick with the status quo in the face of discussions about social change towards inclusiveness, and when those changes are driven by a group that’s been mistreated or oppressed, making them isn’t a bad thing – and the U.S. has a long history of EXTREME inequality in a lot of ways that it is still recovering from. I am Jewish and all of the things that played out decades ago (anti-Semitic slurs and insults, quotas on admission to colleges, violence, people having to change their names for sounding too Jewish or “ethnic”) were met with “argh, why are people being way too sensitive.” But those things have all receded to the point that I have had a far, far easier time than my grandparents did. Now I want the same acceptance and support for my Black friends, my LGBQ friends, my trans and nonbinary friends, my disabled friends, and everyone I love. Inequality sucks and I say we continue to work at eliminating it, even though it prompts a lot of irritation suggesting that everyone is just being offended too easily. I don’t care about offense. I care about the fact that slurs and insults and stereptypes and violence are busy making life disproportionately hard for people who belong to groups with less social power, and some combinations (e
      g. trans people of colour) live life in a constant state of threats of violence, or actual violence.

      1. AGD*

        Also, this is a space where people are overtly urged to be kind and helpful and to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and where people may or may not be American, so we may have a couple of sampling issues here.

        1. OP*

          I do find the community here a little too nice for my liking, but I understand AAM’s urge to keep it that way.

          Your perspective is interesting and one I hadn’t thought of. I definitely wasn’t referring to racial slurs or derogatory comments when I talk about people taking offense to things, more so the tendency to take critique or handle comments that are honest as rude.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        This is a great response, and I feel like when people talk about “getting offended” it’s pretty much always a deflection to make the problem about someone’s FeELinGs rather than the actual situation. Like, if you use a slur and I tell you not to use the slur, that’s not about my emotional response, it’s about you causing harm. People can certainly be misguided in their responses but when someone is invested in “not being offended” or “not being sensitive” I find their motives pretty suspect. Normal people care about how others receive them and don’t WANT to be offensive, even if they don’t fully understand or agree that they’re in the wrong! People who put the blame on the reaction are usually either bigots or trolls.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      One would need specific examples. I’ve certainly seen people looking for offense, but I’ve seen plenty of offense that the speaker expects to be just waved away because their intent was to be funny/brilliant/etc. And fitting yourself to the norms of directness of your surrounding culture (e.g. is it polite/complimentary/insulting to tell people they look fat?) is part of interacting with humans in large groups.

      Just because a thought entered your head doesn’t mean that other people have to be excited that you shared it. For a recent example, the thought “Merpeople cannot be dark-skinned, because SCIENCE says that nothing in the ocean has dark coloring” is one the thinker should have kept to themselves.

      Also, people pointing out that you are wrong is not necessarily them being offended. If the standard is “I said a thing because I thought it, which was not offensive! But then another person pointed out that the thing I said was wrong, which is very offensive of them” people are not required to be patient and encouraging with you.

      1. OP*

        I suppose I’m referring to people with big egos and can’t take any accepting of wrongdoing.


        My sister in law gets offended so easily but says she’s open to growing and feedback, but can’t handle it.
        – calling her out for being late when she’s always late by 30 min, she gets so offended. Why? It’s just honest feedback and she knows she does it.
        – she’s also one of those people who never stops talking. I told her once she needs to slow down and let other people share their thoughts, and she was visibly upset the rest of the evening.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          In the examples of refreshingly honest feedback in your opening post, was the context ever “They really told me some home truths about how thoughtless I was being of others, and I took that to heart and changed going forward”? You can be fully in the right about your sister-in-law’s annoying habits, and her disinterest in both changing and having them pointed out unsurprising–people often would like to be right all the time about all the things. (Social media has made always being in a like-minded bubble easier, so this friction with outside-bubble people might be something that is increasing.)

          That switch in response to honest feedback is even a thing I have seen happen, but usually it was an observation from someone new, so admitting their point didn’t mean admitting the speaker might also be right about everything else in a decades’ long relationship.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Also for the “You look fat!” thing:
          US: This is a deadly insult.
          Eastern Europe: This is a value-free observation, akin to informing children that they have grown taller since you last saw them.
          West Africa: This is a compliment, indicating that you look prosperous, and in some areas is also a ritual greeting akin to “Hello,” which you utter even if the other person looks thinner than when you last saw them. Something you would never point out because it would be rude.

        3. allathian*

          Your SIL is self-centered. People like that take offense very easily and tend to monopolize conversations. I have a very low tolerance for people like that, but OTOH I’m able to take the space for myself if I think that someone else’s been monopolizing things. If they take offense, I shrug it off and try to spend as little time with them as possible.

          I’m done bending over backwards to try to avoid giving offense. Especially people like your SIL. If they decide they don’t like me, I shrug because guess what, they aren’t exactly my favorite people either. You don’t have to like your SIL or spend any more time with her than you absolutely have to. Is your SIL your sibling’s spouse or your spouse’s sister? That can influence some of the dynamics. If she’s your brother’s (?) spouse, you can ask to spend time with your sibling without her. If she’s your husband’s (?) sister, you can tell them to spend time together without you. It’s not the end of the world if the word gets around that you don’t get along with your SIL.

          I can’t stand people who are always late. I don’t much care if it’s because they’re a time optimist or have some sort of executive disorder, or whatever. I’ve quit being friends with people who are continually late and stated their constant lateness as the reason. I do realize that some people genuinely can’t help being late, and that ensuring they don’t miss unmissable appointments takes a disproportionate amount of energy. I’m not judging people like that, just saying that I’m not compatible with them as a friend, because if someone’s always late I get frustrated and can’t enjoy the friendship. I’m the opposite, if I’m early I feel like I’m on time, and if I’m on time I feel like I’m late.

          1. Frankie Bergstein*

            Oh wow, this was incredibly refreshing to read. Thank you so much. I’m saving this to re-read for later.

        4. Dark Macadamia*

          If all your examples are about your SIL being rude and hypocritical, maybe just make a post about that? Saying “everyone always gets offended so easily these days” is a whole different topic and… doesn’t come across very kind or open to discussion.

          1. OP*

            It was just an example, I’m also referring to people *in general* who get offended at the slightest things. Comments like the one you mentioned are what I’m talking about as well.

            1. mreasy*

              Late stage capitalism gives the ruling class the impression that they deserve to never feel discomfort. Hence “Karens” (just as often, if not more often, men) getting enraged by, say, a Starbucks drink taking too long. But if you examine it, that is often NOT about being offended, and about being racist, classist, etc. A lot of the “famous” Karens online have been white people perpetrating their anger on BIPOC folks over whom they believe they should have some authority or control. You’ll see some men do this when a woman in a position of authority needs to instruct or correct them. And sometimes a woman or BIPOC person in a position of authority or any advantage or success is in itself offensive to white men who have been told this whole time that they should be in charge and get anything they want.

              Your SIL just sounds like a jerk.

              Then you have something like calling a Black person articulate, calling a Latina feisty, assuming an Asian person is good at math. These are the types of things someone would say one shouldn’t be offended by, because they are compliments or neutral. Well, they are the type of stereotypes that people in these communities struggle against, because they pigeonhole all people of one ethnicity or culture as the same, when white people get to be good or bad drivers, or engineers, or introverts. Etc.

              You don’t call someone fat though? If you’re in a culture where it’s a compliment, you already know. Fatphobia is rampant, not just in the US, but in a lot of western cultures, and leads not only to bullying and being less likely to be hired for senior roles, but also worse health outcomes for fat people because their doctors won’t take them seriously.

              Some things that seem innocuous come with baggage that means they aren’t, basically.

        5. Ellis Bell*

          Hmm, this is a bit blunt for my taste. I freely admit that I might be biased by the fact that I’m a former late person who struggled for literal decades before I got a handle on it; being told off about it never helped for a minute. Is it really your place to critique and lecture another adult on their faults? I think it’s different if for example you say you aren’t going to do x with her, or meet up with her, because her punctuality isn’t reliable – that kind of comment is ok, where you’re just talking about your choices and therefore it’s squarely your business. However the talkative thing I wouldn’t bring up even if my ears were falling off when she spoke; I would rather walk over hot coals than tell another adult they are annoyingly talkative. I would probably rather just avoid their company. If their company was super important to me and I valued them enough to try and tone down the comments, I would raise it very gently and make sure I said more positive things than bad. When people wonder about other people’s feelings of offense, they are wondering why other people have feelings. However we usually don’t choose to have negative feelings! If your SiL had cursed you out, or decided to ignore the request, or used “offensive” as an excuse to attack you, then that’s a choice but all she did was look “visibly upset” and how is one supposed to avoid doing that?

        6. Jay*

          What I hear in your comments is “why can’t I say what I think to people without considering their feelings? I’m just being honest!” With the implication that by “honest” you also mean “I’m always right so they should listen to me.”

          And yes, there are variable cultural norms at play. Assuming you and your sister-in-law have the same cultural background, I suspect that she’s upset because your statements start with “you are…” and that sounds like an attack to many people. If you just want validation that you are right and she is wrong and “everyone is soooo sensitive these days, amirite?” then stop reading this now, because that’s not where I’m going. If you want honest and direct feedback yourself, here’s some: people will be less defensive if you don’t attack them, and they are less likely to feel attacked if you explain the impact on you. I have a friend who is also frequently late. When I discussed it with her, I said “it’s difficult for me when I set aside an hour to see you and you’re 20 minutes late. I feel really rushed and frustrated and it makes me less likely commit to meeting you because we don’t have enough time.” And the next time she was late I texted her after ten minutes and told her I couldn’t wait and we’d find another time.

