weekend open thread – October 8-9, 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: How to Fall Out of Love Madly, by Jana Casale. Three 30something women try to navigate friendship, roommates, family, work, and love, while grappling with Bad Behavior from men. Gossipy and often relatable.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,023 comments… read them below }

  1. decorating help*

    Favorite sources to learn more about interior decorating? We bought a house recently and I think it’s time to upgrade our decor but I don’t have the first idea of where to start. I know I want our rooms to look more put together and colorful but…how to make that happen?

    And if anyone has hired professional help to do this, what was the process like and were you happy with the end results? Also if willing to share, approximately how much did you pay for it?

    1. Kat*

      Congratulations on the house!
      I love watching Alexandra Gater on youtube, I find her styles are very nice and it takes onto account what are the uses of the room

      What kind of styles do you like?

      1. Cure the FOMO*

        I do think the first step, no matter how you plan to proceed, is to try to define your own style a bit (or the shared style of the house, with your partner etc). This will help you both clarify your own decorating decisions and also provide guidance to any professional you engage. I thought I didn’t have a style but it turns out I like earth tones, organic shapes, minimalism, and asymmetry. The mood is calm and relaxed. I only realized that after living with someone whose taste was both more formal and eclectic! We could look at any two options and always choose the opposite. She liked bold geometric patterns, symmetry, and what I would call clutter. I think there’s online quizzes, or pick your three favorite rooms in a style magazine? Or are there any items that you think are quintessentially you?

      2. decorating help*

        If only I knew! I just want the place to look like some care went into it instead of being an un-cohesive mix of stuff my partner and I have been dragging around with us since college. Maybe that is the first step, to look through decorating mag or websites and try to figure out what i like.

        1. Lynn*

          Pick up the book “Styled” by Emily Henderson. It is a great book for design, but the best part about it in my opinion is that it helps you find out and name what you like. Highly recommend!

        2. JSPA*

          it may be a bit of a joke, but “tying a room together” while retaining many existing things is often doable, almost always cheaper, and far more ecological.

          I find it useful to group your existing things by style (rather than color) and see whether you can then end up with, say, a mostly midcentury-style living room, a mostly utilitarian office / spare bedroom, a mostly cozy/traditional master, and a hodge-podge basement or attic craft, sports or hobby area. You can cull what’s broken beyond repair, in the process.

          It’s also useful to focus on your own sense of visual harmony (or sense that things clash). If things feel good together, to both of you, that’s a reasonable stopping point. It’s not a competition.

          If everything is too curated, you may end up either feeling like you’re living in a hotel. This is assuming you don’t aspire to living a life focused on curating your stuff, but instead of having stuff that supports living your life, and making you feel at home in your home.

          1. Overeducated*

            The “tying together” thing just happened to me! I figured out from Pinterest that my preferred style is “maximalist,” so I tried to go bold with color, but for a year I thought I picked the wrong bright shade for my wall, have too bad taste to make maximalism work, and have been planning to repaint white. Then I bought a new rug – more or less same colors as old family rug, but different size and shape that filled the room better. Now….my wall color works?! The rug was key!

    2. Janet Holmes*

      One of the best spending decisions my husband and I ever made was to hire a colour specialist to help us develop a colour scheme for our house. She started by figuring out a colour scheme we both would like. Our tastes initially seemed quite different – we each yucked the other’s favourite colours. But she helped us find common ground among our 2nd choice colours – and those carried us through the decoration of three homes.

      The first time we hired her, it only cost a few hundred dollars (in 2004). We saved at least that much money by not making mistakes with paint choices. Plus we got to take advantage of her decorator’s discount at a few stores. We hired her again when me moved back to the same city. By then the bill was $600 for about 3 hours of work. Still worth it.

      Her work involved figuring out what colours pleased us, how they could be used to create flow between spaces (and different kinds of energy), and then how the basic colour palette should be tweaked in a specific location (and specific rooms) to take into account the colour of the light.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I suggest reading the Laurel Bern blog. She no longer takes on work but her blog posts, if you can look past the annoying formatting, are excellent. I also hang out on Houzz but the discussions can get hot and hostile. You have to be prepared to deal with that and leave any discussion that you find upsetting.

    4. English Rose*

      I know, it can be a bit daunting, but congrats, it will be great. Think of it as a process rather than an end result.
      Do you have any favourite pictures? One tip I heard ages ago was to build a colour scheme around the colours in a great picture.
      I recently bought a book called Love Colour by Anna Starmer (you can probably tell by my spelling of ‘colour’ that I’m in the UK but I expect there are international publications of the book). Also on books, but really if you are a fan of an fairly classic style, one of my favourites is Colefax and Fowler’s Inspirational Interiors by Roger Banks-Pye.
      On a more practical note, I love Pinterest for discerning what I like. Search for photos of interiors and save them, then try and work out exactly what it is you like about them.
      Good luck!

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        +1 for Pinterest. I pin a bunch a stuff without thinking, and then when I eventually go back through my boards it becomes clear to me what the common theme is across the looks that I like and what key elements of those looks are.

    5. Everdene*

      Ingrid Fettle Lee has an interesting take on this, and has a quiz to find your design personality rather than style. She also suggests asking yourself and your partner how you want your home to feel rather than look. I’ll put a link to the quiz in a seperate comment, but I really recommend considering the feel you want your home to have.

        1. Whee all the way home*

          I yelled “No!” at my monitor when I saw the photo on that page. So I guess my design style is more timid than hers.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Not sure if this is directly up your alley–the focus is more architecture–but I really liked the Not So Big House books. I would look at photos of two spaces and think “I like the left one more” and the book helped me put my finger on *why* one space worked more than another. Some of it is stuff you could apply to purchasing or arranging furniture–to make a cozy sitting spot somewhere, to make a room feel bigger or break a big open space into regions, to encourage traffic flow.

      1. Blue wall*

        Whenever I think about owning a home in the future, I know I’d want to pull these books out! They’re amazing.

      2. Aphrodite*

        I agree. I subscribe to a number of home decor magazines and I always like to go through the publications and look at pictures, including the ads, and identify what I like, what I dislike and, most importantly, why I feel that way. I still do that because if I can articulate the reason(s) behind my feelings I can then identify and narrow down opportunities. I know I really dislike certain colors (brown, tan, warm colors) and I loathe modern and extreme minimalism. I have identified a “style” I like that I call “comfortable elegance.” It leans traditional but is not specifically traditional. It is not stuffy or snobby but welcoming to myself, my cats and my guests.

        I also suggest using a lot of patience. Creating a home should develop over time. Better to live with temporary pieces for a couple of years than to rush in and buy a lot of stuff just to feel it. Select art that you love and let it come to you; don’t be in a rush to find something for the walls and certainly don’t select art because it goes with a certain color scheme. Go for a brightly colored tangerine sofa if you love it and it makes you happy and comfortable even if everyone is telling you to get a neutral color. Listen to your instincts as you learn; a good balance between the two will probably produce a home you love even if it takes several years.

    7. Ali G*

      My husband and I have worked with the same decorator team twice after purchasing our first home together (we were both home owners when we met) back in 2016. What we really liked about the process was, once you’ve agreed on a final vision, they cut the choices down significantly for you. So instead of the entire world of sofas, you have 3 to choose from. And if you don’t like any, you tell them so, talk about what you’d rather see (or not see) and then they try again.
      The designer we worked with has 2 rates: you can either pay her by the hour ($175) or by the room (large room $5k, small room $3k, kitchen $7500). There is also a commission on any items they source for you (25%). Usually this balances out since they have pretty good discounts with suppliers and retailers.
      I did searches on Houzz and other websites and then ended up interviewing by phone 3-5 designers. We met with 2 in person and really liked who we finally ended up with. She’s gone on to do a number of our friend’s places too (after they saw ours). We’ve even been in local magazines!

    8. Mary S*

      Check out the YouTube channel “Caroline.” Some great videos in particular: “The toxic trait of interior design” and “You’re doing home organization WRONG.” Also, I think this question has been asked a few times in the weekend thread in the last few months, so there are lots more tips in the archives here.

    9. EJ*

      if you will be painting, Sherwin Williams offers a free 30 minute virtual appt with a color specialist. they have you email pictures of the room in advance and it helped me a lot to have picked up many color samples from their store in advance.

      another “free with purchase” …if you are buying furniture I know la Z boy has interior designers who will come to your home and plan furniture, rugs, colors, even layout of artwork. we bought a couch from them, not the whole room, but I took many of her ideas or the room and used them in a much cheaper way.

    10. I'm Done*

      For starters, identify what colors you like and incorporate them into your living spaces through throw pillows, drapes, throw rugs, candles, etc. That’s fairly inexpensive and if you end up not liking it or you just want to try another color, it’s an easy fix. You can google rooms by color, like turquoise bedroom or pink living room and that brings up a slew of very different rooms. Secondly start to replace your furniture with more expensive versions. I love the eclectic look but I stick to white or natural wood because I love strong colored accessories and colored wall and the white furniture is like a blank canvas.
      Finally, buy what you love not because it perfectly matches. There is a lot of free inspiration out on the internet and I also do a lot of online window shopping to see the newest furniture and decor trends at upscale furniture stores, then I look for less expensive versions elsewhere.

  2. nan*

    Desperately in need of cozy book recommendations! Not cozy mysteries which I know is an official genre but books that make you feel cozy when you read them? Am settling in for a cozy fall weekend, have the cider and blankets, and need the reading to match.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is cozy, I think.

      If you like SF, Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers seriesis cozy.

      Everything else I can think of is mystery.

      1. just another queer reader*

        Also by Becky Chambers, the Monk and Robot series. It’s a cozy, chill book set in a delightful world! One of the main plot points revolves around tea.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I haven’t read “Anne of Green Gables” since I was a kid but the 80s miniseries is my favorite cozy autumn watch so the book would probably work too.

      “Pride and Prejudice” is a comfort read for me. “I Capture the Castle” is kind of quirky-cute and funny. “The Sun is Also a Star” is a really great YA rom-com type story. “The Hired Girl” by Laura Amy Schliz, which I think someone recommended here, also has a Green Gables vibe with an extremely unfortunate orphan having low stakes wholesome awkwardness as a maid to a wealthy Jewish family.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Came here to say this as well.
            Love seeing Valancy’s name pop up in the comments!

        1. Pool Lounger*

          Oh, I love that book! Especially the chapter where she tells all her relatives what sge really thinks about them!

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        I always read the Anne of Green Gables series of books when I want a comforting read (one of my presents on my birthday last thursday was a complete, matched set instead of my old mixed and matched set…) Fair warning to those new to it, the last in the series does deal with WWI so…

        Also echoing the Blue Castle recs from LM Montgomery as well

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I have all of them except the last one. I also tend to read these in the fall for some reason…

    3. Bluebell*

      Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley was a cozy read for me. So was The Authenticity Project. Plus Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce, but not the sequel as much.

    4. Workerbee*

      Maeve Binchy books, and Rosamund Pilcher. Grand characterization, life, quirks, humor, love, all wrapped up together.

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

        Agree with Pilcher, The Shell Seekers is one of my favorites.

      2. Voluptuousfire*

        Second Maeve Binchy novels. I like Circle of Friends the best. It’s a movie as well.

        When I went to Dublin a few years ago, I wanted to visit some of the places she spoke of in her books.

        1. the cat's ass*

          totally;they were both terrific authors. My fave is Coming Home as it was loosely based on her own (Pilcher’s ) life. So cosy!

    5. Junior Dev*

      I’ve only read a handful of the Discworld books but they all made me feel that way. Tiffany Aching is my favorite series within it—stuff does get dark sometimes but it’s always resolved by the end one way or another.

        1. Lissajous*


          Also, they do skew into the mystery stuff, but Victoria Goddard’s Greenwing and Dart books.
          They are primarily fantasy, play with the “my isn’t this an astonishing amount of murders in a very boring tiny village trope” a lot, and also architectural poetry is a thing.

    6. Henrietta Gondorf*

      84 Charing Cross Road. It’s a (real) collection of letters between a writer and a bookshop in the UK right after WWII. It’s absolutely charming.

      1. I take tea*

        This and the follow up The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street are books I reread regurlarly. Just love them.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      The Aunt Dimity series is super cozy. It’s not really mysteries, I would say, but there’s something that gets solved.
      Elspeth McGillicuddy could probably opine further on that!

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Nthing The House on the Cerulean Sea.
      I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
      I’m not sure if “cozy” is the right term, but Calvin Trillin’s Tepper Isn’t Going Out Today, about finding parking spots in New York City, is lovely and low stakes.
      Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott is a continuation of the Bertie Wooster stories, and very fun.

    9. I take tea*

      Also, if you at all like cats, Doreen Tovey’s Cats in the Belfry is charming and funny. Probably her other books as well. Cats in the Belfry is about raising Siamese cats in a small English village in the 1950’s.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Gosh, yes! I adore Tovey’s books – and it’s been ages since I heard anyone else mention them. (I think my folks got their Siamese cat on the strength of Cats in the Belfry, though given the amount of hijinx those cats got up to I’d consider it more of a cautionary tale…)

    10. PhyllisB*

      The Mitford series by Jan Karon is about as cozy as it gets!! I fell in love with Father Tim and all the interesting characters he interacted with. If you like British/Irish literature, Rosmind Pilcher and Maeve Binchy are two good choices. And, I know this one’s older, but if you like animals, James Herriot’s books are a good choice.

    11. Blue wall*

      Oh I love cozy books.

      Mitford series by Jan Karon
      No. 1 ladies detective agency series by Alexander McCall Smith
      Ladybug Farm series by Donna Ball

    12. SpellingBee*

      Seconding No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series! Also anything by D.E. Stevenson – my go to for when I need a literary cozy blanket.

      1. Lilo*

        No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency does feature child loss, though, as a warning. It’s not a bad book, but the main character’s backstory is very, very sad.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’m still reading The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson, recommended from someone here. It’s cozy so far and being literally about a library and reading makes it feel extra cozy to me.

    13. vulture watcher*

      my go-to cozy kids book is called In a Blue Velvet Dress–I think the author is Catherine Sefton? It’s about a bookwormish girl who goes to stay in a small town with her parents’ friends while they’re traveling for the summer, and ends up without any of her books. The horror! Stuck without anything to read, she explores the town and meets a friendly but mysterious ghost. The vibes are totally different from any other kids book or ghost story I’ve read.

    14. OtterB*

      More fantasy / science fiction (that’s most of what I read):

      To Hive and to Hold, by Amy Crook. Sort-of sci-fi; our world after an Event that introduced magic but there are still tech holdovers like solar panels. Low-key romance between an apothecarist who raises plants and magical bees on his roof and his new neighbor, a magical tattooist. Interesting barter. Lots about being a good neighbor and building community.

      The Dreamhealers series by MCA Hogarth, beginning with Mindtouch. Xenopsychology students from two species become roommates and friends.

      Mirabile, by Janet Kagan. Was it here that someone recently recommended this as a comfort read? Humans have colonized a new planet several generations back; geneticists/ecologists have to work at solving problems with the native wildlife and the genetic quirks of what they brought with them. Written as short stories and combined into a novel, so easy to read a bit and then put it down.

      The whole series of The Comfortable Courtesan, by LA Hall. Entwined lives of nobility, industrialists, artists, household staff, beginning in Regency-era Britain. These are such popcorn books for me.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Mirabile – I mentioned that one fairly recently, having just discovered it myself; it really is delightful, and as close to a cozy SF book as I can think of!

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

      Here are two of my all-time faves that are available free from Project Gutenberg:

      -The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim: pure delight, very sweet and “all about the friends you make along the way” without being saccharine, because von Arnim is just so sharp and funny. Her characters are all fallible, but in such humane, relatable ways.

      -Pussy and Doggy Tales by Edith Nesbit: I’m fairly certain this is meant to be a children’s book, but again, there’s just this underlying whip-smart satirical sensibility that keeps it from being oversweet. Lovely vintage illustrations, too, for anyone who needs more pet content.

    16. Pool Lounger*

      The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. All about beautiful rural Maine.

      The Moonin books by Tove Jansson.

      The Wind In the Willows.

      My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

      1. allathian*

        Seconding Moomin and all of Gerald Durrell’s books, but especially those set on Corfu. The other two are Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods.

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

      Almost anything by P.G. Wodehouse. (Content warning: occasional problematic portrayals of Black people, blackface, and British fascism.) The Lucia books by E.F. Benson. Alice in Wonderland. The Secret Garden. Anything by Jane Austen.

    18. goddessoftransitory*

      Shirley Jackson’s family memoirs, Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages. Hilarious and sweet.

    19. banoffee pie*

      The Inspector Chopra series by Vaseem Khan. It’s cozy mystery, but there’s plenty to enjoy even if you don’t really care whodunnit. There are a lot of subplots about Chopra’s family and community and so on (and a cute elephant). Also, Sophie Kinsella and Jenny Colgan for romance. I should be able to think of more but I’m drawing a blank now unfortunately.

    20. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Margery Sharp! Amazing author of “light fiction” from the … well she wrote a lot of books. 30s/40s/50s. One of her novels is literally called Something Light because of all the women who asked librarians to recommend, well, something light. Terrific writer, super cozy. Like a protofeminist P G Wodehouse, but just a touch more real. Cluny Brown and The Nutmeg Tree are probably the best, but the Martha series is terrific too (includes a young woman artist who gets pregnant by accident and leaves the baby with the father without a moment’s regret, then goes off to be a genius). Anyway, lots of them have been reissued as ebooks and they are terrific.

      (Don’t read The Innocents which will BREAK YOUR HEART or The Foolish Gentlewoman which is CHILLING – I mean do read them, they’re terrific, but not cozy.)

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        My girlfriend likes Elizabeth Goudge for cozy – semi-fantasy books in English villages, with magical creatures & small children – butI cannot follow her there. If you want something plotless & consisting almost entirely of descriptions of landscapes and domestic interiors, with small children rhapsodising over daffodils etc, you might like them!)

    21. Nitpicker*

      Going back to childhood, Noel Streatfeild’s Shoes books – especially Ballet Shoes, Theater Shoes (my favorite), and the ending to Dancing Shoes. For those who know the books, the girls from Ballet Shoes make cameo appearances in Movie Shoes which is very satisfying as it fills out their future stories.

  3. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    There have been some great cat photos the past little while (even better than usual) which gave me the idea that we should have a kitty photo caption thread.

    The one that really inspired this idea was the one recently that that totally said “your not taking me to the Vet!”

    So caption away:

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      This particular photo?

      A-li-son! Do you know what time it is? What have you got to say for yourself young lady?!”

      1. UKDancer*

        I think they’re saying “we are secretly planning world domination at the moment. Come back later to make the bed.”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha! In this case, we’d had a 15-year-old boy staying here and they wouldn’t go near him or his room while he was here (not his fault! they are just skittish with new people), but within about 15 minutes of him being gone they were frolicking in his bed.

  4. Joaquin d'Planck*

    I listen to stories of people transitioning and I’ve heard the phrase, “I didn’t feel like a woman (or man).” And I don’t know what that even means. What does it mean?

    And if I don’t understand, does that just mean I’m comfortable where I am (not fitting most stereotypes), or … I don’t even know what an ‘or’ would be. (I just hope it doesn’t mean I’m transphobic.)

    1. Genderqueer Anon*

      Hi! I’ve been questioning my gender for a little while now and I am also confused about what “feeling like a man” and “feeling like a woman” mean, but I’ll do my best to explain how it feels for me.

      Have you seen “The Matrix?” (I’m going to assume you have, so apologies in advance if you haven’t.) Do you remember the scene where Morpheus is explaining what the Matrix is to Neo? Brief recap: Neo has been woken up in the real world, where he has no hair. The scene takes place in a computer simulation, and Neo has a full head of hair and eyebrows and nice leather clothes. Neo asks Morpheus why he has hair in the computer simulation when he doesn’t in the real world, and Morpheus says in the computer Neo is seeing his “residual self image.” Neo imagines himself with hair, and thus has hair when he is in the computer world (regardless of what he looks like in the real world).

      So when I “feel like a man,” the best way for me to describe that feeling is “if you plugged me into the Matrix right now, you would see me as a man because I see myself as a man” and likewise when I “feel like a woman.”

      There are times when I’ll do a stereotypically masculine/feminine thing in a stereotypically manly/womanly way and that somewhat influences how I feel about my own gender, but the most clear-cut and startling times have been when I’m driving my car or sitting on the couch and my self-perception of my gender changes. Nothing else about the way I’m feeling–not temperature or comfort, for example–just a wave of “oh, I am now aware that I am a man.”

      I don’t know if anything I wrote made any sense at all. If you have any follow-up questions, I can try to answer them later this weekend.

      1. Emotional support capybara*

        The Matrix is a great example, especially when you consider the fact that it was created by two trans women.

    2. nineofswords*

      I don’t think it makes you transphobic – I think it means you just need a gentle push to think a bit more outside the boundaries. Or perhaps to put yourself in others shoes – forgive the impression, but you seem to not put a lot of stock in self identifying labels (not a bad thing!).

      So much of the world is black and white, yes and no, where it can be genuinely very hard to imagine anything else for a lot of folks. They hear about a term somewhere, start to think that I don’t need to be a woman, or a man, that I could be something between or something that I don’t even need to have a firm definition for, it opens so many doors. It’s freeing and it means a LOT to someone who’s felt so uncomfortable with themselves or how they’re perceived.

      I’m AFAB (assigned female at birth) and I’m on testosterone, and while I’m a “man” at work, I wouldn’t really call myself a man. I wouldn’t really call myself much of anything – I’m masculine, sure, but for some folks being trans is “I just want to fit firmly inside the “other” box (FTM, MTF)” which is of course just fine. But once you start questioning SOME boundaries… well, why not question some more! If pressed, I usually use the umbrella “gay” and or transmasc.

      But back to your original question – “I didn’t feel like a woman”. For me, that meant a lot of how I was perceived but it was equal parts not loving who I saw in the mirror. I like the parts of me that I consider feminine or traditionally “womanly”, but being somewhat short, having a high pitched voice, and some other secondary sexual characteristics made me uncomfortable. Once I got on testosterone I was much more comfortable – but I’m just fine being seen as that in between where some folks still call me ma’am and others sir (or sometimes both in the same conversation). For other (AFAB) people, it means top surgery, it means testosterone and it means no dresses, skirts, or anything.

      Just like most things – it comes down to personal experience. To be frank, I think why a lot of those “I didn’t feel like I was a woman” narratives get as common as they do is because it’s very hard for most people to understand otherwise! Folks who are trans and do end up meeting that narrative are perfectly fine and are I’m sure a large portion of individuals who would identify as trans when asked, but I know many many more people in my daily life and online communities that live in that in between.

      Hopefully that ramble was helpful. :)

      1. Joaquin d'Planck*

        When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be a girl, because girls did boring things and boys got to have fun. But really, I didn’t do girly things.
        As an adult, whenever people would say “women are like this, men like that,” I’d say, “then I’m a man.” But… I never thought I was, just that I didn’t fit the box. I’m an old, so I made vast overlapping circles, and I was over on the male side of the overlap for some things.
        But that’s just what people describe, stereotypes. What I feel like is the me I’ve lived as, but …it’s not a gender at all, it’s just me. So I wonder.

        1. Despachito*

          I felt pretty the same as a kid (girls were never portrayed as doing interesting things while boys were, and it was much more appealing to identify with someone who did interesting things). And the same with the stereotypes (which are often biased against women – I hate the idea that men are the active doers and women the passive helpers), and the same with the feeling as “it’s just genderless me”.

          But as I discussed it with other people, several women told me that they consider the fact they are a woman a strong part of their identity. So it is likely some people feel this much stronger than you and me?

        2. Genderqueer Anon*

          There’s a joke that goes: one fish asks another fish “how’s the water?” And the other fish replies, “what the hell is water?”

          People whose gender aligns with their assigned gender at birth and have never really thought much about their own gender are like the “what the hell is water?” fish. They don’t notice it because they don’t need to notice it.

          To make a bad analogy, I suppose trans people would be fish out of water. Air isn’t working for them, and they need to get to an environment that does. And perhaps you’re like an amphibian. Air or water, it doesn’t matter to you because you can live in both.

          1. JSPA*

            Eh, seems to me that plenty of cis people are thrilled to be manly men, or womenly women, or in “smell the testosterone” / high on my own estrogen” mode.

            And there are self identified trans people who are also more NB- identified than anything, but deeply appreciate and identify with the social role(s) more congruent with the gender not assigned at birth.

            Misery is no longer a requirement for transition, which changes the calculus of who, exactly, “gets to” transition.

            Compare, older bi people who have happily lived a “straight” life, but might equally well, in some other society, lived a gay or expressedly bi life. Similarly, there are those who are fairly flexible, in terms of how they can live gender (or enjoy non-conforming!) vs those who have a narrower comfort zone (and/or one that’s further at odds with their assigned gender), or are distressed to feel non-conforming.

            That some people have more flexibility is immaterial to those who don’t; but equally, one person’s need to transition doesn’t mean it’s trivializing, for others to feel a milder tug in a similar direction.

            1. Genderqueer Anon*

              Yeah, the analogy is bad because it’s reductive. And I didn’t want to imply that the bar for transitioning is “you must be suffering as your current gender!” The bar for transitioning should be “I want to transition.”

              I was trying to get at the idea that for some people without a strong connection to their gender, the “imagine yourself as the other binary gender” may not work as a thought experiment for “how to know what being trans feels like” and that that’s also a valid way to experience gender. Clearly an analogy about fish was not the best way to express that.

              I appreciate your comments here and elsewhere on this thread. You’ve explained a lot of the different ways to experience gender very well.

        3. nineofswords*

          It’s funny – you may consider yourself older (and perhaps a bit divorced from the more modern interpretations, again sorry to make assumptions) but this is frankly very similar to my experience and the experience of a few of my friends. It’s a pretty universal one for a lot of “transmasc” or “AFAB” people, or any of the other many different words over the years. I think you’re absolutely just fine living the way you are because it’s, like you said, just who you are (something I completely relate to).

          I also think that if you did find some interest in the general “trans” umbrella, no one would fault you for investigating further into wording or better yet the community. I don’t know where you live, but I’m sure there’s a lot of communities near you for folks who do or don’t use labels and feel similarly should you want to meet a few more like minded folk.

          I guess to wrap things up – being trans doesn’t necessarily mean you wake up one morning and say “well geez, I sure don’t feel like the way people have told me all my life” like some narratives will imply. Just like some kids who are gay growing up just know it, there’s a lot of folks who just know whatever rigid definitions of gender and sex some folks are throwing around just aren’t anything more than stereotypes, and it’s more getting the strength, courage, support and knowledge to take that first step to living more authentically.

        4. Jackalope*

          If I’d been born twenty years later I’d probably identify as NB. Growing up I felt the cultural girl and woman boxes didn’t fit and neither did the boy and man boxes. I finally decided that if I was a woman ?and I knew I wasn’t trans, so I was a woman), I would have to tear up the boxes some to find a way to be myself AND a woman. I think it mostly worked, at least in my personal life, although the outside world doesn’t always agree with me. But I feel so much less stifled than when I thought the cultural rules had to apply to me, or I had to for the womanhood box in the same way that other women do.

        5. Arya Parya*

          Just replying to add that I feel the same. I never questioned my gender, am fine with she/her pronouns. But I was always a tomboy and am now a not very feminine woman. I just decided to be who I am, a woman who mostly likes things that are considered masculine. Although I also like some feminine things. Maybe I would be NB if I were younger.

          I have a daughter who I try not to fit into gender roles. I offer a wide selection of toys and clothes. She can figure out what she likes. She’s turning into a girly girl, but that’s fine because she chooses to be.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, me too. I never questioned my gender, but when I was a kid (preteen), all of my friends were boys and I played with legos and meccanos rather than dolls. I sometimes condescended to play with dolls with my younger sister, who was much more traditionally feminine as a kid. Although when we hit our teens, I got to terms with my changing body much quicker than my sister did. Probably because I wasn’t traditionally pretty like she was, so she got harassed by boys a lot more than I did. I guess I had my RBF down pat at an early age, because most boys were too intimidated by me to even attempt to harass me. One death glare from me and they’d slink away.

            I don’t like a lot of supposedly feminine things like fashion, romcoms, or shopping, and I quit using makeup during Covid. I’m also hairy by choice and because I’m lazy, although I do get my facial hair removed about once every 6 weeks. I guess I’m lucky in that my husband doesn’t mind, but I wouldn’t depilate just to please a man. I also choose to dress modestly enough that I don’t have to deal with other people’s opinions about hairy women.

            When I was a freshman in college, I dressed butch; I had a crew cut, and I usually wore lumberjack shirts, Levi’s jeans, and Dr. Martens boots. It took me a while to understand why I was getting hit on by women. In my sophomore year and beyond, I dressed more femme and wore makeup.

            All that said, I identify strongly as a woman, and slightly resent the idea that for some people I’m possibly not a cis woman because I don’t conform to a lot of feminine ideals.

            1. Catherine*

              Yeah, I worry that the definition of ‘woman’ is becoming more tightly defined, tied to old fashioned ideas of the ‘feminine’ and limiting – I wish that the idea of ‘woman’ could have expanded to include the many ways a woman can be, feel and present herself.
              I want to ask some NB people what the idea of ‘Woman’ is that they feel it doesn’t encompass them?

              1. anxiousGrad*

                From your comment it seems to me that you’re looking at nonbinary people as people who were assigned female at birth and who have rejected femininity. But nonbinary also includes people who were assigned male at birth. It’s not just about not wanting to conform to stereotypes of what a woman or man should be, it’s an internal sense of self. That feels different for everyone, but for me it began in preschool when I would wish that I could switch back and forth between being a boy and a girl even though boys and girls don’t have very many physical differences at that age and my parents didn’t push stereotypes on me (my hand-me-down toys from my brother included a play kitchen as well as a baseball glove). When I began to go through puberty I had a huge level of discomfort with all of the changes. I remember many times looking in the mirror and having very Mulan “who is that girl I see” moments when my chest began to get bigger. It was the time when I began to feel that my body was “wrong.” Actually, even before puberty I was so jealous of boys being able to stand to pee that I came up with an idea for a toilet which would allow everyone to pee standing up. So while expressing my gender as a nonbinary person includes subverting gender stereotypes, my gender identity is an internal part of my self separate from how society defines what women and men should be.

        6. Peeklay*

          A lot of your responses are resonating with me and I identify as Agender or
          Greygender. For most of my life gender has not been something I think about that much, except at times it’s forced upon me. I’ve never understood why gendered identities are so important to people (wife, mother, etc). One of my NB friends told me that they feel a since of euphoria when people use their correct pronouns and I totally did not understand. I don’t identify with any pronouns at all. Literally you can calle anything, I don’t care. Could it be that you are somewhere on the Greygender spectrum?

          1. Clara*

            The problem with Agender or greygender is that it can be used to deflect meaningful introspection and discussion on you’re relative privilege in society at large. At least if you’re AMAB anyways.

        7. fposte*

          I’ll throw in the fact that I’m a woman nearly sixty, so on the older side, and I was really interested in the transgender experience, for want of a better word, when I was young. That’s mainly because I also didn’t feel like the reductive teachings about what womanhood is applied to me, and while I didn’t feel necessarily like I was trans or wanted to transition, it seemed like something my resistance to “womanhood” might indicate. But, fortunately for not just me, “womanhood” largely gave way to a wider view of what being a woman could constitute, so it ended up fitting me just fine.

            1. fposte*

              Interesting question. I’d say it’s not so much that I’ve got specifics on that as that I let go of the specifics. That’s the part that confused me–if I didn’t fit the commonly enumerated qualities, what did it mean? And the answer turned out to be “Nothing.”

        8. Girasol*

          I often wonder how much being trans has to do with not feeling right in the body one has and how much with not wanting the social stereotypes assigned it. It seems to me that disliking social stereotypes – this is what girls do, that is what boys do – is completely a different problem from feeling that the body one was born in does not feel like the right one. I wonder whether if pink and blue, Barbies and GI Joes, hopscotch and dodgeball, etc. were not so firmly assigned to girls and boys respectively, and everyone could like whatever they like without being told that it was not appropriate for their gender, would that change anything for trans people?

