weekend open thread – August 5-6, 2023

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Appeal, by Janice Hallett. A murder mystery told entirely through emails and messages sent among the members of a local theater group that has been rallying to raise funds for a sick child in their director’s family. The epistolary element is great fun.

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

Meet Stella and Fig (previously fosters Norma and Cherry). We adopted them!

{ 1,108 comments… read them below }

  1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    wow, the weekend is starting earlier and earlier :) (That sounds smartass, but it’s not, I swear! Just noticing that the weekend thread keeps going up earlier every weekend, which is a-ok with me.)

    1. Liminality*

      I really enjoy having the weekend thread start on Fridays. :) I feel like there’s more time for conversation and ideas.

        1. Moonstone*

          I absolutely love their new names! Congratulations on the new additions! They are so adorable.

        2. LemonDrops*

          congrats on the adoption! I hope it doesn’t take you out the available fosters though; there’s never enough.

        3. Noblepower*

          Hahaha, you are terrible at fostering kitties, aren’t you?
          They’re super cute, congratulations on the new additions!

    1. Be the Change*

      Indeed they are, and is anyone surprised at this outcome? No!

      Happy happy kitties will live their best life forever now. <3

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Ha ha, cat suckers!

      They’re beautiful and I could never let them go either. Are you still going to be allowed to foster with the kitties you’re racking up?

      It’s not humans’ fault though; we’re being manipulated by the perfect politicians. See for proof:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBjYtV5zvQE

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        When our rescue group contact talked us into fostering this time, I warned her that this was a possibility … and I think they all knew it was all over once Stella got sick since it’s always the ones who need the most care who we can’t part with. (When I told them earlier this week that we wanted to keep them, they replied, “I’ve been waiting for this email!”)

        But I wish we were better at fostering because it’s such important work and this makes me nervous about continuing to do it (although we will, once Stella is fully recovered).

        1. Jellyfish Catcher*

          Yeah…..One of my friends fostered 4 dogs, one at a time. He always says – and guess how many dogs I have !
          I always had 2 rescue cats for about 40 years; now – a mellow rescue dog.

        2. Pekelady*

          is this the same rescue organization that discouraged you from keeping Eve’s siblings since six cats is a lot?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            No :)

            County shelter then, rescue group now. The shelter didn’t discourage us from taking Eve’s siblings; they just didn’t take me seriously when I said we’d keep all of them if they needed us to, probably because I didn’t propose it in a serious way.

            Really, though, six cats are way less time/stress/money than a single human child is, and I’m a fan of helping as many as we have time, space, money, and energy to give good lives to.

    3. MEH Squared*

      They really are! And to nobody’s surprise, they now have their forever home. Warms my heart it does.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You get them now!

        Fig: We’re unsure of her age but I think she is barely out of kittenhood, based both on size and energy level. She is the cat version of Scarlett O’Hara: extremely charming, somewhat devious, and totally coquettish. Despite her tiny size, she’s extremely brave with all the other cats and basically rules the house now. Also likes to hoot like an owl while playing.

        Stella: Believed to be two or three. Loves affection and is happiest when curled up against you or being pet. Her meow sounds like she’s underwater. Still very wobbly from the FIP but doesn’t care and races around madly anyway.

        They are the sweetest cats and they love each other. They took a very long and winding road to get here … but now they are home!

        1. old curmudgeon*

          Ahhhh, you made my entire week with this news and this description, Alison. Any week that ends with happy news about new feline family members is a GOOD week, no matter how cruddy it felt at times.

          Thank you for loving cats, and for sharing them here – you are a powerful force for good in the world on many levels.

        2. Slinky*

          Oh my goodness! I would love to hear that owlish hooting. One of ours (a partial Maine coon) makes the cutest bird-like chirps when she’s excited. I love the range of sounds cats make.

          1. Zephy*

            My younger cat is a medium-haired tuxedo and he makes noises that sound just like pigeon coos sometimes. We joke that he ate a pigeon, or is a pigeon in a kitty suit.

        3. M. from P.*

          I wonder if they know they are now officially yours. Apart from new names, they probably carry on as usual but us there anything different going forward besides, you know, going from temp status to permanent cat employees? I mean, they obviously got all the benefits from day one of fostering anyway but I’ve often wondered if cats know about their temp vs permanent status.

        4. Syzygy*

          Congratulations! They sound adorable and they will be so safe and loved. Please someday post a video of Fig’s hoots if you can!

        5. sswj*

          Ohhh, THANK you for keeping Stella! FIP is a tough disease, and I’m so glad she’s in your care where she’ll be cossetted as she deserves :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’ve wanted to name a cat Fig for years — no idea why — and my husband has always refused but somehow this one really seemed like a Fig! Her full name is Figgy Stardust, which sealed the deal with him as a Bowie fan.

            1. Aquamarine*

              Fig seems like the perfect name for this spunky little cat! And as a Bowie fan myself, I like the long version as well.

              I love seeing pictures from the cat community every week! It’s amazing to me that everyone gets along so well.

            2. Crackerjack*

              one of my cats is called Pig. husband’s choice, he thinks it’s hilarious. the sound is fun to say!

              1. Just Another Cog*

                Our cat, who wandered into our yard as a kitten and was chased up a tree by our pound dog, is named Little Bear. We had put down our beloved Hallie a few months prior and always just called her Kitty. My husband took our new cat to the vet for an initial checkup and vet’s assistant asked him if this cat has a name or is it just Kitty, too. He said we didn’t have one, but that “my wife said she looks like a little bear sometimes”. Vet’s assistant said “Little Bear it is” as she was typing LB’s name into the computer. She now IS Little Bear. Her name couldn’t be anything else.

        6. the cat's ass*

          This lovely news for everyone involved! Can’t wait for a group portrait of the ENTIRE gang.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Mazel tov on adding Stella and Fig to your family! And yes, they are beautiful and their characters sound delightful.
      May all y’all enjoy many years of happiness and good health together.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The other cats really like them! That’s part of why we gave in and kept them. Laurie and Wallace, in particular, are delighted with them. Laurie has already managed to cuddle up against both of them. Those two, and probably Sophie, would prefer us to have 20 cats.

        (Eve is the only one who wasn’t sure and she’s adjusting. I worry about her with smaller cats in the beginning because she can be a bully if she thinks she’s bigger than them, but Fig is fearless so Eve has had to switch gears.)

    5. allathian*

      Congrats! I had a feeling these two might be new foster fails when you first started fostering them. They’re adorable!

  2. ShroomTaDa*

    I’m going to Cairo for work and have 2 free days. I already know I want to do a pyramid tour. It’s there anything else that’s a must do? Any can’t miss restaurants?

    1. Auntie Social*

      Go to the Valley of the Kings, and see the burial chambers painted on the walls and ceilings. They’re exquisite. There’s not much to see at the pyramids, they’re more of a drive-by. The restaurants on the river are nice. Best Italian food I ever had was in Cairo.

      1. maybe*

        you can’t really get to the valley of the kings for a day, unless there are flights. You might need a tour there too.
        Alexandria is accessible on a day trip. There’s an antiquities museum in Cairo iirc (been a few years since I was there). I remember going around to synagogues and the jewish quarter that was fun, in Cairo.

    2. Gigi*

      The National Museum. That’s where they keep all the mummies. I recommend doing that after the Pyramids. To be honest, the child in me was deeply disappointed in the pyramids. No one tells you they’re across the street from a KFC. Really takes away the mystique. But of course you have to see them, just do the museum after to have your sense of awe restored.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >No one tells you they’re across the street from a KFC.
        I’ve never been to Egypt (and maybe will never get there because life / time / finances) but OY and Egads–Who allowed KFC to plant itself right across the streetfrom the Pyramids? Is nothing sacred any more?!

        1. Large Pink Rabbit*

          The pyramids are in Giza, which is basically a Cairo suburb. They aren’t out in the middle of the desert, they are in a developed area.

          However, once you are actually AT the pyramids, it’s just pyramids. No KFC.

      2. Kate*

        My mom and I have a funny picture of the pyramids through the inside window of that KFC (backwards logo showing and everything). It obviously isn’t the prettiest photo I took while there, but it really brings me back to what it was like to be there.

        I agree with the recommendations about the National Museum. It’s not the most beautifully labeled/curated museum (or at least it wasn’t when I was there over a decade ago), but the number of ancient things there is overwhelming!

    3. esemess*

      I also had 2 free days in Cairo during a work trip. I booked an 8 hour tour to 3 different pyramid sites through Memphis Tours (tour name was: Day 1 Giza Pyramids and Sakkara Tour & Dahshur). I found Giza to be the least interesting, in part due to all the tourists. The other 2 sites were FASCINATING and I was able to go inside the pyramids very easily, even climbing backwards over 200 feet/60+ meters. RECOMMEND. :)

      I also enjoyed going out for koshari at Abou Tarik. The restaurant was full of locals and tourists alike and made for great people watching.

    4. Tammy 2*

      If you’re looking for a good movie to watch on the plane, try Cairo Time with Patricia Clarkson.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And read Connie Willis’s short story Death on the Nile! (Yes, the title’s like the mystery novel but totally different, I promise)

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        There is an old black and white Egyptian film called Cairo Station, which makes parts of the city look really beautiful. (Though I’m sure it’s changed a lot since the film was made.)

    5. Atheist Nun*

      If you like Indian food (and maybe even if you don’t?), have a meal at the Moghul Room at Mena House Hotel. The lamb biryani I had there was the best I ever had in my life, and I say that as an Indian person and as someone who has had biryani in Hyderabad. Everything else I ate there was fantastic, too. I believe the restaurant dates from when Oberoi owned Mena House, so you know the standards are high. Marriott was wise to keep it.

      As for logistics, I stayed at Mena House so it was easy for me to have dinner at the Moghul Room (twice!). If you are not staying there, I think you can email them to request a reservation. The restaurant is indoors so you will not have a pyramid view, but all you need to do is step outside and there they are.

      I really enjoyed Tutankhamun’s exhibits in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

      1. MassChick*

        I’m intrigued by the best lamb biryani ever, more than I am by the Pyramids! I’m Indian origin too and have Hyderabadi roots so I’m sure your claim is not lightly made!
        Was chicken biryani an option too? I mostly avoid red meat though I will eat the occasional mutton biryani as I come from a family that believes that biryani has to be mutton.

        1. Atheist Nun*

          Good question about the biryani! I checked the menu online, and it looks like options include chicken, lamb, shrimp, or veggies.

          I visited Egypt for the first time this January, and I loved it so much that I am planning a return trip, whenever the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) finally opens in Giza. My perfect Cairo visit would include a day at the GEM, a separate leisurely afternoon at the Pyramids and Sphinx, and thus conveniently two opportunities to dine at the Moghul Room (trying different dishes each time, naturally). I would not stay at Mena House again. It is nice but way out of my budget. I found the Le Meridien at the airport to be a better value and high quality and would stay there.

          1. MassChick*

            Awww thanks for checking! Have saved your post as notes for a future trip. Nothing planned right now but we do hope to do some traveling when we can and are making a list.

          2. MassChick*

            Aww thanks for looking it up and all the other info. Filing it away for future reference.
            (Hopefully this isn’t a duplicate response; an earlier one seems to have disappeared into the ether)

    6. Large Pink Rabbit*

      You can ride a camel at the pyramids. There are tons of rando dudes with camels who will be happy to set you up.

      Have some koshari! There is a chain called Gad or Ged or something. Go there. It’s like Egyptian fast food, maybe more like Subway than McDonald’s.

      Go to the Nile-o-meter! It measures the height of the Nile. IIRC it’s close to the Umm Kulthum museum, which is probably only of interest if you like her.

      Second the rec for the National Museum. You can spend hours there.

          1. Anon-E-Mouse*

            Animals shouldn’t be used by humans for entertainment. They are sentient beings, not our servants.

            And in case you’re wondering, I don’t think people should ride horses either.

            1. sswj*

              My horse is not my servant any more than my cats or dogs or goats or husband are. They are my friends and family.

              1. Anon-E-Mouse*

                If you’re riding your horse, you’re using them like a servant for your entertainment.

                1. sswj*

                  I vehemently disagree, but I will never change your (misplaced) opinion, so … Let me just say that with this mindset, you are missing out on an utterly amazing and indescribable connection with another creature. Frankly, you know not whereof you speak.

            2. ..*

              I think the more compelling argument is to look into how the camels are treated and what you’re supporting by paying to ride them.

    7. ShroomTaDa*

      Thanks everyone! I’ve added National Museum and at least one of the restaurants to my must do list. Hopefully I’ll have time for more.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        My husband travels to Cairo for work twice a year and absolutely loved visiting Sakkara and Alexandria. He was unimpressed by the pyramids and the Sphinx.

    8. slmrlln*

      The museum recommendations below are good. If you want to visit a historic mosque, go to ‘Amr ibn al-As or al-Azhar. Like visiting a cathedral in Europe, these are simultaneously tourist and religious sites. Take off your shoes when you enter and tip the shoe caretaker when you leave, wear long pants regardless of gender, bring a scarf to put over your head if you’re a woman. They’re both beautiful. Al-Azhar is right next to Khan al-Khalili, if you want to go shopping. Be prepared to bargain.

      The historic churches in Coptic Cairo are also fascinating, and Ben Ezra synagogue is in that area too. Again, they are simultaneously tourist and religious sites, so wear long pants and long sleeves. Coptic Cairo is a whole neighborhood, so you can go with a guide or just walk around.

      Sequoia used to be the restaurant where I took all visitors to Cairo, but now it’s closed. Here are some other options.
      https://www.localguidetoegypt.com/post/7-nile-side-restaurants-to-take-foreign-friends-to-now-that-sequoia-s-closed

      For souvenirs, go to Oum el Dounia near Tahrir Square.

      Last but not least… being a tourist in Egypt can be intense. I was there as a doctoral student and had a very different experience wearing work clothes, walking in residential neighborhoods, and speaking Arabic than, for example, taking my parents to the pyramids. It’s really set up for traveling with a guide, so if your hotel or work colleagues can recommend someone, that will be a more pleasant experience than going on your own.

    9. RedinSC*

      I would probably take the 1 hour flight to go to Luxor for the weekend. There’s so much there. The Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Luxor, the Avenue of the Sphinxes, Karnak. My absolute favorite thing was going north of Luxor to the Temple of Dandarah.

      If you’re going to stay in Cairo, though, there are some great museums, and the Grand Cairo Museum might be open (it wasn’t quite ready when I was there in March). Memphis isn’t too far away and that’s pretty interesting, but it’s really just a couple of big statues.

      Garbage City (maybe it’s trash city?) was just depressing, and the Church that was built into the hillside was interesting. That’s just a taxi ride away.

      There are tour companies that run weekend or day tours you could get on. That can help you get into museums early, I think.

  3. Tierrainney*

    I need help and advise, this group has come up with some really great stuff before.

    I need shoe recommendations. I will be traveling and walking a lot. I want to find a shoe that makes me feel like I am walking on a cloud. But because I am traveling, I don’t have a lot of luggage space, and need a shoe that is at least passable for wearing to dinner, and not just a heavy duty hiking shoe.

    and, I need it to be available in extended sizes, as I wear USA ladies 12 (? European 44?)

    thanks for any and all recommendations.

    1. Lindsey*

      I have found Atoms shoes to be extremely comfortable for walking around. They come in quarter sizes up to a 16.5. I have the Model 000.

      1. cabbagepants*

        Seconding Clarks. I have size 10 wide feet and Clarks is the only brand they makes quality shoes in that size that are both comfortable and look presentable.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      I 2nd Clarks. When I went to Europe a few years ago I took a pair of old school white leather adidas with very light stripes and cloudfoam inner sole. I walked 10+ miles every day and my feet did not get swollen (which mine tend to do) blistered or sore on the bottom. They were reasonably priced and looked sleek enough to wear to a nice dinner with slacks. And they were easy to deal with in the airport, etc. I wore them all 10 days.

    3. Tammy 2*

      I’ve had really good luck with Clarks, and they go up to a 12. They have some really plush comfy styles, but to optimize your “cloud like” + “passable for dinner” choices, you could also get some SuperFeet insoles.

      I know Rothy’s are very popular, although I haven’t tried them myself. They go up to a 13.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love Rothy’s, but they are definitely not going to give a “walking on a cloud” feel, not without some hefty t third-party insoles.

    4. Knighthope*

      Check out Ryka. They only sell women’s shoes, not “sized down” men’s shoes, and carry 12s. Some of their “lifestyle” ones might work. Agree about insoles. My friend who sells athletic shoes said that because so many people use custom or special insoles, manufacturers have been using flimsy ones, even in $$$$ shoes.

    5. ldub*

      My coworker is enthusiastic about Cole Haan ZeroGrand shoes for walking all over NYC on work trips.

      1. J*

        I did 35,000 steps a day in NYC on a trip and then was able to just easily wash the filth off my shoes (we had some weather right at the end that left blush shoes very dark) after returning home. Super lightweight, great for my plantar fasciitis feet and easy to clean is a combo I didn’t realize I could get. The only issue is most run a little narrow.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Rats…on their website they max out at 9. That and runs narrow leaves me out.

    6. knitcrazybooknut*

      I recommend Ecco shoes – they make sandals that are great for walking around. A friend of mine loved Clark’s, and they didn’t fit my feet right, and Ecco’s didn’t fit hers, so you never know.

      I also recommend looking at products sold by The Walking Company. Most of their shoes are geared towards actually walking in the shoes instead of using them as decorations!

    7. Walking shoes*

      I’ve had great luck with Hotter shoes made in UK. Come in many sizes & widths. Some are definitely grandma shoes but they have some nice Mary Janes & other styles that are suitable for dinner. Very comfortable walking shoes

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        The blog BarkingDogShoes.com might have some shoes to fit your criteria. Their prices are higher than I prefer, which may or may not be a problem for you also.

        Hotter, based in the UK, is having a sale this weekend. Unfortunately they are no longer available to USA shoppers. As of a few minutes ago their web site said, “We have now closed our USA website as we no longer deliver orders to countries outside of the UK.” See https://www.hotter.com/us/en/ for more information, a phone number, and an email address for people with questions about already-created orders, or items to return.

        Unfortunately, I also found a recent news story in The Sun that warned of possible supply interruptions (“AT RISK High street shoe shop with dozens of locations at risk of closing – is one near you?” July 17, 2023): “The parent company of Hotter Shoes has filed to appoint administrators and the business could be sold. Hotter Shoes stores could be at risk of permanent closures after its parent company filed to appoint administrators.” (Link omitted because it’s one of those realllly long URLs.)

        I’ve tried to be responsible about passing along this information. It seems legit but please–if anybody sees something to the contrary, please come here and tell us!

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          This is very sad news for me as a US Hotter customer. My feet are hard to fit, and Hotter is the only company I ever found that made truly wide women’s shoes in shorter sizes. I’m wearing a Hotter pair right now as I do nearly every day. I guess I’ll just keep wearing the ones I have forever. Sigh.

    8. Lady Alys*

      I got a pair of black wool Allbirds laceups for the same reason back in 2017 – wore them for three weeks as I walked all over London and Berlin (10 miles the last day in Berlin). They were the only shoe I brought with me, and I wore them everywhere – we were not put in any formal-dress situations but for the usual walking around and maybe going to a decent restaurant in the evening they were perfectly fine. I still have that same pair, and wear them (although I like their bamboo material a bit better now).

    9. WellRed*

      Whatever you decide bring more than one pair. I have found spending the day in one shoe day at a convention then changing into other shoes for evening activities makes a huge difference.

      1. Jen*

        Another vote for bringing more than one pair. When space is really tight I have brought just plain flip flops / sandals – very light and unsupportive – but being able to wear them downstairs to dinner in the hotel or while running out to shops and have a break from my main pair is really helpful!

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      When are you going? If in the Fall or Winter or even Spring, maybe consider a chelsea boot. They are very versatile. I wore a Sorel chelsea boot on my last international trip and walked 7 miles a day in them quite comfortably. I did wear them onto the plane rather than pack them.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Another vote for Cole Haan, and I also like Aetrex and Abeo. I have a pair of Abeo wedges that are absolutely extraordinary. I don’t know if I’d walk in them all day, but I’ve walked miles on concrete and no plantar fasciitis pain. I have a pair of Aetrex “sneakers” that are just good casual shoes and I’ve worn them with shorts and with black linen trousers.

    12. the cat's ass*

      First, have a wonderful trip! And i strongly recommend Danskos, as i always do. I’m on my feet a lot as an NP, and i wore my black leather mary jane danskos throughout a 3 week trip walking a total of about 120 miles through Osaka and its environs. Wipe the day’s dust off and head to dinner! They go up to size 13.

    13. Quinalla*

      Orthofeet has some shoes I wear when needing to dress up (with pants or leggings and socks mind you). I wear a 12.5 so I get men’s shoes size 11. Just put all of the support in IMO.

      I also really like Brooks, their black walking shoes to me are barely ok to wear with pants.

  4. Cendol*

    Ooh, early weekend thread! Writers, any advice for getting that little voice of doubt to be quiet, at least for a couple of hours (or days)?

    I go to bed thinking the latest installment on my draft is the best thing since sliced bread and wake up thinking I should never try to write again. The rollercoaster is exhausting.

    1. Amateur Writer*

      Try not to reread what you just wrote and commit to writing just one sentence. You’ll probably just keep writing when you get in the groove, and you can always go back to edit when you’re feeling good about the work. Good luck!

    2. CP*

      When I’m in this spiral, I try to remind myself that what I’m doing is a draft or a brain dump–this is just the first step to get all the stuff swirling in my head out on paper/screen so I can start to organize it. It doesn’t have to be good yet, it just has to be captured. Making it great is not the goal of this step and focusing on making it great hinders meeting the goal of this step, which is just to get it out. I may still end up using what I wrote in that first round, but framing it that way helps get me out of my head about it.

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          You gotta write that first shitty draft, as they say. If you just keep in mine that it is shitty, then you can stop worrying about quality and just get it out!

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Bad drafts exist for every single writer. Your most favorite writer whom you secretly think must be taking dictation directly from the angels? Has a drawer full of shitty first drafts.

          I mentioned Anne Lamott below, and she’s got a whole chapter in her book about shitty first drafts, and how she’s continually terrified that she’s going to die in a car wreck when she’s got a project at that stage, and everyone will read it and think her mind was shot.

          1. Cendol*

            This is wisdom. I wish I could see the first draft of Bring Up the Bodies, or the Luminaries…

            It’s a sign of my haphazard process (read: complete lack thereof) that I have truly done very little rewriting for the stories I’ve gotten published. The unifying theme there is that they’ve all been quite short, under 5k, and they did feel like they came to me fully formed. I feel like I was contentedly and more or less successfully tossing a single ball in the air, and now someone (also me, what a jerk!) is shooting at me with a tennis ball machine, yelling, “Now juggle!”

      1. Righthere*

        Someone said they titled the first draft “Shittiest draft” because it helps give you permission not to be perfect (or even good). It hasn’t really helped me because when you’re on any page after the first it’s not that visible but it’s helped in changing my mindset a bit. Baby steps~

    3. Tammy 2*

      Everyone’s process is so different and I don’t like being prescriptive, but–

      Try to think of “drafting” and “editing” as two separate activities, both of which are writing.
      My good work happens when I’m editing. Expecting a draft to live up to (your own or anyone else’s) standards of what is good is like expecting raw dough to taste like baked bread.

      1. sagewhiz*

        “expecting raw dough to taste like baked bread”

        Perfect!!! (Obviously, Tammy 2, YOU are a good writer)

        I now will be stealing your line to repeat to the angst-ridden writers I advise. ;-)

    4. Anonomasaurus*

      Draw a character representing that voice (best case if your art skills are marginal, otherwise use your non dominant hand). Name the voice. Tell voice to shut it as needed.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I like Anne Lamott’s advice in her fabulous writing guide Bird By Bird, where she suggests picturing all those voices as little homunculi that you can pick up, put in a jar with a volume control, and let squeak at you for a minute or so before turning down the knob and getting to work.

      (She also has a friend who recommends opening up the jar and shooting them all in the head, but she thinks he’s a little angry.)

      1. Cendol*

        Ooh, I will have to check that guide out. I swear by Ann Patchett’s The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life. But I am no Ann Patchett (or Anne Lamott). Tear emoji.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing are my go-tos for fantastic, funny writing advice.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’m a big believer in “anyway.”

      Maybe it sucks. Write anyway.
      Maybe you suck. Write it anyway.
      Maybe that voice will never stop bugging you. It’s a liar and a pest, so write it anyway.

      You can’t know if it’s going to turn out good or not until you write it out. And you can’t fix any potential problems unless you write it out. And if your skill level is not where you want it to be, the only way to get better is more writing.

      More writing is always the answer. Not writing is never the answer.

      If you just don’t want to write anymore, you don’t have to. But if you do, go ahead and do it anyway.

    7. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I’ve had some luck with naming the draft file “Crap that might go in $WORKINGTITLE”. So what if I write something lousy in there? It’s the crap file!

      When I was still eating out regularly, I’d bring some scrap printer paper with blank backs and write by hand on those. The scrap paper made me feel like it didn’t have to be good. (Spoiler alert: when I later transcribed them into my computer file? It was quite good.)

    8. Green beans*

      I accept that I will, at some point, hate everything I write, and remind myself that with enough time and space, I usually like most of it.

      and I don’t let myself do endless edits. accept and move on. you can always come back and edit later.

    9. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I have a thing on my wall that says “art is not about what you are creating, but about who you are becoming as you create it”.

      Also, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book, plus her archived podcast Magic Lessons. It’s all about people’s hang ups around their creative pursuits of any kind.

      1. Cendol*

        Haha, when I make art I become a gremlin. Putting Big Magic on my to-read list, thank you!

    10. Maryn*

      One of the best bits of advice I ever received, and which I share often, is “Give Yourself Permission to Write Crap.”

      Whatever you’re writing is going to be edited, most likely revised, even entirely rewritten. You’ll be going over it many times, improving it with each pass. No one ever has to see its first version–let it be crap.

      You can vastly upgrade a terrible draft. The blank page or screen, not to much.

    11. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I like the framing that “the first draft is you telling the story to yourself”.
      What really keeps me motivated though is having a handful of alpha readers who read as I go, and they know that at the early stage all I want to hear is how great it is and what they like. They have more critical feedback that they give me later when I’m ready for it.

  5. Rooty Tooty*

    I love AAM, such a wonderful resource for all thing work and people! I was wondering if anyone could recommend a blog for personal relationships and life issues? Or maybe Alison has a second site that fits this bill?

    1. English Rose*

      Captain Awkward is great for this although not very active at the moment, due to illness I think.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        I also recommend Captain Awkward.

        I think the less frequent updates are partly because she’s putting a lot of her energy into writing and editing a book.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        The only possible drawback is you can hardly ever comment on her posts any more so if you want to discuss like we do here then it won’t fit the bill.

        1. KathyG*

          There IS a Captain Awkward sub on reddit that is active though, and where from time to time they bring up an old post to discuss.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I subscribed to The Post to get unlimited access to Hax. they have some other newer columnists I’m just startto read.

        (check the discounts page — Prime bc Bezos, and also deals for accounts made with .mil, .gov, and .edu email accounts.)

    2. Lamp*

      Dear Prudie at Slate. The different Prudies over the years have different styles, so poke around in the archives to find your favourite (mine is the Danny Lavery era). They’ve been bringing in guest Prudies for a column, which is fun (Melanie Lynskey! Arian Moayed!).

  6. the work is mysterious and important*

    Any New Orleans recommendations? My partner and I are going for a wedding in November and are planning to stay until Thanksgiving. We are staying in the Garden District. I have been twice before, but only once as a tourist, and my partner has never been at all.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you like history museums, the National World War II museum is amazing. We also did a Creole Queen Jazz Cruise, which is a paddlewheeler dinner and music cruise on the Mississippi with all-you-can-eat Creole food, and a French Quarter ghost tour (though I don’t remember which one, because it was like eight years ago and my husband picked that one out, but there’s a gazillion and twelve of them to choose from).

      1. RedinSC*

        Second the WWII museum, it’s so well done! And I loved the walking ghost tour! (plus you can walk around on the tour with a Hurricane – cocktail- which makes it all that much more fun. )

        Also, I enjoyed the Insectorium.

        I wanted to check out the Apothecary museum, but it was always closed when I was there.

        1. RedinSC*

          Oh wait, below they said Pharmacy museum, that’s it. Wish I’d been able to see that.

    2. Aitch Arr*

      My husband and I were just there in late March.

      Some random thoughts:
      – the Hop On Hop Off bus is a great way to see the city
      – go to the Cafe du Monde early. Line is long, but does move fast.
      – take a ride on the City of New Orleans paddleboat
      – stroll through the French Market
      – actually go inside St. Louis Cathedral

      1. Jen MaHRtini*

        There’s a takeout window at the right/back of Cafe du Monde, line is MUCH shorter than the one for table service.

    3. Champagne Cocktail*

      May I add…

      Palace Cafe and/or Court of Two Sisters for Brunch
      Antique shops on Royal Street in the French Quarter
      Ruby Slipper Cafe for breakfast
      Streetcar rides to look at all the gorgeous homes
      Muffaletta from Central Grocery
      The Pharmacy Museum is tiny and adorable
      The Audobon Zoo
      The Aquarium–please say hi to the otters for me.

      I may have been a few times.

        1. carcinization*

          Various online sources say they (Central Grocery) should be reopening by November, so fingers crossed!

    4. Gigi*

      The Mardi Gras costume museum is great and off the usual tourist track. You must eat at Mother’s, just know there will be a line to get in. It’s worth it, I promise.

      1. NandorILoveYou*

        I second this!! Fascinating history. It’s also near the Louis Armstrong Park, which is beautiful and worth a walk through.

    5. ldub*

      I’m still dreaming about the beef carpacio with fried oysters on top at Paladar 511 that I ate in April. Run, do not walk, to Hansen’s Sno Blitz for the best snow cone of your life (and the best time in line watching people from all walks of life wait at least a half hour for the best snow cone of their lives!) Fried chicken at Lil’ Dizzy’s is a must. And my partner and I had the best time using the blue city bikes to get around– they’re electric, so we didn’t even sweat, and could reach much farther than the street car (although the regular city bus lines are also very good!)

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Historic New Orleans Collection is a great, free museum in the FQ.

      I love to walk around City Park … historic oak trees, NO Museum of Art’s free sculpture garden, Cafe du Monde has a location in City Park.

      If you like street art, StudioBE which is BMike’s studio / indoor exhibition space.

      JAM NOLA is an immersive interactive museum of New Orleans culture. Hard to explain but a fun experience with a ton of photo ops/selfie spots.

      1. NandorILoveYou*

        The sculpture garden was a highlight of my last trip. Also, if you’re walking from the garden district, you’ll pass some really cool NOLA cemeteries. A fascinating walk through

    7. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Hijacking a bit. Similar question, but for DC area. I’ll be there for my daughter’s wedding in October, and I’ve done the Mall to death.

      Any suggestions for different stuff there?

        1. RedinSC*

          I saw an amazing Louise Bourgeois exhibit there. I think her spider might still be there as a permanent display?

