weekend open thread – Jan. 6-8, 2023

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: How Lucky, by Will Leitch. A man with a degenerative disease that’s left him unable to speak, or to move without a wheelchair, witnesses a kidnapping outside his door and tries to solve it.

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

{ 964 comments… read them below }

  1. Sloanicota*

    I just want to say, every week I track which one gets more comments, the work thread or the non-work thread. I wonder if Alison posting it earlier boost the turnout.

    1. Random Dice*

      I love the book recs. I recently discovered “solarpunk” which is happy futuristic novels about good people, at least that’s what Becky Chambers writes. Her book “Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” is basically Firefly, if everyone had a lot of therapy. Her Monk & Robot series is about a foul-mouthed itinerant tea monk wrestling with how to ethically treat robots, and is sweet and meandering.

      1. allathian*

        I’d love to read happy futuristic novels. I have absolutely zero interest in reading dystopias.

  2. Ali G*

    Happy weekend everyone!

    I am asking for collective good energy. My husband and I have a dog picked out for adoption, but our area is having a kennel cough outbreak. The dog we’ve picked out is in a kennel, with KC, along with a bunch of other dogs. We might be getting the opportunity to foster her until she is healthy and then adopt her.

    Think positive vibes for us!

    1. KatEnigma*

      KC isn’t that big of a deal, usually. 2/3 of our dogs got it summer of 2021 while being boarded. Yes, they and all the dogs had to have their bordetella vax to be admitted. Like with flu, they guessed the wrong strain that year. Literally the only difference it made was that we had another trip coming up the next weekend that we had to cancel, because the boarder wouldn’t take them until they had been cough free for 10 days. (Dog #3 never got it, not even after being at home with the others who were still contagious)

      1. Ali G*

        Oh yeah I’ve had a dog with KC before. The issue is we can’t adopt her until she’s healthy, but the KC just keeps going around the facility. So we are hoping they will allow us to foster in our home where she will recover more quickly and then we can adopt her.

        1. Rage*

          I hope they do, too, because KC can be a devil to get rid of in a facility like that (I know; I used to work in one).

          Our local shelter – with whom I have had issues with for a number of years now – had a dog up for adoption WITH HEARTWORMS. And they were NOT going to treat him; the adopter was expected to do that. Who’s going to pay $180 adoption fee for a dog that has a medical condition that requires significant expenditure for treatment immediately? (Me, that’s who. He’s such a great dog, I have zero regrets about my decision.)

          1. kat*

            Me as well. The shelter didn’t even tell me he was positive for it. I drove from the shelter to vet to get him checked out.
            Treated him and had 11 1/2 years with him.
            Best decision I ever made.

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Just a heads-up that the site will be down for maintenance for a little while tomorrow (Saturday) mid-day (upgrading to a significantly bigger server). If all goes well, it should only be down for about an hour, but it’s possible it’ll take a little while longer than that.

    1. Great Problem*

      This is such a great problem to have! Alison makes me to think that I’m not alone for some of the workplace related dilemma!

    2. Bubba Bubbles*

      Would prefer a Sunday for maintenance because Saturday gets the traffic for the open thread but whatever works best for your team

        1. Chaordic One*

          Well, it does seem that the site gets more comments on Saturday, than on Sunday. Saturday might be a bit more convenient for many folks.

          1. nr*

            I’m sure she knows her traffic and has reasons for choosing the time other than commenters’ convenience.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Great to hear! Infrastructure is really a problem when people start noticing it, so it’s great that you’re able to do that before you have major issues. I’ve seen sites sit through weeks or more of throttling or availability issues after putting off upgrading for too long.

  4. PDB*

    Will Leitch has a wonderful weekly email piece. I look forward to reading it every Saturday morning.

    1. WestsideStory*

      I’ve been a big fan since his Black Table days….a very talented bunch of folks who continue to do well.

  5. Mirin*

    I am currently unwillingly awake at 3 am, with a train to catch at 8 am. I’m usually good at falling asleep, but today it’s just not working. I’m physically tired, mentally as well, but I just don’t drift off. I’ve spent the last four hours flipping like a pancake and now I’ve given up on that to think of something better than hoping I’ll eventually fall asleep. Unluckily I forgot my melatonin at home. thoughts?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Resting your body (while awake) isn’t as good as sleep, but it’s better than nothing. Find a comfortable position, relax as much as you can, and try to think about pleasant things. Visualize a book/movie/TV show plot that you like, or conjure some pleasant daydreams.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          That happens to me occasionally. Trying to be still makes it worse. I give myself permission to walk around and stretch and move in whatever way feels good.

    2. Generic Name*

      Plan to sleep on the train? I’m normally a good sleeper, but on the occasion I have trouble sleeping, I try to just lie in bed and rest. I tell myself not to worry because I’m normally well-rested, so one crappy night of sleep won’t affect me too much. And normally the next day I’m ok. Maybe slightly tired, but nothing I can’t handle.

      1. Mirin*

        I have 3 train changes and in all honesty, last time I fell asleep on the train I missed my stop and had to spend another 1½ hours getting back home. So I’m a little scared.
        Haha. I’ve been waking up super early because cats are hungry and demand to be fed so I’m already kinda sleep deprived… I’m jealous of you, any tired day is one where I struggle with everything :(

          1. Mirin*

            I slept probably 2½ hours with some strange dreams to accompany me! Woo! Anyway, I’m on the train now and I set some alarms for shortly before my stops, so I hope that if I fall asleep I will still be fine ;;;

            1. Generic Name*

              Any sleep is better than none! I hate those dream filled, restless nights. Good call on setting alarms. Good luck!

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Whenever I’m tired on a train, I’ll set an alarm on my phone for a few minutes before I have to get off. Just in case…

    3. Pentapus*

      Opposite problem: Evening here, but alarm set for 3am to catch plane. Still don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep though.

      1. Stitch*

        I listen to audio books, usually something familiar and I’m usually out before the sleep timer expires.

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Something I tried recently that I got off an article in Stylist UK (so search if you want more details) is to “take a walk” kn your mind – mentally retrace the steps of a walk you know already. This worked for me despite my scepticism.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I did that the other night just out of nostalgia, but a side effect was that it really helped me go to sleep. I took an imaginary walk around all the streets of my old neighborhood, where I lived for 25 years and raised my kids; and then I wandered in my mind around all the rooms of the old house. Sometimes when I’m lying down with my eyes closed I can feel like I’m in my old bedroom and my grown kids are at home again and in their bedrooms down the hall. Sometimes I visit my old childhood homes like that, too.

    5. Sunshine*

      There is a podcast called “sleep with me”. It tells boring pointless bedtime stories. It works every time for me. Sometimes I try to get back to sleep without it and after an hour finally turn it on. Like a snap of the fingers it morning.
      I also like yoga nidra. It’s a series of meditations. The goal is not to fall asleep but it’s easy to fall into sleep.

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

        I read somewhere (here, probably?) about fictional, deliberately dull small-town baseball podcasts you can listen to as a way to lull yourself to sleep–Northwoods Baseball Sleep radio.

  6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’d like to know what anime everyone is watching. I’m hearing so much and even though my backlog is infinite I’d like to hear what is good. (My own tastes are for the super rare shoujo and even rarer josei lol)

    1. SparklingBlue*

      I’m looking forward to World Dai Stars this spring (because I have a soft spot for theater anime such as Revue Starlight, Kageki Shoujo!!, and A3! A3! is more about stage boys than stage girls though.)

    2. Academia-Blues*

      New Makoto Shinkai movie got amazing press/audience response; new season of Demon Slayer is on its way, I can’t wait!

      One Piece Red and Inu-oh also got great reviews and are already in cinemas.

      Sadly, no Josei comes to mind. But I really recommend live-action drama Mystery to iunakare which is josei/mystery and features Suda Masaki in the main role.

    3. Just a different redhead*

      Hmm, the most recent (as in newest available to us) ones we’ve watched were Spy Family, Bocchi the Rock, Joker Game, and Millionaire Detective.

      Bocchi… I guess I’d say it varies wildly in quality within episodes as well as across the whole thing. Has some great moments, then has some dragging why-does-this-scene-exist and/or why-is-this-scene-still-going-on sections. I understand, however, that it was based on a 4-panel, so the anime pacing issues might be because of adaptation choices. Without the (imo massive) pacing issues it would definitely be a cute story with some meaningful moments, but as it stands I don’t enjoy watching it.

      Spy Family has some over-the-top moments, but overall it’s very funny. If you don’t like silliness you probably won’t enjoy it, but if you do, much laughter could be in your future.

      Joker Game was very well done imo. We enjoyed it a lot and even my husband has watched it three times woth me. But I love mysteries. This is a much more serious one though.

      Millionaire Detective had a slow start and my initial impression was that it was going to be completely outrageous to the point that I wouldn’t finish it… But it actually was surprisingly good (again, I love mysteries and silliness).

      Some of my favorite anime series overall, meaning I’ve pretty much always watched them relatively recently, are: Yona of the Dawn, Snow White with the Red Hair, March Comes In Like A Lion, the original/older anime for Kino’s Journey, and Acca: 13-District Inspection Department. There are so many more great ones though… XD

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Spy x Family was so good! I read the manga for Yona til vol 17 but there’s more than 40 volumes ( oh God so long)

        1. Just a different redhead*

          Yona is long! But it’s still really good though!!! XD I have a lot of the manga spanning from about where the anime left off (it actually was pretty close to the manga compared to many series) – in English though. (My Japanese is not quite there yet.) There’s only one thing I’m considering putting correction tape over in it. XD

    4. GoryDetails*

      No recent anime for me, but some previous favorites include Cells at Work (and the darker Cells At Work: Code Black), about anthropomorphic blood cells and how they function. Also the cute-and-sometimes-scientific Heaven’s Design Team, in which an eccentric team are assigned goals for some new life-form and have to figure out how to make it work.

      An older one with a tough and independent woman as main character: Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. She’s a spear-woman who’s trying to atone for lives taken by protecting a young prince from assassins; good adventure/personal-relationship storylines.

      1. Just a different redhead*

        Ah I love Cells at Work!! (Though watching code:black is not for me so I won’t XD )

        While I know it’s a dramatized and limited-scope picture, I somehow can’t stop laughing when recovering from anything now due to picturing what would be going on in those terms.

    5. GoryDetails*

      It’s a bit late now, but just FWIW – the marvelous mystery/suspense series Monster just dropped on Netflix. (It’s the subtitled version, not the English dub; while I can manage subtitles quite well and often appreciate hearing the original-language actors’ performances, I admit that I did love the English-dub cast when I first saw the series years ago.) It’s a bit rare in manga, as there are no superpowers or magic/fantasy elements (unless you count the main antagonist’s near-supernatural ability to manipulate people). The artwork by Naoki Urasawa tends towards realistically-varied faces and body types rather than typical anime-pretty (though the main antagonist is quite stunning – and even the beleaguered protagonist Dr. Tenma tends to look pretty good even when scruffy, exhausted, and badly frightened!), and the plot takes lots of very intense and emotional swerves.

  7. Blythe*

    I teach middle school. Yesterday, I told my students information that they were FASCINATED to have never heard before– that if you and another person are on a collision course toward each other, each person is supposed to step to their right (in countries that drive on the right) to avoid each other.

    They want to know what other “commonly known but not commonly shared” information they are missing out on.

    What important snippets of life information should I share with my kids?

    1. Anonymous cat*

      For things that screw closed, it’s righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

      I still recite this to myself when changing light bulbs.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I recite “Clockwise is lockwise; counterclockwise counter-lockwise.” But my own kids did not grow up with many analog clocks to pound “clockwise” in.

      2. Random Dice*

        When walking down the sidewalk, leave room for the folks going the other way. If you’re 2-3 abreast, 1-2 of you need to drop back or step off the sidewalk.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Dust the fan before you switch it. ;) (I accidentally hit the reverse button on the remote of the living room fan this week…)

        1. Second Breakfast*

          And dust it with an old pillowcase! Sandwich each blade into the open end, rubbing gently along the length from both sides. All of the lint and dust will land in the pillowcase, not the floor.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      How to merge in traffic. If my city is anything to go by, The Zipper is slowly becoming lost knowledge.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        New Mexico had signs with directions when we were there last fall! And people followed them.

        New Mexico seems to be a Very Nice State.

        1. Just a different redhead*

          Haha… Back in New Jersey I wished there were signs that said “Traffic should merge, cars should not”.

        2. Cally*

          If your middle schoolers are close enough to driving permit age to be interested —

          That someone flashing their brights at you usually means either – something’s wrong with your own lights (or car generally), or that there’s a speed trap ahead

          1. HBJ*

            Or there’s animals on/near the road ahead (for areas where hitting a moose or deer is common).

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      Also related to driving: there are local/regional customs. In some (most?) places, all cars wanting to turn left wait for a break in oncoming traffic; in some (few?) places, the first car turns left before oncoming traffic goes, then the remaining cars wait for a break in oncoming traffic to make their turns. It’s a matter of safety to be aware of such things.

      Not necessarily related to driving, there’s a TikTok creator with shoulder-length hair who has a series of videos about ‘things I wish I knew before I was 30’ that has some great tips for everyday life – his videos can be found by searching that phrase.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I loved my New Jersey lefts! My hometown, where I returned, doesn’t do it and I miss it.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Use cold water to soak stains (especially blood). Hot water will set them hard.

      1. Owned By Cats*

        In the same vein, if you have something with a stain in your wash, check it before you put it in a dryer. Sometimes it’s easy to see it’s still there, sometimes you might need to air dry to check. But putting it in the dryer will set it in; checking will give you another chance to treat and remove.

      2. anon24*

        To add on, hydrogen peroxide and cold water is the best combo I’ve found for getting blood out of clothing! I’ve had my uniforms pretty covered in blood and usually I can get it all out in one cycle with a good amount of peroxide added to my washer and soaked on the stains but sometimes need another, just don’t run it through the dryer until it’s out or the heat will set it (if you aren’t sure, air dry)
        – an EMT

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Peroxide is amazing, especially for blood stains. I heard this from a friend who is a housecleaner, too. You’d think it’d bleach clothes but so far it hasn’t for me, undiluted from the bottle. 3%, maybe? Whatever the regular drugstore kind is. Definitely test a spot just in case though.

      3. Marion Ravenwood*

        On a related note to this: washing up liquid (which I think non-British people call dish soap?) or liquid hand soap is a brilliant quick stain remover. The trick is to work it in from the back of the fabric, ie where the stain has set least – so for example, if you spill your drink on yourself then you’d apply the washing up liquid to the side of the fabric next to your skin. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. Even if it doesn’t lift it completely, it should get enough of it to be relatively unnoticeable.

        1. Buni*

          Just don’t use too much, because I did that on an old cotton t-shirt and it actually bleached the colour out a little…

        2. KatEnigma*

          My mom had to use dish soap to remove grass stains on my brother’s baseball uniforms, as a kid. It was information they passed out with the uniforms.

        3. Random Dice*

          On a related sub-note, if you’re having a stink emergency (say if you forgot deodorant or off grabbing groceries after a workout), you can use hand sanitizer discreetly rubbed over pits / etc to temporarily deal with the odor. You can do it both on clothes and skin (though on sensitive areas it can cause a bit of warmth, temporarily).

      4. Not Australian*

        Related: if you prick your finger while hand-sewing and mark your work with blood, your own saliva is the best remedy to remove the red part of the stain before it sets: soap and water should then take care of the rest. (Source: hand-quilter who has resorted to this many, many times… )

      5. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Another laundry tip: to de-stinkify smelly things, put white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser in the laundry. We don’t use scented anything and I had clothes that got absolutely saturated with cigarette smoke. Washed them twice, still smoky. Vinegar did the trick.

        1. FisherCat*

          White Vinegar also works well for a re-wash of mildewy clothes if you forget to move them from washer to dryer for a while, which is a thing I still somehow do regularly.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            White vinegar is also great for cleaning scale off dishes, kettles, etc. And a cup run through the microwave for a minute will help you clean it out.

            1. Girasol*

              It’s also great for cutting soap scum in the shower. My husband hates the smell of shower cleaners and they’re not the best for the environment. I tried 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar for shower cleaning and haven’t gone back.

          2. KatEnigma*

            I had a container of Oxyclean on the dryer, just for this purpose. Then my son developed an allergy to oxyclean- now vinegar. In Houston, you don’t even get until the next morning before they smell musty- a couple hours is all.

            1. JSPA*

              That’s more likely to signal mildew or mold inside the washer itself; YouTube will have diagnosis, removal and prevention for your specific model or general class of washer. (Knowing washers get mildew is another thing I wish I’d learned earlier.)

          3. GingerNP*

            I’ve been putting white vinegar in every load of laundry for years – it prevents the musty/mildewy stuff if I do forget the load in the washer.

          4. allathian*

            Vodka is great for getting the smell of sweat out of clothes that you don’t or can’t wash very often. Lots of performers use it. Basically any alcohol would work, but vodka’s transparent so it won’t stain the clothes. Middle schoolers are probably a bit young to teach this trick to, though!

      6. Wilde*

        Ha! My advice is almost the opposite. A long hot wash will get nearly everything out and keep your laundry much cleaner in the long run too.

    5. Your Computer Guy*

      American paper money is approximately 6 inches long (6.14, if we’re being precise). Useful enough for rough measurements in a pinch.

      1. Mirin*

        as someone who constantly lost, misplaced or forgot my rulers, I made centimeter marks(because Europe) on most cards in my wallet to use as a replacement – not ideal but definitely saved a few exams for me

      2. DannyG*

        Used that trick trout fishing 50+ years ago. 6” was minimum size for brook, brown & rainbow trout, 12” for Atlantic salmon.

    6. CatCat*

      In the sides of boxes for things like foil and cling wrap are little tabs you push in to hold the roll in place.

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        I learned this at some point in the last 3 years (and I’m in my 30s). Still comically bad at ripping anything in that kind of box. Like, unbelievably bad.

        1. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

          Me too, I CAN’T open a container patiently. Can’t. I regularly try. It makes me feel sort of…claustrophobic or something…to try and slow down and do it carefully. So – the boxes my partner opens are neat and just right, and the boxes I open are – a feast of rips.

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            Oh my. I get the claustrophobic feeling!!!! That’s the perfect term for it.

          2. Your Computer Guy*

            Someone who knows my pain! My son has the same problem and we’re not genetically related. My wife says I gave it to him through osmosis.

            Also, love the name.

          3. CatvWrangler*

            Some of us just can’t really open boxes. I have been a lactomangulator forever. And even though I rarely need to open a milk carton these days, other types of boxes fare just as badly.

            1. Ampersand*

              I’m so happy to know there’s a word for this! Also that I’m not alone in my inability to open boxes. When I was a kid it always felt like a major accomplishment when I properly opened milk cartons.

      2. Jackalope*

        Very vaguely related: if you’re trying to open a jar with a metal lid for the first time and it won’t come open, run the metal lid under the hottest water your sink will give you. It will expand the metal a tiny bit and make it easier to open. Also, jamming a knife under the lid can help break the seal.

        1. RLC*

          Another tip for stubborn jar lids: if you have a pair of grippy rubber gloves (such as dishwashing gloves) put those on your hands for a boost in friction/graspability. Also helps keep grip on jar and lid if it opens abruptly.

    7. Mikey*

      If you’re cleaning the toilet or doing something else where you wanna keep your hair clean, but you’ve got so long hair that a beanie won’t cover it, then just put on a T-shirt and then start taking it off your body but don’t go so far that you pull it off your head. Instead, let it remain there, turned inside out. Not super pretty, looks-wise, but it keeps the hair hidden away so it won’t get hit by stray spurts of filthy water.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I do this when dying mine or my kids’ hair. Wear the shirt as a smock while applying the dye then use it as a cover while the color sets :)

    8. Ellis Bell*

      Hah! We step to the left (British) and I had not made the link with driving. Also, when you are going up stairs you should walk up on the left to allow room for people coming down on your right. The other British habit (which is not catching on and is annoyingly dying out) is to start one queue between two cash points so people can go to whichever one becomes free first. Having two lines is inefficient and you’re left trying to judge which one is moving faster.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        In the US we walk on the right going up stairs. Never connected it to driving either.

        1. londonedit*

          The rule for escalators on the London Underground is stand on the right, walk on the left. It’s the number one rule for tourists to remember because there is nothing more annoying than trying to walk down an escalator and finding a load of people standing on the left side so you can’t walk down. I think that’s probably where 99% of the ‘Londoners are grumpy’ stereotype comes from because someone will yell ‘Stand on the RIGHT please!!’

          1. Random Dice*

            In the US that’s the rule on the subway too – stand on the right, walk on the left. Where I live there are signs, and little stickers before the escalators.

          2. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

            Same rule in Sweden. There are also signs to not stand on the yellow stripe marking the edge of the escalator step, and some older stations have signs saying that dogs should be carried (Hundar måste bäras). Numerous enterprising young jokesters have altered many of them to say that dogs must be eaten /Hundar måste ätas) and draw bite marks along the poor doggo’s back.

      2. fposte*

        I remember reading about a conference of non-British scholars who studied queuing behavior and found that to be the most efficient approach; when they went to their hotel, they immediately grouped into that pattern for the check-in desks and everybody else waiting followed their modeling.

        Also, boarding an airplane is more efficient if it’s done by window on one side, then window on the other; then middle on one side and then middle on the other; then aisle on one side and, if there is one, aisle on the other. Some airlines (I think Alitalia was one) did at least board “outside in” by bringing on window sitters, then middle, then aisle without regard to side. But that breaks up people traveling together, which is especially a problem with traveling children, so airlines don’t tend to use it.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          For some weird reason, where I live, those kinds of queues are common at self checkouts in grocery stores. I think it’s just the easiest way.

          When I worked at a Disney store, we made guests queue that way.

      3. KatEnigma*

        It’s definitely connected with driving. Which is why, when visiting a theme park at opening in the US, it’s best to go LEFT first- the bulk of the crowd is going right.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I never noticed until you said that, but I always go right when entering a theme park — it just seems like the right way to go and I’ve never even thought about it.

          1. KatEnigma*

            It’s one of those tips they give on Disney boards, and people even comment that they know they should go left, but can’t help it and go right anyway.

        2. JSPA*

          And when there are multiple banks of toilets. I think of it as left-hander advantage, as it may have as much to do with handedness as with driving patterns (?)

    9. ShinyPenny*

      If you are behind someone in close quarters, like the aisle of a grocery store, quickly say, “Right behind you!” in a clear cheerful voice if the person starts backing up into you—to prevent a collision. Just the other day, I was mulling over whether Covid isolation might have prevented teenagers from learning/becoming comfortable with executing this skill.
      I was a very shy kid, and would have benefitted from clear instruction on this, because it was an empowering thing once I knew how to do this adroitly.

      Variation: Staying to the right side (in the US) when on a bike path or running path, and clearly calling out “On your left!” as you approach another party BEFORE passing them. (Also for passing on the right, but that is not preferred.)

      As in many AAM situations, clear communication can feel awkward at first, but can prevent a lot of mishaps!

      1. A Slow Walker (with cane)*

        The passing on the left thing is also based on driving rules. Wish more people did it.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m so used to cyclists saying “on your left” that I immediately move to the right as soon as they say “on your . . . ” Once on campus I heard someone say “on your -” and I reflexively jumped right — at the same time that they were saying ” – right!” They almost ran over me and they were mad about it, but I was like, There’s no such thing as “On your right! It’s “on your left”!

      3. Jackalope*

        My tweak with this is if you’re coming up behind someone, it’s better to say something like, “Coming up behind you!” instead of “On your left!” The reason for this is that many people hear nothing but the “left!” and cheerfully jump left as they think you’ve just instructed them to do, putting them right in your path. If you just let them know you’re close behind them, they can jump whichever way and you can go to the other side.

    10. Vio*

      I only recently learned that a lot of women walking alone in the dark feel safer if you pass them on the side closer to the buildings/hedges/etc rather than the traffic side. I always tended to stay on the traffic side on the theory that it puts the other person at less risk of a swerving car… never taking into account that the shadowy gateways, alleys, etc are actually more threatening.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was taught in a self defense class to never let a stranger hem you in like that! Too easy to get pushed into an alley or doorway.

    11. I heart Paul Buchman*

      On the dashboard next to the fuel icon is a small arrow that points to the fuel tank side of the vehicle. It is in all makes of car here.

        1. JSPA*

          Now I’m wondering where you are! Most cars I’ve driven on 4 continents (or else indicated by the side of the fuel hose on the icon), though I was able to find a counterexample of someone complaining on reddit. That was a Holden truck they drive for work (which further googling says is an “Austalasian” brand– never heard of them). At least once, though, I saw the arrow not as a printed white arrow but as a near-invisible-until-lit low-fuel indicator light. That probably seemed graphically efficient…but only if you assume that people never fill up a car until the tank is almost empty.

      1. I heart Paul Buchman*

        Hence the word “here”. In all makes of cars here. I am not in the US. For God’s sake I am so sick of the mean spirited nitpicking on this site. It’s getting as bad as Twitter with the ‘whataboutism’.

      2. IT Manager*

        I learned this AFTER many years traveling for work and guessing blindly where the gas on my rental cars would be ;-)

        Great tip!

      3. lissajous*

        An addendum to this one: if the car doesn’t have an arrow next to the fuel icon, the hose on the icon should be on the same side as the car’s fuel tank.

    12. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Most libraries have a lot more than books; at a minimum, most have ebooks that you can read on your computer or phone (for those who don’t have ereaders) and a lot of research and educational resources. Ours also has a lot of free movies and TV shows, both streaming (Kanopy) and DVDs you can borrow from the branches.

      1. KatEnigma*

        You mean libraries still have books? Ours have more of everything OTHER than books. They have bestsellers and then they might have some older books in central storage that you have to request be sent over in 5-10 business days. And this has been true of 2 major metro areas, and somewhat true in 1 small city.

        1. xl*

          Interesting.

          That’s not the case in the library I visit. Mine has plenty of other things, but old-school books are still the most prevalent.

          I’d imagine it’s just a case of appealing to whatever the demographic in that area is looking for.

      2. xl*

        An interesting thing I learned from an acquaintance who works at a library—

        You’d think that if they have something available in eBook format, there would be unlimited “copies” that could be checked out at once. After all, it’s not like a physical book that is checked out and you have to wait until someone else brings it until you can take it home. It’s just a download, after all.

        However, there are still licensing issues and they are often only able to have a certain number of something in eBook format checked out at once.

        Makes sense, it’s just something I never stopped to think about.

    13. LB33*

      If you think you can fly, it’s better to test that theory on the ground rather than from a tall building.

    14. Healthcare Worker*

      Walk facing traffic – this seems to have been lost. I often encounter people in my neighborhood walking with traffic early in the morning and it always startles me.

      1. Esus4*

        I learned that in Girl Scouts! Along with how to recognize poison ivy…which does grow where I live now. :-/

          1. Jackalope*

            I learned that too, but there’s a huge number of plants with leaves in trios, so it’s not as helpful as one might think.

    15. JCBooks*

      What to do if you have a car accident.
      Exchange insurance information, name and address, call police, control emotions, speak very little to other driver, get name and phone if a witness approaches you…etc
      A check list of steps in glove compartment is helpful.

    16. ecnaseener*

      Pockets are sometimes temporarily sewn shut in new clothes. Check for that before you conclude your blazer pockets are fake.

      On escalators, stand on the right and pass on the left.

      1. LadyB*

        Remove the tacks (large cross stitch) in the flaps at the back of your new coat/jacket/skirt. Walking/sitting will be so much easier

    17. PhyllisB*

      If you have burned food on a dish or cooking pot, set in the fridge overnight. Next day it cleans right up.

    18. Healthcare Worker*

      How to make a bed with mitered corners, or hospital corners. Ensures the top sheet stays in place

      1. KatEnigma*

        I was a candy striper (mid 80’s) and bedmaking that way was a skill we had to master to “graduate” from training.

      2. xl*

        The most useful thing I got out of my military enlistment was my career that I’ve been in for 22 years now.

        A close second is the ability to meticulously make my bed and fold my clothes.

        1. Random Dice*

          My career military dad taught me to roll clothes when packing to prevent wrinkles.

          I fold all my clothes that way now. It’s like the Marie Kondo method where shirts stand up in little packets, but so much faster, and fewer fold-lines.

    19. Generic Name*

      If you are raising boys, I suggest you teach them how to recognize when something is dirty and how to clean it, and what “clean” looks like. I have a 16 year old son, and I’ve realized I need to step it up a lot in the next 2 years. He’s good at keeping stuff put away, and he’s finally started filling his oatmeal bowl with water and putting it in the sink after leaving it in the counter, but it look lots of reminding on my part before he did it in his own.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I’m sure you’re right that it’s worth focusing on for boys because they’re less likely to be taught it at a young age – but please teach all your kids this. I’m a woman and didn’t pick it up through osmosis, I needed to be taught and it still doesn’t come naturally!

        1. Generic Name*

          Ha, yeah, agreed! I feel like girls are socialized more to pay attention to that stuff I guess, and boys typically aren’t. I don’t remember specifically being taught to cook or clean or do laundry, yet I could do it when I left home, primarily I think because I was often with my mom watching as she did those things. So that’s how I picked it up.

    20. AGD*

      Not relevant yet to middle school kids, but I was appalled with myself when I learned by accident in my early 30s that (at least in North America) you’re supposed to leave behind a tip for hotel cleaning staff when you’re about to go check out of a hotel room. No one had ever told me.

    21. Tech support*

      If you receive an error message, please read the entire thing. They might contain suggestions to fix the problem.

      Also, if you receive a list of steps to do something, please read and follow the entire thing.

    22. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      If you’re opening a door to go in and there’s someone on the other side of the door trying to come out, move aside and let them out before you try to go in. My mother taught me that as a kid. The logic feels related to letting people off a train before you get on, although the context in my childhood was shops or any other public place.

    23. Anono-me*

      These universal truths:

      Cheap, good quality, or fast; pick two.
      Life is not fair.
      Sometimes it is better to be safe or kind than right.

    24. Lifeandlimb*

      Somebody mentioned this a few years ago — I don’t know if it’s still true— but in Spain or some parts of Europe, everyone in an elevator is expected to stand facing into the center towards each other, whereas in the US, we all usually face the door.

  8. kr*

    My friends and I were just discussing: What things do you enjoy as an adult that teenage you or child you would have been shocked to know you enjoy now? The most popular answer in our group was naps. My answers were brussels sprouts, weeding and vacuuming. 12 year old me would be disgusted.

