weekend open thread – May 20-21, 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: Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, by Jesse Q. Sutanto. An older woman with busybody tendencies finds a dead body in her small tea shop and takes it upon herself to investigate what happens. It’s funny and charming.

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

{ 955 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

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

  2. Daily reader, rare commenter*

    Wallace’s waistcoat might be a tad too small for him :)
    And that furry belly is definitely calling out for some rubs.

      1. Well...*

        Petting my cat on his belly until he inevitably mauls me is when I feel most alive.

      2. Seahorse*

        Two of my cats genuinely enjoy belly rubs, and the third loves the hand trap. It makes my house dangerous for visitors!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      When The Spanish Inquisition does that, she actually does want a belly rub. Or to just wrap herself around your hand and cuddle it while purring. It’s incredibly endearing, moreso because she worked up to this from occasionally sitting nearish to our ankles.

  3. Falling Diphthong*

    Anyone want to toss out any good book recommendations? Going to be traveling next weekend and would like to bring something. Something fun but well executed would be ideal.

    Recent book I loved in this vein: The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi, a rip-roaring tale of the sea.

    1. Weaver, reader of almost everything*

      Novelist suggests The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holt. I loved this novel, so I would second this suggestion. The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi looks great – adding it to my TBR.

      1. Random Dice*

        I enjoyed Part-Time Magic, it’s an enjoyable easy read (audiobook), with an interesting fact fantasy world and nice characters who strive to di the right thing.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. It’s actually the first of a five book series, written as the memoir of a bluestocking noblewoman scientist in a sort of alternative Victorian steampunk world where dragons are biologically real and the dominant religion of the society is based on Judaism.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          They’re SO good, I took them as vacation reading the first time I read them and blew through the whole five book series in a day and a half.

    3. old curmudgeon*

      If you’re looking for popcorn with a generous seasoning of snark, with a side of billionaires getting their richly deserved comeuppance, I’d recommend The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. It somewhat defies description, but it got me through an interminable time in a hospital waiting room, and even got me to laugh in the process.

      1. Jay*

        If you haven’t read “It’s A Very Scalzi Christmas” yet, read it. And thank me later!

        1. old curmudgeon*

          Oh, that’s one of my favorites, too – thanks for the reminder, I badly need some snort-giggles this weekend!

      2. Ancient Llama*

        I was coming to recommend ANYTHING by Scalzi, now I have a new one i need to read. Thanks!!

    4. Jay*

      Terry Pratchett is the obvious one. Jim Butcher can be surprisingly funny, although it’s really Urban Fantasy. The Chronicles Of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor is really good.

      This is a bit out of left field, but, if you are reading on a tablet or equivalent, you could try some collections of comic strips. Calvin And Hobs, Doonesbury, Bloom County, maybe even The Far Side or Pearls Before Swine. They are a travel standard for me.

          1. Mitchell Hundred*

            I prefer “Well, dog my cats!”

            Or “Don’t take life so serious, son: it ain’t no how permanent.”

    5. Mitchell Hundred*

      K.A. Doore’s Chronicles of Ghadid trilogy is my go-to recommendation for fun adventures. Assassins, angry ghosts, demons; the second book has zombie humans, zombie camels, and a zombie alligator. And each book has a different protagonist, all of whom get a queer romance plot.

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          She actually wrote The Impossible Contract first and then wrote The Perfect Assassin as a prequel, so it works as a stand-alone story.

          And The Unconquered City is mostly a sequel to the second one (although it does include a couple of characters from the first book in the background).

    6. Tiny clay insects*

      I was about to post this! I’m starting a long several weeks of traveling and need stuff to read.

      I’m currently finishing the latest in the Lady Sherlock series, myself.

    7. Tiny clay insects*

      My favorite traveling book is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. it’s got train travel all over Europe, hunting Dracula. I love it.

        1. Tiny clay insects*

          Oh it’s fabulous! let me know what you think of it in a future thread if you read it. My dream is to design a vacation inspired by all the places they go.

          1. MyCarIsMauve*

            This book got me through some weeks living a a rural Honduran cheesemaker’s home in the Peace Corps – lol! Def recommend!

    8. Perihelion*

      A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
      Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
      Jhegaala by Steven Brust

    9. MCL*

      I recently really enjoyed Gideon the Ninth, which is the first in a trilogy. Queer necromancers in space, and very funny.

      1. Random Dice*

        I just picked up this book, and just started. Appreciate the encouragement to keep reading.

    10. GoryDetails*

      Upbeat/personal-traveling: A Psalm for the Wild-built by Becky Chambers; really lovely, with some very funny bits.

      Classic novel with some intriguing suspense: Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – there’s a devious beauty and an idle slacker and a vanished best friend, and the reader’s in on a lot of the plot before the principle characters work it out, which is fun.

      There are more books listed in Jackalope’s what-are-we-reading thread below, too.

      1. Rose is a rose is a rose*

        I just finished A Psalm for the Wild-built and now I need to go get the sequel asap! It was soothing, charming, funny, and made me want to go see the tea monk.

        1. Random Dice*

          If you like the tea monk series you may also like Becky Chambers’ Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which I like to describe as like Firefly… if they all got therapy. It’s very soothing and nice. My favorite of her books!

        2. KathyG*

          Another vote here for Becky Chambers. Both A Psalm for the Wild Built, and A Prayer for the Crown Shy made me want to re-read them as soon as I finished them.

    11. FashionablyEvil*

      The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah should be right over the plate. SA Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy is also great—first one is City of Brass.

      1. Pippa K*

        Seconding The Stardust Thief. And there’s a sequel coming out early next year, so if you like it there’ll be more to look forward to.

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

      I adore Zen Cho’s book of short stories Spirits Abroad. She has a dark-but-silly sense of humor and a great way of capturing very relatable, human reactions to supernatural situations. She also incorporates a lot of Malaysian folklore, which I for one wasn’t at all familiar with, so that got my neophilic dopamine receptors going strong. I think short stories are great for travel where you might have lots of interruptions (or need natural breaks to remind you to get up and stretch). Can’t speak for other library systems, but I know that mine had the book available via Overdrive.

    13. Working Grandma*

      If you’ve not read any of the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and love rollicking good space opera I highly recommend it. There are about 20 books in the series, but I advise new readers to start with Agent of Change (besides, what’s not to love about 7-ft tall sentient turtles!) it’s free on Amazon Kindle, I believe.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        +1000
        There is an arc across multiple books, several groupings actually, but many are relatively self-contained. Not cliff-hangers, that is; more like “I really like these characters – tell me what happened next.” Because “and they all lived happily ever after” is for fairy tales.

        1. Ariaflame*

          And some chap books with short stories fleshing out the universe.
          Sharon has also done some Maine based mysteries and magical realism

    14. Pam Adams*

      Aliette de Bodard- All of it really, but I am recently in love with a pair of novellas- Of Dragons, Feasts and Murfers, and Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances.

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

      Inspired by Alison’s book rec this week, I enjoyed Jesse Q. Sutanto’s *Dial A for Aunties* — it’s like *The Trouble With Harry* with aunties.

    16. nobadcats*

      I mentioned this last weekend thread: The Book of the Raven, beautiful art and essays on ravens.

      Best as a bookbook, digital will do as well, but it’d be like trying to read The Book Thief in digital with all the art.

  4. Miki*

    PSA for furry pet owners: I finally found something that really removes hair from furniture, clothes! Found on r/cats on reddit an innocent comment about Uproot Clean . com and got Hairy-Situation Survival Kit – Uproot Pro & Mini™ (I love the bundle names, this is just one of them). To say I am impressed would be an understatement of the year! After trying it on a jacket that had hair imbedded in the material and successfully removing all of it I took the kit to work and before/after photos and many of my coworkers were impressed as well, and many orders were made right then and there (many cat people, some dog people and one dog/cats/horse person who specifically bought it to groom her horse!). There is 60% off sale happening right now.
    SO here I am, sharing the good news to wider masses. My cat hates that I removed all her long hair off of her cat tower (It looks brand new now), her pet bed, and bed cover is looking amazingly hair/fur free! Only downside is that it makes you want to clean everything around the house even more!

    1. English Rose*

      I’ll get my sister to take a look at this. She is also a furry pet owner and her hair goes everywhere! ;)

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’ll need to try this. I’ve seen it on TV and I always wonder if tools like this actually work. Thanks!

    3. Scientist*

      Ok this definitely reads like an awkward ad from an owner/part owner masquerading as a post.

      1. Miki*

        I wish I was the owner of this thing, honestly.
        Just a (one) cat lady finally finding something that works and sharing with people I thought might be appreciative.

      2. Rosyglasses*

        Well, I will weigh in then and say I actually love it as well. I bought one a year ago and it is amazing for pulling up hair from the cat bed and tree. That said, I don’t think I would use it regularly on couches and only for specific rug areas that might be the main place my dog or cat lay.

    4. Once too Often*

      Have you tried it for clearing human hair? (Some of us shed in similar ways…)

      1. nobadcats*

        Truth. My vacuum gets clogged with my hair and Princess Tiny Paws’ hair within 2 minutes.

    5. carcinization*

      My mom definitely needs this… she’s getting on in years, so cleaning isn’t the easiest for her, and when we visit her couch is completely covered in dog hair, so then we are as well. Went ahead and ordered a two-pack due to the discount since we have a dog with a double coat, and a cat as well, so we need it too.

      1. Miki*

        I think you’ll both be impressed.
        I also bought another two, for my sister and mom. Sale price(s) was definitely why I bought it in the first place, it was a bit too good to believe.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Does it work on car upholstery? My dog’s short hair just embeds into it!

      1. Miki*

        I was planning to try it on the car tomorrow as cat was all over the car and a friend had her Malamute in there as well! I’ll come back and post once done tomorrow.

      2. Anonymous*

        Here is the car update: works great on both cat and dog embedded hair! I seriously wish I’ve known about this gadget sooner (like 4 years sooner!)

  5. Blueberry Grumpmuffin*

    Need some thoughts/help with my current long-distance relationship.

    I (36F) live in California, he (37M) is in Hawaii. We’ve known each other for almost 15 years, been in the relationship for 7. We’ve talked several times about living together, and marriage is just a matter of when, not if.

    But we’re at an impasse when it comes to WHERE to live, because we have jobs that are difficult to move away from. My boyfriend is currently an adjunct at university, and has been struggling to obtain professorship; the humanities is in a really rough spot in the academic world, from what I gathered. I have a tech job and am in a fairly cushy spot finance-wise. I don’t know much about academia and career prospects associated with it, but our professional networks are mainly concentrated in our respective states. So we’re both afraid of moving out into the other’s state and having to find a new job (Hawaii’s tech market is nowhere near as big as Silicon Valley’s).

    What questions should I be asking him to move this relationship forward? We both want to make this relationship work, and being long-distance suuuccckkksss… but I’m out of ideas on how to close this distance as painlessly as possible.

    1. Ranon*

      Sounds like you both need to get more creative about the job market? Can you work remotely? Can he do a nation wide search and maybe land in a third place that might work for both of you?

      The non academic job market is vastly more flexible than the academic one in most cases, so you’re likely to be the one who needs to accommodate if being together is the priority- are you up for that?

      At some point you’re going to have to make the jump and take the risk. Big moves are hard, there’s not a painless option. You just have to make the choice.

      1. Blueberry Grumpmuffin*

        While my job is mostly WFH, I’m still retired to live in the vicinity of the office I’m assigned to, so no, not “fully” remote.

        Boyfriend has been searching nationwide for years now. He said he’s up for non-teaching options like writing for journals (which he kind of does now, for some academic publications), but I don’t know how much effort he’s put into that. His adjunct duties are already busy enough.

        1. Suli*

          That’s true for your current job. To make this work, you might need to be willing to change jobs and find one that’s fully remote. Are you up for that?

          1. Sloanicota*

            My immediate thought was … does OP want to live in Hawaii – does that sound appealing and fun and an adventure? Would you potentially be interested in doing that even if something didn’t work out with the partner? Are you prepared that the transition might be a bit bumpy but willing to have a good attitude about that? If so, finding remote work and relocating there is exactly the route I would choose.

          2. Tio*

            Even jobs that are technically fully remote might not have a nexus in Hawai’i, so she should have that as a main question if she’s job hunting for a new remote position.

    2. martini*

      I don’t know what you do in tech, there are definitely a relatively large number of remote dev positions. However, the jump from adjunct to tenure-track is very difficult, and if he’s been adjunct for more than 5 years he won’t make the jump. Also, he is unlikely to make that jump where’s he’s been adjuncting, but he will have to go to a smaller uni in an undesirable place, most likely.

      1. fposte*

        MTE. I can see choosing Hawaii because it’s Hawaii, but do it with the idea that his career is going to be lifelong adjuncting.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        This!

        While it’s fair that you both think of compromises I.e. both of you changing jobs and both moving, academia is extremely hard to have a career in. Even without a LD relationship, I’d be advising you BF that he needs to think about what to next just because from what I heard ajuncting is unstable and barely livable.

        For your consideration, the time zone difference makes working from home in Hawaii with people in mainland time zones extra difficult. And extra expensive to travel to the CONUS.

    3. AdjunctIsIffy*

      I’ve never met anyone who moved from adjunct to full time professor (other than temporary leave replacement positions), let alone tenure track. In academia, adjunct professors are generally expected to be professionals in some other field who are teaching because they like it or to get a tiny bit of extra money (you cannot make enough money to live on as an adjunct professor). I wish you and you partner luck, but I urge consideration of a backup plan.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s dependent on the subject/department. Adjuncts in professional schools generally follow the pattern you describe, and it can be a nice gig. Adjuncts in, say, humanities are likely new or newish PhDs who didn’t get a full contract and often are cobbling together an income from teaching at more than one school per semester. It’s a pretty rough existence.

        1. Hanani*

          Yes to all of fposte’s comments. Adjuncting forever is…well, I try to not use absolutes, but it comes pretty close to impossible. You’ll work 70 hrs a week at four different institutions for $40k a year with no benefits, and any or all of those jobs could be canceled with a week’s notice.

          Whether you can go from adjunct to fixed term or TT at a given institution depends on the institution. I’ve worked in some places where if you had to adjunct there, you must not be good enough for a fixed term or TT job (this is a truly mind boggling worldview, but it’s common particularly at R1s and R2s). I’ve worked in others that actively recruit from their adjunct pool for fixed-term and TT jobs. Even that latter scenario depends on there being a job for them to recruit you for, which in the humanities is less and less true.

          My PhD is in the humanities, and after trying out a couple paths, I went for a university staff job that I’ve been really enjoying. Non-academic work like the OP’s is inherently more flexible than academic work, but I think OP’s BF needs to start seriously making a Plan B. It’s hard! Both his own desires and the indoctrination of grad school all make it feel like it’s faculty or nothing, but as someone now on the other side, I’ve never been happier.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, and I think people familiar only with the professorial track may not realize how rich the alternative academic (alt-ac, as they’re known in universe) university possibilities can be. (I got framed as both NTT professor and alt-ac at different times, just due to admin and politics.) They can be research-focused if that’s your bag, they don’t necessarily preclude teaching if you love that, they can involve contact with students or never seeing one, or at least never seeing an undergrad.

          2. Pippa K*

            Joining the chorus here. If he does want to stay in the professorial part of academia and keep seeking a tenure-track position, the job market in the US is national, so he’d be very unlikely to be able to stay in Hawaii anyway. And the adjunct-to-tenure track move gets harder and less likely the longer one has been adjuncting. It’s an awful situation, and no reflection on him – our profession is increasingly exploitatively structured. The alt-ac route could serve him better. I hope he finds something stable and rewarding!

        2. AcademiaIsBrutal*

          My mother – with a Ph.D. in educational counseling from Columbia and formerly a full time professor teaching students how to become guidance counselors – spent the last 20 or so years of her career as an adjunct professor in English, psychology, and infrequently education making around $1200-1400/class plus the opportunity to buy really expensive health insurance (they charge part timers more). She decided to stay home with us kids for a few years and was unable to resume any semblance of a real teaching career after that. At best, she got a few leave replacement gigs for a semester at a time, but it was mostly straight adjunct instructor gigs at four different schools (two community colleges, a state school, and one private college).

          I would have made $1000/class teaching calculus as an adjunct as someone with just a Master’s degree from a different Ivy League school (I left my Ph.D. program in physics without finishing it).

          I worked a part time job at a tutoring center at a community college for $8.86/hr where I was the only physics tutor (of six) without a Ph.D. – think about that.

          Academia, even at community colleges, business colleges, etc. is brutal.

    4. SG*

      Regardless of the fact that it is difficult not usual to transition from adjunct to full professor, it certainly does happen, and there is much we don’t know his specific situation or job. Commenters are making assumptions about him and his opportunities (or lack thereof) at his current university that aren’t relevant to her question.
      Ranon made the one relevant point about bf’s job that is material to the OP’s situation, which is that the non-academic job market is vastly more flexible than the academic one in most cases.

      1. Sloanicota*

        True, but I will say that among my heterosexual couple friends, they generally made the decision to move for the more lucrative job as the best decision for the couple overall. I do think it sounds like that is OP’s job, which is one point in favor of the partner being the one to relocate.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I’m a cis/het woman married to a man. I’m an MD. He’s a PhD who was determined (or desperate) for a tenure-track position, and so I ended up being the trailing spouse despite being the primary breadwinner throughout our marriage because we had to go where the academic job was. We’re 62 and now both retired. In retrospect we both realize this was absurd and driven by unconscious sexism – if the degrees had been reversed, I would have been the trailing spouse because he earned more money.

          He left academia – but only after he achieved tenure and finally looked around and realized he was miserable. Until then his identity was completely tied up with the idea of being a tenured faculty member. He found his TT job two years after finishing his PhD, he’s a scientist, and this was 35 years ago – the academic job market is much, much tighter now and always was tighter in the humanities. OPs partner needs to come to grips with the “what if” of not getting a TT job. That’s difficulty, painful work. I don’t know how you can frame the conversation to help with that.

          You can only decide what’s best for you and what compromises you are willing to make. You can’t do his work for him or make up his mind for him. One of the commenters below asks what would happen if he does get a TT job and it’s somewhere you don’t want to live. When my husband was looking I vetoed one job listing – a state university in a remote part of the Southwest where there was no synagogue and no hospital, so no community or meaningful work for me. He applied anyway behind my back. When I found out, I told him that I wasn’t moving there – if he got the job and went there, it would be the end of our marriage. We’d done the long-distance thing already and I was not going to do it again. We’re both grateful he didn’t get the job.

          tl;dr: Academia is hell. He needs to figure out his plan B, and you need to figure out your bottom line non-negotiables. Hugs.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah, I didn’t want to be the jerk to bring it up but, among the couples I know who moved for the lower-paying job … it was always the case that the woman was the higher earner :( These things are so tricky to navigate, and OP can’t let the macro stuff interfere with the best decision for this specific couple, but it’s really hard :(

    5. Academia Adjacent*

      The humanities faculty job market is dire; hundreds of brilliant and qualified people will apply to a single position. (And the demographic dip in 18-year-olds coming up in a few years is not going to help universities.)

      Questions I’d ask him:

      Is he only trying to get a position in Hawai’i, or is he applying anywhere else? Not just for permanent faculty; has he tried to get an adjunct position that’s closer to Silicon Valley, even if it’s teaching the departmental survey course at a community college? Is he applying to every position in his specialty that comes open anywhere in the US (which, granted, may well be one or two a year)?

      For how many years is he going to try to get a professorship before he moves to plan B? His chances of getting hired decrease the longer it’s been since his PhD — there’s plenty of equally brilliant younger folks applying for that same job.

      And what is his plan B? Does he want to look into university staff positions? Think tanks? Secondary school teaching? Corporate training? Stay-at-home dad if you two want to try for kids? Something completely different?

      Questions for you:

      What if he does get a professorship — and it’s in a small town with terrible internet service outside the university, no jobs outside the Wal-Mart and the nearby meat-packing plant, and a three-hour drive to the nearest bigger city? Are you comfortable with living anywhere his job takes him, or are there places you don’t want to live?

      Are you comfortable with being the main financial support of the relationship? (And is he comfortable with that too?) If he decides to stay an adjunct, would you be okay with him holding a job that takes a lot of his time and doesn’t pay squat?

      On the one hand, you have more flexibility to move than he does; on the other hand, you as a couple would have better financial stability and work-life balance if you kept your tech job and he worked retail or fast food or a low-level office job. I don’t recommend that you quit your job and move to where he is unless he gets a permanent position, and even then, I’d be looking really closely at the liveabilty and job prospects for you in the area. Because even if it’s tenure-track, he might not get tenure, or the university’s finances might implode and his department get cut. And it’s far more likely that he won’t get a permanent job at all.

      1. Blueberry Grumpmuffin*

        Thank you for these questions. Some we’ve talked about, others not so much.

        He’s been searching nationwide for years now. It’s been more than 5 years since he got his PhD. He’s open to alternatives like high school or community college teaching, but from what I heard from him, generally positions for those are biased towards locals – i.e. California positions prefer California residents, etc. (side note: he was born and raised in California, but has been living in Hawaii for more than a decade now)

        I recently came to the same conclusion you made in your last paragraph: I have more flexibility to move (in theory), but also am more able to support both of us financially with my current job. Thinking about it some more, I think it would be better if he moves back to California, since he still has friends and family here. But it would come down to whether or not he’s willing to make that move, and how much of a blow to his self-image is he willing to take when he finds himself jobless for who knows how long. The former, I’m able to chip in to make happen. The latter, that would be tough.

        1. JSPA*

          In the interim, any chance of a sabatical?

          What’s the specific draw of Hawaii for him, and is it something that could be satisfied with 3 months in summer (if he stays in something academic)?

          Would you both be able to live somewhere with a lower cost of living to make 3 months in hawaii annually, an option? (If he is living on an adjunct salary in Hawaii, I’m thinking he is either already living very, very simply, or already living on some outside funds.)

          Living in two places is not without stresses, but it’s doable.

        2. Maestra*

          He can try looking at independent schools. I teach at a high school that loves hiring PhDs. We regularly hire new teachers from outside our home state. Our student body is small, our class sizes are very reasonable, and the students are highly motivated. I have used a nationwide head hunter called Carney Sandoe with success. He could also look into NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools). Many states have their own AIS version as well.

        3. Filosofickle*

          Yeah, it’s up to him if he’s willing to come to CA. But it’s impossible for me to believe that CA (particularly SV/Bay Area) doesn’t offer him more opportunities than HI, overall. I live here outside of San Francisco and have friends in academia, and there are SO MANY schools here. Some great, some not. But the sheer number of colleges / community colleges / prep schools in northern CA is astonishing which makes it one of the best markets for the pair of you. He may not have found his opportunity here yet, but he’s more likely to find it here than staying in Hawaii. (Which doesn’t mean he’ll find it here either. Academia is tough and can mean going where the job is. But if he’s not landing professor jobs, at least you can string together work here. Employment is possible here.)

        4. BubbleTea*

          With the preference for local residents, he has the major advantage of being able to legitimately use your address when applying for jobs, and having a place to stay when interviewing for them.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I’m an academic, I used to live in California, and my spouse used to live in Hawaii.
      My first, overwhelming response is “Not Hawaii”. It’s a long way from anywhere, it’s a relatively small labour pool and there’s a very strong tendency for people to be really enthusiastic about the idea of moving to Hawaii and then get fed up and leave within five years. Which, as a side effect, means the locals are very slow to warm up to blow-ins.

      Questions I would ask him – How stable is the adjunct position? Term to term, or a longer term contract? If he doesn’t get a more stable job, how long is he planning on staying in an adjunct position? How many people have moved from adjunct positions to professorships (or other stable position) at this particular university/department (ie, is there any possibility of staying in Hawaii)? What other cities is he applying for jobs in, and is he getting shortlisted? If he leaves this job, or his employment isn’t renewed, what will he do next?

      Probably the most straightforward thing would be for you to get a remote tech job that lets you work from anywhere in the US. Then you can follow him until he either leaves academia or gets a permanent job somewhere. There are a lot of long distance relationships and following spouses in my field, and they tend to fit into two modes – one person puts her career on the back burner and follows her partner until they settle somewhere, or they stay mostly long distance until someone gets a permanent job, and then they work from there.

      It’s definitely a difficult situation, so good luck!

    7. Well...*

      There is lots of adjunct and community college teaching work in California, but I’ll be honest; the route from adjunct to full professor is extremely narrow. Almost nonexistent. The job market is competitive: your partner had a low chance of getting on the tenure track when he finished his PhD, but once he became an adjunct, that chance fell considerably. If his professional network does not span the USA, it really isn’t looking good. To get on the TT, your work needs to be at least nationally if not internationally known in your field, and you should have collaborators at many different universities (at least in my field).

      I’d say your partner should move on from a career that’s never going to pay him well, never going to give him job security, and is now risking his relationship. Or, if he’s happy as a an adjunct, look for similar teaching work in CA. If he’s staying in HI holding out hope for a tt job, idk if that’s worth it.

      Also HI is not a great place to stay long term if you’re building an academic network — people there get pretty isolated because it’s more expensive to travel from/to there. It’s fine to stay for a few years (like 1 PhD or postdoc) but to hustle for a tt job, you have to stay mobile and move around unless you live in a university-dense area like some parts of California, Boston, etc.

      1. Juliane*

        I second that – academia, and especially getting TT, is such a dire job market that I wouldn‘t recommend giving up your well-paying job in the hopes of your partner becoming a professor. It sucks, because working in academia could be so cool (I worked in the humanities for a couple of years), but the working conditions are so bad, it’s really hard to plan a career, let alone a life.

        1. Well...*

          I love it but my husband and I have always been ready to leave. As soon as the crap outweighs the rewarding aspects, we’re out. We’ve gotten so much out of it — I’ve been able to live in three countries, travel all over the world, work on interesting problems, operate completely independently. But I’ve had to live apart from my husband on and off for years, and the work life balance is nonexistent. Every year we talk about leaving, and even now we both have tt jobs, but we’re thinking of getting out. It’s only worth it as long as it’s worth it.

    8. Zzzzzz*

      Re writing: depending on SOs subject-matter expertise, check out communications/PR forms–I know science writers are (often) in demand around the US, and for full-time as well. And you can adjunct teach at local universities if that’s a need to fulfillment-wise.

    9. PoolLounger*

      I’d think it’d be much easier for a tech person to find a remote job than an academic to find another tenure-track position, and have to perhaps start from scratch to get full tenure.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        He doesn’t have a TT position – he’s an adjunct. And has been for years since finishing his PhD. That makes a TT position less likely. As in not likely at all.

      2. Academia Adjacent*

        If he were already in a tenure-track position, then I would agree that LW should move to where he is if she wants to continue this relationship and live in the same place.

        But he’s not; he’s an adjunct, and he’s over five years out from his PhD in the humanities. I won’t say it’s impossible that he’ll get a TT job, but I will say that the chances are so low that LW should not uproot her career in the hopes that he will.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          That said, I do think it’s likely that he could find an *adjunct* job in CA, especially if OP lives in a part of the state with several universities. A humanities PhD also opens up options like directing campus writing centers, teaching first-year writing, or doing student advising, which might not be directly related to his field but could be cobbled together with lecturing to create something full-time-esque.

          I guess the real question for me is what the value of Hawaii in particular is, or if there’s something unique about the adjunct set-up there (like, if he’s listed as an adjunct but is given a 3-3 teaching load and health insurance, for ex). Because if he’s aiming for a TT job and it does somehow manage to work out, that’s almost definitely going to involve relocating anyway. Some people are very emotionally connected to particular places, which I completely understand, but then this needs to be a conversation about Hawaii and not about an elusive TT position.

          (And I say all of this as a cishet woman in academia who has been broken up with/ended relationships because I don’t want to be the trailing partner. This whole dynamic is very gendered to me, and I can’t imagine a situation where I, as an adjunct, would be able to ask a higher-earning male partner to move to a remote location with worse job prospects so that I could pursue a pipe dream career path).

    10. Mac (I Wish All the Floors Were Lava)*

      Warning, critique of colonialism forthcoming!

      If neither of you are Native Hawaiian, I would suggest taking that into consideration as a point for why not to move there. The cost of living/property being driven up by high-earning settlers already makes it incredibly hard for Native families to survive there. Yes, we could talk about how all of the US is ill-gotten land, but there are certain areas where the impact of the harm done by settler colonialism and gentrification is magnified by the practical geography of the situation– I’m talking islands. I think all of the points other people have made about not hanging your hopes and dreams on getting tenure are very true. The number of folks I know with multiple degrees who gave up and ended up working in coffee shops or teaching high school are legion. But if it helps to have a bigger-picture POV, prioritizing not doing harm to a fragile ecosystem and community should also be in the mix.

      1. Redux*

        Thank you for this comment! Boosting your environmental point by adding that if your families/community are not in HI, then you are very likely hopping on a plane a few times a year– a not insignificant carbon footprint!

    11. Analyst Editor*

      Do you plan to try for a family with this person?
      Right now it looks like he’s stringing you along to pursue a low-prospect professional career, while you wait for him. Under the circumstances you describe, and especially if you want children, I would *not* uproot everything and move to Hawaii, unless you are willing to live there – where it’s very expensive, without your or his support system, and further risking a separation and co-parenting together under those circumstances. (Incidentally, is he willing to be the primary housekeeper/parent, since your job has to be the priority, given that you’re the bread-winning spouse? Something to think about before getting married or having children.)

    12. the delight*

      Not sure if this is up your alley, OP, but there’s an HGTV show called “moving for love” that portrays other couples in this situation. It has a real estate buying angle that may not be helpful, but it does show some of the logic (and not so logic) factors couples consider when bridging the gap of LD relationship.

    13. Samwise*

      If your guy is an adjunct in the humanities, and has been searching for years, then his prospects are grim for a tenure track position, or even a fairly permanent non t-t position. The number of such positions has been declining for decades. Few adjunct positions are full time, they don’t usually have much in the way of benefits, and the pay is crap. Forgive my bluntness here, but: he is no longer a shiny new phd, and that’s who he’s competing with — and he just can’t compete.

      If he likes academia, he can look for other positions, especially in academic-adjacent sorts of jobs. Now, he’s still not going to get a great salary, but he can find full time work with decent benefits. Right now a lot higher ed is losing a lot of folks, so a pretty good time to be looking.

      He can take a look at the online job listings for any institution that interests him and see what’s there. Then he needs to get assistance with his resume and cover letter, because the cc and letter for a faculty position is waaaaaay different and you do NOT want to just use those for any other job, not even other jobs in academia.

      If he wants, he can continue to look for a f-t teaching job. Or the editing etc work he’s been aiming for (also a high competition job market). But he would be wise not to make those his be all and end all.

      1. Hanani*

        Regarding alt-ac pay, it really depends. I’m making 20% more in a university staff position than assistant profs make at my previous institution, and about the same as (humanities) full profs. R1 profs will make
        more, sure, but lots of liberals arts and regional comprehensive colleges don’t pay humanities faculty all that well. It varies greatly by institution and position, but don’t assume that staff positions have to pay less.

        1. Squeakrad*

          Long-term adjunct here in California who likes being an adjunct I never wanted to go tenure or tenure-track. I’m approaching retirement in the next year and a half or so so I’ve been at this a long time. I have some serious advice for you. We are in the midst of looking at a major downturn in the number of students attending colleges in California over the next 10 years. When I started my job over 10 years ago, I remember reading many articles about how there would be many fewer students attending university in the next 10 to 15 years and I thought “I’m glad I’m going to be retiring before that.“ So moving to California might be the worst possible move if your boyfriend wants to stay as an Academic. This goes for adjunct, tenure, track, staff, counseling, and advising positions.

          That said, there are areas of California that will probably be less impacted than others. The Los Angeles area will probably be somewhat less impacted than the bay area itself. But I wouldn’t count on him being able to stay in the academic field if he moves here.

          Conversely, I work for the state university system, which means that after 6 years part time or three years full-time, I’m eligible for three year at a time contracts, which I have held since I was first eligible. This puts me at the top of the seniority list, and since acquiring a three-year contract, I have never lost a Class or been bumped from a class. This is almost the opposite of the UC system, where adjuncts are routinely cycled in and out after a year or two.

          In addition, most of the people I know who moved to Hawaii move back within a few years. As others have noted, it’s an island community, it doesn’t really belong to the US, and I think it’s only going to get more challenging for non-natives to live and work there.

          I hope this is helpful. I really loved being an adjunct. I never wanted to responsibility in the stress of being 10 year or tenure track. There’s a lot of service, research and publishing requirements to be tenured that I just never wanted to engage with. I love teaching, and I love putting my heart and soul into my teaching.
          However, I’m also distressed by the number of commenters here thinking that being an adjunct is a lowly less ambitious job than others. I chose to stay ann adjunct rather than go into a tenure or tenure-track position because I’d rather teach then research. While I don’t make a lot of money, I work for the state system so my retirement is guaranteed, and once I retire the university system will pay my health insurance, the rest of my life. That makes it a fair bargain.

          1. Professional child wrangler*

            This is so interesting! As a native Californian, I had no idea it was so much relatively better to adjunct in the state system than for the UCs. Thanks for enlightening us all.

            1. Bob-White of the Glen*

              I believe all pay in better in the CSU vs. UC systems. As a newly minted MLIS, entry level job for librarians had a $10,000 difference, even when the CSU and UC were in the same city. (I was looking at San Diego.) I guess prestige of working at a UC with the “elite” student was worth the poverty wages?

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

      Adjuncting sucks, and career prospects for adjuncts suck, but I think your sweetie would likely be no worse off in California adjuncting than in Hawaii. That doesn’t solve the long-term problem, but there’s no reason to stay in Hawaii when one could do no worse in CA. While it does sometimes happen, it is actually very rare to go from adjuncting to full-time work at the same institution, so I wouldn’t worry too much about where your sweetie’s current connections are. The real issue will come when your sweetie does a successful national job search sometime and lands a full-time job who knows where. Any way your skillset could turn into a work-from-home job for you? That would help a lot.

      1. academia re/ex-pat*

        Is teaching online an option? I know lots of people hate it but sometimes online adjuncts get paid a little more because people hate it and adjuncts can have better teaching practices put into their contracts which is easier than getting resistant tenured faculty to implement. Many schools have teaching centers or instructional design groups that will help train you. (Full disclosure, I’m in one of those.) It’s not for everyone but not as bad as people think. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. :)

        Also, to clarify, I’m talking about established, legit, online programs, not thrown together emergency online pandemic teaching.

        P.S. Avoid OPMs that come in and run online programs for you. They are just corporate shills. I expect they pay terribly, too.

