weekend open thread – February 3-4, 2024

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: Woman, Eating, by Claire Kohda. A lonely young artist, who’s also a vampire, desperately wants to find her place among humans as she struggles to come to terms with her relationship with her mother.

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

{ 1,196 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. Mentor*

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

    I started book 5 of the October Daye series this week. I’m about… 1/3 of the way through, maybe? I’m enjoying it a lot so far, although my employer unfortunately wanted me to work all day instead of reading fantasy novels so I haven’t finished it yet.

    I also finished A Power Unbound. Someone was asking me about it last week. Any more thoughts, or did you want to discuss it now that I’m done?

      1. word nerd*

        That was me! Just wondered if you liked it too. I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy even if the twist in the middle felt a bit contrived/unnecessary to me.

        1. always reading*

          I loved the first in the series so much that I didn’t like the second as much. I did think the third worked, and pulled the story together well, but I still love the first one the most!

        2. Jackalope*

          Hmm, good question. I definitely enjoyed it, and had a good time following the characters. And I’m curious whether she’s setting up a successor series with people trying to figure out the new magic. But the magic style wasn’t my favorite, or the way they worked it (and I can’t believe in all the history of human magic working that no one has come up with a way to break a secret-bind). And I liked the family-ish aspect at the end but it sometimes felt like it should have been tougher to get there (particularly with Jack and Edwin who had…. history). So all in all I’m glad I read them, but if she does come up with a sequel I’m not sure whether I’ll keep going. How about you?

          1. word nerd*

            Yeah, it seemed like it was obvious when someone’s under a bind so that already reveals something in itself, so you’d think Jack should have been able to show that he was under a bind when his parents asked him about it. There seemed to be some holes in the logic in some places. And yes, some things seemed to get resolved pretty easily/conveniently. But I’m with you, I think they were entertaining reads and a fun trilogy to go through if you don’t mind a bit of suspension of disbelief.

    1. Daria Grace*

      I recently listened to the audiobook of Black Ghosts: A Journey Into the Lives of Africans in China by Noo Saro-Wiwa. It wasn’t short but I still binged through it in 2 or 3 days. Such a fascinating look at changing economic forces and the complexities of crossing cultures in a context invisible to most of us in the west.

    2. station eternity*

      I recently finished Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty and now I’m reading the 2nd book in the series, Chaos Terminal. In this world, aliens came to Earth the last couple years and now the Earth has a relationship with a bunch of different races. There’s this one woman Mallory who has this weird thing where murders happen around her, and she’s preternaturally gifted at solving them. she got tired of murders happening so she decided to seek asylum in an alien space station. the space station is sentient. but something happens on the station and she has to use her skills. it’s very moody and noir and humorous, too. amazing world-building. very unique.

      1. Trice*

        I liked those but I *loved* Mur Lafferty’s other book, Six Wakes. It takes place on an interstellar ship where the passengers are in hibernation. A small crew has committed to running the ship for centuries, moving their consciousnesses into new bodies when their old ones are no longer viable. At the opening of the book the whole crew wakes up at once, surrounded by evidence that they’ve just been murdered.

    3. Green Goose*

      I probably read about 12 books in 2023 and my favorite was Station Eleven. I loved it so much that I read Emily Saint John Mandel’s other books (they were fine but didn’t give me the book hangover that Station Eleven did. And then I read a couple of other “light hearted” end of the world books, and liked them too but still not as much.
      I also enjoyed The Earth Abides, Book of M, and Severance (all “happier” apocalypse novels, which was I guess my thing for 2023),

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        I loved Station Eleven! There’s a TV series based on it but I haven’t watched it yet. The trailer didn’t seem to have the same vibe the book did, which is part of why I enjoyed the book so much.

        1. Cordelia*

          I loved Station Eleven too, I read it a while back and thought of re-reading it recently but I just don’t feel like reading pandemic-y things any more. So I read another of hers, Sea of Tranquillity which was good but not as good, and also turned out to be tangentially pandemic-y. And then the Glass Hotel, which again was good but didn’t touch me as much as Station Eleven.

          1. Filosofickle*

            In another time and place in my life i might like Station Eleven but all the post-apocalypse / pandemic type storylines hit too close to home for me these days! (And by days I mean years.)

            1. Jackalope*

              I started reading it around March 8 2020. It was…. not a good book to be reading then. (I’d been on the hold list for a bit before that so this was just a terrible coincidence.)

            2. allathian*

              I’ve completely gone off the genre myself, not that it ever was one of my favorites. I’m not even particularly Covid-cautious anymore, but I just can’t with the post-apocalyptic stories.

        2. word nerd*

          I loved the Station Eleven miniseries (more than the book, actually). It definitely departs from the book in some ways, but it’s excellent if you judge it on its own merits.

    4. Past Lurker*

      I’m reading A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers. It’s different from the first book of the series, but I’m enjoying this one also!

      1. AGD*

        I just finished this one! Love her worldbuilding and characters. And how much she sidesteps clichéd moments of tension in the plot. Looking forward to the next books.

      2. JustForThis*

        I really liked this one. I found it emotionally very engaging and an interesting take on questions of self-determination and purpose.

    5. Maleficent2026*

      Rereading the Hunger Games books again. YA dystopian fiction is my go to method of giving my ADHD its dopamine reward after a long week of work and school.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Hunger Games is sooo satisfying for that quick “I read a book and it was great” burst!

    6. GoryDetails*

      The Kohda book that Alison recommended sounds intriguing!

      My own reading includes:

      A graphic novel, LUNAR NEW YEAR LOVE STORY by Gene Luen Yang and Leuyen Pham, in which a teenaged girl whose family came to the US from Vietnam finds herself enjoying a role as a lion dancer at a local dance studio – not least because of the cute boy she’s partnered with. Lots of lovely cultural notes, including some mild rivalry about Chinese-style dragon dancing vs. Korean-style. Oh, and the girl – named Valentina – grew up believing that Saint Valentine was her own personal imaginary friend. But as she grew up, and suffered some push-back about her fondness for hearts and glitter on Valentine’s Day at school, her own St. Valentine turned from a cupid-type character to a grey, gaunt ghost in the form of a medieval bishop, and he now claims that her entire family is doomed to never be happy in love… What’s a teen to do?

      In audiobook: finished Bella Mackie’s “How To Kill Your Family” – which I found rather disappointing re the various twists at the end. Oh, the main twist did have some promise, but I just didn’t like the way it all played out.

      Am now listening to THE WALL by John Lanchester, narrated by Will Poulter; I’d read the print book some time back and enjoyed it, and this re-visit is also quite enjoyable. The story’s set in a not-that-distant-future in which devastating climate change and other catastrophes have left most of the world drowned and/or in chaos, with some countries – including the story’s setting – surviving by having built defensive walls around the entire coastline, constantly monitored, to keep the desperate Others from moving in from the sea…

    7. Teapot Translator*

      I read Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey and I’m now reading Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan. My reading activity is determined by which book I must absolutely take back to the library because of holds. :-D

    8. MrsBagnet*

      I’m listening to the audiobook of Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes. I’m very happy that I choose the audiobook. Both narrators capture the winking tone of the novel very well, and I’m enjoying it more than I would if I’d read the text.

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

      Birds of New York. I am not really a birder/birdwatcher, but I wanted to get better at identifying the ones I see in my daily life. It’s cool!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        See if you can find a copy of Red-Tails in Love — about a pair of red-tail hawks in Central Park in the 1990s and the community of birdwatchers that grows around them.

        (PS… there’s a charming review in Smithsonian Magazine online from 1998. I found it because I knew Goodreads was wrong saying it was published in 2011—I knew when & where I read it before that! So 2011 is a newer edition and possibly has new material.)

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Who is the other Milwaukee AAM reader who has already requested this book ahead of me at the library? :)

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          You might also like H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald. It’s a memoir of her training her hawk the same year her father passed, interspersed with her readings of TH White and his hawk.

      2. fallingleavesofnovember*

        During the pandemic, I decided to just start paying attention to birds more…and was shocked at what I started noticing with very little effort. I have since acquired multiple guides, the Merlin app, binoculars, a heater for our backyard bird bath…
        All that to say, the most useful thing I found for learning local birds was to join a local birder FB group where people post their pictures (turns out many birders are amazing photographers as well).

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

          Yeah, I’m trying to increase my covid-cautious amusements! It’s heartening to see that it might not be that hard for me to get better at identifying birds.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I adore watching the crows both at work and at home–there’s a family living in each spot! Work especially affords lots of views of them hopping about, stealing each other’s stashed food, and teaching their nestlings to fly. At home they occasionally perch on the balcony but mostly you see them flashing by as they dive bomb the parking lot for fun.

          1. don'tbeadork*

            Crows are awesome and so intelligent! Sadly, we’re stuck with grackles instead of crows down here.

            A thing to remember is that crows can and will hold a grudge and remember what you look like, so if they are doing something that is irritating to you it’s best to try to distract them from that activity in a non-hostile manner if you can.

      3. Texan In Exile*

        Do you have Merlin on your phone? It’s from the Cornell Ornithology dept and it identifies birds by sound and it’s super fun!

        Merlin gets picky, though. We were at a raptor demonstration at the WI State Fair. They were showing a bald eagle and she started calling. Merlin heard her but refused to identify her, saying, I imagine, “THERE ARE NO BALD EAGLES IN WEST ALLIS WISCONSIN!”

        (Except there are! There are now bald eagles again in every county in Wisconsin, thanks to conservation efforts.)

        Merlin also did not want to believe there were Siberian Cranes in Baraboo, Wisconsin, which is fair because these cranes were at the International Crane Foundation and clearly not here naturally.

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

          Alas, no smartphone right now, but if I get one, that is great to know!

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          I love the Merlin app! It swears there was a wild turkey in my woods the other day and I’m dying to see if it was a fluke. It also gently corrected me in saying that the birds I’ve been referring to as red-tailed hawks all this time are actually red-shouldered hawks.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Just started Girls in Bloom, an overview of midcentury literature dealing with girls’ coming of age, by Francis Booth. I bought it for his section on Shirley Jackson but the rest of the info is good too.

      I DO object to the crappy print job on the book and the other one I ordered, though. You know how Amazon does those fast, sloppy jobs where they just run off the text without proper chapter breaks or anything–sometimes a new chapter starts in the middle of a page with no space to delineate it, sometimes there’s a whole blank page with half a sentence on it? And they use that awful waxy paper for the cover?

      Well, I could understand that for Girls in Bloom since it’s out of print and they basically make a copy to order, but the other book was Sara Gran’s brand new novel The Book of the Most Precious Substance, and it’s printed the exact same way! And it’s bound badly so the pages are crooked!

      As far as I can tell that’s the only paperback type available, which I cannot believe.

        1. Hibiscus*

          The Sara Gran looks to have been self-published–that’s the only book on the publisher’s website, I’ve never heard of that company, there’s a note that Faber is the UK publisher. I mean, good for her. Sometimes you want to write something and the only “market” is really devout fans.

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      Still listening to The Secret Commonwealth. Michael Sheen is a great audiobook narrator!

      I’m not sure what I think about the book … there are some really interesting ideas but it also gets slow-paced at times. Philip Pullman joked that this trilogy is basically “His DarkER Materials” and that’s true… I read the original series as a teen and this book in particular feels VERY “Lyra grew up and so did you” although it’s been about 10 years for her and 20 for me since the first time I read Golden Compass :)

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Yeah, I remember it left me excited for the 3rd, but the details of the plot hasn’t stayed with me. I think it’s really interesting to pick up a story in the ‘after’ period of a story as massive and transformational (for the characters and the worlds) as HDM. Exploring what it would actually feel like to Lyra to just live day to day life after all that, and the real trauma between her and Pan…it’s kind of sad but as you say, feels appropriate for us readers aging too!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Mostly I just feel like I don’t care about any of the characters except Lyra and Pan. In the original trilogy I was invested in many of the side plots and this time I’m like “Ugh, Malcolm again. Wait, which old dude is this one now…”

      2. Galumpher*

        I am a huge fan the original series, but ended up *hating* The Secret Commonwealth. To the point where it made me go back and re-evaluate some elements in the first trilogy unfavorably. The stuff that happens between Malcolm and Lyra is really sus, and isn’t made better when you read Pullman’s defenses about it on Twitter. And (trying to not add spoilers) there’s a just totally unnecessary and shitty plot device that happens late in the book that left me feeling really disgusted with it (you’ll know it when you get to it). Also the whole book felt like he got Famous Writer Editor Immunity. The plot and pacing were a mess, repetitive, and meandering. Would be interested to hear more of your thoughts when you finish the book!

        Also I totally agree about Michael Sheen’s audiobook narration! He has set the standard so high for what an audiobook can be that he has ruined me for other audiobooks! Too bad he hasn’t done more in that realm.

    12. Kit Franklin*

      I am poised to read the last two October Daye books; I should mention that I share a friend with the author. I enjoy them a lot since that they have great world building and it is fun that it is centered in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am a little frustrated that there seem to be no Black people which is demographically unlikely.

    13. Jamie Starr*

      I’m about halfway through Mudbound by Hilary Jordan and like it so far, even if it does seem like it’s going to be a little predictable.

    14. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I just started A Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein, which was longlisted for the Booker and won the Giller Prize in Canada – although I’m reading it because one of my friends liked it. Definitely an atmospheric novel, with the atmosphere so far being unnerving. The narrator so far appears passive, with other people taking advantage of that, but she also knows that about herself. So I am curious to see where it goes!

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        OOOOH! That sounds wonderful! I love to read any and all Canadian books, and this one sounds kinda Shirley Jackson-esque. Thank you for this! I’ve ordered at the library.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        *marks for purchase after Lent*

        I’m giving up book and streaming purchases, so wish me luck (and my bank account mercy after I jump on my list afterwards!)

    15. word nerd*

      Thanks for the recs for nonfiction last week in the reading thread–didn’t get a chance to look at them/respond until the weekend was over, but I appreciated them and will read the ones that looked interesting to me!

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      I read The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. A beautiful story that makes one think. Post apocalypse people live in walled cities or in the slums around them; someone invents travel to parallel worlds. While there are infinite worlds, we can only get to those very similar to our own–a few hundred. And it turns out that if you try to travel to a parallel world where your doppelganger is alive, the universe doesn’t cooperate. And the scientists and such were born into safe families, given a solid education… so they’re alive on those nearby worlds. So suddenly those people living on the edge, who have died on many other neighboring worlds, are valuable. We follow Cara, one of those travelers whose great talent was to die on almost every other world.

      1. carcinization*

        Loved that book so much, I’ve actually been recommending it to people, and I never recommend books to people. Just heard that another book set in the same world(s) has come out, planning to track it down.

    17. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I’m reading the second book in the Dread Nation series, which is fantastic. Highly recommend both books. I’m also re-reading the Arsene Lupin short stories because we finally got around to watching part 3 of the French Lupin show (Netflix). I was a big Lupin buff as a teen, so it’s been fun re-discovering them. Though I now remember why I preferred the short stories. The novels are a bit much.

    18. Kyrielle*

      Love October Daye!

      I’m reading the newly released The Bone Harp by Victoria Goddard, and enjoying it quite a bit so far.

      1. KayDee*

        Do you mean The Bone Harp by Alexis Steinhauer? I only ask because I love Victoria Goddard’s Greenwing and Dart series, and I got super excited thinking maybe there was a new one out! I also enjoyed The Hands of the Emperor, but not quite as much as Greenwing ;-)

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          The Bone Harp is based on the song Wind and Rain; I like the Gillian Welch version. There’s a similar song called The Wicked Sister by Maeve which is also a jam.

    19. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Has anyone read Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk?

      I’m a few chapters in and it hasn’t grabbed me yet, though the outline was very intriguing. I enjoy literary fiction, but this feels by far the strangest book I’ve come across in a long time. I’m not very driven to pick it up, it might take me a long time to finish it.

      1. germank106*

        I made it about halfway through and then it ended up in my DNF pile. I might pick it back up when my stars are aligned differently.

      2. Laura Petrie*

        We read it in our book club and it certainly divided opinion. I genuinely don’t know what I actually think about it. Interesting story but I wasn’t keen on the writing style.

      3. Teapot Translator*

        I finished it because there was something I wanted to know, but it wasn’t the book for me.

      4. Snax*

        I liked it! I selected it for my book club a while ago, and we all enjoyed it. But I could see how it’s not for everyone.

      5. Tokarczuk reader*

        I’ve started reading it and like it. I really liked House of Day, House of Night. My younger sibling is reading Flights and loves it. I’m Polish American and have studied Polish language and history so her writing makes sense to me—it seems familiar. I read her works in English, but even in translation, the writing seems more about weaving a spell than telling a story, if that makes sense. Her books don’t really grab me and make me want to finish them quickly, it’s more like they wash over me and I think about them for weeks.

      6. Blomma*

        I forced myself to finish reading it. I accidentally read a major spoiler when I wasn’t that far into it so I read the rest of the book with that in mind. I still wonder if the spoiler is what made finishing the book a drag or if I wouldn’t have liked it even if it hadn’t been spoiled for me.

      7. Fellow Traveller*

        I started it last summer and am only about a third through- the pacing seems not very focussed so it doesn’t hold my attention. Also I picked it up at the Little Free Library so there isn’t an urgency to finish is when I have library booms with due dates. I do want to get through it though.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nettle and bone by T. Kingfisher.
      Thief of time by Terry Pratchett.
      Next up: House in tbe Cerulian Sea.

        1. ghost_cat*

          Me too – we used this quote from the book in our wedding vows:

          ‘Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood, there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.’

    21. Angstrom*

      Busy reading week! Killers of a Certain Age, Nora Ephron’s Wallflower at the Orgy, a couple of Elmore Leonards — a collection of western short stories and a Rylan Givens. Started Prisoners of Geography.

    22. PhyllisB*

      I haven’t been reading as much these last few weeks because of health issues with my mother, but I just finished The Wonderful World of James Herriot by James Herriot and Rosie Page. It’s an overview of his books with scenes from different ones. Also Jim and Rosie (his children) give background on who characters were based on and a bit of their family history.
      If you liked the James Herriot books you will love this. if you’ve never read them but thought you’d like them, this is a great introduction.
      Last night I started a new Mattie Winston adventure; Lucky Stiff by Anneliese Ryan. These books are extremely funny, but if descriptions of death and autopsies gross you out, you may want to steer clear.

    23. allathian*

      The Body in the Library and The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie. Both of these Miss Marple books feature some of the same characters about 20 years apart.

      1. Clisby*

        I’m halfway through re-reading Murder at the Vicarage. I know I’ve read it before, but I have no memory of whodunit, so am re-enjoying the experience.

          1. Clisby*

            One great thing about Agatha Christie is that she’s written so many books over so many years, it’s easy to go back to the earliest ones. Inevitably, I don’t remember the plot.

            1. allathian*

              Absolutely. Even if I remember who did it, I enjoy noticing the little hints that she gives the reader along the way because I’m not at all clever at noticing them the first time around. Agatha Christie’s books are very re-readable for that reason.

    24. Come On Eileen*

      I just finished all three books of the Wayward Pines series and absolutely LOVED them. I’m feeling a little lost now that it’s over. If anyone has recommendations for what I should read next that will suck me in like WP did, I’m all ears.

    25. Rara Avis*

      Divine Might by Natalie Haynes. Nonfiction about goddesses in Greek mythology. Heard her speak last Sunday.

    26. Bluebell*

      Meet the Benedettos by Katie Cotugno is a Pride and Prejudice update in modern day LA and the daughters are pretty much the Kardashians. I thought it was fun. Read Crosstalk by Martha Wells- pretty light and funny, but the family antics should have been dialed waaaay down.

    27. BikeWalkBarb*

      Just finished a trilogy by Kevin Hearne: A Plague of Giants, A Blight of Blackwings, A Curse of Krackens. Fantasy with a form of magic, “kenning”, that sucks life out of you if you overuse it. Racially diverse characters–each country has its own special kenning and the people differ in appearance–and loving same-sex marriages and partnerships. I read this after devouring his very lighthearted long series about the Iron Druid, set in our world with vampires, werewolves, witches, and all the pantheons alive to the extent that people still hold beliefs in them.

      Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield was a recommendation from some other book thread. Haunting and heartbreaking.

      Katherine Addison: The Goblin Emperor, The Witness for the Dead, and The Grief of Stones. The second and third follow a character from the first. Characters are mostly elves and goblins, which have distinct differences, and every character is described by their skin tone and features that tell you their heritage. In The Goblin Emperor a half-goblin, half-elf youngest son becomes emperor unexpectedly. He’s unprepared, he’s kind and unpretentious, he has to learn a lot very fast and wants to rule differently from his hardhearted father who never wanted him to be born.

      Always have the next Louise Penny on hold at my library as I make my way through the series. Currently waiting for A Better Man.

      Nonfiction: A Walking Life by Antonia Malchik, who also writes at https://antoniamalchik.com/. (She’s also on Substack but moving away from it.) Really wonderful writing about the ways our built environment has shut down the freedom to simply go for a walk, with plenty of research woven in without being textbook-ish.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Oh you won’t see this because I am so late commenting but I had SUCH A JOURNEY with Our Wives Under The Sea. I think I ended up liking it but I’m still not even sure and I finished it weeks ago

    28. Nervous Nellie*

      I tried to get through Horse by Geraldine Brooks as it’s my new book club’s pick for February, but after the beautifully written section with the great relationship between groom and horse, I found it pretentious and heavy-handed. The Goodreads reviews confirmed my discomfort, so I have quietly set it aside and don’t plan to finish it. I’ll attend the meeting and see what others think. If this is the kind of book that is always chosen, I might also be done with the book club. Too little time to read tedious books!

      As an antidote to Horse, I am luxuriating in the warm bath that is Paterson, the book-length long poem by William Carlos Williams about Paterson, New Jersey. It’s a dreamy and sometimes difficult paean to society’s disorganization and inequality, but also has moments of startling beauty that I catch myself reading aloud, over and over. Wow. As a weekend companion I plan also to watch Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson, about a Paterson NJ bus driver (Adam Driver, what an apt name!) who reads WCW’s poetry and writes his own poems. After a frantic work week, this is the salve I need.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Have you read The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires? There’s a hilarious scene where the main character has joined a book club and the novel selected is this pretentious, snoozy bore. A rebel faction invites her to their own splinter club, which reads salacious true crime; ” these two women were best friends and they chopped each other up with axes. You can’t tell me you don’t want to know what happens.”

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Oh! Thank you! I might just get a copy of that to bring along to the meeting, as a signal to others who might feel trapped in this….hah!

        2. Bananapants Circus With Dysfunctional Monkeys*

          I just got that from the library after I demolished Final Girl Support Group in one sitting!

      2. Reba*

        Multiple people in my life have either given me or told me about “Horse” because the settings and subjects have some…significant overlap with my life, lol. But I have picked it up twice and not gotten too far either time. I have loved other Geraldine Brooks works so I had higher hopes for this one. The historical sections are hitting better than the contemporary era, but the author is just not really equipped to engage the subjects she’s aiming at in it.

        I could use a sweeping multi-era novel these days, so the search continues.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Agreed – I think she overreaches with this one, and honestly was uneasy about her prior ones too for much the same reason. This one really felt like she was trying to check all the boxes for today’s marketable subjects. It was tiresome.

          A sweeping multi-era novel that is climate change lit/futuristic but also historical (nice!) is Greenwood by Michael Christie. Maybe give it a shot? It was my best read of 2023.

    29. Elizabeth West*

      I have several books going at once, usually. This week I started Stephen King’s Holly. I adore the character Holly Gibney, and this book has me on the edge of my seat!

      Anything I have on Kindle is usually reserved for commuting — that’s my primary reading time, and it’s easier to read on my phone than to drag a whole-ass book with me. Plus, it makes a good book last a bit longer if I only read on the bus/train. But I may not be able to wait to finish it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I plan to pick up Holly for Husband, who is a huge King fan. I enjoyed Fairy Tale more than he did, though, so we’ll see.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I read all afternoon and finished it! I haven’t done that in a while but I really couldn’t put it down.
          Fairy Tale is on the shelf; I haven’t read it yet.

    30. Pam Adams*

      I finally got to Malka Older’s The Mimicking of Known Successes. Greatly enjoyed it.

      I’m also relistening to Katherine Addison’s The Angel of the Crows as my bedtime book. Sherlock Holmes with some interesting twists!

    31. Mrs. Frisby*

      I’m on a bit of a middle grade kick right now. Almost done with The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat. She’s so good! I’m almost a completist of her work by now, and I’m really enjoying this one about a girl, who has grown up in the slums, about to turn 13 in a highly hierarchical society who goes on a sailing expedition with her boss, a mapmaker. She’s trying to change her destiny, and it’s really engrossing.

      I’m also listening to this year’s Newbery winner, The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers. I’ve never been able to get into his adult fiction, but I’m LOVING this. The audiobook is narrated by Ethan Hawke and he’s SO GOOD. Very, very highly recommended; I honestly think a lot of adults would love it.

      I also read John Scalzi’s Starter Villain which was a lot of fun. A normal guy inherits his billionaire uncle’s villain business (complete with communicative cats!) and hijinks ensue. Funny, light, an enjoyable quick read.

    32. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Demon Copperhead having just finished David Copperfield. I like it a lot although I wish I hadn’t read them back-to-back.

    33. Jackie*

      Just finished “Random in Death” the #58 in the series by J. D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts). I accidentally bought the second one “Glory in Death” first, then purchased the first one “Naked in Death” published in July 1995. The only series I read, the only ones I own all in hardback, the only ones I buy pre-order, and the only book club I belong to on Facebook. It is absolutely crazy to me that I have been at this storyline for almost 3 decades!
      I suggest if this is of interest to do the series in order–plot and character development evolves with each subsequent novel.

      I am 62–I was the kid in grade school that read so much that I checked out 6 books at a time at our local library (Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys etc.) and I am eternally grateful to my mom who was talked into buying the children’s classics from a traveling door – to – door book salesman in the late ’60s–they are on display in my “babe cave”.

      I actually read the biography of Michelangelo “The Agony and the Ecstasy” in 7th grade because I thought there would be some SEX in it…lol…my mom asked if it was for a book report! The book was at least 3 inches thick. Good times.

      1. OtterB*

        You’re not me, because I am 66 and my library when I was a kid didn’t carry Nancy Drew, bah. But The Agony and the Ecstasy was one of the early books I read when transitioning from children’s books to adult books. (YA wasn’t a thing then.) Also books by Dick Francis, James Michner, and Leon Uris.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        For SEX, you needed Rosemary Rogers’ “Sweet Savage Love.” I was in 8th grade. I. Had. No. Idea.

        1. Jackie*

          lol…ok i was intrigued by your comment and just spent $6.49 for the Kindle version on Amazon—says it’s 713 pages! My mom bought True Story and True Confessions magazines – hence my skewed romance views as a teenager!

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Heh, you all should really check out Girls in Bloom! The author is very frank about which novels hint at THE SEX, which describe it, and which male authors would probably be on some watchlists nowadays. He’s also very frank about lesbian fiction and how it wasn’t all just The Well of Happiness until the seventies.

    34. bright as yellow*

      I finished Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I had placed a hold on it a few months ago, and it was finally ready for me to pick up, and the librarian left a lovely note in it for me, that they loved the book and recommending Robin Hobb.

      I really liked the book in the beginning, but I began to get restless about half way through when I realized that the backstory of the main character was the main point of the book, and I didn’t feel emotionally attached to him.

      I just speedread the rest of the book just to finish, and then read a little Sandman as a palette cleanser. I usually get my books from the library, but bit the bullet and bought a box set of the Sandman comics off ebay last year and it’s mostly just sitting on my bookshelf, but sometimes I look at it and my heart is full. It’s so pretty, and it’s _mine_.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Wise Man’s Fear by Rothfuss features the hero as ever victorious etc. to a ridiculous extent. And then it just…stops. I will admit to putting up a sign for my husband’s lab that features Kvothe’s advice:
        Measure carefully.
        Label clearly.
        Eat somewhere else.

        1. Pickwick*

          “He’s a better writer than an author”: I first ran across that phrase in a discussion of Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians,” but I think it applies to Patrick Rothfuss, too. There are some fun, clever, creative, and mysterious bits in those books, but they don’t make a satisfying larger whole.

          bright as yellow, if you enjoyed *some* things about Name of The Wind, maybe try The Slow Regard of Silent Things? I found it wholly more satisfying. Auri is more interesting than Kvothe, and the book is written from her unique perspective.

      2. Jackalope*

        Name of the Wind was an odd read for me. I made it about halfway through pretty much devouring it, and then set it down to go to sleep or something, and just…. couldn’t pick it back up. I tried a time or two and couldn’t make myself finish. Later on I saw the author as a guest player on a D&D podcast that I enjoy (Critical Role, for those who care) and he seemed like a lovely human and that made me want to go back and finish it but I still couldn’t.

    35. carcinization*

      Still reading Black’s Book of Night for book club. Not my favorite but I’m somewhat interested in what happens, I guess.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I just finished The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis. It was fun, but not as good as Bellwether. I listened to the audiobook, and the ending seemed to just drop off. Was it supposed to do that? It makes sense, but I’m wondering if my audiobook is accidentally missing a file or something?

        1. carcinization*

          I think this is a nesting glitch, I’ve not heard of this author or these books that I recall!

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            I meant to reply to the general reading thread. A few people mentioned they were reading it last week. :)

        2. Jackalope*

          It did have an odd ending. It felt almost like the author was prepping for a sequel, which may or may not be the case, but it feels like a possibility?

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            That’s an interesting take. It also felt odd because the book was on the longer side, and then just abruptly ended. I don’t like when books do that, but it felt especially jarring in this case. Listening to the audio version makes it really noticeable, too.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          To be fair, nothing is as good as Bellwether. I just adore that book!

          But yes, Roswell did seem to kind of drop off a small cliff at the end–I actually flipped back to make sure I hadn’t skipped anything.

    36. IT Manager*

      I wanted to thank all the commenters who respond to this thread each week – I took 15 books from these recommendations, and some of Alison’s, on vacation the last few weeks and read 14 of them on Libby. Thank you all for the outstanding and varied ideas!