          I’ve been told I talk too much and I have also been upset about it – it was really hurtful. It was also demonstrably true. It was much more effective when someone said “I’d really like to connect with you and it’s difficult to do that when you interrupt me.”

          And if you feel upset or angry or – dare I say? – offended by what I’ve written, hey! It’s honest and direct feedback!

          1. fposte*

            I think you touch on an interesting point. If total honesty is the goal it has to be okay for other people to be honest back if they think that what you say sucks. So if somebody who prioritizes honesty is repeatedly hearing that what they say sucks, that’s the goal achieved–they’re getting honesty.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, this. It’s interesting how often people who pride themselves on their “honesty” get offended when someone else’s honest with them.

              When I quit being friends with someone who was always late, I was apologetic about it and said something like “I’m sorry to tell you this, but I don’t think we’re compatible friends anymore. By the time you show up, 20 or 30 minutes late, I’m feeling so angry and frustrated that I can’t really enjoy our meetings.” This was a friend I always met 1:1, and we didn’t have any friends in common.

              One of my good friends that I’ve been friends with since high school is also almost always late. But because we’re part of a bigger group of friends, it doesn’t really matter if she’s always the last to arrive. I can enjoy myself with my other friends while we’re waiting for her to show up, but I never schedule anything 1:1 with her, so we aren’t as close friends as I am with some others in that group.

              1. Jay*

                My dearest friend was frequently late. At least half the time she cancelled or changed our plans on very short notice. At first it bugged the heck out of me and then I realized it wasn’t a referendum on our relationship – and in fact it happened because she wanted to see me so badly that she convinced herself she had time when she really didn’t.

                For years I rolled with it and assumed any date we made was not likely to happen, and then I finally took the action I outlined above and also started to say “no” to the “Can we make it 12:30 instead of 12:00?” texts. My frustration level dropped and she started to show up on time.

                Feedback is an investment in the relationship, and it was definitely worth investing in this relationship. There are a lot of other people I would have stopped making 1:1 dates with.

          2. OP*

            lmao, I’m not offended by what you said nor do I feel “attacked.”

            Why does being told you talk too much hurtful? If it’s honest and something you need to work on, especially if you already know about it, how on earth is that hurtful? You could just easily respond by “oh man yep I’m just being yappy, trying to work on it! thanks for pointing it out.

            By saying “I’d like to connect with you and it’s difficult to do that when you interrupt me” is beating around the bush and not getting at the core issue of the fact that someone talks too much.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Okay but not everyone communicates the way you do, or has the grace to be able to respond the way you’d like. Yes, sometimes people take things more personally than they should, but also, there’s such thing as being kind or tactful. You see the problem as someone talking too much, but blurting that out shows no care for the other person’s feelings. Saying it in a different way can show tact and care.

              Also, I find that too often in life people who say things like “I’m just telling it like it is” are not willing to work on themselves and use that as a cover for being an a-hole. If I told you you were being a jerk, would you react defensively?

            2. Jay*

              It’s more hurtful because I know I need to work on it. “You talk too much” is shaming. Doesn’t sound like it would be for you. It is to me and to most of the people I know and interact with. That’s the answer. I don’t like feeling ashamed. At best I will avoid you when I feel ashamed; at worst I will attack you.

              And there’s a difference between work feedback and personal feedback. I expect feedback at work and don’t find it shaming when it’s behavioral – that is, when it focuses on what I did and not who I am. (And yes, I’ve had feedback at work that was focused on who I am and it was devastating.) I don’t expect feedback in my personal life and it feels much more, well, personal. I care more about my relationships with friends and relatives than I do about relationships with my coworkers.

              That’s the answer. People don’t react like machines. Most of us feel shame. Not everyone is like you. If you want to stay in relationship with people who are not like you, it helps to have some understanding. If you want to sit in judgment, go right ahead and continue to scratch your head about all us overly sensitive folks.

            3. Eff Walsingham*

              “You talk too much” is completely subjective. Personally, it annoys me when people clothe their opinion as fact.

              I am very talkative, particularly when I really like someone and haven’t seen them for a while. It runs in my family. My husband’s family is even more noisy and talkative, and sometimes it is too much for me. So I just excuse myself for a few minutes, or change seats, or whatever I can do tactfully to increase my own comfort. It’s important to me that my loved ones not feel that I’m judging them.

              If someone was tactless enough to tell me, “You talk too much” I’d be sorely tempted to respond, “You listen too little.” and see how that lands. I mean, if we’re airing opinions, who’s to say whose judgment should have the most weight? :)

            4. Qwerty*

              “People who enjoy being brutally honest enjoy the brutality more than the honesty”

              This quote seems relevant to your situation. If you are open to feedback on yourself, then please think hard about how it may apply to you.

              The two examples you gave and your counterarguments show that you are trying to change your SIL to *your* standards. Talking “too much” is subjective and the way you phrased it you are essentially telling her off. Most people don’t want to spend time with someone who critiques them about their personality.

              What do you really want to happen here? Do you want your SIL to give *yout* more space to speak or do you want to change how she interacts with everyone else in her life, regardless of if you are there? If she talked constantly to you but was silent in conversations you weren’t part of, would that solve your problem?

              Calling someone out is intended to shame them. People usually do it when calling someone to task for offensive behavior. So if that’s what you are doing when your SIL is late, then you know exactly why she is offended. Your thin defense is that she knows she’s late – but so do you! There’s no reason for you to be surprised! You can plan accordingly.

              The people I’ve known who complain that everyone is too sensitive and try to use the defense of “just being honest” have always been very judgemental and seem to prefer the harm they inflict. It’s possible to be honest and kind. You are choosing to avoid the kind part.

              In case this post was “beating around the bush” bush too much: The people around you aren’t being too sensitive or taking offense too easily – you are just being a jerk and trying to play the victim.

        7. Frankie Bergstein*

          I don’t know if this is any more blunt than the scripts Alison gives regularly? This is what the messages from the OP read – to me – if you take the comment and turn it into dialogue:

          “I’ve been waiting for 30 minutes. This happened last time we met up for dinner too.”

          “Hey – could you please slow down and let other people share their thoughts?”

          I think I’d probably feel a bit chastened at each, but to the first, I’d probably apologize and try to fix it going forward. To the second one, I’d probably say, “good point! What do you think of [topic at hand]?” even if I felt internally shamed, which I totally would.

          I don’t know. I feel like people who are willing to be real with you are gems — how else do you get good growth feedback, just like at the-place-we-aren’t-talking about?

          I don’t know if I agree that everyone is hypersensitive to this sort of thing, but the SIL certainly is, and the OP’s frustration is very understandable to me. I find these behaviors very difficult.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I think it really depends on a whole bunch of things! There’s no way to tell which of the following applies to the OP: If you’re my best friend or my partner, and there’s an incompatibility coming between us, I probably do want to hear about it and “grow” in the same direction as you. However, if you’re an acquaintance or an in law, I couldn’t care less and will think it’s genuinely funny that another adult sees fit to audit me. It can be hilariously out of line, but the question from the OP was not whether criticisms should be done at all, but that they should be received without any sensitivity or reciprocal bluntness. However, sensitivity shows that the person addressed cares about what you think! (as you say, “internally chastened”) and it can be a good sign. When my partner’s aunt tells me I should be more sociable (don’t turn down invitations), and thrifty (learn about cars instead of joining AA) I don’t feel sensitive, I feel amused. There are people I love + faults I genuinely want to master, which would generate more sensitivity, and that’s why I hope people would, yes, tell it to me straight but also be gentle when they do.

            1. Frankie Bergstein*

              Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment – and in detail – Ellis! I wonder if we are in agreement on two things: delivering messages gently and with empathy is important, and how it comes across is really going to depend on the place you have in the other person’s life.

              You’re also right in that the OP was asking us about the reaction to this type of feedback, rather than whether and how it should be done.

              This is a big, complex topic that – I think – falls within the scope of boundary setting. As you noted it depends on a whole bunch of things.

              I guess can’t control how others respond to our boundary setting (maybe that’s my response to the OP’s question).

              1. Jay*

                Nope. We can’t. And if it’s a healthy boundary for me, I have to accept whatever other people do in response. This remains a challenge!

        8. mreasy*

          I’m afraid that in my global industry I have dealt with plenty of European people with big egos who were easily offended if you didn’t agree with them!

    3. Sister George Michael*

      I don’t have an answer, but an anecdote: I was recently browsing at an antique/re-sale shop with a long time friend. I saw a Fiestaware salt and pepper set and I casually said that I’m not a fan of Fiestaware. She was so offended and angry! (I have never eaten at her house and didn’t know she has Fiestaware.) It’s just a personal preference, I didn’t say to throw it all in the sea. It’s not like I was eating at her house and denounced the dishes we were eating off. I don’t dislike Fiestaware AT you!

      Basically, I think there are just some people who just WANT to be offended.

