weekend open thread – October 21-22, 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: Flight, by Lynn Steger Strong. Four siblings and their spouses gather for Christmas after the death of their mother, each unmoored in different ways.

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

{ 1,196 comments… read them below }

  1. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading, and give or request recs. All reading is welcome!

    I’lol have to post my book of the week in a little bit because I’m in the middle of something right now, but I’m excited about it!

    1. Teapot Translator*

      This week I read Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew. I liked it! It’s set in South Africa, so it’s a bit different for me.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Most of the way through N.K. Jemisin’s City duology and I can’t say enough good things about the series. It’s a love letter to New York wrapped in a supernatural superhero story in all the right ways.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I loved Jemisin’s “City” books as well – not least for the incorporation of so many levels of the boroughs’ history, and also for the reveal of the antagonist-city in the first book. Despite the hints in the cover-art I hadn’t expected that, and was delighted.

    3. knottolive*

      J. D. Robb’s Eve Dallas series. Near future Earth police procedural, romance, with sci-fi elements.

      1. MaxKitty*

        I’m reading Eve Dallas too! Reading the latest caused me to go back and re-read several of the earlier ones.

      2. Robb Fan*

        Another Robb fan here. I recently went back and started with the first book in the series, Naked in Death, and am working my way through them chronologically. (Thanks, my local library!)

        Besides the basic crime-to-solve in each book, I enjoy reading Robb’s view of possible late-21st-century New York and seeing the evolution of the main characters—individually as well as in their relationships.

        1. FalafalBella*

          I listen to the Robb “Death” series on audiobooks. The voices add an extra dimension to the stories.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      Working through both The Five Red Herrings (Dorothy L. Sayers) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson).

      Just started Confident Women (Tori Telfer) as my nonfiction book. (It’s about con women.)

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        oooh I read Castle lately and I loved it SO MUCH.

        Also I love books about con women! I am going to check that one out!

    5. Me (I think)*

      Just finished The Only Plane in the Sky, an oral history of 9/11. Tough read but I’d recommend it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I first read The Only Plane in the Sky via audiobook, and it was riveting – and harrowing. Recommended!

    6. Lilo*

      I read Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone.

      It has an interesting frame and narrator but the core story didn’t quite live up to the frame.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I just finished this book this week too! I agree with you- I thought the plot didn’t hold for me because I read it over the course of a month so couldn’t maintain momentum or follow the clues being dropped, but maybe it’s a more intrinsic problem?
        I did really like the style and found the voice amusing.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Spooky stories! I’m reading the Valencourt collection, volume 1 (have 2 and 3 ready to go) and probably will fit in as many others as I can fit in.

      I found out I actually have to work Halloween, blech, so I will be reading Halloween Tree and watching The Canterville Ghost (the one with Charles Laughton) this Tuesday instead of next. After that I’ll probably be plowing through the stack of books I get for my birthday!

      1. Angstrom*

        For a Halloween audio treat, there’s a Youtube(audio only) of “The Cat Who Went To Trinity” read by Charles Keating. A delightful way to spend a half-hour.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yay! Something to add to my treasured CD of various actors and performers reading Poe stories and poems (Closed on Account of Rabies)

    8. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Just finished September House and while I’m not much of a horror fan, I really enjoyed it. The narrator loves her old Victorian house, even though it fills up with ghosts and demons and has blood running down the walls every September.

      1. Jackalope*

        This sounded intriguing but I’m not into horror (as in can’t do it) so I tried to find a plot summary online. Apparently no one anywhere has recorded the ending of this book online. Sigh. I shall move on with my life and not die of curiosity, but it will be tough.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re The September House: I enjoyed it, but it did get much darker than I’d expected from the rather forced-cheerful dark humor of the setup.

    9. Jackalope*

      So the book I read most recently was Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. It’s the first in her Wayward Children series, and for whatever reason it really spoke to me. The premise comes from the many children’s and YA books where the young protagonists find their way through a door into another world, stay there for awhile, and then come back to ours. This book talks about the ramifications for those children and teens, who are having a hard time adjusting to life back in our world and longing to return to the new place that they’ve learned to consider home. The story is set in a boarding school for said children and teens, and is a safe place for them after their families have failed to believe them and have considered them mentally ill, etc.

      I really liked the way the author thought through the implications of some of this in the characters’ lives, and how she created her setting. Seanan McGuire has an amazing mind for complication and how to weave a wide range of narrative threads together (even if some of them are only tiny bits and pieces).

      Has anyone else read this book? Any thoughts?

      1. Pam Adams*

        I love the Wayward Children books! The characters are wonderful, and they grow and change throughout the series. Beneath the Sugar Sky may be my favorite.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ohh I’ve been meaning to read this for ages! I love this idea. I’m so glad to hear it works as a book, not just an idea!

        1. Jackalope*

          The thing I think made it work was that she was really good at thinking through some of the implications of what it would mean for the kids/teens to go to a wondrous world and then end up back here, which is the part that’s so often left off the end of such stories. Also, she worked in the idea that they were drawn to worlds where there was some sort of connection between who they were as people and what the world was like, and so the other worlds felt like Home in a way that Earth could not. The main pov character in this first book had gone to a world that seemed utterly unsympathetic to me, which I suspect was part of the point (ie I’m guessing a lot of people would feel the same way), but the pov character loved it so much that it felt understandable that she wanted to return.

          (Related: T Kingfisher wrote a short story about Susan from the Narnia series that I feel hits on her specific issues well, some of which were touched on for the kids in this book. I loved the Narnia series growing up, but as I became an adult I realized how horrifying it would be to have to become an adult twice like the Pevensies did. I’ll include a link in another comment to her story, which I highly recommend – I hated the related Neil Gaiman story, but he’s also got one floating around on the internet for those who are Gaiman fans.)

          1. Silence*

            I love seanan’s books she also has some folk cds with ‘wicked girls saving themselves ‘ referencing the same theme.

      3. AGD*

        Didn’t quite speak to me for some reason but the fantastic premise left me interested enough to want to go take a close look at what else of hers I’d like to read!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          One of those where I read the first few but skimmed later ones. I think my interest depended on which characters we focused on.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          She’s got a good swath of variety under her own name – two very long (I think one is on 10 and one is on 18 books) urban fantasy series, among others – plus she also writes sci-fi political thrillers about life 20 years after the zombie apocalypse (or otherwise sci-fi medical stuff that will chill a lot of folks’ bones after recent years) under a pen name, Mira Grant.

          If you do Kindle, her 2-book Indexing series was written as a Kindle exclusive (and is available on Kindle Unlimited), and is about a secret government agency that … “For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results. That’s where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives.”

          Her Middlegame and its follow-up Seasonal Fears are also on KU, which I didn’t realize, and there’s a third book to the series due out next year. There’s a “book series” that’s frequently quoted at the beginning of each chapter and otherwise features prominently in the series, and she actually wrote all four of those as well under the pen name A. Deborah Baker – they’re sort of young-adult fiction, about a pair of pre-teens who climb over a wall that didn’t used to be there and go on an adventure through worlds unknown. (So depending on why Every Heart didn’t grab you, the Up-and-Under series might do instead? The first book is Over the Windward Wall)

      4. GoryDetails*

        Re the “Wayward Children” series – I adore it, with “Every Heart…” among my favorites. I also loved the books centering on Jack and Jill – imagine a magical-portal to the world of Hammer horror films! The diverse characters and the scary-yet-triumphant storylines are lovely – though many of the characters undergo some pretty serious trauma, sometimes in their pre-Door lives, sometimes in those other realms, and sometimes after they’ve returned. But the aspects of “found family” run throughout.

      5. Claire*

        The series is one of my favourites, and this book in particular resonated with me, especially Nancy’s character. I just loved the whole concept of the world she went to and how she felt about it and why she wanted to return to it, and how that was treated by the narrative.

    10. Lucky Librarian*

      I am reading Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. I am less than halfway through, but I am so fascinated and eager to keep reading.

    11. RedinSC*

      I just started Abraham Verghesse’s (sp?) The Covenant of Water

      IT’s a big long book, well written, but already there’s some sadness.

    12. don'tbeadork*

      Just re-reading Pratchett. I need something light after reading Alex Grecian’s Scotland Yard series.

    13. Pam Adams*

      My official October reads- A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

      I read Lonesome October through at the beginning of the month, and then listen to a chapter a day via audiobook.

      1. Clisby*

        I love The Graveyard Book. I remember liking The Jungle Book as a child, and was interested in how that inspired Gaiman to write it.

      2. carcinization*

        I love A Night in the Lonesome October… my mom, my husband, and I did a kind of book club thing for last Christmas where the three of us read it and discussed it, and in turn I just recommended it to my actual book club a couple of days back. I was like, “good for fans of good dogs AND good cats!” (hope that’s not too much of a spoiler!)

    14. Grilledcheeser*

      I started “Princess of Potential” by Delemhach and (no spoliers!) urg, it’s a slog compared to the amusing, crazy, fast-paced first three books. The heroine cries ALL THE TIME and I am only halfway through! I don’t CARE about her anymore, she has annoyed me so much. I want more of the side characters, more exploration of the magic in this world, more development of people. Sigh. I need to complete it or my brain won’t shut up about it, so back i go for another slog.

    15. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Audiobook (for driving and sewing): My Life And Weird Times On TV by Louis Theroux, because I have listened to all the Jon Ronson audiobooks I could find. It is a slightly odd listen because I’ve never seen him on TV.

      Reading-with-my-eyes book: I piked out of People In Glass Houses, which is about the Hillsong church in Australia – it was interesting but structured as a set of essays with a very repetitive structure (and sometimes content) so I couldn’t get through it. Now I’m reading When McKinsey Came To Town and flip-flopping between going “OMG everything is McKinsey’s fault!” and “Oh, come on, you’re just reaching now, and all you’re saying is that a huge management consulting firm went along with the dominant ideology which is not very surprising”. But it’s giving me much material for reflection on my own workplace.

      Recent and brilliant read: Ink Blood Sister Scribe which I think a lot of people on this site would love – very intelligent, really gripping, beautifully-written fat feminist fantasy novel. (The novel is fat, not the feminism.)

    16. Richard Hershberger*

      “A House is not a Home,” Polly Adler’s memoir first published in 1953. Adler was a Russian Jewish immigrant who rose to madam of a high end bordello in the 1920s and 30s. She was finally shut down in 1944, moved to California and went to college to get her degree. Then she wrote her memoir, which was a huge best seller for obvious reasons. For less obvious reasons it then largely dropped out of the popular consciousness. There is a modern edition from U. of Massachusetts Press.

      It is a fascinating book: well written and unromantic. It has some delightful anecdotes, like the American League baseball club whose owner would bring the entire team whenever they were in town and beat the Yankees. Then there are brutal discussions of the life of a prostitute and how it often turns out in the end. A trigger warning is absolutely called for.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I swear I’ve heard of her. I know how to get to the main library now (it’s just a few stops from my office) and it’s huge, so I’m sure they have it. I’ll look for this.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          A biography came out two years ago. That might be why you know the name. I told my mother I was reading her memoir. She snorted. It was quite notorious, back in the day. Mom followed this up by asking if it was worth reading. I will pass it on to her next time I visit.

    17. Loopy*

      I am trying to get into Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and failing hard. It’s a YA (I believe?) Fantasy series about an assassin and has a massive following. It checks all my boxes (part of a multiverse, lots of characters, multi POV, magic, etc) and I’ve read her other two series and really over the top looooved them but these characters and the plot aren’t grabbing me at all so far.

      I did abandon a series I posted about a few weeks ago, from Blood and Ash. Glad I did. Seem to be in a bit of a book slump though!

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I am having trouble with the heroine being stupid for no reason and not just because she’s brave in Throne of Glass (though I could be thinking of a different title by her).

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      I am reading A Year By The Sea by Joan Anderson, nonfiction about a 50-year-old writer whose husband announces they’re moving for his new job, and she decides to move into the family’s Cape Cod cottage instead. A lot of introspection and life examining, well told.

      I also picked up The Brothers Hawthorne on Kindle (4th in a series, should read in order, starts with The Inheritance Games), because I had recently learned they had a fourth. It is fun and light and zippy and just want I wanted right now.

    19. Vio*

      I just finished the Teixcalaan Duology (A Memory Called Empire and A Desolation Called Peace) by Arkady Martine and was very impressed. It’s a sci-fi story that involves a culture where the memories of a person are implanted into their successor so that their replacement benefits from all of their experience. The new ambassador, with their predecessor newly implanted in them, is sent off to an alien empire and is soon embroiled in the complicated politics and a murder investigation… while also having to determine if their memory implantation has been sabotaged!
      It’s got great characters, some unique and ideas and makes for a very engaging read. I’d highly recommend it.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        And if you know a little bit about naming conventions and understand that the main religion is based on blood, I am thinking she hit the Aztec culture and moved it forwards several thousand years.

        1. Vio*

          I didn’t get that, I was wondering if the naming convention was inspired by Twoflower from the Discworld books but it’s likely Pratchett was actually inspired by the Aztec as well since he included so many references to historical cultures.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        And if you know a little bit about naming conventions and understand that the main religion is based on blood, I am thinking she harvested the Aztec culture and moved it forwards several thousand years.

      3. carcinization*

        I loved those too and agree about the Aztec elements! I was disappointed that the professional reviews I read didn’t get that!

    20. word nerd*

      Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Willder, a blurb writer, was such a fun read–I think it would especially appeal to anyone in writing/editing/publishing. It also gave me more of an appreciation for the craft of blurbing, which I had never really thought about before.

      I’m in the middle of The Master and Margarita right now and really liking it so far (although I’m guessing I would get more out of it if I’d read Faust), so thanks to whoever brought it up here a while back!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, I love The Master and Margarita! I actually saw it performed as a play before reading it and that inspired me to seek it out.

    21. Seashell*

      I’m reading The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up by Andy Cohen. I was looking for something light and mindless, so it fit the bill. It has some funny moments and relatable moments for anyone who has taken care of small children.

    22. Lemonwhirl*

      I finished “Girls and their Horses”, which was a fun and interesting read. Reminded me of “Bad Summer People”, but with horses instead of on an island.

      I also started and finished in a single sitting Claire Keegan’s “Small Things Like These”. It’s set in mid-1980s Ireland and is about a man who opens his eyes to what’s really going on in the convent in town. Keegan has a very old-timey and immersive writing style that really suited the creeping dread that runs through the center of the story. (I think I read that’s going to be made into a movie starring Cillian Murphy.)

      And I’ve started and am really enjoying “The Ghost Tree” by Christina Henry. It’s also set in the mid-1980s. I wouldn’t want to give too much away because this book seems to have layers. It is definitely horror though, so proceed with caution.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        I read the Cecelia and Kate series this week, based on a recommendation from last week’s weekend thread, and loved it! The mixture of letters and diary entries, the witty writing – just brilliant!

        I’ve just started re-reading Diary of A Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. :)

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Have you watched the film An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), which was based on Foster? Amazing Irish language film. So beautiful and heartbreaking and uplifting, all at the same time. I think about Cáit all the time and wonder about how she grew up.

    23. PhyllisB*

      Just finished two books in the last couple of days: The Black Velvet Coat by Jill G. Hall and Tom Lake by Ann Pratchett. Both very good. Alison. recommended Tom Lake last month, and her assessment was right on.
      The Black Velvet Coat is a dual time line story, and I was slightly disappointed in the ending ( not a bad ending, just inconclusive) but then I saw there is another installment, The Silver Shoes, so I will be on the lookout for it.

    24. Girasol*

      Slogging through Baudolino by Umberto Eco. It is complex and well written in terms of revealing the human condition, a very scholarly novel that reminds me again that I have very simple tastes and am not very scholarly at all. But I am determined to get through it.

    25. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me this week: I am revisiting Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov. It was a huge hit in Russia as a satire of the upper class. The titular character is a man who is so inert, so indecisive and so lazy that he stays in bed for the first 50 pages. Needless to say, it’s slow. But rewarding! Haven’t read it in years.

      And because I haven’t been dazzled by writers in a long time, I am revisiting the smartest, liveliest book Italo Calvino ever wrote – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. It is about the reader (me) trying to read a book (it). It is a fun puzzle, and wildly imaginative. I love it!

    26. GoryDetails*

      I have an interesting book in progress. I found a copy of it in my Little Free Library, and was intrigued by the cover-art (a white-on-black image credited as from Paul Maria Schneggenburger’s “The Sleep of the Beloved”). The book has no ISBN and very little other information; the author is given as “Author Unseen,” and it was apparently from a limited-edition print-run. Title?

      WHAT THE DEAD CAN SAY – and while I feared that it would be a Not Very Good vanity-project, it has turned out to be quite fascinating. It’s narrated by the ghost of a girl who died at age 3, but who has – somehow – the ability to take in the memories of other ghosts when she touches them, giving them all of hers at the same time. This leads to her own memories containing multitudes, with experiences ranging across time and location, ethnicity and class… There does seem to be an over-arching plot, as our little ghost is speaking to someone/something that apparently has her captive, but so far the majority of the book consists of the stories of the ghosts she encounters. I’m finding it well-written and intriguing – and am now wondering if there will be a Big Reveal someday as to who the author is!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I feel like if a character in a book found the book you describe, it would be like, absorbing them as they read it and they would find themselves being a ghost at the end, and then the next person who picked up the book would find it was narrated by the ghost of a (age and gender of the reader who just got absorbed), and …..

        1. GoryDetails*

          Heh! Yeah, that’d be nicely creepy. In this case it isn’t “absorbing” in the “taking away from the original owner” sense, though; they share the memories, so each ghost leaves the encounter with (way) more memories/personas than they had going in. Apprently our heroine is the only ghost who can do that.

          Oh, and despite her best efforts, she can’t communicate with living people. There’s an amusing line in there about how organically squishy the insides of their heads are, with nothing for a ghost to grab onto…

    27. Ambee*

      I’ve been reading In The Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende. Gorgeous book, the traumatic parts are awful but juxtaposed with hilarious hijinks. I’m really enjoying it.

    28. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Finished the first two Mrs. Pollifax books (The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax and The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax) and starting The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax now. One of the more interesting things about the books for me is looking back on the Cold War era and how the most feared bogeyman was Communism.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I liked Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish as well. Also, not enough Clairvoyant Countess, just sayin’.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          There actually is a sequel, but it didn’t work as well for me because it seemed to be operating in two different time frames at once: it takes place only about a year after the events of the first book (the 70s) but mentions things like AIDS.

    29. PastorJen*

      I’m reading Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia. It’s a fun and funny mystery hidden in a citywide treasure hunt and I’m loving it. It’s filled with smart, quirky characters and a lot of charm.

    30. Irish Teacher.*

      Currently reading The Hawthorne School. Not entirely sure where it is going. I thought it was going to turn out to be a cult, but I’m now wondering if there is some supernatural element going on.

      Anyway, it’s interesting so far.

    31. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I think I’m going to read Darius the Great is Not Okay because I’m 20 pages in and it seems good enough

    32. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I reread Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower this week. I haven’t gotten into her other books; I read Ancillary Justice once, but it didn’t grab me enough to check out the sequels. But The Raven Tower is one of my all-time favorites, and one of the few books that I’ve ever finished and immediately started rereading.

      1. Jackalope*

        I loved that book! It was so creative and different, and the author did such a good job of working everything together. And I love how the twist at the end was hiding in plain sight the whole time; when an author pulls that off it always makes me happy.

    33. WeavingLibrarian*

      Reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. Middle school novel, but good for anyone who loves fantasy.

    34. carcinization*

      Reading Nayler’s The Mountain in the Sea, which I just received as a gift as it was on my Amazon wishlist. I’m about halfway through and enjoying it so far.

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

      Finished up one of the Lucia novels and starting Jennifer Egan’s *Candy House*, the companion novel to *A Visit from the Goon Squad*. So far, I think I like it even better.

    36. the work is mysterious and important*

      Working my way through the Wheel of Time series! The Eye of the World was a bit of a slog, but I ripped through The Great Hunt in a few days. My partner loaned me their copy of The Dragon Reborn since I still have a three week wait at the library. In between those, I read The School for Good Mothers (very upsetting and not enjoyable, though thought-provoking) and The Wife Between Us (also not enjoyable, but only because the characters weren’t at all compelling).

    37. RaginMiner*

      I’ve been reading The School for Good and Evil series! definitely young adult but still sooo good

  2. nnn*

    Can we talk about non-work spreadsheets? A commenter mentioned earlier this week that they have an elaborate spreadsheet that they use for tracking gifts (https://www.askamanager.org/2023/10/scolding-strangers-kids-using-corporate-lingo-and-other-ways-our-jobs-follow-us-home.html#comment-4464321) and I wondered what other impressive spreadsheets people use to keep track of home/life stuff that I might be able to steal. Bonus points if you are willing to post your template but even just a general description would be amazing!

    1. Rachel*

      I use AnyList for my weekly meal plan and to store recipes. I do pay an annual fee but it’s pretty low for the return.

      It’s nice because when I have a busy week I can refer back to the previous years meal plan and take it from there because usually the weather is roughly the same and the sale items are approximately the same. Also, I can see trends to plan meals we are likely to eat.

      Less food waste and hassle about mealtime with this app. Highly recommend

      1. Kathy the Librarian*

        I love AnyList! I pay the annual, too, and it’s so worth it. I make lists for everything: presents, pantry contents, what batteries I need for what, etc. I especially love the ability to import recipes. My sweetheart has it on his phone, too, and is getting used to checking it when he goes to the store to make sure I didn’t add anything to the shopping list.
        Highly recommend!

      2. Lizz*

        I have an Excel sheet with dinner categorised by “how annoying is it to make” and “what fraction of the household like it”. Great for those days when I’ve just forgotten what food I even like…

    2. California Dreamin’*

      I have a master packing list for our whole family that includes everything any of us might ever need on any kind of trip. For every family trip, I make a copy of the master spreadsheet and go through and delete the rows of stuff we won’t need on that particular vacation (so maybe I can remove winter gear or swimsuits or dress shoes.). This works better for me than trying to remember everything I should bring for every vacation where I’m bound to forget something. And every trip is saved, so if we repeat something (Thanksgiving week at spouse’s family, or beach weekend) there’s a ready-made list. I’ve done this for many, many years, so the master list has been tweaked over time… no more diapers, add earbuds and phone chargers, etc.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Amazing, I have the exact same type of master packing list that I customize for different trips. Mine is extensive because it includes a lot of camping and backpacking gear. And like you, I update it periodically.

      2. Grad School Attempt 2*

        I started one of these last year and it’s cut down so much on packing time and stress!

      3. PhyllisB*

        Just finished two books in the last couple of days: The Black Velvet Coat by Jill G. Hall and Tom Lake by Ann Pratchett. Both very good. Alison. recommended Tom Lake last month, and her assessment was right on.
        The Black Velvet Coat is a dual time line story, and I was slightly disappointed in the ending ( not a bad ending, just inconclusive) but then I saw there is another installment, The Silver Shoes, so I will be on the lookout for it.

      4. PhyllisB*

        I don’t keep a masterlist, but I DO have a travel bag that keep things that I know I will use on any trip. Not going to list everything, but a couple examples: a curling iron, night light for the bathroom, something light to read that I can pick up at any time, like a Reader’s Digest. It’s just the two of us now, so no more kids’ stuff. When we used to travel a lot, I kept a box with things like a small coffee pot (the ones in hotel rooms aren’t always the best) coffee supplies, paper towels, paper plates and eating utensils and a plastic table cloth among other things. I don’t have the box packed anymore, but I keep all that stuff in the pantry so it’s easy to assemble.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          We have a cooking box for camping that we also use for AirBnB rentals – we cook our breakfasts and rental kitchen don’t reliably have the things we want.

          I should make a master packing list and I am resisting because my MIL did that and I used to make fun of it. What I was really reacting to was the air of moral superiority that went with it. We’re retired, I do a lot of short trips, and am now visiting my daughter and for the second time in a month found that I had packed part of my exercise gear and not all. Luckily I had the shoes both times and could borrow what I’d missed. Still….a list would be good.

          I do have a toilet kit that is always stocked and just needs to be tossed in the suitcase and a small bag for my meds that I can pop the bottle into when needed. I also have a technology bag with cables and charging blocks (mostly extras purchased when I found myself away from home without the relevant thing).

      5. My Brain is Exploding*

        I do this, too! I also have sections for if we are going to do airbnb (self-catering, so for food we want to bring and things like my vegetable peeler) or if we are going to see the folks (so tools, etc.), and some sections about “what goes in my personal item,” and a checklist for right before we leave (is the iron off? is the garage door opener turned off? etc.) And it has some odd stuff on it, too…things we’ve tweaked after overseas trips, like adding ziploc baggies.

      6. eeeek*

        We use spreadsheets for packing lists for camping (no gear left behind! clear communication between partners who are both assembling stuff!)

        My best spreadsheet use for camping is meal planning, which not only generates an accurate shopping list (and again, no overpacking) but also allows me to plan strategic use of leftovers and staging how frozen foods are also cooling elements.

        I also use spreadsheets for packing to make sure I have appropriate outfits for whatever, that I only bring things that are used >1 time (unless there’s a good reason), and I’m not overpacking. My friends have laughed at me, but I can travel with a carry-on for a business trip that has a two day hiking add-on, so the joke’s on them.

    3. just tired*

      ooh I love this question – and my SO really would. He created and maintains several spreadsheets for our personal lives. He’s much better at excel than I am, too, so they’re very nice and functional. Some I don’t use much/at all so don’t know all the details, but they’re pretty intricate. He has a budget/finance spreadsheet that links into others so he can make quick real-time changes (like increase annual salary, remove a monthly expense, change an insurance premium, whatever) and generate his updated budget, retirement allocations, etc). It even has an investment component so he can easily figure out how to adjustment allocations – it was really helpful when I was laid off and needed to figure out how much money I could live on for how long. He has multiple jobs so it helps to keep all the finances straight. We have one for expense tracking because we split expenses at different rates and it can get complicated to work out every month. And we have a huge one for tracking home maintenance/improvements/purchases because we bought a neglected old house and the to do list is too long.

      If any of these sound interesting I’ll ask if he can share a template!

    4. Amateur Watercolorist*

      I have a spreadsheet for keeping track of all of my professional grade watercolor paint tubes (I have more than 100). It lists the color name, brand, the size of the tube in ml, color “group” (e.g. red, brown, etc), and which palette the color is in (I have 3). I’ve set it up so I can filter by everything but the name. It’s not terribly fancy but I like it. To make it more useful I should really add columns for the pigment info but that would take forever. I also have a very bare bones spreadsheet of the 50 or so people on my winter holiday card list. I hand paint all the cards and usually choose a couple of designs to use each year so I need to make sure no one gets the same card two years in a row! This year I have a good wintery snow scene that has nothing to do with Christmas specifically so I can use the same design for everyone which will be less to keep track of.

    5. Hope*

      I have a spreadsheet that projects how many years it’ll take for a stock’s dividends to pay itself off at the current stock price. I also had a spreadsheet for job hunting that I later used for data about my success rate for a blog post. My friend has one that tracks every clothing purchase so she can go back and calculate the cost per wear and determine when it’s worth replacing an expensive item.

    6. DorothyGale*

      Packing lists! The camping one is organized by bin, plus a separate list of all the items that need to go into the car.

      I also have a packing list for my kids clothes where I can select the number of nights and the weather, and it populates the list of what they need to pack.

    7. Me (I think)*

      We have a master packing list for camping that covers every possible scenario, just need to make a copy, rename it, and remove blocks or tabs as needed. (There’s a separate one for backpacking.) I finally made a master household spreadsheet, bringing together my individual sheets for vehicle maintenance, home maintenance, medical stuff, tracking things like “when did we actually replace the smoke detector batteries?” etc. I love spreadsheets and use them for everything :)

      My father was the spreadsheet boss, though, recording basically every single thing that happened in his life. Going back decades. It was like a combination personal diary and life tracker. Once, a year or two before he died, we were discussing my brother’s guitar lessons, and dad went upstairs and came down a few minutes later with the exact dates, number of lessons, and the cost — and these had happened in the 1970s.

      1. Me (I think)*

        Oh, yeah, I also created a giant spreadsheet for retirement planning, which plots out 35 years of income, expenses, investments, etc., and I can make small tweaks and see the results. It takes into account investment return, inflations, COLAs, tax rates, required and discretionary spending — all the good stuff. It’s relevant because we’ll both be fully retired in less than six months.

        1. Girasol*

          Me too, still keeping it now, years into retirement. It gives me confidence because I can see what’s going on and not have to wonder if everything will work out okay. I still sit down with my bank statement and credit card bill once a month to fill in the spreadsheet that adds up how much went for groceries and home maintenance and gasoline and subscriptions and all, sticking every dollar into a slot so I can see where my money goes, what expenses are going up and which I might trim back. And then once a year I plug everything into the retirement calculator, with the inflation and investment growth rates and age I expect to live to and all, to see if I’m still on track. I can’t imagine just going by the seat of my pants and never knowing if I’m doing okay.

          1. Just here for the scripts*

            If either of you would be willing to share templates, I’d love them! My 30-year-plus-but-not-married-“hubby” is about to retire (because he’s been saying that for the past 5 years) and I think one of the reasons he’s hesitant to is because he fears running out of $$. Also, I’m a city employee and he’s want to be sure there’s enough $$ to leave me some of his retirement $$$ (I am his TIAa beneficiary and we’re joint on all non-retirement accounts). Such a spreadsheet would give him confidence that his folks at TIAA-Cref are right when they say he’s fine. And I’d also love to use them so we can see if I can retire before 5 years go by (when I’m 67) as there’s 11 years between us. TIA!!!

            1. Girasol*

              I don’t have anywhere to post it, but then, you’d want your own that makes sense for you. My sheet just has months across the top. Down the left side it has categories that I figured out starting on the first month of going through my expenditures (groceries, electricity, phone, subscriptions…) and tweaked as I went along until everything we spent fit well into one of the boxes. At the end of the year I add up what was spent in each category and use that to figure out pretty well what we’ll need next year. Then I account for the rare big-ticket items like home maintenance (new roof, etc.), car purchase, and long term care. If you start now, you’ll be really knowledgeable about your spending by the time you’re considering retirement. TIAA-CREF’s advice will be more dependable the more accurately you can describe what you spend.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Oooh! Let’s see, I have basic tables just to have places for our vehicle (VIN, title, plate #s) info, the door codes I’ve assigned (for cleaning person, pet sitters, etc. in addition to ourselves), and my vaccinations, but they could be in a Word table.