          1. Tea*

            I only have anecdotal evidence to go by here, but… I think the ‘gendering’ of ordinary life choices and preferences really only complicates things externally – ie. trans women are given the side-eye by other people if they still love monster trucks and khakis, trans men get the same ‘fake boy’ treatment for still enjoying ‘feminine’ things. I know several transmasc / ftm trans men who… Love pink. Love dolls. Love dresses, pastels, cute things, getting their nails done. It doesn’t make them not men, just as cis men can enjoy all of those things too. The real problem is when people treat their taste in colors and hobbies as somehow invalidating their gender.

    3. Despachito*

      I also wonder how much this feeling has to do with how the world reacts to us in terms of gender stereotypes.

      And whether it would be different if we woke up in a world where we would be treated the same irrespective of our gender in situations where gender (or sex) is not important (which I think are most situations, with the exception of our sex lives and some medical issues).

      I hope this is not offensive and is definitely not meant as such, but would those of you who are transitioning feel the need to do so (or would the need be equally urgent) if the society considered you mostly as a person and not as a man/a woman (and treat you differently according to your gender)?

      (One of the reasons I am asking is that I find my gender irrelevant for almost all my public interactions. I’d hate being stereotyped or discriminated against because of it, but if I am not, I do not feel it as a part of my identity. But perhaps other people identify with it much more strongly?)

      1. Strong Aroace Vibes*

        I would *love* that world. I don’t get gender, and the fact that social relations are so gendered is a real limitation for me. But I also know that many people would not like that world, because for them their gender is really important to who they are, and they LIKE having it mirrored back to them by the world (not that they like the oppressive or toxic aspects of social gender, which certainly exist, but that they like being seen in the world to be their gender). Not feeling gender myself, I used to think gender was just a bunch of cultural norms that people accepted as their role in life, but now I understand that those norms are the cultural *expression* of gender—from listening to other people on gender, it sure is my understanding that gender would still exist, that people would still feel their gender, in the absence of cultural norms. (And then new cultural norms would probably immediately arise, because people are feeling gender and want to be seen that way, etc…)

      2. AlwaysAnon*

        I’ll take a stab at answering this, but this is a complicated question that a lot of people will have different, perfectly legitimate answers to.

        Although I didn’t particularly like the social box I was assigned, for me there’s also a difficult-to-define element of physical comfort. My original set of sex characteristics always kind of came with a mental record scratch, and living and moving around like that was just weird and uncomfortable. (To put it bluntly for the example that many people will find the most salient: I absolutely hated the physical sensation of having breasts in a way that had nothing to do with their effect on my social reality.) Obviously this isn’t a universal experience, and there’s a huge variation in peoples’ relation with their anatomy.

        Ultimately, my take is that gender is deeply personal and extremely nebulous and no universal rules apply. I don’t think I could define it in any meaningful way, but at the end of the day I’m infinitely more comfortable with this physical experience of existence than otherwise.

      3. TransAcademic*

        I identify as a trans man (AKA FtM transgender), and I am actively transitioning. I would absolutely feel the need to transition even if society didn’t treat men and women differently. I hated going through puberty because of the ways my body changed. I desperately wanted a male body instead of a female body. I still do, which is why I’m on T and will have top surgery when I can.

        About 6 months ago, I bought some men’s dress clothes to wear to a conference. I went home and put them on while wearing a binder. When I looked in the mirror I cried. I finally looked the way I’d always wanted to look. I looked like a man. (Mostly, anyways. The shape of my face is still more feminine than I’d like and I don’t have facial hair.)

        In my experience, some (certainly not all) cis women have trouble understanding how different my gender dysphoria is from the negative feelings they have about their bodies. It’s not just that I don’t like the way my body looks, it’s that it feels like the wrong body entirely. It’s not a case of thinking, “Oh, I’d like my body if I lost weight, or had a larger/smaller chest, or my body shape was different.” For me, having breasts at all is part of the issue. Having ovaries/a uterus/etc. is part of the issue. I don’t want those characteristics to be a little bit different, I want them to not exist (on my body) at all.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Throwing in the n/a perspective here, most people (most allistic people?) tend to have an innate self-identification with their gender. That may be a very solid connection, or more like seeing shadows of their gender within their own experiences rather than the whole gender, but most people have that connection in the same way that most people have a connection to their hands. Whereas for me, there’s nothing there at all. Literally nothing there, to the point that in the HRT and cancer risk thread I kept getting surprised by people continuing to use “woman” and grouping me in with that because I don’t have any sense of connection to or belonging with that societal group. I habitually gender as female for convenience, but I’m no more a man than I am a woman- neither group includes me, and I don’t belong in either one. I’m just sitting here, I guess.

      1. JSPA*

        HRT does replace either a classic male or (more often) classic female set of hormones, though I belive some clinics will mix-and-match for people who have a more complex gender identity, or a specific cancer trigger to-be-avoided. Thus, as opposed to a trans-hormone-cancer-risk thread, I’d guess the vast majority of people getting progesterone/estrogen HRT will be fairly well on the female-identified end of the spectrum (?).

        1. ThatGirl*

          That thread was also in the context of menopause. Which does not exclusively happen to women of course but HRT in that context generally refers to estrogen or progesterone.

          1. JSPA*

            Menopause happens to anyone who has functional ovaries (etc) and no longer does (or had equivalent supplied hormones, and is tapering off). So that part certainly is not specific to people who identify as female. But supplementing back with the cis-standard hormone mix seemed somehow unexpected (to me! could be entirely my ignorance!) if someone doesn’t have a cis-female-or-adjacent goal.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              In this case it had actually started as a conversation about testosterone pellets and their impact on estrogen-receptive cancer risk! I am taking 0 hormones and blocking some of mine, but I’d read somewhere that supplementing with testosterone is a similar risk to supplementing with estrogen.

            2. ThatGirl*

              I’m no doctor or menopause expert, so I don’t know if menopause symptoms could be eased by testosterone. Certainly someone who doesn’t identify as female would be less likely to want to take estrogen etc!

      2. Kara Danvers*

        >most people (most allistic people?) tend to have an innate self-identification with their gender

        I see this claimed a lot in gender discussions, but it’s not what happens when I see in practice when cis people talk about their experience of gender. Personally, I suspect most people are cis-by-default (that is to say, no gender identity, regardless of the extent to which they participate in stereotypes), which leads to discussions exactly like this one.

        I could very well be wrong – unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find many studies about the cis experience of gender. We are all assuming we operate on the same “default”, and that’s a bad assumption for any field of study.

        But personally, I think “identity” as a paradigm is a flawed one (just like the focus on dysphoria was a flawed paradigm before that). Hopefully our understanding will keep evolving.

        1. fposte*

          Sometimes I think it would be so useful, if madly invasive, to genuinely be able to feel somebody’s feelings–never mind thoughts, I want to know if somebody else’s mild pain is my severe, or if my feelings about gender are typical cis feelings. I think that the assuming we are the default (or, conversely in some cases, that we are all outliers) is a good point, and knowing what other people feel might make things worse or make things better, but I would love to know.

          Can you elaborate a little on the “no gender identity” thing? Do you mean that cis people aren’t generally aware of feeling their gender because it’s such an innate part of them and their treatment, or that gender is really more about the external social construct than the internal? I remember thinking the latter might be the case at some point, but now I’m not as convinced. I do think the social construct heavily influences how we view and perform gender, though (history is great for illuminating that), and it always fascinates me to consider how humanity or parts of it might deal with the concept in 500 years.

          1. Kara Danvers*

            If you google “cis by default ozymandias”, you can read a trans person’s take on what it means. But in short, I think a lot of cis people’s descriptions of their experiences comes across more as agender, rather than any sort of match of an internal state.

            I do think gender is entirely socially constructed. Much like money, language, religion, these are real forces that have profound impact on people’s lives, that developed in societies because they have some sort of utility – but they are not innate physical truths of the universe.

            (inb4 someone reading this chain brings up Noam Chomsky)

            1. fposte*

              I was going to bring up John Money, actually. Not because I inherently disagree with you, but because I think his famous gender reassignment failure hints at something beyond social construction.

              But I also think that you’re right, and that’s why notions of gender vary from culture and time to time. I therefore don’t think there’s such a thing as perfectly, completely, correctly understanding how gender operates–it’s almost Heisenbergian in that respect. (That’s a reason why I inwardly wince at arguments for things I agree with that are based on the idea that there’s an essential truth, but sometimes that’s the politically expedient tack to take.) For a lot of things I love to think about how people will be viewing something in 500-1000 years, through their own presentist and inflected lens, and gender is a big one there.

              1. Kara Danvers*

                Just to be clear, I don’t think “social construct” means “trivially malleable”. If I tried to pay someone in Monopoly money (because money is just a social construct), they would rightfully tell me to get lost. That’s not because we have an innate sense of what “money” should look like, but because we have experience and understanding of our social systems to know what will get us the outcome we want vs. what won’t.

                (John Money… might be more disturbing than you realize. You may want to look at the controversies section of his Wikipedia page. I don’t think we can glean much knowledge on the nature of gender from his experiments, as there was a lot more than gender going on there.)

                1. fposte*

                  I know how disturbing John Money is–that’s my point. And I agree with you on social and psychosocial structures being huge, to the point where people in every country and time consider theirs to be immutable fact. But that doesn’t mean there are no influences beyond that. There was a longtime AAM commenter I haven’t seen in a while who did genomic research, for instance, and it was fascinating. So I’m not saying “gender is biological” or “gender is immutable,” but “the cocktail that makes up our understanding isn’t entirely sociocultural.”

        2. Jackalope*

          Here’s my experience in this. As I mentioned upthread, I’ve never felt like I fit the societal boxes for being a girl or woman. As I’ve grown older I’ve found my own way to make peace with that and to feel like I can be myself AND be a woman, but it was hard. At the same time, I did my own personal “self-inventory” (not the best word), and I’m sure that I’m cis and not trans. A trans person up-thread said that he always felt like his body was WRONG for him, like just having a uterus and ovaries, or breasts, etc, was something that shouldn’t exist on his body. I’ve always felt the opposite; when describing this to a good friend I’ve said that my soul/self/? fits my body like a hand in a well-tailored glove. I don’t always LIKE the way the female parts of my body act (including both primary and secondary characteristics), but it feels like the right body for me to be in, and when I’ve done thought experiments on being cis vs trans (since people were giving me grief about not fitting the girl or woman boxes right), the idea of having a male body or living a transmasc life felt wrong to me in terms of who I was. So I do feel like I have a specifically cis gender orientation, even though I can’t put my finger on what that means or why the body I was born with feels like the right one even though I never fit well with society’s ideas of how that should manifest in my life.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Whereas I don’t even find my body fitting. If I woke up in someone else’s body I’d be annoyed, but not out of fear of losing this one! My ideal physical form isn’t even humanoid, I’d like to be a giant floating koi with telekinesis and how people try to gender that can be their problem.

          2. Kara Danvers*

            Back when dysphoria was the main trans narrative (in public discourse, anyway), I would have described myself as cis or cis-adjacent (I don’t think I would’ve felt wrong in a male body, but I didn’t feel particularly wrong in a female one either – but I can certainly intuit why someone might feel wrong one way or another).

            The paradigm has since shifted to matters of internal identity, independent of physical attributes, and that internal experience is one I don’t understand. Many trans people do not experience dysphoria or seek any sort of medical intervention. It’s hard for me to read conversations about identity as not really being about social roles, or stereotypes, etc.

            (To be clear, I use the names and pronouns that people provide. Lack of understanding doesn’t mean lack of kindness!)

          3. allathian*

            I feel pretty much like you do. I don’t always like my body very much even if I’ve largely come to terms with its attributes, but I definitely wouldn’t want to wake up in a male body, either.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      At base, it’s just a thing you don’t get, because you don’t feel the same way. I’m ace, and the notion of being sexually aroused is completely foreign to me. I get that most folks do, but I have no idea (nor do I really want to know) what that actually entails, and that’s okay, I don’t have to get it. There’s a gazillion and twelve other things I don’t get because I don’t have those experiences – and that’s okay, I don’t have to get any of it, I just have to not be a jerk about other people’s lived experiences, and I do my best there.

      1. VI Guy*

        I like to use the example of asking a blind person for their favorite color. For those who have been completely blind from birth, it’s an unworkable question.

        I grew up atheist and describe religion this way. I know that it is pervasive, yet I personally have no experience and can’t begin to talk about it.

        1. fposte*

          That’s funny, because I grew up atheist and still am, but I think (perhaps wrongly) I have a reasonable idea of what faith is like. Mostly because general life and the study of literature have meant a lot of exposure to faith. OTOH, I think I’m tipping into treating it as a monolith in the way we’re saying gender isn’t, and when I think about it I suspect people of faith may be assuming it means the same thing to others when the experience, not just the beliefs, are probably very different from person to person.

      2. Despachito*

        I find it very helpful if those with different experiences are willing to share because it helps a lot to understand them, although only on the intellectual level (given I am unable to experience the same), and it diminishes the possibility I’d do something they may perceive as jerkish without knowing.

    6. Cure the FOMO*

      I don’t know if this helps, but I just – try to accept that people feel something I don’t necessarily understand, but it’s true for them, and the best thing I can do is accept and affirm them the way they are asking me to. Just provide support and love without criticism. Maybe for me it makes perfect sense to stay the gender I was born as without feeling obliged to play into stereotypes – so I’m a woman who doesn’t wear makeup, value male attention, or take care of people – but other people feel deeply that they are the other gender, or alternating genders, or no gender. Nobody is actually asking me to sign off on this or provide the final confirmation or approval. Just love the people in your life and try to show up for them the way they need you to.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I came here to say something comparable. What matters is being accepting and supportive of other people’s truth.

        For a few years I volunteered at an LGBTQ support hotline as a peer counselor. Our group of volunteers ranged across the spectrum. Many, including myself, didn’t identify as trans and yet the people who anonymously reached to us on the phone or by chat consistently shared that they felt better after talking with us. What we offered was affirmation and support.

        I’ve had a number of trans people in my own life as well. I don’t know what it’s like to have feelings about my body not matching my definition of gender, and don’t understand it because it’s not my experience. I don’t have to understand it, just embrace that it’s real for others and support them in a society where that’s very needed.

      2. fposte*

        I really like this comment. It’s been really useful in my life to realize I didn’t have to understand something, especially about somebody else’s life, to accept it. It’s funny how much easier it is to do that with technology than with humans.

      3. Kara Danvers*

        Yeah, understanding this topic should *not* be a prerequisite to treating someone with dignity and respect.

        That said, it’s really nice to feel like I understand something about someone else’s experience, so I’m going to keep trying!

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

        Captain Awkward has a nice column advising this very thing. LW was trans who had a mom who kept trying to “understand” and was haranguing LW in that effort. Captain Awkward advised LW to tell mom that mom didn’t *have* to understand, just to support them and use their correct name and pronouns.

    7. Anons*

      It only really gets to be transphobic if you deny the experiences of trans people, in my opinion. What I’m hearing is “I don’t know what it feels like to be trans”, which would make sense, if you’re not trans! I’ll put a link in the next comment.

      1. Anonother*

        Another analogy I saw on Twitter once that resonated with me was comparing identity to the parts of a car, like electrical, transmission, exhaust system, etc. So for me (cis woman) gender identity is humming along smoothly, but there’s an occasional squeak in sexual orientation and some major noises coming from neurodivergence.

    8. Maggie*

      It probably just means your comfortable. I think that’s how I am. I don’t “feel” like anything or “identify” as anything. I simply am/I just exist how I always have been. I guess that’s the crux of it all – we can’t understand what it’s like to feel like someone or something else. Or at least that’s how I understand it in my brain.

    9. Nicki Name*

      I’ve seen it explained this way: “Imagine you looked so much like a (person of some other gender), you had to pretend to be one.”

    10. Strong Aroace Vibes*

      I don’t think it means you’re transphobic, I just take it to mean you don’t have a strong feeling of gender yourself, and so you (reasonably!) can’t understand what it would mean for somebody else to “feel” or “know” they are a woman. I don’t get gender. I always understood my gender as something I knew was my assignment, my lot in life, and it was a real newsflash to discover that most people have a deeply-held internal sense of what their gender is—their gender is a core part of who they are far beyond cultural norms (although their *expression* of gender is likely to follow cultural norms). I don’t have that. It doesn’t sound like you have that, and yet are more or less comfortable with how the world interacts with you in response to how it perceives your gender. So there’d be no reason for you to consider your gender, or to realize that others have a deep sense of their own gender, and that trans people are feeling that sense of their own gender being not the gender that culture has assigned to them based on their physical body. I wasn’t comfortable with how the world interacted with me in response to how people gendered me, so I switched to they/them pronouns. Not being a person who “gets” gender I might not be the most qualified to answer, but I wanted to tell you how I conceive of this gender business!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        “It doesn’t sound like you have that, and yet are more or less comfortable with how the world interacts with you in response to how it perceives your gender. So there’d be no reason for you to consider your gender, or to realize that others have a deep sense of their own gender.”

        That is almost exactly how I feel (maybe it has something to do with being aroace?) and I never saw it expressed so well. If I try to explain it, it comes out either sounding like I’m saying I’m agender (which I’m not) or else like I’m being dismissive of people’s experiences or am implying that being a tomboy or a boy who played with dolls/likes fashion is the same as being trans or something.

        I am comfortable being a woman/girl, but…it doesn’t mean much more to me than being average height or slightly overweight or a brunette. All these things are true of me and none of them feel in any way untrue, but…I don’t have a deep sense of my sense as a brunette or a green-eyed person or a woman.

        Thank you for putting it into words so well.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          “it was a real newsflash to discover that most people have a deeply-held internal sense of what their gender is—their gender is a core part of who they are far beyond cultural norms”

          Newsflash for me too. And I want to echo Irish Teacher and say Strong Aroace Vibes described a lot of what I feel better than I seem to be able to do, thank you.

        2. GraceC*

          I’m a cis woman who does have a deeply-held internal sense of my gender, as opposed to what gets called “cis-by-default”, but I kind of don’t know how to explain it.

          Things my gender is NOT: my uterus, my breasts, my ability to menstruate, my potential future motherhood. The idea that someone would point at me, a woman who is very definite about her femininity, and use my body as an excuse to be all TERFy? No thank you.

          The main thing I can point to is when I was younger, 11/12 sort of age, we were in an art class at school drawing portraits of our classmates. The teacher told the girl drawing me that some of my facial features were “more masculine” than had been drawn. My jawline and nose, specifically (which I remember very clearly because I went home and immediately googled rhinoplasties. Don’t do that to a kid, folks).

          The visceral feeling of it is still there when I think about it – being described as masculine or male in any way was deeply, deeply unsettling and uncomfortable. Just an instant and inherent ‘nonono that’s not me’ sort of feeling. The idea of someone looking at me and mentally assigning any sort of masculinity is just…not me! Feels weird! Don’t like it!

          I spoke to a coworker recently and mentioned this (over a decade later, it had still stuck with me) and heard a very similar story – also a cis woman, had an unfortunate short+curly haircut as a teen that had people calling her a ‘he’ at first glance. Uncomfortable, weird, wrong. Compare that to other people I’ve mentioned that to, who agree that it could certainly set off teenage insecurities to have specific features mentioned, but who don’t have the same visceral reaction to the gendering of those features. People who probably don’t have a particularly strong sense of gender – who read the “imagine if you woke up and everyone saw you as a [man/woman]” thought experiments and go ‘huh, it’d be weird but I wouldn’t really care much’.

          And that day in art was one occasion! One time when someone’s observation about me contrasted with my deeply-held internal knowledge of myself, and it still feels weird to think about. (And I still poke my face in the mirror sometimes and wonder what I’d look like with a less square jawline or a smaller nose. Still holding a grudge for that day, Ms Richardson.) I can’t begin to imagine if my internal sense of self was different to what people saw – if that feeling was every day, all day, every time I heard my name or my pronouns or had anyone look at me

          1. OyHiOh*

            Kind of to the opposite experience, I shaved my head in college. I recall a summer day going somewhere, wearing a sundress and flats and shiny bald head and a group of middle school age boys jeering “hey, are you a boy or a girl?! Hey boy-girl” at me, and all I felt was amusement. The incident caused no internal distress, and kind of solidified an appreciation of being able to physically fall in between spaces.

          2. Irish Teacher*

            “People who probably don’t have a particularly strong sense of gender – who read the “imagine if you woke up and everyone saw you as a [man/woman]” thought experiments and go ‘huh, it’d be weird but I wouldn’t really care much’.”

            Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction or rather “well, it doesn’t sound like that big a deal, but I guess it’s hard to know how you’d react until you are actually in the situation.”

            And that teacher sounds utterly tactless. Commenting on a teen’s body like that is never a good idea. Honestly, even drawing portraits of classmates, unless they specifically volunteer sounds like it could lead to problems.

          3. Been There*

            I wrote about it downthread, but I had a very similar experience as a kid. Someone identified me as a boy and it just felt very, very wrong.

          4. Patty Mayonnaise*

            I also have a deeply held internal sense of my gender and I have a similar story! I was annoyed for 4 years by my student ID because someone could and often did read the person in the photo as male for various reasons (very short hair, sweaty face because it was extremely hot when the photo was taken and hair even flatter because of that, etc). I wasn’t annoyed enough to pay $25 to have it replaced with a new picture, but it definitely bothered me.

    11. Koala dreams*

      Well, a lot of people don’t have an innate sense of gender and don’t understand what it’s like to feel like a woman or a man. If you read older feminist literature, you can find many stories about how it feels to not have an innate sense of gender. You don’t see a lot of stories like that now, because it’s more common and more accepted than it used to be.

      Sometimes when you read stories, it’s about seeing your own experiences reflected. Sometimes, it’s about learning about the unfamiliar. It’s not necessary to understand everything.

    12. AGD*

      Vi Hart (they/she) has a video called “On Gender” where they talk about always having been baffled by so many other people having gender identities. Might be relevant and/or helpful.

    13. Lilo*

      My friend described the feeling as being akin to wearing something uncomfortable and once you can articulate what’s bothering you that you can’t stop noticing it. And then the relief you feel when it changes.

      Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone.

      I do remember when I was about 16 or 17 suddenly feeling more comfortable inside my body, like a lightswitch flipped after I stopped growing so much. Based on what my friend I think for people who are trans that switch doesn’t happen, maybe?

      1. TransAcademic*

        As a trans man, that switch did not flip when I got through puberty. In fact, it was the opposite. Trying to continue the “light going on” analogy for feeling more comfortable in one’s body, not only did puberty not flip the lightswitch and turn on a light for me, it turned off the circuit breaker and pulled the fuses out. It ratcheted up my discomfort with my body.

        1. allathian*

          I’m really hoping that the recent trans law change in Finland will help in cases like yours here. It used to be that to start transitioning, the first thing you had to do was to prove yourself to be irreversibly sterile. With the new law it’s possible for kids to get treatment to delay puberty until they’re old enough to make the final decision for themselves (at least with parental support), and once you’re an adult, changing your legal gender is a matter of informing the pertinent authority and paying a small fee. With parental support, you can change your legal gender at 16. They’ll give you a new social security number and after that you just have to apply for a new driving license, passport, etc.

          The new law is far from perfect, though, because there are no provisions for non-binary people.

    14. JSPA*

      My view, from a lifetime:

      Some people have an intense awareness of gender, as a concept, and a firm sense of what those genders are. Others don’t.

      Perhaps paradoxically, “feeling the wrong gender” is thus a stronger sensation for people who have a greater sense of gender essentialism.

      Time was, being trans was relatively unheard of in western society. People therefore had to be desperately, often suicidally gender dymorphic to even generate the idea of transitioning. Those who felt the strong urge to present differently, but were not gender- essentialist, became self-identified sissy boys or fairies; mannish women or stone butches; or some other intersection of orientation and ascribed-gender-incongruent style (without an actual reconsideration of gender). Many, of course, still do identify as any of the above, or a combination (including people who are also trans).

      Medical providers and laws are now recognizing that someone can feel far more joyous and “at home” in a gender other than their birth gender, despite not being suicidally- miserable in their assigned gender. Whether that’s because someone is less of a compartmentalizer of gender (more open to alternative presentations of gender) or simply less gender-aware, or not even particularly into gender as a concept, or philosophically-opposed to gender-essentialism and gender roles, or somewhere towards the non-binary zone…could be any or all of those.

      Nobody is required to feel gender aware, just as nobody is required to have a sense of rhythm, or be able to carry a tune, or know if someone’s coloration is more “winter, spring, summer or autumn.” Deaf people are not lesser, for not hearing. But a deaf person insisting that sound didn’t exist, would be in error, and would make themselves socially problematic.

      That’s the tack I take, when dealing with people who want me to agree with their pressing sense of gender: you’d as well ask a deaf person to compare Bach and Vivaldi. It’s also the same thing I tell people who want me to feel gender discordant, with my female-appearing chest and ass, in my nerd-appropriate cargo shorts and indy band T shirts. And the same principle I apply to decorating my own space (and not passing judgement on other people’s spaces): mine works for my perceptions, yours works for your perceptions, and that’s a fine thing.

    15. Person from the Resume*

      My friend told me when I said a similar thing that that could well mean my physical gender aligns with my gender identity so without no disconnect I don’t notice my gender identity as separate.

      I was very much bothered by the trans narrative of AFAB liking boy things means someone is trans because I am a woman who always liked “boy things” – played sports, like science, liked science fiction (in the early 80s before it was cool or popular with the masses) and disliked “girl things” – hated dancing/dance lessons, never wanted to wear dresses, dress up, play with dolls or Barbies, wasn’t maternal, didn’t like babies or baby sitting. I went into a “male” profession – computer science.

      My objection to this narrative is that these are STEREOTYPES and not inherently male or female characteristics and the problem was the cultural stereotypes and trying to force people into them and not my gender.

      With not liking stereotypically girl things, I still have no objection to being female. I don’t think I need to change. I never thought it made me a boy/man. I just think these stereotypes are BS and the world needs give up its stereotypes. And that’s where my friend pointed out if there’s no misalignment between my gender identity and how the world perceives me maybe I don’t really feel my identity as separate from physical body and to me therefore they are the same to me. It’s probably my more noticeable if they are misaligned.

      I’m a lesbian and one thing I like about being a lesbian is that there’s no gender stereotypes in the relationship. It can be equal, a give and take, a decision of who does what. And I don’t have to play the role of the woman/wife which doesn’t fit me.

      1. AGD*

        It bothers me too, but in my experience, it’s definitely not a narrative that trans people push. If anything, the idea that people want to transition on the basis of gender roles and/or homophobia (rather than gender identity, which is internal and deep) is something I usually see advanced by well-meaning but clueless cis writers.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          I am definitely not going to phrase this as articulately as I want to, but I feel like this is also why many cis women (I am also a cis woman) have trouble understanding the “I never felt like my assigned gender” narrative. So many of us spend a good deal of time dealing with rampant sexism and pushing back against cultural norms (“You can be a woman without wearing makeup! You can be a woman AND the CEO! You can be a woman who plays sports!”) that it becomes hard to disentangle arbitrary social norms from the experience of gender.

          I’m a fairly conventionally feminine presenting cis woman who feels comfortable with the way I’m perceived in society (if society were different, would I feel differently about that? Maybe!). I generally think most gender-associated social norms are nonsense, even if I adhere to many of them. But due to whatever confluence of social norms, physical characteristics, and brain processes leads us to feel gender, I *like* being a woman, and I *want* to be a woman, even when I’m flouting gender-based social norms, and even if I can’t precisely articulate what “woman-ness” is. From reading the comments upthread, I maybe feel this more strongly than some other people! But you have to be able to disentangle “woman-ness” from norms/behaviors like “wearing makeup” and “working a pink collar job” to understand why one AFAB person might be a butch-presenting woman while another is a feminine-presenting nonbinary person.

          1. AGD*

            Agreed! I am a moderately tomboyish cis woman. My assigned sex at birth feels right for me, and I get a lot of joy and harmony on the inside out of that. Don’t care for a lot of conventionally feminine things, bit that has zero effect on whether I feel like a woman. There’s no criterion for womanhood that works, except feeling like you fit into the set and it works for you.

      2. Clara*

        Here is the thing, what is gender or a man or woman beyond stereotypical cultural indicators? I definitely don’t want to use the dictionary definition of woman for example because it states an adult human female. Using that will get me yelled at for being transphobic. I get told a alot about what being a man or woman isn’t about but then what is it then?

        1. AGD*

          No single definition or criterion works for everyone who belongs to the set. It’s a matter of experiencing belongness or alignment to the idea of oneself as the same as all of those (very disparate kinds of) humans, bodies, minds in that set. The accusations of transphobia are probably because a LOT of those who get preoccupied with the supposed need to have a “definition of a woman” are trying really hard to find an excuse to exclude and/or otherwise be horrible to trans women.

    16. mreasy*

      I recommend reading “Whipping Girl” by Julia Serrano. It helped me understand more about gender dysphoria and that it’s not really comparable to anything most of us cis folks have been through.

    17. Smel*

      I am a cis woman. I hate gender roles and I hate the way I am sometimes seen and treated differently for being a woman. I often wear a binder and androgynous ot male clothes to work because I can’t stand the feeling of having my body evaluated as women’s bodies are. (My sister described this as wanting to be a “just-er-face”, lol.) When Natalie Wynn (trans philosopher on Youtube) said “I don’t FEEL like a woman. I don’t think anyone actually feels like a woman, except Shania Twain,” I felt that in my bones. I feel like a genderless blob and I think most people do.

      And yet…I listen mostly to female musicians. I read mostly female authors. I seek women out; I need them in my life. They are my people. I don’t know how to describe it or where that feeling lives, but that’s how I know, and I imagine there may be other women (regardless of birth sex) who feel the same. I want people to recognize me as being a part of The Crew (while trying to stay mostly invisible to misogynists).

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Oh my God yes this. I think we are different in some ways, similar in others, but that sense that women are my people & I want to be seen as part of The Crew? YES THAT.

            Otherwise I am a fairly standard butch woman – butch is like a “readymade”, socially available way of being a woman that really works for me & pulls all my bits together such that my sense of myself matches with a category others can recognise. I would probably have a slightly stronger alarm bell (“wrong, wrong, not me!”) if I had to be a femme type woman than if I had to be a man, but at the same time I am increasingly strongly identified as a woman as I get older (maybe because now I am an fat childless postmenopausal lesbian so I have escaped most of the stuff people put on “women”?)

            My hair grew out & I put on weight in the first year of Covid so my tailored clothes didn’t fit any more, and when I got a decent men’s haircut & some good dress shirts I was like: ahhh, there’s me again. I like it when people misgender me (it’s camp!) and my friends call me King Girl when they are proud of me. But none of that messes with my strong sense that I am a woman. (These days – I did think about transitioning in my teens.)

    18. OyHiOh*

      I am a cis woman. I commented above in this thread about the experience of wearing a stereotypical feminine outfit while having a completely shaved head, and how I felt a kind of joy over the confusion people experienced looking at me.

      I have always felt a vague sense of not belonging in my body, as if body and mind don’t completely connect, but this sense is not strong enough to be jarring in ordinary life, in the ways that I’ve fashioned a more or less comfortable existence. I did run headlong into the conflict between my mind and body when my oldest daughter was born. We didn’t know we were having a girl until she arrived on the scene: I took one look at her, turned to my husband and blurted “I don’t know how to raise a girl!” Thankfully, that collision of unease in my own self has made me a better parent, because I’ve allowed her to show me how she needs to be raised. She’s much more femme than I ever was as a child and it’s actually quite fascinating to watch her experience play out in contrast to what I remember of my own unease at the same age.

      I’ve arrived at some form of detente somewhere along the way. I wear clothes that don’t remind me that there’s a difference between the fabric and the body underneath (confusingly, usually form fitting femme styles) because it’s the movement of fabric that most often reminds me of the vague tension that exists.

