weekend open thread – April 22-23, 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: Pineapple Street, by Jenny Jackson. Three women — two sisters and one the sister-in-law who has married their brother — navigate their 20s, old money, family, marriage, work, and love. It’s being called a contemporary Henry James and that feels right.

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

{ 929 comments… read them below }

  1. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading this week, and give or request recommendations. All reading welcome!

    I haven’t done a ton of reading this week but I started a book called Flying Solo by Linda Holmes. So far I’m enjoying in, although I’m not very far in.

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      I’ve been reading The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang! I’m only about a third of the way through but it’s a very fun read. I get the feeling there are some twists and turns coming my way which is quite exciting.

          1. Rose is a rose is a rose*

            I really enjoyed Babel by R.F. Kuang but found The Poppy War was just too gpry for my taste.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I’m slowly reading the Mrs Pollifax series. They’re very restful. I would call them cozy spy novels. I’m alternating with other books so I don’t get tired of the Mrs Pollifax books.

      1. Don'tbeadork*

        I just finished re-reading Mrs. Pollifax and a couple of Gilman’s other books (The Clairvoyant Countess, Thale’s Folly, The Nun in the Closet). She’s a nice gentle read when life gets a bit stressful.

        You may like the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series as well. Or really, any of the Alexander McCall Smith series.

      2. Pam Adams*

        The Nun in the Closet may be my favorite. I also recommend books by D.E. Stevenson- a British writer from the 1940’s through 1960’s. The House in the Cliff as a stand-alone, and the Mrs. Tim series are great.

      3. PhyllisB*

        If you like Mrs Pollifax, Simon Brett has a series that’s good, too. I can’t remember her name now, but something similar to Mrs. Potter, but that’s not exactly it. I’ll look it up and let you know if you’re interested.

        1. Jessica*

          Oh yes, it’s Mrs. Pargeter! I agree that these are delightful. The first one is called “A Nice Class of Corpse.” Mrs. Pargeter is an English widow whose late husband led a successful life of crime and has left her comfortably off, and who is still enjoying life at a certain age.

          1. Clisby*

            Yes, Mrs. Pargeter. Simon Brett has several series: Charles Paris, who is a fairly unsuccessful actor, and the Fethering Mysteries, which feature two women who live (next door to each other) in the seaside town of Fethering.

      4. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        The phrase “cozy spy” has won me over. I’m adding those to my reading list!

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

        Love those, especially the early ones! I first read them when I was young, but as I get closer to Mrs. Pollifax’s age, I particularly enjoy seeing a little old lady kick @!#$@#.

    3. Bluebell*

      I loved Flying Solo. And Pineapple Street just came to me from the library. I just finished The Paris Library and enjoyed it, and about to dig into The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. I have Alexandra Petri’s new humor collection out from the library too. It’s funny but also bitter, so I’ve had to spread it out.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      A new Victoria Goddard book dropped suddenly, so I enjoyed that (PSA – if you buy directly from her website, it’s cheaper than Amazon, and they have multiple formats).

      I also read the new T Kingfisher (A House with Good Bones), which was creepy fun.

      Before that, Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky, which was an entertaining standalone book, with a mix of scientific what-if-ing and political/corporate thriller.

    5. kina lillet*

      Read Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett—not bad and had some really cool magic ideas. And tonight I reread The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison for the millionth time.

      1. Arglebargle*

        LOVE the Goblin Emperor!!! I have reread it multiple times. Have you read Katherine Addison’s other novels set in that world? They are basically murder mysteries but are so excellent. Her world building is so perfect.

        1. kina lillet*

          Yeah, I really like them! Probably I like Cemeteries of Amalo better than Grief of Stones, and neither so much as Goblin Emperor. Have you read any of her other work?

    6. Iolkia*

      Just finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susana Clarke. It’s wonderful!! All the magic has gone out of England and in a prophecy, two magicians must bring it back…in sort of a Regency pastiche? With Napoleon and a Lord Byron cameo? Brilliant, and absolutely indescribable.

      Thank was 800 pages long and very dense, and I would happily take recommendations for anything SFF that is entertaining and kinda pulpy. Think John Scalzi, Jim Butcher, or James S. A. Corey.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susana Clarke – I loved that one! Definitely a doorstopper, but what a wonderful world-building/dramatic/weird story… I adored the footnotes, which sometimes exceeded the regular page text (and I think one or two footnotes ran into multiple pages); they gave a nicely academic-reality tone to the story.

      2. Angstrom*

        For SFF, you might try the Frontlines series by Marko Kloos that starts with “Terms of Enlistment”. Becky Chamber’s “A long way to a small angry planet” is fun, as is Travis Baldree’s “Legends and lattes”.

      3. Jay*

        Try Paul Malmont’s books “The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril” and “The Amazing, The Astounding, And The Unknown”. They are a wonderful 20’s and 30’s era style pulp novels staring the greatest pulp authors of all time. Walter B. Gibson, Isaac Asimov, H.P. Lovecraft, even L. Ron Hubbard is in one of them.

      4. Pieforbreakfast*

        It took me about 100 pages to really get into Johnathan Strange but I ended up loving it. I really really liked her last book, Piranesi. Totally got pulled into the world she built.

      5. The Shenanigans*

        If you like Jim Butcher, check out the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire. They are gritty, pulpy urban fantasy about faeries and found family.

          1. The Shenanigans*

            Yes! I love those too. I’ve also read all the short stories she has in that world. They are a lot of fun. I am about three or four books behind, though, thanks to college. :(

      6. Arglebargle*

        I second ANYTHING by Becky Chambers (Wayfarer series, Monk and Robot series). Love Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series. If you like Harry Dresden and enjoy “urban fantasy,” then I can’t recommend Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson novels enough, as well as her Alpha and Omega series.

      7. cleo*

        Zho Cho writes really immersive and entertaining fantasy / urban fantasy. The Sorcerer to the Crown series is set in Regency England with magic – and much shorter than 800 pages. Black Water Sister is a darker urban fantasy set in modern Malaysia – a young Malaysian-American woman moves to Malaysia with her parents and becomes the reluctant medium to her estranged, late grandmother and gets caught up in some trouble – both human and supernatural. Definitely would recommend it to Jim Butcher fans.

    7. LR*

      Just finished remarkably bright creatures and it was AMAZING. gave me all the feels. It was one of those books that really has everything: humor, emotion, mystery, family drama/trauma, romance, deep friendships, new beginnings, and the perfect ending.

      I read Rules for Visiting last week based on an AAM rec and it just didn’t do it for me. Expected to love it but didn’t.

    8. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I started Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang. So far, it reminds me a lot of Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (both contemporary short story collections dealing with Chinese immigration and identity in similar ways). This one has a more delicate tone of voice and kind of a dreamlike mood.

      The first short story didn’t do much for me, but the second (called Days of Being Mild) blew me away. Looking forward to reading on.

    9. Our Lady of the Cats*

      “The Murder of Roger Aykroyd” by Agatha Christie. I won’t say another thing about it! A terrific book!

      1. allathian*

        Ackroyd’s one of my favorite Poirot stories. I just started Murder on the Orient Express, it’s one of my comfort reads.

    10. Richard Hershberger*

      My bookish fifteen year old asked if he could read Blood Meridian. He asked me because he assumed that his mother (who also happens to be my wife) would flip out. I have never gotten around to reading any Cormac McCarthy, though I did see the film No Country for Old Men. I downloaded Blood Meridian on my own Kindle and read the first chapter. It is an interesting combination of very literary prose, a bit reminiscent of William Faulkner, with lots and lots of violence. I am surprised, given the prose, how popular McCarthy is. In any case, my inclination is to let the kid explore, and his mother didn’t say no. I will probably keep reading it myself. We can form a book club.

      1. Iolkia*

        Fair warning: there is quite a lot of violence, as well as a sexual assault. Not saying don’t do it with a 13 year old, but just know what it is going in.

      2. PhyllisB*

        That reminds me of my oldest grandson. He loves to read and we sometimes read and discuss the same books. Sadly, he is in prison now so I can only send him paperbacks that are available through Amazon.
        He recently asked for Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. This surprised me because I kind of thought of that as “women’s fiction “, but hey, if he enjoys it…I read it when it first came out and it was pretty good. His favorite author is John Grisham, so I usually try to find his. He wants The Boys From Biloxi, but weirdly enough, the paperback is more expensive than the hardback on Amazon. (What’s up with that?) I told him I’ll send it when the price goes down.
        BTW, Boys From Biloxi was pretty good. I lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during part of the time this covers. I was just a kid so didn’t pay much attention, but my mother said she remembered a lot of it, and even knew some of the Dixie Mafia.

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

          You are an awesome grandparent — I’m sure that books from you help him to keep going.

    11. Still not picked a username*

      Floella Benjamin’s autobiography, What are you doing here? For the Brits of a certain age, read it! She’s had an incredible life and obviously feels she can still achieve more, an absolutely amazing woman

      1. Laura Petrie*

        Oh I really want to read this. I love Floella and can’t believe she doesn’t look any different at all!

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not really sure why but I’ve been rereading the Game of Thrones series. Heh. (Never watched the show past season 1, the bonus to aphantasia is that I can read whatever and largely be unbothered by it, but all the blood and sex, and the extra sex because we can’t possibly have any plot exposition without naked people getting it on somewhere on screen, was a little much for me when presented visually.)

      1. Morrigan Crow*

        Interesting! I have aphantasia too and just gave up on a serial killer book in the first chapter because I just couldn’t take it the violence.

        1. allathian*

          I can watch gory action violence without being affected by it to any great extent, it’s all a fake and I can shrug it off as such. I can’t handle the anxiety of psychological horror on screen, though, and I’m always half afraid that the next jump scare’s going to give me a heart attack.
          Because I have a very vivid imagination, I can’t read horror or gory mysteries anymore. I used to love Stephen King and Patricia Cornwell as a teen, but now I couldn’t imagine myself reading either.

    13. cleo*

      I finished A Day of Fallen Night By Samantha Shannon and it was so, so good. Epic fantasy with good dragons, destructive wyrms and wyverns, mysterious plague, secret warrior nuns and tons of adventure and intrigue, set in a medieval-ish world inspired by both western and eastern dragon myths. It’s the second in a series (it’s set 500 years before the first one) but it definitely works as a standalone. The first book was promising but this one is just fantastic, a quantum leap in author skill. It’s a thoughtful exploration of faith, loyalty and duty and it’s also a really gripping story that’s hard to put down.

      I just got my copy of Something Spectacular by Alexis Hall from the library and I’m looking forward to reading it. I loved the first book in the series, although it’s definitely not for everyone. But I enjoy a silly but respectful satire of a genre I love (see Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams) when it’s well done and the first book was a very well done and extremely ridiculous satire of Regency romances, from Jane Austen to Georgette Heyer to Julia Quinn. So far I’m enjoying this one – a queer romance between two nonbinary people.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Alexis Hall’s work is great fun! I just finished “Waiting for the Flood” – the audiobook version; I’d already read the print version – and adored it.

        1. cleo*

          I liked Waiting for the Flood too. I think For Real is my favorite from the Spires series.

          He’s an interesting author because I love him (and I’ve been reading him for a long time) but his books are really hit or miss for me, probably because he’s so eclectic.

      2. Jackalope*

        So I read the first Samantha Shannon book on a camping trip the year it came out – I read the whole thing in a 24 hour period, which remains one of my longest in-one-chunk reads (it’s a doorstop). I have the new one, but…. I’m waiting for another camping trip, and probably won’t get to read it until June. I could read it at a different time but my brain insists that her writing must be camping reads now.

        1. cleo*

          That sounds wonderful. Both books would definitely make great vacation reads – they’re so immersive. I was wishing that I’d timed my reading of it better – I was on my library’s waitlist and it became available during a busy time at work, otherwise I would have taken a mental health day off to read it.

    14. PhyllisB*

      I just finished The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Miller. I liked it but could have done without some the sex scenes.
      Of course, that’s just my preference. So…funny thing: I let my 92 year old mother read it first because we generally like the same books. When she returned it to me, she said, “it’s a pretty good story, but I didn’t like all that sex. I’ll leave that for you young girls.” I’m 72.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Forgot to mention I’m about to start Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I’ve heard great things about it so looking forward to it.

    15. mm*

      I honestly didn’t enjoy pineapple street much at all! I just finished mating in captivity by Esther Perel and wanted to highlight the whole thing.

    16. Person from the Resume*

      I’m over halfway through The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz, and I’m loving it.

      It’s definitely modern exploration/terraforming sci fi (far future, human body mods, and animals can be fully intelligent people too), but it’s giving me the feeling of reading old fashioned sci fi.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m very much enjoying the historical mystery The Lavender House by Lev AC Rosin.

        A former police detective in 1950s SF is kicked of the force when he’s caught in the bathroom of a gay bar, and he’s hired to investigate the possible murder of a lesbian who was the gay matriarch of a queer found family who live together in the Lavender House opening being their gay selves in the house but hiding from the outside world.

        It is of the mystery genre but I’m wondering if Alison would be interested in reading about this dysfunctional found family from the point of view of the detective outsider.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            I finished and really liked it. As many detective stories are, it will be a series with book 2 due out before the end of this year.

    17. Irish Teacher*

      I just reread Sophie Hannah’s Closed Casket. The mystery was fairly good but I have no idea why she chose to set it in Ireland. The characters are mostly Anglo-Irish and therefore identify more as British and even those that aren’t behave in ways or express views that would be more British than Irish.

      1. Forensic13*

        I’m convinced that Sophie Hannah wrote that first as a standalone mystery and somebody convinced her (or she convinced them) to put the Poirot fanfic on it. I really liked it as a mystery and HATED it as a Poirot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Irish part was a similar thing added afterwards.

    18. word nerd*

      So I just read Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher and really liked it! I know there are a lot of Kingfisher fans here so would like recommendations for my next one. I especially enjoy fairy tale setups/retellings but don’t like horror/gruesome.

      I also read Semicolon by Cecelia Watson and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Of course it’s about the semicolon, but it’s also about the history of punctuation overall and the rise of grammar guides in the 18th century and the cultural context, including how it can tie into racism. Writers may especially enjoy the excerpts from famous writers who have used semicolons masterfully to create certain, and sometimes opposite, effects. Rambly at times but entertaining!

      1. Jackalope*

        I just recently read Bryony and Roses, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. My all-time favorite author is Robin McKinley and my first ever fairy tale retelling was her book Beauty, so I wasn’t sure if I could like a different B&tB retelling, but this one was also wonderful (and Kingfisher acknowledged that she had been inspired by Robin’s Rose Daughter, yet another B&tB retelling, at the end, so I appreciated that). I Also really enjoyed The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking and Swordheart. (You probably know this, but she also publishes under Ursula Vernon, so you can look for books under that name too.) All three of those are fantasy; I too am not fond of horror, so I’ve avoided her horror stuff, but these all worked for me.

        1. word nerd*

          Thanks, I’ll check those out! Re: Vernon, I’ve read one volume of her Digger series (randomly volume 3 I think?). It was fine, but didn’t really grab me, so I haven’t read the others.

      2. carcinization*

        I absolutely loved her Summer in Orcus book so would recommend that. I never read books online but I stayed up super-late reading it one night back when it was only available online. Years and years later, a paperback copy was finally available online so I’ve bought it to give to my mom for Mothers Day. It’s definitely more fairy tale than horror/gruesome!

      3. Broken scones*

        I’m reading Nettle and Bone now and am really enjoying it. It’s my first T. Kingfisher read. And thank you for mentioning Semicolon–I’ve been curious about reading nonfic books about grammar.

        1. word nerd*

          If you’re looking for more of an overview on grammar, you might like Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, covers a lot in a funny, entertaining way. I’ve also enjoyed other grammar books that include more memoirish stuff with occasional grammar tidbits, but I’m not sure that that’s what you’re looking for.

        2. GoryDetails*

          Non-fiction about grammar: do check out THE TRANSITIVE VAMPIRE by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. It’s subtitled “a handbook of grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed,” and it’s a perfectly usable grammar reference – but to illustrate, say, demonstrative adjectives, Gordon uses “*this* contretemps, *those* rhapsodies, *that* samovar, *these* mishaps”.

          The examples get more elaborate, as do the tales we imagine they must have come from: “Not the vampires but the sandman has made a mess of this schloss.” “The hand that is languishing on the windowsill once was mine.” And so much more – I adore this one! (Gordon has also written “The Well Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed” and “The Disheveled Dictionary : A Curious Caper Through Our Sumptuous Lexicon”.)

          1. word nerd*

            So one of my favorite things to read is nonfiction about dictionaries, and while the Disheveled Dictionary might not be that exactly, I feel like I must now check this out from the title alone.

            1. GoryDetails*

              Have you read Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper? It’s about the Merriam-Webster dictionary and the processes by which it was maintained – quite entertaining! (I’m guessing you’ve already read books about the OED – Professor and the Madman, or Winchester’s The Meaning of Everything…)

              1. word nerd*

                Yes, I loved Word by Word! I’ve read Winchester’s Professor and the Madman but not his The Meaning of Everything. I have read enough books about the OED that I may wait to read that one when my last OED read is not so fresh. :P

      4. Jessica*

        OMG the semicolon is my favorite punctuation mark. I can’t wait to read this! Thank you!!

    19. GoryDetails*

      A couple of suitable-for-Earth-Day titles:

      Spring Rain: A Life Lived in Gardens, by Marc Hamer – I’ve been taking this one slowly, as the prose is so very lush. It alternates between the author’s post-retirement musings on his life, and his memoirs of his childhood years – with some dark elements about his father, whom he refers to as Angry Dog, but also with that sense of wonder at first discovering the natural world.

      On the lighter side, Expedition Backyard by Rosemary Mosco, an illustrated book in which friends Vole and Mole explore their countryside home – until they’re accidentally transported to the city, have to make new homes for themselves, and discover an entirely new set of adventures. Lots of focus on the creatures that inhabit each area, from the dangerous to the benign.

      Current carrying-around book: Finders Keepers by Belinda Bauer, another of her twisty suspense novels – and one that features characters from some of her previous books, which adds some interesting notes: seeing a teen who’d (barely) survived an encounter with a serial killer in his own book trying to cope with life post-trauma, as a new set of crimes take place in his community…

      And on audiobook: Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell. I’d read and loved this one (and Caudwell’s other – sadly, too few – novels) years ago, and was thrilled to see an audiobook version. Alas for me, I’m finding that the narrator’s choice of voices for some of the characters (mainly the growly/gravelly male characters) doesn’t work for me, seeming a bit too much and too distracting. But the story’s as delightfully snarky as ever, as the young barristers and mentor/narrator Hilary Tamar peruse the increasingly-fraught letters from their friend Julia – who’s currently on vacation in Italy, flirting like mad with multiple people and getting herself charged with murder!

    20. fposte*

      I just read Peter Attia’s Outlive, nonfiction by one of the big current medical explorers in health and longevity (along with Andrew Huberman). His podcasts get a bit technical and long for me and this is clearly meant for a more general audience. I skimmed over a few paragraphs that went too deep into molecular biology for me and got some good takeaways about how to think of health as I get older and that it’s something you plan for.

    21. Megan*

      I’ve finished flipping through Before the Squiggle Code, and it’s fascinating how many pre-reading skills there are. We’re gearing up to teach our oldest to read, which is exciting.

    22. WellRed*

      I’ve just begun Pattie Boyd’s memoir, Wonderful Tonight. I’m curious about this woman who inspired three famous songs.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Oh her story is heartbreaking! If I weren’t already disillusioned about Eric Clapton because of vaccines, what he did to her would totally kill my fanship.

        I finished Dee Snider’s Shut Up and Give Me the Mic last night and it is surprisingly good! He is not at all what I expected and his story is great.

    23. J.B.*

      How Rory Thorne destroyed the multiverse, and then rolled right into the sequel. Really fun, the blurbs call it a mix of fairy tale and space opera with snark.

    24. Blythe*

      I somehow missed the existence of Gabrielle Zevin and, after a book club assignment, am deep into her oeuvre. I love her style and her storied— and I LOVE that there are quite a few books to work my way through.

    25. Pieforbreakfast*

      I read Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson (I loved Nothing to See Here by him) over two days while sick. I enjoyed it, liked the characters and the story. Then I couldn’t remember anything about it the next week and had to read the back cover to remind me of the story line.

    26. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      This morning I started Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris (who wrote Chocolat). I’m on the fence — the writing is a bit ornate for me and it chapters alternate past and present so it’s hard to settle in.

      1. BlackberryPie*

        This was great. I’d forgotten about her. She does great character studies. Also try 5 quarters of an orange.

    27. Decidedly Me*

      I’m reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I recently finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which I liked a lot more than The Starless Sea

    28. carcinization*

      Started reading Hodgell’s God Stalker Chronicles, which is the first ominibus for a book series… it was recommended by Ursula Vernon and I needed something new to read, so decided to give it a try. It’s pretty good so far.

    29. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Finally got around to reading the latest novel that Connelly put our last fall. He’s winding it down, so that will be interesting… I’ve been reading these since college.

      Next up is Nina Totenberg’s “Dinners with Ruth,” an RBG memoir.

    30. Somanybooks solittletime*

      I wanted to thank all the people who recommended the Murderbot diaries – I would never have found them otherwise and I love them. I have already recommended them for everyone I know that reads. Thank you!

      1. word nerd*

        I am very impatiently waiting for the next one to be released in November. To be honest, I wish I had only found out about it after the series was complete!

    31. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I’m reading The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes. The first chapter is comprised of letters between Marian and her blackmailer, and is surprisingly witty and delightful. I’ve reached the post where she and the blackmailer go on the run together and I’m expecting fun shenanigans.

      1. cleo*

        I loooved TPCOMH. I think you’re in for a treat. It’s remarkably cozy for a book about blackmail and murder.

    32. Broken scones*

      I started reading Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher and I downloaded the audiobook of Drew Leclair Crushes the Case by Katryn Bury from Libby.

    33. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Just finished my last rereading in Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia cycle (all 31 books!). That was three months worth!

    34. Nervous Nellie*

      I may be late to the game, but I have been dazzled this week by Paul Auster’s 2017 book called ‘4 3 2 1’. It is the story of four possible parallel lives of the main character, similar in spirit to the recent film Everything Everywhere All at Once, which I LOVED. This book is unputdownable, which is saying something as it’s 850+ pages. I am reading it very slowly because I don’t want it to end!

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

      Still not feeling up to much heavy reading, so I’m still re-reading some collections of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise comic strips. I enjoy his Modesty Blaise novels as well, and I would highly recommend all of these as reading material for teens, though there is some sex and violence.

      Modesty Blaise and her platonic primary partner Willie Garvin have retired from the profitable crime ring they used to run and now intersperse their enjoyable retirement with being sort of freelance do-gooders. The stories are reasonably multi-cultural, sex positive, and feminist. High-school me LOVED them, and they’re probably what got me into doing martial arts for a while.

    36. MeepMeep123*

      I’m re-reading some books by Elena Mikhalkova (Russian mystery novels). I recommended them to my parents, which got them instantly hooked and binge-reading, and this got me into them again. I don’t know if they exist in translation, but if they do, I highly recommend them.

  2. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing this week, and request or give recommendations. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I finally started Triangle Strategy after delaying for a long time due to my Fire Emblem obsession. I’m enjoying it a lot although I’ll admit that I’m a bit stressed about not knowing what effect my choices will have down the road.

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      After the show finished, I started replaying The Last Of Us Part II. I still love Abby; come to my house and fight me, internet.

      I’m also making my twice-yearly attempt to get further into Octopath Traveler. Being so terrible at video games, I really struggle with the difficulty spikes this game has between its chapters; but it has such lovely graphics and music, I desperately want to give it the completion it deserves. I think everyone is on their third chapter? Maybe? I might have left Ha’anit on chapter 1 out of sheer dislike for the way her dialogue is written.

      1. Garblesnarg*

        THANK YOU I did finish the game but Ha’anit’s dialog made me batty. I’m a linguist and linguistically it made no sense.

    2. HA2*

      Been playing The Wandering Village, getting through the various achievements. A neat little city-building game on top of a giant critter that wanders through different environments (changing the conditions for your little village.)

    3. Bookgarden*

      Playing Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters for Switch and started with FFIV. I love this game so much and am so excited they have added the original musical score. FFVI is my favorite of them all, but IV is what made me a fan of the series originally so it holds a special place in my heart.

      Still playing Dreamlight Valley with my cat and am deciding what zone to open next after the Sunlit Plateau. Whichever one has the squeakiest critters will probably be the best choice.

      1. Jackalope*

        I have similar feelings about IV. It was not only my first FF game, but one of my first in-depth RPGs ever. And I enjoyed the characters and the story more than any other similar games that I’d played up to that point. Even now hearing the music just makes me happy. Also, my husband just got the remastering and is enjoying it a lot. (I will get there at some point once I’ve moved on a bit from Triangle Strategy; I can only really do one game at a time.)

    4. Taki*

      I am playing Tales of Symphonia… now in its fifth release since 2003. I can’t even bring myself to play the other Tales games because I love this one so much. The graphics and dialogue are a little cheesy and have that problem where the designers assume you’re a little slow on the uptake, but honestly I still love it and I think I love the characters and their struggles even more… 20 years after I played it the first time. It has a lot of the same themes (and plot) as Final Fantasy X, but I think it handles them better.

      1. Presea*

        It’s been pretty surreal replaying that game periodically over the last couple decades, hasnt it? Not only do you get the natural progression of understanding the themes from growing older and maturing, but it feels like its themes about discrimination hit differently as the ebbs and flows of current events go by.

        My screen name comes from that game. When I first played the game, I was like 11 years old, and now I’m 28. It’s incredible how much aging has changed my perspective on this character and her arc. Its changed my perspective on all of them, honestly. Lloyd used to seem so old and mature to me!

        I hope you enjoy the game again from a new perspective as well :)

        1. Taki*

          Aww, my cute little rosebud! <3 Actually, Zelos' dialogue is one of the things that hasn't aged super-well, lol. Although of course it's all a facade…

          Haha, Raine was such a Wise Old Woman and now I'm a decade older than her. Colette I admire more now than I did then. Her early game plot is a little heavy-handed but I really like her journey.

          I had the same experience playing FFVIII as a tween then again as an adult. As a tween, I thought Squall was a badass loner, and as an adult I saw a kid with PTSD who was let down by the system and afraid to let anyone get close to him. I was like, come here and give me a hug.

    5. Megan*

      I’ve mostly been playing comfort games recently. I’m back on my favorite Skyrim play though (a vampire dual wielding Dawnbreaker), and with the mods it’s like a whole new game. We downloaded Ordinator and Vaultman30s Armor Extended. The first armor mod we tried only affected guards, and it was amazing how much more immersive just that one change made. This mod just amplifies that effect.

    6. Nicki Name*

      I’ve gotten into Earth on BGA recently. I currently have 5 simultaneous turn-based games of it going and I think I may finally be getting the hang of it.

    7. MEH Squared*

      Just bought Dredge (Black Salt Games), an indie Lovecraftian game about….fishing? Well, that’s the base of the game, but there’s more to it. I’ve seen a lot of hype about it and it seems right up my alley. I’m eager to try it out and will report back!

  3. Bad at the Decline*

    Highly specific social etiquette question: let’s say it’s your birthday, and you organize a low-key get together: a dinner with friends. You put some thought into what you would like this to look like, but you understand your friends are busy not everyone will be able to make it, and you’re totally fine if you just end up going out with a few people. However, friends who can’t make it try to offer an alternate suggestion. “I can’t make it to your dinner, but let’s go to drinks at a place you said you liked the night before!” etc. This is so kind, but … you don’t want to. You get overwhelmed and you don’t want a “birthday week.” What is the kindest way to decline these alternate suggestions for your event? I do recognize this is a fortunate problem to have, in that friends want to spend time with you, but I don’t want them to experience birthday guilt, and I don’t want to drive all over town for a week straight!

    1. Purple Wombat*

      Tell them you’re busy the night they suggested? And then (if you’d like), suggest doing it another time, like the week after, or just vaguely suggest a “rain check,” depending on how much you’d actually like to do it another time. It’s fine to be “busy” giving yourself the downtime you need, and a good friend will want you to take care of yourself! (And depending on how close your friendship is, maybe you could even just tell them what you said here! But that might not work well for friends who aren’t as close or who don’t really understand introverts.)

    2. PassThePeasPlease*

      I’d thank them for suggesting but provide a reason that you can’t go like a busy work week, other commitments, etc. If I was comfortable I’d consider being honest and say that I was only anticipating the dinner and don’t want to overcommit for the week. If they’re friends they should understand!

      Hope you have a nice birthday!

    3. Pennyworth*

      If you are able to, soften it by offering an alternative – like “The night before isn’t good for me, and I’ve got a lot on this week, but I’d really love to get together after x date.” I have a friend who celebrates her birthday over four weeks, meeting up with friends individually or as couples, because she doesn’t like big gatherings. She calls it the Festival of Me.

    4. Aquamarine*

      I would do some version of, “Since I have dinner plans the next night, let’s do it some other time….” then talk about whatever they have planned for that night, or their new puppy, or anything that moves the discussion along.

    5. RagingADHD*

      “Oh, that’s so sweet! How about the week after?” (or whenever works).

      You don’t need reasons. Just appreciation and rescheduling.

      1. Ally*

        Yes exactly, I would say this! Appreciation and “maybe another time” with no fixed time.

    6. Alex*

      Just let them know you are busy, that you appreciate it, but you’ll have a belated birthday toast the next time the two of you would have seen each other anyway.

    7. Cordelia*

      I’d say something like “that would be great, but I don’t have the stamina to go out two nights in a row nowadays – shall we do something next week instead?”

    8. dusty*

      All these replies are great. Take the invites in your own time FWIW, when my mom died, the friend who liked coffee took me for coffee, the friend who liked books, gave me a book, the friend who liked walks took me for a walk, etc. These are messages you’re getting! BTW, one friend told me vis a vis birthdays, you get the whole MONTH!

    9. Sharkbait*

      I’m not sure why you need to make up excuses as some previous comments suggest. It’s fine to politely and cheerfully say “Oh, I don’t really feel like doing something for my birthday on top of what I have planned- so see you another time!” It’s your birthday. You get to decide what you want to do – and what you don’t want to do.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this.

        Obviously it depends on the size of the group you’re thinking of inviting. When I go out with my group of friends, we’re only 5 people if we don’t invite our spouses along. If one person can’t make it, then they can’t make it, but if more than one can’t make it on a particular day, we usually reschedule. If someone hosts a party at their house, then they pick the date. No event at one of our houses has ever been canceled due to scheduling conflicts.

    10. eeeek*

      I think of my birthday as a moveable feast…and the further away from it, it becomes a lovely celebration of friendship (and much less About Me). So, per all of the suggestions offered, demur about or postpone week-of and stressful gatherings, and make dates as you wish. Toast your friendlings and nod toward your natal day – all of which seems in the spirit of the low-key get together you had planned. Still totally low-key. And hopefully without guilt, but with much fun and joy.

  4. Purple Wombat*

    I’ve been thinking about a social phenomenon I’ve noticed, and I’m curious what people think.

    In a nutshell, when people are dating or involved romantically, and one of those people sends mixed signals, the conventional wisdom is that “he’s just not that into you.”

    But the thing is, we all know that’s not necessarily true—there could be all sorts of reasons for sending mixed signals (shyness, busy with other things, not ready for a commitment, etc). For example, many of us find it scary to ask someone out, and the more we like them, the harder it is! Just think of Remains of the Day—a whole novel about how it can feel impossible to express your feelings for someone you’re drawn to.

    Yet it seems like people find the message “he’s not that into you” to be incredibly compelling. “If he wanted to [be with you, date you, etc.], he would” is standard advice I hear repeated ad nauseam. I completely agree that if someone’s inconsistent, it may not be a good idea to continue dating them. So why isn’t that the advice? “If he can’t show up for you in the ways most of us need (reliability, pulling his weight, etc.), accept it and let him go.” It almost feels like people enjoy or get something out of feeling rejected. Or maybe they need to feel rejected to be able to move on?


