weekend open thread – June 17-18, 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: Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. The story of a home for kids who stumbled into other worlds — like the Narnia kids with the wardrobe, or Alice with the rabbit hole — but then came back to the real world and had trouble adjusting. Darkness lurks.

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

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{ 1,097 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.

    1. Hwesta*

      Ongoing series – a new novella is published every January. The first book stands alone just fine IMO but some of my faves are later in the series.

    2. AGD*

      I remember reading Every Heart a Doorway on my phone one time in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I ended up lying there staring at the wall. Fantastic premise, but a bit too gruesome for 2 AM!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I actually didn’t like it either, although I realize literary criticism is not in the spirit of the weekend open thread :D

      1. Elyshia*

        The October Daye books are great! I just finished listening to them again since the new one is coming out in September.

    3. Lime green Pacer*

      I just finished reading the first two books. An awesome palata cleanser after reading too much dreck from Kindle Unlimited. (I was foolishly trying to get some value out of my cheap trial,)

      1. Shevek*

        try the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells! they’re really funny and smart, and they’re all available on Kindle unlimited.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A good choice for a June read for those who appreciate LGBTQ representation.

      Won the Hugo for best novella. AND the Nebula AND the Locus Award. Roughly that’s fans, critics, and an industry magazine–they do not always agree.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I love the “Wayward Children” books too – though “Every Heart” remains a favorite, for introducing the setup and main characters. Well, and the “Jack and Jill” books, “Down Among the Sticks and Bones” and “Come Tumbling Down”. [As a huge fan of horror movies, the interpretation of what life might be like in a B-horror-movie-world was… intriguing {wry grin}.]

      I’ve also enjoyed McGuire’s “Ghost Roads” books, starting with “Sparrow Hill Road”; they’re set in a ‘verse where ghosts exist – of people, and sometimes of cars, and roads, and other things – and where the main character is Rose, from the “hitchhiking prom-girl ghost” urban legends/ghost stories. Turns out there’s an elaborate structure of the supernatural, where some people become HitchHiking Ghosts and some guard the intersections and some – well, it gets pretty complex after a while. But it has a lot of fun concepts with car-related themes, including a running storyline inspired by the song “Tell Laura I Love Her” – very entertaining setup.

      McGuire also writes as Mira Grant, and her “Newsflesh” series set in a manageable-but-still-dangerous zombie-apocalypse aftermath is excellent.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        As Mira Grant, she also has a trilogy based on parasitology that a biologist friend tells me is frighteningly accurate to current knowledge. Accent on frightening.

        In order, books are PARASITE, SYMBIONT, and CHIMERA.

        There’s another series called “Newsflesh”, but I haven’t read it yet. Stories about an out of control virus seem a little too … something, lately.

        1. Brisvegan*

          I found the Newsflesh series oddly comforting during our Aussie Covid response.

          They are also a political thriller and a commentary on security theatre. Very good. Some of the novellas will make you cry.

    6. The Shenanigans*

      I am so happy Alison recommended that book and the series. it’s some if the most beautiful writing I’ve ever experienced. She turns portal fantasy into a philosophical exploration of self WHILE ALSO writing a really absorbing fantasy series.

      If that doesn’t sound like your thing, she also writes faerie based urban fantasy, monster hunting based urban fantasy and middle grade under her own name. She also writes scientific horror under the name Mira Grant.

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Structurally, that series is one of the better types for each book being complete as a story, rather than “entries 27-35 in What Happened Next”, so it’s quite possible to appreciate the first book as its own thing as well. The overall series structure is that the odd-numbered books advance the timeline at the school, and the even-numbered books each take place in the past and cover a different character’s backstory and the door they traveled through (not in a separate continuous past-to-future timeline shared between the even books, but with each even book starting at the time that makes sense for that character and telling that character’s story). Since each book does not pick up directly where the previous one left off, there’s more of an incentive to actually wrap up the existing story in a satisfying way at the end compared to a linear structure. Unusually for me with an 8-book series, I can clearly remember which book each thing happens in, which is a good sign that the books tell distinct stories.

      I happened to read this series out of order initially because I wasn’t a Hugo voter the year book 1 came out but I was the year book 2 came out (I love Seanan’s music, but I’d been avoiding her books because I don’t like modern-day setting books that take place in places I’ve been since I tend to turn into Captain Factchecker about the setting instead of paying attention to the plot), and they were quite comprehensible in that order as well.

      I’ve read them all now, and re-read them fairly regularly since they’re short enough to be one evening books for me. (I have busy times and slow times at my job, so during the busy times I only read books that are either short enough to finish in a single evening or that I’ve read enough times before that they’re easy enough to put down in the middle. Long, new books wait for the slow times when I can stay up all night to finish a book, or spend the next day also reading it.)

      Of course, I also went through a previous phase of reading giant doorstopper military SF series that sometimes sprawled to double-digit numbers of books, so by my standards 8 novellas is quite short.

    8. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I am just reading this series for the first time and it’s SO amazing.

      Some of the books resonate more than others because each one focuses on a different portal world (so far at least, for me – I just finished #4).

      But they are so good at making it feel like you’re catching small glimpses of a whole world each time, so atmospheric and delightful. And the cast of characters is diverse and interesting.

  2. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’ve been reading, and request or give recs if you have any. As always, all reading is welcome.

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

      Just finished LM Montgomery’s *The Blue Castle*, which I first heard about here. LOVED it!

      Slogging through an abridged Boswell’s *Life of Johnson*. S’okay, but not totally compelling.

      And stalled in the middle of *The Secret History of Wonder Woman*, but I hope to pick it up again.

        1. Amanda*

          Kilmeny of the Orchard was a favorite growing up. One of Montgomery’s darker works, but I loved it.
          There’s also a collection of short stories she wrote about Anne and her family after Rilla of Ingleside, if you can find it.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              Rilla of Ingleside ties for me with the Blue Castle. There are other books in the sequence that come first though.

      1. Rainy*

        Oh I love The Blue Castle :) I (like probably most N. American girls of my generation) went through a hard-core LM Montgomery phase and Blue Castle was one of my favourites.

      2. The Shenanigans*

        I love Blue Castle! Have you checked out A Tangled Web? That’s satirical as well, and a lot of fun.

      3. Csethiro Ceredin*

        The whole “mistreated or underappreciated character find their place and their people and BLOSSOMS” is one of my favourite arcs!

        See also: The Shipping News, The House in the Cerulean Sea, The Goblin Emperor….

    2. OtterB*

      I just finished The Witch King by Martha Wells. Her first fantasy in some years. Fascinating cultures and enjoyable characters as always.

      Queued up next is The Master of Samar, a fantasy by Melissa Scott. I don’t know much about it but her name is enough.

      Except I sidetracked to The Sorceress Transcendent by Casey Blair, an enjoyable enemies to lovers fantasy romance novella, and now to Wheel of the Infinite because The Witch King left me in the mood for Martha Wells fantasy and that’s one of my long time favorites.

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I just finished the Witch King also and I did like it quite a bit.

        Wheel of the Infinite is awesome as well

      2. Jammin!*

        thank you – i didn’t realize Wells had a new book out.
        I’ve been reading her for years, and drifted away a bit. Was very happy when I found MurderBot.

    3. Atheist Nun*

      I finished She’s Unlikeable: And Other Lies That Bring Women Down by Aparna Shewakramani. I saw only a couple episodes of the first season of Indian Matchmaking, but the recurring urge to throw a brick at my TV set made me cut my losses early. I am South Asian and was “encouraged” towards an arranged marriage. It did not happen, partly because I grew up in a miserable arranged marriage household, but mostly because my obedient child mentality went only so far. I liked Aparna in the couple episodes I saw, so I was curious about her book. It is…fine; it is a light pop culture book that does, quite nicely, spill some tea about the TV show. I like more scholarly nonfiction, and while I appreciated her comments about feminism and the ways in which Americans of Indian origin differ from their parents and from Indians living in India, I would have liked a deeper discussion on the perceived differences between an arranged marriage and a “love marriage” as well as the expectations for women once they become wives. She talked quite a bit about how “scripted television” is not reality, which I found fascinating.

      I decided to run with the TV personalities/influencers book theme and am now reading Break the Internet: In Pursuit of Influence by Olivia Yallop. I am learning a lot about influencers and the attention economy. I cannot say that I like what I am discovering about how personality is being commodified, but I appreciate that the author is exploring multiple facets of this topic.

      1. Bluebell*

        I have watched all of the eps of Indian Matchmaking, and Aparna is definitely in my top 3 of the cast that I wanted to yell at. I don’t watch a lot of reality TV, and wasn’t tempted to read her book. Maybe if there was a short synopsis article I would. For a book that has just a small section on arranged marriages, Mira Jacob talks about her parents in her graphic memoir Good Talk, and also her short attempt to let her parents fix her up. I almost never read graphic novels/books, and thought it was well done.

        1. Atheist Nun*

          Thanks for letting me know about Mira Jacob–I will look for her work. I actually liked Aparna on the show. My yelling was aimed primarily at Sima, the matchmaker, but more generally at the concept of arranged marriage itself.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ooh, thanks for the rec! I listened to a very eye-opening – yet annoying – podcast about the economics, tech innovations, and gendered labour practices related to influencing (“Under the Influence”, by Jo Piazza) and have been looking for a book on the topic. Hopefully one that is not annoying.

        1. Atheist Nun*

          I think Break the Internet might be a good complement to the podcast you mentioned (I have not heard it). I find it a little distracting when the author interjects her own personal experiences into the broader reporting, but I like it overall so far. It has a UK focus but also covers influencers in the US, Middle East, and elsewhere.

    4. Jammin!*

      just finished The Raven Thief by Gigi Pandian. I like her books, but this wasn’t my favorite.
      Before that, i read CJ Box’s The Highway, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Smolder and Brent Weeks’s Night Angel Nemesis (which meant I had to reread Night Angel trilogy- about 1,200 pages!!).

      1. RedinSC*

        I enjoyed Gigi Pandian’s The Accidental Alchemist books, and have read a couple of her Jaya Jones Treasure Hunter series.

        1. Jammin!*

          I like those books also.
          The one I just read was the second installment in her Secret Staircase series. The first one was really good, so perhaps my expectations were too high.
          It is interesting that her character Sanjay is also in these books.

    5. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, and an anthology on the same topic titled In All Its Fury, compiled by W. H. O’Gara. Both books talk about the January Blizzard of 1888 and survivor experiences.

      1. Lore*

        You may be ready to be done with the topic, but there’s a novel by Melanie Benjamin also called The Children’s Blizzard from
        about two years ago.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Can we ever be done with something this extreme? I was born in the 1960s and my grandparents still told stories about their families’ experiences well before their birth. I think that thousands of years ago a storm like that begat the Ragnarok mythos.

          1. Lore*

            Oh, yes, of course you are right in the big picture sense! I meant specifically in the “maybe you don’t want to read a novel right now about the same topic as the last two nonfiction books you read” sense.

          2. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

            Stories like that don’t die unless they’re forgotten, or there’s no one to tell them to.

            My grandmother had a story or two about her great-aunt’s experiences in the Blizzard of 1888, and I heard third-hand one story from my great-grandmother on my father’s side. Even better, I have stories of survival from a dam burst disaster in western Massachusetts that was the biggest of its kind until Johnstown – amazingly, from both sides of the family.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I read Laskin’s book on the Children’s Blizzard, and was riveted – I hadn’t heard about it before then.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          There is also a website called US Deadly Events that has a list of references to the Children’s Blizzard. There was a separate blizzard in March of the same year called The Great White Hurricane that shut down the NYSE for two days.

    6. Justin*

      Just read “Just Action,” a follow-up to “The Color of Law,” about housing discrimination. Check it out.

    7. Bluebell*

      I zoomed through Bad Summer People and while most of the people were definitely bad, it was an amusing read. Finished The Ferryman, which is destined to be a miniseries. Also finally got Melissa Clark’s Dinner in One- lots of recipes I want to try. Just made the Orzo with Zucchini, Feta and Dill. So good!

    8. Jay*

      I’ve been reading Magic Claims by husband and wife writing team Ilona Andrews. Its part of a long running post (magic) apocalypse urban fantasy series with a lot of humor and surprisingly good writing.

      1. Amanda*

        I just finished this! Then went back and reread Blood Heir, lol.
        Are you on their blog? They have all sorts of free stories on their website.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Just started Shrines of Gaiety, by Kate Atkinson–so far it’s one of her typical books, which is to say marvelous. For breakfast reading I’m re-reading my later Bill Brysons; currently on At Home. I keep forgetting all the fascinating stuff in his books!

      For work I’ve got Medusa’s Ankles, a collection of A.S. Byatt’s short works, and am mid The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye (the story the film 3000 Years of Longing is based one) and remembering all over again how much I love her stuff.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I just finished the audiobook for Miracle and Wonder by Malcolm Gladwell, its an amazing curated set of interviews with Paul Simon interspersed with music clips, it was amazing.

    10. SparklingBlue*

      Been trying to find “The Letter For the King” after seeing the TV show–had no luck finding it for sale, so may keep an eye out at the local library.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Look in the kids books section, or ask at the desk. My local indie bookstore has it on their site–and it wasn’t even the “Netflix tie-in” edition. This is on my list too, so thanks for the reminder.

    11. RedinSC*

      I am listening too (Audible) Heroic Hearts edited by Jim BUtcher and Kerrie L Hughes

      I’m enjoying it. a collection of short stories by Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance writers.

    12. I take tea*

      I’m reading the Resident Alien comics. My YouTube feed suggested a trailer for the TV series with Alan Tudyk, and I loved the concept of “alien tries to integrate in a small town and solves crime”. I cannot see the series here (insert frustrated rant about how annoying it is that in this global world, it’s still impossible to pay to watch a lot of stuff), so I decided to read the comics. I like them a lot, they seem a bit different to what I have seen of the series, less comedy, more about what makes humans human.

    13. Tiny clay insects*

      Finally reading Hench! (I first heard of it because of Hench/AAM fanfic). I cannot put it down!!!!

    14. KTB*

      Wheel of Time audiobook update: 3 hours left in #8! I still hope to get done by the end of the year

      Non-audiobooks: The Girl Who Drank The Moon, by Kelly Barnhill- it was a sweet, quick read that made me want to call my mom and cuddle my baby. Lots of magic, lots of different types of love!

      Beyond the Wand, by Tom Felton- also quick. Not quite deep enough for a biography and too long for the type of sketches included. I think it would have been a good travel book but it didn’t stand up to “session” reading for me.

      31/52 for the year

      1. David*

        I’m just a little bit behind you in Wheel of Time (ebooks for me, not audio), halfway through book 7. Small world, or something :-) I am also hoping to finish by the end of the year.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Finally have some intriguing to share. Cassandra in Reverse, by Holly Smale. (Published as The Cassandra Complex in the UK)

      I’m early in the novel yet and it’s already worth sharing because of its crystal sharp, first-person depiction of an adult woman with undiagnosed autism. The author was herself diagnosed as an adult.

      It’s starting slow, but her viewpoint is quietly fascinating. It’s also going to have time loops which I didn’t know going into it.

      Those of you who share mylove of YA may recognize Holly Smale’s name; be aware that this is not YA.

    16. Teapot Translator*

      I just finished Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens. It was a lot of fun!

    17. carcinization*

      I just got Basketball: A Love Story (very discounted, luckily), because I decided I need to learn about basketball (I would say “learn more about basketball” but I know absolutely nothing about it) as the last time my husband and I went to (a non-sports-specific!) trivia night, fully 1/4 of the questions were about basketball (including history, college, and professional), and we were therefore SOL. It looks like an okay book, I’ll try to read it over the next few weeks in between other things.

    18. GoryDetails*

      Current books in progress include:

      Fine: A Comic About Gender, by Rhea Ewing: it’s a graphic-novel-format look at a series of interviews that Ewing did with people from many backgrounds, all surrounding questions of gender and identity, with some people very clear as to how they see themselves, and others… very much unclear. The questions and answers vary widely, and I’m finding it quite enjoyable – and yes, I’m resonating with some of the respondents’ comments and wishing I’d been able to put my own feelings into words so concisely!

      A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes, a mix of personal memoir and how-to-become-a-beekeeper.

      And on audiobook:

      Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, beautifully narrated by stage and screen actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. I loved Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” very much, and had put off tackling this one because I feared being let down. But while it’s not the epic pseudo-history of “Strange” it has considerable charm of its own – enhanced, I suspect, by Ejiofor’s narration! – and I enjoyed it very much. (It has some elements in common with “Every Heart a Doorway”, this week’s recommendation by Alison, though it’s a different kind of portal-fantasy.)

      And non-fiction audiobook: have begun His Majesty’s Airship by S. C. Gwynne, about the British airship R101, hailed as the next great thing in long-distance flight – until it crashed and burned on its maiden voyage in 1930.

    19. Book Reader*

      Half way thru The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim. Its been very good so far.

    20. AllKittiesAreGood*

      I just finished Addicted by Sonia Blue, read the whole thing in one day! I’m a big fan of mm contemporary romance, especially if there’s hurt-comfort and workplace romance and this had it all in spades. Unlike a lot of books I read, they really dealt with the characters’ problems and not in a “love will heal all” way but in a realistic way. It took time and therapy and work. And I admit, I might’ve cried just a little bit at some points. It’s been two days and I can’t stop thinking about it. Going in I wasn’t sure because Sonia Blue is a new author but I’m definitely going to be reading more of her books from here on out.

      Oh and it was funny too. Really bad puns from one of the characters that are silly enough to make you smile.

        1. AllKittiesAreGood*

          Yay! I couldn’t recommend it more. And I read mostly mm romance so if you ever need more recs I’d be happy to provide. Glitterland by Alexis Hall is my all-time favorite and it brings you on a journey. I’ve read it too many times to count.

    21. Other Meredith*

      Currently reading A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross. Her writing is beautiful, but I’m not 100% sold on the story yet. I read another book by her, Divine Rivals, recently and loved it so much, so I think my expectations were maybe a bit too high. I’m liking more and more as I go along though.

    22. Seashell*

      I just finished We Should Not Be Friends by Will Schwalbe, a memoir about him (a bookish gay guy) and his friend from college (a loud jock). It was interesting and fairly entertaining.

    23. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      The Other Merlin. it’s good enough but some of the language is too modern for the setting

    24. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Finally finishing up M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating, a compilation of her books. The entire book about oysters and eating them was a bit much, but it’s improved since. It’s making me want to read a biography about her – she definitely always went her own way.

      Also reading Bitches in Bonnets – Life Lessons from Jane Austen’s Mean Girls. More sociology than I was expecting. It’s making me want to reread all of Austen again. I haven’t read Northanger Abbey in… decades, probably? There’s *three* chapters on Emma.

    25. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I’m rereading L. A. Hall’s The Comfortable Courtesan series, one of my favorite comfort reads.

    26. Quinalla*

      Just finished Untamed by Glennon Doyle., very much enjoyed it, some pieces of it really spoke to me. Highly recommend for anyone. It’s sort of a memoir, but not written like one typically is which I also liked a lot.

      I’ve been really enjoying her podcast with her sister & wife “We can do hard things” too. I know this isn’t the podcast thread, but if you want a new one to try, this one is great.

    27. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I just finished The Windsor Knot, which was about the Queen of England (QEII) solving a murder with her assistant. It was recommended to me as “for fans of Thursday Murder Club” and while I didn’t didn’t find it as delightful as those, it was a very fun read even though I am not much interested in the royals generally.

      I also just finished the fourth Wayward Children novella, which was a bittersweet slice of the story but an engrossing read.

      Next up is Lessons in Chemistry, because I finally got to the top of the library hold list, then the next holds to pick up are The Late Mrs Willoughby and The Last Heir to Blackwood Library.

  3. Jackalope*

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

    I’ve been playing more Fire Emblem Engage. I’ll probably push ahead to the end soon, but right now I’m still grinding for supports.

    1. Jay*

      Still playing Diablo IV and Valheim, although once the next season of Fallout 76 drops on Tuesday, I’ll mostly be playing that.

    2. SparklingBlue*

      Been enjoying Pokemon TCG Live–they announced a new set based on the original 151 for later this year. I wonder if the theme decks will be reimaginings of the starter decks in the Game Boy TCG?

    3. cabbagepants*

      My family and I played a lot of Bananagrams this week and it was so fun! You make words with letter tiles, sort of like Scrabble but more freeform.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I finally decided to limit myself one character on Guild Wars 2 so I can keep up with my power gamer family–and I found places in Bitterfrost Frontier that my husband didn’t know about. (He’s storyline focused; I’m a map/collection completer.)

      I also found a reference to Guild Wars (original) still being in existence so I am being tempted to try it just so I can get the linked Ranger pets!

    5. Other Alice*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Etrian Odyssey since they put it on Steam a couple weeks ago. The price point is ridiculous for a 15yo Nintendo DS port, but the game has a special place in my heart.

    6. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I gave up on Dragon Quest Builders and moved on to the sequel (PS Plus Premium, they’re both in the catalog lol) and DQB2 is EXPONENTIALLY better than the first. The first one makes a point of telling you repeatedly that you are a builder, not a hero, and fighting monsters doesn’t make you stronger, and then what does it do? Take away all your friends and throw you into a solo boss battle! DQB2, meanwhile, gives you a friend whose only strength is breaking stuff, gives you XP for whacking monsters, has your townies fix everything that gets broken in monster attacks, lets your townies fight the boss with you, and so far two plotlines have ended with your townies actually helping you build some huge thing after which some of them come back to the main island with you! And there are a whole host of QoL improvements and mechanics that make building much more fun in 2 so I’m digging it.

    7. A Girl Named Fred*

      I went to my first Magic: the Gathering prerelease yesterday and I didn’t die! My boyfriend and another friend have been going for a while and really enjoy them, but I’ve always thought they would be busy, overwhelming, and not fun for me since I mostly prefer playing MtG as a venue for hanging out with friends, not strangers. Thankfully only two out of three were right, as I DID have some fun (but DO still prefer our more casual game nights. Feeling like I’m playing on a chess clock timer is Stressful for me lol)

      But I’m glad I went and I even managed to win one game in the round I played. I accomplished my main goals of “just show up” and “be decisive when playing.”

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Go you! My significant other plays and I could see how that would be stressful.

      2. The Dude Abides*

        Assuming the environment of the LGS is done right, prereleases (especially the midnight ones) can be a blast. They can be busy, depending on the crowd and size of the play space.

        Re: clock – as long as you’re playing at a reasonable pace, clock doesn’t matter in 95% of games. Also, follow the rule of thumb in limited of “attack more often.”

    8. Raia*

      Obligatory TotK post! I haven’t played in a week and finally was able to sink a good chunk of time in! Still not even close to the end game. Looking to Fire Emblem Blazing Sword GBA releasing next week!

    9. Quinalla*

      Lots of DDO, so much more fun since they’ve fixed a huge chunk of the game breaking lag issues that have plagued the game for the last several years.

      Will probably hop on the beta for the new Valheim content this week!

  4. bassclefchick*

    Does anyone know what font was used in the opening sequence of Pose? Loved the show and I’m trying to make a cross stitch sampler. Not sure if I need a font enthusiast or a TV industry insider. Thanks so much.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Can you take a screen shot and upload it to the “what the font” web site? That’s how I’ve identified fonts several times.

    2. nobadcats*

      I’ll ask one of my besties, she’s a graphic designer and a font expert, but I strongly suspect this was a one-off by the credit design department. You might be able to take a screenshot and have it transferred onto cross stitch fabric at perhaps a craft shop?

      “Pose” is one of my favorite series. I think I’ve watched it three or four times now.

      And because it’s Pride Month, Billy Porter, “Pose-A-Thon: Love Yourself.” It stars most of the actors and a few of the writers/producers/consultants. Absolutely joyful. https://youtu.be/D-xKAn4qTdo

    3. bassclefchick*

      I did try what the font, but my skills there weren’t great. I’ll browse the Reddit thread, though!

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

    Is anyone honoring the Reddit boycott and then finding themselves a little at sea when they want to Internet? What do you find yourself doing/reading instead?

    The recent updates and asking-for-stories threads here on AAM have been helping me fill the gap a bit.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’ve been having that problem. I’ve spent a lot of time on Not Always Right, and the pettiness thread this week on this site definitely helped. But it has indeed been tricky.

      1. I take tea*

        Not Always Right is my main time waster too. And TV tropes is another super place.
        I also enjoy the Scalzi blog Whatever.

    2. anon24*

      I’ve migrated to Lemmy. It’s a small learning curve, but there’s a lot of redditors there for now. The downside is that with the surge of redditors the servers are struggling so sometimes pages are slow or crash. But I really like it and am not planning on going back to reddit.

    3. Saddy Hour*

      I’ve moved pretty much entirely to the Fediverse/Mastodon! I’m on mindly.social, which I like a lot, but I see other instances that appeal to me literally every day.

      I am feeling very adrift, though! I was previously using the Fediverse to supplement Reddit (I took it off my phone so I’d only see #bloomscrolling at night when I wanted to compulsively scroll). I think Lemmy and Kbit are good alternatives, though they are fairly new and I know some servers are having issues with the influx of new users.

      AAM helps, too! And I’m still on Instagram, since that account has always been very anonymized and I use it primarily to send stupid videos to pals. I’m happy to have divested from things that are super personally-identifying, though.

    4. RedinSC*

      Oh, what? Why should I be avoiding reddit? I don’t go there often, so haven’t been part of knowing what’s up?

      1. Ariaflame*

        I believe the short version is the CEOs tried to monetise by charging stupendous amounts for people who wanted do an app access for it. A lot of reddits went dark (mods made them not visible or something). CEOs think Mr Musk is a good businessman and doubled down. At least one of the reddits upon the CEOs said it wasn’t the moderator’s choice gave their followers? (not sure of the reddit term) the options between ‘go back to normal’ and ‘only post Sexy John Oliver pics’. Guess which won?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        CEO has mandated a extremely expensive new charge for API access that seems designed to kill off third-party apps that pre-dated Reddit’s official app AND are more accessibile. As someone who needs readers to view reddit’s official app, I’m tempted.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m empted to stay away that is. I’m pretty much giving up on the official app anyway: It can’t increase font size, it won’t let users copy text to put into text-to-speech apps, it can’t turn sideways to display a slightly larger view, and it can’t pinch-zoom even.

      3. fposte*

        Reddit decided to skyrocket the price on an interface tool that allows third party functions, including functional support for moderation and apps usable by the visually impaired. The third parties can’t pay the cost so mods have their hands tied and the visually impaired are SOL. Many Reddit subs had a two-day blackout to protest and some are remaining dark or restricted.

        1. Jackalope*

          And by “skyrocket the price”, what I read is that for example the cost will go from $0 to $20 million per year. And this is going into effect a mere 30 days after the announcement. There were many people who felt that a small price increase would be understandable, but a $20 million increase in 30 days is utterly implausible and unaffordable for a small business.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            That is insane. Like, in no plausible reality would even a company like Amazon agree to something like that.

            1. Qwerty*

              That’s kinda the point – to discourage/stop apps from making a high volume of calls. The pricing structure only applies if an average threshold is exceeded, so one report estimated that 90% of apps will continue to have free access. The apps getting hit hard make 84 Billion api calls a year which would cost $5.5 million on Imgur and $70 million on Twitter. Other popular APIs just have hard rate limits. Pricing tiers on APIs are the opposite of buying an item in bulk – the more calls you make, the more expensive each one gets. Kinda like when you don’t want to take on a freelance project so you say it’ll cost a ridiculous fee. It is unlikely that Reddit thinks they are going to get a huge amount of revenue from this, but that their math shows losing a ton of users who exclusively were on the 3rd party apps will increase the value of the remaining users. Mixed with CEO ego-rage after talks in April with 3rd party devs got contentious.

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

        The short version as I understand it is that the owners decided to start charging money for the API, which is basically the raw data that 3rd-party apps utilize to let users interact with reddit in ways that aren’t available via just viewing it through your web browser or using the official reddit app.

        The big reason there’s so much pushback from the community is that the official reddit app has poor functionality when it comes to important tasks like subreddit moderation or accessibility (eg: compatible with screen readers for vision-impaired users).

        On reddit’s side, their motivation for the switch is partially just because they want/need the extra revenue stream, but also because they want to crack down on AI developers who mine the vast wealth of natural human language available there for free and then turn around and make a killing on their AI bots (ChatGPT or what have you).

        1. Sloanicota*

          I don’t want to hijack the thread, but learning that ChatGPT mined Archive of our Own for content makes me wonder wth that thing is learning. (Also of course I feel bad for the writers there who didn’t realize their works would be used that way).

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

            Wow, that probably shouldn’t shock me, but it does, and as a frequent user of AO3, that definitely makes me concerned for what the AI is gonna consider normative.

      5. Zephy*

        Backstory: There are a number of third-party apps, developed by people who are not Reddit employees, built expressly for browsing reddit.com. Apollo is the big one that’s been in the news, but Reddit is Fun (RIF) and Baconreader are sort of the other two of the Big Three third-party Reddit apps. There is an official Reddit app but it has an objectively worse user experience than any of the third-party apps – less content/more ads on any given screen, generally bad. The guy in charge of Reddit has decided to start charging these third-party developers insane amounts of money for access to the content that their apps are built for, so lots of subreddits “went dark” in protest – the moderators of those communities set them to Private, so people not already subscribed to that community could not access the content, and also disabled users’ ability to post new content there. Some of the communities only went dark for 2 days (6/12-6/14), others have remained closed indefinitely. Some of the participating communities are very large, so the hope was that by bringing all of the web traffic that normally comes through those communities to a halt for a few days, it would impact Reddit’s engagement metrics and by extension their bottom line, which is all that matters to these people. It seems to be working, based on how u/spez (the guy in charge of Reddit, I don’t care to commit his real name to memory) is acting in interviews. Now he’s talking about making all kinds of terrible changes to Reddit – I was already planning to just back up all the free content I’ve produced for him over the years for my own files, and then nuke my account, but this has pretty much solidified that decision.

      6. Hlao-roo*

        Search for “vox ongoing reddit blackout explained.” I’m also not often on Reddit and the explainer from Vox was a good overview of what’s happening.

      7. Qwerty*

        People are protesting Reddit’s API no longer being free to 3rd party apps and only a 30day notice being given of the new pricing framework. There was a 2day blackout at the start of the week where subs went private and/or people didn’t use the site, but some people are sticking with it longer.

        Pre-blackout Reddit did make an exemption for non-commercial apps whose focus is accessibility. The official goal of the pricing is to prevent commercial use of Reddit’s data – apparently the blackout did affect sites like Google.

        Not really a Reddit person either, but I have found the news articles interesting.

      8. The Shenanigans*

        long story short, it’s being run by a loon who doesn’t understand what it’s actually FOR. So mods have closed or deleted entire subreddits including huge ones in response.

    5. KTB*

      I am a little adrift! I got signed up for Lemmy and cohost, but haven’t quite found my way around yet. It’s been a busy week so maybe I can poke around a little more this weekend.