    15. Jackalope*

      One other detail that some of the others have sort of touched on but not gone into: Hawaii can be a difficult place to live if you’re not from there. It’s a wonderful, beautiful set of islands, and has an awesome culture, but that culture is pretty different from the rest of the US and can be hard to adjust to if you’re not born and raised there. And there are also things like Rock Fever to consider; if you come from the mainland where you have literally thousands of miles to go in any direction, then living on a comparatively tiny island in the middle of the ocean can feel extremely constricting. It might not happen – it doesn’t happen to everyone – but for many people who move there it’s a real concern.

      Other issues like this are something to consider if you think about moving to HI. I’m not going into culture shock issues for your bf going to CA since he’s lived there before and presumably knows what he’s getting into a bit more, but it’s something to think about.

  6. Laura H*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    We had to say goodbye to our 15 year old Labrador this week and that’s a downer, but knowing she lived a good and long life while being able to grieve her absence is a small joy in itself.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. SequinPantaloons*

      Took my kids to the animatronic dinosaur exhibit at our zoo and it was so cute watching my 7 month old reach for the moving dinosaurs and my 5 year old got to ride a dino-themed quad bike!

    2. Rara Avis*

      In Baltimore for a conference this weekend. I grew up on the east coast but have lived elsewhere for 20+ years. On a walk today the scent of honeysuckle was taking me back to my childhood, when we would pluck the blossoms and drink the nectar.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I am so very sorry for your loss.

      I keep this Reddit comment on hand that helped me when I lost two of mine over the past few years. Sharing in case it helps you. It makes me cry every time I read it but in a clean kind of way.

      “I have an old dog in kidney failure too. Haven’t told her yet, she just keeps being happy.

      I’m old too, and I’ve had animals my whole life, mostly cats and dogs in various multiples. Do the math and you can see I’ve been here before.

      The way I reconcile it is pretty straightforward, and well in line with the overall Stoic approach to things. It always begins the same way- see things plainly for what they are, understand the natures of the things involved, and respond reasonably and virtuously to the reality around us.

      Every day I care for my animals, keeping them happy, keeping them safe, shepherding them through their day with joy, and without harm. When they get old and approach death, nothing changes. As crazy as it sounds, the day I take them to the vet to be put down is the day that I have been working for all this time – I have successfully taken them the whole way. They did not get lost, they were not unhappy, they got to live their whole natural lives the way I wanted them to live it. We made it. We got there together.

      When they are gone, my feelings for them don’t change. Their bodies are taken but my feelings are my own; I still love them, I am still happy to think of them, my heart is still open.

      What has changed is that I have a space for another thing to love, and the cycle continues again, when I’m ready to start anew.

      Their bodies, our bodies, everything external to us will always change and always come and go. Our love, our care, our joy belongs to us, and we apply it to what we have and to what is new.”

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I love this! It’s how I’ve always looked at it, but was never able to verbalize in a coherent manner.
        Thank you for sharing!
        And Laura H, I’m very sorry for your loss

      2. BreakingDishes*

        My husband died in November due to complications from surgery.
        I’m going to take a page from this. We did not get lost, we were not unhappy. I was with him all the way and made his life better (as he did mine). We got here together, but I need to continue alone.

        1. Pippa K*

          Oh, this is very poignant. And, like the comment above, a lovely way of looking at it. I’m sorry for your loss, and Laura H’s.

    4. sewsandreads*

      I bought overalls. I have wanted overalls for ages, and they are just so cosy and snuggly for winter!

      (Admittedly, winter where I am is not winter for most places, so overalls are cosy enough!)

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      My neighborhood is full of the most lovely flower gardens in people’s yards. Just watching down the street puts me in a good mood.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      And I’m sorry about the loss of your dog. I’m glad you are able to recognize the wonderful life you provided for her.

    7. Mitchell Hundred*

      I got to see a revival of one of my all-time favourite musicals with its original cast. It was a rare opportunity, because the writer and director of the play has (to my knowledge) never licensed it out to be performed by anyone other than this company. And considering that I’d only seen it once over a decade ago, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see it again.

      It’s called “Nevermore”, it’s about the life of Edgar Allen Poe, and the costumes are drawn from an aesthetic that I can only describe as “goth Dr. Seuss.”

    8. Middle Aged Lady*

      Aww, Labs are sweet. Sorry you lost s beloved pet.
      I spent the afternoon with a friend and her two adult and two puppy Pomeranians. We hung out in the yard. They played ball, dug holes, lounged in the shade, got cuddled. It was relaxing and hilarious. They are funny little creatures.

    9. AGD*

      Tulips! I’m located in a city that is so full of them it’s a tourist attraction.

    10. English Rose*

      So sorry about your lovely Lab.
      Yesterday afternoon I sat with some friends in the late afternoon sunshine. We were in their garden, drinking tea, nibbling cookies and chatting. We could bear birds singing with joy and see mayflies dancing in the breeze. Bliss.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I seem to have (hopefully) turned the corner on nighttime pain after my total hip replacement a few weeks ago. I plan to attempt driving this weekend to see if I’m ready yet. Just around the block for now.

    12. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

      I have been, since I first learned to read, an avid reader. So much so that I became a librarian. Books are a huge part of my identity.
      My 7yo son, while he’s a very good reader, has never really enjoyed books. It always made me a little sad that I couldn’t share my love of reading with him.
      UNTIL… I was recently able to introduce him to a series he *loves.* And now he is coming to me with “reader’s problems!” Like “Mom, I hate when silent reading time is over but I still have half a page left in my chapter!” “Mom, my teacher said I’m not allowed to read while we’re walking down the hall.” “Mom, I brought my book to lunch but it was too loud in there.”
      Sniff He’s mine after all!!!

      1. Rose is a rose is a rose*

        As someone who only ever got in trouble in grade school for reading too much, that’s wonderful! What series is currently enthralling your son?

        1. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

          “The Last Kids on Earth” by Max Brallier.
          And we agreed that we’ll watch the Netflix series together once he reaches Book Ten!

    13. Voluptuousfire*

      Im so sorry about your doggo.

      I took a quick trip to Florida this week for some R&R and it was lovely. Got some sun and luxuriated in the pool, which was so nice. I needed it. I also had dinner with one of my old coworkers who lives down there. It was great to meet her in person since she worked remotely.

    14. StellaBella*

      I had very good news from my doctor Friday so since I had the day off (took a sick day in case it was bad news) I picked up a friend and we drive to a little tourist town an hour from here and walked, shopped, had lunch and chatted all afternoon.

    15. fposte*

      So sorry about your sweet Lab, Laura.

      It is peony season here, and today is the peak of my particular favorites, which bloom wildly and therefore require that I bring armloads into the house.

    16. Vanessa*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Time with our sweet dog goes too fast.
      My dog is recently ten and slowing down. I try to take occasional days off or work from home so we can have special time without all the chaos of the rest of the family. Yesterday was one of those days. We had extra pets and snuggles and treats. We barked at the fedex guy. It was a really nice day.

    17. GoryDetails*

      I finally replaced my fading old CRT-based television with a flat screen, and oh, the difference… The new TV is larger, which helps given my aging eyesight, and it’s also a lot brighter – the old set made a lot of low-light scenes in movies practically invisible. Getting used to a new remote and online guide and whatnot is taking a while, but overall I’m quite happy with it. (And it was a literal weight off when I swapped the 40-something-pound set for the amazingly-light flatscreen.)

    18. Tiny clay insects*

      A new inhaler! My asthma has gotten worse and I finally talked to the doctor and am now on a daily inhaler and, like, it is a beautiful thing to have better-functioning lungs.

    19. Junior Dev*

      A teenage neighbor cat yelled at my door a few nights ago and was very cuddly for a few minutes before I went back inside.

    20. Bright Eyes*

      May 5 and 19 mark one year since I had cataract removal on each of my eyes. For the last year, the first thing I do when I wake up each morning is to roll over, look at the trees outside my window, and realize I can clearly see each … little … leaf. It’s still a joy, one year and counting.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      *HUGS* I’m so sorry.

      A few:

      –Making a huge batch of spaghetti and meat sauce with my own pots and then being able to chuck them into the dishwasher (I haven’t had a dishwasher since I was a child!)
      –A friendly conversation with the guy who works at the breakfast cafe in my office building.
      –When I unpacked all my dolls house and crafts books. I haven’t actually finished a house or room box project, but the possibility exists, lol. Just paging through them and imagining what I want to do has always brought me joy. I will never get rid of the books even if my ideas exceed my ability to execute them.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thank you, I am! :)
          I had that envy for soooooo long. Along with dishpan hands, haha.

    22. delaware*

      Ran into a regular tutoring client I’ve worked with all year on the street today. He’s graduating, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever see each other again, but getting to see each other, banter, wish each other luck, and promise I’ll watch the ted talk he sent me and tell him to stay in touch was really great. Walked away smiling for half a mile. I love little connections like these– not friends, exactly, but ties.

    23. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Walking outside on a totally glorious day weather-wise and seeing a large wedding party getting their pictures taken on the steps of the courthouse.

      And seeing all the happy graduates going out for dinner last night.

    24. carcinization*

      I had a rough week at place that cannot be named, and my husband came home from his own place that cannot be named one evening with a silly balloon, some flowers, and a puzzle for me, to cheer me up. That was really nice. I’m going to try to surprise him with a nice meal tomorrow in return.

    25. FACS*

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet doggo.
      older graduated from law school and is heading off for legal Masters degree. My 90 year old father made it and was beside himself with joy.

    26. Hotdog not dog*

      We went plant shopping in the rain today. No crowds, and I would have gotten muddy either way so we figured why not? Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful weather, so now I can spend the whole day planting instead of battling crowds at the nursery.

    27. Dancing Otter*

      All the quilts I entered were accepted and are now hanging in the quilt show! I don’t expect to win a prize, but several people said very kind things about them.

      I counted up, and I have finished eleven quilts so far this year, compared to eight in all of last year. There are still far too many unfinished projects, and I’m not even going to try to count the queue, but I feel really good about how many UFOs I managed to get done.

      And I escaped the “books and scraps” sale room for only $8. I /may/ have bought a book that I donated myself at the last show. Oops, but for only a dollar….

    28. MahjMissionAccomplished*

      I finally updated my Mah Jongg card to 2023 – I never managed to update in 2022 – and I won the first hand I played.

      To explain, I play online these days, so I need to get legible photos of each leaf of the large, unwieldy, folding card that I can open on my computer to play. This is a surprisingly difficult process for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it takes at least three hands to easily get a good picture and I am but a single human with two.

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

      Heard some jammin’ music driving in the rain today!

    30. allathian*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Summer’s almost here, I had a lovely day on the rocky shore followed by a great three course meal at a fantastic restaurant, and in the company of my best friends.

    31. BreakingDishes*

      Today I’m riding bike trails around Xenia Ohio. I’ve got a TerraTrike EVO (electric assist), which means I can ride a bike again!!! Big joy! I can’t walk very well or stand very long-but this bike allows me to go places again.

    32. Dainty Lady*

      An enormous nice thing: After >20 yr of sleeping in the (admittedly really nice) bed that my husband had in his previous marriage…. we bought and installed a NEW REALLY NICE bed and today are going out to get lovely sheets and things.

      We also rearranged the bedroom and took some ugly junky things out of it which I will resist having come back with all my might. It is beautiful and serene. …now if we could just get new dressers so as not to have the ones from the previous marriage!!

    33. OyHiOh*

      I bought a pair of ballroom practice shoes a few months ago and they finally arrived this week. They are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn in my life. They feel like slippers but look like real grown up office appropriate shoes. Mesh upper, 1.5 inch cuban heel, and a split sole. My feet are so happy!!!

    34. Rosyglasses*

      After a really poopy week, my husband found a goat farm that you can visit and today I went with my twenty-something son and snuggled goats and chickens and just had some time away to not think about w*rk drama. And then I came home and had a really nice long nap.

  7. Jackalope*

    What has everyone been reading this week? Anything good? Any recs?

    I’ve been reading books by Margaret Rogerson, including Sorcery by Thorn. I really enjoyed it; a fun fantasy with fun characters.

    1. word nerd*

      Jackalope! I read the T. Kingfisher books you recommended: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, Swordheart, and Bryony and Roses. All were enjoyable, but Defensive Baking was definitely my favorite. Then, since you also mentioned Robin McKinley during your rec, who I hadn’t read before, I read The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, and Spindle’s End. The Blue Sword in particular was amazing–I gave it 5/5 stars on Goodreads, which is rare for me. So basically you were the reason for six of my recent reads. I’ve realized that I don’t love some of the horror elements that creep into Kingfisher’s ostensibly non-horror books, but I’m so happy to have discovered McKinley thanks to you! She’s such a good writer, and I look forward to reading more of her stuff down the road.

      I guess I’m on a bit of a fantasy kick since I finally got around to reading Naomi Novak’s Scholomance trilogy last week too (the first two were fun, but what the heck happened in the last one??).

      I’ve also interspersed these fantasy reads with some other books I felt obliged to read (ahem, terrible Marriage Portrait for book club), but I’ve been finding it very satisfying lately to read well-written fantasy focused on a strong, not-too-angsty heroine going on an epic adventure/quest (see the Blue Sword). Any recs along this vein that are not horror, unfinished series, or, um, Sarah J. Maas? I’ve read and enjoyed plenty of Ursula Le Guin, Philip Pullman, Gail Carson Levine, and Diana Wynne Jones, but I’d like to explore some new authors, and I’m open to adult fantasy too despite just naming a bunch of children’s authors.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Scholomance 3 was a RIDE! The funny thing was that there were a few people in the fandom who did some ‘what if’ pieces when 1 & 2 were out that turned out very prophetic and the comments went crazy.

        Very, very in keeping with Novik’s other stuff though.

        1. word nerd*

          I just feel like poor Orion got shafted in comparison to the juicy role he got in book 1, the plot felt rambly and poorly structured, the ending was unsatisfying, and what the heck was the random bisexual episode in the middle that didn’t fit with the rest of the plot and felt thrown in just for the author to say, look, I put in something LGBTQ+ here!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I absolutely loved Scholomance 3, and thought it completely in keeping with the two earlier books.

            I can’t say what I expected the third to be because the first two are so completely isolated from what’s going on in the outside world. But what the author gave us I thought fit beautifully, and on reread everything is seamless and you can see the groundwork being laid.

      2. Shiara*

        If you haven’t read Patricia Wrede, basically anything by her. Her main series are Dealing with Dragons, Sorcery and Cecilia, and Thirteenth Child.

        Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith involves a young noblewoman attempting to overthrow an evil king and then what happens next.

        You might also enjoy “The Wizard Hunters” by Martha Wells. It’s the first book of a trilogy called the fall of Ile Rien.

        1. word nerd*

          Oh yes, I <3 Patricia Wrede so much, but thanks for the reminder that I should try going deeper into her oeuvre instead of just rereading the Dealing with Dragons series :). I didn't like the Cecelia & Kate series as much, but that doesn't mean I can't explore others!

          I love Murderbot, so I've put Wizard Hunters on my Libby, thanks!

      3. Sheila Did It*

        I have always loved The Blue Sword! The first time I read it, I thought it was going to bore me to death. I loved being so wrong about that! I liked The Hero and the Crown as well. Haven’t read The Blue Spindle.
        I think I’ll check out The Wizard’s Guide to Baking.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I finally started Scholomance 1 based on the recs here. (I skipped some of the above comments because I HATE spoilers…)

          I am listening to the audiobook and find the main character’s constant complaining really grating and irritating. I talked to a friend who read it and we think it might be the narrator since they didn’t get that impression. It is a little better now that I’m further along, currently on chapter 10 but oof. It felt like it moved slowly at the beginning and was hard to get into, too.

          It’s ok and finally getting more interesting but I’m disappointed. I was also looking for an alternative to the bigoted author’s books who must not be named, but it’s just not doing it for me.

          I’m going to finish this one because I want to know what happens and because I waited a really long time for my library hold. I’m probably not going to continue but if I do I’m taking a break. The books are darker/more depressing than expected. It’s not necessarily bad but I didn’t know that going in. I have some lighter summer reading in my TBR pile calling to me.

          1. word nerd*

            Yeah, I hear you. There is a lot of wallowing in those books. Not sure if my post was one of the ones you skipped, but I asked for some book recs above that specified a “not-too-angsty heroine” for that reason. :P

            1. the cat's pajamas*

              Haha, yes I did skip that one. I loved The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater. The heroine could be considered angsty. She’s had a rough life and it’s set in Ireland so there’s a life sucks but deal with it in a confident and no nonsense way. I found it more like she’s kicking arse and doing something about it. The audiobook narrators are amazing. It switches back and forth between two main characters.

              1. word nerd*

                Ooh, that looks right up my alley! Just put it on hold, thanks! (Plus I’m always on the lookout for good audiobooks because I get eye strain easily from work.)

      4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m so glad that you’ve found these great books. I also read Nettle and Bone and it was so good! it’s by T Kingfisher!

        1. word nerd*

          Yes, that’s the book that got me asking for more Kingfisher recommendations that I then read from Jackalope! :)

      5. Jackalope*

        Let me think about it a little bit. I’m glad you enjoyed Robin’s work; she does great stuff. I hear you on T Kingfisher; I enjoy her but she does have more horror elements than I’m generally into. Have you read Elizabeth Moon at all? She had a trilogy printed awhile ago that I have in an omnibus collection under the name The Deed of Paksennarion, but it was originally printed as 3 separate books. She also in the last 10 years posted a sequel series to that one. Not sure what you’d think but I enjoyed it a lot. (She also does some sci-fi but that’s not as much my style.)

        1. word nerd*

          No, I’ve not read any Elizabeth Moon. Unfortunately, it looks like DOP is not available as an audiobook in my local library (I prefer audiobooks for leisure if possible because I have to use my eyes a lot for work and they get strained easily), but her Vatta’s War series is available. Maybe I’ll give that a try unless you come back to me with a different rec. :P

          1. funkytown*

            a bit late but I’d like to chime in about Paksennarion for others, big SA content warning. I went in very unprepared and was quite unpleasantly surprised. Also just in general, I did not enjoy it. It’s incredibly long, which isn’t something that is an issue for me, but for someone who went in sort of expecting a bit more of a fun feminist adventure a la Tamora Pierce but epic, it was not worth the time. That said I love T Kingfisher!

          2. Jackalope*

            The trilogy starts with Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, then goes to Divided Allegiances, and then Oath of Gold. As funkytown pointed out it does have an SA scene at the end; it wasn’t a huge part of the book, and the main character didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but it’s there. If that’s something that will bother you then beware. (There is also the main character describing an attempted assault after the fact but that one was not successful.)

            The Vatta series was good; I’m less crazy about that one because it’s sci-fi which is not my thing as much, but it’s well-written and enjoyable.

            1. word nerd*

              Yeah, I tried searching by individual book too, but no dice for audio versions at my library. I think it’s just that the Vatta series is newer, and the audiobook selection is better for more recently published books. I’ll give Vatta a try, and if I love it, I’ll go back and try her fantasy. Thanks!

      6. MCL*

        I recently have been reading a decent amount of Leigh Bardugo (specifically the Greishaverse series’s). Those were recently adapted by Netflix. Very sword and sorcerer. My very old favorite literary fantasy from childhood is Peter S Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, which is magical, and just gets richer as I age. I also like Juliet Marillier, who does a bunch of Irish/Anglo fantasy adaptations.

        1. word nerd*

          I totally get that–The Last Unicorn is beautiful! Have you read Beagle’s coda/novelette to it called “Two Hearts”? (It used to be hosted on the author’s website for free, but I don’t see it there anymore.) Apparently Beagle also published a new book earlier this year called The Way Home, which includes Two Hearts plus a new novella sequel to Two Hearts called Sooz.

          Will check out your other recommendations, thanks!

    2. GoryDetails*

      Some riffs-on-fairytales books:

      A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended, both by Alix E. Harrow, in which a young woman with an incurable illness discovers that she can kinda-sorta fall into other people’s stories. In the first book she winds up in a “Sleeping Beauty” variant, and tries to help the princess escape her fate: being forced to marry whoever’s on hand to break the curse. (Lots of entertaining genre-bending here, with some awesome support from the protagonist’s best friend back home – and from some other alternate-storyline Sleeping Beauties with agendas of their own.)

      “Mirror” picks up with our heroine’s life post-Sleeping-Beauty adventures, and deals with the concept of a fairytale *villain* who would really like to alter her own fate too. Nicely done, very entertaining!

      1. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

        Alix Harrow deserves so much more attention than she gets! I adore “Ten Thousand Doors of January” and “The Once and Future Witches.” I read “Spindle” but somehow missed when “Mirror” came out, so thank you for the rec!

    3. sewsandreads*

      Recently read Mhairi McFarlane’s latest, Between Us, which I really enjoyed — absolutely devoured it! I also picked up Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld which I’ve just started, so fingers crossed it’s just as enjoyable as her others.

    4. Mitchell Hundred*

      At the recommendation of someone in one of these threads, I just finished reading Antonia Fraser’s “The Weaker Vessel.” I liked it a lot, although it struck me as being a bit too focused on the upper classes to give a truly accurate portrait of women’s lives. Still, I feel like she really put the leg-work in.

      My favourite tidbit was the woman who broke off her engagement by sending her fiance a portrait of her face half-eaten by worms. That felt like the dialectical counterpart to Sarah Goodridge’s painting “Beauty Revealed.”

    5. ThatGirl*

      I just finished Sea of Tranquility which I liked a lot. Now reading Stephen King’s Fairy Tale, King is a great writer but he can’t write modern teenagers to save his life. It’s still enjoyable.

    6. English Rose*

      I’m on a crime series by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett featuring an ecologist, Nell Ward. People keep dropping dead around her and of course she just has to investigate. First in the series is A Murder of Crows.
      The ecology background is interesting, the author clearly knows her stuff.
      If I’m honest, I just started because these are free to read on the Kindle with my Amazon Prime membership but they’re relaxing and fun with unusual characters.

    7. Teapot Translator*

      I’m slowly reading the Mrs Pollifax series and the Dr Siri series. I also alternate with other books. This week, it was Legend and Lattes, which didn’t grab me as much as I hoped it would.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I started reading a new (to me) author, James Rollins. I’m on book 2 of the Sigma series and I’m enjoying it so far. There’s usually a large gap in between new books by my favorite authors, so it was time to branch out. Otherwise I’d have nothing to read.

    9. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

      I am THIS CLOSE to finishing “A Day of Fallen Night” by Samantha Shannon, which is the prequel to “Priory of the Orange Tree.” I am at that point where I am simultaneously absolutely dying to read the end, yet also putting off finishing it because I’m not ready for it to be over!

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      By F.C. Yee, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo followed by The Iron Will of Genie Lo. Asian American teenager’s laser focus on crushing her education as a way to escape her home town is disrupted when The Monkey King shows up, along with a whole bunch of demons who just escaped hell.

      Like Rick Riordan’s Greek myths, this directly grapples with how stuff in the original stories is really not okay by today’s standards. Genie is an endearing protagonist and the mix of ancient legend and modern Silicon Valley really works.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Thanks for sharing. I’ve read their Avatar, the last Airbender series books but not their other ones, I will add them to my list.

    11. Bluebell*

      I finished Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club, which I loved, and then read Amy Poeppel’s the Sweet Spot, one of Alison’s recs. Some hilarious scenes, and it was similar in ways to Pineapple Street, but I vastly preferred Sweet Spot. Now I’m reading Jennifer Wrights bio of the famous NYC abortionist Madame Restell, and learning a lot.

    12. Sheila Did It*

      The Warrior of World’s End by Lin Carter, if you can find it. It’s the tale of Ganelon Silvermane, from Tor Books.

      I only got up to book 4. I had started rereading them, but could only find books 2 and 4. That was before Amazon though, so it may be easier now. Looks like there may be a Tor website.

    13. PhyllisB*

      I just finished two older books this week. The first is Since You’re Leaving Anyway, Take out the Trash by Dixie Carter. I mean, how can you resist that title? it was funny, but I could have done without some of the language.
      The other one was Sisters by Cynthia Victor. It was published in 1998, and still in the world of pay phones and people didn’t really know how to use the internet. It was pretty good, but I figured out who the murderer was pretty quickly. The story was good enough for me to continue reading to see if I was right.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Excuse me. The author’s name is Dixie CASH. Dixie Carter did write a hilarious book years ago, The Southern Belles Handbook. Being Southern, I thought it was not funny, but uncomfortably true.

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      Two goodies for me this week:

      Fleishman is in Trouble By Taffy Brodesser-Akner, which even though NPR loved it and it’s now on Hulu, I would consider a beach read. It’s a romp.

      The wow book this week is Mild Vertigo, by Mieko Kanai, a lovely little story of a Tokyo woman’s wistful remarks on the minutiae of daily urban life and family interactions. I would never have know about it, but a bookseller at my beloved local indie bookshop thrust it into my hands and told me to read it. I always do that when instructed! It is dreamy in its simplicity and in Kanai’s elegant prose. I read and toss a lot of books, but I will keep and reread this one.

      I have been feeling there is a literary category that describes the Kanai book. It’s not a cosy or a domestic book of manners, but am I right that there is a category? I vaguely feel its kinda Mrs. Dallowayish, but then it’s not, as it’s so modern and urban. If there is a category that encompasses this kind of urban sensitivity? I would love to read books of a similar thread.

      1. The cat's pajamas*

        You could try looking it up at the library and seeing what categories it’s cataloged under.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Great idea! Done – the library lists the book as “Domestic Fiction,” which is a fascinating rabbit hole I’ll now visit. I also found an interesting explanation of the genre on Masterclass. More to read!

          I also checked out reviews of the book at Goodreads and see mentions of the author’s fondness for Jane Austen & Roland Barthes. The book really is a hybrid of their ideas and approaches. Wild!

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            You’re welcome,I would have never guessed that category. I think it’s fun to see how libraries categorize things, too.

      2. word nerd*

        After reading the description of the Kanai book (which looks good, btw), I wonder if Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata would be similar. Maybe give it a try?

        And it’s hard to know without actually having read the prose in Mild Vertigo, but I also wonder if The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery might fit the bill too.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Thank you for this – yes, Convenience Store Woman is one that was on my list for a while and dropped back off my radar. Have ordered it at the library. Great reminder!

          And oh, I loved Elegance of the Hedgehog. This is more serious, formal and dare I say academic. Heavy, but dreamy! Don’t want it to end.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Cool nonfiction: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid, by Wendy Williams. It doesn’t need a lot of science background, or expect the reader to start out knowing much (if anything) about squid. It’s about various kinds of squid, other cephalopods (mostly octopuses); what we know about squid and how, including a bit of biography of some of the people who study them; squid intelligence, and also how much scientists have learned studying the nerves of some kinds of squid.

    16. Other Meredith*

      I just finished Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross yesterday, and it was phenomenal. I thought from the description that it was a fantasy taking place during WWI, but it’s a totally different world but with WWI vibes. I am now desperate for the sequel, which won’t be out until next year.

    17. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I read A Mirror Mended a week ago and had to have the first book and so I read A Spindle Splintered and it was better than the sequel and I’m going to read Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby but I didn’t start that yet

    18. WellRed*

      I’m reading Olivia Newton Johns autobiography. Just finished reading about the premier of Grease. Sandy & Danny arrived by driving down Hollywood Boulevard in the car from the movie. Pandemonium. And to the ink the movie suit types we’re worried how the movie would be received.

    19. J.B.*

      The Chronicles of St Mary’s (time traveling historians, really fun series) and the Thursday Murder Club which was a fast moving read.

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

      Re-reading the *Wolf Hall* trilogy on the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell during the time of Henry the VIII. It’s enjoyable this time through as well.

  8. Jackalope*

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

    I’m still working my way through Triangle Strategy. I think I’m near the end, but we’ll see what happens next.

    1. Porch Screens*

      Triangle Strategy! I played the heck out of that game last year and got all of the endings. It was a little different, initially, from what I’d expected but it grew on me. I’m really curious to see which ending you’ll get!

      Meanwhile, I’m still plugging away at my Black Eagles run of 3H; haven’t made a huge amount of progress the last week or two but I just got to Chapter 11 so I’m getting there. Depending on how I feel once I finish this run I may take a bit of a break before I go back to play the other two paths. I played Triangle Strategy back-to-back several times to get all the endings and while it was fun, I was definitely a bit burnt out on it by the time I was done. Not to mention DH has been wanting some time with the Switch…

      1. Jackalope*

        Soooo….. I have a gaming board that I like to follow that has discussions on all sorts of video games. And I tried to read bits of the Triangle Strategy discussion. And I discovered that I was already a fair ways into making the right decisions for the Golden Ending. So I kind of cheated and used the online guide to get that ending. (I’m not finished, but I got the right questions in chapter 17 so I know I was successful.) Which I feel a bit badly about, but it’s been a couple of really lousy years and I just want happiness even if it’s for my video game party.

    2. Jay*

      I’ve been playing Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor/Martyr and Cell to Singularity quite a bit.

    3. SparklingBlue*

      Been playing the Pokemon TCG while waiting for the Game Boy version to come on Switch Online.

    4. Well...*

      Tears of the kingdom!! I have been trying to fit it in around work and sleep, so I’ve only gotten a few hours in, but oh my God, this game. It’s so fun and creative. They kept the explorer/thrill of discovery aspect but added in so much more puzzle-solving with all the creative building abilities. And the depths are gorgeous.

      1. Well...*

        Plus the genre blending of Zelda always gets me. I’ve got an ancient king and a mystical light vs. evil storyline next to side plots of NPC koroks that need me to carry/cart them around and anxious construction employees obsessed with holding up signs for their corporate leader.

      2. beep beep*

        TOTK! Sometimes while I’m doing something I’ll just feel like… the enormity of the game. I’ve played so many hours but I still feel like I’m just right at the start! I do have a taste for wandering around with a horse and cart rather than doing anything else like plot, but hey, such is life. And I have my horses from my BOTW file, which is just SO delightful. I love them all very much.

      3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m excited! my bf will buy it so I can watch him play ( I can’t play modern games because I get lost and get headaches but I love how fun they look

      4. Shy Platypus*

        I’m so impressed with this game! I mean we knew from Majora’s Mask that Nintendo was good at direct sequels, but I don’t think I was expecting how revolutionary this gameplay would feel.

        I thought building things would be gimmicky until, like Well…, I had to rescue a dude whose cart had fallen into a pit, and suddenly it was a fun puzzle! The elements are simple but their combinations feel endless. You get to feel so free as a player, it’s truly amazing.

      5. Jackalope*

        I’m so glad youall are enjoying it! I appreciate your comments because I think they’ll help me know to pass on this one. I find puzzles in video games super frustrating a lot of the time, so if this one is super puzzle-filled then prob not a good game for me. But I’m glad that it’s making youall happy; it’s so frustrating when a sequel is lousy, so I’m glad this one was good.

      6. LimeRoos*

        IT’S SO GOOD!!

        I’m waiting to see how many hours I’ve put in, but I took a half day last friday to play the game all afternoon. It’s so amazing how much they fit into it – the new areas, new mapping, new characters, old characters w/ new plotlines, new cheese!

    5. Sheila Did It*

      Delicious: Emily’s Wonder Wedding. The dialogue/storyline gets on my nerves a little, but once you’ve been force fed the scenes, you can skip them if you have to replay an episode. I replayed a few on purpose, and started again under a new username.

      It kept me up well past bedtime a couple of nights. It has some challenges!

    6. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Hoping to finish Like a Dragon: Ishin this weekend. I should probably stock up on crying towels first. This game has been a feels trip start to finish.

  9. Dark Macadamia*

    Let’s talk Mrs. Maisel! (spoilers for this week’s episode below)
    .
    .
    .
    Who do you think called at the end? My first thought was that something happened with Abe getting drunk – the earlier scene with him seemed to make a point of showing him with his wine quite a bit. Maybe he showed up at the school again since they talked about that at the beginning?

    I felt conflicted about so many scenes, lol. The Bryn Mawr part was really fun but also felt like a frivolous way to spend so much screen time this late in the show. Abe’s monologue was fantastic but I’m also like, wow good job for realizing women are people? Someone who worked on the show posts a lot in the show subreddit and I find it annoying because they kind of spoil things – they really hyped up this episode for Susie and while her scenes with Midge and Hedy were excellent, I think they would’ve impacted more if that person hadn’t made such a big deal of it :(

    The Princess Margaret scene was great. I miss when the show actually had stand-up every episode!

    1. Not a Maisel Watcher Thankfully*

      Hey, just a suggestion, if you are posting something that you think would be a spoiler, you can put it in a comment and reply to yourself. That way people who don’t want to be spoiled can just avoid clicking on the replies and seeing it, or can quickly close the specific comment thread. Putting the actual spoiler in the same comment as your announcement of the spoiler doesn’t help anyone because we all have to scroll past your text.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I enjoyed Abe’s dinner scene quite a lot (and yes, it was a little “no duh” but it was 60 years ago!)

      I agree the Bryn Mawr scenes were pleasant enough but dragged out too long, and the Margaret stuff was very fun.

      The early stuff with Midge and Joel flashing back to their time together…I can only assume that’s building to a conclusion that they’re Meant To Be after all and Midge will be thinking she’s still in love with him the rest of her life. Which I’m not a fan of. Let them be good friends and co-parents — that’s always been great *because* they’ve been able to grow as separate people, without Midge in particular having to keep herself small to fit in their marriage.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Ugh, yes. I haven’t been looking at fan stuff much before this season and was honestly surprised to see people are still wanting them to end up together because I actually felt the show had so effectively moved on from them as a romantic option… and now it feels like we’re very heavy-handedly heading there again :(

        I thought it was funny that the scene where they argue in the car and then end up dancing was included, because my impression was “yikes, this is a really dramatic fight for so early in their marriage” and also made me realize how relatively short their marriage lasted, and I think I was meant to see it as a misdirection and proof of their love lol.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I felt like Abe’s story lines worked so much better this week because they were dialed down to normal human levels. Abe telling Joel he cannot interact with Ethan for the first six years of his life just felt dumb; Abe annoying the school with his persistent enquiries and convincing himself that all actions on Esther’s part would indicate genius felt believable. I also resonated with his re-examining Midge’s achievements as he re-examined his dreams for his granddaughter.

      Princess Margaret was funny.

      If this is The Big Break, I find “Susie dated the wife of Midge’s boss, and asks her for a favor” to be less than satisfying. I would have found a breakout on Jack Paar more resonant–Susie pushes her to get into writing, and that puts both of them into more contact with people doing evening talk shows, and eventually that turns into a chance that breaks.

      Ted Lasso this season had an episode where Ted is obsessing about his ex moving on and Rebecca eventually lays into him that this part of his life is done! He doesn’t get a say anymore! And all the wonderful supportive people around him are done indulging him with this wanking. I think of that scene often when there’s a “Midge and Joel still have feelings for each other!” scene.

