weekend open thread – March 18-19, 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: Vintage Contemporaries, by Dan Kois. This is about friendship in your 20s and how it changes as you get older and try to figure out where you fit in the world. I loved, loved, loved it.

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

{ 761 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion — think dinner party or office break room — and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. Sloanicota*

    What do you think are reasonable guidelines in a friendship (just friendship) between a single lady and a married man? My general rules are A) You shouldn’t say – via text, email, in person, whatever – anything you wouldn’t want their partner to hear you say. B) You should respect their partner and understand that relationship is their priority. I am (F) am confident in my ability to remain good friends, but I’m aware you can never be positive what the other person is thinking, and on top of that, the partner could also be uncomfortable even if there’s really truly nothing going on. Thoughts?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I think it’s weird to treat this specific dynamic differently than any other friendship combination, and having special rules for it implies there’s a reason why special rules are needed.

      1. e*

        Disagree! And I think a little disparaging of you. It would be nice to live in a world where gender and other norms dont matter but I think Sloanicota is being realistic and considerate to think about this. That said, I don’t have much to add for what you’re already thinking of, OP!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          The guidelines are considerate and reasonable, I just don’t think gender or marital status should affect them! It would make me SUPER uncomfortable if I knew one of my friends had a special set of rules for interacting with me compared to their other friends, and it would make me question their feelings/opinion about me.

          1. Strong Aroace Vibes*

            I’m wary of this sub-thread devolving quickly, and so I’m not sure I’ll come back to reply further, but I think it’s worth mentioning that as someone who appreciates close friendship in the sort of way that women can be friends, but who has historically been read as male, it is very clear that women interact with me very differently than with other women. Now coming having come to a nonbinary identity, the shift is noticeable, both in meeting new people (who now are more likely to read me as a queer person), and even in interacting with (female) friends who have known me a long time, and who don’t see me being personally any different, but yet have recategorized the “rules” for our friendship.

            I felt like it was important to share my experience here, because in my experience, in cross-gender situations people do very much have different rules for interacting with me compared to their same-gender interactions. There are reasonable historical and cultural reasons for this, but it is a sore spot, and however much it is my greatest wish that there were not different rules for me compared to other friends, that’s not the world I (we?) live in–it really is a thing, at least in the straight world!

            And so my only suggestion for the OP is to see if it helps to think about how queer people would be friends, on queer norms where gender isn’t as important, and where anybody might plausibly be attracted to anybody else. For me that provides the solutions, but it’s not always simple (and can require a straighforward conversation) with people who are parsing your friendship on a straight-norms framework.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              That sounds really hard, I’m sorry. I also wish for the same world, so add my wishing power to yours. I’m just not sure that thinking about it in terms of ‘anyone could be attracted to anyone’ is enough for women interacting with men. Because I have tried that, like most really young women using common sense and got stuck in some scary, physically unsafe situations as well as having my trust betrayed and my friendship dismissed. You’re playing defense against Schrodinger’s jerk so often. It’s not just a case of being sensible when you get a crush but of constantly having your friendliness misread as flirting because that’s “what women are for”. If you’re funny, you’re not just cool, you’re “playful” and all that other stuff. A woman isn’t doing anything wrong if she doesn’t treat men differently, (there’s a reason we want to be friends with men), but it’s very brave.

          2. AA Baby Boomer*

            I agree. If the individual’s spouse is aware, and not-threatened by the friendship, go for it. Too many times when a single and married individual become friends; there is emotional cheating going on. Especially if they are sharing complaints to the other regarding their relationship. Sometimes there is a “unbalance” in the friendship allows one to complain & share confidences about their partner that it puts the focus upon the complaint, versus the individual discussing the concern with their partner. I would be horrified to meet “my husband’s” confident at the office picnic or softball game, knowing that they know intimate details of my marriage; or to find out after I met this person; that my partner had shared intimate details with them. By the way, having shrimp and cocktails with this person, you can understand why your partner likes them, only to find out over cocktails or pass the ketchup that they know I don’t clean the bathroom, snore in my sleep, urinate when I sneeze, and the worse how our sex life is good or bad, that my partner finds my XXX lacking.

            1. Despachito*

              But these are things that your husband should not reveal to ANYONE, including his male friends. It is betrayal of intimacy, and if he feels the need to tell someone there is something seriously wrong either with him or with the relationship.

          3. Ellis Bell*

            In one very important way, you’re right; it’s not difficult or special to be strictly platonic. If you’d ever been on the receiving end of an inappropriate friendship as the spouse though, you would be hyper aware of how respectful you’re being of the relationship; but to go back to the point about you being right, you’d find it’s not at all that difficult! There are people though, who treat friendships as not strictly platonic, with a slim chance at being potential relationships and I do think in those cases, they need to change those habits for people who aren’t single. There are also people who treat friendships as superlative to relationships in a ‘we are besties and all romantic relationships are subject to our joint approval and incidents in them become conversational autopsies’ and I don’t think that’s appropriate either.

        2. JSPA*

          the question starts with the assumption that, unless specified, everyone is straight (or bi, I suppose?). And that “marriage” is one straight (or bi) guy married to one woman. And that they’re obviously monogamous. And that it’s an outsider’s job to help men stick to their marriage vows, not tempt men, and not threaten those men’s partners. And plenty of assumptions about default culture. And that marriage (the legal or religious contract) sets up rules that don’t apply to other partnerships. (Without those assumption this is nonsensical question.)

          Within those boundaries it can be a perfectly legitimate question, I guess? But I don’t think the rest of us enjoy being completely erased, in the process.

          The rules, ” Don’t say in private what you wouldn’t say in public” and “don’t say to a person what you wouldn’t say to their dearest family” are pretty good default rules if you’re talking about a person and their mother! Two neighbours! Lesbian partners who don’t have a marriage license! Someone who would never be into you sexually! Your ex, who is in a new exclusive relationship with someone enby! Your “free love” third cousin and their polycule!

          IMO, if you’re in the mental space where you are having to create rules to put guidelines around your interactions…you’re already pretty emotionally invested…or already suspect that they are… and you should maybe dig into that a bit, rather than gathering rules.

          And if someone is spending significantly less time with people they are committed to (and who miss them) and more time with somebody outside, who offers all of the fun and none of the harder relationship planning and maintenance conversations… well, whether or not it’s driven by limerence or general escapism doesn’t necessarily matter to the person who’s sitting home with dinner getting cold and 5 vague texts about why their [person] is being further delayed.

          Honest (agreed upon) sex on the side can be less disruptive (and suck a lot less time) than an “endless crisis” friend, a “they’re just lonely” friend, a drinking and sports and more drinking friend, a “we are each others’ muse” friend.

          “be mindful that there are only 24 hours in a day” and “step back from the edge” and “don’t do emotional labor for people who are not returning the favor” are all good general guidelines in life, Regardless of the genders, orientations and legal contracts involved.

          1. allathian*

            I just think it applies to all significant relationships in a friend’s life, regardless of the gender of the people involved. Marriage isn’t the key here, the assumed commitment is. Many of my friends live or have lived with their SOs without being married, even if most of us, myself included, ended up marrying our SOs.

            I was a late bloomer, in middle school and most of high school I actively avoided contact with the boys, not that they were particularly interested in me, either. I relaxed a bit in my senior year, thanks largely to joining the drama club. In college I had a number of male acquaintances and a few male friends, including some FWBs when I wasn’t in a serious relationship, but all of them have disappeared from my life. My husband has never had any close female friends.

            The closest thing I have to a male friend is a close (married) coworker. When he first started I had a slight crush on him, but I got past it fairly quickly. He’s never been at all interested in me and that’s just as well. We’re friendly and talk to each other about more than just work stuff, but that’s it. My husband has female coworkers he’s friendly with, and neither of us is paranoid enough to get the least bit jealous about those.

            I like my husband’s friends well enough, and their SOs as well, but they aren’t my friends and I don’t seek them out. It’s just that I’m happy enough to chat with them if we see them. My husband feels the same about my friends, although he’s quite friendly with my bestie’s husband, at least partly thanks to some shared history. My bestie’s husband used to work with one of my husband’s friends. Both of us were the perpetual singles in our respective circles, and they introduced us. But our friend circles aren’t enmeshed, so if my husband and I broke up (unlikely but I guess you never know), there would be no divided loyalties, and I really like it that way.

            I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by not having any male friends. Except some potential drama, I guess. If you can maintain a completely platonic friendship with a person of the/a gender you’re attracted to, congratulations. I just know that when I was single and in college, most of my friendships with men failed either because I had an unrequited crush on them or because they had one on me. The successful ones turned to FWBs, for a while at least, until one of us started dating someone else exclusively and the friendship ended. I’ve never been able to go from an FWB to a platonic friendship.

            At this point in time I’m not looking for new friends of any gender, I barely have enough social capital to maintain my current friendships.

      2. Pie Dough Princess*

        I agree. I think if you feel the need to do this, there’s already a problem. It may just be in the way you think about it, but something’s hinky. I don’t want to be friends with anyone who’s setting rules like this based on my relationship status, I would find that deeply unsettling and weird. You’re not someone I want to be friends with if you think this way.

        And that’s OK! Someone like this probably wouldn’t want to be my friend either.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Are you friends with his wife? If so, why not? Not saying you should be bff but she should be comfortable with you as a person. And if he’s hiding things from his wife that’s a red flag for you and her.

      My husband’s best friend is a woman. I love her, she and I are friends too, but not like they are. I’m not the jealous type and I trust him and her. But I also know they both love and respect me.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s funny that you say that, I used to have a rule that I had to know the wife. In this case, I don’t know the wife and I think that’s why I’m looking for other guidelines. I’ve suggested we all go out to dinner sometime. I agree him being actively opposed to this would be at least an orange flag.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I think that’s a decent rule. I’m not saying you have to hang out on the reg with her, and braid her hair, but it should be fine for you to at least meet and cross paths. I’ve been on the receiving end of way too many guys who go “I’m married, so we can be just friends!”… and then it gets ick. In all cases they a) complained about their wives and b) I was never ever supposed to meet this monster.

        2. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

          Another rule is that he should not say/text/email anything his wife wouldn’t want to have him say to you. If he ever starts telling you personal things you shouldn’t be hearing, it is an indicator that he is not viewing your friendship the same way as you are, and you should consider walking away.
          Also, if you haven’t already, you should at least meet his wife, sooner rather than later. You don’t have to be friends, but she should know you exist. If she doesn’t know about you, and he’s not in a hurry to introduce you, it’s a definite red flag.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The idea that I should be expected to be friends with someone just because I’m friends with their SO is pretty yuck to me. Friendship is not transitive. My husband has a lot of friends I don’t like, and I don’t like most of my friends’ partners – so I don’t hang out with them. If that is a red flag to the partner, that’s not a me issue, that’s an issue for my friend and their partner to work out.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I do not mean that you need to be close with your spouse’s friends. Or any other permutation. But everyone should be aware the other parties exist. Being secretive about friendships is a red flag in any gender domination, I think.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Maybe, but there’s a difference between “everyone should be aware the other parties exist” and “Are you friends with the wife? If not, why not?” and I was addressing the latter.

            1. ThatGirl*

              And the answer to why not is “eh, we don’t vibe” sometimes. I 100% think married men and single women can be friends, but there are a lot of dudes who are secretly trying to creep on the single woman and complain about their wife. That is the dynamic to avoid.

      3. Tiny clay insects*

        My best guy friend is my ex. We were together for almost 5 years and bought a house together and had dogs. We are so much better as friends, and I know this wouldn’t be possible to maintain in this way if his wife wasn’t incredibly awesome herself (and she and I have become friends, too!). I could see a lot of new girlfriends not being cool with a close friendship with an ex, to the extent that we still shared our dogs. But she met me and she’s amazing, so it works. Their kids call me Auntie.

        And as someone mentioned above, although my ex and I are close, we never use our friendship as a place to talk abt our relationships with our spouses or to have emotional intimacy in place of our spouses. I think our spouses are happy we have each other as friends (for example, when one of our shared dogs was dying, my ex’s wife asked me to talk to him, because I could relate to him better abt the dog and he was struggling).

        I don’t know if any of this is useful or applicable in other situations, but given that one of my closest friends is a guy, I thought I’d offer my experience.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Yep. Agender bisexual, nonmonogamous single person here chiming in. I have two besties. One is a woman; one is a man. I have been best friends with the woman since I was 23–I am now almost 52. She was married when we met (and still is). I became best friends with the man roughly a dozen years ago. He was single at the time, then got married later in our friendship.

        I consider both of them closer than friends (but not the same as family), and I would do anything for either of them. Both are now on the East Coast, and I live in Minnesota. They have both come to visit me alone and I have gone to visit both of them.

        The attitudes shown in this thread (that men and women (but only men and women, apparently) can’t be friends or that you have to have special rules for different friendships is an anathema to me–and makes me really sad. I go to different people for different things because that’s human nature, but there is nothing I would not say to one or the other of my best friends.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          A lot of people watched When Harry Met Sally and thought it was a documentary, apparently. I literally had someone I’d only met once tell me that some of my most important friendships weren’t real because men and women can’t be friends. I wasn’t attracted to these guys so objectively that meant they had to be attracted to me. It’s a sad and creepy way to view the world.

          1. AGD*

            Captain Awkward has some commentary on this – I agree that it’s sad and creepy, but I think a lot of it comes from the cisheteronormative/patriarchal standards. A man and a woman cannot be only friends to each other if the woman is “supposed” to be the target and the man is “supposed” to be the pursuer.

      2. Lutheran wool socks*

        As a heterosexual woman I find them wacky too.

        I treat my friends as my friends and my partner as my partner and do not betray the confidence of either of them

    3. anon for this*

      I was in a very similar situation and the guy-friend and I decided that it would be wise to be careful for fear of scaring off his very quiet and timid new girlfriend. I kept my distance a bit for a while. It worked out: she got used to the idea that she did deserve to be in the partnership and gradually stopped worrying that I might be in the way (I was never into him that way, but I am much more outgoing and confident than she is). All worthwhile. They got married! :)

    4. gsa*

      Good Lord, all responses world wall of words.

      Single lady and married man, no. And the nothing via text or email, definitely a hard No.

      Friendships like any relationship should be organic.

      My wife has a work friend. I’ve met him. I’ve met. him once. I could already tell he’s a good dude.

      If you both keep your pants on, nothing bad will happen.


      ps: ask me how to me married for nearly 28 years. The answer is simple.

    5. RagingADHD*

      It’s been a long time since I was single, but I can tell you hand on heart that it never occurred to me to need rules. Nor do I think they serve much purpose.

      Any rule can be rules-lawyered. Every emotional affair, and a great number of physical affairs, start with two people totally convinced that they haven’t “technically” done anything wrong (yet), because they haven’t crossed some arbitrary line. They’re just running right up to the edge of the line and leaning as far as they can, until finally – whoops! They “accidentally” fell over it and landed on top of each other.

      If you sit down and get honest with yourself, you know whether you’re being appropriate or hinky. You know whether the other person (he, she, or they) are being appropriate or hinky.

      And if you are both being appropriate, great! No problem! Their partner’s feelings, and whether they are reasonable or unreasonable, are a matter between the two of them.

      Okay, I guess that does generate some rules:

      1) Don’t be hinky.
      2) Don’t lie to yourself about whether you’re being hinky.

      I would suggest that if you are trying to manage your friend’s partner’s feelings, you are already overly enmeshed in their relationship and are therefore being kind of hinky. In which case, you should back off.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t have friendships that require extra rules above and beyond. Too much hassle. Part of why I don’t like my best friend’s girlfriend is because she tried to make rules for me. (Part of why he is one of my best friends is that he wasn’t having it any more than I was.)

    7. Helvetica*

      I, a single lady, have many male friends who are married/in a relationship and I truly do not feel the need to think of these friendships as any different that I have. Basically your rules could be expanded out to 1) don’t talk to your friends about things that go beyond friendship and 2) respect their lives outside of your relationship, whether it includes them having a partner or not. If their partner is uncomfortable with your friendship, they need to figure it out among themselves and ideally, without involving you.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I generally don’t think there is a need for rules and I’m not sure you can be responsible for ensuring his wife is comfortable. If there is truly nothing going on and you are just friends and she is uncomfortable with that, it is likely to be her issue and not something you can really change.

      I do think the rules you have some reasonable and would be if you were friends with a married woman too. Generally, not saying or doing anything you feel the need to hide and understanding that people’s families are likely to be their priority are good rules for any friendship.

      I think one good measurement is to think about whether you are behaving the same way with him as you would with a female friend (assuming you’re not bisexual) or with a guy you found really unattractive.

    9. Richard Hershberger*

      Many years ago I was in a relationship that wasn’t working. We really liked each other, but were a terrible couple. So we broke it off, with the “let’s be friends” bit. Contrary to the stereotype, we turned out to be a great best friends couple. When she married, her husband regarded me as a de facto brother-in-law and part of the package. When I married, she was my best person. I have never sensed that either of our partners have ever felt threatened. Perhaps it is because we already established that wouldn’t work. Perhaps it is because we put off a siblings vibe. Perhaps it is because we are all mature adults. In any case, it can work just fine. And no, we don’t have any rules.

    10. Jenna Webster*

      As a single woman with married male friends, this isn’t something I spend time thinking about because we’re just friends, but if you need rules for yourself, don’t flirt or engage in sexual behavior of any sort and shut it down if they head in that direction. It’s never come up for me because they are just friends.

    11. NaoNao*

      Ooh I have ThoughtsTM about this. I think as one gets older, and one’s social circle kind of naturally gets smaller, it’s more obvious what’s acceptable and normal and what’s not and boundary violating and problematic.

      And although I’m married, I had (and would have should something happen to my husband) a FIRM rule “no men that have all female friends, majority female friends or a female ‘best friend’.” NOPE. I’m the Queen and the #1 woman in his life. If that’s unreasonable: So Be It.

      I personally don’t love the old saw “what about bisexuals! are they not allowed to have friends!?!?1!1?” because the dynamic and socialization is 100% not the same between the groups. In my experience, grown men do not seek out women to be “just friends” with on purpose. They just don’t.

      *Can* women and men be just friends? Sure, of course! It’s one thing to have a work buddy or “this is my best friend’s GF and we get along fine”

      But texting the next door neighbor or going out for drinks a deux or any situation where you prioritize that friend over the partner is not fooling anyone.

      1. Double A*

        This attitude makes me so sad. It’s why the bulk of organizing the kid’s lives falls on women, because women don’t trust dads to do it and they won’t talk to dads. When my husband takes the kids to playgrounds he doesn’t talk to the other parents there (moms) because he’s uncomfortable. And sadly he’s probably right to be because a lot of them think like you. This attitude hurts both sexes and kids. I hope you rethink it.

      2. ThatGirl*

        My husband’s friends are mostly women, as is his best friend. He works in a female-dominated field. He’s an empathetic and thoughtful guy who’s in touch with his feelings. Why would I want to discourage that? They’re not a threat to me, and if they were, that would be a husband problem, not a friendship problem.

      3. RagingADHD*

        I understand the kind of guy you’re trying to screen out. I’ve met men (and women) who cultivate an emotional harem of the opposite sex, and have no same-sex friends because it doesn’t feed their ego. Or who are “best friends” with someone who friendzoned them, and they live in hope.

        I wouldn’t want to get involved with someone like that either. But I don’t think it’s as clear cut as you’re painting it. I think the pattern of someone only having friends of one gender (any one) is a yellow flag to keep an eye on at the beginning, but not necessarily a dealbreaker, because sometimes circumstances just work out that way. It isn’t always the result of unhealthy dynamics.

      4. Jj*

        “What about bisexuals?” isnt an “old saw,” it’s acknowledging that not everybody is straight. Queer people exist. Your worldview is coming across as very limited.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Indeed, I’m queer, luckily my husband isn’t paranoid about me sleeping with my single friends of any gender :)

    12. quinn*

      I was once strictly friends with a graduate student in my cohort, and his wife made me a pariah among her co-workers. He had a way of interacting with other females, and particularly single females, that I think caused her to distrust him, but it seemed she held him blameless. It was really weird. I went out of my way to show her there was nothing going on – talk mostly with her, not call him (we worked on a project together), etc. – but she was having none of it. She needed someone to blame besides him for his own actions of distrust. Other females who he engaged with were coupled, so single females like me were an absolute ripe and convenient target. I was actually on her side, in that he could be a real jerk, and I think he knew she could be jealous and just didn’t care.

      I understand looking in the mirror can be really super tough, but was no excuse for her to make me or anyone else out to be someone we’re not. They’ve moved away, but I imagine the same thing is happening, just with a different set of people. She was a crappy person all the way around.

      In answer to your question, it disinterested me from having married male friends, but that’s probably an over-reaction on my part. I do think married women and men (not to each other) can be friends, of course, but I got burned, so for me, I just wouldn’t pursue it.

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        From your description of the situation, it seems unfair to call her the crappy person. I’d say he’s the crappy person for repeatedly putting her in the situation where she feels like he’s fishing around. She is just handling it in a crappy way. Maybe they’re both crappy people, but it looks to me like he’s crappier. I’m glad you don’t have to worry about it anymore, though.

    13. Double A*

      I think those are good guidelines, but I suspect that if “Remember his wife comes first” is something you even need to spell out, you are trying to contain a burgeoning crush. Not that you can’t be friends with someone who you would date under different circumstances, but just be honest with yourself about your attraction to him. If you’re honest with yourself about that, you’re much less likely to get in trouble.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Interesting, but in this case incorrect; if anything I’m wondering if there’s any chance he’s developing some sort if non sexual crush and I should hit the breaks. But all these replies are really interesting, thanks everyone!!

        1. Ali + Nino*

          Uh, I feel like you kind of buried the lede here. What makes you think he might be developing a “platonic crush”? Address that!

          Forget how things SHOULD be and take a step back. Maybe less communication, seeing each other less frequently, etc. Is it your responsibility? Should it be? No. But do you really want to be involved in a mess like this?

    14. OtterB*

      Huh. I come to this from the wife’s side of things. My husband has had female friends over the years, many of whom I’ve never met because he knows them from activities I don’t participate in – running, volunteering, etc. Some of them I know are married, others I don’t know. Mostly he sees them at group activities but occasionally one-on-one. The only one where I remember the relationship making me uneasy was a new young employee at his office. He was mentoring her, which he did routinely with younger engineers, and somehow his level of emotional involvement seemed a bit high. I’m trying to put my finger on what bothered me, but I am sure that it was not anything she could or should have done differently. It might have been the age difference and the optics. She’s the age of our daughters. I would have been far less concerned with a friendship with a female coworker nearer our age. Anyway, I decided I didn’t need to suggest he do anything differently (and any suggestion would absolutely have been for him, not for her) and after a while she transferred to another location of their organization (a routine career step). He still emails or texts her occasionally in the same way he keeps up with other past work friends and I have no problem with that.

    15. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Once I get to be friends with someone who’s married or in a long term relationship, I start inviting their partner along to outings or whatever (without being pushy about it). It’s not because of any ‘rules’, but because being a friend means caring about what’s going on in the other person’s life. Besides, if my friend is cool, chances are they married someone else who’s cool.

    16. becky s.*

      I make sure any conversation I have with a married man is one I could have in front of his wife and children.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, absolutely this. Or at the very least, his wife. I admit it, I have a potty mouth when I let my hair down, and some otherwise lovely people have hangups about their children being exposed to swearing. I don’t generally swear in front of other people’s kids in any case, to be fair.

      2. Juliane*

        I understand where you‘re coming from, but to be honest, I’m a woman and I talk to my male friends about things I wouldn’t mention in front of their partners – if they need to vent, if they want advice etc. They are my friends, why wouldn’t we talk about important things like our relationships? I honestly don’t think it’s that complicated or „dangerous“ to be friends with men as long as everybody involved is a decent person.

    17. Jj*

      I’m gay woman and I’m married to a woman, and our friendships don’t have rules. This is some straight people nonsense lol

      1. Retail escapee*

        Thank you. This makes me crazy as a woman marrying a woman. We both have friendships with exes, and I have queer and straight female and gender nonconforming friends and there’s no guidelines for how to not fall into bed with each other.
        This stuff is so tied to societal ideas that men can’t possibly keep It in their pants and every woman they interact with is a potential mate in their eyes and oh well that’s just how it is.
        If you need rules for this dude to not cheat on his wife he’s a crappy husband and not a friend.

    18. Ginger Cat Lady*

      My only “rule” is that the friendship is not hidden and everyone is honest. Oh, and I don’t like being a place where people vent about their relationships with others, either. I little, I don’t mind. But not on a regular basis, and not a lot.
      And tbh, that’s true for every friendship I have.
      In your scenario, if someone in the situation (friend or either married person) has trust issues and wants other rules, I think your suggestions are also reasonable. But I don’t think those rules need to always be in place.

    19. Despachito*

      I think A) and B) are good.
      I would add a C) – never let them make your confidante in their marital problems, and D) if possible, invite their partner to participate in your activities as well.

    20. anonogyn*

      I do not get why there there would need to be rules. I am a woman and my best friend of 30 years is a man. We know everything about each other (best and worst). He is the godfather to our younger child. We are both conventionally attractive. The purpose of the friendship is not occasionally bumping bits. We don’t. Both my partner and my friend’s partner have been “reported to” by folks seeing us out for lunch. My husband’s default response is “cool! hope it looked like she was having fun!” I’m a straight lady but that does not mean that any man is a potential partner, thank you so much.

    21. Patty Mayonnaise*

      People are having strong reactions to this post. I guess I agree that maybe there doesn’t need to be prescriptive “rules” for friendship with someone who is married. But is it really that uncommon to be in a situation where you/your partner is jealous of a friend that could potentially be non-platonic? Also going on the record to say the only time I, straight lady, had to make it clear to my friend’s partner that this was platonic friendship was with a lesbian couple. Additionally, my husband has only ever been jealous of one particular gay male friend of mine (which was not totally logical on his part, but I did purposely dial back a little on talking about how great my new friend was to make it clear I wasn’t pining for him, haha!). So I just don’t see this as a “the straights are not okay” issue – like to me obviously any combination of gay/straight/bi/etc/male/female/NB/etc can be friends platonically, but jealously issues crop up with all people and the jealous person and/or the friends may have to adjust their feelings/behavior.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I’m a bit surprised people are having such a strong reaction, it’s really making me think. But I appreciate everybody’s thoughts!

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        “But is it really that uncommon to be in a situation where you/your partner is jealous of a friend that could potentially be non-platonic?”

        Let’s not normalize distrusting our partners and devaluing our friendships? Common or not, if the only indicator that a friend could potentially be non-platonic is that they’re single and the opposite gender of the partner, that’s a problem with the partnership and/or the jealous person, not the friendship.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I completely agree with your second paragraph. I don’t think anything in it is incompatible with what I said? I’m intending to normalize the jealous feelings, which can happen in a completely trusting partnership (and in all people, not just straight cis people).

