weekend open thread – March 2-3, 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: Swanna in Love, by Jennifer Belle. A teenage girl, dragged with her little brother by their mother to an artist colony where kids aren’t welcome, becomes involved with a much older man. The subject matter is disturbing, but the writing is so good and perfectly captures the weird/heady/terrifying mix of naivete and bravado that is adolescence.

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

{ 1,088 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    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. We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read if it’s been a while!

  2. Peanut Person*

    I recently read (and loved) The Poisonwood Bible. What bestsellers or great books am I missing that were published or popular anytime from the 70s – 2010s?

    (Yes, I’m young, and please enjoy a chuckle at my question :) )

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I recommend pairing with Diary of a Mad Housewife.

          And if you want to read a classic of anti-drug literature for teens, read Go Ask Alice. It’s a “true story” – in the sense that it’s a story. (I always doubted it, but you can find it’s full genesis online. Not possible for my teen skepticism in the 80s.)

        2. Texan In Exile*

          I’m reading the new biography about Larry McMurtry and it turns out that he and Ken Kesey were at a Stanford writing program together. Kesey was participating in LSD experiments and I guess drew some of his book inspiration from that experience.

          Also – I think, based on the photos in the book, that McMurtry married Kesey’s ex/widow at some point.

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

      I read Peter Benchley’s *Jaws* during the lockdown part of the pandemic in a language I am not very good at, but I found it was surprisingly awesome. (On a related, but much earlier note, I found *Moby Dick*, which gets a lot of bad press, surprisingly awesome too.)

      A little earlier than what you’re asking about, but I really liked Jaqueline Susann’s *Valley of the Dolls* too.

      Madeline Miller’s *Circe* was great — Greek Titans and Olympians re-imagined as a big, dysfunctional family.

      Allan Gurganas’s *Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All* was also great — got me through a long train journey right after I had gotten a bag stolen.

      Books that made me laugh my head off include Helen Fielding’s *Bridget Jones’s Diary* and *Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason* and Hunter S. Thompson’s *Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas*.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Have you heard about the annual 24 hour Moby Dick read aloud marathon? It’s at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Link to an article below:

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

        Also liked *The Godfather* and Trevanian’s *Shibumi*.

    2. ThatGirl*

      In no particular order…

      The Joy Luck Club
      The Shining
      The Time-Travelers’ Wife
      American Gods
      Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
      Jurassic Park
      Like Water for Chocolate

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I love Like Water for Chocolate! And Douglas Adams.

        Here are some more:
        – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
        – Bel Canto
        – The Discworld series (I started with The Colour of Magic, because my dad bought it new, but most now recommend starting with a later book)
        – The House on Mango Street
        – Tracks
        – House Made of Dawn (so sad to hear of Momaday’s passing)
        – The Eyre Affair
        – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

        1. PhyllisB*

          I tried to read Like Water for Chocolate, but I couldn’t continue after her mother beat her.

        2. RC*

          Douglas Adams’ “Last Chance to See” is IMO his most underrated work and also his best

      2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        If we’re recommending Stephen King, The Stand is his best, I think. And timely!

    3. word nerd*

      When I was a teenager, I tried reading The Poisonwood Bible several times, but could never get past the first few pages. I finally tried again a few years ago and absolutely adored it!

      I have to second Circe by Madeline Miller–sooo good
      The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (I admit I haven’t liked her recent stuff as much)
      Watership Down by Richard Adams
      The Periodic Table by Primo Levi–supposedly the “best science book ever” by the Royal Institution of Great Britain, but it’s really hard to encapsulate–about a Jewish-Italian chemist’s experiences before, during, and after Auschwitz, but about so much more too. Beautiful prose!
      The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
      Coraline and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

      Ok, I’m going to try and stop now because I could go on for pages…

      1. Bright as yellow*

        “could never get past the first few pages. I finally tried again a few years ago and absolutely adored it!” -> this happened to me with Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth. Sometimes, it’s just not the right time for the book.

        I love the Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth, but with more recent work, it looks like she’s aiming for a very different style, and it’s not landing for me.

    4. Jay*

      -The complete works of Sir Terry Pratchett.
      Seriously, just, all of them.
      There are dozens and dozens of them, but, somehow, they are all the best thing you have ever read.
      -Jim Butchers Dresden Files (well, a bunch of it, anyway, it’s still on going).
      -George RR Martin’s Wildcards novels. They are the “reimagined dark superhero” books that everyone else has been failing to imitate since the early 80’s. They are written by a host of collaborative writers and each one has their own unique voice. This is the BIG warning: These were books of their time. You will see the kinds of callous attitudes that were all too common decades ago (I lived through them and remember people talking like this, unfortunately). They can be grim, horrible, vile, disgusting, disturbing and awful.
      You can actually see the world change as you watch the perspectives of the characters alter over the decades the books encompass. They are also strange, interesting, often well written, and serve as the unmentioned background that lead to things like “The Boys”, “The Cape”, or “Invincible”.
      -The collected articles of Patrick McManus, an outdoors humorist in the vein of Twain who’s stories always remind me of A Christmas Story.
      -The collected articles of Dave Barry. At one time the definitive funniest man in America, or at least the American newspaper industry. Mostly short articles from the newspapers he wrote for, although he did do a number of full length books. His “Year In Review” is still one of the highlights of my year to this day.
      -Get yourself some collections of Calvin and Hobbs, The Farside, Doonesbury, and Bloom County and just start reading. Thank me latter.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I have Dave Barry Slept Here, and it’s so funny!

        The Far Side was a phenomenon when it started up. So different from anything else.

        If you’re interested in nonfiction/essays and want a humorous feel for Chicago of the late 60s through the 80s, read Mike Royko. (Very much a product of the time and place.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Can I add “Sylvia” by Nicole Hollander to the list of comic strips? I think “the woman who does everything more beautifully than you do” (if I remember correctly) will really resonate.

          1. fposte*

            I have all the Sylvia books, and Nicole Hollander signed one and drew a picture in it! That’s in the “never weed” category.

            1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              We’re not worthy! We have them all too and I am coning over all peculiar at the thought of a signed copy. I discovered them late (my gf is much older than me & brought many cool things into my life) but they are SO funny and timelessly cool.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’ll add “For Better or For Worse”, by Lynn Johnston.

            Less overtly political than Gary Trudeau’s “Doonesbury”, but more universal. The characters’ lives change with the decades. A housewife gets a job. People and pets age, have babies, die. A high school kid comes out to his family and friends it’s a major character we’ve seen since grade school, and he stays in the strip.

            (Also artistically interesting that it started “comicky” and drawings became much more realistic. Andcwhen Lynn Johnston finished the strip, she started redrawing it from the beginning – a second draft of the artwork, not a plot change.)

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Huh, Wikipedia tells me that I’m misremembering the details of the redo. I think I’ll be doing a reread myself.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I love Dave Barry, Cynthia Heimel, and other 80s/90s humor writers so much!

          Barry’s Worst Song Competition is some of the funniest stuff I ever read.

        3. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Gary Larsen has a species of chewing lice named after him–Strigiphilus garylarsoni.

          1. Jay*

            They also named the tail spikes on a Stegosaurus after one of his comics.
            The Thagomizer!
            Which has now apparently been adopted as the official (-ish) name for the tail spikes on all those giant lizard-type creatures in The Monsterverse.

      2. Pieforbreakfast*

        The summer I read Poisonwood Bible I also, not planned, read “King Leopold’s Ghost” about the Beligian colonization of the congo, and “Brazzaville Beach” set in the Congo in the late 20th century. With all three books I got a real picture of that area.
        “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdich (her book “Plague of Doves” is my favorite, not sure it was a best seller)
        “Wicked”- by Gregory Maguire, so much better than the musical, the sequels are not so great.
        “The Milagro Beanfield Wars” by John Nichols
        “Gone to Soldiers” by Marge Piercy, focuses on women in WWII

    5. RagingADHD*

      Bel Canto by Anne Patchett

      The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

      The Color Purple

      A Brief History of Time

      Ender’s Game

      The Handmaid’s Tale

      Foucault’s Pendulum

      Watership Down

      Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    6. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – about the Biafran war from 5 different perspectives (her later book Americanah is also really good), A Fine Balance by Rohington Mistry, God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (the last three are all by Indian authors, but writing about very different regions of the country and situations) – all books I read in the 2000s that left a big impact on me. I’ve also enjoyed most books I’ve read by Michael Ondaatje and Isabel Allende. I’ve read a lot of Kingsolver’s other books and after Poisonwood Bible, the Lacuna has been my favourite.

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

        Oh, I love Adichie and her *Purple Hibiscus* as well! For me, her books start slow and then, all of a sudden, I’m up all night finishing them.

    7. allx*

      Red Sky at Morning, Richard Bradford (1968)
      Memoirs of a Survivor, Doris Lessing (1974)
      Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice (1978)
      Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole (1980)
      Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood (1988(
      A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
      Animal Dreams, Kingsolver (1990)
      Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker (1992)
      Virgin Suicides, Eugenides (1993)
      Shipping News, Annie Proulx (1993)
      Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson (1993)
      Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon (1995)
      A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
      Life of Pi, Yann Martell (2001)
      The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)

      So many books, so little time.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ohhhh, Jeanette Winterson! Her later Christmas collection Christmas Days is wonderful.

      2. Honeycocoa*

        Love Red Sky at Morning and Animal Dreams
        I enjoy Kingsolvers early books The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, Pigs in Heaven.
        One of Ann Patchets first novels The Magicians Assistant is wonderful.
        Chocolat by Joanne Harris
        The Object of My Affection or anything by Stephen McCauly

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Sula by Toni Morrison and Beloved by Toni Morrison are two entirely different books–Beloved is a well-blended whiskey aged in the barrel, but Sula is white lightning right out of the Mason jar.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      That was one of my favorite books as a teenager. I loved “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel around the same time.

      Other books that have given me some of the same vibes: “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht, “These Is My Words” by Nancy E Turner, “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell, “Suite Franchise” by Irene Nemirovsky

      1. Seashell*

        In case anyone gets an old copy of Go Ask Alice where it doesn’t specify, please note that it was not a real diary. I had no idea when I was a teenager that it was fiction. The non-fiction book Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson was quite interesting.

        1. 248_Ballerinas*

          I can’t recommend Unmask Alice enough. Masterful, engaging investigative journalism.

          Speaking of journalism, check out The New Journalism, a collection compiled by Tom Wolfe. Includes Joan Didion, Truman Capote, and Hunter S. Thompson among others.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I had found info about it on a website, but now Unmask Alice is on my reading list. (I had always considered the ending of Go Ask Alice very suspect.)

      2. yeah*

        Interesting to see multiple recommendations for ‘Go Ask Alice’ here! I’m wondering if people read it and were affected by it when they were young (I read it when I was 12 and definitely was) and that’s what’s driving this. I think it’s not a great choice to recommend to an adult simply because the writing is so bad. It might be worth reading if you’re someone who enjoys watching the schlockiest, least believable episodes of Law & Order SVU (no judgement because I definitely do). Otherwise, consider this an anti-recommendation!

        Some quick recommendations:
        1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
        2. Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
        3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

        1. Clisby*

          I had the same experience when I read Go Ask Alice last year (I was sampling from lists of books people were trying to get removed from school libraries.)

          I could not finish it – it was so tedious. However, it’s still in print, and showing up on these lists, so I can only assume people still find it compelling.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          It is terribly written, but it was something so many kids read. Read at your own risk. Then watch old anti drug ads from the 80s.

          1. 248_Ballerinas*

            Very true. For some *good* fiction that Seventies teens read, try The Outsiders.

        3. Seashell*

          Yes, I read Go Ask Alice for the first time when I was 11 or 12 and definitely came out of it thinking drugs were bad. I remember thinking some of the language seemed awkward, but I thought it was because it was the 80’s when I was reading it and people didn’t say “groovy” any more like they had in the 60’s.

          1. Bruce*

            Can confirm that people really did say “groovy” back in the 60s and also it was thought to be pretty mockable… like something a Rowan & Martin character would say in a sketch :-)

    9. ooof. And argh*

      As others have mentioned: Circe.
      If you like Kingsolver, I really liked Animal Dreams.
      Cowboys are My Weakness, (for short stories), by Pam Houston.
      2019 : The Power by Naomi Alderman.
      2011: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Definitely read more Kingsolver. Her early short stories are fantastic, in particular.

      I love Laurie Colwin’s books: she hits a certain wistfulness with humor and her characters are funny and sharp. She has two collections of short stories as well: Passion and Affect and The Lone Pilgrim. The latter contains one of my favorite stories ever, Delia’s Father.

      For novels, Anne Lamott’s early stuff is terrific. I’d start with her Joe Jones–it’s a great example of her humor and structure.

      Other writers from glancing at the nearest bookshelf:
      Nick Hornby (especially A Long Way Down)
      Janet Fitch, White Oleander
      Jane Hamilton, Disobedience
      Mary Robinson, Why Did I Ever

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And of course, Connie Willis! I recommend starting with her short story collections and early 90s novel Bellwether, one of my favorites.

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

        *White Oleander* was so not what I was expecting! From just having seen previews of the film, I thought the was going to be a noir murder mystery, but it turned out to be more a frightening indictment of the foster care system. Excellent book.

    11. Minimal Pear*

      The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle has quite possibly THE most beautiful prose I’ve ever read.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        Oh, agree! “She was no longer the careless color of seafoam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night.”

    12. Lilo*

      I read The English Patient for class in college and loved it. But if you like the book, chances are you’ll hate the movie.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Not necessarily. I understand the choices they made for the movie, and I appreciated both as totally different things.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Nonfiction from Barbara Kingsolver: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. About deciding to spend a year living on mostly food grown or raised locally. 2007, hitting on the cusp of the local food movement.

      Occasionally this got a bit “this is not an efficient way to obtain a 5 lb bag of flour” for me, but it was mostly an interesting dive into food, where it comes from, and a study of deciding to do anything within arbitrary limits. A bit that stuck with me re AAM was that there was a limit to how many hours they wanted to work at their jobs each week, and could feel that was productive–they weren’t gardening because it paid better than their 40 hr/wk jobs.

    14. Lady Alys*

      +n on Terry Pratchett (start with “Guards! Guards!” and read that series, then the rest) and Nicole Hollander’s “Sylvia” comics – they are perfection.

    15. Alex*

      The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt, Pulitzer prize winner)
      The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Michal Chabon, another Pulitzer prize winner)
      The Boston Girl (Anita Diamant)
      Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, National Book Critics Circle Award)
      My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok)
      Anything by Alice Munro, Nobel prize winner–although she writes short stories, so some people aren’t super into short stories. But highly recommend.