  3. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what games you’ve been playing and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome!

    Can’t remember if this was this week or last week, but I finally “won” Dr. Mario. The last 2-3 levels were HARD, but I was so proud of myself when I finished. Then I went back to an earlier level and was surprised at how easy it felt.

    1. Daria Grace*

      I’ve been back to playing Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. It’s almost 20 years old but it still holds up as an incredibly well made, engaging game that still has a surprising amount of online content being made about it. If you’re playing it, there’s a great fan made program called Open RCT2 that makes the game work better on modern computers, adds some useful features and allows you to play Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 games if you own it with Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 features

    2. Maleficent2026*

      I have 2 quests in Disney Dreamlight Valley I’ve been saving as my “brain bribe” so I can finish a few school assignments due on Sunday.

    3. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I finally got back into playing Sims4. I learned I had since forgotten all the little tweaks and controls, so my first vampire family all died because they wouldn’t stop going out into the sunlight all the time. Granted, maybe I shouldn’t have given them a one-room shack to live in, but we were on a very tight budget! Then I turned on money cheats to build the second family a converted modern art museum to live in. The third family in the same town has a normal house but I removed all the doors when they went to bed to see what would happen. So far, everyone is surviving, which I consider a win.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Re-playing Warhammer Rogue Trader with mostly-heretical choices. It’s hard to do that since they’re so dark and evil, but the story – while it has a similar path – has a LOT of differences also. It’s interesting to see them.

    5. the tumpet*

      I picked up the Pokémon romhack Blaze Black 2 Redux and while I will fully admit I’m playing it on easy mode, it’s super refreshing and fun to have so many pokemon available so early. My Bagon is the pride and joy of my level 10 team right now :)

    6. Nicki Name*

      I finished playing The Case of the Golden Idol and its DLC and just learned that it was inspired by Return of the Obra Dinn. (If you liked Return of the Obra Dinn, well, nothing is ever going to be as good as Return of the Obra Dinn, but Case of the Golden Idol does scratch some of that itch and I’d recommend it.)

    7. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Still nursing a couple of characters through the first run in Coerthas Highlands in FFXIV, and annoyed how my black mage has to be five levels higher than anyone else to get through a quest alive. Can’t the poor boy wear a *little* armor?

    8. The Dude Abides*

      Anyone here tried Lorcana?

      I had heard about it for a while, but wanted to see if it’d stick around before jumping in. The rules I can grok fairly well from
      MtG experience, and I think it’d be a good intro to card games for my Disney-obsessed 4yo.

      1. Random Nerd*

        I have never tried it myself, but have heard it called by people who did play it that it was just MtG reskinned. And that’s basically it. In the case of my acquaintances, that was a point against it, but it doesn’t have to be, I supposed. I dislike most trading card games because they feel like money pits, but I’m also not very good at them, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

  4. RLC*

    Fig is such an adorable little creature! Love that she has a fluffy snuggle buddy. We have a tiny tricolor kitty (Sunny) who loved to use our late British Shorthair (all 21 pounds of her) as a plush heated pillow.

    1. MEHSquared*

      Came here to say this! The contrast between petite Fig and big, fluffy Hank as they snuggle is just too cute.

    2. Invisible fish*

      As my husband once pointed out, our beloved Gigantor used to wear the small cats like capes. Now that he’s not with us, those small cats keep trying to get Gigantor’s brother (not giant but Still Big) to take on the role of cape wearing, but his response epitomizes “No, thank you.”

  5. Green Goose*

    Parenting question, For others who have young children how do you try to divvy things up when one of the parents is out of the house more often due to commute but both parents work full-time.

    1. Owlette*

      Disclosure: only one toddler household.
      Our current evenings are:
      First parent home: plays, makes and serves dinner.
      Second parent usually arrives home during/after dinner. Family time for about an hour then second parent takes over bath and pj time while first parent chills. Then second parent does remaining kitchen clean up while first parent does bedtime.

      We do try to talk about it regularly too. We’ve had changing roles and work balances over time so always reassessing how things are working has been really helpful for us.

    2. HannahS*

      First parent home picks up our toddler, turns on the TV and makes dinner. We switch off who cleans based on who is more tired/who wants to cuddle the toddler more. We hang out together/go for a walk until bedtime. The parent without back pain does the bath, the other parent does pyjamas and teeth-brushing; we take turns doing the rest of bedtime.

      We try to give each other time here and there to do something restorative. Currently, that means that the busier parent does not get any leisure time because all of their “free” time goes to finishing more work, but both acknowledge how hard this sucks and it’s temporary.

    3. Emma*

      Person who gets home first makes a meal/watches the kid(s). When other person gets home, they help watch the kids/give parent 1 space to deal with dinner, and then they (parent 2) clean up from dinner. Everyone puts the kids to bed, and finally, sweet adult time! That’s how it runs in our house.

    4. Pop*

      I work more hours than my husband, so similar but not the same situation. We try to make sure that each person gets an equal amount of kid-free free time for themselves. both of our jobs allow us to have the family and life we have (one pays more and offers health insurance, one is super flexible and has been great to have in the early years of our toddler’s life), and we want to treat both of them as equally important.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        +1 this. I have found care work and house work is limitless but free time is not, so to divide all the care work is impossible. My Husband and I both get grumpy and resentful if we feel like we aren’t getting free time.
        For a while we had a system where one parent would take “alone time” from the end of dinner until the kids’ bedtime. The other parent would clean up after dinner with the kids and start bedtime routine. Then the next night we would switch. We don’t really do this now because we our kids (we have three) need a lot of driving to evening activities now, but it felt really balanced when we did do it.
        Also- I once read somewhere that the partnership isn’t 50-50 even split- it is both partners giving 100%. I think of this a lot.

        1. Cat*

          One thing my husband and I did when the kids were little is switch off free time on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We only had until 9 AM, so it really didn’t impact family time. We don’t go to church, and our kids were not in sports until they were older. I agree that the free time is what people really crave. My husband slept in on his day and I always woke up at seven and read for two hours. It was awesome. The deal was that the parent who woke up early needed to make sure the kids were fed, dressed, and kitchen was clean. The other parent had to be ready to go at 9 AM. We then went to the park or something as a family.

    5. Lady Sally*

      We don’t specifically divide things up. Whoever is home is on it, and when both are home we are both on it. We intentionally give each other breaks, whether it’s a break at home so one can have some time for a project at home, or a break for one to go out. After 10 years there are chores we naturally gravitate to (me laundry, he cooks), but that doesn’t mean we don’t mix it up all the time based on what needs to be done. 3 kids

    6. MP*

      We just focus on what makes the most sense and don’t stress over who has more/less tasks as long as everything is getting done and we are both okay with what we have on our plates. There are chores that we both just do and other things we trade off with. I end up with more kid related tasks and meal prep since I WFH and my spouse has a pretty long commute. He will do other things like laundry that don’t need to be done at a certain time of day.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I have one and she’s no longer young. I’m a cis woman married to a man and I worked longer hours with less flexibility than he had. I did drop-off and pickup and he got home before we did and started dinner. We kind of traded off or shared evening kid duty and I did the dishes after she went to bed since he cooked.

      We were lucky that she always needed a lot of sleep, slept well, and went to bed at 7:00 PM until she was in second or third grade. Both of us had activities that took us out of the house in the evenings and I also sometimes had to work weekends. That we played by ear.

      We’ve also had weekly cleaners since before she was born which helped beyond measure. He’s always done at least half of the house stuff but I realized when kiddo was about five that I was the one earning more even though I was working part-time and I was also the one who deal with all the doctor’s apppointments, playdates, and birthday parties. The next time I heard him telling someone at a party how wonderfully flexible his job was, I asked him afterward why he always said “no” when I asked him to take kiddo somewhere during the week. He eventually changed his tune. I went back to full-time work when kiddo was 7 and he took over all daytime responsibilities – I never met the orthodontist. And yes, he did know who her friends were and what size clothes she wore and he could make a very nice ballet bun.

    8. Ginger Cat Lady*

      There are about a million ways to do it, the key is to find the one that works for both of you and your relationship. And I think it’s vitally important to remember that you can’t split a perfect 50/50 on childcare, and a perfect 50/50 on finances, and a perfect 50/50 on housework, etc.
      Plus there’s the whole mental load, which absolutely counts, too.
      The book Fair Play by Eve Rodsky and the accompanying cards can really help figure stuff like this out, as it provides a good framework for talking about these things, and it includes ALL household work. If you’re doing 80% of the childcare while your partner is doing 80% of the housework, that’s pretty equitable, too. You can adapt the framework for the needs of the family, but I think an approach that includes and values ALL contributions to the family is better than just trying to split child care only.
      I would also 100% second what another commenter said about how this isn’t a one and done conversation, but something you need to keep talking about basically forever, because needs change, ability changes, circumstances change, etc.
      Our kids are grown and gone, and we STILL have this conversation periodically. I’m going through some health issues that mean we’ve had to shift things around. When each of our kids left home, we had to have conversations about who was going to pick up the stuff they did, etc.

  6. Sunflower*

    I want to start cooking a larger variety of foods/meals from scratch but I’m so overwhelmed at the thought of having all of this stuff in my small (36 sq ft, enclosed), single dweller kitchen and where to put it.

    A person I follow on IG has been preparing recipes all week from a cook book and they look amazing- some examples are chicken pot pie, kimichi, goat cheese pasta, salmon tacos. These are all prepared in the same week and I just can’t wrap my head around having to buy a bunch of dry ingredients, sauces or spices for them to sit unused, taking up space for what could be up to years. Or buying dairy/fresh veggies and having it spoil before I can use it.

    I cook a decent amount and already feel like my kitchen is pretty maxed out with the ingredients I do have yet I don’t have a good amount of the ingredients to make most meals I see in cookbooks. Waste-wise, I don’t have any issue eating leftovers or freezing food but my freezer space is already almost maxed out with basics like fruit, meat and other frozen meals I’ve made.

    I know cooking for one is not a new plight and I’m wondering if there is anyone else in this situation who has made this work without needing to freeze everything they make or eat the same meal 6 days in a row to get through items before they spoil.

    1. Owlette*

      Super minor tip – I often google ‘substitute for xx ingredient’ if a recipe has something I don’t want to buy

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Agree with Owlette about using substitutes – I have a pretty wide range of spices and condiments, but I don’t always worry about having black cardamom as well as green, or exact chili paste/sauce. It’s a bit less authentic but it works.

        I’m also a big fan of making up recipes as I go along based on what I have in the fridge that needs to be used up and testing out new flavour combos. You can get flavour wheels or guides that help you do this if it’s not intuitive for you. (Highly recommend Salt, Fat Acid, Heat as a general guide to how to think about combining different elements into something tasty!)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Different combos go a long, long way in providing variety without too much outlay or counter real estate! Husband’s tried cardamon and Old Bay spice on tons of different things and it usually tastes new and delicious, for example.

          Also, don’t be afraid to try different regional cuisines together. For example, I have a slow cooker black bean recipe I’m dying to try, but wasn’t sure how to serve it as a meal. Then I looked through the vegetarian cookbook Husband got us for Christmas and hit on polenta as a base–now I have at least one meal set for next week!

      2. Awkwardness*

        This is a super important tip!
        I am quite happy to trade some authenticity against space in my kitchen. Take all those different types of oil, types of vinegar or types of nut butter: I cannot have all of them in my home!
        And I make a lot of sauces and dressings from scratch, as teriyaki or barbecue sauce, which means I do not have too many bottles sitting around. I will only make a batch that will last for the recipes I have in my mind

    2. ThatGirl*

      I mean, the person on IG probably has a bigger kitchen or more people helping her eat things. I don’t know how creative you are/feel, but here are a few ideas:
      – start with one recipe of hers that looks good, cut it in half if needed, then figure out what else you could do with leftover ingredients – would the goat cheese also work in a salad or omelet or as a spread? Would leftover chicken work in a soup or as tacos?

      – alternatively, start with one or two new ingredients and figure out how they might work with what you already have

      – maybe use up stuff in your freezer first?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I should have taken note of that second tip before getting stuck with two giant tubs of Korean spicy paste–it’s just too hot for me and I’m stuck with the opened one! That’s the main problem, I find, with ordering ingredients online–you end up with a Costco of the stuff because the sellers understandably don’t want to ship their wares a cup at a time.

    3. Maleficent2026*

      Do you have a friend who’d be willing to trade cooked meals for something? A friend and I will occasionally trade my cooked meals for her farm fresh eggs.

      1. Freya's Cats*

        I don’t know if it exists elsewhere, but where I live there is an app where you can share meals with people. You put in the app when you are going to make an extra portion and someone can come pick it up. You can specify if it is for free it at cost of the ingredients. A coworker who likes cooking a lot now has a regular, an old lady who lives on her own but has trouble still cooking for herself. His cooking is a bit more exotic than she is used to, but apparently she does like trying everything.

          1. PhyllisB*

            I can’t recall the name of it, but there’s an app where you can plug in ingredients you have on hand and it will give suggestions and recipes.

            1. Esprit de l'escalier*

              I do this all the time via google search plus the word “recipe”, it is very rare not to get anything that matches.

              1. Makare*

                My husband is a genius at doing that, he’s always finding new recipes to try based on whatever it is we need to use up.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Back in my single days I lived in an apartment complex that was all single women. Two buildings, four apartments each. In my building we four would cook and share a meal once or twice a week. Whoever’s apartment hosted would provide the main dish and the others did the sides and dessert. Not only was it loads of fun but we got to try new recipes without having a ton of leftovers.

    4. Shiara*

      America’s Test Kitchen has a cooking for one cookbook. I’ve used their cooking for two cookbook and one of the handy things was the large section of easy recipes to use up extra ingredients.

      When I was living solo, I did a lot of eating the same thing all week, but I’d occasionally successfully mealplan around one particular ingredient. For instance one butternut squash would get used in pasta, then curry, then pureed for baking.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I concur with planning around one type of food, such as one cuisine. I recall the garbage study found that Mexican American households (in the Phoenix area) had the least food waste, because the cuisine was concentrated around a small number of ingredients.

        So if you do Polish this week you’ll use your bunch of dill. Mexican next week to use the cilantro.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And if you want variety in the week, ingredients cross cultures too—Scandinavian use of dill, Asian recipes with cilantro.

          Sunflower, I’d suggest setting aside some of your freezer space for chopped frozen fresh ingredients. Basil keeps more of its flavor in the freezer, I’m about to try cilantro. I do things like buy the big box of mushrooms, sautée it all with onions, and freeze the much-smaller amount flat in a freezer bag. (flat so I can break off chunks).

          If you have friends who cook, a spice swap can give variety. And if you’re into house plants, consider growing your own lemon grass/etc. instead of purely ornamental plants.

          1. carcinization*

            I almost always have cilantro in my freezer, I just pull the leaves off first and freeze only those in snack-size ziplocs. It was way harder to remove the leaves after freezing. I know chimichurri and such requires the stems, but usually I don’t need them, if I did I guess I’d freeze them separately. I freeze it in 1/4 cup portions. I do exactly the same with parsley, actually.

        2. kiki*

          Yes, I’ve found success with this method too. It’s also kind of exciting because different types of cuisines can be so broad even if they use the same core of ingredients. “Italian Week” isn’t just pasta, red sauce, and pizza, but there’s still ingredient overlap (especially herbs and spices) with other dishes.

    5. Anon Poster*

      One thing that helped me cook with more variety was being able to shop at stores that sell spices in the bulk section (do we call it the bulk section? It sounds wrong as I type it.) At Sprouts, or the big “super” version of our main grocery chain, I can buy a couple of teaspoons of curry powder or arrowroot powder or whatever I need instead of a whole jar.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          We have that at the QFC in Seattle–it’s a lifesaver when you just need a little bit of something. Stocking tends to be a little erratic, though, and if you need something really specific you might have to go to the ID district or Pike Place Market.

    6. Thunder Kitten*

      Don’t try to make one cool recipe each evening – it’s hard to use up leftovers that way. Perhaps plan your recipes around a handful of key ingredients that rotate every week. Or choose 1-2 ‘focus’ meals that you shop for. The remaining meals are using up what you bought – So if you buy kale one week for a pasta, later in week use in salad, and later as part of a soup. Having a set of cooking techniques/meals that are flexible in terms of ingredients will help a LOT.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I cook one or two fairly large recipes over the weekend and alternate eating that all week. Plus freeze some and then you can pull out home cooked food a few week’s later and you get a few meals without having to cook it.

        Google substitutes for spices you don’t already have. There’s lots that close.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I do this, too, but I make a lot of crock pot meals.

          I have thought about trying a meal kit service but haven’t yet, this seems like the kind of situation they are designed for?

          1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

            Meal kits are perfect for this. You can try out the weird ingredients and then if you really like them, get the big jar for cooking on your own (maybe with the same recipe card).

      2. Anon-E-Mouse*

        I usually cook one time-consuming or new dish on the weekend and make enough for 3 or 4 servings: 1 to eat that night, 1 for a busy weeknight the following week and 1 or 2 for the freezer. If it’s not already part of the dish, I also usually batch cook 3-4 cups of something like rice, farro or beans and portion it into 1 cup containers to refrigerate or freeze.

        I agree with other commenters that you should look into bulk purchases of small quantities of dried herbs, spices and also things like flour, rice, etc. Then you can have a small quantity on hand to experiment with before deciding to get more, and you’ll be able to have more variety in a small space. If there’s no bulk store near you, you could see if your friends or neighbors want to divvy up some purchases of spices etc. (When I was single I used to divvy up certain kinds of produce that only came in large quantities with a neighbor in my apartment building: we’d split a container of baby spinach, a bug head of celery, jumbo bags of carrots, radishes etc.

        I’m not a fan of meal delivery services that send you ingredients, unless they are careful to minimize waste.

        Also, don’t rule out the possibility of getting yourself a mini freezer.

    7. Melissa*

      My approach takes a bit of planning but I cook something that makes 4+ serves, eat it for two nights and freeze the other serves. Then I eat the frozen meals in between, so I really only cook once or twice a week. I also plan ahead for things like eggs, e.g. I’ll buy eggs, make a meatloaf and a quiche and have scrambled eggs for dinner, all in one week. I’m not sure where you’re at for ingredient storage, but sometimes buying a bottle of “Italian herbs” meets the same purpose as buying oregano, basil, parsley etc. Same for “Mexican chilli” which does all manner of taco seasoning etc. You can also get single use kits for certain dishes, like an Indian dish that has 30 different spices and ingredients that all get used up at once. I also use special tupperware to store fruit and veg so they last twice as long.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I hear you. I am cooking for one and still not totally used to it, so I freeze a *lot* of leftovers. I don’t know how to make a small batch of Spanish rice or spaghetti.

    8. Sloanicota*

      I cook for one, and I’m always looking for meal ideas that #1 don’t create a lot of leftovers (I think I’m going to eat them, but I rarely do) or #2 is healthy and #3 doesn’t make a big mess (I like the crockpot for its ability to cook everything and store it in one vessel, but it doesn’t meet rule #1). Right now I’m really into lentil dishes because I can just throw in however much red lentils I want to eat, and the rest are happy to stay in my canister. Stir fry dishes or whatever sauce sounds good – including sometimes just cheating by buying a jar of sauce.

    9. Cooking from scratch*

      I make home made meals and scratch everything (including bread). But when I make a casserole or a soup or tacos or whatever it is I make-I cook it up Sunday afternoon or evening. Then I eat the leftovers for lunch during the rest of the week. And I keep some staples so I can switch it up if I need a break (like noodles and cheese for grilled cheese, etc). Usually one night during the week, I’ll cook another meal from scratch for variety. And I put single servings of every meal I make in the freezer. So I can keep things interesting.

    10. Alex*

      It sounds like you might be a good candidate for a delivery kit–they send you smaller amounts of what you need and generally only make 2 servings.

      Another idea is trying simpler recipes–I find skinnytaste dot com to be a really great site that doesn’t usually have a lot of one-off ingredients that you wouldn’t use for other things, but also has a huge assortment of recipes that are typically pretty healthy.

      If you have a sunny windowsill or space for one of those indoor herb gardens (not necessarily in the kitchen!) you can grow a small selection of herbs you find yourself not wanting to buy. This way you can just snip off the small amount you need and the rest will keep growing.

      My last idea is if you live in a fairly populated area, you probably have a buy nothing or everything is free group that is active. It never hurts, when you just need a tiny amount of something, to ask on these groups if anyone has a tablespoon of this or a half cup of that. I see posts like this all the time and people are usually happy to help you out if they can. Conversely, if you do find yourself buying something you don’t think you will use again, you can give it away for free on there!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Our BuyNothing group has also been swapping empty jars lately —baby food jars are pretty universally available, the glass will keep herbs & spices pungent much longer than plastic, and you might even luck out into someone who can give you the storage box that holds a couple dozen jars stacked tightly.

    11. Mis shell any mouse*

      When I had a tiny kitchen, I simply stored dry goods outside of the kitchen on a bookshelf (I cook a lot and the kitchen was a converted balcony). I also never tried more than 1 new recipe a week, and had at least one leftover night.

    12. Freya's Cats*

      Have you ever seen the cooking show The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo? It is about how she ran a 2 guests per evening ‘restaurant’ in a minuscule Paris attic apartment. There are clips in YouTube. Maybe nice for some inspiration.
      As to eating the same meal 6 times in a row: as a single person household, I always scale recipes down to two or maybe three portions. Small packages of ingredients are often more expensive, but I find good food going to waste worse, so I just swallow the cost.

    13. ivy*

      I don’t know if this will help but it’s the way I meal plan (vegetarian).
      Identify one thing I’d like to make, what do I need for that? (e.g green beans, cabbage).
      What will be leftover? Of those things, what won’t keep well? (green beans) Right, that’s the basis of meal #2, what else do I need? (Knowing that I should still try to use the rest of the cabbage this week or next).
      Another way – I’ll get a bag of peppers and think of a couple of different meals that use them (e.g. shashuka and chilli). By mixing different cuisines, it doesn’t feel repetitious

      And 100% on board with googling for substitutes! While I like to know what’s authentic, I don’t feel that Tuesday night dinner needs to be authentic – it needs to be quick, healthy and tasty. If that means wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar, so be it.

    14. JSPA*

      I cook maaaybe one “entire dish” (say lasagna) if there’s both fridge and freezer space… but I find it a lot more efficient to read cookbooks as research / inspiration, -rather than as a set of instructions–with emphasis on looking for commonalities in meat-and-veg, but differences in sauce/spice/presentation. Ditto youtube videos (ancient Roman cookery–very enjoyable.)

      Once I have a sense of how to achieve distinct culturally-inflected flavors using overlapping ingredients, I cook two or three veg and a protein, all minimally spiced. Then I can cook a starch to last me one or two days (or bread for 3 or 4) plus make a quick sauce that will turn the already-cooked protein plus one of the already-cooked veg (plus maybe some flash-cooked veg) into pseudo-thai, pseudo-greek, pseudo-italian, pseudo-chinese, pseudo-french (etc).

      Every culture has adopted and adapted veg from others. Tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, maize (etc) are all from the Americas; most are fully integrated into a wealth of other cultures’ core cuisines. It’s totally fine to comebine the “same” roast squash and the “same” roasted red peppers with cheese and tomato and basil in one dish…and with coconut milk and galangal and fish sauce and lemongrass and sliced, pre-steamed chicken breast in another dish…and with ginger and sesame oil and chili oil and steamed broccoli and szechuan peppercorns and that “same” sliced steamed chicken breast in a third dish…and also to make them into a peanutbutter-potato soup, for a 4th dish (and so on).

    15. Ellis Bell*

      For me, the key is to find what the most reusable ingredients are, (especially if it stores flat) and after chopping or mixing them up, I put it away as a pre prepped kit. It’s easier to store parts of recipes than entire extra batches. So, if something calls for a lot of half veggies, (like half a pepper, or half box of mushrooms) I cut the whole thing up, saute, and put it in a flat sandwich bag to freeze knowing I can add it to a whole host of things like pizza toppings or stir fry. Sauces also are really easy to store flat, stacked vertically in the freezer like books. If your freezer is efficiently maxed out (lots of flat storage and You’ve tossed the boxes on bulky things) then put something like the base of the sauce without spices in a clip top jar in the fridge; you can change the flavouring of it through the week. If I were making a chicken pie I would definitely make twice the amount of pastry and freeze half, or use the pastry while the pie was cooking for something else (maybe the goats cheese in your other recipe could be parcels?). It’s easy to store dry spices in small spaces but it requires thought, or else they do naturally incline to clutter. My favorite ways are in magnetic tins on fridges or metal strips, or the Joseph Joseph under shelf spice rack which lies flat under a shelf and folds out.

    16. Llellayena*

      Can you shop with a friend and split the things that come in set “family size” amount, like the meat and larger veggies? My biggest problem was chicken always came in 4-5 serving packages instead of the two servings I wanted. Also, farmers markets often have veggies that are individually smaller than the grocery chains. I wouldn’t have to cook a week’s worth of eggplant because I could find fist sized ones instead of jumbo, head sized ones. I also found a 3” cabbage once! I like getting individual spices instead of mixes so I can get more combinations. If you’ve got some wall space there are 2” deep wall mounted spice racks so you’re not using cabinet storage.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Stores like Trader Joe’s and Asian/Indian grocery stores often have smaller packages of produce or a larger variety in their bulk produce sections. I like getting meat from Trader Joe’s because the package sizes are generally 2-3 servings instead of the 4-6 servings I get at my usual grocery store. A butcher or fishmonger might be another option for smaller servings of meat and fish. And I get vegetables like eggplants, lettuces, cabbage, etc at my local Korean grocery store because they tend to have smaller-sized varieties so I can buy less.

    17. Lilo*

      I think the one thing is, just start small and you can scale up as fits your needs. Don’t think you have to do 4 elaborate meals a week.

      FWIW I cook a lot but most stuff I make is two night meals and a lot of overlap. almost everything I make has onions, peppers, and tomatoes, so I buy a lot of those, for instance.

      Instagram doesn’t reflect reality, you don’t know that person even eats what they make.

    18. Fellow Traveller*

      On tactic to have less leftovers might be to trade food with a friend. I have a friend at work and we often make and swap dinner or lunch.

    19. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I saw a picture on social media recently of a cupboard with about 15 different cooking appliances. The hashtag was something like goals, and all I could think was why do you need 4 appliances which all do basically the same thing? Multi-purpose is critical, especially when you have a very small space. I am very resistant to buying something for the kitchen that can only be used for 1 thing.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved Laurie Colwin’s advice about cooking equipment–you need more bowls and spoons than you think, everything else is gravy beyond basic knives and such. She also says that anything that only does one job is a waste of space, and you will use your double boiler as two separate pots far more often than you will as a double boiler.

        1. carcinization*

          I dunno, I used to prep my tofu between two plates, with paper towels on top and bottom and weighed down with heavy books, and now I have a lovely little tofu press that’s so much more convenient, even if it has to live on the table when I’m not using it!

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            I think the key is to be thoughtful. If you regularly use a tofu press, then its worth the space. But if you don’t, then maybe the plates and paper towels are a better choice. Even though its less convenient. I have a rice cooker because I am terrible at making rice on the stove, and I use it frequently enough that its worth storing it. However, when it dies I likely won’t replace it because I now have an instapot which can also make rice. Tailor your kitchen purchases to maximize usage and minimize storage of unused items, whatever that looks like for you.

    20. Pharmgirl*

      One thing I have done in the past is a meal plan service – you get a week at a time and the one I did used similar ingredients throughout the week. Meal planning is really the key so you can have different combinations of similar ingredients. Another one I’ve tried is cooksmarts – lots of ability to customize ingredients and portion sizes.

    21. BikeWalkBarb*

      Hope it’s okay to do this–over on Virginia Sole-Smith’s awesome Burnt Toast (anti-diet culture, anti-fatphobia, parenting and life) she just had a post on eating alone and what people fix for themselves when there’s no one else’s tastes to be taken into consideration. Great thread of suggestions. More of the “don’t cook fancy if you don’t like to” flavor, but plenty of ideas. https://virginiasolesmith.substack.com/p/the-life-changing-magic-of-eating-alone

    22. ww*

      My biggest discovery as a fellow cooker-for-one is the magic of freezing the individual components. If I’m making soup and I need half a stalk of celery but the store only sells them in giant bunches I’ll use what I need, and throw the rest in my vegetable scrap freezer bag. Doesn’t feel like waste, once a year those scraps get dumped into a pot and made into vegetable broth. Also, garlic! I buy those containers of pre-peeled garlic cloves and freeze. Frozen cloves work just as well for cooking (the texture changes so not ideal for eating raw in salads or if you wanted to roast a whole head, but fine for soups, sauces, dips, anything where it’s getting minced anyway). And then you don’t have to worry about using all your garlic before The Mold.

      Also, ime dried spices & mixes last way, way longer than it says on the tin. I’m still using some that are years old and they taste fine. And you can get real creative in the quest to use them up – currently I am putting sazon seasoning on e v e r y t h i n g. I will often use dried spices over fresh because I am not going to use the whole package of fresh thyme or whatever but I have plenty of dried. I’ll use bottled lemon juice rather than end up with half a rotten lemon – it tastes perfectly lemony to me and it lasts a lot longer. I switched to soy milk because even the smallest containers of whole dairy milk would end up half cheese (only really use milk for cooking) but soy stays good for eons in the fridge even opened. I am fast and loose with expiration dates! If it smells, looks and tastes good… You can hide a lot of edible-but-wilted-and-sad veggie sins by dumping a heavy sauce on em. Basically, you’re not a professional chef so feel free to take whatever not-a-professional-chef shortcuts your stomach approves of.

      (And finally, being OK with the idea that sometimes I’m going to miss something and the last few radishes are going to end up in the trash. Got some good meals out of my gochujang paste but it was a large container and the last bit ended up hard and moldy. C’est la vie. Doesn’t mean those meals weren’t a success!)