          1. Fushi*

            The idea that jealousy exists is not what people are reacting to. The idea that the appropriate response is to come up with a bunch of rules based on gender and heteronormative assumptions is.

            1. Patty Mayonnaise*

              I never said people were reacting to the idea of jealousy. I said *I* was talking about jealousy, since it apparently wasn’t clear. My point is that jealousy can be an issue in gay/straight friendships as well as straight/straight ones. I thought that was a pretty neutral observation.

    22. exvangelical*

      as an exvangelical, i’m struck by how much some of the assumptions in this convo sound like purity culture, the assumption that The Rules are the only thing preventing folk from having sex with each other. evangelical twitter literally had this same conversation two months ago, when an ace woman asked to be treated in a normal, friendly way by married men and a bunch of married women accused her of trying to steal their husbands.

      rules can be a good thing on a per-partner level, if they work for you and your SO, cool, more power to the both of you. and i periodically renegotiate the friendships i (a single person) have with partnered people, to make sure we’re both in a good place with our relationship.

      but suggesting that all partnerships are best run off certain rules, which some comments in this thread seem to do, is not going to lead to a good place

      1. ThatGirl*

        I agree and for the record my “rule” such as it is is mostly to screen out creepy straight guys who are looking for an affair. But that’s definitely not all men.

    23. jj*

      I get where the rules folks are coming from – navigating gender dynamics in heterosexual spaces is genuinely fraught a lot of the time.

      But as a queer single person with absolutely no family, this whole conversation just fills me with sadness. All the people saying “as long as the rules (or lack of rules!) still leave family and partner first”

      Relationships don’t need to be artificially ranked. My best friends don’t need to love me less than their spouses or family, just because kind of love is different. All humans deserve a chance to cultivate deep love and care, and that can come in so many forms. I have friendships where I am just as loved as their romantic partner. It’s not wrong or inappropriate and it doesn’t in any way diminish the role their partner plays in their lives.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Right there with you. My best female friend (I wrote a lengthy post above about having one male best friend and one female best friend, and I am agender and bisexual) has said firmly that she loves me and her husband equally (not the same, mind you, but equally) and refused to choose. If I had a romantic partner at this late stage in life, they would not be any more important to me than either of my best friends.

        I am not saying queer relationships/friendships are perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but being outside the norm means being able to look at things differently (because the norm does not/cannot work for the outsider).

    24. Quinalla*

      Make sure your friendship isn’t a secret from their partner (this applies to anyone who has a partner, not just cis het partnerships or marriage).

      Don’t flirt and shut down any attempts by the other person to flirt. End the “friendship” if this is a reoccurring issue.

      It’s ok for people to talk, but again if the partnered person is often complaining about their partner, oversharing intimate info, etc. then again, put the brakes on that and end the “friendship” if it is reoccurring.

      I am a woman with a lot of male friends – I work in a male dominated industry and was in activities, clubs, etc. all through my school years too that tended to be male dominated. The myth that says men & women can’t be friends is straight up from the patriarchy.

    25. Mark*

      I’ve been in that situation many times. I determined early on that at the workaholic level I am at (I inherited this from my dad), I would make a very bad husband/boyfriend because the job will always come first. Thus, I haven’t dated in years. Although most of my friendships are with guys, I have two or three women I am very close with. The friendships in both cases pre-dated their relationships with their respective spouses. I know for a fact both were jealous of me. (It’s long past because of my following the tips below.)

      I just make a point that whenever we meet up, suggest the spouse join us (they never do, but I think it gives them peace of mind knowing they are able to if they want). When texting, messaging, or commenting on Facebook, I make sure I don’t say anything that can be misconstrued. I’ll send a happy birthday to the spouse, as well as a happy anniversary.

  3. Michelle Smith*

    Does anyone have any experience getting a patient advocate to help navigate a Byzantine healthcare system? I’m in the US and don’t know where to start, but I do need some help.

    1. Mac&cheese*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! if you have a diagnosis, start by looking for a foundation or association for the condition. When I had cancer, the association for my cancer was an invaluable starting resource.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        If it’s related to a disability, local disability rights organisations may also know of navigators or have them available. You may need to cast a very broad net to get the right referral – start by calling or emailing every remotely relevant organisation within a couple of hundred miles. Organisations like this are used to getting questions about services from people outside their area or specific remit and most should have a list of resources on hand.

      2. AA Baby Boomer*

        You may want to leery of advocates that are associated with your medical insurance. Some times they are great sources of information, etc. But their loyalty is to their employer first and foremost.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      After her stroke, when my mother was going to need to move from rehab to assisted living, the rehab center’s social worker was invaluable. They put us in touch with a service who do this as a job–We could say “We need a facility that offers X and has an opening in a week” (that last part being the big limiting factor) and she took my sister (who was local) on tours of the handful that fit that criteria. She also put us in touch with an org that tackles the Byzantine system for qualifying for some extra money as a veteran or spouse of veteran. (Mom passed just as we got to the threshold and would have started the application process; the people were really super helpful and understood the system.)

      When I got cancer, my local cancer support center was invaluable. (Oncologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon all had flyers.) e.g. They came up with a local charity that sent in volunteer dog walkers after my chest surgery.

      So my advice is to start with a social worker attached either to the specific healthcare system, or to a support group for the condition.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, social workers can also be a great resource for anyone dealing with a complex medical situation. If there’s a hospital or care facility involved, they will most likely have a social work department or be able to refer you. Also, even if you’re not religious, hospital chaplains can be useful as well. Obviously, the usefulness of both resources can vary according to their workload, funding etc.

        Oh, and if there’s a national organisation for a specific medical condition that you need help with, contact their local chapter or affiliate. Some national organisations have sections on their websites dedicated to funding and navigating care.

    3. PhyllisB*

      I have a friend who used to be a patient advocate so I will try to reach out to her for an answer. However, I believe you can check with your local hospital and they will put you in touch with one. or give you contact information. Maybe your doctor’s office could help you find one?

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Not aware of any specific organizations or certifications. There are several in my area (and I work collaboratively with them for my specific area of expertise) and people find them by word-of-mouth or an internet search. If you are looking for help with actual medical issues (interacting with doctors, understanding information, etc) then look for an RN, NP, MD/DO, or PA. If you are looking for help with insurance/billing issues or figuring out referrals or something like that, a social worker would be great. Agree that your doctor’s office or hospital discharge planner/social worker are good places to start. Also check out the local Area Agency on Aging even if you are under 65 – they often have resource lists.

    5. Sandi*

      A friend of mine spent years being misdiagnosed and ignored by the medical system. One of the best things they did was to find a talk therapist who specialized in helping people recover from health care problems. Misdiagnoses, being ignored, or any other way a patient didn’t get the treatment needed. The therapist worked to build up confidence and articulate problems in a way that would get helpful treatment. Also gave advice on how to deal with people who were making their treatment worse. Their health was made worse for years by an incorrect mental health diagnosis that made doctors think that the friend was exaggerating. Everything changed when they visited a specialist in that condition who very strongly confirmed they had something much different. The masses of physically punishing drugs could be switched out for talk therapy. A specialist therapist helped them navigate the system to get what they really needed. It might not be what you need if your diagnosis is clear and you need more help with paperwork but I mention it because it saved my friend’s health.

  4. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Anyone else having sleep disturbances because we sprang forward one hour in the United States this last weekend?

    It’s been a difficult time for me because I have trouble getting any more than 6 hours a night; now I’m down to about 5.

    1. Double A*

      I am completely, devastatingly exhausted this Friday evening. My kids are sick so I’m probably fighting off their plague but the time change feels like it just snowballed this whole week. I need a good 9 hours to be rested, which is hard under the best of circumstances.

      1. New Mom*

        Ugh, I feel you. My toddler is sick, my four month old is going through a BRUTAL leap/sleep regression and the time change did not help. So, so tired.

    2. Bazzalikeschasingbirds*

      Usually takes me a week or more to recover. But this has only occurred to me since I’ve got into my 50s.

      1. the cat's ass*

        TOTALLY. Post menopause, DST sleep disruption is a chronic thing, and i just tough it out for about a week to ten days. Afternoon exercise seems to help a bit.

    3. Sloanicota*

      This year weirdly I kept waking up too early, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. I guess that’s better than the years I was dragging myself into the office feeling like warmed over poo.

    4. Chaordic One*

      It’s been a rough week and I hate how it’s dark again when we wake up in the morning. I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep and then waking up. I’ve been feeling over-tired and little head achey all week and I think it is mostly because I haven’t quite caught up on my sleep.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I have had years when it screwed me up for a week. I think my sleep has been so wonky lately that I couldn’t tell the difference.

    6. JSPA*

      Going to sleep about 2 and a half hours earlier is sometimes easier than going to sleep half an hour or an hour earlier. Basically, try to hit a different sleep-permissive stage in your natural highs and lows. It won’t always work but if it works one day out of every 3, you get back what you need.

    7. StellaBella*

      we do not change time until next week but this doe happen to me too. I use melotonin to reset my sleep. good luck!

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Usually I don’t notice beyond a day, but I’ve had sucking exhaustion the last two nights.

      Like Bazza, I’m going to say being in my 50s made adjusting to time shifts tougher.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yes! I’m in the same boat as you.
      I’m doing everything possible to sleep and nothing is really working.
      I despise the time change and REALLY wish we could just stop doing this ridiculous thing!

    10. Kate*

      I am the total opposite! I am LOVING it! For once I am not waking up at 5 am, and there’s light in the evenings! *swoon*

      1. Courageous cat*

        Me too, DST is like a holiday for me. The more light in the evenings the better everything gets. It feels very summery.

        (That said, I also don’t have sleep issues going off DST either)

    11. Courageous cat*

      Not at all. I have to be honest, I’ve never really understood this. The time change happens overnight on a weekend. You get whatever amount of sleep you need that morning, then just accept the new time as the new time (don’t waste any mental energy thinking about what time your body “really thinks” it is), and it’s an almost instantaneous adjustment for me. And I have a pretty cantankerous/insomniatic sleep schedule.

      Personally I’d guess that thinking about it at length and constantly comparing new vs old times are the culprits for some of the people I know.

      1. 1LFTW*

        I’ve never really “understood” it either. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t mess me up twice a year without fail.

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        For me, it’s fine the Sunday it happens. When it messes me up is the several days after where I can’t fall asleep at my “normal” bedtime and then have to get up an hour earlier than I’m used to in the dark. Some of it is probably psychological because jet lag doesn’t affect me this much (but it’s not a perfect comparison because the sunrise/sunset don’t change as much and there’s more excitement because I’m on vacation or a rare work trip. And it’s temporary).
        I just want it to stop changing. Permanent DST, permanent standard time, split the difference, whatever. Just stop changing it.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and we switch next Sunday. I’m not looking forward to it because I always have jet lag for a month, regardless of the direction of the switch.

        1. allathian*

          I’ve always been this way, although it’s become worse since I hit 50. May have something to do with perimenopause. My cycle’s wildly irregular now, between 20 and 35 days, which probably doesn’t help.

        2. allathian*

          I’ve always been this way, although it’s become worse since I hit 50. May have something to do with perimenopause. My cycle’s wildly irregular now, between 20 and 35 days, which probably doesn’t help.

    12. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I was just tired for the entire week. I’ve recovered now and can enjoy the sunshine

    13. Iris West-Allen*

      I was incredibly tired this week and was so looking forward to sleeping in today… only to be up at 4 am with a stomach bug.

    14. Just a different redhead*

      Yeah, it’s been a rough week. The first week is, I suppose? the worst, but honestly I barely recover from DST at all anymore. When we come back around to normal time, it doesn’t feel like a reward so much as a slight relief.
      Of course right now it probably doesn’t help that I keep referring to it as “fake time”, which reminds me of the phrase “fake news”, and then I’m even grumpier. (I’m working on it.)

    15. Emma*

      Write to your government representatives! it’s really easy. They’ve considered dealing with it in the recent past (a bill getting rid of the time change passed 1 chamber of government about a year ago, but not the other), but they need encouragement. It took me 5 minutes to contact both my representatives.

    16. North Wind*

      I usually hate the spring time change, but this year…

      I’ve worked 100% from home for years and years, and have developed a habit of going out first thing in the morning, just to get out of the house. I typically go to this really gorgeous park nearby with coffee and breakfast.

      Anyway, getting to the park an hour earlier than usual – I’m seeing a ton of deer. I saw 10(!) the other day, just chilling and grazing. Also, the sunrises have been pretty, not something I’m used to seeing :).

  5. ww*

    Weird Montreal museum suggestions!

    Will hopefully be visiting now that the Amtrak line is coming back, and am looking for suggestions on museums – but not the usual ones, the really inexplicable ones. It’s one of my favorite things to do when traveling, hitting up some bizarre tourist spot. For example, in Prague I visited the World of Franz Kafka – which was NOT a museum about the life and times of famed author Franz Kafka but an underground, hilariously overpriced, sort of dusty modern art (???) set by a guy who used to shoot crime scene photos and I think had some things to work out with himself. Allegedly his ashes are down there. Or in Split, Croatia, my absolute favorite museum of all time is this room given entirely over to the display of antique stuffed frogs, posed within various elaborate dioramas. There was frog court, for instance, featuring a defendant stuffed-frog in chains being judged by a jury of his stuffed-frog peers. I have a postcard and I framed it.

    So that vibe but in Montreal (or possibly Quebec City??), if anyone has any advice. No Suggestion Too Weird or Cheesy as long as it’s on some kind of public transit route. Not looking for exhibits that travel or can be done anywhere like a Madame Tussauds-type display.

    1. ww*

      stuffed frogs meaning taxidermied once-living frogs, I should say! And all with the same vacant, baffled gaze…

      1. Emma from Austen*

        YMMV, and I’ve never been to Montreal so not sure about commute to these locations, but I did find some suggestions at Atlas Obscura.

        Insectarium of Montreal
        Montreal Signs Project, Concordia University in Montreal
        Musée Eudore Dubeau (apparently a Canadian dentistry museum?)

        1. osmoglossom*

          Yes, definitely go to the Insectarium! I was there in the ’90s — fascinating. and slightly creepy.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Have you checked the Atlas Obscura website? I’ve found interesting places to visit there.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      Hi! I live nearby and I didn’t know any unusual museums in Montreal, so I had a look around.
      There’s the Barbie Expo (free admission, near Peel metro station). Apparently, there’s a dentistry museum (Musée Eudore-Dubeau), but it seems to be closed at the moment. We also have a medical history museum: Maude Abbott Medical Museum (free admission?, near McGill metro station). There’s a small open-air sculpture park, the Twilight Sculpture Garden. It seems the closest metro station is Rosemont. There isn’t a lot to see tourism-wise in that part of town, but you could combine it with a walk of different murals Montreal has (if you google, you should be able to find a map of the different murals).
      There’s also apparently a Montreal Signs Project, which exhibits signs from Montreal on the Loyola campus of Concordia University. There’s not a lot of information I can find and it’s not reachable by metro (only by bus).
      Hope this helps!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Oh, and it seems we have a museum of sounds, Musée des ondes Emile Berliner, but it’s closed until the end of April because it’s moving. It will be near the Place Saint-Henri metro station once it reopens.

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        We went to the Barbie Expo last summer and I loved it. It’s not really a museum with detailed notes or placards, but rather a huge collection of Barbies. I thought it was an interesting cultural touchpoint to see Barbies in all sorts of different outfits.

    4. fposte*

      Might not be weird enough for you, but in Quebec City I loved the very cheesy history show at the Musee du Fort–it’s basically huge history dioramas filled with tiny little people and buildings, and as the narrator explains battles little lights turn on and off to simulate the flash of cannon fire.

      I am gutted that I missed the Musée miniature de l’architecture there, which recreates famous buildings in Lego.

      1. ww*

        Ugh this sounds SO great but not open when I’m planning to be there. I so love a good cheese diorama….

        Thanks for all the ideas! I have begun a list.

    5. Lore*

      Perhaps not obscure enough but I loved the Centre d’Histoire de Montreal. Lots of fun interactive stuff about speakeasies and other periods of city history.

  6. Hexiv*

    Is AskAManager facing a DDOS attack or something? Every time I try to load it up it says it’s checking my browser, and if I recall correctly it was down shortly before that happened. Hope this is an okay place to ask!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! And my tech person is unavailable this week so I’m trying to manage it myself. I have learned an incredible amount of technical things this week and I still only know less than 1% of what is actually required to manage a massive web server.

      1. Happily Retired*

        Maybe this is a total coincidence, but I’ve never gotten the Cloudflare whatsit, it’s on the laptop and never on my phone. <— If this is a well duh thing with mobile, I cheerfully reveal my ignorance of all this.

        1. Happily Retired*

          Hahaha, ok, when I posted this, I got the “checking” screen. lol

          At least I don’t have to count squares with power lines.

      2. Cee S*

        I hope that you’d be reasonable with your tech person despite the outage! This site is so popular (a good problem to have!). There’s tons of work behind the scenes to keep the site running smoothly. Your tech person should’ve been doing a good job for a very long time.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      Yeah I was wondering too. Half the time I get a forbidden 403, the other half I get cloudflare loading screens and one time I had to do a human verification. I’m guessing some attacks have been happening and they are trying to lock things down but it’s getting low key annoying.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The Forbidden errors were when the site was down yesterday. Now you should be getting occasional verification attempts from Cloudflare to ensure you’re a human and not a bot attacking the site. I apologize that it’s annoying, but the alternative is no site at all (or just letting the site be overtaken by a DDOS attack). If it helps to know, it’s unlikely to be fully fixed until late next week (and that’s if I’m lucky).

        1. Rosyglasses*

          That makes sense – firewalls and security things and code is not something I would love to learn either. Thanks for keeping the site going and apologies for me venting my frustration- lots of other things going on that are making my empathy-ometer lower than usual.

        2. JSPA*

          I’m getting it every time. Plus, if using a laptop (and any of three browsers) an ongoing complete block on posting if I use a VPN (or even certain antivirus software).

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I had some reports of that last time too (getting it every time rather than just once an hour, which is what it’s supposed to do). Unfortunately I can’t change that but hopefully that extra protection won’t be needed much longer. I appreciate y’all putting up with it while I try to fix things.

            1. WoodswomanWrites*

              Alison, I can’t imagine what a big lift this is on your own time without your tech support. Thanks for keeping the site online despite the bumps along the way. Rooting for you!

            2. Sam I Am*

              seconding Woodswoman, thanks for all of your work and I hope you get it sorted soon. Your site is wonderful and I really appreciate your work to keep it accessible.

            3. skadhu*

              I’m getting the verification thing with varying frequencies, but more on some devices than others. That makes me wonder whether it’s also linked to browsers and browser settings (I use different browsers on my phone and iPad) or possibly cookies.

              Whatever it is, it’s not discouraging me from coming to the site, it just takes a bit longer sometimes. So sorry you’re having to deal with this!

        3. The Prettiest Curse*

          I usually get the Cloudfare message, but briefly getting the Forbidden message made me worry that I’d somehow been banned! I hope that a fix to this problem won’t be too stressful or financially ruinous.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Just as a PSA to everyone: I’ve never deliberately blocked anyone from reading the site and I don’t think I ever would (with the exception of malicious bots trying to do damage or steal content). So if you ever think that might have happened to you, email me because something has probably gone wrong that I can fix. (This week, a few people have been mistakenly blocked via the Cloudflare protection and I was able to fix that for them.)

            But also, during these dark days of outages, if you’re wondering if it’s an outage or something about your own connection, you can check twitter.com/askamanager because I’ll generally post it there.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              That’s useful to know! I did eventually realise it was related to the ongoing site issues, and I hope everyone who was temporarily blocked managed to get back onto the site.

            2. Slinky*

              Alison, could you make this a stand-alone post at some point? It will be useful for people who don’t routinely read comments.

            3. Mimmy*

              Is that what the “Forbidden” messages mean? I got those when the site was down but that cleared up on its own.

            4. anon24*

              FWIW, I’ve been getting messages that I’ve been blocked, at different times from commenting or from reading the site entirely for at least a month. It usually only happens on my VPN, but sometimes if I turn it on I’m blocked on one browser but can access on another.

              1. Zelda*

                A whole bunch of comments on the “clueless celebrations” thread also got eaten. I tried to answer, got a weird error, reloaded, tried again, and gave up. Hours later, the whole subthread I was trying to reply to was gone.

                Now, it was a bit of a contentious subthread, but usually if Alison removes comments she leaves a note saying so. So I’m left thinking this was security-related database weirdness.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I did remove a long off-topic thread on that post (arguing about language) and I don’t think I did leave a note about it — my hands have been full this week with all the tech stuff and if people are breaking an obvious site rule like the one against lengthy off-topic threads, I tend to think an explanation when it gets removed is a courtesy but not a necessity, per the “comments that don’t follow these rules may be removed without warning” note at the top of the comment rules. But if that’s not the thread you were thinking of, then yes, it might have been database issues (especially since there was a big outage the day of that post).

              2. JSPA*

                I’ve had no luck at all posting if the VPN is on, and it’s been that way for a month or so. Feels skeevy having to turn off the VPN just to post…

                Which browser is letting you through??? I’ve had no luck with Safari or Firefox or DuckDuckGo, and am unwilling to use chrome.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, Alison has said there’s a security thing going on at the moment. It seems to come and go somewhat.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The good news is that my wonderful tech person is now back and helping to sort things out and I am hopeful things will be more under control soon!

  7. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’ve been reading. As always, all books are welcome.

    I just finished Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher. I really enjoyed it; I wasn’t sure if I was down for another Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it was a lot of fun. Also a bit creepy, in the “author is also a horror novelist” sort of way. Now I’m reading a book published by Travelers’ Tales, a publisher that writes all sorts of traveling books. This one is one of their hodge podge books.

    1. Ahdez*

      I’ve been reading a Brandon Sanderson YA series, but other than that, I’m in a real reading rut. All the non-YA books I have on my list or got for Christmas seem so dour and serious. Open to suggestions of fun, get you back in a reading groove (but not YA) books!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I love Murderbot, which I reread the first one of (All Systems Red) last night. The first four are novellas, fast-paced, and the characters are delightful.

        I’ve realized that one thing I like about Murderbot and the Scholomance, my big rereads of late, is that they are not origin stories. In both, the main character has been dealing with their situation for years. The story opens as something changes, but it’s more “Batman made a friend” than “Batman decided to start dressing like a bat.”

        If you like murder mysteries, Donna Andrews is great. Her bird mysteries start with Murder with Peacocks and feature Meg Langslow, a very organized blacksmith, and her large and wacky family. I really like the way this writer handles relationships, and the cell phone use is appropriate to publication date. (Pet peeve: If you “dislike cell phones,” but know that within the next hundred pages past experience strongly suggests you’ll be in a situation where you really need one, you should carry two.) She also wrote a short series about an AI detective Turing Hopper, staring with You’ve Got Murder.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The Wodehouse rec downthread reminded me of Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott, in which Jeeves and Bertie Wooster get to be spies on the cusp of WW2. Really delightful.

          1. word nerd*

            Love PG Wodehouse, and I have to add that Jonathan Cecil’s narrations of Wodehouse’s audiobooks take it to the next level. I had a completely new understanding of how Bertie Wooster is supposed to sound (including his frequent “what?” interjections). Soooo good!!

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

              OMG, yes! Jonathan Cecil does a marvelous, pitch-perfect job. And a lot of his Wodehouse audiobooks are available for free on YouTube.

      2. word nerd*

        Just read The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel, and it was a well-written, funny, feel-good read if you’re looking for something lighthearted.

        Also a +1 for Murderbot, one of my favorite series!

      3. OtterB*

        I recently read and enjoyed Malka Older’s new book, The Mimicking of Known Successes. (I might have mentioned this last week.) Science fiction with a gaslamp, Sherlock Holmesish vibe. It’s set in colonies in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, where humanity fled after Earth became unliveable. The colonies are connected by rail, so if you like trains it’s a fun read in that way. One main character is a detective who is investigating a case where a man disappeared from a remote colony platform (jumped? was pushed?) The other is the detective’s ex-girlfriend, a scholar at a university studying ways to rejuvenate Earth’s ecosystem. Recommended.

      4. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I just finished Well of Ascension (Mistborn 2) and SANDERSON. Holy heck. The man is a writing machine and everything he does is so good. I’m hoping to use Mistborn to push me back into the Stormlight Archive just because going headfirst into Stormlight without some warmup is an overwhelming experience.

        Scholomance is also a HOLY HECK of a book series and I cannot recommend them enough. There’s a tiny dash of YA romance but Novik can also write like nobody’s business and is really amazing at it.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I’ve been reading Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. I read one other book of his a while ago and really enjoyed it. So far, I’m like this one but not as much the first one.

      1. Still*

        I really enjoyed the titular story, it spoke to me much more than the movie based on it. I liked the one about the Tower of Babel as well, I like how it takes the concept somewhat seriously while also remaining fairytalee-like.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Today’s recommendation sounds right up my street, but I just finished Girls They Write Songs About (also picked up from AAM) and Really Did Not Like It. I found the protagonist too disparaging of other women at times, and her insistence on affairs with married men as the only way to find fulfilment in a relationship made me feel glum.

      I might need to take a little break before my next “coming-of-age female friendship in New York” story. On to an Argentinian crime novel I move (Urgent Matters by Paula Rodriguez, sounding good a few chapters in).

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

        One of the funniest things I’ve ever read! It is one of my go-to books to give when someone is recovering from an illness (but would not be appropriate for someone who has cracked a rib and shouldn’t be laughing).

        1. Phlox*

          I couldn’t even watch I Love Lucy when I had broken ribs – it was mild nature documentaries for a week straight!

        1. word nerd*

          Reminds me of a joke my son likes: “Why can’t you hear a pterosaur go to the bathroom?”

      1. word nerd*

        I proofread a book last week about Jane Austen, and it included the Emma quotation, “‘You have shown that you can dance, and you know we are not really so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper.’
        ‘Brother and sister! no, indeed.'”
        … And I immediately melted into a puddle. I’ve read Emma multiple times, and I still get done in by some of the lines.

    4. Atheist Nun*

      I finished I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai, and it was…OK. This book is getting a lot of buzz right now, so my opinion is probably in the minority. I thought it tried to cover too many societal topics while also being a “thriller.” I did appreciate how it showed how women/girls are often expected to prevent or ameliorate the crimes and bad deeds that men commit.

      If you want to read a great novel about true crime podcasts, I highly recommend Denise Mina’s Conviction instead. (But not her “sequel” Confidence–that was just OK).

