weekend open thread – November 19-20, 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: Now Is Not the Time to Panic, by Kevin Wilson. Two teenagers cause panic in their small town with a mysterious poster, still reverberating 20 years later. I love everything Wilson writes.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 978 comments… read them below }

  1. Edward V1.0*

    So – my spidey-senses tell me that the readers here might overlap with the houseplant-fanatic demographic. On that note – any recommendations for an indoor flowering plant that is non-toxic to cats? Medium to low light would be best. My wife has roughly 100,000 plants already, but the only one that flowers is the Christmas cactus.

    Alternately – encouraging stories about growing fruit trees indoors?

    1. Venus*

      African violets! They have beautiful flowers and prefer indirect light. They are non-toxic to animals and my otherwise leaf-loving cat avoided their fuzzy leaves. They are slightly picky about watering so not recommended to someone like me who forgets to water every week, but I had piles as a teenager when I had a better memory.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Yes. My mom has always had African violets in varying lights. And when cats chewed on them, they were fine.

    2. peanut butter*

      I have grown many fruit trees indoors. I have never gotten them to flower. The thing with fruit trees is that … they’re trees. They want to tree. The mangoes want to be 5 storeys. And live in the tropics. The grapefruit (25 yrs old) keeps on keepin’ on. The lemon was sick and splindly, after 10 years. The pineapples grow outward. Seriously. I keep looking at them thinking, you’ve not much grown since I bought you at the grocery store, and then I realize the spread of their leaves is 1m/3ft. They don’t sell them in the grocery store like that. As you might guess all my fruit trees are from food. I don’t have sun exposure in my apt, but if I did it would be terrifying- the trees all want to grow tall. They can’t tall in my living room.

      1. As Per Elaine*

        We’ve also had decent luck with indoor citrus, but never flowers. Ours get scale during the winter and tend to be a bit sad by May or so, but they perk up when we haul them outside for the summer. Our lemon tree is probably ten years old. The bigger Mystery Citrus we inherited five or six years ago is presumably older than that (it’s about four feet tall and bushy, and requires assiduous pruning to stay that way).

        We have gotten fruit off of our dwarf figs, but they don’t really flower.

        Technically spider plant flowers, but it’s not a plant I would recommend for its looks, especially not after a cat has been munching on it.

    3. Your Computer Guy*

      Prayer plant (maranta leuconeura) is non-toxic and will produce nice little flowers if it gets some humidity. It can handle lower light fine.
      Various air plants will eventually flower, are non-toxic, and are small, but they do need a little more light.
      Silver squill (ledebouria socialis) can tolerate lower light, will put out flower stalks with a little more light, and have interesting foliage even without the flowers.
      Some orchids will tolerate less light, and are small, like lockhartia lunifera (with makes nice yellow flowers).
      Goldfish plant (columnea gloriosa) can also tolerate less light and makes orange flowers that look like goldfish.

    4. Your Computer Guy*

      Fruit trees can be a challenge in terms of both light and pollination. I’m recently trying a finger lime tree/bush. The key is finding something that won’t suffer too much from being dwarfed/contained in a pot.
      Kiwis and kiwi berries both grow on vines that you could do in pots with a trellis (but I believe they’re pretty definitely sexed, so you’d need both male and female).
      Mulberries can come in bush sizes, and have self-pollinating varieties.
      Ground cherries are more of an annual, and you need at least 2 for pollination, but can remain in a reasonably sized pot while still producing fruit.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My spider plants flower somewhat regularly but I don’t know how common that is or if I’m just lucky with them. :)

      1. TechWorker*

        Spider plants are non toxic but mildly hallucinogenic to cats – ours is in the bathroom and if we leave the door open the cats are up on the windowsill trying to ingest as much as possible :p

        Orchids are safe I think and generally easy to care for.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’ve had cats eat them (with no issues) in the past, but the current ones in my household completely ignore them :)

        2. Clisby*

          Orchids are not toxic to cats, but I supposed if you used any kind of pesticide on them, that might be. I love orchids – they look delicate, but they’re tough as nails. They do well in a sunny window (mine is south-facing), though, so I’m not sure whether “medium to low” light would be enough.

          1. Westsidestory*

            The only orchid I’ve had successfully bloom in a lower light situation was a Miltonia. But I don’t know if they are toxic to cats.

          2. Jane Austen II*

            Kumquat trees make nice pot plants,. I have seen them quite a lot in the gulf coast area, but never see them here in NC. I don’t know why it would matter if you are growing them inside, but they may be hard to buy in most parts of the US. The fruit is cute and pretty! (Very sour if you peel them. Eat them whole, peel and all!)

        3. Wired Wolf*

          What would cats hallucinate, I wonder…? Ours showed a tiny bit of interest in a cannabis plant I had out in the open (autoflower experiment using only natural light), but never actually tried to nosh on it. He loves the chives my mom has on the porch–I’ve tried to explain to her that chives are bad for cats, but she doesn’t take it seriously :-/

          She has an avocado tree in the living room window; the poor thing is sending out new leaves and growing, but is obviously potbound (the container she has it in isn’t quite a gallon in size). The tapwater probably isn’t doing it any favors either.

    6. Kiki*

      All of the Peperomias! There are so many cute varieties and they’re all very easygoing. My cat tries to bite our other safe plants (orchids, Christmas cactus) but he leaves the peperomias alone for some reason.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I used to know someone that had an orange tree and a coffee tree indoors, on a table, in mini size. I don’t think the fruits were edible, but they looked very decorative. The cats weren’t allowed in that room unless they behaved. No idea how they managed that!

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We have three citrus plants in pots – a lemon, a lime, and an orange. We had a lemon tree for years until it froze during a furnace outage last winter. We spent some money replacing it with fairly sizable plants suitable for pots since we have to bring them indoors in the winter. In summer they live on our screened porch. All three are now blooming and two have set fruit. My husband pollinates them with a paintbrush. I suggested he wear a yellow and black striped shirt while doing this. He ignored me.

      He is the Plant Guy so I don’t know which varieties? cultivars? he bought. Pretty sure they are specifically bred to do well in pots.

      1. GoryDetails*

        “My husband pollinates them with a paintbrush. I suggested he wear a yellow and black striped shirt while doing this. He ignored me.”

        I adore this!

      2. Westsidestory*

        Most citrus are available online in grafted dwarf form. One of the easiest is Meyer lemon – you don’t always get fruit but the flowers smell lovely.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Re flowering plants that are cat-safe: if you’re up for getting an Aerogarden or other intense-light planter-type gadget, you could grow a variety of annuals that blossom and are cat-safe. They have models that are quite small and could fit in an odd corner. (I mostly use mine for fresh, clean lettuce varieties, but am considering a flower mix as the days grow shorter.) There are pre-packaged sets of pods with herbs, annuals, and more.

      Oh, and by “cat-safe” I mean “not toxic to cats”; if your cats are very curious and/or just love greenery, the plants may not be safe from the cats! But so far my cats have left my Aerogarden alone (knock on wood).

      1. rr*

        Umm, we have a cat that used to THROW himself into a plant on a plant stand like he was a gymnast. Until the pot and the plant both fell to the floor and broke when he tried doing it one time too many. Then he got into a pot with a plant and a rock in it that was on the floor. We had put the rock in it to dissuade him from eating the plant. He didn’t eat it. He just slept there, crushing the plant.

    10. time for cocoa*

      I’m the PO-ed owner of a cat who goes out of his way to chew every green thing I’ve owned. If he sees a leaf, no matter how high it is, he obsesses about how he can get to it, to the point that he will sit and stare at the ceiling watching the plant. He is not my favorite pet.

      Anyway, plants safe for cats: I’ve been pondering the idea of delving into terrariums. Let’s see the little b*stard get through that.

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

      The only flowers I plan to have are the Lego ones… The succulent and the orchid sets are 50$ each and I really want to buy them! Not sure about the cat-proof tho.

    12. JSPA*

      Iceplant, if you have long hours of intense sun (south and/or west). Invasive outside, but incredibly salt tolerant (presumably including the buildup of salts you can get in a pot), and harmless for cats.

      No luck with indoor fruit, myself, but some will handle a “indoor for winter” schedule, and fruit outdoors, if your climate allows enough time to flower, set and ripen fruit. I’d try feijoa, if I had the indoor space. Leaves are either nontoxic or minimally toxic, depending whom you ask, and my cats seem uninterested in even rubbing against the aromatic leaves of the one in the yard. Much better fruit set with multiple. I’ve seen them fruit at a trimmed height of 4 feet. As a bonus, you can hand pollinate the flowers, then pick off and eat the petals in spring. They’re a faint but sweet foreshadowing of the (late fall) fruit.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      Have you tried begonias? There are a ton of different kinds. Some have amazing foliage (Rex begonias) and others have bigger flowers, but they all bloom.
      My cat never touches any of mine and I have three very different ones.
      Clivia also has very stunning blooms, either yellow or orange. It can get to be a large plant and has long strappy leaves and my cat ignores it, except to drop her medicine into it so I can’t find it to give it to her…..

    14. just another queer reader*

      re: cat-safe: I’d also say, know your cat! My elderly cat sleeps all day and almost never gets into my plants. Once or twice in a year, she’s batted at my spider plant (safe but mildly hallucinogenic to cats) but I figure she’s old enough and deserves to have some fun in her life.

      When we looked after a kitten for a month, my plants got VERY batted around and chewed up! In the kitten’s defense, plants are delightfully springy.

    15. Sam I Am*

      I grew a coffee tree indoors, until it got out of hand. Flowers start at 4 years old, you have to create “rainy season” conditions to encourage flowering. The blooms are tiny, like on a spider plant, but with a heavy perfume. The cherries mature to a deep cranberry red, which are pretty. The fruit itself tastes like sugar, and there is very little flesh- mostly seed (bean). It was a great experience. If I’d pruned it I could’ve kept it. And I’m in snow country, up by the Canadian border. It was in a fully south facing, light bathed window.

      1. JSPA*

        But formally not cat-safe (for the caffeine, and for saponins).

        As “just another queer reader” says, though, it’s very much, “know your cat.”

        There’s not much that’s as toxic as lillies, where even a bit of the pollen drifting can cause irreversible damage or death, but a possibly-not-surprisingly large number of plants cause some sort of misery or malfunction when ingested.

        Most cats kind of hate the smell of coffee (to the point where the used grounds can be used as a deterrent if you don’t want cats digging in your yard). But a young cat who chomps with wild abandon, before sniffing? probably risky. And the sweet coffee cherry is itself high caffeine, and could also trick a gulper into gulping down the whole bean.

  2. The Concerned*

    I have a friend I’m a bit worried about, because she has a big heart and is dating. She’s recently gotten really attached to someone, and though he sounds like a nice person, I’m concerned she may be headed for a fall where she doesn’t see if something is off until she’s really far into this. She went on an international trip with him for a week and a half, and has spent almost every day at his place since they returned almost a month ago, taking care of him since he’s been sick and stuff. They’ve known each other for 2 months.

    The only things I’ve really heard that sound meh are: 1) that he’s asked her “when are you coming back?” when she’s left for work, the relative handful of days she’s gone in to work or worked from her place instead of staying there all the time, and 2) a week after they met when he first went on the trip, which was supposed to be just him, he offered to cut it short to come back to see her (it was supposed to be a month-long trip, he stayed the whole time and she joined him for the end of it). Tips for staying out of it other than chanting “it’s not your life, it’s not your life” at myself ad nauseum?

    1. Alex*

      Be super neutral yet pleasant about him when she talks about him. “Oh, that’s so nice.” sort of stuff. Encouraging the negative stuff can backfire because people dig in and get defensive and then don’t want to admit when something isn’t working out, and being super positive and encouraging can make them doubt their own feelings if stuff starts to go south. Just go with the flow.

      It will either work out or it won’t, and you literally have no control over it. People don’t listen when their pants feelings are involved.

      1. The Concerned*

        Very fair – you’re right, which is why I’m asking advice about my reactions because that’s what’s in my control. I’ve been being neutral/positive and have said “feel free to take that time at home by yourself if you want it”, I’ll probably just stick with that.

    2. Maggie*

      It sounds like they’re just super into each other. It could implode or they could get married or anything in between. What’s the big problem? It doesn’t sound like he’s being abusive or unkind to her or anything. I guess I’m confused what you need to “stay out of” because It’s just like they’re dating an obsessed with each other or whatever which is pretty normal? Though I agree staying out of it is the right thing!

      1. The Concerned*

        That’s a fair question – there’s no real problem right now except my anxiety, which is why I’m asking what I can do about my reactions. She’s had rough experiences in the past, I’m defensive of her, and we’re really close, so she’s asked for my opinion on guys in early stages of something-ness before and I’ve freely given it. With this, I’ve been honest and said “just know you can take that time away on your own if you need it or just want some quiet” when she mentioned the “when are you coming back?” thing, and said mild positive things when she’s shared something nice he’s done. I guess I’m trying not to be too biased about this person before I’ve even met him, but I feel like I’m doing a bad job.

        1. Ellen Ripley*

          So it sounds like you have an anxiety or worry monster that’s trying to interfere with your friendship. Maybe some therapy could help? If your work has an EAP this is a great time to use it.

          1. The Concerned*

            I’m in therapy, should probably raise this the next appointment – just didn’t come up until after my most recent one. Thanks!

            1. Cordelia*

              hi, wondering if you have any experience of CBT? because this might help you – rather than chanting “it’s not your life”, you could find some ways of challenging your thinking about this. You might be right, it might all go wrong for her, and you sound like a great friend who will be there if that happens – but at the moment she’s at the beginning of a new and exciting relationship and it all sounds very normal. For example, if anyone was staying with me, I’d ask them when they might be home from work, so I can make my plans accordingly – I don’t think that’s necessarily a red flag in your friend’s relationship. It might be, of course, but it sounds like your anxiety is leading you to zoom in on the negatives and immediately jump to the worst possible interpretation. Perhaps your therapist can help you reframe the way you are thinking about this?

            2. Cordelia*

              hi, I’m wondering if your therapy involves CBT? Because this might help you, instead of chanting “its not your life” you might be able to find a way to challenge your anxious thoughts. You seem to be focusing on and magnifying the negatives, and looking for red flags that might not be there (for example, if someone was staying with me I would probably ask them what time they’d be home from work, just so I can make my plans accordingly). Things might go wrong, of course, in which case you sound like a lovely friend who will be there to support – but meanwhile, your friend is at the start of an exciting new relationship, probably not thinking clearly but thats normal!

        2. Maggie*

          Well you sound like a good friend :) and you can be a little biased on the inside haha without telling her!

      2. Ibis*

        Dirty lens here, but these look like the early stages of co-dependency at best, or a controlling partner at worst. I’m not saying that’s definitely the case, just basing this on my past experience. Hopefully it is just that they are into each other.

        1. JSPA*

          That’s a pretty uncharitable read.

          Some people bond fast, some bond slowly.

          Some users and abusers come in hot-and-heavy to hook their prey…but some use silence, distance, vagueness and playing hard to get, to do the same thing.

          “My abuser moved fast and wanted to see a lot of me” doesn’t mean, “never trust someone who falls hard and fast.”

          Neither does, “my abuser strung me along with single word text messages, every few days, for two months, until I was obsessed with them” mean, “don’t ever trust someone who sends brief texts.”

          The best thing a friend can do is to promise to be there whether things go well or badly, and to reiterate that the person IN THE RELATIONSHIP is the only one who is in a position to generate and listen to an inner voice that’s based on all of the facts.

          If the person in the relationship is feeling like it’s too much, too fast, that’s a big reason to slow down. But for a friend to want that for them, if they don’t want it for themselves, just seems like a random, anxiety-driven overreach.

          (But, condoms. For all the reasons.)

    3. Not A Manager*

      I think you can occasionally say something mild. With some friends I would say “he sounds lovely, but you’re moving very fast.” With another friend I would jokingly say, “hey, slow your roll!” And for something like him asking when she’ll be back, I would say, “ha, that’s a bit odd. He’s a grown man – can he not be home alone for a few hours?”

      The idea isn’t to make her suddenly slow down or look at him differently. The idea is to give her permission to trust her gut if, at a later time, some of this starts to feel off to her.

      1. The Concerned*

        Thanks – that’s kind of what I’m doing, like I’ve said “just know you can take time to yourself if you need/want to” when she’s mentioned going back there and the “when are you coming back” thing.

        1. Pennyworth*

          You can also ask her if she misses having time to herself and point out kindly that she can love him and set boundaries simultaneously.

    4. ThatGirl*

      A lot of people can get deeply involved and infatuated quickly. That doesn’t mean the intensity will last. Just be her friend — if you hear anything that is *actually* a red flag (signs of control or abuse, for instance), then you can say something, but in the meantime… they’ll figure it out. Either they’ll settle into a calmer routine or fizzle out, but either way, you want to be her friend who supports and loves her, right? not the obnoxious “told you so!” in the corner.

      1. The Concerned*

        For sure – I’m hoping that it’s just the like ‘can’t keep your hands off each other’ phase and that it turns into something lasting, the last thing I’d want is for her to be unhappy or jump and be like “told you” if it doesn’t work out. I’m listening for stuff that actually sounds bad and trying to stay positive – right now it just sounds like she’s maybe not tending to life stuff so much? Cat’s still at her parents’ from when she went abroad 6 weeks ago, her apartment is a wreck since she’s not there – some is stuff we’ve all done when a relationship is new.

        1. JSPA*

          I guess i’m still missing why this is a problem.

          Sounds like a fine situation to have a fling, and be at someone else’s place a lot. Completely practical, in a way it might not be, at other times.

          The cat is fine.

          The house can get cleaned three weeks from now, as easily as it could have been cleaned three weeks ago. Sometimes people go away for 3 or 6 months before coming back and cleaning! It’s dustier, but it’s not some deep crisis.

          The most obvious problem I can see is, “I liked the way y0u lived, and I’m not sure I’ll like it, if you change how you live.” And, yeah, that’s not your friend’s problem to deal with.

    5. Holly*

      As a person who falls in love fast and hard despite my best efforts and past hurts, I will say three things:

      She has to learn for herself if this method doesn’t work for her. Like I said, I am this hopeless romantic big hearted and sometimes foolish person who falls quickly and hard, and, in the past, for very stupid people lol. So I say that from experience, there is nothing anyone could’ve said to me when I was younger to prevent me from acting that way, even if I knew they were right, which I did. And I kept doing it anyway til I got hurt enough to learn to be more cautious. I hope she doesn’t have to go through that since it sucks so immensely, but I definitely did need to go through it to learn to protect myself more. So maybe that is helpful in you staying out of it, a bit? Like the only thing you’ll accomplish by getting too into it is hurting your friendship (that’s my guess, anyway).

      Second, the advice in the other replies here are right imo. If she asks for your opinion, you can give it mildly and politely and leave it at that, and if she doesn’t, don’t. If she’s similar to me, she already knows that it’s fast and intense and is maybe feeling bad or anxious about it on some level because of her past experiences.

      Last, my partner and I had a VERY intense falling in love period and we are still happily together 1.5 years later! Not a long time in the grand scheme of things obviously but I do truly believe we are a great match even past the initial falling in love and then honeymoon phases. So who knows! Maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful thing :)

      1. The Concerned*

        Thank you – you and she sound really similar in this way! And you’re right, which is why I’m trying to moderate my reactions to things. She gives all of herself to relationships, and knows that she can’t be any other way – already has unfortunately gotten hurt, and took a break from dating for a year until this summer because it happened a few times, on short and longer-term relationships. I’m hoping this is a good relationship! I’m really looking for suggestions on improving shutting my trap until there’s anything actually bad to point out, or they settle into a routine that sounds more sustainable.

        1. Double A*

          It sounds like worst case scenario is…a break up of a short term relationship that has been exciting at least in the beginning but might fizzle. Which is a perfectly fine worst case scenario. Break ups aren’t fun, but they aren’t dangerous. Just because something doesn’t last doesn’t mean the experience should have been avoided. It sounds like she’s having fun and intense new relationship feelings. Those feelings are great! Let her enjoy them and be happy for her, and if it does lead to a breakup then just be there for her.

          If it’s super draining for you to hear about patterns that she seems to repeat without any awareness, you could set a boundary then, but that doesn’t really seem to be the issue.

          I was an idiot about every new relationship I’ve ever gotten into, and every time it lead to heartbreak…until it didn’t. (At least not yet; the only way to avoid heartbreak is to die first). And I don’t really have many regrets about the heartbreaks, even though they sucked and I’m still salty about a couple of them if I’m being honest.

          1. fposte*

            This is a really great point. I don’t see anything that the friend needs to be protected from in the info given. I’m with you on the not regretting the heartbreaks; I had a lot of fun before the fall, and the fall wasn’t anything I couldn’t pick myself up from. Concerned, maybe it would be helpful for you to recast your view a little with that in mind–that the goal here isn’t for her to have a relationship that never ends but to have some reward and pleasure.

        2. Ann Ominous*

          Try reading “How to avoid falling in love with a jerk” for what to look for in a relationship to determine whether you know someone well enough to trust them, whether you can trust them deeply enough to rely on them, and whether all of those things are in place enough for you to commit to that person.

          Very practical examples and approach, not just philosophical.

      2. JSPA*

        My spouse and I were this bonded by two months, despite being in different cities. That was well over 20 years ago.

        We’re fine being apart for weeks or months, but when we’re in the same place, we spend most of our time in the same room. When one of us goes out, we mention when we’ll be back, and ask if the other wants to come along, or do something afterwards. Or if one is sleeping or on the phone, the other leaves a note.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I think the main thing you can do is work on making peace with the fact that you can’t “protect” grownups from their own decisions.

      You believe that she’s a competent adult, right? You respect her?

      There is nothing bad going on here. She doesn’t need rescuing.

      The question is, what is your role in the friendship if she doesn’t need to be rescued or protected? What else is your friendship based on? Who are you to her then?

    7. nnn*

      So……I will say this bluntly but I mean it kindly. I would be really insulted and bothered if I found out one of my friends was having these worries about me. She is an adult, she is capable of managing her own relationships, she does not need you to have anxiety about her perfectly normal early stages of a romance. You are infantilizing her. This is not your business. If you are having trouble staying on the right side of the boundaries with something that has nothing to do with you, this is a therapy thing.

      1. nnn*

        For advice on how to stay out of it….remind yourself that this kind over over stepping could end your friendship. I would have real trouble being close to someone who I learned was having these thoughts about me.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      You remind me very much of friends who are perplexed by my own “all in or all out” approach to relationships. When I was taking a break from my admittedly intensive style after a heartbreak, they were very concerned I would never date again! Little did they know I planned to dive in with a bib when I was rested and ready. Then when I was dating someone, fell hard, fell fast and was inseparable; they were just as concerned! Apparently you’re supposed to dip a toe in and only see them on weekends, but I’m simply not wired that way. It’s not even about being trusting; it’s about being all in on the exploration of whether trust is there. Several years later everyone has chilled out and I’m still happily inseparable with my guy. Of course it could have gone the other way. Faint hearts never get far, and potential heartbreak is always the price. You’re a great friend, just allow her to keep talking like you have been and know that “being hurt in the past” is just another word for experience. She’s experienced, she’s being brave and she’s trusting you by airing her thoughts and instincts as she gets to know this guy. Your therapist will have great tips, but you’re already being trusted so I think you’re probably doing better than you think.

    9. marvin*

      It’s so difficult when you want so badly to be able to protect friends from bad decisions or self destructive patterns but you know you just can’t do it. For me, I know my anxiety always gets worse when I feel helpless. I think it helps to remind yourself of what your role is in your friend’s life. You can’t stage manage her romantic decisions for her, but you can be there to support her no matter how things go. You can be a sounding board (within reason) and remind her that she deserves someone who treats her well. She’s lucky to have a friend who cares about her this much!

    10. Texan In Exile*

      My husband practically moved in a month after our first date – he lived in Milwaukee and I lived in Memphis but he worked remotely so could work from my place, too.

      We went on a ten-day driving trip a month after that date and a month after that, went to Spain and Morocco for ten days.

      We’ve been married for 14 years so I guess it worked out?

      Key factors:

      We were both in our early 40s, so had been through a lot of our own drama already.
      We met at our college 20-year reunion through a mutual friend who vouched for him, so I knew he wasn’t an ax murderer.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      “When will you be back” is something that lands to me as quite anodyne when there are not underlying issues. My husband is currently out, and I know roughly when he will be back. If someone I did not find smothering asked me this, I would think it had to do with normal planning ahead, a la When should I pick up the socks? and How many of us are eating here tonight?

      From what you’ve written, this seems to have more to do with your anxiety looking for a new outlet.

      If there were actual yellow flags, I’d go with Alex on neutral yet pleasant–don’t dig in as the voice of doom they need to prove wrong.

    12. MissCoco*

      The trip thing does seem very intense very fast, and normally “when will you be back” would sound pretty benign to me, but the fact that you know about it makes me think it bothered her.

      If you want to stay out of it, it helps me to remember that the only people who really know a relationship are the people in it. It has also helped me in the past when friends are in relationships I don’t like to remember that I will be there for them if it doesn’t work out, and that sometimes the only way we can learn certain things are by going through them.

      Since it sounds like she’s involving you some in the vetting process, I think it would be fine to gently suggest that things seem to be moving fast (since that seems to be your main concern).

    13. JSPA*

      “When are you coming back?” is something any friend could say to any friend out of simple curiosity or eagerness. It isn’t intrinsically controlling.

      Asking her to cut short her vacation would be a red flag. Having less fun on his own vacation than he would, back home with her, isn’t.

      Sure, it’s awfully quick, but it happens that both people fall hard for each other. Often enough that there’s no reason to side-eye it, unless he starts asking for money or doing stuff that’s clearly controlling. Which this isn’t.