      I created spreadsheets with actual functions for: our charitable donations; our HSA-eligible expenses (with links to images of receipts); the county Alcohol Beverage Services, since they had a CSV export, and I wanted to compare unit prices and sales percentages; and a Social Security projection, showing how much your benefit increases each year, with a cumulative total for each year based on the starting year, for 62, 67, and 70, with breakeven years highlighted. I’ll put a link to that last one in a reply, because if you know your FRA benefit, you can enter it in a field and customize it, but the proportions remain the same. I just wanted to be able to visualize the difference in claiming at different ages.

    9. Bethlam*

      I keep a fitness spreadsheet with the statistics from Fitbit and my calorie counting app. it totals my weekly walking, running, and biking mileage, on one sheet,, and another sheet is formatted to turn green when I meet my daily calorie,, mileage, and activity goals.

      I also keep a medical history spreadsheet. Not as important as it used to be for past events now that info is shared across networks, but if I have to see a Dr for something, I can tell him/her when the symptoms started, if something has changed, etc.

      1st sheet has past surgeries, important conditions, family histories, prescriptions. Another sheet for tests, results, and diagnoses, and individual sheets for symptoms I’ve needed to track.

    10. Phlox*

      Two besides my budget that are in regular use, not impressive, just functional!

      1) List of everything in my “rescue” kit – its a small makeup bag that I keep in my bag at all times with useful items from bike multi-tool, ibruprofen, bandaids to needle/thread, etc. List makes restocking/checking really easy. Not fancy, just useful.

      2) Spreadsheet of every book I currently own w author, year I got the book, and whether I’ve read it. Partially an accountability tool to keep my collection under control, actually read the books I’ve acquired, and a great way to check at the bookstore if I already have stuff. At this point, I also have all my reference, sewing and cookbooks in there in addition to ‘standard’ books, just labeled as a third cateogry because I don’t care to have read the whole dictionary, just want to document that I have it!

    11. Travel Geek*

      I keep a spreadsheet for vacations we’ve taken, with date, place, hotel or campsite, and can sort by country, city, attractions.

    12. Middle Aged Lady*

      Camping, each of our online accounts with passwords, etc, the contents of my personal cookbook, finances. Hubs just had surgery so I made one of his meds and printed it so we can record when he took each pill and when he can have another to avoid overdosing him on pain meds.

    13. don'tbeadork*

      I have spreadsheets to track all our gaming minis — sorted by manufacturer, class, painted or not… Each specific manufacturer has a workbook with separate pages for a master list, sorted by class, sorted by location, sorted by painted or not.

      It cuts down on some duplication (gamers will tell you that you always have more minis than can be painted before you see something new and shiny) but if I’m careless and forget to update something I might end up with multiples of some minis. That’s fine, because usually both of us want to paint the same one, so having two (or more) cuts down on family strife.

    14. Mornington Cresent*

      I have a massive one that my roleplaying partner and I use to keep track of our big cast of characters between us for our long-running self-indulgent online urban fantasy roleplay.

      It’s got everything from basics like their names, species and appearance, to more in depth stuff like their personalities, likes/dislikes, what weapons and magic they have, and what their role is in a monster encounter situation.

      It’s saved us on several occasions when we need a reminder of which character we need to take along to an encounter for a particular role, or “hey, what was [x]’s nickname for [y] again?”

    15. Not Australian*

      I’m using one at the moment to size up a knitting pattern – a 1980s picture sweater designed for tiny twiglets. Using really small cells to represent the individual stitches. It’s a long job but much easier to deal with than anything other solution I’ve come up with. It helps that the sweater itself is really simple and the only real complexity is in the picture. Also … it sounds a bit obvious, but using a spreadsheet essentially means designing it upside-down, starting with the rib at the top… it’s challenging, but I’m loving the problem-solving element of it.

    16. Angstrom*

      I made one for comparing bicycle geometries(stack, reach, drop, etc.) when I was bike shopping. Also one for gear ratios with different cranksets and cassettes.
      My spreadsheet for tracking retirement investments includes a chart of how long the savings will last at different spending and growth rates. Change one variable and it redraws.

      1. Curious*

        Angstrom, is your name taken from the BBC Radio 4 spoof scandi thriller of the same name? Whenever I notice your comments, I am curious.

    17. Miss Buttons*

      I use an Excel spreadsheet to track all my and hubby’s medical bills. Start a fresh one each calendar year. So helpful to organize all the deductible info, all the EOBs from the health plan, medical bills. I’ve been doing it for years but it is absolutely essential this year with my cancer and umpteen bills. Too confidential to link here. That lovely DONE column in the far right is so much fun to see as each claim is fully paid and checked off. Great to keep each spreadsheet saved because all my HSA info is tax deductible & must be saved for tax purposes. Good luck with your spreadsheets.

      1. Raia*

        Would love to see a template of this! I’ve had a lot of bills this year with physical therapy and surgery consults and things that it’s gotten to be overwhelming, but I love spreadsheets so doing this might cut down on some anxiety!

    18. Texan In Exile*

      A friend keeps a spreadsheet of her annual holiday party – who attended, what she served, what people ate, what they didn’t eat, how much everyone ate, and so on.

      (Key finding – if there’s booze, people tend not to eat the sweet appetizers as much as the salty ones.)

    19. No Tribble At All*

      Not created by us, but when we were researching electric cars, my husband found an amazing spreadsheet at ev-database dot org where you could sort by availability in your market, overall range, battery efficiency, battery capacity, etc. He’d started compiling one on his own but was pleased to find this one already made!

    20. Camelid coordinator*

      When kiddo was little we had a summer care spreadsheet organized by week that listed which camp he was attending, its hours, if aftercare was available, and if there was a special theme or activity that week (like chess or filmmaking camp). We also wrote down which parent did dropoff and pickup. Camps never took up the whole summer so we’d also note which parent was covering the extra weeks. I’d often take kiddo to VT at the end of August before school started in September, and the hubs often covered the weird half week in June when public school ended on a Monday or Tuesday.

    21. Lifelong student*

      I have so many spreadsheets- I’m known for it! I track my yarn stash, food expenses, net worth, taxes, placement of squares in afghans, medical test results, weight- I guess I track everything!

    22. Christmas cookie*

      I keep one for to track out family’s net worth.

      I started it in 2013 because I felt like despite having two good incomes we weren’t saving much. I pulled in all our various accounts, debts, assets, etc and did a monthly or quarterly comparison. It felt really good to see our overall net worth grow (paying down debts, growth in value of our home, contributing to retirement/529s etc) even though our main savings account stayed flat. I still do it 10 years later!

    23. BlueMeeple*

      I love a spreadsheet! :)

      We use them for trip planning and I use a similar spreadsheet for presents and crosstitch patterns for Christmas cards in draft e-mails too. I also use a Google spreadsheet for the very simple accounts for the board games group that I run. :)

    24. mreasy*

      I do all vacation and personal budget planning on spreadsheets. And I couldn’t have planned my wedding without them!

    25. anonforthisone*

      In the kink scene, it’s not uncommon to have spreadsheets to keep track of kinks and preferences, and to assess compatibility with potential new partners. I don’t have one (yet!) but one of my play partners had me fill out a pretty detailed spreadsheet after we met so he could figure out our areas of overlap. Highly recommend!

      Someone else I know has one that auto-populates a numeric score for each activity after both people have ranked it on a 1-5 scale, to determine whether it’s a good thing for them to do together based on both people’s preferences.

    26. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I have a study spreadsheet that lists my assignments and how much they contribute to my grade. I fill in the marks I get as I go and it calculates what I need to get for my remaining assignments to achieve various grades. For example, it might tell me that I only need to score 20% for my final assignment to get an overall pass, 40% to get a credit, and so on all the way up to HD. Of course, sometimes it might tell me I need 103% for a HD at which point I can moderate my expectations :D

    27. Sandi*

      My best personal spreadsheet story was at a work gathering where someone’s fiance mentioned that their wedding was being planned with spreadsheets, for example each invitee was listed and their likelihood of coming, so that allowed for an overall estimate of guests. There was a lot more info listed, and the fiancé clearly thought it was too much. Except that I work with data nerds and we all started comparing personal spreadsheets. It was one of the better socials!

    28. Nervous Nellie*

      Sure! I have one. I keep a spreadsheet of my massive movie collection, listing columns with film title, director, country of origin, type (ie. comedy, documentary), keywords/tags, main actors x3, bonus character actors x 3.

      I experimented with column filters to then group films by theme or country or actor or whatever (ie. all from one actor, all about – for example – office life/fast cars/horse stories/science fiction), but found I prefer pivot tables to group them.

      I created them, and then used them to group & view films over the pandemic, and to play the game where the next film seen has to have an actor in it who was the film seen before it, with bonus points if the linking actor is a minor character actor. Building the spreadsheet and watching the films kept me amused and relatively sane through the whole pandemic.

    29. Not that Jane*

      I have a chore spreadsheet that breaks things down by daily, weekly, and one-offs… also a meal planning one… and a mug that says “Oh! This calls for a spreadsheet.” :D

      The one I’ve gotten most share requests for is a social tracking spreadsheet that lists people we love (friends of mine, friends of hubby’s, friends of the kids’, and extended family), then the date of our last contact with them & notes for best contact person & avenue (eg zoom meetings, text, phone calls, prefers outdoor hangouts, etc.) The date field is set to highlight if it’s been more than a set period of time since our last contact, so I can make a note on the chore spreadsheet to contact them. It helps me mostly avoid the situation of, like, suddenly remembering (usually in the shower or the car, where I can’t do anything about it) that it’s been a while since I talked to my friend Kari, or hey, we should set up a play date with Ryan’s family or whatever. We made this at the start of the pandemic when we realized that we would likely be among the last people who felt comfortable enough to “reopen,” and so we needed a more intentional way to make sure we would keep in touch than just counting on seeing people casually at the next get-together.

    30. Kathy the Librarian*

      I’ve created a spreadsheet for keeping track of my antique silverware and china. I can see how much I bought something for and how many I have of each. I can see what I don’t need to buy more of and can see what obscure piece I want that might become available.
      It’s great for my insurance, too!

    31. Raia*

      I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned yet, but I keep a spreadsheet of home maintenance purchases, average cost and lifespan, and projected replacement year. Then there’s a column of how much I should budget monthly to purchase the items in 5 year chunks so I have plenty of time to build up a cash reservoir. I’m working on building a home maintenance chore list too.

      1. Yay house*

        Would love to see these if you’re willing to share — just had an offer accepts on my first house and am starting my spreadsheets. :)

    32. Spreadsheet Master*

      I like charting data, so anything I can collect good data on over period of time is game. The longer, the better. Here are some examples:
      – CPE credits; 17 years
      – car gas mileage; 6 years current vehicle; 5 years previous one;
      – audiobooks titles, authors, hours of listening, etc. 7 years.
      And, of course, I keep a bunch of other data in spreadsheets: address book, packing list, various investment calculation, etc. For income, expenses, and net worth I’ve been using Quickbooks for at least 20 years. No data of mine is anywhere in the cloud. Everything is on my local device regularly backed up to a portable hard drive stored outside the house.

    33. KatyHawk*

      An excel spreadsheet with “punch outs” tabs for each room, and for outdoors.
      These are all tasks big and small for each room. (Like dining room – wash carpet, paint crown molding, reupholster chairs)

    34. Not Totally Subclinical*

      When I got overboard into fountain pens, I made a spreadsheet of pens and inks, with a code for each ink and a VLOOKUP to show which ink was in which pen.

      I have a few spreadsheets where I keep details about craft tools. Those aren’t particularly fancy, but have been handy for keeping track of “do I already have a US size 3 circular with a 32-inch cable?”

    35. Just Got Bored*

      Completely not life changing but I got bored sometime in 2020 and made a spreadsheet for a hidden role game (Ultimate Werewolf). It had one sheet with a description of all the cards. Another sheet ensured the game was balanced with positive values for villager team & negative values for werewolf team (point value was determined by how much said role did for their team). The last sheet randomized the chosen roles. Sadly, never got a chance to actually use it for Zoom game night.

    36. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I use a spreadsheet for personal finances (I spend *that much* on books? And I still have some money at the end of the month? Go me!). I also track progress on books I’m writing, have a standard vacation packing list and a ‘these are all the things that have to be done to clean the house for overnight guests’. I also have a books and pages list I’ve run from 2003 or so, though 2011 somehow got messed up. I also have a spreadsheet for phone numbers and addresses (yes, should be on my phone oh well). I also use a spreadsheet as an outline for current writing projects, especially the one where I had to juggle three points of view.

    37. carcinization*

      I think I’ve already mentioned this here, but my husband and I made one of Mexican restaurants in our town that are open for dinner. There’s a column to put the date we last visited the place, one for any notes, and one for a phone number, but we’ll probably only add numbers if we need to for some reason. This was mostly because we don’t want to forget any when considering places to go to eat, and won’t disagree about how long it’s been since we had a meal at a place. It’s a google sheet and is working well so far.

      1. Sycamore*

        We have something like this for takeout options — type of food, whether they deliver (and if you have to go through GrubHub or something), any days they’re closed, notes on the food. If we’re ordering in it’s probably because we’re exhausted, so it shortens the “what’s for dinner” process without leaving us defaulting to pizza all the time.

    38. The Prettiest Curse*

      I haven’t created many spreadsheets for personal use, but I did do one when we were house hunting and had to look at 9 houses within a few days. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been able to keep track of what we were doing and when, never mind what we thought of each house!

    39. Catherine*

      I tend to cut tags out of my clothing so I have a spreadsheet for my wardrobe that categorizes item by type (top, pants, etc) and holds the wash instructions for each item. If I don’t know how to wash something I can look it up.

    40. Anon. Scientist*

      I think this is pretty common but I had a spreadsheet for houses when we were house-hunting, with lots of rows for attributes that were important to us, color coding for status of visits (Drive by vs. whole house viewing), and a weighting scheme for overall score. That was good as a way to rule things out, and then we found a house we loved and dropped the spreadsheet!

    41. exoboist1*

      We have spreadsheets for: our sheets and duvet covers, so we can attempt to rotate their use; the desserts we’ve made, started during the pandemic; and years of ones for our expenses. We’ve also made short-term ones for rootbeers we were trying out. We embrace the nerdiness.

    42. so very tired*

      I just make trackers for everything in my life in Google Sheets: TV shows we’re watching, video game stuff, etc. I don’t follow a specific template or format I just put stuff in a spreadsheet. It makes sense to me

    43. Dancing Otter*

      I made a spreadsheet for the entries in my guild’s quilt show.
      Advanced sort created the lists by category and the check-in sheets by person; and I used mail merge to create all the individual labels for each quilt.

      The membership spreadsheet (which I did not design) tracks membership status by year as well as contact information, volunteer interests and actual volunteer work, offices held. I don’t recall at the moment whether it used internal reporting or mail merge to generate the annual directory.

    44. Mrs Claus, probably*

      Late to the party, but I have a spreadsheet for Christmas! (We’re not religious, this could work for any annual event… as I type this, I realise I should start one for the kids’ birthdays.)

      One tab is Cards – grouped by my family/spouses family/friends and further by country.

      Another is Gifts – same groupings, with columns for Gift, Purchased, Wrapped, Posted. And if I’m making a gift, I’ll include a link to a pattern and any supplies I need.

      If a gift goes down well, I’ll note that. If not… I’ll note that too.

      Another for Menu if we’re hosting, with links to recipes and shopping lists. Another for Traditions (the kids are young and we’re making this up!).

      For a big Christmas we hosted a few years ago, the spreadsheet included who was arriving when by which form of transport; who was assigned to cook what nights, and any dietary needs.

      It genuinely makes the holiday season a lot less stressful.

    45. Kiki Is The Most*

      Well before everything could be easily shared online, my siblings and I had a spreadsheet for when our father passed away and we needed everything sorted for the estate attorney.
      Debts—list of credit cards, etc and when we called them, who we talked to, and how much was owed at that time as we closed each account.
      Assets–when payments came in and how much.
      Bills–keeping track of the mortgage, utilities.
      Medical–when/who we talked to and informed them of his passing.

      Attorney was impressed! It made it so much easier to address what help we needed from the attorney and what steps needed to be taken to make sure that we covered all the bases to wrap up his estate.

  3. sarah the third*

    Has anyone used personal styling services like Stitch Fix or Trunk Club? Do you like them? Any tips for getting things you like from them or warnings or recommendations? I am skeptical that they will be able to send me things I like because I’m insanely picky but my closet is in dreadful shape right now so I’m thinking about taking the leap and trying one out.

    1. Stitchfixer*

      I’ve used Stitchfix for a few years. It’s worth it to me because I really don’t like shopping! The convenience of being able to try things on at home, and the ease of sending things back, is great. I’ve had some fixes I’ve loved, and some where nothing impressed me. Just be really specific with your stylist about what you’re looking for. You can also make Pinterest boards of styles you like and share with your stylist. There’s a discount if you buy the entire fix–if you are trying to make it as cost-effective as possible you can buy everything to get the discount and then sell items you don’t want–there are a bunch of Facebook groups for that purpose. Some people do recommend putting your age as younger if you want trendier clothes. I did at one point when I felt like I got a couple frumpy fixes in a row. It may have made a difference, hard to tell.

    2. acmx*

      I’ve done SF and I thought they did a good job a couple of times. After that, I just use it as another shopping site.

      Their choices for me are pretty limited. I’m in Florida and won’t accept things like sleeves or jeans or even long pants lol

      Try one! It’s fun.
      (I also did Adore Me and it was just for a lark. I don’t wear that really either lol)

    3. MP*

      I’ve found stitch fix to be hit or miss but I have gotten some nice stuff! I would have a Pinterest board like the commenter above mentioned and be specific about things you don’t want or need like no jeans, no jewelry etc. I see ads saying they will waive the “styling fee” so if you can use that promotion you have nothing to lose.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I tried StitchFix a few years ago and wasn’t real pleased – I told them I have two rambunctious dogs, so I didn’t want anything white or fragile, and I don’t do jewelry and I didn’t want jeans. The first three boxes they sent me included white jeans, white lacy-mesh overshirt things, a ridiculous assortment of big costume jewelry, and a hand to god leopard print bustier. After the third time I reiterated what I did not want and they sent me a box full of pretty much nothing but what I did not want, I peaced out.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Same. Could never use the whole box discount because they never stopped sending tacky costume jewelry.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I read somewhere that you have to put what you WANT in the comments, because you don’t really have a human stylist picking out your clothes, but an algorithm that does not understand “don’t”. So if it sees “do not send anything yellow”, it reads it as “yellow”.
        This would explain so much, because I ran into the same issue, and kept telling what not to send and kept getting it.

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          This is fascinating! I can see that instead of “nothing fragile” you say “sturdy” or indicating you only want dark colors or short sleeves. But what would the opposite of “jewelry” be?

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          So the stylist thing is false advertising?
          And I’m pretty sure the “what things should we not send you” question was radio buttons, not comments.
          Also, they can certainly write an algorithm that does better. Or even a form with separate fields for wants and dont-wants so they’re processed differently.
          I’m so OVER companies who make promises and then when they don’t actually do it, they blame “the algorithm”

        3. PastorJen*

          I know someone who is a stylist for Stitch Fix and they are human. :) Having said that, they do choose the clothes for each Fix, but do not have unlimited options of all the clothing Stitch Fix sells, so they’re limited in their selections.

      3. Catherine*

        I had the exact same experience. Nothing but boxes full of things I had specifically said I wouldn’t wear.

    5. Justme, The OG*

      I used Stitch Fix and it wasn’t a good experience. At most I kept one thing per box and they never seemed to actually follow my preferences. I had two boxes in a row where I wouldn’t wear anything so I canceled.

    6. Panicked*

      I’ve used the Nordstrom one, Stitch Fix, and a few others. Stitch Fix is the only one I’ve consistently liked. I had the same stylist for quite some time and they really got to know my personal style. I suggest creating a pinterest board of what you’re looking for and sharing it when you sign up. I also was very specific with what I wanted. I do think they are required to send certain items, as even when I say “no pants,” I still get at least one pair.

      The thing I like with SF is you can preview your box ahead of time, so if you don’t like the items they’ve chosen, you can ask for different ones. They’re also really good at fitting within your price range. It’s really helped me to build a standard professional wardrobe. I’m very much a “cardigan, blouse, nice pants” kind of person and it’s helped me build a great selection of everything!

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        I didn’t realize you could preview! I’ve only used them ad hoc and this would have been great to know! Almost every box has had one thing that is an almost exact duplicate of something I already own. (So partial credit for nailing my style…)

    7. Twisted Knickers*

      I’ve used Stitch Fix for years and really like it. In the beginning I liked it because they sent me things I probably wouldn’t have considered in the store, but when I tried them on, I really liked them. Now that they know “my style” a bit more, the things they send are spot on. I recently sent the stylist a note asking to change up the style a little, and they listened and did a great job with the next Fix. I almost always like all 5 things so I am able to take advantage of the 25% discount for doing that. I’d say…give it a try!

    8. Can't Sit Still*

      Stitch Fix was better when I could keep the same stylist from box to box. You have to aggressively vote regularly as well as pin things you like on the app to get a decent experience now.

      For women US size 10 and up, Dia & Co. is also a decent styling service.

      Trunk Club was amazing – you had an onboarding conversation with a personal stylist who got to know you and your preferences over time. You could either text or call your stylist and have a conversation in real time. Nordstrom bought it and laid off all the Trunk Club stylists, although Nordstrom does have online stylists now. The benefit to the online styling is that it’s virtual, so you don’t need to send any clothes back. Obviously, this only works if you are familiar with the brand sizing.

      1. Kat*

        I have done stitch, fix and liked it. Surprisingly, it is a great option for kids! You get way more pieces in a box, and they’re pretty inexpensive. Comparable to target at full price. When my daughters were 11-13 during quarantine, this was one of our highlights. A box would come with probably 10 things in it and we would do a fashion show and decide if we liked it or not. Kind of a fun way for them to develop their own style.

    9. RedinSC*

      a friend of mine has had great success with Rent The Runway.

      she always looks great and has been happy with the service

  4. Foxglove*

    I have a specific film/ tv show recommendation request-can anyone recommend some good period horror dramas? I have seen The Witch, The Wickerman (which I know technically doesn’t count but it feels as it should), The Masque of Red Death, Sleepy Hollow, The Devils and the BBC’s Bleak House and Jane Eyre. I have on my to watch list Ravenous and Ken Russell’s other period films with horror elements, but I would love some more!

      1. CTT*

        Impossible to find on streaming though! (As my sister and I have angrily cursed every October. I think it comes out on Criterion next week at least)

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        Yes!!! That’s exactly what I was going to recommend. Amazing film. Just waiting for my kid to be a little older to watch it with them.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      The 1961 movie The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr. It’s based on The Turn of the Screw and is amazing: creepy, unsettling, actual jump scares and an insinuated plot that just sends shivers up the spine. And the kids in it are fantastic.

      Village of the Damned, 1965, starring the same child actor from The Innocents. Brits do unearthly so well!

      For a change of pace, The Company of Wolves, 1984, very dreamy film based on the short stories of Angela Carter. Stars Angela Lansbury as Granny!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        The Innocents scared the bejesus out of me when I watched it around the time I was graduating from high school. That was decades ago and I still remember the ending scene. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. I now avoid scary movies entirely.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I actually went to see it as a screening the first time I saw it, and the entire audience jumped and shrieked when the governess is wandering around the house trying to seek out…

          Took the oldest cliche’ in the book and just distilled it into pure terror.

    2. Jay*

      Pan’s Labyrinth is set during the Spanish Civil War, although it generally doesn’t reference it much.

      1. happybat*

        Oh how interesting – not to indulge in too much allegory, but I kind of thought it was about the war!

    3. Squidhead*

      The Night of the Hunter (1955). Maybe more of a thriller? All the bad things are done by bad humans, no monsters. But I think it’s beautifully shot.

    4. JenniferJennyJenn*

      If you are OK with gore and subtitles I highly recommend “Kingdom” on Netflix. It’s a Korean period drama/zombie horror show. There are only two seasons so it’s not a huge time commitment.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Seconding this recommendation, it’s a really excellent documentary and you’ll want to watch a ton of other films after seeing it.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Witchfinder General (aka Blood on Satan’s Claw) is about the witch trials that happened in England before the methodology was exported to the US. Since it was made in the late 60s, the female characters are largely buxom but boring, but it’s otherwise really good.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh, and if you’re including TV, the BBC has done many M.R. James adaptations over the years. They tend to be short and very spooky – in a lot of cases, they’re proto-environmental horrors too.

        1. UKDancer*

          Oh yes they’re brilliant. I love “The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral” which has Robert Hardy as a cleric and Clive Swift (Richard from Keeping up Appearances) as a scholar. “Lost Hearts” is deeply creepy too.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            The best one I’ve seen is the black and white version of “Whistle and I’ll come to you”, directed by the legendary theatre director Jonathan Miller. Somehow the fact it’s in black and white makes it way more spooky.

            The thing I love most about M.R. James is that arrogant men so often end up on the receiving end of absolute terror, usually after doing something that everyone told them not to do.

            1. UKDancer*

              That one is good too. Michael Hordern is brilliant as the professor, capturing the arrogance as well as the innocence. There are some recordings of him reading MR James on Youtube and he has a great voice for it. Christopher Lee also did some readings of MR James and he definitely has the voice for it.

              There are some more modern episodes made by Mark Gatiss but I hated all of them except the “Tractate Middoth”. In my view Mark Gatiss doesn’t get what made James properly scary.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You My Lad is blood chilling. Really captures the terror of the short story (which is well worth a read) while being a different in a lot of ways.

      2. vegan velociraptor*

        Blood on Satan’s Claw isn’t the same film as Witchfinder General – they’re both early examples of folk horror, along with The Wicker Man.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Oh you’re right, sorry about that! I know Witchfinder General was released under a different title in the US but my early morning brain remembered it incorrectly. It was released in the US under the terrible title The Conqueror Worm.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      It’s not a horror film, but the start of it is quite creepy, the Poirot film, Halloween Party. It does include child murder though, just to warn you.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved that one! It was a new experience because I had already known the outcomes of Orient Express and Nile, but had never read this story so I got to find out the mystery in real time.

    7. Angstrom*

      Does most of the “classic” horror count? The original Cat People. House of Wax. The original The Mummy.

    8. mreasy*

      I just started The Fall of the House of Usher (new miniseries) and it is a DELIGHT. It technically in modern day but a lot of it is in flashback form to earlier days.

      1. Foxglove*

        Thank you so much for all the great ideas! Crimson Peak was the first film I saw in cinemas with my now spouse so would be a great rewatch (as would all things Guillermo del Toto) – I am currently working my way through Criterion’s pre hay’s code horror series (watched Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde last night which was amazing) I’m a Brit living on the west coast of the USA so all the British suggestions are particularly appreciated!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I just finished that one. I’m a huge Flanafan, lol. Midnight Mass is still my favorite, but this one was absolutely stellar.

    9. Chaordic One*

      This doesn’t answer your question directly, but there are a ton of classic horror flicks from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s and even the 90s and early 2000s that weren’t period horror dramas when there were filmed, but they’ve become that over time. You might want to visit some of the horror classics from the past.

      1. Foxglove*

        Watched The Exorcist 3 last night and that definitely fits what you’re talking about, contemporary when made but nevertheless feeling now very period. It was definitely kind of messy but some amazing moments and Brad Dourif is excellent in it.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Allow me to side step into parody, because I really quite enjoyed “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.

    11. I take tea*

      I quite liked The Wind by Emma Tammi. Set in the late 1800s and deals with the isolation of the Western colonialists.

    12. so very tired*

      Brotherhood of the Wolf is a bonkers French-language action horror film set in during the French Revolution. It’s a ton of fun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brotherhood_of_the_Wolf

      I also love Blood Quantum, a Canadian zombie horror film that has all First Nations Canadian people in front of and behind the camera. While it’s not a period piece per se it definitely has the look and feel of a classic 80s action horror flick.

      1. MCL*

        The newest Predator movie, “Prey,” is a period piece set in the early 1700s and a lot of it is in the Comanche language. I’m not overly familiar with the franchise but it was a great action/horror thriller with a strong female protagonist. It’s streaming on Hulu.

    13. Roy G. Biv*

      My recommendations:
      The Woman in Black (starring post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe) gave me properly spooky heebie jeebies.

      And Viy, the first Soviet era horror movie based on a folktale. Has some good creepy moments and practical effects. The period would be pre-Revolution Russia.

      1. UKDancer*

        I saw “Woman in Black” at the theatre when it was in London and I nearly jumped over the balcony rail in fright (according to my mother). It’s really scary if it’s ever on at a theatre near you. It’s slightly different from the film but no less brilliant in its way. The film is also very spooky in my view.

  5. Jackalope*

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

    I’m sick right now and have spent hours playing the newly remastered Final Fantasy VI. Has anyone else played the remastered versions? I’m enjoying this one a lot, but never played it before in the original so not sure how it compares.

    1. Jay*

      I’m getting back into Diablo IV in a big way with the release of the latest Season (Halloween themed, so yay!)
      I’m also anxiously awaiting the final pieces of the long awaited Hypatia Patch for Icarus, First Cohort. When THAT drops, I expect to basically living in that game for about a week or so. I’m not entirely NOT considering burning a couple of vacation days for that…..

    2. Snell*

      I finally got the requisite 10 dragon teeth for the island obelisk in Stardew Valley! So I’ve got an island obelisk now, right? Wrong!!! I’m still too poor!! :'( I’ve got the resources, but not the cash ugh it’s another grind

      Tbh gathering the dragon teeth was less of a slog than I feared, but they’re still a little aggravating.

      1. Jackalope*

        Glad you got the teeth at least. Getting my obelisk was the last thing I did the last time I played; I have been working on other games since then, but so glad I made it. Once you get it, the island will be much more fun because then you don’t have to deal w/ going down to Wally’s shack every time, etc. Best of luck!

    3. The Dude Abides*

      Saw the initial previews of the Magic the Gathering collab with Fallout – they’re doing a set of pre-constructed decks just like they did with Doctor Who.

      I could not be less hyped for the Fallout set – the Doctor Who decks just got released to stores last weekend, and before I even received in the mail the singles I ordered, there are previews/spoilers for new cards.

    4. don'tbeadork*

      Absolutely sucked into Baldur’s Gate 3, but because spouse and I have Rules about solo characters not getting ahead of our group no one has managed to get out of chapter one. Group party has to do every side quest available so solos can do them.

      1. Pumpkinhead*

        My partner and I have also been playing BG3 lately! I’m amazed at all the people who have finished the game–we are just now getting to Act 2 in our group and solo playthroughs. There’s so much to do and explore and find, it’s probably one of my favorite games to come out ever.

    5. I Have RBF*

      My current addiction on my phone is The Grand Mafia. It’s an MMO wargame, not a FPS game.