      1. fposte*

        But in that case my counter-question would be “Did they ask you if you liked it?” Historically it really isn’t considered polite to say anything negative about your hosts. I agree that being angry is a lot, but I could see a lot of people being taken aback at this (though if you were getting badgered about Fiestaware that would be another matter). This is sort of the opinion version of Ask vs. Guess culture–are all opinions fair game as just opinions and the listener considers them noise rather than signal, or are opinions curated to the situation?

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah but sister George Michael wasn’t at their friend’s house, they were at a store. I could see being a little taken aback (hey, I have that and I like it) but no need to be deeply offended.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, wow, I totally missed that. I guess I only start reading properly after the noon hour on Saturday. Sorry, Sister , and thanks for the catch, ThatGirl. In that case I think friend is out of line. Is she People’s SIL, by any chance?

        2. Sister George Michael*

          Fair question. We were just wandering around a random store commenting on different items. The selection was broad. (I learned what a Toby jug is!) So we were both chattering and offering opinions on any items we noticed. (She wasn’t hosting me, we met up in a town where neither of us lives for lunch/stroll.)

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I got this one completely wrong, and I apologize. When you’re doing recreational shopping opinions are absolutely part of the game, and you didn’t trash it, just said it wasn’t your thing. I would say something else is going on with Friend and perhaps with her relationship with Fiestaware.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        People attach their identity to the oddest things! I’d be so tempted to ask why she’s such a defender.

      3. Madame Arcati*

        I also think there are some people who aren’t very good at accounting for differences in taste and see opposing opinions as an attack on their own, or at least very weird. I have a family member who, if you were to say you don’t like to wear, say, short dresses with leggings, and she did, she’d be all sniffy and “well I think/like/find comfortable…” and spend ages justifying her clothing choices when you weren’t talking about her. Or she “can’t understand why anybody” would do their grocery shopping on a Sunday because she never would blah blah…no idea that not everyone works Monday to Friday, plenty of people aren’t in the slightest bit religious, etc. As you say she’s almost looking for criticism where none exists

        1. Irish Teacher*

          My grandmother insisting that people only go abroad to show off that they can afford to. “After all, if they want to go to the beach, there’s one in Youghal.” When I pointed out that the hottest temperatures we get in Ireland are usually in the 70s Fahrenheit and that that wasn’t guaranteed during your couple of weeks off in the summer, so if you liked hot weather, you had little choice but to go abroad, she’d reply, “but I DON’T like hot weather.” Which she didn’t, but…apparently nobody else could possibly like to spend their holidays in the sun because SHE hated it.

      4. Despachito*

        I think she was very unreasonable in that. Perhaps out of insecurity, but it really does not matter, it was wildly inappropriate. My money on that she is insecure in other areas as well.

        This is just one of the cases where I would question the “impact-always-over-intent” theory. If someone is offended by a casual remark like this, it is definitely their problem, not the “offender”‘s.

        If you take it rationally, it is not necessary to like every aspect of a person’s life to still love and respect the person.

      5. Ampersand*

        It’s hard when this happens! Ideally the person who is offended would 1. Not be offended by something as subjective as personal taste, and 2. Say something like, “I like it, but I understand it’s not for everyone.” That’s what I would say, anyway, if I were in your friend’s position.

        A person’s feelings may be slightly hurt that a friend doesn’t like all the same things they do, but most reasonable people usually don’t get outright offended by a difference in stylistic tastes. I think this happens because people just want to fit in and feel validated, and it can feel invalidating when someone close to you doesn’t share your tastes. Not that it should feel that way—but it can.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      I don’t like to phrase it as people get so offended these days, but I do admit that I have a friend from the Netherlands and their directness (we’re both autistic, too) makes communication so much easier. It’s really nice to have a conversation without having to try to parse what the heck someone means.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Personal opinion from an American:

      I’m going to focus solely on the element of people becoming offended over direct, honest feedback (rather than actually offensive things like bigotry). And in that category I’m going to include people who make huge, irrational leaps to try to paint valid feedback as if it contained bigotry when it is clear to an outside observer that it did not. You are correct that it is rampant.

      American culture and popular opinion are dominated by television and online media, far more than other places, and even more intensely than they were twenty or thirty years ago.

      Television and media are mostly run by, and cater to, narcissists. You really can’t be successful in the entertainment industry, TV journalism (which is largely info-tainment), or politics, without a very big ego. And the dynamics of power and money favor those who let ego get out of control more than those who keep it in check.

      Narcissists, as big as their egos may be, are fragile. They can’t deal with criticism, and they perceive every interaction as a power dynamic. They can’t really treat anyone as an equal. In their view, someone is always winning or losing. Someone is always the bully or the victim.

      So in any situation where they can’t get away with bullying the person giving the feedback, they resort to collapsing and being “hurt” so that the speaker looks like a villain who is bullying them. “Help, help, I’m being repressed!” (In the words of Monty Python)

      American popular culture, and to a dangerous degree the American psyche and politics, have become so heavily indoctrinated by narcissists that people who aren’t actively resisting these patterns through self-awareness, a robust and balanced sense of self, and/or a spiritual practice focused on healthy humility, act it out without realizing it.

      The river is flowing toward fragile, reactive narcissism. If we’re not swimming upstream, we’ll all wind up there. And I don’t think the rest of the world is immune. They are just further upstream, and haven’t reached the same point yet.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Very well said. Every freaking word and syllable rings true.

        I would go so far to say that the economic and political situations we’re in now are heavily based in narcissism and ego. Some people have let it go to their heads that they are the sun, moon, and sky and others must worship their genius, no matter how far-fetched or wrong it is.

      2. Despachito*

        This is an interesting point.

        We were talking a lot about “intent versus impact”, and a lot of comments here say that it is always impact what matters over the intent.

        But how do we draw the line between “rightfully offended” and “absurdly offended”? It is definitely a good thing to focus on situations when a person’s hurt feelings used to be waved off and labeled as too sensitive, and to say they do matter. But there definitely are situations when the impacted person IS acting absurd and it would be absurd for the other person to apologize, and it is still up to our subjective assessment whether this is the case.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I think you let go of certainty on that one and focus on the relationship. Personally, I have no problem with apologizing for upsetting somebody when I didn’t mean to–it doesn’t mean I did something wrong, just that I value their feelings too, and I might inquire more as to what was going on that they found my Fiestaware reaction so upsetting–is there something else I should know? But if this is a relationship where somebody seems to be using their upset to control other people, then I’ll move along either after the apology or without one.

          But by and large if it’s a comment about the person, the person’s family, or the person’s house, the presumption is in their favor and the odds are that the speaker overstepped.

          1. Despachito*

            I agree with you that any negative comments about anyone’s family, house and their person in general are unnecessary and rude.

            And I also agree that there is a difference between normal people getting genuinely offended about something I do not understand but respect their feelings, and people who “get offended” frequently to weaponize it. After some time, it is likely you will tell them apart but what until then? Err on the side of caution and apologize for the first / second time even in the latter case until you are sure the person is weaponizing it?

            1. fposte*

              For me, sure, why not? I don’t feel like an apology costs me anything; it’s not a concession that makes me weak or prevents me from doing what I damn well please in future. “Did I upset you by calling your cat a kitty? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you didn’t like that.” If the person doesn’t let it go at that or if they’re annoyed a minute later that I say “the cat” instead of “Dr. Mittens, PhD” then they’re probably not somebody I can manage a wavelength with, and I’ll probably say something like “It sounds like this isn’t a subject I can please you on” and steer clear.

              And some of that’s my general personal relationship taste. It doesn’t even have to be weaponized to be excessive for me–some modifications are just too much for me to incorporate into any relationship, and sometimes my response to “If you don’t change x I will feel y” is “I won’t be able to meet that need–what do you want to do now?” I’m aware that this could apply to something where I’m basically the villain (“Stop calling my child ugly!”), though I suppose it’s still much the same question.

              If it’s somebody you live with that seems to be weaponizing it, especially if it’s a trait that wasn’t initially there but later developed, that’s a lot harder and needs a lot more advanced skills, since the simple avoidance option is gone and we could be talking emotional abuse. But with a friend or SIL there’s more room, either to say “What’s up with the upset over Fiestaware?” or to note that your SIL doesn’t actually want the feedback she says and won’t turn up anywhere on time, and put your energy elsewhere.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Rightfully offended to me means the reaction is controlled to match the severity of the offense. Don’t like my Fiestaware? My response is “Aww, well different strokes, right?”

          Absurdly offended is way too much reaction for what the circumstance actually is. Long rant about Fiestaware? My response is, “There are many of us. And we walk the earth.”

          The future belongs to those who can keep a cool head and keep their wits about them. We no longer have a social agreement on what poor behavior looks like. But I am not so sure we ever did. Outlandish behavior gets rewarded with labels now. We have Karens and other identifiers for behavior types. Growing up, we had one label: jerks.

        3. Irish Teacher*

          I think a lot depends on patterns. If this person is always getting offended at anything anybody says, there comes a point when the common denominator is them. On the other hand, if this is a one-off and the person is usually reasonable and they are getting upset about something that appears absurd, the odds are there is something more to it, like they have a phobia or there is something else going on in their life that means they are particularly sensitive at the moment or maybe it’s not as absurd as it sounds and the person making the criticism is having a secret dig in some way.