    19. Been There*

      I’m AFAB. As a kid I was mistaken for a boy quite a few times. That misgendering hurt my feelings. Looking back on those experiences as an adult has made it quite clear to me that I identify as a woman.

    20. Smol Book Wizard*

      I don’t know if it’s the autism, because that apparently affects a lot of other feelings/experiences people expect from me (grief and sexual desire for two obvious ones), but while I am a woman and I like being a woman I also don’t really care about my social perception at all. If everyone decided to call me a boy suddenly I’m not sure that I would mind, as long as they didn’t give me trouble for doing whatever I liked; it happened several times in college when I had a short haircut and wore baggy clothes, and my main feeling was one of “oh, that will embarrass and discomfort them if they figure out I’m a girl” instead of any personal feeling. I’ve dressed up as a male character several times for cosplay and take any pronouns under those circs too.
      Being traditionally “feminine” ie decorating the house, cooking, wearing makeup, curating my presentation to be “pretty” as a habit – these all feel a bit like pretending to me, though, for what it’s worth. I also don’t like pink and am uncomfortable in pastels by and large. I wear lolita fashion (frilly fantastical taobao clothes) when I can but not “sweet,” and I would be equally happy in the male or female styles. Thankfully things are broad enough these days in their idea of gender presentation that nobody really minds my nature except very traditional folk.

      So I suppose the answer for me is “I like my biologically AFAB physicality and can tolerate enough of the social role to get by.”

  5. KoiFeeder*

    Uber etiquette question! How do I ask to not ride with a specific driver again without getting him in trouble? And is that even possible?

    I had an allergic reaction to something in his car, and he had a bottle of topical ointment sitting in his cupholder that is the likely culprit (I’m allergic to the active ingredient and likely a few of the inactives as well, and my allergic reaction was consistent with my allergic reaction to that active ingredient). That allergy is “sensitive,” so every trigger makes it a little worse. On the other hand, under no circumstances do I want him to be punished for taking medication.

    1. Kat*

      I don’t know if you can do that, maybe you could check her/his name and save it on the notes of your phone?

    2. JSPA*

      is there a way to request “scent free” in some way, or (better yet) name the allergen? after all, having a different driver doesn’t mean you can’t encounter the same problem. “Strong coconut allergy / need driver to have no coconut or coconut oil products or foods”?

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Because the allergen was being used medically and is somewhat controversial I am hesitant to name it outright.

        1. JSPA*

          but you’re not mentioning him! doesn’t matter who has the (eg) CBD oil, anymore than it matters who has the (eg) coconut oil; you can’t ride with it. And you’re not referencing past experiences, you are mentioning a newly diagnosed sensitivity, just as if you were gluten intolerant and notifying every restaurant. Nobody’s going to say, “I bet she rode with Bern, and had an allergic crisis, so we should fire Bern.”

          1. anonymous allergen accumulator*

            Agreed, you have a right to not be sick on a service you’re paying for. I’m also allergic to controversial substances and agree they should not be fired but I’m also not going to pretend it doesn’t make me sick or advocate for myself when needed. It’s really hard to deal with, especially when people gaslight you about your allergy…

    3. Deanna Troi*

      Any time I’ve ever taken Uber, which has been at about 10 different cities around the country, I’ve been given a choice of the available cars in the area and I get to select which one I want. I can see the names of the drivers. If you don’t have that option, you might try downloading a newer version of the Uber app. Good luck!

    4. it happens*

      How about savory? The Friendsgiving cookbook has a great squash, endive, and goat cheese tart that is very tasty and very pretty.

      1. tessa*

        The nesting fails on this site (my own included) are always good for a chuckle.

        But thanks for the cookbook recc. nonetheless. Sounds yummy.

    5. Observer*

      I think that the people who are saying that you should ask for “No X ingredient” are right.

      On the one hand, no matter how “controversial” the ingredient is, there is a good bet that at least one other driver uses it. Which means that asking to not have Joe Shmoe is not going to really protect you. On the other hand, the only way to not cause a problem for a driver is to not name them as someone you don’t want to drive with.

    6. More Coffee Please*

      I’m not familiar with any way to request not having a certain driver (I’ve also never seen the option to pick a car/driver ahead of time, as suggested by another commenter). That said, I’m curious if you’ve ever had the same driver more than once? I live in a medium-sized city and have taken dozens if not hundreds of Ubers (mostly to/from the airport for work trips), and I don’t think I’ve ever had the same driver twice. But I imagine this could be a bigger issue if you lived in a smaller city/town.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        This is the first time I can remember having this particular driver, but post-pandemic the pool is very small. I had thought that by now I knew them all already!

  6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Anybody have any favorite unusual pie recipes? I’m starting to plan the Thanksgiving Piestravaganza and I always like to have one or two new weird ones.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t have any recipe to share but I feel like most thanksgiving pie are fruit. MuySIL always brought a peanut butter pie.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      You could go retro, and do something like a mock apple pie (uses crackers instead of apples), vinegar pie or raisin pie. Or maybe a grasshopper pie (mint flavoured). There’s always Quebecois sugar pie.

      I’ve done ice cream pie – either a pastry or graham cracker crust, a layer of softened ice cream, then drizzled with a fruit sauce and/or caramel or chocolate sauce, and finely chopped nuts or sprinkles, and then put in the freezer to harden.

      1. Cure the FOMO*

        Chess pie isn’t as well known in all parts of the US (it’s pronounced “chezz” around here, like the beginning of “treasure”) – it may be the same as a sugar pie. That’s certainly the flavor.

        1. English Rose*

          He has some great pie recipes at Preppy Kitchen (preppykitchen dot com) including chess pie and peanut butter pie (which sounds disgusting to me but each to their own!). Just put pie in the seach terms.

      2. Miette*

        Raisin pie puts B. Dylan Hollis’ TikTok videos. If you haven’t seen them, I recommend them–they are a hoot. He likes many of the recipes, so you may see one that fits the bill.

    3. Hello sunshine*

      Not pie but crust. The americas test kitchen pie crust that calls for vodka. People who don’t like pie live that one.

    4. bratschegirl*

      We can’t have Thanksgiving without Joy of Cooking’s “Pumpkin Gelatin Chiffon Pie.” It’s got the traditional spices/flavors but it’s a much lighter, mousse-type texture. Not heavy at all. We always make it with graham cracker crust.

    5. Bluebell*

      Nantucket Cranberry Pie isn’t super weird, but certainly less common than the usual fruit pies. And the cranberry is on bottom with a cake- ish layer on top. It’s yummy.

        1. Bluebell*

          Nantucket cranberry pie has walnuts, but no crust. The recipe is on Epicurious. It first appeared in Home Cooking by the late Laurie Colwin.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Peanut butter pie is a favorite of mine.
      Butterscotch meringue pie.
      Shoofly pie, though I consider that breakfast.

    7. Aphrodite*

      I insist on pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving so naturally the discovery of black pepper pumpkin pie attracted me. And has kept me ever since.

    8. Chaordic One*

      One that I like and that is just a little bit different is Orange Meringue. (Very similar to Lemon Meringue.) There’s also a Lime Meringue (and it is different than Key Lime).

    9. Vio*

      Apparently meat pies aren’t common in the US? So those may count. Note that they are not intended as a pudding, they’re usually served with gravy and mashed potatoes. Peas and mushrooms go great with them too.
      So if you really want to make an impression with something unusual an English pie might work! There’s a good variety here https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/pie-recipes

    10. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

      Oh man, you’re playing my song! I habitually bake too many pies for Thanksgiving – one year we had nine people and five pies – and I love love love doing unusual ones to go alongside the mandatory pumpkin and apple. Here are some of the biggest hits I’ve made over the years:

      1. Microwave Butterscotch Meringue – if anyone wants the recipe, please hit me up. It’s insanely easy and nobody would *ever* guess it’s made in a microwave
      2. Lemon Angel Pie – it has a meringue crust and super light and fluffy lemon filling. I like the recipe from barefeet in the kitchen, and will be making it again this year at the request of a friend who must be gluten free
      3. Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie from King Arthur Baking Co – my go-to pecan pie. It’s got a maple base rather than a corn syrup one, and is bananapants delicious
      4. Caramel Cranberry Pecan Tart from Cooks Illustrated – honestly worth the accidental purchase of several months of access, definitely worth the free trial
      5. Nutmeg Maple Cream Pie from smitten kitchen – this honestly might be the best pie I’ve ever made and has become my mother’s requested birthday dessert for the last five years
      6. Cranberry Chiffon Pie from King Arthur Baking Company – my brother in law teasingly referred to this as the “Barbie Dream Pie” because of the color, but everyone agreed it was amazing

        1. one of the meg murrys*

          Agree with JSPA: Some Bunny, please give us the microwave butterscotch meringue pie recipe!

      1. fposte*

        Holy crap. I’m not usually a pie person but I love a flight of *anything* and these sound amazing.

    11. JSPA*

      not really pie, but I recently had an excellent thin, pie-type cheesecake with an almost chewy (pre-baked?) red currant layer between crust and filling, and raspberry-strawberry coulis layer on top. Similar creamy-tart balance as key lime, but with red fruits.

    12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      The Kitchn just published a recipe for green tomato pie that tastes similar to apple pie. It’s on my to-make list for this weekend since the tomato plants are done for the year.

    13. PhyllisB*

      I’ll have to go look it up, but a Water Pie might fit the bill. It’s an old recipe from back in the days when people had to “make do” with what they had. If you’ve interested, I’ll check it and report back.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Also, not pie, but one year my husband made a pumpkin cheesecake that was outstanding!! (I hate pumpkin pie, but I like it in other things.) The recipe he used was Paula Deen’s, but I’m sure there are plenty of recipes around. Just try to make it 24 hours in advance, it’s much better the next day.

    14. beep beep*

      For some reason whenever I hear people talk about chocolate pie they’re talking about pudding pie- which I really actually dislike. I like a good fudgy pie, like Southern Food And Fun’s Fudge Pie with Cocoa. Super easy to make and delicious, though very rich :)

    15. Mary S*

      Amish sugar cream pie, tar heel pie, Mexican-style pineapple pie (Mexico in my Kitchen). Thanksgiving Piestravaganza sounds amazing!

    16. Charlotte Lucas*

      Corn pie! It’s a lesser-known Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, & delicious! It isn’t a dessert pie. Definitely a side with dinner & part of all my grandmother’s holiday dinners.

    17. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Thank you all! There are a lot of amazing options here that I will have trouble picking from.

    18. Pool Lounger*

      Butterscotch pie with curry crust from Bon Appetit! I’ve made it 3-4x and it always gets raves and there are never leftovers.

    19. Dicey Tillerman*

      The Italian side of my family makes a recipe for ricotta rice pie. And, not a pie, but we also make hamburger stuffing, which is basically ground beef and mashed potatoes and some spices, baked in a casserole dish. Everyone fights over the crispy edges.

    20. LemonLyman*

      Avocado pie!

      Avocados, sweetened condensed milk, and some lime. Google will be your friend for a good recipe but they’re all pretty similar.

    21. slowingaging*

      Kind of a pie. Baked Puff pastry mini cups, fresh chopped peaches with raw sugar, Homemade lime whipped cream.

    22. Random Biter*

      I actually do have my grandmother’s mincemeat recipe. I never even knew this pie had actual meat in it until I was grown. I also have a recipe for Wisconsin Harvest pie. Loads of fruit in this one. If you’d be interested in either I can post but I have to warn you, the mincemeat recipe is a typical grandma recipe, measurements are kind of by guess and by golly and because Grandma canned everything you’d need to scale it down a bit.

    1. HannahS*

      Sugar pumpkin roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Or butter.

      From canned pumpkin, I LOVE Stella Parks’ pumpkin bread. It’s a yeasted sandwich loaf with pumpkin in it and its spectacularly good.

      1. JSPA*

        if it’s a dense, sweetish pumpkin:

        roast pumpkin (cream cheese or else olive oil) habanero pasta sauce.

        roast pumpkin, ground coriander and nutmeg and roasted red peppers, substituting much of the bechamel in a mushroom lasagna. If you add wine, you can leave out the tomato.

        (sake)-miso-roasted pumpkin, with sesame oil, serve warm with sushi rice and nori.

        near-caramelized roast rosemary and olive oil (+/- smoked salt or smoked paprika) pumpkin as a sandwich spread (with arugula, and/or with cheddar or shaved parmesan or gruyère, and/or paté & mustard).

        these all demand a dense, non-stringy pumpkin or squash, ideally with natural sweetness (cinderella pumpkin eg or use butternut or hubbard squash).

        I don’t know what to do with the stringier sorts, except small cubes simmered in green thai curry.

    2. Pentapus*

      pumpkin tempura, but the tempura batter made with chickpea flour, not wheat flour. you actually don’t want the pumpkin super thin, but 2 or 3 mm is fine. chickpea flour is very filling, lots of fibre and protein.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Pumpkin gnocchi, topped with melted butter, sage and toasted breadcrumbs (and some grated smokey cheese – smoked ricotta works the best but it might be very hard to find where you are).

    4. Crop Tiger*

      Pie pumpkin stuffed with a ground meat and wild rice mixture. Slice it into wedges and you get pumpkin and meatloaf.

      1. Girasol*

        Me too on the soup, though I use eating pumpkins (not jack-o-lantern ones) or squash from the garden. My favorites are the pumpkin and coconut milk curry soups.

      2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        We make a Caribbean-esque pumpkin black bean soup with lime & coco milk. Very easy and good!

    5. fposte*

      I like pumpkin fine in many things, but the best pumpkin dish I’ve ever had is Kaddo Bourani, an Afghan dish where pumpkin is baked with sugar and cinnamon and then drizzled with yogurt and spicy ground beef. It is just mindblowing.

      On a related note, does anybody else remember the long-running Helmand restaurant in Chicago (which is where I first ate this)? I just found out it had been run by the half-brother of the president of Afghanistan, and the owner returned to politics in Afghanistan after closing the restaurant and was assassinated there. Yikes.

      1. JSPA*

        I can’t begin to formulate a coherent response, except how easy it is for partisanship to wipe out not only people but culture and cultures, once people on “the other side” become expendable.

        1. fposte*

          That was kind of my response. It was weird to think that I was vaguely acquainted with somebody who got assassinated.

          I’m not sure which side he would go on. It doesn’t sound like he was necessarily operating for the good of the people–apparently he was involved in the opium trade and on the CIA payroll. But what can I say, the pumpkin thing was a hell of a dish.

          1. JSPA*

            Yeah, that’s the response barrier.

            Not to Godwin the page, but there have been political figures- – also, at one point, duly elected- – whom I would not shed a retroactive tear over, if I learned they made, say, excellent schnitzel.

            So that leaves “small world,” which feels inadequate.

            it’s more comforting when a figure is pre-labeled as “rightful ruler in exile” or “ex-despot in exile” though of course, those could be the same individual, depending on one’s point of view.

            1. fposte*

              And fortunately for my ethics he didn’t invent the dish, just owned the place where I first met it. So I can cook it without complicity.

    6. Pool Lounger*

      Pumpkin orzo with sage from Serious Eats. I’ve added smoked turkey and kale to up the substantialness and it was amazing.

    7. 00ff00Claire*

      Chicken Bacon Pumpkin Pasta Bake from Pinch of Yum – you can also replace her homemade sauce with a jar of store-bought pumpkin pasta sauce such as Trader Joe’s Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce.

      Pumpkin hummus. Can be made both with and without chickpeas.

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

      My partner is Czech and was just telling me the other day that when he was little his grandparents used to shred/grate green pumpkin (I think he means Kabocha) and cook it “as cabbage”, which I think probably means it involved caraway seeds and vinegar. Anyway, he said it was delicious. I tried googling for some useful recipes, but came up empty-handed, so will press him for more details later and update if I can!

  7. Unemployed in Greenland.*

    I’m debating whether to get my very! first! car! at the ripe old age of 40. Does anyone have any advice on where to even start? I’m not looking for anything super new or shiny; rather, just something reliable to get me to relatives a few states over, and to places where I can hike.

    1. VI Guy*

      How often do you do those things? Friends of mine use a car sharing service and it is much better financially. Rentals are also an option. It of course depends if you have that option!

          1. Dancing Otter*

            I know it’s a typo, but I just visualized a small car with cat ears, face, etc. The front bumper is shaped like paws. The tail is deterring tailgaters.

          2. CharlieBrown*

            I second this. I didn’t even know they existed before I bought this one used. They are economical to maintain and get decent gas mileage. I just turned over 100k miles and my service manager says if I keep up with maintenance, 250k is not out of the question.

          3. *daha**

            There has been a nationwide pattern of Kia and Hyundai thefts. It’s a combination of a particular vulnerability of the key-turn starting (not a problem with push-to-start technology) and a TikTok challenge. If you use a regular key in a keyhole to start it, you should at least use a “club” type steering wheel immobilizer with it.

              1. *daha**

                They aren’t mandatory in the US, but Kia & Hyundai have said they will include them in all their vehicles in the US in the future.

          4. Clisby*

            We’ve had two Kia Souls. We passed the 2012 on to our grad-school daughter and we’re still driving the 2016.

            Now, if any of us had to routinely spend a lot of time in the car, we likely would have picked something different. (My brother is in sales and has to be on the road an awful lot of the time. I’d rather have something more substantial than a KS for that.) As it is, we both live in small cities (my daughter in Gainesville, FL and my husband and I in Charleston, SC) and we just don’t have to do a lot of driving under ordinary circumstances. I will say, we took my daughter’s Kia out to New Mexico and back this summer, and it performed like a champ. No problems.

    2. Blomma*

      I started by subscribing to Consumer Reports and reading about safety ratings. Then I went to a bunch of different dealerships and test drove a variety of makes/models. Once I knew what model I wanted, I searched sales listings for it.

    3. mreasy*

      I loved carvana, mostly because going to dealerships in NYC area is super inconvenient & I didn’t want to deal with haggling. I chose the most important feature to me (small), and read reviews about how the car drives & handles, etc., before buying. I bought a used 2018 because I didn’t want to deal with maintenance with anything too much older. I will say that having a car has been such a life improver – even if I only drive it once or twice a week.

      1. Rose*

        I too am in NYC and recently got a car (purchased when I was out of state for a few months). I keep it in a garage, which is expensive as hell, and I don’t use it that often – so definitely a luxury, not a need – but it is a total game changer, and I love having one. Not going to lie, I also like the security of knowing I have a way to get out of Dodge if god forbid something happens (another pandemic, 9/11, etc)

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      My first (and only!) car was a 2005 Mazda 3. Loved it – easy to drive, easy to park, sporty enough but not TOO sporty, and I could load a bike in the back no problem (or cats, or Costco shopping, etc). Sold it on in 2013 – would probably buy another when I need to buy a car next.

      Picked that one as I had done the research with consumer reports and the like and that was a top car, along with the usual Toyotas, etc.

    5. All the Birds*

      If you can find a used Subaru, you’ll have a solid vehicle to last for years.

      I have a hatchback Impreza, which is a small 4-seater with lots of pep.

      1. OtterB*

        We’ve had good luck with Toyotas in general. We bought a used Corolla for my daughter 10 years ago. It’s a 2006 and still going strong. She does have a good mechanic, who will tell her what needs to be fixed and what can wait, so that helps. I’m driving a 2010 Prius we bought used. My husband has a 2018 Corolla we bought new, replacing a hybrid Camry we’d had for years.

        When buying used I lean toward the certified used cars because I had more faith in them. Before we bought my daughter’s car we’d always bought new.

      2. just another queer reader*

        I have a 12-year-old Toyota Corolla and it’s delightful. I hope it lasts me forever. It fits much more stuff in the trunk than you’d think; it’s reliable (about $500/year in random maintenance, plus oil changes); small enough to fit into compact parking spaces.
        Only downside is that it’s a little difficult to fit a bike in. You have to disassemble it.

      3. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Have had both a Camry and Corolla and would recommend either. My current work car is a ’13 Corolla with entirely too many miles on it – but it gets 33 mpg highway and so far has been extremely reliable mechanically.

        Now if I can just get that noisy shroud fixed…

    6. Seal*

      I’ve had my Honda Civic for 15 years and it’s still going strong. The back seats fold down so I can transport my bike or other large items. I’m told Civics last forever so I’m good for at least a few more years.

      Before that I had a Subaru station wagon (forgot the model) that I liked quite a bit. It had AWD, so I never got stuck in the snow. However, it was a stick shift and once the clutch started to go I got my Civic. I’d still consider a Subaru if and when I had to get a new car.

      1. EJ*

        we love our hybrid Toyota corolla, over 3 years of driving it and we have gotten 61.2 mpg lifetime!

    7. *daha**

      It is a horrible difficult time to buy a car, used or new. Stock and selection are quite low, prices are high. Buy a Consumer Reports online membership and read both the reviews and reliability ratings for anything you find interesting. KBB is a good source for pricing. Find a mechanic and work out that you can bring in a car that you’re interested in for inspection on short notice, and arrange a price. Anybody who won’t allow you to have an independent inspection isn’t worth dealing with. Some sellers will want to take the car to your mechanic themselves, instead of handing the keys to you, and that’s fine, as long as it is the mechanic you chose.

    8. ShinyPenny*

      My Mom (a librarian) taught us that going to the library is the very first step– back when we’d go in and check out the actual magazines, lol.
      These days you can see the Consumer Reports databases online from home, if you have your library card number. So, check out their car ratings first.
      Then, look at the vehicle ratings by IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). (There’s a decent article in the 2-27-2021 Car And Driver magazine that explains their testing.)

      Pick out some models that rate well and fit your priorities, and you are ready for some test drives at a dealership (not that you have to buy from them, but it’s an efficient way to drive different cars quickly.) I take a friend, and I’m always prepared to walk away if a salesperson is rude or pushy.
      Lastly, when you think you’ve found The One, if it’s a used car, consider paying to have an independent mechanic do an inspection before buying. (Ask friends with cars for mechanic recommendations, and investigate how this works early in the game.) This might cost $100 or more, but it can seriouly save you thousands.
      Good luck!

    9. Wink the Book*

      My only purchasing advice is sit in the car and take it for a drive and pay attention to what your back says. I have problems with the economy models of Honda’s, Kias, and mid-range Chrysler’s.

      Otherwise, if you are owning a car for the first time, here are a few tips to keep things going.

      1. Get your car serviced every six months or the amount of miles/oil life percentage noted in your manual. Which ever comes first. Do not mess around with that. If you keep that schedule, the car will last a lot longer.

      2. If your alternator goes out, just get a new battery immediately. It will save you a panic attack three weeks later when your car won’t start.

      2b. If you have a non-hybrid/non-electric car, the battery life is 5 years. Just plan for it ahead of time, it will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

      3. If you live in a place where there is winter/salt on the roads, find a place that does a decent undercoat wash. It will help keep your rotors from rusting, which helps extend brake life.

      4. Get a sunshade for your front windshield. Not mandatory, but it is useful. Also useful to have in your car: jumper cables, a basic tire gage, a window breaker, a blanket, extra socks, some rags, and a hoodie. Depending on your climate, also have some water, a show shovel, hand warmers, gloves, and sunblock on hand.

      5. Defo have some kind of roadside assistance service. The basic AAA option has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

      6. MAKE SURE your car has a spare tire. Not all cars come with them standard these days. It is a good idea to know the status before you take any trips.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        YES on the back thing. I rented cars for a while before driving them & bought the model that didn’t scrunch me.

    10. Sam I Am*

      rent a few cars for day trips, you’ll find a few “definitely/ definitely not-s” when you do.

  8. Cure the FOMO*

    I feel like I learned in grade school that not everyone in a group needs to do everything together all the time. I prefer smaller groups for socializing, and I generally would prefer to be 1:1 so I can really concentrate on what someone is saying and – I dunno, feel connected with them, I guess. This can also happen in groups of three, maybe four at most but I feel like any bigger than that, I’m just bouncing around like an electron not really making meaningful connections. However, I’m good friends now with someone who definitely feels entitled to know all my social activities, and if they find out I went out with someone they know, even somewhat distantly, they are definitely hurt that I didn’t include them (even when it was the other person’s dinner party that I was invited to, why didn’t I try to jam them in too??). To be fair, they are very inclusive of me with their own invitations, and I do appreciate it when it works out and I see them a lot. In fact, I am already seeing them so much that it comes as a relief when I do something with anybody else sometimes. How can I kindly explain this without hurting their feelings? What do I say when they “catch me” planning to go out with someone they know without inviting them?

    1. Cure the FOMO*

      Sidenote – You’ll have to believe me when I say that, when circumstances cause me to be the one who is excluded, I really do accept it gracefully, don’t get bent out of shape about it, and don’t push the issue!! Like I said, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a bit less of this friend!!

    2. WellRed*

      This is on them, not you. I sympathize to an extent, but am coming to terms in my elder years that exclusions aren’t about me (even when I ocassionly think, “ well darn.”)

    3. Anonymouse*

      I cannot recommend Captain Awkward strongly enough. Search “geek social fallacies” – changed my life.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, came here to say precisely that. Captain Awkward is my second favourite advice column. After Alison, of course.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      This is entirely their problem, but my first thought was in Arrested Development when GOB and his wife are arguing and he says something like “I don’t wear everything I like all the time!” because she thinks he doesn’t like the sweater she gave him. Maybe like… a pleasant, mature version of that would work? “Of course I like hanging out with you, but I also enjoy time with other people/groups. Please trust that I’m still your friend even when I’m spending time with (other person). I find my friendships most enjoyable when I can alternate individual and group get-togethers” or something.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I actually think this isn’t something you need to solve, just to continue doing things your own way. Perhaps you might just say, “I don’t think being friends means doing everything together all the time. Sometimes I enjoy things with you, and sometimes I like to do things with other people.”

      She’s allowed to have her own feelings about it, and she may back off from the friendship as a result. But that actually sounds like a good thing, right?

    6. Anons*

      I realize it might be unpleasant, but the best way to solve this would be to have a conversation about it. Assuming you do see them one on one a lot, that’d be a great place to start about how you value those sorts of interactions.

      It’s important to note that as far as I can tell, your friend isn’t doing anything wrong: you both just have different ways of interacting with people.

      1. Despachito*

        I’d not say the friend is not doing anything wrong – ” definitely feels entitled to know all my social activities, and if they find out I went out with someone they know, even somewhat distantly, they are definitely hurt that I didn’t include them” – this seems awfully clingey and exhausting. I would not want to be friends with someone like that who is so needy and not graceful.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yeah, I’d say the friend is at fault here. It’s fine to prefer big group socializing, and to invite everyone you know when you organize or host an event. It’s not fine to insist that everyone else socialize the same way. If Cure the FOMO responded to an invitation to a big group party by complaining and sulking and demanding the friend turn it into an intimate three person evening, she’d also be at fault.

          Getting annoyed because someone didn’t invite you along to an event that wasn’t hosted by them and you weren’t invited to? That’s just plain rude.

          I like RagingADHD’s wording – it’s simple and to the point. You can’t guarantee that the friend won’t be upset to hear it, but at that point, it’s her problem to deal with, not yours. (Also, it’s totally fine if you want to turn down an invitation from her because you don’t feel like a giant group, or have seen too much of her recently).

        2. Anons*

          It might be a bit much for OP, but in some groups of friends this would be a minor thing. The friend might be needy, but doesn’t seem to be that much of a jerk about it, and some people are needier than others, and fit better with others, and that’s okay.

          1. Observer*

            I have to disagree. The entitlement is over the top. So is the bit about expecting to be included in events that are not even started by @Cure the FOMO.

            I’m not saying that there are no groups where this is considered acceptable behavior, but I do not believe that this would be “no biggie” in any group composed of reasonably functional adults.

    7. Not A Manager*

      “Dinner was just me and Friend this time, but if you want to see Friend, why don’t you call them up and make plans?”

    8. JSPA*

      “Friend, much as I enjoy our time together, this level of ownership would be awkward and a red flag even in a romantic relationship. I wanted to call out that dynamic to clear the air, so that it doesn’t slowly choke our friendship.”

      “Friend, you’ve recently implied that you should be my ‘plus one’ for other people’s parties. That’s hecka awkward. Do you feel we have some sort of quasi-romantic committed relationship that I don’t know about?”

      “Let me stop you there, a moment. Look: adult friendships don’t work like student life, with ‘everyone who knows everyone in the dorm going on a late-night pizza run.’ As adults, it’s not reasonable or cool for one friend to track another friend’s social life or pile in on their other friendships. I’ve been noticing a bit of that, so I wanted to flag it, before it gets awkward.”

      “What a strange question!”

      “Friend, when I hang out with you, I don’t clear it with Jan and Soo, or ask them to weigh in. Why are you involving yourself in my plans with them?”

      “Friend, you seem super curious about my other friendships. What are you hoping to learn?”

      “friend, if you want an open invitation to a group of friends, maybe join or start a club? ‘Take me too’ works when you’re 14 and hoping for a ride to the mall; it’s not a way to get invited to someone’s dinner party.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OR “Friend, none of my other friends ask me this kind of thing. What’s up?”

        I can’t decide if this feels creepy or feels like grammar school. Either way, I would have to explain that this is just not doable for me. I can’t bring one person everywhere I go nor can I explain everything I am doing with people during the course of my day. It’s just not something I am up for.

    9. allathian*

      You can only say your truth. If your friend gets bent out of shape because you don’t always invite them to everything, that’s their problem. Maybe put this person in the “acquaintances” list on your social media, if they don’t know about all of your plans, they can’t ask to be included.

  9. Anonymouse*

    Hello! Looking for personal daintiness tips from curvaceous denizens of the Mid Atlantic. I’m newish here and this humidity makes me … ugh. I don’t think I should REEK after 45 minutes on public transit. I am liberal with the deodorant but afraid I’m missing something.

    1. WellRed*

      Do you need a deodorant upgrade? Lighter more breathable clothes? Do you really smell as strongly to others as you think?

      1. Anonymouse*

        I try to wear cotton outdoors and don’t think my pits stink. No one has said anything. It’s more my own concerns of Secret Swamp Ass :/ it’s so humid here

        1. Not Victoria, Not Secret*

          I switched to women’s boxer short style undies when the weather got sticky. Might seem counter-intuitive because it’s more fabric, but they eliminated the dreaded secret swamp ass.

    2. HannahS*

      As a sweaty person whose ancestors were either from hot dry places or miserably cold places I find that I need the following:
      -antiperspirant, not deodorant, and in times of desperation I have applied it not just to my underarms but also in a line down my back and on my feet
      -no polyester, it makes me stink and I don’t know why, even in very small amounts
      -nylon and viscose/rayon make me sweaty but still work better for me than polyester
      -excessive complaining–doesn’t help but makes me feel better lol
      -make sure your clothes are getting clean. Sniff the parts of your clothes that get sweaty. If there’s faint BO or even deodorant smell, then there’s residue that will be reactivated when it gets sweaty again and it stinks faster

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Soaking clothing in a mix of vinegar and water before washing can help with baked in odours, particularly shirts and underwear. If you hang dry clothing, make sure it’s actually drying before it gets musty smelling.

        A bidet can help; if you don’t have that a quick shower rinse off after going to the washroom at home, or a really thorough wipe down elsewhere (If you use wet wipes, however, don’t flush them because they mess up the plumbing system). At certain points in your menstrual cycle, a panty liner when you’re travelling to to work in the heat, to prevent sweating through your underwear and spreading, shall we say, personal odours.

        If you’re re-applying deodorant during the day, wipe out your pits with alcohol based hand sanitizer, then reapply – that kills any stinky bacteria residue before you re-apply. I find that deodorant is the important part – I haven’t met an antiperspirant that will keep me dry when it’s 36 C, 90% humidity, and I’m walking outside.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Cornstarch baby powder, liberally applied.

      Antiperspirant under the bra line and (if relevant) in the thigh-chafing zone.