    1. ThatGirl*

      I think those are two ways of saying the same thing. If your needs or expectations aren’t being met, it’s time to move on – whether you frame that as “they’re not that into you” or “I’m not that into this” doesn’t really matter.

      Also, I don’t want to play guessing games. I don’t want to try to tease out the reason someone isn’t responsive. Not worth the mental load.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        With relationships–not only romantic ones–I think what matters most is being on the same page, or close to it. Both people can fall hard and fast. Or both people can be happy with something light and occasional. It’s when one person wants more than the other wants to give that it gets rocky. And for the less interested person, it can be easier to step out of the relationship than to constantly hold boundaries.

    2. Enough*

      I think that some times people need/want to be ‘rejected’. That way they can convince themselves they have ‘no fault/responsibility’ in the end of the relation even if they didn’t want to be involved any more.

      1. Purple Wombat*

        Interesting! To me feeling rejected would make me feel like it’s more my fault than “this person is dealing with XYZ issue that’s not about me.” But you might be right, for many people, at least!

    3. Generic Name*

      I think that advice is aimed at (hetero) women who are seeking advice because they are tired of having their heart broken. A good way to not get one’s heat broken is to give your time to people who clearly demonstrate their intentions and don’t leave you guessing. People who are down for casual relationships/let’s see where this leads/are comfortable with ambiguity don’t seek out advice like this because they can take it or leave it if someone is inconsistent.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The other situation I see it in is when someone (male or female) is crushing hard on someone and is desperately looking for clues that the crush is reciprocated. At that point, you can ask them out directly (and take anything other than an enthusiastic yes as a no), or move on quietly, but hanging around in the hopes that they’ll declare their love is going to be frustrating for everyone.

        1. Purple Wombat*

          True enough. And as someone who’s been on the receiving end of this, I am extraordinarily grateful for the ones who gracefully take “no” for an answer and move on, and am super creeped out by those who don’t.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think it’s certainly aimed at straight women, because sometimes we encounter ThatGuyTM who’s been socialised to believe he needs a retinue of women and that having a book of them that he can call is desirable. Even when this guy is sexually motivated and the sex is bad I’ve heard it said; “Even bad sex is like bad pizza, it’s still good” which is insane, because bad pizza is not a good thing. He’s a pretty rare guy, but unfortunately very active so is often encountered, and he will never break up with anyone which is confusing when you’re getting “does he even like me vibes”. I believe the whole “he’s not that into you idea” came from a straight guy, Greg Behrendt who was pretty in love with his future wife, at the time he came up with the concept. He also had a lot of female friends who were dealing with the “puzzling” behaviour of men who were inconsistent and unavailable. He told them to stop overcomplicating it; if the men were keen, they would act keen. The idea made its way onto Sex and the City where Greg was a writer and then was made into a book and a film. Before this it was more common to hear people saying that “men are afraid of commitment” or to excuse guys as being bad at relationships etc. I think the “he’s not into you” thing is still pretty gendered because it’s good advice for everyone to not be more invested than the other person, whether it’s in practice or principle. I think women are just as likely to keep people on a back burner too, but I don’t date them, so I can’t be sure!

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Oh, I have thoughts. Front and centre, relating to potential relationships: straight women, you can ask people on dates! I am [perceived as/live as/whatever] a woman who is attracted to men, and has always approached men, and I am honestly stunned at how rare that is. No torture if you just ask. Yep, it’s scary!

      If you’re in a relationship and you’re not sure what they think, the answer is the same. Now, the “just” is a bit strong, because it is indeed hard and scary. But it is literally the only answer.

      This is gender agnostic but ultimately plays out in alarmingly gendered ways within the straight dating scene: if a woman you had a good date with proceeds to give soft noes more than once, then stop. Either she wants you to, or she thinks she needs to play hard to get, and it’s better for everyone if that behaviour dies out.

      If a man is acting in a way that would elicit “he’s just not into you” if you talked about it, ask him how he is feeling about your relationship and if he wants to change anything. If he won’t give you a straight answer and continues alternating between being super affectionate and ignoring you (for example), leave him. There are a variety of explanations for this behaviour, but regardless of the reason, you are much better off cutting him loose.

      I guess I’m about 30% answering you and 70% answering the painful relationship situations/advice I’ve seen through my friends who are currently dating and Reddit relationship subs, sorry!

      IMO, if it’s not clear, I agree with you. I personally just block out the “he’s just not that into you” way of thinking because it’s tightly woven into a gendered worldview I do not subscribe to and generally only witness third person. He’s just not that into you/you should lower your standards/if men don’t approach women who give soft noes they’ll be sad and alone (no, but I’m OK if you are :)/don’t sleep with people until the X date/don’t act too interested… it’s all torture to my ears.

      People needing to feel rejected to move on is an insightful take, and I think definitely a part of it for some people! Everyone wants to be able to simplify the nuance of human relationships, and that can play out in some very weird ways.

      1. Purple Wombat*

        I agree, absolutely! I’ve always been a big proponent of “just ask,” regardless of gender. This is good food for thought, thanks!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        alternating between being super affectionate and ignoring you
        There’s a human-behavior thing where some people–all genders and orientations–like to feel they are surrounded by admirers. If an admirer’s attention is drifting away, they turn on the charm. If an admirer expects more than they want, they turn cool. Like they want a circle of admirers standing exactly 5 feet away. It can be deliberately manipulative or completely unconscious.

    5. Aquamarine*

      I think people are looking for a way to say, “Okay, I don’t have to try to figure out these signals anymore – I’m done.”

      I agree with you though that having a bunch of other stuff going on can look like not being into someone. But I think that’s harder to make a clean break from. Like you could say, well, this person isn’t as reliable or consistent as I want… but that could change if it’s just something about the situation they’re currently in. So it keeps you wondering.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I think it specifically counters the very toxic “Mr Darcy only looks haughty” narrative that people get indoctrinated with (especially girls / women brought up believing that it’s their job to hold space for emotionally unavailable men).

      And unfortunately, “He is broken, but I can fix him with my magical love” is just as toxic and prevalent.

      “He can’t show up for you in the ways you need” just throws gas on the fire of a limerance that is itching to romantically immolate itself.

      “He’s not that into you” breaks through the smoke and wakes people up. And honestly, I think there’s a lot of truth to it, because if person B was as intensely desirous of a good relationship, and willing to take on as much heavy lifting as person A is ready to do, then person B would be making an effort. Or showing some kind of legitimate interest. Or going to therapy. Or *something.*

      1. Purple Wombat*

        You’re absolutely right that those are toxic and very prevalent narratives. But doesn’t “he’s just not that into you” inadvertently play into another one–that if he *were* that into you, all his problems with being in a relationship would fall away, and it would magically be easy? (Or he would suddenly wake up and transcend his normal way of showing up in relationships to make this one work?)

        1. TechWorker*

          I don’t think it’s true that people magically change when they ‘really want’ a relationship, but people do learn from relationships and their priorities do change over time. I do know cases where someone has treated a friend badly/been noncommittal, they break up and like 2 years later they’re married to someone else… like that doesn’t prove they’ve suddenly sorted their shit out, but it does imply they have the ability to try harder to make it work. (Or, found someone they were more suited to, which – is fine?)

        2. RagingADHD*

          No, because “he can’t give you what you need” implies that you could make it work by not having needs. Or by doing twice as much work to meet your own needs and his, too. And folks who were brought up to erase their needs and do everything “backwards, in high heels” to make things work will continue to try.

          “He won’t, because he doesn’t want to” presents a situation that Person A irrefutably cannot fix or make up for.

          You can’t fix all cognitive distortions about relationships with a single phrase.

          The whole point of “he’s not that into you” is that it describes a one-sided situation. “All we need is love” is an entirely different set of misconceptions, and is irrelevant unless there is already an existing relationship that 2 people are willingly participating in.

        3. fposte*

          I don’t think it’s quite that, though. For one thing, I don’t think there’s usually an important difference between “He’s not that into you” and “He’s not into you enough to get over his obstacles or his normal way of showing up in relationships.” I would say the complement to what you’re saying: that if you decide this is his normal way of showing up in relationships and it’s distant and ambiguous and intermittent, that’s what the relationship is going to be like. And by the time most people are asking the question “Is he into me?” it’s because they find the behavior confusing and frustrating. So if the answer is “No, he’s really into you!” you’re right that it doesn’t get you a change.

          So I always think of it as “He’s not that into me [in the way I need].” Maybe he has emotional obstacles, maybe we’re looking for different things, maybe he’s really bad at signals, but either way it’s either a mismatch or me having to do some unilateral heavy lifting.

    7. Maggie*

      Well if someone is too busy, not ready to commit, or too shy to even speak to you then it isn’t going to work because they’re unavailable to you for whatever personal reason they have. And I do think some people need to feel closure even with casual things. I do also respectfully fundamentally disagree – if they wanted to they will has (anecdotally of course) been true for me. The guys who really wanted me would make it happen and the wishy washy ones who might have good reasons weren’t there… so what you want is the person who’s making it happen. Who is showing up and who is making time. If I’m looking to date I have no interest in someone who can’t commit, has no time for me, or can’t bring themself to talk to me. People might have their reasons beyond just not being that into you but it kinda doesn’t matter bc they’re not an available partner anyway. And I really do think if someone wants you enough theyll make it happen.

      1. Purple Wombat*

        Well I guess the issue is someone who’s showing up to some extent, but not all the way, right? I think I (maybe?) have a bit of an unusual perspective on this because even though I’ve been in several committed, long-term relationships, I find myself literally, physically unable to do certain things that others would probably find easy. For example, I love physical affection, but I find myself physically unable to initiate it. (And the more I like someone, the harder it is!) I also find it extraordinarily difficult to initiate communication, especially at the beginning–I’ve never been the first one to start calling the other person. I’ve spent countless hours coaching myself up to do it, but I literally can’t. It does get better once I get really comfortable with someone (like if we’ve been together for a couple years), but even that doesn’t completely solve the problem. I even have this problem with friends–I love it when they tell me they love me, but I find it extremely hard to do the same (and I never can do it first). I don’t know if that means I’m not good relationship material–I always assumed it didn’t, but maybe I’m wrong.

        1. misspiggy*

          If someone cuts straight through and says, “I’d really like to keep seeing you, what do you think?”, or,”can I kiss you?” are you able to give a clear response? If so, I don’t think that’s a weakness.

          Speaking as the other half of someone who’s reticent in romance, you will need to fond a way to share the heavy lifting of a long relationship, but it doesn’t have to be done in stereotypical ways.

        2. Still*

          That’s all fine if you have friendships and relationships with people who are happy to do all the initiating. But if somebody is looking for a relationship where the other person is going to initiate as much as they do, it doesn’t really matter if you can’t or you won’t, you’re probably not the person for them and they should move on.

          Maybe it’s “they’re just not the right fit for you” rather than “they’re just not that into you”, but the advice is the same: don’t put effort into relationships with people if their level of engagement makes you unhappy.

          But I mean, it sounds like you have had successful relationships with people, so clearly you’re making it work!

        3. RagingADHD*

          Okay, this changes the complexion of the question, but I think it makes my offhanded remark more relevant, actually.

          If you really want successful relationships, and this internal block from communicating or demonstrating affection is in your way, hurting people who care about you, and ruining relationships you want to pursue, then what are you going to do about it? If you depend entirely on someone else to make it all happen, you lower your chances of a happy relationship and drastically raise your chances of being stuck in bad ones.

          Apparently you have tried to DIY a solution to this problem, and it isn’t working. The next logical step would be to call in a professional. The place to sort out inner blocks that hold you back from what you want, is therapy.

          1. Purple Wombat*

            Right, and I am in therapy, but it’s not a silver bullet. But I’m sure I’m not alone; I know other people struggle with these types of issues, even if they’ve found a helpful therapist.

            1. fposte*

              You might find it interesting to look at the work of John Gottman; his focus is romantic partners, which is where he’s the landmark researcher, but he talks about other relationships as well and has some really interesting books. He talks about different types of coupledom and levels of engagement that people favor, and how some that seem like they’re not out of the good marriage playbook can still work–but they have to match up.

              1. Purple Wombat*

                That sounds really interesting, I’ll check it out. Thanks! (Also, as an aside, I always appreciate your wise comments!)

            2. RagingADHD*

              I am not sure how trying to debate the meaning or validity of “they’re just not that into you” helps you or anyone else who feels blocked.

              It is about / for the experience of people on the other side of the equation, who are confused, hurt and frustrated by the emotional unavailability of a potential partner. They are 100 percent allowed to interpret that unavailability in whatever way is most helpful and liberating for them so they can stop putting themselves in hurtful situations.

              If you don’t like it or feel it’s fair, that’s really irrelevant to their experience.

              1. Purple Wombat*

                Sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest I think people aren’t allowed to interpret it in the way that’s most helpful for them! I absolutely support that. And to be clear I 100% agree you shouldn’t stay with someone who’s being inconsistent.

                I was just trying to get a better sense of why this advice works for so many people when I personally don’t find it as helpful as a different approach. I think the commenters who have said it’s a problem with any one-size-fits-all relationship advice were probably right.

            3. Generic Name*

              I’m glad you are in therapy. Maybe you can work with your therapist to come up with and practice scripts where you can communicate when you are into a person but might not be able to show it. I’m not saying this lightly or trying to downplay how difficult it might be for you. But it’s probably easier than convincing a large portion of dating society to just be patient with people who run hot and cold.

              1. Purple Wombat*

                Sorry, it seems like this has gotten misinterpreted. I never wanted to convince anyone to stay involved with someone who runs hot and cold. I completely agree that’s not a good idea. I’m just trying to understand why people find this particular message to be so helpful. (For me, it’s not as helpful because I think it’s not always accurate, and a different message would be a kinder and easier way to allow myself to let them go.)

                1. Helewise*

                  I resonate with what you’re saying. I’m in a place to experience this with friendships rather than romantic relationships right now but even though I appreciate the clarity of the statement it does feel like I’m trying to hurt my own feelings with it. Sometimes things really are more complicated and less reject-y than that (and I can run hot and cold too).

    8. Jessica*

      It’s both the worst-case scenario and a reminder that if this isn’t the underlying truth, it might as well be.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, it’s another version of “the secret reason for the behavior isn’t nearly as impactful as the results of the behavior.”

    9. Ally*

      I think, and I absolutely do not manage to do this myself, we need to take the same advice Alison is always giving, and just name what we are seeing and say what we need. Obviously in a different tone than you would use at work, but.

      I have spent so much time over analyzing behavior as you described, and I could have saved a lot of hours and angst by being a bit more direct.

    10. Not A Manager*

      For myself, I’m only asking questions that might elicit “he’s not that into you” if I’m uncomfortable about something. When my vibe is “we are having a good time getting to know each other,” or “this person likes me an amount that works for me but he is also busy/shy/early in the relationship,” I’m not asking myself how into me he is. I’m happy now, doing the thing now, with this person.

      By the time “he’s not that into you” arises, I’m not completely happy with this person as he is in this moment. Could that change in the future? Sure, and maybe a conversation will help figure that out and maybe it won’t. But it’s important for me to realize that whatever might be coming up next, *right now* I’m not comfortable. “He’s not that into you” is a shorthand for our current experiences aren’t aligned.

    11. matcha123*

      I assume that kind of advice can work with a specific set of people, but it can’t be applied to everyone. Unfortunately, society acts like there’s a one-size-fits-all process for everything from dating to how to live a happy life.

      I am most happiest when a relationship forms naturally out of time spent with a classmate or coworker. Where we start off having no romantic interest in each other, but gradually get to know each other through non-romantic relationships and then date. I think that a LOT of people meet their partners that way, and so when the “Want to date?” / “I find you attractive” conversation comes, no one is all that surprised and we can give the enthusiastic reply that we hear toted in society.

      However, for online and other dating styles, we’ve cut out the whole “platonic getting to know each other” stage and jump straight to the “Do you like me? Yes or No?” and it is just so fast. A coworker would know that you get overwhelmed at certain periods and would avoid piling on, but a stranger doesn’t. So the stranger gets the meh signal.

      Uh, that’s not to say that relationships that spring from work are the best. Just my observation that when someone is spending a good chunk of their time with you in a non-romantic situation, and you don’t hate that person either, it’s easier to read signals that may be taken as a “no” by outside people.

    12. Stitch*

      I think “He’s just not that into you” is a more succinct message. The “he might just be shy” is a potentially “fixable” issue, which maybe isn’t the right message.

      The thing is there’s also a grain of truth to “he/she is just not that into you” even if someone’s busy or not looking for a commitment. If someone’s really special you find a way. I dated my now spouse all through law school, for instance and was extremely busy, but we made it work.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m often reminded of an anecdote about Bruce Willis meeting Demi Moore. He’d just broken up with someone, saying the usual “It’s not you, it’s me; I’m not ready to be in a serious relationship.” And then he met Moore and was like “Okay, with this person I am ready to be in a serious relationship. Right now.”

        Something that I think gets lost in the many versions of this is that the person saying “I’m not ready to be in a serious relationship with anyone right now” believes that! It’s not a trick. Often the other person is great on paper, and you should want to make it work, so if you don’t it must be an “I’m not a serious relationship person” problem rather than an “I’m not interested in a serious relationship with this specific person” problem.

    13. mreasy*

      I also don’t agree. Some people are hesitant, shy, or nervous about dating a specific person they like for any number of reasons… I was extremely that way before my husband and I started dating, and we both got mixed signals from each other. So far so good on that one though!

    14. Anonosaurus*

      I agree that some people are in fact into you, but can’t or won’t act on that for whatever reason. However, I also think that by and large, people who really want something or someone will try to get what they want even if they’re awkward or stumbling about it. That has been my experience, and where the other person (or me) has shown some interest but not really done anything about it, that has turned out to be because neither of us really wanted to that badly (or there were good reasons not to – such as someone leaving the country etc).Waiting for something to happen or interpreting mixed signals is not good for one’s self confidence and it prolongs a situation rather than freeing you up to move on to something or someone else which will bring more into your life. I am so done with sitting on friends’ couches analyzing whether he looked at me ten seconds longer than the woman who sits next to me in the office.

      Also, I do not want to shadow box around someone who can’t unequivocally show enthusiasm for me, whatever their reasons. that’s just my take though. I actually don’t think it matters that much what narrative you use in these situations as long as you act on them in some way rather than crushing hopelessly for weeks or months.

    15. Person from the Resume*

      I’m not sure the convention wisdom is always that “he’s just not that into you.” I feel there’s a lot of friends giving their friends romantic chances support and offering reasons why “he’s into you, but circumstances”

      But also I do think rom coms, tv shows, dramas, and SOCIAL MEDIA are populated by people with crushes and big feelings they should control better doing big outlandish “romantic” things they shouldn’t do (b/c it leads to comedic disaster and embarrassment) which misleads people about what to expect in the real world.

      I think prom-prosals, public marriage proposals, and military members greeting their families should be done in private, but all these things show up on my social feed as something good, sweet, and heartwarming. IMO it is not.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        OTOH, “he’s just not that into you” is vague and this nicer because there’s nothing specific – like he into blondes or skinny girls, or someone his own age or without kids.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        “military members greeting their families should be done in private”

        Definitely yes on this one, especially when it’s of children sobbing in relief that their parent is alive. It seems like emotional porn to me. Why would someone want to publicize these really intimate moments? (Also, what’s the deal with having these parent-child reunions in public places? Again – these should be private, intimate moments.)

    16. Irish Teacher*

      I think advice like that is often sort of backlash against people going too far to the opposite extreme. Yes, there are times when people find it hard to express their feelings or when people are distracted, but often when somebody really fancies somebody or is really in love with somebody, they assume those things even when they are not true.

      I think this is particularly true for men who were traditionally given messages from society about “she’s just playing hard to get” or “you just have to show her how much you care,” “keep going, she’ll come around eventually.”

      Yeah, it would also be wrong to assume that anybody who isn’t openly adoring must not like you, there are other reasons, but I think traditionally, people have often erred on the side of “I like him/her, but (s)he doesn’t seem interested. Clearly (s)he is testing me to see how much I like them. I just have to find the right romantic gesture that will make him/her fall madly in love with me” or even more concerningly, “yes, (s)he treats me badly 90% of the time, but they are so loving the remaining 10% of the time. They do love me really. They are just under stress at the moment. Once they realise how much I care, they’ll be loving 100% of the time.”

      I doubt people enjoy being rejected, but there is a point at which people have to accept (s)he said no or (s)he does not treat me well and I am better off moving on.

      I wouldn’t take it as meaning that if the other person is 100% focussed on you 24/7, they don’t really love you, which I agree is also a problematic narrative, but more that you shouldn’t assume that “I love him/her and we are destined to be together, so I will ignore anything that indicates (s)he doesn’t feel the same way or just see it as a sign that I need to push harder.”

    17. marvin*

      I think this gets at the essential issue in human relationships that we can never truly know how another person feels. I think especially in romantic relationships, it’s tempting to project your own feelings all over the other person.

      I tend to agree that “He’s not that into you” sort of maintains the charade that we can be certain how another person feels based on their behaviour. I’d say that it’s better to focus on how you feel and whether you are able to communicate with the person in a way that seems meaningful. But if you’re not used to framing things this way, it can be a useful shorthand to just assume that a person who really cares for you will show up for you in the ways thay you need.

    18. Double A*

      I think the “he’s just not that into you advice” is applicable after some time has gone into the relationship. It’s not about the initial stages where people are establishing interest and there are all sorts of reasons someone may not have made a move.

      “He’s just not that into you” becomes actionable after a couple months and several dates, past the point when it should be clear that you are interested. It’s often in that phase where one person will kind of string the other one along and the mismatch of interest is what becomes relevant (ie wanting a serious relationship vs. not). Maybe the advice would be clearer as “If he were looking for what you are looking for, you would know it at this point.” It’s advice to help people avoid wasting time with someone who doesn’t want the same thing they want.

      (I’m using the male framing because that was what your original post said but this dynamic can play out no matter the gender of the people. Like, Ted from How I Met Your Mother should really have taken the “She’s just not looking for what you’re looking for” message to heart about Robin though of course then there would be no show.)

    19. Filosofickle*

      I’ve been thinking about this lately! I have been a believer in it, but with a late life diagnosis of AuDHD I have a fuller understanding of my executive function / anxiety / spoons and the ways in which I can’t always do things I actually want to. So I see why this idea could be wrong-headed. But I think in the end I’m going to stick with it as I begin dating again — it has pulled me out of spin cycles where I’m questioning myself and making excuses for mixed signals. I am prone to holding onto that little glimmer of hope, and that is very unhealthy for me. Regardless of their intent, if the impact is I’m confused where I stand or not getting basic needs met, then I need to exit.

      And maybe that means I’ll miss the one person who really is into me but has a legit blocker in the way. But it’s way way more likely they’re just not that into me, and it’s healthier for me to favor that.

    20. Budgie Buddy*

      I mean, I saw the Remains of the Day as being about how it’s impossible to express your feelings when you’re so repressed that even the suggestion that you might have them is an insult – but ymmv (that and the decay of the British aristocracy)

    21. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I have not dated a huge amount, but even in that time I’ve been able to pretty clearly tell the difference between “shy” and “not feeling it” after 2-3 dates.

      But beyond that, there’s a reason I really don’t like a lot of the YA genre, and it’s because I feel like it perpetuates the idea that one should communicate one’s romantic interest in gestures, expressions, gifts, sighs, and general anything but words, leaving to passionate love triangles and torn hearts. And that’s all lovely and fun to read but in practice is super exhausting and annoying. So – if someone tells me “look, I like hanging out with you, but my dad just died and I have finals, can we please take 2 weeks for me to try and put myself together” that’s one thing. Or even “I’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now, so sorry if im Grouchy, I’ll try and snap out of it”. But if they just start cancelling dates, not texting, seeming super tired/sad/irritated all at once? I have no way of knowing what those signals are saying beyond “I’m not interesting in being with you right now” and without some additional communication I’m not really interested in putting on my translation hat to figure out which interpretation it really is. Obviously this depends on the relationship – the way I’d approach this with a spouse of five years would look very different from that with a boyfriend of a month – but ultimately someone who is sending mixed signals and making no effort to clarify them is Not For Me. Both because they may not be in to me but also because at that point I am not into them.

    22. Unkempt Flatware*

      Disagree. Mixed signals are a sign to bail no matter what the reason may be. We simply don’t need to be confused or unsure by some sort of default. It really is this simple: if someone wants to be with you, they will make it so.

  5. Moving In*

    Any advice for moving in with a partner/things you wish you had started early in a domestic partnership to make things run smoother? Moved into a new place a week ago and still getting unpacked and settled but want to get some intentional routines going before we get too settled into a random routine.

    1. To infinity and beyond*

      Two things come to mind:

      – Having some financial arrangement worked out that makes it easy to share or split variable expenses. For us, it was a shared credit card that we paid off porportional to our income. Got rid of the “you pay this time, I pay next time” mess which caused a ton of tension at first

      – For division of labour, the best advice I ever got was “aim for equal free time” rather than equal work/productivity/etc. This especially applies with kids on the mix but is applicable to running a household of any kind. It is a way better way of framing things that puts domestic and out-of-the-house work on the same plane, which is important since domestic work is so often overlooked.

      Other than that…stay flexible and communicate!! :) Not everything works for everyone (we realized meal plannjng was not our thing for example, so my spouse just goes after work to buy whatever in on the discount expiring today shelf – not what everyone does but works for us)

      1. SBT*

        I’m not sure how I feel about “aim for equal free time”. I think this can work for a lot of couples, but I’m thinking of a few friends in my life where they’ve achieved this, and yet there is still a lot of tension in the division of responsibilities. I think where I see this not playing out well is in couples where one spouse is more of a workaholic, will intentionally work harder/longer hours, or won’t establish boundaries with their workplaces. Oftentimes, they’re doing this to AVOID going home where they’ll be responsible for taking care of kids, cooking, etc. because they find their work more fun.

        Agreed that this approach puts domestic work and employment work on the same playing field and is a helpful lens, provided both people are aiming to have free time and one isn’t actively avoiding the domestic work with work.

        1. Purple Wombat*

          I agree, it wouldn’t work for me either. I’ve deliberately made career choices to ensure that my work hours are limited and I have plenty of free time. (Including enough time to sleep 9 hours a night, which is what my body requires.) I wouldn’t be okay with a partner expecting me to do extra chores to “make up” for that.

          1. ThatGirl*

            But would you be ok with your partner doing less? It’s not really about bean counting, it’s about making sure the household’s needs are met as well as the individuals’.

        2. Malarkey01*

          Oh I don’t think about it in terms of work/job. I think of it in terms of we’re both going to do 3 hours of chore time this Saturday. For my husband cutting the grass (and the trimming etc that goes with it) takes 3 hours. In the same time I do laundry, vacuum everything, dust, do all the dishes, clean the bathroom, empty the trash cans, and usually do a “special project” like clean out a closet, heavy clean something, etc.

          On paper I’m doing a TON more and used to get a little resentful thinking of ALL I did compared to him having one task….but then I realized that we were spending the same time so it wasn’t # of tasks but time that we should focus on. This happened SO much when we had kids and the baby stuff disrupted everything again.

    2. Just here for the scripts*

      Things that kept us together—even through the bumpy times:
      1. Treat the other the way you want to be treated—don’t copy and reinforce behaviors and actions that you don’t like/want.
      2. Kiss each other goodbye and hello when you leave for work/come home
      3. Make meals with each other a priority
      4. Talk through what process and habits you want to develop for things like chores, bill payments, savings, vacations, etc.

    3. Poly Anna*

      – Have some sort of joint account for rent and utilities and pay into it proportionally to your income. If at all possible, also have a savings account for when a big expense shows up (car, fridge etc.) Keep control of your own finances otherwise, so the big bills are paid but nobody’s throwing your small luxury habits in your face whenever there’s a financial heated difference of opinion.

      – Go over chores and tasks you already do, first for yourself and then together. What does ‘clean’ mean to you, and ‘tidy’? What do you want/hate to do? Evenly divide the ones you both hate or see if you can pay or barter to have someone else help. Use a chore deck or pieces of paper if you need a visual tally of who does the most.

      – be realistic about what will work for you. I have ADHD and I can’t have a completely spotless house, but by setting priorities I make sure it’s functional and sanitary

    4. ghost_cat*

      Agree on whether dishes need to be rinsed before going into the dishwasher. And whether tomato sauce belongs in the fridge.

        1. beep beep*

          (store-bought) eggs belong in the fridge in the US, which processes them to remove a coating on the outside that protects them from going bad. If you have your own chickens or aren’t in the US, they’re fine on your counter.

    5. Lizabeth*

      Laundry – each does their own.
      Whomever cooks the other cleans up.
      Get a cleaning service for the place if you can. It will save a LOT of arguments. (Ask me how I know…)

    6. Catherine*

      Separate duvets! Stop the fight over which of you has selfish burrito tendencies before it can start.

      1. allathian*

        Separate bedrooms also work. This is crucial if your sleep schedules are very different because of work or different circadian rhythms. Both partners deserve to sleep well.

    7. Still*

      Figure out which chores you hate and which you don’t mind, and split accordingly.

      Whenever you end up doing some little thing that you might sort of resent – like picking up your partner’s stray dishes or making them a cup of tea even though really you just wanted coffee for yourself – remind yourself that it’s an act of love and care. Everyday love is making a hundred thousand cups of tea.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Figure out what you both need to sleep healthy – I’m a light sleeper morning person who wants to sleep warm and my husband is a snoring night owl who wants it freezing, so after seven-plus years of bad sleep that was starting to impact my mental health he finally got diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and got a CPAP, which helped the snoring, but ultimately we ended up with separate bedrooms because of the multitude of differences and I literally have been sleeping the best I have in ten years. This is not a failure or a judgement on the relationship, it is your health. That’s okay.

      And that’s my real advice – don’t listen to what anyone tells you you have to do :) figure out what works for you guys and roll with it. We’ve been married for six years this year and keep separate finances, we just opened our first joint checking account last month and it’s only so he can transfer me money for his share of the bills quicker, it never has more than a dollar in for a couple of minutes. My parents haven’t had their own separate accounts on anything for 45 years. These are both fine, because that’s what works for us.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yes on the separate rooms! My spouse and I are both introverts, so we need our own space to recharge. Plus I’m a very mobile sleeper, as well as using a CPAP, so both of us sleep better when we’re not in the same bed.

        I’ve run households of roommates for decades. The one thing I do that makes things work is have a separate account for household bills. The roommates deposit their share into that account, and the household expenses are paid out of it. I used to have all of us on the account, but with people on disability it became a problem (“Just pay your rent out of this big account you have access to!”, “No, that’s the account I have to pay my rent into, it’s not mine.”, “But your name is on it therefore you can spend it …”) So now it’s just my spouse and I on the joint account, and people just deposit their share into it.

        But even if it was just my spouse and I, we’d still do the “Yours, mine and ours” finances. Yes, we talk to each other about personal expenditures if they are large, just as a sanity check. But we also discuss large household purchases (as opposed to bills) out of the joint account. That way no one gets blindsided.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      There is a very strong tendency to come to specialize in specific chores, rather than split 50/50. It’s efficient. There’s nothing wrong with that. But think about the chore divisions you’re setting up, and if you’re happy with those vs just falling into them.

      A less obvious aspect: When you agree that one person will do something 90% of the time, it’s very easy for that to slide to 99% of the time. To the person not doing the job, that feels like your partner just maybe has a 10% bump up, no biggie. To the person doing the job, that feels like 90% of the time that they were supposed to NOT be stuck with this chore, they somehow get stuck with it anyhow. “The person who is home more will walk the dog the other person really wants to get” is a common example.

      1. Seahorse*

        Yes, this is good. We used to have an agreement that whoever didn’t cook would do dishes. That turned into my partner cooking 75% of the time and me doing dishes 100% of the time. We eventually had to renegotiate how we handled food.

        To answer the original question, I wish I’d set up a better exercise routine earlier in the relationship. This may be a me issue and not a wider thing, but a lot changed schedule-wise when we moved in together, and I’ve never managed to get that element back on track.