    23. zaracat*

      One thing that used to irk me was the wastage on fresh herbs and leafy greens when cooking for one, so now I grow a small selection. So much better when you can just pick a few leaves at a time.

      Also, pre-chopping a selection of vegetables which can be used in lots of different dishes over the course of 3-5 days. I tend to go for onion/spring onion, capsicum, shredded carrot, maybe mushrooms, and a green (beans, baby spinch or bok choy). Add protein of choice. Then I’ll make something like curry 1st night, stir fry with noodles or rice 2nd night and frittata on 3rd night.

    24. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I bought too many potatoes, since a ten pound bag was only 30 cents more than the five pound bag. So I’ve been baking potatoes (fortunately cold weather so the heat helps) and freezing them. I need baked potato later on, I grab one out of the freezer and nuke it. I might add it really does help to have a *real* freezer for this. So, sorry, not that helpful. There are a lot of microwave recipes out there, though.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I’m intrigued. Would the microwaved baked potato work for lunch, if you microwaved it in the morning? I don’t mind cold baked potato when it’s properly baked and fluffy, but microwaving often messes with the texture so you get cold + rubbery, which I wouldn’t be keen on. If this works to keep the baking texture, I’m all over this as my three main problems are: 1) varied lunches 2) eating more “from scratch” potatoes and 3) storing potatoes well and consuming before the rot sets in.

    25. Dancing Otter*

      I have my favorite spices, but not for every possible type of recipe. Maybe 10 or so, plus the bottled stuff like BBQ and Worcester sauce, vanilla and other extracts. Some of them get stale, but generally that just means they’re weaker and you need to use more. (I do track the age of baking powder, and I will never buy an economy size bottle of olive oil again.)

      I almost always prepare a recipe already written for one serving or divide a larger one. This may mean using a fraction of a pound of ground beef or one pork chop. Fine, what else uses ground beef that I can make tomorrow? Or I make a “meatloaf” in muffin cups or the egg bite mold, and use different sauces, like tomato on some and beef gravy on others and maybe steak sauce in others. Leftover cooked meat can be saved in one big freezer container until there’s enough to make hash (I have a meat grinder attachment for my mixer instead of a food processor) or a casserole; the flavor varies, obviously, depending what’s in it.

      If I buy a package of chicken or pork chops, I break it up into single meal portions before I freeze it. It’s not as though the store packaging is all that freezer-proof, so I’d have to rewrap it anyway, and I can marinate in the same freezer bag when I thaw one portion.

      Also, stale bread makes good croutons or bread crumbs, as long as it’s just stale, not moldy.

    26. Slartibartfast*

      check out the Sorted food channel on YouTube. They have an app out that includes shopping, meal prep, and reusing same or similar ingredients throughout the week, one of their main goals is reducing food waste. Ethical sourcing and sustainability are priorities too

    27. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      I highly recommend Caroline Chambers’ Substack, What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking. She has great recipes — my husband and I always devour anything from her. She includes ideas for ingredient substitutions, using up what you’ve bought, repurposing leftovers, and cooking techniques. Well worth the $5.50 a month for a paid subscription (you get a new recipe once a week plus access to the index of all the recipes; unpaid you get a recipe a month).

      Another great Substack is Ali Slagle’s 40 Ingredients Forever, which is exactly what it sounds like — all recipes made from 40 ingredients. And she doesn’t cheat and put salt, pepper, olive oil etc.under “pantry staples” and call it one ingredient. She periodically runs a feature in which readers tell her *their* 40 Ingredients and she creates three recipes for them.

      Finally a co-sign on Salt Fat Acid Heat! It’s a terrific book brimming with techniques and ideas; a real joy to read and cook from.

      Another great basic technique + ideas + substitution book is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. He has HTCE Fast and HTCE Vegetarian too, but I love the big original book.

  7. bibliovore*

    I used to consider myself an extrovert with minor introvert tendencies.
    Since covid lockdowns and being at risk and my husband dying I haven’t been anywhere where there are a lot of people.
    Am I an introvert now?
    There is an important gallery/art show opening tomorrow, that I do want to go (there are sure to be people I would like to see) but the thought of crowds of people is making my heart race.
    I could easily not go.
    Except for work stuff, I haven’t been to any events since 2020.
    This was the kind of the thing Mr. Bibliovore and I would always go to together.
    Any advice for getting myself out the door?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Any friends willing to tag along? Or give yourself permission to leave after 20 minutes if it’s too much. It’s ok to take it slow.

      1. Jackalope*

        I found this to be helpful when I first started going out post-2020. I’d give myself permission to go for just a short amount of time if needed, and then leave if I wanted to. It also helped if I had a specific idea of what I wanted to do; in your example I might pick a favorite artist or two, or a couple of specific people to touch base with, for example. Then I’d make sure I did that first thing, and see how I felt afterwards. If I wanted to stay longer I could, if I was ready to leave I could. That took a lot of pressure off.

    2. Not A Manager*

      My strong advice is to go. It’s human nature in a situation like yours to associate “people” with “danger,” and the only way* to address that is to hang out with people. Bring a mask, and give yourself permission to leave after some benchmark – one glass of wine, 20 minutes, greeting 3 people, whatever.

      Also, have a safe alternative in mind that’s not “slink home alone and feel like a failure.” I personally like treating myself to dinner and I don’t mind eating alone, so my backup plan would be dinner or a cocktail. But whatever yours is, give yourself a fun alternative if you do wind up leaving. Bonus points if the fun thing can be done whether you leave early (as an alternative) or after the full evening (as a reward).

      If you have good friends who feel safe to you, who are not planning to attend, you might ask if you can drop by and have a glass of wine with them at some unspecified time post-event.

      Followup question. Just remind me, weren’t you planning a trip to Japan? I can’t remember if that was canceled for some reason.

      *Obviously this is not The Only Way. It’s the lowest-cost way for me to address these issues.

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

      Well, you’re not wrong to be Covid cautious right now, if that’s an element of this feeling. Do you think any of the people you’re looking forward to seeing would maybe interested in going back to the gallery with you on a different day and looking around with you when it’s less crowded?

      I agree with ThatGirl that giving yourself permission to leave is a wise idea. If it looks too crowded, you don’t even have to go inside at all. You could go early, lurk outside, and chit chat with the people you like as they’re going in, then hit the gallery itself on a quieter day.

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

        And making sure you have a good mask (like a well-fitting N95) might also help you feel a bit more protected.

    4. Knighthope*

      Can you plan to get there right at the start so it won’t be so busy? Engage someone in conversation about the art. Stay a short time if you want to.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, be on time or early.

        I am not naturally punctual (everything takes longer than I expect, and anything that can go wrong always does), and if I’m ambivalent about going to something, it’s REALLY EASY to convince myself it’s not worth going if I’m going to be X amount late.

        I blame the minister who stopped the service to scold a late arrival (not me, fortunately) one Sunday. Soooooo glad when he was called to a higher salary elsewhere!

    5. Dicey Tillerman*

      I know a bunch of internet strangers aren’t quite the same, but if you do go, would you come back here and tell us about it? Who you saw, what you wore, what your favorite piece of art was? Please know that whatever you decide we are here quietly rooting for you.

    6. RMNPgirl*

      I wouldn’t consider what you’re feeling means introverted, it strikes me more as social anxiety.

      Introverts get their energy by being alone, extroverts get their energy by being around people.

      I’m an introvert but a social one. I like going and interacting with people but I also know it will exhaust me and I don’t build in enough me time then I will really struggle to stay “on”. But I don’t get a racing heart thinking about being around people. Sometimes I’ll think about how tiring it might be and if I have alone time before or after but no anxious feelings.

      1. allathian*

        I’m also a social, chatty introvert. Being around people doesn’t make me anxious, but it does tire me out. I generally prefer socializing in small groups of not more than about 8 people.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I compare socialising as an introvert to playing a sport. Most people don’t get anxious about playing sport, some people love sport, some people hate it, some people fall in between, some people are good at sport, some people are bad at it, most are in between. But no matter how good or bad they are at it or how much they enjoy it, if they’ve been playing for four hours, they will probably need a break.

        I think it’s the same with introverts and socialising. Most of us aren’t anxious about it. Some of us love it, some of us hate it, most probably fall somewhere in between. Some of us are really good at it, some of us are bad at it and so on. All just like extroverts. But no matter where we fall on those spectrums, we are likely to need a break if we’ve been doing it for too long.

        To answer bibliovore on that, I don’t think getting anxious about attending busy events makes you an introvert any more than being complete nonchalant about social events makes somebody an extrovert. It’s more about energy. I always remember after our last Leaving Cert. exam, some of my classmates making plans to go out drinking or whatever that night and I was thinking, “how can they still have energy? We’ve just gone through the most stressful year imaginable and they are still able to do more.”

        Now, I realise that to an extrovert, going out drinking or partying is not at all like studying constantly for months. To them, it was a break and a chance to let off steam, not something else that required planning and something else to be done before they could finally get a break.

    7. Introvert*

      Introverts (I’m pretty sure I’m 99% introverted) don’t get heart racing about going to events or being around other people. It’s just not the preferred way to spend their time and/or drains them of energy. This is me. No anxiety or nerves around people, just prefer myself and my dog. Sounds like you’ve been through a lot. Maybe there is someone you can talk to about all the changes to start to re-enter the social world you’ve left behind?

      1. What the what*

        Have you ever read the book Quiet? It’s about introverts and how we navigate the world. It’s such a refreshing book that made me feel good about being an introvert. And hanging with your dog is such a happy place! Seriously.

        I grew up in the 70s/80s and was (am?) that odd kid with motor tics, introversion, emotionally sensitive and sensory integration issues. My family mocked me for being “me” and for my introversion and shyness. I was made to feel there was something wrong with me. I like being an introvert and hanging at home with my dog (don’t have one right now sadly)! So more power to you. :)

        1. Introvert*

          I haven’t read it, I’ll check it out! I’ve never felt bad about being an introvert. I also would not consider myself shy. I have no problem talking to people. I’m sorry your family wasn’t supportive of who you are.

        2. Wired Wolf*

          I was that “odd” kid too. In my 20s I was diagnosed with Aspergers; I’m still not sure how accurate that is as my early history was complicated. It includes various misdiagnoses and related improper medication that probably screwed something up…an active imagination meant that I was either schizophrenic or delusional (and some of that nonsense was coming from professionals!).

          I do love hanging with animals more than people (I brought a salamander home the other day, rescued it from work). Can’t people just be introverted and not have it turn into some sort of crisis for everyone else…? One day the quiet ones are going to rule the world, we’re the ones that think and fix things.

          1. Bibliovore*

            I wasn’t ascribing positive or negative value when I wonder about labeling myself an introvert now. More about how to do things I used to do out in the world. I would much rather be home reading or playing with my dog than anything else. But I also remember a time when I looked forward to events like these and was hoping for practical advice. Which I got and I am grateful.

    8. bibliovore*

      whew. This is sounding and feeling doable.
      The event is from 4 to 8:30.
      There is a panel discussion by the artists at 4. It is a group show.
      I went today to see the art without a crowd. It was amazing. I will put a link to it in the next comment.
      I did mask. I have good ones.
      I want to stay for the panel and meet one of the artists that I admire.
      Good idea to have a leave early/dinner plan- I will be near the fish market and can pick up something tasty on the way home.
      I will ask a friend if she would like to join me and would be okay with leaving early.
      Thank you. I feel much better.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That looks wonderful. It’s half a continent away me, so I did second-best and suggested it to a friend in the area.

        2. Texan In Exile*

          That looks amazing!

          I see Louise Erdich is on the panel. We go to Madeline Island every summer. My friend in Memphis noticed my FB posts and asked, “Is that the same one as in Louise Erdich’s book?”

          Indeed it is. Her two boys love the book so I collected birch bark for them and bought them some porcupine quills from the Madeline Island Museum when Dana Trickey was doing a demonstration.

          It would be so cool to hear Erdich talk!

          (Also – we saw a panel at the MKE Art Museum with Wanda Nanibush and Rebecca Claymore. Find any podcast you can with either of them – they are both amazing.)

          1. bibliovore*

            Erdrich also has a bookstore here, The Birchbark and her book the Sentence perfectly describes the life of a front-line bookseller.

        3. Jay (no, the other one)*

          A friend of mine went to that exhibit and it sounds amazing. So glad you got to see it! Sounds like a lovely time.

          Anxiety about crowds is not pathological. It’s entirely appropriate to be cautious.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Oh, going to the panel sounds just about perfect! I was going to suggest earlier anyway, because I think most people will want to go later, and a panel means that you can be in a crowd without having to talk with others yourself. If you feel like leaving right at the end then do so, and if you have the enthusiasm to listen in on chats with others then you have the option.

        I’m so happy that you enjoyed yourself! You sound appropriately excited :)

        Keep in mind that introvert and extrovert isn’t a switch, but a scale that changes regularly for all of us. We don’t tend to swing between both ends, but it’s normal to feel differently over time. Although as alluded to by others I think it matters less that you were feeling a bit unsure before the event, and if you’re feeling better after going to the event and being in a social space then you’re not a complete introvert yet, ha!

      2. ThatGirl*

        So glad. I’m sure it will go great :)

        To add to the introvert/extrovert thing – I am right in the middle, I need a balance of alone and social time. But after covid + getting older, I don’t enjoy crowded places the way I might have in college. My social time is more geared to close friends, maybe a work happy hour, not a concert or a crowded bar.

    9. Polka Dot Raincoat*

      I have similar difficulty being around lots of people (sometimes any people at all), even though I used to be very extroverted. There are loads of us out here for a variety of reasons. I’m trying to slowly get used to people again, and bringing a trusted friend with me helps a lot, if I can. Also taking it slowly, like staying for just 10 minutes if I want to. As scary as it feels sometimes, I usually feel glad later that I went. And if I don’t that’s ok too — I’m just experimenting to see what works for the current version of me.

    10. BellaStella*

      Would you feel ok to mask up and go and if it is too overwhelming you could leave partway thru?

      I am also more introverted now, it has been a rough 4 years. I think many people had similar changes.

      Be kind to yourself and if you feel ok then great stay and be social and if not it is ok to excuse yourself. It may be fun or may be a tiny step toward other fun things later once you feel more sure.

    11. JSPA*

      1. Do you have an N95, and are you comfortable wearing it? Separating out the “no longer used to doing people” from the “assessment of risk” can make it easier. And if you want positive reinforcement to “going out and mixing,” then “not getting sick with any of the dozen things that are circulating” can help with that positive reinforcement.

      2. Have you been in other enclosed spaces, or have you been doing all of your shopping remotely / by pickup? If you’ve been in enclosed spaces, you won’t have to process “enclosed space I’m not used to being in” at the same time you’re handling “sensory overload of seeing my people again.” If not, you might want to see how you feel about “random in person shopping trip” before adding the higher emotional stakes of the opening.

      3. Can you agree to meet one friend there earlier than fashionable (unless there are sure to be crowds waiting to enter) or agree to meet outside, or ask the gallery about dropping off some business cards or informational leaflets for a good cause (if that’s something they’re willing to do)? Then you can stay for as long as it seems OK…but if that’s all of 30 seconds, you’ve nevertheless seen a friend / done a good deed / networked by leaving the cards or calling someone.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Introvert vs extrovert means are you drained by being around too many people vs do you get energy from other people. Has nothing to do with how social you are, it’s an energy budget. As for you not being social for a while, it’s normal to withdraw or seek out people depending on what’s going on. You’ve been in a withdrawn pattern for a while, it’s ok.

      Sign up for a regular activity that is fun that involves being around other people. Make a series of plans with friends, big or small just do something once a week. As for the art show, this is a bit of anxiety and the best way to handle (non-clinical level) anxiety is to do the scary thing. Go! Plan a quiet evening afterwards with some easy, yummy food to recover, you’ll be tired. And take your calendar with you so you can make specific plans to see people in the forthcoming weeks. Do not let the anxiety win, because that’s how you end up on a path to serious problems.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      I don’t think your personality has changed as much as you’ve been through a long, terrible time that would wear anyone down with sadness.

      I agree with all the advice about setting a limit, being okay with leaving early, meeting friends; anything that will make this tip towards “enjoyable, if rough” as opposed to “ordeal.” And I do think it’s important to go if you can–this sounds like something you would normally really like to do.

      And that might be something that’s making you hesitate–what if you have a good time? It can feel overwhelming to enjoy a social occasion after such a long slog and your loss, but if you do, you aren’t doing anything wrong, or betraying anyone. Your spouse would love for you to go out and take pleasure in this–remember that.

    14. Bibliovore*

      I did it!
      A neighbor who knew a lot of people who would be there came along in my car. Another friend met me there.
      There was a huge crowd and I was in an overflow area that was more comfortably spaced and airy than the main area.
      I wasn’t the only one in an N95. (when I go to the grocery store I am usually the only one. I do go on off hours)
      The program was really moving and instructive and I was grateful to be there.
      I did know a bunch of people who all were very surprised and happy to see me (a few I hadn’t seen since Mr. Bibliovore’s memorial service or before the lockdown Spring 2020.)
      I did meet the one artist that I wanted to say hello to.
      Then skedaddled.
      Home by 6:50 with a fresh baguette, a hunk of stilton and an apple.
      (I want a parade)

  8. Green Goose*

    Any six degrees of separation stories? Here is mine.

    I moved to Seoul in my mid twenties. It’s a mega city and 25 million people live in Seoul and the surrounding suburbs. I was an English teacher and my first Friday there a few of the other English teachers invited me to go out with them and some of their Korean friends. One of the Korean guys, Jae, asked me where I was from.
    Green Goose: I’m from [US state with large population]
    Jae: Oh really? My girlfriend Sue-Young lived there when she was younger with her family, maybe you knew her. What city are you from?
    Green Green: [Large well known city]
    Jae: That is where she lived!
    Green Goose: Well, I’m not actually from there, I’m from a small town right next to it, I just say [Large well known city] because most people have not heard of SmallerTown*
    Jae: (very excited) That’s where she lived! (He then pulls out his phone and calls his girl friend and speaks in Korean for a bit but I hear him say “SmallerTown*” and “Green Goose”. I’m thinking that he is a goofy guy who does not realize how big my state is and then all of a sudden he hands the phone to me and..)
    Sue-Young: Hi, is this Green Goose from 555 Main Street in SmallerTown?

    It turned out, in a city of 25 million people I met the boyfriend of a girl who had been an exchange student in my 4th grade class. She had kept the class roster as a keepsake and it had everyone’s names, numbers and addresses. I was floored. We ended up becoming friends while I lived there but it was such a six degrees of separation moment for sure.

    1. Maleficent2026*

      When I was in middle school, I went on a summer “choir tour” with my church. Lodgings were done by placing us kids with different “host families” at the churches we performed at. (Gen X kid in a conservative religion, mid 90s were a wild time.) My best friend and I were HUGE fans country music, and we were placed for a couple of nights with a couple who were probably in their 70s. They were so sweet and just thrilled to have 2 twelve year old girls to dote on for the weekend. Couple found out we were country music fans, and oh, that was so great, their granddaughter liked to sing some country songs, they have some pictures and videos, would we like to see them? Of course we did! They popped in a VHS tape and who comes on the screen? Freaking MARTINA MCBRIDE. We spent the entire weekend fangirling, listening to every single story and pouring over every single childhood picture or video they showed us. Best weekend ever.

      1. Maleficent2026*

        Not gonna lie, that was probably my biggest flex for the next several years. I was such a nerdy kid….

    2. Hazelfizz*

      Not a 6 degrees story exactly, but I met another expat in a “not far, but across the border and 2 big-cities away”. (fictional example: I’m from Evanston, Illinois and have moved to Toronto). We both said we were from Chicago, but not really. And then from Evanston, but not the fancy part. So, although we had not attended grade school together, our parents lived about a mile apart.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In 2005 I went on a trip from Seattle, where I lived, to Ireland with my then-bf and his parents. One of the things we went to see was this little tiny portal tomb, out on a hill in the middle of a cow field. Right as we walked up the hill, a mob of local school kids (age 10-12?) came flooding up the hill and a random pair of other tourists came up a path on the other side. So we basically resigned ourselves to waiting for the munchkins to be done; their teacher assured us they wouldn’t be there more than 20 minutes at the outside. Cool, no big deal.

      I was looking at a rock pile when my bf called me over to where he’d been chatting with the other tourists. Gal looks at me and says “are you (my Livejournal username)?” Turns out that she was friends with some people I knew in Michigan, from before I moved to Seattle in 2001, and recognized me from a couple of house parties (5 years before) and my LJ user icon. In a dinky little cow pasture in rural Ireland.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’m aphantasic, so I forgot what she looked like five minutes after leaving her company and wouldn’t ever recognize her again, which made the whole thing extra mind-blowing to me :P “You recognized me from having seen me once or twice five years ago and from a one-inch square full body picture? Seriously?” (We were not LJ friends directly, we just had a couple of mutuals.) I was FLOORED.

    4. ThatGirl*

      more like small world, but I started at my current job in Jan 2021 so I started remotely, but live very close to the office. While I was doing meet and greets with someone in another department he referenced also living near the office. Turns out he lives across the street from me.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Something similar just happened to me. Someone new at work, who I met for the first time this week, has friends they visit regularly who live exactly on my street.

    5. RW*

      Not quite as dramatic, being entirely within one country, but I had one last weekend! Was chatting to my best friend of 5 years, and since I’d recently been to my home town and walked past it, I asked her “oh by the way, did you ever know anyone from x church in my home town?” It’s the kind of church she grew up in, but not a city she’s ever lived near, so I wasn’t really expecting a yes.
      …. turns out the lovely family I cleaned for as a teenager are in fact her aunt and uncle!
      We met roughly ten years after this in a completely different city again

    6. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I once met a guy in a coffee shop in a city in Northern India and had a nice chat and then walked out and forgot him entirely (we were from two different countries and neither of us were living in India full time). Two full years later, I am in Delhi for research and go to an event at a think tank. I sit down and start writing stuff and don’t really notice as people come in – when the event begins, I glance at the guy who sat down beside me and can’t figure out why he seems so familiar. After, he turns to me and says he is having the same struggle…eventually we put the pieces together that we were in the same city two years before and met once. Yes, in a country of over a billion people I just happen to run into the same person twice, with a two year and 250 km gap in between. I still find it bizarre!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >Yes, in a country of over a billion people I just happen to run into the same person twice, with a two year and 250 km gap in between.
        Jaw, please meet Floor a second time.
        I’m hornswoggled! That is absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing this.

    7. Knighthope*

      My niece was working in Vietnam temporarily. She met someone who offered that two American friends could show her the sights. Turned out one was a long-ago classmate of mine from a small Pennsylvania college who recognized our surname.

    8. Bluebell*

      I’m not sure how this fits re degrees of separation, but it’s a fun story. I met Ellen by working on a professional committee in my 20s. Then in my 30s, I had adopted a daughter, and through another friend, I became acquainted with Rebecca who had internationally adopted. Our families saw each other occasionally, we passed on clothing to her daughter, but fell out of touch after 5 years or so. About 20 years later, I was having dinner with Ellen. She started telling me about her sister, who had an adopted daughter. I mentioned that I knew a woman who also had a daughter with that name, from that country. The penny dropped – they had the same last name, but they look pretty different!

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      My husband and kids are descended from Pocahontas. Sharing this detail at school my daughter discovered a friend was also descended from Pocahontas. Comparing family trees they’re something like seventh cousins once removed.

    10. Enough*

      My daughter had a friend she knew for a number of years who became friends with her brother when she moved to where he lived. Said brother dated a girl for awhile he meet there who graduated from a high school down the street from his who knew one of his closest friends but had never met before.

      1. Enough*

        And my next door neighbor was two years ahead of my son in high school and her mother went to school.with Carmen Finestra

    11. vulturestalker*

      I’m from Alpacasville, a suburb of Alpaca City, and I moved way across the country to Llama City for grad school a few years ago. Through a friend of a friend of a friend, I met “Jordan” and quickly learned they are from a different suburb of Alpaca City. Cool, but not that remarkable, it’s a pretty big city.

      But then we started talking and they said their sister lives back home and makes specialized alpaca shoes at a “small alpaca-shoe making factory.” My ears pricked up, because my mom works in the alpaca clothing industry and I know there aren’t very many alpaca shoe-making jobs in the region. “Do you remember where?” “Oh, Alpacasville, I think?”

      Reader, my mother is in fact the alpaca clothing supervisor at the Alpacasville alpaca shoe factory! She hired Jordan’s sister about a year ago.

      Cue a semi-awkward scramble to text our respective family members, and hurried promises not to say anything if one of them didn’t like the other. Luckily, it sounds like my mom thinks Jordan’s sister is delightful, and she in turn thinks my mom is “the best.”

    12. FanciestCat*

      I have a few, the first week I was in the UK to study abroad, I sat down at a table in an on campus pub that was really busy and a woman asked if she could sit with me. Turned out she was a grad student from my home university also studying abroad. Another time in college I was talking to another intern and an internship and it turned out she was dating the ex boyfriend of my best friend from middle school. College was on the opposite side of the state from my hometown. Finally, at a huge industry conference I was at, I was in an exhibit hall with about 20,000 people in it. I noticed the man sitting next to me was looking over at my laptop. Turns out from glancing over at my email he realized I worked for a neighboring city, and we actually emailed each other all the time and had for years while working together, we’d just forgotten what the other looked like because of the pandemic. We gathered up our colleagues and all got lunch together.

    13. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I grew up in a tiny, poor, rural town in the middle of nowhere that no one had ever heard of, even people who lived in the state. No stoplights, one grocery store, one gas station, a library the size of my living room, and the nearest movie theater and Walmart were an hour away in another county. When people asked where I was from, I would tell them involving a description of the distance and direction of the closest well-known city.

      As soon as I could, I left for college a thousand miles away. I was the only person at the college from my entire state. The next year, they got a second person from my state. She was from the closest town with the movie theater and her family ran a farm we sometimes got gourmet vegetables from.

      After a few years, I again moved a thousand miles away from where I grew up, but in a different direction. Another tiny rural town, same size as where I grew up, but with a Kmart and two stoplights. One day, I was chatting with the photo kiosk attendant in Kmart and she asked where I was from. I tell her and am about to give my usual description when she tells me she’s from EvenTinierTown that bordered my town (my town had incorporated it in the 1950s so that town’s kids could have somewhere to go to school).

      Another move a thousand miles in a different direction, to a large city. I pick up my mail at my post office (held while I was out of town) and the postal clerk sees a card from my mother. She asks and I tell her that’s where I’m from. Before I can describe it, she tells me she used to live there and I probably saw her at least once as one of the three cashiers at the grocery store (which explained why she seemed so familiar).

      Another move a thousand miles in a different direction, to an even larger city. I make some new friends in a crafting group. Eventually we talk about our families and where we’re from. Again, I’m about to describe where I’m from when one of them says she knows where it is because she recently moved away from there after living with her cousin for a few years. Her cousin is my high school nemesis.

      I think the moral of the story is everyone who leaves that town picks a direction and then stops once they reach a thousand miles, figuring that’s far enough.

      Now I live three hours away from said town for personal reasons but as soon as that is concluded here, I am going to pick somewhere another thousand miles away and see who else I meet.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        OMG, you aren’t from Burns, Oregon, are you? Because that description is too close for comfort.

        1. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

          No, not from there, though there’s a whole lot of towns that fit that description judging by the many road trips I’ve taken. My dad grew up in one almost identical, just in another state. Unlike where I grew up, his hometown now has a stoplight.

    14. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I grew up in the middle of nowhere and live in a different country, so when people ask where I’m from, there are some very specific geographical references I have to give so they have a chance of placing my hometown (kind of like “it’s near this major town”…which is really 2 hours away).

      At an old job, someone from my home country started a few years after me. I happened to overhear them explaining where they were from, and they were saying the exact same things I would have, so I had to ask.

      Turns out my ex-colleague is from the village my mother used to work in as a school teacher, and went to that school while she was working there, though my mum didn’t teach their class.

      1. rainyday*

        I’m from the UK but lived in Vancouver. My sister used to live in Barcelona. I visited her a few times and got to know her friend S who she shared an apartment with. S was French Canadian and eventually moved back to Montreal, my sister moved back to UK, I moved to Vancouver. My sister and I planned to meet up in Montreal for a vacation, and to stay with S. When I told my Canadian coworker in Vancouver about my trip, she reminded me she grew up in Montreal – turns out she knows S who used to date her husbands best friend, they all used to hang out together. Her husband and S were still Facebook friends, and I was able to show her my sister’s profile on S’s Facebook.

    15. Helvetica*

      I did my first year of schooling (at age 7) in one school and then transferred to another school. Same city, same country but did not stay friends with anyone from age 7.
      Cue to me being 19, having finished school and being on a final school trip with all my classmates in another country. We’re in a nightclub and a girl comes up to me and says – in my language – “are you Helvetica who went to School1?” Turns out, my entire first grade was also there for their final trip and they all recognised me because my face has been the same since I was born, basically. Became friends again with many of them.

    16. Anima*

      My husband and I found out just yesterday that we were at the same (rather small) music festival at the same concert. Neither of us lived in the city at the time. It was about 10 years before we got together and 5 years before we even met.
      It’s also quite funny that we were kinda neighbours, lived in the same small part of town with only one tram stop. I used to hang around him and his friends when going out at night via tram, because safety in numbers – we were all goth.
      We really met about 5 years later when I moved into his shared flat – and the rest is history. I guess this was really meant to be. :)

      1. Green Goose*

        My husband is from a different country than me, and it’s a country that my family visited when I was 19 (six years prior to meeting my husband). When we met I mentioned my visit to his home country and told him the places we stopped along the way, including a small town that had one night club that my sister and I went out to the three nights that we were there. It turns out it was the night club that he and his friends went to during that same summer. I scrutinized every photo from that trip, since we took a lot of bleary-eyed photos at that night club and sadly couldn’t find any of him in the background but kind of cool knowing that we very likely crossed paths one of those nights.

    17. Llama Llama*

      When I was 25ish, I met a guy who shared my birthday. Talked a little more we were born the same year. Talked more, we were born in the same hospital!

