weekend open thread – October 28-29, 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: High Maintenance, by Jennifer Belle – Reeling from her divorce — and perhaps even more from the loss of her New York penthouse — a woman tries to remake her life via work, real estate, and a string of troubled men. It’s funny.

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

{ 1,116 comments… read them below }

  1. nnn*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading, and give or request recommendations.

    I am in the middle of reading The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, which is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mary Bennett’s perspective (recommended a while back by AAM). I’m really enjoying it and it’s the first retelling I’ve ever liked!

    Also I know there are lots of fans of The House In The Cerulean Sea here. I just saw there is a sequel coming out next year!

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        If it’s any consolation, it’s better than the Guenivere Deception (similar concept only with trans Lancelot. Transelot?)

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Menewood is *way* better, though it’s a good idea to read Hild first to get the brain set into the universe.

      3. Cleo*

        I felt the same way! I didn’t make it very far before I set it down and never came back.

        I enjoyed the Sons of Britain series by Mia West much, much more. Queer, gritty retelling of the Arthur legends set in 6th C Wales and based mostly on the earlier versions of the legends. I highly recommend reading the first three as a trilogy – there are more books in the series (9 are planned) but the first 3 are the best IMO and they cover Arthur and Bedwyn (the one handed knight) and Guinevere and Lancelot.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Highly recommend “How Can I Help You” by Laura Sims. Dark, creepy and very funny tale of a sketchy library worker and the perhaps even sketchier librarian who watches her. Will appeal to librarians, nurses, and everyone who has worked with “off” co-workers. Perfect pre-Hallowe’en tale!

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      More Valencourt short stories, and the second volume of Stephen Fry’s Greek Myths trilogy, Heroes. He’s very funny but makes sure his versions of the stories are backed up by research (his is the only version of Perseus and Medusa where Medusa is presented as a still beautiful and tragic figure whose only consolation is her sisters.)

      Ordered A Night in the Lonesome October after reading about it in last week’s thread, and a collection of Edith Wharton’s short ghost stories (that she assembled herself and entitled, appropriately, “Ghosts”) for spooky November birthday reading!

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m listening to Sea of Tranquility on audiobook and thinking I should’ve opted for print instead. I’m not giving it the attention it needs so I don’t feel like I’m getting much from it.

      1. Annie Edison*

        I loved Sea of Tranquility but I don’t think I could have processed it on audiobook- too much detail to take in! I thought it was really beautiful though

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          I just started reading Sea of Tranquility, and it is so good. I am sick this weekend and will pick it up again when I feel better.

      2. Cruciatus*

        I did read a hard copy and I still felt like I didn’t get much from it. It was “fine” but the love that others give it completely escapes my understanding. Didn’t hate it, not upset I read it, but it was just alright.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I might get it in print and start over. I loved Station Eleven but according to Goodreads I also read another one by this author that I have NO memory of and gave 2 stars, so I don’t know what to expect from her!

    4. word nerd*

      For T. Kingfisher fans: Did you see Nettle & Bone just won the Hugo Award for best novel?

      I really enjoyed The Country of the Blind by Andrew Leland, who has slowly been becoming blind and exploring blindness as a culture. It’s well-written and thought-provoking–it has me thinking about all sorts of things related to disability I hadn’t thought about before, and yet I also relate to various things too, like his feelings about being between identities and not quite fitting into one group.

      I also read The Lies of Locke Lamora this week since someone had recommended it here before. It was an entertaining read (although I would have preferred fewer violent bits), but I wish I had realized before picking it up that it was an unfinished series. I think I will probably leave it at just reading the first book since that one wrapped up ok. I do wonder if Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss will eventually be able to publish their long-anticipated next books in their series.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If it helps any, each of the Locke Lamora books has a proper standalone ending, even though they build on the stories from earlier books. I didn’t know it wasn’t a complete trilogy until reading your comment just now.

        1. word nerd*

          Oh, really? When I peeked at the reviews for book 3, there seemed to be a lot of complaints about the cliffhanger ending that has yet to be resolved 10 years later.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            It is possible that I was just that oblivious, or have forgotten in the couple years it’s been. But I hate cliffhangers and I don’t remember having any complaints about one on that series. Like I say, I thought it was complete :)

      2. Merry and bright*

        I hadn’t heard that Nettle and Bone won the Hugo, thanks for the news! I love T Kingfisher books.

      3. SarahKay*

        Great news about Nettle & Bone, thank you for sharing. T. Kingfisher has become one of my favourite authors, mostly thanks to assorted recs here over the last few years.

      4. borealis*

        Fellow T. Kingfisher fans, have you read her graphic novel Digger, published under her real name, Ursula Vernon? I think it is amazing – it tells the tale of a young wombat called Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels, who surfaces in an unexpected place after she’s been digging in an unexpected direction. It is funny, serious, exciting and really well drawn.

        1. GoryDetails*

          “Digger” was amazing! It was my first introduction to Vernon/Kingfisher, and impressed the heck out of me.

      5. WeavingLibrarian*

        Halfway through The Country of the Blind and I am also seeing disabilities through a new lens.

    5. Miss Buttons*

      On a friend’s suggestion, I’m going to the library for some Louise Penny Inspector Gamache books. Can anyone else recommend them?

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I’m re-reading the series (given that I only read them as they came out. Originally, this is kind of like “binge watching“ the series). I absolutely love it. Both times. And if you want to have some fun, the three books that were done in the Amazon prime series, were done very very well – although they had been adapted to more modern issues.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Re the Inspector Gamache (aka “Three Pines”) series: I’ve enjoyed it very much, though I do have some favorites. (I discovered it after finding copies of “The Brutal Telling” and “Bury Your Dead” in a Little Free Library; the books work well as a pair, and even though I hadn’t read the previous books at that time, they still immersed me in the lovely settings and character-relationships.) My favorite of the series is “How the Light Gets In,” but I should say – without any specific spoilers – that it really needs to be read in order, as the previous books set up the amazing payoff.

      3. No time to think of a clever name*

        Oh yes! A friend recommended these to me a couple of weeks back and I’ve just read and enjoyed the first one, “Still Life”. I’ll definitely be reading more

      4. Blomma*

        They are excellent! I agree that they need to be read in order. A Rule Against Murder and The Beautiful Mystery are particular favorites of mine.

      5. ypsi66*

        Her books were very disappointing to me. I really wanted to like them (I am Canadian) but they way Gamache switches between English and French drives me nuts. There are no provided translations of his French conversations (does LP assume we all speak French??).
        I simply do not like his character and never will. There are a few more others who appear in every book and they are just not doing it for me.
        Sorry, I wish I could have gived a better review but no sense lying and saying her books appealed to me when they didn’t. I read at least 5 of them.

        1. Blomma*

          This is interesting to me because I don’t remember there being a bunch French so I’m wondering if the US versions of the books (which I think have different names sometimes) were edited to have less French? Or maybe it didn’t stick out to me as much because I majored in French in college? I should try to get a Canadian edition for comparison.

        2. Camelid coordinator*

          I didn’t like his character either, especially the way he was somehow all-knowing. I might have given up after 3 books.

      6. Miss Buttons*

        Thanks for the Gamache input, everyone. Per friend’s suggestion, I’m reading them in the order they were written, just started #1 Still Life. My library had #2 A Fatal Grace, and #4 A Rule Against Murder, but not #3 The Cruelest Month, so I’ll be on the library wait list for #3. If it doesn’t come in soon, I may have to do The Dirty Trick at Barnes & Noble (sitting in the cafe for hours and reading the book without buying it). I always buy a big coffee and pastry, so they’ll get something out of me.

        1. Miss Buttons*

          There are apparently 18 in the series. I’m enjoying Still Life, the first one. I usually can read 1-2 books per week if not too tired after work. I have 13 more weeks of chemo, so the timing looks just right for Inspector Gamache to be my chemo companion. Glad I found Louise Penny.

      7. IT Manager*

        Highly, highly recommend. There’s few series where I love both the plot and the writing and this is one. She makes me want to go live in that world and have those characters as friends. It would be worth the odd murder now and again!

        Agree with another poster that the TV mini series did a good job (mostly) capturing the feel while not just transcribing the plot.

    6. acmx*

      I just finished The Land of Lost Things which was not bad. 3.5*

      Picked up Starter Villian which is a quick read. Might re-read The Graveyard Apartment after suggesting it below.

    7. Tiny clay insects*

      I’m reading Rise to the Sun, a YA novel by Leah Johnson about two girls who meet and fall for each other at a music festival. I’ve only just started it but it’s really cute so far.

    8. EdgarAllenCat*

      Listened to A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab. Read third in the Scholomance series by Naomi Novik.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve been meaning to revisit Darker Shade of Magic, did you see she’s got a new book out (coming out?) In that world?

        1. EdgarAllenCat*

          Yeah, heard an interview with Schwab on the Nerdette podcast which led me to that series. Still deciding whether to take a break or start listening to book 2 right away.

        2. Lore*

          It’s out! I inhaled it last week. Very much enjoyed though I discovered the Shades of Magic books when 2 were out and 3 imminent and I’m not looking forward to the wait here because the plot sets a lot of things in motion in the last third of the book and only wraps up some of them.

    9. RedinSC*

      A week later I am now half way through The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.

      He’s a lovely writer, but I think I’m kinda over it already. It’s just a lot of book.

      I’ll keep reading until I have to return it to the library.

      1. Manders*

        I finished that a couple of weeks ago. Same feeling – beautiful writing, but I think he needs a better editor. There is a LOT of detail in there.

    10. Helvetica*

      I just read Maggie O’Farrell’s “I am, I am, I am”. It does make you wonder about all of your own brushes with death, although I’m not sure I could recall them as vividly as she does but good reading for some introspection.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Wow! Thank you for this! I just read the first few pages in the preview screen at Amazon and have placed a hold at the library! That story will haunt me until I know how it turns out.

    11. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m currently reading My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor. I am wondering about its accuracy. I could be wrong, but…I’m not sure you would get away with being that openly rude to the Nazis.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I didn’t really, but I can see how it came across out of context and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

          I just meant the protagonist spends a lot of the book literally going up to Nazi soldiers and guards in occupied Italy and telling them they are a disgrace, that he will get them fired, that their wives should be ashamed to be married to them, etc. And he suffers minimal consequences. The pope does tell him off and punish him internally for putting the Vatican at risk but…there are no actual consequences from the Nazis themselves.

    12. Nervous Nellie*

      I am just starting into the massive Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First by Frank Trentmann. It’s 700 pages mapping out how we have come to have so much STUFF. Fascinating. And to balance it, I am reading the essay compilation Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism, edited by Alan Radiner. Ironically, I bought both books – did not order at the library as is my usual.

    13. Donkey Hotey*

      Just finished NK Jemisin’s second city book. The audio narrator nails each and every accent and makes it even better then the book itself (which is amazing). If you have any love for New York City and any tolerance for superhero type stories, these books are for you.

    14. MCL*

      I’m reading The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, which I believe was recommended here. It’s a swashbuckling pirate fantasy story with a mature heroine. It’s very funny and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I love “one last job” stories.

    15. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress as usual, including:

      “Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book One” by Jodi Taylor, about a kind of academics-doing-time-travel team – think Connie Willis’ “Doomsday Book” crew, except that St. Mary’s is both shabbier and much, much snarkier (and that’s saying something). Also, St. Mary’s seems to have a much higher body-count – time-travel is often very, very dangerous… I’m enjoying it a lot so far, though I’ve only followed protagonist Max through her introduction to St. Mary’s and her training; she’s just about to embark on her first real mission now. [This is a ‘verse in which Time does not like time-travelers, even the historians, and is capable of striking back to prevent any alterations to the time-stream…]

      Despite the death toll, the writing-style and characters are delightful; even the first chapters had me grinning and sometimes laughing out loud. (The author’s opening caveat may set the tone: “I made all this up. Historians and physicists – please do not spit on me in the street.” There’s also a “DRAMATIS THINGUMMY” listing the characters.)

      “The Gates” by John Connolly, the first of a series aimed at pre-teen readers, and featuring a boy named Samuel Johnson who lives with his family and his trusty dachshund Boswell in a… very weird neighborhood. (With an address like 666 Crowley Road, you can guess that it’s going to have issues.) It features neighbors who conduct arcane rituals, opening a gate into Hell – and has connections to the Large Hadron Collider as well. Quite amusing so far, with most of the invading demons being surprisingly vulnerable to attacks by whatever the kids have on hand.

      “The Stroke of Winter” by Wendy Webb, which sounded like a nicely modern-Gothic horror story, but which is turning out to be more of a cozy mystery – lots of emphasis on cooking, and the comforting and helpful neighbors in a snowbound small town, plus budding romance.

      On audiobook, I’m listening to “The Man of Property,” first of the “Forsyte Saga” books, narrated by David Case.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I just put St Mary’s on my list at the library based on your description of the DRAMATIS THINGUMMY and such, thank you.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        As did I! Can’t wait for it to come at the library. Time travel and snark – you are speaking my language. Thanks for this!

    16. PhyllisB*

      Just finished Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery This the last book in the Mischief Bay series.
      I liked it, but I have a personal rant. One of the characters is a research scientist who is pregnant and doesn’t wish to stay home with her baby. That’s not my issue. What I didn’t like is she only plans to take off for three weeks. Again, her decision, but what does that say to other women who don’t want to do that? We’ve had to fight to get maternity leave at all and this just perpetrates the idea that maternity leave is unnecessary. I felt the same way when Sally Ride gave birth and was back at work in less than two weeks.
      Okay, I’ll put the soap box back in the closet for now.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There’s a half dozen letters here in the archives about how folks aren’t required to do parental leave the way other folks want them to do, and that cuts both ways.

        1. Retired Merchandiser*

          That wasn’t really my point. You of course, are correct that everyone is entitled to do their leave the way that suits them, I just don’t like the way it’s normalized so those who don’t want to have to come back so soon are looked down upon and made to feel like it’s a detriment to their career.
          Like I said, this is just my personal opinion and I said that in my comment.

    17. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have just finished reading The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, which is a really excellent graphic novel about her family history, both in Vietnam and as refugees in the US. There’s something about the graphic novel format which is really well suited to memoir, and there’s a lot of beautifully drawn art in this book. Highly recommended

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been plowing through books on transit — it’s a fantastic way to make the commute go by quickly. I just finished Psychlone by Greg Bear. I heard it described as the scariest book ever — I found it only marginally frightening, though a compelling read, if a bit confusing (I wonder if that was because I read it on the bus, lol). I also wondered if anyone had ever tried to make a film of it. If they do, they need to not water down the stakes by letting protagonists live.

      I also read Ward D by Frieda McFadden — I like her Gen-Z-in-jep thrillers, but the protagonists are always so dippy they make me want to root for the villains.

    19. Bluebell*

      Just finished The Celebrants by Stephen Rowley. It was good but not as fun as The Guncle. Also read The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston, which was delightful. And Beware the Woman by Megan Abbott was different than some of her others but had a good payoff.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ohhhh, I’ve got Beware the Woman on my list! Love Megan Abbot. I actually bought and read her master’s thesis on noir fiction/detectives!

    20. Children's Librarian*

      I’m reading Chinese Menu: The History, Myths, and Legends Behind Your Favorite Foods by Grace Lin and I’m loving it. It is a kid’s nonfiction book, and if you have kids I think it would be a great bedtime book–she breaks down the book by different categories of food (appetizers, soup, tea, etc.) and then specific dishes and has some kind of story related to each dish. I do not have children, but am reading it as a bedtime book myself, and it’s perfect to read a few stories before bed (except that you may go to bed hungry!).

    21. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I just finished listening to Lessons in Chemistry! I put it off because the total wasn’t interesting, then at first I thought it had a bit of a slow start. I picked it up again last week and I am SO glad I did. I loved it so much and would really like to read something else like it.

    22. SarahKay*

      I loved The Other Bennet Sister (and also found it via AAM if I remember correctly); it was fascinating to see how different things looked through Mary’s eyes.

      I’ve just finshed Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney which was a very clever thriller with several twists I did not see coming. I enjoyed it while reading it, and it was clver, but it somehow left me mostly unmoved, although I’m not quite sure why.

    23. carcinization*

      I’d pre-ordered McGuire’s The Innocent Sleep awhile back, so I was surprised that it arrived earlier this week along with some blue Sharpie pens I’d ordered last week to use at Place That Must Not Be Named (since I’m picky and don’t want to use the pens supplied). Anyhow, I’m enjoying the book, maybe more than Sleep No More by the same author which also recently came out.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I just blitzed the whole thing last night, and yes, it was excellent. The two books worked very well together.

    24. Jay*

      At the tender age of 47 I am somehow just now starting to read the collected works of Ursula K. Le Guin. I’ve started with Ricannons World and plan to progress from there.

      1. Cleo*

        Oh, how exciting.

        I started with Rocannon’s World decades ago and 20 year old me wasn’t impressed. Friends assured me that it was her first book and her later books were better and they were right.

        The Earthsea books and Four Ways to Forgiveness are my personal favorites.

      2. word nerd*

        I am in the middle of The Dispossessed right now and loving it. And her original Earthsea trilogy is amazing–a classic for good reason.

      3. SarahKay*

        I got introduced to her Wizard of Earthsea trilogy (as it was then) when I was eight and thus began a life-long love affair with her writing. I still have those original three (very battered) paperbacks, in pride of place on my bookshelves. As a student I’d borrow her other books from the library, and was thrilled when I started earning enough money to buy my own copies.
        I hope you enjoy them as much as I have over the years.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        If you like her, pick up No Time To Spare: Thinking About What Matters, a collection of her later essays. She’s very funny and pointed, and her stories about their adopted cat Pard are a riot (his appetite for his kibbles is enormous; “He would gladly be Pardo el Lardo.”)

    25. Pinkbasil*

      Finished Starter Villain in one big gulp. I liked it but not as much as Kaiju Preservation Society. I’m reading Ross Gay’s The Book of (More) Delights which I can’t recommend highly enough – beautiful writing, thoughtful essays on life.

      1. word nerd*

        There are certain authors who I imagine I’d love to hang out with drinking tea, and he is definitely one of them!

    26. Cleo*

      I read The Fall That Saved Us by Tamara Jerée and I just want to tell everyone about it. It’s by a debut author from a small press with an absolutely stunning cover.

      It’s a moody, sexy Sapphic urban fantasy about a former demon hunter with angelic blood and the succubus who was sent to seduce and destroy her but ends up helping her heal from family trauma. The last third isn’t as strong as the rest but it’s a great debut and I really loved it. It’s an interesting mix of dark and cozy. The protagonist, Cassiel, left her abusive mother and the family demon hunting vocation to open a bookstore.

      I learned about it from Skye Kilean’s newsletter and I want to recommend that to all of my fellow queer romance fans. Skye has a monthly newsletter of new and recent queer romances from indie authors and small presses, with an emphasis on stories and identies that don’t get as much buzz or attention in queer romance. Obvisously read the samples before buying, but I’ve discovered some real gems that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.

    27. Oreo lover*

      Martin Lister and his remarkable daughters about how two teenagers were responsible for illustrating one of the first scientific books in natural history. Kind of nerdy, but a beautiful book with loads of colour illustrations, and I learned how early engravings were made.

    28. Decidedly Me*

      I recently finished Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. It was really good! Apparently there is a Hulu series for it now which I’ll probably check out.

      I also started my next travel series (series where novels are mostly standalone, but connected), which is Dresden Files this time. I had some long flights so managed to finish the first four.

    29. CorporateDrone*

      Reading my way through the Giller long list and We meant well was my favourite although All the Colour in the world was quite interesting.

  2. Ricki R*

    Any recs for credit card upgrades? I keep getting emails to upgrade My Citi Rewards card to. Cities Premier. I am not sure it’s worth the $95 annual fee.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I only paid an annual fee for a year or two, for a AmEx that gave 6% back on groceries. Months after I signed up, they limited that reward to $6K/year, so I used it for that much in groceries and then stopped using it for the rest of the year.

      My go-to card now is the Fidelity Visa, 2% cash back on everything, no annual fee, no foreign exchange fee.

      1. fposte*

        Heh, as so often you and I are in financial sync. Fidelity Visa is also my Ed choice. I do have a separate Amazon card as well. If I traveled a whole lot it would be a different matter, since earning miles can be huge. But I don’t travel enough for that to be a real benefit and I like to keep things simple.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Of course, our other card is an Amazon Chase Visa, for the 5-6% rebate, and that’s all we use it for. And I agree about keeping it simple; I feel like when you can’t properly assess a cash value to “points” or “miles”, it’s because the bank knows that a straight cash back percentage would be more to the consumer’s benefit. And even when you can work it out, using rewards will influence your buying pattern, and that bothers me even more than leaving money on the table!

      2. There You Are*

        I just went to apply for the Fidelity card and it looks like I can only have the rewards cash go into one of my Fidelity accounts.

        Which means I have to ask a really dumb question: What is an “Individual – TOD” account? Can I pull money out of it without any penalties?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, there are no minimums. I think that’s what my Fidelity checking is called. They may call it an “investment” account, but you can leave it as cash. And transferring in and out isn’t hard.

    2. David*

      Do you have any reason for wanting to upgrade your card? I mean, credit card companies will always try to convince you to buy or sign up for things that will make them more money, it doesn’t mean you should actually do them.

      If you really do want to upgrade your card, then I’d say you should think about what your current card isn’t doing for you that makes you want a new one, and do some research with that in mind. The right card for you will depend on what that is.

      Personally, when I last signed up for a credit card, I wanted one that (1) supported virtual card numbers for online shopping, (2) had no foreign transaction fees, and (3) had a good cash back program for my particular spending habits. Keeping those criteria in mind helped narrow my search a lot. (I wound up with a card from Capital One that seems pretty good, as credit cards go.)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Do you have any reason for wanting to upgrade your card?
        When I looked into those great benefit deals some years back, I would have to spend $8000 on the card in the first two months. That works if you are about to make some major purchases, but for a lot of us that’s not an amount we will rack up in two months charging just “normal” things.

        I’ve known people to do well with those airline miles cards by charging absolutely everything and paying off in full each month. You need to be disciplined and on top of your spending for that to work.

        When our kids were in college we did some research and recommended Discover cards as having no fees and an uncomplicated cash back program, then adding some form of Visa/Mastercard if you’re going to be overseas.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          As soon as our kid declared her intention to go to college on the opposite coast, I got a MasterCard that gets me miles for American, which has the most flights to her city. We do indeed put everything on that card and pay it off in full each month. Someone in the family flies across the US about every six weeks and we pay for maybe one or tickets a year – the rest are on miles. I am now Platinum Executive or whatever so I get free “coach extra” seats and complimentary first-class upgrades when available.

          We don’t pay a fee on the card. It’s been a good deal for us, especially since I always paid for the extra room in coach anyway.

    3. Sloanicota*

      My personal position is that I don’t pay an annual fee on cards – there are enough free ones with good-enough perks for me. BUT, I have friends who are big travelers that really make the cards work for them and come out ahead on airline points or whatever. I’m not really that kind of traveler most years – I usually just take a few short flights and end up booking the cheapest carrier, and might end up staying with a friend or using an Air BnB or camping. If I knew for sure I was going to do a ton of higher-end travel, I’d consider getting an upgraded card for that one year.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I pay the annual fees on my Southwest and Disney cards, because the benefits and rewards on both have usually paid for themselves within 3 months. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t bother. (Well, I think technically my oldest card has a small monthly fee of $5 but I don’t want to close it, so I deal. And the rewards on the other two make enough to cover that too :-P )

    5. acmx*

      I have this. When I first got it, I was able to purchase really cheap airfare in premium economy to Asia.

      I haven’t had a much chance to use it for airfare and they use booking dot com to support it and I’m not sure that I like it. You can also use the rewards to for some purchases (Amazon and CVS that I’ve seen).

    6. Rick Tq*

      If you spend enough at Costco consider upgrading to Executive membership and getting their Citi VISA card. 4% on gas, 3% on restaurants & eligible travel, 2% in the store and 1% overall.

      Between gas and groceries for 3 people and food for 3 dogs we more than cover Costco’s membership fee with the annual rebate.

      1. rr*

        I’m so jealous of how your cats get along. I’d like to have more cats, but our current ones don’t get along, so more would probably not be smart.

      2. RLC*

        Going by the expressions on those adorable feline faces, this is the proper situation. “The humans may share the cat bed so long as the humans don’t take up more than 10 percent of the space.” We have five cats who grudgingly allow us into “their” bed, likely because we are a reliable heat source.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Do they sleep on you? Peanut’s favorite location is my husband’s legs or my stomach.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          One cat curls sweetly next to my knees or ankles. The second perches atop me like I am a termite mound and she is a cheetah surveying the savannah of my bedroom.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Yours too? When I’m lying on my side Peanut insists on laying on my hip, slowly crushing me into the mattress. But it’s all worth it for the warm vantage point.

        2. RLC*

          The five feline sleeping spots:
          Tanner wrapped in a “U” shape around my husband’s head.
          Sunny between husband’s legs.
          Mari on one side of my feet, Chika on the other.
          Caroline under my arm like a teddy bear.
          No, we can’t move, but it’s lovely and warm and cosy.

      4. Anon. Scientist*

        My husband has always been vexed that I’m a complete bed hog but it’s because I grew up vying for space with a cat who would use claws to enforce his sleeping boundaries.

      5. JulieA*

        We have one smallish cat who sleeps by my side every night, and I’m amazed at the real estate he can take over! My husband and I are (somewhat seriously!) talking about getting a king-sized bed just so I can get up without disturbing kitty and writing this I realize that I’m becoming a crazy cat lady!

        1. 1LFTW*

          Also, it won’t work. My ex and I had a cal king. Over the course of a night, our normal-size cat (8 lbs) would slowly push the rest of us (~350 lbs consisting of two humans and a Maine Coon cat) onto half the bed, taking the center for herself.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Totally won’t work. I have a king sized bed for me and a medium sized dog and I somehow wake up with my right elbow hanging off the bed every morning muttering “this is part of why the Dane still sleeps in her crate.” The dog totally takes her half of the bed out of the middle of my half of the bed, and the half that used to be my husband’s before he got his own room (with his own king sized bed that is taken up by him and two 12 pound cats) somehow stays completely empty. :-P I’m all “you could go sleep on your whole own side?” And she’s like “nah, I’m good,” as she lays on the entire left side of my torso.

    1. Happily Retired*

      All the kittehs!

      Our own rather surly diluted tortoiseshell, who is a Living Example of tortitude, is now back to snuggling up against my legs at night. I’m sure that this is completely unrelated to the fact that once it’s the heating season, we keep the thermostat at 64 F (18 C) at night.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Mine will wake me up at 3 am to be escorted to Her Room and the door closed (all food, water and box are there). I live alone, so it works out ok.

        1. Happily Retired*

          Ours does that too! She wakes us up, wanting to go out. So one of us gets up, follows her to the locked back door, picks her up (carefully), walks to the front room (very quickly), and dumps her there with her food and water bowls and the litter box, and closes the door (firmly.)

          After 3+ years, it still hasn’t registered on her that we’re not gonna let her out until dawn.

  3. Sundae fun day*

    Dog help!

    Very excited that my BFF got a young dog (6 months old) and my 3 year old pup loves to play with her. We have had multiple meetups in our yards and they play wonderfully together. But when we try to bring them inside, they want to play even more. They are both 50+ lbs so the potential for destruction is high. I know they would eventually get used to each other and chill, but I like a plan. What steps have you taken to get two energetic dogs to relax around each other?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Wear them out first :) long bouts of outside play, maybe a walk? My two (who are 175 pounds together, a 120lb Dane who’s not quite two and a 55lb boxer mix who hasn’t realized she’s nine) are super energetic and play in the house, but as long as they’re focused on a tug toy, they don’t get too hazardous to the rest of my house. Loud, but not hazardous.

      I make my tugs – take two 2-yard lengths of fleece from JoAnn’s (it goes on their door buster sale for a buck or two a yard pretty regularly) and cut it into 4-6” wide strips length-wise, then tie four strips together at one end and do that square-braid friendship style camp craft that I, at least, learned to do at church camp as a kid. (You can also google “square braid fleece dog toy” if you didn’t get carted off to Camp Lake Louise as a munchkin.) They last usually a month or two before they get tore up beyond salvaging, but they only take 15 minutes to make, so. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do strips of different colors for the tugs, is why I said two lengths – you could do all one color too, pups don’t give a hang :) but I usually keep three or four different colors/patterns of cut and ready to go strips around and use whatever I grab out of the sack.

    2. Sarah*

      Teach them to go lay on a bed or mat, when we tell our dogs “bed” they go lay down and stop the playing. Although I would let them have a big play in the backyard first so it gets some of the excitement out.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        This. Reinforce the training with treats, and maybe bring one inside and get them settled before bringing in the second. If they start to play indoors then take one out and keep trying. Reward good behaviour (calmness) with being in the same room, whereas if they play then the bad consequence is separation until they calm down. They might need a lot of reinforcement the first time but should pick it up quickly.

    3. Sloanicota*

      My dog was initially kept on-leash indoors until he “earned” the privilege of being loose in the house (mostly because I wanted to be sure how he’d do with the cat – but it was something his trainer recommended). I think I’d keep both dogs leashed and separated inside for a while, until they get in the habit of being calm indoors and they understand they can’t bring their outdoor play style in.

    4. Real Carp*

      I have found that having both pups do side-by-side activities where they are both distracted helps. For example – taking them on a walk together but keep them apart until they are both able to walk side by side together calmly helps teach them to interact without playing, and also helps with the energy!

      Then, bring them inside and give them separate toys / snuffle mats / something they are interested in to distract them from playing directly with each other. Then reinforce that good behavior with treats :) hopefully with time they will learn cooperative play instead of just playing crazy with each other!!

    5. Steph*

      Taking them on a walk together before taking them inside together will help immensely, I think. It will tire them out a bit and the act of walking together is a bonding experience.

    6. But what to call me?*

      My dog and my parents’ dog (55 lbs and 80 lbs) get sent right back outside if they can’t manage to contain themselves. They get a warning (a firm “that’s enough”, which they both learned during dog-human wrestling games, different from “no” because it’s for times when what they’re doing isn’t bad but it’s time to calm down and stop it, playing too rough with fragile human, etc.), then if they don’t stop we put them outside. They’re both pretty smart and remarkably good at understanding human communication, so it didn’t take them long to figure out that they can either listen or get put on the other side of a door from their very important humans – a terrible fate, as far as they’re concerned.

      If they’re being really, persistently wild indoors, though, that’s usually a sign that it’s time for a walk. Or a vigorous game of fast-dog-chases-the-ball-fast-fast-fast when they were younger and full of field dog energy.

      (Of course, these dogs are a little odd. Mine, for example, has somehow decided that her name can be ignored but if I say her full name (first name-last name) along with any command it means I’m serious and must be obeyed immediately. I have no idea where this came from but am careful with it in order to maintain its power.)

      1. Zelda*

        Speed fetch involves two balls, so that as soon as the dog drops one, the other can be in the air, no waiting for the human to pick it up.

