{ 1,139 comments… read them below }

  1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    Hopefully the kitties are getting extra treats for July 4th :)

  2. NR*

    Please tell me if I’m being irrationally annoyed by this or not. I have a co-worker who makes THE BEST cheesecake. It is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Y’all, he refuses to tell anyone the recipe. I have begged and pleaded and he won’t give it away. Why??! I’m not going to start bringing it to work get-togethers, I’d just like to serve it to family and friends. I know some people are precious about recipes but gah! I know I need to drop it but why are some people like this with secret recipes?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’ve heard TONS of stories in this vein–Great Grandma’s prize winning [fill in the blank] turns out to be a recipe from the back of a box or bag. Laurie Colwin was of the opinion that there was no better chocolate chip cookie recipe than the one on the back of the bag of chips.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Everyone is so scandalized by this but, honestly, nobody should be surprised. Food companies used to put a lot of work into testing and perfecting recipes to sell their products. It’s not at all an accident–nor is it a shame–that so many fantastic “old family recipes” came off of boxes and jar labels. They’re good recipes!

      1. Baby Yoda*

        Years ago I had a handed-down recipe that some of my hubby’s friends loved, but in this case their wives refused to ask for the recipe. I would have gladly given it, but it somehow they could not bring themselves to ask. Crazy.

        1. Chipmunk*

          Why couldn’t the dudes ask? Wives probably didn’t want to be in charge of making it. Lol

          1. Media Circus*

            I was once the person with the amazing recipe that a student worker loved, so he asked for the recipe. Went home and asked his (newly-minted) wife to make it. They didn’t turn out the same. (Shortening and butter bake differently!) Student worker … [sigh] … ACTUALLY SAID, “Media Circus’s were better.” To which newly-minted wife (rightly!) snapped, “Then why didn’t you marry Media Circus???!!!”

            Well, he was a student worker and i guess this was a learning experience.

        2. negligent apparitions*

          My friend’s wife DID ask for the recipe, but her husband won’t let her bake it. He said she won’t make it as good as I do. I stay FAR away from that conversation, LOL!

    1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I find this really strange too, I think it’s because they see it as giving away some of their power or value. At the moment, they have valuable knowledge (an amazing recipe) that you don’t. Also, if everyone can make it themselves, they may not value his cheesecake as much. It’s not really that different from when people hoard information in the workplace – they do it to shore up power and make themselves seem more valuable then everyone else.
      I recommend making up entertaining reasons in your head why he won’t tell you – maybe the recipe was given to him by an elf and if he tells anyone else he will turn into a toad. Maybe it’s a cheap supermarket brand that he’s been pretending he made himself. Maybe it has a secret ingredient like rainbow unicorn tears that make it so delicious and he doesn’t want anyone to know that he supports an industry that makes unicorns cry.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        That made giggle. I concur with this advice. Its much better to be amused than irritated at your coworker.

      2. Mags*

        Maybe it’s a really easy recipe and he’s embarrassed? People always seemed a little let down when I told them the recipe for my Amazing Raspberry Coconut Macaroons. It’s the most basic recipe, and then I tossed a raspberry into each one.

        1. Mztery1*

          This actually happened to me once. I’m a really good cook but not a great baker. My go to when I had to bring sweets. Somewhere was a Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix with added, sour cream, cream, cheese, and cinnamon. I brought it to a party at DH cousins house and she kept badgering me for the recipe. I kept telling her, but she didn’t believe me and thought I was being rude. So maybe it is a really easy recipe and your coworker is embarrassed?
          I also find out that if someone gives me a recipe that is special to them it never comes out the way they make it. So I wish your coworker wouldn’t worry so much.

          1. Just me*

            My mom and her sister both made pecan pies from the recipe on the back of the Karo syrup bottle. They did not come out the same! I think my mom left hers in the oven a little longer. They were both good though.

        2. Natalie*

          I would love your recipe for your Amazing Raspberry Coconut Macaroons if you’re willing to share it, and I promise not to be let down. :)

        3. Marzipan*

          I LOVE a ridiculously easy but highly effective recipe. Mine is for something affectionately known as ‘The Things’ which are literally made from flour, cheese, butter, and a packet of crisps.

          1. Rainy*

            Um, specifics please? I love all these things and I would be excited to try a new combination of them.

        4. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

          They sound delicious! I would be so delighted if I found out something I thought was difficult was actually easy to make.

        5. misquoted*

          I get asked for my cheesecake recipe, too, but it’s just the recipe on the Philadelphia cream cheese packages, except I double the vanilla. Maybe it’s something like that, and he doesn’t want to admit it. :)

        6. Dust Bunny*

          I once got hounded by my mom’s sewing group for the recipe for my brownies.

          Y’all, they were store-brand box mix made halfway between regular and cakelike. There was no recipe. And this was a group of women who were expert from-scratch cooks and bakers!

          I forget what Mom finally told them. It was low-grade mortifying.

      3. Heffalump*

        Next time I see crying unicorns in a movie, I’ll be on the lookout for a “No unicorns were made to cry” line in the closing credits.

      4. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        My money’s on supermarket brand. Perhaps Edwards. Their frozen pies are so good and you just thaw them. I used to buy the key lime pie weekly.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Or a local bakery–many a “homemade” special this or that actually came from those establishments!

          1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

            Yes. I loved the story downthread about the hippie store cobbler mash subterfuge.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I have a gazpacho recipe that originally was an award-winning recipe and over the course of ten plus years was customized to be mine. I won’t share that. Nor will I share my salsa recipe or my spicy Thai peanut sauce. They all have at least one unique ingredient that makes them memorable. So I think your annoyance is too much. He is probably as protective of his cheesecake as I am of my soup, salsa and sauce. I can’t explain exactly why it is so important to me to keep it to myself, but it is.

      1. nnn*

        Not to challenge you at all but will you try to say any more about why if you can? To me it seems like more people finding joy in food would be solely a positive. What is it that hits you differently with these?

        1. Chef Bonnet*

          Because they’re mine.

          I also learned how to make gazpacho in Spain, and I have a similar reaction.

          Again, because they’re mine.

          1. Alexander Graham Yell*

            Yep, this is me with my sangria. Learned it in Spain when I lived there, have tweaked it to exactly my tastes, am happy to give broad instructions but will never give my recipe to anybody because it took me years to perfect and I enjoy sharing it with people I care about. (That’s the key part for me, though – the people benefitting from it are people I’ve chosen and I care about and I’m willing to spend hours preparing things for. It’s an act of love in a way that sharing the recipe wouldn’t be, that turns it into a commodity and not a shared experience.)

        2. LlamaDuck*

          It’s likely personal.

          Maybe this analogy makes sense: if I wrote, say, a love letter, for my partner, and it was from the heart. And, I recited the letter at a special event in front of a crowd to honor my spouse, like an anniversary party, and gifted them with the only handwritten copy of the letter. My spouse loves it and treasures it, and everyone at the party thinks it’s great and they applaud.

          Then, imagine someone at the party asks if they can *also* have a written copy of the letter. They want to give it to their partner! They will copy it down in their own handwriting, but they will credit me, so it’s totally ok, right?

          No, nope, not ok, not something I will say yes to.

          It’s not a piece I wrote and published for general audiences in an essay collection or blog post. It’s a love letter. I’m okay with sharing it with others, through the art of public recitation, in very specific contexts. I am aware that even this act of sharing carries some risk it will be appropriated and used in a way I don’t want. Even so, I hope others will respect my intentions for the letter: a personal, specific, artful declaration of love for my spouse.

          For many people, creating the recipe and passing it down to the next generation are akin to the act of creating and writing a love letter. Whereas the act of sharing food is more akin to reading it aloud. Sharing and mutually enjoying food can be, at it’s best, an act of communal love.

          Whereas, the act of developing a recipe is an act of creation, and the act of sharing it with someone else an act of intimacy – a much more personal kind of love, and not really something for an acquaintance or coworker.

          There are other reasons. The recipe may have cultural significance, so it may be inappropriate to share with people outside of that culture.

          Or, there may be a sense of frustration around the disrespect or entitlement people often feel to others’ creative labor. If a person works hard to create a recipe, it’s similar to writing “on spec”: an act of labor, done out of a personal passion, that nevertheless may be something the creator is hoping to sell or make a profit from in the future.

          Unlike fiction, recipes are not protected by copyright law. So, anyone hoping to profit off a good one is wise to keep it a secret (hence the corporate intrigue around KFC or Coca-Cola’s “secret recipes”). By keeping the recipe secret, the creator has a stronger shot at taking some share of the market. This is true even if they’re only interested in the local market of, say, the county-wide blueberry pie bake-off.

          1. Micah*

            This is a whole new perspective for me. I didn’t once consider that it could a completely self-made recipe from scratch. That makes so much more sense than keeping secret a recipe they found randomly 40 years ago. (You can tell I am not an experienced chef!)

            1. bamcheeks*

              See, I’m the opposite. I have a few recipes that are ones I either made up from scratch or massively adapted so they’re unique to me, and I LOVE sharing them. I have a few people who send me texts to say things like, “I’m making that lentil recipe you shared on [long defunct forum] fifteen years ago!” and that’s magic.

              1. londonedit*

                There are still people who send me a message whenever they make my mum’s dumplings (which don’t involve suet as many traditional British recipes do), after I shared that recipe on a now-long-defunct forum about 15 years ago! I’ve also shared our family recipe for a Christmassy mushroom, pepper and pine nut loaf far and wide – my mum originally got the recipe from a chef friend of hers in 1994, my first Christmas as a vegetarian, and it’s so popular that we have to make at least two every year because we need one for the Boxing Day buffet and one for everyone to enjoy as part of Christmas lunch. People still ask for that recipe every year, too!

                1. Chilipepper Attitude*

                  Ooh, can you share the Christmassy mushroom, pepper and pine nut loaf? Many thanks in advance!

              2. amoeba*

                Yup, that would be me as well! I guess it’s really a different way of thinking and hard to understand if you’re in the other camp…

                (Obviously, if it’s something you’re earning money with, I get it! But otherwise, sure, I respect your choice but doesn’t mean I’ll ever be able to comprehend it emotionally…)

              3. Random Dice*

                I love thinking of a friend when making a recipe. Then it’s like that recipe is warming not only my belly, but also my heart.

              4. AnotherLadyGrey*

                Do you have such a recipe for lentils? I would love to try it if you are willing to share!

            2. Alexander Graham Yell*

              Oh yeah, I have a few things that I’ve made where I’m so happy to share because I found them somewhere and I want that blogger/recipe writer/whoever to get the credit due to them. Sharing something that can be found anywhere feels fine to me. But to your point – if it’s something I’ve put time into developing and that takes me a long time to make (I have a killer risotto recipe that I love making for people but requires like 4+ hours of cooking because I’ve set up the order of things very specifically to distribute flavours the way I want it done), I’m not sharing. Anybody who cooks with me can try to learn it, but I have nothing written down and cook by feel/taste.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                And if they’re not willing to spend four hours to make the real thing, I wouldn’t want it bandied about that whatever they came up with was “my recipe.”

            3. Dust Bunny*

              It’s not completely self-made from scratch, though–it’s just tweaked from endless other peoples’ recipes.

              I’ll share any recipe I have, because none of it is completely original to me, anyway.

          2. Oui oui oui all the way home*

            Thank you so much for sharing this! I had wondered why someone wouldn’t tell their recipe, and this helps me to understand some reasons why.

          3. TX_trucker*

            This was beautifully written and illustrates many of my own thoughts. I will gladly share random internet recipes. But my own personal creations, stay with me and my family.

          4. MissElizaTudor*

            This sort of made me more confused? I don’t understand why you wouldn’t share the love letter with someone else who feels it conveys their emotions well and wants to use it to share their thoughts and feelings with a loved one. It would feel weird to do maybe, but why not help someone out? Like, it’s fine not to, and I suppose if you only have one copy and don’t want to take the time to type it up or re-write it that makes some sense, but if that’s easy and quick or if you already have it typed up and can easily share it, I don’t understand not sharing.

            It’s not the same thing to give the words to a coworker as it is to come up with them in the first place. How is giving them the already created letter an intimate act?

            OP shouldn’t repeatedly ask their coworker, though, because that’s much worse.

            1. Pippa K*

              Maybe look at it this way: is there anything you wouldn’t share with others for reasons of intimacy rather than property? That is, you wouldn’t withhold it because “it’s mine!” but because “it’s personal.” In the love letter example, much of the value of the words comes from having generated them, not just spoken them, so if someone else copies the same words, the copy wouldn’t have the same meaning, and it would make the first look seem a reproducible commodity, thus reducing its specialness. In cases where a recipe is like a love letter rather than an instruction manual, I can see why someone would not want to share it for use by others.

              LlamaDuck, this was such a good analogy – thanks for putting it this way!

              1. Anonymous for This*

                If I wrote something special for my partner that would be from me to him and only apply to the two of us.

                Unless I only make my cheesecake for my partner or maybe only for my family, how would a co-worker even know about it?

                In other words, who has an intimate relationship with a crecipe?

                1. Pippa K*

                  Plenty of people, judging from the many explanations of how a particular recipe connects them to their dearest family members, a special time or place in their lives, etc. Intimacy doesn’t just mean sexual or romantic intimacy.

              2. goddessoftransitory*

                I went Sci-Fi thinking about this, specifically Star Trek and its replication technology.

                Strictly speaking, things like, say, the Mona Lisa would be valueless in this version of the future because a replicator/transporter can make a identical-down-to-the-molecular level copy (that’s why everybody’s fine with transporting themselves and valuable technology and medicines and so on.) If I can make fifty Mona Lisas with my replicator, why would I care about seeing the real one?

                But wouldn’t that make the real one even more insanely valuable? Because it was the only one out of all of them that was created by de Vinci, the realest of the real things. Now, obviously a recipe isn’t the same as a priceless artwork, but the feeling behind it can be the same. Fifty chefs could make this recipe, but the actual recipe itself was dreamed up and fine tuned and came into the world because of me, and there’s only one real one.

            2. JSPA*

              compare when people take cover letter examples from this site, and use them as their own; it’s at minimum ridiculous and in poor taste. “yeah, same here” is fine when the topic is, “I like sausage pizza better than pepperoni” or “double dark chocolate over rocky road.” But, “hey, I love my spouse exactly like you love yours”– that’s pretty cringe-inducing, as is, “let me give her a passionate love letter that took time and thought and effort, except without taking any time or thought or effort.” (I mean…yuck.)

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                It’s got a proud history; works of fiction from the Anne of Green Gables books to the film Her feature people who copy proposals from etiquette books or write letters for people as a profession.

                1. The Shenanigans*

                  And in Anne the person proposed to do that way turned him down loudly and angrily, and was right to do so. I can see why people feel their personal recipes fall under that category. It’s not how I think it about, but its perfectly valid.

            3. Myrin*

              I think this is one of those things where if you – general you but also you, MissEliza – don’t already intrinsically understand it in some way, you won’t, period. And that’s not a bad thing – I’m very sure every single one of us has things like that, and very often these things balance out over a bigger group. But it can lead to situations like in this OP because people are wired differently and neither side understands why the other is [complete opposite].

              1. The Shenanigans*

                Yep, it’s not bad to not completely understand everything about everyone. Because you (general you here) don’t actually HAVE to understand the why of someone’s request to respect the what of that request.

                The OP doesn’t have to understand why the coworker won’t share his recipe. They do have to respect it and stop hassling him about it. Part of that respect is to not let this interaction color your opinion and working relationship, too. So OP, reframe this however you need in order to do that, and move on.

          5. The Shenanigans*

            Thank you for explaining, I’d never thought of it that way. I appreciate the new perspective :).

          6. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

            This is the BEST response, and so perfectly on point.

            Thank you, LlamaDuck!

        3. NaoNao*

          My mother has a recipe for Pecan Ring, a holiday treat my sister and I both make. It annoys her no end when she or I explain or note that we doubled the filling, added X ingredient, or doubled/halved something or otherwise adjusted it. She feels almost personally affronted even though she got the original recipe from like…America’s Best or Heloise or something!

          Maybe that’s it. If you share “oh, I put a dash of X, that’s what makes it” cue the “Oh, I’m allergic” or “oh, that’s pricey!” or the “I tried it your way and it was terrible!” etc etc.

          Better to just avoid the Amateur Chef train altogether for some I think.

    3. FavoRITA*

      Yes, you’re being irrationally annoyed. It’s a secret he doesn’t want to share.

        1. Myrin*

          And yet it’s something that’s not particularly uncommon! I think “irrational” is way too strong of a descriptor, although I get what you mean. But in the end, he doesn’t want to share the recipe, and he doesn’t have to, and it’s not a moral or social or what-have-you failure to not do it.

        2. FavoRITA*

          meh there are tons of famous “secret recipes” i.e. for chicken, pop, sauce etc. And there are dupes that exist that just aren’t quite as good or sometimes some people think the dupes are better. If you can’t get the recipe, try making something similar yourself. Whatever his reason for not sharing is valid imo, and it’s strange to me to be annoyed at someone not sharing something with you that has no impact on your life, work, etc. Seems like a response to him not sharing would be a “Ah, ok. Just had to ask because it’s so good!” Then move on.

          1. Soda*

            “Whatever his reason for not sharing is valid imo, and it’s strange to me to be annoyed at someone not sharing something with you that has no impact on your life, work, etc.”
            It’s annoying because it means you may never have another taste of that food again. It’s like having a song stuck in your head but not being able to remember the lyrics. Honestly, it seems to me that secret recipe owners finds some pleasure in frustrating people like that. Why would you want to share a joy with someone and then deliberately ensure they can never experience it again?
            Not only that, but you’re ensuring that after you and the handful of people you maybe have shared it with die, no one else on Earth will be able to experience it. Recipes aren’t like secret fishing spots; they aren’t destroyed by lots of people knowing about them. Losing a great recipe is like losing a historical artifact, and it makes sense to be saddened and annoyed by that.

            1. The Shenanigans*

              You’re making a lot of assumptions here. Interesting that you think its just because of wanting to frustrate people when you have a lot of good responses here indicating that is not always (usually?) the case.

              Who said you’d never eat it again? They could bring it to work for years.

              You could also do some investigating and try different recipes yourself and see if you can recreate it. Then go back to him and make conversation about it eg “So I tried to recreate that magic dish you made. It’s hard! I tried x and y and z, and found that the flavor I really liked in yours is XZ. Thanks for sharing your magic dish. I never would have thought to explore cooking like this before!” or whatever. Like, use it to connect rather than fume.

              Also, none of us owe the world anything of ours. Not everything is communal. Millions of pieces of information get lost to history every second. Are you upset about all of those? What makes a recipe different to you than, say, the journals I burned when I was teenager?

              And, in the end, you aren’t owed an explanation. You don’t have to understand why someone sets a boundary. You just have to respect it.

        3. Gingerbread Stallion*

          And it’s fine to be irrational. He could have perfectly rational reasons, of course – maybe it’s a family recipe he was only told if he swore not to share it, or maybe he spent years developing and perfecting this recipe and doesn’t want to just give it away to any entitled random who asks. Maybe he’s planning to publish it eventually. Maybe it’s just a random recipe from the side of a packet and he doesn’t want to admit that. It doesn’t actually matter.

          But regardless, it’s rude and ignorant to keep pestering someone to do something they don’t want to do. You’re not entitled to it just because you want it. You need to stop asking and respect his boundary. You seem really unpleasantly judgemental of this guy and that’s probably coming across to him too.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              Nah, the second paragraph is right on target. Too much more of this from NR towards Cheesecake Guy and NR will end up on the receiving end of a “no is a complete sentence.”

            2. NeutralJanet*

              Nah, NR is both 1) being rude and 2) asking if they’re in the right or not, so it’s honestly probably kind to say that they’re in the wrong.

            3. Cliopher Mdang*

              No, it’s not unkind, it’s literally just a restatement of the tenets of Ask Culture. Much of this blog is dedicated to promoting Ask Culture in the workplace (workplaces are multicultural, thus there is less shared context, therefore Ask Culture), so I’m confused that someone would be arguing against it.

              Look at it from the coworker’s perspective: an ask is just an ask and it’s OK to say no. No is a complete sentence.

            4. Coconutty*

              It is not unkind to let someone know that they’re being rude. In fact, if they really don’t know or aren’t sure, then it’s kinder to tell them than let the behavior continue unchecked.

          1. Blue wall*

            I actually thought that the second paragraph got to the point in a clear, straightforward manner. It’s not unkind, it’s clear.

          2. PhyllisB*

            This response reminds me of something that happened not long after my husband and I were married. I asked him if there was something his mother made that he really loved and would like for me to learn. He mentioned that she made a cheesecake that he loved. I said okay, I’ll ask her next time we see her.
            The next Sunday we visited and as we were leaving I mentioned the cheesecake and asked if she would mind giving me the recipe when she had time.
            She looked straight at me and said, ” Honey, it’s real hard. Buy a box of Royal cheesecake mix ( a brand no longer made) and follow the directions on the box.” My husband was devastated.

            1. Alice Ulf*

              Haaa, this is my mom’s fabulous pumpkin pie. Right off the Libby’s can (the secret ingredient is love?).

              1. ampersand*

                It took me years to realize that’s why these recipes are on the backs of cans and boxes–they’re delicious!

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  I mean, they should be! They were professionally developed by the companies to showcase their product; they aren’t going to print labels for “really kinda meh boring-ass pumpkin pie,” I would guess.

                  I was snobby for years about the recipes on packaging, but they are absolutely no different from the ones in fancy cookbooks when you think about it.

            2. DawnShadow*

              I’m confused! Was she being sarcastic about it being hard because her “secret recipe” is the Royal cheesecake mix brand, or was she saying “it’s too hard for you to make so don’t even try, just buy a mix at the store.” I could see the first being said warmly and you share a laugh, but the latter just seems really cold and cruel towards you!

              1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                She was saying, “It’s hard because the main ingredient (the boxed mix) is no longer in production.” So, it’s kinda impossible to make now, since the box mix isn’t available anymore.

                Whether that was mean-sarcastic or funny-sarcastic depends on thr family.

              2. PhyllisB*

                No No!! She wasn’t being mean or sarcastic, she was just telling me the truth. It’s a mix!! I follow the directions on the box!!!
                The mix is no longer made, but at this time it was very popular. I only mentioned It’s no longer made in case someone asked me what it was or where to buy it. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Hubby was devastated, She and I were cracking up. (He got so mad at both of us. He thought we were making fun of him.)

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  Sooooo many people remember “mom/grandma’s special Thing” and it turns out it was a packaged mix all along!

                  Laura Shapiro has written a lot about this topic. Her book Something from the Oven: Cooking in 1950s America is absolutely fascinating and covers everything from company strategies for marketing to the Pillsbury Bake-Off in the story of modern cooking and recipe development.

              1. PhyllisB*

                You’re going to have to tell me who Marie Barone is.
                She was a wonderful MIL and I really loved her. Sadly she passed away only a year after we married.

                1. Dovasary Balitang*

                  Marie Barone was the grandmother on Everybody Loves Raymond. (Admittedly I have no idea if the main couple had kids or not.)

                2. Rick T*

                  Marie was Ray’s mother, specifically, on Everybody Loves Raymond. Ray and Debra did have kids but they weren’t the focus of the show.

            3. Constance Lloyd*

              People rave about my mom’s lemon bars. She uses the Krusteaz box mix and replaces the water with bottled lemon juice. She does tell anybody who asks, but I don’t fault people for not sharing!

              1. Arts Akimbo*

                Oh, that sounds amazing, and what a brilliantly simple hack for getting the proper tartness! Thanks for sharing.

              2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                … Now I want to try it with half lemon, half lime juice, and see if I get lemon-lime bars.

                1. Constance Lloyd*

                  Ohhh this sounds amazing. Grapefruit juice would probably be nice, too…

        4. Irish Teacher*

          To be fair, people are entitled to be irrational (assuming it is; for all we know, he may have a good reason). Nobody has any obligation to share information (that isn’t part of their job or that they are otherwise required to share) with others. Just the fact that he doesn’t feel like telling people really is reason enough. He doesn’t have to justify it.

          I can see that it could be annoying if somebody really wanted to make it and they can’t because he won’t tell them, but lots of things are annoying. It doesn’t mean the person doing them is necessarily doing anything wrong.

          1. Anne the Pug Lover*

            +1 If he doesn’t want to share, so be it. I think the OP is being unreasonable. Just move on. People not sharing recipes is a thing. Let it go, OP.

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          Getting to have our own molehills to die on is part of being human. My molehill doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else, so long as my stubbornness on this point isn’t harming anyone else.

        6. Observer*

          Eh, I think it’s irrational to have secret recipes.

          No argument. But that doesn’t cancel out that the OP’s annoyance (and apparently badgering) is also completely irrational. People get to have quirks. And as much as I like a good cheesecake, ultimately it’s not a truly consequential piece of information. Getting bent out of shape about it (based completely on what the OP says) is every bit as irrational, and their behavior is more problematic, unless they really do let it drop.

        7. beware the shoebill*

          People are rarely completely rational, especially when it comes to feelings. While rationality has its place certainly, getting rid of everything that’s not rational in this world would make it a very boring place.

    4. pineapplepants crazy*

      Hmm. I share recipes when asked, but it will never turn out as I make it. My issue is : I share the recipe as I have it written down, which can be actually substantially different from how I make it (like a significant difference on up to 50% of the ingredients). I don’t want to do the work of transcribing what I do, especially if some is by “feel”. Anyway, you need to figure out what style of cheesecake it is and get baking. Then, share the recipe with us. :)

      1. CityMouse*

        It’s also hard to convey certain steps. Like when I’m making cobbler one of the steps is “add milk a little at a time until the consistency looks right”. I can’t actually give an exact measurement for that because it just depends on the day and how well the butter and flour are mixed. This deeply frustrated a friend I transcribed the recipe for.

        1. On Fire*

          My grandmother used to make delicious yeast rolls for family gatherings. A cousin asked for the recipe, and grandma offered to teach her to make it. Cousin came away bewildered. “She doesn’t measure anything. Just shakes in some of this, puts in a handful of that, and says, ‘yes, that’s about right.’”
          But it was something grandma brought down from family and years of experience. I don’t know if it was her own created recipe, but I’ve never had rolls like hers, so it died with her.

          I don’t mind sharing most recipes, but like someone mentioned above, they won’t turn out the same because I change things up. And I sell jellies, some of which are my own developments, so I wouldn’t share those recipes.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            A lot of older people seem to have grown up measuring like that. “How do you make biscuits, Granny?”

            “Well, you start with a handful of flour.”

            “How much?”

            “A handful.”

            It used to frustrate me so much when I was learning to cook! But recently I learned from some celebrity chef that you can actually make some fairly accurate measurements by knowing the size of your own hand! Maybe not accurate enough for baking, but accurate enough for cooking.

            I learned that the little divot in my cupped palm holds about a teaspoon! My natural handful is about half a cup, though I can grab a cup if I try. I think of my Granny with love every time.

          2. Spero*

            My grandpa did this so what I did was watch his recipe once and write down all the steps, with his ‘handful’ and ‘scooch’ measurements. Then I made it with him again and after he ‘handfulled’ he dropped it in a dish and I measured it, we did it twice that way. Both very close amounts actually! And then we split the difference and that became the measured amount for the recipe. There are a few recipes I only ever did the first part with, and honestly they’re still pretty close to what he made! I just made them myself after he passed and measured what I was putting in then if it was too much or too little. The actual flow part of putting it together and a rough ingredient list is enough to reconstruct most.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          I know what you mean. I developed a cookie recipe, and the amount of liquid changed. I didn’t change anything in the recipe, but now it needs less liquid. It seems to depend on weather and location, as I moved to a different neighborhood.

      2. Snarky McSnarkerson*

        I call these “mother-in-law recipes.” They will never taste the same because there’s something not conveyed by the cook (maliciously or innocently).

        1. ReallyBadPerson*

          Yes. And for people who really enjoy cooking, it is frustrating to convey a recipe to someone who needs highly specific instructions.

          1. Alexander Graham Yell*

            I once tried to share punch recipe and was like “Okay, it’s 5 glugs of beverage X, 7 glugs of beverage Y…” and had to explain I don’t measure it, I just go by how many times the bottle makes that “glug” sound when the air comes into it, and what size I usually buy to make sure the glugs were about right.

            As somebody who loved the precision of baking, she did not enjoy trying to use my recipe.

            1. Margaret Cavendish*

              This is me. I’m always the one going OKAY BUT HOW MUCH IS A GLUG EXACTLY?

              I appreciate the love and labour that goes into recipes like that, but I absolutely cannot follow them myself. So I don’t even try any more, I just enjoy the offerings from people who know what they’re doing!

          2. PhyllisB*

            Yep. When my son was in college he called home asking me how I make potato salad it took 10 phone calls. ( Thank goodness for cell phones!!) It was deemed a success and his fraternity said he was in charge of potato salad forevermore…but he never made it again LOL!!
            When one of my daughters wanted to make it, I told her to come in the kitchen and watch me. She nailed it.

            1. PhyllisB*

              One more recipe story and I’ll quit. Same daughter called asking how to make cornbread. I was in a van full of women heading to an event out of town so I was trying to remember off the top of my head. I later asked her how it turned out and she said she couldn’t get it out of the pan so it was crumbs. I asked her did she grease her pan. Silence. Then she said, “you didn’t tell me to!!”

      3. BethDH*

        This is mine. I can share if it’s only a little adapted from a published recipe, but if you ask me most of the time you’re going to get a lot of measurements based on my hand, my oven, my pans and how they conduct heat.
        Well-written conventional published recipes are designed to accommodate a wide range of ovens and pans, and to provide lots of cues for assessing doneness (like cooking till brown on edges and wobbly in the middle). My personal recipes have not and writing this all out — even if I could — would be a pain and reserved for someone very close to me.

      4. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, mine don’t necessarily vary that much, but I can write you down a recipe that is my outline – it’s not necessarily what I actually made. It’s not malicious! And technique can matter too. I’m generally glad to share but my recipes taste the way they do because I made them.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          I have a recipe that I wrote down as “Grandma’s linzer torte.” When I asked her for the recipe, she said she couldn’t give it to me — not wouldn’t but couldn’t, as in, didn’t have it written down anywhere.

          So I asked if I could come over, help her bake one, and take notes. I did, and that worked, and now we’re trying to figure out how to make the linzer torte in the not-very-good oven in my current apartment, and with slightly different ingredients. (Walnut flour isn’t an acceptable substitute for the ground walnuts.)