          And of course, the other way works too. One person getting “absurdly offended” at something you (general you, I’m not talking about you personally, obviously) can be just an unreasonable person or a manipulator, but if EVERYBODY around you seems to be absurdly offended by what you say, well, the common denominator there is pretty clear too.

          I do think it gets trickier in things like marriages or parent-child relationships, as people can manipulate their partner or children and be perfectly normal to everybody else and equally people can be far more critical of a partner or child than they would be of anybody else.

          One thing I find helps is to depersonalise it. Think about a similar situation between two people you don’t know or two people on a TV show or something and who would be portrayed as the villain in the latter. I have had times when somebody did a “you shouldn’t be doing x because it upsets ME” and wondering had I done something wrong, then reading somebody online talking about their partner criticising them for doing something similar and immediately thinking, “you need to leave *partner* He is manipulating you.”

          For the first time, I’d say it’s often about a) how important the issue is and b) how the person reacts when you apologise. I mean, if the person is offended that you, as a manager told them they need to arrive on time for work, well, that’s a different situation than somebody being offended you mentioned the colour green. In the latter case, you can simply apologise and try to avoid mentioning it again. In the former, well, you might apologise if you were very harsh about it, but you still need to make it clear that yes, they DO need to be in on time.

          And in the case I described above where somebody went nuclear at me, when I apologised, I got a “you’re not sorry enough.” And at another time, started criticising me for my hypothetical response to a different situation that had never happened, but which they believed I would be critical of them in. It was basically a “they were justified in criticising me because if they did x, I would criticise them and my apology for it wouldn’t be good enough.” At that point, I DID point out they had never apologised for being rude to me, yet were berating me for the hypothetical possibility that I might not apologise sufficiently if I were rude to them in a situation that had never happened.

          For a one-off from a decent person, I’d apologise, so long as the issue isn’t one that one can’t go back on. Like the employee who wants the manager to apologise for daring to expect them to be in on time when they had a meeting at 9. That obviously isn’t reasonable on the employee’s part. If they react in a manipulative way, by expecting more from you or something or if it becomes a pattern, I’d deal with it then.

          And of course, there’s always the pattern on the other side. Is this person’s reaction an outlier or have numerous people said you are blunt and upset them?

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I am impressed with your response here Raging.

        Emotions are a very poor compass, very poor guides. It’s down right scary to see emotions being used to guide our society. It does not bode well for us to all behave like 5 year olds.

        What will these people do when faced with something hard, like fire or flood? Or any situation that requires group cooperation and adhesion?

    6. Irish Teacher*

      It’s not in the least specific to “these days.” If anything, I would say people were more inclined to be offended in the past. Heck, RTÉ once got a string of complaints because shock, horror, a character in a soap went upstairs with a WOMAN WHO WAS NOT HIS WIFE. I want to add that this guy was clearly a villainous character, so it wasn’t glorifying adultery; it was villainous dude doing his villainous thing. That’s just an example, but yeah, the degree to which people got offended by anything that challenged their worldview in many cultures in the past would be unimaginable today.

      I think that often it’s about how the criticism is phrased. There are ways of saying things that put people’s backs up and then they are ways of saying the same thing that are far more likely to get the message across in a way that makes the meaning clearer. Just being honest feedback doesn’t necessarily mean something isn’t rude. For example, if I tell a student “that’s too short. Rewrite it!” it may be honest feedback, but it’s also pretty abrupt and rude. If I say, “you have the right idea, but you need to expand. See where you mentioned x. You need to explain that in more detail by describing why it happened and what it led to. I want you to write it out again, expanding those parts,” I’m saying the same thing, being clearer about what I want and being less rude.

      I think often when people take offence at feedback, it’s because the feedback is phrased badly. Giving feedback is a skill and it’s one a lot of people aren’t that skilled at (which is unsurprising; unless one has management training or teacher training or something similar, it isn’t something most people are really shown how to do).

      Another thing is a phrase I recently heard which is “unsolicited advice is criticism.” I don’t think this is always true. If somebody is reaching for a kettle and I say, “don’t touch that. It’s hot,” I don’t think that is criticism, but if I say “your hair would be nicer if you grew it/cut it” and the person hasn’t asked my advice on their hair, then yeah…I’m being a busybody.

      And then there ARE some people who are just unreasonable. I think if NUMEROUS people are getting offended by a particular person’s feedback, then that person is likely to be phrasing things badly/being judgemental/interfering in things that aren’t their business, but…if it’s a specific person like your sister-in-law getting offended by everything, then that’s nothing about people today. That’s just a specific person being unreasonable. If she gets offended even when you just say something like “hey, in future could you let me know if you are going to be more than 20 minutes late, so I’m not hanging around?” and she takes offence, then…that’s just an unreasonable person. There may be many reasons for that, but they are likely to be specific to her.

      I do think saying somebody “needs to slow down and let others share their thoughts” could well come across badly to somebody, if it were phrased like that, because…it sort of implies that you are the authority who decides what others “need” to do. Asking her would be reasonable. “Could you wait a moment while I finish what I was saying?” for example, but if she was actually told she “needs to,” well, who decides that? It puts her in the role of a child who doesn’t know what is best for her. It implies that your interpretation of what should happen is more important than hers.

      Online, there are the additional issues that we are all from different cultures (I have given offence in the past by making a comment that…coincidentally seemed to be connected to something that had happened in America, that I wasn’t even aware of) and we don’t have facial expressions or body language, all of which make a lot different to judge intent.

    7. Double A*

      I think in America it might have something to do with the fact that we increasingly don’t trust society to take care of us so we feel more defensive since we’re in a mindset where we need to take care of ourselves. It’s easy to assume someone who thinks differently than you wishes you active harm when that is the subtext (and sometimes text) of a lot of political discourse.

    8. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I think it’s because we’re living in disturbingly offensive times. Im not sure putting different cultures in the same bucket and then judging them against each other will ever work. There are serious differences within our own country regarding direct vs indirect communication so I’m not sure bringing in a whole other country lends itself well to this discussion. Offense and offensive behavior will always be relative.

    9. marvin*

      I’m not American, but I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I do think defensiveness can be a really serious barrier to direct communication. There are some people who I am reluctant to criticize in any way, because I know they won’t actually hear it, they’ll just see it as an attack. And I’m not a critical person by nature, but in close relationships, I think it is sometimes necessary to share your opinion even when you know it will be unwelcome.

      On the other hand, I have many, many times been given pretty harsh unsolicited comments out of nowhere, and I find that pretty hurtful. These have mostly had to do with ways that I don’t “measure up” to social expectations, so not particularly actionable advice.

      So I really think it depends, and it goes both ways. If you don’t want people to be offended by your directness, it helps to be thoughtful about how necessary and welcome that feedback is, and whether the nature of your relationship has room for it.

    10. Anon Spanish Learner*

      Okay, I want to give one other perspective here. I am American and my primary language is English, but I also speak Spanish at an intermediate/advanced level and have studied Spanish for many years. When I speak Spanish, I speak much more bluntly than I do in English, because it would take many more years of immersion and study to be able to use the language in a truly sophisticated and culturally informed way.

      When I work with colleagues whose first language is not English, and I speak with them in English, they do often come across as more blunt. I’m sure some of that is cultural. But I also think that it is partly due to the challenge of speaking a second or third language. Especially if you are not fully immersed in that language, but for example, only use it for work.

      Are you speaking with your European colleague and French friends in English? And have they been immersed in English for many years?

      I also think that on AAM, part of it is that it’s quite hard to read tone from written text. It’s much easier to misinterpret the tone as harsher than the writer intended.

    11. Prospect Gone Bad*

      One thing is that a potential language barrier, even if it’s small, can lead people to say things more directly than they do in other languages.

      Otherwise there is a lot to unpack here. It hasn’t been cool to be quiet or reserved in a long time. Every role model in your face makes you believe you have to win every argument and battle, being loud and aggressive is seen as good now. People get told they are fabulous and awesome and beautiful from every angle, and aren’t used to hearing messaging about their potentially being wrong (yes I know some people are abused, etc. but I am talking about public life and public messaging). Also too much is politicized and things that shouldn’t be high stakes feel high stakes when they get politicized and as a result tied to peoples’ lizard brains, triggering more dramatic interactions. And there is generally more distrust of people, people barely talk to their neighbors anymore, people generally make small talk less in public and are generally less polite, so I think anxieties generally run higher in public life than let’s say 40 years ago. And now some people are unlearning social skills because they got used to doing everything from behind a screen. One more, so-called “drop the mic” moments are now a thing. Why talk through an issue in person or on the phone with a clerk, when you can insult them and screenshot your nasty review and put it on twitter or wherever, and garnish loads of likes?

  26. Anono-me*

    Check up reminder. Please make your appointments before December if possible. Especially if you have health insurance that pays for one type X appointment every year rather than one per calendar year.

    I’ve been making all of my ‘great you’re old’ medical appointments. Yeah! And my clinic did not want to schedule an appointment because it had not been 366 days after my last appointment. Thankfully my insurance is once per calendar year not once every 366 days and I have my appointment.

    Per my clinic; If I had the 366 day restriction and my last procedure had been 12/30/22, I would not have been able to get a procedure covered this year. (They are closed on Saturday the 31st.) Yes, I could have gotten it in January 2023, but it just feels wrong or unfair somehow.