    14. Generic Name*

      For what it’s worth, I’m similar to your friend, in that I’m a Feelings Person. When I started dating again after my divorce, I remember one of my friends saying that she was worried I’d get hurt. I told her that not getting hurt would be basically impossible. You can’t put yourself out there and also be immune to getting hurt. And yeah, I did date one guy who ghosted me and it wasn’t great, but I got over it and met my now husband.

    15. Erica*

      You are a good friend. Maybe in addition to your mantra, you can remind yourself that that voice inside urging you to protect your friend is coming from a good place.

      That said, I agree with your instincts (and other commenters here) to try to not act on it. Some things that may help:
      I think there are two possibilities– your friend is in an unhealthy codependent or controlling relationship OR this is her style. Either way, the best thing you can do is just be a consistent and non-judgmental friend. If it’s the former– as someone who survived a controlling relationship, I can say that my friends who were patient with me and didn’t judge my relationship/now-ex were the ones I felt most comfortable going to when I was ready to get out. So you could remind yourself by NOT interfering you’re actually keeping the door open to helping if she needs it, when she’s ready to accept it.

      and in case it’s the better scenario — you may want to read the book Attached if you haven’t yet. It really helped me understand my friends who have a more “anxious” attachment style, and that it’s not necessarily bad when they meet someone similar to them and go full speed ahead.

    16. allathian*

      Things are happening fast, but I’m not seeing anything concerning in this yet. It’s completely normal for people who’ve fallen hard for each other to want to spend every waking moment with each other, and asking when the other person will be back also sounds completely unconcerning at this point.

      It’s worth remembering that your friend is an adult, and presumably competent to run her own life as she sees fit. She’s in love, and she should be able to enjoy that. Just be there for her, if the relationship doesn’t work out, but try not to worry about it maybe not working out as long as she seems happy.

      Being open to a new relationship means taking the risk that it may not work out. You can’t protect anyone from that potential hurt, and you can only “protect” yourself by rejecting all potential suitors before there’s a chance of a relationship. Your friend’s willing to take a chance on this relationship, and all you can do is to maintain your friendship so that you can be there for her if it doesn’t work out. (Assuming you want to, it’s also okay to disengage from a friend if you see them making what you see as the same mistake over and over and you decide you can’t deal with supporting them through that anymore, but it doesn’t sound like you’re anywhere near that point with this friend.)

  3. Not A Manager*

    Please recommend a light fluffy book with very simple conflicts where the reader can easily see the upcoming solution. Comedies of manners, cozy fantasy, winning underdog all welcome.

    1. Anonymous reader*

      The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Queen Elizabeth II wanders into a mobile library and become a bibliophile. Charming story and not long!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Seconding The Uncommon Reader – though its charm is more poignant since the queen’s passing. Lovely little story.

    2. kilo*

      I love book recommendations! Bring them on!

      Red, White, and Royal Blue. Total fluff, and I loved every minute of it. It’s firmly a romance. The prince of England and the son of the US President fall in love, sparks fly.

      Pride by Ibi Zoboi. Re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, set in gentrifying Brooklyn. Also tending towards romance, but insightful, compelling, and feminist. I think this won some awards.

      I haven’t read it, but Olive Kitteridge has been recommended to me several times.

      Sorrow and Bliss, by Meg Masson. The theme is heavy, but it is compulsively readable – I read it in one sitting on a transatlantic flight and ached for more when I was finished.

      Girl, Woman, Other. also heavy in parts, but a page-turner.

      Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. I loved this! It’s a coming of age novel about an American-Haitian teenager spending a summer in Haiti with her extended family. There’s a little bit of mystery, a little bit of innocent teenage romance, and lots of growing up.

      Greenglass House. A mystery set in a snowed-in hotel in New England over a weekend, aimed at pre-teens (ish?). Very cute.

      For cozy fantasy ( i love this as a category!) : Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy? The Once and Future King? Oryx and Crake? The City we Became? I loved the Broken Earth Trilogy, and am currently inhaling Who Fears Death, but both of these are kinda heavy.

      1. Philmar*

        Olive Kitteridge is great, but it is definitely not cozy, simple, see where it’s going kind of fluff. Not that anything terrible happens, but it’s about a complicated and not terribly likable person.

        1. Russian in Texas*

          Oryx and Crake is the first book in a trilogy set in a dystopian, and very realistically so, future, leading up to the world wide humanity dying out in a global pandemic event.
          It’s a really good trilogy, but it’s not at all cozy.

        2. Katiekins*

          Oryx and Crake is the opposite of cozy!! I read it years and years ago but can today conjure up one of the extreme, and extremely non-cozy, death scenes! (Great book, though.)

      2. Me (I think)*

        The City We Became isn’t cozy, I think, but it’s one of the most impressive books I’ve ever read. I am currently reading it again because I just bought the second book in the duology.

        The other NK Jemison I like to recommend is the Dreamblood Duology. Again, not fluff or cozy, but a very well imagined world.

      3. eisa*

        Re Le Guin :
        Earthsea is a fantastic series that cannot be recommended highly enough (btw, there are five novels, plus short stories set in that world), but cozy ?? I mean, the characters go through some pretty bad sh*t .

      4. Keiteag*

        My favorite cozy read is Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. Maia is the relegated youngest half goblin son of the emperor of the Elflands. When his father and all of his brothers are killed, Maia is taken out of his seclusion and must learn how to become Emperor. Maia is is uneducated but not innocent or naive and must navigate learning to rule in an unfriendly court while not losing his innate kindness.
        I also recommend Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, totally immersive magical love story.

        1. SpellingBee*

          I love The Goblin Emperor! I’m pretty sure I found it via a recommendation here. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was completely enchanted. She’s written 2 more books with the protagonist being a different character from that book which are also good, but I wish she’d write more about Maia.

        2. Storm in a teacup*

          I just read this two weeks ago from a recommendation on a UF blog I’m in. It’s so wonderfully written. Am now powering through the second one.

        3. OtterB*

          If you love The Goblin Emperor and you haven’t yet read The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard, I highly recommend it. It was recommended to me as a little like The Goblin Emperor from Csevet’s point of view. It’s long, which is the only thing that kept me from suggesting it for this request. And I don’t know that I would call it fluffy. But very comforting, with delightful characters, a fascinating South Pacific-like culture, and people who are trying to make the world better by making the government better.

      5. Bluebell*

        If you liked Red, White and Royal Blue, Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick is a delight. Nice Jewish boy meets heir to England’s throne and they fall in love. Also, I’ll Take It, which Rudnick wrote in the 80s is hysterical. Three sisters decide to go leaf peeping and rob LL Bean while they’re there.

      6. M&M Mom*

        Elinor Lipman books. There are many. My favorite is The Inn At Lake Devine, which I re-read every year.

      7. Books*

        These are great books! But I would like to gently echo the commenters flagging some of these titles as pretty out of keeping with the nature of the original request. Atwood and Jemisen are brilliant, but not who I turn to when I’m in the mood for a predictable, cozy comfort read (their stuff can be pretty bleak, violent, and at times disturbing). Like a couple of readers below, I love Becky Chambers and P.G. Wodehouse for lighter, funnier reading!

    3. RLC*

      Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, and Mrs Harris Goes to New York, both by Paul Gallico. Fun and heartwarming when you need a feel-good read.

    4. Rosie*

      If you don’t mind the older style of prose, any PG Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster books are perfect fluff!

      1. Clisby*

        So are Wodehouse’s Blandings novels, where the Emsworth/Threepwood family members keep sending wayward young-uns so they can get over some unsuitable romance – usually to be thwarted by the intervention of Galahad Threepwood, the incurable romantic of the older generation. Bonus if the plot has anything to do with the Empress of Blandings, Lord Emsworth’s prize pig.

      2. Maxie's Mommy*

        Love Jeeves and Wooster—just got 2 Male Yorkiedoodles and am trying to think of names for them.

      1. Loopy*

        Jumping in to second this. I still am looking for more in this style too! I’ve already read House in the Cerulean Sea and all of Becky Chambers.

        1. Alamance*

          Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell and Shira Glassman’s YA fantasy series are all in that vein. Also, there’s lots of middle grade/ young YA graphic novels that scratch this itch for me: Snapdragon, the Tea Dragon series, and Mooncakes are the first ones I think of.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            Loved Winter’s Orbit too!
            If you like this style try Matteson Wynn. She has a lovely series about a girl who inherits a house with sentience

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Mr Lovermam by Bernadine Evaristo – hilarious novel about a scoundrel of a husband and his wife splitting up after his love affair with his (male) best friend is uncovered.

      1. sswj*

        That would be my recommendation too. I’m revisiting all her stuff, both the romance and the mystery. Some really excellent characters!

      2. GoryDetails*

        Yes, Heyer’s Regencies are great fun. COTILLION is my out-and-out favorite, with its lovely twist on the dashing-blackguard-as-love-interest trope.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I also enjoy’The Talisman Ring’ for the way it sends up some of the tropes of the genre, and the secondary romance, and also ‘A Civil Contract’

      3. KatEnigma*

        Every time Heyer is mentioned anywhere (and for years, going back to Usenet days!) I always mean to add her to my list and never do! It’s like I have a mental block!

      4. curly sue*

        A big old warning on Heyer for rampant antisemitism, particularly bad in The Grand Sophy. I do not recommend that book – or Heyer – for anyone Jewish, or who cares about Jews.

        (And no, it was not an attitude “of her time”; she wrote The Grand Sophy with its craven Jewish moneylender villain in 1950, after the Holocaust.)

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          Yes! I read Grand Sophy after seeing it on many many rec lists and was absolutely blindsided by this. It put me off ever picking up another of her books, that’s for sure.

    6. Flufffffffy*

      MOSTLY fluffy, though it starts with something sad — “The Bestseller” by Olivia Goldsmith (she of “The First Wives Club”). It’s a novel about the NY publishing industry. The good guys win and the bad guys lose, and there’s lots of amusing and gossipy stuff along the way. The only “beach read” I’ve ever read, and I reread it every few years. Written in the 90’s so some parts will seem out of date, but it’s fun.

      1. Njjanyce*

        My Italian Bulldozer bu Alexander McCall Smith. The First Ladies Detective Agency series by the same author.

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          Love the AMS books about the Ladies Detective Agency. One of the few times when the TV show was as good as the book too

          1. allathian*

            Yes, I agree. The stories do feature the death of Mma Ramotswe’s infant child, and her being beaten by the child’s father while she was pregnant. Those scenes are retrospective, though, and can be skipped without losing anything of the mystery. They’re mainly there to explain why she’s so profoundly affected by children’s suffering, and why she’s still determinedly single at an age when most women in Botswana would be married (she does marry in one of the later books). But that thread does disqualify it as a totally cozy series, although I do think that McCall Smith’s writing style in general qualifies as cozy. There’s no malice in his writing in general.

            If cozy mysteries are your thing, I’d recommend “The Cat Who…” books by Lilian Jackson Brown. Some of the crimes are violent, but they usually happen off stage. Unusual in that the first few books were written in the late 1960s, and the author continued the series in the 1980s, and the last one was published in 2007.

        1. Flufffffffy*

          Boy, would I love to talk to you. I’ve read The Bestseller many times and there’s still a part at the end that makes absolutely NO sense to me, but it’s such an “old” book that no one I know has read it recently enough to help me figure it out.

    7. PhyllisB*

      I just finished A Charmed Christmas by Shelia Roberts. Very sweet book, and if you ever watched The Love Boat you will really like it.

    8. Melanie Cavill*

      The Stand-In by Lily Chu. A young American woman is offered a lot of money to be a stand-in for a Chinese cinema star. The conflict is a bit silly but this book got me through a bad stretch of health-related anxiety. It’s blissfully basic and I mean that in the best way possible.

    9. OtterB*

      To Hive and to Hold, Amy Crook. Fantasy set in our world after magic becomes a thing but some tech like solar panels is still in use. Apothecarist who grows plants and a hive of magic bees on his roof meets new neighbor, a magical tattooist. Slow paced low key romance, a very little conflict with tattooist’s previous magic teacher. Lots of community as the characters interact and barter with different groups with different lifestyles.

      1. JustForThis*

        I’m reading it right now, based on your recommendation, and so far (about a third in) it is a delightful feel-good community-and-light-romance with a hint of possible darker conflicts in the protagonist’s past. Lots of descriptions of simple yet yummy dishes, and its protagonists enjoying their teas and infusions (with a perfectly measured splash of milk or trickle of honey) made me drink several pots of tea to keep them company.

    10. AY*

      There are a lot of good travel-based nonfiction books that read like warm hugs. Julia Child’s My Life in France is about her early married life and learning to cook in France.

      My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell is a really sweet book about a slightly eccentric British family who moves to Corfu in Greece. Lots of gentle hijinks.

      Just started My Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, which is about a British man who buys an old house in, you guessed it, Provence.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh my gosh, these are all wonderful books. Under the Tuscan Sun is really great too, in that same vein

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          Loved these books!
          Also Carol Drinkwater books – The Olive Farm is the first one. It’s about how her husband and her move to a place in Provence.

          One of my favourite cosy movies is Meryl in Jules et Julia (I forward through the modern day bits and just watch Meryl and Stanley Tucci). Actually just watching Stanley Tucci’s Instagram is pretty cosy

          1. I take tea*

            I find the modern parts of the movie boring too. There’s a cut version on Vimeo with only the Julia parts.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, which I think I first learned about on a thread here. I listened to the audiobook and it was charming. I’m sure it’s just as delightful to read.

      Late 2oth century American comedies of manners: pretty much anything by Laurie Colwin, of blessed memory. My favorite is “Happy All the Time.” I love them all.

      I also love Jennifer Weiner. Some of her books have a dark streak but they all have happy endings and usually a winning underdog. “Good in Bed” is her first and definitely fluffy as is “In Her Shoes.”

      I picked up “One Day in December” by Josie Silver in an airport last year and gobbled it. Fluffy, fun, meets your criteria, and well-written.

      1. mememe*

        I have to say I hated “One Day in December” — I noped out of it when I saw where it was going to end.

        I still need to try “The Wisteria Society” — it sounds wonderful!

    12. Bluebell*

      Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting is just lovely and very funny. The Guncle by Steven Rowley has a gay man taking care of his young niece and nephew in Palm Springs, and it definitely has Auntie Mame vibes. The Switch by Beth O’Leary has a young woman switching living places with her grandmother, and they both experience new things in their changed situations.

    13. GoryDetails*

      I haven’t finished this one yet but it seems to be in your ballpark: ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE by Alexis Hall, in which Rosaline, a single mother with a precocious 8-year-old daughter, overbearing and disapproving parents, and a history of having not the best relationships (whether with men or women), gets on a noted British baking show (yes, very much like That One) and has to juggle the baking, her home life, and her growing interest in more than one of the contestants. It’s very funny – and quite revealing re the behind-the-scenes bits of reality-TV – and if Rosaline’s issues make her annoyingly indecisive at times I’m enjoying it so far. [Am listening to the audiobook version, btw; the narrator’s pretty good, though I’ve noticed several places where she missed the proper emphasis in a sentence, so there’s that.]

      1. ivy*

        someone else mentioned Number One Ladies Detective Series by Alexander McCall Smith – great but for cozy, I think that the Scotland St / Bertie stories win out. Set in Edinburgh, very gentle read, everyone is lovely, worse that happens is minor confusion that gets resolved.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott, approved by the Wodehouse estate. Really delightful revisiting of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, who now get to be spies. For added nerdliness there’s an index of references to the original series.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Tupper Isn’t Going Out Today by Calvin Trillin, about the blood sport that is alternate side street parking in NYC. All blood is strictly metaphorical.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is great and delightfully weird. Not very predictable, though.
        Bill Bryson has very enjoyable nonfiction-great as you can stop pretty much any time and continue later, even weeks later.

    15. Scrabster*

      Whisky Galore by Compton MacKenzie – set on two fictional islands in the Outer Hebrides in WWII where “there was no more whisky” due to rationing until a ship with lend lease supplies runs aground. Humour, love and whisky!

      If you like fantasy, Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld springs to mind. My favorites are probably Lords and Ladies and Guards!Guards!

      The Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman

    16. Swix*

      Becky Chamber’s Monk & Robot series (starts with Psalm for the Wild Built). “Cozy sci fi” is how I’ve been describing it to friends all year. And they’re fairly short books.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          True. More like “things to figure out.”
          I loved “Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch” the best

    17. Irish Teacher*

      Maeve Binchy has a lot of books that probably fit into this category. “Full House” is about parents trying to get their kids to move out. “Night of Rain and Stars” is about a group of strangers befriending each other on holiday in Greece. That sort of thing.

    18. GlowCloud*

      Any P.G. Wodehouse.

      Also would recommend Tales from Moomin Valley, or other Tove Jansson stories for cosy winter reading.

    19. bright as yellow*

      Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot ( by Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer) is a cozy fantasy that my best friend gifted me and i gobbled up in one go. It’s an epistolatory novel, and delightfully fun.

    20. Westsidestory*

      May I recommend the Lucia series by EF Benson? Mapp and Lucia is the first one I think. Quite a world apart but the scheming is delicious in the small UK village setting.

      Something in the same vein: anything by Barbara Pym. I found this author done years back and often reread them when I want to peacefully submerge myself in another place and time.

    21. NaoNao*

      Plum Sykes of Vogue magazine does some delightful couldn’t-be-lower-stakes novels: Bergdorf Blondes and The Debutante Divorcee. She branched into cozy mystery but that didn’t grab me as much as the former two mentioned.

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

      Technically a play, “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. Very witty, and a happy ending, and I think checks all your requests.

    23. Storm in a teacup*

      Not sure if these have come up as not looked yet but some brilliant cosy fantasy, sci-fi or UF:
      The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I spent the first 20% of the book checking the glossary for word meanings then I relaxed and just went with it.
      Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews – not cosy exactly but more funny and light-hearted than their other books and just as brilliant.
      The house that walked between worlds by Jennifer Schwartz
      Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
      The long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers. This the first of a quarter of books set in the same universe. Sci-fi that is character driven, thoughtful and beautifully written. It is slow but that’s the beauty of it.
      Anything by Terry Pratchett in the Discworld series

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        Also for a comedy of manner with a fantasy twist try Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton. Imagine a Jane Austen world but dragons. Occasionally they eat each other (but with manners of course). Great read

    24. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Ooh I love light and fluffy! I recommend Lady Wilton’s Wedding by Barbara Metzger. A romance with an “hide-the-inconveniently-dead-body” plot. It gave me many giggles and was a good read.

    25. ScorpioCat*

      I’m a little late to the conversation but I really enjoy the Magical Cats series by Sofie Kelly. They’re mysteries but still light and fluffy so a quick enjoyable read.

  4. Inkhorn*

    And following on from Edward V1.0 above… Can anyone recommend a plant that will survive on a windowsill that gets several hours of hot direct sun daily?

    I’d like to add some foliage to the one room in my apartment without any … the toilet. The only space is the windowsill, and the window is in an exposed western wall which gets 3-4 hours of sun from midday to mid-afternoon. Not quite full sun, but – this being Queensland – intense sun.

    Any suggestions for what might cope without getting either leggy or scorched to a crisp?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I have a succulent at work that thrives in direct sunlight and doesn’t require a lot of water. It’s a Crown of Thorns and has little red flowers. Note that it can be dangerous for pets.

    2. Your Computer Guy*

      Some air plants will tolerate high light levels and are small enough to fix on a window still.
      Lots of cactuses, probably more than succulents if the sun is intense. My huernia zebrina can never get enough light. Rebutia albipilosa, gymnocalycium mihanovichi, euphorbia ferox all like sun but have maintained a fairly modest size/slow growth for me. Senecio stapeliiformis stays small/skinny and just keeps getting taller. Cotyledon tomentosa is very cute and loves sun.

    3. RLC*

      Billbergia (Queen’s Tears) – I have one which is 60+ years old and has travelled with me for nearly 40 years, happiest when it has been in a sunny bathroom window which probably reminds it of its tropical origins. The vividly colored flowers are exquisite when they appear, has somewhat sharp leaves which resemble pineapple plant leaves. Prefers to be pot bound so it can stay compact.

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I’m in Queensland too, and yeah, western windows are hard. You also have to consider airflow, humidity and how much the intensity changes between summer and winter as the sun changes arc.

      I’ve had better luck with succulents than cacti. I don’t think many cacti cope well with our humidity. My crassula varieties and echiverias are doing really well on my western window ledge. I only water them every 6 weeks or so in winter, every week in summer. Sanseveria is also a good bet, it’s tough as nails no matter how much light it gets.

      I also have epipremnum (variegated) cuttings in a vase in one western window that are going surprisingly well – I thought they would burn but maybe it’s still within the max hours of sunlight they can handle.

    5. Newbie*

      A cattleya, vanda or dendrobium orchid would appreciate the sunlight (when introduced somewhat gradually) and humidity of your bathroom.

      1. Westsidestory*

        Seconding orchids. If you can keep the humidity level high, you could have good luck with cattelya or a dwarf cymbidium.

  5. Frankie Bergstein*

    There was a post yesterday about not being excited for the upcoming holidays — end of November, end of December — which I completely relate to. I wanted to start a thread, just to get sooome solidarity for those of us who don’t have holidays that look like Christmas movies.

    I’m happy for the time off, for the pies I’m going to get to eat, and for the non-holiday-specific social plans I have and as well as just downtime — it’s fall/winter, so cuddling up with the canines on the couch feels perfect. I’m not angry or anything like that. I’m grateful to get time off (1.5 days next week, 1 day for Christmas, one day for New Year’s).

    All of that being said, both hubby and me had one abusive/narcissistic parent each (there are actual diagnoses behind those statements, it’s not an armchair diagnosis for me), so going “home” for the holiday isn’t an option. We used to host — we should probably start doing that again :) I’ve done a lot of work / will be doing a lot of work to be okay with that, to remind myself that keeping distance from them is a healthy choice — but the holidays still highlight the sadness.

    Is anyone in a similar boat? Can anyone relate? Is anyone spending the holidays in a less-than-ideal way and could use the solidarity of this thread?

    1. Filosofickle*

      My mom died last month and somehow I have to get through this season. We were never big holiday people, but holidays are still a thing and I don’t know how we’re going to do this. Where we’ll even do this. Thanksgiving will have a few people, but it will be just me and my Dad for Christmas. I guess I’ll make mom’s cookies? Dad doesn’t want decorations or a tree. No gifts. Everything, the things we do and the things we don’t do, will be tinged with loss.

      1. sswj*

        The first Christmas without my mom (who loved it and made it special) we went away. A friend had a beach condo they lent us, and while it wasn’t a happy Christmas, it also was so very different that it was a bit less painful.

      2. WellRed*

        The first Christmas after dad died we went to Vegas as it was about the mist unchristmassy place we could think of.

      3. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        I’m sorry. I lost my wonderful mother two years ago and it still hurts. She was always the center of our family and especially our celebrations. I chose not to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas at all the first year she died. It was just too soon. But now I am preparing to make some of her signature dishes and decorate the house for the holidays. Please feel free to give yourself permission to take it at your own pace and do not concern yourself if others disagree.

      4. Esprit de l'escalier*

        I’m very sorry for your loss, so recent and right before the holidays. My mother died a week before Thanksgiving (many years ago), which made it hard for me to gear up to do anything Thanksgiving-ish for a long time. You just have to get through it, especially this year — there is no really good way and also not many really bad ways. You’ll have all these feelings and memories jostling you, so whatever is the least painful way for you and your Dad to handle the holidays is what you should aim for.

      5. Westsidestory*

        I am so sorry you have this loss. Sending you a big hug.

        When my Dad died one November none of us – adults by then – knew how to do Christmas. My mom was completely adrift – the holidays had been built around my dad’s Italian traditions – big family around the table, the whole nine yards.

        That year instead of having it at the old homestead – we all went elsewhere – my eldest sibling moved their event to his in-laws, I took Mom to my youngest sibling’s home where we all cried trying to make the 7 Fishes. And played board games (another holiday tradition) for two days with the grandkids to keep our minds off how much we missed our Dad.
        So I would suggest – as others have – to move the location- if it seems there will be too many sad memories lurking at home. Maybe going to the movies or skating or some new and different activity. Maybe just a tabletop tree, in a nod to the season, you can sometimes find already decorated ones so you don’t have to open the boxes of family ornaments.

        Ten years on, Mom is gone too but we still have laughs when we think of some of the fun things that happened at that particular Christmas (they involve a very large dog and a very surprise gift to the man I married shortly after).
        Make the cookies. I’m the only one that has my moms recipe for the Italian Christmas cookies and I make them every other year or so. I feel very close to her whenever I cook the recipes she taught me. It helps.
        Wishing you a peaceful season.

      6. Tea and Sympathy*

        This is also my first Christmas without my mom, and I’m dreading it, too. In our case it will be a big gathering of my sister’s family at her house. I’m afraid that it’s going to seem like a normal Christmas to her great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, they will behave accordingly, and that will make me weepy. Or that they will know how hard this will be for me, be extra kind, and that will make me weepy. I guess I’ll see how Thanksgiving goes, and then decide whether or not to be with my family on Christmas. It will be the same gathering for Thanksgiving, but I don’t associate it with my mom as much.

    2. Aphrodite*

      What do you mean by “spending the holidays in a less-than-ideal way”? Have you had “ideal” created for you by Frontgate (the catalog) or Lifetime (a television channel) or advertisements that use constantly ecstatic family scenes of holiday time? If so, try discarding all those visuals and words and starting from a truly blank slate. What would that look like for you?

      I am crazy about the holidays. I always have loved this time of the year but since my mother died in May 2020 (my dad died eight years earlier) I have discarded her ideas and instituted my own. So … no gift. No baking. No huge hassle meals. No urge to spend time with siblings; we certainly don’t hate each other but if I never see any of them again I wouldn’t much mind–and I don’t bother with cards to them or anything else. I have gotten rid of a tall tree and now have only a few flocked tabletop trees (no lights, no ornaments) that I make into a pretty little forest next to an oversized picture of Paris plus some other decorations. I listen to more classical Christmas music like “Christmas in Vienna” and orchestra concerts. I plan to visit our downtown to soak in all the lights, windows, people, music and so on.