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        When I was in the hospital after having my daughter, one of the nurses offhandedly mentioned, “yeah, it’s all boys on this floor right now except for yours and one other little girl.” Three years later I got to chatting with someone at a church we were visiting. Their daughter was the same age. Oh, what month? Really, mine too! What day? OMG, what *hospital?* It was the family with the other girl! We stayed casual friends with them for several years. Very nice people.

    18. The Prettiest Curse*

      When I was living in the Bay Area, I had a job where the only other British person in our (small-ish) office was from my dad’s home town and supported the same football team that I do!

    19. lissajous*

      Oh, I have two truly spectacular ones. Any people names mentioned are entirely fabricated.

      Many years ago, I was on holiday in Scotland, waiting for the ferry at John O’Groats to the Orkneys. The girl I was standing next to kindly held an umbrella to shield my camera lens from the rain (see: Scotland), turns out she was a Kiwi (I’m Aussie), we got along and chatted for the ferry and bus ride, and went our separate ways once in Kirkwall.
      Bumped into her again a couple of days later at Skara Brae and again chatted a bit, got some extra local details from the family she was staying with. Again all lovely, and again we went our separate ways.
      A few years later I was on holiday local to where I live, tasting wines at a winery as one does in that region, and a group came in.
      After a while a girl in the group looked at me and went “I swear I recognise you, but I don’t know where from…” We went through the likely suspects – school, uni, work, none were it. Somewhat further along the tasting list, the penny dropped for me: “Waaaaait… were you at John O’Groats two years ago? And held the umbrella while I took photos? And then Skara Brae?”
      Reader, it was was indeed that person.
      I caught up with the group that night and we had a fabulous evening featuring fire and marshmallows. Alas I then lost contact with them despite our best efforts: I entered my details in her phone, but I did not yet know how to use a smart phone and I don’t think the details saved. I always regretted that, they were an awesome group and I would have liked to get to know them better. I can only hope the universal forces will once again put us in the same place at the same time.

      The second was some years later, and this time I was on holiday in Switzerland. It was a family holiday for Christmas, and because of how the world works around my mother we got to tour a pipe organ factory in Lucerne. (My mother had called an old friend for a chat, the old friend said “Switzerland? Oh! My daughter’s school friend married a Swiss guy who makes church organs and they live there now, let me find you the contact details!” For clarity, said daughter would have been out of school for 20 years at least by this stage.)
      Tour was fascinating, we had a lovely day, and everyone went their separate ways in the evening.
      A week or so later I was on the train to go skiing (see: Switzerland). Across from me were and older gentleman and a younger woman, and they were speaking in English. The younger woman was clearly on holiday and asking about a region I’d been to recently, so I joined in the conversation, assured her it was spectacular (see: Switzerland), and they and I got to chatting.
      The older gentleman had been to Japan on a work trip some years ago, and made a friend in his time there. Some time later his son had gone to Japan for a holiday and his friend had shown his son around. And now his friend’s daughter was on holiday in Japan and he was delighted to be able to return the favour and show around.
      So naturally I enquired about his work.
      “Why”, he said, “I am retired now, but I was an organ maker!”
      “Huh,” I said. “Funnily enough I was shown around an organ factory in Lucerne last week…”
      “Oh? Who showed you around?”
      “Hans Georg.”
      “Ha! He was my apprentice! I taught him everything he knows!”

    20. Madre del becchino*

      Husband, two young children, and I were driving home to upstate NY from Florida. We stop at a hotel in South Carolina (just randomly — this was in the early 2000s, before smartphones). The woman at the front desk looks at the name of the small town we are from, asks a few more questions — turns out she was the MIL of one of my husband’s high school classmates (he had a class of 25) and promptly calls her DIL so she and my husband could chat — he hadn’t been in contact with her since they had graduated 15+ years before.

    21. Wordnerd*

      I was a student at a large midwestern state school in 2008, and got a job as a summer welcome peer mentor. One of my bosses was an academic advisor named Lacey. She was a great boss and I worked for her the next summer too.
      Fast forward to 2016, I am starting a new job at a university three midwestern states away, and my boss is walking me around campus on my first day introducing me to people in different offices, and there’s Lacey! She didn’t remember me, but I remembered enough details about her to confirm to her that I did work for her. Turns out her family is from the area where we both worked, but her husband’s family was from where I went to college in 2008.
      THEN. In 2022, my husband and I are buying our first house, and I tell Lacey what small town near the university it’s in. “Oh I grew up in that town!” she says. “Where is it?” Turns out it’s her grandmother’s old house.
      She moved back to where I went to college to work there again, but we stay in touch. We figure we should because we’re clearly cosmically linked.

    22. Rara Avis*

      While traveling with students in Italy, we had a British tour guide with a boyfriend from Sicily. I mentioned that my hometown in Connecticut had a large Sicilian population from one specific town. Turns out her boyfriend was from that town and had spent a year or two in my hometown with relatives! I even recognized the last name, although the CT pronunciation had shifted somewhat from the Sicilian.

    23. Rara Avis*

      Another: my sister-in-law has a family name . They have a family quilt that traces it through the generations. Her mother pulls it out to show my mother and ask her to add sIL’s name, since her mother doesn’t do fabric crafts. My mother starts reading up the generations … and finds names she recognizes. Turns out my brother married his 13th cousin. So my kid’s 1st cousins are also their 14th cousins.

      Also, our families come from opposite coasts of the USA. But in 1966 my brother’s in-laws moved out of a house two houses down from the one my mother moved into for grad school, about a month before. Discovered by looking through old pictures. So my brother and SIL were fated to find each other, I guess. (They met more than 30 years later.)

    24. California Dreamin'*

      We live on a very friendly block where a lot of the neighbors know each other and we have an annual block party where we close off the street to cars and have a big potluck. The first year we were here (gosh, 19 years ago now!), we were out in the middle of the street at our first block party meeting a bunch of the neighbors. When we met the guy from the house two doors down from us, he said hey, did you happen to just move from [specific residential street] across town? Why yes, we did. Turns out he and his wife had been the sellers we had bought our first house from six years prior to that. So essentially, we bought his house, they moved up to this new neighborhood, and then six years later we moved into the house two houses down from him. We live in a city of 150,000+ that’s part of a major metropolis, so the odds of this are very low. He recognized us because we’d met briefly at the walkthrough at the old house when he was selling to us. We think this is a hilarious story, and I frequently rope him into telling it when there’s a new neighbor we’re meeting at that year’s party. Now that I mention that, though, I’m realizing he’s probably getting sick of me bringing it up and I should probably give it a rest!

    25. fposte*

      When I first became friends with a colleague a couple of decades younger than I was, we eventually discovered we were both adopted, so we’d talk about that sometimes. She knew her birth parents; I didn’t know mine. It then randomly came up that the very large high school I went to hundreds of miles away was the same high school her birth mother attended. I then realized that I had actually had a class with her birth mother and in fact remembered a very specific detail about her that confirmed I absolutely had the right person.

    26. Rara Avis*

      It turns out I have a lot of these. My college had a January term. An older retired alumnus was put up in my dorm while teaching a course one year. He would eat in the dining hall with us. Making conversation one night, I noted that his last name was my great great great grandfather’s middle name. Well, he was the keeper of the family genealogy, and was able to determine that we were third cousins twice removed.

      10 or 15 years later, we were in the middle of nowhere (Loon Sanctuary, Moultonboro NH — great place!) when the only other person in the visitors’ center asked my dad about the college sticker on his car in the parking lot, because he had gone to said college. Dad explains that his kid went there and calls me over to introduce me — and it’s my third cousin twice removed! We also found out that he played in the community orchestra with a very old family friend in his home in VA.

    27. Zephy*

      I met my husband’s family a year before I met him.

      My college had a volunteer group that would help students move into their dorm rooms at the beginning of the fall semester every year. I joined the group my sophomore year and was assigned to one of the women’s dorms. It was first-come, first-served – whoever was nearby and empty-handed when something needed carried inside would just grab the next thing and follow the owner to their room. I happened to start helping a family move their music-major daughter into a room on the third floor of a building with just about the world’s smallest and sketchiest elevator, so I carried everything I took up the stairs. She had so much stuff that I spent almost my entire shift just helping her (and her roommate, when she showed up with her family, seeing as we were all headed to the same place anyhow).

      Fast forward about a year. I was now a junior, had made friends with some underclassmen and there was this cute blond guy that would always be hanging around with one of them. We started talking, which turned into dating. At some point he mentioned he had a younger sister that was also attending the same college, but (1) he had finally gotten a taste of what it’s like to not be “X’s brother” to everyone, so he was disinclined to try to hang out with little sis, and (2) she was a music major so she didn’t have time to socialize even if she wanted to, anyway. His parents would come up every so often to visit and they would take him out to dinner, and eventually as the girlfriend the invitation was extended to me as well.

      It took about three years for any of us to figure out where we knew each other from. His parents thought maybe they’d met me at a church camp, or something. I’m awful with names as it is, but I definitely didn’t make an effort to remember their names when I helped them move their daughter into her dorm, figuring I’d probably never see any of these people again. The daughter never came out to dinner with us when her parents visited, so it wasn’t until after she graduated that we were all in the same place at the same time again and it finally clicked.

    28. Bluebell*

      I remembered a good within the US story- I lived in the Midwest through elementary school, then our family moved, and I moved to Northeast as an adult. In my 30s, was on a vacation at a Maine amusement park. We ended up chatting w a family in line and kept hanging out as our two only kids were doing the littles rides together. Turns out she grew up in the same town and went to the jr high I would have gone to if I had stayed in town. Our last names were so close she was seated behind the boy I had sat behind in 6 th grade, plus that boy lived on my street.
      Another quick story-when I was in my 20s I was talking to a distant cousin about my job at a campus organization. She told me that I had a cousin who participated in activities there. When she told me his name, it turned out I had met him and his wife at a dinner and really liked them. We spent time together over the years, and our daughters’ birthdays were 2 days apart. Sadly, he passed away in an accident this year.

    29. Texan In Exile*

      I kept getting connection requests on LinkedIn from these three women I didn’t know and had no mutual connections with, so I ignored them.

      Finally, one of them sent me a private message. Was I the daughter of Carl and Jean?

      The writer explained that she was Carl and Jean’s goddaughter and also the daughter of Bob S.

      Bob S was Carl’s best friend from the Coast Guard and then college, where they both went on the GI Bill, and was the best man at my parents’ wedding. He died in a ship’s fire in 1972.

      Bob was one of the people we talked about in my dad’s going-away party when my dad was dying (in 1997). We talked about all the people my dad would see again in heaven and Bob was at the top of the list. My dad never stopped missing his best friend and talked about him all the time.

      The writer, Caroline, and her sisters had been going through their mom’s letters after her recent death and had found the letter my dad sent after Bob had died. Their mom and my parents had lost track of each other but Caroline found me by googling my dad, finding his obituary, and then googling me.

      Why yes I was that daughter, I told her. I emailed my mom and asked if I could give her phone number to Caroline. And then I got Caroline’s phone number – and it was the same area code as my mom.

      They live five miles from each other.

      (AND Bob S’s death was actually murder and was the basis for the TV show NCIS.)

      (And yes we have all gotten together in person since then. Caroline is wonderful.)

        1. Texan In Exile*

          He was an investigator for the military. He and my dad met in the Coast Guard before they went to college, then both went to college (they went to the same school), and then they both joined the military as officers after college.

          He was investigating something – I don’t have the details – but apparently, someone set the fire on the ship and he and two sailors were killed.

          I don’t know if they ever found the murderer. Caroline and her sisters were only little girls at the time. One of the sisters, who is in the navy, is now a technical consultant to the show.

    30. Elle Woods*

      Six years ago we were on a family trip to Florida. Being the Midwesterner that I am, I struck up a conversation with the couple behind me in the security line to get in at EPCOT. The husband had recently retired from Anheuser Busch in St. Louis. I mentioned that a friend of mine worked there. Not only did he know who she was–he had been her manager!

    31. anon for this*

      A work project took me to a town in a rural area I’d never been anywhere near. I signed up to do an activity with a guy I’d never met there, and walked into the restaurant to find that he had a hand-drawn family tree on the table. I have an unusual surname; it had caught his notice, and he’d correctly identified my link to extended family members he’d heard of. Readers, this man turned out to be my father’s brother’s wife’s nephew’s girlfriend’s father. There are four changes of surname across this chain. I was flabbergasted. Still am.

      (It was almost like that moment in Spaceballs: “I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.”)

    32. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Two of mine, one of my MILs

      I grew up in a small town outside of Very Big City. Dad was a cardiologist and attending at my med school so I spent my life as Dr. Lastname’s daughter. Moved 3,000 miles away to Other Coast for residency. One day I was hanging around the CCU and mentioned I was headed to Home State for vacation the next day. One of the EKG techs says “oh, you’re from Home State! Where?” My standard answer was “outside Very Big City” since no one there understood the geography. She said “Where outside?” I said “Home County.” She said “Where??” and I said “Hometown.” She looked at me and said “Are you Jim Lastname’s daughter?” Turned out she trained with my dad.

      Then we moved here (a third state) and I met the chief of neurology who was also from my small hometown and who, it turned out, was our paper boy when we were kids.

      But my MIL….en route to an international trip years ago they had a layover in Atlanta. She was working on a quilt top for her next grandchild. The woman sitting next to her starts chatting about quilting. They discover that Neighbor woman is from the same town my SIL lived in (far from MIL and not near Atlanta) and in fact was a member of SIL’s quilt guild. So MIL finished the top and sent it to Neighbor woman and the quilt guild did the quilting for a joint baby present.

    33. KeinName*

      I did a study abroad in NZ. Halfway through I got to meet one of the girls from next door. She comes from a village 15 min drive from where I come from (30h air journey from NZ). She also studied in the same city in our home country (which is nowhere near where we grew up). Ten years later I moved apartments and my new neighbours were this girls brother-in-law and his wife. VERY strange. And they were really nice (and also come from the area where we grew up and weirdly ended up in the same student town).

    34. Shutterdoula*

      In college, moved into a new townhouse with 5 other people, and was sharing a room with someone I didn’t know.
      She introduced herself to me and said she was off to wedding for someone in her boyfriend’s extended family, and we could get to know each other tomorrow.
      Came home from the wedding and told me that boyfriend’s cousin had married the sister of her friend D! She couldn’t believe the coincidence!
      Eventually, she and I got to be good friends. She introduced me to that friend D, he and I started dating, and eventually married. Roommate married the boyfriend. And that’s how I ended up becoming sorta-kinda-not-really-related to my college roommate, because my SIL is married to roommate’s husband’s cousin.
      (And if I had known then what I know know, maybe I should have crashed that wedding! The only one of my husband’s siblings that I wasn’t at their wedding!)

    35. It's a small world, but Target is a big store*

      I live in a town of 40,000 people in the northwest suburbs of Illinois. In 2013, my sister had to attend a work conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I joined her so that we could also make it a mini-vacation. One of the places we went to explore was Castille San Felipe del Morro, which is a historical fort in Old San Juan.
      Shortly after we got to the fort, it was bombarded by about a thousand tourists from a Carnival cruise ship. Clearly, a trip to the fort was one of the on-board excursions offered.
      As we realized that we had picked the wrong day to visit this particular place, a couple approached us from the ship and asked if we could take their picture, and they offered to take ours.
      We of course agreed, and in the course of taking the pictures, we discovered that the couple not only lived in my town, but they lived two streets over from me. Jokes were made about “what a small world it is” and “we will probably see each other in Target next week”. But I never saw them again. However, the picture they took of me and my sister is one of the best pictures of us, and is still on the side of my refrigerator.

    36. What Is Sleep Even?*

      Unusual last names are pretty helpful for these weird coincidences. I got on real-name terms with a group of internet friends from around the contintent. One of them – a thousand miles away – met and married someone who grew up in my state. It’s a big state; he lived hundreds of miles away and I’d never met him. But I did go to high school with his first cousin.

    37. Amy Gardner*

      I was working for an affiliate of a national organization and the national org had a meeting of everyone doing a similar job to mine in the city where I worked. I was the only one in my role at the affiliate, so everyone else was from out of town. It was about 150 people. I sit down at lunch next to someone from Minnesota and we start talking about where we’re from, etc. I tell her I work for the affiliate in town but that I’m originally from Georgia. She’s from Minnesota, but says she did some national program with some kids from Georgia and asks where I’m from. When I tell her she says “I only know one person from there, [Rare Nickname Rare Last Name]. The person she knew was my next door neighbor growing up.

    38. Chauncy Gardener*

      A year or so after college (a long time ago!) I was in downtown Tokyo. I don’t know if it’s like this now, but then there was a one way street then a big space under the highway and then a street going in the other direction, so quite a distance. I was on the sidewalk on one side and I look across and I see this tall blond guy I went to college with. I am also blond so the two of us stuck out like sore thumbs there!

    39. Luisa in Dallas*

      When I was 12, my family moved from a tiny town in central New Jersey, to the huge city of Houston, Texas. My new neighborhood school had two 6th grade classes. When I was introduced to my new class on my first day, a student pointed out that Bonnie in the other class was also from New Jersey, so maybe I knew her? Even at 12, I knew that was a ridiculous assumption, but I refrained from saying so and was duly introduced to Bonnie. Me: “Hi, Bonnie. I’m from Metuchen. You’ve probably never heard of it.” Bonnie: “I do know Metuchen. I’m from Summit.” [These little towns are only about 20 miles apart.] Me: “Really? My aunt lives there. Her name is Dorothy Minton.” Bonnie: “I know Mrs. Minton! She was my kindergarten teacher!” This was many, many years ago, but I have never forgotten my astonishment at this coincidence.

    40. Sara*

      About 4 years out of college, I was living in NYC with a couple of women who had taken over bedrooms from my previous roommates, so not women I knew super well. One of them had her best friend from her nannying days on the West coast come to visit – she turned out to be the freshman year college roommate of my high school best friend.

  9. Teapot Translator*

    Inspired by Sunflower’s question, do you know of any recipe website that caters to single people? As in, two-serving recipes? Yes, I know I could half a lot of recipes, but I know I won’t and most of the time a four-serving recipes make five or six servings.

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

      Ooh, I’d like that too! I know people make fun of this book, but whenever I hear of *Microwave Cooking for One*, I’m like, maybe I should look into that?

    2. Maleficent2026*

      Someone in the replies to that question mentioned America’s Test Kitchen has a Cooking for One cookbook.

    3. MeetMoot*

      BakingMischief and DessertForTwo both have recipes for 1-2 people/serves and have websites that I’ve used for inspo.

    4. MissB*

      I’m a fan of Budgetbytes, and their website’s recipes have the ability to scale it down, so it makes it absolutely mindless when making for 2.

    5. Double A*

      Something that has absolutely been worth buying for me is the Paprika app; I use it to save recipes and keep my grocery list. It lets you scale any recipe up or down. Just an idea so you’re not limited by the types of websites you’re searching.

    6. Snax*

      There’s a cookbook titled One Pan, Two Plates that is exactly what it sounds like…one pan recipes that make two servings.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Not a web site, but I found this little cookbook from 1930 interesting:

      French Cooking in Ten Minutes: Adapting to the Rhythm of Modern Life by Edouard de Pomiane

      It posits someone living in an apartment in Paris, with very little food-storage space, but with access to local shops. The recipes are mainly simple ones, but tasty – a quick pan-seared chop and a small salad, that kind of thing. Some of the ideas for quick meal-prep and cleanup felt quite modern.

    8. CanadianCatLady*

      One of my favourite recipe books when I first lived alone (this is in the pre-online days!) was by English food writer Delia Smith – “One is Fun”. If you check her site at DeliaOnline.com and go to the books section under recipes (you have to click on “view more”) you’ll find most of the One Is Fun recipes there. Yum!

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

      Finally got my oil changed! : ) Still need to make an appt. for some more service, but that was hanging over my head.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I finally ordered new lamps for the bedroom and living room–they’re smaller than I thought but have this neat swivel arm so you can move the light closer, and really nice, warm light (so far; once these light bulbs burn out I hope to get the same brand again.)

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I’m in the hunt for lamps for the living room that will work as task lamps close to where I read, write, knit. Can you drop a link or name the brand/model?

        1. What the what*

          I use a Daylight task floor lamp in my sewing room for extra light at my sewing machine. It’s a bright white light though. (I have to limit in the evenings.) The long “neck” is flexible so you can angle it to your liking. I got a great deal on it at an estate sale.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Sorry about the giant link–they’re on Amazon and called Rustic Traditional Adjustable Swing Lamps.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Here they are!

          https://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Adjustable-Vintage-Nightstand-Included/dp/B0CLG4DK2W/ref=sxin_14_pa_sp_search_thematic_sspa?content-id=amzn1.sym.92181fe7-c843-4c1b-b489-84c087a93895%3Aamzn1.sym.92181fe7-c843-4c1b-b489-84c087a93895&crid=279V4EOFPIQ1U&cv_ct_cx=table%2Blamps%2Bfor%2Bbedroom%2Bset%2Bof%2B2&keywords=table%2Blamps%2Bfor%2Bbedroom%2Bset%2Bof%2B2&pd_rd_i=B0CLG4DK2W&pd_rd_r=a0e61f0c-f2a7-4ca2-9eb4-1194ca4734b2&pd_rd_w=aJRMN&pd_rd_wg=YBFtN&pf_rd_p=92181fe7-c843-4c1b-b489-84c087a93895&pf_rd_r=W8207G4N0JBQBP6JE35A&qid=1706991425&sbo=RZvfv%2F%2FHxDF%2BO5021pAnSA%3D%3D&sprefix=table%2Blamps%2Bfor%2Bbedroomse%3D%3D%2Caps%2C153&sr=1-4-364cf978-ce2a-480a-9bb0-bdb96faa0f61-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9zZWFyY2hfdGhlbWF0aWM&th=1

    3. RLC*

      The robins have returned to my garden! Half a dozen at the heated birdbaths today. Heavy snow forecast this weekend = perhaps we’ll have a replay of last winter’s “robins having hot tub party in the snow” event. Last year’s “robin hot tub party” peaked at 13 revelers splashing about in one very crowded birdbath.

      1. Past Lurker*

        I saw a flock of about 20 robins a few days ago, it felt as if Spring was in the air! It’s gotten cold again though.

      2. Freya's Cats*

        I was confused for a bit, until I remembered American Robins are not the same bird as European ones, lol.
        (European Robins are solitary and very VERY territorial. So much rage in so small a bird. There is no such thing as a flock of European Robins, they would finish each other off)
        But that sounds wonderful. I love watching birds on my balcony feeding and bathing.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I was also so confused about the reference to plural robins! Our solo British robin has not been seen since my partner trimmed all the branches off an overgrown tree, and Robin was ecstatic hopping about his feet and the branches enjoying the bug buffet before his holiday abroad. Wow do American robins look different, so very colourful and am I right in thinking they are fairly big?

          1. Llama face!*

            Yeah, North American robins are bigger than European robins. Probably close to twice the size? They are also somewhat territorial (especially when nesting, as my mom found out when they decided her backyard was now their baby raising area and dive-bombed her every time she dared to step foot in it). Most often here in Canada you usually just see a family grouping, not a flock.

        2. What the what*

          I love how you described the European robins! Nesting mockingbirds are quite scary. There’s always one who nests in a tall bush near my work parking lot. It will dive bomb you and come straight at your face. Ha the flapping dance of avoidance we do has to be pretty entertaining for people driving by!

          1. Freya's cats*

            Oh, European Robins are not aggressive to humans. They are so tiny that that would just be adorable, but they are pretty audacious birds. If you are walking and a brown-red bird the size of a ping-pong ball stubbornly stays right in your path and stares you down, it is 100% a robin.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          I walked by three American robins having a yell-off last spring–I actually stopped and said “quit that!” and they all looked at me!

      3. Seashell*

        I saw robins a couple of weeks ago. They usually don’t show up until much later as a sign of spring, so I guess our mild winter and/or climate change has messed with their migratory patterns.

      4. What the what*

        I think it’s robin time here, too. We live farther south than I prefer and I don’t get to see the same bird action here. So it’s always a joy to see the robins around our koi pond. They remind me of “home” back north.

        Have you ever seen a painted bunting? We get (rare) sightings of one at our feeders. We see a lot of indigo buntings at our feeders at certain times of year, too.

    4. Jay*

      So, as part of my job I order supplies for specific projects.
      I ordered a bunch of stuff recently and two of the orders (one from A****n and one from e***) were not what I had ordered (think fuzzy slippers instead of llama grooming brushes). I then prepared myself to do battle with the sinister forces of Customer Service and their hoards of unholy minions. I assumed that my week was shot, I was going to be spending literally DAYS on hold trying to get this straitened out, and they would insist on only returning my calls at times I specifically noted that I was unavailable. The same thing my cable company (it’s the worst one, begins with a “C” and ends with a “T”) has been doing to me for about two weeks now.
      Well, it didn’t work out like that.
      Everyone was actually perfectly nice!
      I got apologies and full refunds, they paid to have the unwanted items shipped back, the works!
      I hadn’t realized how low my standards for service had fallen until I was literally floored by basic competence and human decency.
      I left a LOT of 5 Star reviews.

    5. Kate*

      My neighbour who is an avid gardener has started putting out her annual Seed Swap Tupperware every morning.

      It makes me so happy!

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I’m intrigued! Is this a curbside or porch honor system thing where you take a bit and leave a bit? I love arrangements like that.

        1. Kate*

          She has a little table on her porch, and a long, low Tupperware full of seeds that she puts put every morning. It’s SO organized! It’s sorted by veggie or flower, and every envelope has the details written on in her spirally handwriting.

          People drop by on the honour system — I walked the dog over the other day and traded in some cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and carrot seeds for some new tomato varieties.

    6. AGD*

      One of the local supermarkets sometimes brings in piles of unsold stock from a big upscale department store. I picked up a nice table lamp for $7, which will facilitate the crafting!

    7. Snell*

      I finally caved and got a cast iron dutch oven with bread-baking in mind, because my bakes were languishing in my pathetic oven. I made the most beautiful loaf of sourdough I have ever made. This is not to say that it was extraordinarily good sourdough, but that it was an unspeakably great improvement on my previous sourdoughs. My last serious attempt’s taste and texture were perfectly acceptable, it’s just that the outside bore an unattractive resemblance to an egg, in smoothness and pasty (lack of) color.

      This time, I got the color, the crusty crust, the sour taste, the chewiness. I improved drastically on all of these axes. I even stopped to listen to the crust crackle as it cooled and the loaf/crust contracted.

      1. Snell*

        *the bread ears were maybe too dramatic, but that’s something I can practice. Still, I actually got ears this time! Not a bad effort given my inexperience and perilously sharp paring knife.

    8. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I was gifted free salvage plexiglass the other day, which is great because I can finally finish building my greenhouse that’s been languishing for a year. Plexiglass is expensive and clear sheet plastic does not hold up on windy days.

    9. BellaStella*

      Starting an evening language class and also being able to sleep in a couple of days until 7:30am.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband and I have friends who are married to each other, and we rarely get to “get the whole gang together” because they have a bunch of kids and we have dogs (that don’t much like kids) and we all live an hour and change apart from each other, but today my husband is going up to their place to hang with the other husband (and some other folks, they have a TTRPG they’re running today), and the wife is coming here to hang out with me and we will do crafty things, and it will be fun. :)

    11. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Our foster cats started sleeping on our laps, and in general, seeking out our company. Three weeks ago, they were hiding under the sofa bed and doing everything in their power to prevent us from touching them, and now this. It feels wonderful.

    12. always reading*

      The bad part is that somehow I drove over a razor blade, but the great part is it stuck in the tread instead of ruining the whole tire!

    13. Llama face!*

      More of a big joy but a longtime friend of mine just got her citizenship in the country where we both live (I was born here and she came here as an adult for work). I was the person she thought of immediately to invite to the ceremony. It was really special to be a part of that big moment in her life!

    14. BikeWalkBarb*

      Love this question! In my journal I track “Today’s Delights” thanks to reading Ross Gay’s A Book of Delights. A delight is anything I pause and really notice that gives me a little hit of joy. Some of this week’s:

      – Actual warmth of sunshine on a walk
      – Blooming hellebores spotted on that walk; I thought they were crocuses but a colleague named them correctly for me
      – Getting out and walking. I’ve been sidelined with a sprained knee for 3 weeks and can finally walk at least some distance with only mild discomfort (and a knee brace)
      – Walking to the food truck corner with my husband and getting a new-to-me Latin American street food dish: patacones (fried green plantains) as the base, black beans, red cabbage, avocado, some kind of sauce
      – Husband going back to the food truck the next day and bringing me churros with nutella and coconut flan as a surprise. Churros are gone, flan awaits.

    15. fposte*

      Went to a comedy show with a friend, and it was great! Dara O Briain at a wonderful small venue that made it a real shared experience.

    16. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Getting my hair cut and colored! I need it today. This week has been hectic at work, and I need something just for me!

    17. Elizabeth West*

      At the Place-We-Do-Not-Name-on-Weekends, a work friend and I went to a nearby restaurant that was new to me and brought our lunch back. We didn’t eat together because meetings but it was nice to have someone to walk with. (The fancy chicken salad sammie was very tasty.)

    18. Elle Woods*

      We’ve had unusually warm temps here in the Twin Cities this week. In fact, temps reached 55F here this week (a full 30F warmer than normal). Instead of hitting the gym, I worked out outdoors. It was glorious.

    19. Might Be Spam*

      Groundhog Day was the seventh anniversary of my divorce. Like the movie, it was a fresh start and it’s a good time to reflect on the positive changes in my life.

    20. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Some stuff I just bought.

      Bought a heart box of sugar-free chocolate to give to my new SO on V-day! This is so hard to find.

      Also, got a nice toy hockey set for my nephew’s 3rd birthday! His dad says he in a hockey phase right now, so can’t wait to give it to him!

      As for the non-materialistic stuff, had some good stuff at work — fixed an issue that I’d been fighting with for several weeks; and of course spending time with the SO!