    1. Workerbee*

      By chance, my gyno is out on surgery during the time I’d be booking an appt. I could go with one of the other doctors, but meh. So I pushed my appt past the 366 days into January. Otherwise I would be one of the December folks!
      But I’m thinking now that maybe I should go for a nice April visit instead. Reset my timespan for a hopefully nicer month.

    2. fposte*

      My insurance is just insurance year (which isn’t calendar year, because that would be too simple), not 366 days, but most people at my health care facility are on a 366 days HMO, so I sometimes have to have a gentle debate with the scheduler because they’re not used to appointments under that being insurance-viable.

    3. the cat's ass*

      We are also, here in the US, heading into “deductible season”, where everyone with regular insurance has met their deductible for the year and comes in for as much “free” (no out of pocket costs) care as possible. It generally starts around Halloween and goes to 12/31.
      Please be patient with your HCWs. My schedule goes from manageable to really too many folks this time of year and yes, we are really trying to get all of you in for all the care you need and want before the end of the year. I view it as a challenge I’m going to do my absolute best to meet, but when someone comes in for a full workup that may require multiple appointments and interventions on 12/15, and wants everything done by 12/31, i just want to cry.
      Don’t get me started on how broken our health care system is.

      1. check the calendar*

        Ugh, yes, people get so mad when they call on Dec 23 and want a routine eye exam appointment the week after Christmas because they have HSA funds to spend and we are Booked. Solid.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I actually an about to have that problem, sort of. I see the dentist in June and December, and this year it’s up to December 28th. So I’m guesses next year’s appointment will be into July and January.

  27. Stitch*

    Cat people:

    We are debating adding a kitten to our household. We have a healthy 16 year old neutered male cat who is pretty docile, though has had some litter box issues.

    I’ve never actually had a kitten (always adopted/was given/neighbors abandoned adult cats). I’d like to try raising a cat from the kitten stage. I’ve debated waiting until the older cat passes on, but given my sister’s cat is 22 and still around, I don’t know how long that could be.

    A friend who fosters has a calmer kitten she thinks would be a good fit for a house with an older cat.

    Any experiences? Would it be better to have two males or a male and female (all fixed of course, rescue I’m talking to only adopts them out after). Despite them both being fixed my mom’s male cat will sometimes sing at my sister’s female cat, but I’m also wary of territorial issues with two males.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      We had the “wait until she passes” theory with our old cat, then eventually got two new kittens when she was 19. She lived for another year, and was tolerant of the kittens, who respected her.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have had same-sex pairs of cats of both sexes as well as one-of-each and never had any territorial issues with any of them.

    3. Day Dreamer*

      I think if you check with most cat rescue organizations, they will recommend 2 kittens, unless the adult cat is particularly playful. Kittens need play for growth and development just like children do, and the way they play and amount of time they spend playing with each other isn’t something humans can replicate or fill in for.

      1. Two kittens > one kittens*

        Yes, this!!!! We’d had a few cats who we adopted a kittens but only one at a time. About a year ago we were down to one cat (senior female) and we adopted a pair of male kittens through a rescue this past spring. They are from the same litter and I will never get just one kitten again; they snuggle and chase and play together. They would love to be close friends with our old lady, but she isn’t into it so they kind of shrug and go entertain each other by batting a plastic straw back and forth under the open bathroom door while she supervises from her cat bed. The boys know she is in charge and are very respectful but still have a buddy to play with.

      2. the cat's ass*

        totally agree with the get two kittens thing. We have a cheerfully demented senior boy, and a 1 and 2 year old who we got in 2020 and 2021. Old boy could care less tho everyone gets along really well. The 2 younger kitties spend a lot of time playing and racing all over the house, and one had to extricated from the dishwasher a few times. Before this, our kitties were all older rescue kitties so it was a big learning curve to deal with little-kitten energy and cat proof the house, which we had never had to do. But it’s been a lot of fun and we are so grateful to have them all, especially as Good Old Boy continues his slow fade.

      3. Stitch*

        I know that’s common advice but 3 cats may be too many for me. The rescue is recommending a more people oriented kitten for us.

        1. the cat's ass*

          I hear that! I think our particular situation works well because Good Old Boy is placid (except for singing the song of his people late at night) and so is one of the two kittens. The dishwasher one is an utter lovable punk but he is mellowing a bit as he ages too.

      4. Generic+Name*

        I’ve always had 2 cats and when I paste wanted to adopt a kitten, the rescue I went to refused to let me adopt 2 at once. I thought it was very strange. They said it’s because the kittens will bond with each other and not you. So I adopted one kitten and then a week later went to the same place and adopted a second kitten.

    4. Eff Walsingham*

      I would recommend going with the opposite gender based on personal experience, but of course they’re all individuals so it’s impossible to predict accurately how it’s going to go. We brought a female kitten in (3mos) when our older boy was 12, and after some initial leeriness they were so sweet together, snuggling all the time. Unfortunately we lost him a year later to sudden renal failure, and she has never bonded so closely with any other cat since.

      Now she’s 10 this month, and we were gifted another female of around the same age this past spring. Once we’ve moved, if we have the space, we intend to adopt a young male cat, hoping he will play with and energize these 2 divas!

      I would always advise asking any rescue I was considering adopting from, What do they want you to do if things go poorly? There are some rescues that will never let you adopt again if you need to return an animal, and I find that attitude irresponsible. There is always a chance when dealing with animals that things could go unpredictably wrong. I would always want to know that, if my previously docile older cats attacked the kitten, or vice-versa, the rescue would put the well-being of all the animals first and take the new one back again without penalty. No matter how well you think you know a cat or dog, a newcomer might bring out some surprising behaviour.

      1. Stitch*

        The rescue said we could do a couple week compatibility trial. They understand the geriatric cat has to come first.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      The advice I’ve heard is to get new animals while your older ones are still alive if you want their behavior to carry on, but wait until after the old ones have passed if you want a fresh start. Your kitten will largely learn how to be a cat by watching the older one.

    6. KatEnigma*

      I think mixed genders works better, in general. Even two females caused Issues with disputes sometimes. Although, I’m also a “they’ll work it out amongst themselves if I leave it alone” as long as no one is getting injured type.

      And the “kitten/puppy pass” is a real thing, so the male will LIKELY be tolerant of the kitten anyway. Our real B of an old female grouchy cat who hissed at everyone (including my husband, her beloved and only person she liked) for 2 weeks straight when we brought her 6 month old brother home let the 8 week PUPPY get away with murder- things that she’d have gouged ME for.

      1. mreasy*

        I had an adult female tortie who hated her baby brother kitten from the day I brought him home! They fought a lot but never hurt each other, and it did seem to keep them both fit! Cats are the best and the worst.

    7. Asenath*

      I don’t think the sex matters if all animals are spayed/neutered. It depends on the cats, a lot. The two I had who fought the most were both spayed females of about the same age, and when I was looking for a new cat, the shelter asked if “the tom” (I’d said I had a youngish male cat who’d been neutered at about a year old) was aggressive, when he was the most laid back and easy-going cat I ever encountered, and even got on with the extremely dominant elderly spayed female, whose death was the reason I had another cat-space open. Honestly, if he went up to sniff at her, and she wasn’t in the mood, she’d give him a LOOK, and he’d back right off.

      The real issue with kittens is that they’re hyperactive, and just LOVE climbing and shredding things (including people; having a kitten climb up your back when you’re wearing a thin shirt is interesting). But they’re very cute.

    8. Ann Ominous*

      You have gotten some good advice. What do you think about fostering to see how it goes? If it doesn’t work out then it’s temporary anyway, and if they get along you can adopt.

    9. Double A*

      We adopted two kittens (consecutively; unfortunately the first one died of lymphoma after only 4 months) and our then 14 and 17 year old cats accepted them pretty well. The first kitten was harder on them; the second kitten was more mellow and was sleeping in the family bed from like day 3.

      We also had a 2 year old kid and our kitten (now large cat) is awesome with little kids.

      We did a single kitten because 4 cats would definitely be too much for us. The single kittens have done fine! I’d just plan to add in another kitten or cat when your senior cat does pass.

      1. Double A*

        Oh, I should say the senior cats are a female and male and we added a male kitten both times based on the fact that the female cat has previously not liked other females but has gotten along with males. The old male cat is a pushover and will glumly accept whatever fate we decide for him.

    10. Purple Cat*

      It’s great that it sounds like you’re only considering pairs of kittens!
      We have a 16-year old super-senior who lost his 6-yr old BFF cat October of last year. So right before Christmas we brought home twin kittens! The foster originally thought they were 2 boys, but turned out they were a boy and a girl. No issues whatsoever with territorial issues. Our senior had already limited his range to 2 rooms, so the kittens got the rest of the house. I don’t think gender REALLY matters as much as personality, which you can’t predict. 2 kittens is critical though so they can play and socialize with each other and not constantly harass the older one. Plus, in short order you would likely be down to one cat :( and that one would be lonely.

    11. Kittee*

      I would personally wait. Introducing a new animal (especially one as active as a kitten) to an old, established pet MAY work — but it may not. It may be too much for the established cat. Years ago I got a kitten / young cat to “be company” for my established cat and it did not work out at all. My cat wanted me and our apartment all to herself. I had to find another home for the new cat.

