weekend open thread – November 11-12, 2023

Throwback: Wallace as a kitten and Sophie as a teenage mom

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: Hello Beautiful, by Ann Napolitano. A boy raised by distant parents grows up to marry one of four daughters from a warm, tight-knit family, but things don’t go smoothly.

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

{ 879 comments… read them below }

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Right?? Went from “this is my baby :3” to “okay yes I know he’s bigger than I am, but he’s still my BABY”

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, the before and after! Reminds me of the charming A. A. Milne poem “Pinkle Purr,” which opens with:

        “Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,
        A little black nothing of feet and fur;
        And by-and-by, when his eyes came through,
        He saw his mother, the big Tattoo.”

        The poem follows Pink as he grows up, and finally closes with:

        “Tattoo is the mother of Pinkle Purr,
        An enormous leopard with coal-black fur.
        A little brown kitten that’s nearly new
        Is now playing games with its big Tattoo….
        And Pink looks lazily down at her:
        ‘Dear little Tat,’ says Pinkle Purr.”

        (The poem’s in “Now We Are Six”, fwiw – also available on Project Gutenberg.)

  1. Cat and dog fosterer*

    Small joys thread: what’s delighted you lately?

    My little joy is mixed for me – TNR (trap, neuter, vaccinate, release) for cats ends this time of year, and at first it’s sad to have to take a break because there’s so much need yet we can’t return shaved cats outside in the winter, but it’s also a small joy to have a forced vacation until spring! I’ll be happy to not have any stinky male cats in my home for a while!! I’ll also foster less stressful cats.

    1. Random Bystander*

      On 10/30, I got my baby girl spayed. She was probably born around the first week of May, sole survivor of her litter. She was pretty sick when I first brought her in back in mid-July (too light to trip the trap but too sick to run from me so I just scooped her up). She just graduated out of her onesie (alternative to the cone of shame). Her name is Pandora, and she’s at least a medium-hair tortie point.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m historically not great at training my dogs to be home alone, but my husband and I both had to go out at the same time today – his car battery died and I had to take him to get a new one. We were out for about 45 minutes, and I was SO PLEASED that I got home and came in and they apparently hadn’t even noticed I was gone. Like, they were more chill when we got home today than they usually are if I’m gone and my husband stays home with them. (Yes, I know it’s a thing we’re working on, but in the meantime, I’m super happy about a small win.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh man, I had my adult rescue for *two years* before I could leave him alone, so it feels GREAT when you can do it and it goes well! I just keep walking up the time now and we’re up to 4-5 hours in a pinch. Good luck!!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          One of the security cameras on our alarm system is pointed at the Dane’s crate (she’s still not trustworthy unsupervised, but my older dog doesn’t get crated) and I kept telling my husband, “check on the dogs!” He’d dutifully pull up the app, I’d hear the chewing noises coming from the speaker as he says “They haven’t moved since the last time you made me look, they’re just chewing on their toys. Oh, Alannah is moving from the couch to the loveseat. And chewing on her toys.”

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Yep! That’s why Abigail was crated – if she hadn’t been, good chance she’d have found something to chew up that wasn’t hers – and Alannah has never been a chewer in all her nine years, is why she doesn’t have to be crated. And Abigail crates very well, she learned it at doggy kindergarten and she sleeps in a crate every night, but for some reason I’m always worried that she’s going to get upset and start shredding her crate pad or pawing at the bars and hurt herself or something.

    3. MissCoco*

      We are hosting a stray kitten for a few days before her new owner comes to pick her up. She’s an absolute sweetheart and it’s been so fun to have a kitten for a week!

    4. Filosofickle*

      I found some new clothes that fit really well and — more importantly — really feel like ME. It’s nice to put something on and feel good in it, and I’ve been struggling with that lately.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Bonus: Recently I posted about wishing I had holiday plans, and today I got an actual invitation to a party! Yay! (Naturally it’s a white elephant party, which is hard one to get right. And I am extremely talented at not getting or keeping things I don’t like.)

    5. Still Monty and Millie's Mom*

      We adopted a new dog a couple weeks ago, whom we named Mobie, and although shelter dogs are a bit of a crapshoot in terms of what you get temperament and training-wise, he is just SUCH a good boy! He’s only a year and a half or so, so it’s a big change in energy from the last few years with our old dogs before they both passed in the past year. But Mobie is a big sweetie, and so respectful!

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Tomorrow’s my birthday, and a local independent cinema’s showing Jason and the Argonauts! It’s a dinner and a movie style place so we can eat/drink while we watch. The last couple years have been horribly stressful around this time, so I’m looking forward to this!

    7. Aerin*

      I discovered that Roku has a channel that runs MST3K around the clock. It makes such excellent background noise because I can just pop in and out at will without worrying that I’ll miss something. If only they’d get a wider variety of commercials…

      1. GoryDetails*

        Uh-oh – you may have just cost me the rest of the day {grin}. (I used to look forward to the MST3K “Turkey Day” marathons, and even taped some, but now it’s a bit of a challenge replaying those old VHS tapes!)

    8. Florence Reese*

      Mine is also related to cats.

      My household adopted three kittens this summer, two sisters and their cousin who were rescued from Hawaii. They are wonderful, and all the humans who live and visit here absolutely adore them. My two older cats, though, are much less keen. One of them is 16 years old and has the demeanor of a boy king, in the sense that he is entitled and screams when he doesn’t get his way. The other one is a deeply traumatized 9 year old who’s terrified of her own shadow. We’ve been introducing the kittens to them very, very, very slowly.

      This week the older two have finally chilled out enough that I could let all five cats roam the house for a few hours while I worked. Multiple times! His Majesty is very hesitantly touching noses and playing with them, and eventually getting worn out and falling asleep on the sofa which is a wild level of trust compared to a few months ago. To my shock, the scaredycat is venturing out from under tables and choosing to investigate one kitten at a time. She then immediately hisses at them but hey, progress.

      It still feels like baby steps, but it’s been four months since we adopted the kittens so this feels HUGE to me.

    9. English Rose*

      I’ve been stressing about what to wear for a black tie event in December. I’ve been trying on dress after dress and feeling horrible in all of them. I was clearing out my closet a couple of days ago and found a dress I’ve never worn because it was too small. I’ve lost a few pounds recently and now it’s a perfect fit and looks great.

    10. Sloanicota*

      My dog has historically been so bad at the vet (I think he would actually bite someone, although he’s perfectly gentle at home) that he has to be fully sedated. I brought him in for his visit this week expecting the worst but – he was fine? The vet was able to do everything without sedation?? I have no idea what changed this time. But I’m very, very grateful and hope we can keep the trend going!!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, that’s awesome! One thing we’ve done with my younger dog, who has some vet anxiety (though not as bad as you describe), is just to bring her in every couple of months or so to the vet’s office, preferably not during a super busy weekend, and she just goes around, the receptionists all pet her and love on her and sneak her treats, and absolutely nothing else happens, they call it a happy visit and is intended to desensitize the pup a bit away from “oh no, every time I go to the vet I get poked and prodded and it sucks and is scary!”

        1. Sloanicota*

          It might have just been a combination of different things, tbh. He always gets pre-visit medication but this time it seemed like the same pills at the same dosage just … worked better. It was a first-thing-in-the-morning appointment (other appointments have also been early but this might have been the earliest, if an hour could possibly make a difference), it was new staff and a different branch (but he’s been a jerk to multiple, multiple nice staff people at multiple different branches before) and this time the vet took him in a back room to start, which I have begged them to do before but sometimes they don’t want to and try to do everything in the room with me there. He seems to get edgier when I’m there, I guess thinking he needs to be “on guard.”

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            First appointment of the day might make a huge difference to doggo’s nose. Plus different building may use different cleaning chemicals and avoid something that triggers a bad memory.

            Definitely give them good feedback because their combination was magic.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Oh, gosh, that all could make a huge difference. I know my girls are MUCH better behaved (for groomers and such) when I’m not there, almost like it stresses them out to try to have to mind both what’s going on with them and also with me – when I take them for grooming, I hand them over and step back out of the room while the groomer takes them back to kennel them, then I come back in to do the paperwork, and it’s way calmer for everyone.

      2. Rainy*

        My beloved old dog (RIP) was an absolute terror at the vet for a few years and then a new vet came into the practice and I liked him (I worked next door, so I knew all the vets and also got a discount) so I scheduled the next appointment with the new vet. Doggo loved him. Nipped him once sort of reflexively when the needle went in for a shot and then immediately looked ashamed of himself, put his head down and snuffled the vet’s sleeve and licked him. Was a perfect angel for the rest of his reasonably long life–and we followed that vet to his new practice even though it was more than a 45 minute drive.

        Sometimes they just click with someone.

    11. Artemesia*

      My son adopted a street cat in LA that presumably had been one of those trap/neuter/vaccinate cats as he had the clipped ear. When our son died last year we took his cats — a very old one he had adopted from the streets 15 or more years ago and then the new one. He is full of personality; can open doors and so requires toddler locks; the two cost a fortune when we travel as the older cat needs frequent feedings of specialized food.

      But think that some of those cats you are catch/releasing may go on to find happy homes. We have two happy cats who started lives as strays.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        That’s so nice of your son!
        We work with known colonies so the cats are well cared for after they return, although a lovely indoor life would be a dream for any of them! There are so many requests that we prioritize ones where the colony carers are actively involved and can help trap.

    12. Elle Woods*

      My new dentist and his staff. Yes, really. They’re friendly, competent, and caring. Best of all? I can make appointments that aren’t 14 months out, which the soonest I could get in with my old dentist!

    13. Firebird*

      Yesterday, I discovered that I still have online access to a newspaper that I canceled a couple of years ago. I have been missing the puzzles recently. Just for the heck of it, I clicked on the icon and my login is still good, even though it says the subscription is inactive.

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      Across the street from my building, a new apartment building is under construction. I was bundled up drinking tea this morning on my balcony watching the construction workers arrive. It’s Saturday, so that means only a small number of them are working today. The Saturday crew usually brings a portable stereo to which I originally thought, oh, no, but it’s usually barely audible at my house, and they are happiest bunch of guys. But this morning, while they were waiting for the foreman, they put on some really great hip hop and started break dancing!!! Several of my neighbors were on their balconies, too – we were treated to an incredible show! When we started to applaud they realized we were watching, and they lined up and BOWED. It was a total happy thrill!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love that! It’s like the “Twist and Shout” scene in “Ferris Bueller” – only for real…

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Yeah, me too! I was not recording it, but maybe a neighbor was? If they do it again next Saturday I will be ready! They deserve a national standing ovation!

    15. BlueMeeple*

      A few things! It’s been a week of ups and downs, but the small joys:

      – Janice Hallett’s new book being just as good as the others. Yay for epistoral novels!

      – We’re going to start playing Ticket To Ride legacy soon!

      – Walking more lately and feeling fitter for it. :)

      – The new Terry’s mint oranges/Christmas sweets are delicious!

    16. Elizabeth West*

      The weather! It’s beautiful and bright, if a bit cool. Sunny and no rain! I’m trapped inside after surgery, but at least it’s not all dark and gloomy. :)

    17. Jay*

      A company the company I work for contracts with treated us all to the new Marvels movie on Thursday. Then we had a short work week. Then, just now, I discovered a YouTube channel running an eight hour Godzilla Day marathon!
      All in all, a pretty fair to middling week.

    18. Sitting Pretty*

      I discovered on my kitchen shelf the butternut squash I bought a few weeks ago at the farmers market (and promptly forgot about). So it got cubed and roasted up for dinner this week. Oh my gracious, it was divine. Squash season is the best!

      1. Just Another Cog*

        Ooooooo, we have a butternut sitting on our counter. The decision to roast it for dinner has been made thanks to you! Yummy!

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

      The new version of my frozen cookie dough says it’s safe to eat raw.

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

          It’s a rectangular light blue pack of Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that was living in the refrigerated dairy section of the supermarket. It has a yellow rectangle on it that says, “Safe to eat raw. Eat or bake.” Inside, there are little individual squares of cookie dough that one can break off to bake or eat. So far I have been eating them to test how safe they are. You know, for science.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We ran into neighbors I haven’t seen in 5 years and I got a full hug from the 15yo I used to carry on my shoulders. She also told her little sister I’m cool.

      I was floating on air.

    21. OtterB*

      My younger daughter, age 29, has intellectual disabilities. She is moving into a 3-bedroom apartment with 2 other young women. Her lease began October 2, but for Reasons, the transition has been slow. Last night she spent the night there for the first time. Everything went fine and she wants to move more of her stuff and begin staying there regularly. She met us downstairs at the time I said we would come by. I am so pleased that this seems likely to go well.

    22. carcinization*

      A local baker is competing on a cable TV show and we went by the shop today to see if the award-winning cinnamon rolls were on sale and they were, so we were able to try one.

    23. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Additional small joy: I made my first applesauce of the fall today and had a bowlful of it with my supper, and it was EXCELLENT. (3 lbs of pink lady and gala apples, a vanilla bean, a bunch of Penzey’s Pie Spice, and a shot of Hot Damn, in a crockpot for about seven or eight hours. Voila.)

    24. Dicey Tillerman*

      My birthday was this week, and for the last couple of years I’ve tried something new–last year I booked an air bnb about two hours north in a town I had never visited, took a rowing lesson in the harbor, and visited all the bookstores in town.

      This year, I booked a session in a cedar wood-fired sauna. The owners have built a mobile sauna in a converted horse trailer, and it moves around to different locations in the southern part of the state. They have private sessions, public sessions, and queer sessions, and so I spent an hour in a tiny space with three new queer friends and lots of steam! 10/10 would sauna again; it was a lovely way to spend my birthday morning.

      1. allathian*

        Wood-fired saunas are lovely! I’m in Finland and we don’t have cedars here, birch is considered the best wood to burn.

        Happy birthday!

    25. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Got my Doc Holliday tattoo fixed finally! It was done last year but looked flat after it healed (was done by another artist) and my usual guy was able to fix it. I’m so happy! I also got the chance to talk to him about a Smaug tattoo to go with my LotR tattoo he did on my other leg. I’m excited about the new project.

    26. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I had a very long walk in the city with a friend yesterday. We checked out a bookshop that is on a boat, and stopped at a tea shop that sells unusual flavours and also takeaway drinks. They made me one with a hazelnut flavoured tea and oat milk – it was the stuff of dreams. I’ll be back there next month to buy Christmas gifts (some of those will be from me to me).

      Oh, and the weather was perfect. Chilly but not freezing. Being on the move for 3 hours and ending up by the river to see the whole illuminated city skyline was delightful.

    27. anonymous for this*

      I have a question, and feel free to kill this if this is off topic. A friend of a friend has….50 cats? A lot of cats. Like, too many. The cats are slowly getting vaccinated and neutered but because they are on a fixed income (the human, not the cats), it’s an incredibly slow process. Two humans, small house.

      Local shelters are full, so that really isn’t an option.

      We have thought of reporting the friend of a friend to animal services, but that will cause An Issue with the friendship. We have thought throwing money at the problem or encouraging them to open themselves as a no-kill shelter, but I don’t think this is sustainable. We’re considering an ultimatum — “here’s enough money to take care of the cats’ medical problems, but you need to release the cats after.” Not sure that will work. We also thought of looking farther away for shelters that would take the cats.

      Looking for options. Any ideas?

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Ugh, I’m sorry that’s really hard. When I’ve done this we looked into TNR programs with shelters and rescues. Focus on the females at first, because they can have 10+ kittens per year so if they aren’t separated from the boys constantly then you’ll need to call authorities very soon because they can’t cope with 300+ cats.

        If they are working on getting them fixed (and not hoarders who refuse help) then spending the money might be the best option. Shelters likely won’t want them because cats in hoarding homes tend to be skittish and not used to people, so if they are fixed and the people can care for them then that might be their best option. I also know that fixed incomes rarely have funds to feed 50 cats, but I don’t think that a shelter will be a better option.

        If you aren’t able to fund the TNRs then calling authorities might be the best option for the cats. As you say, it’s a question of what is best overall and the value of the friendship, and very difficult.

        1. anonymous for this*

          Thanks. Yeah, we realize that there’s some level of personal responsibility and we can only intervene so much, but this is probably not good for the cats or the people. The friend-of-a-friend is “you can’t let the cats suffer, we need to take them in,” so I think it’s less of a hoarder situation and more of a too kindhearted with poor impulse control. I don’t know.

          They have been focused on the males because it is cheaper, and the cats stay in the house. With the space and number of cats involved, I think the ability to separate the males and females is…difficult.

          A lot of this is just getting an outside opinion, a “is this normal?” gut check.

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            Hoarders typically start off as kind-hearted and they slide into hoarding when they get overwhelmed. They have to be overwhelmed with 50 cats, so they are hoarders.

            Boys are also stinky and spray so there is strong incentive for the people to neuter the boys but the focus should be on the females to fix things long-term.

            Definitely not normal although typical for hoarding, sorry.

      2. Frieda*

        Your local humane society may have previous experience with animal hoarders and have some ideas. Even if the shelter is full, they may have some funding for spaying and neutering, or foster homes in the community that have some capacity. Unfortunately it’s probably not feasible to just tell them they have to get rid of the cats, even if you offer to pay for the cats’ care.

  2. sulky-anne*

    Okay, I recognize this is extremely boring of me, but: I am on a quest to find the perfect kitchen sink strainer. I hate dealing with this thing and I’m trying to make the process as non-gross as possible.

    The results of trial and error so far suggest that what I’m looking for is a strainer with a silicone “sieve” part and a metal ring, that will fit nicely around the drain, and where the ring is pretty thin. However, I am open to alternate possibilities if anyone has come across some great strainer technology. I don’t need a strainer that can also act as a stopper. Any suggestions??

    Now I’m going to go recover from thinking about sink straining.

    1. Amanda*

      I use metal mesh ones for the kitchen @ home & in our RV. They’ve worked the best out of all of the other styles.

      Since we don’t have garbage disposals in either sink, this style has worked the best to sit almost flush & catches the majority of food scraps (98%), as well as keeping anything else from possibly going down the drain (silverware, random small lids, etc.).

      I can easily pick them up to dump out the garbage, it’s not any trouble to scrub them up by hand if they get grimy, & they can go in the dishwasher with no issues.

      I tend to buy them at TJ Max/HomeGoods, but they’re similar to: https://www.amazon.com/Pack-Strainer-Stainless-Catcher-Effective/dp/B094YSF219

      We use smaller versions for our bathroom sink with no stopper & our laundry tub.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I have a similar one but it has a small rubber ring on the side to pick it up with. I have 2 of them so one can be in the dishwasher and the other can be in use.

    2. mreasy*

      I like our oxo one because the “basket” is silicon and can be turned inside out to get rid of gross stuff.

    3. CatMom*

      Some cat advice please!

      We have effectively trained our cats to wake us up because they get fed first thing. We have Gilly and Bob siblings. Bob is very polite and will miaow a bit once it reaches feeding time (7am). Gilly will get hungry any time from about 6 and start asking for food.

      Assume for now that an auto feeder isn’t an option (they are on mostly wet food & also Gilly will inhale all food available, so we use microchip feeders to make sure she can’t eat all of Bobs food). Also assume they have free run of the bedroom at night (if not due to house layout we’d have to shut them in a small room downstairs and not willing to do that/overall evenings are less stressful if they’re in the room with us).

      Gilly likes to run across the top of the bed above our heads as part of her morning wake up routine… (this is mostly preferable to her running over us, which is another tactic..). I have longish hair and sleep with it tied up or plaited, so fairly often she will run close enough to my head that she stands on a loose bit and pulls it out. This a) hurts so I wake up and b) no doubt contributes to the messy split ends/short bits of hair on the top of my head!

      Any advice for how to stop her doing this or strategies welcome. Impossible to google because ofc cats pulling their own hair out is a much more common problem…

    4. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      I went thru the same thing with my new sink and I finally found the solution a couple of weeks ago. The “kitchen sink shroom” it’s all stainless steel and I use it to catch stuff since I don’t have a garbage disposal. It has an extra wide ring on top that stops the bits from going down the drain around the edges. It catches a lot of stuff. I’ve never closed the stopper, so I don’t know how that part works. It was my small joy the week I bought it and even now. Good Luck!

    5. fposte*

      This is blowing my mind. I don’t ever use the stopper element of my strainer and in fact get annoyed when sometimes it closes on me unexpectedly. And it genuinely never occurred to me that there were single function strainers. Off to shop and swap out!

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      On the contrary, not boring at all! I will admit to having experimented with at least 3 (4?) types to find the perfect Cinderella slipper of a stopper. I found a stainless steel wire mesh one with a rubber rim at Daiso, the Japanese dollar store – it won by far. I use one in the bathtub (inverted, like a little top hat) as a hair strainer, and one in the kitchen sink flipped the other way to nestle into the drain and trap stray bits. And each one was $1.75. Not bad.

  3. JulieA*

    Our son and daughter-in-law (newly weds!) will be spending January-beginning of June in San Luis Obispo, CA. My sister lives in San Diego and we’re trying to plan a trip to visit everyone. I have frequent flyer miles with JetBlue that would be nice to use, but my options seem to be LA or San Jose. Does anyone fly JetBlue and have a recommendation? For background, we spent many hours in LAX this past summer-once in the Delta area terminal and the other in the American area terminal and the experience was night and day.

    1. Aerin*

      I flew through San Jose last year and I don’t remember one single thing about it, good or bad. But I will tell you that it’s 3 hours from SLO and 8 hours from San Diego, whereas LAX is about halfway between SLO and San Diego. (For East Coast perspective, San Jose-San Diego is about equivalent to Norfolk, VA-Savannah, GA.) If you hate LAX enough to want to avoid it that badly (honestly, valid), just factor in your travel time, or see if your sister can come up to meet you.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      The drive down through Big Sur from San Jose is amazingly beautiful, but very windy and slow. I would definitely take a whole day to do and enjoy that drive, but I love road trips and rocky coastline. If that’s not your thing, LAX is at least between San Diego and SLO.

        1. David*

          Some of the coastal highways around Big Sur are closed due to severe damage from last winter’s storms though – or at least, they were as of a couple months ago (last time I drove down to San Diego from near San Jose), and my guess is that hasn’t changed by now. So I wouldn’t count on being able to make the trip down the coast from San Jose. You can still get from there to San Luis Obispo (or vice versa) by driving, but it takes you along inland highways that are not nearly as pretty.

          For what it’s worth, I personally think SJC is a much nicer airport than LAX, mostly because it’s smaller, so you have less waiting to do, it’s easier to navigate, and so on. That being said, I would not say it’s enough nicer to justify driving between it and San Diego if the alternative is driving between LAX and San Diego instead. Unless you want to artificially extend your trip with an extra day-ish of driving, that is. (Like other commenters said, San Jose to San Diego or back is a full day trip, minimum 7-ish hours of driving if you take I-5, but more likely 9-10 hours accounting for stops and traffic.)

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      Consider taking Amtrak. The portion between San Luis Obispo and San Diego follows the coast, and it’s worth seeking out as a pure sight-seeing experience even if you’re not going anywhere in particular. (The portion between San Jose and San Luis Obispo is notably more utilitarian, but it does exist.)

    4. Indolent Libertine*

      Jet Blue also flies to Long Beach, which is a much nicer and smaller airport than LAX. It’s a fair piece from SLO, but not too far from San Diego.

    5. Atheist Nun*

      For the Los Angeles area: In addition to Long Beach (as another person mentioned), JetBlue has service to/from Burbank and Ontario. I have never been to the Ontario airport, but I frequently use the Burbank airport. I like it a lot because it is small and feels much less stressful to me than LAX. JetBlue operates one gate at Burbank. I use JFK airport in NYC (JetBlue’s hub), and they operate several flights per day between BUR and JFK.

      For San Jose: I have used the SJC airport only once, for a JetBlue flight this summer, and it was not great. They operate one gate (as with BUR), but they have only one flight per day to JFK. That was frustrating because when my red eye flight was canceled, they did not offer another flight until the next morning. I was not inconvenienced because I stayed with relatives; other passengers had to scramble to find and pay for overnight accommodation. I am planning another JetBlue flight to the Bay Area for Christmas, and there are no flights to SJC from JFK–I guess the route is seasonal? Instead I will fly into SFO which is a hassle.

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

      Bearing in mind the commenter above’s “the highway may still be closed” comment, if any parts are open, you might want to try to drive them — the Big Sur scenery is lovely, and with coastal erosion, Highway 1 won’t be there forever, unfortunately. (Don’t drive on closed parts, though!) I also like the suggestion of the railway journey (though the one time I booked on that train from Oakland to LA, the darned thing was 12 hours late and I had to fly instead).

      When you’re down in San Luis Obispo, maybe drive up to Hearst Castle and take some of the tours there (they have a bunch of different ones)? And in SLO, stop by the Madonna Inn for a meal if you’re eating indoors. It’s over the top, but in a good way. There’s also a nice old movie theater downtown.

    7. California living*

      I live in SLO and can confirm that highway one has impassable sections through Big Sur. San José is nowhere near SLO however. If you want to do San Diego and SLO don’t go through San José. Your best bet is flying to LAX and driving tk San Diego. Then catch the direct Alaska airlines flight from San Diego to SLO. Otherwise it is a 7 hour drive.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I’m always going to think it’s so charming that when the call went out, people had been *keeping literal lists* of ones they wanted updates on, and dropped them into the chat immediately :D What a team of lovely oddballs.

      1. Juneybug*

        We should get t-shirts that say “AAM Fans are a Team of Lovely Oddballs.
        Just need someone to create them and send us the link! :)

  4. Girasol*

    Stray cat: Still working on the problem of a cat bothering my bird feeder. It is a tiny, very shy, white cat. A neighbor asked me to take it in because she thought it was starving. I figured it belonged to someone because lots of people here let cats roam, but it’s so small and skittish and still wandering despite the cold. I have lured it to the front porch with tuna (not good for cats but it’s what I have on hand) and have set a box with rags on an insulation mat beside the bowl. It has no collar and is too shy to touch much less take for a chip check. I’ve advertised its photo on a neighborhood chat and gotten no response. Shelters are full. So cat people: if it can be lured inside, what should I buy to house a cat that might not be staying? Food, litter, litterbox, and…? Beyond a chip check (if I can get it in and calmed down) how should I look for a real owner? I’d consider keeping it but I don’t want to steal some kid’s pet.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Do you have any neighborhood social media groups? Or you could put up flyers. It is unlikely to have roamed very far, though it’s possible.

      You’ll need a water bowl, of course. Some dry food might be more enticing than wet, if you have to leave it sit for a long time.

      Catnip and calming spray would be good, as well as a box on its side like a cave, with a towel partly over the entrance so it’s good for hiding.

      1. Girasol*

        I’ve put it on neighborhood chat, and all I got back was, “Pretty cat.” Calming spray, great idea! I’ll put feliway on the list.

        1. don'tbeadork*

          You might want to consider using plug-ins rather than spray.

          A “cave”. Whether it’s a box with a hole in one side or one of those smallish round towers, the cat’s going to want somewhere to hide. Put it in an out of the way corner of a room you use a fair amount, but make sure there is an unobstructed path to escape. Try to choose a room that’s not too noisy (so not the TV room if you watch a lot of stuff with the volume up, and not your sewing room if you’re going to be making a wedding gown).

          If it’s a youngish cat, consider a toy. Even if you don’t keep it, having something like a kicker toy or a light ball to bat around will help it settle and burn off energy.

    2. JSPA*

      depending on why (in terms of genetics) it’s white, it may also be deaf.

      Blue (“non-siamese-blue”) eyes + white takes that from possible to likely.

      Factor that into trapping and acclimation (how it spooks) and how loud it will be, if & when it’s comfortable enough to mew.

      Also factor in (if geographically applicable) that it may not have ever had a rabies shot, of course… and consider asking around if there are trained people to guide you through the process, or do the whole thing.

      If it’s a feral cat, rather than an abandoned human-habituated cat, it may not ever be domesticated (nor use a litterbox).

    3. Sloanicota*

      While it is certainly possible the cat was chipped and you’ll find an owner, I’d also pretty much expect that the cat is stray / was born in the wild (as the vast majority of domestic cats are!). Without a chip, if you’ve put up signs and posted to some FB groups I’d consider that about all you can do, so you have a cat now! It can be challenging to keep a feral indoors if they’re not at all accustomed to it. Do you have a catio, or can you make one? I’d add that, with almost all of my foster kitties, if they’re coming off the street they have contagious diseases, so for biosecurity I tend to keep them in a place that can be easily decontaminated, away from other pets, and wash my hands after dealing with them.

      1. RagingADHD*

        And fleas, of course. Even if it’s a pet, it will have picked up fleas outside unless it still has a systemic treatment working.

        If you can find a local TNR group or a vet that does spay/ neuter for strays, that’s your best bet. They’ll do a 24 hour flea treatment, check for chips, fix the cat if need be, and do basic vaccines all in one go.

        A nonprofit program might be $50 for the whole thing. Retail, it’s more like $300.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Yes, fleas. Sigh. Even if your cats never go outside, it’s possible to bring them in on your own clothing. Ask how I know.

    4. Artemesia*

      you don’t NEED anything but a litter box, litter and food. I prefer the crystal litter but it is expensive and the clumping clay litter is fine. You can feed the cat in a bowl you have; you can make toys out of household items; a bed can be an amazon box with a towel in it. You don’t need to start laying in cat items until you decide to keep the cat.

      1. Generic Name*

        Until. That’s the key word. ;)

        (And congrats! The Universal Cat Distribution System has chosen you as its next recipient!)

    5. Anon-E-Mouse*

      Please don’t use rags for warmth. They get cold and can freeze and will make the cat colder in cold temperatures. The safest insulation is straw. If you’re interested in creating a safe outpost shelter for the cat, because it might take time to persuade kitty to become an indoor kitty, Google Alley Cat Allies winter shelter options.

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconding the straw. In the winter our farm cats would sleep in the barn and come up to the house with lovely warm fur smelling very pleasantly of hay.

    6. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Feral cats tend to be good about using litterboxes once they understand their purpose but make it easy for them by starting with clay.

      If flyers and social media haven’t found an owner then agreed that it’s very likely a stray or feral (strays are friendly cats abandoned outside, ferals are born wild and not used to humans – they can be socialized but it takes forever). Because ferals aren’t used to humans they don’t react to Feliway.

      Fleas are definitely a thing, as are ear mites. Revolution treats for both. Worms can also be an issue but are less transmissable so need treating at some point but not immediately. Keep an eye on the litterbox and hope she isn’t sick! Feel free to ask questions.

    7. Hibis*

      See if you can find a local TNR group and borrow a trap. If you trap and bring inside and then get some Revolution and some ear mite cleaner on them (or a trip to a vet real quick), you can then assess if they are feral or will be cool with becoming a pet.

  5. But Not the Armadillo*

    Looking for suggestions on what to send an elderly couple who are long-time friends of my family. One of them is entering their last phase of life; not sure how long left, but likely not long. I don’t have a lot of details about the specifics of their condition so not sure whether to focus on the ill person (who is still at home) or the spouse. They are not local to me so it will need to be something ordered online and shipped (to the Midwestern U.S.; it is getting cold/wintery there). I haven’t dealt with a similar situation before so I’m at a loss, and I remember them well from my childhood so feeling pretty sad.

    1. Sally*

      What about handwriting a story of something you remember from your childhood involving them in a card or a letter? At this stage of their lives, they probably have all the “things” they need/want and something like that would be cherished for sure. And it can be read to the ailing spouse if they can’t read it.

      1. RLC*

        Lovely suggestion, and if you have any photos of you/your family with the friends, add a copy of a few photos. Perhaps make a stiff paper card with the photo(s) attached so it can “sit up” to be displayed and enjoyed. Paper cards and printed photos were a favorite of my parents as well as my in laws.

        1. Kiki Is The Most*

          I am late to the commenting party but wanted to reiterate this. Another suggestion is to send a video message, too. My family and I send a short video message to the elder relatives in Eastern Europe (in their language). They love seeing all of us and we just say a quick update along with well-wishes. I know hearing your voice would also be appreciated.

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I did something similar for my parents on a significant anniversary. I contacted all the family and friends they spoke fondly of, and had them write to my parents, in care of me, and I compiled an album of the letters and photos they’d all sent. Even years later, Mom and Dad would get that album out and re-read it, especially after a contributor died.

        1. English Rose*

          A slightly different situation but I did this for a special birthday of a family member. It really is appreciated.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I second a physical card or letter with a happy memory. If you can find any old photos those can also be fun as a trigger to memories.

    2. Christmas cookie*

      if you want to address the end of life directly, you can- but also, it’s nearing holiday season so perhaps you can send a very early holiday card with some lovely handwritten memories?

      You could also do the same with a thanksgiving card.

      1. Artemesia*

        I love these ideas for letters, photos, memories — if you want to send a ‘thing’ too, something like Harry and David pears or boxes of oranges make nice gifts as they can be eaten by people on most diets and do not accumulate like tschokes do.

    3. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      +1 on any form of written happy memories, plus photo, AND upscale fruit. Tree-Ripe Fruit is based in the Midwest and will ship for free in that area (those boxes are pretty no-frills). For a broader assortment of fruit and *slightly* fancier packaging, I have used Harry and David with success.

      And I am sorry about the sad part here. You are a good and thoughtful person to remember them with a kind gesture.