          This is the opposite of a family secret recipe–I’m delighted to show off what my grandmother taught me–but it has the same sense of connection.

          1. Grandma Mazur*

            If you wouldn’t mind sharing the Linzertorte recipe here sometime, I’d be very grateful! (It was a staple of my early childhood but my mum died when I was 8 and now we only get it from bakeries when on holiday)

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        That’s my spaghetti sauce. The original recipe is from How To Cook Everything, but I’ve tinkered with it enough so that if you made the straight from the book sauce, it would be substantially different from mine. (Secret ingredients are lavish cream and ginger.)

    5. Jasmine Tea*

      A friend used to ask me for some of my dessert recipes. I was happy to share them. However, when she made them, she cut the sugar in half and instead of using butter used oil. She also use a larger pan than recommended so that she could “make more”. The result was thin overcooked brownies with no flavor! When she serve them to friends, she would tell them it was my recipe. (Cringe!!) That made me feel like I didn’t want to share any more recipes with her!

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Haha I hate that! It’s like online recipes where the comments go ‘I substituted the butter for olive oil and only used a third of the amount of sugar, and made it GF by replacing the flour with almond meal, and left out the vanilla’ – maybe just find a different recipe?!

        1. Decidedly Me*

          It’s even worse when they downvote the recipe at the same time.

          Or, “I hate onions and this has a lot of onions, but I thought I’d try it anyway and I didn’t like the onion taste – 1 star”

        2. Indolent Libertine*

          You forgot the part where, after they say “I used A instead of B, and C instead of D, and left out E altogether, and cooked it on the stovetop instead of in the oven, and for 3 hours longer than the recipe said to, and it was terrible and I didn’t like it at all”, they conclude with “Therefore This Is A Bad Recipe!” I desire to throw many things when I see those.

          1. Despachito*

            There is a joke about that.

            A poor person gets invited into a rich person’s home, gets a wonderful cake, asks for recipe.

            Comes home, asks his wife to make this delicious recipe. S he goes like: what? five eggs? are you out of your mind? one will do. Three pounds of white flour? Forget it, one pound of harsh flour is more than enough. Bake it in an oven on oak logs? Are you crazy? I will bake it on embers just like any other food I make.

            They then taste the result and the wife sentences: I really don’t know what the rich people see in this.

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            Those comments are why I read recipe comments on most sites (King Arthur is the exception – those comments are useful especially because the staff engages and offer suggestions). The NYT Cooking comments are my fave – some are really helpful and interesting and some are just amusing. Except the ones on dessert recipes that say “This has TOO MUCH SUGAR.” It’s dessert, dude.

            1. londonedit*

              The comments on the Guardian’s (left-leaning UK newspaper) recipes are hilarious. They’re inevitably a mix of ‘Too complicated! How do you expect people who don’t live in that awful London place to get ingredients like this???’, ‘A recipe like this when people are relying on food banks to feed their families?? Shameful’, ‘Do you know how much fat/salt/sugar is in this???’ and ‘Well I live in France/Spain/Italy and no one would EVER cook something like this, we all go to the local market and buy fresh seasonal vegetables for pennies and then come home and simply steam them and serve with excellent local olive oil which we also buy for practically nothing. This is everything that is wrong with British food today and why I will never return to that awful little country’. Doesn’t matter what the recipe is, it’s always the same!

              1. bamcheeks*

                I still remember a comment from someone who was just disgusted and baffled that anyone would use TINNED tomatoes, and it turned out he lived in Southern California and had not realised that there were people in the world who did not have markets full of sixteen different types of tomato all of which were picked in the last three days.

                1. Texan In Exile*

                  I was in New Jersey for work. A co-worker from California was disgusted at the pizza – “These mushrooms are CANNED!” she said.

                  I had never had a fresh mushroom in my life. Ever. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

                  I grew up on military bases abroad. My mom – who grew up on a farm and knew about fresh veg – shopped at the commissary, where she bought what they had, which was – canned stuff. I guess she could have gone off base to the local markets, but we had only one car, she didn’t speak Spanish, she had three little kids to deal with, etc, etc, etc.

                  Anyhow – it wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I discovered that mushrooms (and spinach and zucchini and tomatoes) could taste delicious. Fresh veg are completely different from canned.

                2. Snell*

                  @Texan

                  In fairness to you and everyone you mentioned in your comment, canned mushrooms are pretty horrid. They’re the reason as a child I thought I hated all mushrooms. Child-me never had any problems with any fruit or vegetable, but canned fungus put me off all fungus. Like you, I had that realization when I was grown that mushrooms can be delicious, just choose the delicious mushrooms!

              1. Clisby*

                Sometimes leaving out some of the sugar helps. My first try at homemade apple pie was using a Betty Crocker recipe that called for 1 cup of sugar. I was an experienced enough cook to know that was a crazy amount, and cut it in half. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been with twice the amount. My now husband is of the same mind, and when we make apple pie we use only 1/4 cup of sugar. Cooked apples are awfully sweet on their own.

                1. JLR*

                  Oh, my goodness, yes! This! The amount of sugar called for in some fruit pie recipes is ridiculous. I make a 10″ deep dish blueberry pie and only put in 1/4 cup. It doesn’t need any more than that.

                  I also just bake fruit plain in a baking dish (blueberries, blackberries, peaches, etc.) and use it as a topping for cake or yogurt and don’t add any sugar at all. It’s perfect just the way it is.

                2. aussie teacher*

                  When I had kids my mum gave me the recipe book she’d used to bake lots of our childhood treats. Nothing tasted quite right. Finally, I asked her and she told me she always halved the sugar in all of the recipes. I tried it and it worked.

                3. Kim Kitsuragi*

                  Every time I make an American recipe I halve the sugar and it turns out great. I can’t imagine making fruit pies with a cup of sugar!

          3. Chauncy Gardener*

            Or my friend who asked for my recipes, I gave them to her (a ton of them), yet every time I make something she wants the recipe. I’m like ” YOU HAVE IT ALREADY. JUST COOK”

            1. The OG Sleepless*

              I have a friend whom I swear I have talked through making biscuits three different times, including a series of photos from when I was making them. I still don’t understand what is so hard about it.

          4. PhyllisB*

            You took the words out of my mouth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared a recipe and had someone come back and tell me they didn’t care for it or that it didn’t turn out. After questioning them I discover they added this or took that out. of course it wasn’t good!! You changed the whole dadgum recipe!!

          5. Elitist Semicolon*

            There’s an excellent parody of this tendency at the much beloved and now-defunct the-toast dot net called “All The Comments on Every Recipe Blog.” The Yahtzee dice one is my favorite.

        3. GraceC*

          The ididnthaveeggs subreddit is full of these, and it’s equal parts frustrating and hilarious

        4. Waiting on the bus*

          Those comments are actually really helpful to me! I often need ideas and rough measurements rather than strict recipes, especially for American recipes as I’m not in the US and have to substitute half of the incredients anyway since they aren’t available here.

          Seeing what people substituted and how is very helpful! It’s when they substitute stuff and then downvote the recipe because it turned out different than expected is when it’s annoying. You can’t change the recipe and then complain that the recipe doesn’t work.

      2. curly sue*

        THIS is why I will share finished product but not recipes anymore, except with very select people. I once gave a friend and her mother my family challah recipe
        – they substituted whole wheat flour for the white flour and then told me challah wasn’t good bread because it turned out so heavy.

        The effort it took not to scream…

        1. Observer*

          People who do stuff like this should not be doing anything but the *most basic* cooking and baking, and learn to only follow recipes. Because they have zero clue of how a lot of this stuff works.

          You CAN make fairly light and fluffy whole grain bread / challah. But you either need to use spelt (which tends to be much lighter and rises better in whole grain form) and adjust the liquid amounts. Or you need more yeast and sugar, which ooops.

          PS even with the fact that whole spelt rises pretty nicely, I still use white flour for my Shabbos Challah. You can definitely tell the difference.

      3. LilPinkSock*

        My sister does that. She’s butchered my recipes and then told her friends “This is from LilPinkSock”…so now they all think I’m a bad cook and hate me.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        This is not the first–or even the seventh–time I have heard of someone asking for a recipe, making major changes that would affect the flavor, and then while serving loudly blaming the original recipe provider for any faults.

        We are a weird species.

        1. Waiting on the bus*

          Which just makes me wonder who serves dishes to people they’ve never tried to cook before?! The anxiety of something going wrong with an unknown recipe alone would ensure that I definitely screw up some step in the recipe.

          1. ReallyBadPerson*

            Me. I do. I like living on the edge, what can I say? But I’m also an experienced cook with a 98-99% edibility rating, according to my husband. So I cook untried recipes and bravely serve them forth!

            1. Waiting on the bus*

              You’re a braver person than I am. I like to think everything I make is usually edible as well but when cooking for others I need the security of having successfully executed the various steps at least once. I didn’t realise my risk aversion extended to cooking as well!

            2. Chilipepper Attitude*

              I do too. Idk if my edibility rating is that high but I can look at a recipe and tell if I can do it well and if I will like it and if I can sub most things.

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            I do this. Usually recipes aren’t full unknown-I’ve never made chocolate orange bread before, but I’ve made a ton of banana bread, which is very similar. Also, the recipe has reasonable amounts of all the ingredients, and the reviews are good. I can confidently say the recipe will be decent, though maybe not amazing.

            And for stovetop recipes, you can taste and adjust as you go.

        2. Chestnut Mare*

          This is my MIL. She didn’t like cooking but I think she got a little jealous when things I made were praised, so she’d ask for the recipe. Except she had a very limited palate, didn’t own many specialized kitchen implements like a stand mixer or a food processor, and lived in a rural area where uncommon ingredients weren’t readily available. So she’d modify the recipe and get mad when it didn’t taste like mine. She’d sort of passive-aggressively jokingly accuse me of not giving her the actual recipe and no amount of explanation on my part could convince her otherwise.

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        Arrrgh! The classic; the online version is the person who writes in “I made your Walnut Brownie cake but I’m allergic to walnuts so I left those out and we’re on a diet so I halved the sugar and used water instead of oil and margarine instead of butter and salt’s bad for you so I left it out and it was TERRIBLE!”

      1. Generic Name*

        I’m betting it’s the recipe from the cream cheese box. Like that friends episode where phoebe’s dead grandma’s secret cookie recipe was from the chocolate chip bag.

      2. eeeek*

        LOL. People do commit to the lie.
        I had a coworker whose *celebrated* potluck dessert was a many berry cobblery mashy dish that was, in truth, from the bakery of the little hippy grocery store in the small town where she lived. She never brought it when the key berries weren’t in season (even if it was available at the store). She always brought it in her grandma’s casserole dish, with an apology that it “shifted” during transport and came away from the sides of the dish. Of course she was devastated when the owners and recipes changed. She came clean when the dish that used to have people begging for the recipe didn’t get much notice any more. She didn’t want anyone to think her skills had faded.
        Humans are weird.

      3. Waiting on the bus*

        That’s what I assume when people are being secretive about recipes, NGL. Also “secret incredients” – I assume it’s something ready-made and people just don’t want to admit it.

        There’s a difference between people not sharing at all vs giving exact recipes. Like someone mentioned above,some recipes are basically just “do it by feel” and that’s valid. I had a colleague who made the best chocolate cookies but she did it completely by feel, so when asked she could just tell you the ingredients but not any measurements.

        Someone upthread mentioned having promised someone else not to share the recipe as a reason and if that’s the case: mad props to them.

        1. Rainy*

          I’m happy to share my recipes, but I find that people almost never actually make them, because when they find out what’s involved they’re suddenly no longer interested.

          I once had a coworker ask for my stuffing recipe and it starts “2 days before you plan to assemble the stuffing, make the cornbread” and they were like “…what?”

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Yep; one mention of “staling” usually separates the sheep from the goats.

      4. Texan In Exile*

        That’s how I met one of my best friends! We met at a college alumni potluck where she had brought hummus. It was delicious and I asked her for the recipe. She told me it was a family secret from Israel, where her dad is from.

        A few hours later, she said to me, “I can tell we are going to be friends forever, so I can’t live this lie. This is actually hummus from the store and I just add my own spices.”

        My Cuban friend, though, has yet to share her rum cake recipe, even though we have been friends for decades. She says the Bacardis gave it to her mom, who gave it to her. (But the Bacardi rum cake recipe is online, so I can make it just fine. :) )

        1. Kim Kitsuragi*

          Bacardi isn’t owned by the people who made it originally in Cuba. Maybe the rum cake recipe is different too, who knows…

    6. Roland*

      I also do not understand this! I know it’s common but I don’t Get It. There’s a food from my culture where tbh, the version I make is the best I’ve ever had. I love when people ask me for the recipe, what a compliment. I actually only learned that “secret family recipe” was a real life thing and not just a pop culture thing because a coworker asked me for the recipe but only if it’s not a family secret, with no hint of irony.

    7. Despachito*

      We have a recipe that has been handed down as the “secret family recipe”. I’d feel a psychological barreer to give it to someone else.

      Re your coworker – I understand you are irked but I think it is misplaced. He does not owe it to you or to anybody else. Enjoy his cake because even this is a treat he does not have to make.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          *raises hand* You can bring every delicious family recipe to a potluck I attend.

          1. LilPinkSock*

            It absolutely does not. What an odd comment! (The one you’re responding to, that is.)

        2. Despachito*

          Why?

          Does the fact that he is kind enough to make this delicious treat and to share it with his coworker somehow open him up to some more liabilities, even those he does not want to do?

    8. Samwise*

      Drop it already, you are likely past the point of making him dislike you.

      It doesn’t matter why he doesn’t want to share it. Just because you want it doesn’t obligate him to give it to you.

      I freely share recipes, but if you kept nagging me even I would just never give it to you.

    9. LadyAmalthea*

      I am physically incapable of following a recipe or measuring anything as I cook. I can share recipes but they all have extensive caveats about how things adjust to taste, and it’s by sight and I can’t tell you exactly and it gets to be a pain in the butt to try and write down something that someone could follow that would give at all similar results.

    10. MassChick*

      Hmmm.. does he say why he won’t share?

      There are some recipes I don’t share, mostly because I can’t! I’ve developed some baking techniques and each batch is “eyeballed” and tweaked. I don’t want to share the techniques yet because I have daydreams of using them in an entrepreneurial venture (so I consider them proprietary). I mostly direct people to a similar, good online recipe which has helped me develop my version.

      But if someone asks for the recipe of a regular and nutritious dish that is a lunch/dinner staple (not a baked treat), I’m happy to share with the caveat that I can give then an outline but not a step by step recipe.

    11. Heather*

      Sometimes it is because the recipe is so easy and they want to keep that a secret! Honestly, try the top three posted recipes on the internet, one of them is likely the right one. 50% chance it so just the standard Philadelphia Cream Cheese Recipe. :)

    12. Teaching teacher*

      I read like ten responses to this post with interest, also wondering why and considering that perhaps this is a bakery cheesecake that your coworker is taking credit for, before I realized that I totally have a recipe that I will never share too. I have a friend who sells this unusual food item at farmer’s markets. She was very very nice to share it with me when she was first getting started because it’s super expensive to buy from her. If I shared the recipe with you, there is literally no reason why you couldn’t post it online, or tell your sister, who posts it online. She invented the recipe, she has a business selling the product, and I’ve considered what I did share it and she decided to expand her business just to find out everyone can make it themselves and don’t need her.

      1. Lizard the Second*

        This.

        Once you share a recipe with someone else, you lose control over anything they choose to do with it. It’s a big risk.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        I don’t think he’s obligated to share for whatever reason, but I think the feeling that it’s arbitrary to withhold the recipe is what’s really annoying. So if the coworker said, “Actually I have a friend who sells this, it’s proprietary,” a reasonable LW is going to understand that.

    13. Squidhead*

      Yes, you need to let this go. He declined to share and now it sounds like you’re verging on badgering him. He might just stop bringing it in if you make it a whole Thing.

      Lots of possible reasons listed, but here are two more:
      1) He doesn’t want to hear about the ingredients. “I can’t believe it has xxx in it! That’s like a heart attack on a plate!” Okay no one said cheesecake was health food, don’t eat it if you don’t want to. Or “I made it but the crust came out weird, what kind of graham crackers do you buy? Oh, that brand is so expensive! They only sell it at the store across town from me, would you get some for next time? ” etc…

      2) He doesn’t want to become the SME for cheesecake, this one or any other. “Do you think your recipe would work with strawberries instead of chocolate chips?” Um, maybe? That’s a huge change and I’ve never made it that way and I think you’d have to do xyz to reduce the moisture? “I tried your suggestion and it came out terrible!” Or: “What can I use to make your cheesecake gluten-free? Please do all the work to tell me how to do this” and he’s like “I am not a baking expert I am just good at this one particular thing!” My dad used to do this with a family recipe that my late mom made and I made but he’d never made. He would call and say “what if I switched out x and y and doubled z but put in half of q?” “it came out too hard/flaky/soft what did I do wrong??” and every time I was like “I only know one way to make this. I’m not interested in finding other ways to make it. I don’t know what you did wrong because I’ve never put those ingredients together before!” and it became the most tedious repeated conversation. (I say that lovingly, but dang!)

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Hahaha omg, I need an official cheesecake SME. I have so many questions (that I generally take to the comment section of blogs that post cheesecake recipes).

    14. Christmas cookie*

      Maybe it’s personal, maybe it’s just like, store bought cheesecake! That’s why my aunt never gave away her recipes. Nobody cared about store bought goods but she went to great lengths to pretend hers was homemade. Left the plastic on once though :).

    15. UKLu*

      I wonder if he doesn’t really make it himself, so doesn’t actually know the recipe because he buys it in?!

    16. My Brain is Exploding*

      I know someone who did this. Our spouses were military. It was her go-to for potlucks, etc. and she was well-known for it. She had been burned, I think, giving the recipe to someone else who then brought it to an event. So her rule was that you could have the recipe if you were moving away or if she was moving away. There’s a recipe I have that I don’t like to share because it’s embarassingly easy AND it uses boxed cake mix as a base.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ha! This may be part of it. There could be something in there like lard that people judge him for, or it could be something like a can or box of something that would ‘spoil’ the surprise. We have an “old family recipe” like that (from the 50s) – two cans and a box, mixed with a stick of butter hahah.

      2. Jshaden*

        This – you may say you won’t bring your version to work, but my cousin was burned once before by someone saying “I won’t bring it to (holiday/event/etc.)” and then that person doing so, so she will only share recipes with family or friends that DON’T attend the event she usually brings it to. Even if it is a recipe that’s easy to find online.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          This happened to my mother, only she and my aunt (to whom she’d given the recipe) both showed up to the same family party with it and hers was FAR better and my aunt was ticked off that no one ate hers because after all, it’s the exact same thing. Except my mother stuck to the recipe and my aunt went off the rails, so no, not at all the same.

    17. I should really pick a name*

      Nothing wrong with being annoyed, but they don’t owe you the recipe, and continuing to ask after they’ve said no isn’t great.

    18. LilPinkSock*

      You’re being irrationally annoyed. Your coworker doesn’t want to share, no one is entitled to their recipes, just enjoy the occasional amazing treat, and move on. Or better yet, get in the kitchen and develop your own “signature” treat!

    19. allathian*

      I don’t get it either.

      But that doesn’t mean you can keep pestering him about it, just enjoy the cheesecake if and when he brings it in again.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I would probably also be a little bit annoyed, but keep it to myself. Like, internal eyeroll and possibly complain about it once to my boyfriend.
        People have all kinds of weird quirks I don’t get – might make me think they’re a little strange, but doesn’t give me the right to keep pestering them.

    20. GoryDetails*

      The whole “secret recipe” thing reminded me of the running “Lobster à la Riseholme” wars in E. F. Benson’s “Mapp and Lucia” books; in that case, one wanted to keep the recipe secret so that she could be the only one to serve it to their group of friends, and the other wanted – increasingly desperately – to acquire it so that she could one-up her rival. The jealousy/rivalry motives weren’t very nice, of course, but it did make for some hilarious scenes in the novels!

    21. Mandy*

      I once did free babysitting for a woman so I could get her famous secret pie crust recipe. Worth it.

    22. Falling Diphthong*

      Asking once was fine; when he said ‘no’ you needed to drop it. Not beg and plead.

      At this point your weird quirk of not taking no for an answer is outdoing his weird quirk of not wanting to share a recipe.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        As an alternative, you could try asking them to make one for you, paying for the ingredients and their time. Not everyone is open to that but could be worth a try.

    23. Anonymous 75*

      Yes you’re being irrational about this. Does it suck they won’t give you the recipe? Sure. But there could be an infinite number of reasons he won’t share it: maybe it’s an old family recipe he swore never to share, maybe he created or himself with some weird ingredients that he doesn’t want people to know about, maybe he buys it from some little old lady two towns over and pretend it’s his, maybe he’s running an underground cheesecake making sweatshop and hasn’t paid taxes on it, maybe he’s just a jerk, maybe he just doesn’t like you….. who knows.

      Regardless of the reasons, no is a complete sentence and you need to accept it.

    24. FashionablyEvil*

      The best cheesecake recipe is Dorie Greenspan’s.

      (I think people who refuse to share recipes are being a bit precious, but whatever. You do you and I’ll just mentally file you away as “person who does not want there to be more joy and deliciousness in the world.”)

    25. RussianInTexas*

      I, for one, when find a recipe I love, tell EVERYONE. Send links with notes even.

    26. Food is Love*

      I love sharing recipes with others. I invented a healthy savory breakfast muffin that I shared with many people. I found this cheesecake recipe, because my granddaughter, Ruby, wanted me to teach her how to make one. Mine had never turned out right. I used this recipe, but the secret is to read all of her instructions. It’s amazing!
      https://sugarspunrun.com/best-cheesecake-recipe/

    27. Rachel*

      From my perspective: usually people are really good at making something specific because they made it so many times they can tell by look/feel what technique or ingredients need to be added or subtracted.

      He probably can’t explain how to make the cheesecake and if he just handed down the written recipe, yours wouldn’t turn out like his. And you would be mad.

    28. Once too Often*

      Please don’t be annoyed.
      I have a recipe I won’t share.
      I’m not much of a cook, & this recipe gets raves every time I prepare it. So I keep it confidential, to always have something wonderful to bring, knowing no one else there will have also brought it. My agreement with a good friend is that if one of us moves far away, she can ask for it.

    29. NeutralJanet*

      I just about always give away recipes, but if someone was acting super entitled about it, I wouldn’t give them a recipe.

    30. Nancy*

      Yes you are being irrational. It’s his and he doesn’t want to give it to you. He doesn’t have to and the reason doesn’t matter. Constantly asking is just going to annoy him, so stop.

    31. Rose*

      I sometimes make baking for my coworkers, and I am hesitant to give out recipes for a two reasons. First is often the amount of money I put into these recipes makes people uncomfortable. Second, and this does feel silly to me, I spend a lot of time creating recipes and I feel a little protective over them. What if they make it badly and claim I told them how? (thats what I went to school for so people have expectations)

    32. Observer*

      Please tell me if I’m being irrationally annoyed by this or not

      The answer is absolutely yes. Sure, secret recipes are generally stupid. But so what? This level of angst over cheese cake is also a bit much.

    33. Recently Retired*

      I had a coworker who’s cheesecake was absolutely fabulous and discovered that he and his wife were planning to open a shop that sold cheesecake. So no, they wouldn’t share the recipe, but you could order one (or many) from them, as they were renting a commercial kitchen twice a month.

    34. Molly*

      I make a pumpkin swirl cheesecake with a ginger snap/pecan crust. It’s a huge hit wherever I bring it.
      I worked for a small company(under 100 people) for 5 yrs. I would bring this cheesecake to the holiday pot luck every year. One year my boss actually paid me to make her two for her holiday dinner.
      When I left, my boss joked that no one would let me leave unless I left the recipe. On my last day, I sent out a company-wide email with the recipe, complete with my notes.
      BTW, I found the recipe on the Philly cream cheese web site. And it’s that crust that raises it above all other pumpkin cheesecakes.

    35. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I think this is one of those things where different groups have different norms about whether or not this is ok. Every friends group I’ve been in as an adult has had enough people with allergies and/or other special diets that “secret” ingredients of any kind are an absolute no-go at friends-group potlucks. (One of my pre-pandemic groups was about 20 people, and included multiple vegetarians as well as two people who were each allergic to different specific spices!) We’re more the “ingredients written on a card next to the dish” school of potlucks.

      For me, since I am allergic to several weird things and a vegetarian, if you tell me the recipe is a secret that means I’m not going to eat it, because it’s possible that I will detect your “secret” in an exciting way requiring medical attention. (At this point, I actually just don’t eat at potlucks and attend them wearing a mask the whole time if they’re worth attending to socialize. The mask minimizes, although does not completely remove, my reaction to my airborne food allergen so I can usually stay in the room and socialize in situations where I used to have to leave because my lungs were on fire. I’m tempted to add swim goggles next time so my eyes won’t water. I basically have an adversarial relationship with food I didn’t prepare myself.)

      1. Observer*

        This is about the only good reason that there could be an obligation to share ingredients, even if not the whole recipe. But that’s a very, very different scenario than what the OP is talking about.

        1. Clisby Williams*

          My husband, who is quite a good cook, is notorious for replying, when asked how much of a certain ingredient is needed: “Enough.”

          Our kids have both learned how to make fresh pasta from watching him do it, so they know what it should look like at every stage. None of them would know how to write down a recipe for it.

          I did write down the recipe after watching him make swiss steak – “enough” crushed red pepper is about a palmful, in case anyone wants to know. But mine, while good, is still not quite as good as his, so maybe he needs to lead me through another round.

          Back when my daughter was in 5th grade, I took mac and cheese to a school potluck. After, a bunch of kids came up to tell me it was the best M&C they had ever had. I was thinking, “I didn’t do anything special.” I mean, if someone had asked for my recipe, it would be cook the pasta; make a cream sauce; once it’s thickened add cheese; add pasta; bake for awhile. Although, every time I made it I used up whatever odds and ends of cheese were in my refrigerator (swiss? pepper jack? cheddar? mozzarella? whatever.) So maybe that time I happened on the magical combination that would never be repeated.

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            I’d say that the act of making it from scratch automatically made it magical and special, given the fair number of people whose mac & cheese experiences are from a box with powdered orange crayon for flavor. (For anyone who wants an amazing scratch recipe, Homesick Texan’s poblano mac & cheese is top-notch and you can leave out the poblanos if you are not into heat.)

        2. Clisby Williams*

          This reminds me of one other circumstance I can think of where ingredients have to be disclosed. I don’t know whether this competition is still going on, but at one time, as detailed in the book Matzoh Ball Gumbo, there was a big kosher barbecue competition held in Memphis every year. Since the barbecue had to be kosher, one of the rules was that competitors had to disclose every ingredient – nothing could be secret. The recipes could be secret, but the ingredients couldn’t.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I do note ingredients when I’m taking things for public consumption – I make some beloved Christmas cookies that contain nuts and coconut in addition to eggs/dairy/wheat, so I always make sure people know. I take allergies and dietary restrictions seriously so I would never not share a list of ingredients.

    36. Forrest Rhodes*

      I love giving people my recipes—but the thing is, I’m pretty much a free-form, PDS cook: rather than teaspoons and tablespoons, my recipes consist of a Pinch of this, a Dollop of that, a Skosh of something else. So even when somebody follows my recipe, the result won’t turn out exactly like mine.

      And that, to me, is one of the pleasures of cooking: you taste it as you go along, you make the completed dish a few times to see what you like and don’t like in it, and you customize it to your own preferences.

      A long-ago friend gave me a sign that hung in my kitchens for decades: “Approach Love
      and Cooking
      With Abandon!”
      Works for me.

      1. Kayem*

        I’m the same way, even with baking. People ask for recipes and I have to figure out how to convert “until it looks right” to more precise measurements.

        I’m like, “I don’t know how much flour I added, I just started with a cup and kept adding more until the consistency was what it’s supposed to be.” Then they ask “So two cups?”

        No idea! It could be one and a half or six, I don’t keep track!

      2. Tigersmom*

        My Mom had a measurement that was called a “zobble”, as in a zobble of butter (only time she used that). She would take a butter knife and cut off some butter. The amount probably varied from time to time.

    37. Kathlin409*

      I make amazing cheesecakes and I’m always happy to share the recipe. That’s how I got my favorite. Someone shared with me!

    38. Emma*

      I don’t share recipes because I don’t have them written down in enough detail to share. I’ll write down a few key ratios or timing notes and that’s it. if a very good friend wanted one of those recipes I might take the time to write it out in detail but I won’t do it for just anybody as it’s a fair amount of work.

    39. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I know at least one person whose secret recipe lasagna was Stouffers….

    40. Chirpy*

      As someone who is known for my cheesecake, let me just say that cheesecake in particular is special. First of all, be glad he’s bringing cheesecake to work functions, because I won’t. It’s expensive and time consuming, and I only make it for people I really like. I have made a single cheesecake that needed $50 of ingredients. They can take over 3 hours to make. My coworkers aren’t going to appreciate that, so they get store bought cookies.

      My most requested cheesecake’s recipe actually came from Epicurious online, so it’s not exactly a secret. But it’s more about the technique. I’ve made this cheesecake dozens of times for over a decade, I know how it cooks in different ovens, and how drastically I can alter it and still get a good result. I can completely change flavors, or even do a gluten free version. I know how to keep it from cracking. Most importantly, I know how the original cheesecake recipe screwed up in the formatting, which is the number one reason for it failing if you didn’t read it through correctly, judging by the few negative reviews online.

      So yeah, I’d be a little reluctant to share the recipe with just anyone. It takes a bit of explanation, and cheesecake specific technique, if you’re going to do it well. I’d hate to have someone come back with “I made this low fat no sugar and dumped all the ingredients into the filling instead of reading the instructions and it was bad and I told everyone it was your recipe”.

      Besides, I’ve shared simpler recipes with coworkers who asked (it literally had 3 ingredients and one of those was water) and they didn’t appreciate it. So I’ve been burned by that before.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I wonder if your coworkers pick up on the snobbery in those store-bought cookies. For all you know, there may be talented gourmet cooks in that group you dismiss as unworthy of your talents.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Given how many stories we’ve seen on here (including recently) of people acting weird about office food (taking too much and running away, complaining that it wasn’t what THEY wanted, whatever), “my coworkers aren’t going to appreciate that” might well be less about snobbery and more a recognition that work isn’t exactly the place for folks to really savor a dessert that took a lot of time and money to make.