      There are other puzzle type games I play as well, like Number Crunch and Parking Jam.

    6. Panicked*

      I’ve been playing Fallout76 consistently for years and it’s still keeping my interest. The game got a lot of bad press (and rightfully so) when it came out, but it’s really wonderful now!

    7. Ambee*

      Ive been deep into Book of Hours for a cozy, relaxed, weird, atmospheric puzzle-y game. (I call it my “library sim.”)

      To contrast, I’ve also been playing Far Cry 6 on the PS5. I’ve never played any of the FC games before and I’m really enjoying it.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My family is downstairs in the Mad King’s Labyrinth in GuildWars2.
      I like it in short bursts, because something about the short perspective makes me even more seasick than usual.

    9. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I’ve written fanfic about Setzer (orginally played it back er, quite some time ago). Haven’t played the remastered one, though. I’m more into FFXIV. If you play, you will rapidly find out which dungeons you can do with NPCs and the ones you’re way better off playing with other players’ characters.

  6. Duckles*

    How do you find a therapist you like? I’ve tried a few sessions of therapy with several different therapists in the past and while there have been a few helpful bits, most of it’s been a waste of time and money– having me take online quizzes I could take by myself, sitting in silence/ending the session early after just sitting in silence, just small talk, having the therapist say they don’t usually work with high functioning people so they’re not sure what to say, having the therapist just repeat platitudes like “the answers are inside you”, etc. I’d like to talk to someone about just general midlife crisis feelings but am not sure how to search for that.

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I haven’t dealt with your specific issues that you want to find a therapist for, but when I was looking for a therapist for depression, I did some reading about what therapies work well for that, and found a therapist the specialized in one of those. The therapist I found was helpful – not a lot of quizzes or looking inside me, but specific actions I could take (journaling and other CBT techniques). A quick Google search showed CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) as a good possibility for midlife crises, so that might be an option for you.

    2. Mike*

      2 therapists I have seen who were very helpful I saw after being recommended by others. One I saw a through free work program was hopeless and was falling asleep. I’m in Australia and saw psychologists. I’d also suggest checking their website if they have one and seeing what sort of information they provide. some do specialise and have specific interests

    3. Office Hedgehog*

      The best therapist I had for talking about life feelings specialized in psychodynamic therapy. CBT just does not work on me and like you I went through many therapists before finding this one.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Psychodynamic has worked best for me. Mine is a Jungian and he has helped me do better in so many areas of my life.

    4. Saddesklunch*

      Therapist here – I have a few thoughts:

      First, you may find that word of mouth is more likely to get you someone who is a good fit. If you put feelers out into your network you may find that a friend or acquaintance sees or has seen someone who would be good for you (though many therapists won’t work with close friends or family of existing clients) or that their therapists might have some recommendations.

      It also may be that you’ll have better luck finding a good fit if you’re willing/can afford to see someone private pay rather than using your insurance. It’s a sucky reality that many therapists choose not to take insurance because the process is cumbersome and reimbursement rates are low.

      Finally, it could be helpful to spend some time, possibly with someone close to you so they can provide input, thinking about what resonates with you and what might be helpful. Do you like someone more direct or someone a little softer? Do you want someone to help you identify and practice coping or do you want to explore more underlying issues/deeper topics? Do you find that things like worksheets give you helpful framework and structure, or do they make you feel bored or condescended to? Figuring out your answers to questions like these can help you better weed out bad fits in screening calls. From what you’ve said it sounds like therapists with a psychodynamic or existential theoretical orientation might be a good fit, so it could be helpful to read a bit about those and see if that approach sounds right for you. Hope this is helpful!

    5. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I now have the most awesome therapist in the world for me – I think she’s the eighth therapist I’ve seen in my life, previously with varying degrees of usefulness from ‘actually harmful’ through ‘waste of time’ to ‘pretty good actually’.

      I found her by (a) hearing a friend talk about body-based therapy (b) reading Bessel van der Kolk* (c) searching to find a therapist in my area who mentioned Bessel van der Kolk. Then I had practice sessions with two or three therapists and this one I clicked with. Strong recommend for practice sessions/shopping around, and also for finding someone who has an approach that you think will work.

      I also knew I would like her because she had a photo of her practice room on her website instead of a photo of her face. The room is so important! I once nearly picked a therapist on the basis of her rug!

      Also good luck with your midlife crisis feelings, those are the worst.

      (*I know that BvdK is problematic don’t @ me)

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Recommendations. Mine was recommended by several people at the cancer support center; when my kid needed someone we asked our pediatrician and were referred to a lovely man who is like if Mr Rogers was a therapist.

      Both of those followed the pattern “initially have a clear problem I am dealing with, but their insight really helped and so later I continued for dealing with other stuff.”

    7. Bibliovore*

      My grief counselor is retiring and I have 3 sessions left with him. He has two therapists taking over his practice.
      He had two referrals for me. One was much younger than me in her thirties who most of his patients were going to and one who was in her fifties with experience with grief as well as chronic illness.
      He recommended the older one and said, that I would “chew up and spit out” the younger one.
      Huh?
      And I said, so if I said I was in a dark place, she would ask if I had tried music?
      yep.
      And we laughed.
      I need a therapist who laughs.
      Someone else might find that a problem.

    8. crookedglasses*

      I pay pretty close attention to their website. How do they describe themselves and their approach to therapy? When we have an intro, I’m also pretty direct about what has or hasn’t worked for me in the past. Asking friends/family for recommendations can also be useful.

      I will say, the therapist that I’m working with now had one of the most thorough intake processes I’ve encountered, including the little self assessment quizzes. In our first session we talked through the results and if that felt accurate for where I’m at. I feel like we’ve been able to work through the getting-to-know-you process a bit quicker and get more into the actual therapying.

    9. PlainJane*

      I don’t know, but I’m interested in the replies. The last three I’ve tried… two of them just latched onto something I said incidentally, when citing my observations about things that were wrong (one, my grandmother’s recent death–turned into grief counseling when, no, I was processing my grief all right and I needed help with other stuff, and the other latching onto weight because I said that due to my depression, I’d gained back a bunch of weight I’d lost… when in fact, what I need help with is dealing with a constant state of rage about certain things), and the other literally said that what I was angry at wasn’t very important, and did I have anything else? (They raised my mother’s rent too much for her to afford on a fixed income, which ultimately ended meaning I had to give up my apartment to help pay for hers because I couldn’t afford both. I’m furious and fuming and it’s not getting me anywhere, and… grr. I do not need diet advice and, “Oh, just accept that you’re angry” is also not useful. Nor is, “Everyone has money troubles.” Er, sorry.)

      I can go to my insurance page and get long lists of people, or I can go to a review page and not know whether someone will take my insurance. But… yeah.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Rose Madder by Stephen King talks about some coping mechanisms for simmering rage (especially the justified kind). Hitting pillows doesn’t help, but throwing axes? That might. (I have found that killing virtual orcs also makes me feel better, but something physical in meatspace might be more helpful. I don’t suppose you could get a part time job with a butcher? Or chopping vegetables?).

    10. eeeek*

      “High functioning” person here, who has had many therapists over the years.

      * In my experience, finding a therapist is a matchmaking exercise, and being up-front about what you’re looking for helps. Other commenters have outlined ways to identify therapies that can work, boundary/expectation setting, etc. (For me, being very direct with therapists that I’m an evidence-based person and that recommending magical therapies will not work for me, no matter how sincerely endorsed; similarly, I am also quite clear that I’m an atheist and that any attempt to recruit me to the other team is unwelcome.)

      * Adopting a spirit of humility helps. After all, if I’m in therapy, I NEED help. I have certainly had therapists who have said, “gee, I can’t really imagine what you’re doing in your work at your level…” but none have been silent thereafter. Usually, they follow up with probing questions, about where I could seek professional mentoring, or to express empathy about feeling frustrated/lost/whatever. The level I’m at may be unique for them, but the common denominator is that we all get depressed, have anxiety, go through our mid-life crises (or whatever).
      *I would immediately fire any therapist who told me the answers are inside me. Saying some form of “geez, e, you’re smart and insightful. We have to be able to figure this out with what you’ve got. Let’s dig…” would be acceptable. Having someone try to work it out with me was important.
      * I’ve had plenty of sessions where there was a lot of silence – but that was because *I* wasn’t talking. I was thinking, with an outside ear listening to whatever I might say. I do not want a therapist who blathers on without letting me talk. The point is not to fill the air, from my point of view. The point is to permit focused attention, and to create a space for thinking about what is making me sad or anxious or worried or whatever.

      Honestly? For me? the most important thing was to have someone say, “yeah, I get it. You’re high functioning and everyone around you thinks you have the Full Supply of Your Shit TOGETHER, and yet you’re still allowed to feel scared/anxious/depressed/grief/ frustrated/lost/stupid/outofcontrol/WHATEVER, because those are your feelings and you get to work on feeling better. You’re allowed.” I come from a family where everyone else has it worse and I should shut up and suck it up and count my damn blessings and let other people feel terrible, because I SHOULD NOT.

      I am high functioning. I am also anxious, depressed, grieving, and scared. And that is a state many therapists should be able to help with.

      Keep looking. Therapy works, in my experience.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        ( off topic?) Something I haven’t found yet is someone who is willing to say ‘ so you already have done everything on the first page of Google? I actually can assist beyond that’

    11. Sloanicota*

      I’m glad you asked this. I make nervous smalltalk and end up wasting the whole (expensive) session on minutae. Curse my midwestern conversational skills. I don’t know how to find someone who doesn’t let this happen or how to warn them in advance.

      1. Cardboard Marmalade*

        My therapist, who I adore, will let me talk about minutiae for a couple minutes, and then say, “So what do you want to focus on for today?” That way, if there was something in among the weekly update minutiae that I actually felt was significant, I can say why, but if there’s something more macro-level I want to address, it provides a clear transition for getting to that.

        So I think you can literally just tell your therapist that you feel comfortable easing into things with a few minutes of small talk, but after that it would be helpful if they can use some phrase that signifies “let’s get down to business”.

  7. Teapot Translator*

    Duckles’s question above has reminded me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask: who can call themselves a therapist in the United States? Does it vary by state? I’ve heard stories about therapists that make me wonder if therapists get the right kind of training and oversight.
    Where I am, a Canadian province, we consult mainly psychologists for therapy (mental health, life crisis, etc.), when we can get an appointment. They’re licensed professionals with PhDs and I don’t know what else and are members of a professional organization, which sets standards and must oversee their members’ conduct. That doesn’t mean that they can’t suck at their job of course, just like doctors or dentists, but it seems like I hear weird stories about therapy in the US more than in Canada…

    1. ThatGirl*

      In the US you need a masters degree and then a license that’s based on both years of supervision and taking a test. I think there are a few, I’m familiar with LPC and LSW – licensed professional counselor/licensed social worker and then LCPC and LCSW (“clinical” is the C). They have to do continuing ed to keep their license. There are also certifications for marriage &family therapists, drug & alcohol, etc.

      That said, I’m not sure how much oversight there is in private practice once you’ve gotten a clinical license – someone would have to complain.

      Side note, I have a friend who’s a talk therapist in Canada, she got her degree in the US and transferring her license back to Toronto was a pain.

    2. Therapist*

      Most therapists in the US have a Master’s degree either in Counseling or Social Work. To practice therapy independently they have to have a clinical license, which requires a certain number of hours of supervised experience and passing a test. Psychologists in the US often focus more on testing/evaluations, but some do therapy. I do agree there are some terrible therapists, but there are standards. There’s also a whole industry of life coaches, which is one way people get around meeting the requirements necessary to provide therapy.

    3. M*

      In the US we have several different pathways into counseling or therapy and the requirements for licensure are determined by each state. In most places a person will need at least a Master’s degree but it can be in social work or clinical mental health counseling or a doctorate in psychology and in some cases certain divinity degrees come with a pastoral counseling focus. Then different states have slightly different requirements but in my state there is a written exam, an internship (about 1 year of full-time work), and a approx. 2-year supervisory period (depending on number of clients seen each year) during which time the counselor works with clients under the supervision of a licensed professional (who is approved by the licensure board, not just any random person). Once all of that is completed and approved, a provisional license is granted but the person still needs to obtain continuing education credits and be in good standing with the board every year in order to keep their license.

      1. Sloanicota*

        That’s interesting, I thought “counselors” did not require a specific license but therapists did.

    4. ItDepends*

      It depends on whether they’re licensed or not and whether it’s in a formal clinical setting or not. Also the rules are different in different states.

      There are environments that are completely unregulated. There are environments where you can expect everyone to have a relevant degree, certification, and experience. There are lots of places in between.

      One interesting trend in the US is that some social workers now spend all or most of their time as counselors. When I was younger this wasn’t true – social workers used to be for practical assessments and specific advice/assistance to perform certain necessary tasks. This could be overseeing living situations/assessing suitability of the same or helping disabled patients navigate job barriers or helping people file for various assistance programs or all sorts of other things, but it was about providing practical assistance of some form. If you’re looking for some of this practical help solving specific logistical problems, this change can be frustrating.

  8. Old Plant Woman*

    Does anybody else have an interest in reptiles? I’ll tell you a story in the comments. Happy ending, but here’s my trigger warning.

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      I used to have an eight foot Columbian Boa named Lady. She was my sweetheart, calm and relaxed as can be. She was captive bred, not wild caught. I got her when she was six inches long. Well she got loose, lost. Out of her tank, right beside a low open window. Total freaking panic!
      Can’t call a snake home or rattle the food dish. I got on the ground, trying to think like a snake, crawled across the front yard to a wood pile. And there she was, happily exploring. I started talking about missing critters and one person said she put an ad in the paper that she’d found a snake. Got a dozen calls. That was forty years ago.
      Do you have exotic animal stories? If Fang ate Fluffy, please keep that to yourself

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My brother/ex-housemate has several snakes, including a ball python named Charlie. One morning he got up and discovered that Charlie was no longer in his enclosure, he’d managed to shove out the tube providing humidity into the tank and got out through the hole. After several hours of increasingly frantic hunting, he heard a weird noise coming from the sump in the corner. Charlie had managed to get inside the pump box and down into the pit and had wrapped himself up around the sump pump… and did NOT want to come out. All ended well, he eventually coaxed the snake out of the cold wet hole in the floor, but we never did figure out why he thought that was the best place to take off to. (And my brother used half a roll of duct tape to secure the humidity tube back in place.)

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        My brother had a ball python who would escape regularly. He almost always ended up in bed with one of us- I guess we were warm? Once he wrapped himself around the coils on the back of the refrigerator and could not be unwound. My dad ended up dismantling the fridge to remove him.

    3. RMNPgirl*

      I love snakes! Always thought about getting one as a pet, but I like the smaller ones (like the size of a baby corn snake).
      My cat found a garter snake on the rocks near our deck a couple weeks ago. She was batting at it a little, every time it flailed it’s tail around. I picked it up and brought it back to the edge of the woods near our house. It didn’t seem too freaked out by me transporting it.

      1. Snell*

        My mother once found a garter snake under a flower pot in the yard, and wanted to call animal control on it. I talked her down, but omg palm, meet face.

        1. Zephy*

          That calls to mind an episode of some quasi-reality-TV show from the aughts that followed the Animal Care and Control department of some county or another, I don’t remember what it was called. The episode opened with a family that had called AC&C because of a snake in their house. The nervous people greeted the officer and gingerly led him into the room where the snake was, hanging back in the hall and peeking terrified around the corner. Cut to a shot of a snake on the floor in front of the sofa, but it’s weirdly…blurry? and then a HUGE hand enters the frame from the top and scoops up the little three-inch danger noodle, which was met with shrieking from the homeowner. I don’t recall the species of snake but I believe it was harmless, just a lost little friend. They placed the snake outside and all was well.

      2. JSPA*

        Reminds me of a time that I was talking to an arborist, and she kept shifting sideways and glancing at the ground, then acting like she was looking anywhere but the ground. Disconcerting, as we were discussing tree trimming, and I was pointing up at the trees in question.

        Finally, I looked down fast enough, following the brief glance, to see not one but three tiny garter snakes coiled together, narrower than my little finger. I said, “oh sweet! mom must be in the rock pile here. We can move if they bother you?” Turned out she was a big snake lover, and was worried that I would freak out and attack the area with a flamethrower if I saw them.

        I assured her that hah, no, it was absolutely a “squee” moment for me, too–plus the promise of free entertainment and free pest control for years to come.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      My cousin has had two different pet scorpions (both caught on his apartments – he lives in the desert). He had to release scorpion #1 back into the wild when my aunt helped him move and refused to have a scorpion in her car).

    5. Lilo*

      My brother’s lizard escaped and for a while was living in between the walls of our house (we left food and water out for him. We were eventually able to lure him back with his favorite mealworms.

    6. Snell*

      I knew a guy with a full-on reptile collection…and also a cat. He’d taught the cat to run from snake-shaped things just in case someone got loose. This also meant the cat would run from a coiled garden hose in the yard, too.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My rule for my brother was no snakes that would get big enough to eat the household cats. His biggest was a six foot boa. I also regularly told the cats that if they didn’t behave I would rescind that rule. :-P (We never in eight years actually had any issues between cats and snakes and tegu.)

        1. Anima*

          You have a tegu?!?! Please tell me everything, good and bad, because husband and I plan on getting one in the future! <3

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I don’t – my brother did, and I didn’t have a whole lot of regular interaction with her and he moved out and took all his reptiles with him back in March, but I’ll tell what I can :) She wanted a lot of space for a creature who spent so much time in brumation – originally he had her in a big glass tank while he was waiting for a larger enclosure to be delivered, and she would climb up on her hide and literally get her claws up into the screen and hang from it and “bounce” until she ripped a hole in it to escape. He ended up setting her up a whole-ass 4 by 8 foot grow tent, and I’m pretty sure maintaining her grow tent environment at optimal heat and humidity levels (along with the four snake tanks) is a large chunk of why, when he moved out, my power bill dropped to literally a third of what it had previously been. Last I heard, he was working on target training her, and any time he picked her up she tried to climb up on top of his head (which was really funny since she was over three feet long the last time I saw it). But she went into brumation probably four or five months out of the year. When she was awake, he made her tiny salads and occasionally omelets, which entertained me and she really enjoyed.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I used to be a docent at a wildlife preserve so I was there multiple times a year. A few times I was fortunate to see one of the most endangered reptiles in North America, the San Francisco garter snake, that has a very small range. It’s also incredibly beautiful with bright blue and red stripes. You can check out this gallery of images at https://californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/t.s.tetrataenia.html

    8. kina lillet*

      My husband’s tarantula usually isn’t too dramatic, but after her cage is cleaned she’ll be pretty active. We always have to keep an eye on her—once found her hanging by one claw from the mesh on top of the cage. Presumably trying to leave this new, horribly clean place and get back to her familiar webby home.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’ve always loved snakes! Never quite to the level of wanting to keep one; I learned early on that they have very specific requirements, and we generally had a dog or a cat in the house and that might not have ended well for the snake. But I’d catch garter snakes for the joy of feeling them slither through my fingers, and once I caught a good-sized water snake that repaid me by lashing itself against my bare legs like a coach-whip. (Yes, I let it go. Don’t have to ask me twice, snake!)

      Have seen a rattlesnake in the wild when out west; kept my distance and we each went our own ways. More recently I saw what I thought *might* be a rattler on a trail in a hilly preserve, but it turned out to be an Eastern Milk Snake, impressively long and very handsome.

      Oh, and back when I had indoor-outdoor cats, one of them would catch garter snakes and trot proudly towards me, with the snake hanging from his mouth and curled up on both sides like a very long moustache. I’d rescue the snake, praise the cat, and we’d all go about our day.

      At one point a snake got indoors – not sure if it was via cat, or if it crawled through a gap in the foundation. But I found the shed snakeskin in my library one day, and for a while there was quite haunted as to where the snake had gone! (It never did turn up; I hope it went out again and lived a happy, snake-y life.)

    10. Jenny F Scientist*

      We just this summer got my middle kid a (rescue!) ball python as a 12th birthday present! I had a kind of mild horror of snakes before but I’ve gotten pretty fond of our trouble noodle. It always tries to go hide under the couch when it’s out.

    11. Clisby*

      I’ve always liked snakes – I think they’re absolutely beautiful. I’ve never had one as a pet, except for briefly when my father would bring one home to me from the golf course. I could never get them to eat anything, so my parents insisted I had to let them go after a few days.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll give you another happy ending story about an escaped snake. A friend in college in upstate agreed to take care of a large snake for someone studying abroad. ir got out midwinter and they were all sad.

      Come spring, the big guy showed up sunning himself on the front porch. Fat & happy. And someone else in the building said “Oh THAT explains why we’ve had no mice this winter!”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Hah! That actually reminds me of another story about my brother’s snakes, sort of. I had a weird noise going on in the corner of my office and I was worried that it was mice or something, and I had a rodent guy coming to check it out. It was really getting on my nerves the last morning before he showed up, and I turned around and yelled at the corner, WHY DON’T YOU GO PICK ANOTHER HOUSE TO HARASS, MAYBE ONE THAT ISN’T INHABITED BY FOUR SNAKES AND THREE CATS.

        The noise stopped within ten minutes and we never heard it again.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I need this tone of voice.

          This house smells like cats, small rodents of North America! It is not a good place to tuck in for the winter!

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      One of my remote team members lived out in the wooded boonies, and had set up her home office in a sort of three-season porch. It was getting warm, and her husband had put the window fans in, but he couldn’t find all the screws, so the fans were pretty much wedged in place but there were a couple gaps where he meant to get the rest of the screws next time he went to town and he kept forgetting. One morning she went out to her office with her cup of coffee and pulled out her chair to sit down… and realized there was a five foot long black rat snake wrapped around her computer desktop box (presumably because it was warm), staring her in the face because she’d just disturbed his beauty sleep. Husband was summoned by her scream and subsequently wrestled the snake into a pillowcase and dropped him off in the woods a couple miles away on his way to town for window fan screws. At 7am. Heh.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Old house in rural southeastern US. Helping spouse and his father to dig a hole. They were being very cool about ignoring the very large black snake coiled next to us, so I also attempted to be cool.

        Went in for lunch, mentioned the snake. Neither of them had noticed it.

        1. DannyG*

          We were dog-sitting granddaughter’s German Shepherd dog. We live on 5 wooded acres with a large fenced in backyard. She wouldn’t stop barking, I went out to see what was happening and a large black snake was crawling along the foundation of the house. It was annoyed by the dog, so I brought her in and allowed the snake to go on its way. It was good to know as we just got a couple of pups and we made sure that their outside time was supervised until they were big enough to not be potential snake snacks.

    14. MissCoco*

      My parents found a bearded dragon in a crosswalk in their small town. I’ve always found the image of them coming to a stop at a stop sign and realizing there is a little creature in the road, and then realizing it’s actually a relatively large lizard that definitely doesn’t belong in the wild, very amusing. My dad caught him and we brought him home and got him setup while we looked for the original owners, after a few days, my dad found a secondhand setup. In the end his original owners were never found, but my parents kept him for almost 6 years before he passed away. He loved blueberries and hated our beagle.

    15. I take tea*

      Keep your fingers crossed for the snake that has escaped from our local zoo and lives somewhere in the walls. They have been looking for months.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Like, in the walls at the zoo, or in town at large? I sort of like snakes but I do want a little heads up before I encounter one!

      2. allathian*

        Are you in Finland, too?

        A Brazilian Rainbow boa escaped from its terrarium at Korkeasaari zoo in Helsinki in July. It hasn’t been found yet, although the snake’s probably hiding somewhere in the reptile house sewers.

        1. I take tea*

          I’m in Finland, yes. This was the one I was thinking of, but I didn’t have the time and energy to check the type of snake. I keep thinking “Brazzzzil, here I come”.

  9. Need a new bag*

    Recommendations please! I need a purse that is fairly lightweight but also big enough to hold one or two paper file folders and their contents and/or an iPad as well as normal purse items. It needs to have over-the-body straps. Not an enormous bag, but big enough. (I realize this is very subjective.)

    It needs to have a zipper closure for the main compartment and at least one decent-sized zipper-closed outside compartment, and one smaller compartment within the main bag, but otherwise unstructured inside.

    Aesthetically, I’d hope for no designer logos and no decorative bling. I prefer black purses that go with everything but that’s a lower-level priority.

    Hoping for help finding this, or at least narrowing down the possibilities, as it is overwhelming to pore over everything that comes up in a “big purse” search to check for my must-haves and deal-breakers. (Details, website design people, I need product details!! Not just images of models jauntily carrying these bags!)

      1. Need a new bag*

        That’s a nice traveling bag, but it has shoulder straps that don’t appear to convert into one long cross-body strap. I need that hands-free, cross-body option. A shoulder bag always wants to slide off me, and I would need to keep re-positioning it, and I want to avoid that.

        I would also prefer a bag that could stand up/not fall on the floor if I set it down, and this bag appears to be too slim to do that.

        1. numptea*

          I see, I misunderstood your phrasing to mean that you wanted the straps over both sides of the bag body, rather than over your human body.

    1. Anonomatopoeia*

      Your search sounds like the exact alsdjfkhakjsdlfhasdjklf WHY I had maybe 18 months ago. I do not know why it is impossible to find functional, non-atrocious crossbody bags that are between 7×9 and 31×27 or something, and also have real interior spaces but also some smaller zippy/snappy/whatever ones.

      That said, I eventually found one that is this brand https://www.multisachandbags.com/collections/crossbody-bags which is fairly similar to the lorraine one shown there. It is a little bit smaller than I wish — my small work laptop can go all the way in if I empty everything about and put back in around said laptop?, but it isn’t really big enough for a file folder not to end up crumply on the sides. I previously had one that, when I looked, turned out to have also been that brand which was maybe 12×13 and was perfect, but it only served well for, you know, 8 or 9 years. Neither of mine have been all that blingy, just ordinary leathery and metallic edging.

      Anyway, that site does seem to show dimensions and a fairly good interior picture, so that’s something. And at least a couple of the shoulder bags also have a strap conversion.

      Also, I don’t know about you, but my online search last year was somewhat upsetting, because when I tried to filter for like, has zippered exterior pockets, about 80% of what I got back was a vertical zipper *so you can carry your gun in it* which, umhellno. This is a thing? This is a COMMON thing? WTF.

      Good luck! I must have looked intermittently for like 8 or 10 months before I found a bag I thought would be at least fairly tolerable. Gah.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      I buy my masks from an online store called Caraa. They also have lots of bags. There might be a good chance you’d find one you like.

    3. WorkHandbagComment*

      I’ve been undertaking a similar search. A few things I’ve found helpful: (1) The “usual” purse contents vary widely. Figuring out the rough volume (e.g. cubic inches) of a purse that has what’s usual for you can help to determine a baseline. (2) The ability to search by feature or size is really limited, so I resorted to a spreadsheet with dimensions (helps to calculate volume easily for comparison), key attributes (e.g., zipper closure), and cost on a given date (to see patterns in pricing/sales more easily). (3) Tote organizers exist, cobblers can add holes to straps, and brass feet can be added post-purchase (thank you to the Handbags subreddit). (4) Allow for additional length/width needed to accommodate curved/angled sides and the reality that zipper openings do not extend the entire width of a bag. (5) Black bags never seem to get the low sale prices that “fun” colors do. (6) YouTube “what’s in my bag” videos can be helpful in getting a better sense of what fits inside.
      Coach’s Tate 38 carryall is working for me, but is no longer stocked. Dooney and Bourke doesn’t seem to really make divided bags, but if a bag organizer works for you, they certainly carry large, zippered crossbody totes with the little brass feet for stability. Some Coach items that might work for you include the following:
      https://www.coachoutlet.com/products/nina-tote/CL398.html?frp=CL398%20SVDTV

      https://www.coach.com/products/carter-carryall/CH805.html?frp=CH805%20B4%2FBK

      https://www.coach.com/products/brooke-carryall/CE730.html?frp=CE730%20V5V2R

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Have a look at the Hedgren brand – they are lightweight and strong. Worth checking eBay when you see a style you like. You can throw them in the washing machine too if they get dirty!

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Honestly, unless it’s logistically prohibitive, hie thee to the nearest mall and go to the department stores’ purse section. This sort of thing is SO much easier to pick out in person. Size and weight and pocket capacity just don’t communicate properly over the internet, even if the seller gives the stats, which of course they probably don’t. I’d head to Dillards and Nordstrom first, if your mall has them.

    6. Kt*

      I have a Marimekko Ratia bag that’s close to your requirements (zippers, unstructured, crossbody) but it does have a “logo”.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I have a Kate Spade tote that meets all your requirements except for the cross-body strap. I like their website because they have a “what fits in the bag feature” so you can tell exactly what works. When I was looking for a new bag for travel I measured the ones I had so I knew what dimensions I needed.

      I like a cross-body bag. The ones I have won’t hold my iPad or a letter-sized file folder, though. For that I either use an over-the-shoulder tote if I don’t have to carry it far or a backpack-style bag.

    8. Nihil Scio*

      Roots Canada makes the best cross-body leather bags. They are well made, sturdy (but not heavy), accommodate files, have great zippered pouches, and last forever

    9. Kel*

      What you wrote reminds me of my Kipling crossbody bag, but unfortunately I’ve had it for so many years I don’t remember the name!

      I’ll try and find it and come back, but I’d definitely recommend them in general – robust, don’t look too designer, the one I have has a clipped strap so I can use it as a shoulder bag, crossbody, or even loop that strap through the handles and turn it into a backpack! It’s been my personal item on multiple international trips and still looks really decent.

    10. Sj*

      Baggallini hobo bag might work— lightweight, large, adjustable crossbody strap. Downside is it’s a bit frumpy.

    11. Anon-E-Mouse*

      I adore my Timbuk2 Vapor Convertible Tote. It converts easily from a shoulder bag to a backpack. It’s very lightweight and sleek, longer than it is tall, which makes it great for commuting by public transit. I often use it as a shoulder bag on public transit, then switch to the backpack straps for my walk home. It has a laptop sleeve, a small interior zip pocket, a well-organized exterior zip pocket with a clip lanyard for my earbuds, and a few other useful organizing pockets. I also love the storm blue-grey colour.

      Cons: (1) Not cheap. (2) Shoulder straps have no padding (but backpack straps have light padding). (3) The interior zip pocket is a bit s me small. (4) Some people might find the bag not roomy enough, but I like the fact that I can’t pack the kitchen sink into it.

      https://timbuk2.ca/collections/work-backpacks/products/1165-vapor-convertible-tote-backpack

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      Not a bag, per se, but if you find a bag you really like that needs a crossbody strap, Mautto dot com might be able to help you. I’ve bought leather and nylon straps from them and I think they also do custom orders. They use high quality materials for straps and hardware.