      1. NandorILoveYou*

        Will you rent a car? Eden Center in Northern Va has the best Vietnamese food (strongly recommend checking out Banh Mi DC). It’s also colorful and beautiful and fun.

        Jenin Bakery (also in NoVa) has great Arab sweets. It’s in a small shopping center with other Arab restaurants and grocery stores as well.

        Annendale (also NoVa but slightly further drive) has some of the best Korean BBQ places in the country. A really cool experience if you’ve never gone before!

        If you want to stay in the city, Karen is a fantastic Ethiopian restaurant in Adams Morgan. Rasika if you’re in the mood for Indian (but make a reservation!).

        For activities, I recommend a stroll down the Georgetown waterfront. It’ll be beautiful in October. And there’s a very decent brewery near the far end near the bridge. While in Georgetown, I recommend Clyde’s for lunch or dinner, and The Sovereign for happy hour (they have an amazing absinth cocktail). Also check out Baked and Wired for beautiful cupcakes.

        Let’s see, the Georgetown campus itself is worth visiting if you’ve never been. It’s a beautiful place for a stroll.

        I also recommend the Cleveland Park neighborhood – really cool, hip boutiques and restaurants, plus: the zoo!

        Eastern Market is a beautiful neighborhood. You could spend a day exploring (Library of Congress and National Botanic Gardens are both nearby) and finish up at Ambar (EXPENSIVE but delicious Balkan cuisine).

        If you head into Maryland, Bethesda has a great French cafe called Fresh Baguette. Rockville meanwhile has an amazing hole in the wall Chinese restaurant called A&J (great dim sum). There’s also a really tasty Persian place called Yekta in the area (although you will have to take your food to go as they no longer offer seating).

        Hope this helps! Happy to answer any specific questions.

      2. the work is mysterious and important*

        My partner and I walked down to the Wharf when we were there in June, and there is an amazing tiki bar (Tiki TNT)/rum distillery (Thrasher’s Rum Distillery)! We walked the length of the wharf and it had a ton of interesting places to eat/drink/look at.

      3. carcinization*

        Have you been to the Basilica? We thought it was quite something even though we’re not Catholic (or even religious).

      4. RedinSC*

        I loved the Newseum. It’s not free, but it’s pretty great.

        There are so many other museums that aren’t free, but they get great exhibits.

        There’s also History Williamsburg, right? If you haven’t been there, that could be fun.

    8. Atheist Nun*

      If you are in the mood for Indian food, I loved Saffron on Magazine Street. The food and cocktails were great.

    9. Two Dog Night*

      I loved doing a Segway tour–we were able to cover the whole French Quarter and part of Faubourg Marigny. It’s nice and flat, so the Segway is easy to use.

      If you’re into history, you can take a boat to Chalmette Battlefield, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought during the War of 1812. It’s really interesting.

      Definitely a jazz brunch. The French Market is great for quick meals.

      If you haven’t done the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 tour, it’s worth it.

    10. Large Pink Rabbit*

      Southern Food Museum! I spent so much more time there than I anticipated.

      There’s a chain of cafes called something like Two Chicks Cafe. They have the *best* grits, and their shrimp and grits is to die for.

      Grab a drink and ride the street car all the way to the end. Maybe the Halloween House will still be decorated.

      Have a Ramos Gin Fizz at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.

      Go to the Old Absinthe House and pick an absinthe off the menu.

      Beignets taste best at the Cafe Du Monde in Jackson Sq. They are cash only.

      Ask around about a second line parade on Sundays.

    11. gsa*

      If you like jazz go to the Davenport Lounge in the Ritz Carlton. Sunday through Wednesday.

      And tell Jeremy “G” said Hey!

    12. Bluebell*

      I went there with college roomie just before covid and we had a splendid time. Highlights included: visiting the large fine arts museum and sculpture garden, with beignets at the pavilion next door, lunch at Commodores Palace and wandering the cemetery across the street, St Roch food hall, Bacchanal wine bar garden in the Marigny (w/ music), hearing David Doucet play at Columns Hotel, and a nighttime stroll down Frenchmen St. and getting a pedicure on a porch swing at a nail salon- can’t remember the name though.

    13. ShroomTaDa*

      I did a ghost tour and it was actually a fantastic way to learn about the history of New Orleans. Highly recommend.

    14. Sutemi*

      We did a kayak tour through the bayou which was wonderful. Quiet so you can really see the wildlife, tons of birds, and they picked us up right in the French Quarter. I would highly recommend this over the speedboat tours of the bayou.

  7. Champagne Cocktail*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread but you can post it on the work one! – Alison

  8. M-Dub*

    Highly Recommend the subsequent books by Janice Hallet as well! (The Twyford Code & The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels.) And The Christmas Appeal is coming out in October!

    1. Still*

      Loved The Appeal, can’t seem to get into The Twyford Code. please tell me it gets better?

      1. Forensic13*

        I thought it got worse, honestly! But to be fair, there are some aspects to the mystery that are pet peeves of mine.

        1. Blomma*

          Yeah, I have to agree with this, unfortunately. I love The Appeal though and read it in one sitting!

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, personally, I thought The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels was a fair bit better. Not as good as The Appeal but certainly worth reading.

  9. Falling Diphthong*

    Books! What’s everyone reading?

    I am partway through Ellen Jovin’s Rebel with a Clause. About grammar (mostly in the context of American English), and about the feelings people have about grammar that they express when you set up a folding table and offer to answer all grammar questions and listen to all grammar rants.

    Lots of strong feelings about the Oxford comma, which I anticipated. I hadn’t expected that further/farther wasn’t just a case of people using them interchangeably out of ignorance, but of further edging out farther as farther just seems snootier and also it has that “a” vowel and who wants to even deal with that?

    1. Roland*

      I just read The Hunger Games for the first time. I was too Unique And Different back when it came out to give it chance and it’s too bad! I was the perfect age when it was released and I think I would have liked it. I mean I still enjoyed myself, but not as much as I would have as a high schooler.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I didn’t read Watership Down, my husband’s favorite book, until last year due to oversensitivity to bunny suffering. I finally did and it is exquisite, The Odyssey with rabbits, and I wish I’d read it years ago!

        1. RedinSC*

          I still haven’t read it. I started and then put it down DECADES ago because of the bunnies.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        You’re in for a treat. I love that book! (Love most of her books, although the Carol Jordan and Tony Hill series got a little too intense for me.)

        1. Autumn*

          Thanks for the recc, both of you! I just got 1979 on Hoopla, not sure how they snuck by me. I feel the same about McDermid, loved the early Jordan/Hill but got very bummed out by the later ones.

    2. Tierrainney*

      going to see “Oppenheimer” had me requesting a book by Richard Feynman, that I vaguely remember from my high school years:
      Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

      the movie did have him as a background character and I wanted to see his memmories of the Manhattan project.

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        That’s a great book. Also get his second: “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”

      2. Windaria*

        Oh I LOVED that book, and I’m not normally a big non-fiction writer. He is the most engaging, entertaining author. And what a life he lived!

    3. Ria*

      I am for sure adding that one to my TBR, it sounds really interesting.

      On the topic of further/farther, I find it fascinating that “far” is one of only a literal handful of “irregular adjectives” in English, where the comparative/superlative form isn’t created by adding “more/er” or “most/est”. The others are good/well, bad, and old (and for “old” the irregular form is just an option – “older” and “elder” are equally correct). That’s it! I’m so curious about how “far” made the list.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Looking for book recommendations–does anyone have good recs for Roman or Greek mythology? I enjoyed Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and would like to read something similar.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I haven’t read the Gaiman book, but I enjoyed Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips a lot.

      2. knitcrazybooknut*

        Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline Cooney is amazing. One of the few books I’ve read straight through, then started over. Fiction, but true to the myths.

      3. Windaria*

        The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeleine Miller were great if you’d like some Greek Mythology. I haven’t read Galatea yet, but it’s on my TBR list.

      4. Pamela Adams*

        No Salon’s The Just City trilogy. The goddess Athena decides to investigate Plato’s philosophies.

      5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m not familiar with the Gaiman book so this may be off, but Stephen Fry wrote a trilogy about Greek mythology that is just so immensely readable. The first book is “Mythos” – they’re also available in audiobook and usually I bounce off audiobooks but he narrates them himself and the style is very conversational, it really felt like Stephen Fry was sitting in the corner of my office just chatting to me about a topic that he clearly finds fascinating while I worked.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          I find this amusing because I love mythology, greatly enjoyed Gaiman’s books, and enjoy Stephen Fry as an actor, and yet bounced off Mythos.

        2. SemiAnon*

          I’ve been reading that and it’s really well done – a fairly straight up retelling of the stories, but it’s very witty and enjoyable. It’s a fairly unique tone though – you could checkout sample chapters to get an idea if you like it.

      6. Teapot Translator*

        There’s The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It’s the Illiad from the pov of the captured women.

      7. Rara Avis*

        Steven Fry: Mythos, Heroes, Troy
        Natalie Haynes has both fiction and nonfiction. Her latest is Stone Blind, a retelling of Medusa’s story.
        If you’re in the mood for snark, Percy Jackson’s Greek Myths and Greek Heroes actually have really detailed, engaging versions of lots of stories, both well-known and obscure.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Heh, most of my current knowledge of Greek mythology come from the Percy Jackson series and a children’s book series called Myth-O-Mania by Kate McMullan (first book: Have a Hot Time, Hades!) which are the Greek myths told humorously from a misunderstood Hades’s point of view.

          I will definitely check out the Stephen Fry trilogy (especially because it’s come up twice!) and some of Natalie Haynes’s books!

      8. Aneurin*

        These are older so I’m not sure how easy they are to get hold of, but growing up I loved “The God Beneath The Sea” and “The Golden Shadow”, written by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen, with *incredible* illustrations by Charles Keeping. Both are retellings of a number of Greek myths, using a framing device of the stories of Hephaestus (TGBTS) and Heracles (TGS). They were published as children’s books but are just as good for adults!

        Also beautifully illustrated (by Alan Lee), though in a very different style, are the Rosemary Sutcliff retellings of The Iliad (Black Ships Before Troy) and The Odyssey (The Wanderings of Odysseus).

      9. word nerd*

        What about reading the Odyssey (if you haven’t read it already)? I was bored by the excerpts in high school, but I really enjoyed reading the whole thing through in college.

      10. Triples is best*

        Seconding goddessoftransitory’s rec of Lost Books of the Odyssey, love that book and need to try his other stuff again. Also, not a book but a podcast that’s more like an audiobook, Gods & Lies is a Greek mythology inspired noir story. It doesn’t have the real gods but is more Greek myth-inspired.

    5. word nerd*

      I loved that book and how Jovin’s personality shone through–she seems like such a lovely person, and I would have loved to see her grammar table in person!

      I’ve been going through a stretch of books this week that haven’t been my favorite, but there’s always next week!

    6. Mitchell Hundred*

      Probably my favourite thing that I read recently was Come Prima a French graphic novel by an artist called Alfred. It’s set in the ’50s, and it’s about two Italian brothers returning home from France with their father’s ashes after not seeing each other for a decade. One review I read called it “a road trip through masculinity”, which is quite accurate.

      My only issue is that if you want the English translation, you need to buy it digitally. My physical copy is in French, which I have a passable knowledge of, but I’m certain I missed some details.

    7. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I am a little over 1/2 way through Ann Leckie’s new book, Translation State, and I am not loving it. Her other books seem to have an optimism that this one lacks – or at least they make me feel more optimistic. Plus this one has a lot of goo (literally) which is kinda gross.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          It’s not terrible just not nearly as good as the Ancillary Justice series

    8. cleo*

      I just finished How far the light reaches: a life in ten sea creatures by Sabrina Imbler. It’s non-fiction, a memoir combined with natural history by a science writer. I enjoyed it and I learned a lot of interesting facts about sea creatures, although some chapters were heavier than I expected. The author talks about their experience with many tough subjects – including homophobia, transphobia, racism, disordered eating and sexual assault. That said, it was an engrossing and enjoyable read.

      I’m looking forward to the release of The Sleeping Soldier by Aster Glenn Gray, an mm reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. A Civil War soldier is cursed by a fairy and wakes up in 1965 and is befriended by a closeted history major. I loved this author’s previous queer re-imaginings of fairy tales – Briarley (Beauty and the Beast, mm, set in WWII England) and The Wolf and the Girl (Little Red Riding Hood, ff, set in 1910s Czarist Russia).

      1. cleo*

        I enjoyed that one too! I don’t usually like noir, but I like queer women and I thought it was good.

      2. Paris Geller*

        I LOVED that one! It was perfect as a novella but I could have read 800 pages set in that world following those characters. I also think it’s really tough for authors to make you root for an established relationship, especially in such a short time frame, but I fell in love with the main characters right away.

    9. Annie Edison*

      I’m working on Chilean Poet, by Alejandro Zambra. I’m only about 100 pages in but it’s a delight- funny and real and some lovely moments of prose. Also, one of the few novels I’ve come across that features a step-parent in a leading role, which I’m finding quite refreshing as a newly-blended family member

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m finishing Mystery of Mysteries; The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe, by Mark Dawidziak. It’s a fairly quick read but well researched about Poe, his talent, and the various theories about his early and tragic demise.

    11. ThatGirl*

      Just received my copy of My Name is Iris by Brando Skyhorse. I’ve been looking forward to it for awhile, but disclaimer, he’s a friend of ours.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      Just finished: Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch about how English has evolved in the last 30 years.

      Just started: The Golem and the Jinn by Helene Wecker. Heard lots of good stuff but looking forward to sinking my teeth into it.

    13. Sparkle Llama*

      I am enjoying the People’s Hospital by Ricardo Nuila. It is about a public safety net hospital in Houston and is a combination of stories of people experiencing healthcare and analysis of the many ways the healthcare system in the US is broken.

    14. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      Finally reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and I am being swept away.

    15. GoryDetails*

      A very pleasant surprise for me:

      Hide by Kiersten White, an intriguing tale of desperate folk attempting to get through a week in a long-abandoned amusement park. (Think a hide-and-seek game writ large.) If they make it without being caught they win big money, which would be life-changing and possibly even life-saving. But the park isn’t what they imagined, nor is the “game” itself… I really enjoyed this one!

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re “found family”: me, too – and I wasn’t expecting to find it in that story, but was delighted when it turned out that way.

      1. Bluebell*

        I loved Hide! Wondering if someone will try to make it into a movie. Some excellent potential for visuals.

    16. Anthology*

      I’m on a second-person POV kick. I loved If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler and hated Hungry Ghost by Keith Kachtick. I’m thinking next will be The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin.

      1. word nerd*

        I read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler last week and thought it was so out there and fun!

      2. JustForThis*

        Another interesting second-person POV one:
        Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

    17. Heffalump*

      I just finished 52 Reasons to Hate My Father. As the book opens, first-person narrator and heiress Lexington Larrabee has just turned 18 and crashed her day-old $500,000 Mercedes into a drugstore. Musing over the events, she says she has a headache and should have gotten some aspirin from the drugstore while she was at it. If she sounds like the stereotypical spoiled rich girl, she is—Paris Hilton on steroids.

      Her 18th birthday was to be the day she came into a $25M trust fund, as her older siblings (she’s the baby of the family) did. But her father’s lawyer informs her that for the next year she’ll work 52 menial jobs, one week per job—maid, fast food worker, gravedigger. If she doesn’t complete the year to her father’s satisfaction, she’ll forfeit the trust fund. Naturally she isn’t a happy camper to hear this.

      Long story short, the situation becomes more nuanced, and the plot thickens. When I was about 2/3 through the book, I checked the reviews on Amazon, and apparently, it’s considered a YA book. I wasn’t bothered by that—I’ve enjoyed a number of YA books as an adult.

      Not great literature, but enjoyable. I didn’t say, “That’s X hours I’ll never get back.”

    18. Jackalope*

      I just finished Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher, and loved it. The premise is intriguing: the first POV character is a Paladin whose god dies in the first few pages of the book (we have no idea why). He and his other Paladin friends that survive the sudden and traumatic change are trying to figure out what life means without their deity. Then he meets someone and falls in love, and there are Adventures and Hijinks. T Kingfisher is a lovely author and the book was fun and playful, and well worth the read.

      I also read one of her other books, A House With Good Bones, but didn’t enjoy that one nearly as much. It was a horror novel, which is not my thing. I knew she wrote horror, but didn’t realize that book was horror until I was far enough in that I decided to finish it. She’s still a great author and I’d recommend the book for anyone who enjoys that genre, if it wasn’t for me.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Kingfisher is awesome! I *do* like horror, and while A House With Good Bones isn’t my favorite of her creepy books it definitely had its points. (Also, a surprisingly cute vulture.)

        I’ve read one of the “Paladin” books, and also the entertaining Swordheart – it’s set in the Paladin-verse but is a standalone, and it introduced me to a priest of the White Rat, a refreshingly practical figure for a fantasy-series religion!

        Given your screenname you’ve probably already read this, but Kingfisher’s short-story collection Jackalope Wives and Other Stories is delightful.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I love her books so far–Husband is reading House with Good Bones and enjoying it, and I liked What Moves the Dead a lot, especially the matter of fact usage of the equivalent of they/them pronouns for the protagonist.

    19. Amort Blaine*

      Reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and just finished her Other Birds. After abandoning She Who Became the Sun due to the grim darkness of it, I realized I needed something relatively light and fluffy and hopeful for right now. I’d love more recommendations in this vein— sort of Maeve Binchy or Alexander McCall Smith with a fantasy or magical realism twist!

    20. Bluebell*

      Finally got Happy Place by Emily Henry from the library. Seems more predictable than her others, but still fizzy. Vampire Weekend by Mike Chen was a pleasant surprise, and a great fit if you like punk/new wave plus vampires. Just started If it Sounds like a Quack, about medical quackery in America. It’s sort of choppy. Am hoping it will get better.

    21. carcinization*

      Recently finished Eason’s How the Multiverse Got its Revenge, which I unfortunately didn’t like nearly as much as its predecessor. It was still okay but I guess I wish my last library book of the summer was something that I was more into.

    22. PhyllisB*

      I’m reading Oscar Wars by Michael Schulman right now, and enjoying it, but it’s intense, and I feel like I’m reading a textbook. Have to take a break and read something lighter in between.
      It’s certainly sent me to Google to read about some of these stars.

    23. PhyllisB*

      This is a question for Irish Teacher, but anyone is welcome to chime in. I belong to a Facebook group called Women Reading Great Books (lots of fun, but if you join expect your TBR list to grow by leaps and bounds.)
      One of the members loved Maeve Binchy and wanted recommendations for other Irish writers. I mentioned Sharon Owen and Felicity Hayes-McCoy. Do you have other suggestions?

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Patricia Scanlan is another Irish woman writer who writes in a similar style (though perhaps a little more modern) to Maeve Binchy and was a friend of hers and inspired by her.

        Marita Conlon-McKenna is a brilliant writer, though a lot of her best known books are children’s. She has some books for adults too.

        Marian Keyes I personally think a bit over-rated, but she is very popular.

        This is a book rather than an author, but Foster by Claire Keegan, which they just made a beautiful film of (but the film is in Irish; the book is in English though).

        1. PhyllisB*

          Thank you so much!! I will check these authors out myself because I also love Irish authors.

      2. Rose is a rose is a rose*

        Emma Donoghue is Irish-Canadian. Room is perhaps her most well-known book but it is VERY dark. However her more recent book, The Pull of the Stars, is very good if quite graphic. It’s set in a Dublin maternity ward in November 1918, as WWI is coming to a close and the influenza epidemic is ramping up.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yes, I remember when Room came out. I read the reviews and decided that was a bit too much for me. I don’t expect everything I read to be light and fun, but I know myself, and anything too dark or has abuse/violence in it is just too upsetting to me.
          The second one sounds interesting, so I will look for it. Thank you. And yes, I know I wasn’t asking for myself, but if I discover something new and enjoyable too well, win-win.

        2. Onomatopoetic*

          I loved Emma Donoghue’s Hood. It’s well written, but of course a bit sad. I should read something else by her.

        3. Irish Teacher*

          Room is amazing. I’d also recommend Haven, if you want something pretty Irish. It’s about monks trying to set up the community on Scelig Michael. It does get quite dark in its own way, in the sense of trying to survive on a bare rock and these are 7th century monks so there are references to pretty harsh penances – think standing for hours.

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

      Just finished *Killers of a Certain Age*. Not sure what’s next.

    25. Ali + Nino*

      Leave It to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse (recommended here!). Much funnier than I was expecting.

    26. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I love the reading threads!
      Does anyone have recommendations for clean mf contemporary romance audiobooks (preferably set in England) that aren’t too cringe?

  10. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Welcome new feline friends! Does this mean your household cat count is now up to 8?

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        That’s awesome. We had six for a brief moment in time, and have been sinking lower in numbers as time passes.

      2. Clarbar*

        Years ago, we had 4 family cats and would foster litters of kittens (usually between 5wks to 6mo old), sometimes ending up with 10 cats in the house at once. It was an absolute blast. We never foster-failed, though there are two kittens that I still miss! (Miles Davis, a floofy orange goofball, and Velly Bean, a tiny disaster of a blue tabby who came to us at 6wks old recovering from basically full-body ringworm. She was just growing her fur back, so was covered in peach fuzz and tiny for her age. She was such a big personality for a tiny thing!)

        1. Clarbar*

          Though cancer-driven attrition, we’re now down to a single 17 year old cranky calico. My oldest is lobbying for more cats, and I would love to oblige, but he leaves for college in a year. For now, I’m just waiting to see if the Cat Distribution System hands us anyone new.

      3. Anthology*

        My township actually limits you to 6 cats/dogs in total. I’ve had to turn down foster litters that are too big.

      4. sswj*

        A houseful of cats is work, but so worth it all. I had twelve, then a tough year last year brought me to 10. On Tuesday there was a screaming little face in a tree next to my house, and now I’m back to 11. I don’t know what I’d do without my furry herd <3

        1. Cj*

          I made the mistake of telling my husband about Alison’s cats, and about your house full. now he thinks our six cats doesn’t sound like nearly enough. we do have four dogs, too, so that should count for something.

  11. NoSoggyBottoms*

    I finally got a chance to watch the true Season 1 and 2 of Great British Baking and have slowly been rewatching the seasons … How do you all think an American would do? Do you think the tastes and styles are so different that, even if the American knew what the dishes were, the cooking preferences are just too out of synch?

    We were discussing it because in Season 4 (I think), they made a two crust fruit pie and the podcast I listen to was discussing how that’s just not a thing in British (and the chefs seemed to agree during the episode) even though it’s very common in America.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Every time they make cookies and Mary Berry insists on CRISP, I wonder how she would do in the face of a nice big soft chocolate chip cookie.

      1. NoSoggyBottoms*

        Exactly! While I enjoy a crispy cookie, I also love a nice soft gooey chocolate chip.

    2. Gigi*

      Paul Hollywood has no concept of Americans or American desserts. Every time they try to do something vaguely American, it’s an excuse to trash American desserts for being too sweet. (I say this as an American with no belief in our exceptionalism except maybe in our pecan pie. Don’t be coming for my DiDi’s signature dessert, Paul.) And I still have trauma from the “Mexican” episode last season. Shudder.

      1. PollyQ*

        it’s an excuse to trash American desserts for being too sweet

        Which is pretty funny, considering that they also frequently complain that dark chocolate desserts are too bitter.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I wish there had been an American baker in the room to react to the “s’mores” challenge!

    3. Crylo Ren*

      There have actually been a few seasons of Bake Off with American bakers! One as recent as this year (you can watch it on Roku). The challenges on the American versions do seem easier than the ones on the original but that may just be because the American seasons tend to be way shorter and more seasonally focused.

      I will say Paul in the latest season has been wayyyy nicer and easygoing about American baking tradition than he has been.

    4. Old and Don’t Care*

      The Roku Channel has a new Great American Show with Paul and Prue that was pretty good. (Actually not sure how new but it was new to me.). Paul and Prue seemed to accept and even enjoy American baking for what it is.

      One thing I always notice in shows like this, or cooking blogs or recipe sites, is how much less codified American cooking and baking is. We don’t have as many named recipes or dishes, and we play pretty fast and loose with the ones we have. The point of the GBBS, of course, is to create an original spin on a defined dish, but we don’t have near as many defined dishes. (Jaffa cakes! Bakewell tarts! Madeira cakes! Drizzle cakes!).

      It can be funny when the different traditions encounter each other. I remember on one of Giada’s shows she was cooking with her aunt Raffy. Giada started chopping onions, and Raffy said the onions were sliced for this dish. Giada said well, I’m chopping them, and aunt Raffy insisted she was not making the dish. And don’t even get people started on Italian American lasagna, with ricotta cheese.

    5. Double A*

      Last season I couldn’t help giggling when they were so blown away by the flavor combination of peanuts and fruit, both pureed into a, you know, butter and jelly.

    6. Loopy*

      I think about this all the time! I love to bake and my baking style is so over the top (death by chocolate, but add on or caramel, etc) I definitely laugh when people think I should be on a baking show.

      My baking has no finesse and I think they like much more original flavors and subtlety on this show than you see in lot of typical American baking.

    7. londonedit*

      Two-crust fruit pies are definitely a thing here. Definitely not as popular as in the US, I’d say, and there isn’t an occasion where we use them for celebratory purposes, so I guess they don’t hold quite the same cultural weight as they do in the US. But they’re definitely a thing! My grandma used to make a really lovely apple pie.

      I think anyone who knows what the various bakes are could succeed on Bake Off. Loads of people of different nationalities have competed and brought their own flavours to things. Some of Paul’s opinions are definitely personal ones and not indicative of what British people in general think!

      Also yeah we absolutely know what cookies are. You can buy them in every supermarket. A cookie here is specifically the American style of softer bake and larger size – biscuits are smaller and hard-baked and crunchy. But we have both. And we know what peanut butter and jam is – again, it’s not culturally pervasive like it is in the US, so you don’t have that childhood nostalgia thing, but peanut butter is available everywhere in several different forms (from the stuff that’s packed with salt and sugar to the 100% peanuts stuff) and people absolutely understand peanut butter and jam as a concept.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I love the Great British Baking Show, but sometimes it seems that they’re pushing the “never heard of this before” aspect – didn’t they get all weird about angel food cake on one episode? [Maybe that was mainly an American thing, but I’d have thought it was sufficiently well-known that it wouldn’t flummox the British cooks!]

      Side note: I’ve been watching the Great Australian Bake Off as well – I enjoy seeing the Australian flora and fauna, and many of the bakes feature Australian ingredients that are pretty rare in the US.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah again angel food cake isn’t a traditional British cake but if you’re going on the Bake Off surely you’re going to know about all the different kinds of cake!

    9. TheDaneGirl*

      Have you watched The Great Canadian Baking Show? If not, you absolutely must, and not just because of Bruno Feldeisen and Dan Levy!

  12. Irish Teacher*

    There was a comment about thesises (or whatever the plural is) on the post about office traditions. So just wondering, anybody who has done a thesis or undergrad final year project or any other personally chosen research topic, what did you choose?

    My “final year project” for my degree was on nationalism in the poetry of Thomas Moore and Thomas Davis (nationalism in the sense of the movement for Irish independence, not in the far-right meaning) and how they used their poetry to inspire people to support the idea of an independent Ireland.

    1. Aitch Arr*

      Ok so albeit this was in 1997, but my senior year independent study for my French major was on using the World Wide Web in teaching high school French.

      I hand coded (!) a sample website that could be used by a high school French teacher, including a syllabus, links, required reading, and of course, an animated GIF of the Eiffel Tower acting more like a pogo stick.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That must have been really interesting back then as the World Wide Web was just becoming a “big thing.” Our secondary school had only gotten the internet maybe…two years previously or so?

      2. Observer*

        Given the time frame, that was really forward looking!

        How did your adviser / instructor take it? I’ve known at least one who would have failed me just for the topic, but not told me that and instead nit pick it to death.

        It would be fascinating to revisit that and then compare it with current resources and technology.

    2. maybe*

      I’ve done two, for MSc, PhD. In my experience (north america, sciences) you don’t really get much choice – you could propose your own, but generally your supervisor has a bunch of loose ends they’d like tied up (more so for MSc than PhD), so a project is generally proposed. So for MSc, I calculated the probably that a specific sub-atomic particle would decay in a specific way. (answer: very unlikely, less than 1 in 10 billion decays. Pion decay via the weak force). for my PhD, someone had done an analytical calculation of a phase transition (from liquid to solid), and I did computer simulations to explore this phase transition.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        My brother did a science degree and I don’t think he got much choice for his undergraduate final project or whatever the equivalent was either.

        We did get a list of topics to choose from, but they were fairly broad and we had a lot of choice within them. I think the option I chose was something like “literature and Irish nationalism”.

      2. ThesisTopicsInScience*

        Interesting. That’s not not been my experience at all. I went to top5 science schools both undergrad and grad (physics). For my undergraduate honors thesis as long as I could convince someone to take on my idea as an advisor I could do it (original research). People were dinged for not coming up with ideas and doing whatever their advisor suggested (and at least two people my year were dismissed from the program for lack of a good idea). For my required first year grad research project we were encouraged to do what we want as long as it was on/related to a topic that had multiple recent papers published (review paper, drawing original conclusions on other people’s research). For my master’s thesis I had picked my own topic in his general field and got it approved by my intended advisor. When he had to drop out of the arrangement I jointly picked a new topic with his replacement (who, sadly, was in a completely different field). Had I stayed to finish my Ph.D., my dissertation would have also been my choice but with approval of my advisor. Had I wished it/transferred to the math dept, the math dept would have also accepted my master’s thesis even without math dept faculty involvement (it had some interesting math applications) but I couldn’t use it for both depts. The other papers I wrote were for specific classes; I was able to choose topics within the parameters of the class and they were only evaluated within that context (mostly review papers) and not up for any kind of department review/defense process like the others.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      My degree is in drama and theatre studies, so was very practical and I didn’t get to write a thesis. But in my second year, I got to do a special performance project, where all of your classes for one term are devoted to workshopping, devising and rehearsing a full-length piece. Ours was based on King Lear, re-told from the point of view of the servants. Unfortunately, it was a good idea but not very well-executed due to the guy we chose to be our dramaturg being arrogant and a bit too controlling and coming up with ideas that nobody felt comfortable vetoing.

      I played one of the servants and my character ended up getting tortured to death (fortunately off-stage) because Dramaturg Dude didn’t like me! It was a pretty interesting and useful experience overall in spite of the final production not being great.

      I wish I’d waited until my final year to do a performance project, though, because most of the other people in the class were final year students and already knew each other well. Since I was a bit of an outsider, I didn’t often have the confidence to stand up and challenge the group consensus.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yeah, I kind of hope that someone steals that idea and makes a better theatre piece out of it!

    4. BlueCactus*

      My senior thesis (for honors in my history bachelor’s degree) was on 16th century European mapmaking and its influence on colonialism.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I love it! As a history (and English) teacher from a country the colonisation of which is generally considered to have been completed at the very start of the 17th century, I think that sounds really worthy of study. (And that is a really clunky sentence, but the colonisation of Ireland went back and forth for quite a while, from about the 12th to the end of the 16th century.)