      I loathe will-they-won’t-they as a plot, and am always lecturing the characters involved that if they were actually into each other they would just date, and don’t ask me to invest in the outcome if you can’t even be bothered to cross that very low threshold.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I agree about the Big Break. I’m hoping it’ll work out that asking Hedy was unnecessary and something else happens instead, but then that makes the Hedy storyline pretty disappointing!

    4. Roy G. Biv*

      To me Abe’s story arc was the most compelling of this episode. Reflective Abe is unusual, since he has spent most of the series being convinced that his ideas and methods are, of course, completely correct. But his friends at the restaurant were also in reflective moods. Is that a natural response to realizing you’re getting older?
      And re: the phone call at the end. I’m betting Moishe is in hospital again.

  10. Flowers*

    Anyone want to share their at-home hair color stories? Successes, mishaps, funnies etc?

    1. Rara Avis*

      My kid (14) has been dying their hair for a year. First all over purple, then ladybug (red with black hearts, which faded pretty quickly to green), now a blue-black that they and their artist father deemed the best choice to cover red and green. It helps to have someone check the back to be sure you’ve covered all the corners.

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      What a fun topic! I’ve been dying my hair forever it seems. Splotchy unattractive grey started early thirties. I’ve learned how to make it look highlighted and it always turns out really good. Except for that time in Utah… Husband was a long haul trucker and I was riding with him. Hair was a tiny bit past it’s prime and I can’t stand any roots, so desperate plans in the making. We spent the night at a company terminal. Perfect. Free showers, not many women so I could claim the bathroom and a drug store close by. Now the man had been complimenting the red tint to my hair so, big mistake, I got a shade of dye just a little more red, I thought. So I innocently applied it, wrapped my hair in a towel and wandered around. Saw one other woman, about twice my size, spitting and swearing ranting raving and kicking her truck… All the guys there hid. Me too. When it was time to rinse my hair I went back to the shower and the door was locked. Oh holy crap! I wasn’t even about to disturb the woman, and the men’s room was very busy . I waited and waited until my scalp was burning. Finally got up the guts and very gently knocked on the door. And waited. Finally my husband opened the door, holding a magazine. I wore a hat for two weeks.

    3. Eff Walsingham*

      When I used to use do-it-yourself colour to save money, I got pretty good at it, from seeing former roommates and my Grandma do it and share their tips. But what I couldn’t manage to do was complete the job without absolutely destroying the bathroom, no matter what precautions I took. And since I was almost always reddening up my original red… well, you can imagine the lovely slaughterhouse vibe I was developing in there. I had so much work to do to get my damage deposit back there! That was one reason I started getting it done professionally: when I factored in the value of my time and hard work, home colour wasn’t as much of a bargain for me.

    4. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I’m pretty careful with my hair but in grad school I had hip-length hair which I knew I was going to cut off at the end of the summer (when my thesis was done) at which point my friend said ‘hey you can basically do whatever you want to the lower 2/3 of your hair rn’. So we died it blue! Ordered bleach and blue color and ended up using half a pot of purple color from my friend too because I have a lot of hair, which gave it a lovely depth of color.

      It actually came out really well for 3 people who had no idea what they were doing and I loooooved having mermaid hair for the summer. Every shower did end up with the bathroom looking like I’d murdered a smurf though.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve been doing variants of mermaid hair on the bottom 2/3 of hip length hair for 13 years :) though right now it’s purple, teal and orange.

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          That sounds so fun! And what a joyful color combination.

          I go through cycles of growing out – cutting short – growing out – cutting it off, and I’ve never gotten to hip length again (I was so d o n e with it by the end too, but I said it would grow until I was done with grad school and I stuck to it), but it’s kind of like having an empty canvas permanently available isn’t it

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            other than every-few-months trims, my last haircut was May 1999 :) I started doing the colors when I got divorced in 2010, because the ex didn’t want me to do it while we were married. Never stopped.

    5. The Shenanigans*

      I have had EVERY hair color, including the ROYGBIV rainbow. It looked badass but took literally all day, and that was on half shaved, chin length hair. I used to do my hair at home, and sometimes it turned out awesome. Sometimes, it extremely did not. Things I learned:

      Box black takes all day to raise to orange-y and three weeks to end up at a red. Very expensive and time consuming.

      Box bleach leads to a chemical haircut. My shoulder length hair ended up by ears. Oops.

      Dye stains in a tub of a rental lead to losing my deposit.

      Box color gets on EVERYthing. I had purple pillows for six months.

      I should not try out a new color the day before classes. This leads to calling out sick because I just look too ridiculous. (I was able to fix it by the next day.)

      I now get color professionally done. It is expensive but so worth it. A good cosmetologist is worth more than their weight in gold.

      1. Flowers*

        so the common thread is box hair color is tricky eh lol

        I was scared of bleach but I just finished about 5 rounds of it over 4 weeks and I finally got the color I wanted. I left it in for about 15-20 minutes each time which I think reduced the likelihood of damage.

        I’m all for seeing a professional but I have yet to find a really great one. And I’m at the point that I just can’t handle sitting in a salon for hours and hours anymore. Maybe one day!

    6. English Rose*

      Oh my absolute worst was going from a lovely chocolate brunette with some grey peeking through to a flat black job I did at home. What I had in mind was sleek sophistication, what it did was make me look 100 years old. I had to go to my hairdresser, fess up and have my hair chemically bleached then restored to brunette. Nightmare!

      1. Flowers*

        Oh gosh! what was that process at the salon like? Black dye is the absolute worst I think!

    7. fposte*

      During the pandemic I used L’Oreal demipermanent maroon on my shoulder length hair several times. The goal was just the tips but I always ended up about 1/3 to 1/2 way up trying to even things out. I liked it but not enough to keep doing it. Cleanup wasn’t too bad and the only thing I accidentally stained was the white plastic arms on my glasses frames.

      The manager of a plant shop near me has the most drop-dead stunning color I’ve ever seen. She has a friend who’s a stylist so lets the stylist experiment on her. It was this amazing blue-predominant accented with orange and yellow.

    8. beep beep*

      I was in a professional/school program that didn’t allow me to dye my hair for a year, so a few days before graduation (classes had ended) my mom and I did my hair in purple. There’s still a little streak of it in the sink we just can’t get out. I can afford it so I go to a professional now, but it didn’t look half bad- just took hours and a lot of contortions in the little bathroom over the sinks and such. It washed out a sort of pinky orange that I never could get out until I got it cut off and dyed at the salon I go to now.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I once tried a new semi-permanent color a couple of days before a job interview. It came out bright red — not Lucy Ricardo red, but Bozo the Clown red. I don’t know if not getting the job was because I wasn’t the right person for it, but I’m sure the Day-Glo hair didn’t help. >_<

    10. Filosofickle*

      I’ve been coloring my hair for 30 years! Started in the dorm bathroom and never stopped. I have a whole home chemistry set at this point — 3-4 color tubes, a scale and a tiny whisk, plus a spreadsheet to track it all. (I have no hair training but I did go to art school lol.) Not loving this past round of adjustment but that happens! I’ve learned the line between “strawberry blond” and “tabby cat” is quite fine.

      I may give up soon as it’s all white around my face and it’s hard to color that. Right now my approach is to dye the white to my natural color one day, then NEXT day I can do the allover color on top of that so I don’t end up with pink or yellow roots.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        I used to use the Lush henna, which came out well but is a bit of a pain. The first time I went to a store with a friend and we had them put it in so we could observe the right way to use it. Driving home with a shower cap on my head and car seat covered in towels was awkward but not too bad.

        Some people complain about staining, I luckily never had issues. It dried up in chunks, kind of like mud and when I picked them up they were fine and didn’t leave marks. The blobs that weren’t dry yet were fine if I picked them up right away.

        It doesn’t cover gray but gives a nice shine and non toxic. I tried box dyes a few times before which were ok but really dried out my already dry hair.

        I never went too wild with color, nothing too extreme. The first time I dyed my hair I thought it was going to be a few shades different and ended up basically the same color. Kind of like in the original Beaches movie, lol.

        1. Random Dice*

          Mehandi has a great grey cover henna. I assume there are some grey hairs under there but I never see them under the henna.

          Ancient Sunrise Henna For Gray Hair Auburn Kit

    11. Laura Petrie*

      I’ve never been brave enough to try proper dye at home, but I use tinted shampoo on my highlighted hair. I use Bleach London and really like it

    12. carcinization*

      Hmm… I once highlighted my own hair, won’t be doing that again! I have medium-light brown hair naturally, and decided I wanted chunky purple streaks on either side (I think, this was almost 10 years ago), but for some reason decided to use the weird cap and metal hook thing that came with the home highlighting kit and go from there, just concentrating on either side of the front of my hair. It worked but was more like actual highlights than streaks, and also I had some in my bangs which I hadn’t wanted, and since my hair is not super-light, the highlights were lemon-yellow afterward. So I looked up what to do about that, which is to buy purple shampoo to take out the yellow. So back to the drugstore I went, at least they had purple shampoo and it worked. So then I was able to use the purple hair dye I’d bought originally, it worked but was more blue than purple to begin with. Never highlighting my own hair again, but I do have a nice passport photo with lovely blue streaks to this day! How I got my hair back to a “natural” color again after this experiment is a story for another day… at the time I was going back to a job that didn’t allow “unnatural” colors, so I had to figure it out!

    13. Rainbow hair, kinda care*

      For many years I home-colored my more-white-than-gray grays with various rainbow shades. They took dye quite well, and my primary hair color is black, meaning I didn’t have to worry about bleaching, just added dye all over and let it show up where it wanted (my main streaks are luckily nicely positioned to frame the face). My only semi-horror story was the time I tried using Special Effects Deep Purple. Loved the color, but wow, did that one stain! Not just the usual staining I was very used to… it immediately stuck — and stayed stuck — to any skin it hit when rinsing! And I usually rinsed in the shower. Luckily I was adept at avoiding my face, and most of the staining was confined to my back, stomach, and butt, so covered by clothing. And it scrubbed off in a few days. But my shower looked like I slaughtered a unicorn for months. Lesson learned… I save dark purple for the salon now.

    14. CatCat*

      So I, a brunette, think I was about 26 when I learned hands-on that trying for blonde at home is not the way. Nope, nope, nope.

      1. Flowers*

        Ah! so I have pure black hair. I’ve been wanting to go blonde for years. I finally took the step on a whim and began my “journey.” 5 rounds of bleaching at home + toner and purple shampoo over 4 weeks and my hair is finally the color I am OK with. No damage, a little dried out which frankly I’m happy with because my hair was a wimpy, oily mess prior to this but OH MAN it was annoying and tiresome. I’ll be going to the salon for a “correction” next month and rsfrwaeafrxsfzsswxcfscw

        1. RagingADHD*

          Make sure your stylist knows the brands and shades you used, because not all formulas play nicely together.

    15. PhyllisB*

      I have a couple. I had blonde hair growing up and when it faded to the mousey shade most blondes end up with I started doing highlights. Well, getting tired of paying the beauty salon I decided to get some Nice N’ Easy and try doing it myself. Big mistake. Even though I followed directions it just turned out brassy orange. So had to go to salon for a dye back. Cost more than the original streaks would have cost.
      Years later I was doing red hair (which looked pretty good.) During covid I couldn’t go to salon so got some Garnier color enhancer. It turned my hair pink. My grandkids thought it was awesome. This made me aware of how much gray/white was lurking under there so I let it go natural. My daughter, who used to be a hair dresser told me to get some silver enhancing shampoo. The result was a lovely shade of lavender. Grandkids were thrilled again. I went back to using shampoo for blondes and now it’s kind of ash with white streaks.

    16. Random Dice*

      I used to dye my blonde hair auburn, for years, and was annoyed by how the color faded so fast. Box dye starts to disappear within weeks.

      I now dye my hair with henna. It’s cheap, non-toxic, good for my hair, and the color is never ever budging. Because the color stays and stays and stays, for months to years, it’s only really a root touch-up. One can just measure out the amount of powder one needs at a time, unlike box dyes that are all or nothing.

      I can dye my eyebrows with henna too. Henna leaves my hair glossy, undamaged, beautifully natural looking auburn red,

      The onIy downside is the odd herbal smell, my family doesn’t love it, but they would dislike the traditional hair dye even less. I add a careful drop or two of cinnamon oil (not too much or it burns) and that covers the smell well.

      Oh and you can’t really dye over henna (though there are other shades of henna) so you need to be sure.

      1. PhyllisB*

        When I put red on my hair I would use a glaze on it. Kept the color very well.
        Just a little fun fact: Lucille Ball used to get henna for her hair sent from Egypt.

    17. the cat's ass*

      I’m as silver as a sixpence now, but during the pandemic was coloring my hair its close-to-original cheerful red, and i used the developer under the sink because the beauty supply store was closed, and…half my hair fell out. (it was my kid’s developer, a 40, where mine was a 10 strength) My wonderful stylist rolled her eyes and tidied it up in my back yard, and i stopped dyeing it.

      Better luck with the kid-we just overdyed her pinkish hair to a glorious violet blue!

    18. Lady Danbury*

      I cut my hair short (about 2-3 inches) a few years ago, which has lead to me experimenting with color (it’ll grow out quickly and/or I can always cut it off). Other than the purple phase, my go to has been ash brown/blonde ombre/highlights. I’ve mostly been successfully using a two step process of lightening my dark brown hair using bleach, then applying Wella or Ion hair color from Sallys. I choose ash based colors to help counteract the brassy orange/yellow tones that emerge when you bleach darker hair. The only time I’ve used box color was to essentially tone my hair after bleaching when I ran out of the Sallys color. I used a mix of ash brown and blonde, which worked really well.

      My biggest tip would be to use at least 2 shades in order to prevent flat hair. Depending on the look I’m going for, it might be 2 shades right next to each other in the color range or farther apart. I may also mix them together (varying the amount of each one) in order to have slightly different shades that will give a subtle depth. I apply it similar to an abstract painting, applying one sporadically color all over then filling in the gaps with the other color(s). Color placement and intensity would depend on the look I’m going for (ombre, visible highlights, all over color with subtle depth, etc.).

  11. Missing tulips already*

    My sibling is joining the US military as an officer (graduating from a college ROTC program) and will be stationed abroad. We’re not a military family, and I have very little context for “how things usually work.” Can people recommend any blogs or online communities where I can lurk and learn? I did a brief search of subreddits and didn’t find anything.

    (And I know staying in touch with sibling will be the best way to learn, but they’re not terribly communicative!)

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      You didn’t say what service, but all the service branches and components have Reddit pages. r/army is a good one. You can ask questions and get joke answers and serious ones.

      MilitaryOneSource dot com is essentially our EAP, and is available for family members as well as service members. You can ask them anything.

    2. CityMouse*

      I was an officer’s kid, so I’d also caution the officer experience can be very specific to the particular type of officer (my Dad was medical) and is different from the enlisted experience. Engineers for instance, can have a very different experience.

      1. KR*

        This – it’s very specific to the branch and MOS. I’ll also note that he might be told that he will be doing a particular job and be stationed in a particular area now, but often times those details aren’t ironed out until they are done with boot camp and the school they go to after. A lot of it is dependent on the needs of the military at the time and how well they do in boot camp and that secondary school (it has a different name in each branch but it’s TBS in the Marine Corp).

    3. KatEnigma*

      When my cousin’s daughter went to boot camp (army), there was a special forum just for the families. Maybe ask about something like that?

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      If your sibling isn’t very communicative, they may see being in the military as a chance to be out on their own away from family. I was in the service long before the internet existed, and I’d have been a little creeped out if my family was trying too hard to share my experience or or even learn too much about it. And I was a good communicator with my family! But I really felt like my time in the military was something just for me, not for them. Unless your sibling is going somewhere dangerous, how about asking them first if they want you to do what you propose?

    5. Mac (I Wish All the Floors Were Lava)*

      You could certainly try writing into the Mom And Dad Are Fighting podcast to see if they have any specific advice– one of the main hosts, Elizabeth Newcamp, talks a lot about how her parenting experience has been shaped by theirs being a military family, and all the upheaval that entails. Actually, now that I’m writing this I feel very silly, because I am realizing that her intro credits always mention her blog, which is called Dutch Dutch Goose. I admit I’ve never actually read it, but I’m sure that’s part of what she talks about there. The podcast is excellent, but so wide-ranging in what they talk about that I’m afraid I can’t recommend any specific episodes for you to start with.

    6. Katefish*

      Been a military spouse for almost a decade (which sounds crazy writing out). One of the key things about military life is that travel tends to be finalized last minute, which adds a huge degree of uncertainty to everything. I try to be my own combination of Zen and an overplanner to cope, not always successfully. It’s very different from a civilian career in that there’s little control on the service member’s side.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      It’s really not clear to me what you’re asking about, but military service makes a huge difference and where abroad (Europe, Pacific, a country where people can take families (spouses and kids) or a remote assignment) is also makes a massive difference.

      Living on a base in Europe is the most “normal” and probably the easiest for family to visit.

      Things have changed so much from when I lived there because long distance calling and foreign calling was a thing. Now you all can text and call the basically same as if he lived in the US and video call and zoom which did not exist when I lived there.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Your sibling will very much likely have to attend training for their career speciality in the US before their first overseas assignment.

        Moving in the military is very normal and the military will have the process to support your sibling down to a science even if it’s new to your sibling.

        Moving in the military is so easy compared to moving as a civilian. You already have a job, a support structure, and the military should appoint a sponsor to show your sibling the ropes, get settled, have a place to stay until you find a permanent place to stay (if it’s not on base).

  12. blue hawaiian*

    Any suggestions for getting a 20-yr-old over an extreme fear of driving? She learned when she was 16, practiced fairly well, but wasn’t quite good enough to take the driving test. Now she’s 20, home for the summer from college, and is really really scared. She’s a fine driver for her experience, but feels terrified that she might hit something. Ideas on how to coach her out of this?

    1. RagingADHD*

      It sounds like maybe she needs more practice in an empty parking lot where there’s nothing to hit.

    2. Alex*

      Can you get her some lessons? Driving with confidence takes practice and she might feel better knowing there is a a professional driving teacher next to her who can handle it if she makes a mistake.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It can really help if the person coaching you doesn’t also have a 20-year-long emotionally heavy relationship with you.

        1. Late to drive*

          Co-sign from someone who really learned at 22 and got license years later. One parent was fine. The other gasped and asked said Watch out! so much it was hugely distracting. Driving instructor made learning parallel parking and K turns SO easy!

        2. Blomma*

          Yes!!! I was extremely apprehensive about driving even though I passed driver’s ed at 18. I didn’t get my license until age 26 and that was because I finally felt ready and I paid for private lessons through a driving school. It made a world of difference to have someone not related to me giving instruction. I still don’t drive on the freeway, but I’m mostly able to get myself where I need to be.

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

          Yup, my Dad was a horrible teacher. Professional driving teacher (and nice ex-boyfriend who taught me to drive stick) for the win!

      2. Hexagonal colours*

        I second the “pay for lessons with a professional driving teacher” advice. It worked well for my cousin (who was perhaps not quite as afraid as your daughter but was more than usual).

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I was petrified about driving and never took my driving test after taking the course in high school. What really helped me many years later was taking lessons from a professional driving school that specialized in working with adults. Those lessons made all the difference (along with, in my case, doing EMDR therapy with a counselor to address what was a phobia).

      1. AGD*

        This. Some driving schools have teachers specifically for people feeling intensely anxious.

    4. sewsandreads*

      I didn’t get my licence until 25 (P plates here in Australia), and I second/third/strongly agree with the other recommendations to get her some lessons. Definitely made me a lot more confident!

    5. Quincy413*

      I agree with the comments about finding a driving school, especially one for adults. In addition, (from my personal experience) if there is a route she does feel comfortable driving (even if it’s a quiet road, parking lot etc) keep doing that as practice while she works up to more challenging drives. Any tiny bit of driving or at least sitting in the front passenger seat and closely observing will help in the long-run!

    6. myrosesareblooming*

      this sounds so much like my story. after taking driver’s ed in high school, i was able to avoid driving through my sophomore year in college (thanks to the kindness of others, public transportation from my apartment to school, and a lot of walking in the city) until i bought my first used car and became a commuter student. i spent quite a bit of time practicing in huge school and church parking lots when they were empty. the more comfortable i became with simply sitting in the driver’s seat and slowly cruising around, the more confident i became. i was rattled by having someone in the passenger seat (especially my mom), and time alone focusing in a wide open space was calming. i ended up loving driving and eventually found myself the family go-to driver for long trips.

    7. Pearl Grey*

      My mom had MS and had to stop driving around the time I turned 14. My dad wasn’t around much during the day to cart around me, my mother, and younger brother, so I had to step up and learn to drive. I took a driving course and got my learner’s permit which enabled me to drive with my mom in the car. What got me over the fear of getting into an accident was the realization that the other drivers on the road didn’t want to hit me as much as I didn’t want to hit them. After I realized that, I was no longer afraid to drive on a busy freeway next to large trucks.

    8. Squidhead*

      Practice is key! But a couple of rational things she can work on (maybe no one told her?): 1) adjust all the mirrors correctly 2) if the car has a backup camera, right-turn assist camera, and/or lane departure warning system, learn how they work! (I grew up in cars without them and I think it’s valuable to know how to maneuver with just mirrors but if the car has all that tech she should know how to use it and not be distracted by it.) 3) With all the gizmos adjusted, learn how to use them to figure out where the car is. Let’s say she’s driving down the road and there are cars parked on the right side. She doesn’t want to hit them but also doesn’t want to veer into the oncoming lane. She can watch the car ahead of her…if she’s centered on it and *it* doesn’t hit the cars, she won’t either. She can check her right-side mirror to see how far away from the edge of the road she is. (Yes, she’s looking behind her but if she stays in a straight path she’ll have the same clearance in front of her.) In a parking lot, she can drive up next to something and then get out and see how far/close she is.

      We back into our driveway and although we have a backup camera I usually ignore it. I think backing into a space is a pretty good way to start getting a real feel for how long and wide the car is, and how sharply it can turn. She can practice in an empty lot with just lines on the ground (nothing to hit).

    9. jasmine tea*

      Have her drive into things. Yes, seriously. My dad took teenage me to the local amusement park, and we rode the bumper cars over and over and over until I was used to the feel of impacts from all angles. It gets the jitters out.

    10. londonedit*

      Lessons with a driving instructor is the standard way of learning to drive here in the UK, and I’d definitely recommend it! I was nervous when I was learning to drive (aged 17, the legal age here) but I found driving with an instructor WAY less stressful than driving with my parents. The driving school cars have dual controls so the instructor can take over if something goes very wrong, and a good instructor will be patient and take time to explain what to do in any given situation.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah this question baffled me from a UK perspective where we all learn through professional lessons as adults. I was just “So, if she hasn’t had enough lessons for the test… more lessons then?”!

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, your instructor won’t let you put in for the test until they think you have a decent chance of passing it!

        2. fueled by coffee*

          In the US, this varies by state. Where I grew up, you had to complete something like 10 hours of driving lessons with an instructor in order to get a license (and more hours with a ‘qualified adult’ like a parent in the car with you), but for me that meant switching off driving with a handful of other teenagers on mostly quiet, neighborhood roads. I can completely understand completing that at 16, not driving much in the intervening years, and then being very nervous about driving as an adult.

          1. londonedit*

            Here you do a theory test which includes multiple-choice questions and a video hazard perception test, and then a practical driving test including driving around a town with an examiner for about 40 minutes and doing manoeuvres like parking and turning in the road etc. It also now includes following directions either from signs or a sat nav. Non-dangerous errors are marked down as minor faults and there’s a maximum number you can pick up before you fail; serious errors are major faults and you’ll fail if you get one of those. You can do the theory and practical tests without driving lessons, but most people take lessons with an instructor because they’ll teach you everything you need to know for the practical test.

            I definitely know people who started lessons at 17 and failed their test and never got back into a car until they were in their thirties – I passed my test at 17 but then moved to London at 18 for uni and didn’t have a car for about 20 years, so my driving experience was limited to driving my mum’s car when I visited my parents. When I eventually got a car a couple of years ago I was really nervous about doing ‘proper’ driving! Especially motorways. I’m now much better simply because I’ve done far more driving, but if I want to keep my confidence up then I know I need to drive regularly and just get on with it in all sorts of different situations.

            1. fueled by coffee*

              Oh, we also have a written and driving test before you can get a license – but if you fail the driving test you’re allowed to retake it. I think there’s some upper limit on how many retakes you’re allowed to do in a given time frame, but it’s not uncommon for people to fail on their first try and then pass the next time.

              More common, like your situation, is that people – especially in urban areas – get a license at 16 but then don’t have a car or a reason to drive much through college, and so they end up in their twenties with a license but not much practical experience.

              1. londonedit*

                Yeah you can retake the practical test here, too – I think there’s a waiting period before you can book another test, but you can retake it until you pass. I failed my first one which is fairly common. The theory certificate lasts for two years, so if you don’t pass the practical test within that time then you have to also redo the theory portion. So you get people who fail their first test and get too scared or demoralised to book another one, then their theory lapses, and then it seems like too much hassle to do it all again, so they end up not carrying on with the whole process.

    11. Janet Pinkerton*

      So…my wife is 34 and still doesn’t drive because of this fear. She’s also exceptionally stubborn, whereas your child might not be. But honestly, does your child actually want to drive? Does she need to? If either is true, I’d recommend therapy about it. It’s not something coachable when it’s that extreme.

      And honestly, your daughter and my wife are right. Driving is scary! You only need a very brief lapse in attention, or impairment, or mechanical failure for something catastrophic to happen. The fact that we have teenagers drive is kind of appalling to me now.

      I got my permit the day I was eligible—I have always wanted to drive. I love driving. But it’s also the most dangerous this I do that day, every single time I drive. And when you’ve been driving for almost 20 years it can be easy to forget the fear and danger and skill involved in starting.

      1. Courageous cat*

        I’d actually argue that you *have* to forget/put aside the fear and danger and skill involved to some degree, in order to properly learn – otherwise you’re never going to get out of the garage.

        I’ve been driving since I was 15 myself and am a super confident driver who enjoys driving, but if I had started at an age (21+ maybe) where I had developed higher anxiety and was much more cognizant of danger, I would have never, ever gotten over the hump. I wouldn’t be able to drive even now, I think. I think it’s important to start young when your mind is fresh and pliable, and you’re still not totally jaded by all the horrible things that can happen in life.

        The longer you (general you) wait, the harder it’s going to get IMO. My rec is to get a driving lesson, perhaps where the driving teacher also has a steering wheel so they can take over on their side. Gives you a little extra confidence.

    12. beep beep*

      As someone around that age with a big ol’ fear of driving, I second a lot of the advice in this thread. Mall parking lots during the weekday, or school lots on the weekend. A professional instructor- if they aren’t good, find a new one (like a therapist). When I was a scared 16-year-old getting my license, my teacher was calm, had a sense of humor, and had us take baby steps. He was an utter godsend. I still don’t do highways or inner cities, but I can drive to the grocery store or a park and ride, and that works well enough.

    13. Qwerty*

      Practice, particularly in areas or times when it is hard to screw things up. Then slowly inch towards periods with more regular traffic.

      I was like this – the fear comes from inexperience. Is there anything really easy to drive to, like in your subdivision? My parents used to take me out for practice on Sunday mornings when no one was on the road. Some options were local drives, winding roads with lots of curves, highway practice. Luckily we had different route options so I could get used to driving at 25mph, 40mphs, 55mph before expressway because I felt out of control at high speeds.

      If you have multiple cars, try out all of them to see which she is more comfortable with. Part of the reason I hated lane changes was because I didn’t feel like I could actually see the area around my car well to judge if I had room. Sitting up higher in my little SUV makes me feel safer and in more control. My parent’s van had me terrified because it was so huge. Our sedan felt like the front went on forever so I always needed help with parking since I was scared of hitting something.

      How well does she know the roads/routes? In retrospect, one of the scary things was that I didn’t know where I was going and had to rely on my parent for directions. So driving to the same typical places helped – like I would drive to the grocery store or mall to shop with my mom, and then she would drive us home.

      1. Qwerty*

        Another thing! Keep her involved in the car’s basic maintenance, like taking it for an oil change, checking the air on the tires, etc. It helps add experiences to the car situation that aren’t covered in anxiety.

        Taking my dad’s car to Belle Tire to put air in all the tires and learn to use the machine made a difference for me for some reason. My dad showed me the machine, had me do all the tires, talking the whole time about why we were doing it. I’m not sure why, but that did help shift my attitude. Maybe because it was a car thing I did well that didn’t require driving, maybe it made it feel more like my car / responsibility.

        Talk to your daughter about road conditions/situations while *you* drive! If someone cuts you off or does something that you have to react to, don’t get angry or curse. Instead, calmly explain what the other guy did, how you dealt with it, how to avoid the situation. I found this super annoying at the time, but it did sink in – I started noticing earlier if a car was going to cut me and remembered how to respond when my car fishtailed the first time just because I could hear my dad’s voice in my head. (Don’t do these lectures while she is driving though, its really distracting)

    14. Girasol*

      Driving is really complicated with a lot to watch for and to do, and the consequences of a mistake can be serious. Of course that’s scary! When you’ve been doing it a lot you develop a sort of muscle memory that lets you do it all and do it well without even thinking about it. To get over that hump between thinking about every little thing and doing it without thinking, how about road trips of an hour or two, starting with not too busy highways to low traffic small towns. Pick a destination where you might stop for some kind of treat: a restaurant or museum or scenic vista. Time behind the wheel will help to develop that muscle memory and a treat could help to motivate.

    15. Victoria Everglot*

      Professional lessons. The instructor having their own brake can literally be a lifesaver. I know from experience!

      I recommend calling a driving school and explaining that your daughter is extremely anxious and asking them for an instructor who is experienced with anxious drivers, there’s usually someone on staff. I know it feels a little infantilizing but it’ll really help her.

      Oh and probably not relevant but just in case, make sure she doesn’t have any vision problems like depth perception issues. It makes you especially anxious when things aren’t where you’re expecting them to be and it might help relieve anxiety if she knows her eyes are good and her prescription, if she needs one, is up to date.

    16. Be kind, rewind*

      Honestly, therapy. I was in the same boat: I didn’t get my license until I was 19 because I was terrified of hitting someone. I eventually saw a college counselor for anxiety, and that helped a lot.

    17. WestsideStory*

      Kindly consider having your teen’s eyesight checked for amblyopia- a slight skew of the eyes that makes it difficult to judge distances. I was finally diagnosed for it decades after I failed my driving test THREE times, and I’d always been tentative of moving at high speeds, which made it difficult to ride bikes or ski downhill when I was a child. Or his may not be the issue, but I often wish someone had done this for me. It’s treatable at an early age.

    18. Flowers*

      I had the same fear. Tbh I still have nightmares every once in a while where I’m driving while asleep or impact. But to answer the question – I’ve been driving for 8 years now and what really helped was taking lessons and just driving every single day. Post license, I don’t think I truly became fully comfortable until I was driving every single day, which was about 5 years later since I moved to suburbs.

    19. just another queer reader*

      – If she’s dealing with more than the standard anxiety, consider connecting her with a therapist.
      – Having a compelling reason to drive is an excellent motivator. If she has friends she wants to see or a job to get to, that might be enough to make her want to push through the fear.
      – If you’re teaching her, be as supportive as possible. Don’t act scared! Give tons of compliments when she does something well.
      – Find the most chill and supportive family/ friend to take her out practicing.
      – Have her practice hitting things in a controlled way. Drive up on the curb while parking. Put out some cones in a parking spot and navigate around them. Drive around a grassy field or gravel lot. Etc.

      (I was an extremely anxious driver as a teenager, but I got through it with practice and patience from my parents.)

    20. Ima Therapist*

      If it’s something more debilitating than lack of experience, there is a kind of therapy called ERP (exposure/response prevention) that can help with driving anxiety.

  13. sewsandreads*

    Crafting thread! What are we all making?

    I’m digging out the Cricut to make some labels — TikTok has inspired me to tidy up the sewing room and pantry a bit! Plus, my mother’s requested labels for her spice drawer, so it’s a bit of a change from sewing.

    1. Knighthope*

      Taking a class tomorrow to paint a window screen, which is a Baltimore art tradition!

      1. myrosesareblooming*

        my highlandtown, baltimore grandmother had painted screens! thank you for reminding me of the lovely memories.

      2. sewsandreads*

        I’ve not heard of painted screens, so thank you in advance for what I’m sure is going to be an awesome google rabbit hole! Hope you enjoy it!

      3. fposte*

        I have never heard of this and it looks absolutely amazing! I love it when people find areas of daily life to make into art.

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I am trying to start a plain-colour granny square crochet blanket and I’m not understanding how to make a nice little circular hole in the centre of the square. Once I get going on the rounds it looks good, so I’m debating how much more to try to fix that or when I say oh well, the centre isn’t perfect and move on.

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I just tried that last night and it didn’t go great, I think I need to try again. My pattern says start with a chain but that ends up with a mess too.

          1. MoonlightMay*

            The truck for me is a double loop to crochet in, then tighten both loops, always perfect circle that way and much less likely to get loose.

      1. Nitpicker*

        There are tons of crochet videos on YouTube including many on granny squares. You might check some of them out.

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          Thanks, I will. Video isn’t my favorite so I didn’t think about that but I’ll give it a try.

        2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I figured it out thanks to the first video I saw! My pattern said “3 dc in ring” and I interpreted that as working into the actual chain stitches of the ring, but no, it means into the very centre of the ring and then the stitches kind of pull the circle so it’s more open. Well, I learned something today!

      2. HamlindigoBlue*

        I’ve just started working on granny squares using leftover sock yarn (Scrappy Granny is the pattern). The pattern starts with a magic loop, which would let you control the size of the center hole, but I decided to start my center with a chain. The first one I did, I started with a chain 3, then joined in a circle. The center turned out to be too small, so I started it over with a chain 6, and this matches the rest of the square. I would just play with different methods until you find the one you like the best.

    3. uisce chick*

      I was stuck in a city about two hours from home unexpectedly and wished I had brought my crocheting as I’m halfway into two afghans for wedding presents. I didn’t think could justify buying stuff for a random project but then I remembered a baby blanket I had promised to do so now I am halfway through three afghans instead of two…:)

    4. Lifelong student*

      I was giving up on the socks I am trying to crochet but my friends have encouraged me to finish them- although they found the current status of them hilarious! I made a summer top last week in crochet. One week and done. I tried to start a knitted chemo cap but have made so many mistakes that I have frogged it twice. I think I will stick with crochet!