    4. chocolate muffins*

      I love the suggestions here about sending stories and photos and such. One other thing that might be nice is something to help the spouse who is not ailing, especially if they are doing most or all of the caretaking for their partner. Something like a GrubHub gift certificate so they don’t have to cook all the time, or a gift card to a cleaning service, or a certificate for a spa/massage type of thing if that seems up their alley. I don’t know if that’s the right vibe for the kind of gift you want to send but it’s something that came to my mind that might be appreciated.

      1. lampo*

        Spoonful of Comfort is another option; you can have “soup” mailed as well as other comfort foods/items

    1. word nerd*

      Yes, I enjoyed it, especially since I used to live one block from the Pilsen library where one of the main characters worked. The story was engaging and moving, and it brought back some nice memories for me of living in Pilsen. Did you like it?

      1. Rachel*

        Overall I enjoyed but I like Little Women so it was in my wheelhouse.

        Spoiler Alert!

        The author mentioned William working for the Bulls and mentioned Michael Jordan but it was a minor, name dropping reference. I think she should have left it off altogether or discussed it more. There was so much basketball but then William working with the most recognizable basketball player of all time was glossed over.

    2. Chestnut Mare*

      I read it and hated it more than I’ve hated a book in a long time. It was well-written but the characters were horrible people. I have a compulsion to finish a book if I start it, but I seriously considered pitching this one.

      1. Rachel*

        I think the author wrote themselves into a corner a bit, they became caricatures of themselves.

        William was a pretty fascinating person at the very end but he took some getting used to.

      2. cheap eats*

        Same here, although I’ve got a few other recent contenders for “well-written books with insufferable characters.” We read it for book club and I coined the phrase “catastrophe porn” to describe it. Characters couldn’t have a single positive event without something coming along to completely destroy them in the next chapter. I finished it due to the same compulsion but i loathed it nearly the whole way.

    3. Kate*

      I read it and loved it. Beautifully written and thought provoking. I understand why some didn’t like the characters but I think the complexity is what made the book.

  6. 'strayan*

    I’m Australian and I love Australia. I love living where I do and wouldn’t change it. One thing I do not love and find utterly ridiculous, and you will too, is this crazy need to play winter Christmas music in retail stores. I mean it’s one thing to play Christmas songs, but when we hear ‘let it snow’ when it’s 35 degrees (Celsius, sorry I have no idea of the farrenheit) it just seems so ridiculous. Today I was at the shops and I heard two different versions of let it snow straight after each other! Yes, we have snow in Australia. No, we will never have snow for Christmas.
    I mean, maybe it’s that Australian thing of making fun of ourselves, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s meant to be one of those mind things you know if you’re cold and you watch a fire on TV you feel warm so if we are thinking about snow it might make us feel colder?

    1. Emma*

      I mean I still loved listening to all those wintry songs in LA! I feel like having the snowy lyrics made it feel more properly Christmas!

    2. Pamela Adams*

      I got Christmas songs for the first time this year while lunching in a Chinese restaurant. Luckily, one was the Grinch song- always amusing.

    3. Quandong*

      I’m also Australian, and think it’s probably just that the available playlists are from the northern hemisphere, and it’s too much effort or expense to find a playlist that makes sense.

      I completely agree about how annoying it is! And don’t get me started on how the expectation is that everyone is culturally Christian and equally invested in the *magic* of Christmas.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      35C is about 95F, for all the fahrenheit people who want to understand just how ridiculous “let it snow” is at that temp.

      1. 'strayan*

        Thank you also for the correct spelling of Fahrenheit! I am surprised auto correct didn’t fix it when I typed it last

    5. Eff Walsingham*

      I hate hearing it here, and I’m in Canada! Some places have a rotation of about 6 songs. I used to have a favourite restaurant that I avoided each December due to their limited ‘festive’ playlist. I’m good for roughly a week’s worth of “Santa Baby” and “Jingle Bell Rock” before I want to embrace violence. November is way too early for me!

      When I was 13 I was in San Jose at this time of year, and seeing those inflatable snowmen and reindeer on lawns was pretty trippy! I remember thinking that it must be hard to get in the mood for Christmas (if you’re into that sort of thing) without winter, but of course it must be different if it’s what you grow up with.

      1. 'strayan*

        It’s true, it’s what you grew up with and what your used to. It’s also our big summer holidays in the school system.
        But I have experienced a white Christmas and I think you’re right about it just feels like Christmas in the snow. I spent one Christmas at a ski resort in Japan, and they had dug little holes in a snow wall and put tea light candles in them and it was so magical and beautiful.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I moved to the San Jose area in my 20s from NY and also found the snowflakes and snowmen highly amusing. They had banners all over the parking lot which seemed out of place with the palm trees. I did appreciate that they did snow instead of Santa, though.

        A friend of mine grew up in the Bay Area and had a 7th grade English teacher who came to them from Boston and taught Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” She tried to get them to see them winter=death metaphor and they were not getting it. So finally she said “What happens to all the plants in winter?” and someone in the class said “They turn green?” Seasons are not the same everywhere.

        1. Double A*

          I’m a Californian and this made me laugh as the hills are just starting to come alive after the dessication of summer. We do still have trees that lose their leaves but yes winter is very green!

        2. Rara Avis*

          So funny! I live in San Jose now but grew up in CT. My husband is from Gilroy. The first time he came east with me in the summer, his comment was, “It’s so green!” Then my aunt flew into San Jose in the summer, and asked if she had flown in over sand dunes. Nope — that yellow is what passes for vegetation in the summer.

          1. Professional child wrangler*

            Fellow Californian here – when I went to visit my NJ husband’s hometown in July a few years ago I was shocked how green it was! It was like a jungle and rained every day! So wild.

    6. CopperPenny*

      I moved to Australia from America 4 years ago. I see more things involving snow at Christmas here than I did before the move! It’s ridiculous. That’s between 90-100 F. So much fake snow as well! I’ve never seems so much fake snow. We decided it’s because Australia imports so much from the northern hemisphere but it’s so annoying. I want to embrace the warm Christmas weather not morn the colder weather.

      1. 'strayan*

        I know right. It just seems like we’re trying to be like all the other countries instead of just being ourselves. When I was growing up it was ham and prawns and BBQ. Now people cook turkeys! (Although admittedly sometimes in the weber)

        1. lissajous*

          We usually do the turkey the day before so it doesn’t add heat to the already hot day! And, yep, still do it outside…

    7. LAGirl*

      It might help to know that Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn wrote “Let It Snow” on a blisteringly hot day in Los Angeles as way of trying to beat the heat.

    8. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      My favorite Christmas song is “White Wine in the Sun” by Tim Minchin, a British-Australian singer – caveat, he’s an atheist celebrating being with his family at Christmas. I grew up in the American Southwest, and we don’t do white Christmases either.

      1. Hrodvitnir*

        Ha. I haven’t heard that Minchin song, but it sounds entirely relateable! Xmas = sitting in the glaring sun drinking and eating bbq (where bbq = grilled meat), that’s pretty classic in Aotearoa too.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Donna Andrews’s bird mysteries take place in Virginia, and the Christmas one always features plenty of snow. Even though snow on 12/24 isn’t the norm in New England, much less in the middle of the eastern seaboard. The series has really leaned into it to the point where it loops around and becomes fun again, like a running joke at your office about the parking.

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      I feel ya! It’s winter in Atlanta, GA USA, but it does not snow here at Christmas. Our tiny snows happen January through March. Christmas in Georgia is bare trees, brown grass, and generally rain. (It did snow after dark on Christmas night in 2010.) I hate Christmas decorations that feature snow! To me, if you live in Georgia and your mental image of Christmas includes snow, you have succumbed to the marketing machine.

    11. fposte*

      On the Off Menu podcast, Sarah Kendall talks about the way Australian commercial Christmas images changed in her lifetime from woolly jumpers and fireplace fires to outdoor cookouts in shorts. It sounds like you need a similar song makeover. She did offer a spontaneous sample of one that starts “Koala bears and prawns, it’s a lovely sunny day,” but then she ran out of steam.

    12. Unkempt Flatware*

      I love that you posted this. I am OBSESSED with Kath & Kim as they have it here on American Netflix. One of the movies takes place around Christmas time and I always wondered just how odd Christmas must feel in Australia.

    13. fhqwhgads*

      Have you ever watched the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? There’s a song called “California Christmastime” I think you’d enjoy.

    14. Hrodvitnir*

      Haha, as someone from Aotearoa (so we ain’t roasting but it’s still peak summer), I have always thought that’s ridiculous but it doesn’t bother me above and beyond the torture of playing what, 30? songs for 2 months straight. (Bad enough as a customer, legitimately cruel to staff IMO.)

      I am not a personal fan of schmultz, and do not ever want to hear anything about Jesus blasted at me in public, so I’m just 100% not the audience for xmas music at the best of times.

      I will concede that classical carols are fun to sing and I have a lot of nostalgia for pine trees.

      In a general xmas/summer note, having spent time in Sweden in summer only reinforced my feeling that retaining the Christian holiday calendar in the southern hemisphere and thus bundling all our holidays into one ball of stress (plus our stat holidays are front loaded so by the end of the year everyone is struggling) is stupid and bad.

      Hoping for Matariki to really take off!

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        I get sour hearing Snoopy’s Christmas. Of all the places for that dreadful song to become a thing, why the one I chose to live in?

    15. lissajous*

      Ahahaha, one of my aunts always sends an online advent calendar (the Jacquie Lawson one). They’re delightful and have become part of my “settle into the Christmas vibe” each year, but they are always northern-hemisphere-with-snow setting. Once I remember one say being “it can get very cold at this time of year, snuggle by a fire and make this hot chocolate to defrost!” We had 40 deg C that day…

      For the traditional carols, of course, the problem is a lot of them were written by Europeans in Europe and of course that’s the tradition that got brought along with colonisation – plus then a lot of American ones from the first half of the 20th century which were playing into that, even if they may have been written in a part of the US that doesn’t have the snow.

      For carols I like to just play piano versions, then there are no words in there – there’s some lovely ones on youtube. Add in some Aussie songs if needed – White wine in the Sun has already been mentioned, there’s also Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy.

      My personal little resistance is to make sure that Christmas cards sent to internationals are Aussie themes. Lala Land do some great ones, and are readily available at newsagents (my favourite was a wombat waddling off with the sack of presents), and the various charity packs are also starting to do good Aussie ones which is excellent! They were hard to find for a while.

      And then on the day make sure they get a photo of the beach from the traditional Pre-Christmas-Breakfast Swim.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      This thread needs a gift link to Alexandra Petri’s ranking of 100 Christmas songs.

      The Post’s satire columnist, she loses it a little in the middle, which is so evocative of the feeling of Christmas.


    17. Samwise*

      Eh, I grew up in southern California. We would sometimes go to the beach (not to swim, the Pacific is freakin cold) on Christmas Day. Wide swaths of the earth in both hemispheres do not have wintery weather. Enjoy the tunes and/or laugh at them.

      Definitely not just an Australian thing though.

    18. vombatus ursinus*

      It is definitely silly! I can only imagine it has some commercial benefit, like they make people subconsciously think “Christmas songs = Christmas = buy more stuff”, because the shops won’t seem to turn them off!

      I now live in Northern Europe, where all the ‘traditions’ actually make sense seasonally, and people keep ribbing me about how the Xmas break in Australia must feel ‘weird’ and ‘unsatisfying’ without snow and cold etc. I’m like umm no, we are usually out enjoying the nice sunny weather, going for a swim and eating lovely fresh in-season fruits and vegetables instead of huddling inside in the dark eating cabbage and potatoes! :D

  7. Also Petite*

    Can anyone recommend a brand (or style number) of women’s jeans that do not contain polyester?

    I have not been clothes shopping since before COVID, and I am dismayed to see how many women’s jeans now have polyester as one of the fibers. I don’t mind a little spandex (like 2%) for comfort, but jeans that I’ve tried that are cotton/polyester blends seem clingy, and they also don’t breathe well.

    The last jeans I bought were from Lands’ End, but they don’t make them anymore. I’m short-waisted, so I prefer low-rise jeans, but would certainly be willing to try mid-rise.

    Also, being able to try on is a must, so I’d need a brick and mortar store. Price-wise, I’d prefer under $100, but slightly over is not a deal-breaker, either.

    Any suggestions would be a huge help. Thanks in advance!

    1. Rachel*

      Duluth Trading Company might have a bit more polyester than you want but their clothes have always felt really comfortable to me, worth a shot

    2. Not A Manager*

      Lucky Brand Jeans have some low- and mid-rise that are 100% cotton or 91% cotton, 9% other materials. They do have bricks and mortar stores, and look to be in your price point.

      1. ampersand*

        Wearing my Lucky jeans now and they’re 91 percent cotton, 7 percent polyester, 2 percent lycra. And their mid-rise is actually mid, not stupidly high like many other jean brands (I have feelings about this, as a person with a short torso). They’re the best jeans I’ve found in a while!

    3. mreasy*

      If you know your size and the style name of your lands end favorites, try Poshmark or another online reseller. I’ve had great luck buying discontinued items there.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I’ve had the most luck buying jeans from thrift or consignment stores, but it is a lot of trying on until I found the right pair.

    5. English Rose*

      I’m in the UK so may not work but I am reading this while wearing a 100% cotton denim pair from Zara. Not all theirs are poly-free, but quite a few are.

    6. Denim*

      SLVRLAKE – but does not meet price range requirement. 100 pt cotton denim is definitely out there, I just can’t think of any other options off the top of my head, maybe Sezane. At under $100, the cotton fabric might not be as good quality as if you spent more but sometimes you can get lucky. You probably will have a lot more options with a cotton spandex blend like the 98/2 you mentioned.

    7. Ranon*

      Gap has plenty of all cotton or a smidge of spandex only denim right now- last round I tried on from them was noticeably heavier than what they’d been calling denim in the last few years. Levi’s generally pretty reliable as well although sometimes funky to find in stores.

    8. TX_trucker*

      Jeans made for “phyiscal work” (gardeners, mechanics, etc) are rarely clingy, no matter the material. Some are marketed as extra breathable, but others are intentionally super stiff, so read descriptions carefully. You will need to venture outside of your typical retail to find these type of clothes. Duluth and Carthart are my favorite brands.

    9. Sutemi*

      Lands End considers jeans to be a seasonal item for winter/fall, and I’ve had luck by checking later in the year sometimes if a pants item wasn’t available in the summer. I also like my recent ones from Duluth Trading.

    10. Jenny F Scientist*

      Levi’s still has some women’s jeans that are all-cotton or cotton/spandex. They do have real stores but it might depend if one is near you!

      1. Chaordic One*

        Levi’s has a website where you can order things directly (Levi dot com). Their search filter includes a category for “100% cotton” items. That said, in the last few years it seems to me that the quality and the sizing of a lot of Levi’s items has become inconsistent. Ordering or buying Levi’s is always kind of a crap shoot. Sometimes they are great and sometimes not.

      2. carcinization*

        I think I know where a Levi’s store is, but I’m not totally sure. However, Levi’s are sold in several department stores in my town and I have purchased them there.

    11. Lazy Turtle*

      Try Ariat jeans. I am also short waisted and they have various rises and styles. They’re an equestrian brand so a lot of their jeans are designed for riding and many are straight denim. Reasonably priced and a zillion style choices.

    12. Queer Earthling*

      I’m allergic to polyester and mostly stick with men’s jeans at this point. Is that something you’re willing to try? They cling less, and they’re available in several styles so you can get some that might flatter you fine. They also have massive pockets. I have some from Walmart and some jean shorts from Old Navy that are really comfy and polyester-free.

    13. Deanna Troi*

      I’m in love with Eddie Bauer women’s boyfriend jeans. 99% cotton/1% spandex. They call then mid rise, but I am also short waisted, and would say it is between low and mid rise. So comfortable.

  8. Aerin*

    I just want to say that I have this exact same cat bed and it’s so wonderful that we bought three: one for the bedroom, one for my office, and one for the basement/spouse’s office.

  9. Traveller*

    Is there anyone here who either currently lives in Argentina or who has recently been there? If so…I have questions!

    1. Valancy Stirling*

      I live in Argentina! I don’t live in Buenos Aires, but I spent a week there in September.

      1. My Brain is Exploding*

        Oh, I have questions! Our family will be going to BA in a couple of weeks. Me, my spouse (6os) and three in their 30s (our son, pregnant daughter, and daughter’s spouse). The kids have done a lot of the planning. :) We’ll be staying in Recoleta, about 4 blocks from the Urban Mall and Cemetary. I’ve been on the Argentina Travel Tips page looking for tips. Since you live there, you probably haven’t had to look for a cueva. That whole blue dollar thing just seems so sketchy! Did you find great empanadas some where (this is our daughter’s dream…to eat ALL THE EMPANADAS. I’ve read a lot about pickpockets and phone thieves (we will be cautious, we have money belts). We don’t know people there, but when possible when we travel we try to cram in a few gifty things (we are only going with carryon luggage). Good ideas for those? Someone in the tips page mentioned Lego and electronic things because they are so expensive there but I was thinking of something more general. I have more questions but that’s a start…

        1. BsAs*

          I was in BsAs for six months, about six years ago. Some things have changed, but I’ve stayed relatively in the loop. I also recommend checking out fb groups – Buenos Aires Expats has good info.

          Blue dollars – honestly just walk down Calle Florida and you’ll find many people happy to exchange your money. It feels sketchy, but I (very young single woman) had no problems.

          Empanadas are everywhere, in every corner restaurant. I’d just try them all if I were you :)

          Petty theft – keep an eye on your stuff; some people carry their backpack in front instead of behind; consider carrying an old phone and not much cash. Try not to flash wealth around. My local friends all had stories of phone theft, but I never had anything stolen.

          Gifts – I’m not sure who’d you give gifts to if you don’t know anyone there? Just a heads up, I have heard of people having trouble at customs when bringing in multiple expensive or new electronics.

          BsAs is a beautiful and intriguing place – I hope you have a wonderful time!

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            Empanadas are everywhere, in every corner restaurant. I’d just try them all if I were you :)

            Oooo I’m hungry: new dream unlocked!

            1. mie*

              Yes, do it!

              People also get very excited about the meat in Argentina. I was a vegetarian at the time so I can’t comment, but you might enjoy it! There’s also a lot of Italian food. Nothing spicy, though!

          2. Traveller*

            So the small gifts are if we get to know people, like one of the kids researched this and brought some American candy they don’t have in Greece when they went there. Made friends with a hotel employee the same age and they loved it! So nothing pricey, I just
            can’t figure out what to bring. I’m mostly worried about phone safety – I don’t have an older one, but mine isn’t super-new, either (Pixel 5). I ordered a strap set, so you can either use the wrist strap or the neck strap. With the exchange rate as it is, even cashing in $100 at a cueva will be a LOT OF bills!

            1. BsAs*

              The gift idea is very thoughtful of you! I think candy could be a very nice gesture. I wouldn’t overthink it.

              For your phone, I’d maybe make the case look old (put some masking tape over it?) and then just keep it tucked away most of the time. Stay aware, you should be fine.

              And yes, welcome to hyperinflation. :/ (for a fascinating time, read up on the history of Argentine inflation. believe it or not, it used to be much worse.)

    2. Traveller*

      Is wearing jeans there most of the time OK? I have a pair of nice slacks to wear in the evenings as I have NOT been able to find a flowy skirt the length I would like. My daughter is bringing sandals but I read that there’s a LOT of dog poop around…

      1. BsAs*

        Jeans and sandals will be fine and match what the vast majority of others are wearing. You’ll be in a modern western city, wear what you’re comfortable in and don’t overthink it!

  10. RMNPgirl*

    Moving abroad!
    I posted in the Friday open chat about how I’d like to relocate to London if I can figure out work.
    For this open thread – anyone who has moved to another country?
    What was good/bad about the experience? How was it settling in another country? Love to hear from anyone who has done this, no matter your country of origin and destination.

    1. Kaleidoscope*

      Brit relocated to New Zealand in 2021 (yes, during COVID).

      Bad – it is very, very mentally and emotionally taxing packing up your life, saying goodbye and applying for visas.
      also bad – being about as far away from home as I possibly could be, things are expensive here, brands such as IKEA don’t exist (we only got a Costco earlier this year – 1 in the entire country).
      Everything is upside down and back to front – spring when it’s autumn at home, Christmas in summer is weird. People in interviews have access and commented on my visa status (linked to being in a relationship with a NZ citizen).
      Good – NZ is enough like home that I don’t feel too out of place too often. I get to be with my partner. Unusually I earn a bit more over here than I did in the UK.

      We plan to move to the UK or less likely, Australia once I become a dual citizen in several years time. Then my partner will become a dual UK/NZ citizen.

      We also flew out cat over here.

      tip – outsource as much as you can e.g pay extra for a company to pack and ship your stuff.

        1. Hrodvitnir*

          As someone from Aotearoa – Australia has far better pay in many industries, and better weather if you don’t like cold. And just More – bigger population, bigger cities means more of everything, really. Their dollar is worth more.

          It also has a big step up in anti-immigrant sentiment, segregation, and shocking views towards Indigenous people. Not to stir, just the reasons I wouldn’t want to live there even though white NZers talk about it as the better-NZ for the above reasons. (Māori people mostly have a decent time too fwiw.)

          Also, from what I’ve gathered, a more “American” and hierarchical working environment in many industries, despite generally robust employee protections.

        2. Kaleidoscope*

          what current situation are you referring to?
          My partner is a Kiwi (as mentioned above). I couldn’t go to Australia.

          1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

            You said you plan to move back to the UK or less likely Australia from NZ. I understand you’re from the UK so that’s moving home. So I was just wondering why Australia over staying in NZ if your partner is from NZ?

            1. vombatus ursinus*

              Not OP, but from Australia with in-laws in Aotearoa/NZ. I guess Australia would probably have more work opportunities for both of them while still being close enough to the NZ partner’s family for them to visit regularly? And it’s a little better-connected to the rest of the world generally (though we’re both very isolated by many other countries’ standards, haha).

    2. UStoUK*

      I moved from the US to London in early 2018. Some things that might be helpful:

      – if you can, open a US bank account with an international bank that has a UK presence as sometimes it can be easier to then open an account in the UK if you are already a customer of their US partner. But it will be a giant pain as you need proof of address. I recommend getting a monese account or something similar and moving money into that first for things like deposits on a flat.
      – seconding the comment about outsourcing as much as possible. If you can, negotiate relocation management into your contract. we had to do it all ourselves and it was hard
      – if you have a pet, know that you have to follow a lot of VERY SPECIFIC rules to bring them in, and they will need to travel via cargo. We did bring our two cats and they were fine, but that was the most stressful part
      – if you think there is any chance you’ll want to stay long term, document everything. Immigration will ask you to share details about every trip you’ve taken, where you’ve lived, major medical incidents (all since arriving in the UK) when you apply for indefinite leave to remain
      – there is a lot I miss from the US, but nothing I can’t really get from a visit back every year or so. WhatsApp/Signal also make it really easy to keep in touch with friends and family back in the US

      We are thrilled with our choice (recently relocated up to Scotland) but it is definitely top five most stressful experiences of my life.

    3. anonymous Canadian in England*

      I made a similar move semi recently! I’m probably going to overdo my thoughts, mostly because I learned so much and would have benefitted from getting all this advice myself! Should have asked AAM. :)


      It’s almost all good, honestly. I love it here! The history is incredible. There are people from all over the world and locals have been very helpful and welcoming. There’s nothing boring anywhere near central London. Classic British humour is a delightful subtle mix of dry, cerebral, and playful/goofy. Incredible parks and green space more generally. Easy access to healthcare.

      Far less car-centric than the U.S. and Canada. Trains and subways are frequent and much more extensive than in North America. Buses are decent too. Tons of infrastructure for people who like to walk.

      The post offices have amazing self-serve terminals that help you calculate weight and postage, then print stamps; I have no idea why this isn’t a thing everywhere. Little charity shops are everywhere, and some of them specifically sell and deliver used furniture.

      The locals have been really helpful and welcoming. It’s possible that I just got lucky with my location, but it’s also much more inclusive than I expected (Pride flags up year round, bookstore staff well informed about racism and homophobia/transphobia, impressively progressive workplace policies, etc.).

      Less good:

      – Rain. Rain rain rain. Unless you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest or something, it’s hard to imagine just how much. Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn.

      – British social customs can be a bit impenetrable. Class differences are deeply entrenched over here in ways that make no sense at all to those of us who are middle-class people from the colonies with a reasonable amount of privilege.

      – Time-zone differences. My first chance to call North America is usually after work, by which point I’m tired and don’t really want to have to navigate phone calls.

      – People are really lax about masks, and air quality takes a hit from the much higher amount of smoking over here.

      – London is amazing but super touristy. Watch out for scammers (e.g. an Eastern European woman claiming the embassy is closed and that she desperately needs money to fly back to see a sick relative). Never let a stranger take you to an ATM.

      – Cost of living is rising and the ways big holidays are celebrated is getting increasingly generic/globalised.

      Various tips specific to the UK (disregard if irrevelant or not what you’re looking for!):

      – Visas often cost a fair bit, and you also have to pay a charge to access the NHS. That said, the UK government website is a vast repository of knowledge, and the interactive forms related to immigration are surprisingly straightforward and easy to use. There must be some excellent UI/UX people out this way.

      – Developing a flat hunting routine from a distance isn’t a bad idea – you’ll get a sense of prices and locations – but you’ll probably be completely ignored if you try to set anything up in advance of moving. Prepare for a few weeks of living in a hotel/AirBNB and flat hunting in person. Call or walk into the offices of lettings agencies.

      – Acquire a very good umbrella. Consider a high-end one from Fulton with transparent heavy-duty plastic that you put around your head and shoulders and then look through (tip from my friend from Yorkshire!). I also bought a pair of waterproof overtrousers after one too many days of getting home looking like I’d fallen into a swimming pool.

      – Seconding that opening a UK bank account as a foreigner is really annoying and complicated (unless you’re a student). Depending on the bank, acceptable proof of address can be very stringently defined. Most North American credit cards and bank cards will work in most UK machines, but do research in advance about which bank you’d like to pick and what they’ll need.

      – Ship by cargo. The alternatives are much costlier.

      – Get a local phone number ASAP once here. SIM cards are both cheap and abundant and most of the time you don’t need to have an address already. You might even be able to order one from North America.

      – If you have electric devices with North American plugs, converters are available, but sometimes they can make the device go wonky and/or present a safety hazard. In most cases it makes more sense to buy new electric stuff over here (though I run my laptop through a converter).

      – Look up lists of common cross dialect synonyms. This will cut down on confusion early on, especially for words about cars and technology. Slang words for money are also common (as “buck” means dollar, “quid” means pound/pounds) and sometimes really local too.

      – If you can’t find a medical clinic that accepts new patients for which you’re in the catchment area, call the NHS and they can likely get you added to a convenient one.

      – The media in general sometimes turn into a sensationalistic circus, and the political landscape is very different from that of the U.S., so tread carefully. There are all sorts of types of people by political alignment with no exact equivalent in North America, especially when factoring the class system into account.

      – Titles before names (Miss, Ms, Mr, Dr, Prof, Rev, etc.) are a THING here. Pick one in advance for yourself, throw away the period after it, and be prepared to give it out to everybody.

      1. HBJ*

        I see you’re Canadian, but the post office thing is a thing in the US! We have those self-service kiosks, and they’re awesome.

    4. Redaly22*

      Moved from the US to London in 2007. There are good and bad things about living here, naturally. It took me a couple of months before I stopped feeling like I was on a long vacation that I just happened to be working in, which was both nice and weird, but did mean I actually went and saw a lot of those places you never go to when you live in a big city. It is a LOT of work to pack up everything you own ready for shippping, and it is expensive to ship it. It’s even more expensive if you pay someone to pack it, and I don’t know anyone who did that (except for military moves) who wasn’t missing things on the other end. It is hard to do things like sell your car that you love, say goodbye to all the people you know casually but won’t necessarily stay in touch with, and tell your family that you’re going to see them a lot less. I had to leave my cats with my parents because they were too old to handle the process of getting over here, which can be traumatic.

      The application process is expensive, and your visa status will be a big hit for employers hiring, as they have to prove that you’re not taking a job from an equally qualified UK person, but are in fact better than anyone here, AND the visa application costs them money and takes time, so they need to really want you. Not to discourage you, but you should know going in.

      The default size of housing in London is really small and has very little storage, so that’s an adjustment- think about getting a storage unit, but do it here, as you get an import-tax-free window when you move but after it you need to pay duty on what you bring over even though it’s not stuff you’ve just bought. Explaining to the customs officer that yes, I brought a big lot of stuff over but actually it is mostly things that have no actual value, honestly, that book only cost me a quarter and would cost about the same to replace, it’s just that copy is meaningful to me so I don’t want to replace it was not enjoyable. Mailing things to the US isn’t so bad, but having them mailed from is AWFUL, the cost of the postage is horrific and you have to pay import on both the cost of the item AND the shipping cost, and it adds up fast. My SIL had a shutterfly book sent to us: the book cost $35, the postage was like $50, and I had to pay about $30 in taxes on it. Now she emails me pictures, which isn’t as nice but is less stupid.

      I was surpised by which friends I stayed in touch with and which I didn’t, it wasn’t always who I expected. The time difference is a BIG issue, as you can’t just call after work as that’s the middle of tHe night here. I also found it a little difficult to make friends at first, there seems to be a longer window between ‘person I see at work and am friendly with’ to ‘friend who I see outside of work’. Although that could just be where I was working, I have heard the same from other people, I think because it’s smaller there is more of a tendancy to see friends from school or college so people just don’t have as much space/time for making new ones.

      For me the worst part of living abroad only revealed itself gradually: now that my family is getting older, it’s both hard and expensive to get home when they have medical issues and need help, and unless you’re very well off (or they are) it’s unlikely you’d be able to move them here to a local retirement home. It is really hard to know that they need me there to do like two hours of stuff they’re currently having trouble with a week, but it’s not the kind of stuff it’s easy to hire someone for. I have missed most family funerals since moving here, because last minute tickets are so expensive and airlines no longer give you a discount for that kind of thing, and even for planned big events like weddings sometimes I can’t manage the travel. With travel time included it’s not really possible to do an overnight trip anywhere but east coast hub cities: for a Saturday evening wedding you will at a minimum spend all of Friday travelling and probably Monday morning as well, and as you’ll be lucky if the domestic leg doesn’t get delayed or cancelled and make you miss the event anyway (on more than one occasion I have arrived almost 24 hours late) it’s safest to travel Thursday, which is a fair chunk of time off that you wouldn’t need for domestic travel. Of course, you get a lot more time off here, so that can even out.

      Things here aren’t different enough to be hard to live with or confronting: the food is more or less the same (hardly any Mexican food but lots of amazing Indian options), all of the big stores have counterparts (although property is so expensive they’re mostly much smaller), the ways people live or struggle to live are basically the same (less focus on health insurance, more on high cost and low supply of housing) but there are little oddnesses like all the snack food is different, or they barely do Halloween, or they don’t put fly screens on the windows, which can feel disorienting. The government has good and bad points which are different but add up to about the same (I wrote to my national representative because I was having a problem with my local planning office and heard back from her directly that she would contact them in half an hour [yay], but we have now had two heads of state that no one voted for and most people dislike in a row [boo]). You’ll never sound local, so people will often ask where you’re visiting from or whether you want export paperwork, but that also makes it easy to ask questions you think are silly, since they don’t assume you should know.

      It’s a lot harder to adjust to cars on the other side of the road than you think it will be for the first few years, but in London public transit is good enough that you really don’t need a car, I haven’t even bothered to get a license here (that process is expensive and a lot more involved than in the US).

      On the major plus side, there was a moment when my entire body suddenly relaxed as it fully processed that I was never going to die because I didn’t have the right insurance, which I don’t think I can fully explain to anyone who hasn’t felt it. And during driving lessons they don’t learn ‘during-a-traffic-stop-do-NOT-take-your-hands-off-the-steering-wheel-unless-told-to-or-they-may-shoot-you’, and while cops will be cops, the fact that most of them aren’t allowed guns makes me feel a lot safer.

      Overall, I like living here, but it’s not exotic, it’s only a little different-but it is different enough that you will feel the oddness off and on for the first couple of years. But I moved for love not because I really wanted to live here, so I may be less enthusiastic than you would be!

      As mentioned above, if you think you may want to stay long term, document everything- make sure you get paper bills for your utilities and bank statements and paychecks and the like and save them all, you’ll need them as evidence for various (expensive) visa applications.

    5. Expat finances*

      To focus on the financial part of it: it is very expensive. It’s more expensive than you think it will be. You will save money by downsizing your household and moving as few items as possible — and then on the other end you will end up having to replace them once you’re settled.

      You’ll may be set back a few years in your career, because your professional credentials and experience might not translate to the same level abroad as the level you’re at now. Broadly, this is why doctors, lawyers, engineers, and so on who move to new countries often end up driving taxis or starting small businesses. It’s not always that drastic, but potential the loss to your earning potential and hit to your retirement goals is something to be aware of.

      You will be starting from zero with your credit. You’ll be able to get a debit card, of course, but you may be able to get only a low-limit, secured credit card. It may be very, very difficult to get a line of credit or a mortgage for years.

      If you’re an American, you will have to file tax returns (you may not actually owe further taxes to the U.S., but you still have to file). You’ll also have to file an annual report on your foreign bank account holdings, called the FBAR. Since your foreign bank also has to report money held by Americans to the U.S., and since a lot of banks really don’t like this, you may be limited in your banking options.