    10. Pieforbreakfast*

      Discuss guests and expectations around overnight visitors. I come from a “if you need a place you’re always welcome no questions” and my partner is very much “only rarely and for very limited time with a lot of warning”. It has taken some time but we’re finally in a ok place about this.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        We started out as “I don’t think we even have keys for the doors, people just come over whenever, the more the merrier” (him) and “The hell you say, the door automatically locks itself 60 seconds after it’s unlocked and I don’t even answer the door to my parents if they didn’t tell me they were coming” (me). He actually mostly came around to my way of thinking over the years – he still likes more company than I do, but he definitely prefers to know they’re coming now than to have them just show up. (My husband and I are definitely the epitome of “opposites attract.” Most of the time I’m not quite sure how we ended up together either.)

  6. Dovasary Balitang*

    As someone who has given up on successfully dating as an asexual person, would it be weird if I spent an afternoon at a low-stakes bridal shop just… trying on a few wedding dresses? (It wouldn’t be an appointment-only place where I’d take away from actual paying customers.) I just love wedding dresses so much and this will probably be my only chance to put one on! Tell I’m not weird, friendly anons. Or tell me that I am, that’s okay too.

    1. Vanessa*

      Do it! Would it be weird to make a thing of it. Bring a supportive friend. Get the customary snapshots. Go out to lunch after. Have a fun time.

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      Do it. Not weird. But if it was, oh well. Be ready for questions from staff. Marrying my fifth grade crush at the dog park next Wednesday. My Sherpa girlfriend in Tibet. She’s designing a side saddle for our yak so I can wear a really big skirt. Have a blast!

    3. Gyne*

      Who cares if it’s “weird?” If you want to do it, do it. (I also don’t think it’s weird!) Go to David’s Bridal, try on EVERYTHING. It’ll be therapeutic.

      For additional fun, go thrift storing and buy a thrift store wedding dress. Bonus if your friend gets one too.

    4. Jessica*

      Absolutely not intending this in any mean way, but as an asexual person, you’re already Officially Weird inasmuch as you’re a minority in society, so let that set you free to do whatever the hell you want (that doesn’t harm others)! It was thoughtful of you to consider not blocking a shop’s opportunity to actually sell stuff, but if there are places where you can just go DIY try-on, then why not have at it!

      Do you just like the fashion/look, or is this connected to old wedding fantasies where you like the idea of the ceremony/party but have realized it’s connected to a thing in life you actually don’t wish to do? If it’s the former, what if you: bought one or more wedding dresses and wore them whenever you felt like it; sought out fashions that had a wedding-dressy aesthetic that you’d like; bought a wedding dress and altered/modified it into a dressy-occasion garment you’d love that wouldn’t actually quite have bystanders instinctively ducking the rice at the sight of you? Miss Havisham meets Pretty in Pink, why not.

      1. TakingNotes*

        I was thinking the same thing: maybe you’d like to actually buy a wedding dress for yourself? That would take care of the concern about staff time! I know very little about wedding dress shopping, but if your dating journey (and not, say, expense) is the only thing keeping you from acquiring something you’ve always wanted, you could decide to buy one to celebrate yourself! Marie Kondo had a lovely bit about wearing a beloved elaborate dance costume while lounging around the house alone on weekends, if I recall correctly.

    5. Poly Anna*

      Bridal shops do dislike people who are just funshopping and can be nasty about it. Do you have any thrift stores that sell wedding dresses near you? My local big thrift store usually has one or two kicking about and is a bit more relaxed about casual shoppers. They are just as likely to sell one to a bride to be as to a theatre costumer or an arty/crafty type who just wants the materials.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Actually I wonder if OP could call the store and request to pay for an hour of the sales clerk’s time, or whatever, on the understand that she’s not going to buy a dress. I would honestly rather pay money and not have to feel guilty than have to do a downgraded suggestion like trying on the one wedding dress at a thrift store.

    6. Stitch*

      I’m going to go against the crowd here and advise you not do this. Bridal store employees very often work on commission/bonuses. Meaning time spent with someone who isn’t serious about actually buying a dress can be an opportunity cost for them to work with someone who will bring in actual money for them. It’s kind of like going to a restaurant and just drinking a bunch of water, the waiter is still serving you but isn’t getting a tip from your table.

      The shop employee is doing real work too, pulling dresses and helping you get dressed. So if you go to a fancy place you are expecting a pretty involved amount of labor for free.

      I would go with some of the other suggestions, try thrift stores, for instance, where commission wouldn’t be an issue and the employees don’t do as much. If you do decide to do this, minimize potential financial cost to the employee and go at the absolute deadest time, like a Tuesday morning or something.

      1. Sloanicota*

        One alternative, if thrift store doesn’t sound like the fun experience OP is going for, might be to go to a nicer department store with a big formal wear section and try on those dresses, unless it’s specifically only white ones you’re interested in. I used to do this with friends when I was younger (we needed dresses for formal dances, but we didn’t need ones nearly as fancy as the ones we tried on). Because there’s usually not an attendant working with you, and they’re not paid on commission, the staff should be less annoyed. I too have wished to try on bridal or bridal-like dresses but have always been too worried about hacking off the staff.

        1. BadCultureFit*

          I bought my wedding dress off the rack at Lord & Taylor and was just going to recommend this! Especially now, springtime (at least here in the US), there are lots of white and light-colored dresses, and many of them can feel quite wedding-y.

      2. Scout*

        Agree with this. Also, many wedding dresses are impossible to get in and out of by yourself, so even though you intend to do it on your you might not be able to.

        1. Stitch*

          Wedding dresses specifically also often need specific undergarments to work as well. My wedding dress was not particularly expensive and the place I bought it from also sold prom gowns, but the attendant showed me how specific undergarments and skirt textures affected the dress and helped pin the dress for sizing.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Oh good point, I forgot from my sister’s wedding that the wedding dresses on the rack are often large sizes that they “clip” so you can see the effect, sparing them the effort of having to keep a wide range of sizes in stock, since the idea is you’ll order one to be made in your size if you buy. So you really would probably need the attendant’s help.

      3. WellRed*

        This please. If you insist on doing this, be mindful of the work you are creating for an employee.

      4. anxiousGrad*

        Agreed. When I was in Hebrew school we learned that it’s wrong to go into a store knowing that you have no intention to buy anything there (there’s a good explanation of the Jewish perspective on that here: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3227508/jewish/May-I-Shop-in-a-Store-and-Then-Purchase-for-Cheaper-Online.htm). I think this is a good concept to follow regardless of religious beliefs. Maybe if you call the store in advance, though, you could work something out. I just think it’s important to be upfront with the store that they’re not going to make a sale off of you before you take up their time.

      5. T.N.H.*

        If you live in a big city try wedding dress sample sales. Also Macy’s has wedding dresses now and you aren’t inconveniencing anyone there. You do need to bring someone though as you cannot get into the average wedding dress by yourself.

    7. Dovasary Balitang*

      Thank you for all the encouragement and suggestions! I’ll go the thrift store route if this urge doesn’t pass.

      1. Jackalope*

        I don’t know if this is an option in your area or not, but my city has a thrift shop specifically for wedding dresses – brides who don’t want to keep their wedding dresses donate them, and the profits are donated to various charities benefiting women. If you happen to live in an area with something similar, you could try that. The nice thing is that it’s basically similar to other stores in the amount of work you ask of the person working there. I went there when I was planning my wedding, and the only thing the shop clerk had to do was unlock a fitting room for me and then take a couple of pictures of me in different dresses (I went by myself that day since I was just getting a feel for what was out there). Like with any thrift store it is of course WYSIWYG; if you find one you like in the wrong size you can’t just order the next size up or down. But on the other hand, the prices were low enough ($200-400 from what I remember) that if you really liked one you could buy it (as opposed to the thousands of dollars you’d spend on a new dress in many stores).

    8. katertot*

      I bought a wedding dress last year… depending on where you’re located, it seems like there’s a few stores that have implemented a fee for an appointment. Maybe try and find a shop that does that so you don’t feel weird about not buying something? I also found a huge variety of approaches… the more inclusive shops were more fun overall; higher end, stuffier shops = less fun (IMO.)

    9. Qwerty*

      Do you have a prom dress store that also sells bridal dresses like GroupUSA? I remember that store being self-serve fitting rooms even for their small bridal department when my friends were getting married 10yrs ago. Not sure if that store is even still around.

      White and metallic dresses come into fashion for prom regularly, so trying on those could be a back up plan.

      I don’t think you are weird, it’s fun to put on a beautiful gown! Sounds like logistics are just the issue since bridal shops work on commission and pay so much personal attention to customers.

    10. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      You might be weird, but not because of this impulse! It sounds like a lot of fun.

      I tried some on before getting married, in front of my now-husband. We were walking to go get some food and passed the most amazing dress in a store front, looked at each other and went right in. It fit like it was made for me! He took a video of me in it and I made plans to get it and then he got notified about a short-notice deployment, so we ended up not having a fancy wedding (which I was genuinely relieved about) and so having that video was a lot of fun to look at.

      I hope you can have that same fun feeling.

    11. fgcommenter*

      Weird as in unusual? Yes, but so what? Weird as in wrong, no.

      The other comments about not wasting the time of someone who works on commission are valid, so how about having an unofficial marriage to yourself? *You* will be the guiding light that illuminates your path; *You* will tenderly maintain hearth and home for your comfort; *You* will be the rock you need when the world is buffeting you, and so on for all the other roles and contributions discussed in a wedding ceremony. It can be an incredibly empowering and self-actualizing experience, that you can, and you will, give yourself your total love and support.

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

      I don’t actually know how affordable Rent the Runway or something similar would be, but it would certainly avert the possible ethical quandaries of making extra work for store employees that other commenters have raised. But to answer your original question, I absolutely think you should find some way to enjoy some pretty dresses! This is such a wholesome and achievable life goal, why NOT?

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Adorable! Is there a cat reason he picked Uptown Girl for the soundtrack? Or he just likes it?

          1. MCL*

            Hahaha I love it. We of course adapt 80s song lyrics to sing little theme songs for our kitties. Love the video.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Speaking of classy cats, Catcerto on YouTube is an old video of a piano playing cat and the concerto that was written for her. I only recently discovered it.

          1. English Rose*

            Thank you Pennyworth, I have just gone to YouTube and watched Catcerto. My Saturday is complete! Love it.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Alison, your house looks like cat heaven!! I need to get more things for my little gal to perch on and survey her domain

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        My husband is constantly moving cat furniture around because he says they are excited by the changes (they do seem to be) and also sometimes clumps it all together in the center of rooms to build them entire cat stand cities, so it is a less prominent feature in our house than it probably appears in these videos! (With the exception of the basement, where there is in fact a permanent cat stand city.)

      1. 653-CXK*

        I just realized that I made an error when I hit “Submit” – when I saw the video of the cat on the YouTube screen, I reached out and pat its head (not physically, but on my computer screen). My apologies if people read the statement wrong.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      Love the video! Shared it with a close relative. I generally don’t have time for a weekend discussions, but I’ve gotten in the habit of looking at your cat photo every weekend, and this is a real treat on a day I woke up with a headache! <3 Now I feel more able to go get groceries. :)

    3. Generic Name*

      We have the same banana cat toy. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s filled with catnip. My mom gave it (wrapped) to my cats for Christmas, but one cat found it early. One morning we woke up and there was a yellow banana in the middle off the floor that nobody recognized.

    4. Autumn*

      Aww she has a ripple rug! Our young cat loves that thing, it is constantly entertaining (to her – our older cats, sadly gone, were not interested in the least).

      1. MCL*

        That’s actually good to know. We have a very curious and energetic young tortie and a world weary elderly tabby. Trying to keep the tortie entertained is quite a feat.

  7. Bluebell*

    Lessons in Chemistry fans- has anyone seen the trailer for the new series on Apple TV? What did you think?

    1. Elle*

      It looks exactly how I pictured everyone to look, so that’s good. It’s not out until the fall.

    2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I loved the book, but I’m not sure I could handle all that emotion again, so not sure if I’ll watch the series. But it does look good!

  8. Red Sunglasses*

    Read the book or watch the TV show/movie first? I’ve always been a read the book first but I’m starting to learn towards trying watching the TV show/Movie first.

    I’m a huge reader so I’ve always made it a point to read a book first since the TV show or movie rarely lives up to the book…but I’ve realized maybe I should consider the other way around in that vein. If I read the book first, it seems always ruin the movie for me. But if I watch the movie first, it seems more likely it will be reasonably enough different and the book will be so considerably better that watching the TV show/movie first won’t ruin the book.

    I’m curious if anyone other readers who also love TV/movie is strict about the order of this or not and if they’ve varied – and of course what they’ve found is the preferable method.

    1. Bluebell*

      I usually do tv/movie then book because it’s less disappointing. But lately I’ve started watching Will Trent after reading the books, and I’ve just dealt with it by deciding it’s a whole different universe. I like the TV series but it’s completely different.

      1. EdgarAllenCat*

        Completely agree. Angie on TV is so so so different than the books. Found it weird to reconcile the two Angies before coming to the same conclusion as you.

        TBH, would love to see destructive Angie blow through Will’s life on a show. Think it would make great TV but would be a completely different show & on a different streaming service.

        Have no clue whether Sara Linton will be introduced either.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I never liked the conventional practice of reading the book first, because books often have such deep detail or background that gets left out of a movie, the movie rarely adds new material, so I found myself disappointed by doing it the conventional way, and pleasantly surprised by reading the book after watching the movie. So now I strongly prefer to watch the movie first. Also, if I get a feeling for what a character or setting looks like when reading a book and the film looks very different, I find it hard to get into the movie, but if I see it on film first that’s (usually, mostly) how I see it in my head when I read the book(s).

      1. PhyllisB*

        That’s actually good advice!! I’ve always been in the read the book first camp, but it can be disappointing when movie isn’t how you pictured. From now on I’ll try to see movie first. The only movie I’ve seen that matched the book was Gone With the Wind. It wasn’t 100% of course, but the closest I’ve ever seen.

      2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        This even happened with “2001: A Space Odyssey”, where Clarke wrote the book and the screenplay in parallel.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I think usually if I see the show first I don’t actually ever read the book! This happens a lot with ones I didn’t know were based on the book, so much later I’m like “oh, there’s a book of that?” Generally either the show was bad enough I don’t want to read the book, or good enough I don’t feel the need to.

      Only exception I can think of is LOTR, where I loved the movies first then tried the books and wasn’t into them. Also Ella Enchanted, where I saw the movie first and was amazed how different the book was. Didn’t know you could retroactively be mad at how a movie butchered a book but apparently you can (I do actually enjoy how cheesy the movie is, but OOF they messed up the ending).

      I do see a lot of movies because they’re based on books I read, with varied results. I don’t feel like one ever “ruins” the other because I think of them as two different entities.

      1. Stitch*

        I couldn’t get through Shadow and Bone (book Alina drive me nuts) but the TV version convinced me to give Six of Crows a try.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          With Shadow and Bone, I started watching that just as I was coming to the end of the third Alina book, but hadn’t read any Six of Crows, so when those characters were on screen I was thinking “Who are these guys?” I did get more into those characters after having started reading Six of Crows (about three quarters of the way through the second book right now, and I would say I prefer the Six of Crows books to the Shadow and Bone ones. I get the impression quite a few people do.)

    4. RagingADHD*

      I prefer to watch first. Then read reviews from book fans to see how it is different. Then read the book.

    5. Long A*

      I watched Queen’s Gambit and then read the book and enjoyed that approach there! Normally I’ve used the alternate approach. Next up is Fleischman is in Trouble, we’ll see how that goes!

    6. anon for this*

      I have the boring conventional answer, which is that I don’t like seeing any adaptations first. If I read the book earlier, I end up with two enjoyably distinct versions of the same story in my brain, and I always find it fascinating to do a compare and contrast study. If I see the movie/show first, I’ll be reading the book later and automatically casting the actors in those roles, and visualizing the settings the same way, and so on. That feels really limited.

      1. LG*

        I agree with you. My visions of the characters in a book rarely match up with how they’re cast in the film or TV show. If I saw the show first, I wouldn’t be able to overcome the casting choices already made.

      2. Gyne*

        Totally agree. I feel like my experience with a movie taints the book and I can’t “fully” enjoy it.

    7. Pippa K*

      I have a T-shirt that says “Movies: ruining the book since 1920” :-) But people are making a good point about watching the movie first as a way to avoid disappointment when it doesn’t visually correspond to what you’ve imagined from the text, so maybe I’ll try that.

        1. Technically correct*

          Good question, the first film adaptations of books came out well before the 1920s

          1. Pippa K*

            Fair point – maybe the shirt designer thought all the pre-1920 book adaptations were quite good, but I suspect they just chose an early date without regard to strict accuracy.

            1. Mica*

              Petty reason: Looking at a list of 1920 releases someone might really have hated the adaptation of either Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Last of the Mohicans, or one of the two Tarzan sequels.

              Lazy reason: like you said, no particular reason.

              Well-researched reason: RagingADHD’s version because that is interesting!

        2. RagingADHD*

          Probably because it was around the time many small studios started to merge into large conglomerates. Specifically in 1920, what would become MGM was merged / acquired by a theater exhibitor, creating the vertical distribution model.

    8. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I watch the movie first if I’m getting a sense that I may not get round to read the book quickly. Sometimes, I’ll get enough of a taste for the story that I’ll be ok deprioritising the book and focusing on others on my very long list. Sometimes, I’ll straight out say “let’s watch this movie so I won’t have to read the book” if it’s a book I’m on the fence about (very mixed or negative reviews, too long for the time and focus I have, and so on).

      Other than that, I’m a read the book first person, because I love reading more than watching stuff. My partner, the film buff, managed to convince me that two versions are two entirely different things built with different approaches and constraints, so it’s been years since I’ve had one of the frustrating “but the book was SO MUCH BETTER!” moments I used to have growing up.

      1. Seahorse*

        In college, I took an English class about film adaptations, and that changed my whole view. I used to be quite the book purist, which was not pleasant for anyone watching movies with me…

        Films cater to potentially separate audiences, often favor different messages or subplots, and are presented in a completely new medium. Of course they won’t match the book – they’re not supposed to. A good* adaptation brings something new rather than just making an audio-visual reel of a book.

        *Many of the YA adaptations over the last 10ish years do feel like adaptation cash grabs vs. thoughtful filmmaking to me

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          The first movie I thought of with this question was Hunger Games! I think with the first one they did a great job with what you described, adapting from a first person limited narrative to showing some of the things happening outside the arena with Seneca Crane and Haymitch or the other districts. But then they went the “let’s unnecessarily make the last book into two movies” route for the cash grab :(

          And yeah, with HP I find the earlier ones boring because they’re so directly book-to-screen and then the later ones are so rushed you would miss some important developments if you haven’t read the books.

    9. Decidedly Me*

      Definitely book first if I have any interest in the book! However, I put distance between reading and watching so I’m less annoyed at changes.

    10. The Prettiest Curse*

      It depends on how much I want to read the book. If I do read the book first, I’ll want to watch the film/TV adaptation pretty soon after reading the book (if possible) so it’s all fresh in my mind. I really like to see what changes have been made in the process of adaptation, because it’s so difficult to adapt books successfully.

    11. Stitch*

      It really depends. For instance, I actually watched the first season of Game of Thrones, then read the books. I actually probably wouldn’t have finished the books without watching part of the show first, as GRRM’s writing style isn’t one I usually favor.

      There are some books that I definitely wouldn’t recommend someone read before seeing the movie (The Godfather comes to mind, the book has some just bizarre side plots).

      I actually had pointed out to me, though, that some series almost assume you already know the books and might skip over some details (like the Harry Potter movies).

      It’s an incredibly mixed bag. I definitely don’t fall into the camp that you must always read the book first.

    12. English Rose*

      It depends. I watched the whole series of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries ages ago, and am only now reading the books it was based on by Kerry Greenwood, which are just as much fun.

      I have found that when the movie/TV series is too heavily adapted, or cut too short, it is frustrating. But then often scriptwriters know what they’re doing. I remember the furore when Peter Jackson’s first LOTR film completely missed the Tom Bombadil storyline, but actually that was the right creative decision in the end.

      1. Stitch*

        yes, Tom Bombadil is an absolute narrative stopper. Fine in a book completely unworkable in a movie.

        People also forget that it’s literally decades between the along Expected Party and Frodo leaving the Shire. The books start really slowly.

      2. DefinitiveAnn*

        I almost didn’t finish LOTR because of the first book and the whole Tom Bombadil thing. Pages and pages of singing about himself…Lawd. I read the books again after watching the movie and I skipped the singing but read that piece of the story. It landed differently at 55 than it did at 15.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I usually read the book first because if I don’t like it it’s taken less of my time. (Username checks out.)

    14. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I think watching first then reading is most often less disappointing than the other way around. The book is usually better in some way (more details, additional characters, subplots, etc.), and if you know all that stuff going into the movie you are sometimes waiting for “that thing” to happen, but it got left out of the script. Sometimes reading after just builds on the enjoyment; I felt that way about “The Martian” (actually, I didn’t know there was a book before I saw the movie).

    15. CTT*

      It really depends for me – if I’m independently interested in the book, I’ll read it first, but I’m not going to force myself to speed through something so I can get to the adaptation.

      I also don’t think that books are automatically going to be “considerably better” than the movies like you do. I think there have been some really great adaptations out there. The Virgin Suicides adaptation is the first that leaps to mind – it definitely makes some changes from the book, but they’re ones that work for the movie while still understanding/carrying forward the themes of the book. I also liked Women Talking the book, but the movie’s use of flashbacks was very powerful to me. Sometimes very literally showing and not telling can be more effective.

      I also started reading Dune after I saw the movie, and I’m really glad I did because I was literally on the edge of my seat during the Arrakis attack, and knowing how it ended would have made it less suspenseful for me. I’m actually stopping reading the book once I get to where the first movie ended because I want to preserve that sense of surprise for the second movie (also, I will not finish it before November when the movie comes out because Herbert’s writing style is not my jam and it has been slow-going).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you like the Dune universe, his son Brian (along with another guy, Kevin Anderson I think) has written a lot in the universe that is infinitely more readable than Frank Herbert’s books (which just get weirder as you go). There’s several trilogies of history, both close to the Dune events (the previous generation basically, Duke Leto and Lady Jessica and the Baron and how all the feuds started) and much farther back – I LOVED the trilogy about the Butlerian Jihad, which goes all the way back to why they have opposition to machines and AI but also you can see where some of the “modern” organizations and groups got started 2000 years before the time of Dune.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      Mostly I do only one or the other, but not both. If the story was really satisfying, I don’t need a different version. If it wasn’t satisfying, I’m not keen to try a different version. Though strong positive reviews/recommendations can shift that baseline.

      For satisfying adaptations between the two, I’ve come to think that movies should draw from short stories or novellas (like Arrival) and TV series from books, one book/season (like His Dark Materials).

    17. Amey*

      Like others, it depends on how much I’m interested in reading the book. I’m a big reader and have strong feelings about many adaptations (2005 P&P is still a rant of mine) but I think I’m about 50/50 in terms of which way round I do things. Although I rarely read the book if I’ve seen the film/show first. I was also someone who read the remaining Game of Thrones books after watching Season 1, and actually did this with LOTR when I was a teen now that I think of it. As a recent example, I read the whole Lockwood & Co YA series from the beginning after watching the recent Netflix adaptation of the first two books.

      One example in reverse was reading Remains of the Day years after seeing the film. (Both great.) Generally, I think I need that kind of gap.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I did my English thesis on P&P with a film studies professor so we watched like every adaptation ever made. 2005 is the only one I straight up dislike.

    18. WellRed*

      Read the book first. If I watch the movie first, I’m highly disinclined to read the book but not the other way around.

    19. Person from the Resume*

      Generally I’m a read the book first person. Most recently I read the book because of the movie and then never watched the movie because I didn’t like the book enough. Example: Good Morning, Midnight by Brooks-Dalton becoming George Clooney film The Midnight Sky (2020). Read the book never watched the film.

      I’m reconsidering this habit for The Power by Naomi Alderman cause I saw one review that says the series is better about queerness than the book which was fairly heteronormative. OTOH the book has been on my to read list forever and I also have a string of series to stream so I may never actually make a decision on this.

      1. Double A*

        I’m kind of a minority but I did not think The Power was a very well done book though it has a fascinating premise. I think they could explore the idea much more interestingly in a long form TV show. I would totally watch that.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah it wasn’t great. I’ve been avoiding the show specifically because of the book! I just remember it got to a point where the author was basically going “get it? get it? the genders are SWITCHED because social commentary” lol

    20. Sheraton St Louis*

      I usually want to experience the original version first. But I have to admit that, had I read the books first, the Jim Carrey Lemony Snicket movie wouldn’t have been nearly as fun! The changes they had to make to cram 3 books into one movie, and all the other little changes, would have infuriated my book-purist self had I read them first.

      So I think it depends on the adaptation.

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        Completely off topic, but I saw your name and wondered if you were a fan of the comic strip “Luann”?

    21. ecnaseener*

      Counterexample to the “if the book’s better then watching the movie first shouldn’t ruin the book” point, albeit with a stage musical rather than a movie: everyone I know who has read Wicked after seeing the show has been disappointed in the book. (Whereas I read the book first and I love them both, but if I had to choose, I prefer the book.) The musical is not a faithful adaptation of the book at all, but it’s a very good story in its own right, so it doesn’t matter that the book came first – people have that same experience of hoping for more of the story they love and being disappointed.

      That said, for closer adaptations I think it can work to watch before reading. Like with Jane Austen, it’s often helpful to understand the story via movie or TV before you delve into the book, so you can focus on the humor of the narration instead of on following the story.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      I prefer to read the book first but that’s not always how it goes. Sometimes I can’t get hold of it before I have a chance to watch the movie or TV show, so in that case, I’ll watch first.

    23. GoryDetails*

      Re book-first vs. screen adaptation first: I read so much that at this point I’ve usually already read the book by the time a screen adaptation comes out – though sometimes I’ll see a show or film that I hadn’t known was inspired by a book at all. I don’t have a strong preference either way, though I have known instances where reading the book first made me like the movie a lot less than if I’d gone into it with no expectations, and also where seeing the movie first made me love that story, only to find that the inspiring novel was… very, very different. [Not necessarily bad, but different; “The Bishop’s Wife,” I’m looking at you. Yes, there was a novel. It’s quite a bit darker than the sparkling Cary Grant/David Niven/Loretta Young film.]

    24. marvin*

      I’m strictly read the book first. I like books more than movies in general, and books take so much more time that I don’t want to spoil any surprises or first impressions on the movie. Usually what I get out of the movie is seeing someone’s visual interpretation of the characters and settings, but I might end up skipping it completely.

    25. Anono-me*

      Movie first, book second. The movie almost never lives up to the book. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, LOTR, and ‘The Outsiders’ are the only exceptions that I can think of now.

      One of my pet peeves of the movie not following the book is ‘The Prince of Tides’ which cut out the title character.

    26. Double A*

      Not strict at all. I’ve had several experience where watching the movie/TV show has made me curious to read the book and I’ve enjoyed the book on its own terms!

    27. DefinitiveAnn*

      I saw the Murder in Provence TV series (just 3 episodes) before I read any of the books. I loved the show, so I read the books. The TV series was excellent, and the books (especially the later ones, not yet on TV) were not as good. At some point I just stopped, because the books had plots the size of a pamphlet, padded out by menus and descriptions of food and literally five pages describing problems driving from Aix to Marseilles.

      All this to say that I am not at all strict about the order, and sometimes the TV show will lead me to the books.

    28. Qwerty*

      It depends on which one caught my eye first.

      If there’s a book I want to read and I discover it has been made into a movie or show, then the movie is my treat at the end. This tends to apply to older books like the Classics.

      If a movie/series catches my eye, it usually due to an actor, director, or some element in how it is advertised. Basically it is about their artistic presentation rather than the raw story itself. If I finish the series and still like it, I might read the book later.

      This has worked pretty well for me. Sometimes great shows can be made out of books that I did not like (Wicked, Devil Wears Prada) – if I had read the book first I would have never watched the musical / movie. Modern adaptations sometimes bring the author on board for updating the story – there was an interview with the author from Shadow and Bone where she criticizes her first book as being a new inexperienced author and gushes about the major changes made to the storyline.

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

      It depends. I think I’m happiest when I let go of expectations that they’ll be very similar.

      At first, I was a little salty that the BBC/French *Around the World in Eighty Days* was straying so far from the book, which I had just read, but actually, it turned out to be great — just different.

      And I kind of liked how the *Bridget Jones* films dealt with the fact that Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are in the books by actually casting them, though not as themselves. The failed Colin Firth interview in *Edge of Reason* is !@#$@#ing hilarious, but it wouldn’t have been on screen, so it was much better to have him play a major character instead.

  9. Alex*

    What is your threshold for refusing to return to a favorite business after a bad experience?

    I just had a very negative experience at a take-out restaurant that is one of my favorite places. I ordered something on an app, and when I got there, they claimed that someone had already picked it up. Not only that, but they then implied that I was trying to steal from them by pretending I hadn’t picked up my order yet and that I was in cahoots with the person they believed had picked up my order. They refused to give me my order. They refused to look at the order on my phone. They told me to contact the app company. They were so rude to me! I couldn’t believe it. I order from them a couple of times a month.

    So now I feel like I have to stop going there because of this experience…but….UGH. I really like the place! And it is right on my way home from work and the other places around just aren’t as good or as convenient. So I’m torn–do I boycott them? I’m so annoyed either way!

    1. ThatGirl*

      If you’re a longtime customer, I’d probably start with a manager – assuming you didn’t already talk to one. Let them know what happened and see how they respond and go from there.

    2. Pennyworth*

      I’d be furious if that they handled it that way, as it seems someone was given your order in error and they should have just admitted it and replaced the food.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I know that no one wants to be perceived as a Karen, but in this case it’s completely appropriate to speak to the manager or the owner, and in fact it might be a win for everyone. I’d absolutely lean into how much you like the restaurant and how often you order from there, and then explain how upset you were at your treatment.

      If they do the right thing, they will apologize and offer some kind of goodwill gesture, which you should accept even though it feels weird. That closes the loop and then probably you’ll feel better about continuing the relationship. If they push back or aren’t receptive, then that tells you a lot more about the business.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes – “I payed for my food, but didn’t get it” is an extremely legitimate thing to complain about. Don’t go in screaming, but state the problem, and ask how they can prevent this from happening again. If they can’t come up with a solution (plus an apology/good will gesture), it’s a good sign. If it turns out the issues aren’t actually theirs, but are the fault of the app (which is a possibility), then you can decide what to do with the app. If it’s their fault and they don’t care, you can find a new place to eat.

    4. Stitch*

      You’re not unreasonable for being upset that they gave away something you paid for. That is 100% the fault of the restaurant and the way they handled it was horrible.

    5. mreasy*

      You don’t have to stop going – you can just decide that was an off night for the person working / the business in general. No need to deny yourself something you enjoy to make a point – which will likely not be received anyway. If it happens again, you can try to reach out to management or owners, but you aren’t obligated to do anything.

      1. mreasy*

        To be clear, you can definitely say something and try to get a refund etc, they were extremely in the wrong! But don’t feel like you HAVE to stop going because this happened.

    6. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I would give them one more chance to apologize and make it right. If you can talk to a manager that wasn’t on duty that day it might help. Be calm and factual. If they double down, then you can feel 100% justified in walking away from that business.

    7. Still*

      If it was a one-off then not ever getting food there again would punish you more than it would punish them, and they’re not likely to learn anything from it. I’d keep going there for my own convenience as long as it doesn’t happen again – at that point the annoyance would probably outweigh the benefits.

    8. M2*

      I would speak to the manager. And in future don’t use whatever app this is, call the restaurant directly and order. Usually apps take large cuts of the profit from restaurants FYI.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, make any future order issues the sole problem of the restaurant by ordering directly from them – unless the only way you can order is via the app.