    6. NotBatman*

      I resurrected my Tumblr. That and professional forums have been getting me through the day.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      I read up on it and still don’t quite understand the reddit boycott. I didn’t stop using the subreddits that were up, and all the onse that weren’t are back now.
      Was killing time on AAM, Slate, and internet in general meanwhile.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yes. And I’m trying to use it as a “reset”, because clearly I’ve been on reddit too much. Not sure how it’s going so far.

      I am annoyed with Reddit though. There are real accessibility issues, and they’re essentially making it harder/impossible for people with vision issues to use reddit. All for money as far as I can tell. In a perfect world, the government would step in and tell reddit they have 2 options: stop messing with the 3rd party apps or fix their accessibility issues, then go ahead and force them to fix their accessibility issues anyway. The world is not perfect. Maybe the EU will do something because the US government certainly won’t.

    9. RMNPgirl*

      Come on over to Tumblr! There are already memes going around about how we’re accepting Reddit refugees.

    10. Rainy*

      I’ve been reading more books honestly–luckily I’ve been so busy in general that I haven’t really missed it too much.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I never stopped boycotting it since they openly supported sexism and harassment from editors.

    11. MeepMeep123*

      I’m migrating to Lemmy/kbin. I like the federation idea, and it seems like a lot of other folks seem to like it as well, so I’m hoping that some viable communities spring up. The only thing that I really miss is the ZeroCOVID group, which is very active and supportive on Reddit, and which doesn’t appear to exist elsewhere. I intend to start one once I feel a bit more comfortable on Lemmy.

    12. Joron Twiner*

      I’m giving Squabbles a try. The name and icon are not cute at all but developing team isn’t pro-authoritarian communism like lemmy…

  6. Midlife Newbie*

    Has anyone uprooted and started over later in life? I’m American but will be moving to Europe with my European spouse and our little kids. I know that financially it’s the right decision, and the quality of life for my kids will be better, and there are more supports for us when we get older but the idea of fully starting over in my late 30s/early 40s is really consuming my thoughts and filling me with a bit of dread.
    I’m worried about not having a career or friends. We lived in England for a bit about a decade ago and though I tried my absolute darndest, I could not make a single English friend while we were there but I did make some friends with others who were only temporarily there.

    I always knew that we were eventually going to make the move but it felt like a faraway thing but now with the kids getting older, the clock is ticking and it’s starting to feel really real. We’ll be making the move sometime in the next 2-4 years and now instead of feeling excitement I’m feeling a bit of dread. I’d love to hear of others experiences; positive, neutral, or negative.

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

      Some places are easier to make friends in than others. I lived in one area of the country where I did not make a single friend (except another out-of-stater), so I feel for you with your England experience. On the other hand, my parents and I lived in a small South American city for one year in the early 1970s, and they made friends there whom they kept for the rest of their lives. If you’re moving somewhere where the people are open to making new friends, I think you’ll be okay on that score!

    2. Lionheart26*

      I am just starting my 19th year living overseas. Every 5ish years something happens that results in us packing up again and going somewhere new, so I’m familiar with the feeling you’re talking about! The settling-in curve is LONG and I think it takes longer the older I get (I’m 40 now) and the more introverted I get. But I wouldn’t trade it, once you reach that point where a place feels like home, there is really something so special about learning to love and embrace another location and culture.

      There’s nothing wrong with making a friend group from others like you who are new or temporary. You all have a shared experience of coming to a new place. And if you keep welcoming other “newbies” the circle changes a lot over time, but that keeps it interesting. I’m not very sociable and not a great participant in big group outings, but usually I find that after a year or so I make a few really strong connections/friendships.

      Friends with locals is harder, and takes time no matter where you go. In my experience it takes a few years, but eventually you get there. Maybe you have a friendly neighbour, or maybe one of your foreigner friends has a local friend that you get to know, and then suddenly BAM you’re in and invited to Zoroastrian new year at Grandma’s house. That’s when you realise that this place you never could imagine yourself in is suddenly home.

      I tell my husband every time, if we hate it, we can just go somewhere else, BUT you can’t decide you hate it until we’ve been there 2 years. And every time, he says he hates it, but by the time 2 years rolls around and he has found a job and friends and started his vege patch, he always wants to stay.

      Enjoy it!

    3. herbaceous!*

      I moved to England when I was ~37. Although I was only there temporarily, I did manage to make English friends. For me, it was via shared sports (rock climbing and rowing). In general, I find it much harder to make friends the older I get. I’m nearly 60 now and have almost no friends at all, although I have moved back to my natal country.

    4. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I’m American and moved to Canada with my Canadian husband and our two kids. Even though the culture is not as different as lots of other places would be, it’s still been an adjustment. Career and friends, well, I’m still working on those too. With younger kids you do have a chance to connect with their classmates’ parents (unless that works very differently than it does here? I wouldn’t know). I don’t regret it though, it’s a big relief to not have to deal with certain awful aspects of US life and politics and for me that is worth a lot.

      1. Midlife Newbie*

        I think there will be a lot of relief of certain things which will be good and a big reason we’re going. Did you find your American working experience transferred over easily to Canada?

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          Yes, quite easily. I’m a librarian and the expectation here is the same as in the US – MLS from an ALA-accredited university. I think there is a specific diploma/certification that is needed for library technician positions that isn’t common in the US, and other professions like of course medical, engineering, etc. have certification requirements that I’m not really familiar with. From what I have seen with myself and my husband (works in tech) resumes, interviews, hiring all work about the same as we saw in the US.

    5. nobadcats*

      My ex-husband I moved to Saigon in um… 2005? I came back to the States without husband in 2008.

      Making friend in Vietnam is pretty easy, just lovely people in general. A few things I recommend:

      1) Don’t hang out with ex-pats too much. You’ll find all the little irritations and inconveniences of living in and getting used to a whole ‘nother place will become magnified and eventually lead to frustration and resentment.
      2) Do go to local shops and strike up conversations with the shopkeepers and other customers (if you share a common language). Might be a little VN-specific.
      3) After about a year, it’s just the place where you live. It was for me.
      4) Try everything and go everywhere. Food, festivals, parties, et. al. even if you’re a natural introvert like me.
      5) For careers, I don’t have much advice for that bit. I taught English to small people, obvious choice in SE Asia.
      6) Find a fixer. It’s probably different in Europe. But in Saigon, we had a guy who would do our visas (properly), another guy who helped us find a house, and a few more people who just had a particular talent for finding someone else who could help us with stuff. Like, when my laptop sprang a sprung, our friend Thuy was like, “Go to this street, and this shop, tell them I sent you, and they’ll fix it for you. No ‘Madame price, no bargaining.'”

      I wish you great happiness in this move.

    6. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I can relate to always being ‘the outsider’. My husband and I lived in a small college town that doubled in population over the 19 years we lived there after graduation. And we *still* couldn’t break into the townie social circle! We were afraid it would be more of the same elsewhere. We took a deep breath, moved, and found new friends almost immediately in the new place. It really was the local culture.

      We found joining special interest clubs and going out into the parks with our dogs helped a lot. It only took the locals a few weeks to interact with us once they figured out we were new.

    7. Expat in Germany*

      My husband and I ping-ponged between the states and Germany a few times before settling on Germany, so I guess I have done it. Our kid was born after moving, though, so I’ve never done it with kids. If I had to guess, I’d expect after to be easier because the kids will make friends and then you have their parents to chat with regularly. That doesn’t guarantee a friendship, of course, but it increases the chances!

      In general: making friends can be SO REGIONAL. Don’t think that where you are moving now will be the same socially as where you lived before. I’ve lived in towns here where making friends felt impossible and where I am now, I basically made immediate friends.

      Also: if you are moving to a country where you do not speak the language, or at least not natively, learn the language. Learn it as best and as long as you can and keep going! I’ve met so many Americans here who learn German to about B1 or B2 and then stop. That’s enough to have superficial conversations and operate well, also important certainly, but not enough to have deeper friendships in my experience.

      Good luck! You can do it!

      1. Midlife Newbie*

        Thank you so much! Luckily I do speak the language so that’s at least one hurdle I don’t need to navigate.

    8. Jasmine Tea*

      Start making a list of things you might want to learn. How to cook local dishes, gardening tips for the local climate. The local history. Find opportunities to ask casually. Sooner or later you will find someone who will love to share/answer questions.
      If you are not going to be working would you be able to spend a little time doing volunteer work?
      Don’t be in too much of a hurry. If you are going to the continent and not England then try to learn the language! It took me three years to really feel at home in Taiwan. A big part of that is because I had to learn Mandarin. How happy I was when I told a joke in Chinese, and my friends actually understood it! I’ve been here 30 years now, and I am really 台北人!

    9. I'm an immigrant, not an ex-pat*

      I moved to Ireland when I was 33 with my Irish husband. It was hard to get a job at first because recruiters and hiring managers assumed I was not eligible to work or was not staying here long-term. I put on my CV that I held an Irish passport and addressed it in cover letters. I also took a couple of short-term contracts just to get some Ireland-based experience on my CV, and that ultimately helped me land my first full-time, permanent position.

      While the logistics of moving with kids might be harder, I’d say that it might make finding a community easier, because of the built-in school communities. We had a kid after we moved to a small community, and having a kid in school definitely made things easier. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and feel like you’re part of the community.

      Moving to Ireland was definitely one of the best things I’ve done. The quality of life improvements were huge. I don’t need a lot of friends, and I’ve managed to pick up a few really good ones. We settled in a great, quiet place.

      Feeling dread of the unknown is completely normal. Can you make a couple of scouting trips to where you might live to get some concrete information to base your decisions and plans on?

      1. Midlife Newbie*

        Thank you so much for the specific work advice. Did you try to go through a head hunter or how did you find the contract positions? I’m interested in potentially going back to school to make myself more employable when we go there, but I wonder if there are specific services for helping immigrants get placed at jobs.

    10. Ally*

      I have moved to a small town in Sweden and it has been really difficult in some ways. The best thing was taking a Swedish language class and I made some friends that way- language classes tend to make people feel quite vulnerable (because you feel so stupid as a beginner!) and that felt like we became friends faster than we normally would have.
      I also found I just felt more settled and at-home once I could at least read the street signs, so that’s two points for language classes.
      My other tip is making regular shops, regular bus routes etc, and you start to meet familiar faces.
      I agree with the others here- hopefully with kids, you will get automatic connections with other parents? Good luck!

      1. Ally*

        Oh also, I wanted to add- my family moved overseas when my brother and I were teenagers – I think it would have been much easier if we’d moved a few years earlier. When you’re a teenager you really need your friend group, and it was very hard and confusing to leave them.

        1. Ariaflame*

          That depends on the teenager. I moved to Australia when I was 14 and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I didn’t have a friend group where I originally was and was largely ostracised, so having a fresh start was actually better.

          1. Anne Shirley*

            With teenagers, it really is a tossup. I moved to the States with my family at 14 and really struggled and have continued to struggle. I hope to move somewhere else in near future and have a fresh start like you did.

            1. Midlife Newbie*

              I had to switch high schools when I was 16 and it was horrendous, two of the loneliest years of my life and that was only one city over. We want to move before our oldest is eight, but maybe even before they are six. The timeline is fluid but still within the next few years so it’s easier for the kids to adapt.

    11. Midlife Movers*

      My spouse and I moved from the U.S. to Canada in our late 40s. We had no family connections in the place where we moved to. Things that helped the transition, or would have helped if we’d been wiser:

      If you don’t already have a basic facility with the language in your destination area, start language classes now, to help you get over the most immediate and constant aspect of culture shock.
      As part of your daily internet browsing, include some time to read a news outlet local to your destination town. If you keep this up, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll recognize in local government, weather, geography, economy, culture, etc., once you’re there on the ground. Again, helps you with getting through culture shock on arrival.
      Try as hard as you can to secure your legal authorization to work and/or study before you arrive. Obtain an assessment of your American credentials and qualifications, so that you know what extra education and training you’ll need to be able to work somewhat near the same professional level you’re at now. (This is called an Educational Credential Assessment in Canada, I think it’s a Recognition of Qualifications in France — different countries, professions, and universities will call it different things, but be aware that you may need it before entering school or a licensing program.) In any event, finding a job, even if it’s a few steps below your current one, will help you meet new circles of people and keep you from feeling isolated at home.
      Invite a neighbour or colleague or two to your home for a 4th of July cookout and American Thanksgiving. We always try to invite people over for the Superbowl, too, though the response is usually, “What? The Grey Cup was months ago and hockey’s still on.”
      Embrace the opportunity to clear out your house, move with as few belongings and furnishings as possible, and start afresh.

      1. Midlife Newbie*

        I love this! My sister lives in Europe with her husband (different country than where we are headed unfortunately) and for years they had a superbowl party that was a hit with their local friends.

    12. BKB*

      I don’t have experience with moving to a new country, but I do have a book rec. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come, by Jessica Pan. It’s a memoir about making new friends as an introverted American living in London with her English husband.

    13. Pamela Adams*

      Your spouse did this, coming to the US. Asking them about how it was for them might get you useful information.

      1. Midlife Newbie*

        We’ve definitely talked about it but we’re very, very different people. I’m very extroverted and want to have a sense of community where I go, where he’s very introverted and a homebody but we’re both very family oriented :)

    14. Venus*

      I would recommend living in a community that has people moving in and out of it at least occasionally. Large cities tend to have a lot of change so someone from a new country won’t be a novelty, although some suburbs in those cities could be the same residents for decades so it’s hard to know without asking around. I lived for a few years in a part of a city where people stayed in the same home for years, and I had nice neighbors yet I only made a couple friends and they were with work. In the years since that experience I’ve tried to think about what I would do differently, and I would now only move to places that were used to new neighbors.

      1. Midlife Newbie*

        This is my plan, we’re looking at moving to a city as opposed to my spouses’ rural hometown where I think it would be really hard to break into people’s worlds outside of his immediate family.

        1. Venus*

          Sounds like you’ve already thought about the most important thing! You’re smarter than I was :)

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Find “your thing” and the people who do it in your new place. If you’re working alongside someone on a common goal it helps.

      College friends who moved from USC to Europe then to another country in Europe got involved with local community theatre and music.

      When my husband & I went to EU for a fixed-term project we found a games community–everything from chess to D&D, and my husband ran some D&D adventures so their usual GM could play.

      If we go back I’ll volunteer at a local history site…. it’s near universal that people are glad to get someone else to do the boring chores, right?

    16. Rainstorm*

      I have moved country twice, and have settled down happily in the second place. I definitely found that it took years to make friends who are from that place themselves. I disagree a little with one commenter who said not to hang out with ex-pats too much … In the first couple years here, I made 3 friends who were also from other countries, and we had a great time. We were not an insular group though, we were all interested in making local friends and integrating into the local feel of the place. (Speaking in the past tense because two have since moved away. One is still a good friend. I have ‘local’ friends now too ) I met two of these fellow foreigners in a Meetup group. I highly recommend joining a few meetup groups and trying them out. Some might not feel right for you, but you can find groups that a) help you get out and socialise when you know no-one, and b) eventually help you make friends. Very best of luck for when/if you make the move.

    17. Bobina*

      Possibly a bit late to this, but advice from a friend who moved to a new country which I used when I did the same: early on, you should become a “Yes” person. Whenever someone invites you to something or asks if you want to try X – just say yes. I did this for probably the first year when I was new, and I think its helpful to be really intentional and acknowledge that you might do some random things that arent what you would typically do, but can be the random event where you meet someone who turns into your new best friend. In a similar vein, dont be afraid to do things on your own.

      Its also going to be really hard – and for me I find it helpful to acknowledge that starting afresh at an older age is 100% not easy and its okay to feel a bit down/depressed/homesick sometimes.

      Try and use technology to your advantage if you can. Friend making apps (Bumble BFF especially if you are a woman), Meetups, Facebook groups (not my favourite but depending on area, they can be a goldmine) are good ways to narrow down people who are actively looking to make new friends.

      And finally, its okay if not everyone you meet is an instant friend (or becomes a permanent friend). I’ve lived in my current city for 7 years, and while I felt lucky to meet 3 people early on in my time here who I could spend time with, after about a year, I realised 2 of them werent actually good fits and slowly ended up losing touch. Personally, I’ve found making friends as an adult a really intersting way to realise that sometimes people really are in your life for just a season – but that doesnt make them any less meaningful. I still look back fondly on those people as helping me adjust to life in my new city!

    18. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      Pulled up stakes and left the US for Sweden almost 15 years ago, just before I turned 40. I moved here to be with my (now ex-) wife, but have been on my own for more than a decade here.

      I don’t think my experience will have much to inform yours, since the stress of dealing with the migration authority for longer than should have been necessary took a toll on my social life (as did the pandemic right after all those issues were resolved) but I will say that despite all that, I don’t regret the choice I have made for a single minute. Your mileage will likely vary for the better given that you have a support system already in place, and more opportunities to socialize and be part of a community through them.

      But yes – do take every opportunity to learn the language and involve yourself in activities you may not have even considered before. And get to know your neighborhood and your town/city on days when you don’t have anything else planned.

  7. Industry Behemoth*

    A movie you decided not to see, after reading the book?

    I read Women Talking first, to be certain I could follow the movie. Then I didn’t see it because I just couldn’t fathom the women actually leaving. They couldn’t read or write, and they’d never been outside their own community. How would they realistically make it in the outside world?

    A friend passed up the movie The Bridges of Madison County. She felt that no movie could possibly do justice to the book.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      The Giver. It’s one of my all-time favorite books and I refuse to watch some “let’s cash in on the YA dystopian trend way after it’s peaked” adaptation.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I read The Giver series within the last 5 or 10 years. Enjoyed it. Had zero desire to watch the film when it came out. Not refused but entirely unnecessary.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      “Beloved.” I couldn’t see how a movie could catch the feel of the book.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Well, I never read the book, but I absolutely loved the movie and would highly recommend it!

        I understand that it was something of a box office disappointment, probably due to some preconceived ideas about what it would be like, as well as latent racism on a large part of the movie-going public. I hate to say this, but I think a different marketing campaign would have helped. If they had promoted it more strongly as a “supernatural thriller” I think it would have performed better. But still, go so it sometime if you get the chance.

      1. Squidhead*

        GoT because I can stomach reading about things like the Red Wedding or Reek, but no way I want to watch it on screen.

        Did watch the first season of WoT and it wasn’t perfect but I enjoyed it. The first episode was hard to get through (visceral gore & terror are my main issues and I also find long combat sequences intensely boring) but there was a better balance in other episodes. It’s like they thought they needed to lead with the action/adventure (to be fair, it does set the story in motion) but there are [spoilers] that would have been equally appealing.

        1. Jay*

          With me, the issue is that I am an enormously fast reader when I set down and tuck into a book.
          All those long expositiony pieces fly by in a minute or so while I am reading. They are less fun when it’s just people talking in a garden for like nine episodes straight, interspersed with as much soft core porn as HBO would let them get away with.
          With Wheel Of Time, there is just so MUCH, I just can’t imagine how they are going to do this and not make it either have nothing to do with the book, or make it a horrible slog. The first book alone is long enough to anchor an entire modern series. They would have to go back to the old fashioned type of tv series were there were like 40 episodes a season and it was fine if it went a month or more without advancing the plot (Hell, that was usually the best part!). It would still have to go like 15 seasons.

      2. Rainy*

        The WoT series has written itself into so many corners through the first season alone that I’m not sure how it’s going to rescue itself. My husband, who is a lot younger than me, never read the books and really enjoyed season one, and I kept saying “But…how are they going to…what? No!”

        But what the hell, I’ll watch Rosamund Pike do literally anything, thank you very much, and I also do not mind looking at Daniel Henney (been a fan of both for a minute), so I’ll ride it out for a while on sheer hotness.

    3. Amanda*

      The movie based on the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. Loved the books. My understanding was that they got the names right.

      Ready Player One. When I was done reading it, I felt like Ramona Quincy giving her book report — I still can’t believe I read the whole thing.

        1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          Funny that you would mention Ramona, because I grew up on and love Beverly Cleary’s books and could never bear to see them dramatized. They couldn’t possibly compare.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Ramona’s books are so internal. The whole point is not the events (which are relatively mundane), but her point of view and feelings. That’s the hardest kind of story to adapt well.

            1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

              That’s an excellent point. I know that Cleary wouldn’t allow them to be dramatized for most of her life. I wonder if that’s why and if she regretted finally allowing it.

            2. AGD*

              I loved the books! I didn’t love the 1980s TV series – Sarah Polley was wonderful, but I agree that not being in Ramona’s head took a lot of the charm out of it. I also found some of the stories really hard to follow, for some reason.

      1. Amey*

        Ha, I was going to post The Dark is Rising too! Book was and is formative for me, when the movie came out, I read a blistering LiveJournal takedown of it and vowed to avoid it for life.

        1. UKDancer*

          Same. I really liked the book series growing up. The films sounded awful, so I didn’t bother and don’t want to watch it.

          Also I loved Margaret Mahy’s book “The Changeover” They’ve made a film and I’m not sure if I want to watch it or not because I don’t think it will be nearly as good.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Oh, have they? I adore that book! Am hesitant to watch any film based on it because there’s so many ways to mess it up.

      2. Rainy*

        Oh lord, do not watch the movie. Moving the location from the Thames Valley to upstate NY or whatever the fuck it was did it ZERO favours. Ian McShane does some lovely scenery chewing but noshing on some flats does not a film make. I was SO EXCITED when I heard they were in production and SO DISAPPOINTED with what came out.

    4. askalice*

      For completely different reasons to most on this thread – American Psycho. Brett Easton Ellis is an amazing writer and the book is brilliant and yet absolutely horrific subject material – I have zero interest in seeing a dramatised version of that horror show. fascinating read tho. I’ve always been able to read much stronger material than I can watch/listen to.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Oh yes, I can completely understand that!
        I used to read a lot of Stephen Kind and whilst I greatly enjoyed his writing – especially his short stories because I’ve felt most of his novels had a weak resolution/end but short stories are allowed to just stop – but watching adaptations always felt so much harder.
        I think it might be a combination of my mental image not being as detailed and all encompassing as a film scene would be, and the option of simply putting the book away to pick up later if a scene is too gruesome for me in the moment. Harder – though not impossible – to do with a film.

    5. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      The Outlander series.
      I had enjoyed the books very much and had also enjoyed the mental images my brain had come up with whilst reading them. And I just didn’t want to have those images overwritten by an adaptation, as would have definitely happened.
      So I’ve stayed as far away from it as I can :D

      1. AGD*

        This is why I never saw the movie of The Golden Compass. I’ve been going back and forth on whether to watch the new BBC adaptation of the whole trilogy – it looks amazing, but I’m so attached to how everything from that world looks in my head.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          The new TV series is really good, although I haven’t watched the 3rd season yet. Not perfect but overall the casting is great and they’ve stayed true enough to the books that I’m not offended lol

    6. BookMom*

      Girl with the Dragon Tattoo… I can’t stomach anything too graphically violent on film, whereas reading the book I could focus more on the mystery and the character development. Book was recommended by my elderly grandmother, which was a bit perplexing as she usually leans towards westerns and historical romances.

    7. Helvetica*

      Basically anything that could be done from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, since I cannot believe they could translate that magic onto the screen. So much of his world building is based on emotions and feelings that he describes absolutely breathtakingly and I worry any adaptation would fall flat. So, the only movie I know, is “Love in the time of cholera”, and they are apparently making a Netflix series for “One hundred years of solitude”, which is my favourite book, and I will skip those both.
      On the other side, I thought “Atonement” could not work as a movie and yet, it does so supremely.

    8. Nitpicker*

      Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I knew the sense of listening to a legend being told would be lost.
      I was looking forward to seeing A Wrinkle in Time but got warned off by the PR and the reviews.
      (A related topic would be the movies based on books I loved that I wish I hadn’t seen. Next week?)

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Nothing could possibly match the version that’s been in my head for more than half a century.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Wrinkle in Time was SO disappointing. Visually beautiful and a great cast but they wasted it all by completely missing some really deep and crucial aspects of the book.

      3. allathian*

        I agree that The Hobbit movies are a bit of a disappointment, there was no need to stretch the story to three movies and the endless battles get tedious after a while. But I was utterly enchanted by LotR. It may have helped that I read the book after I’d seen the first movie, so most of my internal vision follows Peter Jackson’s pretty closely, but there’s so much more material that he didn’t touch on in those movies, so plenty for me to imagine, too.

        No movie adaptation is ever going to be exactly like the book, because books and movies are different media with different strengths and limitations. I also don’t mind minor modifications to the story to make the number of characters more reasonable (omitting Tom Bombadil was totally reasonable, IMO, although I’m glad they gave some of his lines to Treebeard instead). But YMMV, of course.

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          I love both books and movies (LOTR, not so much the Hobbit in either book or movies). They still feel like separate experiences to me…. I don’t picture the actors when reading the book because the book is so stylized in its writing at times, and I read it first.

          Great casting though, including for The Hobbit, and the visuals worked for me – maybe because they hired some of the Tolkein artists I was familiar with the help with questions like “what does Minas Tirith look like”.

    9. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      The Handmaid’s Tale. The casting was so different from what was in my head, I just couldn’t get past it to watch it. It’s one of my favorite books.

    10. Samwise*

      Not answering your question here —

      But lots of women who can’t read or write etc leave home every day and cross borders and oceans and continents. Because they know they must.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I turned off “Catherine Called Birdie” very quickly. In the book she’s kind-hearted but cluelessly self-centered. The movie made her such an arrogant bully that I knew it would ruin the book’s charm for me. (My last straw was when movie-Birdie was nasty to PERKIN!)

    12. Elle*

      Station Eleven is one for me. I enjoyed the book but didn’t need to revisit it. I had the opposite reaction with Power of the Dog. Loved the book and couldn’t wait to see how it played out in screen.

    13. anon24*

      Not a movie, but a TV show, and to be fair, I gave season 1 a fair shot. The Witcher. The books and games are my favorite thing ever. I love them, think they are a beautiful yet incredibly harsh painful story with characters who are realistic and flawed. Watched season 1 and was like “wha- what did you do? None of this makes sense! This is not how these people act!!!” Saw the trailer for season 2 and tapped out. I’ve had people ask me why certain things happen in season 2, knowing I’ve read the books multiple times and I’m like “idk man, none of that is in the books, that’s not even close to the story, I have no answers for you.” The writers reportedly hated the books and the games, so I don’t know why they were involved. If you don’t want to follow the story, just make a story set in the world. Even Henry Cavill, the lead actor left because they were so far from the plot.

    14. Person from the Resume*

      I read the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton because I wanted to read it before watching the George Clooney adaptation The Midnight Sky in 2020. I had not heard of it before. I finished the book but disliked it enough that I decided I didn’t want to see the movie.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House series. That’s one of my favorite novels of all time, and has already had one really good movie made from it (The 1963 one, NOT that 1990s abomination.) I considered it for a minute but once I saw how different it was from the book I noped out. I, in fact, resent that they used the Hill House name on it, it’s so Not How The Book Was.

    16. Vampires Should Not Sparkle*

      I made the mistake of reading the first Twilight book after a friend raved about it…I did not bother with any of the other books or the movies because I was gobsmacked by how bad it was. I kept wanting to stop but I had to keep going to see if it improved. I couldn’t believe something so poorly written was so popular.

  8. SparklePlenty*

    Midlife Newbie, ex-military and ex-military-spouse here. I’d recommend seeking out universities or mayyyybe military installations if you’re looking for American friends.
    I’ve found that even in the States friendliness and striking up friendships is not easy! Best wishes that you find some great people!

  9. Exchange host*

    Has anyone ever hosted an international high school foreign exchange student? I’d love to hear your experiences, if you’d like to share. I’m pretty much on board with it, and I’m going through CIEE. Comments about your experiences with that company are welcome as well.

    1. Peggy, not Peg*

      We hosted several short term students (2 weeks to a month) for many years before taking the plunge to host a high school girl for the academic year through AFS.

      She was interested in sports so we got in touch with the soccer coach and got her on the team. Practice started 2 weeks before school started, so it was great for her to at least know someone she could sit with during lunch those first few weeks.

      Our high school was very flexible and let her take 11th grade English (American Literature) even though she was technically in 12th grade (English literature). They also let her take both 11th and 12th grade gym (she really liked sports). They also let her take American Cuisine despite not have the prerequisite class.

      AFS was a great organization to work with. They had orientation for the students and host families the moment they arrived and then a month before they went home. AFS hosted trips to New York City, Washington DC, and Niagara Falls. I imagine CIEE has similar practices.

      Overall, our student was a great fit for our family and she took school seriously. We are still in touch 4 years later.

    2. Generic Name*

      Aw, do it! My childhood best friend’s family had lots of foreign exchange students over the years. The parents are in touch with all of them, and I’m in touch with one of them like 25 years later.

    3. Rara Avis*

      When I was in high school, we hosted a summer visitor. It was tough because she was not a good match for our family (country mice/city mouse situation).

    4. Helvetica*

      I am in Europe, so the programs are presumably different but we did it when I was in uni, and I still call him my other “brother”. It was a good match personality-wise, and my parents are very reasonable. The major thing I would say is – sometimes just let them be. Don’t fill all of their time with activities, don’t maximise socialisation but leave room for them to be alone. Some families in the program did not and struggled with their children but as long as you treat them just as you would your own children, that gets you the best outcome.

    5. California Dreamin’*

      We hosted a student through AFS when I was in high school, and it was super positive. He was a great match for our family. I’m an only child, so that was the closest I could get to having a sibling and I Loved it. He had a very open, curious personality and really thrived here as well. 30+ years later we’re still in close touch and have seen him a bunch of times over the years.

    6. just another queer reader*

      My family hosted an exchange student when I was in high school (she and I were the same age) and we had a really good time.

    7. Jackalope*

      From the other side, I WAS an exchange student in high school and had a really good experience with my two host families (the one major downside was that my first host mother had some serious health problems while I was there so I had to switch families for a bit). It’s been almost 30 years and I’m still in close touch with one family, and occasional touch with the other one. We also had some exchange students live with us for awhile when I was in high school and early college. One of them wasn’t super compatible with our family so that was a bit trickier (although still fine). The other two mixed in great.

    8. Exchange host*

      Thank you all for your comments! I appreciate your insights. I’m looking forward to hosting (I’m a single host parent), and am just waiting for the local high school to approve. The company has to go through the principal, and he hasn’t responded to their communications. I sent him a respectful request as well, so hopefully, that helps. It’s pretty rural here, so there aren’t too many options.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I did a 2 week exchange to France when I was about 15. I thought it went well, but when the French students were coming to the UK in return, the girl I had stayed with dropped out only a couple of days before. So another girl I didn’t know was going to stay with my family instead.

        If not quite a disaster, it was hard work. She had only been learning English for a couple of months, so wouldn’t answer questions. Then when I tried in French, she would barely speak. She would decide to attend events (local youth club disco, or after-school sports events with the other exchange students) without checking my parents could provide lifts, and since this was in the days before mobile phones, it was harder to coordinate.