    21. But Not the Armadillo*

      My two young cats seem to be coming back around to being close buddies. They are littermates and were inseparable as kittens but seemed to grow apart a bit as one-year-olds. Now they have turned two, and in the past few weeks I have noticed them playing together with the same toy, grooming each other and napping close together again. It is wonderful.

    22. Girasol*

      February 2: St Bridget’s Day, Brigid’s Day, Candlemas, my favorite holiday. After January’s gray doldrums it was a warm reminder that spring is coming. I trimmed the currants and brought in a fistful of budded branches to force on the kitchen windowsill. Last year the trimmings leafed out wonderfully indoors.

    23. carcinization*

      My husband and I went back to trivia night (this one is held weekly at a local pizza restaurant we really like) for the first time in several months… the last time we went it had gone badly as there were way too may teams and we were very low in the rankings by the end. This time there were a reasonable amount of teams and we got 4th place after some very large teams, so not bad for just the two of us. And the pizza is still the best as well!

  10. Dear liza dear liza*

    Author Connie Willis came up in a recent thread. I have loved her books, particularly the Oxford books and reread them regularly until… (and forgive me if I ruin this for any fans)
    *Spoilers galore ahead*
    I noticed how the time traveling characters have zero, zilch, nada relationships in their own times! Here we have Kivrin stuck in the Middle Ages and her one concern is Mr. Dunworthy will be worried. She thinks she might die of the plague and she never misses her mother or sister or anyone but her advisor, Mike, Polly, Eileen- they have no boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, parents, friends- apparently NO ONE (except Colin) will even notice their absence. These historians have no personal histories.

    Does Oxford only allow orphans who take some kind of monastic vow cutting off every outside connection?? I’m open to other fan-created reasoning,

    1. Forensic13*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s WHY people are so obsessed with history or time traveling in general. I don’t care how safe it starts to seem during the later books; I wouldn’t go as a parent, etc.

      I mean, there’s going to dangerous places in modern times and then going to the Blitz, which is another common destination in her books.

    2. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Maybe it’s like how spies in various novels, movies, and shows rarely have family or connections because the constant traveling and disappearing for weeks at a time can be a problem for family connections. I don’t remember if the books had them returning close to the same time they left or if the time they were gone was in real time to present era. If the latter, that could be rough. I know my dad would go into guilt-trip mode if I didn’t call him once a week, even if I explained they don’t have cell phones in the Medieval era.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        They can go real time or lapsed time, which means they can be “gone” for fifteen years and come back five minutes after they left if necessary. This isn’t recommended, of course, since they would keep aging and then come back to friends and family who remember them as they were. Colin wants to do this so he can age up to an appropriate number to get his crush to take him seriously; it is universally vetoed, of course.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, I assume she does this to focus on the relationships between the time travelling characters, but I always find this strategy a bit annoying whenever I come across it.

      I read her books Blackout and All Clear a while back and found them pretty entertaining, but some of the dialogue she gave the 1940s British characters really made me wince (or laugh) because it had so many modern-day Americanisms. (This also took me out of the story somewhat whenever it happened.) I suppose she’s a big enough name that she doesn’t get edited that much, but I wish she’d had a British historian go through all the dialogue with a big red pen.

    4. Pam Adams*

      I like the monastery connection. In the story that started it all, Fire Watch, they SPOILER

      purposely sent the protagonist to a different time and location as a test.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      In To Say Nothing of the Dog, two time travelers get together (any more would be spoilers…) but yes, it’s a pretty insulated group, given the wonkiness that kind of life would entail.

      1. Dear liza dear liza*

        Yes, that’s the one that I can re-read without much fuss. It’s so light-hearted, no one’s trapped in the past.

  11. Ginger Cat Lady*

    Husband learned today that one of his 30-something coworkers had never seen or even heard of the Groundhog Day movie! The guy asked why everyone joked about groundhog day when things seemed to be repeating.
    Which made me think: What other movies from the last 20-ish years have had a cultural impact that people reference regularly, that wouldn’t make sense to someone who never saw the movie?

    1. MeetMoot*

      Originally a book but I think a lot of people reference the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (eg meaning of life is 42) and many of the references may be really confusing without context.

        1. Freya's Cats*

          Such a good but totally bonkers movie. I would recommend it, but it’s probably not for everyone, so hard to say if any given person would enjoy it.

        2. Zona the Great*

          Perhaps one of the greatest pieces of cinema of all time. And that’s not just, like, my opinion man.

        3. sulky-anne*

          It’s probably worth watching just for the sake of cultural references making sense. Practically every line from that movie is quotable.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      About 20 years ago, a coworker and I told a younger coworker (by about 10 years) that we were just gaslighting her after a minor joke/prank. We were both movie buffs who had watched a ton of old movies and had to explain the term (which I had learned from the hosted intro to the film on AMC back in the 80s).

      Imagine my surprise when the movie reference came full circle.

    3. Jay*

      I absolutely LOVE watching “First Time Reaction” videos to classic movies, so I actually see this very thing happen all the time.
      The biggest ones seem to be:
      -Monty Python And The Holy Grail
      -Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian
      -Terminator I and II
      -National Lampoons Vacation and Christmas Vacation
      -Young Frankenstein
      -Blazing Saddles
      -Space Balls
      -Little Shop Of Horrors
      -Who Framed Roger Rabbit
      -Rambo I-III
      -Rocky I-IV
      -Star Wars IV-VI
      -Hot Shots and Hot Shots Part Dux
      -Airplane
      -The Thing
      -Star Wars I-IV
      -Evil Dead I-Army Of Darkness
      -Starship Troopers

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I find that I pick up on quite a few references for movies I haven’t seen, even if I can’t exactly explain the context, because I’ve heard them from folks so frequently. Like, I may not get it exactly or know what movie it’s from, but I get that it’s a reference to a movie.

        1. bibliovore*

          Erdrich also has a bookstore here, The Birchbark and her book the Sentence perfectly describes the life of a front-line bookseller.

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        I actually find “Life of Brian” superior to “Holy Grail” (with the exception of the UFO scene).

    4. Venus*

      Not exactly your question, but I once watched Casablanca with a group and at the end one guy looked disappointed and said it was too full of clichés. Thankfully he listened to me once I’d regained my ability to speak.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I watched Casablanca for the first time about 10 years ago and still don’t get what all the hype is about. It’s boring!
        Sorry

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s so hard to remind myself sometimes that cliches didn’t start out that way! So when I hear “sleeps with the fishes” or similar it once was just a line of dialogue.

      3. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        Casablanca is the greatest movie ever made. Period. I don’t care what those Orson Wells fans say.

        1. allathian*

          Rosebud, rosebud. Granted, I saw Citizen Kane for the first time about 5 years ago.

          I haven’t seen Casablanca for years, and I’d like to. I do think it’s funny that the most famous quote that’s attributed to the movie is actually a misquote, nobody says “Play it again, Sam” at any time.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I recall someone tried to explain the Austin novel Emma as the source material for the movie Clueless. Young person had never heard of the movie.

        1. ThatGirl*

          That’s a little bit of a surprise considering it came out when you were in middle or high school (I’m 42, I saw it in theaters) but, not everyone is super plugged in to pop culture.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I saw it for the first time within the past year. But that was specifically on a “classic movies I haven’t watched” kick–I was aware of it in a cultural zeitgeist, meme-generating way.

          2. carcinization*

            I’m 42 but thought I was way too cool to watch that movie when it came out (I was into different pop culture rather than not being into pop culture), so I didn’t see it until I was in college and one of my room-mates wanted to watch it.

        2. Seashell*

          Alicia Silverstone in a yellow plaid blazer and miniskirt in the late 90’s? I think the look was iconic enough to be ripped off for a hip hop video in somewhat more recent years.

          1. Golden*

            I (30) know that outfit from the Iggy Azalea music video, not whatever the source material is (Clueless based on the comment above?)

    6. RLC*

      Much more than 20 years back, but The Shining (“Here’s Johnny”) immediately came to mind. Also referring to any creepily uncooperative automobile as “Christine”.

      1. 248_Ballerinas*

        Do younger people know that The Shining’s “Here’s Johnny” was a pop-culture reference in itself?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Up until this post I have always read “Heeere’s Johnny” as a Tonight Show reference, with no idea about The Shining. (Specifically picturing some uses where it’s supposed to be scary.)

    7. Maleficent2026*

      I recently found out my husband has only seen maybe two animated Disney movies, including the old original ones. I’ve decided 2024 is the year of his Disney education.

    8. MaxKitty*

      A bit earlier than 20ish years, but The Princess Bride (so many quotes!) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Bueller, Bueller…)

      1. BellaStella*

        Yes these and also The Big Lebowski as well as The Breakfast Club, plus The Matrix, Lawrence of Arabia, 2001, and as I am in Europe many more American movies that my 30 ish years old colleagues never heard of.

      2. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I had to introduce my husband to the Princess Bride but now he quotes ‘maaaawidge’ at me more often than I do!

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Kind of an opposite example but I remember seeing a live theatre production of As You Like It and everyone laughed at “All the world’s a stage…” It sounds like a corny pop culture reference rather than, you know, the actual monologue in its original context.

    10. Morning Reading*

      This is an old person curmudgeonish thing to point out, but all the movies mentioned thus far are more than 20 years old. Mostly 30+ years old. My question is: do movies exist these days that have this kind of memorable dialogue or scene? Probably because I don’t see many (new) movies these days, I am unaware. Maybe it just takes time for these phrases or concepts to disburse culturally?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m surprised (sort of) that I don’t hear more Harry Potter references. (Though I assume that’s because the author went bat-guano crazy and nobody wants to be perceived as supporting her, but the books and movies were still huge for their times.)

        Otherwise off the top of my head, “I volunteer for tribute” is one I occasionally hear. I’ve never seen the movies but I recognize the reference.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          People did seem to overdo the “my Hogwarts house is…” thing for a while. I think that entire franchise was so over-exposed for so long that people just got a bit fed up of it. The same thing is starting to happen with superhero movies – they don’t have as much cultural impact as they used to, just because audiences have seen so many of them now.

      2. Rachel*

        This comments section skews older so people will talk about the references they hear and understand.

        The Barbie movie gave us “every night is girls night” and I hear that a lot.

        Another thing: it is extremely difficult to be objective about this. When we hear a reference we don’t get, it often doesn’t register at all. References we get and enjoy register strongly. It’s always fun to hear somebody who enjoys the same thing we do. I think it would be really hard to accurately know how many references are understood and how many fly past us.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Yes I am the Barbie movie’s peak demographic (millennial female) and it gets quoted in my circles and in the social media and marketing I see. Ken meanwhile is just Ken.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes—check the meme generators to see what my teenager’s cohort find memorable.

        One of our catchphrases is from a Marvel movie:
        “I understood that reference!” —Captain America

        Another is from Encanto; “We don’t talk about Bruno”

        1. RussianInTexas*

          “Behold! My stuff”
          “I know him! He is my friend from work!”
          “Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast, I would catch it!”

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I had a second thought on your comment. These movies maybe more than 20 years old, but a lot of us spent the pandemic binge watching movies and they feel new to us. (Me, I had missed Forrest Gump in the 90s —new job, new hobby that didn’t involve theaters, etc. Finally saw it online during lockdown!)

        1. carcinization*

          Yeah, I finally got to see Joe Vs the Volcano during the pandemic, I wanted to see it when it came out but I was a youngster and mom wasn’t into it.

      5. Angstrom*

        Or are audiences more fragmented? Pre-internet, I think a wider cross-section of people would watch the same hit movies. I suspect that now there’s less viewing across audience demographics and genres.

        1. Cicely*

          Good call. Just the other day, I joked “…and don’t call me Shirley!” to a small group who had no idea what I meant. Understandable based on your astute reasoning.

      6. Ellis Bell*

        My partner and I quote “Time to nut up or shut up” and “delicious yellow bastards” from Zombieland at each other a fair bit. We like Twinkies, but they’re hard to come by in the UK, so the latter’s pretty appropriate. Ironically there’s a big part of the movie where Tallahassee is bemoaning kids today not knowing any movie references or “that’s like not knowing who Ghandi is” before being asked who Ghandi is.

      7. RussianInTexas*

        In my circle/age group (mid 40s to older, and admittedly nerdy), we quote some MCU movies a lot.

      8. bibliovore*

        not a movie but “what is a week end?” said in a Maggie Smith voice is my favorite (Dowton Abbey)

    11. Morning Reading*

      Not quite the same thing, but a friend recently did not recognize “bogart” as a verb. I think maybe that guy never put his cigarette down.

    12. Rara Avis*

      Any quote from The Princess Bride. I use “I do not think that means what you think it means,” most often myself.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        That’s one that’s been killed by the internet and overuse. Nothing like seeing something factually true or partially true but not wrong get shot down by this online!

    13. What the what*

      Sixteen Candles. “Oh sexy girlfriend”

      Christmas Vacation. “Sh&tter’s full” and “the little lights aren’t blinking.”

      Seinfeld. (All of the Seinfeldisms.)

    14. Busy Middle Manager*

      Strong opinions about something inconsequential incoming:

      First off, this is like a GenX movie boxset, not even “classic” movies. Classic is like Benhur, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Psycho, Bye Bye Birdie, Casablanca type stuff.

      I am glad the era of quoting movies in everyday situations is over, mostly because I could never remember them, even when I just saw the movie. It was also tiresome, even as someone who loves bad jokes and sarcasm, to hear the same unfunny line picked and repeated seven trillion times for years. Kids in the Hall was brilliant and I loved it, but “I’m shrinking your head” was not among the funniest clips by a long stretch, but got repeated hundreds of times as if you were supposed to laugh hard at it. And that’s another thing, many of the lines from movies like Airplane aren’t funny “haha” they’re more slapstick humor or are making fun of other peoples’ bad jokes, they aren’t stand-alone funny.

      I find it weird that The Shining always gets lumped in with GenX movies. IME It’s definitely a boomer or silent generation film. I so got tired of my parents generation (now in their 70s) constantly quoting it, one of my aunts would do the rim rum thing with her finger like it was the most hilarious thing in the world. And then when you didn’t react, you’d have to hear her explain the movie like you never saw it. I feel like if you were really young when it came out or saw it in repeat soon after, you were already sort of desensitized to scary things, so it didn’t pack as much as if you were older when it came out and you could relate to the parents. One of my older coworkers used to do the I-dream-of-Jeanie head nod thing and if you didn’t laugh hard, he’s explain the TV show to you as if it wasn’t in reruns everyday for 20 years.

      On the flip side, it’s interesting what has been forgotten.

      That all being said, I found 80s and 90s sitcoms to have more quotable quotes than movies. Especially Designing Women and Golden Girls!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love “I crush your head!” When I was living with Mom, we got on a kick where we couldn’t stop doing that, haha.

      2. Rachel*

        The Office “that’s what she said” wasn’t very funny after a few repeats, it also introduced a sexual innuendo into everyday conversation when I definitely didn’t feel like the conversation heading that way.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Now I’m thinking of Bladerunner. Rick Deckard just didn’t get the humor every time someone quipped “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

    15. Pam Adams*

      Tangentially related, my sister loved Clueless. When Emma came out, she thought “it’s just like Clueless!”

      Imagine her surprise when I explained that it was the other way around.

      1. carcinization*

        This unlocked a memory for me… back when we were still dating, an ex-boyfriend of mine and I were killing time channel-surfing at his parents’ house and he wanted to watch that movie, I said no, as I had seen it too many times, and he started pouting about it, so I was like… “Fine.” He changed the channel back and I began to recite the movie’s dialog verbatim as it went on. He stared at me for awhile and finally agreed that we didn’t have to watch it.

    16. 00ff00Claire*

      I don’t think this is referenced *regularly*, but it comes up in some circles: “What excellent boiled potatoes.”

    17. sulky-anne*

      Not quite the same thing, but I always get a kick out of watching classic films and seeing the origin of a phrase or trope that has been adapted for decades. I recently saw the Wizard of Oz for the first time in several years and it’s just one iconic moment after another.

    18. Fellow Traveller*

      I once directed a play and the dialogue was feeling a little inert so I told them it had to have the energy of Gilmore Girls and the two actors just stared at me blankly.
      Only I have never actually watched the show myself, but I somehow know the tone for which it was known…

    19. Chauncy Gardener*

      So many from Shrek:
      “Two things, Donkey. Shut. Up.”

      “You didn’t slay the dragon???!! It’s on my to do list, OK??”

  12. RMNPgirl*

    Anyone else playing the NYT connections? I just started this week and have only been able to solve one of them. It seems so obvious once the answers come up but I just can’t seem to make the connections while actually playing!

    1. Manders*

      Yes! I just started a couple of weeks ago. It definitely gets easier as you figure out the “traps” that they always have. Sometimes I put it down for a couple of hours and when I come back to it, I’ve magically figured it out.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a regular one in my family. I get it more often than not, but my number of 0-for-4 days is not insignificant. (For example, yesterday.)

      Advice: If you are off by 1, deselect all and look for a different connection. It’s easy to waste all your guesses trying to hit on which one to switch.

    3. Alex*

      I struggled at first but after a while I got better. You start to look for the kinds of patterns they typically use. Some of them still stump me though!

      1. MEHSquared*

        Same and same. Really interesting once I understood the concept. (Using all sixteen words for four different categories.)

    4. Quordle not Wordle*

      A friend of mine plays and always tries to get the purple category first. Even if I think it’s the most difficult one it winds up being green at best.
      I will say that January seems to have been particularly hard. The folks I know who play it (myself included) had streaks broken when we had been doing well up to then!

    5. Indolent Libertine*

      I’ve been playing for a while. Now I do pretty well, but I crashed and burned SO MUCH at first! Multiple attempts where I got none correct. The more you play, the more you’ll come to understand the editor’s approach.

    6. Jessica*

      I might be delusional but I always start by hitting shuffle. There are often traps and tricks (things that look like a group but aren’t) and I think the initial layout is often designed to fool you with those.

    7. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I’ve been playing since it was released with little trouble, but this past month I’ve struggled a lot. The most recent one I failed miserably at had five words that all fit together in a group and I just couldn’t get the right combo. Then I got mad because four of the words were synonyms for the fifth but they included the fifth in the grouping. I thought the fifth should have been the name of the category, not one of the words.

      What I’ve noticed playing is if you see a grouping of three words but you can’t find a fourth, you know those are likely split up among categories. If I see groupings of two, I usually just ignore them because that’s often a misdirection.

    8. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I think they have been getting harder over the past few weeks. They used to be effortless for me, but these days I fail more than I finish.

      1. Imprudence*

        UK reader here: I like connections, but it is always frustrating when one of the chains is a v US-ian link (baseball players anyone?). On the plus side, I am learning a lot of US-ian slang.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          English is not my first language, though I consider myself pretty much bilingual. And yet, by failing some of the Connections, I found a few seemingly simple words I didn’t know (or didn’t know had an alternative meaning that the game was playing on).

        2. Abroad*

          That’s how I feel about the Only Connect walls but for the UK from the USA perspective! And some of their other stuff, too.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          The last syllables of names of rappers.

          Since I had done the puzzle before my spouse, I gave him a heads-up not to bother looking for the connection on purple, he wasn’t getting it.

          Shortly after we had the shapes of four capital letters in Greek, and while we do know what those look like we definitely did not think of that as a category.

    9. NewKid*

      Have you ever seen Only Connect? It’s a quiz show that airs in the UK, and they have a round which is basically NYT connections (although I think Only Connect came first?) called the Connecting Wall. If you can find some old episodes on YouTube (or iPlayer if you live in the UK), you might get some strategy ideas from how the teams approach it.

      1. Phryne*

        I love Only Connect. (I get bbc here). Absolutely suck at it though, I never get anything. I guess that makes it satisfying to watch, no need to scream at the screen in frustration.

        1. NewKid*

          I usually get a few missing vowels but not much more. When I actually get a connection I am always very proud of myself lol

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I tried it once and then forgot about it, so just now I went to find it again only I searched for “NYT coRRections” and got real confused before I figured out what I did. More caffeine!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        but once I found it I got it perfect first try! (although I didn’t figure out what the category was for the last/purple group, I figured out the other three sets and then just went with what was left.)

    11. Seashell*

      I play it sometimes (I play Spelling Bee and Wordle every day), and sometimes I get it and sometimes I don’t. It does get frustrating at times. Words that all sound like something else in a specific category tend to baffle me.

    12. Mimmy*

      As most others said, it was very difficult at first but now I have the hang of it. Many times when I’ve figured out three groupings, I try to guess what the fourth grouping is but often cannot (usually a purple). Some of the categories are super random or ones where I never would’ve guessed. It’s a fun game because it really makes you think.

    13. BikeWalkBarb*

      I started playing a few weeks ago because my best friend mentioned it. I don’t subscribe so I’m not comparing results with anyone. I’m a word person by nature (undergrad studies in linguistics and English) and usually get through it fine. My weak point early on was remembering to think about words united by having the same word precede or follow. Now that I remember to look for that it’s gotten easier. More than once I’ve gotten the first three categories and have no idea what the fourth category will be until they tell me; they’re just the leftovers.

    14. Tusky's human*

      Connections has replaced wordle as the game I play while drinking my morning coffee. I find it so satisfying to solve. As others have noted, it got a little easier once I started to recognize the types of groupings that tend to show up. When I’m really stumped I will focus on one word and try to brainstorm different things that word could be or do in a sentence.

      1. TPS reporter*

        I do something similar where I find one unusual word or word that just stands out and build around it

    15. Rara Avis*

      I can often get three and then the fourth is right but I have no idea why until the answers reveal. The “add a word” type us hardest for me.

    16. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I started a few months ago, and was really bad at it at first until I kind of got the hang of it. Now I usually get at least 2 groups and often 3 (which makes the 4th group automatic to get), unless one or more of them are based on topics I know nothing about. I really enjoy doing it — I can almost feel my brain expanding as I ponder the words and try to find the connections.

    17. LNLN*

      The first thing I do in the morning is play Connections. I share results with my sisters and a BIL. I’m almost 70 and I love how the game challenges me to broaden my thinking. It feels healthy for my brain.

    18. Filosofickle*

      I love the addition of this game! I’ve only flat out lost twice, but often the final set I only get by elimination — I never figure out the thread.

  13. EA*

    Has anyone here moved back to the US following an extended time living in another country? I’m interested in hearing your experiences and how you chose where to live.

    We (me, husband and kids) are looking at a move and for a bunch of reasons it could be pushed up to as early as next year. Most of my extended family is in the Northeast but it seems way too cold and not culturally diverse, and others are in LA and honestly I can’t stomach the prices. So we might look elsewhere, but I don’t even know where to start.

    1. Abroad*

      I lived abroad for six years, returned to the states for two and then went back to my chosen foreign country. It is absolutely doable, but allow yourself some grace for reverse culture shock. I think I assumed since I was basically moving home, or close to, it would all be familiar and easy. It was not. I had the some of the same feelings as when I moved abroad initially, stuff that is hard to describe or pin down. Things like feeling like I hit the wrong notes in interactions, realizing that X thing is just so much harder here, missing product Y, not describing things the right way, making a reference that doesn’t make sense where you are, feeling out of place but not being able to say exactly why. Just like the initial move abroad, it subsided in time, faster than my initial move (but that was paired with a shift to my non native language as my primary communication language, which added additional difficulty.

      All that said, I did it as a young, childless but partnered person, so your version will necessarily be different. And in terms of deciding on where, we (as a couple) picked a few very general regions and went were I found a job quickest. In terms of logistics, I flew out first to start work and set us up, my partner stayed to wrap things up and then flew out later (a few weeks). Wishing you much success!

      1. EA*

        Thank you! We actually have friends who moved to the States like four years ago and are now trying to return to the country where we live (which is unusual compared with the huge wave of migration to the US coming from Latin America). I feel like I’d love to be back with some US food/products, but the rest of my family would definitely miss the food here, and I bet I would more than I expect!

    2. Flower necklace*

      My parents are/were Foreign Service (one has passed; the other is alive and still working for the State Department). They chose to buy a house in northern Virginia, despite being from different states and not having any family nearby. I believe the thinking was that they wanted to be in a diverse metro area within commuting distance of Washington, D.C.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      I think we’d need more specifics (price range, specific things you want in an area, etc.) to help.

      The verbiage of “choose” to live stuck out to me; if you’re not upper middle class with a lot of savings, or are just flat-out rich, you’re going to be negatively shocked at the housing stock on the market at the moment. I would definitely postpone if I were you. The available selection of rentals and homes for sale is horrible right now in huge swaths of the country. Starter homes priced like mansions, basic apartments with thin walls near a highway priced like luxury, that sort of thing. I’ve been obsessively looking, I know. So you may not be getting to pick your first home and may just end up in a place that feels random.

      I’d be curious what you value in a home and neighborhood? All you mentioned is cold and lack of diversity. So I assume you’re from way way north in the NE, and not the populated areas of the NE, which definitely have become diverse over the past few decades and where the cold isn’t that bad. Do you want urban, rural, suburban? What can you afford? Do you have a job lined up? Any particular hobbies you have that been to be built into where you live (such as needing a beach)?

      I lived abroad for years and moved back but it was a different beast. Mid 2000s, it was easier to get a job and you could find housing easily on an average salary, so I just showed up to a city (no WFH obviously) and didn’t think too hard. Not the situation today. The economic data right now is confusing but with the unemployment rate being low, but the amount of people saying they cannot find a (well paying) job and saying their jobs are not hiring being very high, but I would not bet my life plan on broad statistics. I would look at the specific fields I want to get into here and gauge whether it’s feasible to find a job at the moment and if it’s feasible to find and afford housing near said job.

      1. EA*

        Thanks, I mostly just wanted to hear others’ experiences! We have nothing lined up and some limited savings. Still mostly just exploring right now. No harsh winter is pretty non-negotiable though :)

        1. Abroad*

          Oh yeah, I didn’t mention the money part: it was a bad idea from a financial perspective. It cost a lot of money to close out in one country, start in another and then do the reverse. But it answered some important questions for us and was worth it for non monetary reasons. It was also easy for us in a number of ways that for others would not be true (e.g. partner kept his job, just worked from home) . But yeah. Expensive. Expect it to cost more than you think.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Seconding Busy Middle Manager. I’m in New England and it is very diverse. But housing is SUPER expensive. Rhode Island is more mild, but still expensive. Same with Delaware.
        Unless you have a lot of expendable income/savings, I personally would wait to come back. Everything is very very expensive. Inflation may have slowed down, but it’s not like the prices reverted back to a couple of years ago.
        Seriously. In my local grocery store, for example, a bunch of fresh dill used to cost $.99. It is now $2.99!

    4. Silent E*

      I have done this twice in my life so far. I agree strongly with Abroad: I recommend that you prepare yourself for what’s called “re-entry shock” (also sometimes known as “reverse culture shock”). I’ll post a couple of resources in a reply to this comment.
      The first time, I had to come back to a specific area of the country for life reasons, and as it happened, I returned to the very same place I had left – as in, even the place I had been renting before I left was available again when I returned – and since I was returning to live really close to family and friends and a familiar community, I thought it would help me readjust faster. I’m sure it did, but it also heightened my awareness of my re-entry shock. (The fact that it was the first time I experienced it definitely didn’t make things easier.)
      The second time I returned, it was to a place very far away from where I grew up, and we moved there for a job. I was recently married at that time (my spouse is not from the US), so a lot of things were new to the both of us, and it didn’t feel so much like I was “going back” as I was moving to yet another new place that was simply similar to my home country. I had some re-entry shock, but it wasn’t nearly as pronounced as the first time, probably because I had experienced it before, I was more prepared for it, and because I had moved to a part of the country that was very unfamiliar to me.
      Another consideration when thinking about where to land is your credit rating. Have you been gone so long that you no longer have one Stateside? This was a huge surprise to me the second time I returned, and the cause of a few headaches. I had to set up more life things that time around (rentals, car insurance, utilities, banking). Some states allow your credit rating to be considered when setting up some of these things, and it can make life difficult and expensive in that initial return period, but does resolve itself eventually.
      Also, make allowances for your children’s adjustments to this move. Have they lived in the US before? Kids can have very different responses to moving countries than adults, and you’ll be setting up your new life here in a different way than they will.
      Good luck with your move and your readjustment, wherever you decided to land!

      1. EA*

        Thanks for sharing. Kids are under 6 and have never lived in the US. I had hoped to stay abroad at least until they were both in school because honestly the US childcare and preschool system terrifies me. But in the other hand a move for a middle schooler might be awful… and I hadn’t even thought about the credit rating but it’s a really good point!

        1. Abroad*

          If I may add my two cents again: anecdata from friends say that moving kids from one country’s school system to another is a royal pain. And waaaaay harder for the kids socially, which is a huge argument to do it as early as possible. However, I also agree preschool etc. sounds terrifying, that’s one reason we went back to my chosen foreign country. Hatch choice.

      2. Silent E*

        Oops, I meant to say *credit history* instead of credit rating. Still, both played an important role in our getting (re)settled here.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      That’s an extremely broad question but if you’re looking for not cold and culturally diverse, Atlanta might fit. The biggest problem I can see with living in Atlanta after you’ve lived in Europe is that it’s an enormous sprawling place with dismal public transit.

      1. Fastest Thumb in the West*

        Charlotte or Raleigh/Durham, NC might fit the bill better than Atlanta. Same lack of public transit but much easier to drive in. Charlotte’s major industry is finance and Raleigh/Durham’s is tech and these are growing sectors. Both have excellent public schools if you buy your home in the right area. Charlotte has not been traditionally diverse, but it is rapidly becoming more so.

  14. Lizy*

    What’s your favorite quote or phrase or saying? I’m getting into handwriting stuff — calligraphy and hand lettering stuff — and I need practice phrases!

    1. Venus*

      Not exactly positive, but a really valuable reminder for me:
      You can’t care more about a problem than the person having the problem.
      It tends to read better if you have something specific in there, in particular:
      You can’t care more about someone’s job than they do.

