weekend open thread – August 12-13, 2023

Laurie and Fig

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Sunshine Nails, by Mai Nguyen. A Vietnamese Canadian family tries to save their nail salon after a more glamorous salon opens across the street … but it’s really more about family dynamics than nails.

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

{ 972 comments… read them below }

  1. Taking the long way round*

    What’s your Wordle first word? Mine’s ‘quiet’, which isn’t really the most useful I think!

    And what’s your longest run? I can’t remember mine but it was somewhere in the 80s.

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Mine is «value»! And the second is «worth».

      My official longest run is 90, but I was at over 100 when it was moved to the NYT. I’m a bit more sporadic now.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Mine used to be adieu for a long while, now it’s arise, occasionally mount, pound (<- second word if arise gets no vowels).

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        I love this question. FRUIT and then PODGY or CHALK. My first word used to be ATONE until in was a hole-in-one one day.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I’ve forgotten to play for ages, but mine was either FEAST or BEAST depending on my mood. Reasonably helpful I think!

    3. Arya Parya*

      Mine is ‘slate’, then ‘bring’. Max streak is 72. English is my second language, so not too bad

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      ‘Water.’ Followed by ‘noisy’ and ‘mulch.’

      I have become quite hooked on Quordle, from Merriam Webster, where you solve four wordles at once.

        1. Pennyworth*

          I was very keen on Octordle for a while, but I haven’t played lately. I used to start with ”quoit” followed by ”wears”.

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        For Quordle and Octordle, my go-to first three words are TRIBE, LANDS, and CHOMP. A majority of the time, that gives me enough clues that I can identify all the words.

        1. Namenlos*

          I play mostly Octordle starting with storm, following often with plane and fight for the sequence version.

      2. BunnyWatson Too*

        I started using arose after I learned that Will Shortz uses it as his first word. I’ve had more success with it than with my original choice adeiu.

      3. ecnaseener*

        My current favorite variant is Lirdle, where it lies to you about one random letter per line!

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Train and usually close, which contain between them the most common 10 letters in English. If they don’t get many results, I’ll continue with dumpy, which has the 11th-14th most popular + the last possible vowel.

      1. Madame Maigret*

        We (my husband and I) are currently using TRAIN and CLOSE too! Followed by DUMPY, FUDGY or PUDGY, if we don’t have enough to solve it. We used SLATE for a long time until it was the solution one day – our only “one” so far. After we picked ourselves up off the floor, we had to get a new start word.
        When we first started Wordling, ADIEU was our favorite start word – all those vowels! – but we finally came to the conclusion that consonants are important too! Our current streak is at 170; previous one was 158. Two minds are better than one. We don’t play hard mode – we bombed out too much.
        So glad to see all the options people have come up with, though, as I’m starting to get tired of train.

      1. Seashell*

        Me too. It was the best word I could make out of the letters that are picked for the final in Wheel of Fortune.

    6. CTT*

      Some variation on STARE (might do TARES or RATES, but a last S is so rare). I read that was a good starting word and I stuck with it.

      Also, something went wrong and my streak was stuck on 32 days for at least two months. So who knows!

      1. Jm*

        Aster and my logic is the common letters. Stare is better/ s at beginning. E at the end are more frequent

      2. Littorally*

        I also use STARE; used to use TEARS but I find a final E a lot more useful than a final S.

        I do hardmode so a second word depends on the first, but if I get no hits with STARE my next attempt is MOUND.

      3. slashgirl*

        I use STARE as well and since I play on hard mode, my second word depends on the first. If I get no hits with stare, then I try CLOUD.

        I also play Quordle (regular and sequence), Octordle and Sedecordle. For all of those, my first three words are STARE, CLOUD and HINKY.

    7. Miss Dove*

      I start with “aerie”, then move on to “sound.” That gets me all the vowels and some common consonants. Not sure what my longest streak is. I’m on 50 right now.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      You mean Wordle run! My max streak appears to be 73. I get it in 4 guesses most commonly, and usually get taken down by things like light-might-night-sight-right-etc. I am signed out of the NYTimes because the subscription is to my spouse’s email and if I sign in as him only one of us can play Wordle that day.

      1. Imprudence*

        I use “Stone” and then “Diary” because it gives quite good coverage, and because the allusion to Carol Shields pleases me.

    9. Sloanicota*

      Any word with at least two vowels and no repeating letters is a good start, in my opinion, although it’s helpful for the consonants to be common rather than rare (like Q, although getting three vowels and the T down seems good to me). I use READY and then TOUGH and can almost always guess the word on the third try after that.

    10. rainyday*

      I’m on 144. I vary mine, I tend to look around me and pick something I see. Today was “house”.

      1. DrD*

        I vary mine too. Each day, I get my first Wordle word from another popular word game. I’m not sure what my longest stretch is. The app kept starting me at zero and I don’t always play.

    11. Lois*

      I do “alien” then “tours” – my longest streak is 320 but I’ve lost a couple of times since that.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        What? That’s totally what I do, too! I like to eliminate all the vowels and T, R, and S.

      2. Just Another Cog*

        Wow, 320! My hat’s off to you, Lois! I don’t know my longest streak because I’ll play for a few days and then not and get restarted. I generally do eventually get the word, though. My Mom, who is 85, once had a streak of 148 and was bummed to not make it to 150.

        I always start with Zebra. I know it’s a goofy starting word, but one of these days it’s going to be the word and I’m going to get it in the first try.

    12. Slinky*

      I try to come up with a different word every day as a challenge. Today, I led with “leave.” My longest streak is 133. Haven’t come close since!

    13. Come On Eileen*

      I use “paint” and “loser” as a starting word most often, since it gives me common consonants and all vowels except U. To mix it up, I’ll change to “point” and “laser” :-)

    14. Past Lurker*

      I use snort or adieu. My longest run lately is 58 but I got closer to 100 once before it went to the NY Times.

    15. Wordle fan*

      I play Wordle together with my husband and son (so it’s a joint effort, although I’m not sure if that makes it easier). We always pick a different word each day, usually one that is “on theme” with the day. Sometimes we’ll do a theme week or two like for Halloween we did a couple of weeks of monster/halloween words. Our longest streak was 185 days! Such a sad day when we broke that – we’ve never gotten that close again, sigh…..

    16. Teaching teacher*

      It has been plate, earth, and heart until those became the actual wordle word, now it is suite. My longest run is 100 but that’s because on day 100 my son wanted to be the one to type it in and… messed it up. It would have been 182 because two days ago I got stuck on Empty and totally forgot to go back to keep trying.

    17. crookedglasses*

      My starter word is stare, followed by blind then chomp (depending on which letters I’m getting… I’d say I only end up playing chomp about a quarter of the time.)

      my current streak is 150. I had an insanely high streak when I first started playing, something in the mid 200s?

    18. Pocket Mouse*

      Mine’s ‘slate’, as recommended by Wordlebot (my habit is to do the puzzle then click through the analysis). If you start using Wordlebot, be aware that it kind of assumes you know all the possible solutions and are aiming to play rationally… like a bot would.

      1. Two Dog Night*

        LEAST, and I also use Wordlebot pretty regularly. I play on hard mode. And, yeah, I love it when Wordlebot says “that was a good word, but it’s not in the list”… like, how was I to know????

        1. Two Dog Night*

          Oh, and current streak is 112. I don’t think it’s been longer than that, but I’m not sure.

    19. Tiny clay insects*

      Mine is “hound,” for my dog. I’d mentioned this to a few friends, and then one day a friend messaged me and was like YOU NEED TO PLAY WORDLE TODAY and indeed I got it in 1. :-)

    20. Fellow Traveller*

      Mine was Party but then that was the Wordle this week, so I guess I need a new one now. So this is a very timely thread!

    21. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Wow, I did not expect such a variety. I start with aside and then second is either touch or tough, unless aside scored quite a few.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same, I’m really amazed by the variety! My first three are SHARE, TONIC, and PUDGY. I haven’t played in a really long time but my then-streak was over 100. I also was hooked on Octordle, Globle (countries of the world), and Framed (guess the movie from still images).

        1. Taking the long way round*

          Ha! That’s funny! I was thinking three would be so much more variation but a few have the same starting words; that’s surprised me.

    22. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I used to start with “heart” but alas didn’t use it when it was actually the word of the day! Now I just start with something random. My longest streak was 137 days.

    23. Lexi Vipond*

      Stare, to get some common letters in.

      For Octordle and similar I generally do stare/night/mould before I start to think about it.

    24. Kathy the Librarian*

      Mine changes everyday based on another word game I play. But my fallback word is usually ‘arose’.

      My streak is over 300. (I love word games and am very good at them!)

    25. little yellow duck*

      1=adieu, 2=sport
      I stopped counting my longest streak once I realized it reset to zero if I didn’t play for a few days in a row.

      1. JustEm*

        it resets to zero if you skip even one day! it’s number of consecutive days you’ve played + won

    26. JustEm*

      Mine is raise and if no hits then donut. My longest streak was 60 – the first 60 days I played, starting right when taken over by the NYT (I played for a bit before that, so I guess actually probably longer). Since then I’ve often forgotten to play so I don’t worry about it anymore. I have 97% win rate, played 434 games according to NYT game stats

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        House and plant – my max streak is only 19, I regularly forget to do it! You’re all doing brilliantly!

    27. TortallyHareBrained*

      My words are STARE, CLOUD, PINKY. My longest streak is 142. Like somoene else mentioned below, I also like Quordle and the Sequence variation of it.

    28. I take tea*

      I usually pick something that is somehow current, just for fun. But I always try to get different letters. If I don’t think of anything train or stain are my standard. If needed the second might be could.

      My best streak is 94. I was quite annoyed when it was broken.

    29. Don't Be a Dork*

      Used to be “aegis” but then for some reason I don’t recall, I shifted to “stone”.

    30. Dumpster Fire*

      I use “arose” and my max streak (also my first streak) is 185. I was heartbroken when I missed…. I followed that with 167 and I’m currently at 90. (I *do* need to get a life!)

    31. Rainy*

      STERN, then if none of those hit, PLAID, then if none of those hit, BOUGH. Typically at that point something has hit and I can go from there.

      1. Miss Buttons*

        Mine is arise first, then pouty. Covers all 6 vowels in two guesses. I honestly cannot remember the last time I lost. My favorite game.

    32. I take tea*

      For all you Wordle fans: check out Holderness family A Whole New Wordle on YouTube. I thought it was fun. (I generally like their parodies.)

    33. Calico Tabby*

      My first word is “short,” followed by “lined” if I don’t get any hits with the first word. My theory is that if one can identify the consonants, the vowels will take care of themselves.

      I had a streak of 151, and then I forgot to do Wordle one day, and it reset.

    34. Anna Crusis*

      This whole thread is interesting! I never thought to have a usual first word – it’s whatever pops into my mind at that moment. I’m bad at playing every day, too, so no impressive streaks. It usually takes me 4 guesses, and I’ve not been able to guess the word only a few times. Last week I guessed it 2 tries 2 days in row, which was exciting! Still hoping my random first word hits the jackpot.

    35. Falling Diphthong*

      My son has just introduced me to NYTimes Connections, a very Says-You-esque game in which you try to figure out what groups of words have in common.

    36. NPTraveler*

      Mine is SOARE then either TULIP or INPUT. Longest streak was 91 then I forgot one day! Soare is a baby hawk. I read that advice once and have stuck with it!

    37. Self Employed Employee*

      Mine is ‘crate’. I try to change it up, but I always think it will jinx it, so I don’t.

    38. Taking the long way round*

      I’ve now changed my starter to ‘train’, followed by ‘close’, as a result of this thread :D
      The answers have been fun.
      I’m surprised that there is some similarity with people’s first word!

    39. Elizabeth West*

      Radio is usually what I start with, but sometimes I do Ocean. I don’t play as regularly anymore — mostly when I see someone post it on Twitter and it reminds me.

    40. amoeba*

      REGAL, for whatever reason – just somehow stuck with it!
      Second word depends on the first – I don’t do hard mode, but I do try to play hard-mode-ish, so use all the letters for the next guess if I can think of something.

      My longest streak is only 5, but that’s because I switch back and forth between PC and phone and can’t be bothered to set up an account!

    41. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      I don’t have an official “first word”; I’ve devised a d20-based system with 20 pairs of words formed from ETAOIN SHRDLU that uses as many combination of vowels as possible. It’s worked fairly well; my stats look like a bell curve peaking at 3 and 4. When I play regularly I get some good streaks going; I occasionally do have a failure, but that occurs primarily when I have 4 greens out of 5 and there are three or four possible letters to choose from (for example brood, brook, and broom ).

  2. Taking the long way round*

    Alison, Laurie is so cute. He just loves other cats doesn’t he? I’m sorry he’s poorly.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Laurie LOVES other cats! He is actually fine; it’s Hank who is sick. But Hank’s radiation was successful in shrinking his tumor and we’re told that we have bought him some time (although not a ton; best case scenario is 10-12 months so we are just trying to give him a happy life for as long as he has).

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Ah sorry! Glad that the treatment has been successful in that you get to spend some more time with Hank.

  3. word nerd*

    Reading thread! Share what books you’ve been reading!

    This week, I really enjoyed several nonfiction books, including The Loneliest Americans by Jay Caspian King about Asian Americans (I so related to the line about East Asians relating to Ghanaian Americans since that was a big piece of why I loved Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom) and Ace by Angela Chen (eye-opening and got me really thinking about different types of relationships, and I came away with a better understanding of asexuality since I knew almost nothing about it before).

    I also signed up for a free 3-month trial of Audible last month for Prime Day, but did not realize until yesterday that it includes a lot of free content I’d love that I can’t get at my library. So I may spend the next 2 months binging on Jonathan Cecil reading PG Wodehouse (AMAZING narrator for Wodehouse), Rosamund Pike reading Austen, and Stephen Fry reading 65 hours of Sherlock Holmes…

      1. PhyllisB*

        The new one or the original one? Read the other one years ago, haven’t read the new one yet.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Oops!! that’s The Firm that has a part two just printed. (I’m going to have to learn not to comment until I’ve had enough coffee!! But even though I liked The Associate, it wasn’t my favorite Grisham
            Sorry for the mistake.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      The Verifiers, by Jane Pek. Claudia Lin works for a small start-up that verifies the claims made by online dating customers. When a client turns up mysteriously dead, Claudia won’t let it go and instead turns the firm’s resources to investigating.

      It works as a straight up mystery with an amateur sleuth. It slides over toward literary fiction with the complicated, well-drawn family dynamics with Claudia’s two older siblings and emotionally distant mother. I really liked that they got together routinely even while the history was such that one of them taking a break would have made sense, because I think that is a really common dynamic in families. Claudia and I agree on the divide between “but nothing happens” and “but the nothing is so beautifully written,” both of us only managing to read books in the first half. There are thoughts on AI and on human inconsistency. Highly recommend.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      I just finished A Fall of Marigolds (TW for 9/11 in NYC), and I loved it. Read it over two days.

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

        I loved reading that a year or two ago, though it is a scary 1930s look at how easily this country could slip into becoming a fascist state. I would recommend it to anyone — some of the parallels to what we’re seeing now are uncanny, unfortunately.

    3. GoryDetails*

      The Audible free-to-members entries can be quite good! I recently enjoyed Yard Work by David Koepp, narrated by Kevin Bacon; it’s about an elderly man who’s struggling to find a purpose now that his beloved wife is gone, and who takes up arms (or chainsaw and pruners) against rampant, invasive vines at the old family cabin. The descriptions of the vines sound way too much like the overgrowth in my own yard, so for me it’s almost a cautionary tale {wry grin}.

      1. word nerd*

        Ha, I hope not! The blurb feels horror-y to me, is it? Gotta admit I try to avoid horror. I like the Audible app so far too, and the fact that it goes up to 3.5x speed (unlike Libby’s 3). I feel like this free trial business is totally working on me!

        1. GoryDetails*

          Yeah, it’s pretty much horror – though it does end a lot better than I’d feared it would!

    4. GoryDetails*

      I was pleasantly surprised by the YA novel Trouble, by Gary D. Schmidt; it’s about the younger son of a privileged family, and what happens when tragedy shatters that family and sets major changes in motion. Henry idolizes his older brother Franklin, who is hit by a car on a rainy night and is critically injured. The driver, Chay, a young man whose parents immigrated from Cambodia, is vilified by the community – though it’s clear that he did his best to help Franklin at the scene. Henry’s sister Louisa is so shattered that she stays in her room, and their parents alternate between numbness and fury, leaving Henry to work out his own feelings as best he can.

      His brother’s last word to Henry is “Katahdin,” the Maine mountain where he’d planned a climb – and where Henry had hoped to accompany him. Henry decides to climb it by himself, despite his parents’ refusal to even consider such a risky move. His quest includes his dog (a badly-battered dog he’d rescued from the ocean), his best friend Sanborn (who is a marvelously level-headed young man despite having grown up under the benign neglect of his own parents), and… well, a very surprising additional member who gives them a ride. The road trip includes confrontations with bigoted yahoos – and with kind and generous folk; but will they get to Katahdin, and if so will the climb give Henry what he was hoping for?

      I don’t want to say too much about all that, because the surprise factor really delighted me. Yes, there are dark elements here – including racial prejudice, classist hazing, and parental abuse – but there are also examples of thoughtfulness and communication and secrets revealed, leading to a much more upbeat resolution than I’d hoped for at the earlier parts of the story.

    5. English Rose*

      Recently finished The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, a contemporary tale where three young witches are growing up together in a hidden house when witches aren’t supposed to live together for fear of discovery. Our heroine, Mika Moon, is enticed to the house to guide and mentor the young witches. A cozy story with a satisfying plot twist.
      Currently about two thirds through The Ward Witch, an entirely less cozy story of the mysterious inhabitants of Unholy Island, a wild island off the British coast. Enjoying it very much.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In the last few weeks I plowed through the entire Emberverse series by S.M. Stirling. I’d started them before and stopped at #7 or so, but #15 which just came out was labeled as the last book of the series, so I figured why not. They get increasingly woo as the series goes on :P Entertaining though.

      Premise: Something inexplicable happens that modifies the laws of the universe in such a manner that technology doesn’t work anymore, from microchips to steam engines. The first few books are about the rebuilding of various types of society in the PNW, and the rest are about later generations as well as other parts of North America and the rest of the world.

    7. PhyllisB*

      I have been reading two different books this week (well, three, really.) I don’t like doing that because it’s hard to keep stories straight, but they are all due within a couple of days of each other (two of them. One is mine.) and can’t renew them so I’ve had to scramble to finish. One of them is Ruth Ware’s book One by One. It was OK, but not her best in my opinion. (I gave it three stars on Goodreads, but probably should have given it two.) The other one I’m still working through Oscar Wars by Michael Schulman. Interesting, but very intense. I feel like I’m taking a course in Hollywood history. Not a bad thing, just not light reading. My third is a Chicken Soup For the Soul book. I like reading something positive right before going to sleep, and these books are perfect because the stories are short and always have a good resolution.

    8. PhyllisB*

      On the topic of reading, want to give a shout out to libraries. As much as I read, if I bought every single book I read, I would have to have another house just for them. ( I have a storage shed full as it is!!) Also want to mention interlibrary loan. I have been able to read a lot of books that way that I couldn’t find anywhere else. (This is how I ended up in the predicament I mentioned earlier. I had five interlibrary loans come through at the same time, and these can’t be renewed.)

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Yes! About 20 years ago, my partner and I were both unemployed, and one way of saving money was to borrow books from the library, rather than buy them. In due course, our finances improved, but I had realized that the great thing about library books was that I could give them back rather than trying to find shelf space for them.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I read David Sedaris’s Theft by Finding, and one of my favorite entries (it’s his diary from early in his life) is describing heading to the local IHOP with a new library book as his ideal afternoon.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          One of the things I loved about the library during periods of unemployment and also when I was between friend groups is that going there got me out of the house.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Have you read The Library Book, by Susan Orlean? It’s about the fire at the LA library and its rebirth. Orlean include a lot of backstage pass type info on how a library functions and she goes into interlibrary loans especially. It’s terrific!

      3. Lemonwhirl*

        Libraries are fantastic – and a lot of libraries now allow you to borrow e-books, which you can then read on a kindle or on your phone in the library’s app, which is often Libby.
        Borrowing e-books is so great and convenient – and you never have to worry about late fees. (I don’t love how the Kindle interface keeps the cover of the book and the library letter that the book was returned, but I will take a messy Kindle interface over spending tons of money on e-books.)

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I read a lot, but the library definitely means I read more than if I were buying the books myself. And there I have discovered many authors I love and then go buy their books (just bought the new Donna Andrews), or I recommend a book to my husband and he buys it on his Kindle. But for the occasional “I’ve given this a couple of chapters and just am not getting into it,” I’m really happy not to have bought the book. It’s such a huge boost to literacy, even in an age when literacy is taken for granted.

        When we were looking to move, one of the maps I shaded in was based on what libraries are in my current network, with that being a strong plus for any community. My spouse pointed out that I made this one up before the map based on his commute distance.

    9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Started A Dangerous Education. My library card is back in business ( I seriously had to go to the library and have them reinstate it)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        That so perfectly captured the high school outcast feeling of having to constantly check your back for figurative monsters about to pounce–except literal monsters. Both spouse and I found in tremendously stressful on first read, in a good way.

    10. Pam Adams*

      I’ve been ill, so in a reread mode. I just finished the Susan Scarlett books, starting with Clothes-Pegs. Light, cheerful Cinderella stories/women’s fiction from the early 1940’s- just the thing to read during the Blitz. (Susan Scarlett was a pen name for Noel Streatfeild)

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

        Ooh, I loved Noel Streatfeild when I was growing up. I will have to check these out!

        Rest well, and feel better soon, I hope. : )

      2. I take tea*

        Oh, I really like Noel Streatfeild, I must try to find these Susan Scarlett-books, they sound just like the kind I like. Not available at any library here, alas.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I’ll have to check it out!! (Sorry!!) Sounds interesting. Try interlibrary loan!! If not successful, maybe buy from somewhere like Thriftbooks?

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

      When your Audible subscription runs out, you can still get a bunch of Jonathan Cecil’s Wodehouse audiobooks for free on YouTube!

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

      I’m re-reading a bunch of Philo Vance detective novels from the 1930s as I try to figure out what I really want to read next.

    13. Two Dog Night*

      I’m about 2/3 through “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” I read “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold” before this–that was my first Le Carre, and I liked it enough to give him another try. I’m really enjoying some non-action-oriented spy stories.

      Also re-reading the Sandman graphic novels–I just finished “Brief Lives.”

      Libraries are the best. 80% of my reading is ebooks from the library.

    14. Sitting Pretty*

      Just finished The Archer by Shruti Swami..What a lovely book! I did it as an audiobook and the reader had an amazing presentation and range of voices. Highly recommend!

    15. Rara Avis*

      The Black Count, about Alexander Dumas’ father. I’m learning a lot about the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon.

    16. Decidedly Me*

      I’m on the last book of the Infinite Timeline series – Singularity by Jeremy Robinson. Really interested to see how it all wraps up!

      Next I’m going to start working my way through some of my first reads choices as I have a backlog. Not sure which yet, though.

    17. RussianInTexas*

      The Hannah Vogel book series (mysteries) by Rebecca Cantrell, set in the 1930s Berlin.
      The main character is a female reporter.
      Murders, the rise of Nazi, etc.
      Really engrossing!

    18. Dark Macadamia*

      Last night I started “Every Heart a Doorway” which I think people have recommended here a few times. Also checked out “Good Omens” this week because I wasn’t really into the book when I originally read it a few years ago, but I like the show and season 2 has me DYING and I don’t know what else to do with myself lol

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Good Omens is one of my favorite “surprise” books, where a couple friends recommended it but without going into detail. I picked up a copy and just laughed my ass off. Still have it, autographed by the author!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I’m enjoying it this time around! I don’t remember why I was underwhelmed last time, maybe it had just been hyped up too much? I still think it’s one of the few stories I like better in the adaptation than the original.

    19. carcinization*

      Planning to read The Deep by Rivers Solomon since I have a book club discussion of it Thursday. It’s short so I should have enough time.

    20. Seashell*

      I’m reading The Five Star Weekend, the latest from Elin Hilderbrand. It’s a little more depressing than the usual light beach reads I’ve read of hers before, but it’s entertaining enough so far.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Loved Five Star Weekend!! Was sorry to read she’s only writing one more book then retiring. :(

    21. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Shannon Chakraborty, The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi, a fantasy novel set in various places around the Indian Ocean around the 1200s. The title character is a former pirate who retired to raise her daughter, but she receives an offer she can’t refuse and gets the gang back together. If you like The Arabian Nights and middle-aged women as narrators, and if you’ve got decent tolerance for the gruesome bits, it’s worth reading.

      1. Happily Retired*

        It’s completely wonderful!

        I read it after her other trilogy (The City of Brass/ The Kingdom of Copper/ The Empire of Gold). She’s a REMARKABLE writer.

        Also, as an observant Muslim, any sexual content is pretty discreet, which is great for those of us who loathe bodice-rippers.

        Summary of her stuff: in university, she specialized in medieval Islamic literature. So her books are all about magical tales from either side of 1000 CE (AD), with a very contemporary American feminist viewpoint. Prepare to have your mind blown.

    22. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      Someone recommended ‘The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches’ last weekend, and I just want to say thank you – it was a lovely read; unexpected and just what I needed!

        1. LemonLyman*

          Someone recommended it earlier in this thread so I added it to my library holds just a couple of minutes ago. Glad to see that it’s well liked and I’m looking forward to reading (listening to) it!

    23. couldhavebeenanemail*

      I’m reading Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. So good so far, I really like the way she writes.

        1. Calla*

          I wanted to read it but when Zevin ripped off Brenda Romero’s game Train (which is art in every sense of the word — and had her character invent a thinly cloaked version of it as a way to impress a guy!) I not only had to stop reading but was pissed off I had even started.

    24. Forensic13*

      I just finished The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato. (I’ve just finished writing a non-traditional format book and am agent-hunting, so I’m reading every non-traditional format book I can find so I can bug their agents and be all WOW, you represented that book! I definitely loved it please represent me too).

      I liked the premise and it was cleverly written as its format, but it left me rather cold. I’m not a person who needs to connect very strongly with the characters to enjoy something, but I got NOTHING from these characters.

      1. Forensic13*

        And now I’m reading a non-fiction book about AI called You Look Like a Thing and I Love You. It’s actually really funny!

    25. goddessoftransitory*

      Finishing Maggie-Now by Betty Smith. Then I’m starting Song of Achilles and A House with Good Bones.

      For morning cereal eating book, I’ve been re reading Bill Bryson’s short cover of Shakespeare that he did for the great minds series. He’s blunt at the outset that hardly anything is definitively known about the facts of Shakespeare’s life but makes it fascinating anyway. I’m almost done with that one so I’ll have to pick another soon!

    26. Atheist Nun*

      I finished reading The Chaos Machine by Max Fisher and thought it was brilliant! Not only does the author expose an important and disturbing topic–artificial “intelligence”, in the form of social media web site algorithms, foments hate and discord in the service of “engagement” (that is, capitalism)–he situates these current developments in the history of Silicon Valley and enduring sociological concepts. His analysis of the research studies that demonstrate the link between social media and violence in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the United States is thorough and balanced. The writing is very engaging and, miraculously, did not leave me with a feeling of despair but instead with gratitude for learning how an ubiquitous part of modern life functions. I recommend it highly for any readers who use (or are used by) social media.

    27. Lemonwhirl*

      I’ve been on holiday, so I’ve gotten a lot of books read in the last week or so.

      “Mercy Street” by Jennifer Haigh – A really interesting and well-written novel about an abortion clinic and several characters who are related to the clinic in some way.
      “You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight” by Kalynn Bayron – Fun horror YA about an intense full-contact haunted camp where things go awry and staff start disappearing for real.
      “After I’m Gone” by Laura Lippman – Very well-written novel about the women – a mother and three daughters plus a mistress – left behind when their husband/father/lover goes on the run rather than face trial on federal charges. This book is told from several perspective across a very long timeline. I really can’t say enough good things about it.
      “The Trap” by Catherine Ryan Howard – Solid mystery about missing women and a sister who will do anything to find her younger sister, who went missing a year earlier. Loosely inspired by a series of missing women in cases in Ireland in the early 90s.
      “Prom Mom” by Laura Lippman – Half-ripped from old headlines, half-based on film noir, this novel is difficult to summarize but it’s an excellent exploration of what it means to be a good person.
      “The Girls Who Disappeared” by Claire Douglas – Sort of meh book about three friends who vanished after a car crash and the one friend who survived. Maybe if I hadn’t read a few Laura Lippman books before this one, I would have enjoyed it more. :)

      Currently am finishing up the audiobook of “The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin, which is a part courtroom drama, part mystery, and entirely interesting even if it requires a hefty dose of suspending disbelief. Also reading “The Escape Room” by Megan Goldin, which is about high-flying finance douches who get trapped in an elevator escape room. A compelling read, but again, requires a hefty dose of suspending disbelief.

    28. Jackalope*

      Okay, just got back from a camping trip and read around 1700 pages. Normally I sleep, hike, and read while camping, but thanks to a bum ankle and noisy neighbors I just… read.

      Someone here recommended Billion Dollar Loser about Adam Neumann and WeWork. It was very interesting (and a good way to distract myself from the party at the campsite next door), in no small part because of all of the time I’ve spent on this blog learning about how many of the things they did were red flags as employers. Someone else recommended another book about WeWork; does anyone know what it was?

      I also read the 2nd and 3rd books in T Kingfisher’s Paladin series. Lots of fun (although I wanted to shake the main characters for their continuing insistance that the other person couldn’t possibly love them), and an enjoyable plot.

      I also read Cultivation by Elizabeth Oswald. It’s the 4th book out of her 5 book series that’s fantasy/sci-fi about a teen and her father who are playing a virtual RPG only the characters inside the game are real. Lots of fun and I can’t wait to read book 5.

      Lastly I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I’m sure many people here have read it; it’s a sobering but informational book about the failures of our “justice” system and the author’s work as a criminal defense attorney to help people who need a lawyer. He starts off working with people on death row and then branches out.

    29. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am terrifying myself with The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher. I shall probably reread Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking as an antidote as soon as I’m done.

  4. Raena*

    My partner and I are closing on our first house (yay!!) after living with family for two years. We are both first time homeowners. I would love any advice on the moving process, and the first few months. What repairs should we hire for vs. doing ourselves? Any tips or tricks to make the moving process smoother? The house was used as a rental so needs some TLC.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      You can find instructions to do a huge range of things on YouTube. That’s where I finally figured out how the hurricane ties are positioned on a deck, which I couldn’t figure out from the 2D drawings. Also I always have to look up how to recharge my Yankee Spinner bird feeder–one charge lasts long enough that I completely forget the locking mechanism–and low and behold I am not the first person to struggle with this.

      Spouse is incredibly handy and he uses YouTube all the time, having determined that he is probably not the first person to wonder this. (Obvs there is a range, e.g. the guy who went on about the moral value of digging your own post holes by hand, like a man, vs those who had more practical “the A connects to the B like so” instructions.)

      1. Observer*

        (Obvs there is a range, e.g. the guy who went on about the moral value of digging your own post holes by hand, like a man, vs those who had more practical “the A connects to the B like so” instructions.)

        LOL!

        Because Real Manly Men (TM) don’t use their brains, or think about the optimal allocation of resources. No indeedy, they just use their *muscles* because THAT is how you prove you can fight the sabre toothed tiger.

        /snark off

        In my experience, the folks who go on those rants are a waste of time and space. Not jusst because I think that this kind of attitude is stupid, to be kind. But because more often than not they don’t know how to do the things they are talking about. Not only to they not know how to do it the easy way, they also generally get the “only morally correct way” wrong, as well. So if you do decide to dig your own post holes by hand for some reason, their instructions for that will be wrong, too.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I wish I’d put a bit more thought into the staging of the repairs I wanted to do, particularly before I moved in – although to be fair you can’t do everything if you’re on a deadline. I paid to refinish the floors (after I pulled out the carpets and staples on my own) and *then* did a lot of painting myself. If I’d been smarter, I would have done the painting first, because there are a few places paint dripped on my brand new floors. On the other hand, I needed more time to decide on colors for some rooms. I thought I would be more excited to learn how to do more work myself, but – this may be just me – I realized I was only confident in things that were basically decorative, and wanted professionals to do anything that involved wiring or plumbing. It’s hard to find contractors who will give you worthwhile discounts to do “part” of a task, in my experience. But I live in an expensive area. Home ownership for me five years in has become about building up my savings and deploying them wisely.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Good advice, I’ll add that if you’re living with family, and it’s not intolerable, try to do the jobs that make more sense to do while it’s empty (painting, flooring, drywall, blinds). We repainted the entire interior of our house when we bought it before we moved in. My big lesson from that: wear goggles when using a roller directly overhead! I got some paint in my eye, that was not fun. We also replaced all the light switches, outlets, and cover plates for those, because the previous tenants had painted over ALL of them. New vent registers, too, they were cheap and looked a lot nicer than the painted over ones. (Previous tenants were not DIY types, but they were cheap AF and probably hired the cheapest possible unskilled labor.) If you’re replacing any ceiling fixtures (lights, fans), you can take them down, paint, and then install the new ones. That’s not too hard if the wiring is already there.