        Do your dogs have middle names? Mine both have, although they don’t know that. (Phryne goes by her first name on the ‘net, and her middle name IRL.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Mine know their middle names, but not their full names and titles. Alannah becomes Alannah Jane becomes Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus, Queen of the Carrot Mafia and Bane of All Flossiraptors Errywhere. (If I get to that point I do stop after “the Froshus.”)

          Abigail becomes Abigail Rose becomes Abigail Rose Sleepyface Goofin’ Gorilla-Paws Woofapotamus the Daintiest, Wuffleberry Princess and Boss of the Boo Rhimoceros Gang. (I also frequently just call her the Daintiest Woofapotamus, as in “Get your daintiest woofapotamus butt back here and wipe your paws.”)

          1. Zelda*

            “Woofapotamus” LOL!

            Phryne has a leaf obsession (right now is The Best Time; she is resenting every second she is forced to spend indoors), so her full appellation is Scourge of the Oaks, Terror of the Lindens, Maple Leaves Flee Before Her.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              She is a grey Dane who is still not very cognizant of where her parts end, so especially when she was still growing hand over fist, she sort of lumbered around barreling into me all the time and I joked that she was like a baby hippopotamus. Then there was a “Thoughts from Dog” about how Dog nibbles on their human’s sleeves to remind the human that Dog is descended from wolves, and sleeve nibbling was a habit we were working on breaking as well, so it sort of developed into “woofapotamus” from there. But we also just tack “apotamus” onto a lot of things, it’s good for a compound word. I think her record is sleepachompawoofalopeaslobberpotamus.

  4. Teapot Translator*

    I quite enjoyed last week’s thread of short books. I added quite a few to my to-be-read list. What are your recommendations for short books? Particularly fantasy and SF, but all genres welcome.
    I have read all Murderbot books.

    1. Slinky*

      I recently read Servant Mage by Kate Elliott. It’s only 100-something pages and goes quickly, but paints a very vivid, well-developed fantasy world.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      T Kingfisher’s stuff is terrific and pretty short, especially What Moves the Dead. It’s a kind of reimagining of The Fall of the House of Usher. She writes under a LOT of names if you want to poke around her other stuff.

      For fiction and nonfiction, I love Anne Lamott, with Joe Jones for the former and Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son’s First Year for the latter as especial favorites. She’s really hilarious (she’s also religious, but in a hilarious way) and so refreshing to read.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I checked it out, but the library needed it back before I got to it, so I’ll have to try it again.

        “Duology”? Is that the two-book equivalent of a trilogy? (*furiously scribbles notes*)

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Yes, that’s what a duology is! I love that term, and was so happy when I first read it.

    3. Mitchell Hundred*

      I remember enjoying Alan Bennett’s “The Uncommon Reader.” The Queen (it was written several years ago, when she was still alive) decides to get into reading in a serious way, and mild hijinks that don’t insult the royal family ensue.

    4. French Book Fiend*

      I have redevoured all of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War books. They read like a breeze. Fred the Vampire Accountant are also fun and short books.

    5. JustForThis*

      Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series are novellas with about 180 pages each in a pretty large typeface. I love the premise and liked the storytelling (but found out yesterday night while reading the first one that their slight horror aspects are too much for my (over-)sensitive self).

    6. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric & Desdemona stories. Most of them are novella length, so are quick reads.

    7. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      I’m listening to Margaret Killjoy’s novella The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, which is listed as fantasy. I would describe it more as anarcho-horror, perhaps? It is the first of a series, I think there are only two novellas in the series so far.

    8. word nerd*

      On Chesil Beach–my favorite Ian McEwan work
      The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
      We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (one of my favorite authors despite not liking the horror genre; she is just that good)

      Those titles are also mentioned in a book called Great Short Books: A Year of Reading Briefly by Kenneth Davis in case you wanted to pick that up for other ideas.

      1. word nerd*

        Oh, and as far as fantasy, I have to mention Ella Enchanted, which is perfection. I haven’t seen the movie, but I hear it wasn’t very good, so do not base decisions to read on the movie. :P

  5. Falling Diphthong*

    How do people feel about the multiverse as a storytelling frame?

    Particularly inspired by Marvel’s take on it, but also interested in other versions.

    The way Marvel is doing it, for me it takes the already low stakes of the superhero comic (if a major character seems to die, I’m confident it won’t stick) and drops the floor even lower. Like if everything can happen and is happening, the pain and tragedy at this particular moment on this particular timeline don’t really matter. One thing Marvel has done well in the past is the small scale moment of bonding between two characters; if a zillion versions of each character are off doing other things, I feel less invested in the ones on my screen.

    Also first three episodes of S2 Loki: I am a plot person, and I have no idea what is happening. It’s coasting completely on the charm of the actors; I feel like next episode someone could declare “Stick your left little finger in your right ear, it’s the only way to save the universe!” and everyone would do it and it would work. Spouse and I agreed that this was a great thing to watch before he left on a trip, because neither of us had the slightest urge to find out what happened next.

    Good fiction is usually driven by constraints–if A, B, and C constrain the options, what can happen? Ted Chiang for me is an author who really excels at taking one idea and figuring out where it would go within the constraints, and his short story Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom explores what would happen if we had a limited number of times we could check in with a version of ourselves that had recently branched off. A detail that haunted me from that story was someone who felt guilty for messing up her friend’s life back when they were kids… but in every version, where she had done something different, the friend’s life was just as messy, in the same way, in every future.

    1. Double A*

      Seems like the multiverse basically allows for canon fan fiction because anything can happen. So basically it’s expensive fan fiction. That’s not necessarily bad; lots of people like fan fiction. But I agree that it lowers the stakes substantially.

      I thought the Scholomance books did a great job of living within the rules the author set up. There was always a consequence for cheating the rules, and the books explored the smallest and the biggest consequences. That’s not really about a multiverse but of a story the excels because it won’t break its own rules.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The fanfic is an interesting point, because I don’t like fanfic usually–I care where the author is taking these characters, and I wish would-be writers would work on establishing their own worlds and characters.

        Exception for fictional universes established long ago, that are available as copyright lapses–Holmes, Alice, Shakespeare, Wicked. Though I imagine one reason I like those is that I only see them when the story is developed and original and well-executed enough that a major publishing house picked it up.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I like fanfic that explores things the author didn’t think about or glosses over but most fanfic is just shipping and I’m bored and don’t care

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            So often with shipping my feelings range all the way from “I don’t care, go do something interesting” to “This character really needs a friend, not a romantic partner.”

            For me there is a high squick level to appropriating someone else’s characters to use in porn. Probably not logical–like I feel the character is an established “person” and so making them a puppet to work out your fantasies is icky. (I recall a description of a Buffy episode where someone had gained the power to make the pretty popular girl his devoted girlfriend, and that was presented as “Huh. Weird” rather than “We should obviously rescue this mind-control victim from this horror show.”)

        2. Ane*

          I find that the fanfic writers for long standing shows often care more about the characters than the official writers… *looking at Once Upon a Time, BBC Sherlock, Star Wars and the MCU.

          1. Goldfeesh*

            After that second season Once Upon a Time really went off the rails. It’s one of those shows that makes me wonder if it’d been better being canceled after the first or second season in retrospect.

            1. Ane*

              Halfway through season 3, with episode S3.E11 ∙ Going Home would have been the perfect time to stop. It has the second highest rating on IMDB, it has a good resolution, it has redemption for our “good” villains, it ends on a hopeful note – plenty of fanfic fodder! – and we got introduced to interesting characters but the writing was worse than the previous seasons so viewers could agree that “yeah better stop while it is still good”.

        3. But what to call me?*

          The thing about fanfiction is that there’s zero barrier to entry, which means that you get everything from written versions of the kind of daydreaming many people do in their own heads to the kind of highly developed, original, and well-executed adaptations that could easily be published and sold if they were based on something that was too old for copyright. You also get things like niche spinoffs that would never be published due to questionable marketability and work about marginalized groups written by people from those groups who didn’t have to sanitize their work for mass appeal because it was never meant to be sold, but by lowering the barrier for works like those you will inevitably get a bunch of stuff that isn’t very good.

          Some of the people writing fanfiction are interested in becoming professional writers and are using it as a fun way to practice things like maintaining consistent characterization, writing believable descriptions and dialog, understanding what makes the world they’re writing in work vs. what would be out of place, etc., while a few others could easily publish original stories but just enjoy playing around in a world they love with other fans, but mostly it’s just random people using whatever writing skills most random people have to write out whatever story ideas happen to appeal to them. A lot of which doesn’t turn out that great, because most people in the world are never going to produce great works of literary fiction, and frankly may have better things to do than learn how, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing that people who wouldn’t otherwise write are writing.

          It’s weird to me that this hobby in particular is viewed with such disdain by some people, as if the majority of people engaging in any hobby weren’t mediocre at best and likely to mostly base their participation off of things that other people created. I just don’t see a lot of comments about how casual piano players should stop playing other people’s songs and go write their own or how anyone who wants to call themselves a cook had better be bringing their own original recipes to the office potluck.

          It’s perfectly reasonable not to be interested in watching strangers play around with their hobbies, but so often there’s this weird element of judgement when people say they don’t like fanfiction – not just “I’m not interested in this” but “I’m not interested in this because the people who do it (who owe me nothing and who I could easily avoid) should be doing something better”.

          I’m half inclined to apologize for getting long and ranty in reply to a comment that only touched on these issues and probably just meant to express a preference, but not quite enough not to reply. There’s just a whole lot of stuff tied up in the fanfic debate about societal perception of hobbies that are popular among teenage girls and young women, which topics are okay for that group to engage with and how they should engage with them when they do, as well as what standard of quality they must meet to have a seat at the table. Then there’s who should have easy access to a platform for telling their stories, how accessible standard (moneymaking) platforms for telling stories are to various groups, how much license there is for reinterpreting stories that are told from the dominant cultural perspective, not to mention the value that the communities built around those stories can have for some neurodivergent people and others who have a hard time finding things to connect over. So I get a bit salty about one-off lines about what “would-be writers” should be doing.

            1. SarahKay*

              Seconding the Well said!
              And adding that I particularly like ‘But what to call me?”s point about

              work about marginalized groups written by people from those groups who didn’t have to sanitize their work for mass appeal because it was never meant to be sold

              because certainly I’ve learnt a huge amount about some of these marginalised groups from reading fanfic, which until very recently just wasn’t there in traditional fiction, and even now is not common.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This has a lot of interesting points.

            This reminds me of past discussions about “But what if the creator is problematic in some way?” I’ve come down mostly on the idea that people take things from stories (or songs) that have value to them and may not have been envisioned by the author. I liked Heinlein’s juveniles as a child, and the sexist stuff is spelled out right there in Podkayne of Mars where I shrugged and ignored it. There’s debate as to whether Starship Troopers is a glorification of fascism or a satire of it; the movie makers were alive to confirm satire but the book has been read both ways.

            I first learned of Roman Polanski as an awful person, who has also made movies, so I will never seek out a Polanski movie. At the other end, I am terrible at keeping recording artists and songs straight, so I wind up evaluating songs on “is this boppy to listen to?” rather than “is this R Kelly, or is that the other one?” I respect anyone’s “This one is a bridge too far for me,” while also holding that we should acknowledge that everyone is problematic to someone if we go granular enough, and a lot of the time people are taking their own thing from the work (as I did with Podkayne) rather than whatever the author intended, or what people who dislike the author believe was secretly intended.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              For fanfic in particular, I think stories feel extremely real to me. That means that I get a lot out of fiction; that I don’t do horror; that I find torture porn particularly impossible to stomach. And also that for me, fictional characters feel “real” and so aren’t just handy creations lying around to be picked up and used how some random writer wants. (Or, it’s fine to do in private, but once it’s public my first, visceral reaction is usually “But this isn’t something the character would do, why are you flopping them around like this?”) Somewhat akin to writing and then openly posting a fictional work about Keanu Reaves, or your neighbor Grace Muttersmith, or some other real person, it feels uncomfortable to me to pick that person up and use them for your fictional take. The shared, public nature makes me uncomfortable where a private take would not.

              The exception for the work being old and out of copyright I think is in part that the creator is gone, so there will be no more canon. But also that the characters have been around long enough to have taken on a sort of zeitgeist form, like Kate from The Taming of the Shrew or Dorothy from Oz–it’s more like using as a character “the devil” or “a leprechaun” or “Queen Bathsheba.” Whereas picking up a contemporary character is more like picking up my Cousin Myrtle, who did not ask to be dragged into this thing. And would never order pizza with olives, what even is that.

              1. But what to call me?*

                It’s perfectly valid to feel that way in terms of what you, personally, want to read, but 1) ultimately the characters are not real and cannot be harmed (except possibly by their original creators – one wonderful thing I’ve seen some fanfiction writers do is to take the token whatever-they-are character whose main role in canon is either comedic effect or ‘hey look we’re diverse!’ and flesh them out into a character with real motivations, real opinions, a real character arc, real moments-of-awesome on par with the characters the audience is supposed to identify with), 2) many fanfiction writers also feel like the characters are “real” and do their best to represent them accurately (again with varying degrees of success due to varying degrees of skill), 3) even when making some significant change (e.g. the most often complained about ‘they’re all gay now and also they have sex’), most do still care about making the characters recognizably themselves. That’s a pretty essential component of the whole in character/out of character concept, which is one of most people’s important criteria for determining if a particular work of fanfiction is good.

                And if they don’t, well, yes it’s public in the sense that anyone can read it if they want to, but it’s not public in the sense that anyone has to read it if they don’t want to. Posting a story on a fanfiction website that you’re only going to find if you go searching on a fanfiction website and only going to know the details of if you click on it and read it is not the same as shouting it through a megaphone in the town square while everyone else is just trying to go about their day.

                I’m also really not getting the distinction between fanfiction about modern works and those that are old and out of copyright, unless we’re talking financial considerations that might affect the market for the original work. If it’s about the creators being dead and no more work being created, then does fanfiction become valid after the creators die? Do similar stories written before or after their death count as different things? Are Shakespeare adaptations real writing if you sell them but fanfiction if you post them for free? If they must be marketable, which markets count? What about an adaptation that makes its way to a mass audience but that most people agree is terrible and shows a complete lack of understanding of the characters and story? Can less popular older works be adapted, or only those that have reached archetypal status? What about stories that have reached archetypal status in one culture but not another?

                It’s just a very arbitrary distinction to me – which is fine for personal reading preferences, because *all* of our reading preferences depend a lot on arbitrary distinctions and what makes each of us uncomfortable is very personal, but not for acting like an activity is inherently wrong or of lesser value.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Back before the internet made widely read fan fiction a thing, there were occasional short story collections centered around playing in one author’s existing fantasy verse. I went into them intrigued, and recall always being disappointed. Characters and events were too disjointed, and in the rare successful story I would have been more interested in a version of the tale that was fully the author’s own.

    2. Clare*

      I am very much not a fan of multiverses or time travel for this exact reason. It instantly takes away all reason to care. There’s a universe where they survive and everything is awesome and one where everything is pointless and sad. I can’t bring myself to invest in someone who I know is miserable in infinite timelines, despite the infinite happy ones. It’s just too stressful. If I like you, I want you to have a happy ending. All the yous.

      My personal theory is that it’s popular because the people driving the decision making behind the trend think the concept will appeal to fan-fiction writers. “Hey we’ve just officially validated your fanfic is true (somewhere in our multiverse, by definition), so keep enjoying our stuff and watching ads and buying merchandise please!”

      The silly thing is, fan fiction was invented before the multiverse trend and it will be around after. Trying to think of ways to make certain events happen within the constraints of the original universe was part of the charm.

      This is all wild speculation drawn from observation and correlations with no real evidence, of course. Did someone mention fan fiction?

      1. Cat Lover*

        Ngl, a lot of the fan fiction for Marvel that has come out since endgame (especially the “fix-it’s) are better than what’s being written for the movies.

        I could go on and on about what they did to Tony and Steve but that’s why not having and ending planned out is bad. Even with they multiverse, they aren’t coming back (and movies contracts and such real life things are in the way).

        1. Cat Lover*

          And along that line, some of my favorite were written in that harrowing year between Infinty war and endgame. Obviously, we knew everyone was coming back- they “killed off” all the new hero’s. But the speculations and angst that came with it brought out great fanfic.

      2. Waiting on the bus*

        I actually think it’s the other way around: the multiverse is popular with people who are into fanfic without admitting that they are into fanfic.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Comic books have basically worked like this for years. Every time a new writer/artist team shows up, the entire thing gets rebooted, and often pulls in other characters with different backgrounds.

      I’m okay with it, but it gets confusing. I’ve learned to use the expression “head-canon” as a result. I find a thread I like that I can trace through all these various versions and treat that as the “real” story. I treat everything else–in line with the other couple of comments here–as fan fiction. In that sense, it becomes like those “choose your own adventure” books that were so popular when I was in middle school.

      1. Cat Lover*

        Ya, it’s happened in comics for ages.

        I’m an MCU fan, but they ran into the issue of being too big and not knowing when to end. Endgame + Spider-Man movies are my canon. I’ll watch and enjoy other movies/shows from the later phases, but it really doesn’t make sense.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I disliked Infinity War (pre multiverse) because when Gamora died–and I loved her character–my reaction was “Huh. Well, I’m sure she’ll be back.” And then when they killed half the people in the galaxy I was like “Huh, the movie is almost over. I guess there must be a sequel.” And then there was. (To my surprise, I liked the sequel. For that opening montage of loss, that losing people had mattered to the survivors.)

          My favorites of the MCU were Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther, which I knew nothing about. And I enjoy both a lot more as stand-alones than I do when they have to shoehorn in all the other characters–I’m happier with stand-alone universes that don’t cross over, so Guardians and Spiderman don’t have to reconcile any differences in how their universes work.

          1. Cat Lover*

            It worked for me in spider-man (reconciling what happened in Endgame, but they brought in a new villain in 2 and imo the multiverse crossover in 3 was fan service in the best way) but it didn’t work in Gaurdians.

            I loved the movies and I love GotG, but even the director I believe said he had to scrap most of what he wanted to do in the 3rd GotG because of Endgame.

            If Marvel wanted to explore multiverse, they needed to start over in a different universe. Or even end the MCU shortly after Endgame (maybe have some beloved characters have another movie) and then start over with Dr Strange.

    4. Chaordic One*

      I thought the concept was interesting when I first heard about it, but over the years it does seem like it has been done to death. There have been so many stories using it as a plot device that it has gotten kind of stale and boring and is no longer fresh and original.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Agreed, the only two recent films that I’ve seen do the concept really well are Everything Everywhere All At Once and Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse (haven’t seen the sequel yet.) But I think it’s also getting increasingly difficult to do anything fresh and interesting in the superhero genre as a whole, so that’s why they’re using the multiverse concept so much right now.

    5. David*

      The Marvel multiverse in particular, or the trope of a multiverse in general?

      In Marvel, I kind of ignore it, although to be fair I haven’t seen the newer movies/shows where it sounds like it might actually be relevant. From what you’re describing, I agree that it sounds like a poor use of the multiverse as a storytelling device.

      Multiverses *can* be used quite well though, if the writers think about the story potential of interactions between the different universes rather than just using a universe switch as a way to escape consequences. Like, there was an episode of Futurama where the Professor made a bunch of boxes containing other universes, but those other universes also had boxes containing yet other universes, and they had a cross-universe adventure with a whole thing about hunting for the right boxes to get everyone back to their original universes. Very funny but also a brilliant use of the concept IMO. I also think Rick and Morty, despite being kind of a gross show in some respects, has made really good use of multiverses for storytelling. Those are both comedies, but there’s a lot of potential to use the multiverse in serious stories as well. Some sci-fi franchises have done this with varying degrees of effectiveness, e.g. Star Trek (I remember reading a good Trek novel called Dark Mirror) and Stargate. The key seems to be exploring the interactions between slightly different versions of the same characters and using that to advance the plot, without trying to replace one with another. Different universes’ versions of the same person are still different characters and need to be treated as such.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Using a universe switch as a way to escape consequences.
        This is a good way to summarize why it’s so unsatisfying as a story-telling device.

        On Lost I initially really dove into the final season, which I thought was showing a flash-sideways into a world where the island got blown up decades ago and this was how the characters’ lives unfolded if the island and its petty gods were not messing with their lives for maximum drama and god entertainment. (Insert vague hand-waving about how the people you were drawn to by events in one timeline, you’d be drawn to in another.) Kate’s life was the same, which was a piercing dramatic choice. Sawyer turning onto the lawman path rather than conman felt possible. Then it turned out the final season was nowhere near as interesting as my head canon. (Flash sideways plus characters on island realizing that they shouldn’t pick a side–they should fight both petty gods who kept kidnapping humans to play out their squabbles.)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        One thing I liked about Rick and Morty is the creators emphasized that Rick’s shenanigans caused real, lasting damage, even as he shuffled time and changed outcomes.

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I liked the Dark Mirror version of ST: Enterprise, especially since it started out with a much darker opening sequence. Empress Sato forever!

    6. Lilo*

      I liked Season 1 of Loki but Season 2 isn’t working for me.

      I’m someone who finds Fandom obsession without continuity to be tiresome so if they use it as an excuse to tell the stories they want, it works for me.

      I really liked Into the Spiderverse using it as an excuse to be zany (I haven’t seen the sequel) and I think things like the Mirror episodes of Star Trek are fun. Stargate had some interesting alternate universe episodes. It ultimately most seems to be a storytelling technique where they can write the stories they can’t get-away with in their main plots (giving characters big death scenes, for instance).

      But its definitely getting overdone in Marvel and that’s a problem. You can’t do Mirror episodes all the time.

      1. allathian*

        I really liked season 1 of Loki, but season 2 leaves me scratching my head in confusion most of the time. I’m pretty plot-driven. Sure, I enjoy great characterization, but it should be secondary to a reasonably logical plot. As I see it, the lack of a coherent plot is Loki’s most serious flaw. The only thing that keeps me watching is Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I don’t know if your line about “stick your finger in your ear” was an intentional reference to “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but IMO that was not only a fantastic exploration of the idea of a multiverse, but a wonderful story about moms and daughters, about marriage, and about being middle aged and the personal reckoning that comes with it.

      I also think the Spiderverse is really wonderful due to the quality of the animation, as well as the storytelling and character building.

      The multiverse is a framework, and it’s only as good as the story it’s telling. I’m enjoying Loki but have not been drawn in by S2 yet as much as S1. I perceive the issue as that they don’t seem to know what kind of story they’re telling. S1 was a redemption arc for Loki, coming to terms with himself and having a sincere (if wierd) relationship with Sylvie. This season is just chaos, with everyone working toward different goals and no real compelling reason to help each other. They’re switching sides so fast that there’s no impact when they do.

      Maybe that’s supposed to reflect the fragmented timeline, but I don’t think it’s working very well.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Chaos resulting in no impact rings true. Like when B-15 is devastated that each of those timelines is billions of real people, and then beep boop we are ending them right and left and who cares because saving the TVA is the only thing that matters.

        I am honestly unclear on why Loki keeps saying that only by saving the TVA (which is horrifically corrupt and has done a lot of evil, per S1) and the man at the end of time (who seems to want to kill everyone) can the universe be saved. Sylvie seems right in her instincts, but the way it’s filmed seems like I’m supposed to agree with Loki and find her tragically misguided. If only the characters in the Marvel universe knew about distance weapons, that dude would be toast.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I think it’s supposed to be that Loki believed it when He Who Remains said that many timelines= many variants of himself, and some of them were worse than himself.

          But then it seems like he just wants to stop the TVA from blowing up because he likes Ouroboros and doesn’t want him to die. (Although OB could just portal out, so IDK).

          Yeak, it’s vague.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I remember a short story in which A Dude became a monster who largely destroyed the world in all the timelines. And so time travelers from the future kept trying to come back and kill him, and failing. Told from the point of view of his dad, after his wife and other children were killed but they missed him and son–what saved the world was not killing teenaged/baby/not-yet-conceived Thanos, but instead a world where he knew that was possible and grew up with a dad who loved him and believed in him, and so he made different choices.

            Also a story in which people tried to time travel back to kill Hitler and kept missing. What worked was the time traveller who time travelled back, and told him his real dad–who was totally not that Jewish dude, a totally different dude–wanted him to have this stipend so he could go to art school in Paris. He could live in a quaint artist’s studio and hang out in cafes and paint. His dad cared about his future and wanted to help him.

            What if the best thing to stop Evil HWR is a different variant of HWR? Rather than destroying billions of people in each of millions of timelines, because maybe then you’ll take out baby HWR?

    8. YNWA*

      It’s a money grab by the House of Mouse. They can’t/won’t do certain storylines due to their “family friendly” image (I don’t think we’d ever see God Loves, Man Kills from the X-Men for example) so they’re mining the non-canonical disjointed comic series like What If? (similar to DC’s Elseworlds) and Marvel Tales. People want more of the Avengers comics but the House of Mouse is moving on with their plodding attempt to destroy us through nostalgia so to get more of those characters you’re resigned to the television shows.

    9. Delphine*

      I’ve never quite understood this complaint about multiverses. There may be multiple versions of a person in parallel universes, but of course the individual pain and tragedy still matter. Someone is still experiencing them. What does it mean to them that there’s a parallel world where they aren’t suffering? Nothing. Infinity War Loki still died, Thor still felt the pain of his loss. Is his loss alleviated because there’s a variant of his brother in another world? The Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 was not the Gamora that Quill was in love with, that loved Quill. It doesn’t diminish the tragedy of her death, it heightens it. There is no going back.

      But I’ve always been fascinated by time travel and parallel world and the question of how a person changes in the events of their life change, even just a little.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Larry Niven had a very depressing story about multiverses, called “All the Myriad Ways”, which made me recall Granny Weatherwax’s reaction to the same situation which I found a great deal more practical.

    10. Hannah*

      When I hate it: when it’s brought in late in a series, usually TV, because they’ve written themselves into a corner and need a way out. I haven’t kept up with Marvel, but I agree with the comments above that it’s a way to have the drama of killing characters without the consequences.

      When I love it: when it’s baked into the plot from the start, like the Spiderverse movies and Everything Everywhere All at Once. I like it when the multiverse grapples with the infinite number of options we have, and how our lives could be different if events had gone a different way. That actually has resonance to me.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Eureka is an example of writing into a corner. The alternate world reset worked on one level, as the writers belatedly figured out that, for example, viewers didn’t think “Zane is the coolest dude!” but “Zane is an asshole who disrespects the awesome Jo, and their relationship is tedious and bad for her.” (Even the actors diplomatically allowed that their romance sure seemed very teenaged.) So it fixed things that weren’t working, but at the cost of having written themselves into those corners.

        I don’t remember if the original recipe versions of themselves got dumped into the old timeline, but that would be pretty sucky for them.

    11. New Jack Karyn*

      I am kind of over how the MCU is doing multiverse. We’ve only watched Ep1 of S2, but I’m not in a hurry to catch up. It seems like anything that happens, they can explain or solve or handwave away with ‘multiverse, cropped timelines, what are ya gonna do?’.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      To list some more examples of multiverse/alternate history/similar stories that I liked:

      The Midnight Library
      This resonated a lot for me, and I think one thing it embodies is that we excel at looking back at the past and saying “Well, there, I could have made a different choice back there. But now everything is fixed and I can’t change anything.” Even if in 10 years we would look back and see a ton of things we could change right now, when we’re in the middle it seems fixed and unchanging.

      I also thought the book hinted at how unfair its central conceit was–if an alternate version of me shoved its way into my consciousness because my life was better, I wouldn’t be thinking “Hey, alternate me, just glad I could help out. Enjoy the life I built with my choices, while I either get shoved in a metaphorical broom closet or stuck into your current life. A life that is not my fault.” (Having typed that, I now think I have seen this plot? With the original recipe version fighting to oust the intruder from their shared headspace?)

      The Good Place
      I loved this and still rewatch. Particularly love the moment in S2 where Chidi breaks down because he keeps reliving versions of his life, but he can never learn anything and apply it going forward. That was an existential gut punch for me, and I often return to the concept.

      Everything Everywhere All at Once
      This I really enjoyed, and it landed as a zany and creative framing around a story about mothers, about family, about feeling stuck.

      Spiderman Into the Spiderverse
      I recall this as being quite fun. Not trying to fit all of the MU in there probably helped it feel like framing for this story, so I only have to worry about how well the logic is working within this smaller space.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        For a related concept, the different choices and lives of clones, I really liked Orphan Black (TV show) and Mirror Dance (Vorkosigan novel). In both stories, the clones are individual humans rather than iterations of the same ur character.

        In the former, I thought the huge range of outcomes believable, and also that it made a lot of sense for the clones to empathize with Helena, because “there but for the grace of God go I” was very literally true–put my newborn infant genes in this environment and Helena is what results.

        In the latter, central to the morality of the series is that your clone is no more a lesser being, yours to extract parts from as you will, than is your identical twin conceived the old-fashioned way along with you.

    13. Quinalla*

      Star Trek plays with alternative universes/time travel a lot – sometimes well, sometimes not. The key is to make alternate characters real people in their own right with their own feelings and motivations – let the audience actually get to know them – then their lives to feel like they matter because the alternate version(s) aren’t them.

      Farscape didn’t have alternate universes, but it did clone the main character once and instead of it being a gag/story for one episode, the clone stuck around for a long time and you actually began to care about the two different people that started out as clones.

      I think Marvel has done ok with their multi-verse stuff. We still care at least about “our” characters, even if other alternate universe characters are played for laughs, etc. We’ll see how they do with time travel as it looks like they are going to pull a time travel reverse after this last episode. It can be a really cheap way to have a character death and undo it which can be really obnoxious especially if the characters that undo it don’t even earn it.

  6. Palliser7*

    I would love some Halloweeny book recommendations if anyone has them. Looking for scary but not too scary—The Graveyard Book, All Hallows and the Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires are some I really enjoyed.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The author behind Southern Book Club also wrote The Final Girl Support Group, which was alright. The Final Girls all are the last survivor of varying Hollywood-quality murderfests, and now – gasp – someone is trying to finish the jobs! (Halloween-y in the sense that it takes after Friday the Thirteenth, Halloween, Freddy Krueger type movies in feel.)

    2. acmx*

      I liked Grady’s How to Sell a Haunted House. I couldn’t get into his Last Girl Standing (may not be the correct title). Too many movie references for me.

      The Graveyard Apartment Mariko Koike.

      1. Maestra*

        I found “How to Sell a Haunted House” pretty creepy! If puppets freak you out, it might not be for you.

      2. Clisby*

        I’m going to try How to Sell a Haunted House – the Southern Book Club had too much gross horror for me, although I liked about the first half.

        I did kind of laugh when I saw the title – Grady Hendrix is from Charleston, SC, and apparently most of the novel takes place here. I can promise you, nobody here is going to have trouble selling a haunted house. List it, and buyers will come.