        1. Aine*

          Irish Teacher, if you’re interested in pursuing this topic there’s an historian at the Dundalk Institute of Technology, Annaleigh Margey, who did her PhD thesis on ‘Mapping during the Irish Plantations, 1550-1636’. Her academia.edu page lists a number of articles that look at the theme of mapping and colonization in Ireland in the Early Modern period: https://dkit.academia.edu/AnnaleighMargey. Nessa Cronin, at the University of Galway, did her PhD thesis on William Petty, whose 17th century maps of confiscated land at the county, baronial, and parish level, are often the earliest detailed maps for most of Ireland. It looks like she’s since moved on to other projects, but published at least one article on this theme: ‘Writing the ‘New Geography’: Cartographic Discourse and Colonial Governmentality in William Petty’s Political Anatomy of Ireland (1672)’.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      One of the English senior seminar classes during my senior year focused on Pride & Prejudice and was taught by a professor who also did Film Studies. It was the best!! We watched basically every movie version in existence and he brought in an Austen scholar to give us feedback.

      1. word nerd*

        That sounds amazing! I took an Austen seminar in college but would have loved to focus on just P&P and movie versions of it! What was your favorite adaptation?

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I think it’s a tie between the Colin Firth one and Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which actually hadn’t been made yet during the class. Both have fantastic casts and are the truest to the book – the BBC one because so much of the script is lifted straight from the original, and the YouTube series because it captures the spirit of the story so effectively while also making it relevant to a modern audience. I get a kick out of the Bollywood one and the Laurence Olivier, which takes the biggest liberties and tried to bank on the popularity of Gone With the Wind by using the same costumes lol. I hate the Keira Knightley one SO MUCH and feel super sad for people who were introduced to the story that way.

          1. JustForThis*

            Those are my favourite two as well! The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are a genius idea perfectly executed. Tremendous fun.

      2. Me... Just Me (as always)*

        No final thesis. My masters is clinical, so I had about 1000 hours of clinical work during my master’s program. Then national boards to pass.

    6. Lexi Vipond*

      Theses, I think, like crises and analyses, but it’s one of the kind that looks wrong whatever you do.

    7. Jane Bingley*

      In law school, I wrote a major paper on the impact of polygamy on social assistance systems. It was as obscure as it sounds!

      I’d originally intended to write a paper on the impacts of the legalization of polygamy (which was up for debate in my country at the time) and caught a weird issue around social assistance – because only the first marriage in a polygamous family is legal, the rest of the wives are legally unemployed single moms, and so the social assistance benefits are relatively generous compared to their actual living situation. It started out as a footnote and I couldn’t let it go. It ended up becoming a 50-page paper.

    8. Claire*

      My Honours dissertation was on the changing representation of the feminine divine in India and how it intersects with, influences and reflects political, social and cultural movements throughout history. Beginning with the text of the Devi Mahatmya and going up to contemporary (1990s) Indian literature and art.

    9. cleo*

      My senior independent study in history was on the actions and experiences of British women during WWII. This was in 1991 so I spent a lot of time visiting libraries, using inter library loans and reading microfilm versions of contemporary newspapers. It was a great experience. I probably still have my box of notecards somewhere.

      For my MFA (master of fine art) in product design, I designed a web based doll (using a now mostly defunct programming language) and I also wrote a research paper related to my topic.

        1. I take tea*

          I once heard a scholar talk about how history research has changed when more newspapers are available online, instead of just on microfilm, because that kind of material is so much more accessible now.

    10. Anon for This*

      Without giving away too much identifying information – my master’s thesis was generally about bearing witness, memory, and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa.

    11. Forensic13*

      I did a thesis (master’s) on the rhetoric of online discussion of the Mandela effect.

      Because I was hyper focusing on that at the time and because I could!

    12. Anthology*

      My master’s thesis involved creating a UI for smart light bulbs to adjust for red-green color blindness. It had major settings for the most common types of deuteranopia and protanopia, but could also be customized, based on some in-system testing by the user. (There was also a paper outlining the research and testing, but the practical build was the bulk of the thesis.)

      It was inspired by my husband needing help using a Drano product because the safety information was in red text on a yellow background. It was completely invisible to him. He didn’t even realize there was writing on that section of the label, because there was black text lower down. A noxious dangerous product, with zero thought given to safety and accessibility. (He does have the color-blindness sunglasses, but they require so much brightness to work that they are not functional indoors.)

      It’s outdated now, but a few family members and friends were thankful to have it at the time. These days, those bulbs all come with their own apps.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        wow that’s amazing. and makes you think about so many product labels.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I opted for a comp final rather than a big paper for my masters program completion, so basically the equivalent of six final class papers from three instructors that I had a week to write from scratch. The capstones for my second bachelor in Health Information Management – I had to do two, one on a leadership topic and one on a general topic – were analyses on (1) the fine art of managing medical coders and (2) reasons for and possible solutions to the inappropriate use of emergency rooms as primary care.

      But the paper that I’ve written that I enjoyed writing the most was in a 100-level history class, titled “How A Piece of Paper (and 3 Cigars) Saved the Union”.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Really simplified cliff notes version (actually the summary paragraph to the paper because I am bad at telling the short version :) :

          Being handed a copy of Lee’s Special Order 191 [which had been found dropped by a courier, wrapped in a packet with three cigars] gave McClellan just enough foreknowledge to keep Lee’s Maryland Campaign from being successful. The ability to claim the Battle of Antietam as a victory gave Abraham Lincoln the moral high ground to issue the Emancipation Proclamation from a place of power, where it had some teeth behind it. The Proclamation fully turned the war into a referendum on slavery, resulting in a dearth of outside assistance willing to support the South and risk being viewed as pro-slavery. Without outside assistance, the Confederacy fell in a war of attrition, and the Union remained whole. All because of one piece of paper, wrapped around three cigars.

          (Yes I know there’s more to the whole thing, like I said this is a simple version.)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Exactly! There’s actually a whole 11-book series of alternative history that starts with a Confederate picket hollering after a courier going “Hey, you dropped something” and the courier turning back to pick up the packet and giving the picket the cigars as a thank you, heh. As a result Lee’s Maryland incursion succeeded, the CSA remained independent from and fiercely antagonistic with the USA, and World War 1 and 2 both had North American fronts as well as European etc. It really is the little stuff.

    14. anon for this*

      Mine was on translation/localization changes in anime localized for the American children’s broadcast market in the late 90s, and what we can infer about American ideas of child-appropriate topics by the changes made.

      This was for a B.A. in communication with a particular interest in mass media/popular culture, so it was less about anime or Japanese pop culture per se and rather about that being one of the few “outside”/translated mass market things in American children’s media at that moment so a good target for being able to see a before and after to look at changes made.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      No one’s ever asked me about my undergrad thesis and I was inordinately proud of it. I described the 1904 collapse of an 11 story building during construction and looked at the building regulations that changed as a result. I stressed the lag in revising building codes was a failure to prevent the failure. I also idealistically suggested building designs and construction techniques should follow academic best practices…after decades in a regulated part of the buildingindustry, I smile sadly at thinking regs could change so fast.

      Others have published on the subject since then, with much greater technical detail and less undergraduate pontificating.

      In case you liked “Why Buikdings Fall Down”, I’ll give you a link to a historic New York Times article published shortly after the collapse:
      https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1904/03/09/118944022.html?pageNumber=8

    16. history geek*

      Undergrad – change in views on gender and same-sex pairings in Japan from roughly 1600 to early 1900s
      Grad – study on the social sustainability of a particular form of tradition Chinese medicine in SE Asia

    17. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      My Masters was in Choral Conducting, so instead of a thesis, I prepared and performed a concert! Small groups doing Renaissance music and different versions of O Heiland, reiss die Himmel auf, and the big piece was Kodaly’s Missa Brevis with the sophomore choir.

    18. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      Covering a wide array of topics was my favourite part of studying at university! For my B.A. in geography and social science I had to do a thesis as well as a research project. The thesis analyzed how major political parties conceptualize “natural” space and environmental issues in their policy platforms and in public discussions, while the research project looked at the influence of social distance on ethic choices, by doing a survey on similar ethical dilemmas but with different degrees of social distance (think neighbours versus strangers) and functions (i.e. workers versus civilians).

      My M.A. was in political science (major) and sociology (minor), and my thesis compared the concept of civic duty in three countries, again with the help of a survey. I quite struggled with the master thesis overall, though, and finishing was a race against time, so I wasn’t quite satisfied with how it turned out (even though it still mostly turned out fine).

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Love that idea of comparing the concept of civic duty in three countries. I’ve noticed that even in countries that I would consider to have similar cultural influences to Ireland, like the UK, the US, Australia…there are slightly different (and sometimes very different) views of stuff like that and we all think ours “the norm.”

        The ethical choice stuff sounds really interesting too.

    19. I'm just here for the cats!*

      English Major with writing emphasis here. my senior thesis was An Analysis of Text Messaging Lingo and Its Effect on the English Language. Basically it was an rhetorical argument that text speak has no different change on the language than any other technological advancement (printing press, telegram, etc).

    20. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I did my BA thesis on the intersection of gender and genre in Stig Larsson’s Millenium trilogy. I still have my paperbacks with all my color coded sticky notes sticking out of them haha.

      My MA thesis might be too identifying but in broad strokes I looked at the publishing history of a highly controversial book and why it was being re-published at that time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Six :)

      I really think we would have held our resolve this time if Stella hadn’t gotten so sick. (She is doing well! Only halfway through treatment for the FIP though.)

      1. esemess*

        Alison, if there were no limits, how many cats would you like to have in your household?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Well, six seemed pretty perfect while we were six. We’ll have to see how eight goes — it’s felt like a big jump because two of them have serious illnesses now (Stella with FIP and Hank with cancer and that’s been a lot of work). But in terms of household harmony, it’s pretty nice — they all get along and it’s fun to watch their relationships with each other. I’m sure it would be very different if they didn’t all get along. (We wouldn’t have adopted these last two if they didn’t, though.) I did tell my husband that we could have a Jon and Kate Plus Eight style show of our own now, but for some reason he didn’t seem pleased with that.

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            They’d want to create dramas between the cats to have a more exciting show. NOPE

          2. FashionablyEvil*

            Now I am picturing a new version of the AAM logo with a Kate haircut and maybe a dude with an Ed Hardy shirt…

      2. Clarbar*

        I am just so thrilled that FIP is considered treatable now. We lost a kitten more than 15 years ago to FIP and I still miss him.

  13. Be the Change*

    Indeed they are, and is anyone surprised at this outcome? No!

    Happy happy kitties will live their best life forever now. <3

  14. Jackalope*

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

    I’m still working on Stardew Valley; I’m about halfway through year 3, and just got married! It is my first run through so everything still feels new and shiny.

    1. Katydid*

      Age of Wonders 4, Crusader Kings 3, and Wildermyth; waiting for the early access to Life By You to come out on Steam (March 2024 is the newly revised date). I’m one of the many original-game simmers who grew weary of EA’s handling of the Sims’ series. Of the listed games, CK3 (especially with the Tours and Tournaments pack; I’ve been having a blast!) comes closest to scratching the simming itch—I’ve even managed to rotate between three dynasties, like rotational households, though the game is definitely not designed for that!

      AOW4 was a mistake for me, as it’s all about the tactical combat. Using auto-combat to resolve all battles = skipping most of the game. The faction customization is awesome, but the actual gameplay isn’t for me. Pity.

      I liked Stardew Valley but the interface (all the clicking) was too painful for me. I never could manage to make fishing work! Glad you’re enjoying it, Jackalope!

      1. Jackalope*

        I’m playing on the Switch; if I were playing in a PC I’d probably have the same issue as you!

    2. Caaan Do!*

      I have spent….more hours than I want to think about in Stardew Valley, that game is amazing! I’m currently replaying Assassins Creed Odyssey but my recent obsession before that was Psychonauts 2.

      One game I always felt was underrated and always love to recommend is Okami – it’s a platformer adventure with an absolutely gorgeous art style, you’re the sun goddess Amaterasu in wolf form restoring life to a world ravaged by demons by drawing shapes on the landscape using a celestial paint brush (I don’t think I’m describing it very well, if you google it it is waaaay better than I’m making it sound :))

      These were all, apart from SDV on PC, on xbox, although all available on playstation as well for the console players out there.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m going to GenCon Sunday morning and looking forward to picking up something new :)

        1. Nicki Name*

          There’s always Gen Con Online! I’m attending it right now from the comfort of my own home.

          1. The Dude Abides*

            At some point, I want to go, but it’ll need the right lineup of MtG artists so that I can get stuff signed, which sadly can’t be done online

    4. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I’ve discovered the wonderful world of Pokemon romhacks. Currently chugging along in Theta Emerald EX and making delighted noises when a starter pokemon just up and pops out of some tall grass.

    5. Waiting on the bus*

      I need to pick Stardew Valley up again. I was on year 4 of my first play through when my attention just… wandered away.

      I’m currently playing Digimon Cybersleuth and ignoring the story in favour of grinding and digivolving all my little critters.
      I want an Angewomon because she was my absolute favourite as a kid and while grinding for her I’m just playing around with my other Digimon. Who knew there were so many dinosaur Digimon?

    6. anon24*

      I started Baldurs Gate 3 last night. I wasn’t going to get it, but all the early reviews were so good I couldn’t help it. I sat down to play and ended up losing track of time and playing til almost 5am this morning :) It’s wonderful so far.

        1. anon24*

          I was up until 6 am again playing it. I downloaded it Thursday at dinnertime and by this morning (Saturday) at 6am when I finally realized I needed to shut down and go to bed I had over 19 hours in already, only 36 hours later. Its veerrrrry good

          1. Katydid*

            Spouse has also been gripped by BG3 fever! Says it’s very compelling. (Makes having insomnia less miserable, too!)

            1. anon24*

              It feels sort of like Skyrim in that you go to do one more thing quick before you log off and then next thing you know the sun is rising…

              The world is cool, the story is cool, the characters are interesting, I can’t step away from it. I’m not even done Act 1 and I’m already excited to start another playthrough and be able to see how it plays out doing things a different way, not that I’m unhappy with how this playthrough is going.

      1. Shy Platypus*

        Super excited to get started on BG3 tonight as well! I’m a DOS Stan who basically spent her honermoon in Rivellon (game came out just around pour wedding) so a new Larian game is very much a treat to M. Platypus and me.

    7. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I am approaching 500 days in Animal Restaurant and trying for Level 7 Aromatic Acorn. I love the game; the art appeals to me, and there’s enough variety to keep me happily entertained.

      I’m glad I started it when I did, though, as you can’t get one of the characters without connecting the game to a social media account, and with Twitter toast it’s harder to create a burner social media account for the purpose.

    8. Bookgarden*

      I just ran my first real D&D session with my partner tonight! Just prior we had an intro story session that set the scene and introduced him to his patron (hexblade warlock). It didn’t allow for much creativity but was fun. I’ve only played D&D once, which was a recent how-to-play one shot online, so it’s a bit overwhelming but a lot of fun. I’m the DM and also playing a tabaxi druid to support him, and he’s a dragonborn hexblade warlock. We’re doing the Dragon of Icespire Peak and we both had a lot of fun.

      I’m really excited because I have a lot of activities planned. Neverwinter will be available, and if he goes, I will have a poker and blackjack tournament available that he can play if he’d like. The card games will be played with a real deck of cards with tokens that he’ll enter into his character sheet as silver and gold pieces. If he chooses to cheat and passes a sleight of hand check, I’ll figure out a way to let him choose a new advantageous card and add it to his hand.

      I also thought as a break one session my tabaxi could introduce a new type of game she discovered from a local, called a TTRPG (yes, kind of meta), where we’ll play Honey Heist set in the Sword Coast. At the moment we appear to be building a small army of ticked-off, displaced monsters and brave villagers to go after the dragon. So far so good!

      1. Katydid*

        Congratulations! :D (My sole D&D experience was long ago; I recognize some of the species you named only because I’ve bought figurines for an in-law who runs a game now & then. Setting up your own campaigns sounds fun—and time-consuming!)

        1. Bookgarden*

          Thank you, it was fun! You’re right, it’s very time-consuming, I have more free time than my partner so it made sense for me to be the DM. I think I need to come up with a way to expedite this process though since it’s taking so long. This is going to be our new “date night” routine, so I thought activities like the poker games and Honey Heist might be good fillers when I don’t have the next session ready.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve been letting off steam from work at the Festival of the Four Winds in Guild Wars 2… to the detriment of my mouse hand. It is probably for the best that my week off work is when it’s ending!

    10. Saddesklunch*

      I’ve been playing Hollow Knight and I’m not good at it at all but I’m having a lot of fun!

      I love getting to unlock and explore new areas but the obstacle course stuff is the worst for me – I didn’t grow up playing video games and so I don’t have the muscle memory to be good yet.

  15. esemess*

    Curious about peoples’ protocols with online dating when the communication hasn’t left the apps yet. Do you tell people you are bowing out? Do you unmatch? How long do you message/chat on an app before you move to another medium (in person, text, whatever)?

    AND! I would love to hear stories of people finding partnership/love either on an app and/or post-35.

    1. Linda*

      The common advice is to move off the app and to an in person meeting as soon as possible, else you’re stuck in casual messaging mode forever. It’s polite to say something like “I don’t think this is a match, but best of luck finding what you’re looking for!” but I don’t know how common that is versus just unmatching.

    2. serenity by Jan*

      Hmmm… I feel like usually the conversation just fizzles out? I would unmatch someone who was uglier than I thought, giving bad vibes, or being wildly offensive, but otherwise I don’t unmatch because those people then get thrown back in your pool of matches again (after a certain amount of time). I find checking the apps to be cumbersome, but people having your contact info is worse, so unless you either get an amazing feeling about the person or have gone on a date with them, I would not share a phone number, etc.
      Go on lots of dates, but only in public places (and not your favorite places), and make sure to tell a trusted person about your whereabouts. Be clear about what you want- it will weed out people you really don’t want to be with, even if it leads to them rejecting you.
      I met my partner on an app, and I swiped right because they liked cats! We talked for over a month before I met them in person because I have body hang ups and A History. It started as a more physical thing that would be fun and uncomplicated. 5 years later, it is still fun!

    3. random username*

      Ooh me! I met my partner on OKCupid when I was 34 (okay so not quite post-35, but I turned 35 a few months into our relationship so I think it counts?). We’ve been together for 3.5 years now, living together for 1.5, and are starting to look at engagement rings. Our relationship has also survived a pandemic, post-divorce stresses, the loss of a parent, a multi-state move, and adjusting from single+childless to living with a partner+two pre-teens. I’m not gonna lie, it’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows, but also he’s by the far the best man I’ve ever met. Which is saying a lot because I’ve been on and off dating apps for a solid 10 years and been on a LOT of dates.
      It’s totally possible to find someone good, but it does take patience and a weird mix of being willing to put yourself out there with people you might not otherwise connect with, while also being really really clear and firm on what your wants and needs are. A good sense of humor helps too, because honestly, people are ridiculous sometimes. Sending you all the good vibes for your dating adventures!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >”…it does take patience and a weird mix of being willing to put yourself out there with people you might not otherwise connect with, while also being really really clear and firm on what your wants and needs are.”

        This is an excellent summary of my experience so far (eight-ish months on various sites)! I have the additional complication of seeking someone who shares my (minority) religious/cultural background. I’ve learned to be clear, polite, and brief in saying why I appreciate the other person’s interest but prefer to choose someone from my own community.
        (My way won’t work for everybody. That’s totally fine! This is just what works best for me.)

    4. Filosofickle*

      Not exactly a happily-ever-after as we split after 4 years, but i met my ex on Tinder when we were both in our 40s. We met fast (my third app date) and fell in love hard — I hope lightning will strike twice.

      My goal is to get to in-person within 1 week (max 2) of matching. I don’t want any interim steps — chat on the platform, set up the date, have the date, then exchange phone numbers if we’re both interested. I don’t give out my contact info to someone I haven’t met and i don’t like to drag things out!

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      I was 38 at the time (I’m now 52, so no advice on norms) but I vividly remember meeting my wife at someone else’s wedding. After talking a bit, we both realized that we had come up as potential matches on the dating site we were both using. We’d read each other’s profiles and had both decided “nah (click).” Today is our eleventh anniversary.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Ha! Similar for me. I was 37 and my now husband was 29 when we met IRL through a friend.

        We were both on OKCupid, but I had filtered out people who lived in the suburbs and he had filtered out people more than 5 years older. When we took off the filters, it turns out OKC had predicted a 95% match for us. We’re still together 13 years later.

    6. Generic Name*

      I think I only ever bothered to unmatch two dudes. If communication on the app wasn’t working out, I just let it fizzle out. I only officially ended things if we went on a date.

      And as for success stories, I met my husband online at age 38. :) He’s amazing. He’s grilling steaks right now, and just bought me flowers.

    7. Alex*

      If the conversation isn’t going anywhere on the app, I just stop responding. Usually this is because the person said something last, but it didn’t move the conversation along. Like if I said, “what’s your favorite color” and they said “blue” but didn’t ask me my favorite color or ask another question…I just don’t continue talking.

      Otherwise, if we are having any kind of reasonable conversation, I just ask to meet up. I don’t like texting forever and I just want to meet in person.

      If someone weirds me out or does something I really don’t like, then yeah I just unmatch with them. I’ve only had to do that once.

      If I go out on a date with someone and then decide after that I’m not into it, I send them a message saying it was nice meeting them but I don’t think we vibed and then I unmatch with them.

    8. OyHiOh*

      I generally try to meet within a few days of matching, and move off the app messaging service certainly by the time we finish the coffee/whatever first meeting. Here’s my thing – I talk, a lot, and I’m interested in lots of things so if an app based chat can’t get past how we all arrived in the place where we live, in a reasonable amount of time, I’m going to unmatch. I don’t usually say so and I usually give it two or three days to account for people being busy (I am too!).

      So those who remember this user name like four years back might vaguely recall a romance that began as a friendship and gradually morphed into more than friends. We were a couple officially for a few months less than 4 years. Over the last couple months, I’ve come out publicly as queer and our relationship has evolved back to friendship and now I’m dating in my mid 40’s

      I keep hearing how awful dating in middle age is and, maybe I’m doing it wrong? Because it hasn’t been particularly awful for me. Maybe because I’m not selecting within typical male/female binary? IDK but it’s been fun. I’ve made a couple really good new friends. I’ve been stood up a couple times for coffee dates.
      I’ve had a lot of really good coffee and conversations that have just quietly unmatched afterwards. Which is fine! I know I can be a lot, but I’m perfect for the right people.

      I’ve done a ton of soul searching in and out of therapy for the past year so I have a really clear sense of what I’m looking for and that makes it easy to swipe left on anyone who is interesting but not quite right (distance is a big not-quite-right where I am), and also easy to unmatch after meeting if our goals and desires don’t mesh well. And I’ve met someone on my preferred app (Bumble) who is either going to be pretty much the most amazing friend ever, or maybe a longer term relationship! We’re in that weird space where we talk all the time and have had a month long series of weekly dates, but neither of us is quite ready to have a “so what exactly is this?” conversation.

    9. Lucky*

      Found love at 35. Kissed many frogs, had many horrific first dates, was betrayed by a former partner…never thought it would happen. We are now very happily married for almost 30 years.

    10. Kate*

      My SO and I met on an app — I was 36 and he was 40.

      I’m a bit ambivalent about the advice to meet as soon as possible to discover if it’s worth it. I started exploring online dating about six months before the pandemic, so I have experience with both the long-talk and the quick-meet.

      As someone with both a busy job and a small kid, meeting in person is a substantial commitment in time and money. Doing the long-talk meant that by the time I met someone IRL, I knew they could at least carry on an interesting conversation and I wanted to know more!

    11. SBT*

      I (37F) typically do move to texting mainly because it’s easier to actually get notified and it feel like a back-and-forth convo vs. going into the app to respond. I typically don’t offer my number though – will wait until they ask – and will only give it if we’ve made plans to meet up and have had several exchanges (usually this is within 2-3 days).

      I generally try to meet up within the week if possible, but certainly if one of us is traveling or schedules don’t match, then maybe two. Logan Ury just put out a clip on this that I think was spot on – too much messaging on the apps (or texting) can lead you to get a false sense of connection and you can romanticize the person. Then when you meet in person, they don’t live up to your fantasy or you don’t live up to theirs, and you’re crushed. This has definitely happened to me before.

      I don’t bother unmatching in the apps unless they’ve said something off-putting or we went on a date and it’s a no (in which case I’ve also texted to tell them no thanks). And I don’t bother telling someone it’s a no when we haven’t had a date – I either let it fizzle or unmatch.

      Never married, and also hoping for that stroke of good luck to find someone later in life. When you’ve been looking and have been on the apps and sites for over a decade, it’s exhausting and draining. Sending solidarity and good vibes your way!

    12. Ellis Bell*

      I would let it fizzle out and not respond if the conversation online wasn’t going anywhere; I had to block a few dudes who freaked me out. Even though the clientele were not the best (I got a lot of sexual harassment on there), I found the love of my life on it. I was 32, he was 35 and thoroughly sick of the site we matched on – he was one date away from quitting. I was just gearing up for a year of bad dates, and maybe making a funny blog out of it, when he bowled me over, and I bowled him over (this was ten years ago).

    13. Juuuu*

      Seconding meeting pretty quickly. With regards to bowing out: I think as long as you haven‘t met yet, it‘s fine to just let the conversation fizzle out; after you went on a date, I think it‘s polite to tell the person, if you‘re not interested.

      Also, I used to be pretty averse to online dating, but when I tried it, it was better than expected. I met my current partner online, when I was 34. He‘s the best and we‘re so happy together. :) Good luck to you!

    14. Fierce Jindo*

      Since you asked: Met my partner on okcupid at age 34 (me) and 38 (him). Now aged 40 and 44, we have a one-year-old who is the light of our lives and, even though a baby is a tough time in most relationships and ours isn’t an exception, we have no doubt we each found the right person.

  16. Daisy*

    For the person who suggested I check out Old Town Spring in Houston, that was a lot of fun! Thanks for the recommendation.

  17. Daisy*

    I have been writing a novel, I’m at the 3/4 mark, and my will to go on is waning. What do you guys use to get yourself through the final push on big creative projects? I just…need…to…finish…

    1. Deuce of Gears*

      Frankly, I bribe myself but this can be dangerous!

      I also despise deadlines so generally aim to turn things in early but that only works if it’s contracted work and not on spec.

      Or I ask a willing friend to be a cheerleader – e.g. I send them a snippet every day, they email back, “Nice job!” or equivalent.

      I find sticker/washi tape progress charts to be motivating without breaking the bank, but also I respond to pretty stickeres/washi tapes like a six-year-old so this may not work for you!

      Hang in there! Personally, I haaaaaaate the entire middles of novels and usually end up slapping on an ending just to kill the novel out of my life, and then I have to fix it in revisions so that doesn’t actually save time. But know that you’re not alone! You’re almost there!

    2. anywhere but here*

      “It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be done.” Repeat to self ad nauseam.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      We have a copy of Chuck Wendig’s book: You Can Do Anything, Magic Skeleton. Whenever we lack motivation, we pull the book from the shelf, select a page at random, and read it in our most over the top pseudo serious voice.

      Otherwise, please forgive the shouting, but: DO THE THING! RANDOM PEOPLE IN THE INTERNET BELIEVE IN YOU!

    4. aginga*

      Write the ending. It always helps me see where I’m going. that makes me feel like the gap is more manageable, and then I can see what i need to happen i between.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Agreed. I long ago stopped calling that bridge between beginning and end “the middle”—it is now “the muddle,” because getting thru it is like slogging thru mud

    5. Chaordic One*

      Yeah, just write the ending. Not to be rude, but it doesn’t have to be good, it just has to end. Personally, I don’t like endings where everyone lives happily ever after, where all the loose ends are wrapped up and where the ending is tidy. I’m a messy person and I like a few loose ends. That’s way real life is IMHO.

    6. Forensic13*

      I like to think about why I think I’m stuck. Personally, I have that problem because there’s some element that subconsciously isn’t working for me. Not that it has to be perfect, but something with a fundamental structural or character personality flaw.

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

      For academic things I really had to finish, I made myself work at least 1/2 an hour every day on them. (I could work more, but I had to get that 1/2 hour in.) Eventually, the darned things got done.

    8. Maryn*

      I’m a big fan of the BIC method. That’s your butt in chair for a set amount of time every day, minimum 30 minutes. (An hour or more is better. You want to finish this novel or not?) During BIC time you have two options, and only two. You may write, or you may not write. If you don’t write, you cannot do anything else except sit there. Write or don’t, period.

      Most days, you’ll write. On the best days, you’ll catch fire and go beyond your assigned time, which is great. However, you can’t amass credit. The next day, you still owe the same amount of BIC time as every other day.

      You can schedule BIC to suit your other commitments, but if you do BIC when scheduled, you will finish your book. I promise!

  18. Juror Anxiety*

    I’ve been placed on a jury, and I’m finding myself really anxious about it. What if I make the wrong decision??

    I was on a jury once before, and I really didn’t like being in that position and hoped to not have to do it again. I know as a juror, I’m supposed to just make the best effort I can, but I’m really having a hard time being asked to make a judgment that will have such an impact on the people involved.

    Any thoughts on how to get through this? It hasn’t even started, and I’m losing sleep.

    1. Firebird*

      Good question. I’m also worried about what to do when it comes down to a question of Justice vs the Law. They ask if you can be impartial, but I don’t know if I can, depending on the issue.

      1. Generic Name*

        If you are ever in a jury box undergoing voie dire, answer the questions honestly. If you can’t be impartial, state that and you will likely be excused. Both prosecutors and defenders want impartial juries.

      2. just another queer reader*

        “No one is perfectly objective, ever. If you think you’re going to do as well as anyone else in that room, then you can round off to “yes.””
        – from a tweet by Naomi Kritzer, author and journalist

      3. MissElizaTudor*

        I recommend looking into jury nullification if this is a thing that concerns you.

        You can be refuse to convict someone even if you think the evidence proves they did the crime. For example, a jury might choose not to convict someone who has been caught with cannabis if they disagree with drug laws, or might refuse to concur someone for stealing food when they were hungry.

    2. Jules the First*

      You can’t make a wrong decision as a juror. Your job is not to decide who is right; your job is to decide which version of the story you are told (prosecution or defence) is more convincing.

      1. Clisby*

        At least in the US, a juror’s job is not to decide which version is more convincing (at least in a criminal case). It’s to decide whether the prosecution has proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s entirely possible to believe a defendant is guilty and still vote not guilty because the prosecution hasn’t met the burden of proof.

        1. Observer*

          This is a distinction without much of a difference. The job of the juror is not to find the “absolute truth” but to decide if the prosecution has told a sufficiently convincing story vs the defense – not that the defense needs to convince the jury that the person is innocent, but that the prosecution has not fulfilled it’s duty.

    3. Jane Bingley*

      Jurors are really hand-held throughout the process! You will be told what evidence to consider, what you should not consider, exactly what questions are being asked, how to apply the evidence in answering those questions, and detailed instructions on the standard you need to use in making a decision.

      It’s not like TV – it’s highly restricted, and they assume you know nothing. There’ll be support throughout and lots of opportunities to ask questions if you’re unsure.