        We live in a high COL area and found we were able to ask for itemized quotes for different parts of the services, so for example we had a tree felled and cut up (it was too close to the house and not healthy), and I hauled the pieces away and disposed of them to save us a bit on that job. (This was decades ago, when money was tighter.) I also had the electrician run ethernet cable through the attic to two rooms and install boxes, but I did the punchdown (wiring the cable to the jacks) and installed the plates, which didn’t save much, but it was also good experience and only cost a few dollars in new tools.

        After moving in, some of the easy and cost-efficient updates/refreshes/customizations you can do are: replacing doorknobs and locks, replacing cabinet hardware, or replacing faucets (not basic, but possible, and a nice upgrade).

        1. Raena*

          All very good advice, thank you! We are getting quotes for the floors to refinish when the house is empty. We’re going back and forth on painting. Painting first could mean having to redo the baseboards vs painting after and being very very careful not to drip.

          1. Just here for the scripts*

            Definitely do the floors before the painting as sanding blows the wood dust up onto the wall—right into the freshly painted walls!

            And if you can hire a team to paint before the furniture comes in that’s the best. Im a stickler for 2 coats of primer and one coat of paint—first time we did that it lasted 10+ years; most current efforts is still going strong on year 7. All were Benjamin Moore paints—and the ones in the bathroom and kitchen were anti-microbial (I.e. anti-mold for wet locations). And with no furniture they can use a spray function and get it done faster than rolling—just make sure they cover the floors with brown patter (taped down) and drop cloths.

            When in doubt use something basic like Navajo white or adobe white or sugar cookie—you can then pick for fancy colors and do a room at a time at your leisure by yourself. But this way when you’re pooped and drained from moving in you’ll feel like it was worth the mice rather than just seeing all the projects that still need to be done.

            It also gives you a chance to see how the light plays out across the rooms throughout the day/seasons as the lighting will definitely affect how the colors show in the different rooms.

          2. Observer*

            Painting first could mean having to redo the baseboards vs painting after and being very very careful not to drip.

            If you are painting with floors that you don’t want to redo (or that you just put in), then you need to use drop cloths. No matter how careful you are, drips happen. The unexpected happens. Good professionals do this as a matter of course.

        2. Linda Skallman*

          Good comment about hiring the cheapest people. My experience is you get what you pay for. I know I paid more, but I hired licensed tradespeople knowing they were competent. I’ve twice re-roofed a house using a well known roofing company both times. They were in and house in 2 or 3 days, fulling cleaning up the yard, including all the stray nails. Neighbors on both sides went with cheaper choices who took 3 or 4 times as long, were not neat, and were not respectful of my property.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Plumbing and especially wiring are things it’s extremely worthwhile to bring in the pros for. Not just replacing a washer or putting on a new light switch, naturally, but I’ve read too many disaster stories involving floods or fires stemming from DIY projects that combined ambition with spotty know how.

    3. BlueWolf*

      Good advice from others above. Definitely paint and redo floors before moving in if you can. I wish I would have painted before I moved in to my house, but cash was a bit tight after closing and moving. Plus, everything in the house had been redone since it was a flip, so it was new-ish, it was just all gray. Painting is an easy DIY. Also, make sure to check on getting internet set up as soon as possible. For most places it may be a simple connection, but we ran into a bit of an odyssey getting internet at our house, so I was commuting from our new house back to our old apartment for a week to work from home lol. I would also recommend getting locks changed right away and get a security system set up if that’s something you want. We have SimpliSafe and it was easy to set up. Shortly after we moved in, my partner was at home during the day and I was out (so no car in the driveway), and someone backed all the way up our driveway past our gate. Don’t know for sure if he was looking to break in, but my partner looked out the window and the guy saw him and waved (wearing latex gloves), and hightailed it out of there. Burglars will scope out houses that are on the market or recently sold. We didn’t have the security system at the time, and we’ve never had an issue since then, but it’s nice to have some peace of mind while you’re away. Also, if you can, pay for movers to move everything. We tried to do it on the cheap and only had them move the big stuff, and then figured we’d move all the small stuff in our SUV. We definitely underestimated the amount of “small stuff” we had. I also forgot about our bikes in our apartment building’s bike room until our last day, so I had to cram those in our SUV when I could have had the movers transport them. As far as DIY, you can definitely do quite a bit with some research, depending on your level of handiness. It’s good to be realistic about your abilities or desire to DIY though. There are times when it’s better to throw money at it and have it done right the first time. It could save you a lot of time and headache and money in the long run. Another thing to check is your county or city’s permitting requirements. If something requires a permit, that’s generally a clue that you might want to have a professional handle it. It really just depends on how handy you are. Other than paint, floors, and other immediate needs, it may be good to live in the house a bit and see how you use the space, and what quirks pop up. Unexpected things tend to come up with houses, so you’ll want to give yourself some cushion for any emergencies. Even if you had an inspection, it won’t catch everything. We had a pretty significant issue come up that was very expensive, but our house was sold as-is (crazy pandemic housing market). We did have an inspection, but our issue was structural, so no recourse on that front. Not trying to scare you, my first time homeownership journey has just been a massive learning experience lol. Hindsight is definitely 20/20.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I second SimpliSafe, we’ve been very happy with them. (Also if you opt for the monitoring, you may get a small reduction on your home insurance premium.)

      1. Linda Skallman*

        Absolutely, I painted most of mine before we moved in. When we sold 40 years later we hired a painter and she did them again. That was it.

        1. Double A*

          Ha! Yes, the age of the paint in the closets is at least the age of the last owner’s tenure.

          My project this weekend is repainted the one closest we didn’t do when we moved in (there were reasons… I can’t remember now) and it’s clearly the original paint from when the house was built over 30 years ago. And it’s as much of a pain as painting a whole room practically.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Take some time to furnish your house, get the feel of where the things should go, and what size they should be.
      Hire people for the electrical, roofing, and HVAC work.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and I suspect that our regulations are stricter than in the US. Anything involving electrics or actual plumbing has to be installed by a certified professional. You can change a faucet but you can’t make even a surface install of new pipes.

    5. henriettahedgehog*

      Congratulations! So much amazing advice here! If you have the option to stay longer with family after closing, get as many repairs and as much painting done as possible before you move in. We lived with my mom for two years to save money for our second house, and I wish we had stayed put and painted the entire house before we moved in, installed ceiling fans, swapped out lighting fixtures, etc. It would have been so much easier. I also regret not replacing the old carpeting and flooring before we moved in. We should have budgeted for that ahead of time. It would be more convenient to have any plumbing, electrical, or hvac contractors, appliance installers, come in before you are there full time, especially with covid surging bigtime again. If you are going to be painting anything complicated like railings, steps, or kitchen cabinets, it would be awesome to let them cure for a bit before you move in. I am painting my railings and cabinets now, and it looks like a hardware store exploded lol. Anything that involves tons ofsanding is best done before you move in. Double check all of your plumbing, electrical, and hvac, water heater, etc. first for leaks, drips, strange happenings and get anything you find taken care of first before you spend on floors, etc. Figure out when big ticket items were installed – you might want to proactively replace an old water heater, furnace, or a/c unit. Clean out the dryer ducts, clean the back of the fridge and behind the front fridge grill if there is one, and check the fridge water lines for mold and bacterial growth. Replace the furnace filter and buy extras. Check around the windows carefully for signs of leakage. Look carefully at ceilings for signs of roof and plumbing leaks that have been painted over. Make sure the sump pump works if you have one. Inspections are great, but so many friends have found really crazy goings on after moving in. It’s worth doing a thorough check just in case so you feel confident that you have minimized the risk of expensive surprises before you spend on cosmetic changes. Also – total genius the note here about painting all closets (And install any new shelving now if you can. I love the wall mounted rail systems that allow you to adjust shelving and customize at any time.) Seconding Cosmic Avenger’s switch plate, door knob, floor register, etc. suggestion! Inexpensive, so easy, and lovely touches. (Oh, my gosh, last tip – when I replaced my kitchen sink faucet it was FROZEN IN PLACE. I had to drill it out, which in retrospect I should have paid a skilled professional to do.) Good luck!

    6. Glazed Donut*

      Give the space a good cleaning so you know you’re moving into a clean house. If you have Instagram, the account GoCleanCo has TONS of great helpful videos.

      It can be overwhelming to move in and have a long to do list. Realize you don’t have to do everything at once. Live in the house for a while before making any big changes. Think about how you actually use the space (and not just how someone else would or the idealized version of house living).

      As for repairs, after I hired an electrician to come do some light work (swap out a light fixture, replace a light switch), he showed me what I could do myself — and was clear what I should call him for. I’ve changed 90% of the light switches in my house myself, and I’ve changed 2 more light fixtures. When he comes back for the occasional job, I’ll have him take a look at what I did just for a check and reassurance.

      Moving is always stressful, regardless of how much outsourcing you do. Good luck with the new chapter!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Good advice I’ve seen is to live there for a year before doing anything major. A year gets the full range of angle of sun, hot and cold snaps, etc. Replacing our old windows (gradually) made such a huge difference, especially in the sunny southern rooms in summer. e.g. Sometimes you discover that those weird straggly bushes are stunning come May, and so you want to reshape them rather than cut them out. Or you realize that the weird pass through is in fact something you use all the time and so you want to keep either it or its function, even though when you moved in it was just weird.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          I got that advice too, and I think it’s right. Do the obvious stuff, preferably before moving in (we did a termite tent, a seismic retrofit, and an overhaul of the HVAC and electrical systems, mostly while living in our old apartment), but let it simmer for a year before remodeling. You might surprise yourself with how you feel about various “quirks” of the house after you’ve settled in, even if you didn’t like them at first. Also, new houses are wildly expensive for all sorts of reasons…not just the up-front costs of buying it, but new furniture, new supplies, all those repairs, etc. It adds up. You might not want to add a pricey remodel to the list.

        2. Goldfeesh*

          Alternately, if you don’t do the new carpets etc, right off you’ll discover you’re still living with the same old carpet 10 years later and don’t have the will to move all your furniture out to get new flooring/carpeting. But I suppose the plus side of that is I don’t get worked up if a pet nibbles the old carpeting I have. (I keep pet rats).

    7. Linda Skallman*

      I bought my first house at 29 (single woman). I did a ton of my own repairs and remodeling work. I got great advice from my very handy Dad, a couple of knowledgeable people at work, and my brother in law who is an electrician. I did simple plumbing, electrical, and carpentry repairs. With my brother’s help I built new front steps. I did all kinds of landscaping work including building retaining walls.

      This was before the internet and I used a Readers Digest Home Repair book as my guide It was terrific. Now you have Google and YouTube instead.

      So my advice is do as much as you have time for and are comfortable with. What you learn is helpful in terms of evaluating houses in general and deciding when something is an emergency or not. Big things, complicated things, or things with time limits hire professionals.

      By the time I reached my 60s I hired more and more people because doing it myself quit being fun. I still do a lot of my own landscaping but even there I get someone else to lift heavy things.

    8. MJ*

      If you don’t already have some, invest in a decent set of basic tools. You don’t need top of the line, but don’t go cheap.

      I’d start with a drill, a set of assorted drill bits, screw drivers, hammer, wrench / spanner, tape measure, level. Also a sturdy pair of scissors and retractable box (Stanley) knife or scalpel. Probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

      1. henriettahedgehog*

        This! Plus maybe – square, stud finder, big level and little level are both useful, picture hanging kit, one of those kits with a selection of washers, screws, nails in different sizes, power screwdriver can be super useful, pry bar, nail punch, drain cleaning and toilet unclogging gadgets, saw, mitre box, white rubber mallet for things not well suited to a regular hammer, extension cords, kitchen/bath caulk . . .

      2. allathian*

        If you’re moving into an old house, a tool to help you find electric wires in the walls is essential. Even in new houses, the actual wiring doesn’t necessarily follow the wiring plan exactly.

    9. SuprisinglyADHD*

      As far as the move itself, best advice I’ve seen is to set up a “day of” box ahead of time with things you will need that day. Paper towels, cleaning sprays, disposable dishes and utensils, a couple of towels, water, snacks, pet food, tape/glue, box knife, a few tools (screwdrivers, hammer, socket set?), a change of clothes, stuff you might need before the unpacking is begun.
      For repairs, be realistic about what your abilities are, and what could be a safety issue. Plumbing and electricity should only be done by a skilled worker, anything structural needs serious planning, appliances are usually best diagnosed by someone with experience, and carpentry can look terrible if you don’t have skill. On the other hand, if you have skills or experience in a given area (or know someone who has successfully done that type of project before), it can be much less money to get the materials. DIY can take waaay longer and errors can cost much more in the long run. Ask people you know or your new neighbors whether they’ve hired someone they would recommend, sometimes you can find reasonable prices from a local company.

      1. Barb*

        Yes for the “day of” box!! Don’t forget medications, toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, etc plus a roll of toilet paper!) Pajamas etc. Bedding. Unpacking ALWAYS takes longer than you think so try to have a few day’s worth of essentials where you can easily find them.
        Also, when you’re packing don’t be shy about labeling the boxes! Just saying “kitchen” isn’t that helpful when you’ve got 10 boxes of kitchen stuff. Be as specific as possible.

      2. Quinalla*

        Definitely day of/immediate needs box & suitcase. Great lists already – depending on your home a few other odd things: shower curtain & shower supplies (soap, shampoo, etc.) & towels. Curtain rod and curtain – though the seller shouldn’t take this stuff ours tried to – or just go to a store and get some cheap ones for temporary. Flashlight, phone/device chargers.

        Hire professional movers if you can, the move I did with them was SO much better than the few I’ve done without. If you do hire movers, there are certain things they won’t take – anything flammable or dangerous (propane tanks, firearms, most cleaning supplies, etc.) so look that up and pack boxes yourself. There are also things you will want to take yourself (expensive jewelry, important paperwork, computers/laptops/etc., important breakables, anything very personally important). And make sure movers you hire can move all your stuff, sometimes thinks like big safes, pool tables, etc. you need specialty movers for.

        If you can’t or don’t want to hire movers, make sure everything is labeled with the room it should be placed in and ideally a list of what is inside, but at least some cue of what is what or # order of unpacking. Wardrobe boxes are awesome for moving clothes for quick packing/unpacking, but they do take up a lot of space.

        If you are at all a pack rat, I recommend trashing/donating/giving away whatever you can prior to moving. Most folks (me included!) accumulate junk just from living life and moving is a perfect time to clean out all that stuff so you save yourself or $$ on movers by having less stuff to move that you really don’t want anyway. Rent a small dumpster if it makes sense even, we did before our last move and were surprised how full we filled it lol. We also got commentary from the movers we hired that we had a lot less stuff than most people in a house our size, so clearing out saved us $$ and time on moving too.

    10. Anono-me*

      My vote is to get a home warranty (Similar to a car warranty). They are usually very cheap for the first year if done as part of the home purchase.

      Paint the closets is great advice. I recommend using a light color of super durable paint.

      Create a house manual. Start with the realtor sale’s info package about your new home, then add things like the paint colors when you paint or the receipt and manual for the appliance upgrade. Also keep a list of all of the professionals you hire or that people tell you about .(I list everyone that people tell me about , both the great and the don’t calls.)

      For moving day. Schedule the first move of the day for pro movers or truck rental. (You don’t want to be waiting to move while someone else deals with a crisis. ) For movers have bottled water or coffee to drink and tell them which bathroom they can use. (Even if you only have one bathroom, as some companies have rules against their employees asking to/using the customer bathroom.) For truck rentals, most places charge extra if you don’t sweep the back out and fold up the blankets.

      I like to put extension cords behind all heavy furniture, just incase I need it later.

      Congratulations

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – I have long-cord power strips coming out from behind any furniture that ended up in front of an outlet, because sometimes you just can’t avoid it.

      2. Anono-me*

        Forgot to add, have TP and light bulbs handy immediately. The last 3 places I moved into, the prior residents moved EVERYTHING out.

    11. Don't Be a Dork*

      My rules are pretty simple: hire bonded professionals for electrical work and plumbing. It is worth it to have your wiring and plumbing inspected before you try to move in. If they tell you to replace something, do it now rather than wait for the wires/pipes to fail.

      Bring some small two prong plug-in appliance and go through every single outlet to make sure the plug fits in snugly and doesn’t droop out. It’s a major pain to have to shift the sofa or the bookcases when your outlet suddenly doesn’t hold onto a plug any more.

      If your breaker box is not labeled, get it done before you move in.

      1. I take tea*

        This is such good advice! As a person with more bookshelves than sense, I will absolutely do this next time we move.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Before you move anything, PURGE. This is your biggest and best chance to shake things up, sort things out, and finally get a handle on what you really want around vs. what’s always been too much trouble to do anything about. Remember, you will be packing, moving, unpacking, rearranging–what do you want to spend time, money and effort on?

      Once you’ve done this, pack up as much stuff as you want to bring but don’t need short term and label/organize it. This should be stuff like Christmas or other holiday ornaments, out-of-season clothing and equipment; anything you won’t need either while you’re still there or during the move and cleaning BOTH spaces (that means don’t pack all the yard/garden equipment away until you get the yard raked and mowed, for example.)

      If you’re getting new furniture, get as much work done at the new place as possible, then move in the new stuff there. You can work around your new couch or bed with the things you’re bringing with you.

      Unless you have access to someone with a huge truck, tons of time and a kindly disposition, it is worth every penny to pay for both hauling your discards to the dump/recycling center and moving to your new place.

      Once you are in your new house, set up your bed and bathroom FIRST. Before you do ANYTHING else. I don’t mean all the arranging and decorating, but set up and make the bed, find your pjs, hang the shower curtain and find the soap. When you are ready to drop the first night, everything’s ready for you.

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Document where all of the electrical outlets and any other outlets (landline, cable, ethernet, mystery) are in each room while they are empty! For the services you have connected, also check if they work. It can be useful to make yourself a photo album going room by room that is just a picture of each wall, then close-ups of any “weird” outlets on that wall that you can’t immediately identify.

      That way, if you decide to get cable/a landline/whatever later, after you have bookshelves in front of the outlets you weren’t using, you know where specifically to uncover.

      This tip brought to you by my cable internet “installer”, who refused to run a new line and insisted on plugging the modem in to the existing cable hookup. (I could have done that! I wanted it installed by someone else because I specifically wanted the cable hookup in a certain closet to maximize wifi coverage.) I had to frantically pull boxes off of every bottom shelf along a wall of my storage room to see if there happened to at least be a cable outlet in the room I wanted (no).

      If you have a floor plan for the house as part of the marketing materials, go ahead and mark the locations of all of the outlets on that, too.

      If you have time, it’s also nice to label which circuit every light and outlet is on as part of that map. Sometimes things aren’t on the circuit you’d think they’d be from the more general labels in the breaker box.

    14. Ellis Bell*

      Instead of buying real, permanent furniture we made do with temporary and easy to move stuff while doing the lion’s share of the work; so instead of wooden dresser drawers we had cubbies, baskets and plastic units. Bonus if you can also use them instead of boxes for moving in, and later use them for laundry organisation. We did get a few items of forever stuff; there was a small walk in closet room we used for our wardrobe, and because we painted and carpeted that room first, we then got in some permanent units, but things in the main rooms were very ‘organised but temporary’. So, instead of bedside tables we had IKEA stools and instead of couches we had garden recliners and we had an aerobed instead of a real one at first. But it was a really good one, I wouldn’t try to do any amount of decorating on poor sleep. The only permanent thing we splashed out real cash on straight away was a fridge freezer. We had cubby storage units for general organisation and storage ottomans for coffee tables. Basically if you can organise how you sleep, eat, dress and keep things stored without filling the house with furniture, the following things will happen; you can get at the floors and walls much more easily to decorate, you can clean up the decorating dust (so much dust) more easily, you can avoid covering the new furniture in dust and paint, you can buy furniture when it’s on sale, and you can spend more time visualising the room and how you want it to look instead of buying things piecemeal because you feel you need it straight away.

    15. The Other Dawn*

      I’ll speak to repairs.

      We’re approaching roughly 28 years of home ownership. Our first house was a foreclosure, built in 1920, and needed work due to the previous owner’s son and his dog pretty much doing whatever they wanted. We did a ton of work ourselves in that house due to being near broke much of the time (we were young), but hired out the big things, like replacing the roof and refinishing all the hardwood floors. Thankfully my husband is extremely handy and is the type of person who can read a book or watch a YouTube video and know how to do something. I’ve learned a lot simply by helping him.

      Our current house was built in 1735 and didn’t need any work when we moved in nine years ago; however, there’s now a lot of cosmetic work needed due to the previous owner’s family (owner was deceased) just slapping on a bunch of paint with no surface prep and laying down very cheap carpeting. We’ve had some big things over the years to deal with, which is mostly the well, its pressure tank, and the pump. We hired out having the barn roof replaced and having the well pump replaced.

      I’ve learned that everything costs two to three times as much as we think it will and takes much longer due to snags we encounter along the way that we didn’t account for. When painting a ceiling with a roller, wear a hat and goggles–it’s a messy job. Also, hire out the jobs we want done right (and fast) and for which we may need a warranty, like the barn roof.

      When determining what you can do yourself versus what you should hire out, consider how handy you are, how much time you have to devote to the project, how fast you want it done, and whether it’s something, like a roof or siding, that should be hired out so you have some kind of warranty.

      I would say, now that I’m older, I’m much more willing, as is my husband, to hire out many more jobs that we would have in our younger years. I mean, we’re 48 and 54 and can do the work, but if we have the money, why not just hire it out? My time is much more precious to me these days and I’m not willing to do nearly as much DIY stuff as I was in my 20s. Plus, between a lumbar fusion, hip replacement, and remaining back and hip issues, there are certain things I just won’t do for safety reasons.

    16. Observer*

      What repairs should we hire for vs. doing ourselves?

      A lot depends on how handy you are, how comfortable you are with the work, and how deatil oriented you are with things like safety.

      For example, electric work. Most of that stuff should be handled by an electrician. But there are a lot of things you can do yourself if you are reasonably handy and careful. So, things like changing your outlets and switches, putting up fixtures, etc. But you need to be careful – use the right tools and make sure that you identify the correct circuit breaker and shut the circuit before getting started.

      When it comes to other stuff, there is a much wider range, but still the same thing applies. I know people who have done major renovations on their home themselves. But most people I know could not do all of those things – and some people probably shouldn’t try even that much.

      And, yes, youtube videos can be hugely helpful, assuming you’re up to doing it. But make sure that the people you are taking instruction from actually know what they are doing. Some do and some do not – sometimes in very dangerous ways.

      Any tips or tricks to make the moving process smoother?

      I haven’t read all of the comments, but I see that you got lots, so I’m going to assume that most of what I would have said was already said. The one thing I want to highlight is to have low expectations and not take on too much at once. The only things that you *need* to do before / as you move in are the safety stuff. Everything else can wait. So just choose the things that might really make a large difference in your comfort to start with and then move on from there, piece by piece as time, resources and finances allow.

    17. Fierce Jindo*

      If you have kids, are or will be pregnant soon, or have anyone medically vulnerable in your family, do repairs that off-gas (especially finishing floors, I think) as far in advance of moving in as you can, and consider zero-VOC paints even though they’re not as durable.

      1. Squidhead*

        Late post but if your house was built before 1978, assume that it has lead paint in the under-layers and approach any painting or reno projects accordingly.

  5. Lawn Etiquette ?*

    I am a new homeowner and I’m also on the spectrum. I thought I was prepared for lawn maintenance (mow front and back every single week) but I am realizing there’s a lot of subtle things I could be missing, no surprise. I realize there’s probably not one rule of lawns, but in general – 1) is it considered rude to let your lawn clippings go into a neighbor’s yard, even a little? 2) How about the street or the sidewalk? 3) If someone walks by on the sidewalk, is it okay to just move the mower away from them, or are you supposed to shut it off like a weedwhacker? I don’t have a bagged machine so I alter the way I mow to aim clippings to be raked afterwards. I asked my dad if a bag would be better but he said you end up stopping and emptying it so often, it’s not better than raking. Thoughts?

    1. OrdinaryJoe*

      Lots of lawn experience … my father turned that chore over to me when I was in 5th grade LOL with the statement/belief of … “What’s why I had a kid” :-)
      1. If you can avoid it, I would avoid spreading into the neighbors but ours have never cared that much. It’s easy to avoid though …
      2. Yes, in our neighborhood, it’s expected you don’t blow stuff (leaves, grass, etc.) on to the sidewalk or the street as much as possible.
      3. No expectation in my neighborhood that you shut off the machine but you do wave and smile :-) If I was cutting right on the sidewalk and someone was coming, I’d probably move a bit but they would also move over, too.

      Also, personal preference, but I don’t use a bag or rake, unless the lawn is really long or wet and the cuttings get clumpy. Mine just go back into the lawn and you can’t even see them. Good luck!

      1. OP*

        Thank you! Leaving it was my first approach, but I don’t think it’s working. My grass grows so fast in the summer that, even after a week, it’s long enough to make clumps, and it’s pretty unsightly. I can’t believe how much work it all is – probably 45 minutes to mow, then another 20 to rake, and I probably need to weedwhack weekly too. When I rake, I probably don’t get all of it, and I think it’s good for the grass to get some nutrients back. I don’t fertilize, water, or apply pesticides as I am an environmentalist, but the grass still looks nice and green.

        1. RagingADHD*

          If it’s growing that fast, you’re probably doing something right!

          If you’re in the house long term and want invest in upgrading the yard, you could replace the grass with a variety that grows more slowly or has a shorter maximum height. You can also over-seed from time to time with a seed mix that has those properties. There are a number of different “eco-lawn” and “low maintenance lawn” seed mixes on the market.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I would definitely avoid stuff going onto the sidewalk or street, because it’s messy to walk on and can clog grating and sewers. Lots of flooding occurs because of choked street drainage (I’ve had to vault over a LOT of mini-lakes over the years where I live, thanks to leaf blockages.)

    2. Enough*

      A few clippings are no big deal (electronic there are a lot) but trying to mow along property line so the clippings go into your yard is nuce. Just move away with the lawnmower.

    3. Squidhead*

      I disagree with your Dad about raking vs bagging. Our small city lawn (front and back) usually fills 2 bags and emptying the bag takes like 2 minutes! Raking would take me much more time and I always manage to get a blister on my thumb. So, I am anti-rake and pro-bag if those are your choices. However, if you are upgrading your mower anyway you could look at one that mulches. Then the clippings are smaller and you can just leave them in place. (We bag when we feel the compost pile needs grass, otherwise we mulch.)

      “Grass on the sidewalk” is pretty neighborhood dependent as to how big of a faux pas it might be. We use a (battery-powered) leaf blower to blow the scraps back onto our own lawn (since we’re either mulching or bagging there aren’t tons of scraps). Leaf blowers are forbidden in some places though (or at least the gas ones?) so it’s worth checking the rules. Otherwise we use a push broom (stiff bristles like you’d use for a warehouse floor) and sweep the clippings onto our own lawn.

      Pedestrians I smile and wave and try to be away from the sidewalk as they pass. I would kill the rotor or turn the mower if the grass was shooting towards the sidewalk as they passed.

      Neighbor’s lawns if your mower is spitting out big clumps you should rake those off the neighbor’s lawn or driveway I think. Our neighbor gets grass all over our driveway when he mows and then we wind up tracking it into our cars and house until we get out there and sweep it. So it seems a little inconsiderate although not enough to ask him to stop. I assume it gets on his driveway too (& I never see him sweep) so maybe he just doesn’t mind that it gets in his house and car.

    4. Ranon*

      I got a lawnmower with mulching blades- no matter how long the grass gets it chops the clippings into 1/4″ lengths and they just disappear into the lawn. Works on leaves in the fall too

      Not that you’re looking to replace your mower, but there is an alternative to raking or bagging!

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is interesting. Perhaps I can swap in “mulching blades” for the existing blades in my lawnmower (I hate bagging). To the hardware store!!

        1. Squidhead*

          If the blade exists, you’ll also need a mulch plug for the exit hole. I’m pretty sure mulching is just “not letting the grass escape until it’s really tiny”!

    5. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      As others have said, get a mulching blade. For clippings that go on the sidewalk or street, I use a leaf blower to blow them back into the yard. Much easier than sweeping. You don’t need a big fancy leaf blower – a small electric one will do. I got one from Aldi once that did a great job.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I was going to replace my whole lawn because it was so weedy and patchy, but before being able to buy and store a lawnmower I was just strimming and leaving the cuttings. I’m amazed at the improvement, it looks like green velvet now, and the birds appreciate the nesting material.

    6. ina*

      1) Depends on the neighbor. General rules from kindergarten is keep your hands to yourself, which I suppose applies to your things as well. But some people don’t mind if you get to it and don’t leave a pile sitting there.

      2) Polite to not litter common space, but again, it depends on the neighborhood

      3) No need to do more than turn it away, it’s a 5 second interaction. Even with a weed wackers, I’ve just seen people move it away and the person bustles along. A smile and mouthing ‘sorry’ is what I do, other person usually smiles back and says ‘it’s ok.’

      Most people aren’t fussy so long as you do things with respect :) The ones that are even when you do….well, there is no hope for them.

    7. Knighthope*

      Although I did both the front and back yards each time, I alternated which one I began in. So every other cut, an area got more energy and “extras” – edging, weed pulling, whatever.

    8. SnappinTerrapin*

      The grass clippings make good compost. If you have trees that shed leaves, you can “mow” the leaves in the fall to mix with grass clippings, too.

      Rid-X (a septic tank treatment, comes in a cardboard box) contains enzymes that can accelerate the decomposition of your compost to make a rich gardening soil.

      Bagging and raking is a matter of personal preference, but the cost-benefit analysis also depends on how thick your grass grows. Either is good.

      As for clippings on the neighbor’s lawn, reasonable people don’t expect perfection, but it is thoughtful to minimize your “intrusion” onto the neighbors’ space. Your instinct to mow towards your own lawn when near the property line is a courteous gesture that will be appreciated if noticed.

    9. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      Just an idea for you,, but we got rid of most our lawn and put in big patches of hummingbird, butterfly & bee friendly flowers. I also had edible (for people) plants mixed in. Actually took less maintenance & water.

    10. cat in cardboard box*

      Definitely don’t let clippings stay on the sidewalk or street, for multiple reasons.
      There is such a wide variety of neighbors that I wouldn’t take the chance of leaving clippings on their lawn unless I knew they would be ok with it.
      But — you really don’t need to rake the rest. The clippings go back into the soil to feed the new grass coming up. It’s so much preferable to needing to use store bought fertilizers, for multiple reasons.

  6. Script for A Tricky Discussion*

    My friend would like to put a weekly call on the calendar, and I don’t want to do this. There’s a bunch of reasons why, none of which will make my friend feel any better about my answer. I love her and I do want to keep talking occasionally (once a month, when we both want to?), but I don’t want to be on the hook for a phone call every single week. We did the weekly calls during the pandemic (so, it’s been several years now since we stopped) and I found it a bit of a burden, and then she scheduled another standing appointment on “our” night and I thought we were done. I don’t miss the pressure of needing a weekly call and I feel perfectly close to her through text. She apparently does miss the calls and has asked a few times now for us to pick a new night. I can’t figure out a way to decline without hurting her feelings, or if I do have to hurt her feelings, doing so in the kindest way. It really isn’t about not caring about her or not wanting to hear about her life, but she’s sensitive and will definitely jump to that conclusion. How can I put this to her? I need a specific line I can practice saying in advance, or else I’ll end up relenting and getting back into a schedule that didn’t work for me (yes, I do tend to be a people pleaser!).

    1. allathian*

      It sounds like she wants more calls than you do, and that’s tough. Would you be comfortable with calling every two weeks instead?

      1. SFATD*

        Hmm … probably not, if it was a scheduled thing on the calendar that I was expected to hold time for or apologize/ask to reschedule if I had a conflict. Some days I might be in the mood to chat on the night, but other days I’m just not. It really is more about me than her (although there are some things that would help, like committing to keeping the calls shorter 20-30 minutes and having a designated start time, not just “she’ll call me when her kid falls asleep.” But even with both those changes, I still don’t want to “have” to call her).

        1. English Rose*

          Am I right in assuming you don’t live close by so you don’t actually see her (hence the calls)?
          Can you be vague about your schedule and that it’s unpredictable so you can’t commit? And is it something about the calls themselves?
          Like many people I hate phone calls. I have one close friends where we schedule a catch-up on Zoom, which feels much friendlier as we can see each other and it makes for better conversation.

          1. SFATD*

            Correct, we are college friends who now live in different states and rarely see each other in person. Sometimes one of us has a conference in the other person’s area, or we deliberately try to plan a get-together or a girl’s trip, but this is not even every year.

        2. Gummies*

          Could you have it set up so that if either of you feels like talking, you send a text and ask if the other person has time for a phone call right then or at a specific time that day? Then if you don’t feel like talking, you can decline (or ignore the text and say later that you didn’t see it because you were busy).

          You could say the scheduling thing makes it feel too much like work or like a chore, or say you want more flexibility.

        3. One of the Sarahs*

          Is it the recurring schedule or having it scheduled at all that’s a problem? I’ve done a recurring social call that isn’t on a specific cadence, we just schedule the next call at the end of the last one. It’s easier to adjust for general busy-ness and doesn’t feel as much like a chore, but still provides predictability for your friend.
          Is it generally true that your friend appreciates structure and predictability, while you would rather be more spontaneous? My partner and I have dealt with this difference a lot. It can be difficult to find a balance that works for both of you; but it’s much easier dealt with if it’s named so you can talk about it directly.
          I’d take some time to reflect deeply on what it is about a scheduled call that is specifically uncomfortable for you; and imagine talking with your friend in an ideal scenario (you seem to have done a lot of this): how do you decide to call? who calls who? how long do you talk?
          The approach I’d take, talking about it with your friend, is to emphasize that you do enjoy talking with her (assuming that this is true) but that the schedule itself is uncomfortable for you, which gets in the way of being happy with the conversation. This can be a difficult thing to explain to someone who finds comfort in structure. I’d also ask what it is about the schedule that she finds comforting, and if she can think of other ways besides a weekly calendar item that would give her similar comfort. If you can make the conversation about finding a way to meet both of your needs, I think the two of you can find some solution that works for you both.