      And here’s the thing: I chose only those things that give me immense pleasure and dumped everything else. I am unaffected by ads, bad Christmas music, stress, too much time in the kitchen, and often all that other stuff that if you get caught up in it can make it the month (or two) from hell. But to do that for yourself you really need to spend time thinking seriously about it and not allow yourself to be guilted or pushed into doing what others want you to do. It may take some serious boundary setups but, oh, it is worth it!

        1. Aphrodite*

          You are most welcome. This year, have a holiday season YOU have shaped especially for you. It will be so joyful that way, and all those other things will not bother you in the least.

      1. Girasol*

        I used to go all out on a Hallmark Christmas until my extended family made an agreement that we’re not going to feed the capitalist Christmas machine any more: no more gifts. And my family doesn’t do holiday reunions. So my husband and I ended up celebrating Yule – the turning of the seasons at solstice time – more than traditional Christmas: some colored lights to cheer the dark nights and some big vases of seasonal greenery from the woods. I make his favorite danish pastry bear claws and my favorite shortbread to brighten the cold season. We stay home on Christmas Day, just the two of us, picking vegetables out of the garden catalog for next year’s garden and playing online games with friends who also don’t do a big Christmas. (The game is Guild Wars, and we go all out decorating our guild hall for Wintersday so we can have virtual snowball fights.)

    3. Rosie*

      Yes, solidarity! My partner and I live a long way from family and don’t have the means to visit this time of year. My partner also often works so I am generally on my own. I think I do a good job of putting a positive spin on it for people who ask and enjoying a few nice things myself, but it does often feel lonely this time of year.

    4. Asenath*

      I can’t say I had the specific issues mentioned, but I used to find the holidays very difficult. I think part of the reason was that I put pressure on myself to have an “ideal” holiday, and was miserable when it wasn’t. So I decided years ago to figure out holidays that suited me better. I eliminated just about everything and gradually started putting things back in. If it didn’t work, I dropped it and tried something else the following year. My family is now very small; as time goes on, people die (to be frank), and the survivors live far away, although I do keep in close touch with one of them and less close touch with a couple others. I participate in almost no holiday entertaining (none during the last two years, although there’s one event that might re-start this year). My decorating fluctuated from year to year depending on my mood; recently it’s been nil, except some years I put out my mother’s nativity set, guarding it from the cats. I do things that make me feel better. I go to church. I play my Christmas music, which I love, although I don’t start early because one of the things that annoy me is having the holidays start in November and just drag on and on. I buy myself little treats, but not a big dinner because that’s work. And when I start feeling down in the week or two ahead of the big day, I remind myself that this happens every year, and will pass. Which it does.

      1. Magda*

        Yes, if you are religious, or just spiritual, there is a beautiful solemn side to the holidays that may speak to you differently. It is hard on people who are grieving that our Western culture has these zany merry-merry-merry expectations starting at Thanksgiving. A meaningful way to spend Thanksgiving is working for a soup kitchen or collecting donations (they’re probably very busy day-of and don’t usually need volunteers but there may be other tasks). One of my favorite things to do is go to a midnight latin Christmas mass by candlelight (I am not catholic but also don’t speak latin, so it’s just pretty singing to me, although I am Christian-lite). It is serious and somewhat sad, and fits well with the darkening of the season and the possible hope of light. It is not cheesy plastic santa explosion.

    5. Kate*

      One of our local stores instituted a “carol-free Friday” this year. people named Carol are still allowed (haha) but it’s one day a week where people who find Christmas hard and/or who are sick of endless renditions of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and/or have sensory issues can shop in peace.

      As far as I am concerned, it’s the best idea ever.

      1. AGD*

        This is amazing!

        (The fact that I’m Jewish doesn’t automatically mean that I dislike Christmas, but every year, the “holiday music” – which in practice means 6 weeks of about 14 Christmas songs on rotation, approximately 12 of which I don’t think I need to hear ever again – means I actively avoid the supermarkets.)

      2. Irish Teacher*

        That sounds awesome. There are so many reasons why people might find the constant lights and decorations and Christmas music difficult, from sensory issues to bad memories of Christmas to the loss of a family member or friend, especially one who loved the Christmas season.

    6. Bluebird*

      Yes I am also in a similar boat and the holidays leave me quite blue and feeling like the only one not enjoying them. Besides finding your way to celebrate, find things to do with your extra time off that bring joy to you- finally catching up on reading, trying a new recipe, time out in nature. As for spending time with friends, definitely helpful over staying home by yourself, but make it super simple: tea and cookies, wine, etc. Trying to make it big and perfect is one of the things that gets me down.

    7. Choggy*

      This has been a very busy, stressful year and I find that I get anxious about visiting over the holidays, especially if I have to drive anywhere longer than 1/2 hour since my commute is long. I told my hubby we were staying home for Thanksgiving, even though we were invited to my brothers houses and his brother’s house, I just want to be in my own home. Not sure what we’ll do for Christmas just yet, but I have been hinting we won’t be traveling this year and staying close to home. I’m just so tired, and have no interest in socializing, the only member of my family I speak to throughout the year is my mother, and that’s rarely. We just aren’t very much in each other’s lives, they are closer because they all have kids, but my husband and I are kid-free. Sooo happy to have time off from work which has been a bear.

    8. Ugh the holidays*

      The hubby and I both come from troubled families and were raised Christian. We’re both atheist and have no residual desire/nostalgia to acknowledge Christmas with any religious or secularized activity on or around the 25th. Bah, humbug — 100%, baby, all the way.

      Speaking just for myself, I tend to start feeling a creeping dread (PTSD) this time of year, because deep down I must be recognizing that we’ve entered into Annual Family Trouble Time (even though I’m LC/NC with various family members). It doesn’t help at all that holiday shopping ads and promotions start in October. That said, every year I get better at recognizing the dread when it arrives, and I can try to deal with it before it starts affecting my behaviour too much.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Ugh the holidays, you nailed it. Hallmark doesn’t have a holiday special called “Annual Family Trouble Time.” There are no songs about the creeping dread, either. My small, splintered family’s holiday season includes 3 birthdays between Dec 5 and Jan 12, so those add to the gauntlet of sadness. It’s been like this for the past 6 years, and each year is a little bit worse than the last, in a different way. I generally white-knuckle through “the most wonderful time of the year.”

    9. the cat's ass*

      Oh YES. The holidays are hard-yesterday I had a procession of lovely folks in my clinic talking about how stressful it is, one after another. And surprise, surprise, they were mostly women, the holiday-creators, and tired of it. And here in the US, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! I think therapy and boundaries about what YOU and your fam want to do is really important, and really hard the first couple of years you enforce them. At least that helped me and as a consequence I’m still stressed but much less so. I take the week between C and NY off and do fun things with folks or by myself (I try to get a massage), i still do some holiday cooking and little gifty things and a bit of decorating, but I buy/delegate/have given up a lot of it. I hope everyone’s holiday season is low key and peaceful.

    10. sulky-anne*

      I would so love to be done with Christmas. I’m not Christian and not comfortable celebrating Christian holidays anymore, I had a difficult childhood and difficult relationships with both parents, and I’ve never really been a fan in general. It’s just work to me at this point. The problem is that my friends and family are so into it and want me to participate in everything and I’m too much of a people pleaser to disappoint them. Maybe next year I’ll escape to a remote mountain for a couple of months.

      1. anonyllama drama*

        Total solidarity! My family situation is rough every year, my mom died last year right before the holidays, and I’ve had a rough year for other reasons, too. I am not anti holidays this year but not super psyched about them either.

    11. Anon for this*

      I relate too!
      My family of origin is just awful, so am NC with all of them. The holidays feel hard sometimes because I do wish I could have a big chaotic family get together like I see some of my friends have. Maybe not hard, but wistful is perhaps a better word?
      Like so many have said above, I do only what I really really want to do. We do host Thanksgiving, with mostly my in laws, but sometimes friends who don’t have a place to go and are lonely. I love Thanksgiving and I love to cook, so that’s great, even if the in laws aren’t so much fun. ;) Then we do very little for Christmas. If I feel like a tree, I put one up, but that’s happening less frequently lately. I like to decorate my own wreaths, so I usually do that. I tend to do something very “non WASP traditional” on Christmas Day, like make chicken korma and homemade naan. And have an enormous margarita with it!

    12. Rara Avis*

      My husband and I host both Thanksgiving and Christmas for his brothers. There are reasons for this, and my husband does the lion’s share of the cooking, but there’s SO MUCH CLEANING and I end up not really enjoying the time. I miss my family, but they’re too far away. I’ve tried injecting some of my family traditions but then I’m the only one who eats what I make. And my kid hates being the only one under 50 and doesn’t eat most of the food, so makes a courtesy appearance and then retreats to their room with their device. I just want to be a kid again at my grandparents’ house (who would be 110 and 114) and have all the fun and none of the responsibility.

    13. Generic Name*

      My son will be with his dad for Christmas this year. Things are very tense with his dad right now, which obviously isn’t great. So my husband and I will be having a quiet Christmas at home this year, just the two of us and the pets. We’ll watch Christmas movies and put a puzzle together.

    14. time for cocoa*

      Holidays cause a lot of arguments in my household, because I’m unwilling to compromise the way my husband wants.

      His parents are both passed, and he wants to spend time with his extended family. My parents broke away from their own abusive families by moving far away, and I’m an only child, so I’m all they have. He expects me to alternate holidays between his extended family and my parents, but that would mean my parents are completely alone, while his side has 25+ people. My parents can’t travel to join in with his family, due to my dad’s medical issues. So, I refuse to not see my parents, and I tell him to just go to his family without me. He thinks going to separate households during the holidays is “what divorced people do” and refuses. So we fight four times a year, always end up going to my parents’ place, and never come to a resolution.

      Now I just go through the motions and repeat the same talking points every holiday. He knows he’s welcome to split off and do his own thing, and it’s not my fault that he won’t accept that.

      1. Overbooked*

        When I was newly divorced & trying to figure out Christmas, a therapist said something so helpful: that Christmas isn’t just one day. So freeing! In the decades since, our Christmas gatherings have taken place any time from the solstice to January 6th. Perhaps you and your husband could plan your visits during the Christmas ~season~ rather than 12/25?

      2. NaoNao*

        If you haven’t already tried this tactic, I’d switch lanes. What is the end goal of having you visit the family in person, on Christmas? Is it to show “yep, we’re still married and happy!” ? Is it duty? Is it moral support for the chaos or challenges of the extended family stuff?

        I ask because I’m thinking there’s a way that you could achieve the core goal without having to show up in person on Christmas Day. A zoom call, a special lengthly card + letter with tons of pictures, Christmas Eve with Family A and then Christmas Day with Family B, etc.

        I’d also drill into what makes the holiday special for both of you and see if you can get that separately and focus on that. Focus on the positives, rather than “my parents will be all alone and I refuse”.

        It’s odd that he’s saying “divorced people do separate holidays” like um yeah? Why would divorced people go as a couple to Family A one year and Family B the other? They’re no longer a couple and not obligated to spend a single second with ex’s family.

        His objection sounds like there’s a performative aspect to the holidays that he needs or wants so if you’re able to resolve that it might help.

    15. Not so jolly*

      The holidays are always tough for me because my family is a source of stress rather than love/joy. This year feels extra hard though because I’m going through some tough stuff in my personal life that I really don’t even feel safe sharing with my family, so getting myself steeled to get through the holidays feels like a herculean task. Yes, I know that technically I could bow out, but that would cause even more drama and I just am looking for the path of least resistance at this point.

      Solidarity to everyone else struggling this time of year.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Same to you, Not so jolly. I’m sorry about your personal struggles. I hope they resolve soon.

    16. sewsandreads*

      Just from the narcissist angle, yes. My grandmother is one and while I do spend the holidays with my family, such is the nature of our gatherings that every family member under the sun is there (in my father’s culture the family card trumps anything else).

      So, I know that Christmas Eve is going to make things hard for the remaining holiday period. It puts a dampener on the whole time for me and usually gives me a host more things to discuss in therapy. I don’t have advice for what to do, because I’m still dreading Christmas Eve remarks — I’m just commenting to say LC and distance is absolutely the best choice and I’m high fiving you for that.

    17. Gnome*

      I grew up with big family Thanksgivings… And my husband and kids and I just… Don’t do them. We have good issues, live far away, and it’s just not worth the fuss.. we are going to watch movies and volunteer at the animal shelter.

      We don’t do Xmas.

      You aren’t alone.

    18. Firebird*

      When I was a child, we used to combine Thanksgiving with Grandma’s birthday with extended family at my grandparents’ house. We would have pumpkin pie and birthday cake. Family gatherings ended when Grandma died.

      We had a Thanksgiving wedding and we spent the next 36 years going to my in-laws. We got divorced just before the pandemic started and I was dropped by his family.

      During lockdown I Skyped with my adult children and it was ok because everyone was in the same boat.
      Now people are meeting in homes again and I will be alone if my in-laws invite my kids. They will be with me for most of Christmas so I’m coping ok with that.

      Thanksgiving is the holiday that’s making me sad. It’s the time of year that reminds me about how much I’ve lost and I get fearful about being alone in the future with no family support. I’m grateful to be in a better situation, but I’m still feeling really alone and I can’t wait until it’s over.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        No advice, but I used to invite my x-husband to my small family holiday dinners for that exact reason – that he had no one to spend those holidays with (his family is halfway across the world) and my kids are his kids too, so in my mind he deserved to spend holidays with them.

        As a divorced parent of adult children, I can very much relate to the problem of a support system being hard to come by. Kids have their own lives and in some cases, their own families and inlaws. It is hard.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          ^ adding to the above – his family did not drop me (and honestly, possibly wouldn’t have if we lived close – they were the best inlaws one could ask for!) But almost all our mutual friends did. We had a big friend group and I lost contact with them all in the first 1-2 years after the divorce. Finding new friends to rely upon is hard.

    19. MEH Squared*

      I have a long and troubled history with holidays. I wrote an op-ed when I was in high school about how crass and commercialized Christmas had become (oh, how naive I was then looking at Christmas now). I hated holidays for at least two decades because of family issues and more.

      I used to celebrate them with my brother’s family, but then, roughly five or six years ago, I just decided I did not want to engage in the holidays any longer. So I stopped. Funnily enough, around the same time, I started losing my animosity for the holidays. I became neutral about them.

      Now, I’m at peace with the holidays. I don’t celebrate them, but I don’t hate them, etiher. Winter is my favorite season, so I focus on that rather than the actual holidays. I show my appreciation to my loved ones in messages on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but that’s about it.

      I don’t feel compelled to send cards or buy gifts except for a very select few. I still get annoyed at the crass commercialism, but since I can avoid it more easily these days (shopping online, not watching shows with ads, etc.), I can studiously ignore it.

      I’m single and live with my cat so I don’t have to take a pantner’s feelings into account, thankfully. In short, I pretty much treat them like any other day.

    20. Ann Ominous*

      My partner and I made holidays our own as soon as we started living together. We visit family or we don’t, based on whether we feel like traveling. We usually visit local family and skip the driving, and the lack of traffic jams makes a huge positive impact on our well being. We then take time off in the off season to travel to see family. When we want to! No pressure if we aren’t feeling it.

      We also stopped giving gifts. We spend money on experiences. I asked gift-givers (my mom’s love language is HUGELY about giving gifts and she feels incomplete if she can’t give) to pick a charity/cause and donate either the gifts or the money or time they’d have spent on a gift for me.

      My mom always sends me a picture of a huge cart full of the supplies she’s donating to the city family violence shelter or her local animal hospital in honor of my birthday/gift-giving holidays, and we talk about it happily. And in this way, her need for gift giving us met and my need for “No More Things, No Seriously Not Even That Perfectly Good Thing That’s Been Sitting in Your Basement And Would Look Great In My House, Nope I’m Sure Even Though I Can Tell How Much You Want To Give It To Me” is also met.

      We also don’t feel any pressure to decorate according to the fall/winter holiday examples in my town. My husband and I bring out these fairy lights inside lanterns that I love, and put out some lit fake greenery and spice-scented candles, and that’s about it. Focusing a lot on the concept of hygge.

      We prioritize time to spend in nature and journal and exercise and eat meals together too – this helps us stay in a space connected to what’s most important to us, which helps us stay rooted among the disorienting messages and stressors.

    21. Four of ten*

      My husband had open heart surgery on Thursday. We expected about 4-6 weeks of recovery. Instead something happened during surgery and he’s now in critical condition, intubated, and on a ventilator. Multiple drugs and a right ventricle assist device are keeping him going with hopes that his heart can heal. It’s going to be a very long recovery if he pulls through. So Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations are the last thing on my mind.

      1. Tea and Sympathy*

        I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I hope things go well for your husband and that he makes the smoothest recovery possible. Sending internet hugs, if that’s okay.

    22. Anon for this*

      It me :) I used to host a small family get-together, just the immediate family, at my house for Thanksgiving and another sometime around Xmas. Didn’t do anything last year as I lived in an apartment. This year I’m in a house again, and in one that’s honestly ideal for entertaining, but I cannot do anything for the holidays. My one son is in a mental hospital 1+ hr away with no known release date. My other son and I had a rocky relationship this year because of all the stress of our respective lives, plus the added stress of what we all went through as the family during son#1’s mental crisis. (Both sons are adults in their late 20s living on their own.) My dad passed away almost 10 years ago, my mom is in her mid 80s and lives independently and not far from me and son#2, but her health has gotten to a point where she cannot commit to a specific date for a dinner – she may have to cancel last minute if one of her health conditions flares up. I do have a romantic partner this year (something I hadn’t expected, that is going quite well so far!) and may have him around to spend the December holidays with. But for Thanksgiving, he is flying out to be with his family, and it’s kind of a work trip, taking care of elderly family members, so he’s going alone. So here I am home alone on Thanksgiving weekend. I’m very much looking forward to a long weekend of rest – I just recently moved into this house and do need a break from all the work that came with the move. But it’s going to feel weird, I’m sure. I’m thinking about calling or visiting son#1, calling my mom, maybe bringing her to the house to hang out if she’d like, but for the most part I’ll be on my own this weekend.

      One thing that’s going to be difficult is answering people’s questions. I’ve already been asked if I’m ready for Thanksgiving and if I already started on my Xmas shopping (we aren’t exchanging gifts this year, and I’m staying out of any Secret Santa exchanges between friends because I dropped a lot of money on that move and on fixing the house up) and I don’t know what to say. It feels awkward. I’ve been looking for a script for something to answer that won’t make the person who’s asking feel bad.

  6. AGD*

    Do you collect anything? I recently realized that I love hearing about people’s collections. If you do: how/when did you get started? How many items do you have now? What are a few particular favorites or notable examples from the collection? (Physical or digital or “some of both” all welcome!)

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I had a lot of collections as a kid that I’d totally forgotten about until someone asked me something like this. Ones I can remember right now: candles, dice (different sizes, shapes, round, inflatable), those little souvenir spoons with pictures of landmarks (I used to get one for every state I visited – Idaho had a dangling potato charm).

      The original 56 Nancy Drew books with the yellow covers – this would’ve been less challenging/satisfying with the internet, because I used to search for them every time I was at a garage sale or antique store with my mom. She had a list in her purse of ones we were missing.

      Right now I’m collecting a specific series of mini Hallmark ornaments (A World Inside – a few years were disappointing but I was invested in having a complete set. Super excited for the little owl this year!)

    2. TheDisenchantedForest*

      I’m casually collecting all 11 books in Upton Sinclair’s out of print “Lanny Budd” series. It started when I found one book and was intrigued by the book cover design. A little research into the series had me hooked – Sinclair said that writing this series was the reason he was put on Earth – and now it’s become a fun thing to check the shelves of used bookstores to see whether I can find the other 10.

      I have 4 so far – ironically, a few weeks ago someone sold the entire series to a local bookstore and I missed out on it by a week or so. I was a bit bummed out as they are very hard to find. But the hunt is fun and gives me something to do, so the search continues!

    3. Your Computer Guy*

      Plants – air plants, succulents, orchids, more plants. I don’t care about trends, I want freaky looking ones. Particularly small ones. There’s at least 125 around my house (but mostly confined to one room, due to having small children). Scratches my itch for more things to care for but everything I have can survive my 7-14 day watering schedule. Started around 2010 and snowballed.

      Yard inflatables for every holiday. My goal is to have at least one out every month. My kids love them and I get a lot of positive feedback from the neighbors. We only bought this house in 2020 and I’ve already got ones for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Xmas.

      Digital I like getting old/hard to find movies, particularly animation. I’ve got some old Disney stuff like Steamboat Willy. I have a lot of stuff from the more wild west days of the Internet.

      Beowulf is what got me into literature so I’ve got a bunch of different translations of it.

      We’re getting our kids Xmas ornaments that reflect something they’re into at that time – silly stuff like donuts and french fries and ducks.

    4. Hobbette*

      Once upon a time, salt and pepper shakers were my go-to collectible, back when I haunted estate sales on weekends! They were fun and relatively inexpensive (unless you REALLY get into collecting, not that there’s anything wrong with that). I got started in the early ’80s at what used to be a huge municipal “garage sale” in the Chicago area, purely because I found a cute little duckling shaker sitting by itself. Former finds include Robin Hood, “Grandma and Grandpa” heads, bluebirds, deer, apples, geese, and a baker and his wife. At one time I had 20 sets plus singles. My interest gradually waned and I donated many to Goodwill, but I still have a few sets that I just can’t bring myself to part with.

      1. StellaBella*

        I have about a dozen SP shakers that were my grandma’s. One made from redwood scraps, one crystal, some ceramic, etc. Totally get this.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        My husband and I have a collection of salt and pepper shakers that would probably be three times the size it is if we didn’t restrain ourselves. It started with the Pilgrim Pair Thanksgiving shakers from Publix, and just multiplied from there. We have a pair of bride and groom zombies AND a pair of pumpkins for Halloween, two very cute sets of bunnies for Easter, Mr and Mrs Claus and a pair of polar bears with scarves for Christmas, and several for certain seasons or vibes. Our latest are a grill and cooler for summer. His favorite are a pair of chefs from a collection Hobby Lobby had a few years ago that we call Jeeves and Wooster.

    5. ww*

      Antique postcards! Preference is ones that have been sent/written on, and the older the better – currently my oldest is from 1895, Yiddish High Holiday greetings sent from Tsarist Russia to Germany only to somehow end up being sold at a Midtown Manhattan Hyatt in 2018. I also look for weird or funny card fronts and am almost but not quite done collecting at least one from every state.

      I have a few photo albums worth at this point; my first four cards were purchased as a preteen and have been slowly adding on ever since, with my budget in the last few years allowing for more intensive buys (there are whole postcard conventions! who knew). I’ve always loved old things, my decorative style is “the Cloisters but 95% less Catholic,” but as it turns out many old things are very expensive and postcards are not (unless you’re at a postcard con. Embarrassed to admit how much I have spent at postcard cons) so it scratches the itch. Am by no means an expert and am not concerned with value – some of these things are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars – but I love the messages that prove people have always been people. Have a card from the 1910s that is just a paragraph of dick jokes, have one written in 1909 by a woman who says she’s off to Vassar to study women’s rights…

      It’s also a hobby that forces you to really consider the history behind what you’re buying. I’m Jewish so I’ve decided to be darkly amused by how 99% of the time with con sellers (average demographics of the cons I have been to: 65, white, from Des Moines or similar, Not Jewish), their Judaica sections consist of maybe a holiday greeting card or two and then 40 incredibly anti-Semitic ones. Have a bunch of those too and it always gets me how totally banal the messages are.

      1. AGD*

        Am also Jewish and this really made me laugh! I mean, definitely cringe-inducing (a stark reminder of how different things were a century ago), but still.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “Antique” Apple computers. I have my first two computers ever from the 80s, IIc and IIe, and then several of the cartoony looking colorful bubble aesthetic ones and one of the monitor-on-a-stick iMacs scattered around my office. Bonus, they all still work exactly as intended if I plug them in and fire them up – which doesn’t make them USEFUL by any stretch, but is still kind of impressive in its own right, since the youngest one is like 15 years old. The only model I don’t have and would half-ass like to add to my collection at this point is a G4 Cube from … 1999, I think? (God I wanted one of those when they first came out :-P )

    7. Bookgarden*

      I collect cookbooks, though I have cut back on them a lot. I have a lot of geeky cookbooks like the Final Fantasy XIV, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout ones. The science of cooking ones, classics like Berry Crocker and The Joy of Coming. Comprehensive American Test Kitchen and Mark Bittman ones. Stir fries, slow cooker, and dutch oven ones. Plant-based diet, Mediterranean, and gluten-free baking ones.

      Really, the only consistency is that with the ones I have bought in the last twelve years, they need to be pretty easily adaptable for my Celiac Disease diet.

    8. Porch Screens*

      I collect those little souvenir squashed pennies! Something that started when I was a kid and continues to this day. My collection doesn’t grow very often since I don’t get to travel very much as an adult, but it’s fun when it happens. My parents will also get them for me when they travel, too :)

      1. Wired Wolf*

        I don’t officially collect the squished pennies (yet), but I have a decent pile that I mostly got from cleaning out the Coinstar at work. The “most interesting” of those has the old NYC skyline with the Twin Towers (not a commemorative, clearly pre-9/11). That design was only done in two machines that I know of based on research, one of which was in one of the towers (probably the south tower observation deck). Just a bit odd thinking where it could have come from.

        I used to collect Japanese Pokemon items. That collection’s been in a box for a few years and I’m trying to thin the herd–anything Gengar stays though. My other collections are all over the map–KanColle, assorted anime, Ghibli, wolves…

      2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        Me too! And also the non-squashed variety, the round coins dispensed at various historical landmarks. I started my collection on a trip to Europe and hope to add to it once the current “situation” calms down.

    9. StellaBella*

      sea glass shards and shards of pottery from the beach.
      fancy tiny cocktail glasses usually found at thrift stores.
      1960s designed glassware, ashtrays.