    12. Don'tbeadork*

      We have 8 cats (we’re bad at “no”), evenly split between males/females and ranging from just over 2 months to 16 years. I’ve had cats all my life except for 3 years, and I’m coming up on 60.

      Sex ratio never seemed to make a difference when all are fixed. What matters is personality — some cats are just going to do better in a single-cat household.

      Adopt two kittens, not one. Your elder cat will thank you no matter how placid he is or how good with a kitten he would be. He’s still not going to have as much energy as the kitten will. He’s not going to want to play All. The. Time until he falls over asleep mid-charge.

  28. BookMom*

    I’ve always been an active volunteer in my personal life. Right now I’m mostly doing things that support my kids’ activities and my faith community. I’ve always been pretty good at saying “no” when I’m at capacity. “Thank you for asking, but I’m not able to take that on!” and respecting when others do the same. When we each does a little, we can all do a lot!

    Since my town has largely opened up from pandemic restrictions, it is like pulling teeth to get people to help with things. It’s the same raft of core people doing everything. My spouse and I have gotten pulled back into helping lead youth programs that our kids aged out of years ago. The thought was, “Oh, they’ve lost momentum/organizational memory during the last couple years and need some mentoring to get going again.” Apparently not because no one is stepping up.

    I’ve gotten panicked emails from two groups I’m involved with begging for volunteers this week after key leaders have gotten sick (COVID and other things) and it’s the same people responding, now just doubling their volunteer duties.

    I’m compassionate that some people are under heavy loads of other things they aren’t obliged to tell me about, but that can’t be everybody!! I’m in a fairly affluent suburban area, if that matters.

    Are other people seeing this? How are you (re)engaging others or learning to boundaries and watch groups you deeply care about falter??

    1. BookMom*

      I realize that sometimes a lack of engagement means a group/activity has run its course and should be retired. Bittersweet but necessary sometimes. I’m talking about things where kids are signed up, but people aren’t stepping up to collect dues, chaperone trips, plan fundraisers, organize uniform checkout, shop for supplies, etc. Doesn’t have to be just youth activities, but that’s my context right now. Could be pet rescue, park trail maintenance, etc etc. (Please excuse typos in original post.)

      1. BookMom*

        Thank you all for your insightful thoughts!! I appreciate them all and will try to apply them as I move forward.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I actually saw it before the pandemic–the same group of people, sometimes soldiering on and sometimes burning out and withdrawing.

      One thing I’ll attribute it to is the increase in email as a means of communication–you get so many random bulk emails about things, and it is easy to ignore them. When I ran the elementary science fair, I got dramatically better results if each past volunteer got a single email starting “Glen, You helped last year with the trivia table…” and then the copy-paste because it was a single communication from me to them. And even with that, when my kids aged out, as did my co-chair’s, there was no one in place–once the usual fair date was a few months out and people realized it wasn’t happening, they stepped up.

      I’ve been involved with a lot of things (pre-pandemic!) where the theory was that many hands would make light work and not require too much of each helper, and then there were only half as many hands and the burden piled on a few people who didn’t say no.

      1. Reba*

        Ooh I think this email fatigue is a good insight. Obviously, email overwhelm has been going on for some time. But in any case I’m involved in a big annual event that resumed this year after two years off, and we really struggled to recruit enough volunteers, leading to more overwork for volunteers and staff, just like you describe.

        This is a limited time commitment, all outdoor thing attached to a fairly prestigious name. (Not suggesting we are entitled to people’s time! Just that we are well known and relatively covid safer.) But for whatever reasons I think the ask did not get through to enough potential volunteers. I know we are not alone in having to reconsider our outreach and the extent we lean on this labor!

    3. allathian*

      The pandemic was the perfect time for me to stop volunteering my time. I’m not rich by any means, but if I can get away from volunteering my time by paying, I’m paying. So I’m buying all the TP and cookies going around, but I’m not going to sell stuff at a stand for charity, say. I don’t have the spoons for that anymore. I suspect that a lot of other people feel the same way.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        Yeah, I think a lot of people realized they can take their time back and not willing to give it up again.

    4. fposte*

      I’m agreeing with allathian and Russian that the pandemic has changed a lot of people’s time priorities. I also think this goes along with the general staffing undersupply–though obviously there are other dynamics at play there, people are being a lot more selective about their time. Also volunteers often come from more vulnerable groups, and whether official restrictions are eased or not, they may have limited comfort for face to face activities and, again, may be selective in how they choose it. In that sense, for volunteering it’s a buyer’s market, and people don’t want your product. It might be interesting for your program to nonjudgmentally explore what those former volunteers *are* doing–are they limiting their scheduled time, are they prioritizing other kid things instead, are they doing soup kitchens?

      But I also agree that programs that have previously depended on a deep pool of eager face-to-face volunteers aren’t likely to have that now and may need to examine their goals in light of that.

      1. Jackalope*

        In addition to the pandemic changing priorities, I think it’s also sapped a lot of us to an extent that we don’t fully understand. I know we’ve all heard this over and over again, but the world has spent the last 2.5 years in a long term crisis and that has a very real effect on how we can cope with extra demands. I still find myself astonished at how little energy I have now compared to just a couple of years ago, and I haven’t even had COVID.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I had Covid 2 weeks ago. It was mild, I’ve been a lot sicker with the flu (even vaxxed) and with tonsillitis. But I still have to nap every day, in spite of getting a good 7.5 or 8 hours of sleep. I’m also sleeping better now than I did when we were in survival mode, because I don’t get up in the middle of the night to pee most nights anymore.

          But the Covid exhaustion is real, if I fill the dishwasher, I’ll have to lie down and rest for a while before I can do anything else. I didn’t have to do that before I got sick.

    5. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      What safety measures are in place for these activities? I am still not back to full-time in-person activities indoors. I take risks for things that seem necessary to me, but the bar is much much higher. And if the leaders are getting sick, that isn’t going to give me confidence that I will be safe in that environment.

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

        I’m with you — part of my pulling back from volunteering to do stuff is seeing that most people asking me to do it aren’t willing to do it in a way that gives a darn about my (or anyone’s) health and safety. Heck with ’em — if my life isn’t worth protecting to you, then your activity isn’t worth supporting to me.

    6. the cat's ass*

      OMG, are you talking about my organization?!? We’ve kept it limping along through the pandemic; our core group of volunteers have kids who have long since aged out or are on the verge of aging out. We are actively recruiting for new volunteers because if we don’t have them, things will just peter out. We are back to live meetings, which has helped, and trying to get back into the mindset that many hands make lighter work for all. And i have bailed out of my other volunteer things to keep this particular thing afloat. It’s hard!

    7. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      In addition to the above, I have personally found it difficult to return to the normal things I used to do pre-pandemic. I became a bit of a recluse and don’t want to leave my house much.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I obviously will leave the house if I must, or if there’s an event that I don’t want to miss. But the threshold for doing so is much higher for me now than it was before the pandemic.

    8. Kara Danvers*

      In my experience doing/leading volunteer work, this isn’t new – it’s always some small core of folks doing the bulk of the work, with drop-ins who will do occasional tasks.

      I know how frustrating it is to feel that people aren’t stepping up – but the the thing is, it’s not about stepping up. These orgs (probably) aren’t entitled to people’s time. You could try to formalize a system (“you should volunteer for 1 event per every X events you attend”). Or you may need to recalibrate and run fewer events, to work with what you have. Or you can try to combine with a similar group to create a stronger one.

      Like organisms, organizations live, die, splinter, recombine. It’s hard to say what should or could happen here. Just some thoughts.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I tend to think that there is an overall down turn in volunteering. But then I think about why. Work, kids, kid’s activities, commute times, exhaustion. I was watching this before the pandemic. My observation in my area that it’s mostly retirees who volunteer. (We have long commutes where I live.) Sadly a few years ago we had lost just over 10% of our population. They died for various reasons, pre-Covid. We are an aging community. For each person who passed, someone had to take over stuff at home or it would not get done. That means more volunteers were lost as those still here were needed at home more.

        Where I volunteer I keep suggesting that we streamline things so it is easier for a smaller group of us to handle stuff. There are many ways to streamline, so this is a huge topic.

        Things you can do:
        Find ways to search for new members and add them. This can be as simple as having applications handy to pass out.
        In small communities, one-on-one conversations are key. Talk with specific individuals who might be interested, point blank ask if they would want to help.
        Make sure people see value in what your group does. This can mean asking people who have benefited from your group to give anonymous quotes that can be used in publicity. But it can also mean being more strategic in how you channel your efforts, put your best efforts where you have the highest visibility.
        Use your fund raising letters to show what you have done over the previous year.

        And don’t be afraid that things will fall apart if you don’t show up. New people are hesitant to step on toes, but they may pitch in if there is an opening with an actual need.
        New people will also bring in their own people, meaning more new people.

        1. Kara Danvers*

          Yeah, in retrospect, there may be a downturn in volunteering, for the reasons you/others have highlighted. The pandemic has caused a lot of fatigue.

          That said, the dynamic of having core volunteers that take the bulk of the work, and it feeling like pulling teeth to get anyone to volunteer, is a routine one in my experience. It might just be more common now.