      Now I am starting to read Inferior by Angela Saini. I attended her public “book club” conversation about The Patriarchs with Feminist Giant’s Mona Eltahawy last night, and I realized that I had not yet read her earlier books. I like it so far.

      1. Retired Accountant*

        I loved Makkai’s “The Great Believers” and have been reluctant to pick up the new one for fear of being disappointed. Maybe I’ll just reread Great Believers.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just this morning finished a re-read of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series – always fun to have a bawling fit before you even get out of bed :P (It’s a personal favorite – I have two Dark Tower tattoos – so I knew it was coming, but still.)

      I’m leaving on a solo vacation this upcoming Wednesday, which is always a good time to get lots of reading done, I usually average 10-12 books or more during a week of vacation. Trying to decide whether I want to reread another well-loved series or two, or find something new. I’m a fan of doorstop non-fiction: biographies/memoirs, medical history, historical events, anything about people and/or events. Past favorites: Radium Girls, And the Band Played On, Ron Chernow’s bio of George Washington, anything by David McCullough, Midnight at Chernobyl. Open to suggestions!

      1. word nerd*

        If you like medical history, I’m going to guess you’ve already read the Pulitzer-winning The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, but if you haven’t, you definitely should!

        Not medical, but An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the World Around Us by Ed Yong has gotten 5/5 stars from everyone I know who’s read it (including me). It’s fascinating!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have read Emperor, twice, and it was amazing. There’s also a 3-part Ken Burns documentary based on it that features the author, which is also very good. “The Gene” – also by Mukherjee, and also subsequently done in doco form by Ken Burns, was also excellent.

          I will put the Ed Yong book on my list, thank you!

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Mukherjee has a new one out, it looks like, “Song of the Cell,” and I did manage to get that on a short-term loan from my library!

          1. word nerd*

            You’ll have to report back on what you think! I read Song of the Cell, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t like it as much as The Emperor, but I think that was partly because some of it felt too simple/less interesting because I majored in biochemistry in college and have an MD so I already knew a lot of the basics.

        3. germank106*

          I just put “The Gene” and “The Song of the Cell” on my waiting list at the library. Sounds like these are right up my alley.

      2. By a Lady*

        Tracy Kidder just put out a new book called “Rough Sleepers” about homeless healthcare in Boston @Red Reader— I think you’d like it! It falls into the medicine/public health nonfic category. If you’re a library person and can’t find it on the shelf yet, I recommend Kidder’s other both “Mountains Beyond Mountains”. Both are so, so well done and the ATBPO reference tells me you’d enjoy these picks. Have fun on vacation!

      3. AY*

        Can’t go wrong with anything by Candice Millard if you’re into history. She’s done books on Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, but I particularly recommend her book on James Garfield and his assassination/death by bad doctoring. Her newest book, also highly recommended, is about European explorers’ search for the source of the Nile.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Her Nile book was actually the first book I read in 2023! I’ll check out the Garfield one though, thank you!

          1. Retired Accountant*

            The Garfield one is very, very good and includes a fair amount of medical stuff.

      4. Bluebell*

        It’s very old, but have you read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond? Very long but a fascinating look at the advantages Europeans had as they conquered other societies. I remember using his theses as I argued with my dad about history, an my dad begrudgingly listened, then asked the name of the book.

      5. GoryDetails*

        Non-fiction/historical tragedy: The Sinking of the Eastland, by Jay Bonansinga, about a passenger ship that rolled over at the dock in Chicago in 1915, costing the lives of over 800 people. [Caitlin “Ask a Mortician” Doughty has a fascinating post about this, with vintage photos, on her YouTube channel.]

      6. GoryDetails*

        Also: a shout-out to the works of Bill Hayes, who’s written a number of memoir/non-fiction-history-of-things books, including Sleep Demons (about insomnia), Five Quarts (blood), Sweat (history-of-exercise), and more. He also wrote Insomniac City, about his relationship with late psychologist/author Oliver Sacks. I love Hayes’ writing!

      7. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I recommend Endure, by Alex Hutchinson, which is about the limits of human bodies and the science behind it, with a special interest in the line between limits in the brain and limits in the body itself. It’s that great balance of really science-y (it talks a lot about various studies and what they mean and don’t mean) and full of great stories about individual humans, like Eliot Kipchoge and the push for the under 2 hr marathon.

        It’s also where I learned about the mammalian dive reflex.

      8. Helvetica*

        Not medical history per se but I really loved Richard Shepherd’s “Unnatural causes”. He is/was Britain’s top forensic pathologists and this is a memoir and an autobiography in one. He has dealt with many famous cases in that role, and he does cover those but to me, the book was really splendid meditation about life and mortality and grappling with those existential questions while working around death.
        I have not read “Midnight at Chernobyl” but to me, the book about Chernobyl that captures the horrors of it, is Svetlana Alexeyevich’s “Chernobyl Prayer”. It’s a collection of first-hand accounts by all who were impacted by the catastrophe, including clean-up workers, firefighters, their families, others in the area. It is a truly harrowing book, so I recommend it with caution but her style is truly a marvel.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Shepherd’s Unnatural Causes is on my wishlist! In a similar vein, though, try Sue Black’s books, Written in Bone and All That Remains. She’s a Scottish forensic anthropologist (and also Baroness Black of Strome!), and her books mix anecdotes about cases she’s worked on with personal memoir and practical details of forensic anthropology.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I read Chernobyl Prayer right after I read Midnight – I tend to hit themes quite frequently. And you’re right, it was excellent.

      9. OtterB*

        I enjoyed The Code Girls, about young women who were recruited from the schools and libraries of rural America during WWII and came to Washington, DC to work on codebreaking – and never talked about it, at the time or later.

        Another memoir I really liked was The Plant Hunter by Cassandra Quave. She’s an ethnobotanist and microbiologist whose specialty is finding plants that were used for indigenous and traditional medicine and testing them using modern procedures for potential as antibiotics or other drugs. I thought the book had a good mix of stories about the science, her research trips, how she developed her interest in the subject, becoming a scientist and lab director, and being a woman in science with a physical disability (a prosthetic leg).

        I’m also reading and thoroughly enjoying An Immense World by Ed Yong, about animal senses and how they reveal parts of the natural world that humans don’t perceive.

      10. Children's Librarian*

        I too love nonfiction about all of the things you do! Have you read Symphony for the City of the Dead by M. T. Anderson? It’s technically YA, but it’s an odd book for teens, in my opinion. It’s soooo good. One of my absolute favorites, about the siege of Leningrad and a Soviet composer.

        I saw someone else mentioned Candice Millard, she is a go-to for me. I really liked her book on Teddy Roosevelt and his truly bonkers trip down the Amazon.

        Steve Sheinkin (another YA author who writes great books that adults also love) has a lot that I love. Most Dangerous (about Pentagon Papers) and Fallout (about the Cuban Missile Crisis) are my faves.

        Gail Jarrow also writes amazing medical histories. Red Madness and American Murderer were two of my favorites. She is another YA author (I can’t help it, I work with kids!) but her books have a lot of adult appeal.

        I also loved The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox (this is an adult book) about the people who “cracked the code” of ancient texts and how they did it. Super fascinating.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have Millard’s Roosevelt book and Jarrow’s American Murderer both on my library list, thank you!

      11. StL Mom*

        My Own Country by Abraham Verghese is a great medical memoir. He became an infectious disease doctor in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

      12. AGD*

        Following because I also love biographies/memoirs. For now, Brenda Maddox’s biography of Rosalind Franklin is fascinating!

      13. Fellow Traveller*

        I’m currently reading Juliet Barker’s biography of the Brontes and it’s definitely a doorstop but the politics of small town life has been fascinating so far.

    6. Bunny WatsonToo*

      I just read The Authenticity Project by Claire Pooley. A journal left in an English coffee shop brings several strangers together.

    7. AY*

      Last weekend, I absolutely devoured the newest offering of Eleanor Catton, the youngest-ever Booker Prize winner. It’s called Birnam Wood (yes, definitely that Birnam Wood from Macbeth), and I LOVED it. It’s set in New Zealand, and it’s about gardening, billionaires, doomsday prepping, late capitalism, land use, resource extraction, surveillance, millennials, and most of all, it’s about people. Cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone with even a passing interest in literary fiction.

      This weekend, I’m deciding between the newest Booker Prize winner, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, or Tom Perrotta’s Election. I will probably pick up Seven Moons because it’s set in Sri Lanka, and I read a book about the Sri Lankan civil war last month (Brotherless Night) and would like to keep that train rolling.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      I just finished Crimson Lake by Candice Fox. A mystery book (first in the series), set in Northern Australia, in the crocodile land.
      It was really good, to the point I now must watch the TV series based on it, called Troppo.

    9. Bluebell*

      Just finished The Old Place by Bobby Finger. It wasn’t perfect, but I loved that the main characters were two 60ish ladies in a small Texas town. There was a lot of dealing with The Past. I’m also in the midst of S—t Cassandra saw, a collection of short stories by Gwen Kirby. Some are centered on historical characters, others on present day women. Lots of dark humor. I tried to read Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone but it’s just trying to be too clever. Cathleen Schine’s Kuntslers in Paradise just became available so I should get to it soon. Love her stuff – sort of a Laurie Colwin vibe. Vintage Contemporaries is still on hold – it has said 2 weeks for the past month.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I loved Bryony and Roses! The opening line, “She was going to die because of the rutabagas,” says a lot about heroine Bryony – and the increasingly horrifying aspects in the jealous House contribute to this funny/scary/romantic story.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I’m reading a couple of books that might appeal to the AAM readership, as they each deal with dysfunctional workplaces in one way or another:

      THE THING IN THE SNOW by Sean Adams features a skeleton crew of three (plus one eccentric and seldom-seen researcher) which has been left to do rather tedious maintenance at an otherwise-abandoned research facility in (what seems to be) the frozen Arctic. That is, the crew doesn’t know exactly where they are, but the snow has covered the lower two floors of the building and isn’t going anywhere. Anyway, so far it’s got an odd, humorous-yet-sinister tone: it seems clear that the tasks the trio has to perform are pointless (think: sitting on every chair in the building to determine whether it’s still sound), and there are hints as to some impressively scary Event that caused the place to be abandoned in the first place, and the rules about not going outside lest they contract a kind of snow-sickness… well, yeah, something’s definitely going on. [The narrator/manager of the team submits weekly reports and supply-requisitions for helicopter pickup, but otherwise there’s no outside contact at all.]

      One day, one of the crew spots something peeking through the ever-present snow outside. What could it be? Is it important? Dare they break the rules to investigate?

      Mindless office bureaucracy meets Weird Arctic Setting!

      And on audiobook:

      MURDER YOUR EMPLOYER: The McMasters Guide to Homicide, by Rupert Holmes, narrated by Simon Vance and Neil Patrick Harris. (I may have mentioned this last week but am now much farther in, and am enjoying it.) The concept: a school dedicated to instructing people in ways to murder the deserving and, ideally, get away with it. The sections taken from the school’s literature are dryly humorous; the increasingly-convoluted plans of the three main “deletists” are entertaining; and the targets are sufficiently nasty and unsympathetic that it makes me hope all the “deletions” will succeed, though we’re warned early on that not all of them will work out as intended.

    12. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m obsessed with T Kingfisher. her paladin romances were ok but felt samey at the end, the wizards guide to defensive baking is amazing and the Raven and the Reindeer is amazing as well.

      I’ve been reading the Girl who Fell Beneath the Sea because I’m also obsessed with the fairy tale about the girl who is thrown into the sea to marry the sea god. I swear I’ve read like five retellings but some of them are manga

    13. BalanceofThemis*

      I’ve just started the Aubrey–Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. I’m a big Bernard Cornwell fan, so I have high hopes.

      1. Roland*

        Dropping a future rec for the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik – the origin for it was “what if Aubrey-Maturin but with dragons”.

      2. Angstrom*

        The first one is a straight sea story. Starting with the second book you get more action on land and a much wider view of other aspects of the culture of that place and time.

    14. Anonymoss*

      I’ve been re-reading The Mask of Mirrors (Rook & Rose Trilogy #1) by M.A. Carrick. I personally love it as a fantasy novel. It’s got incredible world-building and scene-setting, and the characters are absolutely fascinating. Not only that but the story has so many layers and mysteries that it’s super engaging. And compared to a lot of other novels (YA and otherwise) that I’ve enjoyed it really manages its exposition and info-dumps and forces you to pay attention. I can’t wait for the third book to come out.

    15. Forensic13*

      I’m re-reading Terry Pratchett’s books for the thousandth time (he’s my favorite author ever) because I read too many LITERARY IMPORTANT BOOKS that are DEPRESSING BECAUSE THEY ARE LITERARY IMPORTANT BOOKS in a row and needed books that know how to talk about important topics without beating you over the head.

      I also read Ducks by Kate Beaton recently, which was great, though incredibly sad at many points. (I’m not counting it as one of the above rant books). Kate Beaton is probably most well-known for her Hark a Vagrant! funny historical comics, but this is an autobiographical graphic novel about when she worked for two years in the Canadian oil sands. Rough read overall, but really thoughtful.

      1. word nerd*

        I’m almost done with Ducks, and yikes. Well done but definitely stirs up a lot of emotions.

        1. Forensic13*

          Part of what made it a difficult read for me was knowing that she was willingly drawing people (no spoilers!) that I’m aware would be really emotionally difficult for her to draw, and I really felt for her with that.

      2. PseudoMona*

        Any advice on a good Terry Pratchett entry point? His books are recommended here over and over again, but there seem to be so many it is hard for me to choose where to start. Chronological? Whatever sounds interesting? Sub-series?

        1. Apt Nickname*

          I recommend chronological, at least for the Discworld series. Start with The Colour of Magic.

          1. Pippa K*

            This is an issue of some debate and I think any of the various approaches are fine, but it’s worth noting that the Discworld series changed (matured?) a bit as it developed, so some people find the first couple of books different from later ones (and the last ones different again). If you decide to start with a subset, Guards! Guards! is the first City Watch book and where I started myself. I love them all but have a soft spot for the Watch!

        2. GoryDetails*

          Heh! Yeah, lots of different options there. My first Discworld book was “Guards! Guards!”, as Pippa K mentioned below, and I think it’s a good starting point. “Mort” would also do – that one’s in the “Death” sub-series, with Death hiring a hapless apprentice who gets a bit carried away with the power of it all. And the witches… ah, the witches! “Wyrd Sisters” is the first to feature the main set of characters, and is quite entertaining, but “Witches Abroad” is the one I’d recommend as a starting point for that sub-series; it has loads of fairy-tale references and deconstructions, and some of the most hilarious scenes in the entire canon.

    16. the cat's ass*

      Read Vintage Contemporaries by Dan Kois, and discussed here last week. Loved it, and what Colwin would have written if she was still with us.

    17. the cat's pajamas*

      I just started The Other Family Doctor by Karen Fine. It’s her memoir about becoming and being a veterinarian.

    18. germank106*

      “Deep Fake” by Walt Larsen. It’s a suspense novel and for the first third I had absolutely no idea why the characters do what they do. Then I thought I had it all figured out just to be proven wrong a few pages later. The last third is a bit incongruous but overall not a bad story.
      Listened to “Neon Prey” by John Sandford with the Geezer. He still has a hard time with remembering what happened in previous chapters when reading a book, but he does much better when listening to Audiobooks.
      Couldn’t sleep last night and dug out “Goodbye Mr. Chips” – I loved the book in College and it turns out I still love it forty some years later.

    19. Professor Plum*

      I read Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby van Pelt this week. An octopus in an aquarium and the woman who becomes his friend. Set in a small town in the PNW—friendships, communication and pure delight!

      1. Rosyglasses*

        I’ve seen that mentioned here several weeks in a row and have put it on my list – I am looking forward to reading it!

    20. carcinization*

      I was off work for the last week so went to the library and checked some books out. I started and finished McGuire’s Lost in the Moment and Found (which was good), and started reading Walschot’s Hench and Muir’s Nona the Ninth, both of which I’m enjoying.

    21. Jackalope*

      Don’t know if anyone will see this so late in the weekend, but I thought I’d share a reading-related funny story from last night. I was at a friend’s birthday party and met someone new who confided in me that she’d started reading fantasy for the first time ever during the pandemic (she was in her 60s). She asked me what books I would recommend in the genre. Friends, fantasy is my favorite genre, and I… was at a loss! My whole brain was overloaded with an embarrassment of riches. I first started reading fantasy and books of the fantastical when I was a kid, and have gone on for decades since. From all of the Andrew Lang fairy tale books that my local library had, to classics such as George MacDonald, or Tolkien and Lewis, up to looking at websites each year that give lists of “fantasy novels coming out this year”, I’ve covered a LOT of fantasy ground! For people I know better I can give recommendations based on what their personality was like, but in this case we’d known each other for 10 minutes total. Hah!

      I finally told her what my personal favorites were, and gave a few broad ideas (look up websites of the kind I mentioned or “most popular fantasy”, or something, and see what sounded interesting). Plus I recommended a smattering of popular authors (Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, Tolkien, mumble mumble some others like that who are widely recognized as very popular). But it was a TRIP trying to figure this out.

      Anyone else ever had an experience like that? I’ve had people ask me for fantasy recs before but normally it was from people who’d read them already and had at least SOME idea of what they liked. This was TOUGH.

      1. word nerd*

        That’s an interesting scenario! Yeah, I imagine that was tough. Of course it’s easier to think about after the fact, but maybe seeing if she’d at least seen any movies in the fantasy genre that would help narrow it down a bit based on whether she liked/disliked them? Or maybe also teasing out if she considers sci fi and fantasy in the same category and sorting out which she might like more? Or does she seem more interested in a whole magical world vs. smaller elements of magic in a mostly realistic world? I think I’d feel a bit put on the spot too and would use her other reading interests (assuming she already likes other genres) to help inform my guidance.

    22. Clisby*

      Just finished (on my daughter’s recommendation) “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands” by Kate Beaton. It’s the graphic memoir of the time the author spent (leaving her home in Cape Breton and trekking west to the Alberta oil rush) to work to pay off university loans. It’s not a light read, though – a fair amount of it is kind of grim.

  8. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing! As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    More D&D this week – we killed a monster and now are looking for some treasure. And I played more Fire Emblem Engage this week; slowly making progress.

    1. SparklingBlue*

      Nintendo Switch Online released more Game Boy stuff, so I have been working my way through Kirby’s Dream Land 2 in an attempt to finally see the true ending.

    2. Ariaflame*

      GURPS on Friday, Ticket to Ride Europe on Thursday, and I’ve got some ongoing games on Yucata, a robo rally homage site, and a wingspan game. Last weekend I played Vindication, Dominion and Mind MGMT.

      And a little Stardew Valley.

    3. ShinyDexHunter*

      I had a great session this week! Accidentally let my players get some way too powerful items from a merchant, but made up for it by turning said merchant into a witch on the fly and making them give up something precious in return. Our vain warlock traded his favorite eyelash for a level 8 spell scroll, now he has disadvantage on charisma rolls when face to face with an opponent. Our burly warrior lost his ability to use shortswords in exchange to buy some mythril armor, so now has disadvantage on attack rolls with shortswords, and our obnoxious owlen cleric gave up the proverbial “twinkle in his eye” for some permanent glue. Now his player has to take into account what it feels like to be a 30 year old overworked night shifter before he makes some comment or action that an 14 year old wouldnt think twice about. Then had some major character development over the course of a 40 day trek. (Starting to get into the meat of Hoard of the Dragon Queen). One of my players told me after the session I did a really good job. The validation was really nice as this is my first time DMing and I really do feel like each session is getting better and better!

      In other gaming news, I continue to hunt shiny pokemon in anticipation for Home to be compatible with S/V

    4. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve just started playing Genshin Impact (on my ipad), while I wait for the next Zelda to drop.

      Graphics and voice are very good, and I’m enjoying the game play (single mode playing). Have not spent any money so far.

    5. chloeacd*

      I’ve been replaying Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild before the sequel comes out in a couple of months. It’s my favorite game of all time, and I was sad to be almost done with my playthrough when my partner reminded me that there’s DLC, so I downloaded that and am thrilled to have more challenges to work through before I finish!

    6. Nicki Name*

      My new fave on BGA is None Shall Pass!. It’s a cooperative game about holding back monsters from the dungeon. Wish there were more people playing it.

    7. Onomatopoetic*

      We have tried out Wingspan. It does have a pretty steep learning curve, but I think it might grow on me, I’m looking forward to trying out some features that we left off. It’s a big plus that you can play it with five people. I like learning tidbits about the birds – did you know there’s a condor that pukes on its enemies?

  9. Yoga teachers question*

    Hi all. In completing yoga teacher training through the pandemic a lot of my teaching was virtual. Now I’m getting opportunities to teach in person I’m finding it hard to transition from teach while practicing to guiding postures verbally while walking among the class and observing participants. I feel really uncomfortable watching people practice as it may be distracting to them. Does anyone have tips on how to work through this and build comfort in moving around during the class.

    1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      If it helps, when I was in a f2f class, I wanted the instructor to give me the suggestions around posture, because I didn’t know if I was getting it right. Would reframing it in your mind help, like that’s a reason people go to live classes, for that extra support?

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I’m always amazed at how yoga teachers have really good pedagogy and this is a classic teacher dilemma; support vs independence. I think I would segment the lesson into support sections and independence sections where you start off with something to warm up or recap, move into support sections where you adjust postures and guide, and then go into a more relaxed mode where you are all just practicing together. The next lessons recap will be an opportunity to see if students remember your guidance from the previous lesson. Or something like that! I would definitely have an open dialogue with students too and try different things. But I think if there’s something valuable you found from online teaching you don’t necessarily have to get rid of it.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I started yoga classes at the cancer center just before the pandemic made them all virtual. The corrections in the live class were so helpful! I’d look on it as a valuable benefit that wasn’t available online. Shifting my hips or shoulders teaches me how the pose should feel when I do it again in my kitchen.

    4. GlowCloud*

      I have only done 2 yoga classes, but please be assured that when I’m trying to hold a pose, I’m too focused on the new and interesting sensations going on in my musculo-skeletal system to be bothered by anything else going on around me.

      I also would prefer it if my instructor spent more time walking around and observing – I want to make sure I’m doing it properly so I don’t develop bad habits or strain anything. And I can’t break the pose to look at him if he’s still at the front of the room!

    5. Howleen Wolf*

      I imagine people going to in-person yoga are there because they *want* their instructor to be watching them and suggesting improvements. If they didn’t want anyone to be looking at them they’d be following instructional videos at home.

      1. Reba*

        Agree, it’s not “distracting” to have the teacher looking around, it’s what we are there for!

        One thing that some teachers do, which might alleviate some worry about this, is to have people indicate near the start of the class whether they want corrections or not. Sometimes doing it with eyes closed (although it’s not like you wouldn’t see what’s going on in the rest of the class, but anyway) and combining it with sharing about any injuries or physical issues. This could be hard to manage if it’s a large group, but it’s a gesture I have appreciated.

        1. Howleen Wolf*

          I’ve heard of that and I think it sounds great! I’ve also heard of people using that method to indicate if they’re okay with being touched during corrections.

          One more piece of advice if you (general “you”) are really worried is to make sure you have a pleasant/neutral expression. If you’re naturally very serious or your face just falls into a scowl on its own, people are more likely to feel judged and less comfortable asking questions.

        2. SBT*

          I think I’ve only been to one or two yoga classes, but I remember the teacher had us do something to indicate whether we wanted hands-on corrections. I think it had to do with where we placed our water bottle? But you could also get little paper coasters and have people grab one on the way in to place at the top of their mat if they don’t want to receive that kind of support.

    6. Proofreader*

      One of the reasons I prefer yoga over Tai Chi is that it feels more instructional. Tai Chi is more ‘try to follow the class and maybe you’ll eventually figure it out’. If I attended a yoga class and the instructor did not circulate around the room with advice and/or corrections, I’d be very disappointed.

    7. Team Eve: Parkour Enthusiast*

      First off, congrats on finishing your YTT! I started my yoga teacher training before the pandemic and got the 500 hour in 2020, so I got the best of both worlds, instruction-wise.

      Let the breath be your guide. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what pose we do, although I do like to move in ways that improve balance, strength and flexibility.

      You don’t have to walk around the room if you don’t want to. I tried doing it that way because that’s how my first yoga teacher taught her classes, but that style really doesn’t work for me as it makes me feel uncomfortable, too. (I prefer doing the poses with the class and that style of yoga really doesn’t work for her. ymmv) There’s a school of thought in trauma-informed yoga teaching that actually recommends not to walk around the room looking at students as it amps up students’ stress levels and worry that they’re not “doing it right.”

      You’ll find your style through trial and error. (My classes 5 years ago are really different than they are today.) You’ve built the foundation and now your classes will be your laboratory where you get to try new things and find your voice. Good luck!

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        My teacher does a bit of both. She’ll do moves and some sequences together, mirroring the class (which helps me a lot!) but if there are longer poses or anything tricky she’ll move around discreetly correcting.

        It’s like with any instructional thing – you’ll find your groove and your own best practices.

    8. Jess*

      I taught yoga for years, and I spent much more of my time walking around and observing or doing some demos off of my mat than up front.
      A few things that I tried to keep in mind- when to be still and when to move. If the class is trying to balance, I’d be still or squat low to the ground so I wasn’t distracting to them, and then move when they were moving. For demoing something while you’re facing them, mirror them so they don’t get confused about which side to do. If they didn’t need to be looking at me, I’d try to stay to the side or at the back of the class.
      If you’re going to teach something like an arm balance or a pose that’s a little tricky, that’s a good time to have them take a quick break, talk them through the pose, then give a few minutes for the class to explore while you walk around to help/answer questions. I wasn’t a big fan of doing hands-on adjustments because I liked them to find the work internally, and also for the potential for injury, but I would still walk around and have those moments with students like, what would happen if you were to square off your hips? How does it feel if you try to look up instead of down? or whatever.

  10. Forensic13*

    I’m in the final drafting stages of writing a book which is mostly text messages that also contains what I would call. . . graphical elements? Things like a fake college student ID, a housekeeper door hanger sign for an imaginary motel, that kind of thing. I have made very sad versions in the Google Docs drawing tool, but obviously I would rather up my game.

    Question 1: any suggestions on hiring somebody to create these things? I’m happy to pay, though ideally at “looks reasonable but isn’t perfect” prices.

    Question 2: what should I call said. . . things. . . so I don’t sound completely bananacrackers when I send out hiring queries? Graphics? Photo-realistic images? I don’t want to email people saying “I need you to make me a fake ID.”

    Any suggestions appreciated!

      1. JSPA*

        photo-realist illustration? Or…shudder…some of these seem tailor made for a graphics bot. (Though they probably have a block against making convincing fake ID’s.)

        1. Zebydeb*

          The word you are looking for might be realia (at least in my, British, publishing context).