      1. Girasol*

        The Ocean at the End of the Lane, also by Neil Gaiman. Great portrayal of maiden, mother, and crone.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree and From the Dust Return’d. The former’s a YA novel, the latter a chain of stories he put together with Charles Addams, who drew the cover. I read them every year!

      Then there’s the classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and Sir Conan Doyle’s short story Lot 249, which essentially is the basis of our movie versions of “mummy stories” in general.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I once had a book with Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in it, with an introduction by Stephen King. King’s introduction really helped me understand the books as I read them, and I enjoyed them much more than I would have otherwise.

        I’ve run into people who have tried to read them and didn’t like them, but I think their experience would have been different if they had had the same background knowledge I did going in. King must have been one hell of an English teacher.

        Anyway, it’s one of those books I loved and lost over the years, but I would give anything to have it back.

        tl;dr: The classics are awesome! Please read them.

        1. Just here for the scripts*

          Must.find.this.book. And above in the general reading thread are books for the haunting season, including “Ghosts” a self curated collection of short stories by Edith Wharton

          1. GoryDetails*

            Wharton’s ghost stories are awesome! “Afterward” is pretty well-known – and deservedly so – but the others are worth reading as well.

      2. Clisby*

        It’s not exactly a Halloween book, but Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is well worth a read. It does take place not long before Halloween, but it’s not Halloween-themed. The 1983 Disney production, with Jonathan Pryce as Mr. Dark, is a pretty good adaptation – Bradbury wrote the screenplay, and it’s not your typical Disney film.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I really like T Kingfisher’s horror leaning stuff (often creepy but not gory, with a sense of humour). The Twisted Ones, The Hollow Places (both inspired by Gothic fiction), A House with Good Bones, and What Moves the Dead (a retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher).

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’ll second those. “The Hollow Places” is my favorite, but they’re all very entertaining – creepy but with funny/snarky bits as well.

    5. BlanketFort*

      The Woman In Black by Susan Hill is a creepy gothic haunted house story perfect for Halloween. Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces books are middle-grade horror and the first one is set on an autumnal Vermont farm.

    6. Aphrodite*

      Frankenstein and/or Dracula. Wonderful writing, wonderful stories. If you haven’t yet read them you are in for a real treat.

      1. DannyG*

        High school English did a Gothic Novel section one semester. Read all of those classics. Not my favorite, but glad I had the chance to read them with guidance and the opportunity to discuss in depth.

    7. lbd*

      Try one of Neil Gaiman’s short story anthologies; Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, Trigger Warning. Also, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, his illustrated novelette. It is a favourite of mine!
      I think I will reread The Graveyard Book for Hallowe’en!

    8. Ochre*

      Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, in which the end of the world and return of the elder gods is at stake. There is a dog and also a cat. I don’t love other Zelazny books but really did enjoy this one.

    9. NaoNao*

      “Horrostor” (it’s a bit gory but mostly dark humor) is a very funny and interesting take on the classic “stuck overnight in a spooky drafty warehouse/haunted department store” trope.

    10. Children's Librarian*

      If you liked The Graveyard Book and are willing to read more children’s scary fiction, Small Spaces by Katherine Arden is one I adored, and have had both adults and kids really like it. It’s genuinely spooky and atmospheric, but also a kid’s book so you can have confidence that things will probably work out.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One that might be hard to find but I love a lot: The Dreaming Jewels, by Theodore Sturgeon.

      It’s a slender little thing set in an old carnival show. Creepy and disturbing more than scary. But it stuck with me so long ordered a replacement online.

    1. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      right? I love it! and I thought for a minute that that floofy cat toy was – a seventh cat!

      1. SarahKay*

        Same here. I was counting the cats and then realised that one of those things was not like the others.

  7. Jackalope*

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

    Still working away at FF 6. I think I’m getting close to the end but still have a way to go.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Trying to stay caught up on news and previews for the new Ixalan set, Fallout crossover, Marvel crossover.

      And also just had to drop $200 to restock sleeves/perfect fits.

      1. Firecat*

        My spouse claims he has no idea what is so appealing about unboxing videos…then watches Tolarian Community College crack packs. The irony is not lost on me

        1. The Dude Abides*

          IMO, Brian doesn’t crack a box or three for the sake of doing so, there is usually an ulterior motive in choosing what boxes to crack.

          My partner and I have an mutual agreement – she doesn’t ask how much I spend on shiny cardboard, I don’t ask what she spends on clothes/tickets. Our daughter does like to look at the art on the lands I pick up, but hasn’t shown much interest in learning the game yet.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Now obsessed with Cassette Beasts and Suika game ( although I’m not sure why they didn’t translate the title of that last one. it’s about dropping fruits in a basket, they combine to make other fruit, but there’s physics. Cassette Beasts is said to be the best Pokemon game in the world and I’m enjoying the first bit ( only 2 hours in)

    3. Lilith*

      Been learning to GM in a long-running Star Wars RPG group – it’s so much work, but I’m hoping that’s only until I get my head around everything I need to do. It is fun though!

    4. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I’m at a resort and the WiFi drops me at random moments, so no gaming–very tried of losing contact with the main server for FFXIV. Sigh.

  8. Finding peace and joy in solo travel / solo days?*

    Hi introverts! Or anyone who wants to respond :)

    I am a generally contentedly long-term partnered person, but when I get a few nights away from my partner — I am really overjoyed. I don’t think it’s him, I think it’s that I am an introvert who tends to be hyperaware of others around me. For example, I’m never unaware of what my dogs are doing or feeling — I’m always scanning their faces to see how they’re feeling or what they need. I can’t turn this hypervigilance off.

    While I am working on that personality trait of mine, in the meantime, I’m finding time away from my partner really delightful. I feel like I can hear myself think, like I can expand and take up space, and like I can really feel my feelings… does this make sense to anyone else? I also really like this aspect of solo travel, once the weirdness of being by myself and doing that something that doesn’t serve some productive purpose goes away.

    I’m typing this as he left for a road trip yesterday — along with the dogs. This is my first solo evening. I typically start to miss them in about 2 days.

    Can anyone relate? Is this a flavor of normal?

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Lord, yes. I don’t consider myself very introverted, but honestly, Husband has no idea how much space he takes up in our relationship. My favorite hours of the week are when he’s working on my day off. I’ve flat out told him I NEED those hours if we’re going to stay together as a couple!

    2. Merry and bright*

      Yes, I’m like that too with my family. One thing that I notice is that when my family is out I don’t hear their noise. They aren’t particularly loud, and I don’t consciously notice the sounds, but the contrasting silence when they are out feels relaxing.

      1. Anon for This*

        I have tried to get it through my husband’s head that I would like to have regular occasions where I have the house to myself for a few hours (and know that the family won’t be back before X time, so I don’t spend the whole time on edge expecting them to show up any minute). I get that time alone maybe once every two to three years, and I am starved enough for it that I’d consider divorce after the kids are grown if that wouldn’t be financially disastrous.

        1. Wilde*

          Thanks for sharing this. My oldest is 4 and I am BURNT. OUT. And every now and then I think about divorce, too. The idea of shared custody and having days to myself makes me want to cry with relief. So maybe it’s not my husband? Maybe it’s just the noise?

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          My husband’s work happens to allow for him to have random days off while the kids are at school and I’m at work, but I’m a teacher so ALL my time off coincides with the kids being home too. It’s nobody’s fault but it’s so hard not to feel resentful.

    3. Alex*

      I don’t have a partner, but I can still relate! While I do enjoy doing things with friends, when I do things alone, sometimes I enjoy them more–like traveling. I LOVE traveling alone. I revel in it. I also live alone, and while I enjoy having people over, I revel in having my own space most of the time. I don’t think it’s weird at all!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Traveling solo is the BEST. I catch up on my reading, like 13 books during a week of vacation. (I read in line, and while waiting for things, and while eating… basically anyplace it’s safe to do.) And while I’m doing that, husband stays home and has the house to himself.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree. It’s lovely to travel with friends but the BEST trips I’ve ever taken are always solo. I feel so unencumbered and spontaneous.

    4. Double A*

      I don’t really consider myself an introvert but I really like my own thoughts. Getting to be alone with them is a pleasure. Getting to just worry about yourself is an absolute luxury.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Completely relate. I never realized how much my moment-to-moment schedule revolved around other people, until I had the house to myself.

    6. anon24*

      I love my husband so much. I also love so much when he leaves for a few days. He used to have a hobby that would regularly take him away for 2-5 days once a month during the spring/summer. I loved it, because it was just me and the cats home alone and I could have all the peace and quiet and do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. He knows that when I say “I’m so happy you’re going away for a few days” it is because I love my solitude. He is in my life because he’s the only person special enough for me to be willing to give up my precious aloneness and let him into my space, and he knows that. I also love when he comes back of course, because if I didn’t we wouldn’t be together. He also likes having time alone and if I’m out in the evening and come home earlier than expected he’ll tell me he wishes I would have stayed out later. Neither of us get upset and our relationship is safe and solid enough that we can say these things to each other and know it isnt a personal attack :)

    7. FrozenSky*

      I totally relate. I love my partner and our life together, but I delight in alone time. We’ve built longer stretches of time apart into our life recently, and it’s great. I feel more balanced and more like myself overall. Like you I can end up feeling exhausted from being hyper-vigilant and overstimulated. I don’t even really miss them when we’re apart because my brain is not wired that way, which used to make me feel like a bad person. I am happy when we’re back together though so I’ve accepted it now.

    8. I heart Paul Buchman*

      Totally normal to enjoy time alone. I’m an extroverted, extrovert who loves it when I get a couple of nights to myself. I eat what I want, watch my own tv shows, ignore the dishes and stay in my jammies. I can do all these this with company but no observers is super.

    9. Firecat*

      Very normal. I’ve been married over a decade and always enjoy the first day or two away from home. Then I miserably miss everyone.

      1. Dr Towers*

        Normal for my marriage too. Love my husband but still offer to pack when he goes away for a night or two. Don’t rush back. I love the chance to recharge in silence. Space to remind oneself who we are when apart from partner seems to me a very healthy thing.

    10. The Dude Abides*

      Fellow introvert here.

      I too appreciate the chance to have alone time. Partner travels by plane 1-2 times per month for work, and during those trips our 4yo stays with partner’s retired mom. I have to be in-office by 745, so its easier on everyone, and her mom retired for the explicit purpose of helping care for the only granddaughter.

    11. Sloanicota*

      The absolute GLEE in my mother’s voice when my dad leaves (and they have a great marriage generally and seem very happy). “I don’t need to clean! I’m going to eat pretzels for dinner! I’m still in my PJs!” I always think it’s funny she can’t make herself do this while he’s home but I guess she feels there are Standards To Maintain. Which is to say, I think it’s pretty normal, but I do think some people would be hurt to hear it, so I wouldn’t go too far talking about it with my partner.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      When I was in the raising small kids years, another parent observed that it was great when their partner was traveling for business because it cleared the lines of command. You weren’t always dancing around each other, considering another person’s wants–you set the dinner menu, dinner timing, etc. That really resonated with me. Not that either of us didn’t love our partner and choose to be with them and would make that choice again–but that having only one adult to consider for a week felt easier in a lot of ways, and was a refreshing change.

      When my spouse did his first post-covid long business trip, I had a few hours to myself before one of our kids landed back home after a crisis. I am SO GLAD I was here so that they had someone to talk to and care about them. But it was a very different vibe than my anticipated two weeks with only me and the pets to look after.

      Just now my husband is gone, with our dog, and I had such a good day yesterday. Removing from the house the two beings whom I put the most effort into caring for (the cats are still here) just changed what planning I need to do for others. (To be clear: I love my husband and dog very much. They are good carbon-based life forms. The former takes care of me in 1000 ways. (The dog is mildly fond of me but considers me competition for my husband’s attention, which should go to her.)) I expect to really enjoy the next couple of weeks. (And am grateful for last week’s “What’s inexpensive and doesn’t require cooking?” thread; I’ll be going to Trader Joe’s tomorrow.)

      1. TM 42*

        Yes – there’s something about the mental load of taking someone else into account that is just so pleasant to let go of when your partner is gone. I was so sad that the alone-with-no-expectations time from my husband’s business trip this week was instead taken up with car-repair and jury duty concerns.

    13. My Brain is Exploding*

      I’m always a little excited, but conflicted because I CAN NOT GO TO SLEEP AT NIGHT WHEN I AM HOME ALONE. So I usually start a big sewing project and leave everything out everywhere for a few days. I get something accomplished but I am SO TIRED by the time my spouse returns.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I’m the same way!! I found that listening to an audiobook on a timer really helps me (or sometimes just putting something on that I’ve already listened to, and not setting the timer so it talks all night).

        It kind of gets my mind involved into the story so that it shuts down the hyper vigilant part of me, I guess?

        I tried reading physical books and would be literally dropping the book but the transition between not reading and sleep was too much and I would wake right back up.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I recently discovered the podcast Nothing Much Happens which is designed for this purpose. They are short stories with enough to engage your brain but not too much so you can fall asleep. I love it because I don’t fall asleep during my audiobooks anymore. I kept having to rewind to where I left off and figure out what I missed when I fell asleep. :)

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      One of my favorite memes is a guy saying “excuse me, I need to go stand in front of a cabinet my wife wants to open.”
      That’s how much room my husband takes up. And he is a big tall guy, too!
      And I love him to pieces! And I also love me some alone time.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It is genuinely astonishing how often my husband’s choice of where to lean in the kitchen where I’m making dinner is right in front of the cabinet that holds the next thing I need.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        YES OH MY GOD. My husband is six-four and two-eighty and between him and the dogs, someone is ALWAYS standing in front of the counter or cupboard or door I need to get to.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Very early in our relationship, I said to my now-husband, “How can I miss you if you never leave?”

      I can usually find some quiet time to center myself no matter what’s going on, but there is a special delight when I can be completely alone. My mind / feelings do a biiiig stretch, like a dog or cat.

    16. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a full-on extrovert and I feel the same way. The only time I didn’t love the first two days alone were when I was working full-time, we had two large dogs, and our kid was under ten and thus required more active hands-on parenting and transportation. Before and after those few years it is heaven to not have to trip over the size 14 sneakers that always end up in the middle of the floor, turn on the TV whenever I want and watch whatever I please, and turn the light on to read in bed if I wake up in the middle of the night.

    17. SoloKid*

      Not at all weird! We’ve even admitted to each other as much. We have a medium size house and our own hobbies, so I can go out and garden in peace. I dont think I feel the same way about travel solo though – I do prefer having him there!

    18. Katie*

      I work from home. A continual cycle of them have been sick or at home for the last two weeks. I was delighted that I finally had a day to myself yesterday. I love them dearly and they didn’t drive me crazy or anything, I just needed just me time.

    19. numptea*

      My household has a joke that my husband wouldn’t survive the zombie apocalypse because he would rather socialize with the zombies than be alone. Meanwhile, I have yet to find an amount of alone time that’s too much for me.

      He has not traveled without me for more than 3 days in our decades of marriage. We live local to family and his job doesn’t require travel. The one time I freaked out and begged him to come home from a weekend boys’ trip was because the washing machine broke (like, in half) and flooded the laundry room.

    20. MissB*

      perfectly normal, imo. Or we’re twins.

      I’ve been married for 28 years. When our kids were young, he’d take them on a bike trip for two weeks every summer. I love my kids and my husband, but omg that time was absolutely heaven to me. Of course I missed them after a few days.

      Dh is about to retire. He’ll be around allllll the time. No more business trips. I must encourage travel.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Side note: are you from the UK? I’m becoming more sensitive to UK colloquialisms and DH for dear husband has recently started showing up more often.

              1. the cat's pajamas*

                I saw it in the 2000s, and was very confused for a while because I thought it meant “divorced husband” until I figured it out! Hilarity ensued.

            1. Roland*

              It’s weird to me that you think it’s more likely that I only talk to people online who live where I live, than that you simply came across a new word you didn’t know!

          1. carcinization*

            I know “DH” was common back when I was frequenting the Offbeat Bride website when I was wedding-planning in 2009, and that definitely is not a regional thing.

            1. Random Bystander*

              I’ve seen it even further back … forums on family related topics, frequently had a whole glossary for DH, DD, DS, etc … back in the late 1990s.

    21. Donkey Hotey*

      My wife is very extroverted; I’m an ambivert. Together for 14 years. We have both, on occasion, taken separate trips, either for work or fun. If we ever wake about going, we will say to the other: “But how can I miss you if you won’t go away?” Time off and away is a good and healthy thing.

    22. don'tbeadork*

      It is absolutely normal, I promise. Coming up on 30 years married and I wouldn’t trade him for the world, but dear lord do I love it when he’s out with friends. And I love it more after I’ve had my alone time and he comes back. Even with someone you’re really comfortable with there is a certain level of “on” that is necessary. Having a few (or a lot) of hours to be “off” is utter bliss.

    23. allathian*

      I don’t enjoy traveling alone anymore, although I did when I was younger and had more energy. But I love having the house to myself on the days my husband goes to the office and our son’s at school. I also enjoy it when they go on day trips together.

    24. EquisC*

      Absolutely. I had surgery a while back and had to have my partner help with dressing changes, which meant I was stapled to him over the weekend when he usually goes to his parents’ house to help with the garden and such. I was miserable after about a month of no time to myself. We eventually were able to give me a night on my own here and there, but my partner absolutely commented how I clearly needed some alone time. He’s very observant and totally gets that I need that space.

    25. kt*

      Enjoying a solo weekend right now. I spent three hours weeding this morning. I thought to myself, why don’t I get to this during the summer? Oh, right, I am always attuned to what spouse or child might want/need/feel. Even though my spouse has indicated in several ways that I ought to do what I want sometimes even if a family member is disappointed — I still do that scanning, as you call it. I have a very hard time turning it off — maybe I can’t. I took an art class in the afternoon. Yes I still need to do laundry etc, but… I don’t need to think about anyone else’s schedule or hunger or skin rash or lunch preferences or anything.

      For a while earlier in kid’s life, spouse & I had a deal that each of us got 2 hours “off” during the weekend or week to do whatever, no questions asked, generally elsewhere (or if being home was needed, a request could be made to take kid elsewhere).

      But yes, what you say makes perfect sense to me.

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

      Oh, yes. Been a while since I’ve had a partner, but alone time is important. Maybe that’s why I always picked really independent partners. Lol.

    27. Filosofickle*

      Coming at this from a slightly different angle…

      I love alone time to the point I questioned I could really be in a relationship and share my home ever again…and then I fell head over heals in love. And I loved living with him and honestly never wanted to be away from him. It was shocking to me, but there I was. I loved sharing space with him, all day every day…until he left, very suddenly. There’s more to it but in part honestly to escape my hypervigilance. He couldn’t find himself or hear his own emotions because i was always orienting toward him and drowning him out. So he left, and suddenly I found myself spending days in bed reading doing whatever I wanted…and it occurred to me that he truly would have preferred this iteration of me. Living my life, unconcerned about him/us, taking care of me. And I thought at the time, if I could have done more of this while he was here maybe he wouldn’t have left? The irony is I don’t know if I am actually capable of doing that. When there is someone else around, I find it almost impossible to ignore their presence. I hope in the future I’ll find ways to center myself more but I am not sure I can.

      1. allathian*

        Thankfully I’ve always been too lazy, selfish, or aware of my own needs of alone time to go down that road. The hardest time for me was when our son was a baby and toddler, and physically dependent on me and his dad for survival.

        Healthy, independent teenagers with no special needs are a lot easier to deal with.

    28. Choggy*

      Late to the party but agree wholeheartedly. Am also an introvert and can just putter around doing my own thing for hours.

    29. Suesuesue*

      I’m super late to this but I was just wishing and hoping someone would give me just 4 hours of uninterrupted nobody around time in my own home. I.am.never.alone. And both my husband and daughter are extroverts. It is so draining. Happy for you!

  9. Peanut Hamper*

    Any good bean soup recipes? I love beans, but most of my recipes are “soup = beans + something smoky (i.e., smoked hocks, ham, or bacon”).

    As it’s autumn, I really am looking forward to soup season, but I want to do something different with beans than I usually do. Any ideas?

    1. Jay*

      I love home made pork and beans.
      -Soak your dried beans overnight in salted water (I like Lupini beans the best, but Red Kidneys work great too). I like to make large batches, so I’ll prep maybe 1.5 lbs. like this.
      -Mix your stock of choice (Ham for preference, but I’ve found that Chicken works just fine) with unflavored gelatin. Let sit while you prep everything else. Again, I like to make large batches, so I’ll use two large cartons.
      -In a large (or at least large-ish) Dutch Oven, on the stove top on medium high heat, fry up Salt Pork or Pork-Belly. You want much (but not all!) of the fat to render out, so until golden brown on all sides and sitting in a pool of rendered pork fat. I like a smaller amount of this compared to other things, so, maybe a pound, tops.
      -Take this out of the Dutch Oven and set aside for now.
      -Next you want about 3-5 pounds of large chunked Pork Shoulder. Roughly in the neighborhood of an inch and a half to the side should be okay. I add a really nice amount of salt and fresh ground black pepper at this point. Brown that on all sides in the rendered pork fat. You want the large chunks because you do NOT want to cook this through, just brown it for flavor. Cook it through and it will turn to shoe leather, only less appetizing.
      -Once it’s golden brown, remove the Pork Shoulder and set aside with your Pork Belly.
      -Drain off all but a little bit of the rendered fat.
      -Add either one large or two small diced Onions. Cook until they are transparent-ish. These also do a wonderful job of deglazing your Dutch Oven for you.
      -Once the Onions are cooked, add your Stock/Gelatin mixture, then your Beans.
      -Bring to a boil, then back off on the heat so it’s at a nice simmer.
      -Simmer the mixture for about an hour.
      -Add in the Pork Shoulder and Pork Belly.
      -Continue to simmer for about another hour. At this point I will add in a flavoring of some kind. Usually a really nice barbeque sauce. Sweet Baby Ray’s is terrific, or whatever else you like. It’s just a little something extra to dress up everything else. I have a homemade Pork Rub that I will often use, if I’ve made some up recently.
      -Pre-Heat your oven to 250F.
      -Cook at 250F for between 8 and 12 hours uncovered (depending on batch size and the size of your Pork Shoulder chunks). Stir every two hours or so.
      -Thank me later!

    2. Not A Manager*

      If you come across escarole in the grocery store, I love white bean and escarole soup. Doesn’t have to be porky.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      White bean chicken soup. White beans, chicken thighs, carrots, celery, bouillon cubes or chicken broth, sauteed onions and garlic, and thyme. Potatoes too if you feel like it.

    4. Dreaming of daffodils*

      I love the Italian bean soup with tons of veggies from Molly Wizenberg, she calls her recipe “Ed Fretwell soup.” It’s on her blog, Orangette, and in her book A Homemade Life. Will post. Link if I can find it!

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I make a nacho soup. Between 1-4 kinds of beans that seem like they might go on nachos (I often use kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans), tomatoes, corn, and whatever spices seem nacho-y to you (I usually use chili powder, garlic, and cumin). You can also add anything else that you’d add to fancy nachos that would improve with cooking in soup (some kind of meat, other kinds of vegetables, etc.).

      Top with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, and anything else that sounds like it’d go on nachos but would be better not cooking with the soup the whole time.

      This is also great to take to potlucks, since if you don’t add meat and are careful about spice blends, the base soup is vegan and gluten-free, so it works for a pretty wide group of people without using “weird” substitute ingredients that some might shy away from. (The vegans I tend to potluck with aren’t mad that other people get cheese and sour cream on their soup and they just get chips because they’re too busy being happy that someone else brought something with protein and a variety of flavors in it that they could eat as a main course, but YMMV. And, of course, if you’re going to a fully vegan potluck you can just omit the dairy toppings entirely.)

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      There’s a bean and leek soup I love, I’ll try to post a link as a reply. It calls for chilli oil, which I never have, so I make it without – I think it’s perfect that way.

    7. fposte*

      I like a good template myself. For me another good one is cannellini + kale or other greens in chicken broth (plus aromatics and herbs, of course). I also really like a Spanish chickpea and spinach stew; there are a lot of versions (and it does use smoked paprika, so it doesn’t escape the smoky thing entirely), but I generally model on the BBC one that includes pine nuts and golden raisins. I’ll append in followup.

    8. sagewhiz*

      Pasta Fazool!

      Drain 1 can dk red kidney beans, reserving liquid. Dice 1 med. stalk celery, 1 med. carrot, 1 med. onion. In med-size saucepan heat small amount of olive oil, saute veggies and 1 minced clove garlic over med-low heat till translucent. Add 8 0z. tomato sauce, 8 oz. diced tomatoes, and beans. Add water to reserved bean liquid to equal 1½ c. , mix with veggies along with ¼ tsp. salt & ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper. Simmer 30 min. Just before serving, stir in 1 T olive oil.

      Meanwhile, cook 1 c. macaroni to al dente, drain, portion into 2 to 3 bowls and ladle soup over. SLATHER with grated Parmesan. Dive in!

      Serves 4 with bread and salad, serves 2 to 3 hearty eaters without sides.

      (For years I heard Dom DeLouise on talk shows raving about this comfort food, but searches for “pasta fazool” got me nowhere. Until I discovered this is a slang pronunciation of Pasta e fagioli. Bingo! And gosh was he right about how delicious such a simple dish is. Just don’t mix the mac into the soup—if there are any leftovers, the pasta turns to goopy mush.)

      1. Zelda*

        My pumpkin harvest is in, so I may have to try that one (my experience has been that cooking soup from chunks of raw pumpkin works fine, puree step not required). Thanks!

    9. Peanut Hamper*

      These are all wonderful. Thank you, this will probably get me through what is looking to be a long and depressing winter.

    10. carcinization*

      If lentils count as beans there are a lot of good recipes! Post Punk Kitchen’s Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup with Spinach & Olives (a vegan recipe that can be googled) springs immediately to mind. Budget Bytes also has a lot of good lentil soup recipes.

    11. Retired MT*

      Weight watchers gave me a great easy recipe that uses black beans. Take one can of minestrone soup, one cane of mixed vegetables, one can of diced tomatoes, one can of black beans and one can of corn. Open pour into a saucepan and heat. If you are so inclined, a can of chili meat and a hunk of velveeta( cubed) can also be added. This is great for a night when you want something quick, warm and filling and the refrigerator is bare.

    12. Generic Name*

      We just had sausage, kale, and white bean soup from allrecipes. Teenage son devours it, including the kale. Very easy to make.

  10. Jolene*

    Cross country move advice! We will be moving cross country for work in the next 6 months. Work pays for movers, vehicle shipping, hotels, per diem, etc. – so we are very lucky in that regard. But I’m struggling with the logistics of how to move the living creatures!

    We have 2 adults, 2 kids (currently ages 3 and <1), and 3 dogs.

    I’m not willing to “check” the dogs, so flying is out. Which means a very long drive!

    We can’t fit everyone + normal luggage for a week drive in our normal sized SUV. So, we will ship our car and…then what?!?

    Thought about renting a motorhome maybe? But, I think I just have found memories of 1980s childhood when seatbelts weren’t really a thing in motorhomes, and the kids are too young anyway to just wander around. It seems like it would be not fun and defeat the point to have to have two car seats in a motorhome.

    Do we rent a travel van? A larger SUV? Any other ideas of recommendations?

    And, seriously, how are we going to survive a week on the road with the world’s chattiest 3 year old and an infant?!? Tips, thoughts, and prayers welcome!

    1. acmx*

      Can you rent a small tow trailer for your luggage? Or place it on the roof? Not sure how much luggage is needed to drive cross country?
      Good luck!

      1. Jolene*

        Hmm. That might not be a bad idea, if want to drive (not ship) our SUV. It would still be tight – kids in back seat, and then all three dogs in “way back” (essentially the trunk, but no divide). That might work as a back up plan, if nothing else.

    2. Hypatia*

      Have you thought about divide and conquer? One parent rtakes dogs and car (maybe invite a friend along to share the drive) . The other parent flies with cute children and stays in a hotel/with friends until reinforcements arrive. It would be hard, but the flying would be over with quickly.
      However, if you go in a car- a big rental might be awkward but doable. Just keep the kids well fed. You don’t need too much to keep them happy – a few favorite toys to rotate, one or two new ones for novelty , and their favorite videos and audio books. Music too- Laurie Berkner and Sandra Boyton’s Philadelphia chickens got my kids through a lot of road trips. (We’d drive 16 hours in one day.) And it’s okay if they just look out the windows. I’ve never traveled with dogs but I assume they need potty breaks and stretching /walk times- just like the kids and parents.
      One thing to realize is that whatever method you chose, sometimes the trip will be easy and other times hard and you can’t prepare for everything. Just be somewhat prepared and try to remember it will pass.

      1. Jolene*

        Divide and conquer is a great idea, but I wouldn’t be ideal for us personally. Mainly bc I’m the weak link! I can’t stand the idea of being without my wife and kids for a week on the drive – I’d be so lonely and miss them so much and probably go crazy being alone for days in the car. And I also don’t think I’m competent to handle both kids on a flight without my wife! (Meanwhile, my wife would ace either of those tests! I married up.)

          1. Zelda*

            On a long drive, two drivers is safer than one. Being able to trade off, keep each other alert, etc. is highly useful.

        1. connie*

          You are going to need to step up here and be willing to do some uncomfortable things that stretch you to make this move work. Take the suggestion to add a friend or other adult somewhere to help, but you’re going to have to get competent. Over the long term, having the experience of doing this tough thing and getting through it will only help you and your family.

          1. Jolene*

            I was largely kidding. I’m with both kids alone all the time. We have no family in current location, and both parents work full time with “big” jobs.

            I would greatly prefer for the four of us to be together if possible. Not always possible. We do what we gotta do.

    3. Lucky Librarian*

      I looked into this when we were moving and found that there’s really not a way to put kiddo car seats in an RV. Maybe if it’s one that you tow behind the regular vehicle? We ended up flying but we didn’t have pets, so.

      1. Lucky Librarian*

        That wasn’t clear, I meant have all the people ride in the vehicle. But maybe the dogs don’t fit then either…

        1. Jolene*

          Haha. I actually assumed you mean have the people in the vehicle – but now I can’t stop chuckling at the idea of putting all 5 little monsters (kids and dogs) in a tow, dumping a few bags of snacks on the floor, and then having a relaxing multi-day drive listening to grown up audiobooks.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Do some of the seats in your SUV come out? One move my parents took some of the seats out of the minivan and sent them with the movers. We still had enough seats for all the humans but more room for pets and luggage. If that doesn’t work, I’d probably go for a minivan with seats that fold into the floor. Probably one with a TV screen.

      I hear that a great mode of travel with small kids is to do a lot of the long drives after the kids’ bed time so they are asleep.

      1. Jolene*

        Ooh, that’s a good idea. Our seats don’t come out – but I like the rental idea of seats that fold into floor.