    5. Tea and Sympathy*

      I’m making a wall hanging for a friend; it’s appliquéd cats sitting on a wall. My friend loves ginger cats, so one of the cats will hopefully be ginger – if I can find the right material. I’ve been to so many quilt shops looking – it’s either too orange, too brown or too yellow. I’m thinking about doing that cat last and letting my friend go through all the fat quarters I optimistically bought and then rejected when I got home and held it up to the project in progress.

    6. Siege*

      I’m working on a scrapbook memorial album for my cat who passed away in March from a tutorial I got from Etsy. I’ve done another of the creator’s tutorial, and it was fantastic, so I’m grinding through this one despite having very limited time right now and the fact that it is 19 hours of tutorial with very little pre-work possible (she lists the cuts but the only tutorial is video and I don’t like to cut the parts until I see how they’re going to be used on the page, because a sequential list of cuts doesn’t tell you whether a given cut is going to be next to another cut or on a flap or what. I’m using the 49&Market Color Swatch “Inkwell” collection and it’s glorious heavy paper that I love.

      I also decided I want to learn crochet this year, but I’m having trouble deciding to move on to single crochet from the chain, mostly because between grief and massive work projects I’m ending up lead on (they are firmly not my job) I have very little emotional bandwidth for anything new, which is why I haven’t read a new book in two months and keep skipping around in a trilogy I’m very familiar with.

    7. Clara Bowe*

      I am making significant progress on two book binding projects! I finished the smaller one I had just been avoiding, and tackled the big boy. I had to break the text down into two volumes because I did not feel up to tackling an 800 page monster.

      But! The first half is sewn and pressed and is in the process of having the binding glued! The second half has the chipboard cut for the covers and I just need to start sewing it.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      I just finished a big push to get a bunch of quilts done in time for a show this weekend, and I’m kind of quilted out.
      There’s a pair of socks and a shawl I should finish knitting, but what I really want is to start a summer-weight sweater.
      I should probably work on the shawl while pondering yarn choices. Because of course there’s never the right yarn in my twelve bins of stashed yarn. Not sarcasm, sadly.

    9. Random Dice*

      I just made a bracelet out of crackle glass beads and sterling silver wire. Simple but nice.

  14. Jay*

    I was like that in my late teens and early twenties.
    What cured me was two things:
    -First and foremost, I reached a point in my life where I needed to move around if I was going to scrape together enough work experience to break into my field. I basically ended up living out of my car, traveling from temp job to temp job, for about two years (they were the kind of job that typically included room and board). It was a lot of fun and I did so much driving out of necessity that it built up my confidence in my ability to handle whatever the road threw at me.
    -Secondly, I learned to personalize my space. I had tape, then C.D. cases full of my favorite music. I had my own extra comfortable seat covers and steering wheel cover. I learned to clean the car and take good care of it. I learned to check the oil and tire pressure and everything else you need to do for good car ownership. This made me comfortable in the vehicle in a way that I just wasn’t before. And that made driving a lot less scary.

    The second one is the easier one. It just takes a few trips to the automotive store and some tips on how to use Armorall and Turtle Wax.
    The first might mean that you can’t help her get from place to place anymore. No more rides. No more going along as moral support or guides. Make the kid drive themselves, even if they are uncomfortable doing it.
    This is also the age where they might find out that driving is just not a thing they will ever really be able to do. Then they know that they need to find a job where they have good public transportation, they can work from home, or they make enough money to afford to be driven everywhere they want to go.

  15. PollyQ*

    (I’m not looking for medical advice, just some resources, so I hope this is OK.)

    I have a recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, and although I’m already working with a doctor, I was hoping to find some resources for further information and support. Any suggestions for:

    * Books
    * Websites
    * Organizations
    * Supplies (I have some pain and weakness in my hands that make some day-to-day tasks tricky)

    Thanks!

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I do not have arthritis yet (it runs in the family, I’m anticipating it) but do have hand pain since I have a very hand heavy job. I find that crafter’s compression gloves can sometimes help – even having another sensation to focus on beyond the discomfort can be helpful sometimes.

    2. jasmine tea*

      My MIL had RA and she swore by the paraffin wax bath kits. She would soak her hands a few times per week.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        Agreed. I have a spa-quality one so there is better temperature control. It cuts the pain like a knife. It doesn’t last very long, but it’s a sweet hour of relief.

    3. Middle Aged Lady*

      The Arthritis Foundation is a good place to start.
      My sister has it, and two things I know she uses are ice pack gloves for pain relief, and bookstands to prop up her books, and a phone stand for hands-free phone use. She uses all the voice activated features on her tech that she can: voice to text, Dragon software that allows her not just to use word processing but send emails and such. OXO good grips hand kitchen tools were designed by a man whose wife had arthrtis. They have soft handles. I love them (I have a little osteoarthritis in my thumbs.)
      Best of luck to you—

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Seconding the rec for OXO! The whole line is designed to be ergonomic and easy to use.

    4. MassChick*

      I have RA and am currently and fortunately in remission. I know you didn’t ask for advice but I swear by Vitamin D. Hope your doc has you supplementing (enough studies to show a strong correlation, at minimum). I try to keep my levels at the high end of the normal range and I strongly believe it has helped me stay off meds.

      Creakyjoints dot org is a useful site that I check it every now and then.

    5. Bea*

      I bought some microwavable mittens. I cannot express how wonderful the heat feels when my hands are hurting. I also wear compression gloves often and wrist braces when necessary.

    6. sagewhiz*

      Add anti-inflammatories to your diet! Has made a big difference in my hip arthritis (psoriatic, not rheumatoid). Some research I’ve found has reduced the pain:
      —drink Nettle Leaf tea. With summer coming on, I go through about 3 c. of iced tea every day & a half. Noticed improvement within a week of starting.
      — cut sugar consumption (sigh, I do love a sweet bit of something after dinner).
      — that said, both honey and peanut butter are anti-inflammatory, yay!
      — cut back on processed foods. Pasta is inflammatory, darn it, and I’d eat it at every meal if I could. But I’m switching over to whole grain pasta, as I’ve read that’s a better alternative.

    7. Dino*

      I don’t have RA but my parents does, and I was later diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

      If you haven’t already, the Spoon Theory helped me mentally with accepting and communicating how pain fluctuates and where my limits are for the day.

      Not quite supplies but: my world changed for the better when I decided to buy pre-sliced and pre-shredded cheese only and not feel guilty about it. It saves my hands and my effort for other things. I just make sure to recycle the packages that allow for that.

    8. Reba*

      Compression gloves (will probably have to try a few styles to get a good fit), compression socks, even Ace bandages or stretch bandages can help give some relief and support. I keep an electric heating pad at my desk at work so I can periodically warm up my hands just in my lap.

      I remember the book “Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis” by Lene Anderson being helpful to me, though it’s about 10 years old so not sure it would have the most up-to-date information.

      Johns Hopkins arthritis center has a video series “Yoga for arthritis” — very low impact movement “chair yoga” is doable for me even on painful days, and movement is so essential!

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Oxo makes tools that are easier to handle for people with arthritis (rheumatoid or osteoarthritis), or hand pain or weakness for any other reason.

      The handles are easier to grip, the tools take less force to use than a lot of brands, and they include things like storage jars that don’t require two hands to open. We have an Oxo can-opener, as well as vegetable peelers and storage containers.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        Note that when you join one of these groups, the default setting for any post is “unlocked” i.e. open to the entire Internet. If you “lock your post” i.e. share with “community only” (this is changed at the very bottom when you make a post, the default is to share with Everyone) you will likely gets more responses to your post. You know posts are locked when you see a little lock symbol to the right of the title.

        The site also has an app.

    10. MyBiteyPups*

      I was also somewhat recently diagnosed with RA (Feb 23). I have a nursing background so have spent time on EULAR.org and Rheumatology.org, specifically the guidelines to treatment areas of those websites. The guidelines are what most doctors are following so I was able to research next steps, meds, etc prior to my doctor’s visit. I feel a little more in control when I know what to expect. Someone else mentioned the creaky joints website, I found some relevant info there too. I’d like to find a trustworthy source on inflammatory foods to research that area a bit, but don’t have anything yet to recommend.

  16. WoodswomanWrites*

    For those of you who play musical instruments, have you ever focused on improving your playing for two kinds of instruments simultaneously? I know lots of people are accomplished multi-instrumentalists, but what I’m looking for are experiences from those who are still in the learning phase.

    I play clawhammer banjo and mountain dulcimer. I’m a much more advanced player for the dulcimer, but recently got an instrument with extra frets that’s opening up more possibilities for the styles and songs I can play. During the pandemic, I took my first ever banjo lessons in a class online, instead of plunking along self-taught as I had for years. I’m still at the beginner level with the banjo and have a long way to go both for technique and learning more than one tuning.

    I’m wondering if I would become a better player if I focused on just one at a time for a while.

    1. MyStringsAreUnstrung*

      As a kid I tried picking up the trombone while I was only 3 years into learning the violin. I loved the slide and thought it sounded cool. I found it helped that they were really different instruments, but the biggest problem I had was finding time to get enough practice on both. I loved the trombone, but was better on the violin. Still, when I had to give up the trombone after about 9 months because I got braces and it hurt to play, I felt like I fell behind on the violin and never caught up.

      If you’re playing for fun and don’t intend to play in a band/orchestra/group/judged setting and you enjoy the instruments you’re learning then it’s probably fine. If you’re trying to be really proficient or play with others you might be better off doing it serially.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      Our kids started with piano and later took up a wind instrument (my spouse did this too, as a child). This worked fine. I think the biggest hurdle is learning to read music well.

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I played recorder in high school in a baroque group, then got a mandolin for Christmas my senior year. I’ve always played both, some years (decades!) very sporadically, but it was never confusing. I play a lot by ear, and I’ve always found it easier to work tunes out on the recorder first, not because I play it better, but the sound-ear-brain connection is better for me. I’ve only ever played for my own amusement, and not with anyone else since I was in school, so I haven’t been diligent about technique or developing beyond very basic playing. Now I’ve got a mountain dulcimer because my hands are not in good shape, and it’s fun to have a new outlet for the music in my head.

    4. Anonymous*

      When I had summers off, the best thing I ever did with my time was take lessons for 3 different instruments at once. I practiced each one every day, and the variety helped me not develop another repetitive stress injury. (The instruments were saxophone, bass, and classical guitar.)

      The time you invest in practicing is what will make the biggest difference, and whatever number of hours it takes to improve will be roughly the same no matter how you spread them out. I physically wouldn’t have been able to play one instrument for the amount of time I spent on all 3, but that might not be true for you.

    5. delaware*

      I grew up playing the piano and cello. For me, two instruments at once never hurt, only helped… I essentially chose the cello as a 4th grader because it exclusively uses the bass clef, which was a big learning hurdle for me as a pianist, which uses both the treble and bass clefs. I still remember randomly pulling off overly-complicated finger moves on the cello as an instinct from years of piano, much to the confusion of my orchestra instructors, and being able to approach music from 2 very different angles definitely helped me get a better sense of the whole. I think the more instruments and types of music, the better for your brain :)

      (Of course, piano was always the focus for me, and my rarely-practiced cello technique suffered. You might find that you also develop a primary instrument. As long as you don’t neglect the others, you’ll only get benefits.)

    6. Rosie*

      I’m a music teacher – you’ll learn more about music in general from learning a second instrument, which will benefit your playing on your first instrument as others have said. In the long run it may well make you a better player! In the short term if you only have a limited time to practice you will progress more slowly, but ultimately you’re likely to become a more well-rounded player. And if you’re enjoying both, go for it!

    7. BubbleTea*

      I learned violin and piano together as a child. One thing I noticed was that sometimes, a day off from practising actually made my playing better. It was like my brain processed what I’d been working on while I was doing other things. Alternating instruments would have a similar effect but keep up the general musical focus.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m responding late, but all of your comments are helpful and I’m bookmarking this thread. Thanks!

  17. Old Plant Woman*

    Gardening mishaps. Tell me I’m not the only one who has done dumb stuff. Years ago I planted a whole pack of cilantro seeds at once. Dunno why. Maybe I thought it was… something else? Used a little and when it bolted, I dug it all in. I couldn’t even stand the smell for years after. Got a lot more stories, but I’ll spare you for now.

    1. myrosesareblooming*

      i once planted mint in a huge garden bed by the property line. i love the smell of peppermint, and it was amazing – until it started to spread. and spread. and spread. it took years to finally remove it all and a ton of work to keep it out of the neighbor’s yard. oops. :)

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        Watch out for Aspens. Spent $150 for some beautiful trees, not knowing they spread from runners. Two years later I spent exactly the same to have them taken out. And then there’s horse radish.

        1. Happily Retired*

          Oh Lordy, it took three years to dig out the perennial horseradish in my veg garden, and I’m not convinced that it won’t show up again soon.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            And spent good money on Yellow Flag Irises from White Flower Farm to plant near my pond. Can’t believe they sell those things. SO invasive. The only good thing is that they have crowded out the purple loosestrife and the hummingbirds seem to like them

      2. PhyllisB*

        Yep. Asparagus, too. Doesn’t spread as much, but it comes back FOREVER. My mother planted some one year then decided it wasn’t worth the effort, and pulled it all up. She thought. We found random Asparagus for years.
        We plant herbs in pots, and last year our oregano decided “jump the ditch” and take over the chives. I’m still trying to get it all out.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I have one spindly azalea in a corner that hangs on through anything, but I cannot get any other azaleas to grow near it.

    3. Girasol*

      We were given a jade plant that grew in the chimney corner. It grew to a lush five feet with beautiful succulent green leaves. Then one year we had a rare hard frost and – I had no idea it could do this! – it vanished. There was nothing left but a puddle of jelly.

        1. Snell*

          If you’re familiar with cacti/succulents, it’s only to be expected. Jades are succulents, and even though they can grow big ol’ girthy trunks when left unmolested, they aren’t woody in the slightest, or frost hardy. Hard enough of a frost, enough tissue damage, the whole thing rots into a puddle of jelly.

          Some cacti/succulents are actually frost hardy, and can handle wet and freezing (mostly the ones from high-altitude habitats), but for frost tender plants, it’s a risk even to get into the mid-high 30s F. I only just moved my collection back outside, from indoors by the big glass door where they spent the winter. I wanted to be sure we were clear of the spring rain, which probably wouldn’t have done major damage, but I definitely have my favorites that I wasn’t risking.

          *Sometimes I try to be a devil-may-care badass whose succulents and cacti are all hardened off, planted in the ground, flagrantly “imperfect,” and therefore perfect (I am NOT about trying to preserve the farina at all costs)…but I have known the pain of plants rotted to jelly before, multiple times. Naturally, the ones that hurt the most to lose.

          1. Old Plant Woman*

            If you read this, would you please talk about Rope Hoya? I received a beautiful plant from my wonderful mother in law’s estate and can’t quite figure it out,

            1. Snell*

              Sorry, I don’t have personal experience with rope plants. They’re one of those drop dead gorgeous aspirational plants that I don’t dare try my hand at because eating the cost would hurt so much if it didn’t make it. They’re known for being real slow growers, and I worry if something goes wrong and I couldn’t successfully fix it, it would die quickly and any of the slow, hard-won growth it made under my care would be for naught. Which, now that I think about it, isn’t too different from how other succulents are slow-growing and cacti even more so, but I have confidence in caring for those because I have lots of experience there. Probably a decent portion of my wariness towards hoyas can be attributed to my inexperience, so don’t take my word as any kind of authority on them.

              1. Old Plant Woman*

                Thanks. I never would have bought one myself. Internet isn’t really helpful. Guess I’ll just muddle along. Sigh

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Every gardener since Eden has made mistakes! I’ve done the acre of mint, planted shade lovers in full sun (and vice versa), and fallen for the trap of believing the plant tag when it said “dwarf variety”, but I think my biggest goof was allowing my husband to talk me into planting 48 tomato plants last year. That is way too many, even though we canned, froze, shared with friends, and donated to the food pantry. This year we are doing 12 (which is probably still too many).

    5. I don’t post often*

      Phew. I buy plants, forget about them for weeks on end and then wonder why they don’t grow. :)

    6. Snell*

      You know, I shared my alpine strawberry success below, so I suppose in this thread I should share my abject failure. When I was trying to germinate them for the first time, I had to treat them so gently, because the seeds and seedlings are so tiny, and dry out really easily. Okay, so I’ll use one of those nursery trays with the big clear plastic cover. They need good light, but they can’t be too cold, but I want to get as early a start on them since I’m finding them so hard to grow. So I put the covered nursery tray outside in the morning, northern exposure, and bring the tray inside at night. This is ~March. Miraculously, the humid box gives me many tiny strawberry seedlings. I grow confident, I start to believe I can do this. The seedlings grow bigger. Temps are still too cool at night, but very comfortable throughout the day.

      Mid-April, we get our first excellent sunny day. Strawberry plants are maybe the width of a quarter coin. I am eager to feed them that excellent sun. Midday, I set out the nursery tray, southern exposure. Tray is still fitted with the clear plastic cover. I come back later in the afternoon. Dread, and realization. I have steam cooked all my strawberries dead.

    7. sewsandreads*

      The internet: mint will grow wild if you let it. Do not let it.
      Me: hahaha
      The internet: no seriously
      Me: sure
      The internet: please don’t
      Me: la la la la la

      Anyway the mint is thriving and colonising the other plants’ homes at an alarming pace, and my method of dealing with it (“maybe if I ignore it, it’ll die”) has been as about effective as you’d imagine.

      1. SoloKid*

        I planted mint to get rid of the creeping bellflower. It worked! I’d much rather pull mint than have to dig invasive rhizomes.

        Ignoring it definitely won’t work though! I am in the garden almost every day so I don’t mind yanking a runner here and there.

  18. Owl Lady*

    I’ve been living with a dear friend, Jessica, for 8 years now. We were friend for 5 years before we moved in together. When we first moved into this house, it was her family’s house, and owned by her parents. Her parents acted like typical landlords, taking care of all of the larger house purchases. About 2-3 years ago, Jessica bought the house from her parents. My rent did not change when she bought the house. Neither her or her parents made a profit off of my rent, it’s just whatever we needed to pay taxes on the house because the house has been in their family so long that it’s all paid off, they just need to pay taxes on it.

    Anyway, a few weeks ago, Jessica, asked me how I would feel about chipping in with some of the larger purchases of the house, like appliances. She was a bit concerned about our oven and was thinking replacing ir. I said I would have to think about that. Real life got in the way and I didn’t bring it up again until Jessica did herself a week ago. She again asked my thoughts on this; I said that I had talked to a few family members of mine and they said that, as a renter, I should not have to pay into any larger purchases of the house that I don’t own equity in, which made sense to me. Jessica said she understood that, but she had talked to mutual friends of ours involved with finances, who suggested that she prorate things. So that if we went in together on a larger appliance like a fridge, she would pay me back everything if I only left within a month, but if a few years had passed, she would only pay me back a portion of what I paid. This does sound reasonable to me, and I’m willing to entertain the idea.

    But based on some recent posts she’s made online, I know Jessica has plans to do other things to our house. She’s mentioned tearing down our fence and getting a new one, and has asked on social media for recommendations for bathroom renovators. While I’m fine with chipping in with large appliances like kitchen stuff and laundry room stuff, I don’t think I should be responsible to more cosmetic changes for the house.

    I welcome the thoughts of others. Please note that we don’t have a formal contract of any kind. Please no comments on how housing situations like this or money issues can get in the way of friendship. We’ve been very well for 8 years and I like living with her, also, it is the cheapest rent I will find in our area. I don’t want to leave unless I’m really forced to do so. I can financially handle chipping in for our appliances, but not for a drastic remodel of the house.

    1. sad*

      You basically owe Jessica market rent for your share of the apartment. Anything less than that is a generous deal you’ve been profiting from. How Jessica chooses to use that rent is up to her- savings, bathroom remodel, whatever. So, market rent includes things like replacing appliances every decade or so, and usually a remodel every two decades or so. With that, you definitely should chip in for appliances, and the two of you definitely need to actually sit down and discuss things like actual adults. If it were Jessica writing in, I would say to not charge you specifically for appliances and remodel, but to increase your rent to be close to market.

    2. Double A*

      I think in this situation it makes sense to contribute to things like appliances because you have used them for so much of their lives. And also, usually rent would cover replacing these or even repainting and it sounds like to doesn’t currently. Technically rentals don’t need to even supply appliances, they just tend to usually. But I think it makes sense to talk to your friend about this. One option would be to talk about you paying more in rent. Think about what might be fair for you to contribute to general upkeep and replacements throughout the year and add that to rent, then your roommate can spend that on whatever. This would make your contributions less ad hoc. Or have a conversation about what refreshers or replacements need to happen and what it makes sense for you to contribute.

      I think a friend situation like this can be great, but as with any relationship you need to communicate and sometimes update expectations. Seems like you have a great friendship so a sit down where you talk through this all should be fine!

      1. Ally*

        I was going to say the same thing- could you suggest to her that you up your rent a little? It seems less complicated (unless you really would like a say in which oven you buy etc!)

        1. Tio*

          Another +1 to the rent change. Otherwise, there’s going to be a lot of back and forth and silent judgements about what is/isn’t “worth” changing around the house. Pay at least closer to a fair market rent, let her do whatever she wants with it, you both have a pretty decent deal.

    3. Whatever*

      While typically renters aren’t responsible for appliances or renovations, landlords use rent to offset and save for projects. But Jessica can’t do that because as you stated she is not making a profit off of your rent. Your roommate agreement worked when her parents took care of maintenance but now it doesn’t. The current situation greatly favors you and disadvantages her which is probably why she keeps bringing it up.

      To me you have three options
      A) Pay the same rent and contribute to the upkeep and renovations like Jessica wants
      B) Increase your monthly rent and not help with upkeep. Jessica can use the extra money towards renovations
      C) Move out

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        This is where I stand on this. Although, I do think it’s reasonable to agree to pitch in for necessities (eg, the stove) but not cosmetic things like a bathroom remodeling (unless the bathroom is completely falling apart or something).

      2. JSPA*

        could be the friend doesn’t want to pay tax on the rent, and thus is going for cost-sharing instead. If there’s an explicit quid pro quo (and maybe even if there isn’t…I am not a tax lawyer nor tax accountant) I’m guessing this could get Jessica in (minor??) hot water with the IRS if she is ever audited (which may be why stuff isn’t being rationally spelled out and discussed).

        Owl Lady, I don’t think it gets you in hot water either way (but see the disclaimers above). Your choice, I’m guessing, to either pay enough additional rent to cover both the tax bite and more of the actual costs of dealing with owning a house…or ponying up somewhat less for certain specific needs that make sense as a shared expense. (So, stove yes; roof, not really).

        1. Bob-White of the Glen*

          Between expenses you can write off and depreciation, it unlikely that she would pay a lot in taxes. Upping the rent to cover expenses will not make the tax situation worse. However, even if she is not making a profit (i.e. only getting taxes paid) she still has to declare the income. She’ll do a Schedule E, and might pay a tiny bit in taxes, but if she doesn’t file, even if she would not have had a tax situation, it’s still tax evasion.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I think I’d rather have an increase in monthly rent, that I can budget for, and have that go to household maintenance and repair, than be on the hook for random things as they come up, particularly if I didn’t have an equal say in what was purchased.

      It’s reasonable to have your rent, even a below market rent, be enough to help cover replacement of necessary appliances, and things like repairs. Major renovations, though, are things that increase the value of the house, and aren’t really a renter’s responsibility.

    5. M. from P.*

      If she’s not making a profit that means she could rent out the room to someone else and get more money. Right now you’re getting a pretty sweet deal. You are not being treated like a typical renter would and I think you need either to pay a market rate (like a renter would) or pitch in for appliances (like a family member would). Right now you kinda want the best of both and it’s not fair to your friend.

    6. Fit Farmer*

      I think there are lots of good comments here to work from. A question I don’t think has been addressed, though, is whether YOU want new appliances. If you would also like to replace them, then it would make sense to consider it a joint purchase. It sounds like you intend to live together for a while, and it wouldn’t add to her value if she buys you out of “remaining value” in the appliances if you leave before they get old. Heck, YOU could buy them, and have an agreement that you sell them to her, or sell them on craigslist! Plenty of people buy things together that both people want/need, and if they split up (or if one person no longer needs their part of it) they figure out how to buy each other out. And plenty of couples live together in a house that only one of them owns—that relationship structure may be most similar to yours (friends for 13 years, living together for 8), and could provide some models of how to work the finances.

      If you actually don’t really care about new appliances, then no, paying money for something you don’t want doesn’t make sense. If she’s saying you should, on account of the historically low rent, she has a point — you can agree on how much “back rent” you aught to pay towards appliances, and then you’re square. (And raise the rent some going forward, as others have said.)

      But none of this applies to other changes to the house — if you don’t want or care about it, don’t pay. If there’s not a way to extract your equity, don’t pay. If you’d like to live in the sort of house it could turn into after the list of upgrades she’s considering, then you could re-calculate the rent, and raise your rent to reflect the sort of house it will be. A larger discussion about the future of the house may be in order, since the circumstances have changed significantly.

      Also, I wonder if she doesn’t quite understand the value of owning the house — ie, the equity contained in it, if she bought it below market rate. Regardless of how much she paid for it, it’s still worth its full value, and she owns it. The way you describe that “she bought it from family and it’s all paid off” implies that she might not have paid money for it at all! Either she has a mortgage to pay for the house, because her family had paid it off and she bought it from them and so now has a big debt to pay off the big house purchase, or they gave it to her and she now owns it and is newly on the hook for repairs/upgrades (it sounds like this may be the situation). If she acquired the house for far less than market rate, she was basically given a huge amount of value (equity), and she could think about transforming some of that gift (ie, equity) into cash via a home equity line of credit as was discussed in last weekend’s thread, and paying for her own upgrades to a house she got for under market rate.

      1. Despachito*

        We do not know this actually. She may have bought the house for its full price without a mortgage, for all we know.

        But this is not actually relevant to OP’s position.

        I agree that she has to pay more either way (to contribute to the appliances or to have her rent increased), and has to discuss with her friend which one would be more convenient for both of them. If I was OP, I would prefer an increase of the rent to be much closer to the market rate, as someone already said, to be able to budget a predictable amount rather than have to cough up random amounts at random times.

        Look at it from the friend’s view – it must be more interesting for her to have OP live there than a random stranger who would pay the market rate. Part of this is probably covered by the fact they are friends and are getting on well (and could be the reason why the friend would still be willing to have OP pay less than the market rate), but part of that has to be compensated with money.

    7. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I think Jessica should charge you more rent and save up to pay for the upgrades with her increased rental income. You don’t have to chip in for appliances but you should pay market rent as a tenant. You’re her tenant, not her partner, so she shouldn’t be supplementing your housing by charging below market pricing.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Somehow I would feel better, as a renter, with a blanket increase (not even to market rent, as a reliable renter you like and who doesn’t give you a hard time is also valuable! but with an extra amount designated for repairs/improvements) and then it’s not my decision which cosmetic things or appliances she does or doesn’t choose to upgrade. I would not feel as comfortable being involved financially in those types of decisions, and costs can easily get away from you on projects. I understand Jessica may prefer it the other way so she can get the capital quicker for the immediate project, but I’d suggest the flat monthly increase.

      2. Clisby*

        I do, too. Whether Jessica increases it to market rate or to something less than that, obviously the rent should be high enough that OP can bank some of it for repairs/appliance replacement/etc. No landlord should be charging rent so low that it just pays the taxes and insurance on the property (???This is crazy???)

        Plus, the rent increase is predictable for OP – although, is there a lease involved here? If not, getting one would be a good idea.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a longtime landlord to friends, in a semi-similar situation (only I still have a mortgage on my house), I never asked my friend-tenants for a PENNY for upgrades or repairs to my house. The closest I came was “Hey, the power bill has gone up by a hundred bucks a month since you installed four snake tanks and a lizard tent in the basement, can we bump your rent to accommodate that?”

      When my friend-tenant moved out in March after buying his own house, not only did he not have anything concrete to show for his eight years living here (as would be normal for a renter anywhere), but since we didn’t have an official lease and his name wasn’t on any of the bills or anything, we had to jump through some extra hoops for his mortgage company because there was a decided lack of paper trail on his end.

      I married one of my friend-tenants five and a half years ago, his name is still not on my house’s deed or mortgage and he still pays me “rent” monthly, and I STILL don’t ask him to chip in on upgrades to my house. (Except in actual manual labor. I buy the parts, he and his brother do the work on our DIY stuff.)

      Speaking from her position: She owns the house, she gets the equity, but with all the equity comes all the responsibility. If that means she has to raise your rent, that’s a discussion she can initiate with you, but it’s still her responsibility.

    9. JSPA*

      If she’s renting to you at well-below rent, that’s not in her financial best interests.

      For stuff that legitimately makes your experience in the house better–and having a stove that’s in great condition might well count–and if you can afford it, I’d offer to chip in (no prorating required).

      For stuff that you don’t care about either way, or it’s frankly a headache for you even if it increases the value of the property, I’d take a pass on those things.

      And if there is something that you would love so much that you would happily take it with you if you were to move out, you can (additionally or instead) offer to buy it, for shared use, with the Is understanding that it remains your item / will travel with you if circumstances were to force you to move elsewhere. (e.g. breadmaker, instantpot, cuisinart, some excellent cookware for the new stove.)

      If you’re already doing that, you can have the conversation where you say, “I’ve always felt that by buying the more expensive small appliances from mutual use, that’s my way of contributing to the household. Is that no longer working for both of us, like I’d hoped?”

      It’s also possible that either the taxes have gone up or her income has gone down relative to living expenses, such that she frankly needs to ask for more rent but she doesn’t want to do that. The “upgrades” that she’s talking about may be only partially upgrades and also partially necessary maintenance! If you have bad termites in the fence, then that’s the right time to not only replace the fence but to make the changes you’d wanted to make, “when it got to be time to replace the fence.”

      Asking for some insight into “why now?” might make the overall situation more palatable.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s the cheapest rent you can find in the area because it just covers taxes. Rather than taxes, mortgage, insurance, upkeep, and some profit like all those other rents.

      The very low rent made sense for a while; now circumstances have changed for your friend and you two need a different model. It would make sense for you to pay more in rent, so that your friend can budget for home repairs and improvements with that income in mind, and you aren’t trying to thread the needle on chipping in for repairs etc when you don’t own the home in question, but are being done a favor by the owner with the way-below-market rent.

    11. Not A Manager*

      The whole “pay for appliances but not for renovations with a complicated pro-rated buy-back” sounds like a nightmare to me. Just pick a reasonable rent increase and offer to pay that every month.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        And get it in writing. It’s not too late to draw up a contract. You’ll need it if things ever go south.

    12. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I wouldn’t pay for a new roof, but a stove, yes. In fact, I’ve been in a long-term rental (waiting to buy) and bought a fridge I will leave here, washing machine, new floor in half of the apartment. These things are in the hundreds or low thousands and not what should be considered “large purchases” especially if the cost is spread out over time (at least in your head or on paper).

    13. Morning reader*

      Owl Lady, I agree with other commenters that the easiest method would be to negotiate a rent increase with your friend that would cover a portion of her improvements budget. You could consider instead, or additionally, to share expenses for appliances and non-attached improvements (e.g. oven, lawn mower) and go 50/50 on those, or alternate major purchases so that each has a specific owner. Then, homeowner friend would cover attached home improvements herself, with a home equity loan or however. E.g. New roof, new furnace, sump pump, things you couldn’t take with you somewhere else. They might also increase the value of the home and therefore its taxes, and your rent in the long run. Homeowner might be able to claim depreciation on some of those things on her taxes, or other tax credits for things like solar.

      I wonder what’s the long term plan for your living situation, especially if you’re older and retired like me. Would she consider an arrangement where your rent payments do give you some equity? Some kind of rent to own agreement where you own a share of the house after x number of years? If you intend to live there til the end, what happens if/when one of you dies before the other, or becomes unable to live in the house? Would you have to move out if she goes first? Would she give you the house in her will, or would it pass to someone else in her family? Would it help to put ownership of the house in some kind of trust?

      These are broader questions than what you asked, but they might be worth considering in the big picture of how you share expenses. If you were going to inherit the house,or could build some equity, it might be more worthwhile for you to kick in for improvements.

    14. Observer*

      I think that you have basically 2 choices. One is to chip in on stuff. The other is to start paying something close to market rate. That’s going to be well above whatever the taxes are.

      All things considered, you are probably best off going with just starting to pay her market rent.

      I do get the whole issue of you paying in to a house in which you have no equity. But on the other hand, you’ve been befitting from their equity in the house for a number of years. The best way forward, it seems to me, is to stop thinking about your rent in terms of the house expenses.

  19. Modesty Poncho*

    OK I have been thinking about this all week since I saw a reference to it in an archive-crawl. Does anyone remember what letter it was where the OP came into the comments furious that Alison had published the letter because they thought it was private somehow? I can’t remember anything about the actual letter, just that comment section lol

    1. Anonymous cat*

      Was it the guy who ghosted his fiancée, left the country, and then several years later she was his new boss?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        For ease of searching the posts are:

        “I ghosted my ex, and she’s about to be my new boss” from August 22, 2017

        “update: I ghosted my ex, and she’s about to be my new boss” from September 27, 2017

        The exact wording of the LW not realizing his letter would be posted (from the update) is:

        I did not realize my message would be fully replicated on your blog.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The letter writer posted in the comments under the username “The_evil_OP” for anyone who wants to go read through how that situation devolved.

      2. Seahorse*

        Wow, that was a ride! I hadn’t read that one before. It’s also interesting to see how Alison’s approach to moderating has changed & evolved over the last ten years.

      3. marvin*

        I actually feel kind of bad for that guy. I can see why his tone attracted the response it did, but it is genuinely pretty upsetting to receive a slew of negative feedback all at once, and it sounded like he didn’t really have the emotional resources to cope with much negativity at all. Even when people are mostly being kind and constructive, those few sharper comments can really hurt, and it’s a real learning process to be able to accept them gracefully.

        1. Courageous cat*

          lol I totally agree, people were clearly taking a little schadenfreude/joy in digging into him as much as they did. He’s so obviously a dude who doesn’t understand the internet or what he was getting himself into with a comment section, and while he was an asshole about it, I can kinda see why he freaked out. Not everyone knows what they’re getting into when they submit stuff like that.

      4. Random Dice*

        I forgot about that letter!

        I was into his drama llama thing until he went after Alison and started insulting her, and then it was not at all funny.

        Alison, meanwhile, handled his defensive insecure attacks with the aplomb that makes us all read this site so faithfully.