          1. Midwest MJ*

            Very good answer. I’d add the question “Is it the phone call itself” that is uncomfortable.

            I heavily dislike talking on the phone but would be open to occasional emails or texts as an alternative.

          2. What about …*

            I think this is great advice if it was a BFF or partner or close family member, but that’s not the case here. LW is trying to set a boundary and needs some help communicating that — vs. looking for a solution that makes everybody comfortable.

        4. Ellis Bell*

          Would it be possible for you to initiate more surprise phone calls on those nights when you feel like it? If you initiate you could be more in control of the timings, like “I only have ten minutes before I have to leave the house but I’ve got to tell you about my morning!” This would make it easier to reject her schedule solution because you can say; “The reason I really like our texts is that I think scheduling would be difficult and I get really stressed about having to cancel appointments with people I care about. How about I just try to call you more and if you’re busy, you can just say so?”

    2. GoryDetails*

      I was going to suggest a less-frequent schedule too, but if that still doesn’t work for you – maybe try going with “the scheduling thing really makes me feel overwhelmed right now; can we text or email or even snail-mail instead?”

    3. Cardboard Marmalade*

      Assuming you guys are both on the same page about not wanting to fall out of touch completely, I recommend you start with saying something like, “Staying in touch with you is important to me, and I think it’s a good idea for us to be intentional about making time for check-ins, but I’m struggling with feeling overbooked lately. Let’s try a monthly check-in and see how that feels.”
      I think the more you can make your approach sound like “Hey, hon, can you help me out?”, the less it will end up sounding like, “Omg, I can’t deal with you.”

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I think this is great. It acknowledges that you appreciate your friend and keeps the focus on the impact to you rather than on her. If she takes it personally, and she still might, that’s her issue to own. People get to have their own wants and needs and she is allowed to feel some type of way about it, but that’s not your responsibility to manage or fix. Solidarity.

    4. RagingADHD*

      “I don’t know that I can keep up with every week anymore, and I wouldn’t want to flake on you. How about once a month, and then we’ll surprise each other in between?”

      1. Celeste*

        I like this. I was going to suggest something like, “So much of my life is already scheduled with work, etc. that I really crave some unscheduled time when I don’t have to worry if I want to change plans at the last minute.” It’s not about her – it’s about the schedule.

    5. Bibliovore*

      I have a friend who lives far away and after my husband died we had weekly check-ins on our schedule. Sometimes we talked while making dinner, other times we sat and knit and chatted. If something came up- work, other plans, dates, travel, naps etc, we just sent a text, can’t make it this week.
      If we had the pressure to talk EVERY week, I think that would be a situation like yours.
      Also- the call can be 5 minutes or 10 or if we planned it, we watched a tv show at the same time.
      I think if my friend said, hey this isn’t working for me, I would appreciate that.

    6. somehow*

      In addition to what other commenters have said, it sounds like ultimately you will have to leave her to manage her own reaction once you do express your discomfort with her to y’all’s current arrangement. It’s lovely of you to want to be as gentle as possible, but any friendship should be able to stand the test of honesty. If it can’t, well, there are other things that you and she should discuss. Good luck!

    7. KeinName*

      I think there are some very kind scripts here already! I just want to say that I understand you feeling stressed by a weekly mandatory phone call. I‘d accept a weekly cake (would welcome it in fact) with my best friend, and would hold space for it, but other than that I wouldn’t want to book more stuff into my calendar. And I don’t have many obligations apart from work, almost zero in fact. But I don’t want to spend my time notifying people if I have a scheduling conflict, and not being able to relax at night because I am waiting for a phone call.
      And I think you can be honest with needing unstructured free time (if that might be the case) or not having energy in the evening for a long conversation, while also emphasising your eagerness to find a mutually satisfactory way to remain connected.

    8. What Are The Odds*

      I just wanted to say that I think you not wanting to do a scheduled weekly call is very reasonable. That seems like a lot for two busy adults with a lot of other obligations in life! Once a month sounds a lot more doable.

    9. Hola Playa*

      I use app Marco Polo with friend groups and individuals. It’s asynchronous but still feels personal and connected because of the video, and you can also text and send pics. I too cannot with the frequently scheduled calls. If y’all try it, it’s possible it may bring up wanting more, but that’s a larger conversation about needs and boundaries. If it’s just more personal catching up, maybe this is an option for y’all.

    10. What about …*

      Maybe something like … “I know we did that during the pandemic, but I like having more flexibility in my schedule now.” Or, “I don’t always know when I’ll be free each week, so can we just connect when it’s a good time for us both to talk — or check in with texts?” Or, “I have so many scheduled things already. It’s more relaxing and fun to catch up when I’m in the right frame of mind. Can we just keep things flexible?”

    11. Katydid*

      One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet that’s helped me balance pleasing others vs. setting/keeping my own boundaries: remind yourself that you get to choose which expectations you will meet. Lifting that internal pressure to conform to someone else’s expectations can make it easier to say ‘no’ gently and matter-of-factly. Of course you don’t have any obligation to wear yourself down with weekly scheduled calls; that won’t work for you and it’s fine to say it won’t work for you even if that disappoints your friend.

      Do you have a household member you could role play this discussion with, so you’re comfortable responding to the various ways your friend might react?

      I have a dear friend who often calls me several times a week, occasionally several times a day, even when we’ve spoken together already. I have a disability that leaves me with little energy, so once a week is usually all I can manage. I don’t pick up the other calls. I feel bad about it, but I simply can’t talk that often. I’ve also learned to say, ‘I’m getting really tired so I have to hang up now,’ even if we haven’t talked long. If I wear myself out talking, I will struggle for the rest of the day! Dear Friend accepts these boundaries. I hope yours accepts your boundaries, too.

      P.S. Please don’t take my anecdote as meaning that a weekly phone call is okay. What’s okay is what works for you, and that’s once a month. (Once-a-month is too often for me with another old friend, because those calls tend to be emotionally demanding, last 1-3 hours, and tire me out too much. I call them when I have the strength, and that’s not often, unfortunately. That’s just the way it is.)

  7. Feather beds?*

    Anyone have a feather bed? I have some extra money and I really really really want one.
    I have been searching on line and there have been mixed reviews as well as a price range of hundreds of dollars.
    Anyone have one that they love?
    Where did it come from?
    Pitfalls?
    Stuff to watch out for?

    1. GoryDetails*

      If you haven’t already tried a feather bed, do that first; I remember being fascinated by the descriptions of feather beds in fiction, and was horribly disappointed when I got a chance to lie on one. I really dislike the feeling of sinking into a too-soft mattress!

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Came here to say this! Also learned that my running nose in winter was due to the down coat more than due to seasonal colds—So (feathered) bullet dodged!

    2. Bibliovore*

      I do have one that I loved but had pulled off the tags and don’t remember where I got it. It’s a full size and my bed is queen. I ready to spend the big bucks but am worried about making an purchasing error.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      No, but there’s a John Denver song called. “Grandma’s Feather Bed” that always made me want one.

    4. Alex*

      I had one when I was a little kid. Yes, that’s weird I realize, but I REALLY REALLY wanted one and so my grandmother bought one for me. I had a weird obsession with being in/under tons of fluffy cozy blankets. Some little girls long for ponies, others, for…giant piles of high quality bedding.

      I loved that thing so much, but when I went away to college I didn’t take it with me and honestly I’m not sure what happened to it after that :(. I did make my dad “fluff” it every night for me before I got into bed lol–you have to do that or else you are just lying on a pile of compressed feathers.

      My grandmother bought one from The Company Store, I believe (she also bought me a bunch of other stuff from them so I am just guessing that was also from there), but this was in the 90s and I feel like their quality is not what it was then. I wouldn’t skimp, though–you don’t want feathers poking you or leaking out.

    5. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I have a lot of pillows, one of them feather, and it took way too long to realise that it was the cause of me waking up with a blocked nose every morning. Although it had a pillow protector and a pillow case on it, particles from the feathers can easily be breathed in. They are also not very cleanable
      It was very soft to rest my head on- but not worth breathing in the feather dander. So I recommend you try a feather pillow first to see if that works for you!
      As a kid I had a feather quilt on my bed- fantastically warm, made by a local farmer from just general feathers, no fancy messing about with feather trimming, frequently a great long quill would spike through the cover and I would pull it out; seagull feathers seemed the spikiest.

    6. Goldfeesh*

      Just make sure that:

      It’d hold eight kids and four hound dogs
      And a piggy we stole from the shed

      ;) I hadn’t thought of that song for awhile.

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      Aha! An AAM question I feel confident in answering! I worked for a natural bedding company for 14 years.
      These days, what works well is not a feather mattress but a feather topper. It’s about 2-4 inches thick and sits on top of your mattress and under your sheets. So thing #1, make sure your fitted sheets have deeeep pockets.

      Generally speaking, you want something that has divisions internal to the construction. Look for Baffle Box construction (shy away from Mock Baffle Box). The good news is, the feathers won’t move as much. The bad news is, the feathers won’t move. Thing #2, every time you change your sheets, you’ll need to fluff the thing vigorously to keep them from matting down.

      It goes without saying, but feathers are a natural product. The quill end will poke. Feathers will leak and poke. It’s part of the nature of the beast. If it’s poking too much, try putting a mattress pad over the feather topper and under your sheets. Protection is also good because you really can’t wash it. Thing 3, any stains can be topically washed but drying is very important, otherwise you’ll smell like a dead duck.

      And finally, as before, feathers are a natural product. They will break down over time. A normal life span is about five years and by 10, you’re sleeping on dust (and dust mites.)

      I worked for Pacific Coast Feather Company. The name is still around but they were purchased a few years ago by another company. When i was there, they also made the Northern Nights brand for QVC. The purchase and layoffs were about 6 years ago, so I can’t speak to their current quality.

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        And finally, as before, feathers are a natural product. They will break down over time. A normal life span is about five years and by 10, you’re sleeping on dust (and dust mites.)

        This just put a whole bunch of things into perspective for me. Thank you!

  8. Hotdog not dog*

    We’re getting ready to bring our only child to college next week. Neither my husband or I went, so we are really and truly in the dark about what to expect for our son and also for ourselves. I know a lot of people in the AAM community work in higher education; what are we likely overlooking? It really feels like all the other families know things we don’t.
    I’m super excited and very proud of him, and I know he’s at the beginning of a great adventure. We took to heart the old adage about roots and wings, and want him to be able to fly. At the same time, I’m not really sure whether there’s anything else we should be doing to help him strengthen his wings.
    From what I see other parents doing, I’m not sure if we’re too involved or not involved enough. We’re trying to strike a balance between, “you’re on your own!” and, “here, let me help you!” We did get the poa for health care, but didn’t have him grant us access to his student portal. That seems like a step too far; I think he should take full ownership of his academic schedule, grades, and billing. We’re fortunate to be able to pay the bills, but he’s responsible for keeping track and helping with the paperwork for 529 withdrawals. He’s also responsible for paying a small portion.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.
    In the meantime, Best Good Dog has his work cut out for him as an unofficial emotional support animal. (Running fingers through soft husky fur is very soothing, but it makes the whole house look like a snow globe!)

    1. Sloanicota*

      How wonderful! Congratulations. I think every single parent struggles with being too hands on / too hands-off right at that stage. I remember my parents (in the years before cell phones) required a weekly call in order to keep the parental money flowing. They didn’t visit or expect me to come home until Thanksgiving or homecoming. If I had wanted to, they would have allowed it, but they really wanted me to try and “bloom where I’m planted.” They helped me set up a credit card at the student union and swore me to keeping a low balance and paying off the bill every single month (they had no access to the account and it was only my money, earned at my student job). Also, my dad sat me down and reminded me that this was a huge privilege, and they were only agreeing to pay if I was doing my best – they didn’t check my grades, but if I didn’t finish in four years, they weren’t going to pay for any extra time (or grad school).

      1. Sloanicota*

        I should add, the point of the credit card was to establish credit, and I’m really grateful they did that, as the date of your oldest account is reflected in your credit score. Many of my fellow students graduated with no credit rating and then struggled to rent apartments or set up utilities (this was in the Midwest, might not be true everywhere). Not something I would have done on my own.

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          Over 10 years ago, we added our daughter to one of our cards for emergencies. It’s a credit card I opened as a college freshman. She’s still on there because occasionally she’ll run errands for me and it’s easy for her to have a card we pay for to use for that. When she went to get a car loan a few years ago, her credit rating was flagged because the account was older than she was! Made me laugh, but it was also puzzling because I didn’t think her being an authorized user on my card would even show up on her credit report. I had to write a letter of explanation to the credit union she was getting the loan from.

        2. Clisby*

          We did that for both our kids – for each I started out with a low-limit credit card in both our names, because that goes against both our credit scores. My daughter switched to one entirely in her name when she turned 21, and I’m about to have my son do that too.

        3. Hotdog not dog*

          We’ve told him we’re only paying for 4 years, any more than that will be his responsibility. He’s also responsible for paying 10%, and it’s his choice whether that’s through scholarships or work. His senior year of high school he decided that it was too much work to write essays, so he’s been working construction all summer to cover his 10%. He’s already started looking up scholarships for next year, LOL!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Context: My children are 22 and 27.

      I think you are hitting the right balance on having him significantly help with financial paperwork and you not having access to the academic portal. Doing stuff and bearing the consequences is how you learn–parents are great when they stay back and treat their kids as capable, but will kick in when asked for complicated adult problems like “I don’t understand this line on this financial form” or “I have to figure out having knee surgery.”

      On a college tour a decade ago the guide described a parent who had set up a webcam in her son’s room so that she could call to get him up, if she saw he was sleeping through class in the morning. I have met my share of these parents, and I think the difference is not “kids these days” but “tech these days”–no one was able to set up a streaming video feed from my freshman dorm.

      Kids away at school for the first time love pictures of their family pets being adorable. Expect less phone contact this fall as he’s trying on a new sense of self that isn’t defined so heavily by first asking how your parents feel about things.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That last part is so true — our family chat is “Cat Watching Club”, because it’s mostly pics of our kittens! Our kid is heading into their senior year of undergrad, and we all chat a fair amount, but we’ve always been close. They managed their own time and schoolwork in high school, so while I was concerned because I know (from hard personal experience) that college is a whole ‘nother level of all that, our kid did fine with it. It was tough and stressful, but I had warned them how I had trouble adjusting and they might have avoided it just to rub my nose in it, which is just fine with me! :D

        1. Sloanicota*

          I can’t imagine going away to college now, when constant texting is such a thing. I’m on group texts with my family and I also text directly with my mother a good amount – but I’m in my 40s now and I like to do it. It would have been so hard to break away at 21 if I was able to chat like this – and even harder for my mom!

          1. PhyllisB*

            That’s when I learned to text, when my son went to college. He wouldn’t answer his phone half the time, and never listened to voice-mail, so that’s the only way I could tell him anything. And let me tell you, on those old style flip phones texting was a real pain. I didn’t worry him to death, I would just tell him something he needed to know or send him a dumb joke to make him laugh. I told him he didn’t have to respond unless I asked him a question that required an answer, but he usually would.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, and this thread hasn’t really touched much on the dorm room. Do NOT let social media posts or even real-life classmates make you feel like the dorm has to be done up like a Martha Stewart catalog. I think most of us here with college-age kids were of the generation where posters taped to the cinderblock walls was considered “decorated”. Our kid is far from first-gen, but has picked up on our practical, frugal habits, and their biggest “need” for their dorm room was a coffee pod machine. They also were fine with bringing the bare essentials and adding stuff (although they are only an hour away, so they know we could buy something for them on a weekend and drive it back).

          Oh, a mattress topper (foam, often with an egg crate texture) is one thing I never would have thought of but most students today consider essential.

          Even if they’re across the country, most things other than furniture can be ordered and shipped AFTER they are there and can tell what is available to them and what they are missing. Furniture is harder, but we still have some items in our house that we picked out of the trash during college, since they’re still quite functional! And chances are your kid can find stuff on Craigslist or Freecycle and get a bunch of friends to help them carry it.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            THIS. Dorm rooms are teeny weeny. Pack twice the socks, underwear and tee shirts then he thinks he’ll need and halve everything else.

            If he doesn’t already know how make sure he starts doing his own laundry so he understands sorting and ironing. This includes washing sheets!

            Sometimes homesickness can be delayed reaction. The first few weeks are exciting and chaotic so he might be high on his new life, but having an “out of nowhere” swamp of sadness isn’t unusual or wrong or “I should be over this by now.”

            1. Observer*

              If he doesn’t already know how make sure he starts doing his own laundry so he understands sorting and ironing. This includes washing sheets!

              That and the basics of cooking / food prep, even if he’s on a meal plan and has access to the dining hall or whatever they call it these days. Life happens and being able to take care of your basic needs is always going to make weird stuff easier to deal with.

      2. Clisby*

        My daughter went off to college in … 2014, I think? Anyway, we settled into a weekly phone call on Sat. or Sun., because we like to talk to each other.

        One girl in her dorm got calls from her mother and her father (separately) EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

        I told my daughter she was welcome to call anytime she wanted to talk to us, but no way I’d have been instigating a call every day.

        My son started in 2020, but he’s in college in the city we live in. We see him reasonably often, and of course it’s less stressful because (a) he’s child #2 and (b) we’re right here. So if he really needed us we’re only abou5 2 miles away.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          In the 80s, one girl in my freshman dorm called her mom and read her aloud, over the landline phone, every paper she wrote.

          I proofread my kids’ papers when they were in high school, but that stopped when they left for college.

          1. Clisby*

            I went off to college in 1971, and was like “WHEE! I’m free!” I cannot imagine talking that much to my parents. Of course, I was the eldest of 6, so maybe they were thinking, “WHEE! We’re 1/6 of the way to free!”

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, when I went to college in the early 90s I stayed in the same city. I’ve always been on good terms with my parents who practically kicked my sister and me out of the apartment when we were old enough. We lived in a 600 sq ft one bedroom apartment and my parents had curtained off part of the living room for their bed while my sister and I shared the bedroom. I was 19 and my sister still a minor at 17 when we moved out. But we stayed in the same building and still had access to their washing machine. I worked in a grocery store, and when I was about 21 I saw that they had my mom’s favorite laundry detergent on sale, so I bought her some, and the she said something like “now I believe you’re all grown up!”

          When I went to France as an exchange student in the mid-90s, I had a phone in my room that I didn’t use much. I didn’t need it locally and international calls were expensive, but it was the only way my parents could call me in an emergency. We had an agreement for me to call them every Sunday afternoon and reverse charges. Sometimes I called my bestie as well, but then I obviously paid the phone bill myself. A couple years later when I went to Spain as an intern, I called my parents on Sundays from a phone booth (remember those?), and they could call me at work. A part of my job was to answer the phone, which made things easier on their end. My boss was a very family-oriented person, so I never got any flak for talking a few minutes on the phone with my mom when she called, and she didn’t call often. I was there for 6 months and she called twice or three times in all that time.

        3. Jay (no, the other one)*

          My kid is 23. Her first year in college she said “I heard those stories about moms who call to wake their kids up for class and I thought that was made up. Then I met Elizabeth.” I stopped being her alarm clock when she was 12. She wanted to set her own bedtime, which meant she was responsible for getting herself up and ready for school. I didn’t keep track of her assignments ever – not in first grade and certainly not in HS.

          She was 3,000 miles away (still is a year after graduating) and I hated the thought that I couldn’t get there right away if she needed me. The two times she was really sick (once nearly needing hospitalization) were the worst and I am so so so grateful that my village extends across the country. My one piece of advice to parents with kids going to college far afield is to try and figure out who can be your boots on the ground in a real emergency.

          We didn’t require phone calls and I rapidly figured out that it was a good sign when I didn’t hear from her for days. When she was struggling, she texted and called a few times a day.

          1. JR*

            When I was about 24, I was living in a big apartment building in NYC that had been converted from an office building – the building was deep (lots of shared walls) and the walls were thin and you could hear everything. Our next door neighbor was maybe 28 or so, and every morning we could hear his phone ring over and over and over. Eventually we learned his mom was calling him from India to wake him up after he’d regularly sleep through his alarm. Meanwhile, this guy was working at Goldman or whatever.

      3. Texan In Exile*

        “a webcam in her son’s room”

        Ummmmmm……………..

        Sleeping isn’t the only thing that happened in my college bed just saying.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          And if they have a roommate (quite probable) they may have something to say about it as well! I wouldn’t want my OWN parents watching me like that, let alone someone else’s.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, it’d be a breach of privacy for sure.

            I’m in Finland and we start first grade in the year we have our 7th birthday (with one year of compulsory preschool), which means that when people complete their K-12 education they’re either 18 or 19 and legally responsible adults. Because tuition is free here up to and including a master’s degree, parents don’t even have the excuse of “I’m paying for your education so I have the right to monitor your progress” going on. Sure, being a student is expensive even here and most people either get support from their parents or work part time, or get a loan, or all three, because the student subsidy isn’t high enough to live on as the only source of financing. Undoubtedly there are students who face pressure from their parents as a condition for continued support, but it’s by no means the norm. And universities and other institutions of further education are not allowed to give out information about the progress of a student to anyone other than the student without explicit written permission from the student that can be rescinded at any time. Students giving their college portal logins to their parents can be suspended and the parents faced with charges of identity theft, even if the student handed the logins over voluntarily.

            1. Observer*

              Undoubtedly there are students who face pressure from their parents as a condition for continued support, but it’s by no means the norm. And universities and other institutions of further education are not allowed to give out information about the progress of a student to anyone other than the student without explicit written permission from the student that can be rescinded at any time.

              Even without the free tuition, this is mostly true in the US as well.

              FERPA (the US privacy law) has real teeth. And whether or not parents are paying tuition / other expenses or not, they still need explicit written permission from the student to access any information. Believe me, the schools are generally VERY careful about this stuff. Both from self interest in not wanting to deal with parents who are overly involved (so they love being able to say “SO Sorry! But we really, really can’t give you any information. It’s against the law. Yes, it’s terrible, but there is nothing we can do about it.”) But also, because it *is* the law and they could be facing some stiff penalties for violating the rules.

          2. Observer*

            And if they have a roommate (quite probable) they may have something to say about it as well! I wouldn’t want my OWN parents watching me like that, let alone someone else’s.

            Yes, I was wondering about that. How did the school allow this? Seems waaaay over the top.

        2. Observer*

          Ummmmmm……………..

          Sleeping isn’t the only thing that happened in my college bed just saying.

          Weellll,

          I’m betting that either Mom is thinking “Not MY precious angel! He’s not ready for that!” (I mean she apparently sees him as a 6yo, so this is not out of the realm of possibility.)

          OR

          This is *exactly* what she is *really* worried about, and is trying to prevent. (Which sounds overly controlling, but then again, who puts a web cam in their child’s room?!)

      4. Hotdog not dog*

        I absolutely do NOT want to know what goes on in my son’s dorm room! Ignorance is bliss…a Webcam is beyond bananas!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          And on that note – If you haven’t already, make sure someone has a Talk with him – about consent (on both sides), what that might look like if one or both parties has been drinking, safe sex, what to do if something unsafe happens, yes I promise the campus health care has seen more than a few drippy faucets so get it sorted out ASAP instead of hiding out of embarrassment, you don’t want to be on the hook for child support at your age but once the swimmers are out you don’t get any further say in what happens so be careful, the condom you had in your wallet since you were 14 is probably not still in great shape so get a new box, etc etc. All that good stuff that parents don’t want to think about their kids needing to know, but that their kids probably really do need to know.

          1. Girasol*

            Also the talk about alcohol. It’s kids’ first chance to get really drunk without anyone saying they can’t. There’s a lot of experimenting and a lot of peer pressure to keep up with others who drink to excess. The kids I remember who dropped out in freshman or sophomore year had made drinking, rather than studying, the core of their college experience. You can’t control that but you can warn him to consider how much is at stake and to plan ahead how he’ll deal with peer pressure to drink excessively.

          2. Hotdog not dog*

            Oh, we’ve had multiple versions of The Talk starting around middle school. Including subtopics Consent, Safety, Substances, and STD and pregnancy prevention. Since my mother waited until I was 25 and married to even mention the birds and bees, I decided that I was going to do the exact opposite!
            I’m not naive, I’m sure he’s done things I’d rather not think about, I just hope he feels comfortable coming to us if he gets in over his head.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Excellent! I don’t recall ever getting any version of The Talk from my parents, I think they assumed that between school’s sex ed and the fact that I started reading bodice rippers at 8 (I had already read everything else in the house, including the entire world book encyclopedia, and I wasn’t old enough to go to the library on my own yet), I’d probably ask questions if I had any? Which worked out okay for me, but probably isn’t a great solution in general. :P

      5. Observer*

        On a college tour a decade ago the guide described a parent who had set up a webcam in her son’s room so that she could call to get him up, if she saw he was sleeping through class in the morning.

        Making like a fish right now, try to keep my mouth from staying open!

        This is kind of one of the downsides of the technology. On the other hand, what would you bet that parents like this would not have allowed their son to go to a school where he would have to dorm, before this tech existed?

        I’m curious, why did the guide tell you about this? What was the context?

    3. Granny Weatherwax*

      It sounds like you’re on the right track. I had (and still have even after college) a weekly video call with my parents. It creates a time to catch up and talk and can be very helpful if he has any home sickness. Don’t ask any questions where you aren’t prepared for the answer ie. if you have a problem with underage drinking don’t grill him about if he has been drinking, he’s likely going to do questionable things but that’s part of college. Make sure he’s aware of any mental health resources since college is a big life change and can be hard on some people’s mental health.

      1. Clisby*

        We still have a weekly weekend call with our 27-year-old daughter, who’s a PhD candidate. It is a nice time to catch up on things, but we definitely don’t grill her about her personal life.

        1. allathian*

          I’m 51 and I still call my mom once a week, sometimes more often than that but not daily. We talk about what’s going on in our lives in general. My mom’s celebrating her 77th birthday next month, so these days the roles have somewhat reversed in the sense that I worry more about her than she worries about me. She’s getting a bit frail as she ages, and she needs our help more than we need hers, although she’s still the best baker in the family and all of us appreciate her cakes and cookies when she feels like baking.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Except STRESS the no getting behind the wheel after drinking, and don’t ride with anyone under the influence.
        I have a niece who is now a quadriplegic now because she rode with her boyfriend.

    4. Cardboard Marmalade*

      As far as roots goes, I think that while you’re there getting him settled in, it could be very useful to physically walk with him to the various support offices: tutoring services, mental health counseling, and whoever the point person is for helping students understand financial aid– those are the big three I’m thinking of.

      Physically going to the location and meeting even just the receptionist at the front desk will lay that extra little bit of groundwork and familiarity/comfort, which could make a real difference in whether or not he puts off reaching out to those places for help if he finds himself struggling or in crisis. It also provides you guys with an opportunity to have a conversation with him, explicitly, about what warning signs he might be on the lookout for to know that he needs to ask for help, and for you as parents to be really clear that an important part of being a responsible adult is not being afraid to ask for support when you need it.

      Too many first gen college students feel overwhelmed by the combination of culture shock and pressure to succeed, and end up feeling stuck and unable to reach out to let someone know they can’t keep their head above water. So make sure that he knows where those resources are, and that you really hope he uses them if he starts to feel overwhelmed.

    5. Bibliovore*

      See if there is a “first gen” program at the college. I was first gen (a hundred years ago) and there were many shockers that other students took for granted.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Can you happen to think of any specifically? I would like to help a young neighbor prepare and he’s first-gen also.

        1. Generic Academic*

          There are tons of programs, some grant-funded and some not grant-funded and it will really depend on the school if they have the programs or not. Some to look for would be EOPS, Upward Bound, McNair, or anything with the TRIO SSS (Student Support Service) funded line in the description. These are all nation-wide programs that help first-gen students but again, the school itself might have its own program rather than one of these.

        2. Bibliovore*

          The university that I work at brings in the first-gen students as a cohort a few days before everyone else.
          My shocker from way back- Money, money, money.I had to buy my own books for classes! Lab fees! Transportation to events (and required field work). Cost of events. Money for food that wasn’t the “food plan” Money for laundry! Money to get back home. Not having a home to go to during breaks. (no meal plan for breaks, not being allowed to stay in student housing during breaks)
          Peer expectations (having no money for social stuff)
          Work/school/ time management.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            And how damn quickly money can vanish (especially once they find a crowd and start recreating, so to speak.) Beer, pizza…they add up!

          2. Ellis Bell*

            Partner and I are first gen students. We still talk about the cost of books and it’s been twenty years since either of us were at university.

          3. WorkingRachel*

            Seconding that money can be a surprise–he’ll need money on top of tuition and room and board, either from a job or from you guys, and he might not know for a while how much he really needs. I went to a very residential college with a required meal plan, but even there things added up, mostly not really optional: buying snacks or anything you wanted to eat outside of meal hall hours, clothes and sundries (needs don’t always arise conveniently at breaks), money for a lost ID, printing, laundry, whatever. Colleges are full of free entertainment, but he still might want to do some fun things that cost money, too. My first gen roommate really had to pinch her pennies in college–in her case, I don’t think her parents could afford to give her more, but I’m also not sure they realized the things she would need money for.

        3. Texan In Exile*

          I would share Anthony Abraham Jack’s book, “The Privileged Poor,” with any first-gen student. I was not a first-gen student but I am the child of a first-gen non-traditional student (my dad went to college on the GI Bill after he served in the Coast Guard) and it wasn’t until after I read Jack’s book a few years ago that I learned what office hours are.

          That is, they are not the hours when professors work but they are the hours when professors are available to answer student questions.

          I did not know that when I was in college.

          It would have been useful information.

          1. Pieforbreakfast*

            I didn’t know that finals were held on specific days/times and not just the usual class time. I missed two finals my first semester because of this. I was able to rescheduled them when I realized it but was incredibly embarrassed.

        4. Nicki Name*

          One of the most common first-generation mistakes is thinking that they need to just put their heads down and get through things on their own because they’re supposed to be on the way to becoming independent adults. Don’t just get the kid the number of the first-gen office, encourage them to go to any programs it offers and emphasize that it is completely okay and normal to ask for help when things get tough, talk to their professors, etc.

    6. Generic Academic*

      Your child’s experience really depends on the type of college they are going to (a University is going to be very different, class-wise, than a state school or a private college – I’ve worked at every level of college and private schools in California and one in Texas. The state their college is in is also going to influence their experience) – but one thing that can be hard for a first-generation college student (speaking from experience and from what I’ve seen with my students – I’ve also worked in support services and with low-income, first-generation college students specifically) is not understanding the expectations and bureaucracy involved in college. There’s also the shock of how much academic commitment there needs to be, which heavily depends on their major and their program. Here’s some general things to keep in mind that could really help:

      1) You want to make sure your child knows who their academic advisor is. This is the person that can help them with bureaucracy and program requirements. Some programs automatically assign an advisor to students and some don’t – so make sure your student finds someone that can help demystify program requirements.

      2) Encourage your student to find a support program, one that aligns with their academic goals. This is not a fraternity or club but rather a school supported or grant supported program aimed at helping your student with academic support. There are tons of programs out there called, for example, TRIO which are grant-funded programs across the U.S. that help first-generation college students (which it sounds like your child is). TRIO programs are generally not restricted by major and offer support across disciplines. This can help your student with not just extra support with demystifying bureaucracy but also in academic support and expectations.

      3) A general rule of thumb is for every unit a student is enrolled in, they are expected to do two hours of studying and one hour homework. That means if your student is enrolled in college full-time, which is usually 12 units, they are expected to do 36 hours of additional studying and homework outside of class. While this isn’t always what a student’s workload looks like, a lot of students under schedule time for studying and homework and end up putting off a lot of work until the night before its due and it really does show. Helping your child setup a schedule that takes into account their habits (e.g. they have to watch a show at 6 or whatever) but also fits an extra two hours of studying and one hour of homework in a day with some specific time off is really helpful. When they don’t need the full three hours, they have free time and when they do need the time to study and work, they aren’t scrambling to find it.

      4) Sophomore year is when students drop out. This is a general trend across colleges. One thing that we’ve found really helpful is making sure the student forms a supportive community. That’s something joining a program, joining a club or honor society, or working on campus as a tutor or in the school library can really help with.

      5) I also want to bring up that it’s great that you and your partner are supportive of your child going to college. Just being there and being supportive is going to help a lot. Believe it or not, there are a lot of students out there with parents who think college is a waste of time or want their kids to switch to a more lucrative major and feel that whatever they are pursuing is a waste of money. College is a time of students to learn about themselves and their interests. Switching majors is fine. Doing something that seems like it might not pay well in the future is fine (most people don’t get jobs related to their BA degree anyway). Offering what support you can when you can and letting your child navigate academia with a bit of support but also a bit of freedom is going to help them a lot in the long run.

      6) If your student wants a master’s degree or more (this is a bit early to think about this, but it’s good to get out here anyway) they should start going to office hours of professors and getting to know them. They should also pursue some sort of undergraduate research. Many colleges have offices of undergraduate research now to support students.