    16. Cleo*

      I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

      The Firm by John Grisham

      July’s People by Nadine Gordimer

      The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

      The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

      Neuromancer by William Gibson

    17. anywhere but here*

      The Knife of Never Letting Go (series)
      anything they made a movie / tv show out of (yes, including Twilight)
      definitely more . . . I am just unlikely to remember from that far back

    18. Volunteer Enforcer*

      Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson. It’s a great thriller about a rare type of amnesia – the protagonist can retain details throughout the day, then her memory is wiped clean when she wakes up. Published 2011.

    19. 248_Ballerinas*

      Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a heartbreaking novel of the Seventies. Definitely read the book before seeing the movie, if you even watch the movie. Diane Keaton was good in the movie but it didn’t have the same feel as the book.

    20. Mephyle*

      If “great” means entertaining, not necessarily great literature, the novels of Michael Crichton – sciency thrillers.
      I had read his Andromeda Strain back in the day, many decades ago, but didn’t know about his other books. One evening recently when a YouTube rabbit hole led me to his novel Airframe, I ended up staying awake until the small hours because I couldn’t put it down.

    21. carcinization*

      Not checking to see if someone else already recommended this, but Crowley’s Little, Big for sure.

    22. Chauncy Gardener*

      Artic Dreams
      Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
      Jitterbug Perfume
      Acquired Tastes
      Blue Highways
      A Walk in the Woods
      The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
      The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
      Tuesdays with Morrie
      The March of Folly
      The Weaker Vessel
      Animal Vegetable Miracle
      The Elegance of the Hedgehog
      Bird by Bird
      Dearly Beloved
      The Cure for Anything is Salt Water
      Noah’s Garden

      Great question! Enjoy!

    23. Charlotte Lucas*

      Beloved by Toni Morrison

      Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

      I never read them, but a family member loved Sue Grafton’s mystery series that started with A is for Alibi

    24. A70sreader*

      Agree with almost all the recommendations but feel compelled to add Helene Hanff for 84 Charing Cross Road as well as her other books, Paul Gallico for this entire catalog but most esp Mrs.’Arris Goes To Paris and for the true 70s feel of Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. The Happy Hooker was a quite a scandal but readily available even in my tiny hometown in the Rocky Mountain time zone.

    25. debby*

      i’m sure some have been mentioned elsewhere…

      the remains of the day—kazuo ishiguro
      the amazing adventures of kavalier and klay—michael chabon
      lonesome dove—larry mcmurtry
      cloud atlas—david mitchell
      a good man in africa—william boyd
      london fields—martin amis
      white teeth—zadie smith
      notes on a scandal—zoe heller
      the commitments—roddy doyle
      the alienist—caleb carr
      anything by anthony horowitz
      headlong—michael frayn

    26. Heffalump*

      Carl Hiaasen’s South Florida black comic thrillers. IMO Skin Tight, Stormy Weather, Basket Case, Strip Tease, Razor Girl, Nature Girl, and Lucky You are the best.

    27. Seeking Second Childhood*

      –Roots, by Alex Haley
      –The Good War, by Studs Terkel
      –Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown
      –The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks
      –A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Leguin ( Technically this is late 1960s, but I found it in the late 1970s and have never given it up.)

    28. Nervous Nellie*

      What a great question! Your era range is mostly what I read, and there are too many to mention, but I wholeheartedly agree with many suggestions already here. Also, many Canadian authors penned fantastic stuff in the 80s – Carol Shields, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje. My best loved books from your era range are mostly 80s, some 70s. Others to suggest:

      A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
      The Alexandria Quartet (4 books – Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive & Clea) by Lawrence Durrell
      Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
      A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
      A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
      The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
      The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
      All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (all 4 books in the series)
      The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
      If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (the ultimate ‘break the 4th wall’ book)
      Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
      The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

      Also, you may be delighted to know that the Goodreads website keeps a ‘Listopia’ reference section of best books sorted by date, era, subject matters, and more, all voted on by the large Goodreads membership. Quite the rabbit hole! The list of ‘Best Books of the Decade: 1980-1989’ alone is 23 pages long. Too many books, too little time….

    29. Texan In Exile*

      She’s Come Undone, Wally Lamb (one of the few times I have read a man write a woman’s voice well)
      He also wrote I Know This Much Is True, which is also good
      Anything by Sara Paretsky or Sue Grafton
      The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870–1914, by David McCullough
      Also his book about John Adams

    30. cleo*

      Thought of a few more.

      How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
      The Name of the Rose by Umberto Ecco

  3. coffeeplease*

    I accidentally added a tax pro to my cart in HR Block. I couldn’t figure out to remove it, so I jumped on the help chat within the website (I was signed in). To verify my identity, they asked for my FULL SSN given in 3 digit increments, plus DOB, plus zip code. Of course the SSN is 3-3-4 digits so it doesn’t fit in 3 digit increments, and I can’t remember the last time I needed to state the full thing to verify ID (only ever asked for last 4).

    That felt scammy to me…anyone come across this request for full SSN given in 3 digit increments? Am I just being over cautious?

    *I did figure out how to remove the pro thanks to reddit and did not give out my full SSN

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      No such thing as over cautious with SS#
      And it doesn’t make sense they would use it to ID you

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      I’ve used H&R Block for, in person, for years and they’ve always seemed very competent. This has my Spidey sense tingling. If it was me I’d report it, to the company

    3. Emma*

      Isn’t the SSN 9 digits? Mine is XXX-XX-XXXX (or at least that’s how I think of it in my head!). So 3 digit increments also works.
      And I don’t know that the full SSN would give me pause, if it’s on a website I chose to visit. But if it was some random website, definitely!

  4. HannahS*

    I am feeling hurt and sad, and I need cheering up. What silly videos make you laugh?

    My contribution is Lee Mack on Would I Lie to You, saying that he turned down an invite to Harry/Meghan’s wedding.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Google “horse playing with rubber chicken.” You’re welcome, lol.
      This never fails to crack me up.

      1. Bruce*

        Videos of donkeys honking in joy and running to their human friends for hugs and scritches are als0 very gratifying :-)

    2. Sage*

      look up the Graham Norton episode with Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Hugh Bonneville where they arrive straight from the monuments men premiere – well worth watching the whole thing!

      1. ismis*

        Any Graham Norton with Greg Davies or Jamie Dornan – generally more adult stories, but hilarious!

        I also love the Lip Sync Battles with Anne Hathaway (Wrecking Ball) and Tom Holland (Umbrella).

        I hope you feel better soon.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          The Tom Holland one is amazing and you are required to watch it any time it comes across your feed, and then share it. LOL

      2. ghost_cat*

        Love this. And the follow-up interview with George Clooney ‘I had cast mates come on the show … they left the premier drunk and got here, and got drunker’.

      3. Buni*

        Hugh Jackman & Luke Evans having a Gaston Sing-Off on Jonathon Ross is my go-to happy place, but also Jackman, McEvoy & Fassbender on Graham Norton. Basically you can’t go wrong with any Graham Norton show.

    3. Lizzie with the deaf cat)*

      I recommend Bluey! Seven minutes of charm watching Bandit and Chili parent their pups, Bluey and Bingo. I particularly like the episode where Bandit takes the kids to get some Chinese takeaway for dinner. (“No wet dogs in the car!”)

    4. Numbat*

      “Catch him Derry/ Bat Dad/ Bat in the house” has me wheezing every time I watch it!!

      1. Numbat*

        and as for Would I Lie To You… anything from that show gets me howling, but Bob Mortimer cracking an egg into his bath is A+

    5. RLC*

      Any of the OwlKitty videos on YouTube. Imagine most any blockbuster film of the last 4 decades, and switch out a main character with a fluffy black cat. “Jurassic Park but with a cat” one of my favorites.

    6. Jay*

      -Bad Lip Reading. Particularly “Seagulls, Stop It Now”.
      It’s about as much concentrated joy as can be crammed into about four minutes.
      -Follow that up with “Bushes Of Love”
      -If you want something a bit more sedate and soothing, you could try looking up Captain Bob videos. He was sort of what you would get if The Old Sea Captain from the Simpsons, Mr. Rogers, David Attenborough, and Bob Ross got into some kind of transporter accident. A kindly old mariner who taught children to draw while also teaching them about the wonders of the natural world. This show was maybe the the highlight of my early childhood and started my on my path to becoming a field biological technician, seeing and doing things most other people only ever read about.
      -You can also try the Dry Bar on YouTube for some comics that you may not ever see anywhere else. They are NOT all winners, but there are a lot of them and some are pretty fantastic.

      Hope this helps your mood a bit.

      1. GingerSheep*

        Ok, « Seagulls stop it now » was bloody hilarious, had me cry laughing ! Thanks for the rec!

    7. Forrest Rhodes*

      Google “Neglected ducks get their first swim.” It’s a short video from the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. A group of neglected ducks that have never seen water outside a water dish are introduced to an actual pond—and they’re not quite sure just what it is!

      It’s only a few minutes long, but I watch it any time I need a smile/laugh.

      1. Little John*

        I just watched this and it made me happy. Oh to be a duck, gently lobbed into water by loving humans over and over, until I notice it feels great to be afloat and start dabbling! Thank you for the smiles.

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          It makes me happy that it made you happy, Little John! And you’re right—it would be really nice to be one of these ducks.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You may enjoy the subreddit r/GoatsOnTopOfHorses
        Capybaras seem to be honorary horses according to goats. :)

    8. ooof. And argh*

      “Christian lion reunion” on youtube. Look for the 6 minute version. Two young guys buy a lion cub (!!?!!) and eventually repatriate it back to not-London, then go to visit it a year later.

    9. Sympathies*

      So sorry you are feeling bad. Here are some things that work for me:

      Any Jim Gaffigan video on You Tube, or his specials. He is hilarious.


      School of Rock
      A fish called Wanda
      Galaxy Quest

      Hope you feel better soon.

    10. Writerling*

      Marcel the shell with shoes on! Which I realized only this week has a movie (on Netflix), can’t wait to watch it.

    11. StarryStarryNight*

      Search for „They say of the Acropolis where the Parthenon is“. You won’t regret it – always cracks me up seeing Stephen Fry overwhelmed with laughter.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      My go-to when I’m feeling down and need a laugh is a YouTube video that still cracks me up every time. Search for “Cyclists chased by an ostrich. The funniest thing you’ll see today.”

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      This cover of AC/DC’s “Big Balls” is the funniest thing ever recorded and N.S.F.W.

      Link to follow!

        1. ECHM*

          My husband watched the Goes Wrong Show and laughed harder than I’ve ever heard him laugh!

    14. Toni*

      Dusty Douglas, RxCKSTxR and KLR Productions are YouTubers who make funny voices for animal videos. (The last one is more for an adult audience though so be careful before showing to children. Actually some of Dusty’s too.) They also have a collar channel named Funny Dubs.

    15. ghost_cat*

      Anything with Bill Bailey on Strictly Dancing. He is such a joy – absolutely on my ‘if I could invite 5 people to dinner’…

    16. Laura Petrie*

      I love Parry Gripp’s songs Guinea Pig Bridge, Guinea Pig Olympics and Rat in a Dollhouse

      Second Seagulls stop it now, my friends played that at their wedding. Opa, Döner, Poodles, Bread is pretty funny too

      Sorry you’re feeling sad

    17. Clarabow*

      Alison Hammond interviewing Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling about Bladerunner 2049
      The WoW monster on Taskmaster
      The Footloose dance on The Umbrella Academy
      James Acaster on Bake Off

    18. Pennyworth*

      Anything with Sean Lock in 8 out of Ten Cats Does Countdown.
      Any Blackadder videos.
      Philomena Cunk
      Bradley Walsh trying not to laugh on The Chase UK

      Not funny but heartwarming
      Tico – the singing parrot
      Gizmo – talking African Grey parrot

    19. Silent E*

      I’m loving all the suggestions so far! Here’s mine: search on YouTube for: “Full Dash Cam Video of Loose Sled Dog Team Leading Billings Police on Low-speed Chase”
      It’s very cute and no one gets hurt.
      I hope things look up for you soon!

    20. Fun YouTube videos*

      The “Dance Your PhD 2024 Winner”- Kangaroo Time is such a delight.

      If you like dogs, the Olive and Mabel videos are wonderful.

    21. TechWorker*

      Greg Davies interview on I think Jonathan Ross but he’s probably told the stories in standup too.
      I watched a very short viral video the other day about someone’s grandma with Spanish as a first language & she called something a horse tornado.. all the comments of people inventing words (in either in their first language or a second language) when they forgot them made me laugh out loud.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          yes!!! this is what I suggested below with “harry potter puppets song,” I forgot the name so thank you!

      1. fposte*

        That’s doubly epic since the original video is so absolutely bonkers and people may not know it in its own right.

    22. The OG Sleepless*

      The full version of “Feed the Kitty,” the Chuck Jones cartoon with Marc Anthony the bulldog and Pussyfoot the kitten. Last time I looked, I could only find part of it on Youtube.

    23. Rage*

      There’s one on YouTube called “How to Cook Every Indian Dish Ever” and I watch it every few months just for giggles (and also to remind myself how to cook a masala).

    24. Treena*

      I’ve never seen their videos, but I just saw Foil Arms and Hog live and their show was hilarious. As far as I know, they’re known/famous for their youtube sketch comedy.

    25. ElastiGirl*

      Old Key and Peele videos. I am a particular fan of Teacher Center and Terrorist Meeting.

    26. Busy Middle Manager*

      I am loving alanafinewoman Alana Restaurant Stories. Ridiculous reenactments of her time as a waitress

    27. Mephyle*

      Stephen Fry, “Mein Handy” 53 seconds long, so can be watched over and over.

      Andrew Cotter’s videos about his dogs Olive and Mabel. It all started during lockdown with “The Dog’s Breakfast Grand Final” and goes up to what at this time is the most recent one, “Puppy Love” (have a tissue ready – happy tears).

    28. sara*

      It’s not a video per se but I watched The Marvels last night and there was an absolutely ridiculous scene (in the latter half of the movie, don’t want to spoil) that had me laughing so so hard for the whole time. And still giggling thinking about it. Might not be fully everyone’s humour, and the rest of the movie was ok (not as bad as critics said for sure but also not amazing).

      If you don’t mind a little comic book absurdity and violence, there is a clip on youtube if you search “marvels cat scene”

    29. Ali + Nino*

      All available on YouTube I believe:

      it’s always sunny in Philadelphia – Dennis & Mac make Charlie a dating profile
      I Think You Should Leave – can’t you drive
      harry Potter puppets song

    30. RedinSC*

      The video that got me laughing through COVID was the Lawyer – I’m here live, I’m not a cat video. I love that so much!