      1. Pippa K*

        I also can’t resist fancy little cocktail glasses! I have a cheerfully mismatched but shiny shelf of them from charity shops and flea markets.

      2. GlowCloud*

        I also have a collection of pottery fragments! I always go for anything that has blue glaze (like a Bower Bird!) – I used to live near a reservoir where I could go beachcombing on a regular basis. My best find there was a WWI bullet casing!

        One day I hope to assemble them into a mosaic, or some kind of jewellery project, but I’m always busy doing other stuff.

    10. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have almost the whole collection of miniature model ducks designed by decoy artist Jeff Brunett. I stumbled across them online and loved the first one so much that I kept looking for more. I’d never heard of the artist, and it turns out he has designed a new model annually for Ducks Unlimited for more than 20 years, providing them as a premium for people who donate. Pretty soon I was on my way to collecting all the ones I wanted, searching on eBay for ones that were new and still in their boxes rather than used ones that were scratched up. Some took quite some time to find.

      I decided I only want the models of species I’ve personally seen. So I guess I could say I have a full collection since I’m passing on a couple others by choice. I confess I’m waiting to see if there will be another new model this year.

    11. Doctor is In*

      Elephants. I have over 100 figurines, statues, stuffed ones, etc. Most were not expensive. Started when a roommate gave me one in college. Once they were displayed at our library where they have rotating exhibits.

    12. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      A friend of mine collects shot glasses from all the places he visits. I thought that’s a cool idea, but not me. Now I have a collection of about 20 match boxes from most of the countries I’ve visited in the last 15 years (though sometimes I forget). So far available everywhere I’ve been, the boxes are easy to carry, and I love the different designs!

      1. OtterB*

        We have a shot glass collection. Started close to 40 years ago when my husband suggested it might be fun and I went on a business trip to Jackson Hole and got one. We still pick one up when we go to a new place – state, city, park, museum, whatever, and my adult daughter adds to the collection, most recently one from a lighthouse in Michigan. We have maybe 60? I actually need a new display shelf; we’re overflowing the ones we have. Wonder if the woodworker we bought the shelf from on Etsy (or was it EBay?) is still in business …

        1. OtterB*

          Wow, we have close to 120. Some are especially decorative and some pretty straightforward but the fun is in the memories of this trip or that occasion.

    13. Llama Llama*

      I have a small collection of turtle figures. They are mostly very small stone versions.

      My absolute favorite is one that actually is also a bell that you can ring if you press it’s tail or head and has a scene of Don Quixote on it’s shell.

    14. Llellayena*

      I collect teapots (I have about 30) and my boyfriend collects Lego sets. We just moved in together and it’s very amusing to look at the display cabinet with my delicate porcelain tea set on one shelf and the Star Wars Lego collection on the next shelf!

    15. Lifelong student*

      Campaign buttons- presidential campaigns. I have over 300 with the oldest one from 1896. They are in shadow boxes my spouse made.

    16. NeonFireworks*

      I collect souvenir patches and/or pins from places I’ve visited and events I’ve attended. It started with one or two when I was a kid, and grew from there. I love that they’re all a little different in terms of design but fundamentally the same idea. The collection is full of memories but it doesn’t take up too much of my very limited living space.

    17. WellRed*

      I have a small collection of pop up books. They are all literary or artsy, not childrens. One is based on Jabberwocky, another on Monets house and another is Botticellis Bed & Breakfast.

    18. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Books. Louisa May Alcott (have all of those, many in older editions, no firsts). Eugene O’Neill (have all of the published plays, many firsts, plus the Wilderness Edition and several limited editions that are signed). My favorite is “Strange Interlude” signed by the original Broadway cast – a gift from my husband and my parents years ago. Judaica and Jewish study books, none old except the Bibles and prayerbook I inherited from my family.

      While I don’t collect china, I have two plates I treasure. They’re white porcelain and say VOTES FOR WOMEN on the rim. I bought them in the 1990s from an antique store – they had a whole set that apparently belonged to a wealthy Suffragette in the early 1900s. They are displayed in my living room and they delight me every time I look at them.

    19. Animal worker*

      Continuing the animal theme, I have a ton of rhino stuff. Fell in love with them when I was a rhino keeper way back when.

        1. Animal worker*

          I’ve been crazy lucky to get to work with animals my whole career, continuing through now. The collection of individual animals and species I ended up falling in love with is incredibly random, the animal kingdom is really amazing.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            I would love it if Alison would do an interview with you.
            It sounds like you have had a fascinating career!

    20. ACE*

      I collect art and art toys! for the toys, think similar to Kidrobot but more the Kidrobot that existed over a decade ago (it’s changed a lot in the past few years). I have certain artists I follow / support. my collection used to fit on a tiny shelf and now has taken over my apartment and makes me so happy to look at.

      I think my favorite piece is one done by a friend of mine. he is known for doing anatomy sculpts on pop culture characters and did one of my favorite character from another brand. fun fact: the creator of that other brand saw it and the two of them have since collaborated. but I’m happy to say my piece is still one of a kind!

    21. fposte*

      This is an amazing thread–thanks for asking the question!

      I have big completist tendencies and could overdo, so my collecting is quite limited these days. In books, I’ve trimmed down the cookbooks a lot but still love a cookbook, and they’re often in e-book format so I don’t have to add to the physical stuff in my house. Antarctic literature also, though I’ve not kept up as much with that (I did at one point shell out for the facsimile unedited Scott diaries, though, and I don’t regret that).

      Aside from books, I like art glass and ceramics a lot; I have a lot of Scandinavian art glass and am not adding much these days, but I love using them for vases or whatever (they hold pens in several rooms). On ceramics, I still find things to lust after at art fairs even though I have quite a bit. I went through a stressful period where I did retail therapy on eBay by buying mid-century Scandinavian stuff, which I have no regrets about, but also a local ceramicist went through a period where I loved everything he made. There are a couple of art fair regulars where I’m waiting for just the right piece to turn up, which is of course the fun part.

      Similarly, I like paintings and hand-pulled prints, and there are a few galleries in the UK that tend to carry artists I like, so I subscribe to their lists and check around when they have new stuff. One of them very cleverly has a big virtual exhibit every year of small-sized art (they used to call them “Wee Gems”) that are much easier to afford, ship, and hang.

    22. mreasy*

      I have been collecting vinyl records since the late 90s in college and I have thousands. It’s a sickness! But gosh I love them.

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        I inherited my grandfather’s record collection. It’s fairly modest, but there’s some wacky stuff in there. I keep them in my office and it’s nice to look at them and think of him sometimes.

        Getting those records led to getting some of my own, and a record player, and some vintage speakers. I also tracked down a couple of albums that my uncle played on. He was a professional musician and died before I was born. One of the albums has a picture of him on it and my father got all misty when I showed it to him.

        I’m generally pretty digital, but it’s interesting how many feelings can be stirred up by some of these objects.

      2. Jamie Starr*

        I have a small collection of vinyl records (~140 – 150) by one certain musician (and related associates). It’s getting to the point where the vinyls I still want/need are fairly rare and cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. I restrict myself to certain (somewhat arbitrary) parameters. I don’t buy the UK pressing, the Japanese pressing, the Australian pressing, etc. of the same album. I usually stay away from re-pressings, too, unless they are colored vinyl. It depends… And mostly 12″ only, although I do have a few 7″. Yes, it’s a sickness! :-)

        I also have to resist the temptation to expand my collection to include other music because I live in a small apartment and don’t have room for a big vinyl collection.

    23. Lady Alys*

      Fountain pens, in a casual way. I have several that were made for me, one by a family member using wood from a building with special meaning. I prefer Japanese manufacturers (one of my favorite pens is my Pilot MYU 701, look it up – it is beautiful!) but there lots of individual makers and small businesses making pens and raw materials for same so I am very happy to buy beautiful pens and know that I am supporting those people too.

    24. Anima*

      I used to collect rosarys. I’m from eastern Germany where Catholicism isn’t wide spread, so getting my hands in some was a challenge. Now I live in South Western Germany and rosarys are fairly common here. (What’s up with southern places and religion? :D ) I stopped collecting since they are so available to me. But I got some cool ones, for example one specially made for pilgrims from the Sacre Coeur church in Paris.
      Currently I collect Lolita fashion (the frilly Japanese kind). It’s an expensive hobby! I only buy second hand, new is too expensive. It is a wearable collection and I do wear it to special.

        1. Flufffffffy*

          I would love to see the rosaries WITH the Lolita dresses. I suppose that’s been done….maybe even by you….

          1. Anima*

            It’s “rosaries”?!? Damn, English is clearly my second language. :D

            I bet Moi Meme Moitie (a certain label) did something like that – but it’s not my style (also Moitie is unaffordable either new or used).

    25. cat socks*

      I got the idea from my mom to collect magnets from places we travel. A lot of them are from Hard Rock Cafés. My fridge is pretty covered at this point and they bring back fun memories of the trips.

      1. WellRed*

        I have a hard rock New Orleans and house of blues Las Vegas. Was literally loooking at them last night and thinking how I want to prioritize another magnet next time I’m at a Hard Rock.

    26. Jamie Starr*

      Ugly magnets from places I’ve traveled. If a friend or coworker travels to a foreign country I’ll often ask them to bring me the cheesiest, most touristy magnet they can find. (I always offer to give them money. Magnets are an easy request because they don’t take up much space and you can often find the tackiest ones at the airport.)

    27. NancyDrew*

      I collect two things:

      –Vintage teen novels (everything from original Nancy Drews to 80s and 90s trash teen novels)

      –Vintage teen magazines (primarily from the 70s and 80s)

      This is partly out of love and partly because I run some Instagram accounts that use these items!

    28. Koifeeder*

      I have a small but cherished collection of koi chopstick rests in different colors, my favorite being a hand-painted one where the eyes look sort of swirly and confused.

      I also collect plastic dinosaurs! My favorite are the K&M Prehistoric Minis, and I’ve got two that I continue desperately searching for (Tylosaurus and Protoceratops).

    29. Rara Avis*

      I collect glass paperweights, mostly millefiori. My husband loved antiquing with his dad (they collected Robson cigarette lighters) so I went to a lot of antique stores and loved the look and feel if the paperweights.

    30. Just me*

      I don’t collect anything, but here’s a collection that charms me: My therapist has a little collection of small stones that are shaped vaguely like hearts. She finds some herself. A few were given to her by patients. Most are gray; some have vibrant colors. They were in her office before the pandemic sent her all-remote.

    31. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I collect more accidentally than on purpose
      – candles; mostly because I like their colours or shape and then can’t get myself to actually light them
      – postcards/birthday cards that have a beautiful motive or a lovely message or both; I usually don’t _have to_ buy a new one to send someone for birthdays or just a friendly thinking-of-you, but I often do xD
      – doors and gates, by taking pictures of them rather than collecting the physical object ;) I especially like iron wrought ones and intricately carved wooden ones

    32. AGD*

      Thanks everyone for contributing – have really enjoyed the responses! I have nothing much to offer myself in this regard besides an old stamp/coin collection, but I’m fascinated by what people collect and why. (I’m still annoyed that the POG collection I had in my 1990s childhood disappeared. Maybe I should buy some on eBay.)

      1. Wired Wolf*

        I have a big glass vase on my desk full of older foreign coins; it belonged to a dear friend of my mom’s who passed away about a decade ago. The friend and her husband traveled extensively throughout their lives; the vase sat on a table in their front hall, if either of them had currency left over after a trip it went in there and was just an interesting conversation piece. I’ve always ‘collected’ foreign coins; no real reason other than some of the designs are really neat. One of the friend’s daughters knew this and insisted that I take the vase and contents. I’m currently trying to sort the entire pile by country and have found quite a bit of silver in there.

    33. Reba*

      I collect things to do with textile crafts and technology. Some of my best treasures are a loom shuttle from a Lowell mill and (recent prize!) a heavy, handmade rugweaving comb inlaid with silver wire from Tunisia.

      I love textiles and traditional arts, and I am super interested in tools and toolmaking so naturally I love these objects. Plus they go on a shelf whereas my actual textiles I can really only have one displayed at time.

    34. GlowCloud*

      I used to collect postcards and leaflets, as in, the free ones you used to be able to pick up at the local cinema or wherever back in the early-to-mid 2000s. I would pick up anything I thought had an interesting design, and had enough to cover the entire (hideous, lilac) wall of my bedroom, until we re-painted a few years later. They might be still in a big shoebox somewhere, but I never put them back up after that.
      I think I started collecting because I liked Art class and wanted to have plenty of inspiration on hand. And then I quite liked having something complex and diverting to look at while my mind wandered off into sleep.

    35. Girasol*

      I used to fly and collected old novels about aviation, from the 1910 or so to the WWII era: Tom Swift and such. I got a kick out of scrounging second hand stores and used book stores for them. It was a hoot to read what novelists who knew very little about aerodynamics thought would actually fly. I enjoyed those books for years and then packed them off to an aviation museum library when we downsized.

    36. IT Manager*

      I “collect” state capitol buildings … I think they’re such a great representation of local government and micro-cultures (mostly – some are just bland and boring – looking at you, Arizona!).

      I take a photo from each place, and for a while I had them all up on the wall with a “watercolor” filter on each print. Fun to look at. The wall didn’t survive a move a few years ago but I still have the digital version.

    37. KatStat*

      Keychains – they are small and relatively inexpensive so I bring them back from all my trips and friends and family bring them as souvenirs for me. I have them displayed on cork boards in my entryway and always get comments on them. I prefer unique materials and shapes rather than the square lucite ones but have many of all types.

    38. Firebird*

      I like to collect things I can use.
      I collect clay cookie molds that I use to make cookies and chocolate candy. I paint the cookies with tinted beaten egg before baking and give them as gifts.
      I also have a lot of family china and crystal that I have on display. My kids don’t want much of it, so I’m starting to use it more.
      We found a large box of match books and boxes when we bought our house and I’ve added to it. I don’t need many matches, so I figure that we have enough to last a couple of hundred years even if we never add to the collection.
      I also save shiny bits from computer innards and make ornaments. I made a large wall hanging out of the round grill covers from the back of old pcs.

    39. Mari*

      I collect the special cherry blossom mugs that Japanese Starbucks offer every March. I only allow myself one per year (okay, sometimes two), and shop around to find my favorite. I’ve been collecting them for a long time, and lost a few in the 2011 earthquake, which brought my collection back under control. Sometimes I think I should stop, but I use them daily, even when it’s not cherry blossom season, and they make me happy.

    40. hermitized*

      As a kid, I collected key chains. I had a whole corkboard full of them. Now I’ve somewhat accidentally begun collecting enamel pins. Maybe I need another corkboard…

    41. anon for this*

      Fountain pens. Some are good for travel (Cross has good cartridges), some are good only as dip pens, the rest have converters so I can use any ink.

    42. The OG Sleepless*

      Oh! For some reason I never think of this when anybody asks about collections. Every time my family travels somewhere new, we get a Christmas ornament. So every year we see the whole collection and we all exclaim over them like we’ve never seen them before. (“Look! It’s the bear from Black Rock Mountain! It’s the carved wood ornament from the Museum of the American Indian in DC! It’s the London Eye!”) My college-age kids absolutely love it and they’ve been the ones to purchase them the last few years. We’ll meet up at dinner after everybody has been exploring and somebody will have thought to buy a Christmas ornament.

    43. Ann Ominous*

      I love it that you love hearing about other people’s collections! Can you tell me more about why/what you like about it?

    44. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I collect pre-1950s pennies and have close to 100. The oldest penny I have gotten as change from a purchase was from 1909. I’m still looking for a steel penny–I’ll probably have to go to an antique store for that.

    45. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      Languages!

      I studied French in high school and was a straight-A student; the summer after my sophomore year in 19*cough* I found an old Russian self-study book at a flea market and started teaching myself. It ballooned after that; I now have a bookshelf full of self-study books and dictionaries (and one or two PDFs on my external hard drive) for all the languages I’ve messed with over the years. Some of the more obscure ones are Basque and Esperanto; currently I’m in an on again/off again with Romanian and have my eye on Albanian and Mongolian just because.

  7. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I got a lovely box of homemade cookies from my aunt, and my friends took me to my favorite Mexican food place.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. Me (I think)*

      We had a lovely and totally unexpected fiddle jam at a friend’s house the other night. Made my entire week.

    2. Holly*

      I was sitting in our truck parked waiting for an appointment on Tuesday and – we’ve already had a bunch of snow here – it was warm enough that the snow was melting off a building’s roof about a block away. The light was shining through the drips in such a way that it caught my eye even from that far away and it was just so beautiful. I eventually walked to it and took a video but of course it doesn’t capture it (and I think the light had changed slightly by the time I was taking the video). It was one of those moments where I had that very pure sense of ‘ah, there IS beauty in the world and isn’t that divine’ which I haven’t had for a very very long time. A nice reminder of both the world’s capacity to be striking as well as my own ability to see it and appreciate what others might not.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      My cat, like most, is very picky on who he will be around when visitors are over. One of his favorite people is my sister. She came over today, and each time she comes over he will hide in the hallway, poke his head around the corner, and then when he sees her, he will do the sweetest little jog up to her for pets and playtime.
      For a picky guy who growls at the mailman, his little trot is such a ‘heart grows three sizes’ moment.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My favourite cake shop only does pecan pie for two weeks a year, around Thanksgiving. It’s their absolute best bake in my opinion. They started selling it this week and I got to have it yesterday. The slice was huge and just delightful. I bake a lot and keep thinking I should try making my own (already have, once, with mixed results), but theirs is too good to match!

    5. Bookgarden*

      On a whim I started watching Jane the Virgin and I’m absolutely loving it so far. It’s strikes a great, weird balance of being heartfelt and intentionally over-the-top at the same time and is such a joy to watch so far.

    6. StellaBella*

      Missing a bus home, so wandering into the Asian food shop – only to find glass noodle gyoza, actual powdered milk (for emergencies – have never seen this in shops here!), pickled mango, and a few other things that I love and would not have found had I not missed my bus. (the bus comes once an hour at night to go up to my village). Also getting to take a hot bath with a pound of sea salt mixed in and just relax with a glass of Hampton Water Rose, which is my new favourite wine, mostly because it is from Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse, and their friend Ali.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        This is such wonderful serendipity! I miss decent Asian food stores as there’s not as many where I live now as in my old town, so I’m very happy for you and your gyoza.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      A friend and I have decided to go to a matinee show in Dublin on New Year’s Eve. This was becoming a “thing” with us before covid, as neither of us is really into partying and we don’t drink, so it was a nice way to mark the end of the year. The last two years, we couldn’t do it, so it’s nice to try and re-establish what I was hoping would become our tradition.

      I also got a pretty nice new coat for the winter.

    8. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I got to see The Jinkx and Dela Holiday Show at the London Palladium, wonderful cabaret in a gorgeous venue, and everyone was superb. There was a great Everything Everywhere All At Once gag, too.

      And speaking of EEAAO, I signed up to the Vulture Awards movie league and added it to my Oscar ballot which makes my inner movie geek very happy.

    9. UKDancer*

      Went to an opera for the first time in ages, beautiful Puccini. It was blissful escapism for a couple of hours. Even better it was a special offer on tickets so I got a much better seat than I’d normally pay for. Unfortunately someone in front had a bad cold which they shared with me so I am feeling less well today. Still worth it for the music.

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      My son and I tried out a Thai restaurant while visiting colleges in a neighboring state. The kid who has always refused to eat anything besides Mac and cheese ordered a dish with squid and loved it!

    11. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      I found a nut-free chocolate company! It was such a treat getting to eat pretty, fancy holiday-themed chocolate, which I never get to do.

    12. DarthVelma*

      We tried a new restaurant last night and discovered a new comfort food that I can have delivered – chicken pot pie soup. The soup was delicious…but the best part is that it has crumbled up crust sprinkled on top AND you can order extra crust sprinkles. I am in heaven. :-)

    13. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My kid is home! Picked her up this morning and she is asleep upstairs. She’s 22 and this is her first time home since she graduated college last spring and oh, we have missed her. Already baked her favorite pumpkin bread and had it waiting. Plus I made challah yesterday so we can have the best French toast tomorrow morning. My heart is happy.

    14. Paralegal Part Deaux*

      Well, I slammed my thumb in a filing cabinet and, after explaining to the doctor what I doofus I can be, it’s not broken! Just sore and severely bruised! I’m hoping I don’t lose the nail completely but still happy I didn’t break my thumb and have to wear a splint for 6 weeks.

    15. the cat's ass*

      My DD had a lovely birthday, with a trip to Japantown and a sleepover with her 5 besties.

      A conflict at … was solved making everyone less stressed.

      I finally found a nice bakery because alas, my old fave closed!

      I’m looking at a 4 and a half day stretch off!

    16. GoryDetails*

      I just discovered that there’s a limited-edition “Figgy Pudding Spam” out there. I actually liked Spam in my youth, and occasionally get some even now for the nostalgia factor, and if I can find some of this very odd-sounding special flavor I want to give it a try.

      In the somewhat tastier food category: the 2022 Great British Baking Show’s holiday episode dropped on Netflix, and featured cast members from “It’s a Sin,” all of whom were delightful – and were pretty good at the baking, too. Great fun to watch.

    17. OtterB*

      This is tangentially about work, but it’s mainly about not-work, so perhaps allowable. My new boss thinks I am burned out and really encouraged me to entirely disconnect for a little. So I am off all this coming week and have hidden my work email on my phone and will do nothing about that at all until the 28th. I will also be off 3 straight weeks at the end of the year including a 5-day retreat that I just scheduled. The sense of relief is enormous.

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

        What a great boss! I hope you thoroughly enjoy being unplugged! : )

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

      Former student said she got compliments on her citation skills from other professors after I was a hard case on citation in my class!

    19. AGD*

      I had a tough week for various reasons, but some better moments:

      Thought about a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and then only days later ran into him – at a place I wasn’t aware we both stop by regularly – and we had a great chat!

      The thread I started above and everyone’s responses actually made my day today (self-referential enough?).

      Things are going pretty well at my Friday-open-thread place and there were a couple of meetings this week that were a genuine pleasure.

      Oh, and the employees of my local pharmacy have an astonishing amount of patience and really went out of their way to help me this week – immediately after dealing with an agitated customer ahead of me who made a bit of a fuss.

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

        Oh, yay! It’s so lovely when you’re in need of a little extra help and people staffing a business step up and DO help — we all need a little nurturing and kindness occasionally!

    20. Voluptuousfire*

      Due to a family members motivation, I finally put together the coffee table and coat rack that had been sitting in boxes on my back porch for the past two years. I was finally able to toss the 20 and 30 year plus items that were just not my style and taking up a lot of room. Just decluttering both the coffee table and coat rack made me realize how much crap I actually have. The coffee table is also really modern and is about a third smaller than the old table. The new coffee table really opens up the room and shows how much both of those things are taking up in such a small living room. It makes me so much happier to know that I’m starting to make this room my own. I live in my family’s old house so a lot of the stuff here is random stuff we’ve had got 25+ years and it’s old, ugly and just needs to go.

      Thanksgiving weekend I’ll sort out the old entertainment center and toss it out and put together my new TV stand which is much smaller and looks so much better.

    21. Don'tbeadork*

      Wednesday evening, Central office announced an early release Friday for the students starting at 12:45 for the HS. Thursday evening they said teachers could go at 2:45. The schedule was classes until 12, then everyone was out monitoring students at lunch, then at 12:45 the faculty could go to lunch and back at work by 1:30.

      Our principals told us that we would be working in our rooms with the doors closed and locked after lunch. And maybe with the lights out. Closed and locked and we aren’t going to be checking on you, understand?

      And there were a couple of teachers who didn’t understand that we had been dismissed to lunch and don’t come back until it was spelled out for them by someone else.

      Those extra three hours of break were a lovely surprise.

    22. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My daughter had a mental health incident last week, and I’m grateful that we were able to get her into a day program where she goes for two weeks of treatments from 8 am – 2 pm daily and is able to go home in the evenings. I’m grateful for the doctors who made such a quick referral and that we were able to get her into the program while she is still covered under our insurance (she turns 26 this week and will therefore lose our coverage at the end of this month). We went to a museum together yesterday and she seemed happier and stronger.

  8. Anonymous cat*

    Alison, I know this is the no-work thread but could we have an exception for ex-Twitter employees? I’m really wondering what’s happening to the people there and how Twitter is handling the whole situation.

    If no, then never mind!

    1. Old and Discouraged*

      There are threads on the Friday open threads for that, people can go back to those if they want to talk about that.

  9. InTheCity*

    How do you come to terms when an experience doesn’t work out as expected and you’re grappling with the decision to cut your losses vs try harder to improve things?

    I posted a few weeks ago about being disappointed at the lack of friends I have made since moving to my large city a few years ago. Combined with the high COL, I’ve been having really strong feelings the last few months (for the first time) of moving back to home city where I have a great group of friends I’m still very close with and see often. I’ve never been good at cutting losses – I usually lean towards ‘you control the life you lead’ and 9/10, I will put myself out there and work to turn things around. This time, trying to turn this around feels like running into a brick wall.

    What’s weighing me down is I feel embarrassed and a little guilty. I expected when I eventually moved back home, I’d be leaving with a great group of friends and memories. Instead I have very few of both of those things. I feel guilty that I’m exhausted of trying to make friends. I know a large part of my indecision revolves around the need to create this great life to leave behind- I feel a lot of sadness over letting go of this ‘dream’ that seemed so simple.

    My lease is up in June. I’m flip flopping back and forth weekly over what to do. I’ve never been this indecisive and I just need to be more OK with whatever decision I make!