        What I’ve done in situations like this (especially if previous experiences there have been fine) is to avoid the place for a few weeks – maybe up to a couple of months. By that time, memories have faded a bit on both sides and if you then have another bad experience, you’ll be able to assess more accurately whether you think it’s a pattern or if they’re just having temporary order issues or staffing problems.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Oh, they don’t underpay the restaurants usually- that’s the entire point of the complaint that apps go to restaurants without the restaurants even knowing or wanting them. That’s because they upcharge the customer so much! I have seen apps where not only are the various service charges, but on top of that, they list the food items as so much higher. One app I used at Five Guys, when the burgers were $8/each, were selling them via the app at $13 on top of service charges!!! So a $5 upcharge per item… Yeah, I quit using that app!

    9. Person from the Resume*

      If you want their food and miss their food, you not going back will have no impact on them. It will only hurt you. Go back.

      Do not order through the same app, though. Going forward order by phone (ugh, yeah, annoying to have to talk to a human instead of using the app, but it may be cheaper for you or at least the restaurant gets more of your money if you bypass the app.)

      It sounds like this happened a bit ago and maybe you weren’t made whole. It could be too late. You should have told the app you never got your food so you could at least get a refund. You should have also been able to talk to the manager at the restaurant and calmly state you had not picked up your food yet despite what the staff were claiming.

      You got terrible service, but if you still want to eat there do it for you … just use a different method then before.

    10. Alex*

      Thanks for the replies! I actually was talking to the person who appeared to be the manager, so I don’t think there is any further up I can go. The app is a discount app, which is why I use it–if I don’t have any discounts available on it, I do call the restaurant directly/use their own website to order.

      It’s totally possible that it is the fault of the app! And I did submit a complaint to the app and got a refund. The thing that bothered me most was the accusing me of trying to steal. I feel like if they had taken a look at my order on my phone, said, “Oh, that doesn’t match what we have here, I’m so sorry, I don’t know how that happened” or something like that that was NOT accusing me of stealing, it would have been fine. But instead they wouldn’t even look at the order or get up from their chair and basically told me to go away, that they already gave me my food.

      1. KatEnigma*

        It’s perfectly okay to decide that a restaurant doesn’t want your business by how they treat you. There are other restaurants that will do customer service better. Not treating your customers like thieves is a pretty low bar.

      2. Sheraton St Louis*

        In that case I wouldn’t go back. I mean maybe they’ve had a problem with scammers and they’re assuming you’re also one, but if they can’t be bothered to 1. check who’s picking up food and 2. look at your evidence, what else are they overlooking behind the scenes??? Are they treating staff well, are they paying enough attention to cleanliness, etc? Nope, bye.

      3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I would be inclined (I’m not sure if this is what you should do or not, but this is what I would want to do) to tell the manager what you just said.

        “I wanted to share an experience I had with you recently that really bummed me out. I come here pretty regularly and when I brought you a concern that someone else had taken the food I had ordered, I was really surprised by your reaction. Maybe I am misinterpreting your response, but my impression was that you thought I was lying to you to get a free meal. I hated the way that felt. I was hoping you would have at least tried to help me figure out what happened, and at least acknowledged it was possible someone picked up the wrong meal and it wasn’t me. I felt dismissed and accused of lying. Is that really how you felt?”

        (I don’t love that ending, the ending I’m looking for is the ending to this sentence “…. And so I would like it if you __” (what? “That you would acknowledge that it is possible that someone else took my meal that I paid for”?)

        It might be helpful to do it for yourself, even if you never say it. “I felt saddened and surprised because I was expecting to be treated with respect and belief even if you couldn’t make another meal”

    11. fposte*

      Immediately after the event I am firm of purpose and then as time goes by I usually crumble. It’s perfectly fine not to decide now what your moral stand is and even to change it back and forth by the day.

      Third party apps are notorious for this kind of trouble, though, and in general you are the customer of the app company and not the restaurant/hotel/airline, so the actual business has both limited power and limited interest in resolving things with you directly.

    12. Double A*

      I actually have a pretty low threshold of bad/rude customer service. I try be a kind, conscientious customer so when someone treats me badly I’m usually done with that establishment forever. Maybe it’s not fair, people have bad days, but I also think the default should be treating your customers well especially when they’re generally the kind of customers you’d like to keep. And I assume if they’re perceiving me in a way where they’d be rude to me, then I’m not a customer they’re interested in having.

    13. SofiaDeo*

      I would wonder if it was an employee, specifically, and not the restaurant overall who was rude? I would ask to speak to the owner/top manager, with a smile. Then when I got that person somewhere somewhat private, I start with something like “I really like coming here, but recently had an experience that I am unsure is a change in a policy, or if the person was having a bad day, or what.” Then I’d explain what occurred, and with who, and how it made me feel, then ask the manager, “what do you think?”. So no anger, accusations, just, explain what happened. If the place has recently changed for the worse, you can usually tell by the managers response. If it’s a one off from someone untrained, or who is a problem, the management gets a heads up. Although I would avoid *that specific person* in the near future. A good restaurant will insist people be civil if not actually pleasant/nice. Give them a chance in case it’s a one-off for whatever reason.

    14. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I had a local deli that my daughter and I loved going to.

      The problem is that it was slowly going downhill, and the deal-breaker was when the food was inedible, and the service matched the food.

      I’ll miss the place, but if I go out to eat, I want to enjoy the food, and have good service.

    15. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I actually had the reverse experience, at a chain fast food joint!!! I ordered through their website, and when I got there, I told them I had a pickup for “NoIWont”. They asked, “NoIWontUse”? and I said, sorry, “NoIWontFix”.

      They said that someone apparently had picked mine up by mistake, apologized for the mixup and the subsequent delay, and immediately made me a new sandwich.

      Since this is a GOOD experience, I’m going to name… Jersey Mikes in Thousand Oaks, CA.

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

      Bad food/food poisoning. Can’t ignore a bad or careless chef. Other than that, I might give it a rest for a while and then try again a bit later.

    17. allathian*

      We quit using our nearest McDonald’s drive thru because they shortchanged us on our order, either inadvertently or on purpose. We usually eat McD about once a month, and when mistakes with our order happened more than once in a six month period, we’d had enough. We usually don’t order meals for takeout, just a bigger burger like a Big Mac and a smaller one, like a cheeseburger, with chicken nuggets for the kid on the side. Sometimes they’d leave one of the cheeseburgers off our order and we wouldn’t notice until we got home.

      We still go there sometimes, but only if we want to eat in. It’s a nice bike ride away, so we go there in the summer. For takeout, we go elsewhere.

  10. Aquamarine*

    I am in an R-U-T rut. Plus just mentally and emotionally exhausted. I would love to take a trip or something to reset things, but I really can’t do that right now. I took a bike ride yesterday, and it helped a little, but this morning I felt right back in the same place.

    What do you do to rejuvenate when you don’t have a lot of time to spare?

    1. Iolkia*

      Switching my schedule around tends to reset my brain. Get up an hour sooner/later, eat an hour sooner/later, make a minor ritual for that time.

      Moving the bed into a different room. Rearranging the furniture. New art on the walls. A new area rug, new lamps, new houseplants. Just enough to make my brain think I’m in a new place.

    2. AGD*

      I fantasize about things I’d like to do once spare time arrives, and put them in a list. Sometimes I take a very short trip, like one overnight but with a ton of things to do packed into both days; that can feel much longer than it actually is. I 100% understand the feeling – my job is very lively and sometimes relentless. Hang in there!

      1. Onomatopoetic*

        This is a good idea, if possible. We made an overnight trip just one town over. We went to the theatre and a couple of museums and slept in a hotell with a delicious breakfast. It did a world of good.

    3. Ally*

      Get out in the sunlight in the mornings, not even to do a whole big thing, just get outside.

      Easy yoga- I like Yoga w Adrienne (free on YouTube)

      Catch up with a friend you haven’t seen for months / years- they give good perspective on yourself

      This one might just be me but: I like big intense documentaries, they somehow reset my head- I recommend For Sama.

      It’s great that you are looking for something to help you! You sound quite self-aware which is so great.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Is there an opportunity for a dramatic haircut, or a dyejob, if that appeals? Perhaps just a dramatically different style? I like the shock of existing in a differently-appearing body.

    5. Kathenus*

      For me, at least, rut and exhausted are related but also pretty different. When I was in a life rut a few years back, and had felt that way for a while, I spent a lot of time thinking about and planning this first but ended up adding a pet. I already had parrots, and added a cat. Adding a predator to a prey animal household takes some time and work but it’s been great.

      For the mental and physical exhaustion, I feel you, I am there right now. Work and life are both kicking my butt at the moment. I know you said you can’t do a trip, so not sure if either of these are too close to that option to be feasible, but a couple ideas in case you can make them work. First is just a long weekend – take one or two days off next to your weekend. Do your normal weekend tasks on the first day or two off, and have at least one day with absolutely nothing you have to do. That can be a good mental reset for me. The second is to see if you can do just an overnight stay somewhere – some people might prefer something like a hotel downtown, for me it’s a cabin in the woods. Depending on where you live there may be a lot of these near you that you don’t know about. And if you live near a major metropolitan area, check out Getaway cabins, they are tiny house trailers in the woods within two hours of a major area to just get an easily accessible nature break. I haven’t tried them yet (but have done a bunch of cabins in my region over the years), but just booked myself a Getaway cabin in a week and just making the reservation helped notch down the stress a bit.

      If you literally just can’t take any extra time, maybe just take an upcoming weekend and reframe your mindset that the only goal you have for it is to do whatever you want. So no errands (unless you have something that you’d find fun versus drudgery), forego household tasks (do carry out food or similar, disposable dishes just for that weekend, etc.) and just have it be your time and yours alone to do (or not) whatever.

      Good luck.

    6. Courageous cat*

      I don’t know but as someone who’s officially been laid off for over a month, I am feeling you hard on this. I know I don’t do well unemployed and I’m starting to see it happen. I’m getting depressed and don’t even have the energy to do much. Even exercise doesn’t help because as soon as I’m back home, I’m right back in the same place.

      One thing I am trying to start is setting a schedule for myself on weekdays to give myself some structure that I must follow.

  11. Ginger Cat Lady*

    We are xeriscaping our backyard. It’s a very casual design, curved chat paths with a few benches. The landscape designer left two places for “sculpture or large boulder” near where the paths curve around.
    We already have a large boulder in the front yard, not particularly fond of that approach. But also have no clue what, if anything I might want for a garden sculpture.
    Any ideas or suggestions?

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Ooh, fun! What is your style? Delicate or bold, formal or casual, modern or traditional? Bright colors or subtle? Wood, metal, paint, or stone?

      Do any of these strike a cord: the most awesome animal in the world? Your favorite building? Your favorite style era (the medieval, the 1970s, the 1940s, the baroque)?

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        That’s the problem! I don’t know!
        Probably not wood, I don’t want to maintain it much. Stone or metal, probably. I’ve thought about one of those big kinetic scuptures of metal that spin in the wind. But the ones I found were either $40K original works of art or pinwheels. And I don’t mind the pinwheels but three of my neighbors have them already.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Is there a store you could go to? There is a place near me brim full outdoors decor, from a life size giraffe, to a very weird seat made to look like a hand, to brightly colored chickens, to buddhas, to garden gnomes, and much more. If you could find a place like that, you would at least be able to decide on a bunch of stuff you definitely don’t like.

    2. RLC*

      Would a sundial, perhaps on a decorative pedestal, fit your aesthetic? Fun and functional.
      We were gifted a small sundial years ago, commissioned a 3 ft tall pedestal for it from a local shop that specializes in weatherproof cast concrete yard art. They were able to do a patina on the concrete to resemble bronze. It’s been through 15+ years of harsh Rocky Mountain winters and looks nearly new.

    3. Pennyworth*

      I like stone sculptures in abstract, organic forms. I’m not on social media, but isn’t Instagram the place to look for ideas? The glass artist Dale Chihuly has a book about gardens and glass, and he did glass sculptures for the garden of Taliesin West – so glass might be a possibility.

    4. Girasol*

      We didn’t want to deal with heavy lifting so we did a stacked rock sculpture in which each rock was not so heavy. That was fun.

    5. StellaBella*

      What about a bird bath and some decorative bird feeders? Also would a small sand garden (maybe a round one with a rake for decor) work? Or a metal fire pit with chairs around it for nights outside?

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        The design already includes a fire pit and seating, and a bubbler for the birds. I told the designer I wanted to attract native pollinators. I’m really just trying to figure out the “sculpture/boulder” options.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Maybe look for an architectural salvage shop and see if they have any interesting chunks-of-stuff – that is, if you like the look of fragments-of-ruins. (I do!)

      I’m also fond of some of the items at Design Toscano – there’s a whole “garden statues” section – though the larger ones can be pretty pricey. But the catalog might give you some ideas of what you’d like, and then perhaps you could find something along the same lines that fits your budget.

    7. fposte*

      My massage place just welded some metal together and it looks great. You might look to see if there are metalworkers in your area and whether they’d be willing to do something simple for you. Alternatively, art fairs can turn up both higher end and lower end metalwork sculptures. You don’t even have to go to the art fair–look at the exhibitors’ lists of the past year from a few in your region and see if you find somebody whose work you like.

    8. MJ*

      If you like whimsical, search for “dandelion fairy sculpture”. I saw these on a documentary about a UK artist, but they seem to be available in Canada at least.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Go shopping at an outdoor store and there will be a bunch of yard decorations so you can pick your favorite. I would suggest you keep the durability in mind.

      Something around here is concrete sculptures. Mostly unpainted because that holds up a lot better outdoors, but they can be painted too. Religious to classical to birdbaths to other animals.

  12. Silly cat*

    Our friends recently brought up the idea of trading off cat care with my partner and I. I think my response was along the lines of, sure, we can give that a try, but not sure about holidays and such, we’ll probably need to still use actual cat sitters, but great!
    Flash forward several months and it’s become clear our friends want a lot of time out of us for cat sitting, time that we just don’t want to prioritize (think sitting with their cats or multiple days). Honestly it’s become clear they (and we) just need to schedule and pay a cat sitter.
    I think we just need to be direct and tactful (ish) and say that while we still are open to cat sitting for a day here and there or in emergencies, we really just can’t otherwise – any suggestions for how to handle this rather silly situation, but still walk away friends?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Being very matter of fact is probably the best. It was worth a try, but it’s not working with your current schedule so you’ve decided to go back to hiring a cat sitter.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      It sounds like you already gave a kind of lukewarm response in the beginning, so it seems like you could kind of come back to that – “Now that we’ve given it a try I think this is a bigger time commitment than I’d expected, sorry. I could still help occasionally if you’re not able to find a sitter but I’m going to have to stop doing Constant Caturday after this week”

    3. Jeasi*

      Hi friends, we’ve been looking at our calendar and increasingly some of the days you’ve asked us to sit clash with other things we want to do. It’s becoming pretty clear that we won’t be able to sit for you so I think we are going to take a big step back from that. Here is the number of awesome sitter that we really like xxx xxxx. Looking forward to seeing you for [next booked event]/ do you guys wanna get dinner/coffee/ see the new art gallery opening next week?

    4. Sloanicota*

      Ha I have a friend just like this! She travels a lot and there’s always crises with the cat / friends who were supposed to watch the cat. I’m like girl, please just pay a danged service for this. It’s really not that much more expensive when you’re already going to Ibiza or wherever.

    5. Seahorse*

      Oof, that’s a frustrating situation. Pre-Covid, I had to tell some friends that I spent more time with their pets than I did with them, and it made me feel taken advantage of.

      They took it well, made the effort to find other pet sitters, and reached out more socially. Had they responded any other way, I probably would have been irritated enough to step back from the friendship myself.

  13. Iolkia*

    I have been enjoying the abundance of lizards in my neighborhood, thanks to the warm weather, and recently, I even saw a fox! Anyone got any nice wildlife stories to share?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Bunnies! At our last place we saw TONS of them all the time and it never got old. Not as many now but there were two hopping around the back yard yesterday :)

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      We live in a pretty suburban area, but we are near the mountains and have a creek with a riparian zone around it a few blocks away. I’ve seen deer (multiple times!) in my yard, a coyote crossing the street, and foxes and rabbits in a field nearby. My neighbor has caught a cougar on his doorbell cam!

    3. L. Ron Jeremy*

      A family of raccoons strolled through my yard after enjoying oranges from my tree. Seen several opossum in the early morning, as well as several skunks.

    4. Random tuesday*

      I saw bunnies today, which always makes me happy. and seals, when I spot them every month or two,

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        A bobcat?! That is very cool.
        All I see now are tons of deer waiting until my garden grows enough to eat it all.
        Plus lots of coyote poop….

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I was in Point Reyes National Seashore, luckily a short drive for a day trip from where I live.

          I’m glad to see this thread make an appearance since I haven’t posted a wildlife sightings thread is quite sometime. Right now we’re having an exceptional wildflower bloom in the SF Bay Area after a record-setting rainy season. I went on a hike today and it was like walking through a garden. Just incredible.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I often hear great horned owls at night, but seldom see them. A friend has told me of bobcat sightings in her town, which is the next one south from mine, but I have yet to see a bobcat in the wild.

        1. MCL*

          We have a pair of screech owls living in our neighborhood. It’s great to hear them in the summer, one of their calls sounds like a UFO!

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      I was taking the recycling out just now and saw a swallow fly out of the nest they’d built on the side of our house. The first swallow sighting of the year!

    6. KeinName*

      I see baby ducks all the time when I go on a walk along the river. I saw a duck transporting two babies on its back and 5 more trailing behind. Duck train! All different types of ducks as well. Also I saw two ducks sleeping on the bike path next to the river at 10pm. And my boyfriend saw a squirrel harassing a duck just there.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Duckling season is fantastic. You’re reminding me I need to get out to the local wetlands to look for them as well as baby shorebirds.

    7. Snell*

      Recently saw a full, entire skunk foraging about in the backyard. I had turned on an exterior light because I was going to let the dog out. In response to the light, the skunk left the yard by crawling under the fence (that fence is relatively newly installed, too—guess that solves the mystery gap). I didn’t let the dog out until I was sure the yard was empty of skunks.

      Did I mention the dog had just drunk water too fast? He spit it up in the kitchen. I consider it a fair exchange for no personal skunk encounters.

        1. Snell*

          Would have been less hesitant to let the dog out, though (or maybe not…this area doesn’t have coyotes, so you and your dog finding one half an animal is the prologue to a horror film)

    8. Bagpuss*

      I saw several groups of deer, and a magnificent dog fox on my walk yesterday evening. not uncommon, but it’s been a little while since I’ve managed to time my walk right to see them.
      No badger sightings yet this year, though.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We had a fox that trotted down our street fairly regularly in the mornings, probably returning from hunting, and one morning it stopped to eat something (mushrooms?) a few feet from the window where I was sitting! But I haven’t seen it in a couple of weeks now. I did see two deer just walking up our street since then, though, also early in the morning.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I was pulling dead leaves and stalks and such out of the garden and came to a bunch of grass. But it was loose? And it seemed to be filling a hole at the base of a stand of lilies? And… oh look, baby bunnies. I covered them back up.

      It explains why I’ve been seeing a full-size rabbit around, and why the dog has been particularly motivated to follow scent trails around the yard, though she hasn’t gone near the nest.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I see rabbits in my yard fairly often – though they camouflage so well against the dried grasses and shrubs that sometimes they’re right in front of me and I don’t see them until they move.

      This morning I noticed my cat staring out the window into the dropoff behind my house (maybe 20 feet down to the creek bed); when I looked, I saw a deer making its way to the water.

    12. KatEnigma*

      We have THE stupidest bunny living under our deck.

      We have 3 dogs- 2 of them large breeds. So moving in under the deck that the dog door leads out to was already not the best choice. Our Rott/Hound mix has so far given herself a raw spot under her nose (from constantly slamming/rubbing her nose between the boards to sniff for it), rubbed a raw spot on the bridge of her nose AND finally given herself a large hematoma on her one ear, from trying to squeeze her head under the deck that’s like 3″ off the ground. (Why does every Vet visit cost $250, BTW? LOL)

      So this week, the neighbors and I had fencers in to replace the fence between us, after 4 sections got taken out by a storm (original 1981 fence) that we’ve literally had propped up and stapled together for months while they finally decided they couldn’t just repair it themselves. So the dog door was closed off Tues-Thursday and we’ve been taking the dogs out on long leads (and 2/3 of them got sent to doggy daycare during the day) and dug out our old camping tie out. Thursday after dinner, we took dogs out, and the bunny was in the middle of the yard. It ran TOWARD us. Then back and forth across the yard several times, ignoring the still at least 50 ft of open space where the fencers weren’t, and hadn’t covered yet. Finally it darted for its opening under the deck that it has bypassed all efforts to block off. That was bad enough, but although my husband’s arm about got yanked off, we could keep the dogs from the rabbit when the rabbit didn’t run into the reach of their tie out!

      Yesterday morning, the main part of our fence was done except for the gate, which was blocked off by plywood, so I let the dogs out loose, but went out to supervise that they didn’t get any ideas of breaking out. The bunny was out there again. Only it had rained for hours overnight, so its entrance to under the deck was under water. Now, the old fence on the other side of the yard has plenty of bunny-sized gaps and the gate on that side has at least a 5″ gap under it- our 20 lb cocker mix has gotten out through it, and we normally keep it blocked off with bricks, but of course that was disturbed by fencers in and out all week and we hadn’t fixed it yet. Like I said, dogs were only out supervised at that point. That stupid rabbit ran back and forth and all around- including within inches of the cocker mix who hadn’t been chasing it, until it ran past so close. Until finally the Shepherd mix and the Rott/Hound mix figured out to cooperate to corner it and I thought it was a goner, with nothing I could do to save it (and really, it was Darwinism in action, at that point) because they are pretty reliable at recall, but not while chasing a bunny! THEN it finally realized it could squeeze under the old fence at like the last possible second. And if our Rottie wasn’t elderly and arthritic, she’d have caught it!

      Between giving herself injuries trying to catch bunnies, the elderly Rott mix spends all her daylight hours outside on the deck watching the lizards that love to sun themselves on the side of our house. The neighborhood itself has armadillos and all kinds of water birds and even river otters in the gully a block away.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        What a saga! It’s good to hear you’ve been able to protect the bunny despite its poor judgment. Bummer about your dog’s obsession leading to necessary vet care.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh yes, in 2021, the ravine behind Mom’s house became the part-time hangout for a doe and her twin fawns! I took pics and video; they’re on my Instagram (dame_writesalot).

      Mom was cool with it except when the mama deer ate all her balloon flowers, lol.

    14. Lizabeth*

      Lots of screaming by the red shoulder hawk and softer replies by his mate. Crossing fingers that they nest nearby.

      Hung the hummingbird feeders yesterday and saw my first hummingbird this morning. Woot!

    15. DefinitiveAnn*

      A couple of weeks ago, my little grandson and I enjoyed seeing the baby alligator in the bayou at a park in the middle of town.

    16. Tea and Sympathy*

      I sometimes see a bald eagle sitting in a certain tree by the side of a main highway. Now I always look to see if the eagle is there, and one day this week he was. I live in a state that has a lot of hawks, but bald eagles have only started being sighted in the last decade, so it’s still exciting to see them.

    17. Llama Llama*

      I see many red tailed hawks lately. I like to assume it’s one (even though I literally see more than one at a time). I have named him Jerry. This week he was within 10 feet of me.

    18. BlueWolf*

      I saw a fox in the neighbor’s yard last night. And the night before that I heard what I believe was a barred owl. It was so cool!

    19. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Didn’t see, but heard the foxes out friday night. Their mating calls sound like a soul in torment, so they woke me up at about 2. It was hard to get back to sleep again!

    20. Veronica*

      Wildlife encounter at work yesterday: thought I heard a car alarm from the parking lot. Looked out to see a coyote behind the bushes just across the narrow lot. Also discovered a mama duck quaking an alarm and jumping against our glass front door. We opened the door and the duck family took refuge in our entry way until the coyote was long gone. Whew!

    21. RLC*

      We have a pair of tiny, adorable Downy Woodpeckers in the garden, regularly sharing a meal at the suet cake feeder. The male has been here since last fall, the female is a new arrival. Neighbors have plenty of dead trees so perhaps the couple will find a suitable nest site.

    22. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I used to have a family of doves that would build their nest on a pillar on my front porch. I called her “Mrs. Bird” and always said “Hi” to here when I came into or left the house. It was great fun watching the kids learn how to fly.

      Unfortunately, I think she passed about 15 years or so ago :(

      I also enjoy the ravens (or possibly crows?) in my neighborhood. I know they are highly intelligent, and will remember both kindness and cruelty. Needless to say, even if they didn’t I would still be chill with them. Being from L.A. I just say, “Hi, Bird Dude” when I see them.

    23. Rara Avis*

      There’s a golden eagle who likes to hunt the fields of a nearby urban park/former farmland. We’ve seen him twice this week perched on a light pole on our way to school.

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

      Nothing very exotic, as I am in the city, but I do enjoy seeing grey and black squirrels, robins, mourning doves, chickadees, and what I think might be starlings on the way to where I park my car. I love it when it has been raining and they’re using the puddles as bird baths. I wish we also had fox squirrels around here, though — I loved seeing them when I lived elsewhere.

  14. Mean Girls*

    I thought mean girls were a high school thing but there’s one in my circle of grown ass women. She seems to feel it’s her job to tell someone how to act. She’s:
    1. Told a friend after the friend’s wedding that the friend shouldn’t have married the guy
    2. Unilaterally kicked a woman out of book club
    3. Spoke for a whole group that a friend gets a “5 minute limit,” for talking about a her divorce
    4. Bullies friends to buy her MLM products
    5. Trash talks anyone who stands up to her
    I’ve purposely stayed under the radar to avoid her social wrath. But my question is why is high school playing out as an adult?

    1. Pennyworth*

      She’s just has a need to be top dog and by tolerating her the group is ensuring she will keep on bullying. If you can withstand her social wrath you would be doing the group a favor if you spoke up in the moment in future. ”Emily, you do not decide who is in our book club. Emily you don’t get to make the rules. Emily please stop pressuring us to buy your stuff. Emily, please stop trash talking anyone who stands up to you.” Sometime calling out bad behavior is all it takes. Personally, I’d take a vote and democratically kick her out of the book club and invite her evictee back in.

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

        Agreed. I know it’s really hard, and I’m not always great at doing it — I tend to freeze in the moment — but standing up to bullies is both a public service and a personal growth opportunity. I was bullied when I was a kid, and any time I can hand the discomfort back to a bully now is a win for me, even if I don’t manage it very often.

    2. LG*

      She gets away with it because people let her. If nobody’s willing to push back, she’ll keep doing it. Why does she keep getting invited to things? I have no time to waste on people who act like that. I’d avoid being anywhere she is.

    3. Stitch*

      I guess the real.problem is people are allowing and enabling this behavior. She couldn’t act like this if other people didn’t tolerate it. For instance when she kicked someone out of the book club, what did the other members do?

      While she’s a problem it’s worth acknowledging that everyone who let’s her behave like that or caters to her is also a problem.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Something that stood out to me in a recent discussion of The Missing Stair (maybe the empath letter?) is that each group can only have one. If a group member observes the kowtowing and concludes “I shall crank up my behavior to be the new most unreasonable person in this group, so everyone has to bend to accommodate ME instead” that doesn’t work.

        The baseline problem isn’t that obnoxious people exist; the problem is the rest of the group limboing to accommodate the bad behavior.

        The behavior is more associated with high school because kids have fewer social and emotional skills to bring to bear in coping with it–adults are more likely to push back, shut it down, or walk away from a group that tolerates this. But the kids didn’t invent any new ape group dynamics; they’re just on cruder display.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          ‘But the kids didn’t invent any new ape group dynamics; they’re just on cruder display.’

          Delighted by this and firmly seconding. High school never really ends. I don’t recall what film it was in (Freaky Friday, maybe?), but one character said to another, “What you don’t realize is you will be 18 forever.” So true. But as is also being said here is that adults have tools they can use to stop or refuse the nonsense. Hurray! I am all for voting this problematic person out of the group.

          I feel Captain Awkward had a lengthy and eloquent discussion of something similar (with the same suggestion) not long ago. Search for ‘boundaries’ and ‘missing stair’ and I bet you will have lots of thoughtful guidance much like you are getting here from Alison’s very kind and wise commenters. Good luck to you & your group!

    4. English Rose*

      Sounds like a classic ‘missing stair’ situation that we read about a lot over at Captain Awkward. People manage her behaviour so she continues to be a ‘friend’ no-one actually wants to be friends with. As Pennyworth says, it’s probably a need to be top dog.

      The empathic part of me wants to say it’s because she’s insecure, but that doesn’t make her behaviour any less infuriating.

    5. Seahorse*

      Genuine, non-snarky question: why do you continue to hang out with her?
      What do you get out of the whole friend group that makes it worth staying? How can you meet that social need without involving her?

      Seems like this approach has been working for her since high school, so she sees no reason to grow up. You can change your own approach to avoid her or stop putting up with her though.

      1. Mean Girls*

        Fair question. I’ve stepped away from any group she’s in. I actually heard the book club dissolved, so maybe through lack of interest (which may be people walking away from her antics). I haven’t wanted to be the one to confront her and have her turn her sights on me when I can pretty easily avoid her. I’ll read the missing stair since it’s mentioned in the answers, especially since I’m curious about the social dynamics.

    6. Girasol*

      Many men I’ve met in that place we do not name on Saturday act like junior high school bullies. They excuse it as “male competition. You wouldn’t understand.” There’s just something about those adolescent years of high school that some people’s level of maturity just stops and sticks there for the rest of their lives. I don’t suppose there’s any reason why this should be a men-only phenomenon.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        “male competition. You wouldn’t understand.”

        “Yeah, you’re right, I don’t understand. Not sure why anyone would want to participate in that on purpose as if they weren’t adults with options.”

    7. RagingADHD*

      In high school it exists because they have a more or less captive group of developmentally immature people with limited options to escape them.

      In adulthood it exists because they are good at finding and cultivating groups of people with low self esteem and / or poor personal boundaries who are willing to participate in the dynamic. They can’t exist without enablers / partners.

    8. Thunder Kitten*

      what makes you think HS social dynamics ever left ? just different environments and manifestations.

  15. Voldemort’s cousin*

    I’m a new mom to a gorgeous 7 week old girl. By all accounts, my daughter is healthy, growing, and sleeping longer and longer stretches at night. But even when she’s content, I feel a constant low grade panic. The panic centers around whether I’m caring for her the right way: should I be doing tummy time with her right now? Shouldn’t she be napping on me for bonding instead of her bassinet? Did I put the right number of layers of clothing on her?

    Parents and other caretakers, how did you find a way to calm your mind and build your confidence taking care of a little one? And yes, I’m sure how I’m feeling has to do with lack of sleep.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Congratulations on your healthy baby girl!
      Came here to say that YOU ARE NORMAL AND DOING A GREAT JOB
      I think all good (as in parents who care about being good parents) parents worry a lot with their first baby. It’s scary! And why don’t they come with a manual? And they really let us out of the hospital unsupervised with this little life?
      Your baby will let you know if she’s uncomfortable. You can always feel her skin to see if she’s hot or cold. Don’t obsess over bonding or whatever. You’ll bond when she’s awake and you’re taking care of her. Trust your instincts and yourself. Try to sleep when she sleeps and slip in a bit of self care when you have time.
      Everything is OK!

    2. waffles*

      I am a mom of 3 kids who are all young adults now. You are doing a great job with this baby! The first 3 months are SO HARD. Your anxiety is probably high due to the new responsibilities of parenting combined with your change in hormones post-birth and lack of consistent sleep. You will probably feel better over the next 2 months, but please seek help if your anxiety is severe. You don’t have to live this way.

      I like to think about the wide variety of parenting practices in different cultures around the world, now and throughout history. There are so many ways to raise children and most people turn out to be happy and healthy adults. Be kind to yourself and to the baby and you will both be okay. Hugs to you.

      1. Observer*

        You will probably feel better over the next 2 months, but please seek help if your anxiety is severe. You don’t have to live this way.