      Woven cotton or linen can be cooler than knit, because it doesn’t cling.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Instead of cornstarch baby powder, just buy cornstarch from the baking section of your grocery store. I like Argo brand cornstarch in the 16 ounce plastic container and I just open the lid and apply the cornstarch powder with a powder puff. (Sometimes finding powder puffs can be hard.)

        Antiperspirant instead of deodorant; deodorant bath soap, shower gel or bodywash; cotton and linen (maybe very light wool in some circumstances.)

    4. Inkhorn*

      Try applying the deodorant well in advance, so that it’s absolutely bone dry before you step outside. I noticed a big difference when I started using it before going to bed (after showering) rather than in the morning.

    5. Helvetica*

      If you feel generally sweaty, but not smelly – armpit guards/pads!
      I can get quite a sheen, especially in humid weather and those protect my clothes and also make me feel much drier, And since you can and should change them after every wear, your clothes do last longer.

    6. JSPA*

      carry a few paper towels to blot rather than wipe the various clefts and cracks.

      Wash underwear more frequently, hotter, longer, with pre-wash. Save energy and water somewhere else; crotch-rot or underbust yeast infections are no joke. Occasionally, do same with your other clothing. Especially in warm weather, don’t let clothing stay wadded-up damp before washing, as dampness plus sweat plus skin residue is a microbial feast, even if you’re not in the clothes. Hang or rinse and hang, awaiting washing. I had to start counting “overnight” as if I’d been wearing the clothes the whole time, such that “socks worn for an hour between bath and bed” still meant “athlete’s foot, if worn again the next day.”

      Wet wipes (don’t flush them!) so there’s near-zero residue to mix with the sweat.

      Unscented anti-perspirant, not more layers, but perhaps a wider area.

      On your commute, don’t pass up a chance to stand near dry blowing air; conversely, avoid steam vents.

      Fan yourself broadly. It’s bizarre looking to fan just your crotch or pits, of course, but if you’re fanning your whole self vigorously and leaning into it, many parts benefit.

    7. mreasy*

      It sounds like a deodorant or other fragrance reaction, because even if you’re sweaty, a clean body shouldn’t stink. I found that my body reacts terribly with the tea tree oil found in a lot of natural deodorants, so I kinda just did troubleshooting until I found one that works. (Unfortunately the deodorant that keeps me smelling not just okay but good regardless of sweat & temp is ridiculously expensive.)

    8. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I’ve been wanting to confess for some time that I use a crystal deodorant on what I call my “leg pits.” I realize anonymous is talking about armpit odor but I wanted to share this!

      I noticed that I got an odor there and I tried cleaning very thoroughly and vigorously only to have to odor pop up an hour after showering. Now I just clean normally and use a crystal deodorant at the top of my thighs where they meet my body. No more odor.

    9. anxiousGrad*

      One thing that helps is to put the deodorant on not just the armpit but also the inside of the shoulder, so like just kind of expand the deodorant area towards your chest. Just make sure to do this after putting on a bra if you wear one and to wait a couple of minutes before putting on a shirt so it doesn’t smear on them. Also, deodorant doesn’t really work if you put it on when wet, so wait a few minutes after getting out of the shower before putting it on. Anti-perspirants with 20% aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex are also helpful, although I tend to find them irritating. but Secret Clinical Strength has some soothing ingredient in there in addition to the aluminum, so it doesn’t bother me. My last note is that if the way your sweat smells has changed significantly, you may want to tell your doctor because it can signal a hormonal shift or a vitamin deficiency.

    10. Generic+Name*

      Are you using a deodorant only? If so, switch to deodorant plus antiperspirant. If you’re already using antiperspirant, switch to one with more active ingredient or a different brand. I wore secret for years and I switched to lady speed stick because I felt too sweaty using secret.

    11. PsychNurse*

      The drugstores sell disposable cleansing wipes— similar to the makeup-remover sheets, but designed to use on your body for a quick refresh. Not great for the environment, I admit. But when I was pregnant, I lived in a hot place, and was walking/taking the subway everywhere. I did not feel my best! So I kept a package of those in my purse and when I arrived at my destination I would pop into the restroom and do a quick wipe-down.

    12. djc*

      Haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve heard good things about Lume. It can be applied to your underarms and different parts of your body. One of the commercials talks about applying it to your butt crack!

      1. Lindsay*

        Cotton, light-colored clothes, men’s deodorant works better for me than women’s (and gel), wet wipes to remove sweat, cotton underwear (like 100 percent), anti-chafing stick and baby powder as needed

      2. Convert*

        I have been very impressed with how well their products manage odor. Their deodorant goes not reduce sweating at all, but really takes care of the aroma. I’ve switched to using their body wash, too, which upgrades scent control another notch.

    13. MCL*

      I have extremely sweaty pits (which have calmed down a bit with age but were terrible in my teens and twenties). I got prescription strength anti-perspirant and that stuff will shut off the armpit taps. In case it’s helpful you can check with your doctor.

    14. Joie De Vivre*

      I’m not a curvy woman- but I sweat a lot when I get hot.

      One thing that has helped me is the Buck Naked underwear from Duluth.

      For the funk that sticks to clothing- I use Mrs Meyers Baby Blossom laundry detergent and air dry my clothes. The Baby Blossom gets the nasty funk out of my running clothes.

    15. The OG Sleepless*

      The summers are long, hot, and humid where I live. My newest discovery is clothing that is made for hiking/outdoor activity but doesn’t look like it. Title Nine and Columbia have a few shirts that look good enough for casual office type wear. Fairly expensive but I only have a few of them.

      1. JSPA*

        Oh, good point! Quick-dry fishing and travel shirts, too. Some weeks I live in ExOfficio (specifically, men’s styles for extra breeziness). I suspect they put a lot of teflon-like grossness into the environment, because of how everything-proof they are, and they’re indeed not the cheapest, but they do work.

    16. Esmeralda*

      Sticky or wet does not equal stinky.

      Deodorant alone will not help with wetness.

      Looser clothing, more open weaves, sleeveless shorts or blouses, cotton or linen (if you don’t mind wrinkles). Bring a clean shirt (or have some at your office) plus wet wipes and clean and change at work.

      I grew up in a very dry climate, have lived in the southeast for almost 30 years.

    17. NotARaccoonKeeper*

      I won’t speak to sweatiness, but for smell, here’s my experience/tip.

      I used to use clinical strength deodorant and antiperspirant, but I hated how I could never get the product out of the pits of my tops. Then, after a few more wears, the product would retain my sweat smell, and my shirt would have my stank straight out of the wash. I tried downgrading to just commercial deodorant, and found it was overall better, since it left less product in my clothes, but I was still smelly if I even thought about being warm enough to sweat. Now I know there’s ways to get residual deodorant out, but I didn’t then.

      Then, just as I got to wondering if deodorant is a scam run out of Proctor and Gamble (jury is still out! /s) I remembered my microbiology prof explaining that it’s not our sweat that smells like BO, but the bacteria on our skin, feeding on compounds in the sweat. I decided to try manually getting rid of the bacteria instead of just adding more product on top of them, and started exfoliating my pits with a glove (and soap, not body wash) every shower. It has been literally life changing! I almost never have smelly pits anymore, and only use a natural handmade deodorant when it’s warm, or I’m particularly stressed. I also have a commercial deodorant for fancy occasions, but like 4-6x per year. This has also worked for a number of friends who now exfoliate too, though most still wear their deodorant and just don’t smell bad.

      Sidenote: If you rolled your eyes at my conspiracy theory, but are also curious about the social construction of cleanliness and the products we are told to use to achieve it, I really recommend the book Clean, by James Hamblin.

    1. Fellow Traveller*

      Still Standing! Canadian comedian visits small towns, talks to the inhabitants and then makes a standup routine based on the people he meets. It’s sweet and heartfelt and really eye opening.

      1. fposte*

        I love Still Standing! I think I still have a few unwatched episodes in fact, so thanks for reminding me. He’s incredibly clever about working in just the right amount of teasing about things the community will recognize and applaud, and he has a great Innocent Abroad style of exploring a community.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      I think I mentioned Doc Martin last week, which is very cozy.

      Also, if you’re into kids’ shows, both seasons of Lockie Leonard (Aussie show based on series of kids’ books) is on there and is very good. It’s more a family show than a kids’ show, I think.

      Honestly, I watch Tubi for a lot of the old horror films (1930s-40s) and a lot of B science fiction films from the 1950s and 60s. They also have a fairly good selection of international films, and for some odd reason, a lot of documentaries about people who are into Bigfoot, which I find interesting for psychological reasons, not biological ones.

  10. Squidhead's cat needs meds*

    Hi, cat-having friends! One of our cats needs a medication daily. It will probably be an injection (still working out some details with the vet). We need to be out of town for a few days while the med is needed. We have friends who normally feed our cats and get the mail, & we do the same for them. But I’m not sure they would be able to give the medicine. Another sorta-friend has more experience with this and we might ask her to come over once a day to give the med. She lives near us, so travel isn’t a big consideration. What would you expect to pay someone for this? Definitely planning to pay, but not sure what is reasonable to offer! Also, would your answer change if it was an oral med versus an injection?

    1. Aphrodite*

      I’d pay a vet tech to do the sitting this time, especially if it’s an injection. Unless your regular sitters are familiar with giving meds to cats it’s best to use a professional. It can get very ugly otherwise. (For a humorous take on it, google “How to give a cat a pill.”)

        1. Sister George Michael*

          I agree with $50. I live in a big city, and the cost of having someone drop in to visit or walk a pet is around $30. I would pay more because it’s a big favor to ask.

    2. JSPA*

      I find that more sitters do injections than pills. maybe not for slow large amounts (like for hydration), but in general, grab-and-stick is more doable, at less risk, than “past the fangs.”

      Pet sitting companies have charged us an extra $15-$25 per visit (or even per-visit-per-med) for med administration. (that’s N=2 for geographic location).

      I wish i’d paid extra, last time, to have the pet sitter come in advance and see the process. We were not at all on the same page, and it was a nightmare.

      Seconding vet tech, or an experienced rescue fosterer. Cats have so many ways to avoid opening their mouths, then there’s : block the pilling tube! whip their head around! hide the pill under their tongue then dump it! or even, slam down dry food, gulp water, and bring it all back up!

      1. JSPA*

        That said, injection done wrong (or meds contaminated) can mean, “dead cat.” Even / especially with a friend, see them do it, don’t take their word that they know what they’re doing.

        Sometimes pets die when you’re gone; you don’t want to also lose a friendship, wondering if they did something wrong, and have to beat yourself up for not pre-planning better.

    3. TPS reporter*

      Oral meds can be hidden in enough treat cover to be eaten without the cat noticing. I’m having success with one of my cats now. the sitter we regularly use give the meds under her standard $20/visit for 15 minute rate. if it takes longer than it’s higher. but as everyone is saying you have to be sure of the method of administration. I provided super detailed instructions.

      1. JSPA*

        the treat trick is both cat-dependent (some won’t) and pill dependent (some can’t be given with food). I have one that, if they notice a pill in a glob of wet food, will not eat that same food (even if there’s no other alternative) for the next 6 months to a year. As weight loss and food allergies are also in play, it’s piller tube or fingers. But if a cat happens to be cool with it, it’s much the easiest.

    4. tessa*

      I would board your kitty at the vet. clinic if you can to ensure proper injection. It’s worth the extra money if you can swing it, as is the peace of mind.

  11. Late Learner*

    Looking for any insight people have about searching for a driving school. I am in my 40s and never got my license, but I’d like to have it for emergencies. I have no access to a car, so definitely need a driving school. Anyone learn later in life and do the same? What should I ask about when looking for a good school – standards, course length, specifics of the course? What’s a reasonable cost? Anything else I should ask or know? I learned a long time ago from a parent, and they were not a great teacher…but this has now become more important to me. (If it’s relevant, I’m in Canada.)

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I got my license at 40 and went to a driving school. My instructor was fantastic. I was in an urban area in the US with a lot of choices.If you have options, here’s what I’d look for.

      Find an instructor that specializes in working with adults. In my case, I had to overcome a phobia, severe enough that I went to a therapist concurrent with learning to drive. The kindness and patience of my teacher was really great. He was positive and encouraging and respected my fear and never pushed me until I was ready for the next step.

      I found the school just through a search and how they described themselves sounded right for me and when I called I liked how they responded. Now, with online reviews, you might be able to find a school that has a lot of positive ratings. In terms of questions to ask, I would start with what their teaching style is and if you like how they describe their work.

      It was many years ago, but what I remember is that I bought a package of a few sessions. My instructor told me when he thought I was ready to take the test, and I think I may have purchased a few more sessions as we went along so I would have more time.

      My memory is that it was pretty expensive. But totally worth every penny. I enjoy long road trips and almost never even remember that this was once something I was afraid of. Good luck!

    2. Not Australian*

      It may not be the same where you are, but here there has been *huge* pressure on driving instructors and testing centres since the beginning of the pandemic – not sure why, maybe a lot of independents/sole traders went out of business or had to find other work? People are having to go on waiting lists for everything. This falls under the category of ‘anything else I should know’, as it means you may not have a great deal of choice when it comes to schools/courses.

      One thing that might be worth considering is a residential driving course, if available. They’re a bit more expensive but much more focused, and you get to concentrate on just that and nothing else. (No worrying about work when you’re trying to deal with your three-point-turn!) It isn’t *quite* a vacation, but the ones I’m aware of tend to be in pleasant surroundings without too many distractions and I’ve always thought that sounded like a really interesting option.

      1. Late Learner*

        I’d forgotten about the strain due to lockdowns and new drivers now – thanks for the reminder. I’ll definitely keep that in mind. I’ve never heard of residential driving courses – what an idea!!

    3. AGD*

      Also in Canada, in similar position. Honestly, I went to a Young Drivers of Canada class and it was mostly teenagers but there were several people even older than me and the teachers were super inclusive. We did classroom work and later went out in their cars. One or two sessions were specifically about defensive driving strategies. Some of the teachers were more professional than others (two of them did a lot of goofing off and/or talking about their personal lives) but on the whole, it was a good experience. The class cost about $1000, if I’m remembering correctly.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Are instructors licensed in Canada? In the state where I live now and in the state where I had to re-take my driving test in my 30s because I let my license lapse too long, driving schools are very strictly regulated.

      Instructors have to pass a standard course and be licensed to teach driving. The curriculum, course length, and requirements are all nearly identical because they have to meet state standards. They teach you the state-issued learner’s book and prepare you for the state driving test. They all did the same number of hours. The main difference was how big of “chunks” you did the hours in, to condense or spread out the course.

      If the requirements are similar there, I would be very surprised if there’s a big disparity in fees.

      This isn’t something I’d bother doing a lot of research on. Find one that’s convenient and check the Google and Facebook reviews. If there is a wide price range, pick the middle or call and ask the expensive place what is included with the price.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’ve learned to drive in two countries with two very different experiences, albiet neither of them Canada. I would say one of the most important parts of this is trusting and feeling comfortable with your driving school instructor(s). You will be spending lots of time with them! And you’ll need them in difficult (for you) situations. The actual learning will depend on what you need and how long it takes you–don’t let anyone rush you! You can absolutely learn this stuff later in life. I wish you much success!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, I’d say you need to meet them, because the differences that matter most aren’t going to be visible from research.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      If at all possible, try and get a recommendation from someone you know. I know I did a lot better with someone recommended by my coworker than my first who I had just seen advertising locally.

    7. Laura Petrie*

      I’m 39 and finally started learning to drive this year. I never wanted to learn and was absolutely terrified. I only started lessons as I’ll probably need it when applying for jobs in my new field once I graduate next year.

      I’m in the UK and there is a huge backlog of people waiting to take their test, which has had a knock on effect on instructor availability.

      I found someone who had recently qualified as a teacher so didn’t have any reviews. I was upfront about how anxious I was, that it wasn’t something I had a strong desire to do and I wanted to take things slowly. We had a good chat on the phone before I started my lessons.

      We get on really well, which is good when you’re spending two hours in a car together. I honestly think that’s one of the most important things. You need someone who is prepared to listen to you and take things at a pace you’re comfortable with.

      Good luck!

    8. allathian*

      I was 35 when I got my license. I went to class with young adults who were about half my age, but the teachers were good and encouraging in a positive way. The guy who was in the car with me and who taught me to actually drive was also great, he challenged me just enough to get me to learn, but basically let me set the pace. I took a few extra lessons because I wasn’t comfortable taking the test after the standard package. I failed my first test because I stalled the car at a crossroads once too often (I learned on a manual), but after a few more lessons, I passed the second time with flying colors.

      I didn’t have access to a car right away either, and it was a problem. You learn the basics to take the test, but becoming a proficient driver takes a lot of practice. Once you can handle the car without thinking about it, using your muscle memory, that’s when you have enough free brain capacity to truly pay attention to traffic. So I would recommend planning your opportunities to drive once you get the license. Otherwise you might feel too intimidated to drive in an emergency.

  12. Prosopagnosiac*

    How is it that you recognize people? Do you look at their face and just…instantaneously know which person they are or if you’ve never met them?

    Do you recognize many people you’ve never talked to but know as individuals you see in passing around in your world, or only recognize people you’ve met before, or only after many conversations would you be sure it’s the same person if you saw them again?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’m not face blind but I have a mix of bad memory and good pattern recognition. So sometimes I’ll think I’ve met someone before, but it’s really a stranger with a slight resemblance to someone I know or to a celebrity (I think that’s pretty common, actually).

      Other times I might meet someone several times and forget, or know that we have met but not remember their name.

      When I was working in the entertainment industry I developed a bag of tricks to cover up not recognizing people, because it is such a heavily networked industry. Part of the reason so many people in show business have a reputation for being fake and insincere is that it is not acceptable to not recognize people you *should* know, so a lot of people are faking.

      When it’s someone I know well, recognizing them is like recognizing a word when you’re reading. It just happens. And then if there’s a context where I don’t recognize them for some reason – big change in appearance, or seeing them out of context, or seeing them from a wierd angle- it’s very disorienting when it suddenly clicks.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I recognise the faces of people I’ve met before, but if it was only a brief meeting and we didn’t speak much or at all, there are strong chances that by the next time I see them I’ll have forgotten their name (which embarrasses me, but shouldn’t, people forget my name all the time and I mostly don’t mind).

      I’ve definitely had a few instances of not recognising someone at all, because I’d only met them once in passing before, and/or their appearance changed significantly in the long time I hadn’t seen them. Awkward when I was younger and couldn’t hide my confusion when they showed they recognised me. Now I smile, say “we’ve probably met before but bear with me, I’m bad with names” and find the other person will simply smile back and remind me their name.

    3. Helvetica*

      I am the worst kind of person for this – everyone remembers my face but I often do not recognise people. I have spent my life with workarounds, and I hide it well but I’ve also tried to make the effort to be better at it. I’m also in a career where you meet many people so it is important to remember faces *but* since I meet so many people, it is also fairly acceptable to not retain all of them, and no one will be hurt by it.
      If I see someone daily, it is easy for me to know who they are. But someone who I meet once or sporadically – frankly, I only remember them if I thought they were interesting and I *wanted* to remember them. Otherwise, my brain just retains the general description – short hair, glasses, etc – which is helpful but also means I can confuse them for other similar-looking people.
      And I know I can’t pick out features. I can learn to remember a face but if others say “oh, she has a big nose” or “oh, he had dark eyes”, I have no recollection. My brain remembers the face as a whole, not in pieces, as many other people seem to.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t know. I’m not great at it. (I can also forget a name so quickly upon first meeting.)

      I can’t really describe someone by facial features. I use hair style, hair color, height, build, skin color/tone.

      I also don’t see / can’t do “you look like your relative” for most people. I can’t see/recognize/break out facial features as individual characteristics.

      Recognizing people I know / get to know does eventually come but slowly. Context helps a ton, though, especially when learning.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I recognize both people I have met and people I don’t really know, but it’s definitely stronger when I’ve had at least a short conversation/interaction with someone. Context is a strong….amplifier, I suppose, for me, as that tends to be what I’m reminded of more than a name. I feel like I usually recognize them by their appearance as a whole, like it’s a context of its own. The facial features are a big part of it, although I’ve even recently recognized someone who had a mask on when I hadn’t seen them in many years, but I worked with that person for a few years and saw them every day.

      1. Cure the FOMO*

        I’ve definitely had the experience of not being able to connect someone I know well when I encounter them in a new context that doesn’t make sense. I notice a general short term/long term memory failure when it comes to recognizing someone I had a short, intense conversation with (say, sat next to someone at a conference and chatted for a good ten minutes, but was a bit nervous/anxious – then then saw them again later and had ZERO memory of them).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          We ran into my first grader’s BELOVED first grade teacher at the grocery store, and after we parted child hissed “who was that?” to me.

          Teachers sleep in their classrooms, in the eyes of their youngest charges.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yeah, the person I recognized masked and out of context (grocery store) had reported to me at work for years, and we were pretty friendly for work-friends, we stayed in touch on FB after they left, and they had fairly distinctive features. Although, come to think of it, I did spot someone I knew locally at Disneyworld once, too! I did grow up in NYC, where you are likely to run into people you know in crowds. I don’t think I’m a super-recognizer, as I do often have to look people up in IMDB when I recognize an actor I’ve seen before, but I’m probably significantly better than average at facial recognition. I often note one distinctive facial feature, but not *just* that.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I need a lot of reenforcement to remember a face. And I myself have distinctive coloring, so I feel like I am endlessly being recognized by people because our college students were in preschool together.

      To my surprise, I did a quiz on this at the science museum expecting to come out awful and was average, so maybe this is more widespread? Though I just had to recognize the face as one I’d seen before, not put a name to it–ADHD’s pattern recognition might be coming in there. In social situations “I may have seen you at some point in the 20 years I lived in this area” isn’t enough.

      Will add: I helped in my kids’ kindergarten classrooms. With firstborn, a girl, I quickly learned all the girls’ names but the boys were more of a clump, which I put down to girls having more variety in hairstyles. But then when my son was in K it was reversed–apparently I sorted them by likely playmates? By similarity to my own child? I just know all my theories about how it worked based on one example fell apart once I had a second example.

    7. Asenath*

      I’m not good at recognizing people unless I know them really well. Never have been – but it didn’t come up in my childhood since I grew up in a very small town. “Someone I’ve never met” and “someone I’ve seen in passing dozens of times” are in the same “don’t know if I know them” category for me. For quite a few years, I worked in a fairly large and busy building which, to make matters worse, was open to the public, so sometimes I’d unexpectedly see people I actually did know well, but they’d be out of context. Generally, I’d remember them when they spoke to me. I just smiled cheerfully at everyone and greeted anyone who made eye contact. I have no idea how many of these people actually didn’t know me, or did, and assumed I knew them. People I don’t know well but see regularly – at the same bus stop, in the same exercise class – I remember eventually, but rarely get their names. By the time I’m at the “recognition” stage, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit I don’t know their names. Sometimes I know quite a lot about someone, but not their name.

      It was fascinating to me when I realized in my young adulthood that sometimes I could recognize people without seeing their faces. If I knew them really well, in different contexts, I could sometimes spot them from a distance by the way they moved. From behind, even.

    8. JSPA*

      I’m about half face blind. Incompetent, but not completely unable, for at least some faces, upon repeated exposure.

      (You’ll get more responses from people who are somewhat impaired, because asking someone with good face recognition “what it’s like” is like asking someone who tastes normally, what tasting is like. Or, “how do you know what a word means.” Or “what does having a body feel like.”)

      I have quite good awareness, however of voice, stance, gait, and even common expressions (the expressions the features tend to make or not make, rather than their organization) as well as things like distintively shaped features (bulbous or aquiline noses) wrinkles, unusual brow lines or ear shapes.

      If you recognize voices, or smells, or know someone’s jaunty or dragging or halting or heavy-heeled or gliding gait, or can recognize songs… I belive for most folks, it’s comparable. Like songs, some are more similar, others unmistakable.

      *If you are expression-blind as well as face-blind, this doesn’t work.

      1. Girasol*

        Me too, mildly face blind. I usually go for “Hi, how are you?” and hope that the sound of their voice or their mannerisms or something that they say will tip me off. I used to go with “It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?” to prompt them to fill me in on what they’ve been doing, which would usually give me a hint, until someone looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Awhile?? It was yesterday!”

      2. Anon scientist*

        The gait thing reminded me: when I was in high school I was on a huge swim team (60 girls, almost entirely white) and during meets I had neither glasses nor contact. 60 girls, all with the exact same swim cap covering their hair and the exact same bathing suit, and I was utterly nearsighted and their features were one big blur. I knew who was who from across the pool a bit by shape but really by posture- how they held themselves.

    9. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I struggle with this so much! I don’t have great advice, but this is how I see people.

      I mostly see your outline, clothing, gender, and hair color and shape (pony tail, long, short, etc). And context, if you are at my workplace, you probably work there.

      As most people change their clothes every day, I’m left with height, maybe weight, and hair. If you have a style of clothing that helps me.

      I’ll often know I’ve seen you before but not where or how I know you. But I’m equally likely to introduce myself to people I’ve met before! It is awful and awkward!

      My spouse knows all 40 of his students in one or two class sessions (I’ve mixed up students of different races!) and he cannot tell me how he does it!

      I took a face blindness quiz and passed but only by a second so I tell people I have a bit of face blindness and that helps a bit.

      I literally just realized that the first category was use to sort ppl is context. I see a person who is clearly acting like we have met, I panic, and try to figure out HOW I know you and stop thinking about who you are. I think about whether I know you from work, my apartment building, etc. and that is probably the hardest way to identify ppl! I’m going to try to change that.

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

      I don’t think I’m face-blind because I recognize people just fine…as long as they’re in the “right environment”. By that I mean, if I know someone from work, and usually see them dressed in business wear, but then I run into them out in grocery store on the weekend and they’re wearing shorts etc…I sometimes blank remembering who they are…I usually know that I know them, but not who or sometimes how. It even happens with people I know very well — my boss, my direct coworkers and once my uncle…he just happened to be a place I wasn’t expecting him and I…blanked. During the pandemic, I’ve struggled with folks in masks and not seeing people in-person for long periods of time.

    11. Generic+Name*

      For me it’s not just the face but their whole body, hair, how they carry themselves, and how they walk. Also their voice. I’m very very good at recognizing people, even people I don’t know. As in I can recognize actors in movies and tv shows I’ve seen before. It’s really fun to recognize someone playing a small part as an alien on Star Trek from another tv show. Like the actor who played Mike Erhmentrout from breaking bad/better call Saul was in one episode of TNG.

      1. allathian*

        I’m good with these too. Of course, IMDb helps a lot, too, because it’s so easy to check in what you’ve seen someone before. But it doesn’t work IRL. As a college student I worked at a 24/7 grill kiosk, and all kinds of people were our customers, from homeless people to government ministers. Sometimes I recognized the famous ones, and sometimes I didn’t.

        During the mandatory WFH period, our team hired a lot of new people. The first time I met them in person, I knew they worked for the same team, but it was embarrassing not to remember their names, even if we have cameras on for at least a part of every team meeting, and most people have a profile picture for when the cameras are off.

    12. Pool Lounger*

      For people I’ve met before, I see their faces and recognize them immediately. For people I’ve never met and just seen photos or video, I rarely recognize them. I’ve been talking to well-known celebs who I’ve seen many times in movies and not recognized them (I lived in two celeb-magnet cities so this happened multiple times). No idea why my brain works like that.

    13. Still*

      I see that a lot of people with various degrees of trouble recognising faces have shared, so I thought I’d add another perspective in case that’s interesting for you: yeah, I recognise faces pretty immediately.

      Most often I’ll immediately know if I’ve met someone. If I’ve only met them once or twice, I might not remember their name or the circumstances, but I’ll know we’ve met, I might just need a minute to place them. I recognize people I see around my neighborhood, at the gym, on my commute; those I might a bit more trouble placing if I see them out of context, but I’ll still recognise they look familiar, I’ll know I’ve seen them a lot, and I’m probably gonna spend the rest of the day trying to remember where I know them from.

      If I’ve spoken to someone for more than five minutes, there’s a 99% chance I’ll recognise them immediately and know who they are straight away. It’s not anything in particular, just the whole face is immediately recognisable. It’s not about the individual features, it’s just the whole thing.

      I have to say though, I can mix up people who have similar features if I’ve only met them shortly in the similar context. For example when I worked as a barista, there were a few male customers with vaguely similar features: white, blond, short-haired, early 40s. They always got their coffee at a similar time in the morning and they all had very straightforward orders. For some reason, my brain decided to just group them together, I’d recognise them but never remember which was which. If I saw them on the street, I’d know they’re regulars in less than a second, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you who’s a flat white and who’s a large filter coffee.

      And I always get confused by all the square-jawed white men on TV, it usually takes me about half of the film to start telling them apart.

      But yeah, for the most part, there’s no trick or logic to it, there’s no accounting for individual features and trying to figure them out. Seeing a face is like hearing a name, or smelling a familiar scent, or hearing a song. I might not immediately be able to tell you the title or the artist, or where I’ve heard it last, or know all the words, but I know that I know it. Just like that.

    14. *daha**

      I don’t think I have full-on face blindness, but it takes me a very large number of encounters before I can recognize who I am talking to or looking at. God help me if the person has changed hairstyle or is out of context.

      1. Gnome*

        yep. I often find that the first time I meet someone they look drastically different than every other time. I don’t know what that is. but changing hair/beards is a nightmare for me. I’m getting better at using voices as a workaround. but I’m still really bad.

    15. ThatGirl*

      I have a fairly visual memory but it can be context dependent – eg if I see someone regularly at a workout class, and then see them in street clothes at the grocery store, it might take me a minute to place them.

      But really, that’s just how my brain works, I can’t necessarily explain it?

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        Same….with an additional tendency to say “didn’t recognize you with all your clothes on” that makes things extra awkward!

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

      It varies for me — as a fellow somewhat-face-blindy-type person, I rely a lot on context, hairstyle, glasses, type of clothing, general body shape. If someone changes up one or more of those things, I might or might not recognize them. Alternately, I might confuse a person with someone who looks kind of similar in those ways because I’m not focused on the small differences in facial features that would tell a non-faceblind person who’s who. Before I realized how faceblind I am, I had some truly weird conversations where I thought I was talking with one person but was really talking with a similar-looking person. Oops.

      I cover by smiling and/or greeting anyone walking towards me who looks in any way vaguely familiar.

    17. Anonymouse*

      One of my favorite things is recognizing the people I love even when they are across a crowded room (like an airport terminal). It’s not the face. It’s maybe the distant color composition plus the way they lean / walk / carry themselves. It’s eerie how I can instantly pick out my mom even from far enough away that I can’t see her face.

    18. allathian*

      I don’t have any trouble recognizing people that I know reasonably well, at least not in context. But I’m very bad with names, and I can’t reliably recognize people from photos. During the first year of the pandemic my team hired about 10 new employees. I met some of them in person in November 2021 and others in April 2022, and while I recognized them, I had trouble with their names.

      I regularly talk to my neighbors when I see them in our street, but I wouldn’t necessarily recognize a neighbor out of context, such as at the mall. I’ve been going to my beautician for facials for about 5 years, and I wouldn’t reliably recognize her anywhere other than at the salon. It certainly doesn’t help that I’ve pretty much only seen her with a mask on.

      My inability to recognize people is one reason why I didn’t go into sales as a career.

      Oddly enough, I don’t use clothes as a tool to help me identify people. Perhaps because I don’t care about clothes myself, except as a way to keep warm and cover up, I very rarely notice what people are wearing. The idea that people would use what I wear as a means of identifying me is rather disconcerting.

      I live in a large enough city that I assume that most people I see, I’ve never seen or met before. It’s only when I see the same person frequently at our bus stop, for example, that I might start talking to them. If that happens, I’ll recognize the person when I see them again, at least at that bus stop.

    19. Rara Avis*

      I teach middle school. Spent some hours Saturday at an all-school event at the high school, and drew a blank on the name of a student I taught for 3 years. It happens all the time. I also recognize parents as being parents of my students but can’t tell you which student. So I guess I have a good face memory and a bad name memory?