      1. acmx*

        Interesting! I liked tattoos when I was 13 (and I do have them).

        Maybe running? Or I guess most foods lol

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s all food, lol. I’m not particularly adventurous now but I was a very picky kid! First thing I thought of was mushrooms.

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        Definitely alcohol. Child-me thought it was gross. Adult-me loves scotch.

        Also onions, garlic, and mustard.

        1. ThatGirl*

          My parents were religious teetotalers (they’ve lightened up with time), so it wasn’t till I got to college and one of my friends was a “bad influence” :)

    2. sewsandreads*

      Ironing and sewing! My teenage self only learned to sew because taking sewing classes at school throughly vexed my mother (she taught sewing and hated the mess I would leave).

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Keeping my bedroom spotlessly tidy and making the bed every day, lol. You literally couldn’t see the carpet for the mess in my teenage-self’s room! And staying in on weekend nights is way more enjoyable than going out.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Legitimate mark of a new phase in my relationship with daughter: in college I had come to look after her while she had joint surgery, and when she was able to move back into her dorm room she admitted that she now kept her room really neat and orderly.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Definitely making the bed every day. I was a very late convert – didn’t start doing it until the pandemic hit and I was in and out of my bedroom every day since that’s the closest bathroom to my study. Kid me and even mid-40s me would have been at least amused if not disbelieving.

        Kid me would also be shocked to know that I like horseradish, mushrooms, and scrambled eggs. As a kid I loathed scrambled eggs and didn’t much care for any kind of cooked egg. Now I have scrambled eggs pretty much every morning.

        1. Again, why is it asking again?*

          I didn’t start regularly making my bed until I was in my late 30s and trying to sell my house during the terrible housing market. I had to keep the house show ready for months.

          Now if I come in and I haven’t made the bed the room looks very messy to me.

          1. Rage*

            I don’t bother making my bed anymore because the dogs will have it UN-made in a shorter time than it took me to make it. :p

      3. Clisby*

        Yeah, I was trying to think of something when I saw your response. Staying in v. going out is definitely more enjoyable.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh, not really something I enjoy, but I remember occasionally seeing things with the labels still on as a kid – like a trash can or toilet brush still having the barcode/brand sticker on it while in use. I would be like wow that looks weird, aren’t you supposed to take that off? Now as an adult I realize why on earth would I spend time ripping off a sticker and making sure all the residue is gone on a PLUNGER? This is not a product I own for its aesthetic.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        That reminded me the comment from the “weirdest corporate gifts” thread, when everyone got a plunger, and one commenter said they would hate it, because the gift plunger would probably not match their bathroom decor.

    5. AGD*

      Great question!

      – spicy food
      – antiques
      – science fiction TV shows
      – new socks and underwear
      – going to bed early

    6. CatCat*

      Getting up early and then loafing about on weekend mornings sipping coffee and reading the news.

    7. Your Computer Guy*

      Being married. My parents had a horrendous divorce when I was quite young and I thought all adult relationships were doomed. Turns out adult me can relationship just fine.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Oh yes. Definitely camping. I whined and complained and begged to not have to go, from about 10 until I graduated high school and no longer had to go.

        My husband and I asked for a TENT for our wedding. Then upgraded to a travel trailer. We sold it when our son was born, because we needed a bigger vehicle. But we just bought a new (used) van and husband insisted that it have a trailer hitch!

        1. Tau*

          Haha, I hear you. I haaaated camping as a kid. So much whining. So much complaining. Other families went to the beach! Or Disneyland!

          In my early twenties, I visited my friend who lived in the Mediterranean and had the first beach holiday of my life. I put on my swimsuit, put out the towel, sat down and went… ok, now what? wait. wait. you mean that’s it? you don’t… DO anything??

          (and then I spent the entire day swimming because I didn’t feel right if I wasn’t moving and got the worst sunburn of my life.)

          …so I picked up cycling holidays again, and from there into camping because camping is just so stupendously practical when you want to be flexible. And it turns out that not sharing with my brother makes it a lot more bearable. But still! Kid me would be appalled.

          1. IT Manager*

            I’m a beach person and your description of a beach holiday has me laughing out loud.

            Yep! That’s all there is!

          2. Random Dice*

            This is exactly why I hated beach vacations. Though I love the sea, in all her changeable beauty. I discovered I love the beach in October, and even the dead of winter.

    8. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Most foods, and cooking – I grew from an impossibly picky eater to a fairly adventurous one, and love trying new recipes at home every week.

      Alcohol, I guess, though I drink little and only on special occasions. Still, teenage me wouldn’t have wanted that either.

      Museum visits and sightseeing – not boring anymore, now I get to choose the itinerary (my parents insist on visiting Every. Single. Church. on any trip. We’re not even religious, they love it for the history and architecture…and my interest are quite different).

    9. Marion Ravenwood*

      Fizzy drinks. I don’t think I drank cola or lemonade until I was at university, because I didn’t like the sensation of the bubbles when I was younger.

      Also a lot of (raw) fruit and running (or exercising in general).

      1. Cookie*

        I never thought I’d love plain unflavored seltzer. Now it’s one of my main beverages (second only to coffee and just edging out tea). I had my first seltzer at about 12, when a deli owner gave it to me to settle my stomach, and it was the beginning of my journey to SO MANY BUBBLES.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I thought Gatorade was boring when I was a kid. Now I think it’s nice and maybe too sugary.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        A few times this winter my spouse and I have been like “Ha ha ha it’s been dark for hours, we are going to tuck ourselves into bed and not care that it is 7:45.”

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      Wearing glasses. So much easier to deal with than contacts! (Teen me would have cared more about how I looked than whether I could see. Middle aged me is completely out of f’s to give.)

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I feel naked without my glasses. And I’m at the age where I want something between my eye area wrinkles and other people’s prying eyes!

      2. allathian*

        I’ve worn glasses since I was 11. Luckily I was never bullied for them, so I didn’t really mind wearing them. My parents also allowed me to pick the pair I wanted, they didn’t just buy the cheapest pair for kids, not even when I needed a new pair every 18 months because my eyesight deteriorated so fast as a teen.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Eggs. A texture thing for me. I’ve gradually come to enjoy them as a vegetarian protein source.

    12. fposte*

      I’m going to go with naps and cheese. Funnily, a lot of me would be what 12-year-old me expected; I still am an untidy person, and my love of early music (planted by the Six Wives of Henry the Eighth) is what finally led me to take up the recorder decades later.

    13. Again, why is it asking again?*

      Salad … I hated salad as a kid.

      In college at a dinner, I ate a Caesar salad and enjoyed it. It turns out that there is more to salad than iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon bits, and THOUSAND ISLAND dressing. That’s just how my parents ate salads.

      I still prefer Caesar salads and romaine lettuce and Caesar and ranch dressing but I eat a variety of salads never with thousand island dressing.

      Also now I eat tomatoes, I like them in salad or with salt or mozerella. Still don’t like ketchup, though.

    14. Cookie*

      Going out without makeup and feeling so unencumbered. I LOVED makeup as a teenager, now I’m like “eh, do I have to?” when I really know it would be helpful to do so. Similarly, wearing ugly “clown shoes” because I’m never pinching my toes in “pretty” shoes again, to heck with that. Young me was always like “I’m never gonna be that dowdy old bag.” Oh well!

    15. Sparkle llama*

      Sensible clothes and shoes. Wearing warm clothes and comfortable shoes really makes quite the difference but high school me seemed to think flip flops were a great idea.

    16. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Cleaning. God, I hated cleaning when I was young (and uhhhhhh not so young) and now I love it.

    17. carcinization*

      Steely Dan, avocados, and cooking. I still hate naps, and I never ate brussels sprouts as a kind/have always loved broccoli.

    18. marvin*

      Having a union job with benefits. When I was a teenager, I thought stable jobs were purely soul-crushing, but working in a creative industry for a decade cured me of that. Otherwise most of my opinions and tastes haven’t changed much.

    19. londonedit*

      Running and exercise in general (15-year-old me would be SHOCKED that I get up on a Saturday morning to go to parkrun and that I go to the gym two or three times a week). And going to bed before 10pm.

    20. MeetMoot*

      Hiking, getting up early (7:30 am is now a long sleep-in for me) and *not* wanting to watch movies with friends (I now generally prefer chatting)

    21. Jackalope*

      Picture postcards! For some reason when I was a kid I thought they were boring in the most adult way possible. When I bought postcards I’d always get the silly comments kind. And now when I go on trips I often use them as a way to bring back pictures of places I saw but couldn’t get a good photo of.

    22. xl*

      Vacuuming is up there with me too. I like how the carpet looks when it’s clean and standing up straight with straight lines from the vacuum. When I’m cleaning the house, I vacuum last so that I don’t “spoil” my work by walking all over the carpet while doing other chores. I also find it kind of therapeutic to see the canister full of dirt/fur when I’m done and know that I just cleaned all of it up.

      Another thing I’d never have seen myself enjoying is keeping track of things on spreadsheets. I have ledgers for my bank account and other financials, tax information, address books, etc all meticulously maintained in spreadsheets. The 12-year old version of me would have considered that totally nerdy. The (cough) version of me appreciates keeping track of this and having all that information available real-time.

      1. asteramella*

        Me too! Hated/resented it as a kid (when all “girl” things were pink by default), love it now (as a gender-nonconforming adult). Ha!

    23. Cedrus Libani*

      As a kid, the smell of bananas made me gag. Somehow that just went away, and I like them now. I still think Oreos are a tragic waste of chocolate, though – to the dismay of my mother, who adores them and would have loved an excuse to keep them in the house.

      I think 12 year old me would be most scandalized by how easily I will give up on a book I’m not enjoying. Granted, as a kid, you have a scarcity mindset around books – they end up in your hands at semi-random, and you have limited control over when you’ll be resupplied, so you read what you’ve got and you enjoy it the best you can. I still remember the first book that annoyed me badly enough that I refused to finish it, and that was a huge decision, because I was on vacation and there was nothing left to read but the cereal box. But I’m an adult now, with more books than I could read in a hundred lifetimes available at a single click. So I’ve turned into Anton Ego, the grumpy food critic from Ratatouille – if the book is not delicious, I spit it out.

  9. Middle Age Mutant Ninja Turtle*

    Some of my friends have their 20 year high school reunion coming up in a few months (mine is next year WHAT?!) and we’ve been talking about if we’ll go, who we hope to see, who we hope we don’t see and it brought up an interesting conversation about grudges and I’m curious on others thoughts.
    There are probably 3-4 people from high school that I would not want to interact with. I’d either avoid them, or if that wasn’t possible I’d be coolly polite before quickly excusing myself. One friend was surprised that I still held “grudges” against people and she didn’t care about things that had happened so long ago. She didn’t say it as rudely as I’m sure it’s coming across over text, but she didn’t really have issues with people in high school.
    Here’s where I’m curious on your take: I don’t think avoiding/not wanting to talk to people who were really (and I mean really, really) awful to me means I have a grudge, does it? I don’t wish then ill will, I don’t trash them or try to get revenge I just would feel uncomfortable participating in small talk with someone who had treated me the way they had. One guy literally punched me in the arm, unprovoked, one night after a party and laughed and cheered himself for doing it (the way little kids do the-crowd-goes-wild cheers when they score a basket etc.). I just wish to pretend they don’t exist. Does this mean I haven’t gotten over it?

    My friends stance is if you don’t like someone or don’t want to be friendly with them because of bad behavior in the past, you are dwelling on it or holding a grudge. I disagree. What do you all think?

    1. nela*

      If you’re saying you would be chilly to someone over how they treated you 20 years ago when you were teenagers, it does sound like you’re holding a grudge, yeah. That could be justified if it was really extreme bullying or abuse. If it was more just teenagers being typical little shits, personally I wouldn’t care at this point. It sounds like in your case it might have been of the extreme stuff though.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Have you been bullied? Been afraid a classmate would hurt you? Been the person who was punched or kicked for no reason? I was the smallish, quiet, good at school kind of kid, and apparently, some kids decided that made it safe to pick on me or something. I don’t think about it much and haven’t for a long time. I didn’t get it anywhere near as badly as some kids did, but why would I want to talk to people like that?

        1. I heart Paul Buchman*

          Because they’ve probably changed since then? To be the bigger person? To prove to yourself that you have moved on and are no longer beholden to them? That’s three valid reasons without thinking on it. It’s not an invalid position to take.

          1. PoolLounger*

            I don’t see it as being a “bigger person” (whatever that means) to talk to people you don’t want to talk to and who hurt you. A reunion is supposed to be fun. Not everyone has to be friends. If you don’t want to chat with someone, don’t. It’s a boundary and a choice, not a grudge (though I really don’t see any problem with grudges, as long as they’re not taking over your life.)

          2. Despachito*

            This sounds strange.

            These people very actively and painfully harmed OP. I do not understand why OP would want or need to prove to themselves, and why would they be “a bigger person” if they somehow forced themselves to interact with those people?

            I think it is healthier for us if we do not let people who harmed us occupy the space in our heads by thinking often about the harm they did us and stewing in our own juice. But it does not mean we forget and that we should interact with them as if nothing happened. We may want to do that if the person apologizes or proves to us they were stupid kids then and have changed since and if we feel this is sincere, but by no means this is an obligation.

            If someone acts as if nothing happened towards someone who wilfully harmed them and did not do anything to apologize/repair the damage, I would not think of them as of a “bigger person” “proving something to themselves” but as of a doormat with very skewed views of interpersonal relationships.

          3. Observer**

            Because they’ve probably changed since then?

            What makes you think that? There are a LOT of things that change, but many of the fundamental things that cause this kind of behavior do NOT change. Not that they CANNOT change, but the probability that they did actually change is not that high. Certainly not NEARLY high enough to say “probably”.

            To be the bigger person?

            Why is it being a “bigger person” to open yourself to someone misbehaving towards you?

            To prove to yourself that you have moved on and are no longer beholden to them?

            You can be perfectly “not beholden” to someone without making the effort to be nice to them of trying to defend them. In fact, I would say that the effort to “show them” anything is far more about still being beholden to wanting to impress them than simply not being bothered to go past basic courtesy.

            That’s three valid reasons without thinking on it.

            I would say that it’s 3 reasons that SEEM valid until you think on it.

        2. Asenath*

          I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet anyone like that – but then, I wouldn’t be in a position to do so, since I am far too uninterested in re-connecting with any of the people I was in high school with to bother doing so. If I met one randomly, I hope I wouldn’t be bothered one way or another. I went on a trip to my former home town with family (to whom it meant a lot to make the trip), and although I didn’t meet the worst offender from my schooldays, he came up from time to time since he’d been active in the community since, and I was pleased to find myself completely indifferent to him and any mention of him, and think I would have managed the social niceties just fine had he shown up.

      2. Observer**

        If you’re saying you would be chilly to someone over how they treated you 20 years ago when you were teenagers, it does sound like you’re holding a grudge, yeah.

        No, it’s not a grudge. It’s simple self protection. If someone who was old enough to know better hit you and thought is was just SOOOO HILARIOUS, then that’s someone that you SHOULD be wary of. And please don’t give me that garbage about teens brains not being developed enough. Teens ARE absolutely old enough to know better and to be expected to not hit people!

      3. Random Dice*

        I think your friend has bought into toxic forgiveness.

        It’s ok to politely avoid someone who was cruel to us in the past. If you were plotting an elaborate revenge that would be too far, but quietly avoiding someone who hurt you is both your right, and a reasonable self-protective boundary, executed with social appropriateness.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Nah, it’s just apathy/disinterest. My school didn’t up doing a 10 year reunion for my class and I wasn’t disappointed – I mostly enjoyed high school but none of these people are relevant to my life anymore and if I wanted to reconnect I could easily find them online!

      What does your friend think you’d get out of one random conversation with people who were mean to you decades ago and are strangers now? Like why would you bother when there are also people there you DO want to talk to?

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        Yeah, I was super cringe in high school so I’ve largely mentally blocked that time.
        But I’ve seen a lot of the people I went to school with on LinkedIn and most of the bullies are like insurance salesmen or other boring corporate things. Kind of takes the edge off in my mind – however big or special they were in high school, they’re just regular people now.
        Still not very interested in making a trip across the country for a reunion where I’d have to make small talk with any of them, but that’s apathy instead of spite.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I would say it depends on the nature of the offence and the intensity of emotion.

      Someone who made your life miserable though bullying? An ex who ended things really badly? Polite but chilly is a good way to go. Someone who dated the person you had a crush on, or beat you out for a role you wanted in the school drama club? That’s grudge territory. Someone you simply found annoying, or were jealous of – it’s been 20 years, people mature and change a lot in that time. You don’t need to seek them out, but snubbing them is an over-reaction.

    4. Maggie*

      I basically think back to who I was/things I did/beliefs I had at that age and realize I’m so utterly different now that I can’t hold anyone to who they were then. I would say this holds true for the few people who punched me in middle school/high school as well. They might still suck, but they might be totally different people. However, I think you can also talk to whoever you want or don’t want since you’re an adult and it’s not really weird to not want to talk to someone who punched you really.

    5. bratschegirl*

      “Bad behavior in the past” is the best possible reason to keep your distance from someone. Your friend sounds like one of those horribly annoying people who feels terribly uncomfortable if not everyone in their orbit is Best! Friends!! Forever!!! and won’t respect anyone’s entirely valid boundaries if they want it otherwise. You are being completely reasonable and your friend is wrong.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I think however much you have changed and grown or matured in 20 years, you should assume everyone else has as well. It doesn’t mean the stuff they did back then wasn’t bad. It means a kid did it, and the people you will be meeting are grownups who are really strangers to you.

        1. PsychNurse*

          Yes. I wasn’t a bully in HS (I was definitely more the bullied type) but I would still hate if someone assumes I behave the same way at 40 that I did at 17! I’m a totally different person now. I’m an adult with empathy and life experiences.

          1. Observer**

            Which is all good and fine. But more often than not people who don’t actually have any empathy, don’t suddenly develop it in adulthood. To take the classic example – kids who torture animals generally don’t fundamentally change in adulthood. Yes, there are exceptions, but it’s far from the norm.

            1. RagingADHD*

              I really don’t think a teenager punching someone in the arm is a sign of being a psychopath.

              1. Observer**

                A teenager punching another unprovoked, and thinking that it’s really funny is generally not a kid with empathy.

                I used a classic extreme example to make a point that is well studied. But that lack of change is not limited to sadists and sociopaths.

      1. Random Dice*

        Scolding a victim into violating a protective boundary so that her transgressor doesn’t feel uncomfortable is what toxic forgiveness is about. It took me a very long time to realize how messed up it is.

    7. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I’m with you, I don’t agree with your friend’s stance. It’s not dwelling on it or holding a grudge to wish them well but also not want anything to do with them. Yes everyone grows up and a lot of that crappy teenage behaviour gets outgrown. But IME people who go through a fundamental personality shift are the exception rather than the rule. Someone who did awful things to you because they enjoyed feeling powerful or watching you suffer/be in pain may have outgrown punching people, (or spreading nasty false rumours or pulling your pants down in public or whatever awful thing), but I’m highly skeptical that they wouldn’t still be kind of a jerk, just in more refined, grown-up ways now.

      So why the need to hang out with them and find out if they’re an exception when there’s a whole room full of other people to talk to? For me, needing closure, or wanting some kind of validation, or trying to prove how over it and big a person I am by talking to them would be “dwelling on it” far more than just ignoring them.

    8. MassChick*

      Maybe your friend was a “perpetrator” in school? That would explain their being quick to forgive/forget ..

    9. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      There was a classmate in high school who was always making me the butt of jokes, or just saying rude things. She wrote sarcastic put-downs in red ink all over the pages of my senior yearbook. I took that yearbook to our 20th class reunion, and passed it around when someone asked if anyone had brought one. When the book finally got to her, as she leafed through it, her face got as red as the ink she’d used. She brought it to me and apologized for having been so horrible in high school. I don’t go back to that town very often, but when I’ve run into her, she’s been genuinely nice, and she was the only person from there who sent a card when my mother died. If you’re not like you were in high school, it’s a little unfair to think other people don’t change. Give them at least one opportunity to show how they are now.

      1. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

        I like this story, thank you. I was bullied as a child by a particular group, and sometimes when I met them individually as adults I could see they felt awkward and were trying to make up for it. Also, I myself was quite mean to a girl at around the same time – and every time I interact with her as an adult I am grateful that she is friendly and kind to me.
        (Having said that, in my opinion no-one has to talk – beyond basic politeness – to someone who was mean to them, and never showed that they’re sorry, in the past.)

      2. Random Dice*

        That was a nice story, thanks for sharing.

        My childhood bully sent an apology through my mom as an adult. I imagined that he had a kid who was being picked on, and it caused him to do some reflection. The apology did actually help, but I didn’t want to see him.

    10. Mikey*

      IMO, it’s not “holding a grudge” if all you’re doing is not actively hanging out with people who were mean. By that logic, you’re holding a grudge against every single person in the world you’ve ever met that you’re not calling up and asking if you can get together and hang.

      Holding a grudge means you’re mad at them, or at least slightly annoyed. At least in my opinion.

    11. Despachito*

      I think your stance is perfectly OK – you do not hate them, you wish them well, but do not want them in your life anymore. I think you are right and your friend is wrong.

      I’d say you are holding a grudge if you were stewing over it after all those years, actively hating those people, feeling the need to talk about them all the time, trashing them, seeking revenge… then what your friend said would be justified but you do nothing like that.

      They may or may not developed since then and be better people now but it is not your obligation to “give them a chance”. Feel free to act as you please, what you are suggesting (to be coolly polite or avoid them altogether) seems like a perfect solution to me, I’d likely do the same.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      It would make me think she was a dick in high school. If she was, she won’t remember because only the people who were affected remember this stuff! It’s hard to be the mature teenager. I see this dynamic with my students all the time. Could people have changed and be terrific now? Sure, but you literally don’t know their new personality so why would you rush up and hug them? Go with an open mind, but probably a better memory than most.

      1. NeutralJanet*

        “If she was, she won’t remember because only the people who were affected remember this stuff!” By that logic, how do you know that you weren’t a bully in high school?

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Because I was hyper aware of my behaviour, I remember my interactions in great detail, I didn’t dismiss people’s reactions to me then, and I don’t dismiss their lasting impressions of high school now as not counting. I was a child, so of course I was thoughtless on occasion, but I was too aware of that for it to be a real problem.

          1. NeutralJanet*

            Ah, yes, bullies don’t remember being bullies, and you don’t remember being a bully, therefore, you weren’t a bully. This makes sense and has no internal contradictions!

            I’m always fascinated by the people who say that the tree remembers and the axe forgets, and then aren’t worried that they were ever the axe. What’s it like being so confident in your own moral righteousness that you can’t comprehend the possibility that you ever hurt anyone?

            1. Despachito*

              But according to this logic, you (and every generic “you”) might have been a bully as well (because there is absolutely no way to know no one ever felt bullied by you, and your own feelings and memories are completely irrelevant).

            2. Ellis Bell.*

              Wow – moral righteousness, really? I have hurt people like every human being, which is why I said: “of course I was thoughtless”. As to why you are trying to reverse my argument of how bullies often forget bullying, into “everyone who hasn’t got a specific memory of being a deliberate bully is a bully” is absurd, I don’t agree, and it is not what I said.

    13. Academia-Blues*

      Actually, after forgiving someone, one still gets to decide whether to repair the relationship or to dissolve it. The latter option is not about holding a grudge, and forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.

    14. Irish Teacher*

      No, I don’t think it’s holding a grudge. Not being interested in meeting people you haven’t seen in 20 years is the default. You need a reason to want to meet them. I almost certainly wouldn’t go to a secondary school reunion if we had them and not because I disliked anybody in my year (I honestly can’t think of anybody I actively disliked) or had a bad time at school (on the contrary) but just because…I have no interest in meeting people who are strangers now.

      I realise avoiding people is different from “I wouldn’t go out of my way and give up a day of my time to meet them” but…it’s still not a big deal. These people hurt you in the past. You have no way of knowing if they have changed or if they are still bullies who would be nasty to you. Staying away from them is a good idea.

      Your friend’s stance is a reasonably common one but it is problematic. It ignores the fact that being friendly to some people can be dangerous, either because of the memories it can trigger for people who were severely bullied or abused or because some people will use any degree of friendliness to try and lure people in again.

      Now, if you were looking forward to the reunion so that you’d have the opportunity to be super-chilly to them, that might indicate you were holding a grudge or weren’t over it, but if it’s just “I’d prefer not to interact with these people who mean nothing to me other than bad memories,” then that is normal and healthy.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      Wise distinction from an earlier thread: The first phase of setting and holding a boundary looks just like holding a grudge. Over time, though, you go from holding the boundary because you are hurt and vulnerable and on the alert for violations to holding the boundary because it’s there, and if no one is poking the boundary you don’t think about it, but if someone pushes on it you’re like “Nope, boundary there, no longer a child.”

      Someone described a grudge to me as someone violating your boundaries in the past, and now you were in a mental space where you ensured you continued to feel violated. That resonated with me, especially from the occasional bullying thread here where someone was giving lots of headspace to a person who might literally have died years ago. So I think there’s an important distinction to the grudge/boundary scale–if you spend any significant time dwelling on either past memories of hurt or plans for future fantasies where the evildoer realizes their mistake and is filled with regret, that’s over in grudge territory. If you just hold the boundary “Marilou may not borrow my car, ever” and don’t think about it unless Marilou is trying to get your keys, that’s a boundary. And you don’t have to lend Marilou your car forever because you did once and if you ever change that rule it’s a grudge.

      I also think people have different emotional impacts from past angst. Like that your friend really has let that stuff slide off and either doesn’t harbor any emotionally charged bad memories, or is able to say “wow, hormones, am I right?” and not connect it to the 40 year olds.

      1. Random Dice*

        Excellent!

        A grudge is harmful to oneself, and obsessive. It’s a sign that therapy is needed on that topic, like a boil that needs lancing and antibiotics.

        A healthy boundary is only really thought about when it might get violated, or the occasional temporary prick of painful memory.

        The impact on the victim is the important person, not on the transgressor.

    16. Snow Globe*

      I’ve attended many high school reunions. I wasn’t particularly popular in school, but I’ve remained friends with 3 women from high school and since we live on opposite sides of the country, these reunions are a chance to see each other.

      I’ve found it very interesting how people change over the years. At the 10th, people were still in the same cliques. At the 20th, people were circulating more, talking to folks they really didn’t know well. I found I had a lot in common with some people that I barely knew in school. By the 30th, everyone who was there was friendly with everyone else, including some people that had issues with one another back in school, and there were many people who hadn’t been friends in school that ended up hanging out in the local bars all night.

      You aren’t obligated to go spend all night chatting with people that you weren’t friends with, but it is a reunion, not just a night out with your friends. Being willing to say hello to people to see who they are now is part of the reason for being there.

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        I had this exact experience with my reunions. 10th – not much different, missed my 20th, but at the 30th everyone got along fine. My 40th got canceled by Covid and it hasn’t been rescheduled.

    17. ecnaseener*

      Yeah if you’re polite but just not interested in chatting with them, I don’t see that as a grudge.

      I think there are two ways of thinking about this, which we’re seeing represented in the comments: one view is that you should be scrupulously fair in your social choices and be friendly to everyone until given a good enough reason not to be friendly. The other is that you’re under no obligation to be perfectly fair, you’re supposed to enjoy yourself so focus on people you’re interested in and feel free to pass some people by politely. That’s where I ultimately land, but I get where the first camp is coming from – it’s a high school reunion, not a date.

      1. Jackalope*

        When I went to my most recent high school reunion, I had more than enough people to talk to with the category of “people I had pleasant relationships with but then we dropped out of touch”. I thankfully wasn’t bullied so I didn’t have to worry about that, but there were people I didn’t really like in high school that I felt fine just… not talking to. I mean, I was polite, but I didn’t seek them out or anything. I would feel doubly comfortable doing that with someone who had actively chosen to be cruel to me.

    18. fposte*

      I’m a few decades on from you, and I did a meetup with my junior high (and grade school) class, which had included some people who’d been pretty savage, and I did wonder what I’d do if they were there.

      To me “coolly polite” and “quickly excusing” are still pretty reactive, and “coolly polite” is generally a way of being visibly displeased to the other person. That’s where it might sound a little grudgy to me–if you’re trying to send a message to *them* with your behavior. For me it was more a matter of priorities–there were people I’d want to talk to and people I wouldn’t particularly want to, and I spent my time on the first, and some people didn’t talk much to me for the same reason–not that I’d done anything to them, as far as I know, but they weren’t there to forge new bonds with vague grade school acquaintances.

      So I’d personally go for just regular polite but focusing on time with others. You’re going to zip past quite a few people for a variety of reasons in order to emphasize catching up friends, and these people are just among the zipped-past.

      1. Middle Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle*

        Good point, I don’t want to come across as petty to other people (meaning people that would be in conversation with me and the 3-4). But you comment did make me envision a comical cartoony universe where I would morph into an ice queen whenever someone I didn’t like approached me with a laugh-track sign at that “visibly displeased” at the reunion and then morph into some sunny, jubilant angel when someone I like comes by.

    19. Tea and Sympathy*

      My take is that it doesn’t matter if you are “holding a grudge”, because it is perfectly fine to “hold a grudge” over being bullied. Given the studies on the long-term effects of being bullied, I’d say it was natural. Especially if that was the last interaction you had with these people.
      Your friend sounds like they belong in the same category as someone who has never suffered a loss, yet feels the need to tell you that you are grieving too long, too deeply, etc. over a close loss. Annoyingly tone deaf.

    20. Cozy*

      I was bullied a bit as a kid (things like someone writing “I hate you” in permanent marker on my locker, shoving my books out of my hands, cruel comments, etc.). I haven’t thought about them since I graduated high school, but I’d have no interest in interacting with them at all, just like how I wouldn’t be interested in talking to a toxic boss from an old job or any other person that made me miserable at some point. It’s not holding a grudge, it’s just having no reason to want to be around someone or nice to someone. Could they have “changed” or “grown up”? Sure, but that’s irrelevant to me since the person I knew was a jerk and I’m not looking for them to prove they’re not a jerk anymore.

    21. Samwise*

      No, it doesn’t. People who weren’t bullied or mistreated in school have no idea.

      Why should YOU have to pretend all is forgiven? Why don’t THEY apologize?