      On a lighter note, it can take years before you stop automatically calculating all the prices you see into American dollars.

    6. Jessi*


      I’m a kiwi who has relocated to London, Duabi, Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, Sydney, California, back to London and then Back to Aussie.

      It can be a bit lonely as you settle in but I think the trick is to go out and meet people before you really feel ready to. Then week 4 or 5 you know someone to grab a coffee with.

      The paperwork side can be annoying, visa tax number, changing drivers licence ect

      Being able to explore new places is Amazing!

      Happy to answer any questions you may have

    7. vombatus ursinus*

      I’m Australian and moved to a country in Scandinavia (trying to be slightly vague for anonymity as I don’t think there are a *huge* number of us here … :) )

      I’ll focus more on the emotional side as others have legal/financial info much more relevant to your specific situation!

      IMO there are some people who are comfortable spending every day being recognisably ‘foreign’ and some who aren’t so much. I’m more in the latter category. I still cringe a bit every time I have to reveal to someone that I don’t speak the local language fluently, or when I’m trying to and they don’t understand me. You won’t have that exact problem of course, but be prepared to get constant reactions to your accent and the feeling of always standing out a bit because of it. I personally find it a big relief to go home and relax into my natural accent and vocabulary without feeling ‘marked’ by it.

      I moved as a trailing spouse, and the first few months without my own job or stable immigration status were quite difficult (and a big hit to the bank account, even though my partner covered our rent when I wasn’t working). I’m not quite sure from your post if you’re saying you’d only move with a job already lined up, but if not, make sure you have good savings and be prepared to spend them all … and plan for how you’ll find a positive identity and fulfilment in your life without your job or professional identity/recognition. It was more difficult for me than I expected it to be — never thought I was someone whose job defined me, but it was pretty rough!

      Positives: The quality of life here is lovely and there’s better social support and equality than back home. After the bumpy start, I found a job I really love that I think would have been hard to find an equivalent of at home. Opportunities to easily travel around Europe, and even other parts of the Northern Hemisphere are also way more accessible than from Australia. I think it has brought my partner and me closer together. Moving to a new environment also generally brings space to open your mind to some new possibilities and reflections on what you value.

      All the best with whatever you decide to do!

  11. SkiddamarinkADinkADink*

    I’m looking for more of a specific kind of website and I haven’t found them on my own, so if you think of any I’d love suggestions!
    I like AskAManager, Captain Awkward, Apartment Therapy, and OffbeatWed (formerly Offbeat Bride) because they’re offering tips and advice around a specific topic in bite-sized, conversational pieces.
    Do y’all know of other places that do similar things? (Lifehacker exists, but it has more of an article-mill feel to it than the others.)

    1. Lilith*

      I like the Refinery29 money diaries, which are not exactly a match but still fill my liking for shortish informational pieces

    2. OnyxChimney*

      Evil HR Lady is an HR focused workplace blog. She answers questions but also will write the HR approach to items in the news. I really appreciate her perspective.

  12. Jackalope*

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

    I just read the 2nd October Daye book. It was fun, although a bit depressing in that so many people died.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Reading Just An Ordinary Day, a collection of Shirley Jackson’s short stories. It’s a great mix of her “spooky” stuff, fun, lighthearted stories she wrote for mainstream women’s magazines, and family memoir stuff.

      I especially love her two versions of “The Honeymoon of Mrs. Smith,” written some years apart. It’s the same story, but told from two different perspectives of the main character. The latter is even creepier once you read the first version.

      There’s also “Home,” a really fantastic ghost story that’s genuinely chill inducing in its use of the old cliche’ of small town denizens being tight lipped about “that ol’ road” to an outsider, and “All She Said Was Yes,” a terrific update on Cassandra and how she’s continually ignored.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I adore Shirley Jackson’s work – both the domestic-comedy and the domestic-creepy, at which she excelled!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I love her. One of the funniest things about her memoir was discovering that she lived in the weird old house at the edge of a small town where she felt like she didn’t fit in, after reading multiple stories she wrote about… murder in small towns and women going insane in weird houses. Imagine being her neighbor and reading basically any of her horror work lol

    2. Seashell*

      I’m reading Misfit: Growing Up Awkward in the 80’s by Gary Gulman. Interesting and amusing so far. I would also recommend his stand up special The Great Depresh, which covers similar ground as his book.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m reading Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby for what has to be the third time or so. It’s a long-time favourite, as I love stories that bring identity and football together.

      I read it in translation as a teenager, so this is my first time reading it in English, and also the first time since I started following UK football consistently.

      My partner and I went to see a game two weeks ago, and the way it went reminded me of a specific quote, which I wanted to read out to him. I still haven’t got to that, because when I realised I could get the ebook through Libby, I knew I would end up reading it all from the start.

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m reading “Promising Young Women” by Caroline O’Donoghue. I absolutely loved the audiobook of “The Rachel Incident”, and I’m really enjoying this book as well. It’s her first book and the plot is a little loose but the characters are fascinating and I enjoy spending time with them.

    5. allathian*

      Just finished the 100th anniversary edition of Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which also contains the original 12th chapter, where Poirot explains the crime in court. I must admit that I vastly prefer the rewritten version, where Poirot talks in the living room at Styles, and which became a trope for Poirot stories. That said, it was great to be able to read the original.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        A enjoyed that Death in Paradise leaned into this trope so much, and when they would get a new inspector who would be like “What do you mean you’ll gather the suspects at the scene of the crime so I can explain who did it?” the staff would be like “That is how it works here. Roll with it” and soon he would be just as into it.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          We rewatched old Death in Paradise seasons earlier this year, and Neville, the inspector, shows up as a prime suspect in one of the early seasons. Cracked me up, I think Midsummer Murders had this too.

      2. Valancy Stirling*

        I haven’t read the original ending yet, but I’m so glad she rewrote it. It wouldn’t have made any sense for Poirot to wait until trial to reveal his findings.

      3. Nervous Nellie*

        I didn’t know about this new edition of Styles! Wow! Thank you for this. Ordering immediately.

        I love that there is still such interest and love for Agatha Christie, and that her books are not just treated as pulpy airport reads. She was a serious, smart & literary writer, and her books are such great puzzles. What a treasure!

        1. allathian*

          Indeed, now I’m reading Death on the Nile. I’ve been a fan since I got Murder on the Orient Express for Christmas when I was 12.

          After that, I’m probably going to read Hallowe’en Party, before watching A Haunting in Venice, the new Kenneth Branagh Poirot movie, when it shows up on Disney+. I’m really looking forward to watching this adaptation. Should be soon, because we keep getting it flagged as Coming Soon on the Disney+ app.

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Yes! The Agatha Christie rabbit hole. That Branagh film looks wild. Thebookslist has a great list of all of her books in order, grouped by investigator. I’ve read all the Miss Marples and am working on the Poirots. But my favorites are the standalone Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (BBC did a great miniseries of this in the 80s), and N or M, a Tommy & Tuppence mystery. Full of surprises!

            Agatha Christie never got lazy and threw a deus ex machina in at the end to solve the puzzle with info unknown to the reader. It’s that shocked revelation that hits you at the end, that the story contained all the little pieces of the puzzle all along. It’s so rewarding. She spoiled me for any modern mystery writing.

            1. allathian*

              Last year’s remake of Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? was also pretty good. It stars Willy Poulter as Bobby Jones and Lucy Boynton as Frankie Derwent. Hugh Laurie’s pretty good as Dr. James Nicholson.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I really liked A Haunting in Venice, because it was the first film of her stuff I’d seen without knowing the ending (Orient Express and Nile are so famous I knew those way beforehand) so I actually got to experience the mystery solving!

    6. Teapot Translator*

      This was a slow week for me. I read Nettle & Bones by T. Kingfisher. It was very good, but I’m having a hard time figuring out which of her other books I can read (I don’t read horror). I ended up borrowing the first volume of the Harriet Princess series from the library. :D
      Who’s looking forward to the new Murderbot book out next week? I pre-ordered it.

      1. word nerd*

        I don’t like horror either, but I do like Kingfisher’s non-horror stuff, even if little bits of horror do kind of creep in sometimes. Her A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking and Swordheart are both good!

        I am very excited about the new Murderbot and counting down the days.

        1. Hanani*

          I appreciate this as someone else who doesn’t like horror at all but does enjoy Kingfisher. I’ll go check out Swordheart!

          1. Khai of the Fortress of the Winds*

            I gave my 88 year old mother Swordheart and now she’s hooked on Kingfisher.

        2. the cat's pajamas*

          I preordered the audiobook for Murderbot, Kevin R. Free does an amazing job narrating and captures the snarkiness perfectly!

          Tor.com has the first few chapters online! I’ll add the link after this.

          1. word nerd*

            I <3 Kevin R. Free so much. I am not going to look at the chapters because I know it would kill me to then wait for the full novel. (Along the same lines, I don't like starting unfinished series.) I'm definitely planning on listening to the whole novel in one day–there's no way to resist. :P

      2. Jackalope*

        The Paladin series is also good and engaging, and her fairy tale retellings so far have been fantasy rather than horror. (The Raven and the Reindeer as well as Bryony and Roses are the two I’ve read.) I also liked Summer in Orcus, although it’s been a little while so I don’t remember much of it now.

      3. GoryDetails*

        Vernon’s “Harriet” books are hilarious; I wish they’d been around when I was a kid. I also love the “Danny Dragonbreath” books.

        As for the non-horror Kingfisher books, “Defensive Baking” and “Minor Mage” are fun, and I really loved “Bryony and Roses” – but it does have a few scary bits in it, though it isn’t the full-on horror of “The Twisted Ones”. Her “Jackelope Wives” collection is awesome!

        1. word nerd*

          I guess it partly depends on what parts of horror someone dislikes too. Someone could just want to avoid gruesome or gory bits, but the part of horror that I don’t like about the genre is that building sense of dread, doom, something creepy going on underneath everything, etc., so I found more of that feeling in Bryony and Roses than I like even if it’s not classified as “horror.”

          1. Teapot Translator*

            I’m not sure what I don’t like in horror when it comes to books. I know I refuse to watch horror movies so naturally I don’t read horror books. I’ll try to remember what you said about Bryony and Roses.

      4. OtterB*

        Very much looking forward to the new Murderbot. I did a Murderbot reread but timed it wrong, so I finished the last a week ago and I’m twitchy.

        Something, I’m not sure what, got me rereading the Death by Silver and A Death at the Dionysus Club books by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold. Victorian-era London with magic. Two men who were school friends reconnecting, one a metaphysician for the police and one an investigator, cautious romance ensues as well as mystery and some supernatural threats. These had been out of print but are recently re-released and I understand there are supposed to be more.

      5. carcinization*

        I remember making a similar comment to this here before, but A Summer in Orcus was lovely and not horror. It’s possible it may be under Vernon rather than Kingfisher but the second is a pen name….

      6. Amory Blaine*

        I love T. Kingfisher, but am also not into horror! Her Clocktaur Wars duology and Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking are my favorites. Swordheart and the Paladin books are great. Very good and not horror: the Seventh Bride (bluebeard retelling), Bryony and Roses (beauty and the beast retelling), Thornhedge, Illuminations, Summer in Orcus, Jackalope Wives (short stories), Toad Words (short stories), the Raven and the Reindeer (retelling of the Snow Queen), Minor Mage.

        And I am SO excited about the new Murderbot!!! Thanks for reminding me that I have it to look forward to!

        1. Amory Blaine*

          Actually, on second thought, the Seventh Bride is pretty creepy. You might want to skip that one.

    7. word nerd*

      Lot of so-so reads for me this week, including The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane, which uses the premise of a lost Australian boy to talk about all these other characters who respond to the missing boy. It made me realize that I usually don’t like books with a huge cast of characters. I have trouble engaging with that many different characters even if the book is written well. That’s how I felt about books like Olive Kitteridge, The Candy House, and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      I just finished The Years of Salt and Rice by Kim Stanley Robinson.
      Interesting concept, but SO long. Neverending. It also had about 200% more philosophical and religious discussions than I am looking in reading for entertainment.
      After that I flew through Aunty Lee’s Delights: A Singaporean Mystery by Ovidia Yu. A cozy murder mystery, set in Singapore, and made me so hungry!

    9. BlueMeeple*

      I read The Birdcage Library this week, ( good, but a bit overlong), and The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett, ( excellent – a pantomime, epistolary novel, intrigue and scandal! :p ).

    10. Valancy Stirling*

      I finished Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie on Thursday and started The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Really enjoying it so far.

    11. Jay*

      I’ve just started The Olympian Affair by Jim Butcher, the second entry in the Cinder Spires series. It’s as good as I had hoped for!

      1. OtterB*

        Glad to hear it! I ordered it for my husband for his birthday later this month. He really liked the first one. I DNF’d the first one, not because I hated it but because I didn’t really get engaged. I should try it again.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      Audiobook: The White Lie by J. G. Kelly, narrated by Nick Biadon, which I chose because it’s centered on Scott’s tragic death on the way back from the South Pole. I enjoy polar-exploration tales, both non-fiction and fiction, though sometimes the fictional versions get a bit weird; this one’s setting up some kind of conspiracy of murder with regard to the deaths of Scott’s people, and… I’m not sure I really want to go there. But I like the narrator, and so far the story’s dealing well with snippets from the expedition itself and from the later life of Cherry Apsley-Garrard, to whom “the truth” (as left by the dying Scott) has been given…

      Non-fiction: A City on Mars, by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, an examination of whether we can – or should – make space colonies. (The authors have a lovely snarky/scientific style that I like very much.)

      Carrying-around book: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart, a fictionalized tale inspired by real-world Constance Kopp, who was the first female Under Sheriff in the United States, circa 1915.

      1. Kitry*

        If you like October Daye, you’ll like The Guild Codex by Annette Marie and The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        If you want some polar-exploration recommendations, I recently read Battle of Ink and Ice by Darrell Hartman and The Quickening by Elizabeth Rush. Both are non-fiction and very good.

        Battle of Ink and Ice is about the race to get to the north pole. Includes some of the 19th Century attempts, but the main focus is on Frederick Cook and Robert Peary’s competing claims to have been the first to reach the pole in the early 20th century and the competing newspapers that each backed one of the men.

        The Quickening is about the 2019 research expedition to Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. Rush touches a little on the history of exploration in Antarctica, and I’m reading through the endnotes now and deciding which of the books she mentions I want to put on my reading list.

    13. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      Trying my darnedest to get through The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Bronte) before I have to return it to the library.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Sorry you’re finding it a slog! I didn’t care for it in my youth – it lacked the over-the-top gothic-ness of other Bronte-sister novels – but once I had a couple of adult relationships under my belt I found it much more compelling. (I did find an excellent audiobook version; the narration helped quite a lot.)

    14. Dark Macadamia*

      I just listened to “One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter” by Scaachi Koul. I actually randomly came across one of the essays from it and thought it was so funny and relatable that I wanted to read more (It can be found online for free as “What I Learned from a Fitting-Room Disaster about Clothes and Life”). Some sections felt a little too “Feminism 101” for me but the personal stuff was delightful. The audiobook is cute because there are excerpts of emails from her dad between chapters, and he reads them for the audiobook version.

    15. Nervous Nellie*

      Some rabbit-hole reading for me this week. After binge-watching the riveting short Canadian drama series Slings & Arrows about a small town theater company that focuses on Shakespeare plays, I was compelled to pick up my weighty Shakespeare Complete Works and reread Macbeth and King Lear. I found myself reading most of it out loud – to myself!

      Then, to keep the theme, I found the Penguin Books ‘Modern Retellings Book List’ and of course found Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres (King Lear) there. Read that recently, so ordered The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson (A Winter’s Tale – another messy family drama, this time set in the UK and US in 2008). Gripped by it. And there are retellings in the list of fairy tales, the stories of Jane Austen, the Brontes, Homer, Cervantes. I may not surface for a long while!

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

      Feeling a bit sick, so taking a break from Michael Harriot’s *Black AF History*, but I am enjoying it so far! Just too many facts when my brain isn’t feeling perky. Doing a little comfort reading with Rex Stout’s *Some Buried Caesar*, one of my favorite books.

    17. Bluebell*

      I finished Jake Tappers All the Demons are Here- very fun for the 70s nostalgia, and then moved on to The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston. Now I’m rereading Rachel Harrison’s Crackle for fun. Tried to get into The Sunset Crowd because I usually enjoy Karin Tanabe, but it didn’t grab me.

    18. carcinization*

      Still savoring the last bit of Nayler’s The Mountain in the Sea, meanwhile I started reading Islington’s The Shadow of What Was Lost, which isn’t great literature or anything, and has some predictable parts, but I’m still finding it quite enjoyable. On the other hand, I should be re-reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane since we’re discussing it at book club on Thursday (I got it for Christmas when it came out and I’m sure I finished reading it in less than 2 hours since it’s so short), so hopefully I’ll do that tomorrow.

    19. chocolate muffins*

      I have almost finished The Light We Carry, which has been a nice book to read as I’m winding down for bed at night. I expected more of a memoir like Becoming but what this book actually is (more self-help-ish) is also good!

    20. noncommittal pseudonym*

      I started Anxious People, but just couldn’t get into it. All of the characters were irritating me, and I just wasn’t in the right mood for it. So, I gave up and read the most recent Phryne Fisher. Greenwood seems to have gotten her groove back after a couple of missteps. The last Corinna Chapman’s tone was just completely off, and I refuse to consider it canon.

    21. anxiousGrad*

      I just finished Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. It was a fun read and also dealt with some serious topics in between the action-y elements. It takes place in the 1950s and 1960s and the main character owns a furniture store, so I get the impression that Whitehead is a lover of mid-century modern furniture. My one criticism is that the female characters weren’t really well developed. They were all strong/independent/outspoken, but you don’t really get to know them or their motivations in the same way that you do the male characters.

    22. Nessness*

      Currently reading Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward. She’s one of my favorite authors and this book is no exception – her prose is so lyrical and beautiful.

    23. Ali + Nino*

      Just finished Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene, a memoir about his young daughter’s death in a freak accident. I tried starting a few weeks ago and couldn’t get into it but speed-read toward the end. I just felt like I needed a cry, and this helped.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I just finished the audiobook of Sourdough by Robin Sloan, it was very fun. I really needed a fun book! The depictions of hipster foodies and big tech were spot on!

    24. Falling Diphthong*

      The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a graphic novel (with copious–and I mean copious–explanatory footnotes) that starts with the actual history, discovers that their real-life endings are not at all what one wants in a rip-roaring tale, and comes up with further adventures.

      I found the further adventures more akin to Flatland, looking at concepts, rather than the rip-roaring battles with evil robots I expected. But recommended for the first part.

    25. Dwight Schrute*

      I finished ACOTAR! Now I’m waiting for Throne of Glass from the library. In the mean time I’m reading The Turn of the Screw

  13. Jackalope*

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

    I’ve been away for the last week so haven’t been able to play anything, but I’m looking forward to Final Fantasy once I get home.

    1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I just finished Judgment and… hoo. That ending is absolutely not for the faint of heart but it was definitely the way that story needed to end. I’m taking a snack break and then I’m going to start Like a Dragon: Gaiden but now I’m REALLY looking forward to Lost Judgment, which I bought not long before it went into the PS Plus library.

    2. Bit o' Brit*

      Husband has been playing Alan Wake 2 and it is fantastic, I’m just too jumpy to play a survival horror game myself. Remedy has a thing of working a rock-opera number into each game, though there may be two in this one? In any case, I’ve had the one we’ve reached stuck in my head for nearly a week now.

      Together we’re playing Baldur’s Gate 3, which would be near-perfect singleplayer, but couch co-op is frustrating. It’s almost more annoying to be halfway between “little brother” participant and full participant, e.g. most cutscenes and relationship-building with the other characters is a zero-sum game with player 1, others automatically centre player 1 regardless of who started it.

      1. anon24*

        Baldurs Gate 3 is so good. I love it single player but your right about multi-player. I’ve found that it’s fun when both parties already know the story and are just there to have fun. I have a game going with an online friend (we only get to play a few hours every few weeks) and we both are deep into our own single player campaigns (I’m on my 3rd) so we know the story, and as the main character his sorcerer character takes care of all the serious storyline moments while my rogue character runs around in the background stealing anything and everything she can get her hands on and generally causes chaos.

        1. Bit o' Brit*

          It would probably work better if our P1 (drow druid, “drowid” if you will) had better charisma and talky skills. He gets the warm welcome from the evil guys, then flubbs all the rolls my P2 would have proficiency in and I get annoyed we can’t switch. Though I’m also a rogue and sneak-attacking and pickpocketing while the drowid is talking to them is very fun.

          1. anon24*

            You can’t switch mid conversation, but your character should be able to go up and initialize the conversation and take over the important stuff!

    3. Vistaloopy*

      Jackalope, which Final Fantasy are you playing? Do you have a PS5? I’m a huge FF nerd and want my husband to get me a PS5 for Christmas, but I’m overwhelmed with all the options…disc or no disc? Slim or regular? Do I need an internal or external hard drive? Can I get a bundle with FFXVI? Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts/experiences!

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        Disc or no disc – a lot of recent releases have been digital-only, so it seems to be much less of a factor than previous console generations. A lot of the AAA games are 100gb+, too, so I’d prioritise whatever version offers the biggest hard drive.

      2. Jackalope*

        I’m playing the recently remastered Final Fantasy games that I think are the first 6? I’m playing in Switch, which has generally worked pretty well for me, but I’m more into the old school FF rather than the newer ones so I don’t know if you can find all of them on the PS5.

    4. Elle Woods*

      When our family gets together, we’ve been playing the card game Play Nine. It’s combines strategy and chance in a golf-related theme. No need to be a golf fan though. Easy to play and fun too.

  14. Wedding Bells*

    My brother is getting married next year and his fiancé, Emily, has asked me to be part of the bridal party. It’s going to be a large bridal party, nine of us on each side. My sister and I will both be bridesmaids for Emily, along with her two sisters, two cousins, and the rest, her friends. I have been a bridesmaid before for my friends where I knew everyone in the bridal party and that was really fun. But as the sister of the groom, I won’t know anyone aside from my own sister. She has gotten to know some of Emily‘s friends and family because she has gone to visit our brother and his fiancé a few times, while I have not been able to do so since they started dating and moved in together (they got together during Covid lockdowns and I haven’t had a chance to travel several states away to visit them, so I’ve only spent time with Emily on a few occasions when they’ve come to see our parents, who I physically live closer to and is an easy drive to get there).

    In addition to me not being a huge party and alcohol person and knowing that Emily and her friends celebrated her engagement with a party that went on till two in the morning and major hangovers the next day, I’m definitely feeling like I’m going to be the odd one out for just not knowing that many people and not being big into the party scene. Any tips for what to do when you are the odd one out in a wedding? Obviously, I want to be there to support my brother and I am honored that I was asked to be a bridesmaid when truthfully, I don’t know the bride terribly well. I do think I want to go to the bachelorette to be part of it and get to know people better, though Emily said that anyone who doesn’t want to go doesn’t have to go since we are all spread out over the country. I am good at making small talk and getting to know people, but worried that the only chance I’ll have to get to know the other bridesmaids is when they’ll be heavily drinking. any thoughts on what I should do to make this as not awkward as possible? Am I overthinking all this?

    1. Bo Peep*

      The other bridesmaids probably won’t notice or care that they haven’t really gotten to know you outside of when they were drunk. It’s not like you’ll be seeing them much afterwards. As long as you’re polite/cheerful/not judgy everyone will have a great time. My wedding experience has always been that people you met yesterday and will never see again somehow become your best friends for an evening, because the atmosphere is so lovely and celebratory (and I am NOT the extraverted type at all). My BIL got married in 2012 and I still remember how much I liked the other spouses of the bridal party. Haven’t seen a single one since.

    2. Seashell*

      Don’t worry that much about getting to know everyone. After the wedding, you might encounter Emily’s sisters, but probably not anyone else on any sort of regular basis. You all don’t have to be besties, and you probably won’t be.

      Also, unless people are really pounding shots, they’re going to be sober enough to converse early in the evening.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Always have a drink in your hand, preferably something that looks like it could have alcohol in it. When you’re talking to drunk people, just be an active, sympathetic listener. Whatever your affect usually would be (e.g., in response to a sad story vs. a funny anecdote), up your reactions by about 10%. They’ll love you.

    4. Viette*

      You’re overthinking it — or over-worrying, anyway. These are Emily’s friends and family who presumably all like Emily, and you like Emily too! If you run out of things to talk about you can always talk about Emily. They can tell you fun things about Emily and you can tell them fun things about your brother.

      Make a deal with yourself that if it reaches a stage where everyone else is incoherently drunk, you can just leave, and then go and have fun.

    5. Shiara*

      Keep in mind that it’s quite likely that her friends and her sisters/cousins don’t know each other all that well either. One of the fun things about being part of a large wedding party was meeting all these people from other stages of my friend’s life, including her future in-laws.

    6. Angstrom*

      You’ll be fine.
      If you’re at an occasion and feeling lost, one option is to transform into Helpful Person. There are always small tasks that need doing, and in the process of being useful you often meet like-minded people.

    7. Generic Name*

      Aw, you sound lovely. You absolutely won’t be the odd one out! Your brother is the groom! Your sister is also a bridesmaid, and your parents are the parents of the groom. Most weddings really aren’t a heavy party atmosphere with tons of obnoxiously drunk people, honestly. There will be plenty of sober or mostly sober people having a nice time. You’ll get to spend time with your family and you can make pleasant chit chat with the other members of the bridal party.

    8. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      I was a bridesmaid once. The others in the bridal party were the bride’s sister, the bride’s high school best friend, and the bride’s 14 year old cousin. I didn’t know any of them. I couldn’t have cared less that I didn’t know any of them.

      At the bridal shower, the bride’s sister went out of her way to give me detailed directions on how to get from the church where the wedding would take place to the reception hall. When I had a chance to say something, I said that I would just get in the car with the rest of the bridal party. The bride’s sister then said that she had completely forgotten that I was in the bridal party. I thought that was funny, because when she asked me for my share of the cost of the joint bridal shower gift for the bride from the bridal party, she remembered to ask me. I did not feel like the odd one out. I just didn’t care.

      At the wedding reception, I didn’t have a chance to get better acquainted with the sister or the high school best friend, because their significant others were groomsmen, and they spent all of their time with them. The 14 year old spent her time with her relatives. I didn’t care.

      I never saw the other three members of the bridal party after that. It never occurred to me that I should care about that.

    9. Chaordic One*

      It’s a mildly stressful situation and understandable that you might feel a bit uncomfortable. No, you don’t know the bride or her family, but you’ll probably get to know her (and possibly her family and friends) more in the future. You say you’re good at making small talk, which tells me you already have good social skills, but it can be a bit awkward attempting to socialize with someone who might be a bit tipsy. (They might not even remember socializing with you at the wedding in the future, but if so, it’s no big whoop.)

      My advice for when you are there, at the wedding and at the bachelor party, is to circulate and try to visit with as many people as possible, at least to introduce yourself and say, “hi!” (No you’re not going to remember everyone’s name or who they are.) My “go to” strategy for these situations is to then go back and visit with whoever else at the event might also seem to be alone, or a bit awkward or different. Often it is visiting with someone who is elderly, who has a disability, who is obviously LGBT, or (as someone who identifies as “white”) visiting with people of color when there aren’t very many of them at the event. (Sometimes these “loners” are truly socially awkward and that makes it difficult, or maybe they’re just crabby unhappy people and being around them is a drag. But you can always make an excuse and move on to other guests at the parties.) “It was lovely meeting you. I need to visit with some of the other guests now.”

    10. Carmelo said your face looks like a clock*

      I was just a groomsman for a friend and only knew one groomsman. It was fine! We were all similar guys so unsurprisingly we got on well. We’re also all in our late 30s, so no need to pretend we’ll be bros for life. If you’re worried about having a thing to do for the bachelorette you could try being group mom/prepper, making sure people are are drinking water, bringing backup supplies to the hotel, etc. I’m not recommending this if it isn’t your thing but it gave me somewhere to channel the entirely unnecessary anxiety I had.

    11. MissCoco*

      Since your sister is also in the wedding party, you’ll have a built-in buddy, but I’ve been in a few wedding parties where I am the odd one out, and every time one or two bridesmaids have gone out of their way to make me feel included and like I’m a part of the whole group, not to mention the bride!
      As others have said, not getting to know them well is fine, because you’ll probably not see them again often if ever.

    12. Festively Dressed Earl*

      You could start a social media group for the members of the wedding party to get to know each other (as long as the couple is cool with that). It’s likely you’re not the only one in this situation, and while it’s no substitute for in-person interaction, it’ll probably give you something to build on at the wedding gatherings.

  15. Jackalope*

    Thanks to everyone who provided suggestions for Boston! I just got back and am so happy to be home again, but I had a good time and youall definitely helped!

  16. Anon for This*

    I just went on my third date with a guy, which is the most dates I’ve ever had with someone. Since I don’t have much experience of my own, I’d like learn from y’alls experience. What red and green flags do you look for when getting to know someone romantically? What made you decide ‘yep, I want this person to be my person’ vs ‘nope, pass’? From what I’ve seen so far, we’re on the same page on the basics, so I just have to figure out if he himself is right.

    *If it matters, I am early 30s, so not young, just inexperienced romantically.

    1. Still*

      I feel like, absent things that give you a serious pause, you don’t need to figure out if he’s right as much as you just need to figure out if you’d like another date. You’ve seen each other three times, was it fun? Are you excited to see him again?

      One of my green flags was that when some of my friends were visiting, he immediately got excited and asked to cook for them. And when I managed to accidentally turn over a dish and spray sauce all over the floor, furniture and the wall, his first reaction was to come hug me and ask if I was okay.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes I would agree with this. You don’t need to decide now whether this is “your person”, that’s putting a lot of pressure on things. Get to know him, see if you enjoy each other’s company, you can take things gradually. There’s no science to deciding whether you are right for each other longterm, it’s not really a matter of being alert for specified red and green flags. Trust your feelings.

      2. Ranon*

        Exactly this. The main green flag is “enjoyed seeing this person enough that you’d like to see them again.”

        Dating is presented in our culture as part of this big relationship system but I think the system gets in the way of the basics and the ability to enjoy just spending time with someone who you are enjoying getting to know. Unless you have some inheritance you will only receive if you are married by the end of the year, just let yourself enjoy the experience and don’t sweat the meta analysis so much.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Consideration for others, manners, similar interests and whether things are easy and fun, whether there’s an attraction. Some people think asking about relationship philosophies and life expectations at this stage is a bit early, but by the third date I jump right in: how do they handle disagreements, what do they see their life looking like, what’s their deal breakers, etc. I think (I think this is more relevant to straight women, so YMMV) it’s important to figure out if they’re a competent adult, or if they’re looking for someone to manage them emotionally and domestically. Is this someone who takes responsibility?

    3. E*

      I think 3 dates in is too early to even be thinking about if this is your person. This is the stage for seeing if you’re enjoying his company right now, first of all. But yes always be on alert for red flags — this early on, they probably wouldn’t be directed at you, but things like does he seem to get angry easily? Rude to servers? Drinks more than you feel comfortable with?

      And basic compatibility stuff can start to come out, hopefully somewhat naturally, in the next few months–things like stance on politics, guns, having children, spending habits, monogamy, religion, sexual compatibility, how you approach disagreements, etc.

      In my experience there wasn’t one “this is my person” moment, more a desire to keep seeing him which gradually deepened into more and more serious levels of commitment.

      Most important I think is to keep paying attention to how you feel around this person

    4. KathyG*

      In no particular order…

      Green flags:
      1. He is employed, and fiscally responsible (i.e., pays his bills on time)
      2. He is self-sufficient, in that he can cook well enough to feed himself (and you too sometimes), AND clean up after himself too.
      3. He gets your jokes, and you get his.
      4. He shows interest in you and your life, not just to be his audience.
      5. Your interests and his have some overlap. You don’t have to like all the same things, but some similarities are nice.
      6. Your friends like him, and vice versa.
      7. He has a healthy relationship with his family of origin.
      8. You can relax and be yourself with him; you don’t have to be on your “best behaviour” all the time.
      9. He respects your boundaries, and has healthy ones of his own.
      10. He is NOT currently married, or recently separated.
      11. His housekeeping standards are similar to yours.

      Red flags:
      1. Things get intense FAST. Trust your gut on this one: if your feeling is that things are moving too quickly, either emotionally or physically, then they are.
      2. He calls all his exes bitches, and tells you at great length how they mistreated him.
      3. He doesn’t like or respect ANYONE in his family.
      4. He doesn’t like any of your friends. You don’t like any of his friends.
      5. He doesn’t like anyone in your family.
      6. He expects his interests to become your interests, but doesn’t share any of yours.
      7. His finances are a mess.
      8. He has ongoing addiction issues.
      9. His last serious relationship ended recently enough that his ex is a frequent topic of conversation.
      10. He doesn’t like your animal companion (if you have one), or your animal companion doesn’t like him.
      11. He isn’t _quite_ divorced yet, for . But it’s not his fault.
      12. Disagreements get ugly fast.

      Wow, that got long quickly!