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      She’s a beautiful cat but you’re right – she does look like she’s planning world domination or a heist of cat toys.

  13. Jackalope*

    Reading thread of the week! Please share what you’re reading right now or have been reading. Any kind of reading welcome! Feel free to share or to ask for recommendations.

    I’m having a hard time focusing due to personal stuff right now. I’m half to two thirds through three different books at the moment and I don’t know if I’ll finish any of them.

    I started Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins. Fantasy is more my genre than romance, but I’ve been trying to branch out a little bit. This one isn’t working for me; there are places where the writing feels awkward, and places where I can’t help but think, “If this weren’t a romance novel he’d done in trouble for sexual harassment right now!” Plus there’s one thread that is tied up too neatly for me, although I appreciated that the author didn’t leave it loose.

    I’m also reading In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power. As I said above, fantasy is more my style, and the writing is really good. It’s an interesting form and style of magic, and I always like innovation in that area. But it’s about a family with an abusive father and how that destroys the sibling relationships as well, and it’s really painful reading about the way they’re being driven apart.

    And lastly I’m reading a book by Cassandra Clare. She’s a great writer (thanks again to whomever recommended her), but in this book one of the main characters goes to the dark side. I know it works out okay in the end, but I can’t deal with it right now.

    Hmm. Looking over my comment, I think I need to find some books about people with happier lives, don’t I. Useful to know!

    1. CharlieBrown*

      Currently reading The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis. (It was made into a movie with David Bowie; apparently there is a new series out.) It’s quite good!

    2. OtterB*

      I just finished The Green Man’s Gift by Juliette E McKenna. It’s the newest in a series that begins with The Green Man’s Heir, which I believe is currently on sale in e-book form. Dan is the son of a dryad and a human, and his heritage makes him able to see/hear nonhuman things. In each book he faces a supernatural, mythical adversary of some kind and he’s gradually getting used to a role of protecting humans, and developing a group of friends who can help.

      Read recently and really liked, A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows. Fantasy m/m romance. Arranged marriage, they need to trust each other to figure out the political machinations going on. CW for sexual assault early on, and the healing process.

      Check the thread above where nan asked for cozy book recs.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      This week, I read exit strategy by Martha Wells and The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

      I don’t know how I feel about the second one. Partly, it’s because it wasn’t the right book to read right now for me (I didn’t know what it was about; I just recognized it as having been recommended here). Partly, some stuff didn’t work for me.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        I was so excited for The Midnight Library, but didn’t like it nearly as much as I thought I would – it was ok for me. I also found things that just didn’t work for me.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I really didn’t like The Midnight Library – I didn’t think he did enough with the premise & the emotional dimension didn’t gel with the set-up, for me. I might not even have finished it

    4. Grey Panther*

      “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” One of those I probably should have read in high school but am now glad I didn’t—I definitely wouldn’t have appreciated it then the way I can now. I genuinely came to like Francie, the main character, and the details of her daily life resonate with things my grand- and great-grandparents told me about their own lives.
      I found myself mildly resenting interruptions from my current life that caused me to put the book down for a few minutes!

      1. OtterB*

        I should reread this one. It was one of the first “grownup” books I read, from my grandmother’s bookshelf, and I remember thoroughly enjoying it but haven’t reread it.

      2. Girasol*

        Agreed. I missed this as a kid and would not have appreciated it properly then but enjoyed it very much recently. Lately I’ve been going back to some books I loved as a kid and haven’t read since, only to find that they’re not at all like I remember and I like them much better from an adult perspective.

    5. the cat's ass*

      Languishing a bit after Covid #5 vax, and just finished “Killers of a Certain Age”, by Deanna Raybourn. Just the silly (4 60+ women assassins are on their retirement cruise when it dawns on them that they are an assassin’s target) fun thing i needed!

    6. Girasol*

      Just finished Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and am beginning Patchett’s “The Dutch House.” Hooray for the Libby library app which has such a good selection of quality books.

    7. Decidedly Me*

      I read The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna this week. Also just finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

      Not sure on my next book. Need a Kindle read as I’ll be on the go and trying to decide whether to work through my collection of Amazon First Reads books (which are hit or miss – none that I’ve hated, but some meh ones) or get some things off my want to read list.

    8. GoryDetails*

      Lots in progress as usual, including:

      READER, I BURIED THEM and other stories, by Peter Lovesey – an intriguing collection of tales, mostly with some kind of mystery element but in a nice variety of settings. Am enjoying this one.

      WHAT MOVES THE DEAD by T. Kingfisher, the latest in her inspired-by-classic-horror novels; this one features Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher” setting and characters quite explicitly, but adds some fascinating alternate-history cultural elements – including a country with something like 7 different sets of pronouns, with one set reserved for people who’ve sworn themselves into the army regardless of gender. And then there’s the whole business of the oddly-possessed hares…

      THE DEMON PRIEST by Jim Burrows: this one’s a fun action/fantasy/horror novel featuring a character who does seem to be a demon turned priest, and who fights on the side of the downtrodden while gathering sidekicks and building his own little community. I’m finding it quite entertaining.

      Audiobooks: I just finished listening to Colleen Hoover’s VERITY, which I chose because it was free-to-members on Audible; it had some decent thriller/plot-twist bits, but I did NOT like any of the three main characters at all, and between that and the many instances of Characters Behaving in Wildly Unlikely Manners I just didn’t care for it.

      By way of a palate cleanser of sorts, I am now listening to Caitlin “Ask a Mortician” Doughty reading her own gruesomely delightful WILL MY CAT EAT MY EYEBALLS, questions (mostly from kids) and answers about death and burial.

      1. Ampersand*

        I love that your palate cleanser in a list of fiction books featuring death is a *non-fiction* book about death! That sounds like something I need to read.

        I enjoyed Verity but completely understand your critique—the characters weren’t exactly likable, the story at points wasn’t believable, but I appreciated that it made me think. I read it months ago and still think about the plot from time to time.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Oh, almost forgot: I just finished Kerry Greenwood’s MURDER AND MENDELSSOHN, from her “Phryne Fisher” series, and really loved it. (They’re all a lot of fun, but this one was even more so – in part because it involved Phryne’s entire extended household-and-alliance, which she deployed beautifully and in very entertaining fashion.) The story is also a nod to the Sherlock Holmes tales, with two characters as expys of Watson and Holmes – only “Watson” is an old friend of Phryne’s from wartime, very gay except for her, and madly in love with the brilliant but utterly unaware “Holmes”. So of course Phryne decides to see if she can get them together… This all plays out against a running plot involving a bickering cast of chorale singers and their nasty conductor. Lots of music, food, romance, and snark. Great fun!

    10. Dr. KMnO4*

      I read The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune twice this week. It is, imo, as I said to the friend who recommended it to me, absolute perfection. I don’t think I’ve ever read a better fiction book, and I’ve read a lot of fiction books. It’s in my top 3 books period (just behind The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor, which I also strongly recommend). I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

      I also read The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune. I did not like it nearly as much. I didn’t dislike it, but it did not motivate me to read the other 2 books in the series. It felt too YA (Young Adult) for my tastes.

      Before someone asks, when I say a book “feels YA”, I mean that the writing style, the themes, the plot and how it’s resolved, and the characters all feel tailored to a less mature audience. Nothing wrong with that, obvs, but sometimes the degree to which an author leans into that style gets to be too much for me. That was the case with The Extraordinaries.

    11. Pool Lounger*

      Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner. An older woman who’s always put her family’s needs first moves out on her own and becomes a witch. It was written in the 1920s, set in England. Love this quote: “One doesn’t become a witch to run around being harmful, or to run around being helpful either, a district visitor on a broomstick. It’s to escape all that – to have a life of one’s own, not an existence doled out to by others.”

    12. Bluebell*

      Just finished Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno Garcia. Loved that it was set in colonial Mexico, and the characters were really well drawn. The Unhoneymooners was a quick romance mainly set in Hawaii and very fun. I plan to start Unlikely Animals this week , and maybe Nora Goes Off Script.

    13. Water Everywhere*

      Recently finished The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn, which I saw recommended here a few weeks ago. Absolutely riveting and based on a real person that despite all my WWII reading I had never heard of before.

      I’m now reading a special edition of Pride and Prejudice, curated by Barbara Heller, that includes copies of letters referred to in the book as if written by the characters themselves. As a 20+ year Austen fan who rereads the books regularly, this edition is absolutely delighting me!

    14. tessa*

      I just started a biography on the late, great comedian Madeline Kahn.

      Also, “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin, and one of President Carter’s books, “Peace not Apartheid.”

    15. Yes I read a lot of Romance*

      Beverly Jenkins is a baller author – one of the original black romance authors – but her style can be not for everyone. Her historical safe especially good, but she is definitely (style-wise) more of a 90’s era writer. Given that you mention liking CC later in your post, you might want to try some more contemporary black authors. Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series is pretty solid, and Thalia Hibbert is a fave. I like the second and third of Farrah Rochon’s recent trilogy and I am digging the fun, silly of Kimberly Lemming’s Mead Mishaps books. Lucy Eden’s Stuff is pretty light and fun too.

      That said, if you want some fun, sharp top tier romance, check out some Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare. I also highly recommend Grace Draven for drifting in to the romance genre from fantasy. (Though, her most recent “Fallen Empire” series is dark romance and I don’t recommend starting there. “Entreat Me” is a wonderful and highly subversive Beauty and the Beast retelling, and “Radiance” is a fantastic start to her Ippos Kong’s series.)

      1. Jackalope*

        I just wrote a long response to your comment that got eaten. Short version: I’m familiar with some of the authors you mentioned (and Courtney Milan is for sure my favorite!), but will check out the others. And fantasy romance blends are my favorite although I’ve had a couple of misses there too. I just started reading romances the last couple of years, so I’m still wading through what I like and don’t like.

      2. Dr. KMnO4*

        I love the Reluctant Royals series. It is fantastic in its portrayal of BiPOC folks, as well as queer people, neurodivergent people, and people with disabilities. Her characters are so much more than their race, or their sexuality, or any of the pieces of their identities. She also does a great job portraying the complexity of relationships, from platonic friendships to romantic relationships to familial relationships.

        1. Yes I read a lot of Romance*

          Honestly, my only problem with that series is I WISH the novellas were longer.

    16. thewriterbean*

      On the recommendation of a friend, I’m reading Heartsick by Jessie Stephens. (I’ve very reluctantly put it down for the night.)

      It follows 3 people in relationships, navigating ups and downs. The author has based it on the stories of three people she interviewed — pretty extensive interviews from her preface! It was actually the preface that got me hooked.

    17. Astoria*

      Just finished Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner’s memoir. Fun for those of us who love both rock’n’roll and journalism, but lots of name-dropping and full-of-himself-ness. I recommend Robert Draper’s Rolling Stone: The Uncensored History as a counterpoint.

  14. Taking the long way round*

    Alison, I’m just in awe that you don’t have any cat hair over your lovely furnishings :)

    1. Finula*

      Have fun! Appreciate your life, spend time celebrating yourself, and look forward to a new decade of exciting and interesting experiences to come.

      Happy birthday!

    2. Strong Aroace Vibes*

      Congratulations! I don’t know if this is advise exactly, but when I turned 30 people in their 30s told me it was the decade where you “stop giving a F*** about what other people think of you and your choices.” I have found this to be true. And, it’s made easier because people stop caring as much about what YOU are doing. Lean into that :)

      1. Cure the FOMO*

        Yes! When I was 30 I gave myself permission to stop trying to be cool or popular. I wear more comfortable shoes, baggy clothes, dorky hats. I decided I was old enough that it shouldn’t really matter anymore. For me that meant never again going to loud dance clubs, which I had never enjoyed but always felt like I should try to like if that’s what the group was doing. I mean this in the best way, but I was too old to be doing that anymore.

    3. English Rose*

      Happy birthday! Enjoy yourself.
      A friend of mine says the definition of happiness is a life with pleasure, challenge and meaning. Seek them out!
      Do you say ‘yes’ too often or ‘no’ too often? Try doing the opposite.

    4. mreasy*

      Congratulations! My 30s were SO much better than my 20s, largely because I felt less pressure to be precocious. Now I like my 40s even more though I liked my way fewer wrinkles in my 30s!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me. My 30s were a big improvement and 40s were great!
        Now is the time where choices you make now can shape how your life plays out- this means financially, healthwise, even with relationships. I worked hard in my 30s but I started hitting some of my goals. Those goals became reality.

      1. TPS reporter*

        yes! I started seriously lifting weights in my 30s and it has changed my life. for some reason I was embarrassed and thought I was too old to go to a fancy gym. but I just did it and learned over time and am so much more confident now and am able to do other physical activities I couldn’t before. I’m not super fit looking but also in my 30s got the confidence not to care what other people thought. I’m out there doing the things

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Happy birthday! The 30s are a great age. You are both old enough and young enough to do whatever you want.

    6. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Looking back I sort of think it can feel like you’ve chosen a path and now have to walk it. You’ve been preparing your whole life to get here and truly start adulting! And it can feel like any change will be like starting over and take too long. In 10 years, you will be glad you started on a new road! So never think it is too late for anything.

      Take care of your body and teeth.

      Save from every paycheck; even little amounts make a big difference. For basic financial planning read “the Index Card.”

      In your 20s you worry about what others think, in your 40s you stopped caring about what others think, in your 60s, you realize that no one was thinking about you! The ages are not important; but live like no one cares (is not judging you)!

      Be yourself is confusing; it means more, enjoy the process/journey of figuring out who you are.

      I had the idea that by age 30 you had all the stuff figured out and lived like an adult till you got old and got old people stuff (menopause, still and arthritic, retired, etc). First, as AAM questions show, people act a lot like they are in High School, not like adults. Second, there are many phases and changes from age 30 to 60+ – and your experience will be your own.

      Above all, trust yourself, have confidence in yourself, and advocate for yourself!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So agree that being yourself is confusing. It’s good to understand that some things work for a while, then after a bit the opposite works. A stupid example. I wanted a new car. I finally got a new car when I was in my late 20s. I got into my 30s and I realized I am just not a car person. I don’t care if I have a new car or not. So here I had gone through a over a decade of wanting a new car, getting one and then figuring out it just wasn’t that important to me.

        It’s okay to change course. And it can help to frame things as, “This works for me right now.” Now I just say, “Eh, I thought I would enjoy a new car much more than I actually did. I stopped thinking about a new car and turned to look at other things.” Yeah, so the money I did not spend on cars, went into having a dog, which was something I reeeally wanted.

    7. Lilo*

      I’m only 34 but: Moisturize and wear sunscreen. Expect your alcohol tolerance to go way down.

      The little things you neglect catch up with you more as you get into your 30s, so take your health (dental as well) seriously.

      1. Lilo*

        I should note that I had a baby at 30 so the whole teeth/alcohol tolerance/health thing was tied up with that as well.

      2. thewriterbean*

        The alcohol tolerance thing — anything with bubbles for me. I had one glass of sparkling rose tonight with dinner and I felt it the minute I stood up! That and the back pain (years of sewing catching up with me) are my only complaints about my 30s so far.

    8. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Make sure you drink enough water, especially if you are going to go out celebrating.

      Get some good comfortable shoes for work and play. Future you will appreciate it.

      And try to get some sleep.

      Congrats and Happy Birthday!

      1. Lilo*

        Oh yeah, 30s are definitely the “If I’m having another drink, I’m going to need to drink this big glass of water first” territory.

    9. Tea*

      Take lots of pictures and videos of your loved ones. Record them singing, laughing, saying your name.

      Loss can hit at any age, young or old, but I think your thirties are often when people are first slapped in the face with impending mortality, whether it’s your own or other’s. Your parents or grandparents are getting older, more susceptible to illness, dementia, alzheimers, or even just a bad fall. Car accidents, shocking diagnoses, inexplicable acts of violence can rob you of the people you love, and it’s not until afterwards that you realize that you only took pictures of your plate on all those mimosa brunches you had together, or you realize the only clip of their voice you’ve got is from an accidental buttdial voicemail where you hear them going, “huh? what…?”

      So… yeah! Make sure to get lots of pictures of your loved ones during the good times!

  15. PX*

    UK folk – any recommendations for a company to send flowers and chocolates to a friend? They have had a rough couple of months and I want to do something nice for them (they live a few hours away so needs to be an online thing), but a bit overwhelmed by Google options.

    1. Sage*

      I like M&S for flowers, not sure if you can add on chocolates. Bloom and Wild is good as well but the flowers come very much in bud so they don’t look as nice when they first arrive!

      1. Sage*

        Also like the company ‘don’t buy her flowers’ which lets you assemble your own care package with lots of options – chocolates, other snacks, scented candles etc

    2. Cordelia*

      I’ve always been pleased with Bloom & Wild when I’ve ordered from them, and my sister had their subscription one year and got different flowers every month, and they were always good. They do often arrive partly in bud, as the other commentator says, but I quite like that, makes them last longer

    3. English Rose*

      What a lovely thought. Bloom and Wild are great, and they currently have a limited edition section supporting young carers.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      If you’re open to sourcing the chocolates separately: I quite like Hotel Chocolat and I’m sure they have plenty of options that could be sent out as gifts.

  16. Richard Hershberger*

    Derry Girls! Netflix just dropped Season 3. I would not go far as to suggest subscribing to Netflix just for this, if you already have, then trust me.

    1. Russian in Texas*

      I just rewatched the first two seasons before starting the new one, and I cried laughing once again.
      I don’t know if Sister Michael or Uncle Colm is my favorite character.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I believe this season we had the revelation that her full name is Sister Michael George.

        The weeping statue of Mary episode makes me laugh just thinking about it. No one does religious humor better than Catholics.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I saw Season 3 earlier this year when it aired in the UK. It’s great and the finale finishes on a perfect note. As someone who was a teenage girl in that era (in England, at a thankfully non-religious all-girls school) it is painfully accurate on a lot of things.

      Americans probably miss at least 50% of the cultural references, though. I just decided that I couldn’t try to explain everything to my American husband or it would take 2 hours to watch every episode!

    3. Helvetica*

      It’s so good! I watched it when it aired originally and now again, and it was done so perfectly. I think the last episode was the perfect send-off but I really loved the 1970s episode – the casting was immaculate!

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      My brain keeps trying to convince me that Derry Girls is an alternate universe version of Facts of Life, and now I walk around giggling (and guffawing) all day at the split screen in my head. Of course Blair was really a working class chick named Erin, and Jo only needed curls to be Michelle. To keep sane after exuding all that syrupy sweetness, Mrs. Garrett had a Sister Michael alter (or is that altar?) ego who gave zero fvcks.

  17. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

    Is anyone here familiar with the inner workings of car insurance?
    My car insurance rates keep going up sharply, even though I’ve never been in an accident in 25 years and I drive a relatively inexpensive car that doesn’t have enough power to get out of its own way. I read the paperwork that came with my most recent renewal, and noticed it has a statement saying “Policy Tier: This policy has been assigned to the 3K tier.”

    Does every insurance company use the same system? If so, is there a chart of the tiers available online so I can see where 3K falls — whether I’ve been classified as low risk, high risk, or somewhere in the middle? Live chat with my insurance company (Progressive) led nowhere, and for a librarian, I’m surprisingly lousy at digging for information. Sigh.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t know the answer.

      My one thought is my 10 year old car’s blue book value keeps rising. Vaguely recall it being in $5000s and now (after COVID supply chain issues) it clocks in close to $9000. Super weird. It remains in good shape and not driven too often because of working from home. Perhaps yours is becoming more valuable? It will definitely be more expensive to replace than pre-COVID. There’s a shortage of used cars.

    2. Everdene*

      Get quotes from a couple of other providers or comparison sites. You may be very suprised by the price difference.

      If you keep automatically renewing with the same insurance provider they have no incentive to give you a good price. Instead they just keep putting the premiums up each year and make increasing levels of profit from you. This is their business model.

      1. WellRed*

        You have the right to request a requote from your insurer every year. I’ve found that brings mine down. I drive a 12 year old car and pay about $100 monthly for liberty mutual.

    3. Fit Farmer*

      Well, everything IS more expensive these days, but it would be totally reasonable to shop around or especially to talk to an insurance broker to see if they can come up with a better price somewhere. It’s my unresearched impression that one’s rates keep going up to where, every few years, it’s worth shopping around because another company will give you a better deal to snag a new customer, or your current company will cut your rate to keep you if you say you’re going to leave.

      1. Cure the FOMO*

        Ooh, are people still using insurance brokers? I know there’s like, free websites, but I hate putting all my info in and then trying to avoid salespeople afterwards.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Find an in-person agent local to you. So helpful! Ours saved us a lot of money and reduced the whole hassle factor by a ton.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am a fan of using an agent. You want to pick out an agency that handles many insurance companies. This is how you get a good price because of their ability to have choices. My friend went to a stand-alone agent who handled 6 companies. For his vehicles the policy was pushing $2K. For two very much used trucks and a clean driving record. He went to my agency who handles over 100 insurance companies and that premium dropped down to $800 for the same two vehicles. He was so happy, I thought he was going to pay my insurance bill also as a thank you. ha.

            I let an agent shop for me. And it seems that every few years I have to change companies because my insurance has crept up again. Business loyalty is meaningless in the insurance industry I guess.

    4. Llama Llama*

      I am not in car insurance but my sister is. She has mentioned multiple times in the past several years that the cost for insurance is going up significantly for everyone.

      That being said, shop around but know the quality of insurance you are getting.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      Assuming you are in the US, car insurance is regulated on the state level, and different states have wildly different systems. So for anything specific, you need to talk to someone who knows your state. That being said, as others have pointed out, shop around. Car insurance is a very competitive market. It is entirely possible some other outfit will give you a better deal, quite possibly startlingly better. This is because these outfits also tend to rely on the customers just renewing out of habit.

      Be aware of the different coverages. Those insurance ads where every company claims that people save some impressive percentage by switching to them? Partly that is the stuff from the first paragraph, but you can also save on premiums by reducing those different coverages. This is where it gets tricky, changing from state to state. In my jurisdiction, Maryland, you have liability, uninsured motorist, collision, comprehensive, and personal injury protection.

      Liability is for when the accident was your fault. It pays out to the other driver. Some version of this is, I believe, legally mandated in every state. In Maryland the mandated minimum is $30K.

      Uninsured motorist is for when the accident was the other guy’s fault and he didn’t have insurance, or in some circumstances not enough insurance. It also is required in Maryland, minimum $30K. You can (and should) pay for a higher limit, but your UM limit cannot be higher than your liability limit.

      Collision is for when your car is damaged in an accident, regardless of whose fault. It pays you, but there is generally a significant deductible.

      Comprehensive is for when you car is damaged in something other than an accident: vandalism, a tree fell on it, you hit a deer (which for this purpose is not considered an accident but an act of nature), etc. It has a deductible like collision, but usually lower. So if you report you hit a deer, they will send out an appraiser who will not only look at the damage but look for deer hair, to establish that is really what happened.

      Finally there is personal injury protection. This varies even more than the others, so take this as anything like generally how it works, but in Maryland, it pays your medical bills and lost wages arising from an accident, regardless of whose fault it was. Maryland PIP is particularly awesome because it has no right of subrogation, which is legal gibberish for you can double dip: If the accident was the other guy’s fault, you can use your PIP for your bills, while still claiming those bills against the other guy’s liability insurance, and you don’t have to pay the PIP back.

      So shop around, but be aware of what is being offered and put serious thought into what you need. You might consider going through an actual insurance agent, picking one who doesn’t with just one insurance company. A good agent can have a sensible discussion about what you need, and do the shopping around for you.

    6. Anita, Darling*

      Issues that may contribute to your premium that you haven’t considered include your zip code and your credit. I moved from reasonably nice suburb to city with lots of crime and my rates went through the roof. Also, if you’re on the upper end of age tier, you might also see an increased rate if you’re past 65. Further, most states that allow use of credit to rate have laws that your rate can’t go up if you ask for a review of your account based on more recent credit reports.

      Check that you don’t have any wrong entries on your motor vehicle record and credit record – it can’t hurt to check that anyway.

      There’s no reason not to quote with other insurers. Now, the “average savings of those who switched” necessarily includes a biased sample – only those who saved, switched! – but even though there are often discounts for being a long-time customer, they are often not significant to offset rate increases, because as a loyal customer you’re also the most reliable profit base (especially if you generate no claims). Quote with agents, quote using online tools; if you want to make sure the insurance is of a baseline quality and not some random fly-by-night that refuses to pay if a claim occurs, go look up JD Power rankings.

      Things you can do to lower your rate without switching: have them review your rate, as others have mentioned; bundle with homeowners, because that’s one of the biggest ways that they retain customers, so the discount is significant; adjust the annual mileage they use (many use 12,000 annually as a default) usage-based insurance, where your driving is tracked for several months using a plug-in into your car or a mobile app on your phone. For the latter Progressive Snapshot was the pioneer, but many other companies now have the “track-your-driving” options in many states.

      It’s also state-dependent. California is very restrictive in what you can use to rate; Michigan just in 2019 capped its previously unlimited “personal injury protection” coverage, which reportedly made insurance there very expensive; different states have insurance commissioners that are more persnickety than others and it’s harder to get things approved. This affects how finely tuned the rating can be, what discounts can be used, etc.

    7. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      Thank you. I feel badly, some folks took an enormous amount of time and effort to post a lot of useful information here, but nothing answers the question I meant to ask, which is: how do I find out if I’ve been put in a high-risk group or a low-risk group?

      Switching did save me money initially but after the first six months, my rate skyrocketed again.
      I didn’t consider going through a broker. I’ll certainly consider that the next time I’m up for renewal.
      And yes, I’m painfully aware that the cost of everything is going way up. I see it every time I go to the supermarket, order from a restaurant, etc. But I don’t think an increase from $489 in 2015 to $940 in 2022 for six months of coverage for a similar car is normal. Even college tuition doesn’t go up that fast.

      1. Blomma*

        You can try to speak with your agent or a CSR from your carrier to see if they can give any insight into what in your specific case is driving your rate. Each carrier has its own market tiers based on their how their rates are determined and not all of that info is public so they may not be able to fully answer that question for you. Things like age, gender, level of education, home address, marital status, credit score, payment history, and driving history can all impact rates and determine a person’s market tier. (Insurance is highly regulated and not all of these things are allowed in all states.)

        One can shop their rates at any time and switch carriers midterm. They should be refunded on a prorated basis if they’ve paid for the 6 months in full. To be honest, the increase over 7 years that you indicated is maybe a bit high but not completely unheard of with how overall auto rates are going.

    8. Blomma*

      I am an insurance agent but not yours and may not be licensed in your state, so this is meant as very general info and not specific to your policy.

      Auto insurance costs have been going up across the board for a variety of reasons, and unfortunately it also impacts the people who are safe drivers and have very basic vehicles. The liability payouts for accidents have increased. Vehicles are much more expensive to repair due to part shortages but also because of all the high tech features in cars. In my state, there’s a high percentage of uninsured drivers, which raises rates for responsible people who do have insurance. Depending on your state, your credit may be impacting the rate. “Tiers” are often determined by an insured’s insurance score, which can include credit and payment history. Each carrier has its own tier system.

      It’s probably a good idea to check other markets out to see if your rate, while unfortunately higher, is still reasonable compared to other carriers. If you speak with an independent agent, they can check multiple carriers for you. If you want to check with a captive company (Allstate, State Farm, Farmers, Geico, etc.) you will need to contact each one to request a quote.

      Another thing to consider is participating in a telematics program to earn a discount. Telematics programs track various safe driving habits (such as hard braking, driving late at night, use of your cell phone while driving, etc.) and are usually either a device you plug into your car or a phone app. Progressive has a telematics program, so that might be something to look into if you’d prefer to stay with them.

    9. Generic+Name*

      Switch companies. Find a broker who works with several different companies and find one with the coverage you need ad the lowest price. I’m frankly shocked that insurance companies seem to put their current customers last. They focus on new business and raise rates on existing clients. It’s a short sighted business model.

    10. Gnome*

      I had some sticker shock about 7 months ago when our rates went up, and called about it and was told that the issue was inflation. then I got a new surprise at the last bill… and they said one of the main issues is that supply chain problems are increasing the time people need rentals, driving up costs for rentals while waiting for parts. plus the increase in value.

      not looking forward to adding my teen to the insurance next year.

      1. Blomma*

        Yeah the part and labor shortages have created huge delays in our insureds getting their vehicles fixed. I’m aware of at least one who exhausted their rental car coverage limit and their car still hadn’t been repaired. It’s wild!

  18. Buni*

    Question for people who like a weighted blanket: How well do you sleep *without* it?

    I’d love to get one, and I know I’d sleep better with one – I’d sleep in a panini press if I could, I want to get into bed like I’m being faxed – but I worry I’d get too dependant on it and not be able to sleep without it. In the heatwave this Summer it got to 33C in my flat and I couldn’t have anything on the bed at all, and obviously I wouldn’t be able to take it with me to family/friends/hotels, so… How addictive are they?

    1. Flightless*

      I got a weighted blanket while dealing with insomnia this year, and it didn’t help me sleep at all (I think it might have made me sleep worse a few times–I woke up sweating because the blanket is so warm, even by itself!).

      It’s super comfy and warm, so I plan to use it over the fall and winter though.

      Anyway, my experience was that it’s nice to use when it’s not too hot, but I’m definitely not addicted to it. If you’re worried about becoming addicted, maybe you could just use it a few nights a week instead of every night.

    2. English Rose*

      I don’t know, but just wanted to say I laughed out loud at panini press and being faxed! Very witty.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        “I want to get into bed like I’m being faxed” has just entered my top-5 AAM lines ever, thank you!

        1. Subtle Tuba*

          Off-topic, but I *love* your username. “Dicey’s Song” is one of my favorite books of all time, and I reread it regularly.

          1. Dicey Tillerman*

            Mine, too. <3 I've been wondering if anyone would recognize the name! (I've also posted under Cousin Eunice and Paper Mulberry. Clearly, we have a theme.)

          2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Me too! I was actually thinking about Jeff (from the companion book A Solitary Blue) yesterday

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I don’t have a weighted blanket so my comment is likely useless!

      But when you mentioned wanting to get faxed to sleep I wondered if it’s the idea of weight or if it’s more the cocooning/restrictive sensation that you like? Which made me wonder if you’ve tried an oversized sheet tucked in tight? Summer in Australia I sleep with a loose weave linen sheet under a fan and most nights and I’m very comfortable.

      I’m handy with a sewing machine, so as an experiment, I bought a second fitted sheet instead of a flat top sheet and let the top part out, so it tucks around the bottom fitted but is a normal sheet at the top. I did it for aesthetic reasons (I hate the excess sheet hanging off the bed), but depending where you make the cut it could be set to tuck you in really tight without a heavy blanket on top?

      1. Buni*

        It’s definitely about the top-down weight, I can’t stand being actually restricted. I currently have two winter-weight duvets on but nothing tucked in, so I can still liberate an arm/leg if needed. And unfortunately I pre-sleep/sleep like a rotisserie chicken….

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

          Do you crave all over weight or any specific areas…like pressure points? Over the summer, when we had our terrible heat wave in So Cal, I used a rice-filled heating pad…but cooled in the freezer for a bit instead of hot…as a mini version of a weighted blanket. It is large enough to cover my chest and half of my stomach or drape over my side when I laying on my side. This weighted pressure in specific areas worked well for me and would be portable for travel.

    4. Still*

      “I’d sleep in a panini press if I could, I want to get into bed like I’m being faxed” is a delightful and very relatable way to phrase it.

      I’ve had my weighted blanket for about two years now and I love using it from autumn to spring, but I have no trouble sleeping without it. When it’s warm, I don’t want it and just switch to a regular duvet or even just a top sheet. And when I’m traveling, I care more about being warm enough than about the weight. I might ask for an extra blanket but it’s never been a problem.