      There’s a cheerleader I endured in junior high and high school (it the 1970s, so yeah)…I wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire. I was deeply pleased to learn a few years ago that her life after high school wasn’t all rosy. Good, she was a mean mean person.

    22. matcha123*

      I hold grudges. I haven’t gone to any of my high school reunions, but if I did, the people I’d try to avoid (or be just mean to) were people who were supposed to be “best friends” but were horrible and never took any post-high school opportunity to apologize.
      I mean, pinching me in class, telling me a gift from a different friend looked ugly and I should take it off (in front of the gift-giver!), asking the name of a boy I was interested in and then trying to date him, trying to get private login information for my school account and then getting angry that I wouldn’t give it to them…and much more and that’s just one person.

      There are people who weren’t the kindest to me, but I don’t really care because we weren’t really friends and didn’t know each other well. But for the people I did consider “friends” to treat me badly and then go on Facebook and act like they were bullied in school, I am more than willing to pull out all their dirt. And before anyone says “They may have been bullied!” I am very certain they were not. These are people that create scenarios and try to set up events to make themselves look like the victims of malicious behavior.

      Anyways, OP, if you do go, go and give those people the full cold shoulder!

    23. MeetMoot*

      Wild to me that there’s such an expectation people move on from grudges. Who cares if you hold one? To be very clear: I do understand that from a personal perspective it’s better for one’s health to let stuff go, and I understand that most people change (sometimes dramatically) between high school and adulthood. What I don’t understand is why dumb teenagers get a free pass? Teens know better and still make deliberate choices to hurt other people.
      I think it’s weird that there’s supposed to be some sort of emotional statute of limitations. If the hurt is still there, why shouldn’t someone still be angry about it? Particularly if there was no closure. If the person has changed and has apologised then sure, could be reasonable to expect someone would try to let it go. But if you’re mistreated and there’s no reconciliation, I think it’s legitimate af to hold that against someone for as long as you want.

    24. Observer**

      <I.My friends stance is if you don’t like someone or don’t want to be friendly with them because of bad behavior in the past, you are dwelling on it or holding a grudge. I disagree. What do you all think?

      Either your friend is being dishonest with herself or she leaves herself open to a lot of misbehavior. Or she just has been EXTREMELY lucky in her life.

      If someone did something bad to you and the only way to “get over” something it to “forget” it, or act as though it never happened, you basically then need to allow that person back into your life to do those bad things again.

    25. Cacofonix*

      Yeah, you’re holding a grudge. But that’s your prerogative; you can own it and behave as you planned; coolly polite. But consider being open to people being better adults than they were as kids. If I can forgive myself for handling peer relationships awkwardly or insensitively as a teenager then I need to leave room to chalk up their behaviour of 20 years ago in the same way, whether high school or anything else. Obviously, that doesn’t cover cruelty.

      At least you remember them. I didn’t go to any of my high school reunions because it didn’t make sense for me to try to reminisce with strangers. High school was unremarkable and I’ve had much richer experiences since then.

    26. asteramella*

      I had a terrible time in high school; I was outed, and the area where I lived was extremely homophobic at the time. I skipped the 10-year reunion because all the people who RSVP’d yes were either people I didn’t know (my graduating class had 700 kids in it!) or people who actively bullied me. No thanks! I probably won’t go to the 20-year either.

      I know many people have of course changed their views since high school (and in fact as an adult I got some people reaching out to apologize/come out to me themselves!), which is great, but that doesn’t particularly make me want to socialize with them now.

  10. Pamela Adams*

    I have my handful of high school forever friends. The rest don’t really care. If we were neutral acquaintances, fine. People who were assholes, so sorry, can’t be bothered.

  11. Aphrodite*

    One of my greatest fears (phobia?) is that of being trapped underground. I was actually out of work for 18 months because when my old department on campus closed down I was “involuntarily” transferred to the theatre arts department–which was, after two years, moving out of its temporary offices into their renovated ones. My office would be underground, under the theatre lobby, and built of huge cement blocks. A narrow hallway with cement blocks. The office, excepting only a small door of huge cement blocks. A preview of it just before the move left me terrified. I got a doctor’s note and the end result was a Leave of Absence.

    What is endlessly fascinating, to me at least, is that I am utterly enthralled and captivated by books and YouTube videos detailing these situations that scare me to death. I will read the entire genre of books I have come to term “misery books.” (If it’s full of misery, especially with horrible heat and humidity, dangerous bugs and insects, terrifying animals, etc., I am all over it.) I am also passionate about videos of deaths from deep (dry) caving, cave and wreck diving, nasty storms on high mountains and more. And I can’t explain why.

    Do you have any weird or odd combinations like that?

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Have you read Thor Heyerdahl’s book Aku Aku, about Easter Island? There’s descriptions in there about crawling through underground tunnels that still prey on my mind after 40 years! Not even crawling- pretty much dragging yourself along by your fingertips.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Ooh, no, I haven’t but that sounds right up my alley. Thank you for the suggestion! I am now looking forward to scaring myself with those descriptions.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, yes, the “Death In (park)” books are impressive – though also very grim, especially when kids are involved. I’ve read the Yellowstone one, and several others (not all from the same author) on the Grand Canyon, Mount Ranier, and Yosemite. There’s also Not Without Peril, subtitled “150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire”, in which many people have come to grief through underestimating how quickly weather conditions can change.

    2. Your Computer Guy*

      Your predilection for media about your phobia is interesting. Is it like a horror movie “fun scare” for you?
      I have a serious phobia of heights – like you, I wouldn’t be able to work in an office that exposed me to it. But I struggle watch things that invoke it as well. Like those body cam videos from the people working on the super tall power lines or antennas – they make me feel like I’m going to pass out. And seeing the first Avatar movie in an Imax theater wound up being pretty stressful.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I’m not sure how to describe it. Reading a great account or watching a good video really is scary–I feel my body get as tense and terrified as if I were really there, perhaps on a slightly lighter scale–but knowing I am not there is also a bit calming. I am aware it is not real for me but the feeling of it is very much real. Does that make sense?

        Heights. Yeah. I get what you are saying. I get that same feeling while watching things like the most frightening trails in the world like Mount Huashan in China. (Hint: Do not look at it unless you are prepared to handle a mountain trail that is nothing but planks attached to the mountain wall, and a chain you can hang onto.)

        Maybe it is enough for me to experience all these things, things that look like they could be fun if I had the courage to do them and the willingness to die doing them. Feeling those feelings is one way of doing that safely. (Also, I am past the age when any of these extreme experiences should be even be an idea let alone a reality.)

    3. Mirin*

      not quite the same, but I am afraid of heights to the point where I had a ? panic? attack on a viewing platform. In my dreams though, I can regularly do things like fly or jump as high as buildings or run around on roofs – I would never ever do any of that while awake. Occasionally though I have dreams where I have to go up rail less staircases, those are really stressful

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        Very interesting. In the dreams I can remember, I’m still afraid of heights. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt about flying.

    4. Fish*

      My husband has some serious anxiety and pretty extreme startle response, but he loves horror movies. I remember reading about a study or something showing that a not insignificant percentage of people with anxiety issues enjoy them- I think it was something about deliberately choosing to have an anxiety provoking experience rather than just having one in everyday life.

      (I also accidentally posted this as its own comment, ooops!)

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I never ever wear makeup, partly due to dexterity issues, partly due to self image stuff, to the point where the idea of having to put it on freaks me out. But I love love love make up shows like Glow Up and YouTube channels like Trixie Cosmetics. It’s not about me so it’s fine?! Not entirely logical I know!

    6. Above ground girl*

      That is interesting! I also have a phobia of being trapped underground. Just reading about your new office location caused discomfort. I don’t think I could read books or watch movies about that all the time, but I have watched the occasional movie with that theme (think miners trapped underground), which caused discomfort and a nightmare about being trapped myself. I’ve missed out on some great adventures (going under Niagara Falls and visiting the catacombs in Rome, for example), but I couldn’t do it. I tried going under Niagara Falls with my husband and kids but had to turn back while they continued on tour without me at my insistence.

    7. LGP*

      I can relate! I am very anxious about flying (I wouldn’t say it rises to the level of a phobia, but I really dislike it), but I’m always very interested in books or shows set on planes. Maybe it’s a way to “face” my fear without having to actually experience it? I don’t know, but I’m glad to know that other people have this too! :)

      1. Helvetica*

        Also flying for me but I watch a lot of those shows about airplane crashes and the ensuing investigations. To me, that actually helps because most of the time, it confirms that the airplane industry is so regulated and controlled that at least the majority of times there must be multiple points of failure for a plane to actually crash.

    8. MissElizaTudor*

      I have a relatively bad fear of sharks, such that I won’t go in the ocean or any other body of water (except pools) more than my knees if the water isn’t clear, and only up to my waist if I can see through the water.

      I also absolutely love sharks. That’s a thing most people who know me at all know about me. I love non-fiction media about sharks since I find them fascinating and they are incredibly important to the ocean ecosystem (also humans are killing so many every year and it’s so depressing). I also love both good and bad fictional shark movies and books. “Shark movie” is my favorite genre and I will re-watch the ones I like no matter how many times I’ve seen them before.

    9. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Others with more neuro/psych knowledge may be able to explain this better, but it sounds like you’re describing negativity bias? It’s a known thing that humans are hardwired to pay inordinate amounts of attention to bad stuff/threats over positive things. Usually we hear it in terms of how many compliments it takes to neutralise one piece of bad feedback, but it’s broader than that.

      My worst fears are too disturbing for the weekend thread, and for the longest time my simultaneous repugnance and morbid fascination with the subject matter had me worried that there was something seriously messed up in my head. Then I found out what negativity bias was through something unrelated and it suddenly clicked that on some level all that fascination was just my brain paying special attention to that subject matter, trying to figure out how to survive the unthinkable should I ever have to face it.

      Like, I bet if I asked you about underground survival stories, who survived, in what conditions and exactly how, you could tell us all about it, right? And despite your fear, you’d probably actually have a higher chance of survival than most just because of everything you’ve paid special attention to learning, no?

      1. Aphrodite*

        Interesting questions! I have seen so many I am not sure I could relate individual details but, yes, I am confident I would know what to do, and what not to do, should I ever end up deep caving. That could make it better. But it could also make it worse if I knew that how I was trapped made rescuing me harder than, uh, normal. Like if I was trapped in a crawl space that was six or ten inches high and something on my body got stuck or I slid just enough to where I could not go forward or backward. (*breathing hard as I write this remembering one guy in particular who got stuck that way but almost upside down and, not surprisingly died despite numerous rescue attempts*)

    10. fposte*

      My claustrophobia slightly increased in adulthood, so I take a sedative for MRIs; it’s especially bad when I’m traveling, so I’m tired and destabilized. I found this out first in a British exhibit that gave you the experience of being in the World War I trenches. You can guess how well I fared in the underground bunker in Moscow.

      But I guess my fascination equivalent is aviation. I have long had a flying phobia and for a long time I dove in to learning every detail I could, including considering taking flying lessons, and I still enjoy things like the Big Jet TV YouTube channel. I do, however, stay farther away from disaster stories these days as I’m more aware of their disproportionate psychological footprint on me, and I do plan to keep flying whereas I will probably never again attempt to enter an underground bunker.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I’m rather fond of that kind of book myself, from desperate-mountaineering-situation stories to polar-exploration-survival (or non-survival) epics. Joe Simpson’s “Touching the Void” is an awesome account of a climbing accident that could have (and almost did) result in his death, and even though we know he survived because he’s telling the story, it’s still riveting and harrowing.

      For caving incidents – the mind-bendingly awful tragedy of Floyd Collins and his fate has stuck with me since I first read about it, I think in a magazine article. There have been several books about it, including Trapped! by Robert K. Murray, and if you want serious claustrophobia-by-proxy that’s your book.

  12. Come On Eileen*

    In need of swimsuit recommendations! I am a 48 year old woman, 5’11”, about 175 lbs. I started swimming for exercise about a year ago and would like to upgrade to a “racing” suit (for lack of a better word, something designed for exercise). I can’t seem to find anything that fits a mature and curvy body. Can anyone recommend a brand or a website that you’ve used that has suits that fit an adult body well who wants to swim laps?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Lands End has good suits for many sizes, I prefer the mix and match so I can take the bottoms off for using the bathroom – the tops have good support and some have underwires.

      1. Jellybean_Thief*

        Here to second Swim Outlet.

        I’ve swum for fitness my whole life — pre-puberty to perimenopause so far (in other words: lots of exercise suits for lots of different body types).
        I’ve generally found success with the brands Speedo, TYR, Arena, Dolfin…*maybe* Nike.
        Swim Outlet (online purchaser) has them all, and you can sort for “swim team” or “fitness swim” to weed out your options. Generally, you’re looking for a one-piece swimsuit with a racerback / keyhole back (they use a few different names). U-backs are cute but going to slip off your shoulders while swimming.
        Exercise suits don’t use standard dress sizes, they’re based on torso length / bust / waist / hip measurements. Swim Outlet has sizing guides, but you might get best results by actually taking your measurements as recommended.
        Good luck — and have fun in the water!

      1. Chaordic One*

        Another great thing about Land’s End is that much (but not all) of their swimwear is chlorine-resistant. If you swim regularly in a pool where they use chlorine, they will last longer and not fade or look old quite as soon. I’d rather pay a bit more for something chlorine-resistant, rather than having to buy 2 or 3 suits because they faded and looked old and ratty.

      2. Lolly*

        Lands End. Follow their instructions for measuring yourself. I was surprised to find out I was a “long torso” according to their measurements. But the suit fits great without anything falling out or riding up while actually swimming.

        Also you can return if it doesn’t fit right – they have a liner thingie stuck inside the crotch area for try-on purposes. Just don’t peel it off because then it’s not returnable.

        Caution – their tankinis are only the tops. You have to buy the bottom separately. (years ago if you bought a lands end tankini it included both the top and the bottom)

    2. DistantAudacity*

      You might also check out the selection at Bravissimo – they do bras of all sizes, and also swimwear.

    3. Atheist Nun*

      I like Dolfin. I wear a size 20 swimsuit (dress size 18) in this brand. I have had better luck with this brand than Lands End, which I thought was poor quality with the material getting sprung out and wearing thin in less than a year. My YMCA pool is heavily chlorinated which is rough on swimwear, but I expect a longer wear than one year. The Dolfin suit has lasted more than 2 years.

      1. Professor Plum*

        A year—wow? I’m in the pool for a fitness class 2-3 times a week and it eats my suits. I’m lucky if they last 4 months!

        1. Swim Coach*

          That’s appalling and you should complain to the manufacturers and buy better quality suits in future. I swim 5 days a week and have never had a suit last less than 2 years!

          The other possibility is that the pool you use is poorly maintained and the chemical balance is dangerously out of whack. You’d probably notice other side effects of that though.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I get Speedo tanks from my local sporting goods store. (The same place I took my kids for cleats/shin guards/team uniforms.) It reliably carries suits year round.

      I like Speedos because they hold up well, and they have different lengths–I have a long torso.

    5. Hanani*

      I like the Speedo x-back. Agree with the folks who suggest Speedo, TYR, Dolfin-type brands. I personally prefer polyester to spandex for pool swimming, since it lasts longer. You may need to either order and return a bunch or find somewhere that actually has different ones to try on – I’ve found that certain brands just really don’t fit my body shape very well, but would doubtless fit someone else’s just fine.

    6. E*

      Bare Necessities has a ton of choices and a good return policy. I am big chested and they had a lot of options for more support.

      1. E*

        Ps for athletic suits in particular I like the brand TYR. I have a very comfy suit of theirs with built in cups

    7. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m tall also, and I’ve found that two-piece suits are actually a lot more practical for exercise. One-piece suits just don’t have enough room in the torso, so they never fit me properly.

      I wear swim shorts. Not the loose men’s-style swim trunks – the kind that’s tight to the body. Mine are Freya brand. They won’t fall off, and they hide my pubic hair completely, so I don’t have to shave OR manage anyone else’s feelings about it. For the top, I have what is basically a sports bra in swim fabric.

  13. sewsandreads*

    Crafting thread: what’s on everyone’s makes list?

    I’ve just finished pillows that I promised my partner I’d make MONTHS ago. Tonight I’m working on some embroidery for my best friend for a little pick me up.

    1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I did what I said I wasn’t going to do and started a new crochet project before I’ve quite finished the last one. It was just for logistical reasons, I swear! Old project – almost done – is a crookedly edged washcloth (I am a noob), new one is a cowl scarf. I’m also doing a big needlepoint scene when I don’t want to think as much as the crochet requires.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        Crochet noobs unite! Your projects sound really cool, where do you get patterns?

        1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

          Another crafter here.
          I like ravelry.com: Lots of free patterns and very active, helpful forums.

        2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I got a book that I’m finding really helpful – it’s just called The Crochet Book by DK. The washcloth is in there – it’s literally just a square of single crochet with a couple color switches to make stripes. The cowl is a kit (supposedly for beginners but I think I shouldn’t have chosen the black yarn version) from crochet dot com. It came with the pattern, yarn, a hook, stitch markers and a little bag. I’m hoping it turns out nicely!

          1. Silence*

            Black yarn is difficult. To make it easier to work with try natural light and a light coloured background (table or lap rug)

    2. OyHiOh*

      Finishing pieces tonight (Friday) that are promised for an exhibition tomorrow. Have two pieces (11 x 14 inch oil pastel works) to go. Realistically, I’m only going to get one more done. One of the two is planned in the style of Mondrian and I’m dying a little imagining getting that done in the next twelve hours.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I didn’t do much hobby stuff last year so I want to get back into embroidery this year. I got a big kit for my birthday which will probably be my first/main project (Seasonal Birds by Jess Long). It’s my first time trying a double hoop! I also have three of my own designs that I started or bought materials for last year and really want to revisit.

    4. Pentapus*

      The endless sweater for the sprog. It’s a complicated cable stitch that I absolutely hate. I finished the back in two months of spending all my spare time on it, but I’ll be busier for the next few months. Hopefully front & sleeves can be finished for next Christmas.

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I’m learning crochet so hoping the kit I ordered for simple mini baskets arrives soon!

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      One of my goals for this year is to do something sewing-related every day, even if it’s not necessarily using the machine. So at the moment I’m working on making a polka dot shift-style top. It’s stretching my skills a little because I’m making a button loop with bias binding rather than a hook and eye and little frills to go on the sleeves, but it feels like a good habit to build and it’s nice to see myself making (albeit slow) progress. Today’s task is putting the neckline and facing together.

    7. Not Australian*

      I’m doing ‘Christmas dinosaurs’ for next Christmas: I make quilts for Project Linus and our local organiser has asked us for two things in particular – ‘boy quilts’ and ‘Christmas quilts’. (Yes, we’ve had the conversation about ‘boy quilts’ and ‘girl quilts’, but the fact remains is that a majority of quilts donated tend to be in the fairies/cute baby animals line and tractors and spaceships are sadly lacking.) Anyway, in an attempt to deal with both requests at once, I’m doing dinosaur-themed quilts in Christmassy fabric at the moment… Expect to have at least two tops made by the end of this month.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m attempting to crochet a cardigan. I learned to crochet as a child from my great grandmother, but never learned to read a pattern until last year. So far so good, the body is done. I hope to finish and attach the sleeves today, and then add the trim and weave in the ends tomorrow.

    9. Bunny Watson*

      Working on a quilt square. At my current rate, the quilt will be done in another thirty years or so, but I’m trying to get back into it.

    10. CharlieBrown*

      I always buy holiday-themed pencils at the dollar store because they are so pretty and they write pretty well. But I have way too many, so I keep telling myself I need to make some kind of wall-hanging with them. I need to get on that, as I’ll be moving to a new place soon with a lot more wall space to fill.

    11. fposte*

      Thanks to OyHiOh, I am doing an origami a day calendar this year and so far very much enjoying it.

      1. OyHiOh*

        How fun!

        I recently came across a book you might like, Trash Origami. It features projects based around ordinary household throw away papers such as candy wrappers and soup can labels. Projects are beginner to intermediate skill level.

    12. Lifelong student*

      I finished my lace tablecloth! I am pleased with how it turned out. My craft group is starting a project to make chemo caps so I did one last week. They are quick and easy- an afternoon can do it. Now I have started making a bed pillow sham- but am having a rough start keeping my stitch count.

    13. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Minimalist floor lamps made of wood. I found some online and thought it would be a fun project. The ones I found are only 46″-48″ tall and would be too short if I put them behind my couch. I just learned about a craft wood supplier in a town 30 mins away so I’m going shopping :)

    14. Bobina*

      Crocheting my second pair of socks ever. I remember posting here the first time I tried, and its given me the encouragement to not bother with trying to follow any kind of pattern or video, just going by feel and what looks about right (LOL). But hey, the first pair lasted….about a 1.5 years with pretty much daily use for at least 6 months, so I think I’ll be alright. And they are bright yellow which I’m very excited about!

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Did you like the texture of the socks? I am a little skeptical that I would find crocheted socks comfortable. What kind of yarn do you use?

    15. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Today’s plan is to run some mending through the sewing machine, and cut a couple of panels for some pillow shams. It’s the pile of mending that my family gave me at Christmas…and which was truly the most exciting bit about the holiday.
      If I’m on a roll I’ll also cut and piece the fleece scraps that will be the back of a flannel quilt. I’m trying to clean up my quick projects this month so I can do my bigger half-done projects next.

    16. Callie*

      My craft group is resuming for the first time since the pandemic began! Soooo excited!

      I’m finishing up knitting a baby blanket for a little one due early February, then on to some throw pillows I’ve been promising for years. I have the yarn, just need to finalize the pattern.

      I’ve paused on a scarf for my son. My dog got into my knitting basket and bit a couple of holes in it. I can fix it, but I still get too upset looking at it. I now have a huge zipper bag that I store my knitting gear in and leave it in a room that the dog can’t get into when I leave the house…but that was a rough lesson to learn.

    17. Anonymath*

      Just finished many loom-knit hats that were Christmas presents for close friends. Am trying to psych myself up to start a new more complicated one, but so far it isn’t working.

      I’ve recently finished a one-room dollhouse model and have opened the box for the next one, a Magic Emporium kit. I really like the dollhouse kits because it’s easy to build them one piece at a time. Great for breaks between grading.

    18. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m about halfway through a knit cardigan (test knit). Then, I will be starting on a crochet throw (Sholach by Abi McIntyre). It’s a beautiful mosaic tree pattern. The designer said it was inspired by a tree farm in Scotland. Late next week, I’ll be starting a knit cardigan for a toddler family member (Baby Sweater Buffet pattern by Allyson Dykhuizen). I’ve made a few of these, and they all have turned out super cute. This time, I’m just going to do the hooded cardigan version with stripes.

    19. marvin*

      I’m just getting started on a complicated cable knit sweater and it’s intimidating! I usually avoid large projects but I’ve always wanted a sweater like this.

    20. Tau*

      I want to get an early start on knitting Christmas presents this year, which consist of two pairs of fingerless gloves and some ear flaps. One is going to be an adaptation of a hat pattern – I made the hat for my mother this Christmas and have yarn left over, now she wants gloves to go with it. The other is fairly flexible, but I’m tempted to adapt a pattern I found online – it’s a very pretty picture of a bird in a tree, but the bird is very… generic stylised bird… and both me and the giftee are somewhat into birding. I think it should be doable to turn it into a magpie instead; main thing I need to do is see if I can find suitable yarn, bc magpies have these metallic blue-green-purple wing and tail feathers and it’d be cool if I could mimic the effect a at least a little.

      We will not talk about the half-finished sweater. The sweater I put on hold for six months when I had no desire to knit. The sweater I wanted to pick up after Christmas only to find that moths had gotten into it while it was sitting there waiting. The sweater that is currently in my freezer to make sure all the eggs are dead before I look up how to fix holes in knitting. What are you talking about, I’ve never tried knitting a sweater, this is slander.

    21. Missb*

      I just pulled out an old flannel sheet that I’m cutting up to make reusable paper towels with. (Top sheet).

      I realized I have two sets of flannel sheets and if anything, I’d use the other set before this one. I’ve been eyeing some reusable flannel paper towels on Etsy.

      Hauling down the machine next weekend after the holiday guests leave.

    22. Forgotten name*

      I need a new knitting project! Does anyone have suggestions? Scarves/blankets are too repetitive, I am not skilled enough to do a sweater for myself, no one near me has a baby I could knit for, and everyone has all the hats they want. Would socks be more difficult than a sweater? I have made fingerless gloves before but not full-fingered gloves (which also no one needs) if that helps with gauging my (lack of) skill level..

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        I love knitting socks! If you’ve never knit socks before, the Crazy Sock Lady has a fantastic pattern for vanilla socks.

      2. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Some UK hospitals take dementia sleeves – knitted tubes that they put over the patients arm that has the cannula in and they have little things on them for the patients to twiddle and play with rather than the cannula. My mum has made over 400, and they’re simple (she says, I can’t knit!). Anything like that?

      3. curly sue*

        How about a cowl? I’m an advanced-beginner knitter myself and I did a ranger’s cowl (pattern off ravelry) which is a scarf/hood combination that I really love. My puffy winter coat doesn’t have a hood of its own, so I end up wearing the cowl a lot. It was more interesting / more of a challenge than a scarf, but I didn’t have to worry about fit the same way as with a sweater.

      4. Emma2*

        I tried to post this earlier but think my post failed – obviously you can decide what you are comfortable with, but a basic sweater does not take a significant amount of skill (obviously there are more complicated sweater patterns).
        I was going to suggest the PetiteKnit No Frills sweater, which I think is fairly straightforward – I see she rates it as 3/5 for complexity, but she has another pattern, the Novice Sweater that she rates as 1/5 for complexity (having knitted the No Frills sweater, I would not have put its complexity as high as the designer did, so I expect the Novice Sweater is very straightforward). PetiteKnit patterns are written very clearly so are easy to follow, and they are very popular so if you do have a question and post it on Ravelry you will almost certainly get an answer from someone else who has knit the same pattern.
        I think sweaters feel intimidating because they are large and very visible when you wear them, but once you actually knit one you will find that they are not particularly complex. I find socks a lot more fiddly (not that I am trying to discourage you from knitting socks) – the heels don’t tend to feel intuitive as you are knitting them, and can be slightly awkward to work, whereas with a sweater the knitting is generally intuitive (you can look at what you are doing and it seem logical), and you are working across larger spaces so it is less fiddly.
        The one thing with sweaters is that because they are large they do take a bit of time to knit so you generally cannot produce one as quickly as something like a hat or a cowl.

    23. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve been buying digital papers and clipart sets and using them to design, print, and cut my own planner stickers on the Silhouette. I had a a good time picking out my themes for each month and designing just the monthly calendar pages, and then throughout the year, as it gets closer to time, I’ll design the weekly pages to match each monthly theme.

    24. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      I have three cross stitches that I want to finish before February so I can start my next BIG one (birch forest in autumn, it looks gorgeous). And I’m currently making a toile pair of trousers to actually fit them to me – plan this year is to understand amending clothes patterns to properly fit me, not just sewing up what’s there. Eek!

    25. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Does tinkering count? I’m building an alarm clock for a teenager of the family who has a hard time getting up in the morning.
      15 minutes before time x, a LED stripe light will slowly dim up, reaching its full brightnessvat that time. Then music will start playing from an SD card.
      At t+15 minutes, three piezo electric horns salvaged from smoke detectors will turn on. As they have very slightly different frequencies, the interference patterns will likely wake Egyptian mummies.
      To turn it off, two buttons (in)conveniently located in the shower must be pressed (I left an expansion connector in the design to hook up a flow meter so that the shower must be running…)
      The alarm time can be programmed on a small web page from the phone.
      I had built something similar (sans LED stripe, MP3 music and web page) while at university when dinosaurs roamed the earth and said mummies were woken by irises calling. Nice to dig out the soldering iron again!

      1. Chapeau*

        Where can I get one of these? I may actually need 2, one for me and one for kiddo. Although we are really good at getting out the door in 20 minutes or less…

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          When it’s done, I’ll make the plans available. It’s not too difficult to build as it’s using only low voltage (safe to touch) and mostly complete modules available from Amazon or Aliexpress. The only discrete component is a FET to dim the LED stripe. The connection between the (battery powered) shut-off unit in the shower and the main unit is wireless, no need to run long wires.
          An alternative design of the shut-off is possible that does not need that piece of hardware: To turn it off, you’ll need to go on a website and prove you’re awake by solving a puzzle, like a math exercise (15*4+7=?).

    26. Random Dice*

      I took up zentangle doodles and then handlettering – now good enough to be satisfied with my progress – and I’m looking at 3D geometric string art or throwing pottery as my next craft.

  14. Warrior Princess Xena*

    Any suggestions in getting cats to acclimate to a new apartment?

    I’ve got quiet dark spaces, a Feliway diffuser, and a lot of my things (which smell like them) available, but they’ve spent the last two days circling the room and meowing. Will they chill with time or is there something I’m missing that will help?

    1. Aphrodite*

      They will. Right now, it’s all alarming but they will settle down. If you can spend a lot of time there being quiet (reading, watching non-loud television, playing board or card games, sitting on the sofa) that will help. You would be a source of comfort as they adjust.

    2. Not Australian*

      Is it a furnished apartment? Are they missing items they’re used to? Alternatively, is there the smell of another animal already in there, perhaps in the carpet, imperceptible to a human but evident to cats? I’ve dealt with both these scenarios in the past, albeit in the latter case by throwing out the carpet – maybe not something you can do if it’s part of the fixtures and fittings! Shampooing it might help, though.

      In any event they *will* settle down eventually, when they realise this is a permanent arrangement. You taking it all in your stride will give them the hint that there’s really nothing to worry about.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      It should resolve in the next couple weeks if you do nothing. Like humans, any big change needs time to adjust. After 3 days they will hopefully be calmer, after 3 weeks they will be used to the place, and in 3 months it will feel like home (for you too).

      If they are pacing then I’d suggest putting them in a smaller space like a washroom or bedroom for a few days. Cats are often over-stimulated by too many senses, so having them in a small room lets them adjust to the smells and sounds first. Once they’ve settled into that room, leave the door open for them to explore the sights. If they continue to pace, have them in the room with a closed door for part of the day.

      Hopefully they settle quickly!