    1. Jamie Starr*

      Is there an art school, college, or university near you? If so, you could contact the art department and see if they will send out an email to their art majors. (When I was in grad school the dept admin would regularly send us emails with various freelance opportunities related to the program.)

    2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Have you ever used Canvas? They have templates for so many things, I just checked and that includes ID cards and door hangers! You can get a free account and it’s pretty user friendly, I’ve been really happy with it.

      1. AGD*

        Same – this sounds fantastic! (How you publish/distribute the book is up to you, but if you’re going the traditional-publishing route, it would be totally OK – and probably more common – to let the publisher figure out the illustrations.)

        1. Forensic13*

          I do want to do traditional publishing and I assumed that too, hence why they drawings don’t need to be perfect. But I want them not to be complete trash so I can get an agent.

          1. marvin*

            As someone who worked in publishing, I think you would be fine to include brief descriptions of the images rather than going to the trouble or mocking them up. Most publishers prefer not to accept submissions that include design elements, and they might worry that you’re set on including the versions you already have. There might also be rights issues with the artist to negotiate.

            Also, I’d hate to see any writer invest more money in the publishing process than absolutely necessary.

      2. Forensic13*

        Ha, thanks! It’s a comedy thriller. I’ve had a lot of fun writing it (and also many times when it was not fun AT ALL.)

    3. BadCultureFit*

      Don’t do this! Simply insert brackets with a description of the suggested artwork/design/asset.

      I’m a (traditionally) published author and had some elements like this in my first book. I just did things like:


      Please don’t spend your money on this!

    4. OyHiOh*

      I have a coffee table book that describes the sort of thing you’re looking for a graphic ephemera. I don’t know how common the term is but might help you narrow in on the right sort of vendor.

  11. HannahS*

    What resource helped you learn about design? I’m on a reading kick about home decor but I’m hitting a wall where I’m ready to move past the blogger-wrote-a-book-on-farmhouse-chic* resources. I want to understand–and I’m sorry if I’m using the wrong words–concepts like motion and flow and rhythm as they pertain to design. Any recs?

    Also, feel free to share a room from your home that you’re really happy with! I loved the bedroom I had as a young adult. Minty blue/green walls with white trim, with the floors and blinds in light-coloured wood. My duvet cover–the most visible textile in the room–was white with brown branches and brightly coloured birds embroidered on it. It felt light and airy, but not cold.

    *I did actually enjoy “Feels Like Home” by Marian Parsons, which is in that genre but contained some good tips.

    1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I don’t know if this blog addresses flow and rhythm, but I appreciate the blog Style by Emily Henderson. She has a series of posts about design rules for different rooms of the house that I found useful.

      1. HannahS*

        Thanks for the rec! I read Emily’s book and found it forgettable, but even at a quick glance I think her blog might be a nice source of inspiration.

    2. Blue wall*

      The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka. She’s an architect and writes about how architectural details frames a space. A great way to start thinking about design.

      1. fposte*

        And little bit of a tangent, but if you’d be interested in reading about more architectural/town planning elements of design, a work that influences Susanka is the classic A Pattern Language, which I find endlessly fascinating–it’s short entries (like -4 pages, maybe?) devoted to over 200 elements of design that I would never have thought about in isolation, ranging from in-house stuff like filtered light and low window sills to neighborhood-type stuff like household mix and activity nodes. It has limited actionability when you’re just looking at your own house, but it did actually affect some of my design choices and also helped me understand a lot of why I liked what I liked. Plus it’s just cool af.

        1. GoryDetails*

          So happy to see a nod to A Pattern Language! I stumbled across the books decades ago and was enthralled. Lots of thought-provoking little entries – well worth looking up!

          1. fposte*

            It really opened my eyes to the way a built environment shapes how we move in the world and what kind of satisfaction or annoyance is involved.

            1. Blue wall*

              I love A Pattern language! And also it makes life frustrating bc why are townhouses deep instead of why?! And other patterns against patterns.

    3. Llellayena*

      As an architect perusing her home library, I also recommend “A Pattern Language.” It’s not a cover to cover read, but it’s kind of a series of linked articles that you can read like a choose your own adventure book. If you want a little mor in depth and technical, there’s a series called “Building Type Basics…” that cover different building uses (I have “Places of Worship,” “Performing Arts Facilities” and “Senior Living”). Different authors per book so different writing styles. I also always recommend “Why Buildings Fall Down” which covers the reasons behind various structural collapse disasters that have been in the news.

    4. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I don’t know that this is what you’re looking for, but I actually learned a great deal about interior design from Mary Carol Garrity’s books. She owned a high-end furniture store for many years and was expert on layering furniture, art and accessories. Her books are very practical and beautifully illustrated.

      I especially like her first, one Feather Your Nest, which focuses mostly on accessories. This was always my weakest area. Her style may be a little dated, but the store, Nell Hill’s, maintains a blog of fresh styles and fabrics. Good luck.

    5. Wilde*

      Oooo interesting! I’m in exactly the same place as you.

      I’ve been reading “Mad About the House” which is blogger-to-book but she’s British so her homes aren’t farmhouse style. She’s now an interior designer and has lots of great advice for developing personal style within the constraints of your own home. Both of the books I’ve just finished reading are very practical.

      Caroline Winkler on YouTube did some great interior design stuff – check her spare bedroom reno in her parents home or the videos where she suggests updates to her subscribers homes. In those videos she talks about some of the concepts you have described above.

      Following for more recs!

    6. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I am in love with Cliff Tan’s Dear Modern channel on YouTube – it’s all about layout and flow using feng shui principles. I could never get into feng shui before that (too complicated to understand and a bit woo for my taste) but he makes it so accessible and practical. Very entertaining too!

    7. PX*

      Laura Jane Clark is an architect who has some online courses and a book coming out this year about the basics of home design. Might be along the lines of what you want?

  12. Cacofonix*

    Anyone have any experience with a private tour guide/language tutor while travelling? I’m visiting Quebec City for a week next month while my spouse is at a conference. I’m hoping to practice up on my stale and quite terrible French but I don’t want to sit in an immersion classroom. I’m thinking I’d like to find someone to pay to show me around, hang out with me, and help me while I butcher the language. I’ve found tutor or tours, but not a combo.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I think the easiest would be to contact tutors and see if one of them would be willing to walk around the city with you.

        1. Cacofonix*

          I was wondering if it would be better to ask a tutor to give me a tour or a bilingual tour guide to help me with French. I figure it’s what I want more. In a week I’m not going to become fluent, but I can do a decent job on exploring a city. So I think I’ll try to find a patient tour guide.

    1. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve successfully booked private tours through WithLocals (it’s a platform). Maybe you can see what and who comes up for the location?

      There are usually tour suggestions/«standard» tours, but they tend to be fully customizable ( it’s a private tour!), so you could email a potential tour guide and ask about the language paert.

    2. Newly minted higher ed*

      I’ve been the language tutor who did the local tours. In my case a couple came in for a conference from Europe, and his wife contacted the language department where I worked to ask for lessons. It was only a week so I built in tours and activities during the 3 hrs a day she wanted. I was not part of any official organization and the opportunity fell into my lap because of my day job.

      So you might have some luck contacting the university there in Montreal (which is beautiful, I’ve presented at a conference there) to see if there is a student or language teacher who’d like the extra cash to do this. I’d start with their languages department and see if they have a French immersion school program for non-French speakers (like a US English as a Second Language program) for those needing to learn French, as those will be the experienced and trained people to scaffold your French based on your actual level. (Also ESL-type jobs often didn’t pay well compared to the education we had to have when I still did it, so many of us lower on the pay scale were always looking for extra side work to have actual spending money).

      In the world languages department, you’re looking for a grad student ideally. The education department might be a place to look, because they’ll be training their undergraduates to teach languages too, but that might be housed in world languages. Each school is set up a little differently.

      also there are a ton of Vietnamese restaurants there and they are sooooooo good.

    3. California Dreamin'*

      We’ve booked private tour guides through Tours By Locals before that were amazing guides, and I can only assume that they’d have been happy to help me practice in the local language if I’d wanted to. You could find a guide with good reviews and then just ask them if they’d mind some conversation in butchered French!

      1. Cacofonix*

        Thank you, will try. It’s a matter of a great tour guide first vs a great tutor first. I’m thinking a fun tour guide.


    Favorite OTC breakout/acne remedies?

    My face has decided to have a full blown meltdown lately and it’s driving me bananas. It’s likely a combination of stress, hormones, and I can’t help but pick at things so it’s snowballing. I’ll take your tried and true remedies please!

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Not OP, but related question: how have readers treated the marks left over after a breakout?

      I’m on the other side of the full blown stress meltdown, which I just let run its course. I’ve had little flat red / darker marks for months where my huge zits used to be. I wonder whether they’ll ever go away, because my skin turned totally unpredictable in my 30s.

      OP, I’d love to help, but I only had success with a prescription from my dermatologist. My breakouts at the time seemed to suggest a bigger pattern of adult acne, and no OTC product ever made a difference (the much celebrated Cerave moisturiser even made things worse!).

      1. Vitamin C*

        A vitamin c serum would probably help. Gold standard is Skinceuticals CE ferulic, but is pricey (use very little so it does last a long time tho). Or less expensive, Perricone vitamin c. It works for me.

      2. Helvetica*

        I don’t know how accessible it is where you live but I swear by Mizon’s Acence Mark X Blemish After Cream. It truly works like magic and I’d say is quite fast; my blemishes have not been big but it takes maybe 4-5 days and the dark spots are gone.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      As an adult person, I’ve found that the Murad products work for me.

      I use an anti-blemish serum (salicylic-based) for prevention, and they also have an anti-blemish dark spot corrector that I find reduces the red spot/whatever remains. During break-outs, I’ve found those new-fangles acne plasters very helpful.

      As for bumpy scar matter – microneedling on the affected areas have been effective for me. I had 3-4? sessions (chin area), and a year later that was all gone.

    3. Derivative Poster*

      The Zitsticka Killa Kit is the best treatment I’ve found for deep, painful blemishes. This is kind of unfortunate because it’s expensive and uses too much plastic packaging. I keep buying it anyway.

    4. AA Baby Boomer*

      I use Tretinoin Cream .05% (Retin-A) at night (prescription) at night and Mirvaso pump in the a.m. for Rosacea. Be sure to use a night cream over the retin-a or you’ll find your skin peeling. I went to a Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgeryoffice. When I moved to Florida in my 30’s I developed a severe case of cystic acne. They were a great help, and I went ahead and had a chemical peel. It helped with the blackheads in my first appointment. One time I had a mild burn after seeking treatment (new person) in the office. Be sure to keep track of the the brands of peels you ever use. They are constantly changing, and the doctors are sometimes promoting a particular brand that offered a skin care line. I got the entire package, it worked for me but I could afford it than. Cannot do so now. Years ago I was prescribed Accutane (oral) and my blood pressure shot up.

    5. Sundae fun day*

      If you’re a picker, pimple patches made of hydrcolloid are the bomb. If the pimple is open and a little oozy, the sticker will suck out so much of the gunk, speeding up healing exponentially. (I put them on at bedtime and remove in the morning.)

    6. Lilo*

      Long term acne sufferer. I would recommend seeing a pro if you can.

      Otherwise I’m seconding the hydrocolloid patches to keep you from picking or after picking. I’d also potentially try some benzoyl peroxide treatment but keep it right on the blemish itself as that stuff can really dry out your skin.

      The advice that seems counterintuitive – keep moisturizing.

      1. Manders*

        I second seeing a pro. Right as we all started wearing masks in around April 2020 I developed what I figured was stressed-induced acne (I was running a Covid diagnostic lab at the time), or possibly mask-induced acne. It turned out to be rosacea, which was magically disappeared in about 3 days by a dermatologist.

    7. CatCat*

      Mighty Patch is great to help stop picking and speed up healing of the skin. Highly recommend!

    8. NaoNao*

      For me, I figured out that my adult female hormonal acne (you can tell that’s the case if it’s concentrated on the jawline and if you cover up from your nose down, your skin is clear or almost clear) it’s got three “legs”: inflammation, dead skin cells, and too much sebum. A prescription for Sprionolactone helped with reducing sebum production but after 5 years it started to mess with my cycle so I got off it.

      What I now use:

      Zit Sticka Skin Discipline pills every day.

      La Roche Posay effaclear duo adapalene cream daily (there is a purge period with this that’s tough to get through, but after it’s such a huge difference)

      Biome-protecting face wash. I was using Dermala’s Best Cleanse Forever and then they changed the packaging (plus I felt like they were doing shady stuff with constantly shortening the subscription window of shipments) so I can’t tell how much is left and I suspect the bottle holds less. When Best Cleanse Forever came out, it was a very unique product, but now many companies have gotten on the “biome protecting” bandwagon. I switched to Nue. Co.

      The reason I use this is so that my skin doesn’t dry out totally and freak out and produce more oil.

      OTC products will *never* handle adult female hormonal acne completely because of the drivers of too much sebum (internal) and inflammation (internal) so you have to handle those internally, where it starts. I also had gorgeous skin when I went extremely low-dairy for my wedding but that’s not an option for everyone. Low dairy and low sugar *can* help with inflammation but YMMV as to how feasible that is for you.

    9. A*

      I had a terrible bout of acne in November/ December and tried a few things that worked:
      Always wash my hands before I wash my face
      Use miscellar water to cleanse makeup then wash my face with something mild like Cerave
      I also cut out a few sugary snacks and made breakfast smoothies with fruit / veggies which I think helped my skin
      I also used an oil called Blum from Sephora, I really thought it would exasperate the situation but it as worked beautifully, it was an ad on instagram but I was desperate, I love it. They also have a spot lightening cream they sell as a kit

      I was caking my face in foundation and coverup to hide everything but now I’m down to a tinted moisturizer

    10. Gatomon*

      Sulfur soap has been working well for me for the smaller zits. My dermatologist suggested it. It doesn’t smell great, but it’s bearable. I like the Thylox produced by The Grandpa Soap Co. I tried a different brand that had a stronger concentration and perfume first and couldn’t stomach either smell.

      In the US, Differin is now OTC so that’s the other main product I use to fight the larger zits. This combined with the sulfur soap has given me the clearest skin since I tried (and flunked) Accutane. Just remember to only make one change at a time so you don’t aggravate your skin further.


      Thank you everyone! I do use tretinoin (0.05%) and had generally been doing well until the last month or so. I can’t use spiro for hormonal acne as it gave me horrible side effects so I’m left with topical options for the most part! I will look into all of your suggestions!

  14. Rosyglasses*

    Anyone else watch the trainwreck that is Outlast (on Netflix)? Thoughts? Favorites? Villains?

    1. AA Baby Boomer*

      Is it good? I have got started on the Werewolf Pack series on Paramount. I hate waiting for the next episode. I love the supernatural type serious. I had a bit of an issue getting into some of the. Zombie movies.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        It was meh. It’s pitched as a survivalist competition show, but devolved rather quickly and folks that have watched it seem to come down on one of two extremes.

  15. Anon today*

    Recently, my (F, 30s) boyfriend of several years shared that he suspects he may be autistic. I know we have many ND folks here, so I’d love to ask for resources for me to learn more. Books? Podcasts? Instagram follows? I am primarily interested in centering voices of folks with autism (perhaps that doesn’t need to be said). He doesn’t want to seek a diagnosis, and I don’t need advice for him – I’m looking more for information for myself about autism generally and also about being in a relationship with an autistic person. Thanks for any info you can provide!

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I would recommend searching twitter for the hashtag #ActuallyAutistic. I’ve found a lot of useful resources on there.
      Most of the books I’ve read centre on the experience of women and girls (because I’m a woman). But I also searched YouTube and watched some useful videos about autism there. Some people diagnosed a while back were diagnosed as Aspergers, so you might find it helpful to look for resources under that tag too, or Aspie.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      My comment’s gone into moderation, but I also wanted to say that I got a diagnosis off the back of advice I got here in this forum!

      1. All The Cozy Cats Please*

        @ Princess Deviant, I’m on a similar journey, and I’m wondering if you can you tell me more about the steps you took? I’m exploring options for an assessment, and the only path forward I’ve found is paying privately for a registered psychologist (I’m in Canada, and these are the only recognized diagnosing professionals). It’ll cost ~$3000, so not small potatoes, and I’m desperately searching for funding options, with no luck so far. I’d love to hear more about your story:-)

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Of course! I’m in the UK, so my diagnosis was free, for info.

          In the UK, you need to be referred for an assessment by your GP. I spent a long time debating whether or not to actually get a diagnosis because I wasn’t sure if it would help, but in the end I’m glad I did because it’s helped me make sense of lots of things in my life that were previously confusing. That’s been a wonderful and unexpected benefit.

          I liked reading people on Twitter and got lots of ID from them. There was a gent who used to have a pinned tweet about ‘signs you might be autistic’, but he has removed that now. His handle is @ mykola if you want to check him out. His stuff is still good though.
          And someone here recommended Sarah Hendrickx’s Autism in Women And Girls book, which was really helpful.

          It took me a while to book an appointment with the GP, but when I did I took a written list of my difficulties under each of the headings of the triad of impairments, social communication, social interaction, and social imagination/ rigidity of thought.

          I went in and burst into tears so she just ended up reading what I wrote. It’s better for me anyway because I can’t really express myself very well verbally.

          I had to fill in the AQ10 form (which is BS and geared towards a typical male presentation – collecting trains etc), but there is a longer version online, the AQ49 I think? I’d done a test version before the appointment and scored highly, and I’d also used some of the case studies from Hendrickx’s book to help me write a list of my difficulties and be more articulate, so I was prepared.
          I scored either 9 or 10.
          I also had to fill in an ADHD assessment.

          The GP sent that off, then the Autism assessment centre sent me a much longer form to fill in which I had to complete with the help for some questions with a family member. I chose my mother, but it was hard because she didn’t think I was autistic.
          She knows I’m autistic now, but her behaviour still hasn’t changed towards me or my needs.

          Anyway I sent the completed form back. I’m sure they saw the amount of detail I wrote and just thought, yep she’s autistic lol.

          They bring you in face to face for a conversation with 2 specialist health professionals. Mine was with a nurse and a psychiatrist. The idea is that you bring your family member and you’re both interviewed separately, but I told them I wanted to come on my own because I didn’t think my mum was the best judge of my behaviour.
          They allowed that and I had the verbal assessment face to face with both of them.
          They confirmed the diagnosis there and then after we’d talked. Again I burst into tears.
          There were 2 more follow ups with the Autism nurse, which were online at this point as it was at the beginning of the lockdown. I got written confirmation too, but that was more like a record of my assessment as it went into detail and used a lot of the text I’d written for the form.
          I’m glad that I was finally diagnosed, and it was a relief.
          Good luck with your journey! I actually have enjoyed it, even though its been hard in places, such as with family.

          1. All The Cozy Cats Please*

            Amazing! Thank you soooooo much for your thoughtful response! We’ve been on parallel journeys, but I’m a year behind you lol. I’m going to take some time to process all the this information and check out the resources you mentioned, but it’s reassuring to know that the process is full of ups and downs, even with funding. Sarah’s influence in the field of autism and women has far reaching impacts – all the way to Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada, and I’m looking forward to checking out the other resources you mentioned. Thank you again!

            1. Princess Deviant*

              You’re welcome! ‘Also anon for this’ had posted the mykola twitter thread below which I was trying to find before. That’s great, I recommend it.
              Lots of luck! It’ll be good to hear how you get on, if you feel comfortable sharing here. All the best to you!

              1. All The Cozy Cats Please*

                Perfect! I’m definitely leaning towards testing, but the cost and long waitlists might stretch the process out a bit longer than I’d like. I’ll try to post an update here (not the best at follow through, but I’ll try!) when I’ve some news to report. Thanks again for your thoughtful responses!!!

    3. JustForThis*

      If I understand you correctly, your boyfriend is not officially diagnosed and does not seek diagnosis right now. So it seems to me that it might also be helpful to explore this situation more: Why does he suspects that he is autistic, how does this self-diagnosis impact him (e.g. it could allow him to explain specific challenges he faces), and what kind of reaction does he thinks could be helpful from you. Does he expect you to confirm his self-diagnosis? General support in this process of exploring a possible diagnosis? etc.

      1. Not Australian*

        In addition. a good question would be “What difference will a formal diagnosis make to my/our life?” Recently my DH has confided that he thinks he may be “slightly” autistic (his words), and I wouldn’t be at all surprised. However we’ve both decided that at our ages – both staring down the big 7-0 – there really is nothing to be gained by having our suspicions confirmed, and whatever resources may be available are probably better directed towards younger people. Obviously we’re all in different situations, but I do think “What do I stand to gain/lose from a formal diagnosis?” is a valid question at any age and it may sometimes not be considered at an early enough stage in the process.

    4. fposte*

      I’m NT, but I loved Fern Brady’s recent memoir “Strong Female Character.” It’s much more about women with autism, including some footnotes, but I found it really eyeopening on how much growing up undiagnosed/unsupported left marks on her life and also how little she found to help her figure out management as an adult; she talks about tracking her patterns in a journal to figure out contributors to her meltdowns, for instance.

    5. Generic Name*

      If you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person. So what’s helpful/supportive for one autistic person isn’t necessarily helpful/supportive for another. So I’d ask him how he would like you to support him, and why he feels he’s autistic.

      My son is autistic (level 1), and here’s what helps him: clear expectations, knowing what the plan is if we are off our normal routine, preparing him for big changes well in advance (I started preparing him to switch bedrooms a couple of years before I knew he would outgrow his tiny bedroom with bunk bed), knowing that he takes things very literally, giving him (quiet and unobtrusive because he’s an easily embarrassed teenager) explicit instructions on what to do in new social situations.

      But most of these are things I do as his mother to teach him how to make his way in the world. As a girlfriend, it isn’t your responsibility to parent your boyfriend. Please also don’t feel like you need to sacrifice your well being for his comfort/preferences. It can be a fine balance. Your comfort and preferences matter too. I’m projecting more than a bit from my own experience, I admit.

      An autism diagnosis (whether it’s a medical or a self-diagnosis) is information about how a person’s brain works, and isn’t an excuse for poor behavior. It’s okay for him, for example, to sometimes feel overwhelmed and need to step outside for a bit to escape a noisy restaurant. It’s not okay for him to feel overwhelmed and then yell at you as his outlet.

    6. Also anon, just for this*

      I’m in a long-term relationship, suspect I’m autistic, and am likely not going to seek a diagnosis. Just want to point out that as you’re seeking resources about being in a relationship with an autistic person (especially since ‘if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person’) that right now, *you* have more expertise on the topic of being in a relationship with *your boyfriend* than probably anyone else. A new awareness of possible neurodivergence doesn’t change who he is; he’s still the person he has been for the past three years. (My partner was the one who pointed this out to me when we started having this discussion and I cannot thank her enough for it.)

      I think it may be most helpful as you learn about autism not to start thinking of ‘he does this/is this certain way because he’s autistic so it can never change’ but rather ‘as we navigate many of the same things just about every couple navigates to some extent, we will have to keep in mind the fact that some solutions may be more feasible or onerous than others because of how our brains are wired’.

      As for resources, I went for:
      -I Think I Might Be Autistic by Cynthia Kim
      -Uncomfortable Labels by Laura Kate Dale
      -Amythest Schaber on YouTube (and some other YouTubers on a one-off basis as individual video topics interested me)
      -#ActuallyAutistic on Twitter (this had limited utility for me personally, but reading non-tagged tweets by some of the folks using the tag was interesting as well)

    7. Irish Teacher*

      One thing to possibly google for is the “double empathy problem,” if you haven’t already heard of it. It basically means that communication problem can arise between autistic people and neurotypical people, not because of faults on either side but because they see the world differently and both autistic and neurotypical people can interpret the other’s actions as being difficult or judgemental when that is not the intent.

      There is a website, Wrongplanet, which has a lot of discussion about autism.

  16. anon for this one*

    Any recs for night sweats? I suspect the culprit is some new meds (unlikely to be menopause) so I’m considering whether a new mattress topper or sheets or something would help. The issue is that I never *feel* too warm- I’m chilly when I go to bed, then I gradually warm up under the covers, then fall asleep, then wake up all sweaty and cold again because of it. So I’m inclined to go more toward the “breathable/moisture-wicking” side of things than the “cooling” side of things, but it’s hard to tell what will actually help.

    1. anxiousGrad*

      Maybe merino wool base layers, like a merino wool t-shirt and leggings? I got those items to wear as base layers in super cold weather but I’ve found that the t-shirt is also good for hiking in warm weather because the wool kind of just keeps you at the same temperature.

    2. Lilo*

      I had a lot of night sweats post partum/breastfeeding (hormones get messed up). I’d recommend one of those cooling blankets (they’re not actively cooling they just wick heat away).

    3. Courageous cat*

      Many antidepressants give me night sweats in the first 6 or so weeks, then it passes.

    4. Bluebell*

      Have you tried changing your clothing? I’m a fan of Cooljams. That company also sells beddings, but it’s mostly bamboo- not anything super fancy.

    5. Imtheone*

      I, too, am cold when I climb in bed, but also wake up very hot.

      A chill pillow. I have one which goes under (or over) the regular pillow. Many people fine that cooling down one’s head helps a lot. I flip my pillow to the cool side. With the “chillow,” I can flip it another time and continue to get the cool side.

      I also have pjs that are made of a cooling fabric. Which helps when I have to throw the covers back.

    6. A*

      I run the ceiling fan, even in the winter
      I throw an extra blanket on top of the duvet, hubs snuggles in but I kick off as I need

      Peri- menopause, it comes and goes, and is disruptive

    7. California Dreamin'*

      When I had menopausal night sweats, I switched to cotton percale sheets and cooler material PJs (no long sleeves anymore.) I’m still chilly when I go to bed and wake up in the night hot, so often I’ll wear fuzzy socks when I go to bed and then need to shove them off my feet when I wake up at 4AM.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      This may sound counter intuitive, but I use an electric mattress pad. I preheat the bed while I brush my teeth and such.
      That way, I don’t need to pile on multiple quilts because I’m cold, which then become excessive once the bed gets warm.
      It’s also easier to get to sleep when not shivering.

    9. Lapsed Economist*

      Worth checking in with your doctor: in some not totally uncommon cases, night sweats are a symptom of serious disease, eg cancer.

  17. Happenstance*

    Where do you get quality blazers? I’m going for a business casual look. Bonus points if I can push up the sleeves. I am a woman and a bit busty.