    31. Janesfriend*

      Some of my favourites:

      Taika Waititi reads a letter from someone trying to get off a speeding ticket on letters live (involves a time travelling car and a secret numberplate changing machine)

      Tracey Ullman doing Judi Dench (as a thieving national treasure)

      Tracey Ullman doing Queen Camilla

      Sister Michael on Derry Girls

    32. Elizabeth West*

      I just thought of another one — search ” Ozzy Man Reviews: Tortoise vs Cat.” It has a bit of cursing but it’s absolutely hilarious.

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

      I think Alison said it was on hiatus and she was deciding whether to bring it back or not? Not 100% sure, but that is my vague memory.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s been on hiatus since the end of last year. I started it early on during the pandemic when it really seemed like we needed some good news, but my intention was never for it to last as long as it did; I think it’s probably run its course!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Alison, I understand, but I really enjoyed reading them (and had the honor of sharing one on my daughter’s behalf.)
        Could it maybe be a once-in-a-while thing? Maybe every few months or even just once or twice a year?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Alison, I have seen at least one person post their own good news in the friday open forum.
          Maybe you could give the good-news fans an automated post on that forum where readers can reply to share their happiness. Like the regular reading, gaming. and little joys threads readers start on this weekend forum, but sitting at the top.

        2. Venus*

          There are often updates that count as good news, and someone could post in the open thread asking for good news stories. I enjoyed reading them, but don’t miss them because there’s lots of good content that’s so similar.

        3. RedinSC*

          It’s interesting, when I was so low and not having any luck in my job search, and was stressed out about COVID and working through that, I couldn’t even read the good news.

          it’s not that I wasn’t happy for the people writing in, but I was so sad for myself that I couldn’t face it.

        4. Lurker wants to post*

          Strong agree with this – maybe a once-a-month good news? Of course they can be repetitive as Tolstoy’s “happy families are all alike” line – but I think they’re inspiring and make me want to share my good job and management news, too!

          Thanks for considering

      2. Washi*

        Just to add my two cents, I honestly stopped reading the good news posts just a few weeks in and agree they have run their course!

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

    Small joys thread! What made you happy this week?

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

      There is a screech owl (I think) that has taken up residence near my apartment. I enjoy hearing the screech-who-ooh-ooh it makes. Also, more mourning doves hanging out on my fire escape for a little bit.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      Talking with a train friend on the way to work. I love socializing and making friends.

    3. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I went to a really chilled out yoga class after missing a week and then being sick, and felt so good after!

      1. ThatGirl*

        High five! I paid my car off today!

        I also got an amazing picture of our toddler niece looking very sassy in sunglasses, a giant hat and a swimsuit, she’s so cute,

    4. Blythe*

      So many small joys at present—
      – my teenage daughter has a super delightful girlfriend and they seem to actively enjoy hanging out at our house together
      – my son is fiiiiiiinally making friends at school
      – a unit I have been teaching (discussion skills) has been going SUPER well. My students have grown SO MUCH.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I made Hoppin’ John Cakes for the first time in forever, using The Big Giant Pan, and they came out fantastic! I mixed a little flour into the bread crumb coating and they had a nice crispy shell.

    6. BellaStella*

      Watching birds outside!
      Playing with my kitty!
      Finishing my move!
      Seeing chamois!

    7. Laura Petrie*

      My lovely boy rat started boggling at me when I spoke to him yesterday. He was all cosy in his hammock snuggling with his girlfriends and he just looked so happy

      I remembered about a band I’d not listened to for ages and had a listening party in my car on my drive home yesterday

      I bought some gorgeous daffodils from the supermarket and they look so cheerful on my kitchen windowsill

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is a crossover with any bird watching thread: the bluebirds are here.

      And they are so very blue in the spring.

    9. Minimal Pear*

      I took the train to visit my girlfriend and her extremely friendly cat is making biscuits on me Right Now.

    10. TechWorker*

      I had a disappointing nail appt as a trial for my wedding (they said they did nail art but when I got there they did stamps and had a very limited colour palette) – I knew within about 3min of getting there I definitely would not be using them for my wedding. But another nail artist I messaged recommended me someone a town over and I am ***SO EXCITED*** I cannot got over how beautiful and detailed her nail art is. It’s not cheap (my wedding dress was super cheap and I think I am literally paying more for my nails loool) but they will make me happy every time I look at them and feel special :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I also went to a local yarn shop’s free drop-spindle class today, had a blast, and signed up for their spinning (on a wheel) class in two weeks.

    11. Lilo*

      In one week, I make my 120th payment and the second I get the notification email, I’m sending in my PSLF form.

    12. Siege*

      My cat had a seizure in January and in the trip to the emergency vet Something Happened; he’s been so anxious at night my partner hasn’t been able to sleep over at times because my cat needs to be in my face and wakes me at least once a night and it makes the bed (we have a full) too crowded and painful for me. (To be clear: I don’t think the emergency vet did anything or had something happen and didn’t report it, so it might have just been the aftereffect of the seizure but it started then.) He had some concerning indicators for kidney disease.

      We did a follow up appointment two Fridays ago and he panicked so badly when they got him in position for the blood draw they had to give him oxygen and we were back at the e-vet the next morning because I didn’t think he was going to make it.

      Yesterday he finally got back in his cat tree (at least three weeks), in the top basket (first time this year), snuggled on my lap, and did not wake me overnight (second time this month he hasn’t). And the new bloodwork shows his values decreasing, so I’m cautiously optimistic, and so happy he’s getting better.

      Okay, it’s not really a small joy; he means the world to me.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m so glad kitty’s feeling better: it’s so hard when they aren’t.

    13. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      My shy, skittish cat has started sleeping on the bed with me and her sister. It’s a delicious cuddle puddle!

    14. Kathy the Librarian*

      Tried a new pie place near me last night. The rhubarb pie was wonderful and the crust was sooooo flaky! Can’t wait to go back and try others.

    15. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Just opened a pack of biscuits I brought over from a work trip to Germany. I bought them because the brand reminded me of biscuits I used to love when I lived in France many years ago – there’s no equivalent in my home country or where I live now. They were wonderful with a cup of tea and tasted just as I remembered them. My partner, who had never heard of these biscuits, also loved them.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          I found them in a German supermarket under the brand of Prinzen. They looked similar to the Prince biscuits I used to eat in France!

    16. carcinization*

      Had a fun little date with my husband today… went to a local hole in the wall for some huevos rancheros/a chorizo and egg plate, then went to the flea market and I got some cheap jewelry and such, and when we were in the parking lot about to leave, I found a $20 bill on the ground! No-one else was around to ask if they dropped it, so it was ours! We got a mangonada and a strawberry smoothie at the local paleteria, washed the truck, and are now relaxing at home.

    17. sara*

      Hopefully this isn’t too work related – but basically, my new role (2 weeks in) is very much more structured than my old role and it’s been hard to push through especially as I’m on-ramping. But realized as I was struggling to focus on work I usually love to do at 2pm on Friday that I could just stop… So I wrapped up a couple things and then signed off for the day. Had a power nap, went for a walk, read and knit. And just generally had a joyful Friday afternoon.

      And now on Saturday morning I’m making up for it but it’s work I really enjoy (carryover from old role) and I’m really enjoying some cozy tunes, way too much coffee, and solving fun problems!

    18. Girasol*

      The excellent botant professor from the college held an early spring wildflower hike. Where are wildflowers so early in spring? Not here! But she found and explained all manner of last year’s seed heads and flower spikes and next year’s buds that would help us to identify what the plants are. The company was good, the day was shirtsleeve warm – very unseasonal! – and the walk delightful.

    19. Angstrom*

      Went dancing, and there were a few joyous moments where I was dancing to the music and with my partner instead of dancing the steps.

    20. Elle Woods*

      I found a trove of gift cards in a drawer the other day. Used some of them today to treat myself to some new workout gear and lunch at a fave restaurant.

    21. DreamOfWinter*

      A big joy:
      My kitten has recovered after eating what the vet reported to be an -12″ strip of gauze (???) two weeks ago and subsequently having to have his stomach and intestines operated on. The cone of shame came off yesterday and we’re starting to re-integrate him with the rest of the cats.

      A smaller joy:
      I took a class on old-fashioned kettle-cooked donut making today at a friend’s farm. not only did I meet some other entertaining ladies, and get to eat fresh cooked donuts, but I also got to snuggle with week-old lambs <3

    22. RagingADHD*

      A comedian I follow on YouTube played a club near me, and we got tickets. He did such a good show!

    23. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My friends sent me a lovely fruit and snack box! I had should surgery this week, so they sent me a get well gift. It was so thoughtful and kind of them! They are also checking in on me via text; one lives out of state and the other is close by and took me grocery shopping pre surgery to stock up. I’m so thankful for them!

    24. North Wind*

      A couch potato weekend. I splurged and got Starbucks delivery this morning and I am in heaven just sipping on a frappuccino, eating a breakfast sandwich, playing computer games, and browsing the internet. Isn’t there some word for the joy of doing nothing?

      I’ve had a very busy month, taking classes and studying for a work certification (plus working). I finished the last class Friday morning, finished the hardest of 6 tests Friday evening (I got 100%! I thought my perfectionist days were long behind me but that was *really* gratifying), and have done a whole lot of nothing all weekend. It feels glorious.

      I’ve finished 3 of 6 tests and a project, so I still have a bit more to do in the next month, but the more difficult parts are behind me.

    25. Elizabeth West*

      When I left work, it was still light out! Yeah, it was dark by the time I got home, but the days are getting longer again. :)

    26. 653-CXK*

      On Thursday, I was supposed to report to jury duty after I delayed it twice – my original service date was March 2023, but then I delayed it to November 2023; I delayed it again because I was in the midst of a respiratory infection.

      I called the jury duty line on Wednesday afternoon. “Jury group 1-133 plus all delinquent jurors must report. All groups 133 and above, your service is cancelled.”

      My group? In the 150s. I did not have to go.

      I had served in two juries – one in juvenile court in 2011 and another time in superior court in 2015. I had also been cancelled in 2019, but with the pandemic and such, I wasn’t selected again until 2023. I actually don’t mind being in juries, but IMHO the worst part is the waiting – thank God for puzzle books! – before you’re either escorted to trial room or dismissed because the courts have their juries.

  6. Part time lab tech*

    Would you be ok being served by a man in a women’s clothing store?
    I know menswear does have female customer service staff. I’d be ok with the option for outerwear although I’d want a non male option as well. I don’t really care who rings me up.
    I thought about this because the vast majority of staff in the bottom half of the pay scale are one gender at boys’ schools and womenswear retailers. (I have a comment at the bottom of the Friday open thread if someone wants to to discuss gender pay gaps. I’m just after the personal opinion about how much you care about cashier gender here.)

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

        Same. And actually, as long as someone is respectful, I don’t much care about that either. I used to go to a bra store — Orchard Corset — with a male proprietor who could just eyeball you through your clothes and get you the correct size.

      2. UKDancer*

        Agreed, nothing involving a bra fitting or intimate clothes. That’s too intimate for my personal taste. Clothes I probably wouldn’t notice apart from it being unusual. I don’t mind who serves me at tills.

        To be honest I tend to do my bra shopping at Rigby & Peller where the staff tend to be middle aged or older women, I buy most of my good clothes from a small independent shop staffed by the owner and her niece, or I go to M&S for routine clothes where you barely get service at all unless you ask for it.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I heard somewhere that the best demographic for bra fitters is a middle aged or or better yet grandmotherly woman. Customers are more likely to be comfortable with one and more likely to ask for help.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, bra fitting might be weird. Also a detailed breakdown of panties. But I’d be fine discussing the best choice of long underwear, which seems more like an extension of hiking gear. And any outerwear is fine.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a cashier? Zero effs given. It’d be a different story if they were actually having to help me put on clothing, or as ThatGirl says, fitting me for intimates. But if I did my shopping and all they did was point me in the direction of the blouses and then ring me up, I don’t give a hang what their demographics are in pretty much any sense as long as they charge me the right amount and are reasonably well-behaved about the whole process.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve been fitted for a bra by a man. Very matter of fact, professional. But it is very rare to be served by men in general. Cashiers and salespeople in clothing stores tend to be women. I’m not sure how I would have felt as a teenager, to be fitted for a bra by a man, but that’s more because we’re a bundle of insecurities at that age.

    3. coffeeplease*

      sure! I would love to be served by ANYONE – I feel like I rarely see any service anymore with such low staffing at many stores

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        So true. I have had to give up and leave stores because couldn’t find a cashier!

        (Macy’s if you are listening this is one reason you are losing business.)

    4. HannahS*

      I don’t care unless I’m shopping for underwear and getting personal assistance or advice. In that setting, I’d prefer to work with a woman. But like, I’m buying a shirt and a man rings me up? Or I’m trying on pants and ask a man for another size? Don’t care.

    5. Part time lab tech*

      I care more whether cashier are helpful too. Certainly warehouse hardware and shoes has a relatively even gender split and service seems to vary by individual knowledge more than anything else. Perhaps retail stores are missing an opportunity to underpay men in cashier roles;)

    6. Kay*

      I mean – my favorite stylist at Nordy’s, who also acted as my cashier, was male – albeit gay, and Nordstrom carries just about everything! I can’t even imagine why I would need to give the cashier’s gender a second thought.

    7. Jessica*

      Cashier = utterly don’t care.
      Bra fitter or anyone who’s in the dressing rooms for whatever reason = women only please.

    8. Emma*

      I bought jeans one time from a male associate, and actually really liked the experience – I felt like he gave me an honest opinion!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I (32F at the time) was at a shop in Rome on vacation, debating between two sizes in a pair of pants. Sales dude came over and asked if he could help, and I told him I was just pondering sizes. He took a step to the side, pointedly and obviously looked at my butt, and pointed to one pair, then wandered off. And damn if he wasn’t right. :-P

    9. Not A Manager*

      I don’t care about the gender of any employee at a clothing store. I’ve had men help me with clothing in the dressing room, and they do exactly what women do – they get the size/color you ask for, and hand it over the door, or wait until you put your clothes on and open the door. I don’t think a female employee has seen me in undergarments in years. Maybe ever.

      I’d have second thoughts about a man fitting a bra, I guess, but tbh I took a bra to my tailor and he’s male and I didn’t really care. But I know him.

    10. Dandelion*

      Yeah, I would tbh. Usually they don’t come into the fitting room with you anyway. Also, in my experience most cashiers barely take note of what they’re ringing up, at most they glance at it to see if it needs folding.

      If my customer service job is anything to go by, the moment you are out of their queue they also completely forget your existence (and if they do remember you that may not be a good sign).

    11. Phryne*

      I would not care. If I’m being fitted for a bra, I want someone who understands what they are doing, as at my size they are a physical need and not a fashion accessory. Would not care one bit if it was a man if that man is competent. I’ve had male Ob GYNs and physiotherapists touching and seeing me way more intimately, I walk around in a bathing suit in public with as much skin exposed. And who says that woman helping you is straight anyway…?