        Very much this. Also, even if you don’t consider it “severe”, if this does not get a LOT better fairly quickly, please reach out for help.

        What you are describing is just FINE. There is nothing here that should be causing panic even the low level, in the pit of your stomach variety. You don’t need to keep living with that kind of stress.

    3. Stitch*

      So I had post partum anxiety, so I’m really familiar with this. You could consider talking to your OB or your kid’s pediatrician about this (the pediatrician does screen you for this). My experience was also that as I got more sleep and got more comfortable that things got better on their own as well.

      So this is really normal, it’s definitely a challenge and there’s definitely help to be had.

      1. Gyne*

        Thirding, this is very common and very treatable. While is is “normal” to worry about your kids, pathologic worry impairs your ability to function in the world. Normal worries are not derailing thoughts that stop you from living your life, going places, and interacting with the world. Many hospitals have postpartum depression support groups. I can’t tell from your post where you’re at exactly, nor do you owe anyone more elaboration.

        I will say our society does a really poor job of supporting new parents. There are so many expectations now from social media and family and friends who have internalized all the nonsense. I forgot to bathe my second baby for over a month after she was born (I wiped her during diaper changes and spot cleaned the dried milk from her face but it was around the time I was going back to work where i had this realization of “oh crap, I haven’t washed this thing yet!”)

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Context: My kids are in their 20s. They are fine and lovely people.

      Observations from those years:
      • Kids are unique individuals and have their own needs. If it works for her and you, just roll with it.
      • Related to above, half the stuff you learned with the first one doesn’t even apply to the next one.
      • My firstborn hated tummy time with a ferocious rage, such that she skipped over “try to lift yourself” and want to shrieking until rescued. I fretted about this… and right on schedule, at 7 months, she learned to crawl from a seated position. At first she tripodded around in a random walk, then she learned to aim, then she got onto hands and knees. I gave the second one some tummy time but didn’t worry about it, and he also crawled right at 7 months. Both walked at 9 months. If they have space to try things (e.g. not always strapped into some sort of holder), a whole lot of stuff is hard-wired to turn on at various stages, and early practice turns out not to make much difference.

      I also recall around this time encountering at the children’s museum a baby who could butt-scoot at a ferocious pace, faster than crawling, so why would he bother crawling? His preferred mode let him use his hands to carry things while charging ahead.

      There are a lot of different paths that can be followed and result in a baby hitting all their milestones. The one that works for you and your daughter may not work for other people, and vice versa.

    5. KatEnigma*

      I assure you, you and she are fine. You just have to trust your gut, and maybe throw out those parenting books (or at least put them aside for now) if their guidance is making you anxious.

      And yes, stay flexible and do what works for you and her. My son HATED to sleep on a person. I’d had a long history with taking care of babies before my son came, and my husband is the much older sibling of 4, plus we both had cousins that lived nearby that were much younger than us. My go to method of getting a baby to sleep since I was 12 was to cuddle/rock them. My aunts used to give me the babies to settle them at that age, I was so good at it. My baby? You left him in his crib not touching him, with the white noise on! Literally he is the only baby of many that my husband and I have cared for that didn’t want held to sleep! He’s 5 1/2 now and we are all plenty bonded and close. Also, you’ll know if she’s hot or cold, because she will fuss. Our son also hated being covered up (born in late July) and if I had a dime for everyone who asked wasn’t he cold. NO, he was not cold. You know your baby better than anyone. Do what’s best for HER and be ready for that to change several times, with no warning. :) My son slept through the night from 7 weeks on… until he turned 2 1/2 and then was up multiple times a night for a couple months! It’s alllll normal.

    6. OyHiOh*

      I would really strongly advocate for giving yourself a screening tool for post partum anxiety/depression, and go to your primary care provider based on those results. Constant low level anxiety is not normal or typical, much as we play it off in western society as normal.

      1. Generic Name*


        I’m 16 years postpartum (ha ha) but remember feeling a bit weird in the weeks after birth. I agree that it actually isn’t normal to always feel nervous or on edge. I recently went on anti anxiety meds and I realized that feeling nervous had become my default, and it’s really really nice to just feel…..”normal”. That’s not to say you aren’t normal. You are. What you are going through is so, so common, and you don’t have to feel that way. I encourage you to bring this up at your next appointment.

      2. Wilde*

        One method of screening for PPD is the Edinburgh test. You can google it and do it yourself. I took it multiple times and used the changing results to self diagnose and head to the doctor for medication.

        Congratulations on the baby! I found the sleep deprivation really kicked in around this stage and the initial wave of support subsided. So now is the time to be vocal about asking for help – a meal, clean the kitchen etc.

    7. J.B.*

      I had postpartum anxiety with my first and the single best therapeutic thing was to arrange to have an unbroken 5 hour stretch of sleep at night, where Dad would give a bottle. please go through a PPD screening tool as well and see if it applies

    8. UCB*

      One thing I found immensely helpful to remember was that plenty of people a lot more stupid than me manage to raise children. 7 weeks is early days, you’re doing great. I hope you have lots of help (for example I did not touch a nappy if my husband was home, including in the middle of the night in the week, because I was doing the feeding), and I highly recommend that because I found it helped me get back to sleep fast in the night.

      But mostly this will fade with the passage of time. Talk to people about it, especially other new mums, it’s a pretty normal phenomenon. I would say if the feelings don’t fade/are intrusive, think about talking to your doctor/health visitor/someone at the well baby clinic – don’t think you should/have to tough it out alone.

    9. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      Unless I was looking for advice on something specific I had to stop reading books/articles/social media posts that gave advice on what I “should” be doing because it made me too anxious. Not having so much input helped a lot, actually (along with sleep and recovery and getting used to a new routine of how things were).

      1. Observer*

        This was one of my first thoughts.

        Throw out the baby books.

        And drop out of most Mommy groups. Even the ones that are not toxic have a tendency to push the One Right Way or have a couple of people who will tell you about THE THING that you absolutely MUST do, no matter what. And aside from feeding, cleaning / diapering and holding your child, most of it is waaay over-hyped. And even the absolute basics have a lot of variability in what makes sense. Which means that the best way for you is the way that works for your baby.

    10. Double A*

      I talked to my doctor about postpartum depression. I really regret waiting until my daughter was 8 months old; I had to suffer those feelings way longer than necessary.

    11. small town*

      My children are young adults. I took comfort in that fact that very few people remember anything before 3-4 years of age. Children are so individual. Mine thought that the Johnny Jump was prison and hated strollers. They did like a baby backpack. Tummy time is good for variety. Mine only liked napping on their grandfather. The rest of us, not so much. She will let you know. You have this!

    12. Jill Swinburne*

      Sounds like you’re doing fine! It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and ‘wtf-have-we-done?’ – but I’d echo the suggestion to talk to your health provider, even if they can just reassure you.

      I’d say to stay off parenting forums and websites unless you want to know something really specific, because they’re usually the fastest way to question yourself. My daughter loathed tummy time so I gave up. She also had to be boobed to sleep for every nap (transferring was also hit and miss) until she dropped them all at around 2. If I listened to those websites I was condemning us to a life of co-dependency and I’d probably have to come to university with her, etc. but she’s now almost 6 and can sleep perfectly well.

      You’re going to get all kinds of advice thrown at you from here on in, but you know your baby, so if something sounds doable give it a go and ignore anything you don’t fancy. If you’re responding to your baby’s needs and listening to what she’s telling you, you’re doing great.

      (Oh, and our midwife said that to check if they’re hot or cold, put your hand down their top on their upper back. You’re looking for nice and toasty, not hot and not cool. It was top of our ‘baby crying’ checklist – along with nappy, wind, hungry, needing a cuddle).

    13. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I’m a Dad of 3 (now adult) girls. It sounds to me like you are doing a fine job. It always frustrated me the emphasis put on “bonding”, like if you missed some specific thing, like nursing in the delivery room, your child will not properly bond with you (my wife couldn’t nurse, and it didn’t make any difference). If you love your child, and attend to her when she needs it (and she’ll let you know when she needs it!), you will bond with her. It has nothing to do with time spent on your tummy vs. a basinet. If she is sleeping well in her basinet, that’s a good thing. It frees you up to take care of yourself during that time, which is really important. I wish you all the best – it’s a fantastic journey.

      1. Voldemort’s cousin*

        I can’t thank you all enough! I read these responses out loud to my husband and it reassured us both.

    14. RagingADHD*

      Talking it out with my partner and finding mom friends to connect with / talk about it helped a lot.

    15. Numbat*

      My advice is a little grim and specific, but I reminded myself I only needed to be good enough. Not wildly exceptionally brilliant. Just good enough. I work in a sector where I get to hear about all the worst things parents can do to their kids, and it made it easier to believe I was doing just fine. I understand where you’re coming from, so very very much. I wish I’d spent more time relaxing and enjoying my baby when she was a little blob who couldn’t run around and didn’t need much to be happy.

    16. Washi*

      I have a 10 month old and felt the exact same for the first few months. I felt constantly on edge, totally unable to relax even if my husband or mom had the baby. In addition to all the other worries about my baby, I was so scared I would never feel calm and relaxed again.

      But it got better! For me, even more than sleep, the biggest thing was that around 4 months my baby started to just make more sense. Having a newborn felt like caring for a ticking time bomb that could go off with wailing for no reason that I could predict. But between 4-5 months, he just seemed more like a person, and the input and output were much more clearly related. So even though sleep was still crappy, I finally started to be able to relax and enjoy life.

      4 months probably feels eons away at 7 weeks, but just know it won’t always feel like this. It gets so much better and easier and more fun!

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

      Not a mom and have little experience with babies, but it sounds to me like you are doing GREAT! As long as you are kind to the kid, meet her basic needs, get her to a doctor when there’s a problem, and keep her alive, you are doing all you need to do right now. You do NOT have to be some kind of Instagram-perfect parent. Sending you a big hug and a wish for you to get more sleep someday.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had poor luck with their actual data service personally, though I know a bunch of folks who liked it. I have switched to Visible and found it a relatively seamless experience with no issues.

    2. beep beep*

      I’ve recently swapped, and it’s fine. I’m not a big fan of all their “how do you do fellow kids” marketing, but whatever. I get plenty of data (I think they just raised the amount you get for the same price, which is nice) and though it’s a little slower to stream video on data than my old provider, I don’t do that often. I can’t speak much to their customer service, as I haven’t had to chat with them, sorry!

    3. Blue wall*

      I use Ting which runs on the Verizon network. I haven’t had to use their customer service. I do find that I have more dead zones/poor connection than I did when I was with Verizon directly.

    4. just another queer reader*

      My partner used it for a year and recently switched away.

      They would randomly have no signal for a few days (this was in a major urban area!) Customer service wasn’t helpful. It seemed to be a random glitch.

      Fingers crossed that their new carrier doesn’t do this!

    5. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

      I used it for several years and the experience was fine, not amazing but no real complaints. What really ground my gears was that recently I tried to move back to them and found out, after paying for a new SIM and a 6-month plan, that they would not allow me to port my number BACK to them. They insisted I had to get a new number. I’ve had my number for ~20 years and am not giving it up, so I had to spend an hour trying to get customer service to understand why they needed to give me a refund, which was annoying. (I did get a refund eventually.)

      I ended up going to Tello instead, and they have also been fine, though not amazing. I think it ended up being a little cheaper than Mint as well.

      1. Minty Fresh*

        Wow, what a weird position for them to take. I wonder if there is some real logistical reason for them not being able to port your number back. A bummer to lose business for this reason. I’m glad you got a refund, and thanks for letting me know about Tello. I’ll check them out.

        1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

          Yes, I wondered about that too–it seemed so arbitrary to just not let me bring it back!–but if that was so, no one I talked to mentioned it. In any case I wish you luck finding a new carrier, I think there are a lot of good, smaller, cheaper ones out there. I’ve also used Ting and StraightTalk in the past and had no real issues with them. I will say out of all of them, Tello’s website is probably the best and most user friendly. (StraightTalk’s is the worst hands down, and also they cost the most!)

    6. Numbat*

      Non-American here. Read that as Mint-Mobeeeele, like a mobile mint delivering service. Wondered who would need a mint delivery service. Oh dear.

  16. sewsandreads*

    Crafting thread! What are you all making?

    Got some curtains up today which, hooray, will finally solve my non-DST problem of getting whacked right in the eyeball at sunrise thanks to a gap in our blinds.

    1. Knighthope*

      I tried flower pounding using pansies. Fun and easy, although I need to work on my technique. Plan to paint watercolor of lilacs when my friend gives me some.

    2. Lifelong student*

      Finished a 5 foot square crocheted afghan last week and made a few chemo caps for donation. Today, I will start to try to make my first crochet socks- wish me luck!

    3. fposte*

      I am going to embark on kintsugi, or rather the cheap pseudokintsugi done with epoxy and gold mica. I broke the top of an irreplaceable bottle vase and decided that was the time to embark, and I have a few broken ceramic items I saved in vague idea that I would learn how to do mosaics, so I can test on them.

      1. Firebird*

        I’ve been thinking about it since I saw a kit at a bookstore around Christmas. The handle on a pretty mug broke and I can’t replace it. It won’t be microwave safe anymore, but that’s ok.

        I’m also thinking about trying something similar for a broken wooden instrument. It had a poor quality sound anyway, so it was just hanging on a wall anyway. (Until it fell off. Lol)

        1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

          Thank you all for this idea! My favorite coffee mug that I had for over 20 years has a tiny hole in the side and a few hairline cracks. I wrapped it up and put it in a box (I’m moving soon and couldn’t bear to throw it away) I will be looking for a kintsugi kit as soon as I unpack in my new place.

    4. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I tried to start my crochet headband/ear warmer last night but right as I finished the starting chain I realized I needed to do it with a different hook, so back to the very beginning again. I’ll try again tonight! Hoping I can get this one done soon so I can wear it to cover my stupid hair loss.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m halfway done with Jessica Long’s “Year of Birds” double hoop embroidery kit! I want to redo some of the summer flowers before moving to fall because I’m bad at woven wheels and the big ones didn’t turn out great.

      I’m also hoping to get to the craft store this weekend to buy some glow-in-the-dark thread for my next project

      1. Snell*

        Having only a passing familiarity with embroidery, by the name, I thought it sounded like a series of projects. Like, cute once-a-day origami or something. But for embroidery, once a month? Once every 3 months? I have no experience in how long you can expect an embroidery project to take, so it sounded like a super intense challenge piece. I looked it up, and it’s way less intense than I was imagining, also super cute. I think the autumn blackbirds are my fave pick.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yes, haha, it’s just the name of the pattern :) I debated between the winter and autumn stand-alone patterns for so long that the shop came out with this combo version and I thought it would be a fun way to try a double hoop!

    6. Dancing Otter*

      I’m working against a deadline to finish four quilts in time for our quilt show.
      Two just need a bit of finishing: labels, binding, and hanging sleeves.
      One is about half quilted, and will then need the same finishing steps. Those three don’t worry me.
      But I should never have entered the fourth. The top still needs to be basted before I can even start to quilt it.

  17. Loopy*

    I’ll be going up to Bar Harbor, ME, specifically to experience Acadia National Park with my dad in about a month. We arrive on Saturday and leave Thursday afternoon.

    Our goal is to experience nature and relax. I’d love recommendations if anyone’s familiar with trails suitable for someone with minor balance problems and who enjoys moderate hikes (strenuous/intense are not enjoyable for him these days). I’d love to get some views and get away from the crowds but while my dad has spent a lifetime hiking, due to some health reasons he can’t safely do to more intense ledge/iron loop trails.

    I’m also up for neat places to grab a bite in Bar Harbor. We don’t need to do the super busy touristy places as long waits and crowds aren’t what we’re looking to experience.

    I’ve definitely started my research but all recs, tips, suggestions for just about anything are welcome since this is our first time!

    1. Stitch*

      For Food: C-Rays, Cafe This Way. The Reading Room is expensive old school type place but I enjoyed it. I’d also try to get a reservation at Jordan Pond as the outside aspect is fun.

      2 Cats, in my experience is exactly what you don’t want. Super crowded and I didn’t think it was worth the wait.


      The Gorge trail up Mt. Cadillac is mostly stair like but there’s one more challenging scramble. It’s a nice shady hike and you could have someone meet you at the top so he could drive down.

      The Bubbles has a steep section so I’d avoid that trail as well.

      The Jordan Pond loop is definitely okay.

      A trail map I picked up there (specifically rated trails and had markings for harder sections. I think it was an official park map. Definitely pick up one of those and ask a park employee for recommendations.

      1. Stitch*

        I thought of one: you *Might* like Beech Mountain. I think this is a close call on how strenuous you are looking for, but my experience is all hikes on the West Side are much quieter. So look for West Side hikes.

        1. Loopy*

          Thank you! The west side hike tip is exactly the type of thing we are looking for. We value quiet, away from groups and road noise, and I’m always looking for any places off the beaten path we can achieve that.

          Thanks for the tip to avoid 2cats too, it was on my list but I’ll happily take it off knowing it will have both waits and crowds! My dad isn’t a foodie and I’m a lactose intolerant vegetarian….so I’m not looking for great seafood or fancy foods (most I can’t eat!)

          1. Stitch*

            Ah I don’t think there is anything vegetarian on the menu at C-Rays (lobster shack). Thrive Juice bar might be a good breakfast spot for you.

      2. darlingpants*

        The Asticou is on the west side of the island and is run by the people who used to run Jordan Pond House. They have a great balcony to eat pop tarts and drink cocktails on.

    2. Girasol*

      When I was there Dad sent me a birthday card with money and said “get a lobster.” The lobster place was out on the dock where the lobster boats come in. They boiled the chosen lobster right there and wrapped it in newspaper to serve it. There was a coleslaw and butter concession next door and picnic tables to eat on while watching the boats come in. Don’t know if the place is still there but it’s worth looking for.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you!!! This sounds like my dad’s speed, he isn’t a fancy food person but he appreciate fresh and good quality! I’ll try and find this.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Sounds like a lovely trip! I haven’t been that far up the Maine coast, so I can’t recommend anything in the area; the farthest I’ve been is to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay (which I heartily recommend, btw). Hope you have a wonderful time!

    4. MainahTips*

      If you are looking for manageable hikes that are not crowded, focus on the carriage roads. They are a massive network of wider, smooth trails all over the park. Some have ups and downs, but they are generally more gradual. As the name suggest, they were designed for carriages at the turn of the century. Today, it’s bikers and hikers who want something a little more chill than the five trails everyone does.

      Check the cruise ship schedule before you go into Bar Harbor. It’s not worth it on a day when there is a boat in town. There are a lot of other nice small towns in the area.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you! I didn’t even know cruise ships stopped there, that’s a fabulous thing to avoid. Also wouldn’t have thought of/known to look for the carriage roads.

      2. Once too often*

        Your user name reminded me of a sticker in a vehicle window:
        Bumpah Stickahs are for Cahs.

        Thanks for the grin.

    5. PassThePeasPlease*

      I went to Acadia 2 summers ago and did both of the Bubble trails with no prior hiking experience. They weren’t too strenuous though I can imagine balance issues would make some parts tricky but not impossible. Also they were always very far from the edge which I liked!

      I also highly recommend parking by the visitor center if you are driving in and taking the bus to the trail starts! We wasted SO much time driving our car through to get parking only to go back to the center and park and ride.

      1. Stitch*

        The Bubbles has one area where I had to wedge myself up a crack to get up. they could have changed it, however.

      2. Loopy*

        Thanks for the tip! Was this because there is very limited parking at specific trail heads?

        We are going the week prior to memorial day weekend and so I’m trying to figure out how much of the summer/nice weather crowds will already be there or if we may have a slightly easier experience due to timing.

        How frequently did the park and ride bus come through? Did you have to plan around it’s schedule significantly?

    6. FalafalBella*

      I have been going to Bar Harbor for over 40 years. Our hikes have gotten shorter and more gradual over the years and the hotels have gotten more luxurious (we started out camping in a tent! A few of my favorite activities- a walk to Bar Island (you have to check the tides so you can go at the proper time), Day Mountain, Beech Mountain (has a fire tower on the top), Wonderland Trail, Hunter’s Beach, and Thula Gardens. A wonderful restaurant in Southwest Harbor is Eat-a-Pita. It has excellent salads and many vegetarian options. I strongly encourage you to check out the TripAdvisor pages on Bar Harbor and Acadia. There are several wonderful locals (Bonnie M is one of the best) who give wonderful suggestions and detailed itineraries. You will absolutely love Acadia. It is our favorite place on Earth! It can still be rather cool in May/June so plan on pants and sweatshirts for during the day.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! I hadn’t seen any of those recs on the typical Top Ten lists, which is exactly why I am so glad I asked folks here!!

        My dad has lived in MA his whole life has never been and has always wanted to go. So this is a very exciting trip for us. We do a different hiking based trip every year. If he loves it maybe this will be our place for the rest of our trips!

    7. Mainer*

      In addition to good tips here, maybe take a day to go visit the Schoodic Peninsula. It’s much less busy than MDI.
      Also, I had a great walk around a pond at the land and water preserve one year. It’s a land trust property outside of Acadia.
      My tip to everyone visiting Maine is to check expectations when it comes to services. Check websites AND call businesses to confirm hours, etc.
      We have a terrible labor shortage (housing crisis plus oldest state plus covid). A lot of places are understaffed. In late May students and such aren’t available yet.
      Oh and in addition to talking to park rangers, check out maine trail finder for hiking ideas.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you for the tips. We’ll be sure to be extra considerate of the labor issues and courteous if it changes anything. We rent a house and cook in a bit so usually we are just looking for casual lunch and snack options and don’t go in with a food itinerary so we can be pretty flexible.

        Thanks for recommending Maine trail finder, I didn’t know about that!!!

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      Thank you for asking! Mrs. Hotey and I will be in Acadia the week after Labor Day and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve spent next to zero time on the East Coast, so it will be an adventure.

    9. Callie*

      I went to Acadia two years ago. The rangers should be able to help you find trails that are good fits for your fathers mobility needs. There are a lot of level or gradual incline and wide paths in the park. While she wasn’t with us in this trip, my daughter is a wheelchair user and there were lots of trails I could have taken her on.

      A couple of things to keep in mind.
      1. Jordan pond is SUPER popular. Try to get there as early as you can or later in the afternoon. We tried going mid day and the trail was packed. We couldn’t find parking.
      2. Cadillac mountain road is a separate timed entry ticket from the general park ticket. Pay attention to the time tickets are released if this is something you want to do- they go fast. There is a paved trail from the parking lot to the top. The rocks around the path are also fairly easy to walk over, too

      For food, there is a really cool bar called the Barnacle that had fantastic food. It is a former alley so it is pretty narrow and I think most of the seating was bar height chairs, but it was a pretty awesome experience. Down East Deli has great sandwiches and I think does boxed lunches to pick up in the mornings.

      Hope you have a great trip!

  18. Realtor Question*

    So I usually try to avoid doing business with friends or friends-of-friends because I’ve seen it go badly and don’t want to torpedo any relationships. But! I am starting to seriously consider getting a house, and I have a friend-of-a-friend who is a realtor. I have plenty of other good realtor recommendations, but I’m interested in going with her, because she is mid-30s like me, and also bought a house on her own. I’m not married/otherwise partnered, and so someone else who’s gone through that and Gets It is appealing to me. I’m not expecting other realtors to be like “oh, my poor sad spinster client,” but I have noticed that some people react to me doing things on my own with a “look at this sister doing it for herself!” attitude. It’s meant kindly, but it can get patronizing.

    I know house-buying can be very personal, so is this the sort of business transaction where having a pre-existing relationship and things in common with the person you’re working with can be helpful? Or is it better to have a more arms-length approach?

    1. Sloanicota*

      If she’s a competent real estate agent (there are some places during settlement that you may need competent advice and experience, or things can get tricky / you could end up spending money you shouldn’t have to) I’d much rather my money go to a friend than a stranger, personally. With today’s market and Red Fin etc, I didn’t need a whole lot from my realtor as a buyer. I think it matters more as a seller. And it’s fun to have someone you like and who gets you showing the houses. So I say go for it!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Sidenote, I bought my house as a single woman mid-thirties and nobody was weird about it. Maybe this varies by geography?

        1. Courageous cat*

          I wonder that, it seems kinda like that phenomenon too where single women of child-bearing age say they constantly get asked if they’re having kids/why not/get guilted about it/etc. I have never, not once in my life, have anyone care about my future-parent status. And I’m in the south where you might tend to see a more traditional mindset.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Buying a house as a solo woman (twice, 20s and 40s) didn’t generate any weirdness, but I’ve definitely been asked about kids! In multiple states/regions. One of the few things I’ve enjoyed about getting older is aging out of that.

        2. A313*

          My only issue came with the RE document where I was referred to initially as a “spinster.” Ugh!!!

      2. Realtor Question*

        I’ve gathered that she’s good at what she does, and the money going to her vs. a stranger makes sense. I do think I will need a more actively involved realtor because I am in a smaller city with a VERY competitive real estate market (thanks, every listicle that put my city as a best place to work remotely and priced out locals) and a lot of things don’t even make it to Redfin before they’re snapped up.

        And to you your second comment, in addition to being a smaller city it’s also a more conservative area where people get married/have kids young, and over the past few years there’s been an uptick in the “it’s so great that you do things independently!” comments. I may be worst-case-scenario-ing by assuming that would happen with this, but knowing someone would be blase about it is a plus!

        1. Angstrom*

          It might be good to say up front “I understand that there may be times that friend advice and realtor advice differ. I’m ok with that as long as you can make that distinction and be clear about which is which.”

    2. WellRed*

      I think it’s fine! I might advise you not to discuss the house buying process too much with the common friend and vice versa.

    3. Can't think of a funny name*

      I didn’t have a good experience using a friend but I didn’t realize originally that he had never bought a house himself and I think that matters a lot. He was useful for getting us appointments to see houses but that was it. I bought my house at 40 as a single woman (although I do have a boyfriend) but the house is 100% mine…I got a few questions about “why do you need such a big house” but other than that, most people didn’t seem to pay any attention to me buying the house alone.

    4. Courageous cat*

      I dunno, I went house-buying (well, condo-buying) for most of this spring at 36 and no one gave a shit. I personally do not think it matters

    5. Squirrel*

      I would maybe interview several agents before deciding. See who you click with and what they offer. Also I guess personally I would be really cautious about going with someone you know — it does sound appealing, and I would be tempted too, but if it goes wrong will it endanger your friendship with your mutual friend? Also will you feel less inclined to push back if your agent suggests something or pushes something you don’t like?

    6. Jackalope*

      I am well aware of the fact that anecdata is not always the most helpful, but here was my experience. We went with a Realtor that I was casual friends with, and for us it went really well. Part of the reason I was okay with that, though, is that he’d been in the field for a long time and had a fair bit of experience under his belt, and when we had our first meeting with him I felt really comfortable with his style (my spouse was fine either way). So that would be my thought is figure out what you’d want in a realtor and then make sure this person will meet those needs. Also, as someone else pointed out, don’t discuss the process with your mutual friend and keep said friend out of the middle and then even if it doesn’t work out it’s less likely to harm the friendship.

    7. Vistaloopy*

      My dad is a realtor, and we’ve worked with him on 2 house-buying/selling transactions. Both went really well and I felt comforted knowing I was working with someone I could casually text/call anytime with questions and who really had our best interests at heart. Of course these things can be true of working with a realtor you don’t know personally, but I liked having that extra layer of comfort/familiarity.

  19. Falling Diphthong*

    Recommendations for stories (books, films, TV shows) where you didn’t know where things were going to go? Sometimes I really loved the turn, sometimes the finish was less interesting than I’d hoped, but it stood out for its creativity.

    While home sick on Thursday I watched the first four episodes of Mrs. Davis on Peacock, in which a vigilante nun has a combative (but with bouts of cooperative) relationship with the all-controlling global AI. I really loved it, and have no idea what will happen next.

    In the evenings I’ve been watching Dispatches from Elsewhere with my husband, in which four strangers respond to odd flyers and find themselves pulled into an elaborate game. Or an elaborate something. The ending was just okay, but going into the last episode I sincerely had no idea what the ending would even be.

    Also seen in my favorite Black Mirror episode, 5.3, in which we are meditating on social media and electronic simulations giving us a thinner form of emotional support, and then it goes full Scooby Doo and We’re Havin’ A Heist.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Imposters (Bravo tv) was really fun with the twists. It’s about a con artist who seduces and marries people to steal their money, and her three ex-spouses/marks who find each other and team up to track her down.

      Dead to Me (Netflix) as well (although I’m not loving the third season). I can’t even really get into the premise without giving away the first good twist, but it’s a black comedy about two women who meet at grief counseling.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      Fingersmith has got to be one of the best examples.
      The Good Place also has a great twist.

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

        Wow, yeah. Not to spoil it, but *Fingersmith* was an entirely different novel from what I expected. Loved it.

        *The Watchmaker of Filigree Street* also took some unexpected turns, and I really enjoyed that as well.

    3. Double A*

      Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. In the end, each season has a coherent set of rules but it’s pretty impossible to guess what they’re going to be as you’re watching. May have ruined TV for me as since we finished it, I don’t want to watch anything else because it was so good everything else is a disappointment.

    4. Jessica*

      A Place of Execution, by Val McDermid. Excellent mystery novel that made me gasp out loud.

    5. Broken scones*

      Orphan Black is a fun watch if you’re into sci fi and thriller shows. And if you’re not, at least watch it for Tatiana Maslany who plays multiple characters throughout the show. Her acting skills are *chef’s kiss *

    6. Generic Name*

      Queen’s Gambit. The tv show (I just learned today there is a book, yippee!). I love that the plot didn’t go in the conventional direction that I assumed it would and was delighted with every turn.

    7. SBT*

      I’ve been really enjoying The Night Agent on Netflix! Seems like it matches what you’re looking for.

  20. Anon for this*

    Thoughts on Wegovy/Ozempic etc.

    I am eligible for these meds for weightloss in my country and can cover the cost. I have read a lot about them but I’m not sure what to do.

    Although I am pretty active, I like food too much and especially have a sweet tooth so I have been obese all my life. I don’t care about this for any reason other than health. I am now in my forties and my joints hurt, I am flirting with hypertension and have high cholesterol, am borderline T2A and I have a family history of heart disease on both sides. I want to change so I can stay well and age well.

    One thing I have read over and over is that these drugs shut down the part of your brain that thinks about food all the time – the bit that works better in people who don’t struggle with food. I’ve never read anything that I related to so much. I think a lot about food all the time and although I can often channel that into cooking nutritious meals, I am just so damn tired of fighting my brain on this every day. I would like to know what it feels like to treat food as fuel. I have been in therapy and I don’t think there’s anything else I can do with that to retrain my brain – it feels like that response is hard wired and the idea the meds could change that is wild and quiet exciting.

    However, I am worried about the long term effects of the medication, and also that I would need to stay on it for ever. I know many people are on medication permanently like insulin or antidepressants, but this worries me, like what if I can’t afford them any more or the supply runs out?

    I would be interested in other people’s perspectives and experiences, especially if you take the medication. Respectfully, I would rather not get into how I should embrace my body as it is – I like myself plenty, I am focusing on health and comfort (like not needing new knees before I’m 50) here. Thank you.

    1. Blue wall*

      I used ozempic for a few months. I didn’t like the injectable. I did lose some weight. I’m the past I found that certain supplements (insositol, chromium) have helped me with the food fixation. I went off the ozempic bc of the cost and needing to travel and not wanting to deal w the injectable element while traveling. Now I have a different insurance that no longer covers it. I did regain the weight, which I’m addressing now through food tracking and ramping up my exercise.

      1. MassChick*

        I’m curious – if chromium helped, why didn’t you continue? I’m asking about chromium because I’m familiar with it, would be happy hear your take on both. Thanks.

    2. PhyllisB*

      My oldest daughter is using this for weight loss. She’s lost weight, but her results are not as good as she hoped.
      The only advice I would give is to keep in mind that if you stop taking it and don’t change your habits, the weight will return.