    2. GraceC*

      I remember a furious OP who said something about “I thought that on a site called ‘Ask a Manager’ you’d be on the side of the manager” when Alison called them out for being awful, but I can’t for the life of me remember whether that was an update or in the comments – it feels like it has the same energy as your OP, though!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think that one was the beer run manager. Who thought a manager would be on her side.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I believe that was the “un-manager” who was trying to get rid of the person on her team who wasn’t going on the beer runs and was the target of all the snapchat bullying.

        1. CityMouse*

          Wow, I went back and read that one and that’s just so spectacularly bad I just honestly have doubts that it wasn’t faked. Particularly the update where she claimed the ex employee’s ability to attract clients (i.e., her job) was showing off.

          1. CityMouse*

            I should note Alison’s original reaction was “I’m doubting this is real” to the update too.

      3. Hlao-roo*

        The letter GraceC is referring to is “is the work environment I’ve created on my team too exclusive?” from July 25, 2017. The first update (from August 2, 2017), the OP wrote:

        My ex employee made me look bad and I thought that as Ask a Manager you would side with a manager.

  20. Unkempt Flatware*

    Do you feel we owe it to people to let them apologize for treating us poorly? I have men in my life who seem to think I owe it to them to ease their conscience by not only granting an audience to an apology but also accepting it. I recently experienced this with a man who means nothing to me. Let’s say we both do volunteer work in the same park. He crossed a line and I told him he wasn’t welcome to ever speak to me again and to please keep his distance from now on. And now I’m feeling pressure from other volunteers to listen to his apology. We don’t work together, share resources, socialize, or anything. Why can’t he simply realize he messed up and got bit? Why do I have to talk to him?

    1. RagingADHD*

      You don’t have to. People want you to, which is a different thing.

      People are uncomfortable with conflict, and with the thought of themselves being cut off or not allowed to make a mistake right. So they project that into others.

      1. Random Dice*

        Agree that you don’t have to.

        Toxic forgiveness is a tool of enforcing power and avoiding collective responsibility.

        “Toxic forgiveness” centers the feelings of the offender and the bystanders over the safety of the victim. Everyone but the victim wants inconvenient situations to be wrapped up tidily so they can be forgotten, and not have to be addressed or pondered or require real change. It is a second wound and can harm the victim even more deeply than the first affront.

        It is especially enforced by bystanders against a victim who is less powerful – such as when a man is the offender and a woman is the victim. Toxic forgiveness is very common in more authoritarian Christian circles, but again enforced most against people who are already vulnerable or less powerful.

    2. Middle Aged Lady*

      You don’t. And, general PSA, an apology has at least two parts.
      I am sorry I did X.
      I did it because Y, and I can imagine (or know) that it may have made you feel Z, or caused you (specific) pain.
      Person being apologized to: I accept your apology. (If no further contact is desired) I do/don’t forgive you, go on your way.
      If reconciliation is desired, there are two more parts.
      Wrongdoer: I will do X and Y to be sure (try my best) to not do this again.
      Here is how I am going to make it up to you.

      1. Random Dice*

        Here are the parts to an apology I taught my kid:

        1) I’m sorry for doing X.
        2) It must have made you feel Y.
        3) Going forward, I’m going to do Z differently.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Because if he makes you talk to him, he’s controlling the situation.

      If he *really* cared about the fact that he hurt you, he’d back off and leave you alone the way you’ve asked. You can basically say that to the other volunteers – “If he cared about how I feel, he’d leave me alone like I asked.”

    4. Sinead O*

      You don’t.

      I find the phrase “I won’t entertain x” to be useful in situations like this. It’s a good word. I find people don’t argue with it, perhaps because they aren’t sure exactly what entertaining constitutes in this context. So next time someone pressures you to hear him out, you could try saying, “I’m sorry, but I won’t entertain that.”

    5. Sloanicota*

      I think you don’t have to, as others have said, but some people need it spelled out for them that, by following your wishes and not engaging with you, they are earning forgiveness in your mind (in that you’re moving on, at least). Being not-forgiven-forever causes some people to feel that a loop is unfinished, they’re in limbo and are “supposed” to do something and can’t redirect. It’s almost like an itch. It’s not really your problem, but it might be a kindness to let people know you have moved past the original incident but you prefer not to interact with him again.

    6. Not A Manager*

      There are two issues here. The first is people (let’s call them “men”) who want other people (lets call them “women”) to, ideally, make them feel emotionally good and if not, to at least not make them feel emotionally bad. You messed up the second option, so now this guy wants you to provide the first option.

      The other issue is that bystanders *also* don’t like to feel uncomfortable, and while this guy did whatever he did (and maybe even made people uncomfortable when he did it), right now you are perceived as the one who is causing the discomfort, by maintaining your distance. The other volunteers might think that you are harming Poor Tactless Tom by not making him feel better about himself, but probably most of them just want the awkwardness to go away.

      You asked “why” people feel this way, so that’s what I answered. There’s not a lot you can do about it in terms of having anyone *feel* differently, so the best you can do is maintain your boundaries and try to get them to stop bugging you about it. You absolutely don’t “have” to talk to him and I encourage you not to.

      To anyone who pesters you about it, I would say this: “I accept Tom’s apology and there’s absolutely nothing he needs to say to me. I’m sure he’s very sorry and he won’t speak that way to someone again. But accepting his apology doesn’t mean that I need to interact with him. I’m happy to accept his apology from a distance, and the very best way that he can show that his apology is sincere is to leave me alone.”

      My guess is that they will then either try to center his discomfort, or theirs. What you need to make clear is that YOU ARE OKAY with someone else choosing to feel a certain way, and that you will continue to tolerate that. “I’m sorry that Tom feels sad that I don’t want to talk with him, but I’m sure he’ll be okay.” “I’m sorry that some of the volunteers are sad that I don’t want to talk to Tom. Maybe if you let them know that I’m quite firm on this, they will give it less thought going forward.”

    7. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      The short answer is you don’t have to talk to him. I wonder why so many other volunteers care about this, especially if you don’t normally cross paths with him anyway. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. An appropriate response is something like “It’s not any of your concern, please stop bringing it up.” If you get “But he wants….”, or “He feels….”, you can say “I don’t care, please drop it.”

    8. Courageous cat*

      I think it… depends. Depends on the boundary they crossed. Like for instance, say a person’s boundary is: “My name is Jenny, don’t ever call me Jen, I hate it”, and someone accidentally calls Jenny “Jen” in a moment of quickly trying to get their attention. And if Jenny tells that person never to speak to her again, even though that person was trying to apologize… that would be an overreaction – and if it hurt the person who did it, I can see why others might come to their defense.

      Meanwhile, there are plenty of *other* boundaries that are indefensible to cross, and you’d be well within your rights and other people are being assholes for not respecting that. So it just depends on context to some degree.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I don’t know about owing it to people, but I’d bet that you’re feeling uncomfortable in this situation because he’s not really apologizing. As far as I’m concerned, an apology includes “I’m sorry + I won’t do it again”. In your case you’ve made it clear that “I won’t do it again” means staying away from you for the short term at minimum, and he’s not doing it. Apologies aren’t for the comfort of the person apologizing, but for the person they’ve wronged.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      You definitely don’t owe somebody a favour because they treated you poorly and honestly, if they think you owe them something, then they are not really sorry and therefore, their apology is pretty self-serving.

      If the person is generally decent and just made a mistake, it’s often a kind thing to do to let them apologise.

      It sounds like the other volunteers either feel sorry for him or think that the fact the two of you aren’t talking makes things awkward and they just want it to be over and are putting pressure on you to make their lives easier.

      It’s also possible they don’t think what he did is serious enough to warrant your not talking to him. This doesn’t mean they are right, just that people often have opinions about others’ interactions even when they don’t have the full story.

    11. Qwerty*

      You don’t have to talk to him! If he’s genuinely sorry, then he’ll understand your right to not interact with him. He’s trying to force you to keep talking to him. If he’s sending other volunteers to pressure you to listen to him, then he’s continuing the original behavior and stirring up drama.

      The situation will likely continue even if you did listen to the apology. Then he’d be telling people “I apologized but Unkempt Flatware still won’t let it go!” It’s a manipulation. The other volunteers suck for pressuring you. I could understand if *one* person passed along an apology on his behalf and then let it go.

    12. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Nope! “But he’s really sorry” is not a “get out of experiencing the consequences of your actions free” card and you don’t owe this guy a thing!

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

      Heck, no. That’s why 12-step programs tell you not to make amends if it would hurt the other person. Dude could just make a resolution to himself not to do THAT again and then keep it. No need to drag you into it, and you certainly don’t need to accept an apology or tell someone that you forgive them.

    14. possibly unwanted advice*

      This is kind of an intersection between Friday and Saturday, actually!

      But first of all: Frog that guy. (Substitute another four-letter word that starts with F for “frog.”) He belongs entirely in the trash. (Or at least, entirely in your trash.)

      Anyway, now that I’ve got the formal acknowledgement he sucks out of the way – from your last sentence:

      Why can’t he simply realize he messed up and got bit? Why do I have to talk to him?

      I think that’s the actual issue here. You are by no means obligated to accept his apology. But, unfortunately, since it’s happening at a volunteer organization, this shades a bit closer to That Place We Don’t Talk About On Weekends than a friend group, so the expectations are a bit different for how you behave.

      But I’m going back and forth because there are two things I know:

      1) Again – generally, you do need to be minimally courteous. If it looks like you’re dramatically freezing him out, then that’s an issue.
      2) A lot of people (and more often than not, men dealing with women – this is not gender-exclusive but WE HAVE ALL NOTICED THE PATTERN) take any sign of kindness as an opening, even if it’s just the social minimum. I’m not saying that this dude will definitely show up outside of your house with a boombox, flowers, and a giant “I’M SORRY” sign if you so much as say hello to him, but I don’t want to leave that up to chance.

      Since it’s a volunteer organization…is there anyone in charge you’d feel comfortable going to and explaining why you can’t forgive him? I think people are assuming that whatever this man said couldn’t be that bad (spoilers: it was), so you’re being mean for not listening to him be sorry that you were offended.

      (And if there isn’t anyone that would be cool enough with you, that’s a problem in and of itself, in my opinion.)

      Final note: I actually get why he feels bad (and he should feel bad), and I also get his urge to apologize (been there, done that) – that’s a hard thing to deal with! But since you’ve clearly communicated that you’re not interested in hearing him out, that’s settled. That’s his own journey to go on, and it sounds like he’s not taking it well. Ideally, someone needs to deal with him and explain that he needs to just take the L – but that is not your problem anymore.

      tl;dr: Because it is now other people’s business, you might have to correct the record somewhat. If it isn’t safe for you to do so, that in and of itself is a problem.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Thanks so much for your great advice.

        This was not a volunteer situation in real life but was what I chose to use here to illustrate the type of situation and relationship I have with offender. So there isn’t a worry about the program or community going forward.

  21. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Question about clothing:
    So I have recently come out (loathsome term) as nonbinary and changed my name. Now trying to experiment more w clothing.

    1. Anyone have any good tips for a fat genderqueer person om how to dress more androgynous? I didn’t mind about looking feminine before but feeling more dysphoric now and would like to cut down on the amount of ma’aming by strangers. But the tips on dressing more masc make me feel much fatter looking, and am already short.

    2. More formal outfit tips? Have interview and would have usually worn dress. Now would like to avoid that. And the more masc clothing I have (some jeans shorts, colorful short sleeved shirt w dad-on-holiday print) seems too casual to interview. not looking for formal but just a little zuzzed up (and cool, temp wise!).

    thanks!!

    1. English Rose*

      Hmmm, I have a friend who likes genderfreeworld dot com, but I’m not sure if they are only in the UK. They have different garments for different body types.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      I’ve seen some pretty amazing outfits on @dapperboi which is a gender neutral clothing small business and the owners specifically created their brand because they struggled to find more androgynous clothing and cuts for curvy bodies. They were recently on Shark Tank and I have an acquaintance who does their social media and told me about them. I thought their stuff was pretty striking, and I’ve seen some of their things on thrift websites for folks that might not want to make the initial cost investment. I would think many of their shirts, pants, and sweaters would be spot on for an interview.

    3. marvin*

      In general, structured clothes are your friend when it comes to dressing more masc. Fit is also pretty important, so it’s useful if you are able to sew or have access to a tailor to have things altered. There are an increasing number of clothing companies that offer more non-binary clothing options–which in practice are often masc clothing that’s designed to fit a wider range of body types. They tend to be pretty size-inclusive also. My local one is Peau de Loup, but I think there are a few of them out there.

      For me, part of looking more androgynous is just dressing and looking more obviously queer. I like bright colours, clashing prints, mesh, piercings, tattoos, dyed hair, etc. I live in a pretty gay and trans heavy area, so dressing this way tends to be the most reliable way to get people to clock me as non-binary, although my actual appearance is still pretty feminine.

      For an interview in the summer, I would probably wear a plain coloured dress shirt and lightweight pants. I tend to err on the side of boring for interviews.

      1. Random Dice*

        Yeah, I think people look for gender clues in hair, jewelry, glasses, bags, shoes, watches, and clothes.

        I’d start with hair – for an AFAB person, short or medium-short hair with a shaved part conveys “I may have a different gender or orientation than you initially assumed”.

        Then shoes. Male coded shoes make an impression.

        Wearing rainbows is always a good clue for folks, though people will start with thinking it’s about orientation. But anything that hints at queerness can pop someone out of “ma’am/sir” territory.

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

      For the formal interview outfit, maybe some sharp-looking black trousers? I wore some from Gloria Vanderbilt to an LGBTQIA+ event, and they seemed to fit in okay. For the top, maybe a sportscoat in a sort of masc cut/fabric?

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

        And maybe some androgynous shoes, like some sharp black loafers?

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

          Brooks Brothers has some nice structured shirts that are tailored and blue-and-white striped that might go well under the sportscoat.

    5. *daha**

      For general wear, consider suspenders with pants or shorts. They give you a couple of verticals, and they don’t tend to be worn by women.

      I favor the Perry brand. Instead of metal clips that bite into the waistband of the pants, they use plastic lugs that slip under your belt and lift it securely without the risk of popping open. There are many patterns and colors available.

    6. CanadaGoose*

      For formality and feeling streamlined, you’re probably looking for a column of color. That is, one color from neck to the bottom of your bottoms, or even including your footwear. The color could be a simple neutral that you like, or any color.
      Also consider owning the fact that you’re compact, or fat, or roundish, or whatever is true. Despite toxic messages from certain parts of society, both having fat and being fat is fine. Necessary and beautiful, even. I get that you can’t just decide this in your own head one day, so explore in therapy if you can.
      Good luck with the interview!

    7. Random Dice*

      I think you may want to consider color more strategically. A monochrome color base (black or purple or navy on both bottoms and top) is slimming and creates a single smooth line for the eye, while an accent in another color draws the eye. Browns and greys are hard to match so I gave up on them long ago.

      Vests are a nice option. They can be worn over a t-shirt for a casual look, or over a dress shirt.

      I also like suspenders as option. Suspenders go up and down so it’s a visually slimming effect. Suspenders are great to signal genderqueer. They are historically culturally coded more masculine (no hips to hold up trousers), but can be play with color and such to dance along arbitrary gender lines. My overweight trans guy friend wears suspenders in fun colors and sparkles for parties.

      You can always wear trousers and a button-down; for an interview, wear a blazer / jacket over.

      A female presenting coworker (that was before asking about pronouns) used to wear trousers, button-up, vest, and bowtie. I guessed she was either gay or genderqueer but without legal protections then we didn’t ask. She always looked very stylish!

  22. Ice balls*

    Whiskey connoisseurs, what is the best ice ball tray? My research is showing me a lot of poor ratings for leaks and ill-fitting lids.

    1. English Rose*

      I don’t know, but commenting so I can find this again because it’s something I’m looking for as well. I’ve already had to chuck out two trays.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve never used them much, but I have one, because I like whisky and I’ve been gifted/collected a few special ice trays. I’d suggest a large cube or cylinder if that’s your concern. Those won’t leak any more than regular ice cube trays. And I’ve seen fancy bars use cubes more than balls, IME…now I’m realizing it might be for that very reason! But I’ll try to use my ice ball tray and see how it does.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I found great rubber/plastic cube trays at Home Goods and they work great. Never could find ball molds that worked

    3. Qwerty*

      I switched to cubes because the tray is a lot easier. My ice balls generally came out as ice Saturns

    4. cat socks*

      Check out Cocktail Kingdom. My husband has gotten a lot of barware from there, including some ice trays. He’s been happy with the quality.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’ve heard really good things about both the Dexas and TINANA brands of home ice trays.

    6. SB*

      If you have the funds to buy one, the Ice Ball Press. They are expensive, but if you want the perfect sphere of ice this is the best way. Plus, it’s fun to play with.

  23. Rosyglasses*

    I’m looking into going on a yoga retreat in June in the U.S. – I have a few ideas I’ve found in BookRetreat but any recommendations or places to avoid? Thanks in advance!

    1. Bluebell*

      I went to Kripalu many years ago. The setting was gorgeous and the classes were good. It was more hardcore back then- all the meals were silent— but apparently it’s changed somewhat.

    2. JWM*

      Kripalu is wonderful. I have been 10 times, for different topics. Lots of variety, beautiful location, good food, friendly people.

    3. Random Dice*

      I was also going to say Kripalu in Stockbridge Massachusetts. I’ve heard it’s not expensive, the food is good, and kripalu is a really warm affirming supportive kind of yoga.

  24. The Prettiest Curse*

    What is your favourite genre of advice column letter? Mine is always You, The Letter Writer, Are The Real Villain Here. (My all-time favourite example of this is the Slate advice letter from the mother-in-law who went to stay with her son and new wife for the first time, complained non-stop about really minor things like the towels not matching and was just shocked that the daughter-in-law got upset.)

    The other genre that I really enjoy is One Of Your Stairs Is Missing, and we see examples of that here almost every week. But there are many other genres, too, so tell me your favourites!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I also love “The Problem’s Coming From Inside The Letter,” so satisfying to have the mounting OMG THIS GUY outrage and then see the columnist give them the smackdown lol

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah the ones where the LW thinks they have a problem with their child or in laws or something and it’s blindingly obvious that the real problem is their SPOUSE

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Oh yeah, Your Spouse Is Completely Useless And You Should Dump Them Immediately is always an interesting genre. The People Who Raised You Are Extremely Messed Up, And Your Spouse Is Right About Them Is usually fascinating, too.

          1. Bluebell*

            Oh, don’t forget the subcategory- It’s Your Spouse/Partner who Needs to Deal with Their Family. This used to constantly show up in Dear Prudence.

          2. Random Dice*

            My Partner is Absolutely Perfect, Except for this One Tiny Thing [that is a giant dealbreaker].

            1. Ampersand*

              Like you know any time a letter starts out with “my partner is perfect in every way” or “we have an amazing relationship” it’s going to be followed by something like: but I just found out they’re actually a serial killer, is this a problem?

              Those are my favorite—I feel for most of those LWs; it can be really hard to see issues from inside of a relationship (been there), but it’s so clear to the reader that no, actually, LW’s partner is not perfect and there’s a good chance LW can’t fix it.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      On the other hand, I also like the ones where the person writes in about something fairly inconsequential but the context reveals something WAY worse, and the columnist gently points it out and validates the person’s concerns. I always feel so sad for those people that they were in such a bad situation and didn’t even realize it, and grateful that they chose the right person to reach out to.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Eight Paragraphs About a Half-Inch Molehill, Followed By Offhand Mention of Mount Everest on Which It Sits.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, we’ve seen a few of those letter here, when the letter writer comes into the comments, offhandedly mentions a few things, and other commenters are able to point out “this is much bigger than [original small problem from letter] and you need to get out of this unfix-able situation.” Like you, I’m grateful that the straw that broke the camel’s back led to them seeing that the whole pile of straw is the real problem.

      3. Victoria Everglot*

        The type where the title is like “boss gets mad if I say ‘good evening’ instead of ‘good night'” but then in the letter the writer says “every time boss and I pass the unleashed vicious guard dogs to go to our respective cars on opposite sides of the unfenced infinite void in the middle of the parking lot, he berates me over my choice to say ‘have a good evening'” and then Alison or whoever has to gently say “your boss allows you around uncontrolled animals and supernatural phenomena, things are probably not getting better”.

        Always a good time.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Ha yeah! I love ThatBadAdviceTumblr for that reason. As well as Captain Awkward, of course.

    4. AnonForToday*

      These are probably my favorite too!

      Although there’s a particular writer on Slate’s Care and Feeding that I kind of place bets with myself on how soon into the response they veer off LW’s topic to monolog about themself. I used to groan whenever the column was published, but now I think it’s pretty funny in an incredulous way.

      1. Sloanicota*

        True, as a connoisseur of advice giving, I do have a weakness for “letters that I know are going to hit a hot point for this particular advice giver and they’re going to be completely derailed by it” (Alison does a good job here I will say, although as a longtime reader I know she’s going to tend to more be sympathetic to marijuana issues and activism as well as pro-cat). You are correct that Slate is the juiciest source of this bounty.

    5. ecnaseener*

      That’s probably my favorite too, but I think of it as “I don’t think this is going to be the response you were expecting…” The ones where LW is clearly just seeking validation of their completely wrong viewpoint and the request for advice is mostly pretext.

      1. Sloanicota*

        After reading, somewhere, about “missing reasons” (the LW is extremely vague about the source of the conflict even though there is a letter or conversation that should have revealed it) I see that everywhere now!!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          That’s a telling pattern once you know to look for it.

          I recall a piece about wondering where the other side of “I am cutting contact with my terrible relatives” was, and then finding it in grandparents’ rights fora.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, I went down the rabbit hole on an estranged parents forum for a little bit. Let’s just say my prejudices did not get a lot of challenge.

          2. Sloanicota*

            I tend to believe that the “missing reasons” are very revealing of the state of mind – it’s more than just the LW not listing them because they’re trying to gain sympathy in the letter; people with certain types of narcissism literally can’t hear / comprehend criticism, it just goes over their heads, because after all they’re right so what are these people talking about anyway ??? Or they don’t think children/spouses have the right to have complaints, so the reasons don’t matter or aren’t important.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I like those too, I think partly because it’s so interesting to see how people justify actions that most of us would consider to be clearly wrong.

    6. Bluebell*

      I enjoy “Why yes, that is totally bananapants” especially when accompanied by Flee! It’s fun to read these different category names.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      My SO Wants To Break Up With Me, But I Don’t Think Their Reasons Are Strong Enough.

      The Ur version was to Dan Savage, and the writer making his case was of course an unemployed lawyer.

    8. fposte*

      That is of course the best. I do also have a special place in my heart for The Problem Is Not What You Seem to Think It Is, as long as the advice columnist grabs and unwinds that particular ball of troubled yarn. Then there are the letters with the Record Scratch moment. Captain Awkward #1149 has a great one of those with “We decided not to leave her behind and to take her with us” about her fiancé’s ex-wife.

      1. Generic Name*

        I went back and re-read that one. The letter was clearly written when the LW was in the thick of things/still processing, but damn. I had a second record scratch moment when I got to the part about how LW’s “fiancé” was actually still legally married to his “ex”, and that they were filing for divorce “today”. I really hope she was able to escape with her dogs and is now living her best life. I’m sad that she said she wanted the drama to stop bit it apparently didn’t occur to her to leave the situation entirely.

        1. fposte*

          I think we all start with the presumption that drama is somebody else’s creation and also that it’s something we can control. Often neither of these things are true.

          What’s funny about this one is that I knew (friend of a friend) somebody in pretty much this same situation 30 years ago. I have no problem with somebody being good friends with their ex, but if you’re miserably living together that’s about as unresolved as it gets, and I’ll pass, thanks.

      2. Tio*

        ok, Captain Awkward #1148, which is basically “Golly Gee Why is My Friend Upset I Invited Their Abuser To Their Art Show and also Abuser’s Girlfriend to Emotional Workshops With Us” has lived rent-free in my mind since the day I read it. LW was absolutely CLUELESS why their friend was so upset.

    9. marvin*

      Yes, those are very satisfying. I always think of the Dear Prudence letter from a woman who was horrified that her daughter-in-law made her a very thoughtful and beautiful blanket using a gift card that she had given her. Apparently a terrible faux pas.

      The inverse of this, where the letter writer thinks they are the problem but actually they are being treated terribly by someone in their life, is quite sad, though.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        That one was great. “I basically bought myself a gift!” when her gift was the laziest possible option (I love hobby gift cards, don’t get me wrong) and what she got in return took time, effort, and skill.

        1. marvin*

          Her perspective was so mystifying to me. If I’m remembering correctly, it sounded like she had plenty of money and didn’t really need anything, and she loved the blanket and said that it was beautiful and obviously took a lot of time. I’m fascinated by people who are determined to find a problem where there isn’t one.

      2. Generic Name*

        The phenomenon you mention in your second post I why the AITA on Reddit has a pinned post about how to recognize the signs and get help for abusive relationships. A sadly large chunk of the posts there seem to be from someone in an abusive relationship having a normal reaction to being treated badly but are conflicted about how they feel because their partner has them convinced that they are the problem and not partner.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I’ve gotten kind of addicted to AITA on Reddit. Not sure if that’s a good thing :)

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes! That’s the one of the top 5 You Are The Real Villain letters that came to mind when I was thinking of letters that exemplify that genre. Such dedication to finding something nonsensical about which to be deeply, deeply offended.

    10. CatCat*

      Clueless letter writers who do not realize they are the problem type of letters are pretty satisfying. My favorite was from “Ask Amy,” which I remember reading in the newspaper many years ago where one sister was excluding the other sister from an annual family shopping trip.

      That’s at https://amydickinson.com/post/85115023030/sisterly-exclusion-makes-one-sis-a-horrible-person

      My favorite from this site of that type of letter is the manager who wrote in asking how they could scold their ex-employee on professionalism when the (exemplary) employee quit when denied a couple hours off to attend her own college graduation

      That’s at https://www.askamanager.org/2016/07/my-best-employee-quit-on-the-spot-because-i-wouldnt-let-her-go-to-her-college-graduation.html

      (We have seen instances on this site where such letter writers do actually digest the advice and learn and grow from it once Alison kindly hits them with a clue stick!)

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        That Ask Amy post was horribly epic. Holy cow! What an awful person!
        And the response was succinct, right to the point and wonderfully brutal
        I really hope the (horrible) sister took it as a wakeup call

    11. Middle Aged Lady*

      Wedding drama letters are my favorite. People go bonkers over the smallest details, or the wedding issue reveals much bigger issues.

      Second favorite are the ones where the letter writer is the problem.

    12. Francie Foxglove*

      There was a multi-blog back in the 2010s: My Very Worst Date, MVW Job, MVW Roommate. It shut down at least partly because the responses were so often, “Uh, no, *you* were the bad date/employee/co-worker/roommate!”

  25. Anonymous cat*

    Can someone help me get a handle on this?
    I used to do a certain kind of craft and got really good at it. Then I moved, and my finished projects were ruined during the move.
    All totaled, it was probably several hundred hours of work. Gone.

    Now when I think about trying the craftwork again, I can’t get over the idea that there’s no point. It will just get ruined again.
    I know in my mind that’s not really true. But I created a body of work that’s now gone and I still feel heartbroken.

    Part of me would like to try again and part of me keeps insisting there’s no point. Can anyone suggest a way to restart something that I loved doing but became painful to think about resuming?

    1. Still*

      I’m sorry all of your projects got ruined!

      That being said, were you crafting only to get to the final product? Crafting can be fun, meditative, a creative outlet, a place where you can focus and work with your hands, and see yourself getting better at something. Your projects are lost but all those hundreds of hours of work haven’t been wasted – they were enjoyable for you, and they helped you get really good at something. It’s okay to be heartbroken about the ruined projects and at the same time acknowledge that the end result wasn’t the only thing precious and important about your work.

      I think the question might be: do you enjoy crafting enough that it would still be worth it even if you never got to keep the end result? What if you took a photo of everything you make and know that you’re going to remember it, no matter what happens? Hell, what if you made a project and then smashed it to pieces yourself, to show yourself that it’s okay to enjoy the act of creation even when you don’t get to keep the results?

      This might not be helpful at all, just what came to mind when I read your question. I’m really sorry you’ve lost the joy in your craft, I hope you can get it back!

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, what I was thinking is you haven’t lost the skill you learned. I hope you can get the joy back.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I had a similar thought after writing a 100K-plus word book and having to scrap it entirely because the concept was severely flawed (and I didn’t see it until I was finished). It was easy to think of it as a waste of time and work for something that turned out to be useless.

        But I had a grad school instructor who told me no time spent doing the thing was ever wasted, even if the end result was transitory or non-viable. So what if no one will ever see it? The work showed me I can elevate my skills, and that will stay with me forever regardless.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      What about doing a ritual to grieve what you lost? Honor it. It was a big deal.

      Then I second the other commenter who said to try to do it as an end in itself.

      Other ideas are make a thing as a gift. Make a thing as a donation. Make a thing designed to be used up somehow.

    3. Squidhead*

      I don’t know what type of craft you were doing, but I used to work in performing arts as a technician. Granted, this was paid work but it’s an area that many people also volunteer their time in. Hundreds of hours, all told, for a run of performances that last a few weeks at most. Rehearsals, lines learned, new choreography.
      Scenery constructed and then scrapped. Sounds and lighting equipment moved around each time, solving weird engineering problems, etc all for something that literally won’t exist in a few weeks. That doesn’t mean it didn’t have meaning while it was onstage, though. We did some really powerful plays, funny plays, new works, a few awful plays, etc. We connected with the community, did educational outreach, and most of us enjoyed the cycle of figuring out all the production details of *this* show even though we knew it wouldn’t last. So I don’t know if your craft is something you could re-start in an intentionally transitory way? Make things and give/sell/donate them (you have no idea what will happen to them after they leave your hands, they are your gift into the world). Or (maybe it’s too painful to reflect on) is there an element of “at least X benefit came from my work before it was destroyed”? The benefit could be internal (you enjoyed the creative process) or external (someone else connected with the piece). I know it’s different when you didn’t plan for the work to be destroyed and I’m sorry for that heartache.

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        Same thing with people who do cake decorating and other food arts. I still remember the amazing birthday cake a friend made for her young daughter’s birthday — a beautiful vegetable garden scene, with tiny veggies made with the kind of fondant that’s actually tasty. Many hours of work went into something that got five minutes of admiration before being destroyed. (It was delicious.)

        If you enjoy the process of making, then it wasn’t a waste of time. If you enjoyed looking at or using your finished objects while they existed, then it was worth making them.

        1. Jessica*

          Wait, what??? There’s a kind of fondant that’s actually tasty? Could someone please reveal more about these startling allegations.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I wonder if there’s an adjacent craft that might feel fresh and new and fun to you, without making you feel like you’re right back in the place you were. If you were a great knitter you might also enjoy lace-making or crochet, I mean, or if you loved painting canvasses perhaps you’d enjoy painting ceramics or … I don’t know. Just to get you out of that feeling that your work is doomed.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m going to suggest checking out the work of Andy Goldsworthy, who does art installations designed to be transient.

      There can be satisfaction in creating something beautiful but transient.

      And I’d recommend not starting back on the crafting until you’re in a headspace where that feels like opening out, rather than doing what you think you should do.

    6. AGD*

      This is wrenching, I’m sorry! I wonder whether just deliberately letting some more time pass so you can grieve the loss would help. Grief is weird and unpredictable.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Start with something small, easy and cheerful. I’ve had “this is pointless” phases, and popping out a pretty scarf or a baby blanket gave me an immediate metaphorical biscuit.

      Also, at least at first, try to be mindful of only starting projects that you wouldn’t be crushed if they were lost or destroyed. I personally would rather lose a bunch of small projects than one big one, even if they added up to the same number of hours.

    8. marvin*

      This is more of a logistical answer, but maybe part of the process of getting back into the craft could be to develop some method of archiving your finished projects going forward. You could take a bunch of nice photos and keep them online or in albums, plus add notes or journal entries about them, whatever seems like a good memento of the project. That might give you a sense of closure regardless of what you do with them later. Personally, I don’t have much room for stuff so most of my projects end up getting gifted, and I like to keep photos of them to remember them by.

      On the emotional side, I think it’s okay to take the time to grieve the lost projects. You invested a lot of time and energy into them. But they gave you the skills and knowledge you have now, and they’re still with you in a way. Maybe down the line it would be therapeutic to choose one or two of your favourites and try to create reimagined versions of them, using skills you’ve developed since making them.

    9. Yoli*

      Can you research storage options that would protect/preserve any new crafts you make? That might make you feel more in control of the outcome if/when you start crafting again.

    10. Nihil Scio*

      After decades of sketching and painting as a hobby, I went to Art School. Archiving my ‘good’ work in pictures has helped me to be not-so-precious about my work. It took me years to get to this point but I’m happy with it.

      My friends who were in the ceramics stream learned this quickly and the hard way. They were expected to throw hundreds of pots and destroy all but the two or three best. The process and skills they learned were the result, not the product.

      Perhaps you could get back into your hobby by helping or teaching someone else?

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

      My first piece of advice is to honor this as a real loss that you have a right to take time to grieve. It’s not silly or small, you put an entire chunk of your life and creativity into that work, and the loss of it is meaningful. Give yourself patience and don’t push yourself to just get over it.

      I had a similar thing where I used to love to garden, but then moved into a rental place where I got permission from the landlord to build raised beds in the backyard. I had a bunch of veggie seedlings just starting to come up, only to then come home one day to find out that another tenant had come along and torn everything out to plant a couple big tomato plants of their own. I was heartbroken and couldn’t take joy in gardening again for, honestly, years after. I’ve only just in the past year or so started here and there buying, like, a pepper plant one year, maybe a chive the next… and it’s all been just little things that I can grow in containers, because that feels like less of a big commitment somehow. So basically, I guess I’m saying, put your energy into other creative outlets for a bit. Find something that feeds the same hunger for playing with color/form/functionality/self-expression that your previous hobby did, but operates on a smaller, more playful scale. For me, even curatorial-type activities can satisfy this urge in a way that doesn’t feel as emotionally invested as actually making something. For example, putting together a cute outfit with interesting colors or textures or items I don’t wear often. Or picking a shelf/table to turn into a little corner for arranging a few favorite items in a pleasing way. Or just playing with scraps of paper or fabric or buttons on a flat surface, seeing what catches your eye about certain juxtapositions and taking photos of that for future reference. If it’s not too painful, go visit art exhibits, or take an architecture tour. Try to think of it as a time for just resting and honing your taste, honing your eye. Hopefully eventually inspiration will strike and you won’t be able to sleep because the urge to make what’s in your brain will be so strong. But it’s ok if that takes some time– it’s not unproductive time.

      1. Random Dice*

        Wait so a renter decided to go into someone else’s raised bed, tear out plants, and grow their own?!?!

        What even.

        Did you talk with them about it?