      1. Jessica*

        I have no idea about her sexual orientation, nor do I care. You’re projecting something here that wasn’t said by any of us who said we’d prefer someone who may see us unclothed or have intimate contact to be a woman.

        1. Gyne*

          Can you elaborate why you’d
          prefer a woman, if sexuality doesn’t matter? Just symmetry of the genitals?

          1. allathian*

            Possibly, although personally I wouldn’t want a person of the gender I’m attracted to, to see me in a vulnerable position and I definitely use clothes as armor against a hostile world. My body shame issues are mine to deal with.

            I also wouldn’t see a male ob/gyn unless it was literally a matter of life and death.

      1. Siege*

        Same, I’m confused by this. I don’t think I’ve had a clerk in the fitting room with me in my entire life, other than for bra fittings, and I don’t care who grabs another size or whatever. The person who can do it promptly and correctly, so not my partner?

        I don’t think I’d care about bra fittings either.

        1. Courageous cat*

          Yeah, are these people in more rural areas maybe? Men work in women’s clothing stores all. the. time. and it’s never even crossed my mind to think twice about it.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      Is this rare in some places? I feel like I get assisted by men at least half of the time in clothes shops.

    13. Morning Reading*

      What is this “service” you speak of? And this elusive concept “women’s clothing store?” I can’t imagine caring about a cashier’s gender if I were to find myself in such a place.

      1. Siege*

        I guess life really is different if you’re plus size! The only “multi-gender” stores my partner and I can shop in is Target because no one else carries plus size in their stores. I guess be fat and you too can get single-gender clothing stores (to hide how fat one is from others, natch.)

        1. Jessica*

          This is a great point. I was initially envisioning a department/discount store environment (eg Target), but when I think about a dedicated women’s clothing store? Well, the ones I can shop in only seem to hire other plus size women, which management may think of as being about the clerks dressing in the product and showing off their brand, but from customer POV it’s at least as much about feeling safe to shop there without getting open contempt from the staff. And also they’re more likely to understand your fit or style challenges.
          Sure, #notallmen, just like #notallskinnywomen, really always #notallwhoever, but doesn’t change the fact that marginalized people may feel more comfortable being vulnerable with their own kind. And almost every fat woman has probably experienced being treated disdainfully by staff in a small size store.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I’ve only ever gotten serious service from a bra fitting, where I’ve also had my bits shoved into a bra, although Torrid does seem to encourage their clerks to help find things.

    14. Minimal Pear*

      I don’t care, even if they’re fitting me for a bra–I’ve had my thigh and hip tattooed by a man so a bra is nothing in comparison.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      As many of us are making an underwear exception, I want to note that men’s underwear is the sine qua non of clothing where you would never expect to have a detailed discussion with the sales clerk about fit, and would instead pick up a 3-pack in cellophane. (And my husband always found Victoria’s Secret’s tables of stacks of underwear really weird.)

      My husband buys his own underwear, and bought it for our son when he was young, solely because he read a statistic that the vast majority of boy’s and men’s underwear is bought by women–moms and then girlfriends or wives–and felt this was way too sad to add himself as a statistical point.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Huh. I have never bought underwear for anybody but myself in all my days, and I’m on my third husband. (But the first one didn’t wear it at all and the second and current are both picky about it in their own various ways, as am I, so that never seemed strange to me.)

        I have offered, if he can give me brand info and sizes, to pick up a pack of something for him if he needs while I’m out and about, and have done so occasionally in the past with socks and undershirts. But never his actual underpants. And I think at this point he just orders it all for himself online.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I was doing a research project for a soap brand targeted at men, and it was a surprise to me how much of that soap was bought by women, for men/boys in their lives. I guess it makes sense — while you’re doing a Target / Rite Aid shop you throw in stuff for the guys in your house, and women do so much of the household shopping it’s bound to happen. (And if you have a pre-teen son, you might care more about his personal hygiene than he does!) But still. My male partners have been in charge of buying their own undies and personal care products, and me mine.

    16. Zephy*

      It will always be my preference that the sales staff Leave Me The Hell Alone while I’m in any kind of store, clothing or otherwise. In fact, when I can ring up my own purchase and leave without having to speak to another human being, that’s my ideal shopping experience. So I don’t care if there’s a gasp MAYUN standing at the cash register in the women’s clothing department (or indeed a woman running the till in the men’s clothing department).

    17. Ranon*

      I worked retail at a women’s clothing retailer and we did have the occasional male employee. Honestly given how much a significant discount on the company’s clothes was a driver for a lot of the employees I think no small part of the discrepancy was the lack of that incentive for folks who didn’t care to wear the company’s clothes

    18. anywhere but here*

      Depends on what “service” means. Ringing me up and answering the question of “hey, where do I find this [item that is not an undergarment]?” sure. Anything having to do with intimates? No. Anything dressing room related? No.

      Caveat: actually I would not want a man ringing up my unmentionables . . . no thank you.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        We used to have guys on the dressing room, but that literally just meant standing at the entrance and checking the number of items being taken in. Some of our stores had women on the left, fellas on the right of the dressing room entrance, with an assistant of any gender in the middle. Ours had different dressing rooms on different floors, and because I can fold a shirt into one of those clear shirt bags, I definitely did my turn at the men’s dressing room, but I was always outside, I would never have gone in

    19. ElastiGirl*

      The best service I’ve gotten when I shopped in high-end clothing stores with employees who provided real help came from gay men. And I don’t care who rings me up as long as they’re accurate and polite.

    20. Busy Middle Manager*

      If I may be the first to state the obvious, most guys who self-select into women’s clothing would be gay, which 100% changes the dynamic. Wonder if you have a story to go with this because TBH it’s confusing how you insinuate it’s all women in these jobs, but how would we feel if a man was in them? I can’t tell if it’s a purely hypothetical question or if something awkward actually happened.

    21. allathian*

      I couldn’t care less about the gender of the cashier, but for anything that involves estimating my size or fitting a bra, women only.

      The only man who sees me in any state other than fully dressed is my husband.

    22. Lbd*

      The last time I was assisted at a clothing store (not simply rung up at the till) it was a male employee. I was very pleased with his advice. It didn’t seem odd at the time because it was a store selling both men’s and women’s wear for work and I was buying rubber boots in men’s sizes. Didn’t have the size I wanted in the price point I was looking at so I asked if they had any ‘in the back’, and mentioned how quickly I go through them at work. He recommended a pair at a higher price that were of a material that would last better. I was happy to have the info and am still pleased with my purchase.
      I would be grateful for any assistance from a man, from “These sizes/styles/whatever are over here,” to suggestions and opinions on colours or styles or fit. If they seem knowledgeable, I would be happy just to have found any employee who was willing to help, not just stuck at the till!

    23. Zona the Great*

      I would have zero issues being served by a man at a clothing store. And I have.

    24. Clisby*

      Don’t care at all about cashier gender. I wouldn’t care about the gender of the person marking up something for tailoring. I don’t want a male in the changing room with me, but I don’t know why that would be necessary anyway.

    25. Elizabeth West*

      When I went to the (I think now-closed) Long Tall Sally shop in London, the sales clerk was a man. He took one look at me and picked the perfect jeans. Dude knew what he was doing.

      I honestly don’t care if the person is professional and knows their stuff.

    26. Observer*

      Would you be ok being served by a man in a women’s clothing store?

      I think you would have to avoid small / family owned stores, if so. Because the minute you start looking at stores where the owner is the operator, there is a very high chance that you’re going to be dealing with a man, and not just at the cash register.

  7. Rebecca*

    Question for people who follow the original keto diet, with 70% of your calories coming from fat:

    (and head’s up, if talking about food restrictions is hard for anyone, skip this thread)

    What do you eat, anyway? I’m trying out a 70% fat, very low carb diet for some health issues. I used to eat a mostly plant based diet filled with grains, beans, and fruit. So, those are out now. Honestly, identifying the carbs and cutting them out was the easy part. Replacing those calories with fat is the hard part. I’m having trouble seeing how one can get 70% of one’s calories from fat without eating straight butter (hey, no hate if you like that! not for me, though) or eating really unhealthy meats like hotdogs that have a lot of fat in them. I do end up pouring a lot of olive oil or butter on my meat and veggies, but it’s kind of not appealing. I changed my afternoon snack to nuts and seeds, but they aren’t really satisfying. So, how do people get that much fat in their diets?

    The other thing is: I am hungry all the damn time, and I am gaining weight (so much for high fat diets are satisfying and calories don’t count if you cut out carbs). How do people combat these things? I had a really good handle on how much to eat on my plant based diet in order to be satiated and still fit into my pants. I no longer know how to do this. Any tips?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      When snacking on nuts and seeds – are you just having them plain? If so, roasting them with your own seasoning choices is a good option to try.

      1. Rebecca*

        Roasted & salted for snacks is my preference! And I buy them that way.
        There is so much food prep involved when you need a specific nutritional profile, and it’s already more labor than I like. I don’t see myself making spiced nuts.

    2. RagingADHD*

      IDK what health issues you’re trying to address, but when it comes to satiety, there is ample scientific evidence that complex carbohydrates are an important factor. The idea that high-fat, low-carb diets are more satisfying and reduce caloric intake just is not borne out long term over large cohorts.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I had to cut out most white carbs for a while when investigating a food intolerance (potatoes are nightshades, and most other white carbs are wheat), so I really appreciated sweet potatoes during that time period! They really plugged a gap for me.

      2. Rebecca*

        Lol, I understand thermodynamics really well. That parenthetical was heavily sarcastic.

    3. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

      Fatty meat! Bacon, 80/20 (or 73/27) ground beef, ribeyes or other fatty cuts of beef. You can fry up chunks of beef fat in a pan for a crispy snack. I’m completely with you on eating straight unadulterated butter, but I looove brown butter bites–they seriously taste like a dessert. Heavy whipping cream has a lot of fat in it. I made a sauce for my shrimp the other night that was just butter, cream, and parmesan–delicious and plenty of fat. I’m 98% carnivore and a breakfast of bacon and a few ounces HWC with my coffee will keep me full well into the afternoon. Sometimes I don’t even need lunch.

      I don’t eat nuts any more but I wonder if they might be contributing to the weight gain–for me it was really easy to eat waaay too many of them, and they never made me feel really satisfied either.

      1. Rebecca*

        Funnily enough, I have shifted away from drinking coffee bc the amount of half and half I add was proving to be inconsistent with my pants continuing to fit.
        The nuts are part of the breakfast muesli that has replaced oatmeal, and yeah, nuts are way more calorically dense than oatmeal. I should check out dairy calories vs nut calories and see whether coffee with cream could replace the muesli for me. Thanks!

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Cappuccinos are quite filling if you still want your coffee fix. Full fat milk makes delicious foam. I buy gold top for this purpose.

    4. Pennyworth*

      Home made mayonnaise has a LOT of fat. I’d avoid any processed food, because that has a whole lot of other problems. Egg yolk is mostly fat.

      A very long time ago the diet book of the day was called Eat Fat and Grow Slim. Briefly it was
      # do not eat anything white, yellow or orange, or fruit
      1. eat fried eggs with bacon every day for breakfast
      2. eat green salad, with oily dressing/mayonnaise and some protein for lunch
      3. eat green vegetables and some protein for dinner, cooked with oil or butter

    5. TechWorker*

      Can you make veggie soups with coconut milk or add cream? Or coconut milk based curry? I feel like when I use a whole tin of coconut milk in curry I am slightly horrified by the calories and I think most of them come from fat?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I make a super filling pineapple curry that is coconut milk based, it’s so easy, you just roast the pineapple and add it coconut milk with some tamari, tamarind and whatever spices you want. You can add whatever protein you want. I roast butternut squash along with the pineapple too, but it could be easily left out to make it lower carb.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      So a) what are some good fat fillers and b) how do you make it satisfying? OK, so for A), I did low carb for a while, and you need things like avocados, full fat thick greek yogurt, cheese (both fresh like cottage, and hard like mozzarella). Whipped cream, peanut butter, dark chocolate with nuts, hummus, salmon and mackerel. I really liked Babybels as snacks! As for B: Protein and fibre tend to provide the best calorie density either way, so you might want to make sure you’re getting enough of those along with your fats (broccoli and mushrooms are my most filling fibre sides, and if you’re having a lot of butter, garlic butter mushrooms!). Protein is pretty self explanatory, add an egg, get a nice serving of chicken/steak etc. Skewers make a nice snack, as does deli meat wrapped pickles and figs. If it still feels like something is lacking: it really depends on how much you personally enjoy a fat priority diet, because if you just don’t, it’s not going to be sustainable for you. Cutting out your carbs is just one way of many ways of reducing your usual calories; it’s not the only way! It definitely makes sense to try; if you’re always reaching for cheese over bread then cutting out the carbs makes sense from an adherence point of view. But, if you’re the reverse type of person who’s always reaching for the bread and pasta, then it doesn’t, unless you’re just reducing weight temporarily. Eventually we will always revert back to our preferred way of eating and every pound you lost comes back when you do that. I’m really enjoying reading Adam Bornstein’s “You can’t screw this up” book as I think he has a balanced approach to whether your inclinations means you’re better off cutting down on carbs, or on fat. In the book each meal base (protein and carb-fibre are prioristed) can have an addition of either one carb or one fat, so you can experiment with which one is most fulfilling for you personally

      1. Rebecca*

        So, low carb and high fat are not the same thing. It’s not just you, most people don’t pick up on that distinction. Overall, the popularization of “keto” has been low carb, but the “70% of calories from fat” part gets lost as everyone pushes protein to replace the carbs.
        I’m not going high fat to lose weight. I’m going high fat to address a health concern, and I’m starting to think I would rather be sick.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah I wasn’t sure if you were losing weight for your health concern or just seeking to rebalance your diet proportions. I see what you mean about many diets pushing to replace everything with protein; fat carries a lot of vitamins/can do all sorts of health related jobs. I did, not the same thing, but similar; I increased non carb foods, especially nutrient rich foods because carbs seemed to be making me feel exhausted. Rather than trying keto to lose weight it was one of the places I looked to for snack ideas and meal plans to regain energy. I feel you on the “would rather be sick” because although I found ways to have tasty meals and be full, I’m always going to want x, y and z carb foods, so the experiment didn’t work for me personally. I definitely recommend cheese and sour cream dip though!

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I think my long reply got eaten, but my best snacks are creamy dips with crudites and Babybels.

    8. kt*

      For satiety and fat, I do things like carrot sticks with peanut butter, but I’m not sure how fiber counts into your current food experiment and how low-carb you’re trying to go. I guess I’m wondering if you can do iceberg lettuce with mayo or raw broccoli with a tahini-avocado dipping sauce, that kind of thing.