    4. nobadcats*

      My kitty and I moved a year and a half ago from a 2-bed flat with a roomie and two other cats to our own 1-bed. She finally got her wish to be an only child! But the first few weeks were hard on her. Even though she wasn’t “friends” with her fellow cats in the old place, she was lonely. I had feliway diffusers in the living room and bedroom, made sure that the last sheets I packed were ones I slept on once, then packed so they would have both our scents on them. Kept her personal catbeds furry. She got a new poo-poo box and litter which took some getting used to.

      I tried to keep things calm and quiet. Since I work from home and took 10 days off for the move/unpacking, that was easy enough.

      After about a month, she settled in. She found the three windowsills she prefers (all southern light), and I placed her catbeds in them. She still hates the door buzzer/intercom and hides under the couch/my bed until the “danger” passes. The first night the rads kicked on in our apartment, she woke first, which woke me up, and we both lay very still and alert, “WHAT was that noise?!” Once I realized it was the tick-tick-tick of the steam and steel heating up, I relaxed and so did she, and we went back to sleep.

      Let your cat move at their own pace. Don’t drag them out of their hiding space, let them come out when they feel safe again.

      Stay calm and catnip on.

    5. 1LFTW*

      See if you can get them interested in playing with their favorite toy. It will give them some exercise, which is a great way to relieve stress, and it can make exploring a new space fun instead of scary. It’s really helped my high-strung kitty adapt to new spaces.

    6. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Allow your freshly disrobed clothes to sit in there with them for a day and do it again with newly disrobed clothes. Your smell will help comfort them.

  15. Mitchell Hundred*

    Drop what you’re currently reading here if you want.

    I just today started “A Marvellous Light” by Freya Marske. It’s a fantasy mystery set in Edwardian England, with a gay romance as the main dynamic.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m listening to “Perfect Little World” by Kevin Wilson on audiobook. Not sure how I feel about it yet, but that’s also how I felt about his book “Nothing to See Here” and I ended up really liking that one!

      I just finished re-reading Philip Pullman’s “Sally Lockhart” trilogy for the first time since I was a teen and… it did not hold up for me, haha. I re-read “His Dark Materials” every couple of years and still love it but the Sally books were not much like I remembered at all!

      1. Jackalope*

        What was different about the Sally Lockhart books? I liked them when I was a teen but also feel that they wouldn’t hold up, but I don’t remember enough to know what is giving me that impression.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          There’s just not much to them! For example I remember being really invested in the romance even though it wasn’t a huge part of the plot, and reading it now I’m like “wait, so they flirt a little in book one and then there’s a six year time jump and they… barely interact until the end of book two? why was I into this?” But it’s like that with everything – just a little less detail/mystery/depth to any given element than I expected.

          It’s funny because I still enjoyed the first book but found the sequels lackluster, and it also turns out that most of what I remembered was from the first book.

      2. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

        I read the Sally Lockhart books a few years ago and found them surprisingly, well, sexist in my opinion! I can’t remember now but I think it was all the descriptions of how lovely and young the heroine was, how ugly and old the female villain was, and also the fact that the male hero got the more active, heroic roles whenever the sh*t hit the fan.
        Tbh, I get a slightly, sliiiiiiightly weird-about-gender vibe from the Lyra books too, especially the later one where Pullman makes a few odd-feeling references to what her sex life is like.

        But loved the adventure!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the later sex-life references stem from a misreading of book 3 that assumed Lyra and Will “obviously” had off-page sex. Mentioned on a radio show and I, my husband, and my daughter were all like “HUH? How could you possibly think that?”

          I still find it a bizarre interpretation, but I think enough people told him that they thought he “obviously” hung the plot on deflowering a thirteen year old that he wanted to set the record straight.

        2. Random Dice*

          I’m atheist, but still found Pullman’s virulent anti-Christianity offputting in the Golden Compass series. It was the one thing that made it not a re-read.

    2. Jackalope*

      I just finished reading A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. I really enjoyed it. Her writing generally works for me, although I can’t binge her books. This one has a “surprise” twist at the end that I saw coming but it was pleasant enough that I didn’t mind. Would recommend.

    3. Owned By Cats*

      Just starting The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean. Summary of summary: Line of people for whom books are food and they retain contents after eating it. Boys eat stories of valour and adventure, girls get a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories. Protagonist discovers herself ill prepared for her son having a rare condition – he doesnt eat books, but minds.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m reading All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg (which may have been an Alison recommendation in the past?). I’m finding it very well written so far, so even though I expected it to be more plot-driven than it is, I’m enjoying it.

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Finished Lolly Willowes (which is so good) onto Sense and Sensibility, which I’ve somehow never read. I read Carol Shields’ literary biography of Austen last year and it inspired me.

    6. Not Australian*

      Up to my eyes in Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Sword of Honour’ trilogy, which I knew from the radio adaptation but had never tried reading before. Loving every minute of it!

    7. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

      Reading two –

      1. A Mure book by Jenny Colgan. If you’re into quality escapist romance, she’s your woman.

      2. Little Dorrit (Dickens), which I’m finding alternately boring and brilliant. He needed an editor, that man. So much waffling on! But then a passage or a chapter of genius gets you and you remember why he’s so influential and honoured. I’m glad I’m sticking with it.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Agree re editor for Dickens! It helps me to remember two things re Dickens:
        1. He got paid by the word, and
        2. His chapters came out in separate publications and—depending where you lived/how you got them—it could be months and months between your reading of those chapters. So some parts of the chapters actually work like the “Perviously in ” intros in todays shows.

        But yes, for the love of god, someone should have edited him once these separate chapters were put into a single publication!

        1. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

          Oh that’s so interesting. I knew sort of about the chapters, but not about the words!
          Now I wonder who else from “the olden days” was paid by the word… Wilkie Collins?

    8. Ellis Bell*

      The Golem and the Djinni by Helen Wecker. Set in early twentieth century New York it combines different cultural legends really well. I love that it’s a realistic setting yet still a high flown fantasy (I don’t like being dropped into a ren fair, but I also want the magic to start happening pretty soon). The metaphors of their feeling like fish out of water in this new country (particularly the Golem, who doesn’t remember her origins) gives it a lovely depth. Also, the logistics of having to hide who they are!

      1. AY*

        This is a wonderful book! I hope you enjoy it and move on to the sequel, which brings in some new characters (to varying degrees of success).

        This is the precise amount of magic I like in my fantasy novels–just a gloss on our world. Emily St. John Mandel is also in this sweet spot for me.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Currently working on a reread of the Dark Tower series as my bedtime reading and a listen to the audiobook of The Stand for my crafting time – both long time favorites. (I have two Dark Tower tattoos.)

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      I just finished Bewilderment by Richard Powers. It was tragic and beautiful, and I fully intend to read it again.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Just finished Babel by RF Kuang, which was very good. Set mostly in Oxford around the time of the Opium Wars, with a magic based on the subtleties of translation tied into the history of colonialism. Really well done, though a bit darker than I expected.

      Previously read Recursion by Blake Crouch, which I highly recommend. A small but growing number of people start to experience False Memory Syndrome, in which they are flooded with memories of an alternate life–if they’d done something differently 1 or 5 or 20 years ago, this is what could have happened. Why is it happening? What does not being able to believe your memory do to society?

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        Finished it late last night/early this morning during a bout of sleeplessness. Though the betrayal and the climax were somewhat predictable, the buildup to them were particularly well done. I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as a translator.

        On a more personal note, the mention in passing of the Chartists’ support for the main action at the end of the book made me smile a bit as I imagined my Chartist 3x great-grandfather vociferously voting “aye”.

    12. Lemonwhirl*

      Decided that each month this year, I am going to read books on a different theme. This month’s theme is amusement parks.
      This week, I’ve read
      – “Wonderland” by Jennifer Hilliard – good twisty mystery/thriller
      – “Bennyland” by Matt Carter – ghost/horror story that was kind of meh

      And today, I’m starting “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury, which I’ve never read.

      Would love to hear recommendations for my theme (although I’ve already read “Fantasticland”, “Joyland”, “Hide”, and “Hot Dog Girl”). Also open to suggestions for future themes.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I don’t know of any books on theme parks, but an interesting theme might be revisionist takes on famous stories. Like “Paradise Lost” or Jacqueline Carey’s “The Sundering.”

      2. Jessica*

        What a delightful idea this is! I hope you will keep posting about it on the saturday reading threads, because now I am dying to know what the other themes will be.

      3. Jackalope*

        I enjoyed Palisades Park by Alan Brennert. I learned a lot about the super high diving and found it very interesting (I like his other stuff as well). The main characters work in a theme park and there’s a lot of fun stuff about the carnie lifestyle.

        There’s also The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, although that’s not exactly an amusement park. I enjoyed it a lot but it’s one of those that people either really like or really don’t gel with. I’m guessing you’ve heard of this book, so judge based on that.

      4. SirReadsALot*

        The Getaway by Lamar Giles is a great thriller about teen workers at a disney like amusement park when society suddenly crumbles.

    13. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Just finished “The Kaiju Preservation Society” by John Scalzi which was so.much.fun. Not sure what I’m starting next.

    14. GoryDetails*

      Several good ones in my recent/current reading:

      Black Tide by KC Jones, a horror novel told from the viewpoints of two people – each with some pretty heavy issues – who’ve met by chance on the eve of an extraterrestrial invasion; things get pretty grisly when they’re trapped in their car at a beach where terrifying Things are attacking out of nowhere…

      A memoir-in-manga-form: I’m a Terminal Cancer Patient, But I’m Fine by Hilnama, a 38-year-old erotic-manga artist, who draws herself and her husband as rabbits while describing her experiences dealing with advanced colon cancer. This one’s an impressive mix of medical information (vetted by a couple of doctors, as she notes in the text) and charming/touching personal scenes, with some very explicit descriptions of medical procedures.

      A graphic novel: Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith, about four women who are friends, confidants – and sometimes each other’s hair-care providers; there are lengthy, often wordless – sequences illustrating the careful washing, annointing, braiding or weaving of their hair. They’re all women of color, living in the Bronx; one is gay, two are roommates, one suffers from depression, one is juggling romantic partners, and they all demonstrate excellent, supportive friendships.

      Dead Water by C. A. Fletcher is an atmospheric horror novel set on a remote Scottish island, where the uncovering of a grisly artifact kicks off an ancient curse. It unfolds via different character viewpoints, from bereaved locals coping as best they can with personal tragedies to disturbing visitors from off-island with questionable motives of their own. Seems to be set in the fall – lots of stormy weather but it’s not freezing yet. (Despite the growing horror, there are descriptions of one character’s house, built with huge windows overlooking the rocky coast and crashing waves, that makes me long to be sitting there with some tea and a book and a cat, safe inside as the storms rage… I could do without the creepy anger-infused undead, though!)

    15. Anonymous cat*

      Fire and Blood by George RR Martin.

      I liked the House of Dragon tv series so I wanted to find out what else happened.

    16. LB33*

      I’ve read the following in the last few weeks, all of which I’d rank at least 4 out of 5 stars:

      Case Study – Graeme Macrae Burne
      The Complicities – Stacey D’Erasmo
      Twist of a Knife – Anthony Horowitz

    17. Bluebell*

      I finally read Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, and it was excellent. Strong characters, and lots of complicated family dynamics. Also finished The Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor, which starts with a car crash, then goes back to trace the lives of the characters. Takes place in Delhi in 2006ish with lots of different powerful families trying to best each other. For fluff, I read Josie Silvers’s One Night on the Island.

    18. marvin*

      I just finished reading We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth, which is a novel about a woman who works at a game design company and gets subjected to an online harassment campaign after speaking out about getting sexually harassed at work. That description probably makes it sound like a downer, and it is quite disturbing in places, but the format of the story is very interesting and readable–it’s mostly told from the perspective of a group of reddit commenters who are surveilling the main character, it has a lot of suspense, and it’s also really funny in places. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to think about online spaces and community norms and how groups of people can get radicalized.

    19. I take tea*

      I finally got around to reading The House in the Cerulean Sea, which has been recommend here several times. It was just as feel-good as promised, without being pure fluff, because it deals with serious things. I loved the hero, pudgy, timid, but with strong ethics. Thank you all for the recommendation.

    20. Veronica Mars*

      About halfway through Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, for my book club. It’s about an octopus in an aquarium who helps the cleaning lady solve a mystery. It’s as delightful and charming as that summary suggests. It also does deal with sad subjects (the mystery is about the death of her son, years ago). I’m enjoying it so far and curious to hear what my book club thinks.

      1. A Little Bit Alexis*

        I’m about to start this for my book club, we discuss the last week of January. I’ve read enough glowing reviews that I bought the book instead of renting it from the library, which is what I usually do. I’m glad to hear someone else is enjoying it!

    21. Random Dice*

      Girl in Space! It’s a podcast on Apple, but it’s really more of an audio play, a la old time radio. Funny, endearing, science and sci-fi, with a central mystery that unfolds slowly.

      I just finished Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots. It was light and fluffy and funny, with a deeper philosophy underneath.

      Murderbot continues to be my feel-good series, incongruous as that is given the title.

      The Penric & Desdemona series by Bujold is another feel-good favorite full of decent people striving to do good, that I return to over and over.

  16. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Everyone share what you’ve been playing lately! As always, any games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’ve hopefully just finished my last grinding session for Fire Emblem Three Hopes. All of my supports have been obtained (or at least all of the supports with videos), and I just got my last person leveled up all the way in her class. I was going to try to finish the game tonight since the only battle I have left is the final one, but the Switch battery was about to die and someone else is using the tv so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

    1. sewsandreads*

      My partner bought me this Shakespearean board game and we keep MEANING to play it and haven’t gotten round to it. Brb, I’m pulling it out of the cupboard now and seeing how it goes!

    2. anon7557*

      “Just One” is a very easy game to play with 3 or more and we all enjoyed it. “A little wordy” is a word game for 2. I think it’ll be fine but the stiff coated cardboard that you can supposedly write on with a marker and then erase is horrible. You can’t erase. So we’ll either have to get pads of paper or buy marker boards that are erasable. Anyone know if they make pretty small boards like this?

      1. MW Mgr*

        You can get them as small as a name badge on Amazon. Not sure how small you need them, but they do come in lots of sizes.

    3. Anonymath*

      I’m in recovery from the flu and when I’m sick I always go back to Stardew Valley. For anyone here who plays it on ios or android, Concerned Ape says the newest version (1.5) should now be available to download!

    4. Jackalope*

      Follow-up – I just finished my play through! For those of you who have played Three Houses, the end was a bit of a letdown in comparison, but it was still fun to make it all the way through. Next up I’ll try a different house, or maybe consider branching out from Fire Emblem, but this was a fun run.

    5. MEH Squared*

      I’m back to Dark Souls III (FromSoft), which is my favorite game of all times. I just found out that Kitfox Games stealth-dropped DLC for Boyfriend Dungeon in August of last year so I’ll probably play that tomorrow (later on today, really).

    6. I take tea*

      I spent a couple of hours new year’s eve playing the board game Azul with my inlaws, it was quite nice. It’s a good game, very tactile, because you have physical bricks of some weight to play with, and it looks pretty. It needs some amount of planning, but not too much, which suits me, I’m not big on tactics.

      1. Reba*

        I love Azul!!! I enjoy working my little personal board and that the competition is very low key, lol.

        Another game that could have similar vibes but doesn’t quite work for me is Wingspan (a disappointment especially because I bought it for a bunch of people as gifts when it came out!). Over the holidays we played with my in-laws and experimented with some house rules to improve the experience, so that was fun to try things.

        1. Morrigan Crow*

          I keep looking at Azul – but then thinking that it won’t work for my severely color-blind son. What do you think?

          1. Reba*

            Most of the tiles have fairly high-contrast patterns. The solid ones are vermilion red and blue. The publisher, Plan B Games, sells extra “collector’s tiles” in other patterns, so you could replace one of the solids with another unique pattern, sketch it in on the corresponding board spots, and it would work beautifully that way!

      2. CheerfulGinger*

        I debated between Azul and Everdell at the store. Went with Everdell, haven’t tried it yet, but now I might need to get Azul, too!

  17. Wednesday*

    I’m wondering if anyone else, especially those with ADHD/neurodivergencies, can weigh in on benefits that they’ve seen from minimalism (or just paring down your stuff in a dramatic way, if you don’t consider yourself a minimalist).

    I have found that, especially as I get older, I literally forget things exist if I can’t see them anymore. I believe this is due to my ADHD. For instance, I have five bottles of HP sauce in my cabinet that all expire in the next two months. I’m going to donate four because there’s no way I’ll get to them. Not to mention the bag of clothes under my bed, that I distinctly remember being unable to part with, sentimentally attached to, etc. a year ago. I pulled it out and couldn’t name a single item without looking in the bag, and then saved literally two sentimental t-shirts out of it. If I don’t forget about things I’m more easily annoyed by them and how much management and maintenance they require, and I’m trying to gradually pare down. If I could wave a magic wand and have of my stuff would be gone, I’d probably do it.

    1. Mirin*

      yup! when I’m at home I get regular scoldings because food that only I eat expires – because our fridge is so full that the food is buried beneath other food. When I’m on my own things rarely go bad because I can see everything at one glance.

    2. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

      I’m neurodivergent and I have a huge, fairly constant urge to declutter. And I do, often, but my home is still always cluttered…? I’m coming reluctantly to the conclusion that TIDYING, not decluttering, is the answer. Ugh!

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I used to put this down to my ADHD too, but this is actually most people according to Marie Kondo. She’s obviously terrifyingly well organised but every time she’s experimented with keeping stuff from being easy to view, she forgets about it. If you think about human history, we’ve never had as much stuff as we do now. Those few that did, also had a retinue of staff to keep track of it and care for it.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        AFAIK I am neurotypical and Marie Kondo kind of drives me up the wall, but her method for folding things in drawers has changed my life. She folds things so they stand up (can’t explain it – look for the YouTube video) which means that instead of piles of shirts and pants which don’t stay folded anyway and which lead me to forget about the ones on the bottom, I have rows of each in my drawer and I can see everything. I wear more of what I have and I am also more likely to get rid of things I haven’t worn since they gradually work their way to the back of the drawer. I tend to put laundry away in the front, so the more recently worn things are in front and if I look at the back I can see that I’m not wearing those shirts and I’m probably not going to wear them.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Yes! I have to fold clothes in a way that all of them are visible all the time or I completely forget they’re there. I parked down my closet to where I open one cabinet and all my sweaters and long sleeves are there. Another one has all jeans and leggings and sweatpants. Fancy clothes are hanging up. All I have to do is open that drawer for ‘tops’ and that one for ‘bottoms’ and I kind of dress myself from there. Is that an option for you?

      I could never imagine deciding on an outfit from memory.

      1. Wednesday*

        Unfortunately it isn’t right at this moment, as my weight fluctuates. I’m trying to slowly lose and get back down to the smallest size I was, but there isn’t enough room to hang all my clothes in my closet. I have about 20 pieces that are in storage that I don’t fit into at the moment. I don’t own a dresser, since I found that folding things doesn’t work for me and they need to be visible and hanging up.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Yes, I’m exactly the same. Also, now in the later part of middle age, I’ve finally realized that I might not be inherently messy and disorganized. I think part of my ADD is tuning out distractions. I always knew that included auditory distractions – I don’t even hear things like car sirens and loud noises when I’m working – but lately I’ve realized that includes visual clutter as well. When there’s a lot of *stuff* in my line of sight, I just stop seeing any of it. It becomes one big background blur.

      When I’m able to pare down my tchotchkes, art, throw pillows, etc. I am much more able to see mess and to clean it up. And when I have fewer things in my cabinets and drawers, it’s easier to slot something back where it belongs. If my storage spaces are a big jumble, I’m less likely to put stuff into them.

    6. PoolLounger*

      I don’t have adhd, but I’m the same. I think it’s pretty common. I’ve tried to pare down clothes so that I can easily see all of them when I open the closet/drawers. I keep craft supplies neatly organized on open shelves. Food is on open shelves and in clear bins. If things are out and easily accessible they get used more.

    7. What Is Sleep Even*

      Oh yes. I reorganized my pantry by expiration date rather than type recently – things dated this year or next get prime shelf space. I have bins for 2024 and 2025+ – I’ll pull from those if I need something in particular, and then rotate them in as the time approaches.

      I’ve previously done my wardrobe (333 project, then work uniform) and general decluttering/minimizing. So much of my stuff is actually unfinished projects/work of some kind or other. (Some of the work is ‘put that thing back where it belongs’, but that is still work.)

      Minimalism is not my decorating style, but I’d rather not look around and see a to-do list, and for me that means keeping much less stuff overall. (FWIW, autism spectrum but not adhd best I can tell.)

    8. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      Me too.
      All of this. Working hard to pare down, but it’s hard because I have a little kid who is also neurodivergent (i.e. I love her fiercely but it takes a lot of energy to parent her) and needs lots of stuff, like kids do.
      I also fall in the trap of thinking a gadget will solve a problem, buy stuff, feel claustrophobic, get rid of stuff, sometimes end up missing the stuff after all…
      And my partner was raised by frugal people with lots of storage space, so he’s not on board for a major declutter.
      I wish I had a solution, but I love hearing that I am not alone.

    9. Flowers*

      ADHD here. I also have a shopping addiction/problem. I have a lot of stuff and find myself annoyed by maintaining it. But at the same time, I like having choices and options so I could never be a full minimalist. I could never carry a small bag anywhere, at minimum I have to have a purse and an extra bag on a regular basis.

      I’ve tried to mitigate this by periodically going through my stuff, taking pictures and actually writing/typing out what’s in each bag/container.

    10. Random Dice*

      You might like YouTube’s “How to ADHD” house tour. She talks about all of that stuff and how she compensates for ADHD brain wiring, in a positive frank way.

      Also you might like ADDitude magazine, tons of articles that I’ve found super helpful.

  18. Your Computer Guy*

    Plant talk?
    We’ve had a run of warmer weather (New England), so I’m getting some houseplant repotting done that I thought I was going to have to wait for spring for.
    Just ordered seeds for the spring/summer, we’re back to doing all our own starts for vegetables and we’re trying a lot more flowers.
    And the terrarium thing I ordered for some of my little orchids arrived today. I like it so much I’m already trying to figure out if I could fit in another one somewhere. (The answer is not really, but that’s not stopping me from browsing.)

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Both my potted monsteras (one huge indoor one and a smaller outdoor one) have decided to throw simultaneous tantrums and are now giving me rotting new growth and big brown splotches on some of their leaves. No major watering, light, temperature or fertiliser changes, they’re both in separate areas and all the plants around them are perfectly happy. So wth is their problem?! Anyone else had something similar happen like that out of the blue?

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        I feel like seasonal changes often anger plants that were otherwise happy (but I live in New England, so big changes with the seasons). A couple of winters ago I had a red prayer plant just give up after a year or so of thriving. For that one, at least, I saved a couple of it’s corms and they’ve finally produced a new stalk/leaves. So at least I learned something new.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Huh, I didn’t think of that since I live in the ideal climate for monstera. But we did have an abnormally long, cold winter followed by a cold start to summer (for here). Last week was the first time we actually had a few days in a row of sustained normal subtropical summer heat with temps staying warm overnight. Maybe you’re right and they got a bit of a shock!

    2. fposte*

      We had a couple of ridiculously warm days last week and I seriously considered taking my shovel to a few of the volunteer yuccas. (I try to cut down the flower stalks on the official ones before they seed but don’t always get to it, and they are annoyingly generous.)

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        I like “annoyingly generous”, both back and front yards are full of similarly generous black-eyed Susans, but pollinators and birds seem to love them so I’m making my peace with them.

    3. Bobina*

      I recently moved and now have a garden which is very exciting but will need a lot of work (previous owner had it as a low maintenance gravel thing which I’ll want to clear and plant all the things in). The soil for most of it also appears to be a ridiculously heavy clay so that should be an interesting adventure.

      But the answer really is trying to be patient and do my planning. Need to buy some equipment and plan to cut down a bamboo plant thats there now that looks incredibly blah.

      Adventures in trying to grow ginger indoors continue but it looks like I’ve killed the latest two attempts so might try again in the spring. And looks like my peace lily is also dead (moving might have been a bit of a shock for it) so will dig out the rhizome and let it try again in the spring!

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        I have also been trying and mostly failing with ginger. I’m currently having some luck with tumeric (got both fairly fresh from our farm box this summer). I just repotted the tumeric today, and realized that it had rooted/oriented itself more horizontal than I had ever really thought to (I had it in pretty loose soil). So now I’ve set my latest piece of ginger totally flat rather than stabbing it down into the pot. Fingers crossed!
        Our soil is also largely clay, my wife started redoing the beds in front of the house this summer and added large amounts of both bagged soil and peat. So much digging.

    4. WellRed*

      I bought a small bromeliad last week at the drugstore. Anyone have advice on caring for it. I’m sure it was neglected on the CVS shelf. Leaves are a bit of a mess

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        Good for you for taking a sad drug store plant! Bromeliads like humidity, so they do well in bathrooms or you can put the pot on a dish filled with pebbles and pour water over the pebbles. It will probably eventually want new, lighter media/soil – I use a mix of cactus soil and orchid bark for my pineapple plant, which is bromeliad-ajacent. But give it at least a couple of months to recover from all of its life changes.

    5. Squawkberries*

      My orchid is putting out a bloom stalk this winter. I’m so happy ! A while back, I’d had a plant that lived/bloomed for almost a decade before it was killed… I’d gone through multiple other plants tbat didnt survive one season.

      Im horrible with other houseplants though.

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        My plant knowledge has come at the expense of dozens of plant lives, so maybe you just haven’t found your plant niche yet (for example, I cannot keep ferns alive).
        Orchids blooming are so great! I’ve got a phal that we nursed along for a long time, it had been abandoned in a windowless office and was down to one leaf. It kept going, one leaf at a time for about eight years. Three years ago it started putting on more leaves, now it’s the biggest and produces these amazing light purple flowers. It’s starting a new stalk and I’m so happy for it.

  19. The Prettiest Curse*

    The recent Southwest debacle got me thinking – have you ever sworn not to use a business again, and did you keep to it? (No judgement if you didn’t, since there’s sometimes only one good option due to cost, logistics or other reasons.)

    I once had a really bad experience with Delta after a flight that was diverted from Heathrow to Manchester due to snow. The weather wasn’t their fault, but the abysmal customer service certainly was. After I spent the voucher they gave me as compensation, I’ve never used them since and never will, unless there is absolutely no alternative.

    1. Pentapus*

      Amazon. A 2 month nightmare trying to get reimbursed for a wrong item they sent. What made me drop them was a year later I was trying to buy things for the kids college dorm, and it was impossible to buy the things without signing up for prime, “but you can cancel prime within a month” the fine print said (the fine print also said they would reinstate prime if I made another purchase within several weeks). I cancelled the purchase, cancelled prime, haven’t used since. Lots of news stories popping up where I live about how they are refusing to refund purchases delivered to the wrong address or with an empty box.

      1. Jamie Starr*

        Amazon for me, too. It had to do with a refund snafu probably 14-15 years ago. Since then I think I’ve purchased maybe 4 items from Amazon and only because I couldn’t find them elsewhere.

        It’s really not that difficult to *not* buy from Amazon. People are just conditioned to want immediate gratification (next day delivery).

        Also – Duracell batteries. Many, many years ago they had a commercial that I found insulting to the industry I work in. Haven’t purchased a Duracell battery since.

        1. philmar*

          This is funny to me because I also don’t use Amazon BECAUSE of instant gratification. When I want something, I’d rather get it at the store right now than wait until it ships. But I also haven’t lived somewhere that accommodates next-day delivery in about 5 years.

      2. HBJ*

        We dropped Prime when the item still hadn’t shipped within the window for delivery with their promised free shipping. Not we hadn’t received it; it hadn’t even SHIPPED. So what were we paying for? We don’t watch much TV, and anything we wanted to watch, they never had without paying extra anyway. We still use Amazon, but it’s really not that hard to just wait until we’ve met the minimum for free shipping to order items.

    2. Your Computer Guy*

      As a freshman in college I was treated so poorly at an H&R Block that I walked out and have done my own taxes ever since.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s one of mine, with a twist. I used H&R Block online to file one year instead of TurboTax, and when I paid extra for a “professional” answer to a question about a child educational tax credit, they gave me exactly the wrong answer, as it didn’t sit right with me and I wound up doing hours more research and definitively proving they gave the wrong answer. I had to file an amended return, which got me a bigger refund. H&R refunded the fee for the question and all my other filing fees for that tax year, but it really soured me on them.

    3. Aphrodite*

      Continental Airlines. I swore off them in the late 70s or early 80s. Kept my promise too.

      Walmart/Sam’s Club/any related companies or companies owned by them. Never been, never will be. I hate their abusive employee policies so much.

      Disney. I view this as a cult that is so well disguised it is beyond dangerous. Many people love the company, movies, media, cruises and amusement parks so much and never question anything they do. Their legal reach and PR is almost unbelievable. The most vicious facade I think I know of. I haven’t been since I was a child.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Co-sign WalMart. Haven’t bought anything from them since the day after my kid was born when they were the only option for necessities in a blizzard. She’s 23. Have never been to Sam’s Club and don’t plan to go. Stopped using Modcloth when WalMart bought them.

        Newark Airport isn’t a business per se. I had a horrendous experience there 20 years ago and swore I’d never go back. Finally had to last spring because they were the only way to make a travel day less than 24 hours. Confirmed that I would strongly prefer to never set foot there again. Absolutely awful.

        1. FisherCat*

          Walmart bought modcloth??

          That explains some things for me. I loved some modcloth things I bought years ago that had lasted pretty well, so I did a few orders in 2020-2021 and the quality was quite poor and the sizing very inconsistent.

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            I read that a few year ago and to be honest never looked again. I just found a piece from 2019 that said WalMart was selling it…sounds like your experience was after that, though.

          2. mreasy*

            Modcloth is no longer owned by Walmart, but I will say that even before the purchase their quality was wildly inconsistent (enough good that I will still risk it, though).

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I don’t care much for the actual Disney products, but they own MCU and Star Wars which I enjoy very much. And Pixar.
        They also own ABC, Touchstone Pictures, Vice Media, The National Geographic, History Channel*, A&E*, ESPN,
        *major stakes

      3. Ima Goodlady*

        Disney has a frightening amount of political power in Florida. It’s mind-boggling how much influence a non-elected corporate entity has, and nobody really knows about it.

        1. IT Manager*

          The DeSantis vs Disney wars recently are very interesting. No good guys to root for but fascinating to see all the power dynamics!