        But my major memory was that she wouldn’t eat much of my Mum’s (very good) cooking, and even when Mum tried to offer alternatives, she wouldn’t accept. After she left, the rubbish bin was stuffed full of chocolate and biscuit wrappers!

  10. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Anyone here into formula one racing? My spouse and I have been watching for many years and have been a long time Lewis Hamilton fans. I would like to see him get the Pole position during tomorrow’s qualifying. Who are you rooting for?

    1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Anyone besides Verstappen

      Have you watched the Netflix series, Drive to Survive? It’s a fascinating behind the scenes look at Formula 1

    2. Arya Parya*

      Yes, been following it for years. I’m rooting for Verstappen. I know he’s not popular everywhere, but he is here in his (and my) country. 2021 was not a good year for my blood pressure.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      My husband and kid are into F1 and I am kind of tangentially. Faves in our house are Charles Leclerc, George Russell, and Lewis Hamilton.

      I like to make snacks based on where the race is – that’s about as involved as I get. Had a lot of fun earlier in the season finding obscure and interesting Qatari or Azerbajani food to make. Struggled with Canada but am thinking “beavertail” pastry/donuts would be fun.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I considered it but cheese curds aren’t a thing where we live and I’m really bad at making gravy. maybe I will be more brave next year!

    4. Little Beans*

      Just became a fan after watching drive to survive, and now pretty into it! I always root for the underdog – I just want to see interesting racing, and Verstappen winning every week is not interesting to me. My favorite races of the last few years were the ones where Perez went from 20th to win the race, and Gasly’s win.

    5. FACS*

      I’m a solid Perez fan but seeing Alonzo up on the podium with Hamilton was great. Here we think that rooting for Verstappen is like rooting for the Death Star. On the other hand, both kids, the hubs, and my father now can recognize the national anthem of the Netherlands.

    6. allathian*

      I used to be, but I haven’t watched in years. The last season I watched every race was 2007 when Kimi Räikkönen won, although I first became aware of the sport in 1982 when I was 10, and Keke Rosberg won the championship without winning a single race. I’m happy if Valtteri Bottas gets on the podium, though.

      I find it very boring if the same guy keeps winning the race too often.

      I wish they’d do what they do in some lower tier races and “women’s F1” (W), namely have everyone racing in identical cars. The winner should be the most skillful driver, rather than the richest team.

  11. MP*

    Has anyone had any success with using Prozac in cats? My cat has been off since my daughter was born almost two years ago. He developed a bladder blockage shortly after she was born and has been peeing outside the box since. We’ve worked with a very good behaviorist multiple times and been to the vet and done diagnostics multiple times. Our vet finally said he might just need a new environment but as much as I want him to be happy I really really do not want to dump him on a rescue and haven’t had any luck asking family and friends. Our vet said there are a few other meds she can try for inappropriate peeing but she’s had the most success with Prozac.

    1. Cats peeing*

      There’s a research article by BL Hart about Buspirone being effective to stop cats from peeing outside the box. It doesn’t have the dependency or ataxia issues of Valium. Not sure about Prozac. The research showed the cats can pee appropriately while on the medication and then be weaned off and the desired behavior tends to stay.

      1. MP*

        Oh that’s great to know! I’ll give the Prozac a shot but if that doesn’t work I’ll ask about Buspirone. Thank you!

      2. Anthology*

        We had an anxious pee-er on Valium back in the early aughts, but the ataxia made it unsustainable. She was falling constantly. I’m thrilled to hear that there are better options now.

    2. anon24*

      TLDR: Yes, it helped my cat, but it helped him calm down so we could work through the behavioral problems, so if a behavioralist wasn’t able to help you, it might not help your cat.

      We ended up using Prozac on our cat after he stopped using the litter box due to me being extremely stressed (he echoes my emotions to the point it’s creepy) and then us gearing up for months for a long distance move and slowly packing up our apartment in stages over several months. We were at our wits end and put him on the Prozac after the vet cleared him medically. It helped calm him down a little, but ultimately it was still very much behavioral and he needed us to change things around and work with him. We kept him on it as a buffer while we worked through things and figured out what worked – sort of like going on anti-depressants while you attend therapy to work through your problems. For him we were able to figure out that if he had access to a mat (litter mat, bath mat) or bathroom floor for some reason his brain had decided that was his bathroom. We started religiously closing all bathroom doors, removed all mats and litter mats, and basically cut off access to anywhere he preferred to toilet. He stayed on the Prozac for awhile after he started using the litter box again and then we took him off it and it was about 6 months before we started giving him access to the bathrooms again. It’s been about a year and (fingers crossed) so far so good.

      1. MP*

        What a unique situation hahah. I’m glad you were able to figure something out. Thanks for the input, I appreciate it!

    3. Double A*

      Yes, after one my my cats died the remaining cat started over grooming to the point of baldness. Prozac helped disrupt that behavior and by the time she figured out how I was sneaking the pills and stopped eating them, it has been disrupted for good and she didn’t have the issue again. So for her it was very successful.

      1. Mztery1*

        Not us but good friends…their kitty was on Prozac for many years and it helped inappropriate peeing, general anxiety and she because a relatively sociable cat after avoiding strangers for many years. My friends felt it was a miracle they drug for her.

      2. MP*

        Awww poor kitty missing her friend. I’m so happy the Prozac worked for her hopefully we will have similar results thanks for the input!

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I had a cat who had litterbox issues, and it traced back to anxiety/mental issues. In the end, the cat died. She stopped eating, and while we couldn’t find anything wrong I also couldn’t get her to eat. So I put her down.

      We did try medication. It helped from the standpoint of she stopped peeing on the house, but it didn’t help from the standpoint that she was fundamentally unhappy. It sucked and I will probably always feel bad about how everything went. The whole mess was started because another cat died of old age.

      1. MP*

        Ugh that’s such a tough situation I’m so sorry. We actually had a cat like that a while back, she was afraid of EVERYTHING and at the time I didn’t know enough to ask the vet for Prozac or anything similar. Once we moved it was too much for her and she wouldn’t eat either. Hopefully since this cat was ok before the baby came the Prozac will help but who knows. I appreciate you sharing your experience!

    5. Cat and dog fosterer*

      The rescue has a cat that was owner surrender due to peeing when a child was born into the family. He peed outside the litter box on arrival with his foster and I wasn’t hopeful but the vet tried Clomicalm and it works so well! I think the rescue will have to be very careful about finding a quiet forever home without any chance of babies, so you may yet need to rehome yours, but at least there are medication options that help.

      Clomicalm is meant for separation anxiety in dogs so I don’t know why the vet tried it for this cat although I assume the original owners tried the obvious medications first. It works so well that if a dose is missed he will pee outside the box the next day (it only happened once when the vet couldn’t refill the prescription). It would be nice if he wasn’t so dependent, yet it clearly showed the link in effectiveness.

    6. DataSci*

      Not sure if it was actual Prozac, but our vet prescribed what she called “Kitty prozac” when one of our cats died and the other developed a urinary blockage and inappropriate peeing. (Urinary blockage can be rapidly fatal in cats, especially males. Cats who suddenly star peeing outside the box or start peeing altogether should get checked out ASAP. We caught ours in time to prevent kidney damage, but he’s on prescription food for the rest of his life to prevent a recurrence.) It worked very well. If your cat is typical and won’t take a pill, ask for a liquid formulation, either one you can mix with wet food or one in an ointment you can rub in its ear (which sounds weird but is what worked for us).

      1. MP*

        Oh my gosh yes this is exactly what happened to him! Except when the blockage was fixed he still peed outside the box but they didn’t put him on the Prozac right away. So so happy it worked for your cat!

        1. MP*

          Oh also yes we ordered the topical from wedgewood! No way will I be able to successfully give him oral meds daily lol.

        2. Life Day*

          “Except when the blockage was fixed he still peed outside the box”

          Yes, that’s bc he developed the association of litterbox = pain. So, of course he is going to avoid the place where it hurts to pee. I assume he is also on a crystal diet to prevent further blockages?

          You need all new litterboxes in all new places, places that he doesn’t associate with peeing and pain.

    7. FalafalBella*

      My daughter’s cat is on prozac and it has helped tremendously with “box” issues. My kitty is on gabapentin for the same concern (easily stressed, urinary issues) and this works really well as well. Medicine can be your cat’s friend- please give it a try- the cat will be happier and so will you.

  12. herbaceous!*

    On a whim I bought some fresh tarragon. I threw some in a salad which was good, but I have too much to fully salad it. I see there’s a lot of chicken tarragon recipes, but I don’t eat much meat. Anything else I can do? Does it dry?
    In general, what do you do with herbs? I love a very herby pizza, and foccacia. And I throw a lot of herbs in pasta sauce and in falafel. When I was young my mother would make spanakopita with half spinach, half basil.

    1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Tarragon is good with eggs! I do a frittata kind of thing with eggs, sausage or ham, spinach, tarragon and parsley. We call it green eggs and ham.

    2. Btdt*

      I second the egg rec, it also goes well with fish ! I freeze the sprigs and shove a few under each portion of fish before I bake it- flavour comes through nicely.

      It might also go well with a German style (mustard based) potato salad?

      1. Vio*

        Some freeze better than others. I tried freezing some fresh mint once but it lost so much of the taste when defrosted. Sometimes it’s best to make them into a soup, sauce or something and then freeze that. I used to have a massive freezer and so I’d cook everything in bulk and freeze several portions. One of the few downsides of moving was that my new flat is smaller and I had to downsize the freezer.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I freeze them in little icecubes and that seems to help them retain moisture – and of course when I drop the ice cube in a stir fry or soup the water is quickly gone.

        2. Purple m&m*

          Ohhhh. That’s useful to know. Full disclosure: I’ve only frozen basil – when I buy those big bunches.

    3. Pearl Grey*

      Another vote for eggs! I usually sauté onions, then when the onions are almost done, I add coarsely chopped tarragon to the pan. After a minute or so, I add an egg lightly beaten with a splash of Worcestershire sauce. I use the push method of scrambling so that the eggs remain relatively soft. When the eggs are almost done, I add a splash of water to the pan, put a lid on, turn off the heat, and let the eggs finish cooking in the steam. The eggs puff up beautifully, if for just a few moments.

    4. Pearl Grey*

      I grow a variety of herbs and use them in salads, salad dressings, and pesto. If you have more cilantro than you can use fresh, just add it to the blender along with ginger, garlic and your favorite oil/vinegar for a yummy salad dressing. My husband makes a great spicy pesto with cilantro, garlic, and other spices which he spreads over fish before baking. Other suggestions for using herbs include Thai basil eggplant, spicy mint chutney, and tabouli (parsley and mint).

      I have also used herbs in my homemade ice cream. My two favorites are shiso and lemon verbena. I am trying mint next.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Tarragon is excellent in cold cream soups during the summer. Vichyssoise, cold pea soup, cucumber soup, etc. Use it in German potato salads. If you eat fish, snip it over a boneless of fillet of almost anything before you broil it.

    6. JSPA*

      tarragon + dill in a veggie soup makes a flavor that’s like a third spice (not tarragon, not dill), especially for mild-flavored veggies like summer squash / zucchini. Add a splash of white wine, some butter, some onion and/or garlic and/or habanero sauce, if that’s too subtle… and you can use up the entire bunch on it, plus half a bunch I fresh dill.

      (PS tarragon reportedly toxic to pets, and cats may try to nibble it.)

      1. misspiggy*

        You just unlocked a memory of ‘summer soup’, a 70s recipe with peas, tarragon, chicken stock, dill and cream. It was so refreshing on a hot muggy day, and I hadn’t found anything quite like it since. I think I had forgotten about the tarragon.

    7. Emma2*

      I sometimes substitute it for dill in kuku sabzi – an Iranian herb frittata. Kuku sabzi uses a lot of herbs and is delicious. I like the recipe on The Mediterranean Dish website. I typically adjust proportions down if I want a smaller one, don’t necessarily add a rising agent, and cook it in a pan on the stove (I flip it to cook both sides)

    8. heyitsteatime*

      Highly recommend Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for roast cabbage with tarragon & pecorino!

    9. kina lillet*

      Make some green goddess dressing!

      Also, I’ll make little relishes that fancy up a meal—some chopped toasted nuts, chopped herbs, a little oil and vinegar, are great on top of soup. Or on top of anything—a little topping of that really fancies up a main dish and adds a ton of interest to a meal.

    10. fposte*

      Relatives got me a Penzey’s sampler and I just threw herbs on *everything*. Frozen peas? Herbs. Broiled chicken cutlets? Herbs.

      You could dry your tarragon but I tend to find compound butters a more satisfying way to keep benefits of fresh herbs. Just mash some tarragon into room temperature butter, add salt if it’s unsalted, add garlic if you like that, and then roll it into a log and freeze it. You can use a knob of it out of the freezer with pretty much every recipe mentioned here, or as a sandwich spread.

    11. NeutralJanet*

      In addition to tarragon being good in scrambled eggs and frittatas, it’s good in egg salad! It adds a nice zip.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      You can easily dry the extra. Just place it on a paper towel until dry then put it in a jar. I use the dried tarragon jar my dry tarragon came in.

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

      I used to regularly make a really good French Lentil recipe that used tarragon. I don’t remember the name exactly, but I feel like mostly when cooking lentils if you have some stock and onions and maybe tomato paste in there, you’re already 9/10ths of the way there.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      I wish wish wish my local grocery wouldn’t sell such huge bunches of fresh herbs! I’m stuck with yet another bundle of parsley after buying it for a recipe–I only needed two tablespoons which was like, one eighth of this bundle.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Fresh parsley freezes well, chopped first.

        But my favourite uses of parsley are in tabbouleh and fattoush where it, and mint, are almost as salad component rather than a flavouring/seasoning. Both lovely for summer.

    15. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I wonder if you could make a syrup with it? I used to buy tarragon soda all the time when I lived near a Russian deli that sold it, and it was delicious.

    16. londonedit*

      The official Coronation quiche has tarragon in it (and spinach, broad beans or peas, and Cheddar cheese). It’s really nice – we made one for the Coronation weekend (we’re not especially pro-monarchy but any excuse for a party) and it was so nice we’re making it again this weekend for Midsummer. Just google Coronation quiche and the recipe’s on the BBC food website or the Guardian or all over the place really.

  13. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    I need a Father’s Day gift for tomorrow. Dad is hard to shop for, so I’m thinking of going to the international grocery store and getting some fun foods. Any ideas for stuff that are yummy, exotic enough to be interesting, and easy enough to prep that I’m giving a gift instead of a chore? Condiments that come in small bottles would probably be perfect, or something in that vein.

    He doesn’t have a big sweet tooth but does like spicy food. Probably looking to spend ~$20.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Chili crisp? It’s a great topping for a lot of things, one jar will be $5-10 most likely.

    2. Jay*

      You could try an exotic hot sauce.
      Personally, I would order a bottle of Datil Pepper Sauce.
      It’s as hot as a Habanero but sweet, with a sort of fruit-ish flavor, like it’s been mixed with something, but it hasn’t. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t tried it before. The peppers are (or at least were) only grown in St. Augustine Florida and have some pretty cool history behind them.
      There are a couple of companies that make sauces and other condiments and some make little variety packs. Prices range across the board from regular grocery store hot sauce to expensive gourmet sauces.

    3. nobadcats*

      See if you can find a 3-flight of small mustards. My dad adores mustard, so every few years, I get him 3 or 4 bottles of different flavors from different countries.

    4. Reel*

      Chinese, Korean and Japanese potato chips can have really fun flavours (I’ve started bringing them to potlucks as a conversation starter, have had success with a chilli-peanut with actual crispy chunks of chilli, ‘numb and spicy’ (Sichuan pepper) and a surprisingly tasty ‘beef wellington’ flavour last time.)

    5. carcinization*

      Kecap manis? It’s slightly sweet, but not candy-sweet, soy sauce and I use it for fried rice and such often. It comes in big bottles and isn’t expensive.

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Thanks all! I ended up getting way too much hot sauce – they all looked so interesting.

    7. DataSci*

      I adore peanuts with chilis and Sichuan peppercorns! The Sichuan peppercorns add complexity so it’s not just heat. You could also do a “spicy condiments of the world” sampler – Lao Gan Ma chili crisp (the one thing I stocked up on to make sure I never ran out during the worst of the pandemic), harissa, gochuchang, jerk sauce.

  14. Saddy Hour*

    I hope this isn’t toooooo heavy for a weekend thread.

    For anyone in a long, successful relationship: how did you know? Were you “in love” as depicted in romances, with all the flutters and impulses lasting from the beginning of your relationship to now? Did you just “choose” to keep loving your person? What went into that choice, if so?

    I’m at a weird pivotal part of my life for a lot of things, not just my relationship. But I’ve never had a good model of ANY relationships, and I’m afraid media depictions aren’t cutting it for real life. I love my partner very much but I wonder, frequently, if I would be happier and more nourished pouring that energy into myself instead of into others.

    This is an ongoing conversation with my therapist, so I promise I’m taking it very seriously and nobody’s anonymous advice will wreck my life! But I’d love to hear how this has played out for all of you, good and bad. No judgments either way. I just want to get a better sense of real, lived relationships.

    Thanks and happy Friday to all!

    1. anon24*

      I’m not a super emotional person. I struggle with my feelings, I struggle to articulate them, show them and I even struggle to know what I’m feeling. I knew that I had to marry my husband when I realized that whatever my life was going to look like 10, 20 years down the road, I desperately wanted to be eating dinner at the same table as him and having him be the one I told about my day. Incredibly boring and unromantic and maybe that was the wrong reason, but 8 years married and it’s worked so far.

      1. Saddy Hour*

        Honestly, I think that sounds incredibly romantic! Thank you for sharing :) I’m very happy it’s working out for you!

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        OP, I had similar doubts when my now 10+ years-long relationship had just started. I didn’t consider myself cut out for being with someone, and in the beginning, my partner’s feelings were stronger than mine. What anon24 described is very similar to how the knowing the relationship was worth the effort happened for me. Plus, one specific episode.

        We’d just moved to a new country, and I was having trouble opening a bank account. I had papers that should have allowed me to, but banks were reluctant to accept them from a student. I felt foreign and rejected at every step of the process, and had a tight timeline.

        One day, as I went on a pilgrimage of every bank in my area, he stuck by me and reassured me the entire time. Hours of waiting to speak to someone at different banks, and sometimes being turned away. Growing frustration. I almost cried in a waiting room. He had his own stuff to deal with and didn’t have to stick around. I didn’t ask him to. He just did, and I felt so grateful. I realised no other guy I’d had feelings for before would have been the type to do that, and thought, this one and I are going to make it through to a good life here. Which, against many odds, we did :)

      3. Zephy*

        +1. My husband and I were together for 10 years before we got married. Whenever I tried to imagine my life X years from now, I couldn’t conjure up a mental picture that didn’t have him in it.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Who you eat with and talk to is one of the most important decisions we can make!

    2. OyHiOh*

      I’ve had both.

      My first really long term relationship, marriage, lasted 14 years before he passed. I entered with a “love is a verb” mindset and basically decided that I was going to love this person. I did not think that the flutters and chick flick tropes were real for anyone. I believed people said so because it was expected. The marriage worked well enough, although we were very much on diverging paths by the past year or so. If he’d survived his illness well enough to resume a “normal” working life, we would have divorced within the following 12 months. We were not bad for each other, just going different directions. I became an adult in an upper Midwest state in the US, and got the impression, both from my hippie back to the land parents and from our much more conservative community, that I would not be properly an adult until/unless I married a man and had children. I was tired of being treated as if in purgatory – no longer a child, but not an adult either at the ripe old age of 25 – so rather than continue to play around, I picked the man who was as far to the right of my parents as I could tolerate and basically said “you think I need to get married?! Fine! Here’s my Jewish Army vet fiance, how do you like them apples.” With the hindsight of decades and therapy, this was not exactly the way to accomplish what I intended.

      My current partner is a non married relationship that’s going on five years now. I was more or less forced to recognize that what I defined as a friendship was evolving into a romantic relationship because when I was around him, I felt all the things the romance novels and chick flicks of my youth described. I was utterly amazed by this – I was in my early 40’s recently widowed, with children, and rather suddenly awakened to a set of experiences I really truly believed were fully fictional. We’re a good team. We’re two peas in a pod where my marriage was more of a fish and a bird situation. Both can work, obviously, but if I could have continued dating and purposefully looked for more of that strong romantic connection rather than committing to love is a verb, I think I might have had more energy for the things that fuel me, more consistently rather than newly discovering them now

      1. Saddy Hour*

        I hope this doesn’t sound creepy, but I have followed some of your journey on this forum and it truly means a lot to get your perspective. I’ve been able to see how much you loved your former partner and how important your new partner has been for you, which I’m so, so happy for. (Though I can’t believe it’s been 5 years already — holy crap!)

        The “fish and a bird” situation reads really true to me. I think I’ve been struggling with knowing that my current partner is a wonderful person who I love, desperately, but who might be better for me as a friend for various reasons. I really, really like the “love as a verb” framing here, because I think it more clearly outlines the effort put in by both parties — I have been doing most of the “love” part, and that’s not sustainable. It is very encouraging to hear that real, deep love blossoms even for people who have dedicated so much to prior relationships. Somehow, that conviction feels like a death sentence in a lot of cases.

        Thanks for sharing your experience with this and your experience in general. I truly love to see it.

        1. Janet Pinkerton*

          What you say here really ties in to this line from your original post, which really struck me:

          “I love my partner very much but I wonder, frequently, if I would be happier and more nourished pouring that energy into myself instead of into others.“

          The great thing about a good partnership (at least, my partnership, but I suspect it’s near-universal) is that it’s about both of you pouring your energy into each other. Your partner doesn’t feel like an energy suck, they feel like a net positive in your life. They don’t drain you (except occasionally).

    3. sewsandreads*

      Okay, so I’m not as long term as some might be (5 years), but I would say I’ve had similar experiences to you — good relationship models have been few and far between for me. I burned myself out about 8 months into this relationship following the romance novel model, and promptly thought we weren’t right, it was time for me to pack in my entire life as it was and escape overseas, etc.

      So, back to therapy I went. We worked out that, for me, these thoughts come when I’m neglecting parts of myself: creativity, solitude, family connections. (Basically, the opposite of romance novels.) My therapist tells me it’s definitely a choice to continue to stay in relationships regardless of how much you love someone; love will not conquer all at the end of the day. Rather than butterflies (which is apparently an anxiety response!) we’re looking for nice calm cosy vibes, and my other half gives me that in spades. What’s made me continue to stay is that I do love this man, and I feel safe, supported, and valued when I am with him, and that he makes me want to be a better person. I choose him each day because he is a damn delight and one of the best people I know. I choose him because he makes me laugh and is so gentle, even if he leaves every cupboard door open when he goes into a room… and I love that he doesn’t want this relationship to be my whole life, just a part of it, so he actively encourages me to fill my own cup first and energise myself first, and vice versa.

      My therapist specialises in relationships, so when I go, “here is this thing that I’m probably the only one to have ever experienced, does this mean I run???” it’s so helpful that she’s like, “I am pleased to tell you that you’re not the only one, and it’s also so normal, and you don’t have to run.” She’s told me that if she ever sees a red flag she’ll tell me, and that if she ever sees me doubting in a way that’s not just “whoa I’m a bit avoidant and this man is making those parts of me flare up in an uncomfy way,” she’ll unpack it with me, and we’ll address it there.

      So far, it’s played out well for me. I love this man, but what I also love is how for both of us, we are free to be our own humans in this relationship and nourish ourselves independently — it’s not an either/or, I guess? Not sure if this answers your question, but I hope it helps.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Oh my goodness the part about “flee!” thoughts coming when parts of oneself are neglected resonates so much with me. I’ve had to start nourishing those neglected parts of myself and see if the relationship has room for them – in my case, turns out it absolutely does and part of what was “off” between us was that IT missed those parts of me too!

      2. Anonyma*

        I’m divorced (after 17 years of marriage, two kids) and now much more happily re-partnered (but not married, and that’s not part of the plan at the moment.)

        For me, when things were pretty grim in the marriage, I asked myself: is there a sector of our shared lives where I’m not carrying the primary load? I considered our “home” life (financially and logistically – economic contributions, ability to make plan and execute necessary tasks), our “parent” life (some overlap with “home” but really: is he actively parenting the kids at least 50% of the parenting time?) and our “romantic/sexual” life (all other things being equal, do I feel loved and enjoy being with him?) and I realized that I was zero for three. He was not consistently holding a job or making good financial choices and he didn’t pick up any of the slack at home; he was half-heartedly engaged in parenting, although he did love our kids; he treated me badly and I had no desire or capacity for any kind of intimacy. So that was sad but also useful as an exercise. Even one area of strong contribution on his part would have moved the needle for me – like if he were kind of a financial bumbler and didn’t necessarily deeply love me but was a great dad, or he loved me deeply and we had a great intimate and emotional connection but he was never going to be good at the day-to-day aspects of life, or if he wasn’t expressive and we didn’t have a deep connection but he loved the kids and made our shared lives run smoothly. But nope, none of the above.

        Honestly, I was probably happiest post-divorce when I sold the former marital home and bought a house all on my own. My life with my now-partner was solid, I had primary custody of my kids, I was financially stable.

        I now live with my partner and it has been a bit of a journey. We’re financially stable, my kids are in/graduated from college, and we’re happy and have a lot of shared interests but it took a lot of work to hit a place where we enjoy living together. Balance of tasks was one aspect of it, renovating an old house was another aspect, and really getting to know my partner took a while. (He’s a lovely, deeply good, incredibly kind and somewhat weird person whom I honestly adore – and likewise – but wow, did I need to do some work to figure out how to live happily with him. And we’d been together for years!)

        So IMO/IME it might be worth doing some back-of-the-envelope math: Does this person’s presence make my life better? What are the areas where we really work well together? Are we going to form a long-term partnership where we care for each other into old age (if that’s one of your goals)? Do we want kids and if so how would that actually work? Are there any features of them/the relationship that I have deep reservations about?

        I’m not sure it’s very useful to ask: Could I be happier with someone else? Because of course, theoretically, you could but that doesn’t mean it would happen. Could you be happier alone is a much more useful question IMO.

    4. Strong Aroace Vibes*

      Oh I’ve asked many of these sorts of questions, and I’m interested in the responses here. I don’t have an answer for your actual question, but I’d like to point out that often this question is framed as “how did you know your particular person was the right long-term person / right long-term relationship compared to other possible people/relationships“. Because most people are looking for a life partner (or could otherwise imagine a partnered relationship that they would be excited about persisting forever), and so they are trying to assess their current person/relationship vs. potential unknown other ones that could better meet that goal/imagination (but might not–thus the questioning of stay or go!).

      But here, you’ve framed your question as, “how did you know that staying with your particular person / in your relationship was the right long-term situation compared to not partnering at all.” Or perhaps you’re just thinking about being unpartnered now as a temporary point on the way towards a future partner, which isn’t so different. But I feel like “this partner vs a different and hopefully-better partner” and “this partner vs no partner” can be pretty different questions, both interesting.

      1. Despachito*

        This is a very interesting take.

        For me, it was exactly that – this partner vs no partner. It may seem selfish but I was very happy on my own, and absolutely not willing to sacrifice some perks of my privacy just to be with someone.

        And he was someone I felt I did not have to sacrifice almost anything, he was willing to settle any discrepancies with fair discussion, and I felt he genuinely respected me. And he was – and still is fun to be around, no negativity, no whining. He did not have a single vein of misogynistic stereotypes in him. I just felt at ease and very natural with him.

        I would have stayed happily single if the positives of being a couple did not outweigh the positives of being single.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          There’s nothing at all selfish about being on your own; it doesn’t harm anybody.

          And I think you have a great way of looking at this. The positives of being with somebody should outweigh the positives of being alone, not just outweigh being with somebody who isn’t right for you.

          1. MEH Squared*

            Agreed. I love being alone with my cat and fill my hours with many amusing endeavors. If I were to date someone, it would have to add something to my life on top of what I already have. I would have to want to spend a significant amount of time with that person more than I want to sit on my couch, surfing the internet. That’s a very high standard to reach, but I’m very comfortable with it.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I totally agree—I think it’s a lot more selfish to force yourself into a relationship because you think you have to, or owe it to the person. I can’t think of many things more emotionally gut-punching than realizing that the person I thought of as my partner, my loved one, was convincing themselves they “had” to stay–whether because you’re afraid to be alone or you feel they can’t do without you (how insulting!)

            My basic rule is–if you have to keep convincing or reminding yourself of “all the reasons” to stay? Go. You don’t want to stay, and in the end you owe it to a partner to WANT to be with them.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m also in a “this partner or no partner” situation with my husband of six years this fall; if something were to happen I would absolutely spend the rest of my life a single crazy dog lady. We knew each other for over ten years as friends before we got together as a couple. And I am entirely ace and mostly aro, so I’m still not quite sure what he gets out of this, though he assures me it’s a lot of everything he needs and wants. But when he proposed, my first three answers were “are you sure? You know nothing is going to change, right?” And my reason for saying yes was basically “He says this will make him more happy, and I’m fine either way, so a neutral for me combined with a positive for him is an overall net positive in happiness, so why not.” (Yes, he is fully aware of all this and the fact that I am about as romantic as a sack of hammers.)

    5. model major general*

      In the beginning it was definitely flutters, etc. Now, more than 20 years on it is not. The initial honeymoon phase lasted a few months, and slowly faded over a couple of years. Now, we are compatible. There have been periods in our relationship when I really wanted to separate from him, it took conscious hard effort not to. The choice to keep on in the relationship was realizing that some of the unhappiness comes from me, or rather than my life was overwhelming me. Exercising the choice to stay looks like: trying to make him laugh. We are also well matched intellectually, but less so emotionally.
      Since you say that you’re feeling that you need to nourish yourself: what does that look like? Does it mean being alone? Doing less housework? Developing separate hobbies?

    6. JSPA*

      There are several built-in fallacies to this question

      1. that current feelings are predictive of future satisfaction

      2. that post-hoc reporting is unbiased (it is manifestly not!)

      3. that future satisfaction is independent of meta-analysis (such as this)

      If you’re easily dissatisfied or easily satisfied, that tends to outweigh any specifics‐‐partner A vs B, partnered vs unpartnered, your specific kid / hypothetical other kids / no kids, rent vs own, which career(s).

      But people who self-reportedly “just knew this was the right person for me” at year 3 of marriage can equally earnestly tell you at their later divorce that they “always had a feeling things were off.”

      1. fposte*

        Though if you look at Gottman, post-hoc reporting is strongly predictive for that relationship’s future–not because it’s unbiased, but because the bias indicates the speaker’s current engagement level.

        Saddy Hour, you might like reading some Gottman, in fact. He’s got several lay accessible books that are really good at illuminating interpersonal relationships in general (he’s most famous for marriage stuff, but I actually started reading him for a job relationship) but especially romantic ones, and there’s good discussion of the different ways couples successfully fit together.

    7. Fish*

      Been with my husband for almost 12 years, married for almost 3.