    1. pippy*

      It’s been several years, you’re not happy, and you have a solution in front of you – so just move home! The story you can tell yourself isn’t “I leave behind a life of Intrigue and Mystery” – so what *is* the story you’re going to tell yourself about this experience? Go spin a tale you can live with and enjoy your wonderful friends.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      Please don’t be embarrassed or feel guilty. This kind of reminds me of a time when I saw an absolutely fabulous dress in a store window. It was a pricey shop, so I planned/saved before I finally decided to go in. Meanwhile, I had all these great thoughts about how wonderful the dress was, and how great I would look in it. When I finally tried on the dress, it somehow wasn’t what I expected. I *thought* I would love it, but, I just didn’t. So instead of me buying this great new dress, I left the shop. I was a little sad, but the reality just wasn’t what I anticipated. But I didn’t make myself buy the dress, even though I had invested time in saving up for it, and had made plans for where I was going to wear it.

      This is sort of what you are going through. You had a plan for a great adventure, but it somehow didn’t happen the way you originally thought. There’s no shame in saying “well I tired, but guess what? I didn’t like it after all.” So you *are* controlling your life narrative, in decided that this really isn’t what you want, after all. Don’t force yourself to “buy the dress”. Just because a dress happens to not be a fabulous fit is zero reflection on you, and says more about the dress. So IMO you, who generally have no problems, happened to find a place that doesn’t fit. So what, just go when it *is* a good fit! FWIW, if my plans all worked out 9/10 times, I would be a very happy camper! You are pretty successful compared to many many others. I too have lived in a place that looked good on paper, but the reality of it was totally different. Just leave, no regrets; if it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit.

    3. Ochre*

      Write the letter announcing your intent to not renew your lease. Address it and seal it. Take it to the mailbox. Can you drop it in? How do you feel right before letting go of the letter? Relieved? Panicked?

      Okay I realize you probably do this online and not by mail, but write the email and put a delayed send on it. Does clicking send make you feel relieved? Do you cancel it before it sends?

      It’s okay to say “I learned a lot in Town, bit it wasn’t what I was expecting,” or “turns out a pandemic is a bad time to try settling in a new community” or “wow I had really underestimated the presence of X [college sport, competitive shoe shining, keto dieting, llama parades] in Town and it turns out it’s not for me!” or “If the pandemic taught me anything, it’s that I want to prioritize spending more time with you guys.”

    4. Pop*

      I live in one of those trendy cities that has had a lot of people moving to it in the past decade+ (think Denver or Nashville). In the past two years, I’ve had several close friends decide to leave and move back to be closer to family. What they valued when they first moved here (the “dream” of living where we do) became less important over time, and all of them were craving spending more time with family and a lower cost of living. It’s okay that your priorities changed, and it’s okay to mourn that your reality is different than your dreams. Moving and making friends as an adult is hard, and COVID made it almost impossible for a year or two. Moving home sounds like you have a support network and lower cost of living (which will probably make your life better in some other, tangible ways).

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I was 20, I moved to Seattle. I realized it was a terrible place for my mental health 5 years in, right about the time I married someone who wouldn’t live elsewhere, so I tried to make it work for another few years. When we divorced, the literal first thing I did was start working on my exit strategy to get back to a part of the country I could live healthy and happy. I gave enough of my time to the experiment to know that it wasn’t working – no point in continuing to throw more time at it in case something would change. I took my good things that came out of those eleven years (including my career and having been introduced to the friend who is now my husband) and hied myself back where I belong and have been all the better for it since.

    6. Janet Pinkerton*

      It’s been an exceptionally challenging few years to make new friends in a new city. Cut yourself some slack—you didn’t anticipate the pandemic and how hard it would make everything. It makes total sense you didn’t make a bunch of friends and happy memories over the past few years.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I have never even had a place where I have a large group of friends or family (military brat)! I have had to move many times as an adult for work and it has always been not-fun. Starting over from scratch making friends as an adult is really hard and if I had a place I could return to, I would go in a second. I have lived in Milwaukee for almost 15 years and I have made a few friends, but my best friends are still my college friends and they are scattered around the US. Even my mom is in a city where I have never lived.

      GO HOME. GO HOME. GO HOME. Why are you denying yourself friends, family, and happiness? Your friends will be so happy to have you back!

      (And ignore sunk costs when you are making decisions! Otherwise, you end up in land wars in Asia.)

    8. OtterB*

      Your narrative is that you set out for an experience and it was different than you expected. That’s not a failure, it’s an experiment that yielded useful data. Instead of new friends, you found an increased appreciation for old friends and a desire to be able to spend more time with them, so you’re acting on that.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      You’re not happy where you are. You should change things up if you have the option to do that.

      For some people that would mean a new city. It’s okay for it to mean a city where you have a community–if that’s what you’re seeking, and you know right where it is down to the zip code, it makes sense to go there. (Standard caveat that Old Place was not placed in a time capsule and stuff will have changed. But you say the relationships are ongoing, and that’s what you’re moving for–not, say, expecting that place you lived when you were 23 and just discovering yourself to do the same when you’re 38.)

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

      No sunk-cost fallacy! If current city isn’t working for you, go elsewhere and be happy and don’t look back! : )

      You don’t have to magically create the perfect life in every city you ever live in. It’s okay to take the time there as just a learning experience about where you *don’t* want to live and move forward.

      1. AGD*

        Years ago, I saved up, threw my stuff into a couple of suitcases, and moved to a city I’d never been to in a country I’d never been to because I speak the language decently and everyone who had been said it was a fantastic, gorgeous, cosmopolitan place.

        Wrong move. I was completely miserable.

        The climate was all wrong for me and I was constantly uncomfortable. None of the public spaces felt at all welcoming to me, except for maybe one little park that was out of the way. The landlord had a mixup and put me in an apartment that was a disaster area, then fixed it by finding something only slightly better, then fixed it again by finding something more-or-less tolerable but in an area where women are told not to walk alone at night. The only people I met were those I didn’t have anything in common with. I found a job but it wasn’t great. Normally I’m easily entertained, but I found almost nothing I liked to do besides a few nights at the theater. I don’t really like going to the gym, but going to the gym became the best thing about most days – otherwise I just wasted time on social media in a desperate attempt to distract myself from being unhappy.

        I quit about six months in and moved home. These days, I regret that I spent even that long trying to make it work. I couldn’t have known it was going to be a nightmare, but still. Anyway, the point is that the world is full of different places and there is no reason why every single place should have to work for every single person.

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

          Absolutely! Just because someone else likes a city or you think you’re supposed to like it, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

          I knew a friend of a friend who moved from New York to San Francisco because she thought there’d be more lesbians there and she’d have an easier time meeting women. No luck on the romance front, and she overall just wasn’t happy there. Moved back to New York and promptly met and married the love of her life!

    11. The Other Dawn*

      Life is way too short to live with regrets. You gave it a decent shot. Do what you need to do to be happy and don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about it.

    12. JSPA*

      You control your responses to what life throws at you, but… you have to be more or less young, healthy, and somewhat insulated from what the world can throw at people, to subscribe to the idea that we each fully control our own destinies.

      Sure, “big city post covid” isn’t exactly “bombs falling on Kharkiv,” as far as intractable outside forces. But, “reality didn’t match my fantasy” isn’t some sort of failure on your part to manifest the life you envisioned; it’s just that one person’s actions and efforts don’t magically cancel out everyone else’s ingrained habits (not to mention, their own intentions and goals).

      If this chunk of reality isn’t meeting your needs, there’s much to be said for finding another part that fits better, or one where you fit better.

  10. Filosofickle*

    An odd question for bakers: Approximately what would dough for a standard 9″ single pie crust weigh? Only the bottom crust.

    My mom always made larger batches of dough for pie crust in advance and froze it in portioned discs — most are marked 4 oz & 6 oz. (She made varying pie sizes, usually minis.) She just passed away and I would like to make holiday pies out of her frozen dough, but I don’t know how these translate to a standard size pie.

    I make my own pate brisee, but always one recipe batch at a time and I’ve never weighed it so I’m feeling a little dumb here. Weighing out butter and flour would probably get me pretty close but thought I’d ask :)

    1. Not A Manager*

      If you have a bunch of pie pans, roll out your dough to the thickness that you usually like. You’ll be able to eyeball the pan it fits in. Either refreeze it as a flat disk (nothing bad will happen), or line your pie plate and then refreeze it, or blind bake it and then refreeze it. Figure out your quantity of filling based on the tin that your dough fits.

      I’m very sorry for your loss, and I hope your pies come out the way you remember them.

    2. Squidhead*

      6oz might suffice for a 9″ pie but could be a little short. I say this based on my standard recipe: 1 cup flour and 1/3 cup butter, plus a couple ounces of cold water. All that weighs about 8-9 oz. Depends on how thick you want to roll them and how much overhang you need to prevent shrinking, of course. My crusts do usually have some overhang, but not tons.

    3. AwesomeRoseNGil*

      Her frozen dough probably fits her pie tins, if you have access to them. Larger disk for a bottom crust, smaller for the top, I would think

    4. TechWorker*

      If you can find a British recipe for the pastry you want to make they’re generally in grams.. adding up the weight of the ingredients might give you a ballpark?

      1. TechWorker*

        Or rather because having to translate recipes is so common if you Google ‘how much does 1 cup of x weigh’ there’s nearly always an answer :)

    5. Roland*

      I have some frozen Pillsbury crusts in my freezer and they are 7oz each and listed as recommended for a 9″ pan.

    6. Ranon*

      If you don’t get an answer you feel solid about, King Arthur Flour has a baking hotline and I bet they’d have the answer.

    7. Anontoday*

      My condolences on your loss. And my heart is warm that this a way you are able to connect with her memory. Especially through the holidays.
      I assume there is limited room for error. And these reserved doughs might feel high stakes. What if you made a test dough yourself and practice.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        That’s what I would recommend. Pie tins come in different sizes. Also, how thin she rolled her dough could affect things.

        I am sorry for your loss. Don’t be surprised to feel more emotional than you expected while making your pies. (I know I do when making holiday recipes from loved ones no longer with me.)

      2. Pippa K*

        Seconding the test-dough idea. Also wanted to say it’s lovely that you have her pie crust for the holidays. It reminded me of a Terry Pratchett line about how someone isn’t really gone “until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.”

  11. Pack Your Bags*

    Last weekend, I drove to a city three hours away and got a hotel room for the night to attend an event. I originally had a friend coming with me but they had to back out. I didn’t mind going thought because I’ve done solo trips in the past and I had a great weekend away. But I was telling coworkers about my trip and got a surprising amount of comments about doing a trip alone. I heard ‘I can’t travel anywhere without my entire family in tow’ or ‘I wish I was brave enough to go alone, I just can’t do it’.

    So now I’m curious, does anyone else ever travel solo? Looking back, the last few years (pre Covid included), I usually once a year do a trip just on my own, without family or friends, by car a few hours away to attend an event and hang out in a town/city I don’t normally do. Does anyone else do this? Is it abnormal? I do multiple friend and family trips in a year but I find it relaxing to also do a solo trip.

    1. CatEars*

      I wish I did more solo travel! If I had the disposable income I would.
      When I was younger–early 20s–and living in Europe, I did solo trips. It was a great confidence-building experience for me, especially as I was still learning the language. Knowing I could navigate public transit, communicate with others, feed myself, etc etc was the best. I just went for it because I wanted to see cities and museums and such, and I’m so glad I did. I can see how, if I didn’t have that option, I may be wary.
      I just had a work trip recently and a coworker told me about someone she used to work with who INSISTED on sharing hotel rooms (even though the company would pay for two!) because she said she couldn’t stay in a hotel room alone. That’s a tough one for me to swallow.

      1. Ann Ominous*

        “Sounds tough, I wish you luck in finding someone to share your room! Off I go now to my own room now, to use the bathroom alone, see you at breakfast”

    2. acmx*

      I travel solo frequently! More often solo than with people (I’d prefer more of a balance, though).
      But I’m pretty independent. I’ve moved frequently, travel for work (again usually alone), don’t mind eating solo, etc.

      1. AGD*

        Same. I’m an academic with an adventurous spirit, but also an introvert, so I travel alone a lot – it’s rare for me to do otherwise. Occasionally this gets me into trouble – I just noted in a thread above that moving on my own to a country I’d never even been to before did not end well for me – but usually it’s fine.

    3. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I was always afraid to do it, until circumstances made me end up spending a week alone at a beach side hotel, and I was surprised how much I loved it!
      I decided when to go to bed, when to get up. I decided when to sit on the beach and when to explore elsewhere. I decided ALL the restaurants by myself – no compromising!
      As a mom of young kids, it was delightful!
      I’ve done it pretty much every year since then. Sometimes short weekend trips, sometimes longer. And some years it was an extra day or two added onto a professional conference in cities that interested me.
      I love traveling with others, too, but traveling alone is its own special joy. And I almost missed it because I thought I would be awkward and lonely!

    4. Not A Manager*

      In my opinion, this is not abnormal and is quite healthy. I’m occasionally somewhere without my spouse, for whatever reason, and will happily go out to eat or attend live theatre. People are quite astonished, but I can’t imagine foregoing something I enjoy just because my spouse isn’t with me.

      Also, we both have different interests and will occasionally have one person travel home a few days before the other, so that the person left behind can enjoy some special experience of interest only to themself, like a niche museum. Family have commented on this numerous times; I’m not sure if it’s censure or envy.

    5. My name is Tim Kono*

      Yes, I’ve done heaps of solo travel and trios because otherwise I would not have gone anywhere or done anything for several years. If the opportunity is there, and I have the means to do it, I did it. I travelled to several concerts, countries, went on city breaks etc all on my own.

      However, I do have friends who would not do stuff on their own and would then complain or be wistful about missing out.

    6. TheDisenchantedForest*

      I travel solo all of the time, even internationally. It’s completely normal, plus you get a bonus of being free to make your own schedule and do what you want. I’ve also had similar comments made but I say embrace the freedom and fun of traveling on your own!

    7. gsa*

      Solo trips are good.

      They are good for me and my wife.

      I’m going fishing at the beach tomorrow and she will stay home but I think he has plans with her best friend.

      After 25+ years, we figured it out.

      Go solo and enjoy yourself!

      gsa

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Nope, but I live alone, so more aloneness on vacation just does not appeal. And yes, I am an introvert. I still want someone to share my adventures with.

      Also, a lot of my vacations involve being in the woods for days with bad to no cell phone coverage. I want someone with me who can go for help if I break a leg.

    9. Samwise*

      Yes! I especially love driving alone. Or going to a favorite city, staying in an air bnb in a fun neighborhood, taking my time over morning coffee, walking walking walking.

      I’ve done a lot of hiking on my own too.

    10. Double A*

      I did solo trips all the time in my 20s. I’m in a time if life when it’s kind of difficult (young kids) and probably most trips for my foreseeable future will be with friends at least, but some day maybe I’ll do solo trips again! I find it kind of uncomfortable when someone tells me that they could never travel alone. I don’t really know what so say to that.

    11. RagingADHD*

      I traveled solo when I was single and really enjoyed it. Since being married and particularly having kids, not really.

      I have done a couple of solo trips to go deal with unhappy family crises, and one to a family wedding when we couldn’t take the kids out of school.

      I like being in new places and I’m not nervous, but I don’t enjoy the actual transportation part, which tends to be a significant portion of any travel experience. So there’s not a lot of fun for me if there isn’t someone to spend time with.

      I support there were a particular event I wanted to see / do, it would be fun – as long as there would be people there to talk to.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am a Disneyworld annual pass holder and go by myself (from the Midwest) at least three times a year. My husband gets less than a third of the PTO I do, plus he doesn’t like crowds, walking or heat, so he stays home with the dogs and plays video games the whole time I’m gone :)

    13. Bookgarden*

      Just want to say how awesome it is you do this! Thinking back on my life I really wish I had, but it never occurred to me to go places without someone else. Having the freedom to do what you want solo without having to compromise sounds so amazing!

    14. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’ve travelled solo for work and think I’d be fine doing it for short breaks, but just don’t get the desire to. I also don’t feel the urge to go on trips with groups of friends – just me and my partner is fine (occasionally, with one set of parents, but they don’t travel much these days), or me and one friend. To me, part of the joy of a holiday is to get to share new experiences and great food with someone I love, and I need that element for a trip to really feel special (I get so much alone time already, day to day, in my remote job, and most of my hobbies are solo too).

    15. StellaBella*

      I do. I take weekends away a lot, drive somewhere or take a train and just explore. I have driven alone across the USA 6 times (3 RTs) from Seattle to Ohio, Seattle to Alabama, Florida and down to California across to Louisiana and up and back. I have travelled alone to North Africa, Caribbean, many places in Europe, China, Korea, and the South Pacific. Also I prefer to travel alone to do what I want to do and explore without the stress of making sure other people are all ok. I have a couple of single women friends too with whom I can go travelling but really prefer my own company.

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      Almost all of my traveling is solo by choice. Road trips have ranged from an overnight to weeks. I especially love being alone in nature. I’ve backpacked all over the place and once had a bush plane drop me off for a week in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Now that I’m older, my solo trips are based at campgrounds instead, but I still love taking these trips and exploring trails by myself.

    17. TechWorker*

      I love solo travel if I’m in a situation where I get to talk to strangers (organised group holidays, or travel to an event). I’m not good enough at my own company to enjoy multiple meals by myself though :p it’s definitely not weird to do!

    18. UKDancer*

      Quite often, for work and leisure. I’m not great at relationships so when I’m not in a relationship I travel on my own. Sometimes I go with friends or family too but I like my own company. Last week I was in Germany for work and I stayed on for the weekend (at my own expense) and really enjoyed pleasing myself and wandering around. If I wanted to do an esoteric museum I could, if I wanted to go back to the hotel and have a really long and scented bath and an afternoon nap I could and I had nobody else to think about pleasing.

      I like being with people sometimes but I also like traveling solo because I’ve only myself to please.

    19. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Pre Covid I spent every birthday travelling to a city I’d never been to before- often by myself. Love solo travel, though it has it’s challenge, I think it’s made me grow as a person. I know how wanky that sounds but it’s true.

    20. Teapot Translator*

      I often travel alone. Sometimes I get the same reaction as you. At some point in my life, I just decided that if I waited around for family and friends to be ready to travel with me, I would wait for a long time. It is more expensive travelling alone, but as long as I can afford it, I’m going to do it.

    21. Magda*

      I love to travel solo, and it’s a good thing too, because although I have many good friends, I can’t wait for them to prioritize my vacation needs every year or I’d never go anywhere! I take different trips solo than what I would do if I had a group. My own personal comfort is not traveling solo to anyplace I don’t speak the language well – it just seems stressful – and I choose to stay in cities generally over the beautiful wilderness areas that I also love, although there are exceptions to that if I can do a road trip over a few days. My solo trips are slow paced and relaxed, and I will spring for a better/closer lodging so I can stroll around, eat a lot of food, and hang out in the room watching cable at night if I want to. My hobby is writing so I do a lot of trips where I spend much of the afternoon writing in a cafe very happily. Often, when I go back to the same places I have loved with friends this time, it’s not as great TBH!!

    22. Llellayena*

      I’ve been to Chicago, Denver, New Orleans and Morocco on longer solo trips (also, I’m female). I’ve also done some weekends to more local places solo. I do like sharing a traveling experience with someone else though. My solo travel was in part because no one could go with me. But there is a freedom in not having to adjust to someone else’s schedule and interests. To be fair, the Morocco trip was mostly with a tour group. I wasn’t entirely comfortable on a long solo trip in a country where the main language wasn’t English.

      1. Bluebell*

        Ooh- Morocco has been on my “sounds fascinating ” list. Which tour company did you use? How long were you there?

        1. Llellayena*

          Exodus travel. I think it was an 8 day tour but I tacked an extra day on to the front and back to do a couple things the tour wasn’t getting to. I want to do more tours with them, I liked the pace and the organization.

    23. CFandCF*

      Yes! I was going to say “less so since COVID” but I did a lot of long solo drives last year going back and forth between cities and that sort of counts.

      I will say that a lot of my solo trips also have involved visiting with friends (and especially in my early twenties, staying with them) and I’ve had a big trip where I did a big chunk alone and then the rest with a friend and a family member. But I’m very used to doing airports and flights alone, and I used to take long train rides at the holidays starting in college, so the doing transit alone piece is actually way more familiar than doing it with other people (and I almost think I like it better — if there’s a delay, it’s only myself I have to worry about, and airports/trains/airplanes — preCOVID — felt like liminal spaces for me in a way I enjoy). When on actual vacations alone I love the freedom to do whatever I want, without having to consult someone else. I’ve had some solid trips with friends and I’ll do it again, but travel is me time.

    24. Glomarization, Esq.*

      About half of my trips are solo. I travel to see family more often than Mr. Glomarization does, so he’ll often stay home for those trips, saving some money in our household budget.

      Also, he and I have differing traveling styles that aren’t always compatible — for example, we have different standards of what we’ll accept for lodgings. So it can be nice to travel without having to keep his needs and wants in mind along with my own.

    25. Voluptuousfire*

      Pretty much all my trips are solo. :) with the exception of maybe three trips to Europe that I met up with American friends there, all my trips have been solo. It doesn’t bother me, I’m so used to it. Quite often I’ll meet people to chat with while I’m there. I I wouldn’t mind a travel, companion, but I’m so used to just doing things on my own, I wonder how that would work out.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        For me, if I waiting for somebody to come with me to go I wanted to go, I’ll be waiting for Godot. Just easier to go by myself and enjoy it versus waiting for someone to go with, and that not happening.

    26. slashgirl*

      I’m not able to travel FAR but I’ve mostly travelled alone although summer of 2021 I travelled to Newfoundland with a friend who wanted to go–but we’re both the type that doesn’t get offended if the other one goes off on their own. We did some things together–whale watching, finding a sandy beach–but most of our time in St. John’s we often did our own things but still saw each other cus we shared a hotel room and we’d eat out together some, too. It was nice having someone to travel with.

      In relation to that trip, I saw this joke on facebook: “There are two types of people in every relationship: Partner #1: I have our passports, boarding passes, hotel confirmation number and car rental reservation. Partner #2: Where are we going again?” My friend is totally #2, whilst I am the first type. I even had a folder with everything in it when we went.

      I don’t mind travelling alone–this includes to concerts and movies. So many people I know are like “You go to movies alone? You go to concerts alone? I could never do that.” I always say that often times if I didn’t go alone, then I’d never go. These are also, usually, people who hate spending time by themselves…which I quite enjoy doing.

    27. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Traveled for work by myself three or four times a year in the Before Times, and often added on a day or two of fun. Took a solo trip this summer but that didn’t involve staying alone since I was visiting and staying with friends at each stop – still did all the planning and driving myself and had several days on my own during the travel, which I enjoyed. Went to Paris in September because I had a friend who was there for work and she offered to share her hotel room, so I wasn’t staying alone but she was working and I had the days and some of the evenings completely on my own. In Paris. It was heaven.

      I’m a woman and my mother (b 1935) was HORRIFIED when she realized that I ate in restaurants by myself on work trips. HORRIFIED. I loved it – I had a small child at that point and meal in a nice restaurant with no one clamoring for chicken fingers was my idea of perfection. I brought a book, ordered a glass of wine, and enjoyed the hell out of the evening. Did the same thing in New Orleans last spring – had a day to myself before my friend arrived and took myself out to the bar at R’evolution. Great drink, wonderful food, fascinating chat with the bartender and a couple of other patrons.

    28. Bluebell*

      I really enjoy traveling alone – you all are my people! During the years my kiddo was younger, I only traveled alone for work. Once she got to her teens, I started going away for an annual NYC trip on my own. One year, I did a solo trip to Puerto Rico because teen and husband had less vacation than I did. I enjoy solo trips because I can do exactly what I want to do, and quickly change plans if I feel like it, whereas my spouse likes to make a plan and stick to it. I traveled solo last month- my first time since Covid. I’m still being cautious but trying to figure out a good next international trip solo.

    29. fposte*

      I solo travel a ton. It’s funny how ingrained the idea is that it’s Everest, though; a friend was telling me about traveling through Europe on her own and I was thinking “Oh, wow, I couldn’t do that” and then I remembered that I had just done it.

      For longer trips I do like having somebody to connect with, if only for a one-off while I’m there, but I’ll still enjoy myself without that. And for a weekend the needle probably moves toward a preference for being alone–it’s just easier to plan and to do what I want.

    30. KatEnigma*

      In 2000, I was in my middish 20’s and an opportunity came up to go with a tour group to Ireland. I’d already been to Germany for a summer as an exchange student. I got SO MUCH RESISTANCE that I was going alone. Not from my parents, but from basically everyone else I knew. And this was a tour with people from my religious denomination State-wide. And then ON the tour, you should have seen the looks from people I’d only met like 2 days earlier when I set off on my own during free time in Dublin- you know, like they were all doing. No one would make any comment about it at all if you had a Y chromosome, and I’m not one who sees misogyny around every corner!

      No, it’s not abnormal. People need to stretch their minds.

    31. RMNPgirl*

      I love solo travel! I’ve done London and Paris, and an Alaskan cruise all by myself. I’ve done trips to LA and other US destinations solo. I have another trip to London next May, I’ll be doing by myself.
      I think its great because you get to do what you want to do when you want to do it. You don’t have to account for different likes/dislikes for what to do or eat.
      I’m a single woman and I’ve never felt unsafe traveling alone. I make sure to know what areas are safe or not before I go and stay aware of my surroundings.

    32. GoryDetails*

      Another frequent solo traveler here! (When I was young I remember people being surprised that I’d do such simple things as going out to eat by myself, or going to a movie by myself, never mind actually traveling; these days I think people are a little more open about the dining-alone part, at least.) I have enjoyed some trips with friends or family, but even then I need time to myself, and when I’m traveling solo I get to make all the decisions, and don’t have to worry about someone else making us miss a connection. (I spent a week in Paris by myself back in the ’80s, visiting the cemeteries and the museums and enjoying the food – and then one day I just didn’t feel like doing anything too adventurous and went to a movie: “Arsenic and Old Lace,” dubbed in French with English subtitles, which was… interesting! Not sure I could have convinced a travel-partner into that!)