    3. KatEnigma*

      I’m on Monjauro for my Type 2 diabetes. I really don’t like feeling nauseous most of the time, and if you read the fine print, the average weight loss is only 20 lbs. I mean, I can do that with 2 weeks of low-carb and yes, everyone says the weight comes back if you don’t stay on it forever.

      I take mine on a Monday, so I can actually enjoy food for Saturday/Sunday.

      And I AM 50, been obese basically all my life, and my knees are fine.

    4. marvin*

      I don’t have specific information about these medications, but I would be cautious about any weight loss drugs because there is so much financial incentive to offer them that they don’t always receive adequate scrutiny and very serious side effects can be dismissed. Doctors can also be weird in this area so I’d be prepared to do as much independent research as you can to be aware of the risks and benefits.

      This isn’t quite the same thing, but as a trans person, I often rely on the experiences of other trans people to consider the pros and cons of various medical treatments because it can be hard to get viable information from doctors. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some online forums for people to share their experiences about these medications, although you would of course need to use some discretion in how much to trust their perspectives. But it could provide some data.

    5. Barb*

      Ozempic since August and I’ve lost 80lbs and I’m not done yet

      Yes, it stops the thinking about food all the time and when I do eat I want a lot less

      I’m expecting to have to stay on it to keep the weight off. It’s not about “habits” but as you say, fighting your brain

      Good luck!

    6. DefinitiveAnn*

      In 2021 lost 80 lbs. on Rybelsus, an oral semaglutide, prescribed off-label by my MD for weight loss. Insurance covered it at the time because he said I was “pre-diabetic.” Insurance quit covering it for anything other than full-blown diabetes, and I changed insurances, and in 2022 I gained it all back. I am now paying out of pocket for Ozempic and trying to make it work (it’s $1000 for each dispense, and I’m trying to extend the dispenses for > 1 month with lower dosing). It does keep me from thinking about food, and I am full with a lot less.

      Main obstacle to success is the price and weed, which seems to override the brakes on food-seeking. And of course, if I stop taking it, I will just be hungry all the time again, weed or no weed.

    7. Qwerty*

      I know little about this drug, so am offering questions that might help you rather than answers. I’m using my previous internal debates on whether to try shiny new migraine drugs as my template. Feel free to disregard.

      1. Why would you need to stay on it forever? Do you mean that the weight will come back if you go off it or are there negative repurcussions to stopping the drug? I’m going to assume going forward that the effect is the weight coming back, but I have had drugs where the negative side effects stayed for a year after I tried them (Cola will never taste the same for me)

      2. How long have these drugs been mainstream? Has there been enough time that there is a consensus on how common/severe the long term side effects are? Or is it the long mystery list that all drugs have?

      3. Would this prevent diabetes from fully developing? Do you and your doctor have an alternative that you feel is just as viable as this drug for preventing diabetes? I emphasis viable so that the alternate is not just try harder at dieting.

      If you were to go on this drug for a set time frame of a couple years…
      4. Would you be able to address some of the underlying issues and get them to a better baseline? For example, reducing weight -> reduces joint issues -> allows for more exercise that doesn’t risk injury -> allows for building muscle -> increases metabolism -> slows down how much weight you’d gain back when off the drug

      5. Is there a chance that this could reset the food obsession? Part of it is natural, but I’m guessing part of it is also that you’ve *had* to be super conscious about food when attempting to manage your weight and that contributed to your brain getting wired into overdrive on the subject.

      6. Would shutting down your sweet tooth for a while help rewire your cravings? I have some family members who constantly think about food but they are crazy about veggies, which really mitigates the weight impact. When I get long stretches of being fed their delicious cooking, I start craving brussel sprouts rather than candy (I’m usually very focused on sweets) I know there’s data about rewiring cravings that is the basis for a lot of those phased diets, but not sure if that falls under the category of “normal” brain

      1. LG*

        These are excellent questions! I wish more people would consider caution and research before jumping on the latest drug bandwagon.

        1. NL*

          This is not directed at you, just a general observation: Ozempic and other drugs in its category have been extensively studied and are highly effective at controlling blood sugar. It’s a drug to treat diabetes. No one raised these questions about it until people realized it was also helping some people lose weight as a side effect.

          It seems like people hate the idea of something that actually might work for weight loss. It’s like we want weight loss to be a struggle so that we know that thin people are truly virtuous.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            No it’s because they are being given to people without that indication and so the side effect profile might be too much. I turned them down for me because I don’t think my depression would be helped and didn’t want to spend too much $$$

        2. Anon for this*

          As I believe I said in my post, I have done a lot of reading about these drugs and was seeking personal experience and opinions, so I am not sure what bandwagon you think I’m on. The post you were replying to was measured and helpful, as indeed has been the whole thread. I wish you hadn’t felt the need to add this dismissive and judgmental comment.

          Thank you to everyone else who has answered my question, your comments have been helpful and I still have a lot to think about. Right now I’m leaning to no, but they’re not off the table if yet another go at changing habits doesn’t fly.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I have no personal experience with Ozempic but I took naltrexone for another reason and found it also worked for food cravings. Like, I would be hungry and eat but I didn’t have urges to eat dessert for pleasure. I know they make a Wellbutrin/naltrexone combo that’s approved for weight loss so that’s another option that’s oral and cheaper you could look into with your doctor (or anyone reading could discuss with their doctors).

  21. london bridges*

    I’m going to london in a couple months with some family. we’re doing mostly touristy things as this is the first time we’re going.

    my aunt is getting an airbnb but none of us are sure which neighborhood to stay in. looking online just gives us hotel recommendations which is useless. so i’m turning to y’all. which area should we stay in? middle to less expensive areas are preferred. we’re likely to spend equal parts walking + using public transportation.

    thanks in advance!!

    1. Your local cdn*

      We stayed in Earls Court/Fulham and loved it! We went with a hotel but liked the area for having lots of food options for the evenings, and it was close to multiple lines on the tube.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        I’ve previously stayed at a vacation rental in Earls Court and second this recommendation for the exact same reasons. I would also consider South London such as Southwark or Bermondsey.

    2. Buni*

      Something around Victoria Park? Lots of lovely canal walks, the park itself and the village-y feel of Broadway Market but loads of public transport connections into the centre.

      Otherwise the bit north of Kings Cross has been seriously tarted up recently and has some lovely, also canal-y bits.

      1. Buni*

        Forgot; if you literally just want somewhere to sleep & leave every day then Stratford is inoffensive, way cheaper and a major transport hub with links to everywhere. The Olympic park and surrounding canal is quite nice.

    3. Former Londoner*

      I’ve not lived in London for about 10 years now but I would the recommendation for Southwark (ideally near Borough Market or closer to the river). Other places you might consider are Little Venice near Paddington – great travel links, atmospheric and really walkable – and Shoreditch, which is decently close to good transport links and is (or at least was) a fun neighbourhood.

      1. Buni*

        I dearly love both Little Venice and Shoreditch but I could barely afford to buy a sandwich in either, be warned…

  22. Your local cdn*

    looking for travel recs – I will be visiting Los Angeles for a few days in early May and was looking for hidden gems/activities that anyone recommends?

    1. Purple m&m*

      I know it sounds cheesy, but I really enjoyed the La Brea Tar Pits. There’s an actual dig inside & museum.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I LOVED the La Brea Tar Pits! Very unique, and fascinating.

        There’s an art museum right next door that was also good–when we were there I remember they had an exhibit on painted screens, one of which had adorable white puppies in the white snow. “White puppies in the snow” is not an easy choice to recreate.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Me too; it’s so cool. The museum is really good and the park setting is a nice oasis in the busy city.

      3. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, the tar pits is a unique spot. Museum is small, but it’s solid. It’s also a three-fer, as you can go to the LACMA next door and then the Academy Museum next next door.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      So many recs.

      Food recs, west to east (and, yes, some of these are not technically in LA) …:

      Royal Macaron (looks dated but has amazing macarons)
      Tokyo Central Market (giant supermarket but has a great food court attached)
      Edelweiss Chocolates (don’t be put off it’s in Beverly Hills—parking is easy)
      Fanny’s (attached to the Academy Museum, also worth checking out)
      Kochi (udon place near the Largo)
      Langer’s Delicatessen (#19 is famous, but it’s all good)/li>
      Document Coffee Bar (off the beaten path coffee shop in K-Town)
      Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice (in Hawaii, too, but this is the mainland location)
      Clark Street Bakery (baked goods amazing, food not so great)
      Porto’s Bakery (famous but for a reason)
      Zhengyalov Hatz (serves only one Armenian dish but really well)
      The Oinkster (unpretentious burger place; oddly has a great veggie burger, too)
      Casa Bianca Pizza Pie (pizzas bad but pastas all amazing)
      Eagle Rock Italian Bakery & Deli (get sandwiches here)
      El Huarache Azteca (best agua frescas)
      Tacos Sinaloa (late night taco truck)
      Noodle Street (hand-pulled noodles)
      George’s Burger Stand (solid burger spot)
      Ji Rong Peking Duck (must make a reservation for your duck, not just to dine)
      Medan Kitchen (Indonesian food-to-go mart)
      Sushi Kisen (solid sushi spot that isn’t cheap terrible sushi and isn’t over-the-top-expensive omakase)
      Kareem’s Mediterranean (best falafel ever, and part of the Little Arabia neighborhood in Anaheim, not far from Disneyland)
      Moulin (excellent croissants, multiple locations in Orange County)
      Hello Kitty Cafe (a bit far… in Irvine, but it’s the only Hello Kitty Cafe in America, as far as I know… lots of cute stuff, and you can do an afternoon tea)

      Other recs:

      Santa Monica beach (go south of the pier… stay far away from the pier)
      Getty (free museum, great art, great views)
      Museum of Jurassic Technology (very weird museum, great if you like weird stuff)
      The Ripped Bodice (romance-themed bookstore but has YA and kids books, too)
      Academy Museum (if you like how movies are made, go here)
      Largo at the Coronet (see a local comedy show; it’s different when it’s local; very cute venue)
      Japanese American National Museum (great museum in Little Tokyo)
      The Huntington (beautiful garden to walk around)
      LA Arboretum (another beautiful garden to walk around)

      Also, you’ll probably rent a car, but don’t be afraid to take the LA rail around. You really get to see the city in a different way, and you can go as far as you want (including transfers) for only $1.75 each way.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Not really hidden but a favorite is Amoeba Music. It’s a record store near Hollywood and Vine.

      Little Tokyo is also pretty cool. Look up Discover Los Angeles “A walking tour of Little Tokyo.” My music friends and I went there in 2012 and I had the best teriyaki chicken bento of my life. Lots of cute stores — there was one that was entirely Hello Kitty, but I didn’t get to go into it. Next time, if it’s still there!

    4. vulturestalker*

      Where in LA will you be staying (approximately)? And can you give an idea of what you do or don’t like doing? The city is really really enormous, and I have lots of recs but wouldn’t want to suggest something 2 hours from where you’ll be.

      That said, off the top of my head:
      – Hollywood farmer’s market on Sundays
      – The Iliad bookstore
      – Various hikes in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains
      – Excellent food in Koreatown, Little Ethopia, and so many other places
      – Descanso gardens is really pretty!

    5. Atheist Nun*

      If you have a car and the capacity to drive on twisty roads, I highly recommend a meal at the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon. It is magical.

    6. mreasy*

      Hollywood Forever cemetery is a wonderful visit, and I always try to make it to The Last Bookstore when I’m in town. If you’re a record store person, Amoeba really is all it’s cracked up to be, and if you have the budget to splurge on one fabulous meal, Musso & Franks is a truly marvelous “old Hollywood” feeling experience (and the food is tremendous).

    7. Cotton Candy*

      If you like art, the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena is fantastic. I prefer it by far to the Getty. Pasadena is also a great place for retro shops, including record stores and used bookstores, or at least it used to be. Haven’t been in a while.

      The La Brea Tar Pits are amazing. A bit of prehistory right in the middle of a modern, busy city? It will blow your mind.

      Please come back and tell us where you went and what you enjoyed/didn’t enjoy. So many people get travel recs here but we never hear how it turned out. Have fun!

    8. California Dreamin’*

      It’s so dependent on where you’re staying and how much driving you want to do… it can’t really be overstated how huge and spread out the LA area is. If you wanted to go to the beach (it’ll be too cold for the water but would be nice for soaking up sun) we like Annenberg Community Beach House. It’s on a nice stretch of beach in Santa Monica with a boardwalk you can stroll on, they have nice clean facilities, and there’s a restaurant (I think it’s called Back on the Beach or something) where you can sit at an outdoor table with your feet in the sand, one of California’s great pleasures if you ask me! Paradise Cove is a smaller beach up in Malibu, but they also have such a restaurant (Paradise Cove Beach Cafe.)
      La Brea Tar Pits is a good recommendation. I take it for granted having been on many a field trip there as a kid and as a chaperone, but it would be fun to visit for the first time I think.
      If you’re based further east, Descanso Gardens is beautiful. Porto’s Bakery in Glendale is renowned. Also, because of Glendale’s high concentration of Armenian folks, we have a lot of great Middle Eastern food if that’s not something you normally have access to. Raffi’s is a local favorite.
      Try to find some good tacos. Enjoy your trip!

    9. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      LA Native.

      The Autry Museum of the American West is great. The Getty (both the Villa in Malibu and the Center in Westwood) isn’t “hidden”, but definitely worth it, as is the whole museum complex in Exposition Park (Natural History, California Science Center, etc…)

      Again, not “hidden”, but the Museum of Tolerance. Though it’s a very heavy experience.

      Also on the hidden gem list is the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

      One thing to be aware of, if you go to Hollywood thinking it’s like the movie “La La Land”, prepare to be highly disappointed. Hollywood itself is a dump.

      I’d also skip the Universal Studio tour, it’s more of a theme park than a studio tour. The Warner Brothers tour, on the other hand is much nicer.

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      if you’re up for it, the LA Conservancy dues walking tours. There is a lot of beautiful buildings to see, including the Bradbury which was a treat for me (it was a very popular filming location, especially in the 80s.)

      Also, a plug for the Last Bookstore in LA (that’s the name). not only is it one of the last really good independent bookstore (like Powells or Tattered Cover), but if you go on a weekend, there may be a farmer’s market outside.

    11. FrontlinER*

      LA county native here.

      A lot of this depends on where you are, like others have stated, LA itself is huge, and the county is even bigger. You will need a car to hit everything on my list.

      I recommend the Huntington library over the Arboretum for a first timer. While I love both, the Huntington’s Chinese and Japanese gardens are showstoppers.
      If you’re in downtown LA, Olvera street is pretty neat and has authentic Mexican food. LA city hall is within walking distance and you can go up to the observation deck for free. The Last Bookstore in downtown is also really cool.
      Skip Hollywood and the walk of Fame. It’s not worth it at all, I promise. I also second skipping the universal studios tour as well.
      If you can, and have the luxury of having a car and the time to drive, the best beaches imo are in Orange County. Newport, Laguna, and a day trip to San Clemente are my top three.
      Be mindful of traffic. It can sometimes take 2 hours to go 10 miles especially in downtown. GPS will be your friend.

  23. Rule#39*

    Had an NCIS rerun on in the background a while back, show was from the first season after Gibbs left. Perked up when Agent Parker said he had to complete his TPS reports and McGee corrected him, it’s DBS reports, not TPS. Okay, they sound alike, makes the point Parker’s the new guy learning the lingo, etc. But later, TPS reports is said a couple more times and Gibbs’s Rule 39 pops in my head: There is no such thing as a coincidence.

    Makes me wonder if a show writer is a reader here???

    If so, how about doing a shout-out to the AAM community by naming an annoying one-off character Fergus? Name would not be out of line as there’s been Leroy Jethro, Tobias, Phineas, Leon and Alden.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      TPS report is a joke from the film Office Space. It didn’t originate at AAM.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        And “Agent Parker” was in the film Office Space.


        In the NCIS episode “Starting Over”, Gary Cole’s Agent Parker mentions his least favorite paperwork being TPS reports. When McGee corrects him telling him they’re “TBS reports”, he says, “Ah, old habits, weird”, then takes a sip of coffee, paying homage to his Office Space character, Bill Lumbergh.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          it’s funny: i saw office space when it came out and enjoyed NCIS, but only “recently” watched West Wing. I immediately disliked one politician because it was that same guy.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        … Up until this comment I had been assuming they were some sort of thing very common in certain fields, and I’m just not in those fields plus I freelance, so I never had to write one.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          They are! They are Test Procedure Specification Reports. It’s a thing for electronics development, apparently.

    2. Elle Woods*

      I recall seeing a story shortly after that episode aired which mentioned the choice for Agent Parker to confuse TPS reports with TBS (transbureau synopsis) was intentional.

  24. Listing*

    I’m looking for shopping list app suggestions, mainly for grocery and household items. I’d like an app that has a default list of items you can select from, but also allows you to add your own items. Not one where you have to type in the item each time you want to put it on your list. I’d also like to be able to track prices in the app.

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. WellRed*

      My specific grocery store delivery app does the buy again thing. I feel like if you want prices, you have to go with one pertaining to a specific store.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I use Google Keep because it’s shareable, so my husband and I can both update it and have it sync. It’s basically just a note app but we have a saved checklist with all the things we buy regularly, and then add and delete other things as needed. So we had to create the default list the first time, but it’s there now for good.

    3. TakingNotes*

      I use an app called Out Of Milk. It has a lot of features! You can set it up to auto-categorize things. I like that I can, for example, create a list item called “Olive Oil ($26.47/gal at Trader Joe’s).” When I get low on olive oil I begin to type “olive…” into the app; it auto-suggests my item and automatically sorts it into my Trader Joe’s sublist, and with the price front and center I can make a price comparison if I’m at another store, or to assess the value of a sale.

      1. I take tea*

        I used to love Out of Milk, but it’s not available in Europe anymore, sadly. But it had the features you asked for, as far as I remember, plus you can share it with others, very practical.

    4. Missb*

      I use Shopper. I have lists by stores. I start typing one item and it pops up, then I select quantity. I update the prices on the items occasionally.

    5. Vanessa*

      I love Cozi!
      There is a free level. You can check the item but not erase it from the list. Or you can delete all checked items. You can have separate lists. For instance I have Costco, grocery and target. You can share with other people in the house.
      But here is the best thing…. There is a recipe section. You can transfer in recipes really easily. And then you can send the recipe to the shopping list!
      There is also a calendar function so you can coordinate events with household members.
      There is a premium version too but I haven’t gotten that far.

    6. Callie*

      I use Pepperplate. It will create shopping lists from a recipe. So if you have staples you buy weekly, I’d just add a recipe named and put your regular items to that list. I’ve done this for my regular breakfast and lunch items.

  25. Stitch*

    Allergy talk?

    I’ve been taking my meds, using peroxide cleaner on my contacts, running air filters and my allergies are still rough. Weather said this was the highest pollen count since before I moved here (Mid-Atlantic). It’s bad!

    My whole roof is tinted green with all the pollen.

    Any comisserations or tips?

    1. Elle*

      My secret weapon is sinus rinses. I’ve been doing one every morning for the past few months. It literally cleans out your nasal passages. Very helpful so far this year and I hope I’m not jinxing myself.

    2. PX*

      I once heard a friend recommend using vaseline or a similar type product around your nose and even in it. Essentially its a barrier method, all the pollen sticks to it and doesnt enter your system.

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      that’s a bummer. I wash out my nostrils with saline and I have good masks for outside, and I take Flonase. I should have asked what your symptoms are lol

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This year is very bad– and early! No tips, because it sounds like you’re doing what you can. We moved back to the area in 2019 and my allergies got so bad my eyeballs were swollen. I didn’t even know eyeballs could swell. I wore my glasses more often than usual until they righted themselves. If your eyes get really bad, call your optometrist for drops.

      But yeah. It’s rough out there.

    5. Manders*

      I take Zyrtec every morning, which helps some. But this week I discovered it helps a whole lot if I take the pill around 3 or 4 AM (I usually get up to use the restroom around then). When I actually wake up at 6 or 7 AM, I don’t spend the whole morning coughing/sneezing/blowing my nose.

    6. Maggie*

      Put your clothes in the washer after coming in, wash hair daily before getting into bed, wash bedding extra, azelastine nasal spray works wonders for me, Zyrtec and xyzal work better than others for me

    7. Generic Name*

      I’ve had terrible pollen allergies my whole life. Two things helped me most. 1-moving to a dry climate, 2-Flonase.

    8. Chaordic One*

      You’ve gotten good sound advice here. Using a neti-pot or other saline sinus rinse is helpful in removing the snot. (My theory is that it also leaves behind a thin layer of salt that prevents irritants from bothering you.) If you find the pot to be awkward to use, consider the Neil-Med Sinus Rinse kit with its little plastic squeeze bottle, they wear out after 4 or 5 months, but they’re still very good. Then after your sinuses have dried, a squirt of sinus spray such as Flonase. (Most stores carry the generic equivalent of Flonase and it is quite a bit cheaper than the brand name.) Then, when you have to, break down and go with OTC medications.

      I visited an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor, was tested for allergies and then underwent immunotherapy for 2 years where I received allergy shots. I ran to the clinic once a week during my lunch hour, got the shot and waited around in the doctor’s office for half an hour to make sure I didn’t have a bad reaction, and then went back to work. Fortunately the clinic was close to my workplace and I could get there in about 5 to 10 minutes.

      The shots didn’t do anything for my food allergies or allergies to animal dander, but it made a world of difference in dealing with seasonal environmental allergies. It has been several years now since I’ve had the shots, and they do seem to be wearing off a bit, but I’m still in a much better place than before the shots and I don’t need to take preventative steps or OTC medications nearly as often as I did. Before the shots I took OTC medicines daily and now maybe only once or twice a month.

    9. mreasy*

      Awful here in NYC too. I’m doing neti pot once or twice a day, as well as prescription azelastine plus OTC Zyrtec and still getting hit! Pollen is like, in pools all over our sidewalks (love my tree-lined neighborhood…most of the year).

    10. Double A*

      Just commiseration. My 2 year old son came down with a rash and super swollen eyes yesterday so it looks like he inherited his dad’s bad allergies. We’ve got him on kid’s Zyrtec but he just wants to play outside in all the allergy triggers. Just gonna be doing a ton of baths and clothing changes this spring.

    11. PassThePeasPlease*

      Xyzal is my savior now and in the fall! I’ve tried a bunch but it’s the only on that works consistently. The layer of pollen this year seems more noticeable and I’m waiting to have a bad spurt but so far so good…

    12. Five4Five*

      Please don’t overlook Covid – latest variant, XBB1.16, has pink eye like symptoms and can be mistaken for allergies.

    13. Tea and Sympathy*

      Many years ago, on the advice of my ENT, I reluctantly started putting on a mask and glasses anytime I went outdoors in the spring. I went from biweekly visits to the ENT to 0-1 visit. Also, take a shower and wash your hair and change clothes as soon as you come in from outside if you have extreme symptoms. And use a humidifier when you sleep. Flonase helped me, but I was in the tiny percentage who experienced joint pain, and had to stop using it.

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

      I swear by the Zaditor allergy eye drops. They really stop my eyes from itching and even seem to help calm down my itchy/runny nose (to be clear, I only put then in my eyes, and that alone helps with the nose symptoms too).

      1. Imtheone*

        Me too.

        Also good is Nasalcrom nasal spray (non steroid, OTC).
        I had to mail order it this year. It’s very safe, but has fallen by the wayside. Takes about two weeks to become effective.

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Mask. Seriously, wear a mask outside. Wash your face and hands when you come in and maybe change clothes, change sheets frequently and pillowcases more often than the sheets, shower in the evenings. An air filter can help, you can make a cheap one with a box fan and a hepa furnace filter. Neti pot or similar help a lot of people as well. For eye allergies, there’s a variety of eye drops so try different ones.

      I like the neti pot but I can’t use it much, I get the saline in my ears. Pataday which is one of the newer eye drops doesn’t work as well for me, but I’ve been told for the people it does help its really good.

    16. anxiousGrad*

      Wash your hands and blow your nose as soon as you come inside. Even if your nose isn’t stuffy or running by some chance, it will help to get the pollen out.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        Mask up! I used to cough and sneeze for hours after mowing, no problems since I started wearing a mask to do it. I also find I can go into shops I avoided before because of their heavily scented candles/air fresheners etc, usually all by the entrance – I think I am a permanent convert to mask wearing now. No hay fever, no colds.
        Wiping a damp cloth over your face and hair when you come home, changing your clothes, and using a fresh pillowcase every night – all worth trying. Pillows are a terrible repository of all sorts of gunk- if you can add a towel under your pillowcase and then wash that weekly, that is another ‘barrier’ solution worth trying.

  26. Sparkle*

    Not sure if anyone can help me here, but this is a community of super smart people, and I was hoping for some scripts! I am engaged to marry my perfect match, who happens to be white, while I am a black woman. His family is always kind when they see me (occasionally overboard, as if to convince me of their tolerance, but truly nice people who I like, and who like me) but there is something they do that drives me insane- several times when I come to a large gathering of family, someone inevitably puts their hands in my hair without permission. This is far more likely to happen when I have braids or some other kind of “visibly ethnic” hair. I hate allowing it, because it doesn’t feel true to me, and just kind of makes me feel like I’m being subservient and getting walked over. But, I can’t seem to find the right thing to say- people frequently assume I must be angry when I am trying to be direct, and as a result, I am very indirect. Fiance is angry at them for me and wants to say something to one of the worst offenders, but I.. just don’t know what to do or say. Any ideas for soft scripts to start with? Do I have to be direct? Just ugh.

    1. Stitch*

      I absolutely think your fiance should say something. Let him handle this. What you’re experiencing unfortunately isn’t uncommon and it’s definitely wrong.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes! It doesn’t have to be a huge confrontation. Your fiancee (since this is his family member) should simply contact the worst events and say something like “OP is way too nice to bring this up, but can I ask you to please not touch her hair when we see you next week? It’s a pretty common mistake that people who don’t know braids (or whatever) make* and it can be pretty uncomfortable. Thank so much.”

        * IMO it’s probably not worth trying to explain “microaggression” at this point and risk losing the point, which is “stop doing this one thing.” This is simple request, people can easily do it just because they were asked to. You *could* send along an article or something, but I’d save it for anything that happens if this polite and direct request is not respected – at which point I’d be ready to go nuclear.

        1. MsOctopus*

          This picture book is pretty charming! Maybe gentler than an article (though I suppose since it’s for kids it could come off as condescending?)
          I agree that getting deep into microaggressions may become derailing, but for the kind of white person who (thoughtlessly) doesn’t realize their actions are part of a larger pattern… it might wake them up a bit to see that this is enough of a “thing” that people write books about it?

        2. Sparkle*

          This is great, thank you. Somehow when he offered to speak to his aunt, who has done this several times, I imagined it would have to be contentious, but you’re right, it can just be framed as giving information. I told him I didn’t need him to do it for me, but all these responses have convinced me that it would probably be received better from him than from me- and that it has to be done. I’m so accustomed to sacrificing my comfort for everyone else that it feels unnatural to make a fuss. (I’m working on this- hello, therapy)

          1. Observer*

            Please DO let him do this for you – and don’t worry if it becomes contentious.

            There are two reasons here. One is that YOU deserve basic respect. And putting hands on you is not that.

            But also, think about the possibility of kids and of being able to introduce any of your friends or family members to you IL family. Now, setting a boundary for yourself is no guarantee that these people will learn a lesson for others. But it does tend to help, and does make it easier to set those other boundaries if necessary.

        3. Observer*

          but can I ask you to please not touch her hair when we see you next week? It’s a pretty common mistake that people who don’t know braids (or whatever) make* and it can be pretty uncomfortable. Thank so much.”

          This makes me very uncomfortable, as does the suggestion below to frame it as something people might not realize is “rude in Black culture”.

          I don’t think that either statement is true, and they are far too soft. It really minimizes the problem. This is NOT Sparkle’s “quirk”; it’s not something that is unique to Black culture (although even if it were it would be important to respect it); it’s not even about “not knowing braids” etc since this doesn’t only happen with braids.

          I can see the instinct to ask, pretty please, for common courtesy. And if someone decides to do it that way because they have good reason to believe that it will be more successful, I’m not going to tell them that they have to do it differently. But I think it’s important to start from a clear understanding that this is absolutely a minimization you are choosing for your benefit rather than a reflection of reality.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        I totally agree your fiance should address it with the offending relative(s). He can just say “hey, you don’t touch anybody else’s hair. Stop touching Sparkle’s hair.”
        He could also address it when it happens, like “whoa, why are your hands in Sparkle’s hair? That’s super weird!”

        And in general, folks should be keeping their hands off each other anyway!

      3. Double A*

        Yes fiance should say something!! Seriously one of the first points of awareness for any white person who wants to be slightly aware of how to interact with non-white people is “Don’t touch touch their hair or even ask.” This is soooo basic.

        I would ask your fiance to learn about this phenomenon specifically (I’d he isn’t already aware) and then talk to his family about it. This is gateway anti-racism; hopefully learning about it will open his family to deeper and more meaningful anti-racism.

        1. Observer*

          This is gateway anti-racism;

          If you mean not touching, I have to disagree. I would class it as “Don’t be a racist jerk 101” or “Wasn’t raised by monkeys politeness level”.

          Because either they think they can touch anyone whenever they want (raised by monkeys) or they think that Black people are an exception to the rule (racist jerk).

      4. Lady Danbury*

        This times a million. I’m a fellow Black woman and unfortunately this is a common microaggression that drives me crazy! Let fiance talk to the biggest offender privately, maybe using the analogy of ppl touching a pregnant woman’s belly w/o permission if that’s something that you think would resonate.

        1. Sparkle*

          It’s completely insane. And then you try to address it and you’re the overly sensitive monster making some 70 year old white lady cry- thee worst. all these comments have definitely convinced me that I should take him up on his offer to handle it for me.

          1. Observer*

            Oh, boo hoo!

            Not to you, but the “poor” 70yo who you “made cry”.

            The only exception is someone is genuinely dealing with something like dementia. But other than that, I don’t care how old you are. You don’t get to say or do whatever you want regardless of how utterly rude it is. And you don’t EVER get to tell someone that they are “overly sensitive” because they don’t want people just touching them. Even (or especially!) because “I’m just curious”!

            I’m glad you’re working with a therapist on your need to make everyone comfortable at your expense. But in the meantime, I hope hearing that others (including white people) strongly believe that you’re only expecting baseline respect, nothing special or overly-difficult, will make it easier for you to advocate for yourself, and to let others, like you fiance, advocate for you. You deserve it!

    2. PX*

      Ack. This is one of those where I’m like, you just have to get comfortable making other people uncomfortable because otherwise you’re sacrificing your own wellbeing.

      For me, the key is be firm and direct when it happens in the moment “(Please) Dont touch my hair” but tone (ugh, another thing Black people are penalised excessively for) is also key here. I’ve found a good tip is to say it while smiling, in a pleasant, but very clear voice (dont soften it!) and use body language as well (as in physically recoil/move away from people who do this).

      In terms of handling it after, you can pivot and move the conversation on to anything else (“So how about that sportsball result!”) or if people are inclined to try and push it (“But why not?! I’m so curious! I just want to know what it feels like!”) a simple “Its inappropriate” or “Because I asked you not to so respect that please” is all you need to say.

      I would also delegate your fiance to be on “explain why its rude and racist” duty because we all know white people listen better to other white people than if you tried to do it.

      1. Observer*

        if people are inclined to try and push it (“But why not?! I’m so curious! I just want to know what it feels like!”) a simple “Its inappropriate” or “Because I asked you not to so respect that please” is all you need to say.

        How would “Because I’m not a doll” or the like land, do you think?

        It’s a line I’ve used broadly with my children (and now grandchildren) when trying to get them to stop touching / poking / prodding others. With my kids it’s mostly come up with babies, but it’s something that seems to encapsulate the whole problem.

    3. LG*

      My automatic response to unwanted touching is to pull away immediately. I would say “please don’t touch my hair” which is simple and straightforward. However, you’re dealing with oblivious people here (cause WTF makes someone think they can do this?) so yes, allow your fiancé to say something, if that’s easier.