  26. M. from P.*

    Amsterdam trip coming up and I’m looking for advice!

    I am going to spend six days in Amsterdam this July. My hotel is booked but nothing else is planned. I am a low spoons traveller – no issues with mobility but I’m easily overwhelmed by noise and crowds and I melt in the summer heat unless I’m in the shade.
    I’m planning on seeing a lot of paintings (My traveling companion is my nerdy teen nephew who’s into art and museums) but the really big attractions are probably going to be jammed. I love small museums, bookstores, cafes, craft shops, walkable neighborhoods. Not into nightlife.
    Any recommendations for Amsterdam or general advice for traveling with low spoons? What to do in the evenings? I’m thinking of finding a cafe where we can just sit outside with a cup of tea and eat/ read our books for two hours but I’m not sure if it’s realistic given it’s Amsterdam in July.

    1. ecnaseener*

      The good thing about Amsterdam is, the packed touristy area is crammed into just a few blocks around the city center. Literally walk five minutes (or go one or two tram stops) and the crowds are gone. So yes, you should definitely be able to find a quiet pleasant spot in the evenings! (I don’t remember anything specific to recommend unfortunately, I was there several years ago as a student, but the general quiet vibe was my favorite thing about Amsterdam.)

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      I hear there’s a flood in cat sanctuary on one of the canals in Amsterdam. If you and your nephew are into cats, that may be something to check out. Apparently the owner of the houseboat left that houseboat to his cats and became a sanctuary. Not 100% sure on the lore there but if I ever got to Amsterdam, I checked it out.

      1. Silent E*

        I think you are referring to De Poezenboot. The original owner (a woman) died almost 20 years back, but it’s still going strong. I went there! It was very fun to visit with the kitties. They have limited hours: currently it’s Tues, Fri, and Sat between 1PM and 3PM. I’ll post their website in a reply to my own comment.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I don’t know what climate change has done to Amsterdam, but in general I wouldn’t anticipate it being blisteringly hot in the summer. There are a number of nice parks where you could easily sit and read in the shade.

      My advice is to buy your museum tickets in advance – they sell out quickly. The Rijksmuseum is amazing and you can easily spend the whole day there. If you are going to want to eat in their fancy restaurant just offsite, reserve in advance. They will let you leave the museum to go to their restaurant, but not to eat elsewhere. So then your option is the onsite “cafe.” Don’t be intimidated if the entry line seems long – when I was there, it moved very swiftly. The food at the cafe is surprisingly good.

      The trams are super easy. You don’t need a special card to ride them, just tap your credit card upon boarding and again when exiting.

      Definitely try the Indonesian rice table (“rijsttafel”) while you’re there. If you and your nephew want a nice fancy-ish dinner one night, we really enjoyed Marie Amsterdam.

      1. Not A Manager*

        The Hortus Botanicus is a lovely indoor/outdoor botanical garden that started as a medicinal herb repository for apothecaries. We spent several hours there including a nice lunch.

    4. MaxKitty*

      I got a Museumkaart and looked through the list for smaller museums. Among others, there was a historic house that was interesting (Willet-Holthuysen House); Rembrandt’s house; an outpost of the Hermitage museum; and the city history museum. The Museumkaart also covers the big museums like Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh-but since you’re not paying admission for each you could maybe duck in, spend an hour, and not feel overwhelmed.

    5. Tiny clay insects*

      I agree with the other comment above–if you wander just a teeny bit away from the crowds, you’ll find much chiller neighborhoods where you can relax and not get overwhelmed by tourists. So don’t worry.

      One area that’s really cool to explore and definitely not as crowded is Amsterdam Noord. You can take a free ferry from behind Centraal Station over to the north side of town. There’s a lot of cool art and up and coming restaurants and things like that, and it won’t have the hordes of people that Dam Square, for example, will.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      The Straat museum in Amsterdam Noord was one of our favorite places in our recent visit. It is a museum of street art/graffitti and in a huge warehouse so it doesn’t feel crowded. And the art is amazing. We even saw several artists working on murals while there.
      There was a park in the Pjip district that was lovely… can’t remember the name, but finding a park/greenspace might also be a nice low key way to spend your time. When we travel (we have three kids) we always try to find parks where we can sit and have a snack and the kids can run around or take a nap while we sit with a beverage.
      There is also a cafe in the library and the rooftop of the science center (NEMO) was pretty relaxing when we were there.
      You might also consider a day trip to Utrecht or the Hague- those might be less crowded than Amsterdam.
      I did find the constant bike traffic a little stressful, though. And Amsterdam rises late… we were hard pressed to find a place for coffee open before 8am. So if you are a morning person, that might work in your favor for exploring on foot.

    7. marvin*

      I found the Van Loon museum really nice and peaceful–at least when I went (in May), it wasn’t busy at all, and it has a really beautiful back garden that you can just sit and rest in as long as you want. I think they have a small café there as well. The architecture of the house itself was also quite interesting.

      I also enjoyed the canal tour a lot more than I expected. Although it’s touristy, it’s really relaxing to just sit in a boat and glide around for a couple of hours.

      Although it was busy, I didn’t find the Rijksmuseum too overwhelming because it’s such a massive space, everyone was pretty spread out. For me, getting to see the Night Watch in person was worth battling a few crowds for, and I’m also glad I visited Rembrandt’s house, although that was pretty crowded as well. In most museums, I was able to find quiet corners to sit and take a break for a little while.

    8. GlowCloud*

      Rembrandthuis!! It’s where Rembrandt lived and worked. I also really liked the Jewish History Museum.

      I only visited Amsterdam once, with my dad (I was 14). Funny story: My mum was adamant that we were to not go aaaanywhere near the Red Light District. As soon as we arrive, we locate our hotel, drop off our bags and decide to get our bearings a little – the first corner we turned, there were half-clad women in the shop windows. You literally cannot avoid the Red Light District, it takes up about half of the city centre, and it is not a big place.

    9. Laura Petrie*

      When I first visited Amsterdam I was convinced I’d hate it as some of the touristy streets are so crowded. However, like Venice, wander a few blocks and it’s lovely and peaceful. I liked just walking around taking in the architecture. There are some excellent museums and galleries, but definitely check online if you need to book a specific time slot.

      Utrecht is beautiful and easy to get to on the train. The entire country uses the same pre-paid card for public transport. You can buy them from machines at Centraal station and loads of other places.

    10. MayBeOutOfDate*

      It’s been >20 years since my trip to Amsterdam, but some of the things I really enjoyed that may not be top of mind include:

      – the Torture Museum
      – the Science Museum
      – the sculpted gardens behind the Rijksmuseum
      – the Joods Historich museum (Jewish History museum)
      – just walking around by the inner canals and taking the trolley around the city

      My favorite of the art museums was the Rembrandt House followed by the modern art museum (I don’t remember its name but it was right next to the Van Gogh museum on the main museum square). The Rijksmuseum was nice but felt kind of generic to me. The Van Gogh museum was a major disappointment, in part because they treated visitors like they were all about to try to steal the artwork and run so it was hard to enjoy anything.

      The Anne Frank Huis should be visited by everyone and the staff there was fabulous. I was practically in tears when I didn’t get a chance to go through much of the museum after my tour before the place closed (I was really emotional from the tour and didn’t have much of a handle on my reaction). When they realized how disappointed I was, they talked me to me for a few minutes then gave me a pass to come back the next day and spend as much time in the museum as I wanted.

    11. MayBeOutOfDateBut...*

      I posted a long comment with lots of suggestions with context/commentary but it got eaten and I don’t have the energy to recreate the whole thing. Here are a few of the highlights:

      go to: torture museum, science museum, sculptured gardens behind Rijksmuseum.

      Rijksmuseum was nice but felt generic. Rembrandt Museum anc modern art museum were my favorite art museums. Joods Historisch Museum is fantastic and likely to appeal to art folks too. Staff was awful at Van Gogh museum and impeded the experience. Staff was fabulous at Anne Frank Huis and fixed it so I was able to get the full experience when it didn’t look like that was going to happen.

      1. M. from P.*

        Thank you for all the great suggestions! And it looks like your original comment didn’t get eaten after all.

    12. M. from P.*

      Thanks everyone! These are truly great tips! I’m now even more excited than before

    13. Silent E*

      I think you’ve gotten some great suggestions so far. I came back to add some of my own (I lived for years in Amsterdam).
      Since you would like to see art and other popular attractions but do not deal well with crowds (and this summer is predicted to be a busy one) I suggest you skip Utrecht unless there’s something specific there you’d like to see. It’s lovely but a lot like Amsterdam and will be busy. Instead, take a day trip to The Hague (Den Haag). Amsterdam is the capital, but the government is in The Hague. It’s a bit stuffier (not as much of a tourist destination) but has money and the art museums there are fantastic but aren’t as crowded. The Mauritzhuis has paintings from the Golden Age. One less popular but charming amusement is the Museum Panorama Mesdag. Leiden is also a wonderful town for architecture and may not be quite as crowded with tourists.
      Try to visit popular attractions at odd hours. The Anne Frank House is open every day until 10 PM. Take a canal tour (highly recommend) at lunchtime or closer to the dinner hour. Book tickets ahead of time for the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum (highly recommend both; pay for the audio tour at the VG museum!) to avoid having to stand in line.
      Agree with those who have said to get away from the Damrak (main shopping area near the Central Station) to get some quiet. If you do go there for some shopping and need a break, the Hema on the Nieuwendijk has a decent café on the third floor (no terrace, but often not busy outside of meal hours). Neighborhoods like the Jordaan, Amsterdam Noord, neighborhoods around Artis and the Tropenmuseum are quieter. Grab a snack or sandwiches at an Albert Heijn (grocery store) and find a bench near a canal or in a park, or take a tram or the subway to Amstel Station, in the station, then walk to/through Park Frankendael and eat/read there.
      Unfortunately, it can get very hot in the summer (global warming). Ask about cafés with a *terrace* if you want to sit outside (note: coffee shops are for weed). If you would prefer tap water instead of pricier bottled water, ask for a carafe. “Spappel” (half-half mix of Spa bubbly bottled water – usually blue or green – and apple juice) is quite refreshing in the heat; you may need to order a bottle of each and mix your own, but you have a companion to share it with. Fristi is a yogurt drink served chilled.
      Food: do go for a rijsttafel with your nephew! Those usually require a min of 2 people. Kantjil en de Tijger is a great place for that. If you are going to the Anne Frank House, try a Dutch pancake at the Pancake Bakery nearby; savory and sweet are both delicious. Find a neighborhood snack bar (away from the touristy areas) and try Belgian fries with frites saus and other dips, shoarma/shwarma, and a kroket with veal, but skip the burgers. Febo is a popular chain, but the small independent snack bars are often better quality.
      Safety: guard against pickpockets. Be wary if someone offers to help you (without you asking) with a ticket vending machine, especially in busy stations. Especially if you are getting away from the touristy areas, please stay on the sidewalks and do not walk in the bicycle lanes. Cyclists are fast, aggressive, and do not always obey traffic laws (often run red lights).
      I hope you have a fantastic trip!

  27. The Shenanigans*

    I just saw Fast X and I loved it. The Fast Saga is one of my favorite series ever. They are so much FUN, especially on the big screen. I also love the message of the importance of found family. Anyone else seen Fast X? Or something else fun recently?

    1. Snell*

      There was a screening of Suzume near me recently, and since I had been waiting a good long while for it to become available in my area, I hopped on that. Tbh, as soon as the cat told the male lead “You are in the way,” I knew I could watch the rest of the movie just for the cat. Lots of fun, although—granted, I haven’t seen Fast X—I think it might lean a bit more morose than than Fast & Furious generally runs. I was reading about its conception, how the writer/director did not want the memory of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami (and the subsequent disasters thus set off) to be lost or distorted, so he did this to bring awareness of the event to people who are currently teenagers, but who don’t remember this thing that still has impact on so many people (the main character is a teenager who was a very young child at the time of the earthquake, which is part of her backstory, but she was young enough that while she had awareness, she wouldn’t have the foundation to understand what exactly was going on). When I read that, it was one of those moments where I had to count back the years and became markedly aware of the passing of time.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been rewatching dippy monster movies – the trailer for Meg 2 made me want to rewatch the first one, and then I watched Rampage, and then since that was a silly video game movie I followed it up with Battleship. (Which is silly as a movie but I love watching the old vets get their ship ready for one more battle to save the world, and they did manage a fairly clever way to work the premise of the board game into the movie.)

    3. Disabled trans lesbian*

      I saw Dungeons and Dragons: Honor among thieves!

      It was a pretty good movie, doesn’t take itself too seriously and it really captured the vibe from D&D quite well.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        I have heard good things about that movie. I will definitely have to check it out.

      2. Annie Edison*

        Would it be good for someone that doesn’t play D&D? I love the cast and the trailers look fun, but I’ve never really gotten into playing

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It walked a really good line between scratching an itch for people who know D&D and still being very accessible for people who don’t. :)

          1. allathian*

            Yes, I agree. My husband used to play and he was even the DM for one group of friends in his early 20s. He said there were a few Easter eggs for players. I’ve never played, and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything, it was a fun movie.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      These are TV series rather than movies, but very fun:

      Mrs. Davis (Peacock), in which a vigilante nun takes on the AI that controls the world. Eight episodes. Engaging characters and a fun, wacky plot that keeps tossing curveballs at you, interwoven with some serious thoughts about the stories we create to comfort ourselves.

      The Expanse (Amazon), an ensemble story set several hundred years in the future when humanity has spread to Mars, the asteroid belt, and the moons of some of the outer planets. I really love how the hard sf shapes the story–gravity’s presence and absence is something the characters have to always think about. There is no instantaneous communication. The difficulties of living beyond Earth have really shaped the different cultures. I’m in season three and they just revealed a villain’s motivation, and it’s so delightfully petty. Utterly human. Strongly recommend first watching the 10 minute no-spoiler background on the setting and major characters that can be found on YouTube, which makes the first episodes much easier to follow.

    5. PoolLounger*

      Fast X had a very Hereditary-esque scene that had me open-mouthed. Love those movies, but that was the first scene in one I was shocked to see!

      1. The Shenanigans*

        Oh, the toenail painting scene? Yeah… that was hilarious. Wrong, but hilarious.

  28. Anonymous for This*

    I’m seeking an AITA ruling from anyone willing, please. I can’t ask on Reddit because my wife participates there.

    Friday, my wife worked from home and was due to leave at 5 to attend a concert with some friends in a nearby big city. She was going to be out until late.

    On our shared calendar, I had a 2:45-4:45 block of time scheduled for my doctor appointment. I was home Friday too, so I told her goodbye when I left for it. I figured, depending on how long the appointment takes, I might or might not see her before she leaves for the concert.

    The doctor’s staff asked me to silence my phone per their policy. I have a diagnosed condition that causes forgetfulness, so I forgot to un-mute the phone when the appointment ended at 3:45. My mistake for sure and I regret it.

    After the doctor, I thought, my wife’s going to be out until late, I don’t have anywhere else to be, and my mother’s been sick lately, so I’ll go pay her a visit in her assisted living facility. I got there around 4:30 and chatted with Mom for a while. I glanced at my still-muted phone at 5:30 and there were no notifications. I chatted some more.

    I glanced at my phone at 6:30. There were three texts and five calls from my wife, starting at 5:45. She never calls unless it’s an emergency. No voicemail, but the texts were all asking where I was and whether I was ok. “Great, here we go,” I thought.

    I texted my wife that I was fine and just visiting Mom, and I apologized for forgetting to un-mute the phone. She was livid that I didn’t tell her I was going elsewhere and wasn’t answering her calls. Apparently when I didn’t come home before 5, she worried herself into a panic that I was lost somewhere due to my forgetful condition or that I was injured. “I called hospitals looking for you!” she said. She had skipped the concert and was about to go driving around to search for my car on the road somewhere. I apologized and drove home and apologized again, but she remained angry for hours and barely spoke to me.

    I have no history of unfaithfulness or going out drinking or anything like that, so I don’t think she suspected that I was up to something. But I do have a history of not noticing messages on my phone and being slow to respond. I’m just not a phone person.

    I know I was wrong to leave the phone silenced. But was I also wrong not to communicate that I was going out after the doctor, or not to anticipate that she’d worry about me in light of my forgetfulness? I’ll keep apologizing, but I don’t honestly believe I was wrong there. I think she overreacted; going from the first unanswered “are you ok?” text at 5:45 to calling hospitals by 6:30 seems like a wild escalation. She stays out late with friends every few weeks, and I worry about her being safe until I hear her car in the driveway, but I don’t call hospitals or drive around looking for her on the road.

    My judgment has been askew lately (thanks brain disorder), so I need an outside perspective. AITA? I appreciate it.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      NTA.

      It sounds like your wife is taking her anxiety out on you for no good reason, since from what you said it sounds like your forgetfulness is mostly related to your phone, not to the point of putting yourself in danger. If she worries about you being out on your own…well, unless you think it’s justified and appreciate and welcome the support, that’s not healthy. Even if that’s the case, at a minimum I would have expected her to say something like “I know you get distracted easily, so please text me when you get home/I’ll wait until you get home to head out”, so you knew the expectation and you two had a common goal you were both pulling for, rather than both pulling in opposite directions without realizing it, as happened here.

      I always keep my phone silenced, although I keep it on vibrate and wear a smartwatch that I glance at to prioritize whether to check my phone. (That last one might work for you.)

    2. Seahorse*

      For whatever it’s worth, I don’t see a villain in this interaction.

      In a perfect world, sure, you would have turned your notifications back on and texted your wife before visiting your mother. Your wife wouldn’t have immediately gone to worst-case-scenario and cancelled her plans. But neither of you seemed to act maliciously or irresponsibly.

      Forgetting to turn your phone on is a common, minor thing, and it makes sense not to report your plans and movements when you thought your wife was doing her own thing.

      I can also see why your wife worried and reacted dramatically if you have a forgetfulness condition. I get it when worry and stress turns to anger too, even though that’s not a particularly helpful response.

      Her silent treatment after the fact is a lot more concerning than any decisions or missteps either of you made up to that point, IMO.

      1. Observer*

        For whatever it’s worth, I don’t see a villain in this interaction.

        I think that’s true. The framing of all right or all wrong is not really useful.

        and it makes sense not to report your plans and movements when you thought your wife was doing her own thing.

        Kind of. But the thing is that she did have reason to expect to see him before she left. When she didn’t I think it’s not all that surprising that she got worried. If it had been a matter of “I was supposed to go to my mother and went to the movies instead” that would be different.

        Her silent treatment after the fact is a lot more concerning than any decisions or missteps either of you made up to that point, IMO.

        I get that. But on the other hand, the OP’s apologies are making things worse. The OP is making the classic non-apology apology and it has a tendency to make any situation worse.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          But she didn’t have an expectation to see him before she left. OP said the appointment was blocked until 445 and she was leaving at 5 so may not have seen her before she had to leave.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      NTA. I’m forgetful about turning my volume back on, so somebody creating a drama out of me being off grid for only 45 mins would drive me nuts. I’m not saying you can’t adjust the way you do stuff more to her preferences going forward, but I think a reaction of “livid” is a bit much. Unless your condition is really more dangerous than risking missing the odd call, I don’t understand how, knowing you, this panicked her so much (something I would be asking; did she think you got doped up at the doctor’s or something?) Even if you usually get lost, being lost isn’t fatal! Neurotypicals do sometimes act like getting into messes is the worst thing ever, because they have less experience getting out of them. I would set some ground rules you both feel comfortable with, and the rule can’t be “buy a new memory” or “care more”. The rule could be something like; you both text when you go off routine and are going to be somewhere the other person wouldn’t know to find you. Or you put your phone on vibrate instead of mute, with a smart watch to better alert you to stuff (this really works for me, and because it’s tied to my phone it buzzes whenever I leave my phone behind which has stopped me from losing my phone).

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >Neurotypicals do sometimes act like getting into messes is the worst thing ever, because they have less experience getting out of them.

        Standing ovation!!! (Actually, it’s just in my mind.) Thank you so much for saying this! Both people in my household are neurodiverse and part of the struggle is trying to explain our lives to neurotypicals. It’s hard to tell someone “that I just did X which caused Y and Z” if they’re going to immediately say “I don’t understand why you did X. That makes absolutely no sense.”

    4. Gyne*

      You are not the asshole!

      Has your wife shown similar behavior in the past? It’s a little weird, to me, to need that level of check-in from another adult. If you had the appointment on a shared calendar, and the end time was 4:45, I’d chalk the not-being-home-by-5 as “things running long” +/- “travel delay.” That said if your memory issues are a new thing she might not yet know when to worry and when to not worry. Her anger at the you in this situation is kind of unsettling to me.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That said if your memory issues are a new thing she might not yet know when to worry and when to not worry.

        This — I imagined her as frightened, not just angry because you were unavailable. I recommend a conversation about this, particularly since you visited the doctor.

        1. Random Dice*

          And maybe consider sharing with her your phone location.

          Since it’s not just forgetfulness but brain disorder, it sounds like there is a legitimate reason to fear, at some level.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you have no history of being where you shouldn’t be but you are forgetful, why don’t you and your wife turn on the Find My Friend feature on your phones for each other? Then she’d see where you were, assuming your phone is on your person.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, I was going to suggest this if you are both comfortable with it. I, personally, do not the feeling of being tracked but I am friends with a couple that use this feature for each other. It came from similar situations (did not escalate as far as calling hospitals, but a few hours of worry when one partner decides to do a spur-of-the-moment thing with their phone on mute). Find My Friend works well for them because when one person is out and doesn’t answer the “where are you? are you OK?” text, the person at home can quickly check “at assisted living facility, must be visiting Mom. not dead in a ditch, phew.”

      2. Rosyglasses*

        My family and I do this as well – it’s my first go-to before I text my husband for his ETA or what he’s up to since I know he can’t always get to his phone right away (and I hate being tied to mine).

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      NTA: I agree with you that, even with anxiety, calling hospitals after 45 minutes of no reply is bananapants ridiculous escalation. And the subsequent silent treatment is, IMO, patently unacceptable.

      Options for the future:
      Smartwatch to help you notice notifications better.
      If you are both comfortable with it and your phone has it as an option, share locations with each other. I would not do this unilaterally, that’s skeezy and kind of unfair. But my husband and I share our locations on our iPhones through Find Friends, so if he’s out somewhere and not responding, I can take a look and see, oh, ok, his dot is moving down the highway so he’s driving. Cool, he’ll get back to me when he’s out of the car.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My husband is sometimes working late in a part of the building with no reception, and then biking home. After a young relative unexpectedly died I became more anxious about this, since I didn’t know at what point I should reasonably start to worry, and he suggested turning on the location sharing so I could check where he was. It’s been really useful for that, and also for finding each other in places like large soccer complexes.

        On a family trip to a national park we requested that our grown kids turn on theirs so we could find each other, which they did, and then each turned it off as soon as the trip was over, which we expected. They don’t live at home and we’re usually in contact every few days; the expectation of knowing where someone is and when they will be home is different when you live together.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I feel it — we specifically got a home security system with cameras when our last roommate moved out so that if one of us was traveling and one was home alone for a week, then if the one home alone was unreachable the other one could access the system and check in for at least evidence of moving around in the house. So I get the worry. But I still think that jumping straight to calling hospitals, after less than an hour, is excessive and unreasonable.

          1. Observer*

            Except it wasn’t less than an hour – it was less than an hour after the first text, but close to two hours after the OP didn’t show up.

            Clearly she was scared.

    7. fposte*

      I don’t like the AITA framework. It doesn’t leave people with any way to go forward. There’s no official allowable level of worry, and I can guarantee you that an upset and unhappy partner doesn’t magically decide they were wrong if their spouse comes in and says, “Honey, the internet says you were terrible.” In a partnership you’re better off not focusing on exculpation but understanding.

      So how long have you been together? Has there been friction about people being in contact or deviating from plans before? Is your regular practice to be in texting contact? Have you been comfortable with the level anticipated or in practice? Is this level of worry new for her, and have you asked her what she thinks made her so anxious in this instance? If it’s not new for her, is there useful context and is she on her own or with you getting help for it? Are there other things that she was already angry or worried about and this tipped things over the edge?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Sometimes it really isn’t helpful, but sometimes you just need to know if you’re being an arse. I really read this question as the OP simply wanting to know if their forgetfulness was true arseholery or not, as opposed to putting a target on their spouse. When you’ve got a memory with a bunch of black holes in it, you’re used to being an arsehole on occasion because it’s unavoidable. You become marvellous at abject apologies and redirecting your energies to prevent the same mistake happening a lot. Then you have a situation where you’re like “Hey, wait, this wasn’t even that bad…was it?! I checked my phone at least once every hour. Because if that is thoughtlessly bad, and I have to pull on my mental resources to remember to be reachable every minute, then I am toast.” The OP also explained that they don’t trust their own judgement at the moment so asking if they should be owning up to the lapse more than they feel like, makes sense to me.

        1. Observer*

          Sometimes it really isn’t helpful, but sometimes you just need to know if you’re being an arse

          But it doesn’t allow for nuance.

          The OP also explained that they don’t trust their own judgement at the moment so asking if they should be owning up to the lapse more than they feel like, makes sense to me

          Asking was a good move. I just don’t think that YTA / NTA / ESH really covers all of the right answers.

          The people who said to have a conversation are right.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I’m pretty sure the OP has nuance and is capable of having a conversation! Settling internally whether they did something egregious first doesn’t make them a robot.

            1. Observer*

              No one is suggesting that the OP is a robot. The point is that the framing knocks out the nuance. Even in the sense of “Was I right or wrong?” It’s a more complex question and recognizing that it going to be more useful than Yes or no.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t like the AITA framework. It doesn’t leave people with any way to go forward.

        Very good point.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      A technical solution: Turn on location sharing on your phones. Then if you haven’t checked in and are not answering calls, she can see that you are at the assisted living, or still at your doctor’s, or wherever. You can see that she is near the concert hall.

      I think the “asshole” framing is a poor one in this situation–you can be short of an asshole and still screw up. I don’t expect my grown children to tell me where they are going… unless they are home for the weekend, in which case I do expect to know they plan to be back mid-afternoon, and to get some sort of notification if they’re going to be really late, because I will worry. Even if the previous month I don’t even know what country my daughter is in at any given moment–it’s different when she’s home for a week.

      You forgot. This forgetfulness gave her a real scare. You should sincerely apologize, and look for ways to have it not happen again–thus my technical solution. Her staying out late when she told you she would be out late is not at all the same thing as your vanishing when you said you’d be home by 5.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        About the AITA framework: Unhelpful for ongoing close relationships. (Often in examples I will think “minor point, you are not TA; major point, why on earth is this person described as your fiancé/e?”)

        I’m reminded of some musings about Bad Person vs Bad Actions, and that often framing things as “But am I truly a bad person? I don’t think so! So this action must be okay in the larger scheme of things, since I am not really a bad person.” Whereas if you just looked at the action you would be like “Yeah, that would be a bad action and I shouldn’t do it.”

        Ted Lasso has had a number of scenes where someone didn’t mean for their action to negatively impact someone else, but it did, and so when they realize that they apologize. Your action negatively impacted her and you should apologize. Her sometimes going out with friends is not a fair counter to that.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, no one here is being an A, for the record. Your wife was motivated by care and love for you, and you weren’t being deliberately hurtful or evasive. These things happen and now you can make a better plan.

    9. Still*

      Have you ever got lost or injured due to your forgetfulness? It might be worth a conversation about why she immediately went to the worst-case scenario. Does she always worry this much? Is your condition newly diagnosed and she’s stressed because you haven’t figured out a way to handle it yet? Is there something you could do in the future (like a tracking feature that some commenters have mentioned) that would put her mind on ease?

      Skipping the concert and calling hospitals seems like a huge reaction to a grown adult not answering his phone for 45 minutes. If you guys usually like each other and trust each other, and get along well, it’s worth digging into why the situation escalated so quickly.

    10. Not A Manager*

      Okay, there are no assholes here, but this situation is complicated. You allude to a serious impairment that could reasonably cause your partner to be very concerned about you if you unexpectedly vanish. She’s not being overly-anxious or overly-controlling.

      You and she need to sit down, preferably with a third party who is educated about your condition *and* about supporting/caretaking someone with your condition. A medical social worker, a physician’s assistant, a c o u n s e l o r with expertise in your condition, etc. And then you need to come up with SYSTEMIC solutions to whatever is causing ongoing friction between you. Relying on you to anticipate what will worry your wife and head it off is not a solution, nor is relying on your wife to accurately assess whether any particular situation is or is not an emergency.

      Options might be: Location sharing on both phones. Setting a recurring alarm on your phone to text her at certain intervals. Sitting down together every morning, comparing schedules, and deciding how and when to communicate (with alarm reminders). Never silencing your phone, but using a “do not disturb” with an over-ride for her numbers, so she can always reach you.

      I absolutely disagree with people who say that your wife is being unreasonable. You mention a diagnosed condition that causes forgetfulness and also a brain disorder that affects your judgment. I can see how hard you are trying to understand your wife’s experience and to be fair to her, and that’s why you posted on here. Very gently, I think it’s really possible that you are not remembering/experiencing your symptoms in the same way that she is. I suspect that she has some good reason to be concerned when you are unreachable.

      But even if that’s not true – and I hope your condition is mild enough that it isn’t true, and she is just overly anxious – it’s still the case that losing track of you causes her significant anxiety. Finding a way to keep in better touch is a simple way to set her mind at ease.

      1. Aquamarine*

        Very good points. This all needs to be considered in the context of your medical condition.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        100% agree with this. No one here can judge whether your wife was overreacting or not because we don’t know the extent of your brain disorder, and it sounds like you/your wife/both of you also don’t fully understand or at least are not on the same page. Great advice here to get more medical advice and come up with systemic solutions!

    11. Sloanicota*

      hmm, this is a strange one because you did check your phone at 5:30. I realize the notifications were muted (I assume this means it doesn’t ding or buzz) but doesn’t that mean they should show up if you check? So she was in a panic by 5 but hadn’t texted or called by 5:30?

      1. Gyne*

        I also noticed thought that and thought it was weird. I can see at 5 thinking, “oh, spouse will be home soon, I’ll just wait.” And then as the minutes ticked by, worrying more and more. But I also think if I was the wife and was about to leave for a concert, I’d send a text to my partner at 5 saying, “heading out, see you when I get home!” and then would leave.

        1. Green*

          This was my reaction too. It wasn’t specified that LW would actually be home at 5, so it surprises me that she wouldn’t have just gone to the concert anyway.

      2. Observer*

        I realize the notifications were muted (I assume this means it doesn’t ding or buzz) but doesn’t that mean they should show up if you check? So she was in a panic by 5 but hadn’t texted or called by 5:30?

        It depends on the phone and settings. My phone, for instance, is now set on DND such that I don’t even see the notifications on the notification shade. So if I just look at my phone and notification shade, I’m not seeing the 17 messages I have waiting for me (I know that because I have the message programs up in another place.)

    12. Courageous cat*

      NTA, she hugely overreacted. Just because you have a cell phone does not mean you should have to be immediately accessible the second someone summons you. Sounds like she needs some treatment for her anxiety.

      I wouldn’t keep apologizing, that empowers her to feel as though you truly did something wrong. Apologize once for her scaring her, and that’s it.

      1. BadCultureFit*

        But he mentions several times that he has a brain disorder that, from my reading, can cause dangerous situations (and possible has caused dangerous situations in the past). How is being worried when your potentially-in-danger partner goes off the grid a “huge overreaction”???

        1. Gyne*

          Being worried isn’t the overreaction, the ongoing anger & silent treatment at OP for forgetting to turn the phone back on is the overreaction.

    13. Fit Farmer*

      What comes to mind is the letter from May 8th: “This is not normal.” If one of my friends told this story to me, I would be alarmed. Maybe it’s a controlling partner, maybe it’s a serious forgetfulness medical issue that requires a watchful eye, maybe an anxiety disorder ramped things sky high, or something else—but I can’t think of an “everyday” situation that results in this chain of events. What specifically the “outlier” situation is, and/or what expectations and norms may be in place because of it (reasonable or unreasonable), I don’t think we know enough to tell. Even if it’s just that you thought you *wouldn’t* see her again that evening and she thought she *would*, that would ideally be able to be cleared up once you both realize you each had a different understanding of what was going to happen, and you wouldn’t be writing about it here.

      Especially the way you write “‘Great, here we go,’ I thought”, and are so careful to justify your (reasonable, normal) actions, it sounds like this is a part of some larger pattern that you’re trying to avoid setting off—THAT seems like the real issue, and what the underlying cause of it is, and what to do about it, we can’t know here.

    14. Double A*

      You wife escalated way too quickly and is angry out of proportion to what happened.

      Going forward, can you set up your phone so her calls or texts ring through no matter what? So instead of setting your phone on silent, you set it on “Do not disturb” with her as an exception to the DND rule?

      I personally value being able to be off the grid and not feel responsible to respond promptly to anyone even my spouse. However, I also know I have more people relying on me these days so I need to be more prompt and available than my ideal. Although my phone was broken for the past month and I kind of enjoyed leaving the house giving a broad outline of my plans and telling my husband not to worry, I’ll be home for dinner.

    15. Happily Retired*

      No one’s the a-hole. She’s overreacting (out of anxiety) and you’re failing to anticipate that this will be a problem, despite it repeatedly happening (due to your brain condition.)

      — I do this too, unfortunately, as I have a lot of situations where I have to mute (class, church service, choir rehearsal etc.) Maybe the two of you can brainstorm this general issue.

      I agree that the most obvious solution is to put your phone on vibrate. Don’t look at it if it goes off once during an appointment (that’s what irritates people), but explain (or lie) that your wife is out of town and you need to be available. Then if your wife absolutely must contact you for an emergency on HER end (not wondering if you’re having one), she can TEXT twice in a row that the car won’t start or she’s gotten lost, and you can then respond as appropriate text “call you in 5” or whatever.)

      1. Happily Retired*

        I should have added – I put my phone on vibrate, AND I make a calendar entry to remind me to unmute that will vibrate when the time comes.

    16. marvin*

      Without context, that seems like a pretty extreme reaction from your wife, so I’m wondering if there is something else going on here. If you don’t have a sense of what might be behind this (such as a history of sudden medical emergencies or something that’s causing her to be extra anxious at the moment), I would see if you’re able to talk about her perception of what happened once she’s calmed down. I’m assuming that this is outside of the norm of your relationship, but if she’s like this all the time, that would be troubling in a different way.

    17. RagingADHD*

      Forty five minutes.

      You were “missing” for 45 minutes, when the two of you had explicitly discussed that you did not expect to see each other before she left at 5 pm, and she didn’t text you until 5:45. So she had already decided not to leave for the concert *before* she even tried to reach you. That is not rational behavior.