    4. ronda*

      I think it probably too late for this now, but during my last jury selection one of the potential jurors said she didnt think she could judge people. She was in healthcare and explained that it was her training not to judge people and she didnt think she could. (she was not selected)

      So next time, do bring it up during jury selection and see if they then dont select you.
      It might be worth bringing up now, but they won’t like to have to go back to select a new jury (which might not be a problem if they seated enough alternates)

      On the last case I was on, the decision was very obvious… the person really had no valid defense for their actions. Where I think we probably went overboard was the $ amount awarded. But after the case the judge took questions and said that we did perfectly well, (the jury does not make mistakes! –that is how the process works). So make the best decision you can with the information they present to you.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      It can indeed be very, very stressful, especially since you can’t talk about it during the trial. (I’ve been on one jury and an alternate on another, called a total of 4 times.)

      In my experience, everyone on my jury was pretty much on the same page; we hashed out everything we could about the circumstances and ultimately I could live with the guilty verdict because of that. We weren’t left hung out to dry on points of law and had our questions answered promptly. All you can do is your best–nothing really drives that home like jury duty.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If you were on trial or had a civil case go to trial, who would you want on your jury?

      Someone like you, who really takes it seriously, cares about the impact it will have, and wants to do the right thing? Or someone on a secret power trip? Or who tried as hard as they could to get out of it, but ran out of excuses?

      In my former work, I read enough jury selection transcripts to know that an awful lot of the people who wind up on juries are the people I would *not* want on mine.

      The integrity of the court system, as flawed as it is, is where our values as a society are put to the test and upheld or eroded. By participating, you are helping to (hopefully) shape the kind of society you want to live in.

    7. Generic Name*

      That’s why there are 12 of you. :) The fact that you are worried says a lot about your character and judgement. Your best effort is enough. Thank you for your jury service. It’s a difficult task.

    8. Formerly in HR*

      Listen to episodes 217 (The Juror) and 218 (Did we get it right) of the podcast Criminal. Phoebe got some interesting aspects covered and how some states might do a better job of explaining jurors what to do when they feel they have a dissenting opinion.

      1. Hmmmm*

        Errrr…since the OP is already on the jury, maybe they should wait on this til they are off it. In fact they might be asked about their social media use and have to tell the judge they posted here about the jury. Might end up messing things up.

        1. Manders*

          Generally it’s ok to say you are on a jury, but you cannot discuss the case with anyone, whether they are on the jury or not.

    9. Don'tbeadork*

      What is the wrong decision, though? Is this a civil or criminal case? That all matters. And another thing is that they will often settle out of court/cop a plea once they’ve been through jury selection and the trial becomes more real to them.

      The one time I both got empaneled AND they didn’t settle out of court before we got into the courtroom was a civil case that involved a foreign national. At worst, someone would take a financial hit from our decision. We listened to both sides of the story, viewed the evidence and as a group discussed what we thought the damage award should be. Afterward both sides thanked us for our time and consideration.

      If they don’t settle, for many just being heard, even if you don’t give the answer they hoped for, is enough.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I sat on a murder trial about 15 years ago. It was horribly stressful but I felt good about our verdict. I felt better when, after the verdict while we were getting escorts arranged to go home, I asked the jury cop (not her real title– she was one of three officers in charge of us) if we made the right decision. She said, “Everyone in there knew it was going to go the way it did.”

      It is very tough to make a “wrong” decision if there is a competent, fair judge and competent attorneys. Which there usually are. Most trials do not end up on true crime podcasts because most are pretty straightforward. That’s my understanding, anyway.

      I loved serving on a jury. It wasn’t my favorite way to pass the time, but it was a fascinating look at the system. The case was HARD and the trial was tough, but I felt good that I had done my civic duty to the best of my abilities. If I ever have to stand trial, I would hope to have someone who felt that way in the box.

    11. Madame Arcati*

      Caveat – this is based on my experience in the UK but I believe the principles are the same.
      You are there to make a judgement on the evidence as presented in that court, and only that. You aren’t there to worry about the morality or the sentence if guilty or whatever might be going on behind the scenes; your decisions must be based on whether the prosecution has proved guilt (beyond reasonable doubt, which judges here always say to juries, means “so that you are sure”). The judge advises on points of law, and you lay aside any thoughts, feelings and speculations on people or society and only deal with what is in front of you. (Obviously you won’t be doing your own internet research or taking a bribe!) Then it will be the right decision.
      That might sound a little scolding which I absolutely don’t mean! Just trying to say, don’t worry yourself wondering what really happened or what that person is really like or whether you should really know about that other thing. Just the evidence.

      As others have said, people taking it seriously like you are the best to have on a jury. There was apparently some famous graffiti in an important British court’s public loos saying, “I’m about to be tried by twelve people not intelligent enough to get out of jury duty”!!

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        You genuinely don’t need to lay aside you concerns about the morality of the law or the impact of the sentence, at least not in the US. You can refuse to convict because you think the law is wrong or the punishment will be too harsh for the crime.

    12. Observer*

      As others have said, the best kind of juror is one who is considerate of *all* of the impacts of their verdict. So you are good on that score.

      I suspect that you are worried because you’ve heard, as we all have, of some fairly flagrant miscarriages of justice, where verdicts were clearly wrong. But here is the thing – I cannot think of a many cases where *the jury* was the problem. Most of the time, the issue is some form of prosecution or defense misconduct. In others it’s a matter of the law or other issues (such as experts who are not doing their jobs correctly). In none of those cases is the jury at fault and almost no matter what the jury does or tries to do, the issue is beyond their scope. This is especially true if jurors are working in good faith. In the very, very few cases where there was a problem with the jury, there were also other significant problems.

      The bottom line is that if you do your best and act in good faith, you will come up with the right answer. And if it turns out later that there was an objective error, you can be pretty certain that the issue was not *your* decision but other things which you could not have controlled.

    13. Juror Anxiety*

      OP here – sincere thanks to everyone who posted. This has truly helped so much. I really feel much better about this process and my role in it.

  19. Firebird*

    My first ever solo road trip to visit my son this spring went pretty well and I’m willing to travel solo again. However, it’s just more fun to have somebody to share the trip with. I don’t have anyone available who is willing to just wing it when travelling.

    I’m am introvert, but not shy. Once, I accidentally crashed an multinational birthday party because it was in a park and I thought it was a kids’ soccer league. I commented on the great sportsmanship and they offered me cake and pizza.

    I can’t count on this happening again, so how do you make yourself feel less isolated when you travel alone as a senior woman?

    1. Withans*

      You could see if there are any drop-in classes or meet-up groups you might enjoy in the places you’ll be travelling?

    2. Alex*

      I’m not quite “senior” yet, but I am a woman, and I love traveling alone. I can do what I want, when I want, with no compromises!

      To feel less alone, I try to fill the day with active things. For example, I went on vacation by myself and signed up for a kayaking tour, surfing lessons, ziplining, snorkeling, horseback riding, parasailing, etc. It was extra fun for me because when I do travel with a friend, she never wants to do many of those things, so it was freeing that I could try some of everything.
      But also, there are other people doing those things so you have people to talk to.

    3. Girasol*

      When I was a young woman traveling the country alone, I nearly always went to church on Sunday. Not my church but any church, for their evening service, bible study, or whatever the local church offered. I met interesting local folks and broadened my spiritual education as well. I sat through a few dull sermons but most Sundays were adventures in serendipity.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        What a great idea! I can’t exactly follow your example in my own life (not currently traveling solo) but I hope another AAM reader does, and has a great experience.

    4. Manders*

      If you go to a restaurant, sit at the bar. You don’t have to drink alcohol if that’s not your thing, but the bartender, and sometimes other patrons, are usually up for some conversation.

      1. allathian*

        Really depends on how busy the place is. You don’t have to drink alcohol but if you take up a seat at a busy bar without ordering anything the bartenders are unlikely to be happy. Obviously, if they’re that busy they’re unlikely to have much time to talk with you, so maybe avoid the busiest hours…

        When I traveled alone, I tended to go to cafés and bistros rather than pubs or bars, and only drink some alcohol with a meal, but that’s just me.

  20. Cat Lady I Guess*

    Wait! Are you at 8 kitties now? Congratulations. I don’t know how you do it. We are adopting our first foster today and properly introducing him to our resident cat was a LOT of work! I could have used advice from a cat blog written by you.

  21. Panda*

    How do you forgive people? I don’t mean people who commit egregious offenses like burn down your house and steal your dog and try to beat your grandma. But when people are thoughtless or rude or selfish and hurt your feelings. I’ve realised my go to is to stew about it intermittently for a long time until enough time has passed or I find myself upset by another person and this…is not healthy.

    1. the cat's pajamas*

      I don’t like “forgiveness” as an idea because it implies absolution. I like to think of it as “[person] sucks and isn’t going to change.”

      I try to let it go and stop giving energy to them. For example, you make thoughtless remarks, nope I’m not available to help you with cat-sitting, a few bucks when you need money, etc. I’m not going to ask for anything either.

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I agree with your take on forgiveness. I don’t think you need to forgive people who hurt you – though in many cases you do need to figure out how you can move on from the hurt and possibly even have a relationship with that person.

      2. Jackalope*

        This is such a harsh view of other people if broadly applied, though. And I don’t think it will make for a good way to deal with things. There are certainly “one strike and you’re out” type offenses, but if every time someone makes a thoughtless remark (to use you’re example) you write them off as that person sucks and isn’t going to change, you’re going to end up very lonely. Everyone messes up sometimes and everyone will need forgiveness for that at some point.

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            To clarify, I was assuming this is an ongoing thing and the person is always thoughtless. I will give people a chance if they mess up once or twice, and ideally talk to them depending on context/value of the relationship, but I have a tendency to put up with more than I should and working on reining it in/not overinvesting in one sided relationships.

            1. Turtle Dove*

              I agree with this. I used to believe something like “give until it hurts because that’s what kindness and generosity look like,” but that is catnip to the takers of the world. Now I believe “look for mutually respectful and invested relationships with a balanced give and take, because that’s healthy and makes you happy.”

    2. Victoria, Please*

      Dr. Fred Luskin from the Stanford Forgiveness Project approaches this from the cognitive psychology perspective in his book Forgive for Good. the premise is that forgiveness is much more about our own health and patterns of thinking. you’re “renting out space in your head” to mean people right now, he might say, and here are strategies to stop their influence in your mind.

    3. Aquamarine*

      If it applies, I try to remember a time when they did something nice or a time we laughed about something together or even a time when they were disappointed or sad – essentially, I try to connect with the feelings I have about them that don’t involve anger.

      I also try to remind myself that we’re all basically stumbling along in this life trying to find our way, and we don’t always do a very good job.

    4. ronda*

      I have hurt other peoples feelings and other people have hurt mine.
      So I do think it is unrealistic to expect someone to never hurt your feelings.

      So then the question is what do you want to do about it.

      a highly recommended approach is to talk to them about it if it is interfering with the relationship you would like to have.
      maybe they dont realize that you dont like what they did, or maybe they do and are a jerk.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I like the take on forgiveness that goes: you’re putting down your end of the rope and quitting the tug of war. You’re done. You don’t have to like the person or want to give them a job or even talk to them again, you’re just finished with the conflict in your head.

    6. Rick Tq*

      This Zen koan comes to mind: One day while Zen monk Tanzan and a young monk were traveling, they came to a river with a strong current. As they were preparing to cross the river, they saw a young lady in distress also attempting to cross.

      Tanzan offered, “Here, let me carry you across,” and placed her down gently on the other side.

      The lady said, “Thank you very much. Goodbye.” The two continued on their journey for more than half a day.

      Finally, the younger monk could not contain himself any longer, and blurted out, “I thought we monks were supposed to avoid women. Why did you just do that?”

      “Oh, you mean the woman way back there? I put her down long ago. Are you still carrying her?”

      Can you release the people who were rude or selfish from your thoughts? You are giving people space in your head who have no idea who you are or why you hold on to a passing event.

    7. Jackalope*

      So it depends on whether this person is someone you want to have an ongoing relationship with or not. If the answer is yes, then I find it very helpful to talk it over with them (Although I’m super conflict-avoidant and find this difficult). Even if it’s just a small thing, telling the other person, “Hey, it bothered me when you took the biggest piece of pie for yourself without asking if I wanted any,” or “My feelings were hurt when you interrupted me mid-sentence; I felt like you didn’t care what I had to say,” or whatever (trying to make up little stuff here) can really help. In my experience most people don’t WANT to hurt you, and that’s a way to help figure out better interactions between the two of you.

      If it’s not someone you want to have a relationship with (random person cuts in line in front of you, or something like that) then I find it helpful to talk it through with myself. I’ll talk it out and say, “I was frustrated when that person cut in line right before I was able to go. I get really annoyed when the other person won’t wait their turn.” (Note the part about being honest but not trashing them, even if they may deserve it!) Sometimes that’s enough – honestly vent my feelings to myself. If I keep thinking about it, then that may be a sign that something deeper is going on. For example, I’ve found personally that if someone’s a jerk to me and I don’t stand up for myself in any way that sticks with me much longer than if I do stick up for myself; the first situation makes me feel so much more helpless than standing up for myself even if it accomplishes nothing. And lastly if someone is just a total jerk, I tell myself, “I had to be around them for a very unpleasant five minutes, but they have to spend their whole life with themselves, and that sounds much worse than anything I could do to them.”

      Don’t know if that will help but I’ve found that it at least makes things better.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        Both parts of this resonate with me.

        For people I know, sometimes it can be hard to have conversations about ways that I got hurt or things the other person did that made me angry. I find that it helps to meta-narrate. Like I’ll say that I want to tell them something and I’m nervous before I say the actual thing. People I want to be in relationship with will care about that and do their best to take care of that vulnerability.

        For people I don’t know, I try to see them with compassionate eyes. So if someone cuts in front of me in line, I might think to myself about how they must be in such a hurry and being in a hurry is no fun, or no one taught them manners and so it must be hard to be them, etc. The compassionate eyes thing also works for people I know, of course, and for way bigger offenses than cutting in front of me.

        I also think forgiveness is complicated and often needs other things to happen before it can be on the table in any kind of good way. Like if someone says something that hurts my feelings, I need to feel all of those hurt feelings before forgiveness becomes a reasonable thing to try to do.

        Also also, forgiveness has all kinds of documented benefits but also some drawbacks. In the scientific literature about this, forgiveness improves health, improves relationships in some ways, etc. But it can also encourage re-offending in close relationships, if people feel like you forgave them and there weren’t negative consequences for them so they can just keep doing whatever they did. I think that’s a lot about the relationship – like, people I want in my life are going to care about my experience and not just keep doing things that bother me because they can get away with it – but I wanted to bring this up because people often talk about forgiveness as entirely good and even necessary, and I think it’s more complicated than that.

        1. Jackalope*

          I think boundaries can be really important to reconciliation working. If I tell someone I’m close to that they did something to hurt me and they stop doing the thing, or are making a good-faith effort to stop, then that’s one thing. If it’s something that they can’t or won’t stop doing, then I may well decide to remain close to them but I will protect myself in that area. To give a nonhuman example, I forgive my cats for all the times they’ve jumped off my lap using claws in my legs to steady themselves, but I also don’t let them sit on my lap when I have bare legs anymore; I can trust them not to use claws, so they don’t get to do the thing that hurt me anymore. Likewise, I might decide I want to keep someone as a friend who regularly cancels on me at the last minute, but I won’t initiate things with them anymore and will only invite them to group activities where their presence or absence will be less notable. This is just one example, but I find it a helpful thing to remember. Obviously there are some things that are big enough that you can’t just let them slide, and that list will be slightly different for everyone. But if you want to keep the relationship but there’s an issue that’s not getting better, setting firmer boundaries in that one specific area can help you maintain the relationship (or, conversely, realize there are other issues that are making it not worth it).

          1. allathian*

            Your sentence about the canceling friend resonates deeply with me. I have a friend like that and we have a lovely if superficial friendship now because I never schedule anything with her 1:1 anymore. Now I just see her with our mutual friend group, where I’m happy to see her if she shows up and I’ll maybe miss her for a few minutes if she cancels, but I won’t spend the evening feeling annoyed with her for not showing up. She has a fairly high-profile career and is also the mom of 4 kids, so I totally understand that her family takes priority over her friends, and the more kids you have, the more likely it is that you’re going to have to cancel because something unforeseen came up. But we text quite often to catch up.

            I’m married and our son’s a teenager who’s fairly self-motivated with things like chores and who doesn’t need much supervision to do his homework on time, etc. So far, parenting him has been tiring at times but never chaotic. Parenting a family of 4 lively kids with a 10-year age difference between the oldest and the youngest like my friend and her husband are doing is undoubtedly in a completely different league. So I don’t blame my friend for not making time for me or her other friends all that often, and I really value the times when she does show up. The boundary that allows me to do this without resentment is that I never schedule anything 1:1 with her, even if this means that our friendship is more shallow than I’d really like, because I can’t deal with people who are nearly always late to things or who frequently cancel 1:1s.

            When I was in college, one of my friends had a severe psychotic episode and spent a few months in a hospital for the mentally ill. For a long time after that, she had very little initiative and often canceled at the last minute. What’s more, she hardly spoke at all if more than two people were present because she could just let others speak, which meant that if you wanted to see her, it had to be 1:1, and even then you’d be carrying at least 95 percent of the conversation. But my friend group valued her friendship enough to be understanding during her illness and while the doctors got her medication right. She dropped out of college and fairly soon was awarded social security payments for disability (you can’t really retire when you’ve never worked FT) and moved back to live with her mom. Now she’s often the person who suggests getting together and she’s also a lot of fun to be around. She’s stopped canceling things at the last minute and she’s often the first person to arrive to things because she’s so happy to see her friends.

            I’ve ended one friendship with a friend who was always late to everything. She wasn’t a part of any of my friend groups and was always late or else canceled at the last minute when I’d already arrived wherever we were supposed to meet. I ended the friendship when I realized that my resentment at her inability to be on time spoiled the things for me that made me want to see her in the first place.

            If that sounds judgmental of some ND people, so be it. I’m introverted with too little energy for socializing, even if I usually enjoy it a lot when I do, to spend the few spoons I have on folks who repeatedly let me down by always being late (15 minutes is
            usually NBD, more than that and I expect people to text me with a new ETA). I’m only willing to spend my spoons on people who are both willing and able to prioritize my friendship in return.

            This has got worse the older I get, when I interned in Spain in my mid-20s, I had very few issues with my friends and fellow interns showing up for social stuff whenever, and when I did get annoyed, I kept my annoyance to myself because running later than what would be generally acceptable in Finland is the cultural norm there and I had to live with it as the foreigner.

    8. RagingADHD*

      It is a process. Every time the thought comes up, you have to remind yourself that you have chosen to forgive them. Then it helps to turn it around and wish that person well. Eventually it happens less and less, and passes quicker.

    9. MEH Squared*

      I don’t really believe in forgiveness because for me, it’s way too steeped in Christianity for me to be comfortable with it. If it’s someone I love/care about, I allow myself a flash of irritation and try to shrug it off. If it continues to bother me, I bring it up with the person to clear the air. Then, it usually fades on its own.

      If it’s a stranger or someone I know superficially, I mutter some not-so-nice things under my breath, maybe say something snarky to a friend, then let it go.

      Either way, I don’t consider it a matter of forgiveness, but just somethnig to work through and then put it behind me the best I can.

    10. Gyne*

      Forgiveness is not for them, forgiveness is for you. Do you want to hold on to the anger, or let it go and move on with your life? *You* will be better off finding a way to forgive. This doesn’t mean being okay with what happened, and it doesn’t mean letting them back into your life, it means accepting what happened is in the past and you doesn’t have power over you.

      As to *how* to do this… I read (a lot) of Brene Brown, Tara Brach, John Kabat-Zinn. I meditate, I talk to certain like-minded friends. Tara Brach especially, her book “Radical Acceptance” recently helped me with a very rough family visit.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        There’s a quote that goes something like “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past”
        I guess I think of it as acceptance of reality. Because if I’m stewing over it, it means I’m wishing it had been different.

    11. Generic Name*

      As an atheist, I don’t really give a crap about forgiveness, as I see that as a Christian religious concept. Of all the people who have really and truly wronged me, not one has come to me with an apology. Christians make a big deal about forgiveness in the absence of remorse, and it’s a concept I don’t ascribe to. I strive for indifference.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Most mainstream Christian teaching actually makes a distinction between forgiveness (letting go of the anger & remembering that you are also flawed) vs reconciliation (restoring the relationship to its former state).

        Forgiveness does not require remorse, because it is inner work that frees you from “stewing” as OP said. But reconciliation does require remorse because a relationship is a 2-way street.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Imagine lack of forgiveness as a smouldering fire. In extreme cases, the person who is still nursing grudges can lash out in vengeance and end up fanning those flames, whereas the person who can forgive can still seek justice for the wrong but is in a mental place that allows for putting out the fire with water rather than pouring petrol onto it.

        The concept of forgiveness in many belief systems gets away from what generates things like blood feuds and constant cycles of antagonism, vengeance and continuing hatred between people in general. It forms the backbone of concepts such as mercy and reconciliation, which are practiced more easily when someone makes the first move towards letting go of hatred and showing good faith towards others.

        Also, what good does it do to you to nurse hatred and grudges towards those who have hurt you in the past? A big cornerstone of therapy is that you can’t control the other person or make them stop doing what they want to do, but you can control your own self and how you let go of ultimately toxic thought patterns. As RagingADHD points out, it’s not to do with reconciliation, which is a reciprocal thing, and more to do with ‘dropping the rope’ — you’re consciously stepping away from the game the other person is trying to play with you and putting the ball back in their court to reflect on their own issues.

        It’s not easy, but then few things in life actually are — and easy things are not always the best things. Perpetuating anger at others eats away more at you than it does to them, and can play havoc with your own life and mental health, while the other person remains unhurt and oblivious to your pain.

        It’s also not a specifically Christian thing. You don’t have to believe in anything other than the good of humanity to practice it; the context of the Christian understanding is that it’s a step forward to seek justice for wrongs rather than vengeance — the old saying is ‘An eye for an eye and we’re all blind’. You see similar concepts in a lot of different religions and creeds, and I would hope that being an atheist does not mean you exempt yourself from behaviours that promote a way of living that relieves tensions within society rather than exacerbates them.

        1. Joron Twiner*

          Not OP but their post resonated with me. They are clearly not arguing in favor of holding on to hatred and past wrongs, as you can see from their statement “I strive for indifference.”

          Of course many religions and moralities value forgiveness, but it’s particularly strong in Christianity.

          Personally, I believe that remembering offenses and injustices can help spur us into action. We remember times someone offended us, and the pain it caused, so we are careful with those people and we try not to offend others the same way. Why should we forget times that people hurt us, especially when those people have not apologized or changed? It’s not the responsibility of victims to “relieve tensions in society” or forgive people as a default course.

          I argue it’s more important to reflect and remember in order to guide our future actions, rather than forgive the unremorseful.

    12. Not A Manager*

      Weirdly, sometimes stuff like that makes me wind up feeling closer to the person. When someone hurts me, I have to think really hard about who they are and why they did that. And sometimes, I conclude that I just don’t like them anymore. But a lot of other times, there are so many wonderful things about the person that I realize this was just a glitch, or maybe they mis-spoke, or maybe I misunderstood, and this whole process has given me a chance to focus on all the good things about our relationship.

      It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens a surprising amount.

    13. Maxine*

      If it is small things I console myself that they probably realize it laying in bed and boink themselves on the head years after just like I do. None of us is perfect.

      I saw in tv a family of sailors saying that in such close quarters you have to either “say it or forget it” because it is no use letting things simmer and keep getting bigger and bigger.

      So small things, eh, they’ll regret it themselves. Bigger things, communication is the key. Calm communication.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      The meaning of ‘forgiveness’ is something I’ve struggled with.

      I know that the formal definition is akin to goddess of transitory’s putting down your end of the rope, which you can do while never interacting with that person again. Or Chauncy Gardener’s take on giving up all hope of having a different past. I think these are all really helpful as examples of letting go, and not circling around repeating the thing that hurt you even as the hurter has forgotten it, or might literally have died a decade ago and yet you’re carefully recreating the feeling for yourself.

      But on a gut level I feel like “forgiveness” means a willingness to resume something like your previous relationship. On the good end, you take the advice of looking at the larger relationship, which is good. Sometimes that means you decide you misunderstood or they had a normal human screw up. Sometimes that means you decide your relationship will not include attending plays or loaning money or whatever element led to the hurt and anger–you’re going to need to meet each other where you are.

      An observation that resonated with me: A woman wanted to marry into a large close-knit family, which she hadn’t had, and succeeded. But then one of the things her husband taught her was how much grace and forgiveness was needed to all rub along being close-knit–it wasn’t “no one ever does anything that hurts me” but “so we talk about it, or I let it go off my back because tying everything back to Pride and Prejudice is Aunt Irma’s thing, or I otherwise live with it.” And that that dynamic of forgiveness and moving on would apply to both terrible families papering over abuse, and wonderful families acknowledging that you need to allow for each other all being different and unique people and not just the supporting cast.

    15. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t care about forgiveness as a concept. I can move on from a person, not giving them rent space in my head, without forgiving them. Just accept this is who they are, and don’t expect any different.
      You are also not obligated to forgive someone just because they are contrite or remorseful.

    16. Stew as Nourishment*

      Journal through it. There are people that can forgive the heinous and horrific. I liked the comment above that said something along the lines of it being easier to forgive when you’ve upheld strong boundaries. I find that to be true as well. Maybe part of the pain of these kinds of situations is that we weren’t able to protect our inner space as much as we needed. It’s a forgiving of yourself first for not creating a stronger boundary in the moment. It’s okay, you did your best, and next time you will try again. You have to be kind to yourself. Once you can forgive yourself, you can forgive the other person. Hey, they don’t know any better; they did the best they could in that moment and that was all they were capable of doing. It helps if you can find something about the experience to be grateful for – they showed me that they are not capable of receiving love, and I am grateful to know that sooner than later; they helped me learn to be more courageous and stand up for myself more easily in this type of interaction, and I am grateful for learning that lesson; their action, led to this other action, which ultimately helped me be in a new, better place, and I am grateful for that. It’s with the most difficult people and situations that we learn the most, and from those lessons we become more of who we are and build character. Be grateful for that. Ultimately, as others have said, the sooner you can truly let these kinds of things go, the better off you are for it. It takes a considerable amount of energy to stew, and that is energy you could be spending working towards realizing your dreams and helping others if you can figure out how to redirect it.

    17. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      A lot of the comments seem to be steered towards the more serious, or at least more intentional harms.

      What strikes me is this part of your question: But when people are thoughtless or rude or selfish and hurt your feelings.

      The first part is to really take a step back and look at the big picture. All of us are flawed and all of us are colored by our experiences and culture. (If you have never read about ask culture vs. guess culture it is an interesting read on how what one group considers rude can be considered more polite by a different group). Thoughtless, may mean just that – they were not thinking of you in the moment. Same with selfish or rude.

      If the person has a pattern of hurting you, you need to decide if this is a relationship worth saving and then take steps to communicate with the person.

      If it is a one time thing then I think it is on you to remember why you value this person and extend them the benefit of the doubt. Everyone has stuff going on in their lives that you know nothing about and it probably had nothing to do with you.

      And sometimes you just have to be ready to move on. I am personally dealing right now with holding anger towards a long time friend. I know we will probably be friends again. But right now I just avoid her because I haven’t yet been able to let it go. She isn’t a bad person, I 100% understand why she did what she did, I also believe she didn’t understand why it would be painful to me.

      And in truth I know that my anger at her is still tied up in PTSD and not really about her at all, only that her actions forced me to relive my trauma before I was ready to.

  22. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

    Gardening Info – and Thread if you would like

    I have a gardening question. I have calla lilies. They grew from a little potted flower I got at a shower in 2019. I put them outside thinking they would grow a bit and look pretty for the summer then die (as I live in the Midwest in zone 6.)

    The calla lilies keep coming back and also reseeding themselves so I now have a large calla lily a medium sized calla lily and a lot of small ones. All would be great except when I went to look up info on the calla lily I learned that they are poisonous and you should avoid skin contact. This happened a few days after I cut some flowers off and put them in a vase. So, I then looked at the inside of my calves and started wondering if the rash I had there came from the calla lilies.

    I am now afraid of the lilies. The rash was not nice at all. Do the lilies cause rashes? How do I get rid of them (I don’t want to dig them out at this point.)

    And the big question is why are they even surviving the winter?

    1. Red Sky*

      Calla Lilies spread and grow from bulbs. In winter the exposed top of the plant dies and the bulb in the ground goes dormant. In spring when the temps warm up the bulb comes out of dormancy and sprouts new leaves and flowers. You’ll have to dig all of the bulbs out if you want to get rid of them.

      I’m highly sensitive/intolerant to a variety of random substances (palm, latex, etc) and regularly break out into rashes but calla lily isn’t one of my known triggers. I’ve handled the cut flowers and never had a problem, we also had calla lillies in our garden when I was growing up; all us neighborhood kids used to pick and play sword fight with them, no one ever got a rash that I can recall. It’s certainly possible you’re allergic but it could be something else like poison ivy (the worst rash I’ve ever had) or you’re allergic to a certain type of bug bite.

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        Yes, I didn’t initially put the rash and the lilies together until I read up on them. The rash was most likely contact related due to its location – which could have occurred from the cut stems after I cut them.

        When I was reading up on them, it said they can be invasive in CA but it seems like this one is invasive in the Midwest!

    2. WestsideStory*

      The sap is an irritant and the whole plant is quite toxic if you or a pet eat any of it. There are a number of similar plants such as Asclepias, aka milkweed that is planted to host butterflies (I nearly lost a cornea once, getting milkweed sap in my eye). Still, if you like the flowers just use gloves and care. It’s not easy to grow them in a cold climate so I salute you for that.

    3. Snell*

      CA zone 9 here. My experience with calla lilies hasn’t involved rashes or other reactions. I’m not surprised to find out they’re poisonous, but having lived with them for years, I think the familiarity has made me comfortable with them, and their toxicity doesn’t worry me.

      I even regularly handle them bare handed, when tending the yard (usually when a leaf or flower starts to fade but isn’t outright spent, I’ll pull it directly up, and this almost always plucks the entire leaf/flower from the plant cleanly). I did use them in a flower arrangement once (a 100% calla lily arrangement lol), and did my usual “pull straight up” to pick them, then trimmed the ends with a sharp knife before putting them in water.

      I’ve never gotten any contact rashes from calla lilies, but I would fully believe it if you told me I avoided it because of the way I handled the plants*. Maybe the different environment in zone 6 grows calla lilies more prone to tissue damage, so the risk of contact is higher there than here. Maybe you’re just unfortunately individually more reactive than others.

      As for why they’re surviving, of the bulb flowers, it’s not like they’re the most delicate. If you mulched them nicely, or even if they’re naturally mulched by leaf litter and the like, that could be enough to protect them in the cold. Then they get inured to their environment, get established, and now you really will have to dig them up to be rid of them. Maybe dig them up after the above-ground vegetation has died back, to minimize the chance of another rash? Am I being cluelessly inexperienced and the ground won’t be workable by the time that happens?