      1. Jackalope*

        Quick note as well on one of the red flags. Sometimes you might meet someone and it doesn’t take long to know that they’re the right person – I knew within about 2 months that my now husband was likely going to be the one I stayed with. But even if that happens (and it might or might not; there’s a wide range of experiences in this area!), it’s a red flag if the other person pushes you to make a lot of commitment right away. You generally want to have at least several months to let the body drugs wear off a bit and see what the other person is like when you’re less infatuated; if they aren’t willing to do that, and are pushing you to jump into a close relationship right away, that at the very least is a yellow flag and probably red.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I like most of your lists, but I have to disagree with this:

        He doesn’t like or respect ANYONE in his family.

        Some people come from very toxic, abusive families. It is absolutely okay for them to not like or respect anyone in your family if your family doesn’t deserve that respect.

        1. Cordelia*

          yes that’s the only one I disagreed with too. I didn’t like anyone in my previous partners family either. They were awful, abusive people. I do like my family, and he liked them too, still does. You can’t choose the family you are born into, and you don’t have to like them.

        2. Bit o' Brit*

          If a red flag meant “immediately run” then I agree, but what a red flag really means is “warning, this is a bad sign”. Someone who has any one of those listed traits could still be a wonderful partner, given the right support and/or a desire to change. It’s when there are multiple warnings that the safest option to preserve your own sanity and wellbeing is to leave.

      3. Arts Akimbo*

        I would add to the Red Flags list “Treats servers badly.” I find that if someone treats restaurant staff poorly or as “lesser,” it is an accurate tell on their character.

    5. Bit o' Brit*

      For me it was just feeling comfortable. I have severe social anxiety, so spending time with anyone (friends, family, dating) is always at least a little uncomfortable. I fell asleep on my now-husband’s shoulder on our first date, which didn’t come across great to him, but it was because I didn’t have enough anxiety/adrenaline to counteract the poor night’s sleep I’d had in anticipation of meeting so was a very good thing as far as I was concerned!

      Not that we went from date-one to together-forever, long story short another guy wanted to be exclusive, now-husband backed off, it didn’t last and we reconnected a few months later.

      In comparison, the guy who seemed to really like that I was inexperienced and anxious gave me a really bad gut feeling. Which turned out to be justified when he went off at me over text for saying I was seeing someone else exclusively.

    6. Sloanicota*

      For me, three dates is about the right time to stop being perfectly accommodating and see what happens. What if you suggest something a little different than what he proposes? What if you can’t meet again as quickly as he’d like? What if you admit you don’t like something he likes, or you admit you really, really like something he doesn’t? Is this safe and fine and feels normal to do, or is this suddenly high pressure and weird?

    7. Generic Name*

      Before you get into red flags versus green flags, do you like the guy? As in do you enjoy spending time with him? Do you want to see him again? Assuming you’re not ace, are you attracted to him? I remember going on a date with a guy where I had a perfectly nice time. Great conversation. We seemed to have lots in common. But I was zero attracted to him. I would say that while it’s good to be compatible and watch out for red flags, a good relationship needs more than that.

      It took me some time to decide my now husband is my person. While we were dating, I focused on if I wanted another date with him early on, and then I decided if I wanted him to be my boyfriend or not. Then I decided that I wanted to see him more than once a week. And then I decided that I wanted him to move in. And then I decided I wanted him to marry me.

      It’s easy to get very cerebral and do checklists and examine pros and cons if you’re a logically minded person like me, but relationships are about feelings, ultimately. So the feelings have to be there in addition to the compatibility and green flags and absence of red flags.

      I’m saying all this because your post isn’t talking about how cute he is and how excited you are to see him again. I’m not saying you don’t feel those things, but your post as written reads more like, “This guy isn’t wholly objectionable. How do I know if I want to be with him forever?” and that’s rushing ahead while also missing some things. If that makes sense.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Dating, particularly through the apps, is sooo hard because there is this weird sense that, since you’re both actively looking for a partner, you’re either “in” or you’re “out” pretty quickly. I have to ask myself on a first date (hopefully while I’m listening to the person talking): 1) can I ever imagine wanting to kiss this person? (that is easier for me to answer than “do I like them” or “do I want to sleep with them” because I’m pretty slow to warm up. 2) Am I actually enjoying our time together (not a mental projection in my head, our actual face to face interaction) – discounted some first date nervousness/awkwardness/stiffness – and would I actively WANT a second date? (rather than just “not minding” a second date if the other person wants, which is a yellow flag). I also like Captain Awkward’s rule, “is this person at least as cool as my friends?”

        1. Generic Name*

          I agree. I went on a few dates with a guy who liked to send me a barrage of personal questions via text. Like he was vetting me. It felt invasive and made me feel uncomfortable. I really appreciated my husband’s perspective on online dating. He saw it as a way to meet people to date. Just an introduction. Once you were introduced and met up, dating proceeded normally after that. We got to know each other at a normal pace. We didn’t talk about if we wanted kids or not until we were a couple. It definitely did not come up on the first date.

      2. Festively Dressed Earl*

        This. The big question after the first date is whether you’re looking forward to spending time with this person or if you’re just dating because you’re ‘supposed to’.

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

      Red flags — being rude or mean or entitled to service staff (or anyone). Being dismissive.
      Green flags — being kind, being helpful, being nurturing (not just to me but to anyone). If I’m upset about something, taking me seriously and listening.

      All the advice above by commenters above is excellent as well.

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

        Oh, also, if they push your boundaries — just !@#$!@#$@ing leave and don’t look back.

        I’m having this problem now with a dear ex of mine who is now seeing someone who keeps pushing her boundaries about alcohol. She has had firm boundaries in place for *decades* about not being around people when they use drugs or alcohol and not having her romantic partners use drugs or alcohol at all whether they’re in her presence or not. Those boundaries have been in place because otherwise, she’s afraid she’ll think it’s okay and start to use again (she’s been clean and sober for over 35 years).

        One of her current partners keeps pushing that boundary, and I’m a little concerned A. that heaven forbid, she’ll wind up using again and B. that whether she uses again or not, this person’s insistence on using in her presence against her stated boundary suggests that this is not a good person to be in a relationship with.

        Just dump people the first time they trample on a boundary and don’t get yourself into situations like this.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      Not specifically romantic and sort of hard to put into words, but I think a red flag in general is when somebody always subtly manages to put themselves in the right and you in the wrong or plays down any time you are right. Like they’ll imply or outright say you made a lucky guess when you were correct about something because you had information they didn’t. Or they’ll accuse you of being a know-it-all. If you’re playing a game and you win, you were “lucky” (and they’ll say this in a tone that implies that you had to be really lucky to beat somebody who is better at the game than you are). If they win, it was their strategy.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        This is a perceptive and helpful observation.
        “sort of hard to put into words” — Actually, I think you expressed it very well. You’ve described one of those “is this really happening, or is this just something I should explain away?” subtle indicators that the relationship may (well, probably DOES) have some problems. They may not be enormous, too big to be solved problems but they are the kind that should be discussed (kindly, calmly) not dismissed.

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

        Yeah, this is a great one about subtle put-downs. I remember where I had been a little attracted to a guy I’d seen on and off at a social group for a few years. We were out to dinner with the group when he found out that I had more education than he did, and he made a several put-downs that showed he was insecure about that fact. By the time dinner was over, that crush was dead as a doornail.

        If someone is insecure about or has to put you down for some good thing that you do or have done, run!

    10. Jean (just Jean)*

      Hearty agreement with Squirrel Nutkin: “All the advice above by commenters above is excellent as well.” But also a disclaimer: I’m writing in as someone returning to dating after the end of a multi-decade marriage. My spouse died after a long illness. So my viewpoint is experienced and specific. I’m also not wrestling with the question of having more/any children (in my case, I have one already) because I’m now too old physically and life-wise. (This probably won’t be an issue because my potential partners and I are all seeking partners in our same age range.)

      Re possible confusion from physical attraction or intomacy (Jackalope: “You generally want to have at least several months to let the body drugs wear off a bit and see what the other person is like when you’re less infatuated…”): I am seriously considering about avoiding all physical contact for the first few weeks/1-2 months. Hopefully this would help me make serious decisions without hormonal distraction. It *might* also avoid the pain of detaching after a relationship ends.

      Finally, I agree with Sloanicota’s comment that the online dating apps push people to make yes/no decisions sooner than they might find comfortable. I try to fight this by being as clear as possible with myself and others. This means– at the early stages — telling all possible partners that they are not currently the only candidate. (Hence, for me, avoiding intimacy at this point.) Gulp! Yikes on bikes! Incredibly awkward and maybe presumptuous—but not saying anything seems unfair. Thoughts? Or is this just me?

      1. Sloanicota*

        To be honest, most people who meet online dating probably assume you are seeing other people – and you should assume they are too – unless there’s a conversation to the contrary. I find that conversation happens between a month to three months in typically if it feels like it might be getting serious.

        1. WestsideStory*

          As it should be. The best way to find out if someone is really good for you is to comparison shop – don’t stop trying to meet and date other people. Three dates is far too early for exclusivity, in my opinion. Having other irons in the romantic fire is your best defense against getting too caught up with a single individual.

          1. Jackalope*

            That’s interesting. When I was looking at advice on dating, 3-4 dates was usually the point where exclusivity was recommended if that was your goal. Everyone will have different experiences – dating is very much NOT a one size fits all activity – but I generally found that 3 dates was the number I needed to figure out if I was ready to limit myself to one person and pursue a more serious relationship or if it was time to move on.

    11. Emmy Noether*

      Green flags:
      – you can’t keep yourself from grinning when thinking of him or speaking of him to your friends. Sounds cliché, but has always been true for me when I fell in love. Or if it’s too early for you to fall in love, at least really look forward to the next date.
      – he gracefully accepts when you say no (to an activity or location, to a time for a date, and especially to intimacy you’re not ready for) and is cool and normal after. Doesn’t negotiate, or beg, or sulk. No need to say no on purpose as a test, just observe what he does when it happens naturally.

    12. Anon for This*

      Thank you all for the wonderful advice! He’s cool so far, I just want to have some things to watch out for going forward. And I am looking forward to our next date. :)

      I will come back to this section repeatedly, I think. Really helpful lists from everyone.

  17. Nervous smiler*

    I sometimes have a small nervous smile. I’m told it looks like a smirk. I say nervous smile because it happens in conversations where I’m nervous or uncomfortable. Sometimes I can feel when I do it and sometimes I can’t.

    I’ve been trying to work on it for years without success. I’m super paranoid about it all the time, which seems to makeit worse! (but making conscious effort in the past not to think about it also hasn’t helped either…)

    I’m at the point that I want to seek professional help to control the smile, but can’t think what time of person this would be. Any ideas?

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      Mindfulness meditation practice that includes a body scan? Practice it daily so you have the skill to give yourself a quick once-over at any time, not in a judgy way but just an awareness way. You may find that you can feel it on your face, and then you can be intentional about changing it (or keeping it if you choose, it’s up to you! For all you know, some situations may call for that expression!). One of the first things I learned about myself when I started doing mindfulness meditation was that I hold a lot of tension in my face, and I can get some very odd looks on my face when I’m feeling anxious. I think (I mean, I *think*) my RBF is a lot less than it used to be.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I would focus less on being aware of when you’re making the expression, and more on being aware of what you’re feeling. When you become aware of being nervous or uncomfortable, try to make a conscious decision about what will increase your comfort level. Sometimes that might be powering through, like if it’s an uncomfortable conversation with your boss. But other times you might decide that you don’t have to keep talking to someone who’s giving you the creeps in one way or another. Other times you might decide to address the discomfort head-on.

      Captain Awkward and this site both have good scripts, suggestions and strategies for dealing with uncomfortable situations in general. It might help you to read some of those, and role-play in your head a little bit. Prepare yourself for concrete ways to feel more in control of those nerve-wracking situations.

      Once you start doing this, you’ll probably do the nervous smiling less because there will be times that you’ll end the interaction one way or another. You might do it less even in situations that you choose to remain in, because you’ll be more aware of your options and you’ll know that you chose to continue the conversation, as opposed to being trapped in it.

      For the remaining times when you still are aware of the “smirk” – I am giving the side eye to whoever told you this – practice replacing it with an expression of your choice. I suggest a small frown, like at the level that indicates concentration. Frowns are quite easy to generate volitionally, and they will literally wipe that smirk off your face.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Is it worth just owning it? I know, I know but hear me out! Instead of trying to police it, or banning yourself from doing it (which, I think may have a chance of putting too much pressure on yourself and making it worse), just kind of airily own up to it in situations were you feel it might be relevant, and hopefully diffuse it. When I was younger, I did this with blushing, and also with being nervous when speaking in certain situations (wobbly voice and red hot blushing both came right out of the blue all the time, which definitely isn’t a factor any more). I’d either say “I’m a bit nervous right now, but bear with me” or “I might look a bit flushed right now, but don’t worry, that’s just how my face rolls” or “Full disclosure, sometimes I get a bit pink in the face; this is normal for me”. I would have even more success with just telling it to myself and not saying it to anyone else like “your face doesn’t have to be perfect, if what you’re saying is good” or “you’re not the only person in the world who has less than perfect composure”, or “people aren’t unkind or judgy about you, so don’t assume they are!” It is a bit trickier when your nervous smile can be mistaken for a smirk, especially if you can’t always feel it, but if you can feel it and you feel it’s appropriate try saying: “You know sometimes I have this nervous smile, which I think is cropping up right now, but ignoring that; what I actually want to express to you is…” I’m really curious who told you it looks like a smirk though, as you’d really want to trust that person’s opinion. I think lots of therapists could help with this; possibly one who specialises in assertiveness?

    4. Jackalope*

      One thing as well if you have something else you’d rather do instead (like the frown someone else mentioned), is to give yourself feedback on that and ignore the nervous smile. When you think about it and focus on it you’re also giving it more attention than other things which helps to ingrain that habit more. If you can ignore it and, for example, focus on the replacement behavior, then that makes it easier to switch what you’re doing. So for example, assuming you go with the frown instead (not saying you should, substitute whatever you go with): each time you’re nervous and give your nervous smile, ignore it. Each time you give a frown instead, give yourself positive feedback (“That’s right, that’s it,….” Whatever works for you). This can be inside your head only (you might feel weird congratulating yourself on a frown in an anxiety-inducing conversation!), or you can practice in front of a mirror or with a friend or whatever works.

      You may well also want to do more to deal with this since it sounds like you feel pretty self-conscious, but I encourage you to use this as a part of your toolkit.

    5. Laser99*

      I had something like that and my solution was to explain it. “I have this odd habit of smiling at inappropriate times, it’s a nervous tic I’m working on.”

    6. Courageous cat*

      Haha, I’ve had bosses tell me this too. Thankfully I’m rarely *that* uncomfortable so it doesn’t happen more than maybe once a year, but I’ve started to pick up on it some. When I get told someone dies, my face automatically does it, and I’ve started to catch it. If someone scolds me, same thing.

      My advice is just to try to be cognizant of how your face feels, but honestly I don’t worry about it much. If you’re that uncomfortable that you’re nervously smiling a lot then maybe there’s more going on anxiety-wise? Otherwise it’s just a weird tic of sorts, and such is life.

    7. 1LFTW*

      Scotch tape.

      I tend to contract my eyebrows when I’m concentrating, and I was in a performance for which I was singing. I needed to relax my face in order to relax my voice or something; and I needed to not be scowling when my character wasn’t supposed to be angry/annoyed/whatever. A friend who was giving feedback suggested rehearsing my lines/songs with a piece of scotch tape on my forehead so I’d feel when my brows were contracting. It helped me a lot, at least temporarily.

      You could try the same thing on your cheeks near the outside corners of your lips?

  18. CatMom*

    Some cat advice please!

    We have effectively trained our cats to wake us up because they get fed first thing. We have Gilly and Bob siblings. Bob is very polite and will miaow a bit once it reaches feeding time (7am). Gilly will get hungry any time from about 6 and start asking for food.

    Assume for now that an auto feeder isn’t an option (they are on mostly wet food & also Gilly will inhale all food available, so we use microchip feeders to make sure she can’t eat all of Bobs food). Also assume they have free run of the bedroom at night (if not due to house layout we’d have to shut them in a small room downstairs and not willing to do that/overall evenings are less stressful if they’re in the room with us).

    Gilly likes to run across the top of the bed above our heads as part of her morning wake up routine… (this is mostly preferable to her running over us, which is another tactic..). I have longish hair and sleep with it tied up or plaited, so fairly often she will run close enough to my head that she stands on a loose bit and pulls it out. This a) hurts so I wake up and b) no doubt contributes to the messy split ends/short bits of hair on the top of my head!

    Any advice for how to stop her doing this or strategies welcome. Impossible to google because ofc cats pulling their own hair out is a much more common problem…

    1. Gracie*

      Short-term solution, could you sleep wearing a silk bonnet like the ones designed for curly hair? You might still get claws snagged in it, but it would protect your hair from rogue cats?

      The long-term solution would probably be slowly retraining them to accept a feeding time that isn’t “as soon as you get up” since they’re associating 1. human awake with 2. immediate food, and sometimes adding additional steps (human awake, making coffee, turning the TV on, having a shower… then food) can move their urgency to be associated with a different step of your morning routine than just “awake”. But sometimes that never works, or can take years, so.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Toss her off the bed whenever she does the thing you don’t like.

      Thus did Destructobot learn not to sprint across our heads.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Would you consider switching to feeding them at night? To be honest mine free-feeds but I always top up the bowl before bed so she’ll be in the other room when I shut the door and sleep kitty free (there are white noise machines if meowing is a problem) but I have been called pretty heartless by my pet-loving friends. My dog also sleeps downstairs. My sleep is very important to me!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Sign me up on team heartless (to cats at least) – My rule for ten years has been no cats in the bedroom :) On the plus side, since the current batch has never been allowed in, they don’t seem to care, so no meowing! (Let’s not talk about the dogs though.)

      2. CatMom*

        They do already get fed in the evening too. My partner is a helicopter cat dad :p I have lost the battle over having them in the bedroom (but they’re family!!) & tbh it is ‘fine’ most of the time/they are cute at the point we’re going to sleep…

      3. Generic Name*

        Yeah, this current set of cats I decided to feed them in the evening rather than in the morning. They get free fed dry food but they get a can of wet food when I get home from work/5 pm if someone is home already. Sure, sometimes they yowl for food an hour or two early, but at least it doesn’t wake me up at an ungodly hour.

        1. Sloanicota*

          The trick to changing the schedule with pets, in my experience, is to make it MORE pleasant at least at first. So instead of *not feeding* them in the morning, you feed them TWICE one day, and the next day it’s SPECIAL MORNING FOOD. This is also how I get my dog to let me delay the morning walk on weekend days. I break his breakfast into two meals and feed him twice – the second meal is usually when we would be setting out on the walk. This distracts him and buys me an extra 30 minutes or so.

    4. kina lillet*

      When she runs on your head and wakes you up say “ow” in the saddest voice imaginable. Then either put her on the floor, or turn your back and ignore her, pretending to sleep if necessary.

      Also seconding the suggestion of sleeping in a nightcap of sorts for a little bit.

      I’d also recommend tying the feeding routine firmly to something other than you getting out of bed. Can it be step 5 in your morning routine instead of step 2? What about setting an alarm for like twenty minutes after you normally get up, and that’s her feeding alarm?

    5. Not A Manager*

      As soon as she starts pestering you, get up and shut her in the small downstairs room until breakfast time. In the short term this will ruin your sleep for the rest of the morning, but she will probably learn not to bug you.

    6. Kathenus*

      The biggest thing, from my perspective, is to NEVER feed them if they wake you up or otherwise exhibit behavior you don’t want to try to get you to feed them. You may not be able to control (for now, anyway) them waking you, but you have total control over what you do next. Unfortunately for this you sometimes have to play the long game.

      When I first got parrots, I heard all the stories that they start screaming at daybreak and such. Not being a morning person and living in an apartment, that wasn’t going to work for me. But a combination of light blocking curtains and completely ignoring the noise until they had been quiet for a certain period of time (which gradually increased in duration), they pretty quickly learned that it wasn’t effective, but quiet got me to come out and interact with them.

      A few years ago I got my first cat, and same horror stories about them waking you up at the crack of dawn for food. So from the very beginning, I got her used to the fact that feeding her is the last thing I do in my morning routine before going downstairs. So I get up, get dressed and ready, fill outdoor bird feeders, etc. – and only then does she get fed. It can be anywhere from 15 minutes to close to an hour after I get up depending on the day. It’s worked great.

      So since the behavior is already happening, I’d suggest staying in bed and pretending to be asleep, give them absolutely no attention for having woken you. Then after they’ve left you alone for a period of time (which gets longer over time), you can ‘wake up’ and give them attention. And switching from feeding them as soon as you get up to further into your morning routine will likely help too. Good luck.

    7. WS*

      They need a different “food is happening now” signal, because right now you’ve trained Gilly to associate humans getting up with food, so she will try to make humans get up to get food. I managed to retrain my food-loving little man with a bell, Pavlov-style! Whenever I was about to feed him, I’d ring the bell and he would come running, and he soon learned that no bell means no food, no matter how much he begged. I varied the time of night feeding a bit before I started working on the morning feed, but it worked.

  19. LGP*

    Any advice for going to the dentist after not seeing one for a long time?
    Because of a number of factors (anxiety, finances, moving abroad), I haven’t been to a dentist in about 10 years. I know that’s not good, and I feel ashamed about it. I haven’t really had any issues during this time, but I’m sure I have some cavities by now. I know it’s important to go, but I’m very self-conscious and nervous that they’ll criticize me for not having been to a dentist for so long. (And I can’t say I’d blame them, because I know I should have gone). So I guess my question is, has anyone been in a similar situation? How did you motivate yourself to go, and did the dentist make you feel bad when you finally did go? Thanks for any advice.

    1. Hypatia*

      Most dentists and hygienists are lovely- they will just be happy that you come in now! They’ll probably offer suggestions on how to take better care of your teeth going forward. Don’t worry – they are not looking to shame you.
      I would get recommendations from friends about good dentists. When you make your appointment, mention to the receptionist that you haven’t been in a while ; the response to that will help judge how the office will treat you.
      Motivate yourself to go by knowing the longer you wait, the more difficult and expensive it will be to fix!

      1. Hypatia*

        I did take a break from going to the dentist once. I had a bad experience once with dental work- sort of my fault as I didn’t tell them something was getting very painful while they worked on my tooth – I was too shy andjust wanted it over with. when I finally went back , to a new dentist after a move, they were so kind and gentle as possible. They told me to signal if things start to hurt. They made it so easy to return regularly. So make sure your pick a dentist office where patients are treated well- it makes a huge difference.

      2. Denim*

        Agree. You’re definitely not the only one that’s been in this situation – there is no need to be ashamed. It’s possible that you don’t have any cavities. A good dentist practice will not criticize you at all. I think Hypatia’s recommendation to mention that you haven’t been in a while and seeing how they respond is a good idea. I once had the displeasure of speaking to a receptionist who was extremely horrified and judgmental about me not partaking in regular appointments for something else, which I still think of as incredibly unhelpful and lacking in wisdom. So. Should you encounter someone like that, just keep moving and don’t let it discourage you from calling someone else.

        1. Denim*

          I will add that you can tell them that you are anxious about going in, you can ask them to be extra gentle and topically numb you.

          1. DannyG*

            Nitrous oxide is your best friend. I had a bad experience as a child and later, after a decade of caring for my invalid (late) wife I finally went to a dentist I knew from church. The hygienist did 1/2 of my teeth at a time and they gave me Nitrous to ease the anxiety. From there it was fairly easy to get back into the routine.

      3. E*

        +1 and in addition to telling the receptionist, you might want to say something to dentist/hygienist before they even begin (when you might start feeling too vulnerable )– “I’m embarrassed it took me so long to come and nervous you’re going to judge me. Thank you in advance for understanding this is hard for me and for anything you can to do help me feel comfortable” is totally reasonable and should prevent any stray inadvertent shaming comments! Good luck and be proud of yourself for facing the fears

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Long times between dental visits are so common, most dentists should be super used to it. A lot of people are afraid of dental work, and frankly, a lot of people can’t afford to go as often as is recommended, because dental insurance (even for people who have it) doesn’t cover much and dentists are expensive. (I have a $18,000 mouth, of which dental insurance paid about $800, AND massive dental phobia, so I don’t go as often as I should either.) If you have a driver, you could ask about sedation if you think that would help. Some do IV or nitrous, mine does triazolam which is great and cheap but knocks me for a loop for most of the day so I have to have a babysitter who confiscates my phone and doesn’t let me do anything. :-P (last time I picked up a crochet project and crocheted three hexagons that were perfect to the pattern I was working on … except that they only had five sides each.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes, the last time I went the dentist sort-of pushed something very expensive that I wasn’t sure was necessary, and rather than deal with that like an adult I just avoided ever going back, sigh. It hasn’t been ten years but I still need to get back to it this year.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, I have been in a similar situation.

      A local dentist advertised as good with nervous people, which he in fact was. His hygienist was the one who told me that x-rays would be painful as I had bumps in my upper and lower palate–having someone acknowledge rather than minimize pain is so important to feeling safe in a medical setting.

      Over time and good experiences with him, I became much less anxious. When he retired I did not like the person who bought the practice and switched to my kids’ family dentist. And that kid dentist was the second we had tried, because the first was not very reassuring, and when my daughter said “But I feel like Grandma, like what if I switch doctors and the new one is also bad?” I was like “We will be finding you a new dentist because lordy is that not the lesson I want you to learn about seeking medical care.”

      I would check for local recommendations, or for offices that promote themselves as good with people who fear dentists. And then tell them what is going on with you so they can accommodate. And remember that if the first one you try is making the anxiety worse instead of better, you can go to a completely different dentist next time.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’ve had all sort of unpleasant and expensive things done to my teeth as a teenager, so as an adult, I took moving to another country as the perfect excuse to avoid dentists. Which brought me in the same situation as you last spring. I realised that a check-up would cost significantly less than in my home country, so why not make sure everything was ok.

      I had a boring reply prepared for the inevitable moment they would ask when I had my last visit (something like “oh, don’t remember how long, just didn’t get round to it for a while”), and it worked perfectly – no follow up or shaming from them. This was all I needed – it was a perfectly bland and uninteresting interaction. I’m glad I did it, because at least now I know for sure there are no dental issues lurking around, despite the long break. And a few months later, when I had a mouth issue my GP couldn’t give me an appointment for, it was really easy to get seen quickly by the dentist because I was already registered with the clinic.

    5. Bibliovore*

      You are not alone. I hadn’t seen a dentist for almost ten years. When I did turn myself in at age 28 I had an enormous amount of shame.
      Do not blame yourself. When I was 29, the dentist that I went to discovered that the novacaine DID NOT work on me. I have a connective tissue disorder. There are special protocols for people like me.
      Turns out OF Course, I was afraid to go to the dentist!

      1. Ooooph*

        In a real similar boat to you and many others in this thread here! Hearing that my reasons for avoiding the dentist to that point ($, pain, prior negative experience, shame around not being on top of it before) were not, in fact, silly or shameful helped a lot. Spelling out why I still wanted care, in spite of those real hurdles, has helped too.

        This thread is honestly such a balm for the shame piece! Dental care is fraught for many people and for many reasons. Seeing others’ stories, my first impulse is compassion, not judgment. Working to apply that to myself, too!

    6. Dentistry anxiety*

      Adding to the chorus of people assuring you this not uncommon. I went ten years at one point, too. When I finally *had* to see someone, I was terrified and a bit ashamed of myself for being such a chicken. But my dentist and all her staff were lovely, and also very explicit about understanding dentistry fears and how to accommodate them.

      I’ll leave you with the life-changing thing my dentist said at my first visit: “All you have to do is come through the door. We’ve got it from there.” This has been my mantra for dentist and doctor’s appointments for the last several years. It really helps.

    7. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Remember, the dentist works for you, not the other way around. You don’t have to explain or apologize. If they say anything about you should have been to one sooner, just say “Yep, probably!” in a cheerful way. It took me decades, and reaching the breaking point with a crappy doctor, to realize that I was in charge. Anyone who tries to health shame me gets fired.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I am a patient at the local dental school and have had several student dentists. They have all been lovely. When I ask them why they are going into dentistry, they have all said some version of they want to help people. One guy said he wanted to relieve pain and I thought that was one of the best career goals I have ever heard.

      I think most dentists are pretty nice and they really do want to help – not to scold.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Another voice for the chorus of “this is normal.” I didn’t go for 4 years and it ended up being fine despite how ashamed I felt. Be prepared that they might need to do multiple cleanings. My first appt was like a new patient day where they did x-rays and some other exam stuff, then I came back for part 1 of the cleaning, then uh… I realized the time for part 2 wasn’t going to work and waited til the last minute to cancel and haven’t rescheduled, so even after getting over the “it’s been so long” hump I’m still embarrassed, but I will get back to a routine eventually and I really do feel much better having done anything at all.

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      I would recommend crowd-sourcing dentist recs from your friends and/or co-workers. Even though there are some scammer dentists out there, there are also some real gems, and your network will be able to highlight some potential gem dentists for you. Obviously, you want a good dentist because why would you want a bad one? But if you have not been in years and probably need work done, you also want to be sure that all the work you have done is actually necessary work, and not someone asking you to do unnecessary work just because they can convince your insurance to partially cover it (and you to pay the rest).

    11. Courageous cat*

      I googled “anxiety dentist” in my area and found a guy who specialized in people with dental anxiety. We had a consultation before even having the exam and he assuaged all my fears, then I did the exam with nitrous which helped tremendously.

      This was about 10 years ago. Now, I go to a regular dentist every 6 months and it’s dead easy because I’m just doing constant maintenance and it’s free with my dental insurance. Don’t need nitrous now, don’t even think about it, zero anxiety these days. So my advice is once you get a full cleaning, make the next appointment *at the end of your current appointment* so you just get in the habit. It’s so much easier to keep your teeth healthy if you just commit to that 1 hour twice a year.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        20 years on, there’s a big improvement for me when I get novocaine for a filling replacement–I think I used to be pumping so many anxiety chemicals that the combination with novocaine would leave me kind of punchy for the rest of the day. Now it’s just reminding myself not to stop at the grocery store because I will suddenly realize at the checkout that I feel all drooly.

    12. SofiaDeo*

      If there is a dental school/dental hygienist school near you, they would love love love to have someone like you!

    13. Windward*

      I once took a 4 year break. I don’t have anxiety, but I was going thru some tough times and couldn’t deal with even making an appointment. I was so embarrassed and said something to the dentist and she was totally cool, said not to worry about it, etc. I think they’re used to people not coming in for years. But I was so glad I finally went, and you will be too!

      1. LGP*

        Thank you everyone for your kind replies and reassurances that I’m not alone. It’s been very encouraging to read. I am going to start looking for a good-with-anxious-patients dentist. :)

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

      I would just own it from the outset. Just start with it “I haven’t been to the dentist in at least a decade for a variety of reasons and so my teeth probably need some help.” Boom! Cats out of the bag and everyone just moves forward. I work in healthcare (though, not dental) and we see all sorts of folks who should have accessed care & didn’t. We just move forward. I think it helpful all around (and appreciate) when patients just out and out admit they should have come to see me earlier. It’s starts things off with both of us being on the same side, so to speak.

  20. The Other Dawn*

    I’ll be going on a Caribbean cruise at the end of January with my sisters, a friend, and my niece. We’re sailing from Fort Lauderdale and will visit Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Cozumel; and Princess Cays, Bahamas (the cruiseline’s private resort). I’m not a beach person. My sister and I both got a free cruise offer from the local casino, so we decided to go and take the other three people.

    For those who have been to Cozumel, or live there, any recommendations for good food? I’m looking for good, authentic food the locals eat, not a restaurant catering to the tourists. I’m not yet sure what we’ll do while in port. My only goal there is great food. :) And maybe some shopping or doing something other than hanging out at a beach. It’s likely to be just me and one or two other people since the remaining two people don’t like Mexican food. Their palate is very plain vanilla.

    Any recommendations for things to do in Grand Cayman? I’m in the process of researching, but I like hearing from others who have been there. Plus it took me a long time to start researching because I was busy planning the Canada and New England cruise we did last month. I’ve been a bit burned out on researching.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      In Cozumel, the restaurants around the main square are all very tourist-y but if you walk a few blocks off the main square you can generally find places where the locals eat. Two suggestions:

      Crazy King Burritos–a little north of the main square, on the intersection of Calle 4 Nte and 5a Ave Nte (4th Street North and 5th Ave North)

      Fonda Don Jose–a few blocks east of the main square, on Av Lic Benito Juarez. There’s also a little taco place next door to the restaurant (don’t remember the name and it’s not on Google but the food was delicious). On the other side of the street about one block farther away from the main square is a little ice cream place where locals go, if you want a post-meal dessert.

      For things to do in Cozumel, I recommend Museo de Cozumel (Museum of Cozumel). All of the main signs are in both Spanish and English (some smaller informational signs are only in Spanish). The museum has a good layout, takes about an hour, and has an informative history of the island, from pre-Columbian Mayan culture to present day.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! I found the menus online and those places are definitely what I’m looking for.