    9. California Dreamin'*

      I’d seen this a lot even pre-pandemic. I was very, very involved in volunteering at my kids’ elementary school and served on the board of our fundraising foundation for years. I found that it was reasonably easy to get parents to, say, work a booth at the Fall Festival for an hour or bring a dish for a faculty appreciation luncheon but nearly impossible to get someone outside the core group of volunteers to chair the auction committee for the annual gala or be the PTA secretary or something. One year I remember some veteran school volunteers joking about getting us T-shirts that had a big “STP” on the front for Same Twenty People. For a while I had trouble understanding why everyone wasn’t “stepping up” in the same way that I did, but by the end of my elementary school tenure, I just accepted that not everyone wants to spend their time in this way. It does mean that those who are inclined to volunteer end up taking on probably much more than we’d ideally like because we really don’t want to see any of those great programs for the kids falter. I only extracted myself by aging out of that school, and then I made a conscious decision to take a break and not do much in junior high (then COVID happened and I haven’t managed to pick back up with volunteering since, so I guess I’m subject to the same burnout.) I don’t have any great insight, except that I probably would try not to get pulled back into organizations that your kids have aged out of… if the younger kids’ parents want those programs, they’ll need to figure out how to make that happen. If they don’t make it happen, it means they didn’t want it as much.

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

      Just my own anecdata: I used to volunteer a bunch and basically ever since I got COVID, I’ve been struggling with the longterm fatigue so much that I just don’t have the physical energy for regular volunteer gigs like I used to. I also feel like emotionally I’m very, very burnt out. I’m pretty politically active, and it feels like the past almost-decade has just been so much protesting, canvassing, etc, and I’m just… tired. I have been doing voter reg stuff here and there for midterms this year, but it’s hard. I think just everyone is exhausted lately.

      1. Jessica*

        I think this is really one factor. For people in the US, many of us feel like we’re in political crisis. People have limited time and energy, and “help save democracy” just outranks “elementary school fall carnival” when they go to allocate it.

    11. For*

      I think the pandemic has caused many people to realize their kids were over scheduled – involved in too many groups. It’s so hard though because so many of theses things are worthwhile, like scouts and sports. I would say, as hard as it is, you have to let the feeling of being responsible for the future of some of the groups go. Pick one or two things and devote your energy there. I know it’s hard. Good luck!

    12. HannahS*

      Yes, I see it.

      1. Safety. The pandemic is not over. Many people (rightly) do not want to resume their normal activities yet.

      2. Some people have more caregiving activities than they used to. They may need to look after a family member, because they can’t hire a PSW. They may need to watch their grandchildren because daycare rules about illness are stricter than they used to be. Their mental health may be more fragile than it used to be.

      3. People are BURNT OUT. They’re burnt out from their work, from inflation, from illness and death, from years of appalling political news…people are tired.

      4. You’re right, it’s not “everyone.” It’s not you and the core group of people that you’re observing volunteering for stuff. That’s wonderful–I’m not saying you and they haven’t suffered the last few years, but obviously you’ve chosen to prioritize these volunteer duties that are important for you. That’s really wonderful! I think you may need to assume that this core group is it for now.

    13. MeepMeep123*

      I’m someone who has disengaged from any sort of group activities due to COVID. I’ve said no to requests for volunteer stuff from the group I used to be in. I’m not stepping up because I can’t afford to get sick. There are high-risk people in my bubble, including my daughter, and I can’t risk their health for a nonessential activity.

      By the way, a group like this begging for volunteers after leaders got sick would get me all the more resolved to not help out. Not because I’m a horrible person who refuses to step up, but because the high-risk folks in my bubble need me to stay safe so that they can stay safe.

  29. Come On Eileen*

    I registered for the Disney Princess Half Marathon that takes place at Walt Disney World early next year (February 2023). When I registered — along with several family members who don’t exercise much but are looking to get more fit — we had decided to walk the marathon. We’ve since learned that there is a time cap and it’s 16 minutes a mile. So, it’s do-able at a walking pace, but it’s a fast walk! Especially for my family members who are slowly starting up their fitness journey again. So I guess I’m looking for any success stories or encouragement that walking a half marathon and keeping in the pace requirements can be both do-able and fun!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did the Princess Half in … 2017, maybe? it was the tenth anniversary year. I walked the whole thing except for about the first 3/4 mile. It’s totally doable, as long as you keep a hustle on, but you really won’t have any time for any of the fun stuff along the way like the photo ops or whatnot. I was solo, so I loaded up my phone with a good fast paced playlist and did the thing with one earbud in. I had some well-timed shuffles — I got “I Like To Move It” by will.i.am (which is one of my “power songs,” don’t judge :) ) right as my bestie woke up and texted me a good morning, one of the triumph songs from Moana right as I came out of Cinderella’s Castle, and “Touch the Sky” from Brave (I am my dad’s Merida) right as I swung into the final up-and-down stretch in EPCOT to finish.

      It starts dirt early, like if you stay on property the bus will take you over to the starting corrals at like 2am, and you will wait, because walkers are in the last starting group, so you’ll be standing around for like three and a half hours waiting to start. And it will be dark and cold. If you take layers you don’t care about, Disney picks up any clothing that gets left along the route, launders it and donates it to shelters. (Otherwise, you have to carry whatever you take off.) By the time you get close to the finish, EPCOT will have opened and people will be lined up along the finish chute to cheer you on, and that is awesome. :)

      The day I did mine was my personal record for steps (about 50,000 in one day) – I walked the half in the morning, went back to my room and showered and changed, and then did the equivalent of another half going around parks the rest of the day :)

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing this! Especially the Disney play list — I love that idea and think we will incorporate it.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Look into the “couch to marathon” programs.

      But I’ve known lots of people who have walked the Princess, specifically.

    3. Just me*

      Very doable! The Princess Half was a family tradition for me for a decade or so. My mom had never done any races before that one, and as a petite, older, run/walker, was very worried about being swept… She always finished near the end, but the sweepers try very hard to make sure everyone is able to stay ahead of them, and as long as you’re able to keep moving, you should be okay. You really only need to make it to Magic Kingdom (mile 8ish) ahead of pace, because they need everyone off that part of the course before they open. After that, you’re in the clear.

      If you can do a 10k before and submit a proof of time (even if it’s much slower than the 2:15 pace that requires a proof of time), you may be able to get placed in an earlier corral. There are a *lot* of corrals, so starting even in the penultimate one will add a few minutes of buffer (due to injury, I walked one race, but because my time started me in corral C I was hours ahead of the sweepers).

  30. PhyllisB*

    All of you know I’m having a hip replacement this Monday (so I may not be on for a while. ) I have one last question: I will be having physical therapy (of course) and I was wondering if it was appropriate to give the therapist a tip? I ask this because he will be coming to my home to give me therapy. He’s going out of his way for me and driving quite a distance to accommodate me. Well, I think 90 miles at a time is a good way. The only reason I’m not really sure is he is a friend from church , and I don’t want to make things awkward. If I should tip, how much? Should I just make one substantial tip when the sessions end?

    1. fposte*

      I’ve done extensive physical therapy and I’ve never tipped; to me it falls under medical services, which isn’t a tipping category. But that doesn’t mean it’s a hard and fast rule and nobody ever tips. Given the situation in your case, I would consider doing one big thank-you gift that looks a lot like a tip at the end–I might do a gift card to make it seem “giftier”–and reference the travel specifically.

    2. UKDancer*

      I’m in England so the rules may be different for where you are but I don’t tip my physio because they’re a medical professional and so I don’t tip my medical professionals. I tip my massage therapist and my hairdresser but physios are different in my opinion.

    3. the cat's ass*

      HCW here, we don’t require/expect tips. I’m always grateful when someone writes me a nice appreciation card (and tells my boss i did a great job), but it’s never expected. Folks who bring a box of chocolates to the front office staff are really appreciated tho!

    4. Four of ten*

      I’m in the USA. It is inappropriate to tip. I was a visiting nurse at one point also. It would have been incredibly awkward to have someone tip. It is not expected and I would have refused it.

    5. Nitpicker*

      I had extensive physical therapy for two hip replacements. (Also had occupational therapy). I never even thought of tipping any of them. However one of the therapists was taking time off for personal/medical reasons. They couldn’t get a leave of absence so would be job hunting when things were resolved. They asked me for a written reference which I gladly provided – they were awesome.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I wouldn’t say this otherwise but you mention here that you have the same church. You can tell him that you keep him and his in prayer. Or you can look for simple gestures such as he mentions interest in a book and you happen to have a copy that you are done with. You do have a blurred line because of being friends from church. Others have said not to offer money so maybe a token gesture (low/no cost) would be just the thing.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Thanks for all the replies. Like I said, we go to church together so I know his wife and children, too.
        I think what I’ll do is when we’re done is a gift card to a nice restaurant that he and family can enjoy together. That won’t seem like a tip, but a gesture of genuine appreciation. Which it will be, of course. He doesn’t even work out of the local office, but he’s going to make an exception for me. That’s why I want him to know how appreciative I am. (Of course, after he puts me through my paces, I may feel differently!!) LOL

  31. dear liza dear liza*

    Hit me with your best mingling strategies!