    5. Unicornucopia*

      I really like mine, and I also got rather attached to it so on short trips or when it doesn’t make sense to bring it, I do sometimes sleep worse without it, generally just taking a bit longer to fall asleep. I have recently adjusted back to not sleeping with it, and while I would still prefer to have it, I no longer am lying in bed wishing for it. I’m one of those people who wants it to be very cool at night but with lots of blankets on, but I also have AC and fans to accomplish that in the summer, so I don’t have any problems with seasonality. I don’t feel like it’s that much warmer than any other blankets though, which is something I hear about.

    6. Chaordic One*

      There are “cooling” weighted blankets. They are made from breathable fabrics, usually cotton or wool. They usually feature a more open weave so as not to trap moisture. Sometimes they might be made from moisture-wicking fabrics (usually some sort of synthetic and natural fiber blend). They’re not as warm as most regular weighted blankets, so if you get one, you might want to have a second blanket for warmth when it is chilly outside. Google “cooling weighted blanket” and see what comes up.

      1. fposte*

        I’m wondering also if there’s some gel-filled weighted blanket that could have even more cooling power. Another possibility is working out some strategic deployment of ice packs–you don’t have to keep them frozen, just chilling in the fridge, and some kinds have velcro so you might just be able to add a velcro patch to the blanket and stick them on.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      Well, the thing is, I didn’t sleep particularly well without mine before I got it! So it’s a lot like using my CPAP. I’m not addicted to my CPAP, it’s part of what helps me get quality sleep.

      Also, panini sleepers of the world, unite.

    8. Danish*

      Only addressing the heat issue mainly – my weifhted blanket is cotton with weighted beads in it, meaning that it acrually stays quite cold if i leave it out untouched! This summer during the heat wave i actually slept on top of it and it was delightfully chilly for long enough for me to fall asleep

    9. Leenybear*

      I have a weighted blanket (Bearaby, so it’s not too hot), which I LOVE. I definitely am addicted and will lug it around on road trips.

    10. thewriterbean*

      Humid summers here, and routinely 40°C (also my favourite time of year). I also love that panini press feeling, so much so that I actually ended up getting a slightly heavier blanket late last year.

      I’ve found that on hot nights I can usually get away with just sleeping under that blanket, or, if it’s way too sticky and I need a sheet on instead, I’ll fold the blanket so it’s on my feet but heavier. Sometimes that’s enough to get me to sleep!

  19. Flightless*

    I posted last week about concerns over having to gate-check or valet my wheeled carry-on size bag on American Airlines on some upcoming flights. Thanks for all the responses!

    Someone suggested getting a smaller size carry-on bag so that it fits in the overhead bins in the smaller planes. So I’m going to return my wheeled carry-on and get a personal sized duffle for my clothes (a bright blue Baboon to the Moon Go Bag Mini, and I’m going to get a neon orange luggage tag for it since posters said to make your bag distinct). I was originally going to use a small backpack as my personal item for under the seat, but I’ll switch to my regular sized backpack that I use for work so I can fit all my non-clothing items into it.

    I also took various posters’ advice to join the AAdvantage program to get the group 6 boarding. I had already booked my flights previously, so hopefully adding the flights to my AAdvantage account will still work!

    Thanks to the people who pointed out that everyone can’t easily replace their clothes. That’s exactly why I’m so worried about losing my bag.

    I asked one of the relatives I’m visiting if I could do a load of laundry at their house so I could pack less clothes, and they said I could, but that I should check a bag anyway because carrying a bag through the airport will be too much hassle. But the Baboon to the Moon bag is small, so it won’t be heavy, and I think the only inconvenient part will be using the bathroom. (I can wear my backpack and just hang the Baboon bag in the stall and set it on the floor near the sink. It’s waterproof, so it’ll be easy to clean with a disinfecting wipe later!)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      To me, carrying a bag through the airport is nothing compared to even having to wait for checked luggage! I just hate it, and unless I’m on a long trip to a cold climate, I try to stick to a carry-on and a backpack or similar that can go under the seat. And tell your relative that they make bags with WHEELS now! I got a light tote that attaches to the pull-out handle of a rolling bag, and that is really easy to pull around. I’ve done it on trips that went bus-subway-Amtrak-subway-long walk, and it’s not bad.

      1. mreasy*

        I used to always check a bag, as I just hate the hassle, but the delays since COVID due to understaffing have rid me of the habit. Though I do love my giant red hard sided suitcase.

      2. KatEnigma*

        It all depends on the airport. DEN regularly (still) manages to get the bags on the baggage carousel before I even make it to baggage claim. IAH was speedy too, even this summer (week long family reunion at a hotel and traveling with kid- I couldn’t make carry ons work)

        At PIT or MCO or ORD? I’ve waited an hour+ long before Covid.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Good point, although for me it’s not just about standing at the carousel (although that does drive me nuts); it’s also about the fact that getting to the baggage claim, spotting my bag, and then dragging it out front also can take an extra 15-20 minutes over just heading directly out of the terminal.

          Ironically, I actually kind of enjoy getting to the airport 2-3 hours early and reading at the gate, probably because the plane is leaving at the same time no matter what; I just don’t like being….made less efficient? Arriving at the gate early gets me to my destination at the same time with less stress, but checking bags means I’m arriving at my destination later because I’m in the destination airport longer, possibly much longer, and it introduces the possibility of delayed or lost luggage. Been there, done that, didn’t care for it. (At least it was on our way home!)

    2. londonedit*

      Most ‘low-cost’ airlines here in the UK charge an absolute bloody fortune for hold luggage these days, so everyone is very good at doing hand luggage only! Keeping your bag with you in the airport is really no problem (the size limits here allow for a small wheely suitcase, even, and most people have those) and certainly preferable to paying to put a case in the hold and having to wait around for it when you land. I can’t remember the last time I flew with hold luggage. The only annoying thing is that all hand luggage liquids have to be 100ml or less and fit into a small clear plastic bag for security, but you get used to that and all the big pharmacy chains sell travel-sized toiletries.

      1. Flightless*

        I agree that the 1 quart-sized bag of liquids on carry-ons is a pain. I’m working on making sure I can fit everything.

        I actually have some 1 ounce hand sanitizer bottles that I’m going to reuse to hold some of my liquids. Found out I use less than an ounce of shampoo in a week just from testing how long a one ounce bottle of it would last me!

    3. beep beep*

      A small wheeled carry-on has really been no problem for me in the past flying American, even when I was flying in a little plane, but I’m not sure how big yours was.

      Well, that’s not true. The Albuquerque airport has some brick floors, and it was VERY LOUD.

      But when that’s not the case, I love my little suitcase and its bright rainbow tags. I don’t remember ever actually checking it and having a problem. I hope whatever happens, your trip goes well!

      1. Flightless*

        My wheeled carry-on was the “max” size (22 x 14 x 9) and American Airlines says the smaller planes can only accommodate personal item sized carry-ons (18 x 14 x 8). I probably could have found a smaller wheeled bag, but I’m tired of looking at bags, and the Baboon to the Moon duffle is very nice and caught my eye before because of the bright colors.

      2. Deanna Troi*

        I just flew on two American Airlines flights this morning. I checked my bag because I had a lot of things for work. On both flights, they confiscated most people’s carry-on roller bags. When I got off the flights, there were tons of people on the gangway waiting for their bags.

        1. Clisby*

          That happened when I flew AA from SC to Santa Fe, NM this summer. I didn’t have a roller bag and just took my backpack and small duffel bag on board – but a number of people found out at the last minute they couldn’t take carry-on roller bags.

    4. fposte*

      I just wanted to double-check–your backpack is small and fits under the seat, right? Otherwise it might get viewed as a second bag that wouldn’t be allowed as a carryon.

      1. Flightless*

        Yes, my backpack does fit the personal item size requirements for going under the seat. It’s a regular size backpack, which happens to make it significantly bigger than the small backpack I usually bring as a personal item. (The small backpack is my “library backpack” for bringing books back and forth to the library because it fits a few books and that’s it!). Thanks for checking!

        1. fposte*

          Oh, good. I’ve seen so many people get stuff yanked off for that, but I also know that you can shove quite a bit into an underseat bag.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      I rarely check a bag. If I will have access to laundry facilities, I pack 2-3 days’ worth of clothes in a carry-on. I have the Skyline 13.5 underseat bag from Target, very easy to move around, and I fly out of ATL so I have to roll it a long way. It fits under the seat of a Boeing. (It has to go in the overhead bin on an Airbus.) Not having to deal with baggage claim plus not having to even worry about getting it into an overhead bin=I’m completely self contained. In and out of the airport with no hindrances.

  20. Dwight Schrute*

    The menopause question earlier this week got me thinking: I’m a young woman (mid twenties) and menopause is not something I hear much about. What’s something you wish you knew about it that no one told you?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      That for some women it’s not a case of your periods go from once/month to once/every few months to off, but instead you get a period that just lasts forever. Or it’s 7 weeks on, 2 weeks off, then back on.

      Replens moisturizer for vaginal dryness. Which was only a problem for the first year or so, thank deity, but it affects comfort in moving and walking and just being in your body–it’s not just a sex thing.

      1. Cure the FOMO*

        Man I think I’d hop back on the BC pill if I had a seven month period. Does that stop working?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Hormones are the treatment for it–progesterone for me turned it off. So bc pills would also work.

        2. KatEnigma*

          Yes… at least the treatment you’d been on successfully for 10 years can stop working and they have to up the dosage and/or switch you to stronger hormones that play havoc with your moods. Ask me how I know.

        3. JSPA*

          With some justification (heart attacks, strokes, blood clots in lungs) its darn hard to get regular BC pills past a certain age. Combine with unpredictable cycles, and it’s one reason for late-in-life “oops” babies.

          1. Random Biter*

            So very much this. When my doctor told me she couldn’t prescribe BC pills for me anymore I cried.

      2. Menopause dryness*

        I concur with Falling Diphthong. I was getting pain and thought I had a urinary infection until a doctor visit where I learned otherwise. It turned out to be day to day chafing from dryness, with the additional factor of the skin getting thinner and more easily irritated. In my case, the solution is a localized prescription estrogen twice-weekly, not a pill taken orally. I’ve used it for years with great results and no ill effects.

      3. I take tea*

        This. I got the constant bleeding during a particularly stressful period of my life, and it was horrible. I got anemia and an infektion as well. Plus all the extra stress the worrying made, because I had no idea why and of course I thought the worst, but I couldn’t get to a doctor for a good while because of reasons. When I finally went, I got hormones that helped. Do go sooner than I did.

      1. Cure the FOMO*

        I’m hearing more and more about this lately. I definitely know that in my thirties my periods kicked it up a notch, which I was surprised and alarmed by at first. My OBGYN said that was normal and common and I was like, hmm would have been nice to know. But maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to know they’d get worse TBH. (This is different if you had kids I think, bc the uterus can sometimes be less crampy after stretching).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          My (medical person) said that was normal and common and I was like, hmm would have been nice to know.
          This so much! I found peri-menopause was rife with this, and why I am glad Dwight asked the question.

        2. KatEnigma*

          Yep. My Gyn was so blase about perimenopause being the reason my hormone treatment stopped controlling my “irregular” periods

        3. RagingADHD*

          Perimenopause is a crapshoot. Everything is “normal” because just about anything can happen. My cramps and irritability got way less, but U started getting hormonal migraines.

          Have you seen that meme about “Spider-Ma’am”?

          A middle aged woman gets bitten by a radioactive spider and doesn’t realize she’s turning into a superhero, because she figures it’s all just symptoms of perimenopause.

    2. Asenath*

      Not to worry, because some women don’t have bad symptoms, and even welcome menopause because it means the end of their periods.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        After I stopped so did all the symptoms. I was so much more comfortable, it was just such a relief. The run up was not fun, But I am living proof that those cold hard stops to symptoms can happen.

    3. JSPA*

      I’d have front-loaded my life harder (work AND family AND travel AND learning). Plenty of time to play games and be on the internet when it’s 4 am, your sheets are soaked, and tomorrow will look just the same, for months or years. If you have an easy transition instead (many do!) no harm done. I assumed that my brain, at least, would be similar or better at age 35, 45, 55. But mess with the sleep, and everything gets out of whack.

      Also, don’t let peri- and menopause be either not a potential diagnosis… nor the only diagnosis.

      Half of my peri effects turned out to be something else that would have been highly treatable. And I underwent heart and sleep apnea and all kinds of other tests for what turned out to be, mostly menopause.

    4. cutekoala*

      I’m also young (late twenties), and I’m on hormone therapy. Many people don’t start thinking about hormones until levels tank, and then they assume it’s “part of aging.” Don’t be afraid to find a reputable doctor and get some hormonal support if things are not going well, symptom-wise.

      (I also recommend that if you feel generally good at this age – get a hormone panel done and keep it on file as a personal baseline for future reference.)

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      That it is possible to have both pimples and wrinkles at the same time, and that the products marketed to teens for the former can wreak havoc on your skin. Also that it really does feel a lot like puberty in reverse, what with the mood swings, unpredictable periods, and random bouts of exhaustion.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Amen on the mood swings!! My two girls were teenagers when I was going through it, and I always said God must have a sense of humor to put two teenage girls and a menopausal mother in the same household. There were weeks my husband and son threatened to go to a motel.

      2. Girasol*

        Anxiety can be a symptom. I thought I was going nuts! But once I learned it was just peri I learned to stop and think, “I feel scared. Am I scared about something that would not have bothered me a year ago? Then it’s just peri anxiety. It’ll go away in a little while if I don’t make a big deal out of worrying about it.”

        1. JSPA*

          Ditto not panicking just because your heart is racing, your sheets are wet, and you are wide awake like someone zapped you with a cattle prod. Sleep on a towel, under a towel, and redefine the symptoms as “normal,” and its easier to fall asleep again.

    6. Russian in Texas*

      Insomnia! it really started as a part of the PMS in the late 30th, and now I am getting in to my mid-40s, it ramped up.
      And my legs get restless and feel like stretching, a lot.
      And the way your cycle can go from 24 to 42 days, and good luck planning!
      Also, the pimples are back.

      1. Girasol*

        Ditto on insomnia. I tried melatonin at first and it didn’t help a bit, but a year later I tried it again and it was wonderfully effective.

      2. JSPA*

        Make that, 19 to 60 days, randomly. And nearly nothing, to “5 times more than ever before, and all at once.”

    7. PhyllisB*

      Just know that not everyone’s journey isn’t the same. I hear most women have a slowdown of period frequency; mine were like clockwork until they… stopped. Then one year later I had one more and that was it. Also, if you decide to seek relief for symptoms, the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. It’s been years, so don’t remember what I took, but it was a pill I took daily like you take birth control. It made me bleed for three weeks and stop for one. So I tried the shots. They worked better, but after I had three of them, my doctor’s office informed me my insurance didn’t cover them. (They knew this from the beginning but didn’t have the courtesy to tell me!!) So I decided to tough it out. My theory was women have been doing this for centuries without medical help so I could, too.
      The main thing was the hot flashes. The letter the other day about menopause symptoms in the office brought back memories, because I would be sitting at my desk and suddenly…so I would start fanning. I took some good natured ribbing about it, but I just reminded my co-worker (small office) she would be going through this one day.
      Bottom line, just be prepared for anything, and if you seek medical help, MAKE SURE your insurance covers the option you choose.

    8. English Rose*

      That for all the difficulties many women have, that isn’t always the case. For me, the whole transition was very straightforward, and so, so freeing.
      Periods tapered off quite quickly. I did have hot flushes (still have one or two a day) and found that natural fibres and layers to take on and off are your friend. But even those flashes felt constructive, like they were burning away parts of my past to make way for an exciting future.
      And there’s something also about the physical elements of menopause that for me mirrored more mental/social freedom. There’s a meme knocking around of Helen Mirren who is supposed to have said of her youth that she wishes she’d said ‘fuck off’ more often. That’s definitely part of the freedom of growing older for me!

      1. Generic+Name*

        Oooh, I love this way of thinking about hot flashes! I heard a woman refer to hers as power surges, which I like as well.

      2. Clisby*

        Yes. I had my 2nd child when I was 48, had a year of Depo-Provera injections and then an IUD – my monthly periods were complete over after he was born. Aside from that, I had no obvious symptoms of menopause; I wasn’t even sure it was over until my doctor ordered a hormone test.

      3. MJ*

        My experience is pretty non-eventful. After having a large fibroid removed from my uterus in my early 40s, I had an IUD (coil) put in to reduce the likelihood of additional fibroids. I was happy the my periods completely stopped. :)

        When I discussed with a new doctor whether I needed to replace the coil again in my early 50s, she said it likely wasn’t necessary. I haven’t had any periods after the last coil was removed and have only experienced “warm glows” instead of hot flushes. I feel a bit warmer for a few minutes – which usually just means taking off a sweater but not dripping with sweat.

        I also haven’t noticed mood swings – nor have those around me said anything. So everyone’s experience is different.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      I wrote about the bladder issues.

      I wish I had known that estrogen – or the lack thereof – can affect the bladder because it sure doesn’t seem like any doctor I have seen knows that. I have spent a lot of $$ seeing a lot of docs, including a urologist, and having wands stuck up my hoo-ha, only to be told that I just need to – shrug – train my bladder by not letting it be the boss of me.

      If you start having what appear to be a bunch of UTIs only it’s not UTIs, google “interstitial cystitis.”

      You won’t find a solution (indeed, you will probably just want to sob at the realization that here is yet another medical condition that affects women for which there is not only not a cure but there is also not even apparently any research), but at least you will know you are not imagining things.

      1. WellRed*

        I complained about the lack of options for womens health conditions politely to my gyn yesterday in a phone consultation to discuss my extremely limited options to treat a large uterine fibroid I just learned I had.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          But thank goodness we have multiple options to treat erectile dysfunction, the number one killer of men worldwide.

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

            Omg, you got me on the flooooor.

            Chiming in to add that apparently early trials of Viagra showed it might help with menstrual cramps, but literally nobody cared enough to do further studies on that particular use– can’t imagine why! (&#$!-mouth emoji)

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        How does one go about training a bladder? Do I give her a cookie and tell her she’s a good girl if I manage a dry sneeze in public? (I find it much simpler to repress the sneezes, honestly.)

        1. Texan In Exile*

          :) I was peeing all the time and peeing only small amounts. The urologist said I had trained my bladder (or that my bladder had trained me) that I would respond immediately, even to small amounts. (This was after I had been scoped and he had found no irregularities in my bladder and that I had normal capacity.)

          Anyhow, he said that every time I felt the urge to pee to wait five minutes. After a few days, wait ten minutes. Then after a few days, 15, etc, until I was approaching normal wait times that normal women experience.

          I don’t know if this process works for sneezing! I have never given birth, so I do not face those bladder challenges. :)

          1. ThatGirl*

            Kegels can also help. I am 41 and occasionally leak a little when I sneeze, despite never giving birth.

            1. fposte*

              Though a caution there–for a lot of people with IC pelvic hypertonia is an issue, and kegels can make that worse.

            2. Cj*

              yep, me too. I thought I try and she goes but never have. now that I’m over 60 it’s gotten worse and maybe I’ll give them a shot.

            3. SallyAnn*

              The other thing that surprisingly can cause stress leakage (peeing when sneezing, etc) is “hovering” over the toilet seat to pee, instead of sitting down. (I’ll post a link)

              If it’s a strange toilet, just put paper on the seat and sit down.

      3. fposte*

        Fist bump to fellow IC sufferer. Fortunately I have a good urogyn these days. Though honestly I’m hearing a lot of young women and many men who have it too; it’s just that it does, with me, seem to have been kicked into high gear by my going off of estrogen.

      4. Pieismyreligion*

        This is the first time I’ve seen someone else talk about what I’ve experienced. My Gyno (who I love) was so “yeah that happens” when I brought up the constant false-UTIs I was experiencing.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Greetings to fposte and Pieismyreligion! (And anyone else suffering from otherwise unexplained frequent bladder pain/discomfort.) I, too, have never met anyone else suffering from IC.

          And I didn’t even learn about it from my doc. :( I had to do my own research. I feel almost like I did when I had to learn about food triggers for my migraines from the drug rehab clinic acupuncturist who treated me after the neurologist threw her hands in the air and said she didn’t know what was causing my headaches.

          Like – shouldn’t step one for all of these problems (my mom, at age 79, after years and years of IBS, has just learned she is gluten intolerant) be – “Try eliminating certain foods from your diet and see what happens. Introduce them back one by one and track your body’s response. Keep a diary.”

          Also. No doc has ever said the words “AZO” to me. To anyone suffering from bladder discomfort: Get yourself to Walgreen’s right now and stock up on AZO (or the store brand – it’s cheaper and just as good) right now. Keep a strip in your purse. It will be your best friend.

          And to the medical research funding world: Women are 50% of the population. Our bodies and men’s bodies are different down to the cellular level. Would you please start funding some research for our bodies? Do it for your mothers, if nothing else. Do you want them to die of an undiagnosed heart attack? Or not to have pain medication because the drugs work on male bodies but not on theirs?

    10. RagingADHD*

      That perimenopause is so wierd, and can go on so long, that you just can’t wait for it to be over.

      Ten freaking years. It’s not awful or horrific in any way, it’s just so obnoxious.

      And when I do start missing periods, I can’t be sure why, because there’s always the outside chance it’s a late-surprise baby, so I’m gonna have to pee on a stick.

      Most of my friends my age are done, and I’m so ready to be done, and I was not expecting that. I was expecting to be conflicted.

      1. biding time*

        heh, yeah. In elementary school, one of my daughter’s friends became a surprise! big brother when the mum mistook the very mild pregnancy symptoms she was having for the very real perimenopause symptoms she was having. Surprise!

    11. Chilipepper Attitude*

      That doctors don’t seem to know much about it, even the ones who say they do! So continue to do your own research.

    12. biding time*

      how bloody long it can last, and how it can ruin your life. I’m on year 7 of nightly sleep disruptions, and while it’s better than year 1, I’ve got a ways to go. I’ve also aged out of HRT, which was a life saver at the time.

    13. KoiFeeder*

      Technically not menopause, just an estrogen blocker, but man I would’ve liked to know that it causes an uptick in anxiety. I had a valid reason to suddenly have a lot more anxiety, so it might not’ve been that, but it still would’ve been nice to know.

    14. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      I had two trips to the ER for flutters in my chest before I knew they were a Menopause symptom! I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry but I had never heard they were a symptom.

    15. let's communicate*

      All the various symptoms of peri menopause that I experienced gave me anxiety. I have existing health issues so it felt unclear if my health issues were worsening or it was something new. I had 2 gynecologists who were super blasé about it all and it was not supportive to me. I tried to roll with the punches at first but the let’s wait and see approach from my Dr’s was very stressful.
      Finally, I got a referral to an amazing gynecologist from my primary care physician, and it is night and day. Dr. Parker is compassionate, fully explains things and explores my assumptions about why I expected peri menopause to be a certain way. My care has not changed at all but now I have very little stress since I understand how and why my course of treatment was decided upon. I feel such relief and support knowing I can email Dr. Parker and get answers and more options if needed. Please look for better care if you need to. It is worth it!

    16. Sister George Michael*

      Go to a gyn who is an expert on menopause. In the US, you can find a doctor who has a certification from the North American Menopause Society.

    17. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      It’s very much not a one-size-fits-all situation. What I thought was finally menopause because I was bleeding constantly, in my late 50s, turned out to be endometrial cancer, so my menopause was surgical with an extremely thorough hysterectomy, with no hot flashes or mood swings. But my body was still cranking out estrogen, because ten years later I got breast cancer, very high estrogen markers. I’d been on the pill just one year when I was around 20! I seem to have my own high-powered internal hormone factory, and I’ve still never had any menopause symptoms.

    18. Dwight Schrute*

      Thank you all for sharing! It’s unfortunate that the symptoms are so shrugged off and that you will *once again* have to do a lot of leg work for your doctor.

    19. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      On a moderately trivial note – I was unaware of just how much my inner cat would break through, and when I saw Wiry! Whiskers! On older women, I judgementally thought ‘why don’t they pull those out?’ NOW I understand that for lots of women ‘whisker patrol’ is a never ending process. I carry tweezers in my bag and am always excited by a new mirror that shows up some that were not there half an hour previously. The car rear vision mirror can be a shocker. At first they were only black whiskers but now are mostly white. The white ones are harder to see as one’s eyesight deteriorates…
      However, I have recently seen an increase in facial ‘threading’ services – haven’t ever had my eyebrows done or anything like that – but that appeals to me as a very low tech but efficient thing to try.

      1. allathian*

        After my pregnancy I got facial hair, and I get it sugared off about once every six weeks. Thankfully it’s blond although I’m brunette, so people don’t see it unless they get up in my face.

    20. Chauncy Gardener*

      Raspberry leaf tea! It really took the edge off my hot flashes and moods. And then it turns out it helps with period cramps. Good stuff

    21. anonogyn*

      I’m a women’s health provider with lots of letters after my name. Part of the perimenopause talk is that one of the abiding mysteries of my life is how different it is for different women. It just stops. It stretches out with protracted bleeding. They get closer together and the bleeding pattern shifts (light or spotting for a day then bleeding like stink for a day and a half and then more spotting). We can use hormones to help or ride it out. The bladder thing is very real and as the vaginal skin thins the bladder goes places. It sits on top of the lower uterus and upper vagina. Libido alters as testosterone levels can change. I tell my folk that is they are waiting for the “look across the room and go hmmm” moment they may get less common. The North American Menopause Society has great evidence based recommendations. “Baseline” levels for hormones are not very useful as the normal levels fluctuate so much in the course of a month.

    22. NaoNao*

      The go-to period solution may not work anymore. This was really frustrating and I haven’t found a solution yet. My go-to of tampons, that I’d been using for 25+ years, isn’t working in a couple really unpleasant ways (one of which is merely discomfort no matter what brand, size, etc). Really any “internal” solutions aren’t working, as I occasionally would use discs on the lighter days since they can be worn for 12 hours. Those were uncomfortable and weren’t effective. So cup enthusiasts, please have a seat :)

      I’m not sure what changed and have been keeping up with yearly pelvics and nothing is notable to the gyno so I suspect it’s two small fibroids + changes due to aging.

      I had to try out different things and have settled on mostly period underwear if I’m WFH or at home, and pads if I’m traveling or at the office as I can’t change out undies quickly and comfortably (and taking home worn pairs in luggage or a handbag is an absolute non starter!)
      I wasn’t really prepared for how angry and frustrated it made me. There’s some key aspects of these period solutions that are unpleasant and uncomfortable for me, and nothing is really working 100%.

      Now…that’s not to say that this will be your life! But just be prepared.

  21. RMNPgirl*

    I have a cat I adopted 2 1/2 months ago. He’s 8 years old and was obviously neglected in his previous house. We are still working on showing affection being okay (although a lot of progress in the last week or two) as well as trusting me with things. One thing that is not going to work is him letting me trim claws so I made an appointment with the groomer. Because he can be spicy (hissy and growly when unhappy) they suggested gabapentin might help.
    Has anyone used gabapentin with their cats before? Did it help calm them down? I would have to get a liquid form to be able to give it to him, but it looks like that’s available from what I’ve seen online.

    1. Cure the FOMO*

      My dog takes that before he goes to the vet (he’s a monster). I believe more than anything it’s a painkiller, because he’s reactive to minor pain like injections. It is easier to give dogs pills so I can’t comment on that angle, but it doesn’t radically change his behavior. A vet can also clip cat nails when requested, especially if you’d have to make an appointment to get the prescription anyway. I have taken my long haired cat to the groomer before though when I also wanted her bathed and brushed out.

    2. TPS reporter*

      gabapentin really helped mellow out one of my cats who came from an indoor feral situation. she would not get near us for like a year and just hated the vet. she doesn’t need it regularly anymore.

      she did eat the pill inside of a pill pocket or sprinkled in her favorite treat.

      you can try clipping by doing a half scruffing situation. you would need two people. with one of my cats who is very averse to being picked up, I (while wearing thick sleeves) scruff her with one hand then lift her torso with the other. her feet stay on the ground. then my partner runs in to clip very quickly.

      1. Belle*

        We used it for our cat at the recommendation of our vet. It was liquid and we squirted it on some wet food. It was a game changer for him! Made him more calm for the appointments and his anxiety was way lower. Highly recommend!

    3. Works for anxious cat*

      Yes, gabapentin has helped a lot with my older, anxious cat. I get it from the vet in capsule form, and open the capsule to sprinkle the powder in her food. Sometimes I need to mix it with a little cat broth and give it to her in a syringe. She does okay without it now so if we are away overnight and miss a dose it’s not the end of the world, and we give it once per day instead of twice as originally prescribed, but she is definitely less high strung when she is taking it regularly.

    4. Deschain*

      My 18-year-old cat takes 25 mg of Gabapentin twice a day. We have it compounded at a local pharmacy, and he takes it inside a salmon-flavored pill pocket. He takes it mostly for arthritis, but it is also very helpful for anxiety and car sickness. We tried many vet-approved meds over the years to keep him from getting sick in the car, and Gabapentin is the only thing that actually worked. You could also give him Gabapentin and then try cutting his nails at home. We typically do the front and back feet on different days because it’s just easier to do half the job sometimes! The back feet tend to be easier in both my cats.

      Gabapentin is great, but it’s not necessarily enough to overcome a cat’s dislike or anxiety of being taken out of his home, driven across town, and then touched by strangers. Professional groomers don’t necessarily make it any easier for them. A tip I picked up from my vet is to alternate methods depending on the mood of our kitty on that particular day: some cats find it easier to be held (my husband stands up holding the kitty while I trim the nails) and some find it easier to sit on a table with someone gently holding them in place.

    5. Manders*

      I absolutely must give my monster cat Bruce gabapentin before going to the vet – one pill the night before, one about an hour or so before the appointment. Pills are better for me than liquid because with a liquid, 90% of it ends up on the floor/bed/me/cat, and not down the hatch.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Yes, was highly encouraged by our vet for both cats after one demonstrated the flight response and the other demonstrated the fight response. Ours came in capsules that you pull apart & sprinkle the powder on their food. It worked for us, although because we have two cats, it was hard to make sure they each got the right dose.

      Flight!Cat sometimes drools a lot and hyperventilates in the car. She seemed calmer. Fight!Cat has unfortunately learned that teeth means the humans will disengage, so immediately went to teeth at the vet. (Also she’s weirdly strong for a cat and just. Resists everything they do?) She was much more mellow at the vet. Honestly, what I can compare it to is having a bit of wine.

      At first I was a little embarrassed that the cats need it, but they seemed soooo much calmer at the last vet visit.

    7. Blomma*

      Gabapentin helped my cat immensely! She had to go to the vet at least 10x in a 5 month period because of a medical issue and that was just too much for her. Our vet referred to her as “extra spicy” and said that she had to have gabapentin in order to be seen. It was a much less stressful experience for cat and vet staff!

    8. cat socks*

      I’ve used gabapentin before taking my cats to the specialty vet hospital. It’s around a 30 minute drive and the vet noticed a difference when taking the meds. It was safe to use with my cat who had a heart condition. It affected my cat with kidney disease a bit stronger. I had to reduce her dosage a bit. My vet used it with her cats when she made a cross-country move.

    9. Red Sky*

      No judgement, but why do you need to trim his claws? I know it’s common these days, but if it’s a scratching furniture issue there are other options (scratching posts, sticky tape etc) that would be less traumatic for both the cat and person doing the trimming.

      If he’s scratching people, that needs to be addressed directly by either respecting his signals and boundaries or figuring out if there’s something behavioral or medical going on.

      I’ve had and fostered many cats for over 40 yrs and the only time I’ve needed to trim claws was a hospice kitty who couldn’t use scratching pads/posts to maintain his claws and it was impacting his quality of life.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I was going to say this! Eve goes full-on feral when she feels trapped (the last time the mobile vet was here, their assistant had to literally lie flat on the floor with Eve pinned underneath her while the vet gave her shots from the side) so her claws are only cut when the vet is here (and only when they can manage to do it, which is not every time). It’s fine!