      Personally, for satiety I need both the fat/protein and the volume of food, so I’ve been trying to pair (carrot/celery/etc) with a high-fat or high-protein thing. But I am definitely not doing the same diet as you are!

    9. Peanut Person*

      It’s easy if you eat dairy and meat. Cream, sour cream, cream cheese (I eat plain cream cheese, straight up). I make peanut butter fat bombs using peanut butter, coconut oil, and stevia-based chocolate (I use Lily’s brand). Bacon and bacon bits. Cook low-fat cuts of meat (like chicken, ground turkey, pork loin) with butter. Cheese. Pepperoni. We eat a lot of fatty ground beef.

      If you’re ‘hungry all the time,’ I question if you’re eating enough calories, based on how you just mentioned that you’re struggling to consume enough fat.

      A couple of comments you have made (and your last paragraph) display some misunderstandings of keto eating. You’re absolutely trying to fit your old mindset about ‘healthy’ with this new way of eating. why are you focusing on nuts and seeds as the best option for fat? Are you trying to still be within a calorie window? Because once your body is fully fat-adapted (which can take months), you can consume way above BMR for calories and still be losing or maintaining weight. Your metabolism needs to get through the fat adaptation phase first, and that’s where most people quit. They will ‘try keto’ and ‘lose weight’ for a few weeks, but that part is water weight.

      1. Rebecca*

        I’m gaining weight, bruh. I challenge you to find some cases in the medical literature of anyone gaining weight on a calorie deficit.

    10. V.*

      I’ve followed a therapeutic ketogenic diet (with a target of 78% of calories from fat) for about 2.5 years, and have seen tremendous benefits for my neurological disorder.

      You may wish to explore the resources of The Charlie Foundation, which focuses on medical uses of keto; when I was just beginning this way of eating, I did a session with one of the nutritionists listed on their website and she helped me figure out how to reach my fat macros for each meal.

      I usually eat meat or eggs plus a low carb vegetable like salad or zucchini with an avocado. Avocados are a great source of fat + nutrients. I also really enjoy keto baking; Wholesome Yum and All Day I Dream About Food are some good keto baking (and cooking) blogs, if that appeals to you at all.

      At first, it was helpful for me to track my macros with an app (I used Carb Manager) until I got a good handle on the macros of different foods, but now this way of eating is second nature for me and I don’t track anything. At this point, it’s relatively easy and I eat a lot of great food – and it’s helped my medical issues more than anything else.

      I hope it works for you, or you find something else that does – wishing you the best.

    11. Anonymous Koala*

      A good friend of mine does low-cal keto and the bulk of his food volume is green vegetables – lettuces and dark leafy green salads with bacon dripping dressing, broccoli roasted in coconut oil and spices, coconut-milk based curry with chiles, meat, and cruciferous veggies. Maybe more lower calorie veggies with high-fat dressings and sauces would be one way to meet the 70% fat requirement?

  8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I am currently rewatching Babylon 5 and just realized tonight, we are actually closer to the time portrayed in the show (2259, 235 years from now) than to to the signing of the Declaration of Independence (248 years ago). Also, in the second season intro reel, every episode I crack up at the big glaring pink neon sign reading “Reminder: Smoking allowed only in designated areas.” Ah, the 90s.

    1. Sam*

      Someone else who loves Babylon 5! I never run into anyone who has even seen the show in real life, lol.

      Pretty interesting to think how optimistic sci fi writers (especially of those 20-minutes-into-the-future type) are about the future of tech…and yet they don’t quite think how future values will change.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It’s my favorite show ever. We name everything that talks to our network, in themed groups for ease of identification on the router – the alarm system sensors are named for Disney characters, my husband’s personal devices are named after various historical scientists, and all my personal stuff is named after Babylon 5 characters :) My phone is named Zathras and my computers are Delenn and Ivanova.

        My husband and I were just talking about how so much of the show’s theming still holds up today, for good or ill. I mean, Earth in the Star Trek universe was borderline utopia – nobody even used money, as I recall – but B5 has an episode in the first season with a whole-ass labor strike.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            When my husband is not paying attention I pull out Marcus’ line about wild badgers in his trousers, and always, ALWAYS, “I am being nibbled to death by … what is it? Earth creatures, webbed feet, long bill, says quack?” “Cats.” “Cats! I am being nibbled to death by cats.”

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I think I’m now on my 9th Zathras over the years. Always working hard, yes, always someone is using Zathras, never a break.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          They really took the concept of “everybody has their reasons” and went all the way with it.

          There was no Utopia–just ask anyone in Down Below. But everyone kept trying and trying.

        2. Vio*

          Definitely agree. While I like Star Trek, I much prefer the more realistic portrayal of humans being flawed instead of galactic saviours. Babylon 5 was a human station with alien guests so the majority human cast made sense. The Starfleet in Star Trek is supposed to be all races unified but almost always comes across as Humans Front And Centre. Seriously, look at any ship (or station) crew and it looks like a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen. I think one DS9 episode even mentioned a Starfleet ship entirely crewed by Vulcans… so multicultural… and yet in most ways presented as utopian… although in some ways I suppose that level of discrimination and lack of mixing is sadly realistic even if the lack of money (except the “we promise we’re not Jewish stereotypes” Ferengi) is far fetched.

          All that aside, I felt Babylon 5 had better quality of writing overall (Trek has had some really great episodes but some appallingly bad ones) and some clever subtleties. It was great to see Majel Barret guest star in B5 despite the fandom rivalry and the plagiarism rumours too.

        3. Llellayena*

          “You are finite. Zathras is finite. This…is wrong tool”

          I may need a full series rewatch…again. Before I start quoting entire episodes in text…

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I am looking for a time when I can introduce it to my teenager– it deserves some blocks of binge-watching.

    2. Jay*

      Love that show too!
      I also heard some buzz that they might be remaking it in the near future.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It would be great if they re-made it! I haven’t watched it since it was originally aired, but I’d love to see a version with updated special effects – and in which Ivanovna gets to be out and proud.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It’s actually watching the recently released animated film (which I quite enjoyed) that prompted the current rewatch.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I love Babylon 5! It was one of the earliest examples of messy, dark sci-fi–where the heroes didn’t always do the right thing, sometimes drank too much, could be traitors without knowing it, and the consequences informed the storylines.

      And of course, Vir Cotto’s infamous speech to Mr. Morden.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Delen’s warning from the Mimbari battleship. (Goosebumps, I tell you. Goosebumps.)

          1. Lady Alys*

            Just watched that episode tonight!!

            (I hope there is a remake if for no other reason than to give everyone better-fitting uniforms…)

      2. I take tea*

        Add me to the list of B5 lovers. It’s pretty high up on my partner’s and my list to rewatch it. It was our first shared series and my first experience of scifi with a proper story arch spanning over several seasons.

        We often qoute “always listen to Ivanova, Ivanova is God” whenever someone was right about something.

    4. UKDancer*

      I used to love that show when I was at university. We had Babylon 5 marathons. I really liked Ivanova and Delenn and had a massive crush on Marcus Cole. I also really loved watching Walter Koenig playing a bad guy. He can really act if he’s given good material (which he wasn’t in Star Trek in my view).

      1. Llellayena*

        My one cosplay (or Halloween costume depending on event) is a Psycop. Bester fell into the “love to hate, hate to love” category of bad guys.

    5. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Now I want to rewatch it again. I can’t believe its been 30 years since it aired.

      I still use the same trick I saw in the episode where Captain Lochley had to resolve a hostage situation. It ended in sort of a draw and I remember she said something like this, not the exact quote.

      “Sometimes you can’t solve a hard problem, so you solve the part of it that you can and take it from there.”

      Also from G’kar

      I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains.”

    6. Workerbee*

      I just need to squee about how compelling Walter Koenig was in such an unexpectedly sensual way. Unf.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It was so “if this is wrong, I don’t wanna be right,” wasn’t it?

    7. allathian*

      Babylon 5 is my favorite show ever, in any genre. Darker than Star Trek up to and including Enterprise but more optimistic about the future than shows like the Battlestar Galactica remake.

    8. The OG Sleepless*

      Babylon 5! How I loved that show. The only star I’ve ever made myself go meet at DragonCon was Mira Furlan. She was such a wonderful actor and I thought she and Bruce Boxleitner had really good chemistry.

      And oh, Vir’s speech to Morden. Vir didn’t spew hatred toward people very often, so that one time was absolutely deadly.

  9. DJ Abbott*

    I recently finished watching Wu-Tang: an American Saga on Hulu. Highly recommend!
    Produced by RZA, it tells the story of how the Wu-Tang Clan formed amid drug wars on Staten Island, and their journey to fame and fortune. It’s a great story with great examples of leadership and friendship.
    Since it’s not my culture, I watched each episode of the first season twice to understand it better. It’s worth the effort. :)

    1. Zona the Great*

      Wu-Tang changed the game so much and they’ll never be matched. I love every last one of them. Such a great show. Good Recommendation.

  10. Jazz and Manhattans*

    Need recommendations please! I am looking for dried berries but without added sugar or with oil on them. I’m making tea and am looking for dried blueberries and blackberries in particular. I found some dried blueberries at a local store but they had oil on them; I’m assuming to keep them from sticking. A vendor in the U.S. would be helpful due to shipping.

    1. Vanessa*

      Have you considered dehydrating on your own? Dehydrators are great. But there are also oven/low heat instructions.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        I really do need to think about getting one as, yes, it would help in this case!

        1. Enoby*

          If you already have one of those multifunction instant pot/slow cooker/air fryers, it might have a dehydrator function!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, I purchased packets of dry freeze-dried blueberries without added sugar a couple months ago.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I also just saw bags of dried blueberries that, from a quick glance, meet your requirements at Costco this morning.

    3. Jay*

      I don’t think most dried cranberries have anything like that.
      They are also crazy delicious.

      1. Toni*

        Lots of sugar on the dried cranberries I can find in stores – though I am not in the U.S.

        1. Jazz and Manhattans*

          Yeah, I have to look hard for cranberries without sugar but can usually find them (I’m in the U.S.). I have to remember well ahead of time to find them in the fall as I invariably want them!

          1. Jay*

            I’m just realizing, I live in Massachusetts, so I get a lot more cranberry stuff than most places can. I’ve got a big tub of plain dried cranberries (Stop and Shop branded, at that) sitting on my desk as I type this.
            Back in the day, when I live hundreds of miles from here, I seem to remember only getting them covered in various sweet things.
            So, maybe not a good recommendation after all.
            My bad!

    4. captain5xa*

      Try http://www.nuts.com. They have a lot of different berries and may have some dried ones without oils.

      I’ve been using them for years, and yes, they are in the U.S.

      I’ve also dehydrated my own with my Excalibur dehydrator, but I have trouble finding good organic berries locally to dehydrate, hence the ordering from Nuts.com.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Thanks for the thought on nuts.com, I checked them out and they do have the blueberries but not the blackberries. Well, they do have blackberries but they are freeze-dried and I’ not sure how they would work in tea. Its a thought!

    5. Not A Manager*

      The internet informs me that you can dehydrate frozen fruit in a dehydrator. I’ve only ever used my oven to dehydrate fresh items, so I can’t vouch for this, but if it works, frozen fruit can be easier to source and less expensive than fresh.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Thanks! I saw them and freeze-dried blueberries as well. Gonna have to see what else I could get from them.

        1. KeinName*

          Just want to add that dried blueberries are used for diarrhoea so can seriously constipate you. In my country you get them loose from the pharmacy for that purpose, to make into a tea.

        2. MissB*

          You can get freeze dried berries on Amazon or at Walmart. Augason Farms is the ones I buy. I also find them at my local Winco.

          Note that most of these are in the No. 10 cans.

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      I’ve used freeze dried fruits in tea and they’re delicious! They usually don’t have added sugar or oils and I buy them from Trader Joe’s or target. The one caveat is that they create freeze dried fruit ‘dust’ that can sometimes make the tea a bit cloudy – I don’t mind that but if you’re looking for a very clear tea it might not work for you.

    7. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Replying down here for visibility – freeze dried berries would be better for tea than commercially dried berries. Freeze dried foods are frozen/dried so quickly that their cell structures remain the same, so when you add water back in, you end up with almost the same thing you started with. The process of regular fruit dehydration is slower, so you end up with a whole different output. Think grapes to raisins – as the water leaves the grape, it carries sugars with it that then hit the inside of the grapeskin and collect there, a process called ‘case hardening’. This is why raisins have a thicker feeling skin than the grapes they come from. It’s also irreversible, so when you try to rehydrate, you just end up with a wet raisin.

      All to say, freeze dried fruit should be great for tea!

  11. Jackalope*

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

    My reading this week has been Seanan McGuire again. Just finished the third book of her Incryptid series; it was fun, although the female lead’s family was a bunch of jerks. But I’m enjoying the series and it was fun and enjoyable.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I read Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood. Both enjoyable in their own genre.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also Seanan McGuire – I reread her first two Up-And-Under books (written under the ‘nym A. Deborah Baker, as a spinoff from her Middlegame novel), then read #3 and expect to finish #4 tonight. They’re good – I think they’re intended as young adult novels, the main characters are ~10 years old, but I’m enjoying them.

    3. word nerd*

      I’m really enjoying Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire so far, which was recommended here recently. Funny, delightful read that is exactly what I was looking for. I had been disappoined by my last few books (the last one coincidentally also took place in a bookstore), so this is a nice palate cleanser!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I loved “Once Upon a Tome” too – quirky life at a used book store, with emphasis on the quirks. Great fun!

    4. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I read Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh for my boom club (my choice)…left with very mixed feelings. I enjoyed the plot and all the connection it made (and I’ve read a lot of non-plot driven novels lately so it was refreshing)…but it was also trying to do so much and the depth of the relationships felt unearned. I was also turned off a bit on the first couple of pages with how he started describing the main character’s immediate interest in a woman he had barely met…for a modern novel it felt off.
      Now reading The Remains by Margo Glantz that I picked up in a bookshop that specializes in books in translation – apparently she is an extremely well known Mexican author but even as someone who studied Spanish and who feels like I have some knowledge of the ‘greats’ of Latin American literature, I had never heard of her! So far it is very psychological…

    5. Pam Adams*

      Steve Miller, of Liaden fame, died recently, so I’m rereading the series, including the short stories.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Oh no! I’ve been slowly making my way through in publication order (after trying a while ago to do internal chronology, which didn’t work for me). I am about halfway through and will make it last. I’m glad that the Liaden books have high readability and that there are soooo many stories to take detours on as well.