    1. AA Baby Boomer*

      I like Belk’s, but they are a southern clothing chain and Macy’s for jackets. I have noticed a trend to more casual clothes at Belk’s since COVID, the ladies suits and work attire have started returning to the stores a few months ago. COVID has really changed what you can find in the physical store. The brands that I really like, that are more work related are disappearing and leisure wear, or baggy & loose fitting is what I’m finding. The entire petite section at Belk’s is gone. You will find petites mixed in with the brand; but very limited. Talbots, Cold Water Creek has dress jackets ( but they wouldn’t serve in a conservative office). I’m taking it as a disservice with Belk’s focusing on WFH attire since we are starting to return to the office.

      1. HoundMom*

        Jones NY which is on-line only I think now. I like Dillards when I am in the south (there are none near me in the NE.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      @caralynmirand on IG has some fantastic recommendations. I get mine from Ann Taylor and J Crew primarily for structured. FrenchMauve has more of a knit jacket look with 3/4 sleeves that is super flowy and comfortable and comes in a ton of colors.

    1. Ariaflame*

      I made huevos rancheros for breakfast. Which is a bit more effort than I usually put in.

    2. StellaBella*

      I just started a huge pot of pasta sauce with pork, spinach, tomatoes etc for lunches and dinners for next 4 days. I plan to also roast a lot of carrots for soup this week too. I heavily roast them with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper then dice and add to broth and cream.

    3. Princess Deviant*

      I’ve made some really tasty black bean burgers, and a roasted cauliflower chickpea coconut curry. So far so delicious.
      I need to go food shopping today. I’m always stuck for what I can get for lunches.
      I’ll probably have the burgers for lunch because I can cook those in the air fryer from frozen, and I’ll most likely get some roasted red peppers and pasta for some baked dish later in the week (although I think my oven is on the blink) :(
      As a quick snack I’ve been eating couscous soaked in veg stock, then I fork some olive oil and grated carrot through it before eating. Also works with cherry tomatoes.

    4. UKDancer*

      I’m doing some beef fajitas tonight which are one of my favourite things although they’re probably not very authentic. Then I think I’ll make amatriciana sauce tomorrow and do some pasta. I cook less during the week because I’m in the office so I make plenty at the weekend and then eat the leftovers.

    5. Vistaloopy*

      I made Lucky Charms treats on Thursday night and they were gone by Friday (3 person household). Even better than Rice Krispie treats!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love making cereal treats with Cinnamon Toast Crunch – especially, in the fall, with the pumpkin spice marshmallows that are available sometimes. SO good.

    6. Bluebell*

      The NYT has a tofu and green beans braised in coconut milk and miso. I’m switching it to broccoli and making it for a sick friend. Was going to make enchiladas for dinner guests but we rescheduled because my beloved faucet is broken and new part won’t arrive til Monday. The downside of a fancy faucet.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Pork roast! The store had pork butt for $0.88/lb, and I have a super simple recipe by Food Network, which is basically: rub the roast all over with the mixture of Olive oil+ minced garlic + pepper, roast at 425 for 20 minutes, and then at 325 for few hour hours, until it reaches 185 degrees.
      It feels like it would be super dry, but it turns out awesome every time.
      Called: Simple Roasted Pork Shoulder by Aaron McCargo Jr.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        You do have to adjust the time based on the weight, last time it took me about 6 hours to finish cooking.

    8. Elle*

      Instant pot beef barley soup, semi homemade matzo ball soup, Smitten Kitchens roasted yams and chickpea, apple baked oatmeal, maybe Half Baked Harvests new recipe for sheet pan buffalo chicken.

      1. Elle*

        Here’s another good one for meal prep-I made Pinch of Yum’s cous cous and chickpea skillet. Very easy and tasty. It didn’t make a large portion so you may need to double to get leftovers.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      Also, I recently made the White Bean and Potato Stew with Corn from Umami Girl and it was amazing. Vegetarian ( I am trying to eat less meat overall), smoky, spicy, warm, and filling. And so many veggies.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I got my Hello Fresh box and was pleased with several of the recipes, including one that featured a maple/sage butter in the mashed sweet potatoes – wouldn’t have thought of adding sage, but it really helped balance the sweet ingredients.

      Also loved the blackened tilapia with red beans and rice. (Oddly enough, I’ve never liked kidney beans when they’re whole, but when they’re cooked with peppers and spices and are then mashed, they’re delicious!)

    11. Texan In Exile*

      My husband’s stepdaughters taught me to make gimbap, pancit, and adobo last week when we visited them in California, so I am making gimbap today with what I have. I know red pepper and zucchini are not authentic ingredients, but it still tastes amazing.

    12. Single Noun*

      Cabbage kielbasa skillet: chop up cabbage, onion, potatoes, kielbasa, put in big pan with a stick of butter, add a can of diced tomatoes with chiles. :) Tried it once before without the potatoes but this time I want to make it a one-pot meal- hopefully timing won’t be too much of an issue since nothing should be harmed by overcooking.

      (Also, I had some ricotta left over from a baked ziti so I turned that into cannoli dip and it is delicious.)

    13. sewsandreads*

      I’m thinking of a shakshouka later this week, and possibly some muffins today! It’s birthday week for me so between a few family dinners and work dinners I’m really not needing to cook too much. Haunting this thread for another dinner option to have on standby!

    14. Llama face!*

      Technically this is baking, not cooking, but I just tried making a no knead bread in a cast iron pot forthe first time and it was a success! It took 2 days because the dough sits and rises for up to 20 hrs but the actual work of it was minimal. Turns out this recipe makes really delicious toast!

    15. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I’ve been in soup mode for a few weeks. It feels (well, almost) like money in the bank to have a couple of big containers of home-made soup in the fridge that I can alternate for a couple of nights each. I freshen them up by adding spinach or kale or some other soupable veg, or sauteing garlic or something like that to add to the soup. This week I’m planning a hot-and-sour soup and a bean soup.

    16. carcinization*

      I made a half recipe of Half-Baked Harvest’s Tijuana Street Fries yesterday with just some minor adjustments… It was really good/decadent but I would definitely only make it on a day off, as it was a fair amount of work. The amount of fries was correct for 2 reasonably hungry people, but I have a little bit of queso, a moderate amount of meat, and a large amount of salsa left, so will be having nachos for dinner tomorrow with the leftovers. I made Homesick Texan’s version of Texas Sheet Cake at the beginning of the week (I’ve made it several times before), and my husband took half of it to his work with rave reviews. Those were probably the high points of the week.

    17. Manders*

      I just made my lunch for 3-4 days – a Mediterranean salad. Tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, cucumber, feta, some quinoa and Trader Joe’s Greek Chickpeas with Parsley and Cumin. Added a little extra lemon (there’s some in the chickpeas), and put over romaine.

  18. AA Baby Boomer*

    I have been watching :Yes, to the Dress (not full episodes) on U-tube. I’ve noticed quite a few times that the Mother-in-Law has been part of the bride’s Entourage. I can understand if the husband’s culture or religion is more conservative.; or the mother is not alive, etc., But is that a thing? And is it normal for a large group attends during consulting visit and get a say in the purchase of the wedding dress? I feel that it muddies the water and you end up with a upset bride.

    1. Pam Adams*

      My opinion is that she’s there for possible pot-stirring. An upset bride means good ratings.

      1. AA Baby Boomer*

        True. I have seen one where the sister behaved so badly, it was done for the camera. she was grinning the entire time she was climbing up under a dress form with a dress (teenager). I was wondering if this was a new thing or for TV ratings.

    2. BookLovinRN*

      It is odd to me as well. I have to think since it is made for TV the more people = more drama = more viewers?

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think very little of what you see on reality shows is normal :) but I ordered my wedding dress on Amazon, so what do I know. :)

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I would tell any bride to go shop alone, or with the support of the person who she’d normally choose to buy a formal gown with. Then, you present it as a fait accompli and care not about any rude opinions. I would say this even if the bride has a lot of people who want to do the bridal shop thing. You can go and try some dresses on with people without it being the real shopping excursion.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I mean, I think this is excellent advice for buying a dress and poor advice for generating massive drama for filming purposes.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      When my friend chose her wedding dress, she invited her mother, me, her cousin, another friend and I can’t remember whether she asked her mother-in-law or not, but she and her mother-in-law are close, so I think it would be normal for her to have done so.

      The woman running the shop told us that she was relieved that we just supported my friend because it wasn’t unusual for the bride’s mother or sister to decide, “no, I want her in that one,” regardless of what the bride wanted. So it sounds like it’s not uncommon.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Lots of things are normal. An action can be routine in one social group and unusual in another. Looking at wedding dresses can just mean that the future mother-in-law thought this sounded fun, and the future daughter-in-law was happy to include her. Like looking at very tiny hats for an impending newborn can be fun if you don’t normally have any excuse to do this.

      Questions for the bride to ponder:
      • Do I enjoy shopping with my friends and family, so this would be a fun special shopping trip?
      • Do I want advice on what looks good vs ridiculous? Are these people good sources of that advice?
      • Do I want to be on a reality TV show? If so, can I pull together a band of people likely to add saucy drama to the proceedings?

      Personally I do not enjoy shopping for clothes. But if my daughter or a future daughter-in-law asked me to come I would be touched and do it.

    7. Wedding Boutique Manager*

      It’s reality TV, not real life. Of COURSE it’s for dramatic effect. Nothing you see is actually how this stuff works. Never forget that!

      No one is watching a TV show about the boring reality of wedding dress shopping.

    8. Valancy Snaith*

      I worked in bridal retail for quite some time.

      Probably 80% of brides brought multiple people to their appointments, but usually more like 3-4 people. Very very very common to see the bride, her mom, her sister/s, a friend or two/maid of honour. Not unusual to see the mother of the groom there but also not as common. My boutique asked people to limit their parties to 5 due to space, which is also very common. Say Yes to the Dress has the space to accommodate tons of people in a way most boutiques do not.

      As for their behaviour…most people were nice. Most people are not trying to tear down the brides. I was not normally privy to what the group would be saying while I worked with the bride, but it was very uncommon that they were on a mission to create drama. I did encounter some who were pretty direct in saying they didn’t like a dress or whatever, but rarely just for the drama.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      When I got married a million years ago, I only brought my mother and maternal grandmother. My nieces, who all have gotten married way more recently, only brought their mother and each other
      I can’t imagine bringing a MIL

      I watch that show on YouTube as well and am usually astounded at the behavior and the size of the entourages!

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      When I was dress shopping (well before reality TV was a thing) I invited my mom, my best friend, and my future mother in law. since she only had boys, I thought she might enjoy it. It turned out to be a great idea, as she was able to divert my mother (normally VERY critical of how I looked) when Mom started up, and she and Mom also both found their dresses in the same shop. Mom and MIL ended up being very good friends all the way up until MIL’s death in 2021 (in her 90s, she had a good life…the dress shopping happened in the 1990s.)

      1. Bookworm in Stitches*

        Thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing your mother-in-law. My daughter-in-law did not include me. That was up to her and I love her unconditionally because she loves my son and they are happy. I know that she also likes to keep things low key. I’m very grateful to my niece who had already included me in her dress shopping the year before for the very reason of me just having sons.

    11. FrontlinER*

      I only brought my mother and my two grandmothers. My maid of honor lives in a different state so that was out of the question. I honestly love my mother-in-law, but didn’t invite her to come mostly due to the limits the bridal store had on group size. i think, like others have said, it’s all done for drama and ratings.

    12. PhyllisB*

      When I married (back in the dark ages) entourages weren’t a thing. I went by myself to look for a wedding dress and had no luck whatsoever. I asked my mother to come with me because she has good fashion sense. We happened to walk through the prom dress department of our local McRae’s (now known as Belk) and spotted the PERFECT dress. Best of all, it was on sale for $40.00.
      When my oldest daughter married she, my youngest daughter, and I went together. It was fun!! When my youngest daughter married she asked just me to come along. I think she really would have rather gone alone, but she knew I would be paying for it… we also had a good day, no drama with any of us.

    13. Christmas Carol*

      My nephew, who is one of two boys, married a charming girl who came from a large family with mulitple sisters. This sweet girl invited her Monther-in-Law to come along dress shopping, reasoning that other wise MIL would otherwise get to do that as being limited to only ever being a Mother of the Groom. Only one of the many reasons we adore her.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      I’ve never been wedding dress shopping, but that show turned me off completely work their plus size spin off. It was so terrible.

    15. Double A*

      Are you talking about why a MIL would be there on the show or on real life? A lot of people get along well with the MILs (they raised the person you’re marrying after all), so it completely makes sense to me they might invite her. That doesn’t seem inherently weird or conservative to me.

      On TV I’d assume it’s more chances for drama as people are saying.

    16. Nihil Scio*

      When my daughter went dress shopping last summer, she brought me, her future MIL, her sister (MOH), and her two bridesmaids (including her future SIL). It was lovely and supportive and she looked fabulous in everything. The chosen gown was found at the third shop and it was obviously ‘the one’ as her sister burst into tears of happiness. My daughter completely agreed. It was a wonderful experience.

    17. Maple Bar*

      Wait wait– I’m trying to understand, you are confused as to why the groom’s mother might go along with the bride for wedding dress shopping? I’m kind of baffled by that because like, maybe they just like each other? They are, in essence, family, and while that may not always be a close relationship it absolutely can be.

      It’s also not unusual for any family member, no matter how tenuously connected, to want to be a part of a lot of wedding decisions that don’t involve them and get very crappy about it. When I was dress shopping I chatted about that with the sales ladies helping me (usually in mentioning why I didn’t bring my mom with me) and every single one said that family members coming in and insulting the bride the whole time is extremely common. Like every day they get family members sitting there telling the bride they’re with that they look ugly or snipping about their weight or insulting them in whatever personal way they clearly have a history with, and usually it’s the bride’s mom doing it. The owner of the shop was the one helping me in one place, and she says they have to have an entire protocol for breaking up fights and removing people who are being particularly nasty. So unfortunately I don’t think this is something the show has to create on purpose for drama, it’s really what bridal shops are like most of the time.

    18. California Dreamin'*

      Years ago I only had my mom with me, and it’s one of my best memories. We had so much fun and both instantly knew when it was the right dress. She was paying, so I wouldn’t have imagined shopping without her. When my niece got married a couple years ago, she had her mom and her sisters, my MIL (her grandma), my SIL (her aunt), and I’m pretty certain her MIL-to-be was there, too. I’m sure I would have also been invited if I lived locally. It seemed like a big group to me, but I think that’s often how brides do it these days. None of these women would have been anything but loving and supportive and in awe of her bride-ly beauty, so no drama ensued!

    19. KR*

      I always think it’s so interesting how close everyone seems to be and how well they seem to know each other. I think my father and one of my 4 siblings has met my in-laws twice. I can’t imagine everyone living so close and all being available on the same day to watch me try on some dresses.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I think this depends very much on the situation. If the couple are living far from their families and met through work or college, then yeah, there’s a good chance the families won’t know each other very well, but if both families are from a small village or neighbouring villages and maybe were introduced by a mutual friend or the groom’s sister was a friend of the bride’s or if the couple started dating in their ‘teens, it’s far more likely that the families would know each other too.

    20. HBJ*

      I think we think it’s unusual because of the “horrid mother-in-law” stereotype. I have a great relationship with my inlaws, and I probably would have asked her to come if she was around, and I’d gone dress shopping. (I ordered my dress online and never went to any bridal shops).

    21. Patty Mayonnaise*

      My MIL came with me to shop for a gown! I actually had two gowns for cultural reasons and she helped me get both. Western weddings were relatively new to her so I thought it would be nice to include her in the process of getting the white gown, plus my husband is an only child so she might not do dress shopping with anyone else. And the red gown was her family tradition so of course she would come to that.

  19. Valancy Snaith*

    I worked in bridal retail for quite some time.

    Probably 80% of brides brought multiple people to their appointments, but usually more like 3-4 people. Very very very common to see the bride, her mom, her sister/s, a friend or two/maid of honour. Not unusual to see the mother of the groom there but also not as common. My boutique asked people to limit their parties to 5 due to space, which is also very common. Say Yes to the Dress has the space to accommodate tons of people in a way most boutiques do not.

    As for their behaviour…most people were nice. Most people are not trying to tear down the brides. I was not normally privy to what the group would be saying while I worked with the bride, but it was very uncommon that they were on a mission to create drama. I did encounter some who were pretty direct in saying they didn’t like a dress or whatever, but rarely just for the drama.

  20. WellRed*

    I learned this week that my car won’t pass inspection without massive work. I knew the end was coming but I’m in a bit of sticker shock. Who can afford a $400 car payment? For a used car? I don’t even know where to begin.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yuck! (I have a car in my driveway for sale for two grand, but that probably doesn’t help you for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that you are not, as I recall, anywhere near Indiana.)

      If you have at least a general idea of what you want, I had a very good, low-pressure, fairly speedy experience with Carvana, including a trade-in that they gave me a very good value for. I knew exactly what I wanted, but they have a pretty good search function with a lot of different things you can filter by. They offer their own financing with a pretty good range of flexibility, or you can bring your own if you have a financier (?) that you prefer. And being national, they have a bit more range of inventory than a local dealer would, though you may have to pay a delivery surcharge if you pick a car that has to be brought in from a few states away.

      1. fposte*

        I loved the idea of Carvana, but they are in serious legal trouble these days (they’re actually banned from operating in my state) because they have a big pattern of failing to get buyers the titles to their car after purchase and have abused registration workarounds to compensate.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I think when they work they’re great. It’s just that they’ve started to have more problems with the “working” thing.

    2. Llama Llama*

      Are you willing to travel to get your car? My husband found most of our vehicles in other states and traveled to get them as he found deals elsewhere.
      He also just sold a truck to friend who lived 22 hrs away and got a company to ship it (I think that was around $500?).
      But good luck, car prices are ridiculous.

    3. Alex*

      I just went ahead and bought new because the price difference was so small. I’ve had my new car two years now and keep getting notices from the dealer about trading it in–for the same amount I paid! It hasn’t depreciated at all, because of the used car market.

      However, I was lucky and the dealer had just what i wanted in stock. I’ve heard of others having to wait months, so, YMMV.

    4. I'm Done*

      Check car rental sales. They have physical dales locations but you can check their inventory online. At least one of them let’s you test the car for a period of time before you actually buy it, or not. I bought my last three cars from those places. The last one I bought in 2020 and I paid 2/3rd of Blue Book value. There is no negotiation on the price. What’s on the sticker is what you pay. So no pushy sales tactics to deal with.

    5. Ellen Ripley*

      Have you gotten an estimate on a car loan already or is that $400 just a guess? I live in a high COL area, have good credit, bought a used Honda Civic and my monthly payment is $150.

    6. RagingADHD*

      We went on Craigslist and bought through private sale (Kelly Blue Book is your friend).

      We got an ugly, but mechanically very good car for about half to a third of what dealerships were charging for the same model. Dealerships don’t give good trade-in value for cars with significant cosmetic damage, so it was a better deal for both of us.

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      And it’s scary to think that the average new car payment is now approaching $1000 a month.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Carfax or a similar report is always useful. A lot of times, shady people will manage to avoid getting the flood damage / repair listed in the vehicle history, but you can see the ownership history and whether it was in a flood zone and then quickly sold / transferred.

    8. slashgirl*

      My last two cars were bought brand new. I financed (NOT a lease, actual loan payments) via bank but through the dealership; one was at 0.1%, the next was about 1%. My biweekly payments were around $170 for 6 years on my current car and that was with no down payment. This meant I had 5-6 year warranties on the vehicles–luckily only had to use it a couple times as the cars were pretty good.

      I had honestly thought I’d never have a brand new vehicle. And I’ll probably be looking to get another vehicle soon, and will def be looking at financing like I did for the last two. I know folks way new cars can have issues–but at least if they do, most of them will be covered by the warranty.

  21. Ingrid*

    Does anyone have recommendations for petite online shops in Scandinavia?

    My mother is in a wheelchair and needs new jeans which can handle being… well… handled. Being pulled up in belt straps/waistline to adjust her. The homecare assistants are pulling hard enough that the ones she has now (from Zalando) have holes under the straps. We need something sturdy but also with some elastane to allow easier dressing and undressing.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s really likely on any jeans where the waistband is being subject to that kind of high resistance, and higher elastane content usually means a lighter build than, say, work Levis. So in addition to looking for jeans brands I’d ask at tailors about ways to reinforce the waistband and loops on the type of jeans that otherwise work. I don’t sew, but I would imagine that doubling up on the waistband and loop fabric and doing more heavy-duty stitching might help.

    2. AnonRN*

      Is it possible to convince the carers to use a pad or drawsheet under her for adjustments rather than pulling on her clothes? It would certainly be more comfortable for her…being pulled up by her blue jeans must give her a terrible wedgie (not to put too fine a point on it!), and heavy seams in thick fabric tend to lead to pressure spots. Is she wearing jeans because she likes them, or because they use them to reposition her? If she’d be more comfortable in something softer/stretchier, I’d definitely lean towards finding other methods to move her.

      There are also anti-slip, pressure-relieving wheelchair cushions (I’m mostly familiar with the Roho brand) that might help her stay in position longer. If she works with a physical therapist, maybe they can show the carers some techniques for chair-position adjustment and transfers in/out.

      1. Ingrid*

        Thanks! She says that the problem is when they don’t sit her properly in her chair (using a loft lift), they take hold of the side of her jeans to adjust her thighs and cheeks. So the problem is taking their time instead of rushing. But we aren’t employing them; it is through the county so we can’t just pay them more hours to take it slow.
        She likes her jeans.
        Good idea with the cushions. I will have to look into that.

    3. DistantAudacity*

      Unfortunately not!

      I, as a petite person in Scandinavia, have tended to shop for trousers when travelling to the UK/London; this was in the before times. Also still have some excellemt Gap jeans bought in Chicago.

      My recommendation would be to get the sturdy (and probably stretchy) jeans of your choice, and get them tailored. You can always get them delivered to you, get the length tailored (at least fairly closely) and then send them in. Hassle factor, being short in Scandi! I routinely need 1o – 11 cms off of the lenght of my pants.

      Of course, if you want to deal with extra customs costs etc, a lot of UK shops deliver internationally. Costs extra ££, though.

      1. Ingrid*

        I remember visiting the UK and for the first time seeing a petite “department” in a fashion store. It was just some racks in a corner but I was so awed!

        Tailor seems to be the best bet, yes. Find good jeans in a standard size (as that gives more options) and then get them shortened and the waistband reinforced.

  22. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

    I am hoping there are some AAM followers out there who can give advice on a fraught ailing parent situation.

    My in laws are in their 70’s, and my father in law is currently in pretty bad health. He has had multiple strokes and refused to be taken to the hospital right away after them, so is now essentially permanently disabled. He is continuing to become more weak, immobile, and is now incontinent. My mother in law is becoming increasingly exhausted and despairing of caring for him. Currently my father in law is in the hospital after having some worrying symptoms.

    The problem is they are completely broke. They ran their own business for many years and it recently went bankrupt. They have no retirement and no savings, and are living on my father in law’s social security, which is about $3000 a month. Unfortunately my mother in law does not have SS, as she moved here on a green card marriage from a Western European country and never got a paycheck. We’re looking into if she has any benefits from that country, but if she does, it likely will not amount to anything.

    Other family members have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on getting my in laws to move out of their previous much more expensive state far from family, and have also exhausted their emotional resources. A number of other family members including a sibling in law live nearby, but no one is willing to take them in or live with them (I do not blame anyone for that). My husband and I live a few hours plane ride away and have full time jobs, and I myself have a parent who is terminally ill.

    I know a family member is talking to a social worker, and I recommend that someone start talking to an elder lawyer.

    We think that if my father in law can get into a facility, then Medicaid will take over payment. Can anyone confirm if that is true?

    My husband and I think the worst outcome would be that they become wards of the state since no one will take them in.

    If anyone has any experience with this or any other avenues we haven’t looked at, I would be so grateful for the advice. They live in North Carolina.

    I would also love any advice for maintaining my own boundaries in this situation. The family member that is spearheading these discussions has already said that my husband and I need to really step up our game here. I personally feel my role in this is to support my partner, which can mean many things. But I don’t want to be told by someone I am not even related to that I am not doing enough! I’m usually pretty good at boundaries, but this family member can be very demanding and persuasive.

    Thank you all.

    1. RMNPgirl*

      Regarding Medicaid – yes, if they have no resources then Medicaid will take over and pay towards a nursing home for them, although they will take into account the social security as well in terms of what they’ll pay.
      My grandparents ended up in this situation and it worked out well for them and my parents. Their nursing home had social workers available to help with filling out the Medicaid information and other things they needed. Maybe contact some nursing homes to see if they have someone available to speak with?

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        I think someone is doing that, and if not we will suggest it or do it. Thank you!

    2. fposte*

      I’m sorry. This is an unfortunately common situation and it is often difficult. One place to start might be seeing if you can talk to a SHIP counselor in NC–that’s a federally funded program to help people navigate costs of elder health, and hopefully they can give some info over the phone even if you’re out of state. Their focus is on Medicare but at least in my state they can speak to Medicaid as well, and there will likely be some juggling of the two in this situation. Definitely also agree on speaking to a certified elder law attorney in NC, but the SHIP counselor is free so might be an easier start.

      From what I can see, NC Medicaid, as it does in my state, will pay for a skilled nursing facility for a resident whose income is below the threshold. It may cover part but not all of the costs for assisted living. There is in Medicaid the five year lookback, so any significant assets transferred five years prior to application may affect the income qualification (you can’t just sell off five vacation houses and then claim poverty, basically). What often needs special attention in a couple is that they may have different needs and qualifications; he may qualify to be in skilled nursing while she may not, for instance. And while it’s true that Medicaid will cover skilled nursing, it covers it at a facility that accepts it, which isn’t all of them, especially for a direct admission on Medicaid, and there may be a waitlist for Medicaid beds, so the sooner this can be planned for the better. (Medicare will also pay for short term skilled nursing, and it’s not uncommon for people to transition from Medicare to Medicaid payment.)

      Usually what’s technically “ward of the state” is a guardianship/conservatorship; it merely means that the person has been judged incapable of making their own decisions and thus incapable of granting somebody a power of attorney/medical power of attorney, so the court rules that somebody else, like your husband, is authorized to make decisions for that person. So it’s basically the state granting POA/mPOA powers. It doesn’t usually mean the family is iced out from making decisions, just that the state recognizes the person can’t do it for themselves. Disclaimer on the above: not a lawyer, not in NC, just went through this with two separate friends in my state.

      As far as the boundaries go, I’d see what your husband says about this. But my inclination would be to support your husband in private but absent yourself from public discussions, meetings, etc. on the grounds that you have your own parent in need to support.

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        Thank you so much. I don’t think anyone has POA in place, so that was my first suggestion is to have my MIL get for my FIL, and then one of the adult children to have second POA.