      7) While it’s good that your student visit office hours to get to know their faculty and for academic support, it’s extra important if they’re going to a school with large lectures of 300 with Teaching Assistants (TAs) assigned to smaller discussion sections. Faculty are the ones who write letters of recommendation for future academic programs, scholarships, fellowships, summer research programs, etc. And that faculty member should know your child’s name. Also if your child absolutely hates large lectures, usually those are for more general first and second year classes and as they advance in their major, the class sizes get smaller and more intimate.

      8) Something I found extremely helpful back when I was a student was to put upcoming academic deadlines in my calendar day one. Once you get the course syllabus (which is an academic contract both the professor and the students are agreeing to), you have most of the deadlines and important dates for the course. It’s useful to plug those into a calendar and to plan assignments backwards (about two weeks for a term paper, for example) so that assignment don’t sneak up on you. Also, while I’m on the subject of the syllabus, if a professor goes against something written on the syllabus or moves a date without consulting the class and it messes with the students, the students are able to point to the syllabus and highlight that things were not clarified. Sometimes professors really appreciate this (especially if they are TAs teaching a course they’ve never taught before) and sometimes they do not. It really depends on your student but just let them know that the syllabus is a contract and it works both ways.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is great, although I also want to add the caveat that it’s something the student needs to be figuring out for themselves, not something the parent should (IMO) be hand-holding them through at this age. This is something I’d like to see parents walking kids through the first year of high school – after that maybe there’s just a book or a handout on good study skills – because you really can’t do it for them.

        1. Generic Academic*

          College work and high school work are very different. If a student did well and high school work was a breeze, they might not be prepped for the expectations of a college workload. I worked as a tutor while moving through academia and the #1 thing I did was help students learn how to schedule and plan for assignments. They didn’t lack the knowledge, just the ability to schedule.

          1. Clisby*

            I was so glad my son was able to take dual enrollment classes for most of his high school senior year credits. It was at the same college he now attends, so he had gotten a really good look at what the college expects, what professors expect, time management when you’re in a class only 2 or 3 days a week, etc.

            1. allathian*

              Yup, it was the same for me. It was the first time I felt that I fit in really well socially and that the people I hung out with genuinely liked me rather than merely tolerated me. The few friends I managed to find in high school and who also happened to go to the same college became even closer friends. I bloomed socially in college and really loved it. I don’t miss my teens or high school at all, but I sometimes wax nostalgic about the social parts of my college experience.

              Academically, though, it was hard at first because high school was so easy for me that when I first realized I had to actually study to not only get a decent grade but to simply pass the course, I was a bit overwhelmed. Some of my coursemates who had found it necessary to actually study in high school were much better at scheduling from the start, and while they found that they had to work harder at college than they had done in high school, their much better study habits made things easier for them. But when I learned to schedule things, things got easier to handle again.

        2. Texan In Exile*

          But this (below) is the sort of thing I never could have (and didn’t) figured out for myself. I wish my parents had told me to do this, because when I needed my grad school recommendations, it was hard for me to find profs who knew me, but they hadn’t even known about the SATs. (Thank goodness for my high school counselor.)

          (And again, referring to Anthony Abraham Jack’s book – this relationship-building with adults in power is something that wealthier, connected children are taught to do at a young age and that first gen children are definitely not taught to do. First-gen and first-gen adjacent kids are taught that adults with power are to be respected and avoided, not befriended.)

          “If your student wants a master’s degree or more (this is a bit early to think about this, but it’s good to get out here anyway) they should start going to office hours of professors and getting to know them. They should also pursue some sort of undergraduate research.”

      2. Ali*

        As a professor myself, I just want to highlight the part about how important it is that undergraduate students go to office hours. I am an ace recommendation letter-writer (and I’ve also served as a phone reference for students applying for jobs) but I can’t do it if I don’t know the student, and I can’t get to know the student in class unless it’s, say, six or less students.

        Many students think that office hours is only if you don’t understand the material or are in major trouble. But it is primarily a way to get to know professors whom you are going to need things from in the future.

        1. Once too Often*

          The biggest benefit to me in getting to know professors was helping negotiate interactions with a new prof (first year of first job as a prof) who demanded that seniors be held to the same academic standards as doctoral candidates, & was extremely uncomfortable in one on ones with young women.

          Both profs I approached for help reached out to the newbie & the dean on behalf of newbie & me. I graduated, newbie left teaching. Win-win.

      3. carcinization*

        I’m completely befuddled by the distinction made in the beginning of this long comment between a “University” and a “state school,” and I’m saying this as a person with a Masters who has attended 3 different post-secondary institutions, all called universities, two of which were also referred to as state schools. My husband also worked in Admissions at one of these state schools/universities for a good while. The only specification I’ve ever heard of what makes a university a university is that it offers grad school whereas something like a community college does not, but the two state schools I attended definitely had graduate programs, so… what distinguishes a university from a mere state school since the names of some institutions themselves definitely incorporate both descriptors?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Some state schools are universities. Some are colleges. There are also private universities and private colleges. I think the point the person who said it was trying to make is that a student will have a very different experience at Brown University vs UCLA vs Wheaton vs William & Mary.

    7. DannyG*

      Was a first generation college student. Older brother went on a football scholarship and everything was handed by the athletic department. Older sister rock souped her way into nursing (aide, LPN, RN). My parents came to orientation with me, but after that never returned. Having to handle problems myself was very beneficial in the long run. Grad school & residency were all on me, but I had learned how to handle those decisions very well by then.

    8. Pam Adams*

      Congratulations to you and your kid! A couple of suggestions.
      – Academic advisors are there to help. We have heard everything. so ask all the questions. (Full disclosure – I am an advisor, and a person who flunked out myself back in the day).
      – Find your people! Student clubs, campus cultural organizations, the campus gym, study groups- your allies are out there!
      – Mark a calendar now with the year’s deadlines- registration, fee due dates, finals week.
      – Look for specific assistance- for example, my campus has a text-based peer mentoring program, where junior/senior first-gen students serve as mentors to new students.
      – Have fun, and be proud. You and your student can do this!

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

      How exciting! I hope your kid enjoys college. : )

      On a practical level, my friend says at her college, the biggest thing she tells parents to bring initially for their kids in the dorms in August is a portable fan (or maybe two fans). Not all dorms have air conditioning.

      Maybe help your kid identify some resources for support while they’re there. For example, a lot of colleges offer free mental-health counseling services and support groups, and those can be really helpful if your kid has a bad romance or struggles with getting started on schoolwork.

      There are usually a lot of free tutoring services available for intro courses in Math, Chemistry, Biology, etc., and there is often a Writing Center that can help your kid with planning and revising papers for all kinds of classes.

      There is usually a Career Center that can help your kid with creating a resume, looking for part-time jobs/summer jobs, and figuring out what careers might be a good match. Your kid shouldn’t wait until senior year to check them out–they usually welcome first-year students!

      Encourage your kid to go to their professors’ office hours occasionally, especially if they are confused about something in the class or need extra help. They are NOT bothering the professor by going to office hours, so they should try not to be shy about going. If they have a friend in the class, they and the friend could go to office hours with the professor together if that feels less scary.

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

        P.S. If your kid feels that there is ANY chance that they may eventually need a little extra help in a class, they should sign up for tutoring at the beginning of the semester, even if the early material in the class is easy. That way, they will already have a relationship with the tutors and be in the system when something difficult comes along.

        Also, your kid may be able to find some drop-in tutoring services, which again, they should check out before they really need them, just to get comfy with them. Our school has this dedicated room where you can go and do your math homework, and when you get stuck, there are tutors there to help you. One of my students (I am not his math teacher) told me he went from getting 40s on his math tests to getting grades that were more in the 70s and 80s by using that drop-in math tutoring.

        On that topic, remind your kid that if they’re struggling, it doesn’t mean that they’re stupid, and there’s no shame in getting help. They may just need to go over a concept a few more times or to go over it with a different person explaining it for the penny to drop.

        Also, if your kid has a documented learning disability, they should file those papers with the school’s Disability Office (or whatever it’s called on your campus) so they have the option of asking for more time on tests, etc. If your kid suspects that they have a learning disability, that office can probably also get your kid tested (though it’s kind of pricey).

    10. fueled by coffee*

      I’m the oldest child of two first-gen college students, and I’ll just throw out there that all the other parents, even those who went to college, are also making it up as they go along :)

      Others have responded about general life/adulthood skills, but I teach college students now, so here’s my advice to pass onto him on the academic side of things:

      1. Yes, definitely encourage your kid to take ownership over his academics! I’m legally not allowed to talk to anyone other than the student (and occasionally a dean) about their coursework, thanks to FERPA, and part of the independence that comes from college is learning to manage a schedule/coursework/communications with teachers on your own.

      2. College differs from high school because you do not see your teachers every day, you have fewer, larger assignments (instead of, say, daily homework), and much of your studying/work/etc. occurs outside of class time. This system (where you are only in class for 3 hours a week but are expected to do 6-8 hours of reading and homework on top of that, for each class) can be tough to adapt to. I’d just give him the heads up that this is the system: his instructors will give him a syllabus with a list of all the readings, assignments, and exams for the semester; it will be his responsibility to build the time management skills to do that work on his own time.

      3. There are support systems for students! Every professor and teaching assistant is probably required to hold “office hours.” This is time that they block off from their schedule to meet with students, though most will also set up appointments outside these hours for students who have conflicts at that time. Sometimes I think students, especially first-gen students, are under the assumption that office hours is only for students who are in serious trouble and need lots of extra help in the class, or that they’re bothering professors by attending, but it’s really just a good time to ask general questions about homework or the class material, or advice about related classes to sign up for, or anything else! I *love* when students come to office hours, because that way I can help sort out confusion before it becomes a bigger problem. (Office hours are also helpful if you think you might need a reference or letter of recommendation from that professor in the future, since they’ll be better able to match a name to a face).

      So I guess this has mostly been more of a “give your kid a heads up” about this than practical things for you to do, oops.

      Oh, and non-academically: If your kid is going to school far away, unless he has a chronic health condition that needs to be looked after during the school year, I’d keep seeing the same dentist/optometrist/etc. that he’s been seeing in your hometown (though the pediatrician will probably kick him out, lol) and schedule the appointments for winter/summer break. His school will have a student health service for primary care, but as someone generally healthy who moved around a lot during young adulthood it was incredibly annoying to have to switch to new doctors every couple of years. Once you see where he lands after college, you can start changing over to local docs.

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        There are benefits to both but I found it super helpful to use campus health for medical stuff. First it was free/included in tuition and fees but it also was more comfortable for me to discuss things with a doctor who hadn’t seen me since I was five. Also the campus doctors tend to be good at talking to people who are learning to visit the doctor independently.

    11. little yellow duck*

      Exciting! My daughter went away to uni last year. As others have said: it’s expensive. If he’s staying in a dorm, he can’t (necessarily) wander off to the kitchen for snacks. He’ll also be responsible for buying snacks. Uni profs don’t hold your hand the way high school teachers do. As others have said, time management and study skills are important. It is not rare for someone to do well enough in high school that they get a scholarship at uni, and then start failing classes. High school/uni are different. So, *at the first sign of difficulty* in any class, he needs to get himself to a tutoring centre or a private tutor (more money!) to help him *both* with the material and the study skills.(put the phone away when studying!).

      There’s likely a health centre with some mental health resources, he should know how to access those.

      I hope he has a great time!

      1. somehow*

        I’ve got to say, high school teachers in general don’t “hold hands”; it’s that their students are minors in most cases, and thus teachers are responsible to laws that higher education faculty aren’t, which often requires actions that might look like hand-holding, and are anything but.

        Really, K-12 teachers get enough undeserved flack, especially those teaching in inner cities and other Title I environments, who show up day after day to their jobs, that the rest of us lack the courage and fortitude to do ourselves. Please cut them a break.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I teach high school and I was a first gen student who nearly flunked out, largely because I had no idea how to stay motivated when I seemed so invisible to my professors and like I was just part of a huge crowd. This feeling was purely down to culture shock and a working class feeling of not wanting to bother superiors; it was not at all because of the quality of teaching. My professors were actually great; they completely saw me flailing and realised that I needed to be coached on the independent skills of being an adult student. One of my professors even sent me a letter saying how proud she was of me, after I went from failing grades to graduating with a first. In some ways we definitely handhold students in high school, but we reduce the level of support from primary school and continue reducing it as they get older; you have to factor in their individual circumstances too. The leap between high school and university is always going to be a much bigger leap than ever before, and some students are going to feel like they don’t know what to do unless someone else offers help. I completely concur with your advice that the key is knowing how to source help for yourself.

    12. Normal feelings*

      Such great advice from the commenters. I’d add: almost every student feels overwhelmed, imposter syndrome, stupid, wants to leave at some point. It seems to come with the territory of no longer being the smartest person in class. Please let him know these are completely normal feelings & there is so much support & help at college. It really does help too, to join a club or fun sport to find a group. There can be so many of these & they usually have booths during first week of school. Drama, radio station, inner tube water polo, etc.

      1. Retired Accountant*

        All true. And while my parents were college graduates they went to large state schools and lived at home, 25 years ago at that point. I didn’t really lean on them for much, and I was a little lost and overwhelmed. I noticed that the kids who really had it wired were those with older brothers or sisters in college. So older kids in the dorms, and especially RAs were good resources for me.

        Where to get snacks will probably not be a problem at the average American college.

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

        So true! It’s good to tell your kid that they don’t have to be perfect — you’d just like them to do their best. So many kids have meltdowns when they’re getting that A- or B+ but they’re used to all As.

    13. Mimmy*

      Knowing that many parents can be overly involved, your post is very refreshing. I am a believer in letting your child begin to take responsibility for these things when they start college*. It’s good that you are aware of the balance between letting him be on his own and helping. I suggest taking cues from your son. If you try to help but he says he is fine, give him that space. At the same time, make sure he knows that it is okay to ask for help.

      When I went to college years ago, my parents took care of everything, especially the finances. I was extremely naive back then. I would be so much more confident in “adulting” had they encouraged me to learn how to handle my own finances and other responsibilities back then.

      *I recognize that not everyone goes to college; some go straight to employment.

    14. somehow*

      Awesome!

      I recommend that he explore the campus library, both online (webpages) and in-person, and ask questions online and at the circulation desk about accessing library collections and services.

      A 30-minute walk each morning when possible before anything else (even if he is walking to class in addition to). He’ll feel refreshed and calm as he greets the day.

      Invest in his own groceries (campus food is horrifically expensive) and cook basic recipes (I’ll post a link in a different post to a great article CNN had this week on that).

      Download to his smart phone all emergency apps the campus offers, and learn what to do in case of any emergency.

      Get involved with something, anything, extracurricular. Volunteering, etc.

      I wish him the best! :)

    15. SuprisinglyADHD*

      It’s great to give him full ownership of his grades, scheduling, and billing paperwork! That’s extremely healthy for someone to start at his stage in life. Remember though that it’s new skills for him, and let him know you’re willing to help him figure things out if he’s confused or overwhelmed.
      That’s true in general for a lot of things: give him the responsibilities he needs/wants as a young adult, and be his safety net where he asks for help! That way he has the freedom to fail without devastating consequences.
      It sounds like you’re on the right track, as long as he knows he can come to you when he realizes something has gone wrong, you’ve set him up for long-term success and independence!

    16. Hotdog not dog*

      Wow, you guys are the best! I feel so much better! He’s already met his advisor several times, and she’s aware that he’s first gen. It’s a smaller niche program (music) within a larger state school. Because of the audition process it’s a small group, and she said she usually gets to know all her students pretty well. He’s planning to meet his roommate this week, and he already knows a few people from auditions, accepted students day, and orientation.
      He visited a lot of the places mentioned (health center, office, library, resource center, etc) during orientation, and I will also recommend to him that he visit them again once they’re staffed.
      I do think that some of his time management skills could be improved (although to be fair, so could mine!) I like the idea of signing up for tutoring ahead of time and will definitely recommend that to him.
      I’m assuming that the “dorm must-have list” exaggerates? The one on the school’s website includes things like ironing board and iron, vacuum cleaner, what looks like the entire inventory of The Container Store, along with a 47 piece matching bedding set. So far we have a fan, a shelving unit that fits over the mini fridge, one set of twin xl sheets, and snacks. He’s bringing several instruments (including a cello!) so he’s hoping to keep everything else to a minimum. He does have a credit card that he and I are both on, and there’s a big box store near campus if he runs out of anything important. He got the card about 10 months ago and is responsible for paying it, but I can see the bill. (and will pay it if need be, although he doesn’t realize that.) So far he’s been reasonable with his spending. He works part time now, but will not be working for at least the first semester so he can focus on school. We’re having him pay for part so that he’ll have “skin in the game” but we don’t want him to stress over money. (He’ll have the rest of his life to do that!)
      He’s only going to be about an hour away, so we can keep the same dentist, doctor, etc. (the pediatrician already booted him on his 18th birthday.)
      Assuming all goes well, he’ll have a degree in music in 4 years. No idea if that will end up being his career, but 18 seems to be the perfect age to chase a dream.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        An ironing board and an iron? I don’t even iron my clothes now! (And I never will again. I have designed my life around that premise.)

        I am assuming that should an Ironing Emergency arise, he could borrow one from someone somewhere.

        Also. College students vacuuming? Yeah. We didn’t do that, either.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I quite literally laughed out loud at that! I haven’t ironed in years either, and don’t plan to any time soon!
          If an ironing emergency does occur, he’ll be at the mercy of someone whose parents took the list seriously.
          As for the vacuum…let’s just say that I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll crack open the clorox wipes, but any other housekeeping is probably a pipe dream!

        2. Clisby*

          Yeah, no iron needed. I do own an iron, and it’s easily been 10 or 12 years since I’ve used it.

          Things he *needs*:

          Sheets, towels.
          A surge protector with a long cord (unless this is the unicorn school where no computers/electronics are allowed.)
          Basic toiletries, first aid supplies.
          Clothes, laptop/desktop.
          Maybe a fan or desk lamp.

          An iron or ironing board? No

          1. Squidhead*

            Add in: a bathrobe, flip flops for the shower, and some kind of caddy/tote to bring his shower gear back & forth.

            Stationery supplies of his choosing…I take notes by hand and would have a ring-notebook for each class (with a pocket in front for handouts), plus my preferred pen du jour.

            If he’s going to have snacks he might like a couple of plastic bowls & some basic silverware, plus (optimistically) a sponge, dish soap, and a towel to dry them. And also whatever water bottle is trendy where you are.

            But definitely not an iron, unless he currently prefers to iron his clothes and intends to continue.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Wear the flip flops THE ENTIRE TIME he’s in the bathroom, including the shower. Communal showers spread athlete’s foot and other fungal/bacterial infections super easily.

        3. JR*

          If he has any clothes that need to be ironed, get him a small hand-hand steamer – cheap, so much easier, and much smaller for storage.

      2. Goose*

        Lots of great advice here! Music tends to be a high-stress program with a competitive environment (along with all the fun stuff about it); if you all haven’t had that conversation, it would be helpful to make sure that he’s aware that (assuming it’s a that and not a whether) you would fully support him getting any mental health support he needs and to ensure he understands the mental health benefits, if any, possible with your insurance in addition to whatever student mental health services are on campus.

      3. My Brain is Exploding*

        Not working first semester if you can help it is great, as is taking a balanced class load (not calculus, physics, and chemistry all together). Remember that YOU can call and talk to the advisor, too! Not to ask questions about your kid that they’d break confidentiality to answer…but things like “is it OK if a kid drops a class? What happens?”

        1. Observer*

          Why would you do that?

          If someone is serious about letting / encouraging their child to learn to manage their own life, this kind of thing is the exact opposite of what a parent should. If you suggest to your kid that they should consider dropping a class, the students should still talk to their advisor, not the parent. Or not. But it’s up to the student. Or if you think it’s a bad idea and the student wants to do it, it’s *still* the student’s call to make.

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I would get an extra set of sheets, for that afternoon when he accidentally upends his dinner or his coffee cup into his bed while running out the door to an exam and won’t have time to wash, dry and remake the bed without staying up all night.

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

        Maybe one more set of sheets would be useful? That way, if his sheets are getting yucky at a busy part of the semester, he can still have fresh sheets until he has time to do laundry.

      6. MaryB*

        I did bring an iron and ironing board to college, because I was neurotic about following the list. I had two different roommates each use it once for internship interview outfits. I never used it.

        But my friends who were music majors did have irons or portable steamers because they had performances every few weeks and their stage clothes couldn’t be wrinkled.

      7. goddessoftransitory*

        You cannot underestimate how tiny the dorm rooms can be! If he can rent any secure locker space for his instruments, I would do it. He can also keep bulky winter coats, bedding, etc. there and free up space.

      8. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        The ironing board and iron are actually not too unusual for a (classical) music programme!
        Students will probably be expected to present their work in some formal context each semester – a concert of smaller or bigger proportions – and to also look the part of ‘professional musician’ for those, i.e. wearing dark shoes, ironed dark dress pants, and an ironed button down shirt (white or at least unicoloured).
        Doesn’t mean your son can’t still ask his roommates if he could use theirs but iron and iron board are useful items to have in his major ;)

        1. allathian*

          Yes, that’s what I was thinking, too.

          I don’t iron anything except the white linen tablecloth we use for Christmas dinner.

      9. MaryB*

        I brought an iron and basically never used it. A few friends borrowed it for ironing their internship interview outfits.

        But my friends that were music majors did have an iron or portable steamer. They had performances every few weeks and their stage clothes couldn’t be wrinkled.

      10. Cardboard Marmalade*

        I’ll add my voice to the Chris of folks ridiculing the idea that an iron and vacuum are necessary. Ok, maybe if he has performance clothes he needs to look nice an iron could be handy? But otherwise, no. And I bet he could find one to borrow in a pinch.

        If he doesn’t have an en-suite bathroom (I didn’t for most of my school career), a terrycloth robe, shower flip-flops, and a little basket/caddy to carry toiletries in are all worth their weight in gold.

      11. WorkingRachel*

        Lol, he does not need an iron! I never had a vacuum, my dorm let you borrow one at the front desk.

        I was going to say shower caddy like others have. Laundry basket or bag. A few basic dishes might be nice. I seem to remember being happy I had a screwdriver and a few other tools, though what I used them for I don’t remember.

    17. ina*

      College is NOT high school. The way he studies needs to be different – tell him to not be afraid to ask for help. Go talk to people in the student affairs options about dropping classes, credit/no credit options, university policies, etc. I wish people had told me this when I went to college. It would have been less stressful. Tell him the worst thing someone can say is ‘no’ when it comes to emailing professors and asking for things he needs or wants to pursue — of course, always respect no and say thank you. Tell him not to take it personally if a professor or academic doesn’t respond to his polite email – people are very busy and get 100s a day and most of the time their job isn’t answering emails like support staff.

      He needs to do this on his own and you’re right to not helicopter. Be a support system that watches him take his steps; intervene if he looks like he’s gonna fall. It’s like watching them learn to walk again, but this time into adulthood. :’) The question you ask now is, “What do you need from me?” rather than forcing yourself into things. It’s scary to let go, but knowing he has people to fall back on will help him mentally! Make it known! (I hate it when people say, “You’re 18! Goodbye!! You’re an adult!! Sucks to suck!!” Trial by fire sounds like a good way to learn until you see all the people with immense trauma who have been dumped in the middle of the fire and lived to tell about it)

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Trial by fire is probably why I’m stressing over this now! My first day of full time work (at a crappy job) was the day after my high school graduation, and I moved into my first (really crappy) apartment about a month later. My parents stopped supporting me, financially or otherwise, as soon as I turned 18. I was meant to be grateful that I was allowed to continue living in their house until graduation at a reduced rate.
        I now have a decent relationship with my parents, but it didn’t come together until I was about 30.
        My experience has definitely influenced how I want to support my son now. Yes, I survived, but it came at a high price.

        1. Chicago Anon*

          Wow! You sound very impressive in several different ways: managing to look after yourself at 18, rebuilding your relationship with your parents, and wanting to do better by your kid by providing appropriate levels of support, not helicoptering but helping them learn to tackle college and other aspects of adult life in stages. This thread has been full of great advice, but I wanted to take a minute to recognize all the stuff you’ve done yourself!

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            Thank you! It wasn’t easy, but I realized that my parents were really unprepared for parenthood. I was a surprise, and I think they tried. My mom (and 4 siblings) had been raised by her grandmother, and my dad by a VERY “traditional” immigrant family, so neither of them had much to go by for examples. It was a huge epiphany when I realized that, and it made me determined to make different choices for my own family.

        2. Filosofickle*

          Happily, your son will have training wheels, not a trial by fire :) That’s a huge improvement in one generation, wonderful job!

          Training wheels was my mom’s college philosophy for us — it’s a time to learn to be independent and find yourself, but with a safety net.

        3. Irish Teacher*

          And your son may have no problems at all. Like him, I went about an hour from home for college. Now, I’m in Ireland and that meant that going home every weekend was the norm to the point that colleges tend to finish up early on Fridays to let people get home reasonably early, so things were a bit different, but I found the transition generally easy.

          I was pretty homesick my first few months and cried at the thought of how much of my sister’s teenage years I’d be away for (she had just turned 14) and each Friday, on the train home, I’d look out the window for the first glimpse of our street!

          But by the end of the first year, I was thinking, “woah, how did I ever put up with all the petty restrictions of school?”

          College is a lot different from school and is far less structured, but different doesn’t mean harder. I found it way easier. Now this was partly because our school days in Ireland end with the Leaving Cert. and access to college depends entirely on your grades in that and I am not exaggerating when I say a 5% difference in grades in any one subject could mean the difference between getting into the college course and therefore career of your choice or having to either repeat a year of school or rethink your future plans.

          But it was also because of the greater freedom and less oversight. As others have said, there is a lot less “hand-holding” but that has pluses as well as minuses. Yes, it means that you can slack off and do nothing and nobody will prod you on, but it also means you can focus on the areas you are struggling with or the topics you have decided to answer on (if there will be options in the exam). How often at school we got loads of revision questions on a topic I found simple and didn’t need to revise because a lot of the class found it difficult while the teacher might race on over something I needed more time on because others found it easy.

          The important thing is that you are there. That he knows he can come to you if and when he has difficulties. Let him decide how involved he wants you to be.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, the system in Finland is similar, we have the matriculation exam but it’s similar in principle to the leaving cert in Ireland. That said, for some majors an entrance exam is necessary, and for fields like music, being able to play an instrument well enough to show that you have the potential to make it as a professional after you graduate is essential. In some cases it’s also possible to complement a lower grade in the matriculation exam with an entrance exam.

            But in most academic fields, grades are all that matter and you won’t be asked to write a motivational essay on why you deserve a place at university. That means that there’s far less pressure on high school kids to fill their resumes with extracurriculars or volunteering just to get into college.

        4. I can never decide on a lasting name*

          Congratulations, both on your son and on finding your way after high school! What a rough start.
          Teaching study abroad in Europe, I meet students from many different US colleges. A really important thing to navigate is the Learning Management System of his school. Canvas, Blackboard or whatever his will be will probably have not just his deadlines, teaching schedule and locations, but also materials and assignments. It is important that he makes sure to go beyond the surface and finds out where things are. Some students… do not and the wake-up-call is tough.
          Also, a surprising amount of students do not read the materials that they are given, even things that they sign. “Oh, I didn’t know I had to read that”, they say.
          From what you write about your approach, it sounds like you are setting up your son in a great way!!

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

        I wanted to highlight your point about dropping classes. Occasionally, a class is just not working out, and dropping it can make one feel SO much better.

        You just have to make sure you don’t drop so many credits that it messes up your financial aid status, which is why it’s important to talk with an academic advisor and/or a financial aid advisor before you drop anything.

        Truly, two of the happiest days of my life were when I dropped Physics and when I dropped Differential Geometry in college.

    18. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      You’ve got a lot of good advice already, but I’d like to emphasize that the librarians in the college/university library love to help – students should check out workshops on how to do research or use specific databases, and there are usually subject specialists who you can meet with to discuss specific assignments that require literature reviews.

      Also, if the college/university has undergraduate research opportunities, they are good for developing relationships with professors and building skills that are good for graduate school or internships.

      1. I take tea*

        Seconding this! The library will have courses in academic information seeking skills and reference management. Encourage him to take them. So many students assume that they know how to find information, because it’s so easy to do – but they are stumped when they are supposed to find solid sources for their essays. A good reference management system will also make listing the sources so much easier.

        Never ever rely on ChatGTP for academic sources, it just makes them up. Literally. We sometimes get questions on where to find certain articles, that look good, but they just do not exist.

    19. tangerineRose*

      A lot of colleges have tutoring available. The college I went to had a free mathematics lab where you could go, wait your turn, and then another student who had done well in the class would explain how to do the particular kind of math problem that had been assigned.

      Both of these can be extremely helpful, and sometimes they’re free. Make sure he knows about what’s available and that there’s no shame in getting help. I got very good grades in college, but sometimes I needed individualized help to understand something.

      Also, he should know that in many cases, teachers have office hours for a reason – he can go and ask questions there if he wants.

      I was encouraged to participate in class in college, and I think that was helpful because the teachers knew I was paying attention.

    20. Matilda*

      I’d like to mention that some colleges and they way they process payments from 529 plans are confusing and cumbersome. Your young adult (and you!) should plan for it to be more difficult than it should be.

      I’ve had 2 young adults at 2 different universities; the schools were different in the ways they wanted the payments sent, and these payments took a surprising amount of time to arrive to the school. I recommend withdrawing the payment and having it sent directly to the school as soon as the billing arrives. Make sure you know the exact address to which they should be sent. Also, you have to account for these payments on your taxes, so keep records. My husband and I celebrated when the last 529 payment was sent.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        That’s the easy part for me. I actually work in the financial industry, so 529 plans are old hat. The one we are drawing from now was actually the first one anyone in my company set up, on the first day they became available! Part of my job back then was to learn all the things and teach everyone else. I originally set it up with myself as both owner and beneficiary and then changed it to my son when he was born. That was the practice account!

    21. Been there*

      Trying to think of things that other folks haven’t mentioned yet. I’m an academic librarian at a college with a music school who has two kids – one recent college graduate and a senior who is a music performance major at a different school of music. So here goes:

      1) Surprised no one has mentioned the roommate thing. Crossing my fingers that they get on like a house on fire, but living with someone else in the same room is… fraught, no matter how well-intentioned. Don’t blow-off or scoff at the roommate agreements the RAs (Resident Advisors) are likely to require him to fill out early on. There is ALWAYS something on the list that one or the other didn’t think about. There is a whole genre of books for this. For example, “The Naked Roommmate”, “The Freshman Survival Guide”, “1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know”, “The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed”, “Do your laundry or you’ll die alone”

      2) Do pay attention to what is explicitly listed as NOT allowed in the dorms as they are based on fire-codes and they can confiscate things that seem innocuous (e.g. the wrong wattage microwave)

      3) Similarly, depending on which state you/the school is in, make SURE he has all the required vaccinations/health things/insurance as it can mess up moving into the dorms and/or starting classes. This is often handled separately by the school’s health care center and the communication around this is not always great.

      4) Make sure you SEE a rough plan for his four years of classes. Music majors have ridiculous amounts of credits required to graduate that are fixed and required courses, that is, not electives. College credit hours are complicated if you’re not familiar. In general, one butt-hour in the chair is one college credit. So a class that meets three times a week for an hour each time is usually 3-credits. A full course load for federal financial aid is 12 credits, but most students take 15ish. Performance requirements, labs, phys ed courses, and other oddballs aren’t that tidy. To graduate, most colleges require 120 credits, which is 15 credits each of 8 semesters, HOWEVER, you also have to meet the requirements of the major and college (like general education/core classes), and music is a requirement-heavy major.

      Music schools are notorious for students realizing too late that they didn’t factor in needing some required thing that means they have to take an extra semester or year. So my advice is: make sure you SEE the plan that lets him finish in 4 years that fulfills all college and major requirements. Any competent music school will have a framework for the four years that should be the template he plans around. Insist that he talk about this with his advisor and that you see the broad-brush plan. For example, if, as a music major, he has to take a language for two semesters, he might have to start that in the fall for it to work. Make sure he asks his advisor about what are the typical sticking points (e.g. careful planning needed for the two upper division required courses that always meet at the same time and are only offered fall semester). And also quite important: if he’s not sure of his exact major or his major is difficult enough that students often switch to an alternate, have him make plans NOW for that possible eventuallity. The best possible plans will all have a similar fall-of-freshman year so that he can switch. He should have some limited flexibiltiy to add/drop classes up to, maybe, the end of the first week of school to adjust. If his academic advisor is newish, have him ask to switch or at least seek out someone who has been around the block and can guide him.

      5) Encourage him to spend some time wandering the campus and find the nooks & crannies and hidden wonders. Music schools can suck you in, and it’s good to know some places that aren’t in the music school.

      6) Get to know the oldest, saltiest librarian there who knows all the professors and the problem assignments, and all the available resources on campus.

      7) Get to know the music school or sub-department “secretary” or whoever the administrative assistant is – they know scads, including things like what the system is for reserving practice rooms and how to get an instrument locker. All music schools have them and it will clear space and be better for the instrument to not be in the dorm room.

      8) If he’s on federal work-study, see if there is a campus central listing for available jobs. If he can’t find anything that benefits him (like working in the music library, helping produce the programs for recitals, or being a campus tour guide to get to know the campus), then consider declining that federal aid and having him find a job either on or off-campus. The downside of work-study is that they know how much you’re supposed to earn (factored into the financial aid) and generally pay minimum wage. In this economic climate, you can earn much more elsewhere; the trade-off is if the work-study job can give you some intangibles.