    6. A Girl Named Fred*

      I recently finished “This Is How You Lose The Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. It’s a fairly short novel so it was a quick read, but super good! Time travel shenanigans abound, as the title says, and it was a good book with two women leads falling in love, so I was very glad to have picked it up. :)

    7. don'tbeadork*

      Going back through all my PG Wodehouse now. At the moment I’m doing all the Blandings Castle stories with Uncle Fred on the horizon and then maybe Jeeves & Wooster before I do the Drones.

    8. Tinamedte*

      Just finished reading the fourth and currently last book in the Thursday Murder Club series, Last Devil to Die, by Richard Osman. Really enjoyed the mix of humor, audacity, murder mystery, friendship and sorrow. My kiddo really liked them, too (read it out loud to him while simultaneously editing out or changing the too “adult” parts).

      Right now, delving into books on the brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett and learning interesting new stuff that changes my approach to some things in life. Simultaneously, I enjoy the pep talk and actionable advice in Burnout – the secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. (Yes, I’m on FMLA for exhaustion/mild depression/burnout symptoms :) )

      Highly recommend all of them!

        1. Tinamedte*

          Definitely looking into that, thank you so much for the kindness of sharing the tip!

      1. Angstrom*

        Reading Emily Nagoski’s newest, “Come Together”. Some interesting ideas about visualizing emotional states.

        1. Tinamedte*

          Great, I’ll check that out too! Thanks so much!

          I really like the Nagoski sisters’ take on things, not least the humorous approach they always seem to take :-)

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Just started Sarah Gran’s The Book of the Most Precious Substance and loving it. She’s so good at that “reality just a little to the left of ours” with snark and world weariness, but not in a bitter or exhausting-to-read way. Next up, giving Flannery O’Connor another go with with Wise Blood.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am diving into A Court of Thorns and Roses… much to the discomfort of my teenager. ;)

    11. the tumpet*

      The newest book in Sam Starbuck’s Shivadh Romances, The Royals and the Ramblers, just released, so I’ve picked it up digitally and it’s wonderful! It’s longer than the other books by a bit, so it’s felt very cozy sitting down with it for a good long read session.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      Jade Legacy, the third book in the Green Bones Saga by Fonda Lee, best described as The Godfather with magical kung fu. Nailed the ending to an excellent series.

      Set on a mythical Earth equivalent, the story focuses on the Asia-inspired island of Kekon in the latter half of the 20th century. The society is one generation out of a world war, which was important for forging the current national identity. Adults in their 20s and 30s were kids during the war, or not even born, and the institutions that meant one thing under occupation have evolved into different forms.

      The clan we follow are not the good guys (I have never read or seen The Godfather), but they are compelling characters. The book really captures the feel of an ever evolving landscape, where you might want to focus on your local feud, but international events are going to wash over you no matter what you do.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Meant to include: This book really gets the idea that societies are not written onto a blank slate. They’re forged on top of existing traditions, concerns, feuds, alliances, beliefs, etc. Like the panda’s thumb, they have to work with what they have as starting material.

        There are a few instances in the book of how the interpretation of events can change over time, which I really appreciated.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          This sounds FASCINATING, thank you for sharing! I’m adding it to my list for someday. Can I ask what you mean by the panda’s thumb? I didn’t quite catch whether that was a this-book-specific reference or if it’s part of a general saying I’m unfamiliar with.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            A general reference, from Stephen J Gould’s writing on evolution–the panda ancestors lost the digit that evolved into an opposable thumb for us, and so their opposable thumb evolved from a wrist bone. The bones of the ear evolving from jaw bones is another example–if you were designing from scratch, a lot of bodily systems could work much better.

    13. Lilo*

      I’m reading Everyone on this Train is a Suspect. I actually like it better than the first one, Everyone in my Family had Killed Someone. I’m a classic mystery fan, and it feeds right into that.

    14. BlueCactus*

      I just finished Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar, and it might be the best book I’ve ever read.

    15. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress as usual, including:

      Gander at the Gate by Rory O’Connor, a memoir of his childhood in Ireland in the 1930s.

      What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher, the follow-on to What Moves the Dead; “Feasts” focuses on a kind of nightmare/breath-stealing being, and while it’s quite atmospheric and sometimes terrifying, it didn’t have the same impact for me as “Moves” did.

      The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a lost Australia by Richard Glover – this one’s a nostalgia trip for me; the “lost Australia”of the late ’60s and early ’70s that Glover writes about is quite similar to my youth in those decades. He does contrast the “rosy glow” nostalgia with some hard truths from those days.

    16. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me this week – I have surprised myself by starting to read all the way through Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson. It’s a reference book about housekeeping with chapters on things like kitchen organization, laundry steps & processes, cleaning wood floors, caring for fireplaces, that sort of thing. Doesn’t sound like gripping reading, right? Oh, but it is! It was mentioned by Barry Yourgrau in his book, Mess, and copies are ubiquitous here in used bookshops. Inspired by that, I picked one up and figured I’d get it, flip through it and put it quickly on my reference shelf, but then I read the blurb and learned Mendelson has a Ph.D in philosophy, and then I read the quiet, eloquent foreword and now I’m hooked. This book is poetry! I am currently on the kitchen chapter, “The Center of a Dwelling,” which opens with a serious treatise on the historical use of kitchens (and by whom). Wonderful! I am imagining that an alien from another planet could quickly zap through this book and pass as one of us. It is beautifully written. This and The Joy of Cooking would be wonderful gifts for someone just starting out.

      Then as a bedtime read I am so enjoying Strength in the Storm by Eknath Easwaran, a spiritual teacher who moved from India to the US in the 60s. I read many of his books in the 80s. This book was posthumously published from a manuscript his wife released. It’s a lovely gentle book about meditation and developing a calm mind under any circumstances.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Oh, good! I’m glad it’s not just me. It’s felt truly nerdy to be so riveted by it. It sure will fire up my spring cleaning!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I love Home Comforts! I admit I stalled out in the “taking care of different fabrics” section because everything I own goes in regular wash on Gentle, but she’s so great and makes a wonderful case for the importance and dignity that comes with running a household.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Yeah, I think there will be subjects I will basically skim as inapplicable. I already breezed past the treatise on coffee. As a lifetime sewer, I will love the fabric care section, and expect it will show me that I don’t already know everything about it. And I skipped ahead and I find I do not agree with her method of folding a fitted sheet. My process is half the number of steps, and creates a tidy little package. I tried hers and gave up. But, oh, the writing! What a lovely book.

    17. Josephine Beth*

      Currently reading Feedback by Mira Grant as an audiobook and loving it. I’ve read the 3 original Newsflesh books thanks to someone mentioning them here on AAM and am now basically devouring everything she’s written.

    18. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      From my latest library run:

      Cloud of Witnesses, Dorothy Sayers, a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery that I didn’t remember from my years-ago Sayers binge: fun, light read (for me sometimes the dialect can get tedious — it’s really tough to get Yorkshire on paper! — but there’s not a ton of it and YMMV anyway).

      Moo, Jane Smiley. I love everything of hers I’ve read and this is a re-read. Right up front I’m chuckling over the name of a pig who’s being raised as an experiment in “how big will he get?”: Earl Butz. The people are wonderfully relatable, the dialog is great, and wow does she understand academia.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, I love Moo! Jane was doing committed lesbian couples and intellectual Midwesterners before it was cool.

    19. Irish Teacher.*

      I’ve just read David Walliam’s The Boy in a Dress in Irish and am pretty proud of how well I understood it. There was maybe a word or two on each page I didn’t understand and I could mostly figure them out from context. I know it’s a children’s book, but still.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        David Walliam of Little Britain is an author????? Wow! Thank you for this! I’ve just looked him up and see he’s written numerous children’s books. I’ve ordered Gangsta Granny (giggle!) at the library. You have made my weekend.

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Wow! And it looks like they have the Quentin Blake/Roald Dahl wacky vibe. I can’t wait for the Walliams book to arrive!

          2. Lilo*

            My son didn’t like the Slightly Annoying Elephant because the elephant was too annoying. But it was a silly fun book.

    20. carcinization*

      I had Emshwiller’s The Mount on my wishlist for years and finally found it at a nearby bookstore a month or so ago. Just started reading it and it’s great; I don’t usually read books this short but I think it’ll be worth it.

    21. Girasol*

      Just finished The Magicians. I read somewhere that it was a grown-up Harry Potter but I disagree. It was The Lion The With and The Wardrobe with hormonal teens, sex, violence, and alcohol. Reviews on it are good but it wasn’t my thing. I just picked up Lawn Boy, because I read that it’s a banned book, and am enjoying that.

      1. Lilo*

        I fall into the group who loves it, but Quentin’s self destructive impulses and learning that he can’t run away from his depression really resonated with me.

      2. fallingleavesofnovember*

        One of the few books I started and could not finish. I just really didn’t like the way the women were depicted (I didn’t get super far into it, maybe there was more nuanced later…)

    22. RedinSC*

      I am working on a cute little series called The Glass Library Series by CJ Archer.

      It takes place after another series that she wrote about Glass and Steele, and alternate reality where magic is real.

  12. Jackalope*

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

    We’ve been running a mini-adventure in the D&D campaign I’m running and that’s been fun. It’s taking longer than I anticipated, but I’ve been having fun with it and I think my players have too. I was very impressed with how they managed to get around one of the combats I set up for them (a 30 persuasion roll!).

    1. anon24*

      Last weekend was the end of the DnD campaign that I’d been a part of for over 2 years. It’s the first campaign I’ve ever been in that made it to the end, and it was bittersweet. My character had the most personal motivation to kill the BBEG as she had joined the group while personally hunting him as revenge for kidnapping her partner in crime and I ended up getting the final hit to kill him which felt poetic in a way, but I really enjoyed my character and I’m sad that the story is over and I won’t get to roleplay as her anymore or get to explore more of that world. We had a lot of fun and did some crazy stupid shit.

    2. Jay*

      Getting back into Icarus: First Cohort after their long awaited Battery And Power Network update.
      Also still messing around with Diablo IV, although I’ve already completed the Season with one character.

    3. sara*

      Wanted a cozy/less stressful game to play on switch so found Carto (and it was on sale!). Only played for a very short time last night but it’s cute and an interesting game mechanism. I’ve been playing zelta (totk) for the last few weeks and it’s very good but also a lot.

      Probably going to do a board game night with my parents and brother on Sunday. Our latest faves have been Wingspan and Everdell. Speaking of cozy…

    4. Bibliovore*

      I have never gamed. Not in person, not on line. I was intrigued by the good news posting about a AAM like game.
      Is there such thing as a starter game? Do I need a different device? Can I do it on my computer or does it happen on a phone? or an ipad?
      Yes I am a boomer.
      Please treat me kindly but also with the mental abilities of kindergartner when it comes to this topic.
      Question: How do I start gaming?

      1. anon24*

        Oh boy, there is a world awaiting you! Yes, you can game on your computer. What games you can play depends on how good your computer is. You can start with simple games, and if you end up “hooked” upgrade your device down the road to play better games. I used to play here and there on a tablet, then started playing games on a laptop, and now I have a PC that I built myself out of $4k worth of parts so that I can play pretty much anything on top settings and do VR as well.
        As to starting, what are you interested in? A lot of people really love Stardew Valley, which can be played on a phone or computer. I played it a few years ago on the computer when I was just starting to get into PC gaming (PC gaming is what we call it when you play a game on any type of laptop, desktop computer, etc). I enjoyed it a lot as it’s simple for a beginner but engaging enough to keep my attention. The premise is that you’ve inherited a run down farm in a small town and have to get it working again, but there’s also places to explore, townspeople to befriend, and things to do. The graphics are 2D pixelated, so easy and fun. I put a few hundred hours into it before moving onto more intense games and never picking it back up and I know they’ve added onto it quite a lot since then. Now I mostly play single player open world games like Skyrim, the Witcher, some of the newer Assassins Creed Games, and I’ve been enjoying the heck out of Baldurs Gate 3, but I wouldn’t recommend them as your first gaming experience as they can be a little overwhelming.
        To get games you install a store onto your device. If you are using a computer the most popular one is Steam. Some people also use Epic, and I really like GOG too, but as a newbie I’d go with Steam (I use Steam and GOG). You create an account, go to the store and will see thousands of game options, from free to very expensive. Each game will have a description and computer specs (minimum/recommended) If a game looks interesting, make sure your computer can run it by checking the spec list (it will have things like ram, GPU (which is rpur graphics card) and other things. You can find this info in the about device section of your settings). Then if you still want the game, download it, and start playing!
        Don’t be disheartened if you hate a game. We all have a few games in our libraries that were disappointing and that we will never touch again, but we also all have games that we’ve put embarrassing amounts of time into (don’t ask me about the 1000+ hours I’ve put into both Skyrim and the Witcher games).
        If you have any questions, ask here and if I see your comments I’ll answer the best I can!

      2. Jackalope*

        It depends on what kind of gaming you’re interested in. When I’m using the term here I’m referring to playing any kind of games: card games, board games, video games, role-playing games, etc. I’m guessing that you’re probably already familiar with the first two; you get together with other people and either a deck of cards (could be a standard 52 card deck or a deck that’s created specifically for the game you’re playing) or a board game and then play. Some of those games are even meant for one person (for example, you’ve probably heard of Solitaire played with a regular deck of cards).

        With video games, you need to purchase some sort of gaming equipment like a PlayStation or a Nintendo Switch and then purchase games that can be put into said system so you can play. If you’re thinking about video games I recommend trying them out first at a friend’s place because if you haven’t played them before they can be challenging to pick up because they involve a lot of fiddly eye/hand coordination. You want to try and see if you’re interested before shelling out money for a system.

        Role-playing games (the best known game that I’m familiar with is D&D, or Dungeons and Dragons) are games where you get together with a group of people (this can be in-person or online) and following the rules of the game you make up a a story together. Often those games involve using dice as a way to help you make up the story. For example, in D&D if you want to attack an enemy you roll a twenty-sided die and if you roll above a certain number your attack succeeds and if you roll below that number it fails. Other games use six-sided dice to make the rolls under the assumption that more people will have them. If you’re interested in this kind of game then I’d recommend going one of two routes: either find a group you can play with online or find a group in your area (could be friends of yours, could be strangers who have a group that they want to welcome others to). Either way, since you don’t have past experience I strongly recommend finding someone else who knows how to play that can get you started rather than trying to pick up a rule book and learn it yourself.

        Does that help? With video gaming it’s likely to come down to having someone you know that can help you, although a store that sells video games might be able to help. For the others (card, board, and role-playing), I would recommend going to a local game store and seeing if they have connections (many game stores have setups for people to come play in their stores and they also often have lists of people playing specific games who are open to newbies). Meetup is also a reasonable option. Both of those last two assume that you’re in a place with enough people that it will have a decent gaming store or Meetup group, but just looking on the internet for your home town/city and gaming could also help you find something.