    3. Generic Name*

      My father in law was in a similar situation. He had no money. Worked for years “under the table”/spent time in jail so had very little social security income. He was a scoundrel, but my husband loved him. After he died, we got a single-page letter from some Medicare that I found darkly hilarious. It said something along the lines of:
      Value of patient assets: $0
      Cost of care: $XX,XXX
      Patient responsibility: $0

      So, if they have no money, they would be eligible for Medicare.

      As for boundaries, I think it’s a good boundary for you to stay on the sidelines and be supportive of your husband, as is your inclination. Do you know what your husband’s relative means by “stepping up”? I don’t think you need to do something you’re not comfortable with just to appease a pushy person. I’d get on the same page with your husband in terms of exactly what you are willing to do (which could include doing nothing). That way when Pushy Relative tries to pressure you, you can say they can talk to your husband.

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        I would also laugh wryly at that. Thank you.

        And thanks about the boundaries. I think Pushy Relative is mostly just extremely exhausted and burned out, and is also dealing their own issues. It’s just hard because we are not local when the rest of them are. One time they contacted me over Instagram (!) saying that FIL had a fall. My response was, “Have you contacted (my husband) about this? Here is is phone number if you don’t have it.” She hasn’t done it since.

      2. fposte*

        To be clear, it’s Medicaid, not Medicare, that kicks in if they’re indigent. It’s incredibly confusing that the names are so similar, but people can lose a lot of time chasing down the wrong agency when they’re in the thick of it.

          1. fposte*

            Everybody’s does! It’s a difference only of two final letters. It’s too late to change the names, but boy, that was a bad choice.

          2. Jamie Starr*

            I think of it like this: medicAID is government AID for people who can’t afford to pay costs themselves, regardless of their age. Whereas medicare isn’t free, but is only (I think) for people over a certain age who need medical CARE.

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          Add in the fact that some states have other names (like California’s extra confusing “Medi-Cal”) and it’s even HARDER to remember the names, much less navigate as a consumer!

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Is there a senior center in their town? Our area (in Massachusetts) has senior services that help explain what support is available, delivers meal on wheels, etc.
      I bet there is a lot of things available to them, especially since they are broke and don’t have to “spend down” their savings.
      And yes, let your husband handle his family and you handle yours. If his pushy relative continues to push for your involvement, just tell them you are dealing with a terminally ill parent of your own and make sure your husband backs you up to his family.
      Good luck with all of this. It’s a tough situation for all of you.

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        The Meals on Wheels is a great idea, but unfortunately there are extremely picky about what they eat. I will bring it anyway.

        They already know about my ill parent and have acknowledged that, but as I replied to someone above, I think there are extremely burnt out. A good thing is my husband will back me up. Thank you so much.

    5. sagewhiz*

      You don’t mention this but by chance is he a veteran? If so, at his age he would have served during the Vietnam war and would be eligible for Aid & Attendance Benefits

    6. Bluebell*

      A lot of great advice on here, especially regarding senior services and council on aging as resources. I think what’s really important is that you and husband should be a united front that he is the point person not you. Dear Prudence used to emphasize that all the time. Unfortunately US culture = women are caretakers and logistics, but please push back on this. It may also help to have your husband outline what he is able to do, just to show that you two aren’t totally ignoring the situation.

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        That is all so true. I am a serial DP reader as well, although nothing beats AAM.

    7. Might Be Spam*

      Since he’s in the hospital already, ask for a social worker and explain that it might be an unsafe discharge, because he only has an elderly wife with her own health problems. They can help you find a place that takes Medicaid.

      My mom couldn’t go home on her own and they couldn’t discharge her until a place was found for her. They did try to get one of us to take her in or move in with her for “a couple of weeks.”

      We knew it would turn into a long term situation and made it clear that it wasn’t possible. They helped us find a place and she’s now settled in and seems content.

      1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

        Thank you for this story. That is one of my concerns- they will release him and just be in the same situation.

        1. Missb*

          You should probably explore some websites that discuss the rights of Medicare patients in the hospital with respect to discharging that patient. There is a wealth of info about rights, and sometimes it comes in handy when your parent’s hospital want to discharge them and you feel it is too soon. A 3rd party panel not associated with the hospital will help make the decision if you exercise your rights.

        2. Might Be Spam*

          Temporary often becomes Permanent.

          I want to emphasize that it is ok to say no to the social worker and discharge staff. It’s their job to get the hospital bed freed up, but they also don’t want someone to get hurt.

          Once a patient is discharged, the hospital is no longer responsible for anything. Get everything finalized before agreeing to a discharge.

          1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

            Thank you. He now will be there for three weeks, which is good and buys us some time. Unfortunately he had another stroke and now essentially has dementia.

  23. Imtheone*

    If savings are exhausted, many nursing homes will take just the benefits, even when that is lower than the actual cost.

    It can be hard to be accepted in a good nursing home/senior residence with no ability to pay the costs for a period. There are state ratings of these facilities, so you can see some info on quality/number of complaints and violations.

    I don’t know the benefits are split if one spouse needs care and the other doesn’t. If your mother-in-law is a citizen, and married for a certain period, she qualifies for spousal SS benefits, whether or not she was ever employed.

    You all, from far away, could speak with a social worker about options, check the SS benefits, and do the initial research on nursing homes. Someone local would need to visit them, be there when the social worker meets with your in-laws, etc.

    1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      She is a citizen, so we will look into that.

      I think that is the tricky thing about the assisted living centers- they have to get in first, and then they can qualify for Medicaid. And absolutely they vary greatly in the quality. Thank you so much.

    2. Samwise*

      Possible for FIL to be in a nursing home while MIL may also qualify for a home health aide and other benefits, if she has her own health issues.

  24. Washi*

    I’m rereading Anna Karenina and newly appreciating that the characters get married/get together in the middle of the novel rather than the very end and it’s a lot about marriage and having kids. Dolly’s musings on how hard motherhood can be feel very timeless to me.

    I really enjoy 19th century novels – are there others folks can think of that explore these themes and are not just “then they got married, the end.”

    1. Double A*

      Middlemarch! If you are enjoying Anna Karenina then I’m pretty sure it would be up your ally. I found the first 200 pages a bit hard to get through the first couple of times I read it, but now after having read it upteenth times I appreciate them.

      I should re-read Anna Karenina. I read it in my 20s and my main memory is finding Anna annoying. But I loved War and Peace and I think it has similar themes.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Great suggestion! Especially since the true great romance isn’t Dorothea’s (who is annoying as a heroine), but really Mary & Fred’s.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I’d say Silas Marner. It does end with a character’s marriage, but it’s the main character’s adopted daughter’s. He never marries and another mainish character gets married midway through and he and his wife struggle with infertility.

    3. Amey*

      Middlemarch by George Eliot has a lot about marriage, as I remember it, although not very happily. I loved it when I read it in college, the characters and relationships are so complex. Can you forgive her? by Anthony Trollope is one I read recently, it’s following multiple characters but one of the most interesting relationships is between Lady Glencora and her husband. It’s a difficult (but ultimately happy) relationship that develops after their marriage.

      I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions too!

    4. Generic Name*

      Not a book, but I enjoyed the “married with teenage children” aspect of Avatar 2. I liked how you saw the courtship/falling in love aspect of Jake and Neytiri’s relationship transformed into a long term relationship with kids. I agree it doesn’t happen often in a lot of stories in Western society.

    5. Helvetica*

      I’d say a lot of Russian literature from 19th century is like that – for themes of relationships and marriage, I’d suggest basically all of Chekhov, especially short stories collections.

    6. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

      Trollope: Is He Popenjoy, He Knew He Was Right, Can You Forgive Her? (not the “Her” but another couple, who go on to be the loose center of a series of novels). Nothing about motherhood, more about adjusting to each other (or not, as the case might be — He Knew He Was Right is pretty dark).

      Portrait of a Lady by Henry James is about the result of a bad marriage.

    7. Imtheone*

      War and Peace has similar family themes, but was written when Tolstoy was very happy with his marriage. My college professor said that his wife copied out War and Peace to get it ready for publishing!

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We are going to discuss “The Custom of the Country” by Edith Wharton at book group this afternoon. Definitely about marriage – the protagonist is married before the book is 25% done.

  25. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Manga/Webtoons/ Comics. What are you reading? I’m reading Cursed Princess Club and Miss Abbott and the Doctor but should reread Maison Ikkoku ( I am collecting the collectors edition because I literally destroyed the GNs from that time by rereading. I have many of my collection from 20 years ago but not that!)

    1. GoryDetails*

      I have lots of favorite manga, though many are more… vintage? … by now: Ouran High School Host Club, for one, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. I still love ’em!

      More recent reads include:

      Heaven’s Design Team, in which colorful characters design living creatures according to (often random and/or very challenging) specifications from God; the stories include inserts about the real-world creatures that are the (eventual) results of the frequently-hilarious experiments. [There’s an anime as well, with a deliciously bouncy theme song.]

      Cells at Work, and its spinoffs: the series all feature anthropomorphic blood cells, and describe their functions and how they cope with various injuries, illnesses, etc. – all done in a way that provides some pretty solid bio-medical facts as well as the entertaining, sometimes terrifying stories.

      Most recent discovery: The Other World’s Depend on the Bean Counter, which has the typical “person from our world is pulled into a magical realm and must adjust” setup – only the protagonist is a salaryman accountant who accidentally got pulled in when he tried to help the magical-girl who was the actual goal of the mystic portal. The new world has been rather nice to him, setting him up with the royal accountant firm – but he loves his work so much he’s about to make some significant issues for his lackadaisickal co-workers. I loved the “character who adores his mundane job so much” aspect – and it looks as if our oblivious hero is also the subject of potential romantic interest, both from the leader of the guard and from the sinister prime minister…

    2. OtterB*

      Webcomic, I am following Wilde Life by Pacalle Lepas. I ought to go back and reread some of the earlier chapters. I really enjoy the characters.

      Also, I am rereading Digger by Ursula Vernon (who is also T Kingfisher). So good. In addition to the hardcopy editions, it’s still available online for free.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, yes, I should have mentioned Wilde Life; I don’t follow a lot of webcomics, but that one’s a delight.

        I also loved Minna Sundberg’s first couple of webcomics, A Redtail’s Dream and Stand Still, Stay Silent; both have been completed, and her newer works focus on her new religious beliefs and haven’t held my interest, but the older works – inspired largely by Nordic mythology and blending humor, drama, some horror, and awesome artwork – were wonderful.

        1. Reba*

          Oh, what an … interesting turn. I enjoyed those two works by Minna Sundberg you name, but haven’t followed for a few years. Her art is incredible. I just went to her website now and felt a bit sad that she disclaims the older works there! Well, life is a rich tapestry.

    3. Smol Book Wizard*

      Yona of the Dawn, which looks like a fluffy reverse harem shoujo but is actually a fabulous political drama with an excellent balance of adorable and serious character relationships. The English translation of the next volume is currently sitting in my mailbox or maybe my front doorstep depending on where Amazon dropped it, and I’m v excited :)

    4. Samwise*

      Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon and Mu. Ito is a master of horror manga, rather creepy — but this little volume is sweet and delightful and funny.

  26. Flowers*

    I’m looking for 2 things:

    1. black leggings that have compression (either medium or high) in the midsection but aren’t “shiny.” Most compression leggings I’ve seen are for working out and they tend to be shiny or have a sheen. I guess I want the basic black cotton leggings but with extra compression?

    2. A simple white T shirt that isn’t see-through and I can get away with not having to wear a camisole underneath. I can’t do crew neck so it’d have to be V-neck only…

    For the leggings, I’d strongly prefer in person (so something I can buy at Target, Old navy or Walmart) but can buy online. T shirt I’m more open to – I love the fit of Torrid T-shirts but they are all so flimsy and see through.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Old Navy has some leggings I really like that are part of their activewear line but have more like a matte jersey look and feel: “Extra High-Waisted PowerChill Hidden-Pocket Leggings.” I’m plus size and find them comfortable and flattering with a decent level of support/coverage, but they don’t have the workout look or texture.

    2. Clara Bowe*

      For T-shirt’s, go to Michaels. They have unisex v necks that aren’t see thru for, like, $12.

      1. Flowers*

        I forgot about Michaels, I’ve actually gotten a few plain tops from there in the past. They’re a little thicker than I like but I suppose not see through = thick unless thin + not see through = super $$$$.

        1. Clara Bowe*

          I would also check Target’s! I got a couple women’s v necks last summer that are thinner and not see through. AND 100% cotton. Bit of a unicorn these days.

        2. Dragonfly7*

          I didn’t get white so don’t know how see-through they are, but I bought six of the Bella+Canvas women’s tees at Michael’s about two years ago, and they held up well. I’m particularly impressed that the color hasn’t faded at all on the red one even though it’s been through the dryer several times.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        +1 I love Uniqlo t-shirts. They are boxy and thick, but not too thick, and the cotton is super smooth.
        I’ve recently had good luck with leggings from Duluth Trading company, though they are pricy. They have a wider waistband and the material is pretty thick, almost verging on feeling like skinny pants.
        Old navy had some ponte knit leggings that I felt were more snug than typical leggings, also with a two inch waist band. I don’t see them currently, though, but maybe the ponte skinny pants are similar?
        Also- for buying in person, you can always order for store pick up, try them on in the dressing room and then initiate a return right away in store for whatever doesn’t work for you/

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Yogalicious are the only leggings like that I’ve found which are matte and cottony. I don’t get the obsession with sheen either. Oh and they have good pockets!

    4. WellRed*

      Eddie Bauer makes nice v neck tshirts that are a good weight but I am admittedly wearing a black one, not white

    5. Ron McDon*

      I know I’m coming to this a bit late so you might not be checking replies, but these leggings are fab – they are really high waisted so tuck into your bra band, give amazing compression to the mid-section, look like ‘normal’ leggings with no sheen, and wash like a dream!

      I’ve only seen them on Amazon, which I know people don’t always like to buy from. And I’m in the UK, so they might not sell in the US, if that’s where you’re based.


  27. duckfeet*

    Any favourite soup recipes? I love soup, but I’m very blah and have run out of ideas. All I’ve got right now is: standard chicken + vegetable, and black bean soup with tomatoes and kale. Looking for inspiration!

    1. Alex*

      One of my favorite soups is the tempeh khao soi soup on the site fullofplants. I do make some adjustments to it–I add more veggies or use shrimp instead of tempeh–but it is a great flavor base.

      I also love the tomato soup on the site Cookie and Kate.

      I also love the minestrone soup on skinnytaste dot com. I’d warn against the instant pot version though–it wasn’t as good as the slow cooked or stovetop version.

      I also make a red lentil curry butternut squash soup. I kind of wing that one, but it is basically ginger, onions, and garlic sauteed in coconut oil, add some thai curry paste, add red lentils, broth, and cubes of butternut squash. Simmer until soft, then blend. I add whatever spices I feel like–maybe some coriander, cumin, turmeric, or even just some mild curry powder. Whatever you like. I add some cream or lite coconut milk at the end, and maybe a squeeze of lime.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Some of our standards:
      Chicken tortilla
      White or green chicken chili
      Enchilada soup
      Roasted creamy tomato
      Creamy chicken and rice
      Beer cheese with sausage
      Baked potato
      Green potato (blend spinach and salsa verde in with the potato)

    3. Bluebell*

      My standards are a curried broccoli soup from Laurie Colwin, a Tuscan chickpea and tomato from Cooking light, mushroom leek with orzo from allrecipes, chipotle sweet potato from homesick Texan and corn chowder.

    4. Single Noun*

      Serious Eats pasta e fagioli and white bean/kale/parmesan are my favorites! Super easy, just some chopping and emptying cans into a pot. (The pasta e fagioli recipe will tell you to buy whole canned tomatoes and break them apart with your fingers; ignore that, buying diced is fine and much less messy.)

    5. fposte*

      I’m obsessed with soup. I do also find that it’s easy to fall into a rut of bean + kale + one other thing, though I also love beans so I don’t mind that much. Some alternatives:

      Spanish chickpea with spinach, golden raisins, smoked paprika, and pine nuts (not technically a soup but I make it loose enough to be a soup). Recipes all around the net and I don’t use a particular one.
      Curried coconut with chicken (shredded chicken in coconut milk thinned with broth, sometimes with spinach thrown in and often with either rice noodles or rice, seasoned with curry powder or curry paste of your choice). Evolved from a recipe that I thought was Mark Bittman but I haven’t been able to find it again; there’s probably plenty of similar online.
      Simple Beef Chili from Cook’s Illustrated
      Sweet Potato Peanut Soup from Cook’s Illustrated
      Smoked Ham, Barley, and Vegetable from Cook’s Illustrated
      Jok Moo (Thai Pork and Rice Porridge) from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings.

      Even with the sourced ones you can likely find recipes online that are much the same, and all of them are, IMHO, pretty easy and forgiving soups to make.

    6. Girasol*

      Campfire stew. At Brownie day camp it was made with browned ground beef drenched in undiluted alphabet soup. As an adult I skip the alphabet soup and use tomato sauce, whatever veggies are on hand but definitely some onions, herbs, and a glug of burgundy. It still comes out as comfort food.

    7. Reba*

      If you like dumplings, this white bean soup with herb dumplings is a staple for me (you do not need to use the 1 zillion cups of fresh herbs indicated :) )

      101 cookbooks is a great reference and incidentally has a lot of soups!

      Do you like peanut stew? Although I find it a bit weird that it’s become a trend, at least that means there are lots of recipes to choose from? I have used Bryant Terry’s which also calls for (superfluous) dumplings and Pierre Thiam’s maafe recipe (there are chicken and lamb versions online).

    8. OtterB*

      Skinnytaste has an online recipe for chicken and lentil soup that I like a lot. I make the Instant Pot version but there’s also a stovetop recipe.

    9. Decidedly Me*

      sopa de lima (I like the one on SimplyRecipes)
      sausage and cabbage stew
      loaded baked potato soup
      broccoli cheddar
      french onion
      miso soup
      tom khai
      mexican street corn soup
      poblano corn chowder

      I really like soups :)

    10. fposte*

      I bet all of us soup nerds are really happy you asked this and are taking notes on other people’s faves.

      1. soup for you*

        I like Polish Sorrel soup, we never used a recipe, but you can find them online. We use beef but you can use pork or chicken. Fresh sorrel is best but many Polish/European markets have jarred sorrel if you can’t find it. We add broth, potatoes, carrots, dill and onions. You can change up the vegetables as needed, and there’s lots of variations. Best with sour cream served on top. Smacznego!

    11. J.B.*

      sweet potato soup – sweet potatoes, chicken stock, canned tomatoes and onions cooked in the crockpot then blended

    12. Pieforbreakfast*

      I made a Tortellini soup this week from loveandlemons.com that was quite tasty.
      On my regular soup rotation:
      Spicy Miso Ramen with Salmon (feastingathome.com)
      Slow Cooker Potato Soup (gimmesomeoven.com)
      Fish/Seafood Chowder
      Coconut Curry Carrot
      Caldo de Camaron (shrimp soup) (pattijinich.com) – I use fresh shrimp and make a stock with their shells for the base instead of the simmered dried shrimp the recipe calls for.

    13. Nicki Name*

      Some of my favorites:

      – minestrone using a 15-bean soup mix
      – mulligatawny soup
      – hawaiian pork stew
      – root vegetables + turkey
      – lamb + apricot + couscous

    14. Elle*

      Moosewood Kitchen cookbooks have great soup recipes. Also check out Pinch of Yum for recipes.

    15. Llama Llama*

      chicken broth, smoked sausage, carrots & quinoa with salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. I usually let that cook for about an hour and at the end ads pesto and some spinach.

    16. Water Everywhere*

      Budget Bytes is a good source for soup recipes! Two of my favourites from there are Lentil & Sausage Stew and Zuppa Toscana.

    17. carcinization*

      A perennial favorite is Epicurious’ “Hominy, Tomato, and Chili Soup.” I really don’t eat hominy often in other contexts, but I love this soup and have made it many times. I would spell the second to last word “chile” normally, but I wanted to make sure it was easily google-able so I spelled it the way it is in the recipe. I’m also a big fan of Post-Punk Kitchen’s “Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup with Spinach and Olives,” but haven’t made it in a couple of years for whatever reason. Finally, I also enjoyed Smitten Kitchen’s “Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas.”

    18. PseudoMona*

      Recent soup winners:

      Budget Bytes Thai Coconut Curry Carrot Soup. Super easy and SO good.

      Cookie & Kate Chickpea Noodle soup. Nice mild flavor, chickpeas were a pleasant addition. I’d amp up the seasonings and maybe add a parsnip next time.

    19. Turtle Dove*

      I don’t cook much but used to make a split-pea soup that my husband loved. I don’t have a particular link, but it was pretty basic and used dried peas that broke down as the soup cooked. I usually added diced ham, and I think broth was an ingredient. I thought I’d chime in (late!) because I didn’t see split-pea soup mentioned yet.

  28. Alex*

    Anyone have any fun recipes that call for bars of dark chocolate? I keep getting gifted bars of chocolate by someone who can never remember that I don’t really like eating bars of chocolate plain. I like chocolate stuff but not on its own. I’d love some ideas on how to use these. I live by myself so ideas that are easily freezable are especially welcome!

    1. mreasy*

      Any recipe that calls for semisweet will work. baked brownies and cookie dough (for chocolate chunk cookies!) freeze well.

    2. wkfauna*

      I use chopped dark chocolate bars in all chocolate dessert recipes. I find that cakes and cupcakes usually freeze very well, and are a real treat when partially defrosted. My favorite source of chocolate recipes is Smitten Kitchen.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Chop it up and add to chocolate chip cookies (along with the standard chips) – extra chocolatey and nice texture difference.

    4. GoryDetails*

      You can make hot chocolate with chunks of chocolate bars; depending on how sweet your chocolate is, you may not need to add much if any sugar to the beverage.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Look up Nigella’s recipe for Mine All Mine chocolate cookies. It’s like a hug in cookie form, and feels like chocolate fondant, only 10 times easier to make. It’s meant for a very small batch, but with an entire chocolate bar, you can probably make enough chunks to scale it up. And I can confirm that the refrigerating / freezing methods work a treat too!

      1. Pippa K*

        Nigella’s Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes are popular in my household and a great way to use up dark chocolate bars.

    6. Forensic13*

      Chocolate mousse! Not freezable, but it does require a decent amount of chocolate per serving, so maybe that’s an okay trade?

    7. Camelid coordinator*

      I like the double chocolate muffins from Dorie Greenspan. They use 4 oz of chocolate per recipe. My kiddo likes them straight (or slightly thawed) from the freezer. I’ll also provide a link.

    8. Sloanicota*

      I like to melt it into my stovetop rice pudding or with peanut butter (mix in pretzels or chex mix then coat with powdered sugar). Melting it means you don’t have to chop up bars and it’s all gone at once.

    9. Samwise*

      You can rough chop them and use just like chocolate chips in cookies or banana bread. Use all the bits!

    10. carcinization*

      Agreed on just substituting it for semisweet chocolate (including chocolate chips) in recipes. Many recipes already call for either chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. Looking through my bookmarks, I do really love Homesick Texan’s Spicy Chocolate Pecan Cookies. Smitten Kitchen’s Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies might be a better thought though because they already call for 1/2-pound of chopped chocolate. My last thought is Life Love & Sugar’s Triple Chocolate Cookie Cake, which also calls for chocolate chunks.

    11. Alex*

      Thanks all for the ideas! I didn’t even think of the fact that I can make chocolate chip cookies!

    12. beach read*

      Hope you see this! You will need more supplies but worth it IMHO: Emeril Lagasse Triple Chocolate Cherry Spiced Pecan bark. (Google food network) If you don’t want to buy more chocolate, you could do an abbreviated version.

  29. Dark Macadamia*

    When do you do grocery shopping? Right now I go on Saturdays and I HATE how it feels like it eats up so much weekend. The alternative would be going on a weekday after I pick the kids up at school but it takes so much longer when they’re with me, and then means starting to cook dinner later than usual too. We really need to hurry up and invent that instant food machine from the Jetsons!

    1. J.B.*

      My mom always went early on Saturday for fewer lines, I pop in a few times a week for a few things. can you go weekdays when kids are ready for or in bed?

      1. Goose*

        Yep. I also hate grocery shopping and find if I do it first thing in the morning (weekday or weekend) it it super helpful.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Carla Lalli Music’s advice was to set up some sort of automatic delivery for staples–rice, pasta, paper towels. And then hit the store just for selecting the nice looking tomatoes and cut of fish.

    2. MissCoco*

      We’ve started doing weeknight shops and buying premade food for dinner on those nights. I feel the same way as you about shopping during the weekend, plus the store is so much more crowded. We usually get some rotisserie chicken which we throw on a salad. For us the extra cost of buying pre-made food from the store is worth not having to get home and cook

      1. GlowCloud*

        Oh yeah, I’m definitely a big fan of this strategy.
        We often cruise through the “Reduced for quick sale” section so that we can pick up something fairly instant and low-effort for when we get home. You can find a lot of quiches, filled pasta, deli meats and cheeses, bagged salads, etc. for half-price or better if it’s on its sell-by date.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      Is there another member of the household who can take grocery shopping on, or who can be in charge of the kids while you go solo on a week night? Seems like yes if you can go solo on weekends, so lean into that.

      Or, depending where work is in proximity to stores, how much flexibility is available, and if there’s a fridge available for things that need refrigeration, you (or the aforementioned other member of the household!) might be able to go during lunch.

      1. Wilde*

        Yup. My husband goes on a weeknight after our kids have gone to bed. It works perfectly for us. We run our meals on a fortnightly basis so he doesn’t have to plan meals to make the list or see what’s on special in the shop.

    4. Clara Bowe*

      I generally go Sunday mornings. That way I have the day for meal prep but keep my Saturday clear. I also am pretty standard on what I meal prep (a cabbage salad, bagged salads, and a couple salad dressings) so the prep goes pretty quickly.

      I also enjoy weeknight shops? Especially if I am eating leftovers/have something prepped to eat after. Tho, not Thursday’s. That is payday around me.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Yep! Was about to suggest the same.
        I’m not in the US but would think US stores would offer pick up same as some stores around here. I go through everything online. click on what I want, add things throughout the week, and then go pick it up on Friday after work. Which takes me about 10minutes. And I really don’t mind having to spend approx. 2$ more on the shopping for them to put it together because it saves me so much annoyance and also money because I don’t pick up more stuff than I need just because I saw it in an aisle.
        I do shop for fruit and veg in person, though.

      2. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Exactly what I do and would recommend! Schedule a pickup for after you pick the kids up from school, go home & unload and then make an easy dinner.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I forgot to include in the post that I do pick up sometimes when I’m really busy and generally don’t like it. Just a combo of me making mistakes, them making mistakes, eliminating impulse buys and substitutions (I know you can set preferences, but it’s like okay if BOTH sizes of Jif are sold out now our very PBJ-eating household is screwed lol), even stuff like they choose different sizes of bananas than I do lol.