        2. Chirpy*

          Nope. It’s literally like pulling teeth to get anyone at this job to bring something more substantial than chips to a potluck (with the exception of the one guy who thinks his potato salad is The Best Thing Of All Time. It’s average.) Everyone else sticks to store bought, so I do too.

    41. Kayem*

      My dad is like this with his cranberry walnut salad recipe. Everyone thinks it’s the most amazing thing and he refused to share the recipe, which was originally his mother’s. Then he got to where making it was too exhausting, so he bequeathed it to me under strict condition that I never tell another soul until it’s my turn to pass it on.

      So I have kept this secret from every one else, making the salad for the occasional family dinner. It drives my mom bonkers that I won’t share the recipe. She was convinced that I would be reasonable and share it with her.

      Sorry mom, I’m pretty sure the shared custody agreement you had with dad was only for my brother and I, not us and cranberry salad instructions.

    42. Elizabeth West*

      I have a recipe for these vintage cookies that you could find if you googled (they were in a specialty cookbook but someone did put it on the internet). Whenever I make them, people are blown away because they’re really good. But they’re also kind of a pain to make since I don’t generally keep one key ingredient on hand, so I ONLY make them for special people. Mostly, they don’t ask.

      I would tell you what it is but I kind of like being seen as this amazing person who makes these mind-blowing cookies. Maybe it’s like that.

    43. Jay*

      I am very free with my own recipes, but there are two or three ancient Family (yes, capital “F”) that do NOT get shared easily. For reference, I am readily acknowledged as the best cook and baker in my extended family of my generation and have been for over a decade and a half. This year, on my 47’th birthday, my mother finally agreed to teach me our families most secret and heavily guarded cookie recipe. That was in February. It’s July and I still haven’t gotten it. It will only be passed on in person, when she is there to watch what I’m doing every step of the way.
      This is a normal enough thing for a lot of the old Italian families I know.

    44. There You Are*

      When someone won’t tell me the recipe, I will sometimes spend a ton of time trying to figure it out and make it on my own.

      Maybe 50 years ago, I was living in Florida and there was this $$$$ restaurant that had the most amazing creamy chicken, lemon, onion soup. I would go there for lunch just for that soup. I got to know the wait staff. I got to know the owner. I mean, any restaurant where a patron comes in and only orders one thing a few times a week, you become the Known Regular.

      I asked for the recipe almost every time. And every time I was turned down.

      I ended up being able to recreate it exactly (to my taste buds, at least) with Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup, heavy cream, fresh lemon juice, diced Vidalia onions, fresh dill, and diced-and-smashed roasted garlic.

      To this day, I wonder if Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup was actually their base.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        I am kind of horrified that you asked a restaurant for their recipe. Were you really expecting them to say “sure, here ’tis,” and hand it out to anyone who asked?

        1. Bethlam*

          I did. I always had the spinach artichoke dip appetizer as my meal at a certain restaurant because it was just that good. Asked if they ever shared their recipes and walked out with a written copy.

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            Wow – I wouldn’t have thought restaurants (especially pricey ones) would do that. But continuing to ask after having been told no is still, to me, no more appropriate at a restaurant than it is in the original situation with the co-worker. Less so, in fact, since their whole business is predicated on making food other people don’t/can’t make.

        2. There You Are*

          My goodness.

          You do realize that you can ask a restaurant for a recipe multiple times and it be a compliment and part of an amusing routine, right? “I know you’re going to say No, but at this point you’d think I’d been taken over by a body snatcher if I didn’t ask…” complete with laughter that signals you fully expect them to say no and you’re just being silly at this point.

          And you also realize that you can figure out how to make the thing at home but still go to the restaurant for it because you’ve become friendly and close-in-a-business-relationship-kind-of-way with the owner and the staff, and enj0y their company and the atmosphere, right?

          Also, just like Bethlam, I have asked other restaurants/professional bakers for other recipes and they’ve happily shared them.

    45. Old Admin*

      My best friend would go on scuba diving trips with me on Malta, where the local cafe had the best cheesecake in the world (nothing like diving to give you an appetite). A local favorite, it would sell out the same afternoon. He found out the recipe – a Greek cake mix in a box!
      No cheesecake made from scratch touched this succulence – and his girlfriend was a pro pastry baker.
      For years we and friends filled suitcases with the boxes for him until the company stopped making the cake. Desperate calls and emails to the manufacturer in Greece ensued, to no avail.
      The two have married, and she bakes a very close approximation by now.

      Rats, now I have to ask her for the recipe.

    46. 2 Cents*

      I had a coworker like that, but for crumb cake — OMG it was so good. She only gave it to me when I was leaving that job.

      I have a family sugar cutout cookie recipe that I will gladly share, but the instructions are not share friendly (the instructions say 4 cups of flour, but if it’s humid you add more until the dough feels right) and the icing is no better (counting to 3 at 160bpm). I include those disclaimers, but I know it’s not the best. (And I don’t really know what to do about it.)

  3. Junior Dev*

    Can we have a little support/vent thread for people who would have liked to celebrate the holiday in some way but circumstances mean it’s not in the cards?

    Got a lot of chaos going on in my life and I needed to unexpectedly find a new place to live on pretty short notice. I’m moving to a new apartment on the 5th and so all my attention has been on packing and also dealing with a rather volatile family/friend situation. I do have plans for a small lunch at home with my dad and we’ll try to go for a walk before it gets too hot. But I was hoping to grill, go for a hike, do something a little more celebratory.

    It could definitely be worse though. At least I get to spend it with someone.

    1. Jay*

      Severe thunder storms all day, every day, interrupted only by torrential rain and pea soup fog. They started about 15 minutes after I got out of work on Friday and will be ending just in time for me to go back to work on Wednesday.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Do you live near me? I feel like I would bow down and worship the sun if it came out again

          1. amoeba*

            Send some over here! We’ve had exactly 0 in June – something in the middle would be quite nice!

            1. Tris Prior*

              Here too, I live in a normally rainy place and we have been dry for weeks other than a few sprinkles that didn’t really help.

              1. Recently Retired*

                Me too – it’s expected to reach 108 here today. Low of 77 was before 6 am.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I’m in the Pacific Northwest and nowadays I count every day that’s not filled with choking wildfire smoke as a good day. Juneuary came and went with my blessing.

      2. Bluebell*

        Here in New England and also bummed by the gloomy wet weather. There was some nice sun yesterday but today is not the day for a beach visit or outdoor nature walk. Just lounging around today- I did see fireworks on Saturday though.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same here. I meant to go downtown and play tourist this weekend for Harborfest, but the rain, and I’ve been busy finishing the Great Unpacking and Purging. I’m almost done. No worries, though — I can go next year. I don’t like doing stuff like that alone anyway. Besides, I’m meeting a friend for lunch next Saturday and I can run around afterward. Hopefully we’ll have one clear weekend day!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yep here too. Mother Nature’s fireworks are pretty intense. We saw the forecast and did our outdoor activities yesterday before this rolled in. Today is all about relaxing and hoping the power doesn’t go out.

        (And ducking out occasionally to decide if I need to move any plant pots out of the rain as it keeps getting heavier. )

      1. Bob’s your uncle*

        Can anyone recommend a good book about healthy eating for my teen daughter? I found an intentional eating workbook that looks good, but it might beer a bit too much into helping people with eating disorders… I can’t tell.

        She wants to lose some weight and feels insecure about her body. She is actively working to feel more secure with how she is while also losing weight. I know there’s a lot of support/info online, but I think that can be a dangerous rabbit hole, so I’m looking for a book.

        1. Sunflower*

          Most books give bad/false information, and the internet is a cess pool. I’d have her listen to maintenance phase podcast to learn more about the diet industry and have her listen/read Aubrey Gordon.

          I’m gonna bring my own baggage into this but my mom convinced me to do weight watchers at 15 and my track coach continuously told my dad I needed to lose weight to get faster and I’m lucky I didn’t end up with a full blown eating disorder. Maintenance Phase podcast helped pull me out of that continuous want/need to be “smaller”. No matter what I was never happy with my body.

          Keep affirming that your daughter is beautiful as she is right now. Eat some veggies. Move a bit. Weight is a metric and not THE metric.

          Another great follow is The Sassy Dietician on Instagram. Highly recommend, I know her and have worked with her and she’s the real deal.

          1. Bob’s your uncle*

            Yes, totally concerned about that. I am very careful. I’ll check out these recommendations. Thanks.

            1. Junior Dev*

              Does she need, medically, to lose weight? Have you talked to her doctor? I think that is a good place to start. If she needs help with weight loss, a referral to a registered dietitian could be something to ask for. I’d talk to the dietician beforehand about how they’ll support her in maintaining a healthy body image—and maybe attend the first session with her.

              I know it may not be within your schedule or budget to do something like that now. The Plate Method for structuring meals is good for healthy eating, and can be conducive to weight loss but it doesn’t have to be. I’ll post a link below this comment. Learning about how ultraprocessed foods, especially refined sugars, affect metabolism might be good for you as her parent—but read anything before you give it to her and try to avoid any that could have stigmatizing language towards people’s body types or make her feel like she can never enjoy those foods, even on special occasions.

              If she doesn’t medically need to lose weight, I’d skip giving her any advice on how to do it; regardless of whether she does, I’d talk to her about what social media she’s looking at and what messages she’s getting about body image and health. I’d emphasize that any change she makes needs to be something she enjoys enough to stick with it, and recommend positive changes (eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly) instead of negative/restrictive ones like cutting out whole food groups. Teenagers probably should not be counting calories, but rather learning healthy habits that will serve them well through life, like eating more fruits and vegetables and paying attention to their body’s hunger and fullness cues. (“I really am hungry now” needs to be a valid answer to “are you actually hungry or just bored/anxious/eating while everyone else is”—otherwise it becomes a way to invalidate one’s own feelings.)

              If you can do anything with her, like go for walks or hikes or learn to cook together, it would help, I think. Same for signing her up for something social like a sports team or cooking class.

              I do not recommend the maintenance phase podcast for a teen girl, just btw. They’ve made fun of “thin white women” for talking about their body image issues and stated that all weight loss attempts whatsoever constitute “disordered eating,” and that trying to eat foods you enjoy in moderation is a gateway to “disordered eating.” One of the hosts has stated that public health recommendations that people would be healthier if they lost weight are somehow attacking and oppressing currently fat people.

              It’s a very black-and-white view that has made me feel dismissed as someone who has needed to lose weight for medical reasons. I’ve had people tell me I should ignore my doctor’s advice because of ideas they heard on the podcast. I get that it helps some people but I think that it requires a level of critical thinking to listen to and come out with a reasonably healthy set of views on health and weight. As it is, I think the podcast goes too far in the opposite direction to the current status quo, and collapses all nuance around discussions of weight and public health into a narrative that seeks to paint obesity as purely a social justice issue, not a medical one. If you want to show it to her, I’d listen to a few episodes yourself first. I think the “zombie statistics” one is the one that made me realize how much the podcast was making me feel bad about my own attempts to live a healthier lifestyle and address my chronic health issues.

              I’m sorry for the wall of text. What exactly constitutes “healthy eating” is pretty complex and depends on the person’s situation, and I think as her parent you can help by 1) screening the information you give her and avoiding things that might upset or confuse her and 2) encouraging her and emphasizing that you love and support her no matter her size.

              1. Bob’s your uncle*

                Yes, she does need to medically lose weight. Her doctor has mentioned this to me the last couple of appointments, but not with my daughter in the room. And yes about what constitutes healthy eating.

                1. Once too Often*

                  Given that info, you might explore how she responds to what she eats, & when. What & when (& in what order) I eat affects my mood, focus, & cravings. This is by no means the same for everyone, but I’ve had friends watch me & decide to pay attention to their own patterns & make good use of what they learned.

                  I was in college before figuring out that eating sweets/carbs makes me *crave* sweets. And that my menstrual cycle significantly influenced my cravings.

                  I was out of college, & managing my own food, when I figured out that if I ate things that balanced my system first, that carbs/sweets don’t hit so hard and the cravings were lower key & easier to manage. And I wasn’t getting cranky, or crashing. Turns out I need extra protein & darker green veggies to stabilize, as well as extra water. Much as I love dairy, my body understands it as sugar rather than protein so that got relegated to the dessert category.

                  Eating cereal or potatoes for breakfast sets me up for a day of nonstop cravings, so I try to start with a high protein breakfast. As I cut down on refined sugar & heavy carbs other foods started tasting better & sometimes surprisingly sweet. And I could start to tell when it was time for protein/dark green veggies/veggies/etc.

                  Best wishes to your daughter & you.

                2. Middle Aged Lady*

                  It’s hard to help a teen because they are often eating lots of meals away from home.
                  Serve thebest diet you can at home. Keep good food handy. Teens get hungry and eat anything they see. Keep the fruit out, washed, in a bowl, and veggie sticks, hummous, and so on prepped in the fridge. Get her involved with cooking. Eat This, Not That books are helpful for when she is out at fast food or other olaces with friends. She may not know the caloric value of some common treats. I used to think donuts had about 150 calories. Boy, was I wrong. If she is like me, she is eating for emotional reasons and addressing that could be a good first step. Only eat when you are eating helped me. I was eating a lot in front of thr Tv or while reading and it didn’t really register that I had eaten anything! Good luck!

              2. L*

                100% agree with this. Maintenance Phase is in many ways a fantastic corrective to dominant cultural narratives around weight. I like both of the hosts and have read Aubrey Gordon’s book. But I often find the podcast to be horribly under-researched and they have a tendency to indulge in cherry-picking of studies. (It really made me realize how strong Sarah Marshall is on that count, considering the difference in quality of research between MP and You’re Wrong About.) Neither of the hosts is a medical professional or a dietician. I have recommended individual episodes to adults; I likely wouldn’t recommend any of it to a teenager struggling with body image.

                1. Junior Dev*

                  RE: cherry-picking studies, it’s especially weird given how they mock people for “doing their own research” and going against medical consensus—on any issue other than body fat, how weight loss works, and the impact of high weight on health. Then when it gets to weight it’s doing all the things they decry in other areas.

                  I wish there were some resource I could wholeheartedly recommend to people and there just isn’t. The loseit wiki on Reddit is the closest I’ve seen, but it is overly focused on calorie counting for something I’d want to show a teen girl. The best I can come up with is “see a registered dietitian” and I know that’s not accessible to everyone.

          2. Rainstorm*

            I had luck several years ago with a collection of hypnotherapy recordings called The Weightless Mind by Georgia Foster (or Forster, I can’t remember). The hypnotherapy helped me to eat less and binge less without becoming anxious about dieting, and I had a bit of weight loss that felt psychologically kinder and more relaxed.
            However, it was a long time ago, so I don’t remember her exact angle/approach. And I had disordered eating (binging alternating with dieting) before doing the hypnotherapy, so it’s possible that I looked for something that would address that.

            the recordings are not expensive, so perhaps you could listen to them first to vet them.

            One last thing: ignore all the sales crap on her website. I don’t know why she’s made her website so salesy, I think it undermines her a bit! The recordings were really helpful.

        2. Waffles*

          I would really recommend reading Fat Talk for you as the parent before choosing to support her in weight loss. Your instincts are right that much of what is offered for healthy eating or weight loss isn’t actually going to lead her to feel more secure in her body – in fact, the opposite! For her I would recommend Tressie McMillan Cottom’s essay called On Beauty. It is in the book Thick. That essay gave me the words/frame I needed as a young woman. It’s a journey to learn to be secure in who you are! the Maintenance Phase is an excellent podcast as well as another commenter noted. Wanting to be smaller is a never ending goal, and for so many it is harmful.

          1. Bob’s your uncle*

            Thank you. I think she is generally healthy with her thinking. She’s not concerned about what size she is or exactly how much she weighs and she works out to build muscle. She wants to lose some of the belly fat she has though because she doesn’t feel comfortable wearing crop tops and would like to wear them. Her eating is not terrible, but it’s not great. I want to work on that with her. She is frustrated with herself that she feels insecure about her body because she’s a feminist and can see that she’s getting that message from society. At the same time, she wants to lose a little weight. These are good recommendations. Thanks.

            1. ReallyBadPerson*

              I’m coming from the perspective of someone who grew up with a mother who was–and still is–a total fat phobe. You could be Adolf Hitler, as long as you weren’t–horrors!–fat. My suggestion is to let her know that you support her in her health goals, because they are her health goals, but that you do not agree with her that she is too fat. This will help her realize that the people who love her best have a different perspective on her, and that there is more than one way of looking at this.

                1. Book rec*

                  The book Glucose Goddess is really science oriented around the impact of sugar on your body and how to improve how your body handles sugar (really actionable and non judge mental in my opinion). I haven’t read the whole book but excerpts have been really helpful to me. I think it’s generally good from a healthy eating perspective but especially relevant if prediabetes or diabetes is a concern!

            2. SofiaDeo*

              Perhaps something geared towards her exercise could be a start for a discussion of her personal fitness/diet goals. I disagree with the others who have said things against her doctors advice; if the doc says she needs to lose weight, she needs to lose weight. It’s not in her best interest to “love her regardless of her size”. IMO the doc is mentioning it, to give you time to formulate how you are going to discuss this. You do have a tricky situation, though, with how society pushes us to be slim, the fact that teenage girls may develop unhealthy eating habits or eating disorders, and the body shaming and other feelings that can arise. I don’t see the problem with having talks around “what constitutes a healthy diet”, “what types of foods she likes to eat” “what foods can help her reach her athletic goals” “how much time is she willing to spend on learning new recipes” etc. There’s a difference between pushing some agenda, and having loving conversations to guide one’s child as they grow up. I am pretty bookish, and my dad gave me things to read that we would then later discuss. So maybe pointing out a book, or a website, or a podcast or whatever, that you both can learn about and then talk about, is somewhere to start.

              1. Bob’s your uncle*

                Thanks. That’s what I’m trying to do with a book rec. Her doctor is great. She is definitely giving me time to approach it with my daughter. When she first brought it up, I told her I didn’t think it was a good time to approach it with my daughter, but it would be soon. The doc and I are very much on the same page. And now my daughter is ready for this conversation. Much of what she needs to do is figure out how to eat better with the constraints of school (an insanely early lunch hour, sports after school).

            3. Bob’s your uncle*

              I ordered Eat Well and Feel Great:A Teenagers Guide to Nutrition and Health. I hope it’s good. thank you all for your ideas

        3. Jim Bob*

          I don’t understand why the only advice you’re receiving is to ignore your daughter’s stated goal of losing weight, because that will somehow be better for her in the long run? Sorry about that.

          I don’t have any book recommendations though; most of the information I found helpful when losing weight came from the internet, but I agree you can’t just turn a teen loose in the cesspool and hope for the best. Maybe you could look for helpful articles yourself and print them out / save links?

          1. Bob’s your uncle*

            That’s okay. I knew this might be triggering for some people when I posted. I will look at those recommendations…could be helpful.

            I would like to find something that is both informative and gets her excited to try new things so that this feels more like a lifestyle change. That is how she is viewing it as well, so that’s positive.

            1. WellRed*

              I liked Carrie Underwoods book that came out in 2020. It’s sort of her overall approach to living healthy and I find her to be a rather positive person in general.

          2. TechWorker*

            I don’t think that’s the advice – it’s more ‘take care’ because a lot of what’s out there is super dangerous (& eating disorders are more dangerous than being overweight, to be honest).

            Could you focus on eating well as a family? Cooking together/with fewer processed ingredients? It’s possible for people to obsess over that too ofc, but if you enjoy the cooking side of it then it can be a healthy way to just eat better.

            1. Bob’s your uncle*

              Yes, we are doing that. We decided to go back to getting a meal prep service. My own issue is that I hate the planning/shopping but I live cooking and so does my daughter. She is a planner, so I’m leaning on that strength to help her see how that can help her. We are then doing a meal prep twice a week to make things a bit easier.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          Not aimed at the young and it’s 20 years old, but The Canyon Ranch Guide to Living Younger Longer I found to be a reasonable way to think about the things we can actively do that impact our health. Including that they took seriously the finding that dieting tended to lead to regaining the weight.

          1. feline outerwear catalog*

            The Hungry Girl website has a lot of recipes and modifications to make regular dishes healthier/with fewer calories, like mac and cheese.

            I’ve also enjoyed the College Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Carole Raymond. I’m not vegetarian but enjoy vegetarian meals sometimes. Most of the recipes are designed for 1-2 people with less expensive and easy to obtain ingredients. I found it after college when I was trying to figure out how to cook for 1.

        5. amoeba*

          How about some recipe books that are not focusing on weight loss or “healthy eating” per se, but rather just lots of veggies, fresh, seasonal produce, etc?

        6. goddessoftransitory*

          Geneen Roth’s books are terrific; her early ones deal with emotional eating, and her later ones with more general “I use X to deal with my anxieties.” I especially loved her Lost and Found, which is about how she and her husband lost their life savings in the Madoff scam, and how she related her need to be numbed and ignorant about her finances to how she used food to do the same things with her emotions.

    2. Betty*

      I’m sorry you’re having to go through that. I’m glad you’ll be getting to spend some time with your dad. I hope it’s relaxing and enjoyable.

    3. Regular commenter going anonymous*

      I hope your holiday goes as well as possible! It’s good that you can get together with your dad. Thanks for starting this thread. I appreciate the chance to grumble, then be grateful and improve my mood.

      Reasons to grumble: Steamy sticky humid air, borderline poor air quality, and more to do than time to do it.

      Reasons for gratitude: Health, a home, food, dear family & friends, and a sense of humor. Not necessarily in that order.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Poor air quality really makes it so hard to enjoy time outside. Glad you have positive things going on though.

    4. Old Plant Woman*

      Just do what you need to do. You can barbecue and hike anytime. Hustle up all the energy and attitude you can get and do what’s happening now. Wish I could be there to help you pack.

    5. RedinSC*

      I hate moving. moving sucks. sorry you’re dealing with that in July. over what for many people was long weekend. take care. enjoy what you can

    6. Pamela Adams*

      Dogs that really hate fireworks. we will probably get through lunch before needing to up the medicaion

    7. SarahKay*

      Good luck for the move.
      And from me, sympathy to all my US finance colleagues who have to work today because Saturday was the Half Year End and this whole week is super-busy completing the accounting and reporting associated with that (I’m in the UK but working for a US-owned global corp).

    8. Heather*

      Maybe you can have a holiday redo on the weekend after you get the majority of your stuff moved in? Maybe take some time to do an outdoor activity and take in the beauty of your new area.

    9. Llama Llama*

      I work in accounting and month end closes don’t stop just because of a holiday. Heck, it’s a quarter close so we have lots more reporting to do that are MUSTs.

    10. BethDH*

      My spouse turned on Americana music this morning (Sousa, Gershwin, general pops stuff) and it’s making a humid low-air-quality day at least feel a bit set off from other days. Last year at this time we were moving so I sympathize.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Yes, we can’t go to our regular historical site because my daughter has to work, and its going to rain all day anyway.

      Phooey.

      We’re having my dad over for burgers at lunch, though, so that will be good

    12. DJ Abbott*

      Sorry you’re going through that! It will get better soon.
      I know someone who throws an amazing outdoor Fourth of July party with live music, dancing, grilling etc. and everyone comes.
      Before the pandemic it was on the third. This year it’s today, and I can’t go because I have to work tomorrow.
      I’m lucky to have this social group, there are lots of other opportunities, I was just out with friends Saturday-I can wait till next time…

    13. MissElizaTudor*

      I’m sorry you can’t celebrate the way you’d like! It sounds like you’d normally celebrate it in a really lovely way, and I hope you’re able to do that later in the summer and/or next year.

      I can’t commemorate the day the way I’d like, either. I’ve been to an event that had a time and space for what I’d like to do, but I’m out of town and, even if I wasn’t, I don’t have a good place to host people that also would work for lighting things on fire and viewing them as a group. Plus there’s the matter of how to ethically obtain a US flag without buying it. It’s all just a bit too complicated, but hopefully I can figure it out for next year.

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

      Congratulations on your move! I hope you love your new place and find your chaos significantly reduced. : )

      They have been using a loud leaf blower and hedge trimmer in the small city park across from my place for HOURS this morning. I guess it’s safer in case anyone gets any ideas about setting off fireworks in the park later, but did not want to wake up to noise pollution on the 4th.

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

        P.S. I am also sad because pre-covid, I used to perform with a musical group on the 4th and then go to a great cookout, but I’m still being covid cautious, so I haven’t done that since 2019. Someday . . . .

    15. carcinization*

      My husband and I were out of town until yesterday afternoon, so were planning to take it easy today anyhow, but I didn’t know I’d be feeling down. Yesterday was our wedding anniversary and it already wasn’t going to be as big of a deal as usual since we were getting back to town and unpacking and such, but then our cat ended up having an extremely bad reaction to being picked up from boarding, which of course we didn’t expect (he’d never boarded before though), so that kind of sapped our energy and took things in a different direction than expected. Then my husband and I got into a fight this morning about nothing in particular, so we’re kind of walking on eggshells at the moment. And we have nothing celebratory planned today as already discussed, we’re eating leftovers and doing laundry and such. I like to cook so that is another thing that could be nice that I’m not doing today. It was hard enough to discuss that I might make some popcorn on the stove after we eat our leftover pizza for dinner tonight. Not sure when things will be back to normal, much less festive.

    16. KR*

      Relatable! We wanted to go for a hike but we have SO much to do to prepare for an upcoming move it’s just not a wise idea right now. We decided to do the chores today and then vow to do something this weekend when we can relax knowing everything got done today!

    17. Generic Name*

      I hope this isn’t too negative. Husband and I are having a low key 4th because my son is with his dad, even though he was supposed to be returned to me yesterday. Son is safe, and is just at his dad’s apartment, but I’m sad and angry. Fortunately I have a kickass lawyer, and we will be seeking relief through the court system, but it breaks my heart that my son is in the middle and feels powerless.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Oh no! I’m so sorry. I hope you get him back soon and the lawyer is able to help.

    18. sundae funday*

      My office is closed yesterday and today but my coworker called me four times to talk about work stuff because she won’t be in the office tomorrow since she’s working from home.

      Absolutely none of it couldn’t wait….

      1. sundae funday*

        That double negative is confusing so let me clarify…

        Absolutely all of it could wait.

    19. goddessoftransitory*

      I know it’s not the same, but you can celebrate any time you like. Maybe after you’ve moved and things calm down you can do a “housewarming hike and grill event,” or similar?

    20. Old Admin*

      I’m in Europe right now, and this country doesn’t do the holiday. They have never heard of it. In the evening, I went for a modest drink in a local garden restaurant, is all.

      Friends in the US have actively avoided going to parks and public venues on July 4 because they were afraid of shootings. They stayed home for a small family BBQ.

      1. gsa*

        Negative.

        There are some people waiting to get into this great country.

        If I answered the wrong question, please tell me.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Donno, today celebrates Independence from the British. They’ve got NHS, more gay rights, more worker protections, and WAY less gun violence. Nowhere is ideal, but not so sure what we did with that particular victory is working out “great” at the moment. Jingoism helps no one.

        2. scrooge*

          The Supreme Court took away some of my rights on Friday so I’m not feeling very celebratory.

          1. Clear*

            Ally here fighting alongside you, my friend. We’ll get there. I don’t know how or when, but we will.

          2. Random Dice*

            Yeah, read the room.

            More pointedly, gsa, I’m the wife and daughter of combat veterans. Frankly, pulling them out to try to whitewash the current dire situation is offensive.

            Half of the US abruptly lost bodily autonomy, with literal life and death implications for women. Then the corrupt Supreme Court said that guns may be sold to those with active domestic violence restraining orders.

            This Pride month was marked by the corrupt Supreme Court approving open discrimination against queers, while states have queued up 400+ anti-queer laws, and businesses folded Pride displays in the face of violence.

            And that’s only the beginning of the corruption. It’s depressing.

            Though you are correct that it’s historically accurate, as any student of history, or any brown-skinned American can attest.

            1. Retired Accountant*

              “Then the corrupt Supreme Court said that guns may be sold to those with active domestic violence restraining orders.”

              Can you expand on this? Google is telling me the Supreme Court will consider this case in the fall.

        3. Well...*

          That’s true of basically every country that benefited from colonizing and ruthlessly extracting resources from the global south.

          Anyways as an American living abroad, I always have complicated feelings around this time of year.

      2. Meh*

        I’m with Joron.

        People from the south of us want to get into the US because it’s closer than Canada. Not because it’s the land of the free, or the represented, or one with affordable Healthcare.

    1. Clear*

      We should be celebrating the French, hard. The US wouldn’t have achieved independence without them. I can’t remember which, but it’s either the Times or the Post that has a dynamic article positing historians believing more and more that the Revolutionary War was more of a world war than one between the US and Britain.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Forced pregnancy? Reversals of critical protections for our underrepresented?

    3. Queer Earthling*

      The hard work of enslaved people and the systematic genocide of indigenous people?

  4. anon toady*

    Transitioning from Non-profit to For-profit
    I have worked in non-profit/government roles in “passion” fields for my whole career (still early years :) ). I am making a change and have an opportunity to interview for a really interesting position. It aligns with my background and is a for-profit corporate company.
    What kinds of things should I be asking/looking out for that may be different from the non-profit world? If you made a similar transition, how did you evaluate if it would be a good fit for you?
    Thanks all!

    1. RedinSC*

      I’ve worked in high tech/start up, non profit, higher education and now government.

      looking at the job and the people is the same no matter what you’re going for, and Alison ‘s advice is great.

      but the transition to for profit might be a challenge… depending on the company. there might not be processes like government is fond of. for many the work ethic us get it done, no matter how long it takes.

      is make sure to ask how performance is measured. things move much more quickly in the corporate world than government. you can be way more reactive and nimble.

      good luck!

      1. LegoGirl*

        Ask about funding and health insurance – I briefly left a university position for a for profit company, and while I loved the actual work, the stress of knowing they didn’t have any clients committed to our project area after 8~ months out was a (very minor) factor, and (major factor) we’re actually coming out ahead financially with the significantly better health insurance despite the pay cut (like we have a 3k out of pocket max now, instead of a 28k one, and we are all in on health/vision/dental at $350 a month (and when we have a baby in the winter it will go up to a whopping $400), whereas I was paying $800 a month, mostly for my husband’s premium, and that would have roughly doubled to add a kiddo.