    13. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I love Baggallini for this! I have a giant one that use as an overnight travel bag, and a medium large one that fits a couple laptops and notebooks and everything else I need. They’re both black with tons of pockets and zippers and snaps.

    14. Imtheone*

      I bought my daughter one of these. The colors on offer vary from time to time. It converts from a backpack to a cross body bag.

      CYUREAY Women’s Convertible Daypack Laptop Backpack, Computer Backpack Work Backpack with USB Charging Port

  10. Filosofickle*

    I read a book recently a woman who visits a library that holds every life she could have lived based on her choices — her multiverse. She made several large, life-altering decisions that she wonders about, and those decisions haunt her. She can’t go back in time, but she can visit any one of those lives in the current day and see what her life would look like today. Which she does, to varying outcomes.

    I often feel regret in life…but maybe it’s more melancholy for a life that doesn’t exist? Because when I think about it, there aren’t a lot of specific moments I could undo (that I would undo) that would significantly affect my life. The three big ones would be what college I attended, deciding not to study abroad, and the city I moved to after college. That last one is probably the life I’d be most curious to visit.

    So a question for the crowd: If you could change or undo a moment in your past, what would that be? Or, if you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself at 20 to influence your trajectory?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know that I would change anything! If I hadn’t married my first ex, I wouldn’t have met the friends that influenced my move to Seattle, where I met two of my best friends and my second ex and got into my career path by accident. The second ex literally introduced me to my current husband and the group of friends that influenced my move from Seattle to Indy. Even the little things, I can’t think of anything that’s both significant enough that it stands out and minor enough that it wouldn’t have potentially changed something in my life today.

      I know – if I go back to see myself when I’m 20, I’m giving myself a set of winning numbers for a bajillion-dollar lottery in late 2023. That way, it won’t change anything up to this point, but I know myself well enough to know that I’d have put it somewhere safe and also memorized it, and would totally play the right numbers on the right game just in case :)

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

        I’m not so sure I’d change much either. Like any change would change *so much* else that my life would be unrecognizable, probably.

        My life in middle age certainly isn’t what I thought it would be, and I am sometimes melancholy about the fact that I don’t have a partner or kids. However, I don’t think staying with the people I was dating before would have led to happiness either, lovely though some of them are. I’m very close friends with my nice exes and no contact with my not-so-awesome exes, and that works pretty well for me.

        I guess if I’d known about the covid pandemic in advance, I might have put up with living in the suburbs for less exposure instead of in the city, where my apartment building gave me covid during Omicron. But I basically love living in the city and don’t love living in the suburbs, so I’m not sure I’d be happier overall.

      2. Panicked*

        Most of the things that I would change (hello 1st husband) led directly to things I wouldn’t change (current life with a fantastic husband and wonderful daughter). But man, I’d go back in time and slap those student loan papers right out of my own hands if I could!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          My husband and grown children were absolute rocks during my cancer trudge. I wouldn’t go back to change anything that led to having them in my life.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I don’t know; I’d prefer the setup in the story where you can see what would have been different. I do wonder what would have happened if I’d gone to another school, did another major, moved to another city, married someone else…

      I don’t necessarily regret any of those choices, at all, but it is so tempting to find out what might have been…

      Also, on a related note; I’m adopted, and really wonder what would have happened if other people, not my parents, had adopted me. I’d have another name, different siblings, a whole other life. How much of what I think of as “intrinsically me” is only based on the whims of where I ended up?

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        We adopted our daughter and I know she wonders about the same things. I can’t imagine my life without her and so I wouldn’t change of the decisions that brought her to us, even though some of those choices caused me great pain in other ways.

    3. Goldfeesh*

      For a minor thing/decision- kept up on smoking weed the 10 years after I left college. I think I would have been easier to get along with in general, I would have been less worried about the small stuff. Granted, it would have been harder getting jobs, I might have had to woman up and fake the few drug tests I had to take.

      Or, when my husband and I started a business some years back, I should have taken a part-time job (at minimum) to help support us. The business ultimately failed, it likely would have still failed, but a lot of stress would have been taken off my husband.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’d go back to myself at 18, and tell her to pick the university subject she felt really passionate about, instead of the “sensible” course that guaranteed a job.

      I’m now on a generalist career path in tech that many people pursue as if it was a vocation. Money is ok, but I feel stuck and unhappy because the job seems to call for an entrepreneurial go-getting person I’m definitely not. The “passion” path (based on a skill I have and take a lot of pride in, but never trained formally in) would have been riskier and less financially rewarding. But on my worst days, not knowing whether it could have worked out after all really does a number on my sense of self.

    5. AGD*

      I regret that I did study abroad! It was so easy to arrange, but I leaped before I looked. More critical thinking would have made it obvious that I was making a mistake. Already knew that hot humid tropical weather makes me miserable and lethargic and unable to get up from the couch. What was I thinking? Answer: I wasn’t.

      1. Filosofickle*

        That one’s a wish more than a regret… I didn’t go because I couldn’t afford it! Would I go back and tell College Me to take on 25K in debt to do that? No. Being debt free out of college was an incredible advantage. But I wish I’d been able have that experience, and still hope to do an extended stint in another country someday.

        1. AGD*

          That’s 100% fair. I was very reckless in running up my debt bill for that experience because I thought it was my only chance to See the World, and/or that employers would be impressed by my initiative (lol). I didn’t pay off my student loans until my mid-thirties.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Health:
      • Here are the treatments that you will learn–years from now–actually help with those muscle problems.
      • You thought you got a mammogram in the chaos of fall of ’18, but you are wrong. Get that mammogram. (If I wound up needing the same level of invasive treatment, it would at least not have run into the pandemic if I had started a year earlier. No covid-induced delays for reconstructive surgery; the cancer center would be in person.)

      There’s a book called Recursion in which people move back to a memory and do life again from that point. While it’s a minor element, often our protagonists have that “Hey, my knee doesn’t hurt!” type of revelation that causes them to be more on top of their health and fitness on a redo. That resonated with me a lot.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I would have taken iron and Vitamin D a *lot* sooner than I did in my life (omits long, boring reasons).

    7. Butternut*

      Not a specific moment, but if I had known that my mom would be dead before I turned 31 I would have put more time and effort into deepening our relationship earlier. It’s not exactly a regret, since I know I was doing my best and you can’t exactly make decisions like everyone around you is about to die, but our relationship developed and deepened and got much closer after she got sick and I wish I could have had that for longer and gotten to see how it developed past the few months from when she got sick to when she died.

      Apologies for being kind of a downer, but this is the main thing I wish was different in my life.

    8. Salted caramel*

      Oh, the Midnight Library. I was almost disappointed with the ending.

      For me, I wouldn’t really change a certain moment, but my attitude towards things, if that makes sense? I had some pretty unpleasant things happen to me, but the way I dealt (or didn’t) with them made everything much worse. Ironically, I think I would’ve ended up exactly where I am now, but the process wouldn’t have been so slow and painful – and my student debt would’ve been smaller!

    9. A fool for a pretty name*

      This is mid-20s, but… don’t take the job. I was desperate to quit my old job during the pandemic that I jumped to the first place that offered. We had to put our condo up for rent and move across the city (otherwise hour and a half commute each way with being disciplined for being late). I thought it was a stepping stone to a new career. It was miserable, the whole place was a dead end, and we wasted so much money moving and then moving back when I found a new job down the street from where we used to live!!

    10. Daughter of an alcoholic*

      I wish I had been less confrontational about my mom’s alcoholism and had approached her with more compassion and understanding that she was a hurt person who was suffering. But it’s easy to see that now that I’m in my 50s. It probably would have been impossible to have that level of understanding when I was 17. But if we are wishing for impossible things, that’s what i would wish for.

      I would also wish that I’d handled her later medical problems differently and not let so much time slide before intervening. And I definitely wish I had not relied so much on my dad to give an accurate picture of what was going on.

    11. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      I’d like to know the name of that book, sounds like something I’d enjoy.

      I sort of lived this scenario in real life recently.
      After graduating a local college, I moved out of state for my dream job. I retired 35 years later and moved back to my hometown. As I’ve been re-acclimating to the area, I’ve seen what my life would have been like if I never moved away. I’m happy to be near family and was familiar with all the pluses/minuses of the area, so no surprises. But I realized that I’m really glad I made the move. I loved my job and life I built and still made frequent trips ‘home’ but sometimes felt guilty I was not here for the day to day. That decision was the right move which set me on a path I wanted and I’m glad I made it.

      Advice for my later 20 something self, I’d tell her to try for the job that a mentor had recommend I apply for. It would have been another move and big change but I was worried I didn’t have the skills and couldn’t adapt and would be a big failure. (As it happens the man that took it didn’t have the skills, but he did just fine)

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        It sounds like “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. Really good book that I happened to read at exactly the time I needed it, but trigger warnings for attempted suicide, suicidal ideation/depression, and (if I remember right) a drug overdose. Oh, and a pet death!

        Hopefully OP will correct me if that’s not the right book but it’s along a similar vein either way! Part of me has been debating figuring out a tattoo that relates to the book so I can always keep its message with me as a reminder, but so far I’ve been too chicken to do it lol.

    12. PhyllisB*

      What’s the name of the book? Do you remember? I love reading stories like that. Jude Devereaux wrote a series a number of years ago about three women who meet a woman who offers them a chance to live a different life for (I think) two weeks. At the end of this time they can choose to continue with the new life and remember the old one, live the new life and forget the old one, or continue their life as is. It was intriguing to think about what choices I would make if I had that option.
      The first book in the series is Summer House.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Noting: I really liked this book (The Midnight Library) and feel it was about having a shift in mindset to see the possibilities around you. That this was more important than the specific possibilities. And that often it is easier to see those many options looking backward, while people can sit in their present circumstance and insist nothing now could change. (Even though, asked in 10 or 20 years, they would likely see that they could have changed back then. But now it truly is too late, etc.)

      See a ton of letters from people in awful jobs who have a list of 47 reasons that they could not possibly look for a different job.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes it was useful for me as a prompt to think about my life — the nature of regret and the happiness. Because if there aren’t specific points in time that I’d want to “undo” even if I could, what has kept me from feeling happier in life? What is it that feels missing? Stuff to mull over!

    14. numptea*

      I would go back to infancy and change literally everything. 20 years old is not young enough; I’d already be entrenched in several major mistakes.

    15. Irish Teacher.*

      Honestly, I don’t think I’d change anything. I’m very happy with my life.

      OH! One thing. If I could erase that stupid cancer scare two years ago, I would. It turned out to be absolutely nothing, just a few coincidences, probably exacerbated by the stress of the whole thing, but our health service was hacked just around that time which led to delays so I had to wait two months to have it ruled out and in that time, it managed to overshadow my getting permanancy in my job and my best friend having her first child.

      So I guess I’d tell my 20 year old self, “you will not get cancer at 40. Ignore and enjoy your summer.”

    16. My Brain is Exploding*

      I would be afraid to change much because I like my life as it is now. I would perhaps have not dated a few guys (like one or two dates each). I would have tried to be kinder to people. I would have educated myself more on things like racial issues. I would have done more movement/stretching (I did athletic things but would have started yoga earlier and just followed some of Katy Bowman’s teachings even though she wasn’t around when I was younger).

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Oh my gosh, the stretching. So much yes. And to slow down and let myself heal from injuries. If I could have anticipated the amount of pain I’d be in now from accumulated injuries, I would have spent many more days icing and elevating while reading dumb romance novels on the couch

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh yes. If I knew as a kid/teen that all that damage I “walked off” was merely biding its time…

    17. ThatGirl*

      I got fired from my second-ever adult job in 2007. It was preventable, and mostly happened due to me not handling life stress very well. If I could re-do that year with my head on straighter, I do wonder what my career path would be now. But it didn’t ruin my life or anything – it took a bit to find a new job but the one I found was a good place to work and I stayed there 9 years.

      What I would tell my 20 year old self is to start and stick with an exercise routine, and find things I like doing, because it’s good for my mental and physical health. And also to try kissing a few girls instead of that one guy.

    18. Anon for this one*

      I’d tell myself at 20 to buy stock in Google. :p. More recently, I’d tell myself not to put off the mammogram until the end of COVID. I don’t know if they’d have caught the lump earlier but not knowing haunts me.

    19. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      This one’s gonna be a bit deep and there probably should be a TW for the implication of grievous self-harm, so read on at your own risk.

      At one point when my sister and I were toddlers, my mother made the entirely justifiable decision to leave my father. She’d gone so far as to empty the bank account, pack us up in the car, and was on the way to my grandparents. Somewhere along the way she got cold feet, turned around, and condemned us to hell for the next decade.

      I would very much like to be able to jump back fifty years into my own skull for just ten minutes, tell my mother to keep going, and look meaningfully at my sister to tell her how very much we all missed her down the road. Just enough to get the penny to drop and keep Ma’s foot on the accelerator.

      (NB: My sister is very much alive and well; but honestly I would have no compunction lying through my teeth on that one occasion just to change everything.)

  11. The Android Memo app*

    I use the Memo app on my Samsung phone, and now that I’m looking to buy a new phone, I wonder how to move its contents to a new phone. It’s not a Google or Samsung app, just one that I downloaded a few years ago and use a lot for my personal life.

    It lets you create named sections; I’ve named 7 sections that I use for different kinds of lists. The only formatting feature is that intentional new lines default to starting with a capital letter. It’s extremely useful to me and I don’t want to have to recreate it manually on a new phone.

    Is there a way to copy each section and paste it into an email to myself? Or some other way to export the contents as separate units and import them to a new phone? It would not be worth doing to only be able to export it as one continuous data stream.

    1. ThatGirl*

      If the app is password protected and the data is backed up to the cloud you might be able to just re-download it. Worth checking?

    2. don'tbeadork*

      All my apps transferred over from the old phone to the new one when I got a new phone in February, but I went from android to android. I don’t recall that I lost order on anything I’d sorted, but I have a mind like a sieve and I might have.

    3. David*

      In general it depends on the app and on how technically inclined you are. Like other people are saying, some of the more popular apps can automatically have their data backed up to the cloud, but not every app supports that. For the apps that don’t, it’s often possible to move the data from one phone to another by transferring files directly, but it takes quite a bit of poking around in the phone to find the right files, and that could be very difficult and frustrating if you don’t have some intuition about how apps tend to store their data (which is where the “technically inclined” part comes in).

      I checked the Play store and didn’t find an app called “Memo”, so I’m not sure which one you mean, but if you can identify which app it is, you might be able to get more useful advice.

      Assuming you’re not technically inclined, it might turn out that the best way for you to get your data from one phone to the other will be to either take it to a trustworthy local phone service shop that can help you with this sort of thing, or “bribe” a techy friend to do it for you. We take cookies :-p

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      You could try copying everything over into the Google Notes app, which should be available on both your old and new Android phones. Google Notes is also accessible via desktop if you want to copy/paste from email as an additional backup step.

    5. The Android Memo app*

      So I went back and poked around in this app, and this time I noticed a tiny “select all” option (they’re all tiny), so I did that and managed to copy that list into my gmail, though I’m not quite sure how I did it — hopefully it was, um, intuitive. (A word I detest in the techie arena as I am not a super-techie and very little is actually intuitive.)

      It’s a wonderful thing how asking the question on this thread somehow triggered my spotting that option in the app when I had not been able to before.

  12. 70/30 sinks*

    Does anyone have a 70/30 sink, and if so, have you bought a new faucet within the past few years? What shape is it?

    Our faucet needs replacing, and it’s a straight spout that twists at the base, centered on the 30% sink. Most options in DIY stores these days are gooseneck, and I suspect the inability to turn will make them not reach far enough to cover the entire 70% sink (measuring isn’t really giving me a full picture, I’m very visual). Most of them offer a pull-down spout tip in lieu of full twisting. I suspect I won’t like that substitution because it won’t work hands-free.

    Thoughts?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think my sink is similar to what you’re describing, I have an Ikea “HILLESJÖN 1 1/2 bowl dual mount sink” so it’s probably more of a 80/20 but close I think? I have a gooseneck faucet, mounted directly behind the divider between the two bowls, but with a pull-down sprayer at the end of the faucet so that if I need water in the far end of the big sink bowl, I can reach it over there. (I also have a separate small cold-water-only tap at the opposite back corner of the big bowl that has a water filter on its line.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, derp – I’m sorry, I missed that you talked about the pull-down spout not working for you! (That said, my gooseneck faucet does turn back and forth between the two bowls.)

    2. Squidhead*

      If your faucet is centered on the smaller bowl, it’s placed at about the 15% mark? That seems unusual to me based on the images of currently-marketed 70/30 sinks. Not saying you’re wrong, I’m just not finding a lot of sinks like that! I’m seeing plenty where the faucet is mounted at the divider, or just past the divider (maybe the 40% mark?). Anyway, it makes me wonder if there are any other mounting holes in your sink that you could use? You might need to crawl into the cupboard to look if it’s an undermount sink. If there *are* more holes, you’d have to decide whether you can access them (what’s the counter top made of?) and what to do with the old hole (soap dispenser?).

      If there really aren’t any other usable holes I’d suggest that most of the U-bend style faucets I see designed for these sinks have a compact “resting” position that makes it impossible to swivel the faucet away from the bowl and run water all over your countertop. That’s probably a good thing but I think you *could* buy a faucet with a long arch instead (whatever kind you like that fits in the hole) and then just vow never to swivel it over the counter. In that case, you’d want one where the distance between base (hole) and nozzle is a couple inches shorter than the right-angle distance between the base (hole) and the front inner wall of the basin, so you don’t run or overspray water directly onto the floor. For (nearly) hands-free use, I think that would get you the longest arc of coverage to the larger bowl as long as you can swivel.

      I had some luck by searching “long necked single hole kitchen faucet” which also showed me a Moen faucet with a Z-fold arm as a thing I had not thought of.

      Final thought: if you love your current setup, can your faucet be repaired?

      1. 70/30 sinks*

        I would not be surprised that it’s in a dumb uncommon spot. This house was custom-built in the 1980s by an internet entrepreneur and he made a lot of strange choices. Crawling underneath with a flashlight is a good idea.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I work for a sink company. Every unequal bowl split sink I’ve seen has the faucet in the middle still, so that’s really weird to me. Look up the EFRU321910T as an example. Is yours a drop in or under mount? Does it have an escutcheon? Might be worth seeing if there are other holes you could use or have drilled.

    4. Generic Name*

      I have this sink setup (I hate it, by the way), and I have a gooseneck faucet. The faucet swivels to reach either side of the sink. It has the pull out spray attachment (which I love).

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fow what it’s worth, my gooseneck turns and also has a pulldown.

      I have other reasons tohate it — having the handle on the side means I can’t wash my hands & turn off the tap without water dripping down behind the faucet. One unnecessary cleanup task!

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have a gooseneck faucet with a separate hose. I use the hose to reach where the faucet won’t reach. So, if you’re looking at the sink with no faucet installed, I have 3 holes. Put the faucet in and each hole has a piece (hose, faucet, handle). I don’t care for the pull down hoses, thus didn’t get one. I bought the faucet about 6 years ago but I’d be shocked if they didn’t have similar ones.

  13. Album Recs*

    I’m in a music rut, and I’m in a phase where I’d like to listen to more albums, fewer playlists. What’s one album you love and listen to often? Any genre, any time period, any mood, just something you love listening to and enjoy sharing with others.

    1. Jelly*

      “Tea for the Tillerman” – Cat Stevens. No question.

      2nd place: “Frampton Comes Alive” – Peter Frampton

    2. Patina*

      Lately I’ve been listening to The Hu’s album Rumble of Thunder pretty much on repeat. They’re a Mongolian folk metal band and pretty far outside what I usually listen to, but I can’t get enough!

    3. Hope*

      Keep it Together by Guster is an album I appreciate a lot and listened to in album format a lot when I had an old car with no Bluetooth or auxiliary cord so it was straight CDs. Great storytelling

      1. Pianogirl*

        I love that album! I am currently going through cancer treatment, and my sister bought me a shirt that reads, “Be calm, be brave, it’ll be okay” from Come Downstairs and Say Hello.

    4. BayouBoogaloo*

      Led Zeppelin “sticks”, the album cover is an old man hunched over with a load of sticks on his back; Metallica’s Black album; any Chris Tomlin.

    5. Jay*

      -Signed and Sealed in Blood by The Dropkick Murphys.
      -Creedence Clearwater Revival: Chronicle, Volumes 1 and 2.
      -Metallica: The Black Album.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t listen to albums much anymore, I just shuffle my whole music library, but in times past – Mer de Noms (A Perfect Circle) and Godsmack (as in their first eponymous album).

    7. numptea*

      “Keep it Like a Secret” by Built to Spill
      “Marquee Moon” by Television
      “The Secret Like Crazy” by Algebra Suicide

    8. Me (I think)*

      Joni Mitchell, Blue
      Guy Clark, any album really, but Old No. 1, Dublin Blues, and My Favorite Picture of You are especially good.

    9. SarahKay*

      The Civil Wars by the Civil Wars – fantastic melodies and lyrics; just a very beautiful sound.
      Out of Mind by Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate. I discovered this after reading Ann Leckies’s blog, where she mentioned that they’d done a song (I Was A Ship) based on her Ancillary series, and have become a big fan of their work. I think they get classed as Prog Rock, and for this album most of their songs are based on different works of fiction.

      1. Clara Bowe*

        +1 The Civil Wars’ self-titled. The harmonies on the first are a bit stronger, but woof, that is an emotional barn burner of an album.

    10. Squidhead*

      An incomplete list!
      Lucius: Wildewoman
      The National: High Violet
      Michael Franti and Spearhead: Yell Fire!
      Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: self-titled, 2010
      Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      I love soundtrack albums! O Brother Where Art Thou and others, everything from that 90s Great Expectations with Gwnyeth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke, Monsoon Wedding…

    12. ThatGirl*

      It’s a little out there but I love Spiritual Machines by Our Lady Peace.

      Others:
      Screen Violence, CHVRCHES
      Fever Dream, Of Monsters and Men

    13. The Dude Abides*

      Songs from the Big Chair, Raoul & the Kings of Spain – Tears for Fears
      Most Known Unknowns – Three 6 Mafia

    14. Middle Aged Lady*

      Moody Blues, Days of Future Past
      Elvis Costello Almost Blue
      Crosby Stills Nash admnd Young So Far
      Patty Smith Horses
      UB40 Labour of Love
      Yes, I am stuck in the past!

        1. Rosyglasses*

          Yes! I think there is a concert happening next month here in Portland with live music set to his film.

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

      Billie Holliday’s Verve *Body and Soul* album, featuring Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet. It is stunningly beautiful. When I first heard the trumpet solo on “Darn That Dream,” it was so lovely that I cried, and I’m not a big crier at beauty.

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

      Carole King’s *Tapestry* too. “So Far Away” also made me cry when I was far away from someone I missed.

    17. parsley*

      Das Partiturbuch.
      Typing that into youtube gave me the correct album, but the rest of the title is: Instrumental Music at the Courts of 17Th Century Germany
      Especially the very last piece:
      Ciaconna in A Major by Nathanael Schnittelbach. It starts so slow and gentle, with the energy building and building.

      1. anyjennywaynest*

        Oh thanks for this note. I need (probaby don’t really need) more ciaconna in my spreadsheet of baroque and beyond things to listen to!

        1. parsley*

          I find the Schnittelbach absolutely astounding. I’d love to hear what you think. And, one always needs more ciaconnas in one’s life.

          1. anyjennywaynest*

            I admit I typically prefer the more “toe-tapping” renditions (for example, the Ciaconna at the beginning of the ‘Ohrwurm’ selection performed by Tabea Debus, Elizabeth Kenny, Reiko Ichise on the Stapleford Granary youtube site). However, this one really grew on me in the second listening. Yes, always need more ciaconnas, (and tamborins). Happy listening!

    18. Yikes Stripes*

      Oh, there’s no way I can limit this to one album – I still have a ton of CDs and records and will put them on and let them go.

      Emmylou Harris – Red Dirt Girl, Wrecking Ball, & the Ballad of Sally Rose
      Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes
      the Mountain Goats – the Sunset Tree
      Explosions in the Sky – The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, Friday Night Lights soundtrack, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (I basically love their entire discography)
      Poe – Haunted
      Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska, the River
      My Chemical Romance – the Black Parade
      Alanis Morrisette – Jagged Little Pill
      Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
      Philip Glass – Solo Piano
      Whiskeytown – Stranger’s Almanac
      Passenger – All the Little Lights
      Niall Horan – Heartbreak Weather
      Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park & Pageant Material
      Imogen Heap – Speak for Yourself
      Vienna Teng – Waking Hour & Warm Strangers

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          It really is, isn’t it? I’ve been lucky enough to see them live multiple times, and the last time they did Dance Music in addition to Up the Wolves and This Year (which is the most perfect and essential song in my entire life) and it was just so good.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Tori Amos AND Poe? Let’s be best friends!

        Forgot to add, all of Nick Cave’s work, especially The Boatman’s Call and Murder Ballads. Straight to You is one of my favorite love songs of all time. He really nails “yearning.”

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          Okay, yeah, your taste is *chef kiss*

          and I think what happened to Poe is frankly tragic. She’s so talented and that album is *so* damn good.

        2. mreasy*

          Saw him in conversation with Sean O Hagen (who he co-wrote the book with) and he talks about how yearning and loss are to him the human condition… which absolutely makes sense given his work.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I have a CD of him doing a lecture about the Old Testament (kind of a proto TED Talk) and it’s fascinating! (Nick Cave, that is.)

      2. vulturestalker*

        Omg the Vienna Teng callout makes me so happy! She’s one of my favorite artists and not well enough known IMO.

    19. WoodswomanWrites*

      So so many! This is just what comes to mind in the moment.

      Carole King and James Taylor Live at the Troubadour
      Motown greatest hits collections, which I absolutely have to get up and dance to
      Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
      Peter Gabriel’s Passion, all instrumental and created as the soundtrack for the film the Last Temptation of Christ
      Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi, They’re Calling Me Home
      Carolina Chocolate Drops, Genuine Negro Jig, great stringband and singing
      Laurie Lewis if you like bluegrass and singer-songwriter tunes
      Ella Fitzgerald singing Gershwin tunes
      Joni Mitchell albums from her early work through Hejira
      Beatles, Revolver

    20. Saddesklunch*

      Waxahatchee – St. Cloud (I usually listen to St. Cloud + 3)

      Lucinda Williams – Essence

      Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

      The Mountain Goats – The Life of the World to Come and also The Sunset Tree

      Janelle Monae – The Age of Pleasure and also Dirty Computer

      Fetch the Bolt Cutters – Fiona Apple

      Emotions and Math – Margaret Glaspy

      I could keep going, but those are off the top of my head.

    21. Seashell*

      The aforementioned Blue by Joni Mitchell was my first thought.

      Summerteeth – Wilco
      Gonna Take a Miracle – Laura Nyro
      Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh yes, and
        Beatles-Revolver, Help and the White Album
        Carly Simon – Playing Possum
        Patty Griffin-Flaming Red

    22. Lemonwhirl*

      Pillow Queens – In Waiting

      They’re an amazing Dublin band that consists of four women and their music is incredibly textured – sort of grunge-inspired but with an Irish twist.

    23. mreasy*

      Some of my all time faves:
      Television / Marquee Moon
      The Silver Jews / American Water
      Sharon Van Etten / Tramp
      Dorthy Ashby / Dorothy’s Harp
      Alice Coltrane / Journey to Satchinanda
      Tyler Childers / Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven and Long Violent History
      Nick Cave / Carnage (basically all Nick Cave if we’re being honest, Let Love In is a good place to start w him)
      Lauryn Hill / the Miseducation
      Destroyer / Rubies

      1. mreasy*

        Aretha Franklin / Young, Gifted and Black – how could I forget?
        Also the Eccentric Soul series of compilations by the Numero Group label is phenomenal.

        1. mreasy*

          Okay okay also:
          Four Tet / Rounds and/or There is Love in You
          The Killers / Imploding the Mirage and/or Pressure Machine (also Sam’s Town or just listen to their top hits as they’re pretty accurately ranked as their best songs lol)
          Cornershop / When I was Born For the 7th Time

          Am holding back on jazz & hip-hop recos as those would be a whole novel

    24. vulturestalker*

      Bocanada, by Gustavo Cerati
      Dummy, by Portishead
      In Rainbows, by Radiohead
      Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, by Caroline Polachek

      That’s kind of a weird mix, but maybe you’ll like one/some!

    25. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I’m definitely a classic rock guy, but in recent years I have been trying to find newer music. One group my wife and I really like is Larkin Poe. I think all of their music is good, but I think their newest album “Blood Harmony” is really great. I listen to it a lot.

    26. Saturday morning*

      I’ve been revisiting Lemonade by Beyonce. it’s one of those albums that to me really has a narrative and emotional arc; I feel better by the end.

      Janelle Monae also puts out very coherent albums. Maybe I’m in a nostalgic mood, or something; right now The Archandroid is on my mind. (Well, I just did a lot of writing and thinking about artificial intelligence, robotics, human imagination, politics, and justice, so the Archandroid and Dirty Computer are on topic.)

    27. Helvetica*

      Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” – the perfect jazz album.
      Fleetwood Mac “Dreams” – I recently properly discovered Fleetwood Mac, and that album is perfect, especially if you know the personal backstories.

    28. GoryDetails*

      Some of my favorites are soundtracks, including:

      Jane Eyre (Broadway cast) – the lyrics are mostly from the text, and the songs range from powerful to poignant – with some comedy in the middle, and a gorgeous, touching finale.

      Johnny Guitar: The Musical (yes, a musical based on the rather grim, definitely over-the-top 1954 film; it’s funny and poignant and a really fun listen, and I wish somebody would stage the show again – saw it in Boston years ago and would love to see it once more)

      Little Shop of Horrors: I adore the whole thing, but especially “Skid Row”!

      The Greatest Showman: I do prefer watching this one – the aerial romance of “Rewrite the Stars” is lovely, and the dancing in the bar for “From Now On” always delights me. But it’s fun to listen to as well.

      Sweeney Todd: because, seriously, Sweeney Todd!

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re Sweeney Todd – the original Broadway cast album with Cariou and Lansbury (who I got to see perform on stage, awesome!). The music holds up well with other performers, though I admit I didn’t care for the film adaptation.

          I would LOVE to see Josh Groban, though I gather he’s wrapping up his tour in January and I don’t know if I’d be able to score seats before then…

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

        Ooh, Soundtracks!

        *Shaft*
        *Merrily We Roll Along*
        *How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying*

    29. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      I just realized that I mostly listen to albums.