      Know that there are all kinds of resources and folks that would love to help him if he has a problem, but he has to reach out to them first. And he will do just fine. Those wings look good on him :)

    22. Goldfeesh*

      Honestly, encourage him to seek out/get help from the school’s support for first-generation college students. I didn’t do that- hell, as a first gen college student I didn’t even realize that resource was there. I think I would have done better in college if I had. I graduated with a degree, but I am sure I missed out on a lot that could have possibly helped me. Students who have had college-educated parents/experienced with the college system have such a headstart, imo.

      1. Retired Accountant*

        I don’t understand this line of thought at all. I was not a first gen student, but my parents dropped me off at college without discussions about professors office hours or tutoring services or anything else. I assume they thought I’d figure things out or the school would tell me what I needed to know. And I did. The poster above who said she didn’t know that finals were at a different time than regular classes was failed by her professors, not her parents.

        I’m not trying to deny that first-gen students may have more challenges, and I understand the point about asking those in authority for help vs assuming you are bothering them. But I agree with the poster above who said everybody is figuring it out as they go, whether they seem like it or not. And that’s life, and a life skill.

  9. Dear liza dear liza*

    ISO shows like Vera.

    What I like about it: 1) British 2) contemporary 3) procedural 4) minimal “this time it’s personal” 5) great sense of place 6) More bleak than light hearted (like Father Brown) 7) available on Britbox

    I already watched SHETLAND (although I liked the earlier episodes more than the season-long cases). I’ve heard good things about Hinterland but it’s on Acorn.

    Actually, it being British is probably flexible. Available in English or subtitled is essential, though.

    I also have Netflix, Prime, and Hulu. Ideas?

    1. rainyday*

      can you get Unforgotten? I know it was on Prime in the UK for a while. London detectives solving cold cases, one case per series. My favourite police procedural ever, and DI Sunny my favourite detective!

    2. GoryDetails*

      I’d *like* to recommend Dublin Murders, which was (somewhat loosely) based on a couple of Tana French’s marvelous novels, but for me the series just didn’t work. Still, if you haven’t read the books you might want to give it a try – it might play better without all the “but in the BOOK…” bits {wry grin}.

    3. GoryDetails*

      This one’s more light-hearted than bleak, but I’ve been enjoying Shakespeare and Hathaway, fwiw…

    4. Clisby*

      Have you seen Dalgliesh (based on the PD James novels?) It’s excellent. (I loved the old PBS series of PD James mysteries as well.)

      1. Helvetica*

        Was coming to say this! Great stories, and interesting characters, some season-long developments but still episodes that stand on their own.

    5. Breaking Dishes*

      If you might like quirky:
      Only Murders in the Building
      It’s on Hulu. I hear the third season is out or soon will be.

    6. Queer Earthling*

      Have you considered Three Pines? I’m not sure how closely it hits to all the beats on your list but it’s the first thing I thought of upon reading it. It’s on Prime.

    7. Not my usual name*

      Endeavour (prequels to Morse, even better Imho)
      Grantchester can be darker than I thought it would be at times
      Taggart (the Mark McManus series, dropped off after he passed)
      Rebus (not the series with John Hannah as the lead, you want the Ken Stott as Rebus)

      1. allathian*

        I love Endeavour, but it’s set in the 60s and early 70s, so definitely not contemporary, as requested by dear liza.

        How strict are you with the contemporary label, as in, would a show like Morse that was contemporary when it was first released (1987-2000) qualify? Or are you only interested in watching something that’s set in the last 5 years or so?

        Admittedly I’ve only seen two episodes so far, but I’ve enjoyed Annika (2021), set on the shores of Scotland. The main character’s played by Nicola Walker who’s English (and who also stars in Unforgotten), but I haven’t found any of the accents hard to understand so far. The geography’s very similar to Shetland, even if it isn’t quite as desolate and isolated.

    8. Helvetica*

      Oh, this is my favourite category of series! So I’ve probably seen all you can see on Netflix.
      Not sure if this all is available on US Netflix, and admittedly they are less procedural and more season-long stories but I have seen and enjoyed these series, which fit most of your criteria:
      Deadwind – Finnish, bleak, admittedly with season-long cases but they develop in interesting ways over time.
      Capitani – again, season-long story in a sense but still procedural in its approach. Luxembourgish, which is fun in itself!
      42 Days of Darkness – Chilean, suspenseful, moody, keeps you guessing and revels in its quiet twists.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      The Kenneth Branagh version of Wallander is terrific; it’s set in Sweden but this series is in English (also starring a young, blonde Tom Hiddleston!) It is unrelentingly bleak, though; to the point near the end of the series when Branagh is reciting a depressing poem in VO, I joked “those are Swedish wedding vows” to my husband.

    10. Pearl Grey*

      I second Unforgotten and Three Pines (set in Canada). Another Canadian show I liked is Cardinal. You might also enjoy Happy Valley, Annika with Nicola Walker, Luther with Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson, The Night Manager with Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman, Broadchurch also with Olivia Colman, and Line of Duty about the A-12 police anti-corruption unit, not the other Line of Duty from 2019. I think that most of these are on the streaming services you mention, but a couple might be on PBS Passport. If you have Apple TV, I’d suggest watching Bad Sisters, a black comedy whodunnit.

    11. Lemonwhirl*

      Not sure where you would get this one, but “Happy Valley” is an excellent police series set in Yorkshire. It’s three seasons, and the story is completed now. Not sure what “minimal ‘this time it’s personal'” means – the characters are often personally involved in the crimes or story lines, but it’s not in a Chuck Norris kind of avenging sort of way. This one definitely will tick the great sense of place box and the more bleak than lighthearted box.

      I’ve also heard good things about “Broadchurch”, but I’ve not watched it, but from what I’ve heard, it ticks your boxes. (Also not sure on availability.)

      1. Katydid*

        Seconding Broadchurch, which I’ve watched.

        Also recommend Murder in Provence. The differences between British, American, & French justice systems are fascinating. We had to do a bit of googling to understand how some things worked.

        1. Katydid*

          Oh—maybe Longmire? Set in Wyoming, beautiful landscapes & strong sense of place, relatively recent (esp. compared to most britbox shows)—think it was on Netflix, though. More like Shetland than Father Brown, for sure. There is a personal mystery that spans the whole series; dunno if you’d like that?

          Hinterland is good. Like Shetland, Longmire, Hope Street (right, there’s another), Luther, & Broadchurch, there are short story, medium, and series-long arcs.

    12. I take tea*

      One British series I’ve enjoyed is Scott & Bailey (about ten years old) where Detectives Janet Scott (Lesley Sharpe) and Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) investigate murders with Manchester Police’s Major Incident Team. There is some personal drama, if that’s what you want to avoid, but I found it very well done. Certainly pretty bleak.

      I also liked the 1990’s series Hetty Wainthropp Investigates with genius Patricia Routledge as the 60 year old housewife that decides to become a private investigator. It might be to old or to fun – but it’s not all fun, some of the stories are quite sad.

  10. LucilleChenille*

    Have you ever bought a home and regretted it? I feel like this is my life now and I’m kinda at a loss what to do. It’s been over a year since I bought it and I haven’t moved yet, partially because it’s a small reno project (not unliveable as is but not very nice right now either) and partially because I’ve had some other life happenings that have prevented the move. Outside of the delay in actually moving everything has been a nightmare, let down by contractor after contractor, one very nosy and intrusive neighbour, and the condition of the place deteriorating a bit because it’s empty. I bought this as a forever home, but the more problems I have with it, even before moving in, the less in love with it I am. The cherry on the cake was the realtor giving the nosy neighbour my cell number recently, and the nosy neighbour now having access to me to complain by trash can blew over or my hedges are looking a little overgrown. I am however under pressure to move from my current rental, but my gut is telling me it may be a big mistake. So AAMers, have you ever bought a place and regretted it…and if so, did you cut your losses or dig your heels in?

    Just to add if I did market it I would probably make all my money back (I have an appraisal booked for next week to confirm!). I’d just have to try and pick some other random place to go.

    1. SofiaDeo*

      This is tough. The nosy neighbor having your # is one of the most difficult IMO if you like your privacy. If you are in the US, you can sign up for a local neigborhood app like Nextdoor (use the house location, not where you currently are) to ask for contractor & handyman recommendations. Unfortunately finding good people nowadays *is* a process, please try not to factor that. You will likely have simular problems in virtually every area of the US so try to remove it from your concerns, you will have to deal with multiple rounds of contactors/plumbers/etc everywhere. You do have to do “due diligence”, get things in writing, and don’t ever pay up front. I have been using pricer, longer established/well known companies, because there is more recourse than an uninsured LLC or even unlicensed person. IMO fixing any problems with *this* place properly, will have you avoiding the money suck of renting or the potential problems of a “looks great but the flippers only did cosmetic stuff” new place. Ignore the neighbor. You’ve had other stressors recently, and IMO we want to simply flee when life gets overwhelming. I bet you will get you equilibrium back, it just takes a bit of time sometimes. Hang in thete, you don’t really want to start the entire @search for a house, do inspections, etc” all over again, do you?

      1. LucilleChenille*

        I really appreciate this comment and I think my main issue is in fact the neighbour. She’s been intrusive since I went to view the home before buying it (she invited herself into the walk through with me and the realtor) and frequently inserts herself into things with contractors, the gardener etc. if I’m inside the house and they’re working on it. I’m all for being a good neighbour but she is a busybody with a capital B, so it has really irked me that she now has my phone number. She’s the issue I’ve been questioning throughout the time I’ve been unable to move in, and probably the main consideration when I think about whether to make the jump or not. I’ve had a rough year recovering from a spinal cord injury and I can’t face someone constantly in my business when I’m just trying to live a quiet life.

        1. Sloanicota*

          You may have to be a bit firm with her, but I’d at least try that before deciding to sell the house if that’s your main concern. I had some neighborly drama and I think he was always disappointed I didn’t want to be closer to him (adding to my stress, he was newly divorced and I’m single, so I definitely worried he was looking for more than neighborly affection). I hurt his feelings a few times and kind of felt bad about it, but ultimately he did sort of flounce off and leave me alone, and eventually moved away. She may be fussy about an unoccupied home next door, and it’s actually nice to have someone keep an eye on the property when you’re not there, but try setting some boundaries and see how it goes.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Some things I got used to saying: “oh, I’m a pretty private person, I just like to keep to myself.” And “no thank you.”

        2. Samwise*

          Block her calls and texts, filter her email to spam or trash.

          If she comes over: you don’t have to let her in.

          If you’re talking with a contractor etc outside and she butts in, tell her (reasonably politely) that this is between you and the plumber /gardener/ roofer, thanks for understanding, turn your back.

          You need to be cool and short with her, you do not need to chat with her or listen to her. Sorry, I’ve got stuff to do! And walk away.

          Anyone as rude and obnoxious as this neighbor does not deserve a whole lot of politeness.

          Contact the realtors boss and tell them you don’t appreciate the realtor giving out your number without your permission. I personally would use the words “unprofessional “ and “careless about a clients privacy”.

    2. henriettahedgehog*

      I think if I were in your shoes, I would throw myself into getting it ready for sale without actually listing it yet. Ask the appraiser if there are any easy projects you can do to increase the property value. Once you’ve done that work and spent some time there, gauge your feelings about the space and the community. If your gut says Nope, the house is in good shape to sell. If it says Stay, you have a nice clean nest! My mom had great luck finding a kitchen and bath renovation contractor through a big box hardware store that she loves so much that she had him do two bathroom renos (not through the bigbox store) after she had her kitchen redone by him. Our local city magazine has an annual “best of” edition based on user surveys that includes all sorts of businesses, including contractors – perhaps your city has one too? Maybe once the contractor issue is resolved, you’ll feel better about the space. As for the neighbor . . . ugh. So sorry to hear that. :(

    3. ronda*

      I had my house for 20 years but I really did not enjoy the fixing the house process (every guy who fixes something tells you what a shitty job the last guy did). and have decided to rent from now on. I really wanted to be in that location and when I lost my job nearby it made sense to move, so overall I think it was a good decision for me, but I didnt want to continue it.

      also, when I owned the house but was not living in it (preparing to sell it), I worried about it more than while living in it.

      1 thing to think about, if you sell it now for a gain you have to pay income taxes on that gain. If you live in it for 2 years you can exclude up to 250k gain from your income taxes. But if you will feel better about selling and paying the taxes now, that is a valid choice.

      I also like this article that tells why a home is not the best investment (I think of homeownership more as a lifestyle choice than an investment)
      https://jlcollinsnh.com/2023/03/02/why-your-house-is-a-terrible-investment/

      1. Sloanicota*

        My home is probably the best financial decision I’ve ever made (really I just got lucky with the market timing, but hey, I’ll take it) – but I have learned I don’t really have the fixer-upper gene and I wouldn’t do this the same way a second time. The amount of work and stress that goes into my home! And TBH even people with newer, shinier homes – it’s still just a lot of work and effort, and every single thing needs replaced or repaired eventually.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      in some places, a house sitting vacant for a year is a huge problem, and the contractor may have given your number to the neighbor so they could alert you to things like overgrown bushes and trash can problems so you could take care of it before getting a citation from the local government, with fines and time involved.

      1. Ochre*

        And from a practical standpoint, the realtor may have given the neighbor the OPs number because the neighbor was contacting the realtor about these issues and the realtor was like “I sold that house a year ago, the trash can is not my problem” but also “former clients are future clients, I don’t want my client getting cited by the city so I will give the neighbor the number so I stop getting called and also hopefully my client doesn’t get cited.”

        OP, I’d probably rather get cited by the city than deal with the neighbor (seriously are your hedges, like, blocking the sidewalk? or just shaggy in a space that affects no one but yourself? does your property look derelict in an otherwise tidy neighborhood? (this actually is a problem, both for property values and for inviting trespassing)) but in reality I’d step up my efforts to make sure neither happens…put the trash can in the garage to keep vermin out, make sure sidewalks and anything adjoining a neighbor is tidy, and take that guy with a big grain of salt while you decide what to do.

        1. LucilleChenille*

          I should have clarified that I do visit the house every 2 weeks and stay a couple of nights to clean it, air it out etc. and I have a gardener that comes by to take care of the garden. I was always conscious I didn’t want it to look like an eyesore on the street, you know, the house that isn’t taken care of…and it doesn’t. I don’t actually have trash cans there because I don’t live there but I used them as an example of a reasonably small thing that the neighbour decides needs to be raised with me.

          I’d have expected the realtor to contact me and say the neighbour needs you to call her, rather than just giving my number out without asking. I’m not based in the US so our approach to privacy etc. is probably different.

          1. henriettahedgehog*

            popping in to agree with you and say that anyone sharing your personal contact information with a stranger – neighbor or not – without permission is really inconsiderate, and I think, unethical in this case. who would think that was okay? especially given the nosiness red flags early on. i’m in the u.s., and i would be upset and disappointed with the realtor for violating your privacy in that way. there are so many scripts here on aam that are great templates for dealing with awkward social situations. it might be helpful to have a few in your pocket for future interactions to set some good boundaries with ms. busybody. so sorry to hear about your accident and injury. wishing you all the best through this part of your journey.

            1. Ochre*

              I don’t disagree (and I *am* in the US) but I’m speculating this is what happened. If the realtor did just give out your number without talking to you, I wouldn’t use them again on general principle, even though it’s often pretty easy to find someone’s phone number online. And property records here are often public so it’s easy to find the name of an owner & then get their number. But despite all that I still would be annoyed if the realtor gave it out (even though I think that’s what might have happened)!

              Either way OP, this neighbor sounds like a pain. I’d definitely send her calls to voice-mail and only deal with her current concern immediately it’s an actual emergency.

    5. EdgarAllenCat*

      I’m no longer a fan of single family homeownership. It was exciting for a while, but the ongoing maintenance got to be too much, imo. Am renting now and happy to drop repairs in the landlord’s hands.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Not exactly but I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by renovations . Sick of everything being under plastic. Tired of dusting up sawdust. Depressed at the waste it was created. Anxious because when you start work, you always find more things wrong. There were many moments where I saw a flaw in the house that was right there the whole time, and didn’t see it until that moment, and then….it just sticks out to you like a saw thumb. And other people can overlook it but you can’t. and then it sticks in your head until you pay to fix it. and it always takes twice as long and involves another problem (in my case, I realized my walls weren’t completely angular, so things like tiles and flooring and trim were huge pains in the butt).

      But over time you sort of accept that it is life. A life that isn’t completely boring is going to involve going out (or in this case, in) and just going through tough things and learning to mentally cope. You’re always happier when it’s over and done, than if you avoided the whole thing entirely.

      Also, you need to be realistic about what your choices even are. Unless you don’t have money for the renovations – get moving on the renovations. The housing market is the worst in American history right now. Yeah you can list it, but that doesn’t mean it will sell. You may have to take a loss. And unless you’re in Texas or small town Midwest, the listings now are abysmal and overpriced and sitting forever.

      I’d also think if I were doing anything to make the relationship with contractors not work? I’ve never had issues with them. I’m wondering what has gone wrong there?

      also a nosy neighbor is not the end of the world. If they keep sending unsolicited advice AFTER you’ve cleaned up the place, then I’d say something. TBH I can sort of understand it being weird that someone buys a run down house and then let’s it sit. I mean, I know people who are clean and always home and still get mice and roaches. I can’t imagine what goes on in an empty house for a year. Even if the neighbor is a jerk, doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to worry some.

      Lastly, what does having an appraisal have to do with how much you can get? You seem to be underestimating how bad the market is right now. Apprasials are on comps but as mortgage rates keep going up and sales volumes are going down, so having them tell you that it’s “worth” X amount is becoming less meaningful. In the places I am looking, sales are nosediving and so the comps are becoming even more untied from reality, since they’re based on so few transactions. Sorry may be projecting a bit because I’m passively looking to buy. But sellers seem disconnected from reality now. Everyone’s looking for peak covid prices even though mortgage rates are 4% higher (which is going to translate in $15K – $20K more per year in mortgage payments in the parts of the country where most people live). I’m not sure there is a strong market for fixer uppers that have been sitting for at least a year vacant

      1. Double A*

        I agree with a lot of this comment. I think you are underestimating how much money you may lose. Maybe that’s not a big deal for you since you’ve been losing money all year doubling up on rent, but be realistic about it.

        The things you are talking about sound like very normal parts of home ownership, so it sounds like homeownership might not be for you. It definitely takes awhile to find your stable of contractors who you can rely on and right now is a tougher time than normal in a lot of places but not impossible. Once you work with someone it’s easier for future needs. Becoming acquainted with neighbors is helpful because they can often give recommendations.

        I mean I really can’t imagine buying a house and not doing anything with it so that’s about as much help as I can be.

        1. LucilleChenille*

          Believe me when I say it wasn’t in my imagination either that I wouldn’t be living it pretty soon after closing. Unfortunately I suffered a spinal injury in an accident and my mobility and physical capabilities have been severely limited since. They are improving, but it’s a slow process. Also to add I have been a homeowner for a number of years prior to where I live now which is my first rental since I was in my early 20s.

          1. Double A*

            That context explains a lot! That sounds like an exhausting recovery so I can understand why homeownership would feel overwhelming. Especially when a lot of the things you might normally be able to do are more limited so DIY stuff is probably tough.

            With the additional context of your market, selling does seem like it could make sense. It seems to be the way you’re leaning — you haven’t said anything that makes it sound like you want to move in, and it sounds like you injury made the timing just terrible for you personally.

          2. Prospect Gone Bad*

            You should have put this in the original conversation! So now we must ask, what is different from the past house(s) and this one? Surely you’ve been through some sort of house repair or emergency before?

            Do you have a vision for what you want the place to look like when it’s renovated? Is that good motivation for you?

            Also I am scared for you with the place empty for so long. Let me tell you, I went away for four darn days, and my hot water heater burst at the bottom (which means it was leaking hard, and water adds up very quickly) right when I was away. I got home from a very long trip past midnight, and walked in to a flooded basement. Fortunately there are drain holes in the basement or it would have meant a few days of pumping water out. My grandaunt’s house got a rat infestation when she went into the nursing home (granted it was old and had alot of ways for them to get in, nevertheless, you’d never associate that area with rodents since it’s not urban).

            Can you get out to the house to meet contractors? I’d think that’s all you need to do. Maybe even enlist nosy neighbor, throw her a few bucks to watch the place? Adding this in since I see you have a back injury so IMO need the help

      2. LucilleChenille*

        I’m outside the US and the property market is booming, and as this is a small family home it’s on the more affordable end of things in a part of the country where affordable homes are pretty hard to come by. The appraiser is coming to give me an idea of what’s an achievable figure in the current market, and also to give me some tips on what’s worth improving before selling it if that’s what I decide to do. The issue with contractors is the same across the city where I’m based – colleagues and friends have exactly the same issue as there’s a shortage of skilled tradespeople around at the moment. I did think it was something I was doing wrong until I mentioned it to work colleagues who are building/renovating homes and it’s a common enough issue to have here unfortunately.

    7. Chicago Anon*

      It seems like most people are on the “stay” side, so I’m going to give an opposing viewpoint. My last house was one that turned out to need a lot more work than the inspection had revealed, and we had bad feelings about it fairly early on, but carried on (it had been a long, long search for a house that met most of our criteria, and we were tired), only to regret it. We would rather have sold, even at a loss, early on, than have dealt with all the stuff that came up during the time we owned that house. We could have moved on to something that suited us much sooner. We also had an interfering neighbor, not nosy exactly in that she wouldn’t talk to us, but any time she saw anything she didn’t like on our property she’d call the city rather than asking us to address it, which was a huge PITA. Good neighbors are worth their weight in gold. Even an indifferent neighbor is better than an interfering one. So I’d say go with your gut on this one, unload the place that is a drain on your energy, find a temporary place if you have to, and start over, knowing better what you want this time around. Good luck to you, whatever you decide!

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        I work in city government in a department that is code enforcement adjacent and can say with confidence that there are some neighbors who you just have to move to get away from. Most of the worst neighbor relationships have instigators on both sides but there are plenty we end up involved with that have one reasonable neighbor and one who is a problem for a range of reasons. So if you can’t imagine a good relationship with the neighbor and can get out without losing money it may make sense to get out.

        1. Helewise*

          I agree with both Chicago Anon and Sparkle Llama. We live in a house right now that we like but is really too small for our family, without any practical fixes left that we haven’t done. Another house on our block came up for sale right after we bought this but we stayed put thinking it was silly to move again after 6 months… and it’s something I really regret. We love our neighborhood, but life would have been SO much easier with a house that suited us better. And the neighbor thing – I also have to do some code enforcement as part of my job and a bad one can be hard to fix. It’s something to take seriously, especially if you already have other concerns.

  11. GoryDetails*

    Small joys thread!

    One of mine: a hummingbird encounter. I’d added a new nectar feeder, and was watching a hummingbird take advantage of it – when the bird zoomed over to the window and hovered outside, gazing in at me! Quite charming, though I realized it was probably due to the bright-red shirt I was wearing.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My woofapotamus has switched to grownup dog food AND I found a local church that has a pet food pantry that will accept the 35-odd pounds of large breed puppy food I still had left over, even though it isn’t still sealed in a bag (or in a bag at all, I’d poured it into an airtight bin). All of the shelters I asked would only accept still-sealed kibble, and I was starting to despair of finding somewhere to take it before it starts to get old. So later this morning I am going to take it over to them, and take advantage of being out of the house before noon on a Saturday to swing by the local farmer’s market as well, I haven’t managed to make it over there yet this summer so I’m looking forward to seeing what they have today.

      (Also, I am really happy about the pet food pantry – they specifically target homeless folks, though they opened during Covid to help support people who were worried about having to rehome their pets due to job loss, and during their open hours they also have a volunteer vet tech on site to do free nail trims or gland expressing for folks who need assistance with those things. I plan to support them more in the future.)

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        The shelter I adopted Best Good Dog from has a pet food pantry that caters mostly to low income folks who might otherwise not be able to keep their pets. We send them a check every year for Best Good Dog’s adoptaversary. I wish every community had this!

    2. GoryDetails*

      More fun with birds: I just saw a wren taking a quick dip – in the tiny ant-moat atop my hummingbird feeder. (The ant-moat is a small plastic container about 3.5 inches in diameter and 1 inch deep, so not exactly roomy – even for a bird as small as a wren.) I’ve seen birds sipping water from the ant-moats, but hadn’t seen one use it as a personal birdbath before!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Oh, several today. I woke up this morning with our ex-feral snuggled up to my back. I keep hoping she’ll let us pick her up at some point, but the baby steps are soooo tiny.

      There are bunnies in the backyard! Possibly because we & our neighbors were so diligent with TNRing the feral cats the last couple years.

      We had a *huge* branch come off the big oak tree in a storm last night (like 2 ft diameter), that hit the shed and the beehives. By some miracle, it only smashed the corner of the overhang in the shed and knocked the decorative roof off the hive.

      No hole in the shed roof, and the bees are fine. Thank goodness!

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

      Enjoying seeing a rainstorm while being cozy inside.

      Also, I replaced my bath pillow and bath tray, so I can now read in the tub in style and comfort again.

    5. little yellow duck*

      I made myself a perfectly lovely cup of coffee yesterday. I don’t *love* coffee (I have it instead of tea when I need to wake up), and I eyeball everything. Yesterday’s mix of coffee, milk and temperature was delicious!

    6. Filosofickle*

      I found new dishes! My old set doesn’t fit my style anymore, but finding new has been stymied by a specific challenge (on top of lead and cost issues): I wanted them to coordinate with either my grandmother’s Candlewick or my mom’s china to make use of them better and not buy more serving pieces. I already have a ton. I found a colored opal glass set that pulls together both the white/siver china and the clear glass candlewick. It all looks intentional and lovely together! I can’t wait to have a dinner party.

      No one needs this many dishes, but I’m still attached to my family sets and those aren’t dishwasher/microwave friendly so not great for daily use. Though I have started to pull in some of the Candlewick because I have so much (like, service for 16) and if a few die that’s ok! So far the drinking glasses are tolerating the dishwasher well :)

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I cracked the recipe for the coffee frappe I got hooked on during a work trip abroad many years ago, and never found an equal for anywhere else (not even Greece!).

      I tried everything I could think of short of crushing the ice (that experiment didn’t go well for my blender). Turns out it’s all about frothing instant coffee and water together and adding the milk at the end, and I didn’t figure that out for ages because I never buy instant. That’s going to change now, at least for the summer months.

    8. Jay*

      I just discovered The Meat And Dairy Podcast.
      It’s a delightful bit of British humor centered around a (fictional) NPR-type podcast about the beef and dairy industry. The closest thing I can think of would be crossing Office Space with The X-Files, but played completely strait. It’s usually safe for work, so I can listen without headphones (which give me headaches, even the over-the-ear ones) without worrying that someone would overhear something awful, as could happen with something more true crimey.

      1. KathyG*

        My daughter got a bone-conduction headset for Christmas that she absolutely loves. It lets her listen to music at work without cutting herself off from what’s going on around her. It doesn’t sit ON her ears but BEHIND them.

    9. Girasol*

      Breakfast on the butte. A local church bought the hill for Easter sunrise service and put a cross on top. Nobody is ever there on a Sunday morning. Climb up almost to the top and there’s a shady ledge with a wonderful view of the river and the local farms. I can sit up there and enjoy a summer morning with a thermos of coffee and some pastry.

    10. Sitting Pretty*

      My partner and I just went for a brief dip in the community pool and one of my favorite neighbors was there. She hasn’t been feeling well the past month+ and I’ve been missing her. She’s doing a lot better this week and even brought her GF to the pool for the day, so we had this totally impromptu hour of chatting and cooling off in the pool with a couple of lovely people that we like a lot

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My dog has been cleared by the vet as No Longer Contagious! He was so happy to get to go see some dog friends today.

    12. RLC*

      After a very snowy and wet winter in the mountain west our native toad population has multiplied enormously! In addition to the large adults who appear out of hibernation each Spring, this year we have teeny-tiny baby toads all over the garden. Watching a creature half the size of my thumb pursue a moth twice its size provides much needed amusement.

    13. GoryDetails*

      One more: I’ve been getting lots of cucumbers from the one surviving cucumber vine in my garden, and decided to experiment with some of them – and made some cucumber syrup that turned out very well. (Just a simple syrup, with the shredded cucumber mixed in to steep for half an hour or so, then strained; a lovely pale green, good for mixing with soda water or spirits, and I’m going to try it in a salad dressing soon.)

  12. Falling Diphthong*

    Thoughts on The Chair, Netflix drama in which Sandra Oh plays Ji-Yoon Kim, first female chair (and first Asian-American chair) of the English Department at a university? Because I watched last week and I have feelings.

    I think it’s great as a portrait of academia, and as a portrait of institutions more broadly. I liked that both sides of various issues made the same missteps, e.g. I contextualize things when I care about the context, and not when I don’t, and I call you out for doing it wrong.

    I think the word “institution” indicates that the thing in question is rooted in tradition and changes slowly–we don’t say “This institution is effervescent, light on its feet, and constantly transforming into something new.” They have a quote about how you can’t use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house.

    And yet, that observation isn’t always true–like literally you can do this at times. Revanchists loathe education precisely because this is when so many people are getting exposed to new ideas and questioning their own assumptions. I thought the show didn’t really delve into the idea of change at an institution–that the conclusion was that committee work sucks and so you should just read poetry with small seminars of admiring students. A conclusion that is both really obvious to people even outside academe as the ideal way to structure your job, and didn’t really address any of the questions raised. “Can’t change stuff so don’t try” seemed to be the takeaway, even as people in the show around them changed stuff.

    While Ji-Yoon is the central character, she is very passive. I don’t know why she wanted to be chair–the only thing she seems to care about actively pursuing, tenure for Yaz, she is really ineffective at. (For me this is in sharp contrast to Oh’s turn in Killing Eve–Eve made a lot of bad choices, but she was active. She didn’t just sigh and feel overwhelmed. So I expected this to be a story where the central character is doing stuff.) Bill, in contrast, is very active. His actions range all the way from self-destructive to self-indulgent, but he’s making choices and taking action while everyone around him reacts to him. It’s a very well-drawn character arc… but it’s not given to the main character. Which can be meta as all hell, but not very satisfying.

    1. Seashell*

      I watched it a while ago, so I don’t remember all the details perfectly, but I enjoyed it. The main characters seemed realistic, since they were flawed but still had likeable things about them.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      I don’t know why I have this feeling but every time I see academia portrayed in the media like this, I feel super depressed and almost….icky? I don’t know how to describe it. I’ve never been on the academia track outside of my attending grad school. I don’t know anyone in academia either. But for some reason, the thought of this life makes me very sad. I can’t watch shows like this without feeling like the characters must be really unhappy. Maybe it makes me feel like I’m living my nightmare of suddenly realizing I’m still in school. So…I couldn’t even make it through episode one.

  13. Dwight Schrute*

    I’m looking for cozy mystery/crime shows!

    Things I’ve watched and enjoyed:
    Psych
    Death in paradise
    Monk
    Bones
    Castle
    The mentalist
    Crossing Jordan
    Murder she wrote

    Thanks for your suggestions!

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Father Brown and Miss Marple and Agatha Christie’s Poirot would be the first ones that would spring to mind.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Murdoch Mysteries, set in early-1900s Canada – lots of nods to celebrities, scientists, etc. of the day, a good cast of characters, and a mix of humor, dark crime, and police-procedural.

      On the even-lighter side: Shakespeare and Hathaway, a pair of private investigators who – along with their Royal Shakespeare-trained receptionist/sidekick – solve crimes, often hilariously.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t know how easy it is to find nowadays, but the Sergeant Cribb series (set in Victorian England, based on novels by Peter Lovesey) is really good.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Love Midsomer Murders! Always makes me think of one of my favorite articles ever on Lit Hub: How to Avoid Getting Murdered In A Small English Village.

    3. Anon Poster*

      Is Only Murders in the Building too obvious of a suggestion? My favorite coworker and I call it “our cozy murder show” when we talk about it at lunch.

        1. Anonymous cat*

          Me too! I was expecting the standard fluffy buddy detective show (no shade at that, it’s a fun genre), and I found myself really enjoying it!

          Both for the relationship between mother and son (after they stop fussing at each other and become more like partners on the cases) and because of the mother’s characterization.

          She’s an older woman who’s professional without being mean, ambitious without backstabbing, and is finding her way in this techno world. (She’s not up on all the latest things but she picks up things from her kids, like how to drop a pin on a map, how to use various apps, watches the occasional trendy show with an innocent “Doesn’t everybody?”)

    4. Laura Jane*

      Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
      Beyond Paradise (Death in Paradise spinoff show)
      Agatha Raisin (not my thing, but my mum adores it)
      Midsomer Murders (the classic British cosy murder mystery)
      Rosemary & Thyme (the cosiest of cosies)

    5. little yellow duck*

      Brokenwood. It’s a NZ detective show. It tried to take itself seriously at first, but then devolved into a comedy.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I also second this one! And the mysteries are very good.

        My Life is Murder is also good, and stars Lucy Lawless.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I like My Life is Murder, but is it cozy?

          Brokenwood is fun, though.

          I second the Poirot show starring David Suchet, who really is the one and only Poirot for me. I did enjoy the movies starring Kenneth Branagh as well, but it took a while to get used to his version of the character.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I think it walks a line, but it definitely has a sense of humor.

            The Madame Blanc mysteries are good, & you learn some history.