        This would probably help though, if I just make a routine of ordering the things I don’t mind them choosing and go in for a shorter shop of the stuff I want to pick myself.

    5. Sleepy*

      I go grocery shopping at 8:00 AM on Saturdays. Not much traffic, not many people in the store, no lines at self-checkout. I’m typically home by 9:00 AM or sooner. It’s pretty awesome.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I go on Sunday morning. My husband goes to the gym, he comes back and showers, he starts the laundry and we make our grocery list for the week. Starting with what’s for dinner, then I build the list around what we need for that and other staples (fruit, veg, eggs etc). My actual trip takes 30-40 minutes, I know the store pretty well. But there’s also only 2 of us.

    7. KatEnigma*

      I order for pick up, but HEB’s shoppers do a really really terrific job of filling orders. (they READ MY NOTES and follow instructions! The first time this has been consistently true, ever, and I’ve been ordering groceries off and on since early 2000’s!!!!) I usually choose a Tuesday or Wednesday as the most likely day they will not be out of what I want- never on a Monday, as everyone on the weekend has cleaned them out and they may not have had time to unload the stock that came in on Monday yet.

      But before that became the thing, we always went as soon as they opened on a Saturday. Depending on the store, however, that may mean you can’t get anything from the Deli or bakery.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I meal plan (or, well, make my husband meal-plan) and then use the menu to do a grocery order for delivery. Saves me so much time, and I avoid the impulse buys and the “Oh, that’s on sale and I’ll use it eventually” that leads to “how did I end up with FOURTEEN CANS of diced tomatoes??” Even with delivery fees and tipping, my grocery bill has gone down so much since I started doing this way.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My husband usually goes out at some point during the week just to get out of the house, so if we need certain fresh produce that we don’t want to trust to a shopper (avocados :P ), he picks them up while he’s already out. And he always comes home with three extra bags of junk food and impulse buys :P

    9. Llama face!*

      I tend to go later on Sunday nights. I also try to plan meals for the next week so I get everything I need for the week. I’m not a morning person but if I were I would probably do the same edge time strategy but with early Sunday morning instead. It seems to avoid interrupting the most useful parts of the day.

      Fwiw, I also go at that time for COVID reasons (a lot less people there at 9 pm on a Sunday than during the day or on a weeknight).

    10. GlowCloud*

      I’m childless and live next to a supermarket, so I do a large shop (takes about an hour) on a weekend evening, then pick up a few ad-hoc things throughout the week if necessary. My favourite times are mid-day on a weekday, or very late in the evenings, because there are fewer people, and it feels less stressful. I actively avoid peak hours if I can help it.

      I think it takes a lot less time at the store if we make a meal plan for the week and go with a list just for those meals, plus whatever’s on our running grocery list (we have a notepad for writing things down as soon as they run out). No browsing, no second-guessing whether or not there’s still half a jar of mayo in the fridge.

      I take 4 tote bags with me and go on foot, so I’m not shopping for more than I can carry. I think that also limits my time in the store.
      Grocery shopping seems like one of those chores that’s pretty hard to time-save on in general, though.

    11. There You Are*

      I have most of my non-perishables delivered from Sam’s Club, Walmart, and/or Amazon. My mom lives with me and she makes grocery runs midday Friday for produce, meat, frozen food, and baked goods.

      BUT, if my mom didn’t live with me, I’d fall back to what I did before she moved in which is shop early-ish Sunday. I’m in a Bible Belt state, so I like to run errands while the bulk of my fair citizens are in their respective houses of worship.

      Also, ordering online and picking up outside the store is an amazing time-saver. You won’t always get what you want, but I’ve considered it a fair trade-off for not spending upwards of an hour inside a store.

    12. Lilo*

      I go with my kid on the weekends and try to turn it into a fun thing with him (he’s a preschooler though). So I just lean into it taking longer.

    13. Imtheone*

      Order for pick up! My main grocery store offers it for if you spend more than $35 at a time—easy to do these days!

      You still have to put everything thing away, but I’ll order the night before when the house is quiet.

      1. ItsTheFinalCountdown*

        +1 for grocery pickup! I do mine at Walmart 8am on Sunday mornings and grab bagels from a nearby local shop afterward, so it feels like a treat rather than chore. I find their substitutions are done really well and my weekly staples are always in stock (or an easy substitute). I buy organic meat separately in bulk once a month in person at Whole Foods or Sprouts.

    14. Missb*

      I hit up my local Winco just before 7 am. If I need to stop by Trader Joe’s too then I usually show up just a bit later so that I can get to Trader Joe’s when it opens at 8.

      I hate crowds.

    15. Dark Macadamia*

      Reading all these comments makes me realize my problem is just laziness and poor time management, lol. I mostly already knew this but I think there are a lot of ways I can make it take less time just by planning and following through better!

    16. Samwise*

      Don’t plan on cooking on shopping day if you are shopping after work. Have something ready to reheat, get takeout or delivery, whatever is easiest. You can probably get something premade right at the grocery store.

      Make it a tradition! The kids will love it— today is grocery day, oh boy hamburgers and fries and shakes from [your local burger place]!

    17. HBJ*

      I go early in the morning so I don’t have to bring the kids. My goal is to hit the check stands at 7:10 or so (checkstands don’t open until 7. No way am I going through self check with an entire cart of groceries). I’ve used pickup a time or two, but I don’t like it. Clearance items aren’t listed (can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved by grabbing half-off clearance meat and freezing it), and local produce also isn’t listed, which is my preference to buy. The pickers also don’t seem to have critical thinking skills. I ordered 2, 2-lb bricks of cheese. They didn’t have them, and subbed 2, 1-lb bricks of cheese. Two is two, right? Umm, no.

    18. Chaordic One*

      In my neck of the woods, we usually get sale sheets in the mail on Tuesday. (They post them on their websites, too.) Then new weekly sales start on Wednesday and run to the following Tuesday. I usually try to shop on Wednesday or Thursday after work. Saturday afternoons are the worst because of having to deal with the crowds (I can never get it together to shop earlier in the day). If you shop on Sunday evenings and Mondays you are met with a lot of empty shelves (especially for the sale items) and items being randomly out-of-stock.

    19. HannahS*

      My absolute favourite time to go is when I have a Friday morning off. Realistically, one of us goes after the toddler is asleep, either during the week or weekend evening. Stores are pretty empty the hour before close.

    20. North Wind*

      I started getting grocery delivery during the pandemic, and just can’t go back to actually shopping myself. I have always hated it, even if I’m not overly busy. I’ve pretty much decided it’s worth adapting my budget to the expense.

      But I do sometimes save on the delivery fee by picking it up. Some stores will do the shopping for you and then you just pick it up. Whole Foods will literally bring it out to my car after I arrive. I believe even Shaws and some other chains have a pickup option.

    21. Colette*

      I’ve been doing online grocery shopping for years, and I love it. It still takes time (I place the order online and go pick it up), but it’s faster and I can check the cupboards as I shop to see what we actually need. It costs a small amount (usually $3/$5) but I save more than that by not impulse buying stuff I see in the store.

    22. Don'tbeadork*

      Sundays, while the church-goers are at church. We go slightly later if we need to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy there, but otherwise around 9-10 is awesome.

    23. EngineerMom*

      Couple of options:
      1. Grocery pickup. Place your order(s) ahead of time, a day or 2 in advance. Then, ask you have to do is show ip at the store(s) to pick up the order(s). Very fast, even with kids in tow.

      2. Go earlier on Saturday. I do my menu & list on Friday. Then on Saturday, I leave my house at 8am, drop off the compost, get breakfast at McDonald’s (my reward to myself for getting out the door on time), then go to Aldi’s by 9, and Meijer to get whatever I can’t get at Aldi. I’m back home by 10:30, groceries are put away by 11, which is around the time the rest of my family is up and moving for the day.

      3. Put kids in charge of shipping from the list – one reads the list, the others gather the items, you push the cart. Stick to the list.

  30. J.B.*

    I am going to a gathering tonight and wondering when to show up. I tend to arrive at the scheduled start time and sit around as the first person there. I guess I’ll wait 15 minutes but I’m just more literal than most people and struggle with this.

    1. Filosofickle*

      15 minutes after is good! (I’m always surprised at how many people show up at my house exactly on time so it does depend on the group.) If you are the first person, offer to help — right around start time I’m usually scrambling to finish and could use an extra set of hands even if all they do is answer the door or talk to the second person while I grab something out of the oven.

    2. Sloanicota*

      30 minutes after the stated start time is a good rule of thumb for a casual gathering

      1. ThatGirl*

        I guess I’m a weirdo, I want people to come at or close to the agreed upon time. Otherwise I would make the time later…

        1. Sloanicota*

          It definitely depends on the event and the host. If you’re invited to a casual gathering where the start time is somewhat arbitrary and you have a dislike of being the first attendee to show up, 30 minutes is safe. 15 is unlikely to save you.

  31. duckfeet*

    Ideally, early saturday or sunday morning for less traffic and fewer people. When the kids were younger, and I did it after school/activities I realised it went much better if *all of us* had a very substantial dinner-like snack before the shopping. Like, very filling sandwiches. That was: no blood sugar crashes while shopping, and no “make dinner” when we got home. I’d often buy a post-shopping treat like fluffy bread or some extra fruit for just that night – so we’d have another snack at home, but no “cooking” per se.

  32. Goose*

    I am in between haircuts (growing out a pixie), sizes, and genders right now and feeling like no matter what I do my appearance is very messy. What can I do to help my appearance during these awkward stages?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So, I feel like this question could be interpreted two directions – either how do I look less messy (to use your word), or how do I feel better about my appearance? And I’m not very good at the looking-less-messy, so I’m leaning into that second direction in the hopes that that’s okay :)

      Pick something kind of outrageous, maybe? A crazy hat (I do conventions and costuming, so I have several Fancy Chapeaux with feathers and ribbons and things), or a shirt (or other item of clothing) with a bright or goofy print? Leopard-print Doc Martens or bright purple Converse? If people are going “WOW look at that flamingo print button-down, I wonder where they got that??” then they’re less likely to notice the growing-out pixie etc.

      1. Pixies again*

        Agreed! Thrift shops are great for unique finds and less pricey if you’re changing clothing sizes as you said and will maybe be needing different ones

    2. Pixies*

      Growing out a pixie is the worst! I recommend finding some specific styles you like at least somewhat in between that and whatever your end goal is and try and keep it in shape. I know haircuts can be expensive but just as much as possible. For instance I liked mine shorter in the back and longer in front and it generally stayed that shape but just got longer. As for dressing are there any celebrities or social media people you admire? You don’t need to buy everything an influencer posts but it can be inspiring to look around. Also maybe at fashions from past decades?

    3. QueerAF*

      1. Look online at pictures of people who look like you (or go be around people who look like you) to send good messages to your brain about how you look. 2. Engage in some positive self talk! 3. Get clothes that fit and make you feel good. I try to by only 2nd hand clothes, and I have a hard time spending money on myself. But mmm when you get that piece of clothing that makes you feel good?? Yes! If possible, size up for things that can be tailored without too difficulty (hems, darts) at the dry cleaners.

    4. Quandong*

      My suggestions are:
      1. try a product like styling wax to find at least one style that reads to you as ‘intentional, not messy growing-out a pixie hair’ (especially if you don’t feel like using hairclips or headbands etc)
      2. experiment with retro oversized clothing styles (which should be cheaper to buy second-hand than brand new versions)

      I hope you get lots of good ideas to try!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Dressing monochrome with one accent piece is a quick way to look put together, and it works for any gender. Denim is a neutral, so it doesn’t really count.

      Also, make sure your clothes (including underpinnings) fit well enough that they don’t crawl around, flop off your shoulders, or come apart in the middle. (Unless they are meant to)

      That could mean different sizes or cuts, or it could mean strategically anchoring things with safety pins.

    6. just another queer reader*

      As a queer woman with masc clothing vibes who recently changed sizes, here are a couple ideas –
      1) seek out style inspiration that’s relevant to you. I am in a fb group where people share photos of their outfits; it’s cool bc there’s a ton of positivity around the kinds of outfits & bodies that usually don’t get shown in media/ads/etc.
      2) layering can work to your advantage. I have one jacket that looks really smart (it’s a soft shell jacket but kind of structured, if that makes sense, and it fits me in the shoulders); I wear it most days at work and I think it really ups my “put together” factor.
      3) I have heard that tailoring makes a big difference (for example, bringing in a shirt, or hemming pants, that otherwise fit)
      4) unwrinkled clothes – i spray my shirts with some water from a spray bottle if needed. (hanging clothes in the bathroom after a shower also works) (I cannot be bothered to iron)
      5) hair can be lots of fun! I’ve found a hair routine where I part my hair after a shower (to make it look neater when it dries) and then I rotate between a few hairstyles, mostly involving little clips or a ponytail to keep it out of my face. For me, gel can be helpful in getting my hair to stay where I put it and have less stray hairs. Of course this will vary a lot by hair type and style. (My gf, who has short hair, uses a paste that comes in a jar. I think it’s called pomade?)
      6) if makeup is your thing, I often feel that I come across as a little more more “put together” if I put on some makeup. Usually mascara, some eyebrow stuff, and face powder. (That being said, I wear makeup like… once a month max lol)

    7. Nefera de Nile*

      I’m a toddler mom so I’m always in pajamas or lounge-y clothes, even on walks around the neighborhood, and one thing that makes me look more “tired mom doing her best” and less “is she okay???” is making sure my hair and skin are super super clean. If you have any skin issues, solving them will definitely help. (It’s totally not fair that people assume acne or rosacea or oily hair = dirty, slovenly person in some people’s minds though, just for the record.)

      If you have any posture issues, solving those can help too. Standing or sitting up straighter makes your clothes hang better and gives you an overall air of being put-together.

      If your hair is at that stage where it seems to be sticking up all over, maybe a light gel or mousse can help. You can also ask a hairdresser for ideas to suit your face shape. It seems counter-intuituve to possibly cut more hair if you’re trying to grow it out, but a hairdresser can help you have an interim style that looks more like a deliberate choice while you’re waiting for it to grow out.
      I relied heavily on headbands when I was growing out bangs and had to hide the wavy bits that wanted to stick up. If you’re also growing out color, maybe you can have the color removed and have all your hair dyed to match your roots.

    8. RM*

      Bandana folded to about 2” width makes a nice headband and you can style your hair by parting and tucking it in the bandana in various different ways. I leaned on this a lot growing out a pixie and a mohawk.

      There’s lots of cheap caps for sale beyond sports team dad hat. Floral print baseball or flat brim can read fun young guy or femme depending on the rest of your style.

    9. Just the basics*

      Just came to say hang in there Goose! I grew out my pixie recently, and the ear tickles drove me bananas, and I almost didn’t make it. My hair’s curly, so I tend to lean into the messy look and still somehow pull it off, but headbands, bobby pins, and ball caps saved me a thousand times from cutting it all off again.

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        The ear tickles are the WORST! I’m growing out a shaved head, and had an undercut for years before that, so it’s been almost a decade since I’ve had to deal with them. They’re mere millimeters from reaching my ponytail now, and if they don’t get there soon I will for sure lose my patience and shave them the hell off!

  33. Fellow Traveller*

    I’m looking for suggestions for snacks from the US to bring to my young nephews in the Netherlands when we go visit them? When they come to visit us they always bring us common Dutch treats so I’d like to do likewise. We’re already planning on bringing some sugary breakfast cereal (Froot Loops or Lucky Charms…) because that always seems like a fun treat when they come visit – anything else? Any ex-pat readers have food items that they miss particularly from the US or which is hard to find abroad?

    1. KatEnigma*

      Peanut butter
      Chocolate chip cookies- or just take the chocolate chips and make the cookies there. (And yes, I agree that European chocolate is far superior in everything except for in making chocolate chip cookies. Shaving/chopping it doesn’t give the right feel. Plus the superior chocolate with it’s high fat content melts too much.)

      1. KatEnigma*

        Also, my ex pat Canadian friend (first in S Korea, now the UK) always wants Ranch dressing.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          Oooh! ranch dressing is a good one. I suggested this to my Husband and he said we should get the Costco sized bottle for his nephews. And I asked why he disliked his sister (their mother) so much!

      2. soup for you*

        Yes this, I did this for my cousins in Europe. They also like peanut butter/peanut butter based candy bars/cups. If you bring chips, get a cheap measuring cup from the dollar store for non metric recipe measurements to bake fresh cookies there.

        I also like to bring unique regional treats from where I live, eg. praline pecans if you’re in Texas, maple candy from New Hampshire, etc.

        1. KatEnigma*

          It’s easy to convert the recipes to weight based measurements (some sites will do it automatically) and you’ll get better results.

        2. HBJ*

          Huh, I wonder if the Reese’s thing is universal outside the US? My Aussie friends want those, too!

      3. fhqwhgads*

        I was told not to try to bring peanut butter because it’s often used for smuggling drugs and the drug-sniffing dogs at the airport are trained to it and it’ll be confiscated. Mind you, this was ages ago, so it may no longer be true, but it’s worth looking into before trying to bring peanut butter through an airport.

      4. JustForThis*

        When I travelled to the Netherlands a while ago, my impression was that peanut butter (pindekaas) was not only very common, but firmly integrated into the Dutch palate. There’s even a peanut butter based sauce (pindasaus) for fries!

        1. Lutheran wool socks*

          The Netherlands had a lot of colonies in Asia, Indonesia being one. The Dutch cooking is influenced by it, peanut sauce is one of those

      1. soup for you*

        Heh, interesting thought. We only brought mac and cheese to feed a young relative in case they didn’t like the food there or got homesick, but it could be fun to bring as an actual gift, too.

    2. E*

      I don’t know about what’s available in the Netherlands but when I lived abroad my sister brought me poptarts, which was a fun treat and they travel well. I also really missed basic American bbq sauce.

    3. Liminality*

      Okay, this isn’t a ‘treat’, but a sibling’s inlaws are in one of the Scandinavian countries. When my sibling goes to visit they always bring the industrial-sized bottles of ibuprofen/acetaminophen as host presents. (Like the 500+ tablet bottles from club stores) Apparently over in that specific country those types of over-the-counter medicines are sold in packets of ten pills at most, and volume purchases are monitored.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Oh this is interesting! We were talking to my SIL this morning and she said she can’t find Robitussen in the NL.

      2. DistantAudacity*

        Oh yes, this is true! Also top tip is strong over-the-counter flu medicine, if that is not available in NL.

        It may be – my Scandi country is very restrictive (as above), and I buy Nyquil in the US, and Lemsips in the UK.

        More helpful tip – might there be seasonings or the like that are interesting?

    4. Indolent Libertine*

      We have friends who lived there for decades. When they visited here, they would always take back chocolate chips, pickle relish, and corn tortillas. I think tortillas might be more available now that they were then. Oh, and baking powder; apparently American “double acting” baking powder is different and was essential for making favorite American recipes.

    5. BlueCassis*

      Current American working in NL – to echo other good suggestions:
      -Ranch dressing, Kraft mac n cheese, Nerds and fun gum (gum is so expensive IMO) are all things we buy from Kelly’s (lovely UK/US/assorted expat food and goods shop) when we’re missing home or ask relatives to bring us
      -if you have time, Betty Crocker Brownie mix and bake it with them! Fun way to make memories and have good, fudgey brownies (everytime I go to a bakery and try a brownie it’s more like chocolate cake…)
      -Reese’s are fairly easy to find at AH/Jumbo, so we personally don’t seek it out too much.

      Enjoy your trip!

  34. Llama face!*

    Request for autistic folks on the site (especially folks who ID as female, who are high masking, late diagnosed, or self-diagnosed):
    I recently realized that I’m almost certainly on the spectrum and would love your suggestions for things to read, watch, etc., that you found helpful. Please share your favourite resources with me!

    1. BadCultureFit*

      I mentioned this above and it fits here too: The Loudest Girl in the Room podcast is wonderful.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Self-diagnosed as some flavor of neurospicy – possibly spectrum, I peg crazy hard on the autism evaluation questionnaires (both formal and informal), definitely ADHD, but I have actively chosen not to pursue formal diagnosis. I am fairly high functioning in most ways, just very definitely strange in most of them as well :)

      So … I tried reading some things by and about neurodivergent women. But I found that they, for the most part, were just as “one true way” as far as what neurodivergence looks like in women, as the general literature that describes the “one true way” that it looks like (in young men). Which I found pretty disappointing, because their one true way didn’t really align very well with my experience any more than the “traditional” one true way does.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks! Good to know. I do tend to be the kind of person who doesn’t ever align completely or neatly with anyone’s categories so we may be alike in that way! What I think would be helpful for me atm is hearing about accommodations people have used to make their lives easier/more workable or learning some strategies for figuring out what I’ve suppressed/masked since early years that I might want to reclaim now.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have typed and deleted about three four walls of text here because I can’t figure out how to make any of what I’m saying make sense. Heh.

          The thing that has helped me the most – this might sound silly, but it’s true – is to accept (most of) my quirks. I am not a people person. I will never be the person who has a gazillion friends and a booming social life. That’s okay. I don’t have to fix that. I am allergic to avocados, I can’t drink coffee because it’s too bitter, and I don’t much like most people in person. That is all okay and I can turn my mental and emotional spoons to other things.

        2. Mae*

          “I do tend to be the kind of person who doesn’t ever align completely or neatly with anyone’s categories so we may be alike in that way!”

          I think most people are like that. It’s what makes us all individual!

          1. RagingADHD*

            Yes. Nobody falls neatly into any categories unless the category is so broad that it’s just a statistic.

            Some adolescents adopt a category wholesale as their identity, so they can feel they belong with that group. But as we mature, we learn more about the different facets of ourselves, and different ways to connect with people.

          2. Llama face!*

            That is true, but I think there are a lot of folks who don’t see the disparities in any classification system to the extent that I do. Many people are likely to gloss over the bits that don’t fit whereas for me it is difficult to accept a label because “the pattern doesn’t (completely) match”. Which may in itself be an autistic trait, now that I think about it.

    3. just talk to people*

      Following up on the Loudest Girl podcast (which I loved), I recommend Katherine May’s The Electricity of Every Living Thing, about coming to terms with her own midlife autism diagnosis. Ober actually interviews May for the podcast, which is partly how I found May’s book.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks! I’ll check it out. I am now in episode 3 of the podcast and quite enjoying it.

    4. North Wind*

      I’m on Mastodon and there’s a group called @actuallyautistic@a.gup.pe.

      It “re-tweets” the content of folks discussing their everyday autistic experiences, many of whom are late-life self-diagnosed. I’ve always said my default settings are different to everyone I know, and not just different but many times opposite to others. The depth of it has never really made sense to me in terms of just thinking of myself as more of an introvert, and so it has been really fascinating and validating the last couple of years to hear person after person talk about their inner experiences and find that I can actually genuinely relate to it.

      And of course there is massive variance in everyone’s experience.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks! I’m not currently on Mastodon but have considered joining. Some of the bird app folks I follow seem to be migrating there now that Musk Melon’s turned the app into a flaming dumpster of poop.

  35. noncommittal pseudonym*

    This edges on the forbidden topic for the weekend, but is anyone else deeply irritated by the Dunkin’ Doughnuts TV commercial where the main duty of the intern seems to be to memorize the coffee/doughnut orders of all of their coworkers? Maybe because it gets shown so often, it’s beginning to really get on my nerves.

  36. PhyllisB*

    Red Reader the Adulting Fairy asked for jokes/funny stories a couple of weeks ago. I had forgotten this incident until this week, but when I told my girls this story they were in stitches, so I hope all of you get some amusement from it also. What made me remember this is we got into a conversation about pound cake.
    Now before I start this tale, keep two things in mind: I was 6 years old when this happened, and when I remembered it as an adult I was mortified. Okay, here goes.
    Many years ago (66 to be exact. How can I be so old???) we lived in a very small Southern town (think Mayberry and you’ll get an idea.) No one locked their doors. When someone moved into a new house, all the neighbors would bring food, flowers, ect. as a welcome. If you weren’t home, they would just come in, put down their offering, and leave.
    This new house was a brand-new trailer. At this point in my life, I didn’t realize such things existed (a house on wheels??!!) So being the curious little kid that I was, I decided I wanted to see what this place looked like inside.
    Being a well brought-up child, I did knock. I knew this lady would be glad to see me, she liked kids. She wasn’t home, so I decided to go in anyway and have a look around. I did so and was getting ready to leave when I passed the kitchen, and on the bar were all kinds of casseroles, desserts, and such. In this display of treasures was… a pound cake. Easy to recognize, it was on a cake plate with that infamous silver covering. Even as a little girl I just LOOOOOOOOVED pound cake, so I couldn’t resist taking a peek. It looked SO delicious!! I just HAD to try it. In my 6-year-old wisdom, I decided if I turned it upside down and took a bit from the bottom no one would be the wiser. (When you turned it back over, it looked untouched.)
    Now this was bad enough, but I went back TWICE MORE that day and did the same thing!! By the time I was finished that cake was little more than a shell of itself.
    I went about my merry way and didn’t give it another thought until one day when I was an adult, I remember this, and I was…horrified. Just imagine this poor lady inviting one of her friends to have cake and coffee, attempting to cut the cake, and the whole thing collapsing!! Or at the very least, having a big hollow in the center.
    To make the matter worse, this lady was my Sunday School teacher!! I never heard anything about it, so either she didn’t realize who did it, or she just decided not to say anything.
    Talk about things that make you cringe!! I also wondered if she started locking her doors after this.

    1. Onomatopoetic*

      Haha. The kid equivalent to watering down the vodka bottle. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Patty Mayonnaise*

      This is so delightful. I wish I could have seen her reaction when she found the cake!

  37. Anima*

    Dear commentariat, I need product search help. Preferably shipping to Germany.
    I am in search of an eyeshadow palette in grey to black tones, preferably hypoallergenic. I got BH cosmetics* Doja Cat one, in which I like the colours, but the glitter agitates my eyes. I started to use hypoallergenic products to get glitter eyeshadow but not have my eyes agitated. Is there a similar product to this Doja Cat palette, but hypoallergenic? Google left me in a lurch.
    * I believe BH cosmetics is now defunct thanks to the bad quality of the Doja Cat palettes. Their other palettes were fine though.

    1. Reba*

      Both The Balm and Bare Minerals brands look like they are available in Germany. They don’t claim to be hypoallergenic, but their formulas don’t have talc which seems to be an irritant for many. Of course, for hypoallergenic there is Clinique but the colors are conservative. A lot of people can’t tolerate the glitter particles in makeup products in general, so you may need to be satisfied with finer grade shimmer or satin finish products and simply give up the visible glitter, unfortunately.