      In my experience, the initial high intensity romance feelings like constant butterflies in your stomach, etc, fade, but the “in love” feelings don’t. I’m still always happy to see my husband at the end of the day or when we’ve been away from each other. He’s still the first person I want to tell about interesting or funny things that happen during the day. He’s always on my mind, although in a different way than that obsessive way you sometimes think about someone you’re newly in love with.

      There wasn’t one specific moment when I knew he was the one, but there have been several situations in my life where I needed him and he came through for me immediately, no questions asked. There’s a lot of small things too: like, my mom’s dog is a little afraid of men, but my husband is one of his favorite people. The other day he told me that when we were looking at cats to adopt, he picked our cat because she was sitting all by herself at the shelter and he was worried that no one would want her even though she was a very nice cat. We’ve had some difficult times in our relationship, but we’ve always been able to be a team and work through them together.

      1. Believes in Flutters*

        Most of Fish’s response sounds like my experience, though in this case, it’s together 25 years, married for 20. I didn’t marry till I was 40, so I’d been around the block more than a few times before I even met Mr Flutters. One of those trips was with a man I’d decided to commit to (love is a verb) because of his many good qualities, and because we did have a lot of fun together, and because some previous flutter-inducing relationships hadn’t worked out. And then I met someone else who made my heart beat faster and I dumped the poor decent guy for someone else who didn’t work out (after several years). What I took out of this was that I needed to use my head and heart/gut in tandem. Flutters aren’t everything, but for me they are a necessary if not sufficient condition for a relationship. While I respect the experience of people who are Ace, I think often cis-women are socialized to think that they shouldn’t have strong sexual feelings and should pick “suitable” men, which is not a good recipe for marital happiness if in fact you do have strong sexual feelings . . . for someone you’re not married to. You should want to jump your husband/partner! So in some ways I knew as soon as I met my husband. But it also took me years to trust that knowledge, because I wanted to make sure that this time I was in on all levels.

    8. 10 years and counting*

      I am a child of divorced parents, both of which figured things out better the second time around. I was TERRIFIED that I would “get it wrong”–not that I am against divorce if it is the right thing to do (it was the right thing to do for my parents at the time), but I still didn’t want to have to learn the hard way.

      What I eventually figured out is that I had to find someone who was willing to work on the relationship and themselves, someone willing to put in a lot of effort. It is impossible to expect that there won’t be troubles and hard times in the length of time I wanted to be partnered with someone, both individually for myself and my partner, but also us as a unit. So someone who I could count on trying their best and putting in work was key. I hasten to add that I didn’t expect that to guarantee anything either–sometimes Stuff Happens–but if I had someone like that, we would both dot our proverbial Is and cross our proverbial Ts before making any decision to separate.

      In turn, I knew I would also make that effort for the right person. So the person who checked the work box and inspired me to feel that I wanted to work on me and us, too, in addition to all of the other things I looked for in a relationship, was the person I eventually married. That has worked well for me. We’re coming up on 10 years married, together for 15. And right now we’re in the middle of hearing lots of people around us have relationship trouble or divorce, while we, if anything, have moved closer together, especially in the last few years. Some of it was luck, is luck, to be sure, but some of it, I think, is effort on ourselves individually and on our relationship together. Being a person is HARD. Being a person together with another person is HARD TOO. It takes a lot of effort, but it is very rewarding.

    9. Despachito*

      “I love my partner very much but I wonder, frequently, if I would be happier and more nourished pouring that energy into myself instead of into others.”

      Why not just try this (ie pour more energy into yourself) and see what happens? Do you think it is incompatible with staying in this partnership?

      There were things I was never willing to sacrifice, and if required to do that, I would rather not be in a partnership because that would mean to renounce a substantial part of myself I did not want to renounce. THe hills for me to die on were my work, sharing the responsibilities around the house and, at a certain part of life, my hobby. (Funnily enough, I gave up the hobby for several reasons but at the time that was convenient for me, not because of the relationship, and I was OK with it.)

      I am not a fan of doing things one feels deeply uncomfortable with or undernourished for the sake of the other person, because it has to bubble out somewhere at the most inconvenient time. For the same reason I would not want someone to do this for me.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think this is a good take. In my post I mentioned that knowing my relationship was love and had potential to go the distance came from realizing that we both cared more about doing right by each other than about our own immediate feelings.

        Doing right by each other includes supporting each other’s nurturing and growth. He pours energy into me, I do the same for him, and we also encourage each other to pour energy into ourselves.

        If taking good care of yourself or growing is incompatible with your relationship, then that’s a problem. Maybe it’s a problem in this particular relationship, or maybe you’re in a place where you don’t need to be in a relationship.

        Or maybe if you try, it will open up new possibilities in your relationship and make it better.

    10. Lionheart26*

      Sometimes for me it’s sheer determination :)
      I was in a 10 year relationship previously, we hit a REALLY rough patch, and although initially I tried really hard to work through it, eventually I realised I had to let go. I don’t regret walking away at all; I had to for my own self-preservation, and I don’t miss that man or that relationship at all. But years later I am still so sad that we couldn’t work it out.

      With my current relationship, my now-husband fell hard and fast. I wasn’t as sure, (because of past trauma), but then I decided that life is for living and learning, so I jumped in and chose to start loving again. We’ve been together almost 9 years now and married for 6. The pandemic was really hard for us, and we talked pretty seriously about ending things, but decided to work at it instead. At the time, I wasn’t even sure I LIKED my husband any more. I just really didn’t want to fail again. As I said to my therapist, I’ve chosen “me” before; I know how that path goes, I know it’s an option I can take at any time. I want to see what happens when I choose “us”. It wasn’t easy, but we got through those hard times and we are so much better and stronger for it. We know we can face anything together now, and just knowing that makes us so happy to be together. Sometimes you have to put the instant gratification aside for the long-term prize.

    11. Angstrom*

      There were flutters, but I was old enough to know that life would be full of ups and downs, and the important question for me was “When things go to hell, is this the person you want by your side?”
      It’s easy to have fun with someone. (cue the rom-com slo-motion montage ;-)) How good are you at being miserable together? Do you support each other through the rough patches? Are you a good team?

      1. carcinization*

        This is such a good point that I left out when I answered off the cuff. My husband and I have lost our home/everything we owned twice while we were together (both times due to fires caused by federally declared natural disasters, in two different geographic areas). Navigating not having a home is definitely a way to “test” a relationship, and I was so glad we had each other in those times.

      2. Jackalope*

        My spouse and I got married less than a year before the pandemic, and I’ve thought about that a lot. We’ve survived this much of a pandemic together, we’ve survived the death of several family members (not from COVID) and close friends, we’ve survived a lot of crises I shall not recount here but you get the picture. All through it we’ve done well at supporting each other and have generally grown closer as time has gone on. I’m so happy to be facing life’s challenges with this partner.

        And on the energy drain mentioned earlier, I’ve found that generally we balance out. Sometimes one of us leans on and draws from the other’s energy more, but we take turns and most of the time it’s not like that. I feel like we both pour ourselves out into each other rather than it being one-sided. And my spouse is really supportive of me doing the things I need to recharge even if they aren’t things that work for them.

    12. Irish Teacher*

      I’m aromantic asexual so have never had a relationship but one of my friends once told me that how she knew her husband was “the one” was that once she started dating him, she had no interest in any other guy. She said with previous relationships, she’d meet people and think, “you know, if I wasn’t in a relationship, I might be interested,” but once she met him, she no longer even had those thoughts.

      1. RagingADHD*

        YMMV. I have been very happily married for 20 years, and I still occasionally have those thoughts. I have no desire to pursue them, but I still recognize attraction and compatibility with others and realize there was a potential alternate timeline. I don’t want to switch, but I can see it. Like deja-vu inside out.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m way over on the demisexual spectrum. (I am perplexed by ‘celebrities you’d sleep with’ games because how would I know? I haven’t met them.) But over time I have come to suspect that tending to form a pair bond where you mostly aren’t attracted to other people can play out to one’s detriment. Because when that once in a blue moon person comes along who does spark, people are inclined to think Special Sign From The Universe rather than “I’m married, not dead, so of course I would find my new assistant attractive. Objectively they are attractive.”

        2. Lizzo*

          As I frequently say, in the face of that type of attraction: “I’m married, not dead.”

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      1) I think the fluttery feelings of falling in love are due to uncertainty. Will this last? Do they feel the same? Is this someone I would build a life with? Once you share a mortgage, three kids, two dogs, and a cat, hopefully you’re not wondering those things any more.

      The poly community refer to this as New Relationship Energy–in ethical nonmonogamy, it’s important not to slot your partner only into practical grind conversations about fixing the plumbing while the fun stuff all happens with the new glowy person. It’s also a cautionary tale for those practicing nonethical nonmonogamy, where their new assistant is just so glowy and fun and they never talk about stuff like fixing the plumbing, clearly The Universe Is Communicating With Me Via Not Talking About Plumbing. But if you leave your spouse and try to start something with the glowy person, it turns out you start talking about fixing the plumbing.

      2) A comment on here re choosing a business partner, but I’ve been having it resonate in other areas: You’re looking for a situation where 1 + 1 = 3. Why does it feel like you are pouring the energy into your partner and not into yourself? I care for my husband; he cares for me. Same with the relationship with our now grown kids.

      1. Despachito*

        1 + 1 = 3.

        I absolutely love this, it is so much true.

        May I borrow it some time with your permission?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I didn’t coin it; another commenter did on a thread about what OP should do with a business partner who wasn’t working out. But have at it!

    14. Sloanicota*

      Unpopular opinion I know – I really enjoy being single, but if I had found someone I loved, I would not think it better to spend that energy nourishing myself. It’s just – hard out here on your own. I think about how I will handle all the rough stages of life that are coming. Just my two cents, but I tend to advise my friends in our age group (mid 40s) that they’re likely not going to find better men if they break up with their loving-and-loyal-but-imperfect long term partners – that’s just the hard reality; they are probably choosing singlehood (of course I do know some people do it!). I have a lot of wonderful single female friends who wonder why it didn’t happen for them. But if you know you’re done, then that’s it, there’s no logic in it anyway. Good luck to you.

    15. Seahorse*

      I definitely had a similar question before getting engaged. Family said marriage was Hard Work and required constant sacrifice (which sounded miserable). Movies said I needed butterflies in my stomach every time I saw him. Neither were true. I was happier with him than without him, he felt the same way, and we were a good team.

      We’ve been together 17 years, and that’s still the case. No butterflies, no giant sacrifice, but I’m happy he’s my partner. We’re friends, we tackle life together, we add joy to each other’s lives. That’s more than enough for me.

      1. YrLocalLibrarian*

        +2 to this! My partner and I (26 years) have a very stable relationship, but without super highs or lows. We give each other a lot of space for individual hobbies, friendships or interests. But try to be a “soft place to land” for each other when the vicissitudes of life come our way. I think it very much matters what you want in a relationship. For me, stability, calm, acceptance of who I am and my needs, wins out over passion any day.

        1. Despachito*


          If the hard work and the sacrifice were true I would NEVER want such a thing.

          And that does not mean all was unicorns and rainbows – we both had very serious health problems, looked after several near and dear with serious health problems, but I NEVER felt it like “hard work” or “sacrifice” – it was rather “shit happens, and this is something we have to weather through”.

          I have never really thought about what makes that difference, but it is perhaps a deep feeling we are on the same page, and pulling the same wagon, as opposed to going against each other.

          I find most romantic films/books very stupid in terms of what TRULY matters. The real thing for me is VERY different than that presented (butterflies and co.)

          I actually think two things are key:
          1) never, even at the beginning of the relationship, pretend I like something I really don’t, and present myself in the best light. I actually think the opposite – the partner DESERVES to see the worst of me, to be able to decide whether this is something he is willing to put up with (and vice versa of course). I hate cooking and am not a very tidy person. If I pretended I was a housewife (nothing against them), it would not have been fair to my partner to find out later I am the very opposite. If someone EXPECTS a housewife, he would dump me, and it would be for the good of both of us.

          2) it is not good to be ALWAYS right, and it is not good to be NEVER right. If I want always have it my way, my partner would be unhappy and won’t see any reason to be with me. If I never have it my way, it would be me who would be unhappy. So there has to be balance, and it is in the interest of BOTH of us.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Ugh, I remember reading lots of YA books written in the mid seventies where successful relationships are always “hard work.” None of the books made it sound appealing in the least! Of course what the authors meant was “falling in love is wonderful but actually being with a person requires time and energy,” but at the time I would read this stuff and think “when can these people ever relax? This sounds like too much trouble if I have to have a job too!”

        1. Seahorse*

          Looking back, most of the people who said marriage was sooo hard were either trying to slot themselves into rigid gender roles that didn’t fit, or there was some fundamental incompatibility in the relationship.
          Many are either remarried or single and happier now.

          1. Jackalope*

            I was super nervous about this when I first got married. I’d been told so many times that marriage is hard work, etc., that when I got married I didn’t know what to do. The first few months of our marriage I was running around reading lots of marriage books – mostly by John Gottman since his advice tends to be pretty healthy – and terrified that we were going to mess everything up, and that somehow we were setting some sort of unhealthy pattern that would haunt us for the rest of marriage. Gradually I figured out that marriage didn’t HAVE to be tough, and that we could mostly keep on as we had been. (Not that we haven’t grown or figured out how to do things better, but it’s more like tweaks rather than complete overhauls.)

    16. NotBatman*

      An old saw I’ve found useful: see how your potential partner handles a flat tire in a rainstorm, or some similar everyday disaster. That’ll tell you more about them than any number of curated conversations on dates.

      Anyway, my first kiss with my partner of many years ended with me passed out on the floor. I had a stuffy nose (and I’d warned him as much), but I failed to take into account that while kissing him I wasn’t breathing at all… and then I fainted. And then I threw up on the floor. He not only caught me as I was falling and got me in recovery position, he cleaned my carpet for me. And then he helped me sit on the couch, and he stayed another three hours to make sure I was okay and didn’t need a doctor. We’d known each other for less than a day when this all went down. Not love at first sight, but the closest I’ve ever experienced. Love at first minor emergency? Either way, it was a huge green flag for me.

      1. Angstrom*

        Yes! How they handle problems when plans go off script is important.
        Other useful observations:
        -How are they when drunk?
        -How do they treat service workers/waitstaff/cashiers/etc.?
        -How do your friends respond to them?
        -Take a long car trip together, a couple of days or more. How do you both respond to forced proximity?

        On putting energy into yourself vs. a partner: We both spend time, money and energy on interests we don’t share. That’s ok. We are happy that the other is happy. It’s been delightful to see my partner try new things and grow. We don’t want to *do* all the same things, but we are interested and supportive of each other.

        Are you comfortable asking your partner for what you want?

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

      Oh, I wish I had some helpful advice for you, but unfortunately I’m in a similar situation right now with my own relationship. It’s been 7 years, the longest and BY FAR the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had, but more and more I’ve been realizing that because being in this relationship allowed me to do so much healing, I may actually have outgrown it. I’ve been wrestling with it for months, because even though I definitely still feel a strong physical attraction to my partner and we really enjoy doing things together, I’m very much not the same person I was when we started dating. I’ve grown so much, while he very much has stayed in the same place. He’s a great person, but maybe no longer what I need in a romantic partner. What you say about nourishing yourself resonates so strongly with me, because I feel like the more I try to do that and focus on what I need to be authentic and whole, the more separate I feel from this relationship where my full self isn’t as seen/recognized/understood as I wish it was.

      Anyway, all this to say that I do still consider this a long. successful relationship– even if we break up tomorrow, I will consider it successful. We’ve supported each other through so much, and went on so many interesting adventures, and the chemistry was off the charts. For me, I knew pretty quick, but it wasn’t just one moment where I knew– it was more like 5 distinct moments in our first 2 weeks of dating that cumulatively made up the feeling of certainty. We definitely had an immediate comfort with each other that resulted in someone saying to us on our second date, in complete sincerity, “How many years have you been married?” And we have very similar senses of humor, and we both take genuine pleasure in seeing the other enjoy themself. For me, those factors really helped make this relationship as solid as it was for as long as it was.

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

        That’s a great point about this having been a successful relationship whether you break up or not. Dan Savage talks about how just because a relationship ends, that doesn’t mean it was a failure. It succeeded for however long it did.

    18. RagingADHD*

      When we first met, I thought he was okay but wasn’t really interested. Then we met again under different circumstances and hit it off in a nerdy compatibility way, with far too much to talk about than there was time for.

      We went out on a few dates and there was definitely chemistry and physical attraction. He was very clear about the fact that he was taking it seriously. I wasn’t sure how serious I wanted to be, but I really enjoyed his company and was having a good time. And as I got to know him, I gained more and more admiration of his character, respect for his judgment and insight, and appreciation of the way he conducted all his other relationships with family and friends.

      When he told me he loved me, I wasn’t sure about saying it back. I didn’t want to get caught up in the moment and let him down later. Then I realized that I was more concerned about doing right by him than about my feelings — which is what love is. And he is the same way, caring more about doing right by me. He just overthinks it less.

      We got married just about a year after our first date, and this year is our 20th anniversary.

      Of course it hasn’t been uninterrupted butterflies, because you can’t live in a single emotional state long term. That’s not natural. I’d guess that the butterflies started melding into something that felt more solid and familiar a few months in, and became more contextual rather than constant.

      We have had a few (not many) big arguments over the years. But it makes us both so miserable to be mad at each other that we really want to work together to fix the problem. And we have times when we get snippy with each other. That’s usually when we are frazzled and really need some alone time to reconnect.

      We had a really rough patch when the kids were toddlers. My mom was in Hospice and then died, he got laid off in the middle of the Great Recession and couldn’t find decent work, I had some major health problems… it was a lot. We basically took turns having nervous breakdowns over a couple of years. And during that time, there were a lot of moments when I wondered whether my life and the kids’ lives would be better if we split up. But I knew better than to make major life decisions while grieving.

      I’m really glad we worked through it, because when I started coming out of the fog of grief, I realized that 99 percent of my anger towards him wasn’t about him. It was the free-floating anger of grief, and nothing he could have done would change the real problem. I was really lucky to be with someone so patient and forgiving, and it made me more patient and forgiving too.

      I’d say the overarching feeling now is warm, homey, and grounded. The butterflies show up periodically when we can schedule a date night. And I get irrationally happy when I come home and see his car in the driveway. I don’t sleep well if he’s traveling or working really late.

      We are each other’s favorite person — along with the kids, of course. But we have seniority.

    19. Bibliovore*

      How did I know he was the one?
      I did have that heart flutter thing (but that could have been anxiety)
      I had no interest in anyone else.
      He made me laugh.
      We could talk for hours.
      We could spend time together not talking.
      If I was reading, he did not interrupt or want to know “when we were going to DO something.” (person I was dating before him)
      He gave me books.
      I have a chronic genetic disabling illness and he didn’t run when I disclosed on our first date.
      He was my biggest cheerleader.
      We had our own stuff separate from each other (friends, hobbies, things we liked to watch on tv)
      We were together 35 years, married 33.
      He made me laugh.

      1. sewsandreads*

        Big one for me. I have flare ups with my brain every so often. He didn’t run, and instead met me where I was. Still does.

        Aside from every other fantastic quality about him and all the warms and fuzzies and the safe and cosies, this was such a change.

    20. carcinization*

      I’ve been in a committed monogamous relationship since 2001 (cohabitating since 2003) and have two psychology degrees/am a psych professional, and I’m still not sure what you mean by “pouring that energy into myself.” I’m also almost certainly a “neurodiverse” type so maybe that’s why I’m not sure how to parse that though. Anyhow, the fact that you’re thinking about the relationship in those terms doesn’t sound great. The “flutters and impulses” of my relationship aren’t the same as they were a couple of decades back, but gosh I’m still really happy we’re together, and neither of us thinks anyone else would be a better fit. As to choosing to keep loving someone, my philosophy about what is and isn’t a choice is pretty extreme, Existentialism-influenced, etc., so it’s definitely a choice for me but maybe not the same way that other people think about choice.

    21. Prospect Gone Bad*

      You mention media portrayals aren’t helping: I would recommend loads of “old” sitcoms. Just to pick a random one, Home Improvement. Or Growing Pains. The parental couples had a bit of tension in a good way but became a force to fight bad forces or general life struggles when it was warranted. Or the parents from Boy Meets World.

      “I love my partner very much but I wonder, frequently, if I would be happier and more nourished pouring that energy into myself instead of into others.”

      This is ironic to me because after a certain point in life, after years of focusing on my career and fitness and self-improvement in general, I had exactly the opposite conclusion about life! There is definitely a wall you hit of diminishing returns, focusing so much on yourself. I can get myself to be close to perfect in an area, but then what? It doesn’t matter if people around me are struggling. Life now feels like a net, once you hit a certain point, it feels more useful to pull other people up than try to drag yourself forward, only thinking of yourself.

      Not saying you are recommending being this self-involved, but I do think that you are looking for change, and sometimes when people look for change they change things that are arbitrary or not helpful for the sake of change

      1. Despachito*

        But to be fair, it would be very difficult to do that BEFORE you reach that point. If you are still emotionally or otherwise hungry and struggling, it would be more logical to want to “feed” yourself first, and once you are full, you will have the capacity to look for other people who are struggling and help them.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        An old TV show I’m rewatching that really handled the relationship aspect well, even uniquely, is Remington Steele.

        The writers combined a silly/outrageous/romantic premise with two adults who talked to each other, discussed their relationship, and never denied their attraction to and feelings for one another. Now, obviously most of us won’t be running a detective agency with a mystery man who simply swanned into our lives one day, but the entire point of falling in love is finding out about another person, and the show did that fantastically well.

    22. ThatGirl*

      20 years ago I started falling for my now husband. We were part of the same social crowd in college and a huggy bunch and when I hugged him it felt… safe. Like home.

      Long story short, there was intense physical chemistry but also a real emotional connection. We’ve matured together. We’ve been married 16 years. We like each other. We find each other interesting. But we also annoy and aggravate each other sometimes. We nurture our own interests – hobbies, friends, exercise, etc. but also do things together. We encourage each other. And when he hugs me, it still feels like home.

    23. Old Plant Woman*

      My husband and I just celebrated our 48th anniversary. There were never a lot of butterflies or fireworks or drama, but that’s not what I wanted. I guess I’m more practical than emotional. I’d rather have somebody fix plumbing with me than be new and beautiful and give me flutters. And he made me laugh while we were crawling under the house in 20 degree weather.

    24. Breaking Dishes*

      I met my second husband shortly after my first husband wanted out. We felt comfortable with each other and talked about everything and anything. Definitely had romantic excitement and interest. We married about a year after we met and were married 38 years. He died unexpectedly in November of last year. I never felt like the marriage was hard work, though some tough things happened during our years together. We had the utmost respect for one another, enjoyed just being around each other, and had a lot of adventures together. There was plenty of room there for each of us to pursue our own interests, we didn’t do everything together. I was still delighted when I heard the garage door opener-he was home! I hope you find what you are looking for. We were fortunate to have met each other and to have had a great life together.

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

        Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I’m so glad you guys had each other, and so sorry for your loss.

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

          I love that you had a “he’s home!” thrill — that is truly lovely.

    25. Raine*

      My husband and I have been married for 17 years, together for 20. Biggest thing: establish how you communicate early on in the relationship, whether it’s texting, email, no conversations before coffee, nothing serious right before bed, etc. Find something you both enjoy doing, and make sure you make the time to do that. Have an identity that is separate from the two of you together, but not so separate that you can’t at least occasionally enjoy something together, whether it’s the corporate office party or going shopping for supplies for your SO’s hobby.
      Figure out what will annoy you to death before you get too serious and then discuss them with your SO, even the nitpicky stuff. You might be surprised to find what might become the straw that broke the camel’s back. If your SO respects you, they’ll put up with those nitpicky things (to a point, and that point can and should be negotiated).
      Basically, if you can’t stand to be friends with someone, know all their habits, and trust that they have your back implicitly, then you shouldn’t be in a long-term romantic relationship with them. My parents (who were together for 43 years) always said that you need a partner and a lover.
      Hope that helps, and good luck!

    26. ThursdaysGeek*

      He was my best friend and I wanted to be with him more. We waited a few years before marriage, and there was no sex, no living together first. I went into it deciding that divorce would not be an option, and I did know him well enough to know that was reasonable. (Because if there is abuse, then divorce is most definitely an option!) It’s been 38+ years, and he’s still the person I can trust, can talk to about anything, who can make me relax, who gives me peace. I have chosen to love him, have chosen to not be interested in others, and it’s not (usually) flutters and impulses, but it’s always easy to be with my best friend.

      My parents (married 72 years) have a poster on their wall that says: “The most romantic story is not Romeo and Juliet who died together, but Grandma and Grandpa growing old together.”

  15. Junior Dev*

    Thanks for the book recommendations last week, they all helped me with my situation. I think that it was really important to be able to sit with my feelings, and I’m glad people here had fiction recommendations to help me do that.

    An update: I talked to my friend today and I won’t go into detail but it seems like his mental health is bad enough that he didn’t realize his avoiding me was making me think he didn’t want to be friends anymore. I am not sure what exactly will happen next but I’m glad that we talked. I’m also glad I waited because last week I was definitely too in my feelings to have had this conversation go as calmly as it did.

    I think art is a great way to deal with things when you know you can’t *do* anything to fix the situation, but you have too many feelings to keep inside you. IDK, I wish I’d known that earlier in my life and turned to a good book instead of feeling like I had to Do Something every time I felt anxious.

    What’s some art (music, literature, movies, tv, games, anything else) that has helped you get through some stuff? How did you find it, or did it just happen to be in your life when you needed it?

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

      Streaming the BBC detective series *Death in Paradise*, a sunny, generally cheerful show set on a gorgeous tropical island, helped me get through a depressing winter beset with a bunch of minor catastrophes. Looking at all of the sun, sand, greenery, and water and following the narratives of the detectives and their lives cheered me up when my real life was kind of gnarly and gray. I think I first saw it recommended here in the weekend comments, and it did not disappoint!

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

        P.S. I’m so glad that speaking with your friend helped your friendship!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I also endorse Death in Paradise as a lovely way to just feel warm and comforted.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Music kept me vaguely sane during the first two years of the pandemic.

      Music I could cry to during solo walks in isolated places (pandemic stress + toxic job + grieving the loss of a friend): various albums by Aimee Mann, Conor Oberst, Jenny Lewis, and Better Oblivion Community Center. Easy finds, as it was stuff I’d already been listening to, or they were new-to-me materials by already favourite artists.

      Music to lighten up my mood at hard times: I got into the band Sparks after seeing Edgar Wright’s documentary about them. I love the level of whimsy in their lyrics and what I learned of their creative process – I wish I’d had granddads like them! The songs When Do I Get To Sing My Way, Piss Off, and Collaborations Don’t Work had me daydreaming of grand-gesture resignations during a grueling job hunt. Other songs I heard in the film, like This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us or Tips for Teens, are just such fun earworms to get into my head.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      The Great British BakeOff, classic version with Mel and Sue. Got me through radiation therapy and so I am probably incapable of objectively judging the show at this point.

      It celebrates the craft of doing something well–and that something is baking, which I also do. There are no villains–nothing in the format lets you screw over other people, and casting seems to have realized that you don’t need villains, or twists that disadvantage only one person. That a lop-sided cake can provide all the drama you need.

      The Repair Shop is in a similar vein. Baking and restoring are not the most efficient ways to obtain cakes or end tables, and we put in the effort for the craft for other reasons.

    4. Blue Cactus*

      The music of the Mountain Goats got me through my grandfather’s prolonged illness and death. I have a tendency to overly intellectualize my feelings, but something about their music helped me get past that and really feel the pain and anger and grief.

    5. Helvetica*

      Some lovely world cuisine shows on Netflix: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and Street Food: Asia, USA and Latin America. They portray specific foods and locations, so it is a mix of food with personal stories, which are very lovely, and I enjoyed a lot.
      Last year, when the war against Ukraine broke out, – I work on it – and I needed to cleanse my mind from work stuff in the evenings, the only thing I could watch, was Hercule Poirot. There is something deeply calm about those episodes – which were all available on Youtube! – and familiarity as I had seen quite a lot of them. You don’t need to follow it super closely or intensely, and most are quaint and charming.

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

        Seconding the Poirot series! I watched the whole thing during lockdown. It let me travel to faraway places when I couldn’t leave my apartment. And bless YouTube for having them.

        YouTube used to have some old *Columbo* episodes too, though now they only have snatches of them. I found those wonderfully soothing too, and the writing and acting generally still hold up well today.

        1. carcinization*

          My husband and I watched so much old Columbo during the pandemic because we have cable and one of the channels was showing it at a certain time of the week. It definitely helped.

    6. Qwerty*

      Covid Breakup – I had a child’s painting kit from one of the paint-and-wine places. I hosted an “art zoom” with my friends for us each to bring our projects – so I painted while the friend who joined made geometric art with colored pencils while we idly chatted. Really helped me keep my sanity – I had been working 14hr days, had either covid or pneumonia, and the white walls of my apartment felt like they were closing in on me after being trapped inside so long.

      Knitting/Crochet – This my version of therapy. I definitely talk to myself or channel any frustration into the yarn and work out my issues, plus I end up with a scarf or baby blanket to donate at the end.

  16. the cat's pajamas*

    Media tends to find me

    In my recent bad spell, I enjoyed “the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse”, I got a free 3 month subscription to apple tv,there’s also a book which might be available from your library, too.

    1. sagewhiz*

      The book is fantastic! Last year, a long-time, long-away for decades friend, out of the blue & for “no reason” reason sent it to me. We often go long periods out of touch but the friendship is so deep that doesn’t matter. Neither one of us had ever sent gifts, so its arrival was a complete surprise. I cannot express the joy it gave my heart, to know I was so loved by someone!

  17. Past Lurker*

    Anyone else seeing weird shaded angular sections in the AAM comments? It only happens on my phone, not on the laptop. Not happening in any other site. Maybe it’s one of the ads acting up. Or maybe it’s time to clear the cache.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Not having that problem, but I was having issues a couple of weeks back with maybe 15-20% of my comments randomly going to moderation. There didn’t really seem to be a pattern to it, but it seems to have more or less cleared up now, unless I write something that activates the filter.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I had this problem, too, last week. I had something like three comments in a row that were put into moderation, and then two that weren’t and then another that was–within a few days. It was weird!

      2. Mimmy*

        A lot of my posts get caught in moderation too. Alison has said that the filter gets wonky like that. Once Alison sees the posts, she releases them pretty quickly.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      And it looks like the next person down the thread is having the same issue as you!

    3. JSPA*

      reposting in right thread

      A few hours ago I had what looked like a little green-blue floating double chevron and…diamond, i think?

      “<<[ ]"

      more or less?

      (but rotate the square brackets to make a diamond rather than square)

  18. JSPA*

    A few hours ago I had what looked like a little green-blue floating double chevron and…diamond, i think?

    “<<[ ]"

    more or less?