        It should be interesting finding stuff to do since I’m pretty much the only one in the group interested in history. :) Friend and neice will want the beach all day. One sister would enjoy an excursion like horseback riding on the beach (she booked that for Grand Cayman already). She’s fine with botanical gardens and things like that, though, and so am I. And then I have the other sister who says she “wants to go to a fiesta.” LOL I see there’s a Sunday Night Fiesta; however, I’ll have to check which day we dock in Cozumel.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      When we did a cruise through Cozumel we did a tour of the Mayan ruins at San Gervasio. Extremely interesting, we had a very knowledgeable guide, and the site itself was beautiful. A bus picked us up from the port, took us to the site, we did the tour, and then took us to a local seafood restaurant. Cozumel is mostly nature/archeological reserve and doesn’t have a ton of locals living on it, so everything will be slightly touristy. I think our menu was in English, and most places will accept USD – we didn’t have to change money to pesos. But it was much less touristy than the port :) AND I finally got to go in the ocean after a week of being on a cruise looking at the ocean, lol. Cozumel was the highlight of our trip!

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I honeymooned in Cozumel 20 years ago. At least back then from what I could tell there was one town and I saw various thatched houses. I got the sense that the town basically existed to cater to cruise ships and the handful of resorts/hotels on the island. I do remember there was one restaurant called Carlos and Charlie’s that seemed especially touristy/wild party, so I’d avoid that if you’re looking for something more low key. (The waitress pawed at my then husband to try to get him to do shots at noon, lol)

    3. Lazy Turtle*

      Grand Cayman is very safe and a lovely place to visit. The sea turtle farm is great way to spend half a day or more. The snorkeling or scuba diving is amazing. There’s a weird volcanic geological formation in Hell GC with a post office so you can send yourself mail from Hell.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        The sea turtle farm sounds enjoyable. I’ll check into that. Thanks!

        I saw Hell GC on a few YouTube videos and the consensus seems to be that it’s worth a half hour of one’s time, and that it’s best to just take a taxi rather than going as part of an excursion.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I misread Grand Cayman as Grand Canyon, and I thought wow, that’s one hell of a cruise. Still on my first cup of coffee.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I was thinking of that. My niece and friend want to swim with the dolphins, and I want to do the stingrays.

  21. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Is it too early for a gifting suggestion thread?

    A good gift for someone who spends any time in their car (especially an older car, but anyone really) is a USB-powered battery pack with a jumper cable attachment. Even if you HAVE a full set of jumper cables – you still have to find someone to help with the jump (which can be skeezy in the dark and cold if you’re by yourself in a parking lot somewhere, whether you’re a woman or not) AND then get the vehicles lined up, etc etc. With the jumper pack, I think the longest it has ever taken me to jumpstart my own car is two minutes, and that was because I was trying to remember where the hood pop switch was. Mine also has a regular USB power outlet, a flashlight that can be steady or strobe, and a compass.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Omg, huge plus-one to this recommendation. We have a LI-ion one that only takes an hour to charge at a wall outlet and jumps your car so easily. I remember the first time I used it, it felt… wrong and dirty to be able to jumpstart a car without someone else’s car! But yes, could be a literally lifesaving gift. It’s sooooo useful.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      Agree! We got one for my daughter. She is in college in the city and only uses her car every few days, so she finds herself with a dead battery in a downtown parking garage pretty often. This thing has been a lifesaver.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The last time I had issues, my battery was legit busted and the only way I could get it to last long enough to let me restart the car without jumping after turning it off long enough to fill up with gas was to have been driving long enough to run the engine for 30 minutes – any less than that, and unless I restarted the car within a minute of turning it off, the battery wouldn’t turn over. (And of course it was a week that I had to drive places three and four times a day and the dealership couldn’t get me in to do the warranty replacement until the following week, so I literally used the jumper pack like 6 times a day.) All that to say — yes, it’s probably a problem, but it also could be that the car just isn’t being driven long enough to recharge the battery properly before it sits for a while again? maybe?

          1. Observer*

            All that to say — yes, it’s probably a problem, but it also could be that the car just isn’t being driven long enough to recharge the battery properly before it sits for a while again? maybe?

            I’d say that it’s very unlikely, unless her usage pattern is extremely odd. People who only use their car every few days rarely take the car to go 3 blocks.

            And as you say, when you had make sure you were driving enough, you had a busted battery.

            So I would not *impossible*, but unlikely enough that it makes sense to get it checked.

        2. Generic Name*

          Yup. A battery that needed jumping was how we discovered the alternator in my then husbands car was bad.

    3. Angstrom*

      I think everyone should have a good flashlight. Your phone is a poor substitute. LED and rechargeable battery technology make it possible to have bright, long-lasting lights that are small and easy to carry.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Several good flashlights–one for garage, one for the car, one for the bedroom, one for the living room. And a BIG supply of batteries!

        1. David*

          There are even shake-powered flashlights that don’t use batteries at all, you just have to shake them back and forth to charge them up. Good for emergencies as well as any situation where they would be infrequently used (since you don’t have to worry about batteries leaking or losing charge if you let them sit around for a long time).

    4. londonedit*

      Similarly, earlier this year I used an Amazon voucher from work to buy myself a cordless air compressor/tyre inflator, and it’s brilliant. The brand name of the one I got is Yantu – it has a digital display and you charge it up via USB so it’s ready to go and you don’t have to worry about having a long enough cable to get all the way around the car. It’s so easy now to just top the tyres up before I go on a long journey – instead of having to go to the petrol station and pay £1 for air! My dad and brother-in-law were so impressed with it that they both bought one for themselves too. I think it’d make a brilliant gift for anyone with a car – it’s so useful to keep in the boot so you can easily check and top up your tyre pressures. It also comes with various attachments to inflate other things like balls or other types of tyre etc.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have one of those on my wishlist for gifting season! Tires and batteries are my car kryptonite, haha.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes! We have one of those cordless tire inflators and we love it. It’s incredibly handy. It’s the Ryobi brand, which means we can use any Ryobi rechargeable battery that happens to have a charge in it (we have several Ryobi cordless tools). It’s a bit loud, but it works great. We’ve used it to add air to the car tires, and inflate air mattresses and stability balls.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Nice! I’ll have to see if I can find one of those. That would be good to have. My husband has a separate one with the jumping function.

    5. Seashell*

      A family member who is a car mechanic recommended getting one of those for our kid who was going to college. It wound up getting used successfully, so it was a good buy.

    6. am I awake?*

      If it doesn’t have to be car related- an umbrella that lights up! LED in the stem or the cover part. Dark rainy nights, where I am

    7. Filosofickle*

      Similarly, one of the best things I have ever bought myself was a little compressor for airing tires. Whenever I have a tire issue (which is more frequently than I’d like) it lets me air it up safely wherever I am until I can get it to the shop. And I can check at home while the wheels are cold. Plugs into the cigarette lighter.

    8. Nervous Nellie*

      Yes – these are fantastic! I got one of these last year from a pal, who also gave me a portable tire inflator that operates much the same way. It’s about the size of a water bottle, and is simple to use. I use it periodically to check my tire inflation, and bump it up a bit if they’re getting mushy. No emergency use so far – thank goodness. This and the portable battery jumper are great!

    9. BayouBoogaloo*

      Would you please share the brand you picked, Red Reader? Our two daughters could really use that.

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

      Also, that tool that you can use to cut the seatbelt if you have to get out of a crashed car quickly?

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I have an Infinity X1 7-in-1 emergency tool (bought a two pack at Costco) that lives in my driver’s side door bin. It has a seatbelt cutter and a glass hammer, as well as a variety of flashlight features (a normal flashlight at one end and a light bar on part of the tube, plus a flashing option), but what appealed to me most is that one end is a magnet so I can stick it to a metal surface to have the flashlight stuck to whatever I’m trying to work on in the dark and have both hands free.

        In practice, it gets used as a flashlight every 3 months when I change my furnace filters since it’s magnetic so I can stick it to the air return and see what I’m doing, and my furnace is in my garage near my car so it’s easy to grab. Sometimes it’s handy to have a flashlight in the car as well. I’ve never needed any of the emergency features so I have no idea if those work well, but a magnetic-ended flashlight is pretty useful all by itself.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I feel like Santa Paws might be bringing a couple of those to my house this year.

  22. funkytown*

    When is it time to sell a car, and decide to replace (or not)?

    My car is from 2014, over 120,000 miles, and has started having more issues crop up (I’ve spent probably over a thousand over the past year on an issue with a motor mount and some other thing), and at it’s most recent oil check was quote another 1700 for more routine things coming due (brakes and tires etc).

    I’m tired of these expenses to be honest! I know that’s just car ownership but ugh. It would be nice to have a more reliable and newer car, but while I’m not loving the maintenance expenses currently, I definitely wouldn’t want to have a monthly loan payment again either.

    What would you do/how often do you normally get new (to you) cars?

    1. Sunflower*

      The issue right now is that new cars are wildly expensive and hard to get (have been for the last few years) so moreso than other products, drivers are doing things differently than they traditionally would. How often are you driving it?

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree. I was driving a 2007 that had had its share of issues and seemed to be getting worse, and I was comfortable spending around 15K on a new car – but at that price they could only give me something in the same age range as the one I had! I did look at CarMaxx which was the closest I came to an option, but I realized putting another couple grand into my current car didn’t seem so bad.

        1. funkytown*

          Yes that’s definitely my concern. I am currently erring on the side of just sinking the money into more and more repairs, but I’m nervous that at some point that won’t be enough and the car will be forcibly retired, AND then I’ll have sunk in all that money and still have to get a giant loan payment for a new one….

          I don’t drive often (once a week to grocery store maybe?) as I work remotely and have okay transit near me, but I feel much more comfortable knowing that I have the car available for emergencies at the very least. But really I don’t think I can afford it right now so I guess that is my answer, and I will just cross my fingers my current one lasts a while more.

    2. Dana Lynne*

      I have a 2011 Hyundai with 230,000 miles on it that I have no intention of selling. There is not a right or wrong answer here; just what you are comfortable with. Do you want a car payment that could total up to ten thousand a year, and more peace of mind? Or do you want to set aside a couple thousand a year for repairs and cultivate a good mechanic?

      It’s all about your comfort level. When I had a car even older than this one, if I had to take a long road trip I would rent a car. That was maybe once a year.

      Good luck! I would really add up your maintenance bills on the current car and then price some new or used cars that you like and see what the loan payments would be. Make it a math problem.

    3. Cat*

      With new cars being so expensive, and hard to get (we waited 8 months!), I’d consider saving for a new one while keeping the old. You can hopefully get enough to reduce the payments or even pay most of it outright considering a trade in.

      1. DannyG*

        Consider a lease return or a former rental from a major company. I got 250,000 miles on one, another I am driving now has 180,000 miles and is still running fine.

    4. TX_trucker*

      This question is very difficult to answer,  because there are many variables.  I suggest you Google your car make and year to learn about known repair issues.  Some vehicles need much more attention than others.  Do you have a good mechanic that you trust?  That has a huge factor on deciding if you should keep an older vehicle or not. 

      I have two older cars.  One is at 200k miles and hasn’t needed a single repair, just routine maintenance.  The other is only at 60k miles, and I  spend about $1000 every other year on repairs.  But that’s still cheaper than a car payment. 

      I personally don’t let the cost of routine maintenance (tires, filters, brake pads, etc) enter my decision.  Yes, it can be expensive, but it’s not an indication of future expense or reliability.  When deciding to make a repair or not, I think about what my future expense might be.  Ask your mechanic,  what he thinks is the next thing that will break and how much it will cost.

      There is a nationwide parts shortage that doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon.   If you live in area with crappy public transportation, and you “need” your car, then a newer vehicle might be a necessity.  It can take months to find certain parts, especially if your car model is no longer being made.

      You also need to think about auto insurance.  It is generally much higher for newer cars.

    5. trust me I'm a PhD*

      Also consider changing up your service provider, if you think there’s a chance they’re selling you on too many products/too many expensive products. My own service provider is fine (a local dealership associated with the car’s brand) but has done stuff like recommend four tires when only two need replaced, etc.

      1700 stands out to me as a little high for brakes and tires? Tires are always expensive, esp. with the alignment in there; but brakes, because they’re a really simple mechanism and are easy to reach on a car, are one of the more cost efficient repairs there is. Maybe it’s just where you are in the country, or the associated steps with these repairs, but something to consider?

      I second Cat’s response below about starting to save for a new car. Also, you might let a trusted dealership know what you’re looking for and your price range –– that’s how I found my current car (at a different dealership than the one I mention above, in an entirely different state).

      1. funkytown*

        I am going to take it to get a second opinion for sure, I don’t fully trust the place that gave me that quote! That did include a few things beyond the tires and brakes (I think it included the oil change, new headlight bulbs, and air filter), and I am in a fairly high cost of living area. I was frustrated because I had brought it in to this same place just a few months ago and they did not say anything about the tires and brakes needing work soon but now they are saying that the tires and brakes Urgently need replacing… did seem a little weird to me but I don’t know enough.

        1. trust me I'm a PhD*

          Hmmm, good luck, I hope the second opinion clears things up!

          As an FYI (and you may know this, apologies if it’s old information) you can check your tires yourself with a penny –– turn it upside down, so Lincoln’s head is to the bottom, and stick it in between the treads of your tires. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, i.e. the part of the penny between where Lincoln’s head stops and the edge of the penny, your treads are getting too thin. I’ll put a link to something w/ visuals in a reply.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Oh yeah, DEFINITELY time for a 2nd opinion. I was told in March that my belts needed to be replaced. Called around for some quotes. I forget the exact numbers, but one was $400, maybe $450. Took it to the cheapest place, and the dude told me that I could wait a month or so to get it changed. Took it back after a month, and he told me it could wait another month or two.

          I finally got around to taking it back again this week. $250 flat, and that included the oil change he also did. And now I have a guy I trust to tell me when work needs to be done and when it doesn’t. AND it’s a small local business, so I am happier about giving them my money.

        3. TX_Trucker*

          Even if you have zero interest or ability to DIY auto repairs, I suggest you watch a YouTube video on whatever your mechanic says you need done. You will have a better understanding when talking to your mechanic. And for many routine maintenance, a visual inspection will tell you if things really worn out and need replacing. I also suggest you stay away from quick oil change places. They attract customers with low prices for an oil change, but most of their other services are much higher than a regular mechanic shop.

    6. kina lillet*

      My personal answer to this is one I don’t like, ie “when it’s totaled.” My family tends to drive cars into the ground, and I have a 2012 Civic…the body will go before the engine does.

      Car ownership really genuinely is irritating and expensive, but I’ve just tried to find a good mechanic and drive less. A new/newer used car would be super expensive AND hard to get AND probably have new, different, and more annoying problems.

    7. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      If you want a new car, there is probably nothing anyone can say that will dissuade you from getting a new car.

      I have a 2008 rav-4 that uses a quart of oil every two weeks. It is a known fault of this model.

      IMO $100 a year worth of oil is much cheaper than a car payment. I have no interest in a Korean model, but it appears to me that most other car models are $35,000 for a base model and SUV’s are even more

      Good luck, but I would find a good private mechanic and start saving.

      1. funkytown*

        Well I don’t want a new car, I’d love to keep this one as long as possible but I also don’t want to spend a lot of money on repairs and then still end up having to also get a new car anyway. I don’t know enough about cars to know when I should call it as too much of a money pit or keep “investing” in the repairs.

        I mostly just wish I didn’t feel out of my depth with mechanics, and also had the money to feel secure either way. The budget is the real problem regardless of anything else unfortunately, so no new car anytime soon.

        1. BunnyWatsonToo*

          Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide by Patrice Banks is a good resource for learning about cars, how they work, and what to do when things go wrong.

        2. TechWorker*

          When you say new car Dyou mean ‘new to you and newer than current’ or ‘actually new’ ? (I kind of assume that a car that’s 3-5 years old is still way better value than an actually new one but I have not looked super recently so may be out of date :))

    8. Liminality*

      My rule is: if it’s costing more (averaged out over he year) than a monthly car payment would be then that is the time to start looking for another.

    9. WellRed*

      For me it was learning that not only did my 13 year old car need about $2500 worth of mechanical stuff, it needed rocker panels. Not only was that super expensive but I figured they’d just find more and more rust. Sadly the car ran great and only had 115k miles. Took four months this summer to find a used car that fit my budget and I’ve already had it towed twice to the dealer (it’s there right now). Keep the old one a little longer.

    10. funkytown*

      Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts! I can’t afford a different car (or many more repairs either) so just going to stick it out as long as possible. Fingers crossed.

    11. MP*

      If you decide to stick with your current car our local tech high school is amazing for maintenance! My MIL just got brakes and rotors for $400. I think they tend to be more honest too because they are using the opportunity to teach students not necessarily to run their business.

    12. Drive, She Said*

      I’m 64 and I’ve owned 4 cars in my life. I’m about to buy my 5th. My first car was my parents’ old station wagon that I inherited and drove it for about a year. It was only 9 years old but had approximately 265,000 miles on it and the timing chain was loose and probably about to break when I gave it back to my parents. (It had a great Turbo-Hydramatic 3-speed automatic transmission that was the best transmission I ever experienced, smooth shifting and responsive.) My second car was a used compact that I drove for 7 years when the engine threw a rod (which is a major engine repair) at only 145,000 miles. I sold the car cheap and the new owner put in a rebuilt engine. My third car a was a subcompact and the first that I bought new. I kept it for 19 years and 205,000 miles. It had started burning a bit of oil and I was starting to get afraid of major expenses down the road so I traded it for a then new compact. Now, I’ve had my fourth car for 19 years now and 160,000 miles and it is having issues with its automatic transmission going out. It will cost more to replace the transmission than the value of the car so I’m looking for a new car again.

      In my area there are still shortages of the more desirable lower-priced cars, but they’re not as bad as they used to be. Most of the cars that I am considering buying are being sold at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) sticker price. There are a few dealers that are asking for extra “Additional Dealer Market” (ADM) adjustment fees and that are loading their new cars with over-priced options that I don’t want so I am avoiding those dealers. OTOH, there are a few dealers that are now starting to offer (admittedly small) discounts on some of the cars I am considering buying.

      I’ve been saving up a down payment for 4 years now and I have enough to cover more than half the cost of a new car and I’m looking to finance the rest. (I’m looking at compact and mid-size sedans and I’m lucky in that I have a good credit rating.) I’m looking for a for a manufacturer’s subsidized auto loan sales incentive from the manufacturer’s finance company. These kind of sales incentives tend to vary by location. At the moment, the car I most want to buy does not have a sales incentive in place from the manufacturer for financing and the interest rate they offer on auto loans is almost 10%. My credit union offers auto loans at approximately 7%. Meanwhile, the manufacturers of the cars that are my second, third and fourth choices all offer financing at interest rates of 3.9 to 3.99%. I’m holding off on actually buying until December. I’m hoping that my first choice of car will be in stock and that I’ll be able to buy one at a subsidized interest rate, but if I can’t, then I’m hoping that one of my other choices will still offer financing at a lower interest rate. Consumer Reports magazine is my friend.

    13. miel*

      I am personally dedicated to keeping my 2009 car running as long as I can! But as others have mentioned, it’s really a personal money/risk tradeoff.

      I have a friend who rarely drives, and actually made the decision to not own a car. She rents a car when needed (she finds good deals on rentals), but otherwise gets by just fine with bike/ walk/ transit/ cab. From your comments about rarely driving, I wonder if that option could potentially make sense for you, too.

    14. Rachel*

      The stress of car issues bothers me so much I value replacing cars before I have to think about problems beyond regular maintenance and tires.

      I usually replace cars around the 150,000 mark, which is around 5 or 6 years.

      I also really enjoy the feel of driving new cars, every time I get a new one I love the tech, apps, camera, all those advancements have improved driving for me by a lot.

      I currently have a Rivian and it’s gush-worthy, I absolutely love it.

    15. SofiaDeo*

      I am driving a 2006 vehicle with 139K miles on it. It was a commercial vehicle, I never buy “new” anymore since my first. I do all the recommended maintenance in addition to any repairs. Repairs have been me backing i to something, or hitting something, not the car itself failing. The only exception was a hose blowing in summer in Miami; which can happen even to newer hoses there haha!

      I figure even $3K a year would be less than halfof what I would be paying if I purchased this same vehicle new. If your make/model is considered reliable, and you don’t have a “lemon”, consider keeping it. I just purchased new sheepskin seat covers, the ones from 2009 finally bit the dust. Comfortable seats are a “must” for me. Replacing components like brake pads, timing belt, before they break while you are driving is a good thing. My husband learned his lesson on not replacing hoses as recommended; it was an uncomfortable 90+ degree afternoon stuck waiting for a tow truck roadside, and still had to replace the hoses. It’s lucky the engine didn’t burn out!

    16. lavendar latte*

      It’s a point of pride for me that I keep cars until they’re old enough to drink. I’m only on my third car in my mid-forties, and I’d still be on the second if it hadn’t been sacrificed to a suicidal Bambi. I’m also a tech curmudgeon (hate screens replacing buttons/knobs, etc.) so I resist buying as long as possible partly so I can hang on to sturdy old-school analog features.

      Caveat: having a private mechanic I trust has been the keystone of this method of ownership, so take it with a grain of salt if you don’t have that option. My guy is starting to talk about retirement and I’m not sure if he will sell or close his shop, so I’ll reevaluate when the time comes.

    17. Southern Girl*

      I replaced my 10-year-old car because of safety features available in newer cars- collision warning, lane change warning, adaptive cruise control, cameras for backup and parking, to name a few. As I have aged, I don’t feel as confident driving, and these features help. The old car was in good shape, sold it to a friend.

  23. InTheCity*

    Can anyone recommend a community, ideally Facebook Group, that does the following (OK if it’s 2 different groups). I realize some of this is super specific so it doesn’t need to meet exact criteria :)

    – Suggestions for home solutions/decor for limited spaces; limited can mean a variety of things like rental, small space, old building, odd shaped space you need to maximize. Want to avoid general interior design as they tend to skew towards owners with massive spaces who can renovate.
    – DIY project advice – ideally something for not super experienced ppl where members can post photos/links to DIY projects they want to attempt and other members can estimate experience level needed, give tips, etc

    1. Pippa K*

      Not Facebook, but Reddit has some that might be useful.

      r/homeimprovement gets beginner advice questions sometimes (at which point everyone seems to recommend YouTube videos for learning specific skills, which is also a good approach)

      r/apartmentdesign might suit your other category, but the bigger boards like r/DesignMyRoom and r/HomeDecorating get plenty of small space/limited budget questions too. I enjoy these – people often make helpful suggestions with links or sketched-out examples.

    2. allx*

      Kaleidoscope Living (Tasha) is a resource I use (kaleidoscopeliving.com, instagram, facebook and youtube). I like her advice because she seems like a normal, down-to-earth person with practical advice. she created a resource called “Designer in a Binder” that gives all the steps of designing a given space and posts people’s before and after photos of various projects. Lots of tutorials too, and good advice re paint.

    3. dooffloof*

      Not a social community, but I love Alexandra Gater’s youtube channel. She focuses on renter friendly designs and provides details for the diy’s featured in her vids.

    4. Overeducated*

      I like the Baltimore Rowhomes group on Facebook. I don’t actually live in Baltimore, but I do live in a similar enough space that I’ve gotten some good decorating advice and inspiration there.

    5. miel*

      “Our Old House” on fb might be similar to what you’re looking for on point #2. I’ve found it very interesting myself!

      Apartment Therapy (website/ blog) might be of interest for your point #1.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Laurie’s story would have been considerably complicate by picking one sister before the other! I guess that wasn’t really so uncommon back then but I feel like it would raise a lot of eyebrows these days :P

      1. Valancy Stirling*

        I don’t know. If they stick to the book, Laurie wouldn’t have dated Jo, just had a crush on her. Most people wouldn’t know, and those who did would be aware of the difference between an unrequited crush and mutual love.

        1. Sloanicota*

          He does (spoilers!) propose though, doesn’t he? Yes, I suppose people outside the family wouldn’t know that, but it feels like a little more the lead versus just “things don’t go smoothly”!

  24. Sloanicota*

    I need tips for keeping my cool while driving. Admittedly, I live in what must be one of the most miserable cities for driving, and I do have to occasionally drive into the downtown itself for work reasons. It’s a very frustrating experience, understandably; long lights, and always somebody doing something stupid once the light does change so that only a few cars get through, and then it’s another long light. Lanes change frequently and people won’t let you in. People stop dead mid-lane and hit their flashers constantly. Now they’re going to take out right-turn-on-red. Drivers are something of an acceptable target because the city would prefer to push transit, which I respect but can’t work for me in this instance. I feel like I used to be better at handling the stress but lately I’m slipping – other than music, what are your tips for bringing your blood pressure down and not becoming a rage monster?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oop please completely disregard the W-word we don’t say on this thread, I was trying to head off comments about why I shouldn’t be driving and should be taking public transit instead (which I agree with!!) so – just accept at face value that I must drive sometimes, and give me the tips you use in your daily personal life to stay chill behind the wheel.

      1. Bibliovore*

        The criticism of people insisting that public transportation are ablest. I suffered (yes suffered) public transportation with an hour plus commute for over 15 years. The days I was able to afford a car service relieved an enormous amount of pain and anxiety.
        I drive now in a medium sized city. It is a gift.
        What I have learned for the stress of driving. Give yourself too much time.
        If you think it will take 30 minutes to get somewhere, give yourself an hour and have a peaceful meditation or phone a friend time at the other end.
        My mantra- bless them, change me. When someone behaves badly, I ask my higher power to give them everything I want for myself. That person who cut me off and almost caused an accident, I ask for good health, happy contented family, be surrounded by friends, enough food, heat and hot water.
        I use my imagination for the good-I will get there when I get there, that person weaving through lanes, speeding to get to the red light, passing on the right shoulder- is rushing to the hospital.
        Put some music on.
        And Mr. Bibliovore used to say when I was yelling at another driver’s bad behavior,
        “they can’t hear you.”

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

          Seconding the imagining what it’s like to be the other driver. Like, when I’m stuck behind a driver going slowly on the highway or who’s merging slowly, I imagine that they’re a little old lady who’s a little nervous about highway driving these days but doing her best to be brave to go visit a sick friend or something. And I imagine myself someday being that same little nervous old lady — I’d like someone to be gracious to me if I were in that situation.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Specifically, I often think of them as MY grandmother or new teenage driver (or someone that age that I am very close to). Or someone my age who doesn’t know the area, and doesn’t have GPS or a smartphone, or maybe Google Maps is wrong about the location of something….all things that I’ve had to deal with at some point.

          2. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary*

            Not to be rude, but the problem with this like of rationalization is that it is not just “one” other driver who is gumming up the works. It’s multiple drivers. After having to deal with the 4th or 5th (or maybe the 29th or 30th) little old lady who’s nervous about highway driving, eventually, most people will experience “Compassion Fatigue” and they’re back to square one.

      2. Blue wall*

        You’re allowed to say “work” on the weekend open thread; it’s simply some people lean into being extra cute day treating it like Voldemort.

        1. WellRed*

          Yes, thank you. The convolutions some comments contain around not saying the word work bring more attention to the idea of work. I agree with the advice to allow yourself extra drive time.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      IDK, yelling (in completely enclosed car with the loud music on) at other drivers about how much they are idiots is kind of cathartic.
      Also singing loudly to the songs I like helps to sort of not notice the idiocity as much?
      I too live and drive in a very large city with notorious traffic, and zero public transportation options for me.

    3. kina lillet*

      One angle is to take the pressure off. Give yourself more time for your drive, and you can more believably reassure yourself that you have time to sit behind the fourth guy in a row to get stuck in the intersection.

      Another angle is to treat city driving more like a skill. You’re already practicing, by necessity, but the other part of skill acquisition is to really think about it and consider it. This might help with detachment. Is there always a spot where people end up in the middle lane with their flashers on? How far ahead of time can you figure out that’s happening, and change lanes before getting stuck? Look up defensive driving tips—part of that is understanding that other drivers are going to screw up. How can you accommodate for that? Think of the taxi drivers who always seem to be able to change lanes right before getting stuck somewhere.

      I drive in Boston pretty regularly and that stuff helps me, but I know it’ll be different for other cities & other drivers.

    4. Qwerty*

      This is silly, but I talk in a sing-song voice about my frustrations (in my car, with the windows up, no one can hear). It gives me the relief of commenting on situation but the positive phrasing and smile on my face trick my brain into not getting mad.

      “Sir, if you had used a blinker I would have happily made room for you”
      “Well that wasn’t very nice”
      “heeyyyy, anybody wanna let me over, pretty please?”

      Are there alternate routes you can take? I realize that I would rather spend longer in the car if I’m actually moving. So I used to take the long way home from work – the short direct way meant sitting for 10min in bumper to bumper traffic because of a poorly placed traffic circle. Or I could take the long way which meant going 45mph roads with barely any other cars. I decided getting home 10min later was worth the lower stress level.

      This might be counter-intuitive, but sometimes I get a little over-helpful about letting people over. My theory is that if I can normalize it and show people how nice it is to merge easily that other drivers will change their ways. I don’t know if it works, but it helped my stress level.

      1. fposte*

        Heh, it sounds like we have a similar wavelength. “Oh, honey, no,” is my common refrain, or clucking to another car like it’s a horse and saying encouragingly “Come on!”

        I also find it useful to think of people in other vehicles as people that I know, or as very young and uncertain drivers. They’re not selfish, they’re sixteen and trying to get home before they get into trouble, or they’re my friend Jane who had a brain blip when taking her kid to the doctor. That makes it less likely that I project the most hostile scenario on the situation and makes it more of a “Whoops!” and less a blood-pressure rise.

        1. Dr. Doll*

          Not gonna lie, I don’t try to tell myself nice things when sitting at a four-way RED LIGHT in a line, and someone comes up behind and swings into the shoulder and drives through the red light as if it wasn’t even there.

        2. allx*

          I do this too. I pretend annoying drivers are my neighbors, people I actually know and will see in real life. Personalizing it in this way takes some of the irritation away.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Aside for allowing yourself lots and lots of time? Well, this is a tricky recommendation, because you can’t always apply it, but I try to be kind and give other drivers a break and let them in front of me when I can (if I’m not also holding up people behind me). That said, I’m also allowed to not do that, if it’s easier on me, or if it’s going to open a floodgate of cut ins. I also practice benefit of the doubt when a driver is begging to be sworn at; no doubt I’d probably be correct if I was judgy and sweary, about stupid drivers doing rubbish things but it’s also hard on me, so drivers who are aimless are “totally lost and new in town” I say this aloud, like a sports commentator. Drivers who are impatient and selfish “Have a completely movie worthy emergency”. When I’m waiting on lights and in queues I take my feet off the pedals and handbrake while I practice yoga breathing; I never get a chance to do it any other time and it is definitely soothing to me. When people stop dead mid lane or do other really serious and dangerous things, it’s much harder to be flippant or funny about it and your fight or flight reaction isn’t going to make it feel like nothing. However defensive driving is a really valuable skill to reward yourself for, so whenever I spot a potential hazard, I get two points, if I slow down and avoid it I get three points, if I narrowly avert disaster with quick thinking I get infinity points.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I take this tack of giving people grace too. I live near a hospital so I often say to myself, “Maybe there is someone in labor in that car…”
        But also- I try to channel Aaron Burr when he says, “I am the only thing I can control.” The goal is to get places safely and so I take a deep breath and concentrate on what I can doto be safe, rather than getting upset about what other people are doing. And in the big picture, I’d rather be late than in a car accident.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I like Qwerty’s “quietly chastising other drivers” method down-thread; I do that sometimes myself, especially with drivers who’ve been doing mad lane-changes at high speed in order to… gain a single car-length on me at the next intersection. “Yes, yes, you’re ahead now, congratulations.”

      For me, audiobooks have been a game-changer, though I know they don’t work for everyone; if you find them too distracting while driving, never mind! But I’ve found that they help me avoid getting tense about traffic slowdowns and such.

    7. Jay*

      Listen to something funny/relaxing/soothing on the radio.
      For me, at least, there is a night and day difference between sipping a nice mint hot chocolate and listening to either a really funny/spooky podcast/e-book/really kick ass classic hard rock (if you can feel anger while listening to the best of Motorhead, Judas Priest or Rainbow, you are beyond my ability to help).

    8. ELF Cage*

      I used to say “trivial people” meaning gone in a second and not a part of my life.
      Sometimes I crack myself up especially if there’s one poor driver decision after another by pretending I’m in a driver’s ed video. Wow, this vid is especially dramatic today.

    9. Double A*

      When I drive in LA, I take a “I’m not even mad, I’m just impressed” approach to some of the shenanigans you see. Like wow, did that person just make a U turn on the interstate from the left lane to make the exit they drove past? They did. Impressive!

      You obviously shouldn’t play actual bingo as you drive, but can you play mental bingo? Like, how many Driving Shenanigan points can you get? Maybe you get a point every time you correctly predict some stupid behavior of the driver ahead of you. Then when get to work you can be impressed with your score (and maybe even a little let down when it’s only, like, a 4 point day).

    10. TX_Trucker*

      I try to mentally reframe my commute as my “learning time” instead of my transportation time. I listen to podcasts and audio books instead of music. So when I’m stuck in traffic, that’s just a tad bit longer that I can dedicate to learning something new. I’m no longer wasting time because of horrible drivers, I am being given the opportunity to have alone time with a great new book.

    11. Girasol*

      National Public Radio. Particularly during commute hours when they run their news shows, the stories are wonderfully engrossing. If you’re more interested in a story than in wishing you weren’t stuck behind that guy, it might help.