      Another AAM quote:
      You don’t have a coworker problem, you have a manager problem.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have several phrase tattoos, mostly song lyrics:
      “with bare feet broken in the snow” (a Sully Erna solo piece)
      “creatures made of sunlight don’t intend it when they burn” (a Vixy & Tony song, paired with a Corax glyph from old WoD)
      “chase the wind <3 touch the sky” (the main song from Brave – with a heart drawn in between, each of the two parts is in one of my parents’ handwriting)
      “never alone” (“Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows, in my bestie’s handwriting)
      “my story is not done” (Seanan McGuire song of the same name, in my own handwriting, captioning a Dark Tower homage tattoo)

      1. Lurker*

        The full quote is actually

        Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

        but I think the first part stands on its own well enough. I’m a worrier, this helps me try to stop worrying about things that I can’t control.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, that reminds me of the small poem we had on the tables at our wedding!

        “Last night I caught the happy virus,
        Outside, singing beneath the stars.
        It is very contagious,
        So kiss me.”

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      ‘Librarians are the secret masters of the world. They control information. Don’t ever piss one off. ‘ Spider Robinson

      1. fposte*

        I just went to a comedy show with a comedian (Dara O Briain, mentioned upthread in a minute) renowned for doing crowd work. And one of the people near the stage said his job was a librarian, and my friend and I, both in librarianship, clapped and whoooed, as did several other people around the room. And this surprised the comedian who then made an ongoing riff about the raw sexual energy of librarians spellbinding the crowd.

    4. Snell*

      I memorized the poem The Garden of Proserpine because it was just one of those things that spoke to me. I copied it down a few times for penmanship practice, not unlike what you’re looking for for calligraphy experience. I ended up using it to get me through gym exercise, when the gym was too loud to listen to music/audiobooks etc. I’d recite it in my head, and since it’s like twelve stanzas long, at a normal speaking pace, it would take 3-5 minutes to complete.

    5. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      “Computer, deactivate iguana.” – The Doctor, Star Trek Voyager

      That’s my go-to whenever I need text to fill in. I don’t know why, it just speaks to me. Something about the absurdity of controlling the annoyances of life.

    6. NewKid*

      One I said all the time as a kid when asked how I was going to pull something off: “With great skill and not much responsibility.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        “In all fairness, I was left unsupervised.”

        Actually ordered a tee shirt with that on it after reading it on an AAM thread!

    7. Morning Reading*

      Wherever you go, there you are.
      Goodbye and thanks for all the fish.
      Beam me up, Scotty.
      A cat’s a cat and that’s that.
      The quick red fox jumped over the lazy brown dog.

      If you’re looking for something longer, I suggest the text of Desiderata, Ode to Spot, or some other favorite verse of yours.

    8. Helvetica*

      Oh, I’ve been collecting quotes since I was like 14, so be prepared!

      “Most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.” – Maya Angelou

      “I love you not for who you are, but who I am when I’m by your side.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

      “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t, no proof is possible.” – Stuart Chase

      “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” – Douglas Adams

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well OK now I have to go read Gabriel Garcia Marquez… I knew this from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

        “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.”

    9. slashgirl*

      “What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education.” Harold Howe

      “Google will bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian will bring you back the right one.” Neil Gaiman

      “You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.” Marcus Cole on Babylon 5

      “He hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.” Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Just a quote fest, for sure!

          My favorite is long, but very very apt for the last few years, when Mr. Morden asks Vir what he wants.

          “I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up at your lifeless eyes and wave like this. [gives a mockingly cheerful finger waggle] Can you and your associates arrange this for me, Mr. Morden?”

        2. allathian*

          My favorite by Delenn, “Only one human captain has survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.”

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            “Man, this movie is just sitting on my head and crushing it.” Gunslinger (with Beverly Garland!)

    10. Llellayena*

      My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair. (The full poem is also good)

      Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

      Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s continuing mission…

      In general, song lyrics, poetry and theater monologues make for good practice since the pace of them becomes familiar and you can think less about the content and more about shaping the letters.

      1. Lizy*

        Yeah I definitely was just stuck on “love hope faith” and bible verses. I love me some bible verses but these ideas are just what I needed!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nothing important comes into being overnight; even grapes and figs need time to ripen. If you say that you want a fig now, I will tell you to be patient. First, you must allow the tree to flower, then put forth fruit; then you have to wait until the fruit is ripe.
      Epictetus

      Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify! –Thoreau
      (Ironically , when looking this up , it turns out that my memory simplified that quote and cut out full sentences from the middle.)

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

        There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star–Thoreau

    12. old curmudgeon*

      A Dorothy Sayers quote I’ve always enjoyed:

      Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.

      The older I’ve gotten, the more that quote resonates with me.

    13. Water Everywhere*

      “If you can’t be a good example then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning” – Catherine Aird

      “Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition” – Jane Austen (Sense & Sensibility)

    14. Llama face!*

      Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. — Maya Angelou

      In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
      A stately pleasure-dome decree:
      Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
      Through caverns measureless to man
      Down to a sunless sea.
      — Samuel Coleridge, Kubla Khan (first stanza of poem)

    15. Llama face!*

      Memorable first line in a book:

      There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. — C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

    16. Jackalope*

      This may be a bit boring, and is certainly not as beautiful or wise as some of the others, but when I’m practicing handwriting I often use, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” That way I know I’m getting all the letters.

    17. BikeWalkBarb*

      Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
      — The Buddha

    18. Nervous Nellie*

      Oh, so many! I keep a little book where I jot them down and do little drawings around each page. Some samples that may inspire:

      ‘Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’ Leonard Cohen

      ‘You never know when you’re making a memory.’ Rickie Lee Jones

      ‘I don’t think of all the misery but of all the beauty that remains.’ Anne Frank

      ‘Your hair matters far, far less than you think.’ Lisa Scottoline

      ‘How you spend your days is how you spend your life.’ Annie Dillard

      ‘Marriage is punishment for shoplifting in some countries.’ Mike Myers in Wayne’s World

      ‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.’ Leo Buscaglia

      ‘Sometimes you don’t get what you want because you deserve better.’ Charlie Chaplin

      ‘You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.’ Jack London

      ‘Obstacles are the frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.’ Hannah More

      ‘Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.’ Erica Jong

      ‘You’re a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust. What do you have to be scared of?’ E. Jean Carroll

      ‘Don’t hold onto a mistake just because you spent a long time making it.’ Anon

      ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ Maya Angelou

      ‘Map out your life but do it in pencil.’ Jon Bon Jovi

      ‘I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.’ Gilda Radner

      ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’ The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

      ‘Every complex problem has a solution which is simple, direct, plausible and wrong.’ H.L. Mencken

      ‘If you learned something, it’s not a mistake, it’s a lesson.’ Barbara Emodi

    19. Pam Adams*

      “Softly, as if it hardly meant it, the snow began to fall.”- Arthur Ransome, Winter Holiday.

    20. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

      “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind.” – William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream

      “It was a strange ending to a voyage that had commenced in a most auspicious manner.” – Maurice Leblanc, The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar

      “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” ― Edgar Allen Poe

    21. beware the shoebill*

      Everyone is doing their best, and everyone can do better.

      It’s difficult to find happiness in yourself, but it’s impossible to find it elsewhere.

    22. Mephyle*

      “But here and now we are alive.”

      This is from Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods and it is said by a character who is advocating for doing a good dead. He says the above in reply to his companion who has just said, “What difference does it make? In a hundred years you’ll both be dead.”

    23. Pippa K*

      “Revenge is not redress. Revenge is a wheel, and it turns backwards.” (Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment)

      “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” (The Princess Bride)

    24. goddessoftransitory*

      This is super dark, but it honestly has stuck with me:

      From the website The Root–“I feel like those who say ‘I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy’ don’t know what the word enemy means.”

      Like I said, super dark and kind of anti inspiring, but really, when you think about it…

      I will try to come up with some sunnier examples!

    25. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      This song quote literally saved me when my late wife was terminally ill.

      “You can’t always get what you want; but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”

    26. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      I’m immensely fond of the following verse from the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam:
      I sent my soul into the invisible,
      Some letter of that after life to spell.
      And by and by my soul returned to me
      And answered, I myself am heaven and hell.

      Also from the Rubaiyat: I came like water, and like wind I go.

      From The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams:
      In the beginning, the Universe was created. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

      From the Aeneid by Virgil: Stop hoping you will change the will of the gods by praying.

      And from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations: Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.

    27. Part time lab tech*

      The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. The next best time is now. (Anon about 1967).
      It goes well with something my sister says about seeds- If you don’t plant them, seeds definitely won’t grow. (a caution against both hoarding seeds for the perfect time to plant, and not planting seeds because we don’t think they will grow. )

    28. carcinization*

      “If you find a solution and become attached to it, that solution may become your next problem” or “the hardness of a diamond is a part of its usefulness, but its true value is the light that shines through it” or “before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”

    29. Tea and Sympathy*

      I saw this yesterday on a hoodie that a random stranger was wearing. I must have been in a very literal state of mind, because I had to google it. Once I did, I really liked it.

      Don’t trip on what’s behind you.

    30. Brevity*

      Father-in-law had this one framed: “Cooleth it.”

      Also, my work favorite: “Ask forgiveness, not permission.”

  15. partially a ghost*

    I’ve effectively ghosted a new friend because I was a little overwhelmed with my todo list (and ended up doing nothing , btw), and then I just keep thinking it’s too late and I don’t know what to say. It’s been 2 months now And I feel terrible.

    There were a bunch of helpful comments for people who have been receiving silence in the last week, and I’m looking for advice for the person on the other side. (I haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, but can relate to a certain extent)

    I like talking to this person, but I’m just not reliable, and I don’t think I can honestly promise that I will not disappear in the future. I think it will be easier to reappear if I am not ashamed and guilty about disappearing.

    I know the ball is in my court, and want to reach out. What do I say?

    1. Alex*

      You are overthinking it! Just reach out and say I’m sorry I got really busy and dropped the ball with keeping in touch, let’s go grab lunch on Saturday (or whatever). It’s really not a big deal and this person will probably understand.

    2. Double A*

      It depends a little bit on the nature of the ghosti. If you didn’t respond to several attempts to reach out, then more of an apology/acknowledgement is in order. If a text conversation just kind of petered out and you happened to be the one who left it hanging, I think you can be a bit more casual about resuming contact. “I’ve been thinking of you but times have been crazy! I can’t believe it’s been two months! Wanna get lunch?” is a text I wouldn’t think twice about.

      A caveat that I’m in the time of life when I will go years without seeing someone who lives relatively close to me and it’s not that weird. Any attempt to reach out and re-establish contact is appreciated.

      1. partially a ghost*

        I have a bunch of close friends where communication is very much like that. And it’s comfortable and cozy, we get back to each other when we have the bandwidth, no apologies needed.

        This is a new friendship which didn’t reach that comfort level yet. I didn’t specify, but here’s how it went.
        I messaged on a Saturday, got a response Sunday evening with apologies for the late response, and then I didn’t reply. They reach out again a week before Christmas, with apologies again cuz they were busy. I didn’t reply immediately, and then stuck in overthinking since then.

        1. Mighty K*

          Probably the worst that can happen is that they don’t reply to you? So I’d say to go for it.

          The timescales you’ve described don’t seem that long to me, I can picture that happening with many of my friends, but I think we’re quite a relaxed group like that. They may not even have clocked it themselves.

          And, if THEY don’t reply to YOU, quickly, don’t let that put you off trying again as the exact same thing might have happened to them too!

    3. RagingADHD*

      “Sorry we missed connecting before the holidays. Do you have time this week or next to talk?”

      They are probably feeling awkward too, thinking they annoyed you with late replies. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I have a friend like this. Honestly, I accept it about her, and I still think of her fondly as a close friend. Did I pull back a little after the second time it happened? Yes, which I think it’s fair; she’s probably not excited to be my close confidante anyway, and she’s no longer the first person I think of except in certain defined circumstances (TV shows we both obsess about, meaning a nice light text-based conversation I’m not super invested in). But we’re still very close and I know we’d both be there for each other if we really needed it.

      1. carcinization*

        I have a friend just like this as well, down to our light ongoing conversation about a certain TV show. These days I don’t sweat it if we don’t talk/see each other for a month or two for sure.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      As I said then, I have a colleague who seemed to back off from friendship (I strongly suspect she has ADHD and I’m pretty sure it was either being overwhelmed or just distracted by other things) and honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything in particular to be said. Given the relationship we have, just “hey, what do you think about the resumption of power-sharing in Stormont?” would be perfectly in line (but one of the best parts of our friendship has always been how the need for small talk and perfect understanding of social rules doesn’t apply, so…your milage may vary on that one).

      I don’t think there is ever too late and two months definitely isn’t. There are all kinds of reasons people may be unavailable for two months.

      If it helps, I would usually be delighted to hear from a friend who’d dropped off radar for a while. I wouldn’t be in the least annoyed at them. Worst case scenario, I might be worried I had done something wrong and hurt them and would be relieved that wasn’t the case or I might be concerned they’d been having a tough time if they were the kind of person who tends to internalise their problems and go silent when upset or worried.

      After a quiet time of two months, I’d probably respond mentally to hearing from them normally, with “oh good, it seems like everything is fine, both between us and in their personal life. No doubt I was just worrying over nothing. After all, life gets busy and not everything is about me. It’s great to talk to them again.”

      And reading your additional comment, it sounds like you both have been busy, so the odds are they haven’t even noticed. They are probably just thinking, “oh, it’s been a while since partially a ghost and I have talked. I guess we’ve both been busy. Must catch up with them again soon.”

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      If it makes you feel better, I once accidentally ghosted a new friend for six months and then reached out with an apology and coffee invitation. We’re good friends now and hang out regularly. Someone recently reached out to me after a year of ghosting and we’ve made plans to meet up. Life happens and most people understand.

  16. Kate*

    Etiquette question!

    Neither my partner nor I drink. It’s entirely by personal preference, no religious restrictions or history of alcohol abuse.

    We’re also trying to host more social things for our wider circles of friends. Being in your 40s, it seems like so many friendships have withered because of small children and COVID, so we would like to start rekindling some of those.

    For informal things (come wrap presents at our house! We’ll supply wrapping paper and nibbles), I don’t have any issue with saying “if you drink, BYOB, we’ll supply the rest”.

    But for more formal “dinner party”-esque things, should I be providing alcohol?

    I feel like people will expect it, in the spirit of being a good and gracious host, but I frankly don’t want to if I am not going to enjoy it.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Can you unpack a little bit more why you don’t want to if you’re not going to enjoy it? Is it the expense? Do people behave in ways that are okay with you if it’s their booze, but not so much okay if you have to supply it?

      I do think many people expect that there will be some alcohol options at more formal gatherings, unless there’s a clear expectation set otherwise. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with treating it like the informal gatherings and saying, either in advance or when people ask what they can bring, “Oh, we don’t know anything about wine. We’re having chicken if you feel like bringing something.” Or even just saying BYOB along with the invite.

      I’m on the older side, though, and I really would plan to provide the general stuff guests would expect, including at least a minimum amount of alcohol.

      1. Kate*

        I don’t mind other people drinking, I just… don’t want to do the work (research it, source it, pay for it) for something I’m not even going to enjoy? I realize that sounds petty.

        1. Chaordic One*

          No, it isn’t really. In my state the supermarkets are only allowed to sell beer (and related malt products). They do carry hard cider. For just about everything else you have to go to state-run liquor store and they tend to be located in out-of-the-way places, in sometimes dodgy neighborhoods, they’re closed on Sundays and on federal holidays, and it can be a hassle getting to one. I’m only an occasional drinker and at those occasions when I do need to purchase some kind of alcohol other than beer, it’s a hassle getting it. When my guests ask if they bring something, I often suggest they bring a bottle of wine or some other kind of spirit.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Alcohol costs can add up fast (that’s why restaurants want liquor licenses so badly.) So I don’t blame you a bit for not wanting to spend time, money and trouble on this.

          But I do think it doesn’t have to be a HUGE production; like, for a dinner party, you probably only need wine. A local wine shop or the net can give you a general outline of what kind would go with what you’re planning to serve, and then just pick up a couple of midprice bottles and be done with it.

          If it’s a larger, more formal party, you might want to do a bit more, but in that case I’d ask for help from a friend, or simply put “Soft drinks and mineral water will be served; please feel free to BYOB if you wish” on the invites.

      2. Sopranoh*

        I think this can be regional, I suppose. I’m not saying folks are teetotalers in my area, but there’s not much of a drinking culture. Things like dry weddings tend to be the rule. Most gatherings tend to be host preference. I’ve never seen anyone get offended or really take much note if the host didn’t have alcohol.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am a mostly-non-drinker and don’t provide alcohol OR encourage folks to BYOB to my house, and nobody has said boo about it in the eight years this has been the case. At the risk of sounding judgey: if someone can’t deal with an evening without booze, that is a person I probably don’t want drinking in my house anyway. Folks can drink all they want in their own houses.

      1. MEHSquared*

        Yup. This is my thoughts as well. I don’t drink. I don’t want it in my house. So if I hosted any gathering, there would not be alcohol involved. Formal or not makes no difference to me. From the other responses, though, I guess you might want to make it clear if your friends drink regularly (mine don’t).

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I don’t exactly MIND if people bring their own, like a couple of beers to stick in the cooler for a cookout or whatever, but I don’t want them leaving any leftovers here, and I definitely don’t want people getting drunk or even tipsy in my house. My dad usually brings a bottle of wine when my folks come to visit, because he likes to have a glass of wine before bed with his evening snack (which he also brings his own), and that’s fine, but he takes anything left over with him when he leaves and he’s having a small glass of wine, not getting blitzed. People that I invite over to my house generally know my viewpoint and have been respectful of it with no issues.

    3. Double A*

      I’m assuming by “more formal” you still mean like having friends over for dinner as opposed to, say, an actual formal dinner party? Because if it’s friends coming over for dinner, people always ask what they can bring, so there’s your answer right there. Just ask them to bring something to drink.

    4. Maleficent2026*

      I’m someone who drinks rarely; I’ll have a drink if I’m out but I don’t keep anything at home. My wider friend group ranges from teetotalers to well educated connoisseurs with fully stocked bars. My experience has been that if the hosts aren’t people who drink regularly, there’s not an expectation for alcohol to be provided or for people to bring their own. No one’s ever complained about it, to my knowledge. And I think that being in our 40s, there’s less of an expectation for alcohol to always be available and/or expected.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah I think that’s the reciprocation element. If I buy nice wine, and you buy nice wine: there’s no need to cart wine to each other’s houses, and it’s hospitable to share a new find. As someone who became a tee-totaller in later life, I know I’m not going to get premium non alcoholic drinks at the houses of people who drink, or nice mocktails, so a lot of the time I bring my own. I don’t see why it should be different in reverse.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, this is a tough one. I think it’s a narrow niche between “not looking to be family oriented” but also “no alcohol.” It’s not that you can’t thread the needle, it’s just a smaller crowd.

    6. lonely toad*

      If you’re hosting more formal dinners, I’d expect some people to bring wine unless you specifically ask them not to. On the other hand, since people expect something that reads “fancy drink”, can you explore making mocktails, or non-alcoholic drinks mix drinks with adult flavorings (bitters, etc)?

    7. RagingADHD*

      I rarely drink but if I’m doing a sit-down dinner I’ll offer wine. Nothing really pricey, and sometimes we have a bottle on hand already that someone brought.

    8. Melissa*

      I thought the etiquette was for guests to bring a bottle of wine to a dinner party? Do you have friends who offer to bring something and you could just start letting people know to bring their own drinks?

    9. Gyne*

      If I had friends who didn’t drink, I would not expect alcohol to be served at their house. I also would feel weird bringing any, I’m perfectly happy socializing without it. I don’t think you need to mention it at all.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        This^ I have a few friends who don’t drink and when they host parties they usually provide an elaborate after dinner coffee/tea service in lieu of the usual extended cocktail hour at the beginning, so the party lasts for the same length of time.

      2. Turtle Dove*

        This is where I land too. I don’t host much these days, but I’d serve what I want and not worry about extras. Trying to please everyone and do everything is what burned me out on hosting. Now I keep it simple and enjoyable for myself as well as my guests.

    10. Morning Reading*

      I like the mocktail idea if you want to have some kind of fancy drink. If you are mailing printed invitations, I wouldn’t mention it there, but if you are inviting conversationally, I think it would be fine to continue saying, “we don’t drink so we don’t keep it in the house, but you’re welcome to bring whatever you like to go with dinner.”
      The etiquette advisers seem to tell guests that a bottle of wine is a good gift to the host, but not to expect the bottle they bring to be served as the hosts will have already chosen beverages that pair with the meal. This seems too fussy to me, and results in an accumulation of unwanted bottles with people who frequently host. I suggest serving the gifted wine, and then giving any unopened bottles back to the guests when they leave. (Depending on your local rules, and whether they are driving, you might be able to send them home with sealed but open bottles.) Soon this will become the recognized pattern among your guests and you won’t even need to mention it.
      (All of the above assuming excess drinking among your guests is not a problem.)

    11. MMB*

      For what it’s worth I’m in my 50’s and it has never even crossed my mind to expect a host/hostess to provide or offer alcohol. Is there a specific reason – or norm among your friend group – that makes you feel like people will expect it?

    12. Come On Eileen*

      I don’t drink either (my reasons are addiction) and I never serve it when people come over. But they all know that about me and know what they are getting into when they come to my house. Nobody has ever said a thing. So I don’t feel like a bad hostess for that. All that said – if you WANT to, you could ask a guest coming to a dinner party to bring the alcohol if you do prefer to have it available. Same rules sort of apply — say to whoever is willing “you know we don’t drink, but if you would like to provide the drinks for the evening, please do so – just make sure to take them home with you when the night is over.”

    13. Lilo*

      I don’t drink a lot, personally but I wouldn’t be remotely offended if a host didn’t provide alcohol. There are plenty of fun drinks that have no alcohol.

    14. HannahS*

      I don’t drink at all*; my partner drinks occasionally (though less and less as time goes on.) We sometimes offer alcohol, and sometimes not. Sometimes we offer dessert, and sometimes just cut fruit at the end of the meal. Sometimes we offer meat, sometimes fish, and sometimes a vegetarian meal. I don’t see alcohol as different from any other optional aspect of having people over. I don’t have friends who are offended by the absence of alcohol anymore than I have friends who insist that a meal isn’t a meal unless it has meat. When we’re just having one other couple over, if they ask what to bring, I’ll sometimes tell them to bring wine if they want to drink it. To be honest, I find that people are drinking less and less as our friend group ages.

      *(Perhaps similarly to you?) I have a mild ideological opposition to alcohol. Obviously I married someone who isn’t teetotal and I don’t care if others drink around me, but I have no interest in supporting alcohol consumption. When I was single, I never served it or had it in my home.

    15. Person from the Resume*

      No. I don’t drink much and I have no idea what pairs with what and even what’s neutral and popular versus speciality taste drink. I have my own specific taste (I drink far too much Coke Zero).

      For informal things (including potlucks), I tell people I’ll have water, Coke Zero, and (maybe) fizzy water (which I don’t drink), and they bring whatever they want drink.

      For meals, I really do the same thing. They can bring what they want if they want more than water or Coke Zero.

      I don’t want to figure out what I should get and end up with storing stuff I don’t drink.

      Many of my friends are fine with water. If they’re drinking they’re bringing wine, but one friend always brings beer. It’s too complicated to guess what they’d like when I don’t pay attention to alcohol.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Storage is SUCH a factor that most people don’t think about! The last time we had friends over we got some seltzer waters that Husband and I both ended up not liking at all and I ended up taking the rest of the case to work (where it vanished.) But there’s no way I could or would do that with booze.

    16. Still*

      I feel like either “we don’t drink but feel free to BYOB if you’d like” or “we don’t drink so the dinner will be alcohol-free” are completely fine and unremarkable.

      I always expect to be offered a drink at a friend’s house, but 90% of time it’s tea, coffee, or water. I’ll take a cocktail or a glass of wine if offered but I’d never expect it unless it’s something like New Year’s Eve.

    17. Pharmgirl*

      If you’re okay with people drinking but don’t want to provide it, it’s okay to say it’s byob even for a more formal dinner.

      That said I wouldn’t expect meat to be served in a vegetarian home, so the same would apply here too. If a friend doesn’t drink I wouldn’t expect them to provide alcohol, but I probably would expect options other than just water. Juice/soda/mock tail can provide fun drink options without having alcohol.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes BUT – if OP would really prefer not to be around alcohol, and would prefer that I not bring any as a guest, it would definitely be a kindness to let me know that, as I would otherwise probably bring myself something and would be horrified if this accidentally ended up offending OP.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      Honestly, I don’t think you have to if you don’t want to. Lots of households don’t serve or have any alcohol — that’s not being a bad host. It’s your house — you do you. I’m just happy to be invited for dinner or whatever. If people can’t survive a social occasion without a drink, that’s a them problem.

      Frankly, having people get drunk in your house and then get in their cars to drive home is a strike against BYOB anyway.

    19. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I drink and I enjoy wine, but I wouldn’t blink an eye if a non-drinking host didn’t offer alcohol at dinner in their home, no matter how formal. Our household is vegetarian even though I eat meat, and my guests would not expect to be served meat in my home regardless of formality– I see these two things as analogous.

      That said, if you want to serve wine at a dinner party, call up a wine-drinking friend and ask them to bring a couple of bottles. Some people will bring wine as a hostess gift and that’s fine, but if you want to be more focused and directed, designate a “sommelier”. I would love a task like that.

    20. epizeugma*

      My parents are non-drinkers and have been for decades. They host a lot of dinner parties. If someone brings wine or whatever they have a corkscrew and glasses on hand, but they don’t buy or supply alcohol. I don’t recall it ever being an issue.

      Maybe being explicit on food/drink offerings would help? Eg “we’ll have crudités, cheese, mixed nuts, and chips, plus soft drinks and iced tea—feel free to bring any other food or drink you’d like”

    21. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

      I have like some bottles of wine, nearly all gifts, that I keep in reserve for guests. Sometimes they bring their own too as a hosting gift and that’s fine, I serve that.

  17. Falling Diphthong*

    Thanks to everyone who recommended New York City spots in the past few weeks. (I didn’t ask, but took copious notes as we were going at the end of January.) I particularly loved the smaller museums, where you can wander around and see everything in a few hours.

    The Met Cloisters: The Met gathered a bunch of medieval doorways, pillars, windows, etc, and then built a monastery using the pieces. Much more effective than putting the pieces under glass. Really captured the feeling of religious buildings I’ve toured in Europe.

    The Morgan Library: Great for book nerds.

    The NY Public Library: Has a small museum with delightful things, like the second copy of the Declaration of Independence, which was produced by a woman printer, and the original Winnie the Pooh toys.

    The Math Museum: Everything is interactive and encourages one to dive right in and start trying things. Spouse and I both have hard science degrees and had a wonderful time. So did the four year olds vigorously kicking the digital squares into boxes.

    1. Tiny Clay Insects*

      I recommend getting rijsttafel in Amsterdam at an Indonesian restaurant. my favorite place for it closed but I think the restaurant Kantijl & de Tijger is really good, too. You can get it vegetarian or vegan.

      I also recommend getting poffertjes (little tiny pancake-ish things, vegetarian but not vegan) at a place called The Pancake Club, which is near Vondelpark, an awesome enormous park.

      if you want to get tickets to the Anne Frank house, they will go on sale the first Tuesday of the month before you go. So September’s tickets go on sale the first Tuesday in August.

      And in London I really love getting hip Indian fusion at a place called Dishoom (there are a couple locations). And exploring the shops and foods at Camden Market is awesome.

      in Berlin, the DDR museum, about life before the wall fell, is incredibly well done. highly recommended.

      I have so many other thoughts and recommendations on these cities, so feel free to ask more!

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        I don’t recall the Pancake Club, and my hotel was near Vondelpark, but that’s probably just me.

        But also, near the Anne Frank house was a great little Pankoeken place as well.

  18. Beveled Edge*

    Removed, since the filter is set up that way for a reason and I don’t want people trying to circumvent the moderation rules! That said, sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to it; I can’t always figure out myself what made the moderation filter decide to hold something. – Alison

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve had a brief post about stewed prunes go to moderation; truly its desires are a mystery.

      Also one on cauliflower.

      1. Invisible fish*

        Yet continued proof that quite a bit of techy stuff can definitely be affected by ne’er do well entities!

  19. Florence Reese*

    I finally get to ask a travel question!!

    I’m visiting Europe with a friend in September. We’re going to be in London for 6 days, then take a train to Amsterdam for 5 days, then another train to Berlin for 5 days. I would love any tips, tricks, recommendations for any of those places! We’re both interested in museums, walking tours, music, and good food. I’m vegetarian/mostly-vegan so tips there are much appreciated but not required — my pal is a big foodie so he’ll love any recommendations.

    If this context helps, we’re staying in Kensington for London, and staying on the outskirts of Amsterdam and Berlin within walking distance to rail lines — about 25 min rides into the city centers for both. I think that should allow us pretty good accessibility but if that’s a terrible idea, please let me know lol.

    This is my first time leaving the US, and the first time I’m going further east than Texas. I’m stoked but a little overwhelmed, too! Thanks in advance for any advice :)

    1. Hola Playa*

      Quick question – are y’all spontaneous, figure it out the day or eve of kind of travellers, or more the planned and booked ahead type?

      1. Sage*

        Exciting! for London, places are better than they used to be about offering vegetarian/vegan options, but if you want to have options to choose from it’s worth planning ahead a bit. as a non-veggie with veggie friends, I like South Indian restaurants which usually offer a totally vegetarian menu with vegan options eg Sagar has a location in Covent Garden.

        agree with Cookies For Breakfast about Honey & Co! other food spots for if you’re nearby – Gelupo in Soho for gelato, Lina Stores (several locations) for pasta, Dishoom (several locations) for bacon naan roll for brunch for your friend, Fabrique for cardamom buns.

        museums wise, most museums are free for the permanent collections but since covid a lot have introduced booked time slots (still free!) so worth checking websites.

        the city of London has some free brochures for self-guided walking tours – I did one with my husband recently and it was fun – you can collect them from the tourist office near St Paul’s.