    4. fposte*

      Oof. I gasped.

      I definitely agree with getting fiance to be the one to talk to his family if possible. But I also think that it might be particularly effective, assuming that they’re game to improve, if he can take the approach of making them insiders–turning them into people who not only won’t stick their hands in your hair but will make sure none of their friends do either. “Here’s a way to make Sparkle feel welcomed and included and me feel understood and respected” may be more long-term successful for the relationship than “WTF is wrong with you, don’t do that,” however justified the latter is. I don’t know if you’re prepared to go this far right now, but if you and he have kids, they’re going to have biracial grandchildren. Will has parents want seemingly kindly white people to grab their grandchildren’s hair? I’m betting that’s a no.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Agree with everyone else that your fiance should handle this with the repeat offenders, since he hopefully knows them well enough to know what they’re most likely to respond to (and then he can also handle any shitty responses without it harming you).

      Then have a default response for when it happens – you CAN be direct but it sounds like you want to soften it, so maybe something like pulling away with a smile and saying “oops, I just had this done and want it to last” (even if that’s not true and touching it wouldn’t mess it up – if they’re generally nice and doing this “admiringly” the idea they could ruin it might be effective).

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    6. Generic Name*

      I would ask your fiancé to have a conversation with them. If they are truly as nice and good as they seem, they’ll stop.

    7. UCB*

      The golden rule of family dynamics, which goes double for anything ‘tricky’ is he deals with his family, you deal with yours. You don’t need to do anything, he does. It’ll be a much easier and more effective message if he delivers it before you next see them. Then everyone can maintain the polite pretence that no issue ever existed. Also, get him to rope someone(s) in to be on guard for it and say something if anyone does it. Pick the person in his family known for being direct.

    8. KatEnigma*

      If your fiance wants to talk to them, let him do so. Just encourage him to do it before you see them next- so not in the moment when he’s angry and you are stressed.

      Or you can do it. Whoever should just frame it as “BTW, I realize you probably didn’t know this, but it’s really rude in black culture to touch people’s hair without permission. I/Sparkle haven’t wanted to hurt your feelings, but please stop.”

    9. So not using my real name for this.*

      Can you get a spray bottle?

      This is 2023; it is ridiculous that people don’t know that you don’t touch other people without permission, preferably only by invitation. And that given History, uninvited touch has additional weight for black people.

      I would say the it is perfectly right of you to snap loudly at the person rudely touching you “Stop that’s rude. Didn’t anyone ever teach you that it’s bad manners to paw at other people?” But I realize that there are at least a million reasons (most, if not all, of which are unfair) why you are choosing not to do that.

      So all that being said, here are two hopefully useful suggestions.

      Is there someone else in the family that you are close to and who feels like a strong smart ally? Preferably a respected elder in the family. Could you ask that person to educate the possibility redeemable offender/s? I have had good luck with the “Of course I know YOU aren’t racist, but X is something racists are doing now and I would hate for other people see you doing X and thinking badly of you.” approach.

      Can you tell ‘amusing anecdotes’ of racist behavior that ‘other people’ experienced and make it very clear in the story what behaviors were racist?

      For what it is worth, I am a white woman and my partner is neither. While we have occasionally used those strategies and others; We have also just stopped associating with certain sections of my extended family (except for weddings, funerals and similar that I take an elderly parent too.). It wasn’t hard, and we never really had a conversation with any extended family. The thing is, people that are racist,usually are bigots in general and obnoxious in a million other ways. So lots of extended family are happy to do smaller group things where we just don’t invite the racists/jerks. I want to make it very clear that it is NOT a ‘sacrifice on my part’ to not hang out with jerks/racists, nor would it be for you fiancee.

      The timeline of all of this is something you may not have considered; My partner and I worked hard to educate the educatable and excise the uneducatable before the wedding. We knew we would be inviting lots of people who experience discrimination regularly and didn’t want them to have to do so at our wedding.

      Congratulations on your engagement and best wishes for the future.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Miss Manners always recommends reacting to unwanted touching by as loud a yelp and as visible a flinch as you can convincingly pull off. Followed up by something like, “Oh, please don’t!”

      Nice people aren’t going to keep doing something that obviously startles or pains / distresses you. And if they keep doing it, they aren’t as nice as you’re giving them credit for.

    11. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Do they seem to be a family that incorporates physical touch as a form of communication?

      My family is “high touch,” so if my sister’s wife reached out & stroked my hair, it wouldn’t phase me at all. However, if someone in my partner’s family even side-hugged me, I’d be squicked out immediately!! Both families are almost exclusively white, for context.

      Do you get the sense that these are “colorblind” people who would be open to education & correction? Or is this more like Aunt Margie just loooooooves your braids SO MUCH & just haaaaaas to touch them & goes on & on about how amaaaaaaazing they are to everyone who will listen?

      As a white person in an almost exclusively white family, I can say we have not done well at adapting our culture (including communication styles) to be inclusive of new family members from different backgrounds. We’re getting somewhat better about telling Aunt Margie her behavior is inappropriate and to knock it off already.

    12. I Lost the Mustard.*

      I am a white woman. But I was just having a talk with my sister about how most women dislike having their hair touched. Our cousin got reported at his job for touching a woman’s hair.
      I would let my fiancé tell his family about it if I were you. Less embarrassment all the way around I think.

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

      I hate this so much for you. I think there are many options for friendly-but-firm catchphrases you can employ if this happens again. Channel your inner kindergarten teacher/librarian/museum docent and go for a bright, authoritative, “Enjoy with your eyes, not with your hands!” Say it over and over until it becomes a catchphrase. If you want to soften it by making it more folksy, maybe throw in a “Call me Mona Lisa, because you can look but not touch!”

    14. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      What everyone else has said. BTW, your fiance is a keeper for having your back!

    15. Jeasi*

      In the moment you can also say “hey in my family we ask before we touch one another. I’d appreciate it if you asked before you put your hands in my hair”. Said very warmly of course

      Yes your partner should remind his family members too

      1. Jessica*

        I’d avoid the “ask permission first” kind of language if the answer will always and forever be NO. Yes, the nonconsensuality was the point, but since they’re already failing, I’d focus on how you do want them to behave (Don’t do it, not Ask first).

    16. Observer*

      As the others say, let your Fiance handle this to some extent. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean you cannot ALSO say something. And in the moment, it’s very reasonable to say something like “Please don’t touch me.” If you sound angry, so be it. After all, being angry is very reasonable response to egregious boundary crossing.

      Don’t explain or justify. Just “please don’t touch” And if people start “explaining” or going in the “I just blah blah” it’s STILL please don’t touch.

      I’m glad to hear that you fiance has your back on this. And how the rest of the family reacts to some basic boundary setting here will give you some really good information.

    17. MeepMeep123*

      Yuck – what kind of manners are these people learning? I mean, my kid did that to another kid when she was 4, and promptly got a gentle redirect and a talk about Why We Don’t Touch Other People Without Permission, with a side lecture on Why Touching Black People’s Hair Is Not Polite. Could you just pull away and look startled and annoyed (as I am sure you are)?

  27. Forensic13*

    Travel suggestions! I’m going to Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia in a few weeks. Any specific suggestions, especially for good restaurants that don’t require dressing up? Thank you!

    1. Texan In Exile*

      In Barcelona, we ate at the JazzSi twice. It’s a music venue at night, but they have menu del dia for lunch and it was amazing. (I think this is the address – C/Requesens 2 Raval. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s great!)

      Also, Nou Cellar was delicious.

      Avoid the Boqueria and go to the other neighborhood markets instead.

      At the El Born Cultural and Memorial Center, they do guided tours at 4:00 of the archeological site. Our guide was a historian and the tour was wonderful.

      Picasso Museum has free tickets on Thurs evening, but you have to reserve them. Reservations open four days before.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      In Madrid, Taberna Juan Blanco has a great menu del dia. The rabo de toro is wonderful.

      In Valencia, we love the Mercat Central, but it’s becoming fancy. We discovered the Mercat Russafa, which has a cute little cafe in the corner with great tapas, ensaimadas, and cafe con leche.

    3. Lore*

      The best meal I had in Barcelona was at Tapas 24. Counter seating, not at all fancy, delicious. I really enjoyed Gaudi’s house in Parc Guell. Fundacio Mapfre has small museums in both Barcelona and Madrid with unusual shows that are less crowded than some of the big ones. The best paella I had in a month in Spain was at essentially the workers cafeteria at Mercado Central. (I found restaurants in Valencia notably more expensive than elsewhere in Spain.) I also really loved the Tabacalera museum in Madrid.

    4. LNLN*

      In Madrid, we ate several times at Refra Restaurante, Calle de Santiago, 4, near the San Miguel Market. A good breakfast/bakery spot is El Riojano, just off the Plaza Mayor at Calle Mayor, 10.

      In Barcelona, our favorite bakery was Patisseria Canal, at Calle de Córsega, 662. Francesc is the baker, as was his father before him. Best quiche and pain au chocolat I ever ate! We had an excellent lunch at La-barra del 7 Portes. It is at Reina Christina, 11. It shares a kitchen with the restaurant 7 Portes, but is more casual and easier to get into. We ate another excellent lunch at Can Lampazas, Av. del Paral-el, 159.

      I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  28. MechanicalPencil*

    Foster kitten question.

    I’ve had a pair of bottle babies since they were ~1 day old (umbilical still attached, etc). They’re about 6 weeks old now and should be weaned. They are … not into it. The slurry, absolutely. But they’re not giving up the bottle to go to the bowl. Confoundingly, they will eat the dry kibble. Just not the wet food. I am losing my mind with these two.

    I have tried:
    the spoon to lead them to the bowl (1 gets it then… quits)
    no milk, just canned food
    different temperatures of slurry
    different ratios of milk:canned food
    delaying meal times from bottle, encouraging the bowl

    I know someone is eating from the bowl since the bowl got cleared out when I wasn’t in the room. I just can’t get both kittens on the same page at the same time.

    Any advice? Something I’m overlooking? They’re great eaters, just very much prefer the bottle.

    1. Generic Name*

      I thought kittens didn’t wean until 8 weeks? I’m probably biased because I nursed my son until he was 2, but is there any harm in letting them wean naturally?

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        The shelter I foster through adopts out kittens at 8 weeks (assuming of age+2 pounds for spay/neuter surgery). It’s a high volume city shelter with a VERY long kitten season (24 hour nursery open April – October; I’ve had kittens from early March – Christmas before).

        My problem is that they’re eating solely from the bottle, not from the bowl (barring rare occurrences). They have all the teeth and have chewed through the nipple on the bottle more than once. There’s just a disconnect between the bottle and the bowl.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        They can start eating slurry as early as 3.5 weeks if desperate (i.e. mom has disappeared and there is no kmr) and start weaning between 4 and 5 weeks. Mom will often only give occasional meals after 6 weeks. Bottle babies should be eating food exclusively by 5 weeks, but some really love the bottle.

    2. Liminality*

      What would happen if you started stretching the time between feedings? I mean, don’t let them starve, but if they’re bored and hungry maybe they’d start taking more of an interest in the readily/constantly available bowls of food?

      1. carcinization*

        “delaying meal times from bottle, encouraging the bowl” was on the list of things that had been tried, so I think that’s the same thing?

    3. BoredTurtle*

      I’ve had a few foster kittens like this and a couple times what has worked is putting a blob of wet food on my pinky finger then putting it on the roof of their mouth. I’ll gently scruff with my left hand then use my pinky to wedge open their mouth and put the wet food oh their tongue or wipe it on the roof of their mouth. Sometimes it takes a few days of this but eventually the lightbulb moment happens.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Not a kitten parent here, but – bottle feeding is more hands on and warmly nurturing isn’t it, so I wonder if you could change something around the food bowls to make them more snuggly, eg having the bowls on a towel so they could knead the towel a bit, and changing the nature of the bowl eg to just eating off a placemat or a low plate – as the weaning and the learning of nice table manners are two different things! Weaning first, manners later.
      I did have one adult cat who objected to all dishes, and would take wet or dry food out of the dish and put it on the floor, he permitted the introduction of a placemat eventually!

    5. Cat annd dog fosterer*

      Some kittens prefer dry to wet. If they are eating kibbles consistently then can you let them have those and bowls of water? Or soak the kibbles in water? By 6 weeks they should be fine eating exclusively kibbles. Not ideal, but I find that kmr can sometimes cause issues so nothing is perfect.

      Our last bottle litter kept wanting a bottle until 8 weeks and the foster indulged them and they were fine. She had them until 10 weeks and one day they were happy to eat food.

      I have had ones with mothers, both kittens and pups, who went from milk almost directly to kibbles. I’d offer wet but after a couple days of wet they preferred to eat mama’s kibbles and mama eventually was given their wet when it wasn’t eaten. After a few days of that everyone just ate kibbles.

      I try not to have any expectations on what they should eat at different stages… it’s worrisome some days, especially if they have health problems, but some just love kibbles or the bottle and I try to go with that.

    6. Violet Evergreen*

      “ They are … not into it. The slurry, absolutely.”

      For clarification, they eat the slurry?

      If they are eating slurry, you are honestly good to just slowly taper off the bottle, just like a momma kitty pushing them away after she’s had enough. They will get liquid from the slurry. I would leave out wet food for them to investigate and possibly eventually eat. But if they eat both slurry and dry kibble, seriously, they are fine. If they never take to wet food, that is also fine. Lots of cats thrive on kibble.

  29. Elle*

    How are we feeling about Mrs Maisel so far? Some great stuff and a lot of drag. I’m all caught up with episode four.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I was happy that overall the show is picking up again after season 4 being mostly a drag, but this week’s episode wasn’t as good as the first three.

      It drives me crazy that ASP is so into these dumbass musicals that aren’t funny and do nothing for the story. “Intentionally bad play-within-a-play” is the most boring trope to me. I feel like this was a great opportunity for the thing where actors talk about something and we fill in the gaps – like it could’ve been 30 seconds of the opening number, a clip of Midge reading some terrible lines, a clip of Tess singing, and then Midge and Susie having a “what the hell was that? and the kid DIED?” rant.

      I’ve never enjoyed the mobster storyline. The characters are so funny when they make a brief, wholesome appearance but the combination of “oh they’re show biz buddies but also literally murder people” hasn’t really worked for me and I’m not excited that it’s going darker now.

      I wish they were being consistent with the flash forwards. I think they’re interesting but it was weird having the first two episodes start with one, then the Ethan one in the middle of the episode, and then nothing this time.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Oh and I was going to say once again Susie stole the show. I was excited by the episode title and wish we could’ve seen more about Hedy and less about garbage lol

      2. Elle*

        I fast forwarded through the musical scenes. They are very well done but add nothing to the plot and I got bored. Best part of the show are the 30 Rock scenes. They’re funny and fit in with her overall journey. The rest I can leave.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree with a lot of this.

        The season is moving faster after last season was so stuck, so that’s good.

        OMG Midge, either do it or don’t do it. The very public temper tantrum makes it hard for me to picture her succeeding. “Midge is cool pissing off mobsters who literally murder people” isn’t a compelling look. (Whereas the phone call where Susie pleads with her and she agrees seemed like great character work from both.)

        I liked the flashforwards in 1-3, but man, it is hard to see how the next 4 episodes are going to get Midge to the point of not self-sabotaging.

        There’s a recurring issue where a side character will start to develop a life outside of Midge’s orbit, and ASP seems to have a strong need to blow that up. Like, Susie’s unlikely success with Sophie Lennon was a compelling way to show her business growing, so Lennon has to crash it all and send Susie back to just Midge. Abe and Rose finding happiness in a new start in Paris was an unexpected and compelling idea, so Abe and Rose have to self sabotage that.

        I agree that the mobsters are funny in a light dose, but really call everyone’s judgment into question when they stick around.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          omg yes about Rose and Abe. I don’t think it’s necessarily an ASP thing in this case though, since a lot of shows have characters make bad choices because the realistic choices would take them off the show. Abe and Rose should’ve moved back to Paris when he lost his job but then we wouldn’t see them interact with Midge or Moise and Shirley anymore so they can’t.

    2. Stitch*

      I think I just can’t with Midge anymore. Everyone has to do things they don’t like occasionally. Grow up and help the person you owe everything to.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I bailed at the beginning of last season because I couldn’t watch her continue getting in her own way. Haven’t decided if I want to try this one since it’s the last.

        1. Elle*

          I can’t say it’s much better so far. Everything works out, yet another guy loves her, etc.

  30. Carrots*

    What is the best way to deal with petty, immature people who like to push buttons? I’ve tried to ignore their behavior, but I still feel frustrated by it. I feel like they win by me not saying anything, even though I know deep down it isn’t worth getting in a fight over it.

    1. Maggie*

      Reduce or eliminate contact with them as much as possible. “Grey rock” when you can’t avoid contact

    2. Anono-me*

      I read somewhere that a person, (I think a teacher) told kids to ‘curate their critics’. She suggested creating a list of 4-6 people whose opinions the kid really respected and of those people voiced concerns about the kids behavior to take it to heart and consider it seriously. The opinions of everyone else that the kid had previously decided wasn’t a person who was a good expert on the kid’s behavior was not to be given much weight . Obviously this wouldn’t apply to random one time incidents like a lifeguard saying don’t run by the pool it is dangerous. (Sorry the other person said it much more succinctly and clearly, but I hope this idea is helpful. )

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Brene Brown shares this idea (I think in her book Dare to Lead) – she calls it the Square Squad. It should be limited to the number of people whose names could fit on a small square, and decide those are the individuals whose input matters most to you & you take most seriously.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Are they your buttons, or someone else’s buttons? Ignoring it comes across differently.

      How much are you required to interact with them? The solution that works for your partner’s extended family won’t apply to work, or to the only local grocery store.

    4. LG*

      I like to say “Thanks for your input!” with a huge insincere smile on my face and move on to another topic. I’m not someone who’s afraid of offending people who deliberately try to piss me off. To your point about them winning if you stay silent, it’s actually the opposite. You win by not reacting to the provocation.

    5. Bluebell*

      I’m dealing with a petty situation right now and have decided to dial down my level of interaction. My elderly mom has a frenemy who occasionally texts me about her. Usually I turf it out to my sister. This last time I’ve decided to completely ignore her. If she doesn’t know by now that someone in her late 80s isn’t gonna change, nothing I can say to her will help.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      This sounds like me! If you want to retain a relationship (and you think they do too) then say “This (topic/behaviour) is annoying to me, so I’d appreciate it if we dropped it forever” and if they don’t: “Well, time to go, then!” If it’s something you need to make a stronger statement about then: “For the record, I think what you’re doing isn’t at all okay and because you have a working memory, I don’t need to say it more than once, but I won’t change my mind.” If it comes up again, “You know how I feel about this kind of behaviour” without any effort to argue a case before a stage exit. If you aren’t particularly invested in them, I would just plain old limit contact. If you have to see them sometimes try and have some buffers like other people or keeping busy.

    7. Prospect gone bad*

      You practice letting it take up a smaller and smaller part of your brain. I don’t think avoidance is a great strategy, you’ll end up self-selecting out of too many situation if you try to avoid every uncomfortable thing.

      Been there done that. Learn to laugh it off or use as “gossip” in casual passing, but don’t stew on it and talk about it for hours with friends, it will reinforce it all in your brain and make it all seem like the worst thing ever

    8. Popcorn*

      I’ve fantasized but not implemented as fake concern and saying, “You seem upset. There there, you’ll be ok.” But with a look on your face that you think they’re crazy/wrong/inappropriate. And just keep saying you hope they’ll be ok. Would this work or help? IDK

  31. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m trying to get back into reading but I’m doing a lot of running out of steam and not finishing. How do y’all pick your next book when you’re in the middle of one?

    1. Kathenus*

      A few ideas, in case any work for you. One is think of reading as the activity, not the completion of a particular book. So if you’re reading, then get bored and don’t want to finish it, just don’t. If the goal is reading itself, you’ve still been achieving that goal. Next would be if you have a favorite author or genre, and can find books with reoccurring characters, I find that they keep me really engaged at times because I’ve been following the characters’ lives for so long. And last, are there any books that you loved that you would re-read? Possible bonus if they are short like young adult books? I re-read books pretty regularly, and occasionally go back to a couple favorite authors from earlier in my life (S.E. Hinton and Madeleine L’Engle) – nowadays I can kick off one of these really quickly and it’s a nice nostalgia boost too.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      1) This thread has been great for that. (The Adventures of Amina Al-Sarafi was fabulous.) Literally keeping a list of them is very helpful.
      2) Giving myself permission to not finish things I didn’t enjoy was good for my reading–I’m more willing to give something different a try if I don’t feel I’m signing a blood oath with the book to finish. (The above author’s previous series: I’ve tried twice and it just doesn’t click with me, and not for any technical fault I can point to.)
      3) I reread stuff! (After putting down (2) I am rereading the Scholomance yet again.) It can also be great to go back to stuff you read several years ago–you might get something new out of it now.

    3. WellRed*

      I pick up several books at a time (library usually) so I have something on the go, especially if I start a book and realize I don’t like it.

    4. Anonymous cat*

      I think about what kind of book my brain/general feelings want next. Like sometimes I finish a fantasy novel and want something more real-world. Or I’m feeling kind of down so I look for a humorous or gentle book.

      Also I agree with the other posters—sometimes I reread books! Especially if I need a certain mood.
      Or I just enjoyed it!

      Just thought of this—short story anthologies are also good. Each one is less of a time commitment and you might discover a new author who fires your interest.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      I don’t typically pick a book while in the middle of another, but I keep a list of books I want to read on GoodReads and always have a stack of those at home. Once ready for my next book, I usually choose 3-5 that sound good at the moment and hand them to my partner to make a final decision – which has been fun. I’m less of a mood reader – so for me it is usually mixing things up book to book (if I just read a fantasy novel, I may pick out each a mystery, sci-fi, and thriller book to choose from).

    6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      you guys are right about rereading..also my Goodreads is huge so I’ll check back there

    7. *daha**

      In recent years I’ve been stopping reading books I’m perfectly happy with. Something to do with attention span, I think. I’ve got a huge number I want to go back to and finish. But…

      Anyway, I’ve been picking up collections of short stories, and anthologies of short stories. (A collection is stories by one particular author. An anthology has stories by many authors, like best-of-the-year or based on a theme. There are many counterexamples, so I shouldn’t even be making the distinction.) Also, I buy magazines of stories, generally science fiction or mysteries.

    8. PhyllisB*

      If you’re on Goodreads when you enter a book you’re reading, it will give suggestions for other books you might like. And if you don’t finish, you can mark it as DNF.

    9. Jackalope*

      I find it helpful to have a few different books in widely varying genres. That includes a more “challenging” read (which can mean everything from a nonfiction that’s a bit dry but on a subject I’m interested in to a fiction book for my book club that touches on a difficult topic), a couple of easy reads in genres that I enjoy, and a couple of wild cards. That way I can try different things and put something down if it’s not working at the time. And as others said, never underestimate the value of rereads.

    10. Girasol*

      I’ve been using Libby to help me choose a wider variety and to keep reading. Libraries can’t afford many e-books so they pick the best. I use Libby to look up “available” books and pick something interesting from what the librarians have chosen, whether it’s my usual taste or not, and then plan to read it before it comes due. A lot of Libby books end up with holds on them, so they’re not renewable. If I want to see how a story ends I have to get cracking on reading. It really helps me to read more like I did when I was a kid.

    11. Prospect gone bad*

      For me this is why I eventually made the switch to non-fiction. I realize that I was losing interest because it was too much brain power to read about people and events that were made up, and I find a much more mentally engaged when reading about real people in real events and real places

    12. Double A*

      I find library books highly motivating to read because they have a deadline, especially ebooks because there’s usually a queue for those so no renewal option. I also always have a bunch of ebooks on request because there’s a wait so it’s kind of random which comes up. I try to alternate(ish) reading fluff books with more serious books. I’ve found when I’m running out of steam for books it’s because I’m not in the mood for the genre. For me personally it usually means I need something sillier/lighter.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Sometimes a library book comes in for me so I check it out because it’s my turn, but I don’t remember why I requested it!
        I think, I must have had a reason so I’ll give it a try.
        One of my favorite books happened that way. I still don’t remember where I heard of it!

    13. Donkey Hotey*

      My TBR list is currently about 60 books. I realized that trying to decide what to read next was burning way too many cycles, so i found a random number generator that will spit out the number of the next book.

      that plus a “life is too short to read bad books” philosophy means i started 40 books last year and finished 30. if course, i also added another 50 to my TBR list in the same time.

  32. jasmine tea*

    I need a cleaning brush that does not seem to exist. Help?

    I need a long slim brush with bristles on the tip, facing outwards. Pipe cleaners, toothbrushes, aquarium brushes, bottle brushes, none of them meet this metric. They all have side bristles and a metal tip, so if I slide them down into an opening, I’m just ramming the metal tip against the surface instead of scrubbing it.

    If I take a slim brush and bend it back on itself to make a bristled tip, it no longer fits into the opening.

    Why the heck does this not exist? How does anyone clean the bottom of narrow objects?

    1. Lk*

      If you google LeeValley, they have some bottle brushes and vase brushes with protective ends so they won’t scratch.

    2. Umbrella recommendation*

      My mom gave me what you’re looking for. The entire head of the bottle brush is made of silicone. Similar material to the various silicone spatulas and cooking utensils you see.

    3. Sheraton St Louis*

      The baby supplies section of stores like Walmart and Target have a variety of cleaners like this. They’re for the fiddly parts of bottles and sippy cups.

    4. Squidhead*

      A couple of parts of our cat water-fountain are like this: long skinny hollow spaces with a solid bottom and right-angle corners. I take a bamboo skewer and use the sharp end to scrape as much out of the corners as I can get. Then I grab a piece of paper towel and use the skewer to push it down and scrub it all around in the base of the cavity. The process works moderately well…I think it cleans at least a much surface area as a brush in a limited amount of space would.

      1. Anonymous 75*

        I have found qtips have worked really well for this. I’ve used both long ones and ones that have a pointed end.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I have a bottle brush that’s a long flexible loop, so there are indeed bristles on the “bottom” or tip. It looks too wide to go into a standard metal water bottle, but you can squeeze the sides of the loop together so it fits.

      It’s by Cuisinart, and I got it at Walmart in the baby section. It came with a smaller brush for cleaning steel drinking straws.

    6. MissCoco*

      Searching cotton tipped bottle cleaning brush pops up the style of up my very favorite bottle brush from my lab glass cleaning days. Definitely size down from the brush size you need, because the cotton fluffy bit is not as flexible as the nylon bristles are.

    7. desdemona*

      How skinny does it need to be? Swell sells bottle brushes that are rounded and have bristled tips.

  33. goddessoftransitory*

    Kitties! Allison, have you seen the comic strip Breaking Cat News? You would adore it, especially since the latest story line involves a foster fail with two more cats being adopted!

  34. Advice on advice?*

    I am looking for more advice columns to read!

    I enjoy reading Alison’s blog here because I like the outrageous stories and I really like the sensible advice. Do you have any other suggestions of advice columns to read? Thanks!

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Older one would be Dear Sugar on The Rumpus – I think the columns are still available though it was written around 2011ish.

    2. WellRed*

      I’m a fan of care & feeding, pay dirt and dear prudence on slate, ask a Carolyn on Washington post.

    3. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      I found Allison through a collab with Captain Awkward. Jennifer doesn’t post as much, but she’s got a ton of content & there’s a related discussion forum that’s pretty active.

    4. DefinitiveAnn*

      Also at the Washington Post are Ask Amy, Miss Manners, and Brown Girl Therapy. Tons of great advice columns at Slate; I am enjoying their Pay Dirt money advice columns. Dan Savage is entirely behind a pay wall now, which makes me sad because he has done so much for sex advice and I like him better than the How To Do It columnists at Slate.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      One thousand percent captain awkward.

      Also, I found a lot of hilarity in That Bad Advice Tumblr. She’s brilliant in how clearly she outlines the issues, especially the social justice ones.

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

      Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column. It’s about sex, but it does meet the “outrageous stories” meet “sensible advice” metric (usually).

    7. fanciestcat*

      If you do start reading the Dear Prudence archives on Slate, I’d avoid reading the older ones by Emily Yoffe. A bunch of it is benign, but then you come across some of her more terrible, condescending advice and find yourself infuriated for the rest of the day. At least that was my experience. The people who ran the column later were much better.

      1. allathian*

        Emily Yoffe annoyed me sometimes with the condescending advice, but Daniel M. Lavery’s writing infuriated me so much so often that I quit reading Dear Prudence. Before transitioning he wrote as Mallory Ortberg, and I found most of those answers meh rather than infuriating. I haven’t read Jenée Desmond-Harris or R. Eric Thomas, though.

        I don’t take advice from men at all well, apparently.

  35. Second Breakfast*

    I need some audiobook recommendations for a crazy smart five year old. My daughter and I spend a lot of time in the car listening to audiobooks. So far, these are her favorites:
    – The Hobbit
    – The Little House series
    – The Ramona and Henry Huggins series
    – A Basketful of Animal Stories
    – Kiki’s Delivery Service

    A lot of these are older books that I enjoyed as a child, just because I knew they didn’t have too many adult themes. (Though we have had A LOT of discussions about racism in the Little House books). But the other day, she said she wanted to be a boy so she could work on rocket ships, and I realized I need to add some contemporary stuff.

    I would love recommendation for kids chapter books with strong female characters. She has a huge vocabulary, but we need relatively simple sentences. I’m trying to avoid anything with a huge focus on romance or with violence. Any ideas?

    1. Liminality*

      Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
      The Fairy Hollow series from Disney
      Ella Enchanted and also Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
      Avalon High by Meg Cabot
      The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
      Howls Moving Cadyle by Diana Wynne Jones
      Catherine Called Birdy by Jenny Sterlin
      Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

      These two have male protagonists, but I still think they’re pretty good:
      Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
      Holes by Louis Sachar

      1. Snell*

        I would second the recommendation for the Princess Diaries, but also note that “grown-up” topics do come up (and I don’t mean ONLY sex, although there is that, too) so definitely be prepared to have deeper discussions with your five yo just in case.

        I was an 8-ish yo girl when I started reading them, and I remember asking my dad what “feeling someone up” was. He told me to ask mom.

        *As an aside, the cultural touchpoints definitely date the series (not a bad thing, just something to note). I don’t mean just the who’s who of pop culture, but I recently had the audiobook playing as background noise, and in the second book, there’s a passing reference to the World Trade Center in the background.

        1. Liminality*

          Oh my gosh you’re right! I completely forgot about that part! Yeah, maybe wait on those ones for now. :D the others should be pretty good though.
          Also I looked it up and the Disney fairy books are actually called Pixie Hollow and some of the really good ones are written by Gail Carson Levine.

          1. Snell*

            You know what? I just remembered there’s a Princess Diaries spinoff series featuring Mia’s little sister (middle school age). Haven’t read it myself though, so I can’t speak for it either way. But I’m in general a fan of Meg Cabot, so I’d say to OP to look into it.

      2. Emily Dickinson*

        I reread Anne (my nostalgic fave) to my daughter and parts of it are also no good – casual xenophobia/racism, it’s basically child trafficking how adoption worked, and a whole subplot of a teacher openly grooming a student. I’ve found asking librarians super helpful!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I love Catherine Called Birdy. When I culled my library prior to moving, I refused to give that one up. And I read it first as an adult!

        I believe the author is Karen Cushman – Jenny Sterlin narrated the audiobook.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I was going to suggest this too! They have a lot of blog posts by genre too, so you could find like a science/space themed list for the rocket interest.

        My 7yo recently read Mask and its sequels Cape and Boots – it’s a trilogy about girl superheroes during WWII and heavily inspired by the comics of that time period. Really cool middle grades series but they have a graphic component (like, it’s mostly a novel but the fight scenes are illustrated) so I’m not sure how that would translate to audiobooks.

    2. lizabeth*

      Have you considered the Redwall series by Brian Jacques? They are animal character driven but good vs. bad plus a LOT of references to food (which made me drool big time reading them)

      Don’t know if they are available as audio books but…worth a shot!