    2. CL*

      I’ve worked in non-profit and for profit, large and small. Biggest thing is benefits. Don’t just look at the salary. Ask about the health insurance premiums, copays, deductibles and coverage. I recently turned down a job because the salary was an extra $12k but the insurance coverage would have cost me double what I was paying for less coverage. Same for retirement contributions, parking, childcare, etc. Also, ask why people work there. Just because it’s for-profit doesn’t mean people don’t believe in the mission.

    3. Sloanicota*

      For me my main concern would be, since I no longer have the motivation of doing it for “the cause” – is the place actually more professionally run, with better salaries? I have put up with a lot of cr*p in my career because we’re all underfunded dreamers trying to make the world better. But, some of the exact same cr*p seems to go on in the for-profit world, and I would have absolutely no patience with struggling in the same way so that the owners/shareholders can make a bigger buck.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        I moved to regular non-profit from higher ed and then briefly to a regular for-profit at a medium sized business. Both of the non-higher ed jobs were faster paced and had less vacation/sick time, be sure to factor that in.

        There was a ton more pressure to produce and justify your existence which I find stressful. There were also mixed messages about “work life balance” and “don’t work too late” but then getting penalized for not getting enough done…

        There was a drinking culture in the corporate job I had, too, which sucks as a non drinker. Ugh.

    4. Random Dice*

      I was shocked by how much passion I could find even in for-profit. I thought I was abandoning my idealism, but I realized that I could be proud of the work we do.

  5. nnn*

    We are halfway through 2023. What is the best book you read this year?

    For me it was Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Loved it and heard it’s being made into a TV series later this year.

    1. Elizabeth*

      The Kaiju Preservation Society
      by John Scalzi

      well, I’m on Ch. 3 and if it stays on track, it will be the best book so far.

      1. Random Dice*

        I love not-too-serious female-written fantasy / sci-fi with good characters and plot.

        My favorite find this year has been MINIMUM WAGE MAGIC, the first of a series by Rachel Aron. Magic has returned abruptly to the world, upending no place more than Detroit, now a lawless living city. Failed magician Opal Yong-ae cleans abandoned apartments, with the help of a chirpy AI and a jaded partner, and along the way finds herself and her place.

        My very favorite romance was ACT YOUR AGE EVE BROWN, a very steamy very sweet romance, with lovely and believable neurodiversity.

    2. Junior Dev*

      I’ve been reading a ton of books lately, so it’s hard to pick one.

      I really have been enjoying the Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirsten. Don’t look up anything about it if you want to read it—it really is best enjoyed without spoilers. Highly recommended.

    3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Ooh, it’s been a good year for books for me!

      Kafka said that a book should “take an axe to the frozen sea within us” which is all very well but the full quote is “a book should affect us like the death of a friend, it should take an axe to the frozen sea within us” and I don’t always have TIME to go through the intense aesthetic/emotional reaction that that entails. So my best frozen-sea book this year was IS MOTHER DEAD by Vigdis Hjorth, about the complicated relationship between a 50-60yo artist and her estranged elderly mother, which was familiar and horrifying and small-scale and extraordinary and laid me out for two days.

      My best non-frozen sea books were WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE because I had literally not read any Shirley Jackson till this year and she is as good as everyone says (actually this is another creepy family book, hmm) and MOLLY AND THE CAPTAIN by Anthony Quinn for a contemporary novel (published late last year) which is just delightful – it follows a missing painting across 300 years and he’s effortlessly good at writing in period while still being readable. Just spooky enough to be interesting.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh wait until you read The Haunting of Hill House! It is my favorite of hers and one of my favorite novels ever.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          I read that for the first time this year too and you are right it is AMAZING. Possibly a better book than Castle but I just like Castle better (also Haunting is TOO SAD).

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Never Let Me Go. They were both re-reads but even better than I had remembered.

      Right now I’m reading Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi. I felt like it took awhile to get into but heading toward the final third or so I’m really loving it.

    5. askalice*

      The one that I’ve discussed most at dinner parties Empire of Pain about the opioid epidemic and the Sackler family. The book that most changed my life in real practical ways is Breath by James Nestor. The most delicious fiction I’ve read this year is the Broken Earth series by NK Jemison.

    6. Roland*

      I have not been reading enough this year! And I’m in two book clubs where the picks have been very hit or miss. But so far, probably The Bone Ships by RJ Barker is probably my favorite 2023 read (more than its sequels tbh). Currently reading Mark Lawrence’s The Book That Wouldn’t Burn and I think it has high potential to displace it.

      I wish more of these would be standalones instead of trilogies with 500+ page entries… Tired of “first book is amazing, followed by Middle Book Syndrome, then culminating in something that invariably feels unsatisfactory since it took so long to get there”. Oh well.

    7. Pamela Adams*

      The Grief of Stones, by Katherine Addison. Currently reading the new Liaden book, Salvage Right. (It just dropped)

      1. J Jonah Jameson*

        Seconding Grief of Stones; also particularly liked Martha Wells’ Witch King which has a beautifully elegant narrative structure.

    8. Tiny clay insects*

      Madhouse at the End of the Earth, about the failed attempt to reach the magnetic south pole, in 1897. It was SO GOOD!!

        1. ampersand*

          Ooooh it’s described as a “feminist revenge fantasy–with witches.” Going on my list–thank you both! :)

    9. YrLocalLibrarian*

      I really liked Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I liked the character arcs, but it also included just the right amount of description about the field of video game design to really capture my interests and imagination (I’m not a player of video games, have tried and failed to enjoy them several time through my life, Super Mario Galaxy was the closest I ever got)

    10. Yes And*

      The Revisionaries by A.R. Moxon. It’s very weird and I’m not sure I understood it entirely, but I loved it. It reminded me of Neil Gaiman in its balance of world-building and character development; of Catch-22 in the way its meaning doesn’t begin to coalesce until more than halfway through, but when it does it hits you like a ton of bricks; and of Everything Is Illuminated in its sheer structural inventiveness.

    11. Roonil Wazlib*

      Either Shubeik Lubeik, an Egyptian graphic fantasy novel about wishes…..or Heretic: A Memoir about an American Midwestern woman growing up in, and leaving, fundamentalist Christianity. Both amazing, hard to compare.

    12. Seahorse*

      Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher. It’s a good combination of traditional fairy tale, minor horror elements, and well developed adult characters with specific life skills.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I love T. Kingfisher! I’ll even read her horror stuff (despite REALLY not being a horror person) because I know I’m in such good hands.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          Gahhh her horror is just so good! (The school bus! The thing tapping at the windows! Prince!!!) She’s my favourite.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I LOVED What Moves the Dead and bought Husband A House with Good Bones; I wish he’d hurry and read it so I can get to it!

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      The third book of the Scholomance series. I really love that someone thought “Wouldn’t being in a magical boarding school where monsters kept trying to kill you be horrible? And you wouldn’t do it if you had any better options?” And there’s a very explicit examination of privilege, but the story works if you miss that. Spouse and I both found it so stressful to read on the first go around, where it utterly captures the feeling of high school out in the real world where the monsters are metaphors.

      The one I keep recommending is The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi, which is a rip roaring tale of the sea and touches on how it’s harder to go adventuring when you’re older and have a trick knee.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The way I’d describe the trilogy it that it starts with a dark and snarky Harry Potter vibe, swerves through an escape caper and ends up on The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.

      2. Random Dice*

        Yes!!! Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series was so good… once I realized that the adults hadn’t actually abandoned all these teenagers to danger.

        I didn’t know how she was going to wrap up the series, but man the twist I did not see coming!

    14. GoryDetails*

      Lots of good ones; a few that come to mind:

      A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers, soothing and lovely, funny and hopeful.

      ENTANGLED LIFE by Merlin Sheldrake, non-fiction about the vast world of fungi – fascinating!

      And more non-fiction: A SUMMER OF HUMMINGBIRDS by Christopher Benfey, subtitled “Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade” – riveting looks at the connections and relationships among a group of talented artists and authors, with a fascination for hummingbirds as a running theme.

      1. Hawk*

        A Psalm for the Wild-Built (and its sequel) struck a very deep chord with me. Mosscap reminded me of one of my best friends, but also myself in the way I approach the natural world.

    15. sagewhiz*

      Twenty books in for me in 2023, by far THE best is Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea, who I’d never heard of but turns out to be a highly acclaimed author of non-fiction and novels.

      This is about the Amer. Red Cross Clubmobiles, helmed by young women, during WWII. They started out in England, then followed “the boys” across the channel after D-Day. Urrea knew his mom had been one but virtually nothing else because she wouldn’t say. Sometime after her death in 1990, he connected with her BF from that service, who shared stories, journals, and memorabilia, leading him and his wife into deep research. He ultimately realized his mother wasn’t just “difficult” and depressed, she’d suffered the rest of her life from PTSD. The stellar writing and engaging story makes it clear why. Would love to see this one as a movie.

      Def the best book since reading Lessons In Chemistry last year.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. It’s a YA book I picked up on a whim. It was very fun and hilarious about children that spontaneously combust when they are stressed or upset.

        I also enjoyed Now is Not the Time to Panic, but Nothing to See Here was even better. I’m dealing with recovering from some personal difficulties and it was the first book that made me laugh when I really needed it.

    16. Slinky*

      Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. I’m several years late to this (originally published in 2019) but it is so, so good. If you’re looking for high fantasy with a decidedly queer bent, check it out.

    17. Pyanfar*

      I have two, both octopi related… The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler and Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt.

    18. Managamber*

      I can’t stop thinking about CHAIN-GANG ALL-STARS by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. It’s set slightly in the future where privatized prisons in the US start death match combat between inmates for entertainment and profit. Chilling and captivating.

      1. Lore*

        This is my pick as well (though The Mountain in the Sea is also a contender), so I’ll also add Percival Everett’s The Trees, which is a book that made me embarrassed to be catching up with this writer at his seventeenth or so novel. I didn’t like Dr No as much but that still leaves me 15+ to discover! Nonfiction, probably Roxana Asgharian’s We Were Once a Family, which is heartbreaking both for the specific stories it tells and for its insight into the child welfare system.

        And a cheater’s pick, which I have access to through my job but won’t be on sale for another six months but I love so much that I’m plugging it everywhere already! The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden. Even the title gives me chills.

    19. Helvetica*

      “Country of Others” by Leila Slimani – beautiful, heartbreaking realities of following your dream, without fully knowing what the dream is or whether it even makes sense to do so.
      From non-fiction, “Regretting Motherhood” by Orna Dornath. Fantastic and in-depth look into women who became mothers and regret it. I especially liked the different categories it had – women who really wanted to be mothers, who were cajoled into being mothers, who knew they never wanted to, who it happened to by accident. A nuanced look at what can be regretful and how that affects the motherhood experience.

    20. Queenie*

      The People’s Hospital by Ricardo Nuila. An excellent book about the American medical system.

    21. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Deciding on one best is hard, when books are good for different reasons, but I’ll mention _The Dawn of Everything_ by David Graeber and David Wengrow, a sort of world history that explicitly and repeatedly questions the idea of progress and the assumption that events happen, or societies change, in anything like a single linear way.

    22. linger*

      The one thing that bugged me about Lessons in Chemistry was the extent to which Elizabeth was denied agency right up to the end. OK, that’s accurate enough for the period, and granted, giving her story a dramatically necessary happy ending was always going to be difficult … but still it was unsatisfying to have the conclusion brought about through a sudden deus-ex-machina connection with a benefactor rather than directly through her own actions.

    23. Nicki Name*

      Eversion by Alasdair Reynolds. The sort of book you can’t enthuse about without huge spoilers!

    24. Butterfly Counter*

      For a complex and dense story about awful people who are actually good/well-meaning at their cores, Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. It was so multi-layered that each chapter expanded what seemed like a simple, straight-forward story about a divorce. (The FX series does a great job adapting it as well.)

      For a sweet romance, Book Lovers by Emily Henry. Excellent concept. Excellent follow-through.

    25. An Australian In London*

      I have recently discovered the xianxia genre.

      I was already familiar with wuxia films (“martial heroes”; probably best known in Western culture is “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”). Xianxia is probably best translated as “transcendent heroes” (I think this is better than the more usual “immortal heroes”) and emphasises spirituality, philosophical growth, nobility, etc.

      I started with the “Cradle” series by Will Wight, a bridge from wuxia to xianxia. My first actual xianxia book was the spectacularly named…

      Beware Of Chicken.

      The first book is on Amazon Kindle and KU. After that it’s free to read on the Royal Road website.

      It still has the over-the-top martial arts fighting scenes of wuxia. It also has the “transported into another world in someone’s body” trope which tends to be a “love it or hate it” thing. It’s funny, it’s glorious, it’s ridiculous… and it’s also thoroughly wholesome and feel-good. Some of the over-the-top fight scenes, and struggles to evolve, might read to some as mild torture porn. I didn’t think so, there’s zero salacious feel to it for me.

    26. Bluebell*

      Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, which I’ve recommended to numerous friends. In nonfiction, I was impressed by God Land by Lyz Lenz. And The Hero of this Book is a fiction memoir by Elizabeth McCracken, a longtime fave of mine.

    27. Margaret Cavendish*

      I have two: Rootless by Krystle Zara Appiah; and Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry.

      Both are character-driven family dramas, with multiple perspectives and lots of choices and changes and things we wish had turned out differently. Also, if you like food writing or Indian food, Rohinton Mistry’s descriptions are so good. Do not read when hungry!

    28. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      The Address Book by Deidre Mask. Read this for my book group. Interesting look at the history of street addresses and the multitude of issues around them, from unhoused persons whose lack of a street address impedes their chances of finding work to the politics of street names and vanity street names.

      1. Loves libraries*

        I love thrillers and my two favorite are Simply Lies by David Baldacci and the Lie Maker by Linwood Barclays. Both kept me guessing.

    29. Elizabeth’s German Garden*

      I have had 4 5-star reads for me so far this year, which is kind of unusual for me. I can be a little stingy with 5 stars:
      -Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. Loved that surly octopus.
      -All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat. About the Thai soccer team cave rescue and just incredible nonfiction.
      -Maus by Art Spiegelman. It’s as good as everyone says it is. Just a masterpiece.
      -Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. Wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t a book club book, but LOVED IT. Best use of voice in fiction I’ve read in forever.
      So it’s been a really good reading year so far.

    30. Girasol*

      The graphic novel Digger by Ursula Vernon, who is also T Kingfisher. It’s about an intrepid and charming wombat miner who gets herself lost and ends up on a quest. I can’t help rereading it over and over.

    31. Elizabeth West*

      I’m about to re-read a ton of stuff to see if I want to keep it. If not, into the library donation box it goes!

    32. Hawk*

      The Fatma el-Sha’arawi series by P. Djèlí Clark was fantastic. I highly recommend reading the short stories/novellas set in the world before reading A Master of Djinn.

      A Psalm for the Wild-Built was fantastic, as was A Very Secret Society of Peculiar Witches.

    33. goddessoftransitory*

      Ooooh, good question!

      Let’s see: I’m guessing it will be The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis, because I love and adore her and all her works, but I just got it and haven’t started it yet. I am also loving Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Wilkinson.

      I’m rereading Home, by Bill Bryson and Hangsaman, by the great Shirley Jackson. They belong on any list of bests.

  6. Regular commenter going anonymous*

    Hmm. I need to think about this. May reply later.

    In the meantime, I want share the “best radio show” because it’s a great example of people doing excellent work in a niche area of knowledge. On Saturday evening (July 1) C-Span radio played a presentation by a Civil War historian and a meteorologist who collaborated to figure out the weather during the Battle of Gettysburg. (They met online. Their first face-to-face meeting was on the day that they gave their presentation.) In several historical/archival collections they located real, recorded-at-the-time weather observations from which the meteorologist made various calculations. It was absolutely fascinating, like listening to a detective story!
    I’ll come back later with their names and institutions. It was really fascinating.

  7. Goose*

    Favorite price of media for inducing a good cry? I can usually get one out of the movie Wild and the Hadestown cast album.

    1. FavoRITA*

      I think the only movies that have made me cry are Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Green Mile and Everything Everywhere All at Once. For music, Lost Boy by Ruth B, Jealous by Labyrinth and Glimpse of Us by Joji.

    2. CityMouse*

      You might like Kimberly Akimbo.

      Coco, the end really gets me. That’s a good one for a sad but also happy cry.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, gosh, Coco! Yeah, I love that one, and always spend the entire finale doing poignant/happy sobs!

    3. Indolent Libertine*

      Prokofiev’s score for Romeo & Juliet. Puccini’s La Boheme – I’m a weeping mess at the end of Act 1 even though everyone is still alive and happy, let alone later on.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      Quick hit: Rani Arbo’s song setting of Tennyson’s Crossing The Bar (I recommend searching YouTube for The Longest Johns crossing the bar). You’ll be in floods within seconds if you have ever lost a loved one especially an older person.

      1. Varthema*

        I actually have to go do other things for the last minute of Baby Race to avoid tearing up and freaking out my toddler. Also Sheep Dog, when Wendy cops on and plays along to make sure that Chili gets her 20 minutes of nobody talking to her. And Sleepytime, when Bingo’s bathed by the sun.

        1. bamcheeks*

          The first time I watched Sleepytime was when I’d brought my 5yo downstairs to wake her up properly because she was having night terrors, and I was also very cross about her coming into the big bed. And I also have a History with Holst’s Planet Suite. I was bawling by the end!

      2. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

        Yep, Baby Race every time. Even just thinking about the ending makes me tear up.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I sob like a baby at Armageddon – self-sacrifice tropes infuriate me normally (especially when it’s between spouses, though this isn’t) but Bruce Willis looks like a beefier version of my dad, so the interactions between him and Liv Tyler just wreck me. I start sniffling at the Apollo memorial, ugly-crying at “That is my FATHER up there!!” and curl up in a little weepy ball at “Daddy, no!” and cannot do anything useful the rest of the day.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I usually get weepy over a good self-sacrifice, but I admit that Armageddon mainly makes me guffaw!

        But the end of Deep Impact, with the astronauts saying farewell to their families – that bit always gets me.

    6. CTT*

      Miss You Already, which is basically just Beaches, but made in the past few years with Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette and oh my god I cry every time.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Thanks for sharing, I haven’t heard of this one but love both of those actresses.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Big Hero 6, Les Mis, finale of Adventure Zone: Balance, finale of the Good Place…I’m sure I’m forgetting some (why can’t I think of any books?) but that’s a good smattering

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Where the Red Fern Grows. You will cry, and you will keep crying. Then you’ll read the last chapter and cry some more.

      1. Rose is a rose is a rose*

        My grade 6 teacher read that out loud to the whole class and everyone was sobbing by the end, including the teacher.

    9. Waiting on the bus*

      One Piece. Water 7, Enies Lobby and Marineford are still guaranteed to make me cry.

      Law’s flashback in Dressrosa and Sanji’s in Whole Cake will get me too when I’m in the right mood.

    10. SarahKay*

      Skizz! It was originally a story in the UK 2000AD comic; Skizz is an alien interpreter, who looks a bit like a kangaroo, and has crash-landed on Earth. Specifically in mid-1980’s Birmingham in the UK.
      The last page of it where Skizz is describing the people he’s met “and some of them are stars” makes me cry (but happy tears) every time.

    11. amoeba*

      Films:
      A Star is Born
      The Danish Girl
      Brokeback Mountain
      The Imitation Game

      Not sure I’d call all of these “good cries” though, I loved all of them but was quite depressed for a few days after some…

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Watch This is Us, you don’t even have to watch the whole series. The cast even made a PSA about being sorry but not sorry for making you cry, and Jimmy Fallon had a sketch about one of the sound engineers crying so much they kept dropping a boom mic on set. If you want to laugh after you cry those are both hilarious.

      2. Waiting on the bus*

        Brokeback Mountain didn’t make me cry but it left me with a gloomy feeling that haunted me for several days after watching.

        1. SarahKay*

          Brokeback Mountain always makes me think of the line from Pink Floyd’s Time “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”. So much of Brokeback felt like quiet desperation, and the film definitely haunted me for some days.

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

      The part in *Stone Butch Blues* where the protagonist goes to visit former mentor Butch Al where she’s been institutionalized for being gay. Al is almost catatonic but recognizes the protagonist, who lies to her about Al’s former girlfriend (who is really dead of a drug overdose) being fine. Al tells the protagonist, “You did good, kid,” or something like that, and I weep and weep.

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

        Also, when I’m missing someone, Carole King’s “Far Away.”

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

      Tarsem’s 2006 film The Fall and the 2010 remake of True Grit are 2 that no matter how many times I watch them, I am crying like a baby by the end. FavoRITA mentioned Everything, Everywhere, and I will absolutely second that– I watched it, like, 5 times in theaters and was a swollen-eyed mess each time.

      YMMV on these book recs, but as an interracial adoptee, the memoirs Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related by Jenny Heijun-Wills and Invisible Boy by Harrison Mooney both absolutely ruined me. They are both so beautifully written, painful, cathartic, and just deeply powerful pieces of writing.

    14. The Dude Abides*

      Video game endings

      FFX
      Link’s Awakening

      Song

      Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

    15. Forrest Rhodes*

      This is an old one, but for me it’s the scene early in “The Best Years of Our Lives” where Frederic March, just returning from WWII, first sees his wife, Myrna Loy. He’s in the entryway of their apartment; she steps out of the kitchen at the end of the hall. The way their eyes lock, they embrace, and just hold each other without speaking … it gets to me, every time.

      It makes me think of my dad getting back from the European Theatre in mid-1945, coming home to my mom. They’re both gone now, but for their entire 60-year marriage, except for the war and maybe a couple of brief hospitalizations, they never spent a night apart. I have the letters they wrote each other during the war; so far, haven’t been able to read more than one of them—the words show so much love, and genuine liking, for each other.

      Anyway, that’s the scene that always does me in.

      1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

        Oh my god “The Best Years of Our Lives” is so good and so heartbreaking. I have never convinced anyone to watch it because my pitch is basically “It’s amazing! You will be in the fetal position on the floor crying and thinking about war trauma with new immediacy!” I should probably phrase that differently.

        Also the second half of Marley and Me. They really twist the knife in that one. I know several people who straight up left the theater.

    16. Anon Poster*

      The last 25ish minutes of the movie About Time, and the end of the movie Warrior. I pick one of those when I need to stress cry, they work every time.

    17. Sloanicota*

      I open Little Women to the part where (spoilers!) ………………. Beth dies when I need to get the waterworks flowing.

    18. Bookgarden*

      The Doctor Who series 11 episode “Demons of the Punjab.” I never cried so much at media in my entire life, and my partner and I originally went into the episode expecting a fun sci-fi adventure.

      The most stunning thing was that while initially we both cried tears of absolute sadness during the last twenty minutes or so, at the very end they turned into happy tears with the love shared between two family members on the show (being vague in case someone wants to check the episode out!).

        1. Bookgarden*

          Oh my gosh the Van Gogh episode was so rough, too! I debated between mentioning that one and Demons but went with Demons since I was even more of a mess after it, which is saying something.

    19. Butterfly Counter*

      Movies: Encanto and Steel Magnolias.

      TV: “The Body” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

      1. RegBroccoli*

        Oooh yeah to Steel Magnolias & The Body (I’ve never seen Encanto). The Body will wreck me for the rest of the day if I watch it.

        I’d also add “What Dreams May Come” (movie).

        Weirdly I can’t think of any books. Maybe Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones? It’s a children’s book though.

    20. Breaking Dishes*

      I appreciate these suggestions. My husband died last November and I’m due for a good sobbing cry-but finding it hard to get there. Any specific suggestions re: loss of long term spouse or partner sob movies. Thanks.

      1. Arty*

        Afterlife is precisely what you are looking for. Three-season series that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. The ending is painfully perfect.

      2. KTNZ*

        P. S. I Love You has always been my go to for a good cry, but it is about the lead character grieving the loss of her husband, so YMMV on whether that’s a bit too close to home.

      3. Bibliovore*

        My grief soundtrack
        If we were Vampires Jason Isbel
        High and Low, Joshua Radin
        Carry On , fun
        Try Losing One, Tyler Braden
        The Eye, Brandi Carlyle
        Broken Hearted Psalm 147, Shir Yaacov

    21. Joanne’s Daughter*

      Movie: Billy Elliot, the very end when he leaps on stage always makes me cry.
      Song: Last Resort by the Eagles (last song on Hotel California abum)

    22. Not Totally Subclinical*

      The No Man’s Land scene in Wonder Woman.

      Avengers: Endgame. I can watch Infinity War completely dry-eyed, but in Endgame “On your left” immediately turns me into a sobbing mess.

      Stan Rogers’s “The Mary Ellen Carter”.

    23. LadyB*

      I still daren’t watch The Timetraveller’s Wife film, because the book reduced me to bits.
      The last scenes of Gladiator, and the Rutger Hauer ‘Tears in the rain’ speech from Bladerunner also set me off.

    24. Hawk*

      Come From Away (on Apple Tv+) or even just the cast album is *amazing*. My husband and I have seen the musical twice. I do find it to be a sad but hopeful story.

    25. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      The Björk film “Dancer in the Dark” had me sobbing in the theatre but I was an angsty 20-something at the time.

    26. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      “No Rain No Rainbow” by Babymetal. The ending of Dragon Quest Builders 2 was an unexpected tearjerker (not me crying over a high five and the successful crafting of a single medicinal herb). The whole Yakuza/Like a Dragon series is chock full of sucker punches right in a wide variety of feels.

    27. Veronica*

      Taking Chance is a movie based on a true story. The title character was a young Marine who was killed in action. The movie demonstrates the
      respect and honor shown for him as his body is escorted home to be buried. The movie was thought provoking and very moving. I’m tearing up remembering as I write this.

    28. goddessoftransitory*

      The Jurassic Bark episode of Futurama, and the last page of A Tale of Two Cities.

    29. Moose ent Skvirrel*

      Luciano Pavarotti singing “Nessun Dorma,” so beautiful I always cry.

      “How Can I Tell You” by Cat Stevens off Teaser and the Firecat album.

      The song “Dimming of the Day.” There are many wonderful versions, but I love folk singers Richard and Linda Thompson’s best.

      And oh my gosh, “Land ‘O the Leal” as sung by the late great folk singer Andy M Stewart. Like they say in those Internet clickbait stories, just try not to cry!

      “Nimrod” from The Enigma Variations by Elgar.

    30. Moose ent Skvirrel*

      “Land O the Leal” as sung by the late great folksinger Andy M Stewart.

      “Dimming of the Day.” Many great versions, but the one sung by Richard and Linda Thompson tears my heart out.

      Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma.”

      “Nimrod” from the Enigma Variations” by Elgar.

      “How Can I Tell You,” by Cat Stevens on his Teaser and the Firecat album.

      The first 10 minutes of the animated film, “Up.” The entire audience was in tears, including the uniformed military officer sitting two seats away from me. (Luckily the rest of the movie is so joyful!)

      Enjoy your cry.

  8. Invisible fish*

    Alison, you’ve finally tied me for “number of cats living in this home.”

    Finally. Took you a while …. ;)

    1. Time for Tea*

      Oh congratulations! And bless her. I hope she never darkens your day again unless she’s daft enough to think you’ll give her a glowing reference down the line

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Wow. I once had a horrible boss write “you will be missed by many” in my going away card. They were the reason I left… but still.

    2. Random Dice*

      I chuckled too.

      Once you know they’re out of your hair, this stuff starts to get funny.

      Goodbye Annie!

    3. There You Are*

      “Annie – I’ve worked with a lot of people and you’re certainly one of them.”

    4. Mild Accountant*

      Annie, Annie, sometimes you shouldn’t let the intrusive thoughts win!

      (Somehow I am reading everything Annie has said in Anna Delvey’s voice and now I can’t imagine her sounding any other way.)

      Also: cheers to being rid of Annie! Wishing her the best (in finding appropriate work boundaries)! And I’m glad that you’re taking this in stride.

    5. Critical Rolls*

      “Thanks, Annie. Of all the staff who have worked here, you have certainly been one of them.”

    6. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      YES, Annie. Go the whole Bilbo Baggins in your farewell speech. Keep it real and real awkward.

  9. Despachito*

    How do you maintain equilibrium in a conversation?

    With some people, it just flows naturally. However, with others, I find myself either listening to a long monologue (which is not necessarily all wrong because sometimes it is very interesting, but does not let me have a word edgewise) or, if I talk of something that is of interest of me, wondering whether it’s me who is hogging too much time.

    It does not help that in the first case I sometimes feel that what the other person is saying is more interesting stuff than what I’d have to say, and yet I would like to say something “mine” apart from “oh, how exciting”?

    1. coffee*

      Remember that you’re not the only person maintaining equilibrium! If the other person isn’t helping to keep the balance then you’ll struggle, and you can’t really fix it on your own.

      So, one thing to help a conversation flow is to use eye contact (I note that this is a cultural thing too and will vary among communities, and let’s all remember that not everyone can eat sandwiches). This is a simplified explanation, but people will usually avoid eye contact as they start to speak, and then make eye contact again when they finish. So if you’re in a conversation and you want to speak, try to make eye contact as they reach the end of their sentence or point, then break eye contact and start talking. Nodding silently, or other non-verbal signs of communication, are more likely to get them to look at you so you can make eye contact. (This sounds kind of Machiavellian but it’s really just non-verbal communication.) I stress again that this is a generalised and simplified explanation, and still being studied.

      If you’re talking to someone and you think you might be monologuing, that’s an easier thing to fix. Look out to see if they’re indicating interest (continued focus, going “mmm” and other similar sounds, asking questions/continuing to discuss the topic, nodding). If you’re talking more than them, leave a little silence for them to jump in if they want to.

      If the other person is monologuing and you wanted to say something, you can become a bit more forceful in how you’re indicating you want to speak and see if they pick up on it – restart an interupted sentence, for example.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Idk if it actively helps maintain the equilibrium, but it helps me to understand what might be going on so it feels less weird — different cultures are raised with different expectations for how much overlap/interjection is expected in a conversation. So when I talk to my friend from the Midwest*, I have to remember that he’s never going to make the little interjections I’m used to hearing people make to show they’re listening and interested, because he thinks of all that as interrupting and doesn’t naturally do it. He’s never going to start talking until he’s sure I’m done, so if I feel like my turn is over I have to actually stop talking and let there be silence for what feels like forever.