  19. Filicophyta*

    I read Every Heart when it first came out. I had no idea it became a series. It was wonderful.

  20. jeanse*

    Thanks to everyone who commented on my pants question the other week! I ended up buying several identical pants, in a style that I know fits me, off of ebay. Best decision ever.

    I have another clothing question. Can anyone recommend a work appropriate, short-sleeve or sleeveless dress with pockets? Knit material preferable. It can be fairly casual. I have a hoodie dress that I was absolutely LIVING in over the winter, but it’s long-sleeved with thick material and unfortunately it’s not possible to wear in the step-out-of-the-office-rip-off-the-cardigan weather that’s coming up.

    1. RedinSC*

      I’ve had some really good luck with Banana Republic clothing, dresses, shirts and pants. I have gone to their outlet site and gotten some nice, well fitting things.

    2. Anono-me*

      Try searching “Maurices shirt dress knot front”. I love mine. It is like wearing a t-shirt.

    3. Atheist Nun*

      ScotteVest sells polyester blend travel dresses with numerous pockets. I have one style (now discontinued) that I find very comfortable and versatile for accessorizing. I think, however, that the knit is a little heavy for hot, humid summer weather. I would not wear it for days that are warmer than 85 F/30 C.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I feel like it’s become almost legendary on this site, but I have several dresses from wool& and I wear them at least 3-4 days a week. I don’t know that all their dresses have pockets, but the ones I own do have pockets (Willow, Sierra, and Summer).

    5. KatEnigma*

      Check out old navy. Most of their knit dresses have pockets.

      Heck, even Lane Bryant’s knit dresses now often have pockets.

      Someone got the memo, finally, that women need pockets.

    6. Nona Selah*

      I love my Karina dress – they have all sorts of styles and color/patterns for each. Very comfortable!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Coincidentally I’ve just seen linen-blend dresses at Costco of all places, including a sleeveless sheath with pockets. A little shorter than I wear, but still office appropriate. Worth looking on the website if you happen to have a membership.

      1. Mari*

        depending on how casual “fairly casual” is, they also often have dresses w/ pockets in their 32 cool line that are great for summer.

    8. Taki*

      Uniqlo has a lot of very simple dresses with pockets. They are basically Japanese H&M though I find them a little higher quality.

  21. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Normal and Cheerio are lovely and made me think of a cat fostering question. Let’s see if anyone has been here before.

    My partner and I are fostering two young, healthy, beautiful indoor cats in the UK. They have been with us six months now. They are a delight, and very easy to look after. We are in love with them, though right now we feel the permanent home they need is not ours (not excluding we’ll change our mind, but for this question, assume we’ve ruled out keeping them).

    The shelter had expected them to get adopted in a matter of weeks, but so far, they only sent us one family to meet them, who backed out. We suspect they are too small to attract more applications (volunteer staff stretched thin; they don’t seem to promote themselves much; they are not on social media). We reached out to friends and colleagues to help spread the word, but our networks are outside the shelter’s catchment areas for adoptions. Neither of us has a social media following large enough that posts would be boosted to a larger audience. Does anyone have any suggestions on other ways we could spread the word? I will think of a way to pay the cat tax in the comments, in the meantime :)

    1. Ideas*

      Flyers? Grocery-store pin boards? Craigslist/Local-Buy-Stuff-Or-Give-It-Away List? That’s how we got our cat.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        The local lists would be my first call. However, the major ones in my area are very specific that they don’t allow advertising pets.

        There’s a local Facebook group that may fit the bill. Some shelters advertise there, I’ve just not seen it done directly by fosterers.

        Really, I wish we had a closer relationship with the shelter staff so we could make a few suggestions and see if they’d be happy with us trying. However, they are very light-touch with us, and I sometimes get the sense that they perceive our asking questions as creating more work. There are some age and cultural differences at play, too, I suspect. And it’s ok, the cats are happy with us and can stay as long as they need. We just want to make sure finding them the best home doesn’t fall by the wayside.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          If NextDoor is used in your area, they have a specific exemption to their pet posting policy for rehoming pets. They even allow a small rehoming fee.

          1. Cookies For Breakfast*

            Interesting, thanks! The Nextdoor app is a total mess and we gave up on it quickly (tried it for a house move years ago), but this may be an occasion that makes it worth revisiting.

        2. WellRed*

          You are doing the shelter a favor and they are falling down on their responsibility to you and the cats. Reach out to them with your ideas. I would also think the longer you have the cats or the older they get, the harder it will be to find someone to adopt them so I wouldn’t wait to ramp it up.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah, keep in mind a short-sighted shelter can view it as a “win” if you keep the cats. If that’s not what you want you might have to advocate for yourself and them.

          2. Cookies For Breakfast*

            Yeah, that’s the thought lurking in my head. If it was my partner maintaining yhe day-to-day contact with the shelter, I’m sure he’d put it in those terms exactly, but…it’s me. I’m as conflict-averse as they come, and haven’t managed to go beyond regular questions about whether they got any new suitable applicants.

            The shelter came recommended by people who adopted several cats from them, so pir experience has been a little surprising. And again, I’m not complaining. I love that those two are in our lives right now, and want to do right by them in the long run.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          A store that doesn’t allow pet posts might allow a post for the shelter itself. And the shelter may have a flier template that you could print & post for them… ideally one you can update to show your fosters’ pictures.

    2. Sloanicota*

      When I had cats I was determined to see off to new homes, I asked my local brewery if I could bring them in on a quiet day (these were very sturdy adolescent cats) fenced off in one section with a sign. Several people “fell in love.” Obviously they don’t get to take the cats that day, they have to go through proper (sober) procedures, but it was effective, and it cut down one step because they’d already met the cat. Similarly around here our shelter matches fosterers up with Petsmarts and pet fairs – not sure what the UK equivalent is – which has a fast success rate. You need to get them out there a bit!

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I love your local brewery idea! And I’d love for more people to meet them in person, because they’re curious, funny cats that get used to strangers quickly (and we’re so proud of them, as if they were our own). I’ll have a think about what opportunities there may be.

        I guess the Petsmart equivalent here would be Pets at Home, so that’s another thing I’ll check out. I also thought of asking the vet if they’d let me put up a flyer, but their board looked small and empty when I was there recently.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Oh I like the flyer idea – even if the flier itself isn’t used much, the vet and vet staff could be in the right circumstance to bring it up to people if they hear of someone looking for a cat or cats.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Our shelter does adoption events at a local pet supply store. Perhaps you could ask around and see if any stires do this?

      I have also received referrals for a pet I wanted to adopt through my vet. They know when someone has lost a pet and might be looking for another.

    4. Charlie*

      If you are up for it, you could maybe volunteer to run the shelter’s social media. It sounds like you’re posting on social media anyway, so it needn’t necessarily be a big job. Even if you only made 1-2 posts a week, that would be a whole lot more than what they have going on at the moment. So you could keep it manageable for you, and direct all enquiries to contact the shelter directly. You could maybe liaise directly with the other fosterers to get photos, so it wouldn’t create an additional burden to the shelter volunteers.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I thought about it, largely because I follow many cat accounts I find delightful. And… I’m just not that much of a social media person. I barely post on my one personal account, so I don’t fancy my odds with managing a more “professional” page. But it’s been at the back of my mind a while, and may be a suggestion I actually make if I can get some headspace back from other life stuff.

  22. Rough Night*

    Today was like a comedy of errors. At about noon, right before I have to leave for work, the fan in our bedroom window (that had been there since 8am!) decided to jump out of the window and knock over a full glass of coke on the nightstand underneath it. Awesome sauce. Luckily my boyfriend was home to be able to take care of it.

    Then, just moments ago, the toilet decided to overflow. At 2am. Thank goodness for Google so I could figure out how to fix it without waking the boyfriend up. But that was a bit of excitement I could have done without after a long night at work. Especially with a long day ahead of me tomorrow.

    All this on top of a week that’s been…. long. Very long. And I picked up a personal favor (building a gift basket! which I love to do!) on a self imposed tight deadline (why did I say I could have it done by Sunday afternoon?!).

    Anyone else having a week of all weeks? Or having a fantastic week I could live vicariously through? (lol).

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Last week was my week of all weeks.

      Tying up loose ends of a nightmare home improvement project that consumed us completely over the past month? Check (it’s still not finished, oh joy).

      Cat feeling poorly two days before travelling, with last-minute trip to the vet on public transport, in sweltering heat? Check.

      Flight cancelled the morning of our trip, with not even an email notification? Also check.

      And now, on the last day of a very relaxing beach holiday, I feel so appreciative of every minute of respite I’ve had. Sending good vibes your way, in the hope calmer times are around the corner for you too.

    2. Anima*

      I slept 10 hours last night because my week so far contained:
      – 6 hours normal work
      – a 30 min presentation at uni, which my group only finished the night before and only two out of four group partners where there for (planned, group and prof knew beforehand)
      – right after 2 h working on another group project with the group in person
      I forgot to plan for time to eat that day, when I returned home it was 8 pm and I was fried
      – having a carpenter over early in the morny to check on our burnt floor; we had a small house fire two weeks before and work with the landlord to get the floor fixed
      – an important meeting with a client at work within a normal 8 hour day, I work remote so I spent most of this day in meetings to prepare for the *meeting*
      – landlord called after work
      – a normal 6 hour workday with quite a bit of meetings
      – groupwork for uni after school
      – another presentation for uni, the code for that was also just finished the night before
      – studying for exams
      – having a sewing machine go up in flames (I needed to do something with my hands, now I’m out of a sewing machine and concerned about my flats electrical installation; small house fire was electrical also)
      – uni from 8 to 13 without a break because I also forgot to shedule time to eat
      – not getting my backup sewing machine to sew

      When I list all of that, it’s no wonder I slept for 10h! Bit of a long week it has been, but this is kinda my normal…

      1. kina lillet*

        Dude omg. That is a huge number of electrical fires. Is your landlord fixing the wiring??? Is the fire department able to send out an inspector??????

        1. Anima*

          The number so far is 2, but I am considering having an electrician over, yes. The sewing machine might have been a coincidence; it was vintage and I hadn’t really ever used it before….

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            To be fair, any number of electrical fires that is greater than zero probably warrants an electrician :)

            1. kina lillet*

              Yes, one is scary and two is call someone. An electrician you trust and maybe a fire inspector who will bring the city’s weight to bear on your landlord if necessary.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Call pest control too if you can–many electrical problems start with pesties nibbling on wires!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I, also, am concerned about your flat’s electrical installation.

        As others have said, this is the time to get in an electrician. Someone with enough experience to know what they don’t know.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Here’s a happy outcome for you.

      My 19-year-old cat had been to the vet last month because he wasn’t eating enough, and was looking way too thin. (Down from 12 pounds at his chunkiest to 7.75) We put him on an anti-depressant that stimulates appetite (. Mirataz), but then he seemed to be struggling to go to the litter box. I was afraid he was going to have to be put down.

      Fortunately, the vet was able to see him in only two days – that was Wednesday.

      The good news is that A) he gained a whole pound, and B) he just has a UTI. After 6 doses (so far) of antibiotic, we can already see improvement!

    4. Tris Prior*

      I have told my partner several times that whatever it is that, when retrograde, turns people into giant a-holes is retrograding hard. People at my work are nasty. People at his work are nasty. Everyone is snapping at everyone. I had a side hustle customer chew me out and give me a one star rating online for a really stupid reason.

      It’s wearing on me! A lovely night with friends at a pool helped a lot though!

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

        Wow, you noticed that too? I had a stranger be a total tool to me when I was being polite and friendly this week. Whatever it is, I hope the stars shift soon.

  23. Happy Holiday*

    Oh no! Nothing like a flying fan and temperamental toilet to book end your day. Sadly, I’ve had too many days and weeks like that to count lately. But cheers to us and our luck turning quickly!

    1. Rough Night*

      Cheers to that!

      Flying fan and temperamental toilet perfectly describes my day. Add in a side of wait what? for when I was at work and that describes my day perfectly lol.

    2. really*

      New disposal that ends with a new kitchen faucet.
      Water heater that turns out to be working. The problem is the circuit so will be upgrading the electrical box.
      Started the year with a new car and last month a new roof with a new refrigerator in between. 2023 may be more expensive than any year of kids’ college expenses.

  24. The Prettiest Curse*

    Is there a building or piece of public art in your city (or a city you know) that everyone seemed to hate at first, then changed their minds about over time, to the point where they became a symbol of the city?

    Examples of this would be the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco (they demolished some historical buildings to make way for it, so that probably didn’t help) and the Superlambanana in Liverpool, which is a bright yellow sculpture of a lamb morphing into a banana that initally attracted some really wild criticism.

    I’ve always wondered if opinions change because new people come into the city and think “hey, this is actually pretty cool” or because memories fade and people get used to something that’s strange to them at first, or some other reason. And have you ever changed your mind about a landmark that you initially hated?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Arguably, the Spire in Dublin. I still think it’s pretty ridiculous. They spent like 70 or 80 years deciding what should go there and…they came up with…a giant needle? But it is hard to imagine Dublin without it now.

      I think in the case of the Spire, people just got used to it. Not sure if anybody actually likes it; I guess some people must, but it’s just there and you just take it as part of Dublin city centre, whereas at first, it was like “out of all the suggestions, that was the decision!” (I assume it was to avoid any kind of controversy; it couldn’t offend anybody in the way a statue to somebody could.)

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, I agree that’s the type of public art you end up with when people don’t want to do anything representational. It makes a nice contrast with its historical surroundings, though.

    2. Still*

      In Wrocław, Poland, there is a fountain called “Zdrój” in the market square. People hated the idea (it’s made of glass and granite and people didn’t think it would fit with the historical buildings surrounding it) and it was initially only meant to be there for two years. Twenty years later, it’s still there, and it’s become a meeting point and definitely somewhat of a symbol. I think there would be a lot of upset people if they tried to remove it at this point.

      If you wanna take a look at it, googling “fontanna zdrój rynek wrocław” should do the trick.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I did Google it, and it’s not the greatest fountain ever, but definitely not the worst either. But then, I like fountains a lot, so I’m biased.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            I also like it! I understand the general criticism of putting something modern in an area with historic and gorgeous buildings, but I think the fountain is the best possible modernist fountain you can put in that space.

    3. Blue Cactus*

      I grew up in Denver, and there is a huge blue horse stature with glowing evil LED red eyes outside the airport, which has been affectionately named Bluecifer. A lot of people hated it when I was a kid, but now it’s become a favorite local landmark.

      1. CatCat*

        I saw that thing when I went to Denver several years back and never heard of it before. I was aghast when I saw this enormous demon horse, and even more aghast when Lyft driver explained it’s backstory.

        For anyone who is unfamiliar, Google “Bluecifer.” Absolutely fascinating.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’d heard of that sculpture before, and always thought it was amazing, even though the eyes are a bit over the top!
        From the sculpture’s Wikipedia page:

        A Facebook group made in 2009 garnered national attention for requesting that the sculpture be removed, but the creator of the page eventually decided she wanted the statue to stay.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        When they built the Denver airport, it became clear that they had angered something. I recall them bringing in the local indigenous leaders in case they had the line on whatever being needed to be placated.

        “Channel the energy into a demon horse” is as rational a solution as anything else.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I think the bad energy all got channeled onto the unfortunate sculptor of the horse statue, who was killed in his studio when a model of it fell on him.

            1. MEH Squared*

              It was actually the statue itself. He was working on it and a part of it fell and severed an artery in his leg. It’s really sad.

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                Thank you for the correction, turns out I mis-remembered the Wikipedia article.

      4. Generic Name*

        Yep. I was going to mention Bluecifer. I love it. To me, it represents the harshness of living in the West (where I’ve lived my whole life).

      5. Anthology*

        I can’t help but wonder what the aliens would think, when I see something like this. Do humans worship demon horses? Is this a memorial to what we used to ride, before the metal sky birds hunted them all into extinction?

        1. Blue Cactus*

          I like to think of it as a monster scarecrow. If Godzilla comes calling, he’ll see that we’ve already got a monster who he’d have to fight. And no one wants to fight Blucifer.

      6. crookedglasses*

        Yesssss as soon as I saw this question I immediately thought of Bluecifer. Hands down one of my all-time favorite pieces of art.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Absolutely! It’s been there my entire life & is such a symbol now! But many people hated it when it was first installed.

        I think it looks friendly & like something from The Creature Shop.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Hee hee, that always reminds me of Crow on MST going “Picasso’s Woman! Looks like a baboon!”

    4. fposte*

      I think it eventually becomes either part of the landscape or “it’s weird, but it’s *our* weird.” Isn’t the Eiffel Tower one of the most famous examples of this?

      For Chicago, the Picasso is the big one, figuratively and literally. Apparently it is credited with moving public art away from historical statues to less biographical works.

      1. AGD*

        I thought of the Eiffel Tower too!

        People often hate change, but at some point there comes a generation who grows up with a thing and it’s normal.

        I live in a gorgeous Victorian/Edwardian neighborhood, and (as I recall) at the time of construction, a lot of townspeople thought all these newfangled houses looked pretty much identical as if they came off an assembly line and certainly had none of the charm of the past.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ve seen the “weird, but it’s our weird” for statues of boring old white dudes in frock coats, bonus points if the connection between dude and town is pretty nonexistent. He becomes that bronze dude we dress up for all the town festivals.

      3. NeutralJanet*

        “Weird but our weird” is pretty much the whole Philly attitude, I think–we’ll complain about the city all day but don’t anyone else dare. He’s not a landmark, but Gritty is a great example of this, we were all “what the hell is that” when he was introduced, but then the rest of the country started in on him and we immediately started going “he’s GRITTY and he’s OURS and SCREW YOU if you have a problem”.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I love Gritty! I know nothing about ice hockey, but Gritty is the best mascot of any sports team, ever.

    5. Lime green Pacer*

      Not exactly art, but a pedestrian bridge. Calgary’s Peace Bridge was commissioned from noted designer Santiago Calatrava. The design was mocked, it was definitely excess to requirements and way too expensive, the initial installation and ongoing upkeep has been a nightmare… but the locals have definitely warmed to it despite all the hassles.

      1. Tristram*

        Seconding this! I started out a resentful skeptic (why does a pedestrian bridge need to look like a stent?) and am now a fan. Every spring it gets taken over by students taking prom pictures and the extreme architecture + extreme flouncy dresses are a sight.

    6. bassclefchick*

      At the Chazen Art Museum in Madison, Wisconsin, there’s a goat statue. I don’t know if I love it, hate it, am afraid of it, or fascinated by it. Every time I go to the museum and see it, my jaw drops and my brain shorts out because I don’t really know what I’m looking at. A simple Google search of “Chazen goat statue” will work.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I Googled this one too, and holy anatomical accuracy, Batman! I’m not sure from the photos whether the goats are supposed to look like they’re kissing, fighting or both. It’s like an animal version of classical Greek sculpture.

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

      When I first moved to Philly, I thought the Rocky statue was the stupidest thing ever. I still think it’s very silly, but I can’t help but get a kick out of the sheer diversity of folks lining up to take their picture with it, and I genuinely enjoy the people who will come to the art museum at all hours of the night and day just to race their friends/family up and down the art museum steps. It’s such a simple pleasure, so goofy, and I will almost certainly never watch the Rocky movies, but I have to admit that I’m grateful to have this absolutely ridiculous cultural icon in my life.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d say it’s worth watching the first one. Feel free to look away during the fight sequences (& to skip the sequels) because there’s a story there besides the training montage.

    8. Llellayena*

      Several years ago my area had an art installation/fundraiser thing that involved community painted fiberglass cows (yes, you read that right). They were kinda cute and interesting when they came out but since they were temporary I didn’t think much beyond that. Unfortunately the fundraiser part was that people and businesses could bid on the cows. Now they’re on display in front of all the places that “won” them. That’s when I started to be very annoyed at them. But now they’re just part of the landscape and I notice if something changed about them (one of them gets wrapped in white plastic for winter).

      1. WellRed*

        We had something similar only it’s lighthouses instead of cows. I see one occasionally now and then.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It was horses in the towns around Belmont Racetrack. I’ve also seen apples in New England.

    9. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Not in my town, but I remember when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was first erected in Washington there was enormous controversy because many people had expected a more traditional type of statue and in fact added a more realistic one in the vicinity to compensate. Now the wall has become a venerated part of the city and I couldn’t imagine anything else replacing it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is a good example of one way it happens – the Wall was just a little ahead of its time, people were expecting something more like what they were used to – but then everyone caught up and now I think it’s actually more solemn-feeling and appropriate than a more traditional statue would have been, and now it’s not an uncommon type of memorial to see. Of course some people probably still don’t like the Wall but it’s not as far outside the norm so probably not as offensive to them.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I’ve always thought that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was one of the prime examples of a piece of art that was controversial at first, but loved later on. (Apparently, it was voted one of America’s top 10 favourite pieces of architecture.) I think whatever design was chosen for the memorial, it was likely to be controversial, just because there is absolutely no way to please all the survivors, friends and family members when you’re designing a memorial for so many dead people.

          The original controversy is so interesting to me, because it had multiple sources – part of it was that people were used to seeing memorials from previous wars, and this wasn’t anything like those, part of it was thinly-veiled racism and sexism because it was designed by a young Chinese-American woman, part of it was due to the colour of the marble (people hated that it was dark) and part of it was that people just weren’t ready for it. Several of the Vietnam veterans that Ken Burns interviews in his documentary about the war go on this journey of hating the memorial and not wanting to go there, then going there and finding it really moving. And I think that journey demonstrates how people cope with fighting in a war, because it seems that you get through the actual combat by just focusing on yourself and the people immediately around you and what you have to do. Even though you know there’s a larger conflict going on, you can’t really think about it because you’ll lose focus. But when you come home and the war is over, you can’t escape from the enormity of it and from knowing how many people died. The way the veterans talk about the memorial, it’s clear that their initial dislike for it was partly because (entirely understandably) they just couldn’t stand to think about how many dead people it represented. But then they visited it and found the names of their dead friends on it and touched those names. So even though the memorial meant that they couldn’t escape from looking at the bigger picture, they coped with seeing the bigger picture by zooming in on the personal. And because it’s a good memorial, it allowed them to do both of those things. And the dark marble, I think, represented the darkness and sadness that the survivors felt at so many deaths, and that’s why it was initially too much for some of them, because they couldn’t let themselves think about that.

          There’s a white marble war memorial in a town close to where I grew up. It’s a portico with the names of town residents who died in World War I and World War II engraved on it. It’s very pretty and serene, but it doesn’t really convey anything of the horrors of war, and it doesn’t really make you feel anything. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial somehow does both of those things, and I think that’s why people hate it and love it.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Oh, gosh, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial… I didn’t hate it, exactly, but remember being underwhelmed when it was first opened – though I should add that I didn’t live anywhere near DC and only saw photos and video of it. But when I visited DC a few years back and walked the Wall in person, its impact was amazing – I felt the weight of it increasing as I moved along.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      People in Seattle were soooo mad about the Experience Music Project (now MoPOP) because it looks like a giant pile of crumpled technicolor garbage. I don’t know if we generally like it now or have just gotten used to it but I’ve always thought it was cool looking.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I always thought it looks like somebody turned a giant giraffe inside out.

    11. londonedit*

      The (as was) Millennium Dome was the subject of absolute ridicule when it was built in time for the turn of the year 2000. It was over budget, I think it was late, it was seen as a giant white elephant in the middle of a bit of London no one ever went to with very little development, and the initial Millennium exhibition that was on there was generally seen as being a bit stupid and pointless. British people absolutely love to take the piss out of things like that. I think most people assumed it’d be pulled down amid much embarrassment and tutting about the waste of money.

      23 years later it’s still going, it’s a huge music venue with shops, bars and restaurants that plays host to the biggest international artists, and the whole area has been developed. You can even go up and walk across the roof of the now-O2 Arena – you wear a special suit with a harness and you’re roped on to a walkway. It’s a famous London landmark these days.

      Still a bloody nightmare to get home if you go to a gig there, but it’s a famous London landmark!

    12. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Oh boy…the pier in St. Petersburg, FL, where I spent 11 years until moving last year to NC. Old pier was an…inverted pyramid with a…70s vibe? People STILL miss it. New pier is a concrete THING (decided on after about 7 years of designs and voting). But visitors seem to LOVE it (nature center, restaurants, etc), and old-timer residents either are OK with it, or still talk about the old inverted pyramid. I just want good views and a nice glass of wine, so the building itself comes second! The new pier actually is an entire complex now with splash pad, parks, event spaces, places to sit and see the water, a tram to take you to the pier itself, vendors/markets, etc.

    13. Anonymous Cornellian*

      How about a whole art museum? My alma mater has a 1973 building designed by I.M. Pei that is about as brutalist as it gets. A lot of people hated it. By the time I went, it was fondly referred to as the sewing machine or an Imperial Walker (Star Wars AT-AT). By the time I was being asked for alumni donations, people were worrying that an addition would “ruin it”.

      1. Another AC*

        Whoa, good call! Didn’t even think of this one. I graduated sometime in the first decade of this century and the only thing I resented about the Johnson Museum was that I’d never tried going up to the top before a point hilariously close to graduation.

    14. Solokid*

      I’m waiting to see if “The Embrace” in Boston becomes beloved. It was roundly panned when it was unveiled.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, that’s a new one, it will be interesting to see what people think of it in 10-15 years’ time. With public art especially, I think it takes a while for people to get all their initial snarky thoughts out of the way and get over the shock of something new in their visual landscape.

    15. *daha**

      Grand Rapids, Michigan has La Grande Vitesse, a building-sized abstract sculpture by Alexander Calder. It was funded by a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and a number of local organizations and individuals. There were objections early on, some ardent critics now, and many who point to it as an object of pride. I don’t have passion for it either way.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        That’s an interesting one. I’d probably have to see it in person to fully appreciate it because you can’t fully gauge the size from photos. I think strong, bright colours in public art often get people really worked up. Most cities are so monotone that I like anything that adds a bit of variety.

    16. Knighthope*

      The “Male/Female” statue in front of the Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Baltimore, Maryland, USA may have won over a few since its installation. But not many.

    17. MEH Squared*

      In Minneapolis, there is the Walker Art Center. They have a sculpture garden. Spoonbridge and Cherry was a sculpture created in 1987. It was, well, a spoonbridge with a cherry in the curved part of the spoon. It’s over fifty feet long and sits on a pond. Debates were lively when it was installed, but it’s beloved now.

    18. Retail Not Retail*

      The Pyramid in Memphis had varied reactions when it was built in the early 90s… but by god did we hate when bass pro bought it and slapped a HUGE logo on the side.

      I think we still do… it’s so ugly. But more recent tourists think it’s southern tacky so alas.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Just looked that one up. The actual pyramid is fine, but the logo is a hideous addition! I think the problem might be that there’s a much bigger surface area for logos on a pyramid than a building with a more conventional shape, so they just made it way too big.

    19. The Shenanigans*

      My current city has a habit of doing random art installations. Because of this there are painted fish sculptures and murals of local history in the most random of places. It is kind of cool.

  25. Sloucher*

    I’m looking for help figuring out how to stop slouching at my desk.

    I’m short and have a smallish desk, so I have a simple task chair (the kind where the seat is almost the same size as the back) with no arms so I can have the chair at it’s highest height. I have a wooden stool to put my feet on (otherwise they’d be dangling several inches above the floor). I’ve noticed that when I use my desk lately, even if I’m only sitting there for an hour or so browsing the internet, I start slouching/sliding down in the chair. Which is probably not good for my wrists or back.

    The chair I have at work is fancier and bigger with arms. I have it at it’s full height, but the adjustable arms somehow don’t get in the way. The plastic footrest I have seems low, but maybe the chair is lower so it works. I don’t notice myself slouching/sliding down in the chair even though I’m sitting there for eight hours a day.

    Do any short people have suggestions for chairs or footrests that keep you from slouching? Or has anyone found another way to stop slouching at their desk?

    1. NotBatman*

      I’m typing this with both feet on an old encyclopedia, so: my sympathies.

      One that has worked for me is getting a seat cushion designed for driving, and then using it in my office chair. It doesn’t look cool, but it gets me sitting high enough to be comfortable.

      Another one my physical therapist recommended for lower back pain: I have a subtle timer on my desk that clicks every 30 minutes, and I’m supposed to stop and do a quick stretch (just shifting my back/shoulders around, nothing fancy) every time it does click off. That helps me not end up sliding into an uncomfortable posture that I then keep indefinitely.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      This might be too out of the box for you, but the only real solution that I’ve found is to stretch out those muscles which hold you upright. I do a yoga sun salutation every morning which takes a few minutes but seems to make me more aware of my back for the day. It doesn’t cure slouching entirely but I notice that I do it a lot more if I skip my routine.

    3. Anthology*

      I am also short, specifically all torso and no legs. My bestie calls me Cheddar (after the corgi on B99).

      Shortie-friendly furniture only got me so far, then it became a matter of making slouching too uncomfortable to do. I started wearing a longline boned bra on work days, which digs in painfully if I slouch.

    4. Reba*

      Are you using a laptop or do you have a monitor? Using an external monitor or a stand that raises the laptop will help direct your gaze straight instead of down at the tabletop.

      A lumbar support pillow could be worth a try. (I have one that I mainly use for long drives.)

      Long term solution, strengthening your back and core helps!

      1. Observer*

        Yes. If you are using a laptop, get an external monitor. It makes an ENORMOUS difference.

  26. NotBatman*

    Low-stakes question: what’s with the double question marks I sometimes see at the end of emails from young people?

    I work with teens, and to me “When are we meeting??” feels so much more aggressive to me than “When are we meeting?” but is it just a common typo? Is it supposed to be informal? Does anyone know?

    1. kina lillet*

      As someone who just posted a comment with extra question marks, it depends. It’s likely not a typo—just a similar phenomenon to the exclamation point renaissance. So, a tone marker appropriate to the context.

    2. JustForThis*

      I’d also assume that the double question marks are a marker of emotional intensity — but I would usually not read it as aggressive, rather as driven by some kind of anxiety / insecurity, and possibly signalling the importance the meeting has to the sender.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I’d say it’s enthusiasm or possibly heightened emotions. I do this I guess. “when are we meeting” feels bland or like I’m interrogating someone.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I really like this example of how emotional intensity can be read as different emotions.

      3. Mild Accountant*

        Yeah, that’s how I generally use multiple punctuation marks as well (I am firmly middle aged, but I have been online before any of those teens were born). Just be thankful they’re not doing this still!!!!11!!!!!1!one!ichi

        That said, in more “formal” emails (like at work or to customer service or something), I’m more buttoned up. In group chats I’m completely unhinged. (To be fair, just in general I’m unhinged, so that’s just an artifact of me being me.)

        All that said, if I’m actually asking for something, that’s usually a one question mark thing. Multiple question marks are confusion (or shock), while zero is…not a question, it’s a demand. I read far too much into the number of punctuation marks.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I get why that feels aggressive, but I read it as urgent or emotive. I’d send it if I was feeling especially confused or hurried, or especially puzzled.