      1. Stitch*

        The Redwall books do have some pretty violent parts, though. I’d say those are.middle school books.

          1. Clisby*

            My son asked for a Redwall-themed birthday cake for his 6th birthday. However, at that age he wasn’t reading them – he was watching the animated versions.

    3. Snell*

      For my own recs, and drawing on my own “books I enjoyed as a child,” maybe look into Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey? I really wouldn’t recommend anything else of hers for a 5 yo kid, but these two books of hers are targeted at children, and feature a female protagonist who exhibits self-reliance, and although she starts out extremely insecure, she develops her confidence over the course of the story.

      Will put in a warning here—in the first book, the protagonist’s father beats her. It’s not graphic, but the physical violence is combined with emotional violence, and even though I wouldn’t even blink at reading it today, I, as an 8-9 yo child, sympathized with the protagonist such that I myself felt actually awful, too.

      1. allathian*

        Dragonsong also features a rather graphic scene where Menolly cuts her hand gutting fish and they intentionally let it heal wrong so that she can’t play stringed instruments anymore (because girls singing, and worse, writing, teaching ballads was a bad thing). She does overcome the obstacles her horrible father and enabling mother put in her way, but I think that 5 years is a bit young for this.

        I loved the Pippi Longstocking stories by Astrid Lindgren as a kid, and they definitely feature a strong and independent girl (the strongest girl in the world, she could lift her horse over her head) as the main protagonist. I’m not sure how easy or difficult they’re to find now, though. The original book was written in 1945 and an annotated edition came out in Swedish fairly recently. She’s about 8-10 years old and lives alone with her horse and her monkey, her mother’s dead (never mentioned in the book) and her father is the king of a South Sea island.

        1. Snell*

          That’s true. I mentioned the beating scene because that’s the part that I remember impacting me the most, but it’s probably best to put this one off for a few years.

    4. AlabamaAnonymous*

      So many good recommendations here! I’d also like to add The Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale — despite the title, it centers on a strong female character who is definitely not a damsel in distress — and the Hank the Cowdog series — told from the perspective of a dog on a ranch. The audio books are actually better than the print books since they are read by the author and he does voices for each character. These are some of my favorite books for road trips, even as an adult!

    5. just another queer reader*

      – Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH
      A very smart mouse (widow and mother of four) works with some very smart rats to save her family’s home. I love the worldbuilding.
      – Terry Pratchett (“A Hat Full of Sky,” etc)
      A series about a teenage witch who serves her community. Again, love the worldbuilding:)
      – Carl Hiaasen (Hoot, Flush)
      Teenagers exposing and stopping corporations from polluting/ destroying nature. Set in Florida. Very fun. I love these books.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      My daughter deeply loved The Famous Five, which is about four cousins (two boys, two girls, and a dog) who are always finding secret tunnels and going on adventures.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I feel compelled to point out that there’s a lot of “girls can’t do stuff, so stay home” messaging in The Famous Five – but as a bookish little girl I was able to overlook that and just go “eh, what do you know”, knowing that the girls would certainly not do as they were told; even if in the moment they deferred to the boys. I think you just need to know that going in. The stories are certainly really good and George is a pretty early and positive example of someone with a strong gender identity different to their birth gender (I’d have to read it again to be sure though).

    7. just another queer reader*

      – A Wrinkle in Time
      A girl goes on a mission across the galaxy to save her dad. The movie is also good. Fantasy, but written like science, if that makes sense.
      – Andrew Clements
      “A bunch of books about super smart kids who do things that adults don’t think they should be able to do”
      – Ella Enchanted
      A little bit “princess” but subverts a lot of the tropes. A girl is born with the “gift” of obedience from a fairy – and goes on a quest to break the spell.
      – The City of Ember
      In a post apocalyptic world. Two teenagers live in an underground city whose infrastructure is starting to crumble. They go on a quest to find the outside world.
      – Front Desk
      A ten year old helps run the front desk at her family’s hotel.
      – Stella by Starlight
      “Kind of intense because it’s about the KKK.” A eleven year old girl, and the KKK comes to her town.
      – Number the Stars
      Set in Denmark during WWII. A 10 year old girl goes on a dangerous mission to save her (Jewish) friend’s life.
      – Snow Treasure
      Similar vibes to the above, but set in Scandinavia and involving kids sledding to save the gold. Fascinatingly, it’s a true story and was published in 1942, before the war ended.
      – Because of Winn-Dixie
      A girl adopts a dog, and encounters some cool adults, as she grapples with her missing mom.
      – Young readers version of Hidden Figures
      There’s also a picture book
      – Pony Pals (if your kid likes horses)
      A group of friends and their horses, getting into trouble
      – Hopscotch Hill School
      Each book focuses on a different kid in the class and their problems and how they overcome them. They’re very cute. It’s fun to read multiple books in the series because the characters overlap. Related to the American Girl series.
      – Sideways Stories from Wayside School
      Wacky and fun.
      – Mrs Piggle Wiggle
      Old but a TON of fun. I distinctly remember the vision of kids paddling around a flooded basement in a washtub, trying to save the day. While the main character is an adult woman, there were some gender stereotypes.

      *I’d also talk with a librarian! Most of these are books I liked as a kid and feature strong female characters and no violence or romance (because I thought they were dumb. Still do, lol.)
      Anyway, if I were to go back in time, I’d try to find more books like this, but with queer characters and characters of color.

    8. BadCultureFit*

      My daughter was obsessed with the Rebel Girls books at that age, and they have a corresponding podcast! Highly recommend.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      I liked “The Rescuers” by Margery Sharp, 1959. It stuck with me as my first strong female protagonist who wanted to help others. Even though she was a mouse. I don’t know if it’s an audiobook, though.

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

        Oh yes! There are a whole bunch of books in the series (and I think an animated film too). Miss Bianca rocks!

    10. GoryDetails*

      I’m a huge fan of Kipling’s stories – the “Jungle Book” tales, “Rikki-tikki-tavi”, the “Just-so Stories” – they do feature some violence, but I don’t know that it’d be worse than anything in “The Hobbit”.

      On the lighter side, there are audiobook versions of Ursula Vernon’s “Hamster Princess” books, about a young hamster princess who decides early on that she’s not going to take all that magic and curses and fancy dresses business seriously, so she sets out on her war-quail (yes, she rides a war-quail) and goes a-questing. [Vernon, aka T. Kingfisher, puts lots of layers in the stories; I only discovered them as a grownup, so I can’t swear I would have liked them as a kid – but I’m pretty sure I would.] “Harriet the Invincible” is the first book. She also has the “Danny Dragonbreath” series, though I don’t know if those are on audiobook. (The text versions of the books include some very amusing illustrations that are more or less embedded in the storyline.)

      1. GoryDetails*

        Just to add – the “Jungle Book” stories don’t have female protagonists, though that never bothered me when I was a tree-climbing little girl; I figured I could daydream about being Mowgli as easily as being Mary Lennox from “The Secret Garden”! Some of the “Just-so Stories” do have female characters, though, especially “How the First Letter Was Written” and “How the Alphabet Was Made”, in which a young stone-age girl and her father work out writing, with some slips along the way.

    11. Qwerty*

      Is American Girls still a thing? Different series had different levels of maturity. Supposedly the Kaya series and doll worked with closely with a tribe on the project for accuracy. Kit (depression era) and Molly (WWII) are probably low risk but Addy (slavery) and Kirsten (opens with cholera plague) might be better to wait on. I don’t recall any of the books being violent but they did talk about the realities of their times.

      I loved the Royal Diaries as a kid. It takes women in history and has them writing their diaries as teenagers. The ones I remember didn’t really have romance other than hinting at future pairings (real or rumored).

      Cleopatra was my favorite one – she travels to Rome with her dad to seek help regaining his throne and he isn’t really portrayed as the most capable ruler. She does worry about being poisoned and receives info that her sister was strangled (when said sister tried a coup) but I don’t remember anything graphic

      Elizabeth I was also great, but might want to wait a little bit because I think Mary bullies Lizzy about Anne Boleyn’s beheading and she wonders about rumors of castle ghosts, so I’m guessing it refers to more violence than I remember.

      1. RagingADHD*

        There’s an American Girl astronaut, too: Luciana Vega. She was the new Girl of the Year doll in 2018, and she has a book about going to Space Camp.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If she was a little older I’d recommend Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Quartet in a heartbeat, but 5 might be a little young. I think I was 8 when I read them.

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

        Song of the Lioness quartet might be too dark/adult for this kiddo just yet, but Tamora has others that would work well. I think the Circle of Magic series is specifically written for a younger audience, and the Protector of the Small series is basically a toned-down version of Song of the Lioness.

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      A couple that both my kids at that age (and I) enjoyed specifically in audio:
      – Ms. Rapscott’s Girls my Elise Primavera (about a quartet of girls at a very unusual boarding school. Hilarious)
      – the Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwidtz (three kids in Medival Europe on a quest. I loved the ending so much. His other books are pretty great too… he has a whole series of fairy tale retelling that are darkly funny)
      – How to Train Your Dragon series. Read by David Tennant. My husband loves these.
      – Wild Robot – Robot crash lands on an island
      – Nim’s Island
      – books by E.D. Baker. Princesses and dragons
      – Grace Lin’s books- the Year of the Dog is kind of like an Asian American Ramona, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is an adventure story set in ancient China
      – Prarie Lotus by Linda Sue Park – a pioneer story told from the eyes of a half Asian girl.
      – Aru Shah series
      – Freaky Friday ( on which the movie was based)
      – Cricket in Times Square

    14. just another queer reader*

      A few more!

      – Magic Tree House
      – Boxcar Children
      – The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (might be a little violent?)
      – American Girl
      – The Princess Academy
      – Silk Umbrellas by Carolyn Marsden
      – Moon Runner by Carolyn Marsden

    15. Alex*

      My absolute favorite kids book of all time was “Understood Betsy”. It is similar to the secret garden (and written around the same time) but it is American. The thing I love about it is that the protagonist (a 9 year old girl) transforms from a timid child to a strong and independent leader by overcoming her fears and expectations from those around her. It’s lovely.

      There is a part about an abused child (not the protagonist) but otherwise I think the content is very child-friendly. I think I read it around age 8-9 but if your child is advanced it might be fine.

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

        I LOVE *Understood Betsy*! Yes, it’s great at showing how kids can become brave and flourish and become great problem-solvers. The moment when grouchy Cousin Ann praises Betsy for her quick thinking in a crisis and fills Betsy with a well-earned pride has stayed with me all of these years.

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

      Dunno if it’s on audio books, but the Ada Twist, Scientist series has a Black young girl scientist as its protagonist. I see now that there’s also a Netflix series of it.

      Are there any audiobooks of the Encyclopedia Brown stories? Admittedly, Encyclopedia is the male brains of the series, but his best friend Sally Kimball is his physical protector against bullies.

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

      *Glinda of Oz*, the last Oz book, is basically Dorothy and Ozma (and later Glinda) off on a girls’ road trip, rescuing people. I loved that all the main protagonists of this book were female.

      Also, the massive crush I had on Glinda is what let 5-year-0ld me know that I was bi. Yep, I fell in love with a children’s book illustration . . . .

    18. Katy*

      The Wheel on the School by Meindert Dejong. It’s an older book, and a Newbery medal winner. It’s set in a small Dutch village in an area where storks nest on rooftops, and people put wagon wheels on the roofs for them to build their nests on, but no storks have nested in this particular village for years. A girl named Lina convinces the rest of the schoolchildren – there are only six of them – that they need to put a wagon wheel on the roof of the school to try to bring the storks back. So they set out on a quest to find an unused wagon wheel – not an easy thing in a farming community – and in the process they learn a lot more about their village. It’s an ensemble cast, but the focus is on Lina, and the language is simple, so I think it would be great for your daughter.

    19. Callie*

      Have you considered podcasts?

      BrainsOn is a great science podcast that has diverse scientists represented.
      Ologies is a great science podcast for adults, but puts out Smologies podcasts every few weeks. These are edited to be classroom appropriate.
      My son loves GreekingOut by NatGeo. They also do an explorers series that featured women in the first few we listened to.

      1. Callie*

        Also check out the book Latinitas–one of the women featured, if I remember correctly, is an astrophysicist.

    20. Ali + Nino*

      I remember liking Charlotte’s Web at that age – strong female protagonist, even if she is a spider!
      How about Harriet the Spy? Maybe a couple of years from now.

    21. pb*

      Since it sounds like she likes science, maybe Artemis Fowl? Books 1-5 are great – the secondary protagonist is a tough female character

  36. Umbrella recommendation*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a quality umbrella? Preferably something that folds to fit in a large tote bag or backpack. I usually just buy the folding ones from the grocery store or CVS, but they seem to be getting flimsier and flimsier. Heavy rain is usually accompanied by a lot of wind and it seems like the metal bits get twisted or broken after use in a few thunderstorms.

    1. Generic Name*

      I live in an area where rain comes in the form of thunderstorms with high wind and we don’t really get the “gently drizzle” type of rain. I’ve given up on umbrellas and carry a hooded rain jacket with me.

    2. Veronica*

      My favorite is my Duluth Trading Co. umbrella. Advertised to withstand up to 70 mph winds. Can’t confirm from personal experience but is so sturdy that I totally believe it. Opens to a nice size. Has a button to pop it open and closed but does so with gusto so best to hold it at arm’s length when closing or else have an experience like standing next to a dog shaking out her wet coat.

    3. Lily*

      Doppler! I’ve had several (foldable and tegular) and they fared pretty well in the windy Netherlands. I actually bought that brand on the recommendation of my (elderly) neighbours which still had a couple of Dopplers inherited by their grandparents.

      I have to confess I don’t use them as often now that I’ve moved to Sweden. The wind here is so strong that the rain becomes “horizontal” – so even though my umbrellas don’t break, I still get soaked with rain. I’ve mostly switched to raincoats.

  37. Myrin*

    So my mum fell square on her face last night and promptly broke both her glasses and her nose. She’s been to the ER – where people were luckily very friendly and competent – and will go to her ENT immediately Monday morning but in the meantime (or even beyond all that, really), is there anything she can do to alleviate the pain/help the healing process?

    1. Liminality*

      Ugh, that sounds miserable!
      The only thing I can think of is ice. 10 minutes on and 10-15 minutes off. Heat compresses will not be her friend right now.
      Be prepared for at least one glorious black eye, and likely both. Beware pain meds that can act as blood-thinners for the first while. They can cause the bruising to appear to spread.
      Sorry about her glasses too. Getting new ones sucks. My mom had a nasty spill and we didn’t realize that her glasses had been bent. She has multi-focal lenses and was looking through them essentially diagonally for several weeks and it gave her terrible vertigo. So I would have suggested getting her frames checked even if they hadn’t broken.
      If it is possible to solve/remove the cause of the fall that might be something worth looking into as well.
      Good luck to you both! This too shall pass.

    2. Maryn*

      Cold compress–not ice, just cold–where the nose is broken, and ibuprofen or another OTC painkiller for some relief. She’s going to be uncomfortable (and maybe sport a black eye or two) for a while, but that’s probably all her doctor would advise.

      Uncooked rice in a zip-type sandwich bag you keep in the freezer can shape to the nose nicely.

      If she can’t breathe through her nose, she needs to make sure she’s hydrated and probably use some lip balm.

      (I broke my nose and front tooth a long time back, and the doctor’s office really couldn’t do much once they determined the cartilage was in alignment.)

    3. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      That sounds awful! Your poor mother! If she doesn’t usually use ibuprofen, there are potential side effects to plan for. It can result in miserable constipation, for instance, so experimenting with colase, senakot, miralax etc. could be helpful. Also, the blood-thinner effect is a thing that’s important for some people to consider first.
      The safest strategy is to first call the pharmacy where her prescriptions are filled, and get advice from a pharmacist on potential medication interactions and appropriate otc choices. Maybe she doesn’t have regular prescriptions? In that case you can call any pharmacy that’s answering their phone. They might explain the technique of taking ibuprophen and tylenol on an offset schedule if your Mom’s in a lot of pain.
      Also, we use Arnicare Gel (by Boiron) when my elderly relatives fall and get dramatic and painful bruising. It’s always helped speed healing and reduce pain in our family. (We can’t use it on delicate facial skin but that might just be us.)
      I hope she heals up quickly!

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      If she fell without putting out her arms to break her fall, it might be a good idea to see a neurologist too.

  38. AnonEMoose*

    I just finished The Wizard’s Butler by Nathan Lowell. Cozy fantasy, basically. An ex-military medic and paramedic takes a job as butler to a man his niece claims has dementia, partly because he claims he’s a wizard, and it goes from there. It was a nice, relaxing read that I greatly enjoyed.

    1. Recently Retired*

      Thank you for the recommendation. I looked at the review on Amazon and have just ordered the Kindle version. It’s now next on my list to read. (I’m currently re-reading The Hunger Games)

    2. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      Thanks AnonEMoose! I saw your post yesterday, and got this book on kindle (because my library doesn’t have it). Just finished reading it! I agree it was the perfect “nice relaxing read,” and it greatly improved my weekend.
      (I was a late and unwilling convert to reading books on electronic devices, thanks to covid, but the instant acquisition of a new book is my favorite modern superpower.)

    1. DefinitiveAnn*

      We drove to Baton Rouge for the opera at LSU last night (about 90 miles away). We saw two fun one acts, “Scalia/Ginsburg” (collegiate premiere!) and “Trial by Jury” by Gilbert and Sullivan. After, we had cookies and ice cream at Insomnia Cookies and drove home. It was a lovely evening and excellent productions and I felt all fancy because opera.

    2. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      My relationship with my children is good & we’ve been enjoying time together.

    3. OperationnomorekittensComplete*

      My feral cat colony on my farm (apparently people dump cats on farms because farms are cat friendly?) was neutered this weekend – I am so happy and relieved that it is done! There were 26 cats which was about what I thought. I am even more happy that we were not like another farm they told us about. That farm thought they had 20 and actually had around 100!

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Sadly, people will dump cats anywhere and everywhere. My daughter cares for a feral colony in an industrial area, and they get 1-2 new drop-offs a year. They do not do well. The existing cats defend their territory, there are fights, and pets are simply not equipped to deal with life outside.
        Do not ever do that to a pet.

        1. Ins mom*

          Interested in this. My eight barn cats are soon to reproduce but I can’t imagine how to catch and take to town!

          1. Violet Evergreen*

            Look for trap, neuter, release organizations in your area. If you are in the US, the Humane Society is a good resource. They will lend you a humane trap, then you have to catch the cat and take it to the vet. They can recommend a vet who will do low cost neuter for ferals.

            By “soon to reproduce,” do you mean some of them are already pregnant? This is tricky. You can usually only trap a feral cat once bc they learn the first time. If you put a trap out and get a nursing mom, you have to neuter her then or you won’t get another chance. She needs a chance for her milk to dry up before they can do surgery, so you have to separate her from her kittens for a while. If you don’t know where her kittens are, they will die. If you do know where the kittens are, now there is a litter of kittens that might need bottle feeding and will definitely need a foster home until they are old enough and socialized enough to be neutered and adopted. Btw, if you know where the kittens are, start visiting and get them used to your presence.

            That does sound overwhelming, and I’m sure it’s daunting. If there is a TNR organization, they can help you navigate everything. They are usually just a couple of harried volunteers, but they do this out of love.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      My mom came over and we got rid of over half of the clothes in my closet. It’s looking a little sparse now, but it was time for the old stuff to go and I have a game plan for what I need to buy.

    5. carcinization*

      Met some friends for lunch and then wandered around a bit looking around in shops and such. First time I can remember that my husband found a couple of things to buy in a vintage store and I didn’t! I have too much stuff as it is, so it was nice that he found something for once.

    6. RagingADHD*

      We finished my daughter’s Star Trek TOS costume and went to a regional con. Tough on the feet, but a very satisfying day.

    7. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I’ve got a couple:

      First, finally feeling comfortable and making progress on my first assignment at my new job.

      Second, catching an LA Kings playoff game in person.

    8. StellaBella*

      Going to the beach, going to see a volcano and salt flats, doing a tour of an island. A nice day off.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Seeing my flowering crabapple start to bloom – lovely against the grey sky. (I hope the rain stays light enough not to knock all the flowers off!)

    10. the cat's ass*

      Nice weather for a change!
      Got tix to Fanime 23!
      Seeing a live version of “Spirited Away” this afternoon!

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

      Sushi! Also, made progress in getting a tree planted to commemorate a dead friend.

    12. Lore*

      My joys this week have been more than little: first overseas trip since pre pandemic (going smoothly so far despite all my travel anxiety around connecting flights, though I suspect my flight home tomorrow may be a nightmare), with two friends. We haven’t all been in the same country at the same time in 10+ years and I hadn’t seen either of them in 4 years.

    13. eeeek*

      Lightening my load by gifting things through our local Buy Nothing group. I can’t believe how greatly it lifts my heart to know that someone will use and enjoy things that have honestly vexed me for a while. Who knew?
      Also lightening the load meant gifting to the local humane society lots of stuff from the geriatric cat we helped traverse the bridge 10 days ago…I was shocked to see how many types of food, litter, treats, and gadgets we tried to ease his elder years. (My husband was on a secret mission to find the perfect food/litter/treats, so there were many things I didn’t know about.) Ah, well. I am happy to know other kitties may benefit from those things.

  39. PhyllisB*

    Y’all give good advice, so I’m hoping you will come through for me.
    Lately I’ve had several friends lose their spouse, and it got me to thinking what will my next step be? Everything is fine now, but just wanted to have some sorta plan in mind in case.
    If he goes first, I know I will want to sell this house and do something else. I can still do things in the house; cooking, cleaning, very basic maintenance, but I have neither the skills nor the stamina to do upkeep or yardwork.
    My thoughts are get an apartment, go to an assisted living facility, or buy a tiny house to put in my daughter’s backyard. (No, I won’t spring this on her, I’m just mulling things over for now.)
    If I decide to do the tiny house, I realize they’re not really considered good investments, I was just thinking it would be a way for me to be close to family in case I need them, but I wouldn’t in their house interfering with their daily lives, and they could have it to use as a guest house when I can’t stay there any longer.
    Any thoughts? or suggestions I haven’t considered?

    1. Purple Wombat*

      Those seem like solid options. Two thoughts based on what I wish my mom had done in the last years of her life: first, make sure it’s accessible if you ever need to use a cane, wheelchair, etc. (or just eventually have trouble climbing stairs). Second, aim for something low or no maintenance (which it seems like all of your options are).

      1. PhyllisB*

        Good point. And yes, I did think of handicap access, but thanks for reinforcing the idea.

    2. Maryn*

      It’s good to have plans for what you will do as the surviving spouse, because the odds are one of you will be.

      Both apartments and condos can be great–or awful, since so much depends on your neighbors’ courtesy. If I can afford not to take that risk, I won’t.

      I’m not a fan of tiny houses but am a big fan of very small homes, of which some older cities have many. I might want a two-bedroom with a bit of yard, cheap to pay someone to mow in season, room to grow some flowers or veggies, to sit outside in privacy. Depending on your age, maybe you want to be sure it’s very near public transportation for the day you can no longer drive.

      My daughter and I are close, but living on her property would be too close. I would prefer to buy the smallest house in her neighborhood, giving us both autonomy and convenience as well as privacy.

      I’m pretty sure I won’t use assisted living until I can no longer get by on my own, even with hired help coming in. But that’s me, and perhaps it will suit others nicely.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, I thought about proximity. Like I said, I’m just mulling possibilities now. The small house is not a bad idea, but that still leaves me to deal with upkeep. Roof, pipes breakietc. ect.
        There are assisted living facilities where you pretty much take care of yourself (kitchen for cooking and such.) At least in our town there’s one, I’m not sure about where she lives. If I decided to do that, I would want a place like that which has options for stepped up care in case of decreased ability to care for myself, and could transition to memory care if needed.

        1. Knighthope*

          What you are describing is a continuing care retirement community AKA life plan community, with options ranging from independent to assisted living to memory care, etc. What is available varies and often you must enter at the independent stage.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m assuming you and your husband have all affairs in order, wills updated, beneficiaries specified in benefits etc? Cause if not, that’s first. As to the tiny house specifically, make sure it’s even allowed in her town.

      1. PhyllisB*

        We have beneficiaries taken care of, but we do need to update our wills. We made them when children were young and we just list each other as beneficiary, and guardians of course,
        but now that the kids are adults we need to redo them. Thanks for the reminder.
        As for allowing the tiny house, I know some areas don’t allow them and I would need to check that out.
        Like I said, I’m just starting to think about all this so don’t have any concrete plans yet. Y’all have given me some things to think about. Thanks to all of you.

    4. Qwerty*

      Since your friends are losing spouses, is there an assisted living facilty or senior neighborhood that works for multiple of you? I would think through how to keep up a social life once you are less mobile or less inclined/able to drive.

      It would also be good to try to share social planning duties evenly with your spouse so you each have a network. Often one spouse makes most of the plans and after that person passes, the remaining spouse gets left behind by the friend group because they aren’t used to reaching out to each other.

    5. Girasol*

      It’s great to blue-sky some options now so you have an idea what you might do if the time comes. But be sure that if it happens, you’ve also planned on giving yourself some time to catch your breath before making big decisions. I was prepared. We knew cancer would take him. But the feeling of being half a marriage instead of a whole person, at least if you’ve been married a long time, takes awhile to shake off. I’m glad I studied my options long ago and it feels good to think about them now, but I can tell that making big decisions in haste wouldn’t be a good idea.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Talk to your daughter and see if she has input. (e.g. she might endorse the tiny house, or suggest buying a new house with an in-law suite, or converting a garage to that (relatives did this), or a senior apartment nearby (my neighbor’s mom did this).)

      I’d use this as motivation to stay on top of home maintenance, so if this does come to pass there’s not a lot to be done before it can be sold.

    7. Young wid*

      Another option may be to consider getting a roommate through a homeshare program? I know there’s websites like silvernest, and likely local programs that help you find a good match and do background checks.
      Could be an interim step if companionship/light chores/income is needed before downsizing.
      And, make sure you both have full knowledge of accounts, passwords, etc.
      I’m widowed (though in my 30s), the number of folks in my online widow groups who knew nothing about the bills, Financials, etc is very sad and hard.

    8. Bibliovore*

      I thought I would sell the house and move to a condo or and over 55 step community.
      The best advice I got was to do nothing during the first year.
      The most important thing is to get the financial ducks in a row.
      A family trust is the best way to avoid probate.
      Know each other’s passwords for EVERYTHING.
      Make sure everything is in both your names- cars, deeds etc.
      Make sure you are each each others sole beneficiary.
      Know who your emergency contacts will be if not your partner.
      Know what will happen if you lose half your income. (my husband’s social security and pension disappeared with his death)

      What I ended up deciding was to age in place. I live in a great neighborhood. I have terrific neighbors and I plan to work at least 5 more years.
      And the condo rental place that I wanted to move to didn’t have bathtubs.
      Now renovating the bathroom. planning a lift on the stairs eventually.
      Paying people to do the garden, the snow, and a housekeeper every other week.
      The neighborhood kids do the heavy lifting and neighbors help out with stuff I can’t do myself.

      1. J Jonah Jameson*

        From experience, I second the don’t do anything for a year. It takes a while to separate what you (singular) want from what you (plural) wanted.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          My grandmother moved very quickly after my grandfather passed in a tragic accident at home. She didn’t just sell the house, she also moved 2 hours away to be closer to her younger grandchildren.

          She moved back within 6 months and really struggled with the fact that she had sold their home because she made a rash decision while deeply in the grieving process.

    9. Lbd*

      The more you can plan your home for the physical and cognitive issues that can impact elderly people, the longer you can be comfortable there. Even something like surgery can make life more complicated for a while, and the more independent you can be in your own place, the better quality of life you have.
      Houses with secondary suites in the basement are a thing here, so much so that many houses are built with the suite on the ground level with a walk out entrance and no stairs at all, and the main accommodation upstairs. One multi generation family bought one, and renovated the bathroom in the suite to include a roll in shower so that a walker or wheelchair user could shower easily. If this sort of housing is an option in your area, your daughter might be open to a conversation about moving. Or a suite/smaller house in the back yard as the same property they are living in, instead of a tiny home. Those are also an option here, and some other areas are becoming more open to that sort of housing now as well.
      Tiny houses are not always accessible/disabled friendly, especially if they have lofts. They don’t have much room for walkers, or attendants/health care workers. They can fit into places that other homes wouldn’t, and you would be close to your family!
      The assisted living spaces I am familiar with are very expensive. They do allow for continuity of care and living for many stages of aging.
      Apartments with underground parking garages allow stair-free access from your car to your front door. If it is a building geared to seniors, local home health workers will likely be familiar with the building, and there are advantages to have multiple home care clients in one building.
      Bathrooms: A separate shower stall instead of or as well as a tub. Grab bars next to the toilet, in the shower, and by the tub. A toilet with a higher seat. Good lighting and space for an attendant or a walker.
      Kitchens: Surfaces with contrast in colour or shade, ie. dark cabinets, light floor, mid-tone counter tops. Variety of lighting. Lots of storage that is easy to reach.
      General: I saw a home with a handrail in the rather long hallway. Large windows that can be seen out of from a seated position as well as standing, especially with an interesting view. If you are stuck inside it can help keep you connected to the outside world. One family member enjoyed watching the neighbourhood kids play. Another person watched wildlife at the bird feeder.
      Anything that will help with fall prevention is good. Many organizations will have information on how to set a space up to keep you safe.
      A second bedroom can allow for a roommate. Perhaps family from out of town taking a training program, a friend needing a short term home, a young adult relative who wants to move out for the first time but can’t afford an apartment by themselves. It’s certainly not for everyone but is helpful under the right circumstances.
      Good luck!

    10. Sloanicota*

      Just for me personally, when I think about the end of life, I think about some place that’s a) all one level and b) with a great view – windows that overlook a lake, or the ocean, or something you can look at all day. This is what my parents have and I see how much comfort it brings them. Their health is up and down but they always have that quiet time in the sitting room.

  40. Fromthefryingpantoigloo*

    We have spent all month getting bids for a mini split ductless 4 head heat pump system. Ductless because we live in flood zone and our ductwork under the house flooded three times. Our electric furnace is 20 years old and heats some of the rooms too well and some rooms not at all. See above about ductwork. Also there’s a lot of credits now! The three places we had come to bid are all about the same pricing but man is it expensive! Is it worth it? Any tips? Troubles? Considering either daikon or Mitsubishi leaning toward Daikon.

    1. Filosofickle*

      I can’t answer your actual question, but commiserating. I spent the spring getting and sorting through bids on a heat pump system (AC & Heat) for two options — a 5 split solution and ducted central. All of it is SO expensive. It’s mind boggling.

      Both Daikon and Mitsubishi have great reputations and were my top 2 for splits going in, but my contractors favored Mitsubishi and Carrier. Since all these brands are good, I felt the crew mattered more. Since all bids were pretty close money wise, I decided to pick the installer I trusted most, then let them spec what they are trained the most thoroughly on.

      My biggest question mark on splits was the maintenance. They need their filters changed every 1-2 months, but I didn’t know this until the end of the process and I had wanted to put them in locations that would be very hard to access. I also have a couple of rooms where the units would have to be on interior walls — and that’s normal but it does require installing pumps and condensate lines through the attic. Which adds a bit of risk. (One contractor I talked to would not do this, though. He wanted to run a surface line to avoid having water lines in the walls.)

      I ended up with central, so no help to you there! It was about the same cost and I didn’t trust myself to maintain the splits. I went top of the line on heat pump itself, going for maximum quiet and in the process getting maximum efficiency. I am confident the heat pump technology itself as well as the efficiency will pay back.

      1. Fromthefryingpantoigloo*

        Yes if we had good ductwork and didn’t flood I’d probably go w the one unit myself. It’s good to know about the carriers I’ve heard good things about both daikon and Mitsubishi. We did like one salesperson better – she sat down and listened to us talk about what we wanted. One of the other salespeople had a 30 minute spiel before we could get a word in!

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