      Idk where you fall along that spectrum, but if you’re feeling friction around whose turn it is to speak, that might be what’s going on!

      *This example happens to fall along stereotypical lines (I’m from Massachusetts and come from Jewish and Italian families, so that tracks) but it won’t always — linguistic cultures can be small.

    3. Well...*

      Hey there, I have social anxiety and have worked on this quite a bit with my therapist. I’m terrified of the monologuing part, and in fact my anxiety around this typically makes the monologuing behavior *worse* not better. It’s not clear to me that I actually monologue too much though as a baseline, as I really have gotten mixed reviews from people in my life, and as a woman I know that how much space I take up in conversation is perhaps not being judged in a totally fair way.

      I’ve worked a lot on relaxing, checking in with myself that I feel safe, trying to foster pro-social behavior by working on getting my nervous system out of fight/flight or freeze mentality. It turns out conversation flow pretty naturally when you’re relaxed, and it can get extremely stilted when you or the other person is scared. Your own fear can get amped up by trying to monitor how much you are talking or how much the other person is talking. This is how people who are recovering monologuers often instead start to look like they’re “waiting for the mic,” still turning everyone else off because they are over-monitoring the conversation and the expense of genuinely having it. It also makes it harder to think of interesting things to say, because your brain isn’t in fun brainstorming mode when you’re in fight/flight activation.

      So from my particular point of view, my advice to engender good conversation (at least on your side) is to foster a relaxed and safe environment by being a COW: curious, open, and warm. These adjectives describe pro-social behavior that naturally arises when our nervous systems are not getting a ton of BE STRESSED/SCARED signals and are instead are getting “we’re safe, let’s chill” signals.

      Not sure how to stop another person from monologuing though. I’ve tried many strategies and I cannot succeed with the confrontation and remain chill.

      1. Well...*

        Also when I say “mixed reviews,” I mean reviews from people I trust to be honest with me that range from, “You never do this! Why are you always so worried about this?? Really, this is extremely off-base” to, “You could ask more questions/listen more,” so I don’t think the good reviews are just people trying to spare my feelings.

        … or are they? says my anxiety :)

      2. Despachito*

        Haha, this “It’s not clear to me that I actually monologue too much though as a baseline,” is something I could easily have written, and I identify with it quite a lot.

        I am also getting stuck as to what to do if the OTHER person is monologuing. My actual take is that some people are not interested in genuine exchange of opinions, what they need is a sounding board and they do not care much about the person they are venting to. I think I am a good listener and if I am unsure I can just give space to this person and let them monologue, and if I see them once in a blue moon I can absolutely do this but it sucks away all the joy of being with them.

    4. Random Dice*

      My friend teaches pragmatics (social skills), and explains it as a tennis game. It’s no fun if the ball only stays with one person, it has to go back and forth roughly evenly.

      But it can also get so frantic and competitive (“I can top that story”) that it stops being fun, too.

      One thing that profoundly changed my anxiety about conversations was to take the time to respond thoughtfully to someone’s point before launching into my own. Sometimes it’s just acknowledgement (“No way that’s crazy”), sometimes it’s a follow-up question. I’ve found that helps keep that sweet spot in the game of tennis, and helps people feel heard.

      1. Despachito*

        This is a good strategy and works with most people but a notorious monologist (is there such a word?) will take it as if this acknowledgement was already your turn with the imaginary ball, and that with your “no way, that’s crazy” response to his monologue you are returning the ball to his side of the playground (and continues the monologue).

      2. Sinead O*

        Pragmatics, you say? I’m looking that up!

        I remember realising from reading old novels like Jane Austen and similar that conversation was genuinely a skill that could be taught and learned and I wished I’d been given more guidance in this as a young person.

  10. Chrissssss*

    Can someone recomend ressources to learn to mantain better boundaries at work? For example if a project is draining and requiring more energy and time than you have (You where told you need to do X, but in addition it turned out you also needed to do Y and Z)? Or with colleagues to like to interrupt too much, or love to monologue you.

    I know this site has already some ressurces on this, but how do you train yourself to stop the interrupters or to not to do more than you can?

    1. Rick T*

      Start by going home at the end of your normal work day and ignoring ALL company resources until your next work period. Hard stop, down tools, and go home. If you aren’t being paid to be on call don’t answer texts. Don’t answer emails, etc. Even as a salaried employee you are being paid for 40 hours of work. If your assigned tasks take 80 you are being overworked.

      Next, stop caring about deadlines and schedules more than your manager. Did you budget a certain number of hours to get task X done by the deadline but now you have triple the work because nobody did Y and Z? Immediately tell your manager the deadline isn’t achievable without more resources (beyond you). Yes, make it their problem.

      Finally, be willing to cut off monologuers in mid-rant by interupting with “I need to get back to work now, sorry we can’t continue”, turn back to your computer, and ignore them. You aren’t being rude by cutting them off, THEY are being rude by wasting your time with their behavior.

      1. Chrissssss*

        Paragraph 1 is something I already almost do. I need to stop thinking about work on my free time.

        Paragraph 2 and 3 is something I need to practice more.

        Thankyou for your comment.

        1. An Australian In London*

          One generalisation of paragraph 2 is stop doing anything that fills in a gap, makes up for what someone else didn’t do, or saves management and the organisation from themselves.

          We’ve seen so many letters here where management never fix a workplace problem because the LW made it so it was never a problem for management.

          Let management feel 100% the effects, consequences, and costs of all problems in the workplace. Not only does it go a long way towards your own boundaries… problems often start to get fixed when the invisible unpaid emotional labour ceases.

  11. londonedit*

    It’s not a holiday here! Shout out to everyone who’s working as normal. Our next bank holiday isn’t until the end of August, boo.

    1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Similar here, no holiday either. Hope you nevertheless have a good day and that work stays as good as possible! And when the time comes enjoy your end of August bank holiday, londonedit.

    2. Buni*

      In fairness we’ve not exactly been short of a Bank Holiday up ’til now – my boss & I always b*tch about them because Monday is our normal day off anyway so we never feel we get the benefit…

      1. londonedit*

        True, but they all came at once! End of May to end of August is a long time to wait!

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Especially feels a long wait after May, when we had so many close together because of the coronation! But the worst will be after August when we have the even longer wait, since our next one is Christmas.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Canadian here. We had our holiday already and we use today to catch up since our American customers aren’t working :P

    4. Alexander Graham Yell*

      My next one is next Friday and I’m taking the following week off and I’m soooooo excited (except I’m 10000% going to melt when I’m on holiday).

    5. ceiswyn*

      Fortunately I’m on leave next week, but first I have to do a 60-mile challenge walk, and the weather forecast is not looking heartening…

    6. An Australian In London*

      Currently in Australia, no holiday here, working as normal.

      Glad for those who get a holiday. Enjoy!

    7. Heffalump*

      Is there any day of the year that isn’t a holiday in any country? I’d think February 29 would be most likely, but besides that?

      1. Baha'i wife*

        not a country but Baha’i religion has a holiday from February 26-March 1 so if it’s a Leap Year, they get another day!

        it’s a fun holiday like Carnival or Mardi Gras or Jewish Purim, so they think, one more day to party! (gentle partying because they don’t drink)

    8. Peaches*

      Eh, well, we get 4th of July and you probably have parental leave, health care, and way more time off than us “free” Americans!

  12. coffee*

    Work question: I work in a team of llama herders. We’re paired up to work as peers on particular sections of the flock. The other person in my pair joined after me, around six months ago, and seems to be having problems picking up the role.

    If they were junior to me, or still very new, I’d have more of a plan of attack, but they’re not. How have you handled similar things in the past? Our boss is very new to managing, and is busy and quite hands off, so I haven’t raised it with them. (Also I just spent two weeks asking if the llamas should be wearing a saddle or not, so the thought of asking more complex questions is exhausting.)

    As an example to show what I mean – they seem to struggle with pretty basic information. They don’t seem to know what part of the flock they are responsible for, even though it is written down in a central location, I’ve shown them the list, and we’ve talked specifically about it multiple times, with them confirming they understand at the end.

    1. Janet Pinkerton*

      You gotta raise it to your boss. They’re the ones with the power to change something. If you don’t let it be their problem to deal with, then they’ll have less incentive to deal with it.

    2. ClaireW*

      It’s tough, but in cases like that I’ve had to go to the hiring manager and raise the concern that the person isn’t the right fit for the role/level – if the person is still in probation it can be better to raise sooner, rather than letting them pass probation just to then find out they’re doing badly.

    3. Cookie Monster*

      Can you ask them in a friendly, straightforward way? If they forget what part they’re responsible for: “Huh. I know you’ve seen the list and you said you understand what part your responsible for. Do you think you need to do something else to help remember?”

      1. Observer*

        Here is the thing, it sounds like the OP has done this. Also, the OP is not their manager, so it makes this kind of thing much more tricky.

        So, yes, I guess it can’t hurt to ask, but ultimately, it’s on the manager to deal with it. And they are not going to be able to handle it unless the OP brings it to them.

        1. Clear*

          What? The onus isn’t on the OP to notify the manager about anything regarding new employee’s work; rather, the manager should be pro-actively checking in with new employee and managing the quality, such as it were, of their work.

          Management 101.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, the manager SHOULD be doing that. Agreed 100%

            But they aren’t. So at this point the OP, who is being affected by this needs to figure out their best route. Bringing it to their manager fits that directive, imo, because the OP doesn’t really have the power to really change the situation on their own. Their manager does have the standing to make demands, get the CW training if they need it, and ultimately fire the person if it comes down to that. The OP does not have any of that ability.

          2. Past Lurker*

            It seems the manager is not doing that. They’re new, but that’s not an excuse. Unfortunately it’s tricky to tell your manager what they should be doing – some don’t take kindly to it even if you’re right!

    4. Bagpuss*

      I think I would raise it first with them directly – maybe say what you have said here – “I’m concerned that there are several things that we’ve gone over and which you’ve confirmed you understand and re clear about what you /we are responsible for, and where to find that information if you struggle to remember, but I’ve noticed that you keep asking me the same questions / haven’t been doing x & y for the piebald llamas, which are your specific area of responsibility. Is there a problem with how the information has been provided (you might add something like “If you didn’t understand, please let me know and I can try to help, or if it isn’t clear, then you would need to speak to Manager for more training” ) depending on how the pairing works, you may need to be more specific – e.g. “we agreed that I would do a, b and c, and you’d do G, H and I. I’m finding I can’t do C because H hasn’t been done, and I then have to rush round to try to sort that. How can we fix this to make sure that doesn’t happen again?”

      But I think if that doesn’t have any effect then you do need to contact you manager (preferably in writing, so you have a paper trail and timescales) and maybe also to whoever was responsible for hiring your ‘pair’ to request that they step in to mentor your pair and/or assing you to a different pair until she is up to spped.

      IF you are jointly responsible for stuff you may need to spell out that you can’t to her job as well as yours, and can’t pick up all of her dropped balls,. Maybe (if the job allows) specify which things you will be focussing on and which are her responsibility .

      1. Anonymously Annoyed*

        Having recently dealt (as the grandboss) with a situation like this, go to the manager before you consider directly confronting the peer. While it’s possible there is something else going on (which is the manager’s problem to figure out), it’s also possible this person BSed their way into a senior position they are not able to do. If they are an experienced manipulator, any hint that you are going to “out” them is likely to result in them going to the boss or even grandboss and spinning fresh lies to turn the truth into some type of retaliation or mean coworker thing (again, voice of experience speaking). This could just be a bad fit, and it happens. But it could be something way more deliberate and maleficent, so make sure you cover your own arse first. But please do immediately notify your boss. They may well have no idea what’s going on in the day-to-day and need your input to make good decisions.

    5. Observer*

      Our boss is very new to managing, and is busy and quite hands off, so I haven’t raised it with them.

      It’s time to raise it with them, though. This is a key part of the job. And the stuff you are describing is really important.

  13. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

    Happy holiday to those of you who celebrate it!
    Do you have any special things you do for the holiday?

    1. CTT*

      This is not a traditional celebration, but in 2020 I spent the holiday deep-cleaning my apartment and have started doing that every year pre-barbecuing. It’s a nice mid-year reset!

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Sounds like a good thing, even if it’s not a traditional activity. Thanks for the answer!

    2. Rara Avis*

      Parade and then a party at a relative’s house. Swimming, horseshoes, salsa and dessert contests, and lots of food!

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Sounds like a huge celebration, have a good time and thanks for taking a moment out of the day to share it!

    3. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I really miss the 4th with my old roommate – her dog is terrified of fireworks, so we would watch Independence Day and try to time the big battle scene for when the fireworks were most likely to go off. Even though we don’t live together anymore (and I don’t even live in the country anymore!) I want to watch it every year because it’s tradition.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

        Have a good time with the movie and thank you for answering!

    4. carcinization*

      My husband and I used to make special pancakes, sort of a red white and blue thing sometimes, like buckwheat pancakes with a strawberry topping and whipped cream, or similar. But we don’t do that every year.

    5. Jay*

      Spent all day yesterday roasting a pork shoulder. It came out legendary and I’ve been spending today working out a weeks worth of recipes that work with roast pork shoulder.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Make hot dogs or burgers, with corn and pepper salad/baked beans. We usually do strawberry shortcake but this year we tried a strawberry/biscuit recipe and I think the shortcake has been permanently dethroned!

  14. Brunch Enthusiast*

    Does anyone here have tips on transitioning from wearing a baby on your front to wearing a toddler on your back?

    We have a structured backpack-style carrier, and it gives me muscle aches within minutes of putting it on. I think it’s just not adjustable enough to get a comfortable fit.

    We have a mei-tei carrier that was good for front carries. On the back, if it’s snug enough to feel secure it’s so tight that I can hardly breathe, but if it’s loose enough to be comfortable it feels too loose to be secure.

    We have a couple of woven wraps and I feel like they should be the most adaptable, but I’ve yet to keep the toddler stable on my back for long enough to actually complete a wrap. This is the carrier that I most want to use because it was by far the comfiest for front carries and I like the range of different tying options… if I could make any of them work!

    I know that an in-person babywearing meetup would be the best way to figure it out but unfortunately there is no way to make that happen.

    If it’s relevant, I’m fairly small with a *really* short torso, and toddler is 20 months, tall, and exceptionally wriggly even by toddler standards. Any tips appreciated!

    1. Jill Swinburne*

      I’m afraid I never managed it. I’m average sized, but with a fairly small frame and narrow shoulders. I did great with the meh dai and stretchy wraps, but once we transitioned to back carrying I never did find a SSC that worked for me (we had a Manduca and my husband loved it, however). Some people swear by onbuhimos because they have the kid higher up, but it wasn’t a go for me.

      Can you YouTube some different methods of tying the meh dai? There might be a better way to do it that doesn’t constrict your breathing.

      1. Brunch Enthusiast*

        You know, it never even occurred to me to look for other ways of tying it so thank you for helping me realise that’s a possibility!

    2. Hardly working*

      I use a hip seat, which really helps when just picking up and moving around, but it can also be used on front or back with straps that fold into the seat and turn it into a kind of toddler backpack, and it’s the only way I can really carry my toddler for very long.

      I’ll post a link to the kind I use below…

    3. Napkin Thief*

      I recommend posting in the Facebook group “Babywearing 101” – they give pretty good, specific (and kind!) feedback!

    4. CityMouse*

      I only managed it in a designated backpack carrier where you load the kid first then pick up the backpack. I mostly used it for hiking.

      I also just had my kid walk a lot. Because of the pandemic we got a lot of practice of us just walking around.

      1. Scientist*

        I agree with both of these things! The Osprey structured pack we have is pretty comfortable and distributes the weight across my hips and shoulders. But, once she hit about 20 months, she started wanting to only walk by herself and so we can only get about 5-10 minutes of being carried before it’s time to go at toddler pace. :D (still in this phase now, she’s now at 25 months.)

        1. Brunch Enthusiast*

          To be fair to the toddler, he does walk a lot of the time, so I totally hear you on the toddler pace thing. It’s delightful, except when one wants to get somewhere in a time fashion…

    5. HannahS*

      I’m a short person with back problems. When my daughter was around 1, I carried her on my back with an ergo baby, but it wasn’t structured enough for long walks (45 minutes, max). I have my eye out for a toddler hiking backpack, the kind with a frame.

    6. BethDH*

      I have a similar build and I was never able to make the back carry with a woven strap really work for me. I used an ergo when I really needed hands free (mainly airports) and just accepted that it wasn’t going to be a daily thing the way front carrying was for me; I still found it comfortable enough that I preferred it to carrying the toddler if I was going on longer outings.

    7. Your Computer Guy*

      I found that the front-carry ones never transitioned well to back carry. We had a hiking style kid carrying backpack (ours was from Arc’teryx) that worked great. It was adjustable enough for me and my wife (both women but very different heights/sizes, I’m nearly 6′ tall and she’s closer to 5′). The key was adjustable shoulder straps and and thick, adjustable waist/hip strap that really helped distribute the weight. There should be a decent used market for these kinds of things, I sold ours on craigslist when we were done with it.

    8. Gyne*

      I mostly have experience with woven wraps. I’d look for back carries with “unpoppable” seats – but some kiddos are going to be able to pop the seat no matter what you do! Get a partner to help distract baby while you are tying your wrap for the first couple tries and as you get more experience with it, you’ll get faster. And baby will start to learn to stay in place for ups once you get good at the wrap.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I only ever used a Tula for back carrying and never had a problem. It took awhile to get comfortable putting a kid in there without an adult spotter (it gets easier when the kid can help, lol) but none of my attempts at using other styles on my back ever worked.

    10. Alex*

      I used an ergo for front and back carrying. Both were comfy! To load the child on the back, I would do it sitting on the couch and get her behind me and buckle everything up before standing up. I liked the ergo because it puts the weight on your hips, not your back.

    11. Observer*

      If you use a less structured or more adjustable carrier, do yourself a favor and find some good videos of people putting them on and adjusting them. It can be very help to SEE how someone actually does it.

    12. Lirael*

      it’s been a long time. if you can’t get to a meetup are there consultants that could come to you? I had trained and insured friends who offered that.

      if not – my toddler Tula was the absolute best thing ever. carried my son in it until he was 4½. years haha. he was very big by then!

    13. Sopranistin*

      I use an Ergo original carrier to carry front and back with both kids. My youngest is 13 months. When carrying on your back, baby should be much higher, so she can almost look over your shoulder. When I front carry, the waistband is on my hips, for back carry its up at my natural waist.
      In my local babywearing group, you can post pictures to their facebook group for help adjusting the fit. Maybe try that?
      I watched YouTube videos and practiced A LOT in front of a mirror to get comfortable with it.

    14. Owler*

      I’ve got a teen now, so I’m definitely out of date with the newer products, but like others, I transitioned my Ergo from the front to the back and used it with my toddler until she was 4…almost 5. The hip strap really took her weight and made it easy to carry her, even when her legs were long enough that her feet bounced against the back of my legs. She and I are both tall (she is 6 feet tall now and might be able to carry me) but I am very short-waisted. :)

  15. DutchCoffeeAndCookies*

    Hi everyone! Greetings from the Netherlands :) I really enjoy this blog and the comment section! Though work culture is definitely different in the US, a lot of the advice here can be transferred to my country. Since everyone is always so nice and helpful in the comments I have a burning question to ask: what is a sick day? I mean, I get it’s a day that you’re ill and you stay home from work. But it’s often mentioned in the context of ‘I have x number of sick days’ or ‘I ran out of sick days’. Does this really mean employees in the US get a fixed number of days they can be sick? As in, you will no longer be paid if you are sick more days? I feel so confused about this concept because I can’t imagine that’s what sick days mean (you can’t plan when or how long you’re sick?), so please enlighten me!

    1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      I think you’ve gotten it exactly right. A sick day seems to be “a paid day off that you may take on short notice, without requiring preapproval by your manager, to be used when you need to take time off for medical reasons”. So, the kind of paid days off that you use when you call your boss in the morning saying “Hello boss, I wanted to inform you I’m sick and can’t come to work today.”
      Though I’m not in the USA either, so not an expert. And while I think sick days are limited for you too (I doubt you could call in sick for five years in a row while getting paid fully by your company, even if you need the time), in the USA it seems more like “two weeks of sick days per year” or so.

      1. Educator*

        Seven days is standard, which is ridiculous. And they can also usually be used for scheduled medical stuff–appointments with doctors, dentists, etc. So all medical care and all being ill needs to fit in a week and a half. I usually use two half days for the dentist, about three days for other routine medical procedures, and that leaves me with about three days to be actually ill all year before I have to use vacation. There is a reason that folks talk so much about FMLA (our federally-protected unpaid leave that some employers are required to offer) on open threads.

        1. DutchCoffeeAndCookies*

          I’d be interested to know, do companies now offer more paid sick leave as a benefit to get employees? I mean, with there being a shortage of employees, do companies try and get people to work for them by offering benefits like that?

          1. Educator*

            Some might be, but I have usually seen it work the other way—with staff shortages, there is more pressure not to use even the small amount of sick time you are allowed.

            And a lot of organizations—even in the nonprofit sector where I am—seem to be focused on “flashier” perks, like work from home, gym reimbursements, flexible schedules, free lunch, etc. I’ve never heard of anyone taking a job because of the great sick time! But maybe people should be.

            1. Siege*

              I mean, I’ve kept my job because of the great sick time. Not that I’m unusually sick, but I have a lot of freedom to use my time as I see fit, where my partner is trying to decide if he can take three hours off for a concert we misread the date on, because he’s going to Australia for a week next year. (Can’t wait till we stop scheduling international bands on Mondays!)

              Between vacation, sick, personal days, and holidays (we get all the federal holidays, 3 personal days, 4 weeks vacation, and … I want to say it’s 4 hours sick per pay period?) plus the fact there’s no cap and the rest of our benefits package, I’ve definitely kept this job longer than I might otherwise have. It’s moved much higher up the list of things I consider in jobs.

          2. Redaktorin*

            This depends heavily on the industry, but yes, some are offering better perks now. I get unlimited PTO, so as much time off for sickness and vacations as I want without it messing with coverage for my job.

          3. You sure about that that’s why?*

            Not a recent thing but most places sick leave is consistent whereas vacation time goes up based on tenure and to some degree seniority (overtime exempt employees get more vacation than non-exempt employees).

            The general trend that I’ve observed in friends and family since I started working is some places moving to a pooled sick + vacation time model.

          4. You sure about that that’s why?*

            I don’t think that the amount of sick time has gone up, but a general trend I’ve seen is companies pooling sick and vacation time. That way employees get more time they can use without restriction (though generally less time overall) and companies can spend less time/effort accounting for time off. If anything I would guess that people are using less sick time now with an increase in working from home.

            1. Random Dice*

              We added more sick leave during the pandemic, because of the Covid requirements to stay home when exposed.

        2. Random Dice*

          I’ve only ever gotten 5 sick days. (Plus short-term and long-term disability, where you get paid a small part of your salary if you’ll be out for awhile, like for extended illness or if you get pregnant.)

          In hourly jobs like waiting tables, no sick days. Or rather you can stay home but you won’t get paid, and may lose your job if you do it more than a few times. That’s why eating in restaurants can get you sick, they come in unless near death’s door.

          Computer based jobs allow a lot more flexibility – a lot of work can be done from home these days. So five sick days can stretch further.

          This is all so embarrassing to write out like this.

      2. DutchCoffeeAndCookies*

        Yes, sick leave is limited everywhere I guess, but in the questions on this blog there is a lot of focus on that limit, and the limit seems to be reached so soon. I felt confused by that because it’s not something I ever think about in my own work. People are sometimes sick and when it’s just ‘normal’ sickness like a cold or the flu then no one really pays attention to how many exact days that person is out sick in my country (of course there exceptions, we too have shit companies or managers who will behave badly). It’s not unlimited, but it’s limited at 2 years. In the Netherlands there is a regulatory difference between just being sick like everyone gets once in a while, and being sick for long (as in months). When it’s that last type there are rules about that: the first year of you being ill you get your full salary (the government pays part of that to your company), and then the second year you get 70%. A doctor will have regular check-ins with you in that time, so you can’t just pretend.
        I have long covid and on sick leave myself currently, so that’s probably why the comments about sick leave caught my attention.

        1. Sloanicota*

          In the US, as I understanding it, the “longer” leave type is either disability or FMLA. “Sick days” are usually too limited to cover more than 2 weeks of something like the flu, since as others have noted, they are also used to cover things like doctor/dentist visits and caregiving days for sick children/parents. If you were out for something like a month you’d probably need to use a different type of leave.

          1. Sparkle Llama*

            Just to explain disability since I am guessing that is also going to be uncommon outside the US. You need short term and long term disability insurance. I think everywhere I have worked long term was provided/required to be taken out of your paycheck and short term was optional so you have to decide whether it is worth the fairly small premium to get paid a portion of your salary between when sick leave ends and long term starts. And there are rules about when you can add it and what it will cover. So you can’t add it today and then use it for recovery from major surgery next month. FMLA prevents you from being fired during that time but doesn’t pay you. It is also common for employers to allow sick leave or vacation donations which are handled differently everywhere. We get requests via email from HR with who is requesting and an explanation of why and then anonymously donate. I think it is on a dollar for dollar basis and most people who request are lower paid (since they are the people doing more manual labor jobs and less office jobs where you can work at home if needed) and my understanding is the director level people are the ones who donate so one day for them could be two or three for the requester.

      3. BethDH*

        It depends a lot on where you work exactly what it means, I think the one thing to know about US sick leave is that almost none of it is required so it’s largely based on the norms of particular industries and regions (insert standard reminder of just how large and culturally varied the US is).

        Some places let you take it if your kid/dependent is sick and others don’t, for example. At my current job it is unlimited (and people actually take it) but if you’re out more than 5 consecutive days they mark it differently in the system and call it something else.

        So you’ll see all kinds of different norms and stipulations attached to the concept of sick leave. In general it’s for short-notice, non-optional absence that is not long enough to qualify for other kinds of leave like FMLA (and yes, as someone else has written, FMLA isn’t about pay, but a lot of employers have special leave pay attached to FMLA status).

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes, sadly what people who only get a sense of US laws from this blog are missing out on, is that white-collar/office type jobs, which are the most commonly represented here, may actually have the most generous sick leave policies. There are many service sector jobs that offer no paid leave. You either come in sick or take the day unpaid (and you may also have to find a coworker to cover your shift for you, depending on the job).

      4. amoeba*

        “And while I think sick days are limited for you too (I doubt you could call in sick for five years in a row while getting paid fully by your company, even if you need the time)”

        Well, more or less. In my part of Europe, that’s when (mandatory) health insurance kicks in – employer pays the full salary for something like 10 weeks (per individual sickness, not per year) and afterwards the health insurance keeps paying 80% (?) of your salary.

        So yeah, after several months, you get slightly less money, but in theory it’s entirely possible to be on “sick leave” for years. Although at some point I guess you’d then look into early retirement for medical reasons, but luckily I’m no expert.

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          In my part of Europe, yes you would apply for pension, but not all applications get accepted. Because of this, there are people who officially are supposed to be able to do some kind of work, but in reality nobody will hire or keep them. (It’s legal to fire a person who is permanently unable to do their job and the employer doesn’t have anything else available that they would be able to do.) These people often only get very minimal welfare money. The reason for this situation can be for example that they have several illnesses that each make a bunch of jobs impossible, and all practically existing jobs are impossible because of one of them (like, not able to stand for long times due to illness a, and not able to sit for long times due to illness b, etc.), but none of them is serious enough for retirement. No system is perfect.

    2. Jane Elliott*

      you are correct, sadly. “sick leave” is paid leave that can be used for one’s own health or specified family members’ health needs. most US workers have a limited number of such days. if you need more because you or your family is sick, you may be able to take more days unpaid. or you might be fired. the number of days varies a lot among employers.

      some jobs do not distinguish between sick days and vacation days, it’s all “paid time off” and in that case people tend to try to work through sickness so as to retain vacation time.

      yes, we know how worker-unfriendly this is.

      1. DutchCoffeeAndCookies*

        Thanks for answering! Can I ask follow up questions?
        What happens if you are sick for a longer time? Most people will not be sick a lot probably, so I can imagine it’s fine to have limited sick leave for most people. But if you have something more serious than the flu or something, like surgery or if you have long covid. Do you then need to take unpaid days? Does it depend entirely on the company? I have long covid currently and have worked half-days (not sure if that’s the right therm – I work 4 hours instead of 8 per day) the past 6 months, but I get paid my full salary. If an employee is out sick longer than ‘normal’ sick time you still get paid full if it’s one year (a doctor gets involved then – you can’t just say you’re sick for months) and 70% of your salary the second year. Is there some kind of government aid in the US that you can apply for if your sick days run out and you really have something serious?

        1. Bob’s your uncle*

          At my job, we have a sick bank (public school). You can donate a sick day when you are first hired, and the days accrue for workers who need to be out a long time.

          If you have surgery or something similar, you apply to the sick bank. This is run by our union, so your application has to be approved by the union. If the bank runs low, they ask people to donate another day. Totally optional if you want to be a part of it.

          This is not very common though (although I think it is in education because people tend to stay at the same school).

          1. DutchCoffeeAndCookies*

            Oh that’s a nice thing that they organized that! That must be at least some relief when you are unwell for a while.

        2. Redaktorin*

          FMLA leave is the government-protected leave that would apply to someone in your situation. It isn’t actually protected at all employers, though, just ones over a certain size. At a small enough business, you’d likely just lose your job. At that point you could theoretically use your short- or long-term disability insurance to bring in some income. If you were rendered permanently disabled and could no longer work, there is also a government program that’s supposed to step in, but it usually takes a couple years (my husband is a lawyer who has helped people get this last kind of aid and he says it’s always denied on the first try, as well as the second and third).

          1. Redaktorin*

            Or sorry, I think you use the disability insurance if they haven’t fired you yet and then receive unemployment pay if they have.

            Most of the people I know from school have gotten by in such situations by asking their friends for money on social media, TBH. But I was trained in a field with poor pay and benefits.

        3. marmalade*

          I’ve never used it, but you can go out on disability IF your employer offers it and you opted in, if you have to be gone longer than your accumulated sick time (I get 3.47 hours a pay period, so fairly generous). I had a coworker who had cancer (fully recovered now), and she used short term disability to get paid for all of FMLA since I’m assuming her sick time got wiped out by all the doctor appointments leading up to surgery.