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

      I would have to know the context, but for me (elder millennial), I would probably use them to convey enthusiasm. One question mark alone sounds very neutral or even bored to me. But 2 question marks is how I express that I’m eager.

      1. Venus*

        This is me. I use extra punctuation when I’m excited. I do it with people who know me well so they would take “When are we meeting??” or “When are we meeting?!?!!” as a positive.

      2. NotBatman*

        The context is usually emails that have urgent 1o-minutes-before-deadline questions, or second requests for clarification. So interpreting it as desperation makes sense.

    5. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I am not “a young person” anymore but I tend to use punctuation informally to signal an increase of unsureness or incredulity on my part.
      So “When are we meeting?” is me simply asking you for the meet-up time. “When are we meeting??” more of a “Wait what, did we say again? I can’t seem to remember! Help!” And “When are we meeting???” is either incredulous surprise or completely being out of the loop but really meeding an answer now.

      For others it might simply be a typo though xD

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yeah, I am not young person either and I use double question marks in this way as is “We’re having a meeting today??”

    6. Workerbee*

      I have noticed this happen to me with voice to text.

      Voice to text may make a sad hash of what I am actually enunciating, but by god, will it ever assign double question marks if it thinks it detects the slightest whiff of urgency.

      1. Ampersand*

        It could be—everyone seems to approach this differently, ha.

        I signify rhetorical question (or incredulity) with a period. e.g., What.

        Or with ?!

        Two questions marks=I really want/need to know or am expressing excitement about something.

    7. Lemonwhirl*

      Not a young person, but I use extra question marks when I’m not sure of my answer or when I’m asking a question that I’ve probably been told the answer to but I can’t remember or that we discussed but didn’t formally agree on anything.

      For me, it’s an indicator of confusion or uncertainty beyond the regular question mark.

      1. NotBatman*

        Thanks for the clarification! I often get it in that context, with exchanges like:

        Me: Let’s meet in Elm Room on Monday at 3:15.
        Them: Okay!
        Me: See you then!
        Them: When’s the meeting??

        Probably part of why I have such a strong negative reaction to it. It’s often someone asking for information that is written down in the same email chain they’re replying to.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      It’s certainly informal, but I always read the double question mark as real puzzlement as opposed to just needing to know something. So it’s not necessarily aggressive. I mean, it could be aggressive, if it’s inferring “I am really puzzled; how are we supposed to know when we are meeting unless you tell us?” but it could also be read apologetically: “I should have remembered this/asked earlier but I’m puzzled about what time we are meeting” If there’s a lack of further context I would just read it as: “I’m puzzled about when we are meeting”. In the case of teenagers though, they’re still figuring out norms so it’s really important to ask them what they are trying to convey. A lot of the time it’s just something they’ve seen someone else do.

    9. Odge*

      I think there’s a culture among younger/more online people where more question marks = more casual. So if “When are we meeting?” is the “official” way to ask a question, two question marks could be a way of making the message softer/more friendly/not asking in an “official” way. Have you asked them about it? Parsing out the differences in people’s expectations of language is so interesting to me.

    10. Junior Dev*

      Side note: the book Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch is full of interesting observations about things like this. I especially like the part about generational differences in ellipsis use.

      1. NotBatman*

        I think that’s almost certainly part of it. I’ve learned “???” is similar to saying “what the f***” so reading “when’s our meeting???” feels like someone’s shouting that in my face.

        1. Ampersand*

          This reminds me—I thought for years a friend was basically conveying wtf?! over text with her ?? messages to me. And then I learned that it was a glitch with my iPhone not displaying emoji sent from her android correctly. Still amused by that. :)

        2. The Shenanigans*

          yeah, I use ??? mainly in response to some of my partner’s voice texts. Apparently, his phone doesn’t like his regional accent and constantly mangles what he says. I can usually figuring iut what he’s getting at but sometimes, man, I think his phone is inventing sone sort of language of its own lol.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That is the phone autocorrect, and they either didn’t notice it or hit send reflexively so can’t fix it. It happens to me all the time. You are reading way too much into it.

    12. Maggie*

      Idk I’m not that young, in my thirties but I do they all the time, it’s not aggressive it’s more excitement like “yay glad you’re free what time do you wanna meet??”

  27. Time for Makeup*

    Makeup wearing questions. What is the cheapest makeup product you use? The priciest? And which of your products is your fave? Tell a bit about your skin first.
    I’ll start: white, older, drier skin. Cheapest: aquaphor/vaseline/chapstick on lips (bonus if tinted). Priciest: Blink mascara. Only kind I’ve ever found that doesn’t smudge on me. Fave: Clairol root powder…I use it on my graying brows and it actually works/sticks/looks good.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Cheapest: Revolution root powder (their red is really good, and has no transfer onto your pillow like with the sprays) and Klorane dry shampoo which is soothing and unscented. Most expensive: Chantecaille Just Skin tinted moisturizer. It seems expensive, but it lasts forever without degrading in quality, goes on like a dream, you only need small amounts, and the rosewater negates the usual problem I have with finding makeup too drying.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      White, older, and dry. Coconut oil — and that’s about it! I had two women colleagues tell me within a week of each other, completely apropos of nothing else going on, that I had great skin.

      I’m very impatient with makeup although my fantasy self wears nice eyes. Tartt is my favorite brand that I don’t wear.

    3. Sloanicota*

      The makeup I’ll spend money on is lipstick, because I find most of the true reds I like for dressing up will smudge embarrassingly or fade to nasty orange over time if I buy them at a drugstore. It’s a rare event where I don’t end up eating or drinking something. I have to go into a real makeup store and get an attendant to help me with them LOL. Cheapest is eyeliner – the 2.99 at the drug store seems to work fine for me (maybe because I don’t tend to rub my eyes as much).

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I mostly use cheap makeup from drugstore counters. Rimmel mascara and eye pencil have been my go-tos since my teenage years. They used to make a budget foundation that was perfect for me, but they discontinued it a few years ago, and I’ve had trouble finding an alternative.

      My skin: probably combination, first slight signs of aging. I never had a single zit up to the age of 30, when, like clockwork, adult acne appeared. I have very red cheeks, which I don’t like, so I want my foundation to be whiter than white in winter.

      After years of trial and error, I settled on Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation. It’s a lot more expensive than I’d normally go for, but I wear it rarely, and have a department store gift card to cover two bottles. It doesn’t break me out at all, and gives exactly the coverage I want.

      My favourite product is the Bioderma tinted moisturiser I use in summer. Lighter than foundation, really nice coverage when my face has a bit of a tan. It’s meant to help with redness too and it definitely evens out my skin a lot. I feel I look my best when wearing it. Shame it’s too dark for me the rest of the year!

    5. RussianInTexas*

      Cheapest: probably my drug store mascara. I don’t use it often anymore, so a lot less qualms about throwing away a dried up one. I don’t love it as much as my Tarte mascara, but also, no wasted money But also, even though I don’t consider them makeup per se, Birts Bees lip balms.
      Priciest: per oz, probably the Urban Decay eyeshadow primer. Nars blush.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        My skin care is fairly pricey: Clinique gel for the day time, Origins night moisturizer, ROC eye cream, collagen nighttime serum.
        By trial and error, this combination causes the least breakouts.

      2. may spring rain*

        Ooo, seconding Nars blush. Expensive but so natural looking. Also, cheapest moisturizer I use is sunscreen, every day.

    6. Artemesia*

      I have used mentholatum on my lips especially at night forever — mentholated petroleum jelly. I have lips that peel easily and this stuff keeps that under control. during the day I use one of the paint on lip colors with the separate top gloss; not cheap except for not having to renew them all day except for chapstick or the top coat. The colors really do last.

      Cerve moisurizer with hyaluronic (sp?) acid makes all the difference — use one with sunscreen during the day. I took a 5 day side trip to Annecy in the mountains of France last year and only took minimal things in a backpack including a moisturizer with sunscreen but not the one with the hyaluronic acid. In just a couple of days, my old self was noticeably more wrinkly. I actually found a Monoprix to buy a better product with this ingredient and other anti wrinkle ingredients — they really do work.

    7. londonedit*

      I’m early 40s, white, combination skin with first signs of ageing. I don’t use much make-up – usually just mattifying primer, CC cream (on top of my SPF 50 moisturiser) and mascara. Cheapest is the primer – it’s from Primark and is £4.50 a jar, and it’s a dupe of something very expensive that I can’t remember the name of. Really good! The most expensive is the CC cream, which is Erborian and is about £30. A little goes a long way, though, and it’s so good – it comes out of the tube white but then it blends to your skin tone and it gives just enough colour and coverage without looking too much or highlighting wrinkles etc. It just makes your skin look like a better version of itself.

    8. GraceC*

      Mid-20s, oily skin and occasional acne breakouts with an unknown cause, so white I’m translucent

      Priciest single item – Hourglass Confession lipsticks – I have four, although I only bought the multipacks on sale. Gorgeous formula, longest-lasting satin finish I’ve tries

      Priciest combo item – my years-long struggle to find a skincare combo that gives benefits and SPF but doesn’t kick off the acne (failures become body moisturisers, so they do still get used)

      Cheapest holy grail – Rimmel eye primer, I’ve found it works amazingly on oily lids, and O’Keefe’s Lip Remedy balm

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Cheapest is jojoba oil (use it to take off my makeup) and aquaphor
      Priciest is maybe Laura Mercier tinted foundation or Dior masacara

    10. Seashell*

      Nothing very pricey – Glossier mascara (I like that it looks natural rather than like fake lashes), Neutrogena foundation, Cover Girl blush, whatever random lipstick I find in the drugstore

    11. sewsandreads*

      Cheapest would be my micellar water. I only buy it when it’s on special at the chemist’s.

      Most expensive… yikes. Most things that end up on my face are — a MUA friend of mine got me wearing Hourglass products once, and I’ve never looked back. They’re the only ones I’ve found that don’t sit on my skin and look cakey, and they last so long even without setting spray or anything.

  28. Crocheter*

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a good online crochet community? I’d like someplace friendly and supportive to post pictures, see other creations, and get inspiration – especially anything focused on amigurumi or plushies.

    I’ve tried a couple groups and learned that crochet is apparently the black sheep of the fiber arts world. That led to some unexpected and unpleasant dynamics that I’m hoping to avoid going forward.

    1. Bon Voyage*

      Would Ravelry do the trick? I remember there being crochet knitting resources, though it may be less social than you’re aiming for.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        There are lots of crochet groups on Ravelry! The group forums can be extremely sociable. (You can visit a forum before deciding whether or not to join the group.) Since there are tens of thousands of members on Ravelry, there’s bound to be something that appeals to anyone.

        I’m particularly impressed by the amigurumi ones. Probably because I can’t imagine myself ever succeeding in making such things.

    2. Lifelong student*

      on FB there are lots of groups. Crochet, my Knotty Hobby, Nothing but Crochet, Yarnspirations Stitch Squad, Crochet Friends with Creativity. Lots more- but they are the ones I follow.

    3. MissCoco*

      Reddit’s r/crochet is pretty unfailingly positive. It’s huge and certainly sometimes there is negativity on specific threads, but in general the most negative response I’ve ever gotten is when I’ve posted on unpopular opinion threads with . . .unpopular opinions, and even then it’s typically just polite disagreement.

      1. Anonymous Cornellian*

        Seconding r/crochet and various spinoffs. Assuming that the CEO’s API price changes don’t kill it. (see thread above if you haven’t already)

  29. Sussie*

    Recently, I borrowed two books. One is “English Vocabulary in Use”, and the other one is “One minute manager. ” I really want to expand my vocabulary list and improve my management skills.

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

      For vocabulary expansion, keep reading anything and everything (especially stuff you enjoy) as much as you can: keep running into words you don’t know in various contexts and getting a feel for what they mean and how they’re used in those contexts.

      If you feel like looking up a word, you totally can, but you don’t have to. If you keep reading a LOT, eventually, you will have a good sense of the word and how to use it anyway.

      1. Imtheone*

        E books are great if you want to look up a new word. Much quicker than a traditional dictionary, or even typing the word into a phone dictionary.

    2. Rick Tq*

      To improve your vocabulary start reading anything published before the 70s. Books, magazine articles, short stories, etc. Word a day calendars show you the word and a bit of context. Reading longer items where you see the word gives you more nuance on the implied meanings of the word, not just a dictionary reference.

    1. Melissa*

      It was a short question so I’ll give a short answer: It’s “Just a rebound” unless it works long term. Then it magically becomes “a relationship that worked out.”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I recall this from Miss Manners 1.0 advice–that if you wait for the newly single person to get through their rebound relationship, sometimes they marry that person instead of moving on to you.

      2. sewsandreads*

        I asked my best friend this once, and this was basically her answer — coupled with “anyway, my husband married his rebound, and I forgot I was the rebound after about five minutes.”

    2. KatEnigma*

      Does it matter?

      You date to see if you’re compatible.

      Break up when you discover you’re not- even if that not is “not now.”

      The label doesn’t really have anything to do with it, does it? Except if you label it “rebound” and then don’t take it seriously, because you’re predetermined it’s not.

      I met my husband 2 weeks after a 5 year relationship and he was less than a month past a 3 year one- We weren’t looking for anything other than friendship, it was long distance, etc, etc. We just played it by ear, and 6 months later I moved in and 3 months after that, we got engaged. We’ve been married 21 years.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Perhaps you mean something like what I went through once: I was used as a rebound without knowing it. She was just out of a relationship and was gutted. I was the one who came along and the exact right time and looking back, the signs were there. She often needed immediate attention but didn’t return the favor. She often backed out of dates last minute and I can tell it was because she just got a text from someone she needed to see right away–now clearly her ex. She asked existential questions about loyalty and love and all that and needed a lot of validation. She kept me around just long enough for her ex to come to her senses. They’re married now and have been since the last time I spoke with her.

  30. Bunny Girl*

    What are some fun kitchen projects you guys have done lately? I love baking and messing around in the kitchen and have recently gotten a dehydrator and so far I’ve made jerky and fruit leather and want to try making my own yogurt. I also recently made butter and hope to make some cheese this weekend.

    1. fposte*

      I threw out the bottles and jars in the refrigerator door that I finally admitted I wasn’t going to use or shouldn’t be kept any longer. Does that count? (I’m coming for you now, plastic storage containers.)

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Ha! I did that a couple weeks ago. That is a chore. Especially because my partner has this obsession with buying hot sauce. He never thinks he has any at home (there’s two bottles in the cabinet!!) so he just ends up buying more but it doesn’t get fully used.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The first time my toddler stayed with friends while spouse and I went out, she liberated all of their plastic storage containers. They commented that they had never seen them all out of the cabinet at once before.

      3. Wired Wolf*

        I’ve been trying to ‘cull the herd’ of plastic containers and move toward silicone/sustainable food storage as much as possible. I don’t know how, but the plastic lids seem to reproduce in a dark drawer… That’s an apparently endless project.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think my spouse’s favorite “You know what? We’re now financially comfortable” realization was to purge the drawer of mismatched plastic containers, and buy a set of identical sandwich containers so every square container fit every square lid.

        2. The Shenanigans*

          Ah! That’s wherey lids go! I have several glass and plastic containers with no lids.

          1. Wired Wolf*

            I guess our kitchen has some sort of weird magnetic pull for plasticware…my mom just found a handful of lids that don’t match anything we own. Plus the plastic cutlery…I swear she puts one fork in the drawer and a few days later we end up with 12 (I don’t use plastic utensils).

    2. KatEnigma*

      With the dehydrator, you can make really inexpensive sun dried tomatoes- especially if you have cherry tomatoes in your garden that you can’t eat fast enough. But even winter store bought cherry tomato prices are less expensive than the equivalent in sun dried tomatoes…

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I am excited to make sun dried tomatoes! I didn’t grow cherry tomatoes in the garden, just full sized ones.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      I have been taking online cooking classes again (Sur La Table has a good variety). Two weeks ago, I took a croissant class. They were not as difficult as I imagined, although my kouign amann came out the best. The only downside to making my own croissants? Now I have opinions about purchased croissants! Next time I make croissant dough, I’m going to try pain au chocolat. I am also working on pie crust, since I find very difficult to not overdo it and having it end up too tough. Tough pie crust is awful.

      Making butter is fun, isn’t it? Mmm, homemade butter on fresh baked bread sounds really good right now.

    4. Snell*

      Aloo paratha (potato-stuffed flatbread, Guyanese ver.) from scratch. The first time I made it, they turned out surprisingly perfect. This gave me a huge amount of confidence, and in the second batch I made, I kept tearing tiny holes for the stuffing to escape and there were so many air bubbles. :( But they were very delicious, so I will keep making them.

    5. carcinization*

      Not yet but I’ve decided that I want to make samosas this summer, which I’ve never done before. I already have a recipe picked out and such.

    6. Girasol*

      Installed LED under counter lighting (they’re cheap and as easy and fun as putting legos together.) Oh, wait, this is about food. Parboiled and froze some snap peas and some swiss chard from the garden.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I did an inventory of the deep freezer. I’m a grownup now I guess?

  31. WellRed*

    I wanted to provide a used car shopping update. Thursday afternoon drive to small rural dealer to checkout a particular car. Checked it over, like it, went inside to inquire. A woman with two dogs was buying the car. (Her giant St Bernard being the obvious source of the hair all over the car). I went back out to check other cars and a guy was looking at the same car. I said, “Don’t bother. It’s sold.” Serious dog eat dog market. But I’m happy yo announce i took yesterday off work and bought (or will on Tuesday, darn Monday bank shutdown) a used outback. Not quite what I ever wanted but I’m happy. The car wasn’t even listed it on the lot yet, but I walked in at the right time.

      1. Happy Holiday*

        Yes, Outbacks are great! Extremely dependable and safe. I’ve owned 2 of them — drove them hard, and they lasted forever. Congratulations!

  32. Dogs vs Kids*

    People who have both kids and dogs, and got the dogs first: how similar are the two, really? A lot of my friends got “practice dogs” to a) test their partners a bit – would he leave all the hard work to her, how did he do in the middle of the night, c0uld he be patient when the puppy was frustrating – and b) test out having to be home more often / less spontaneous / more responsible. One of my friends has confessed that she found dog-ownership more oppressive and annoying than she thought and has now decided she probably shouldn’t be a mother. But, I don’t assume people feel as strongly about dogs as children, and dogs never really “grow up” either – right? I don’t have kids although I did have a dog once. Should I tell her I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive?

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Honestly, I think you shouldn’t tell her anything. Her decision, your opinion is irrelevant.

      1. fposte*

        Totally agree. And for some people it absolutely can correlate, or they might like the kid even less than the dog. You’ve got a friend saying she doesn’t think she wants children, which is perfectly legitimate. Can you echo that back to her (“Sounds like you’re saying you think you might not want kids”) and see if she wants to explore it more (“That works for a lot of people–how are you feeling about it?”)?

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yup. You don’t have kids, and you “had a dog once”? So you don’t even actually have any experience to be opining from, just your assumptions? File it under business, comma, not yours.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Honestly, it’s pretty similar, only babies are worse- you CAN leave your dog alone to go out to dinner. And dogs don’t “grow up” but they get past the helpless stage a lot faster!

      Other than that, yeah- not really your business.

      1. Dogs vs Kids*

        I should clarify – she did ask me directly what I thought, and my instinct was that there might not be a lot of overlap, but I thought “ask on the weekend thread and see what other people say” haha. Not just sticking my nose in for no reason!

        1. KatEnigma*

          Then you tell her that she should follow her instincts and that only she can make the right decision for herself. This isn’t one of those things you really want to weigh in on for someone else. Anyone who thinks they shouldn’t have kids, even a little, shouldn’t have kids!

        2. fposte*

          Ah. Then I would go for the truth: “Honestly, I think it’s really different for different people. What do *you* think? What does it feel like you want?” It’s possible that she thought she wanted kids but is changing her mind, or wants them in theory but is now worried they’ll bug the crap out of her. I doubt that a straight out vote from an outsider really matters, nor should it–just take this as a moment for her to talk some of this through.

          1. Aquamarine*

            I agree with this. I don’t think she’s looking for The Answer to come from someone else, but it sounds like it’s really on her mind, and she just wants to talk it through. I think it’s fine to be honest about your thoughts – not to try to persuade her of anything, but sometimes other people’s ideas can produce helpful food for thought, even when you don’t end up agreeing with them.

            1. Sloanicota*

              Yeah I’m surprised some people apparently never want to talk through difficult topics with their friends! I have definitely had similar discussions with my friends and never thought they were like, unduly influencing me, or something.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I regularly tell my dogs they are why I don’t have children. They’re not the only reason, but definitely have confirmed that nope, kids are not for me.

          My daycare options are way cheaper, and I can board my dogs at the vet’s office in a pinch, and nobody makes shocked faces if I go to Disneyworld and don’t take them with me. Haha.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Above MY pay grade that’s for sure. it’s a job for a trained counselor.

    3. Generic Name*

      Respectfully, you’re not exactly coming from a strong position of personal knowledge and experience to advise your friend on this. I have both a dog and a child. A child is much more work than a dog, and the hard work lasts for years. True, a dog never “grows up” but you can leave a 2 year old dog at home alone for some period of time but you can’t leave a 2 year old child at home alone for any length of time, for example. I don’t personally find caring for a dog all that taxing, but I have a teenage child and husband who share the load of pet duties. If your friend is finding a dog more work than she wants, it’s smart for her to rethink the ideal of having kids. Yes, you are right that dogs and kids aren’t the same, but if a person doesn’t like cleaning up poop messes and the obligation to be home at a certain time for a dog, kids will be all that and more.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, and a dog “never grows up” but they live…generally 10-15 years. A child won’t have grown up in that period of time either.

        I mean, yeah, a 15 year old is a lot different from a baby or from a 15 year old dog and not enjoying the care of a dog doesn’t necessarily mean somebody shouldn’t have children, but I wouldn’t assume children are a shorter-term committment.

        1. Dogs vs Kids*

          I guess (and this is what she’s grappling with too) – we think, oh, but you’ll love a kid so much more that the annoyance of (always being stuck at home / being bugged when you’re not in the mood to play / dealing with unforeseen expenses / worry about something that doesn’t have a lot of practical sense / having to clean up messes) won’t feel the same. But maybe it … will?

          1. nnn*

            Everyone is different. You can’t figure this out for her. But you really shouldn’t push someone to have kids who is thinking she doesn’t want them. A lot of people regret having kids (even if they love them) but can’t talk about it openly and it’s a bad thing to push someone into, even a little bit.

          2. The Shenanigans*

            Some people do. But more parents than will say so regret having kids or at least found that how much they love them doesn’t actually make up for the sacrifices. Your friend is smart to think it all through before another person is in the mix. BuzzFeed had a series of posts from parents who regret having kids or have stronger negative feelings than expected. Perhaps she can check out those posts and see if anything resonates. And she should make sure she is in a state that doesn’t force birth on people if she decides no kids.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’d stay out of it. Deciding not to have kids isn’t a bad thing, just as deciding to have kids isn’t a bad thing. By you saying something, you’d essentially be saying that her decision is wrong.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Cats you can leave for the weekend.

      Dogs you can leave for a few hours to half a day.

      Babies you can’t really leave for more than a few minutes. The whole “It’s been suspiciously quiet for the past seven minutes” that you do get with puppies is way more intense with a child, and the child stays in can’t-leave-them puppy mode a lot longer.

      Like everyone else, I’ll say that if someone has had an insight that kids are not for them, you should nod thoughtfully.

    6. Emma*

      Kids are way harder! They both involve some level of responsibility (like making sure they’re fed, have medical care, etc), but with a dog you can leave them for hours at a time to go do things. You can hire a pet sitter for the weekend, or put them in a kennel.

      Kids are much more of an all the time responsibility. You can sometimes get weekend childcare, but it’s harder. And you need *someone* to watch them every second of the day – you can’t just leave them home alone for a few hours. Be it taking them with you, paying for daycare or a nanny, etc.

      I don’t think that people who don’t like having dogs necessarily won’t like having kids. But I guess it depends on what part of pet ownership they don’t like, and whether or not that will translate to something they might encounter with kids.

      1. Emma*

        But something can be both hard and still worthwhile! It’s how people end up having more than one kid. It’s a lot of intangible things like feelings, though, that make it worth it.

        I really like the Dear Sugar column called The Ghost Ship that Didn’t Carry Us. It talks about the decision of whether or not to have kids.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Anybody who is in doubt about whether they want to be a mom, for any reason, should not pursue it unless and until their feelings change. I don’t think a dog is like a baby, or that this is an effective test, but that’s not the point.

      If she were agonized over wanting children but worried about her ability to be a good mom because she didn’t like having a dog, that would be different. You could reassure her that one can love kids without being a dog person. But that wasn’t what she expressed. She decided she doesn’t want kids. The dog thing is a rationalization.

      Sure, some people wind up very happy with surprise babies. But the stakes here are two human lives, and you should not deliberately roll the dice on whether you’ll be glad about it later.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Eh, I think “anybody who is in doubt” is putting it too strongly. I don’t have kids yet, but ALL big changes make me 2nd guess myself. Awesome, wonderful changes like getting my own cat or a new job. If I waited until I was without doubt, I’d never do anything.

        Kids are a risk and a leap of faith. You cannot know for sure that they will be a good thing until you already have them. Still worth having for most people.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I think you are reading me as saying “any doubt at all,” when what I meant was “any reason at all.”

          I see a huge difference between “I don’t think I want this,” and “I want this but have some doubts.” Everybody has some doubts about big choices. That’s normal.

          But if they do not want it, they don’t need a “good enough” reason. The reason doesn’t matter.

        2. Sloanicota*

          I take your point Elspeth. In my circle (esp in my early 30s, upper middle class/urban), the expectations for child-rearing are so insane that it’s not surprising none of us have any kids. It was definitely presented to us as a total abnegation of self that only the True Faithfuls who Never Had A Doubt should consider, otherwise Why Risk It, plus don’t you know the world is ending. It’s a bit of a shame, IMO, that none of us thoughtful liberals wanted kids as a result, as I’m sure we would have been competent loving (but not superhuman) parents.

    8. Little Beans*

      I have both a kid and a dog. Having a dog is good practice in the sense that you get used to the idea of occasionally sacrificing what you want because you’re responsible for another being. But with a kid, the level of sacrifice and responsibility goes up exponentially – it’s not just a little more, it’s a life changing difference.

      This could be different for everyone but I’d also say the commitment and reward is on a whole different level. Before I had a kid, I would say things like, I love my dog the way people love their kids. But that’s definitely not true. I love my dog a lot but it’s still nothing compared to how much I love my kid.

    9. CityMouse*

      I mean your friend also might simply just not be a dog person. I have a small child, and while I grew up with dogs, I occasionally dog sit for friends or family and I just don’t find myself wanting one full time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s things I like about dogs and I absolutely make sure the dogs I care for are getting plenty of attention and exercise (part of the issue is my very geriatric cat hates dogs too, so I also end up with extra cat work), but I just don’t want a dog. I am sure I’ll end up rolling over (pun fully intended) if the rest if the family wants one.

    10. Bulu Babi*

      Because she asked you directly… Yes, kids do grow up, but they grow up slowly, and the first few years are crucial for relationship forming and their life-long well being. If a person loves interacting with 7yos but cannot be fully present for babies and toddlers, I’d recommend not having children. If she feels she would be miserable for the first 4 years, don’t jump into it. When in doubt, read a lot about child development before making any decision.

    11. just another queer reader*

      Not an answer to your question, but I am fascinated by the idea of getting a dog to test out if your husband is going to contribute to household work (and kids). Kind of genius?

      1. The Shenanigans*

        But wouldn’t you know that from the general state of living in the same house? You can see if he does stuff without being asked, can intuit that a dirty floor needs cleaned without being told, and doesn’t sulk about keeping his shared habitat clean, etc just in a normal afternoon.

        I am not big on partner tests in general though.

    12. Umm…*

      She might just want someone to listen to her think out loud while she walks herself through this one. But I hated having a dog and love having a kid. I’d give up a body part for another one, but that’s not happening.
      It’s just different. Yes, there are similarities, but the differences are big ones. The commitment is probably closer to a similarity than a difference though.

    13. Ellis Bell*

      Humans have brains which need a longer childhood and more intensive education than most animals. They therefore require a lot more of your attention, interaction and teaching; they need constant input for their growing brains. The reason employers let people work from home with a pet, but not a kid, is because kids require your eye contact, your facial expressions, your changing tone of voice, and a constantly changing variety of words, colours, pictures, games, exploration of the environment and physical challenges from minute to minute. The minute they aren’t getting appropriately challenging and interesting input, you will know about it. Yes, people love children in a very profound way but it doesn’t make the work any easier, it just makes the very hard work into more urgently necessary work that you feel even more pressured to do. I don’t have kids but after eight hours a day with children (and I’m a specialist tutor of teens so it’s usually just one or two at a time), I feel drained of all energy and I am someone who enjoys children’s company, even hard to reach kids who want to set the world on fire. I also love taking my nieces and nephews for the week, but at the back of my mind is always the knowledge that I can give them back whenever! There are some similarities with pets but there’s also a bunch of differences. I would probably move into babysitting or speaking with more parents in your friend’s position, but mostly I would be asking myself the question; if you’re not obsessed with kids, why have them?

      1. allathian*

        It also depends a lot on the kids, some are contented to play by themselves at a lot younger age than others. Kids don’t need 100% of your attention all the time, that’s a myth. Or else you’re dealing with special needs/particularly difficult kids.

        My son’s a teen, and he’s a fairly introverted one. He certainly does not require my attention 100% of the time we’re at home together.

        That said, in my ideal world only kids who are 100% wanted would be born, so I’d never try to persuade someone to have kids if they’re unsure or leaning towards a childfree life.

        Just about the biggest taboo in Western society in general is parents who regret having kids, and specifically cis-women who regret becoming a mom. We should be teaching our young people that it’s okay not to want kids and that your life can be fabulous without them.

    14. SB*

      I really wish people would stop trying top convince women who state that they do not want kids that they should have one. She said she has decided against it, leave her alone. A child free woman is not a challenge to see if you can make them breed.

  33. podcasts*

    What are your favourite podcasts?

    After seeing it recommended here repeatedly I started listening to Maintenance Phase. From there I branched out to You’re Wrong About and If Books Could Kill. Looking for other podcasts along those lines, and I’d be particularly interested in podcasts about books or parenting.


    1. Generic Name*

      I’m on the same path you are! Maintenance Phase is hysterical. I love the host’s rapport, and I laugh during every episode.

      Here are my other podcasts I listen to:
      Unf*ck your brain
      The hardcore self help podcast
      How to be fine
      Financial feminist
      Women & money

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      You Are Good, which says it’s a “feelings podcast about movies” is excellent and is co-hosted by Sarah Marshall. (and both Aubrey and Michael from Maintenance Phase have been on You Are Good). I enjoy the podcast even when I don’t know or like the movie they’re talking about.

    3. bassclefchick*

      Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid – mostly about communication and the way scientists can improve how they communicate their research. Interesting guests and I love the seven quick questions at the end.