    5. Annie Edison*

      This is not exactly what you are asking but- would you consider doing a divide and conquer? One adult flies with the two littles while the other drives with the dogs?
      The thought of surviving an entire cross country trip with toddlers makes me shudder (and I generally like that age!) so I’d be looking for ways to make travel easier on the littles, even if it does mean a very long drive alone for one of you

      1. Jolene*

        I hear ya re making easier on kids. I think divide/conquer is a great idea, but don’t think it will work for us. One, I can’t handle either scenario alone! Two, we are planning to stop by grandparents on way.

        I do wish kids were a little older, so could enjoy the experience. The 3 year old (will be 4 by time of drive) will remember and is really bright and inquisitive, so I think he will enjoy despite rough/boring/are-we-there-yet moments. Obviously the 11 month old won’t. But hey, I guess he won’t remember being stuck in a car for a week either.

        1. alas rainy again*

          Yes, crossing the USA will be a great experience for all! However kids memory is usually “reformated” at 5-6 years old, so your oldest might forget unfortunately. My kids forgot most of our trips taken before their 6th year of age, except those we kept a souvenir. For a trip in Paris, a fridge magnet with the Eiffel tower was sufficient as memory anchor

    6. Cyber Monkey*

      Would you all fit nicely in your SUV (or a bigger one) without luggage? If so, think of ways to reduce luggage or move it outside of the vehicle. Add roof rack for luggage to your SUV? Add tow hitch and rent small trailer? Wear your oldest clothes or very cheap thrift store clothes you can throw out after wearing, and soft luggage so luggage decreases in size and it gets roomier as you go? Do laundry on trip so you can pack less? Send a box of clothes to yourself at a midway point hotel or general delivery to post office and at that point send your dirty clothes to your new house?

      1. Jolene*

        Seriously, I don’t know what you do. But can I hire you? Because I think you would be very useful anywhere.

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        If you are planning on stopping to visit grandparents during the trip, could you ship a box of clothes & stuff you want for the second half of the trip. Pack up what you’ve already used to ship to your final destination while you are there.

        Could you caravan the trip? Rent a second vehicle and split the kids & dogs, meeting up at meal times & at the end of the day?

        My mom managed to drive my sister & me from New York to Arizona alone when we were 1 & 3 (my dad had to travel ahead to start his new job). Don’t know how she did it, but it was before tablets & other electronics to keep kids amused. I suspect there were a lot of sing-alongs and I Spy games.

        1. Jolene*

          Wow, your mom is a rock star!! Mad respect. I feel like I can barely make it to Target and back with our monsters. Parenting is NOT easy.

    7. Quandong*

      Would you consider flying with your family, and paying someone to transport your dogs by car to your new location?

      1. Jolene*

        Hmm. Okay, I hate the idea of the “babies” (dogs) being away from me, but this is a useful suggestion. Thank you.

        1. Miss Cranky Pants*

          I’ve actually done this for a petsitting client who was moving from Florida to New York. They flew ahead with the infant, I followed driving 3 days up I-95, and we met in Manhattan. Grueling for me, much easier for them, and the dog knew me already and was comfortable. It worked out that–get this, back in the late 90s– his company actually paid for me! I billed them like $1200 back then, and him getting reimbursed wasn’t a problem.

          It could work to piggyback with the dog driver, stay in the same hotel, and then buy them a plane ticket back home.

          I also got to see NYC for the first time, and learned how much I hate Real Urban Areas. :)

          1. Jolene*

            That is a possibility (although I would seriously miss the dogs!)
            We also have a very long move. Not the farthest possible Continental US move…but close. From within walking distance to one ocean to within 3 miles of the other ocean…and not a straight line. It would be maybe 5 days with a relatively aggressive (not on drugs) driving schedule…and maybe a week at a more reasonable pace?

            We can pay someone, definitely. But I’m so wanting to keep the dogs with us if possible for a variety of reasons (including my own stubbornness and anxiety, as well as a number of more compelling reasons.)

    8. Pippa K*

      One consideration is that renting a motorhome for a one-way drive isn’t easy to do. Or at least, it wasn’t when we checked out the possibility last year. If it were me, I’d probably go with the SUV-and-small-trailer option.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Thought of another thing-there are ground transport option for pets. I don’t know how your dogs would do with them and how you’d find one you could trust, but they do exist.

      1. Jolene*

        That is good to know. One option. That wouldn’t be my choice (bc one, I’d be so anxious for them (they probably wouldn’t care LOL), two, I hate flying myself (so maybe I’m using them as an excuse for a road trip), and three, I have in my head that it would be fun to drive cross country (even though when we did this 6 years ago the other direction we had no kids and 33% less dogs.)

        But, I may have to get my big girl pants on and make a sensible decision.

        1. Cordelia*

          I think you might need to think about this as a “thing that has to be done” rather than a fun trip. You can do other trips with the kids, visit grandparents at other times – this trip is for moving house. I’d agree with the other commenters – can you get a friend or family member, or pay someone, to fly with you and the kids, and have your wife do the drive with the dogs and perhaps someone else for company?

    10. lbd*

      The thing about a motorhome is that you have your washroom and kitchen right there with you wherever you stop for a break. You can prepare a meal or a snack, the kids have room to play even if the weather is bad or there is no safe outdoor area for them, and you have the freedom to stop when you need to without searching for the facilities you need.
      The rental places that I am familiar with know how many car seats will fit and can advise which configuration is best.
      Somebody else mentioned that a one way rental might be complicated, but perhaps someone might need an RV moved cross country?
      If you do travel with a cargo trailer or something like that, be aware that, sadly, thieves will sometimes target them as people who are moving often have valuables with them and don’t have the time to stick around and follow up if things are stolen.
      However you travel, I wish you a safe and stress free journey!

      1. Jolene*

        I didn’t realize that a one way RV rental would be problematic, but that pretty much answers that question. But, that’s the sort of information I was hoping for from this post – to focus my options. Very helpful.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Another possibility to divide and conquer – drive your car AND rent a second, and basically carpool. More space overall, plus you can shift your wee Tetris pieces around so if Right L and Z just aren’t fitting together they can ride in separate cars for a while rather than Aggressively Not Touching Each Other (but totally still being up in each other’s business), though maybe that’s less of an issue at their current ages. And the whole family is together enough to check out the world’s largest ball of twine or whatever catches your fancy along the drive.

      1. JSPA*

        My friends did something like this; one-way cargo van rental and SUV. They didn’t caravan to the point of drafting on each other (too greater risk of the person behind creeping up on the person in front) but they had…CB’s, I think?… and chatted the whole way, and stopped at the same rest stops. (Do CB’s still exist?)

        1. Zephy*

          My family moved several states in 2001, so pre-ubiquitous cell phones. My sister and I were 10 and 7 at the time, so considerably more independent than OP’s kids, and we didn’t have pets, but this is more or less what we did. I rode with Mom in her van, my sister rode with Dad in his truck, and we had a pair of cheap walkie talkies that we used to keep in touch on the road. The van and truck were laden with all the little stuff/immediately-needed stuff that didn’t or couldn’t go with the professional movers.

        2. Angstrom*

          We used inexpensive FRS radios to communicate when we drove across several states in a U-haul and the family car. It was a huge help.

    12. Dumpster Fire*

      It sounds like you’re probably not leaning toward RV, but before you do consider that: most rental RV companies limit (if not completely rule out) pets in their rentals.

      A normal SUV should easily be able to handle a small trailer for your luggage, though, if you can fit all your people and pets into the vehicle.

      1. Jolene*

        This may be what we have to do. The OTHER challenge is that both of the vehicles we own are rather old (15 years and 11 years – we were going to get a new car in March 2019, and one picked out and everything…and we all know how that went.)

        For that reason, and how awful it would be to break down on the interstate with 2 kids and 3 dogs…we’ve considered a variety of options, including shipping both cars and renting for trip, selling cars and renting, or selling at least one car and finally that getting new car for trip. Or, risking it and counting that the 11 year old car has 3,000 miles left in her? Reliable make/model, and she only has 100,000 miles, so not crazy?

        We just found out moving 48 hours ago and my head is spinning. It will be fine! We are lucky and have resources and options. I’m having a very “first world problems” crisis, and I do realize that.

        1. alas rainy again*

          If you can afford it, I would sell the cars before departing. They are not worth the transportation cost nor the gas. Buy the new car either before, or rent a vehicle for the trip and buy on arrival.

          1. Jolene*

            We’ve definitely thought about selling before move. But: Vehicle shipping is paid by employer, we will both need a vehicle in new location, and we will be buying a house in an expensive market – and don’t want to put the money towards a car downpayment before house purchase (both cars are currently paid off).

            That said. After my comment above, I went out this morning and…my car didn’t start. JINXED MYSELF!

    13. Anonymous Koala*

      My cousin just did this with her four and five year old! What worked for them was having the moving company ship one car and all their stuff, then booking a round trip flight and hotel for one partner on the day the moving truck was set to arrive. He got all the boxes moved into the right rooms of the house, inspected the big/expensive stuff for damage, etc. then flew back and the whole family drove down together and stayed with us for a few days while unpacking. I don’t think they had to bring much in the car with them because their clothes, etc were already in the house.

      1. Zephy*

        Oh, that’s smart as hell, actually. If my husband ever actually takes the job that’s allegedly being held for him in Kansas, we’d probably do it that way. No kids at the moment, but we do have cats and I wouldn’t want try to to fly with them.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      My advice would be one parent flies with the two kids (possibly to a grandparent’s house for a week, then to meet partner at your new location) and one parent drives the SUV with the three dogs.

      My own child/dog experience was that dogs were like “well this is odd but my humans are here in a familiar-smelling space, so it must be fine” and the baby in the carseat was like “I am trapped. And too young to reason with about it.”

      If you were not issued the handy relatives who are happy to host you or come help you out–and I realize those are not handed out with each firstborn–I recommend the parent on kid-corralling duty head to either a favored spot, or a peaceful spot near water with rocks. I am dead serious, it is hard to beat dropping rocks into water for long-time toddler entertainment.

    15. EA*

      Definitely fly the kids. Unless your one year old is abnormally good in the car, at that age a week on the road would be pure misery and SO slow. My dogs would also get stressed being in a car with a crying kid for a week. You could always both fly with the kids then have one person fly back to drive the dogs, but I’ve done multiple flights with layovers solo with two kids under 5 and it’s been fine (not fun per se, but fine!). Getting a friend or relative to make the road trip with the adult who’s driving the dogs also seems like a good idea.

    16. Distractable Golem*

      Since you have some financial resources, I’d suggest paying someone to drive your dogs.

    17. alas rainy again*

      Whatever you do, every two hours make a pit stop: get every awake body out of the car for stretching, bladder emptying and beverage intake. Switch drivers and get rolling again after 5 minutes or more. I prefer to get on the road in the afternoon, make a stop for dinner, and ride again with all passengers lulled by digestion into sleep. I am a night owl, so I usually drive the last leg while the co-driver catches some sleep. We usually book a 24/24 check in for sleeping accomodation, and bunk at midnight or 2 am. For long hauls, it is best to limit driving time to 400 miles per day (per driver) and make one activity (museum, walk, playground) per day. A good day is when everyone had something to enjoy, being an ice-cream, a tug play or a nightcap

      1. alas rainy again*

        Dogs are usually quiet when in the car. But you’ll need a kids wrangler in addition to the driver, until the kids sleep. Ideally, you’ll do some fun time with them in the morning, then hit the road at nap time so the co-driver has a chance to rest too.

    18. Leen (no Jo)*

      What about kid car, dog car? I know you mentioned both of the family cars might not be up for the drive, but whether it’s a one way rental and the one car that’s going, if you and your partner are both up for driving, you can caravan with an open line (so basically, sitting next to each other) and trade off on responsibilities every few hours. That idea would be a lot better if you have two friends or family members that would be good company – if you could find a way to get them their one-way ticket home with your job stipend,b that could keep two adults in both cars. +a mil to everyone suggesting a top box for luggage, as well

    19. Christmas cookie*

      I have kids. And songs. And have moved. Do not attempt a cross country move with two toddlers in a car for a week.

      I see that you don’t really like any of your options. I am here to tell you you are picking the worst one. After reading your objections to some of what’s been suggested, I have one more:

      Start our as a road trip, then pick a point (after grandparents?) where one partner flies the kids the rest of the way. The kids will be so, so miserable driving for a straight week. And, who are you kidding, everything takes 3x as long with kids so you are talking about two weeks of driving.

      Your 3 year old is probably potty training or recently potty trained. You’ll be stopping every 2 hours. They’ll be screen monsters. Your one year old will be good for 90 minutes at a time in the car, max, unless asleep. They will remember none of this when they are older so the “great memories” are not for them and they will not be great for you.

      Your kids will need to sleep in hotels every night. They will need cribs/pack and plays. The rooms will be mediocre. They will sleep badly.

      This is to say nothing of the dogs, for whom you’ll always need pet friendly accomodations and multiple dogs is a tall order… and who will undoubtedly make your kids’ steep worse.

      Just do the hard thing and divide and conquer. Otherwise you are making everyone miserable instead of just you.

    20. Verde*

      We did this with two small dogs, three cats, and two rabbits in a small SUV. No kids. We did not have a house we were going directly to, we were going to a large, slightly furnished semi-studio apartment. We got a box at a UPS store near our apt before we moved so we had a mailing address that could securely receive packages. We shipped several large boxes of clothing, bedding, towels, etc. there. We moved all of our other stuff into moving pods (we used 1-800-Packrat and they were great until they didn’t actually ship our stuff and caused problems due to that timing, so be explicit every single time you speak to a moving company about what your shipping plan is). We used one of those rear basket attachments and a roof rack so that we could bring enough stuff for our travel week with us. We practiced packing to make sure everyone could be fit into the car in their various crates.

      The biggest and most important thing: Take it slow and easy. We started out trying to do 8-hour days, and we gave that up after day 2. Six (or less) hours is much more workable – you need time in the morning to get up, get fed, get packed, and load up. Ditto for in the evenings – time for getting in, getting settled, fed, and sorted. Take plenty of breaks during the driving.

      We stayed in a variety of pet-friendly hotels, though we had to do some smuggling as no one knows what to do with rabbits. Get places that are not in the middle of a city, go for the edges, but near familiar restaurants (i.e. chains) that you can all agree on for food, and some space the kids and dogs can get their ya-yas out in. (Modernized Motel 6s were really solid – no carpet with smells in it, laminate floors, very pet and kid friendly.)

      Lastly, if your dogs have never been in a hotel and/or an elevator, I would suggest you start taking them through some lobbies and for some rides now, so it’s not a surprise on night one. We found out on this trip that our boy dog absolutely hates big open hotel lobbies and got really freaked out a couple of times along the way. Good luck!

  11. Ask a Manager* Post author

    To the person asking why their responses are taking a while to show up: I have you on moderation because you kept scolding other commenters. I’m happy to remove the moderation restriction if you stop doing that (since aside from that you’re a great commenter).

  12. Tea and Sympathy*

    Have you ever read or watched something that unexpected future twists make completely wrong?

    I’ve been rewatching Lou Grant recently. He is the city editor of a major newspaper in the late 1970s. On one episode he says, of someone they are investigating, “we can’t find a thing on him, he’s like a saint, a cross between OJ Simpson and Martin Luther King”. I was so startled that it took me a moment to even make sense of the line. I had forgotten the public perception of OJ way, way back when.

    It reminded me of a time I was going through some very old news magazines. A letter to the editor was apparently reacting to a previous negative article on the US President. It said something like “that’s nothing, our Japanese PM is so crazy that he actually believes that North Koreans are kidnapping Japanese citizens”. In all fairness, it did sound unbelievable, even after it was later proven to be true.

    I read a NY Times book review of a book about the Ebola outbreak in 2014. It was mostly positive, but said the writer was overly dramatic. Since I was reading during the Covid pandemic, I could attest that it turned out not to be the least bit overly dramatic.

    Has anyone come across these? I’m looking for small, almost throw-away lines, not large debates. Where you’re kind of jolted and think “yeah, that’s not how that played out at all, but I see where you were coming from”.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Maybe not exactly the same, but The Hopkins Manuscript is a post-apocalyptic book published in 1939. Just before the Atomic Age, the best destroyer of civilization at the time was… an unusually close approach of the moon to the earth.

    2. Part time lab tech*

      In a 1981 country hospital drama episode, a line about just asking a couple of the farmer’s wives to give breastmilk for a newborn baby whose mother didn’t want to feed him. It was just treated as this very ordinary thing in the episode.
      That was so pre-AIDS or other body fluid caution! I was shocked. Plus, generally the culture has changed such that many (maybe most?) mothers would be completely icked out at the thought of having such close contact with another baby or just feeding someone’s baby without having blood tests and clear permission.

      1. Part time lab tech*

        See, I know about wet nursing and logically think it should be more utilised even now, but associate it with pre good formula times. 1981 just doesn’t strike me as long ago enough. It was the matter of factness of this is how it’s done that shocked me.

      2. Fierce Jindo*

        When I was a baby (born in 1983, just before mainstream awareness of HIV), my mom thought nothing of nursing a friend’s baby if she were watching them and they were hungry. (She told me that when I was older in a “here’s how different things used to be” sort of way.)

    3. LGP*

      What an interesting topic!
      In an episode of The Golden Girls, the ladies are talking about the kind of man they’d want to marry, and Blanche says that he’d have to have “the financial resources of a Mr. Donald Trump.” Which is just funny considering what we know now about his finances (or lack thereof). (Not to mention all the other shit about him, but that’s beside the point)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I remember in one of Laurie Colwin’s books she wrote that if she had a dollar for each time such and such happened, she “would be as rich as Donald Trump used to be.” These days that line makes me snicker for a much different reason.

    4. UKDancer*

      There’s a 1990s Marks and Gran drama with funny bits called “Love Hurts” with Adam Faith and Zoe Wanamaker which I loved growing up because she was a really great career woman with amazing clothes and a role model of mine as a teen.

      Rewatching it I laugh when they drive down the road with enormous phones in their cars talking on them loudly. This was a time when car phones were very new and a status symbol. It amuses me because nowadays nobody would really admit to using their phone while driving in the UK and the penalties keep going up. It’s almost as frowned on as drink driving now.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, that reminds me of X Files! Their phones were much smaller than those brick things (like in the movie Wall Street) but just seem so quaint now–especially their incredible range and clarity. Did you know you can call Scully’s apartment from a mountain in the Yukon Territory or a buried container in the Arizona desert with no loss of signal at all?

    5. Tiny clay insects*

      There’s a Seinfeld episode where Elaine is dating someone named Joel Rifkin, which is also the name of a serial killer. She’s trying to convince him to change his name to something without bad associations, and suggests O.J. It aired in fall of 1993, about 8 months before the murders.

      And I don’t know if this is exactly the same, because it WAS true when said, but in the 1950s movie White Christmas, when they are heading to Vermont, Bob says they should come up with something that would be a novelty in Vermont, something really unusual, and Phil quips back “maybe we could dig up a democrat.”

    6. fposte*

      The classic example of thus is in the movie The China Syndrome, about a significant nuclear accident. There’s a line in it about how there’s potential for the event “to render an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable.” It came out just before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania, so audiences were erupting in startled laughter at the prescient reference.

      1. Fierce Jindo*

        Reminds me of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 episode that they couldn’t air… because in between when this school shooter episode was filmed and would’ve aired, Columbine happened.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I read The City We Became in March of 2020, when the pandemic was ravaging NYC. So I was simultaneously feeling “Yes, an existential attack on a great city disrupting everything, this resonates so deeply” and “Oh no, the characters are standing too close together! Six feet!”

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I was reading Station Eleven in mid-2020. Interesting time to be reading that book.
        Also, I saw the film Contagion on its original cinematic release (not in 2020, like many people.) It definitely got a lot right, but was very over-optimistic about the level of trust that people have in scientists and government during a pandemic. And in real life, they did initial distribution of vaccines by age group/medical condition, but in the film it was by the first letter of your surname.

        1. Laura Petrie*

          I also read Station 11 in 2020. I bought it on kindle after reading about it on here, but had forgotten the plot

          I’d just read something heavy, decided I wanted a ‘light read’ and my brain decided it fitted the bill. Oh dear!

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      William Gibson (the man who essentially created cyberpunk) opened a book with the line “The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel.” When he wrote that, it meant dark, flecked gray. These days, it means a brilliant vibrant blue.

        1. 2e asteroid*

          Neil Gaiman has a line in Neverwhere about how “the sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television, tuned to a dead channel”.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      All I can think of is the lack of cell phones. We’ve become so accustomed to them that now, watching or reading something set before their ubiquity seems unbelievable. I find myself getting frustrated when the protagonists can’t just call somebody!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And DNA testing! Watching anything before that became ubiquitous is so bizarre–all the “well, their blood type matches/doesn’t match” and so on while I have to keep reminding myself that 23AndMe didn’t exist at the time.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Conversely, the CSI effect, where solving crimes in an hour via lab testing is almost always foolproof on TV. In real life, if samples are even taken, they often sit around for YEARS in storage, to the point of degradation, and underfunded state labs have massive backlogs.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        In all seriousness, this is one of the first things I praise in Donna Andrews’ bird mysteries: People use cell phones, in a way congruent with the date of publication. (For example, I remember in one the criminal was waiting for her just outside, and hit her hand as soon as she came out the door–the hand in which she was holding her phone to check her messages, as so many of us do when transitioning between locations and tasks.)

        If the amateur detective got kidnapped in the last book, then I do not want any hot nonsense about how she is just not a person who likes cell phones. The second time I got kidnapped, I would be carrying a charged backup flip phone in a separate location at all times, not writing little manifestos about how cell phones encourage constant availability and so mine will always be shut off and inaccessible (if it exists at all) no matter how many times I get locked in an abandoned building that is then set on fire.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        I was writing a story set in the 1950s for a competition once. It had a word limit, so I was getting pretty irritated by how many words I was wasting with my characters running around looking for a phone.

    10. Jim was The Office villain*

      I’m a huge fan of the Washington Post’s Live Chats. They’ve been doing them for forever (at least 20 years, maybe closer to 25) and in the olden days there could be 2-3 per day that were super interesting. Anyway, Chris Cillizza, who was fired from CNN some months ago, was at the Post for years prior to going to CNN in maybe 2018? He was doing a politics chat in 2015. People were asking about Trump and the Republican primary and he said something like “people, there is literally zero chance Trump becomes president.” He elaborated that Trump was doing it all for a stunt and predicted he’d be out of the primary in a few weeks.

      Re: the Japanese PM thing: I immediately thought of the Martha Mitchell Rule!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        … fired? Well, that explains why I stopped seeing his commentary. I just figured it was algorithms. Interesting.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        In Ireland, in October 2016, our government and media were making plans for St. Patrick’s day with the Clintons again. (The Irish taoiseach (prime minister) always visits the US president for St. Patrick’s day and the Clintons have a very close relationship with Ireland so this was to be a massive party.) One of our bookmakers literally paid out on Hillary Clinton winning before the actual result.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          I guess I was thinking Sue-Ann had her own as well but I must just be thinking of the Betty White Show.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Actually, in Ireland, there was an inquiry into government tapping of journalists’ phones that…partly took place in 1984. I thought that was rather an appropriate year.

    11. Jelly*

      Not lines, but I’ve been binge-watching “Cagney and Lacey” (originally produced when I was in high school; about two women police detectives, for those who don’t know), and I just can’t get over the scenes where they are chasing criminals in skirts, blazers, and heels, with their purse straps over their shoulders.

      Makes me appreciate, for example, L&O: SVU all that much more!

    12. Distractable Golem*

      Occasionally I’ll come across a reference to the Twin Towers in some fiction written before 9/11, and that’s kind of jarring (especially if it was set in the future!)

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I haven’t seen this, but I remember hearing about a spin-off from The X-Files that ran for one season in 2000 or 2001. Apparently the pilot episode was about stopping someone from crashing an airplane into a skyscraper.

    13. Sundae fun day*

      We somewhat recently rewatched the first season of Law & Order and we kept saying, “ That didn’t age well!” One example I remember was the detectives found out the victim was seeing a therapist. This news was treated as earth shattering, and a sign of a very, very troubled soul.

    14. 2e asteroid*

      Michael Collins (the Apollo 11 astronaut who didn’t land on the moon) wrote his autobiography in 1974. It includes multiple paragraphs of explanation of some weird attaching-things technology used by NASA, called Velcro.

    15. Slinky*

      The old Seinfeld bit where he was talking about how people are trying to call you right now but they can’t reach you because you’re “out.” In the 90s, be idea that we could be reachable at all times and places was pretty unthinkable.

    16. Eff Walsingham*

      There was an early-season episode of “Law & Order” which started off with something to do with cigarette smuggling. In order to see if they had the proper tax stamp on them, the detectives go into a bodega and one says, “A pack of those, a pack of those, and a pack of those.” Which is already pretty retro here in Canada, where they’ve been hidden from view for ages. And the bodega owner says, “That’ll be $6.95” or something like that, and I about fell off my chair while rewatching it! That will NOT be $6.95 any more! I have relatives who still smoke, and their cigarettes cost as much as their groceries every month.

  13. matcha123*

    I’m curious as to how people see/use social media.
    Elder Millennial here. When I was in middle and high school, it was all about not sharing your name or any identifying information online. People might incorporate part of their name or nickname into their blog title or whatever, but I don’t think you had blogs like “Janice Pumpernickel” or anything with a full name.

    As I was graduating college, Facebook opened to everyone and people were encouraged to use their full names, the same for Twitter. And job advice I got was about creating an online “persona.” Social media now seems to be in this place where about half of people have an account under their real name and they use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram as their business cards that they exchange information with. And a person’s value is tied up in their public persona and the number of followers/likes they get.

    I’ve been pretty private through all of this. I don’t have any accounts under my full name. None of my accounts are “public,” as in a person can’t lookup my handle and browse through my photos or posts. I rarely give out or exchange info on those platforms.
    I see them as places for me to share private stuff about my life with people I know in real life who would care (I assume) about what’s going on in my life. I’m not all that interested in creating a public persona or anything.

    Now, I know there’s no one right way to do social media. But I’m curious about how other people see it fitting into you own lives.

    Bonus question, what are you dressing up as for Halloween?

    1. David*

      Hmm, interesting that you say that. I’ve always thought that one of the defining characteristics of social media was that it was specifically intended to represent your real-life self, not a separate online persona. So yeah, like you, I would use social media to interact with people who I knew in real life, or if I got to know someone over social media, it would be with the expectation that it’s the real me getting to know the real them and if we ever met in person we would already know each other in real life.

      Of course there are other ways to interact online, where you represent yourself as an online persona rather than your real self, but I’ve never thought of those as social media.

      (This reminds me of The Guild, a video series about online gamers who meet for the first time in real life and it gets awkwardly hilarious because of the clash between who they represent themselves as in the game and their real selves. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend checking it out!)

      1. matcha123*

        That show sounds interesting! Speaking to the internet friends part, I’ve found that my internet friends and college friends have been the ones that have “stuck around” the longest. As in they’ve read my happy and angsty posts, we’ve had long convos in real life or over the phone. Some of the internet friends, I’ve never met in real life, but we both know some intimate details about each other’s lives. I suppose not knowing each other in real life helps in a way because there’s no worry about someone trying to be petty offline.

        The online persona was something I saw pushed heavily from 2006 until about 2013 ish. Basically that “we” should post under our real names and post about our industries and show that we are experts in our fields so that when employers search our real names, they will only find acceptable hobby or industry-related content.

        I don’t tag friends in posts or photos, but I do like writing about political stuff and I find that people who talk about being active offline are silent online.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Elder millennial here, completely with you.

      My 2000s MySpace nickname stuck over the years, to the point the few followers I interact with on Twitter (and readers of a now defunct blog) think it’s my actual name. I recently moved from Twitter to BlueSky and wanted to change it, as it doesn’t resonate anymore. But the only alternative I could think of was using my real first name, which makes me nervous for the reasons you said. I have a Facebook account but haven’t posted in years: it’s only to buy/sell stuff on Marketplace and talk to friends who communicate via Messenger.

      I write in my spare time, so I’d love to find a pen name that resonates with me, that allows me to try the “online persona” thing in the long term. Using my real name would be the easy way out but it’s still a big no-no for me. I don’t know of any coworker being aware of my social media, and while I only post about food, books and cats, I’d like to keep it that way.

      On the flip side, I’m social media shy to the point I can’t get myself to interact with people I know on LinkedIn about professional stuff, and I’m pretty sure some of that would help (generally bad at networking, but would love people I know to have me in mind for jobs, which of course never happens if I don’t stay in touch).

      1. matcha123*

        Thank you!

        LinkedIn is another place where I don’t use my full name. Which probably defeats the purpose of having it. But I want to feel like I have some control over who can see where I live or the work I do.
        I hate networking to the extent that I choose jobs where networking isn’t a huge part of the job itself.
        Which seems to be another wall between myself and some friends since constant networking is essential to their work, I get the impression that they judge me as unmotivated, boring, or with nothing to offer others. Which is a post for another day lol

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’m “on” LinkedIn, but never look at the site. Sometimes I’ll get a “someone noticed you” email and think, well, good for that little Russian spambot, just tunnelling away.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have avoided social media companies which kinda freak me out with all my personal details for sale. Many people over the years have encouraged me to join Facebook as a way for people in one’s past to find you. And that’s one of the reasons I don’t use it. I’m not up for broadcasting my whereabouts everywhere. If I want to be found, I’ll initiate that myself.

      That said, I have three exceptions. Two are professional and useful for my field, LinkedIn and Instagram. LinkedIn is the only place where I use my full name and share personal details and that’s because it’s all professional info. Instagram provides details to share on LinkedIn and I have an anonymous user name there. Now that I have an Instagram account, I follow only a few sites for fun–musicians, nature photographers, and just one friend who doesn’t post very often.

      My only personal social media is my WoodswomanWrites blog where I share my nature photography and write about various interests. I confess that the idea of broadcasting details of the day to day details in my life to the world is uncomfortable/boring, and I don’t find others’ details interesting, either. On my blog, I typically post only if there’s something I think may be of interest to others (okay, sometimes I’m also just unmotivated to sort through hundreds of photos to find the few good ones).

      1. matcha123*

        In a way this is the usage I feel like this is the kind of usage that more of my friends have and I struggle with whether I should be even more private and delete a bunch of stuff, or just continue as I do and let them decide whether or not they want to continue following me.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I think it depends a lot on what you’re using social media for. I use Facebook mostly to stay in touch with people I know, so it has my real name but the privacy settings are locked down. I’ve engaged in some groups where I kind of wish I didn’t have my real name attached and don’t really do that on FB anymore – now, I do the discussion with strangers on Reddit (and here!) where I share minimal personal info. To some extent, I wouldn’t really want people I know to be aware of those accounts because I’m presenting a different side of myself.

    5. Despachito*

      To be honest, I have never understood why put any personal information on the net.

      I just can’t see the point of it. I am in contact with people I want to be in contact, in person. None of my friends have or use social media. If we want to contact each other, we write an e-mail or a text, or make a call.

      Why should I be interested to give my information to complete strangers or people from the past? They are in the past for a reason, and if they want to contact me, they can still find me (I have contact details on my work page) . I was amazed how much information you can get about a stranger if they are not discreet enough, and do not want this for myself.