        Let me know if you have any other questions. Since the question about gaming is pretty big because of the many types of games, some of this is fairly broad. But if one of the above options is more interesting to you than the others then I might be able to give better specifics.

  13. Jackalope*

    So based on advice from various people on here a few months ago, I am now at a Comic Con! I’m having fun, and looking forward to the weekend a lot. Wanted to see if anyone had any particularly fun or interesting Con stories they wanted to share. What stuck out to you when you went?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I met my husband at GenCon … geez, 21 years ago now. We were friends for ten years before we started dating, and spearheaded a group that ran an old World of Darkness LARP for something like 13-14 years.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yup! Kind of enjoying getting to play around in downtown Seattle as well as go to the Con!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The underground tour was honestly quite fascinating, something I would not expect to say about wandering around basements.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Give a call to Pagliacci Pizza and I can set you up with a delicious pie!

    2. GoryDetails*

      I went to my first con in the ’80s, and had a lovely “so HERE are my people!” feeling the whole time. The film-track rooms featured many favorite fantasy and SF films, plus some that were new to me – anybody else remember “The Wizard of Speed and Time”? – and the art room and dealer room were heaven.

    3. ElastiGirl*

      We used to go to San Diego Comic Con (the mothership of Comic Cons) every year. My personal favorite memory: We had rented a stunning apartment about a mile and a half from the convention center. My daughter, about 13 at the time and a huge Doctor Who fan, asked if she could get up early to get in line for the Doctor Who panel in Hall H (6,000 seats).

      I said yes. But I failed to ask her for her definition of “early.”

      I assumed she meant, oh, 6:30. No.

      She got up at 3:00 a.m. and walked by herself the mile and a half through a major city’s downtown area (brushing near Skid Row) in darkness.

      She informed me later that she mostly walked down the middle of the streets because they were empty and some of the people on the sidewalks were scary. Um, yeah.

      We joined her in line, breakfast in hand, at about 10, got in to see both David Tennant and Matt Smith, and all was well. But I learned a valuable lesson about just how determined my daughter could be.

      Some years later, we sadly stopped going to SDCC after the logistics got wildly out of control and they hired a new security company that treated attendees like dirt. (I have horror stories.). Would love to try a more intimate CC.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      1- Enjoy Seattle.

      2- Amused that I’m writing this Saturday morning after spending all day Friday at ECCC with my nibblings.

      3- What always stands out is not what people love, but how much they love it. A majority of the costumes I see are from media I don’t recognize, but I see people investing hours of work and hundreds of dollars to make random bits of nostalgia (I mean, not just a Dark Helmet costume, a Dark Helmet Summer/Desert costume.)

      4- I volunteered for ECCC for several years and got to meet several celebrities But my ask time favorite Con story was this:
      I was working on Floor 2 of Building 1. The gaming section that year was on Floor 2 of Building 2. I didn’t most of my day explaining to people, “You have two choices: you can go up one floor, take the sky bridge across the street, then go down one floor. OR, you can go down one floor, cross the street, enter the other building, and go up one floor.” No fooling, I had a person come up to me dressed as a chicken (chicken mask, human clothes, chicken feet) and ask me where the gaming section was. (clouds parted, angels sang) “Sir, you’re going to have to cross the road.” I live at peace because I finally know the answer to the eternal question! The chicken crossed the road BECAUSE I TOLD HIM TO.

  14. Anonymous Canuck*

    Going anonymouse for this.
    Sometime this year, I will have a surgery, that although minor will take a month or two to recover from. I have googled “name of surgery” + “aftercare”, but I need ideas on how to prepare.
    I live alone. What are some tips on how to make my life easier while recovering? I’m thinking of getting one of those grabbing sticks in case I drop something and can’t bend down. Cooking and freezing meals. What else?
    I’m not specifying what kind of surgery to avoid any possibility of medical advice. The idea of surgery is stressing me out and making plans (exerting control on what I can) helps.

    1. HannahS*

      This is kind of vague, but I’d take a day or two and rigorously pay attention to everything you do that requires the movements that will be restricted afterwards. Like, let’s say you won’t be able to bend down easily. For two days, pay attention to every single time you bend down, and think about how you could still do what you need (perhaps you’ll need a sock-putter-on-er, maybe you should move all the baking trays to the upper cupboard instead of below the oven, etc.)

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

        If they’re going to give you compression socks to wear after the surgery, you might even need a special compression sock-putter-on-er.

    2. Pam Adams*

      definitely the grabbing stick.

      if you will have bandages or a cast on your arm/leg, look for cast covers to keep the area dry when bathing.

      Rinseless shampoo and bathing cloths are also handy.

    3. Indolent Libertine*

      Someone here pointed me to the Total Hip Replacement Forum group on Facebook when I was facing that surgery last year. (Awesome group, led by a physical therapist who has had both hips replaced!) So there is probably a similar group for whatever surgery you’re having. The hip group had comprehensive “files” with detailed lists of how to prepare your home, pre-hab exercises to do if you could, just a ton of great info.

    4. captain5xa*

      If your surgery requires physical (PT) or occupational therapy (OT) afterwards or during recovery, these folks should be able to help you with things that help, especially the OTs as that’s kind of their job. ;-). They should be able to recommend assistive devices (like the grabbing stick you mentioned) or specific movements to use or avoid.

      If you won’t be getting PT / OT at the hospital, you could ask your doctor for a referral for one session with each discipline BEFORE SURGERY. That might ease some of your worry.

    5. Jessica*

      I don’t know if you’ll be able to drive (or if you do now!) or if your mobility will be limited, but assuming that if nothing else you might be slower, tired, or in pain: think about shopping.
      Can you stock up on nonperishables (maybe especially heavy things if lifting will be a concern) so you already have all you need in the house for the recovery period?
      If you don’t currently use/haven’t previously used grocery delivery, maybe figure that out in advance in case you want it.

      Do all the laundry in the house in advance. Make sure you have enough clothes (at least underwear and pajamas and socks) to carry you for longer than normal in case you don’t feel up to doing laundry for a while.

      However this works where you live, will you be capable of taking out the trash? Think about whether there’s anything you’ll need help with, even if it’s less “daily personal care” and more “occasional thing I might not be strong enough to do,” and how you might get help.

      Maybe some disposable dishes? For when you barely have the strength to get out of bed and find something to eat, and none left over for cleaning anything up.

      Entertainment? Think about what you enjoy that’ll be accessible to you, and also what kind of content would be a pleasant distraction when you might not be feeling great. Audiobooks? Streaming subscription? Whatever would suit you.

      I would contact my actual doctor’s office and ask them to give me the printed aftercare instructions that they probably have and intend to hand to you after you have the surgery. Every time I’ve ever been in that situation I have ALWAYS found something I wished I’d been warned about beforehand.

      Good luck! I hope it all goes as smoothly as possible for you.

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        I found, when I came home from an unexpected surgery and hadn’t done laundry for awhile, that there are services that will pick it up and return it the next day washed and folded. I took advantage of that for a couple of months. It’s very nice if it’s financially feasible.

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

      You might not be allowed to shower right away anyway, but whenever they do let you shower, maybe a shower chair so you can sit instead of stand? They have some where the legs are half in and half out of the tub and you can sit down on the seat outside and then scoot the seat into the bath/shower. One of those shower heads on a long flexible tube?

      If you’ll have weight restrictions, maybe get or put your shampoo and conditioner in smaller bottles that are easier to manage. I guess I’d say that about heavy food and drink too. Like, stock your fridge with multiple small containers of milk or cream instead of one big one.

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

        Maybe a walker, too, if that won’t mess with your recovery. It might feel nice and stable to have something to hang on to as you make it to the bathroom when you feel lousy.

        Also, you might be able to ask your doctors if they could recommend/prescribe a visiting nurse service or personal care service for a week or two after your surgery. That way, you don’t have to be in the house alone all the time, and you can have assistance with anything random you haven’t thought of. And if you get a nurse, you’ll have someone who can hopefully weigh in about how urgent any weird post-surgery symptoms may or may not be.

        If your surgeon gives you a number to call if you have any questions or concerns after surgery, and you do have questions or concerns, use it! Don’t be shy. If you’re having a complication, your surgeon wants to catch that sooner rather than later. Even if it’s nothing, hopefully, talking to a professional about it can ease your mind so that you can truly relax and rest well.

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

          I apologize for commenting so much in this thread, but I just saw that you were Canadian, and my cousin who lives alone in Canada had some major abdominal surgery and faced a similar dilemma. She had to pay to stay in a rehab place herself, as it wasn’t covered by OHIP, but she investigated some rehab places in advance and paid up for a week’s stay in one, just to make sure she could heal up well enough to manage at home. I think they would have let her pay to stay longer if she had needed it, and when she was in the hospital longer than planned, it wasn’t a problem. She just dropped off her luggage at the rehab place on her way to surgery so all her stuff was there for her when she needed it.

    7. Jay*

      Robes, slippers, super loose, baggy clothes.
      Basically stuff that you can take on and off with your mobility impaired.

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

        Lots of clean clothes that can go over any incision that’s healing to keep the dressing unsullied until the next dressing change. Like, when I had an appendectomy, I had lots of clean granny panties and clean sweats handy to keep that area covered.

      1. Pennyworth*

        And if a fanny pack might not be compatible with surgery scars, get a small shoulder bag.

        1. Zephy*

          Tbf you can wear a fanny pack slung across the chest/over the shoulder as well as around the waist like a belt – I’m told the kids find the “bandolier” position quite trendy these days.

    8. Recovering*

      Of course it will depend so much on what the surgery is and on your general health, but I want to chime in that I live by myself and had surgery last month, and overall recovery has been really easy! Some things I did to prepare:
      -Made sure I had a plan for a surgery buddy who would be with me the day of, drive me home, and stay with me for the first 24 hours as I was recovering from the anesthesia.
      -Put together a thank you gift for my surgery buddy.
      -Deep cleaned my apartment.
      -Caught up on laundry. Put fresh sheets on my bed.
      -Stocked up on groceries, including things I can tolerate while nauseated, which really helped because the anesthesia did give me nausea. Prepared some meals.
      -Stocked up on medications and supplements I planned to use.
      -Got disposable bowls, plates, forks, and spoons so I wouldn’t have to worry about dishes during the first days of recovery. Also straws so I could drink and stay hydrated while lying down/reclining.
      -Moved items I thought I would need to counters and tables where they would be easy to reach.
      -Stocked up on wipes to use if I didn’t feel up to showering.
      -Got extra books from the library, bookmarked some podcasts to listen to, picked a show to binge.
      -Haunted a Reddit forum for the health condition related to my surgery–reading specific stories from others who had been through the surgery really helped me a lot in terms of knowing what kinds of things to expect.
      -Gave friends and family a heads up, which led to offers to drop by and help with things as needed. I didn’t need personal care, but during the first few days when I was very limited, it was super nice to have someone drop by to take out my trash, move some things around, sweep, etc.
      -Focused on maintaining my workout routine before surgery–I figured the better my fitness and mobility before surgery, the quicker I would regain mobility after.
      -Asked my surgeon a million questions which really helped me feel confident and comfortable about the plan.

    9. Firebird*

      Lots of good ideas here. A wheeled table or cart is handy, so you don’t have to carry things.
      For meals, check with Meals on Wheels or your church if you belong to one. Luckily, people dropping off food didn’t mind opening things for me because I wasn’t allowed to use one arm for 8 weeks.
      For showers, I used a transfer chair (like a shower chair, but longer so it is half in and half out of the tub.) My kids changed my shower head to a hand-held shower head, which is so nice.
      I made a chart and used a timer to make sure that I didn’t goof up my medications. Don’t wait until pain hits to take you painkillers. I also made sure to get rid of the childproof caps.
      Good luck with your surgery.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Tip for anyone in case you didn’t know, just calling this out for emphasis: if you don’t need and want childproof caps, like I have no kids and can’t operate the damn things at the best of times, pharmacies will happily swap them out to plain old snap-on or screw top lids for you. (Some pill bottle styles, you can actually just flip the childproof lid upside down to get a plain screw-on or snap-in lid, but usually I’ve just asked the pharmacist to swap.)

        1. Two cents*

          I DID NOT KNOW THIS! Thank you for telling me about it! I am hopeless at childproof caps. I have a child at the moment, so I won’t be able to switch immediately, but someday….

    10. tybee lane*

      Grabber for sure, possibly more than one (mine broke a couple of weeks in and the replacement took a few days to come!)

      Slip on footwear, avoiding laces and zips if you’re not able to bend down.

      Double or triple up on your layers of bed sheets so you can just take one off when it’s dirty and there’s a clean one already underneath and you don’t have to wrestle with putting new ones on.

      Depending on the surgery you may find toileting difficult so in the absence of a bidet keep a couple of plastic tumblers/jugs nearby to rinse yourself down.

      Look into arrangements with local pharmacies around deliveries etc. if you’re on post-operative medication that you can’t collect yourself.

      Put at much as you can at counter height early so you don’t have to bend down for things. Also consider a power strip/bar with a long lead so you can comfortably have it nearby without having to reach for sockets.

      Best of luck when the time comes ;)

    11. Pennyworth*

      If any sort of rehabilitation or exercises are recommended, it really helps your recovery if you can do them diligently. I have a hydrotherapy pool nearby that I use quite often, and post hip and knee replacement recovery is very good for the people who are able to attend. I also use hydrotherapy exercises to strengthen my injured shoulder with a view to avoiding surgery.

      As well as cooking and freezing meals, get in a supply of n0-effort-at-all food (like instant soup, instant noodles, whatever you like) for the times when everything is too hard. If you drop something and can’t pick it up, the world won’t end if you let it lie.

      All the best for your surgery.

    12. Damn it, Hardison!*

      For what it’s worth, I posted a similar question here about shoulder surgery and no one offered medical advice, just lots of good suggestions.

      I had shoulder surgery this week, and had been dealing with a broken shoulder for 3 weeks prior to that. There are so many good suggestions here! My favorite things: reacher/grabber tool, caddy for all the random stuff I want at all time (Kleenex, hand lotion, wipes for glasses, etc.) so that I can easily take it from room to room (mine is felt diaper caddy with lots of pockets; be sure to get one that is light). AM/PM pill containers to keep all my meds in order, grippy socks, electric plug ins that transform any lamp to be controlled by a remote (bought on Amazon), shower chair and mesh sling to wear in the shower, oversized sweats to wear to surgery and after, soft stretchy pajamas, and several fleece ponchos that button up and fit over my sling, ice packs specifically for shoulder injuries (come with a stretchy band that holds them in place).

      Good luck with your surgery and healing!