    12. Jackalope*

      I had someone close to me die in a car accident, so for me it’s helpful to remind myself that whatever just happened, we didn’t have an accident. I often say to myself if someone does something stupid and/or dangerous right in front of me, “We’re both still alive and our cars are still intact; success!” I also remind myself regularly that my goal is to arrive at my destination, not to get there as fast as possible. (This involves some of what other people said about leaving plenty of time, etc.) That helps me stress out less about people slowing me down.

    13. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary*

      I can certainly relate. Unfortunately, you have to embrace the suck. You’ll never leave early enough. You’ll always be late. (Driving was kind of nice back during COVID when there weren’t as many people on the roads.) Generally, I find that I’m now calmer and not as easily when driving compared to when I was younger. I was inclined to give some of the credit to practicing yoga and doing some mild breathwork (not while driving, of course), but when I shared this with some of my friends they told me, “no, you’re just getting old.” (LOL) I suspect there may be a grain of truth to their comment.

      If you can find a good radio station that can help. I often, but no always, find listening to a classical music radio station calming. Sometimes NPR is good. You might consider streaming calming music or podcasts into your car’s sound system. The “books on tape” and learning a second (or third) language are good suggestions.

    14. Pamela Adams*

      I find it helpful to remember that I too am the bad driver from other peoples’ point of view. It keeps me from being annoyed at them when I accept that I am also at fault.

  25. Heidi*

    Looking for activities to do with an elderly relative in hospital. They are not terminal, not in pain, just tired and bored (and hard-of-hearing). Looking forward to getting real food again and not just through a tube. We’re just sitting here quietly talking between bouts of dozing off. Perhaps there is not much else to do.

    1. Cat*

      – crossword-puzzles (can be shared)
      – adult colouring books
      – assorted magazines (aim for more pictures/less text if someone dozes off/loses their spot easily)
      – knitting or crochet
      – cribbage
      – simple, not messy craft kits (ex. origami is better than something with glitter).
      – audiobooks and podcasts
      – manicure, pedicure, hair styling for your relative if it doesn’t interfere with care.

      1. Lime green Pacer*

        I’ll second cribbage. I got hooked on it this summer, and my husband and I play daily. We are very anti-Muggins: we double-check each others points and let them know about any errors so they can get all the points they are entitled to. We also count off every point, without any shortcuts. A travel crib board doesn’t take up much space!

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          Another vote for cribbage—it’s so much fun! I’ve played it pretty much forever; learned it from my granddad and taught my own kids to play as soon as they were old enough to add.

          Currently, our only Special Rule is that it has to be announced and agreed to before the first deal if we’re playing what we call “cut-throat” (i.e., you can grab any points your opponent has missed).

          Kids are now 22 and 19, and every visit still includes some cribbage time!

          1. Forrest Rhodes*

            Just thought of this, too: A relaxed game of cribbage allows lots of time for conversation during/around play. The games with the kids and my granddad always allowed the telling of stories and discussions of topics on which we might not otherwise have connected.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I used to read aloud to my husband when he was in the hospital. Second the suggestion of crosswords. If you have access to old loose photos or albums, ask them who the folks are in the pictures. Get some body cream and rub it into their hands and arms. Elderly people frequently are starved for touch, and their skin can get dry and friable.

      Crocheting and handwork saved my own sanity sitting in the hospital.

      1. Anono-me*

        The hand massage and the old photos are brilliant ideas.

        I would suggest using the old photos as a jumping off point to ask questions about the people in them , and possibly record the family stories to preserve family history. (This is also a great opportunity to get unlabeled old photos labeled. )

        Mani-pedi’s might also be a good idea. (Especially if you are somewhere that has visiting manicurists.)

        The hospital might have a visiting pet therapy dog. Usually you need to officially request a visit. Maybe you could check into it and suggest it if feasible.

        You might also want to bring a decent toothbrush as a gift. A friend who has been in hospitals many times says they never ever give you a decent toothbrush and that is the worst non-medical part of being in the hospital.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Hospital gift shop would probably have a deck of cards, play go fish or crazy eights or poker or whatever :) They probably have an assortment of activity type things – puzzle books, card games and the like, there’s a LOT of bored people in hospitals :)

      If either of you has a tablet, you could download a game – a lot of board games have tablet versions, ranging from chess/checkers to Monopoly to Ticket to Ride, depending on how involved you want to get. Puzzle books – I like sudoku and the ones that are … they look kind of like crosswords, but you fill in the provided words into the grid and figure out how to fit all the words in so they all match up? I don’t know what that’s called.

    4. am I awake?*

      if you have a tablet large enough that they can see, and a pen, there are lots of on-line jigsaw puzzles. You can also do them on a laptop, but I find a pen with a tablet easier to use than a mouse on a laptop

      1. Elle Woods*

        I was going to suggest this. Jigsaw Explorer is one of my fave online jigsaw puzzle sites. They have thousands of puzzles.

    5. My Brain is Exploding*

      Read to them. Give them a hand massage (look this up, I found good directions online and it’s my go-to when visiting someone in hospital). It doesn’t take long, but it feels good and also involves touch, which can be healing as well. Find those family photos that aren’t labelled and bring them in. Ask them some questions about their life and write down the answers. Simple card games (like War). Have people sent flowers, done favors, etc.? Bring in some note cards so they can write thank you notes.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Does your family have any exciting people who could send you a bunch of photos of the cool thing they recently did?

      (My daughter was in Europe when my mom had a stroke; looking at photos of her doing stuff was easy to pick up and put down, and then I could talk about the photos to give us a new topic.)

  26. Christmas cookie*

    We are taking the kids to Puerto Rico over their winter break (Feb not Dec). I haven’t been there as a child in a VERY long time, and I haven’t been as an adult for many years- and def not since hurricane maria.

    Anyone have tips? I have the flight booked but not accommodations. I am considering an airBnB + car slightly outside the city in a gated complex over a hotel- we are a big family and are not really hotel vacationers with the kids.

    I’d like to take the kids to the rain forest, but not sure what’s open and what is the right level for them (age 5/7/9). They are too small for zip lining. Any specific beaches to recommend (or avoid?).

    We’ll also do a day in old San Juan, but that’s not really their jam.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We went last year – sans kids, we’re empty nesters. We stayed in Luquillo, about 45 minutes south of San Juan and ten minutes from the entrance to the rain forest. We went hiking in the rain forest, which was lovely – it’s a full day. I don’t recall there being anything in particular to do other than hike. Warning: you need to buy entrance tickets beforehand and there is no cell service at the entrance to the rain forest so take a screenshot before you go.

      We’re going again in January and this time staying in San Juan.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I’ve heard the rainforest changed a lot since I was there because they haven’t had the resources to repair damage from the multiple storms etc. But we took a 3 year old there in 2018 and there were a couple shorter hiking paths that he could do. It was super helpful to have a car so I would recommend renting one. We got to the rainforest as soon as it opened and beat the tour busses there and it was amazing to be there basically alone (but there was no timed entry when we went so you might not be able to do that anymore). There are awesome kiosks with food and shopping by Luquillo Beach. If you do take a ferry to one of the other islands, I recommend NOT doing the cargo boat. It can be a very rough ride! There is a catamaran that is a LOT smoother.

    2. Cobalt*

      We enjoy Vieques and Culebra, but they are difficult to get to (ferry or flight). Maybe Luquillo would work well? If not Luquillo, the Isla Verde area of San Juan has a nice beach and the Marbella condos are often recommended on Tripadvisor. In the rainforest area, there are some swimming holes with natural rock slides. We did a fun hike to Mt Britton, but it would probably be too much for your kids ages.

  27. sagewhiz*

    Bread machine recs, please?

    Not for me, for 96-yr-old mom. Her’s died a couple of years ago and she’s recently mentioned maybe she’d like another one. Which struck me & my bro as a good idea for her Christmas gift this year.

    Since I know nothing about bread machines, I’m looking for good but not super expensive models. The most important *feature* has to be simplicity. Mom has slowed down a bit at her age and lessening of arm strength, but her ADD? Nope! So, no nut adders or whatever bells and whistles out there, as anything that plugs in can be screwed up by this is a woman record time. (Love her but she does drive me batty! ;-)

    1. ronda*

      I had one from my buy nothing group that was kind of big and bulky.

      my sister bought me the amazon basic one for using when I visit her. I like it cause it is much lighter. I will put link in separate comment

  28. Qwerty*

    Does anyone have experience with Lego robots? I’m debating getting a kit for me, an adult. Is there anything fun you can do with them? Are certain kits better than others? Or is there a more fun alternative?

    I don’t have anything in particular that I want to do with it so open to other brands. Current thought is to see if I can get the challenges from last years’s FIRST Lego League game and try to solve them on my own (I volunteer with the older groups, don’t have time during lego league season) My problem is I like working with low level stuff but I never have ideas since I enjoy a non-digital home life. I spent a lot of money on a cool robot arm a couple years ago but couldn’t figure out a useful project other than learning how to make it move (turns out it was intended for classrooms – I know 4 robotic engineers who had the same issue and disappointment).

    1. me too!*

      Aww. I don’t know about lego, but I had the same disappointment with a different robotic kit. Bought it, make it, and …. then what? it wasn’t robust enough for many things.

      1. Thunder Kitten*

        The spike prime kit is a lot of fun. There are limitations obviously (motor power, sensor accuracy), but you can do a LOT depending on your skill-set / creativity (check out instructions for a robotic rubix cube solver for example).

        Not sure what exactly you are looking for, but it’s a good all-purpose starter set, where you can make a pretty wide variety of fun things.

        The FLL challenge is a good option for getting started. Lots of missions, lots of potential different approaches. Good luck and share if you end up making something cool.

    2. mie*

      I think the FLL challenges will be a really good starting point! You could also look back at old ones – there must be like 20 years of past challenges at this point.

      In general the Lego robot kit can do a lot of basic things – motors, sensors, etc. I don’t think there are a whole lot of genuinely *useful* things you could do with it, but it’s a fun toy.

      In college we made small robots using Arduino. Honestly I like the text based coding of Arduino better than the visual (LabVIEW?) style that Lego uses, but Arduino is less of an integrated system.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Pittsburgh is wonderful! The Heinz Museum is great.

      The Strip is so fun – go to Pennsylvania Macaroni Company for sure. Lots of great cheese and bulk items and imported Italian foods.

      The little Italian bakery – La Prima – is great for a coffee and a pastry and watching old men speak Italian and play dominoes.

      Walk the Strip – there are so many street food vendors (the Korean pancakes are fabulous) and samples (walk through Wholley’s fish and graze) you won’t leave hungry.

      1. MissB*

        While visiting the Heinz museum, stop at The Porch across from Pitt’s campus (adjacent to Carnegie Mellon’s campus).

        After lunch, go see the conservatory just up the road- it’s worth walking around. They’ll have some fabulous displays for the holidays.

        And I agree with the Strip. Love the Pennsylvania Mac Co. We ate at Deluca’s diner for breakfast. It was good, pretty colorful place. Cash only.

        Pigeon Bagels in Squirrel Hill is good. Expect a wait. I don’t think they have tables? Maybe just grab and go.

    2. Not A Manager*

      The Warhol museum is terrific even if you don’t love Warhol. His work is much more expansive than just soup cans and studies of Mao. It’s really an unusual opportunity.

        1. glouby*

          Thanks for the museum rec – I’m interested in other recs too. Just my tired brain could not access other categories of fun activities to list lol!

          1. Nightengale*

            Putting in a plug here for the Aviary if you have time. It is just across the bridges from the usual downtown hotelly area. There are bird habitats you can just stand in.

    3. Bethlam*

      The Greater Allegheny Passage (bike/walk trail) starts at the Point, but you can access it from many points. Enjoy the elevated view of the
      Monongahela River from the Hot Metal Bridge.

    4. Bethlam*

      Noodlehead in Shadyside is an interesting place to eat. And the original Primanti’s is on the Strip.

    5. Doc McCracken*

      Lawrenceville is a wonderful neighborhood that is walkable with lots of great restaurants and cool businesses. If you want a unique way to relax, Victory Float has float cabins and an infrared sauna.

    6. Autumn*

      I lived in Pittsburgh for a year more than 20 years ago, and I still think about the pancakes at Pamela’s!

  29. Natalie*

    I am trying to write a card for a friend who is currently dying of cancer. I have absolutely no idea what to say. All of the cards that I have looked at just seemed terrible to me. I don’t want to tell her how ‘inspiring’ she is or how I ‘just know’ she will be able to overcome.
    I’m sure she would much rather be healthy than inspirational and none of us know if she will be able to overcome this horrible disease. Right now the experts are indicating that it is very unlikely that she will recover or survive.
    She is lovely and funny and wonderful. The world will be a darker place without her. I just want to write her a nice card. Any ideas? Right now I’m having trouble even getting started.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh dear. I think I’d go with a blank-inside card that just has a pretty or funny image on the front (depending on your relationship) and then on the inside write a personal message that is simple and direct: thinking of you so much right now, I’ve always been proud to be your friend, I’m thinking about all the great times we had together. Maybe you can share a memory. I’m sorry about your friend.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Start with this:
      “(You are) lovely and funny and wonderful. The world will be a darker place without (you).”
      then share some memories, maybe something you’ve learned from her, gratitude for a time she supported you, etc.
      If it’s logistically possible, you can ask if she’d like an in person visit.

      1. fposte*

        Though I’d skip the “darker place without you.” She’s here now. The world will probably be a darker place without you too, but do you want your friends saying that to you on cards? This is because you care for her, not because you’re pre-grieving.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I was thinking, if you’re not in the Inner Circle, I wouldn’t refer to this person’s expected passing directly (“I will miss you when you’re gone”) – that feels a bit tone-deaf to me, unless you are positive where they and their family are all on the spectrum of acceptance / denial / wanting to keep up the fight as long as possible. If you are, of course, then I change my answer, but “I love you and am thinking of you” is present day and always appropriate.

      2. Magdalena*

        The world will be a darker place without you

        I really really wouldn’t say it.

        I’d say that I’m thinking of her, and sending my love. I’d share a memory or express gratitude.

        1. Jessica*

          Your friendship has lit up my world, or something along those lines–reverse it. Not how much it’ll suck when she’s gone, but think about why that is, and tell her how she made your life better.

    3. Generic Name*

      I’m trying to think what would feel comforting to know if I were dying. Maybe how knowing her has made a positive impact on your and others lives. Be specific. Tell her how she matters and how her existing made the world better. Stuff like that.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      A ‘thinking of you’ card or a blank card. Try “empathy cards” as a google term.

      Two companies: “Not another bunch of flowers” and “Em and friends” for actual cards you can buy (I believe designed by a cancer patient fed up with the inspiration motif), or sentiments you can echo.

      Sample: Please let me be the first to punch the next person who tells you that everything happens for a reason.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Links–I think these are the same company with UK and US branches.
        Not Another Bunch of Flowers: https://www.notanotherbunchofflowers.com/collections/empathy-cards-by-emily-mcdowell
        I know there’s no normal to go back to. But I’m here to help you build a new one. And I’ll bring snacks.

        Em and Friends: https://emandfriends.com/collections/cancer
        I promise never to refer to your illness as a ‘journey’ unless someone takes you on a cruise.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I wrote a letter to a friend who was dying and told her how happy I was to have met her and how she had enriched my life. I talked about the fun times we had had together and told her how much I would miss her.

      But – I dragged it out because I didn’t want to do it and she died before I got it to her. :(

      I gave it to her husband, but man I wish I had forced myself to finish sooner.

      1. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

        It’s just as well that she died before you were able to send her your letter. I had a mastectomy in May, and for the time being, it appears that I have a good chance of surviving. But who knows what will happen? If my circumstances should change, and it’s determined that I have only a limited amount of time left, if I received a letter telling me how much I would be missed, I would feel worse than if I hadn’t received any letter at all. The letter would remind me that I had only a limited amount of time left. Who needs to be reminded of that? Not me! Why do people want to go out of their way to let someone who is dying be reminded that they are dying? Is it supposed to cheer them up?

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Thank you for your insight! I had not thought about it from your perspective. Although I hope not to have to think about this kind of letter again, I will definitely remember what you wrote.

          In my case, my friend had terminal cancer and we had already talked about her death in person. It was in June 2020 and I was afraid to hug her because of covid and she rolled her eyes and said, “I’m DYING it’s safe.”

          So yes – definitely know your audience on this one!

          1. Aquamarine*

            Yeah, there comes a point when a person isn’t going to be “reminded” of dying – the thought is with them all the time. It sounds like your friend was there, and for some people it’s a relief to have people around them who are willing to talk about it openly.

    6. Jelly*

      Perhaps a photo of the two of you (from the past) or a work of art, either one (or both, or some other object), accompanied by your saying to her “This is what you mean to me, always.”

    7. kina lillet*

      Here’s an example. Definitely get a blank card with an artful photo or illustration on the front.

      Hi friend,

      I’ve been thinking of you. Remember when we did (insert memory here)? (Write a little more about the memory).

      I also remember the time you said Y and I died laughing—you’re so funny and wonderful, you make life a little more sparkly. (Replace or add with another compliment).

      Sending my love. You’re such a wonderful friend to me and I’m so grateful to have you in my life.


    8. Ellis Bell*

      I would probably go 50 percent “remember when” memories and 50 percent full on admiration: tell her all the things that make her awesome.

    9. Hrodvitnir*

      As someone who may well die of cancer (my surveillance looks fine this far but I have Suspicious symptoms and the most likely metastasis for me is likely to be end-stage), my feeling is maybe start by thinking of what you might write if someone was moving away forever and toy couldn’t keep contact easily.

      I am more equinanimous than most about death, though I’m sure I will be afraid when the times comes, but personally I would just appreciate expressions of love and shared experiences that can avoid feeling like they need something (emotional labour) from me, or like they’re sort of vomiting love all over me as a form of grief.

      I’m not sure if that’s helpful. I don’t know how I would do it myself. But I think focusing on the person they are outside of their diagnosis is key, really. You want to give them happy or caring things that are a distraction from what they’re going through rather than a reminder.

      I appreciate you making the effort. People often disappear because they don’t know what to do, and it hurts a lot.

    10. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Is her cancer stage 4? That’s the kind that people die from, but many people live WITH it for several years. If she’s end stage and only on palliative care, hats nearing the end and it’s a lot different situation than someone on active treatment but with good days otherwise. If she’s stage 4, please don’t say thing like “you’ll beat this” because she won’t and I’m 99% sure she’s fully aware of it, because doctors don’t keep their patients ignorant, and haven’t in decades. When one of my out-of-town friends was final stage, we still talked about regular things and cracked each other up, until the time came that she couldn’t follow conversations. At that point, I just told her how much she meant to me, and tried to keep our texts simple.

    11. Samwise*

      Get a card with a blank inside and a nice outside. Maybe something related to their interests? Write your own message. First sentence: how sorry you are. Rest of card: a good memory of/with them. Last sentence: how much you love them. Sign.

      When your friend passes, this will be a nice card for their family to read, too.

    12. Anon. Scientist*

      Another vote for getting a blank card that you think she would like and just writing that you’re thinking of her and wish her the best. That’s it! You can always write another, better card later but in the meantime she’s gotten a card that’s far better than a theoretically perfect card that doesn’t exist.

    13. Natalie*

      Thank you everyone!

      This was really helpful. I have the blank cards, I just couldn’t figure out what to write in any of them, but you guys have given me some good ideas. I just kept picking up my pen and crying; not helpful to anyone.

      I appreciate you all so much. This comment section is a lifeline.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Write just that: I love you. You are lovely, funny, and wonderful.

      Nothing is ever enough, but knowing you have loved ones? Is everything.

  30. Be the Change*

    Let’s have an app recommendation thread. What’s an app you love or find very useful? Why? Does it cost anything?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Hobby ones for me, mainly: the Little Free Library map, so that wherever I am I can see if there are any LFLs nearby; the Geocaching app (and the associated Adventure Lab app), for the same reason.

    2. Jelly*

      I have a free app from Google Play that identifies plants via photos and provides instructions for care. There are a few of those there (all free). The one I have works great!

        1. Hrodvitnir*

          Seek is great. It’s an offshoot of iNaturalist.

          I just checked and the app they mentioned is for gardening care and I’m not sure Seek does that, but if you want a plant ID app it’s very good.

        2. Jelly*

          Hi Magdalena – Sure, it’s “Picture This – Plant Identifier.” I found it using the search phrase “plant identifier app free” in the Google Play Store.

          Good luck! :)

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I love Merlin (to ID birds by the songs and calls) and have just discovered SkyView (to identify constellations and planets). They each work by your pointing your phone at the thing – either the bird sound or the sky.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, yes, Merlin! A friend got me onto that one; it’s great fun to have it pop up with a bird ID while I’m wandering around in the woods looking for that geocache {grin}.

      2. Hrodvitnir*

        Woah, how cool! I would imagine Merlin does not have data for birds in Aotearoa, but I’ll check it out anyway. (It might! We’re pretty into our birds.)

      3. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Oh! in Fall 2020 my daughter was taking an astronomy class in college and had to do late night dark sky observations for her class, and didn’t feel safe heading out alone, so she invited me (and my camera + tripod) along. We drove way out of town and sat for hours watching the sky doing homework and taking photos.
        She used that app and it was so helpful!
        Thanks for reviving some of my favorite pandemic era memories.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      1 Second Everyday – you add short video clips of your daily life and it makes a cute little compilation. I don’t update every day but just when I feel like it. It’s a really great gratitude activity or low-effort style of journaling and it’s so nice to look back at a month that felt boring and be like “oh yeah, I went out for dinner and did a craft and saw a pretty tree” and so on.

      InCollage – great photo editor with a lot of free features (layouts, backgrounds, text, etc)

      Loop Habit Tracker – I use it for self improvement goals (exercise, reading, going to bed earlier etc) but also a bit of task management (did the kids get their allowance this week?). Very simple set up and navigation.

    5. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      All of them are for Android:

      Love: Infinity Loop (full name: Infinity Loop: Relaxing Puzzle). Just something to take my mind off things for a couple of minutes, but indeed very soothing.

      Useful: ColorNote (full name: ColorNote Notepad Notes). Easy to set up simple to do lists, checklists, and notes, and organize them by color.

      Useful: Russian Topo Maps (I have the paid version). I hike a lot, and have several other apps for navigation, but especially for downloading and accessing different sources of maps and hiking internationally, it’s very handy.

    6. Hrodvitnir*

      Not productivity, but if you find colour interesting/have full colour vision, there’s an app called I Love Hue (on Android, doing know about Apple.)

      It’s just arranging tiles into various spectra, and I find it very satisfying. Plus interesting to observe the weaknesses in my colour vision. It’s incredibly low pressure, which is my bag.

      Also Smash Hit (on Android and Apple by Mediocre). Not low-pressure: you’re flying through a maze with glass obstacles you have to smash at increasing speed. But it’s beautiful and incredibly satisfying to me. Sad they never made more levels.

    7. Jelly*

      I have the Calm app through work, so it’s the paid version but free for me. It’s a wonderful app, imo; lots of different avenues to explore. My favorite are the fairy tales voiced by people with the smoothest, most comforting voices ever. It’s a great way to fall asleep.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I have multiple iPhone game apps by developer Raffaele D’Amato. I originally bought the “Arcadia” app for a few bucks because it said it didn’t have any ads, any in-app purchases, or do any tracking – you buy the game and then you have the game. It’s a bunch of little timewaster games, themed to look pixeled/retro, the types of games remind me of the kinds of things you’d get in the Windows Entertainment Packs back in Windows 3.1 or shareware from that era.

      I’ve been playing a few minutes at a time here and there when I need something less engaging than an ebook and there have been no ads and no limited functionality to try to get me to spend more money, so I eventually bought the rest of the things the developer had available on the app store, which cost me another couple bucks, to encourage the old-school non-annoying business model involved.

    9. ecnaseener*

      Libby! Free ebooks through your library. (You can use it on desktop too so the app’s not essential but it’s nice to get notifications about your holds.)

      And i love having the Wikipedia app, even though that’s obviously accessible in a browser too.

  31. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Mint (as in the financial tracking/budgeting application, not the cellular phone company) is shutting down at the end of the year (or at least, migrating to a new owner who is not maintaining most of its features). So far my top two alternatives are Monarch Money or Tiller – anybody have experience with either, or another alternative? These two both are offering 30 day free trials, and Monarch is offering half off for the first year for Mint transfers with an option to import current Mint data, which is appealing.

    I specifically am looking for an option that lets me import my transactions from multiple banks, not manual entry, and I know I don’t (personally, you do you) like YNAB. I’m pretty much resigned to the notion that whatever I pick is going to have a subscription fee, which annoys me, but the free options I’ve found so far don’t have all the features I would prefer, and if I wanted to skip those features I could just make an Excel spreadsheet on my own.

    1. Not So Little My*

      I switched to Tiller about 6 months ago and I love it. I appreciate the data privacy and the level of control and customization I have. It’s best for folks who are comfortable with spreadsheets, but the support forums are great if you need help.

    2. Stevie Budd*

      I have been using Simplifi for a few months and I like it. I also don’t care for YNAB. There is a fairly small annual fee for Simplifi. I like that I can set my expected bills and other planned spending (e.g. groceries) and see the money I have available for spending.

    3. Jessica*

      Not trying to start a fight, I know there are YNAB fans here, but people who didn’t like it, why not? What’s different about the ones you’re using instead?
      I tried with YNAB and it seemed like it would have been great except I could never get it to sync with my bank correctly. So something that’s “like YNAB but works” would be my ideal, I think.

      1. Patina*

        I can answer this weirdly as someone who both does and does not used YNAB. I use (and adore!) YNAB4, which I paid something like $40 for ten years ago and is desktop-based. The current iteration of YNAB is web-based and a subscription service, about $100 a year which is absurd. I loathe SaaS, I don’t give a rip about bank sync and as you pointed out, it’s often broken anyway. Plus I hate the way they changed credit card handling. So I love YNAB4, but if it ever stopped working, there’s no way I’d pay for new YNAB. I’d just move to a spreadsheet or try any of the numerous YNAB knockoffs out there (probably none of which are as good as YNAB4, but I think some of them are a decent approximation–the two that come to mind are Actual Budget and Budget With Bucket, though I haven’t tried either myself).

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I think I find the “a purpose for every dollar” concept that YNAB uses stressful – I budget the big stuff, and I have targets in my budget for hobbies and things like that, and I do categorize all my transactions as they come in. But my budgeting/financial tracking habits (after the big stuff that makes sure all my bills are paid and my savings accounts are all funded where I want them to be) are generally more reactive than proactive – I go “Where did I spend my extra money this month, out of curiosity” and it always seemed like YNAB wanted me to go “Where am I going to spend my extra money next month, because that is of dire importance” if that makes sense. (I recognize that there is privilege in this comment and that my way works because I am fortunate enough to have extra money.)

      3. RagingADHD*

        I am not crazy about it because it lets you budget all the money in all the accounts, all the time. So I never really figured out how to show that I was saving a certain amount from each paycheck for intermittent large expenses, and then keep the money in those categories. It would always flow together, which defeats the purpose. Maybe there’s a way to do it, but I never figured it out.

        I liked the ease of reconciling the bank accounts, but I just kept running my Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my category savings.

    4. Doc McCracken*

      Wave Accounting is a free alternative to Quickbooks and has bank syncing. I think you could probably make that work easily enough for your personal budget. It might be a little overkill though.

  32. Llellayena*

    Bridesmaids dresses! David’s Bridal discontinued the color I wanted and I haven’t been able to find an alternate in a similar color that looks “Star Trek” enough. Am I crazy to consider making the dresses? I have the sewing skills and it’s only 3 dresses but I’d need to slightly alter the pattern I found (add a zipper, double layer the bodice part).

    Also, if you’re located near central NJ, there’s a Veteran’s Day concert at the Trenton War Memorial (11/11) at 7:30pm. Look up the Lotus Project for tickets!

    1. Dinoweeds*

      Unless you’re an accomplished sewist I wouldn’t do it! Planning a wedding was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done and I couldn’t imagine trying to make dresses on top of it. Etsy might be a good place to look. Good luck!

    2. HBJ*

      No, I don’t think you’re crazy assuming you have a good amount of time. Do it ahead of time. Do not stress yourself out finishing gems the day before.

      I know people who’ve sewn bridesmaid dresses. The only thing I’d say is make sure you get ACCURATE measurements. Preferably, take the measurements yourself. Or make a muslin and send it to the person and have her send pics of herself with it on.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Hmm, YMMV but as someone who has been a bridesmaid multiple times, I don’t think I’d be thrilled at the bride deciding to take my measurements herself or to make my dress – although I guess the cost savings is very nice. One, I’d just feel weird having them think a lot about my bust size and my hip-to-waist ratio, and two I don’t want to hurt the bride’s feelings if I don’t like the dress – this is already typically a sticking point, but now it’s worse – or if I want to get it altered to fit me better. And I really don’t want them to be stressed out if I gain weight and it doesn’t fit anymore or whatever.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Same – every time I’ve been provided a homemade bridesmaid dress, it’s never fitted properly. The last one, not only could I not lift my arms any higher than I needed to hold a bouquet because the shoulders were too narrow, but I literally had to tear the dress apart to get it off at the end of the night because I subsequently couldn’t reach the zipper. (Luckily I hated it and wouldn’t have worn it again anyway, it was also a terrible color and about four inches too short for my comfort zone.)

        2. HBJ*

          For one, as someone who sews, I’ll just say that measurements are just data. It’s not that deep. I’ve had someone make me a bridesmaid dress, and it was no big deal. If you don’t like the dress … don’t tell her? I haven’t liked every bridesmaid dress I’ve ever worn, but I don’t tell the bride that. I just quietly donate later. Surely, you wouldn’t tell the bride you hated a bought dress either? And weight gain or loss stress would be a thing with bought or handmade dresses.

        3. Emmy Noether*

          As someone who sews, I had to laugh/sigh at “cost savings”. Sewing is not a cost saving activity anymore!
          Well, it is if you compare to buying bespoke or designer, but the materials for sewing alone (not even considering time spent!) are frequently more expensive than the same thing ready-to-wear. Yes, this is absurd, but this is where fast fashion has led us.

          Might also be less expensive than explicit “bridesmaid” dresses, since everything wedding related is overpriced fourfold, in which case I recommend buying dresses that aren’t explicitly marketed for bridesmaids.

          As for the sewing, I think it depends largely on how much free time one has and the relationship with the bridesmaids. I’ve heard of people really enjoying it and bonding over it, but it has the potential to get really stressful. I’d say if you’re hesitant at all or think it might end up being stressful, complicated (organizing those fittings, etc), or tight time-wise, don’t do it!

    3. Generic Name*

      Have you looked on Etsy? I’ve known people who got their wedding dresses from there. Custom made. I bet there are people who make bridesmaids dresses.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ve never heard anyone say “Planning the wedding was easy and relaxed, and I had a lot of extra time on my hands that I could have used for DIY crafty stuff.”

        I type this as someone who made my wedding dress. But adding in several bridesmaid dresses: oof.

    4. Llellayena*

      Additional context: I’m having my wedding dress custom made (not by me!) and can probably get help with the “fitting” part. It’s just too expensive for her to make all 4. If I can do the basic sewing, that lowers the cost into “reasonable” territory…I hope

    5. Turtle Dove*

      I sewed my two bridesmaids’ dresses several decades ago and am glad I did. As HBJ said, just do it early. I finished the bridesmaids’ dresses well ahead of time, but I was up way too late finishing my veil the night before our wedding. The two dresses make a good memory, but the veil not so much.

      I’d also suggest picking a simple style. I can sew well but hadn’t worked much with satiny fabric. That made the sheath style we picked plenty challenging.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      The only regrets I have about my wedding are the things I DIYed. If I could do it again I would just look for options in my budget that were good enough even if they didn’t fit my exact dream. I wouldn’t consider sewing wedding clothes unless that was an area I had significant practice and skill in already, and even then I probably wouldn’t lol

    7. MissCoco*

      What was the discontinued color? Does Azazie have anything remotely similar? I would probably go with a less-good color rather than the pressure of sewing 3 dresses.

      In my opinion, yes, it’s absolutely wild to even consider sewing 3 bridesmaid dresses. It’s a ton of work and pressure for you, and frankly it’s a fair amount of pressure for your bridesmaids to get their measurements perfect and then have a handmade dress. Wedding planning is SO much, and unless this is the only thing you are DIYing (and even then, it’s still a tall order) I would not add bridesmaid dresses.

      1. Llellayena*

        Azazie has a similar option but the styling is…less kind to the body shapes involved. I’ve got it favorited just in case though.

    8. Anono-me*

      Before you tackle that, I would like to suggest trying to find the DB dresses second hand. In addition to eBay, the major wedding planning sites have resale sections and recently I was able to do a single entry search of all Goodwill online stores that ship.

    9. Rachel*

      I am only giving this opinion because you specifically asked for it.

      Some people are very good at graciously accepting comments about their own work. It is quite understandable that some people are more touchy about hearing “I don’t like the way this gathers here” or “this is a little tight through the bust.”

      If you would be offended if your bridesmaids took the garment to another person to alter it, do not do this. If you would be flustered or put out because you have to alter something last minute because somebody lost or gained weight, do not do it.

      Bridesmaids are already in a position where they feel obligated to wear what you want and most consider this par for the course in being a bridesmaid. It is heightened when your skill is tied up in the situation.

      Again, this might work out super well, but you need to be honest with yourself going into it.