        4. Sunflower*

          We have short term and long term disability that sometimes can be used (sometimes companies pay into those 100%, sometimes they don’t), or FMLA for longer term things. If you’re unable to work at all, government disability benefits exist but they definitely don’t provide a living wage and it’s super precarious. I have a friend with many autoimmune diseases that keep her from working and she can’t get married to her husband (spiritually married but not legally) because she would lose her benefits and it would saddle him with a lot.

        5. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Professional employees (white-collar, salaried) and unionized workers often have private insurance that will cover some of their salary and are more likely to work for larger companies and have access to FMLA (federal guarantee that you can keep your benefits and get your job back – but unpaid). Hourly employees (food service, less educated and ununionized workers) often have no sick time at all and can be fired the first time they are too ill too work. People with chronic illness are often just screwed. If they really can’t work at all and can navigate the nightmare system, they can get government funded disability that might be enough for food and shelter. Maybe.

          Medical costs are the most common reason for bankruptcy filing in the US. That’s a combination of inadequate medical insurance (or none at all) and the loss of income from illness because yes, you can get fired for being sick too often.

          I’m a doctor. Early in my career I had a patient who was a longtime employee of the hospital where I worked and was a mid-level manager. In January she had colon cancer – luckily caught early and treated for cure. She was off work for six weeks. In October she developed a life-threatened heart problem; she was hospitalized for a few days and off work for three weeks. So a total of nine weeks off in a calendar year. She had plenty of sick time and vacation time so she at least got paid for all of it. This was before FMLA. She was “counseled” about her “attendance issues” and essentially told that if she took any more sick time that year she would be fired.

        6. mlem*

          Some companies — very much not all of them — offer short-term and/or long-term disability coverage for extended illnesses. Short-term might be something like “up to three months unable to work”, with long-term kicking in after that point.

          My office job *used* to offer only long-term disability coverage, encouraging us to bank sick time to cover that up-to-three-months window. Within the past decade or so, they added short-term disability coverage and capped our sick-time accrual. (My company offers two weeks of sick time per year, separate from PTO, which is on the generous side if you’re looking at all jobs in the US rather than only office/tech jobs.)

          My state recently started requiring a certain minimum amount of sick time coverage — the ability to earn 40 hours per year — and a state-based version of FMLA. It’s at least a start.

        7. *kalypso*

          In Australia, you accrue sick leave which is a minimum of 10 days per year full time (and is prorated for part time) and if you’re out sick for longer than that you take accrued annual leave and then take unpaid leave. If you’re out for more than 90 days for a non-work related illness that isn’t covered by another kind of leave or job protection scheme (e.g. parental leave, award provision), your employer isn’t obliged to keep you in the role; some employers are more flexible about this than others, and some give more than the minimum required time under law.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yes, one thing that’s not often discussed is that if you have used up your sick leave in the US, you can generally take your vacation leave, which may be another two weeks or more. But most people don’t want to do that, because they want to take a fun vacation with it, understandably.

            1. Random Dice*

              Again for the Europeans, hourly workers don’t usually get any vacation time either.

              1. BubbleTea*

                Neither do hourly workers in the UK, or rather the legally mandated holiday pay is rolled into the regular pay, so unless you set some aside each month, you don’t get paid when you aren’t working.

        8. North Wind*

          A few folks have mentioned FMLA – this is unpaid, but is meant to protect your job. In order to qualify for this, the company has to be a certain size, and also you have to have been employed for at least one year with the company.

          I was recently admitted unexpectedly to the hospital and had to have surgery, and had only been employed at my current job for 3 months at that point. With the hospital stay and then recovery, I could not work for nearly 4 weeks. At my company, we have a combined bank of vacation and sick time to draw from, and it accrues over time worked. So only having been there for 3 months, I barely had any sick or vacation time.

          Short-term disability insurance doesn’t kick in until you have been away from work completely for two weeks. I thought my recovery was going better than it was, so I went back to work for a few half-days. I then realized I needed more time off, but the fact that I had worked those half-days reset the clock on the two-week no-work period.

          I was fully prepared to just be unpaid for a few weeks, but my managers were really supportive. This is where in the U.S. you just have to hope to get lucky, and I did. First, they told me not to check in on my projects or worry about my paycheck until I was fully recovered and back to work (I am salary rather than hourly, so if we did nothing I would continue to be paid as usual). They said we could back-date any paycheck-related decisions when I returned.

          When I finally did get back to work, they decided to just… shrug off the time I had been away. We did talk about it – I used the little bit of vacation/sick time I had accrued, but other than that they were fine with letting me have all that paid time off. This is an incredibly generous thing to do here in the U.S.

        9. Alex*

          I have a friend who has been very sick with a rare neurological illness for several years. She’s basically living in poverty, sleeping on her mother’s couch because she can’t afford to support herself and disability hasn’t come through yet (not that it would pay enough for her to have her own apartment AND health insurance AND food AND medicine). It really sucks. The US does not take care of its citizens.

      2. No creative name yet*

        I would also add that not all US employers offer sick leave, especially in lower paid positions; only 38 percent of the lowest paid workers had any sick leave, meaning they either work sick, or take unpaid days off if sick.

        1. Bob’s your uncle*

          Also, FMLA is not paid. It just means you can keep your job and your benefits (so, your insurance). It’s insane.

          1. TPS reporter*

            some states do mandate a certain level of pay when you’re on disability (if your employer is big enough) but if you’re not in that state you’re out of luck! you just get job protection

        2. Zzzzzz*

          There are a handful of states which mandate employers offer sick leave, and the number of days (3-7) varies based on the size of the company, and it varies as to when you can start using them (ie: after first 90 days on the job vs week one) (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Washington, D.C. have mandatory paid sick leave laws), but there is no mandatory vaca leave. Even temp agencies can offer it… and you can take 3 in a row before having to get a doc notice (perhaps not all states/may be company specific require a doc note).

          Most ppl have already commented on all things but I didn’t see (or may have missed) that in some companies–in .gov jobs–if a co-worker needs extra sick leave for long-term illness etc, one can donate yours to them. Sick leave often carries over calendar years; vaca leave can be use-it or lose-it at end of calendar year (ugh! many ppl lose out as the work culture demands they not take off); and, hrs can also be capped after a certain # of hours accrued over the years (ie 400 hrs) so in those sits, it def pays to take time off.

          AND some companies “allow” you to buy extra vaca days during open enrollment for the next calendar year of benefits (oh yes, we have to re-sign up every year, often close to the Thanksgiving holiday and given little time to consider new costs etc. before you officially decide on what will be best for you/your family in the coming year–though major fam event such as marriage, adoption, birth allows you to change those during the year, but only major life events not bc you realized it was a bad decision).

      3. Waiting on the bus*

        “if you need more because you or your family is sick, you may be able to take more days unpaid. or you might be fired.”

        Now I’m wondering: I was under the impression that you couldn’t be fired for being sick. How does that apply when you’ve run out of sick days/don’t have any? Do you as the employee have to prove that you were out because you were sick? Or does that protection only apply when it’s FMLA/you’re calling out due to a disability?

        I was under the impression that the biggest issue with few/no sick days/PTO was that people couldn’t afford to lose the pay, rather than the whole job being possibly on the line.

        1. NeutralJanet*

          If you’re out on FMLA or disability leave, you can’t be fired, but that’s the only time when you’re protected. If you’re just calling out sick, then you can be fired if you go over your allotment just because you’re missing too much work, in the same way that I imagine you could be fired if you just didn’t show up to your job for two weeks.

        2. Sloanicota*

          You can generally be fired for anything. Technically there are laws protecting disabled workers, but someone who has a run of bad luck – the flu, then back spasms, then covid – is not covered by that.

    3. Emma*

      In the US, some companies give you specified “sick days” which are supposed to be used for illness or sometimes doctors appointments. These companies would then give you additional days for personal leave (like vacations). if you use up all of your sick leave, and are still sick, you take a vacation day (but you’re not supposed to use sick days for vacation).

      At other companies, you get a fixed amount of leave, often 2-3 weeks, and you use this for both illness and vacation.

      if you’re sick more than that, sometimes you can work from home while I’ll, and other times you might be able to take unpaid leave.

      1. Recently Retired*

        With my colon cancer (surgery & chemo) while working at a major aerospace company in the U.S., the initial week was PTO, then 5 weeks of Short Term Disability (which was 80% pay). I had applied for Long Term Disability which would have kicked in next if my oncologist had thought I wasn’t ready to return to work (would have been 60% pay for 4 months, I think).
        My company had a special paid category for recurring medical procedures which I was able to use for my chemo. I had a specific number of hours (maybe 200?) that I could use over a 6-month period. This was not listed anywhere that I would have found it in my chemo-befuddled mind. I was lucky that the HR rep was on top of it.
        I’m happy to say that I’ve been cancer-free for 7 years now.

    4. Punk*

      To answer the implied underlying question here: my observation is that in many European countries, the government is way more involved in the daily doings of businesses than Americans would be comfortable with. We also have a culture of small business and entrepreneurship that wouldn’t be possible as it is under European requirements.

    5. Jay*

      Sick leave is time given to you by your company to not be at work due to heath related issues only.
      It mostly applies to white collar jobs and/or unionized jobs.
      I lived for the earlier parts of my working life in the rural South doing whatever I needed to do to get by and build enough of a resume to get out.
      I was 28 years old before I got a single paid sick or vacation day or a raise of any kind. I didn’t even get paid overtime before then (there are plenty of perfectly legal ways to do that, if you live in a state that hates it’s poor people enough, and plenty more that bosses get away with, because, well, your state hates poor people).
      I had to leave the state and move 800 miles away.
      I was one of the lucky ones.

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      Creature Feature! It’s about animals and it’s hosted by a comedian with a background in evolutionary biology.

      1. Zephy*

        +1! Katie Goldin (host of Creature Feature) is also the definitely-a-human-being behind the Twitter account @probirdrights – you could certainly do worse than spend a few of your allotted 600 tweets per day on her. No idea if she’s expanded to other socials now that Twitter is over, though.

    2. Tiny clay insects*

      How Did This Get Made? Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael discuss terrible movies. It’s hilarious.

    3. Retail Not Retail*

      Here are 3 limited series I really enjoyed – Puppy Kingpin, Sold a Story, and American Rehab (my workplace is featured in one of these)

    4. I should really pick a name*

      Our Fake History
      The host digs into how much truth there is in stories like Robin Hood, The Pied Piper, Gilgamesh & Enkidou.
      Also, goes into actual history that might be exaggerated like Elizabeth Bathory, and The Renaissance.

    5. Inkhorn*

      You’re Dead to Me – the host, a historian, and a comedian discuss a topic from history, and the comedian gets put through a pop quiz at the end.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding this–I always learn interesting new things.

        Adding Terrible Lizards, where we learn minutiae about dinosaurs. (And mesosaurs, pteranadons, etc)

    6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Vibe Check – some pop culture, some serious all fun, If Books Could Kill- reviews of popular books, Anime Sickos – two weirdos being weird

    7. Alexander Graham Yell*

      If Books Could Kill (digging into the kind of airport bookstore pop-science/psych books and why they’re terrible, actually)
      Maintenance Phase (anti-diet culture, with one of the same hosts as IBCK)
      You’re Wrong About (the stories behind the stories that US millenials grew up hearing)
      Worst Best Sellers (reading bad/overhyped popular books and talking about if they’re actually bad or not, including plot summaries, discussion, and what to read instead)
      The Financial Confessions (lots of topics, but with a financial lens)
      Ghosts in the Burbs (fiction podcast about hauntings and creepy goings-on in a small town in…Connecticut?)
      Rabbits (fiction podcast where a journalist investigates her friend’s disappearance and it’s connection to an augmented reality game called Rabbits. It’s by roughly the same people who did TANIS and The Black Tapes, which are both good but don’t end satisfactorily. Rabbits is pretty perfect, IMO.)
      Normal Gossip (pretty much what it sounds like, gossip from normal people told by the hosts – who have anonymized things, sometimes well and sometimes poorly – and told to a guest who reacts to different parts of the story)

    8. Part time lab tech*

      undercoverarchitect – Amelia Lee with a HUGE amount of information on residential home design in a friendly manner, interviews industry professionals as well. Australian and has a partnership with a US architect as well.
      Melissa Ambrossini – enthusiastic and charming interviews. Her interview with Esther Perel started me off (her monologues are little too woo woo positive for me).
      David M Puder Psychiatry Podcast

    9. Isisxotic*

      Against The Odds – stories of human survival. Each “story” is 3-5 60m episodes, digging deep into things like the Thai Cave rescue, plane crashes in the Andes, and kidnapping by pirates.

      Strong Sense of Place – a book recommendation podcast where each episode is a country/location, and they recommend 5 books that are set in that place, both fiction and nonfiction. Armchair travel at it’s best.

    10. bassclefchick*

      If you’re a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, The Rewatcher is great! Currently, they’re in season three. It’s by the hosts of Morbid. Alaina watched the show in its original run and Ash has never seen it.

      Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid. It’s about communication.

      The Soundtrack Show. Discusses the soundtracks of favorite movies and TV shows.

      Mobituaries with Mo Rocca. He discusses a a dearly departed person or thing and why they mattered. The episode I just listened to was about the death of the rural themed sitcom (Green Acres, Pettycoat Junction, Hee Haw).

    11. Dovasary Balitang*

      Most of these have probably been recced already but:

      You’re Wrong About (and its sister show, You Are Good)
      Stuff You Should Know
      How Did This Get Made?
      The Supermassive Podcast (if you’re into astronomy and astrophysics)

    12. aubrey*

      Ologies! Interviews with different experts in every field you could imagine and some you didn’t know existed. Always fascinating and usually hilarious.

    13. Moo*

      I have lately really enjoyed Normal Gossip – each episode is a gossip story about a person you will never meet (it’s something they heard about from a friend of a friend!), as a result its usually low stakes and it fulfils the part of me that loves drama but hates actual drama!

    14. LCH*

      older ones that I used to enjoy include Trust Issues (about conspiracy theories) and Oh No, Ross and Carrie (about various beliefs and belief systems, mostly non-mainstream, or major ones that are generally viewed as cultish)

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

      Apologies in advance because I have so many!

      -Couples Therapy with Andy & Naomi: one of those shows where comedians give relationship advice to callers, but a cut above because a) they start by doing sincere, in-depth, interesting interviews with their guests about the guest’s dating and mental health history, and b) they are genuinely trying to create a loving space for people to come together and talk about emotions– the jokes are there for catharsis, not to cover up feelings, if that makes sense.

      -Yo, Is This Racist?: more comedians giving sincere, serious advice! If you like the hosts even a little bit, I cannot recommend enough the subscription version of their podcast feed which allows you to access the weird, delightful, deeply wholesome miniseries “Andrew Sings”, in which host Andrew Ti (a non-singer) is taught by (professional singer) cohost Tawny Newsome how to sing a karaoke song. A bonkers premise that turns out to be such a sweet documentation of supportive friendship and facing one’s fears.

      Toasted Sister: stories and interviews with a focus on Indigenous food traditions. My favorite episodes if you want a place to start include the ones about Navajo sheep (cw that the one about the Miss Navajo pageant does focus on some specifics of butchering sheep) and the one about space chilis.

      Longform (hosts Even Ratliff, Max Linsky, Aaron Lammer): if in-depth interviews (a la Terry Gross’s Fresh Air) with unassuming smart folks is your jam, there is a plethora of exactly that here. I can’t think of a single episode that I didn’t listen to the whole way through, so basically just scroll through the back catalog until you see a name you recognize and start there. I promise you’ll soon be hooked.

      Hakai Magazine audio edition: a wealth of well-reported stories all related to ocean/aquatic ecology and human-ocean relationships. You may not think you need more Cod/Eel/Sea Lion content in your life, but I promise you do!

    16. Wink The Book*

      It is older and finished, but Liar City is a fantastic deep dive into liars, con people, and weirdos.

      What Went Wrong and You Must Remember This are my two “Hollywood gone wrong” podcasts. The first is movie-specific, while the second is longform history deep dives. I just started a relisten to YMRT for walks and am loving it.

      Too Scary Didn’t Watch is a fun podcast for people who want to know what happens in horror movies but are too NOPE to watch them.

      The Apocalist Book Club and Lit Society are my two go-to book podcasts. The first is a deep dive into extant apocalyptic fiction over time (a history of apocalyptic novels) while the second is more of a traditional book review/discussion. What makes both for me are the hosts. They are all so engaging and have lovely chemistry together.

      And as always, I will forever stan Stuff You Missed in History Class. Curious about a subject? There is likely an episode.

    17. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Teen Creeps – discussions of YA horror books
      Reading Glasses – discussions of books and things that make reading easier

    18. Angstrom*

      99 percent invisible — design
      This is Love – love stories, broadly defined
      Fast Talk — cycling training
      Radiolab

    19. RLC*

      Hidden Brain. I’m fascinated with human behavior in general, and so many episodes have helped me understand the puzzling actions of the people around me. Lots of “ah-ha!!” moments.

    20. Person from the Resume*

      Slow Burn by Slate.

      Each season is an in depth look at a historical political history I was just saying today it is so well done I enjoyed the recent season on Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas despite not being particularly interested in the topic.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Also Revisionist History (Malcolm Gladwell’s journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance) and Cautionary Tales (Tim Hartford’s podcast, telling true stories about mistakes and what we should learn from them).

    21. LastButNotLeast*

      questlove supreme is a great source of interviews with artists who have seen and done amazing things even if they aren’t hugely famous. the crew is also a fascinating group of interviewers with sincere chemistry and deep knowledge.

    22. Jay*

      -Hysteria 51, a hilarious take on the paranormal, cryptozoological, and the drunkenly robotical. If nothing else, listen to the ones on “The Business Plot” and “Starlight”. If you can imagine the people from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the Mike Years) in charge of one of those History Chanel “documentary” series on various monsters and mysteries, you would have some idea of what this show was like at it’s best. It’s fallen off a bit in the recent past with the departure of one of it’s two long time hosts, but it’s still really cool.
      -Monster Talk (The Science Show About Monsters), it’s a hard science podcast that uses monsters and the paranormal as starting points to investigate a whole host of interesting subjects.
      -Flightless Bird, a coworker turned me on to this gem. It’s the life-blog style podcast from a man from New Zealand who was stranded in the US by Covid and now lives here. It’s all about the strange, foreign things that he has had to come to terms with, such as DO NOT TRY TO HIGH FIVE THE SQUIRRELS.
      -Lions Lead By Donkeys, I don’t know if this counts as “true crime” or not, but it’s about the most absurd military blunders in history. It can get very graphic at times and has a body count higher than any true crime pod, but it’s somehow also screamingly funny. Even if you want to avoid the gruesome bits, you really HAVE to listen to the ones on Joseph Medicine Crow, Mad Jack Churchill, and the Bob Semple Tank.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Thank you to everyone who has added some of these, I’ve just added loads to my (already pretty full!) podcast list!

        I’ll add:
        The Guilty Feminist
        No Such Thing As A Fish
        We Can Be Weirdos

  16. Perihelion*

    I would like to thank the CDE this 4th, who never let holidays get in the way of their reporting deadlines.

  17. Rosie*

    I’m applying for a healthcare job that seems to be struggling for applicants as it’s in a remote location and they’ve pushed the deadline for applications out by a week. I don’t quite have the specific expertise they want but I do have relevant experience. I’m wondering if people think it’s worth a try? And if I get an interview, any ideas of questions to make sure they’re excited about me and not just filling a gap with anyone available?

    1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      I’d say that if you think you might want the job, it’s worth a try. I think the requirements are usually more like wish lists: They say “the perfect candidate meets at least these criteria” but the companies prefer to hire a not-perfect candidate over not hiring anyone.
      I’d say that if you want to make sure that the company is excited to hire you and has thought this through, make sure you get a good understanding of the job. Also, try to see where you not having the specific experience that is asked for could cause problems, and ask how they’d see that playing out in the job.
      Good luck!

    2. RagingADHD*

      It’s always worth a try.

      I’m curious, what is the importance of them being excited about you vs filling a gap? Most managers that have a tricky gap to fill are happy to find a candidate who is able and willing to do it. Just like most job seekers are happy to find a job they can do that meets their needs.

      What are you looking for beyond that?

      1. Rosie*

        Good question! I think I want to make sure my approach would be valued and that I would be a good fit for the organisation. It’s a small practice and I don’t want our relationship to be affected if I’m not quite what they’re ideally looking for.

    3. *kalypso*

      Look at the local area – what’s there, do you think you’d be happy there, do they have stuff you like to do?

      Mention in your cover letter (no more than a sentence) something about the local area that’s attractive to you.

      At interview, be prepared to answer ‘why do you want to move to remote location’; they want people who aren’t going to be miserable and running off to the city at every possible opportunity. Then ask them how engaged in the local community someone in that role needs to be, if there’s any ancillary or charity stuff that comes with the role, how the current/previous person fitted in, are there any quirks or barriers to integrating that you can prepare for, things like that. Healthcare is a bit of a weird one – depending on the exact kind of role and the location they might be all in on someone who’s happy to man the first aid tent at small town carnival event thing, they may want someone who doesn’t know anyone so they can’t be accused of being biased because their great grandparent and someone else’s great grandparent started their families not talking, they may want someone who can do that job but also everyone else’s job because if someone’s out there’s no hope of a temp, they may need someone who can subtly triage everything to make sure things are handled in the absence of specialists, and you need to feel out not just what your role is but what that role means to the community, and what may be unspoken about it. If you’ve got experience but it’s in the city, they may well look at it and go ‘well, that’s not really what it’s like here’ because in the city you can just be a healthcare grunt who specialises in x, but in Remote Location, you are healthcare person who is first port of call for everything while just happening to specialise in x, and if the latter is the case, you need to figure that out and decide if you can do it or not.

      my remote location has a lot of people who come in once a day every 3 months, so the people who are here all the time have to have a superficial knowledge of ‘can this wait 3 months or do i need to manage this now or send person to the city’ for everything that’s possibly related to their job. The sports physio also does occupational physio and neurophysio and rehab, but they’re a sports physio. The hospital closes at 10pm every night but there are no doctors after 5pm so the nurses need to be able to accurately assess whether someone needs to be sent to regional hospital with at most a phone consult. The GP surgery is expected to provide on-call support to the hospital (but currently don’t because they don’t have staff) and staff clinics in 2 more remote locations, and there isn’t a locum service that people can use for after-hours, so they also have to have someone on the not-emergency line 24/7. If there’s a community event, they’re also responsible for the first aid tent because the ambulance service is also understaffed and entirely runs on volunteers, etc. It’s very hard to get people to come here unless they are really into the specific natural environment (they really like cave diving) or have family here. Most of that isn’t told to anyone until after they’re here because people are either assigned to the surgery to get their 6 months of regional training for their degree, or think ‘it’s just a 4 hour drive to the city, I can pop off home on Friday night and come back Monday morning nbd’ and then wonder where their life went.

      1. just a random teacher*

        Thiiiiis. My first year of teaching was in a rural area with a volunteer fire department. I took the CPR/AED class at the local fire station (since a certain number of teachers in each building need to be CPR/First Aid certified in my state), and they cheerfully told me at the end of the training “if you see us on the side of the road performing CPR on someone, feel free to stop and help, since you’ve had the training now!”. There’s a lot more “if you can, you help” the further you get away from someone with enough specialists to go around. (The local loggers also pretty much cleared the roads of fallen trees immediately after the big wind storm rather than waiting for official maintenance crews to show up. They probably knew more about how to safely cut up trees anyway, and they already had the right equipment.)

        Some people appreciate living that way, and others do not. I am happier living someplace with more people so folks can specialize a little more.

    4. BethDH*

      I would try to get them to talk about what support resources and training would look like — if they don’t describe a training/onboarding that sounds feasible with your background, they don’t have a realistic idea of what it would take for you to be successful in the role. Try to get them to talk specifics, whether that’s regulatory issues, equipment, programs, etc. if they say something about “extensive documentation” and that’s it, avoid it because documentation is usually written with a particular experience level in mind so if you’re a stretch candidate you’ll likely be frustrated by it.
      Also if possible find out how long the previous person was in the role (if it was one person) or how you would work with the other people who have the role you’d be coming into. In places where the previous person was the only one doing task x and they were there a long time, there’s a good chance that few if any of the current employees can really help you or even tell how well your skill set will transfer.

      1. Rosie*

        Great point about the onboarding, thank you. It’s a new role and a small organisation which I think makes it harder to gauge!

    5. Perihelion*

      In general you should just apply, though that may be different in healthcare jobs. And, well, the goal isn’t for them to be excited about you, just for them to think you’re the best fit out of the available candidates.

    6. Anonymously Annoyed*

      Since it’s been pushed out a week, they aren’t finding what they wanted at the price they’re willing to pay (or some variation on that theme). I’ve recently hired someone who didn’t think they particularly qualified for the job, but in fact I wouldn’t have dreamed I could find someone with these particular qualifications at the salary/level I had permission to hire. One of my early-career positions was a similar thing. I didn’t have specific experience in some of the basic, easy-to-train areas, but the hiring manager saw the potential inherent to my actual experience and was thrilled to have my background available to her. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity she gave me.
      You never know what their “dream” list might look like, so definitely worth tossing your hat in the ring.

  18. Anonymous in Connecticut*

    I’ve been sent an academic survey about internet usage and work. It seems like something this group would appreciate, and I got Alison’s ok to post it in the open forum.

    The researcher asked to have it shared widely. To be statistically valid she wants over 300 responses Internationaly. Last I heard in early June, they were halfway to their goal.
    I’ll put it in a reply so it can be collapsed and skipped if you want.

    CCSU is Central Connecticut State University.

    1. Anonymous in Connecticut*

      Dear participants,

      Researchers from CCSU, including myself, are conducting research on how internet use affects one’s work.

      We are inviting you to participate. Your participation is voluntary and requires your consent. The consent form has information about our study. Please read it carefully.

      After reading the consent form, you can select “agree or do not agree.” If you agree, you will be directed to the survey. It will take about 10 minutes to complete the survey. If you do not agree, you will be automatically signed out.

      Work Related Survey
      https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nisIrSZYgU6ZvDa2rGLpmto6y_p7XGdiFqYJ5qUy1mA/viewform?ts=647dc8a4&edit_requested=true

      Thank you very much for your time.

      Best,

      Tuyen Ho
      Weihong Ning, Ph.D.
      Ying Chen, Ph.D.
      Joo Eng Lee-Partridge, Ph.D.
      Yinfei Chen, Ph.D.

    2. Venus*

      I did the first few pages and it was about how I dress and how tired I am. I’m sorry to say that I gave up after the first couple pages.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        I started but stopped and cleared my answers after the first few incredibly non-inclusive questions. Poor Tuyen, you need WAY better advising on survey construction.

    3. Frozen Berries*

      You say they want international responses, but the form gives only US options for responses e.g. grade levels for education. And it requires you to select from binary gender options – no nonbinary, no write in, not even an “other” option.

      I did not get past page one.

  19. Irish Teacher*

    Just wanted to mention a sort of…green flag I witnessed last week. I’m currently correcting the State exams and at our conference last week, one of the other examiners disclosed autism in the context of finding it difficult to hear all the instructions because of different groups talking simultaneously (we were divided into groups and there were three or so in each room) and our advising examiner agreed that it was distracting and told her to put it in the report we have to write at the end.

    I mean nothing happened that shouldn’t be the norm, but it was the first time I heard autism being mentioned casually like that in a work context.

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

      That’s awesome! I love how the generations that are coming up are so open and accepting about various types of neurodivergence and mental health issues. It makes the world a better place for all of us, I feel.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        Hi Random!

        I love that, too.

        Regarding neurodivergence, I had intended to respond to your comment in the June 23 open thread (recommending Michelle Garcia Winner’s book, Curiously Social, Socially Curious) but didn’t reply before that thread closed.

        I wanted to say that I got Curiously Social at a library, liked it, and found another one by Winner that I liked even better. It’s been published several times with various titles but with the same contents:
        Social thinking at work: why should I care?, 2011
        Good intentions are not enough, 2016
        Social thinking at work: Good intentions are not enough, 2022

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      That’s so nice that it happened. I did not know that it was a part of being autistic. I have trouble hearing at times esp when there are multiple conversations going on, and certain sounds tend to make me feel aggravated – not sure if it’s at the level of misophonia, but this is interesting.

      1. Zephy*

        Audio processing-related disabilities can be part of the autistic experience, yes. Sensory integration issues in general are common.

  20. gsa*

    What music are you listening to?

    Me, MTV Classics.

    Look up “Sum 41”. And their song “”Fatlip”

    I am currently down the rabbit hole of reggae.

    1. londonedit*

      If you like reggae, a friend of mine does a show on a Thursday evening, 6-8pm UK time, on Duggystone Radio, which can be found on Mixcloud (you can also listen again if you can’t tune in live).

    2. Siege*

      Folk metal and other fusion genres from around the world! Currently listening to Bloodywood’s Gadaar.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Storming through the party like my name was El Nino! Loved that song lol.

      The past couple months I’ve been mostly listening to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. So good.

    4. Professor Plum*

      “Nostalgic oldies for my declining mental sanity” is a playlist on Spotify that I enjoy.

    5. LCH*

      as far as MTV classics go, i want to make a project of listening to everything on the 120 Minutes lists.

    6. Amber Rose*

      A mix of Sabaton, Jonathon Young doing metal covers of non-metal songs, video game soundtracks and comedy music.

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      Bollywood compilation video ‘albums’ on YouTube. The annual greatest hits collections from Zee Music Company are the best! They keep me moving and boogeying through dusting, washing dishes, etc. Happy, fun, lively music, and because I don’t speak Hindi, they never become real ear worms that haunt me. Love them!

    8. Potatoes gonna Potate*

      Man nothing makes me feel older than something I saw/listened to in real time is considered classic/oldies.

      1. Potatoes gonna Potate*

        To answer the question last I was listening to was 60s music. At the very moment, cocomelon lol.

        Side note I’ve slowly been going through the “decades” playlists through the fruit music app and it is mind boggling to me that I can listen to something that was recorded and released 100+ years ago.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I visibly winced the first time I heard Alanis Morrissette referred to as “the music of yesteryear” :-P

    9. Clear*

      I found 1960s and ’70s grocery store muzac on YouTube. So relaxing and comforting.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I mostly listen to film scores and have been in kind of a rut there, so I try to listen to something new now and then. My favorite discovery in recent years has been the Mongolian folk metal band The Hu — they sing in their native language and also incorporate throat singing, something I really enjoy even though I have no cultural connection to it whatsoever. I’m not generally a metal fan either, but they are mega talented and I love them. In fact, they’re coming here in September and I got a ticket — I could not be more excited!