    6. Chaordic One*

      The Frankie Drake Mysteries
      The Sister Boniface Mysteries (a Father Brown spin-off)
      The Bletchley Circle
      The Bletchley Circle San Francisco
      Granchester
      The Doctor Blake Mysteries
      Hetty Wainthropp Investigates
      Rosemary and Thyme
      Foyle’s War (The last season set in the time period just after World War II ended was especially interesting.)

    7. Clisby*

      I’m a huge fan of Midsomer Murders (set in England) and Brokenwood Mysteries (set in New Zealand.)

      Midsomer, in particular, is one of those series (like Murder She Wrote) that will have you wondering how anyone survives living a village. There’s even a book about it – google “Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village”.

        1. Clisby*

          For the love of god, do not go to the village fete. And while you’re at it, avoid the vicar.

      1. Chaordic One*

        It took me a while to get into Midsomer Murders and figure out what it was about. Initially I found the theremin theme music to be a distraction and I think I was expecting more of a supernatural element to it. Not every episode is great, but most of the time it manages to combine mystery with black comedy with great wit and I’ve grown to love it.

    8. vulturestalker*

      Seconding Poirot and Miss Fisher! The latter has a lot of awesome clothes (she manages to catch criminals wearing heels and flapper dresses, and it’s amazing).

    9. Just here for the scripts*

      Inspector Lewis and Endeavor series(s)—both are spin-offs from the Inspector Morse series (BBC and PBS). Given that Cambridge is a small town in and of itself I think it fits.

      Also the three pines series from Amazon (from the 25+ book series it’s books 3, 4, and 5 with some updates)

      And the Dark Winds series (season 2 is out now)

      Also Magpie Murders limited series on Netflix, as well as Lincoln Lawyer (season 2?is out now, so there’s the whole season 1 to watch :)

    10. Nitpicker*

      New Tricks. Squad of retired policemen solving cold cases. Now on BritBox.

      Not sure if it’s cozy, but Bergerac – John Nettles before Midsomer Murders. Policeman on Jersey (one of the Channel Islands). Also on BritBox.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, and Bergerac is yet another show that was contemporary for the 1980s when it was made. I haven’t seen it in years, but I thought Charlie (Terence Alexander) was creepy (older gentleman who was patronizing to young women, and I recognized this as a teen) when the show first aired, so I have no idea how well it’s aged.

        1. Nitpicker*

          Charlie is creepy (and his constant involvement sometimes stretches belief) but the show as a whole is pretty good. Interesting to see the young John Nettles.

    11. Not Totally Subclinical*

      The Ellery Queen Show — late 1970s show about a mystery writer and his police officer father solving crimes.

      Nero Wolfe, the ones with Maury Chakin and Timothy Hutton. There’s a repertory cast, so the person playing the murderer in one episode may play the client or a random suspect in another.

    12. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Matlock gives Jessica Fletcher vibes if you wanna go old school.
      I liked Cardinal, River & Three Pines, but they’re darker & not cozy!
      Bosch on Prime is a decent adaptation of the Connelly series.
      All Rise is a courtroom drama, but I really liked it.

    13. AC*

      To me, “cozy” doesn’t describe Bones or the Mentalist, so using an expanded definition, I’ll add:

      Burn Notice
      Three Pines

    14. Forensic13*

      If you like your mysteries VERY light most of the time, even whimsical, then Pushing Daisies was a really fun show. It only had two seasons, but thankfully didn’t have to leave too many loose ends.

      It’s about a man who bakes pies. . . and can also bring the dead back to life and talk to them, but only for a minute. (Or there are CONSEQUENCES.)

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

      Would *Remington Steele* count? It’s a sort-of mystery-romance from the 1980s.

      1. Clisby*

        I hadn’t thought of Remington Steele in a long time. (Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist.)

        I don’t remember specifics, but the premise is that Laura (Stephanie Z.) is a private detective, but she’s having trouble being taken seriously because she’s a woman. So she invents this boss, “Remington Steele”, and starts dropping his name with clients. Then this mysterious guy (Pierce B.) shows up – I don’t think you ever find out who he really is – but hey, he’s Pierce Brosnan so she gets him to pose as Remington Steele.

        It’s pretty entertaining.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          ETA: especially when Stephanie Zimbalist can just lose her entire Goddamn mind–the episode set in Las Vegas when she’s on a gambling streak is hilarious.

        2. Anonymous cat*

          Re: Clisby’s comment above: Do they ever find out who Remington really was? I thought there was an episode somewhere with a family member showing up but I watched it so long ago…

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            *SPOILER FOR 40 YEAR OLD SHOW*

            As far as I know, he does–his mentor (the one played by Stephanie’s real life dad, Ephram Zimbalist Jr.) turns out to be his real dad; I can’t recall what his “actual” name is, though–I’ll know soon enough as I’ve just got the last season cued up!

        3. The New Wanderer*

          Oooh thanks for the tip! This has been on my backlog of shows to watch.

          I think I’ve watched all of the OP’s show list and a handful of others, so I’ll offer up The Rookie – it’s mostly a cop show with some murder solving, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Didn’t really get into the spinoff Rookie Feds though.

      2. Retired Accountant*

        I just started watching this on Prime, having fond memories of watching it in junior high school. Only I apparently didn’t watch the first season; I have no memory of anything pre-Mildred. I had no idea I had missed the whole first season.

        (To anyone starting it for the first time, as is often the case the first season is not the best.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Definitely still getting things coordinated but it’s fun to watch so many future givens, like Laura’s loft apartment, slotting into place.

    16. Jay*

      Pie In The Sky is a favorite.
      It’s the adventures of Inspector Crabb, an older, fatter, policeman who is desperately trying to retire early after being shot in the line of duty to go run a restaurant, but his boss won’t let him.
      It’s very funny, definitely on the “cozy” side, and involves more steak and kidney pie than high speed chases.

  14. Gummies*

    Looking for advice from people who are good at crafts/sewing.

    My backpack has two straps with buckles to hold a skateboard, which I use for holding hoodies or jackets. Prongs on the buckles broke, so I bought Gear Aid’s no sew dual snap bar buckles to replace them. The buckles work great and getting them on my backpack was easy since I didn’t have to cut apart the backpack and re-sew anything. (I’m not good at crafts/sewing!) Only problem turned out to be that they don’t have that extra bar on them that holds the strap in places and allows you to adjust the length of the strap (it might be called a “ladder lock”?). Now the straps are too long and loose when not in use and I won’t be able to adjust them to hold thin hoodies.

    Is there something I can add something to make the straps adjustable again without having to cut/sew the straps? I saw no sew “webbing connecting clip tri glide slides” on Amazon, which I think might work, but I’m not sure? (Starting a new job on Monday, so a bit stressed out and not good at figuring things out at the moment!)

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I have a sore throat, fatigue and hives. What relaxing activities do you recommend? I’m drinking honey tea in the summer it’s so bad

    2. Not A Manager*

      If I’m picturing the situation correctly, I would try strong self-adhesive velcro patches, or – and hear me out – something like a small barrette. I’m sure there are products at the hardware store that are basically snap-on flat clips.

      1. KeinName*

        Something like a hair pin you would use for a wedding do-up? Struggling with the terminology here ;) a thing you push into a strand of hair

    3. ShinyPenny*

      Cheap, fast, and no-sew: binder clips.
      1. Black binder clips on a folded up black strap would be functional and pretty discrete (flatten the arms up to reduce chances of them getting caught on stuff).
      2. Stuff straps into nearest pocket, possible retaining with binder clips inside the pocket
      Temporary fix for holding thinner hoodies: wrap straps around hoody more than once before buckling. Consider cross strapping? Or both.
      (Maybe ask around to see if you know anyone who sews? I’ve fixed similar things for friends of friends— I enjoy solving the puzzles, and justifying my vast assortment of sewing supplies lol.)
      Best wishes on your new job!

    4. SallyAnn*

      I would avoid Velcro. The hook side will wreak havoc with fabrics , especially knit like sweaters if your using those straps to hold them. Pulls and snags everywhere. Velcro also tends to eat polartec-type fabric – the Velcro gets clogged up with fuzz.
      Binder clips are easiest, although watch for rust if your pack gets rained on frequently.

    5. HowIMetYourAunt*

      Black safety pins! Just pin along the strap before the hole on the clip and it will “jam” it and prevent it from pulling the strap through. Or just pin the strap to itself at a length you prefer. You can put it on the inside so the pin doesn’t show or come undone.

  15. Come On Eileen*

    What is your favorite way to get more fiber into your diet?

    I feel like I already do a lot of the things I should – drink water, exercise, eat some foods that help – like raspberries, oatmeal, whole wheat bread (but I could definitely stand to improve – I’m not great at eating veggies). I bought myself some dried prunes and some Fiber One cereal, but I need other ideas for ways to get more fiber into my diet. I’m a 48 year old female if that helps. Thanks in advance.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I should point out – I already had a follow up appointment with a nurse and have a second follow up scheduled with my primary care doc next week! I’m more curious how average people out there are getting fiber into their diet.

    1. Bibliovore*

      yep, check in with a Dr. I take a daily dose of Benefiber as per my doctor’s recommendation. This has worked much better than a hi-fiber diet/daily prunes etc.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I will definitely ask my doctor – have an appointment scheduled next week! So sorry, should make it clear I’m not seeking medical advice here.

    2. Double A*

      Chia seeds. You can mix them into oatmeal or smoothies or things like that and they don’t affect the taste but do have a lot of fiber.

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        Chia seeds also make a great pudding-like dessert. I started with the recipe for Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding at The Minimalist Baker. It works with cow milk as well as plant milks, but I found that the proportion of chia seeds to milk had to be tweaked a bit.

    3. mreasy*

      I would go to a gastroenterologist ASAP. I have the same tendency and I make sure to eat probiotic foods like yogurt and raw sauerkraut. Also, if you have trouble with veggies, how about a morning smoothie with frozen fruit, yogurt/kefir, maybe some ground flax seed (start with 1/2 tsp or so), and raw greens? You can add sweetener if you’d like, the fruit will cover up the “grassy” taste and it’s a lot of the things you’ll want to be eating. That said, you’ve got to increase your fiber slowly or you could get terrible gas pains. Psyllium husk can also help. I don’t usually go for wheat products in increasing fiber because sometimes wheat can be hard to digest. I would see if you can try to increase your veggie consumption somehow.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’m willing to respond to a request for food recs by recommending foods.

      One thing to try would be stewed fruit. It’s basically any dried fruits you enjoy softened in hot liquid, with any flavors added that you like. I’d start with prunes and dried apricots, cover them in orange juice (or just water), and simmer until soft. Add some sugar, honey or maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon if you like that. Eat this warm, cold or at room temp, by itself or over oatmeal or yogurt. I like it with a splash of heavy cream.

      If that’s too much work, and if you like prunes, you might find that just having a small bowl of prunes in the morning helps you out. I have them with whole milk or half and half.

      Oatmeal is good. Try the steel-cut kind that you make with a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio, instead of rolled oats. They take forever if you start with them raw, but you can soak them overnight and then they cook quickly. Bring the oats and water to a boil, cover, and let stand overnight. (Some people refrigerate them; I don’t bother. It depends on your level of food safety.) In the morning, add some more water and bring to a boil, then simmer until they are as soft as you like. I usually need to keep adding water as it absorbs. These reheat well so you don’t have to go through this process every day.

      I wouldn’t bother with whole wheat bread unless you like it. The amount of fiber isn’t going to help you as much as things like dried fruit.

      1. Not A Manager*

        My younger relative had a similar problem and he found Metamucil to be helpful. I’m adding this as a separate comment in case it’s skating too close to medical advice.

        1. Squidhead*

          Metamucil/generic psyllium is also available in capsule form if you can’t stand the mix-up drink. But either version is only 1.8 grams fiber per dose, so if fiber is really the issue then Not A Manager’s food suggestions are good places to start & psyllium could be used as an adjunct.

          Been down a less-acute version of this road myself and OP, don’t go from 0 to 60 with the daily fiber all at once. It will take you some time to adjust!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        When we were in northern Italy the hotel’s breakfast buffet had a bowl of stewed prunes every day, and I would have them with yogurt and granola. Delicious and felt healthy.

      3. Lady_Lessa*

        Aldi’s has quick cook Steel cut oats. It’s either 30 minutes soaking in hot water plus 5 minutes microwave or overnight soaking (RT water) and 5 minutes microwaving. I tend to use a large bowl and use 5 minutes at 50% power.

    5. Bert*

      I have found eating two kiwi fruit a day (sliced or chopped, with the skin on) has kept everything moving along nicely after an experience similar to yours (but more like a few days, not a week).

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I have chronic idiopathic constipation and take miralax nightly—just have to make sure I get enough fluid in my diet, not fiber. So lots of soups instead of salads, fewer carbonated beverages, more Hint and other flavored waters, Arnold Palmers and it’s makeups (ice tea and lemonade), and straight up water. Also some fatty products to help grease the system and keep things moving (a couple of spoonfuls of unsalted peanut butter, avocado, etc).

        Do check with your doctor—like me it might not be just a fiber issue, but a motility issue.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If you want mom-style advice, eat a plant or two at every meal. Apples and pears are great. Berries. Baby carrots. Oranges. Grape tomatoes, anything you can grab & go without a lot of “fixing.” All kinds of dried fruit are good too, and drink plenty of water with them. Ground flax meal is a good add-in for smoothies, granola, or yogurt with fruit. A good cup of coffee before a morning walk can do a lot, just leave off the whipped cream or frappa-nonsense toppings.

      Avoid too much chocolate, cheese, white rice, fatty meats, rich baked goods, or full-fat dairy. Lowfat or skim dairy isn’t necessarily a problem unless you are sensitive to it. Cultured dairy like yogurt or kefir can help, as can kombucha, kimchi, or other fermented foods with probiotics, or a probiotic supplement.

      Anything from 3x per day to 3x per week can be within normal range if you feel okay. If it’s been several days since you’ve “been,” and you feel uncomfortable, ask your doctor if Miralax or a generic equivalent is okay. It’s very gentle. You just don’t want to have to resort to it all the time.

      Source: mom of picky eater who gets stomach aches from not listening to her mother.

    7. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Fiber isn’t the only thing to consider. Make sure you’re also staying hydrated and moving (not necessarily exercise, even a daily walk).

      I second checking in with your doctor, too. If you already get plenty of fiber and this is still an issue, you should be evaluated for things like colon cancer.

    8. little yellow duck*

      Beans, chickpeas. Also, start tracking your fiber (how much is in each food you eat) so you know how much you’re getting a day. That will help your doc/np/dietician understand where you are and what the problem is.
      I like making socca with chickpea flour. It’s a savoury pancake.

    9. Sitting Pretty*

      I was also doing plenty of fruits and prunes and things when having a similar issue last year. My mother recommended the cereal called Kashi GO. I tried it and… oh my goodness. It certainly lives up to it’s name.

    10. ThatGirl*

      Lots of water. My husband has had chronic constipation and now uses Miralax every other day, at his doctor’s rec. It’s gentle and safe. Benefiber can also help.

      Otherwise: leafy greens, fruit, whole grains over more processed ones.

    11. loralei*

      Things to ask your doctor about – daily magnesium supplements, probiotics, bananas as a Nope food. Foods I love that are beneficial to me personally – strawberries, blueberries, oatmeal, wheat bread, salad greens, black beans.

    12. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I know someone who can’t “go” when they’re stressed, their record was nearly 2 weeks. Then, hours after the stressful situation was over, they were perfectly fine once again! It might be worth looking at your stress levels over time and see if there’s a relation there.

      1. Squidhead*

        And consider tracking any recurrent problems against your menstrual cycle if you (still) have one.

    13. Seashell*

      You have my sympathy, as I didn’t go for a week after the c-section with my first kid. It was seriously uncomfortable when things did start moving.

      The Metamucil fiber thins are reasonably tasty. I tried a few flavors, and I think the apple one was my favorite.

      Not exactly a health food, but Frosted Mini-Wheats make me go like clockwork.

    14. ina*

      Many “keto” branded foods are very high in fiber. Beans and lentils are another option. Wheat bran, which you can sneak into your baked goods. Chia seeds, too – in a smoothie with some high fiber fruits and veggies.

      You might have another issue going on that upping fiber won’t fix though so please go to a gastro doc!!

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      A couple of things to think about: are you someone who is happy eating the same thing every day, or not?

      If you are, then getting the doctor or nutritionist to recommend something to have for either breakfast every day, or lunch every day, would probably work. Similarly, would figuring out one or a few fruits and vegetables you were happy to eat a lot of work for you, or do you need more variety?

      If you need variety, try asking for a week or ten days’ worth of different lunches, or several different salads, vegetables soups, etc.

      For myself, I find that adding something to my diet was easier than subtracting something. Trying to eat less of something could lead to stress, but thinking “I will have a piece of fruit every morning” didn’t, even though I knew that if I ate (say) more fruit, I was likely to eat less of something else, just because I wouldn’t be as hungry. If that’s true for you, think about what you do want (blueberries? applesauce?) rather than about not eating bananas.

    16. Jay*

      Metamucil.
      I keep a can in the pantry at work and make myself a nice big glass of orange sludge every afternoon. Works like a charm for my laundry list of digestive issues.
      They have plenty of different types, try them out and figure out which works best for you.
      I use the Premium Blend, personally. It doesn’t really work any better, but it’s more concentrated, so I can keep a can of powder that will last a month or so in a very little corner of the shelf.
      It tastes even worse than it looks and the texture is just short of nightmare fuel, but it works better than anything I have ever used, by a wide margin, and is quick and easy to make, keep, and store.
      I just drink it as fast as I can and try not to taste anything, lol.

      1. Squidhead*

        I said it up above, but they have psyllium capsules! The store brand ones are way cheaper than the brand name & 5 of them equal one packet/dose of powder. The capsules kind of float so I take them one at a time with plenty of water (I need to drink more anyway), but they are way better than the sludge and they don’t have artificial sweeteners or flavors. (The capsules are probably gelatin, though, if that’s an issue.)

    17. Prospect Gone Bad*

      For me, years ago, it was a wheat allergy. I know, I was shocked too. I also ate lots of fiber, which is why I was always so annoyed and frustrated but also scared it was something extra serious. I always thought allergies meant the opposite problem, but no, once I cut out wheat, stuff started working again and then success sort of builds on itself and then your gut heals and you can add more fiber and food in general, without feeling sickly.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Thank you, Alison – I saw that and will re-familiarize myself with the rules. I appreciate the suggestions I’ve received here.

    18. Anon for guts*

      In my country, science-based food plans for bettering one’s gut bacteria has been all the rage for some time. THE thing to do is to eat lots of different vegetables and especially cabbage (broccoli, kale, cauliflower etc) as well as berried and nuts. A lot of people (it seems) start the day with a ‘green porridge’ of blended carrots, cabbage, walnuts, spinach, avocado, tomatos, beansprouts and more. I found it to be ridiculous for a long time, but as I have ‘hidden constipation’, I have finally realized that it is probably a good idea for me, too.
      Keywords to search for could be gut bacteria or anti-inflammatory food.

    19. Pumpkinhead*

      My sister currently takes a powder fiber supplement mixed into water. I believe you can get different flavored ones. Your doctor can probably recommend a specific brand if this is a good option for you!

    20. beep beep*

      Everyone’s bodies are different, of course, and I believe I may have a sensitivity aggravating my condition, but I have chronic, uh, that, and I’ve recently (last few months) cut out almost all dairy from my diet and am taking 5g fiber from Fiberwell gummies a day, and things are a lot better. I still eat baked goods except for things like cheesecake that are especially dairy-heavy, will occasionally cook in butter if a recipe calls for it, but I’ve discovered that things like pizza with no cheese (surprisingly okay, really) helped me a lot. This is not for everyone, again! Talk to a doctor about dietary changes before making them, and what you might need to replace the vitamins you won’t be getting anymore from anything you cut out.

      1. beep beep*

        Oh, and I love the texture of freeze-dried fruit, much more so than regular dried fruit. It’s expensive, but I’m looking into getting a dehydrator to do it myself. My next step in making things better is upping my fluids intake; I’m trying to find a decent water flavoring that’ll entice me to drink more, even though I do like water, I just… forget it’s a need sometimes.

    21. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I switched to whole wheat pasta. It’s higher in fiber than regular pasta, and some brands are pretty good! (Some brands are terrible, so you may need to shop around a bit.) I currently buy Target’s Good and Gather brand, because Target has a $35 minimum for free shipping and dried pasta is an easy thing to add to any online order when I need to spend a little more money since it keeps well and I eat a lot of it, but before that I bought the bulk dried whole wheat pasta shells at Winco and they were also good.

      You can get applesauce in one-serving shelf-stable containers, so that’s also an easy thing to add to your diet. I used to snack on dried apple slices, too.

      Many years ago, my doctor recommend ground flax seeds, but I found them to be a little too sharp and itchy on the way back out compared to other fiber sources. (I used a coffee grinder and bought whole flax seeds, then mixed them with oatmeal for breakfast.)

      Swapping other things for bread and anything else involving white flour helped the most, I think. I started buying Wasa bread for most of my sandwich needs, corn tortillas instead of wheat ones, whole grain flour instead of all-purpose flour for baking, and so on. Swapping beans for meat helps too but I didn’t really get into that until I became a vegetarian for unrelated reasons.

    22. anxiousGrad*

      I started eating salad for breakfast four times a week and it’s really helped! My recipe is 2 cups of raw kale massaged in a teaspoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup cooked quinoa, a couple of strawberries, and half an avocado. I usually prepare two salads at once ahead of time and then in the morning I put a soft boiled egg on top (the runny egg yolk kind of adds a dressing). Having salad in the morning was definitely an adjustment but now I really like it and look forward to it. I don’t usually eat it more often than four times a week, though, since avocados are expensive. On mornings when I don’t eat the salad I tend to have muesli with milk and fresh blueberries. I also started putting cucumber slices on my turkey or cheese sandwiches at lunch. I’m also generally a big fan of melon, stone fruit, beans, and lentils.

    23. Pearl Grey*

      Eat your veggies! My favorites are broccoli, squash, cabbage, any type of greens, and home grown tomatoes. Also, I love to eat salads for lunch. Usually I start with a base of baby spinach, kale, or mustard greens and top with a hard boiled egg, onions, carrots, red cabbage, whatever fruit is in season (tangerines, apples, cherries, blueberries or yellow cherry tomatoes), and fresh herbs from the garden. Sometimes I add avocado, chopped up jerky, or some other protein.

    24. CanadaGoose*

      Lentil soup. Edamame with salt. Black or pinto beans in any Mexican-inspired dish. Spinach and white beans in a frittata. Lemony or Parmesan-Roasted broccoli. Seedy breads. Leaving the skin on potatoes (scrub, don’t peel). New flavours of hummus, like roasted red pepper, for dipping raw veg or whole grain pita. Avocado slices as your fat component, because it also has some fiber. Pasta made from whole grains, chickpeas, or lentils. All the berries, blended into smoothies if desired. Ground flax or chia seed for those smoothies, or yogurt, etc.
      But not all of these at once! Ease in with plenty of water to prevent constipation.

    25. cat in cardboard box*

      I used magnesium supplements daily for years, but it was sometimes still not enough. My Dr recommended psyllium husk powder and adding that to the routine did the trick. I still use both daily. More recently I’m trying to get a fibrous fruit or vegetable in with every meal, and that also really helps – with prunes as a backup option if I miss the fruit or veg, and/or an additional supplement at particular times of the monthly cycle. Finding vegetables that I actually enjoy is a challenge, but fortunately there are a few (and a few particular recipes) that I enjoy pretty consistently. I appreciate Ellyn Satter’s advice (on diet/eating in general and) on vegetables: put enough butter/sauce/cheese/etc. on them to make them actually enjoyable. :)

  16. Not A Manager*

    If I’m picturing the situation correctly, I would try strong self-adhesive velcro patches, or – and hear me out – something like a small barrette. I’m sure there are products at the hardware store that are basically snap-on flat clips.

  17. Therapy?*

    I have been seeing a therapist for 2 years now and am getting worried that this is too long. I think I am making progress, but worry that I should have been done by now or that this is way outside the norm. Is it? I know this will vary depending on what issue you’re working on, but for those who have gone to therapy how long did it take?

    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s entirely personal. Some people need it for a few months. Others a few years. Some most of their lives. My husband has been seeing his for 10 years because it’s a chronic (mental) illness. He’s definitely seen a lot of progress but for him it’s as much part of caring for his health as going to the gym.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      This is personally one of my issues with therapy – it never seems to end. I was looking at a therapist office that had a wait list several years long and reviews mentioning the great therapists that the people have had for 5, 7, whatever years.

      So, I don’t think you’re outside the norm at all :) Most people I know in therapy have been doing so for a decade or more (usually on and off).

    3. Come On Eileen*

      I think “too long” is entirely subjective! Some people go to therapy to deal with a certain concrete issue in their life – a break up, grief after a death – and so a loose timeline can be helpful. But many, many of us go to therapy because life is hard and we need someone to talk to about our problems. There’s no real time limit for that kind of help! If you’ve found a therapist you like, that understands you, and helps you navigate life better — keep going.

    4. BRR*

      This is something that would be great to bring up with your therapist. They know your situation and can help you establish what your goals are.

    5. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

      I haven’t been at therapy myself*, but know people who have been there for a year and were done (okay, not necessarily done, but no more “weekly appointment with therapist”) and also know people who’ve been in therapy since long before covid came and there’s no end in sight or where attempting to end it didn’t work.
      I’d say it heavily depends on you, your therapist, and what you are working on.
      Honestly, if you were asking me for advice, it’d be to not give it up just because it’s been two years if you don’t feel like your issues are solved enough. That stuff can vary a ton and even if someone with the same issue (as in, if the therapist had to write down a diagnosis it’d be the same) might have successfully finished therapy after a year, if you need five (or whatever time you’ll end up needing), take this time.

      *Unless you count that one meeting but all that did was confirming my assumption it’d be useless for me.

    6. Bibliovore*

      True story.
      Not my story to tell but I will anyway, Mr. Bibliovore and the shrink

      So, Mr. Bibliovore was working at a job he hated.
      How did I know?
      Every night he would come home and tell me how much he hated that job.
      How they had meetings and didn’t invite him.
      How they made decisions that affected his sales reps and didn’t include him in the discussions.
      How they were all snarky with in-jokes.

      It was like a high-school cafeteria.

      Here’s the thing.
      I was unsympathetic.
      I was in the last 3 months of my graduate degree.
      I was being worked to death at my job in the central children’s room of the Big City Public Library.
      This was a supposedly plum assignment but unfortunately the jobs were filled by seniority not expertise working with children.
      These were much desired postings because unlike the branch libraries, the Central specialist librarians didn’t have to open or close the building or staff the circulation desk.
      They only worked in one department, could call security on the unruly patrons, traded weekend shifts and got time and half pay for Sundays.
      My immediate supervisor was an ignorant human who spent most of his time talking about how “they are out there” ” aliens are real” and made daily negative pronouncements about our Jewish patrons “the black hats” AKA Hasidim.
      And he knew nothing of children’s books and child development.
      My other two co-worker peers also had no experience working with children and were “secretly” dating, therefore one would take a vacation day and the other would call out sick.
      We were constantly short staffed.
      The department manager had put in her 25 years and was phoning it in.
      She arrived at the Children’s Room hours late, barely did any work and would corner me with long monologues disguised as a question five minutes before my shift was over.
      “Do you think I should take the early retirement?”
      “YES, YES!” I thought as I watched through the office window, my bus that only came only every half hour pull away from the bus stop.
      AND my dad was dying of a brain tumor.
      We were pretty much commuting from Big City to Smaller City, my hometown, every weekend for the last three months.

      I bluntly said to Mr. Bibliovore, “you need to speak to a professional.”

      “A career counselor,
      a psychologist,
      anyone,
      just not me.”
      My therapist gave me two names for Mr. Bibliovore.
      He picked the one closest to his job.

      I guessed it had been working out.
      I didn’t hear about his job for a while.
      He hadn’t talked about therapy at all.
      I hadn’t wanted to pry.
      Okay, I did but I didn’t.

      After about a month,
      Me: So how is the therapy going?
      Him: Great.
      Me: Really?
      Him: Yes, she told me to quit my job and buy a car.

      What!?
      I was thinking, that’s not how therapy works!
      I have years!
      Years of experience!

      Jokes on me.
      That next weekend my stepmother sold us her thirteen-year-old Honda.

      One month later, Mr. Bibliovore got fired.

      He quit therapy.

      So I guess the answer to your question is- it takes what it takes.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I have been in therapy 5 times in my life. In my twenties for anxiety and depression. It was cognitive and I had weekly assignments to help me navigate the world of family and work. Weekly, about a year and half.
        Four years later, facing difficulties with a major move, bad job situation, 4 sessions with a therapist to get good orderly direction.

        Five years later, marriage difficulties, anxiety, depression, hated my job and life. Cognitive therapy weekly for a year, then twice a month for about 6 months, then “as needed.”

        Fifteen years later, difficulties dealing with a fraught work situation that was keeping me up nights. I went to 3 sessions and got my head on straight about my side of the street.

        And now I am in grief counseling. It’s been 2 years, twice a month. I am thinking I am ready to go once a month going forward.

        Reflecting on each of these periods, as I got better each time it was more about not having the NEED and the feeling that I had internalized the recovery tools that were provided by my therapists.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      What is “too long”?
      IMO it’s “too long” if you’re no longer feeling like you’re making progress or improving. It’s a very personal thing. It might mean you’re done. It might mean you need a break. It might mean you need a new therapist with a new approach.
      I have done therapy for a few years, sometimes weekly while working on specific things. Sometimes biweekly or monthly when I’m doing better or need a break from the intensity of the trauma processing. I’m currently back to weekly because some past traumas have reared their ugly head and made regular life hard again.
      “Too long” isn’t one size fits all.

    8. OyHiOh*

      I’ve been in therapy for the better part of 4 years. Started with grief counseling (very specific, ran for 12 months). After that, set new goals that basically amount to “I want to thrive at living” and I intend to keep going as long as that’s a useful goal I can make progress towards.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Too long depends on the person, situation, and kind of therapy (no matter what a health insurance company may try to tell you).

      If you’re making progress, there’s no more reason to stop seeing that therapist than there would be to stop going to the dentist because you have no cavities. You may have defined a goal that you’re working with the therapist on, or you may have agreed that it helps to talk to this person every week, or every month, into the indefinite future.

      I went to therapy for a few months of cognitive-behavioral therapy, after which the doctor said to call if/when I needed to talk to her again. The thing is, CBT is designed to be short-term, and to teach you specific skills, like ways to distract oneself from catastrophizing.

      A lot of other forms of therapy normally take longer, but insurance companies would rather pay for six or twelve sessions of CBT than for a longer course of therapy that might be more useful for that person or that problem.

    10. ampersand*

      This might make you feel better–I’ve been with the same therapist for almost 10 years, and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that. I’m aiming to end my sessions by the end of this year or early next year, because at this point I feel like I’m done. There will always be something to discuss, but do I feel like I NEED therapy? Not anymore. So part of my answer is that if you FEEL done, it may be time to wrap up your sessions.

      If you’re just worried that you should be done by now, or that other people think you should be done, I wouldn’t let that keep you from continuing if you’re overall seeing a benefit. This is a good thing to discuss with your therapist; it’s part of their job to discuss goals and timelines and such.

    11. Alex*

      There is no right answer. But I have been with my current therapist for two and a half years and it’s not my first try.

      When you say how long did “it” take, what is “it” for you? What is your goal?

      Maybe at your next session, say you want to go over your goals with therapy, and review progress towards them.

      But also, always remember you can just say, “I’m not getting what I need out of this right now” or “I think I’ve taken this as far as I’ve needed to go” and stop today. It’s entirely your decision.

    12. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Um. I started therapy in 1996 or 1997. Have taken breaks for a year or two and switched therapists when my original one retired, and I’m still at it about twice a month. It feels like regular maintenance – like a psychological oil change or something. Sometimes I feel like we’re just chatting; sometimes I still have deep work to do. And sometimes the ish really hits the fan in my life and I am grateful for the relationship and her understanding of me when I need serious help.

      And I know people who have gone into therapy for specific issues and been “done” in a few months or a few years. It’s entirely, utterly personal. It might be worth talking to your therapist about why you’re worrying about the length of your therapy :)

    13. cat in cardboard box*

      I JUST had this conversation (again) with my therapist — in my case, I need the reassurance that it is ok to continue going weekly without an end date planned — I really want to continue but I get insecure about taking up my therapist’s time when “others might need it more”. Ironically, this thought is most likely a symptom of the specific mental illness I struggle with…

      for context, I found my first good match with a therapist in 2015 and have been going the majority of the time since then — when I’ve had to stop for various reasons, within 3 months my life and ability to cope with it take a nosedive.

      My current therapist (and really all the others I’ve had) reassured me that it is totally fine, and always tries to turn the power back to me — in that it’s my decision; if I feel like I’m getting something out of it then it’s great that I want to continue. (I imagine it might be different if someone were showing up but without a personal motivation or not putting the effort into recovery/improvement. I used to be a college instructor, and it reminds me of the huge difference between working with students who actively wanted to be there vs. those who were just there to fulfill some external expectation etc.)

      So my answer is that it really depends on why you’re asking. If you feel like you’re not making any progress, you’re free to stop, or pause for a while and see how you feel, or even look for a different therapist. But if your feelings are similar to mine, all I can tell you is what my therapist told me — it’s ok!

      Oh, but as someone else said — bring it up with your therapist! It’s not rude or weird or awkward — it’s a great check-in/opportunity for self reflection on how you’ve grown and changed, and assuming they are a competent therapist, they won’t be offended or worried!