    10. miel*

      If it were me, I would 1000% not make the dresses! I would look online (there are several websites that do made-to-order bridesmaid dresses for $100-$150 in many color options, which to me is well worth it), or find accessories to make the theme work: scarves, hair clips, bracelets, shoes, etc.

      That being said, if making dresses is where you want to invest your time and energy and money, that’s totally your decision.

      A final note – in my experience, things can and do change before weddings: the bridesmaid lineup; each person’s exact measurements, etc. I actually put off ordering my dress as long as I could to try to make sure it would fit correctly.

    11. Anon. Scientist*

      As the granddaughter of what used to be a seamstress, the daughter of someone who coordinated the sewing of bridesmaid dresses, and as someone who wore a handmade bridesmaid dress and was involved in the logistics (a nightmare and this was for dresses that were separate skirts/tops and were fairly forgiving of fit issues), please don’t. There’s a ton of extra emotion and obligation around making someone a dress that may or may not be comfortable and they may or may not actually like. Give them the gift of making it less emotionally fraught.

      And note that I have not even gotten into the logistics. I will gently say that if you are picky enough to make dresses for your bridesmaids instead of finding anything online, it will be a LOT of extra effort that you may not be expecting if you have not previously made clothing for other adults.

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’d say it depends on both how much experience you have sewing matching/costume items and on how much of your wedding planning time you want to spend sewing the dresses.

      When my mom got remarried when I was in college, she sewed the bridesmaid dresses herself and it went fine, but she only had 2 bridesmaids (me and my new stepsister) and she’d regularly sewed special-occasion outfits for me my entire childhood (matching mother-daughter dresses for Mothers day, Halloween costumes, etc.) so it wasn’t as much new figuring out as it would have been otherwise. (She also picked a dress pattern that didn’t need close fitting and she knew was well within her abilities – I think it was one she’d sewn before. I think part of the reason she sewed the dresses herself is because she knew I’d be more comfortable in something with a longer skirt and actual sleeves, so she picked something more ren faire adjacent than cocktail party adjacent.)

      However, she also had a long timeline and not much else “big” she was trying to accomplish, and a backup plan of having the two of us just go buy matching less-formal dresses at the mall if everything went south. (My stepsister and I have similar body types and sizes, so if we wanted to wear matching outfits every day, which we do not, we could probably accomplish that pretty easily buying off the rack at Kohls or JC Penneys.)

      I’d say to only sew the dresses yourself if you’ve sewed a set of matching dresses before so you know about what you’re in for. On the other hand, if you’re the person who is usually sewing group cosplay projects for everyone going to the con with you, then three dresses for a wedding seems more in reach.

    13. Doc McCracken*

      Have you considered making Infinity Dresses? They are a simple skirt with long wide straps that can be worn a dozen different ways. They are very flattering and work with every body type, especially if you let your bridesmaids decide how to wear the top part. Search on Pinterest for instructions. With any sewing skills you can knock a dress out in about an hour.

  33. LTR*

    Hi! Those of you who are in long term relationships, I need your opinion. What is an acceptable level of annoyance with one’s partner? Perhaps not on a dealbreaker level, but it does irk you. I have been contemplating this in my 6 year relationship. I love so much about my partner and also the longer we know each other, the more of our quirks can pop up. My sibling says it’s just part of accepting people long term, and my single friends say it’s settling. One thing that’s come up often is that my partner rarely plans things—I’ve become the sole planner of dates, outings, etc. He doesn’t like it, so I do it. At the same time, I’ve noticed I’ve become more annoyed at all the work planning takes and would like a date planned for myself. However, he takes care of paying for things and is always fun on the trip (plus he helps takes care of day to day things that give me space to plan like doing the cleaning.)

    I feel like some level of annoyance is normal with anyone you’ve been with for a long time, but when does it cross the line to it being worrisome?

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think this is also a “know yourself” kind of question. One of my least favorite things about myself is that I get annoyed by people easily and need a lot of alone time to regulate (I also get annoyed at myself easily, but I can’t really get away from me. I accept that I am just easily irked). So according to me, almost everyone in my life, including people I really love like my parents, my closest friends, and my pets, are also sources of not-infrequent frustration. Therefore, although I’m not currently in a relationship (gee, can’t imagine why), I have to accept that realistically I’m going to get fussed by that person too. Blissful serenity is just not my bag in this life. Where would you say you fall on this spectrum? If that’s your main complaint, I’d say you’re doing pretty good AND you should expect to speak up and be heard on this issue and be accommodated occasionally, while keeping expectations on the lower end.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        From commentary here, I feel like you and I have a lot of things in common, Sloanicota :) My standard state of being is mildly annoyed, and I routinely threaten to stab my husband with ridiculous things like frozen peas, potatoes and paper towels. (Luckily, he both finds it funny, and knows better most of the time than to laugh at me to my face about it.)

        I’m also pretty good at using my words – like, this week he’s been putting a lot of weirdly over the top effort into preparing to make a big fancy dinner for his gaming group, and it finally clicked for me yesterday that the biggest reason this was annoying me (other than the fact that he can’t cook without using EVERY DAMN DISH AND UTENSIL I OWN and the way he does things is NOT THE WAY I WOULD DO THINGS yes I just stay out of the kitchen when he cooks but STILL I KNOW) is that he’s literally never put any kind of effort into making a dinner like this for ME, so I told him that. So this morning he informed me that he made an extra serving of the fancy dessert and left it in the fridge labeled for “Best of Wives, Best of Women” ( <3 ), assured me that that meant me, and that he prepped extra servings of fancy dinner as well and would be fixing it for him and me tomorrow night. Annoyance largely abated, aided by the fact that he finished cleaning up all the kitchen mess before he left for his gaming group. All that to say, if you (both) can create ways around it that work for both you and partner, it's deal-able. If you can't find resolutions, red flag.

      2. LTR*

        I appreciate this perspective! I am definitely coming to terms that I’m more irritated with people in general than I have admitted to myself :’) this gave me some permission that I might not feel happy all the time because I am not a happy all the time personality lol. I was just talking to my partner that I noticed how grumpy I’ve been in general.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I will say that specialization is really, really common over time because it is more efficient. It’s fine so long as you both feel it’s a reasonable tradeoff, which this sounds like. The being-a-cheerful-companion aspect and the taking-the-drudge stuff are both significant plusses. You can each have dealbreakers, and those don’t need to be big things.

      I would suggest putting hard limits on how much effort you will put into planning, where it stays fun for you. If he wants more frequency, more new stuff, etc, then that is reasonable to turn back on him to make it happen sometimes. But if it’s more that he wouldn’t bother at all if you didn’t do it, or he would select the same monthly outing left to his own devices, then the stuff he planned in a 50-50 attempt would likely turn out not to be as fun–more angst for both of you, but not an improvement in outcome.

      Anecdote on doing the planning: Someone described how they learned, years after their dad died, that the parents’ first Xmas she saw him in the mall, deer-in-headlights terrified, and realized that this skill of thoughtful present selection was not in his wheelhouse. So she bought her own gifts, and he wrapped them–she thought the kids should see him give her gifts as a good model–and thus did things function smoothly.

      Another anecdote: Someone had dated a person who was GREAT at selecting gifts. Things you would never have thought of, that were perfect. They were a meh partner in other ways and eventually broke up, but man, those gifts were awesome.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I will say that for me doing all family trip planning:
      • My spouse and kids abided by the rule that if you don’t want to discuss planning, then you do not complain and you are a fun and engaging travel companion.
      • I do not put any effort into trips I am not going on. I have realized that my husband thought of this request as “thoughtfully including me, since I am really good at this and he is asking me to do a thing I’m super good at” and was willing to stop when he realized I did not appreciate the gesture.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes, for my friend who is an excellent planner and her husband who is not, she expressed that their system does reward her also by allowing her to pick trips she’s interested in; her husband, by forfeiting at the planning stage, is agreeing to either be a good companion or not come at all. She may occasionally *think* she wants him to plan trips and outings, but in reality, she’s a lot pickier than he is, and would not be able to abide a put-up-or-shut-up system as he cheerfully does. So really the way they are works for both of them, and she just needs him to find ways to otherwise show care/appreciation occasionally.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This really hits on an important point: what PART of “I plan date nights” is specifically rubbing you the wrong way?

        Right now your brain is most likely grouping it under “ARRRRGH I always have to DO THIS THING” but is it more than just general irritation? Does he automatically complain about your choices? Insist on after the fact detail adjusting that requires lots of rescheduling or such? Refuse to try X restaurant or project? Act bored or tired or disengaged on the outing?

    4. Still*

      As Falling Diphthong said, it’s normal to specialise as long as it works for you and feels balanced, but when it doesn’t, you should be able to talk about it.

      Your partner rarely plans things… but it sounds like they have done it occasionally. How do they respond when you say that all the planning is stressing you out? If you asked them to plan one date a month for the two of you, would he say yes or would he argue with you that he shouldn’t have to? Would he do it and do it well?

      What’s a solution that would actually make you happy, and might there be more than one? Are you annoyed about the amount of work you each put in or is it actually about what you think it signifies about the level of care each of you show? Would it help if you could be allowed to completely drop some things, even if it means they don’t get done at all? Would it help if you stayed the default planner but he started really properly expressing his gratitude for the work you put in? Is there a specific activity that you hate planning that you would like him to take over?

      I’ve been in a relationship just a little bit longer than you have and it has got less and less annoying, not more. As we learn about each other, we get better and better at balancing our common workload, about being really appreciative of what the other does, about taking on the things that the other person dislikes the most. We talk and we find a balance that feels fair to us, and when it starts feeling annoying or unbalanced again, we adjust.

      It’s not perfect, we get annoyed with each other every now and then… but it’s never for a sustained period of time.

    5. Double A*

      I let myself sometimes indulge in the “I wish” thinking about my husband. He is also not a planner, and planning is basically my love language. And he’s not even always good company on the things I do plan. I let myself feel sorry for myself about this sometimes. But really and truly, partners can’t be everything to each other. Like Dan Savage says, there’s no The One, there’s just a lot of .7s that we round up. And sometimes that missing .3 seems to look really large and you need to bring yourself back to appreciating the .7. And appreciate how your partner is also generous enough to round up for you.

      I think it crosses the line into being worrisome when you start feeling contempt for you partner for the things you’re annoyed about, like letting yourself think they’re a bad person or a failure for not being the way you’d prefer. Contempt can erode a relationship really quick.

    6. am I awake?*

      In my long-term (25 years!) relationship – there are some chores I do, there are some chores my partner does. I would look at planning dates as a chore to be done, and put it on the “list”, and ask him explicitly to do it once a month (or whatever frequency you want), but then — in fairness — take some chore off his list for that week. A date night is just another chore to be done. If he’s really unsure of what to do – treat him like he’s just learning the task, and never *never* be mad. So you’d say: pick one of * a movie, * a night at the museum, * a concert, and then pick a restaurant (one of these options), buy the tickets and we’ll go.

      I mean, my SO loves concerts, but hates dealing with the phone or online payment systems, so I’ve bought 6 or 8 concerts for him this year. I do the phoning/booking and he’s very happy. Why does he have a barrier to this? I don’t know. But I’ve only vacuumed once in the last 4 months, so it’s even.

      1. LTR*

        Ah this is such an interesting way to look at it! I do really like the concept of it being another chore. What I get stuck on at times (and perhaps it builds some resentment), is that I wonder if this is something socialized for men (the lack of planning.) so many of the women in my life are in charge of that, and they basically have to pull teeth to have their husbands plan something. Walking a man through a task like he’s just learning something *I* don’t think I was taught to do, but felt like was my job since being the only daughter in a family of brothers, irks me a bit. Not necessarily at him, because he didn’t ask for that, but at society at large you know?

        1. Angstrom*

          I think women are socialized to be social planners and family event planners. The flip side is that men are expected to know how to plan mechanical and construction projects including home repairs and remodeling. Is planning and completing a sink replacement comparable to planning a long weekend for the family? Is that a fair tradeoff?

        2. am I awake?*

          Put the social issues aside. It doesn’t matter how he got to where he is or how you got to where you are: you’re both where ever you are now. If he needs to learn, he needs to learn.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I completely agree. My husband and I have been together for 33 years (married for 27 years). I’m always the one researching and planning the travel. He’s always the one handwashing the dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher. That’s a good tradeoff to me. :)

    7. Not A Manager*

      So, possibly a silly question, but have you directly asked him to plan an outing? Not because he likes doing it, not because you are bad at it, not because you never want to plan anything again, but just because it would please you to have fun date that you didn’t have to put a lot of work into.

      1. LTR*

        Not a silly question! I have, but it hasn’t gone super well. I admit part of it is on me, because I do so much planning my expectations can feel higher than necessary. But other times my partner will consult me on so many aspects of the planning (“should we do this? If we did this how would we do it?”) that I feel like I’m planning it myself. Other times he just plain forgets I’ve asked for him to plan something. Somehow he rarely forgets planning for his bike trips though lol. But I know he has a different way of thinking than me, and he also has a disability that impairs his memory and energy, so these things give me context too.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Well, this matters to you. I would literally put “plan Surpise Date” on your shared calendar for two weeks in the future, and tell him clearly that you want to put zero effort into the event. Tell him that him taking on the burden is 90% of the experience you want, and that you’d rather have something simple that he plans All By Himself than something complicated that you need to participate in.

          Hopefully, you get taken out for a movie and gourmet hotdogs, or something equally simple, and you both learn what he’s capable of. If so, maybe you can make this a more regular expectation. But you need to be really gracious about whatever he puts together.

          If he still can’t muster the effort, then frankly I would see this as a relationship problem. Ymmv and it doesn’t mean that you *have* to see it as a relationship problem, but I would.

        2. RagingADHD*

          How have you reacted in the past to gifts or surprises that didn’t meet your expectations?

          I think if you’re going to challenge him to plan something, you have to accompany that with a promise not to be critical of it. Don’t set a test for him.

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            THIS. My husband used to hate it when I asked him to plan things because he thought it was a test. It wasn’t – I just wanted to to do something for my birthday that I didn’t have to plan. It took a while (and TBH a lot of 12-step work) for him to get past that.

            I am one of those people who finds the planning to be part of the fun of the trip. I used to then monitor everyone’s enjoyment level and feel horrible if they weren’t having THE VERY BEST TIME. This did not leave me a lot of room for having fun. Now that I have (mostly) let go of that, we’ve found a good balance. We discuss what we want to do in general terms, I make specific plans and check them with the people involved, and I have accepted that it’s his responsibility to speak up if he doesn’t want to do something and thus if he doesn’t enjoy it, that’s on him and not my problem to fix.

          2. Jackalope*

            Yeah, we have a general rule in my marriage that you either help plan or you go along cheerfully with what the other person planned. Helping plan can be as minimal as giving your vote on 2-3 options and then letting the other person take it from there. But whatever you leave up to them, you accept their decisions unless there was something clearly not okay that they should have known (like my husband’s vegetarian sister would get understandably cranky if he took her to a steakhouse).

            We do get s lot of mileage out of having one person do the original research providing 2-4 options, and then the other person is the one who picks from those 2-4 options. Then the planning person who did the research does the rest of the work (tickets, reservations, whatever). That makes it likely that both people will be happy.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Along with this rule: If you outright say no to a suggestion, you have to make the next suggestion, you can’t just be the naysayer all the time and keep making the other person do the thinking.

    8. kina lillet*

      I think it really depends on how often and how intense the annoyance is, and whether you can talk about it.

      Are you walking around feeling crabby about this often? Can you ask him to take on something else that would make it feel more fair? Would that work for you?

      My husband and I each feel like the other person does more than 50% of the work. I get annoyed at people easily but I absolutely did not settle on this; a good relationship in terms of irritation and labor is possible.

      It’s also achieved through a series of different deals. For example:

      – We do 50-50 on cooking. We each fully plan and cook alternating nights. I had to eat some not-gourmet meals while he practiced for several years but it was super worth it.
      – I do all the laundry, he folds all the laundry. I really hate folding so I asked him if it was a fair trade, he said yes
      – When we moved to a house with in-unit laundry, it felt less fair for him, so we adjusted & he no longer hangs up my dresses
      – I cut the cats’ nails and groom them, he takes out the litter. It really feels like I’m getting a good deal on this, but he assures me it’s fine

    9. fposte*

      I’m with Slonicota—it’s about figuring out your personal price of admission. How much is this person’s company worth to you? How much does company matter to you, period?

      I totally get you on the gendered elements of this that make it extra annoying, especially with the note that he plans his bike trips just fine, and there’s the whole “if I plan the whole thing and leave it to you just to pull the trigger, is that really taking any burden off me?” question. On paper, if he’s covering daily cleaning I’d call it a fair trade, but that little word “helps” gives me pause, and also I might weight that balance differently than you.

      Some possibilities to consider: taking a break from planning for a while, or planning you-only or you and friends trips. Or asking him again, being specific that part of the task is leaving you the eff out of the planning and indicating that you expect at least a hotel booking and a dinner reservation so he has things to check off. And that would also involve you accepting that he will not plan like you and that that is not a necessary standard—that you’ve decided having him set up a break matters more to you than dotting your travel i’s.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      I think that you have to protect your grudge clock in relationships, and that’s why both people have to be flexible and ready to adapt when one of you says “you know, this is starting to bug me”. As far as accepting people… mmm I think that applies when you’re talking about unchangeable aspects of someone’s personality, like their introversion/extroversion, political or religious beliefs, or things they aren’t typically tremendous at; I don’t really think it applies when you need to shake up taking sole responsibility for a task (even if they aren’t as awesome as it as you are and even if it’s mostly important to you). I think if this is an important need for you, he could probably do something towards meeting that need; so why not just have a good faith conversation that you need a planning free date and see where it goes? Wouldn’t you want to know if his grudge clock was getting turned on for one of the tasks that he usually takes care of? Of course you would. So discuss how often you’d like him to do it Vs how often he would be willing to, is there an option to do planning free dates sometimes (something me and my partner do is just walk around our city and try to find something new, or go to a deli and picnic in our car); should he use the dates you’ve previously planned as a pattern guide, or should he design something totally new for it to count? If he needs help, is there someone in your friendship or family circle he could get good guidance on to the level it meets your standards, so you’re not looped back in as the planning consultant. Just try spitballing a bunch of ideas; there’s no bad idea when brainstorming.

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      I believe that there is some “settling” involved in any relationship. And actually, your single friends are also “settling”- they are “settling” for being single. But you get to decide your own dealbreakers.
      I think for me worrisome is when resentment builds and you can’t acknowledge with your partner what you are resentful about.

    12. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Sconding lots of the other suggestions, questions and ways of looking at/dealing with the situation and your annoyance.
      Adding the concept of the “seven year itch”, according to which contentment/happiness and annoyance/dissatisfaction in long term relationships is cyclicle, and often waxes and wanes in a period of about seven years.
      Which is something I have found to be true in my own 20+ year long relationship. In approximately every seventh year we seem to be a bit “over” each other – easily annoyed by the other, finding the other less charming and funny, often thinking about whether the relationship still feels right to us, wanting to spend less time with eachother or at least less willing to make time to spend with eachother, …
      We deal with it by investing more consciously into the relationship – being more aware of the actual source and reasonable level of annoyance, talking about small problems quickly and nonconfrontional and making sure we don’t “stew” on stuff, offering up more of the topics and ideas we are individually interested in at that moment to share with the other, accepting more of those offers, accepting that the other person may have changed over the course of the last years but that they still are fundamentally a/the person you love very much.
      So far, the negative feelings have always passed and we have come out of that year with more understanding, care for, and love of eachother.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I think this isn’t an issue with who your partner is, but with your communication. Have you expressed how you feel about this, and how much it would mean to you to have him do the planning, at least sometimes?

      If so, what was the response? If not, why not? If he is just legitimately bad at it and you actually prefer your own way of doing things, is there a different way he could step up and make you feel cared for?

      I think ignoring it and labeling it as “settling” are both shallow responses. Address it, and see whether it gets worked out or uncovers more significant issues.

      Stuff like this isn’t usually a deal breaker for relationships on its own. But if you can’t address it together, that communication block might be a deal breaker. (Or you might break through the block and find a new level of trust).

    14. Washi*

      Very similarly, my husband plans zero outings/day trips/dates/social events. However, it’s really confined to fun optional stuff – for example he’s the one on top of our son’s medical appointments and vaccinations (our son is 1.5 so it’s not just like, yearly well visits.)

      We’ve talked about it and I’ve accepted it won’t change because everything else is really great. Sure I inwardly roll my eyes when he talks about how much he loves travel when left to his own devices he plans zero trips. But on the bright side, all our outings are winners to me because it’s stuff I’m excited about! And he feels less strongly about avoiding air travel for environmental reasons, but because he doesn’t take the initiative anyway, I just don’t plan trips on planes and we don’t even have to fight about it :)

    15. My Brain is Exploding*

      I love this question! BEC = too much annoyance. Example: I do all the trip planning around here. It’s quite time consuming. I was griping a bit about it one time and our son said, “well, if you weren’t doing the planning you probably wouldn’t be happy with it,” and…he wasn’t wrong. But we had a trip a few years ago and every evening I was double-checking the itinerary for the next day and jotting notes from earlier in the day and my spouse was…reading a book. And then I felt REALLY annoyed. Now the good part is he NEVER complains about what I plan, totes luggage, drives the rental car, etc. But after the trip we had a discussion about it and now I am not the one making notes at the end of the day. But I enjoy all my trip choices! Another example, still a trade-off, like I do most of the cooking, but my spouse cleans up and never, ever complains about the food. We’ve been married over 40 years and also there is an ebb and flow to the annoyance, too. And I realized that I am an – ahem – easily annoyed person.

    16. ecnaseener*

      This to me isn’t in the pure “annoyance” category, it’s more serious.

      So i would ask yourself: If you said to him “Partner, i know you don’t like planning but I also don’t like having to plan every single outing, please do this for me once in a while,” would he do it? Cheerfully, without acting all put-upon and making you wish you hadn’t asked? If so, great (ask him!). If not, or if you can’t imagine even asking, then that sounds like a more fundamental problem.

    17. Laser99*

      Sometimes it helps to reframe it. Maybe he lets you plan and execute your outings because you often come up with fun and exciting adventures!

    18. Anon. Scientist*

      I’m the planner in our relationship too, and this gives me the gift of planning things that I enjoy or feel strongly about. Part of the fun is that I try to find things that he would like and have flexibility in case the original plan needs to be adjusted. His job is to have an open mind and to make the best of it and we’ll adjust on future trips if something doesn’t work out. In the moment he would be happiest at home but he likes that I pull him out of his comfort zone and that we have so many great memories together, even if they’re memories from things going sideways. If he were a pill about it, I’d leave him at home.

    19. Doc McCracken*

      In my experience, married 20 years, Annoyance is often a barometer for the overall health of you and your relationship. Often what I think I’m annoyed with isn’t the real reason I’m upset. This might be a good to time do some reflection. Are you burnt out, over extended, not taking good care of yourself physically? I know when the sound of my husband’s breathing makes me want to scream, it usually means I’m burnt out. Sometimes that also means our roles have drifted a bit and need a course correction. Any longterm relationship needs tweaks as you go.

  34. Dinoweeds*

    Has anyone dealt with an HOA threatening fines and legal action? My husband and I bought our house this past August – it is a two level house with the main living space upstairs and a garage and a fully built out one bedroom apartment downstairs. As millennial first time home buyers, the apartment downstairs was a huge selling point for us, and during our due diligence phase of the closing process we made sure that the city was ok with the apartment being used as a rental – which it is. We did hear through our realtor that the HOA had problems with the previous owner renting the unit, but seen as how he was a nightmare during the whole buying process we weren’t too surprised to hear that the neighborhood didn’t like him.

    Flash forward to the end of October – we have a tenant lined up and per the HOA rules we needed to have her sign off on the rules and regs and send them to the HOA, which is pretty standard. Within a day the HOA got back to us saying that we can’t have a tenant because, “per the HOA’s own declarations that are registered with the state, the neighborhood can only have 16 residences. Declaration 2.4 Inseparability of a lot – Each lot will comprise of one unit. Each will be inseparable and may be conveyed, leased, transferred, assigned, sub-leased, or encumbered only as a lot. No owner may partition, or subdivide any lot so as to convey to a prospective owner an interest in less than an entire lot. This means that the bottom of that home cannot be occupied separately. So in essence if the upper level is occupied, the lower cannot be occupied at the same time. If the lower is occupied, the upper cannot be occupied at the same time. Additionally, the upper and lower areas of the home are incorrectly separated against the Single Family definition, and against the HOA’s declarations. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.”

    This was news to us, especially considering that to my understanding of the word subdividing – that’s not what we’re doing. We spoke with an attorney friend of ours and he said they might be using a different definition of the word “partition” but it wasn’t something he thought was reasonable. I understand that we may have to install a staircase from the main level down to the lower level to match their definition of single family, which is fine. I guess my question is – how stressed should I be about this? We are in Colorado. It appears that we could reach a point where they put a lien on our house, but I don’t understand how bad that is? Doesn’t a lien just negatively affect the sale of the house? As first time home-buyers in a crazy economy with high interest rates, we are not planning on selling this house any time soon.

    This has been very stressful for us and I hate feeling like our new neighbors hate us. Any words of advice or commiseration?

    1. Maggie*

      Hi there, so I’m also a millennial home owner and was made HOA president basically against my will, lol. So a couple questions – was the quoted paragraph in the HOA’s by laws that they provided to you prior to sale? Did they even provide the by laws prior to sale? If it wasn’t or they didn’t then there was really no way for you to reasonably have that info. If that was in the by laws, and they did provide you with the by laws prior to sale, and you didn’t read them or misunderstood them, then you sort of have less of a leg to stand on. I definitely would no move forward with renting out the unit against the HOA bylaws, and HOA is a legal entity and can and (some anyway) will take legal action against you. If someone in my building was trying to rent part of their unit against our HOA laws I would definitely put a stop to it, it’s just not something you can or should do when your building (unsure if you’re in a connected building or set of houses, I keep saying building because I’m in a building) doesn’t allow it. So the question is, did you have free access to this information prior to purchase or not? If you didn’t, and you still really want to rent out the unit, then you could explore more paths to being able to rent it out with the partnership of a lawyer. For better or worse, owners don’t want renters around because they often have less respect for the building (not always I know) and tend to cause more damage or building drama, or they fail to report building issues which then cost the HOA large sums of money to fix. I’m definitely not saying all renters are like that, and there are def bad owners too, just saying that might be what the HOA/other owners are thinking.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I can’t comment on the rest of this, but personally I would try to take some of the emotions out of it. I’m sure the new neighbors don’t hate you. They probably don’t like rentals in their neighborhood, which is kind of classist of them TBH, but I doubt they’re holding it against you individually. It’s a policy matter that’s being explored in terms of the legality. You might win, or you might not have the authority to do as you planned. It’s not really an interpersonal conflict. I hope this is a helpful framing and that you figure out the rest of it!

    3. Generic Name*

      I’m also in Colorado, and I’ve heard nightmare stories about HOAs foreclosing on houses due to fines levied. I would not sign a lease with a tenant without clearing this issue up first, and you would need a lawyer specializing in this area of law to help. The good news is, there has been a recent push to allow more single family homes to have additional people renting part of a single family zoned property to deal with the affordable housing shortage. I agree with your attorney friend, but since the HOA could make your life hell, I would proceed with caution.

    4. Dinoweeds*

      Thanks for the advice! I should have included the fact that we already have a renter downstairs and I will do everything in my power to keep this from negatively affecting her in any way. The HOA did provide their covenants during closing, but the section they sited did not catch our eye. We focused on the section about no rentals for less than 30 days because they don’t want STR’s in the community – which we totally agree with. I’d also like to mention that in our community of 16 houses, the treasurer of the HOA owns FOUR of these houses and rents every single one of them out. We are the only two story house in our neighborhood so it feels like this small section of the bylaws is specifically written for our house.

      1. Maggie*

        If the info was made available to you prior to purchase and you didn’t read it, then that is your answer. Maybe it is written unfairly and the treasurer guy is a jerk (probably true lol), but you’re violating the HOA by laws by renting your unit and that information was made clear to you before you bought the home. Do what you want, but you agreed to these by laws, and they’re just upholding them. There’s a lot of learning that comes with being a first time home owner, I’ve learned a lot of things that I shouldn’t have glossed over in the home buying process and things I’d do different going forward, so unfortunately this is one of those things.

        1. KW10*

          This, 100%. Frankly, your realtor should have walked you through what to look for in the HOA bylaws (in any case, but especially if they knew you planned to rent out part of the unit). Restrictions on renting are quite common for HOAs so they should have flagged it for you. When I bought, my realtor discussed the HOA rental restrictions with me before I bought to make sure I was comfortable with them.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        You really need a lawyer’s help for this, but I’m also confused about how you can currently have a renter – was that person grandfathered in under the old owner? This situation sounds more complicated than what you are saying here (and what the HOA is telling you too, potentially) so I would get a lawyer right away.

    5. fposte*

      I would pay money for a lawyer specializing in real estate in your area, preferably one with experience with your HOA. To my non-lawyer eyes, they’re saying that area can’t be a separate residence, period, which to me suggests you could pull off an actual mother in law in what sounds like an MIL unit or maybe a lucky housemate in a house of housemates, but not a homeowner in the house at one address and an unrelated tenant with a different mailing address in a self-contained unit elsewhere in the structure.

      You want a lawyer who can tell you 1) if that’s what they’re saying; 2) if they’re allowed to say that (HOA terms aren’t always legal), and 3) what you can do about it.

    6. Double A*

      I agree with talking to a lawyer. They are saying that you must leave half your home unoccupied?? You purchased a divided home. I feel like there might be some property right laws that supercede a bylaw like this but you’d need a lawyer.

    7. Jay*

      Sell that nightmare and move to a sane neighborhood without a damn HOA.
      They are nothing but misery and are always run by the very worst of the worst because they are the only ones with the time, energy, and spite to waste on hurting people for the sake of hurting people. And because they are so awful that no sane human will ever have anything to do with them, using the power of the HOA to make other people’s lives a living Hell is the closest thing to a social life they have ever or will ever have.
      Unless you are cool with your entire life being run by people who spy on you with drones and Google Street View, take micrometers to your grass and mailbox, and levy massive fines because sunlight has faded your house paint to the slightly wrong shade of green, anyway.

      1. Maggie*

        Ummm I’m the president of an HOA and I’m a sane normal person, who doesn’t do any of those things. All I do is manage and pay all of the buildings bills, arrange all maintenance, and honestly clean a bunch of common areas myself, all for no money. It sounds like you had a bad experience with an HOA, and I’m sure many are bad. There’s literally no way to own part of a building such as an apartment or condo without forming an association with the other owners. When you buy in an HOA you buy into their set of rules, which OP chose not to read. I agree OP should move to a property they can rent out, or move away from being in an HOA, but I think it’s a pretty big stretch to say that everyone in an HOA or who runs one is some evil dictator person who sucks and no one would ever want to associate with. Literally all I do is pay bills and maintain spaces that benefit everyone for 0 pay. Perhaps it’s your extremely antagonistic view of them that’s leading to your negative interactions.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It read to me like OP’s HOA is for a cluster of single family homes, not condos or apartments in a building. So the very practical nature of what you’re describing isn’t really at play. It is much much much more common for HOAs to suck when it’s for homes that share zero common walls or structures.

          I don’t disagree that OP made a mistake here missing that bit of the bylaws (although it does seem like possibly a lawyer might read the passage in question and say legally it doesn’t mean what the HOA is saying it means). And I don’t doubt you’re a non-evil HOA pres. But it is an extremely common experience that the ones that dictate rules for a neighborhood rather than a building are often spiteful and/or not logical (like for example: you must have curtains on second floor windows and they must be black. Here’s a $300 fine for your dark grey curtains. No you’re not entitled to a warning, nor do we care you moved in yesterday and half your stuff isn’t here yet). The people who make blanket “HOA=bad” statements are accustomed to that sort of crap.

          1. Maggie*

            I’ve definitely heard of this type of thing! I’m just like, report leaks, and don’t get a 100 pound dog and we’re good! I’ve had neighbors (wasn’t even in an HOA at the time) like that. No thanks!! I’ll worry about my garden and you worry about yours.

      2. MissB*


        No way would I ever deal with an HOA. I get that folks like them, property values etc etc. But there is no way I’d live under an extra layer of rules. Nope.

      3. SofiaDeo*

        Like many things in life, not all HOA’s are evil incarnate. Not all have ridiculous, crazy rules, and even then some courts are disallowing certain HOA mandates (see, people xeriscaping their property instead of maintaining single species, water thirty, weed prone grass/sod).

      4. No Tribble At All*

        Many areas have entire neighborhoods with HOAs. I agree they can be a pain in the butt, but “never move to a house with an HOA” is a ridiculous statement if you want any kind of density, good schools, and/or any stores nearby in my area. This isn’t helpful advice for OP.

    8. Rachel*

      You need to take it all less personally.

      Nobody hates you. They don’t want renters. They would treat any homeowner the same.

      1. Double A*

        I agree the OP shouldn’t take it personally, but they do allow renters, just not split building rentals. Which is classist and gross but HOAs for single family homes are classist and gross unless proven otherwise IMO.

        1. Rachel*

          HOA’s, housing markets, property values, all of that has such a wide variety that I think having such a strong baseline opinion of them is really strange.

          I’m sure some are bad and some are good and most are in between.