      2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        My cats have and use scratchy boxes, but that hasn’t been enough to stop their claws getting very sharp and pointy, so that eventually their claws catch in the carpet when they are running about and sometimes they even need help getting unhooked.
        My black cat had opaque panther claws and did not like having her paws touched, so that meant a quarterly mani-pedi by a vet nurse. My other cat will let me trim the points off her claws when the stars are in alignment and she is lying on her back on my lap and is almost asleep and I have the clippers handy.

      3. Monroe*

        They can also get ingrown if they grow too long. My last cat had a claw that grew into almost a complete circle, though luckily it didn’t grow into her paw pad.

      4. RMNPgirl*

        1 – because they can grow and curve back into the paw. We had that happen with my cat growing up and it was cutting into his paw pad.
        2 – my cat, when feeling affectionate, loves to knead me. I would rather not get stabbed with multiple tiny needles in my stomach (they’re sharp enough to go through clothes). And I can’t do the caps because he goes outside so he needs his claws for defense.
        3 – The groomer is also going to be cutting his fur because his stomach is all tangled and he won’t let me brush it out. But it needs to be taken care of because it’s causing issues with mats forming.

    10. Kittee*

      I would be very cautious about the dose of gabapentin. The dose our vet recommended for pre-nail cutting was way too big, it knocked our cat our for days. Maybe start small and see how the beastie is affected.

    11. Cj*

      our cat was recently on gabapentin because of glaucoma. it made him really Spacey and wobbly, and there was no way we wanted to continue giving it to him everyday. but for something like a trip to the groomers as an occasional thing, it seems like it would be fine.

    12. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Yup Gabapentin works wonders. For some reason my old cat Precious suddenly went wild at the vet. She never did that before we moved. We don’t know exactly why but she did have to stay at the vet overnight once and that might have been traumatic for her. We would give her gabapentin before her vet appointments so they could actually examine her.

      Now I have 2 long haired cats that need to get shaved once a year and the vet automatically recommended the gabapentin, even though they are really good at the vets. They say it calms them down, being that it can be stressful for cats at the groomer.

    13. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Also, pill pockets work, they make them for cats. Its a treat that goes around the pill. Otherwise my vet just had us open the capsul and put it in their food.

  22. cutekoala*

    I found this question originally on Reddit r/books, and I liked the answers so much, so I am bringing it here: what book by the same author is better than the book the author is famous for?

    example- LM Montgomery is famous for Anne of Green Gables, but this question is how I found The Blue Castle (which is awesome)!

    I’m personally interested in classics, although please answer freely for other commenters :)

    1. fposte*

      Charlotte Brontë, Villette.
      Jane Austen, Persuasion. (Austen may not be fair because all her main works are pretty well known.)

      1. CharlieBrown*

        But I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed Northanger Abbey! It’s her take on the Gothic novel.

          1. IT Manager*

            I … really like Mansfield Park. Probably my second favorite, after Persuasion.

            I like the characters, and I like that they actually do bad things and therefore the social punishment they get is actually merited, vs say, Lizzie Bennett. And I like that Fannie is ostensibly such an impossibly good girl but really she’s just a love struck teenager with predicable weaknesses like most of us, even to the point of liking Crawford after all despite all her hard evidence of his real character. And really, all her scenes of having to watch her crush flirt with another woman, oblivious to her, are terribly relatable.

            And I like that Aunt Norris finally gets hers.

            1. fposte*

              I think it’s a fine thing to like, and I’m very glad some people really want to go to bat for it! It’s just less common (and a few people do it just to be contrarian, but that’s true of everything).

            2. AcademiaNut*

              I love Mansfield Park! I do read it with the view that Fanny is more a viewpoint watching everyone else’s behaviour than a protagonist. And everyone in it is flawed in some way including Fanny. She has good morals, but lacks action. She has a very hard time standing up for herself (understandable, as she was taken in by charity and constantly told she’s less than her cousins). A simple “I’m not marrying a man who I just watched spend six months flirting shamelessly with both of my cousins, including the married one” would have solved a lot of problems. But mostly, she does what she is told without complaint and suffers in silence, waiting for Edmund to notice and do something about it.

              1. IT Manager*

                OMG, yes. After this exchange above I decided to have a little read, and I opened Mansfield Park at random and read the part when Sir Thomas asks her why she doesn’t want to marry Crawford and she’s thinking the whole thing about not throwing her cousins under the bus and I was just like “just say it! Say it!!!”

                Back in English class I had a teacher who was all about “engaging with the material” but I don’t think he meant like that :-)

      2. Buni*

        Charlotte Bronte ‘Shirley’ – it’s the only Bronte book of all of them that’s actually made me laugh out loud.

      3. Weegie*

        Agree with Persuasion – definitely the best of Austen’s novels (although I like them all).

        I will add Wilkie Collins’ Armadale, which has THE BEST villainess of all time! And a beautifully complex plot involving duplicate identities, which is what just gives it the edge over No Name.

    2. Workerbee*

      I love The Blue Castle!
      I used to absorb the Anne stories, and grew up in the Megan Follows era of the miniseries, but these days I find the long-winded raptures tiring and annoying. Which I didn’t expect.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I’ve posted this one before in response to something else, but Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis is a very dark and complicated take on the myth of Eros and Psyche.

      His sci-fi trilogy is also surprisingly sophisticated and totally insane (in a good way) if all you know of him is Narnia.

      Book 1: Dances With Wolves with nerds…in space.

      Book 2: A nerd stumbles into the Garden of Eden…in space.

      Book 3: Evil aliens infiltrate Earth via a pseudoscientific, politicized think tank, and must be fought off by the underground heir to King Arthur, assisted by semi-sentient animals, some nerds, and a resurrected Merlin.

      There is an entire chapter told from the POV of a bear. It’s a ride.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Wholeheartedly agree! These are my more favorite books of his, even tho I also love Narnia.

        1. RagingADHD*

          My favorite moment is when the female protagonist is completely vulnerable and in danger, her survival instincts kick in, and suddenly she realizes that she absolutely does not care about any of this philosophy or politics or being on the correct “side.” She just wants to be away from the Nasty people and find the Nice people.

          I think about that one a lot.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Maybe not BETTER, but I rather love Arthur Conan Doyle’s The White Company. Just a delightful medieval adventure story, fun and light and full of larger than life characters. And not a single bit like Sherlock Holmes.

      In similar vein of “wait, the same person wrote that?!”, The Ugly Duckling by A.A. Milne. Again, hard to say it’s better though.

    5. IT Manager*

      Oooh, great question.

      Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has a wonderful YA series Gregor The Overlander that deserves much more attention!!!

      I learned this while chaperoning a middle school dance and checking in on a boy who was sitting in the corner reading instead of dancing. He was right – though Hunger Games is superb, this is (different and) better.

      1. Loud Thinker*

        Absolutely agree. And as a bonus, Gregor is likely (based on textual clues) a POC, which is a nice bonus because there is a real representation problem with kid lit.

        1. one of the meg murrys*

          Absolutely love the Gregor series, which my adult son and I have been talking about re-reading. It’s younger and less bleak/relentless than HG, but still very intense. Nuanced variations on tropes like reluctant hero’s journey, plus cool giant intelligent animals. I remember my son (at 9ish) and I both sobbing over the death of one particular character late in the series, and we’re still not over it!

          1. IT Manager*

            I know exactly what scene you mean because I still get choked up thinking about it. Seriously good writing that we’re all sobbing over ….well, you know!!

    6. 00ff00Claire*

      I love the Blue Castle! I can’t think of any off the top of my head that are classics, but I think Stephanie Meyer’s The Host was better than Twilight. And Scott Westerfeld is more known for his Uglies series, but I liked the Leviathan series better.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      Ken Kesey – Sometimes A Great Notion is better than One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (it’s also longer and more challenging stylistically so I’m guessing that’s a big reason it’s not as well known)

    8. Double A*

      “Point Counterpoint” by Aldous Huxley. Great characters! Not scifi at all.

      I also love “A Far Cry from Kensington” and “Memento Mori” by Muriel Spark the most, more than The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Though I love all her stuff.

      Not sure if Doris Lesing is primarily known by one book though though The Golden Notebook is probably it, but The Diaries of Jane Somers are my favorite of hers.

      I mean and Franny and Zoey by JD Salinger changed my life when I read it in high school, definitely think that one’s better than Catcher.

      1. fposte*

        Memento Mori is great. I read it in sequence with Barbara Pym’s Quartet in Autumn and Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont and I think I’ll go back and do that again–it was a great trio about aging.

    9. Quality Girl*

      By a very, very slim margin: Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! is better than My Antonia (in my opinion)

    10. RagingADHD*

      Oh, thought of another one. Margery Allingham is known for her classic-cozy sleuth Campion, but in the 60s she came out with a fascinating near-future or “hidden innovation” type sci fi about a couple of schoolboys who invent a telepathy device as a science project.

      It is eerily prescient of the worst social effects of the internet and social media. It may not be better than her best mysteries like Tiger in the Smoke, but it has far more important themes than most of her lighthearted stuff, and is so engrossing it’s impossible to put down. It’s a crying shame it is not better known.

    11. A Becky*

      Elizabeth Gaskell – North and South is *miles* better than Cranford. (The BBC miniseries is pretty rad too).

  23. Still*

    Seconding Becky Chambers. And although Thursday Murder Club is technically a cosy crime, it’s one of the first books that came to mind because it really is incredibly warm and cosy.

  24. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I get to treat a friend to lunch as a belated birthday treat to her.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My son’s knee surgery went *astonishingly* well and I got to take him back to school at last.

      Based on previous joint surgeries I expected a week lost to pain/narcotics, and he didn’t have much pain, never touched the narcotics, and was off the crutches in a few days.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      We were able to find a charity that was willing to accept a donation of 2 homes’ worth of furniture and household items. They picked up yesterday, so our house is no longer a storage unit for our late relatives’ belongings. It is nice to have the space back, but even nicer to think that their things can now be put to good use.

    3. fposte*

      I went kayaking with a friend who was pretty new to it, and she had a great time and would like to do it again. And the day was just beautiful–we went out on a very pretty lake, and it was one of those days where the lake is a little ripply and the sun makes it just sparkle.

    4. CharlieBrown*

      I’ve been working on a new photography project for October whose focus is to see what is usually not seen. So far, I’ve been able to get out every day on a photo safari (except for last Saturday), have 40 photos posted to my photo gallery so far, and still have about 30 photos to edit and add. I hope to get out every day for the rest of the month.

      This has actually been a big joy!

        1. CharlieBrown*

          Thank you!

          It turns out that fire hydrants (as well as a lot of other infrastructure elements) can be quite interesting if you’re willing to get up close and look at the details.

          Also, the light is so dramatic at this time of year, becomes on a sunny afternoon, it comes in at a really low angle. It leads to all sorts of lovely shadows just about everywhere. (I saw a recycling dumpster that was quite dramatically lit by a random shaft of sunlight. It was like something out of a renaissance painting.)

          And of course, I always like to get behind buildings. I live in an area with a lot of small strips malls and other businesses, and while the fronts of the buildings are designed to be a marketing pieces, what happens in the back is another story.

          Also, I’m intensely interested in the geometry of straight lines and non-right angles, so buildings and dramatic light have my eyes going everywhere this time of year.

          Of course, all this interest means I’m the weird guy lying on the ground taking a picture of a water valve, but so be it. It’s no stranger than taking a selfie while in line at the pharmacy, I think.

          1. fposte*

            That sounds really amazing. I drive by a scene regularly that is less about shape than context, but it’s going through flat farm fields, which are high with crops right now, with a green verge, so miles of gold and green, gold and green, and then on the edge of one there is inexplicably a bright red fire hydrant. Makes me laugh.

    5. Voluptuousfire*

      Had a wisdom tooth removed and it went really smoothly. The only real pain I had felt like a low grade sinus pressure headache. I wonder if the wonky tooth may have caused some of the headaches?

      Also found a local music venue sells pierogis. This is now my favorite venue ever.

    6. Girasol*

      A long bike ride on the greenbelt by the river where all the leaves are turning, and an ice cream after.

    7. PsychNurse*

      It’s getting cold in New England and I put an electric blanket on my bed. That’s where I am right now!

    8. WellRed*

      Spent the weekend with old school friends at a family camp first time since 2019. Beautiful fall weather and color, fire pit and laughed ourselves silly the way you do with old friends.

    9. Rara+Avis*

      I’m actually working today at a big school event that I haven’t enjoyed much in the past, but this year I pushed pretty hard for my club to sponsor a booth, and the kids are doing an amazing job. And I’m loving just hanging out with them.

    10. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Today while shopping, I had friendly chats with three random strangers. One liked my car and asked about it, another shared my enthusiasm for the autumn mum planters, and a lady gave me a cart as I walked up to tell her I loved her purple hair.

    11. Flowers*

      My “little” joys are mostly work related so don’t think I can post on today’s post. (Maybe that should be a Friday post? hmmm) But now that I think about it, one joy I had earlier was that I wore this specific hoodie after…2 years? It was very tight around the neck and I usually feel suffocated by anything touching my neck so for 2 years I haven’t worn any hoodie that doesn’t zip up. I lost about 6-8 lbs over the last 6 weeks and when I put it on, I no longer felt like ripping it off. I have a long way to go but I finally felt a difference in my clothes, however small.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      There’s a quarterly online music festival I attend and it’s this weekend. Originally created in response to the pandemic for musicians who couldn’t tour, it includes daytime workshops and even concerts by the instructors. It’s so enriching to be able to take workshops online from musicians I would never have the opportunity to learn from otherwise. It’s so fun, and my playing has definitely improved taking these workshops the last couple years.

    13. I take tea*

      I’ve been to a concert and a play this week. Live cultural stuff, how I have missed you! I am very impressed by all online stuff I have seen, but live is just another type of energy. Also you notice different things live.

    14. StellaBella*

      I have a couple of days off and am in a place by the sea with warm water. Have to go back north on Monday but am enjoying this break so much.

    15. Angstrom*

      Went to a classic New England fall agricultural fair. As a former 4-H kid, it delights me to see youngsters working with teams of oxen and other livestock.

  25. Overeducated*

    Recipe request soon! I’m hosting a big group for a lunch soon and am not sure what to make given the requirements:

    1) gluten free, or easy to sub in a storebought gluten free option (e.g. a bag of GF buns or pasta)

    2) doesn’t require cooking or reheating a lot of components before serving – we’ll be returning from an outdoor activity with several toddlers and the clock will be ticking toward nap time. We have one instant pot to keep something warm, but that’s it.

    All I’ve got so far is spaghetti and meatballs (with a GF option, hoping the time to cook pasta isn’t too long for the kids); taco bar, which will be easy to prep but longer to serve and messier to eat; or a more ambitious pulled pork, Mac and cheese, veg sides type BBQ meal. Probably avoiding chili because that’s what the last hosts made. Any brilliant ideas?

    1. Alex*

      How about a soup, salad, sandwiches lunch? Soup in the crockpot while you are out, salads (green, fruit, something like potato or bean) pre-prepped, and a make-your-own sandwiches bar with gluten free bread options?

      1. Overeducated*

        That sounds good and simple, but that makes me realize a third requirement not listed – one plate or bowl per person! sorry! The group is big enough and my home is small enough that not everyone will fit around a table, and I suspect some adults will eat standing.

        Maybe make your own sandwiches with a warm option like crockpot meatballs could work, though !

        1. Russian in Texas*

          You can do a meatball sandwich with a side salad like pasta, potatoe, bean, etc, that they can fit on one plate. Like in a deli.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The pulled pork, mac n cheese, sides thing sounds really good.

      While I have not used this feature on my oven, I believe it has a thing where I could put a dish of mac n cheese in it, program the oven to turn itself on to 350 in 2 hours, and leave? It works for anything you would cook low and slow.

      1. JSPA*

        big bowl creamy cucumber dill salad in fridge, big german potato salad (reheat in microwave or hold in crock pot), several sorts of cheese, crackers and GF crackers. They all play well together, but people can manage to avoid carbs, avoid dairy, avoid meat, and still have a reasonable meal.

        Beware gluten in many prepared meats and sauces!

    3. AcademiaNut*

      You could go the cold salad route – chicken salad, potato salad, coleslaw, gluten free pasta salad, fruit salad, Greek salad, etc. More prep work, but no cooking or assembling needed.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I would provide separate, buffet-style food for the toddlers that can be served cold or individually reheated in a microwave. That way, parents can feed their kids immediately if they want to, and they can select whatever their particular child will eat. Options would be things like apple sauce, soft tortillas or white bread (with GF options), hummus, peanut butter, carrot sticks, apple slices, simple cheese, tuna, white meat chicken or turkey, chips or pretzels. Obviously you don’t need all of these. If you think they want hot food, make some white rice or some mac and cheese in advance and let them warm it up as needed.

      For the adults, you could have almost any kind of meat and veggie soup, which would be naturally GF, and provide noodles or dumplings on the side if you must. Add a build-your-own sandwich bar, a nice salad and some fruit and you’re all set. Stew also can easily be made GF, and if it’s packed with potatoes or another GF starch you really don’t need sandwiches with it. Add some grilled marinated vegetables on the side if you’re feeling fancy.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Ah, one plate per person. If people are eating standing up, I’d avoid soup as the main dish. How about rice or polenta (both of which can be prepped in advance and cooked in about 20-30 minutes, which is how long it will take people to unwrap and feed their toddlers), with a nice hearty stew in the instant pot and some crusty bread on the side?

    5. HannahS*

      -Bagels, lox, cream cheese, a big salad, and a plate of veggies for the sandwich? Nothing needs to be heated, everything can be prepped in advance except dressing the salad

    6. Lcsa99*

      You didn’t say if you need dessert too, but if so, flourless chocolate cookies work nicely! Being flourless they are automatically gluten free. The recipe we have is delicious and they last forever. Just make sure you use parchment paper when baking them because they really love to stick. Recipe link to follow!

    7. Everdene*

      My go to would be something like moroccan quinoa. You can eat it hot, warm or cold, its vegan and gf and really tasty. Use the instant pot to have something like pulled lamb for those that want it or just sausages. Serve with flat bread (with gf option), hummous etc. Bonus if you have leftovers as it keeps for a few days.

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

      As a sweet side salad or dessert, the salad that combines

      Canned mandarin orange slices (drained)
      Canned pineapple chunks (drained)
      Sour cream

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Pulled pork in the crockpot (already pulled and just keeping warm) and then a make your own burrito or taco spread? All the other things can be already prepped and in the fridge ready to go

    10. The Bookworm*

      Late to this party, but when I had an event with similar requirements, I did a baked potato bar with (GF) pulled pork as the heavy protein topper. Easy to prep lots of other toppings (scallions, sour cream, bacon bits, cheese) and shove them in the fridge. You can prebake the potatoes and keep them (individually foil-wrapped is probably easiest) warm in an Instant Pot, and then microwave your already-made pulled pork.

  26. Blueberry Jazz*

    We’re traveling to Martinique in January. I’ve done some research and have come up with an itinerary for a roadtrip. Do you know of any subreddits or other websites where I can get some opinions of fellow travelers and/or locals if it’s doable/logical?
    The Martinique subreddit seems to be local news only, and the TripAdvisor forum’s dead. I speak French if that helps.
    (I thought I’d posted this earlier today but I can’t find it. Apologies if it’s already up somehwere or in moderation.)

    1. No smart name ideas*

      TripAdvisor has a number of good discussion forums. I usually Google the destination + TripAdvisor forum and get a direct link.

  27. Elka*

    Has anyone done IVF near 40? How much did you spend overall? Did you have a kid this way? Did you find it worth it?

    I’m 39 and had a successful pregnancy with letrazole 5 years ago, but it’s not working this time around. Trying to decide if we want to try IVF or not, and how much we want to spend overall, since our insurance does not cover fertility.

    1. KatEnigma*

      I wasn’t a candidate for IVF (not happening in this uterus!) in the end, but most fertility clinics offer a package now- 3 tries for I’ve seen as low as $7k but commonly in the 10k range, and if you don’t have a baby by the end, they refund some amount- 50-75% usually. They can make that bet because most people are successful after 2 transfers and something like 90% are successful after 3. They do the screening to make sure there’s no obvious reason why you wouldn’t succeed first, of course, before letting you proceed on that deal. But for MOST insurance, even if they don’t cover “infertility,” they cover the diagnostics, because that’s purely medical, not just infertility. My OB/GYN was awesome for doing as many tests as she could before I could get in to the reproductive endocrinologist since some insurance companies will just automatically reject tests from their office that they will approve from a regular OB/GYN.

      1. Elka*

        Yeah, our local fertility clinic offers something similar, but all of your attempts have to be completed before you’re 39, so my age is unfortunately an issue.

          1. Elka*

            That’s great! I just mean the one local to me doesn’t seem to have a discount that I’ll qualify for.

            1. Elka*

              And a deal like that (pay $X for X attempts) would totally be my jam!
              But since it looks like that’s not an option for us, it got me thinking about where our monetary line would be. We’ve had family members unsuccessfully pursue fertility treatments to the tune of 100k, which is way beyond where we would be comfortable. So I was just curious about how others decide about this kind of stuff (or if they even think about it!).

              That’s a good point about seeing if my obgyn can do additional testing. she’s pretty good about adapting things for insurance.

              Ugh. This stuff is so nebulous and stressful.

                1. KatEnigma*

                  We went the surrogacy route. In Ukraine. They’ve moved to Lviv right now, but the doctor is talking about setting up in Czech Republic, that has similarly good reproductive laws. We paid about $50k total and he turned 5 in July. We had a ton of equity in our house (15 yr loan and bought at the bottom of the market) to afford it.

              1. KatEnigma*

                I was suggesting you could travel to a clinic where you would qualify. Women do that all the time.

              2. fhqwhgads*

                Many of the less expensive clinics are less expensive by so much that it’s often cheaper for people to fly there than it would be to do it locally.

    2. California Dreamin’*

      I did IVF at 38 and ended up with full-term twins :). I’d had a successful “spontaneous” pregnancy 10 years earlier after trying for more than a year and doing some lower-impact fertility treatments, and we kept hoping it would just happen again, but no luck in the 10 intervening years. My IVF cycle wasn’t even the most productive… I think I had maybe 8 or so eggs retrieved and wound up with three viable embryos + one lower grade embryo that they went ahead and transferred anyway. Nothing left over to freeze for another try. But like I said, we hit the IVF jackpot anyway. My cost data is wildly out of date – my twins are 15 now – but we spent close to 20K. Even though I was considered high risk because of my age, the pregnancy and birth itself was smooth. Now, what it’s like to be still parenting teens in your 50s is another conversation… and especially because I first became a mom in my 20s, it’s shocking when I consider how many years of my life will have been spent actively raising kids!

      1. Elka*

        Congratulations on your IVF working first try!

        I was mentally budgeting $15k per cycle, but that may be too low.

        I don’t know that I have the stamina for all of this. We’ll see!

    3. IVFAnon*

      Depending on where you are, is travelling abroad an option? My four cycles at age 37/38 were free because Europe / socialised medicine, but the out-of-pocket cost would have been $4k a cycle — I don’t know if that’s cheaper than where you are. I know people who have gone to Greece or the Czech Republic to save even on that cost.

    4. Rara+Avis*

      I was 36 when my kid was born. About $10,000, I think. Tried again 2 years later; several unsuccessful cycles; couldn’t handle the cost or stress so we became one and done. That was 14 years ago so I would imagine it’s pricier now.

    5. Janet Pinkerton*

      I was 32 (in 2021) and we spent around $30k for two retrievals and one transfer, and our second retrieval was discounted because the first one was a bust. Insurance only covered diagnostics. Only some clinics do shared risk programs (where you get x tries for $y, and if it doesn’t work you get some money back). Mine didn’t. We have an eight month old and two embryos in storage.

      The cheapest IVF can get without insurance is the CNY clinic, where one cycle is $4900 plus the cost of meds. I’m not sure where KatEnigma is getting her numbers. Maybe $10k per cycle so $30k for three tries? CNY has good data on pricing (to incentivize you using their inexpensive clinic).

      Kat is right that a lot of people attempting pregnancy travel to do IVF more affordably. You can do the monitoring locally and just travel for retrieval and transfer.

      I’d budget $20k per cycle, minimum, to be perfectly honest. $25k is safer.

      We didn’t really set a monetary limit? If the second retrieval had also been a bust we would have reevaluated but we probably would have tried a third. We’d definitely have tried three transfers with our three embryos. (Transfers are cheaper.) But we’re lucky that we could pull that money from savings without much issue.

      1. Elka*

        So interesting! Thanks for all of this info. Honestly, the thought of traveling far for transfer, etc gives me hives, just thinking of arranging childcare. Our closest clinic is already going to be a pain – it’s 1.5 hours from my work/daycare, though just 30 min from my house.

        This is a really basic question, but you mentioned that transfers are cheaper than retrievals, which I would not have guessed. Can you ballpark what the breakdown was for you? I know this will vary by clinic.

        And for monitoring, is it something where you’re going every day for a week or two, for the retrieval, and then also the transfer? I’m assuming monitoring has to be done at an RE, not an obgyn? I know nothing!

        1. Elka*

          And if we traveled, would my husband need to too?
          Or can you mail sperm?

          Like how many times would he need to go to the clinic per cycle? again, I know nothing :D

          1. Elka*

            And poking around, it seems like there may be a clinic closer to my work/daycare. So that might be easier for childcare. Like 30 minutes from those. But 1 hour from our house, and 1.5 hours from my husband’s work.

          2. KatEnigma*

            Also, the answer is once. Maybe once ever. LOL My husband flew to Kyiv to leave his sperm before we even had an egg donor or gestational carrier.

          3. California Dreamin’*

            Husband really just needs to go to make his contribution, but it kind of depends how much emotional support you need/want. I think I did all my monitoring appointments by myself but my husband was there for retrieval (mine was under general anesthesia so I would have needed a ride home anyway) and transfer, just so that we were going through the experience together. Funny, he wasn’t with me at the first ultrasound where they discovered twins, so I got to tell him that over the phone in the parking lot, lol.

        2. California Dreamin’*

          Pretty much all the “work” in IVF is everything leading up to retrieval (so all the testing, drugs, and monitoring, which is pretty intensive for that two-week egg development period) then the retrieval which for me was under general anesthesia, then the creation and early development of embryos in the lab. Once you have embryos, the transfer is like a five minute office procedure, similar to getting a Pap smear. If you have more than enough embryos, they can freeze the remainder in case you don’t have success the first try or if you want more kids later, but at that point all the work has been done and it’s just that quick office visit again. So if I had to guess I’d say 90% or more of the cost is everything *except* transfer. After transfer, I think we just waited a couple weeks until it was time for a blood pregnancy test. Then if you’re pregnant, they usually keep you under their care with frequent ultrasounds until close to the end of the first trimester when they release you to your OB. Hope that helps explain some of what’s involved!

        3. Janet Pinkerton*

          Transfer was like $3-4k at my clinic? You have to remember that meds for retrieval are much more expensive than meds for transfer too (which for me were estradiol pills and progesterone suppositories and injections, plus the meds for transfer were covered by insurance once I had a positive pregnancy test).

          Monitoring for retrieval was every day or every other day for a week or two. There’s a whole series of appointments. You could probably Google “sample ivf retrieval calendar” for specifics. I have fully blocked it from my brain lol.

          For transfer I had like precursor appointments to make sure my uterus was ready, then a few sessions of blood work after 2 weeks, then an ultrasound at 8 weeks.

          AFAIK monitoring can happen at an OB. We always went to my RE so I can’t speak to that.

          I also can’t really speak to the sperm question. We only used donor sperm. They would probably have your husband go deposit some sperm for freezing, then also have him produce some the day of retrieval for fresh sperm. Look into the Zymot chip, it’s supposed to help identify the best sperms and it’s like $50.

          I highly recommend the Matt and Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure Facebook group. The members will teach you everything you need to know.

  28. Saz*

    How do you move on when you see someone making terrible decisions, you’ve said your piece, and they still continue on the same path?

    Our friend of 10 years was fired from a long time job a few years ago. He took it really poorly, and just…lived for a year off of his retirement savings (we’re in our 30s), without applying for jobs. He eventually got therapy, and a new job, and worked for a couple of years, and got laid off a few months ago. He’s doing it again, but this time doesn’t have any retirement savings left. My husband has told him he’ll help him with his resume, will sit with him while he applies for jobs, and.. nothing. We’re worried that this time he’s going to lose his house. There’s truly nothing more that we can do, but I’m finding it excruciating, watching this slow motion car crash. Any advice?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Can you encourage him/help him to line up mental health support? Maybe the same “I will make calls for you/sit with you/drive you” could be useful for that?

      1. Saz*

        Maybe. I think my husband has encouraged him to seem mental support. If it comes up again, we’ll help.

        1. AGD*

          This is what I did in a similar situation. My efforts were actually pretty pushy, but things got much better after the friend was connected with solid help. This is an awful situation to be in and I really commiserate.

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Can you be direct? I feel like I’m watching a slow motion car crash. Can we go with you to a mental health appt or help you do x so you don’t lose the house?

      1. Saz*

        My husband told him he was really concerned about him, especially because he doesn’t have any retirement $$ left.

      2. JSPA*

        when a friend did lose the house, she was so panicked that any mention of the fact would shut down all comprehension.

        The way out was small, concrete steps. On separate days.

        “I’m going to [neighborhood with the benefits office] today. I’d like to go with you to the benefits office, because I’ve been there with another friend, and know what’s where. I’ll stand back while you talk to them, but wave me over if you’re having a hard time dealing with any of the questions.”

        “I’m going to visit [mutual friend] at the assisted living senior high-rise. You’re old enough to qualify (I checked) and you can come with one small pet. I’ll pick up an application, and find out what the waiting list looks like. We can put in the application so you have a backup plan. It doesn’t commit you to anything.”

        “If you want to move things to your storage unit, I can get a truck tomorrow between 4 and 8 P.M. Can you do it then? Any specific people you want to have help, or anyone you really don’t want?”

        You MUST take “no” for an answer, but smothing the way for a “yes” answer is very effective, when someone is near-catatonic from stress and misery.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Well, you step back. You stop trying to fix things, and you decide what you are willing or able to do or not do.

      I’d strongly suggest you don’t give him money or let him move in. But you might give him rides if he loses his car, let him come over to shower and do laundry, or invite him over for meals.

      If you can afford it, you might pay for some more therapy sessions, if you think that’s appropriate.

      Decide between the two of you where the lines are. Then you can consider whether to tell him these parameters as a kind of wake-up call / intervention, or sit tight and wait until he asks.

      It’s rough, I know.

    4. fposte*

      I saw this with friends (I posted here a few times about it) who persistently mishandled a health crisis. My friend died within 18 months as a result. It was heartbreaking, and another friend and I fell into a practice of obsessing about it that was a problem in its own right.

      So I would say consider how much of *your* life you think is healthy for you to devote to this. And also realize that in some ways your friend is not who you thought he was. Not in a terrible way, but just that we tend to assume our friends have a level of capacity that’s reasonably similar to our own, and it turns out that our friends are often more different from us than we realize. You and your husband might want to have a talk about what you’re prepared to do to help in the future so you’re on the same page–you really don’t want to get into a situation where one person says, “Oh, no, the bank took your house, so of course you can stay with us” while the other person is frantically waving them off.

      1. Saz*

        I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.

        Yeah, during his last jobless stint we definitely realized he wasn’t who we thought. Before that I would have described him as really stable. But I guess he has mental health issues I just didn’t realize.

        My husband and I are thankfully on the same page. He could stay with us for a night or something, but definitely nothing long-term. Thankfully he has family nearby, so he wouldn’t be homeless.

        1. fposte*

          Thank you. It was a moment of adulthood for sure. I’m glad you and your husband agree. There are a lot of metaphors people use in situations like this; I personally think of it as “How far can you lean out of your own canoe?” Ultimately, there are a saddening number of situations where you can’t rescue someone without tipping.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am in awe of how many people cannot be rescued.
            OP, in your story here, I think something else could be going on that has nothing to do with jobs. From your perspective this would be like looking for a needle in a hay stack.