    6. Sloanicota*

      I do think this was a shift over time, since the initial internet – chatrooms etc – were anonymous, and now there’s something sweetly retro about posting here with an anonymous name (which I LOVE don’t change it!!). Some people were either required to use social media in their jobs or thought it would help them with some kind of side hustle, or they go through their life as if their existence is personal branding – but if you’re not in those categories I think it’s very normal to only be on one or two platforms and lurk more than posting.

    7. fposte*

      Boomer/Gen X crossover here, and I think there have been waves. When I started on Usenet, nearly everybody used their real name. Then things got more pseudonymous, then FB and Linked In came in where people (mostly) used their real names again. Now for me it’s a mix platform by platform, but on pretty much every platform I see some people operating pseudonymously and some people using real names.

      1. Lime green Pacer*

        Another Boomer who started with Usenet and online listservs with my real name, then started using pseudonyms for everything but Facebook (locked down) and NextDoor (I rarely post, when I do it’s just first name + last initial). I don’t even reuse pseudonyms. I was a longtime contributor to a certain business-related online forum, and I really don’t want some of those people following me around the internet.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      I’m 49. I had a similar experience.

      When I started on the internet in the early 90s (when the first masses of non-academics were just getting online) we were 100% told not to use our real name or give out identifying information. Facebook was the first social media I joined that wanted your real name. I did not use my real name at first because of my previous education to do so online. But it was very clear that was no longer the case by the late 2000s/early 2010s. People were encouraged to use real names on Facebook and basically required to do so on LinkedIn.

      I used a nickname as a first name when I joined FB in maybe 2009/2010, but I didn’t use it in real life so when I moved in around 2015 I changed FB to my real name so new friends could find me.

      My journey is that I learned what you learned about never giving out your real identity on the internet and followed that policy for 20 years, but that policy changed around 2005-2010, I’d guess and now I follow this new reality of being your authentic self on the internet.

      You can in a lot of ways keep your socials private (not shared to the whole world) to people you only know in real life. That is generally what I do.

      OTOH I don’t share private stuff on the internet. I generally keep my audience limited but I’m not sharing anything I wouldn’t want to risk getting out.

      I have friends who share private things (difficult things, frustrations, requests for help on FB). I usually think: that’s personal. I wouldn’t share that on the internet. I would text that to my friends.

      I got COVID. Told my closest friends. They delivered a few things. Later I posted on FB and people kindly offered assistance but I wasn’t relying on the internet /social media for the help I needed.

      1. matcha123*

        For your second to last paragraph, I’m one of those people that shares personal things on my accounts (none of which are open to the public). I find it easier to share on Facebook or Instagram because I never had people I could just text and expressing myself online is easier. When you say you wouldn’t share those things online is it because you think someone’s page is public? Because you think someone would screenshot the text and then use it in some malicious way? I’m curious why a text would be okay, but a Facebook post not?

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I would a text a small, specific group of people.

          I only FB friend people I’ve met in real life, but that’s still a large audience. Some of these FB friends are people I’ve met through specific activities and clubs that are organized on FB so it makes sense to friend them, but they are more acquaintances or perhaps my sport friends, club friends, or even old true friends from different cities but they’re not people that I would call on for help.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      I use my real name on Facebook, it’s fully locked down, and I only have people I know IRL as friends. Nickname on IG, also fully locked down. Nickname on Reddit, no real name on X, which I only ever use to read posts (as in have not tweet a single thing ever, there is no picture, followers, nothing).
      No online “persona”, I truly don’t care about that.
      Very young GenXer.

    10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I like to have a seperate persona. The real life me is less me than me online. I’m kinda sad that now online is real life so you gotta constantly be like ‘ would the most small minded person you know like this? ‘ like irl. Elder millennial.

    11. KR*

      Facebook & LinkedIn is in my real name and the rest is under usernames/nicknames that I don’t link my first/last name on. Reddit is neither face nor first name nor last name, just username. No Halloween costume this year but we had a black tie formal event to go to yesterday so we did get to dress up and I did my makeup more goth to compensate

    12. numptea*

      I’m young Gen X. I was taught to obscure my identity online, and I will never change that. I don’t use social media that requires using your real identity, with the exception of LinkedIn. Even my LinkedIn isn’t terribly informative, because I drop off old jobs to obscure my age (tech ageism is real), I only post my latest job after leaving it, and as a remote worker I prefer to list the nearest major metro as my location.

      As someone who freelances on the side, I have thought about the value of “building my brand” on social media, and I waffle on whether it’s worth the effort, because frankly it looks exhausting. So far I have been able to find enough work through directly applying, so I’ve held off.

      Anytime a friend asks when I’m going to join SM, I just laugh. They can’t even makes it sound fun! They just complain about drama, who is posting what, who is unfriending who. I used to have a bit of FOMO about it, but now I feel like my ignorance helps preserve my mental energy.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yep, Gen Xer here and am NOT getting on the “be real online” train, ever. And I agree that “curating” an online presence is way more work and effort than I want to put in to impress trolls and bots.

    13. Zephy*

      I’m 32 and I mostly grew up on the Internet. I’ve been going by this handle or a similar variation of it for, jeez, probably close to 20 years now. I have a Facebook and LinkedIn account but don’t use them much and I hate having my real name attached to them. Broadly speaking I think social media was a mistake.

      Back in those days, it was all “don’t tell anyone your real name or where you live, and don’t agree to meet strangers from the Internet,” layered on top of 80s-and-90s “stranger danger, don’t get into a stranger’s car, etc.” Now, I can pay to summon a stranger from the internet to my exact location, giving them my full legal name and home address, and getting into their car so they can take me home.

    14. allathian*

      I’m gen x and Whatsapp is the only social medium I use. I mostly use it to text family and friends, although I’m a member of a few groups where I don’t know everyone else, one’s all the parents of kids in my son’s class, the other’s his scout troop, both parents and kids old enough to be on Whatsapp.

      I have several online friends I originally met on a few fandom forums. I count them as real friends because we’ve exchanged contact details.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      I have one old blog still up from years ago but not under my actual name. I have fully blank Facebook page so my sister can post photos of the kids and stuff, but that’s it. I tend to join commenting groups like this one but use a screen handle. And you can bet there’s no photos of me online that I approved–but that’s because I take “full Dorian Gray” pictures and absolutely do not want those out there if I can help it.

      I’m not dressing up because I have to work and costumes are hot and cumbersome. Husband, who sits right next to me, is dressing up as the Creature from the Black Lagoon in full kit-mask, body stocking, flippers, claws, and tropical shorts and Tee shirt with Spring Break ’57 on it. I predict he lasts five minutes before he dissolves.

    16. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’m an early-ish boomer. I use my real name on FB, but my settings are friends only or private. And those friends are family members and real-life friends, plus a handful of people who are real-life friends-of-friends. I think of FB as a new version of the old-fashioned letter of introduction: if I don’t know someone in person who knows you, I dont want to connect. A few friends have everything they post public, and I’m more cautious in my replies to them since strangers can read it. I honestly don’t get having things public, but I guess some people want all their thoughts seen by the rest of the world. My only other regular online presence is on forums for a few specific medical conditions, and I’ve become pretty friendly with a few people over the years, but it was a LONG time before we started texting off-site under our own names.

    17. Unkempt Flatware*

      37 years old and I’ve never even been to the websites themselves. I’ve never seen the interface for anything except TikTok and I have only ever watched videos on that app. I don’t follow anyone and no one follows me. I have found it truly bizarre that providing personal information online has become the norm. So much so that new colleagues tell me, almost accusingly, that they can’t find anything on me online. I remember that being asked to flip through someone’s photo albums at their house was boring and eye-rolly. And now we spend our whole days looking at pics of total strangers. What a world!

    18. vombatus ursinus*

      I’m a young millennial and I agree, when I was very first online it was all about keeping your identity secret from strangers. There is one person I ‘met’ during my pseudonymous teenage RPG forum days whom I eventually exchanged real first names and emails with, and now I follow them on Instagram and enjoy keeping up with their gardening and crafting projects :)

      For social media, I generally use my real name but keep the settings pretty private. I pretty much only use Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to connect with people I have met in person (or at worst, have a mutual friend or family member), so they would already know my real name, which is unique. My Facebook and LinkedIn have my full real name and most content set to friends/connections only, and my Instagram has my real first name and last initial and is set to private. My Twitter, which I have now turned my back on in disgust but was encouraged to create as a PhD student, has my real name and I think is public. I mostly only shared work- or research-related stuff there. With a unique real name, you can’t really escape sharing it if you want to have an online professional presence, as is expected for many in academia.

      Maybe this makes me weird/nosy but I still kinda enjoy the experience of meeting someone new through work or socially, connecting with them on social media and then having a little stickybeak at their profile — finding out where they grew up or where they’ve worked or what other languages they speak or that they have an adorable pet. Idk.

      I went as one of the 101 Dalmatians for Halloween. Though there weren’t actually 101 of us, sadly :)

    19. OtterB*

      Boomer. My earliest online experiences were on parenting bulletin boards where I used a variation of my name. One group of friends from there became email and later FB friends. FB is under my real name because my friends there are almost always friends and family from real life, plus a few writer fan groups. Everywhere else I use the OtterB name I use here or something similar. I like having a consistent online persona that doesn’t show up if someone is googling me for work. There’s nothing wrong with my conversations about science fiction but it’s irrelevant to work and I’d rather not cross the streams.

  14. Mitchell Hundred*

    Question mainly for LGBTQ+ (or queer, if you’re nasty) people, but others can join in if they feel like it fits them: what was the moment that you looked back on years later and found it made a lot more sense since you came out?

    For instance: one day when I was a teenager I entered the living room while my mom was watching a soap opera. I do not watch daytime soaps, but I am aware of the conventions, so I asked her who was sleeping with who. My mom pointed at the TV, where a man and a woman were making out, and replied: “These two. With each other.” I mulled over that answer for a moment and then asked: “Why?”

    It took me another decade and change to figure out that I was asexual, and then a few years in addition to that to remember that moment, but when I did it was like finding exactly the right spot for a puzzle piece. Like, oh, so that’s what was going on.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      As a teenager / young adult, I could never join my friends’ conversations about what celebrities they fancied, because they always ended up on notes like “oh, the things I’d do to them if I could” or “ah, the things I’d let them do to me”. I could agree that a certain famous man may have a nice face, but had no interest in discussing what was or wasn’t “sexy”. Things we’d do in bed? Nothing, no thanks, my bed is for sleeping!

      Often, my thoughts on the way we talked about people we had crushes on went the same way. And now I know there is such a concept as an asexuality spectrum…it all makes sense.

    2. Anonymous story from way back*

      I lived in a big shared co-op house after living in the college dorms for a couple years, a good mix of students and some older working folks. I still think fondly of my years living there in the late 1970s.

      I became close friends with a woman there. I’d had lots of same-gender friendships so there initially wasn’t anything unusual about that. The difference was that we started giving each other nude massages and took a couple showers together before she ended up moving away. It was only many years later when I came out as bisexual that I recognized what had been happening between us.

    3. Queer Earthling*

      I remember my friends being like, “I hate that guy but he’s so hot,” and being absolutely baffled by the concept. Later I discovered that demisexuality is a thing and it is also a me thing.

      (I’m also in a relationship with a sex-averse ace and have been 100% fine with that, and it still took about nine years into our relationship to realize that might hint that I could possibly be on the ace spectrum as well.)

      Also, as I got older I hated being called a “woman” or a “lady,” felt a total disconnect from those words even if I used them for myself, and thought it was a sign of immaturity or inability to see myself as an adult or something. That isn’t the only thing that made me figure out I was nonbinary, but once I did I was like. “Oh. OH. Oh.”

    4. Person from the Resume*

      In retrospect, those actresses I liked/admired when I was in my teens and 20s were more like crushes than plain admiration.

      The biggest hugest head slapper is that I didn’t understand why you needed a man or PIV sex for a good sexy time. I was doing the “we’re not having sex (PIV) but everything up to it” because of upbringing and for absolutely safe sex with boyfriends in college (and none were jerks about it). But while a female friend and I were between boyfriends I very nearly prepositioned her for a good time with the logic that we could get off together and it would be the same acts as foreplay. The gender of the person I was having sex with was of no matter to me.

      At this time I actually identify as a lesbian and the gender does matter, but that’s more for emotional reasons and not physical ones.

      ** I’m also demisexual and with a low sex drive here. I’m finding it interesting these first responses are all from someone somewhere on the Ace spectrum. Without that strong physical attraction toward one gender or another I just assumed whatever was going on in my head was going on in everyone else’s. And if I’d actually talked about this with straight people I might have found out differently and realized sooner.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      A friend’s funny story. Lesbian, probably not ace.

      Around 14, she was shocked to realize her female friends were truly attracted to boys. As she put it, I thought we all agreed women were beautiful and you just acted like/told boys they were handsome because that what you had to do to have (hetero) relationships.

      Again … I feel like so many people assume that everyone else thinks the same way they do until confronted with an alternate theory.

      For me I didn’t know what attraction was supposed to feel like so I assumed the feeling that that boy seems nice and fun and will treat me nice was what romantic attraction was.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’ve heard a few stories over the years along those lines – wouldn’t we all just marry women if we could!

        Me, I’m bi, I knew I had some attraction to men, but it wasn’t until I was introduced to bisexuality as a concept that I was like wait… maybe that’s me?

      2. Mitchell Hundred*

        I had a similar moment (and I’ve heard other ace people talk about this). Can’t remember when, but I remember realizing that people who aren’t asexual were *not* in fact exaggerating about how attracted they were to someone. There was an actual thing happening in their brains that wasn’t happening in mine.

        1. beware the shoebill*

          Exactly right. I thought of it like those Halloween baking shows where the judges are all “oh, so spooky, I will have nightmares!” about a cupcake. I’m like, really? It’s a cupcake, but okay, sure. That’s what sexual attraction feels like to me lol.

    6. Goosey*

      It was a bit with my friends in middle and high school that when I spotted a “hot guy” from a distance it was even odds on whether he would, upon closer contact, turn out to be the emo boy I thought I was seeing or turn out to be a fully grown lesbian. (This was the early 2000s in the Bible Belt, we didn’t have language around gender presentation/expression/identity that we do now.)

      I was very tickled in my 20s looking back and realizing that not only had I always fancied both, but I was at an age where either would be a viable partner!

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not to derail but I legit don’t understand – “or queer if you’re nasty”? How to interpret that?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oo – the only things I could think of was either an ex-president referring to his opponent as a “nasty woman” (but that didn’t seem terribly relevant) or someone objecting to reclaiming the word (which also didn’t seem terribly necessary to call out) so I was very confused. If there was a Janet Jackson thing I missed it – thanks!

          1. Mitchell Hundred*

            Sort of 1/2 jokey Janet Jackson reference, 1/2 jokey reference to people who object to it being reclaimed (I am very much in favour of reclaiming it).

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Haha, it’s me, not you. My taste in music is mostly spawned from the “70s, 80s and today” pop stations I grew up on :)

    8. Alex*

      I’m also ace and when I was a young teenager, my friends loved to look at teen magazines and declare which celebrities they thought were “hot.” I wouldn’t participate but they would press me and I honestly didn’t know what “hot” really meant–I mean, I had an abstract idea, obviously, I wasn’t an idiot, but none of the celebrities made me feel anything in particular. When I would reply I don’t know, they woudl think I was being shy or timid, and really start pestering me to choose someone, and so I would just point to someone randomly, but inevitably I picked someone they did NOT think was hot, and they would be like “OMG HIM?! you think HE is hot?!?” I really hated this game and just wanted someone to tell me the right answer!!

      Much much later when I learned about asexuality I was like…..ohhhhhhhhh……

    9. beware the shoebill*

      When I was a young (AFAB) child, I was convinced I would be a boy when I grew up. All my friends had older brothers, and I had an older brother, so this made perfect sense to me.

      That’s the most obvious instance of me not really understanding gender differences but there were many more (I was homeschooled and wasn’t as exposed to gender role enforcement as I might have been). Finally when I was in college I came across the idea of nonbinary/agender people, which explained a lot. I now like to say that I have opted out of gender.

    10. Lilith*

      I think this is an experience that many people have had, in when I was in my late teens and twenties I considered myself bisexual as I was equally attracted to all genders (this was before I knew the term pansexual). It took quite a while and a lot of being quietly bewildered by some of the choices going on around me to realise that actually what I was feeling was equal UNattraction to all genders. Finding out about the ace spectrum put some stuff in context!

    11. miel*

      Some highlights from middle and high school:

      “Wow, she’s so cool. I really want to be her friend.”

      *intentionally choosing a boy to have a crush on for when people ask*

      “I’m not boy crazy like those other girls. It must be because I’m smarter than them.”

      *intense jealousy and competition with my friend’s boyfriend*

      “obviously girls are just more attractive than boys”

    12. carcinization*

      I clearly remember being a single-digit age and telling my mother that I would marry a woman and not a man… and since that was the 80s, picturing in my mind that the woman I married would have put on a “man” disguise so we could get married, and would take it off when we got home, and then we’d embrace… my mom told me that I’d change my mind. I did eventually marry a man (I turned out to be attracted to various folks), but before that I had that tumultuous/intense “friendship” with another girl during late adolescence that many go through, that involved a fair amount of making out.

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

      Well, I’ve known I was bi since age 5 (huge crush on the woodcut picture of Glinda in *Glinda of Oz*), but at that point, I intended to remain closeted forever. (Not that I exactly knew what closeted meant, but I knew enough that I was never telling anyone that I also liked girls.)

      When I look back on pictures of me in early middle school (the first time I picked out my own clothes), though, I look pretty butch/gender non-conforming, which may explain why I was picked on a lot then. I femmed up somewhat after that and started dressing preppier to stop getting picked on, but that was a deliberate choice on my part to protect myself.

      The walls of my dorm room in college were filled with vulva-esque Georgia O’Keefe flower prints and pictures of pretty female Golden Age movies stars, so I guess I wasn’t as closeted as I thought I was.

    14. Lime green Pacer*

      I identify as cis-het but have always had very low libido. I enjoy sex, but rarely feel the urge to initiate anything. Then, a few years ago, I ended up on a too-high dose of my thyroid medication. One of the side effects was that my sex drive ramped up. A lot. It was eye-opening to actually spontaneously want to have sex. However, the increased dose ended up having other, dangerous effects so I am back to my normal self and proper dosage.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        jsyk, asexuality doesn’t necessarily mean low sex drive. Many aces have a high sex drive! Mostly it’s about not being sexually attracted to people. Within that, aces can still be sex-favorable, sex-neutral, sex-averse, or sex-repulsed, and there are also degrees within asexuality: graysexuals sometimes experience attraction, demisexuals require a bond of some sort before they can experience attraction, etc. People who are asexual may have and enjoy sex, may not have sex but may still indulge their sex drive (look I’m trying to keep this relatively sfw lol), may be kinky but nonsexual, may do certain sexy things but not other sexy things, or may, of course, do none of the above.

        Obviously you can identify how you like! If you feel a kinship with the ace community due to your lower drive that’s cool; if you identify as allosexual that’s cool too. (You can be a cis-het asexual as well; the opposite of asexuality is allosexuality. Aces are still part of the LGBTQ+ community, though, even if they’re cis and hetero!)

    15. Gatomon*

      Ooh… for part of elementary school I went to a private religious school where uniforms were required. I was AFAB, so my options were either a dress shirt and pants, or a dress shirt and jumper. My parents let me pick out my clothes, but obviously there weren’t a ton of choices. White or blue shirt, blue pants, plaid jumper. I never picked the jumper.

      One day in 2nd grade, all my pants were dirty and I had to wear the jumper to school. I distinctly remember feeling ashamed and so self-conscious, especially during recess when we’d run around and jump on things. I refused to wear it ever again – I’m pretty sure mom didn’t want to deal with another meltdown, and the laundry snafu never reoccurred. I didn’t mind wearing dresses on special occasions like church, or being a princess for Halloween, or playing dress-up with my mom’s clothes, because in my kid mind those were all “dress up” occasions. But day-to-day was an absolute no.

  15. Gronk*

    author costume ideas!

    I’m going to a party where the theme is “what did you want to be as a kid” and I wanted to be an author. I figure my costume is essentially *whatever I want to wear* plus some bookish touches and I am excited! Tell me your suggestions for literary themed clothing and accessories, and I might have to purchase several “options”

    1. Not A Manager*

      Male: Tweed jacket with suede elbow patches. Pipe. Hornrim glasses.
      Female: Glasses, cigarette holder, martini glass.

      Manual typewriter optional.

    2. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      If you’re a maker at al, Rachel Maksy made a book dress some time ago where for the skirt she took linen rectangles (book page sized) and “printed” lines of writing on them with equally sized stamps and black colour + fabric medium.
      I loved the look of it and it doesn’t have to be a whole skirt of them (because that’s quite the amount and rather time consuming to make) but maybe one could do something small like a scarf or tie!

    3. Maryn*

      (I’m a writer.)

      Pajamas or sweats. Slippers. Glasses. Hair a mess. Coffee cup that’s empty (or cold). That’s the reality aspect, but to make it clearer what you are, maybe add a red pencil tucked behind one ear and carry a dictionary or thesaurus.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      I suppose an aloha shirt, teardrop sunglasses, a cigarette holder, and an empty pill bottle for Hunter S. Thompson is out of the question?

    5. Have fun*

      Ink-stained fingers, fountain pen in blazer or shirt pocket, notebook. More than one pair of glasses – on your head, on a lanyard, in pocket.

      If you wanted to do a specific author, I like Agatha Christie’s fictional Mrs Oliver, who loves apples, you could have apples in a tote, eating one from time to time.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Ha! In about 7th grade I picked author as what I wanted to be so that I could wear my favorite shorts and t-shirt to school that day.

      I love reading and admire authors but in adulthood I realized I have no desire to be an author. I don’t have that drive to write stories. I just want to read them.

      I might add a journal and pen to your costume. Most authors type on laptops nowadays, but the notebook and pen more traditional. How about generate a book jacket with your name on the cover and author photo?

  16. victorys_sweet*

    Bit of a light moment but just wanted to have a moment of praise for good weather, it’s amazing how it lifts your mood. Heading towards summer here and it’s blue sky and, unusually for my city, zero wind today :-)

    1. sagewhiz*

      Same here! Flori-duh weather has been absolutely glorious lately (except for the terrible drought). A reminder why we live here (except for the terrible politics) after a brutal, brutal hot summer.

      1. Clisby*

        Same in coastal SC.

        Plus (knock wood) we’ve had almost no hurricane activity this year. Still have November to go, of course.

        1. Clisby*

          I’m in a much better mood now that summer is past (I hate June-Sept. in SC), and this year it coincided with a big home renovation project, so that made summer doubly awful. All over now.

    2. Maryn*

      We moved from a cold and gray place to a colder and sunny place. It’s amazing what a difference frequent sunshine makes to one’s mood.

      And if you vacation in winter to someplace warm, you really appreciate it, unlike living someplace warm, where I didn’t.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      It’s sunny and cold here, my favorite combo! You can walk without getting sweaty or gloomy or rained on!

    4. Filosofickle*

      Early evening I went for a walk and it was the mid-60s, clear, cool, dry, with golden hour light. It was perfect. I have really been struggling to get outside, but this weather was amazing.

    5. The Dude Abides*

      I would have killed for nice weather this weekend.

      I was down in St Louis, and it was 40s and raining all weekend. Sometimes a light drizzle, sometimes a deluge.

  17. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I’m thinking of buying a patisserie manual. Mostly because I’d like to teach myself, but also, knowing I make slow progress with complicated recipes, because it’s the kind of coffee table book that would look totally on brand at my house. I’d take a lot of pleasure just in leafing through.

    I’ve been recommended “Patisserie” by William and Suzie Curley, and “Patisserie – mastering the fundamentals of French pastry” by Christoph Felder. I can buy either at around half price or less, but I’m only going to get one for now. Has anyone here tried either? How did you find them? Did you feel inspired to try the recipes, or was there anything that put you off?

    My only firm requirement for this kind of book is that there are photos of every finished recipe, and ideally step by step photos too.

    1. Pharmgirl*

      I haven’t read either so I can’t offer advice, but this is such a great idea! I’d love to get better at patisserie, and the coffee table book idea is a great one. Do you have Barnes & Noble or similar near by that might carry them? You can browse them in person to see what works best.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        That’s the plan, though no luck so far :) I’ll have to wait until I’m by a large bookstore in a central location, because the smaller ones near me that I’ve tried don’t carry them.

    2. Square Root of Minus One*

      I have the Felder one. A French edition, maybe yours would be different. Tbh, I didn’t think it was great for a true beginner.
      I’m sorry because my vocab in English about cooking and pastry is abysmal, so it’s hard to explain.
      You’ll get long convoluted recipes to make big cakes like saint-honoré or opéra, but it’s hard to isolate lessons about simpler preparations like a specific kind of biscuit, cream, or how to deal best with chocolate or what’s tricky with macaroons.
      If you know the basics, you might like it. It was not for me, and actually I’m on the market for a school textbook for students. I bought one for cooking, it was great about how to fillet fish or peel artichokes.
      The Felder would look good on a coffee table, too, if intense pink is your thing ^^

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Thank you, that’s so interesting! I know the basics, and levelling up with tons of photos is what I’m hoping for. The chances I’ll rush to making an entire Saint-Honoré are slim (only two people in the household), hence why the coffee table book idea, but since that’s the go-to birthday cake where I grew up, and nowhere to be found where I live now, perhaps it is something I should challenge myself to once :) Then again, macarons are a nemesis of mine and I badly need the handholding on how to avoid them going very wrong.

  18. WoodswomanWrites*

    Here’s a question for those who take advantage of credit card promotions for travel perks. I’ve done this a few times over the years and I’ve gotten some great freebies out of it, including using points to buy a cell phone I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. I started reading The Points Guy blog on the recommendation of a friend and there are just so many promotions out there.

    Right now I actually use the cards I have, but you can you play this game too many times? The only expenses I’d incur for new cards would be the minimum purchases I have to make in X amount of months to qualify for the promotional benefits. I’ve timed getting my cards through promotions when I’ve had genuine large expenses, not buying extra stuff that would result in spending more just for the perks.

    What happens if I add more cards that I only use for the initial benefits and then cancel them a year later to avoid paying annual fees? I’ve got an exceptionally high credit rating, but I don’t own property or anticipate taking out a big loan, so maybe that doesn’t matter?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Dave from Miles Talk (disclosure: we’re distantly related, but I haven’t seen him since we were kids) addresses that, and basically says the main hit is the inquiry for each application, and if you spread them out and accumulate the miles/points gradually it shouldn’t have any long-term effect.

      Link in the reply.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Just for me because of how I operate (disorganized, no plan generally) they don’t work well, although I see people out there using them to great advantage. I’ll end up buying things I didn’t actually want in order to match up to some deal, if I remember at all (I try not to pay for background subscription type things because so often I forget them and end up giving money away for nothing). If it’s really important I can try to have some kind of spending plan for one month to hit a limit or whatever, but I need my credit card to be less structured and more flexible. I have a simple points back one now that’s free.

    3. fposte*

      I know Chase reportedly has a 5/24 rule; if you’ve opened at least 5 credit cards in the past 24 months they won’t approve you. I don’t think that’s super common but I bet they’re not the only ones. However, I haven’t heard that that translates to them cancelling an existing card, and if you don’t want a Chase card it may be a moot point.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Good to know. I have two Chase cards including one that was my first credit card many years ago. I haven’t used it in a long time so I’m thinking it’s one to get rid of.

    4. Alex*

      Your credit score takes a little hit every time you have a hard inquiry, such as opening up a credit card. Your score also takes a little hit when you close a credit card–it reduces your overall credit available. But if you have sky high credit and aren’t planning to buy a home anytime soon this probably doesn’t matter much to you.

      I have a credit card that gave a huge bonus if I spent X amount in Y months (this was a while ago so I’m not exactly sure the amount). What I did was pre-buy my expenses by purchasing gift cards, which I then used for all of my expenses for several months. (Just Visa gift cards and grocery gift cards).

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I really like this suggestion of buying gift cards that I can use on regular expenses later. I have used that strategy for a food discount account I have with a local grocery store, which is one of the ways I’ve ended up saving money when I get a credit card bonus. If I buy a high enough amount, I get 10% off the cost of food that I can use over time. But I hadn’t thought of doing it for other kinds of purchases.

  19. Bobina*

    Hopefully fun question: I was reading some wonderful fanfic this week from one of my favourite authors who tends to only put out fic 1-2 times a year. I thought to myself, if I was a very rich person, I would totally offer them money (if they wanted) so they could write more often.

    Then I remembered back in the day, patrons were a thing and this is how a lot of famous art we currently have in the world came around – rich people just saying “You’re talented, here is some money, make stuff”.

    So the question is, if you were filthy rich and could pick an artist of any flavour to sponsor, who would you pick/what would it be?

    1. UKDancer*

      I’d pick one of my favourite ballet dancers, ideally the Royal Ballet principal Vadim Muntagirov. I’d pay him to coach me in ballet and how to improve and also to let me watch him perform from the wings and watch him rehearse and be coached. If I couldn’t have him I’d go for Joe Sissens (also Royal Ballet), Francesco Frola (ENB) or Tzu-Chao Chou from Birmingham Royal Ballet. I really like dancers with very long legs and great jumping technique.

      It is actually possible to sponsor individual dancers in all those companies but they require a lot more money than I’d ever have so it’s on my list of things to do when I win the lottery.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I am also a Joseph Sisssons fan! And if you’re not familiar with Calvin Royal III of American Ballet Theatre, you should check our his Instagram account, because he has the most incredible legs that I’ve ever seen on a male ballet dancer.

        Given unlimited funds, I’d love to have my own personal live-in ballet tutor, to make me do stretching and turnout exercises on non-class days when I really don’t feel like it. And I’d also get my favourite muralist Jet Martinez to paint a mural on the one long free wall that I have inside my house – though alas, my husband put up all his framed film posters on it first.

        1. UKDancer*

          I’d definitely go for my own personal ballet tutor. I’m not sure I’d want one living with me as I like space. But I’d like a house with a large airy room I could use for ballet and a tutor coming over 2-3x per week to tutor me and teach me repertoire.

          I think what I’d probably also like is the sort of taxi dancers they have in Buenos Aires who take you to the tango clubs and dance with you and I’d have him teach me tango twice per week and go to the clubs in London and Paris and make me look amazing.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I originally (as a child) learned ballet in my dance teacher’s big Victorian house, which had a front room that had been converted to a dance studio. I’d definitely love to live in a house with a bullt-in studio – though maybe one with minimal mirrors because I get very distracted by them.