    33. The OG Sleepless*

      OMG, yes. I go to a conference annually that is 7 hours’ drive from me and I love it. It’s in mid January, and I hate the holidays, and I love the feeling of driving away and mentally saying “the heck with all of you.” I do usually see friends while I’m there, but I have been when there was hardly a soul I knew there and it was still fine. 100% recommend.

    34. Texan In Exile*

      Before I got married (to someone I really like traveling with, otherwise I would still be traveling alone), I took solo trips all the time. I backpacked alone from Chile to the US. I traveled mostly alone from Spain to Jerusalem, meeting friends at some points along the way. I have been to some cooking schools in France alone, although those were group events. I went to Paris over Christmas alone one year, doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.

      It is not abnormal to travel alone. Not at all.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        By “backpacked,” I mean “I carried my stuff in a backpack” not that I camped. I stayed in the F and G hospedajes listed in the South American Handbook. Which actually, now that I think about it, are a lot like camping.

    35. Falling Diphthong*

      I view it as highly normal, though health poundings in the past few years have meant that I travel with my spouse who helps handle things.

      Some people seem to be mildly to extremely weirded out by eating in a restaurant alone, attending an event that interests them alone, and traveling alone. Many people really prefer a companion for those things, which I get, but the shock and awe response from a subset seems really overstated. Like people explaining their steak preferences.

    36. Alex*

      I took a big solo trip earlier this year and got a lot of the same comments. Like you I was originally supposed to go with someone who had to cancel…and honestly I LOVED that I got to go by myself. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, with no one else to compromise with.

      The only downside (well, apart from being able to share costs) was that some activities that I wanted to do could only be reserved in pairs. That kind of sucked because I missed out on some stuff I wanted to do.

    37. Chauncy Gardener*

      I love solo trips! Great peace of mind and I can take all the time I want, or not, wherever I want.

    38. PhyllisB*

      When I was single I used to get so tired of hearing, “You went by YOURSELF??!!” In this horrified tone of voice. Didn’t matter if if was a trip to the movies or a trip out of town. Of course I went by myself!! What was I supposed to do? Just sit home because I didn’t have a companion?
      Enjoy your travels and all your other solitary adventures. I still go places alone sometimes because my husband is pretty much a homebody. I still enjoy it.

    39. Girasol*

      When our old cat needed a lot of care the only way we could get vacations was to do it one by one, leaving one of us at home to fuss over him. I drove to great places, pitched my tent in public campgrounds, went paddling, went biking, picked berries, drove into town for dinners by myself, sat in camp reading, and had a wonderful time. It’s sort of a guilty pleasure when there’s no one to take care of and I’m the one who gets to decide what to do next. I’m a more serious caregiver now so I can’t go haring off anymore, but if I could I’d solo vacation.

    40. The Other Dawn*

      I wouldn’t say I’ve done any true solo trips other than one overnight business trip for a seminar. I loved being in the hotel room by myself, just doing whatever I wanted.

      I’ve done lots of car trips solo to go visit family or friends several states away. I’ve had a comment here and there about making sure I’m careful, be aware of surroundings, etc.

      One thing I’ve had LOTS of comments about is the fact that my husband and I sometimes vacation separately. Every year he takes at least four or five camping trips with the guys, while I drive to see my cousin in PA or do a concert road trip with one of my sisters. I’ve also taken a few actual vacations with a friend or my sisters, like a cruise, Las Vegas, or Canada. People ask me why I don’t go camping with him. Why would I want to go camping with a bunch of guys who just sit around the fire all day and night, drinking beer and playing cards? Or they’ll ask why I don’t take him on concert road trips (or wherever). Because he doesn’t like the band I’m seeing and my sister does. I’m not buying an expensive concert ticket for someone who doesn’t like the band just so I can have him with me. Not fun for either of us. We do take vacations together; however, we also each have our own interests. People seem genuinely stumped by that for some reason.

      1. Sundae Fun day*

        At one workplace, our admin was a Latinx man in his late 20s, married his wife right out of high school. She took a job that needed her to travel for a few days and they were *shook* by the idea. They had literally never spent a night apart. From what I could tell, it wasn’t a trust thing, just something that did NOT happen in their world. He said his mother-in-law couldn’t believe work was asking this of her and wanted her to quit. In the office, we pointed out that the women went to conferences and such without their partners all the time. He ended up taking some personal days so he could go with her.

    41. Marion Ravenwood*

      Honestly since I got divorced pretty much all my trips – certainly all those outside of the UK – have been solo. If I didn’t travel solo then I basically wouldn’t go anywhere.

      Personally I love it. The complete freedom to go where I want and do what I want when I want to do it feels so liberating. Like if I want to stand in a line for a super-popular restaurant then I can, or if I want to photograph some cool street art without getting told I ‘look like a tourist’ (um, but I am!), then I can do exactly that. Usually my trips are planned around a particular activity or event – for example, the last solo trip I went on was to Copenhagen for a concert and then I added on a few extra days for a city break – so I feel a bit less like I’m just mooching around doing nothing, but the whole vibe of feeling able to just enjoy my holiday exactly how I like and not worry about other people is great for me.

    42. Single Noun*

      I never used to travel on my own- I was always very anxious, I don’t drive and I have dietary restrictions, in college I didn’t have the money and once I was out of college and working I didn’t have the time. (Or rather, all my vacation time was accounted for visiting family and my long-distance girlfriend my first few years out of college- so I’m very used to going on buses and planes by myself, just not being by myself when I get there.)

      Then I asked a new friend in Montreal if I could come up and stay on their couch for a LARP event (they were also going, we met through the game), and it was like a revelation- I’m an adult, I have vacation time, I have disposable income, I don’t need anyone’s permission, I can *just go places*. And I went over a long weekend and looked up restaurants beforehand and did touristy stuff for the two days we weren’t at the game and had a glorious time.

      …This was in January 2020.

      So I still haven’t done much travel on my own (pandemic meant I didn’t go anywhere at all for a year and a half, plus now I have somewhat less disposable income and started grad school so I have a lot less time). But that taste of it was glorious and I intend to keep doing it every so often. (And I’m now dating the friend I stayed with in Montreal. ;) )

    43. Kay*

      Yup – definitely do lots of solo trips and I know plenty of others who do as well. I’ve received my fair share of comments about it but quite frankly – I just don’t care! I’ve traveled alone domestically, internationally, to places where I didn’t speak the language (I always learn some phrases before traveling anywhere), on adventures most people might consider nerve wracking (think bear country in challenging conditions or multi day hikes where you carry all your own water), to crowded events and personalized experiences (sometimes you have to pay more but it is usually worth it) to name a few.

      I personally think it builds character and life skills as well as weeds out problematic relationships with the added benefit of leaving you with incredible experiences. While it is nice traveling with someone else who can help you when problems come up or who you can share an experience with – it is also empowering to know you can get yourself out of a mess or that you have enjoyed a moment all to yourself.

  12. Clare Bear*

    Asking for advice for a friend with a extremely messy apartment due to mental health issues. I have a friend who has several chronic mental health conditions, including OCD and ADHD. One way this manifest is that her home gets extremely messy and she easily gets so overwhelmed by not being able to do a perfect job cleaning, that she just won’t do anything. It’s a level of mess I’ve come to expect, but recently a friend went over to pet sit her Animals for the week, and said it was worse than she’s ever seen it, and she was genuinely concerned that this could lead to health risks for our friend and her animals.

    Not only is the state of her apartment out of control, but she’s also withdrawn socially for many of our friend things. She’s only really in touch with one or two friends these last few months, messages from myself and other mutual friends have gone on answered (and this is not that she suddenly decided to deliberately cut out so many of us from her life, she has gone no contact for a week or two in the past, so this is not totally abnormal but everything all together makes it abnormal). We’ve invited her to group outing she would normally enjoy but she has not come, or even responded to messages. This is been going on a few months, I’m concerned it’s her conditions flaring and making her non-sociable. I know she’s close with her family, and heard from one of the few friends she still speaks with at the moment that her family is aware of the state of her life and home, and have been trying to help her.

    Mutual friends and I have also we would be more than happy to come over to her house for a weekend and clean, if that would help her get out of this rut she stuck her self into. But how do you approach this when she’s gone non-contact with most of us, and has always been extremely protective of her space and embarrassed by most people seeing it so dirty and out-of-control? We would happily come in with no judgment to help her, because we are genuinely concerned about her. But how do you approach this? Just show up and take over? Send messages that say we just want to help, even though she’s not been in communication with most of us recently?

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      1) Alison may shut down this thread because even though we’re discussing a third party, we’re still giving mental health advice which is beyond the usual limits of AAM.

      2) I appreciate your concern for your friend, but please don’t “just show up and take over.” Based on your own description (she “has always been extremely protective of her space and embarrassed by most people seeing it so dirty and out-of-control”) I think that the discomfort of your presence would exceed any benefit of your work–even though you would be offering your help sincerely and judgement-free.

      Maybe you can reach out to her family to share concerns and give them moral support. It’s hard to watch people you care about when they make not-great choices, but sometimes we can’t get more involved.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Don’t just show up. That is invasive, shaming, and removes her agency.

      Don’t send messages that are entirely focused on help, particularly escalating versions of “we *just* want to help!”

      That raises the emotional stakes, adds guilt, and makes her house into a project instead of emphasizing that you care about / value her *self.*

      With respect, the wording you’re using sounds quite judgy and shamey, even though I know you don’t mean it that way. “The rut she stuck herself into”? Please don’t say things like that to her, it is the opposite of helpful or friendly.

      Send regular, low-key messages that it would take extremely low thought or effort for her to engage with and that do not require a response: cute animal pictures. A cool thing you saw on a walk. A quick “Hey, thinking of you.”

      If she is very ill, everything feels like work. Even responding to offers of help feels like work, because there are heavy feelings attached. Send messages that carry love and require zero work.

      If she is in a very bad place, a “trying to make it through the day alive” kind of place, then an unhygienic house may not in fact be the biggest risk factor to her health right now. Just keep the line open and make it easy when she’s ready to respond.

      1. Clare Bear*

        I wrote this late at night when the thread opened so apologies if my words sounded harsher than I intended. I really don’t want to say anything mean to her or to intrude on her space, I am just concerned about my friend. She has gone periods of no contact before when she gets in a bad way with her mental health, usually about a month, and just seems to prefer to be left alone. We always greet her with open arms when she comes out the other end of it. My concern is coming from this seeming longer than usual, I haven’t received a response from her in like three or four months, and hearing from our mutual friend that the already bad state of her house is even worse than normal.

        Rut sounds harsh, but I guess I should say the cycle? It sounds like the work schedule she has set up for herself is helping this no contact cycle to continue, which I know is something I cannot change. From the one friend she is still talking to, she has a very flexible work schedule that she can basically said her hours for whenever she wants. That has led to her sleeping through the day, and working late into the night, which means no time for socializing, so she stays in her house and doesn’t see anyone. I worry that this flexibility she has found is making her isolate easier. I know I can’t fix everything for her, and again I would certainly not barge in to her house unless I thought things were truly life-threatening, I am just worried. But I hear you that all I can keep doing is sending her messages to let her know I’m thinking of her and will be here for her when she comes out the other side of it. I am glad to hear that her family is aware of it and is trying to help, though our mutual friend says she does not think they are effective enough to help.

        She has always been very honest about her struggles with mental health, and has even helped me talking through some of mine. I just wish there was something I could do for her when I know she is in a bad place right now.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I know you are not trying to be harsh, and it’s not the word rut. It’s the notion that this is something she is doing to herself, rather than something she is unsuccessfully struggling against.

          I empathize with you! It is so hard when you care about someone and practical help seems easy to you. I have learned from experience that trying too hard or doing too much just backfires, and then the person doesn’t trust you anymore.

          Keep inviting her to join you for things you’re going to do anyway. Keep sending notes. She’ll be glad you’re there when she comes around.

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

          You’re right that you cannot fix everything for her.

          I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you might want to think about going to one of the relationship 12-step programs, like Co-Dependents Anonymous, yourself.

          One of the things people work on there is becoming okay with not feeling like you have to rescue others when they’re in a difficult situation. That doesn’t mean you can’t be there if the person asks for your help, but remember that by respecting and honoring that person’s boundaries, you ARE helping — you’re treating them as someone with agency and with the right to make their own mistakes (if mistakes they are) and learn and grow on their own timetable. I know it’s hard when you have the impulse to “fix” someone, but take it from someone whom people sometimes try to “fix” — their boundary-crossing neither fixed me nor improved our relationship.

        3. Ann Ominous*

          Can you send her regular messages that she doesn’t have to respond to? ‘Hey, just thinking of you. Was walking past Misha’s Coffee Shop and remembered when That Thing happened that time we went. Have a good day’.

          And if you feel comfortable being direct, be direct. “Hey, I know sometimes you need to step back from social interaction, and sometimes it can be hard to make contact again after a long period of silence. I want you to know I’m here and getting back in touch doesn’t have to be a whole thing – I’m just here and I love you!”

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I would keep your messages to more low stakes, safe topics which will just keep the flag waving for now. If constantly giving invitations and offering help is not helping, stop doing that. You have made an offer of help; she won’t forget it. So, while her unresponsive is a clear no, just keep it light. A picture of something that would make her happy, a “remember when”, an inside joke. You show that she’s more than just what she’s not doing.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Honestly, there’s not very much you can do. She knows you are willing to help, and she has rejected it and her family already knows. Drop her light messages occasionally (but don’t repeat offers to help), even if she doesn’t respond, and be there when she’s ready.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      Ooh, to me that’s a hard one. My cousin did this, except the family didn’t know. It was not totally out of character for her to just go no contact with everybody for periods of time, so when she didn’t return anybody’s calls for several weeks nobody was overly alarmed. She didn’t tell her friends much either. Well…one of her friends talked to her just enough to get really concerned, and they ended up calling 911. The EMTs got to her house and she was having a medical crisis, but they couldn’t even open the front door because she had developed such extreme hoarding. She was taken to the hospital and her house was condemned by the city. She turned out to be terminally ill. It was an absolute nightmare for everybody. So due to my personal experience, I’m landing on the side of somebody at least going to her home to check on her. If she doesn’t want to let them in or get any help, you’re probably stuck, but it would be good to have somebody have a clue how she is. I’m sorry to make this so gloomy.

    6. GlowCloud*

      Your first priority is to check that she’s OK – you don’t have to go into her house and clean it.

      What if you went over there in person, mentioned that you hadn’t seen her for a while, and asked her if she wants to step out for a coffee (your treat) or a walk around a pleasant area (local park?) with you?

      I think if you rock up and try to “fix” everything for her, you’re just compounding the shame that drives her mental illness deeper into a spiral, so try to avoid doing that and just validate that she’s your friend and you want to spend some time with her because you value her company and care about her on those terms.

      DON’T make her your personal crusade. Ask her if there’s anything you could help her with, gently suggest the sort of thing you would be willing and able to commit to, but don’t force her to submit to having you clean her entire house.

      Just try and get her to agree to spend time with you on a semi-regular basis (so you can see that she’s alive and well, and encourage her to socialise) and validate her as a friend. She’ll come out of her shell when it feels safe to do so.

  13. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading, or ask for recommendations. Any reading welcome.

    I’ve been reading Someone In Time, which is an anthology of romance stories involving time travel. I love anthologies, and there are several authors in this one I like, so I’ve been having a good time with it.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I got glowing recommendations for Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, so I borrowed it at the library. I’m about a third of the way through, and finding it a slog. Maybe I’m being unfair, but it’s so overwritten. All the points the author makes about Eleanor’s terrible past and current miserable life would come across just as strongly in fewer words. As it stands, my interest is starting to fade.

      Others who have read it, what did you think?

      1. not Eleanor*

        I’ve not read it, partially because a cow0rker whom I had a difficult relationship recommended that I read it and said that Eleanor reminded her of me. (And even just reading the summary made it clear to me that it probably wasn’t a good thing that she thought I was like Eleanor.)

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I wasn’t overly impressed. I didn’t think it a bad book or anything, just not worth the hype. I only read it once, which…is certainly not a recommendation.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Yeah, my main feeling so far is definitely wondering where the hype comes from. Someone I usually trust on Book Twitter singled out Eleanor as one of the most remarkable characters in recent years, and I have the complete opposite view. She feels over engineered at times, kind of a caricature. Maybe I’ll warm up to her later? Who knows?

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, I found that the whole way through. Don’t remember all the details of the writing, but…I didn’t really find the character engaging. It was like she was just a vehicle for the scenes the author was writing. Things happened to her and she reacted but not in a way that really made her a unique character to my mind or in a way that made me identify with her.

      3. Teapot Translator*

        I liked it, but the only thing I knew about it was that it was recommended by Alison. Sometimes, when there’s too much hype around a book, I’m disappointed by the book even if I’d just read it without any preconceptions, I would have enjoyed it.
        However, I must admit that I don’t know if how Eleanor’s mental problems are described are realistic. It worked for me.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          I see what you mean! I don’t doubt some of it is realistic, but I’ve found myself wondering whether the author has thrown too much at one character – parts of her backstory and behaviour seem overengineered. What I find most believable is that she’s a vulnerable person who has been failed by various systems over and over again, and continues to fly under the radar or be dismissed as an adult, when she so clearly needs help. That rings sadly very true.

        2. Magda*

          Truly too much hype can ruin anything! That’s why people have such nostalgia for the things they discovered and enjoyed as kids (which most of the time doesn’t translate when they try to share it with new people as the Best!Thing!EVAAAA!

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I am reading and loving the very book that’s recommended this week, Now Is Not the Time to Panic. Even though I’ve gone off on first-person narration, I’m willing to make an exception for Kevin Wilson.

    3. Kittee*

      I’m rereading all my Oz books. I still love them, and as an adult find many amusing parts that a kid wouldn’t understand. Also reading The Age of Innocence.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      I finished She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. I also read The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden and The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (which I think someone here recommended to me, I liked it!). I’ve also started Nona the Ninth (it’s due back to the library soon!).

    5. Kate*

      I read The Matchmaker’s Gift this week and surprised myself by LOVING it.

      Maybe it was because it was light and happy, which I sorely needed, and maybe it’s because it was such an unapologetically Jewish book that had NOTHING to do with the Holocaust, but it was one of my favourites for the year.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. I read it in 2 days, not because it’s a quick read, but because I couldn’t put it down until I found out what happened next. Inspired by David Copperfield, but set in rural Virginia in a more contemporary age.

    7. Melanie Cavill*

      In my journey to finally read the ASoIaF series, I finally finished Game of Thrones. It was a slog. By the last few chapters, I was unapologetically skipping pages of battle. I enjoyed that Ned was set up as the decoy protagonist only for his very realistic un-cleverness to get him killed unceremoniously. I’ll start the next book… eventually.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I read and enjoyed book 1. Started skipping chunks in book 2 and big chunks in book 3, and after that just read plot synopses. (I cared about what happened to some characters, but not 3000 pages of slogging to learn it.)

        If you’re already finding it a slog, I’d say it only gets worse in that regard. (Also, I think Ned as decoy protagonist was the peak of enjoyable pay-offs.)

    8. AcademiaNut*

      Read the entire Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews last weekend – it was a quick fun read, although I liked the Maude book the best of the lot, and hope they revisit her point of view. I’m currently waiting for the imminent release of At the Feet of the Sun by Victoria Goddard (the sequel to Hands of the Emperor), which promises to be another doorstopper of a novel.

    9. Bluebell*

      I finally finished Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid, which is about women in Iceland. And I zoomed through Alison’s recc How to Fall Out of Love Madly. I’m working my way through Sofia Samatar’s The White Mosque, but the history of the Mennonites trying to settle in Central Asia is pretty brutal, though her writing is excellent.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed SOMEONE IN TIME myself – very good anthology, with contributions from some excellent writers.

      My current reads include:

      BINOCULAR VISION by Edith Pearlman, a collection including her previously-published stories and a set of tales new to the 2011 collection. They’re all literary-fiction, no genre stuff there (a bit unusual for me, as I love my mystery/SF/fantasy/horror), but I’ve been enjoying them down to the ground. Wonderful language, with lines I pause to savor; interesting plots, some rather dark, some light-hearted, most having to do with relationships of some kind; a few stories that share characters, forming something of a cycle; really good.

      DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? by Tony James Slater, a memoir by a very funny guy whose previous books had to do with his wildly colorful job-hopping travels around the world. In this one he focuses more on his youth and his many years of playing bit parts on TV shows while trying to get an actual speaking role. Very funny in places, not least his stint as a roving advertising character for a razor company, in which he had to visit specified shops wearing nothing but form-fitting boxers while entertaining (presumably) the customers. [His idea of “entertaining” was probably not what the ad-folks expected, but he got the most attention of all the other roving-razor-guys.]

      GOOD TALK by Mira Jacob: a graphic-novel-format memoir of her life as a person of east Indian descent, married to a Jewish man and raising their child in New York; it begins with a series of questions by her son about Michael Jackson, leading to sections about her family’s skin-color prejudices – she grew up being told outright what a pity it was that her skin was darker than her sibling’s – and other familial stresses and issues. It’s not all as bleak as that might sound, though the in-laws remain challenging.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I tried to get into The World We Make, the second Great Cities book, but it just was not resonating with me and I put it aside for now. I really liked The City We Became, and the short stories set in that world, but feel like book 1 could have stood alone.

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

      Still on Willa Cather’s *Song of the Lark* — sort of a “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman,” I guess? It’s about a small-town young woman’s development into the professional singer she will become. Like all of Cather’s work that I’ve encountered, it is a slow build, but there was just a very moving scene that got me in the heart (or in the feels, as the kids say).

    13. Astoria*

      Just started the audiobook version of The Lives of Brian, by Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC/DC. I enjoy music-business memoirs. So far, I like his down-to-earth style and Geordie accent.

    14. Ness*

      I’m currently reading:

      – The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. I really like the premise of this one but the pacing is kinda slow.

      – The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. True story of a man who lived as a hermit for 27-years. I’m really enjoying this one – fascinating story and well-written.

      1. Searching*

        I started The School for Good Mothers but couldn’t finish it because of the slow pacing. I may give it another try in the future.

    15. Searching*

      I finished two non-fiction books this week. One was “American Sirens” by Kevin Hazzard about a group of black men in Pittsburgh who became the first paramedics in America. They changed emergency medicine from an afterthought (loosely handled by cops and morticians) to an actual profession, and their practices were adopted around the world. It was engrossing – I blew through it a day. Kevin writes engagingly – several reviews noted that the book reads like a novel.

      The other was “A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back” by David Hallberg. Autobiography of a great ballet dancer describing his training and phenomenal career, and the injury that almost ended it. More of a niche book for ballet fans (and possibly those interested physical therapy). Loved the book, but it did nothing to alleviate how conflicted I feel about my enjoyment of watching ballet, knowing how destructive that world can be, both physically and emotionally.

  14. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what games you’ve been playing, or give recommendations. All games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’ve been playing D&D with some friends for the last couple of years, and tonight my husband (the DM for this particular campaign) and I helped a friend who’s joining the game roll up a new character. It was a lot of fun and I liked hearing her ideas for the character. Looking forward to having her join us next week!

    1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Plugging away on Yakuza 6. Ohhhh no you don’t, RGG Studio. I learned my lesson with Rikiya, I’m not getting attached to Nagumo.

      Also I got a trophy for falling off a building.

    2. Bookgarden*

      Terraria, God of War: Ragnarok, and Resident Evil: Village. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Village at the start and stopped in the Castle with Lady D (the 9 foot tall vampire lady). I read recommendations to at least play through a place called House Bienviento, so I went back to the game this week and it turned out that was the next level after the Castle.

      It was a short level but ended up being utterly horrific. I don’t remember who recommended it but *shudder*. That basement was the most Silent Hill I ever Resident Eviled.

    3. Melanie Cavill*

      I’ve been marathoning Mass Effect 2 while sick. I’ve done all the loyalty missions available to me and just finished Arrival (rip Batarians); now all that’s left is some sidequests before I do the Reaper IFF mission and kick off endgame. I’m excited to move into 3, honestly. I love 2 but I feel like 3 is such a satisfying, epic conclusion to the story — by this I’m referring to the whole game, not just the last ten minutes.

    4. Generic Name*

      We just went to a friend’s house to play Magic the Gathering. There were 4 families in total, and it was a blast!

    5. SparklingBlue*

      Lovin’ Pokemon Scarlet so far! A lot of people have complained about lag, but I haven’t really noticed any lag beyond the occasional hiccup.

  15. Business Narwhal*

    How old do you think is to old for trick or treating? It’s a bit late for this question but I hear a lot of variation for the max age. I generally think once youve graduated high school it would look strange but idk.

    1. Double A*

      I think later teens is kind of too old, like 15, 16. Although if you commit to a costume you can pull it off.

      I teach high school, and I tell my students that the trick is to take younger kids and you’ll probably get residual candy.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah I think it would be extremely weird for an adult to trick or treat! Teens are fine, we have such a short time to be kids and why not extend that as long as possible? I’d rather see high schoolers trick or treating than drinking or TPing houses or even just sitting home scrolling/gaming or whatever.

      I remember not doing much for Halloween in middle school because I felt too old for it, then a friend having a party in high school and we ended up going trick or treating – I felt kind of awkward at first but it was fun and no one seemed mad that we were too old.

    3. RagingADHD*

      My teens still go in groups of friends, but they are all very big into costumes and it’s more about the hanging-out-in-cosplay aspect.

      I think if someone is old enough to have a job and an apartment, it’s definitely time to switch from the candy – collecting team to the candy-giving team. But I love costumes, too.

      Maybe the next evolution of Trick or Treat should be like a cross between Christmas caroling and Mardi Gras, where anyone can dress up and go house to house to show off their costumes. Maybe instead of collecting candy, the teens and adults could hand out favors to the folks who open the door.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        My kid went out her junior year of HS. She and her friends all dressed up as the Pink Ladies from Grease and went around the neighborhood in stilettos. Ah, youth. I had no problem with trick-or-treating at 17 as long as she was in costume. I give candy to everyone who rings the doorbell, regardless of costume status.