          1. Ima Goodlady*

            I think that was the first time a lot of people saw what was really going and I totally agree it’s fascinating!

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I wish I could do this with airlines, but now and then Ryanair is the only option and can’t be avoided. I had a nightmare diversion experience too, and no compensation, and I’m still salty, but had to use them again since (last trip was fine and uneventful).

      The other brand I can think of is Wayfair. They lost our dining table and left us waiting weeks with next to no customer service, then when it arrived, the colour didn’t really match the pictures. I had to order another small item shortly afterwards, which was fine, but have managed to avoid them since (their pricing also looks very dodgy to me).

    5. StellaBella*

      Yes. United airlines for losing my luggage once in the 90s and never getting it back. Any business that discriminates against LGBTQI people or contributes politically to causes against them, against women’s health care, and orgs that donate to causes at the opposite of my belief spectrum. I try to research before buying stuff to make sure I do not contribute to businesses like this. Also, locally there is a halotherapy room – went once last year to try it. The owner, at the end of my visit, gave me a load of anti-reality crap on vaccines, covid, etc so will not go back there ever and told three friends about it too.

      1. AGD*

        I’ve also been avoiding United – I noticed a few years ago that almost all of my really physically uncomfortable experiences on planes (as in “pretty much my entire body hurts now, please let me off”) had been with them.

        Delta as well, for their horrible condescending union-busting attempts.

        Zara for what was either improbable cluelessness or deliberate antisemitism, my local music store and a bar for overtly racist behavior toward customers, the health food store at the big shopping plaza for aggressively trying to convince me that my chronic conditions “just needed the right diet” to magically go away forever (nooooooooope, you are wasting my time and endangering my health), and Nestle and Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A.

        I hate Wal-Mart and hate myself when I go there. I need to find a better source of a few small but essential things I can’t find anywhere else.

        1. AGD*

          Oh, and “fast fashion” retailers. I do not go into H&M, Forever 21, etc., and don’t buy their stuff from thrift stores either. I want my clothes to last, and I don’t enjoy hearing the environment screaming.

          1. Epsilon Delta*

            Any recommendations for where one can buy clothes that aren’t fast fashion? I would love to swear off fast fashion too, and I do make use of the thrift stores near me, but I’ve struggled to find an alternative when they don’t have what I’m looking for at the thrift stores.

            1. AGD*

              I rotate through a bunch of thrift stores and online equivalents (Depop, Poshmark, thredUP, sometimes eBay if I want something really specific). And sometimes higher-end mall stores and department stores, especially for formalwear.

            2. Random Dice*

              I love ThredUp – and I bought a killer high end purse from them by cleaning out my closet.

              1. Rosemary*

                I hate ThredUp – they are a company I will never, ever use again. I sent in two “clean out” bags in June; it was supposed to be processed in ~3-4 weeks. It did not get processed until DECEMBER. I had included mostly summer items – as they say things sell better in season. Needless to say, people weren’t buying a lot of sundresses, shorts and swimsuits (many new with tags!) in December.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        I have quilting friends who just don’t understand why I won’t shop at Hobby Lobby. It’s the very name of a major Supreme Court decision against women’s healthcare, but prices!
        And by what I’ve seen, the quality isn’t good even at that price point, but I’d never insult my friends’ work by pointing that out.

        1. ThatGirl*

          They also literally stole ancient priceless artifacts. They are anti-worker. They are all around terrible.

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I do my best to avoid Nestle products- every few years I have to review what they own, because they’re everywhere- that is my longest boycott.

      Much pettier, I avoid stores which don’t clearly label their prices, and will straight up never darken their doors again as it makes me so mad! There is a local eco friendly boutique which has nice stuff but it annoys me all out of proportion that they don’t have prices on, like, a pack of socks. Maybe they ate trying to save on materials, I dunno.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, I hate stores that don’t have prices too! If you don’t put a price on it, I can’t make an informed decision about whether or not I want to buy it. I’m not going to go around asking random staff the price, it’s a waste of my time and theirs too.

      2. Enough*

        I don’t know about all state’s laws but in PA all items must be priced. Either on the product or on the shelf/display they are on. I have pointed this out at my grocery store.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t go to Walmart/Sam’s Club, Chik-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby and I won’t consider American Family Insurance.

      I was using them when I got divorced and I asked the agent to take my ex-husband off my policy, because the only car listed on it was in my name only and he no longer lived in my house. They told me no problem, when they probably should have told me they couldn’t until we were divorced, and then not only did they not do it, the same agent added his new car to my insurance policy without telling me until I got the bill and a notice that a year’s premium was being deducted from my account. I was on the phone changing insurance companies before I even got from the mailbox back to my apartment and I won’t have anything to do with them anymore. (I get that they have to do things a certain way with folks who are still technically married, it was the lying and whatnot that got to me. He was only listed on the policy as an incidental driver, and should not have had authority to make any changes.)

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Macy’s. When I tried to set up a bridal registry (30 years ago!) the sales clerks were so snotty that I walked out and have never been back. It turns out there’s nothing they sell that I can’t buy elsewhere.
      I also won’t patronize any business that discriminates against minorities or LGBTQ and I try to support small local businesses as much as possible. I’m happy to help my neighbor pay for their kids’ college, DGAF about the Waltons.

    9. Snow Globe*

      Comcast. I have typically switched cable/internet providers every few years to get the lower introductory offers, and will generally circle back around to the ones I’ve used before, but will never again go back to Comcast. After switching service and sending back my equipment (which I double checked with a checklist before sending), they continued billing me, claiming there was one box missing (they refused to stop billing me for monthly service because of one cable box, which even if it wasn’t returned was less than my monthly bill). I spent a couple of months making calls to customer service, each time at least 1 hour on hold, before being switched to a different department and being put on hold again. Each time the person told me it was fixed, only for charges to pop up on my bill again the following month. It took about 4 months and many escalations before I was finally told that they had found the “missing” equipment in the warehouse. Whoever unpacked it, neglected to scan it.

      1. trixie belle*

        Lol Comcast is the worst. If they managed to corner the world’s supply of oxygen, I’d willingly suffocate rather than pay them one cent.

    10. Been there*

      I’ve been refusing to fly RyanAir for probably 10 years now. I had a really bad experience on top of their really shady business practices.

    11. Stitch*

      FedEx. I can’t avoid getting stuff shipped from them but I will never use them to ship again. They lost my nephew’s birthday present, found it and asked ME to pay to have it shipped from the random state they found it in to my brother’s house.

      Nope. Done.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I’ve lived two different places that my house was the only one on my side of the road, and FedEx couldn’t find either one.

    12. I'm Done*

      Pottery Barn which most definitely lost me as a customer after first delivering a defective sectional, then trying to convince me that I should do my own repair with parts they would send me, finally delivering a replacement that was soiled all over, then ordering another replacement that they were unable to deliver since the line was apparently discontinued, not notifying me that they couldn’t deliver (I had to call them because they didn’t deliver by the indicated date) and promising me a refund check that has yet to arrive. The sectional was purchased 17 months ago. And they managed to damage our front door when they did the first exchange. Worst customer service ever.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      Samsung. Appliances, devices, etc.
      Vindicated me once again recently, with the news of exploding washing machines, yet again.
      Conn’s Electronics. Hands down worst electronics store.

    14. California Dreamin’*

      Rite Aid. I had a problem with them getting my birth control pills filled on time maybe 25 or 30 years ago, and I switched to CVS in a rage and have never been back in a Rite Aid. I’m not really even mad at them anymore… I just don’t think to go there at this point!

    15. WellRed*

      I got a gift card to a local well known spa and booked an appt for a facial. The worker came into the room and without even looking at my skin IMMEDIATELY started trying to upswell me on a package of six treatments.

    16. Pamela Adams*

      I still refuse to use several large grocery chains after their attempts at union-busting over 20 years ago.

    17. carcinization*

      I got fairly upset at a regional ice cream chain, Blue Bell, several years ago because they had/caused some pretty serious listeria outbreaks. Prior to that we bought their stuff at the grocery store on occasion, etc., but after they started production again we quit doing that. We don’t buy their product anymore at all whether it’s in a store, restaurant, etc., but if my work is making root beer floats as an employee reward, or if my friend is serving it with pie or whatever, I still might eat it.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes! And people were so mad that the ice cream had been pulled from the shelves. There was at least one death from that outbreak, I think. And yet people were cranky that they couldn’t get Cookies and Cream?

    18. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Wells Fargo. Their customer service is consistently dreadful and I just do not have the patience to deal with them.

      1. Observer**

        I was SO glad to get my mother off their services a few years ago. Their customer service is not just terrible. They take both the concept of “dark patterns” and aggressively bad customer service to extraordinary heights – and it’s clearly in the service of trapping people into paying more money for things they don’t want, don’t need or are the company’s fault.

        Look at every one of their scandals and legal issues. Why gets fired an penalized? 90+% of it is the lowest level staff who have the least power in the whole mess – and who are generally pretty much following orders on pain of losing their jobs.

        I can’t say that I was terribly surprised to see a new piece to day that a WF VP got fired for literally peeing on another airline passenger. When you have people like that at the top, you don’t get decency from management.

    19. Manders*

      Delta also for me. I got stuck for 3 nights in Salt Lake City in December on an unexpected layover, with Delta having no clue where my luggage was. The customer service was beyond awful, and I got a very ridiculous voucher when I complained to the company. But fast forward about 15 years and they were the only practical airline to fly from the US to South Africa (paid for by work). Atlanta to Johannesburg, nonstop. Absolutely terrible seats and food, but a direct flight.

    20. Anon, colleagues will recognize it*

      Duke University emergency room. My son had a vascular port. Got a high fever, off to the ER. He was being treated at Duke, so the oncologist said to take him to Duke ER in this situation. (The nurses said don’t, and if you do here’s what you need to insist on re his treatment.). We waited a loooonng time. It was a scary place for a small very sick boy. Finally get seen, we show them the nurse’s instructions, they argued with us, we insisted, they finally got the oncologist on the phone, followed the nurses’ instructions.

      They screwed up the billing afterward too.

      Never again. A good place if you have a gunshot wound. Otherwise, stay the hell away.

      Never been back. We’ve been to a lot of ERs. Not that one.

    21. xl*

      Chick-Fil-A due to their previous public stance on LGBTQ issues.

      They’re free to personally have those stances, but when they intertwine it with the business, I’m not going to spend any money there.

    22. Italian*

      I haven’t bought Barilla pasta since 2013 because of their CEO’s comments on gay people.

    23. Me Online*

      Catholic hospitals.

      Getting quite tricky to find a non-catholic hospital these days, which is concerning. I want my care decided by doctors, not clergy.

    24. MeetMoot*

      I don’t touch Amazon and I specifically request people don’t purchase gifts for me from Amazon. I also don’t buy Nestlé which suuucks cause I love Smarties and Milo but that company is like evil incarnate.
      Also avoid fast fashion as much as possible (never shopping at Primark or Shein or Zara, but once or twice a year I will cave and go to H&M).

      1. nom de plume*

        Also don’t touch Amazon; haven’t shopped there in at least eight or ten years. It’s interesting to me that people pointed to bad customer service experiences, above. For me, it’s been their appalling, abusive labor practices, all of which have been known for years and have been borne out ever since.

        No way am I helping an a-hole like Bezos get richer.

    25. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Pro tip: If you fly from/to Europe, choose an EU airline. They have to stand up to their promises.
      Weather is not their fault so the just have to provide you with transportation, a hotel and food as needed; pretty much anything else (cancelations, mechanicals, not enough pilots…) they owe you a “penalty” of 200 to 600 Euros on top.
      I recently had a 1.5-hour wait at security in Frankfurt, making me miss my connection with a total delay of 4.5 hours (on a long trip, 50 hours total). Netted me 600 Euros, not a bad hourly rate!

    26. Squawkberries*

      Bank of America.

      When i was a grad student, I opened an account with them. I deposited the money, they gave me a set of starter checks and we moved on with life. The first time I used the check, it bounced saying that the account didn’t exist ??!!. Called them – they fixed it and agreed to void all penalties/ fees.

      Second time I wrote a check for $200, they bounced it back as an overdraft. Turned out whoever entered the check info wrote it as $20,000 (someone didn’t read the clearly legible written words and ignored the decimal point, i guess).

      Eventually closed the account. Years later, got married – husband and I were looking to open a joint account. BOA had a nearby branch – I vetoed ever giving them a cent of our money.

  20. Mirin*

    my mom bought me Hades for Christmas, so that! Really enjoying it so far and improving as well, I think. And genshin Impact, though right now it’s kind of fizzling out cause I’m getting bored – don’t want to do story quests and the current event is my weakness(racing around to collect balloons in a time limit with high potential to fall down)

    1. MEH Squared*

      I LOVED Hades! It has over 300,000 lines of dialogues and is so engaging in both the House of Hades and in the combat. I cannot wait until Hades II is released later this year.

  21. MPerera*

    Does anyone else feel that, as soon as you start getting the hang of a social media platform, it’s either taken over by Satan or the world moves on to a different one?

    1. StellaBella*

      Hahahah love this comparison. But, FB’s beginnings were not good (he wanted a way to rate women’s looks), so not sure that holds as it has always been bad, with loads of data things being bad about it all. But yeah. I get it. I am sad about having to move a community to a new platform, but it is what it is.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      It’s frustrating and,for me,a little sad – like my favourite cafe closing – but I find the same skills basically apply across them so there’s less of a learning curve. Discord is surprisingly intuitive in my experience.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I now think it’s an inevitable cycle. Like I once spent time online discussing Harry Potter, and once Lost, and I enjoyed those communities… but when the narrative being discussed ended, they faded away.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      That’s why I supported Diaspora, it was one of the first decentralized social networks that I know of. (I’m sure there were others, but it’s the first I got involved in.) It never really took off, but now Mastodon is fairly mature, if not robust or popular, and I’m finding it fairly easy to use. And Alison is on there! But the whole idea of decentralization is that no one controls the whole network, but anyone can add a server, and if a server is hosting truly harmful accounts, it may be blocked by other servers.

    5. CharlieBrown*

      Yep. The only way to really avoid that is to build your own community. But that’s a high wall to climb.

    6. fposte*

      Absolutely. Or to put it another way, the sign of its decline is that I’ve finally decided I’m going to use it. So maybe really it’s you and I who sunk Twitter.

    7. WorkingRachel*

      I’m only 41 but I feel like I’m pretty much done learning new communication platforms. In my lifetime I have learned snail mail, phone, email, AOL IM and similar messaging, texting, Facebook, Livejournal, MySpace, Twitter, reddit, group.me, WhatsApp, Zoom, various dating apps…I am currently confused by and resisting Discord, Slack, and Instagram. There’s just not enough space in my brain for this anymore, I think I’m done learning new ones unless required to by work or unless it brings significant value to an important personal relationship (I mastered WhatsApp within the last year to communicate better with one of my best friends).

    8. Lifeandlimb*

      Yes. This is why I decided not to join any new ones after Instagram. It’s totally not worth it.

  22. Jackalope*

    Random silly question from a conversation I had with a friend recently. For those of you who take baths, do you sit in the tub while it’s filling with water, or do you fill it with water and then get in? Whichever way you do it, why do you do it that way? I learned one way and was astonished when I learned that there were people who did it the other way, and I’m curious about broader experience.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Fill with water and then get in, so I can feel the warmth of the water all at once. Then again, I don’t take baths often because filling the tub and getting the temperature right takes ages!

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        I do what Fish does, I am impatient plus I lke the sensation of running water.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I get in halfway as well. The reason is that it’s cold and uncomfortable to sit in an empty tub naked, so I wait until there’s enough water to sit in & be warm…but I don’t wait until it’s full because I can’t seem to get the temp right if I’m not in it to adjust :)

      3. Random Dice*

        Me too.

        My kid takes a shower-bath, he stoppers up the tub and then lies down and giggles as the warm water tickles him and fills up around him.

    2. Not Australian*

      Fill first, then get in – but I’m often there so long that I end up letting some water out and adding more hot…

      1. SarahKay*

        You are my people. When I bath it’s usually because I want to seriously soak, usually with bath oil so I come out (after a good scrub in the final ten minutes to get rid of dead skin) with amazingly moisturised and soft skin.
        I take a good book, and I can easily be in there for getting on for two hours, adding extra hot water as needed.
        That said, I usually fill to about three quarters and then get in, to ensure I can tweak the temperature with the final quarter.

        1. Random Dice*

          I use EVOO as my bath oil, as I have so many fragrance allergies.

          It moisturizes every bit of my body without the annoyance of having to apply moisturizer everywhere.

    3. Snow Flower*

      Fill with water and then get in. Otherwise my body parts that aren’t submerged would be cold, even if the air temperature is high in the bathroom.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Fill first, because I like to make sure bubble bath or salts are well agitated and spread out before getting in. I also like to feel the warmth all at once; I might tinker with the temperature a bit and run it a bit more once I’m in.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Fill it halfway with warm water, then get in and top off with as hot water as possible. I can’t get directly into a very hot tub, but after about 3 minutes I want it hotter. If I fill it full up, I risk running out of hot water if I keep adding it. Also it’s very wasteful to have to let some water out in order to add more.

      But in a perfect world, I’d get into a full tub of exactly the correct temperature water, and it would gently get hotter and hotter as I sat in it.

      1. Morning reader*

        I do it this way too. I have a deep tub so it takes awhile to fill up. If I make it too hot I add some cool before I get in. I have a big wooden spoon I use like a paddle to mix it better before I get in. A friend noticed it sitting at the side of the tub and got worried. Apparently her parents used one just like that for spanking, several decades ago. I explained I never beat anyone with mine but I eventually removed it because I didn’t want her to see the reminder every time she visits.

      2. California Dreamin’*

        I do this. Get in when it’s about halfway full and then turn the water up hotter.

    6. Still*

      Oh, get in, take a quick shower, put conditioner in my hair, and THEN plug the drain and let the bathtub fill with water. When I’m done soaking I want to be able to just rinse and get out.

    7. Despachito*

      Interesting question!

      I sit in the tub while it’s filling with water. I suppose because I cannot wait to sit in warm water. It also allows me to have warmer water as my body adjusts step by step as the tub is filling. And I love HOT water.

    8. Courageous cat*

      Man, when I first read this comment I thought sitting in it while letting it fill up sounded absolutely insane, but… I think you guys have convinced me. I may have to give that a try. I hate trying to get into a bath that I inadvertently made way too hot.

      1. Jackalope*

        I find it really pleasant. The feeling of the water running over my arms and legs is one of the best parts of a bath for me. Obviously not everyone will feel that way but it’s worth trying.

    9. All Monkeys are French*

      I fill first, then get in. It used to be a bit of a crap shoot getting the temperature right, and I would have to add more hot or cold water after I got in, but I eventually starting using an instant read thermometer to dial in my ideal water temperature and now it’s just right every time!

    10. Lifeandlimb*

      My whole life I’ve filled it all the way and then gotten in, but funny enough today I decided to get in partway through and liked that too.

  23. Janet’s Smoothies*

    I’ve been having issues with my dad and stepmom about feeling like the runner up to my half siblings. That’s a much larger issue but at the moment I need a reality check if I’m holding onto bitter feelings that making everything feel like a big deal with my frustration. (The brief context is that I frequently feel taken advantage of and overlooked because I am the child living closest to them, so a lot is expected of me while I reap no financial benefits like my younger half siblings do).

    My roommate, who they have met, has a cat Luna, who I have known and loved since the day my roomie brought her home. Sadly Luna has a growth in her leg that is likely cancer (injection site sarcoma, look it up, most vets don’t warn about this) and the best course of action is to amputate the leg. My roomie started a fundraiser to help with the costs and Luna’s leg was amputated earlier this week.

    I sent the link to my family, including my dad and stepmom (who are very well off). I’m financially independent from my family but explained this was important to me and I would be very grateful to anyone who could help out my roomie. Many of my family donated. My dad said they would donate, which I was glad because I hoped for a large donation, knowing how well off they are. I mentioned it twice over the phone because my dad said he was having trouble with the online donation. Texted my stepmom when I was confirming dinner plans with them because I knew she’d done the online systems before to help my dad; she asked me to send the link specifically to her and I did.

    I checked with my roommate before heading over tonight and they still hadn’t donated, 5 days after I sent the link to my stepmom a second time. Today I arrive at my dad’s house for dinner and give him an update on Luna; he says to check with my stepmom about the donation. I mention it to her when she arrives, saying that dad said I should check with her. She says with an edge in her voice that she knows because I mentioned it several times over the last week, so I stop talking.

    But then she looks up from her tablet and starts rattling off details of the credit card statement they have open for my 26 yr old sister, questioning why she spent over $3,800 in a month on a road trip with a friend, but not asking any further details or telling her it’s too much money. A while later in the same evening, she sent $100 to my roommate.

    I feel so frustrated, maybe even angry, that my stepmom said I was annoying her with reminders of a donation for a cat I love like my own, but had no problem giving my unemployed sister thousands of dollars to go on a vacation. I pride myself on being independent so I don’t usually ask my dad and stepmom for money, but I felt ignored that the one time I ask for money for something important to me, they ignore it. Please share thoughts, even if it’s that I’m too invested and need to take a step back.

    1. Not Australian*

      I can relate. When my mother was downsizing I asked her for some of her unwanted items to give to friends of mine who were struggling: she was determined she was going to ‘donate it all to people who were less fortunate’. I pointed out that my friends *were* ‘less fortunate’ and would be grateful for anything she didn’t need, but for the longest time I think she thought I was trying to trick her into giving stuff away … which she was going to give away anyway …

      Punchline, I did manage to get her to part with some items for them which they’re still using 20 years later.

      I think your family have got a bad case of “Can’t see the wood for the trees syndrome”, i.e. they’re so wrapped up in solving one problem that they haven’t got the capacity to deal with anything else. You continuing to remind them that there are other people in the world is, IMHO, absolutely the best option.

    2. Emma*

      It sounds like you pinned a lot on this donation (wanting to feel cared for by your family, feeling like they care about your siblings more, having this event be a proxy for how they feel about you), when for them, it may just not be something that they value enough to donate a significant sum. Like, even though it’s important to you, they may not value pet medical care in the same way. I know my parents (and also colleagues who are at a similar age) would never spend thousands of dollars on pet medical care, even though they can afford it, and they truly wouldn’t be able to understand this. I could see them doing something similar, making a similarly sized donation if I really pushed it, for something like this.

      As an outsider, I think $100 is reasonable for a donation to a family member’s friend’s cat’s medical care. But it was definitely tactless of your step mom to discuss your half sister’s credit card expenses, regardless of their donation.

      And it sucks, and isn’t fair, that they don’t give you as much financial support as your siblings! Of course it makes you extra aware of the discrepancy, and makes you feel undervalued!

      Can you do therapy? And maybe reduce the amount of time you spend with them? I love the psychology today website’s search tool for finding a therapist.

      And I’m sorry about the kitty! I hope she can get the surgery and have a good recovery.

    3. Blueprint blues*

      I think feeling lesser than your half-siblings is colouring your response a bit. As a parent, I could totally see funding my kid’s vacation, even if they were unemployed. And I’d pretty much contribute $0 to my kid’s *roommate’s* pet issues. Unless I had some otherwise strong relationship to the roommate (childhood friend of my kid, who spent every other weekend at my house, and I know exactly how they like their eggs cooked), I kind of think of the roommate as essentially a stranger to me. I’m sorry their pet is hurt, so is the check-out person at the grocery store, and I’ve had an ongoing relationship with them for years.

      1. Random Dice*

        This is where I land too. It’s the responsibility of a pet owner to pay for medical expenses. Pets cost a lot of money! If you can’t afford medical expenses, honestly, you can’t afford a pet.

        The fact that it’s your roommate’s pet, not your own, makes it even more removed for your family. Yes, you feel close to this cat because it’s a part of your life, but it’s really too far of a leap to expect others to follow, that shelling out money for expenses your roommate should pay is a sign of love for you.

        But just because these feelings are too big for the situation doesn’t mean they’re wrong in general. Big difficult feelings that you’re stuffing down ALWAYS squish out sideways during other stressors.

        So find some therapy first to get the raw furious loud stuff out on the table and processed.

        Then – if it seems like the right next step after therapy – potentially talk to your dad about the financial and apparent care imbalance and how to even it out. It may be non-financial (dad-kid dinners or the like) or it may be financial (your own vacation).

    4. Jessica*

      You said “the one time I ask for money” and you definitely sound like you emotionally feel like this money is for you, but they may not have seen it that way at all, more like “please contribute to this charity drive for this other person you may not even know. “ The whole thing seems very indirect. Plus making them struggle with tech to do it.

      [Sorry, I know this is not usable advice for what to do now, more of a “might things have gone better if I had handled this differently” thought experiment.]

      What if you had told them the situation (beloved cat needs medical care beyond what you and roommate can afford) and straight out asked them for [amount you actually wanted from them], and let them just write you a check if they would?
      (1) framing it as For You, since that seems to be how you feel about it;
      (2) asking for what you want, rather than “I have a secret number in my head and will be Disappointed if I don’t get it”
      (3) let them give you the money in whatever form is easiest for them

    5. RussianInTexas*

      I think by the second reminder about the cat I have never seen of a roommate I don’t really know, I would probably decide not to donate anything at all.
      Donations are voluntarily, and bugging about them makes people want to not to donate.
      $100 is really a generous donation for the animal not your own, even from a well off people.
      I have cats, I love cats, I can’t imagine requiring anyone donating to their care.

      1. WellRed*

        Yeah, I have to be honest, I felt pestered just reading about the whole donation thing. It’s not even your cat. But I’m also not someone who will spend thousands to try and save a pet, no matter how beloved.

    6. Generic Name*

      I agree with Emma that your emotions over this one thing seems to be about a whole bunch of other things, if that makes any sense whatsoever. From the perspective of a parent with an almost grown child, I can see how giving money to one child’s roommate’s cat just doesn’t have the same level of importance as financially supporting your own child. I agree with you that a 26 year old being paid by their parents to faff around on holiday rather than getting a job is a problem. Did your dad and stepmom ever support you when you were starting out? (I assume no, but if yes, it’s something to consider.)

      I suggest that this isn’t about money at all, but if your dad is reasonable, you might consider having a conversation with him. Not necessarily asking for money, but telling how your other siblings getting lots of money and you getting zero makes you feel and see what he says.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I had a family situation that’s not identical but might be comparable. My siblings and I had a fraught relationship with our father after he remarried a few years after he and our mother were divorced. It was clear that he and his new wife had made an agreement that he would be more available for her kids from a previous marriage, whom he lived with, than for us. When we were older and became aware of money, there was a lot of emotion around that and how much money they had and how little he gave to us.

      Eventually I and my siblings, as adults, realized that the disagreements weren’t about the money at all. They were about the fact that my father deliberately chose to make his kids less important than his wife’s. Money was just the primary means through which he interacted with us, when what we really wanted was to be important to him.

      Reading your post, I’m wondering if this is in fact the real issue and not support for a cat that belongs to a your roommate. I’m sorry you are in this situation with your parents. I know from experience how painful it is. For me, doing therapy helped me realize my father wasn’t going to change and instead I was able to not have his behavior be triggering. Well before he passed away years ago, my self-care made all the difference so I could let it go and be at peace.

    8. GlowCloud*

      I don’t think you’re entitled to complain about how other adults spend their money, even if they are your parents. You’re treating it as money owed to you, in lieu of validation, and that’s a huge assumption.

      People place different values on money, depending on context – including emotional weight. You have a really mismatched expectation around money vs. what your parents are willing to spend.
      As other people have mentioned: Their kid’s roommate’s sick cat’s vet bill is not the same level of priority or emotional investment as their kid’s travel expenses. It’s not to do with you vs your sister, as you see it – it’s choosing to go out of one’s way to perhaps marginally extending the lifespan of a stranger’s pet vs a $3,800 that’s already been spent (presumably via uncontrolled access to their account, e.g. she borrowed their credit card for the trip?). For comparison, it’s not even apples and oranges – think apples and stepladders.

      Your stepmom *did* question the amount your sister spent on travel – why would you expect them to have that conversation where they quibble with her over an itemised bill, in front of you? You assume that she didn’t follow it up later, or that it wasn’t a big deal how much had been spent. Do you know for sure?
      If she contributed a hundred bucks to the cat fund, that was a generous gesture, and it sounds pretty ungracious of you to begrudge what was, in fact, an act of charity.

      You’re seething over this incident as being emblematic of a wider pattern where you’re not getting as much financial support from your parents, but your resentment seems unwarranted. Treating one’s children equitably is not the same as treating them equally.
      Maybe sending money to the kid who lives further away from them is a way of them expressing love that they can’t share in other ways? Maybe your stepsister seems to need more of a leg-up? Who knows what the deal is.

      I think you ought to wipe the slate clean of resentment – stop tallying up how much is spent on each family member, and look at your family relationships with a fresh lens. $100 is too cheap a price to buy so much bitterness.

      1. E*

        I agree with some of this but think it’s too harsh. Being treated differently than siblings — especially half siblings — is really painful. I feel you LW while also agreeing with others that pinning so much on this one instance may not be the healthiest approach. I think separating the issue of getting help for the beloved pet from the bigger issue of the differential treatment will help. I’d tackle the latter –after giving some space post the cat issue — with a vulnerable discussion (if your parents are the type that can handle that with sensitivity) — “I value my independence and don’t need or want financial support from you, but I feel sad/hurt when I see you supporting my siblings in ways that I perceive to be different from the treatment I get. Can we talk about this?”

    9. BadCultureFIt*

      Honestly? You asked them multiple times, and it’s not even your cat. I’d be annoyed too. You’re allowed to be hurt that they didn’t donate much, but they’re not in the wrong.

      1. Maggie*

        Personally I think giving $100 to someone I don’t knows cat is extremely generous. I agree with you point though!

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      It sounds like there’s a lot of background here and your feelings overall are completely valid, but the only people I’d even consider helping with pet care expenses would be my kids or mayyyyyybe my sister. I think it’s reasonable and not unkind to decline to donate to an acquaintance or stranger even if it’s your child asking you to do it.

    11. Katiekins*

      I’ve been there (wanting financial help from parents I have a complicated relationship with, not getting it in the way I hoped for), so I feel you! Talking about it in therapy helped. Was it about the money itself, or what the money represented? For me, it was about what the money represented.

      I feel aligned with what Emma and Jessica said above. In my own situation, I probably would have done better to ask for a specific amount.