        If you’re interested in choral music, worth going to a service at Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s – if like me you’re more into the music than the religion, then evensong is a good option as it’s lots of music and not much talking! it also is a way to see the inside of the cathedrals without buying a ticket, although they don’t let you wander round.

        for public transport, download the citymapper app for planning your journeys. I think they have a Berlin version that I used a few years ago when visiting as well.

        any other London questions let me know!

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Another vote for Gelupo and Fabrique. I left them off my list to avoid it turning into a novel – I could talk food recommendations for hours.

          If you’re into Thai food, try Thai Metro on Charlotte street: the pad Thai and curries are brilliant, and good value for money if they still do their set lunch menu. For great Neapolitan pizza in a central location, I recommend Santa Maria or Fatto a Mano (the best pizza I ever had in London is in fact in my neighbourhood, but I doubt a tourist would be travelling this way). And if you’re big foodies, don’t miss out on Borough Market, but perhaps try to avoid Saturdays as crowds will be huge.

          Also, in Berlin, look up the Zeit für Brot bakery. Excellent, huge sweet buns, and really good bread.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you learned to play piano with Musio Clementi’s sonatinas, look for his grave at Westminster Abbey. He’s buried in the pathway of a cloister and I was stunned to look down.

          If you like stairs and small spaces and heights, try going up the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. (And consider downloading Firewatch to read in preparation, says the sf nerd.)

          The main building for Museum of London is closed during a move, but I have been reassured that its siblings are also stellar for history buffs—MOL Docklands and MOL archaeology.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      If you’re in London on a Saturday, have a look at Portobello Market in Notting Hill. I suggest walking there from Kensington via Holland Park, which is very pretty.

      If you happen to be in Notting Hill, stop at Lisboa Patisserie for authentic Portuguese custard tarts. The cafe is small and you might have to wait a while for a seat or get takeaway, but the pastries are wonderful and they serve the only good espresso I know of in London (controversial topic! I’m Italian and have a very specific idea of what I like).

      Look up Mildred’s for a good vegetarian restaurant, they have a few locations. I heard great things about Tofu Vegan too but haven’t been yet. In Central London, check out one of the Honey & Co restaurants and cafes for excellent Middle Eastern food and desserts, especially the babka.

      I’m no Amsterdam expert (only been once), but there are a few things I loved I want to share. The apple pie at Winkel 43; the Eye Film Museum; generally, hiring a bike for a day and cycling within and outside the city (we went to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills and it’s a very easy ride). In fact, these are all things I did on what I consider the best birthday I ever had.

      Have fun and I hope a little bit of this helps!

      1. NewYorksoon*

        yes seconding Mildred’s which has a few locations, and also their sister restaurant Mallow in Borough Market – I’m vegan but often take omnivores here and they have always been happy! You’ll need to book though. Tofu Vegan is also great – vegan Chinese. There’s another very good vegan Asian fusion restaurant called Plants of Roselyn by London Bridge. There are loads of vegan places in London, Happy Cow app is a good resource, but you can get vegan food in pretty much any restaurant now, and also the cheaper fast food places like Pret A Manger (fancy sandwiches, soup etc), Leon (burgers and bowls), Itsu (noodles etc).
        There is a company called London Walks which I highly recommend for walking tours, I’ve done quite a few, including one around Kensington.
        I suggest travelling around on buses rather than tube as much as you can, you’ll see a lot more of the city. There’s an app called Citymapper which is great for showing you public transport routes, it’s pretty reliable.
        A nice trip that I sometimes do with visitors is to get the Thames Clipper (Uber boat) out to Greenwich, where there are good shops and markets, and interesting history.
        Happy to try to answer specific questions if you like, in return for all the help I got from this site a couple of weeks ago about my upcoming New York trip!

      2. vegan velociraptor*

        Tofu Vegan is one of my favourite restaurants, full stop – it sounds like a bland vegan place, but it’s actually incredible vegan Chinese food. I also recommend Bubala for good vegetarian food with lots of vegan options. Itadaki Zen in Kings Cross is a lovely vegan Japanese restaurant.

    3. Magdalena*

      As someone who travelled to Amsterdam and Berlin by train last year my advice is to download a local train app for each country. Having one on my phone was very helpful when there was a weather event in mid-July (a one-day severe storm in The Netherlands) that caused a severe disruption with many trains being delayed for hours and then canceled (including all trips to and from Amsterdam Centraal. I was first notified by the app that my connecting train was canceled and could quickly check within the app which trains were still going so that we could make a plan B. Later in the year as I was traveling by train across Europe there was another weather mishap and dozens of long distance and local trains in Germany were canceled. I found a train to a smaller city that was roughly in the desired direction and bought a ticket in the app and stayed in a small hotel there then resumed my trip the next day when the tracks were repaired and the trains to X city resumed.
      I hugely enjoyed both trips but it’s good to be prepared.

      1. Phryne*

        yes, true. ns (dot) nl for the Dutch railroad and Bahn (dot) de for the German one (they have the site available in English). NS also gives some bus and tram info, the site for the Amsterdam local transport bus, tram, ferry and metro is gvb (dot) nl.

    4. Phryne*

      I am kind of wondering where in Amsterdam you are staying that is a 25 min train ride into the center, as 25 minutes by train will easily get you into the next town over!
      Anyway, Amsterdam has good public transport, look into buying an OV chipkaart. Is costs about €7,50 and then you have to put money on it to travel, but travelling with an OV card is much cheaper per journey so it might pay off depending on how much you use public transport.
      If you don’t mind paying a bit extra for good food, Choux on the De Ruijterkade is a very nice restaurant with both vegetarian and vegan options. If you have a specific restaurant in mind you went to go to, make reservations! Dutch restaurants work on a different system, often they do not expect a table to be used more than once or many twice an evening so waiting for a spot is not always possible.
      Most museums offer the option of buying digital tickets in advance online, a great way to skip the line.
      The Netherlands are a very digital country, you can do pretty much anything online. Payment is mainly by Debit card, although in Amsterdam a lot of places will take credit cards too (outside of Amsterdam less so). Cash is not always accepted everywhere, especially not at small venues.
      And do leave the touristy city centre. There is more to Amsterdam than the Dam and the Wallen. Museum Het Schip (the ship) is a nice little museum about the Amsterdamse school style of early twentieth century architecture you see a lot in the areas just outside the centre.
      Oh, and if you like beer, forget about the Heineken Experience (tourist trap), there are about 50 small local breweries, many with ‘proeflokaal’ (tasting rooms), al of whom will have better tasting beers (I can give you a link to a list of you like)

      1. Phryne*

        And in reply to another answer here, yes, cycling is a good way to get around Amsterdam, most locals do it, but please, only rent a bike if you are reasonably competent on it. You need not just ‘won’t fall over’ skill but ‘can navigate insanely busy narrow uneven paths while looking out for other cyclists, pedestrians and cars’. Cycling in Amsterdam is a challenge even for Dutch people who don’t live in one of the major towns, and tourist wobbling around on bikes are a serious hazard.
        And never, ever, step into a bike lane without looking very carefully. Cars and busses will brake, cyclists will not.

        1. Phryne*

          I just remembered, you can use a pay card for public transport now! I have a discount card so I don’t use this option myself, which is why I forgot. I looked it up and you can pay with an international debit or CC by Maestro, V PAY, Mastercard or Visa that has contactless pay ability.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Most museums offer the option of buying digital tickets in advance online, a great way to skip the line.

        Gosh, yes, this — I didn’t know that when I went to the Anne Frank house and stood in line for like three hours.

        1. Phryne*

          There is also a Museumkaart that you can buy and gives access to a lot of museums and you can skip the line. It is 75 euros, which is not cheap but it is valid for a year, its mostly meant for residents. Museums in the Netherlands are not very cheap. The Van Gogh is 20, Rijksmuseum 22,50, Anne Frank House 17,50 and the aforementioned Eye Film Museum 15. So if you really like museums and plan to visit a lot, it might be interesting. Not sure if 5 days is enough to make it worth it.
          Berlin also has a card like this, for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Not sure what that one costs nowadays though. But might be interesting to look into.

          1. Magdalena*

            I have bought the paper (preliminary) Museumkaart which is valid for five entries and which you can exchange for a plastic card one which they ship to your address within one to two weeks.
            Meaning that unless you are staying for long or plan to return, you will likely only get the five entries.
            I had mine shipped to my home address so I can technically use it throughout the year but I’m back home and vaguely planning on going back before it expires.

        2. Magdalena*

          Amsterdam and museum tickets: be aware that certain museums sell out months in advance.
          We wanted to be flexible so only purchased the Rijksmuseum tickets in advance but it meant we couldn’t visit the Anne Frank house or the Van Gogh Museum at all. But we loved the Stedelijk Museum that we bought tickets to online on our phones the day of, and the Moco Museum (very pricey and super crowded but was an interesting experience, the next time I’d check out less popular hours) and we we visited the map Museum several times.

    5. Berlin*

      The Pergamon museum in Berlin is my go to recommendation. All of museum island is wonderful, too much to see, so it depends on your interests. But if you had to pick one, it would be the Pergamon!

      Brandenburg Gate is fun. Checkpoint Charlie is a tourist trap, I’d skip unless you like that kind of stuff. There are better museums that get in to the why’s and how’s with real stuff. The Berlin wall has some great art on it and information, too. Schloss Charlottenburg is beautiful, but I truly enjoy San Souci in Potsdam a smidge more. (Here’s a plug for Potsdam in general, it is lovely and more manageable than Berlin, and also an easy day trip.)

      If you have kids, or just like that king of stuff, the technology museum and the museum of natural history are AMAZING.

      Berlin is great for hole-in-the-wall vegan places. Lots of fancier places will have a vegan option. Online reviews are your friend. You can travel for hours inside Berlin on public transit, so I’d be sure to check distance before you go.

      Have a great time!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I agree with all of the above. I also found the DDR Museum interesting – about daily life in East Germany, not the jumpy-dancy game :)

        I did a free (tip-your-guide type) walking tour that was a couple hours and hit on some of the city memorials, the underground bookcases and the stelae of the Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe, as well as pointing out some other sights that folks might be interested in as follow-ups. Generally this type of tour, while (usually) good on its own, is also a sort of “loss leader” because they also do other more specific walking tours that they actually charge for, but in my experience those can also be worthwhile. Mine a few years ago was through Sandemans, and looking at their Berlin website now, they actually have a variety of free-plus-tips options to choose from, including one specific to Museum Island.

      2. Berlin*

        Had some food ideas:
        Very berlin foods include the street food Currywurst (some spots have this in vegan or vegetarian) and Döner, which was invented there. Also, the restaurant Max und Moritz has all the traditional Berlin food but is not so good for vegan (the Spätzle is delicious and vegetarian, though).

      3. Berlin*

        Either my comment got eaten or it is in moderation at the moment. Just in case it is the former, here goes:
        I had some more ideas about food! Truly Berlin food would be Currywurst (veggie and vegan versions exist, but not everywhere), Döner (exported everywhere now, but fusion cuisine invented in Berlin), and for more traditional restaurant fare my recommendation is Max und Moritz. That last one isn’t great on vegan, but their Spätzle is wonderful and veggie.

      4. partially a ghost*

        Seconding Potsdam. I went there for a day trip, and it was ever so lovely.

        In Berlin, DDR museum and the communication museum are both very interactive and informative. I also wandered into a couple of random little museums I noticed when I was wandering around, they were delightful but I can’t remember names. Would 100% recommend setting aside time to just wander and linger in intersting places you encounter along the way.

      5. Phryne*

        Potsdam is lovely. I lived in Berlin for a couple of months in the early 2000s as a student. I would use my free transport pass to go to Potsdam and walk in the royal parks, bring a sandwich and picnic on the grass under the trees with a book. So nice.

      6. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        Seconding the Pergamon. It’s stunning.
        There’s also a good Ancient Egyptian one pretty much next door.
        DDR has a nice focus on every day life with lots of objects and even a period living room that you can walk into.
        I would add the Ethnologisches Museum in Dahlem.
        Berlin has tons of veggie restaurants, especially in Kreuzberg. You could basically walk the neighborhood and pick one.
        Germany got a lot better for us veggie folks in the last few years and Berlin has always been the trailblazer

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      The Kroller-Muller Gallery outside Amsterdam (lots of Van Gogh) is in the middle of a lovely national park that rents bikes. If you want a change of pace from cities.

      1. Phryne*

        That is what we in the Netherlands would call a loooong way from Amsterdam, but I guess for someone used to US distances it is not that far… It is not super easy to reach by public transport though. It is a beautiful museum though, with a wonderful art garden.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      We were just in Amsterdam last year and our favorite things were:
      Hungry Bird Food Tour
      Staadt museum of street art
      We went to a pretty tasty vegan brewery- but I can’t remember the name. We walked from The Pijp there.

    8. Lilo*

      I have family outside of Amsterdam (which means I know places to take young kids, I guess). My tip for Amsterdam is actually walk away from city central (near the train station). It’s just full of British stag dos. Being on the outskirts isn’t a bad thing at all. If you’re there on a weekend, see if one of the smaller areas has a weekend market and try the cheese and stuff like fresh stroopwafel.

    9. Bagpuss*

      for London- Mildred’s is a very long established vegetarian restaurant (now has 4 or 5 locations) very nice but may want to book ahead.

      Monica Galetti’s restaurant, Mere, on Charlotte Street is wonderful. they offer a full vegetarian tasting menu as well as the omnivore one (and have good options on the a la carte menu)

    10. Pharmgirl*

      I highly recommend the visit a city app! It’s free and will make up an itinerary for you, as packed or relaxed as you want for as many days as you want. It includes how to get from each place to the next. You can search any address (restaurants for ex) to add to your itinerary, doesn’t just have to be tourist attractions.

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

      Many years since I’ve been in London, but I really liked seeing Churchill’s War Rooms (part of the Imperial War Museums) — they’ve got his actual underground bunker preserved just as it was. It’s like stepping into the 1940s. And I enjoyed the British Museum — I walked in and was like, hey, that thing looks just like the Rosetta stone. And lo and behold it was the Rosetta stone!

    12. Pam Adams*

      My travel rule is do no more than two things per day. A museum in the morning and a play in the evening means an afternoon of relaxing with a book or a nap. luckily, people-watching with a cup of tea counts as relaxing.

    13. Florence Reese*

      Oh my goodness, I’ve only skimmed and have lots of reading to do but you all gave awesome tips. I’m blown away. Thank you SO MUCH! All the details about tickets and restaurant reservations and transit apps were a big question mark in my mind, I’m enormously grateful for how specific and helpful y’all are.

      Thank you, thank you!!!

      1. Magdalena*

        I wrote another caveat about museum tickets but it’s either been eaten or in moderation and will show up later, but for Amsterdam check out the museum websites beforehand to at least be aware which ones sell out early and need to be purchased weeks to months in advance. For example, Anne F house, or the Van Gogh Museum.

    14. Silent E*

      There was also an Amsterdam thread in the Weekend Open Thread on May 20-21, 2023.
      Some of my suggestions for Amsterdam from there:
      Food: try a rijsttafel. Those usually require a min of 2 people. Kantjil en de Tijger is a great place for that, and offers a vegan one! If you are going to the Anne Frank House, try a Dutch pancake at the Pancake Bakery on the Prinsengracht nearby; savory and sweet are both delicious – link in reply. You and your friend might want to check out a neighborhood snack bar (away from the touristy areas) and try Belgian fries with frites saus and other dips, (and for your friend) shoarma/shwarma, and a kroket with veal, but skip the burgers. Febo is a popular chain, but the small independent snack bars are often better quality.
      Do you and your friend like cats? Amsterdam has a cat sanctuary on a houseboat. I’ll post a link in a reply. They are open very limited hours, though.
      A tasting room recommendation if you are interested: Het Arendsnest. Link in reply.

    15. anxiousGrad*

      Bring a water bottle. In Amsterdam they charge you for any water you drink in a restaurant (no free tap water option). In London I remember it was hard to find places where I could refill my water bottle for free, which was annoying.

  20. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

    I want to thank everyone who recommended Murderbot Diaries in the open thread three weeks ago! I devoured the first six books in a week and had to limit myself to a chapter every other day on the seventh book because I’m going to be crushed when I run out of Murderbot.

    1. MaxKitty*

      It was announced in December that Murderbot is coming to AppleTV+. We’re crossing our fingers they do right by the books. Apparently Martha Wells is involved so that’s a good sign.

      1. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

        Oh my goodness this brings me so much joy! Plus if will be nice to have at least one show I can trust won’t turn into unnecessary romance or play a will they/won’t they with main characters.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      This is on my list to read! I just finished Wayward Pines and need something in the same realm and I hope it delights me.

  21. virtualtraveller*

    hi, I was wondering if there are any people here who used to use the virtual travel Heygo, and know of any alternatives? I miss it so much! It was a pandemic thing to start with, tour guides from around the world live streamed their tours on the site, it was amazing. It was tip-based though, and I think a lot of people didn’t tip, so when after the pandemic there were fewer “travellers” they couldn’t keep it going. Anyone know of anything similar? I’d happily pay, I always tipped the Heygo guides.

    1. Angstrom*

      iFit has virtual guided walking tours for treadmills, and Peloton has virtual guided tours for bikes.

  22. Perpetua*

    Talk to me about closets in your rental apartments! What are your IKEA favorites?

    We don’t want to invest in something more elaborate and expensive, but we also don’t want to live with clothes racks for however long we stay in this apartment (which might be 1-2-3 years or longer, we don’t really know, although currently we’re expecting 1-2 years).

    1. DistantAudacity*

      I have both Platsa and Pax closets! I am very pkeased with the combinations, and the different organizers that can be used to manage the spaces sensibly. I especially like the hooks you can get for the side interior wall of the closet, sort of at level to where your hanging rod is.

      Top tip to personalize a bit is to paint closet and drawer doors in a colour that you like, or that blends in. Just remember to use a super sticky type paint primer that works on plasticky surfaces (i.e. extra grip).

      1. DistantAudacity*

        The Pax is a lot sturdier and has more flexibility and variety in solutions, but is also more expensive. They modules do have different base size widths (50cm/100cm vs 60cm).

        Honestly, the Platsa is not super sturdy, but if it is going in a place where it won’t be bumped into or drawers slammed it’s fine. It was also a much easier job to build, reflecting the simpler comstruction overall. It also has a top cabinet, so that you can utilise a bigger height.

        Ikea hack: The Pax does not have a top cabinet but I got a handyman to chop a “full”Pax cabinet in two and plonk it on top of a regular one, so that I got space all the way up to the ceiling (an additional 55-60cm). He also cut down an extra pair of closet doors for me, so that they fit (I painted all the closet doors anyway).

        1. Perpetua*

          Thank you for this, we just went to IKEA today to get some inspiration and see things in person and we were leaning towards Platsa, and your experience seems in line with what we expect. The extra cost for Pax does not seem worth it in our set of circumstances, and simpler construction sounds like a big bonus! Which is also why, while I appreciate the customization by painting tip, it will not be happening here – neither of us are really handy/crafty people (in the furniture sense), and with one preschooler and another baby on the way, simplicity is really what we need. :D

          And thank you for mentioning the top cabinet, somehow I did not register that option, but we might make great use of it. Thanks!

    2. Janne*

      I have a Pax closet and Nordli dresser. I’m really happy with the Nordli dresser: it’s insanely sturdy and stores lots of things. The Pax closet is “meh” – it does its job but it’s not as sturdy and not as efficient (both of which I could be blamed for). It was hard to get the Pax closet level (and my floor isn’t that much off), so it’s still a bit wobbly, but to relevel it we would have to take apart the drawers inside the closet which is a hassle. Assembling those drawers was also a hassle — the guide didn’t clearly specify in which holes the drawer guides need to go and then we put them one hole too low, only finding out when the bottom drawer just couldn’t close. I think I would go for an easier closet next time, one that isn’t customizable so that the assembly guide is easier to follow.

  23. JustForThis*

    Does anyone here watch Actual Play series? Critical Role may be the most famous one; I’ve recently fallen in love with Dimension 20 (Fantasy High, A Court of Fey and Flowers, Mentopolis, Misfits and Magic etc.) and am deeply impressed by the perfect mix of top-notch plots, character arcs, emotional moments, and hilarity. What a great new genre!

    1. Goosie*

      I love D20! Fantasy High freshman and sophomore year is single-handedly the most satisfying media experience I’ve ever had in terms of plot progression and character growth.

    2. the tumpet*

      I don’t have the time for it as much anymore, but season 1 of Critical Role is one of my favorite pieces of media. I also deeply adore The Unsleeping City season 1 (haven’t finished season 2 due to aforementioned time constraints). It’s seriously incredible what people can do with improv and a table grid.

    3. Shiara*

      I’m about five episodes behind on critical role and have only dabbled in Dimension 20 and Worlds beyond number(Brennan Lee Mulligan and several friends audio only campaign). The emergent stories are very engaging, but it’s such a long form medium that fitting it in is challenging.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      I admire your willingness to dive in. Four-hours-per-episode is my media consumption budget for the week. I can’t imagine watching other people play D&D for that long.

  24. Pocket Mouse*

    Let’s say a friend appears in a (non-sexual, non-awful) dream. Do you tell them about it? What are some dreams you’ve enjoyed telling a friend they were in, or were told by a friend you were in?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If I remember long enough, I probably do tell them. One of my favorites was that I dreamed that I was meeting a couple of friends at a bar for a drink (I mostly don’t) and when I got there, my friends were being played by Liam Neeson and Christina Hendricks, and they were super noir-ed out in wardrobe, and the only color in the scene was her BRIGHT RED lipstick. So the whole thing was like a Humphrey Bogart movie. And the kicker is, I’m aphantasic and don’t dream with visuals, so I didn’t SEE any of this, I just woke up knowing that’s what happened. So I definitely told those two about it, and they thought it was a hoot.

      1. The bean moves on*

        Weird derailment, but I have aphantasia too and dreaming is the only time I see images.

    2. Maleficent2026*

      Depends on how close I am to said friend. Once, I had a dream that my husband and I were moving into my best friend’s parent’s house. My friend’s special needs daughter was having mini tantrums about where we were putting things, because that is NOT how Mawmaw and Pawpaw put things, and we needed to stop before we got in trouble. On my way to work the next morning, I called my friend and told her all about it. We both laughed and thought it was hilarious. Fast forward two months and best friend’s parents are (reluctantly) having to sell their house. My friend tells her parents about my dream and they love the idea of me and my husband buying their house. They say that if we agree to buy it, they’ll sell it for just what they owe on the mortgage. So that’s how we got a 70% discount on our home price.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think these often hit oddly because to the dreamer, it’s like it happened and they’re remembering a thing their friend did. While to the friend it can feel like they’re being asked to weigh in on stuff they did in the alternate universe of their friend’s subconscious.

      1. lonely toad*

        Agreed. My friend told me I was in her dream this week, and I … didn’t know what to do with that info. I did a funny over-the-top faux-apology – to make her laugh – but it was still weird.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        How would/do you feel about dreams where the topic isn’t really something you did, like “I had a dream we were hanging out at the beach, it was really nice and made me happy because it was like I got to spend time with you”?

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Or worse, they did something awful in the dream and feel like they have to apologize!

        Husband has occasionally acted not up to snuff in my subconscious and I have to remind myself he didn’t ACTUALLY do anything.

    4. fposte*

      I had a dream that a friend of mine’s son was a baby, but since in real life he’s a teenager I was a little distressed in the dream thinking that here was a serious medical problem and it needed to be addressed! We’re good friends and I was pretty sure this dream was related to feeling bad that I didn’t remember his actual age and nothing deeper than that, so I did tell her. She thought it was funny.

    5. Generic Name*

      I told a coworker, who is also a friend, that she was in my dream recently. It was an amusing set of circumstances, and she thought it was hilarious when I told her. I messaged her about it on Teams while we were talking about a work thing.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      If I remember and it’s not dull, I do. And I love when my friends tell me about dreams I appear in.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I might if I can remember it! I hardly ever see people I know “in life” in my dreams–most of them are stress related and involve trying to get home on a series of busses or trying to find a shower/bathroom.

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      My go to is, “You showed up in a dream last night. I don’t think it ‘means’ anything, but I’ll take it as an excuse to reach out and say hello.”

  25. YahYahYah*

    My home is underwater from a massive water leak and I am trying to stay positive. Two of the ceilings are down and everything is water-logged or lightly damp from the humidity inside. Leak has been fixed and power is shut off, and it’s a house with concrete floors/no crawl spaces. For anyone who has dealt with this, what were the steps involved? My homeowner’s insurance is unlikely to cover it as I was on vacation when it happened (yes, a very expensive lesson learned). I have a friendly contractor but the scale of this is overwhelming and doom scrolling google hits on mold and flooding is making me want to throw the key in the mailbox and never look back. There seems to be very little out there in terms of guidance from people who’ve actually been through it so here I am. Thanks in advance.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Did you call your insurance? Homeowners insurance generally covers damage due to broken pipes if their collapse is sudden and unforeseen. Water damage that occurs gradually due to a leaky or rusty pipe, however, is generally not covered.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes, call your insurance FIRST THING and know what’s covered and what isn’t. I don’t see how being on vacation voids your policy unless you left all the taps running or something.

    2. BellaStella*

      Well my neighbour flooded our three story building recently and she is on the top floorm then me, then neighbour. So….
      1. Water needs to be removed from walls, floors and subfloors and ceilings. This was done with massive de humidifer machines and fans. for 2 months. costly so got the management firm to pay electricity. kept windows open a lot even on very cold days, and got also my own personal de humidifer for my place too. Get an electrician to certfy the electrical before you do anything and test it with them there.
      2. any tile or flooring or baseboards should be removed and redone if water got behind them. there was mold in a week under baseboards here and I freaked out. once dry and cleaned and bleached and the walls etc were dry they re did the baseboards and tile.
      3. buy some wine.
      4. keep air flow in your place at all times. I sleep even now with windows open a bit an a fan on.
      5. I am also moving this week after 7 weeks of this mess. Also the neighbour never said sorry tho it was her fault (left her tub running water went thru all the walls and electrical outlets, etc). she has also been a noise nuisance so yeah. glad to be moving.

    3. BellaStella*

      oh and on the insurance, I am sorry. Her insurance and the building owner are charged top pay this not any of us. sending some positive vibes to you.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Archivist trick for wet books & paper: stabilize them quickly by putting them into the freezer.

      (During catastrophic floods of Florence in the 20th c, restaurants turned over their freezers to the great libraries to help save treasures.)

      Unfortunately I learned the hard way that this doesn’t work well with glossy books —I had a lot of pages stick together after a basement flood. Paperbacks did fine except for covers.

      I can’t find the link I had to a website written during/after Hurricane Katrina aimed at helping artists salvage their wet artwork, but I did re-discover this one:
      https://www.archives.gov/preservation/conservation/flood-damage.html

    5. Not A Manager*

      Do you know for sure homeowner’s won’t pay for any of this? Tbh I’m a little puzzled as to why it matters whether you were on vacation or not. Going on vacation isn’t a negligent or unusual thing to do.

      1. YahYahYah*

        There’s a condition of the policy that water is shut off at the valve if leaving the home for 7 days or more and I honestly just forgot to do it. At the moment they are working with me but I have a feeling once the write up comes that the leak was avoidable if I had shut off the valve I suspect they’ll bow out.

        1. Peace frog*

          Wow that’s awful. I couldn’t meet those requirements since I have pets, though I guess the daily pet sitter would notice an issue anyway.

    6. MMB*

      We just dealt with this.

      1. Talk to the insurance company. That’s what your coverage is for and despite all of the horror stories you hear many times it’s covered. In our case we simply had to pay a higher deductible – which is awesome because our costs ran about $92,000.

      2. Every flood situation is a little different depending on the construction of the house, type of water (grey vs. clean), areas affected etc., so I won’t give any other specific advice except get bids and don’t let anyone scare you into a hasty decision.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If you had moved out and not told them, they likely wouldn’t cover it. But vacation shouldn’t make a difference. Call them!

      There are companies that specialize in water damage cleanup / remediation, which you will need before the contractor starts. That’s the missing link to prevent mold from setting in.

      I’m really sorry this happened and hope everything goes as smoothly as possible.

    8. I just really can’t think of a name*

      I agree with starting with your insurance company. They should cover this! We had a different kind of disaster, but had a really good experience with Servpro. I believe they’re all independent franchises, so ask for local recommendations – but we found benefit in going with someone who focuses specifically on disaster remediation.

    9. And thanks for the coffee*

      Have had a flood due to a trickle in an upstairs bathtub (somehow the tub was plugged, but don’t recall details). Water went through the floor, ceilings, and down to the basement. A call to our insurance agent led to a recommendation for catastrophe cleaners. They came in and sucked up water and set up huge fans to help dry the house. After a few days it smelled like sewage-I’m guessing from whatever dirt was in the carpets. We were advised to leave enough time for the house to dry out before beginning renovations. Fortunately it was winter so the house was dryer than it would have been in the summer.

      After drying out, our insurance managed much of the work that needed to be done. Half the kitchen ceiling needed replacement, including the ceiling light fixture. Painting was needed in much for the first floor and carpet cleaning was needed in the first floor and basement.

      Our home insurance covered all of this, we just had to pay our deductible. Getting the professional cleaners to our home within hours of the discovery of the flood was, I think, critical.

      Our loss of stuff, e.g., furniture and household items was minimal due to dumb luck in how the water drained through the house.

      Several years later our insurance replaced our roof and siding due to a hail storm. We really used our home insurance. Farmers insurance, in case you’re wondering. This was 20+years ago.

      Good Luck.

    10. Generic Name*

      Regardless of what your situation with insurance is, you need to contact a water restoration contractor immediately. They will come in and tear out the waterlogged drywall and set up fans and dehumidifiers. Otherwise, you risk further damage to your home from a mold infestation. Once everything is dry, then you can rebuild.

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

      If there are painted walls that need to be worked on or replaced and you think you might have lead paint, maybe get a home inspector to come and identify where there’s lead paint so that you can find a contractor who’s certified in dealing with lead paint safely to minimize lead dust flying around while they’re working and after they’re done.