    2. Ochre*

      I’d love to sponsor a dear friend who paints, sings, does fiberwork and more. But at the same time she’s a bit like a wild bird and the constraint of patronage might dim the magic. It’s tricky!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would bump up to the highest tier on Seanan McGuire’s Patreon, which includes options for semi-custom stories so I could get answers to some of my idle questions :)

    4. Queer Earthling*

      For the record: money for fanfiction is an issue as that negates a lot of the legal defenses that allow people to write fanfiction in the first place. (That’s why AO3 bans donation links and tip jars stuff like that, and also why older fanfics always had “I don’t own this, I’m not making any money, please don’t sue me!” disclaimers at the top.)

      THAT SAID, we do still have patron systems! Lots of artists, writers, and other makers are on Patreon or have Ko-Fi links. You could always see if your fave fanfic writer has any social media and, if so, if they have a tip jar or anything. It’s not the same as having lots of money and sponsoring them, but a couple bucks now and again can still help.

    5. Magda*

      It’s interesting you assume the author would write more if they were getting paid. I’m a writer and not sure that’s true. People tend to want to own works and be able to steer them the way they want (totally understandable) but the process is a bit mysterious and I suspect if the author had to keep up a schedule or write what a certain person wanted, the magic might die.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I agree! I write, knit, and paint miniatures, but I wouldn’t want to do them on a schedule set by someone else, or have my creativity steered by someone else. The only way I will paint minis for my friends is if I can follow my own vision with essentially no input from them. I get too demotivated and stressed out trying to make a mini fit someone else’s vision. I imagine the same would be true of me when I write.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I will out myself by admitting I write very infrequent fanfic. People do comment asking for more or wishing I’d post more often. I haven’t found a way to explain that the stories would have to be *less good* if there were more of them; if they’re good, it’s *because* they’re infrequent and I took a long time on them. I can’t really hijack the process to write faster but at the same quality. I’m not sure money would help.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I’m the same way. I don’t even like to write to guidelines for anthology submissions. Ugh, too much pressure.

      2. Sundae fun day*

        Interesting perspective! I follow a few favorite mid list authors who are very open about needing to get jobs so they can have healthcare and a steady income, and how that affects their ability to write. Maybe I’d spend my money there. Of course, the writing muse is fickle.even with funding, there’s no guarantee good writing would happen.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, maybe it feels more true for fanfic, which is a labor of love that nobody’s expecting to profit from. Would people be able to finish more original novels with patronage? Yes, probably … although not definitely. George Martin ain’t finishing that series for love nor money.

          1. lbd*

            I laughed when I read your last line! I really enjoyed reading the first 4 books, but about a third of the way through number 5, I realised that there wasn’t enough book left to wrap up all the story arcs, that there was more and more time between releasing the books, and that the author is getting up there in years, and that I would likely never know how it all ends, and with all that, I abruptly lost interest and have never picked the book up again.
            I heard a theory that wildly popular authors can do more of what they want, and are less subject to their editors oversight, and that they tend to end up expanding their stories beyond what would happen to a more closely edited story. I can think of a few series that that seems to have happened with so I think there may be some truth in it!

      3. New Jack Karyn*

        I’m thinking of someone like Seanan McGuire, who is both popular and prolific. However, she is open about money struggles–last I heard, she’s supporting a disabled family member. Throwing $100K a year at her (in addition to her existing and future book contracts)would likely ease a lot of her woes; she’d be able to cover full health insurance, hire out unpleasant and time-consuming tasks, etc.

    6. Goosey*

      I’d run a theatre company to incubate and produce works by playwrights from underrepresented communities, including a building of nice studio apartments for housing out of town artists and offering employees an option for housing as part of their benefits package.

    7. Lilith*

      Have you ever read ‘The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet’ by Becky Chambers? If I remember rightly (and I very possibly don’t!) I believe she funded the writing of her first novel through a Kickstarter campaign, so a more crowd-funded patronage than the 1-1 that was the traditional way :)

    8. Kathenus*

      I’d support the Danish artist Thomas Dambo, who builds the giant trolls out of recycled wood – and hire him to build me some for my yard :)

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      For me it would be musicians. That’s a tough way to make a living if you’re genre isn’t mainstream. I support several on Patreon now. Some are mountain dulcimer players as I am, and I’d love to have one-on-one lessons with them as well as a personal clawhammer banjo teacher.

    10. Sage*

      I would want to sponsor an autistic artist from Germany called Daniela Schreiter. She lives from her art and from her patreons, but sometimes money is tight anyways. I would like to help her to have to worry less about that.

  20. Chilled Cookie*

    Hi everyone. First time posting in the weekend threads but been reading AAM posts for a while now.
    Told a friend about the site but was looking for some favourite AAM posts/threads to get them started on as a good place to read a few posts casually or for fun. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Still*

      The one with the random woman being invited as a plus one to a company Christmas party and making friends with everybody, I’ll post the link if someone doesn’t beat me to it.

      The one with the person burning documents on the side of the road.

      I think Alison has a list of her favourites from every year as well, those are always solid.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Hooray, someone else has the story of burning documents by the side of the road as a favorite!

        I work in the same profession as that person. I shared it with my colleagues and they also laughed. It was featured in Alison’s post on 11/28/2019: “One of my favorite things about running this site is getting to hear people’s mortifying stories from their pasts.”

        It’s number 6 here: https://www.askamanager.org/2019/11/the-document-bonfire-the-dragon-video-call-and-other-amazing-work-moments.html

        The other stories in that post are also a great read.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think burning documents by the side of the road speaks to a feeling many of us have had, even if our job does not offer us literal physical documents that we could do it on.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Cheap ass rolls and my coworker ate my spicy food and got sick and now I’m in trouble

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Any thread collecting stories of free food at work. I feel like those shine such a piercing light on the human condition, as the head veep of Sales bowls the interns out of the way so he can box up an entire lasagna to take home. Because he likes lasagna.

      Free stuff really does bring up a divide by zero error in our monkey brains.

    4. Quack Quack*

      The Duck Club!

      (I also liked the one where the employee accidentally booked their boss to fly to Naples, Italy instead of Naples, Florida.)

    5. Aquamarine*

      If you click on Topics, at the bottom you’ll find Alison’s favorite posts, so that’s a good place to start, especially if you don’t want your friend to think all the letters are on the wacky side. Also, you can search for “most popular posts” of whatever year, and those are always good.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      The “no one will hire me to be their visionary” guy. Every time Allison calls for the posts we want updates on he pops up like a gopher.

  21. Ellis Bell*

    What food fashions do you detest, and what food fashions have been a revelation? This struck home to me recently, when my partner bemoaned not being able to get a good restaurant or cafe sandwich because the fashion for sourdough is still going strong after multiple years in a “here to stay” sort of way, and he only likes soft pillowy bread (this will sound weird to US readers, because you get offered bread choices everywhere, but here you get what you’re given in most situations). My mother is waiting for brioche burger buns to go out of style, and awaits the return of the humble sesame seed. She also fears that shop bought apple pies will continue to be made with loads of cinnamon, and she will never again see her childhood style of apple pie, consisting only of slight lemon and vanilla additions. A friend wants to be able to order a salad and see mostly iceberg lettuce show up. This has been a vain dream since the early noughts, when rocket and radicchio became a big deal (in her words, these “taste like nettles”). For me, I was always curious about peanut butter, having heard so much about it through films (think St Elmo’s Fire scene “it was the BEST peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I have had in my entire life”) but it wasn’t really a big deal here, and I had no idea how to prepare it, (it did not taste good with jam and bread unless I was doing it wrong) until it enjoyed a brief fashion a few years ago which is when I discovered it tastes amazing with chocolate and is actually my favourite flavour of ice cream! But, the fashion did not have any staying power, and it’s already getting difficult to find the ice cream or peanut butter flavoured things. How much do food fashions affect your ability to get your favourite things?

    1. Queer Earthling*

      Diet fashions can get frustrating. My partner can’t eat wheat (IBS, not celiac) and they were really enjoying the large amounts of options when gluten-free dieting was in fashion, but as it’s dropped off, a lot of their favorite snacks have been discontinued. The pivot to keto helps some wheat-free folks, but since my partner and I may both have nut allergies (we’re each getting tested soon) that rules out most of those options. (If we can eat nuts, though, I’ll be somewhat glad of the keto trend, since I’m diabetic, and their wheat-free stuff and my sugar-free stuff are rarely sharable otherwise.)

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I am wheat free too, and I am really missing Amy’s branded foods; it’s an American company which was shipping over here, but it now seems to have gone bust. I’m inconsolable about their rice macaroni and cheese, which was not vegan, as most surviving gluten free brand foods are. It was a frozen single serving, then a few minutes in the microwave you had gloopy, satisfying Mac and cheese of perfect consistency. I’m not optimistic about finding a replacement!

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I could have sworn I read that they went bust, but taking a second look that was just one California factory. Unfortunately the website won’t entertain me; as soon as it realises I’m from the UK it says “although we will no longer be operating in the UK, we hope that you’ll cherish the memories made gathered around Amy’s meals”. You have given me hope though!

        1. numptea*

          Our household loved the Amy’s frozen pizzas and frozen burritos, but the quality dropped so sharply that we quit buying them. So, honestly, you might be disappointed even if you get regain access.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I’m honestly mostly gutted that they made pizza I never got to try! The burritos were ace though. Sad story that it’s over :(

            1. anomalous flamingo*

              if you want homemade pizza, I make a buckwheat flour “base” for my daughter’s GF pizza needs. She also can’t have rice, which puts most GF replacement flours out of reach. The buckwheat base for pizza is a bit cracker-like, but it’s pizza!

            2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              My husband has just recently had to go gluten free and he says that while the gluten free pizza crusts he’s tried are alright, the California Pizza Kitchen cauliflower crust is nigh indistinguishable from a standard thin and crispy pizza crust, if that’s a thing you might be interested in and able to try.

              1. Queer Earthling*

                We really enjoyed the cauliflower crusts we tried! Unfortunately, we discovered that’s also an IBS trigger for my partner so that was right out. (That said, on days they can tolerate garlic, Freschetta has a gluten-free pizza that made us double-check the box to make sure it’s gluten-free.)

        2. Kat*

          Morrisons have a frozen gluten free macaroni cheese which contains milk and cheese – I actually prefer it to the Amy’s version which always went a bit dry when I made it, but they’re pretty similar.

          On the whole though, the move away from gluten free food into vegan food has not been kind to my coeliac self

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’m also puzzled by the existence of “Pumpkin-Spice” anything. I don’t hate it, but it seems kind of “meh” and if “Pumpkin Spice” disappeared from the planet I wouldn’t miss it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Pumpkin spice and bacon are two foods/flavors that seemingly were “around” forever and then suddenly swelled into Titans and took over EVERYTHING, only to fade back.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Ugh, it’s so hard to be gluten free, not the least because it’s so expensive! We have to charge $5 more for our gluten free crusts.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Honestly, we save a lot of money on wheat-free stuff by…not buying a ton of replacements. We do buy a few things (gf bread, noodles, tamari, and a 1:1 flour), but mostly we just buy stuff that never had wheat in the first place. Rice, potatoes, corn tortillas, etc. for carb, unbreaded chicken, etc. Convenience food is harder (especially since my partner often has to avoid garlic and onion as well) but not impossible; there’s a broccoli-chicken-alfredo frozen dinner my partner likes, and they just add rice to it for carb. GF frozen pizza is a rare treat, and sometimes instead they’ll just have pizza fries or make a mini pizza on a tortilla or something.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My partner grew up having peanut butter on bread as a snack, and I did not. Because I’m generally lukewarm about peanuts, I saw no point in it. Until he found one specific brand in sale at the supermarket: I don’t know what it is about the way it tastes, but it’s the best peanut butter I ever had. Now I’m a convert, any brand he buys will do, I even find myself spreading some on toast when he’s not around (if that one brand is what we have in the house, that’s even better).

      The food fashion I detest is the way Aperol Spritz became popular in the UK, as an overpriced cocktail. Many people will say they hate it, and of course they would, it’s impossible to find one here that’s made the right way. I even watched a barman make me one, once, and not a drop of wine was used. I grew up in Northern Italy, where, in the ’00s/early 2010s, you could enjoy a proper one comfortably sitting at a bar, with complimentary snacks, for no more than 3€ (and that was in the expensive places). I’d love for someone to change my mind, but so far, I think the only decent Aperol Spritz you can drink in London is one prepared at an Italian’s home.

    3. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I’m with your mum on the brioche buns. I just went a hamburger that holds together. Iceberg lettuce over rocket please. I’m happy the sun dried tomato phase is over, ditto focaccia. Feta, I like but not on eggs and I don’t want to pay $6 for fried Halloumi thanks. I am glad we’re no longer deconstructing everything.

      I will miss salted caramel when it is gone, also lemon everything and chilli everything. Vale vanilla and cinnamon chai, I think you are nearly gone and I already miss you!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        God, amen. It’s a burger, not a Platonic Ideal. A sturdy bun, lots of cheese, and quit stacking topping on the thing like it’s the leaning tower of Pisa! The second you try to pick it up it collapses.

      2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        I’m also Team Iceberg! It gets bad press but is so crunchy and robust in salads.

    4. Turtle Dove*

      Not sure if it’s a food fashion or here to stay, but I detest cooking in plastic bags and containers (e.g., in microwaves and sous vide). I don’t trust that some plastics are “safe” under high temperatures.

      My latest revelation is chili-lime flavoring. One particular chili-lime tortilla chip, made locally, tastes like heaven to me. I crave the flave!

      Speaking of peanut butter, I remember eating a peanut-butter sandwich at a friend’s house as a kid, and it was better than ours at home. Turns out that household buttered (margarined?) the bread before adding the peanut butter. A revelation! I didn’t adopt that approach, but I may try it again. I’m back into pb&j sandwiches, and now I buy a peanut butter that contains only peanuts.

      Also, my husband grew up with butter, and I grew up with margarine, and butter was a giant revelation when I started eating at his parents’ house. Let’s just say I haven’t touched margarine since!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I totally agree re-sous vide! I don’t trust that it’s healthy. How can it be? And people who cook steak in it? Yeech. Steamed beef.

        And the hamburgers on brioche can exit stage left any time.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Ohhh. No comment on the cooking in plastic – I understand the concern – but my husband cooks steak sous vide and it is the very very best. He cooks it to our perfect rarer-side-of-medium-rare temp and than finishes it in a cast-iron pan or on the grill and it is perfection. No resemblance at all to steamed anything :)

        2. Pippa K*

          Hello, I am here to take custody of everyone’s unwanted brioche buns, send them my way and I’ll see that they are properly disposed of. Nom nom nom.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Okay I will admit that because peanut butter has “butter” in the name, I never tried adding additional butter as well, even though I knew it was too dry alone. I’m off to experiment.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        This is so funny, one time a relative made PBJ for my kids with butter and the kids were like wtf is this? She was completely baffled that they’d never had it with butter and we were completely baffled that she thought it was normal! I’d never heard of anyone else doing it until this comment.

      4. Jamie Starr*

        Yes, I used to have peanut butter and butter sandwiches as a child. I don’t like jelly/jam so it was just PB & B. I think that’s how the lunch ladies at school made them, too. (There was always a tupperware of buttered bread slices and PB sandwiches if you wanted something besides the main lunch.)

      5. MaryLoo*

        Yes, REAL peanut butter made of peanuts and nothing else (except perhaps salt. Not the kind with additives that keep it from separating. Teddie is a great brand (smooth, salted variety). You have to stir it.
        And butter the bread first, of course! Then the peanut butter. Jelly optional.

      6. goddessoftransitory*

        I think I’m the only American alive who hates peanut butter. Always have, from childhood. I don’t mind peanut butter cookies, though!

        1. don'tbeadork*

          You’re not. DH and I both detest the stuff. One of our doggos loves it and the other is definitely One of Us. Gave them a breadstick with a dab of nutbutter on it and one grabbed and ate hers while the other accepted it then dropped it with a WTF look on her face. And then proceeded to eat only the bit of breadstick that DIDN’T have PB on it.

      7. Girasol*

        This is not what you asked, but thanks to covid grocery deliveries on 100-plus degree days, I had to learn how to make my own peanut butter ice cream. It’s super easy. You need a mixer, two cold mixing bowls, a pint of whipping cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and peanut butter. In one bowl use the mixer to whip the cream to medium peaks. In the other bowl, whip peanut butter (to taste) into the condensed milk. (A little vanilla is nice here but not necessary.) Gently fold whipped cream into whipped condensed milk/peanut butter. Put it in a convenient mold, like a Tupperware box or a metal mixing bowl, and freeze 4-6 hours. Don’t overload your bowl when you first taste it. This is richer than Haagen Dazs.

      8. CookingWhileDisabled*

        some of us are physically unable to cook any other way so hopefully the microwaveanle plastic throwaway containers don’t actually disappear…

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Bad: Burgers (or sandwiches) too tall to eat.

      I remember one where it was a lamb burger with a thick slice of fried halloumi on top–either would have made a fine sandwich on its own, but combined it was too much: too rich, too tall, too cloggy.

      Good: Grazing boards. Also tapas.

      Went to a wine bar near my daughter’s that specialized in boards (e.g. vegetables with several dips, or pick four different bruschetta), and it was such a great way to try a lot of different things, get your vegetables while eating out, etc.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        I wish I liked caramel and toffee! They seem to be in everything sweet, ( desserts, cakes and the like), and I just don’t like the taste of them. It’s OK if it’s a component that can be scraped off, but not if it’s a sauce throughout the dish. :P

        I love coconut and mint though! I would love it if those flavours were suddenly in everything!

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          Yeah, caramel and toffee can be a bit much. Sometimes I like them quite a bit but they are quite rich and can overwhelm a dish for me.
          Coconut and mint would have me running for the hills, though, so I’m in favour of caramel and toffee staying xD

        2. I take tea*

          I personally like salted caramel, but my partner prefers fruit flavoured ice cream and often complaines on how hard it is to find nowadays, because everything is salted caramel or nuts or chocholate and so on. (Especially as it has to be vegan.) At least where we live, it’s sadly true.

      2. Courageous cat*

        You just inspired me to look up fried/grilled halloumi sandwiches, people are doing them with tomatoes apparently and they look incredible. Guess I’m going to the grocery store.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m so glad that Tower Of Food is finally fading as a thing. Yay for your Instagram but I want to actually be able to eat the thing!

    6. londonedit*

      Everything being vegan. I totally understand why pubs etc do it – it’s far easier and cheaper to just have a vegan option on the menu, because that caters for all the non-meat-eaters. Makes complete sense from a logistics and financial point of view.

      But I’m not vegan and I really like eggs and cheese. If I’m going to the pub for some food, I’d like to eat something I’ll really enjoy. That’s not to say vegan options can’t be delicious – they often are – but I feel like we’ve regressed to the old days when the only veggie option you could find anywhere would be the ubiquitous mushroom risotto. Except now it’s a vegan butternut squash curry or a vegan bean chilli. Gone is the veggie burger – now it’s vegan and you have to ask if you want normal cheese. In the grand scheme of things a small problem, I know, but I miss having more choice!

      1. Lilith*

        I have the exact same problem! There’s a local ramen place that’s delicious, but I always have to ask for the vegan version (because of the broth) but to add the egg back in on top.

        I also personally have issues with so many things being labelled ‘plant-based’ – I never know if they mean vegan/vegetarian or not! If something is only 2% meat, does that count as plant-based?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          “Plant-based” is food-marketing-speak for “vegan but we don’t want to say vegan because some meat-eating people will recoil at anything we say is vegan”.

          1. constant_craving*

            Except for some people do actually use it to mean more veggies than meat, etc. It’s not always a safe bet.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Oh, I wasn’t referring to how individuals might use the term. I meant if you see it on a menu or food packaging.

        2. Queer Earthling*

          I just find it funny when something advertises, like, “plant-based coffee.” Like hey, buddy. I have some really exciting news for you about where coffee comes from.

      2. SarahKay*

        Oh, my sister is right there with you. Doesn’t like meat, adores cheese, is totally fed-up that the single vegetarian choice in most pubs is now also vegan.

      3. Rainy*

        Much if not most vegan food has something I’m allergic to in it, so yeah, I’m with you. (I could eat neither the butternut squash curry nor the chili due to allergies.)

        1. ampersand*

          I have this problem, too, with most foods that are plant-based—lately that seems to mean they’re made of pea protein or gluten, and both are out for me. It can be frustrating.

          1. Rainy*

            Yeah–I’m fine with gluten, but I can’t have peas or beans (soy is a bean) or brassicas, and I’m also allergic to turmeric, so basically anything vegetarian I probably can’t eat.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Super tall burgers. I don’t want a burger I have to cut to eat.
      Super hoppy beer.
      This really came in and out last year, so didn’t stay for long – butter boards. In my circle, they basically brought up a lot mirth and ridicule. In general – everything on boards. My stepmom even gave me a “shared boards meals” cookbook for last Christmas, of which I disposed promptly. They are just the same appetizers and meals. Just on a board. For some reason. Thank you, my devilled eggs can go on a platter. I already know how to put cheese on a board.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I don’t at all mind the collection of appetizers, those are usually the best part of the meal anyway. But why boards specifically? There are already food vessels that exist. There is also a table surface that you can place those vessels on directly, like dips and salsa.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        And now I sound like an old guy yelling at clouds, but please serve my food in a restaurant on a platter and not a board.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        You might enjoy the We Want Plates twitter feed, and the accompanying Guardian article about how British gastropubs were/are serving everything on a breadboard/roofslates etc instead of actual plates. One restaurant, ran by a Michelin chef served their bread rolls in a hat, which is almost like taking the piss out of yourself. I was getting really fed up of that particular trend when it was at its height; I remember being charged quite a lot of money in a mid-range place for pulled pork and mashed potatoes, and I got this really tiny almost piping bag-measured portion inside a square metal camping tray, for absolutely no practical reason that I could identify. I don’t mind serving materials being rustic if it means the money goes on the quality and portion size of the food – the classic example is fish and chips wrapped in paper; this is genius because it contains it well, keeps it warm, lowers the price, makes it portable and you can tear it open for easy access. I like boards for cheese or things that need cutting, but I really dislike being overcharged just so someone can show off their presentation and the fact that they’re too hip to function.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I love that subreddit.
          Also, check out “didn’t have the eggs” subreddit, for some so bad they are hilarious recipes reviews.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Ohhh, is this of the “substituted out the eggs, flour, sugar and butter; was the worst cake ever!” type school?

        2. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          Cue my brain giving me a rendition of John Finnemore singing “Put it on a plate!” in one series of his Souvenier Programme

          1. tiredlibrarian*

            YES! John Finnemore is the best. Love Souvenir Programme, and Cabin Pressure, and basically anything he does.

      4. No Tribble At All*

        Omg 100% yes to the burgers that are taller than they are wide. I am not Shaggy from scooby-doo or a boa constrictor who can unhinge their jaw. The burger is too tall to eat!!!

      5. Pippa K*

        It would be great if the hops obsession would hurry up and fade from the beer world. Luckily there are still plenty of porters and brown ales and whatnot, but the hops thing has just been so prominent for a long while!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I don’t drink beer but Husband does, and he is sooooo sick of the IPA trend. Especially since the brewers seem to be in competition for the “bitterest, like sucking on actual hemlock” award.

        2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Ugh. It’s so disappointing to go into a nice looking pub to find 300 different IPAs that are too bitter and nothing else. I tell the bar staff that I’m tired of them in the hopes that their feedback will eventually make it to the brewers.

    8. numptea*

      I strongly agree with your mom regarding the excess of cinnamon in apple baked goods. My conspiracy theory is that it caught on because it’s such a strong flavor that it hides poor quality apples/crust ingredients.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I will share this with her because she makes a great apple pie, is so fussy about ingredients and will just really enjoy the validation! I personally like cinnamon to take centre stage, like with a cinammon roll.

        1. numptea*

          IMO this concept is catching on across all foods/drinks. It’s no accident that IPAs got pushed as the next big thing; hops hides the taste of poor ingredients and poor brewmanship. Delicate beers, like Weizenbier and lambics, take a lot more skill. The breweries that make delicate beers are the ones that have been staffed by monks for hundreds of years, while every techbro micropub that popped up in the past decade is pushing IPAs.

          Anytime a processed product has a strong flavor profile when it didn’t before, I pay closer attention to quality.

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            My college dining hall did this, it made everything more inedible, like I’d rather just have plain baked chicken than the overseasoned attempt to pretend to be fancy…

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree, I like lemon-y apple pie and I also add a lot of lemon to my berry pies (blueberry / mixed berry) because the pie crust is already sweet so you can a nice tart/sweet combo. The cinnamon is just interrupting my experience. My friend loathes cinnamon in savory dishes and has been hoping that trend dies, although (don’t tell her) I sort of like it myself.

    9. Sloanicota*

      Sidenote but I recall growing up in the UK in the early 90s and peanut butter was really not a thing. We were American and my mother used to bring it back in her suitcase whenever we visited home.

      1. SarahKay*

        I am surprised by that, as I’m in the UK and I’ve been eating peanut butter since at least the early 80s. And I grew up in the countryside in the midlands of England, so not any sort of foodie oasis where you’d expect to find rare foods.
        I feel like the only peanut butter was Sun-Pat, so maybe that was (is?) too dissimilar to US peanut butter to be appealing?

        1. Kat*

          I think this was it – in the early 2000s I shared a flat at uni with some American exchange students who didn’t recognise our peanut butter as in any way similar to theirs, and got it sent over in care packages.

          1. SarahKay*

            That would make sense then, and possibly also explain why the one time I tried making a PB&J sandwich I was utterly underwhelmed.

    10. EdgarAllenCat*

      with irrational & unreasonable hatred, I hate fruit in salad and entrees. Love fruit desserts & fruit itself. Just don’t willy nilly mix it with savory stuff.

      1. Clisby*

        I am not particularly fond of fruit, anyway, but unless you’re talking about “technical” fruits like tomatoes and cucumbers, I also don’t want to see it in a salad or entree.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I was treated to a peach pizza this summer. The peaches were holding the role typically occupied by tomatoes, but I’d say they were less good at it.

      2. Jelly*

        Heard that! I don’t want strawberries and cranberries and walnuts with 1,000 island dressing. Just…no…

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! And its opposite, Let’s Pretend Tomatoes and Cucumbers are Dessert. Yes, tomato is a fruit, but it is NOT a dessert fruit, I don’t care if you caramelize it with a little blowtorch and charge fifty dollars for it.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        On that note: quit sticking RAISINS into things willy nilly, trendy people!

        Yes, I’m well aware much Middle Eastern cuisine features raisins. That doesn’t mean you should start chucking them into pasta dishes or salads with no warning!

        1. EdgarAllenCat*

          Love all of you! There’s a popular diner nearby that makes tuna salad with golden raisins. Gives me the shivers & I start making hairball noises. .

          I do like Middle Eastern dishes with raisins and some classic exceptions like pear & gorgonzola salad or orange + fennel salad.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I’m not saying fruit can never be an entree–we sell a pear/gorgonzola pizza, a prociuttio/fig, and a peach one that are big hits when we feature them, so it’s not the outlier it once was; that said, I personally have never eaten any of them. And the one time TPTB tried golden raisins on a pie it was decidedly NOT a hit!

        2. Clisby*

          The only thing I will eat containing raisins is raisin bran. Period. And that’s maybe twice a year.

          Years ago, when I was a young teenager and the eldest of 6 kids, my father took up baking as a hobby. He was really good at it, but one day he turned his hand to cinnamon buns. With raisins.

          He served them to us, and sure enough, the cinnamon buns were fabulous. But *every one* of us kids picked each and every raisin out and left it on the plate before we ate the bun.

          My father: “Well, I know how to make them cheaper next time.”

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I do admit I want raisins in my oatmeal cookies–they add that *touch.* But nowhere else. Especially with no warning.

    11. Goose*

      I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like the taste of meat–universe, please bring back veggie burgers that aren’t impossible burgers!!

        1. Clisby*

          +1. I need some good veggie burger recipes. I have one for black bean burgers, which is pretty good, but probably the best veggie burger I’ve had was at a chain called Burger-Fi (mostly meat, but really good vb’s.)

          I really don’t get the appeal of imitation meat.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Like good black bean burgers that held together as a patty and were deliciously savory. They were big where I lived for a couple years and then vanished.

    12. WellRed*

      Why is French onion soup suddenly a thing at all restaurants. Chains, local etc. whatever happened to good old chili?

      1. Chaordic One*

        In a lot of restaurants in my area French Onion Soup has evolved into a sort of “Melted Swiss Cheese and Onion Soup” in a beef broth. It’s not really French Onion Soup anymore.

    13. Chaordic One*

      While not a food fashion as such, and probably not something that most people can relate to, I’m really annoyed with how so many food companies stick soy in everything. I have a soy allergy and it is just disheartening to see that it is an ingredient in so many processed foods anymore. Soy is basically a cheap filler ingredient that adds a bit of protein and nutrition in many, if not most, processed foods (even in foods that don’t really need it). The presence of soy makes a lot of otherwise perfectly good foods inedible to me. I guess the soy farmers have a very effective lobbying group.

      A relative of mine has is allergic to corn products and her allergies are triggered by high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap substitute for sugar.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’m lactose intolerant and I’m annoyed at how many processed foods have dairy in it. And not even cheese or sour cream flavored things. Some processed meats have dairy as a filler and I’ve seen dairy in lime flavored chips. Argh.

      2. DontAddExtraStuff*

        I’m allergic to raw tomatoes. not only do they show up everywhere in dishes that you wouldn’t expect them in, but sometimes they show up as an unannounced garnish

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Husband is sick to death of the fashion for IPA beers –they’re too bitter for him and have taken over most store aisles, even stuff from small breweries.

      For me, the fashion for burgers to be giant, spherical wads of meat that don’t cook properly. I like a generous helping of ground cow as much as the next gal, but please FLATTEN it a bit so it cooks through and doesn’t turn my lunch into a drippy, soggy mess that’s impossible to pick up!

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      A food fashion I detest is the proliferation of raw kale. Kale should be cooked. Even an MD gastroenterologist I know decried eating kale raw as hard on the digestive tract.

    16. SarahKay*

      I’m there with your mum regarding brioche buns. I actually don’t like brioche with anything; to me it’s kind of sweetly-bland pap-textured not-quite-bread. I am continually amazed at its popularity.

    17. Square Root of Minus One*

      Systematic parmigiano cheese on pasta and carpaccio in Italian restaurants. I wish I didn’t have to ask for it to NOT be added every single time.

      Also, if more independant sandwich places had a vegetarian option NOT centered around goat cheese, that’d be peachy.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        YES. I was shamed and scolded all the time as a child for disliking most cheeses (Italy is one hell of a place to grow up in with this particular kind of food preference). Having to ask whether a plate of pasta will come with it before ordering is reliving that all over again. Just write it on the menu, restaurants, please!

    18. Filosofickle*

      I am ride or die for sourdough! Twenty plus years on and I remain devoted.

      When Brussels sprouts became a thing (maybe 10 years ago?) I officially reversed by stance and embraced them after a lifetime of thinking they were awful.