    11. Double A*

      My friend introduced me to the app Music League, where you create playlists based on different themed and then vote on the songs. This means I’m listening to a huge variety of music and I’m loving it because my love of music has been kind of dormant since I had kids. I’ve been going down a variety of rabbit holes depending on the league. Right now I’m trying to dig up deeper 80s dance cuts and am exploring French surf rock.

      You do need Spotify to play.

    12. Lbd*

      I have to travel out of town regularly, and take a handful of CDs to play something I can sing along to, when I am out of range of radio stations. Last trip, I forgot to pack any CDs, so stopped a picked up a couple at a small roadside store. They were ‘Best of…” albums, but I couldn’t check the play list as they were locked up. I suspect that maybe they were ‘Best of’ what the CD producers could get the rights for on the cheap. On the trip back, I stopped at a different store, where I discovered a whole raft of dusty used CDs, $2 each or 3 for $5. Who can resist a bargain like that?! I got a Leonard Cohen CD, a Carolyn Arends one, and the sound track for O Brother Where Art Thou, which is what is now playing in my car. So great for singing along to! And how creepy ‘You Are My Sunshine’ is if you really listen to the lyrics! (First time for me to hear that creepiness rather than just a charmingly inoffensive little song was hearing the Dead South’s version a couple of years back).
      At home, Youtube popped up Alice Cooper as King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar. Love his interpretation of Herod! And it lead me to Tim Minchin as Judas. I am now hunting down as many videos of him playing/singing the role as I can find. He really owns that role!

  21. Managerista*

    My partner and I will be in DC for a day next week. We leave at 4 pm. We have lunch worked out, but I’m looking for suggestions on things to do. Normally we walk around a lot just checking out neighborhoods but I expect it will be hot and steamy. They are not into museums (although the Spy Museum was tolerated.) Any ideas for not-first-timers appreciated!

    1. Grits McGee*

      What sorts of things would they be interested in? Would walking around outdoors around the mall and monuments be ok, or is that too museum-y? What types of neighborhoods do you enjoy exploring?

    2. Washi*

      Kayaking on the Potomac? It’s a unique way to see the river adjacent monuments and nice in hot weather!

      The Kenilworth aquatic gardens might feel a little more breezy than the rest of the city and I believe the lotuses may still be blooming.

      Biking sometimes feels less sticky than walking because you have the breeze, and the canal path is lovely and mostly shady this time of year.

    3. DC*

      Maybe look into taking a water taxi from the Wharf to Old Town Alexandria? I’m not sure how much it costs but being out on the water for a bit could be nice, and Old Town is a fun area to walk around with a fair number of cute shops and restaurants you could go into to cool off. It also has a path along the water so if there’s a breeze that could be pleasant. Old Town Books is a great little indie bookstore there.

      If you’ve never been to the National Cathedral, it has some small but pretty gardens and a short wooded walking path, plus a cafe on the grounds. Very nice for a picnic.

      If you haven’t been to the zoo, depending on when you go it could be crowded but it’s free, some of it is shady, and Rock Creek Park is right there too if you enjoy walks in the wood. Not sure about this summer but in the past I remember there being a few sprinklers for cooling off.

      Enjoy your visit!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with Old Town. Or Georgetown. Both near the water (though Old Town has more immediate access points) and with shops you can duck into. Navy Yard too– I love walking in Navy Yard across the bridge, though shops are fewer and further between. Navy Yard has some really nice spots to sit along the water.

    4. Managerista*

      Clarification! While we normally enjoy strolling neighborhoods, I don’t function well in the heat. Ideas for cooler or air conditioned places that aren’t museums?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Not really. :) Museums are our thing here. There are plenty of restaurants and movie theaters, but what we do well are museums. The Portrait Gallery has a beautiful courtyard, the Building Museum is a great space, the National Gallery of Art has an incredible store. But in DC proper, the indoor spaces that people gather in are museums. You can do some house tours, but those are… museums. All of the Smithsonian museums are free so you’re not obligated to go around to the exhibits if you just want a space to cool off.

      2. new year, new name*

        Right across the river in Arlington, one of the tall commercial buildings has a free observation deck (you just need to bring your photo ID to get past security). I believe it’s the highest-up publicly accessible point in the immediate DC area, so you can see everything, and it’s basically on top of the Rosslyn metro station so it’s super easy to get to. It’s called The View of DC – just call ahead to make sure they’re open that day because they’re sometimes closed for private events.

      3. CityMouse*

        You could go shopping, I guess. Like would going to Georgetown and popping in and out of stores be enough to escape the heat? DC proper doesn’t really have a lot of true malls.

      4. carcinization*

        There’s a really nice Basilica (of the Immaculate Conception, I believe) that my husband and I took a bus to when we were honeymooning in DC. It is not a museum and is air-conditioned. We are not Catholic but still thought it was quite beautiful.

      1. CityMouse*

        I had this same thought. The Georgetown canal boat tour just reopened.

        National Cathedral might work too.

        It kinda depends on where your lunch is as well. Near the Mall is, for obvious reasons, super museum heavy.

    5. Longtime DC-area resident*

      A few non-museum options right downtown:
      Gardens: The US Botanic Garden, near the Capitol, is always interesting. There are indoor and outdoor gardens, including one across Independence Avenue, so options even if it’s hot. There are other smaller gardens between museum buildings on that side of the Mall, notably around theMuseum of the American Indian and the Enid Haupt garden behind the Smithsonian Castle.
      For the best view of the monuments, go up The Old Post Office tower at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave, run by the National Park Service. The building was for a time a Trump hotel, but was finally sold (so I recently revisited after staying away for years). The entrance is in the back. This is an open air tower, though there are wires to keep the pigeons out; I think the view is even better than the one from the Washington Monument.
      Have fun!

      1. Longtime DC-area resident*

        I know you said no museums, but check out the National Building Museum online — it may be of interest. The building itself is spectacular, and docent-led tours, if you can catch one, have been uniformly excellent even though very different depending on the docent. I just heard on the radio that their special summer exhibit is open.

    6. Kelly Kapoor*

      I know you said no museums, but as AvonLady Barksdale pointed out, museums are kinda our thing. One non-traditional fun museum is Planet Word, which has free tickets you can reserve online before you go. It’s very interactive and all about language. It’s a very non-museumy way to spend 2-3 hours in an air-conditioned museum. (It’s gross here today. AC is your friend.)

  22. some_coder*

    I just want to leave some greetings here for our fellow AAM-readers. Greetings from Chemnitz (Germany). Enjoy your holiday.

    1. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Greetings from south germany! (My village is too small for anyone to know it.)

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Thanks from Phoenix! I have always found this holiday strange and I’ve never done anything to celebrate it. It’s also 116 degrees F today. Do you have an Independence Day you celebrate?

      1. Anima*

        Hi from southwestern Germany (again!).
        We do not have an Independence day (countries around us like I believe Poland have those, celebrating not being under German rule anymore, and rightfully so), but we do have Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Day of German Unity) which is the closest to a national holiday I can imagine for Germany. Historically we mustn’t celebrate anything else… Gosh I sometimes wish I was from another country.

        1. amoeba*

          I mean, that is the German national holiday! And a nice thing to celebrate as well. Quite happy to have one that’s not so tied up with patriotism… Although it’s not generally celebrated at all by people.
          In Switzerland, we have just at some point decided that we need a national holiday and set it to a specific date – August 1st, because I guess that’s just a nice season for a day off? There’s fireworks and stuff. Also the day after my birthday, so I love it. No specific thing to celebrate except the federation itself, I guess. (No independence day here – we’ve never been part of anywhere else!)

  23. 2023 Got Better*

    I was rear ended and my beloved Fit destroyed in Feb. Kicked off months of misery and anxiety and stress. But last week, my lawyer settled my case for the maximum policy limits! I had to use my uninsured motorist coverage since the other driver had very little.

    It took just about a month, after all the medical treatment was done, for her to work her magic. I cannot imagine how she did it but I’m grateful.

    1. Stevie Budd*

      Aw, I’m sorry that happened but glad you had a good resolution. My beloved Fit was rear ended last June and totalled. Just shy of 200k miles. I still miss it.

      1. 2023 Got Better*

        I’m so sorry! the event itself is awful and painful. Also there’s just something special about Fits. mine had 178k miles but you could still tell its quality.

        1. TX Lizard*

          I’m at 181 and starting research on crossovers, since they stopped making Fits here. My lil rollerskate does her best, but she also needs a $4k catalytic converter :( Fits are the best, hands down.

          1. 2023*

            I couldn’t agree more! First time I sat in mine, I knew – this was MY CAR! I am not a car person either. She deserved better than to be crunched like that, now sitting in some salvage yard waiting to be picked apart by mechanical vultures. I know just about every car ends up that way, but she had a lot of life left.

  24. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

    July 4 was also my favorite grandfather’s birthday, and honestly that meant a lot more to me. So happy 111th, Granddad – you will remain in my memory as long as my memory remains. We all miss you terribly.

  25. Green Mug*

    Has anyone who owned a house in the States taken a 2-year contract job overseas? What did you do with your house? My husband is considering an overseas position. I’m trying to think through the logistics of leaving the country for two years. Any advice for me is welcome.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Is it an accompanied position? Depending on the who, what, and where it may or may not be, especially for “only” two years.

      I’ll use a family example that hopefully has some bits of advice for you. My husband was headhunted for a private security start up in the middle east. The salary sounded very generous, until we looked at the currency exchange rate, and then totaled up private school there (kids would have been required to attend the local American School due to language barrier), local cost of living, and continuing to pay our mortgage and all associated expenses here. There was so little wiggle room in the salary he was quoted we weren’t even sure we’d be able to afford plane tickets home for vacations (generous vacation time) or when he was ready to leave the role.
      He would have needed a salary close to double what was offered to make it actually work for us, and that was with local housing and a car provided as benefits.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      Our kid and their family are living in a rental home (in the US) that belongs to a couple who are posted overseas for work. The owners hired a property management firm who listed it online and vetted applicants, collect rent, arrange for repairs, etc. Originally it was just supposed to be for one year, but the owners’ time abroad has been extended and they’ve renewed the lease. The owners’ furniture is in storage. Property managers usually take a percentage of the rent as their fee – depends on the area but maybe 10 – 20% or so? – and the rest goes to the owners as income toward their mortgage and tax/insurance costs. Owners get billed for any repairs needed during the lease term; our kid/family pay their own utilities and are required by the lease to keep the yard mowed and generally neat.

      We also have friends in academia who took sabbatical recently and rented out their home furnished, again through a property manager, while they were away. They live near a major university so there’s always demand for housing both permanent and temporary.

      1. OtterB*

        I am in the DC area where a lot of people go overseas for varying lengths of time. A friend who just retired from the State Department had leased her house through a properly management firm as Indolent Libertine describes and so have people in my neighborhood.

    3. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I have a sibling who moved overseas for a year – spouse got a research grant and they had young kids at the time so the whole family moved for a year. They rented out their house during that time. I’m pretty sure they worked with a local real estate office that had experience handling rental properties. The house was rented out furnished, but if I remember correctly, they moved some things up to the attic, which was locked and which the tenants did not have access to. If you decide to rent out your house, I would suggest having the property manager arrange for periodic inspections so they can check for major damage.

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

      My folks rented out their house for a year while my dad got a job overseas. If you live near a university, you might want to see if they have any visiting lecturers or something who’d want to rent for a year.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      My in-laws did this working for USAID and would rent the US house.

      An important practical aspect is that you need someone who can handle the upkeep, or a plan for how they will alert you and you will fix it from afar. Like one of their renters didn’t mow because the tall dry grass looked so beautiful, but it’s a big fire hazard.

    6. SeaCow*

      I moved overseas 12 years ago from the Midwest. Initially, I had all of the things–house, car, pet, etc. and had just under 2 months to figure out what to do with it all for a 2 year contract.
      Sold the car.
      Rented my home fully furnished, and found a property management company to maintain the home/lease. Put certain valuables in a storage area on my property and did not have issues with it.
      Best friend took my cat. (If you have pets make sure to thoroughly read what you need to do to take your pet to that specific country–it is often a lot of paperwork and fees).
      Ended up staying overseas and taking another position…and then another. I ended up selling my home after 6 years away, and realizing that I was not going to return.
      If you are moving into a furnished home overseas, then I recommend just taking a few household “can’t live without” items, as I had to manage the move myself and wish I had taken less overseas to begin with.
      I do not recommend thinking ‘what if’ in deciding to stay longer and what to do with your home and its contents—take it one contract at a time (if you can).
      Sidenote: make sure to find someone in your state that knows how to do taxes for expats, as you still have to file every year.
      Good luck on your awesome adventure!

  26. Humble Schoolmarm*

    I know we had a discussion a few weeks back about how disruptive treadmill desks are in a meeting and the consensus was that it wasn’t obtrusive. Alas, I’m in the middle of a course and the prof is using a treadmill desk constantly and the whoosh whoosh is driving me a little bit crazy, sorry happy walkers.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got one shortly after that discussion and nobody can hear it – we record some of our meetings, so I asked specifically and they wouldn’t have been saying so just to be polite, and I also confirmed after the fact that it is not audible on the recordings. So maybe your prof got a bad one or is walking too fast :) (My sweet spot is 1.5mph – faster than that and I can still type/mouse but my monitors shake.)

    2. Waiting on the bus*

      Our CEO has a new treadmill desk and the rumble is driving me *crazy* in the morning.

      I come into the office at 7am to get my day started without anyone around, as I’m really anti-people in the morning. By getting up and in this early I ensure I’ve mellowed out enough to be fit for polite society.

      Our C-suite all share one big office, which is adjacent to the open plan section of our office where I work. To be conscious of the other people sharing the office, our CEO comes in between 7am-7.30am to get some time in on the treadmill before the others arrive at about 9am. He closes the office door to their office so not to bother me with the noise, but the low rumble of the machine carries through the walls and it’s at the exact pitch to drive me up the wall and at the exact time in the morning when I’m most aggravated by stuff like this.

      I want to claw my ears off every time the treadmill starts up in the morning.

    3. Nervous Nellie*

      I have a compact elliptical bike thingie at my desk, and I just don’t cycle during video meetings. One colleague told me it was distracting to see me very slightly bobbing about, so I just use it when working alone. On a good day with only one meeting, I get in about 5 miles. Pretty decent, and the one I have is truly silent, so noise is not an issue. If it was noisy, I think it would not bother me though, as I would be causing the noise. Your prof on the treadmill is causing noise your ears can’t filter against. I sympathize! How annoying. You are paying for an education, not to watch the prof get in a workout. I wonder if there is a way to present even anonymous feedback to the prof or the department about this? Cheering for you!

  27. I am being eaten alive*

    Home cures for mosquito bites please.
    All the “go away” sprays etc trigger my asthma.
    I react badly to them 2 to 3 inch welts for days.
    I take Benedryl when I can but it makes me tired and stupid and I can’t work (and I am on deadline this week)
    I am driven to distraction.
    I have anti itch sticks, benedryl gel, Bactine , lidocaine. Ice. Heat.
    please, please, please help!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Are you able to take Allegra, Zyrtec, or Claritin? I have taken either Allegra or Zyrtec for seasonal allergies for years and they don’t make me drowsy (YMMV)– they have the added benefit of making me completely itch-free from mosquitoes. If you’ve never tried any of them, this may not be the time, but if you’re that uncomfortable it might be worth a shot.

      Barring that, have you tried old-fashioned calamine lotion? Or an Aveeno oatmeal bath?

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        I would second calamine lotion. It’s old school but it works for me (and I’m very reactive to mosquito bites). You’ve got to use a cotton ball/pad or paper towel to really blot the lotion onto the bite, but if I can get a good coating over the entire irritated surface it seems to calm things down pretty quickly.

        I feel you, I have mosquitoes’ preferred blood type and dread their peak activity time every year.

    2. JustaRando*

      Google the “hot spoon method for mosquito bites.” We used it on my son when he was little.
      Alternate with ice packs.

      1. some_coder*

        alternatively you can look for “bite away”. its a small device. i used it in the past and i think its better because the heat is better controlled and never too hot nor too cold.

      2. Chrissssss*

        You can also blow your bite with a hairdryer. It itches more and more while blowing the bite, but then you can cool it down.

        JustaRando’s advice is better, but for the meantime you can use the hairdrier.

    3. HannahS*

      I used to get 8-inch welts from mosquito bites so I feel your pain. For me, there were only two things that worked:

      1. Ammonia-based After-bite. I don’t know if they still make it. It was a thin fluid that smelled like nail polish remover. If I managed to get it on the bite before the wound closed, it would sting and then i wouldn’t get the huge reaction.

      2. Anti-histamines. All caveats about this not being medical advice for you, but I found that taking over-the-counter Claritin or Reactine or similar helped take from unbearable to bearable.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Over-the-counter cortisone cream. Aveeno/oatmeal bath in lukewarm or cool water. Allegra/Claritin/Zyrtec in the morning, Benadryl at night, and Pepcid (famotidine) twice a day. Pepcid is an anti-histamine that hits a different set of receptors and is a great adjunct for itchiness.

      For prevention – expensive and totally worth it – do a Google search for Biogents mosquito traps. We have them in our yard and I can actually be outside without being bitten. And so can my husband, who is a mosquito magnet.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      “The Bug Bite Thing” is a plastic suction device. You need to use it as soon as you notice the bite and BEFORE you scratch it. It helps significantly.
      In cases where you’re kinda too late and already scratched it and spread the irritant around: witch hazel. Soak a cotton ball or disc and wipe it. Repeat as needed.
      Neither of these will completely solve it, but potentially looking at changing 2″ welts that bug you for a week to .25″ welts that bug you for 48 hours.

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

        I had a student recommend Bug Bite Thing very warmly!

    6. Meh*

      I use an anti-itch and numbing cream from Walgreens. I used to take benadryl but then I learned about the long term effects of it and it’s a nope (the second generation antihistamines don’t have the same problems – Claritin, zyrtec, etc)

    7. Waiting on the bus*

      Seconding the hot spoon method in general. Though I’m not sure of that works with the welts you’re describing.

      1. Slinky*

        I was just going to say this. I’ve also had good experiences with white vinegar. It might make you smell like a salad but way better than itching.

    8. Helvetica*

      Old school Eastern European is just to dab it with vodka. I assume any spirit with high enough alcohol content would do, to dry it and relieve the itching sensation.

      1. Hatchet*

        Yes! I stumbled onto the vodka treatment for mosquito bites (and bug bites in general) years ago and it works so well! My work friendly alternative is to use 91% isopropyl alcohol instead. Every time I wanted to itch, I’d dab the bite with a cotton ball gently soaked in alcohol. Highly recommended!

    9. Longtime Lurker*

      Not reliable but always available – make an X with your thumbnail on it. Dig in pretty deep for longer lasting results!

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

      I am super sensitive to mosquito bites and I find that plain old dish soap (something aggressive like Palmolive or Dawn– the more eco-friendly branded ones don’t seem to do the trick as well) helps a tons. Put a big glop of it on your dry skin where the bite is, lather up, let it sit a bit (I usually only have patience for 20-30 seconds, not, like, 5-10 minutes, but maybe longer helps?) and rinse off. It really helps lessen the itch and welting, and if I then apply some sort of anti-itch salve after (I’m partial to a camphor-based one I got in Thailand that reminds me of tiger balm), the symptoms go away pretty fast.

    11. Wink The Book*

      Warm a spoon under scalding water to the point of ALMOST too hot, then press against the bite. Repeat 2-5x until itching stops. The injected enzyme/venom is heat-averse and you can reduce the itchiness dramatically. They even sell mosquito bite targeted heat guns online.

      I am delicious to mosquitos and do recommend.

    12. Courageous cat*

      Put scotch tape on each bite. It takes maybe 15-30 minutes to work but once it does, it’s great.

    13. Jm*

      Have you tried Accent meat tenderizer ? Wet the spot and rub some on, or make a little paste

    14. anxiousGrad*

      Right after you get the bite, put salt on it (if you put some water on the bite first, the salt will stay on). I know it sounds weird but it’s been working for my family for generations!

    15. Cheshire Cat*

      First, wash the bite with soap and water as soon as you notice it, and don’t scratch it (that part is hard, but scratching drives the itchy stuff deeper). Then dab it with calamine lotion or Listerine. I’ve never used other brands of mouthwash, so I’m not sure if they’d work. Use a cotton swab if you use Listerine; depending on the color it can stain your fingers if you use a cotton ball. Ask me how I know!

    16. M*

      I have bad reactions to mosquito bites as well, and recently it’s gotten bad enough that I had to go to urgent care because it was so far beyond normal or tolerable, so I’ve been dealing with this lately. (Ultimately the only thing that solved my reactions when they got that out of control was prednisone but if I catch it early with the below stuff then it’s OK.)

      My best topical is triamcinolone which is a steroid that I am prescribed for another skin condition, but it works well on mosquito bites. If you don’t have a prescription strength steroid then hydrocortisone cream/ointment might be helpful. All other topical lotions and things are totally useless to me.

      Taking Allegra and Pepcid together also gives me peace for about 6 hours at a time but it makes me quite foggy (not as much as Benadryl) and it wears off before you’re allowed to take it again, in my experience, but your metabolism might be different.

      It’s a shame about not being able to use bug spray because in my experience the best thing for it is to not get mosquito bites at all. I try to wear covering clothing when I’m working in my yard or going into nature. I know it’s hot but a linen or light cotton jacket and pants that are a little roomy in the legs are pretty comfortable for me, and much more so than getting bitten and having a rash. Plus it protects you from the sun. Good luck!

    17. Girasol*

      In the preventive category, I’ve read great things that arctic hikers say about permethrin. You can buy permethrin infused clothing, which doesn’t have a particular smell so maybe it wouldn’t trigger your asthma, or you can spray your own clothing with the stuff and let it dry and then put it on. It lasts through laundering. If you’re getting bitten just sitting outdoors, you might consider a pop-up chair shelter. My husband had a bad mosquito allergy. He spent a lot of time hanging out with the guys on summer evenings and he swore by his little screened chair shelter.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      There’s this stuff called Chigarid that’s meant for chiggers but it works on mosquito bites too. I can’t get through summer without it.

    19. MissCoco*

      Try a 2nd generation anti-histamine, they are typically about as effective as Benadryl, with far fewer side effects. An allergist once told me his preference is Zyrtec for skin stuff (but it was in the context of him telling me to switch from Zyrtec due to itchy skin, so obviously this is person-dependent).
      I’ve never had great luck with topical benadryl, but it is probably better than nothing.
      I have had the best luck with an ointment called Chiggerex. It’s benzocaine with some other stuff, including peppermint oil.

      Depending on bite location, covering it with something so it’s not being itched or rubbed by your clothes/joints can help immensely because it helps shut down the cycle of histamine release. That really depends on where it is though, and if you can get something secured over it that won’t slip around and also itch the bite.

  28. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles*

    Does anyone else see the “America origin story” as roughly analogous to Festivus?

    – The Declaration of Independence was an Airing of Grievances.

    – The Revolutionary War was a Feat of (Military) Strength.

    – All through it, there was a flag on the Festivus Pole.

    1. Jim Bob*

      Just have to say you’ve made my day. Never looking at the Fourth the same way again :D

  29. Mary Quite Contrary*

    I work for a school district. We recently had reviews. My manager marked me down for not communicating enough (even though he NEVER answers my emails, calls, or texts) and he said that he wanted me to be in charge when he is not there. I’m not a manager. There’s nothing in my job description that says that I am to perform any part of his job. (His job is newly created and didn’t even exist when I started in my position.) Plus he never told me that I had to be in charge when he wasn’t around. There’s another manager in our department-wouldn’t it be her?

    We both have the same boss, but the boss takes my manager’s side so it’s 2 against one, so I feel that it’s pointless to argue anything. I feel like they don’t communicate clearly at all- they either yell at you to do things, expect you to read their minds and just do it, are sneaky about it and go around the issue, etc.

    I’m applying to other jobs, so until I can leave, how do I deal with this?

    1. LNLN*

      Your manager sounds ridiculous. I would be tempted to practice malicious compliance. Overcommunicate, make decisions when you are “in charge,” make lots and lots of suggestions for “improvements.” Good luck job searching!

    2. just a random teacher*

      If you’re unionized, talk to your union rep, particularly about being expected to do things not in your job description and that may be out of scope for your job classification. Even if not unionized, if you’re in a place where job descriptions are generally pretty rigid it may be something you can raise with HR. Every school district I’ve worked in has been pretty rigid about these things, but I’m in a heavily unionized area so it may be different other places.

  30. PhyllisB*

    I mentioned in the weekend thread that my daughter from IL. was coming for a visit. She’s here, and it’s great!! She’s decided she wants to move closer to family ( but not back here.)
    One area she’s considering is Tennessee. Can anyone recommend a good place in Tennessee that has reasonable cost of living and good job prospects?
    Or somewhere else further South? Give me your best suggestions.

    1. Jim Bob*

      The big cities are all rapidly becoming unaffordable re: housing (Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga), but are still the best for job prospects. Suggest she look at a suburb a little ways out or look at available jobs in second-tier cities.

    2. Jarissa*

      I have friends who live in a small town in the vicinity of Lawrenceburg, in southwestern TN.

      On the plus side:
      It’s hilly and quiet.
      They do have seasonal variety in the weather and in what sort of wild critters might be strolling across the nearest rural route or even one’s front yard. (Deer, turkeys, foxes, the occasional coyote family, and the rare Bovine Escape Artist Of Unusual Size.)
      They like the quiet, and they are not more than 40 minutes’ drive away from large grocery stores and other supplies.

      On the minus side:
      Tennessee Valley pollen can be as bad as Mississippi pollen, and the allergy season may last from late January through mid October.
      A lot of areas have no cellular coverage, and local internet service providers range in quality and throughput from “I can work at home or I can play a MMO at a reasonable frame rate” down to “why does the internet go out for the entire weekend every time it rains on a Friday?”, so talk to the neighbors about their experience before making an offer on a house or signing a lease.
      Also, Tennessee bridges have featured in a lot of horrifically bad news reports over the last few years … and I have seen no reports that the problem has been seriously tackled, much less that any progress was made. At best, any home needs to have the storage for survival supplies in case one’s home is cut off from all groceries until a semi truck can find a safe route around the rivers.

    3. Random Dice*

      I’m assuming she knows about the Tennessee laws that were / will be passed? I wouldn’t move into that state for anything.

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        Yeah, if your daughter is child-bearing age she might want to think twice about most of the South (and it pains me to say that, having lived most of my life in the South).

  31. I can’t believe I watched the whole thing*

    I have a question for anyone knowledgeable about marketing or advertising generally. It’s about a pet peeve of mine about commercials, especially ads that repeat on streaming services. (perhaps this is appropriate to the holiday as an Airing of Grievances?)

    My question is whether there is any research, or even rule of thumb practice, regarding when an advertisement starts to have the opposite effect when it is over exposed or too saturated. Example: see an ad for a burger restaurant once a day, at the right time, it makes you want a burger. (Or, makes some percentage of audience want a burger.) Maybe it increases effectiveness if it is seen 5 or 10 times a day. But at some point, it makes people less inclined to want a burger. For me, somewhere around 50-100 times a day, it not only makes me not want a burger, it makes me want to run screaming from the room at any mention of said burger joint. When it goes on day after day, it might be years before I darken the door of that place again, if ever.

    My question is: is this effect is studied by advertisers? If it even exists? (Maybe it’s just me?) Not just diminishing returns with frequency, but a tipping point when ROI is negative? Isn’t there some way to set the exposure to an ad to the most effective/least irritating amount?

    (Can you tell I am at BEC stage with certain advertisers? Yes, over advertisers, I am never ever going to buy your product.)

    TL:dr: what’s the deal with endless repeating ads that make the viewer want the thing being advertised less, instead of more?

    1. sagewhiz*

      I have no clue but feel your pain! I will never ever NEVER buy Liberty Ins bc the constantly repeating ads are so damned annoying!

    2. Siege*

      I don’t know if it’s studied, but I might kick that question to our lobbyist; he’s worked extensively on stuff like this, and he’s my go-to when we had an internal argument about the failure to complete rate for forms that ask for too much info (ie, address to sign a petition).

      In the meantime, I will never, ever play Royal Match or take a Viking cruise, so I assume the effect does exist.

      1. MJ*

        Agree about Royal Match, though I do get some amusement from *their* longer than usual ads that promote they have “no ads” in-game.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes oh my lord. And now the new one with the girl talking about how awesome the game is and then she is just terrible at it. Ugh.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I won’t play that either because I don’t like games where it’s a race against time or the character dies.

    3. Ad Effectiveness*

      So… I’ve worked in ad effectiveness research for much of my career. For the biggest chunk of my career when I was studying these things, repetition didn’t come up a whole lot, but that was mostly because we were focusing on the ads/integrations themselves AND because we were dealing mostly in linear TV (i.e. not streaming) where the traffic issues are different. Traffic is really where the trouble is– connected TV (these streaming services you’re seeing these ads on, like Peacock) is still uncharted in a way. Targeting (the way advertisers traditionally have decided in which shows/dayparts to place their ads) is not the same in digital as it is in linear; the ability to truly target is coming, but it’s not as developed as it is in linear, nor can anyone agree on the best way to do it. I’m not well versed in how connected TV places/traffics their ads, but my understanding is that it’s more automated than it is/used to be in linear. There are a lot of factors and hands that go into placing an ad, and with connected TV, I’d be very surprised if it’s even possible for an advertiser (or, rather, its agency, because the agency is doing the planning and buying) to set limits to avoid overexposure. At this point anyway– the technology is changing and getting more refined every day.

      Caveat to all of the above: I haven’t worked for a network in many years and a LOT has changed in a short time.

      When it comes to the research… there are syndicated studies that address repetition in TV ads on a macro level and on an ongoing basis, but I personally haven’t done or seen research on the ROI around a particular ad and its repetition. Mostly because studies like that are expensive and advertisers are putting their dollars into different projects, including different research projects. When people stop buying, especially if they bought a lot in the prior year, there will likely be some investigation as to why. But a lot of that type of work is reactive rather than proactive.