      *Funny aside, I had a water testing kit for aquarium keeping that I used throughout my childhood, and I never had anything bad happen to me. Then, in college, I find out that at least one of the chemicals was caustic by spilling maybe half a drop on my fingertips. I got chemical burns where it touched, and temporarily lost my a few of my fingerprints. The sensation of burning stayed for days. I looked back in wonder that I never burned myself as a child.

      1. RagingADHD*

        It would make sense if a plant that had to be “tougher” to withstand harsher weather might have a stronger concentration of toxic / irritant chemicals. Plants produce more of their defense chemicals when they have to struggle a bit.

        That is why wild berries tend to have a stronger flavor, for example. Or lettuce gets bitter when the weather is too hot

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Eh, I think the kind of extra defensive toughness you’re referring to comes after generations of selective planting and gradual acclimation. The extra sap could just be part of the normal flowering cycle too.

          Lettuce gets bitter in warm weather because that’s its normal growth cycle; warmth makes it bolt. Long before you see the flower stalk emerge you can tell it’s getting ready to seed by breaking off a leaf and seeing white sap emerging like pin pricks from the stem. Once the sap is flowing it’s at end of life and no longer good to eat. All the leafy annual herbs do the same thing.

          1. RagingADHD*

            “Terroir” is a thing. You can plant the same generation of seed in different places, or in a greenhouse, and it will taste different based on growing conditions. I’ve done it.

          2. Snell*

            I’m siding with RagingADHD on this one. What they describe is easy enough for me to see in the radishes I grow. Taste changes throughout the season. Radishes bolt, same as lettuce, but I’m not eating the roots that bolted. Similar with the watercress. Those spicy (radish) and bitter (watercress) compounds are the plants’ chemical defense. They make more in warm/hot weather because that’s when herbivores are more active. In cold weather, it’s more advantageous to store sugars, since herbivores are less active and sugar is a natural antifreeze.

            Even if I’m growing the exact same variety of calla lily as OP, I don’t kid myself that it grows the exact same way in zone 9 as zone 6.

    4. Jenny F Scientist*

      Daffodils are poisonous too! So are a lot of flowers! I’d go with gloves if you like the callas and not be too concerned otherwise. I say this as a person who breaks out in itchy bumps when I touch practically any plant, so I wear long sleeves and gloves for all my gardening.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      According to the articles I found, calla lilies are poisonous when eaten, extremely so, but do not cause contact dermatitis. So I’d be sure to wash my hands after touching them, especially before handling food or rubbing my eyes, but I doubt they’re the culprit for the rash.
      Unless you’re allergic, of course, but an allergic reaction could be caused by so many things…
      As for their survival, most midwestern gardeners take them up in the fall, but if the bulbs are deep enough and in a sheltered location, they could survive in zone 6. They’d probably do better in a warmer climate, grow more vigorously, spread more or faster, generally thrive more, but results trump theory.
      If you really want to be rid of them, offer them free on NextDoor or your local buy nothing group. Someone will be delighted to dig them up and carry them home.

    6. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I once found out we had poison sumac by standing in it! I had a very rapid reaction, burning itch by the time we got back inside, and it took us 15 to figure out what I touched (it just brushed my legs as I was picking fruit). If you’ve got an unexplained rash, you might want to look at the weeds in your garden and compare them to rash-causing plants.

    7. Happily Retired*

      — no information on calla lilies, but I just want to throw this out there: when searching for info on any gardening question, consider adding “site: .edu” or “site: .org” (delete the spaces after site.) after your search terms.

      Yes, there are many useful .com sites out there, but there’s also a ton of clickbait. Dot-edu and (then) dot-org take you to reputable, often peer-reviewed information. — this can be used for multiple topics.

      Something I learned in my Extension Master Gardener course, and boy, does it reduce the BS!

  23. Just a Name looking for a recommendation*

    Vacation ideas please. The Mr. has decided that I need to plan the fall vacation. Except I am having a difficult time picking out a place. Live on the east coast. Was thinking of Colorado, as we can do a National Park and see friends who live there. But that seems exhausting. Actually it all seems exhausting. Was thinking of Iceland but it will be late September and maybe too cold/dark? Although I do have northern lights on the bucket list. I guess I want something more vacation than touring and he has to be active every day.

      1. Just a Name looking for a recommendation*

        We will be in Ohio visiting family for a week in early September. I haven’t been to HH in 40 years! My 21st birthday, if you can believe it.

      2. Clisby*

        Yes, it will. The state park has lodging, but I’m sure there are other places to stay near there.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          There’s tons of places. The state park lodge is brand new and very nice and you can access some trails right from it

    1. Roland*

      I did Iceland for 2 weeks at the end of September, early October. It’s not long after the equinox so not especially dark. You would need to be prepared for all weather, including strong wind and rain. It never felt like it was crazy cold for the season, and with proper layering you’ll be golden. You definitely might see the Aurora if you stay out of town, but it’s never guaranteed. We had a fabulous time driving around the ring road and never did any long hikes, you can see a LOT without serious hiking

      1. Just a Name looking for a recommendation*

        Thanks. As long as I get a day or two to visit the spas, it could work. I really loved our last day at the Blue Lagoon hotel. So relaxing after a lot of hiking.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Early fall is perfect for the national parks in southern Utah. Fewer tourists, as school will be back in session. Hint: fly into Las Vegas rather than Salt Lake City to save about three hours driving each way.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding the southern Utah parks, and flying into Las Vegas which is closer and usually awash in cheap flights.

        Particularly love Zion, where the entrance is at the bottom of the canyon rather than the top, so there’s lots of shade and much of the hiking is along a river. You take a shuttle bus around the park, at least in the summer.

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          And the cool thing about most of the national parks is that you can do as much as you want, but usually the views from the lodges are spectacular and you can just hang out there if you want.

          Last time I went we flew in and out of Vegas, and I had occasion to remark more than once that the national park visitors seemed so much happier than the Vegas tourists.

      2. anon24*

        I went to Zion and Bryce Canyon a few years ago in either late August or September. I loved it. We flew into Vegas and stayed in Hurricane UT so we still had a bit of driving to get to the parks every day, but it was a lot cheaper that way (our rental car ended up costing more than the AirBnB and flights combined). I loved it. Even better than the parks (which were absolutely amazing) was the one night we went out into state lands and drove through the desert to a ruin called Fort Pearce (its on Google maps) and got out of the car and just enjoyed the desert and the sky at night, miles away from any other human. It was one of the most peaceful moments of my life and my husband still talks about how it was one of the best nights of his night. We’re simple people :)

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          There is definitely something magical about the high desert at nighttime.

          But just remember: the locals pronounce Hurricane like “HERK-in” to the with the neighborhood town “La-VERK-in.”

    3. Generic Name*

      I live in Colorado, and it’s beautiful. If Mr wants a vacation, but you find the thought exhausting, I’m curious about why you’re the one going about the planning. What if he planned and you went along for the ride?

      1. Just a Name looking for a recommendation*

        That would be nice. I was so seasick on our last trip, I think he wants me to pick. Although I’d be happy with a staycation, really.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          What about a finding an area with nice fall weather, and a location that has a variety of coffee shops and pubs and shops and parks, but is near good hiking areas. That way, if you feel lazy, he can go for a vigorous walk while you relax in a coffee shop or park or have a lazy morning, you can do some hiking together, view the fall colours, visit some tourist spots, and so on.

          You could do it in the US, but a British version with tea shops and scones and evenings at the pub would be lovely too.

          1. UKvacay*

            Cosign British version! My best relaxing vacations have been spending a few days at a cute British B&B in a small town with a cute main street. Walking culture in the UK means your husband can probably just go off and wander and you can go with him when you’d like and sit and read at a cafe when you don’t want to.

            The Lake District would be great for this, I think, but I did a trip to Dorset (stayed in Sherbourne which is an abbey town and very pretty!) a number of years back and it was a reasonable train ride from London. I had a great time wandering around the area and took a bus to a few places including to see the Cerne Giant (a huge chalk figure on a hill).

            1. GythaOgden*

              Also a shout out for the Purbeck area. There are quite a number of decent walks along the seafront at Swanage. My parents have a cottage up the hill, and from there we’ve actually walked round the coast path into Swanage. I could do it ten years ago but not now — the first time I took the guy who would become my husband away it was there, and my mum was with us so of course she made us do the whole route and rewarded us with a cream tea afterwards. (It let him know what he was getting himself into and gave him a chance to run away, but he didn’t…) Because of an unfortunate injury to my ankle I can’t do it nowadays, but it’s a good place to lose a few of the more energetic members of your group (and we did lose my paratrooper cousin for a while, but tbh for a serviceman a few miles cross country is like a stroll in the park for everyone else…) for a few hours and potter about somewhere more interesting if you’re not up to it.

              But parts of the path are more like a Sunday stroll than anything else and there’s Corfe Castle, a heritage railway and a nature reserve there as well if you’re looking to do more than just walking.

    4. Jay*

      Can you plan something that has a lot of “active but relatively stationary” activities? This is something that my mom has DEFINATELY “not done” when on vacation with me and my dad.
      Things that he can be busy about while you can sit in a comfy chair, sip a nice hot/cold beverage, and read a book. Maybe talk to the others enjoying a restful nap in the shade while their significant others fly fish/pan for gold/pick berries/birdwatch/dig for treasure/learn to forge/paint landscapes/whatever sounds fun and/or interesting.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, that was going to be my suggestion too. Go somewhere that both of you can do fun activities that you like; some things you can do together, and some things you can do apart (including things like having lodgings that you’re happy to stay at and read a book or watch a movie or something).

    5. Professor Plum*

      Check out Mt Princeton Hot Springs in Colorado for a very relaxing outdoor experience. When you stay at the resort you get access to more pools—great option for a couple nights of a weeklong trip. If you happen to be there for a full moon, I highly recommend the full moon yoga in the hot springs pool—amazing!

      1. Just a Name looking for a recommendation*

        Very interesting. Meets the idea that I want to relax but looks like there are thing he can do with or without me. Thanks!

      2. Generic Name*

        +1

        Love Mt Princeton. Glenwood Springs is great too, and the town has more stuff to do and tons of great restaurants.

      3. Foila*

        Glenwood springs is also nice – it’s a cute tourist friendly town with decent restaurants, and lots of hiking trails just out of town. Plus the hot springs pool itself!

      4. Professor Plum*

        Sure, Glenwood Springs is also nice. If I have a choice though, I prefer Mt Princeton—I love the pools that are in the river—a bit of a scramble to get to, but there’s nothing like relaxing in a hot spring with cold river water right next to you. Actually my favorite hot springs is whichever one I’m sitting in! And when I can’t get to hot springs, I’ll take the hot tub at my gym ;-)

      5. Clara Bowe*

        +1 Again. Though there is not much to do in the town nearby, but if you go a bit further south to Salida there is a cute downtown and the drive to/from Denver is lovely. Highly recommend the 285 route out of Denver and going back 24 through Divide and Woodland Park. You go right by Pike’s Peak!

        And the lodge’s restaurant is pretty tasty!

    6. Ranon*

      Pick a nice lodge stashed somewhere where the Mr can go adventure and you can hit a spa or do something relaxing.

      There’s probably a gazillion places that fit the bill, personally I’d pick one with hot springs, but you could also do something in Minnesota where he could bike and canoe or whatever, or somewhere in Europe (Dolomites come to mind) or plenty of options in the Adirondacks if you want to keep your travel to a minimum. Or go tropical and hang at the beach and send him para sailing or what have you?

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Assuming you’re US East Coast…
      Quebec is on my wish list and might work for you–lots for him to explore, and world class relaxation for you. With a bilingual twist if you like me enjoy being outside your language comfort zone.

    8. Girasol*

      If a big trip is exhausting, you could poke around Google maps for the best adventure you can find close to home. There are probably places that a visitor to your area would love to see that you haven’t gotten around to seeing yet. Or you can pick an area nearby that you haven’t explored yet, go without any expectations, and find out what’s good about it.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      I believe you need to go later in the winter to see the northern lights in Iceland.
      A Caribbean vacation? Late September should be after the most of the hurricane season.

      1. Just a Name looking for a recommendation*

        No cruises. First and last one was this May. So much seasickness.

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Have to give a shout-out to both Asheville and Boone NC as being very nice.

  24. Vanessa*

    I am looking help with two items.
    First, does anyone have a recommendation for shampoo and conditioner that is higher quality but isn’t ridiculously expensive. I was looking at living proof. Essentially I’m hoping to find something that doesn’t leave my flat straight hair looking limp and oily within 36 hours.
    Second, I am trying to wear sunscreen on my arms and hands. My sunscreen smells like sunscreen. Any good suggestions for less smelly options.

    1. Elle Woods*

      I have been using the Odele line of shampoo and conditioner for a couple of years now and really like it. I have fine, straight hair and the volumizing S&C do wonders for me. It’s available at Target and online.

    2. LemonToast*

      Sunscreen – I like Cetaphil and Vanicream sunscreens. I have rosacea, and my skin is extremely sensitive, and I hate the smell of sunscreen. Those two brands offer sensitive skin/fragrance free options. I think the sunscreen smell comes from the minerals, so if you want something that doesn’t smell like that, you probably need a chemical sunscreen as opposed to a physical one. I use the Cetaphil daily moisturizer with spf 35 on my face, because it’s a very gentle chemical sunscreen and doesn’t smell. Vanicream has some that are physical/mineral sunscreens that I use on my neck and arms, but they are a lot lighter and less smelly than something like Coppertone or other brands like that.

      I will note – these are good for daily use if you are mostly indoors and not in direct sunlight most of the time. I have to bring out the heavy duty stuff when I am outdoors for a long time, which is any major sunscreen brand with high spf, or I use a La Roche Posay sunscreen with spf 50, and it has a slight smell. The lower spf sunscreens just don’t have enough if you are going to be outside all day, and possibly sweating.

    3. Jules the First*

      Lush “Big” shampoo (I never use conditioner) is magic – it leaves my fine hair glowing and bouncy for days.

    4. Forensic13*

      She hasn’t updated in awhile, but there’s a Chinese farmer who goes by Liziqi on YouTube who does really relaxing farming and cooking videos (there are a couple that involve cooking meat that might be less relaxing to some people, just as a heads-up.)

      There’s also Pasta Grannies. It’s just want it sounds like: elderly Italian women showing how to make specific types of pasta.

    5. Worked in IT forever*

      I have fine hair that’s colour-treated. I have used Redken shampoos and conditioners for colour-treated hair for years (first the products in the red bottles and then the ones in the dark pink bottles). They don’t weigh my hair down at all, and I’m pretty heavy-handed with the conditioner because I wash and blow-dry my hair every day.

      The big one-litre bottles are the best deal. In the U.S., you can find them on sale at Ulta reasonably often. (I’m in Canada–we don’t have Ulta up here–but I used to go across the border to shop a few times a year, and I’d always go to Ulta.) If you’re in Canada, Chatters seems to be a good place to buy from.)

    6. Fish*

      I like the Ghost line from Verb. It’s designed to be moisturizing but not weigh your hair down, and it’s pretty reasonably priced.

    7. Anona*

      If you have a Costco membership I highly recommend the Kirkland brand shampoo and conditioner. I have fine hair, and find they are best for giving body and also cleansing. Then on the couple days a week when I actually style it I use expensive leave in product (Ouai spray), which I don’t mind spending more on since a bottle will last me a year and I don’t just rinse it down the drain.

    8. Workerbee*

      Sunscreen – search blatantly for “fragrance free” to find affordable options. Items marketed for babies as well, or sensitive skin. SPF is SPF so don’t get put off by the alleged demographic.

    9. Breena*

      If you’re in the US, you might consider trying the California Naturals shampoo and conditioner at Target–they’re about $8 each. I have straight hair that’s medium thickness, typically wash my hair 2-3 times per week, and have no complaints about the products.

      Sunscreen-wise, I use the Eucerin Daily Hydration Cream SPF 30. There’s a little sunscreen smell initially, but I don’t find it to last long.

    10. MaryB*

      I have very thin, fine hair. I love the Olaplex shampoo and conditioner. Both are $30 a bottle, but each bottle lasts me a 18+ months of washing 3-4x per week.

    11. Stew as Nourishment*

      Need more info. If your hair gets oily quickly, you may be over-washing or maybe you use a lot of silicone-containing products. If you use a lot of silicone-containing products, it can take a long time to get rid of the silicone in your hair. On oiliness, the more you wash, your scalp will produce more oil to compensate and you can get stuck in a cycle of oil overproduction. Another thing that can cause hair to feel oily quickly is if the shampoo pH is too basic. I think in this case, the soap molecules bind to your head oils but do not easily wash away. Shampoo should be slightly acid. Conditioner is typically basic to close the hair shaft because the acidity of shampoo can open it.

    12. Been There*

      For shampoo and conditioner I’ve fallen in love with JVN hair. The bottles are on the expensive side, but I shower every day and a bottle lasts me close to 6 months.

  25. Heliotropium*

    I’m scheduled for an adult ASD assessment in a few weeks (at long last!), and I’m hoping anyone who’s been through this process can share your experiences. I’m 47(f) and would likely fall into the “high functioning” end of the spectrum, so I’m especially curious to hear from those who (or who have) mask(ed) symptoms (and may not be aware of all the masking behaviours). Did your assessor screen for that? How? Was the interview very structured or more conversations? Did you prep (I’m thinking of creating an inventory of examples of how symptoms present, just in case I blank out during the interviews)? Anything you wish you would’ve known beforehand?

    I’m feeling pretty vulnerable about it, so encouragement and well wishes are also welcome:-)

    1. Better late than never :)*

      Congratulations on getting an assessment. It can take so long, and then it can be really nervewracking to go through it.

      Adult assessments can be quite variable, so I don’t know how much of my experience is going to be relevant to what you can expect. I chose a clinic that specializes in adult diagnosis and asked questions about their approach to women, because ASD can present differently in women and also because young girls are socialized in a way that encourages masking. As part of my intake process at the clinic, I filled out a huge long questionnaire, and then when I met with the psychologist, we worked through my answers, and she asked clarifying questions. It’s like we were a team, working together to figure out what my deal was, and it was very comfortable and collaborative. I think, sadly though, that this clinic’s approach is somewhat unusual. I know other adults who had much different, more clinical experiences. You can google to find videos of people talking about their assessments, and you might find that helpful.

      I definitely endorse your idea of preparing so that you feel more comfortable during the process. Also, if there’s anything that will make you feel better during the interviews (a weighted blanket, a cuddly toy, a fidget spinner), go ahead and bring it and don’t be afraid to use it.

      As for masking, there’s the Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q), which you can google for and take to help you see possible adaptations that you’ve created to get through a neurotypical world. I’d like to say that any practitioner who is working with adults is aware of masking and has developed questions to control for masking, but…you know, that’s not always true. So the best advice I can give you is to try to leave your masking behaviors at the door of the building (or the door of your room, if you’re doing these interviews over Zoom).

      I was diagnosed last year, at age 50. I’m also a woman, and the diagnosis made so many things about me and my experiences make sense. I worked with an ND coach for 6 weeks to decide whether I would even pursue a diagnosis. I am glad I worked with the coach, because she helped me see all my autistic traits and adaptations, and I am so glad I got the diagnosis.

      Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. You are the expert on you, not some person who spends a couple of hours with you. It can be scary to be so vulnerable and real with a stranger, but it’s unfortunately necessary to be really clear about the costs you pay in energy and well-being. For example, if going to the grocery store is a sensory nightmare for you, be prepared to explain how terrible it is and don’t minimize your discomfort. If a question doesn’t make sense to you (especially if the assessor is reading a list of yes/no questions), ask clarifying questions.

      Good luck – I hope your assessment process is gentle and thoughtful and that the result helps you in your understanding and self-compassion.

      1. retrowaveRecluse*

        Having had mine recently, I agree with this comment. I know that my previous forays into getting a professional to check my brain didn’t produce anything helpful because I was behind a foot-thick mask. This time I had no cosmetics to restrain my face, I was in clothes that made me feel comfy but I could never ‘wear in public’, and sat how I felt right (yes, like Gollum of LoTR or L of Death Note). Once I was physically more like myself, I could let my deficits show. I assumed a deficit based assessment was coming my way and tried to be honest.

        1. Better late than never :)*

          I love the wording of “I assumed a deficit based assessment was coming” – that’s a really good way to look at it.

      2. Heliotropium*

        Wow. Thank you so much for this rich and thoughtful response, Better late than never :). This is exactly the detail I was hoping for, so thank you thank you! I’ve never heard of an ND coach, and I am queueing up those vids now! I’m so glad you had such a positive experience, and I hope I do too:-)

        Since you’ve been so generous sharing your experience, I’ll share a bit about my story so far. I started this journey 18 months ago when my long-time counsellor suggested I might be autistic. I researched the symptoms and dismissed the idea, wondering if I needed to find a new counsellor. Then, I started reading first-person accounts. This. Changed. Everything.

        I learned how the classic symptoms showed up for other women, learned about masking and code switching. I also learned ASD is commonly misdiagnosed as ADHD and/or anxiety in women, and I have previously been dx’d with both. The more I learned, the more it made sense.

        The cost of the assessment was a barrier, so I scoured every provincial, federal, and community organization for potential funding with no luck. I pressed pause.

        Then, I fell in love. Within a few months, that relationship blew up in my face. I analyzed the explosion through the ASD lens and saw all the signs and signals in the rubble. Disruption of my routines. Boom! Sensory overwhelm. Kaboom! So. Many. Thoughts. And. Feelings. Trapped. Inside. BAROOOOM! I booked my assessment.

        I live on Vancouver island on the west coast of Canada, and no assessors with experience in adult assessments in my area. I emailed a bunch of clinics in the closest major metropolis, Vancouver, and found two assessors who satisfied my queries about the gendered complexities of ASD. It’s a minimum 6 hour journey each way by car, ferry, and bus. Most of the assessment can be done virtually, so I only have to make the trip to their office once. It’s an overnight trip, and this is definitely contributing to my stress.

        My main concern is still the masking. I’m only just building my awareness into my masking strategies, but they’re so automatized at this point that I think I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll do a deep dive into the CAT-Q, and maybe practice unmasking? Is that a thing?

        1. Better late than never :)*

          Glad you found my comment helpful. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope your assessment goes well.

          Unmasking is definitely a process. I really struggled with it – because I don’t think I do a lot of traditional masking. (Like I don’t wear makeup, I’ve always worn comfortable clothes, I’ve always been fine being a bit of a weirdo.) Again, I worked with the same ND coach as helped me before my assessment and what I learned is that I masked my needs and challenges. So I started to be way more transparent and upfront about some of my needs and challenges. (Like at work, I will tell people that I need time to process the information they’ve given me before I make a decision. Or I tell people that I struggle with speaking so I might type in the chat box of a meeting instead.)

    2. Good luck*

      Good luck! I do hope it will go well. My partner tried to get an asessment as 40+, but the neurologist said that she can’t be on the spectrum, because she is in a long term relationship. Cue frustrated groans.

      I have a book recommendation: Sensory: life on the spectrum. An autistic comic anthology edited by Bex Ollerton. There was a lot of things that made us go “oooh, I recognize this”.

  26. Spooky Gal*

    I’m looking for more YouTube/TikTok channels that do soothing videos. Not ASMR stuff, just soothing content. I don’t have many that are just chill and relaxing to watch; most of what I watch is funny or informative. Any recommendations?

    On YouTube, I like Rachel Maksy and Sean’s Kitchen (formerly Cat’s Kitchen). On TikTok, I like Cooper Spoon Inn & Tavern. I think for me, I like relaxing music and a chill vibe for these calm and comforting channels So that’s what I’m looking for.

    1. Spearmint*

      Not sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but one of my go to comforting YouTube channels is Atomic Shrimp. He’s a soft-spoken middle aged nerdy British vlogger. Most of his content is very wholesome and chill. The videos are very authentic and down to Earth, like you’re spending an afternoon with your kindly uncle.

      Many of his videos are vlogs hikes, foraging, cooking, doing random crafting projects, reviewing odd food items ordered online, etc.

      (If you look him up, I don’t recommend just going immediately for his most popular videos, which are “scambaiting” videos where he toys with internet e-mail scammers. They’re good, but more funny than relaxing. But that’s only a small fraction of his content)

      1. Mornington Cresent*

        Oh goodness, I was coming here to recommend Atomic Shrimp myself, and I’m so happy to see someone else got there before me!

    2. BettyD*

      So this one has ASMR in the name, but I personally don’t get ASMR effects from it, just soothing sleepiness. ASMR Twix on YouTube, who visits spas in various Japanese cities.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Preach!! For me I have to avoid reading knitting or cross-stitch sites at work because I am underemployed yet not able to just stitch on reception. It doesn’t make me feel guilty, but it does lead to me opening up Amazon and browsing the yarn and thread listings. I’ve got enough of what amounts to bundles of different colours and thicknesses of string at home that I don’t need any more (although I’ll cop to it being a lot of fun to sift through tubs of coloured thread to find the exact shades I need when I put together a new x-stitch project. I just can’t do it on the front desk at the office…)

        For me, I ‘watch’ iceberg videos, but those are an acquired taste. Basically, they’re a skim of a particular topic and start off with documenting the most well known aspects of that subject and going on through lesser and lesser known things and often darker and darker subject matter. They’re broad overviews or summaries of something rather than detailed documentaries, but I find them useful while playing battle Royale games or doing needlecraft because they don’t require much attention to detail. They tend to be long enough that the voice can be soothing and lull you into a sense of security and well-being, but then they end up on the subject of IDK the Dyatlov Pass incident or the Cupcakes MLP:FIM fanfic and you know that you took a wrong turning at Albuquerque.

        So they’re not always the most soothing videos to watch. They really are often about dark things, mysteries, etc and some are made by edgy, opinionated teens, so I have to put down my needlework or Switch and argue back with them in the comments.

        The Reddit podcasts are also fun because again, they’re mostly just people reading out threads from AskReddit where other people are telling tall tales about things that happen to them. There are one or two channels that now tend to editorialise a bit too much between stories and that’s annoying because they end up excusing bad behaviour or making armchair diagnoses of people who do crappy things. Mostly Facts is the worst offender in this respect. But it’s more because sometimes I just disagree with them on minor points and my brain gets drawn away from what it’s supposed to be doing to argue with them more than that they’re actually saying really offensive stuff, and their heart is in the right place. So YMMV — you might actually appreciate that commentary in between. And certainly, the stories are mostly in the laugh-out-loud ‘a funny thing happened to me today’ zone rather than ‘omg how terrible!’ space, so maybe curate your playlist a bit beforehand.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        When my students were still in classroom covid bubbles, and we couldn’t go to the canteen, I tried to put this on for them over lunchtime, while they had bagged lunches at their desks. They were completely weirded out and really puzzled at the point of it and I still maintain they had no taste!

    3. Goose*

      @Transcend Furniture Gallery on youtube. Something about restorer’s voice puts me to sleep every time.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I like some of the “manly” crafting channels for peaceful stuff. The tidier, traditionally feminine crafts make me go “oooh, I could do that” and then I feel guilty about all my active uncompleted projects. I can just sit back and enjoy metalworking and carpentry without wanting to do them myself.

      -EngelsCoachShop: Old guy who’s been building wagons professionally for decades builds wagons and explains what he’s doing. Mostly blog style showing what he’s been working on that week.

      -Maker B: precision machined clever gizmos. No talking, just the whir of the machines and the click of the tools. Some words on screen explaining what the part is.

      -Pask Makes: A variety of cool projects. A canoe, a mini set of clever drawers, a brass whistle. All done with an excellent eye for beauty and a willingness to spend hours and hours getting the details perfect.

      1. Lucien Nova*

        You might quite like my mechanics, Mister Patina and TysyTube Restoration if you like watching restorations at all! Just some guys restoring old stuff with gratuitous amounts of manly welding, grinding, polishing, etc. I love these channels.

    5. Past Lurker*

      Maria Raczynska has a water color youtube channel where some videos only have instrumental music, no voice over. I find those pretty relaxing.

    6. Weekend Warrior*

      Miranda Mills on YouTube. Book chats, stationery hauls, baking, visits to beautiful Yorkshire scenery, and the Comfort Book Club, hosted with her mom Donna.

    7. Snell*

      This wasn’t made with the aim of being soothing, but it was “easy listening”-type stuff for me, so it’s worth putting out there, I think: Youtube Captainsparklez’s the Deep End series. Minecraft, but noncompetitive, or at most competitive in a good natured, relaxed way. Lots of silly fun. Goals were whatever he decided, and the vibe is no pressure at all.

    8. UsuallyALurker*

      The most relaxing thing I know on YouTube is Baumgartner Restoration. He’s a painting conservationist and his videos are so gentle and lovely to watch. I’ve learned a lot too.

      3rding Jun’s Kitchen. I like watching his videos with his wife on Rachel and Jun’s Adventures too. I think they’ve got quite a bit in common with Rachel Maksy’s videos, and Rachel of Rachel and Jun even gave her a shout-out in one video.

      1. Lucien Nova*

        Painting conservationist? Ooh, that’s a new one to add to my list of potential watches…

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I was going to suggest Baumgartner Restoration. It may or may not give you ASMR but it’s definitely relaxing to watch, especially when he’s cleaning a painting.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      some I’ve enjoyed in the last few years:

      — Liziqi Channel (FYI she has won the court case with her business partner so she’ll be back!)
      — 새덕후 Korean Birder
      –guitaro5000
      –Bernadette Banner
      and many street food vendors, carpet cleaners, wood turners… I’m all over the map.

    10. sswj*

      My current soothing addiction is a guy who does weekend camping trips in his pickup-bed camper. He mostly explores MN and neighboring states. His camera work is getting really good, and the scenery + music choices are just wonderful. He cooks a bit for himself, fixes stuff, marvels at all the beauty around him. It’s really nice. His YouTube channel is Kenny Of All Trades.

    11. Queer Earthling*

      The Jun’s Kitchen recommendation is a good one; they also have another channel, Rachel & Jun’s Adventures, which is pretty fun and low-stakes.

      If you like Rachel Maksy, may I also recommend Bernadette Banner and Morgan Donner? They are also sewists and crafters and a lot of their content consists of just calmly making a project.

      Also, Imamu’s Room is another food one! She’s a Japanese woman living in Canada, making bento boxes and other meals for her family. There’s pleasant music, lots of cooking, and not very much actual talking–most of her communication to the audience is through captions, though occasionally she chats with her daughter or husband while she’s cooking, or highlights their reactions if they’re eating at home.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        I mentioned this thread to my partner and they suggested I add Dollightful as well. She repaints dolls (and often re-sculpts them entirely) and also makes outfits, does hair reroots, etc. The tone is quite upbeat but it’s still a pretty relaxing thing to watch.

    12. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      On YouTube, HeyMayDay and HoneyJubu are both Korean housewives who I find very soothing…they clean, cook, and generally make lovely, calm homes. They have nice music in the background (no speaking, just subtitles) and it’s just like a brain vacation for me!

    13. Lucien Nova*

      I recommend Mountain Rug Cleaning on YouTube. Some of his videos are branded as ASMR but they really aren’t – it’s just an English lad who cleans rugs and does it very well. Hardly ever talking (just at the beginning of some earlier vids) and he does both full-length and sped-up, shortened versions of his videos. Marvellous stuff.