      One Wild Night – Bon Jovi
      Born to Run – Springsteen
      Scarecrow – Mellencamp
      Bat out of Hell – Meatloaf
      Hell Freezes Over – The Eagles
      Tapestry – Carole King
      Vol. I & II – Credence Clearwater Revival

      and from this century…

      Hamilton – the musical
      21 – Adele
      Passionne – Andrea Bocchelli

    30. Elle Woods*

      “Seen a Ghost” by The Honeydogs and “By The Way, I Forgive You” by Brandi Carlile have been in heavy rotation at my place lately. No particular reason other than I love the albums.

    31. *daha**

      Santan – Moonflower. This is a concert album. One issue with the streaming version is there are pauses in the transitions between songs that were continuous on the LP.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Wow, how could I forget Graceland? It’s an all-time favorite both for dancing and for long-distance driving.

    32. OyHiOh*

      Original Broadway Cast soundtracks to Come From Away and Once On This Island. They are magical. Yes, musicals, no, not what most people think of as “show tunes.”

    33. Anon-E-Mouse*

      A few Canadian Indigenous artists to consider:

      Aysanabee’s debut album Watin
      William Prince, Stand in the Joy (although my favorite song is Breathless, from an earlier album)
      Celeigh Cardinal, Songs from a Downtown Apartment
      Julian Taylor, Beyond the Reservoir and The Ridge

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yes! And Gord’s Gold as well. (I just love Gordon Lightfoot). NOT indigenous, however, but certainly solidly Canadian

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

        I love that song “Right Hand Man” — I heard that and thought: THAT one’s going right in the Great American Songbook.

    34. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Here’s a new one my teenager has on order: “Dawn to Dusk” by The Rose. South Korean but soft rock not kpop. I’ve had days where I have played “Back to Me” on endless repeat.

      Classic musical soundtracks are another favorite– the 1980s “Barnum” with Jim Dale & Glenn Close is in my car right now

    35. Also cute and fluffy!*

      “Derek Miller With Double Trouble” by Derek Miller
      “3 Feet High and Rising” by De La Soul
      “Paul’s Boutique” by Beastie Boys

    36. Meet Moot*

      ‘Pressure Machine’ by The Killers

      It hit me like a freight train, I am absolutely obsessed with that album.
      Honourable mentions include:
      ‘Dawn FM’ by The Weeknd
      ‘No Secrets’ by Carly Simon
      ‘Harry’s House’ by Harry Styles
      And because I’m a fiend for Christmas (acknowledging not everyone celebrates), I do love ‘Songs For The Season’ by Ingrid Michaelson

    37. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Get ready for eclectic:
      Igor Stravinsky: Petrouchka/The Rite of Spring
      Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (yo, Helvetica!)
      Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend
      Fastball: All the Pain Money Can Buy
      The Left Banke: Walk Away Renee
      Telemann: any collection of music for oboe (concerti, sonatas, etc.)
      Duran Duran: Astronaut
      Beck: Colors
      Ella Fitzgerald: The Cole Porter Songbook

    38. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin, the Stanley Black version (I understand what Leonard Bernstein was trying to do with it, but it just didn’t work for me).

    39. Samwise*

      Lizz Wright, The orchard.

      Rosanne Cash, The List

      Pearl Jam, Ten

      Iz, Facing Future

      Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville

      Jason Isbell, Southeastern

      Mazzy Star, So tonight that I might see

      Stacey Earle, Simple Gearle

      Kate Rusby, Hourglass

    40. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Alt-J : An Awesome Wave
      St. Vincent : Daddy’s Home
      Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City (just skip Finger Back haha)
      Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
      The Decemberists: The Crane Wife

    41. Katy*

      Most of mine are classic rock albums that everyone already knows about, but here are a few you might not know:

      “You and Your Sister” by the Vulgar Boatmen
      “England is a Garden” by Cornershop
      “Common Sense” by John Prine

    42. Clara Bowe*

      “Trouble” by Natalia Kills is a dark pop delight from moment go.
      “Ash & Ice” by The Kills is an absolutely slept on release of theirs and one I really dig.
      “Gaslighter” by The Chicks is a hard listen but the musicianship and writing on it is so damn smart it kicks me every time.
      “The Builders and the Butchers” and “Salvation is a Deep Dark Well” by The Builders and the Butchers are absolute avalanches of Southern Gothic delight.
      “Some Kind Of Cure” by David Berkeley is a really amazing concept record written while the artist and his wife lived on Corsica for a year with their young son. For me, it’s his strongest work and a gorgeously haunting listen.

      Also, co-sign the Vienna Teng love! I will say though, my fave of hers is “Dreaming Through The Noise” is my forever fave.

    43. Pureka fan*

      The Highwomen. Also Chris Pureka’s albums Dryland, Back in the Ring, and How I Learned to See in the Dark.

  14. Manders*

    I need help. One member of our friend group has checked herself into a hospital for mental health reasons. We are all very supportive of her (this is not her first go-round with this). She has asked us to watch her 2 dogs and 1 cat while she’s away for an unknown amount of time (I’m guessing a week-ish? maybe 2?). One of the dogs is very elderly and one is a puppy. Two of us met over there today and it was exactly what depression looks like, but with dogs added to the mess. We spent 2.5 hours cleaning and we barely made a dent. I don’t want to overstep, and I’m wondering where that boundary line is? The cleaning we did today was necessary for health reasons – literally scraped caked-on dog poop off the floors, did a couple of loads of laundry of soiled dog bedding (the puppy has diarrhea, yay!), threw away ~40 loaves of bread that mostly looked like science experiments, etc. I’m not sure how much cleaning we should do? Any thoughts from people who have been in a similar situation? Thanks!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do you think she would be upset? I feel like you might know where the line is, but if it were me I’d be grateful for everything sanitized, at least – laundry clean, counters clear, dishes done, anything moldy or trash thrown out.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Same here. That also sounds like it would have been condemned had anyone in authority seen it, and the animals removed. I think OP’s friend had a lucky break that it was friends who saw the situation rather than animal control, the American version of our RSPCA etc.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I am just guessing, but I’d want her to come home to a fresh start, not a bunch of jobs. I would NOT reorganize, but I would get her caught up on cleaning & laundry, and get rid of bad food.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think there can be a stuckness of “So much has piled up, where do I even start?” and having someone bulldoze in and tackle the heavy cleaning could really help.

        “All the stuff that should be thrown in the garbage, into the garbage” is a way to make a significant dent.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I would modify this to say, everything that is literally spoiled or is clearly waste (like dog poo) into the garbage – this will likely make a dent. Don’t throw things you think may be garbage away (eg, crumpled papers – somehow this will end up being an important paper that depression left crumpled up in a corner).

          1. Manders*

            Yep, we did this. Much of her garbage was bagged up, just not taken out. One crumpled paper was actually a check. We didn’t dispose of anything like that, just the obvious garbage.

            It was a ton of work. I got over there for morning dog feeding and thought I would get a head start, and I literally couldn’t think of where to begin. So I waited until another friend joined me later in the morning. I’m mentally healthy and I couldn’t see a plan forward, so I don’t know how she would do it when she gets out of treatment.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Pick one room at a time (bathroom a good place to start). You will feel like you’ve accomplished something.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              When I cleared the accumulated clutter in my parents’ apartment, I would pick a corner of the room and go clockwise. However far I got on that visit (I was flying in for long weekends) was how far I got, and on the next weekend I would pick up where I’d left off.

              Once I had cleared things out my mom was able to maintain it–the clutter didn’t reappear over the weeks I was gone.

            3. Kiki Is The Most*

              My friends and I helped out in a very similar situation with a longtime friend.
              It. Was. Hard.
              She had cats, and it looked like there were bugs in the kitchen and in her bedroom. We all had a quick cry of WTF and HTF-did-this-get-so-bad and then followed the advice many here have given. We each started in a different room and spent an entire weekend in her home.
              We left ‘piles of things’ slightly organized in small bins (office supplies, mail, papers that might look important, etc.)
              Thankfully, we were also in a position to chip in and get her new bedding, towels, and to replenish some of the food that was ancient in the fridge, freezer and storage.

              When she returned, we told her that we did NOT throw her things away and where they could be found, and then we each took turns staying with her a couple nights a week for a couple months. It made it easier for her to start from a better place in her home rather than the overwhelming sense of gloom of having to tackle something like this alone. She was appreciative that we did this and we never heard anything about the decisions we made to help her during her darkest hours.
              And most importantly we still have her around, too.
              She’s in a really good spot now.

              1. Kiki Is The Most*

                *oh, and she had some hoarding tendencies but not extreme. We just put her things in bins so that we could clean around it.

    3. miel*

      At times when I’ve gone through a rough patch I’ve greatly appreciated help with housework. Actually, I appreciate help with housework anytime, lol. But that’s just me. I think every person is going to be different on this one.

    4. don'tbeadork*

      Health and safety (dog poo, moldy food, etc) needs to be done for the animals if not your friend. That might be a decent explanation if she comes home and complains. Laundry maybe, but I’d not want to go much farther than that. Not without express permission from your friend.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree here–anything that might get an outside agency involved, like animal control or the department of health, should be dealt with (not that they’re going to show up; just a good baseline.)

        Anything else I would run by your friend, with her understanding that you are happy to do this if she thinks it’s a good idea but aren’t requiring it of her at all.

        1. Manders*

          Yes, my guiding principle today was “if her landlord showed up for an emergency repair, would he evict her/report her for this?” If yes, it got cleaned.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      It’s it possible to contact her? Could you say we really want to make your place clean and pretty for you and your animals. Our gift. Our thank you for being strong enough to get care and stay alive. Can we do that?

    6. Anonymous Dinosaur*

      I think it depends on how well you know her and if you think it’s something she would appreciate.

      When I was freshly graduated from college, I was due to move across the state for a job. I was going through a stage of very severe depression and was due to make the move on a Monday. The Friday before I remember sitting on the floor in my apartment that I hadn’t even started packing and just freezing.

      I decided I wasn’t moving after all, couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it. I was texting a friend of mine about it when I got a knock at my door. It was them, they came in and just started packing up my stuff, telling me that they weren’t going to let me stay.

      Because of our relationship, I really appreciated the kick in the butt and the help. It was a risk but I’m glad they took it.

    7. Flowers*

      First: You are a good friend. Second: I would tread carefully. This sounds like hoarding, and if so they will not respond well to too much cleaning. (You have to do the parts that implicate health and safety though, for humans and animals.) You might do a google search and call one of the mental health hotlines to get some advice. I applaud you both for helping and for having the sensitivity to realize the situation may be fraught. BTW we had a friend check herself in too, but they let us visit her, so if you are inclined, you can ask.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree that my sense is, someone on the fringes of hoarding will be shocked / very upset to come home and realize they’ve lost their safety objects. Hoarding is not logical; the items provide a sense of security (but you are probably safe with rotting food / dog poo).

    8. Manders*

      Thanks everyone for your input. It’s a tough situation. We are in contact with the parents regarding the animals, but haven’t discussed the living situation (they live about 6 hours away). We are not allowed to visit, but she is supposed to contact us at some point with the phone number and an ID number that will allow us to call her.

      I’m mostly just shocked at how bad it was. This is someone I don’t really know well, but I see her at a group dinner thing weekly. I knew something was off recently, she was quieter than usual at dinner. But I had no idea of the level of depression she was dealing with. I was over there about a month ago to meet the puppy and it was NOT like this at all. I don’t think I would consider this hording, just an inability to get anything done. Like a lot of garbage was bagged up, but not taken out to the garbage cans, or even outside the door. I don’t have any plans to reorganize – I wouldn’t even know where to start! – but I think we can continue with the cleaning of the main living area (not the bedroom) and be OK. Thanks again everyone.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think “what the house looked like when I came over to meet the puppy” is a really good baseline for what would be a relief for her to come home to.

        (And my parents were not hoarders, but combined “what if I need this sometime in the future?” with “this is messy but where would I even start cleaning?” They were grateful when my dad started hospice and I firmly took the bulldozer approach. )

      2. kina lillet*

        This sounds to me like you should clean if you can. I think it’s entirely possible that she’ll be kind of embarrassed when she realizes, so prepare yourself for a negative reaction—just settle yourself that you’re doing this for her health, her pets’ health, and not for her thanks & appreciation.

        It can be almost easier for a distant friend to do this kind of thing; it lets you stay very matter-of-fact without additional layers of relationship baggage. “We could do it, so we did.” The two mitzvahs are doing the cleaning, and giving her space to react whatever way she reacts about it without needing gratitude.

        I know I’m saying this without ideas for how to do it, but: If there’s any additional way you can offer her some control & agency about it, that would probably help too. Hospitals typically don’t offer much control to their patients.

      3. There You Are*

        I agree about “what the house looked like when I came over to meet the puppy” as being the level of cleaning and tidying you should be aiming for.

        I went through a two-months’ long bout of depression right before I shattered my ankle in 2001. I was forced to ask my next-door neighbor for help.

        I had asked her to do some grocery shopping for me and to pick up some paper plates and plastic cutlery, thinking I would just eat using disposable stuff. But she came over, took one look at the state of my house, rolled up her sleeves and got to work. With each thing she carried to the trash can or dumped in the toilet [pro tip – that’s a great place to get rid of wet, moldy food items instead of risking a clog by putting them down the kitchen sink], I cringed in mortifying embarassment.

        After a few too many times of me protesting that she’d done enough (there was still so much more to do, but I didn’t think I could live through the shame), she sat down next to me and told me about the time she had lived “off the grid” in a rental home out in a semi-rural area.

        She wasn’t off the grid by choice. Depression had kicked her ass and she quit going to work, fell behind in bills, and had all of her utilities cut off. A neighbor brought her gallons of water from their garden hose so she could drink and eat. She had to rig a “hobo stove” to boil the water. She lived in absolute squalor for a little over a year.

        Friends and family had offered to help but, depression being the world’s greatest liar, she listened to it and told everyone she was doing fine because depression had her terrified of What People Will Think.

        After her story, she told me to shove my shame up my ass, and got back to work.

        I will be forever grateful for her just stepping in and taking over.

        Thank you for helping out your not-quite friend. If you see any obvious garbage in the bedroom and bathroom, it would be a kindness to get all that out of the house, too. And wash the bed linens and towels, along with any dishes in the sink, around the house, or in the dishwasher.

        If it were me, I’d be dreading the day I would be released from treatment because of the work waiting for me at home. If I knew I could just come home, drink tea from a clean mug, brush my teeth in a clean sink, wash my face with a clean washcloth, and fall into a bed with clean sheets and blankets… well that would be a huge burden — both mental and physical — lifted from my shoulders.

        1. waffles*

          This is a lovely, vulnerable, insightful post and I agree with all advice in it. Sorry you went through that, There You Are. Thanks for sharing your insights.

        2. Manders*

          Wow, this is beautiful. I’m really lucky to have both this AAM forum for ideas, and also the friend group that I’m in that meets weekly. That group is extremely honest about mental health stuff. So I know that a good portion of the group is on various meds for depression/anxiety/ADHD, and I know at least 2 of the 8 or so have been in-patient hospitalized for depression. And I’m also really, really glad that my friend was able to make the proactive step to recognize that she needs help and check herself in. I hope she’s getting the help that she needs to live a fulfilling life, and hopefully we were able to make her transition home a little easier.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          This is really helpful; thank you for sharing it.

          When I cleared my parents’ place, my mom was happy and was able to keep it clean going forward. It was just not knowing where to start, because the “things I should deal with” had grown so large.

        4. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, I’ve been through an almost identical situation (minus the mouldy food) and although my mother made a big song and dance about it and had to be told to knock it off by her best friend, three years on I’m grateful to at least be able to cope even if I’m not the world’s tidiest person from day to day. I’m on the last week of an in-person job so hopefully when I start working from home (on 6 November but after a week’s holiday, which was already booked when we were negotiating a start date) things will be easier without an exhausting commute.

          My mum can now be helpful without being oppressive. When I was at Disneyworld I was using WhatsApp to text her back and forth and she texted me at around 7 or 8pm Florida time to say she was just finishing up some ironing for me. At /midnight/ our time in the UK. Even at 73, she basically feeds on being active, so I wasn’t surprised — I was just enormously grateful.

    9. EA*

      I would stick to the common areas like living room and kitchen. I’d clean anything perishable and throw out trash; get the kitchen to sink zero and clean counters; and mop the floors (that one for the animals). No throwing away mail or anything that isn’t very obviously spoiled/expired/etc. so basically leave the clutter but deal with the trash. I would personally not do laundry without an OK from your friend.

      1. Manders*

        We stayed mostly out of the bedroom (except to pick up food and dishes) and only did the pet laundry. She had a huge amount of soiled blankets from the puppy (mostly urine but not all unfortunately), so we ran about 8 loads of that.

          1. Manders*

            Thank you. I hope never to need this type of help, but I hope if I did need it someone would do the same for me.

    10. SB*

      Hey. I have been admitted to a mental health unit due to depression. My house wasn’t terrible but that is only by virtue of the fact that I did not have pets at the time & recognised the signs before it got too bad & spoke to my family who took me to the hospital for assessment.

      I was embarrassed by the state of my home & was horrified that family members had to give up their own time & energy to clean what I had neglected. I wasn’t offended or angry, just deeply ashamed & embarrassed. Because of this, I tried to isolate myself from them but they wouldn’t allow it & kept reaching out to let me know that I am loved & should not be ashamed or embarrassed to have depression. I needed reassurance that what they had done to help me had not made them think less of me or made them angry at me.

      Your friend is lucky to have you. xo

      1. Kiki Is The Most*

        When my friend group helped one of our own in this same situation, we were more upset and angry with ourselves than anything for missing signs and not helping her enough.

  15. Sic transit Vir*

    Can anyone recommend any good novellas? I want to get back into reading but my attention span just cannot handle it these days. As someone who used to put away 1000 page fantasy sagas in a weekend, it’s a bit depressing.

    I like fantasy and science fiction but am open to all genres. I’ve already read every Murderbot, Binti, and Singing Hills book.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      The Great God Pan, by Arthur Manchen.
      Connie Willis’s short novels, like You Can Find it at the Five And Ten. (Many of them can be found in her story collections as well.)
      Dorothy Parker’s short fiction–most of it’s stories, not novellas, but they’re hilarious and well written. Her theater and fiction reviews equally so.
      If you like older stuff, maybe The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. It’s a long “book,” but really a collection of his shorter pieces put together as a rambling tale of Pickwick and his cronies travelling through England.

    2. Phlox*

      Both Finna and Defkt by Nino Cipri – science fiction, queer norm and just brilliant.

      Ring Shout is an absolutely perfect novella, T Kingfisher also writes great horror. And the Seanan Mcguire doorway books are spectacular

      Realizing that I’m basically recommending Tor novellas, what can I say, their editors have great taste. At least Nino’s books are less well known, the rest are up there is popularity w Murderbot, but hey, they are widely read for a reason – good!!!!!

    3. Phlox*

      Finna and Defkt by Nino Cipri.

      On the more popular Tor novella front, Ring Shout, every book by T Kingfisher and the Wayward Children books by Seanan mcguire are all popular and beloved because they are topnotch novellas. Ring Shout in particular is a masterclass in how much can be done in a novella.

      1. Clara Bowe*

        I also recommend P. Djèlí Clark’s Dead Djinn series. The first are two novellas that funnel into a longer book, but are fun reads on their own. Might be a cool way to transition into longer work? Or not!

    4. Lady Alys*

      Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” collections – they are novel-length but started out as serials in a San Francisco newspaper, so you can read them in bits.

    5. Jay*

      Have you considered big books of short stories?
      Lots of variety there, and it’s a great way to zero in on how your tastes have changed over the years.
      -The Buba The Monster Hunter books (by John G. Hartness) are really funny, Halloween appropriate novellas and short stories . Think “Larry The Cable Guy The Vampire Slayer”. But better than that. They are in the format of a sort of TV show, and organized into “Seasons”.
      -Jim Butcher (the Dresden Files guy) is involved in a number of short story anthologies with a lot of other talented writers.
      -John Scalzi has a few really great short story collections. A Very Scalzi Christmas is a personal favorite.
      -Like Jim Butcher, fantasy author Faith Hunter is involved in a large number of really good anthology series.
      -If you like things a bit more grimdark, I would suggest SNAFU, An Anthology Of Military Horror. It can be very hit or miss and don’t expect to love every story. Feel free to skip anything in there, as they are in no way connected to one another. But the hits are really fun reads and make pretty good Halloween stories.

    6. MaxKitty*

      Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot (2 book series)

      If you have access to Hoopla, there are a lot of Liaden Universe short stories by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. There also exist at least five compilations of short stories too (Liaden Constellation).

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Second the Monk and Robot books.

        I liked Aliette de Bodards SF novella “The Tea Master and the Detective”.

        Do you like mysteries? M. Louisa Locke has a number of short stories and novellas set in her Victorian San Francisco series.

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

      If you would be okay with mysteries, Rex Stout has some novellas in his Nero Wolfe series. I would recommend starting with one of the novels, though, (*Some Buried Caesar* is a personal favorite) just to get familiar with the set up.

    8. acmx*

      Before the Coffee Gets Cold
      Remote Control
      Ring Shout
      The Black God’s Drum
      The Haunting of Tram Car 15 (I like his novellas)
      Driftwood
      The Hummingbird’s Gift (non fiction about the birds)
      Made Things
      Elevation

      Hope you find lots to read from your thread and you get back to reading like you used to. I’ve been/am there.

    9. Helvetica*

      It’s not science fiction but Anton Chekhov basically only wrote short stories, and they are a delightful read, and a great examination of the human condition.
      Nella Larsen has two great (what I would classify as) novellas: Passing and Quicksand. I have them combined in one book and they are short reads with a rich content.

    10. Crackerjack*

      I really like ‘Unexpected Magic’, a collection of short stories and one novella by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy, some semi-historical, very easy to read. But I love all Diana Wynne Jones including her children’s books so if you don’t, maybe this isn’t for you. If the issue is concentration/attention span you may find you can manage some of the children’s books too, though – maybe start with the Chrestomanci ones.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      The Penric and Desdemona books by Bujold, The Wayward Children series by McGuire (mentioned in a thread above), A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended by Alix E Harrow, some T. Kingfisher (e.g. Bryone and Roses, What Moves the Dead), the Monk and Robot books by Becky Chambers, Elder Race by Tchaikovsky, The Singing Hills Cycle by Nghi Vo, The Tensorate by Neon Yang, and various Xuya Universe books by Aliette de Bodard, the two Our Lady of Endless Worlds books by Lina Rather, and A Taste of Honey and The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson.

    12. *daha**

      Michael Swanwick – Griffin’s Egg. It was published individually in book form, and can also be found in his collection Moon Dogs. It is set in a moon colony that has just come under some sort of contagious illness that incapacitated most residents. There are survivors trying to fix things, and survivors with other agendas, and a lot of incidents/ideas that could have been expanded into full novels themselves.

    13. Roxaboxim*

      Marie Brennan: Ree Varekai duology – Cold-Forged Flame / Lightning in the Blood – epic fantasy

      Lois McMaster Bujold: Penric & Desdemona series – Penric’s Demon – fantasy mystery

      P. Djèlí Clark: Everything, for example: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 – fantasy mystery in an alternate Cairo 1912

      Alix E. Harrow: Fractured Fables Series – A Spindle Splintered – contemporary multiversal fairy tale

      Stark Holborn: Triggernometry – alternate history western with outlaw mathematicians

      Tansy Rayner Roberts: Cookie Cutter Superhero Series – young adult superhero stories

      Kelly Robson: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach – transhumanist time travel story

      Brandon Sanderson: Snapshot – post-cyberpunk mystery
      Brandon Sanderson: Legion series – mysteries that are hard to classify (superhero? paranomal? psychiatric?)

      Ferrett Steinmetz: Sauerkraut Station – young adult space opera

      Adrian Tchaikovsky: Elder Race & Expert System Series – illustrate Clake’s third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    14. Double A*

      It’s mostly short stories with one novella length story, but “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang are some of the most incredible short stories I’ve ever read. Sci Fi on another level.

    15. Donkey Hotey*

      Pilgrimage of Swords by Ryan
      Fantasy quest with rather tight prose.

      Upright Women Wanted by Frey
      post-apocalyptic librarians!

    16. ReadersAdvisory*

      The mimicking of known successes, by Malka Older. Murder mystery on Jupiter with a touch of saphic romance. Next book in the series coming out soon has the best title: The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles. That title could be my employeer’s mission statement.

    17. Part time lab tech*

      I enjoyed Across the Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hearn. Otherwise, some YA fantasy is shorter and easier to digest or ask at the library for suggestions.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      Ugh – page reload posted my comment before I was done.

      My favorite was discovering KitchenShare (dot) org for a free rental system of kitchen items!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Packing lunches for weekend shifts, and in general planning our weekly menu/shopping. So much easier than grabbing stuff willy nilly! Also, if there’s sales like buy one get one, we’ll buy what we need and freeze the extra.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Make a huge pot of spaghetti or Spanish rice. Once it’s cooled down, ladle into plastic bags in about one serving size if you live by yourself, tie and freeze. This works just as well as trying to find a zillion little plastic dishes with lids, and since you squish all the air out, will keep better. Pull out, let defrost for about a half hour or so, dump icy ball into a bowl and microwave.

    2. Jay*

      Large batch Dutch oven slow cooking.
      I can just put a huge kettle of something on to cook first thing in the morning that only has a few, cheep ingredients (I’m soaking the dried beans for homemade pork and beans I’m going to cook up tomorrow). The prep is usually quick and I don’t really have to do too much. And the food almost always comes out AMAZING.
      In a similar vein, I started oven roasting pork shoulder a few months back and it’s just wonderful. Season it up quick (I make my own rub, but a store bought rub works just fine), wrap in plastic for about a day, give or take, and bake at 200 degrees for about 10 hours. I usually do that over night, so I have a wonderful breakfast of fresh, hot pork shoulder, toast, and eggs on a Sunday morning.
      Also, just taking the time to go through my whole life and really think about what I’m spending my money on. Looking for ways to eliminate, consolidate, or reduce monthly payments for things.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Yes, my spreadsheet with the *all* the categories was very enlightening to me–“I spend that much of *that*?” Then I decide if I want to cut down or if I want to cut down something else so I can spend that much on *that*.

    3. Freeze!*

      I’ve been freezing more items: Brownies that would go stale before we could eat them (bonus points for delicious frozen brownies with ice cream), brown bananas to make banana bread, strip the leftover deli chicken & freeze to make – anything, freeze soup, broth, berries before they get old.

    4. Middle Aged Lady*

      Don’t look at catalogs or go shopping when you aren’t buying. If you don’t see it, you won’t want it.
      Make plans with friends that don’t involve buying something. Go for s walk, etc.
      Beans. So cheap and delicious.
      Shop your closet before you buy clothes.
      Don’t care what other people think of your habits. This is a big one.

      1. Filosofickle*

        That is so true — there was a super broke period in my life where, for my sanity, I just stopped looking at things like clothing catalogs and restaurant reviews. And wow did that slow down my desire for things. I call it the “want monster”.

      2. Rosyglasses*

        Beans are so delicious! I am pretty ruthless with unsubscribing to things and I’m on several no-junk-mail lists which helps!

      3. WestsideStory*

        Yes. “What the eye does not see the heart does not long for.” I stay out of stores and try to shop only from a list. The best intentions do go awry at the mall, I’ve found.

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

      Shopping in my fridge/freezer/pantry to see what’s there that I’ve already paid for instead of buying something new. I sometimes discover fun treats that have gotten buried, and trying to use what I have helps rotate my stock so stuff doesn’t go bad.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        A few things! :)

        – Taking snacks and sandwiches and so on with me rather than buying lunch on days out, and bringing drinks with me as well. It means carrying more stuff about, but it’s worth it, ( and sometimes nicer than the options available!).
        – Taking lunch to work, and not buying it at the cafe or canteen.
        – Plans with friends that don’t involve restaurants or the like.
        – Looking on Facebook groups and on posters for free or cheap events. One of the best days out we had recently was an open day by the local bus company celebrating 100 years of the company. They had vintage and modern vehicles you could sit in, ( including the driver’s seat), and press all the buttons, free balloon modelling for all, ( I got a blue penguin!) and you could go through the bus wash in a bus, which was possibly the best bit of the day!
        – Not buying things when I first see them. Bookmarking them, leaving it a day or two, and then seeing if I still want the thing. A lot of the time, I don’t want it two days later.
        – Thinking about what I want to spend my money on. Do I really want to go on the work night out when I’m only friendly with four or five of the people, or do I want to use that money for something more enjoyable, like a meal with friends when they come to visit?

        The Cost of Living crisis in Britain is horrible, but it has made talking about money and budgets easier. With more people struggling, it’s become more socially acceptable to say you’re on a budget etc.

        However, that does not include the pushy lady at work, ( the one organising the Christmas night out), who, on hearing that I wasn’t signing up, yelled across the room, “Why?” and when I said I wanted to use the money for something else, ( a meal out with friends), asked me if I was short of money, and then said loudly “Well, that’s not very friendly!” to the whole room. The latter made me determined not to go, whether I wanted to or not! :P ( Said night out hasn’t progressed far as the pushy lady, while great at shouting, is not good at planning or booking things. ;) )

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          The BOOKMARKING. Especially for literal books! When I hear/read about a book that sounds interesting, I stick it on my Amazon wish list. Then, when I go over the list, I can see what still intrigues me and what was a passing fancy, so to speak.

          (Of course it’s even cheaper at the library! But if it’s a hard to find book or there’s a long wait list, this way I have a record of what might be up for grabs later.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I LOVE when something that sounds interesting turns out to have a long wait list – I put it on hold and then forget about it so it’s a surprise later :)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        In this vein I recommend Lukas Volger’s Start Simple which takes basic ingredients you might have on hand (a can of beans, or a couple of sweet potatoes) and builds simple meals off of those.

        Recommended at Smitten Kitchen when they featured his Carrot and White Bean Burger recipe in March of 2020, when simple stuff you could make with kitchen staples were especially appreciated. I continue to make these burgers, and my family is not vegetarian–it’s a really good veggie-tasting burger that isn’t pretending (poorly) to be beef.

        1. BlueMeeple*

          I would also recommend Katherine Whitehorn’s How to Survive in a Bedsit: a very witty and funny recipe book and general advice book for living in a small flat or living on a budget. :)

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If I do my grocery shopping by delivery, my grocery budget drops by 50%, even with delivery fee/subscription and tips. :-P

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It mostly eliminated a combination of two bad habits:
          1) “Oo, that looks good!” (This could be either junk food, or an ingredient that subsequently led to needing several other items in order to make it useful)
          and
          2) “Oh, sale! I’ll stock up, I use that a lot,” and then when I get home, “What do you MEAN I now have fourteen cans of stewed tomatoes and eight cans of cream of mushroom soup??”