      I have also worked in radio, and repetition is studied in radio, but that’s around a music library rather than advertising. Adjusting a music library is a process, but ultimately it’s pretty straightforward. Advertising traffic is a lot more complex and involves many more moving parts.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I’m not an expert in this, but I would guess that even with targeted ads, the level of control is not so granular as “show each individual this ad up to X times per day.” The advertiser is paying the platform for X ad views total, across their target audience, within a certain timeframe. Maybe they can estimate how many members of the target audience they expect to use that platform in that timeframe, but they can’t really know so they’re probably just paying for as many views as are in the budget.

      If you’re seeing the same ad 50+ times a day, I’m guessing that’s across different platforms — the platforms aren’t talking to each other in real-time about which ads you’re seeing. Even if you mean marathoning on one platform, I can see that too…they want to reach as many people in the target audience as possible, including the people watching 1 short episode, so if they can afford 1 or 2 views per ad break they’ll buy that.

      1. Indolent Libertine*

        I’ve started consistently seeing what I’m calling the “commercial sandwich,” by which I mean 30-second commercial A, followed by 30-second commercial B, followed immediately by a repeat of 30-second commercial A. This happens waaaaay too often for it to be accidental, so in these cases they must be paying for that specific type of placement.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Lord, do I feel this. I watch MeTV every Saturday night for Svengoolie, and their crap commercials are not only crap, they are the exact same crap in the exact same order for every single commercial break. I do find it amusing that the Almighty Algorithm that runs our existence thinks I’m eighty years old because of it and keeps sending me similarly themed stuff online.

      I always thought there was a good Dark Mirror episode in the idea of an Algorithm literally being able to change a person’s life; like, if they ordered a fishing rod for their dad as a gift, the system promptly turns them into a Fishing Person and they have to buy a canoe, nets, etc. even though they themselves hate fishing.

    6. Lady Alys*

      “1-877-Kars-for-Kids, K-A-R-S Kars for Kids…” (I listen to Cubs games on the radio.)

      1. Lbd*

        It is just after sunset, there is a bit of high cloud, so there is no colour in the sky, but the light itself is an amazing muted golden colour! The foliage on my favourite tree is such a warm green shade!
        I was grateful today for that bit of cloud as it kept temperatures at work (outside) from going even higher than 30 celcius.
        What was your weather today?

  32. Childfree and Single at 40*

    I could really use some good scripts to respond to the question I’m going to get at the beach with my extended family this summer: “So, why didn’t you want to get married / have children”? This is often asked by well-meaning kindly older relatives and I want to keep the peace so I can’t always use the snappy Bridget Jones comeback I’d like (“because under my clothing I’m entirely covered with scales”). They mean it nicely, like ‘you are so pretty and good with kids, what happened???’ Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for them even if I wanted to have a heart-to-heart, which I don’t. I’d like to redirect in a kindly way that doesn’t seem either defensive, or like there’s a fascinating secret I’m keeping from them if they just dug a little deeper. So far I’ve tried “I’m never sure what answer people are looking for when they ask me that!” – mixed results.

    1. New Senior Mgr*

      I’m very happy and grateful for my life now. No one knows what the future may hold. So, how have you been Aunt Emma? I want to hear all about your trip to Boston last month. Aunt Lidia, have you made your famous pecan pie lately? It’s just delicioso! I have to get your recipe!

      1. Childfree and Single at 40*

        “I’m very happy and grateful for my life now.” – this has the advantage of being the absolute truth. Thank you!

    2. the cat's pajamas*

      I’ve never found an answer that satisfies people, tbh. Maybe “I just don’t?”

    3. Dovasary Balitang*

      I’ve found that, “I prefer to swallow,” really stops the ‘why don’t/won’t you have kids?’ line of questioning in its tracks.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I think yours is good! I also like “just lucky I guess!” or other kind of “isn’t it great” type comments if you’re single by choice or able to say it convincingly. Maybe like “I don’t know, ask my exes” or “hey, I’m working on it!” if you’d prefer things to be different? “I know right? I’m a catch!”

    5. Emma*

      “It’s not always something we choose. But I’d rather not talk about that. Thank you for understanding!”

      “That’s a tough question, and I’m not sure what to say.”

      “I’m sure you can understand that’s pretty personal.”

      “Finding a romantic partner is unfortunately more luck than anything.”

      “I’m happy with my life as it is.”

      “I sure do get this question a lot!” (and then not provide any further explanation/commentary)

      “Huh. Any ideas?”

      “I wonder if I’ll ever be old enough to not be asked this.”

      “You would not believe how many people ask me that! It gets difficult to answer.”

      “This is one of those things I wish people wouldn’t ask me.”

      “That’s just how life goes.”

      1. Emma*

        I had various relatives ask me this, both about being in a relationship and having a child. it was hard, and made me dread being around them. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    6. FashionablyEvil*

      “Just didn’t happen that way! Did you bring any good books to read/isn’t the weather glorious/other subject change.”

      1. Childfree and Single at 40*

        You’re right, it would help if I could suggest a new reasonably-deep conversation topic like the books we’re reading, because I get the sense that some of these folks are trying hamfistedly to build intimacy by asking me a deeper personal question. I can’t imagine why they think this is a good one, but perhaps I can answer the question I wish they’d asked LOL.

      1. Childfree and Single at 40*

        I did used to use a cheery “oh, I prefer animals to people!” as my go-to (because I have a lot of pets and I’d rather talk about them) but a few of my relatives seemed really bothered by that, “oh no, you’re so good with blah blah blah” and it ended up extending the conversation more than ending it.

    7. Bibliovore*

      On the no kids thing (complicated medical stuff is the real answer) I always said,
      “God hasn’t blessed me”
      That stops everyone in their tracks.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I kind of love this TBH. It might subtly shame people for asking impertinent questions they don’t really want to know the answer to, and it ‘speaks the same language’ as those elderly relatives, at least in my family.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      An Irish politician was asked this and he responded with something like “I have nothing against marriage and it could happen yet, but I’m not exactly sitting by the phone, thinking ‘I hope she’ll ring’ either. I’m very happy with my life at the moment and if I meet the right person, then that’s a bonus, but otherwise, I’m happy as things are.”

    9. Morning reader*

      I wonder if it would work to turn the question around on them. Especially with older people. How/why did you decide to get married so young or when you did? Was it a lack of choices when you were my age? Did you feel societal pressure to marry/have kids/whatever? Why do you have as many kids as you did, and spaced as they are. Was that planned or oopsies? What would you do differently if you were my age?
      Either they will be offended back at you at the intrusive personal questions, or they’ll enjoy going on about themselves and you’ll hear some interesting stories.

      1. eeeek*

        I did this with much success with Aunt Nosy, prior to my (later than she thought was healthy or wise) marriage at the ripe old age of 30. “That’s an interesting question. Can you take me through your thought process around your choices about marrying Uncle and having Cousins 1-5?” Of course in her generation, any man who made it back from the war (visibly damaged or not) was ripe for marriage which was the only avenue for support (since post-War jobs for women were scarce); and, as a member of a faith where there are no reproductive choices, the kids just came along. So as she worked through her list of non-options, I could listen and follow up with “wow; you had a lot on your plate in terms of social and religious expectations, and limited opportunities to deviate from that script. Isn’t it interesting that you see my life as hard, without those expectations and restrictions, and *I* think yours was hard, with them? Golly, we sure are different people, in different eras, with different options. Good thing we’re both happy with our choices and wouldn’t be so rude as to impose our own views on the other. Oh, look, Aunt Maude made peach pie!”
        Aunt Nosy was very angry with me and tattled on me to my mother, like that would work. /eyeroll

    10. Kermit*

      There really isn’t an answer that will satisfy some people. I would just go with my usual non-response “just because”, repeated ad nauseam until they eventually give up asking.

    11. Kali*

      “I love my life the way it is. I get to do what I want and don’t have to ask for anyone else’s permission or schedule! [insert your next solo trip or a fabulous dinner you’ve had or whatever]” or “It’s not how I expected things to turn out, but I’m happy! [change subject]” Have some go-to subject changes for the worst offenders, like Aunt Di’s beloved rose garden or Uncle Fred’s next fishing trip.

      I’m married but childless by choice, and I get questions about it often. (Only one man has ever said, “You don’t have to explain why” when I preemptively started to do it – he’d just asked if I did have kids. It was so refreshing.) I often say, “Oh, I enjoy having just dogs. I can put them in a room with water for hours at a time and no one calls the cops on me.” Sometimes, if I’m feeling a little more blunt, I say, “Oh, no kids for me. I like having money and time.” Those could be modified for kids and marriage.

      1. Inkhorn*

        I haven’t faced questioning about kids for a while, but my pre-prepared answer for the next time is “Oh, I much prefer plants! If I accidentally kill one, I can just buy another.”

        1. ampersand*

          Bwahahaha! Yes. Hopefully that has the added benefit of also leaving them wondering…

    12. ExplainiamusMucho*

      This might be a bit too confrontational for your context, but personally I find “I don’t like them” to be an excellent answer to why I don’t want kids.

      1. Childfree and Single at 40*

        Haha that would be pretty aggressive at our family beach trip packed with young cousins, nieces and nephews (but maybe … not entirely … inaccurate …)

        1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

          Well then, maybe ‘my favourite ones are the ones I can give back!’

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Well in that case, your response should just be to gesture toward whichever one is behaving the worst at the moment :)

    13. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Lots of great suggestions above, but two I’ve heard that I like depending on the situation/audience are “I haven’t met anyone whose company I like more than my own” or “I haven’t met anyone who I’d want to make those major life choices with.” These both presume those things are something you would otherwise want if they were in the cards, of course, and may not stem the line of questioning long term.

    14. Lobo Viejo*

      “I could never persuade myself to make one man [woman] happy at the expense of making so many men [women] miserable.”

      It usually takes the questioner a minute to figure out what you just said, and by then you’ll have moved back to the buffet table, or wherever.

    15. Happy*

      If it’s true/relevant: “This is the right situation for me”.

      I have sometimes said something like, “I understand it isn’t a common preference [or “I understand this wouldn’t be your preference”], but this is right for me”. I’m trying to inject space in the other person’s awareness that different people can have different needs for happiness.

      My sister came to visit recently, and she really is a lovely and generous person, but I was feeling a mild sense of dread at seeing some kind of pity/judgment/condescension over this issue. We had a good visit (and talked for hours about all kinds of things). At some point I said something like, “I understand that many people would experience my lifestyle as loneliness, but I experience it as peace.” I could see in her face that really connected with her; she got it.

    16. Not A Manager*

      Oh, it just never happened/ I guess the stars didn’t align/ I’m not sure, so many of these things are up to chance aren’t they?

      Followed immediately by: Luckily I have a very happy life/ I’m so fortunate for my wonderful extended family, and especially you, Aunt Nosy/ Tell me the story of how you met your partner.

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

      I field this question often and have had some success with variations of, “The world needs all different kinds of people.” If I feel like explaining further, I can talk about how I like being the person with the time and energy to babysit for my friends-with-kids in an emergency, or how my biggest role models/allies were my childless aunts and how glad I am to now be able to fill that same trusted-adult-who-isn’t-worn-out-by-parenting role for the next generation.

      I think the people asking lack the imagination to picture how it’s possible to have a sense of closeness and community without a romantic partner and kids. So for me, I feel like I’m always (subtext) saying, “Yeah, connection and community ARE important! Here are the ways I get them.” Some people will aggressively disbelieve that my way of getting those things is as fulfilling as their more normative way, but at that point I just shrug and smile and say something noncommittal like, “Maybe!” and change the subject.

    18. also 40, childfree and fabulous*

      My husband pulls a face and goes “GROSS! why in gods name would I want those?” YMMV.

      Seriously, it just depends on who is asking..
      “I just don’t”
      “Not interested”
      “Just happened that way”
      “I tried to buy some, but the authorities frown on that apparently”
      “Wow, what an odd question *change subject*”

  33. New Senior Mgr*

    Any career regrets? If you could point to one that probably affected the trajectory of your career.

    1. Gyne*

      Oh sure, it’s not even 8 am but let’s go deep! :)

      I have a hard time defining “regrets” because overall I like my life pretty well and I wouldn’t be the person I am if I had made different choices along the way. But I do have a few decision points where I wonder where I’d be if I had made the other choice… I’d say the Big Two are my initial decision to leave tech and go into medicine, and then my specialty choice. On paper I’m better compensated now compared to where I would be had I stayed in tech, but I also work more hours (especially nights, weekends, and holidays) with a frequency I wouldn’t have had in my previous field. And although my salary is higher, my hourly rate is probably similar. The thing about being in medicine is you get a really close up view of human cruelty, how deeply the healthcare system is broken, and, these days especially, you’re deeply and very vocally hated by a large percentage of society. But I’ve also gotten to do some pretty awesome things over the years to really help people, and that’s cool. I also know a lot of stuff and have developed some pretty specialized skills that few people have. That said if anyone out there is considering going into medicine, don’t. Do literally anything else!!

    2. WellRed*

      I’ve stayed way too long at my current job and now have no idea how to even present this on a resume. And while it’s a good company I’m sure I’ve got some warped norms at this point.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Not a regret, exactly, but in retrospect I would have done things differently if I’d had perfect information. I quit my job to work remotely right before the pandemic, meaning my regular better-paid job would have been remote anyway if I’d waited a few months. There are still ramifications today due to the decrease in income, but it’s all survivable, and I can’t really blame myself for trying something new – it’s not as if I could have predicted what happened.

    4. The Dude Abides*

      Taking a job I had already received a rejection from, and taking a 15% haircut in the process.

      The person initially offered the job left after half a day, then I got the offer.

      The job was a sea of red flags, but my partner and I had just bought a house and I had no savings.

      The owner resided upstairs and was a chain smoker, and also had a live-in golden retriever that shed.

      The technology was downright ancient – I had to attach a leader to the roll of checks to print them, and I had to use a different computer to do the bank transfers for weekly and semi-monthly payroll. Invoices were typed out in triplicate on an electronic typewriter, and trying to get my boss to get customers to pay was like pulling teeth, even when I was shifting around large sums of money just to cover payroll.

      I left after 8 months; less than two years later the owner passed and the company shut down shortly thereafter.

    5. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

      Starting to study something because my family told me I’d be great at it, even though I didn’t like the subject at all at school (spoiler: things didn’t get better in university). In the end, I switched to the thing I’ve enjoyed and also thought about, but then didn’t choose due to thinking I don’t know nearly enough… At least I caught the error early, I guess.

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

      Going into academia. I persevered and “succeeded” after a VERY long while by finally getting a job, having it become tenure-track, and then getting tenure, but the game wasn’t worth the candle, and I feel somewhat trapped. If it weren’t so hard to get a librarian job, I’d go to library school, get a degree, and go back to being a reference librarian, which I got to do without a degree for a few years. Working the reference desk was awesome, and I never took work home with me past the occasional thought of “Aha! I think I know where to look for that book tomorrow!”

    7. Dr. Doll*

      When a very young graduate student, not taking a particular offer for a PhD program because Stupid Personal Reasons and then not calling up a year later to see if I might join the program after all. I’ve always wondered how my life might have turned out.

      1. New Senior Mgr*

        Ahhh, this is my greatest regret as well. I won Student of the Semester in a particular department and was encouraged by 2 professors to enter their PhD program and consider the teaching route. I declined due to terrible social anxiety back then. I always wonder if I had sought therapy for it and pushes forward, how different might life May have been. Nice to look back and wonder some times.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Isn’t it fascinating that someone above you said entering academia instead of another field is their regret, but here are two people who say not entering academia? The world really is a tapestry eh?!

    8. Can't Sit Still*

      I accepted an incredibly toxic job in 2010 because I’d been unemployed for over a year. I was the second choice, their first choice quit at 5 pm on her first day. The salary on the offer letter was not what we agreed (and by the time it got to that point, I realized they would absolutely report that I turned down the job to the EDD), among other things. Several recruiters reached out to me over the next couple of weeks, but I turned them all down. With perfect hindsight, I would have kept interviewing instead. Anything, literally anything, would have been better than that job. When I finally left, I had a potential wage theft claim for over $25k and my physical health was wrecked. The lemonade I made out of that decision: after I left, I finished my bachelors (it only took 21 years to complete) & then got my masters degree, I did some therapy with an EAP counselor who focused on work issues (he was amazing, a true expert on efficient short-term goal-based therapy), and I realized I can never, ever work in that industry again, because next time, it will literally kill me.

      One last regret: everyone told me to keep going and get my masters immediately after my bachelors. I shouldn’t have listened and should have taken more time off between programs. Finishing my masters degree finished off my physical health and I ended up with both a masters degree and an autoimmune disorder diagnosis in the same month.

    9. An Australian In London*

      Going into consulting and staying there.

      I’m getting the impression that it’s now impossible for me to pivot to anything more traditional in my field.

      There’s so much I love about consulting in general and freelancing in particular. Then I start looking at Big Tech positions offering what seems like Just Silly amounts of money and interesting work and yeah, I start regretting my choice of 20 years ago.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        The thing about tech, though? It’s like business school in the eighties or law school in the nineties; seems like the Safe Ticket to a great career, but in reality the glut of people trying for the good positions mean savage infighting over any kind of good placement, and those who didn’t really want a STEM career end up on the bottom because there’s so many high flyers competing. Throw in the “contract” crap Microsoft and similar pull, and it becomes a lot less attractive and stable.

        1. An Australian In London*

          Oh, agreed.

          2022-23 layoffs and changes in compensation in Big Tech have tempered my envy.

          You’re right to mention infighting and other unwanted behaviours created by perverse incentives. I also remind myself that I am hardly ever on call…

    10. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes. Not quitting quickly enough. I advocate for quitting things that don’t suit us which is counter to our collective culture.

    11. Potatoes gonna Potate*

      Oh dear just one?

      Taking on jobs in mid/late-2020 very soon after delivering my daughter. I wish I hadn’t. Both of those jobs (1 was 1099 and 1 was W2) were very short lived. I regret the W2 more because of the reasons they used to fire me really hurt my self esteem and have still stayed with me nearly 3 years later.

      But a trajectory-changing level regret would be not doing better in school.

      Every other mistake I’ve made I can say was the result of priorities/mindset/situation etc at the time.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Eh, majoring in theater probably wasn’t a smart move from a career point of view, but honestly, I’m so glad I just have a job and not a career. I go to work, do job, come home. When I read about having to work all nighters and such I know I absolutely do not have the constitution for it.

    13. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I have several–if I had realized that I excelled at my favorite topic sooner in university (I took it my 3rd year instead of my 2nd), I probably would have a very different career right now. Instead, I decided to finish a program that didn’t suit me (sunk-cost fallacy) and that eventually took me into a role in my favorite topic anyway.

      I also wish that I had known that my current field (unrelated to my undergrad or favorite topic) was as interesting as it is. I now have a great job that I could have had *8 years sooner* and could have been living somewhere I liked better, more financially secure, and all-around happier. Then again..I probably wouldn’t have discovered AAM, and wouldn’t have been able to follow the excellent advice that I found here to get that great job.

  34. Happier city*

    What places in the mid-Atlantic US (or a bit further up/down the east coast) are liveable on a walkable scale with nature accessible? I invite you to be as specific down to the neighborhood as possible :)

    I have some degree of location flexibility in the next few years, and in my working life once I graduate. I just read Happy City by Charles Montgomery and it articulated a long-held desire of mine—to live in a town with a walking community, not in suburban sprawl where it’s impossible to get anywhere without a vehicle. I live in Philadelphia now (NW Phila) and while I could walk to Germantown avenue, I’m just a bit too far, and I am not drawn to the life that’s available in the part where I live. I have a lot of friends who live in Center City and South Philly, many who don’t own cars, so I know those areas are walkable, but I think I would suffer from the density of the city there and the lack of green spaces. I know there are lots of towns and cities of other sizes that have these pockets of (as Montgomery writes) streetcar neighborhoods— help me explore them :)

    1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Providence, RI is pretty walkable in my opinion — there are some hills that are murder until you get used to them/get an ebike (there’s an ebike sharing program that got me addicted) — I don’t think the West Side is as walkable and life is easier with access to a car, but I don’t have one and so far so good! (I do think I’m going to get my license and a zipcar membership over the next year for access to costco and easier day-trips out of town, but for day-to-day, I’m pretty committed to the no-car life.)

      1. happier city*

        Great rec that I wouldn’t have thought of! I went to Providence on a camp trip during high school and loved it.

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

        Ooh, East Side of Providence near Brown/Wayland Square IS very nice! (But go to Federal Hill to get their dynamite Italian food.)

    2. new year, new name*

      I think there are neighborhoods within lots of towns and cities that fit your description in this region, but they’re often pretty small and may not be well-served by public transit. So maybe think about what’s important to you – do you want to not drive, ever? Or are you ok with driving to work, as long as you can walk to some local stores and restaurants when you’re at home in your neighborhood? If it’s the latter, somewhere like Lancaster, PA could fit the bill. Maybe look at college towns, in general?

      On the other hand, I live in Arlington, VA in a neighborhood that is both very green and very walkable. It is also VERY, VERY expensive!

      1. happier city*

        Ok driving to work. Lancaster is super cute. I do love a college town- I used to live in Charlottesville (which is walkable if you live in the downtown core, but a bit dispersed). NOVA has a lot going for it, if not for the high prices! I’ll keep college towns in mind. TY!

      2. No Tribble At All*

        Hi fellow NoVa-er! Mr Tribble and I live further out in the burbs, but we covet Arlington so much. Agree on the expensive part— it’s something like minimum $800k for a two-bed or $1mil for a townhouse in Ballston, which itself isn’t Arlington proper. It’s such a nice neighborhood though :’) Guess we’ll have to rob a bank first…

    3. Once too Often*

      I really enjoyed DC (which is more expensive now.). Didn’t have a car. Walked or took the metro mist everywhere. Lived on Connecticut Ave, by the Cleveland Park metro stop.
      Rock Creek Park is right there (& they closed the Parkways on Sundays), the Zoo with large grounds was right there.

      Worked in Georgetown for a while, walked down to the river for lunch a lot. Metro’d to Old Town Alexandria & walked along the water.

      Found the city very walkable in my parts of it. Capitol Hill was fun, but not as green. When I lived there a favorite walk was to the National Mall, & the Tidal Basin.

      It was great to be able to walk so much of where I wanted to go, but I made sure to live near a metro station.

      Visiting NYC always made DC seem quieter afterward. Fun to visit, but I preferred DC. And the tourist areas have the Natl Park Service (I think) kept the grounds & replenished flowers so it always looked amazing.

      Did I say it was expensive? No idea how it compares to Philly these days, but you could use those cost of living calculators to compare as well as looking at apt ads.

      Happy hunting.

      1. happier city*

        Thank you! I have a friend who used to live in that area and spend a lot of time at Rock Creek Park. I’ll scope out some of those areas.

    4. sagewhiz*

      A friend and her husband relocated to Chattanooga TN and rave about its walkability. Haven’t lived there but always enjoyed every visit. And man is the bbq good!

    5. Unfettered scientist*

      Boston/Cambridge/Somerville highly walkable and don’t need a car at all

      1. green beans*

        highly walkable, super densely populated, parks within a ten minute walk for every resident of Boston (and I think Somerville and Cambridge) but boy do you pay for the privilege.

        NYC (or at least Manhattan) is too much city for me. Boston is just right. but it is pricey.

    6. onyxzinnia*

      The first thing that came to mind was New Orleans’ Garden District with the literal streetcar and massive Audubon Park, but that doesn’t fit your mid-Atlantic parameters. Maybe Pittsburgh?

  35. Mr. Shark*

    Happy Independence Day! I hope everyone who celebrates has a nice day, and remembers the good things and ideals behind the day and the U.S.A., despite whatever beliefs you have about the state of the country today.

    What series (streaming) are anyone watching these days? It seems like there’s not a lot of big, popular series on right now.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I don’t subscribe to Disney+ year round but usually get it during summer vacation to widen our movie options and catch up on old new releases. I’ve been rewatching Agent Carter, which I also watched last summer. I’ve been meaning to see the new episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix but haven’t been in the mood. Doing a slow rewatch of Mad Men on DVD because I tend to let tv become background noise and it’s really a full-attention show.

    2. WellRed*

      I just finished Happy valley. Just started hijack with Idris Elba and planning to watch season 2 of And Just Like That.

    3. TPS reporter*

      I’m watching season 2 of The Bear which is very America in my opinion but more of a modern spin on ambition and what we (a diverse cast in race, age, background) sacrifice to achieve what we each define as greatness.. the food also looks incredible top chef but with messy personal lives!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Peacock, which I have for a few months:

      Pokerface, about someone who can detect lies and winds up on the run from the mob, stumbling each week into a new murder. The question isn’t “whodunnit?” but “how is Charlie involved, and how will she ensure the murderers are brought to justice?”

      Mrs. Davis, about a vigilante nun taking on a global AI. I absolutely adored this show, which is very Douglas Adams while making some valid points about seeking answers, from AIs or God.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Ah, I’ve seen both of those advertised but I didn’t know if they would be good. I’ll have to check them out, thanks for the rec.

    5. Trixie*

      I am watching Astrid from PBS Passport and thoroughly enjoying it. Granted I have to read the subtitles but my French is improving.Also watching Numb3rs on Amazon.

      Next, the plan is The Jury, and , and Happy Valley both which will be new to me.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I had nothing to watch and now a bunch of stuff dropped and I’m scrambling to catch up.

    7. Jay*

      I’ve just started watching the original British version of Ghosts. So far, no streaming service I have gets the American one, but, hopefully it will show up someday soon.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I really enjoyed the British version. The U.S. version is on Paramount Plus or Peacock, I forget which one. I watched all of the British version and haven’t caught up completely on the US version.

    8. Sister George Michael*

      Deadloch on Amazon Prime. Dark and funny. I’m impatiently waiting for the final episode to drop on Thursday.

  36. abca*

    I want to canoe or kayak in south Sweden this summer. I’m not looking for a completely managed vacation where every day is planned out. I’m more thinking about relaxed canoeing down a river than wildwater sports. Ideally, I would stay in a place for a week or so and have canoe opportunities nearby (no car needed). Searching online I either find the full packages, or just generic “This part of Sweden is great for kayaking”. Ideally I would want to go to a place that is reachable by train (and then bus/taxi for the last part), but that’s not a deal breaker.

  37. Cat Lover*

    Happy 4th! Currently sitting on a beach, shoulders burnt to a crisp but I’m vibing.

    1. carcinization*

      I can relate, got back from the beach yesterday, still have marks from a jellyfish sting I got on Sunday, but it was nevertheless a great time!

  38. HeyAnonnyAnonny*

    How do you quit hating yourself? I’m in therapy but it’s so ingrained after years of doing it. Any pointers?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Fake it ’til you make it. Force yourself to say nice things about you, or make a point of not saying mean things, as often as you can without it being weird. Especially when/if you make a mistake. For instance, if you drip food on your shirt, instead of saying something mean about being a slob, make a joke about improving the design. You can create a habit of being nice to yourself just like you created the habit of being harsh on yourself.

      1. Wink The Book*

        +1 Just calling out mean thoughts when you have them can help a lot. Ex:

        “I am SO AWFUL! I did X wrong!! SO ST- wait. I did something wrong. That happens to everyone. Is there something I can do to correct this? No? Well, whoops. What can I do next time to correct?”

        “I am THE WORST… Wait. Statistically that is improbable. I have not recently stolen people’s retirement funds or punched a baby. I am a fallible human.”

        Again, challenge the thoughts when you notice them. I’ve been actively doing that for the last 15 years, and while it is tough and takes a while to both do well and have a big impact, it absolutely does help.

        Mental health treatment is a high mileage walking challenge, not a 50 yard dash. And yay on you for taking the first steps in realizing how you talk to yourself is not great. That is a big deal. And I mean this as someone who’s been there: good job.

        (Please do not steal people’s retirement funds or punch babies.)

    2. Sloanicota*

      I don’t know if this helps anyone, but I often reflect on how sort of … almost boringly self-obsessed it is to be so certain you’re the worst person eveeerrr etc etc. Statistically, I’m probably about average. I’m not worse than most people. I don’t deliberately hurt people, so in fact I’m better than a good, oh, 10-15% of humanity right there. It’s literally *boring* to be so focused on myself and all the ways I’m imperfect – like, who really cares? Let’s focus on something we can *do.* I don’t know if this is valuable, this is just how my inner monologue sounds.

    3. Maybesocks*

      Two youtube channels that have helped me a lot more than my counselor did:
      Patrick Teahan LICSW and also Therapy in a Nutshell

      It might sound strange, but Patrick Teahan introduced me to inner child work. It helped me a whole lot, and I think it might help you, too.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Do you hate other people? If not, see if you can step back and extend yourself the understanding and grace that you would to a close friend, or even a distant acquaintance.

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      Cognitive behavior therapy helped me a lot with self-loathing, specifically focusing on thought distortions. It took me a while, but years later, I can identify them on the fly, and shoot them down. This was something that group therapy actually helped me with, as much as I loathe group therapy in general. Realizing that the other 10 people in the room weren’t the awful people they perceived themselves as helped me realize that I probably wasn’t that bad, either.

      It’s hard work to challenge your ingrained perceptions, but it’s worth it and you can do it. Keep going, you’ve got this!

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

      I have definitely found that EMDR/brain-spotting is helpful for that sort of thing.

    7. anonagain*

      Identifying my values has helped me. Reflecting on how my behavior aligns with my values has helped me remember that I am doing my best to live a good life. This reflection has also helped me make needed changes when I wasn’t happy with my choices.

      I also surrounded myself with people who did not hate themselves. I subconsciously believed that hating oneself was a safeguard against arrogance. Being around good, likeable people who felt good about themselves helped challenge that belief. (I was very isolated at one point so I watched a lot of vlogs from people who spoke kindly about themselves and others.)

      I think this is something that I will always be working on. It has been worthwhile work. I hope it gets better for you too.

  39. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Work question –

    Are Cliques just a part of work life where people are in the office daily?  Is it even possible to have a social, personable culture without cliques?

    My last job was very social and very clique-y culture; there was also high turnover so the toxic people left and eventually the culture shifted a bit. When I interviewed at my current company, one thing that was imp to me was if the culture allowed for asking questions and collaborating or just to be told to google. I forgot my exact script but I asked if it was a collaborative environment. I was told yes and that has been true. BUT there’s one person on my team who makes it a very cliquish environment (I can give examples if needed). They’re a “supervisor” and well-loved by the partners so nothing is going to chan