          1. Double A*

            What is the point of an HOA in a single family neighborhood besides exclusion? You can handle shared responsibilities in a neighborhood without an HOA. My parents live in such a place; the roads are not county maintained so they have a road association to fund repairs and maintenance. People in the neighborhood have to chip in for a shared resource (a tax, if you will) but the association doesn’t get to dictate anything else about people’s properties, they just maintain the road. An HOA makes sense when there’s a shared building because there’s such a large amount of shared maintenance that’s required. Beyond maintenance, I wouldn’t want my neighbors ever dictating aesthetic choices in my life.

            1. Rachel*

              I think you are under the assumption that HOA’s govern aesthetics only. If that is the case, then I wouldn’t want to pay the fees, either.

              My neighborhood has an HOA because we have a neighborhood pool and that requires a lot of maintenance as well as financial concerns (primarily insurance).

              I love having a neighborhood pool and the HOA is the easiest way to handle it. The HOA fees are completely reasonable and the leadership honestly takes over a lot of tasks I don’t want to do.

              I think you have a very narrow view of how HOA’s operate.

    9. Invisible fish*

      Until I bought a house, I’d never had an enemy. Now I have a mortal enemy – we’re talking Skeletor vs He-Man, Ninja Turtles vs. the Foot Clan, Batman vs. the Joker type stuff. I only wish you Godspeed.

        1. Invisible fish*

          Where to start? The fees we’re charged for “security” patrols but somehow I’ve been robbed twice? The fact that monarch butterflies are endangered, yet they pitched a fit about the milkweed that people are actually encouraged to allow to grow in order to help said endangered species? The constant letters about “your grass needs to be mowed” that they sent every other week because every other week they checked yards the day *before* the yard crew came? (I had access to a fax machine at that point. I sent them their letters + all the receipts showing that since these ijits didn’t vary the days they were doing things, they never saw anything get done- I feel confident that my missive used up alllllllll the paper on their end.) Foolishness about us having a dead tree in our BACK yard – not visible from the street – which would have been one thing if we’d had a dead tree, but it was NOT our tree! It wasn’t even our yard!!!!! (The HOA lady who came to check was so convinced my partner and I were murderous kidnappers she wouldn’t actually go into our yard to check for herself!!! Instead, she stayed about 5 feet away from us the whole time she lead us to where she could see into our back yard and our neighbor’s yard at the same time – leading us through soggy, overgrown, untended areas between houses – to then equivocate over and over about were we *sure* that wasn’t our tree? [Pro tip: if you’re convinced everyone you see is about to perpetrate a crime against your person, maybe get someone to come with you when you need to meet strangers?])

          And the drama over the summer pool tags – heaven forbid we get pool tags and then have guests and not handle it correctly!!! (I get wanting to be careful with admittance to a shared space, but the letters are super obviously trying to communicate “We must keep out the dirty poors who would try to use our pool!!”

          My partner purposefully intercepts all letters from them now. I wish them all well, because the folks running our specific HOA need all the help they can get to function in the world…

    10. Vanessa*

      I also struggle with my hoa. I will certainly be more careful in our next location. We also have that one board member who seems very unhappy and flexes it to the hoa.
      But a thought… can you have a roommate? Just with separate entrances and no connecting space?

  35. Falling Diphthong*

    Both cats just leapt dramatically off the ottoman and have come to stare at a point directly under my position on the couch.

    I’m sure it’s nothing.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      There was a period of time in an old apartment where my cat would sit about a foot away from the door and just stare straight ahead. Cats are creepy!

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      LOL, Diphthong. The Tuxedo cat who owns me does this kind of thing too.

      Example: We’re sharing a quiet afternoon; I’m reading a book in my chair and he’s enjoying the sunny patch in front of the open door. Suddenly I get the prickly feeling that means I’m being watched. I look up to see his fixed stare focused about six inches above and to the left of me. I know there’s nothing there but air.

      I make the same assumption you do. So far, so good …

    3. GoryDetails*

      When I was a kid we had a cat whom the family declared was able to psychically knock down the Christmas cards taped to a swag in the doorway. She’d sit and stare at them until one fell, so… yeah? [We knew she was probably listening to the tape slooooowly letting go, but it was more fun to assume she was making them fall on purpose.]

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        New England, so it is unlikely that they have cornered anything like a poisonous seashell.

        1. Pamela Adams*

          Perhaps an Old One or other Lovecraftian being?

          Alternatively, they want your spot and are working to frighten you out of it.

  36. Glomarization, Esq.*

    Take the document to a lawyer that you are paying money to and specifically point out to the lawyer this phrase: No owner may partition, or subdivide any lot so as to convey to a prospective owner an interest in less than an entire lot.

    You are not partitioning or subdividing your unit and selling it to someone else (conveying it to another owner). You are granting a leasehold interest in a portion of your own property to a renter.

    As someone else noted, you should not have your renter move in before this is settled. That is too bad for the renter and for your financial plan. However, doing so may trigger the HOA to try to start foreclosure proceedings on you. Whether they win or not, that will be a much bigger problem for you than the opportunity cost of losing a few months’ rent.

    1. Generic Name*

      100% This. The HOA is either unintentionally or intentionally misreading the bylaws, IMHO. Don’t rely on internet advice or advice from friends. Hire a lawyer who will represent your interests and is an expert in real estate law and HOA covenants to give you advice.

  37. Ginger Cat Lady*

    I’m having some health issues and need an electric blanket, as I’m having trouble staying warm. Recommendations for a good one?

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      After enjoying a heated mattress pad in a chilly Scottish hotel, we made the switch at home to electric mattress pads rather than electric blankets. We went with Sunbeam but there are other makes. A more diffuse heat than with a blanket and easier to control the “experience”, I find. I rarely have mine on more than the lowest setting (other than Preheat to jump start the warming) and it has completely cleared up the achey legs I’ve suffered from all my life. Life changing!

      1. Chaordic One*

        Not something I would thought of, but a very worthwhile suggestion. Thank you. I’m going to look into it.

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

      Not a blanket, but check to see if your car has heated seats and use them if it does.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        It doesn’t – I’m not that rich – and I don’t want to sit in my car when it’s 3 am and I can’t sleep because of the shivering.

        1. And thanks for the coffee*

          Oh dear, enjoyed this response.

          We switched to heated mattress pads after having electric blankets that would quit working after a year or so. The first one we had lasted probably 25 years or more, and I’m still using the second after at least 5 years. At least consider that option instead of a blanket.

        2. Slartibartfast*

          I have Raynaud’s syndrome and can’t get warm without external heat. The heated mattress pad is a lifesaver. I can put the feet zone on high and it doesn’t roast my spouse out of bed.

    3. Jay*

      I’ve become a fan of heated Sherpa blankets. It’s the nice, wooly undercoating that puts them over the edge for me for when I need a really warm blanket. For the one on my bed, I use a big, fluffy Queen sized. For my couch, I use a much smaller, lighter electric blanket that is easy to clean and store (not a Sherpa, they take a bit more maintenance than I want for a couch blanket).
      You will have a device that plugs into the wall on your bed. Know what the cord is going to do and be aware of it’s presence. If you toss and turn as much as I do at night, the cocoon you build for yourself in your sleep can end up wrapping you up in the cord until it comes out of the wall. Then you get to start your day cold and hog-tied by your own bedding.
      Just a word of warning: Get one that shuts itself off when I reaches a particular temperature. Otherwise they will cook you alive, possibly literally.

    4. miel*

      Costco has very nice electric blankets, which cost about $40-50, if I remember correctly. They’ll ship it to your house for free, so you can venmo your friend with a Costco membership and get it in a few days :)

      Or, just about every department store has them, I think!

      Electric blankets are truly magical when it’s cold out. I hope you find one you love!

  38. Zee*

    Any advice for declining holiday invitations? My parents and siblings live in other states. None of us are really holiday people. There are well-meaning people at my temple who I am friendly with, who are roughly my parents’ age. They keep inviting me to join their family celebrations. But I don’t like family stuff!
    This time I was able to truthfully say I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and decline their invitation. But I couldn’t do that when they invited me over for a Rosh Hashanah dinner since I obviously do celebrate that holiday. I really don’t want to lie and say I have other plans. I feel like if I decline too many in a row they’ll get offended. Any ideas?

      1. Chaordic One*

        This! And if those plans are spending the day by yourself (or whatever you want to do on the day) that is fine and none of their business.

    1. fposte*

      This isn’t jury duty; you don’t need an explanation, and offering a reason just invites the other party to decide if the reason is sufficient. “Oh, thanks so much, but I’m a no this time. Have a lovely dinner, and I’ll see you at services!”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Or assume that the excuse is a sincere problem to solve, and that solving it would be helpful to you.

    2. funkytown*

      I think politely declining is perfectly okay, you don’t need to have an elaborate excuse- say you’re looking forward to a quiet time at home, or have a prior commitment (it’s not a lie you are committed to yourself). If you decline too many in a row, they may get take the hint and stop inviting you /cool down the relationship. Which it sounds like what you want, so that’s okay! You can’t really help it if they take offense if you don’t go as long as you are polite about it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        And if you don’t want to cool down the relationship, just avoid these types of activities, you can say something like, “thanks so much for thinking of me! I’m not going to be available that day, but I do want to (go out to brunch with you the next week, go see that movie we talked about, get together with those other friends we never see) – do you have some time next month?” or something.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I’m not sure it’s a lie to say you have plans, when you do plan to celebrate something in your own way! But if you don’t want to “lie” can you just say something about your preference for the holiday; “Oh I always spend Rosh Hashanah quietly/ I have my own little plans for that day/ thank you so much for thinking of me, but I have some me time scheduled in for that day”. If you want to keep a friendly, but invitation free relationship going, just be friendly while not accepting invitations. Remember things about them, be generally warm. It’s not a summons and you’re allowed to say no! Offendedness would be an overreaction.

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Apply your own judgement to the people you’re saying this to, but I’m getting more and more in favour of being as direct as you can manage without being a jerk.

      “Thank you so much! I actually really enjoy celebrating alone though. I hope you have a great [holiday].”

      (a) It might take some repetition, but if you can conceive people you really mean it, it will solve the issue forever vs being busy. (b) A lot of confusion/pushiness around these sorts of issues comes from cultural mismatches re: not saying what you mean, and I think it would be a great improvement if people’s direct statements could be assumed to be true. It’s one thing to be indirect: the idea of needing to guess whether someone is saying the exact opposite of what they mean needs to die.

      (I know this manner of communication can work if everyone is on board, but it’s so ripe for issues, I just cannot.)

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think saying you have other plans is a lie. You plan to stay home. If there’s a TV show you plan to watch or you plan to read or walk your dog, those are plans.

    6. Bluebell*

      My strategy would be to be as honest as possible, because if you keep saying it’s scheduling, they may try and try again thinking darn we’re just unlucky- let’s put Zee on the invite list for our next holiday get-together. If you can nicely say that you prefer to observe the holiday quietly at home, they might think it’s a little different, but would be much less likely to keep extending hospitality. Since welcoming guests is a mitzvah, they’re just trying to do their best.

  39. Sitting Pretty*

    Suggestions for super low-key group games? I have Long COVID and severe fatigue so can’t do anything very active. Also get taxed by anything too intellectually demanding. A small group of very sweet friends (about 5 of us total) will be coming over on a Saturday to keep me company. In the past we’ve played board games and pictionary, and we all have fun with these.

    However, because I can’t sit up or stand for very long, I’d like to come up with some options for a parlor game that can be played while reclined upon my fainting couch :)

    Any ideas for charades-types games that don’t require a lot of physical or cognitive exertion? Or even being upright?

    1. Gracie*

      As a board game, Dixit is quite a good game for this, and at least during lockdown, there were online versions so people can sit further apart and do it on phones or laptops and not be constantly leaning forward to a table. You could also have the table close enough to be able to put your card down and just hold your deck of six in your hand while laying down

      You have a hand of cards with pictures, and pick a word or phrase to describe your card – you can get very abstract and cognitive, or just e.g. do a picture of the night sky and “darkness”, and then everyone else also picks a card from their hand that matches the word as closely as possible. All the chosen cards get shuffled and laid out, and everyone has to pick which card they think is yours

      In a more competitive game, this is where points systems come in – the people who get points depend on how many people guess correctly and which cards they guess, the wikipedia page for the game has an explanation – but we sometimes do it with no points at all as just a chill thing to do while we talk, and just see how easy it is to guess which was the original card

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Dixit is a great idea! I don’t own it but one of my neighbors does, maybe they’ll let me borrow it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Apples to Apples (or Cards Against Humanity, depending on people’s tolerance, I suppose) might be a good option too? Sounds similar to Dixit, a bit, where one person identifies an adjective, everyone else tosses in a noun from their hand that they think matches it best, and the adjective-r picks the noun THEY think matches it best, rinse and repeat around the room.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Without buying or borrowing anything, you could also (in a movie-loving group) try Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon.

    3. Ali + Nino*

      Check out Wavelength! I thought it would be complicated but it’s actually super simple and can spark some funny conversations. Also The Meta Game. You can play until you get into a fun discussion and walk away as you like :)

    4. Brain sparkles*

      Fellow long covid sufferer here! While I can’t recommend any specific games, it sounds like the first time you’ve hosted a group since you had long covid (apologies if I’m wrong about that), so wanted to share some advice from my own experiences. Obviously my experiences are mine and not yours, so feel free to totally ignore everything I say :)

      Have you considered the impact of sensory input on your cognitive fatigue? For me, sensory input is a HUGE component, particularly exposure to light and sound. So if I was looking to play games with a group, I would try to consider quiet games that do NOT have people calling out answers or speaking at the same time (I find two people talking at the same time much more then twice the cognitive demand). I would also consider games that don’t have a required number of players so you can withdraw at any point – to pop to your room for 20 minutes of quiet, or you may actually find that you prefer to just watch and chat as your friends play.

      At the same time, consider other things that you can do to reduce competing demands. Dim the lights, don’t have music playing at the same time, wear noise-attenuating earplugs to keep noise levels more managable, and allocate someone else to play host and make cups of tea/offer food etc. And don’t plan on this going for too long – set a timer for an hour or two with the understanding that everyone will leave then UNLESS you decide that you’re feeling great. It can be VERY difficult to realise that you’re exhausted and make the decision to end the gathering when you’re feeling cognitively drained.

      I hope this goes well – I know how isolating long covid can be. And if you do find a good game/activity that works well with your fatigue, please come back and share it with us!!!

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        These are great suggestions, thank you! I’m 15 months in so have hosted several things but this is a new approach to hosting while reclining. It’s a work in progress, figuring out how to stay somewhat social while managing chronic fatigue. One thing I have learned is that it is really easy to decide I’m fine to keep socializing past the point when I should, and to pay dearly later. So having a firm cutoff even if I think I feel okay is key!

        I’m looking through all the suggestions here and trying to assess which ones might be a bit less shouty and more easygoing.

        Good luck on your health journey too… may you have a restful week!

    5. ecnaseener*

      Jackbox games are good for this, everyone just typing/drawing on their own phone so no need to get up for anything.

    6. Nightengale*

      My favorite parlour games that don’t involve any equipment and can be done lying down and with eyes closed are are Plenty Questions, Coffee Pot and Botticelli

      Plenty Questions is like 20 questions but does not have a question limit. And instead of asking yes/no questions, you ask “is it more like X or Y” questions until you narrow in on it.

      Is it more like a book or an airplane? An airplane
      Is it more like an airplane or like a car? Like a car
      Is it more like a car or a motorcycle? A motorcycle
      And eventually hone in on bicycle

      Coffee Pot uses verbs/activities and substitutes Coffee Pot for them. So the person is thinking of “cooking spaghetti”

      Have you ever coffeepotted? yes
      Do you need specific equipment to coffeepot? yes
      Do babies coffeepot? no
      Do you coffeepot indoors? yes. . .

      I am going to try to describe Botticelli here but am not sure I am doing it justice

      The “it” player thinks of a famous person and gives the other players the first initial of the name. Say R.

      Guesser think of people with R names and come up with clues for them. “Did I speak softly and carry a big stick?”

      If “it” knows who that is, it says “no I am not Theodore Roosevelt”
      If “it” doesn’t know who that is, the guesser gets a yes/no question about the person

  40. *daha**

    I realized I know nothing about nonbinary people. I certainly know the etiquette for general encounters – use the requested pronouns and don’t ask what sort of genitals are in their pants. But a couple of posts here and there – one enbie person is having top surgery and another is starting hormones – made me realize for the first time that enbie transition can include medical interventions, and I had just never appreciated that.

    I’ve got no need to know what nonbinary folks do about dating, romance, and sex. (I’m in a monogamous relationship and not looking to change.) But I’d still like to know. I mean, is there a rule of thumb, or is each person different in interest and attractions from every other person? Links would be helpful, too. I haven’t been effective at searching.

    1. Strong Aroace vibes*

      “Is each person different in interest and attractions from every other person?”

      Yes, this is true. For every person in the world. Some of the interests and attractions of people in the world happen to have commonalities that tend to be lumped together under the same linguistic category, and so feel like they are “the same.” But, each person in the world is different. People everywhere (across all domains that employ labels) are continually creating new categories and ideas to find commonalities in ways that language didn’t allow for before, and using those labels to navigate their experience of the world.

      Because when you get right down to it, every individual person (and tree, and wolf, and fish) is a little different from the next, and as people we have difficulty making sense of the world without lumping certain similar-enough ideas together under the same label. (Google the lumper/splitter debates in science.) There are some new labels, new identities, and new language out there, but on the whole, nonbinary people are living their lives the same way everybody we know is and has always been living, which is to say: according to their own interests and attractions, in all domains—interpersonally and otherwise.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      We Exist: Beyond the Binary is on Prime. It’s a decent documentary of one NB person’s journey

    3. miel*

      The human experience is vast and varied!

      Yes, I know some nonbinary or genderqueer friends who choose to get gender affirming medical care. I don’t think there’s any rule of thumb as to what decisions people make about their medical care; it’s a personal choice with a lot of factors.

      I found the book Gender Queer to be very thoughtful and interesting! It’s a memoir by a genderqueer artist, Maia Kobabe. It also happens to be one of the most frequently challenged books in the US, which is a plus in my book.

      In my personal opinion (cis queer), being a kind friend is more important than “studying up,” and genuine good intentions go a long way. Don’t sweat it too much!

    4. Generic Name*

      When I want to learn more about a group of people I don’t know anything about, I seek out media written by and for that group. So you could seek out books (can be novels) written by non-binary people, you could seek out music and art created by non-binary folks. You could find out about celebrities who are openly non-binary and read about them. See if they have memoirs.

    5. Hrodvitnir*

      Many NB people identify a lot with the queer umbrella, and many AFAB NB people are going to have the experience of basically being perceived as lesbian+. In our current view of gender, there is no real “straight” relationship for NB people.

      It’s not uncommon for NB people to end up together, while being read as straight (whether they look like their AGAB or not).

      In terms of attraction it’s going to depend on the person, how they view their gender (there’s a difference between feeling agender and feeling like a mix), and significantly their social milieu – especially if they transitioned or realised their identity well into adult life. The kids growing up now will likely have a very different experience, but they will likely mostly be drawn to queer culture and thus dating for obvious reasons.

      Queer culture and all its subsets are incredibly complicated, so you’re not going to find an easy primer anywhere. It is too entangled in a million cultural assumptions and individual complexity to have any black and white answers.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      If you like listening to podcasts, I recommend the podcast NB, hosted by Caitlin Benedict and Amrou Al-Kadhi. Amrou has been out as non-binary for a while and Caitlin is newly out (in fact, they come out to some of their social circle during the course of making the podcast). It’s not focused on dating/relationships, but Caitlin does talk a little bit about how their relationship with their boyfriend changes and stays the same now that they’ve come out as non-binary.

  41. JaneDough(not)*

    A question about shoe sizes and size inflation/deflation.

    I’m 62 years old, and I’ve worn a size 6.5M shoe since I was 17. All of the shoes that I’ve purchased in the past 20 years are 6.5M, and all still fit.

    However, I recently started trying on lightly worn shoes (also 6.5M) that I bought in the late 1980s and the 1990s, and many are a smidge too small. Massively disappointing because I’ve always had really great shoes, but that’s life, so I’ve given them away.

    I know, from looking at size charts for women’s clothing, that the size 6 skirts and pants I wore at age 20 (in 1981) are now between a size 4 and 2, plus I’ve read a little about this vanity tactic whereby manufacturers have affixed smaller size numbers to the same dimensions over the years, but I didn’t realize that shoe manufacturers were doing this, too. Or seem to be doing this, based on my experience. Have other cis women or AFAB people experienced this? (Sorry, men and AMAB readers, to exclude you, but your experiences wouldn’t be pertinent.) Thanks.

    1. WellRed*

      I haven’t noticed it with shoes, just clothes. However, I believe feet might get a bit bigger with age. Everything else certainly seems to.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Yes, I used to be size 10 shoe and am now a 10.5 or 11.

      As we age, our feet spread. They aren’t actually growing, but the ligaments stretch out due to gravity.

      I hadn’t previously noticed size inflation, but now that you mention it, it does seem like my old size 10s are like a Cinderella’s stepsister situation, while brand new 10s in the store are uncomfortably tight, but I can get into them.

      1. JaneDough(not)*

        But as I noted, my most recent shoe purchases are still 6.5M; size 7 shoes are too big for me. So it can’t just be that feet spread with age, although I acknowledge that that’s so.

        Thanks for chiming in, tho.

        1. RagingADHD*

          What I’m saying is that, for whatever reason, there does seem to be a difference between the older shoes and new ones in the same size. Maybe your feet just didn’t spread as much as mine, so the same size still fits you but not me.

    3. Jellybean*

      I’ve been the same weight since high school, so I don’t think I’ve gotten bigger overall, but my shoe size did change around when I turned 30. My old shoes were perfectly comfortable, probably because they were worn in to the shape of my feet, but when I got the same style/size/brand in new shoes, my toes felt squished. I ended up going up a size and started getting wide shoes. I was confused at the time, but I read online that feet flatten out over time, so your shoe size changes a bit as you age.

      1. JaneDough(not)*

        The thing is, I’m still able to buy, and wear with no discomfort, size 6.5M shoes — I haven’t had to buy larger shoes. So although I don’t doubt that my feet have spread a little over the years, I’m puzzled by my being able to still buy and wear 6.5M — in other words, my current 6.5M shoes are clearly a little bigger than my older 6.5M shoes, so they’re built on bigger lasts, but they’re still labeled 6.5M. By contrast, my size 6 skirt from 1982 would be between a size 4 and 2 today.

        That’s what I was asking about — not whether others have had to buy larger shoes as they’ve aged. Thanks for taking the time to post, though.

    4. There You Are*

      I, too, have high-quality shoes that I purchased a few decades ago and whose style has come back around. And they no longer fit. :-(

      As a teen and 20-something, I wore size 8.5 medium. At age 57, I am now up to a 9.5 wide or 10 wide, depending on style / manufacturer.

    5. Filosofickle*

      I don’t believe shoe manufacturers are doing that — if they were following the vanity sizing playbook, I wouldn’t need to be sizing up so much these days! (After 25 years of my feet being the exact same size.)

      I do find that older dress shoes from the back of my closet always seem tighter, perhaps due to disuse? Leather in particular seems to dry out and contract a bit.

      1. JaneDough(not)*

        That’s an interesting thought (that my older shoes are tight bc the leather has dried and contracted) — thank you.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        This is likely what’s happened. Leather shoes dry out and shrink with disuse and lack of leather care.

    6. Rainy*

      Feet do spread as we age, and also if you moved to a higher altitude, that makes feet larger as well. I discovered this the hard way when I moved to elevation almost ten years ago and some of my favourite fancy dress shoes (the ones I wore very infrequently) no longer fit. I was mystified until I read that living at elevation is known to make your feet swell ever so slightly!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I wore a size 6 up until pregnant with my first child, and a size 7 thereafter–the ligaments loosen and your feet spread, and they don’t change back after childbirth. (Child is in grad school.)

      So I’ve been a consistent size for 25 years, but that’s within a very narrow range of shoes where I find something that works and keep buying that so long as it’s an option.

    8. allathian*

      When I was 20, I wore a size 38/7.5. Now I’m anywhere in the 39-41/9-10.5 range (bigger for dress shoes). The only way I’m going to wear a size 7 now is to hit the men’s sneaker section.

      I read somewhere once that the average woman can add half a size every 15 years and/or half a size for each of the first three kids she has. After that your shoe size stabilizes, because your ligaments can’t stretch indefinitely.

      My feet are difficult to shoe because my left foot is half a size bigger than my right, and I also have Daisy Duck feet with a very narrow heel and wide toes.

      But in your case, I bet your old dress shoes no longer fit because the leather’s dried and contracted. If the leather’s good, they can probably be reconditioned.

  42. Bluebell*

    Anyone else want to sympathize about places you really liked closing? In the past week or so, there’s been a string of them: a local restaurant, a friendly nearby brewery, the Jezebel website, and Sleep No More in NYC announced the end of its run (I’ve been twice but definitely wanted to return) Plus a mini chain of vegetarian restaurants in town announced they are filing for Chapter 11. I’m hoping they pull through, but I’m sure they’ll close some of their locations. Sigh.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Many restaurants I used to love have closed over the years. I still miss them, especially when there’s a special occasion coming around (my favorite seafood place) or I’m meeting up with a friend who used to go there with me (a favorite chain restaurant). I wish I could go to these places one last time.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The Mexican place on the corner used to offer burrito bowls on a salad base. Really good and packed with vegetables. Then they went to only burritos for a few months, and now bowls again but only a rice and bean base. I had just made these a mainstay of my easy takeout options and they went away.

      When we moved to town there was a local restaurant–good food, always busy, a great family option for nights we didn’t want to cook. I never figured out why it closed, and the location became cursed.

      When we bought our house, a plus was the elaborate wooden playground nearby. A year later, they tore it down.

    3. Generic Name*

      My son bitterly mourns the demise of Fun City. (It’s featured on South Park.) It had a bowling alley, laser tag, a ball pit, arcade games, mini golf. Massive building. We had son’s 8th birthday party there, and we invited the whole class. He wasn’t a very popular kid, but the entire damn class showed up, so it cost us a king’s ransom, as the party rate was based on a per person cost. Ah well. He had a helluva time. :) Its now a medical building, and he still complains when we drove by (he’s nearly 17).

    4. Zebra*

      I live in a big city. Here are just some of the things that have entirely or mostly disappeared: Bookstores. Record stores. Most of the movie theaters. Quirky shops that have all been replaced by really expensive clothing boutiques. The amazing magazine store that stocked titles from all over the world has been replaced by yet another coffee place. And of course a million restaurants. I’m working on new places to love and hang out, but old habits die hard.

    5. lavendar latte*

      My favorite family-owned restaurant closed and the chef went to a public country club. His food is worth the trouble of following him there, but the old place was a jeans-friendly hole in the wall. Now we have to get reservations and iron our clothes, plus the entree cost is doubled. I’m definitely disgruntled.

    6. Snell*

      I found out one of my favorite regulars closed like two months ago when I was chatting with a distant-ish relation at a wedding. Vegan Mexican place; they were solid on the staples, and I always looked forward to dessert. They always put in the effort and creativity.

      I’m even more bummed about Frena (kosher bakery) closing for good. I always made a point to pick up something hot and fried (usually sufganiyot w/ whatever filling looks good that day) when I was in the area. I was a little bummed out when they had to transition to pizza full-time, but held out hope things would improve for them. But this past summer saw the last of their pizza operations, too. From the way the guys behind Frena tell it, business just never picked back up after COVID hit. The pandemic was just a small-business-crusher, man.

    7. Be kind, rewind*

      Yes! I’m in Boston and just heard about Clover. That, on top of Border cafe, Friendly Toast (kendall), and Walnut Grill in Newton… I lost a lot of my favorite options over the last few years.

      1. Bluebell*

        Yes, I’m used to restaurants (and bookstores too) closing, but I think it was that all these announcements came out together. And I’m guessing that their specialized meal boxes might go away, and I was getting a few of the holiday ones every year.

    8. the cat's ass*

      This is so happening in my community right now-the best bakery ever, then the take out place across the street, then the brewery down town, then that nice little clothing boutique AND the thrift shop next door…I so get it; they’re all local mom and pop spots and the pandemic did them all in. But they are missed. Our community is poorer for their loss.

      1. Bluebell*

        Weirdly, we had two bakeries open in our town in 2019ish and both are flourishing. A local cafe mini chain also moved into town this year but the bakeries seem to be ok.
        I think the pandemic support money really helped a lot of smaller places stay open longer.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Or sometimes worse, becoming the zombie version of themselves. I remember in the early 2000s when salon.com was a really cool literary, political etc website. Now it’s whatever you’d call it now – some ads strung together with premade articles?

    10. Also cute and fluffy!*

      Macworld Conference & Expo shut down in 2014.
      A favorite podcast that would have meetups at Macworld, Your Mac Life, ended a 25-year run in 2020.

  43. Grits McGee*

    I have a two part coat question-
    1. Does anyone have recommendations for clothing brands that sell winter coats (wool or wool-style, as opposed to puffer coats) with small shoulders and arms? I look like a pint-sized linebacker in anything with padded shoulders, and the fact that boxy outwear is in style right now is Not! Helping!
    2. Has anyone successfully gotten a lined wool coat altered to shorten the shoulders/shrink the armholes/ narrow the sleeves? I know that’s a tricky part of a garment to alter.


    1. Girasol*

      Don’t know about brands, but have you tried doing a pad-ectomy on your coats and dresses? It can be a nuisance to open up lining seams to get at a shoulder pad inside, but it’s not that big a deal to cut it and restitch when the pad is out. It’s not complicated, just beginner stitching. I’ve had blazer jackets that looked ridiculous on me before a pad-ectomy fit perfectly after.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I haven’t with jackets, just because of the lining seams issue you noted; for a thick wool coat I’m worried that the shoulders will still be too big, but deflated :) But I’ve definitely done that before with less-thick fabrics, and it works great!

    2. Zebra*

      With all those alterations it might make more sense to have a coat made. If you don’t change size very often it could be cost efficient over the years. Sometimes alterations people at dept store sew on the side and they are often very good at it.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Have you tried vintage? I feel like historic clothes used to be smaller in lots of different ways, and often very high quality compared to today’s products. I have a vintage wool peacoat that I absolutely love and it saved me a bunch of money, too.

  44. There You Are*

    Can the commentariat solve a mini-argument for me?

    One of us says that, when requesting that someone change their behavior, it’s fine and even preferable to start with, “I would appreciate it if you would…”

    The other says that makes the change in behavior all about the requester and comes off as imperious, especially when the request is a change that won’t affect the requester (i.e., “I would appreciate it if you got a bone density scan,” and the person saying it isn’t your spouse or a caretaker/potential caretaker of you).

    What say you all?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In general, to me, requesting that someone else should change a behavior is inherently a self-centered act. Even if I want my whoever to go get a bone density scan for their own health, I’m asking them to do it because I will be more at ease if they do it. I don’t know about imperious, though – personally, I try to lean right into that self-centering, and I think that makes it come across better. “I know you don’t think this is something you really need to do, and ultimately it’s your call. But I’m concerned about this because reasons x and y, and I love you, and if you would consider doing it anyway because it would put my concerns at ease, even though you’re mostly neutral about it, I would really appreciate that.” But then you REALLY have to shut up about it and let them make the ultimate call. :P

      But then, that’s also sort of why I got married – I was completely neutral about getting married vs staying as a cohabitating couple (as long as we did stay a couple) and my husband really wanted to get married, so since the net outcome resulted in more total happy on the married side than the non-married side, we hied off to Vegas and got married. I’m kind of a Vulcan. :P

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I have the same interpretation of meaning, but opposite as to whether this is a problem: Yes, if I am asking someone to do something different it’s about me. It’s about what I want. Obviously they are okay not doing this thing, which is why they are not doing it. Making me happy would be the primary motivation to do it.

      Framing it as how they should really eat some spinach, for their own good, is just disingenuous.

      1. Hrodvitnir*

        This was my take. Whether it sounds excessively imperious entirely depends on context – and tone.

      2. Still*

        This. The request is about me, I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t care. It reads as honest and direct to me.

        Though I do actually prefer “It would mean a lot to me” over “I would appreciate it”, at least when addressing people to whom I am close. “I would appreciate it” can sound a tad formal or even chilly to me, depending on the tone.

      3. ecnaseener*

        I agree, if it’s a request then be clear about that. Don’t frame it as disinterested advice if you really mean “please do this for me!”

    3. Not A Manager*

      Haha. You could always say, “you would appreciate it if you would…” See if that comes across any better.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Does it really matter all that much? because it feels like splitting hairs.
      I think it’s fine to ask someone to do something for you. And phrasing it in a way that is clearly asking you to do it for you is at least honest, if not terribly direct.
      Either way, you’re not obligated to do it, and “I would appreciate it if you….” is a lot more pleasant than “I need you to do this for me” or “You should just….” etc.
      But really, you’re getting into the weeds on wording here.

      1. There You Are*

        Yes, and?

        Of course it’s splitting hairs. That’s what ridiculous mini-arguments are, especially when either party says, “Ask [whatever group] on the internet what they think.”

        We recognize we’re getting into the weeds. That’s literally the fun of arguments like this.

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          …and maybe you’re making way too much of this and involving way too many strangers for such a trivial thing.
          I don’t think it’s fun at all.