      Literally! With Rob Lowe. Inside stories from his Hollywood friends. He also has guests he’s never met, so it’s fun hearing him geek out just like we would.

      I Saw What You Did. Movie podcast. Love the hosts. Millie used to be a programmer for TCM, so she has LOTS of inside info. Interesting films. They each pick a movie for the week, then you’re supposed to guess what the theme is that connects the two. I am always wrong.

      The Soundtrack Show. Gives a REALLY good insight into the music in your favorite movies. The first few episodes, he talks about music theory and the technical side of music. Don’t be afraid of those episodes! They’re so good and he makes music theory fun. Kinda wish I’d had him as my theory teacher back in my college days.

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

      By The Book (hosts Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg) is pretty great– basically the hosts live by and review (mostly debunk) self-help books. Start from the beginning, not from their most recent season, which has since morphed into more answering listener advice questions and isn’t quite as funny/engaging.

      1. M. from P.*

        I couldn’t find the “By The Book” podcast though my podcast app so I searched the hosts and found their new podcast How To Be Fine. In the description they mention that their “first show, By The Book” episodes can now be found via How to Be Fine.
        (maybe it’s just my app but thought I’d mention it just in case – there are several By The Book podcasts it seems :)

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

          Aha, good to know! I’ve been subscribed to the feed since before the name change so I didn’t realize that was the only way to find it. Thanks!

    5. Little Beans*

      My favorite is Stuff You Should Know. Funny, I was searching for You’re Wrong About because someone had recommended it to me but I couldn’t exactly remember the title and I ended up stumbling across SYSK and loved it.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      My favorite parenting podcast is The Puberty Podcast – I’ve found it so helpful in navigating life with my pre-teen.
      I also like the podcasts on Australia’s Mamamia network- This Glorious Mess is a fun one.
      Also Didn’t I Just feed you- so many good ideas about food and family.
      My two favorite book podcasts are: What Should I read Next? Hosted by Anne Bogel of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog.
      And also Book Friends Forever, a children’s book author and her editor talk about books and the business of books and particularly about diversity in children’s books.

    7. Bulu Babi*

      If you like If Books Could Kill you’ll love Citations Needed and Tech Won’t Save Us. For wholesome book podcasts, Between The Covers.

      I occasionally listen to Janet Lansbury’s podcast on parenting and always learn something.

      1. M. from P.*

        Found a few different Between the Covers book podcasts! Do you remember the host name(s)?

    8. M. from P.*

      I’ve recently started listening to Mom and Dad are Fighting. It’s a parenting podcast and I like it so far.

    9. Patty Mayonnaise*

      The best podcast I’ve heard about parenting is The Longest Shortest Time, but it skews heavily towards the early years, so you might not get as much out of it if you are well past that stage. Part of the podcast’s backstory is that the host had a rough post-pardum period and made the podcast to work through that, and as the kid got older the host basically did work through it, and moved on to other projects.

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

      Back again to say you might also like Gastropod, which explores history (and society and geopolitics) through the lens of food in really in-depth but engaging ways. My favorite episodes off the top of my head are the recent one about taro (“Meet Taro”) and an earlier one about Thai grocery stores (“Why Thai?)

    11. The Dude Abides*

      My podcast list is fairly niche, but my subs are

      Magic Mics – weekly MtG news show. Used to do weekly top 10s, but have scaled back
      Eternal Glory – three of my favorite content creators discuss the game through the lens of older formats
      Resleevables – two long-time players and commentators review magic sets starting from the beginning (so far, they’re through The Dark), with discussions of both gameplay and game design.

      Tossup 21 – quizbowl/scholastic bowl interviews that focus on the stuff around the game as much as the game itself

  34. Izzx*

    I’m likely going on a business trip to Saudi Arabia this year for an international conference. I’ve travelled to plenty of conservative places, but this will be the most. Anyone (especially women) ever travel there? Aside from tops with no cleavage/shoulders covered, what do I need to know to be respectful? Do I need wide leg pants? Head coverings everywhere or just outside/public places?

    1. Reba*

      You should dress modestly but you do not need to wear an abaya or headscarf. OTOH if you are going to be interacting a lot with locals (as opposed to an audience of mainly other foreigners), you might consider getting an abaya or similar loose overgarment just as a way of putting your best food forward in meetings. You may just feel more comfortable overall in looser/modest clothing, as you’ll blend in better. The expectations for foreigners and non-muslims are not the same as for locals. You need a headscarf/abaya if visiting a religious site but not in regular business life.

        1. Izzx*

          Thanks, this is helpful! The venue hasn’t been announced yet, but it is a big international thing so assume I’ll be fine with what I have. I just want to be sure I’m respectful in my dress overall.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      Not me but a close friend used to travel a lot to the Middle East for business and she had an abaya so she could just put it on over whatever, job done. I haven’t seen her in it but another friend said it looked really elegant so it could be making a virtue of necessity.

      Check the time of year for what is going on in the religious calendar – for example if it’s Ramadan check what the conference is doing about meals etc. If it’s international I’d think they’d have some arrangements (the most obvious one being, not holding the conference then!) but it’s worth having in mind. No problem when you’re alone or it’s before sunrise/after sunset but I remember my friend mentioning carrying cereal bars in her hand bag and eating them in the toilet cubicle! But she was having meetings in various businesses as a sole or senior representative of a non-profit so I don’t think it will come to that for you given the international collective nature of your plans.

      1. Izzx*

        Thanks, I appreciate you sharing! I’ll definitely check the calendar, but I know the event will be over by Friday and I assume won’t be over major holidays/will take prayer time into consideration. Will have a few snacks on hand just in case!

  35. fposte*

    Anybody save greywater? We’re in a drought, and I’ve got a garden that doesn’t usually get supplemental watering but is showing some stress after something like 18 low-precip months. I’m not looking to do a whole pumping system; I’m just trying to avoid wasting kitchen water, etc. that could go on the garden, and I’m looking for easy tips. I’m currently using a basin in the sink for veggie rinsing and waiting for the hot water to come in, and the dehumidifier gets emptied into a bucket , so those are easy to take out. My current soaps are low impact but not likely to be truly garden safe, and I’m not ready to change yet for a variety of reasons. I’m looking into a way to capture shower water from the quick-rinse showers where I don’t soap (when I’m gardening or working out and there will be a “real” shower again later). Does anybody do that, and are there any other things I might be missing?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yes, I found it easy to put a bucket in the shower with me when I did a rinse off shower without soap; I also (YMMV) love a hot bath, and it was no sacrifice to me to leave out oils or soaps and then use that water on plants later when it cooled off. I also put a rinse bucket on my kitchen counter and emptied the final rinse water (after soaping and rinsing once) from hand-washing dishes, or stuff like pasta water. That same bucket on the counter found other water more than I would have thought; glasses of water I didn’t finish, ice, rinsing fruit, random places.

      1. fposte*

        Thanks, that’s exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of. How did you use the shower bucket? My shower isn’t so well aimed, so I was thinking of just using a Sterilite bin that I could stand in and then dump into a bucket, maybe with some nonslip enhancements on both the footing and the part that touches the bathtub.

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

          If you have a tub and aren’t grossed out by the idea of standing ankle-deep in your own water, I find that just putting the plug in the tub when I shower and scooping the water out into a bucket works best. I do this for even if I’m using soap, and then use that soapy water for flushing the toilet.

          Also, I don’t use any specifically garden-safe laundry detergent, just the relatively eco-friendly stuff from biokleen, and basically since I have easy access to my washing machine’s outlet hose (it just dumps into a big laundry sink in the basement), I will catch the water from the rinse cycle (so after it’s already dumped all the soapy water out) for watering my plants and they’re thriving on it. This does require keeping an ear out or setting timer for the rinse cycle (or even, in my case, what I do is I’ll shut off the cold water intake spigot after it starts agitating, because then it can’t refill itself for the rinse cycle until I come back and turn the water back on for it). I do wish collecting grey water was easier, though– I have many bucket-based solutions, but they are strenuous and inelegant, and as far as I know there aren’t many aftermarket devices to attach to your existing plumbing to make it easier.

        2. Sloanicota*

          I had a shallow, wide bucket (as opposed to the ones that are usually taller than they are wide) and put it close to the drain and then ignored it the rest of the shower. I’m not sure why I happened to own a tub like that, but I can imagine other flatter pans like for cooking would work. For no reason other than I found it easier to navigate around / step over / in.

    2. Anthology*

      We were in a record-breaking drought, then I scheduled a tree removal and it’s rained every day for the past five days. So I suggest putting a deposit down on an expensive landscaping project to break the weather.

      But seriously, if you soak any foods to plump them (legumes, oats), or boil/steam vegetables, plants LOVE that water, as long as you skip the salt.

    3. Generic Name*

      I give my indoor plants the (cooled) water from boiling eggs, when I change the water in my aquarium it goes to my houseplants or my outdoor potted annuals. I rented a house where the condensate line for the a/c just dripped on the ground, so I put a bucket under it and watered plants with it.

      This might be a terrible idea, but if you use phosphate free detergent you could route the drain lines for your dishwasher/clothes washer into large buckets/totes. This might end in disaster if you use too small of a container….

      1. Rick Tq*

        We collected our clothes washer water as irrigation water for years without any issues with the plants. We pretty much used powered Tide as our laundry detergent. As far as I know you have to work to get high-phosphate detergents because of the waste water treatment issues.

        We used a 35 gallon watertight trashcan as the collection container and a sump pump with a float switch with a garden hose to send the water to the areas we wanted. Our fig tree loved it. We would always check to see the pump was running after the first drain cycle as a precaution.

    4. Manders*

      You can also use grey water to flush the toilet. Just turn the water off at the source and use shower water to fill the tank. (I grew up in drought California in the 80s).

    5. Girasol*

      You can make a good bailing scoop out of a gallon milk jug, if you or a neighbor has one cast-off. If you close the drain on a tub-shower to catch shower water, you can bail the tub with that.

      1. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

        Agree! I use gallon and half-gallon vinegar bottles– they are even thicker plastic and last forever. Good for bailing water, scooping animal feed and bedding, mixing up potting soil… Food safe and free.
        (I don’t go through much Clorox, but those bottles are pretty sturdy, too.)

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If it’s bad enough to catch grey water in the shower consider washing without one like you’re camping, at least once in a while.
      Warm water in a basin with a washcloth, simple castile soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s) that breaks down pretty quickly in soil, and a pitcher of rinse water.
      Easier to me than trying not to trip on a bucket in a rushed shower!

    7. LBD*

      I’ve used an ordinary bucket in the shower and just used whatever landed in it without worrying about aiming into it. I’ve also saved rinse water and veg scrubbing water and pasta water etc. I also use a small dish pan instead of filling the sink to wash dishes and then water with that. I use a safer dish soap, and use the cleanest water from all my collecting on the most sensitive plants, and the soapier water on larger plants with deeper roots so the soil filters some of the ‘additives’.
      You might also consider looking into traditional water conserving methods such as ollas to make the most of your water! Even if you don’t try any, the subject is pretty interesting.

  36. Anthology*

    TW for food/diet talk, I’m going to reply to myself so people can collapse the thread if they don’t want to see it.

    1. Anthology*

      Background info: my health-related diet restrictions have greatly increased over the past few years, and it’s reached the point where I struggle with social events. I’m lucky in that overhauling my diet has allowed me to wean off most of my prescriptions (after cholecystectomy and fundoplication surgeries) so at least there is that. Post-Covid I developed severe psoriasis and related arthritis, so now I have to avoid a bunch of other foods too. At this point I’m avoiding more than I’m eating.

      Actual question: if you have a restricted diet, do you have any tips for navigating situations where you don’t get to choose the food (friend’s parties, conferences, meetings) and need to avoid almost all of it, but don’t want to draw attention? I’m trying to find a balance between “appear insanely picky/appear to have disordered eating” and “vomit my medical history to people in defense” that is discreet yet effective.

      I don’t want the host to ask me why I’m not eating or to offer to make me something special, I just want to enjoy people’s company. “I ate earlier” or “Not much appetite today” only works once or twice, then it becomes “a thing” that I don’t eat in front of people.

      1. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

        Yeah, this can be really tough. YMMV but I’ve found that a simple “Oh, I have some food allergies (or restrictions, or however you want to phrase it), so I have to be careful what I eat” works the best. Generally, people will accept that and leave it there. If they have a problem with you not eating, ultimately it’s their issue, not yours.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        You can reference medical reasons and not go into details. “Oh, due to a bunch of medical stuff I have to be really careful with what I eat. Doctor’s orders. It’s annoying and I wish I had a magic wand to make it all go away, so please let’s talk about something else.” That sort of thing. It communicates that there are medical reasons, there’s doctors involved, and you do not want to talk about it. Pair with with an immediate subject change and you’ll be ok with reasonable people.

      3. Generic Name*

        I’m lactose intolerant (developed recently, boo) and I’m apparently very sensitive. With friends, they all know my restrictions and are great about having foods I can eat. I also make sure I bring something I know is safe. For conferences and meetings, it depends on how savvy the host organization is. One org I’m involved in asks about dietary restrictions when you sign up for events, and they always have stuff I can eat. Another org just had one menu option (chicken with butter sauce and ranch to go on your salad) and I ended up leaving early because I had a salad with no dressing and no entree. It sucked. I don’t have any great secret other than bringing a granola bar I can eat. If anyone says anything I just explain I can’t have dairy.

        1. Rainy*

          I have a lot of trouble with conference/meeting food as well. I never count on being able to eat the food so I try to always have a safe snack with me and plan to go find something that won’t kill me later. It’s annoying but what are you going to do. :)

      4. RagingADHD*

        For wandering -around situations, can you fake it by carrying a plate with small amounts if things and just don’t eat them?

        For a sit-down meal, you’re better off saying something to the host beforehand, or coming late to socialize after the meal because you “had a thing” but didn’t want to miss seeing everyone.

      5. Rainy*

        I have a lot of weird food allergies and always have, and honestly, I just bring something I know I can eat or I don’t eat, and if people ask I just say I have a lot of allergies and I have to be careful. My experience is that if I don’t make it weird (breezy is the key) other people typically won’t either.

      6. Girasol*

        Does your diet have any leeway? Since mine does I load up on the foods that are okay and take a small taste of anything else to pick at and push around the plate like a child avoiding a vegetable. If you have full-on allergies or restrictions, that wouldn’t work, of course.

      7. Venus*

        Food is so often a part of being social that it’s probably mixed with people wanting to be good friends and hosts by feeding you. I have friends with serious food allergies (mostly around celiac) who bring their own food to gatherings and that goes really well. I would suggest even a small snack or the suggestion of faking it with a few things on a plate that you don’t eat. They typically bring a plate and food they prepared themselves earlier, and they eat with the group. One friend used to try and list what was workable but it changed so often and I got frustrated a couple times because I put in a lot of effort to make something that worked for them only to have it rejected. We are both in a much happier place where I don’t worry about it and they are guaranteed to like their meal!

        I recently had the effect myself where another friend bought a beautiful chocolate cake made with nut flour so the celiacs could eat it but I couldn’t. I ended up watching everyone else eat the delicious cake and I felt so left out! I found something else to do in the kitchen for the few minutes while they ate so that I didn’t reinforce that the host had a dessert that excluded me, even if by complete accident, but honestly I really wish that I didn’t have allergies that day! I mention it only to highlight that social aspect of food, and how it can feel really awkward if everyone is eating but one person isn’t able to join in. Where possible, the easy solution is to join in by having something, anything on a plate.

      8. HBJ*

        I don’t know how strict yours are, but fwiw, when I did whole30, I never had any issues. No one knew I was doing whole30 outside my husband. I ate what I could and no one ever made any comments. I definitely remember times when I was not eating more than half the food, and no one ever said anything.

      9. Ellis Bell*

        I always bring something I can eat, I only ever go as far as “Oh I have food intolerances” as far as medical talk goes; I don’t mention my psoriasis unless it genuinely comes up in conversation. I do like to eat something from the event if I can, because it feels more social and I can complement the host. If there isn’t anything though, I don’t stress about it. If a host offers to make me something I will either a) request something super easy like a drink of water/piece of fruit/ice etc. or b) I will say “oh it has to be food from a non gluten kitchen, that’s why I pack food for myself, but thank you so much”

      10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        “I’ve got a medically restrictive diet so I ate before I came.”

      11. Observer*

        In my experience, informal group events that don’t have sit down seating is different is can be fairly easy to deal with. There should be SOMETHING you can drink (even if it’s only water with ice.) And that lets you have a drink in your hand some of the time and say “I’m good. I had something” the rest of the time.

        For smaller / more formal / sit down events you do need to give people some information. You’ll find out VERY quickly who are the reasonable people / good friends in your circles, and who are not. The reasonable folks don’t need a whole history from you. It’s enough to say “I’ve been working with my ~~insert medical professional~~ and I can’t eat all of these foods.” With many people you don’t even have go that far – just tell them that you have to be on a restricted diet and you’re going to have to skip stuff.

        Depending on the situation, I have also found that sometimes it’s just easier to tell people in advance and let them make something for me, because it makes people uncomfortable when you can’t eat and it’s noticeable.

    2. Joelle*

      I have similar problems and restrictions with food, due to various operations and complications from said operations. When I returned to my workplace, which was very fond of food gatherings (weekly potlucks, birthday cakes, food at meetings, etc.) I was very upfront that I would not be able to eat most things, but I wouldn’t be bothered by it. I always had some sort of drink to keep me occupied while others were eating. My friends and family already knew my problems, so it didn’t take long for other people to adjust to my new food habits. The first time someone new asks me why I’m not eating, I just say I’ve got severe digestive issues, but I’m fine with just something to drink. I’ve never gotten any pushback, although some people push for more details, which I don’t provide.

    3. It Actually Takes a Village*

      I’ve found that as long as you’re cheerful and breezy about having dietary restrictions or allergies, it helps people get over that urgent worrying feeling of needing to “correct” the issue or “fix it” so that you are eating something.

  37. History help*

    I’m looking for book recommendations. Possibly a podcast.

    I was raised in a very religious household. Similarly religious schooling. I know there are gaps in my history knowledge. I know the usual “basics”, but from a very WASP-y slant.

    Is there a book or podcast, anything really, that can help me fill in those gaps?

    1. history geek*

      There are plenty of history podcasts that you could listen to – it depends on how broad or focused you want it to be. I tend to listen to the more focused history podcasts so can only recommend those but see below –

      The History of Rome is a great (and often recommended) podcast about the history of the Roman Empire
      The History of China is another great one
      The History of Byzantium is good too

      (If anyone has good non-Western Europe/American based ones to rec please share!)

      The Lies My Teacher Told me is a great book – older at this point, academically speaking, but it tells you a lot about American history that isn’t covered in class and why it’s not.

      1. Imtheone*

        Eric Fodor’s lectures on the Civil War and the post-slavery/post-Civil War amendments to the Constitution.

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

      I’m finding *The Secret History of Wonder Woman* interesting for its early 1900s U.S. history in the areas of birth control, women’s voting rights, women’s education, women’s labor, and the development of the lie detector test. It’s centered around the polyamorous hierarchical household of William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, who lived with a wife and two mistresses and their four kid. Marston comes off as kind of a sleaze, but the history is fascinating.

    3. Anonymous cat*

      History Extra is a magazine published in UK and also has a podcast. It jumps around in time and places but it has a lot of interesting topics so I’d suggest trying it to get general knowledge or find topics you’d want to do a deep dive into.

    4. Notthemomma*

      Not one book, but find a local high school history teacher. That may have older textbooks. You could also audit an American History or World History course at a local college or online?

    5. Wink the Book*

      Highly recommend “Stuff You Missed In History Class”. It is a great drop in and has hundreds of episodes that talk about a really diverse set of topics. They are also between 15-40 minutes, so not a huge time commitment. They also try and be pretty respectful of diverse opinions and cite sources.

    6. Madame Arcati*

      You’re Dead To Me is an excellent history podcast that is by a British historian but covers all sorts of international topics. It is properly informative and also hilarious.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Not listened to the podcast, but Greg Jenner was the historical consultant on the CBBC series Horrible Histories and also wrote a very good book Dead Famous, which is all about the history of celebrity.

    7. Retired Accountant*

      I recently bought the book The World: A Brief Introduction by Richard Haase, after it was recommended here. I haven’t read it yet but it got good reviews.

      From Amazon blurb:
      “The World is designed to provide readers of any age and experience with the essential background and building blocks they need to make sense of this complicated and interconnected world. It will empower them to manage the flood of daily news. Readers will become more informed, discerning citizens, better able to arrive at sound, independent judgments. While it is impossible to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will originate, those who read The World will have what they need to understand its basics and the principal choices for how to respond.

      In short, this book will make readers more globally literate and put them in a position to make sense of this era.”

    8. LemonLyman*

      I had the same kind of schooling.

      Podcast rec: Teaching Hard History
      Synopsis: “What we don’t know about American history hurts us all. Teaching Hard History begins with the long and brutal legacy of chattel slavery and reaches through the victories of and violent responses to the civil rights movement to the present day. From Learning for Justice and host Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Teaching Hard History brings us the lessons we should have learned in school through the voices of leading scholars and educators. It’s good advice for teachers and good information for everybody.”

    9. Bon Voyage*

      Crash Course histories in Youtube are pretty great! The Black American History course with Clint Smith could be a great place to start.

    10. The Shenanigans*

      A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
      Wisdom Sits In Places by Keith Basso
      Desert Christians by Harmless

      oh and pick up a history of science book. My WASP education had “science” classes that were nothing but propaganda. I also found the history I learned – including church history – was so slanted as to be almost entirely wrong even on basics.

    11. Peanut Hamper*

      Any history book not written by an old white guy (with the exception of Howard Zinn) would be a good start. There are several good books about US history written from a Latino/Indigenous perspective.

    12. Stella*

      I had a decent history education but Here’s Where it Gets Interesting by Sharon McMahon always teaches me something from a perspective I never thought of. She does interviews on the podcast along with topical series. She’s done First Ladies, Japanese Internment during World War II, Prohibition, and a couple others.

    13. OyHiOh*

      This is kind of a sideways answer to your question, but as a fellow religiously schooled adult whose curriculum had a distinct WASP slant, I have found it tremendously helpful

      Wes Cecil, searchable on YouTube.

      Hus academic background is English lit and Philosophy, and he teaches those subjects at college level. But what he puts on YouTube is the public lectures he gives once a month (like clockwork for the past ten years) on topics relating to philosophy, philosophers, and ethics. Everything from the ancients (I thought I knew Aristotle. I did not, as it turns out) to the most recent lecture which is on the ethics of building a house.

      There’s a facinating one from a few years ago on American nationalism that’s just OH!!!! OOOOOHHHHH!!! about every 5 minutes.

      He’s very good at putting people and issues in context so, although it is not a history program (or a science one for that matter), there’s a ton of history and science in the lectures. If you give him a try, scroll back and find the “language and culture” series. They cover the development of a broad range of languages, in their historical contexts, and discuss on language and literature develop from each other.

    14. Observer*

      Another not exactly history, but really covers a lot is History of the English Language. Not surprising, as the the development of the language is very tied to history.

      A nice one covering history is Revolutions. Each season covers the history of one major revolution. It’s not just the immediate history of the revolution, but a fair amount of backstory. Depending on which revolution, it can go back quite far in the background.

  38. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Does anyone have heat pumps for heating and ac in colder climates? Talk to me about performance in cold temps (below freezing) please.

    I have a 20+ year old gas furnace and ac, and the ac is low on refrigerant. I am really interested in a heat pump, but I also feel like it’s still a new technology for climates that get cold. I’m comfortable that a heat pump can cope down to freezing, but below that it feels like its still leading edge technology. I do not want to be on the leading edge with my heating! The coldest it’s ever gotten at my house is -22F, which was extreme but it also gives me parameters to work with. “Normal” temps are 80-90s in summer and 20-30s in winter.

    I’m going to get estimates on a heat pump, and also am getting an estimate to fix the ac leak. And I’ve been watching youtube videos about hvac so I can have intelligent discussions with all these hvac people.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in central Indiana with a heat pump, mine is four years old and the one that was here before that one was replaced at sixteen years old. If “normal” is 20s in winter and 90s in summer, that’s what we have too, and a heat pump will be just fine year round.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I should perhaps note: I also had all the windows replaced the same year that I had the new heat pump put in (so that was probably 5-6 years ago, not 4, sorry) so having new quality well-sealed windows probably helps too. But this house has, to my understanding, had a heat pump since it was built in the mid-80s. Definitely not leading edge :) (and on your extremes: I had zero issues the last couple winters when we had temperatures in the single digits or below zero either.)

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          This helps, thanks. My house is old, it’s not well insulated, and while my windows aren’t original they also aren’t necessarily well sealed. So any system would have a tougher time with my house. But if I can keep the existing furnace as a backup that would assuage my concerns about the extreme temps.

    2. really*

      Live in central PA. Average temperatures are in your range. House was built in 1983 with a heat pump. Never had any real problems that don’t exist in every house no matter what the system used. Also the systems have improved over the last 40 years.

    3. Artemesia*

      We have them in Chicago. They are great for AC. In winter if it gets very cold, there is a back up electric heater built in. Lots of units have that feature. At temperatures above freezing they work well without the back up.

      1. Minneapolis*

        This is my understanding of the status of heat pumps in Minneapolis, too: they will work most of the year, but there are a few very cold weeks where you need backup electric heat.

        As a person who lived in an (admittedly crappy and poorly insulated) apartment with electric heat: it’s very expensive.

        A while back I read a whole report that a Minnesota department of (housing? energy? environment? something like that) put out evaluating the feasibility of this whole setup in Minnesota. I’d recommend checking out some local-specific resources! The details of your climate and electric grid are probably going to matter here.

    4. Anthology*

      We are in zone 5 and have a heat pump purchased within the past 5 years. It works, but you pay for it. My electric bills are 400-600 per month from December through March.

        1. Anthology*

          2,000 per the real estate listing, but 3,000 for HVAC purposes, since the basement isn’t counted as living space.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Ok, so yeah, significant increase in the electric. At least partially offset by decrease in gas though. Thank you.

            1. Anthology*

              Yes, I should have been explicit, we have electric everything. No gas or oil in the house.

    5. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      See if your local governments and utilities have any information about heat pumps for your area. I live in British Columbia and our electric company is advocating for them, even in the areas that get quite cold. Also see if there is a rebate or tax credit you might be able to get for moving away from the gas.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        There are some tax credits I could get, and yes I would check for other rebates. The money I can figure out, but I don’t want to be cold next winter!

    6. Ontariariario*

      They are becoming more popular here, although still more of a novelty. A couple coworkers got them recently and I think they will become more popular in the next decade or two when people look to replace their furnace. My own furnace and ac are maybe 10-15 years old and I’m starting to slowly research heat pumps and ask questions of people who have one. Many who get a heat pump also continue to keep the furnace as a backup for the coldest days (we often have a week or two of -22F-type temps).

      It sounds like your winter temps don’t even justify a cold-climate heat pump, although it might be worth getting one if it allows you to avoid expensive electric heat? It sounds like you’re on the edge of what to get.

      I’ll post a link in Reply.

    7. kina lillet*

      There are some cold-weather heat pumps starting to come out, but most systems will have backup resistive heat elements as the heat pump gets down to temperatures where it’s less efficient.

      As an additional note, there are still HVAC guys who won’t install a heat-pump only system, only hybrid. It’s not really that heat pumps are bleeding edge for that, they’re just conservative.

    8. DistantAudacity*

      For a not completely-helpful international experience, I will say that they are also very common in Norway where we do have winters below freezing.

      Your local cost of energy will of course apply, compared with what other costs you would have to pay instead for heating/cooling.

  39. Dirty Dogs!*

    I recently rescued two giant dogs who are lovely and wonderful. But they are giants. And I live in the desert with a mostly un-landscaped desert backyard (dust dust dust). I cannot get ahead of the dirt they track in on a normal basis but then when they flop in the dirt and immediately want to run inside…it’s like living in the dust bowl.

    I have multiple types of brushes so I can corral them before they come in but for my shepherd mix, the dirt is deep in the undercoat. My house is covered in a fine layer of dust now. How do dog people deal with this? I eventually will rock and mulch the backyard in the dirty areas but I can’t afford that just yet. I bathe them every couple of weeks as they have very sensitive skin (so advised not to do more than that).

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think this is less a dog people question and more a desert yard people question. I make the rounds with at least the Dustbuster, if not a proper vacuum, pretty much every day, but my yard is grass so my dogs aren’t bringing in dust, just throwing hair everywhere.

      1. Dirty Dogs!*

        No it is definitely a dog people question. I have lived here for many years and have been able to keep on top of regular dust in my home. My issue is that the dogs come in with dirt everywhere and shake and run and play and now my house has a layer of dirt on every surface. No matter how hard I brush them off outside and “smack” the dirt of them, I can’t get ahead of it.

        My question is, what advice do dog people have for de-dusting their dogs before coming back in? Do I have some sort of wet wipe ready? Do I leaf-blow them??

        1. KatEnigma*

          Well, it’s kind of a both question. I have a GSD mix (mixed with sled dogs- more undercoat!) and the only time we have had this problem was when she dug herself a dust pit in a drought. The grit and dirt do stick to her coat like nothing else though- and I had a husky as a teen!

          We have hardwood floors and a robot vacuum that runs every day. Otherwise no, I don’t know of anything that takes off the dirt. Water just gets wet and grit ..

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      A good rinse (so no soap) might help. I do think there are wipes for dogs, too! They may or may not make mud depending on how dusty the dog is. But you could just try wiping them down with a damp towel. You could try a hair dryer on cool setting on your shepherd. Also maybe if you place something (like a picnic table) in the yard, and it makes some shade, then they might lie in the shade instead of roll in the dusts. But dogs are gonna dog! (Friend suggests a roomba.)

    3. Anthology*

      Would they tolerate a low-pressure air compressor being used on them? You could keep it in a garage or by the door .

      1. RLC*

        My dad used an air compressor at low pressure to dust off his German Shorthair pointer (who looooved to tunnel in the sandy garden soil). The dog would come running any time he heard the compressor motor come on, the experience was sheer bliss for him. My Golden enjoyed being vacuumed clean.

    4. Emma*

      I find having a robot vacuum helps some. I have one that I got for like $179 (though they definitely go up in price, by hundreds of dollars). If I run the robot vacuum each day, that knocks some of it down. That, and just cleaning more (we now have a monthly cleaning service, which helps a lot!).

      But overall things are just dirtier quicker, now that I have dogs. 1 was dirtier that 0, and 2 is dirtier still!

      No advice about proactive things you can do – maybe wiping them down with a damp towel every time they come in?

      1. Dirty Dogs!*

        I’m starting to think my only real option is deep cleaning more. I vacuum several times and day and always have (I LOVE to vacuum) and dust every week. But now it is clear that won’t be enough. There is dirt on my hanging pots in the kitchen, on my walls, on my crown molding, etc. Whoa!