      TysyTube Restoration, Mister Patina and my mechanics (yes he’s stylised all in lowercase, so my apologies if this gets confusing as a result! *lol*) are also very good channels on YT if you love restoration in general. my mechanics is definitely the best of the lot – the man’s a trained engineer and it’s very obvious in all he does, the other two I believe are only just self trained so definitely not as good in some aspects. (There is also a channel called Meine Mechaniker that…seems to do nothing but rip off the content produced by my mechanics. I would avoid them.) Hydraulic Press Channel is also good if you’re not really looking for a chill time but like to see things squished by hydraulic presses.

  27. LemonToast*

    I feel like I’m just kind of burned out on modern life, and none of the suggestions on how to deal with burn out are helping. I think the biggest issue is that I need a better paying job, and that will relieve stress caused by finances. I was in a good place in 2021, and then inflation went INSANE, and wiped out a lot of savings. I’m trying to save back up but it’s been a huge struggle, with just one thing after another. I don’t have the energy, or even the time, to get a side hustle, because doing so would mean spending less time with my family. I’m also just exhausted every day….like feeling foggy headed, like I can’t think, I just distract myself with random websites and barely get any work done.

    I’ve been applying for jobs, but so far have gotten nothing but rejections, and it’s been bringing down my confidence and making it even harder to get out of this fog. I also feel like I can’t share this with anyone. I could really use some financial help, but I don’t want to ask anyone because I never want to be a burden to others, and I’m also super embarrassed. I feel like the reason I’m here is because of bad decisions I made in the past, and I know that’s not totally the case, but it feels like it, especially when I see some of my friends and coworkers getting better jobs with ease. I just feel like a big failure right now.

    1. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

      I’m sorry. It’s rough to be in that spot because you feel so tired and demoralized that it’s hard to push yourself to do things that would help. Yay you for applying to jobs and putting yourself out there!
      You might think about what specific financial help would work – pay off a high interest loan? help with some particular expense? etc. Then how you want to do it. It might be asking for a loan, it might be telling people you’re in a crisis-ish situation and would appreciate donations, go fund me style. Many people probably would help if they knew. I see this happening in online communities I belong to.
      Good luck.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think society is definitely going through a phase, and I totally identify with what you wrote. In my opinion it’s going to be “cleansed” by a recession which may have already started . I’m slightly different than your situation in a logistical sense, but the feeling is identical. I already have the job and social status and savings, but it doesn’t matter. I need a new car and prices are absolutely insane to the point of it feels like just plain old getting ripped off. Same for housing. I coincidentally wanted to move around 2022 but covid and that housing bubble have ruined my plans. Now nothing is selling but everyone is talking like these prices are absolutely normal. OK, then why is everything sitting forever?

      I can handle the mundane waiting, what is grating is the constant barrage of news about how great everything is, the past few months. It feels like gaslighting. I don’t get it. When I felt things were actually going well like in 2018, I kept seeing constant articles about income inequality and those topics. Now that I feel the housing market is a joke and I feel like I can’t afford anything even though I have money, all I see is articles about how the economy is going to “recover” (but the same articles always deny there was any dip in the economy, so I am always confused what they think we are recovering from) and I get told it’s all in my head. Well, is it? I see half empty restaurants and shopping centers and follow some stocks for work, and earnings seem down across the board, but then I see headlines about how earnings are good, and it all feels like someone is trying to get one over on me.

      Stay strong.

      I feel like when the financial media and media in general get this gaslightly about the way things are, it’s a sign a shift is about to happen. IMO it means short term economic pain, then a boom. One day the media is going to go from “everything is great, no recessions!” to “obviously there was a recession” and unfortunately no one is going to bat an eye or remember the flip. But IMO once the recession is over, there will be a boom. I saw a generational economic cycle thing and supposedly 2024 is “supposed” to be the bottom of a longer-term demographic trend and then millennials as a collective enter peak spending years and late 2020s are a boom. So they calculated.

      I felt the same as you in 2007 into early 2008 and everyone thought I was nuts. No one believed me there weren’t job listings and everyone kept asking “what are you doing wrong” and “why can’t you get hired” as if it was a personal problem. Well, it all made sense afterward and especially a few years later, when it came out that it had been a recession the whole time. Of course at the time, “no one” knew. But we knew, because why else would there be basically no job listings or they’d all be fake

    3. WestsideStory*

      I’m sorry. In the past I’ve been on the sh***ty end of wiping out a years savings, I understand the chagrin and the feeling stuck. But you are applying for jobs and that might be a better use of your energy than a side hustle. The only advice I can give is what helped me:
      Focus on the present. Don’t beat yourself up for past mistakes; not blaming others is good but stop blaming yourself so much; you did best you could with what you had at the time.
      Start small. Every day, do one nice thing for yourself, and one thing that will move you forward, like redoing a resume or batch cooking some dinners to get you though part of the week.
      Limit internet time. I found when I was depressed I needed to set an alarm otherwise wasted too much energy there.
      This too shall pass. Sending you a warm virtual hug!

    4. just another queer reader*

      In the short term, are there any resources available that could help relieve a little pressure on your finances?

      I’m thinking of food shelves or community/ church meals; financial help from a hospital if there are any medical bills; state or federal programs like SNAP or the low cost phone program; prescription savings programs, etc.

      This certainly won’t solve everything, but maybe there’s something that can give you a little more breathing room. These resources are there for exactly that reason.

      PS if you were my friend, I would absolutely want to talk about this with you. I feel you that’s it’s really hard, but friends are here to support. I’m going through a hard and embarrassing thing rn and I was worried to share it with my friends, but they’ve been absolutely lovely and supportive. from an internet stranger – take care and wishing you well. xo

      1. Hlao-roo*

        if you were my friend, I would absolutely want to talk about this with you. I feel you that’s it’s really hard, but friends are here to support.

        Seconding this. I have been the friend who asks for help and asking is difficult, I don’t want to downplay that. But I have also been the friend who has been asked for help (or who has offered help) and I have helped happily. I don’t think “ugh, my friend is such a burden.” Instead, I feel honored that my friend turned to me for help and glad that I am in a position to help them tackle their problems.

    5. Jay*

      I’m in much the same spot right now.
      I’ve made decisions that have shoe boxed into an incredibly narrow job type that a large number of very powerful forces are actively working to drive into the ground.
      Seems like every time I work my way back up to stable, something comes along and kicks my legs out from under me.
      The fact that people are always telling me I should do this or do that, or I should have more fun and go out more.
      They are all great ideas and certainly would improve my mood.
      Except I can’t do those things AND pay rent at the same time.
      What helps me are anti-depressants, long walks, good music, crazy video games (the cheapest form of entertainment out there per hour), and fun You-tube reaction videos.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I think it’s pretty normal to feel you must have “done something wrong” if you are struggling to get jobs or see people with similar qualifications getting better jobs than you, but really, a lot of it is down to luck.

      Somebody can do everything right and still end up unemployed, just because the company closed for example. It sounds like you aren’t unemployed but the same thing applies.

      Best of luck with your job search. I hope you find something soon. Like I’ve mentioned here before, I spent 13 years subbing and only getting temporary jobs, then through a string of coincidences – my previous job didn’t rehire me for an extra couple of months (and they sort of messed up the interview process a bit), I got a three week job that led into year long, part-time one, our previous SENCO got offered deputy principal of another school, leaving a permanent position available in our school – I ended up with a permanent job.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I really struggle with brain fog too, and I know what it’s like to lose savings, it completely suuuuuuuuucks. I think you should definitely talk to someone though, because putting shame under the rug is not the best method, because it makes it grow. Also, what is there to be ashamed of here? Inflation? Not getting a huge life goal done immediately? Not having a perfect decision making record? No one is immune to any of that stuff, and I guarantee you that even people who have been financially perfect have dropped the ball somewhere else in their lives, because no one is perfect in all areas. I think shame is a lot like hot sauce, in that it’s not totally useless, but a little dash goes a long way. Wincing over a past decision, or a current rejection helps you course correct, fine tune, and identify what’s important to you. But if you’re living entirely on a diet of hot sauce then you’re going to get indigestion. Are you forgetting to be proud of risking rejection in the first place by putting yourself out there? Forgetting to be pleased that you’re someone who prioritises family life? Are you forgetting that you’re someone who got themselves to “a good place”, and that it usually means you have the skills to do it again, even if the setbacks are shitty and hard and unfair? I don’t know if you’re on social media, but when I feel this way, I get off of it, because it’s all curated perfection and you feel everyone has it better. If you have a real talk conversation with a friend, they feel honored by your vulnerability and they usually can relate and share their own troubles. If you don’t want to do that, then tell your jerk voice to SHUT UP (that’s the tone most helpful for me) about instant problem solving; successful people tackle small, bitesize goals, and reward themselves for trying before making course adjustments. If you wouldn’t talk to a friend this way, you’re not allowed to clobber yourself either!

  28. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Thank you, Missb, for recommending Arkel bike panniers in the July 1-2 open thread. I got the shopper ones and they are amazing. Now I can get a week’s worth of groceries for my family of four on my bike! (Thanks in part to the farmers market being a separate haul.) Feeling grateful for the commenting community here, and to Alison for putting in so much work to maintain this space.

    1. Missb*

      Yay! I’m glad you like them!

      I hope they last you a good long time, like ours have.

      And ditto what you said about Alison’s effort to maintain this site.

  29. ThatGirl*

    I would love ideas on “cocktail” wear for a wedding celebration. I mostly live in jeans. I do own a few dresses, none of them seem quite right for this though. I like retro styles and polka dots, I am usually a size 16 and self conscious about my midsection.

    1. anywhere but here*

      I think the retro style of dress would work really well for you! This might sound counterintuitive but in my experience (I am under a 16 somewhat I think but also self conscious about my belly) having the dress be fitted at the waist and then loose at the top and bottom (especially an A line style) ends up obscuring any midsection related concerns better than something that is loose or not gathered at the waist. I’ll reply with a couple of links of things that seem to fit your style that I think would look cute.

      1. anywhere but here*

        here: https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1KAPOBIyYBuNkSnfoq6AWgVXal/Wipalo-Plus-Size-5XL-Women-Summer-Dress-Vintage-Yellow-Polka-Dot-A-Line-Party-Dress-Casual.jpg
        and here: https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1_4FLl5AnBKNjSZFvq6yTKXXa5/XL-7XL-Plus-Size-Polka-Dot-Dress-Woman-Big-Size-2018-New-Fashion-V-Neck-Short.jpg
        look like good examples of things that look nice & sufficiently formal and seem to match your style. “polka dot dress A line” as a search gives lots of example ideas, although I’m not sure if any of this is helpful as far as actually finding somewhere to buy a dress. Hopefully I’ve at least been slightly better than useless. I hope the wedding celebration is enjoyable and you find something that works!

        1. ThatGirl*

          The first one is very cute though I’d want a different color. I feel like the second one might be a little too empire-waist but you’re right about the general style!

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Check out Trashy Diva. They do fun retro styles. Wife (of similar size to you) and I have to do a cocktail wedding this fall and she found some cute dresses, plus one that came with a matching shirt for me. (Because nothing says “obnoxiously cute married couple” like matching clothes for the rehearsal dinner. )

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I mean, if you’re gonna do obnoxiously cute married couple… a wedding is THE place to do it!

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Unique Vintage has a lot of cute dresses from different decades, including some polka dots :) It would be my first stop for wedding guest outfits if I needed one!

    4. Harriet J*

      I think we may have similar builds and I’ve had luck with “fit and flare” style dresses.
      Now I’m going to check out those sites . . .

    5. Maxine*

      Retro and polka dots and my first thought is rockabilly dresses. That fifties flare is also flattering on larger sizes.

    6. Anon-E-Mouse*

      I’ve had good luck buying dresses for events like weddings and dressy parties at Nordstrom. They have a good range of sizes and prices and good return policies so you can order a few and return what you don’t like.

      Modcloth is also a possibility.

      I agree with others that a-line dresses are great – comfortable and skimming over your midsection without looking voluminous. Empire waist dresses can also be good.

      If you prefer pants you could also wear wide leg pants with a dressy top.

    7. Llama Llama*

      My favorite place to buy dresses is eshaki. You can modify the dress designs (length, sleeve length, neckline). I have bought many dresses from there and have been happy with the fit for all but one.

      The one caveat is that their shipping takes a while.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      My biggest ones were organizing the storage room and painting my home office, which are both done!

      I’d like to go camping even just for a night but didn’t plan ahead so it might not happen. I’ve been doing a lot of day trips/staycation stuff though!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My orange room upstairs is painted and I wanted to finish my counter replacement, which is on the docket for tomorrow. (Fingers crossed.)

      Goal before year end is to redo the floors in three of the bedrooms. I have the flooring already, we just need to plan for installing it.

    3. Gyne*

      Kids are back at school, so THEIR summer is over! using the time to purge their closets of too-small clothes and make a BIG Goodwill drop off.

    4. Bonsai*

      Sobbing in terror? lol

      Long-distance family is coming to visit over Labor Day, after being overseas for a decade. My husband has been spiraling with self-inflicted health issues for a few years, and I have not been successful at bearing the load alone. I have a month to figure out how to repair and clean my entire home, on top of juggling multiple jobs.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Maybe the Well Spouse Association could help? We are exactly what the name says–people of “good” health who meet to talk about how hard it can be to care of our spouses/partners with health challenges.

        If you send me a burner email I can send you additional information about an online group that by chance is meeting **tonight** (and will meet again later this month).

        Sending you moral support and internet hugs (if you want them).

        “Good” because spousal caregivers are famous for overlooking their _own_ health.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      – Get bikes for both me and my partner (halfway there, we got one this week!)
      – Organise the space in the garden shed (work in very slow progress)
      – Have a barbecue in the garden with lots of friends (that was meant to be my birthday, this weekend, and we had to cancel it because of awful weather)

      …plus several recipes I was hoping to cook that feel like they could bring a taste of summer, but I’m changing my plans constantly on those, since here it feels pretty much like November. We did manage to make gelato, twice, and it’s been pretty good.

    6. hyacinth yam*

      How about “want-to” more summer specific things? Go to an outdoor movie or concert, baseball game, etc.?

    7. BlueWolf*

      We really need to fix our grill so we can grill at least once before summer is over lol. I’d like to host a barbecue at some point. We bought this house with a big yard and a nice porch and we hardly ever have people over.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Help my teen finish a woodworking project. Redo the waterseal on an outbuilding.
      …and something for the Friday forum.

    9. Girasol*

      It’s been a hairy summer so I haven’t taken the kayak out. And now my favorite lake has toxic blue-green algae, mosquitoes with west nile, and people breaking into cars in the parking area. So I want to go camping where I can paddle.

    10. carcinization*

      I’ve gone swimming (in the ocean and in the spring-fed pool this year) so I’m good!

    11. Bluebell*

      I’ve been to lake beaches this summer but still want to get to an ocean beach. I’m in the midst of finishing repainting some furniture too. I’ve managed to pick fruit and to listen to music outside, which are my usual summer to dos.

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

      Learning and transferring courses to our new course management system. Dealing with estate taxes for my dad. Ughhhhhhhhhh.

    13. allathian*

      Pick our black currant bushes clean and make some juice out of the berries.

      Harvest our 6 potato plants and see how many baby potatoes we got.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Visiting Walden Pond and the Louisa May Alcott house. Also going to the damn beach. I moved here to be near the ocean and still haven’t actually seen it yet!* Although yesterday I was in the Seaport district for a nerd con**, and I had to walk over the channel bridge on Summer Street to the convention center. I could smell it, lol.

      *to clarify, I have been seaside before, just not here
      **worth all the walking on a bum knee to get to hug Henry Winkler :3

      1. Bluebell*

        Elizabeth- just take the blue line to Wonderland if you want a quick check off . if quality is more important, Singing Beach is on commuter rail, or drive to Good Harbor.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ooh thanks! *looks up parking costs for Good Harbor* OH HAIL NO
          The train it is, lol.

          At least being further inland I don’t have to worry about coastal flood warnings.

    15. Camelid coordinator*

      I was hoping to combine one of kiddo’s requirements for the Cooking merit badge (which he has to finish this summer) with staying in a campground and seeing the meteor shower on Friday. Finishing up this requirement (among others) was a summer must-do but, sad to say, it looks like the current plan doesn’t include camping Friday. On the other hand I am glad he is coming up with a plan and that it will get done!

  30. Teapot Translator*

    I wanted to thank everyone who answered my question about budgets!
    For anyone who doesn’t know (I didn’t until last weekend), there are calculators online to figure out how much a car costs per year (as in insurance, gaz, repairs, etc.). I used CAA’s calculator because I’m in Canada and now have a line in my budget for the car maintenance/repair.

  31. Teapot Translator*

    I’m looking for recommendations for graphic novels/mangas, etc. I don’t read horror and if it’s a series, I would prefer that it’s complete. Also, has to be physically published. I spend too much time on the computer, so I only read on paper.

    1. kina lillet*

      Not to recommend an already extremely popular manga but…have you read Dungeon Meshi (Delicious in Dungeon)? Man, it’s good!!!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I know nearly nothing about mangas (read Sailor Moon as a teenager), so I hadn’t heard about it. Thanks!

    2. Rara Avis*

      I’m currently reading Thermae Romae. (There’s a Netflix show based on it.) A Roman architect keeps getting inspiration by slipping through time into modern Japanese baths.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. A modern reimagining of Little Women.
        Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, by Hake and Hale. Really clever takes on some fairy tales.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Some of my favorites:

      Ouran High School Host Club – 18 volumes, complete series. Very funny, some good character relationships, goofy plots mixed with heartwarming friends-to-the-rescue stuff. (There’s an anime that’s very good as well, though it doesn’t cover the entire series.)

      Master Keaton: a series about an archaeologist/ex-hostage-negotiator who wanders through life having adventures or solving other people’s problems or coping with his own quirky family. Pretty much episodic, so each story-arc can be read on its own, but there are some ongoing elements. (This one has some good anime adaptations as well.)

      On the darker side: Monster, a realistic-setting noir-style mystery in which a doctor finds himself hunting down the person whose life he saved as a child, and who now seems to be on a murderous rampage. (There’s an excellent anime of this one, and – unusually – it covers the entire manga series.)

      Pluto: a futuristic-noir re-imagining of an “Astro Boy” story, in which the world’s best-known super-robots are being targeted by a mysterious foe; lots of what-does-it-mean-to-be-human elements here.

      On the sweet-and-charming-with-occasional-scary-bits side: Natsume’s Book of Friends; it’s a long-running series that is still going on, but most of the stories are stand-alone (though it’s fun to see how the main characters grow and change over time). A boy who can see spirits gets caught up in helping them and/or keeping them from harming humans, while avoiding being targeted as “weird” for seeing things that, to others, aren’t there.

      That’s just off the top of my head; there are so many good series out there!

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I loved Nimona by Nate Stephenson. He recently changed his name, older versions may still be listed as their former name or N.D. while transitioning.

        Allison Bechdel’s (of the infamous Bechdel test) Fun Home

        The Tea Dragon Society

        Bea Wolf

        Girl Genius

        1. Snell*

          !!! This is how I find out Nate Stephenson changed his name omg. I first came across him on tumblr from silly X-Men First Class comics, and ringwraiths on fixie bikes. I read Nimona online when it was still free to read in its entirety. When I saw it as a hard copy on a bookstore shelf, I thought “Nice, I recognize that one.” When there was noise about the new She-Ra, I didn’t watch it, but I thought “Oh yay! Tumblr blogger I like is achieving Professional Success® IRL!” I clearly haven’t kept up. I took a look just now, and it’s weirdly heartening to see how much his Wikipedia entry has grown since I last remember it.

        2. Lady Alys*

          I second “Girl Genius” – it’s not finished, but there are, like 21 volumes you can get started with (new panels every M/W/F). The author/artists do a Kickstarter campaign roughly annually to get the next book printed. It’s gaslight fantasy with SCIENCE!! and it’s great fun.

    4. Jay*

      Watchmen, Sin City, and Identity Crisis.
      All three are Western instead of Manga.
      Watchmen is Allen Moore’s masterpiece (so much better than the film adaptation).
      Identity Crisis is, maybe, the best DC Comics story ever.
      Sin City is, well, Sin City. It’s a loosely related series of stories over several books. Sort of like Pulp Fiction, only much, much more so.
      I will warn you up front: These are very, VERY adult themed. If you are triggered by much of anything, these are not for you. They are bloody, violent, full of nudity and sexual themes. The writing is also amazingly good and, at least with Watchmen, it can be shockingly deep and insightful.

    5. Snell*

      Fullmetal Alchemist. Fits all your criteria, and I loved it then and now. Definitely one of those stories that I look at so differently as an adult than I did as a child.

      I wasn’t about to say anything until I saw you say you know nearly nothing about manga, and then I had to make this rec.

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        The same artist also has a slice-of-life manga called Silver Spoon. The main character is a city kid who enrolls in an agriculture/high school.

    6. Girasol*

      I have been totally charmed by the graphic novel Digger, which is good graphics but not manga. I love the lead character.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Digger: Yes, that one’s awesome! It’s by Ursula Vernon, aka T. Kingfisher, nearly all of whose work I adore. Digger was such a fun, sometimes-philosophical twist on the graphic novels/webcomics I’d read before that it still stands out for me.

    7. Bluebell*

      I loved the graphic memoir Good Talk by Mira Jacob. Some very affecting parts about identity and the US post 9/11 but also some truly funny chats w her young son.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        I was coming here to recommend this. Also Maus if you are okay with heavy material (it’s about the author’s dad who survived the Holocaust). These are the only two graphic novels/memoirs I’ve read and both were excellent.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          Maus (two volumes) is a classic and a must-read.
          Ghost World (on which the cult classic film of the same name is based) is a favorite of mine.

    8. Cat*

      Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton. It’s a breathtaking memoir of her time working in the oil sands and as a woman in a heavily male dominated field. Easily in the top 100 books of my life.

    9. Anonymous cat*

      Fruits Basket—manga about a girl who gets involved with a family who can transform into the animals of the zodiac. Very charming!

      There’s also an anime version but I haven’t seen it.

    10. InvisibleFish*

      Look at things by Mike Mignola. He’s part of the team behind Hellboy. There are some things that could be considered horror, but his stuff is pretty wide ranging. Even the stuff that could maybe seem like horror at first glance usually just has a spooky element. The Hellboy arc itself is … something. He becomes a tragic hero. I would snatch him up to rescue him if he was a real person. There is a LOT to explore.

    11. Swoon*

      I find it difficult to read graphic novels or manga, but one I really loved was the Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. It’s a lovely fairy tale about a prince who crashes his own balls in drag and his swoony relationship with one of the few people who knows his secret, the girl who makes his dresses. It’s lovely.

    12. Pumpkinhead*

      I recently read She Loves to Cook, She Loves to Eat by Sakaomi Yuzaki. It was originally a webcomic but recently licensed in English and physically printed.

  32. YayFringe*

    I’m going to the Edinburgh Fringe next week! I’m visiting a friend who lives in Manchester and we’re going up together on the train. I’m mentally preparing for it to be a zoo. I have tickets to Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder, which is a musical that has some buzz. Anyone have any tips or recommended shows? My grown up theater kid is delighted.

    1. Rara Avis*

      My school is performing “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” there. They’re pretty good!

    2. Maxine*

      Check out Irish stand-up group Foil, Arms & Hog on YouTube and decide whether you want to go see their show :)

      1. Helvetica*

        Seconded! They are delightful and I would love to see them at Fringe but so far I make do with supporting them on Patreon and watching the previous live shows.

      2. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Thirding Foil, Arms and Hog! I haven’t been to any of their Fringe shows, yet but have been to a live show elsewhere and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!! (I’m going to see them in the autumn, again. Even with the same show as last time – but they put so much spontaneous stuff in that it’s going to be a different show nevertheless)

    3. Claire*

      Tip #1 – if you can, be prepared to walk as much as possible. Public transport gets crowded and slow in August, and it’s usually quicker to walk between venues in the city centre.

      Tip #2 – if you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t want to walk/move around one day, pick a venue like the Pleasance or Assembly at George Square which has lots of shows on and set up camp in the courtyard/garden/whatever social space there is. Then buy tickets to whichever shows there take your fancy through the time you’re there. It can be a good way to see three or four shows over an afternoon or evening without the hassle to get from venue to venue. Those venues generally have food and drink places available for between show refreshments.

      Tip #3 – at some point, just walk down the Royal Mile during the day and see how many show flyers you get handed along the way, then pick one at random and go see it (bonus points if you get given free tickets). This is traditional.

      Tip #4 – find places to occasionally escape the crowds if you can. The Meadows are usually busy, especially if the weather is good, but there’s tons of space so you can find a spot to chill. Dunbar’s Close Garden is a hidden gem just off the Royal Mile down at the the Canongate, it’s usually peaceful and a nice place to take a break. The Botanics (Royal Botanic Gardens) are worht a visit anyway and can be a nice escape from the city centre. And there’s always Holyrood Park – Dunsapie Loch at the top back side of the park is a lovely spot, and there are currently half-grown cygnets and ducklings to watch, as well as the resident grey heron.

      Tip #5 – Shakespeare for Breakfast. I haven’t seen this year’s show yet but this is a Fringe staple and I’ve loved every version I’ve seen. Often a sell-out so book ahead.

      Have fun, and welcome to Edinburgh!

    4. Texan In Exile*

      I just learned about Choir! Choir! Choir! and am going to see them in Chicago next month. They teach you a popular song and then you all sing it together. I binge watched their videos and it looks like a blast!

      They are at Fringe next week! Check them out!

      (choirchoirchoir dot com)

    5. Lady Alys*

      My friend’s daughter is in an aerial ballet/circus troupe in Chicago – they went last year for the first time and were invited back this year – if that sounds interesting look up “Brave Space,” they’ve gotten a rave review on underbellyedinburgh.co.uk

    6. sswj*

      A friend is performing there! She is Annie Lightbody, and doing Annie’s Shakespeare Shakedown: That Is The Question(I think that’s what she’s calling it). She’s amazing!

    7. AC*

      Wet, a one woman comedy show from British-Irish comedian Alison Spittle should be great. I have been listening to her podcast on BBC Sounds for a couple of years.

  33. Still Healing*

    I need an outside force to tell me what I’m pretty sure I already know, but I’m just too in my own feelings about it. Something I’ve always struggled with My father is that he is a little dumb with emotions. Most significant example was last autumn, I fell at his house while visiting him and broke my hand. For three weeks afterward, while I was trying to even figure out if my hand was broken, because it was such a weird break and hard to diagnose, I had multiple other family members and friends, and even parents of friends offering to help me anyway they could or calling me to check on me. But not my father, who I fell right in front of. When he did finally call me three weeks later, I blew up at him a bit, listing everyone who had offered to help me in the weeks since my injury when he hadn’t even called to check on me. He was very defensive, saying he thought of me every day, and didn’t seem to understand how I had no way of knowing that when he doesn’t pick up the darn phone. He said that I could ask him for anything and he would do it, but I was frustrated because he had to be told what I needed.

    In the year since then, I have worked on accepting that my dad is just a little dumb in empathy and knowing what others need. I know I could call him and ask him anything and he would do it, but I can’t rely on him to think of it himself. So now, my father has injured himself and will be dealing with his injury for a few weeks. In the week since, he’s hurt himself, I have called him twice to check on him. Each time he expressed that he was glad I called.

    I have bitten my lip, but it is everything I can not to say “well, I called because I care, checking in on you is how I show you I care even from afar and now, you know what I would like from you the next time I injure myself”. In my brain, I know I can’t make his injury about me; I guess I just didn’t realize that I’m still feeling kind of hurt, even when I thought I was growing from my frustration. So please, commenters of the Internet, tell me to just leave it alone, and not bring it up now no matter how much I want to.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I do think you need to not harangue him about it, but it also sounds like you may need some help in mental reframing for yourself. Maybe processing with a trusted friend or counselor, if you find yourself fixated on it. Your dad is who he is, and I assume he’s shown you love in other ways. But not the way you hope for. The hard part is accepting that.

      1. Observer*

        I think that this is sound advice.

        With some people, you could say something like “Welcome to my world. How would have felt if I had *not* called?” and gotten some traction. But from what you say, I think that your father would not understand what you are getting at. He might even reply that he wouldn’t be particularly upset, even though he is glad you called.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’m in between on this. I think it’s worth talking to him about again, but not right now while he’s recuperating. So maybe telling yourself “not yet” will be more tolerable than trying to swallow it completely.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      No advice but I’m right there with you. My dad has hurt my feelings so many times from just being clueless and I think he’d be devastated if he knew. He recently stepped up in a really big way for a crisis in our family so I know he CAN do more, but when it’s more like “hey, it would be nice if you texted first sometimes” it’s hard to bring up, especially while still dealing with the aftermath of the family crisis.

    4. Maxine*

      I read a tumblr post talking about this from the other side but for the life of me I can’t find it again. Something about poster loving her boyfriend and family and friends but not missing them. There wasn’t the need to tell them her day-to-day experiences. She thought about them often, fondly, but the act of thinking of them was enough, that counted as talking to them for her and she forgot that she actually hadn’t done that, she had only thought it.
      That sounds a bit like your dad? He thought of you and that counted in his opinion as talking to you?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This is me. (Not literally, I didn’t write the Tumblr post, but I probably could’ve.) I love my people, but if something doesn’t bring someone specifically to mind, I don’t really think of them too much when they’re not around. (Out-of-sight-out-of-mind writ large.) I also, like rainyday says below, don’t understand other folks’ emotions. I don’t particularly understand my own emotions, but they’re generally pretty low-key, I’m not a terribly emotional person to either the positive or negative end of the spectrum. When I get upset or grumpy or sad, I just want people to leave me alone, so I don’t know what they want or need from me when they get upset, and generally they won’t (or can’t) just tell me. So my options are to guess, or do nothing.

        A lot of autism/ND writers talk about how ND folks aren’t lacking empathy, they just have way too much of it and it’s paralyzing – I am the exact opposite of that. I just don’t get it. I can get as far as “Oh, man, I’m sorry, that really sucks!” and then I am paralyzed with trying to figure out what else is appropriate and end up doing nothing, for good or ill.

    5. rainyday*

      I totally get why you are hurt by this, but it just doesn’t sound like something you will be able to change in him, so you might need to try and reframe it. This is very much what my father is like. He doesn’t “do” emotions, doesn’t seem to get how other people might be feeling, how feelings might get hurt, what support people might want emotionally. As we have become adults my siblings and I have (had to) come to accept that this is just how he is, he loves us but shows his love in different ways. He wasn’t able to ask how I was doing after the death of someone close to me, but he came and regrouted my bathroom. We grouse about it to each other, but there is no point in bringing it up to him as he won’t understand and will be hurt. I’m not saying “leave it alone” but maybe there is someone else you can talk about it with? I get that it’s hard though, this has taken me years.

    6. Jasmine Rice*

      Oh my gosh, do we have the same dad? I was so confused about my dad not reaching out to me, because I know he loves me and would do anything for me. Even during some crises — nada. I finally confronted him. So it turns out there were two reasons. (1) He is super uncomfortable on the phone. I kind of knew that but it’s so diff from most people that I didn’t really get it. (2) He worries that I’m busy. So he doesn’t want to bother me. Aaaaargh! I told him to call and if I’m busy I wiuld say so. Nope, we finally decided that I just need to initiate the calls. I’ve made my peace with it. And I’m just glad we talked about it, because I was feeling so hurt.