      Also, we know from what you said how you loved this cat from day one, but your parents might not and just think, okay, her roommate could use some help, and that could be a disconnect.

      There may be things you don’t know (or do know!) about how your parents handle money which influenced how this played out, too. Reading this I wondered if maybe your dad and stepmom make money decisions together, and he hadn’t checked with her yet, or if he defers the decisions to her, and if your half sibs are her biokids and she earmarks her money for them, and your Dad earmarks his money for you. There could be many behind-the-scenes reasons for how this went down, that have nothing to do with how much they care for you.

      I wish you and the cat the best, and good luck in untangling the messy strands of the family money/love/support knot!

    12. Despachito*

      I also think there are several separate issues here.

      Re the cat: if considered separately, I’d say your dad and stepmom were very generous – they took technical trouble and gave significant amount of money for a cat belonging to a complete stranger to them. You were reminding them several times, which could easily be read as pestering. I get it that it was very important to you but not so much to them, yet they did donate. And you were still cross with them – that you had to remind them, that they could have afforded more given their wealth… this is not particularly endearing.

      Re feeling neglected – I understand it is hurtful. I also understand finance is just one means to express love, but I think you are too much concentrated on it. You say you are proud of your independence but on the other hand feel that your dad and stepmom should give you money… why?

      You say “I am the child living closest to them, so a lot is expected of me while I reap no financial benefits like my younger half siblings do.” – what exactly do they expect of you that you feel you should be paid for? Do some work/errands for them they refuse to pay you for? If so, and if you feel slighted, you could perhaps cut this down/request e.g. gas money if they want you go shopping for them ?

      Please also be aware that “be expected to do” something does not mean you should actually do it. I assume you are an adult with their own budget and responsibilities, and so are your dad and stepmom. None of you is obliged to do favours to the other one, if it feels too unilateral. If you feel they devote more of their time/interest to your siblings, it might be worth a tactful discussion. With the money, I’d be very cautious. If my adult child claiming they are independent reproached me I did not give them enough money, I’d not appreciate that.

      So yes, I think you are hugely overreacting in relation to the cat, but that it might be worthwhile to look closer at your expectations from the relationship with your dad and your stepmom. I wish you luck in figuring it out and establishing a healthy relationship with them.

  24. Fish*

    My husband has some serious anxiety and pretty extreme startle response, but he loves horror movies. I remember reading about a study or something showing that a not insignificant percentage of people with anxiety issues enjoy them- I think it was something about deliberately choosing to have an anxiety provoking experience rather than just having one in everyday life.

    1. Just a different redhead*

      Haha, I have high anxiety and a very strong startle, but most horror is *not for me*. I guess there can be a fine line between something that’s primarily horror vs small horrors inside some mystery/thriller stuff, and I do love mysteries and enjoy a bunch of non-horror thriller stuff…

      But what I actually wanted to comment was that it reminds me of my designation of certain things that “I watch this when I need to cry” or that “I love fictional emotional rollercoasters because they’re not mine and no one real is hurt”.

      I definitely think there’s something to voluntarily seeking out a particular emotional experience just the way you’d normally seek out a flavor of food to eat (like spicy or orange-flavored or whatever).

    2. marvin*

      I wish I could be more like this because I also have anxiety and I like the idea of horror, but in practice I just find that horror movies disturb me for ages after I watch them. Whatever that capacity is for finding them cathartic or exciting and moving on, I don’t have it. I can’t do true crime either–it just gives me extra material to worry about.

    3. time for cocoa*

      I highly recommend the site “Where’s The Jump?” for anyone watching horror/thriller movies with less than 100% enthusiasm. It gives you exact time stamps of jump scares.

    4. Random Dice*

      I have anxiety and like zombie movies and other monsters movies. (Or did until Covid, and am just now starting to watch them again.) I had never connected that before.

  25. We love you (in soup)*

    How do you address this kind of comment? I’m staying with my parents in law in another country and coming to the end of a month long stay with my 7 month old and 2.5 year old. My husband and I have had a rough year and are still struggling in our marriage and my in laws are aware of this. Living with them with my kids at this age has been challenging as they are on a totally different schedule (my kids wake at 6.30am, in laws get up around 10am) and have different views on things like screen time, formula etc.

    My in laws lived with us for 10 weeks when my youngest was born which was also challenging. They are lovely people but I am definitely ready to go home! However, they have started to make comments like “you’ll be glad to go home, won’t you?”.

    When they stayed with us, a similar thing happened where they (especially MIL) kept saying “I bet you’ll be glad to get rid of us” and I responded with some deflection like “I’m going to miss you doing all the laundry” etc but I’m not sure if this time I should take a different tack. I don’t want them to feel bad, they’ve been great to us, but I’d love for that question not to keep coming up.

    Would you answer with something that addresses the question more? Be honest that it’s a been hard but reassure them they’re wonderful hosts? Keep deflecting?

    1. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

      I think it depends a bit on context. If I got that question a couple of times my response would be fairly honest but warm, like, “Yeah, I am really looking forward to being in my own place, and also giving you back your space too! But at the same time I am so grateful that we’ve been able to stay and that you’ve made such a welcoming, nice home for us, thank you.”
      But if the question was repeated often, in a passive aggressive way or a needy way, well I might start to lose patience and I don’t know how I’d respond…

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Your last paragraph is pretty important context. I think if I got that sort of vibe, I’d probably say: “You’ve said that a few times! Are you worried about something?”

        1. Random Dice*

          That’s a good way of returning awkward to sender, and letting them figure out whether to continue to be passive aggressive or to talk it out.

          But dude, a young baby and a toddler, in another home and another country, for a month, when you have to be on best behavior in your in-laws’ house (much less when your marriage is on the rocks)… That’s hell in a bottle. And it can’t be helping your marriage, or your mental health.

    2. Snow Flower*

      Can you laugh it off with what they used to say when they were your guests? Like ‘Nah, I bet you’re happy to get rid of us, haha’?
      I also like Retired’s suggestion. Good to have a few of these ready if they insist in this question (which sounds exhausting).

    3. Ellis Bell*

      This sounds a bit like fairly typical dry humour to me? It’s something I would treat as no more than very informal and closeknit acknowledgement that being a guest/host is tough even at the best of times; certainly there’s always a time limit! I bet it’s a bit close to the knuckle when you’re actually in teeth grinding mode though. I would probably respond like for like with: “Oh it was worth it. Though I bet you’ll enjoy not being woken up at dawn too!” But I’d also talk about missing each other too, as a balance to the jokiness. Is there something cultural going on here? I stayed with my ex’s American relatives and they were very taken aback when I said “Oh I bet you’ll be glad to see the back of us!” instead of the half laugh and “Ha! Yes, you were terrible. No but honestly, you probably will be looking forward to your own bed too”. In Britain it’s just like cheerfully acknowledging that the weather is shit but the garden party was fun anyway.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, I was going to say the same. This sort of comment is super common in my British experience and it’s just a sort of way of acknowledging the situation and having a bit of a laugh about it, it’s not serious. During one of the lockdowns I ended up staying with my parents for a while and they made loads of comments like ‘I bet you’ll be glad to stop living with a couple of old people!’ and ‘I bet you’ll be glad to get back to civilisation!’ (I live in the city and they live in a small village). It was just an acknowledgement that the situation was a bit weird, and my response was ‘Ha – no, I bet you’ll be glad when my running shoes aren’t cluttering up the place!’ We all know we love each other really, this is just how British people communicate half the time.

    4. Reba*

      If you have a quiet moment (I know you have young kinds — ha) I might gently ask, “you’ve said this a few times now. What’s on your mind?” I suspect they are finding this visits overwhelming at their age, like maybe they want to host you/visit you for longer than they are really capable of sustaining.

      I also think it is well within the bounds of politeness to shrug this off and not dog any deeper, btw! “It’s been a great visit” “I’m looking forward to (planting my garden/spring cleaning/something else coming up at home)”

      These are LOOONG visits and I think you are doing great.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I would interpret that on a very simplistic level in one of 2 ways. They might be asking, “Do you love me?”

      Or they might be feeling / expressing, “I am looking forward to everything back to normal, but I feel a little guilty about feeling that way.” People often say, “You must be feeling…” When they mean, “I am feeling…”

      I’d respond by hugging or kissing them and saying something like, “Thank you so much for putting up with us so long, I appreciate you more than you know.”

    6. Not A Manager*

      What if you respond in kind? Not meanly, either jokingly or in a “this is how people feel after a long visit” kind of way. MIL, staying with you: “I bet you’ll be glad to be rid of us.” You, as host: “I bet you’ll be glad to get back home!” Or you could soften it to a question: “Are you saying you’re looking forward to getting back home?”

      Same thing with them as host: “You’ll be glad to get home, won’t you?” You, as guest: “Not as glad as you’ll be to see us go home!”

    7. fposte*

      Definitely a context thing. But it might be beneficial to interpret it in the most generous way at the moment, since it could mean that and you’ve already got enough stressors that it might be good to put this one on the shelf. I’m thinking how a dear friend and I both just love being home and love having our homes to ourselves, and we know this and talk about this. If I were visiting her and she said this, it would be true, and it wouldn’t be a mark against anybody’s hospitality or guesthood. So maybe decide to read it, however it was meant, as an understanding observation about the fact that it’ll be nice to be in your own place, and her comments when living with you as much the same. A response could be “If anywhere could be better than being on our own, it would be here.”

    8. KatEnigma*

      “Mmmmm” is the only answer I will give in similar circumstances. No denial, no confirmation. Nothing you could say would be correct.

    9. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Is there a reason you’re there for a month, and I guess longer before you leave? That’s an excruciatingly long time for anyone to play host, even to their nearest and dearest.

      1. We love you (in soup)*

        We live the opposite side of the world and don’t have the capacity to make the 17 hour flight often

  26. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I decided this month that I’d try to only watch movies directed by women, after realizing last year that out of ~150 films only 14 had women directors, sacre bleu! So far it’s been easy, saw The Woman King last night and Corsage out with friends earlier. Might finally watch Desperately Seeking Susan today, and I also saw a wonderful Japanese movie called Rent a Cat.

    Any suggestions on titles to add to my list welcome!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Anything directed by Agnes Varda is a good bet. Le Bonheur, Cleo from 5 to 7 and One Sings, The Other Doesn’t (probably the best film I’ve ever seen about female friendship) are all great. Staying in France, I’d also recommend Peppermint Soda (a coming-of-age film set in the 60s) and Entre Nous (also released under the title At First Sight), both by Diane Kurys. Things to Come by Mia Hansen-Love is the rare film with a female lead character (Isabelle Huppert in this case) over the age of 50.

      One of my favourite films of recent years is Atlantique (also released under the title Atlantics) by Mati Diop, which is available on Netflix. And if you’re in the mood for a bittersweet family story, Cave of the Yellow Dog by Byambasuren Davaa is a lovely film from Mongolia, which features an incredibly cute dog.

      For current releases, everyone seems to be raving about Aftersun – I want to see it, but haven’t yet. Oh, and if you haven’t yet seen the documentary series Women Make Film, I’d recommend that too – it will give you tons of ideas for other films to see as well.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I loved Aftersun. Probably one of my favourite films I watched in 2022.

        From recent releases, and on a similar note (quietly heartbreaking film about grief and memory), I also recommend Petite Maman by Celine Sciamma.

        1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

          I also loved Aftersun, I saw it the same day I saw Causeway and they’re now linked in my head (both have swimming and memory as a theme).

        2. E*

          Came here to say Petite Mamman too. Best movie I’ve seen in ages and still think about I’d often over a year later. But it is quiet/slow so go in with low expectations :)

      2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        Thank you! Lots to dig into here, especially having such a wide range. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a Mongolian film, and I’m always trying to expand my cinema “map”.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          It’s the only Mongolian film I’ve seen, but I don’t think that many get made – that director has made several other films in Mongolia too (she now lives in Germany.) And further expanding the map – if you’ve never seen Wadjda (from Saudi Arabia, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour) or A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (set in Iran, filmed in California, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour), both are great.

      3. Kitties Everywhere*

        All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, directed by Laura Poitras and about the life of Nan Goldin, was my favorite documentary of 2022, perhaps even my favorite movie of the year overall.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Oh, I really want to see that! It’s not coming out in the UK till the end of January, though. We tend to get all the Oscar contenders in January and February here.

    2. Kiwiapple*

      Little women (2019) and Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
      Booksmart (Olivia Wilde)
      Rosaline (Karen Maine)
      Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
      Take this Waltz (Sarah Polley)

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        Thank you! I meant to watch Rosaline over Christmas and didn’t get to it.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Wendy and Lucy is officially one of the saddest dog films ever made. I’m getting teary just thinking about the ending!

    3. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

      The Forty-Year-Old Version
      By Radha Blank

      Very funny, political, beautiful. About race and art.

      (It’s on Netflix, here in the UK at least)

    4. AY*

      Gina Prince Blythewood (Woman King) has some awesome stuff in her backlist: Love and Basketball, Beyond the Lights, and The Old Guard.

      I also love the films of Mira Nair. Monsoon Wedding, which is an ensemble movie about a family throwing a large wedding, is a particular favorite.

    5. Emma2*

      It is a limited series rather than a film, but Ava DuVernay’s When they See Us (about the Central Park five) is excellent. DuVernay has directed a number of films and documentaries, including Selma.

    6. Bobina*

      Nanny (if you’re okay with horror) is meant to be really good and have wonderful cinematography.
      Promising Young Woman.
      Harley Quinn – Birds of Prey

    7. Lore*

      I saw Emerald Fennel’s Promising Young Woman recently and while it wrecked me enough I’m not sure I recommend it, it’s very powerful.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      English Vinglish, by Gauri Shinde, is sweet.

      What Will People Say, by Iram Haq, is compelling.

      And Thelma and Louise is not directed by a woman but was written by one.

    9. Clisby*

      In no particular order of preference:

      Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash)
      My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong)
      The Piano (Jane Campion)
      A Wrinkle in Time (Ana Duvernay)
      Julie and Julia (Nora Ephron)

    10. MEH Squared*

      Sue Brooks (Australian) directed a movie called Japanese Story that stars Toni Collette (whom I love) and Gotaro Tsunashima in a clash of cultures that is both comedic and tragic. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, but it’s a ‘I can only watch it once’ movie because it’s that hard to watch (emotionally, for me). It came out in 2003, which was when I watched it, so I don’t know how well it has held up.

    11. Arya Parya*

      Portrait of a lady on Fire is a beautiful movie. You could also look into movies by Sofia Coppola and Katryn Bigelow. Nomadland and Toni Erdman I both really liked. And strangely enough American Psycho is also directed by a woman

    12. mreasy*

      Jeanne Dielman, anything by Kelly Reichert or Claire Denis, and seconding the vote for Agnes Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7 is a favorite). I also thought that both Lady Bird and Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig, were excellent.

    13. I take tea*

      Seconding Nomadland and Lady Bird (haven’t seen Young Women yet).
      I liked Clueless (Amy Heckerling) and also just watched The Holiday by Nancy Meyers. Light fluff, but good points about moving on from someone.
      I recently learned that The Matrix series are directed by the Wachowskis’, who both later have come out as transgender. It gives an interesting view on the different body experiences in the film.

    14. Emma2*

      I have not yet watched Till, but was reading a review today and the director, Chinonye Chukwu is a woman, and the film sounds excellent. The review mentioned another film that Chukwu directed that I have also not seen, Clemency, which also sounds excellent – Chukwu won a prize at Sundance for Clemency.

    15. GoryDetails*

      If you haven’t already seen it, check out The Trouble With Angels from 1966, directed by Ida Lupino; it’s a rather goofy/fluffy comedy based on a memoir about renegade schoolgirls at a nun-run Catholic school. Has some hilarious bits, not least the scenes featuring Gypsy Rose Lee as deliciously-dramatic dance instructor Mrs. Mabel Dowling Phipps. (Gets surprisingly touching by the end.)

      Lupino’s darker work includes The Hitch-Hiker from 1953; I haven’t seen that one, though it does sound intriguing. Oh, and she directed the episode “The Masks” from the original “Twilight Zone” series – along with a number of other noted TV-series episodes.

  27. Liz*

    I’ve recently received a diagnosis of (possible) ADHD and am due to meet with the titration team to begin looking at medication (probably stimulants). I’m probably way ahead of myself (I’m told it’s a 12-16 week wait) but I’m interested to hear from others who have tried medication to manage this condition. What are the benefits I can expect? What side effects to look out for? Did you feel it was worth it?

    1. Mirin*

      I had methylphenidate as a teen, also looking to restart. Benefits are definitely easier focus and also (I think as a result) less effort to do things. However, you still need to direct your focus or you’re just gonna focus extra hard on video games or something.
      I experienced lack of Hunger, not appetite, so eating was fine, but I think if I didn’t have school lunches anyway that could’ve been an issue.
      Another side effect was a raised heart rate which didn’t bother me in itself, but it also made me feel warmer. I’d put on a sweater and then when it kicked in I’d be sweating.
      There were two side effects in the first 3-4 months that went away after. First was headaches and crashes after the effect run out (from thinking so hard). Second was trouble falling asleep.

      1. Liz*

        Thank you for this. It has taken a very long time to recognise the possibility that what I struggle with is focus. I’ve usually described it as Motivation problem, and ascribed it to ongoing depression and anxiety, even though pretty much all other symptoms of the above had vanished. I already hyperfocus on videogames at times, so that will be something to look out for. My biggest problem is usually that i start thinking “ok, i want to do x… but i could also do y…. and z also looks pretty cool…” and the wheel of indecision continues to spin for hours and hours until i end up doomscrolling just to make the noise in my brain shut up, or I’m so exhausted by my own thoughts that i need to go take a nap. If medication could help me actually pin down a thing i want to do and manouvre myself into doing it, that would be a win.

        1. Mirin*

          I’m not sure if medication has any effect on that since in school everything was scheduled and I didn’t take them on the weekend.
          But! there’s a hack: roll a dice or flip a coin to decide what to do. Chances are you actually have a secret favourite and this helps you realise and go do it, or it genuinely decided for you.
          Important part is practicing on less difficulty decisions so you automatically do it

          1. Liz*

            Ah, i get that. I think one of the reasons i was never assessed at school was that, being a little people-pleaser, I actually thrived under the neat routine of having my day sorted into organised, manageable chunks. (Never did homework, but bright enough to coast through.) Self initiative is…. tough. My therapist has recommended a similar method of just embracing my more impulsive side and just going and doing whatever activity comes into my head first before I get sidetracked by other options. The coin flip might be a good backup! We’ll see how that goes!

            1. Random Dice*

              This is a very typical female ADHD story. (Or female-presenting-as-a-child story)

              I did well in school because I had intense anxiety and was a people-pleaser who didn’t want to disappoint people. I did well, but it was so much harder than it should have been, but all the negative consequences were inward and invisible. (My son’s ADHD is all outward and very visible.)

              For the sidetracked gear-spinning, yes, meds very much help with that!

              But also ADHD hacks. Personally I find it helpful to just do the next good thing – not perfect thing, but a good thing. Don’t look at the big picture, and don’t make it a big thing cuz that’s when our brains spin into they smoke and then we fall down and nothing happens – just lightly, casually, ok let’s just do one next good thing. It’s like sidling up slowly to a skittish animal.

        2. RagingADHD*

          These are executive functions generally labeled as Task Initiation and Prioritization.

          Yes, meds help with both.

          I highly recommend the book “Smart but Scattered.” It’s directed at parents of kids with ADHD, but it has the best and most practical / recognizable descriptions of different executive functions that I have seen.

          1. Flowers*

            I definitely have the executive dysfunction; I didn’t know about Task Initiation and Prioritization but that describes me too. I’ll be reading more about these.

            1. RagingADHD*

              There are different systems for describing the components of executive functions (or executive dysfunction). One of the cool things about Smart but Scattered is that it describes how different patterns of strengths and weaknesses in executive function show up in different behavioral profiles.

              For example, people with ADHD are often weak in things like task initiation, goal-directed persistence, and working memory. But they are often stronger than average in mental flexibility (having more than one way to accomplish something), metacognition (examining their own thought patterns) and creative problem-solving.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I found it very helpful for getting things done, particularly detail work, and for dealing with overstimulating environments like shopping or school functions without getting so exhausted.

      I got diagnosed & started meds in my 40s, and at this point I would caution people over 40 to consider their family health history and keep a very close eye on potential cardiovascular issues, like blood pressure or poor circulation in your extremities.

      Both stimulant and non-stimulant meds can raise blood pressure and constrict blood vessels. My pressure started creeping up a couple of years after I started them, and my doctor said “let’s keep an eye on it.”

      I believe now that we should have acted more aggressively to either add a bp med, or stop the ADHD med. I am being assessed now for structural changes in my heart, that may or may not be reversible. These are due to long term elevation of bp, even though it was only considered in the “watch” zone rather than the intervention zone.

      I think it would have been worth it if my doctor and I had managed the warning signs better. As it stands now, not really worth it.

    3. Cendol*

      Benefits: the ability to focus and plan ahead and a huge reduction in anxiety.

      Side effects: decreased appetite, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure.

      It’s definitely been worth it for me. I’ve been on meds six months and have done more in those six months to pursue my dreams than I have in the last 30 years! I’m so much calmer, and I feel capable instead of constantly overwhelmed. In my case, the elevated BP is actually a boon, because I had very low BP before and would experience dizzy spells.

    4. curly sue*

      I have a recent diagnosis myself (both Curly Bob and I were diagnosed when we took our eldest to get evaluated – in retrospect, it makes perfect sense). I’ve been on methylphenidate, which was effective in that it made it easier to initiate tasks, and due to the shortage I’m now on Lisdexamfetamine, which I think I like better for duration of focus. it also make sit easier to get back on task if I’ve been interrupted or derailed.

      One thing to note is that Curly Bob did not react well to methylphenidate when he tried it. He’s got type 2 diabetes and the ADHD meds made his blood sugar spike badly, so if you have blood sugar issues you’ll need to keep a close eye on that.

    5. Random Dice*

      I recently found myself in your shoes. ADHD meds (methylphenidate) definitely don’t harm me – I don’t get the speed reaction that folks without ADHD brains get – and I get a subtle amount of focus. Well, I thought it was subtle until I was off it for several days and my husband asked why I was so spacey in the mornings. So now I am extra careful to take my meds.

      At the same time, educating yourself on ADHD is really important. (From reputable sources – there so much misinformation and even disinformation out there.) There’s a saying, “pills don’t teach skills”. Meds help many of us focus, but we also need to set up our environments and schedules to help us succeed.

      ADDitude Magazine is an absolute treasure trove, recommended to me by doctors and ADHD parents I trust, and now by me. Read up in your spare time – it helped me understand so many things about myself that I didn’t know fell under the umbrella, and gave me ideas for tools that help.

      I love love love YouTube’s “How to ADHD” channel – she presents science-based and experience-based info in fun pithy ways. (And provides info on the oft-overlooked female ADHD experience – I don’t know if you’re female, but later in life diagnoses usually are so I thought I’d mention it.)

      One thing I’ve come to embrace is the fidget. Now I understand that in order to focus my brain fully, I need to move my hands. I play Bitgram (a chill Tetris-like app) when I need to focus on a phone conversation. I play with actual fidgets (my fave is a 3d printed rainbow slug from Etsy) or doodle zentangles while in video meetings (it looks like taking notes) when my kind strays.

      Last of all, ADHD commonly has comorbidities that can be part of the treatment plan too. For example, anxiety is super common as is depression. (It makes sense – it’s hard being a rainbow-shaped peg that tried to fit in a world full of square holes; if you didn’t know your true rainbowy shape you’ll have internalized every challenge to fit as your fault.)

  28. Snow Flower*

    We’d like to start trying for a child with my husband in the near future. I’m looking for website and book recommendations that talk about how to prepare our minds and bodies and that explains what happens in each week or month of the pregnancy. I’m also interested in your personal stories.
    (Of course I’m talking to my gyno about the health inplications.)

    1. Liz*

      I really like the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. Doesn’t blind you with science, but also honest and practical and breaks things down by time. They also do baby and toddler editions on child development.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’ll second that, it was very helpful to both of us, and this might be a bit soon but also look at the books from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I am an inveterate overpreparer, and I found the information on newborn/infant care and wellness made me feel a lot less at sea about becoming a father.

    2. Emma*

      I like anything by the mayo clinic. And also the online week by week pregnancy calendar by amalah/alpha mom.

      And do also prepare yourself that getting pregnant may not be easy or straightforward. Honestly, my first though in reading your question was “what if they do all this research on the various weeks of pregnancy, and then they struggle with infertility?”

      This is definitely colored by my own infertility experience!

      In your situation, I might focus less on the physical week by week guides until there’s actually a pregnancy, and more on the emotional/other changes for being a parent. And I don’t really have resources for that, other than therapy, and the Dear Sugar column, the Ghost Ship that Carried Us (if you’re still deciding whether or not to try for kids).

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        I also liked the Mayo Clinic guide as well as Pregnancy for Dummies (I know some people hate the title, but the info was good).

      2. E*

        Agree with this! We had fertility issues and I think it’s best to wait till pregnant to start reading too much about it. That said, enjoy things now that are less safe once pregnant — sushi, unpasteurized cheese, etc.

        Unlike many others on this thread (and in life) I did NOT like the Oster books. She’s an economist and her “absence of proof is proof of absence” really didn’t work for me especially after struggling to get pregnant and really not wanting to take a lot of risks once finally preg.

        A lot of people recommend Making Babies to get your and your partners’ bodies ready to start trying. It was sort of helpful for me and I did like the meditations in it.

        Once you are pregnant your doc will also have a lot of good vetted resources for you.

        I think the best thing to know is every pregnant is different, so as much as you prepare, things will catch you off guard. E.g., I’m still very nauseous at week 25 and it drives me crazy that all the week-by-week apps and websites talk about how by now first trimester nausea is a distant memory…!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a generation old, but I really liked “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine. Designed as a supplement to whatever book by a doctor you have. I was the first in my family/friend group to be pregnant, and it gave helpful information such as your girlfriends who’ve done this once or twice might tell you, e.g.

      1) Your belly button will turn inside out. Never has it been so easy to clean your belly button.
      2) The anti-stretch mark creams don’t help with stretch marks, but may alleviate the whole body itching. “Whole body itching?” I said, and it was one of those side effects that is not unusual but the medical establishment mostly skips over.

      1. Clisby*

        You also might not get stretch marks – I didn’t.

        Other things …

        Not everybody has morning sickness.

        It’s creepy when you can first see the baby moving around inside you (I mean like you can see there’s a little foot in there – it’s like an alien.)

        Doctors can have a strange idea of what “sleeping through the night” means. Apparently, some of them think sleeping 4-6 hours at a stretch is sleeping through the night. To me, it has to be at least 8 hours.

    4. AY*

      Currently pregnant (21 weeks!). I read the week-by-week summary from What to Expect.

      I highly recommend Emily Oster’s Expecting Better. She looks at pregnancy studies and data and lets you know which recommendations are supported by good science and which ones are more inconclusive. I especially appreciated the breakdown about outcomes for different types of delivery and pain management during delivery. I know the author is fairly controversial these days due to her COVID recs on school closures, but I found this book to be very valuable.

      1. Stitch*

        Yes she’s great for calming the anxieties everything else gives you.

        Some stuff is so weird. Like some sources say not to use, say, face washes using salicylic acid and the only justification was that it’s chemically similar to a spring except A) how much are you absorbing through the skin and B) I was actually told to take a low dose aspirin to prevent pre-eclampsia.

        So it’s all very argh. And they go “oh well why take any risks” to the point of insanity.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Cosign Emily Oster. I’m a mom by adoption so I didn’t read pregnancy books. I HATED What To Expect The First Year which I swear had on one page “talk to your baby! It’s really important to talk to your baby! Your baby won’t develop language skills unless you talk to your baby!” and on the next “Don’t talk to your baby too much!” Plus they had an absolute fixation on fructose being “healthier” than any other sugar. I tossed it when the kid was about three months old. I hope the pregnancy book is better!

      3. Random Dice*

        Me too. There’s so much bullshit around pregnancy. There are a lot of old wives tales that everyone including doctors treat as gospel.

        I found her dive into scientific studies helpful when making decisions throughout.

        The fact that the medical establishment know that light drinking is ok after the first trimester, but ban it entirely to discourage alcoholics (who won’t follow the ban anyway) is just sheer paternalism.

        I found the data on breastfeeding really helpful when I struggled SO HARD and still failed. It felt like the weight of my child’s entire future was on my uncooperative breasts, and I was choking down 17 supplements a day. It was nice to know that, yeah breast is best, but actually, formula is pretty great too. To know how much class and income actually skews the data was helpful.

    5. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      Definitely Oster’s books and also Bumpin by Leslie Schrock and Like a Mother by Angela Garbes. I honestly waited to do much reading until I was pregnant.

      The emotional stuff was and is tough (we have a 10 month old), so having a therapist throughout was helpful.

    6. Wilde*

      All the pregnancy tracker apps are pretty good for this general kind of information. This week your baby is the size of an orange, its feet are this big and body is growing X vital organ. Pregnant persons symptoms are likely to be X, Y & Z, etc.

      One thing I struggled with was keeping the secret until we were ready to announce. As the first of my peer group to grow a baby I didn’t have any girlfriends to break down the details with and that felt a little lonely.

      Through both of my pregnancies, I haven’t come across any resources for the mental side of pregnancy, so I’d generally recommend therapy if it’s accessible to you.

    7. Generic Name*

      Books are great, but if you have anyone close to you with a baby, spending time around/caring for babies is really helpful. Caring for my own baby was much easier for me because I had lots of babysitting infants experience. Obviously, it’s not the same, but knowing how to change a diaper and having experience even for a short time with a colicky baby was really helpful for me.

    8. Ima Goodlady*

      The What to Expect app will update you every week about what your body is up to, what you might be feeling, what new symptoms might pop up and when/if they’ll go away, and has a section comparing the baby to various objects so you can visualize it which I loved. I didn’t use it before getting pregnant, but I think it does have information for people who are still in the “trying” stage. The articles are written to be informative without either minimizing or or over-emphasizing the various potential bad parts of pregnancy. And it’s so reassuring when you have a symptom that is just SO bizarre you’re sure everything is going wrong and the app says “nah, pregnancy is just weird”.

    9. Katiekins*

      And Baby Makes Three by julie gottman and John gottman talks about how a baby can affect a marriage/relationship, and how to navigate those changes.