    5. 00ff00Claire*

      I don’t this problem, but if they are creating dust that settles on everything, a good air purifier might help. We started using them in our bedroom at night and it helps my allergies.

      1. KatEnigma*

        This is a good point- even if you don’t buy a separate air purifier, we always buy the highest quality filter for our furnace/ac that we can reasonably afford. AND we have to change them every 3ish months. In fact, when we see dust is generally an indicator that they need to be changed. Extra fur and dirt mean your filters get clogged a lot more than “normal” and you need a higher quality filter to handle it, too.

    6. Jay*

      I don’t know if this will be of help to you, but I’ve recently seen a huge uptick in dust/dirt in my own place due to a combination of the ash from the Canadian fires and (mostly) second hand dust from the maintenance team refurbishing an apartment next to mine. They are re-sheet rocking the walls right now. It got bad. Anyway, I was researching ways to deal with high amounts of dust and particulates in the air (which were eventually settling down all over everything) and I discovered the Corsi-Rosenthal Device. Which is a SUPER fancy way of saying “Hillbilly Air Purifier”. You make them out of a box fan, four furnace filters, and duct tape. Took me about a half hour to make my first one and I should be able to make another one in 15 minutes or less, now that I know how. It’s been night and day here, and I can’t recommend them enough. You can find the plans everywhere on line.

    7. Generic Name*

      What about wiping them down with a damp microfiber towel if they seem extra grubby/dusty as they come in?

    8. Anono-me*

      My dogs (and humans) always brought in alot of dust on thier feet. I got huge openweave sisal/rope floor mats for each entryway. They were big enough that everyone had to take atleast one step on it with each of their feet. So much dust came off before it came in the house. It didn’t eliminate the problem, but it significantly reduced it. (I now have a big black rubber mat that looks like a decorative iron grate but works the sameway.)

    9. Missb*


      Yeah, I have two dogs and live in the forest. Half of our property is trees and dirt.

      One dog is short haired (naked on his tummy) and the other is super long haired. The long haired pup loves to lay down on the dirt. He brings the forest in with him.

      I have a roomba. I run it every day. They like to make a beeline for the master bedroom and jump on the bed. I make sure I have a blanket or quilt on there that covers the actual blanket we use. I throw extra pillows on the bed because the long haired dog likes to bury toys under the pillows and covers.

      But I have dogs. So I have clean floors for a bit each day and the rest of the time- not so much. They’re happy dogs though.

      (Not the desert. We have rain, so rainy season = mud. I do intercept them with a towel during that part of the year.)

    10. sewsandreads*

      Not sure if this is any help — we had retrievers growing up, and lived in country Australia with lovely red dusty dirt. Retrievers weren’t always allowed inside, but when they were allowed in, one of us kids had to go around the house with a dry mop to get the majority of the hair and dust up afterward, which made vacuuming a lot easier.

      The mop we used was kind of like one of those industrial dusting mops — ex-chef mother swore by them in her kitchens both at home and work. (Alison, hoping the link’s okay! https://www.bunnings.com.au/oates-modacrylic-dusting-mop-with-extension-handle_p4482210)

    11. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      I have a “dirt dog” and I can relate! His love for dirt surpasses all things. He’s a big boy and he wears as much as he can, embedded in his thick fur, always. We live in the forest, usually with lots of rain, but he’s made a big dirt pit under the shed that never turns to mud. In summer there’s endless dry dirt to roll in. I swear he takes daily dirt baths like a chicken. So much simple joy.
      He could not import more quarts of dirt into the house daily if he were trying. (I think he might be trying.)
      So, mostly just sympathy from me. The thick layer of dust on everything is a real thing, miles beyond what a “regular” dog causes.
      I do put white bath towels (the cheap Costco bulk ones) on all his beds. They catch at least some of the imported dirt, and it’s easy to visually monitor the dirt density and wash as needed (bleach required to continue to be useful for judging dirt levels). I’ve considered buying a dog hair dryer (lower noise, high speed blowing, no heat) but my dog is horrified by noise so it’s not worth the risk to his mental health. Some variation on that might work for you– ie some shop vacs can act as blowers if you just shift the tube to the exhaust port, or there’s the air compressor option others have mentioned.
      Can you keep some rooms closed off? The guest room is the cleanest room in my house, since there’s never any reason for a dog to be in there. And my bedroom is only dog-accessible when I’m sleeping, so it gets less dirt than the kitchen/living room. Not a solution, but it helps.
      I can’t recommend bathing. The “clean” would last maybe 10 minutes before the next dirt re-loading, so the effort would be pointless (while my exasperation level might then become toxic, lol). Plus he does very well without bathing, and I wouldn’t want to disrupt his skin biome for no reason. (Might feel differently if he was allowed on my bed!)
      My boy is nearly 13, so a cleaner house is probably not far off. I’ve just accepted that the Dirt Love is one of his special needs, similar to how my previous dogs have needed extra care due to incontinence, or hip dysplasia, or food allergies. They’re always worth it! <3

  40. Still*

    Retinol users –

    after reading a lot of comments with people raving about retinol, I’ve finally decided to give it a go (I have started to notice some fine lines and thought it might be a good time to try it out). First, I tried a tiny package of Paula’s Choice (I think it was 1%) with no noticeable results, and when that run out, I got The Ordinary Retinol Serum 1% in Squalane, which I’ve been using for maybe six weeks.

    I started off carefully, only a couple times a week, dreading the peeling skin that everybody warns you about, but it didn’t seem to be a problem at all, so I started using it most nights, just to see what happens. And… Well, I don’t know. My skin looks good, but that might be the result of being a bit better about skincare in general, and getting a bit of sun. I’ve figured I’d stick with it until the bottle runs out and then decide if it seems worth it to keep going, but I’m slightly weirded out by the utter lack of redness, peeling, and such. Not that I want that, but I suppose at least then I would know there is a reaction?

    What are your experiences with retinol? Has anyone completely avoided the redness and peeling, but still got noticible results after a while? Is there another brand / product I should try?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I experienced bizarre skin bleaching around my eyes when using retinol that I guess is pretty uncommon. It was so bad that my derm and I had to really ensure it wasn’t vitiligo. It took quite a while for the pigment to come back after I stopped.

      Can I tell you what has changed my skin the most? Products with ceramides. Dr. Jart Ceramidin is the greatest thing I have ever discovered. I also just learned about the power of Egyptian Magic which is an all bee-based product. Made of beeswax, propolis, honey, olive oil, and royal jelly (which is not sustainable just so you know). My skin looks 20 years younger. These ingredients are like a natural collagen powerhouse.

      1. Artemesia*

        I use ceramides and hyaluronic acid products. The latter is magic. I can’t tell if the former work or not.

        1. Rainy*

          My big thing lately has been peptides; my skin loves them!

          I’ve calmed down a bit but for a while there I was like that guy in The Graduate except I was saying “Peptides!” to everyone. :P

      2. Anthology*

        My skin hates propolis. It turns me into a grease slick. But ferments, my skin LOVES. I struggled with them in the lotion-style bottles that dribble all over, but decant into a spritzer and they’re magic.

        It’s crazy how trial and error skincare is; people can sink a fortune into finding a good routine, even with only cheap products.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Isn’t that wild? What works for others would absolutely wreck my skin. Ugh life.

        2. Rainy*

          I’m like that with vitamin C. I tried a couple early in the vitamin C serum fad and you could’ve used me to grease a fifth-wheel base plate.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        The only time I’ve had redness was when I ignored the warning against wearing during the day. Sunlight and retinol are a bad combination.
        It’s hard to say whether the stuff helps or not: I don’t know what my skin would have been like without it. (Sample size of one.) It hasn’t worked miracles, that’s for sure.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          My derm told me most of our indoor lighting and our computer screens are also UV lights and we need to protect ourselves indoors as well.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I tried that retinol product from The Ordinary too, and ditched it mid bottle because it was doing absolutely nothing for me. No side effects but also no positive differences.

      I’ve since given up on the idea of a skincare routine that involves anything more than removing makeup, washing my face, and using moisturizer. I had no luck (and the occasional breakout) with all other “extra” products I tried, and my main skin concern at the time only went away with a prescription product. So, keeping it simple it is, for the foreseeable future.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      I’ve tried retinol couple of times, and both times I got bad breakouts that didn’t go away with more use (advise usually is to continue and let your skin to adjust). I don’t ever go into the sun without sunscreen, so that wasn’t it.
      I eventually gave up.

      1. CityMouse*

        Same. I was super careful, spread out usage, used small amounts, and it just made me break out terribly.

    4. WellRed*

      I think retinol products have been improved and are not as harsh any more? I’ve had good luck with neutrogena retinol products. They have a slew of formulas and always seem to be switching them up so I won’t try to recommend a specific one.

    5. Anthology*

      Tretinoin (prescription-level) is known for causing peeling in a lot of people, but from what I’ve seen that risk is overblown for OTC retinol. I think the messaging just bled through the entire “family” of products.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I have zero peeling and redness but also found it slows aging alot but doesn’t necessarily reverse it. You’re not going to go from an old person to looking young again with retinols. Damage is done. Also many fine lines may not be from “general aging” but might be subconscious facial expressions. For example, when a health condition flairs up I find my fine lines look worse. I am probably squinting ever more slightly, no cream will help that.

      I recommend neogenesis recovery serum but don’t expect miracles, it works generally.

      Also for discoloration or veins/redness/spots, I recommend not placing hope in any cream and just getting IPL. I did a series of treatments and it did wonders for my appearance and self-esteem. I find that fine lines are OK but a brown or yellow or red area on your face is much more noticeable and generally annoying and unattractive (at least on myself, of course I barely register these things on other people)

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I use Tretinoin (stronger than OTC retinol) and didn’t experience any redness or peeling. My skin is apparently very tolerant. Maybe you are lucky too!

    8. CatCat*

      I have a low dosage Tretonin (prescription) and had dryness/flakiness for a few weeks to start, but then it was fine.

    9. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I started with The Ordinary’s 0.5% retinol because I was afraid of starting out too strong, but I tolerated that well. Moved up to their 2%, and still have had no redness or irritation. The thing with retinoids is, they’re not a quick fix. You have to use a retinoid consistently and stick with it.

      I recommend watching the Doctorly YouTube channel’s episode on retinoids. The channel is run by two dermatologists who really explain what products actually do and don’t do. That might give you a better idea of what to expect.

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

    Don’t think I’ve see a small joys thread yet. What small things have brightened your week?

    I bought some fancy awesome-smelling triple-milled bar soap when I went into Manhattan yesterday.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I got to try some beer-based vinegar from American Vinegar Works, thanks to a friend. I like a variety of vinegars but hadn’t had one based on an IPA before!

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      School’s out! My teen asked to go see the new Spider-verse movie today to celebrate the start of summer. I usually love going to the movies with him but fatigue & sensory issues are making theaters really overwhelming lately. I agreed to go… but then just a few minutes later he got invited to a friend’s house to watch movies this afternoon.

      He and I instead went out for a dim sum brunch this morning, he gets to hang with his friends this afternoon, and I get to take a quiet mid-day nap :)

    3. Rainy*

      My in-laws came to our state and are staying in a town about 90 minutes away (long story, they’re being petty) and my husband got up at 7am to drive up and see them and I am happily at home with the pets, watching tv and cleaning and not being insulted or condescended to!

      And honestly, either they’ll be so delighted I’m not there that they’ll behave themselves (for once) OR they’ll be so delighted I’m not there that they’ll immediately start trying to trash-talk me to my husband and either way it suits my overall strategy brilliantly.

    4. RagingADHD*

      A very joyful and thankful week! Started a new job: nice people, work that is challenging enough to be interesting but not stressful. Good pay.

      I had my first book club meeting with my local chapter of the Jane Austen Society. Really interesting, thoughtful, funny, and nice people I look forward to getting to know better.

      When I got home from work yesterday, the kitchen smelled like Pine Sol and my husband was vacuuming. He knew I was tired from adjusting to the new job schedule, so he got ahead on my share of the chores. Pine Sol is one of my love languages.

    5. Jay*

      I finally cleaned my closets!!!
      It almost looks like a real live grownup lives in my apartment now:)

      1. Manders*

        I’m cleaning my basement today and it feels really good! I always felt it was too overwhelming, but I just went ahead and started, and that’s really all it took.

        1. Jay*

          That’s exactly how this closet cleaning started! I needed to find something and couldn’t because of the mess (I live in a one bedroom. I have three and a half closets. None of them are very big.) and it was too expensive to warrant buying another if I had it already. So I started digging around and straitening as I went. Before I knew it I had the trash barrel over there and was tossing out mostly-empty bottles and packages of cleaning and maintenance supplies that were for things I only had in the house because of my last job (they were useless, otherwise) and packaging up the full bottles of useful products that I don’t need any more to give away. Then, I had so much room that I just had to put another one in better order. And another. Eventually, they were all done, I was filthy, and it was 11:00 at night :)

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

      Today I went to the far-away-from-my-house fancy farmer’s market today instead of the also-very-nice one nearby. What a treat! I felt like I was on vacation. I got peppers, broccoli, sugar snap peas, blueberries, a fantastic pulled-pork sandwich for lunch, and a toddler-sized bushel of fresh basil for making pesto.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Spouse and I decided not to do an evening bike ride. Twice. Thursday it was a bit late and we were both tired, so we moved it to Friday. Friday it was a bit late and the rain was coming in several hours earlier than planned, so we got takeout from the restaurant we had planned to bike to.

      Listening to my body, and adapting accordingly, is something I’ve really struggled to find the balance of post-cancer, and each following day felt right and healthy.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Our school has been without a principal for the past year. Yesterday, I got an e-mail saying a principal had been appointed and…it’s our current deputy principal who has been acting principal for the past year. I’m…relieved. Things didn’t work out with our last principal; he left after a couple of months because a job he wanted more came up, so the fact that the role is now being filled by somebody who knows the school, is comfortable in the role, who we all know and are used to and who is pretty certainly not going to leave for somewhere else.

    9. Snell*

      I went to a chrysanthemum cutting sale today, just to look (HAHAHA!!). Ran into a couple family friends who also happen to be neighbors, and I brought home 2 cuttings.

      Also, I had peanut butter banana toast for breakfast this week. I could have eaten peanut butter toast (or even just toast and a spoonful of peanut butter directly off the spoon) and a whole banana separately (this is usually how I do it), but I had the time, so figured “why not?” and made the toast/sliced and splayed bananas on the peanut butter. The eating experience was a small amount better than eating the individual components, but it made me feel taken care of (I’m taking care of myself!! Feels good).

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        I love this! That little extra food flourish can make things feel so special. And it’s great that you’re finding joy in putting that small act of creativity towards your first meal of the day

        When I feel extra ambitious, I mash the banana into the peanut butter, spread it on the toast, and sprinkle raisins over the top. So fancy! :)

    10. carcinization*

      A cousin I haven’t gotten to hang out with in several years is meeting us for lunch tomorrow, and coming over to our place afterward for cake.

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

        Cousins I haven’t seen in years are among my favorite kind of people to randomly grab a meal with, that sounds lovely!

    11. Nicki Name*

      It’s cherry season at last! (We had a very cold spring so all the local produce is ripening late.)

    12. Retail Not Retail*

      Things are bad at the animal shelter I volunteer at right now, to the point it doesn’t seem useful or safe to go.

      But we had a transport to a no kill shelter up north and my favorite little girl went on the floor on the 14th and was adopted that day. For over 10 times her fee down here! I love her name, Goose Jr, and I am sad her new people will give her a more normal name but happy that she will experience snow! When we were in the yard she’d just run into the pool in the middle of zoomies, I know she’ll love snow.

    13. sewsandreads*

      I made some cinnamon buns, which the other half loved and requested another batch of (so that was very nice). And then the second batch turned out even better, which was EXTRA NICE.

      So I’m stoked.

    14. M&M Mom*

      I dropped my license on the street a few days ago. Someone evidently found it and turned it in to the local police station because the police station mailed it back to me. Very happy!

    15. GoryDetails*

      Yesterday I drove a friend to the airport (small joy: made it safely, on time, and without too much stress). Later in the day I met another friend at a new-to-us restaurant, which turned out to be awesome – so much so that we had so much food we couldn’t really look at the dessert menu at all. And then the waiter popped in with a plate of sample-sized servings of three of their desserts – including a miniature Bananas Foster, which he set aflame in the traditional manner! So of course I had to try it, and… it. was. AWESOME. I don’t think I’d ever had Bananas Foster before, and that one was exquisitely buttery and sumptuous and – well, I guess I wasn’t too full for dessert after all. [If you’re in the Burlington, MA area, it was Eddie V’s, a high-end seafood restaurant; pricey enough that it’ll be a special-occasions place rather than a stop-by-often one, but oh, the food was good.]

    16. Rara Avis*

      I saw my first bear! I was walking a rail trail in a rural area and he went lolloping across the trail into the woods.

  42. Bluebell*

    Just a quick follow up about the cabin situation with the friend who was keeper of the keys and towels. Sunday morning I used Alison’s suggested script to get a specific date for the return; a few hours later she texted she would do it Tuesday. She texted Tuesday mid morning, and ended up dropping off everything, plus a thank you gift, later that night, while I was out. She also apologized for being forgetful. I was partially relieved that I didn’t have to see her, but also a little disappointed. Thanks again for everyone’s advice/perspective last weekend. I’m not bringing up future scheduling, and I am looking into a keypad lock. Any additional suggestions for locks are definitely welcome, though the cabin doesn’t have Wi-Fi. I’m leaning towards a Schlage or Kwikset.

    1. SofiaDeo*

      I will attach a reply with a link to a Schlage I like. There is a key, in case you miss all the “low battery” warnings. You can set different combos thus assign them to different people; if someone abuses the privilege you can simply remove that specific code.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yay, I’m glad it worked out!

      I have a kwikset “dumb” keypad lock. You can use it with a key if need be. No Wi-Fi. Just needs batteries.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      There was quite a lot of suspicion fanfic in the previous thread. Are you sure that the apology and thank-you gift were given in genuine remorse? After all, it could all be a subterfuge for their plans to take over the cabin and eventually adverse-possess it away from you!

  43. Teapot Translator*

    Fellow CPAP users (or people who’ve successfully treated their sleep apnea any other way), what changes did you notice after you’d been using the machine (or other treatment) for a few months? I have sleep apnea and I seem to finally have a treatment that works (the right kind of mask, the right kind of pressure, etc.) thanks to new a new HCP team. Thing is, besides being tired all the time (which was probably caused by several factors, not just sleep apnea) and snoring, I didn’t have any of the other symptoms, so it’s hard to see progression? I am not stopping treatment; I know this is important for my health. I’m just wondering if the tiredness ever goes completely away or if there’s some changes I will see in the future that I can look forward to.

    1. Rainy*

      I don’t have sleep apnea but my husband was dxed with sleep apnea and started using a CPAP about 3 years ago. He was super disappointed when it didn’t fix him immediately (I’d been dxed with adult-onset asthma not long before and starting a daily asthma medication was literally life-changing and I improved basically overnight, so that was what he was hoping for), but honestly, if you’ve been having bad sleep for years (which he had), you’re in the hole, sleep-wise, and it feels worse before it feels better.

      I started noticing some good effects around 4-5 months, I guess, and he started actually feeling like things were improving after around 6 months of using his CPAP every night. After a year it was so much better, and now, 3 years in, he’s basically not having any episodes (as long as he uses his machine) and he feels a lot better and isn’t tired all the time. Snoring and fatigue were also his only symptoms.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you! Knowing that it takes time helps. It gives me hope that I’ll see the difference, but I need to be patient. Thank you.

        1. Rainy*

          I mentioned this to him last night (he was away during the days all weekend due to a visit from his parents) and he agreed that it was probably about six months when he started feeling like it was actually doing something, and a year before he really settled into life where he wasn’t stopping breathing multiple times a night. He also has insomnia for other reasons that is reasonably intractable so I don’t think he’ll ever be fatigue free, but the CPAP really knocked out a huge chunk of preventable fatigue!

          There’s an IG reel we both laughed a lot at where the creator says something like “There are two types of people in the world: the ones who have to make sure every condition is perfect to fall asleep, and the people who get in bed and immediately pass out, and THEY ALWAYS MARRY EACH OTHER”. It’s me, I’m the out-like-a-light one (although when my adult-onset asthma onset, I spent something like 14 months having really awful sleep–when I say going on montelukast was life-changing, I mean LIFE-CHANGING).

    2. RagingADHD*

      I saw an immediate and dramatic improvement in my fatigue and brain fog on Day 1. The tiredness crept back as I started needing more pressure, and the improvement from those adjustments was less dramatic but still noticeable.

      Sleep disorders are frequently comorbid with a bunch of other chronic conditions, including autoimmune disease, endocrine disorders, and ADHD. If you are still having symptoms you may need a more extensive workup, or if you have other diagnoses you might need to adjust your treatment plan for those.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Bear in mind, my baseline before treatment was that I was falling asleep at traffic lights, or if I sat down in public for more than 5 minutes. I was crying all the time, could barely string 2 thoughts together, and thought I was losing my mind. The first night I actually slept through without drowning every 62 seconds, I woke up feeling human. It was amazing.

        So if you weren’t that severe going in, the improvement is going to be more gradual.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Thanks! Yeah, I wasn’t at that stage (yet), but I’m glad that I’m able to use my machine all night (and not just a few hours or not at all like before).

    3. 653-CXK*

      I will be on sleep apnea treatment for eight years come this December. CPAP therapy is a definite lifesaver for me, as when I was tested I had an AHI (apnea-hypnopea index) of 45. The first night of CPAP, it went down to 10.5, and in the first months of 2016, it slowly went down through the 5’s and 4’s to around the 1’s and 2’s. Now, my AHI average is about 0.6 to 1.3 each night (and I have gotten a few nights where no apneas or hypnopeas were recorded, which is excellent). One thing I’ve done since 2015 is to record my AHIs on the computer to track my progress, and it does help with compliance.

      Before CPAP, I would sleep much longer on the weekends to make up for the sleep I didn’t get for the week. After CPAP, I get up the same time every day, feel refreshed, and not sleep deprived. It does take a little time, but you will find that using CPAP will be much better for your sleep in the long run.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you! Yes, I’m still at the stage where I need to sleep more on weekends. I was never a super energetic person even as a child, but I’m hoping to feel less fatigued in a few months.

        1. 653-CXK*

          You’re welcome! In case you were wondering about the AHI index, it’s measured by the number of incidents divided by the number of hours. E.g. if you had 16 incidents in one night and you used the machine for 8 hours, your AHI would be 2 (16/2).

          The table below will explain AHI rankings…

          Normal: AHI less than 5 (optimal!)
          Mild sleep apnea: AHI between 5 and 15
          Moderate sleep apnea: AHI between 15 and 30
          Severe sleep apnea: AHI greater than 30

          1. 653-CXK*

            Gah! Division fail…

            E.g. if you had 16 incidents in one night and you used the machine for 8 hours, your AHI would be 2 (16/8).

    4. MissCoco*

      My mom felt it took her over a year to actually feel better. At first she felt worse because her body had been running on cortisol for years, which meant little sleepiness; once she started using the CPAP she felt much more tired and run down because her body stopped overproducing cortisol. This is her sleep medicine doctor’s opinion on it anyways. Now she hates missing a night.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Hmmm, you’re making a good point. I’ll ask the doctor at my next appointment (just in general). I do feel like I’m less high-strung now? Which makes me more tired. Hopefully, in a year, I’ll reach a balance.

    5. ItsTheFinalCountdown*

      My daughter slept with a Bi-Pap, which is quite similar, for 2 years when she was a baby. Her sleep apnea had caused pretty serious pulmonary hypertension, in addition to just poor sleep. We were vigilant about using her machine every night and nap because it was for her health. After a couple months using her device, her pulmonary hypertension fully resolved. Long story short, there are probably underlying health benefits you can’t see, and at a minimum, more oxygen to the blood and brain is good for every facet of your life!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Yes! That’s why I noted that I wasn’t going to stop; I didn’t want people worry that I would stop just because I didn’t see any improvements. I do know that my sleep apnea was having a really bad effects on my body, beyond my tiredness.

    6. Ontariariario*

      A friend of mine doesn’t have sleep apnea but he had serious sleep deprivation due to medical issues. When it was finally resolved he was hoping for immediately better days but it took weeks and probably even months for his body to start to feel normal again. He complained for a while about constant feelings of sleepiness and I would point out that he was clearly sleeping 10-12 hours per night for very good reason!

      I know it’s not the same reason for sleep deprivation, but in his case the tiredness did slowly improve after some months and I hope you get an improvement soon too.

    7. Breaking Dishes*

      I’ve used a CPAP for over 5 years. I got tested because I snored. Before using the CPAP I did not have symptoms of tiredness or falling asleep during the day. Because I didn’t have symptoms, I never had the amazing life changing experience that some people report. I was able to use the CPAP and mask provided from day 1, without any problems. I use it because it’s supposed to be better for me and now I’m used to it as part of my regular sleep routine-so I have some trouble sleeping when I don’t use it.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you! I was at a later stage than you : snoring + tiredness. But no falling asleep just watching TV or at a stop while driving.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I frequently have disturbingly detailed and memorable dreams that are hard to shake off– and they went away when I got the machine. I can tell when I am overdue for a replacement mask because they start coming back.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I have dreams now (or I notice that I have dreams now)! I’ll forget them as soon as I wake up, but it had been a while since that happened. In my case, I put it in the category of the machine working, but I’ll keep an eye on it. Thanks!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I still dream– but they fade quickly like people always said they did. Without the CPAP dreams feel frighteningly real and the mood persists.

  44. Father's Day Blues*

    Does anyone else hate when Father’s Day rolls around? Who decided we need a father’s day? I guess people who loved their fathers. My relationship with my dad is so terrible that I never believe anyone else when they say they have a great relationship with their father (even though of course I know intellectually that many many people love their fathers). I used to get so triggered as a kid when my friends’ dads were around. I hate having to acknowledge this day.

    If you have a similar relationship with your father, how does Father’s Day feel to you?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Mine is gone (since I was a kid), so it’s triggering in a sad way. It sucks seeing all these things about dads, while I can’t ever see mine again.

      Mother’s Day is triggering in a way similar to what you described about Father’s Day. My mother is not great (then or now) – causing great harm, so again, hard to see all the celebration when I don’t have a great mom.

      One of the marketing lists I’m on (I think Etsy) sent an email asking if I’d like to opt out of Mother’s Day emails, which I really appreciated! I suspect they did something similar for Father’s Day, but I didn’t catch it.

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

        I’m in the exact same boat. My dad was the safe(r) person in my family, and he died right after I graduated college. So I try to ignore FD because it makes me sad, and try to ignore MD because I’m estranged from my mom and it makes me sad in a different way.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      What I’ve done for Father’s Day, since it’s so difficult to avoid, is come up with a few positive memories, or really, not actively negative memories (I had to dig, but I do have a handful of them) and remember those. These memories, by the way, are not ones that other people would find positive or happy, but they are the best I can do. My father was a broken, emotionally stunted man who should have never been a parent. He’s been gone for over 25 years, and I’m very glad he’s dead. The world is better off without him in it. However, he was a product of, and a victim of, his own culture and upbringing. It was a catastrophic failure of both his family and society that he ended up the way he did. An absolute waste of a life.

      I focus some of my charitable efforts and volunteer work on things that prevent boys from growing up into men like my father and preventing men from acting like him. It’s an uphill battle, but one worth fighting. No one should have to grow up the way we did, with fathers like ours.

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I also had a poor relationship with my father. However, I married a wonderful man and father so now I can celebrate Fathers Day happily with him!

    4. Missb*

      Eh I never really had a relationship with my dad, despite living with him for years as a child and teen. He died about 8 years ago; Father’s Day is more about making sure my husband is recognized for being a fabulous parent to our kids.

      My FIL died a few weeks ago so this will be my husband’s first Father’s Day without his dad. He’s driving my MIL around to check out some places to spread his dad’s ashes (which won’t happen for a few months, but it’s a good way to spend his first dad-less Father’s Day.)

      In the end, it’s another day. If you have a great relationship with your dad, then you may opt to spend it with him, if not, then don’t. Your happiness is important.

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      Same. My father kicked me out of his house when I was twelve. I haven’t heard from him since.

      I usually google his name + “obituary” on Father’s Day. I doubt I’ll be in the will, but it would be nice if he remembered me one last time.

  45. short guy clothes*

    I’m a very short guy (5 feet) on the heavier side and I need a sports jackets/blazer. The sleeves and length are always too long, but the shoulders are the main issue (I can get the sleeves hemmed). If seems if the shoulders fit the rest can be altered. I have sometimes bought husky boys sizes but often the quality and drape are not the same. One day I hope to have one tailor made so it will fit just right, but any suggestions for now of brands or stores where I could find something decent? Thanks!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      You could just have one altered. Alterations are much cheaper than tailor made, and if you need less broad shoulders that will involve taking out fabric, which is much easier (and often cheaper) than widening/enlarging.
      Ask around at dry cleaners. They often have someone they refer to.

    2. just another queer reader*

      There are some stores that cater to queer women, trans men, and nonbinary people, many of whom have similar struggles with sizing. Check out Wildfang, or do a search for suits for trans men.

      PS Tomboy Toes does men’s shoes in small sizes, if that’s of interest.

    3. NeonFireworks*

      If you’re up for paying a little extra. Robbie Brown is a Canadian brand of high-end menswear for customers 5’8″ and below. Pretty sure they ship internationally!

    4. TakingNotes*

      I just overheard some friends discussing Peter Manning NYC as a menswear/ masculine-style clothing source for shorter folks!

  46. MissCoco*

    We got a PS5 this week, and I’m looking for game suggestions. I’ve never had a gaming system before and I’m not very coordinated/good at the controller yet. I’m looking for fun and relaxing rather than exciting/fighting. My husband got me Abzu which I loved and already finished (for the first time), any ideas?

  47. Humble Schoolmarm*

    I’m afraid this is too heavy for this thread, but I really need some advice. I have a very close friend who has decided to move to a very remote environment (pop 300) with a new-ish boyfriend who will also be her boss.
    I was concerned about the isolation (plus change of career, plus boyfriend-as-boss) thing, but determined to support my friend, until last Sunday, when she called me to come pick her up and confided that her boyfriend has been giving the silent treatment for minor disagreements and suggested he might be narcissistic and emotionally abusive. I tried to gently suggest that going away with him was something that she needed to seriously think about, given these red flags and if she is really committed to the change of career, there are a lot of similar opportunities that she can take (k-12 education) in that region.
    I checked in today, and she is back to very excited about the move (I doubt coincidentally, their things were shipped on Wednesday). She also wants to know if I will be attending a going away brunch next week. This will be the first time I have been invited to meet “Mr Wonderful” (another flag). I don’t have a clue how I can go and pretend to wish my friend (and boyfriend, I suppose) well after the allegations of abuse, but I also want to support my friend, especially if things go wrong. Any thoughts or advise? Can I be blunt if I decline the brunch invite?

    1. Rainy*