    7. Washi*

      In my family, it’s just a thing that the younger generation is expected to reach out to the older one. My grandparents have never called me in their whole lives, and when I lived far from my parents, they very very rarely called me. The thought is the young ones are the busiest, they get to decide how often to reach out. My in-laws don’t have that unspoken rule and I actually felt quite smothered by them initially because it felt so weird to have his grandparents and parents reaching out all the time (they also feel that it’s better to err on the side of more communication rather than less, which also took some getting used to.)

      My parents are actually pretty emotionally intelligent, this is not them being “dumb” about emotions, but just the dynamic that has existed for decades. Could there be some of both here? Did your grandparents regularly call your parents and offer support? I’m wondering if thinking of it as a generational thing might help you make peace with it.

    8. AC*

      I’m sorry for this, and I do agree with ThatGirl’s take. This also reminded me totally of the chapter in Fern Brady’s new memoir, Strong Female Character, about her father; you may want to check it out to read about someone else’s similar experience.

    9. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      This makes me think about the 5 Love Languages. Could you have different ones? Im wondering if his is acts of service, or if he’s just avoiding.

      Regardless of which it is, could you phrase a request as ‘if you would do anything for me, then whenever you think of me, would you please reach out? I miss you and want to connect with you and feel supported by you in that way”

    10. Old Plant Woman*

      Oh yes I hear you. Men of my generation can be good people and dumber than a box of rocks. Can almost promise you he’s thinking… If she needs me to mow the lawn, she’ll call. If she needs her floor mopped, she’ll call…a woman, not me. Emotional support? Huh what? Call a woman. Maybe I could send her money? Nah. She might be insulted. And he’ll feel a little sad and left out, but figure that’s just how life goes.
      So you might be able to change his point of view. But I really wouldn’t expect that to work out well for anybody. I think you’ll end up frustrated and disappointed and he’ll be confused and hurt. Maybe a middle ground is asking him to do things with and for you that work, make sense, from his point of view. Like call him up and say “I miss you dad. Would you come over and help me with… and then I’ll make dinner or…” Hope it works out well for you. I’m feeling a little envious of you because my dad passed when I was a kid.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      This is so funny that you’re trying to restrain yourself from “telling” him which behavior to use… but you are telling him what behavior to use with your own actions! Modelling what you want others to do by actually doing it, is far, far more powerful than just saying it. If you do feel the need to concrete the message with words, I would save it for when you actually do need to say it for yourself, not at a time when he’s in need. So, let’s say that you hurt yourself in the future, instead of being silent for three weeks and then blowing up in one go, remind him much, much earlier that you’d like him to contact you at least x time per y time period. I think the main thing is that he’s let you know he’s there for him to make requests of so make the request for him to call you already!!! Specify how and when!!! I would also let go of judgement on someone “needing to be told” and just start asking for what you need. People are not mindreaders, and what’s intrinsic to you, is not intrinsic to every person. Some people hate reach outs and fuss – they’d much rather ask for help, while others greatly prefer the affection of an offer. You have to communicate and give people cues.

  34. Forensic13*

    Writing friends, any tips on agent queries? I’ve started but only one so far has asked to see the manuscript (ended up negative, but still.).

    I know it’s hard! Just want to make sure I’m not completely off base.

    1. sagewhiz*

      Grab a copy of the July/August issue of Poets & Writers magazine! There’s an entire section of useful info on agents, editors, etc. If you cannot find it on a bookstore newsstand a single copy can be ordered. Just gave them a call to find out how, since it’s not apparent at the site.

      Go to p&w dot org slash archive. Single copy is $15. (Annual subscription is well worth the investment, but wouldn’t start till the Oct/Nov issue.) I’ve subscribed for years and it’s always chock full of good (and always encouraging) articles.

    2. Tiny clay insects*

      Manuscript Academy has an excellent podcast where they chat with agents and editors. I learned TONS about querying from them, just listening to those podcasts. They also have some excellent paid resources, but even the free stuff is fantastic.

    3. Maryn*

      I second Nathan Bransford’s blog and add Miss Snark and AbsoluteWrite’s Query Letter Hell.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Chuck Sambuchino has good publishing and querying advice. He also wrote a hilarious book called How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.

  35. Bored Kitty*

    For those of you with indoor only cats, do you regularly give them flea/tick/heartworm preventative?

    I have a young indoor only cat and no dogs or other pets. My vet insists that she should be on flea/tick/heartworm prevention. They said that if a mosquito gets in the house and it’s a carrier of heartworms, there is no cure for that for cats and it can kill her.

    I can’t help but worry about the long term side effects of these chemicals. Also, it’s around 25 per month for this which is a little pricey. Especially if I ever want to get more cats.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband doesn’t give them to his cats because we both know too many horror stories about them, the cats are indoor only, and the dogs (who do go outside obviously) are both treated consistently. Our vet is fine with this.

    2. anon24*

      I have 2 indoor cats and I have them on Revolution. I live in an apartment and my old vet had pointed out that she got a lot of people in apartments whose indoor only cats got fleas after dog owners in the building brought them into the hallway and they found their way in and to the cat. My current vet has said it’s probably fine, and I’m sure it would be, but I worry about heartworms so I’ve always had them on it. We pay for a 6 month supply from Chewy and it’s not bad price wise- for 2 cats it’s around $20/month

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      I have indoor cats. I’ve never given them heartworm meds. I live in a low-risk area, and they’re not exactly vitamins…even if they were free, the risk / reward isn’t there. I do put long acting flea drops on them whenever they go to the vet (the week before, unless it’s an emergency trip) but not the rest of the time.

    4. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Yes, I do now. Somehow my indoor-only cat got bitten by a mosquito and developed a mycoplasma infection. We didn’t realize anything was wrong until he became very emaciated. The vet said that he had been infected a long time because his RBC count was extremely low and the whites of his eyes turned yellow. Three days of hospital care and a month of antibiotics took care of the infection. He’s been healthy ever since. The bill was high enough that the vet asked us if we wanted a few minutes ‘to talk privately about the course’ we wanted to take before proceeding with treatment. We decided that prevention was less stressful than the cure–a month of pilling a cat 2x a day!

    5. Generic Name*

      2 indoor cats. No flea tick heartworm meds for them. I do give my dog literally every preventative known to veterinary science, but obviously the dog goes outside.

    6. Burning Out At Both Ends*

      my sweet indoor cat gets flea treated once a year for when she does her annual “I am a wild thing” run. She’s too old to go outside (13) but she is determined, and I am allergic to flea bites.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Your phrasing entertains me :) Do you treat her after, or does she schedule her freedom run?

      1. Squidhead*

        Same number of cats, same circumstances, and we don’t medicate either. We do the 3-year rabies and (um, whatever the other one is) when they come due, though. Some vets won’t treat without the rabies shots (I don’t blame them).

      2. RussianInTexas*

        Same. We’ve had a flea issue years ago, complete mystery. Everyone was treated then, but not since.

    7. Anthology*

      My vet favors a minimalist approach, so we don’t do any parasite prevention for our fully indoor cat in our single-family home. I would probably reconsider if we had a condo or apartment. When we had cats who enjoyed leash walks, we did give meds.

    8. Don'tbeadork*

      Our 7 share a house with two dogs who go in and out frequently. We don’t treat monthly but we do every three months or so. I had a cat with heartworm once and OMG I do NOT want to go through that again! He recovered just fine, but I’d rather the preventative on a somewhat reduced schedule than another cat with heartworm.

      Dogs, of course, are treated with Bravecto regularly. And Heartgard, because a dog with heartworm is even scarier than a cat with heartworm.

    9. Flower necklace*

      My indoor-only cat gets Revolution once a month. My family’s cat got fleas when I was a kid and they were a pain to get rid of. My current circumstances are very different compared to my family’s back then, but I still never want to end up with fleas. For what it’s worth, monthly flea treatment wasn’t an issue for my family’s cat. My mom gave him it to him his whole life, and he lived twenty years.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      No, and our vet has never suggested that. I only gave it to my cats when we had a flea infestation. (Probably carried in on a new puppy, but then bred on the ancient cat who skulked in the basement. Then we gave everyone monthly doses and at the vet’s advice alternated between two brands (so one on the first, the other on the fifteenth) which eventually cleared everything.)

      The dog gets a chewable flea and tick preventative, and a chewable heartworm preventative; the cats to not.

    11. Lilo*

      The vet never suggested heartworm meds for my indoor only cat (who was pushing 20 when he died, nothing related to heartworm).

    12. Come On Eileen*

      My two indoor-only cats snuck outside a few times last month and brought fleas in with them. Took me a while to tell what was going on, but I eventually figured it out. It was a pain to get rid of, hired a pest control company and gave them both flea meds. Now that the worst of it is over, I probably won’t continue to give them the meds for all the reasons you listed.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      We don’t give our indoor cat any of that. Our dog, who goes outdoors, is on heartworm pills year round. No flea/tick stuff for either of them and it has never been an issue.

    14. carcinization*

      I don’t use this for my indoor cats (who nevertheless have regular vet checkups and vaccines), and this has not been a problem in over 20 years of having a few different cats.

    15. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Our adult cat gets out every so often and often comes home with fleas. We also live in a high-bug area with feral cats, so it’s likely we’re bringing in eggs and maybe parasites on our shoes or yard work clothes. Usually we don’t give the flea/tick drops until he gets infested, and they clear it up in a couple weeks.
      But last summer we adopted a kitten who came with fleas, and we STILL can’t get rid of the fleas a year later. We probably should have gotten the vet involved sooner, they recommended a different brand that seems to be helping.
      You’ll have to evaluate your own risk, in our case treating only after an infestation worked for years, right up until it didn’t.

      1. carcinization*

        Borax is the only thing that helped us get rid of fleas in our house when we ended up having them (at the time our dog’s flea preventative had failed).

    16. TX_trucker*

      My vet says that indoor cats in coastal Texas and all of Florida should be on heartworm prevention, but the rest of the USA can skip it. For fleas, he suggests a wait and see approach. Some areas have a huge flea problem, even if you have zero pets.

    17. PoolLounger*

      We do. We had indoor only cats who somehow got fleas. It was awful. Took ages to get them out of the house. Now we give all our cats flea/tick/heartworm meds. I will say, I’m not working at all about the “chemicals” (water is a chemical, not a fan of using the word in a negative sense) in meds. I’ve had 0 bad pet experiences with meds, and seen many poor pets with awful flea and tick problems.

  36. Roasted red peppers*

    This is a very specific cooking question. What are ways to use jarred roasted red peppers? I have a big unopened jar that I bought in a moment of culinary bravado, and no idea how to use it. What could I add it to, what should I not add it to? I cook mostly vegetarian plus the occasional chicken, fwiw.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Purée into sauce – great in tomato sauces or soup. Or dressings, Add to salads or eggs or hummus. Make bruschetta.

    2. ghost_cat*

      I frequently use roasted red peppers to make chilli. It’s also great in frittata with whatever vegies and cheese I have on hand.

    3. recipe time*

      We are mostly vegetarian too, and we make sandwiches with jarred roasted red peppers. Specifically, we make a sandwich that I believe is based on a Two Peas and Their Pod recipe involving roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and arugula on ciabatta bread. It’s a delicious and easy weeknight dinner with a side of roasted veggies!

    4. Mari*

      there’s a really yummy recipe on the nytimes cooking blog for a roasted red pepper and chickpea tomato stew (just google Pressure Cooker Chickpea, Red Pepper and Tomato Stew nytimes and it should pop up).

    5. Gyne*

      they are one of my favorite things. thinly slice zucchini tossed with olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, and salt, then let them cool and make a sandwich with bread, hummus, the roasted peppers and zucchini, and feta. add any other roasted veggies you like.

      cook pasta of any kind, then toss with olive oil, peppers, Kalamata olives, and sprinkle with feta cheese.

      put on pizza!

    6. California Dreamin’*

      I make a sort of pesto out of them using the peppers instead of basil and walnuts instead of pine nuts. (I have a specific recipe, but any pesto recipe would work with those substitutions.) chop it all up in a food processor and toss with penne. It’s a summer favorite of ours!

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Ooh. I have peppers I need to use up, so I’ll roast them in my air fryer and pick up some walnuts to make this! It sounds so good.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          Yes! I sometimes make this with fresh peppers and I blacken them on my gas stovetop and rub off the skins. I think you could similarly blacken them in the air fryer much more easily!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Omg that sounds so good. I just bought a big bag of walnuts to put on salads, but this is a good way to use some of them up.

    7. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      If you gently squish them between some paper towels first, they’re excellent in sandwiches and wraps. I’d use any assortment of crisp veggies, something creamy like avocado or hummus, a drizzle of pesto, and hearty bread.

      They’re also fantastic in tabouli and pasta/bean salads.

    8. Another Janet*

      Muhammara or romesco dips, if you have a food processor or blender! Great with pita or vegetables.

    9. Jay*

      Here in New Bedford, they are used very often in Portuguese cooking.
      I think the best of the lot that I’ve had is on a Bifana sandwich. If you don’t eat pork, you can swap that out for chicken, which you said you do eat. I would recommend using boneless, skinless thighs instead of breasts for the sandwich. You can get the sauce recipie on line. It’s also not uncommon to add a fried egg, although not everyone likes that.
      I’ve also had Chicken Cacciatore that made excellent use of roasted red peppers.
      You can also look at stuffing them full of, just all kinds of stuff, from rice and veggies to meats and cheeses.

    10. Snell*

      This involves an experiment on your part, so bit of a risk, but here goes: Isa Chandra Moskowitz (the Post Punk Kitchen) has a wonderful recipe for sundried tomato mac & cheese, and its process is like, no effort. It’s delicious. It’s the only time I cook with sundried tomatoes, but I like it so much that I regularly buy jars of sundried tomatoes for it. I have this idea that you could sub in your peppers (+ enough oil) for the sundried tomatoes.

      I have no idea how it would turn out in real life, but it sounds really good in my head. I’ll add a link in the next comment.

    11. Unicornucopia*

      I like it with feta-pasta sauces, or puréed with a tomato sauce. I also make a basked feta appetizer and will add small roasted pepper pieces to that (a dip with bread). Some are more salty/briny than others and I like to rinse those first for my preferred flavor but the Trader Joe’s brand I don’t do that with.

    12. Mstr*

      You can simply bake it with the chicken — put a thin layer underneath & cook as usual. (Could also add a layer on top & cover it to cook.) Season the chicken with some basil, oregano and garlic powder. I like to slice the chicken up at the end and mix the peppers in to serve it.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Bruschetta.
      Mine is closer to Texas toast–I like some chew to the bread.
      -Chop up a garlic clove and put in olive oil with some salt and perhaps red pepper flakes, let infuse for a bit. (Ideally I think of this in the morning.) Brush oil on slices of crusty bread (e.g. sourdough, Russian rye, a baguette) and bake in a hot oven directly on the grate for 5 minutes or so. Drain the red pepper slices, tear up if large, and place on the toasts. Can add some goat cheese if you want to have more protein.

      Good sliced up and added to tacos.

      Puree into a pasta sauce.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Note: I do the garlic in oil thing because I have done the “rub a sliced clove of garlic over the bread, slicing off a sliver each time” thing and decided it was too annoying.

    14. carcinization*

      I made a lovely Half-Baked Harvest recipe with them, Roasted Red Pepper alla Vodka Pasta, easily google-able. They are nice in pasta in general.

    15. Taly*

      There’s a quick and easy pasta sauce I love for this. Throw a jar of roasted red peppers into a blender along with some parmesan cheese, plain yogurt or sour cream, a bit of olive oil, a bit of tomato paste, salt and pepper. Blend and adjust the yogurt/salt/pepper to your taste. Toss with pasta (you don’t even have to heat it up).

    16. Thunder Kitten*

      chop up finely and add to hummus and other dips.
      good pizza topping, filling for paninis, mix in scrambled eggs or omelets

    17. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Roasted red pepper salad:
      Slice peppers into strips if they’re not already. Salt, olive oil, dried minced garlic, basil, fresh mozzarella. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar adds a nice pop, or thinly sliced sweet onions (like vidalia).
      A very fast side dish to add a vegetable to the table with no fuss!

    18. Roasted red peppers*

      OP here. I see two primary themes: sandwiches, and feta cheese. I bet those ideas could be adapted to serve with pasta or white beans or similar. Thanks for the inspiration.

    19. Ali + Nino*

      Matbucha! Normally calls for roasting the peppers but you can use jarred in a pinch. You can make it as spicy as you like.

    20. Llama Llama*

      I like putting them in with pizzas. I also like cooking it with chicken, kalamatta olives and pesto.

    21. the cat's ass*

      Romesco sauce! Puree with hazelnuts or almonds, garlic, ancho chile powder, smoked paprika, and a bit of vinegar and olive oil.

  37. MED*

    Travel recomendations!

    I’m looking to book a trip in October, I’m looking at Portugal, any recommendations for tips, ideas and more.

    I’m not locked into Portugal so if you have any October idea I’m up for it !

    1. Pearl Grey*

      You will love Portugal! My husband and I went in November 2022. We arrived in Lisbon and immediately headed north in our rental car. We stopped at Castelo de Óbidos, Foz do Arelho, and then saw the big surf waves at Nazare before heading to the medieval university town of Coimbra. We spent one night there at the Hotel Astória which is an Art Nouveau flatiron building near the bank of the Mondego River. The next day we visited the Roman ruins at Conimbriga which we found fascinating!

      In Porto we stayed for 3 nights at a lovely Airbnb owned by friends of a friend. We parked the rental car in a nearby garage for the duration of our stay in Porto. Public transportation or walking took us everywhere we wanted to go. Porto highlights included: walking across the Dom Luis I bridge to visit the wine lodges on the southern side of the river, the Fundação Serralves art museum, Casa da Música, eating fresh sardines in Matsohinos, and the Bolhão market. I can highly recommend a trip to the Duoro Valley, perhaps by train or boat if you aren’t renting a car. We spent one night at a guesthouse in the Duoro Valley (beautiful!), one night in Covilhã (lovely old town with lots of street art) then a day visit to Elvas, and one overnight in a lovely guesthouse outside of Évora. We finished with 3 nights in the Alfama district of Lisbon. We didn’t have time to visit Sintra on this trip.

      There is plenty to see in Lisbon. Castelo de São Jorge is a must! We also enjoyed the Se, the Pantheon, the Belem Tower, the Fado Museum, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (aka MAAT), and the LX Factory. If the weather is nice, take a ferry ride across the river to Cacilhas and stroll along the waterfront where you’ll see some amazing street art.

      We used public transportation in both Porto and Lisbon. In Porto, I would recommend spending €15 for an Andante Tour 3 card which gives you 72 hours unlimited trips on the Metro/bus system. €7 for a 24 hour Tour 1 card. This pass is only available at the Andante store at the airport or in certain Metro stations including Trindade, Campanhã, Hospital São João and Casa da Música. Lisbon has a similar card for multi-day travel on public transport. If you buy this card you won’t have to figure out the fares for individual trips which appeared to be confusing.

      Enjoy your trip!

    2. Pearl Grey*

      October is a great month for travel! I have taken October trips to: Amsterdam, Tanzania, New York City (Village Halloween Parade and the NYC Marathon if you stay into November), New England, Olympic National Park, the Oregon coast, and various campsites in the Cascade mountains.

      I visited Iceland in late September. Loved it, but just know that the wind speed affects how warm or cold you feel more than the temperature. I ended up buying a big down jacket while I was there.

    3. londonedit*

      Portugal is a lovely place to visit and October is great because the weather should be decent but not too hot!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am a big fan of Bordeaux & environs — the Gironde is a beautiful river, the region is beautiful wine country, the food is phenomenal, and the historic sites & museums are legion. Le Citadelle de Blaye once home of Guillaume Troubadour. La Musée de l’Aquitaine in walking distance of Bordeaux Cathedral where 13yo Eleanor of Aquitaine married her first husband Prince Louis. Head to the coast for extreme sand dunes and a great bird sanctuary. and oh the food!

    5. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      Portugal is a lovely destination! Apart from Lisbon and Porto I also would recommend Sintra (easy day trip from Lisbon) and Coimbra (beautiful city, known for fado), as well as the Duoro Valley and, if you enjoy that, hiking parts of the Portuguese camino trail. Friends did parts of the fishermen’s trail in the south and enjoyed it. Also make sure to try some port wine, sweet desserts, and a francesinha.

      Good alternatives to Portugal in October might be Italy and esp. Sicily, Nantes and the Loire valley in France, or also Romania, which – compared to Portugal, France and Italy – needs a bit of a more relaxed attitude towards planning, but has a great mix of nature, castles, and cities.

  38. Bek the Wreck*

    Hello all, long time lurker, first time commenter here. I am a current History student with an essay to write, and I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a particularly terrible biography and the circumstances that might have produced such a book. So, I am wondering if anyone might have suggestions! Has anyone read a biography that was poorly written, wrong, or unfairly damaging to its subject?

    1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Ooh, I wish I could help, but I threw away the book because I was so frustrated, so I can’t remember the author. It was a biography of Mary Todd Luncoln that came out about 15 years ago. Instead of being honest and saying that not much is known about Mary’s early years, the author filled chapters with “she may have done this” or “she might have participated in this popular activity” or “she might have owned…” SO damned frustrating! And by the time Mary reached adulthood, the author had lost all credibility and I threw out the book, probably the first time I’d ever consigned one to the trash can. I’d have much preferred a full-out fantasy based on the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, which at least would have been fun.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but England’s Greatest Spy: Eamon de Valera by John J. Turi fits the bill, though I guess it would be difficult to examine if you don’t know the history of Ireland. It basically posits that one of Ireland’s best know leaders in the fight for independence was secretly a spy for the English, with…no evidence whatsoever. The writer admits he hadn’t even heard of some of the really well-known people of the period before he started researching it, gets some of the names of various people completely wrong or uses English language translations of names that I honestly wouldn’t even have recognised.

      I wouldn’t consider it damaging to its subject because it’s so laughably ridiculous, but it is certainly badly written, poorly researched and weird.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        What the bananas. I’d read the blog post and snicker, but a whole book? Yikes.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, I bought it thinking, “well, I should see what they are saying. Maybe there is something suspicious I haven’t thought of and it’s always good to see other opinions,” but it was just bananapants.

          Oh, it also suggested that he was not only involved in the shooting of Michael Collins (which is a valid theory as the death of Collins is a bit of a mystery) but that he also killed Arthur Griffith (a leader who died of a stroke or brain hemorrhage, versions vary slightly but more due to poor recording than any mystery) by sending him a box of poisoned chocolates. Um…apart from anything else, who would be stupid enough to eat chocolates sent from an unknown source during a civil war?

          1. Observer*

            What I’d be really curious about is WHY? Why this book, why the effort to pretty much make this up?

            1. Irish Teacher*

              It sounds like maybe he was looking at the de Valera was sentenced to death after the 1916 Rising but was reprieved…why? Maybe he did some kind of a deal? And then went off on a “looking for evidence to back that up” sort of thing. (In reality, 92 people were sentenced to death and only 16 actually executed because the British authorities saw that they were only turning people in favour of the rebels. De Valera was one of the most senior of those to be reprieved, possibly out of sheer luck or possibly because he was born in America and had American citizenship.)

              But seriously…they didn’t execute him…he must have been spying for them, is….a bit of a leap, to say the least.

              He had a debate with historians and as far as I remember just countered every point with, “you just don’t want to hear any criticism of de Valera,” which was quite funny when he said it to a historian who wrote a biography of de Valera, concluding with something like, “I think de Valera did little that was good and much that was harmful.”

      2. Bek the Wreck*

        This actually sounds so bizarre it might be interesting to look at. Thanks for the tip!

    3. carcinization*

      When I was a teenager in the late 90s my friends and I passed around a very silly teenybopper biography of Vanilla Ice (I’m guessing originally from a school book fair or something?) from a few years before that and laughed at it, but I dunno if it’d be available now or is what you are looking for. It had a sort of Vanilla Ice slang glossary in it that was one of the funniest parts.

    4. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I don’t read them, but I would think unauthorized biographies, like His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra (the author, Kitty Kelley is notorious for her unauthorized biographies) or The Lives of John Lennon (which postulated he was a killer) would fit the bill.

    5. Forensic13*

      Oh! I don’t know if this strictly counts as a biography, but Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed, is a true crime book that functions as a WILDLY biased biography of the Victorian painter Walter Sickert. What a hatchet job it was.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        I was thinking about this too. There are so many wildly specious and downright absurd theories about Jack the Ripper that I imagine there has to be a treasure trove of bad biographies about him. If you can stomach the subject matter…

      2. Bek the Wreck*

        I did think about this one! I read it years ago and was frustrated by how bad it was. Easily one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

    6. Morning*

      Anything by Bill O’Reilly?
      Or, if you could use children’s books, you could find some fairly egregious series books from a few years back. I vaguely recall ones about Harriet Tubman and Booker T. Washington circa late 60s that would not bear close scrutiny now. You could likely find some degree of mythologizing in most children’s biographies currently, too.

  39. Anon Request*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for resources supporting *family members* of people with mental illness (specifically anxiety and depression.) I’m interested especially in books and websites, I am not going to make it to an in person support group (maybe a virtual one, though) and I’m not on social media. I did not find the NAMI site very helpful. Or any general advice you might have, lay it on me! I’m really struggling with my partner’s behavior on our most recent trip together – they spent over half the trip worrying about something that was happening back home and kept bringing it up and catastrophizing/spiraling about it. (None of the things being worried about happened, and even if they had happened, they would be something I consider really minor annoyances.) This was their normal, it isn’t a change in baseline for them. Obviously my partner has it worse than me because they’re the one living with these thoughts, but I am feeling like the person I share my life with will NEVER be able to give me anywhere near the level of support and stability that I give them and I’m so, so tired. Maybe I just need therapy :)

    1. ThatGirl*

      Before I got to your last sentence, I thought “a therapist of your own”. My husband has struggled with his mental health since long before we got together. He has made huge strides in how he deals with it, and it’s helped both of us. But I was this close to getting my own therapist.

      My other general tip is to tell them how this affects you – not in a way that puts the burden on them, but in a “I’m not sure how to deal with this, I can’t fix it for you” kind of way. And understand for yourself that you can’t fix them, that they need to figure this stuff out for themself, and you can set limits on how much support you can offer.

      This is kind of disjointed so feel free to ask me questions.

    2. Double A*

      There are a couple of books about having a partner with bipolar disorder that I found helpful early in my relationship with my husband. (One is literally called “Loving someone with bipolar disorder). I just googled for them and bought a couple; you could check the library first before buying anything. We’ve recently started going to counseling though that is not specific to his mental health exactly.

      I’m sure having any partner means recognizing their limitations and ways they can’t be everything for you, but there are special challenges when your partner has mental illness. I find I have to be okay with my partners baseline and also the fact that he trusts me to tell him when he’d slipping from baseline is important.

    3. Not A Manager*

      “I am feeling like the person I share my life with will NEVER be able to give me anywhere near the level of support and stability that I give them and I’m so, so tired.”

      If, somewhere in the back of your mind, you want to know if it’s okay to think about leaving this relationship for this reason, it is. I’m not telling you that you want to do it, or that you should do it, but it’s okay for this to be an option.

    4. Heather*

      Therapy for you, absolutely. I think it will likelier be helpful than any information you read online. And you can be clear with the therapist: “I am trying to support my spouse who has major anxiety. It is draining to me and I need help.” Part of this is going to be setting boundaries to preserve your own health. I work in psychiatry and I specialize in anxiety disorders, and often there is a great deal of education that needs to happen with the support-people. For example, a good therapist will help you explore compassionate ways to express: “I am not going to continue listening to you talking about the possibility that a thunderstorm will kill all of our pets. We spoke about it briefly, and I am now done.”

    5. Reba*

      BTDT — still doing it! but it has gotten so much better. Looking back I am amazed at how much time and experiences the catastrophizing cycles took from us.

      Is your partner getting professional help? Medication has made a huge positive difference in my household. Therapy with the right practitioner also very good. I would strongly encourage treatment and yes, go for it yourself as well.

      I suggest that you kindly but frankly draw a boundary around this stuff. Let you partner know that there is a limit to the amount of perseverating and reassurance-seeking that you can absorb. Literally set a time limit if you like. It’s not helpful to them as a coping mechanism and it’s grinding you down. It’s not an attack or rejection of the person with anxiety, but just making it clear that whatever self-management they are doing of their condition (that they may not even recognize as such) is not working anymore.

      I appreciated the book “The Burden of Sympathy” by David Karp. But, it’s not a resource per se, not a how-to or guide, it’s an ethnography of caregivers.

    6. Spearmint*

      I was in a relationship with someone who had severe mental health issues (anxiety, depression, PTSD) for six years. You don’t need to minimize the difficulties it places on you, it’s exhausting and can make the relationship unequal.

      Get yourself into individual therapy, yes. It’s really important to have a space to vent, process, and get an outside gut check on what is going on. I know for me I felt I couldn’t fully discuss my partner’s mental health issues with other people because they all knew her as well and it felt like a privacy violation.

      I also think you need to have a serious conversation with you partner about what they need to do. If they are not in therapy, they need to start, and they should at least consider medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Therapy, and EMDR are all very effective for treating anxiety (assuming the client is committed to the work).

      Ultimately, they need to take responsibility for their mental health and how it’s affecting the relationship. That means, in addition to seeking treatment, there needs to be boundaries about how often they express their anxiety or depression to you and how much support they ask from you. It’s extremely important that they get to a place where they can manage their anxiety and depression enough that, for instance, they can spend the day with you focused on what you’re doing together rather than their negative feelings. (Note that they don’t have to be “cured” to reach that point, just better at coping.)

      Finally, I recommend prioritizing doing some non-work things every week without your partner, especially if they’re social. It’s so easy to slip into a pattern where you make your whole life revolve around caretaking for your partner, at least it was for me. Having a life separate from them will relieve some of the pressure and stress.

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

      A 12-step group like Codependents Anonymous or Al-Anon might also be useful? They focus on how to take good care of yourself and be a bit less affected when loved ones are doing unreasonable things that are very stressful.

    8. Anon for this*

      perseveration is exhausting.

      I’ve gotten very direct with, “I hear that you are worried about X, but I’m not. I’m not available for secondhand worry. If you need to chew on that thought anyway, please chew on it with your mouth closed. I’m going to do [fun thing] next. If you can redirect your attention to it for [time span] I’d love to do it with you. I’m leaving in 10 to 15 minutes, either way.”