            I think one of the greater challenges in life we face is to love people as they are, not for what we think they should be. It’s way to easy to assign predetermined stories to someone else’s life. I am not saying this in the context that i think you are judgmental-no, no, no. You guys are trying to be good friends to this person. And you are doing what good friends do. But something is amiss here. Some how this friend is just not “up for it”. It could be MH concerns, it could be physical issues or it could be a combination of these plus other factors. No way to know. Worse, the friend may not fully understand either. So even if you ask, the friend may not be able to tell you.

            If people won’t let us help them, there is nothing we can do.

            If people only let us help a little than that is the most we can do.

            I have never met anyone who accepted 100% of the help offered. Eh, I personally have turned down help some times. That is something I try to hang on to as I think along about someone else. We just don’t know what battles others are facing. We think we do, but we don’t.

            Definitely set boundaries. Watch the friend’s pacing and try to not go too much faster than their own pacing- you will lose them entirely if you are too fast for them. (Why save up for retirement when just getting through the day is so hard?)
            Slow down and look to see what their today looks like from where they are sitting.
            Did I mention boundaries? Boundaries aren’t just for them, boundaries are for your own health and well-being, Know your limits.

            My wise friend used to talk about sometimes we think we are helping and the only thing we are doing is blocking real help from getting into the person’s life. Redirect to appropriate professionals where appropriate. To me, this sounds like something that may require a team of professionals, in order to correct course.

            You can still remain friends. It will probably mean seeing them less as they may have appointments and testing and do on, but you can hold the door open for a more active friendship later on.

      2. JSPA*

        Yeah, I know someone who’s got one thing after another, due to the combination of diabetes and a seemingly uncontrollable need for endless tubs of vanilla ice cream.

        They’re as educated as I am. If their own mind, their doctors’ orders, their spouse and their kids’ begging can’t motivate them, then I’m pretty sure that a friendly acquaintances can’t break through either.

    5. Aphrodite*

      Yes. Turn around and walk away, emotionally. He knows what he should do. He also knows what he can do. But your caring (or, perhaps, interference) is disrupting his choices. He’s the only one who can make himself strong again. How and when, even if, he chooses to do that is his business. Basically–and I say this will all possible kindness and sympathy–butt out unless he asks for assistance and that assistance is within your chosen limits to give. Let him make his choices without your inflicting guilt upon him for making those choices (be they to lose his home, live without working, whatever).

      1. Saz*

        We’ve “interfered” pretty minimally. He asked my husband for help initially, and my husband followed up once after that. We don’t plan to do anything more, unless he asks.

        He even asked my husband to keep reminding him to seek work, and my husband had to tell him that was too much. If he wants/is mentally capable of pursuing help in the future we’ll be here.

        It’s mainly just really sad to see him struggling, and know in all likelihood it’s not going to get better. He seems paralyzed.

        I wish he would stop the monetary bleeding by working at Target or something! But that’s not my place to say, and not something he seems interested in doing.

        1. Aphrodite*

          I am so sorry. It is extraordinarily difficult to watch a situation like this and “walk away” from it. You always want to believe that the next thing you could be that one thing that will make a real difference.

          You are right, I think, about the paralysis. I know in that situation it keeps you in its grip and it’s so difficult to break out of it even with professional help or without mental health issues. It seems impossible when trapped in it. But his taking one step, regardless of what that step is, is essential. I agree, working at Target or at any job can be that step. And maybe some day he will too.

          In the meantime, I wish you and your husband the best. Letting go of this emotionally but keeping the small (and important) limits on your help to him won’t be easy. It’s painful beyond description to see his route to success is close and and at the same time watch him build up a massive road block for himself to it.

          1. Saz*

            Thank you!!!! I find myself mentally separating from the situation. I used to lie awake and worry about him, but I’m trying to disengage. I really hope things work out for him.
            We were actually encouraged this time that he reached out for help. During his previous job loss he just tried to act like everything was fine, when it very obviously wasn’t. But it seems like he’s stalled. Ugh. If he does ever start taking steps forward, I know we’ll all be cheering, whatever they are.
            Thanks for listening!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Working at a retail job may heighten/aggravate problems already in place. I get it- keep some money flowing in somehow is your message. I don’t know what his concerns are, but I can almost promise a retail job will make it worse.

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

      If this worry feels like it is taking over your life, sometimes 12-step recovery groups like Codependents Anonymous or Al-Anon can help a bit.

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

      This sounds really painful, I’m sorry. First, make sure your own oxygen mask is on, by which I mean that you and your husband need to be taking care of your own mental and emotional health as much as possible– when you add someone else’s problems to your mental load it festers in a different way because there’s so much frustration and helplessness at not being able to just fix things. So make sure you both have plenty of outlets/support for talking about how sad/maddening this situation is.
      Second, try and reframe this for both yourself and your friend as much as possible. For me when I’m in a stuck/depressed headspace, it is helpful for me to tell myself things like “Everyone deserves a safe, clean place to live. Including me. I deserve a safe, clean place to live.” It’s a lot more helpful than “jeez, why can’t I get my act together, I’m such a failure”. So when I’m talking to others who are going through rough patches, I also try and approach it from that mindset of trying to break the shame cycle.

  29. costello music*

    I want a pet very badly but for now, this is out of the question–save for maybe a fish but my partner isn’t super sure about getting one.

    My partner did say we could talk about getting a hamster/guinea pig after we take care of their citizenship, which is fine and understandable and I agree, but I really miss having a furry companion. My parents got a new cat and I just feally got hit with how much I want one. I grew up with cats and it’s been a little difficult living without one. I live vicariously thru my parents but it’s not enough. And volunteering at a shelter isn’t possible because my partner is allergic.

    Ant tips on how to deal with this until it is possible to get a hamster? even if i could get a fish, it just isn’t the same.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I don’t actually see the connection between a guinea pig and citizenship? I’m sure you’d be a very conscientious owner, but how much time and attention could a guinea pig possibly take away from your partner’s citizenship process?

      1. costello music*

        It’s mostly the concern with financials—it’s gonna be $3-4k and we’re not making big bucks. If we didn’t have that looming over us, and while a small pet doesn’t cost that much after the initial cage, food, etc, I definitely want to play it safe rather than sorry, y’know?

      2. Workerbee*

        Lifelong guinea pig owner here. Those little dears do take time, money, attention, and effort. Consider how, unlike cats or dogs, you have to go to them – for everything. They can’t come to you. You have to know them well enough to detect early warning signs of illness. You have to ensure they’re getting enough Vitamin C because, like us, they can’t generate it themselves. Finding a vet who does “exotics/small & furry” can be difficult. Vet expenses can be a thing.

        And there is cage setup and supplies. Storebought cages are terribly inadequate. Cubes n coroplast is the way to go to provide proper space. Guineapigcages.com has great information.

        Basically, we can’t think of non-cat-and-dog animals as easy. There is too much risk for neglect and other forms of abuse. Guinea pigs are intelligent, sociable, lovable beings who can delight and surprise you, and they deserve more consideration than being thought of as a default, stop-gap, or starter pet.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          This, I’m afraid – I have friends who have rescue guinea pigs & in addition to what Workerbee says, they have a really small range of tolerable temperature (the only room in friends’ house with A/C belongs to the pigs bc they die if too hot), and you can’t have just one – they’re super sociable & pine if living alone.

    2. germank106*

      If your finances don’t allow a pet of your own you could go to your local shelter and volunteer. Most shelters are always looking for someone to come in and walk the dogs, play with the cats, etc. That way you can get all the cuddles without having the day to day responsibilities.

    3. Bye Academia*

      I feel you. I really want a dog, but it’s not in the cards right now because my lifestyle is just not conducive to it. I’ve had cats, hamsters and guinea pigs, all of whom I loved, but there’s really no replacing one animal with another.

      I’m not sure if you’ve ever had guinea pigs before, but in my experience they are both more work and more expensive than the cats or hamsters I’ve had in my life. Just FYI. They need pellets, fresh veggies, and unlimited hay. They’re delicate little things and need to see a generally more expensive exotics vet. And you need to get at least two because they’re highly social.

      Plus, are you sure your partner won’t be allergic to the guinea pig or the hamster if they are allergic to cats? My wife has allergies, and the guinea pigs were the worst for her. She was allergic to the guinea pigs, their hay, and their wood shaving bedding. She powered through with allergy meds, but the one cat is actually easier on her allergies.

      All this to say a hamster or a rat may be the way to go over guinea pigs if cost is an issue. You could also consider fostering or pet sitting as a way to spend time with cats or dogs without having to pay?

    4. Lorine*

      Could you dump your clothes in the washing machine immediately and take a shower after volunteering at a shelter? Or, maybe take a few pet sitting gigs and have the same anti-allergen protocol afterwards?

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I think this seems worth exploring. I don’t know your partner or their allergy levels, but I’m wondering if this is actually them being unwilling to compromise on this without permitting experimentation.

    5. RagingADHD*

      IDK if you have had a guinea pig before, but they do not do well solo and they are a not a low-maintenance pet. A properly sized cage for two takes up a lot of floor space and needs daily tending to keep clean. Cats are a lot less work.

      Not sure about hamsters, but just thought you should bear that in mind.

      1. fposte*

        Apparently in Switzerland the animal protection laws require that guinea pigs (and some other animals) not be kept in singles because of how hard it is on a social animal to be alone.

      1. Generic+Name*

        And apparently does not want them to even have temporary access to animals via a shelter either.

      2. NancyDrew*

        This. OP, your partner does not want a pet. I think you should consider asking them directly.

    6. OtterB*

      I read recently about a group that supports older people or those recovering from surgery, etc., by doing tasks they can’t in caring for their pets, e.g. walking the dogs. You might see if there’s anything like this near you.

    7. Shelters*

      Some shelters also house and adopt out guinea pigs and rabbits and they are so happy when people want to volunteer with them! it might be worth checking in your area if a shelter/rescue group takes care of them.

      1. HoundMom*

        Our local humane society has fosters for rabbits, Guinea pigs and birds (maybe other animals but I know of those). We have adopted rabbits and dogs and we found they were fussier about rabbits than dogs because so many people don’t realize rabbits are delicate.

    8. California Dreamin’*

      We have had Guinea pigs and hamsters for our kids over the years because my husband is allergic to dogs, which is what we really would have wanted. The Guinea pigs were A Lot of work, as others have said, and they live a long time. Hamsters were very very easy, and one of ours was pretty social and my daughter could get her out and hold her. They aren’t all like that, though.

      1. Washi*

        In my experience, for little critters to be social you have to spend a good amount of time with them, it’s just not in their nature to want to be petted like it is for a dog. Of all the rodents I’ve had, the rats seemed to most hardwired to want, rather than just tolerate, handling but they are also a good bit of work- need a big cage, clean regularly, lots of enrichment and socialization.

    9. Danish*

      Are there any cat cafes in your area? Similar to a shelter in that youd have to wash well on coming home, but you could spend some time with kitties there and help them socialize

    10. BalanceofThemis*

      You can foster animals. Check the local animal shelters and recuse groups, they are always begging for people to foster dogs and cats. The best part, since money is an issue, is that they shelter/rescue will provide food and pay for medical care for the animal.

    11. JSPA*

      Is partner really so allergic that you can’t volunteer at a shelter (or pet neighborhood cats) even if you suds your arms past the elbow (as if scrubbing for surgery), wipe other exposed skin with a wet wipe, change of clothes, put the dirties directly in the washer?

      I had a cat sitter whose spouse had pretty severe allergies… they still made it work.

      I’m not saying allergies that severe don’t exist. But in most cases, it’s just a hassle to be mindful and meticulous enough, not an impossibility.

    12. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Your partner might well be allergic to hamsters or guinea pigs. I wouldn’t assume that’s not going to be a problem.

  30. Ali G*

    Hi All!
    Anyone have any recommendations for a tea purveyor that has really good quality and tasting herbal and decaf loose leaf teas? I’ve been off caffeine for the better part of a year (thanks anxiety!), and am having a hard time finding caffeine-free teas that keep me interested. I had one local source, but the one type I really liked (a CF black tea) they aren’t making anymore.
    My favorite tea is jasmine green, but I haven’t found a CF in loose leaf and the bags don’t cut it for me anymore.

    1. GN*

      Encore Teas in Olympia Wa has a large selection of teas, including loose leaf, herbal, green, decaf, and blends for iced tea. Shipping is free for orders over $25. I’m not affiliated with them but our cabinet is full of their teas, and we all have different tea preferences. They also carry empty tea bags and other filters. The tea bags they use for the non-loose teas are a nice quality and it’s still a good quality tea in the bag. Not the tea dust you often find in more commercial tea bags!

    2. Helvetica*

      Mariage Frères is one of my favourites. They have both muslin sachets and loose leaf. The only caveat is that the pricepoint is quite high in Europe and might be even more in the US. But the tea flavours are so good.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Republic of Tea, particularly their cardamom cinnamon flavor.
      Tea Pigs (loose leaf in sachets), particularly their lemongrass-ginger and licorice-peppermint.
      Whistling Tea Kettle is worth a look–I get my Iron Goddess of Mercy and Purple tea here, and it’s very high quality, so I would imagine their herbal blends are also well made. I see they also have a decaf tea sampler.

    4. Flightless*

      Teeccino make a ground herbal tea that tastes like coffee. They have a ton of flavors, which you can buy in teabags and also loose in bags to scoop into coffee makers. I buy the bags and use an OXO tea strainer in my tea mug. I usually just run some water over it to rinse the “dust” and tiny pieces out before putting it in my mug of water.

    5. Nessun*

      DavidsTea does an advent-calendar style tea sampler (24 Days of Tea) and they make one that is all CF. 24 different kinds, enough for 2-3 cups each, and it’s available Oct-Dec online (just checked, and they’re out now). It’s a good way to try lots of different kinds, and I love most DavidsTea blends (though I’m not fussy about CF/non-CF).

      1. Nessun*

        I should add, I don’t know if that particular calendar is bagged or loose leaf, but the “traditional tea” one is loose. Any tea they put in the calendar is available loose from their website, so I like the idea of trying lots of kinds first, even if it is bagged. (I prefer loose myself!)

        1. Blomma*

          I highly recommend DavidsTea! The Advent calendar is loose leaf tea. We bought it last year and really enjoyed it. This year we bought the calendar that’s entirely CF.

          For CF teas, I’m a big fan of DavidsTea’s fruit tisanes and have found a few rooibos blends that I like.

    6. Forgotten username*

      Another vote for Harney or Upton. I’m addicted to Harney’s hot cinnamon spice tea, and they make a decaffeinated version of it, if you like flavored tea (no sugar in it).

    7. BalanceofThemis*

      No brand recommendations, but shop your local Asian and Middle Eastern stores. They have lots of different kinds, and are usually a bit cheaper.

    8. Pool Lounger*

      Kalustyans in NYC has an incredibly wide range. You can order online and they ship and deliver really quickly

    9. DistantAudacity*

      The only black decaf tea I’ve found that I like is from Taylor’s of Harrogate.

      It is in teabag form, but of good quality. It is also an actual decaf tea (dunno what they did to it!), not a rooibus mix or somesuch.

    10. Jackalope*

      So I’ve had really good luck with Summit Spice and Tea in Anchorage AK. They have a wide variety of loose-leaf teas that I’ve really enjoyed. I’ll include a link in a separate comment.

    11. osmoglossum*

      Mountain Rose Herbs has a huge selection of delicious CF and herbal teas. Most (if not all) are loose leaf.

    12. HannahS*

      Yorkshire makes a really good caffeine free english breakfast. It’s bagged, but I find their bag tea to be better quality than many loose-leaf, including David’s Tea.

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        They also do a really delicious ‘Bedtime Brew’ – decaff black tea with camomile and vanilla and I love it!

        (They’re the same company as ‘Taylors of Harrogate’ and run Bettys Tearoom – they most definitely know their tea!)

    13. Ranon*

      Arbor Teas has some really nice herbal blends. Their decaffeinated black tea I don’t particularly care for but they’ve got a spicy ginger tisane that is just the best thing for colds and a variety of rooibos blends that are pretty fantastic.

    14. workswitholdstuff*

      I don’t know if you’ll get where you are – but Yorkshire Tea do a delicous ‘Bedtime brew’ in a teabag form (not looseleaf unfortunately, but Taylors of Harrogate are the sister company, so they might do mix) – it’s the same company that also run Bettys….

      Bedtime brew is a lovely decaff black tea mixed with vanilla and camomile. I don’t like camomile on its own, but that combo is just so lovely!

  31. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

    Blanket recommendations

    I need a new blanket. My currents ones are cotton (which I prefer) but they barely cover the bed. One of them has the measurements on the tag still and when I checked the size I found it had shrunk by 10 inches. Does anyone know where I can get a natural fiber blanket that is preshrunk?

    1. Sorry*

      Also consider going up a size if possible. I use king size on a queen bed. same with top sheet. I’ve noticed that the sizing is getting smaller.

      1. Paddy O'Furniture*

        You’re right about the sizing. a lot of things that are labeled one size are closer the next size smaller.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Garnet Hill has really good quality cotton blankets of all sorts. Not cheap, but wow, they last and last.

  32. Invisible fish*

    Get the cat, and get it now. Life is too short to go without the joy of a companion animal. If you’re saving to pay for citizenship stuff, I don’t see how $50 a month for food and litter is going to cause the saving to grind to a halt. Again, there is no reason to put off bringing joy into your life.

  33. Gen Xcellent*

    Hi! I can’t release this from moderation with the work stuff in it (since this is the non-work thread) but you’re welcome to repost it without that (and also not phrased as a vent, which the weekend rules prohibit). Sorry about that! – Alison

  34. Lilo*

    I got a new enameled Dutch oven and I’d like to cook something in it.

    I was considering beef bourguignon and I wonder if people had a recipe they like. I know Julia Child’s is iconic but the step of braising the onions separately kind of turns me off because it adds so much work/pans.

    Any other favorite Dutch oven recipes?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      ATK’s French Onion Soup is perfect, as is no-knead Dutch oven bread.

      I love my Dutch oven & use it all the time.

      1. GN*

        I second both of those recommendations. I also use mine to caramelize a bunch of onions to freeze for later use.

        1. Ginger Pet Lady*

          Ooooh, tell me more! I am the only one in this house who likes caramelized onions and I didn’t know you could do them and freeze them. That sounds perfect!
          How do you do it in the dutch oven? I’ve only ever done them stovetop. Freezing tips?

          1. Ali G*

            I actually do them in the slow cooker and freeze them. Just slice them up, throw in the cooker (I use cooking spray to make it no stick) and drop on some melted butter and little salt. Set on low for 6-8 hours.
            I usually get the 3 lb bag from the grocery store and add about a half stick of butter. So easy.

    2. Russian in Texas*

      Chicken stew with vegetables from The Spruce Eats. I use sweet onions, which in my opinion gives it a slightly elevated flavor.
      Carnitas Houston Style from Homesick Texan.

    3. Helvetica*

      I love ratatouille – I have a good Martha Stewart recipe – but I also use it for soups, and risotto.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I love the flavours in the One-Pot Greek Chicken And Lemon Rice from the blog Recipe Tin Eats.

      Also, if it’s your thing, look into using it to make bread. That’s the main reason my partner and I got the Dutch oven, and the results are so much better than bread made without it (much thicker crust and better texture overall). We like the recipes from the Bread Ahead bakery in London, some of which may be online, but I’m sure there are plenty more authors worth following for that.

    5. bratschegirl*

      Pot roast or brisket! I particularly love a couple of Smitten Kitchen recipes for that; there’s a “tangy” one on the website and a similar one in her first cookbook.

    6. Missb*

      Chicken and dumplings from America’s Test Kitchen! Not a complicated recipe but it has steps, more than a few.

      But really, anything will do. I use mine all the time. I throw it in the oven when making sourdough. Love love love enameled cast iron.

    7. Ali G*

      Chili! It also freezes great so I make a lot in one batch. If the weather stays how it’s been, next weekend will be the first chili batch of the season.

    8. Cj*

      this is really boring, but a good roast, potatoes, carrots, onions, and lipton’s onion and mushroom soup cooked on low heat for a long time is still one of my favorite meals, even though it’s really basic.

  35. BlueWolf*

    Has anyone here gotten married in Vegas?We’re thinking about doing not quite an elopement but a sort of “microwedding” with just immediate family. I’ve seen some packages at hotels where it’s a short 30 minute ceremony with photos and music and everything included. Then we’d probably plan on dinner at a restaurant afterwards. We’re not big party people and don’t want to spend a bunch of money on unnecessary stuff, but wed still like our families to get together and meet. I’d be interested in hearing about any other experiences or creative ideas people have done. I’ve never been to Vegas, so I only have online research to rely on.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yep, you’re describing pretty much exactly what we did. Base wedding package at Luxor, then we took about a dozen people out to dinner at Nine Fine Irishmen at NYNY. We had been to Vegas earlier in the year as well so we went to city hall and got our marriage license on that previous trip so we didn’t have to worry about it on our actual wedding trip, and the wedding coordinator at Luxor put it in our file and held onto it for us. You can also get it same day, or they’re good for up to a year.

    2. Vegas Eloper*

      Yes! We did exactly this at the Cosmopolitan a few years ago. Booked a suite for a couple nights and got the wedding package and had the ceremony in the suite. Their package included the officiant, photographer, cake, flowers, a day of coordinator, and free transport to/from the airport and the government office where you get your license. It was lovely. Couldn’t recommend it more.

      1. Vegas Eloper*

        Also, they were very accommodating when I met with the first officiant and didn’t hit it off. We switched to another on their list.

    3. Generic+Name*

      I’m in Colorado and my husband and I did what I call a planned elopement. No guests, got married outdoors in a natural area. The officiant offers packages for weddings that include up to 20 guests, and her clientele come from all over the country to get married here. We looked at a couple of officiants. I think I googled elope and Colorado to find them.

    4. Ginger Pet Lady*

      My brother did a similar thing but in South Lake Tahoe. Outdoor ceremony with 15-20 people there and zero planning by them other than the bride picked her dress. The company did everything else. Dinner at a restaurant afterwards.
      Would have done that myself if I had known it was an option when I got married. I didn’t really care about my wedding and everyone expected me to do so much and make so many decisions, and I was all “I just want to wear a comfortable dress and marry this guy, the rest I don’t care.”

    5. KR*

      We did! We got married at Cupids Wedding Chapel. We got the $99 wedding. Comes with something like 12 pictures for free (though the photographer takes a LOT of photos, so if you want to buy an upgraded photo package you can). There’s also a mandatory $50 gratuity for both the officiant and the photographer. So the $99 wedding is actually $200 not counting the Clark County licensing fee. We got an upgraded photo package so the whole thing was $600. The licensing was extremely quick and convenient – I want to say we applied online and then just picked it up at the clerks office. A couple weeks later we needed a certificate and just used a kiosk in the county clerks office. We got married with just another couple as our witnesses, no family. It was great and very low fuss.

    6. Bride in LV*

      We got married in Las Vegas about 15 years ago. We worked with a hotel and had a small but beautiful ceremony outside at sunset with close friends and family. We then went to the Italian restaurant afterwards (we made reservations since a large group). It was beautiful, affordable and low stress. They really took care of everything and even upgraded our room to a suite. We stayed for a week and several family members stayed too. But everyone had plenty to do on their own and then we met on last day to fly home. Recommend it!

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      I don’t know if this is worth mentioning, but if you have never been to Vegas and you aren’t a big party person, you may not be prepared for how nonstop noisy it is. There is a row of slot machines making all their beeping and music the moment you get off the plane, and the constant noise doesn’t stop until you are inside your hotel room with the door closed.

      1. BlueWolf*

        Thanks, good point. Mainly we don’t want all the hassle of planning and hosting a big party with dancing and stuff. I hate dancing. Our idea is to just get the ceremony done and have a nice dinner and make us the center of attention for as little time as possible haha. There’s so much to do there and if people want to get together the rest of the time and do things we can, and if they want to go do their own thing that’s fine too.

        1. WellRed*

          There are plenty of opportunities for relative quiet in Vegas. I go every year. At any rate if you don’t want to be the center of attention there’s plenty to distract your guests; )

        2. Bride in LV*

          This is why we picked LV. Quiet ceremony outside and lots to do for guests. We also found plenty to do that wasn’t gambling and/or loud, such as shows, walking, aquarium, etc. And the food choices were really good. Though we did walk through the casino in our attire after the wedding to change and had guests give us poker chips as a wedding gift. Was super nice and we did try some blackjack with it. But everyone was super sweet to us. We stayed at the Tropicana.

    8. NaoNao*

      Yes, I did this exact thing! We invited our siblings only which ended up being a party of 6. We scheduled a restaurant dinner –Momofuku–and then had the crowd up to our large hotel suite–Cosmopolitan Hotel– for cake. We added a “welcome dinner” at a fancy restaurant the first night/night before the ceremony but that’s not a much. (It was at Giada’s and it was wonderful).

      We did our ceremony in the Pink Cadillac at Little White Chapel and we had a lady pastor-so fun. We got married on 4/3/21 (we thought we were so original and there were 1000s of people there that same weekend for the same thing, d’oh!) and they gave us a special license called “Countdown to Love” too cute.

      I picked a couple key areas to spend money. The gown, flowers, and pictures were my spendy areas. People compliment my flowers more than any other aspect of the wedding upon seeing pictures, so it was well worth it for the bouquet, which was $350. My photog allowed me to split up my payments and they were *well* worth it also.

      You only get one wedding. Don’t skimp on things that make it special and that will last beyond the wedding, like the pics. We also splurged on the suite (husband paid) since it was Covid times we wanted people to be able to spread out 6′ if they wanted to. Invites we did on etsy, ceremony was like $90 for the package, I found inexpensive shoes + a cute relatively inexpensive after-party dress, jewelry was around $100 for earrings and cocktail ring, veil was $150. Hair and makeup was another area I slightly splurged on. I was having pro portraits taken that I would be ideally looking at for the rest of my life–it was not the time to cheap out!

  36. CharlieBrown*

    Any advice for insomnia?

    I’m getting about six hours of sleep a night, and it’s not high quality. I do have some medical conditions which may be causing this, and I’ll be looking into this with my GP, so I’m not looking for medical advice. Just any little rituals, teas, scents, etc., that you have found conducive to a good night’s sleep?

    I was thinking about a weighted blanket, but the upthread comments make me think it will be entirely too hot for me.

    1. YNWA*

      I’m an insomniac and have been all my life. Honestly, THC edibles at 10mg have been the only thing that lets me fall asleep and stay asleep. Full disclosure, I also take 50mg trazodone (old-school prescription anti-depressant, non-habit forming) and 5mg melatonin. The three together mean I get deep, restful sleep. Also, I use a white noise machine and ear plugs.

      1. YNWA*

        Also, I’m in my late 40’s so temperature regulation is difficult which is why I’ve avoided a weighted blanket so far.

        1. Tib*

          There’s a phone app for insomnia called CBT-i that you might find helpful.

          I’ve seen weighted blankets that are more of an open knit and allow air flow. I’ve also had success with strategically placed rice packs to give me some weight and warmth without the full coverage. And I liked the idea from that thread of tightly tucking regular blankets or sheets to get some pressure.

          Here’s an odd one that has worked for me in the past: I can’t remember where I read it but someone found that a certain amount of activity helped him sleep better and that he could take a shortcut on that activity by standing on one leg for about 15 minutes. And it didn’t have to be all at once. Since you have health problems, you might not be moving enough for good sleep. You could try working in some periods of supported standing on one foot and see if that helps.

    2. Kara Danvers*

      I’m not sure how much you’ve read so far, forgive me if some of this advice is obvious:

      – Do ONE thing for 30 minutes before you go to bed. That means, read a book, or listen to music, whatever you do that lets you unwind. Don’t check your email, don’t browse reddit, don’t do anything that has you mentally task-switch. When you have trouble sleeping, go do that thing for a bit.
      – Try to be consistent about bed time & waking time. If you live very from the equator (dark winters), wake up in time to get every ounce of daylight.
      – By far the biggest impact on my *quality* of sleep is exercise. I am plus-size/etc, so I’m not talking about going for a 5-mile run in the mornings. A 20min walk during the day can go a long way.
      – Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool.

    3. Flightless*

      I’d only been getting 3 hours of sleep a night for a while and ended up reading “End the Insomnia Struggle: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep.” I followed the sleep restriction therapy and stimulus control therapy from the book, and am doing better now (though I still can’t get an idea amount of sleep yet because of noises that wake me up). Would highly recommend the book!

      (Before that, I tried a weighted blanket, various sleep supplements, prescriptions from doctors, and a white noise machine. Nothing else helped.)

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

        Maybe try some ear plugs if you haven’t yet? They totally saved me from a noisy air conditioner that was messing with my sleep.

    4. EJ*

      I adore the calm app and their sleep meditations and sleep stories! no side effects to worry about, lol. I put on a meditation as I fall asleep. I i wake in the night I put on another meditation or story. they help my mind and body stop churning and just relax into sleep.

      1. ronda*

        I like to listen to something, or I just think about stuff. but it is a real balance to find something that I dont want to listen to enough to keep me up. for a while it was re-listening to the sharing knife books over and over. If I would wake up it was still playing and I would be… oh that is where we are in the story but I knew what was going to happen so didnt need to continue to listen.

    5. Andy Dufresne's Secret Admirer*

      I don’t like weighted blankets. But I love my weighted eye mask. It has a removable pouch of these tiny beads that can be frozen or heated if you like. The weight on my eyes is really soothing. Don’t remember where I got it, might have been a gift. Can also use a scented oil, lavender, on the mask or pillow or lavender hand cream.
      Get rid of anything that emits light in your bedroom. Alarm clock included. I use my phone as an alarm when needed.
      If this fails, melatonin or CBD or 10 mg THC or some combination of any of them.

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

      I got a Queen Rose body pillow with a plush cover, as I was finding that my various body parts need a lot more support than they did when I was younger for me to feel comfortable. It is this big U-shaped round pillow, and it feels very relaxing to cuddle up and sleep with. It’s like having a cuddly partner (well, actually, like having two partners, one on each side) in bed with you, but you won’t disturb them by turning over.

      I was also facing some noise pollution during the summer with my air conditioner. I don’t generally like ear plugs, but I have to say that wearing them got me some deeeeeeep sleep.

      I can also feel the difference when I don’t pull the shade down all the way. When I make the room darker, I do sleep better.

      Also, a nice hot bath with a good book before bed is very relaxing to me.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      1) Soothing podcasts: I’ve found a few podcasts where the host’s voice is very even and really helps me wind down. You really have to find the ones that work for you. There’s a whole genre of ‘sleep podcasts’ that people like (though I personally prefer sleeping to ‘regular’ podcasts).

      2) Alternate sleeping space: If I wake up in the middle of the night, finishing the night in a different spot can help. I have a guest bedroom so it’s pretty easy to move there, but a couch can work too.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Nothing like health stuff to block a good night’s sleep.

      I agree with what many have written here, about a wind-down time. Send your brain a message, “okay we are done for the day pretty soon”.

      Also I like to try to do something to lessen anything that aches. Maybe a hot pack for an achy shoulder, or some medicine for a headache. If I have a cut on my finger that is just annoying me, I will make sure it has a fresh bandage and topical before turning in. If something is mildly annoying before bed, it will not get better once I am in bed.

      I also liked to work on how I respond to not sleeping well. This varies for people. But I am one of those people who want to get up and do something but this is not good for me. So I had to make myself lay there. Finally I hit up the idea of making a list of things I am grateful for in life. This stopped me from mentally balancing my checkbook, planning tomorrow’s work day and a slew of other things. I just redirected myself to my gratitude list until I dosed off.

      And here’s one I never knew but learned as I went along- Feet. Feet that are too hot or too cold will interfere with sleep. Keep your feet comfy. Sometimes I have to stick a foot out from under the covers and that is just enough.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        In my house, we call that the temperature control foot, and the dogs do it too :) (I have two light-furred dogs with low body fat, so when they curl up into cinnamon buns, my husband is constantly throwing fleece blankets over them, and gradually they uncurl enough to stick their paws out from under the blankets.)

    9. tessa*