          I had been working on being more strict about sticking to my list, and it was improving, but wandering up and down the aisles was a weakness for me :) when I have to type in everything on my list to search for it, it massively cuts down on seeing anything else :) There’s the occasional “you might also like” or “you’ve bought in the past” that catches my eye, but when I’m doing it from my living room I can also go check, confirm that I already have five cans of stewed tomatoes and remind myself that I do not need to buy anymore, they will go on sale again.

    7. EA*

      Try to troubleshoot where you’re unnecessarily spending money. For example – Do you always forget to bring your water bottle and end up buying beverages when out? Leave extra bottles at work, in the car, etc.

      Also, getting affordable hobbies for the whole family, especially if you have kids, but also cultivating cheaper hobbies for yourself. Those fees for classes and activities can really add up, and there are so many free or low cost things to do.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On cheaper hobbies — figure out ways you can stretch the ones you already have. Knitting isn’t necessarily cheap, per se, but if you look for projects that are technically complex, they can take up a lot more time. A regular scarf can be knocked out in a few hours, but if you go for lace or color work… well, I have a double-knit stranded colorwork Star Wars scarf that’s about $12 worth of yarn that I’ve been working on for like six months. Go for the stretch :)

        1. Rosyglasses*

          I just saw a little instagram reel where a guy thrifted an afghan for $5 and then pulled it apart and got 15 balls of yarn out of it!

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I am going on a trip and taking an empty, dry ice cube tray. This way, if the resort has a horrible little ice maker or none at all, there’s usually enough of a freezer so I can still make some ice. This worked out really well when I was put into a college dorm for a nonprofit conference.

    8. Sitting Pretty*

      These only work if you have some extra money but here goes…

      I recently moved some of my finances around to take advantage of high CD and yield rates at banks. I like to have a cushion of savings (beyond retirement) that will be available in an emergency + a little backup for purchases I know are coming in the next year (like, I’m saving to replace my ancient and sagging sofa). But it’s easy to get lazy and just keep it in the whatever account I already have. It only took one day of focus to get a couple of high interest savings accounts open and money transferred. So it is still available in an emergency but if I don’t touch it, in the next 1-2 years there will be enough in interest alone to invest in a sofa.

      Also, I haven’t done this yet, but apparently if you have car and/or renter’s insurance and haven’t looked at it in a while, there is a good chance you’re paying more than you need to be. A lot of us don’t take advantage of much better rates at competitors because the insurance we have is just fine and it’s a pain to explore options. But a couple of my friends recently have changed insurance and they saved ton of money.

      And finally, if you have to manage your own retirement investment funds, then one a year, take a look at the expense ratio and overall performance. I’ve found that funds that looked good in previous years had increasing expenses and decreasing performance, which can really shrink the savings up over time. Moving stuff around once in a while can be scary but worth it

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On insurance: find a local insurance agent that deals with multiple companies, I think the ones I use work with like 18 companies (including some I’ve never heard of). If I want a fresh quote, they do all the legwork and I don’t have to give my phone number and email address to anybody, and they can run my info through all of ’em and tell me what the best deal is, based on their knowledge of my needs and preferences. Takes a lot of the pain out of dealing with the process of changing insurance, and they’re paid by the insurance companies, not by charging me extra. My agent automatically pulls a fresh quote for me annually right before my renewal date and lets me know if there’s any better options.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My husband just had his last speeding ticket age off his driving record so she pulled quotes for us and dropped our auto insurance to 60% of what it had been (which was mostly the ticket falling off, but still) and also saved me $550 a year on my homeowner’s insurance premium by switching both to a new company.

          1. Squidhead*

            Oh, you probably know this and hopefully there will be no more tickets, but taking a driver’s safety class after I (NY) got a ticket not only removed the points from my license (and thus our insurance) but it also lowered our insurance by 10% for the next 3 years…we actually saved money overall even after paying the (expensive NYS Thruway) ticket and the fee for the class. However, you can’t “pre-take” a class to negate future points and you can only take the class every 3 years so if you don’t currently have a ticket on your record you have to decide whether to preemptively take the class for the insurance savings or wait until you might get a ticket.

            For OP, paying the whole year in full for our insurance also saves money. Between the house and vehicles it’s a big bill, but I know it’s coming and I pay it once. (Ours takes credit cards, which we pay off in full every month but that means we also get points/cashback!) As other suggest, I get new quoted on ours every few years to make sure we’re getting the best rate.

      2. Just here for the scripts*

        I used to do an annual check, but everyone else said they couldn’t meet what we got from our first company. Laziness and complacency meant I didn’t do this again until this year when the re-up seemed over the top to me. So I did a comparison on home insurance and the top 3 ranked companies from Nerdwallet were 40, 50 and 60+% lower than what my renewal was. Immediately changed.

  16. Firebird*

    Where’s the fine line between nosy and interested when the question “How are you” isn’t answered by “Fine”?

    I’m extremely literal and don’t always understand social cues. I might be autistic, but at my age I don’t think a diagnosis will be useful. I’m learning a lot about communication and neuro diversity from AAM posts and reader comments. (I actually invited someone over for Thanksgiving this year and it turned into a group event that I’m feeling pretty good about. Thanks, everybody!)

    I want to show empathy without being nosy. But I also don’t want to indulge jerks. My ex used to say “partly cloudy” because people didn’t know how to respond and he thinks that is funny.

    Today, someone answered “ok considering.” I didn’t want to be pushy, so I said “It sounds like a lot of consideration going on.” I was being vague so she could ignore it, if she wanted. She then told me about a sudden death in her family. I expressed my sympathy and she seemed ok with that.

    So my question is, what do you say when someone doesn’t say “fine” without being nosy?

    1. don'tbeadork*

      “I’m sorry to hear that. Would you like to talk about it or just move on?” Gives them a chance to either talk or avoid the issue as they prefer. They know I’m available to listen if they wish, but I’m not going to pry.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Usually, I make a sympathetic statement that leaves plenty of room for the other person to talk more, but doesn’t actually ask anything. Which sounds like exactly what you did. It doesn’t have to be clever wording, just have the sympathy in your tone of voice. Often I go with something simple like, “that doesn’t sound too terribly good”.

    3. Despachito*

      I think you handled it perfectly.

      You said something vague enough that it left her the choice to tell you more (as she did), or if she did not want to elaborate, to ignore it.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer. Some people want to talk. Some just want acknowledgement. Some just don’t want to lie even though they don’t want to talk about things.

      If I’m unsure what the person is looking for, I generally say something sympathetic or just give a sympathetic look and let them take it from there. Like “oh, that sounds tough.”

      Your response today sounds like a good one.

      I’d also say, if you know the person, take what you know of them into account. If they are somebody who usually tells a lot about their problems, you can ask a bit more than if they are very private.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also extremely literal and not always picking up the social cues that get put down. After years of studying this weird tribe called “people” I have concluded that if they’re responding outside the social norm of “fine” or equivalent, some level of additional attention/interaction is required. (If they didn’t want additional interaction, they coulda just said “fine” like everyone else.) So my general response, absent any other context, is “Oh?” If they want to elaborate, they will.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I think your reply was fine. It’s nice to have a wrap-up phrase in case they don’t want to keep talking about it. Something like, “okay, considering.” – “Oh, I’m sorry that you need to consider it.” – “Yeah, it’s cool though.” – “Well, that’s good. I hope things get better soon.” Or even, “I’m always here if you want to chat,” and then you move on.

      1. kalli*

        That’s not really what ‘ok, considering’ means. They’re not considering whether they’re ok or not, they don’t need to think about it. It’s acknowledging there are extenuating circumstances and stating they’re doing as well as they can be in those. Essentially, the sentence is being truncated and the actual circumstances left unsaid, and often an ‘I don’t feel fine but I don’t want to talk about it’ and not an ‘if you sound sympathetic enough and indicate you have time I will vent’.

        1. Not A Manager*

          This is… emphatic. The OP actually said that she followed up and the person did want to talk about it. My response wasn’t meant as literally, they need to think about whether they are okay. It’s just a way of indicating that you hear and understand that things are not copacetic. As the OP said, it gives them a chance to give more detail, or not.

          My only suggestion was to think of a way to wrap up and move on in case they indicate that they don’t want to talk about it.

          1. kalli*

            We don’t actually know that they wanted to talk about it vs that they felt they had to talk about it.

            My point is that commenting on the ‘considering’ isn’t a wrap-up, people don’t use ‘ok considering’ as ‘I want to talk about it’; if they did, they’d just say ‘My cat just died but other than that I’m ok’ and just talk about it. It’s just a ‘well you know I can’t say fine and I am acknowledging that, but I don’t want to go into it’ where the appropriate response is basically about on the level of ‘welp, have a less worse day today, bye’ with the option of ‘here if you need’ if you personally want to offer support and have the bandwidth for that door to be open.

    7. RagingADHD*

      “Oh?” is good, or “How so?” or “You OK?” or if you know the person pretty well, “What’s the matter?”

      It is a generally accepted signal that the person wants to unpack. Which is why it’s so counterproductive when folks come on here and ask “I am not fine, but I don’t want to talk about it, so what can I say that authentically reflects my not-fineness but does not invite questions?”

      Because the answer is, “fine” is the minimum response to close the loop. A more enthusiastic response can also pass without comment. But telling people you are not fine is a distress signal, and kindly folks will respond accordingly.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’ve known fairly literal people who don’t want to say “fine” when they don’t feel fine, which they feel is lying or otherwise feels bad, but also don’t want to talk about it in more depth at that moment. “I’m sorry to hear that – let me know if you want to talk about it” is a good response to keep in your back pocket, IMO.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, that’s my point. The person who says “how are you” has no way of knowing whether the person they are speaking with is being extremely literal, or is sending a social signal. Unless they know them well, in which case it is normal to have a more specific conversation like “I don’t want to talk about it.”

          I think it is a lot more useful to people who have trouble with cues or who are extremely literal to explain how the patterns typically go, and let them choose how to use the code, than to act as if the patterns don’t exist or avoid using them in ordinary circumstances.

          Someone who really doesn’t want to talk about what’s bothering them is unlikely to appreciate expressions of sympathy or invitations to confide. Which is why, if you really don’t want people asking you questions or treating you with kid gloves, you should just give a ritual “fine” and avoid setting off people’s Sympathy Radar.

      2. carcinization*

        I think “hanging in there” is the usual response that conveys that? I don’t get a lot of follow-up from that one but it’s different than “fine.”

    8. vulturestalker*

      Seconding “I’m sorry to hear that. Do you feel like talking about it?” or similar. Friends have said that to me many times and it’s always welcome because it gives a nice explicit choice.

    9. Bibliovore*

      I think you are doing fine with these interactions.
      My husband died. My twin brother died. I live with disability and chronic pain.
      How are you? Often receives a “fine, considering.” response because most people I see know what is going on.
      If I accidentally say that to someone I don’t know that well, your response is just fine giving me the opportunity to say aloud whats going on if I want to AND your expression of sympathy is usually all that is needed and we can move on to the plans for the trip to the llama farm.
      (for awhile I said Terrible thanks for asking, I was the only one who thought that was funny. I love “partly cloudy.”)

    10. kalli*

      ‘OK considering’ is a version of ‘fine’. The considering isn’t ‘I’m thinking about whether I’m fine or not’, it’s referring to the circumstances – the full sentence would have been ‘OK, considering a family member just died’ in that particular exchange, but it was cut off at ‘considering’ *because* she didn’t want to talk about it. You indicated you wanted to know by saying what you did by specifically referring to the modification of OK.

      Ideally you just go on as if they did say ‘fine’, ‘OK’, ‘good’, ‘hanging in there’ or anything remotely resembling those. ‘OK, considering’ does that.

  17. Dwight Schrute*

    Favorite scary movies? I’m looking to add more to my list for this month. I don’t do torture but I enjoy some of the classic slashers, and love a good ghost story and jump scares. I also enjoy pretty much anything Mike Flanagan

    1. Dodubln*

      Love Mike Flanagan! My suggestions:
      Let’s Scare Jessica To Death
      The Sentinel
      Burnt Offerings
      Black Christmas (1974)
      The Others
      The Ring
      The Dark And The Wicked
      It Follows
      The Innocents (1961)
      The Autopsy Of Jane Doe
      These are all movies where I was hiding being my hand at one point or another, and still resonant with me, in some cases…30-40 years later! Hopefully there is something there you haven’t seen yet.

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

      You’ve probably seen it already, but I thought *Get Out* was utterly brilliant! On the mystery/thriller/romance side, *Charade* has some kind of scary parts.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ll add “Nope” in which characters see stuff that per trope will get them killed, and are like “nope.” Like, finally someone listened to the audience’s advice!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      See the other thread about horror movies, where a couple of us suggested The Innocents.

    4. LNLN*

      Wait Until Dark with Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin. It’s an old one, but it scares me every time!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The only movie that has ever made me scream in the theater. (I was at a high school screening. Very glad was in the balcony with only my friends!)

    5. Corgisandcats*

      Hell House LLC is shockingly good for a low budget, fairly off the radar film, and it’s on amazon prime. It’s part haunted house, part found footage documentary, and several good jump scares. The sequels are not my thing but man, I wish I could go back and watch this one for the first time again.
      Rose Red is another good but not talked about miniseries. It’s a great ghost/haunted house story, very Haunting of Hill House-ish. It’s from Stephen King so lots of creepy ghosts and general atmospheric dread.

    6. mreasy*

      I mentioned above but have you been watching the new Fall of the House of Usher miniseries? It’s terrific fun.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Try “The Changeling”, from 1980; George C. Scott is a concert musician who’s lost his family to a tragic accident, and winds up moving to a haunted house. Subtle buildup, some deliciously chilling scenes, a ghostly-vengeance subplot, and one of the best uses of a seance in a film since “Seance on a Wet Afternoon” – which is also excellent, though in a building-tension/quiet-madness way rather than a supernatural one.

      Also, John Carpenter’s “The Fog” from 1980 – ghostly sailors seek vengeance on the descendants of the villagers who lured their ship onto the rocks. I like the performances of the chief actors, and the creeping dread of that blasted fog and what comes out of it is great (scary) fun.

      1. Jelly*

        Just watched “The Changeling” last week! I’ve seen it a few times over the years, and that seance scene is still as brilliant and scary as ever.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Ohhh, The Changeling is so great! In the same vein, 1971’s Don’t Look Now, with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. Heads up that there’s a pretty explicit sex scene just in case that’s not your thing (very seventies!)

        And The Fog is so good too–I wanted a whole movie about Adrianne Barbeau’s radio station owner character! Her voice was to die for.

    8. Jelly*

      All the Paranormal Activity movies
      The Omen
      The Exorcist
      Burnt Offerings
      The Shining
      Sinister
      Amityville Horror (the original with Margot Kidder – may she RIP – and James Brolin)

      Thanks for this question! I’m looking at others’ suggestions and getting great ideas for what to watch.

    9. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. It’s scary, there are marvelous plot twists, and it’s got one of the best casts ever of old Hollywood stars from the 30s and 40s. And you might as well watch Whatever Hsppened to Baby Jane while you’re indulging in 1960s horror classics. That one is more over-the-top, but it’s a lot of fun. I prefer HHSC because its got other good elements besides horror. Oh, and Dead Ringer is a good one if you want a Bette Davis trifecta.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I think that everyone knows how “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” was originally titled “Whatever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?” and was part of a proposed trilogy of “psycho-biddy” genre movies that were going to star Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and that were going to be produced and directed by Robert Aldrich. “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” was the first movie in the trilogy. Joan left the set of “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” and was replaced by Olivia de Havilland.

        I’m going to go out on limb here and recommend the third installment of the trilogy which was “Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?” (based on the novel, “The Forbidden Garden” by Ursula Curtiss). By the time it was filmed even Bette Davis had dropped out of the production. It starred Geraldine Page and Ruth Gordon and was produced by Robert Aldrich, although he didn’t direct it. It was directed by Bernard Girard (who was fired fairly early in the production) and Lee H. Katzin (who received the director credit). Not quite up to the level of scariness of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” or “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” but it does have its moments and was a clever well-written story.

    10. Dwight Schrute*

      Thanks everyone! Looking forward to watching these. Started Fall of the House of Usher yesterday and love it so far.

    11. so very tired*

      Two hidden gems I’ve seen over the last few years:

      The Lodge: a movie set in a remote cabin in the woods during Christmas where one of the characters gets gaslit into oblivion and then wild stuff happens.

      The Wolf House: A surreal Chilean animated film about a girl who runs away from a cult and slowly goes mad in hiding while the cult pursues her. The art style can only be described as you have to see it to believe it. It’s beautiful yet haunting.

  18. The Dude Abides*

    Exercise help!

    Anyone here know of any good exercises that can improve hamstring mobility? Mine are super tight to where my leg simply won’t stay straight if I do leg raisers while lying flat.

    1. Angstrom*

      Do you go shoeless at home? Standing and walking with no heel lift will help. Zero-drop shoes can help.
      Is the tightness in the hip, upper leg, lower leg, or all the way down?
      There’s the classic “touch your toes”, but don’t bounce — just bend forward and let your arms and torso hang.
      Stand toes-in on the edge of a step so that your heels can hang below your toes. Let your heels sink. You can do very slow raises to build calk strength.
      With a wall or counter for support, place one leg behind you, keep the heel on the floor, and lean forward until you feel the stretch. Hold.
      Put one heel on the seat of a hard chair, keep the leg straight, lean forward until you feel the stretch. Hold.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Always shoeless around the house.

        Calf strength isn’t an issue, as I incorporate goblet squats into my circuits and leg day.

        I will try the toe-touch within my warmup next time and see if that helps.

      2. Jelly*

        Than you for these suggestions, Angstrom. I don’t have hamstring issues, but just reading your post made my legs feel soothed, so gonna try these just for the feels!

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      Sit on a chair or sofa with the edge about halfway down your thigh. Extend one or both legs with knees straight and feet flexed so your heels are on the floor. Hinge your torso forward from the hips without rounding your back until you reach a comfortable amount of stretch in your hamstrings. You can brace your hands on your shins so your back isn’t doing all the work of holding you up, and just hang out on that position for at least 30 seconds, working up to 60 or more. No bouncing.

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

      I discovered another street where there are sometimes parking spots in my neighborhood.

      Our neighborhood parking is tight at best, and we’ve lately lost so many spots for various reasons that it’s getting really hard to find parking, so finding a new source of spots feels like discovering a goldmine.

    2. UKDancer*

      Got my flu jab. Not a thing I enjoy as I hate needles. But I always feel a strong sense of accomplishment that I overcome my needle issues and get the vaccine. Not too many side effects this time either which is a majorly good result.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My woofapotamus is not much of a cuddler (which is kind of a bummer, I had hopes of a 120 pound lap horse, but no dice, she likes her space most of the time) but this week she’s taken to coming up behind me at my (standing) desk, wedging her ginormous noggin between my elbow and side, and basically just resting her chin on my hip while she makes “pettins please?” faces up at me. Which is totally adorable.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        She also just got back from the doggy salon and now she smells like flowers and her fur is extra soft, and both pups have fresh scarfs on that are pumpkin print for Halloween.

        Alannah all evening while Abigail was at the salon: *fuss fuss mope groan whine freak out stressing about baby sister not being here*
        Alannah five minutes after Abigail got home: “I changed my mind, you can send her right back to wherever she was.”

    4. No Tribble At All*

      One of the Tribble-cats recently got the new shot for arthritis. It’s supposed to almost entirely remove joint pain. The vet said it was early stage for her but good to start early. Yesterday I saw her pounce on a toy all four paws in the air, which I realized I hadn’t seen her do for a while (she’s much more a chase-and-bat hunter). But she did such a good jump! The vet is close and we’re good for the money, and it seems to make such a difference for her!! She pounced so well!!!

        1. Random Bystander*

          If it wasn’t a shot, I would have thought it was Cosequin (that’s what I got for one of my cats who started showing signs of arthritis). It’s basically the cat version of the glucosamine-chondroitin supplements they make for humans–I got it in a pill form (capsules) that I basically opened and sprinkled over her wet food once a day.

          1. A313*

            I used Adequan for my cat, but it was shots I did at home. Just wondering if there’s something new.

        2. Snell*

          Zoetis’s osteoarthritis shot? My vet recommended it for my dog maybe a week and a half ago, and it’s very new—literally arrived at the hospital the day before. One of my other dogs passed earlier this year, and the vet said they would have recommended Zoetis for her if it had been available then. I’m definitely leaning towards getting it for her brother yet living.

          Whether or not Tribble’s cat got Zoetis or another treatment, it’s good to hear a promising success story. The last time my dog wanted to run was around this time last year, and it stood out as an anomaly—one morning walk, he was just really in the mood to run, so of course I ran with him even though I definitely wasn’t dressed for running, but his energy that morning made me so happy, I laughed out loud while running up the street with him. I was so happy that morning.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            Yes, it’s Zoeitis shot, medication name is called Solensia. We also got the joint supplement (Dausaquin?) because we were a little worried she’d overdo it if her joints are in bad shape but she can’t feel them. Of course, the supplement goes in the food bowls, and we have two cats so they swap bowls during eating on some inexplicable rotation… so both cats are getting some supplement now lol.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I finished my pseudohistorical Italian chemise for my Renfaire costume, and it is sooooooo swooshy.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Had a lovely visit from family, which (a) motivated me to tidy up the house, and (b) featured some enjoyable talks, and shared meals, and scary-movie viewings (we watched “Them!”, my favorite giant-insect movie, and “The Fog” – the 1980 John Carpenter version, I refuse to consider the 2005 remake worthy of the name).

      Also, having two of my cats entwined and sound asleep on my lap at the same time. Makes it hard to type, but it’s so sweet!

    7. allathian*

      I had enough energy to get a lot of work done this week. Great to feel like I’m more or less back to normal after a (very mild) case of Covid.

    8. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Just happened now.
      I had a pile of stuff to go to Goodwill, the last of the unpacking, decluttering from my move. My sister stopped by and I offered her some empty bins and she took them and everything else but 1 small box. Now her garage/basement is packed but she’s really clever about repurposing/upcycling and I can’t wait to see what she does with it and something will probably end up back with me.

    9. Nervous Nellie*

      At a new international supermarket that opened up, I picked up a banana flower in the produce section, and thought, cool, let’s try something new. Came home, put on a You Tube video about preparation & cooking, and bam – I had a delicious steamed dish of something that tastes a bit like artichokes. Neat!

    10. BellaStella*

      Starting to pack to move. Took a lot of stuff to donation centre and recycling centre today. was able to pack camping and scuba gear and half my linens. I am getting some items cleaned up for donation like a blender, old vacuum, printer and coffee maker. I also harvested my basil and did some gardening. Been a great week.

    11. Katie*

      My 8 year old son used to be in the less than .01th percentile for weight. I knew he was gaining weight but he was weighed this week and he had gained 8 pounds! This puts him in the 10th percentile!

    12. Sally Field at the Oscars*

      I ran into a lapsed friend and, spotting her before she saw me, briefly considered not saying anything. Socially, I’ve been feeling very out of sorts and isolated, and guilty about letting friendships like this one drop. I thought the encounter might be awkward or unwelcome. I sucked it up and said hi anyway and she was genuinely happy to see me. We reconfirmed contact info and are making plans to get together and catch up. It was such a nice boost in my day.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        That moment of sucking it up to say hi takes big doses of both courage and energy… good on you for crossing that bridge!

    13. Sitting Pretty*

      One of the teens in my neighborhood was out walking his dog at the same time I was. I’ve known him for about 4 years but we haven’t ever really talked. As our dogs were saying hello, we started chatting about school and PSATs and college and stuff… and he was so eager to talk! He didn’t know I worked at a university and he asked a bunch of questions about admissions and choosing a major. He clearly needed a little reassurance that he’s on the right track. We chatted for over 20 mins and he was grinning ear to ear by the end. It was wild and so very sweet!

    14. The Other Dawn*

      My handmade sweater I bought from a knitwear and tartan shop in Canada arrived yesterday!

      We went on a Canada & New England cruise a couple weeks ago and one of the stops was Charlottetown, PEI. We were walking around and passed a knitwear and tartan shop. I wasn’t going to stop, but had some time to kill before going back to the ship. I’m so glad I did. Lots of warm, cozy stuff in there! I found a 100% wool zippered cardigan I loved, but they didn’t have the color I wanted on the shelf in the zippered variation. The owner had me try on what she thought would be my size in another color. It fit, so she said they’d knit it for me in my color and size (the antique looms are right in the shop where you can watch) and ship it out. My husband said it was his treat so I immediately agreed.

      I got it yesterday and it’s even more beautiful that I thought it would be! Very warm, very cozy, and the weight is pretty hefty. I don’t think I will ever freeze while wearing it. :)

      I only wish we’d bought a few other things we liked. Although they have an online store, not everything is listed on the website.

  19. Wolf*

    That thread about the yelling coworker reminded me of something: isn’t it odd how many jobs come with the warning “just so you know, Bob yells at people”? And it’s just presented as a fact of life, not as an issue?

    1. Chaordic One*

      And it’s not just jobs. It’s neighbor Jane and and Uncle John and Ms. Delilah at the Social Security Office.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      Yep. That’s how you know it’s a toxic environment. Yelling should be reserved for threats to life and limb and that’s it.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes! I am frequently surprised at how often we make allowances for AHs in everyday situations but I am also beginning to see a lot of push back. These videos of taco bell workers giving back the nasty attitudes customers throw at them with the confidence that they won’t be fired–I think this may even be the beginning of a serious cultural shift.

      There was a lady who came on here several months ago (and I regret that I went back and forth with her nonsense) who wanted assurance that the McDonalds workers treated her terribly and rudely because they wouldn’t engage with her after she yelled at them. She really thought AAM commenters would side with her yelling at a working person. She was incensed that no one agreed with her. It was satisfying to see, honestly.

  20. Sad again*

    I’m having my fifth miscarriage and it just really sucks. It feels like my body is broken and incapable of doing what everyone else is able to do. And because they’re first trimester, most people didn’t know I was pregnant so it’s a suffer in silence situation and it just freaking sucks.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I’m so sorry. That’s such a painful thing, and the silence is so hard. Sending vibes.

    2. Me too*

      There is absolutely nothing about miscarriages that doesn’t suck. I’m so sorry. I totally relate to your feelings and wish I had magic words for us both. Solidarity, you aren’t alone.

    3. LGP*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. My wife had two miscarriages this year, and it’s just awful. I know there’s nothing anyone can say to make it better, but please know you are not alone. If you have anyone in your life whose support you could use, consider telling them. Just because you didn’t tell them you were pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t tell them what’s going on now. Take care.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Oh, I’m so sorry. I hope you have an easy time and get the support you need. That’s awful.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’m glad you felt you could post here; it’s so hard to bear these things in private. I feel for you. I’m so very sorry that you are enduring this. In my heart, I have my arms around you tightly.

      I hope you can reach out to some people in your community for some in-person support.

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

      I am so very sorry to hear that. I’m sending you big hugs, and I hope you’re able to take loving care of yourself during such a stressful time.

    7. Miss Buttons*

      I’m so sorry, Sad Again. No words of wisdom, just glad you shared this and didn’t suffer in silence. Wrap yourself in whatever comfort you can, and know you’re not alone. Take your healing time. Virtual hugs to you.

    8. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I’m so sorry, what a huge and awful loss. And five times! That’s so much loss. I’m glad you posted here for support. Please know you are not alone. There are many people around you who have been there, who also feel they can’t talk about their losses. I wish we had more of a culture where it was okay to talk about miscarriages and support each other.
      Take care of your physical needs, rest, cry, scream and rage at the unfairness of it all if you need to. Do they have one of those smash plates or hit stuff with a sledgehammer places near you?

    9. crookedglasses*

      That’s so much to be carrying with you. I’m sorry for your loss, and sending warm thoughts to you.

    10. Indolent Libertine*

      Oh jeez, that’s such a ton of sadness. Virtual internet stranger hugs coming your way if you’d like them.

    11. EA*

      I’m so sorry and really feel you on the people not knowing thing. I had a miscarriage this year, and two of my coworkers are due the month that I would have been due. Luckily I am working remotely, but it’s still hard to hear about – and they don’t even know I’d been pregnant.

    12. Sad again*

      Thank you, everyone. I just felt a need to tell people somewhere and the responses have all been really appreciated and helped me feel supported from afar. Thank you so much.

    13. Hrodvitnir*

      I’m sorry to hear that. I do think the idea you “shouldn’t” tell anyone in the first trimester can be misapplied – if there are people you feel safe to support you in an early miscarriage you should feel more than free to tell them!

      That’s so much heartache. Sending you luck for the future.

  21. Likes fresh air*

    Anyone have succes stories of getting neighbors to Stop. Smoking. Directly. Under. Your. Open. Windows.?
    Both of the neighbors directly under my apartment smoke and it’s almost a daily occurrence that I have to hurriedly close my windows because now there’s smoke inside. It is stressing me out. I can’t relax even with one window open, I have to be alert the whole time. All of us are not working so it is all times of day. Usually when I think ‘oh, it is nice out, let’s get some fresh air’, and they think exactly the same. But it would feel so rude and presumptuous to ask them not to smoke between, like, I dunno, 9 and 10 so that I can air out my apartment. And even if they agreed to that, I would feel bad if I then opened my windows not on the agreed-upon-time. They have the right to live their own lives the way they choose.
    Guess I just needed to rant…

    1. PX*

      Have you asked them directly? Most decent people would be fine if you asked them to move slightly or try not to do X at Y time.

      1. Likes fresh air*

        The one under my kitchen window has definitely noticed when I open it, look down to check and hurriedly closes it again. Eye contact every time. I hoped that would be enough to at least make them look up before lighting up but you’re right: I need a direct conversation. I am just so conflict-averse.

        The one under my bedroom window is the one I’ve at least had some friendly conversation with but I feel like such a request is rude. I mean there must be reason why they choose to stand in the street instead of the building’s garden?

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Boo they’re rude! Ask them to move!! You can do it, it will make your life so much easier.

    2. sswj*

      Is there a window on the other side of the apartment that you could open as well? If so (and actually, even if not) I’d put a box fan in that window blowing outwards. You’ll still get air movement through the house, just not direct smoker’s air.

      1. Likes fresh air*

        It’s my bedroom window on one side of the apartment and my kitchen window on the other side of the apartment. Two neighbours, one on each side.
        A box fan is a good idea. I’ve tried with one but unsuccessfully. I think I need it on a table or something and not just on the floor.