  40. Indiana*

    I’m feeling very stressed out and frustrated this weekend. I have a medium-distance move scheduled for next week, and meanwhile I’m across the country taking a personal development course. I debated taking the course because I knew it would be a tight turnaround, but ultimately decided I could arrange things decently enough from a distance to try. I don’t have a lot of stuff to move so I had my car scheduled to be hitched up to a trailer today, and a friend was going to handle it for me since I’m away. Well after sending my poor friend on a wild goose chase around town today (the location I originally booked didn’t have the right equipment, so last night they rescheduled me at another location *without contacting me*) I got a call late this evening that they’re missing a part and they have to order it. I’m scheduled to drive out on Monday and now I don’t even know if my car will be ready, and I’m scrambling to look at last-minute flights and hotels and car rentals… and it’s a holiday weekend so I might not even hear one way or another until Monday. I have (literally) a couple days’ buffer until I have to leave to be at my new job on time. So after paying $850 for the trailer installation and rental I’m looking at possibly paying another $900 for last minute flights plus an air mattress, so I can sleep in an empty room for 2 days of orientation before flying back over the weekend and driving all my stuff down. And I can’t even buy a flight now, because if it turns out they can install everything Monday or Tuesday then I’ll waste it.

    In retrospect I really didn’t plan as well as I should have. So many things were up in the air (finding a place to live, driving my stuff down or buying new stuff there), so I was hesitant to make any firm commitments. I thought that booking the trailer far enough in advance would ensure they had everything they needed and assumed they would contact me if they didn’t, but I should have left a buffer for other people’s incompetence as well as my own. I considered coming down a month ago and renting a hotel for a week, but it seemed too expensive so I thought I could coordinate the whole thing from a distance. And now based on how things are going I might end up paying the same amount but with more stress, inconvenience, and uncertainty. And I’m running low on funds until I start this new job.

    I just turned 30. I wish being an adult came with some sort of “best practices” manual. I feel like a hot mess.

    1. Double A*

      I have been having the experience recently where it seems like other people are more incompetent and complacent about it than I remember.

      Moves are complicated, and 30 is right at that borderline of when improvising or doing things on the cheap starts to become less worth it, but you’re not at a place financially where you can throw money at the problem proactively without feeling like you’re wasting it. As you get older you have the money and the experience to know it’s worth it and also lack the energy to deal with things going off the rails.

      I did an interstate move at 30 and looking back I am amazed it all worked out. I totally did things on the cheap, found friends to help, etc. I think you made a totally reasonable if slightly ambitious plan. Everything you wrote I’m like, “Yup, would have done that at 30.” I literally just turned 40 last week and I would now throw more money at the problem, but that’s because I have it (and also would totally still be like, “Ugh I shouldn’t waste this money.” When I’m 50 maybe I’ll be able to let that feeling go).

      1. Indiana*

        Thank you, reading your comment made me feel a lot better! One thing I really struggle with is not wanting to commit when plans are unclear so I can keep my options open, but it then it gets to be too late and in retrospect I should have just committed to one path even if it was more expensive or meant I couldn’t do something else.

        > 30 is right at that borderline of when improvising or doing things on the cheap starts to become less worth it, but you’re not at a place financially where you can throw money at the problem proactively without feeling like you’re wasting it.

        Yes, I’m just starting to do things like book direct flights instead of cobbling together bus+train+plane to save a couple hundred dollars! And I’m one year out from having gone back to school and changed careers so that significantly depleted my savings. Long term I’m hopefully moving in the right direction but right now I feel like every time I build up a buffer of a few thousand dollars it goes to one expense or another and that gives me a lot of anxiety.

        1. WellRed*

          I totally get the not wanting to commit when things are unclear but I’ve gotten better at that and making the plans I need that work for me (I’m 53). Not gonna lie I cringed and said “nooooo” when I read you were across the country right before the planned move. Buffers are key and some things just can’t be done via phone or internet. Good luck, you’ll get through this.

    2. Retired Accountant*

      Honestly, I think that post-pandemic things just don’t work as well. Supply chain issues, labor shortages, etc; it’s a bonus if something gets done on the first attempt. Don’t beat yourself up.

      1. Indiana*

        Thank you’ I definitely feel like adults are more flaky than I remember when I was a kid, though maybe it’s more that I was expected to be timely while the adults were flaky with each other. And it does feel like some of the inconveniences from the pandemic have become semi-permanent now. Lots of services, etc, that were “suspended” and never brought back.

    3. Alex*

      You’ll get through it. This kind of thing happens sometimes–and rental places are AWFUL at having what you ordered on hand when you have supposedly reserved it. This has happened to me twice before. It’s hugely inconvenient, but you will make it through and do what you need to do, and that is what adults actually do. (Not get everything perfect every time!)

      1. Indiana*

        Thank you, I appreciate it! I think a big reason that I’m frustrated with myself because it didn’t even occur to me to leave room for the rental place messing up — which feels like something I should know to do. I thought booking in advance was enough, not even considering the importance of leaving time to account for missing parts or equipment. If I’d thought of the possibility of delay I would have planned differently, but those are the kinds of little details I feel like adults are supposed to know that I just… don’t even think about. Like I can make checklists for stuff that comes up regularly and refer to them, but what do I do when something as basic as “leave room for other people to mess up” doesn’t even stick in my head?

        1. Jackalope*

          Here’s the thing. The way that adults learn that you want to have a backup plan for that sort of thing is exactly the way you’re learning.

          1. Jackalope*

            Sorry, hit Submit by accident. I heard a quote recently that experience is what you get 5 minutes after you needed it, and that’s so true. A lot of being an adult is cobbling together ways to react to possibly difficult circumstances based on what you’ve experienced before and what you think to expect. I bet next Time you move you’ll have a plan for this sort of thing! Not that that helps you now, but it will be easier next time.

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

            Exactly! The way I learned never to cut off the phone and electric on the day I was planning to move was by having my movers show up 24 hours late. Before there were cell phones. I had to walk to the @!@#$ing mall nearby to find a payphone to call and see what what up. But hey, I’ve never made THAT mistake again. It happens. Just be kind and forgiving to yourself.

    4. Washi*

      This is reminding me of my worst move ever last year and basically same as you.

      My husband and I had bought a house that needed a good bit of work that couldn’t be done while living in it, mainly rebuilding the staircase. As it often goes, the renovations got more and more delayed, and I also happened to be more and more pregnant. Long story shorts my son came early a few weeks early while we were literally halfway through the move. We’d done about half when I went to the hospital and finished the rest on our second day home.

      It might have even been sort of ok but my son also refused to nurse and wasn’t gaining weight, so not only did we have the move and construction still ongoing around us for two more weeks, but we were juggling lactation consultants, tongue tie revisions, and visiting nurse weigh ins. I was pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock and had nausea, blurry vision, and hallucinations from only sleeping two hours a day.

      It took me a long time to forgive myself with forging ahead with the move even with the due date so close. It was so monumentally stupid in retrospect (our lease was month to month so we could have just planned to stay in our apartment longer) but we pushed through to save money which came very much at the expense of our sanity.

      But stuff like this happens! We do our best, hope for the best, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it bites us in the butt. A year later I have a great house and son and I more and more rarely think about the chaos that surrounded his arrival.

      1. Indiana*

        > we pushed through to save money which came very much at the expense of our sanity

        I so resonate with this! I need to figure out how to make myself ok with spending money up front to save stress.

        1. Double A*

          Part of it is having money. If you don’t have that much, don’t beat yourself up over the impulse to save it. Or maybe look at it as a bet that you lost and now you unfortunately have to pay up.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If it helps any, I’m forty-mumble and would never have considered that the trailer folks wouldn’t actually have the stuff they needed to do the service I had paid them in advance to do, because they’re ostensibly professionals and should have it together well enough to do the thing they are paid to do, so I wouldn’t have built in a buffer of “in case they completely whiff the entire thing they’re supposed to do” either. Like, if I thought they were going to do that I wouldn’t have picked them to do the thing in the first place, I’d have gone somewhere else.

    6. maybe*

      Is this U-haul? They are absolute crap. I have my own moving horror stories from them. Firstly, don’t beat yourself up. You booked in advance: if something had gone wrong they should have contacted you. So, you tried, no guilt on your part, that’s not helping. You’re adulting just fine.

      Next- just breathe. It sounds like you have a plan? To book an expensive flight and move next weekend, if the trailer part doesn’t come through? Air mattress is fine. Keep in mind youth hostels, if it’s cheaper, and the city you’re moving to has one.

      I promise, in a year from now you’ll be using this as a funny moving horror story as you warn people against whatever trailer-renting company you’re using. You might also call around to other locations of the trailer-renting company to see if they have trailers/parts you need. There’s a good chance the location you’re using hasn’t done that, and maybe you can do some extra driving to pick up a part.

      Just make sure to buy your friend extra wine/pizza/bath-stuff.

      It’ll be fine. The company’s screw-up is not your fault. You can’t plan for every possible thing going wrong. But don’t use U-haul.

    7. Samwise*

      Call your new boss, explain, see if you can start a few days later.

      But yeah, my old person life advice is, always allow extra time for a move.

  41. Business Narwhal*

    Any Strange New Worlds watchers? How did you feel about the… most recent episode?

    1. Red Sky*

      We got a few minutes in and noped right TF out. Unpopular Opinion: People randomly breaking into song is cringe*

      *no offense to musical lovers

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I enjoyed it. My favorite was the rapping Klingons.

      This one was not as much fun as the Boimler/Mariner episode, though. All in all, Strange New Worlds is turning out to be a lot of fun. I like how even though it is episodic, they are not afraid to go off into different directions.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        The rapping Klingons were fun. I like the “we will never speak of this again” look on everyone’s faces.

    3. Pine Tree*

      My partner is not a fan of animated shows, and we both dislike musicals. We made it through the Boimler episode (thank goodness the whole show wasn’t animated) but I think we’ll probably end up skipping the musical one. I hope it goes back to “normal” because we were really enjoying the show.

  42. Burning Out At Both Ends*

    I got 5 big boxes unpacked to after my move, and I want to celebrate by making a new recipe this weekend!
    Does anyone have a favorite way to cook mackerel? I’ve never made it before.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Japanese salt grilled mackerel fillet. Salt the fish, let it sit 20 minutes, pat dry, brush with oil and grill or broil, skin side to the heat, until cooked through. Serve with lemon.

      If you’ve got an air fryer, about 8 minutes, skin side up works really well, although you may need to cut it into pieces to fit.

    2. Jay*

      Firstly, what kind of mackerel, and do you like a strong flavor in your fish?
      I LOVE strong, oily fish, with Spanish Mackerel being my absolute favorite ever. I always pan fried that with the skin on and facing downward in a skillet with olive oil and garlic.
      As for regular Atlantic Mackerel or Chub Mackerel, have you ever considered making some nice sushi rolls? Just super short grain rice, a little rice wine vinegar and sugar, mix it up, spread it on your nori, put down some toasted sesame seeds add your fish, top with some pickled ginger (I prefer mine on the inside of the roll), roll it up and add whatever sauce tickles your fancy. Right now, I’ve taken to just using Ponzu, although there are much better sauces available.
      You can also debone, bread, and deep fry them whole. They are excellent.

  43. Richard*

    Has anybody had to rework how you connect with people? I spent many many years being able to easily stay in touch with friends and coworkers and acquaintances easily by seeing them around and arranging casual get-togethers. Between the pandemic, having a child, and generally getting older, it’s gotten much harder to keep up these connections. I’ve never been into social media, which makes it a little harder. I’m also not the kind of person who has just a couple close friends. Has anybody else gone through this and had good tips to pass along?

    1. Filosofickle*

      Oof, yes. To some extent this is just what adulthood (and parenthood) looks like today, unfortunately. We don’t often live as close together or have as much ad hoc time. We have to plan, and plan ahead. (Unless you can make new parent friends? That will replicate the proximity you had before.)

      I have to reinvent every so many years as life phases and technology change. For awhile, the answer for me was social. Facebook rose just as I was getting isolated, and it kept me connected but now many of my friends are moving on. The pandemic actually helped me a lot, my friends were more available and amenable to standing weekly/monthly video calls — but busy lives have resumed.

      The best thing I can suggest is to embrace texting and especially group texting. Set a structure for yourself — decide how often you want to reach out / meet up and do it intentionally. Accept that it’s not going to just happen unless you push it along. If you have any friends or friend groups who are open to it, set up recurring events like coffee every first Sunday. That’s where I have the most success because it’s not a negotiation every time. It’s just on the calendar.

      1. Richard*

        Thanks! I’ve been leaning more on group texts more lately for sure. Hopefully when my little one is a little older, recurring events feel more doable.

    2. Blue wall*

      I’ve moved a lot which means my social circles have changed four times in the past ten years. I have a few friends I’m still in touch with from my previous lives/cities, and I find it especially vital for my emotional well-being to develop some kind of local friendships or connections as well. These are slow builds!

      Things I do to stay in touch:
      I send cards for birthdays
      I text occasionally when I think of someone
      I have a few people I call every few months
      I show up for visits

      Things I do to develop local connections:
      I’m active in my local house of worship
      Attend repeating events/classes (gym classes etc)
      Drop in at small place X roughly the same time every day/week: the library, the park, coffee shop, diner…

    3. RW*

      disclaimer, this is something I still struggle with. But I’m a big fan of having the Regular Thing, whatever that is/however that works for you – so for a long time I had Sunday morning coffee with one friend, every Sunday that both of us were in town, same time and the only thing that we had to decide was where to go. Now I keep up once a week walks with my sister. I really rate having a no-thought catch up even if it’s monthly rather than weekly! Could also work for bigger social groups, even though for me it’s been mostly one on one.
      I don’t really rate social media, but I do try to track birthdays of close friends so I can send them a message as well – good reminder to reach out to someone if I haven’t seen them in a while

    4. RagingADHD*

      My husband and I have just made it a project to try to have someone over to dinner every couple of weeks.

      We’re finding that many of the people we invite feel the same way, like they have lost a lot of their casual social connections. They’re all very happy that we made the effort.

      We haven’t been at it long enough for natural momentum to take over with reciprocal invitations, but I think we’ll get there this fall.

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

      Yeah, my closest friends live far away. I work that phone and call them every so often, and I don’t take it personally if they’re too busy raising their kids or whatever to talk long. The kids eventually grow up, and then we get longer phone calls again.

    6. chocolate muffins*

      How old is your child? I have a baby who will be a year old this fall and I thought that I could make friends with the other parents at daycare, but everyone who has a baby this age is busy taking care of their baby and not up for making new friends, at least where I live. I’ve had better luck making friends with people who now have grandchildren – they miss babies and have some free time. We mostly take walks together when my son doesn’t have daycare, which is great because I would be on kid duty then anyway and this way I get to combine that with social time and exercise. Some weeks I also use that time to talk on the phone with friends who don’t live locally to me.

      I also am the person who reaches out; I am responsible for probably 95% of the social time that I spend with people who are not my family. I have feelings about that sometimes but in the end, this is the way I get to connect with people and multiple friends have told me that they appreciate that I make things happen because they love spending the time but don’t think to organize it themselves.

      1. Richard*

        My kid is 4, so it’s easier than with a younger one, but I also anticipate that I’ll be the primary one reaching out. I like the idea of finding people with older kids or grandkids!

    7. Observer*

      I’m going to agree with the group texting thing. Just try to use an app or two that many of your family / friends have, and that lets you do more that just pure text. So SMS with RCS, WhatsAp and Signal are my go to’s. Mostly WhatsApp and Signal.

      These are nice because they allow us to share text, audio, video and still pictures, as well as video calls. These are an absolute god-send if you’re trying to keep up with parents / grandparents.

  44. It's a lot*

    Does anyone have any good resources about dealing with aging/ailing parents when your relationship with them is completely broken/dysfunction and/or they have mental illness?

    My parents are in their 80s and health issues are now a pretty major concern. I’m their only child, but we do not have a positive or healthy relationship. They both have some mental issues (not age related). I’m really struggling with what I can do, and how to handle things going forward, as inevitably, things will get worse, not better. I’d love recommendations on any books or resources on this topic.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I don’t have specific, actionable advice for you, or specific resources to point you at.

      However, in some ways finding resources for people with mental illnesses gets easier as they get extremely old. My family had a relative who always needed to live in some sort of structured, supported mental-health environment. When she was just “regular adult” age, it was challenging to find a group home with the right mix of safety supports and being a pleasant place to be. However, it turns out that a *lot* of 90-year-olds can’t live unsupervised or make their own decisions, so finding an appropriate care facility was actually easier as she got to an age where her age-peers tended to have enough cognitive issues that they also needed specialized care. Also, there are, comparatively, a lot more systems in place for an adult child to take over decision-making for an extreme elder than there are before the person with mental illness attains extreme old age. Those systems are in place for age-related cognitive decline, but it just kind of becomes normalized that someone’s child is making decision for them as they get older and older. (My dad is in his 70s, and I now actively have to remind hospitals that I am not in charge of his healthcare decisions, he is! He’s mentally competent and has not signed any forms giving me any say, so they shouldn’t even be talking to be about his condition, really. It’s very weird.)

      1. A Tip*

        I am in my 60s and the folks (mine and hubs) are in their late 80s. I recommend once your dad hits 80 (or before; and only if you are both willing and have a good relationship) that he start giving his doctors, insurance, Medicare (especially – POA doesn’t work with Medicare), authorization to discuss his health care with you. This is different than a health care POA, but then you can call and talk to them if your parent is confused about meds, or if there is a snafu with insurance, etc.

    2. Tommmmmorrow*

      I was in this situation for several years before my parents recently passed. I don’t have any specific resources for you but a couple of suggestions. For me, the guilt of being there for them when they needed help vs the difficulty of being around them created massive stress to the point of making me ill. I ended up getting a therapist who helped me work through the guilt and deciding how much time and energy I could tolerate. Depending on where you live, there are also social services for seniors/aging that can provide a lot of things they might need- transportation, meals, etc. You will need to seek them out and request an evaluation or services but can give you hands off but know their needs are being met. Good luck with everything.

    3. Elle*

      Thank you for this question. I’m in the same boat with elderly parents who refuse to plan for anything. Therapy helps and put things in perspective.

    4. funkytown*

      oh I don’t have any advice as i’m just muddling by myself, but I’m going through similar worries (not-quite-estranged parent with a recent cancer diagnosis, only child). sending you best wishes and will be following for any ideas. <3

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      A few years ago, I read the book A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross. I recall it was very thoughtful and offered a lot of great suggestions as well as ways to think about support for aging parents at different stages. Now that my own mom’s dementia is starting to show up anymore troublesome ways, I was thinking of reading it again.

      Good luck to you, this is a tough journey

  45. Porch Screens*

    So I’ve caught myself over the last few years beginning to dread the onset of autumn & winter. I’m not so much grieved over feeling this way about winter but it does make me sad to feel that way about autumn, which used to be my favorite time of year.

    I think the primary reason for this change is that my older sibling has gradually started to struggle with their mental health and the worst of it tends to correlate with the autumn/winter months. I do what I can to be supportive within my capabilities as a sibling – and they *have* gotten at least *some* professional/medical help thankfully – but I’ve been catching myself dreading having to deal with the seemingly-inevitable slump that starts in autumn, peaks in the months following the holidays, and then largely lifts with the onset of spring. All of this is compounded by the fact that I’m a night-shift healthcare worker and struggle with my own drop in energy levels at this time of year anyway.

    So…how do you juggle being supportive but without letting that steal your joy about a thing? I just want to go back to loving autumn again instead of greeting it with dread or trepidation.

    (Obligatory note that I’m not asking for actual medical advice: I’m aware that speaking to a professional myself is probably the best option when/if handling my sibling gets to be too much. And for my own personal energy levels, I’ll say that my bloodwork is and has been good thus far and I do take Vitamin D supplements + use a lightbox when the days get short.)

    1. nope*

      Hi there, I’m in the same boat as you. After a decade of my sibling’s mental health emergencies/criminal acts happening between Christmas and New Years, I also dread these months.

      Best advice I can give you: enjoy every moment that you don’t have to deal with it. You know it’s coming, but you can’t do anything about it until it happens. So enjoy the small things, protect your peace, and prioritize yourself.

      I would find myself ruminating and wondering and worrying in the fall, and I’ve been working on stopping those thought patterns. I’ll be driving to work or drinking my coffee and my sibling will come up in my mind and I’m wondering what’s going to happen etc etc. I will stop myself and say outloud “it hasn’t happened yet, so there’s nothing to dwell on.” I then try to redirect my thoughts to myself, something useful for me like mulling over how to reorganize my closet, or towards planning something just for me. Using my mental energy to help myself instead of worrying about the future. It doesn’t work 100%, but it still helps me.

      One more little thing: make plans and take advantage of the seasons. For many years I wouldn’t plan anything for those months, knowing that I might have to cancel them if my sibling had an incident. But I realized I was robbing myself of joy, just sitting around waiting for everything to go to shit when I could have been out there living for me.

      I’m sorry you’re also in the same boat. Keep your head up!

    2. just another queer reader*

      My personal experience regarding seasons-

      I’ve noticed in myself that I tend to have more energy in the summer and less in the winter. To a large extent, that’s ok – it’s just how the seasons and my body work.

      I’ve also started intentionally scheduling things that boost my mood and energy in the winter. Dance and water aerobics classes have been great.

      I don’t have any advice regarding your sibling, but sending you both best wishes.

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

      I have friends who deal with some seasonal affective disorder by always booking vacations somewhere sunny during the worst of it. It seems to help.

  46. Past Lurker*

    How do you keep track of vehicle maintenance? Unfortunately I live somewhere with no good options for mass transit. I’m good with regular oil changes, but maintenance for things that need replacement/service less often is more challenging. TIA

    1. Jay*

      Honestly, the dealership where I bought the vehicle contacts me constantly about every conceivable type of maintenance that my car could possibly ever need. I literally never need to worry about it. It’s more likely that I will end up getting EXTRA services because I forgot they reminded me to get an oil and filter change two months ago.
      Sign up for their news letter, and you will get the same amount of notifications.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Go to the car manufacturer’s website and check the recommended service schedule for your year and model. It’s usually every 10k miles after a point. I used to take my car to a private mechanic who serviced my make of car and tell him, for example, that I needed the 150k mile service. Also, if your car is 2011 or newer, it will probably yell at you when you need a service done.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I drive so rarely (I’m going in next week for my first oil change in like two and a half years) that unless it sounds funny, I just wait for my car to tell me it needs something. (I called the dealership at one year and said “It’s been a year, but my oil change meter is still at 85%, should I bring him in anyway?” and they said “Nope, trust the oil change meter. Don’t come in until it’s at 10-15%. It knows when it needs service.”)

    4. WellRed*

      I’ve never gotten an oil change where they didn’t put a little sticker on the windshield noting when (in terms of mileage and date) it’s time to bring it in again. They also do a check of the car for the basics then, fluids, filters, tires etc.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Most of the time those stickers are too conservative e.g. they suggest every 3k miles but my last car said 7500 in the owners manual. It’s helpful to remember when you got your last one but not necessarily accurate.

        But yes a good oil change will also check over things and top off fluids etc.

    5. londonedit*

      Where I live any car over three years old needs an annual MOT test, which is a basic test for safety and emissions that checks everything is working properly – tyres, brakes, lights, etc. Basically makes sure your car is roadworthy. So at the same time as my car goes in for its MOT, I also have it serviced. It gets a full service every 2-3 years and a basic service in between. They change the filters and oil and do any other necessary work – last time they changed the spark plugs. The car pings at me about wanting a service at various other times, because it’s programmed in for a certain number of miles etc, but I think having at least a yearly basic service on top of the MOT is going to make sure it’ll carry on running as it should.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Me too. I tell them to check for any issues. I think too many people are irrationally afraid of getting ripped off by a mechanic so are afraid to do this.

        On one of my old cars, the muffler fell off about 50 miles from home (there is a metal hook holding it up, otherwise it drags on the ground – that hook snapped). I had to walk to get a rope and tie it up and drive slow home and it was a whole fiasco. A couple of years ago I drove out to a very remote wilderness area for hiking. 9 days later, coincidentally, my not-so-old battery crapped out. Stuff like that makes you pretty paranoid about what-ifs and you realize it’s worth putting time and money into your car, unless you only drive within a small town where, if it breaks down, you can walk home from it.

      2. Clisby*

        Yeah, we drive rarely (have one car, and *maybe* put 5,000 miles a year on it). Unless the car is showing signs of needing something, once a year, normally before a trip to Ohio from SC, take it in for a trip check – basically a check that the car’s roadworthy and good for another round trip to Ohio and back. They check tires, brakes, wipers, whether you need an oil change, all the other fluids – that kind of thing. They aren’t delving into the transmission or the AC – just looking at whether all the basic maintenance is up to date. Usually, that one-year check is enough.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I go to one of those chain oil-change places, and they look up recommended maintenance by milage for my car every time I go, and inspect the consumable parts (filters, tire tread, belts and hoses, etc).

      I tend to buy beaters for cash and drive them into the ground, so I am more than willing to do maintenance on a more aggressive schedule as these places tend to suggest. The more I baby the car, the longer it lasts.

    7. Girasol*

      I take the car about every other year (since I don’t put on a lot of miles) to a trustworthy mechanic for an oil change and checkup. When they check it they’ll say “At umpty-thousand miles you’re due for a timing belt change, and your shocks are still okay but they’re going to need replacing soon” or something like that. Then I can consider when to get it done. The trick is finding a trustworthy mechanic who won’t make stuff up to get you to buy service that isn’t needed.

    8. TX_trucker*

      If you have an older car, without the fancy alerts, look in the vehicle maintenance manual, or online. Generally, most things should be checked at least every 12 – 15 thousand miles. If you live in a climate with extreme heat or cold, you should get it checked about once per year even if you don’t drive much. If cost is an issue, most of the inspections are easy DIY, with YouTube. You may not be able to fix or replace something yourself, but you shoulf be able to tell if something is wrong. And drive your car at least once per week, even if it’s just around the block.

  47. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Thoughts on guilt for your personal environmental impact in the context of purely aesthetic home improvements/renovations?

    The bathrooms at my place are completely functional and are aethestically fine. Boring, a little ugly, but functionally fine. I dream about renovating my bathrooms to be more modern/higher-end (i.e., real tile floors, upgraded countertops, wet room style shower). One of my barriers, besides money, is the guilt around how wasteful it would be, since it would mean bringing in new materials (even if I go for materials containing upcycled pre- and post-consumer materials).

    Any thoughts on how to reframe this? Or do I accept that my bathrooms as blah?

    1. Lbd*

      There are organizations, like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore program, that will recycle/sell used building materials such as countertops. Look for low water usage/energy efficient fixtures and fittings so that your bathroom is as low impact as possible in an ongoing way. Do some other things to offset the impact, things like planting trees. Use the upgrade in your bathroom to change some habits to less wasteful patterns, such as only turning on the cold tap, and not turning it on full, while washing your hands, instead of both hot and cold on full blast. (I have noticed that the water barely starts to warm up in my bathroom sink by the time I have finished washing my hands, so turning on the hot doesn’t really make a difference in my hand-washing experience) Lots of things that you can do that minimize your bathroom using footprint.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Seconding ReStore as a place to donate and to locate.

        And don’t underestimate thecpower of fresh paint.

        1. Clisby*

          Thirding ReStore. I love going to the one near me. I’ve never bought stuff from them for renovations, but I can see how inexpensive that could be. However, it’s like a treasure hunt – sometimes a bust, and sometimes you can find something really nice for peanuts. Once a china shade on a vintage metal lamp my husband had bought me was broken; when I started looking around online, replacements were easy to find – and $40-$50 each. I decided to check ReStore first, and found one that fit perfectly … for $2. Of course, if I had been looking a couple of weeks later it might have been gone.

          The trippiest ReStore around here (Charleston, SC) is near a couple of the really expensive beach areas. From looking around, I’m speculating that the first thing people do when they buy an upscale beach house is to send all the existing furniture to ReStore and redecorate. I mean, the quality of stuff there is just jaw-dropping.

    2. Courageous cat*

      I mean, ultimately as an individual, the waste you’re producing here is a literal drop in the ocean compared to what corporations are doing on a daily basis. A fraction of a drop.

      I guess I don’t understand the mentality of forsaking things that might genuinely make you happy, or make your life easier, just because there will be waste – there will always be waste! It’s comparatively so, so minimal. Treat yoself.

    3. Chaordic One*

      It’s not like you are building or buying an entirely new house just because you don’t like the bathrooms. Changes like this that would improve the quality of your life are definitely worth it. Sometimes these changes can be hard to quantify, but being in an aesthetically pleasing environment and things that put you in a better frame of mind and that make you more comfortable are certainly worth it and can be a positive act of self-care.

      Moreover, when and if you (or your heirs) decide to sell the house these kinds of renovations will probably increase the value of the house by a bit and/or make it a bit easier to sell. Consider the renovation as an investment.

      Probably unnecessary caveat: When doing this renovation, do take care to select quality materials and items that will last for several decades and that will not need to be replaced right away, and that will not be overly trendy. You want things that won’t wear out or appear dated in a few years. I’m sure you will make the right choices.

    4. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      Can you do something fun that would be cheaper, like paint, add trim, removable wallpaper, etc? I know exactly how you feel: our primary bathroom is so outside my taste that I hated it so much. Changing the vanities and the tile was/is not something I want to put money into right now, but just painting it from brown to white–which then inspired me to put up artwork and bring in plants–and putting up some removable wallpaper I got from Lowe’s made such a difference. I still hate the vanities (they are incredibly short–I’m 5’3 and the top hits the top of my thighs!), but it’s fine now. We also have a half bath that’s painted the same brown and I plan on putting up some trim and then stenciling above it (Mardi Gras themed, inspired by wallpaper at the Battle House in Mobile, AL). Those two projects together will definitely be less than $1000, which is much more palatable to me than the $50,000 quote we got to re-do the bathroom (not moving any pipes, even!!).

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Agreed. My bathroom is outdated but I am hopefully moving out in a few years and my landlord wants to do a full reno then. So I spruced it up with some new trim around a few of the walls and some caulking and a new faucet. So basically whatever looks the worst. I would say that most eyes are attracted to the vanity in a bathroom, so if you really want change, just do that.

    5. Chicago Anon*

      You might consider other impacts of your choices. For example, if you could find a contractor who tries to use environmentally friendly options, you’d help keep that person in business, so they’d be around to advise other customers about ReStore and other ways of lessening the impact of remodeling. If you choose environmentally friendly options for materials, then you’re supporting those companies and helping them to stay in business, etc. Obviously I have no idea what your options actually are in your location, but it is worth thinking through not just where stuff comes from but the whole range of people you might influence, including friends who come over and say “I love your new bathroom”—and then you can recommend your contractor etc etc to more people.

  48. Vio*

    I’ve asked this before with no luck but is there a way to buy books through amazon.co.uk and still have you make a commission from the recommendation?

      1. Queer Earthling*

        I run a blog where I do a lot of affiliate linking, and my understanding was, until about 3 minutes ago, that you’d have to a) sign up for an Amazon Associates account on each of the Amazon domains you’d like to use and b) link to each of them individually.

        However, upon looking at my Amazon Associates page, it looks like they may have a feature to let you redirect international clicks? Under the “tools” tab on the Amazon Associates page, there’s an option called OneLink that seems promising. I think you’d still have to sign up for several countries and it looks like it might be time consuming, but once it’s done it might be possible? I also don’t know if you’d have to go back and edit all your old links, but just thought I’d throw this out there if it’s practical for you to look into.

        (Sorry if this isn’t welcome; I honestly came in to be like ‘oh yeah it’s almost impossible’ and then was surprised to find the OneLink thing.)