    19. Camelid coordinator*

      Such a fun question and so many fun answers! I am glad the truffle oil craze has gone away and am ready for caramels to be available without salt. Oh, and this one is more of a food judgement question, but I prefer milk chocolate to dark, which is the opposite of current wisdom.

      1. goddessoftransitory*


        I dislike salted sweet stuff as dessert–I know it’s supposed to enhance the flavor or whatever, but to me it’s “golf is a good walk spoiled.” I like sweet stuff! It’s doing its job without the extra, clashing salt!

        And I adore milk chocolate. I’ve found a couple dark chocolates that are okay, but usually it’s way too dry and bitter for me. Again, I’m not eating this as some foodie challenge! I just want candy.

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I’m not a fan of salty food in general (I’m that weirdo who doesn’t get salt on their fish and chips so I can control how much salt goes on them) and I can’t wait for salted caramel to go back to being a novelty. I used to like caramel but it’s hard to find it plain now.

    20. vombatus ursinus*

      This is a fun question and really interesting to see the responses! I love sourdough, rocket, radicchio, haloumi, Beyond meat, peanut butter, and cinnamon so I guess I’m the insufferable person keeping all your least favourite food trends alive … sorry!

      I guess I won’t miss truffle oil/mayo. I dislike the taste of mushrooms!

      1. vombatus ursinus*

        And I also like both fennel and fruit in savoury dishes … *hides*

        The funny thing is, there are plenty of foods I DON’T like or eat (meat, seafood, eggs, mushrooms, olives, raw onion …), but none of them except for mushrooms really seem to be trends, I guess?

    21. Clisby*

      Not exactly a *food* fashion, but I abhor the gigantic portions restaurants tend to dish up these days (I’m in the US). It’s not just that it’s two to three times the amount of food I could possibly eat at a meal – I don’t at all mind taking home leftovers if it’s something that will reheat well – it’s that looking at a huge plate of food set in front me is kind of nauseating.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, I think there’s a real cultural divide here between the US and the UK. Here in Britain, most people are brought up to clear their plates at every meal – some restaurants will let you take leftovers home, but it’s really not the norm and it’s still seen as quite an odd request (unless it’s something like a pizza, where the restaurant can put it in a pizza box). I get the impression that in the US it’s all about generosity – you’re not necessarily meant to clear your plate, but the restaurant is demonstrating its hospitality and generosity and abundance by giving you more food than you can possibly eat. Whereas here people are embarrassed if they can’t finish their food, so it’s polite to put a reasonable amount on the plate so as not to cause embarrassment. Like everything else, US customs are starting to creep in here – especially with social media. You now have places in London doing impossibly huge waffles or burgers or whatever, because it’s more likely to go viral.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Honestly my theory is they can double the price by giving you a huge plate of pasta without doubling the cost. It’s justifying them charging more by giving you more than you can (or should eat).

    22. Nightengale*

      dried apricots.

      The apricots of my childhood were tart and sticky and I would just sit and snack on them. Occasionally my mother found what she considered “better” dried apricots which were moister and plumper and not tart at all. They were more expensive so she only got them sometimes even when available. I didn’t see the charm. I also dislike fresh apricot fruits.

      Over time, the apricots I liked became more and more rare. Eventually I discovered that the apricots I liked were “California” and the apricots she liked were “Mediterranean.” This taught me what to look for on packages but did not make California apricots easier to find. I have gone years without acceptable apricots. Right now, Trader Joes is the only place that gets the right apricots and only sometimes.

  22. JSPA*

    My friends did something like this; one-way cargo van rental and SUV. They didn’t caravan to the point of drafting on each other (too greater risk of the person behind creeping up on the person in front) but they had…CB’s, I think?… and chatted the whole way, and stopped at the same rest stops. (Do CB’s still exist?)

  23. Izquierda*

    Several months ago I received such helpful advice here about international travel with a toddler. I didn’t have a chance to say thank you then, so just wanted to express my gratitude on the other side of the trip – we followed tips on everything from travel stroller to airplane activities to modifying expectations, and it went as smoothly as travel with a toddler possibly can!

  24. Magda*

    Question: Ever since I joined the ranks of dog owner, people have been telling me about their “heart dogs,” one dog out of many that is extra-special and really ‘gets them.’ I’m coming up on my third year of owning my dog, and – while obviously I love him very much!! – have sort of decided I wouldn’t get another dog after this sweet boy passes (I adopted him as an adult and he’s a large breed so it’s not an abstract question). I feel like, while grateful for all the wonderful things he does, the costs, medical stresses, and commitment to routine required for a dog aren’t going to change with the individual animal. Dogs are a bit pushy and expectant; they make a huge mess (my house and car are completely “doggie” at this point – he is a large, longhaired dog soo) and travel is difficult. That wouldn’t change with a different dog, although I realize a smaller one might be a bit different around the edges. Right? This “heart dog” thing makes me wonder if there’s such a great variety in the experience that I can’t judge from just one dog.

    1. Invisible fish*

      Correct. Every dog is just so incredibly different! I’m not saying you should or should not have another companion animal in your life, only that your experiences with each would be as varied as they are.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This +1000. We’re on our 9th dog as a couple (we’ve had multiples at times). They are all SO different from each other! And we’ve mostly had the same mix of breeds/similar mutts. I’ve found that animals vary in personality just as much as people do.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Every dog is different. That’s why they are family members.

      First: I absolutely back you on deciding “this experience was great in many ways, and I’m not going to try to duplicate it with some other dog–I’m going to remember this dog fondly.”

      Practical thoughts on whether I want more dogs in future: Our lovely 80 pound dog started to lose control of his legs when my husband was traveling, and it was not easy to get him to the emergency vet if he had to be carried.
      The dog we got after he died grew bigger than we had guessed, and became more aggressive when he hit two–aggression as a cover for anxiety, the dog trainer deduced when covid was waning and we could finally see someone for help–and while that fit, and we learned some things that helped manage him, I stopped walking him off leash. And with chest surgery, my ability to control one angry dog on a leash and one going-with-the-flow dog on a leash was severely compromised. It was so unlike the experience with our lovely and gentle first dog.

      Also, having lived in one spot walking dogs in the woods for 20 years: Some people I thought had done an exceptional job training the first dog I knew, when that pet died and they got a new dog it became apparent that the first dog had just had a happy, cooperative personality, and it wasn’t anything the human was doing.

      1. Sloanicota*

        So true. On the medical stuff: adopting an older dog can certainly be correlated with higher medical costs just as in people, and larger dogs are generally more expensive anyway (higher doses of medicines / more of that specialized food etc). But smaller dogs adopted younger will have more years of medical expense so it might just about even out in the end, and also you can never be sure about the health of any pet. Cats are certainly cheaper on the whole but it’s probably possible to get a young healthy seeming cat and then run smack dab into a really, really expensive issue too … but still I’d feel pretty safe guessing cats are going to be cheaper. You’re not going to have a dog and NEVER end up dealing with a big bill. It costs me like $600 just to board one dog over Christmas.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I will say, when I got my big boy, I did have a realization early on that dogs have great PR. They are about 500% more work than a cat, and in my opinion they don’t love you 500% more than cats do, if “receiving love” is the payout of pets for you (they can be more overt about their love I guess, if you’re someone who needs big gestures). And people imagine doing so many more things out in the world with their dog, but that very much depends on the dog’s personality, and not all of them are going to go for trips to the coffee shop or the dog park or whatever.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        None of my dogs has given me half a mouse. (Or, in the case of The Spanish Inquisition, half a grass snake.)

        Though when we went to Zurich I wound up really missing our larger dog, who would just have excelled at cafe culture. I am with my people! More people are admiring me! And there are snacks!!! (I loved that Zurich had so many fountains with a dog-watering spot.)

        1. carcinization*

          A dog has never brought me half a mouse, but a dog has definitely brought me a live baby rabbit… and then quickly and proudly dispatched it in front of me (this was a family dog we had when I was younger, not my own dog that recently passed away). Not easy to forget even if one doesn’t have especially warm feelings for rabbits!

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I’m snuggled up with our cat right now; he noticed that I got home late yesterday and has been pasted to me ever since. Some days he can be a bit nonchalant and “Oh it’s you again is it?” but, I actually like the variance and his funny personality; I know extra affection is around the corner when he’s being slightly cool. There’s variance in the work too; most days he is barely any work at all, but the other day he got scared by a firework, ran off and hid under a van for a few hours on spite of pleading and treats, which was very much not fun. This comes after a discussion with my sister yesterday about her dogs have no variance at all. They are always A Lot. They behave like she controls their access to oxygen and pirouette in excitement when they see her. They need a ton of walking and cleaning up after and hovering over. She has to stay up much later than she’d like in order to let them out to pee unless she wants to wake up to clean up stuff. She’d had fond dreams of going camping with them a lot but they’re so territorial they bark at anyone coming nearby on a shared camp site, so that hasn’t worked out the way she wanted. They are very affectionate and adorable, and she loves them loads but I doubt she’d get two dogs of this breed again, not without a good long rest first.

      3. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        My current dog brings me parts of flowers from my garden when we are outside, and her toys when we are inside. My previous dog brought me a baby duck, completely unharmed. I have no idea where he found it because we lived in town! He was so proud of himself.

        The cat only leaves us hairballs. :(

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I have to say that you’re right in that absolutely any dog will take time, money, and make messes. If you’re done with that, you’re done with that. Smaller dog are not necessarily going to be easier.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah – if you go from a saint bernard to a poodle, would there be less slobber, less hair? Yes, presumably. Your wood floors might be less scratched. But my Saint mix wasn’t “chewy” and a small dog that doesn’t shed might still gnaw on your baseboards or chomp the legs out of your furniture. Small dogs could be easier because you can just pick them up if they’re giving you trouble, but you may end up disliking a piercing bark or sharp nips just as much as other traits. And all dogs are really expensive. Not horse-expensive, but in general way more than cats.

    5. numptea*

      This is a thing with cats, too. Our first was a precious darling who could do no wrong, and none of the rest have ever come close. We love them all in different ways, of course, but her personality was just perfectly meshed with ours. She always wanted to be in the middle of things, which was great for my outgoing husband, but she also loved to be held while she slept, which was great for my quiet introversion.

      I do rescue/fostering, and we all kinda talk out of the sides of our mouths about it. I wonder if it’s like parents loudly insisting they love all their kids equally?

      1. Sloanicota*

        This makes me worry I might have just had my “heart cat” as the only cat I’ve had (she is somewhere around 18) and have been attributing all good cat things to just this one cat. But, I have also enjoyed other people’s cats. I think there’s an essential cat / dog nature but many individual variations on those spectrums.

      2. Willow’s mom*

        I can relate to this so much. We lost my sweet cat Willow 7 years ago to pancreatic cancer – it was sudden and unexpected, she was only 6 years old, and we found out a few days before we had to euthanize her because she stopped eating. Losing her almost broke me. I have never loved another animal like I did her, and she will always be my sweet princess.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Personalities mesh or don’t, both for humans and animals! And our needs and abilities change throughout our lives. Our little Harvey cat passed last year, but his brother Peanut is still going strong. We considered getting another cat (we’d had the two of them for fourteen years,) but it wouldn’t have been the same, and the stress of introducing a new cat to our older one who had only ever lived with his brother was just too much.

    6. Maggie*

      Well I have a small(19 pound) dog that doesn’t shed, so with a different dog it can be completely different. Nothing from my car to my house is “dog” because he doesn’t shed and he isn’t dirty (I spray down his paws when he comes inside). He also doesn’t roll in the dirt or anything etc. So the logistics are different and he isn’t messy. It would probably be a lot different if you had a small and/or non shedding dog. People are much more willing to babysit a small easy dog than a big messy one. That being said, don’t get another one if you don’t want, totally under stable!

      1. Magda*

        If I can ask: do you still find him expensive, particularly medical stuff, and are his medical issues stressful for you? Is he very routine oriented (wants walks at the same time every day, no weekends, struggles with departures from normal schedule) – is he pushy or demanding? Do you miss travel? I think this is the heart of my dilemma … do I just not have the right attitude for a dog, even though I do love them / love mine very much?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Those are completely legit concerns! Responsible pet ownership is expensive and requires devotion, even with easy, happy pets. The food, the vet visits, the trying to arrange boarding if you have to be away–those require time, effort, thought and money.

        2. JSPA*

          Most pets–heck, most organisms, really–like routine when it comes to sleeping, eating and exercise. There will be more differences in terms of the other stuff (meeting people, cars / travel, attitude towards other animals).

          People who wish they had more routine often find a pet helpful in instilling an unbreakable routine. If you’re craving flexibility more than routine, then pets may not mesh well with your life (unless you think you’d mesh well with a dog that’s small enough to travel under a plane seat, and is small enough to get real exercise just running circles in the hall, and you are willing to foster until you find one that really enjoys travel and novelty.)

          Vet bills are highly dependent on your country, I think. Anywhere in the USA seems to run 4 to 12 times the price of the same services in other places I’ve lived. Not to bash the USA! But in areas where human healthcare is cheaper, some of that seems to filter down to the materials that are used for animal health care, too. (Except for name-brand tick treatment or diffusers imported from the US–those are about equally pricey overseas.)

    7. SBT*

      This concept of heart dog hits me sometimes. I have just the absolute best dog – she’s 2.5. She does have allergies which can be an expense and is nervous around kids, but she never barks, she’s the sweetest thing, is a little quirky, loves people, walks off leash, listens incredibly well, overly cute (she’s on marketing materials for her vet…so this is verified by others), and when I think about her one day passing (I know – a long way off), I always worry I’ll never find another one as good as her.

    8. ronda*

      my aunt was raising puppies for a seeing eye organization. She would keep a puppy til about 1 year old with some training requirement to make them familiar with the world and possible seeing eye dog situations (like a trip to the local airport to get on an airplane).

      At 1 year they go to seeing eye dog training and if they fail the puppy raiser has 1st choice of getting the dog back. of about 7 dogs, there is one she said she would have wanted back cause she got on really well with that dog. It was the only one that made it as a seeing eye dog. Some dogs are really easy to get along with….. some are fine dogs, but dont adapt well to every situation. (most of her dogs ended up in law enforcement as scent dogs)

    9. Vanessa*

      I will weigh in on the expense. I’ve had two dogs as an adult. One was adorable, hilarious, so naughty (but in a very clever breed specific way), and an absolute money pit. Every year it was some major medical expense. It was during grad school and early career so I as broke anyway. But I sure loved that dog.
      Current dog is the opposite, as far as expense. Aside from a run in with a raccoon, he has required almost no specialty care or extra expense. He is wonderful and truly the best dog I will ever have. I’m not worthy of his wonderful ness.
      Also I just want to drop a funny line that makes me literally lol.
      “Did you adopt?”
      “No it’s my biological dog.”

    10. carcinization*

      After his puppydom (in which he had some Houdini type tendencies in addition to the more normal chewing problems), my dog was pretty perfect… healthy, didn’t make messes, was affectionate but not too needy, was handsome/striking, got along well with other animals/children, etc. He turned 15 in March, passed away at the beginning of August and… we’re probably never getting another dog. Even a ridiculously good/easy dog was a lot for us sometimes, one example would be trying to work out what to do if we wanted to spend an afternoon doing fun stuff without him during the 100+ degree summer… would he be okay in the shade in the backyard with a full water dish, or would it be better to leave him inside for 4 or more hours with no potty access, etc. But I’ll miss him forever!

    11. Cat and dog fosterer*

      In many cases I’ve found that ‘heart pet’ is a mix of the right personality as well as circumstances. Many people will eventually mention a really hard time that the pet got them through, and that’s likely why they feel so strongly about that particular pet.

  25. 2023 Got Better*

    I’m not a big fan of Britney Spears music – I’m far past her target demographic when she was still performing – but I’ve followed her post conservatorship life. That woman went through a lot. I think very little of her parents, and her father is just unspeakable. The only thing I wish she’d restrain herself on is being public about her sons. She will regret that some day.

    It’s astonishing how easily that man was able to get and keep complete control. It’s so medieval. But then, the country has made great strides in regaining control of women in general.

    Long story short, my father was briefly in control of my oldest sister. Had her committed for a few days. She made him angry, he retaliated. So I’ve seen how it can happen.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I was never a fan of her music, and “Criminal” coming on the car radio caused me to deliver thoughtful lectures to my children which they found embarrassing.

      However, learning that her father had legal control of adult her and could say “She’s too irresponsible to have access to her money, so I get it… but I can instruct her to jump through a ring of fire for our stage show, no danger needing adult competency there”: Oof.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, it should have taken only a few seconds to realize that if someone is apparently too mentally ill to manage their own lives, they shouldn’t be capable of … working for years to enrich other people??

    2. Anon. Scientist*

      I had a friend who was totally functional if not “normal” – he had lots of different interests and made a very short career at each of them (welder, lawyer -passed the bar in 2 states!) but the primary way he made money and paid for law school was via poker. He got into a temporary snafu with the law through no real fault of his own (mistaken identity plus his insistence on his rights that the PD didn’t appreciate) and was somehow remanded to the custody of his parents, who had him institutionalized! He had a bananas “one flew over the cuckoo nest” experience where his attempts to get out were all characterized as defiant and not sane, and finally escaped after a couple of months. This was relatively recent! He was an adult! He’s mostly neuratypical except for his dogged insistence that he’s correct when he knows he is, rather than just being compliant with an authority who’s wrong.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Britney is a good reminder to me that I don’t need to like someone or think they’re a perfect victim to believe that people should have the right to make their own decisions. She will make many bad ones. She will probably hurt people and herself in various ways, as do many of us as we go through life. I will continue to find her annoying and wish she would go away, but I fully support her right to agency – she doesn’t deserve to be held some special standard of perfection because of her mental health – most celebrities and famous people are annoying and their behavior is concerning, but that’s their choice.

    4. Generic Name*

      Yes, what happened to her is despicable. It’s chilling how easy it is to use the court system to silence and control women. My ex of many years has been filing and filing and filing motions in family court. He’s put in writing his goal is to destroy me financially. He also just wants to control me. I’ve managed to defy the odds in that I have gotten more custody of my son rather than less, which is what usually happens when a man files against a woman (the website custodypeace presents statistics that backs this up). The reasons why I’ve been successful is because I have the financial recourses (the ability to get loans) to keep paying my lawyer, and because I show as the “perfect victim”. I hate using that term, but as Britney Spears noted in her book, her less than ideal behavior as a young adult meant it was easy for her dad to present her as incompetent. People keep saying that the system is broken. They’re wrong. The system is functioning perfectly and as intended.

    5. AGD*

      Yes, this. I never liked her music, and have always found her kind of annoying, but I’m horrified by what she went through. I remember thinking her mother was a manipulative piece of work ages ago, but I didn’t realize how much worse her father was.

    6. WellRed*

      No fan either but when the truth about the conservatotship came out I was appalled. She wasn’t allowed to have her IUD removed???!!! Why are women not allowed medical privacy?? We’re dammed if we do or don’t.

    7. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I read her book in one sitting, it’s a hell of a read. Admittedly I’m a huge fan, and knew many of the conservatorship details, but I hope more people read it and understand not only what she went through but also the wider legal issues and how they can be manipulated for abuse.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Yeah, I’m not a fan of her music, but seriously considering reading her book. She doesn’t deserve all that mistreatment.

        The flip side is Taylor Swift, I’m not a fan of her music either, but respect how she treats get fans and stands up for things that are important. She seems like a total badass as a person.

  26. Lcsa99*

    I need emergency costume help! My costume is supposed to be a queen, so I figured I would get a Renaissance dress and add the hoop skirt I already have and a crown and that would work fine. problem is that I am just now trying the hoop and it looks a little weird. Will that just not work with this dress? Do I need to add a petticoat or something?? I can’t really sew much more than just hemming so, any suggestions? I will post before and after pictures in a response.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Well that hoop is definitely too big for your skirt.
        And also possibly the wrong shape?

        Depending of the cut of your dress, panniers might work better.
        Or just underskirts. Which don’t have to be actual underskirts but can simply be other swooshy skirts you own and wear underneath eachother and underneath your costume. It has the added effect of keeping you warm, which may or may not be what you’d like ;)
        Or you could try something more like padding, which you add to your body rather than the skirt, to make the skirt look more poofy than it actually is.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oh yeah, my number 2 is DEFINITELY the problem. There is not nearly enough fabric in the dress to go over the hoop without stretching and distorting and looking awful. You’d need probably 1.5 to 2 time more width of fabric in the skirt for it to look ok (if you are ever shopping for a different dress to wear over that hoop) and you’d need a large, ruffly petticoat to smooth over the hoop lines.

        I’m not wild about it with nothing underneath either. Looks kinda flat. Which is just what happens with cheap costume fabric. Hopefully the petticoat will help, but I’d think two would be better. If you have one of those boho tiered maxi skirts that would be perfect. Or any long skirt that doesn’t add too much bulk at the waist. Skirt as petticoat is totally legit!

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I can’t see any pictures yet so I can’t tell what’s wrong, but here are some guesses and the fixes.

      Problem: the hoops of the hoop skirt are showing through the dress. Fix: you need a petticoat or something like it overt the hoop to smooth out the lines. Victorian women usually wore one; don’t know about Renaissance women.

      Problem: the hoop is too big for the dress. The dress needs to be able to lay loosely over the hoop. Fix: smaller hoop or some other source of volume like a fluffy petticoat.

      Problem: the dress isn’t cut for a hoop. Either the waist is wrong or maybe the skirt doesn’t have enough flare. Fix: you can’t wear a hoop. Maybe a light petticoat for a tiny bit more volume.

      I’ll try to give more accurate advice after the pictures come through.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Hopefully the pics will get out of moderation soon, but this is very helpful! It sounds like regardless of the problem, a petticoat should help so I will get and hopefully it will get here in time!

    2. Not A Manager*

      Silly question, but why not just the dress and the crown? Add some “jewels.” Do you have to have a wide skirt?

      1. Lcsa99*

        In my head it feels more like something a queen would wear if it has the big skirt. Big dress to match a big personality? I don’t know. I can (and will) go without if I can’t fix this issue but would like it to be bigger if it looks good.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Could you try panniers instead of a hoop? They’d go on each side of your hips, making the skirt wider side-to-side but not front-to-back. You might be able to cobble something together quickly with partly-stuffed pillowcases tied ’round your waist, enough to see if that provides the look you want; then make them a bit more robust for the actual event.

      1. Loreli*

        Panniers will look funny. You need a big petticoat. One with tiers and gathers (but no hoop) will add width to the skirt.

        In fact for most long skirts/dresses that flare out, a petticoat always improves the look. Otherwise the skirt clings to your legs and rear end in often unflattering ways.

    4. Llellayena*

      Renaissance dresses weren’t generally designed for hoop skirts. Not the right style for the time period. They got their bulk mostly from layers (all those cold stone castles). Do you have a couple other skirts with a lot of fabric you can layer underneath? If you can hem then you’ve got the skills to make underskirts, the only “new” sewing would be threading the elastic through the waistband. McCalls patterns would have some basic skirts if you need a guide.

      Also, the headpiece is really the royalty look for renaissance. It wasn’t usually a crown (or not just a crown) but a fancy hat or padded headband with veil.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I am not remotely going for accuracy. I am not even trying to do generic “Renaissance Queen”. She’s actually a song title – Killer Queen. So I just wat to look like a queen and will be splatter in “blood” and carrying a bloody dagger.

          1. Lcsa99*

            Sort of have that too! It’s more Snow White Evil queen than Elizabethan, but definitely have the high collar.

      2. curly sue*

        It depends where you are – Italian renaissance, definitely no hoop skirts. But the farthingale (the OG hoop skirt) showed up in the late 15th century in Spain as the verdugaga / verdugada, and was absolutely vital for the mid-16th century northern renaissance Tudor Queen look.

    5. Firebird*

      To make a quick petticoat you can use a tablecloth and a belt or cord.
      Lay out the cord on the floor and lay the fabric over it. I lay on top to figure out the appropriate place to put the belt so the finished skirt will be the length you want. Gather the fabric to fit the belt and lay down to buckle the belt around your waist. When you stand up the extra fabric will fall into place and you will have the equivalent of two petticoats. Fluff it up and adjust the gathers. Use a few safety pins just under the belt to make sure it stays put when you move around.

    6. Lcsa99*

      Thanks, everyone! this definitely helps. I’ve ordered two different petticoats and a tablecloth and between all that I think I can get this to look perfect!

  27. A whole new world*

    What are some unwritten social rules of parenting a small child, that you’ve learned the hard way or only because someone told you?

    This question brought to you by: is it a thing to give daycare staff gifts/tips, do you let your child crawl on a picnic blanket belonging to someone you just met, and do you give a gift to a very small child if you barely know the family and the invite doesn’t specify. Since social rules are context-specific, please share your general location and other relevant factors as applicable!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Part the first:
      The best non-obvious advice I got for parenting, applying to toddlers on up, is not to say ‘no’ when you mean ‘maybe.’ Because sometimes with a few minutes to think you realize you don’t actually care about the thing, but now you are establishing “Whining doesn’t work” and going to the mat when you actually don’t care if they have a cookie before dinner. Save your energy for enforcing stuff you do care about.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes. No need to micromanage children about stuff that just doesn’t matter.

        My daughter used to pick out the most bizarre clothing combinations for preschool. Did I care? Well, was she actually covered (not naked)? If so, don’t care. Did she want all of her foods kept separate (god forbid the green beans touch the rice)? Sure – why should I care? Did she want to run around naked at home? Why not?

        If you say “no” about everything, even a toddler can see that you’re unreasonable, and why should they respect unreasonable parents? How many people on this blog have lost respect for their micromanaging bosses? If your “no” is relatively uncommon, it will actually carry force.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Part the second: New England, moderately wealthy suburb with great schools.

      I am opposed to the endless expansion of tipping culture. (Like, I don’t get food delivered because the stuff around tipping is so fraught.) But if I learned it was the norm in my social context to tip the daycare teacher, I would do so. (And I learned with things like organizing a thank you gift for the age six soccer coach, it really helped to specify a specific amount. “Whatever you think best” is stressful for parents trying to guess if that’s secretly $10 or $100, while “We suggest $10” means people felt fine giving $10 or going up to $20.)

      I would let my child crawl on a picnic blanket.

      If invited to a birthday party for a small child I would bring a gift, probably a board book. If invited to a playdate I would not bring a gift.

      I really liked Robert Sapolsky’s book Behave, and think of it often for behavior and context questions. Like when people are trying to argue that if X is the correct action in this specific context then it MUST be the correct action in all contexts, because logic, and that is not true.

      For example, “parent stays for playdate” was normal for ages 2-4, and “parent drops off kid for playdate” was normal for ages 5 up, and that I picked up from what other parents were doing. It was weird for people to break this norm in either direction.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Eastern PA (not Philly): Yes on gifts for daycare staff, no on tips. I gave the staff gifts (usually gift cards) at Chanukah and at the end of the school year. We tipped camp counselors who were usually teenagers with summer jobs, not full-time working (albeit woefully underpaid) professionals.

      Picnic blanket: it all depends on everything. I don’t care if my kid crawls on someone else’s blanket so I would check with them and make sure I was vigilant so the kid didn’t grab/chew on/drool on something that belongs to them.

      Learned the hard way: every community has its own unwritten rules about how old kids are when it’s OK to do a drop-off playdate (as opposed to one parent staying). My kid played with her preschool bestie pretty much every weekend and it took me a year to muster up the wherewithal to tell her mom it was OK if she dropped Bestie off. In fact I strongly preferred it – they were four, perfectly capable of entertaining themselves, and I desperately needed that time to get a few loads of laundry done or just stare into space for a little while. Turns out in her church community, it was considered rude to drop kids off no matter what the age and she was also hugely relieved to get a few hours on her own. Playdates were almost always at our house because Bestie’s dad smoked and had a gun.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I would also watch out for tips because technically, they are income, and can cause tax issues. It probably wouldn’t matter with a few dollars, but if every parent tips at once at say, Christmas, at a small daycare, it is going to be noted.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      As a person without children, don’t let your child crawl on a picnic blanket of someone you just met. Don’t hand your kids to someone to hold without asking, and don’t take offense if they decline. Ask people if it’s ok to bring your child with you when visiting, especially for the first time, unless they already told you it’s fine.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I have realized that I am unclear on the picnic blanket example: No if this is the blanket of some stranger, and in general you should keep your careening small child out of other people’s space. (The great thing about the free-play areas at the science and children’s museums was that everyone inside that space was on the alert for crawling and toddling people at knee level. Out in the greater world, they’re a tripping hazard.)

      But if I had been introduced to someone who was sitting on a picnic blanket and we stopped to chat, I would think it normal to let my baby crawl there unless there were baby hazards on the blanket, like small round choking hazards. I guess maybe further filtered by whether “babies urp on things” was a given (fellow parent, washable blanket) or a hideous complication (not a parent, fancier blanket).

    6. Clisby*

      I’m in the US South. I never heard of giving tips to daycare/preschool workers, but at the co-op preschool my kids attended in Atlanta, it was very common for parents of kids in a particular class to chip in and give a year-end money gift (like a bonus) to the teacher.

      I am completely unaware of picnic blanket etiquette and have never been anywhere it would have been called into play.

    7. Seashell*

      I’m in the Northeast US in the suburbs. We gave Christmas gifts to daycare staff (money or gift cards), and that seemed to be the norm.

    8. Samwise*

      Tips/gifts: yes, because their pay is crap
      Picnic: ask if it’s ok. Otherwise corral your kid or use your own blanket (babies drool, barf, pee, poo, and grab stuff — I am not a baby hater, I just remember doing the laundry, so much laundry)
      Gift: nah. Not required, and it’s so easy to go wrong.

      Live in a medium sized southern US city, my kid recently graduated from college, middle class, I have many friends neighbors and colleagues with small children. Enjoy volunteering at the local elementary school.

    9. Former Daycare Teacher*

      I was a daycare teacher a few years ago in the Southwest US. I was, like most daycare staff, woefully underpaid–actually at minimum wage–while I was working my way through graduate school. Most parents did not give gifts or tips. A couple gave candy at Christmas. I’ll never forget the one parent who gave me a $20 Kohl’s gift card at Christmas, which allowed me to buy a new pair of pants I really needed. So in my experience gifting or tipping day care staff is not expected, but I would vote for doing it if you can afford it–it’s such a blessing for the grossly underpaid staff who do their best to protect, teach, and care for your child every day.

  28. Dr. Doll*

    For everyone who is charmed by Alison’s pride there – I had a special treat last week. Went to dinner at my friend’s house. She is a veterinarian and she had a basket of week-old kittens. she brought two out for us to see and one of them fell asleep in my hands. Too cute. it had been probably 45 years since I’d seen kittens or puppies that young.

    any baby animal stories to share?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I brought my current oldest dog home at eight weeks old, my Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond was 7 years old and not sure whether she was ready for babies. But the first morning I was sitting at my desk vaguely bleary-eyed at 6am and realized the puppy had flopped herself down out of my lap and I did not have eyes on her. (She was on a leash so this should not have been a problem but it was early :-P ) I gasped, looked under the desk … and found my Elder Statesdog curled up protectively on her pillow with the baby snuggled into her ribs spoon fashion, and I quietly expired of cuteness.