    I pushed myself out of my comfort zone recently and attended a meeting of a special interest group where I knew not a single soul. It was at a brewery, so lots of outdoor standing around in circles. First I tried the ‘stand near a small group and wait for an oppty to chime in.’ Unfortunately for me, it had been a while since this group had had an in-person meeting so all the small circles of people seemed much more interested in catching up on personal news. I’d get a polite ‘hello’ but then they’d turn back to each other. Next, I told one of the organizers, “this is my first meeting, can you introduce me to someone.” She nicely did that, but both times the conversations petered out quickly. I asked someone else momentarily standing alone, “What should I do if I want to get more involved?” to which they replied, “Oh, just keep coming to these events! Excuse me, I see someone I have to talk to over there.” lolsob.

    In case I get over my social anxiety and try again, what other approaches to mingling do you suggest?

    1. allathian*

      Next time you go to an event, don’t try and insinuate yourself into a group that’s in the middle of a lively discussion. Instead, scan the room and go and talk to someone else who’s standing alone in a corner and introduce yourself. Paradoxically, the bigger the event, the more likely you are to find someone else, or several someones, who’s alone.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed. I know sometimes you don’t have much choice if everybody is grouped up, but hovering at the edge is, IMHO, the most draining option. A couple of other possibilities are to blurt out a basic bait question to a talking group (“Hey, is it true that the group has won the award for best human beings three years running? How do you do that?”) or to say to an organizer “Hey, could you please put me to work on helping out with the event? I’m new and find that an easier way to get into the crowd.”

      2. dear liza dear liza*

        Definitely a good reminder! The brewery was open to others and when I walked up to someone who was alone, he replied, “I’m here for beer, not the group.” Oops! I probably let that impact me a little too much.

        1. the cat's ass*

          ouch! I feel your pain. Mingling events are just, whew. And sometimes they do icebreakers and I’m not sure if they make it better or worse!

    2. Generic+Name*

      I’d say you did everything right, honestly. You could try attending again to see if people are more friendly if they see you a second time. I presume this group is interested in growing their membership, so it would behoove them to be more friendly to newcomers.

    3. CTT*

      I think you did a lot of the right things! Sometimes the exact mix of people can be off in such a way that it’s hard to connect. I’m one of those dreaded extroverts who genuinely likes mingling, and I’ve definitely left events thinking “well that was a bust” because I’ve had a similar experience to you. That it was the first in-person event in a while probably messed with the chemistry too. I think give it a few more tries to see if this was a one-off or they’re just weird about new members (which is a terrible strategy for a social group, but if it works for them…)

    4. Ann Ominous*

      I get you! walking around and striking up small talk sounds like a mini-horror story for me :)

      I wonder if you can do an event that is more geared toward teamwork and naturally requires more collaboration?

    5. Cacofonix*

      I feel your pain, as this happened to me a few times. You did well in my opinion, and frankly, I’d say that the organizers should be on top of their hosting duties by ensuring everyone stays engaged and circulating, and enlisting a few long time members to be inclusive too. You’d think that they could have encouraged talk about the special interest instead of only personal catch ups. Hopefully next time they meet, that will be out of their systems.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I usually hang around the edges of the room and find someone to exchange remarks with. Sometimes that doesn’t go anywhere, other times it leads to a good long chat. Occasionally it creates a new circle that others want to merge into.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Having always thought of myself as being something of an outsider, I have a tendency to look for someone else who might be an outsider, too, just to make small talk with. If most of the people in the group are men, I will consciously look for one of the few women in the group. If most of the people in the group are women, I will look for one of the few men in the group. If the people in the group are mostly of a particular age, I will look for the youngest or oldest person in the group. If it is a group of mostly white people, I will look for who might visibly appear to be of a person of color. I might look for someone who appears to be LGBT (although that is often not very reliable) or maybe someone who has a visible handicap.

    8. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Does this “special interest group” have other types of events? I’d start just by being seen. Go to events where people don’t really mingle. Dress nice. Be seen 2-4X. Then people will start saying hello and making small talk before and after the main event.

      I love the question because it’s so much how adulting works and I don’t get it. How has everyone known each other for 10,000 years? And I the only one who has moved around?

    9. Jackalope*

      I find it helpful to think of one or two questions to ask that are open-ended enough that they could lead to a possible conversation. If you’re especially nervous you could also go for a story or two related to the group that you can share related to the special interest. That can sometimes help.

    10. Not A Manager*

      If you found this group in some kind of online setting, I’d suggest reaching out to a few people beforehand. Connect with someone else who is new to the in person meetings, and try to meet up with them at the event (just to say hi, not to glom onto them). Also, do try to show up several times in a row. As your face becomes more familiar, more people will interact with you. I know that the lack of response/connection feels really personal right now, but it’s not. These people just weren’t paying attention to you. So don’t feel shy about showing up again a few times.

    11. Silence*

      Ouch. Sounds like it was an established group with no/few other new members. Are you invested in this particular special interest, or just one from a list of interests you want to learn more about?
      May I suggest looking for meetings where you do an activity not just socialise, I knit go to a group at my library and doing the craft gives an obvious conversation starter (what are you making? Who for? Where did you get the yarn/pattern/needles?)

  32. SuprisinglyADHD*

    Any advice on deterring feral cats from walking through your property/garden?

    Background: We recently rescued an abandoned feral kitten (Misty), and our adult cat (Cena) seemed to have accepted her. Until the day we moved her litterbox out of the living room (where she had been staying in a cat tent for safety) and into the bedroom near his litterbox. Suddenly he was cranky all the time and hissing at her and everyone. We thought he was unhappy to have to share the bedroom at night now.

    Yesterday I realized that there are 3 new feral cats outside, who walk across the driveway, under my car, and right along the front path, past the foot of my porch and into the garden there. At least one of them is living in the abandoned property next door. Cena has been watching these interlopers strolling right past our front windows, and we think he is actually upset about them and not the kitten.

    How can I make that area less inviting to cats without harming them or risking tracking something bad into our house?

    1. Cheshire Cat*

      I don’t have any advice about the feral cats, but if anyone has suggestions I’d love to know, too. There’s a cat in my neighborhood that view my back yard as part of its territory. My cat, who is indoors only, thinks the patio is his territory. If he sees the other cat back there, he gets quite upset. Convincing the other cat to stay away would b3 ideal! Unfortunately I don’t know where it lives so can’t talk to the owner.

      I do wonder if placing the two litte boxes near each other could be part of the problem, though? Can you move the kitten’s box to a different room, or farther away from Cena’s? Cats can be very territorial about their litter boxes. We had a situation once where we added a cat to the household and put the second box in the room across the hall from Original Cat’s box. And Original Cat would sometimes sit in the hallway between the rooms and block New Kitty from getting to either one. We had to move the second box to a different spot so OC couldn’t block both at once. YMMV of couse.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        We moved Misty’s box as far as we can, but there’s a limit. At night, the cats are restricted to the master bedroom and attached bathroom. Cena’s litter has always been the farthest corner of the bathroom and Misty’s is currently next to the hall door in the bedroom. That eased the immediate tension.

      2. Anono-me*

        Do you have any friends with dogs that you ask to stop by? Preferably big male intact dogs early in their walk.

        Coyote urine from the garden store may also work.

        You mention not having the time to TNR , but don’t mention cost as an obstacle.
        If you have the discretionary funds; maybe consider calling all the rescue places back and offering to pay for the surgery; if you can partner with someone else who can do the caretaking, but doesn’thave the discretionary funds.

        1. SuprisinglyADHD*

          The neighbor across the street walks his dogs to urinate on the street in front of our house, it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent unfortunately.

          I did offer to sponsor TNR for them but apparently they’re overwhelmed and don’t have the volunteers they need to handle what they already have. Apparently it’s not just cats either, we had a very sick goose land in our yard and no one could come deal with it. All the organizations are just too understaffed.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If they’re ferals, get them spayed/neutered. Unless you want to be overrun. That will also help reduce some of the behaviors that are most disruptive for people. There may be TNR groups in your area, your local animal shelters can probably advise you.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        I’ve called the town, county, and every volunteer organization on the island. The TNR programs all offer equipment and discount surgeries, but I would have to trap, transport, and keep the cats for recovery. I can’t do that, I can’t spend weeks feeding ferals to get them on a schedule and I can’t keep them in my house or property.
        These feral cats are new within the last 3 months or so, the previous ones all have notched ears and have been around for years. They stay on the edges of the property, not the driveway and gardens. I’m hoping that whoever neutered the first batch will do the same for the second, but in the meantime I just need them away from my house.

    3. Kathenus*

      Google cat deterrent or motion sensor cat deterrent – they make air and water based ones that go off when the outdoor critter walks past it. Doesn’t hurt them but scares them, and keeps them from wanting to come back. Jason Galaxy shows them off a lot on his show The Cat From Hell

      1. A313*

        Yes, I would suggest this, too. I have seen him use motion-activated sprinklers that were effective. And block the cat’s view where you can if there is still a place they hang out outside your house.

      2. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Jackson Galaxy is awesome, I forgot he put so many videos on YouTube! I’ll watch and se what he recommends.

    4. KatEnigma*

      Orange oil is supposed to work..

      We had this problem in a condo we rented. We had our own little patio area, that was off the bedroom we used as an office, where our cats hung out all day. Our male cat was VERY unhappy that a neighbor’s cat hung out on the patio in his view. He was spraying our futon every day (thank goodness, not some part of the rental!!!)

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*