      You were not the asshole, but I’m going with NAH, because it sounds like her anxiety about your health is getting the better of her, so I’m not going to deem her an asshole either.

      But in terms of behavior and choices, your behavior was normal and reasonable as an adult person who was expecting their spouse to be gone for the evening. Her behavior was odd and not reasonable, because apparently her anxiety derailed her plans for the evening and made her respond as if she were the parent of a preteen child rather than the spouse of an adult.

      I’ll also say that it is not fair for her to blame you for her derailment. You didn’t do anything wrong or unreasonable, and it wouldn’t have made any difference if you had taken your phone off mute at 3:45, because you checked it at 5:30 and she didn’t text until later.

      If this is an ongoing issue, it would be good for both of you to do some counseling together to help her adjust to the practical issues of your condition without overreacting or infantilizing you, because that is not good for your marriage long term. Her giving you the silent treatment for hours as punishment (if that’s what was happening) is extremely unhealthy and I hope it does not become a pattern. Marriages that devolve into the silent treatment long term rarely come back from it.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I don’t agree with the 45 minutes time-frame, she was expecting him to be home at/by 4:45 so for her the time he was missing started then. You might be right that she decided not to go to the concert before she texted, though.

        1. RagingADHD*

          She was supposed to leave at 5, and LW said goodbye earlier in the day, specifically because they weren’t sure if they’d physically be able to make it home before 5. There was no mutual understanding that LW would be home at 5 – the opposite.

          LW had no way of knowing she was wondering where they were. So she apparently spent 45 minutes spiraling, before even trying to reach them.

    18. Unkempt Flatware*

      Well, as a woman, I can tell you that if the man in my life treated me this way, I’d be scared and insecure and I’d want out. This is pretty controlling behavior IMO.

    19. kittenmagic*

      NTA. I’m assuming you don’t have a history of wandering off, getting lost and/or getting into dangerous circumstances due to any physical or mental issues and if not, your wife way overreactive. You’re an adult. You should be able to go pop in on your mom or a friend or run an errand (whatever) without checking in, especially since your wife had other plans and wasn’t even going to be home.

      Your wife missed the concert because by her own choice, not because of your actions.

    20. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I am a worrier by nature and have found this Mark Twain quote useful:

      “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

      Please pass along to your wife if you think it would help.

    21. Too*

      As the spouse of someone with depression, anxiety, and a recently diagnosed brain disorder: I have a lot of compassion for both of you, but especially for your wife. I’m guessing that if this has happened before, your take on it is: but this has happened before, I’m actually ok, I apologized, why is she still so upset?

      And her take is: I can’t even. I’m doing everything I can to help my husband, I thought I was going to get a little break and go to this concert, but once again he forgot and I know he can’t help it but goddammit, all the apologizing does not make up for the worry and distress and heartbreak.

      She knows / worries that one day she’ll say, ok, it’s just 45 minutes, he’s just forgotten to check his phone, and that’s the day that it’s not just you forgetting but you in the hospital.

      You are not an asshole here. But you have no perspective on your wife’s position; you are suffering, but so is she. Instead of just apologizing, work towards making the situation more tolerable for your wife.
      Follow the advice of the commenter who suggested the two of you meet with someone on your medical team who can help you work out some solutions.

      Typing this in my spouse’s hospital room …

    22. KR*

      NTA. I think your wife overreacted when you didn’t come home on time, which in itself isn’t an asshole thing to do, but her being angry at you for a prolonged period of time because she chose to stay home from the concert is an asshole thing to do.

    23. Observer*

      I’ll keep apologizing, but I don’t honestly believe I was wrong there.

      Stop apologizing. You’re making things worse. She’s mad because you scared her, and now she’s still mad because you’re essentially telling her “I’m sorry that you over-reacted.” That’s totally not useful, regardless of who is right or wrong here.

      And while I think your wife somewhat over-reacted, I think she has a legitimate issue here. She didn’t escalate from 5:45 – she escalated from 4:45, when you didn’t come home and didn’t let her know where you were.

      That’s worrisome in a way that coming home late, when you know that that’s the schedule. And, in your case, it sounds like she has additional reason to worry.

      TLDR; Yes, you were wrong to not let her know that you weren’t coming home as planned. And I wouldn’t understand why you would NOT expect her to worry, given what you say about your condition. Except that I suppose that your judgement is being very warped by your condition.

    24. Anonymous for This (OP)*

      Excellent advice, all around. Thank you all very much!

      The next day, my wife and I talked and came to an understanding, but she was still mad that she had been through hours of anxiety that she still considers my fault. She expected me home around 3:30-4 regardless of what the calendar said, so when I didn’t show by 5, she was already worried and decided that she couldn’t leave unless she was sure I was safe. I don’t know why she waited until 5:45 to try texting me, but she considers her escalation appropriate. We’ve agreed to disagree.

      Like some of you, I’m more worried about the not talking to me afterwards. It was not punitive, more like waiting until she could speak calmly about it instead of raging at me in the moment. We both do this occasionally, it’s not wise or healthy, and we need some counseling to work on communication.

      My brain diagnosis came last summer. I have not yet gotten lost, but I have been disoriented several times, such as thinking I was driving on a different road than I was. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point, I forget mid-trip where I was going. I don’t worry about getting lost because I can always use my phone’s GPS to get home, but of course that depends on my ability to remember to use it. Years ago, we had to ask police to issue a Silver Alert when a relative with Alzheimer’s drove off, only finding her hours later after she used a debit card to check into a hotel halfway across the state, so I think my wife fears something like this happening to me. Maybe she’s too worried, maybe I’m not worried enough; no one has a crystal ball, including the doctor. My disease is slowly progressive (hooray) so we’ve already talked about some point in the future where she’ll have to drive me everywhere.

      My wife has anxiety about a number of things that have never happened, for instance setting up motion-activated cameras around the outside of the house (I insisted on none inside) to know if someone tries to break in. I’m truly sympathetic, but this is not the first time that her anxiety has resulted in anger directed at me for “causing” it. When writing out the story above, I remembered that I had a fleeting “here we go again” thought when I saw her missed calls, and I connected that to a larger pattern of being blamed for her worries. I decided to leave it in the story and wondered if anyone would pick up on it. That said, I really do want to better understand her concerns and do what I can to nullify them. And I have my own weird hang-ups that mystify her but make sense to me; for instance, I used to work in IT security, so I do things like put my phone away in a drawer before typing any passwords on my desktop computer in possible view of its camera.

      I should not have mentioned AITA. Honestly, I don’t read Reddit and I’m not familiar with how AITA works. I thought it was just like asking “did I really do something wrong here?” which was all I wanted to know, a third perspective in case my was judgment was off. Your answers are all very helpful regardless.

      I’ll definitely share my phone’s location with my wife. Terrific idea! I’ll also start using DND instead of muting the phone. I rarely mute anyway, usually only for rare specific circumstances like seeing a movie in a theater. This instance was a fluke. Also, I’ll just plain work on communicating more, at the risk of over-communicating: Saying I might not get home from the doctor before she leaves for the concert, saying I’m going to see my mother instead of coming straight home, etc. Better just to say it than assume it’s harmless to leave unsaid. These are all simple and I think reasonable steps. Thanks again, everyone!

      1. Qwerty*

        Thank you for the update!

        For the not talking when mad – would you be receptive if your wife said something like “I’m not in a mood to talk” or “I need some alone time” ? Pick a phrase that is obvious to you rather than being a code-word since in the future your brain might not remember the plan. There is a difference between barely speaking to someone because you are angry and need space vs silent treatment. The former is a side effect of processing feelings and not wanting to snap at someone compared to the silent treatment which is about intentional hurting someone by ignoring them. I have people in my life who do both so I’m familiar with how uncomfortable they each are but also very aware of the difference. The problem is that knowing X is being quietly angry makes one want to “fix” it and for X to no longer be angry, which can leave X feeling pestered and actually make cooling off take longer.

        In addition to the counseling for the pair of you, consider also seeking individual counseling. The two of you are going to have very different experiences as this progresses – you need a safe place to handle the progression of your illness without worrying something you say might add to your wife’s anxieties and your wife needs help with being the caretaker. She’ll probably need individual part longer than you, but I think it plays better to say “we need help navigating this” and approach the issue as a team.

      2. Observer*

        I’m glad to hear that you guys are working this through.

        I think that the idea to see a counselor is really good. But also a good conversation with your doctor and possibly a social worker with experience in this kind of stuff. This will help both of you to calibrate your expectations.

        And I have my own weird hang-ups that mystify her but make sense to me; for instance, I used to work in IT security, so I do things like put my phone away in a drawer before typing any passwords on my desktop computer in possible view of its camera.

        This helps to explain why she doesn’t understand your behavior. To her, your behavior seems more paranoid than hers so in her mind, it looks like you just might not *care* about her anxiety, rather than it being over the top on occasion. Especially since if she’s ever asked anyone about this particular measure . . . My primary focus is not security but it’s a big part of my remit and honestly if someone asked me about how to protect their passwords, this would not even be on the list.

        Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that she’s actually right. It’s clear that you DO care about her. But I can see how this would play out for her.

    25. allathian*

      Neither of you is an asshole. Your wife’s reaction’s fueled by her anxiety about your health.

      Her reaction was overblown, yes, but your non-apology isn’t helping. A part of her reaction may be that she’s sorry for missing out on the concert and she’s shifting some of the blame for that on you.

      Because you both seem to be somewhat anxious about each other, perhaps tracking each other’s phones might help.

      Some Android phones also have a function where you can set the phone to unmute itself after a certain amount of time. Check your settings if your phone has this option. If it does, I really recommend using it.

      You have a brain disorder that causes memory issues. This means that you need to find solutions that help you deal with it rather than just using it as an excuse when you forget to unmute your phone. And perhaps make a habit of informing your wife when your plans change. If you had texted your wife when you decided to go and see your mom, she would’ve had no reason to worry.

    26. Dwight Schrute*

      NTA

      I wouldn’t have said anything to my partner if I was expecting him to be gone by the time I got home and I wouldn’t expect him to report to me either.

      I understand that your wife was worried about you but that level of anxiety seems unfair to place squarely on your shoulders for a fairly normal and harmless event. And I’m saying that as someone with pretty bad anxiety who’s been in therapy for years to deal with it.

  29. Sloanicota*

    Is anyone else having trouble rebounding even this long “after” the pandemic? I realized today that I am still sort of waiting for another shoe to drop. Like, another variant could still emerge this Fall and drag us right back into the mire, right?? Or no? It’s kind of like a bad dream when I remember the darkest periods (like they were preparing to convert our ice rink into a morgue, that’s a fact that exists to think about when you’re laughing with friends at a nice dinner!) but it has been over a year now that there’s been relatively few restrictions, so maybe it really is “safe” this time. But there were so many other peaks and lows! I notice that I’m way more hesitant to invest or believe in long term plans – especially travel, and I still overbuy on staples because of a sense they may be completely unavailable with no notice.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I do realize that for people who are immune compromised the pandemic may not feel “over” at all, and they may feel that they were just abandoned to deal with it on their own also :(

      1. Lupus Anonymous*

        Thank you for acknowledging us. Governments, institutions, companies, organizations, even social justice movements (ahem labor) have abandoned us and pretend like we don’t exist and our lives don’t matter. Where is the solidarity with the most vulnerable people? The threat to our existence remains, because despite vaccines and Paxlovid, there are zero COVID preventive protocols anywhere, except in healthcare settings in some places. Evusheld, the monoclonal antibody given prophylactically to the immunocompromised, was de-authorized because COVID kept mutating and it became less and less efficacious. It is upsetting and exhausting to experience this massive abandonment, so thank you for opening this conversation and remembering us.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I was undergoing surprise cancer treatment when the pandemic hit. It sucked. Then my mom had a stroke just as everyone got vaccinated, so my plans of all the things we would do with her in the future came to naught.

      I now tend to pay more for refundable travel reservations, just in case things go sideways. But also to make those plans because “there’s always next year” might not play out.

      I feel like the “everyone stay home for two months” level of pandemic response was a once per century thing. That regardless of the risk of any new pandemic people aren’t going to be willing to do that again only a few years after the last time. Including a lot of people who were strict about staying home, always masked, missed funerals, didn’t celebrate milestones or even get together for dinner, etc for more than a year.

      1. fposte*

        I know I hear that last especially from my UK friends, who were under severe restrictions and longed intensely for family contact only to find that the government were partying down together.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          A psych rule I’ve found to hold true in a lot of contexts is that you can tolerate anything for three months. Longer than that and it’s your life, not a passing period in your life, and the stuff that helps you get through an extreme month doesn’t apply to an ongoing crisis.

          People still did a lot, after that 2-3 months of extreme shutdowns! Avoiding any social contact. My son moved home from college and did his socializing online gaming, rather than seeing other humans. That limited social contact had a huge toll that I think most of us didn’t appreciate going in–but we do now, and that would make any repeats a hard sell.

        2. Pippa K*

          I will never stop being furiously disgusted at the Johnson government for this reason (among others).

        3. Still not picked a username*

          Totally agree with that, UK person, my neighbours lost their Mum/Grandma/Great Grandma in May 2020 and had to choose which of the family could attend her funeral as there was a maximum of 15 spaced out guests allowed to attend. The same day Downing Street was partying. I am still so, so, angry about that in particular as well as how lockdown affected my own life. Never again.

    3. Tiny clay insects*

      Oh yeah it did a number on my (admittedly not fabulous) mental health that isn’t going to go away quickly. I launched a travel company in February of 2020, so in addition to all of the (much bigger, ultimately) worries about health, seeing my family, etc., I also am always waiting for new announcements that will cause my clients to have to cancel all their bookings and upend all my business stuff.

    4. Hanani*

      I still mask in public indoor spaces, and I no longer have any sense of what kind of benchmark would make me feel okay not doing so. Back in 2021 I thought the vaccine would do it, but then half my country (US) didn’t get the vaccine. In 2022 I thought maybe the Omicron vaccine would do it, but same problem. I know people who died of COVID just last year, and a bunch of people who had nasty (though no hospitalization needed, thank goodness) bouts this year. I’ve never gotten it that I know of.

      I’m at the point of being okay masked among a couple friends at home, but once I’m in an indoor group of over 4-5, mask goes on. It’s my choice and I can see the positive results (while also recognizing that masks aren’t perfect and people can get it when masked+vaxxed), but damn, it would be nice to eat inside a restaurant. It would be nice to go to an exercise class. It would be nice to be able to go to a friend’s party and have a drink or just have my whole face showing.

      I do travel, starting about 6 months ago, but it’s still a lot less than pre-pandemic, and of course it’s all masked.

      All that to say – I’m right there with you. For me, the lack of an “end goal” is probably the hardest part. Not being able to trust national health organization recs (about this specifically – I value and trust those expert opinions in other areas) is also pretty rough.

      1. Bluebell*

        I’m right about where you are. Still masking in indoor public spaces. Started traveling but always masked. Will go to small gatherings In friends’ home unmasked, but masked at my first big indoor concert last week. I plan to mask at an indoor wedding and at a large memorial service next month. Still only eating outdoors, but the weather here is fine for that. I have two major health issues, and if I can keep myself healthier without giving up too much, that’s fine with me.

    5. Gyne*

      Definitely still waiting for the other shoe to drop! Although at this point it’s really, what, the 10th shoe? Covid has really upped the amount of shoes able to fall at any given time.

      The other physicians I work with have endless conversations about this. Where we’re at, basically, is that it’s unlikely (but not impossible) there will be another surge that overwhelms hospitals. We probably won’t know covid is “over” until two years or so after it has “ended.” And covid itself will never go away, it has joined the league of perennial respiratory virii. We’ve got better treatments available, although the antivirals don’t work as well on the new variants, our understanding of what supportive care measures are effective has deepened significantly. We also started to see the possible impacts of never getting sick – after two years of masking, flu and rsv came back with a vengeance! And in the medical community we’re starting to ask questions about the larger effect on the immune system if it’s never challenged.

      The general feeling I have is that covid will continue to mutate and will become less virulent over time. At some point we’ll stop testing for it specifically outside of the hospital setting or in specific populations where you need to know if you should start Tamiflu or paxlovid (or whatever the future version of it is). My hope is that the people who became more vigilant about isolating when ill (with any illness) will continue to do so and this will remain a cultural practice. My suspicion is that it will not.

      Do you follow Your Local Epidemiologist? If not, I highly recommend her newsletter.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I live constantly waiting for another shoe to drop. I developed chronic fatigue syndrome when I was 19, and it took about 8 years before I was really recovered. My ex-spouse frequently became life-threateningly ill, and had an uncertain life expectancy (to my knowledge they remain ex, not late). Then there was covid, and now I have a child who has developed an approximately six-monthly habit of vomiting so much he is hospitalised. At this point I just assume there’s a shoe shop raining above me. It would be nice not to feel that way but I genuinely don’t know what that would look like.

        I’ve arranged life to take account of the intermittent shoefalls, so I work for myself and plan to home educate, moved to live nearer family, and build in plenty of flexibility and downtime to any plans or schedules.

        But yes, covid did fundamentally shift something for me because it showed how pointless it is to try and live a life that doesn’t suit you. Instead of batting the shoes away, I now await them with carefully positioned baskets.

        1. BubbleTea*

          Not that it matters a great deal, but I meant six weekly, re: child and hospital. Six monthly would be more manageable!

    6. Courageous cat*

      No, I’ve long resumed with life as before.

      I think, even were there extremely good cause for another COVID-related lockdown/shutdown of resources/etc, we’d be unlikely to see another one in our lifetimes, as I think the last one totally burned out a majority of society. Not saying that’s a good idea to do one/not do one either way, but I think that’s the reality of its likeliness. I think the only way we’d see another lockdown is with a significantly more fatal/dangerous pandemic of some kind.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. We’re still evaluating the long-term consequences of social isolation, especially for young people who missed out on once in a lifetime milestones. Some kids did far better in remote school than others, and the mental health of a whole generation took a nosedive during the extended social isolation. Some kids no doubt benefited and thrived, but the majority didn’t.

        My sister is still masking in public, but she’s one of the very few people I know who is, but even she’s comfortable eating with us, she just puts her mask back on afterwards. My parents are almost 80 but they don’t have any risk factors apart from age and they’re fully vaxxed and have managed to avoid getting Covid so far. My MIL and her husband AFAIK still mask when they go shopping, but they’re comfortable eating indoors with family. We’re much more careful about not meeting up if we have any sort of respiratory symptoms than we were before the pandemic, though.

    7. Girasol*

      My husband died of cancer recently. We’d been super careful with covid since he was immune compromised. For me it just seemed wrong to walk out of the hospital, whip off the mask, and shout, “I’m free!!” even though I’m just about the last person in town wearing one. Sometimes I don’t wear a mask in places where I used to. But if I feel creeped out going into the grocery maskless, it isn’t hurting anyone if I put one on. I also keep my pantry extra-well stocked even though I probably don’t need to, and my vacation plans this year are mostly open air camping. I’m tapering off covid precautions more slowly than most folks but I don’t care what anyone thinks of it. Covid is still out there, developing (so far) into less serious variants, so the longer I can stave it off the more likely that it won’t be a big deal when I get it. That’s my take.

    8. Qwerty*

      Yes, so much! I have very little interest in traveling, when pre-pandemic I had a bunch of places in Europe that I wanted to visit. Planes just feel like germ incubators now (they always were and I’d get sick on every trip, but I’m just hyper aware now)

      I think part of it is the original mindset was “we’re going to lock down until the virus burns out and then we’ll go back to normal” rather than realizing normal had been forever changed. I think we’ve also realized how fast life can change and that will stick with us for a while.

      I don’t think we’re going to see major restrictions again, but I do believe every fall/winter we’ll collectively be more cautious than in summer months. Which honestly we should have been doing for normal flus and colds, it baffles my mind how people used to walk around sick saying it was “just” a cold. As someone who catches every darn thing, I will happily wear my masks every flu season and love that friends/coworkers are more likely to keep their distance if they might be contagious. Not just if they have symptoms – its normal for someone to say “was at wedding/concert/packed event, going to isolate for a few days just in case”

      1. Jay B*

        Normal has basically changed for you. Not for everyone else. You do you, but in case you hadn’t noticed travel numbers now exceed where they were pre-pandemic.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          It’s not just about travel numbers though. Normal has changed because there is another illness out there now that can cause death or long-term health problems. When we talk about “normal” changing, we are usually not talking about laws or people being anxious but rather about the fact that there is now a chance of contracting covid and possibly developing long covid or passing it on to somebody who develops long covid or who dies of it.

          So yeah, to some extent, “normal” has changed for everybody because there is nobody who can say with certainty that “neither I nor anybody I care about will become seriously ill from covid” and the fact that that is a possibility is a significant change.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’m not convinced it’s over (and worry that if/when there’s another surge, nobody will tell us, because they’re not even collecting the data).

      So far, I’m making plans that are consistent with that, which mostly means either they can be outdoors, or they work with masks on. So, if someone wants to meet for dinner, we find a patio or a roof garden.

      This is limiting, definitely, but my medical situation means that I can’t rely on the vaccines, and the possible outcomes of a(nother) case of covid are also bad.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I have rebounded in terms of not worrying about things and being willing to go do stuff, but I have not fully reconnected or rebuilt the social habits and infrastructure that our family used to have. And that disconnectedness has made it very hard to set goals and make plans.

      First, everything shut down or got cancelled for a long time. Then the kids got older, moved up to different phases of their schooling, changed extracurriculars and changed friends. Some of our closest adult friends moved away, some have ailing parents, and others have also re-adjusted their kid activities.

      So the old patterns don’t exist, and I can’t get everything re-started by myself. On top of that, my work is drying up and I’m job hunting, so that’s a big question mark in terms of family finances, schedule, commuting, etc, that interferes with long-term, big picture planning.

      Baby steps, though. I re-joined the church choir and a local book club. I have spent my downtime from work deep cleaning and decluttering the house so it’s more conducive to invite people over. And we’re getting together with family we haven’t seen in a while this weekend, which is going to be fun.

      I feel like I’m coming out of a long tunnel, but I’m not quite out yet. And that’s kind of depressing because sometimes it seems like everyone else around me made it out a long while ago. But when I talk about it to people, they tend to agree with me, so that makes me feel less wierd about it.

    11. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      The attitude of people towards the disabled has changed me forever. The ‘ if you wear a mask COVID thinks you’re a pussy’ op ed’s have changed me too. I may never feel safe again. also we’re in a much worse position now that public health laws are weakened so if anything else happens we’re toast.

      I have a few lingering issues such as inflammation and asthma so my body isn’t unscathed either

    12. beep beep*

      Oh, absolutely. I’m a young, fairly healthy person, and I am still very, very aware of what long COVID could do to me. I’ve been traveling some, but I always pay the fee for refundable flights and such, and I’m very gunshy of eating indoors. There’s a little public seating area a few blocks away from my workplace now that they’re seriously cracking down on people not coming in (which is a whole other issue, but I digress). Anyway. I’m helping keep cheap KN95 mask makers in business, I guess.

    13. CovidIsntOver*

      I found this depressing. There are still plenty of people still in the pandemic and unable to return to anything approaching normal yet. There are still lots of people getting sick. Lots of people dying. Lots of people who can’t be indoors with strangers.

      As someone in the last category who still has severe restrictions, it’s almost soul crushing to hear so many people talk like everything is back to normal in the world. There are plenty of people for whom that most assuredly is not the case – and part of the reason is how everyone else has decided they’re done with it.

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

      Oh, absolutely!

      My work makes me be in rooms full of the unmasked and coughing, sometimes with terrible ventilation. I hate it. I try not to hate my students and co-workers for it, but their lack of care is very wearing.

      I haven’t eaten inside a restaurant since early 2020. I eat alone in my apartment, my office, or my car, and that’s about it.

      I am furious that the CDC did not authorize another bivalent booster for my age group, so I feel very unsafe around others right now. I’m also furious that health-care facilities have dropped masking requirements. Really?!

      And I wonder whether there will ever be a vaccine that is good enough that I can feel okay unmasking. I hope so — they’re working on developing one. But meanwhile, this has played havoc on my in-person relationships. If someone isn’t willing to take a walk outside, then we’re just gonna have to communicate by phone/zoom, and that’s that.

      Hang in there — perhaps in a few years, things will be really, truly better. But I can relate to not having much of an impulse to plan anything. I have a bunch of “maybe someday” items on my list of things I’d like to do, but no timeline for when I’ll feel safe enough to do them.

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

        And just a shout out to everyone here — thank you for being a great commentariat! The AAM Weekend threads are something I occasionally looked at but never participated in before COVID, but you’re now part of my self-care in our current reality.

    15. Random Dice*

      A lot of us have pandemic PTSD. I had to get formal PTSD therapy, which helped a lot. (Especially EMDR.) Might be worth considering.

  30. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    You know the pronoun fields on increasingly many sites, and in people’s signatures? Is there a widely understood convention for “I don’t care what pronouns you use for me?” If I put “any”, will that be clear, or confusing?

    I’m thinking especially of sites where that field is automatically populated in your display name, so when you chat/post it says, for example, “Theon she/her” or “Theon he/him”. For sites that add parentheses, “Theon (any)” might be okay, but “Theon any” will probably be confusing, unless that’s a well-understood convention.

    I’ve seen the format “she/they”, but “he/she/they” gets a bit unwieldy, and then I have to pick an order.

    So far I’ve been leaving mine blank, and that’s fine, but if there is a well-known convention, I would like to know.

    1. CityMouse*

      So you could leave it blank, but understand that you could be grouped with people who are anti pronoun identification so it will result in people just applying whatever pronouns they think match your name. So while unwieldy they/he/she is probably the best way to convey what you’re trying to get at. It is, of course 100% your call.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        I’m fine with people applying whatever pronouns they think match my name, that’s what most people do. But I’ve never asked anyone to use a specific pronoun, nor do I plan to, so if someone wanted to use a pronoun that didn’t match my name, I wouldn’t care. And I’m just looking for a way to convey that, because people are getting increasingly stressed about getting other people’s pronouns right. (The number of times I’ve been told, “No, but you must have a preference! Tell me so I can respect it!”)

        I’m liking “any/all”, suggested below.

    2. BookMom*

      I’ve seen (any/all), which also flows nicely in verbal intros. “My name is Sam. I use any and all pronouns.”

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Ooh, I like that! It makes it more obvious it’s a pronoun identification, since it follows the same format.

    3. A simple solution*

      I don’t think everyone should be forced to specify pronouns. If my appearance is obviously male or female and I don’t specify pronouns, everyone should be comfortable assuming I am what I look like. I think the onus is on those who want different pronouns to specify them.

      1. Sure, let's be rude*

        I guess I think it’s nice that as a 6’4″ cis woman with short hair and enormous honkers that are right at eye level for most people but ignored, as well a typically-male spelling of my name, it’s nice to call attention to the fact that I do not use male pronouns. Because I can literally wear a dress and be called sir. Sorry you’re uncomfortable with minimal effort to increase others’ comfort.

      2. delaware*

        The concept is, though, is that if everyone gets on board with announcing pronouns then it normalizes people who need to correct people’s pronoun-ed assumptions about them. There are complications and some queer pushback to this idea, but I don’t think “everyone should just go back to making assumptions about strangers, because that works out for me” is a great strategy.

      3. marvin*

        What is “obvious,” though? Many trans people go to a lot of trouble with our appearance and it still doesn’t read as “obvious” to cis people. So once again the onus is on trans people to try to conform to a society that doesn’t accept us.

        1. Ochre*

          Yeah, I’m cis female but the only gender I “obviously” resemble is a 1990’s post-grunge kid (men’s jeans, flannel shirt, t-shirt) which gets me called “sir”. If you think makeup and coiffed hair are “obviously” female or whatever, then I don’t fit the mold. And looking at my female co-workers, I see everything from full contour makeup to no makeup to ombre hair to hijab-wearers to fitted clothes to baggy clothes to sports bras to pushup bras etc… Each person probably thinks they “obviously” look like themself, but gender presentation and perception are multifactorial! I don’t think anyone should be forced to declare their pronouns, but I also don’t think it’s as simple as “only the outliers need to do this and everyone else is assumed to be the default” because there’s not a shared definition of the default.

          1. A simple solution*

            In other words, your appearance is not obviously female. So if you are frequently called the wrong gender and it bothers you, you can specify pronouns to fix it.

            1. Ochre*

              No, my point is that there is no one definition of any gender. Being called sir doesn’t bother me but it bothers Sure… and marvin and it reveals a lot about how our assumptions are flawed. You think there is a default “female” appearance that is self-evident. I’m saying there isn’t, using my own self as an example and also looking at the broad spectrum of female people in my life who come from different races, classes, religions, countries, and generations and don’t look the same. When we start assuming there’s only one way to be [whatever] it’s often a sign of our own privilege and biases.

      4. BubbleTea*

        The issue with this is the idea that there’s any sort of appearance that is “obviously male or female”. You’re going to be wrong a good 5-10% of the time if you assume you can tell someone’s gender by looking.

      5. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

        I am in alignment with an obvious cis name and appearance, so I don’t “need” to include pronouns, but I do to make it less of a big deal for others who need/want them.

    4. Still*

      If the website doesn’t add parenthesis, could you add your own? Literally write “(any/all)”.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I mean, I say this as someone who is also not super keen on nametag pronouns myself because they can feel a bit performative to me, but, what is the reason you don’t want to just put the default pronoun that matches your gender presentation? Because if it’s that you truly don’t identify fully with those pronouns, I am sympathetic … but if you’re selecting “any” to make a point about your wider beliefs about trans identity, then I’m not sure I have any productive support to offer.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        It’s because I do not have a gender and do not want one. So I don’t mind if people call me the pronoun that matches my name and that people have been using my whole life, but if I put just that pronoun, then I’m instructing people that I am female! specifically! and exclusively! And I’m extremely not, and I hate being forced into a female-only category like it’s supposed to fit me better than anything else. A few people, since finding out I’m gender-neutral, have spontaneously used “they”, and that’s fine.

        But if I put “they”, it’s like I’m saying “You can’t use ‘she’, and you should correct yourself if you slip.” Which is how the other gender-neutral people at my company mean it, and that’s not the case either. Use “she” if that’s what’s easiest and allows you to focus on what’s important to me, namely work. Using “she” without thinking about it, just as a filler word to advance the sentence along, feels much less gender-focused to my gender-neutral self than thinking constantly about how you can’t use “she”, even when we’re talking about something other than gender (which is 99.9999% of the time).

        And if I put “she/they”, it’s like saying “but not ‘he’!”, which…the only reason not to use ‘he’ is that no one ever has, because I was AFAB, and if you’re in a group of people who know me as “she” or “they”, it might get confusing to other people…but as long as it’s not confusing, I don’t care. Like if I’m on AAM and the only name anyone knows me by is a complete sentence that happens to contain a male name in it, and that makes everyone think of me as “he”, I’m fine with that!

        A point about wider beliefs about trans identity…sort of? If society has chosen to make pronouns the hill on which we want to die, I will respect other people’s pronouns, because the alternative is aligning with transphobes and constantly reminding people that their rights are being voted away and that they are at risk of being victims of hate crimes, and I def don’t want that. But *for myself*, the insistence that everyone has to have a gender identity, and even being gender-neutral is supposed to be such a part of your identity that you want everyone to constantly get it right, 3 times per sentence when talking about something unrelated, is forcing me into a box that I don’t fit every bit as much as assigning me female is. Gender or lack thereof is no more a part of my identity than pet ownership is, and you don’t have to keep track of whether I have a dog or a cat or both or neither, in every sentence about me.

        (I feel the same way about the fact that I’m supposed to have a sexual “orientation”, even if it’s asexual, and I just don’t. Sex is a hobby to me, not an orientation or an identity, and to me it’s not even one of the more important hobbies. *And*, I don’t feel like I have anything in common with anyone else on the basis of my sexual preferences or lack thereof, any more than I do my gender or lack thereof.)

        Boxes: I do not fit them.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I appreciate the clarifications: any pronoun is okay, none of them are correct, and you don’t want to define a pronoun for yourself at this time.

          Saying “any/all” is accurate. But in writing, due to the similar construction to “she/they”, a conscientious person may think this means that “any” and “all” are your neo-pronouns. An alternative is to use one of them: Theon (any) or Theon (all pronouns).

          When it comes to display names the best solution may be to leave it blank. No one should be required to disclose pronouns. And if it did come up then you have a conversational opportunity to say “Oh, any and all pronouns work for me”.

        2. GlowCloud*

          This is a perspective I’ve been turning over in my mind for a little while – I’ve been “she” all my life, and don’t mind it, but wouldn’t be offended by “he”, and would perhaps prefer “they”, but then I don’t want to feel like I have to perform a particular gender to go along with that designation, or change my appearance in any significant way – because I don’t consider gender to have any use to me and would rather just opt out of the entire construct.

          Mainly, I just don’t want people to treat me differently because of whatever a particular gender paradigm means *to them*. I may appear feminine (or be read that way), but everybody treats me like a woman in accordance with their own understanding of what a woman is. Nobody treats me in the way that *I* think is in accordance with what being a woman means.

          Gender is really bizarre to me.

        3. Hexagonal colours*

          What you’ve typed here sounds like you might relate to the concept of agender.

          I really wanted to have a second sentence here, but apparently my brain is done for the day. So I will just wish you a good day.

        4. NotJings*

          I don’t think I have any useful advice, but this comment resonated so deeply with me, I think if anyone looked at me right now they’d see hearts in my eyes.

          I’ve never been eloquent enough to feel that I can adequately convey: “I don’t care about my pronouns, and I really wish other people would stop caring about my pronouns; but I do want to be supportive towards everyone who does care about pronouns”. Kicking up such a fuss over pronoun usage feels like the exact opposite of being supportive, which I want to avoid when “I don’t care” is such a privileged position (people who can afford to not care about an issue being the ones who aren’t harmed by it).

          I don’t consider myself to have a gender; in an ideal world I would prefer not to use any gendered pronouns, nor any carefully-non-gendered pronouns, but it’s such a minor, tiny, miniscule preference that I don’t attach any importance to it either. They, She, He, It – use any or all interchangeably, I won’t feel that any of them are “wrong” when applied to me. (I dislike ‘Zie’, but that is 100% based on the sound it makes – there’s always a moment of thinking that someone has launched into an impersonation of a bee.)

          People will say – and have said! – “Well if you don’t care so much, then just pick one! Make everyone’s life easier” – but I don’t want to pick one over the others. It’s committing to something I don’t believe in. It’s inaccurate! (and I’ve always been pedantic.) While none feel “wrong”, none are “right” either, and I absolutely do not want to claim any of them.