        1. sswj*

          If possible, I’d actually wedge it in the window itself. If that doesn’t fit, maybe hung there or on a table right at the opening. Create a current from the ‘clean’ side to the stinky side.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          They make fans that fit in windows, like window AC units. “Window fan” brings up a bunch on Amazon for $40-60 USD.

    3. Lila*

      no success but I found a window fan blowing out to be helpful smell-wise with my downstairs neighbor who smoked weed constantly

    4. Anono-me*

      Does your building have a smoking policy? If they are in policy, anything you ask is a favor and less likely to be accommodated. If they are out of policy, you have a better chance and dependening on your circumstances, you also have the option of escalation.
      Good luck.

      1. Likes fresh air*

        I’ll have to check when I get home from vacation. The building got new owners a few months ago so I am unsure if that changes anything but I could call and ask.

        1. Firebird*

          My landlord sent a letter saying no smoking and no open flames within 25 feet of the building because of insurance restrictions.

          I was so happy that I almost sent a thank you card. This summer was great. Last summer was terrible, because my downstairs neighbor’s son would visit almost every day and sit and smoke under my balcony. I think he wasn’t allowed to smoke at his own place. Now he goes out back in the parking lot where there’s no shade, so I think he comes less often.

    5. Rara Avis*

      No advice, just commiseration. We are in a house with no AC. The only way to cool it down is to open everything up at night and set up fans to pull in cooler air. But the neighbors on both sides smoke, and we have no grounds to ask them to stop on their own property.

    6. Clare*

      If you don’t want to start with a request, maybe you could begin the conversation with asking them if there’s a time they know they won’t be smoking? If you’re lucky they might say that they always eat breakfast inside from 7:30-8:30 (or something) and that would be a good time for you to seize the chance to air out your house. They might not have any suggestions, but offering to shift your schedule first before asking them to move shows good faith, and that you’re genuinely just looking for a workable solution – rather than trying to punish them for being smokers (not that you are, but they’ll have met many people who would).

      1. Likes fresh air*

        That’s a good idea! I was thinking I would start with asking if there were any times they were sure to be down smoking, like after mealtimes, but the other way round sounds, like you said, as a good faith conversation. I feel like if I also tell them how anxious I’ve become about opening my windows will help offset irritation.

        1. JSPA*

          you don’t need to share information they could leverage in bad faith, to make a request in good faith.

          More relevant would be a counter offer–“and let me know if there are times when you’d like me to be extra quiet, or anything like that, in return.”

    7. Catherine*

      No solutions here but sending sympathy–I live across the street from a bar whose customers come smoke directly under my window so that they’re not crowding the entrance to smoke. I often spend nights fantasizing about how satisfying it would feel to fire a super soaker directly downward from the window.

      1. Likes fresh air*

        Ooof, that is much worse with a crowd! Do you read notalwaysright? You might get some glee from one of the newer stories. I’ll post link in reply,

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “Hey y’all, would you mind giving me a quick heads up (via text/hollering up if you see the window open) before you light up so I can close the window? I’ve been pretty sensitive to smoke lately and trying to keep my allergies down. Really appreciate it”

    9. JSPA*

      asking to have a couple of half hour windows, during which they will at least warn you if they’re dying for a smoke, seems pretty reasonable to me!

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had a neighbor who did that. He also idled his car for 30 min straight every morning at 5:30. His car that was parked in front of all three of our bedroom windows. Oh and the cigarette butts always ended up on my lawn somehow.

      My parents (it was long ago when dad was still alive and they were in their early 70s and spry enough to come over to my house every day), against my warnings not to do it, went to ask him if he could park or idle his car somewhere else. He said it was a silly request and that they couldn’t tell him what to do in his own driveway. I never asked again. Lived next to him for 11 years before I sold the house. Checked the buyers out on FB and the husband was a BIG guy that did manual labor. I hope my buyers had better luck talking to that neighbor than I did.

      But I would definitely go and ask them. Most people aren’t ridiculous bullies like my old neighbor, and will understand.

  22. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

    Where are they when they’re smoking? Like, on a balcony directly under yours? Is there somewhere else they could go?

    Strongly feel you on the eternal dilemma of “my neighbour is annoying but I can’t really see a basis on which I can get them to stop doing the thing”

    1. Likes fresh air*

      I’m on the second floor. The one on the first floor goes down to street level and smokes there under my bedroom window. The one on the ground floor has a separate entrance and sits on that, under my kitchen window.
      There’s a walled in garden/lawn connected to our building. There’s even a picnic table they can sit at. So it’s not like they have to walk more than 10-20 steps.
      The one on the ground floor definitely notices me opening my window, looking down and rapidly closing it again.
      The one smoking on street level is blissfully ignorant and not on the property.

        1. Sloanicota*

          “I’m so sorry, could I possibly ask you to smoke over there” is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask a neighbor, and even if they don’t do it it’s hard to picture any ill-feeling coming out of that request.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Yes! Definitely “could I ask you to move a little way over, the smoke gets in through my windows” (or similar) is merited. Good luck!

            1. Likes fresh air*

              Thanks for the scripts! I can’t really imagine yelling it two stories down, but I can ask them the next time I meet them.

              1. Sloanicota*

                Does it seem impossible to go downstairs and politely ask them the next time this happens? I sympathize, as I have trouble advocating for myself also. Perhaps if you decide to grab your coat and bag and seem to be just passing through on your way somewhere else, so you’re catching it right at the moment it’s happening?

  23. The Prettiest Curse*

    We had the “100 miles” part of this conversation in last weekend’s open thread, so let’s have the “100 years” companion discussion this weekend.
    There’s no right or wrong answer to this question – so, how old does a building have to be before you think of it as truly old? For me, the answer is early 19th century (1800s). Anything more recent just doesn’t seem that old to me.

    I think people’s answers will vary a lot depending on where you live, including which region of your country you live in. Even though I live in a new house, my city (UK) has a lot of historic buildings, (including a couple of 12th-century buildings that are still in regular use), so this skews my perspective. I’m really interested to see how people answer this one!

    1. AGD*

      This is something I’ve thought about! I grew up in two towns, sequentially, that were both almost all 20th century, though for different reasons. Had my mind blown when I moved to a large city that easily predated both, then had my mind blown AGAIN when I spent a summer in Europe. Visited one hometown after that and the whole thing felt like a brand-new generic suburban development with no relevance to human history whatsoever (beyond the two or three half-hearted glances in the direction of the local indigenous population), and the “historical” plaques on buildings from like 1910 made me think “oh, that’s cute.” I no longer have any good intuitions about what an “old” building is.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        While I was visiting Yosemite years ago, one of the small towns nearby had a plaque on a building that said it was one of the oldest buildings in the county. The building was from around 1850. My mother’s house in the UK was built around 1815, so I instantly thought “ha, this building is not that old!” But it’s old for that part of California, so it really is all relative.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      Also UK. I live in a modern building and my workplace is one of those bland midcentury corporate complexes with all the personality of an amoeba, but there’s an historic inn from the 14th century that remains an inn, I spent a night there once on a lark and the floor was tilted about ten degrees off from horizontal but I got to wonder who had stayed in the same room over 600 years or more. Astonishing.

    3. Awkwardness*

      I would say similar for me.
      Baroque architecture feels old. Everything younger than that… modern.

    4. Anima*

      I live in a house from 1926 and I think that’s new build (it’s not, even in Europe). Also, my town was funded early 1800’s and I always think, “oh that’s way, [town] isn’t old enough”, which is stupid because it’s more than 300 years old.
      Where I get the “that’s reeaaaallly old” is buildings from before 1000 (mille anni passi sunt) and geology.
      But then I studied history and a lifetime of humans really *is* short, so my perspective might even be more screwed…

    5. Lexi Vipond*

      Pre-Georgian, I think. We’ve got a Georgian town centre, and although there are obvious differences from modern buildings, it’s still all straight lines and carefully shaped stone and so on.

      Significantly earlier and you tend to see the assorted shapes of the individual stones used in the walls, maybe different lintel sizes based on what stones were available, odd corners and different floor levels inside the buildings, things like that.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I work in a building that is Georgian, and I do consider that to be old, mostly because of the damp, hah! My house was built in 1930 and it really surprises me when some people (not a lot, it has to be said) consider that to be old. It’s a council house; council houses are not old!

    7. Gracie*

      I used to live in what I mentally classed as “older houses” – pre-war, anywhere from 1840s-1940s, like one terrace row had a plaque dating them to 1863. The classic old city terraces that apparently are nearly 40% of all British housing stock. But I wouldn’t call them truly old – they’re ubiquitous, and I’m fully expecting one of them to be the house I buy as my first home ownership, as is the case for almost everyone else I know. If it wasn’t for the abysmal insulation and the awkward positioning of most bathrooms (a hangover from housing having outhouses) then I wouldn’t see any reason to even think about their age

      I go ooh, that’s OLD for…earlier than the 1800s for domestic housing, but probably earlier than the 1500s for non-housing buildings. If it’s a church, I’d only be surprised by its age if it started with a 12 or earlier – my hometown’s Minster had its building interrupted by the Black Death for half a century or so! I definitely still recognise them as old buildings but I expect them to be old, if that makes sense?

    8. Loopy*

      I’m in the US so for me anything before 1900 feels old but I am eternally jealous of other places in the world where much older buildings are common.

      I love the idea of being in a place that has hundreds of years of history. I don’t have the money or skills to live in an old house maintenance wise but I would love it so much if I did.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      Really old? Probably before 1800. 19th century buildings are old, but just…older houses. Not really interesting.

      My town is considered kinda newish because it was built during the Plantations of the 16th and 17th centuries rather than being an original Irish town.

    10. Panicked*

      I’m from the US, so my “old” is definitely not as old as other countries. I grew up in an old Victorian house built in 1898, so I’d say that’s my starting point. I also think that it depends on the condition of the building. If it’s built in 1950 but falling down, I’d still think of it as “old” but a building build in 1920 that’s been kept up wouldn’t necessarily get the “old” distinction for me.

    11. No Tribble At All*

      I’m from the US east coast (not New England) and I think any building started in the 1800s is old. That said, for a house? Anything pre-lead paint ban is Too Old. I don’t want to do lead paint and asbestos remediation on a house with no central heating and crappy insulation.

      (Then again, any apartments or townhouses built 2010+ are made of balsa wood with no interior sound insulation so you can’t win)

    12. Rosie*

      Living in Wellington, NZ I would consider anything 1920s or earlier old in a general sense. Anything pre the Treaty of Waitangi, so 1840, would be noticeably Old to me!

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Live in the US, had a 24 hour layover in London returning from our honeymoon and we were hosted by friends of my in-laws. Lovely people who took us to Bath for the day but apologized that it was not architecturally interesting, as most of it dated from the 1800s which is basically last week.

      Houses in my town built in the 1800s are historic preservation sites.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ha, I grew up near Canterbury, went to a school built at the same time as the cathedral, and Bath is literally my cut-off point for “old” (as in, Bath is old, Leeds is not)

    14. Buni*

      The house I grew up in was 1792 and it was just…the house, so I think I’d have to go beyond that to feel ‘old’. 1750 maybe.

    15. GoryDetails*

      Heh! I’ve run into this often. Lived in Wyoming for a while, where buildings from the 1800s are old/historic (because there were no permanent buildings before the 1800s). Now I live in New England, where some areas have buildings (and graveyards) from the 1600s; when I see a house with an 1800s “founded in” historic marker I think “newcomer!”.

      And then I visited London and Paris, and got to romp through areas with buildings founded in a 3-digit year, and stopped thinking of the New England sites as “old”.

      Haven’t been to Egypt yet {wry grin}.

    16. Lil Bee*

      I grew up in western Pennsylvania with buildings going back to 1740s. Moved to Texas and took a house tour in our town with “old” houses going all the way back to 1856.
      My husband grew up in the seacoast of New Hampshire where people are still living in houses built in 1600. Guess it’s all about your perspective.

      1. Awkwardness*

        That’s such an interesting point. Out is not necessarily only about the US in comparison to Europe, but also a lot of variety within the US.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yes, you don’t tend to get many buildings older than Victorian-era in California, but that’s definitely not the case in other parts of the US. The contrast to the UK was very bizarre to me when I first moved there!

    17. Clisby*

      I live in the US (but in Charleston, SC, where you’re likely to find homes much older than you would in, say, Chicago)

      I’d say 1850 or earlier? The houses here built in the 1700s obviously are older than that, but once you get to the Victorian period, I don’t think of it as “really old.”

    18. The Other Dawn*

      I’m in the US in the Northeast. When I lived in a house built in 1920, I thought it was old. But now that I live in a house built in 1735, I consider this one to be very old and the previous one to be “new construction” (kidding, kind of). We have many 18th and 19th century homes in my city, and a few around the corner from me are 17th century.

    19. goddessoftransitory*

      How interesting! Yes, to me it’s 100 years or more, even though something built the year I was born would be fifty years now (Well, fifty two if we’re being honest.)

      I have a big dividing line in my brain between “old” and “dated,” especially in regards to design/decor. The whole “stucco/stone” facade thing is permanently stamped “seventies” in my brain, for instance. But I don’t think of it as old.

      And then there’s the actual architectural and safety details–like, earthquake readiness, asbestos, handicapped accessible–so many of those things don’t occur until very, very recently.

    20. DistantAudacity*

      I’d say about turn of the century (19th to 20th) for me, in my city. There was a building boom just before then due to changing regulations, so there is a lot of old-ish buildings from 1870 – 1910. That makes them about 120 years old? Obviously there are older buildings as well.

      We don’t have a lot of really old buildings as they tended to be heavily wood based (maybe half-timbered), so were lost in city fires. The regulation changes were to mandate brick-based a bit further out from the then city center.

      Also, the appartment buikdings and such that went up from the 1920s onewards have a much more modern feel to them, even if they are getting on in years! (More mod cons, less quarters for servants, better design even for working class quarters)

      Am based in Norway!

    21. Can't Sit Still*

      Are we including buildings that are no longer occupied? If so, the oldest buildings I’ve visited in the US are the cliff dwellings at Verde Valley. Nothing later than that really feels “old” to me, occupied or not.

      However, according to my insurance company, my 50 year old condo is ancient, so everything is relative!

    22. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Sorry if this posts twice! I lived in a fourteenth-century building for a while, am also from the UK, basically Georgian or earlier seems old to me, Victorian or later is all “modern”. Very weird now being in Australia where super recent settler buildings are “historic sites” and we merrily go on ignoring or flat-out destroying ancient, ancient (like – thousands or TENS of thousands of years old) art and structures. See the Brewarrina fish traps or (if you have the energy for rage at the weekend) google Rio Tinto rock art.

    23. Unkempt Flatware*

      I live in Phoenix so I’d say I’d be super impressed by a building from the 1930s. Maybe even 1940s. By the 50s, folks had started moving here in droves.

    24. UsuallyALurker*

      West coast US. Basically nothing around here built by white people is older than the 1880s and those are considered historical sites. The college I went to was founded in 1890 and the oldest building on campus dates to 1894. But when I went to England and Scotland for a couple of months, things that same age felt almost new compared to most of the buildings around.

    25. David*

      I live in the US, currently in California but I grew up in New York, and off the top of my head I’d probably say “truly old” has to be earlier than 1810-ish. Or maybe like 1790. It’s hard to pin it down because I see building age as a spectrum, but I think somewhere around 1800 is the point where a building is old enough to be interesting (to me) just because of its age. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that that’s on the same order as the age of the US itself.

      There’s another threshold around the year 900 or so where the buildings get even more interesting because of their age, but of course I only get to use that one while traveling, since here in the US essentially nothing remains of whatever Native American buildings may have existed in that era.

    26. WorkingRachel*

      I live in Chicago and the threshhold for “old” varies a lot depending on neighborhood or suburban vs. urban.

      My building is from 1889, and I would consider that “old.” But most buildings in my neighborhood are about that old. When I was house hunting, it was rare to find anything built later than about 1930 in my price range in the areas I was willing to live (city and inner suburbs). My ex for a while was insistent we needed to live somewhere built after 1980 and we were very hard pressed to find anything. There are a few neighborhoods in the city with a lot of new constructions, like the South Loop, but most neighborhoods are older construction with a few newer, and usually more expensive, condos thrown in.

      My family (other than me) lived in Texas for a long time, and their expectations around housing are very different. For them the norm is “new construction,” and they are willing to live very far outside of the city to find it.

    27. ThursdaysGeek*

      Our local school district thinks 25 years is old. They are always tearing down buildings and putting in new school buildings. I don’t get it – we don’t replace our houses every couple of decades!

  24. Ellis Bell*

    Is there a reliable method for making soup out of what ever vegetables you have to use up? I’m tired of throwing out vegetables and I just discovered that my fresh pasta trimmings are great at bulking out shop-bought soup, so now I want to make allthesoup. I grew up making stew with potatoes and carrots, so it’s vegetables like spinach and cabbage which have me a bit more timid.

      1. Firebird*

        It never occurred to me to pre-cook the vegetables. I like the other suggestions, also. I’m glad you asked this question.

    1. parsley*

      It’s hard to go wrong with frying veggies till caramelized, then adding them to chicken broth and some herbs. Not really compatible with slow cooking, though. You want to mostly cook the veggies through frying, not boiling. This really sweetens up cabbage. Spinach you just want to throw into the broth at the last couple of minutes. It doesn’t need more than a minute or two of cooking.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I usually don’t bother with the slow cooker for a random soup, because it’s hard to sauté stuff (which improves the flavour). My usual method is

      – put some oil in a big pot and heat
      – cut onions, sauté them. Add each vegetable and let sauté for a a couple of minutes before adding the next, in the following order: carrots, celery, baby corn, garlic, potato, zucchini, mushroom, cabbage, fresh tomato. Basically, harder to softer, with mushrooms near the end because they release a lot of liquid.
      – add your liquid, and canned tomatoes if you’re using those.
      – simmer for about half an hour
      – add vegetables like canned corn, green beans, chopped spinach, canned beans or chickpeas at this point, plus any herbs.
      – simmer for about half an hour more.
      – add the fresh pasta trimmings, and cook until done.

      1. fposte*

        I second this method. I don’t put in all those vegetables (not sure whether AcademiaNut was saying they did or just noting when the veg round go in if they got used), but start with an onion sauté, then move to simmering the tougher veg, then add in the cooked or the very quick cooking. I use chicken broth in a carton as the liquid and sometimes throw in chicken meat, maybe from a rotisserie chicken or just leftovers. Sometimes I’ll throw in rice at the end instead of pasta.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I recommend Adam Ragusea’s video on youtube called “the SHOCKING SECRET to great veggie soup”. (Ignore the clickbait-y title please, it actually is a decent video.) Not so much a recipe (though it is that too) as a philosophy of soup.

    4. Jay*

      Experiment with unflavored gelatin in soups. It thickens things up wonderfully without impacting flavor at all.
      Experiment with different stocks (mushroom vs. vegetable vs. beef vs. chicken, etc.).
      Adding things like good beer in darker, richer soups and stews.
      Also, from past personal experience, spinach in WONDERFUL in a good chicken or mushroom soup. Or a chicken AND mushroom soup, witch is even better.

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      There’s also the homemade vegetable stock option. Boiling pretty much any combination of old-but-not-rotten veggies, stems, leaves, etc along with an onion and some garlic can yield a pot of stock you can use for a yummy base for other cooking.

    6. Not A Manager*

      In my opinion, you can put any vegetable into a soup that is already vegetables. What I mean is, if you’re making split pea soup, or bean and barley soup, maybe you need to think a bit before you throw in your leftover succotash. But if you’re making something like chicken with carrots and celery in broth, go ahead and toss in whatever you have left. Cabbage and/ or spinach would be delicious.

      My only caveat is certain stinky veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus don’t play well with others if you use too much of them or cook them for too long. If you have leftover stinky veggies (I use the term affectionately), cook them lightly separately from your soup (you can just steam them until crisp in the microwave, or par boil them), and then add a little bit to your serving of soup once you’ve ladled it out.

      On the other hand, broccoli and cauliflower make an excellent soup singly or in combination as a partially pureed cheesy soup. There are a million recipes online.

    7. Miss Buttons*

      I just keep a few cartons of soup stock on hand. Chop up the extra veggies and throw those and leftover pasta or rice in, simmer for a few hours, add seasonings, maybe some meat, soup’s on! Freezes well too.

    8. My Brain is Exploding*

      If you toss a bunch of stuff together and it isn’t quite right, you can add “better than bouillon” a little at a time. You can also top your soup with some good cheese. You can thicken your soup using an immersion blender or by adding instant potato flakes. If in a pinch, and the soup is OK, but just seems to be lacking something, you can – horrors – add a can of cream of chicken or cream of vegetable soup (the condensed kind, without adding additional liquid). This has saved a couple of soups I made on the fly!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Stuff everything and the bones into a soup bin in the freezer until you have enough to make broth. I’d avoid stinky veg like broccoli & cabbage —save those for putting in later.

    10. KathyG*

      Try throwing in a handful of lentils: split red ones for a bit of thickening, or whole green/brown ones if you like discrete bits. They don’t need soaking, and cook in 10-15 minutes.

  25. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    Mark Bittman has a recipe for cream or whatever vegetable soup which basically is cooking vegetables in broth until tender then purée with some heavy cream. For cabbage though or dark leafy greens I’d probably lean more towards a tomato broth based or minestrone type soup.

  26. Crackerjack*

    I want to share some recipe recommendations just because I have been so pleased to find these and hope someone else will be too!

    1. microwave mug cakes by Tinned Tomatoes blog – omg these have been GAME CHANGING for me.
    I already knew how to make microwave sponge puddings because my mum taught me but in a full size pudding basin, for a family and they don’t reheat well so I didn’t make them much.

    The combination of single serving and using only spoons to measure the ingredients means that I have made one of these at least once a week for a few months, often 3 or 4 times a week. Warning, the portions are LARGE. I can eat a whole one because I’m both breastfeeding and greedy but if you have a small appetite you might want to halve the recipe.

    2. Chinese recipes by Nagi on Recipe tin eats – this is the first time I have made a recipe at home and it actually tastes like takeaway. And was simple to make. I’m so pleased with it!

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      I absolutely love Recipe tin eats. There’s a recipe on there for no-knead artisanal bread that is my absolute go-to for easy fresh bread.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Nagi’s book is wonderful too! Lots of pictures of Dozer, her ancient dog. Adorable. Oh, and the recipes are amazing. She has a stuffed butternut squash that is a great main dish for a vegetarian Thanksgiving.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Sharing a main dish salad I’ve been making a lot. It’s made with cabbage, so you can actually have the leftovers the next day.

      Crunchy Mango and Avocado Salad

      Dressing:
      2 T tahini
      2 T lemon juice
      1 T oil (I use avocado)
      2 T soy sauce
      2 tsp minced ginger
      1 tsp honey
      1/2 tsp garlic powder

      Salad
      6 cups thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
      2 cups thinly sliced radicchio
      handful chopped cilantro
      handful chopped mint
      2 chopped scallions
      1 chopped mango
      1 chopped avocado, toss with lime so it doesn’t discolor
      1/2 cup cashews

      Mix the dressing ingredients. (I use a mini chopper.)
      Mix the greens and mango, add dressing, and toss. Dump on platter and scatter with mango and avocado.

      You can add chicken or other protein, but I find the cashews are plenty.

    3. BookMom*

      A mom’s group I was in years ago used to give mugs with the measured dry ingredients for mug cake + recipe card on birthdays. It was just one serving and it was just for you. So many women cried because they were the Invisible Creators of Birthday Magic for their families, and if they did perchance even get a cake on their own birthday it was usually mauled by their kids.

  27. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I am traveling Thanksgiving weekend, but we are hosting some friends from my husband’s Star Wars tabletop gaming group for a Life Day feast earlier in November. Most of the menu is sorted out, but I’m not thrilled with my veggie maybes: roasted green beans, glazed carrots, braised leeks. That all sounds boring :P I know I want some sort of salad for sure as well. Our main limitations are no cilantro, peanuts or walnuts, and my husband has asked can we NOT have green been casserole, haha. (I also have mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes on the menu for sure, but I filed those under carbs, not veggies.)

    Veggie dish recipes/suggestions please! Hot or cold! Weird is encouraged, we can just make up a Star Wars name for it! :)

    1. Panicked*

      I love a good harvest salad. I make one with shaved brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds, honeycrisp apple, roasted butternut squash, some feta (or other crumbly cheese), dried cranberries and a nice apple cider vinaigrette. It’s always a crowd pleaser.

    2. miel*

      I really like Korean style bean sprouts, with garlic, scallions, and sesame oil. I like it both as a component of bibimbap and on its own.

      Recipe link incoming, but you can search for this on the blog Pickled Plum: Korean Bean Sprout Salad (Sookju Namul)

    3. Alex*

      Google Epicurious’ Spring Greens and Leek gratin. I know it says spring, but it doesn’t actually feel that “springy” and you can use garlic instead of ramps and pretty much any greens you like. I usually do just garlic and all spinach.

      It is fabulous and great for a special occasion.

    4. Once too Often*

      There’s a fantastic “corn pudding” recipe (it’s a baked dish, not a pudding per se but definitely dairy based) on the Washington Posts recipe finder! First time I made it we were arguing over who got the last piece. Recipe theoretically serves 4. This may fall more under your carbs category.

      Brussel spouts. So many ways to cook them but I was converted by a friend cooking them in bacon fat & then chopping up the bacon & stirring that in. There are days I hardly wait to get home to fry some up in butter & eat them all myself.

      Broccoli. Barely cooked, with lemon butter. Simple & a contrast to the richness of many holiday foods. Just be sure the florets are decidedly green. If they are hinting at purple they are past prime.

      Now I’m hungry!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve done corn pudding for Thanksgivings past, but I don’t remember how it went over, I’ll have to ask around :)

        I once bet my hardcore carnivore brother five bucks that I could get him to not only eat Brussel sprouts but ask for seconds. I cooked them in bacon grease and stirred in the chopped bacon and some parmesan cheese. He told me that was cheating as he handed me the five bucks and took his second serving. :D

        1. MJ*

          My mom has made a Brussel sprouts dish that my sprouts hating uncle had three servings of before figuring it out.

          It’s a bit fiddly as you have to separate the leaves (though much faster once we chopped in half and cut the core out instead of peeling each leaf!). The leaves are then sautéed in butter with a tablespoon of maple syrup and some chopped dried apricots. There might have been a few other ingredients (salt & pepper?), but those were the important ones.

    5. Jay*

      Roast squash is a favorite.
      Some of the better tasting ones look positively unearthly, as well.
      Look into some of your really strange looking fruit. For instance, Fingered Citron/Buddha’s Hand is very, very tasty and is very often used as an “Alien” fruit in TV, movies, and video games. There are all manner of strange melons and such available at just regular super markets and much more interesting stuff if you have various ethnic specialty stores in your area. What’s available online these days is staggering.
      With a little bit of effort and food coloring, you should be able to turn regular coconuts into something closely resembling the Tatooine Black Melons from The Book Of Boba Fett. Coconuts used, of course, because they are naturally full of (very tasty) water. You can fill any hollow fruit/vegetable you like with whatever liquid you like. For instance, cut a hole in a small melon, make a cavity in the center (leaving plenty of actual melon) and fill the cavity with fruit juice (or maybe even something like sangria if that’s more to your tastes). Add black food coloring on the outside (or just wrap in something like particularly dark colored Nori). Boom! Even tastier Tatooine Black Melons that your friends will be talking about for years!

    6. Jay*

      Oh! Also, if you haven’t yet, try posting this on r/Star Wars over on Reddit. You’ll likely get some really wild recommendations there.

    7. Reba*

      Sounds fun!

      My fave way to do green beans is blanched then stir fried with garlic.

      I also love roasted cauliflower, it carries spices or chili blends so beautifully. Example, cauliflower rubbed with ras el hanout, roast, serve sprinkles with crumbled goat cheese, sumac, pomegranate and a dash of lemony dressing. Cauliflower steaks rubbed with harissa or chili paste, I feel like these could be styled in a spacey way…

      You could do some veggie combination in a roasting pan for all in one prep. Here is one from Rukmini Iyer inspired by South indian dry curries:
      1 pound carrots cut into long thin sticks
      1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
      1 cauliflower, broken or cut into smallish florets
      2 T veg oil
      2 inches fresh ginger, grated
      4 tsp mustard seed
      1 tsp turmeric
      1 tsp chili powder
      15 fresh curry leaves
      3 tsp sea salt or to taste
      Juice of lemon or lime
      Note: I add whole coriander and cracked black pepper to this. If no curry leaves, use a couple bay leaves and add lime zest at the end. I also like it with onion, but it may need less roasting time than the other veg.
      Mix everything together in large roasting pan(s), adding more oil if needed to coat (but not overwhelm) the veggies. Roast at 425 for 25-30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, squeeze citrus juice over, and serve with yogurt or coconut yogurt.

      1. Reba*

        Oh! I have an idea to do a Tunisian dish in honor of Tataouine! (I am also obsessed with Tunisian food)
        the cauliflower thing with harissa and chermoula — can do the chermoula with all parsley or with other herbs instead of cilantro
        roasted carrots with cinnamon and sumac
        Ojja or shukshuka — with a lot of greens added can be nice
        I would not commit to doing real-deal couscous on a day when I had other things to cook… but you could easily do an adaptation with roasted veggies, winter squash chunks served on top of box couscous

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I think harissa-glazed roasted cauliflower with chermoula is gonna make the list for sure, thank you!!

          1. Pippa K*

            We make roasted carrots with harissa – so good it’s our go-to carrot recipe when we have guests. 3 tablespoons harissa paste, 2 each of olive oil and maple syrup, a little salt and garlic. Toss the carrots in this and roast as usual, then top with some chopped pistachios at the end. You can adjust the harissa for more or less heat. Easy and always a hit.

    8. Jm*

      Trees and raisins salad with bacon( or cranberries instead of raisins). Broccoli, dried fruit, bacon and sunflower kernels or nuts in a light mayo and vinegar dressing.

    9. mreasy*

      I love a fennel and orange salad for winter! Zesty and fresh but still seasonal. Bittman has a good recipe IIRC but they are reasonably findable online as well.

    10. GoryDetails*

      For a cold salad, maybe a Jamaican slaw? (There are lots of recipes for this, some featuring lightly-cooked cabbage and some raw – I prefer the lightly-cooked version myself.) Tangy sweet-sour dressing, with optional heat – I first found this dish while looking for things to do with habanero peppers, and adding one to a big batch of slaw added just enough heat for me.

    11. Two Dog Night*

      No suggestions, but did you know there’s a Life Day cookbook? I got it as a Christmas present a few years ago. It’s brilliant–and the recipes are generally cookable.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have it, yep! The glazed kod’yok is really good and will be one of our feast day entrees :) I’m also going to adapt the roasted tip-yip recipe to a big pile of drumsticks rather than a whole bird.