  18. gendered language*

    What languages do you know that indicate gender (of people, not nouns) other than by 3rd person pronouns and possessives? For example: in English, gender is only indicated by pronouns (he/she/they) never verbs; In French it’s indicated in some past tenses: je suis allé/allée (male/female)(I went; you also have different spellings of the past participle for he/she went); In Semetic languages (Hebrew/Arabic) there’s an extra syllable that gets tacked on to verbs for female speakers.

    So: what other languages change the verbs based on the gender of the speaker, or the person they are referring to?

    1. Rara Avis*

      Many languages change adjectives to indicate gender, and that’s what’s happening in the French example you gave — the verb form includes a participle, which is an adjective that has to agree with the gender of the subject. Italian and Spanish do that as well, and I would assume most of the Romance languages do because Latin.

      1. AnonyDay*

        I have to disagree, in the French example, that is a compound verb tense. In the past tense, for verbs conjugated with être, the past participle must agree with the subject (masculine/feminine, singular/plural); this is not true for verbs conjugated with avoir. There are grammatical structures where the past participle can be used as an adjective, but that is not what is happening in the example (it translates as “I went”).

      2. gendered language*

        Past participles in French do not always act as adjectives. I do not speak Italian, but I can think of no examples in Spanish or Portuguese where saying ‘pronoun + verb’ shows up as a gendered verb. (In Portuguese “thank you” is gendered “obrigado/obrigada”, but putting things in past tense does not gender the verb. I am happy to be corrected – I haven’t spoken Portuguese for 20 years! I’ve forgotten almost all). Many languages have gendered nouns, I’m curious about languages where gender shows up in verbs.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, but obrigado/a is an adjective, like you could say “much obliged,” even if the English expression’s a bit archaic.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      In Russian all first names, most last names, and all middle names (which are patronymic) are gendered. The language in general is gendered, meaning all nouns have gender.
      Adjectives, nouns will change gender depending on the person’s gender.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        So in you example, “I Went” would be:
        Я пошла – ya poshla (if I a female)
        Я пошёл – ya poshel (if I a male)
        Мы пошли – my poshli (if I is plural)

        1. gendered language*

          Does the verb change depending on the gender? I can’t tell if ‘ya’ is the verb or noun.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            “Ya” is a first person pronoun, “I”.
            And yes, verbs do change. The suffix of the verb will tell you the gender of “I”.
            You can even have a one word sentence that will be gendered, like “started walked to a destination”. For a female person, this sentence will be “poshla”, and for male it will be “poshel”.

    3. Girasol*

      I was scolded by some Japanese women at work when I said hello to a Japanese friend. They said that I used man’s language. I asked him about it later and he said that there were ways that women in Japan talk differently. But when I asked him how a woman says hello, he thought about it a minute and said he didn’t know. I’ve always wondered about that.

      1. gendered language*

        My husband had the opposite happen. He studied Japanese, and the teacher (subversively?) only taught the female versions. So, when he spoke Japanese, he was told he spoke like a woman.

        1. Fushi*

          She likely just taught standard “polite” Japanese, which is the norm in educational contexts. Men tend to use a first person pronoun more specifically coded as masculine than the generic “watashi” and speak more informally overall outside of a business context, so it comes off as slightly effeminate in non-formal situations, but it’s not wrong for men to speak that way. You can certainly speak Japanese in an even more feminine way than that, but it involves a lot of adding semi-meaningless particles and performing femininity in your intonation, which I think would be a little hard to teach in class without anyone catching on lol.
          Personally I consider these perceived elements of “women’s” and “men’s” way of speaking constructs based on society’s opinion of how each gender is “allowed” to behave rather than an artifact of the language itself (eg grammatical gender), in part because the trends change over time, in part because you can find cases where the norms are challenged by people who don’t feel like conforming to their assigned role.
          Anyway, for a language with true grammatical gender, I can contribute German to the list!

          1. Sloanicota*

            I was going to say, as someone who does not know a lot about German, I thought this was the case – but hopefully someone truly proficient will weigh in!

          2. M. from P.*

            I think the question asked about the gendered forms of verbs? Which German doesn’t really have unless I misunderstand the question.

      2. Fushi*

        I would be curious to know what you said, because I struggle to think of many particularly gendered greetings. Unless you literally sounded like a gangster those ladies seem like aggressive busybodies lol. “Konnichi wa” is always fine regardless of gender and fits most contexts.

    4. Taking the long way round*

      Catalan past participles, like French, add an extra ‘e’ for female gender.

    5. allathian*

      Swedish is also gendered, although nouns are split into neuter and reale rather than masculine and feminine. There are masculine “han” and feminine “hon” pronouns, as well as the inanimate “den” (reale) and “det” (neuter). In the last decade or so, the gender-neutral pronoun “hen” has been gaining ground. Its usage is very similar to the English singular they, both as the preferred pronoun for those non-binary people who prefer it and as a way to refer to people when their gender is unknown or irrelevant.

      But verbs remain unchanged regardless of the gender of the speaker or the person they’re referring to.

    6. Miki*

      All Slavic languages as far as I know: Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Romanian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Slovenian.
      below is B/S/C example:
      It make me confused in English word friend means nothing to me.
      prijatelj (male friend) vs prijateljica (female friend) this is singular; plural would be : prijatelji (male friends) prijateljice (female friends)
      Same with cousin:
      rodjak (małe cousin) rodica (female cousin)S; P: rodjaci (male cousins) rodice (female cousins )
      What I am saying is one word in Slavic languages will reveal much more to me, English kind of demands asking for clarifying questions (which is annoying to me)

    7. amoeba*

      German – all nouns (like the Romanic languages), and also conjugated adjectives.
      It’s actually really interesting to see how different the use of gender-neutral nouns is in English compared to German – in German, we now really try to move away from the “generic masculinum” by including both forms as well as a special character to include all other genders. For instance, we’d write “Arbeiter:innen” or “Arbeiter*innen” to include both the male (Arbeiter), the female (Arbeiterinnen), and everybody else (the asterisk/colon). Women are really speaking up about not wanting to be “included” when somebody uses only the male form.

      And then you see English where most words are neutral but people are actually moving away from words like “actress” towards the originally male form for everybody. It’s not better or worse, just very different and quite hard sometimes to make the mental switch! (The first time I read “actor” for a female actor, I was actually enraged by the perceived sexism…)

  19. Nicosloanica*

    Trying to figure out if I have a problem … I am a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, which I accept about myself. I probably go out for a meal or drinks maybe two to three times a week with friends to catch up (keep in mind, I’m single and live alone so all socializing is done as an outing). I will text a friend or they will text me, and I generally stick with a few places we’ve gone before because I haaaate the endless texting back and forth for times/places/dates. “How about we go for brunch at our place Saturday” is a heck of a lot easier than planning elaborate “friend dates” where we, say, go to an art show and then a new restaurant or even just catch a movie (if I wanted to go see a certain movie, I’d probably go see it on my own schedule). Maybe once a year I plan a more elaborate thing and invite people, but mostly my “adventures” are visiting new parks with my dogs more than social activities. But I think my friend is getting annoyed with me for always suggesting the same couple options. I’m happy to try a new brunch place or restaurant if it’s convenient, but my real goal is just to catch up with her, so I don’t care where we go … but I do care about not spending all week planning the outing. I think we’re going to end up having a talk about this, and I’m sort of dreading it. She may say she needs me to put in more effort. Is it okay to say I don’t really want to?

    1. Pam Adams*

      Are you okay with going elsewhere if the friend suggests it? Maybe keep the time- let’s get brunch- but go with their suggestions on where to do it.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It’s hard to tell what’s going on without more info.

      Does she suggest different options? If so, do you shoot them down or go along with her idea?

      Or does she expect effort from you that she isn’t putting in herself?

      I think it’s fine for friends to have different default settings. If she’s the more adventuresome one, and you’re the more homey/familiar one, you can each enjoy the other’s way of doing things, as long as you both acknowledge this difference between you.

      But if you poo-pooh her ideas, and she is bored with yours, and you are each trying to make the other be more like yourself, that’s a problem.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s always ok not to want to do something, but it’s also ok for her to say she no longer wants to hang out with you. If you’re not interested in researching new options, then you can tell her that, and she can either decide she’ll do the research or she just won’t bother. Does she always make you name the place? I guess I’m a bit confused as to why she doesn’t suggest a different place if she’s frustrated. But as the person who often becomes the friendship cruise director, doing all of the suggesting and all of the research does get tiring and irritating after a while, so if that’s what’s happening, then it may be worth it to give a little here.

      For what it’s worth, if it’s just a matter of hanging out with friends, there’s always the “join me at this thing” invitation. As in, “I’m heading out to the park with the dogs and it’s really nice out, would you like to join us?” Or, “I’m going to see this movie at 12, want to come with me?” I’m getting ready to leave for one of those pretty soon– low-key and low pressure. The plans have already been made, I either join or I don’t.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        This exactly, I think – she feels like she’s always the cruise director in her relationships. She has the same complaint about her husband. But she’s pickier than I am and generally shoots down my suggestions, while it’s pretty rare I shoot down hers. I think she wants someone to put the same car into planning something she would love.

        1. Not Totally Subclinical*

          When you think about suggestions that you’ve made that she’s shot down, do you realize in retrospect that yeah, this isn’t something that she usually likes, or did you have no clue until she said “nope” that she wouldn’t want to do that thing? Or is her reaction more “no, I’m not in the mood for Thai this week” rather than “no, I don’t like Thai food”?

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, she’s being unrealistic. In functional friendships where the expectation is for people to do about the same amount of metawork like planning, it’s the pickiest person who has to do most of the planning and the person who’s always willing to go along with everyone else’s plans who gets away with not making an effort to plan things. The hardest person to please is the one who wants their friends to plan “special things” for them but ends up rejecting nearly all the plans. It sounds like your friend is a bit like that.

          In your shoes, I’d tell her straight that she ends up being the cruise director because she’s so picky that you don’t want to waste the effort of planning something only for her to shoot it down. I rarely make the effort to plan things (event planning would be a nightmare job for me and we had an intimate family wedding for a *reason*), but then I’m pretty much always willing to do whatever my friends want to do. Except picnics, I can’t sit on the ground so I just don’t go.

          1. allathian*

            And another thing, is she happy to just hang out with you and chat, where the location matters less as long as it isn’t too noisy to actually talk, or would she like to do an actual activity with you that you’d also need to plan, like going to the zoo or a museum, or catch a movie?

            If she wants activities and you want to hang out in a more relaxed way, it may well be that you’ll see less of each other in future.

        3. Quinalla*

          This is so tough, my husband is the picky one in our partnership and so he has literally said to me he wants someone to suggest something he can just say yes to, lol. That is near impossible and he knows it and admits it. So if that is what she wants, that just isn’t realistic and she needs to meet you partway!

      1. Nicosloanica*

        I think we both have decision fatigue by the weekend but are dealing with it in different ways. She doesn’t want to plan but isn’t happy with the same options. She’d probably suggest we alternate planning New, Fun things.

        1. WellRed*

          I hear ya. I prefer food and drinks preferably without complicated travel or parking. Lately the group wants to do Fun Things! Bowling place or Barbie movie or drinks here and theme drive to other restaurant for food.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Why is this a you-problem and not a her-problem? I also don’t like the endless back and forth. My solution is to agree on a mutually-acceptable time, then I suggest essentially a Plan B, and offer for them to pick a Plan A if they prefer.

      “Let’s meet for brunch on Sunday at our usual time. I’ll plan to be at Corner Diner at 11 am unless you prefer something different. In that case, let me know and I’ll meet you wherever you like!”

      The key here is that if you want to avoid the endless negotiations, you have to be willing to accept their first suggestion unless it’s really unworkable. “Great, let’s try this new place that is mildly inconvenient” gets a yes from me. “Let’s try this new place in Kuala Lumpur” gets some pushback.

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

      Yes, I think it is 100% fine if you tell the one friend who has an issue that you really enjoy hanging out and talking with her, but you don’t really care where that happens and you’re not much of a planner yourself, so if she wants to go to a bunch of new places, can she please just plan that, and you’ll show up where/when she says? You have done nothing wrong — you don’t owe your friend some kind of perfect Instagrammable experience.

      And it doesn’t sounds like you are a stick in the mud at all — you are out and about several times a week keeping up with your friends and doing things that you enjoy!

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I go to the same place every week for breakfast with a friend (same friend). I eat the same thing every time. I love the sameness and the sense of home and comfort. My friend loves the sense of home at the restaurant and she orders different food each time (OK, almost every time). When my husband and I go out for dinner I get bored of the same three places. So there’s no right/perfect answer even for one person! You and this friend have different needs or wants right now. That doesn’t mean you are somehow personally lacking.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      This sounds so easy to resolve with some communication (and, yes, possibly a teensie bit more effort). What if, next time you see her, you say, “Hey, I wanted to ask you about something. I usually suggest we come here to eat, and I do that because I enjoy the simplicity of planning, but I’m actually very open to other restaurants or even other types of outings—I just really enjoy it when the planning process is simple. How are you feeling about the cadence and venue, and are there other places you’d like to check out together?” See what she says, then come up with an approach together that will continue to be simple to plan but will address whatever is causing friction. Maybe you can come up with some ideas on the spot to keep in your back pockets, or maybe she’d like to try out new restaurants and alternate deciding/proposing which to go to, or that she’d like to pick from one of two options, or maybe you’ll hear she’d love to check out new parks with you and your dogs. This may mean that you spend an hour every few months coming up with ideas on your own, then pulling from the list when you want to propose something.

      Keep in mind that the conversation may go a direction you’re not anticipating, like maybe the cadence of your outings isn’t working for her, or she’d rather plan a little further in advance, or she’d like to eat out less to spend less money, or she feels pressured to say yes to whatever you propose regardless of the specific proposal. Just go into it with the mindset that, because you’re friends, you both want to figure out what’s best for each of you, and that that may mean a bit of a compromise to the extent the friendship is worthwhile to you. It definitely means communicating with goodwill and openness rather than assuming each other’s feelings and desires.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Just saw your other replies. Sounds like you understand her pretty well, so I have faith you can come up with an approach that works for both of you, if you just talk about it!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      When you say “I don’t care where we go,” does that mean you’re up for anything she suggests? Or are you doing that thing where you’re up for anything in a general sense, but not for any specific thing for Excellent Reasons? (When my spouse was particularly bad about this I would make three concrete suggestions, then stop. And I would point that out when he wanted to talk about it more.)

      It seems like if she’s willing to meet you at not spending a week saying “We could do A, but also B, but maybe C is better?” and you’re willing to meet her at saying “Sure, I’d be happy to go see Barbie at 5 pm Saturday, then go to the new tapas place and talk about it” then you can work this out.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And here I was feeling quite the social butterfly for going out three times in one month!

        I think it comes down to: how willing are you to make and take suggestions? If the main goal is to catch up I can understand not spending hours coordinating and to that end “that spot we always go to” can be convenient. But if your friend wants to shake things up I would agree to any suggestions that aren’t too onerous or time-consuming.

        If her thing is she wants YOU to make a new suggestion, spend a set amount of time, like half an hour, perusing the local places and picking one to try (for both of these things, the person not doing the suggesting needs to be open to driving a little further or such; nothing’s more annoying than the “you pick/no, not THAT” to every single suggestion type.)

        1. Nicosloanica*

          I’m open to taking almost any suggestion (except places that are really far or hard to get to) but not very willing to make a lot of suggestions. I don’t really want to research new places and then feel bad if they’re not good. Also, she does shoot down a fair number of my suggestions. At best I would need to suggest three fun! new! places! and let her pick one. That seems like a lot of work when what I really want to do is just talk to her.

          1. amoeba*

            To be honest, when I chose new restaurants, I generally just open google maps, search for “restaurants in the area” and click on a few that have more than 4.5 stars or so. Then send some that appeal to me to the person I want to meet with “Had a look and these 3 look interesting?”
            Would a similar low-key approach maybe work? Or do you actually need to do a ton of research and prep for the suggestions she’d like?

    8. Annie Edison*

      Is it that you don’t want to do any effort to find new places, or just that you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it? Most of the comments are interpreting it as the former, but on the off chance it’s more of the latter…
      I’m like you in that I hate inefficient and time consuming planning, but also a bit like your friend in that I enjoy exploring new places sometimes and breaking out of my usual routine. I wanted to put in a plug for the website “eater” in case you don’t know about it- it’s been my best friend for finding good food and drink spots quickly when I’m in a new city or want to explore. You can google “eater [name of city] brunch” and look at their listings for new places to try. I’ve used their recommendations in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Portland and have never been disappointed. For me it takes a lot of the planning stress out because all I have to do is scroll through their list for about 5 min, pick a spot that looks interesting, and go.
      You could combine that with another commenter’s suggestion that you and your friend trade off picking a new spot and try some new spots without too much work

      1. Nicosloanica*

        It’s possible something like this would be all I need to please both of us – thanks!

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      And here I was feeling quite the social butterfly for going out three times in one month!

      I think it comes down to: how willing are you to make and take suggestions? If the main goal is to catch up I can understand not spending hours coordinating and to that end “that spot we always go to” can be convenient. But if your friend wants to shake things up I would agree to any suggestions that aren’t too onerous or time-consuming.

      If her thing is she wants YOU to make a new suggestion, spend a set amount of time, like half an hour, perusing the local places and picking one to try (for both of these things, the person not doing the suggesting needs to be open to driving a little further or such; nothing’s more annoying than the “you pick/no, not THAT” to every single suggestion type.)

    10. WorkingRachel*

      It’s okay to say you don’t really want to. I’m realizing that at this point in my life, I’m the same way. I don’t mind going along with the elaborate plans of others, but frankly I’d be happy if 80% of my socializing was at my house or my friend’s houses, just having dinner together or watching TV or whatever. My “adventurous” stuff is mostly undertaken in order to meet new people, so I don’t necessarily want to do it with my existing friends.

      Now, your friend might not *like* that. If she wants to do more elaborate things, she may not want to be the only one planning them, because it is indeed actual work. That doesn’t mean you have to take on planning when you really don’t value it, but it might mean your “friendship needs” are a little incompatible and the two of you either need to figure out the happy medium that works for you or hang out a little less so each of you can get what you need from other relationships.

      I am pretty sure I have one friend who sees our friendship as mostly “we do cool things together,” while what I value about our friendship is more “I love it when you invite me over to eat leftovers.” And I’m less interested in doing cool things lately. She’s been doing almost all of the planning in the last year or so and I feel like we’re also going to have to talk about it eventually. Good luck in talking to your friend!

    11. Cacofonix*

      I haven’t seen this solution offered yet which for me is very obvious. Before you invite someone figure out what you’re inviting someone to do, add date, place time and maybe one alternative in advance. This is how my friends and I do it. Whoever asks is the one who As in, “hey I’m interested in going out Friday around 6. You in? I was thinking X pub or Y restaurant.” You might get an adjustment, but then it’s done. Saves a ton of back and forth. Works with groups too. Two of you finalize the where and when, then say let’s invite Filiba and Grake… and either they join or they don’t.

      Nothing I hate more than a text from one friend who doesn’t do this. “Are you free Friday? Want to get together?” I never let her get away with it because all of a sudden, I’m the one figuring out just to avoid endless waffling so I’ll reply, “I am open in general depending on what you have in mind, but let me know what that is, the where and when (after 6 pm please), then get back to me.”

  20. Potatohead*

    So after a year of living in my new home, I’m delighted to finally be in a position to give some cats a forever home! I’m happy to have been adopted by a pair of brothers, about 1yr old. Both are technically ‘special needs’ due to being partially blind in the right eye, but you’d never know by how they cannonball around the apartment, up and down shelves or furniture.

    1. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

      That sounds really great! All the best for you and the cats, have a great time together!

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Congratulations! My experience with special needs pets (which has been most of my life, I’ve got some kind of magnet) is that if you don’t tell them, a lot of the time they don’t know they’re any different. I had 2 cats and one was deaf. The deaf cat “listened” better than her sister who could hear perfectly.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep, our one-eyed cat is the fearless one who’s constantly hurling herself everywhere. (I joke they took her brains out along with her eyeball.)

    3. 1LFTW*

      Aw, congratulations! I can confirm HotdogNotDog’s statement that they’ll never notice if you don’t tell them. I’ve even cared for blind cats who’d undergone enucleation surgery due to damage from eye infections when they were kittens. The owners neighbors would say “oh, you’re the one with the cats, I’ve seen them watching me from the window”, and she would blow their minds when she explained that they literally had no eyes. They ran, jumped, climbed, and chased like any other cats.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Apparently cats’ hearing and whiskers can paint a 3-D map for just about any space–even completely blind cats can successfully negotiate a familiar space with astounding accuracy.

  21. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

    Plants and gardening thread :-) to discuss about plants/garden/etc.

    Does anyone know whether bell peppers and hot peppers are able to grow multiple years? I got some, and wonder whether it’s worth trying them.
    Also, do you have suggestions for pot plants to put in front of a window?

    1. Rara Avis*

      We had bell peppers that came back for a second year, but we live somewhere where it doesn’t freeze often in the winter.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

        Thank you! Mine are in a pot so I can take them indoors during the winter, that’s a good idea.

    2. Not my usual name*

      I keep chillies going from year to year in England – they have three or four months outside in summer, then inside on a south facing windowsill for the rest of the year. Theoretically this should be a dormant period, but it’s just a less productive one in reality.

      As chili plants are quite attractive, they count as my houseplants!

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

        That sounds good. Thank you for the advice, I’ll try getting them through the winter then!

        1. Cardboard Marmalade*

          I do this with my chili pepper plant, too! So far it seems that a strong south window or a grow light, and reduced watering is the trick. It still struggles a bit, and this past winter lost a bunch of leaves when it got a little too dry, but perked right back up once I put them out after the last frost and I’m about to harvest a bumper crop and make a ton of salsa verde.

      2. little yellow duck*

        Where I live, they sell plants with multi-coloured chilis on them for autumn indoor plants. They add a nice splash of colour with the deep green leaves and red/orange chilis.

      3. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        Potted plant for windows! What size are you looking for?

        Easy plants include coral cactus, spider plant, wandering dude, snake plant, and succulents. These are small to medium sized plants that don’t attract too many pests in my experience.

        Large plants include swiss cheese plants (I have The Monstera and Son of Monstera), fiddle-leaf fig, diffenbachia/dumb cane, and some species of cactus.

        I also have had good luck with outdoor plants, like sun coleus, cannas, and rex begonias.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Wandering dude is practically indestructible* (and comes in purple, as do several other species of tradescantia – I have three, the dude, Purple Heart, and … bunny ears, I think is the third?) but looks a little ominous when its vines grow long – the parts closer in look like they’re dying off, because the plant is putting its energy into spreading out. Easy solution: Cut the healthy ends off and stick the cut end back into the dirt, either in the original pot or a new one, then cut off the dead looking parts. Both the base and the newly-cut ends will keep growing just fine :) (Also a good way to share cuttings when someone comes over and goes “OH MY GOD THAT PLANT IS PURPLE THAT IS SO COOL!!!!”)

          *My mom had one many moons ago that she set in a back storage room and forgot about for six months. When she finally had occasion to go into the storage room, she saw that not only was it still growing, but it had grown down to the floor and whole-ass rooted into the carpet, they had to take the carpet out as a result. Indestructible.

          1. Snell*

            I saw a few of those at a plant show maybe 1.5 mos ago. You might be thinking, “Why would something so cheap (and as you say, indestructible) be on display at a show?” but not only were they purple (and pale green-stripey!), but they had oodles of flowers spilling over. The whole plants were absolutely pristine. My mother had seen them from a distance and commented that she used to have them, but didn’t like them and tossed them out. The color of the show plants got her to look twice, and the flowers changed her whole opinion. Hers never flowered under her care. Pros do it differently.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Oh neat! My dudes have never flowered, but the Purple Hearts do sometimes. I think the last three years they’ve flowered on Christmas morning :)

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      We have a jalapeño in a pot that we’ve moved indoors for the winter and back out in the summer. It’s about 4 years old and going strong.

    4. Snell*

      Zone 9 here; we don’t have hard freezes, and my hot pepper (capsicum, same as bell peppers) “shrubs” come back the next year and do fruit then, too. I think if you live with mild enough winters, it’s at least worth the experiment if you want to do that. I will say that attentive cultivation/pruning of my pepper plants really improved their health and performance from year to year, so I highly recommend paying attention to that for your best chance of success.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

        Thank you! I’m nowhere near good enough with plants to know what to prune, but it looks like it’s consensus that the plants will possibly be able to grow for longer. That’s good, the peppers are good and they also look nice!

    5. One of the Sarahs*

      I’ve never tried to overwinter peppers, but am going to this year! I live in USDA zone 4, which has very cold winters, so the process for me will include pruning them back and transferring them to a pot I can keep in my basement over the winter.
      There’s lots of tutorials on YouTube, that’s where I get most of my information: also if there’s a Master Gardener group near you they often have learning resources and sometimes a help line. It’s definitely worth getting information specific to your climate.

    6. LemonLyman*

      Yes! It’s called “over wintering” and there are a ton of wonderful YouTube videos on how to do it. It’s a fairly simple process, just keep in mind that it’s not a guarantee. But it’s worth a try.

      I see that yours are in pots so they’ll be rather easy to overwinter. Just search for “over wintering pepper plants” and watch a couple videos.

  22. Cendol*

    Writing thread! How is it going?

    I’m working on a novel and have reached the “pulling my hair out” stage early. (Also, thank you, WishIWasATimeTraveller, for your advice on the previous weekend thread. “The first draft is you telling the story to yourself” has become a very helpful mantra.)

    1. RagingADHD*

      Thank you for posting this as a reminder. I have been meaning to upload my book file to Google Drive so I can access it at work. My higher-maintenance boss is on PTO for 2 weeks, I’m caught up on everything, and I’m bored senseless.

      1. Cendol*

        I love the August lull. Had one of my more productive writing weeks last week when everyone left for vacation. It was really nice to have some brainpower left over after I clocked out.

    2. Tiny clay insects*

      I did my first round of content edits for my editor and just got her feedback on them, with additional changes she wants me to make. I am trying not to feel overwhelmed. But omg I am so impatient for the book to be DONE FOR REAL. (It is being published a year from now.)

    3. Bibliovore*

      My memoir manuscript is finished after umpteenth revisions. My critical friends have weighed in that is should be published.
      And now working on query for an agent.
      Have had two “no’s” so far.
      Have identified a few agents that rep this sort of thing. Meeting with “my team” of publishing professionals who hare helping on Monday.
      Handle- a cross between Jenny Lawson and Joan Didion- a darkly humorous love story.

    4. Forensic13*

      Stuck on my second book in a theoretical trilogy, in part because I realized it’s organized all wrong. I printed out everything I have and sorted it and was annoyed to realize how much was wheel-spinning. I was sure I had more plot written. Annoying, but good to know.

      It’s a book written mostly in text messages and emails, so it gets built sort of like one of those “conspiracy board with strings” where everything doesn’t come together until the end.

      1. Cendol*

        Ooh, I love these sorts of found fiction stories! They are definitely challenging to plot and organize.

  23. Feral Dilemma*

    I need to find some kind of online community for feral colony caretakers. Anyone know of one that isn’t on Facebook, Twitter/X, or Instagram? I could stand Reddit if I had to.

    I have a mostly positive but complicated situation going on with my backyard ferals, and I could use some advice from people with more experience with this than me.

    1. Random Bystander*

      There’s a separate subforum on the forums for the catsite — thecatsite (dot) com I’m on that site, initially for things related to my indoor cats, but I got invaluable advice when I started my tiny TNR project (ultimately adopted the two surviving kittens from the year of the kittenpocalypse as well==plus the new baby).

    2. 1LFTW*

      There’s a group for colony caretakers on my local NextDoor. People seem to use it to alert caretakers when there’s an animal in need of help, or to share advice, or local resources.

      Best of luck with your positive-but-complicated situation, and thank you for stepping up to take care of these kitties.

  24. slowingaging*

    Story, followed by question.
    I am caregiver to my Mom and she always wants something to do. She has been going outside and ripping the flowers and leaves off the plants. I started buying a flowering shrub with about 50 buds and setting it by the backdoor. My cousin… the genius suggested put fake flowers in the the bush. I put about 50 flowers in there morning and every day she goes and gets them and puts them in her room. Every night I get them and replant them on the bush.
    Honestly Alison, while I like your reasonable responses, but my favorite part of this blog is comment section. People discussing, disagreeing and Alison keeping everyone from being rude. And lots of practical suggestions.
    Any suggestions for a group like this?

    1. ShinyPenny*

      So it sounds like you are looking for more activities for your mom?
      I helped care for a friend’s mom. She had been a business owner for years, so we did activities with office supplies!
      I set up various bundles of cheap office supplies, mixed them up, and she was pretty happy to sort them. So, one day we’d sort a bunch of index cards (they sell packs of 5 different neon colors, which I shuffled up with packs of plain white ones). Another day I’d give her a ziplock bag full of pens and pencils, and she’d sort into live/dead, or by color. I’d explain that we were helping her daughter by organizing her office supplies.
      She experienced these tasks as USEFUL WORK, and it took some real concentration, but she was a lady who had always worked. She was proud and happy when we were done, and ready for a rest, so it was a great solution for us.
      She also was able to sort playing cards into sets, “to check if the decks were complete.” Sometimes one deck, sometimes 2 or 3 decks shuffled together, depending on her energy level. Again, she felt that this was useful work— and she really wanted to be useful.
      Once she was set up and oriented with these projects, she could do them fairly independently, which was great because she was used to being The Boss :)

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I’ve heard that folding socks or being asked to rock a baby (plastic babydoll) are good. So you could probably come up with ideas on a similar vein depending on what your mom did when she was younger.

        Also, Teepa Snow has a WONDERFUL series of videos on youtube that I highly recommend. I didn’t find her till after my grandma had already passed, (and my grandma didn’t even have full dementia, just some cognitive issues) and I spent a lot of the videos going “Oh, I understand now,” and “man, this would have been so helpful”. I particularly recommend the video on how to help someone into and out of the car step-by-step, and the videos on understanding dementia.

        It would have been way easier dealing with my grandma’s impatience if I’d known that is delayed gratification actually often one of the first things to go. She wasn’t being rude, she was loosing the capacity to wait patiently for someone to go get the mail. Which is sadder, but way less frustrating.

    2. ShinyPenny*

      Also, the best book I ever found on this subject is ‘Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey’ by Jolene Brackey. It is truly the best!
      Lots of clarity about how to interact with someone with cognitive challenges, to achieve the goal of daily joy and connection. And lots of ideas about how to customize activities that reflect an individual’s interests.
      You clearly have devised a perfect hobby for your Mom— that’s such a great win! Good luck finding some more!

    3. Girasol*

      Our library has “memory boxes” on loan. Each has a theme, like common gardening tools or kitchen implements. They’re for folks who need memory care to sort through and see what memories are sparked.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Depending on a person’s manual dexterity, sorting buttons into matching colours and maybe threading them on to pipe cleaners or putting them into different containers like paper cups can be engaging. Good for three year olds to 103 year olds or anyone who enjoys sorting stuff. I always asked my mum to sort out my button tin when she visited (she liked to be busy but had become very forgetful) and this spurred a lot of low key conversation and triggered memories about particular items of clothing or colours etc. we would empty the button tin on to a tea towel on the table which made it easy to pour the leftovers back into the tin.
      A friend’s father spent at lot of time matching up nuts and bolts and sorting them into sizes.
      I wonder if your mum would enjoy the task of putting (different) flowers on to a piece of trellis or something like that?

    5. Anonymous cat*

      I’ve heard of people giving elderly parents a low-stakes task that actually needs doing, like sorting something in the household, and that going well. It’s needed, so they feel useful, and it doesn’t matter if they make mistakes.

      Also, my grandma used to reorganize the family photo albums in various themes.

  25. Embarrased*

    In light of mortification week, is there a name for when you remember something embarrassing you did years ago and still feel acutely, nearly unbearably embarrassed?

    1. Double A*

      This is vaguely work related because I was on my way to work, but I was late for my bus one morning and carrying a full cup of coffee in a travel mug. I was running towards the bus and I tripped and dumped the whole cup all over some poor woman. Like, fully chucked the whole mug onto her. I was so apologetic and tried to think of what I could do to make it right but like, what can you do?

      Ugh, I still think about that fairly frequently and it happened at least 15 years ago. I wonder if she remembers the lady who dumped coffee all over her on her morning commute and figure she probably does. If you’re out there, bus lady: I’m still sorry!!

      1. Double A*

        Oh I read too quickly and thought you were looking for stories haha. Embarrassed myself on the mortification thread.

    2. LGP*

      I’m not sure if there’s a name for it, but there is a song for it! “The Cringe” from the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I’ll try to post a link to it in a separate comment.

      1. Mimmy*

        I have anxiety too and sometimes experience this but agree that it probably can happen even without having anxiety.

    3. PhyllisB*

      There is a book related to this very topic that I read a couple of years ago (in fact, I think Alison recommended it one week.) But…I can’t remember the name. If anyone reading this remembers please chime in. I’ll go see if I can find the title and report back.