    4. Anono-me*

      I will give candy to anyone who comes to the door. Trick or treaters of any age and/or any level of costume get candy. Although people with costumes that show some cleverness or effort get more candy. And the last kid of the night has to be in costume to get the bowl dump.

      I was unusually tall for 11. I got shamed for Trick or treating since it was for kids. I would usually answer with my age, but it putt a damper on things.

      1. fposte*

        That’s my view. It happens that I’m in a low traffic neighborhood so have excess candy anyway, but I’ve definitely had a few mid-teen groups in costume that I’m happy to give candy to, and frankly, I’d hand it over even if they weren’t.

      2. Unum Hoc Scio*

        My last time trick-or-treating was when I was 12. I went with two friends, both a little older than me. One was normal height for her age, one was very petite, and I (you guessed it) was very tall for my age. The normal-sized girl was given treats perfunctorily, the shorter one was cooed over, and I was glared at.
        Anyone who comes to my door has their costume admired and treats. Age has less to do with it than attitude. If people are enjoying themselves, they should be celebrated.

    5. Bookgarden*

      The oldest I was was a freshman in college, still 17 and the rest were 18. We all went as variations of David Bowie personas. We put a lot of effort into it, and the homeowners all had fun with it. We wanted to show off our costumes. The years after we went to Halloween parties to do so.

      If I got adults older than college at the door, that might alarm me at first, but if they were having fun with it and dressed up, I’d probably go along with it.

    6. Samwise*

      95

      If adults want to trick or treat, why not? As long as they’re not shoving the little kids out of the way, I say hand them candy with a smile.

      1. Newbie*

        This. I’m not the fun police and I love seeing other folks having a good time. If you come up to my yard on Halloween, I’m handing you candy(even, or perhaps especially the very pregnant Ariel the mermaid one year)

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          A pregnant Ariel sounds like this person thought mermaids make little mermaids human/mammal style, not fish style :)

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I was assuming this was a human who was pregnant and went as Ariel, not that the pregnant part was an element of the costume.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      My 17 year old and his girlfriend used the “accompany younger siblings” workaround. They escorted her 8 year old sister and friends and had a blast. Bonus to the 3rd graders who felt like the cool kids for hanging out with “real teenagers” instead of lame parents, and bonus to the lame parents for not having to schlep around! (We stayed home to hand out candy instead.)

      1. allathian*

        Oh yeah, that’s the best compromise, I think. The big kids get to babysit the smaller ones, and everyone hopefully has some fun.

    8. Emma*

      Early high school, maybe late high school with a cool costume. After that, it’s weird, unless they have a developmental disability or something.

      Post high school, Halloween parties, going out to the bar on Halloween weekend, or handing out candy to trick or treaters from home or in a trunk or treat situation, or taking a kid around trick or treating, are all opportunities for people who want to dress up. But actual solo trick or treating would be odd.

      1. matcha123*

        People who think it’s weird for adults to have fun probably have their own personality issues they need to work out.
        It’s not about “dressing up” or getting free candy. It’s about the fun that comes with going around in a group. If you can’t understand that then I feel sorry for you.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re legally carrying an alcoholic beverage with you while making your rounds, you’re probably too old.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Erma Bombeck wrote a hilarious essay on how to tell when you’re too old to trick or treat. I’m sure it’s online somewhere.
        I don’t remember the whole thing, but I do remember these lines: “If your mask tickles your mustache, you’re probably too old for trick or treating. And: “if when you bend over to pick up candy you dropped and your cigarettes fail out of your pocket, you may want to give up trick or treating.”

    10. DarthVelma*

      My brother and his friends still went through the end of high school. They would go fairly late and hit the neighborhoods they lived in and the houses of several of their teachers. By going late, they knew all the little kids had already had a crack at the candy and people would load them down just to get rid of whatever they had left. They were kind of brilliant.

      1. Missb*

        My kids would do the loop round our house after doing the TOT street. They knew that folks (like me) would still buy a bag of candy just in case. So they’d rake in even more.

    11. Generic Name*

      In my mind, if we tell teens they can’t trick or treat, some of them will just get together and drink or otherwise cause trouble. I personally don’t see the harm in a 16 year old getting free candy. I will give literally anyone candy who comes to my door Oct 31. Costume or age doesn’t matter.

    12. KatEnigma*

      As long as you put on a COSTUME, I won’t grumble at handing you candy at any age.

      If you can’t bother with a costume…

    13. Christmas Carol*

      My senior year of High School Oct 31 fell on a Friday, and was the same night as the last home football game of the season. Before the game, we all went trick or treating dressed as Marching Band Members.

    14. Missb*

      Every now and then – but really once in a blue moon – we get students from the local college at our door on Halloween. They’d have walked about a half mile to get here. If they ring the door, they get candy.

      That being said, our neighborhood is kinda weird on trick-or-treating. There is only one street in the neighborhood that people actually trick-or-treat on. The other streets (of which there are plenty) escape the evening’s duties. Sometimes a new family will move into the neighborhood and not know this – so I keep a bag of candy just in case. The college kids tend to volunteer on the street (which is blocked off to vehicle traffic) so they’re in the know too.

      Anyone in the neighborhood could come down to that street and walk around. Our kids would TOT even in high school, just because it is a really really fun. Usually I’d have a glass of wine or a cocktail in my hands by the second house. People would hire bartenders and cooks to make drinks/food. That street has large homes and large garages – their kitchen garages were often nicer than my actual kitchen. People put out troughs of candy. Someone usually has a big screen TV set up with bales of hay to sit on, and there is often a large bouncy house for kids. It’s just a big street party basically, so age does not matter.

    15. LittleBabyDamien*

      The rule for my household was, as long as you put some effort into your costume, you can TOT.
      My rule for handing out candy was, everyone at the door gets something. The older teen nuns who sang Trick or Treat in two part harmony with their hands pressed together in a prayer-like attitude? The adult in motley, with a pipe-like musical instrument and a couple of fake rats, who arrived with a tune and a whole spiel about how he could take care of any rat problems for me? The toddlers in animal onesies who had to be prompted by a parent on every move? Excited 10 year olds who had the drill down and were shouting trick or treat even before they hit the front steps? I am willing to pay for entertainment that arrives directly on my doorstep!

    16. matcha123*

      Dead is too old.
      I don’t think anyone is ever too old to trick-or-treat. If you’re in costume, and not harming anyone, why not?
      Getting candy is fun, but it’s also about the thrill of being out after dark with a bunch of like-minded people.

      I really dislike that so many people put trick-or-treating or getting Xmas presents as something only for small children. We should all be able to enjoy these things, regardless of age.
      I live overseas and trick-or-treating isn’t a thing here, but as soon as I move back to the US, I’ll be looking for a group to trick-or-treat with.

    17. Extranonymous*

      I live in a college town, I love having college kids trick or treat. Most of them are just getting past the stage where they are “too cool” to dress up and have awesome costumes and are super nice and always make sure little kids get first dibs. They always come nearer the end of ToT time so they don’t hog the candy.

    18. Dino*

      I spent ages 8-16 handing out candy. I felt I didn’t deserve candy for doing nothing so I stayed home and answered the door.

      I went trick or treating ages 17-19 after some therapy and really appreciated the adults being kind to me. I dressed up with some effort put in which I’m sure helped, but I had fun being goofy. I learned a late lesson in taking joy in community and still feel grateful to the adults who didn’t chase me off or make comments.

    19. Don'tbeadork*

      When you are old enough to be a mother and/or grandmother and you show up with a bag demanding candy but not with a child nor in costume, you are too old. No, you don’t get the candy I spent money on so you can go resell it. Shake down your children when they get home. (Yes, that actually happened in my old neighborhood. Three older women, no kids, no costumes, holding out their bags and demanding candy.

      I don’t mind giving candy out to older teens who are in costume or who are out of costume but are accompanying a younger sibling. I hear way too many of my (HS) freshmen complain that they had to take their siblings ToTing because Mom and/or Dad had to work. Since siblings are so often co-opted for babysitting duty and rarely paid, I figure the candy is a smallish tip.

  16. Jessica*

    Opinions/reactions are going to vary, but I think the older you are the more costumed you need to be. “Scary prowler” is not the look your costume should be going for. I personally don’t mind people enjoying Halloween at any age, and I’ll be glad to give you candy no matter how old you are, but I need to not be afraid to open my door to you in the first place.

  17. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Alison’s book recommendation today has a few things in common with my latest writing-work-in-progress-maybe-a-novel-too-soon-to-say-I-may-never-finish-it. I’m at the stage where I’m very excited about building characters but not yet sure how the story will end. Which is usually right before I drop the entire thing.

    I’m taking this as a sign that the half-baked plot I have in mind isn’t that far-fetched.after all. On to the reading list the book goes!

  18. J.B.*

    Oh my poor baby had a rough week this week, so I am up early working on emails about her IEP. I know what I need to do fortunately but this is so long and complicated, it’s clearly a barrier for a lot of people.

    1. OtterB*

      Wishing you good results from it. My daughter is past the IEP stage and we were fortunate that the school was good with her but it’s still a complicated process.

  19. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I am very close to finishing two arbitrary and unimportant goals I set myself this year (my favourite kind!): 52 books read – am on 49 – and 100 hours of training logged.

    Does anyone else like setting these quantitative goals? I know they don’t have the substance of qualitative goals, like if I was training to master a specific thing instead of counting every hour spent in a stupid work lunch and learn, but I find them satisfying.

    1. Pop*

      I set myself a goal to read 52 books in 2020, and ended up reading 53. Going into 2021, I was pregnant and didn’t want to have assumptions about how being a new parent would go, so I didn’t set one. Turns out that’s just my reading pace because I read 52 books anyway. this year I’m on track to read 53 again without going for a particular goal. But yes, I love setting them.

    2. MackerelSky*

      Was that work training, or personal interests? I’m thinking of sound something like this soon as I miss formal learning now I’m 5 years post-PhD.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I set a reading goal every year – after a few successes and a few failures, I’ve settled on 40 as a reasonable but challenging number and while I don’t always reach it, I think I read a lot more with a goal than I would without.

    4. looking for a new name*

      Me! I set a goal to read 12 books (one a month) of one of the following: by an author who is a POC (fiction, non-fiction, autobiography, poetry), about a POC, or about race-related issues (current or historical). Currently on An Indiginous People’s History of the United States. I got a bit behind because some books take longer that others (throwing in some fiction helps there)! Also had a certain number of sewing projects to do (and even listed them) but that won’t get finished. I’m OK with that, because I pivoted to a couple of different projects that were more time-sensitive.

      1. Girasol*

        Is that good? I saw it in Libby the other day and almost picked it but I can’t resist sci fi and Robopocalypse was calling my name.

        1. looking for a new name*

          It’s good info, but engages a bit more like a history book so it’s taking me longer to read it than I’d hoped.

    5. marvin*

      I find that the quantitative goals or goals with a specific deadline are the only ones that I’m actually able to achieve! It’s a lot easier to commit to writing one short story a month or baking every recipe from a certain cookbook than to try to grapple with nebulous concepts like “be better at writing” or “learn to bake everything.” Even if I know the goal is fully made up, it’s motivating to have something to aim for.

    6. Blomma*

      I think a quantitative goal is easier for me to actually accomplish. This year was the first time I set a reading goal…52 books, which became 52 new to me books because I started rereading a long series. I’m currently at 122 new and reread books!

    7. OtterB*

      I read so much that I don’t usually need to set goals about it, but I did decide to read one nonfiction a month this year because so much of my reading is genre fiction. Looking back at my list I am probably averaging that, some months none but some two or three. Mostly I am reluctant to set numerical goals.

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      I had set a goal of reading 60 books this year and I’m at 54!
      The other quantitative goal i currently have is to cook two vegan dinners a week.
      It’s not just about the numbers- if I’m reading several lengthy books this year, I don’t put them aside just to make the numbers. For me it’s a good way to maintain momentum.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      I might actually make my sewing/quilting goal this year!
      Twelve quilts or quilt-adjacent projects in a year averages to one a month, but obviously a big quilt takes longer than a Welcome Blanket (40” square) or tote bag.
      I finished #10 this week, and have two basted and ready to quilt.
      If only I didn’t have Christmas hats to knit, too…

  20. Home stuck*

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my “should I stay or go” question the other week, I’m planning a trip to my home town early next year, and being more honest with myself about my fears.

  21. Eater of Cupcakes*

    Here’s something that I love to ask people: Imagine that you get three wishes. They have to follow these rules:

    First wish must be for something completely impossible, like dating Superman or getting a pet unicorn.
    Second wish has to be something boringly normal and realistic, like finding a quarter on the ground, the grocery store having a discount on ice cream.

    Third wish is something possible but ridiculously unlikely, like winning the lottery three times in a row, or the library always buying the books you want to read. Basically something that’s impossible due to probability and not physics.

    1. Eater of Cupcakes*

      (Oh, and before you even ask: I don’t actually have any answer to what I myself would wish for. I want to focus on other people’s answers. So let me hear yours, friends!)

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      My first one is depressing, but I’d like my recently deceased cat back and in full health, please.

      My second one is for my coffee shop to have an exciting new bean to try today.

      My third one is for my kid to make it through winter without getting sick again. (Lol this is about as likely as winning the lottery three times in a row, he’s not been scary-sick, just no-daycare sick.) Oh! Corollary wish: I wish the childcare center he goes to now would pack up and move so they’re walking distance from our condo!!!

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      Let’s see. First one: I’d like the ability to instantly teleport myself anywhere. I love traveling, but the actual getting there is so dang much work. Heck, that one would be worth it just not to have to look for parking.

      Second: to see a woodpecker on my deck. That one has a pretty good chance of happening, since I’m about to put my wintertime bird feeders out and it’s cold and sunny outside.

      Third: to have all of my favorite coworkers come back to our company and work with me, in some kind of super dream team, and re-expand a department we had shut down, and have it do the great things it used to do without all the problems and drama.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I actually have a list prepared for when I finally trip over a genie bottle someday, and it fits most of your requirements :)

      Completely impossible: the ability to communicate seamlessly with any mammals at will. (Especially the ones in my house :-P )

      Not impossible but incredibly statistically unlikely: that any lottery ticket I buy would turn out to be a top jackpot winner for its draw. (I could use this power for good and buy people scratchies for Christmas! Do charities take lottery tickets as donations?)

      My usual #3 falls under “possible but highly unlikely) and I don’t have a normal and realistic on the list, but if that was a requirement… maybe that my puppy outgrows her chicken sensitivity as she grows up? I think that’s a realistic possibility?

    5. HannahS*

      I wish I could get by on very little sleep–like if I could be fully refreshed by 3 hours of sleep with no ill effect that would be so awesome.

      It would be great if I found my favorite winter hat! No idea where it walked off to…

      I wish the groceries and other goods that I want were always on sale or magically at tue thrift store in excellent condition.

    6. Romancelandia*

      1. Marry a bear shifter
      2. Find vegan DECAF pre-made cappuccino sachets in the supermarket
      3. Sell my books tomorrow and become rich enough to fund a third political party in the UK which trumps Labour and Conservative, incorporates Green and Liberal policies and wins a landslide, but also remains popular, so I can affect change on a HUGE scale and on a continuing basis, without trashing the environment!

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      Impossible- Rewind Best Good Dog back to his prime and give him a happy healthy life span equivalent to mine.
      Common- that somehow all my weekend tasks and errands actually get finished with a little time to spare.
      Unlikely- that my son gets into his college of choice on a full scholarship.

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Completely impossible: Being able to fly like a bird. Definitely the superpower I would choose.

      Boringly normal and realistic: that the restaurant we’re going to tonight has the dessert I really like on the menu.

      Possible and ridiculously unlikely: that someone will give us a dog my husband is not allergic to and thus one we can keep.

    9. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      1) Suddenly being able to communicate in every language (even dead ones) fluently.

      2) Meeting some friends on the street by chance and spontaneously going for a coffee/beer. Used to happen quite frequently while attending university, and only rarely nowadays.

      3) Consistently predicting correctly which page a quote or an article from a book or magazine is on. I managed this twice so far, and it somehow always feels special, even if the odds are not absurdly high.

      1. Advenella*

        The omnilingual one has been my dream for a long, long time – ultimate understanding. Wouldn’t it be amazing?

    10. LittleBeans*

      1. I was going to say teleportation, but after reading other posts here, I agree, I would want my dog back to life and healthy for the rest of my life.
      2. I find the knitting pattern to finish the scarf I started five years ago.
      3. We find the perfect house that is close to where we both work, a style my husband and I both like, and a price we can afford (that’s the part that is statistically unlikely!)

    11. peanut butter*

      1) Have my mum back, and as healthy as she was in her 40’s
      2) get lots of tomatoes on sale
      3) that humans end forest destruction, curb population growth and arrest climate change. Do all that in 5 years or so.

      1. peanut butter*

        Hilariously,, I just got back from the grocery store & tomatoes were on sale! I got about 10 lbs/ 5kg. Soup for the week!

    12. marvin*

      1) I would like to be able to transform into an octopus at will.

      2) My building manager finally gets all the repairs done in my apartment while I’m not home.

      3) Unlimited free therapy and mental health care becomes widely available and everyone becomes much more capable of dealing with community health problems in a stable way.

    13. Irish Teacher*

      Yikes, the first one is the most difficult. Maybe the ability to teleport. It would be useful as I don’t drive.

      My second wish would be for no involuntary redeployments from my school this year.

      My third wish would be an end to world hunger.

    14. Maggie*

      Ok wish number one: Bob saget is revived from the dead and I marry him. Wish number two: cerave is always on sale at Walgreens. Wish number three: the entire world works together to stop global warming. I like this game!!

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Health problems? Not after this handy wish.
      2) The grocery store would have Whippets again.
      3) D control of the House.

      I think the second is really fun and if you wanted to do a future thread just on that it would be fun–great early January fodder.

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

      Wish 1: Covid never happened. No worries about catching this ridiculously contagious yet damaging illness, and we can all proceed with our lives with no anxiety on that score.
      Wish 2: I discover another great tv series that I can stream for free that has beautiful scenery and sunshine to keep me cheerful through a grey winter.
      Wish 3: I find love again somehow in a way that feels safe in the age of covid (I’ve never read *Love in the Time of the Cholera* — is it about that feeling/hope, I wonder?)

    17. Not in your timezone*

      1) Sugar is healthy. Not just healthy but essential for life. No broccoli till you eat your ice-cream healthy.
      2) Perfect parking spot at the office (free, under cover, close by, well lit!!)
      3) Every 50/50 chance goes my way… Forever!! (Evil laugh).

    18. matcha123*

      First wish would be to have powers like Sailor Moon. Second wish would be to see my studying finally paying off. And third would be for each member of my family (3 in total) to win the lotto one after another.

    19. SquirrelFan*

      #1 Go back in time and parent all over again, knowing what I know now and with much improved parenting skills. Also to buy a car and get confident driving, to give my kids experiences they missed out on. Or should I go back in time and try to prevent global warming? Tough one…
      #2 to have the talent and skills to inspire people to learn to read /enjoy reading
      # 3 (this might be an unpopular one) They find a safe, simple, inexpensive and ethical treatment /cure for autism, ADHD, and anxiety and it’s available to all should they wish it. Heck, throw cancer in there, too.

    20. Ellis Bell*

      1) Is to be able to time/location travel instantly to whenever I want. Not only would I be able travel to everywhere I’ve ever read in books, I’d be able to hang out with my dad and grandparents again.
      2) To be able to get stunning gluten free cheesecake, that is a large slice serving instead of the lilliputian sized food so beloved of gf food brands, in every supermarket. This is absolutely possible, my friend has a great and simple recipe.
      3) To be able to have kids. Totally possible at my age. Not exactly great odds though.

    21. elvie*

      1)See a dragon :)
      2)The elder scrolls 6 (finally) comes out and is good (don’t know if that one’s realistic…)
      3)Meet my favorite artist (we’re not living on the same continent)

    22. Alex*

      I would like to have the power to make different choices in the past, but still be in the present. For example, I would like to change my major in college, but not actually re-do college, just live in a different reality where I majored in something else and have a different career.

      I would like to be able to french braid my own hair. I’ve never been able to do it! I desperately want to be able to but no matter how many YouTube videos I watch I can’t get the hang of it.

      I would like a close friend of mine to overcome her addiction, mental health, and related physical health problems. (It is improbable because she has rejected most kinds of help.)

    23. Advenella*

      1. Completely impossible: That I had the ability to stop time, but I’d still be able to move about and do the things I want to do (sleep, exercising, reading more books, etc) without age progression or death for myself or anyone else.

      2. Boringly normal: That every cup of coffee or tea I make tastes perfectly made each time.

      3. Possible but unlikely: Winning the highest lottery jackpot in history, and to be able to do so completely anonymously.

    24. Tired of Working*

      Impossible – I wish the malignant lump in my breast would go away. I was supposed to get chemo before surgery, but the chemo weakened me so much that I was hospitalized for a few weeks. My legs were completely paralyzed, and I had limited motion in my hands and arms. My lungs were destroyed. I was on oxygen. And I had many other physical problems. I spent a few months in rehab learning how to walk again. I am too fragile to be operated on, so I walk around with this lump in my breast.

      Common – A discount on ice cream sounds nice. It’s one of the very few foods I can eat.

      Unlikely – I wish my esophagus could be repaired, so that I could eat foods other than ice cream, yogurt, and dip. I am able to eat oatmeal and applesauce, but I don’t, because I don’t like them. It would be nice to be able to eat a hamburger.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Impossible – that I could help people on the internet in ways that make their serious problems go away, even though I don’t know them.

        Common – that my words are encouraging.

        Unlikely – that I came up with a tasty suggestion that was a new food you could eat. (Flan, eggnog, creamy and smooth veggie soup (cook veggies you like until very soft, blend with cream, appropriate spices).)

    25. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      1) A fully functional time- and space machine. (I saw a short film once about just such a device that had a Twilight Zone-style ending, but the allure is just too great.)

      2) A perfectly fitted bowler hat from John Locke & Co.

      3) Omniglottism. Fluency speaking, listening, reading, writing. Every human language that exists or has ever existed.

  22. In A Rut?*

    I could use some ideas to make weekend mornings *feel* different than weekday mornings, now that I work from home full time (I live alone). At this point in my life, I wake up at about the same time every day without an alarm. M-F, I have about an hour and a half before I have to log in, so I might do some puttering, make coffee, catch up on the news, and walk the dog, then settle in front of the computer. On weekends, I … do some puttering, make coffee, catch up on the news, and walk the dog – usually a longer, later walk … but still – before I start in on whatever the activities of the weekend are. I’ve been trying to make a big breakfast or a special food on Saturday and/or Sunday, but I’m not really much of a breakfast person TBH. What else will help me break up the routine?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Something special for your coffee, a special flavored creamer or extra fancy beans or something?

      I feel ya – I get up at about the same time every day, give my puppy her morning outs in the backyard, and she automatically goes to my home office and settles down on her pillow with her bone, even on weekends, so I tend to start most of my weekend mornings in here too. It’s fine, this is also where my personal computer is, but it’s definitely a 7-days-a-week routine haha. I usually have dessert for breakfast on the weekends :P Brownies this morning!

      1. In A Rut?*

        It is the dang dog that tipped me over, in fact – he looooooves routine, like a freaking toddler, so if he had his way we’d live in Groundhog Day (grounddog?).

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Haha, I suspected maybe :) I like the routine first thing in the morning, to be honest – it keeps the puppymonsters chill – but we tend to be shaken out of it by 10 or so and onto the rest of our weekend.

    2. costello music*

      Could you try reading something other than the news? Or watch a show or listen to a podcast?

      Also, even if you get up at the same time doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave the bed. Why not lounge for a little while–doze, look at the news in bedn whatever. Even an extra half hour can be nice.

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

        I’m with this idea — on weekends, I listen to *Wait, Wait — Don’t Tell Me* on NPR while I try to make something a little special for breakfast — a pancake or eggs. It feels different from regular news and oatmeal during the week.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      What if, on the weekend, you got up *earlier*? I think a lot of people think of weekends as sleep in time, but I find that when i have some kind of adventure planned where I have to get up early that feels special. Or getting a paper copy of the newspaper delivered on the weekends?

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I do a Sat morning pilates class on zoom, which has the advantages of not needing to leave the house or be too presentable, and I can also get a little social time as the teacher is friendly and we have a chat as well. So my recommendation is some gentle and nutritious movement.

    5. Sigrid says hey*

      I would switch up the activities you do before walking the dog to something different from M-F.
      Get up, start the coffee and run a nice bath, put on an awesome playlist of some favourite music, take your coffee to the bath and enjoy some special skin care pampering. Instead of the news maybe do some sudoku or word puzzles then head out for a long dog walk.
      Replacing media consumption with music and puzzles, and chores/puttering with some pampering would be a couple things to make the weekend mornings different and a bit special.

    6. ecnaseener*

      For a while, I made my weekend coffee with a vintage glass percolator — very nice to sit and watch it percolate, but sadly I could never get the coffee to come out strong enough. But if you have something similar, a slow-but-pleasant way to make coffee or breakfast or whatever, that might work.

      Also, maybe find a weekly newsletter or podcast or something that you particularly enjoy (not just more generic news) and can save for a Saturday treat.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I have regular coffee on weekdays and espresso, which requires a machine and attention, on the weekends.

      1. Westsidestory*

        I do this too – weekdays it’s drip coffee and weekends espresso from my little one-cup stovetop old fashioned espresso pot. The smell alone makes it special.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Is there a good purveyor of breakfast near you? Weekends are often when my spouse walks the dog for longer, and then brings back either scones from the farm stand or egg and sausage bagels from the good bagel place.

      My body is absolutely relentless about how 6:30 is when we wake up.

    9. Girasol*

      How about a Saturday morning photo journal? Go somewhere to see the sun rise and capture that, or just walk your usual walk and look for views that you never noticed before.