    12. allx*

      Sugar Snap Peas with Toasted Pine Nuts

      Cut snap peas into roughly 1″ pieces and set aside.
      Add pine nuts to a hot, dry skillet and stir or shake until toasted, taking care not to scorch or burn them. Remove pinenuts from pan to small dish or prep bowl.
      To same skillet, add some olive oil and a clove or two of garlic and heat up. When hot, toss in snap peas and stir around until cooked and colorful, and still a bit crunchy, roughly 3 or 4 minutes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
      Add toasted pine nuts back in, stir to combine, then decant into serving dish.
      Serve immediately.

      Amounts are according to how much you need. Use roughly 2-3 tablespoons of pine nuts per 8 oz bag of sugar snap peas. An 8 oz bag of fresh snap peas serves about 4. Look for snap peas that are already trimmed and string-less for easy prep.

      This sounds too simple to be good but it is always everyone’s favorite vegetable. Snap peas are more interesting than green beans, and hold their shape and crispness if you don’t over-cook or leave covered on the stove too long. The dish comes together quickly once you have toasted the pine nuts (which you can do ahead of time), so you can wait until the last second to cook the beans.

    13. SofiaDeo*

      Are cashews also prohibited? I have adapted many recipes calling for milk/cream using cashew milk, and coconut oil instead of butter, so they often end up vegan as well.

      If you can get actual fresh mild chilies like poblano and/or ancho, those chopped into a Mexican style salad with beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes is also very tasty. I use scallion or green onion unless I can find Vidalia, because raw red or white is often overpowering/people dislike it. I guess you could use canned mild chilies if fresh aren’t available, but make sure they are mild. You can have a side dish of some jalapeno for those who prefer really spicy Mexican style.

      1. carcinization*

        Anchos are dried poblanos (i.e., a poblano chile is dried to make an ancho chile), did you mean some other kind of fresh chile as a second pepper option?

    14. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Corn with chopped red and green peppers and shallots, then mixed with barbecue sauce – I use the Sweet Baby Ray Hickory one, but any sweet/tangy one would do. it can be served cold as a salad or as a dip for scooper corn chips, or heated for a veggie dish.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        And if you don’t have vegetarians or vegans on the guest list, bacon crumbles make the corn thing even better.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      Is pasta okay? I have a great jalepeno pesto over angel hair pasta dish–really spicy! You will need a blender/food processor for it, and it does contain almonds.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Pasta can be ok! My husband is gluten intolerant but has already assured me that he’s fine with not everything on the table being edible for him as long as he knows what’s safe (because most of it will be), plus we have some decent GF pasta options we can swap in. And that dish sounds right up his alley, even if we don’t use it for this event :)

    16. Donkey Hotey*

      Root Roast. Chop carrots, onions, yams, and potatoes. Toss with oil and add an onion soup package plus some cayenne. Glass pan in a 400 over for 25-30 minutes.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      do people like mushrooms?
      a favorite medieval recipe “leekes and fungys”, versions of which show upon various websites.

    18. Chauncy Gardener*

      The below recipe is so easy and delicious. People who say they don’t like squash often love this dish. I hope you like it!
      Butternut Squash and Winter Pear Bake
      1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced about 1/2″ thick
      2 pears ( I usually use 3 or 4), peeled, cored and sliced 1/2″ thick
      1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
      2 T butter
      1/2 c sliced or slivered almonds

      Preheat over to 350F.
      In a baking dish, layer squash and pears slices. Sprinkle the top with the sugar, dot with butter and sprinkle with almonds
      Bake uncovered for about an hour, until you can pierce the squash clean through.

  28. Crackerjack test!*

    I need some help or maybe just commiserations on how to manage/react to my daughter’s emotions .

    She’s 7, with a 3 year old brother and 8 month old sister, for context.

    She is a huge drama queen and I’m struggling to be around her at the moment. She overreacts to things to the point where it’s very hard not to laugh and then increasingly, hard not to snap at her or send her to her room.
    Example: I threw some pictures/crafts away yesterday while the kids were at school. I am myself pretty darn sentimental and it would not take much for me to stash away every single thing my precious ones have ever made for me, but I know I have hoarding tendencies and my husband is already exasperated with how much stuff I do keep, so I was trying to be practical. I was clearing the kitchen whiteboard which has stuff pinned up (to make room for new stuff) and I considered a picture she had made for me about 2 weeks ago. I nearly didn’t toss it because a) it was only 2 weeks old
    b) it was the first one she’d done for me for a long time, as she’s been out of drawing for months after being obsessed with it for years before that.
    but I decided it wasn’t so unique or special that I could justify keeping it. Wrong call.

    She found it in the bin and began wailing that someone had thrown it out, I said yes it was me (sympathetically!) and explained why, she was very distressed, asked if it could be saved, when I said no got even more distressed and angry. I validated her feelings, said I’d made the wrong decision and not deliberately upset her so much, apologised, cuddled her. She was furious and kept talking about how angry she was/wailing/crying. It took a good 20 mins for her to calm down enough to do anything else or stop talking about it. And we were actually on a deadline at the time!
    The thing is, this is not a once in a while or even a once a day occurance. That was quite an extreme instance but we have tears, wails, announcements that she is so angry, that she hates (whatever – us, her brother, an inanimate object) and it is STUPID and it’s SO AWFUL and and and multiple times a day. And often about stuff where the problem is much less obvious e.g. her brother doesn’t want to share something (why should he?) or I ask her to get out of the car (why shouldn’t I?)

    I can think of multiple reasons why she might be feeling all her feelings on high – her new baby sister and my corresponding less-availability, change in friendship dynamics at school, copying her friends behaviour/characters in books, her dad’s emotional state (he suffers from depression and anxiety and has been in a bad patch for the last year, making him both less emotionally available and shorter tempered). I get it and I want so much to help her through it. My patenting is of the ‘gentle’, ‘How to Talk so Little Kids can Listen’ school and I’ve always parented her that way but at the same time… I do not have minutes and minutes to gently explore her feelings and their resolution for every routine instruction or bump in her day. Her brother (and me!) do not deserve to be berated for every thing we do that she doesn’t prefer. I don’t know how to tell her that she is over-emoting and stop the firehose without sending the message that her feelings or needs are not important or valid.

    I feel like I’ve created a monster and backed myself into a corner. Help!

    1. Blythe*

      I have found Robyn Gobbel’s podcast (The Baffling Behavior Show) SO helpful! Maybe it will help you too?

    2. ThatGirl*

      Disclaimer: I am not a parent.

      I have two thoughts. First is that she is at the age where she can start to work out some of this on her own. You can validate her feelings but not linger on them: I’m sorry, sweetie, I didn’t realize that picture was so important to you. I’m sorry you’re upset, but I need to do X so why don’t you cuddle your stuffed animal until you feel better? (Adjust as needed)

      Second is to set aside something special for just you and her, maybe once a week, so she doesn’t feel forgotten. A walk to the park? Playing a simple board game? Going for hot chocolate? You get the idea.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Three drove me BONKERS. Definitely my least favorite year of my kid’s development. Also a very stressful time for our family with some major losses – somewhat equivalent if not precisely the same as what your daughter is experiencing. And I suspect her dad (also your partner?) is less available to and also short-tempered with you, which makes this so.much.harder. I realize you don’t have time for much – it’s so important to try and fill your own cup and also almost impossible at this stage of life.

      She’s reaching the end of her rope all the damn time and it’s too much for one parent to handle. There are huge developmental leaps at three and usually group settings – school and daycare – expect more autonomy, which means she has used up everything she has before she ever gets home to her. She will get through it. She will find ways to manage her feelings and this incredibly difficult phase will pass. If you don’t need her to get dressed or get out of the house, you can validate her feelings once, calmly tell her that you will be happy to do xyz with her once she has got herself in hand and that you know she can figure this out, and move on with whatever you need to do. A friend of mine used to tell her kids “you can have this scene but not in this space.” Feelings are always valid. Behavior is not. “Of course you’re angry. We all get angry. It’s OK to feel angry and you will get through that. It’s not OK to be mean to your brother/hit me/call people names.”

      If you do need her to go somewhere, then she goes. Feelings are valid and she still needs to get in the car, get out of the car, do whatever. Maybe she gets in the car without her shoes on. Maybe she goes to school in her PJs. She won’t be the first.

      I loved “Becoming the Parent You Want to Be” which shares the same basic philosophy as the “Learning to Listen…” books and also has more specific and helpful strategies for values-based parenting.

      Good luck. It will get better but boy howdy does it suck right now.

    4. Heidi*

      Sadly no advice but I do remember being her age and seeing a bunch of [old stuff I hadn’t really cared about] in the trash bin outside and hopping up, dangling over the edge and digging it out. How it didn’t end in a crash I have no idea but I was UPSET and let my mother know. It was such a betrayal. Now that I am older we laugh about it. But that was just one instance and I have no experience with the rest of her behaviours.
      If you ever want to throw something else out, maybe don’t send her out with the trash so she sees it? And make sure that it is /your/ stuff, not something that was ever hers.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Wait! I totally misread this! I thought she was the three-year-old. She’s seven. Ah.

      So she is totally old enough for a convo at a calmer time to check in with her. You can totally validate her feelings and be empathic and ask her what she thinks would help in those moments. What does she need? Does she need a snack right when she gets home from school? Does she need some quiet time on her own (not time-out or punishment – more a chance to take a deep breath and reset)? You have spent seven years building a trusting relationship with her and now she is ready to have more autonomy over managing her feelings and behaviors.

      It may also help to look for resources on mindfulness for kids. There are some very straightforward and simple things you can do with kids to focus on breath and learn to self-regulate. Check out mindful dot org for some ideas.

      And if her dad is in any kind of treatment or therapy some family therapy or play therapy for her may be really helpful – I know, I know, you don’t have time but maybe his therapist can hook you up. I’m not suggesting she’s mentally ill. Therapy can be tremendous support for people of all ages.

      1. Crackerjack*

        Thank you for your empathetic responses, especially the first one! I wanted to laugh because of course it seems like she would be 3, then this would all make sense. The thing is she wasn’t like this at 3! and her 3 year old brother isn’t like this (although he is now starting to copy her, another reason I need to nip it in the bud). But thank you, for recognising what I didn’t, that having my husband/her dad emotionally unavailable and tetchy has made me less able to deal as well.

        We are both, indeed, reaching the end of our rope all too soon.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Seven is such a hard age–there really is a huge amount of cognitive gain in understanding physical stuff, without a corresponding match in emotional or mental equilibrium, ugh. I can still remember things upsetting me at that age that never bothered me before, and I grew out of (thankfully) later.

          I would say things to keep in mind around her meltdowns are: she’s getting that things are impermanent, and that’s really bothering her (what do you mean, there’s no magical room where you store every macaroni and paste picture she’s ever made???) because it makes her feel helpless (she can’t protect all the macaroni pictures.) Naturally she doesn’t have the words or mental space to grasp this beyond I’M UPSET!

          Then that spills over into “this is how I cope” with everything from getting out of the car to finishing her soup, and there’s a groove she follows without being aware of it. (Unfortunately, this may have been inadvertently modeled for her a bit by your husband’s difficulties.)

          I’m not a parent, but I do recall the relief of being listened to by adults at that age (not that they obeyed my demands, of course, but I got that they understood I was upset) did help me unhook from the worst of the meltdown since I didn’t have to double down to get “heard.” It’s perfectly reasonable to say something like “I know you’re upset, but you do need to get out of the car and we’ll talk about this inside. Take a deep breath and let’s go.”

    6. Generic Name*

      Do you ever spend time one on one with her? Just the two of you with no siblings or dad present? Honestly, it sounds like she’s starving for parental attention and is getting it in the only way she knows how. Is your husband able to care for your other two children on his own? If so, you could do a special mommy daughter date on a weekend. If your husband is not able to do that, would you be able to take a day off work and pull her out of school and play hookie?

      If you can’t carve out a whole day, could you leave your other kids at home with dad and take her grocery shopping or other errands? I loved going to the hardware store with my dad because it was one on one time with him. I’m sure you realize that simply saying “you are over emoting” won’t have the desired effect (it doesn’t work with adults either). I truly believe that kids are behaving the best that they can, and when a kid is unusually misbehaved, there’s something that they need that they aren’t getting. She might just need some extra attention and maybe some tools to help her regulate her emotions. I think it’s helped my son to hear me say things like, “I’m feeling really stressed, so I’m going to take a bath and have some alone time in my bedroom to help me feel better” or whatever. We talk about how having emotions is normal, but as we grow into adults, we have to be able to manage them. He’s now almost 17, so it’s been a series of discussions over the years that have evolved as he’s matured. Also, you might consider some therapy for yourself. You are a caregiver for 3 children and your husband, and caregiver burnout is real.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        This was my gut feeling as well. It sounds like she’s feeling unheard and unappreciated.
        She’s at an age where she’s dealing with a lot and this is a time when you want to connect rather than shut down.
        Take her along 1:1 while you do other stuff. With my kids, getting them in the car was – and still is – the best way to get my kids to talk with me. Let them pick the topics, and listen, listen, listen. Talk maybe a tenth of the time she talks, unless she’s asking for advice. Do this, even if it’s NOT the “big issues” (from your perspective, anyway. What seems little to you is likely big to her and don’t dismiss her concerns because you don’t think they’re all that big)
        I know you’re busy and overwhelmed, but blowing off her concerns and trying to get her to just be quiet and less needy is not going to work out well long term.

      2. Crackerjack*

        I agree with the concept that all behaviour is communication and I think you’re right that attention is probably the answer… I just don’t see how to do that really. Our lives are pretty full and my husband’s ill health combined with other things (my mum’s health, for example) means that I am never really alone. The baby is with me almost 24/7. So the time with my daughter I do try to carve out is always with the caveat that baby is there as well – which 7 year old is very gracious about as a rule (she loves her sister) but of course is not the same.

        She has been better today, and I do think exhaustion from school is a big part of it. The thing is even things like offering her a snack/ some downtime in front of TV immediately after school will not help when the problem’s start even before we get home e.g. I did not load her bag into the car to her liking, she does not want to carry her own lunchbox in from the car to the house. Meanwhile my little three year old is calmly and cheerfully obeying and my actual baby is screaming to get out of the car seat and I find it very hard to be empathetic.

        1. Double A*

          I also want to say I see that advice to provide undivided attention and I have a kid for whom no amount of attention would ever fill her cup. When I see the advice that’s like, “Give them 15 focused minutes!” I laugh.

          Also! You are not responsible for all her behavior. Do your best to have preventative strategies (basically making sure physiological needs are met) but it sort of sounds like you blame yourself that she ever gets deregulated. It sounds like there could be a couple spots you can troubleshoot but even if you did it all “perfectly” it sounds like she’s going to have big emotions somewhat regularly. I just want to say that because I see so many Moms thinking they’re responsible for every way their kid acts at all times.

          And also, can her dad give her some of that 1:1 attention when you’re in full baby mode?

          1. Crackerjack*

            I do feel responsible. Her emotions weren’t all over the place like this when she was younger so I can’t help feeling there must be something wrong that they are now. But perhaps this is just a stage she has to go through.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              It’s the oldest cliche’ in the book, but it really is her age, at least partly.

              Around seven is a huge cognitive leap forward in grasping the reality of the physical world, but unfortunately that doesn’t correspond with an equal mental/emotional balance. So she’s getting the impermanence of objects, but not that there’s no magical cottage to store all her drawings she’s ever made.

              Basically, she’s taking EVERYTHING personally.

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            This. This is not your fault and it’s not your job to fix it. She will fix it – she will absolutely figure this out – and you are giving her the tools to do that. I remember the first time my kid got into the car after school, starting to whine, and then stopped and said “I think I’m hungry.” I’d been saying “looks like you’re hungry” to that behavior for years (I think she was ten) and it felt like SUCH a huge win that she finally got it. Continue to provide the feedback, set some limits on name-calling or yelling *at* people, and trust that she’ll figure it out.

            Sounds like you need someone to take care of you.

          3. Rekha3.14*

            you and I have the same kid!! I could spend a week with just her and it wouldn’t be enough to fill her tank. That 15-20 mins focused a few times a week is so not working for us either.

            I thought I was crackerjack for a spell as I was reading – only I don’t have the baby (8yo, 3yo, and a hubby who is depressed and stressed going on likely 5 years now and ohhhh boy I just wanna run away and hid and worry about no one but me…. oops). anyway, eagerly following this thread for advice!! My 8yo is much the same.

            This too shall pass… this too shall pass.

            1. Crackerjack*

              I’m so sorry! I wish we could send them all on a fortnight’s wellness retreat so we could just breathe in our own homes! Strength to you x

            2. Just here for the scripts*

              Family story: I was the one who a shrink said “she needs more attention” about to my mom. When my mom almost burst into tears at the advice, the “talk doctor” said to her “oh dearie, I didn’t mean it had to be you. This is part of what grandparents, aunties, neighbors and afterschool activities are for.” Mom did connect me with groups and set up more one-on-one time with my-aged-friend, aunties and grandparent. And while not all the afterschool choices were a hit (or were drama-free), I did well and learned how to communicate better with—and sometimes just simply be with folks better.

              Also family story: my niece was about 7 when she started having some meltdowns about things she had no control over (thinking she was dressed too dressy/not dressy enough for a dinner out with us, sensitivity to hair combing, etc). Turns out we learn 5 years later that she’s on the spectrum and masking for girls is a BIG thing. Wish we had known some of the symptomology 5 years earlier and some coping techniques specific for ND girls. It would have been more helpful for her both at the time and as she went through her adolescence.

              So I guess im saying is that getting some outside professional assessments and advice might help.

        2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

          My goodness, you have a lot going on. Sounds like a lot of it is falling on you.

          It sounds like there are a couple things happening at once with your oldest, and I have a suggestion for just once piece. (My oldest is 6, so I’m not quite in your boat yet but getting there.)

          There are big feelings, and feelings aren’t right or wrong. They just are. But rudeness is not okay.

          My oldest was being quite rude sometimes. We had a family meeting where we talked about our family rule of kindness. I asked my son to make a sign about kindness. He drew something that represented kindness to him. I asked him to draw one for every room. We still need one for the car, lol. When he is rude, I point to the nearest sign and remind him of our family rule and remind him to speak kindly to me/his brother/etc. (It is really, really important to say the reminder calmly and kindly. Saying it angrily does not work.)

          Just one strategy. But something like this where you hold the line on rudeness might help in tandem with the other suggestions about attention from you and encouraging self-regulation.

          Hope your husband is getting some good help. Rooting for you all.

    7. PX*

      I feel like I’ve seen some great parenting tips here in the past, but I think she’s about the age where you can start trying to get her to self regulate better as it seems like now you are perhaps getting too drawn into it?

      I used to babysit kids younger than her where the parents had essentially already taught their kids how to go through the steps of “I’m upset and feeling X, I need to do Y to calm down, so I’m going to go do that until I feel better” and essentially the parents let the kid go off to cool down and then they could come back and have a discussion about it. It will probably be hard at first but should pay dividends down the line!

      (Caveat, they were also very good at just getting on with things even if child was crying and having a tantrum. They were generally of the “bad behaviour doesnt get attention” parenting style – so in your example, even if she was crying and wailing, if you had somewhere to be, their approach after the initial apology and validation from your end would have been “Okay yes, but you need to be “getting ready/brushing your hair/putting your shoes on/ now. I understand you are upset, but you still need to be doing this”. And then just…continuing to get ready and do whatever needs to be done. I see it as, yes your feelings are valid, but they also arent the only thing in the world. And in your case, her feelings shouldnt necessarily be taking precedence over everything else or other people (eg her siblings) – which..is something she will need to learn at some point?)

      But I am also a childfree person so feel free to take the above with a huge grain of salt!

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Magic Trees of the Mind by Diamond and Hopson. I cannot find my copy just now, but I looked and it’s available at my library, so out there.

      On brain development in kids, and I found it really helped when my oldest was Feeling All Her Feelings at maximum intensity. My recollection is that seven tends to be difficult, with “a patina of sadness.” There is a jump in awareness about the past and future at that age, I think–less living in the moment, more dwelling on what you can’t change in the past or fear in the future.

      1. Crackerjack*

        ‘a patina of sadness’ is ringing very true! it’s distressing for ME. She used to be such a happy kid, and I wasn’t expecting this melancholia until she was a teenager. Have you seen the film Inside Out? It does a lovely job of demonstrating how being happy all the time is not sustainable or healthy for children, as they grow. I maybe need to think on that.

      2. LivesinaShoe*

        The subtitle of the Ames and Ilg “Your Seven Year Old” is “Life in the minor key.” Sevens are total drama llamas – but it’s a good time to talk about learning self regulation.

        (Parent of a bunch of kids who are adults now; I loved all the Ames and Ilg books even if they’re a tiny bit dated.)

    9. Teacher teacher*

      Well, you’re not going to tell her THAT, I hope. That would be unkind and unhelpful as well as inaccurate. She is not over-emoting, she is emoting just as much as she needs to. It sounds like she is experiencing a lot of big emotions, which is completely understandable given everything you describe about her world, but she doesn’t yet have the skills to regulate her emotions, which is also understandable. It may be time to start teaching her some techniques to do that, rather than relying on you to coach her through it. Some conversations about things that make her feel better and ways to deal with her feelings might be in order. She might cuddle a lovey, punch a cushion, count to ten, listen to a favourite song, write stuff down or draw or colour in, do some exercises (jumping jacks, star jumps, running on the spot) to get some energy out, etc. Maybe spend some time coming up with a set of things together and set up some resources for them that she can access easily and independently. Then when she has an emotional reaction, you can acknowledge and affirm, then redirect to her toolkit or strategies.

      1. Double A*

        I actually disagree with this. She IS over emoting. Part of growing up is not spewing your feelings all over other people and expecting them to stop everything they’re doing and deal with them. And part of parenting is teaching kids to self-regulate. Timing is tricky, but I would argue 7 is on the late side to be teaching this.

        I think the gentle parenting “let’s name and talk about your emotions” approach is more appropriate for like 3-5. After that, kids should be starting to name their own emotions and employ some coping strategies (still with coaching and support, but it’s time to start transferring some responsibility).

        My oldest is a bit younger (5), but honestly I don’t put up with her screaming at me when she’s upset. That is not an okay to treat people around you and I’ll be firm telling her that. The fact that we almost never raise our voices means a firm tone cuts through and gets her attention. She can have big emotions, but if she’s not regulating pretty quickly I tell her she needs to take a break in her room. Her feelings are what they are, but if they’re about something, shall we say, bratty (usually turning off the TV) then she doesn’t get to use me as her punching bag.

        To the OP, it sounds like you’re spending too long helping her process. You can validate her feelings and also put the responsibility on her to regulate. Have you taught her strategies for calming down? Have you set a limit for how long she can storm and rage in a shared space before she needs to go to a quiet place and calm herself? A lot of times ANY input prolongs a tantrum, even (or especially) attempts at soothing. In a period of calm, have you tried problem solving with her about when she has big emotions?

        This sounds exhausting but I think she’s at an age when you can expect and require her to manage herself differently!

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          Hm.

          I’m a person who has had Big Emotions for basically my entire life, and I will tell you right now that my mom deciding that I was “dramatic” and “too much” as a child has had incredibly negative impacts on both my self-perception and our relationship. I’ve had to do a lot of work in therapy to get to the point where I don’t feel shame for feeling the way I feel about things.

          Invalidating and dismissing your child’s feelings (deciding that she’s “over emoting”) sure is a choice, and I really hope it doesn’t have the same consequences I’ve had to deal with.

        2. Crackerjack*

          I think the fact that suggestions to give her (or help her find) a toolkit of ways to manage her emotions keep coming up is probably pretty pertinent. I suppose I just never transitioned away from naming and validating emotions because it worked so well when she was 2 or 3 or 4! It works brilliantly with her 3 year old brother! So I’m still flogging that dead horse but she needs something more now. She’s no longer soothed by me talking with her like that, it just seems to amp her up.
          I have tried in the past to talk about things that might help e.g. punch a pillow, go out in the garden and scream, squeeze a stress ball, bang a drum- but that was mostly targeted specifically at preventing her hitting or shouting at her brother. Not wailing or crying at me.

          As far as the over-emoting comment goes… I was not planning to tell her she is over-emoting. But she really is. The picture example probably wasn’t a great one because she had some legitimate reason to be upset but honestly… most of the time this is incredibly small potatoes stuff. I asked her to hurry and she doesn’t like to be hurried. I told her to put her cardigan on. I told her we have to wash her hair tonight. These are facts of life and her reaction is disproportionate- its the sort of situation where we’d be advising a LW: ‘you seem to be having a really strong reaction to not much here – do you think there’s something else going on?’ Like, these things CAN’T be making her feel that bad. It’s just ridiculous.

          1. Clare*

            Some suggestions from my mother (she taught for two decades, then opened a child care centre):

            For the ‘facts of life stuff’, I recommend making a big effort to give her lots positive attention at other times and praising good behaviour whenever possible. “I like the way you always put your hat on, you’re so good at remembering that!” “Wow you’re such a good big sister, helping your little brother like that!” “Hey, you’re practising drawing again, you’re so good at practising!” If you praise behaviour as much as (or ideally more than) results, you’re able to provide rewards and positive feedback in just about every interaction. One truly can’t give a child enough praise for even tiny skerricks of politeness, patience, helpfulness, consideration, self-control, generosity, thoughtfulness and other positive virtues. Praising someone for being thoughtful and generous won’t somehow make them selfish and big-headed through too much praise, so lay it on as thick and as often as possible!

            Right now, the most reliable way to finally get some attention, any attention, from you is to throw a tantrum over her cardigan. But if you’ve been praising her all morning for helping with the little ones, pouring you a glass of juice, saying thank you so politely, bringing you your hand bag, replacing the dog’s water, brushing her teeth without a reminder, etc etc etc, where’s the logic in suddenly pulling out a tantrum? Praising things they have full control over is very empowering. “You’re so clever” is pressure. We can’t always be good at everything, or find opportunities to show it when we need praise. “You’re so helpful” is a gift, because there’s always an opportunity to generate some more praise when one needs it, whilst simultaneously making oneself even more popular!

            With regard to the artwork, I recommend the ‘Two pieces a year’ rule. For this you would keep a book for each child. Add in two pieces of artwork every year until they turn 18. Then when they turn 18 they have a sweet folio of 36 pieces to treasure. This prevents gaps, gives the child a manageable sized collection instead of 6 boxes or nothing, makes them feel valued and gives them a clear rule they can understand and follow. “You’d like to keep this piece? No worries! Let’s go and choose which of your current two to replace. Would you like to mail the old piece to someone or give it to your teacher?”

            Best wishes and good luck to your whole family!

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, I started wondering if the 7 year old is getting any attention at all when she’s behaving as she should? I get it, it must be tough with two smaller siblings and a mentally ill husband who can’t be relied on to pull his weight in parenting his kids. But right now the oldest is using the most reliable means she knows of getting Mom’s attention, by throwing tantrums over minor issues.

              OP, I really hope you can get some help with the kids, sounds like you need a break.

        3. Old Plant Woman*

          Double A,Yes! I’ve been mulling this over and am not happy with my previous comment. What I hear you saying is we have to set boundaries for children in order to teach them.

      2. Double A*

        To clarify, I disagree with the comment that she’s not over emoting. But the rest of your comment I agree with, those are some great strategies!

    10. PanamaHat*

      Hi there. That sounds hard and exhausting! For context, I am a parent of two now teens. My daughter (13) has diagnosed anxiety and started showing signs around 3rd grade. I was diagnosed with anxiety right alongside her and learned a lot about myself! I tend to parent similarly to how you described yourself. One thing I learned through my daughter being in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that for an anxious child sometimes spending a lot of time validating their feelings actually ramps up the anxiety. And sometimes making extra accommodations around the anxiety will too because both signal to the anxious person that there is indeed something to be anxious about. It’s not that you don’t want to validate – it’s that you validate and move on (for small stuff). Like, yes, it feels bad that I threw away your drawings, I’m sorry about that, I love you and your art, and now we’re moving on. She might not move on, but you can stay calm and move on. And then, you might at another time circle back with “It’s seems like you were pretty upset about the situation yesterday. Can we brainstorm some ways together to handle it next time?” (already having your preferred solution in mind – but she might surprise you with a good idea – and now you’re validating her feelings and that she’s a capable human being). Like, in this example, taking a photo of each piece of artwork or agreeing to keep “normal” art for 4 weeks and “special” art longer or whatever. Not specifically that but whatever ideas work – I hope that makes sense! The approach might help even if your daughter doesn’t have anxiety. And then pick your battles so that you’re really only getting into power struggles when it’s essential. Does she really have to get out of the car? Maybe, yes. Or maybe she can sit in the driveway. My last power struggle with my 13 year old was a few weeks ago about going to an activity meeting. She loves said activity but for *reasons* didn’t want to go. But for *reasons* that day she had to. So, she went (or face missing some other privileges). And she was mad, so mad! But later we had a heart-to-heart about why she was so upset, and it was helpful in parenting her next time. In my experience, in parenting like this, some people may say I’m soft in my daughter, she should just always comply, but I can tell you she trusts me, we’ve gotten through some serious mental health challenges, and she at 13 voluntarily will spend time with me and seek my advice (as does my 16 year old). I do hope that was helpful – if not I’m sorry and please ignore! Best of luck

      1. Crackerjack*

        This resonates very strongly, thank you. I have no idea what the criteria are for a clinical diagnosis of anxiety but colloquially, she is certainly an anxious child. I do worry about this. My brother also suffers from severe anxiety and depression, much less high functioning than my husband and so this is a worry (and I’ve just realised this might actually be contributing to my own exhaustion with the situation, as I have spent basically my whole life living with people who can’t seem to handle things that to me are just routine. This is not their fault- but it does put a lot of responsibility on me to be resilient and capable and handle it for them. )

        I also suspect that people think I am too soft on my daughter. Husband certainly does but he does not have the relationship with her that I do. She is afraid of him so doesn’t bring her true self to their interactions and I don’t want that. She doesn’t take the wailing etc to the same extreme with him, because he will shut it down, but she also doesn’t bring her worries to him in the same way. I would rather have the trusting relationship that you describe. Thank you for sharing your story.

        1. dust speck*

          when my kid was that age I remember reading some advice along the lines of when the kids act out most is when they most need a hug. My own kid (still) has a *lot* of anxiety, although she’s on her own now. i agree with the advice to not feed the feelings – I remember reading it in a book for parents of anxious kids. It was something along the lines of “don’t feed the anxiety monster”. In response to some of your other situations, eg hair