          It would be great to not use ANY pronouns! A pronoun is a substitute for a noun (proper noun, in this instance); can’t you just… abandon the substitute and use my name? I tried modelling this to family with a toy sheep who lives in the front room: “Jings asks you not to spray air freshener so close to Jings. Jings’ wool will smell for days and Jings does not want those chemicals adhering to Jings.” Cue complaints that this is too difficult, sounds unnatural – well, it’d become easier and start sounding natural soon enough if you got into the habit of doing it! Or pretentious (like “the royal we”, I guess?). Of course Jings is blessed with a short name; those with extra syllables/letters would also be asking for extra effort…

          I also dislike identifying myself as “agender”, even though that’s technically the flag I fall under – something I only know because of other people pushing to find out what they can correctly label me as. “Agender” covers a vast territory, of which I occupy a small corner; upon hearing it many will make wrong assumptions (the assumption that I have strong preferences about expressing my gender identity, for starters). Plus “gender” is right there taking up 2/3 (of the pronunciation) or 6/7 (of the letters) of the space, which still makes it feel like the gender denomination I Do Not Want. I’d prefer to identify as “human”, or “whatever”, or… well, the list of alternatives I’d prefer is long and varied.

          (Now feeling the irony that I’ve typed so much on a subject I keep saying I don’t care about…! Obviously I need a better phrase than “don’t care”; at least I’ve proved my lack of eloquence!?)

          TL;DR I have not found a good solution for this quandary, but I wish you luck!

          1. Random Dice*

            I love this thread, and the eloquence on this topic. It’s expanding my world view, and I appreciate understanding better how folks think.

          2. Gyne*

            NotJings, this thread is the first time I feel like I’ve found other people who feel like I do! So many hearts!!!!! I also don’t feel like I have a “gender” but really don’t identify with the idea of being “agender.” Thank you for posting.

          3. Lucky Meas*

            I’ve heard “graygender” or something similar as a term for “I don’t care about gender” vs. “agender” signifying “I care that I don’t have a gender”. Still has the word “gender” in it but maybe that label helps you find like-minded people!

    6. marvin*

      What I see most often is just “(any pronouns)” which seems clear to me. I actually might switch to “(they pronouns)” for myself instead of “(they/them)” because I find the old slash convention a little weird now that we’re all a bit more used to self-identifying pronouns, except in cases where people mix pronoun sets.

    7. MEH Squared*

      I struggle with this because I don’t have an affinity for a gender (except NOT being a ‘he’), and I would prefer no pronouns for myself. But I understand that if I choose not to use pronouns, then I risk being lumped in with anti-trans assholes.

      I go by agender for myself at the moment, but that might change at some point. I don’t call myself any gender, but I accept that most people are going to call me ‘she’ based on my looks. As I said elsewhere, it’s like an ill-fitting coat. It covers me, but it’s not comfortable.

      I would probably write in no pronouns if given the choice.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Er, I mean write in “no pronouns” (literally) not that I would not write in any pronouns at all.

      2. just another queer reader*

        For what it’s worth, I’ve seen people say “name only” or “no pronouns.”

        1. MEH Squared*

          I like ‘name only’ as an option–don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that I could write that in. Thank you!

    8. Mstr*

      Would an option no one’s mentioned yet be “she/he/they”? It kind of fits the format of listing all your pronouns/would look correct to my eye (as someone who admittedly doesn’t know much about this).

      1. Filosofickle*

        Theon mentioned not liking this option in their question — it’s clunky and requires choosing an order of preference (something has to be listed first!) that doesn’t feel right.

    9. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Removed because this is the non-work thread (but the work one is still open; not sure why you’re seeing it as closed!).

      1. anonymous nb*

        Yeah I’m essentially nonbinary but don’t like labels. I could say she/her since I’m AFAB and I don’t care if people call me that, because it’s what I’m conditioned to, but then I’m *actively* endorsing the gender binary, which I’m not.

        I’m not a fan of labels or putting people ok boxes, it’s not safe for me to be “out” everywhere, and it’s not a conversation I want to have with strangers.

        I did talk to a person who does DEI work as their job and they consider leaving pronouns blank to be optional fwiw.

        I could do the name thing but I’m not a huge fan of my given name, either. I also don’t like how it sounds awkward and repetitive when you keep saying the name and can’t vary it, like in writing. I might change my name someday. I haven’t found one I really love yet though.

        I’ve tried saying I’m “gender agnostic but she/her is fine” in a few smaller groups which works but not something I want put in writing. Ugh.

  31. Oh was I thirsty*

    I plan to get another Covid booster shortly. If it’s like all the previous ones, I’ll be pretty sick (flu-ish) for 2.5 days, then I’ll be weak for a few days, then I’ll be over it. My question is, what’s the best liquid to drink to stay hydrated and in balance for those 2.5 days when I won’t be interested in solid food? Water isn’t sufficient, I have found. Gatorade? Pedialyte? Something else?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I would stock up on Gatorade and also (if you’re up for it) plan on one smoothie or milkshake per day so you’re getting something more than just liquid. Don’t know if you can make smoothies/milkshakes ahead of time and keep them for 1-3 days or if there’s a place near you that might deliver drinks, but those could be options that are better than blending a drink when you’re sick.

      1. Clisby*

        Second this, although I prefer the mocha flavor. I get the max protein one (30g protein).

    2. Not A Manager*

      I love the user name for this post.

      Gatorade or pedialyte should do it. If you want to make your own solution, add some citrus juice, a little sugar or maple syrup, and a medium pinch of salt to your water. If you’re getting fancy, add a pinch of an otc potassium tablet, or be sure that you eat part of a banana at intervals during the day.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      If you’re not vegetarian, bone broth! Husband got it for me while I had a severe bout of “going to cough all day every day” and it’s delicious. It also has a little fat and protein so it’ll give you a few more nutrients.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Bone broth is best, but any kind of chicken or beef broth would also be a good option (maybe not as good as bone broth), or really most soups would be very good.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I hate the taste of Gatorade, Powerade and that sort of stuff, but I do like the taste of Bodyarmor sports drinks. They don’t have as much sodium but a bit more of the other electrolytes. No idea if they are better at the hydration part.

      I also recommend mini ice cream bars-a good bit of calories without much commitment.

    5. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      There is a delicious Jamaican drink called peanut punch which is basically peanut butter, milk, and sugar. In my small Canadian town I can find it in juice boxes at the grocery store, but it is also pretty simple to whip up an ersatz version if you have a blender, and you could sub in non-dairy and/or non-peanut options. One cup has 240 calories so it’s a substantial drink.

    6. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      There is a tasty Jamaican drink called peanut punch that is basically peanut butter, milk, sugar, and vanilla. In my small Canadian town you can find it at the grocery store but it is also easy to whip up an ersatz version if you have a blender. You can also sub in non-dairy and non-peanut options if you like. It has about 200 calories per cup so is a fairly substantial drink if you can have solid food.

    7. Indolent Libertine*

      Orgain protein drinks, Emergen-C or Liquid IV packets, broth. I hate Gatorade but find Pedialyte tolerable. Ginger ale.

    8. Rage*

      I generally don’t like protein or meal-replacement shakes because of their chalky texture (and the fact that I’m hungry again in 2 hours), but I’m absolutely in LOVE with the Atkins shakes. They are so smooth and creamy. 200 calories each and they keep me full for 4 hours. My favorite flavor is the Dark Chocolate Royal but they have a vanilla that you could pretty much dress up however you want it.

      I’ve never tried blending them with ice to make more of an milkshake-style drink, but I bet you could. That would then get you more water as well.

      As for the boosters – I had the same reactions to the boosters, and I was especially worried about the last one I got (since I’d had COVID 4 months previous); but that one didn’t knock me down nearly as bad as the first ones. I was pleasantly surprised (and also annoyed since I’d delayed it by a full month until I could have a free weekend to recover)!

    9. jasmine tea*

      I live on Swanson low-sodium boxed chicken broth when I’m flu-ish, including after boosters.

    10. Alex*

      This is of course anecdotal, but for each of my covid shots, I chugged a bottle of coconut water both before and after the shot. I didn’t get sick or have any ill effects at all besides a little bit of a sore arm.

    11. Squeakrad*

      My DH swears by coconut water, but I can’t stand it. But it definitely helped him after all of our vaccines

    12. KR*

      Chicken noodle soup is an option. It’s the best of both worlds – a solid and a liquid

    13. Lady Danbury*

      Coconut water is my go to in those types of situations. It was the only thing I could have when I got norovirus a few years back.

    14. Random Dice*

      I like LMNT “watermelon salt” flavor. I use half a packet per big water bottle.

    15. Oh was I thirsty*

      Thank you all for these great suggestions. I went to the supermarket and got Pedialyte, Adkins shakes, and Swanson chicken broth. Oh yes, and a pint of Haagen-Dazs to improve morale. Hopefully those will get me through a couple of bad post-shot days if that’s what happens again this time. Fingers and toes crossed!

  32. PhyllisB*

    Okay, this is just a random question, but let’s see if anyone knows the answer. I came across the phrase “It’s like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs.” What in the world does this mean? I assume it’s an old Southern expression so I asked my 92 year old mother. She didn’t know, either. Does anyone have a clue where this came from?

    1. fposte*

      Origins on this one aren’t clear, but it’s been around since at least the eighteenth century and possibly the late 17th. It’s one of those phrases that elicits a lot of speculation: Is it a mutation from talking about some other housewifely art? Does it mean Granny didn’t have teeth and had to consume eggs that way? Does it refers to Granny’s knowledge that you need two pinholes to suck out the contents of an egg? None of those speculations seem particularly incontrovertible, though, so I think we just don’t know. I’ll post a good stackexchange discussion in followup.

        1. Girasol*

          I love the variations offered in this article. Teaching one’s father to get children is a great metaphor, as is teaching one’s grandmother to spin. She obviously knows how to suck eggs too, though I don’t know why she does it. She hasn’t any teeth? She’s doing pysanky and would rather drink the egg than waste it? But my favorite here is that one must not teach one’s grandmother to grope ducks. Why would she…no, no, I don’t want to know.

          1. fposte*

            And presumably we’re all groping ducks, hence our having the knowledge we’re trying to pass to Grandma who knew it first. It’s a rough place for ducks, that’s for sure.

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              Maybe they are evaluating the poultry for quality? I have copies of some early American cookbooks and several of them start the poultry section by telling you how to check if you are being sold young, tender poultry or being cheated with old tough birds. Some of the test are whether the bottom of the breast bone is soft or if the cavity under the wings is tender.

          2. PhyllisB*

            There was a movie in the 70’s starring Raquel Welch and Michael York where the opening scene was her had been telling him how to check if a goose was fresh, and I believe it involved putting his hand up in the cavity. It was implied, but still…yuck.

        2. PhyllisB*

          I knew ( sort of) that it meant the equivalent of don’t try to explain or teach something to someone who’s been doing it for years. Like trying to show Paul McCartney how to tune a guitar. It’s just such an odd expression to me and when I saw it again I decided to throw it out there to see if anyone knew. Thank you.

      1. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

        I always imagine Granny as a weasel, do it’s a double insult.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I read about dogs “sucking eggs” in an old children’s book (as a reason not to have a dog on a farm – they chase the livestock and suck eggs). When I heard “don’t teach your grandma how to suck eggs” I thought that it meant she has mastered all necessary survival skills, even shady ones, and doesn’t need grandchild-‘splaining about anything.

      1. Hanani*

        I absolutely love the mental picture of grandmother furtively sucking an egg, because she has the survival skills!

    3. Green*

      Having Ukrainian relatives, I was always under the impression that it referred to decorating pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs), where some people (not all) suck out the contents of the egg at some point in the decorating process. Since in my family it was the babas (grandmothers) who made these, I always associated that phrase in my mind with the pysanky.

    4. RagingADHD*

      It’s not Southern US, because it’s in The Hobbit.

      AFAIK, it means a person is being condescending and assuming that someone else is stupid, when that person is actually wiser or more experienced.

      “Go teach your grandmother to suck eggs” would roughly translate to “Stop mansplaining my own job to me.”

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Your comment makes me so happy because it contains “Southern US,” “Hobbit,” and “mansplaining.” I never thought I’d see such dissimilar concepts so close together.

    5. GlowCloud*

      I’m in the UK, it’s a common expression here, and I think it has many possible meanings, including the practice of hollowing eggs for Easter, or just on the face of it, a generic, really simple obvious-to-grasp thing to suck on an egg.

      …but secretly in my own mind, I can’t ignore the fact that “eggs” are used to refer to the testes in languages such as German and Russian.

      So teaching someone to do something they obviously have a lot of experience in is like teaching your granny to suck balls. I think it especially places shame back on the ‘splainy person by implying their mee-maw’s a ho’.

      Can never unsee.

      1. Anonymous*

        teaching your granny to suck balls…implying their mee-maw’s a ho’

        I’m dying

    6. marvin*

      Sometimes phrases like this have non-intuitive origins, such as a really contextually specific reference that we don’t have access to anymore, or maybe the phrase evolved from something that sounded kind of similar and doesn’t necessarily make logical sense in its new form.

      An interesting example of that last one is “kitty corner,” which comes from “cater corner,” originally from the French “quatre” (four). It’s like a centuries-long game of telephone. I love this kind of thing.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I wonder if “catty-wumpus” (may have multiple spellings) derives from “kitty corner” and/or “cater corner”?

  33. Selling a place while you live there*

    How the heck do people sell a house while they’re still living in it? Where do you put all your stuff if you don’t have a garage (seems to be the location of choice based on houses we’ve toured). We have cats, what on earth would we do with them while we had an open house? I guess there’s a place nearby that we trust that will board cats, but still….

    Context: husband and I are vaguely house-hunting with the fallback plan that we move back in our small condo. Condo is about to be empty because we had a tenant in it whose lease is up. So we have a golden opportunity to sell the condo and move into a bigger place without having to have our lives on display for an open house. But if we don’t find a place we like/can’t get a place on contingency, we’ll move back in & try again in a year. I’m a little terrified of selling while we’re actually living there. Readers who have done it, what’s your advice!

    1. YNWA*

      Rent a storage unit. That’s what we’ve done both times we’ve sold. And we boarded our cats at the vet on days we had showings.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I also would feel totally okay touring a pared-down residence that still had some cats roaming around and a discrete litter box in the basement! That would not put me off the house in the way lots of clutter and evidence of someone living there might do.

        1. YNWA*

          Yeah, but not everyone is going to dig that. Plus, what if a cat gets out during the open house? It’s safer to board them.

        2. Double A*

          This is so weird to me that seeing someone living in a house would make you not want to buy it. You’re buying a house to live in it? Is it just because we’re so used to staged houses that a normal house seems dirty or something? I genuinely don’t think I’d care, because I’m looking at the house, which I’m considering buying, not the stuff in it, which I am not.

          1. Enough*

            Some people can’t get past the decor to see the house. And decor can hide bad and good about the house. What I want is the floor plan including dimensions.

          2. Sloanicota*

            Well, my house was extremely cluttered when I toured it. Obviously I bought it anyway, but it had sat on the market for a long time and that’s probably part of the reason. People want to get a sense of the space, and if it’s crammed with someone else’s stuff that makes it feel small and squashed, plus the idea of moving in or out seems weirdly overwhelming even though it’s not your stuff to move. I don’t need it empty but I think houses generally show better if they’re downsized from real life.

      2. Filosofickle*

        Yep, storage unit is ideal. I moved out what I didn’t need, painted some walls, vacated during opens / tours and that was fine. You don’t have to move all your stuff, just enough to make it look more open and uncluttered and feel less like your life is under a microscope. I found a staging person who was willing to do a consult for a couple hundred bucks — she gave me some advice on how to use what I had and helped me choose colors then I handled the rest. (Lucky for untidy me, my place sold fast so I didn’t have to keep it tidy for very long.)

        The cats are more complicated. Ideally they shouldn’t be onsite during tours for their own safety but I saw plenty of homes where it was obvious a cat lived there. It’s not a problem!

      3. Random Dice*

        Exactly. People pack up everything they can and put it in storage. Houses sell best without personalized decor, so it’s recommended to take down family photos and other things that can pop buyers out of imagining themselves there.

        I’ve toured apartments where the people living there walked out with a dog on a leash, during the touring. I don’t know how they approached cats.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Moving is a great time to pare down your stuff anyway. Then put the overflow in storage.

      If there’s a small room that the cats like that isn’t crucial for people to see right away, I’d lock the cats in there (literally lock it so there are no mishaps), and tell the agent that it’s only available for second showings. That minimizes upsetting the cats for people who are just checking the place out, but allows them to see the complete house if they are seriously considering it.

      Living in a staged house is a pain in the butt, because you have to be mindful of not messing it up or leaving clutter. I snap a few photos of the staged rooms, especially ones that I use all the time like the kitchen or bathroom, and then do a quick check that I haven’t overlooked something.

    3. Generic Name*

      I’ve sold 2 houses while also living in them. I’m not sure what you mean by “where do you put your stuff”? Like are you trying to have an empty/unfurnished house to show, or are you talking about normal “someone lives here” clutter, or do you have vast quantities of possessions covering every horizontal surface, including the floor? When I had my house on the market, I put as much stuff away (closets, basement, cupboards) as possible, but I’m not someone who has a lot of clutter anyway, so it wasn’t too hard. I’ve known people who rented storage units to put excess stuff away. I’ve also known people to donate or sell stuff they don’t need in order to show their house better.

      My cats at the time were indoor/outdoor cats, so I put up a sign saying it was fine to let them out and warned people not to pet the old/grumpy cat. I’ve toured tons of houses with cats living there. My son normally had fun playing with the resident cat when we went house hunting. I never did an open house. They are more for marketing the real estate agent than selling your home. In this market especially, sticking to private showings only should be fine.

      1. Sloanicota*

        When my friends were showing their house, they asked if they could store some boxes in my unfinished basement, and I said no problem (with a deadline for picking them up).

    4. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I would question the need for an open house in this market. My experience is that open houses seem to be more for the realtor to drum up business than to sell your house. I would only agree to an open house if you have gotten no activity from your listing after a couple of weeks. At least with scheduled viewings, you can take the cats and their stuff with you when you vacate.
      I have sold 3 houses while living in them, but fortunately had garages to move stuff into. If I had not, I would have rented a storage unit to hold the excess. You want to remove everything but the minimum amount of furniture, linens, clothing, kitchen items, etc. you need to live comfortably during the listing period. It is also a great time to realize you probably have way more stuff than you really need and start getting rid of some of it. Good luck.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I actually like opens as a seller — easier to have fewer, scheduled times with advance notice to clean / plan / vacate for. The more I can avoid the “can you leave for a showing this afternoon?” calls, the better. Granted, I live in a top market so you can run a few opens and expect offers after.

        My experience was that realtors are splitting their Saturdays among multiple clients, so opens are how I got into 75% of properties I wanted to see. I only set up appointments at my very top picks, leaving a lot of “maybe” properties that I only saw if there was an open.

        OHs definitely are an ad for the brokerage, though, as much or more than for the house. In my area, few realtors show their own listings. The successful ones are out with clients looking to buy. A junior agent shows at the open and pounces on everyone who walks in: Are you working with an agent yet?! Sign the book! Take my card!

        1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

          Another trouble with an open house is that anyone can walk in, whether they’re qualified or even intending to buy or not. A realtor can set up criteria, like only those with a pre-qualification letter can view it. Also, you can specify a minimum notice time for showings. When you are selling, you really cannot live totally as normal – you kind of have to put your life somewhat on hold.

    5. Pharmgirl*

      I just got an offer on my condo and am still living in it until closing. I don’t have pets but I do think you should board them for an open house. But other than than just declutter surfaces/floors and put anything you can in cabinets and closets. The house doesn’t need to be empty yet, but keeping it to furniture and minimal decoration/personal items is usually good.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I developed the habit of making my bed every morning because I was trying to sell my house in 2011 and it was on the market for months.

      I left my stuff in my house. Maybe tidied up the mess and kept tidy.

      I don’t have pets, but for the pets you bring them somewhere else during an open house (which is planned well in advance) and you require a certain amount of notice for a showing in which you or your spouse run home and take them somewhere even if the somewhere is a crate in the car up the road with a human in it and the car running. Folks with pets do have less flexibility with showings.

    7. Jean (just Jean)*

      Two architectural wonders come to mind:
      The Baha’i temple just outside Chicago
      The St. Louis Cathedral (the new one, on Lindell Ave.) with its gold-background mosaics high up on the walls

      Also, public gardens or prairie preserves if you like looking at flowers and plants.
      Shout-out for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis

    8. jtr*

      I think I’ve only ever sold a house once when someone wasn’t living in it (usually us, but once our renters). I’m kind of shocked in the current market that someone would be put off buying a house because someone else was living in it.

      It’s a great opportunity to prune. We generally had a big garage/yard sale to get rid of stuff that we didn’t absolutely love/need, stored what we wanted to keep but was kind of cluttery in family/friend’s garages. Then, a really deep cleaning, followed by picking up All. The. Time. When we left the house in the morning we did a swipe of the bathroom and kitchen surfaces with cleaning wipes, for instance, in case a showing popped up during the day. Keep ALL your actual valuables locked up or elsewhere. We didn’t have pets at the times we’ve sold, but I would probably kennel or board them while it’s actively showing, just in fear of them being let out accidentally.

      We had two kids through all of this, too, so it’s do-able! One of our student families just sold their house within a week of listing it with FIVE children, and myriad pets and critters.

  34. AC*

    I’m trying to recapture a feeling that I don’t know how to describe very well and don’t know where or how to find in my current location. Something about feeling connected to history and mysticism that recharges the soul.

    Exhibit A:
    Going to a wednesday catholic mass used to do this for me. Something about the stone building, going through the ritual of kneel/sit/stand/kneel, chanting – I felt at peace and super connected to a community while being in a room full of strangers (Bonus points – I didn’t have to talk to any of them!). Living in several states around the US, whenever I was feeling very low or lost, I could wander into a unknown church, do the mass on autopilot, and walk away feeling lighter and recharged. Until They Changed The Words! Now I just feel out of place and uncomfortable. (Probably worth noting that I never really had the faith even when I liked going)

    Exhibit B:
    The stacks in my college research library. Big Stone building, it was easy to get lost in there. I would wander the aisles during study breaks and pick out random books to read, usually about history/mythology/ancient civilizations. By “read” I mean plop down on the cold stone or concrete floor because there were no chairs. The whole place smelled of old books. Wifi and cell service were non-existant due to the thick walls.

    Exhibit C (half aligned):
    Hiking in national parks on the west coast. Those forests feel ancient and full of mysticism – I fully believed in magic when I was visiting and would not have been surprised to encounter a pixie or gnome.

    I’m in the midwest. Nothing in my city seems that old or special or makes me feel connected to people across hundreds of years. Not even finding stone buildings – everything is modern and steel/glass and made for you to have a purpose rather than absorb a feeling. The parks are uninspiring, though I enjoy the exercise.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Personal life is hitting a low point and I really need to recharge my soul / relight my inner flame. Note that these all avoid peopling – I’m using all my people energy for rebuilding my life so my social battery is often on negative power and recharges extra slow at the moment.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh I totally relate to this, it’s a sense of awe and wonder at something greater than yourself. The Midwest can be lovely but does lack awe sometimes, except maybe the Mississippi river which is so large you can barely wrap your head around it, or the great lakes, particularly superior. Also perhaps a beautiful night sky full of stars or the Northern lights, if you’re so blessed. Perhaps camping in a remote place, even if it’s not a majestic wilderness as some spots, would give you that feeling of being small. Otherwise, I’d say a trip to Europe in the off-season could top you off for a while.

      1. Helvetica*

        I also love all of these experiences, especially churches without being religious.
        And like sloanicota, I think stargazing is quite good! Or even just a planetarium if that is something available to you – I remember going as a child and being totally overwhelmed in a good way about the vastness of the universe around me.
        Something that is harder but also does it for me are so-called liminal spaces. Maybe in your case malls at night? Some people do get creeped out by these experiences, so YMMV.

      2. AC**

        Travel isn’t an option though I’m very jealous of how many old buildings Europe has! I should have mentioned that I need something sustainable – my whole life has gotten smashed to bits so I’m in a long slog to rebuild it. Gonna need multiple attempts to get my soul recharged.

        I do miss the Northern lights – it was the only good part of camping growing up!

        1. fposte*

          You could check darksky dot org to see if there’s a dark sky area near you for a sunset outing.

          I think also that breaking up your usual pattern can be helpful to the recharge in its own right; not that you need to slog to Patagonia for a point, just that a jaunt outside of the neighborhood to hear music or see the night sky has value in its own specialness.

      3. Reba*

        Yeah, I agree that the midwest doesn’t hit you over the head with scenic beauty, but there are real natural and historical gems out there. Caves, waterfalls, dunes, the Niagara escarpment, Wisconsin dells, Scotts bluff, Monument rock, Hocking Hills… I also personally get a lot of this feeling of recharge from estuaries and marshes — full of life and change, not to mention birdwatching — and these are found all around the Mississippi basin.

        Similarly in the human-built monument department, significant places may be modest or hidden but they are out there. There are lists online of WPA public art projects by state. You could also look at Archipedia (Society of Architectural historians website) which has a database of significant builds and great essays to browse. Not all of these places are visitable or even still standing, but this might be a fun way to generate road trip ideas. A visit to Columbus, Indiana would give you a condensed special modern religious and civic architecture experience. I feel like I could program a whole driving tour of southern Ohio that could hit mounds, an eclectic moorish-style synagogue, intact 19th century neighborhoods, a sizable handful of post-office murals, underground railroad sites, and pretty gorges, all in about a week.

        I have a hobby of visiting mounds and earthworks. Some of these are frankly depressing (I’ll always remember the oval mound that was half cut off by an Autozone parking lot) but some are well preserved and worth a visit and a ponder.

    2. fposte*

      What an interesting question! Obviously in the Midwest, as in much of the US, history is layered, so the post-industrial stuff that’s most obtrusive is fairly recent even though there’s been human habitation for millennia.

      So water is great, if you have access–Midwestern lakes and rivers are ancient living areas, sources of food and commerce, and transportation vessels. Also in a lot of the Midwest, especially the lower, that’ll be better protected and, IMHO, more atmosphere-changing than a natural landscape; there’s just not enough preserved prairie to give the same effect. When I’m out in the middle of a lake I’m seeing much of what people saw there a thousand years ago.

      I also like music, especially playing or singing music, for this. It blows my mind that I’m learning music on recorder that a person in the seventeenth century in another country would have been working their way through, and that while we couldn’t have understood each other’s words we would have been able to pick up instruments and play together and find it beautiful.

      Food and gardening, together or separately, can operate similarly. Boiling water for tea is an age-old gesture. Weeding is as old as agriculture. Sometimes it’s about consciously linking the activity to the eons rather than having that forcefully brought home to you (I’m not always super-contemplative when weeding). But there is still something about the recognition of these activities as being widespread and longstanding ways of being human that connect us all around the globe and through the ages.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I’m thinking of things that produce an analogous feeling in me, not necessarily substitutes for what you’ve described.

      Museum of natural history. Art museum. Natural caves. Zoo or aquariums on a slow day. Botanic gardens or glassed conservatories. Bird sanctuaries or natural prairie plantings. Butterfly gardens. Sculpture gardens.

    4. Courageous cat*

      I dunno but now I want this too. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt this way.

      1. AC*

        In that case I recommend taking a trip to the Hoh Rain Forest and Olympic National Park, especially the Hall of Mosses trail. Pictures do not do it justice.

        If you find your version of this feeling, come back and tell me how!

    5. Corgisandcats*

      It sounds like you are describing a feeling of awe. I just read a book on this subject and absolutely loved it. It’s called “Awe, The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life” by Dacher Keltner, a professor at Berkeley. Don’t be fooled by the self-help-ish title, it’s more a summary of different types of awe and how people describe their experiences and how we can all seek out more awe in our everyday life. If you enjoy nonfiction, I highly recommend it, I hope it can help you find more awe in your current life place/style!

      1. AGD*

        Keltner is a well-established academic psychologist and even consulted on Pixar’s Inside Out. That said, I hadn’t heard about this book of his! Going to watch for it!

    6. Generic Name*

      So the commonality among those experiences I can see is large, yet enclosed (or enclosed-feeling) spaces that also combine wonder and awe. What about going to orchestra/symphony concerts or art museums? They have those things, even in the Midwest.

    7. Redactle*

      Katherine May’s new book Enchantment covers exactly this – both the feeling you describe, and how to find it again! I’m reading it at the moment and only a third of the way through (so I’m assuming about the how to find it again part), but I think it could be really interesting for you

    8. Llellayena*

      Is there a Buddhist temple or meditation center near you? Even the “modern” spaces tend to invoke peace and awe. I agree with finding caves, if you’re in an area that might have them. Larger libraries might have a rare books room with that old paper scent. Smaller museums with unusual collections could work too. I’ve got one near me that’s all about tools for various crafts and jobs. If the local botanical garden has a Japanese section with a koi pond, that’s a good sit and reflect spot.

    9. Squidhead*

      I don’t know the name for that feeling either but when I have it it’s a combination of “feeling connected” and “erosion of the Self”, if I had to describe it.

      Some things that pluck that nerve for me:
      -Deep bass music in a large space (the kind you can feel in your chest, through good speakers. Not some jackals* cruising the neighborhood.) I don’t even love rock music that much but the sound in a stadium literally hits a nerve.
      -Watching fireworks.
      -Worship services (as you mentioned). I grew up in one protestant church but the liturgy is the same in many so if “adding your voice to the chorus” is meaningful, you might be able to find a church again. Check out recorded services or livestreams from local churches to see how their services sound.
      -Watching helicopters take off/land (it’s that vibration in the chest thing again)
      -Watching fascinating large endeavors happen like ocean liners docking (probably hard in the Midwest, but maybe Youtube?) If there’s a genre of “well-oiled machine competence porn,” then that’s what I mean…lots of people doing their jobs well, in unison.
      -Being in a place that was obviously loved and cared for (old houses, dilapidated buildings…
      but not buildings that were always crummy. those feel different). A humble home where I can put my hands where someone else put theirs every day. (Maybe check out real estate listings/open houses?)
      -Old stuff, especially domestic stuff like cooking pots, photo albums, becausr they were used a lot and/or tended with care. Got any good antique stores?

      *autocorrect but I left it!

    10. the Viking Diva*

      @AC, what about a religious service that is not part of your personal/family tradition? Maybe not even in your native language? I’m imagining a service or meditation time at an Eastern Orthodox church, synagogue, temple. Can you attend a powwow? a meditative practice such as tai chi? Or what about a church that you choose just for the organ or the choir? or a concert in a church space that has a good vibe for you, even if the religious practices there don’t? It could be a good project to go check out different venues.

      Lots of good outdoor suggestions in the thread. Can you walk in a cemetery? And there are plenty of midwest places with big old deciduous trees, which give me that long view of time.

    11. Clara Bowe*

      Personally, I just go drive out into the middle of nowhere and go stand in a field. The Great Plaines are named that for a reason. Let yourself sink into the sky and world and have the fun “I am a tiny speck in a sea of fields, so far from oceans and valleys and I can see forever” emotional crisis.

      I’ve done that a few times and really connected to how I am OF the Great Plaines and the Midwest. /Plaines Girlie

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        *1,000 about standing in the middle of a field. I don’t find it frightening, though. I just love all that open space. Moved to the (U.S.) east coast 30+ years ago and while I’m happy here I still miss that Midwestern scenery.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also Midwest gal, and my emotional crisis was the other way around – when I went on a cruise and realized that I was in the middle of the ocean and couldn’t see land anywhere. (Only it wasn’t fun. Haha. Cruises are not for me.)

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          OMG. I’m already terrified of deep water (anything over 4 feet deep ha ha). I feel your pain!

    12. A313*

      Catholic Mass. I pretty much only go to funerals lately and the occasional wedding. It feels so very alienating for them to have changed those words that I never had to think about — my response was automatic. When I first started working downtown of a fairly large city as a late teen/young 20-something, I’m would occasionally duck in for a lunchtime mass, even though I really had no faith in organized religion. It was the ritual and habit for me, also.

    13. MCL*

      If you like connecting to nature, I do recommend checking out your local, state, or national parks. “The Midwest” can describe a lot of area. I grew up in Iowa, live in southern Wisconsin now, and vacation A LOT in the forests of northern WI, the UP, and the North shore of Lake Superior. All of them are “Midwest” but all completely different and unique in their own ways. Not that these areas are really close together, but I hope you can find something cool and meaningful in your neck of the woods.

    14. Emma2*

      Would music work for you? I find some Gregorian chant very moving, and am always amazed that Hildegard von Bingen composed music as a woman almost a thousand years ago that is still listened to today. There is also the music of some of the great masses or requiems (such as Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B Minor).
      Quaker Meeting can be a place for connection to others and to whatever greater Spirit or intuition may exist.
      Have you read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass? It is not an entirely uplifting book (if you are going to write about nature and also to write from an Indigenous perspective, there are going to be some difficult issues to confront), but I found it gave me a new appreciation of the perspectives of some of the first nations of the Americas on the relationship between humans and the world around them. I felt renewed reading that book.

    15. just another queer reader*

      I think you might like Duluth and the surrounding area!

      A few ideas that may or may not resonate-
      – Carnegie libraries
      – government buildings (courthouse, city hall)
      – Mississippi River bluffs
      -*I once rented a kayak and floated down a few miles of the Mississippi, it was lovely
      – cliffs, waterfalls, lakeshores on the north shore of Lake Superior
      – ferry across some portion of the Great lakes (Madeline Island)
      – the park on the cliff that overlooks Duluth
      – Boundary Waters Canoe Area
      – organ concert in a Catholic cathedral

      Only semi aligned but I feel good energy from going for walks in my neighborhood park and just seeing all the people who are doing different things there.
      I also love the sense of history from old houses, and learning about local history.

    16. allathian*

      I got that sense of awe walking among the standing stones at Carnac/Karnag in Brittany and I suspect that Stonehenge would be equally awe-inspiring for me.

  35. Qwerty*

    Does anyone have a good phone app for gardening? I want to start a small herb garden on my balcony. I’ve been getting tips and ideas from Pinterest, but figured there was probably something that helped organize what would go well in the same pot together, when to plant it, and what is pet-safe.

    Current search attempts have yielded multiple games to play with a virtual garden or farm on my phone which are proving distracting.

    1. GardenGnomic*

      The RHS Grow App just launched about 2 days ago. I’m not sure if it’s still just in Beta testing for RHS staff members, but it’s designed to show you plant profiles, with cultivation notes, which you can save to a pinboard, and it will curate a monthly To-Do list based on what your plants need each season.

      Candide gardening app is also very good for identification and care advice.

  36. Roy G. Biv*