    10. Samwise*

      Go out. I do a yoga class on Sunday morning, you could go out for your coffee, go hiking/walk your dog someplace new etc.

  23. PhyllisB*

    I’m reading a book in the Baker Street series by Michael Robertson. It’s about two brothers (attorneys) who’s office is at 221B Baker Street. They receive a lot of letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. According to the terms of their lease, they’re required to answer all these letters. Fun premise.
    My question isn’t about that, it’s about the English court system. What is the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

    1. UKDancer*

      In crude terms, solicitors provide specialist legal advice to their clients (individuals, companies and potentially Government) and tend not to speak in courts. Barristers tend to represent their clients in a court setting (civil or criminal) and occasionally provide legal advice of a specialist nature (I know one who does a lot of esoteric tax / pension law stuff). This isn’t an absolute rule but it’s generally the case.

      There are differences, some solicitors go to court for smaller offences in lower courts but it’s not massively common in my understanding (and a lot of people became solicitors to avoid speaking in court, judging from the ones I know). If you’re going to court, you often instruct a solicitor who will instruct a barrister to speak for you. Barristers tend to be people who prefer the standing up and orating side of things (I’ve had dates with a couple who orate a lot given any opportunity).

      The most senior barristers are entitled “Kings Counsels” (or Queen’s counsels if there’s a queen on the throne). They get to wear a silk robe so are sometimes also called “silks”.

    2. Lilo*

      Are you in the US? To put it in US terms, a solicitor is more like a transactional attorney (drafts documents and agreements and gives legal advice on them), a barrister is more like a litigator (argues in court). The metaphor isn’t quite exact, the system is a bit different from the US. In the US many attorneys do both.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Inthe UK many of us do both, too. I am a solicitor and do a fair amount of my own advocacy . I generally tend to eal with preliminary hearings but if a hearing is likely to take more than half a day I will usually instruct a barrister as it tends to be most cost effective and I can’t easily spare the time out of the office.

        As solicitors, we are the first port of call for clients, and we’d then refer to a barrister if we need a second opinion or if there’s a more niche issue.

        The distinction is less cler than it used to be as Barristers are now allowed (if they get the right qualification) to accept ‘direct acces’ which means they can accept instructions direct from a client without going through a solicitor, and solicitors can qualify for ‘Higher Rights of Audience’ allowing them to appear in higher courts . (I don’t have higher rights, so I can appear in the Magistrates and County Court, but not in the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court)

        Solicitors also deal with legal work such as property trnasfers, wills, probate etc while barristers mostly deal with court proceedings (And advice about avoiding it!)

        There are also differences in how the busnesses are noramlly set up – barristers are typically self-employed but groups will club together (in ‘Chambers’ ) and will as a groupmply Clerks who deal with their bookings , billing etc, and solicitors are generlly either in PArtnerships or employed by a partnership (and since laws changed, can now form limited companies)

        Historically, most Judges were former barristers but now more solicitors become Judges as well, althogh they’re still in the minority.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Just to add, for criminal cases, solicitors can, and do, represent people at the Magistrates court but for Crown Court, where more serious criminal cases are heard, you have to be a barrisrer or solicitor advocate .

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Yeah when I was a reporter, I expected to see suited solicitors in the magistrates courts, and bewigged barristers in the crown court.

        2. Anonosaurus*

          Yeah, this. I am a solicitor and do exclusively litigation work and appear in court frequently. I will instruct a barrister (or the equivalent in my jurisdiction) when I don’t have capacity to deal with something myself, I need specialist expertise of some kind, or if the case is in a court where I don’t have rights of audience (e.g. UK Supreme Court). I also don’t tend to do trials because examining witnesses is a specialist skill and I don’t do it often enough to feel I have sufficient expertise, but I will do all the preparation and brief the barrister who will conduct the trial.

        3. Lilo*

          Yes the organizational structure where solicitors hire barrister is pretty much unheard of in the US. There are instances where an attorney might hire another one but ethically both are directed by the client. The whole system is very very different.

    3. Pam Adams*

      For even more fun and enjoyment , look for Sarah Caudwell’s 4 book mystery series dealing with barristers.

  24. WellRed*

    Can we do a thanksgiving thread, cooking tips or otherwise? I’m roasting a turkey breast. Any tips for seasoning? I bought Bells but gave a whole cupboard of options.

    1. BRR*

      I use Samin Nosrat‘a Turkey breast recipe in the NYT. It’s brined in buttermilk and keeps amazingly moist.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I got Salt Fat Acid Heat from the library this week, and one thing Nosrat explains in the Acid section is how boring and bland she found her first few Thanksgiving dinners, which she eventually realized was due to the only acid on the table being cranberry sauce. After a T Day with chefs, she noticed how they found ways to add acid to different dishes.

        1. OyHiOh*

          Acid flavors are why I do sweet potato mash with orange juice in the mix, and green beans and beets tossed with lemon juice. Non traditional takes on dishes, but add zingy pops of flavor to the table.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Here’s a tip, whether for this holiday or another time: If you’re roasting boneless breasts (this will work with large chicken breasts, too), sandwich them together so that the pointy side of one is against the thick side of the other. This will make one white-meat roast of approximately uniform thickness. Wrap in kitchen twine to hold the shape. To serve, cut off the twine and slice across like a roast.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        My husband’s aunt used to do a rolled up turkey “roast” similar to this, but with cranberry stuffing inside. (The secret cranberry stuffing recipe is regular stuffing with a handful of dried cranberries mixed in.)

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      For a whole unstuffed turkey we use the Narsai David method I heard on the radio 30+ years ago: Oven at 350, roast for 45 minutes + 7 minutes a lb. Brine or salt if you’d like (we now salt instead of brining) and stick whatever you want in the cavity (we usually put in an onion, some rosemary, and orange sections). Then just leave it. No basting. Perfect every time.

      A few years ago I started making mashed potatoes in the slow cooker. Game changer. They come out absolutely perfect and can sit and wait on warm until everything else is ready. Frees up space on top of the stove and eliminates what was a major stressor for me – trying to get them timed just right. Food Network has a recipe and so does The Kitchn.

      Since my husband loves to smoke things, we are having smoked squash purée.

      May try the stuffing this year with stale challah bread cubes instead of store-bought bread cubes.

    4. CatCat*

      My husband and I are hosting a small gathering. Mix of omnivores and plant-based eaters. We have a small kitchen that would make it difficult to cook a suitable spread. Also, we’re the non-meat eaters and have no idea how to cook turkey. So we’re making just a few items in our kitchen: gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce. We’re ordering from grocery stores already prepared foods that just need to be heated including a turkey breast and vegan main dish. The stores have holiday menus for this purpose. This will make it infinitely easier and more enjoyable for us.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Re Thanksgiving food: I often roast a turkey – even though I live alone – because I enjoy the process, the crispy skin, the dark meat, and the generous supply of breast-meat-for-sandwiches. But this year I will probably save the turkey for the post-season sale period.

      I am rather fond of Stovetop Stuffing as a quick and easy dish – the turkey version might wind up being my lunch on the day {grin}.

      I did stumble across an intriguing-sounding vegan recipe; I’m not vegan myself but I love vegetables and am always pleased to find something interesting. This one’s a “Celery root roast” from Madeline Rossi, in which a whole, cleaned-and-trimmed celery root is roasted with a seasoned basting liquid, other veggies, and a spice rub; sounds quite tasty!

      Oh, and in the past when I worked full time, Thanksgiving meant a four-day holiday for me, which I would usually spend by myself deliriously enjoying sleeping late, making puzzles, watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 “Turkey Day” marathon (and/or “Twilight Zone”), and noshing on Ruffles potato chips and Lipton Onion Soup Mix sour-cream dip. Ah, the good old days!

    6. Jackalope*

      Favorite appetizer that I got from a friend that is super easy. Buy some Medjool dates, cut them in half, take out the pits, stuff them with peanut butter, and roll them in sugar. They are super tasty (I say this as someone who doesn’t even like dates that much), easy to make, and work really well for something to snack on while waiting for the main course to be ready.

    7. Roland*

      My conundrum is should I try to buy brussel sprouts at the supermarket today, or try to get them at the farmer’s market tomorrow with supermarket as a backup with a higher chance of being out at the supermarket if the farmer’s market doesn’t have them…

    8. Missb*

      It’s only my hubs and me, probably.

      I’m roasting a small turkey. I keep it simple – usually throw some olive oil and salt/pepper/sage on the skin.

      I do a make-ahead gravy that includes roasting some turkey thighs. Basically you make the base ahead of time, and then skim the fat off the top when it’s time to make the gravy and throw some flour into the fat and use the rest of the broth for the gravy.

      I love roasted Brussel sprouts, so I’m roasting those.

      We love mashed potatoes so there will those as well. I do a make ahead dish that only needs to be baked for about a half hour. It has lots of cream cheese, sour cream and butter involved.

      I make my own rolls – I have a recipe from America’s Best something or other recipe book. It uses sweet onion, cracked black pepper and poppy seeds. Really good the next day.

      And finally, I’ll be making my own cranberry sauce.

  25. costello music*

    I need to start exercising but it’s just really hard to actually do. Like, there’s a barrier stopping me from doing it. (Is it the depression? The adhd? The laziness? Who knows!! Not me!!)

    Any tips on like, actually doing something? Things to note: I absolutely am not getting up earlier. And going outside is difficult as it is now 30 degrees and under and will be getting icy and snowy. Have been thinking of going to a gym but money is tight right now.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Without specifying what kinds of somethings you may or may not be interested in, just some free-ish ideas to get some movement going: if you’re a music fan, put on something good and have a solo dance party for a few minutes. Pick a show you’ve been half-ass interested in and make it your workout time – jog in place until the end of the opening credits, do situps during the commercial breaks if it’s on a streamer that has them, five squats every time Hotch says wheels up, whatever :) Not free, but If you are a gamer and have a little bit of budget to throw at it on a one-time basis, I know Nintendo has some fitness games for the Switch, at least – I played Ring Fit Adventure for a few months and it was cute – and I assume there’s similar for other systems.

    2. Fellow Traveller*

      I am a minimalist exerciser, but I found it helps to have prompts and triggers to do them. (I just read the book Tiny Habits – I might have posted last week about it – and I found it helpful.) So when the kids leave for school, as soon as the door closes, that’s my prompt to put on a 15 minute Fitness Blender or yoga video and do that. I sleep in clothes that I can exercise in so that the barrier to doing that video is pretty low.
      On days when i have to drive the kids to school, I go on a run as soon as I pull into the driveway. I just make it an automatic action after certain events.

    3. Magda*

      The only time I was truly consistent in exercising was when I was taking a regular class that I found pretty fun and engaging – I wonder if this could be recreated for free through a local community center or a friend group – depending on your current level of fitness maybe “walking wednesdays” or “jogging fridays” or whatever. Dancing around was the fun factor I needed … maybe you can do exercise videos at home with a friend. There may be some places where you can buy a package of classes a la cart that are cheaper than a permanent gym membership.

        1. Magda*

          Definitely! But OP says they the gym may not be in their budget, and I was doing zumba classes through my gym membership. I think they do have videos though.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            The most fun class I ever did was a belly dancing class in a church hall. It was cheap as chips and way more fun than a gym class, which I always find a bit meh; although I do like Zumba, it was nice to do something a bit more unusual.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        That’s me too. I need a group, and a set time and place to show up, or exercise goes onto the “someday maybe” list (and never happens). If you live in a city, there may be free / cheap options. My secret, as the least athletically talented person you’ve ever seen, is to seek out obscure sports that are just happy to have warm bodies in attendance. For example, I did dragon boating for several years, and I do square dancing now.

    4. Squidhead*

      If visualizing your progress is helpful, you could use a fitness tracker app to record what you do. (Some of the apps are free even if the devices aren’t.) Turn off most of the reminders in the app (unless nagging is a good motivation for you) and set your goal low (15 min 3x a week or something) and then you get a star everytime you log an exercise or meet your weekly goal. Some apps also have timer functions built in so you could use it to run in place for 3 min and rest for 1 or whatever, but you don’t have to.

      If setting up the app and logging your work makes you go “ugh, now I’d have to exercise AND maintain the app!” then this is not the solution for you :) But if you like sticker charts, it might help!

      1. Magda*

        I am super interested in the personality type breakdowns for different types of motivation. I am not one who likes to use gamification apps or get stars or whatever – but there are *definitely* people it really works for (I have a friend who has a five year streak of Duolingo and says she would rather die than break it – I would have preferred it without the owl). But voluntary month-long challenges have been a big thing for me … and I do think it helps me to measure progress in a concrete way if I’m serious about something. The trick is to figure out what works best for us each I guess.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’m motivated by streaks, bling and money, and I’ve found ways to make all three work for me for exercise purposes at various points :)

    5. Not A Manager*

      Any little bit is better than none. I’d suggest fitting some easy exercises and stretches into predictable moments in your day. My favorite is waiting for the coffee. It’s a predictable few minutes, I’m eager for my coffee so I’m not going to go concentrate on some other, more “worthy” project, and I can bang out one chore. How about starting off by doing simple stretches while you wait for coffee?

      Other good times in my day are before the shower, after the shower, any time I’m waiting for food to heat up. Easy, quick exercises would be crunches, squats, and steps. They don’t require getting out a lot of equipment, and you can just mindlessly do a few while you’re waiting for something else. I do a step routine on my two-step folding kitchen stool.

    6. Asenath*

      I go to a gym, but it’s one I get a discount for so it’s not too expensive. The only thing that gets me exercising is habit, which I know sounds kind of circular – how do you develop a habit without actually doing something that you’re avoiding? I go to classes at a good time for me (in the morning, so I haven’t got as long to make up excuses) and where I’ve now been going long enough that I’m a regular and am on friendly terms with the other regulars. I aim at a reasonable schedule, less than I think I should do, because I have a tendency to plan for too much, and then give up when I can’t keep it up. So, for me, that’s 2-3 sessions a week. And I avoid things that I’m not willing to do, because that’s like being too ambitious with my schedule; it never works. So I don’t play team sports, walk (although I feel guilty about that one), bike, go to certain types of classes. I don’t exercise at home, although I tried during the worst of COVID. Got the weights, got the mat, got the online classes. It wasn’t the same. Right at the very beginning, I did try to create a habit by telling myself “I’ll go to this class. So I don’t feel like it – I won’t plan any more classes, but I’ll get to this one.” Repeat in a day or so. And sometimes, I’d reward myself, or at least combine errands – “I have to go out for X, so I’ll do that after class. It’ll be great to get two things done at once.”

      1. Magda*

        At my best, I was going to class right after work, so it just became part of my workday routine. I found a gym by the office and managed to consistently show up twice a week that way. Once Covid happened, it all fell apart, of course.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I went to tai chi class after work once a week before the pandemic. I really miss it, and I need personal feedback from the instructor to make any progress (I have very poor positional awareness), so videos are not an option for me. Exercising in a group also makes me feel less self-conscious about it for some reason.

          Now I try to go outdoors for a walk during my lunch hour, to get a bit of daylight. We have weights at home, mostly used by my husband, but I also try and do a session about once a week.

          We also have a stationary bike, but just exercising on it is boring. I’m not much of a podcast fan, but I might listen to one during exercise, if it’s short enough, 15-20 minutes to start with.

    7. dear liza dear liza*

      My best method was having a reliable friend as a workout partner. We walked 3 times a week, outside when weather permitted, and inside when not. The indoor track at the rec center and inside malls are two options. If one of us was out of town, we’d talk on the phone while the one in town walked.

    8. Schmitt*

      I won’t exercise if it’s not something I enjoy. Lifting weights, treadmills, bike rides – not for me. What gets me up and out the door is horseback riding, bouldering, walking/hiking. I add yoga in when I’m tense, just 15-30 minutes after work, and I motivate myself to do that by remembering how much better I feel afterward.

      VR glasses were also a motivator for a while… but if it’s nice weather I’d rather be outside, so haven’t done that in ages.

    9. CatCat*

      I used the ClassPass app to try different exercise facilities and classes in my area and learn my likes and dislikes. Turns out, I enjoy Zumba, boxing (never would have tried that otherwise and I love it!), and lifting weights. Meanwhile, I also learned rock climbing and hot pilates are absolutely not for me. See if ClassPass has a decent selection in your area and if so, use it to experiment without having to commit to a particular gym/studio.

      1. Magda*

        I think they also have sales / groupons / whatever sometimes, since OP wasn’t sure a gym was in their budget. I don’t know what time of year that is.

    10. Just here for the scripts*

      Two tricks have kept me in shape/improved my physical fitness—esp since COVID started in 2020:
      1. Work out before you can come up with reasons not to. Before COVID this mean get up/get out to the gym 1st thing on weekends. Then have a treat of a great b’fast out. Since COVID it means getting on our in-home stationary bike while still in my PJs. And setting a goal (was 30 min/100 calories—now it’s 45 min/150 calories). Once that becomes routine, watching shows I recorded and not fast forwarding through commercials but doing interval sprints during ads (1 ad as fast as I can; 1 ad slow til I get my breath; rinse and repeat until the show comes back on).

      2. Wearing my Fitbit and setting my daily goal of 10k steps—even if it means walking the apt/ floor and hallways back and forth to be sure I hit the mark (bad weather days pre-Covid I was the one walking back and forth at the subway station while waiting for the train at the closer subway station. I wear earbuds and listen to audio books and podcasts while running errands/doing chores/commuting to get the 10K. This way I get my reading and steps in. Also helps to have a walking buddy; my recently widowed neighbor has become a good friend while we walk together during the week—added perk: I actually take a lunch break in fall/winter so we can walk together before it gets too dark.

    11. fposte*

      I’m lazy and have similar reservations about the outdoors in bad weather. I like my elliptical and my mini-trampoline a lot, but if you’re looking for cheap or nearly free I’d look at routines on the beginner’s page at exrx.net and check out the book or app You Are Your Gym (the author, Mark Lauren, also has a website). Those will offer free in-home possibilities you can do with music blasting, and they will be able to provide some structure, which is often the barrier stopping people.

    12. RagingADHD*

      Okay, the barrier is most likely decision paralysis+ general inertia / resisting change. Change takes work
      Exercise is also work. That’s a lot of work, and it is always easier to stay the same.

      The first thing you need to do is pick a time. You aren’t going to get up earlier, so if you slept in workout clothes, would you have time to do a video before work?

      If not, what’s your time slot? The type of exercise you can consistently fit into your day is going to be governed by when you do it and where you are.

      So pick a time first, and then see what’s the easiest thing to do. Maybe you could stop by the mall on the way home and walk. Maybe if you WFH you could do intervals or calisthenics on breaks.

      As soon as you make 1 decision, the rest get easier because they fit in around it.

      1. Westsidestory*

        This is good advice! The big hurdle is so often “finding the time.” So pick a time and make an appointment with yourself to do something – take a 30 minute walk, do a YouTube class, maybe some exercises from a book? Eventually you should be able to talk yourself into taking a class – even if it’s an online class. The idea is to get used to having that time exclusively for exercise.

    13. RMNPgirl*

      I try to do something that’s fun and not “exercise”. My go to is Emkfit, she’s a fitness professional who does cardio hiit dances to popular music. You can find her on YouTube and it’s free and fun and it gets you moving for 20-30 minutes.

    14. cat socks*

      Fitness Blender has lots of free workout videos. When I don’t feel like working out, I try to do some that are only 5-10 minutes long. I helps move my body at least a little bit. For me, taking baby steps to ease into something helps me build the habit over time. I started working out slowly like that in 2020 and now I’m able to do longer workouts 3-4 times a week.

    15. marvin*

      What has worked for me is finding a video exercise series where each video is short (usually less than 30 minutes) and not too difficult and picking a time of day when I can reliably fit it in (usually after work). If I know it won’t last long, someone else will tell me what to do, and I know when I’ll do it every day, that gives me enough momentum that I can keep it up for a pretty long stretch.

    16. Rara Avis*

      Do you have a local YMCA ? Ours has very reasonable rates plus discounts if the rates are unaffordable. I find having a class to go to helps get me off my butt.

    17. time for cocoa*

      Figure out your pain points and reverse engineer a method of exercise that meets those needs.

      For me, I absolutely hate sweating and feeling hot. I can’t stand when my skin is sticky, being overly warm gives me an instant headache, I’m just miserable.

      Ideal exercise for me: swimming.

    18. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I hate exercise and have only ever successfully walked daily. I walk an hour per day up from the breathless 20 minutes I barely completed the first time. You learn to dress appropriately for the weather and it’s not really a problem. I listen to music from the radio, from iTunes and an occasional podcast although they are a little too slow. Good luck in finding something tolerable for yourself. By the way, I’ve lost weight and my blood pressure has dropped, although that wasn’t really my original goal.

    19. Cookie*

      Ideally I work out at night, so no judgment from me on not getting up early!

      If money is tight (it is for me too), your local YMCA might have a sliding scale for membership dues. It’s worth asking about. Also, I’m not a fan but Planet Fitness memberships are super cheap. I am much more motivated in the gym than I am in my home workout space. I don’t always WANT to go, but once I get there I have no problem doing the workout (I’m a weightlifter). When I’m not at the gym I’m biking outdoors (summer) or in the basement (watching Hulu).

    20. My heart is a fish*

      Also ADHD, also hated exercise until I got in a rhythm with it.

      What I’ve found is that planning for it makes it a lot easier for me. “Exercise some four days this week” is a losing proposition, but “exercise on these exact days, at this exact point in the day” lets me build it into my carefully curated life routine much more easily. I get home from work, I change into exercise clothes, I exercise.

      The other big thing is to start small and build, because starting is the hardest part and when you’re staring down the barrel of a long period of exercise, it’s very tempting to just not start. When I first began my exercise routine, it was literally five minutes long; that was all I could cajole myself to commit to at the outset. That was fine! Five minutes of exercise is better than zero minutes of exercise, and five became ten became fifteen became now about 45.

      As a final note, don’t underestimate the helpfulness of shiny stickers :) I still give myself a silver star every day I do my exercise, and looking at the calendar all full of a regular pattern of shiny silver stars feels very rewarding.

    21. Girasol*

      There are a number of youtubes of bodyweight or limited equipment exercise plans that don’t take very long and also some quick HIIT workouts. I fall out of bed and do the tarheels medicine ball routine, all of 10 minutes of moderate exercises with a couple of other physical therapy exercises, so that before I can think “I don’t feel like it today” I’m nearly done. That keeps me fit enough so that more ambitious exercise later in the day feels appealing and not daunting. I’ve finally realized that I need to keep my daily workout to a “that felt healthy and virtuous!” level so I want to do it again, and not to push so hard that I make excuses not to do it next time.

    22. Mack*

      I’ve been using YouTube dance-along workouts (growwithjo is a good channel to start with) because it’s free and easy to get variety. My ADHD makes me want a new video almost every time – there’s a heck of a lot of different creators that do this kind of thing, so I never have to go back to something I’ve already seen. There’s other kinds of follow along workouts on YT and I’ve tried some but I only actually enjoy the dance ones. Ymmv!

    23. Katefish*

      My favorite cold weather exercise hack is to walk up and down stairs in your house (in my case, just one step because the house is small) for 30 minutes while reading/listening to something you enjoy… No winter gear required!

    24. Numbat*

      I keep a yoga mat under the couch and do MadFit videos. Some are only 20 minutes and a good starting point to get some momentum.

    25. Advenella*

      If you’re in the US, may I suggest looking for a community rec center (if you have one available) instead of a mega gym? My local center is $125 for the entire year (when paid upfront, I think monthly is around $20/month), and is run by the city, so no shady billings or overcharges/”equipment maintenance charges” by a mega gym. It’s something to consider as an affordable alternative when you’re ready for it.

    26. Eyes Kiwami*

      I’ve been using Apple Shortcuts to help with tipping myself into actually doing the thing. You can create an automatic script that runs at a certain time, for example at 8am your workout playlist starts playing, an exercise focus runs that shuts off your apps, and after 30 minutes it stops. Or you can start the script with a code phrase, so all you have to do is summon the energy to say “Hey Siri, start workout” or whatever. If you don’t have Apple maybe there is something similar?

      I use this for work, study, everything. It’s really made a difference!

  26. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Readers with dry/sensitive skin: ever had major issues when changing a product?

    I normally use a thick, oily protective as my main moisturiser on top of a light hyaluronic acid based moisturiser to plump up my wrinkles. My usual light moisturiser (which I loved!) has been discontinued so I bought 2 sister products from the same brand to try out which one to replace it with and…it’s not good. I’ve done 2 weeks exclusively on each product (with rest of my skincare regime still the same) and with both my face hurts, has dry red patches and is peeling in parts. I now apply the thick moisturiser 3-4 times a day and my skin is still painfully dry (whereas before twice daily would be plenty).

    This whole product line is recommended for dry, sensitive, mature skin so I’m at a loss. Should I reduce the use of the light moisturiser/s, or bin them altogether..? Anyone had a similar experience?

    1. Lilo*

      I have extremely sensitive skin. I’d say just toss them if it’s making your skin raw. I have had reactions to stuff advertised as being for sensitive skin too, so I think those labels just don’t cover everyone.

    2. WellRed*

      No recommendation beyond agreeing you should toss it. I hate when a product gets discontinued which seems to happen more and more with my face products. Loooking at you, Neutrogena!

    3. sagewhiz*

      Yes, toss! I had the exact same problem with so many products. I am now 100% committed to products from Montana Emu Ranch (add dot com to get their site) — the Absolutely Jasmine face cream, and Rejuvenation cream for my hands. Their a bit pricey but oh so worth it. They ship to the States and Canada.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Hello, sensitive skin! Yes, I hate switching products for exactly this reason – the “sensitive” tag tells you nothing about whether or not you will react to the product.

      See if you can get hold of the label on the discontinued product and compare it to the new ones. You’ll probably find the culprit in the ingredients list, and then you’ll know what to look for and what to avoid.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*