    10. Jackalope*

      The one thing about the What to Expect series is that they do a certain amount of catastrophizing in a way that’s not always helpful. You might find them perfect, but just wanted to give you a heads up.

      I liked Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, and others. Also, The Birth Partner is a great book for your husband if he’s wanting to read up on the labor process, as well as post-partum.

    11. Numbat*

      Whatever you choose, get the most recent edition. Advice and medical knowledge changes over time and you don’t want to get told something incorrect! That said, take care in the US, the Australian author Robin Barker is having an ongoing battle with her US publishers over updating some incorrect and potentially harmful information in the US editions of Baby Love! Which is a wonderful book, and the one often given by midwives to other midwives when they have babies.

      I love this review:
      “My favourite book for new parents is Baby Love by Robin Barker, because the subtext clearly says, “I don’t give a crap what you do and I’m honestly sick of hearing your opinions, but here’s how you change a nappy, FFS.” At the same time you know the sheer joy of cuddly little creature s runs fizzing through her veins.’

      Karen Gould, grateful mother.”

    12. Random Dice*

      I found “Pregnancy Sucks” to be really helpful. It sounds negative but it’s more wryly humorous and countering cultural toxic positivity around pregnancy.

      It’s all the stuff that women who have had babies only tell you once you’re also having that problem (but many of us don’t share private details so may not know it’s common).

    13. Random Dice*

      I’d also consider marriage therapy, the kind that’s like a touchup rather than a repair.

      My marriage was really impacted by having a baby. It was a combination of the extreme sleep deprivation, lack of desire later in pregnancy and after the baby, and some of the common male feeling that the baby took over my time and sexy parts/impulses. I think a lot of men think about the pregnancy big boobs, imagine playing with the toys again, and don’t realize the sheer slog of having a kid.

      The marriage bounced back because it was already strong, but it took work. I’m not trying to inject negativity, but to help you be proactive, or realize this is something that can happen.

  29. Derp*

    My husband was diagnosed with anxiety in the past. It’s been several years since he received treatment. The treatment has helped reduce but not totally eliminate his anxiety. He’s generally able to cope but there are certain triggering situations where he just can’t see reality.

    Like the past month. As a family we are going through a stressful situation right now. Nothing tragic, just your normal family stress where a non-anxious person would be able to cope by eating lots of comfort food or whatever. But my husband has descended into a spiral of totally unrealistic fears. For example he vents that he can’t cope with Stressful Family Situation because of Issue X. When I gently organise support for him for Issue X he would say that won’t work because the underlying problem is actually Issue Y. If I arrange further support for Issue Y he would say okay but what about Issue Z, and so on. He also keeps stressing over highly unlikely situations. Even after I present him with evidence of why that’s unlikely to occur, he will repeat his fear and need to prepare himself for the worst.

    I am totally drained. I have a child with special needs and dealing with my husband’s anxiety is actually more exhausting. (Please don’t suggest therapy as he refuses and it’s not something I can force or even think about right now.)

    When he is catastrophizing, how do I point this out in a kind and respectful way? I would appreciate a good script because I don’t want to be patronizing like “honey you’re catastrophizing shhh.” But the reality is that a lot of the things he has done to “problem solve” are actually unnecessary because most of the “problems” are greatly exaggerated or just outright imaginary. It’s also hard that in his mind he imagines highly improbable disasters as highly likely, seemingly immune to all evidence to the contrary.

    1. Reba*

      I can relate to this and know it’s very hard. I wonder if you feel you can be totally blunt, kind and loving but blunt:
      “Honey, you are catastrophizing a lot lately, and it’s more than I can handle to try to manage the episodes along with Situation and Child. You are suffering and I am totally drained. I need you to try some steps to shore yourself up so you are not so vulnerable to these spirals that suck up both of our energy. Could you look back at some of the stuff you learned in therapy before and try it now?” + I love you and care about you etc.

      You can withdraw from doing the X, Y, Z disaster planning and focus your support on preventing getting into these spirals in the first place, reducing anxiety rather than responding to it if that makes sense.

      Your spouse’s situation sounds pretty heavy, I’m sorry you are both dealing with it. FWIW I think that while it is his choice to pursue treatment or not, you also have a choice of whether to live with untreated mental illness or not.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I need you to try some steps to shore yourself up so you are not so vulnerable.
        I think this is a key part–an aspect of being in a relationship is that you figure out how to not lean too hard too long. If rebalancing is not therapy for him, he needs to come up with something. Other than asking you to game out all the disasters.

      2. Derp*

        I have already disengaged as much as I can but the reality is that I can’t just switch off totally when his anxiety affects the rest of the family too. It’s been rough. Thanks for the sympathies.

        1. Not A Manager*

          What does his anxiety do to the rest of the family? I’m imagining someone who worries about house fires waking up the kids every hour for a fire drill.

          In your initial post, you talk about him “venting” about things and “saying” that this or that won’t work. If he’s mostly bugging you for reassurance, then I do think you can disengage. Have two or three back-and-forths about his worry (X to Y to Z), and then say, “I know you’re really worried about these things, but I’ve made all the suggestions I can think of right now.”

          But if he’s really exporting his anxiety onto the family in a way that’s harming them, then whether you say “shh,” or “get therapy,” or “shut up,” you do have to say something. He can’t manage his fears by making everyone else suffer.

        2. PoolLounger*

          I too have severe anxiety, and this really blunt approach is the only thing that really gets through to me in a bad mental state. If my partner told me, “Your anxiety has gotten so bad it’s actively hurting me, and you need to go to therapy/do x bc I cannot handle it anymore,” I’d do it! When my partner has tried to solve it, it just feeds the anxiety and lets me stew in it. Since it’s a long term relationship we have to compromise and handle it together.

      3. Samwise*

        Came here to say exactly this.

        I am in this same situation. I finally acknowledged that 1. I am not a mental health professional and I don’t have the tools to help him through, 2. I’m his wife and this kind of support is not appropriate for my role. 3. If I try to rescue him, I will have nothing for my child and nothing for myself.

        I’ve said these things to my husband and then added that, my observation is that he’s catastrophizing , which I understand is part of his illness, but it’s a part of his illness he can address. And that I have to step back when he’s doing it. I’ve bluntly said, I see that you are working yourself up, and it’s making me frustrated and angry, so I’m going into the other room/out for a walk. Please don’t talk to me about this, I can’t hear it any more

        Therapy: yeah, that’s what my husband felt too. After almost two years he was getting anxious because, he said, he’s not getting well and I would just leave him. I said, i love you and I will help take care of you, but I can’t take care of you if you won’t take helpful actions that you are capable of. Like seeing a therapist. Especially since the help you ask for and expect is the exact stuff a therapist is trained to do.

        Whew. Sorry, this became a lot of MeMeMe. Big hugs Derp. Please let go of what you cannot carry, it is such a heavy burden. Please take care of yourself.

    2. Emma*

      If he won’t go to therapy, what about therapy for you? I really like the psychology today therapist database and was able to find someone both covered by insurance and available via video so I could do it on lunch break.

      I wouldn’t say “shh” but I do think it’s good to say something like “Babe, this seems like one of those situations where you’re catastrophizing.” I don’t catastrophize on this level, but I do tend towards anxiety, and it’s helpful when my partner calmly points out that I’m spiraling.

      And I would also have a higher level conversation (at a time when he’s not in a panic) about this recent trend, how it’s affecting you, and what solutions he proposes to make things easier for everyone. You can’t make him change or get help. But you can tell him how it affects you.

      I’m sorry.

    3. fposte*

      I personally would lean toward not engaging with the substance of the worries. I’m shored up by evidence that reassurance doesn’t tend to help anxiety and can in fact make it worse, because it increases that drive for external relief; factually, though, it’s because I just feel like I’m being repeatedly grabbed at ferociously by somebody who needs to do more work on learning to stand themselves up. For me an unwillingness to go to counseling would be a deal-breaker–he’s engaging in behavior that’s hurting you and his child, and he’s not willing to work to change that. It seems like what’s happening is that because he’s not willing to do the work, you’re taking it on. That’s not tenable.

      So for you, I’d emphasize that what you’re doing in reassuring him isn’t actually helpful to him, even if it’s what he craves in a moment. Would he read a book if he won’t go to counseling, and would you recommend one to him? That would be the extent of my contribution. For him, I’d have a conversation when things are going well that this is out of your wheelhouse and you’re realizing that how you’ve been reacting isn’t good for him, you, or anybody else, so you’re going to [recommend this book and] disengage when he starts to perseverate. Then when it happens I’d go with a quick phrase like “Honey, this is going down a rabbit hole again. Try deep breathing or a walk; I’m going to go do [thing].” Then go do [thing]. Right now his anxiety is a fire that you’re walking into and the whole family is getting burned, and it’s not making the situation better for you both to suffer along with him. The best you can do is put up some firebreaks.

    4. Clara Bowe*

      Speaking as someone with anxiety (diagnosed and medicated for said), I third the blunt approach. You are the one who knows the context, so I won’t even try to suggest scripts, but for me a hard “You are spiraling. Stop and focus on getting out of the paralysis of action.” helps a lot more than a sympathetic ear to my venting.

      I’ve also got a coworker who catastrophizes stuff that could (and does) go wrong there, and I have found that agreeing, sure, that might happen, but it is not important RIGHT NOW, we need a RIGHT NOW action, and the future will happen no matter what helps drag them along. Might not work for your case, but a more matter of fact triage mentality might not be the worst. At least for right now.

    5. marvin*

      I empathize with your husband because I have similar issues, but I do try not to make it anyone else’s problem as much as I can. It sounds like this has been pretty rough on you both. What would likely be helpful to him is to have enough distance to be able to see when these patterns are starting to take over, but that might not be something you’re able to illuminate for him. When you’re on the inside of an anxious episode it can be really difficult to separate it from reality.

      I don’t know if he would be open to a bit of a thought exercise, but one specific thing that has been surprisingly helpful to me is to think of my anxiety as a little guy, I picture him kind of like Mr. Conductor from Thomas the Tank Engine and gave him a name. That way when I really start to get on an anxious tear, I can just picture my anxiety as this annoying-but-trying-to-be-helpful little guy following me around, and I can tell him to calm down and it helps. This might be a bit too goofy for some people, but it amuses me and helps lift me out of the anxiety spiral a bit. I know that some people find it more helpful to think of their anxiety as a mean person or someone they don’t like. It’s really about whatever helps you carve out a little mental separation between yourself and the unhelpful thoughts. If he hasn’t tried this, it sounds a bit wacky but it actually can be a useful practice.

    6. Generic Name*

      To be brutally honest, your husband needs some kind of treatment, period. If he chooses to not tend to his own mental health, you can’t change that. You can get your own therapy and ask for just the kind of strategies you’re asking about here, and you’ll have someone to talk about your own struggles.

      1. Random Dice*

        This. He may refuse therapy, but if it’s therapy and meds versus divorce, he may change his opinion.

        If not, honestly… you may need to protect yourself and your special needs kid, and have him be a less disruptive occasional co-parent visitor instead of a live-in spouse.

    7. sewsandreads*

      So I have OCD, which was initially diagnosed as GAD. I don’t know if this is of any help, but my therapist suggested that when I start spiralling, my partner gently reminds me using agreed-upon phrases. OCD is — from what I’ve read, it’s only a recent diagnosis — a doubting disease so I will typically be seeking reassurance to calm my brain down. Usually it’s “what am I/are you feeding?” if it’s definitely one of my compulsions, or if it’s ambiguous, he’ll ask how he can help me in that moment. For me, when spiralling it’s often just easiest to distract me with touch.

      Another thing my mum does with me if I call her mid catastrophe is tell me to pull out pen and paper, and gets me to write out all the catastrophes I’m thinking of. That’s it. It gets it out of my brain and almost forces me to think about it to best get it on the page.

      However — one thing that I want to offer as advice (which I’m sure is echoed elsewhere!) that you’re his partner, not his therapist. It’s often easy for us to rely on partners and family members, but they’re not trained to deal with things. And you’re dealing with life AND your partner and it’s massive. So, it might be worth phrasing it that way to him? Just as a way that may encourage him to seek out other helpful avenues for managing his anxiety. At the end of the day the only person who can fix us is… well, us. And being blunt is sometimes needed so we realise that it IS actually worse than we realise. Sometimes I like to kid myself into thinking my anxiety isn’t all that bad when it turns out it REALLY is.

      Best of luck to you, and offering support from this corner of the world to yours.

      1. Anon OCD*

        Yes, I have OCD too and it kind of sounds OCD-ish. I don’t know if this would help if OP’s husband is not in therapy but I wonder if OP could find some tactics in the worksheets on icbt[dot]online. Or if OP’s husband would be willing to read through them without going to therapy. They go over the logic of catastrophizing.

        I also wonder if OP’s husband went to an anxiety specialist before? Who does ERP. It’s super important to get the right help, because going to a non-specialist can make anxiety and especially OCD worse.

        Honestly, it’s really a struggle to find the line between enabling and supporting. What helps me so far is a) my friend/family member making a joke about how unlikely something is to happen and then changing the subject (but this works because I accept I have OCD and know it’s why I obsess) and b) being able to excuse myself to go sit and breathe and think through the logic of the obsession / spiral by myself in a place that feels safe (but this works because I have tools for this that I got from IBA/ERP).

        Maybe they can discuss things for him to do when he feels like he’s spiraling in general.

    8. allathian*

      I’m not suggesting therapy for him, but I think that you could benefit from it, because it could help you find a way to disengage from his catastrophizing.

    9. RagingADHD*

      So you are the parent of a special needs child, you have some particularly stressful situation going on in your life/extended family, and your partner is exhausting you with extreme and irrational needs for reassurance or other anxiety-driven behavior that is negatively affecting you and your child.

      I think if you and the people you love are going to come through this well, you need to hit the pause button on caretaking his emotions, and make sure *you* are getting rest, getting support, and getting your needs met.

      Maybe that includes therapy for you. Maybe that includes respite care or more help from family members for your child. Maybe that includes telling your husband that he has to find an additional person to talk to about his worries, because you can’t be the sole repository. Doesn’t have to be a therapist, but he needs to take some of that outside because it’s too much.

      Not to be unsympathetic, but (as I have had to tell my own husband on a couple of bad occasions) he is a grown man and you are his wife, not his mommy. You can help, and love him and support him. You can’t be in charge of coping with all his feelings for him.

      There is only 1 of you, and you are spread way too thin here. It’s okay to set a limit on how much you do for him. Loving someone unconditionally doesn’t mean you have to be all things to them, on tap, all the time, forever.

    10. Macaroni Penguin*

      My husband has done similar things in the past. When he’s spiraling, sometimes I (gently, kindly, firmly) say, “Beloved. You’re catastrophizing. We’ve gone through this ten times. I’m not going to feed the Brain Weasels anymore.” And then I disengage, sometimes by not continuing the conversation, leaving the house or sending Beloved out for milkshakes.
      Jedi hugs to you.

    11. Zzzzzz*

      With all due respect: you can’t point it out. You would be/are currently talking to his pre-fontal cortex but it’s his amygdala that is firing… and it can’t be reasoned with. There are special kind of trauma treatments that deal with the body to quiet those parts of the brain/neurons that are firing: somatic (insurance covered) or neurofeedback (gen not covered but more effective and perm changes to brain). Best of luck.

  30. Hmmm*

    I’m working on a fundraiser for an organization near and dear to my heart. I’m trying to think of new ideas for raffle baskets.

    If you were to bid on raffles, what are things you bid on and look for?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      My favorite basket win was from a local yarn store. It had a project bag, a few skeins of GORGEOUS yarn, a book, and some little gadgets like stitch markers and a yarn cutter, and a $10 gift card for the store.

    2. Clara Bowe*

      Best one I ever picked up was a 3-month membership to a local activity gym + a gym bag and a few water bottles.

    3. anon7557*

      Crazy flavors of sodas, like bubble gum and buttered popcorn. Really interesting foods that are a little off the beaten path. For me this could be pistachio butter, a fancy Mac and cheese mix, gourmet popcorn, candy from another country that would be hard to find, etc. Or, inspired by a discussion above, products from or gift cards to local, independent stores.

    4. Elizabeth*

      At the last fundraiser I attended for an organization (well-known zoo, with a lot of community support):

      1. gift basket for a local kitchenalia store that included a gift card for more purchases
      2. photographs of young animals at the zoo

      One of the most interesting ways that they raise money is to charge a small amount for a bidding number. If you have enough people signing up for a number, $0.25 adds up!

    5. Anono-me*

      Starter packs for new a hobby. For example a bird watching kit with a birders Bible, a book on local birds, some binoculars, a water bottle and trail mix. You might be able to get local shops to donate baskets, such as a learn to knit basket with everything needed for a beginner scarf project and a certificate for an intro lesson at the store.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I created a basket like that once. I had the book “Sewing School,” which teaches kids to sew, plus supplies for a couple of the projects.

      2. Hatchet*

        +1 for this, especially if it notes that it comes from a source who is an expert at the subject (“Al Llama is a veteran bird watcher and put together this basket with everything you need to start bird watching on your own”). Great if I want to start said hobby, awesome if it becomes a present for someone else with an introductory interest in the hobby!

    6. Elle*

      Not exactly a basket but I recently went to a fundraiser where a couple of volunteers walked around wearing aprons covered in gift cards. Highest bidder got the whole apron. It was very popular.

    7. Katiekins*

      Raffle baskets I’ve bid on: Bath and Body Works products (included back scrub brush and nail care kit); local food products (included bag of coffee beans and coffee thermos); ones that included a gift card to a restaurant I like.

    8. Double A*

      A recent event I went to that had an auction had a basket from a local museum. It included passes to the museum and a selection of stuff from their gift shop, including some children’s books. I ended up bidding on other things but I was very tempted.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      For raffles, I bid on things that are unique and not available elsewhere. These include experiences and artwork. Since people participating already care about the group, is there an experience that the organization can offer? If one of the staff there is an expert on something, can they offer a meal or a guided trip or a presentation for a group of friends with the expert? Maybe a special photo?

      The best item I ever got at a fundraiser was an item in a silent auction. Although it wasn’t related to the nonprofit’s mission, I was able to bring a group of friends to a bagel-making class. We all had a blast and had great food.

    10. Morning reader*

      Open-ended event tickets,, e.g. attend any concert this year, or for a particular event with special extras like backstage pass.

    11. Sunshine*

      I think an evening with friends basket. Maybe the local wine and paint person would offer an evening for a group. Or bringing a yoga teacher in for a private group. And then expand the basket with a good get to know you game and some snacks.

    12. E*

      What about a cheese board — nice cheeses, crackers, a classy jam like fig, some nuts, and even a cutting board and cute cheese knife depending on$ amount? Or a charcuterie board?

      Another idea – a stay home night package– nice blanket, cozy socks, a board game and or puzzle, tea or hot cocoa.

      Something that makes it easy for people to have a cozy winter night.

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      This might be specific to the organization, but when my kids’ daycare had a raffle, the most popular was a “Beer and Boardgames” basket and another one where one of the teachers would babysit for a couple paired with a restaurant voucher.
      Photography sessions are also popular

      1. EJ*

        Games! Tried and tested fun new games, especially if they have nice boxes. Add some soda and snacks to fill out the basket.

        Another one I bid on but did not win was a large assortment of fidget toys, I wanted that one so bad but got sniped!

    14. SeaCow*

      Being a kid of the 80s, I’d love a candy basket from my childhood. (Or other similarly themed baskets—90s, 2000s)
      Car basket—GC for gas, GC for car washes, car air freshener from bath and body works, mini kit to keep in car (tissues, first aid) car scraper (for cold weather states) or windshield shade, cell phone holder, etc.

    15. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Probably way too late, but hoping you see this anyway: A dog themed basket. Healthy treats, toys, bandana, Kong ball, etc. Some people have way too much stuff don’t want any more, but will spend on the pet or the grandpet, etc. Also, makes a great gift if they want to donate and pass it on.

  31. Curious*

    I’m not looking to get into this massive debate. We all have opinions of Harry and Meghan. I have to confess that I don’t agree with them often but that’s my opinion alone but am trying to keep an open mind. Their new book is coming out soon. This got me thinking. They’ve had the podcasts, the Netflix series, a book, etc. where do they go from here? I mean (again opinion) they complain about money, lifestyle, trying to do good, and celebrity/ privacy – how do you “top” this? I feel like after this book release there’s nothing more. Opinions for a discussion

    1. Derp*

      I think they will attempt to obtain more “new material” to sell from the royal family and update whatever platform they choose in the future. There will always be a market for celebrity family drama.

      However I don’t see how the royal family will maintain ties with them after so much dirty laundry has been aired. There was a news article awhile ago that the Queen politely refused to take private photos with M&H during their last visit because she didn’t want them to use the pictures for future publicity. Of course we as the public have no way of knowing how accurate this is. But that’s the likely reaction any normal person would have knowing their family member wants and needs maximum scandal for maximum profit.

      1. anonnie*

        Wow, that’s one theory. The other is that they’ve been subject to enormous racism and shittiness from his family and have been used to distract the media and public from William’s extramarital affairs and anger problem. Talking about the things that family is not supposed to talk about is a way of reclaiming their mental health so they can move forward in life. Good on them for talking. Also it’s not a sin to need money, the royal family has refused to pay for security for them and their children as a way to try to keep them in line, and they need a way to pay for that themselves.

        1. Derp*

          I’m a POC, minus the wealth and status and privilege of Meghan, so yeah I know a bit about racism and shitty behaviour including from family. I don’t question the royal family is racist. It’s possible to be a POC on the receiving end of racism and also be a shitty person yourself. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

          Of course it’s not a sin to want money. In that case I’d rather they just acknowledge that and stop this “we want to reconnect with our family!” nonsense. It’s not going to happen as long as you’re selling private stories and telling everyone how awful they are.

        2. RowanUK*

          Both sides are putting out stories about the other. Why is “William’s affairs” and “anger issues” more believable to you than the stories going around about H&M?

          None of us have any idea what really happened.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think a lot of us don’t have opinions on Harry and Meghan, and so skipped the podcast, interviews, books, etc. I believe I looked up the wedding hats on Vogue at the time because: When else do people wear hats?

      The one part where the pair intersected the zeitgist enough for me to care was to say that if you have strong feelings about Meghan’s doings but not Prince Andrew’s, that is not a good look for you.

        1. Derp*

          I agree Andrew has done much worse. I guess he’s accepted he needs to shut up and the media can’t keep publishing the same stuff over and over; whereas H&M are actively seeking publicity so there’s more printing material.

      1. Emma*

        It was definitely fascinating how little consternation there was over Prince Andrew (who seems SO shady and problematic!), and so much over whatever minor stuff was going on with Harry and Meghan.

          1. Clisby*

            Yes, I always had the impression Andrew was kind of dim, but clearly not too dim to shut up when it counts.

            1. fposte*

              He rather famously didn’t, given the Emily Maitlis interview and what a triumph he apparently thought it was. I think other people with a better sense of what’s good for him are shutting him up.

              1. Expiring Cat Memes*

                I can’t wait to see how the behind-the-scenes of the Andrew debacle gets dramatised in The Crown when they get up to that.

              2. Observer**

                I think other people with a better sense of what’s good for him are shutting him up.

                That seems to be pretty much what happened. He’s a total idiot as well as being a piece of trash. He’s been forced to shut up and a lot of his access has also been turned off.

          2. Emma*

            But it doesn’t matter if he talks or not (and he has given interviews). He was an associate of Jeffrey Epstein, and has had multiple people say he’s pursued underage girls sexually.

            That’s way more awful to me than whatever it is people are accusing Harry and Meghan of (seeking publicly? Not know their place? Or similar).

            It shouldn’t matter if Andrew doesn’t want to talk about being accused of being a pedophile. It’s just horrifying in its own right.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Andrew is absolutely a horrifying monster, but since the Epstein stuff was made public, the family has basically told him to shut up, go home and stay home, in hopes the press will basically ignore him. And it’s mostly working.

              Harry’s talking, which gets more press, so it reads like the family is genuinely more upset with him, because what they want most is to not have anything said about them that they can’t control. What the public generally thinks, I have no idea. But it’s not surprising to me that the guy out there saying “I’ve never been allowed to say what I feel outloud and I’m gonna now” is getting more public attention than the guy who is being actively barricaded in.

              1. Random Dice*

                No actually the Queen and the entire palace actively shielded him from law enforcement. Every impediment they could throw up was thrown.*

                The palace closed ranks after the very lightest of hand slaps, but NOTHING like what one would do if they actually cared about justice for the underage sex slaves he raped.

                *https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/13/prince-andrew-epstein-sexual-abuse-investigation

      2. Irish Teacher*

        This is pretty much where I fall too, with a little bit of “none of us know what happens inside a family and there is clearly decades of stuff contributing to this, so I think it’s hard for anybody outside to judge based on what we hear.”

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think they are not the first young couple to distance themselves from a rich, dysfunctional family, and they won’t be the last.

      If you have one spouse who is a professional entertainer, and the other who was brought up & trained for a career of making personal appearances, it’s only natural that they would make their living through personal appearances and leveraging their celebrity.

      Once the hunger for scandal has run its course, I think they will probably settle into running the mental-health foundation they’re working on. This big splash is seed money, and once everything is established, it can be self-sustaining without needing constant public attention.

      1. Bexx*

        I agree with all this! I suspect Harry will mostly be a star at home dad who dabbles in paid speaking engagements, while Megan will get into documentary filmmaking or something along those lines.

    4. Your Computer Guy*

      Real Housewives of Buckingham Palace where they team up with the lesser known children/spouses of other European royal families.

    5. Emma*

      My guess is that they’ll probably continue their other interests, like humanitarian work and podcasts, etc.

      The stuff right now strikes me as them dealing with trauma and getting to tell their version of the story. Hopefully doing so will give them some peace.

    6. Stitch*

      I mean it makes sense. They’re trying to distance themselves and be financially independent from the royal family. Because of that fame Harry was born with he has particular security needs he had to budget for. How does someone in that position make money? TV interviews and tell all books.

      So the whole “why share?” Because he needs to make money and that’s easiest and most lucrative way of doing it.

      I just can’t fault him for that.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        This is where I land. When they decided to be “lesser royals” they lost their royal security detail. Now they have to pay for it themselves. His money from his mother wouldn’t cover that. So when someone offers them a lucrative deal, they take it so they and their kids have all the bodyguards etc. It’s not like he can just decide he doesn’t need it. He was born needing it.

    7. PoolLounger*

      I don’t see a problem with anything they’re doing. She’s an actress, he was raised to basically be a stand-in and do charity appearances. They’ll probably keep doing media and nonprofit stuff. I’ve seen people say, Harry left the royaks and now he’s making money off them, he’s a hypocrite. But that’s not how it works? Plenty of people write books about their horrible childhoods, their mental illnesses, and other things they’re escaping by making them public and making money off their stories. Harry may be rich, but he also had an incredibly dysfunctional family that people want to read about. People should be concentrating more on Andrew’s crimes than on Harry and Megan.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t see any problem with their making money, the whole point of being royal is visibility for hire. What else are you trained for? The only thing that surprises me is that family squabbles are interesting enough to be profitable. I also think it may be cathartic to just speak your mind for once instead of constantly having to put on an act. I don’t think it will go on forever, just long enough to feel heard and be well financed enough for security and independence. There’s an element of controlling the story too, which if you’re familiar with British tabloids is totally understandable. It’s also really refreshing to hear a royal say that primogeniture is not exactly a fair system, or one that’s easy for a child to grasp. It’s going to affect normal sibling rivalry.

    9. Bazzalikeschasingbirds*

      I believe Harry and Megan. The UK press are horrible (such as former Top Gear idiot who wrote about Megan). And there was three in the marriage with Diana not knowing for a long time. The Royals consider them a problem, but Prince Andrew is OK!?!. On the flipside I am happy Charles was finally able to marry Camilla. Harry and Megan are lucky they have money and can live anywhere they like. Harry doesn’t believe his brother and dad will listen, so it’s like read the book, here’s my side of the story. I’m more in offended by the public money spent on the Royals.

    10. londonedit*

      I’m utterly sick of hearing about it. This country has far bigger problems (like the fact that the government seems intent on systematically dismantling the NHS and removing the right to strike) and having Harry and Meghan on every front page is distracting from the real and serious issues we actually need to deal with.

      1. Random Dice*

        But but but she’s rude / too friendly, a scheming genius / idiot, and too casual / too scripted.

        Sorry, that was a long way to say “uppity black woman.”

  32. Professor Plum*

    Just curious, after Alison posted this week’s fabulous fan fiction, who started to read Hench? I got it out of the library and started it. Haven’t gotten very far yet, but am enjoying the world of temp working for supervillains! Anybody else?

    If you missed the post look for the post “this is incredible” on January 3, 2023.

    1. Stitch*

      I read Hench back with Alison had it on her weekly recommendation list. I’d highly recommend it as well. I don’t think it ends as well as it begins but it’s inventive and fun.

      1. Silmaril*

        I read it when Alison posted the fanfic link this week, and am glad I did.

        I agree, Stitch – it’s a fun book, the ending is less strong than the beginning, but overall an enjoyable read in an interesting alternative world.

    2. Mstr*

      I watched a TV show called “Powerless” where a company insured people against damages caused by superheroes/villains. Don’t know if there’s any relation but I recommend it.

      1. I take tea*

        This reminds me of a lovely little book called Monster Customer Service (my translation). It was full of short transcrips of people (or beings) contacting customer service and, for example, discussing insurance or how to feed your Cerberos.

  33. AnonForThisQ*

    I’ve been casually seeing a guy since mid-2018 (we are both over 50). He was in an open marriage that has since ended; I am divorced. In the beginning it was more conventional dating a couple of times a week, but with covid we agreed to be each other’s safe bubble and it became a regular routine of dinners at my place on Friday/Saturday nights (I cook) and occasional other meetups for practical things, like a monthly friend group gathering, or if one of us needs help with a household task that takes two people.

    I’m not a big sit-down-and-watch-TV-for-hours person, he is. And we don’t share a lot of the same interests (including for media viewing). He has made it clear he doesn’t want to step this relationship up to more serious, and after being in it some time, neither do I. This winter, suddenly, I am restless and wanting to do other things. Maybe because we’re also not intimate anymore, maybe because this is just long enough for things to go on this way. However, I don’t want to lose him as a friend. I’m typically still friendly with ex-partners and that feels right to me, as long as it’s right for him.