    12. H*w's it g*ing?*

      I don’t have advice for insurance and contractors, but I know about mold. I inherited a house with mold from a flooded hot water tank that was left to sit for weeks. My situation is a bit different because the house still isn’t put back together yet! And we did it ourselves, no contractor (yet). However, I can say that there is no mold left because I’ve had the luxury of being able to leave the house torn apart for a year (no one’s living there) and no growth has come back. We ripped out all drywall in the affected areas. Where there was mold growing on the stud walls and concrete, we sprayed various things to kill it, but none worked as well as Awesome Concentrate Cleaner (sprayed undiluted) from Dollar General, which we kind of discovered by accident, as it’s not advertised to kill mold. Paper things that didn’t get wet but still smelled moldy, I spread out on wire racks in the garage, where every side of them could get air. Some of them I left to air for months, and evenutally they stopped smelling like mold.

    13. Shiny Penny*

      Two things: Don’t apply heat thinking it will help dry things out. Instead, use fans and dehumidifiers (as many as possible ) to move and dry the air. Hiring a disaster cleaning service seems like a smart way to go, and will likely dry everything fastest (speed is essential).
      Second, google “public insurance adjuster.” I have no personal experience with them, but apparently a good one can really help get your insurance to do better by you. (Public insurance adjusters work for YOU, not your insurance company.)
      Also, so very sorry this happened!

  26. Myrin*

    I have a potentially super weird question of practicality:

    For the first time ever, I’m living completely alone, meaning that when I go out, I always need to bring a key with me. Once it starts getting warmer, I want to take up jogging again, but – where do I put my key??

    Some – but not all – of my sporty clothes have pockets, and none of those have zippers or buttons so I fear I’ll just lose anything in there during running. I absolutely hate bum bags and refuse to get one just for this. How are people doing this?

    1. BellaStella*

      I either knot it in my shoelace and tuck into the tongue, or in a zipped pocket on a light jacket. Also there are arm bands to put phone into too that work for a key as well as the phone.

    2. Sage*

      I’m not a jogger but see people out with armbands for their phones – assume you could use something similar for keys! or, if you own the property/are able to make alterations and there’s a discreet place to put it – you could install a key safe outside.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t trust those outdoor fake rock things. They’re so obvious. Although I did go through a period where I was locking myself out of my old house, so I stuck an extra key inside a stump in the *fenced* backyard.

        1. Nola Sue*

          Key safes require a code to open and you can either mount them to a wall or porch railing or attach them via a metal padlock type loop. They’re a lot more secure than a fake rock. Real estate agents often use them to make it easier for non-listing agents to show a house.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Same—and it’s definitely simplified how to carry keys when I’m just going out for a walk—I don’t!

      2. Sitting Pretty*

        Came here to say this. It is so great for being able to pop out for walks and runs without carrying anything. Also, sharing the combo with a neighbor when I’m on vacation and they’re watering the plants is much easier than chasing down keys (and most allow you to create new codes and delete old ones)

    3. Abroad*

      My husband has a wrist bracelet thing with a keychain ring on it. If it is properly sized, it doesn’t fall off and he would notice anyhow. I think he often holds the key in his hand to prevent jangling, but I’ve seen versions that are just little pockets, or where it stays strapped flush to the wrist.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My keys are on a lariat (with breakaway because I am sometimes around machinery).

      My teenager has a retractable clip-on keychain.

      When I bought my safety-light belt, I think I saw one with a pocket for credit cards and keys. (I refuse to buy pants without pockets so I was paying more attention to rechargeable lamps.)

    5. ThatGirl*

      Safety pin is your friend if you’re afraid of losing it. Stick it inside your waistband or at the bottom of your shirt. Tucked in your shoe is another option. Or if you are taking your phone with an armband, many of those have small pockets.

    6. Angstrom*

      My individual keys are easy to remove from my keyring. I wear an ID tag(dog tag) when out exercising, and the one key goes on that chain.
      I’ve seen key pockets that attach to the laces of running shoes.
      A lot of running shorts have a key pocket inside the waistband.

      1. Janne*

        Similarly, I have a small fanny pack for running. It holds my keys, phone, ID/bank/transit cards, and some small snacks (like an energy bar). I got it at Decathlon for like €12.

        (Don’t forget to bring ID with you on a run, in case something happens!)

    7. BlueCactus*

      I tie mine in my shoelace – the key is to take the lace out of the last hole in your shoe, thread the key on, and then replace the lace. This way the key won’t fall out if your shoes come untied.

      1. trust me I'm a PhD*

        I also lace mine in the shoe and don’t bother taking the lace out of the last hole –– I simply thread the lace through a hole in the key, tuck the key part of the key under the shoelaces further down near my toes, so it stays down, flat against the top of my foot, and then tie my shoes like normal. I’ve been running for more than a decade and the key has never come out.

    8. Water Everywhere*

      When I don’t have secure pockets I’ll put my house key on a small carabiner and clip that around a bra strap.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I don’t like the way arm bands feel, so if it is too hot for anything with pockets, I tie the key on my shoe.

      I have tried the smooth waistband kind of thing – not a full on bumbag, but a flat stretchy belt like a Flipbelt. They’re okay if I want to bring my phone but kind of overkill for just a house key.

    10. Samwise*

      Lanyard. If you’re running, lanyard and a big safety pin so the key doesn’t bonk against you.

      And make sure a friend or neighbor has a key, in case you lose it

    11. Anon Poster*

      My solution to this was to get a new phone case, one of those that has an opening in the back to hold your ID and a credit card. I just put the key in there. And I actually ended up loving being able to use the phone case to actually hold the ID/ card and head off to the store without a purse or even a wallet sometimes. As a woman with a giant purse full of crap, it’s a very freeing feeling.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      A single key on a key ring (only the metal ring).

      You can slip the ring on a finger and hold the key in your hand, tie the key ring to drawstring waist band or to your shoe laces.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      One year a relative gave everyone these little zippered belt things for Christmas and I thought they were weird but discovered they’re really great for this kind of thing. Some googling says if you look for a “running belt” you’ll find them – it’s basically a fanny pack without the pack. Lies flat against your body and most of the belt is a narrow pouch with a zipper and you can slip in a key/ID without it bulging out. I use it for walking when it’s too warm for a jacket because none of my athletic pants have pockets and I can juuuust squeeze my phone in.

    14. Ellis Bell*

      Running belts and leggings which have key pockets, or there’s a wristlets. The most recommended running belt on AmazonUK is one I wear to work every day (it does like a teeny bit like a bumbag when my huge phone is in it but without it it’s a totally flat Obi style belt.) It has a little clip inside the key pocket to secure a key, but it’s so tight it’s secure anyway. But if I’m in casual clothes, I have one pair of leggings which have a tiny zipped key pocket in the small of my back, (this is useful even for stuff like gardening out front), and another pair of leggings has a super slim slot pocket for a key, with the opening in the waist band (as well as thigh pockets for phones et al). It’s so small and vertical a key would never jump out. Wristlets are also pretty cool for this. The wristlets I like best have gone bust, but theres a good choice out there. Lots of sports brands sell clothes with key pockets, so it’s worth an internet search or frisking the sports racks to look for one.

    15. Pharmgirl*

      Are you okay with a running belt? They’re pretty flat and will probably sit under your shirt or jacket.

    16. Myrin*

      Thanks everyone for the many excellent suggestions! I’ll already know I’ll be trying several of these and see which I feel most comofrtable with!

    17. Mostly a lurker*

      I have a RoadID shoe pouch. Great for holding things like keys, and less floppy than tying the key directly to the laces (which is what I used to do, because I also dislike running with belts or armbands, no matter how small). I’ve had mine for 15 years or so so not sure if they still make those.

    18. Kay*

      What kind of unsecured pocket? Lots of workout clothing is designed with a key pocket, and unless you are wearing some really baggy clothing or have a really weird key, it shouldn’t fall out (it never has for me). If you wear a sports bra you can tuck it in there.

    19. The OG Sleepless*

      Leggings with long pockets on the legs are amazing, for a key or your phone. The armband things drove me absolutely crazy.

    20. Citric Zinger*

      I loop the O ring over my pointer finger, and carry it in my clenched fist! I occassionally swap hands during a run. That way, I will know if I’ve dropped it (i.e. if I stack it) vs losing it off my shoe. My hands feel empty without it.

      1. Janne*

        But it’d be better if you didn’t clench your hands while running. You’re tensing up needlessly. Your hands shouldn’t be so relaxed that they flop around of course, and the same goes for the rest of your arms and shoulders, but on the other hand it’s a waste of energy to clench and tense up your hands, arms and shoulders. :)

    21. Observer*

      Some – but not all – of my sporty clothes have pockets, and none of those have zippers or buttons so I fear I’ll just lose anything in there during running.

      For the pockets, you can often put a snap in the closure which makes it a lot harder for something to fly out. For the stuff that doesn’t have pockets, do you have a belt? Or a top and bottom (eg T-shirt and jeans) with a waistband that will stay put? In that case, a wallet / purse on a belt clip works pretty well.

      Worst case, you can get a wallet on a long strap to wear. You want long because you want to sling it cross body, not over your shoulder.

    22. manders*

      I put mine in what my friend refers to as “grandma’s handbag” – my sports bra. Works great, but is a bit weird when I have to dig it out when I get home :)

  27. Mrs. Thom Yorke*

    Hi everyone, my husband and I are going to London in March to see the band The Smile. Any ideas for suggestions for things to do at that time-special events, etc.? We have been before, so we have seen all the tourist sites, but it’s been quite a while since we have been there.Thsnks!

  28. tiredlibrarian*

    Help please! Trying to figure out Medicare for my mom – are there any “dummy’s guide to medicare” resources? She’s already applied but the quick review I did on the Medicare site about part a/b/d just confused me – you can get a/b direct or you can get a plan on the marketplace that includes a/b/d?

    Appreciate any pointers or resources!

    1. Sophe*

      I am about a year away from signing up for Medicare and I have found the AARP site (aarp.org) to be helpful. “Medicare” is one of the topics in the top nav bar.

    2. sagewhiz*

      Google “medicare insurance agents near me.” My CPA recommended one and what a godsend! They sort through all the plans, suggest the one(s) best for a recipient’s needs. Free to you, as their commission comes from the ins co you go with.

    3. WellRed*

      Straight Medicare is administered by the govt while Medicare Advantage plans are through commercial insurers. They may have more bells and whistles but they don’t always follow Medicare guidelines though they are supposed to. Many people have a supplemental plan for say, part d which is drugs. Agree with all the other advice.

      1. intothesarchasm*

        Agree, Medicare Advantage are required to cover what traditional Medicare covers and they can offer more which they do to get people to sign up. I work on the provider side and we are seeing an uptick in them not providing coverage or only doing so after difficulty. I am not bashing them but there is some stuff happening.

    4. Medicare Advantage or Medicare?*

      AARP is probably a good bet. I am years away from needing to know this, but I will say I have seen LOTS of articles about problems with Medicare Advantage plans. That said, my dad had one, and I dealt with the bills from his final hospital and rehab/nursing home stays and his yearly deductible was only $2,500. As far as I can tell, his MA plan worked well for him, but maybe because we live in a metro area with lots of hospitals and medical providers, IDK. And I’ve seen references to if you choose a MA plan and later want to switch to Medicare, it’s sometimes not allowed, so that’s something to be aware of.

      1. Medicare Advantage or Medicare?*

        I meant to point out that my dad’s MA plan covered everything, but for his deductible.

        1. fposte*

          I think there probably are good MA plans but that the marketplace is flooded with profit seekers, and your state probably matters in there too because of state regulation. So I wouldn’t think of it so much as Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap as *this* MA plan vs. *this* Medigap plan. And make sure you know the rules and prospects (it’s not justif you’re allowed to, it’s if a plan is likely to have you) about switching between the two.

      2. Chaordic One*

        My dad had problems with his MA plan. It looked good on paper, but when he needed to spend time in a rehab center, there were a limited number of centers in my area that accepted his plan and all of the best ones were full. He ended up going to a center where the physical therapy he received was fine, but the care was, well… substandard. There was lots of turnover among staff, and frequently they had to use staff from various temp agencies. He had long waits for things like getting help to go to the restroom. He needed to take meds and sometimes either his morning or evening meds would be overlooked and he’d do without. The food was lousy. (They were routinely out of common things like orange juice or black tea for days on end.) I ended up taking a lot of time off from work so I could stay with him while he was in the center because I didn’t feel like he could count on the center giving him the care he needed when he needed it. I often slept in a chair beside his bed overnight. It was a depressing place and I would describe the decor as low-rent trashy Addams Family with everything purchased from dollar stores and Big Lots. Once you’re enrolled in an MA plan, you’re kind of stuck and maybe you might be able to find another different MA plan, but you can’t go back to plain Medicare.

    5. Washi*

      Look up her state + state health insurance program (SHIP) counselor. I believe each state has people you can set up an appointment with to go over the options for the specific situation.

      1. Kathenus*

        Concur with Washi – I just spent months helping my brother learn the Medicare ins and outs, I (only somewhat) jokingly think I could be one of those advisers by now. The great thing with SHIP is they are not trying to sell you anything, their goal is just to help advise you about the options.

    6. MissB*

      I’m very much against Medicare Advantage plans. For some folks, they do make financial sense. But you’re limiting yourself in some ways that may not be readily apparent.

      If I develop some weird cancer and have traditional Medicare, then I can fly off to Johns Hopkins and get treatment. If I have Medicare Advantage, I may not be able to do that – it seems to be much more managed care. But if I have Medicare Advantage, my plan may give me $150-$200 a month to spend at a Walgreens. Is it worth it?

      When my mom fell down and spent a week on her bathroom floor, her subsequent hospital stay was covered by her Medicare Advantage plan. She was kicked out at some point – we had to pick her up that day, else they’d start charging her – and when I went to pick her up, she was barely ambulatory. She was super weak, and probably should’ve gone to a rehab facility. But her Medicare Advantage plan called it good, and sent her on her way.

      You can choose to go back to traditional Medicare if you start on Medicare Advantage, but it’s going to be financially painful to do so. DH and I will have the financial ability to take traditional Medicare, but there is a place currently for Medicare Advantage plans. I just don’t like them.

    7. Shiny Penny*

      Had to try to help my Mom do this in the past. A huge thing is that all the data can be different depending on what state you are in! So the informative you-tubes on Medicare may be inaccurate for your state!
      In our state (WA) you can go back and forth between Medicare Advantage plans and regular Medicare, but in some states you can only choose once and then you are committed!
      Most people we know found one of the advisors that other posters are mentioning, and then spent hours trying to figure out the whole squirrelly mess.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      If your mom is a veteran, be sure to look into Veterans Affairs and see if there’s any policies or programs she’s eligible for.

    9. Girasol*

      There really is a “Medicare For Dummies 2024” book. I read the current book before retiring. It can only simplify the whole complicated mess so far, but it really did help a lot.

    10. Dodubln*

      There has been a lot of good resources offered in the previous replies, and I encourage you to seek them out. For me, I am going to come at this as a medical biller/medical office manager with almost 30 years of experience dealing with Medicare and Medicare advantage plans, who has had to counsel people a lot in the past (family members/patients) on what is what when transitioning to Medicare, as well as when they are considering going with a Medicare Advantage plan.
      Generally speaking, the best course of action initially would be to get your mom signed up for “standard” Medicare Part A (hospitals/facilities)/B(doctors), with a supplemental/Medigap plan(covers the 20% Medicare A/B does not) and Medicare Part D(drug coverage), because it will give her options down the road if she needs them. Yes, it will cost her more than signing up initially for a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), which is basically having all of the above, but with various restrictions. Some which can be very costly.
      Factors to take into consideration before getting her on any of the Medicare coverage options are her income, her health in general, and what meds she currently takes, if any. All of these can factor in heavily down the road, should things change for her.
      As a rule, I am very anti- Medicare Advantage plans, because I have seen so many people sign up for them, thinking they are getting a good deal and saving money, only to find out they can’t see most/any of their doctors, none of the hospitals/facilities in their area take it, and god forbid they should end up on hospice care. They end up paying way more in the end then if they had just gone with standard Medicare/supplemental/Med D coverage.
      That said, there are some instances where Medicare Advantage plans are actually the best plan for the patient, but it is few and very far between.
      I usually only recommend Medicare Advantage plans to people who have already had standard Medicare with a supplemental in the past (meaning they can get that supplemental coverage back if needed) who are quite healthy, and take no/very few meds. If if they are on meds, they are ones that are common, and on almost any formulary.
      For most people, it comes down to cost, and here is where I have to say you get what you pay for. You can spend more in the beginning, and hope it becomes less in the end, or you can spend less in the beginning, and it will almost always become more in the end.

    11. Tea and Sympathy*

      I used AARP’s Medicare for Dummies book. I didn’t know hardly anything, so it was a big help in understanding the basics and then getting into the intricacies and steps to take. It also gives phone numbers and places to go for help. I checked it out of the library, and then decided I needed to highlight, so I bought my own copy. I’ll post a link under a separate comment.

    12. Medicare candidate*

      I am in that spot now. Plan to spend a lot of time on research! The AARP’s Medicare for Dummies is excellent. Get your own copy and mark it up. That helped me narrow down the options I was interested in. I then went to Medicare.gov and looked at pricing in my state for plans from different companies – this was the most overwhelming part. I ended up creating a spreadsheet that really helped narrow down my options, and also gives me a place to write notes, highlight info, etc.
      THEN I steeled myself and called a few companies, just to see. One company was helpful, and answered all my questions without a hard sales pitch and didn’t ask for personal details. United Healthcare wouldn’t tell me anything unless I gave them personal details; I hung up. All they need to know is your zip code, sex, and smoking status.
      YouTube videos have also been very helpful, but you should already have educated yourself as best you can so you can hopefully judge whether they know what they’re talking about.
      Definitely call your state’s state health insurance assistance program (SHIP). I was disappointed that the person I talked to couldn’t tell me how to decide whether a broker is trustworthy, but she answered several other questions and told me important information I hadn’t seen elsewhere.
      Finally, I took a deep breath and set up an appointment with a broker found online (ugh, but how else do you find one?) I had that appointment a few days ago, and they sent me some plan recommendations that I need to review. Brokers don’t represent all companies, so ask why they like certain companies over others (though of course they won’t say “commission”!). I plan to talk to at least one other broker.
      With each step, I feel more informed and closer to a choice I can live with, though part of that is a sense of resignation to an inhumane system. The scariest realization is that this is for life, and there are no caps on future increases.
      I have decided on traditional Medicare, so I also have to choose a drug plan. I have no prescriptions, so the choice is easy to start, and thankfully I can change plans without penalty during open enrollment if that changes – unlike with Medigap plans.
      This entire process is so disillusioning. I never realized that even with Medicare I’d be prey to insurance companies, and worse, that I will be stuck for life with the choice I make this year. Yes, officially you are allowed to change plans, but in most cases, the financial penalty is too high.
      I hate this country. Nothing about health insurance will change until our legislators are forced to fend for themselves on the open market. In the meantime, the best we can do is arm ourselves with information and try not to be victimized by a salesperson. Good luck to all of us.

    13. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I hope my reply isn’t too late for you. When Isigned up, it did seem overwhelming at first. But then I realized that, since I live in a good-size city, I’d be okay with an Advantage plan, because I’d still have choices within the network. From that point, I went by the lowest premium (mine is ZERO beyond the basic Part B, lowest deductible, and lowest co-pays. I figured if I didnt.like the plan, I could switch the next year. I haven’t switched, and in the nine years I’ve had it, the few out-of-pocket costs have gone down, not up, and I’ve never had them question any payments. I do need referrals and prior authorizations, but those are not difficult. I would not recommend an Advantage plan to anyone in a small town, due to the limited choices, but if your parents are in an urban area, there are tons of choices in providers and facilities within the plan.

    14. tiredlibrarian*

      Thank you all – this is super helpful. Still overwhelming, but helpful. The additional wrinkle that we found out last night is that because my parents are divorcing, Mom doesn’t have health insurance right now. She applied for Medicare back in November but I guess they’re backlogged so it hasn’t gone through yet. So trying to figure out something in the short term, and then dig into what to do for her for Medicare. Appreciate all the resources! Please keep them coming if anyone else has thoughts!

    15. Girasol*

      One bit of advice that some people learn too late. While you can get Medicare Advantage for cheap or even free, don’t be tempted. People don’t realize their mistake until they get sick and they find out how many things aren’t covered by it.

  29. The Prettiest Curse*

    Let’s discuss the best and worst mascots! (Sports, school, corporate, whatever.)
    Last weekend, my football team played West Bromwich Albion, a team who made the mistake of letting their sponsors choose their mascot. Their sponsors are a heating company, so this is how they ended up with a mascot that is a boiler. (I’ll post a link to an article with photos so you can see for yourselves how weird it looks.) I think it’s likely that this mascot was designed to go viral, so it may be good and bad at the same time.
    Worst mascots also (obviously) include any team that is still using racial stereotypes.
    My favourite mascot is Gritty. I don’t care about ice hockey at all, but I think Gritty is brilliant.
    Share your mascot stories below.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Hmm, that’s a tough one since neither is great. The bird at least looks like a mascot, instead of a Tic Tac with legs!

          1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

            Ok, I googled it and Baggie Bird is not bad as a mascot

            But what is a Baggie Bird?

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Fans of West Bromwich Albion are known as Baggies. The origins of the nickname are unclear, but fans of opposing teams will sometimes wave plastic bags at them as some kind of taunt.

              1. Liz*

                As a Midlander my understanding was that West Brom were one of the last teams to switch from the old fashioned, baggy shorts to the more fitted modern kit, hence “Baggies”. Could be urban myth though.

    1. BlueCactus*

      A friend of mine in high school almost went to the Rhode Island School of Design, a great art school. They aren’t big on sports, and at some point decided it would be funny for their mascot to be a giant scrotum. I’m not sure if that’s so bad that it wraps back around to being hilarious.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        That sounds terrible and hilarious! I bet the student who gets to wear the scrotum costume has a fun time, too.

      2. RLC*

        From US high schools:
        Tarantulas (Gabbs, Nevada)
        Green Wave (Fallon, Nevada)
        Senators (Carson City, Nevada)
        Muckers (Virginia City, Nevada)
        Dust Devils (Dayton, Nevada)
        Railroaders (Sparks, Nevada)
        Serpents (Hawthorne, Nevada)
        Gorillas (Davenport, Washington)
        Maniacs (Orofino, Idaho)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I wish I could remember the school, but there’s a team out there called the Kittens. Their cheer goes “Mighty Kittens, fight! Mighty Kittens, win!”

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      There’s a high school in my area called the “Rebels” which sounds fine in theory but the mascot illustrations and school flag etc look suspiciously Confederate. This state is nowhere near the South and did not exist yet during the Civil War.

    3. Nola Sue*

      The New Orleans Pelicans seasonal mascot the King Cake baby is truly terrifying. Fortunately he’s only around during Carnival season.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I just searched for this one and it is indeed terrifying, though their other mascot also looks scary too!

    4. fposte*

      Evergreen State College geoduck. Pronounced “gooey duck,” looks like a penis, makes me wish that were my school.

    5. What the what*

      Fort Wayne Tin Caps is a semi pro baseball team. Their name originates from Johnny Appleseed who supposedly wore a tin cap on his head. Their logo is awesome and love that they incorporated local history into the team name and logo. The big furry mascot at games is Johnny Appleseed. Johnny is buried in Fort Wayne and there’s a HUGE Johnny Appleseed festival each fall. All of the food must be cooked using ‘I’d 1800’s cooking methods. So most everything is cooked outdoors over raging fires. The smell is incredible.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I grew up in Fort Wayne when the Wizards were still there. My friends from HS call the TinCaps the Pot Heads.

        (I miss the Johnny Appleseed festival)

    6. Philly native*

      I grew up in Philly, and we just love bizarre mascots. I love that the Flyers looked at the Philly Phanatic and went “yeah, we can make a weirder giant muppet” and did.

      The mascot for the 76ers during my era was a rabbit named Hip Hop who was adorable, and there was even a mini version. After Allen Iverson left and the NBA went on that rampage to have a “clean image”, they decided that Hip Hop was not appropriate and went with some other new bland mascot. IT WAS A BUNNY. If you’re going to replace a bunny, they should have at least gone with the giant muppet route.

    7. Elle Woods*

      One of the most random ones I’ve heard of is the Moorhead (Minnesota) school mascot: Spuddy–a giant potato. Other random ones I know of include the Hoopeston (Illinois) Cornjerkers, New Berlin (Illinois) Pretzels, Yuma (Arizona) Criminals, Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Millionaires, and Cairo (Georgia) Syrupmakers.

      IMO, Goldy Gopher for the U of Minnesota is adorable.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        How did a school in Minnesota get to have a potato mascot and not a school in Idaho? Do their governors now have to fight a duel or something for potato mascot rights?

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I want to see this on TV, assuming that the weapons are made entirely our of potatoes.

        1. Elle Woods*

          One of the district’s schools was built on the site of an old potato field, hence the name.

          LOL about a duel. Would it be a cook off? Whoever makes the best potato dish wins?

    8. Sneaky Snake*

      Maybe not the best mascot, but the town of Anaconda, Montana (named after the “Anaconda Silver Mine” and known for having a copper smelter where they smelted copper ore mined in nearby Butte, Montana) calls their high school teams the “Copperheads,” a nod to the copper smelted there. The “Anaconda Copperheads” have a double snake name, although neither Anacondas or Copperhead snakes are native to the area. (I suppose they might have a few rattle snakes and maybe common garden snakes.) Their logo is a (meh) snake curled around a letter “A”.

      However, the school district and the town really ran with the snake names and themes. Their high school basketball stadium is called, “The Snake Pit.” (I think their football stadium might have also shared the name at different times, although I’m not positive about that.) Students celebrate homecoming by having a “snake dance” through the streets of town and then around a bonfire at a pep rally. I was told that visiting sports teams find the prospect of entering “The Snake Pit” very intimidating.

    9. Maleficent2026*

      My local summer college baseball team is the Macon Bacon. The mascot is a giant strip of bacon whose name is Kevin. His jersey number is 6 degrees.

        1. Maleficent2026*

          Oh it is! It was all over socials and sports channels when it was announced in 2018, everyone loved it. They even sent a baseball cap to the actor Kevin Bacon, and he posted a selfie on his IG wearing it.

    10. Yes, really*

      Local high school, the Potsdam Sandstoners (area is known for sandstone). Mascot is a fairly evil looking dude with a hardhat and giant pickax.

    11. epizeugma*

      Not local to me, but a friend grew up in Hatboro, PA where the high school mascot is just a giant top hat.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Hmmm, the first that comes to mind is those damn Charmin bears, which make me grit my teeth and hiss. But they’re just part of an ad campaign, not mascots (as far as I know.)

      I do also like Gritty, just as a personification of Philly.

    13. tree frog*

      Back when my hometown was struggling with its sewage treatment system, a group of people protesting the situation had a mascot named “Mr. Floaty” who was a six-foot turd with a chipper smile. He used to make an appearance at most public events.

    14. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      The Savannah Bananas mascot. It’s like Bert from Sesame Street attempted a banana cosplay of some sort. Although I love watching the Bananas dance videos!

    15. Shutterdoula*

      My high school was the Acorns.
      My husband was the Green Wave.
      My kids were Beetdiggers.
      Must be genetic.

    16. carcinization*

      I don’t think I want to be specific enough to identify the unique mascot of my local high school, but… there is one. However, I will disclose that I do have a Flying Chanclas shirt because it’s such a fun team name!

    17. The Dude Abides*

      Railsplitters (Lincoln, IL)
      Loggers (Lincoln Land CC)
      Prairie Stars (UIS)
      Bunnies (Fisher, IL)
      Runnin Reds (Stephen Decatur HS (now MS), Decatur, IL)
      Potters (Morton, IL)
      Flaming Hearts (Effingham, IL)
      Sages (Monticello, IL)

    18. Our Business Is Rejoicing*

      People are so used to it that they don’t really question what it means, but as an Ohio State alum I have to mention Buckeyes. Yes, it’s the state tree, but what’s usually meant is the nut from said tree (which, I guess, looked like a deer’s eye to someone). When I was an undergrad the mascot at the football games was literally a guy in a big, round, hard nut outfit with tiny arms and legs protruding. These days the nut is just the head of the mascot.

      Damn fine candy, though. (I make my own and amuse my not-Ohio friends up until the point where they get addicted.)

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        The Big 10 (as it shall always be known) has quite a few questionable mascots

        Wolverine – which is a rodent not a wolf
        Boilermakers
        Cornhuskers
        Illinois Illini – which is an indigenous tribe but very unimaginative
        Hoosiers – what even is that?

        Sparty is widely acknowledged to be the best big 10 mascot even though their football program is not

  30. New Zealand Trip Advice!*

    I’m going to New Zealand in about a week, and would love some packing advice, as well as anything that shouldn’t be missed.

    I’m bringing some shorts, hiking pants, hiking boots, sandals, sneakers, a sunhat, a (pretty casual) dress for the few fancier dinners we’re going to, a rain jacket/windbreaker and a few layers just in case, although mostly shorts/t-shirts. Do I need a pair of jeans? Is there anything else I absolutely need to bring? (also bringing things like bug spray, sunscreen, etc.)

    We’ll be in Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Twizel, Dunedin, Queenstown, and Te Anau. The big things are already booked (Hobbiton, Glow worm caves, cruise of Doubtful Sound, time relaxing at the Onsen Hot Pools), and we’re planning to check out the Hooker Valley track for hiking, the Weta Workshop, possibly the Agrodome, Lanarch Castle, tiny penguins (Dunedin) and tiny dolphins (Akaroa). We love the outdoors (we’re slow but steady hikers), good food, and interesting experiences that teach us about the place we’re visiting. Any suggestions of things we should add to the list?

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

      Not an expert, but doesn’t New Zealand have pretty intense sun? Maybe some sun-protective clothing and the really strong sunscreen?

    2. lo