      1. Anima*

        Thank you, I’ll look into that! I also just came to the conclusion that the palettes that work for me contain few to no actual glitter, but lots of mica – which gives the shimmer.
        If I manage to find a cruelty-free, packaged in carton, fair gathered mica palette in grey, I’ll throw a party.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          Elate Cosmetics (out of Canada I think?) has a beautiful glitter style one – it is more of a brown, but reads brown-grey online. They are completely cruelty free and use bamboo or metal packaging.

          These are their ingredients : Mica (CI 77019), Calcium Carbonate, Bambusa Arundinacea (Bamboo) Stem Extract, Caprylic Triglyceride, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Seed Oil), Silica, May Contain (+/-): Iron Oxides (CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Ultramarines (CI 77007)

    2. Our Lady of the Cats*

      May I suggest, looking for German-made brands–I just did a quick search and located this, for example– https://www.lethalcosmetics.com/– or, if not, French-made brands. I love French cosmetics and always stock up when we’re visiting, and I’d think since you’re both in the EU you’d be able to get those pretty easily? One other thought is Swiss-made brands. Again, they tend to be very big on “purity” and “hypoallergenic” ingredients as a rule.

      1. Anima*

        Thank you, I never heard of that brand, I’ll look I to it!
        Also, search by country, of course! Was quite late yesterday already. :D I’ll ask Google for swiss brands!

  38. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Anyone watching the 12 hours of Seabring?
    Me and wifey really like it. A lot of action happening.

  39. beep beep*

    Does anyone have restaurant/cafe recs for downtown Atlanta, GA? I’m heading down for a concert and will be eating out for several meals (some with friends- vegetarian options much appreciated). Thank you lovely people all!

      1. beep beep*

        The venue is the State Farm Arena- I’m taking a Greyhound down and am planning on doing some on-foot wandering the afternoon before and the day after. I had a vague idea of visiting the Aquarium the next day, but I’m not 100% on it. Thank you!

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      My daughter is a GSU student who goes to a lot of concerts and I will text her in a bit. What venue are you going to, so we can think of what’s close by?

      1. beep beep*

        Sorry I’m just getting back! The State Farm Arena is the venue. Thank you (and your daughter!)

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          So there isn’t a ton right next to the arena, but next to Centennial Park there is Ted’s Montana Grill, and The Food Shoppe, a tiny cajun type place. McCormick and Schmick’s next to the CNN Center is good, but pricey and obviously not vegetarian.

          1. WellRed*

            I was there in October, staying at the Omni. It was rough finding decent food depending on time of day. I think mostly due to employment issues because I go there regularly and this was the first time it really kinda sucked.

    2. Newly minted higher ed*

      don’t know if you’ll see this, but I like to eat on the strip on Peachtree that hard rock is on. lots of good restaurants there. there was a good restaurant for breakfast on centennial Park before the pandemic, and Park Bar is nice. a few new places have opened on that side of the park and I walked to the Benz stadium two weeks ago from there. but you may have to walk or uber a bit. Ted’s is quite good; I had my graduation dinner there.

    3. beep beep*

      Thank you all again for the help! I’ll hopefully have some time to check out a few of these places :)

  40. Needing a printer, again*

    A couple of weeks ago I asked about laser printers and got so many different recommendations that I went into decision paralysis. Since then (still dithering) I’ve started to wonder if I should get an inkjet rather than another laser printer. My specs can be met with either type of printer.

    Inkjets are quite a bit cheaper, but I regard the total cost as a wash since you have to replace inkjet cartridges every so often. It was a strong convenience factor that I didn’t have to replace ink cartridges on my old laser printer after the first time. The most appealing thing about the inkjets is that they’re smaller and presumably lighter.

    Any opinions on inkjet vs laser?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Lasers consume a lot of power to heat the fuser roll so that might a consideration for you. I have had a BW Epson laser printer that lasted for years, a couple of HP ColorLaserjets, and now have an HP inkjet multifunction (printer/scanner).

    2. KatEnigma*

      If you aren’t using the printer at least a couple times a week, the ink dries and clogs the jets that can’t be replaced and breaks the printer. After replacing several printers that only lasted a year or less, we switched to laser. Besides the landfill waste, we got tired of not being able to print when we needed to!

    3. AGD*

      My last inkjet printer lasted 3 months on two sets of ink cartridges; my laser printer has lasted 11 years on three toner cartridges. The laser printer does use more electricity, and it only prints in black and white, but it’s held up super well.

    4. Gatomon*

      I stick with inkjet but I buy off brand cartridges online for loads less. I think HP is cracking down on this so you may want to look closely before purchasing; my current printer is a Canon and just displays a warning but works fine.

    5. Angstrom*

      Family has a couple of the small Brother black & white laser printers. They’ve been reliable and inexpensive to operate. If I need color(rare) I’d rather go to the copy shop than deal with the expense of maintaining a color inkjet printer.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do this. Mine (also Brother) takes off-brand laser cartridges for like $13, and then they last for 3 years or longer.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I stopped using inkjets because it was always cheaper to buy a new printer than to replace the ink, and that was just too wasteful for me.

    7. Lifelong student*

      I have a HP inkjet printer that came with a plan where they replace the cartridges at no cost as long as you don’t print more than 15 pages in a month. There are other plans with more pages per month but there is a monthly subscription cost. For the 15 page plan, if you go over it is $1 for 10 pages. The purchased pages- both on subscription and on the overage carry over and can be used in later periods. This plan works for me as a home printer. Scanning does not use pages unless you print to paper. In the several years I have used this printer I think I have only gone over the free 15 pages in a month. Don’t know if this is still available on those terms- I got mine at Best Buy.

    8. Sleepy*

      I’ve hated all the inkjet printers I’ve owned because it seemed like I was constantly replacing the ink when I was using the printer frequently (frequently being a couple times a week or a couple times a month), and if I went long enough without using it and suddenly needed it, it just didn’t work and I’d have to go buy fresh ink immediately. What’s the point of having a printer that does not print? That’s literally it’s only job.

      I got a HP LaserJet Pro M15w Printer a year or two ago and am still using the free ink it came with. It’s tiny printer compared to all the inkjets I’ve owned, it always prints when I need it to, and it only cost about $100. Best. Printer. Ever.

      It looks like that exact model number might be discontinued, but BestBuy has a similar one on sale for $100 (the HP – LaserJet M110we).

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The only thing inkjet printers have over laser is price in my view. The ink costs a fortune, it dries out, you usually can’t use generic ink, many of them won’t let you print anything if one of the colors is out (even if you don’t need that color). Inkjets are essentially disposable at this point.

      If you NEED color, then maybe an inkjet is worth it because color laser printers cost so much.

      Here’s how I picked a printer last I bought it. I went to the store. Looked at the Brother printers. Found the one that did everything I needed but a minimum of what I didn’t need. If there were two or more that met the requirements, I looked a size and price.

    10. ShinyPenny*

      If you google the topic, it seems that there are health risks associated with laser printers– some studies have found exposure causes genetic changes, some have found laser printing produces tiny particulates comparable to what smoking produces. I don’t know how to evaluate these risks.
      Any opinions?

      1. Angstrom*

        If that’s the study I’ve seen, the test rats were placed in a confined space with a laser printer running continuously for five hours a day.
        Home use for me is perhaps two pages a day, and the rest of the time the printer is asleep. I’m not worried about it.

  41. Might Be Spam*

    How do you handle your long hair? I’m shedding like crazy and it sticks to everything. It wouldn’t be so noticeable if it were shorter. I’m brushing or combing it in the morning and at night. I don’t think it’s getting thinner, it’s just that there’s a lot of it and the strands are long and noticeable.

    1. Zebydeb*

      Solidarity, I only wish had some good tips to share! Switched to a Lupe vacuum cleaner recently – early days, but I think it is coping with hair a bit better than my old Dyson.

    2. Llellayena*

      Yep, welcome to long hair. I just resign myself to peeling strands (or clumps) of hair off everything and vacuuming regularly. I’m hoping to be carpet-free by next year (can’t afford it yet) which will help.

    3. Squidhead*

      I mostly brush it in the shower as I comb out the conditioner, then I wrap it in a towel, comb it smooth, braid it and leave it braided. The majority of loose hairs come out in the shower this way, and keeping it braided keeps me from shedding all over the house.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same thing – if not braided, then up in a bun, but either way it’s contained.

    4. Maryn*

      I only brush my long hair in two places within the house–in front of the bathroom sink and in front of a particular drawer in the kitchen. (Most of the hair that falls out happens when I’m brushing it or in the shower.) I sweep or swiffer those two areas far more often than the rest of the room. If I keep up with general cleaning like sweeping or vacuuming entire rooms, fallen hairs aren’t nearly as much of a problem, since I’ve already dealt with 80% of it.

      Now about keeping it off my dark-colored coat…

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      You contain it in some way. Mine is braided or bunned pretty much constantly. If you don’t know about hair sticks (and hair forks), they are awesome. The basic hair stick bun is the nautilus (plenty of tutorials available on youtube). You can try with a smoothly sharpened pencil before buying or crafting a better one. I live everyday in a brass hairstick from TheTwistedCalontiri on Etsy and a nautilus bun.

      Fair warning, this does mean almost all your sheds will come out in your hairbrush and it will be FULL of hair.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconding the nautilus bun, though I prefer a wooden hair stick myself :)

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          They are awesome too, and I have plenty of them (SOO easy to DIY if you have a pocketknife and live where there are trees), but I keep reaching for my hairfork. All a matter of personal preference, plus the brass matches my glasses and contrasts nicely with my dark brown hair.

    6. Llama face!*

      I know! I grew out my hair for the first time in decades and now I have hairballs that end up EVERYWHERE: on my floors, in the dryer, stuck to the back of my shirt, etc! Sorry, no solution just commiseration.

    7. Clara Bowe*

      Go and get your hair professionally washed and blown out every 3-6 weeks. Seriously, there is something about a solid scrubbing of the scalp that gets all the hair to stop shedding every ten microseconds. Add in the brush/blow out?

  42. Ali + Nino*

    What do you like most about yourself, and why?* **

    *If your #1 answer is a physical attribute, please also include a non-physical answer!
    **No answer from me yet as I’m still trying to figure this out :)

    1. Llama face!*

      I’m not sure I could pick one trait to rule them all but I do quite appreciate my asexuality/aromanticism. It seems, looking from the outside, to be extremely exhausting to be someone who needs or really wants a romantic or sexual partner. From what I’ve seen of friends and family (at least those socialized as female) there is so much time and focus spent on image and appearance management, attracting someone, managing the relationship, and that sort of thing. I don’t have as much pressure because my appearance, how I talk, what I spend my time on, etc. don’t need to be tools to that aim. I can just be. I really like the sense of freedom I have in that respect because I’m ace aro and I wouldn’t trade it even if I could!

      (Hope this doesn’t come across as hating on people who do desire these things- it’s just that the appealing part of it doesn’t exist for me so I mostly just notice the huge amount of work and stress it seems to involve)

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Yikes, it’s hard to choose just one thing (which sounds pretty narcissistic, doesn’t it? But it’s true).

      Like Llama face, I like being aromantic asexual. It seems like it makes life a whole lot easier, no worries about whether or not somebody fancies me, no looking for the right person and as a woman, no worries about being safe in a relationship. Like Llama face, I am not saying there aren’t good things about relationships or that it is, in any way, a wrong thing to want. Just for me personally, not having those interests makes my life easier.

      I also like being an introvert and being pretty content with a good deal of alone time.

      I consider myself smart, not a genius or anything, but smart.

      Basically, I like being me.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This was a complicated one. I’m going with an improved ability to let go of the past and try for a fresh start. (After a pounding of health problems, and I’m recovering mentally from that physical toll but I’m not back to normal there.)

      Specifically that I tried acupressure despite not being convinced it would do anything, and it actually really helped.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I have pretty good intuition and can often figure out and simplify things to better explain them to others, or “translate” when two people are talking past each other.

      I also have pretty blue eyes that I think are my best physical feature :)

      1. Ampersand*

        I know I’m late to the conversation—this is also one of my favorite things about myself! I feel like I can synthesize info and explain it pretty well, especially for/to people who are talking past each other. It’s a useful trait! :) I’ve never heard anyone else describe this trait in themselves—it’s cool there are at least two of us out there!

        1. Llama face!*

          Number three here! I usually get what someone means even if they are using wrong words or describing it badly, I can convert professional language or jargon into something the general public easily understands, and I’m skilled at identifying misunderstandings between people who are talking and not getting through to each other and then mediating that conversation.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Oh Lordy, there’s a theme. I was thinking my independence ie my ability to live my life on my own which includes making money, saving for retirement, handling or hiring people to handle everything for my home, car, etc.

      I’m not ready to claim Ace identity, but I think I’m somewhere on that spectrum. I can take or leave sex or romantic relationships (without missing it) and right now I’m way too busy enjoying my life with my friends to be on the dating apps. I seem to never meet people in real life to date despite a fairly active life. I’m not opposed to dating, though, it’s just not a priority. And I was once complimented by a friend who admired that I wasn’t chasing a partner. He was and that desire for a parter led IMO to some less than optimal choices. When he is single he spends lots of time on the dating apps looking for someone. At this point I feel like dating apps are a chore that (for me) haven’t worked out and I’d rather spend time on stuff I want to go.

      1. RagingADHD*

        You know yourself best, of course, but IMO “I don’t want to be on dating apps” has about as much correlation to being Ace as “I don’t want to eat a shit sandwich” has to being anorexic.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A friend of mine posted a thing on Facebook where he asked people to relate something they admired about a mutual friend. One of our mutual friends said about me, “[Red] takes ‘take no shit and suffer no fools’ to levels that are nothing short of impressive.” That absolutely tickled me pink.

    7. Still*

      A friend once said about me that I “look at the world realistically but with a special attention to the good things in it” and I really liked that.

      1. allathian*

        Me too! I also have an eidetic memory for orthography. When I’m learning a new language, if I’ve seen a word written down once, I can spell it forever even if I don’t know the meaning of the word. This includes diacritics as long as I understand how they affect pronunciation. At least this is true of all the languages I’ve attempted to learn so far, although to be fair, all of them use the Latin alphabet. It may be said that out of all the languages I’ve seriously attempted to learn, English is by far the most difficult to spell. (I grew up bilingual in Finnish and Swedish, and I learned English in my early teens, I’ve previously been fluent enough in French to study at university level exclusively in French, and fluent enough in Spanish to do an internship there, again without ever having to speak any other language than Spanish to make myself understood. I also know basic tourist German.)

    8. Filosofickle*

      Not 5 minutes ago I saw this question posed on social, so I already know my answer!

      I appreciate how I see the trees and the forest. I notice the little details others miss, from the tiny flowers in a garden to what people aren’t saying to what makes someone’s eyes light up. I also see how the pieces connect, how stories and patterns emerge from what seem like random elements. My brain is constantly diverging and converging. This can be annoying to others — how I process things is often perceived as distracted or off-topic. But I like this part of me!

  43. Merp*

    My husband has a brother who is generally unreliable and useless.

    My PIL are now retired and travel frequently. Whenever they’re away they ask my husband to come over to collect their mail, water plants, and fill up the pool. They never, ever ask BIL to help.

    BIL gets away with many behaviours that inconvenience the rest of the family but this is the one thing that annoys me to no end. My husband and I both work and have kids, including one with special needs. My BIL and his wife also work but no kids. Their entire weekend is devoted to leisure time and surely once or twice a year they can be asked to go water the plants themselves. I wouldn’t mind if BIL or his wife did the chores even once for every 10 times that we do it. But it’s the 100% vs 0% that bothers me.

    Ostensibly they ask my husband and not me; but realistically I sometimes end up doing the house care chores when my husband is busy with work or unwell or whatever. And even when it’s my husband who goes over that’s precious weekend time away that he could have spent at home. When he goes to fill up the pool it can take up half a day.

    My ILs have a policy of zero confrontation – to the point where I feel it’s unhealthy. I accept it’s not my business, however, to force my husband to confront his parents when that’s not their family culture. I guess I’m asking for suggestions on how to accept the situation won’t change and try to be okay with it, since poisoning my BIL is not a realistic option.

    1. Merp*

      Actually, I was wrong. I forgot only my BIL’s wife works. BIL has been unemployed by choice for several months now.

    2. Lynn*

      Unfortunately you can’t do anything to make them ask BIL. All you and your husband can do is control your own availability. If the answer is “I’m sorry, we’re just not able to do that this time”, and you stick with it, they will have to find an alternate solution. That solution may not involve BIL, but you won’t be doing it either. Easier said than done with old family dynamics, I know. But you can only control you.

      1. Emma*

        100% this! If they’re asking him to help more than like 3, maybe 4 times a year, I would just start being unavailable. You can’t control whether or not they ask brother in law, but your family can control how often you help.

        For things like collecting mail, the post office has a service (I think free?) where they’ll hold your mail for you while you’re away, and I think then you go pick it up at the end.

        They can always hire someone to water their plants. We hire someone to watch our dogs when we go out of town, instead of asking friends or family to do this for free.

        Same thing with the pool- there are pool services that I’m sure they could hire.

        Your husband doesn’t have to fix the problem for them, he can just start being less available. Something like “sorry, we’ve got a lot going on that weekend and won’t be able to help that time. Maybe you could hire a plant or pool service, or have your mail held at the post office.” (or just same response, without it including the options).

        And if your husband isn’t willing to limit your availability, that’s a husband problem instead of an in law problem.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, the post office (in the US, at least) will hold your mail. How often do the other jobs take? My plants need to be watered once a week. I don’t have a pool, but if there’s nobody in the house, why does it need to be filled? Seems like it would be better to drain it and put the top on.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            If it gets too low it’ll screw up the autovac/filter/suction. Draining it would take a really long time and be an epic waste of water, unless these trips are at least a month long. We’re not talking fill the entire pool here. It’s gotta be “add water to keep it at appropriate level”. I’m not saying OP should be responsible for this, but for example, I top off my pool once a week in summer and it takes about an hour. (It only evaporates quickly enough to need it weekly during summer. Rest of year I could do it once a month for an hour and be fine.) But also, someone coming to do it once a week and needing to hang around for an hour would be annoying to them (or needlessly expensive if you’re paying someone just for that). Of course, what the people in question need will depend on where they are and how big the pool is. My pool is serviced once a week but that only takes 20 mins max, so it wouldn’t make sense for him to run the water when he comes.

    3. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

      Forget about your brother-in-law and think about your parents-in-law. If they have the money to travel, why can’t they work out another arrangement? A neighborhood kid who they can pay, a pool cover, putting the mail on hold, bringing the plants over — lots of options. The day will come when they have health issues and they will need to rely on you for actual urgent help — there’s no point in using up all your time and goodwill now!

      1. RagingADHD*

        This. You can just say “no.” They will figure something out.

        If your husband can’t say no to his parents, *even when he knows he can’t fulfil the obligation and it will fall on you,* then you have a husband problem, not an in-law problem.

        If you haven’t had a discussion with your husband about the fact that you don’t want to do this so much, or personally do it at all, then you have a communication problem in your own house.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think they never ask BIL for help because they don’t trust him to have unsupervised access to their house. (Whether due to anticipated malice or negligence.)

      How much weekend/evening time your spouse puts into helping out relatives or friends… that’s something where you are justified to say “Hey, I need more help with our kids on the weekend.” e.g. He could take your kids along to refill the pool. The in-laws could spend 2 minutes filling out a yellow Hold Mail form. There are automated plant waterers you fill up before you leave. There are a lot of quick, low effort solutions here to put less burden on your husband–and by extension less burden on you picking up his tasks–that are well short of insisting that they hire a pool service or a plant watering service or landscapers.

      Right now the easy thing for your pil is to ask your husband for help, and the easy thing for him is to ask you for help, and you’re the end of that line of support with no one to shift your extra tasks onto. Possibly any or all of them would be amenable to switching things up if you let them know this isn’t working for you, especially with all being low confrontation. The brother in law is a red herring.

      1. ThatGirl*

        You can do hold mail online, I’m not even sure if this physical form exists? (It probably does, but online is way easier.)

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, there’s a yellow physical card you can fill out, but you can do it online as well.

    5. Not A Manager*

      This reminds me a lot of the AAM answer to when you should complain about your co-worker slacking off. I think you need to focus on you and your boundaries. If the amount of time and energy you and your husband spend helping his in-laws is a problem, then you need to address that. It’s up to them how they fill the gap.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, while it sounds like there are other issues with your BIL, he isn’t necessarily doing anything wrong here. Or at least he isn’t doing anything wrong to you or your husband. He has the right to draw whatever boundaries he chooses to around doing favours for his parents (though if they are constantly doing favours for him and he won’t do this in return, they may have reason to be annoyed, but that is really for them to deal with).

      If your husband were an only child or his brother lived abroad, it would be up to your husband to decide what help to give his parents without expecting his brother to also take it on, so…if your brother in law didn’t exist, this problem still wouldn’t go away. He may well even be thinking, well, your husband could just do the same thing and say “no.” I know they don’t even ask him but it may be that they used to and he just said “no” all the time, so they gave up.

    7. Chestnut Mare*

      It sounds like your husband could use his parents’ no-confrontation style to his benefit. If he says nope, can’t help, it sounds like there won’t be any pushback.

      I agree with Emma that this is a husband problem. Your family has enough on your plate, and it’s worth probing a little to determine what’s going. Does your husband feel unable to say no to his parents?

    8. KatEnigma*

      If they asked BIL to do these things, it wouldn’t get done. Surely, you understand that much. They don’t want to come home to dead plants and a burned out pool pump.

      But you can’t control what your husband does, let alone your in laws. All you can do is say no, for yourself.

      1. Generic Name*

        Exactly this. The worst that happens if nobody accepts the Gift of Other People’s Chores is mechanical equipment for a leisure activity fails and some plants die. No humans or animals will die if you stick to your boundaries.

      2. Maxie's Mommy*

        Yep. Weaponized incompetence here. After BIL messed up his plant–watering duties a few times, his folks have stopped asking him to do anything. When you talk to his parents, ask why they don’t ask BIL this time, and see what their answer is.

    9. Generic Name*

      What would happen if your husband said no to his parents when asked to do chores while his parents went on vacation? You are resenting your BIL for something your PIL are doing. And you want to have a “big confrontation” about the issue. I haven’t seen that you and your husband have set any boundaries around this. You are allowed to say no and stick to it. Even if your husband says yes, but later finks out. You don’t have to step in and rescue him/his family.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      You’re blaming the wrong person! What has everyone involved here done?

      You: cover your husband’s chores that he committed to and you didn’t

      Husband: committed to chores knowing it would upset you and detract from family time, and that he wouldn’t even have to do them all because you’d do them for him

      PIL: asked someone they trust for help, and were told OK

      BIL: did nothing because he was asked to do nothing?

      I know who I’d be angriest with!

    11. Ellis Bell*

      You’re saying that “they ask my husband and not me” but surely there has to be joint agreement as a couple before one of you spends a huge chunk of the weekend somewhere else! If I asked someone for a favour like that, I would assume they’d run it past their spouse as a matter of course. I’m not saying you have to be the bad guy, I’m saying he needs to at a minimum, check with you if you can hold the fort, and if you can’t, he needs to say “I’m not free” without throwing you under a bus. I’m sure you do this for him! You only overtly blame your spouse with pushy people where it’s useful (you don’t say that they are, so I assume a basic no is okay and they’d be reasonable with that). It sounds though, like you’re annoyed with BiL on principle and I think it’s worth figuring out why that is. Like, why would you be okay with your husband doing nine times the favours just for the principle of him doing something occasionally? Why is there a comparison at all? Is it because you are picking up too much slack? Are there fears about the future when parents get older and it’s not about low key stuff that could just be outsourced? Are you feeling protective of your husband? Are there some older resentments that this is being piled on top of? I can’t tell, but you might have some ideas. Basically though, I think as a couple you need to decide what is the maximum you can offer his parents without any resentment and stop expecting them to ask someone unreliable to look after their stuff. No one is going to do that.

    12. Indolent Libertine*

      I agree with you that “BIL is useless by choice and nobody will call him on it” is annoying, but I also agree with everyone else who has replied that this isn’t really the problem here.

      I think you need to sit down with your husband and say “I would like us to come to an agreement on a number of weekends, and a number of hours on those weekends, per year, that you will do these home care chores for your parents; but beyond that, I would like you to tell them that you are not available and they will need to make other arrangements. The kids and I also need and want weekend time with you, and your doing these chores for your parents so often really cuts into that. I would, especially like you to stop agreeing to refill the pool ever, because that takes half a day, and that’s really too much to ask.“

      If your husband’s response to this is “but they are my family, and they will be upset with me if I don’t,“ then I encourage you to take a leaf out of Captain Awkward’s book and say “please remember that the kids and I are also your family, and I will be upset with you if you don’t set some limits on this.”

      1. Chestnut Mare*

        The thought did occur to me that husband is willing to do the chores for his parents because it provides a bit of respite from responsibilities at home.

    13. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      Mom left us last June and Dad the previous June. My brother and sister were unable to help so whether it was 4 am or 4 pm I was called upon to help. My wife is a gem and was willing to also help whenever possible. I wish the phone would ring asking for help, but that will never happen again.

      Sometimes, doing “the right thing” is the right thing to do.

      I admire your husband for being there for you and being there for his parents.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        You ARE good at being rude.
        This kind of comment is never helpful. While I understand your grief over your parent’s deaths, telling someone their problem is not a problem because it’s different than YOUR problem is not okay.

  44. Choggy*

    What are the best fabrics to keep butt sweat at bay in the gym? I hate leaving my sweaty butt prints on the weight machines (which I clean after I’m done, of course). Just need something a bit more absorbant, was wondering about the Knix line of underwear, or something similar? Would just make me feel a bit more comfortable. Thanks.

    1. Chaordic One*

      What are you wearing now? I usually wear classic gray sweat pants or shorts made out of 100% cotton that have a sort of fleece-like finish on the inside. They are a bit heavier than many other things and, arguably, they may cause you to sweat more, but they are absorbent.

  45. Elizabeth*

    Does anyone have any recommendations of areas or hotels to stay in when visiting Zurich? Going in Aug for 4 nights with my husband. Thank you!

    1. Roland*

      Will you be spending more time in Switzerland outside of those 4 nights? If not, I’d cut down time in Zurich in favor of somewhere else tbh. For example, Lucerne and Interlaken are quite close by train. I’m sure Zurich is a fine place to live but Switzerland has a lot of really special areas to visit!

  46. Turtle Dove*

    I don’t cook much but used to make a split-pea soup that my husband loved. I don’t have a particular link, but it was pretty basic and used dried peas that broke down as the soup cooked. I usually added diced ham, and I think broth was an ingredient. I thought I’d chime in (late!) because I didn’t see split-pea soup mentioned yet.

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