    He suffers from deep anxiety and a lets-figure-this-out talk would probably throw him into a tailspin for weeks, so I’m looking for ways to gently disengage. I started by telling him that tonight I’m NOT making dinner, I’m going on a local group’s moonlight hike (he would never, he eschews physical discomfort, and it is cold here). He didn’t even respond to that text.

    It all just feels so messy…our mutual friends know we are “a couple.” A bunch of his random stuff is at my house, such as the board games he now isn’t interested in playing with me (in favor of even more TV). And I’m still covid-cautious, so I have a hard time getting out in public with others (ergo the night hike – no viral exposure out in the fresh air).

    I’m not looking for advice, really, more just – does anyone else have a story of letting a relationship ebb to friends-only?

    1. fposte*

      The thing is, even if you want to be friends you still break up. It sounds like your current path is to hope for a stealthy breakup where he realizes that you’ve broken up without your having to say it. And if so I’m not a fan. Somebody being broken up with deserves to know that and ot make his own choice about whether he wants to be friends; personally, I’d advise him to take a couple of months break from you and then see if he still wants to be friends. It doesn’t sound like you need to figure anything conversationally, either; you want things he doesn’t, and you’d love to retain him as a friend if he’s feeling that, but the coupledom isn’t working for you so you’re calling an end to it. Personally, I’d be pretty disinclined to stay friends with somebody who wouldn’t tell me when they were done with the romance but strung me along.

      If you’re at all polyamorous, that’s a possibility here too, given a history that suggests his being open to it. But don’t take that as a route to avoid a breakup. If you’re done with this relationship romantically, you’re done. Let him go, tell the friends who think of you as a couple that you’ve broken up, and then go do stuff that you’ve been wanting to do.

      1. AnonForThisQ*

        Personally, I’d be pretty disinclined to stay friends with somebody who wouldn’t tell me when they were done with the romance but strung me along.

        Good point. Interestingly, that’s what I suspect he’s doing with me, and I’m not mad at all. I know how hard it is for him to discuss anything remotely novel or uncomfortable – he just freezes and retreats. If I initiate a conversation about next steps and ask if he’d like a break, his answer is going to be “I don’t know,” because that is his answer to every relationship question.

        at all polyamorous No, and I don’t intend to look for a new partner. I just want to break this pattern. Our current partner status isn’t intimate or deep. It’s pizza-and-movies-every-weekend-night-that’s-it. I’d like it to be less frequent and not an expected routine. Perhaps I’ll just start with that. Thanks!

        1. fposte*

          That seems reasonable. But I will reiterate that you don’t need to have a discussion about next steps; there don’t need to be questions for him to answer. You can just take them and let him know.

          1. AnonForThisQ*

            I talked to him last night (invited him for pizza/movie) and basically said “I don’t want to continue standing dates anymore and I feel like we’re in a different place now” and he just mildly agreed without getting the least bit excited. We’re carpooling to a trivia event this week but there’s just no expectation.

            He did talk a bunch about his anxiety/meds/mental health but just to say “this is all I think about, you’re not part of the equation.”

      2. Dancing Otter*

        If there used to be intimacy (that’s a euphemism, right?) and he doesn’t want that anymore, it sounds like he’s the one doing a stealth break-up.

        If I’m understanding you correctly, he just wants to come over, let you cook for him, and plant himself in front of your TV instead of his own.

        If that’s a fair description, what exactly is he bringing to this “relationship”?

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          This. He doesn’t want to “step up to anything serious”… he just wants a strings-free, surrogate wife who will cook for him / look after him and provide abstract company while he goes on about his usual business of watching TV. It doesn’t sound like OP’s wants, needs or desires are figuring much at all into his thinking.

          I agree with everything fposte said. All I would add is that it’s ok to not take on the emotional labour of worrying about his anxiety. Your sphere of control is being kind and respectful to him, which includes being honest and upfront about breaking up. He’s going to think or feel whatever he wants about it and nothing you say or do will change that. He may agree to stay friends, he may not, but how slowly or gently you break up with him will likely not influence that outcome.

          Time to prioritise your own needs, OP.

          1. Sunflower*

            I agree with this and honestly, would be very cautious of someone who has been in an open marriage yet panics at the slightest mention of uncomfortable conversation or answers ‘I don’t know’ to any relationship questions. Those things just don’t add up to work out to success and healthiness.

            Also…I’m having trouble understanding why you want to stay friends with this man? Maybe he is bringing something your life you didn’t mention but you don’t actually seem to enjoy his company/ don’t have similar interests so what would you be gaining keeping him as a friend? Just because you’ve stayed friends with ex’s in the past doesn’t mean your obligated- esp if he’s just a fine/OK person and not someone who enriches your life

            1. AnonForThisQ*

              I really do enjoy his company! I like hanging out with him. I just don’t want to be “partners” anymore. We talked about it though we didn’t get specific about the less-than-intimate details – I just said “I think we’re in a different place now, I like hanging out but I don’t want to do it every weekend,” and he totally agreed. No drama.

              He’s been pretty clear about what he can/cannot give to a relationship, for years, and for a long time what he had to offer was very appealing to me. That changed recently and I’m moving on, but not from the friendship.

              I sound like such a doormat here, lol. He never asked me to cook – I offered. It was fun until it wasn’t. I’m not telling the whole story here, it’s too long!

              1. Random Dice*

                I’m glad that the relationship that’s been over for a long time is now officially just friends. Good job handling it so well. Sounds like you just needed to write it out to realize what you needed to do.

    2. Comment*

      I would like to let my relationship ebb to friends-only, except that we’re married which complicates things. Like you, I would like to let the “couples” expectations fade and just keep the supportive friendship.

      Maybe fpost is correct that it’s difficult or unethical to do that. I feel that so many of my marital expectations have faded over time, this would just be another step in a long progression.

      1. Random Dice*

        Open marriage (“ethical nonmonogamy”) seems like your best bet.

        Look at Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. They were open for a long time, and now are married strategically / affectionately rather than romantically.

        If that kind of marriage is ok with both of you, that’s a great approach. It just can’t be done in secret.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I mean, there’s a lot of middle ground between “huge figure it out talk” and “gradually slip away until he notices”, and it’s also the kindest and most respectful option: just be direct and communicate how you feel/what you want. Maybe he’ll want to talk right away, maybe later, or maybe never, but you can’t trick someone into being your platonic friend by just continuing to date them without the romance/intimacy.

    4. Bazzalikeschasingbirds*

      Rip the band-aid off. He’s just coming over to watch TV, does it have a larger screen? You’ve been hinting, but he’s either clueless or does know and doesn’t care. You like to remain friends with exes, maybe not in this case. You like quiet and he likes noisy and he visits and turns YOUR TV on.

    5. Generic Name*

      I have a dumb and basic question. Why haven’t you said, “I’m not interested in a romantic relationship with you, and I’d rather we be friends. Specifically, friends who see each other for dinner out once a month”? (or whatever frequency you want) It doesn’t have to be a big smooshy conversation where you figure it out together as a [not] couple. He doesn’t have to agree with the breakup, but he does have to agree to being friends.

      That said, he’s coming to your house, so you get to tell him you’re busy [doing literally anything else than hang out with him] if you don’t want to see him. I know that in an ideal world you could just have a conversation and everyone would emerge happy and fulfilled with a new understanding of your not couple status, but that’s not going to happen. You need to set a boundary, either by telling him you are broken up, or decline his company when you don’t want it.

      1. AnonForThisQ*

        That ended up being the discussion we have, and we were in agreement. I didn’t say “we are broken up,” I just said “I think we’re in a different place now, do you agree,” and he did agree, and I said “I’m bored and restless with all the TV and I don’t want a standing date for this anymore, I have other interests, and I’ll let you know if I want to do a movie or something.” A mutual friend gave us a bunch of movies last week and I sent the memory stick home with him and said, “You can watch these without me.” No hard feelings, he just took it!

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I’m puzzled as to why you can’t just say all this simply, and why there would be any prospect of a “lets-figure-this-out” talk. There’s nothing to figure out; you already know what you want! He’s already told you he doesn’t want to progress to a more serious relationship, so why on earth can’t you state your position as well? I agree with fposte that it’s also more ethical and kind to let people know where they stand with you romantically, especially if you want to remain friends. A death by a thousand cuts where you unpick the expectation with each cancelled plan is harder on the feelings and wastes everyone’s time. I would not “ask” if he wants what you want, because that’s absurd – if he says no it’s not like you will suddenly want to give him dinners and television on a schedule again. I would inform him, rather than ask him, about what a friendship with you could look like, and then let his actions going forward be your reply; it’s okay if he “doesn’t know” on the day you tell him.

    7. mreasy*

      You’ve got to rip the bandaid off. If friendship comes later, it does – but letting things fizzle out in an attempt to “level down” to friendship smoothly is not going to work. And in fact, it’s more likely to irreparably damage any hopes for future friendship.

    8. Morning reader*

      Not exactly your experience, no, but I wonder if you have to do anything? Your intimacy has already faded so it appears that you are already friends-only, unless I am misunderstanding something here? So you don’t really have to say anything to him, just decline invitations or be too busy for your standing “dates” some of the time until they are at the frequency you prefer.
      You may want to put the word out to mutual friends, if that’s important, that you two are “just friends” now. I’m not sure it matters, though. If you often do things together, your friends may continue to perceive you as a couple. That might not be a problem if you aren’t looking for a new partner.
      My relevant experience? Broke up with a guy who was my primary partner when it just wasn’t working for me anymore. It didn’t go well, he was angry and felt blindsided, had various emotions including assuming it had something to do with another man (it didn’t.) we didn’t talk for several months. After about a year we we were talking again and started doing friend stuff. 20 years later, still good friends.
      Don’t discount the importance of friends who will help you with things that need an extra pair of hands, especially as we age and our friends start to die off. If you can manage it, stay his friend. I recommend avoiding the “breakup” talk, preferring the slow ratcheting down of regular visits, unless it becomes necessary.

      1. AnonForThisQ*

        That was what I felt like, and then a bunch of commenters here convinced me I was being cruel by not “ripping the band-aid off,” so I just gently suggested to him yesterday that I don’t want to do this weekly and that we’re in a different place now. He agreed and was not upset. I think he’s occupied with his lifelong mental health issues and as such cannot ever give to a relationship.

        I still like him as a person, like hanging out occasionally, just don’t want him as a partner. I’m ready to move on from the routine. He didn’t even seem surprised. Kind of an Eeyore.

    9. Kiki*

      I guess from my experience, it helps to have a conversation of some sort when one person realizes the relationship has transitioned to purely friendship. Sometimes it can seem mutual (oh, we just organically stopped being intimate and became just friends! No need to have a whole discussion!), but then a few months later one party tries to “spice things up,” thinking there had just been a bit of a dry spell.

      It doesn’t have to be a big conversation– it can literally just be “It feels like we’ve just become friends. That’s good by me! Let’s make our dinners monthly instead of weekly.”

      1. AnonForThisQ*

        THAT is why I decided to have this conversation – I don’t want him to change his mind and try to get back to a spicy situation. The spice is gone, for me. And I did say “let’s just see each other when there’s something I want to watch that you would also like,” which is a small spectrum. It was a 5-minute conversation and we moved on.

        He doesn’t even like food (long story) so he will not be unhappy that I stopped cooking. He won’t be happy, either…he will be completely neutral on this. He’s a bit of an oddball.

  34. Elle*

    I’m looking for new recipe website recommendations! I often use How Sweet Eats, Budget Bytes, Pinch of Yum and Half Baked Harvest. What else have you got?

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I like RecipeTin Eats. What I’ve made from there so far has been excellent, and the recipes have a very handy calculator to scale ingredients up or down.

      Happy Foodie is a website curated by Penguin with recipes from cookbooks they publish, so you’ll find a lot by famous authors without having to buy all the books (my favourites: Ottolenghi, Meera Sodha, Rukmini Iyer, Asma Khan).

      1. Cally*

        I love a lot of the recipes on smitten kitchen! The author tends towards putting a lot of story with the recipes, so if that’s not your cup of tea, be ready to scroll down

        1. E*

          +1. Also Minimalist Baker is good and more veggie-centered when you’re feeling a little carb’ed out from Smitten Kitchen

    2. thebeanmoveson*

      I like deliciously mediterranean, but we have a restaurant nearby that sells a lot of the ingredients.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      If you like baking, King Arthur Flour has a lot of recipes in their catalogs and on their website.
      Penzey’s Spices is another vendor with recipes on their website. I haven’t gotten a catalog recently.

      1. Rose is a roseis a rose*

        I have been making Montreal-style bagels from the King Arthur recipe and they are dangerously good.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      What’s Gaby Cooking, Sally’s Baking Addiction (not just baking), Alexandra’s Kitchen and once Upon A Chef.

    5. Missb*

      Kiwi and Bean! They have a lovely red lentil dal that has much deeper tastes than expected out of such a simple recipe.

      Lots of good stuff there.

      Not sure if anyone has mentioned The Practical Kitchen.

    6. Alex*

      Cookie and Kate! It’s all vegetarian. I’m not vegetarian but have enjoyed many of her recipes.

      Also skinnytaste. Terrible name. Great recipes.

      1. Elle*

        I’ve got a skinny taste spinach feta egg bake in the oven now. Hoping it’s good and that will be breakfast this week.

    7. Cendol*

      This is a little off-the-wall but I really like About to Eat’s “Andrew Cooks a Lot of One Ingredient” series. In each video, he makes several recipes that all use the same ingredient. He links the recipes in the video description.

      1. Wink the Book*

        I LOVE the peach/caprese salad he makes in the tomato video. No actual recipe, but you basically make a caprese salad and add a fresh, cut up peach. It’s amazing!

      1. Lcsa99*

        Another vote for Smitten Kitchen. We always look there first when looking for ideas or even specific recipies. They are always reliable.

    8. djc*

      Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
      Iowa Girl Eat (gluten free recipes)
      Once Upon a Chef
      Damn Delicious
      A Spicy Perspective
      Ahead of Thyme
      The Country Cook
      Spend with Pennies

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      A lot of my new standbys are from Smitten Kitchen. It reflects the way I eat, which is that vegan and vegetarian are normal in the dinner rotation but we also eat some meat.

    10. Elle*

      BTW if you are like me and obsess over cooking websites check out Foodie Crush. Great recipes and every Friday links to recipes at other sites. I’ve found a lot of good recipes that way.

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      I’ve found the Washington Post’s Voraciously column really great for simple practical weeknight ideas. I also like the NYTimes cooking website. Though i realize the paywall might be a barrier for some.
      A Man with A Pan and Dad Cooks Dinner are also really reliable

    12. Bexx*

      Another rec for Smitten Kitchen. But my stalwart is Serious Eats, especially anything by Kenji.

    13. Ron McDon*

      I’m coming to this Kate, but Kitchen Sanctuary has given me new ways to cook old favourites, and some dishes I’d never cooked before but which have become new favourites!

    14. Squawkberries*

      Serious eats. Love the science on how things work and the instructions tend to be more specific / detailed which makes them easier to follow.

  35. slowingaging*

    I was given a bottle of aged soy sauce. What can I make that will make this the center of a dish, to show it off?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Is this a Very Old Indeed syrup-y kind of soy sauce, like an aged balsamic vinegar? If so, I’d use it as a finishing sauce, drizzling a little over roasted veggies or tofu dishes or whatever.

  36. Lcsa99*

    The last few weeks have been really stressful, so I could use some good jokes. I’ll start with one I literally dreamed a couple months ago (my brain is weird, ok).

    What did Mr. Old Spice say to Mrs. Old Spice when he saw her naked? *whistle the old Spice theme*

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      There once was a lion who was the kindest, gentlest animal around. Everyone loved him. One pair of birds loved him so much that they built a nest in his mane. He thought this was great until the baby birds hatched and the chirping was keeping him up at night. He was exhausted and he didn’t want to say anything to the parent birds because he was the nicest, kindest lion ever. So he went to the wise old owl and asked for advice. The wise old owl told him to get some yeast and sprinkle it in his mane. The lion privately thought this was ridiculous, but he was the kindest, nicest lion ever, so he didn’t say so. He bought the yeast and dutifully sprinkled it in his mane. A few hours later the parent birds took their babies and left and the lion got the best night’s sleep he’d had in weeks. He was delighted and amazed. He went back to the owl and reported the success and said “I don’t understand! Why did that work?” The owl smiled sagely and said “Yeast is yeast and nest is nest and never the mane shall tweet.”

    2. cleo*

      What’s the difference between a hippo and a Zippo?

      A hippo is really heavy and a Zippo is a little lighter.

    3. GlowCloud*

      A Buddhist monk goes to the pizza shop and says “Make me one with everything”.
      The pizza guy takes his $20 and hands him the pizza.
      “Hey, where’s my change?” asks the monk.
      The pizza guy smiles serenely and says, “Change comes from within.”

    4. Squeebird*

      Why is it impossible to tell when a pterodactyl is in the bathroom?

      The “p” is silent. :)

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      What’s the difference between a dirty old bus stop and a lobster with breast implants?

      One is a crusty bus station the other is a busty crustacean.

    6. Double A*

      I recommend looking up the “Punhubonline” account on Instagram. It had really ridiculous dad jokes illustrated with stock photos and it consistently makes me chuckle at its clever stupidity.

      Also putting in a plug for just watching “Airplane.”

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh, similar to your Old Spice jingle joke:

      What are Mario’s pants made of? *game melody* denim denim denim!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      How do chickens communicate? Fowl language.

      What do you call a frozen cephalopod? Cool-amari.

      What did the fish say when he ran into a wall? Dam.

      What is a seal’s best subject? ART ART ART.

    9. Your Computer Guy*

      What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?
      Nacho cheese.

      What do you call a nosy pepper?
      Jalapeno business.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      What is the difference between a comma and a cat?

      One is a pause at the end of a clause and the other has claws at the end of its paws.

    11. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thanks for asking this question! It’s a public service to share good jokes.

      Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side.
      Why did the turkey cross the road? Because the chicken had the day off.
      Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because chickens hadn’t been invented yet.

      Long ago a coworker and I had a running series of customized “Why did the chicken cross the road” jokes based on our current workflow. Examples: Why did the chicken cross the road? To finish the XYZ report, proofread the monthly fundraising letter, etc., etc.

      You could customize answers for family or other current events. Examples: “Because it’s time to get ready for bed;” “Because he needed to go grocery shopping;” “To get into the car and go meet Aunt Amy at the train station;” etc.

    12. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      Fellow walks into the pet store and sees a gorgeous parrot with a tag for $10. “What’s the deal with the parrot?” he asks the owner.

      “Ten bucks, no refunds,” the owner says.

      Guy thinks a moment and figures he’s spent $10 on worse things, so he buys the parrot and takes it home. Parrot barely utters a peep on the way home and is even more taciturn once they get there. The guy figures it’ll take a bit to warm up to its surroundings and starts talking to it. “Polly want a cracker?”

      Parrot looks at him and says, “Bleep you, you bleeping bleeper.”

      Guy is naturally shocked, and tells the parrot he doesn’t permit such talk in his household. Parrot doubles down, getting louder and more obscene as the argument progresses. Guy finally has enough and, lacking a better idea, stuffs the parrot in the freezer. Parrot takes extreme offense to this and enters into new territory in terms of obscenity, but suddenly falters and stutters into silence.

      Guy is worried he killed the parrot, so he opens up the freezer and the parrot is standing there looking very meek. “I apologize for my previous behavior, sir, and would very much like to be a positive part of your household and a source of entertainment and amusement for years to come if you’ll only forgive me.”

      Guy says all is forgiven and puts the parrot back on its perch, then turns around to go get the poor bird some food and water.

      “Can I ask a question, though?” the parrot says.

      “Sure thing,” the guy replies. “What’s up?”

      Parrot looks a little worried, and asks, “What did that chicken do?”

  37. authorPageQuestion*

    I’ve got a new domain from GoDaddy and want to create an author page. I know html and JavaScript reasonably well, so I’m not sure I need WordPress. I’m trying to figure out a low-cost option where they host my site. Suggestions? Thanks!

    1. PollyQ*

      Google Blogger is still around, still free, and you can use your own domain name with a site on it.

    2. atexit8*

      Depends on what you consider low-cost.
      I use Pair.com; I have been a customer for 20 years or so.
      $7.95/month

      GoDaddy also has website hosting.
      Theirs is $6.99/month if you sign up for 12-months.

    3. Observer**

      You don’t NEED WordPress, but it’s easy enough to use that it can make sense if you are more interested in getting your content up, than tweaking your code.

      WordPress actually has free hosting, so that’s one option.

      I noticed that someone mentioned Pair. I agree with that recommendation if they are in your budget.

      I’m not a fan of Wix and the like. If you want to use your own domain name, you have to pay anyway. And it’s very hard to move your site because everything is custom to Wix.

  38. hermionegranger*

    I have a friend in her early 40s and a virgin. She has had one serious relationship that lasted 1 or 2 years I think in her late teens. After that she has not had any relationship or dates, some of those years by choice other years not by choice. Now she describes herself as single not by choice.

    She has been working as a career coach but wants to become a sex/relationship therapist. My initial gut reaction was ummm what? How can you be a sex therapist when you’ve never had sex? But then again I’ve taken my kid to highly competent child psychologists who’s never had kids and didn’t think about it twice. So maybe I’m being unfair?

    Wondering what other people’s thoughts are? Would you find it weird to see a sex and relationships therapist who’s never had sex and hasn’t been in a serious relationship for most of their adult life?

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      If I went to this person and I didn’t know up front that they’ve never had a relationship, I’d be so upset like I got bamboozled.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Same. It’d be like going to a career coach and finding out that they went straight from college into career coaching without actually having had a career themselves. How much would you trust advice that’s all based on academics and theories with zero filtering through life experiences..?

        That aside, I agree with the commenters below who point out that friend’s motivation here doesn’t sound entirely healthy.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I think it’s as absurd as (supposedly) celibate Catholic priests giving marriage advice, personally.

    2. Turtlewings*

      I guess it’s not fair to say as a blanket statement that someone like her could never be a sex/relationship therapist, but I admit it would give me a lot of pause. To contrast it to the child psychologists — although they haven’t had children, they’ve BEEN children, which might be more important. Whereas your friend is more like someone who has only ever heard of children from secondary sources. I would have… doubts.

    3. Double A*

      I used to think I’d never go to a male OBgyn. But then I got assigned one for my first pregnancy, and he was great. And I had to go to a male gynaecologist for an urgent issue, and he was a young man in training and he was one of the best doctors I’ve ever been to. Sometimes not having firsthand experience gives makes you more empathetic, because you have to actually listen and understand someone else’s situation instead of assuming it’s just like your experience. Like, I would assume a monogamous sex therapist could help work through issues with a polyamorous relationship. Or a gay therapist could counsel a straight couple.

      Tl;Dr, I think there are more important factors to being a good X service provider than having firsthand experience with X.

    4. Despachito*

      Yes, I’d definitely find it weird and not trust such a person.

      On second thought, Catholic priests who are single by definition, do some sort of marriage instruction all the time. I would not trust this either.

    5. AGD*

      I’d be inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. Hard to know exactly what’s going on here, but it’s possible that someone could be asexual but very intellectually interested in how other people have sex (that bizarre thing that everyone else finds so wildly compelling!). No sex therapist will have done everything their clients end up asking them about.

    6. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I don’t know anything about sex therapy but I do know that relationship therapists are often uncoupled/unmarried. There are specific modalities of therapy and they are learnt clinically/ academically. She will have observed relationships over the years, which often has more value than the relationship you are in anyway therapeutically.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think your friend just really wants the opportunity to think and talk about sex and relationships a lot, and she should probably work that out with her own therapist instead of trying to get her needs met by clients. That’s not just weird, it’s very dysfunctional.

    8. 1LFTW*

      The thing that weirds me out about this is that your friend self-describes as “single not by choice”. In other words, she’s unhappy with her relationship status, and possibly her sex life too. Does she think she can “fix” those things somehow by becoming a sex and relationship therapist? Perhaps on an unconscious level?

      Because that’s a recipe for mess right there, and I very much hope that she decides to work through it before embarking on this career change.

      Thing is, though, that clients aren’t supposed to know much about their therapists’ personal lives. I don’t know the relationship status of either of the couples counselors I saw with my ex. None of the therapists I’ve seen over the years have mentioned their sex lives AT ALL. They aren’t supposed to; it’s a huge boundary violation.

      So in theory, your friend could become a sex and relationship therapist, and her clients would never know that she’s never had sex or even dated as an adult. I just can’t imagine she’d be good at it until she makes peace with her own relationship status.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I agree. I think if someone had come to the realization that they are asexual or aromantic and had chosen to become a relationship therapist, I wouldn’t have as much concern about it. I wouldn’t be concerned to be counseled by a priest or a nun if I were sexually active, or by a polyamorous person if I were monogamous. But someone who is single not by choice, who maybe wishes she were having some kind of relationship or sexual experience that she’s not having – this troubles me.

      2. Kiki*

        Yeah, 1LFTW’s first point stood out to me as well. If she’s a close friend, I might ask what inspired her to want to pursue this path.

        I would be weirded out if I saw a sex or relationship therapist and found out that they had never had sex or been in a relationship. As 1LFTW noted, there wouldn’t necessarily be a way for me to find that out as a client, though.

        I guess priests do give pre-marital counseling when they have never been married? But I guess I don’t know how effective folks find that sort of counseling.

    9. Irish Teacher*

      I am asexual and therefore have never been in a relationship, so probably not the best person to reply but my immediate thought is that I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with a sex and relationships therapist who has never had either, but the specific sitution you are describing does give me pause, as this is not a case of somebody who studied psychology in college and had a particular interest in issues relating to relationships or found they were particularly good at that area but who had not yet had a relationship themselves or somebody aromantic asexual who was a psychologist or therapist for years and found that their lack of personal experience in this area actually meant they could approach it in a neutral way that they found more difficult when talking about relationships like parent-child and decided to specialise in that.

      This specific situation would concern me for a few reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t seem like she has ever really decided what she wants from a relationship or been able to make a relationship work, so I would wonder at her ability to help others do so. (Obviously, there are valid reasons why somebody might choose to be single in their 20s and 30s and then find it difficult to meet the right person when they do choose to look for a relationship, but it would still give me pause.)

      The other reason is that it sounds a bit like she might be almost trying to make up for her own lack of a relationship by counselling others about theirs.

      I think I’d be less concerned about the fact she hasn’t had a relationship or sex and more about the fact that she has spent most of her life in a situation that she is unhappy with and yet wants to counsel others about being happy and mutually supportive in a relationship. Especially as she is identifying as being specifically displeased with her situation (which combined with this choice of career makes it sound like she might be fixating on it a little). I think I would be equally wary of somebody who had spent the last twenty years in a relationship with which they were becoming increasingly unhappy but had no intention of leaving because they didn’t want people thinking their marriage “failed.”

      Obviously, therapists and so on have their own problems and I don’t think that people need to have the perfect relationship to counsel on relationships, but if you have never really had the situation you say you want and you’ve gone back and forth for years about “I want to be single,” “no, I want a relationship,” then I think maybe she might need to figure out her own situation and feelings a bit before advising other people.

      1. Random Dice*

        I just think so much about sex and relationships has to be experienced. I was a virgin till very late, and now have a good bit of sexual and relationship experience. Without experience, I would have given crap advice / not had insight to guide a discussion. Even now, I’d want education and training to take on that kind of a job.

        So no, I don’t think someone ace can be a good sex coach, and I don’t think a virgin can either.

    10. Morning reader*

      I recall a recent (within the last year, maybe?) Dan Savage podcast where he interviewed a sex therapist. (Not a surrogate, talk therapy type.) I recall there being several years of training involved. It doesn’t seem, in the surface, that she’d be a good candidate. I think you have to be a licensed therapist first, then there is a year or two of additional training. If there is interest, I could dig for it. Pretty sure it was a magnum podcast so it might be pay to listen. I think it would be a good resource for her.

    11. What Is Sleep Even*

      My perspective is similar to IrishTeacher’s.

      If she’s realized that she’s interested in intimate relationships as a field of study (vs. a personal hobby), then it might be fine? People are interesting in the abstract, and she could have a dozen relationships without running into every scenario she’d encounter in practice.

      But if she’s trying to pivot her anxieties/preoccupation into a career, then it seems unlikely to go well.

      I don’t know how regulated relationship/sex therapists are, but my gut feeling is that more school/supervision would be better in this case.

    12. shaw of dorset*

      So as a 33 yo who’s also never had sex I may not be to be trusted on this (/s)

      But I figure therapists learn their advice etc from classes or books rather than just personal experience?

    13. marvin*

      I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in a therapist, but it doesn’t really seem odd to me. I don’t think my therapist has ever brought up her own experience in a session, and a lot of the issues I see her about are things that I know she hasn’t experienced firsthand. I actually know almost nothing about her personal life. Maybe your friend is motivated to provide the kind of help for others that she wishes she could have received.

    14. MissCoco*

      I think you can be a sex/relationship therapist without having sex or being in a relationship, assuming one’s had the appropriate education and training. Who knows, by the time she’s done with training, this may not even be an issue.

      I think I’d be mostly weirded out if a therapist announced any specifics of their sex life, unless it was relevant to a conversation we were having. But I don’t think not having had a certain experience should keep you from doing therapy around that issue. There are single relationship therapists (and probably even some effective relationship therapists who are themselves in bad relationships) Who knows, maybe it will make her less effective than someone else, but maybe it won’t.

    15. Roland*

      Child psychologists went to school though. And studied things that you would not learn just from being a parent. Since your friend is working as a “coach”, it doesn’t sound like she has those kinds of credentials. Either experience or credentials are required to charge money for advice imo.

    16. Ampersand*

      I don’t know the specifics of sex therapist training/coursework, but if it’s anything like becoming a social worker or licensed counselor, she may be required to attend therapy as part of her training. That would be a good thing in this case, I think. Her desire to be a sex therapist combined with being single *not* by choice is the part that would concern me. It sounds like there’s something going on that should be addressed before she can effectively help others.

    17. Sintieron*

      I know someone who became a life coach, instead of getting therapy for her many issues that impact every aspect of her life. She’s a lovely person and just doesn’t see that she NEEDS help, instead of being able to GIVE help.

  39. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

    I used to work in an organisation that employed psychologists straight from their studies, primarily choosing petite young (blonde) women who were still living at home with their parents for economic reasons etc. Somewhat of a Stepford wives look about the team! I don’t doubt they could be compassionate and thoughtful. However their experience o