  26. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

    We have gone down the “looking for a new mattress” rabbit hole, and we could could use some advice. We are shopping for a teen who has a super firm Ikea mattress. The super firm is no longer comfortable for them, and they have sensory sensitivities, so it’s gotta go asap. I’ve spent a ton of time looking at Consumer Reports info, the Better Business Bureau site, online articles with recommendations (only to hear that they are paid for and not sincere?). I’ve gone through the reddit mattress posts, which was enlightening, but I am also suspicious about some things shared there. I am about to check out Mattress Underground. We want to try and get this right on the first go if we can. It sounds like lots of people try mattresses in the store only to discover that the one that arrives feels completely different than the one 1000 random people have bounced and flopped around on, so that’s not a great solution, especially for a sensory kiddo. Teen is looking for something with a pillow top feel that’s medium firm with zero memory foam. They are around 130 pounds, they want a twin size, and eco-friendly would be awesome. Specifically, I am wondering if anyone has a latex mattress that they love (latex seems to be a love it or hate it thing), a pillow top/euro top they’ve had for a long time that hasn’t sagged, and if there are brands anyone would recommend based on your real live experience for easy returns, good customer service, quality materials that last, eco-conscious, and having as little weird smell as possible in the short and long term. Leaning toward Avocado Eco, but the BBB reviews and Reddit comments have me concerned that might be a bad idea. Any and all input appreciated! Thank you!

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

      Maybe also take teen to the mattress store and have them lie down on whatever you’re considering to see whether they like it?

      1. RagingADHD*

        They mentioned in the original post a concern that mattresses in the store do not feel the same as new ones, due to wear and tear. So the one the kid liked in the store, they may not actually like when brand new.

          1. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

            :) No worries. Thanks for the suggestion! Teen is totally grossed out by the thought of testing beds a million other people have been laying on, so that’s a bit of a last resort for us for that and a few other reasons at the moment . . . :)

        1. Observer*

          For the most part they actually do – it’s not to the store’s benefit to allow this to happen to often.

          But there are two things that you can do to reduce the possibility of this happening. One is to actually see if you can buy the floor model. There are stores – often the “outlet” store of a bigger store (so they have one or two pieces so, they will let you try it and decide if you want to take it.) The other thing, which is more likely in a smaller place, is to talk to the manager and find out how long the floor model has been in place.

          The reason I say this is that it doesn’t really matter what the reviews say. Take memory foam. Some people swear by it. The reviews tend to be really, really positive. But that doesn’t help the OP because they know that their kid is not going to do well with it. This holds true of almost any mattress, unless they hear from someone who has very similar needs to the kid who is going to use this mattress.

      2. Observer*

        Maybe also take teen to the mattress store and have them lie down on whatever you’re considering to see whether they like it?

        Yes! If this is humanly possible, do that. Even if it costs more, it is well worth your time and effort.

        Lots of luck. This is a surprisingly difficult thing to deal with.

        1. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

          Thanks so much! I appreciate the input. Perfectly put – it is surprisingly difficult!

    2. MP*

      We have the avocado kids for my daughter and we’re pleased with it! It is quite firm but she’s little so that was our intention. We have a memory foam mattress topper for our bed that I LOVE so a mattress topper might be an option? Either on their current mattress or a new one? Doesn’t have to be memory foam of course if they don’t like that.

      1. i'm not the droid you're looking for**

        Thank you so much for sharing! I have seen people comment outside of the Avocado website that they can be quite firm. It sounds like customers who are struggling with some mattress brands can contact the company and get a ½ price topper. We were originally thinking we would order one with the bed, but now I think we will choose the bed and have it delivered and then contact them if it is too firm to see if we can get a topper discount.

        1. MP*

          Ooh that’s a great idea and great tip! Noted because I will need a new mattress in the foreseeable future. I hope it all works out!

          1. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

            Thank you! You too! It’s been so interesting exploring the topic. I discovered a site called The Mattress Underground that has a discussion forum and what seem to be some credible tutorials about foam, comfort layers, wool types (some smell quite sheep-y it seems, others not as much), spring types, etc. It has been tremendously helpful as we narrow down brands/specific mattresses. They also have discount codes as well. So far we’re at hybrid, latex (dunlop and talaylay layers, joma or eco wool, pocket coils, preferably zipper tops so we can rearrange the latex layers. Fascinating!

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Just ordered the Leesa Hybrid after looking carefully at Wirecutter and CR. Don’t have it yet so can’t review it. I liked the Wirecutter approach of “if you sleep like this, you might like this mattress” because it’s not one-size-fits-all. They also had specific info on mattresses for larger people, which was really helpful for us.

      One of the reasons we ordered the Leesa was that they have a 100-night “trial period” and they donate mattresses that are returned rather than sending them to the landfill.

      1. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

        I’ve seen some excellent reviews for the Leesa Hybrid. I really appreciated the Wirecutter and Strategist reviews. Real world sleep testing reviews are the best. A long trial period is a big selling point for us too. I hope it winds up being an excellent choice for you!

      1. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

        Wow! Thanks! I really appreciate the recommendation. I haven’t seen your note up there yet. Sleep On Latex seems highly regarded based on everything I’ve seen so far. So grateful for the link! They really want a hybrid model, and finding a good topper is my plan B if it turns out what we land on is too firm.

      2. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

        I replied earlier but the comment didn’t show up. Thank you so much for the link! Sleep on Latex comes up a lot, and people seem to think really highly of them. So good to hear that you love it!

    4. cat in cardboard box*

      Needed to get a new mattress last year. Also concerned about smell/chemicals. Settled on Avocado (our research included getting the latest Consumer Reports reviews from our library). Ordered just the mattress to start out, it felt so hard out of the box, so then ordered the topper to add on, and it’s been pretty good since. It did smell a bit for a little while, but not sure if that was the mattress or the pillows, honestly. You can get toppers so relatively cheap on amazon etc. that I would think of it as getting a good mattress and then you could change the feel quite a bit with toppers – I don’t remember what firmness the avocado mattress was, or if they even had options, but I think we erred on the side of firmer as it’s easier to add softness than firmness with toppers/bedding.
      (I’ve heard that even mattress underground and every other review site is corrupted with paid reviews… shrug emoji)

      1. i'm not the droid you're looking for*

        oh, no. why can’t we have nice un-corrupt things?? thanks for the heads up! and for the honest review. i greatly appreciate it! i think we’re definitely going to go that route then too. order bed, assess, contact company and get topper to adjust. what topper thickness did you choose?

  27. tryingToWorkOut*

    Suggestions for exercise that’s at least kind of fun? I know I need to exercise more, but I get bored. Thanks!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      If you do podcasts or audiobooks, have one that you can only do when exercising.

      Walk around a new place for you–the walkable downtown areas of small towns can be really great for this, admiring the architecture and gardens.

    2. Double A*

      This is so personal. I mean I find rock climbing to be an absolute blast and I would do it every day for hours if I could but the logistics prevent it. Can you be more specific about some of your parameters? Time and cost factors, fitness level, etc?

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I have a recumbent stationary bike that I will ride while watching TV, reading a book, playing a video game, etc.

    4. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

      Try to find a sport you enjoy. There’s no use trying to force yourself to exercise with a sport you don’t like, it won’t work. If you hate hiking, walking around to explore the area might not be your form of exercise, and if you don’t like water I wouldn’t suggest going swimming.
      What helps me is if I have a goal I’m working towards, for example “I’d like to be able to run for d minutes longer than I can now, at the end of the summer” or “I’d like to be able to find x, y, and z without needing a map when my friend comes to visit in a few weeks”, or whatever seems reasonable for you. Something that’s reachable for you, but that also requires some participation. Personally, I’m swimming and I’m trying to pass the entry test for lifeguard training this year (which is something I’d find interesting and I want to learn).
      Also, it helps for motivation if you find someone to do sports with. Either officially join a team, or find a friend who you can do things with.

      (Obviously, I’m assuming those things are possible. I’m aware you might not have a broad choice of sports or people to do something with.)

    5. ThatGirl*

      Do you like to dance? Zumba or even dance classes might be fun. If you want fresh air, a park to walk or jog through. Bicycling? New sport? Yoga? There are so many ways to exercise.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Seconding this. Dance is my go-to when I’m feeling unmotivated. Just putting on some music in my living room will get me moving. There are also a gazillion YouTube channels where you can dance along with either a teacher or a group of whatever (I’m a total TML Crew fangirl).

        In-person Zumba (or similar) classes at the rec center or gym are super fun too and are usually quite welcoming to people with different skills levels

      2. Moira*

        Third-ing dance. There are many forms- folk dance, contra dance, and similar. Mildly aerobic and fun. At most dances like this in the US you don’t need a partner because the custom is to dance with different partners throughout the evening.

    6. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Adding my voice to ‘find something you enjoy’. If you think about different kinds of exercise you tried, what did you like? What didn’t you like? What factors helped you do it regularly, and what lowered your motivation or even led to you stopping?

      For me, I do Ballet. It fulfils my criteria of:
      – No team sports, and no competition. The only one I am competing against is myself.
      – both mentally AND physically challenging; I get bored out of my mind with eg running etc but dancing needs my complete focus.
      – Outside pressure because it is very expensive and I feel bad missing classes.
      – and last but definitely not least – when I finally get that combination down which I have been struggling with for weeks and dance it from beginning to end without mistakes I swear it is the closest to flying I will ever get.

    7. I take tea*

      I feel you. I have back problems and should go to the gym regularly, but it’s so boring I could cry. I have tried listning to things, but I find it hard to focus on listning and at the same time keep score of the repetitions and that I’m doing it right. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is company.

      The one exercise I like is dancing. I do it as a group activity (I do folk dancing), and the social aspect helps me a lot. I also like moving in time to the music and getting the steps and figures correct is hard enough that I don’t get bored. And it’s so fun that I keep on dancing even if I’m all sweaty and out of breath. I just don’t care. It’s the only thing that gives me those mythical endorfines.

      If you’d like to try, there’s probably a group somewhere that would love to have you. You don’t need to have a dance partner, a good group switch people around all the time.

    8. little yellow duck*

      Fun 100% depends on you. What will make you do the exercise is having to do it with another person or group. So: if you’re the 4th person in a 4-person rowing boat, you’ll be there. (learn-to-row programs here are for adults, and don’t transition into competitive rowing). If you jog with the same group of people every week, you’ll make friends, and even if you hate running, it’ll feel more like “out of breath chatting with friends”. Cycling club with rides? same thing. Same for meeting friends for a 2-hour walk every week. If your tennis/squash/raquetball partner can’t play because you don’t show up? That’ll encourage you to go. So, I’d say look for sports where you will disappoint other people if you don’t show up.

    9. Annie Edison*

      I am currently on a taekwondo kick after getting a deal for the first month of classes at a local studio. Prior to this, I spent about a year at a boutique gym where classes were sort of a mix of kickboxing, HIIT, and crossfit-esque lifting, and before that I spent several years doing yoga with one specific instructor that I loved (and would still be working with if not for a cross-country move).
      I think “fun” is very personal, but the common denominator with all of those is that I loved the instructor and the people in the class, and that kept me coming back. If you can find something that has a social component, it really helps with the motivation and commitment aspects

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

      There are some Richard Simmons videos on YouTube that are pretty fun. It feels like you’re dancing with a bunch of cheery friends.

    11. crookedglasses*

      I’m a big fan of aerial dance and rock climbing. I’ve also done pole dance and was going to the obstacle course gym for awhile.

      All of those have been fun and satisfying to keep my attention on their own. But I do find that I go more frequently, and often train harder, if I make plans to meet a friend there. (Either a friend who I already know, or somebody who I met by way of our shared interest.)

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

      If you don’t want to commit to a group thing on a regular basis, you can suggest an activity that requires gentle movement as a friend date — maybe ask your bestie if they’d like to go play a round of mini-golf?

    13. The Dude Abides*

      As someone who bores easily from doing the same thing, when I’m at the gym I do “loops” of 2-3 exercises.

      As an example of a loop
      – 10 Cuban presses
      – 10 bear crawls (I use an exercise ball or ab roller)
      – 10 dumbbell squats
      – minute rest
      Repeat 2-3 times

      After that, I’d pick different exercises that hit different muscle groups, and do those 2-3 times.

      It does require some planning, but it’s made a difference for me.

    14. RMNPgirl*

      EMKfit (Emily Thorne) is amazing! I love her so much. She has tons of free YouTube content from strength workouts and stretching to her main focus of fun HIIT dance workouts. She’s very energizing and engaging. I actually support her on Patreon because she does challenges 4 times a year for her supporters and she has created a really positive fun fitness community. Her 2 main rules are “fake it til you make it” and “wrong and strong.” She’s done videos calling out the toxic parts of fitness influencers, she just launched merchandise with ‘BMI is bullsh*t’ on it. I cannot praise her and her workouts enough!

    15. Pearl Grey*

      Have you tried hula hooping? I have recently added that into my exercise mix, hooping for 15 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. It’s fun and you can do it by yourself at home while watching TV or listening to music. I also enjoy ballet, yoga, strength classes, and water aerobics. I like to do different activities so I don’t get tired of doing any one thing all the time.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Ooh I totally want to try this now! It seems like it would work some different muscles than the other stuff I do. And I need more core strength. Thanks!

        1. Pearl Grey*

          Get a weighted hoop that’s not too small. I’d advise trying it out (or at least have someone demonstrate for you) before you buy. Have fun!

    16. cat in cardboard box*

      you’ve got lots of great suggestions here already… all I will add is, don’t be afraid to try new things, or even old things… I hated my mandatory swimming classes in junior high and high school, but now I’m so grateful for them because swimming is basically the one exercise thing that I can be motivated to do! (aside from softball, but my body just can’t handle running bases anymore :(

    17. Data Slicentist*

      I’m adding stretching and strength exercises into moments where I’m waiting for something. Counter pushups while the kettle boils, tibialis raises or doorway back stretches if I have a few minutes between meetings, lunges while a pot simmers. It’s not an intense program, but it adds up during the day and gives me the novelty I crave.

  28. Anthology*

    I am buying a laptop as a birthday gift. The recipient will use it for work; she is a floater who fills in at multiple sites, so she needs to check in for the next day’s location. However, she is also an amateur musician who sells jingles/sound bytes as a freelancer.

    Best Buy has a MacBook Air on sale for $750. It has 8 GB memory and 256 GB SSD. Am I on the right track here? I realize only she would know the exact specs she’d prefer, but this is supposed to be a surprise, and I’m a bit out of my element.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Absent any other context it should be decent, but does she need to install specific software on it for either endeavor? If so, that may be tricksy with a Mac – if she already owns specialized software for a Windows machine it might need to be repurchased in a different version. Depending on how oomphy her music needs are, more RAM might be preferable too.

      1. Jen (they or she pronouns)*

        I agree with not buying a Mac unless she already has Apple devices. If she already has an old laptop try to figure out whether it’s a Mac/Apple or something else (if she uses Windows, get one that comes with Windows, if she uses a Mac get a Mac, etc.).
        If she doesn’t use Apple devices yet and you can’t guess from a previous laptop/PC, get something that runs Windows. Even if she doesn’t use Windows normally, that should make it (in my opinion) far easier to get whatever she wants on there.
        I know some people just really like Apple and have everything of them, and then a Mac would be absolutely right, but from my experience if someone doesn’t use Apple stuff yet it can be a major annoyance to convince an Apple device (a Mac, an iPhone, whatever) to work together with the other devices, as well as to transfer data or software between devices.

        Another idea, if it’s feasible: offer to get her a laptop, for example writing a card saying “You’ll get this laptop [include which one] or a similar one if this one doesn’t work for you”. However, that’d require you to somehow make sure you can still get the device whenever the birthday takes place. You’d keep the surprise hopefully, but lets you avoid the risk of getting her one that she can’t use much. And it’d leave space open for “actually I was already saving for a very strong laptop that’d be much more expensive so how about you’ll add a bit to that fund if you want to get me a laptop” and similar things.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Can you buy something in your price range, that roughly fits the bill, and that is completely exchangeable? If so, I’d do that, provide a gift receipt, and be explicit that this is not *the* computer, it is *a* computer, and she should get the one she wants.

    3. the bean moves on*

      what abt giving them an equivalent amount of cash? If you are crafty you can package it up in cardboard laptop so that the fun is still somewhat there

    4. beep beep*

      Agree with the other comments saying make sure you know whether your friend is a Windows or Mac person. Aside from that, the specs are middling- doable for music editing but not spectacular. If you can customize on anything and you can afford it, go for more RAM- that’s active processing power for the computer, so it can do more things at once or load more information to be visible quickly. My 16GB RAM mostly feeds my need for a thousand browser tabs to be open at once :P External storage drives are super cheap. It’s also far harder to get more RAM inside a laptop than to get an external drive to plug in.

    5. Generic Name*

      I would only get a Mac if you know she uses and loves Mac computers. I love my iPhone and iPad, but I was thoroughly underwhelmed at the Mac laptop I tried. I got a Samsung touch screen laptop and I absolutely love it.

    6. The teapots are on fire*

      I think this is just too risky as a surprise. Present a budget and take her shopping for it. (I feel the same way about sewing machines. If you don’t know the specs they need, don’t do it. Make the shopping trip the surprise.)

    7. ecnaseener*

      If she wants to be able to plug a microphone or electronic instrument into the computer, and especially if more than one at a time, the MacBook Air likely doesn’t have the ports she needs. I wanted to replace my old Air recently and found the new models have, like, two USB-C’s and that’s it. For the same weight and a better price I got a Lenovo with multiple USB’s, hdmi, headphone jack, etc.

    8. Still*

      I wouldn’t buy someone a laptop as a surprise birthday gift unless you’re very knowledgeable about laptops, familiar with the work the person is doing, AND the person has expressed that she don’t really have a good idea herself and would like someone to make the decision for her.

      I second the idea to take her shopping / get her a gift card / offer a specific amount of cash. I wouldn’t even get something returnable because it’s stressful trying to return an expensive piece of tech and worrying that something is going to go wrong.

      I’m sorry if this isn’t helpful, but for me, the joy of getting a surprise is not worth the risk of receiving an expensive gift that’s not quite right. Especially if I’m gonna use it for work!

      1. Still*

        *Has expressed that she DOESN’T really have a good idea.

        This is what happens when I realise that the person’s pronouns were specified and try to edit all the they/thems right before posting!

      2. Anthology*

        Fair. Perhaps I should have mentioned that this was a request from her husband when I asked for ideas, but your points still stand nonetheless.

        1. Observer*

          Well, then he needs to tell you what kind of computer she has, what she’s plugging in and what kind of software she’s using. This is too expensive to get wrong. And without that information, you will probably get it wrong.

    9. Heffalump*

      If you get her a Mac, the SSD should definitely be bigger than 256GB. On current Macs everything, including the SSD, is one circuit board, you can’t upgrade to a bigger SSD, and a small SSD won’t last as long. It’s like buying a car and knowing that if it ever needs an engine overhaul, you’ll have to replace the entire car. Some relevant links:

      https://9to5mac.com/2022/07/14/m2-macbook-air-slower-ssd-base-model/

      https://www.macworld.com/article/338844/how-worried-should-you-be-about-your-m1-macs-ssd-lifespan.html

      https://pureinfotech.com/why-solid-state-drive-ssd-performance-slows-down/

      1. Observer*

        I’m going to disagree with you a bit. It’s true that you can’t upgrade the SSD, but you can go external / cloud. I’d be more concerned about RAM. You can’t upgrade that either. And, while on the Mac, 8GB tends to be fine for a lot of stuff, when you get to music editing, that tends to change. And you can’t mcgyver it with external memory.

        All of which is to say, that you really need to know exactly what she already has and what she needs to have upgraded.

    10. i think i'll move to boston*

      If they have already budgeted for a laptop purchase, they might be thrilled to get cash so they can buy a fancier one than planned, a larger screen size, more accessories, or more software. The gift could go from good-deal-useful to laptop and accessories of their dreams. And they could use any leftover cash for other unrelated items or tuck it away in savings. I agree with the notion that returns can be burdensome and gift returns can come with a hefty dose of guilt. As a happy MacBook Air user, I also think that it’s a really personal choice.

  29. AC*

    Shopping-adjacent query. In preparation for a Thanksgiving trip to warmer climes, I am interested in getting matching-ish swimwear or resort wear for the family that isn’t identical – think same print in a sundress for me, a swimsuit for daughter, trunks for son, and Hawaiian style shirt for spouse. Or something like that. Old Navy had some lines like that but due to the time of year I am looking, things are sold out in our sizes (women’s XS & L/XL, men’s S & L). Lands End didn’t have anything. Other thoughts on where to look online? Thx.

    1. Christmas cookie*

      Lily Pulitzer if you are okay spending the money. Target. Search “family matching”.

    2. Loreli*

      Are your kids ok with this? Mine would have been mortified. I know there are families who are really into family matching things, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, does everybody else like this matching idea? I don’t, but maybe if my spouse/kids did I could … tell them to go find the matchy stuff for themselves and leave me out of it?

    3. Snell*

      Hilo Hattie’s a classic. They’ve got a good selection of matchy-matchy family sets, although I don’t think they do swimwear.

  30. WoodswomanWrites*

    Alison, thanks for starting the weekend thread on Saturday morning rather than Friday night. You mentioned that the comment section for weekend posts is typically active for about 36 hours regardless of when you open it, and this will help to extend the conversations until the first part of Sunday.

    1. anon24*

      See, this just shows how you can’t make everyone happy. I logged in several times last night and early am hours (EST) and was disappointed not to see it go up.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I was thinking about this. Several people last week said they preferred to see it go up Friday. I like Saturdays myself, so it feels less work-y. But ultimately I defer to whether it helps Alison more with blog revenue to have higher numbers on Friday, or a more even dispersal of every single day of the week. If the weekend post always went up Friday I’d expect late Saturday/Sunday would be pretty dead, but maybe she wants the time off on the weekend without moderating!!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          For the timing of the thread, I’ll participate whenever it goes up (I get so many great book recs from here) and figure whatever time that is, someone will complain that it should be a different time. Eventually people will be throwing down “Wednesday at 2 is best!!!!” and she will give up.

          1. anon24*

            Oh I’ll participate whenever too. I agree that is has to be whatever gets the most traffic and what the majority of regular commentors want.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s pretty negligible revenue-wise either way so really I’m happy to do it whenever people want … but I don’t think there’s strong consensus either way and you definitely can’t please everyone. But I’m happy to try switching it up since it was the other way for a while — no reason it has to stay at the same time every week. And traffic patterns change over time too, so I’m interested to see if the pattern this weekend ultimately does match up with the old one from when it always used to publish on Saturday. Who knows, maybe it won’t!

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        It did feel quite late to me this week – I’m used to it being there by the time I get up on a UK Saturday morning, and when I’d checked a few times and it wasn’t I kind of forgot about it.

        I realise that we’re not the primary audience, but something that got it up by say 9am BST/10am CEST would be a nice compromise if poosible.

      1. ampersand*

        Same! I actually like the weekend thread starting on Saturday because I feel like I’m late to the party when it starts on Friday–I usually don’t start reading/posting to it until Saturday. Conversely, I feel like I shouldn’t post to the work thread later in the day on Friday if the weekend thread has started because everyone has moved over to the weekend thread already. This is just a me thing though; I don’t have very strong feelings about it. I’ll be here either way. :)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Removed a small subthread here speculating on what words trigger moderation, which I’d rather people not speculate on since I don’t want people trying to circumvent moderation rules. Thank you!

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I was very put off by people last week saying things like they want the open thread to be put up when they want it put up because they enjoy being early to the conversations. Once when Alison was doing maintenance on the site, she told us the site would be down on Saturday while it happened. Someone actually had the gall to make a comment to say she would have preferred that to happen on Sunday since she reads it on Saturdays. Wow. To expect Alison to cater to the few is wild to me. How she puts up with it, I’ll never know.

  31. Travel Advice Needed*

    I’m planning to drive from Chicago to Portland, Oregon to visit my daughter. I need to drive to bring her belongings that she couldn’t fit when she moved, but I prefer driving to flying, anyway.
    My question is how late in the fall I can rely on good conditions in the mountain passes. Driving a hybrid through mountains will be challenging enough without snow. I plan to take interstate 80 to Utah, then turn northwest on route 84, so going through southern Wyoming not Montana. October or early November would fit my calendar best, but I’m concerned about snow.
    Anyone familiar with the Rockies have any advice for me?

    1. Annie Edison*

      I am not terribly familiar but my boyfriend, who’s lived in the PNW for 15 years and loves road trips, says he wouldn’t push it past mid-November at the very latest, and that may be a bit of a stretch. He says there’s often snow in Utah in November. Also- get chains and keep them in your trunk just in case. Les Schwab has a buy-back program where you can return unopened chains in the spring and get your money back, so I’d recommend buying there and then returning if you don’t end up needing them

    2. crookedglasses*

      Can you bake any flexibility into your plans? Even a day or two of swing can make a huge difference in being able to dodge storms, either by getting ahead of them or waiting them out.

    3. MaxKitty*

      I would go as early in October as possible. We’re a bit south of your route, but in Colorado the chain laws start every year on September 1 and it certainly could be snowing at any point from mid-October on. My first year in Denver, we had a two-foot snowstorm at the end of October. On the other hand, maybe nothing. You just never know!

    4. Travel Advice Received*

      Thank you all for the advice. I can leave Chicago October first or second, and as long as I keep in touch, there’s no rush either direction.
      Coming home, I could even take the long way, going south into California first and coming home through Arizona and New Mexico. Part of that route follows the old Route 66, which might be interesting in its own right. Surely, snow would be less likely further south?
      I’ll have to find out about chains. I’ve never needed them in Chicago – snow removal is a political third rail here, after the blizzard of 1979 toppled the then-mayor. (Google Michael Bilandic, Jane Byrne, blizzard of 1979.)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I truly loved our drive from Flagstaff AZ to Albuquerque NM, which I’d expected to just be getting from point A to B. So beautiful. I recommend the Lowell Observatory night tour in Flagstaff and the Petrified Forest National Monument by the AZ/NM border.

      2. nonprofit director*

        In the southwest, it’s all about elevation. Interstate 40, which goes through Flagstaff and Albuquerque, has many stretches around 7000′ elevation. We traveled from the Texas Panhandle to the Grand Canyon on October 3, 2022, and experienced rain, hail, snow, a tornado, and almost freezing temperatures in Flagstaff in mid-afternoon. The snow did not last long, and the scenery in Arizona and New Mexico is gorgeous, but it’s best to be prepared.

    5. Aunt Alope*

      The usual and obvious information about driving anywhere in winter applies. The weather at that time of year is completely unpredictable. Driving a hybrid shouldn’t be any different than driving a conventional car. The trip will probably take longer than usual and longer than you think it will.

      Have a warm coat, winter boots, gloves and a winter hat with you. Keep your cell phone charged and with you, but be aware that there are some dead zones along the route where they don’t have cell phone service. Keep something to eat and drink in the car with you, just in case you get stuck, or stopped at a road block. They sometimes close roads due to snow and every-once-in-a-while all the motels will be full. When that happens they usually have emergency centers set up at a school, community center, church or some public building where you can go to keep warm until the roads reopen.

      Make sure that your car is well-maintained and ready for a long trip. I would recommend that you have snow tires for added traction (they don’t have to be studded), or at least all-season tires. They’ll be a bit noisier than regular tires, but give you more traction. Carrying tire chains as a back-up measure is always a good idea. Sometimes chains or all-wheel drive is required by law to drive on a snow-covered road. (They won’t let you drive past a road block if you don’t have them.) Always have a snow scraper and snow brush in the car with you. I would also recommend carrying a small snow shovel and a bag or a bucket of sand (or kitty litter) in case you get stuck and need to dig out. Spreading sand or kitty litter under the driving wheels provides traction that will let your car moving again if it gets stuck while parked on snow or ice.

      I would recommend never letting your gas tank get below half empty, just in case you get stopped at a road block, or stuck in the snow. Drive very cautiously. Just follow slow poke snow plows and don’t attempt to pass them.

      All along Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming they have these “variable speed limits” which means that they set the speed limits lower in the winter depending on the road conditions. Usually it means that they lower them from 80 or 75 mph to 70 or 65 mph. (In my experience I have never actually run into snow anywhere there was a lower winter speed limit in effect, but hey, it could happen.)

      In addition to snow, I-80 is frequently closed to ‘high profile” vehicles meaning tall box trucks (like a U-Haul rental truck) or a freight truck, vehicles pulling any kind of trailer, or large semi-trucks and trailers due to excessive high wind which can blow the vehicles over on their sides. If you’re driving a car you probably won’t have a problem with wind.

      I have driven on Interstate 80 all through southern Wyoming and on Interstate 84 through Utah, as well as through southern Montana and, IMHO, the route through Wyoming is preferable than driving through Montana at that time of year as there is usually a bit less snow in Wyoming. Even so, on one occasion I chose to spend the night in Rock Springs and on another occasion in Laramie rather drive on snowy and windy roads at night.

      The worst areas IMHO that I am familiar with are driving over the mountain pass between Cheyenne and Laramie; and then driving through the narrow canyons on I-80 and I-84 in eastern Utah where the canyon walls create shade that blocks the sun from hitting the road and the snow doesn’t melt.

      Last year, after checking with weather-dot-com, I was able to drive through there in mid-December when there was a bit of lull in the usual winter weather. It wasn’t a time sensitive thing and I was prepared to postpone the trip until the weather and roads were, up to several months if I had to.

    6. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I-80 through Wyoming in a storm is *brutal* – people underestimate it because they think “eh. it’s not like it’s a mountain pass or anything.”
      But the WIND is insane. Visibility can get quite low. Accidents are frequent, the interstate closes fairly often.
      The Utah part *is* mountainous, at least until you pass Ogden. Depending on conditions, it might be better to take 80 all the way into SLC and then go north on I15 to meet up with 84. Fewer mountains, and IME 80 (especially between Park City and SLC) is better plowed and cleared than 84. In good weather 84 is definitely the shorter and faster route.
      Be proactive in searching out road conditions and watching weather alerts.
      Honestly, your best bet it to do it earlier, and if possible have some flexibility so you can wait out a storm.

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      Going through Wyoming/Utah/Idaho is a double edged sword. You skirt a lot of the high Rockies but the open plains turn into The Frozen Steppes really easy.
      Once you get into Oregon, the stretch from Ontario to Pendleton is the last serious elevation and will be fine in October and November. But drive home before Veterans Day to avoid most problems.

  32. Snickers Bar*

    I’ve noticed that my memory has been terrible. I’m 31, but I can barely remember childhood, some of high school, college is fuzzy, etc. It’s not like I was blackout drunk throughout these times (I barely drank) and I didn’t have anything extremely traumatic happen. I think for a chunk of my life I was either severely anxious or somewhat depressed, which might have messed with my memory. Still, I don’t have the sharp memory of those times unless something specific and nostalgic reminds me of something. I’m so impressed by those who story tell their lives at like 80 with such clarity and detail.

    Is this normal? Am I supposed to be able to recall those times super well? There are some key events I can recall but the rest is blurry.

    Also, how can I remember/preserve some of the memories I have? Some of the people from my early part of life either are not in contact, passed away, etc. Is there a best way to jog my memory?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I feel the same way, so you’re not alone. I felt like I started getting this way after having kids but was like “oh, it’s pregnancy/mom brain, it’ll go away” and then COVID happened and along with some anxiety/depression stuff I kind of thing this is just… what my brain is like now.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I have often felt the same way, and was also anxious/depressed for much of that time for what it’s worth. Journaling helps me, as does, weirdly enough, unpacking some of the little traumas of that time. I’m finding the more I talk through things that were weird/stressful/difficult in my childhood and adolescence, the more memories come back for me (both happy and hard memories). Also, if there are folks in your past you’d be open to reconnecting with, I’d say go for it. For various reasons, I’ve been reconnecting with friends and family members I haven’t seen or talked to in many years lately, and that’s helped a lot with recall too

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      Yes I think journaling one really good way to help. There are lots of good prompts and writing guides out there you can find for capturing memories for memoir writing, for example, and you can adapt them to your own needs. For me, I’ll start with a snippet of a memory — maybe my Grandma making the pie crust for Thanksgiving or something — but then the process of writing will trigger more associated details, and it becomes this kind of cascade of memory and story and sensations. It’s pretty cool if you stick with it

    4. RagingADHD*

      It’s my understanding that this is more common than not. Most of our memories are from stories we re-tell to ourselves or others, which is why they become distorted over time.

    5. Nicosloanica*

      Ha! I am this way. What makes it worse is one of my good friends married someone we went to high school, so the two of them reinforce each other’s memories, and they hang out with *other* high school friends which reinforces it even more! Whereas I don’t see a lot of people from HS or even college anymore, thus I recall very little.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      How interesting. I’ll give you a look at things from the other side; I recall almost every single second of my life since I became aware. I remember every slight no matter how small. I remember every terrible thing ever said or done to me or to the entire world. I remember every dirty look I’ve ever gotten. I remember every single thing about my kindergarten recital where I wore the orange jumper with crimped hair. If I were to be given the option, I don’t think I’d choose to remember everything.

      I would also focus on journaling but perhaps from a sensory-map angle. Instead of just recalling your day and your feelings of the day, recall the things you smelled, tasted, saw, heard, felt, etc. Consider what those around you sensed as well. This may help you.

    7. retrowaveRecluse*

      Earlier on this year I learned about Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory – ‘SDAM refers to the lifelong inability to mentally relive or reexperience personal past events’, from sdamstudy dot weebly dot com. It was described to me by someone who lives with it as simply not being able to remember ones life, I definitely have something like this. My life is a general blur, with some standout days/events that I find hard to place in correct chronological order. I often have to be told if I did something in one year, or another. I am diagnosed autistic, for extra information, but have not yet discussed my memory difficulties with a medical professional.

    8. Anonymous cat*