    2. 1LFTW*

      I wound up taking on an emergency foster of a mama cat and her three kittens. It was a ton of work, because they’re adorable little chaos vortexes, but damn, did I learn so much about how cats socialize their kittens.

      Something I already knew: intact male cats can be dangerous to kittens. Not gonna go into details, just gonna say that I was super, SUPER careful about allowing my neutered male cat to interact with mama and babies. I would never have agreed to fostering if I didn’t have reason to hope that he’d be safe to interact with them under supervision. What I was NOT expecting was for him to go full-on Mr Mom: playing with the kittens, grooming them, snuggling with them, and tolerating their attempts to nurse. It was complete cute overload!

      My spayed female was kinda like, “huh, this is mildly interesting, and makes me glad for that surgery I had to prevent this”.

      1. SarahKay*

        Growing up we had assorted cats and at one point were down to a single middle-aged spayed male, Tom. We then aquired two kittens and like you he went full-on Mr Mom, teaching them to wash and letting them ‘nurse’ i.e. suck on his tummy fur. The funny thing was that as he wasn’t an actual mom he had no instinct to make them stop, so even years later we’d find all three of them asleep in a pile, Tom with these sticking out sucked pieces of fur on his tummy.

    3. RLC*

      Decades ago the shop cat at an auto parts shop I regularly visited had a litter of kittens. Once the kittens became mobile the staff got quite creative with ways to control wandering babies and the kittens ended up in vest pockets, in boxes of parts, and handed to willing customers to entertain. Friend and I each adopted a kitten, both grew up to be the best socialized cats ever, from all the handling by so many people. The funniest part of it all was that the little guys were so filthy we had no idea what color kittens we had until we bathed them repeatedly.

  29. Soup Search*

    Sorry for another soup thread, but I didn’t want to hijack the one above.

    I cannot find my favorite childhood store bought soup anymore – Pastene White Bean Soup! (I am italian, can make otherwise great soups, and feel embarassed that I like this store bought one lol)

    I can find the ingredients online: (Cannellini Beans, Water, Tomato Pulp, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onion, Salt, Garlic, Vinegar, Parsley, Chili Pepper, Rosemary) but when I try to make it, it’s never the same. It’s more watery than I remember. I wonder if they mush the beans up a bit? I think I get the salt amount right.

    I also use fresh chopped garlic and wonder if they use garlic powder. And I’ve been buying petite diced tomatos and mashing them up more to be “pulpy” (as I remember the soup did not have distinct tomato chunks visible, but more of a red tint) but wonder if that’s making it more watery?

    I would love a copycat of this recipe if anyone knows one!

    1. Not A Manager*

      I don’t have a copycat, but two easy adjustments would be to omit the diced tomatoes and use about 1 T. tomato paste instead, and if you’re using canned beans, do gently mash them before adding them to the broth. You don’t have to squish them, just bruise them enough that the skin breaks on a few of them. You want some of the starch to leach out, you don’t want them pureed.

    2. Llellayena*

      Instead of diced tomatoes try the whole peeled tomatoes and squish them as you add them (in your hand). The tomato will disintegrate and distribute. Also, near the end if it’s too watery simmer uncovered for a bit to reduce it.

      Is the flavor right and just not the texture? You might try roasting the garlic first and adding the mushy roasted garlic instead of diced bits. It might be a slightly different flavor though.

      1. Christmas Carol*

        According to the genuises at America’s Test Kitchen, canned diced tomatoes are treated with calcium carbonate to firm them up and keep their shape in the can. This is why they don’t get pulpy in the soup. Try using whole/crushed tomatoes.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I find that any kind of tinned tomatoes, while having great flavour potential, needs a lot of cooking down in order to get rid of the liquid. Diced tomatoes are particularly inclined to be liquid, so I usually opt for good quality plum tomatoes (which I crush and then let the heat disintegrate) but even these need a low cooking time for multiple hours without a lid on (three or more for one 400g tin, but it could be five or six depending on the quantity) to evaporate the liquid and thus concentrate the flavour. Smoothly blended tomato purees/passatas are quicker to cook down, and tomato paste/concentrate are the quickest of all and often used to thicken the tinned tomatoes; you could use a combination of stock (more flavourful than and inclined to thicken water) and tomato paste to really control the thickness and quantity of the liquid.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I like canned tomato sauce rather than canned tomatoes for recipes that require a bit more body. You could also try blending a bit of the cooked soup and adding it back to the pot with the whole beans.

    5. M&M Mom*

      I just googled Pastene white bean soup because I wanted to see what was in it and because it sounded good. And on pastene.com, there is a recipe for tomato white bean soup. Maybe this is what you’re looking for?

    6. Jay*

      If the biggest issue is the consistency, try adding unflavored gelatin to the mix. It’s in fact something that a lot of cheaper soups and stews used to do to make them seem “richer” than they actually were. It mimics the effects of making stock with whole bones. I use it myself whenever I use commercially made stocks for my own cooking.
      I think it fell out of favor some time ago as an additive in favor of cheaper, more chemical-ish, additives. You can also make up a potato starch liquid that will work wonders for thickening soups and stews.

    7. Anon in IL*

      Wanted to say that Alessi makes a Tuscan White Bean soup mix (dry). Very tasty. You could add some tomatoes.

  30. Bibliovore*

    Am I too sensitive?
    How do I respond or do I?
    If the conversation comes around to the fact that my husband died over two years ago, sometime the immediate response is “oh was it Covid?” or “was he sick for a long time?” or something like that and I say
    “no, it was a sudden heart attack. Very unexpected.”
    Their response is “oh, a widow maker.”
    I just don’t know what to say- why yes, that’s me the widow. I am sure they are not thinking but I have visceral over reaction. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad but I have actually had people say to me when I say nothing after that, “well thats what they are called.”

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      That is HORRIFYING. You should not have to deal with this. Since it’s actually happened more than once (WTAF is wrong with people?) I might stop telling people what happened. It’s honestly none of their business. “It’s still difficult to talk about. Tell me about what you’ve been up to.”

      I am literally shaking my head. People, man. People.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I’m horrified on your behalf – and I think it would be perfectly fair for you to let them feel as bad as they deserve to. If you (understandably) don’t want to get into a debate with people who’d say such a thing, maybe go with a flat “… Ah.” and then do an obvious change-of-subject. (Alternately, let their awkwardness hang in the air.)

    3. Sloanicota*

      They are behaving very badly. People get awkward and stupid with uncomfortable subjects. You would probably be doing them and yourself a favor to say “it’s not something I like to talk about” or otherwise heading off this conversation with anyone other than a trusted person.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I am also horrified on your behalf; that’s a terrible thing to say.

      I do think that some people, on hearing that a bad thing has happened to you, immediately embark on a series of questions designed to assure themselves that it cannot possibly happen to them. You did a thing and so this bad thing happened but it will never happen to them like that. Those people lack empathy and compassion and you’re allowed to cut short your dealings with them–especially if you are at a point where you do not have the reserves to cope with people who lack empathy and compassion.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is very true. It’s almost subconscious; they hear something bad happened, and they start angling for how they can avoid it themselves which quickly overlaps with why it was maybe your fault all along.

    5. Not A Manager*

      You’re not “making” anyone feel bad. It’s not your job to hide your own (very reasonable) reaction just so they don’t have to experience discomfort.

      I think what you posted here is perfect. “Oh, a widow maker” – “Yes. And I’m the widow.” I would say it very coldly, while making eye contact. If you don’t want to be “harsh,” then don’t say it coldly, say it neutrally.

      And honestly, this is the best way to salvage the relationship. If you “spare” their feelings, you will still remember what they said, and they will still feel defensive and reactive because they know that they were in the wrong. By giving them a chance to apologize, you can reset the conversation.

      Don’t give them a pass if they defensively insist that “that’s what they’re called.” Just keep eye contact and don’t respond. The way you would with a misbehaving child who’s trying to weasel out. They will probably apologize at that point, and if not you can emphatically change the subject.

      I can’t remember if you wound up going to Japan or not?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        This is lovely. We lost my dad to a heart attack and people who only talk about those last moments, or the fact that he’s dead are not really interested in him.

        1. Clisby*

          Fortunately, I didn’t experience people saying those things when my parents died. I’m not sure I could have been civil.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I get that people are awkward about grief but I can’t believe you’ve had more than one person do this! It goes beyond just clueless imo, that’s really awful. React however you want because honestly they should feel uncomfortable about it. “Yep, that’s me” seems pretty solid, or any “um, why would you say that to my face” type of comment. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      You’re not overreacting. Those people are being horribly rude, and you do not owe them the courtesy of not making them feel bad.
      I am sorry for your loss. I’m sure that it must be such a difficult adjustment for you, and I hope you are able to surround yourself with more supportive people.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’m aghast that not only one person, but more than one person, has said this to you! And to the “well, that’s what they are called” people, they could at least have the grace to say, “I’m so sorry, it just came out” or whatever to acknowledge that they said something insensitive. I think you’re responding perfectly well, and if they feel bad, it’s because they said something that’s hurtful to you. They SHOULD feel bad.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      You are definitely not too sensitive; they are being rude and awful and making this about themselves! So much so, I’d be tempted to save people from themselves if this is common, (is it?!) and try to cut them off at the pass and try redirecting to what you actually want to talk about or say. So, for example, I love talking about my dad but the way he died isn’t what I think of, when I think of him. I mentioned him to a health professional who was being really judgy about the fact I have bread with my meal. This was the only thing she could “get” me on, because I don’t smoke, or drink and my meal choices have a heavy love for vegetables. So she asked about family, and when she heard my dad had a heart attack in his sixties she said “Oh that’s no age at all to die!” like I didn’t know that, or care. So when she talked death, I just responded by talking life: “Oh he packed in a lot more than you can possibly know”. I do the same thing when non medical people get maudlin: “He did die really suddenly, and the how of it doesn’t matter; what matters is that I miss him a lot, that I’m lucky enough to I have no regrets about the time we did have, and a ton of really amazing memories. He was such a character, have I ever told you how he…”

    10. Bibliovore*

      Thank you everyone. whew! I actually feel much better that I am not over reacting.
      I know we are not supposed to “journal” here so here is a short update.
      My grief counselor/life concierge is retiring end of November, I have two more sessions with him.
      I’ve written a book about my husband and these grieving years. No agents (that I have approached) want to sign me so I’ve set it aside. I did get nice blurbs from well known critical friends but my background (and Mr. Bibliovore’s lifework) was in trade publishing. These are tough times in the field so I am okay with not pushing it.

      Still in my house to age-in-place. Take two sometimes three hot baths a day in my new bathroom with the soaking tub.
      Working full time and not quite ready to retire.
      The AAM community has been a lifesaver during this time especially in the beginning when I felt I had no where to turn and was overwhelmed.

      Oh and I did go to Japan in July. I even connected with an AAM commentator (by phone- my schedule got away from me)
      The best part of the trip was visiting with people who remembered Mr. Bibliovore and told stories from our visit 5 years ago.

    11. Dancing Otter*

      Remember that well-meaning people can have trouble knowing what to say. And sudden heart attacks are scary because they can happen to anyone, out of nowhere.

      As for the term “widow maker”, I’m sure they’re not trying to make you feel bad. It could be worse: they’re not saying, “At least he didn’t suffer.” (My father died of a heart attack. That remark never, not once, not even a little bit, made anyone feel any better.) Just chalk it up to foot-in-mouth syndrome, and respond accordingly.

      I’m sorry for your loss. What more is there to say?

      1. Not A Manager*

        Yes, but also no. I’ve put my foot in my mouth more times than I can count. It sucks for everyone. But when I have, I’ve also tried to own it and make some kind of amends. And frankly, when I didn’t, I appreciated having it called to my attention so that I could do so. There’s nothing worse than realizing, hours too late, that you said something pretty offensive and you had no opportunity to walk it back.

        “Well meaning” and “not trying to make you feel bad” will only get you so far.

      2. Bibliovore*

        At one time I did make a list of all the stupid things people had said to me right after he died.
        “At least he didn’t suffer.” was a common one.
        “he would want you to be happy.” yikes
        “Everything happens for a reason.”
        “Everything is in God’s plan”
        “I know how you feel. My husband left me.”
        “God doesn’t give more than you can handle”

          1. Clisby*

            Good grief.

            This reminds me of a good friend of my mother – she had something like 9 children, and the youngest died of SIDS. Apparently a number of people thought it would be helpful to point out that she was lucky she had her other children. Well, of course, she was, but as she told my mother, “I wanted that baby, too.”

          2. Rainy*

            I was in my early 30s and in a PhD program when my first husband died. A student in one of the master’s programs in my department started talking to other grad students in the department about how I was too mentally unstable for grad school because I was still sad “and it’s been *months*, she should be over it already”.

        1. Generic Name*

          Omgggg. Whyyy do people feel the need to say empty platitudes? Literally nothing anyone can say will make it better. Simply saying, “I’m sorry for your loss” or an equivalent is plenty.

        2. Firebird*

          At church, when my dad died suddenly, someone told me that her [person] had the same thing but survived and is fine now.

    12. The OG Sleepless*

      I am so terribly sorry. My dad died out of the blue like this, 16 years ago today as a matter of fact. The things people said to me! My boss asked about the widowmaker too (by the way, there is a specific coronary artery that is apparently where a lot of heart attacks happen, called the “widowmaker” colloquially by doctors). I kind of stammered, “I don’t know…we didn’t have an autopsy done…why are you asking me this?” A couple of people asked, without the slightest change in facial expression, “Did he smoke?” (Are you asking if it was his fault? No, and no.) People just have this need to fill the void with words.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I know. Mr. Bibliovore was a power of example of health. Did at least 40 minutes of cardio everyday, had a trainer once a week, ate healthy (I cooked) active in service to the community etc, etc. Calling his doctor was tough. His doctor blurted out that he couldn’t believe it. I just kept saying I know.

        1. Not A Manager*

          “His doctor blurted out that he couldn’t believe it.”

          I find this very touching for some reason.

          1. Bibliovore*

            I know. About 3 months after, an old friend from college invited me to dinner at his home. Also invited were his brother and my sister-in-law. The sister-in-law inquired whether Mr. Bibliovore snored. Some I said. She said oh if only he had a C-pap machine he wouldn’t have died. In the moment I said nothing because it was as if she was saying I could have saved him if I told his doctor that he snored. In retrospect, I realized that it is a common intake question for people our age and if it was a problem, he and his doctor would have dealt with it. Oh, and I never went with him to the doctor except for times of surgical plans.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              So the sister in law wasn’t even his relative? She’s sitting there next to his loved ones retroactively brainstorming ways to prevent his death?!! I always feel like every death has two camps: 1) people mourning the actual death, and 2) people who are scared of the same thing happening to them. For some reason people are especially twitchy about the possibility of a brother of a man who died suddenly going the same way. I cannot hang out with my cousin at all anymore, she is so clearly petrified about her dad, my paternal uncle, having the same sudden death as my dad. She has no topic of conversation beyond the suddenness of my dad’s death, eulogy type speeches calling him a hero, or other ways of referring to him that she wouldn’t have used when he was alive, talking about my uncle’s health and how he doesn’t listen to her… etc. My siblings and I have directly called her out on it, that although he was her uncle we are the ones who are grieving our father, and she only shifts the intensity a teeny tiny bit before relapsing entirely. It’s like she’s on some unbearable loop. Even my 11 year old niece rolls her eyes when she starts up.

    13. JSPA*

      Death makes people awkward, and some percentage will apparently then go into word-association mode when they should be in compassion mode. I’d suggest pre-empting the whole thing.

      –“And your husband?”
      –“My husband died in 2000. It’s not something I can talk about easily.”

      –“What did he die of?”
      –“Excuse me, I need to go wipe my eyes, and when I get back, we can try a different topic.”

      –“But was it covid?”
      –“Excuse me.”

      –“I mean…I lost family to Covid too. My _____ and my ________ and my cousin’s ______.”
      –“That must have been very hard; I can only imagine. How are you coping?”

      (Anyone who needs to know “what” and “how” to be able to commiserate isn’t a great friend, in any case.)

    14. Rainy*

      I’m sorry for your loss, friend. You are not too sensitive–that’s really appalling, but there are a lot of really insensitive people out there, unfortunately.

      That specific sort of comment will stop being made over time, but 2-3 years is still relatively recent and with the proximity to covid there are probably going to continue being questions for a bit yet. If this is something you’re experiencing a lot, you could try changing up the terminology and see if it keeps people from saying that, maybe “sudden cardiac event” or “myocardial infarction” or something like that?

      My first husband died, most proximately of a heart attack, but after a long period of illness and disability after a major stroke, and I do remember people saying weirdly rude and insensitive things for longer than I would have thought could happen. I’m sorry you’re surrounded by people who blurt asinine things before they think, and I hope it stops soon.

  31. Nervous Nellie*

    Ooooh, cats! We need to caption this picture. I’ll kick it off:

    ‘You’re probably wondering why I have called you all together for this meeting….”

  32. numptea*

    What is the weirdest “clean out the fridge” meal your household has eaten?

    Brought to you courtesy of my husband’s breakfast sandwich: English muffin, baked ham lunchmeat, smashed-down feta crumbles, and elderly avocado. Every ingredient was a next-door neighbor of one I’d expect.

      1. numptea*

        It’s not outrageously terrible, but I found it funny that it was so close but not quite. Like lunchmeat instead of bacon (US or Canadian, take your pick), random cheese crumbles falling all over the place instead of proper melted slices, etc.

        1. Have fun*

          I would haved used the meat thing for something else, but feta avocado is a classic combo, perfect with a muffin. With a poached egg it would have been a London hipster cafe classic.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        My husband makes Progresso Chicken Cheese Enchilada soup and adds ramen and kalamata olives to it. He calls it eyeball soup. I can’t even. It really doesn’t taste bad, but if he was looking to keep me from touching his soup, the name was a success.

    1. Sally Ann*

      Had an old friend who said his family made soup every week out of the leftovers in the fridge. His comment “It was usually ok except that time it was my brother’s turn and he put in the leftover jello.”

      1. Hamster pants*

        LOL this reminds me of I think Malcolm in the middle? Their weekly meal was leftover casserole.

    2. Jay*

      I am sitting here eating pancakes with leftover Holiday Fruit (that diced, mixed, candied fruit people use to make fruitcakes. Holiday Fruit is the actual brand name) for a late dinner as we speak.
      It’s so good I’m going to buy more so that I can do this on purpose regularly.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      I had a clean out the freezer dinner over the summer, where we polished off open packages of fish nuggets, dumplings, fries and onion rings (with some salad). It was kind of fun. For dessert I took care of an open container of ice cream.

    4. JSPA*

      I do that combination on purpose?

      Today’s lunch was salsify, sweety-drop (pickled sweet-hot) peppers, anchovies, capers, mustard and greek yoghurt, mashed together and served on flatbread. End-of-the-jar or tub, for all of them. Wasn’t half bad.

  33. SuprisinglyADHD*

    Any advice for a cat that is always hungry? We have a cat just over 1 year old (Misty), and ever since she was spayed, her appetite has been out of control. She’s over 12 pounds now. We have tried restricting access to food, which means also restricting our other, older cat (Cena). He has been used to free-feeding for over 7 years and self-regulates well. Cena wants to snack throughout the day and refuses to eat his full meal in one go. Misty scarf hers and then goes after whatever of his is left.
    The biggest problem is overnight. Cena wants to spread his scoop of nuggets out all night. If he doesn’t have access, he wakes up mom and makes a ruckus. Misty, of course, eats hers and his.
    Cena is losing weight and Misty is gaining it, we can’t force him to eat quickly and he won’t guard his food for later. Has anyone had success in dealing with this?

    1. Sloanicota*

      If Misty is significantly bigger than Cena, it may be possible to set up an area the smaller cat can enter but the bigger one can’t. Otherwise yes a chip feeder is the usual suggestion.

    2. Double A*

      Yes, you will feel silly spending $200 on a cat dish but the microchip feeder will solve this problem and in my opinion is worth every penny.

      1. Kat*

        Totally agree! I spent years feeding cats in seperate rooms etc, finally got the feeders, and it’s so much less stressful for all involved! My cat that inhales his food is eating more slowly now he seems to realise nobody else can get to his food.

    3. numptea*

      We had this problem and we should have just gotten the microchip feeder, but my husband insisted the price was unacceptable. Instead we danced around, feeding them in separate rooms for years, chasing the pig away from his sister’s bowl at night. It was a huge pain in the a** and did not work well. Just buy the expensive feeder and save yourself the grief.

      1. curly sue*

        I don’t know if it makes you feel any better, but they don’t always help. We got one to keep the younger cat out of the elderly cat’s kidney-care food, and discovered much to our chagrin that the older cat was very politely opening the feeder and then stepping aside to allow younger cat to eat first.

        Back in the bathroom she went.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Would a puzzle feeder help? I have one of the ones that’s like a flat bowl with barriers in it. I think it was actually meant for dogs so they can;t gobble their food too quickly. My girls can only get food out if they scoop it out with their paw. With mine, that means they have free access for when they are hungry, but it’s not worth the trouble if they aren’t actually hungry.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        We tried a puzzle feeder to show my husband’s cats down. They refused to eat anything out of it that they had to work for the first night, then the next morning straight up threw it across the room (it had been on top of a bookshelf so they had some height to start from) and almost beaned my husband in the head with it.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Mine have their feeder on the floor on a heavy tray so it doesn’t wander around. Because they have to hook their food out of it, they tend to move it around. But I don’t have any dogs so I can leave the food on the floor.

    5. Juneybug*

      Maybe change her food? It could be that Misty is not getting what she needs and eats more to compensate.

    6. JSPA*

      [sigh] no. Not until the tubby cat got too heavy to jump on the kitchen table. At that point, skinny cat’s food was on the kitchen table.

      We also tried a box with a small hole, but tubby cat got stuck halfway in, and made a huge mess bumping about.

      (None of this works if old cat is the less mobile of the two, or large-framed.)

      I believe some vets will use anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds that also work on compulsive eating. (I suppose there’s no way to know if she’s now just hungry all the time, or if this is some sort of stress response to having had surgery / to feeling different and strange…or if she was alway going to become a gourmand when she hit a year of age).

  34. Helpful*

    How do you deal with frustration with people who never listen to advice— even when they ask for it? I have this in real life as well as online. They have the same problems over and over and refuse help. It gets frustrating and it seems some people can say “oh well, that’s just how they are” while I think, “would you just do what I suggest, darn it!”

    1. Sloanicota*

      Eh, that suggests to me that these people aren’t really ready for advice, no matter what they say. Perhaps they’re getting something out of the current status quo; probably attention. I don’t find it so hard to disengage; I just have to turn that instinct inwards a bit and ask myself why I’m so eager to work on other people’s problems instead of focusing on my own.

      1. fposte*

        Sometimes also people who ask for advice are indulging those of us who can’t resist giving it. It’s a routine, not a processing of information.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I need to think more like this, as it’s a much kinder and more generous way of saying “perhaps they just want your attention” :D

          1. fposte*

            It’s an old Miss Manners suggestion, mainly for family members who can’t quit with the advice. So you ask them their opinion on how you should be cutting the onions, choosing your streaming channels, etc., and sit back and let them have their fun without ever intending to put any of it into practice. I’ve done it a time or two with a ‘splainy relative and they may have done the same to me.

    2. MaryLoo*

      Try asking them if they want advice or if they just want to vent. Or just make short, sympathetic replies with no advice.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Just because people want some of your advice to weigh, doesn’t mean they’re going to act on it and advice should always be given as theoretical and optional. People always have their reasons for their ultimate choices, and while their reasons may be invisible and inexplicable to us, you’ve shown them at least one alternative, so the path they’ve chosen must be the preferable one, even if it’s not the Platonic ideal.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I have a friend like this and I agree it’s annoying, but…I guess they aren’t obliged to act on our advice and sometimes…our advice just wouldn’t be a good idea and they can see that because they are in the situation whereas we can’t.

      I know when I ask for advice (which I don’t do often), I am looking for options to choose from. I’m not looking to be told what to do because honestly, I usually know the situation better than the person I’m asking. I’m just asking “can you think of any other options that I can add to the list of possibilities here in case there is anything obvious I’ve overlooked?”

      One thing I’ve found helpful is to remember that people are the experts on their own lives and that there can often be stuff we don’t know about that means the advice that sounds good to us from the outside may not be viable.

      I’ll admit it doesn’t always work, but it does help.

    5. Ochre*

      I think some people make decisions by just talking them out, even if they wind up doing what they’d originally planned (which might be no change from what they’re currently doing). They just need to verbally outline the problem and enumerate options, the audience (you) are kind of peripheral to that but for obvious reasons you think they’re talking *to* you when they’re really talking *near* you. I do this too but at the same time I know it can get repetitive. Depending on how well you know them you could suggest a change of topic?

      I did cut off one of these “verbal processors” when she just *kept* verbally rehashing a small dilemma and saying “I don’t know what to do, X or Y?” and I had already said I would do X. Finally I said “I already told you what I would do, you need to pick what you’re going to do” and at least she stopped talking about it. It was maybe a little rude of me but it wasn’t someone I was trying to foster a closer relationship with.

    6. miel*

      Taking someone else’s advice – especially when it comes to changing habits – is very hard!

      Gosh, I could totally fix lots of people’s problems if they just did what I advised, but that’s not how the world works. (I’m sure my friends and family feel the same way about me and some of my problems.)

    7. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I suspect that you already know the answer, but I’ll bite. You have to lower your expectations of how these interactions will end up (ie, you can’t make them do the sensible things that you advise) and then put yourself on a no-advice path with these people once you accept that they aren’t really asking for advice.

      I do see the irony of giving you advice (that you asked for!) that you will probably ignore, since my suggestions are pretty predictable.

    8. Lizzie (with the deaf cat )*

      Welcome to the world of Transactional Analysis! (See Eric Berne’s book Games People Play). You are playing a game called Why don’t you-Yes but. First person describes a problem, invites suggestions, rejects them all. Second person tries hard to be thoughtful and helpful, ends up feeling. helpless, frustrated, annoyed. First person has lots of satisfaction by saying No to everything, and by the confirmation that their problem is too complex, serious, and intractable to be fixed.
      The only way for the second person to win this game is by not playing anymore as soon as they realise what is happening.
      There’s lots of examples of “Why don’t you-yes but” on the interwebs, and how to quickly extract yourself from the game if you want to. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

    9. Samwise*

      My job is giving advice to people. Literally.

      I tell them, I can’t tell you what to do, and I can’t make / not make you do anything. I can help you understand the pros and cons of various courses of action. The rest is up to you.

      So my advice to you, is to do what I do and think what I think. Can’t make you do it. But it will relieve a lot of stress if you do.

    10. matcha123*

      I’ve started trying to use something I’ve seen online which is to ask the person if they want me to give them advice or if they want me to listen and be sympathetic.

      I basically do not talk about my troubles with friends because I know that from their point of view, I should easily be able to fix x, y, z because those are easy for them. I know why my personality and personal history make it difficult to do those things, and I’ve explained that to friends before, and since I don’t like rehashing the same stuff over and over, I don’t.

      About friends not taking advice, I notice with one or two friends that they really dislike “copying” others. I’ve given advice, for let’s say, cat massages. I’ll start by explaining how difficult it was for me to find something that worked for me, explain what I did, why I did it, and how long it took for me to get my desired outcome, offer to help them, and they say thanks but they saw this cat massage vid on Insta that actually seems to fit them better.
      Then they disappear for some time and come back with the same issue looking for someone to provide them with a new and original solution that they can call their own.

      So, sometimes it’s really that people are stubborn and don’t want to do what another has done.

    11. Miss Buttons*

      I know some folks who collect advice and opinions and may not act on any of it. I’ve done that myself – sort of a polling of a handful of people asking “what would you have done in this situation”, in order to get a variety of responses. If a person asks for advice they are doing only that – asking for advice. They are not obligated to act on the advice.
      That said, I do find it frustrating when a person will stay stuck in a situation after they have been given repetitive and wise suggestions about how to rectify it or get out of it. Some folks use the victim stance as an attention-getting mechanism. At that point I won’t listen to their complaining any further. If they’re not willing to act on my or others’ suggestions, they don’t get my previously willing ears any more. Change the subject!

    12. Eff Walsingham*

      My husband and I each had an otherwise good friend who would ask for advice and then do nothing. His friend stays mired in a work situation that he claims makes him unhappy, yet keeps replicating it (and complaining about it) wherever he goes. My friend used to do the “polling” thing, of asking everyone in her life for advice on the same question, and not taking any of it. This was not her only attention-seeking behaviour, and I’ve distanced myself accordingly. My husband still hangs out with his buddy, but has become increasingly blunt with him over the years: “I am not having this conversation with you anymore. I’ve given you all my suggestions, and you didn’t like any of them. So it’s a waste of time going over and over it again. Next subject!” It’s like, you’re a good friend, but your problems are boring!

      When someone has been complaining about the same thing for literally years, how can they be surprised to find they’ve worn out their listeners?

  35. MissB*

    My siblings and I moved my mom back into a house a few weeks ago. I’ve mentioned the situation here before, but short recap – one sibling owns the house she’s lived in for two decades. She fell down almost a year ago and was stuck for a week until a friend found her. Dh and I went up there the day after she was hospitalized (covid, pneumonia, etc) and found that the house was a hoarding nightmare. If you’ve watched any episode of Hoarders, it was like that.

    Not quite a year and many tens of thousands later, she’s back in the house. Every single thing about that house has been replaced – floors, walls, kitchen, bathroom, appliances, wiring, plumbing, drain field, etc… It was a massive, expensive effort. The house is in a recreational area so it is now set up such that the second bedroom is for any of us siblings to use, and she’s not allowed to use that room.

    She threw a fit the day before move-in, and didn’t show up until late in the afternoon the day we moved in (and only because I left her a message telling her that her grandchild was in town from across the country and she should come see him). She was thrilled with the house. Absolutely thrilled. One sibling stayed with her all weekend and had long chats and she marveled at every single thing in the house.

    We just got the photos from the housekeeper, and Mom is doing a good job of keeping the clutter out. Maybe she just needed a fresh start?

    If anyone has gone through this, are we just in the honeymoon phase? All of us siblings (and step sibling) are taking turns going up there on the weekends. We have a bunch of clear totes in the garage for stuff that she wants to keep but doesn’t have a home for. Tips?

    1. Sloanicota*

      That sounds like a great outcome so far! Having people be there regularly will definitely help you keep on top of it if it’s less of a mental illness thing and more of a can’t-stay-on-top-of-it thing. I wonder if you can photograph how great everything looks right now to remind her, if it starts to fall down a bit, what it can look like (this is something I do for myself). If it is true hoarding, it would be really great to be in touch with knowledgeable experts now, because mental health stuff does recur and is frustrating and meds help but it’s hard to get them in crisis mode, particularly if the patient is in denial about the issue. Maintenance is key.