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Evaluate your home for accessibility. I suggest moving onto one stair-free floor for at least the first night. Even if that means trading a shower for a washcloth at the sink. Have a bedside (or sofa-side) location for a water bottle and your morning medicines. Especially nice to not have to go search for painkillers.
      Since painkillers make us foggy, set up your meds in a way that you don’t accidentally take a dose twice. (labelled box, checklist, cuckoo clock…)

      Hospitals tell you to have someone to take you home and stay with you for X hours. I will add to make sure that person can help you up your front steps.

      And of course have a selection of shows to watch that will not make you laugh the first day or three!

      good luck.

    14. Minimal Pear*

      Do as much of a deep clean of your home as you can, because you really won’t want to be cleaning later. Get everything out of the way that you need to, and make sure stuff you’ll been is accessible. When I had foot surgery I picked up a lot of stuff that I normally just leave on the floor (oops) and moved things down from higher shelves, because I was using a wheelchair.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      If chest or shoulder surgery, you won’t be able to lift your arms very high. (“T-rex arms” is the term.) For example, I could reach the counters and the silverware drawer, but would have been unable to get any plates or mugs out of the upper cupboards. You also will have a really rough time opening things, etc–anything where you’re directing force through the chest muscles.

      General anesthesia and some of the drugs you might have right after surgery can cause constipation. You might think “I’ll be too out of it to care” but no, your mind will sculpt out a teeny personal hellscape in which you cannot move your bowels, even though you really need to, that sits atop all the other misery. Have the stool softener on hand (available otc at a pharmacy) and either take it preemptively once/day until you have your first normal bm, or at least at the first sign of any trouble.

      It is helpful to have another person for the first few days, just for the things you don’t realize are a problem until there they are, being a problem. Many living alone people have a relative who comes for that time (I am drawing on experience of my fellow cancer patients here), and if you have not been granted such relatives you can often hire someone. Some people were like “I will need help, and coping with my sibling is the opposite of that” and found someone they could pay.

    16. Dancing Otter*

      • If it’s abdominal surgery, I recommend a pillow to clutch in case of coughing or sneezing. Also practice rolling out of bed rather than sitting up first (with you know, your abs, ouch!).

      • Check the expiration date on the perishables before you go to the hospital. I came home after a longer-than-expected stay to bad milk and iffy yogurt.

      • Seconding the advice to get a shower seat, and further recommending a grab bar or two. (I got the suction cup kind, that can be repositioned as needed.) Pain killers can make you dizzy, even if the surgery itself doesn’t affect your ability to stand.

      • Will you leave the hospital or surgical center with a supply of painkillers, or will you need to stop at a pharmacy on the way home? Can that be done in advance?

      • If it’s shoulder or arm surgery, practice how you can do things one-handed. Don’t stock up on canned soup if you won’t be able to open cans.

      • Is there a laundry service with pickup/delivery available? You may or may not need it, but a good option to research.

    17. JSPA*

      in my case, for [body part] surgery, there’s a [body part] brace available OTC that similarly limits range of motion, and is commonly used to enforce limited motion after surgery. As it’s also neutral-to-helpful for [condition] pre-surgery, I’ve sometimes been wearing the brace in [circumstances where it’s not classically used pre-surgery] to get some muscle memory in place, and to understand where other options / aid will be helpful or needed.

      Noting that many solutions already exist for limited flex, limited strength, limited vision or view, extra space (etc) for common conditions. If you add “arthritis” or “aide” or “high visibility” or words that signal some other situation or condition that’s common, and that impacts the body in similar ways, you’ll find them. “ergonomic” and “lightweight” are also useful search terms.

      A solidly built phone tripod has been unexpectedly helpful through two surgeries (and counting) as have simple-entry velcro fastened solid shoes; a wrap skirt customized with velcro that’s long enough to be a house dress; two spa-style robes soft enough to sleep in and proper enough to get the mail from the box; a warm wool (itchlessly-lined and edged) thrift store cape that fastens with one giant, easy-to-fumble-in button; two new fitted sheets for the bed, with looser corners and edges, that don’t have to be fought with, to go on and off; a stretching program focused entirely on toilet needs / having access options that don’t torque or bend what should not be torqued or bent; pre-testing tolerable stool-softeners (everyone’s different); pre-testing back-brushes for more general shower needs; having easy-on minimalist shirts in a flexible material for physical therapy (and deciding “no bra” is fine for that, I’m allowed to have nip outlines, especially in a medical setting).

      I also either needed to drop the wash line by at least a foot (dangerous, in my particular case) or add more accessible hooks for hanging things (to dry, or otherwise). So there are now a lot of hooks, anyplace I won’t snag on in passing.

      Essential and lightweight pots / pans and easy-to-grab cups and dishes moved into better reach, the rest banished to the back. Economy-size detergent (etc) likewise shoved back, and enough of the small sizes bought (as pouring in a measured way uses all sorts of muscles).

    18. Once too Often*

      Think about things that will be difficult to do that someone who wants to help could do easily. Eg, taking out trash.

      Your friends are likely to want to help, and you’re likely to need some things done, so thinking about a list now could be useful.
      It also helps match friends to tasks. There are people I’d ask to set out the trash who I couldn’t ask to change my bed or do a grocery run. You’ll likely expand your list post surgery, but it’ll be easier to add things than to create the whole thing.

    19. sara*

      Maybe find a “home base” that’s not just your bed – set up a spot that you think will be comfy and get it set up with charging cords for phone etc, easy access to tv remote, non-perishable snacks, etc. After my mum had surgery, she found she wanted to have options for where to hang out.

      As someone else who also lives alone, the first thing that pops to mind is also some sort of back-up plan – like if recovery is more intense or my activities are more restricted than usual, maybe a rotation of family/friends/paid help who could come do things like laundry, put groceries away, make meals, etc. You’ll know better how necessary this might be. And in the case of friends/family, if there’s isn’t stuff to do, then at least a nice visit.

      Oh, and I’ve a few times come and been “person in the house while I have a shower” post various surgeries – folks who were worried about slipping/dizziness etc in the shower and asked me to pop over just in case. And in some cases help reapply bandages after.

    20. Girasol*

      I called my insurance company about any benefits they had for people who live alone and are recovering from illness or surgery. They offered some pleasant surprises. Not sure what insurance (if any) you might have, but it could pay to call their customer service and ask your questions there.

    21. fhqwhgads*

      I’m recovering from surgery right now! Here’s one that came up for me a lot in the past few days: ice.
      If your surgical site (or hell even your IV/anesthesia sites) will be iceable afterward, you’re gonna want to have multiple ice packs. Gel packs get not-cold-enough-to-be-helpful in about ten minutes, and you shouldn’t really keep one on for more than 20 minutes at a time BUT you want the ice pack you use when you next grab one to be super cold. Which means having multiples on rotation so whatever ice pack you’re using has been in the freezer for at least four hours.

    22. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      Great suggestions here, especially the grabbing gizmo and the stool softeners. Get the pain med schedule really clear and keep those in a separate pill container so it’s screamingly obvious which little box has the goods. I bought a jacket to wear around the house — super soft, patch pockets, no buttons, wide collar to turn up — that was not only helpful in managing temperature but also comforting, a little gift from past me to post-surgery me. Ditto with soft blankets — not giant ones for the bed but smallish and light but warm, that cover your lap and legs. Slippers with grippy soles help too. If you are a member of a religious community, does it have volunteers who do home visits for folks? (I was a member, then the chair, of such a group in my own church.) Meals — I found it helpful to freeze portions of soup or stew in small bags, flat, and then stand them up in the freezer — less space and easy to see what was there. A couple of attractive water bottles with simple tops make it easy to push fluids, assuming that’s something you’ll be asked to do.

    23. RedinSC*

      Hire a cleaning person or company to come and do the cleaning while you recover.

      Depending on things think about one of those chairs that helps you stand up out of them (they’re motorized and slowly stand you up). Maybe you can rent one for the time needed, because they’re pretty expensive.

      If you have a group of friends, especially for the first few weeks, see if they can do a rotation with you so you’ve got someone with you when you can shower/bath, etc.

      Apple watch or other device to call for help if you need it (or fall or something).

    24. Dicey Tillerman*

      I’m scheduled for surgery in two weeks, so I’m following this thread with interest! Someone upthread suggested a plug that lets you control a lamp with a remote. I ended up buying light bulbs that I can control from my phone, and as a fun bonus, they can change colors, so I can come home from surgery to my own personal disco!

  15. Writerling*

    Writer (tools) thread! I know Scrivener is talked about, a lot, and a classmate (writing class) mentioned/recommended Plottr as well. I looked up alternatives because I can’t pay for anything extra right now, and wondering if anyone’s used Manuskript?

    Or in the typical “plotter or pantser” vein, what have you found works best for you to visualize/think of a story’s flow? I’m usually messy in one ginormous draft but thinking I may adopt the note card to wall ‘method’ if only to look like a detective solving a case (which isn’t too far off lol).

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’m a big fan of the Snowflake method, where you start with a one-sentence description and build out.

      I like Scrivener, but I have also worked just fine by having an outline all in one document and filling in.

      I tend to write out of order when I write fiction, so having the outline tells me where the snippets and scenes go.

      1. Writerling*

        Ohh I hadn’t heard of that one! I’m guessing it works for any build up (scene, world building, character insights, etc), and I might have to try it out. Maybe that’ll become my outline :0

        Ahh makes sense, my friend does the same and I envy that a bit. My outline is mostly in my head, and weirdly I write chronologically *most* of the time (minus story beginnings where I word vomit everything or I’m possessed by a scene). The latest outline I tried uhh… bled over. Two chapters became four… lol. Nothing’s stopping me from trying writing out of order though! Note to self: try it intentionally.

        1. RagingADHD*

          It’s actually for the whole structure, not just for individual scenes, though you can also use it that way.

          It sounds like maybe you are trying to move to outlining/ drafting too soon? I do a lot of pre-writing and what I call “composting” of material (pile it up and let it cook in its own heat) before I move to what I would consider a proper outline and draft.

          The structure is born out of the nature of the story, so I have to get to a certain point before I really know what kind of story it is and how to outline it.

          But if you’re interested, it’s called The Snowflake Method of Novel Writing by Randy Ingmondsen (not 100 percent on the spelling there)

          1. Writerling*

            I love the “composting” idea! I guess I don’t usually need to outline much as I write mostly short stories, except my novel (and sequel(s)), novella and… fanfics?? (The latter I’m fine winging hahaha)

            That makes sense, every story doesn’t need the same structure so that’s a good way to go about it. I’ll check out the book, thanks! :D (Goodreads tells me it’s Ingermanson)

    2. Maryn*

      I’m a plotter for longer works, a pantser for short stories.

      I use a spreadsheet for plotting novels. There’s a column for setting, date/time, every character, and anything important, i.e. who has the stolen llama. The rows are plot points. Usually it ends up about 50 x 50, which is plenty for a novel.

      But that’s what works for me, and every writer is different. Try the index cards. Try outlines, snowflake, beats, bios, maps, writing the query first, writing the synopsis first, writing out of order… Trying everything is how to figure out what works best for you.

      I’m kind of old school and don’t use any software other than my freebie word processing. But I know a lot of writers online and many swear by their favorites, including Scrivener, FocusWriter, WordWeb, Grammarly, Scapple, and Plottr. (I have no idea which are free.)

      One thing that comes up often when they discuss such tools is that it’s worth taking the time to figure out everything it can do. Most people who use Scrivener are apparently only touching the surface, they tell me.

      1. Writerling*

        You said that and it’s like a light bulb went off, I might be as well! (Though I still have an iffy relationship with outlines atm, lol)

        I’ve mostly used LibreOffice, definitely nothing fancy. I did give FocusWriter a try, before I had to change laptops, and it worked pretty well (that one’s free!) except in the document type or something? Why don’t I give that one a shot again, agh.

        That’s true, my writing instructor said the same thing! Very sensible advice :)

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            Agreed. I’m 150 pages into a Google Doc. I’m not putting out for software until I actually sell something.

            1. Maryn*

              Be aware that Google Docs sometimes starts freezing up on big documents and at least a few times has failed to save what you just added. So like anything important, back it up somewhere besides there.

              (Keeping your browser’s temporary cache of files empty helps this issue, people are telling the one it happened to.)

              Happy writing!

            2. Writerling*

              I’ve read iffy things about potential future AI implementations with Google Docs (reading/editing the work? I don’t remember) so I’ve been more reluctant to use it lately (not that I use it much for writing, mostly for sharing). A big TBD, but it’s a lot more convenient to take places than a laptop half the time.

              Happy writing indeed! To the day we sell something :)

              1. Maryn*

                There’s much discussion at online writing communities about every backup site (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Docs, etc.) in the US and Canada “scraping” what’s stored there, without permission or informing the writer, in order to further train AI. (Europe has laws preventing this.)

                Some people recommend protecting each document with a unique password so the storage site cannot access it. Like we need more passwords to remember! I haven’t done it yet, but I probably should. I use Dropbox and they say there’s an opt-out link, but no one seems able to find it, even with the “help” of customer service. We are opted-in by default.

                1. Writerling*

                  Ugh, yeah the (mostly?) American default… Unless you specifically seek out software with servers in Europe for better protections but… :(

                  LibreOffice works great! Lol (so do pen and paper)

    3. ElastiGirl*

      I am a big fan of the white board. I color code characters/storylines. I like seeing the whole story at once — it feels more cohesive than working with note cards. And I take a photo whenever I need to erase or make big changes.

      1. Writerling*

        Ohh you have an actual white board! #goals I think I’d enjoy working with one (re: detective wrestling with a case feel). I don’t know why I first read “white board” and my brain went “Kanban method!” I haven’t even used that, though now I want to. Ahh so many possibilities, this one’s going on the “after the next move” list.

    4. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I mostly write short stories and don’t plot those (just endless rewrites…ha), but for longer pieces I’ve tried a few things. One that I liked was like your notecard to the wall idea—I stuck post-its on the wall while I was still working out the novel’s story, so I could move things around easily. I liked it so much that I kept the post-its up while I was drafting, but then they started to fall off and I was starting every writing session by trying to fix them so…maybe push-pins and index cards for me next time. If I already have a decent idea of the structure and want to kind of test and visualize it, I’ve drawn out key scenes along rising and falling action, so I can get a better idea for what the reading experience might end up being. (For work that isn’t really going in a linear way, I’ve tried drawing it in other ways—like, this piece has a circular structure, and testing if the key moments are fitting in that structure.) And, last thing, I tried using Scrivener because in theory it should have worked well for my current novel, but I was so confused—so I wound up having separate Word files for each chapter so I could more easily jump in and out and change chapter numbers without moving huge chunks of text. Now that I’m into revisions I have it all in one big file, but something about drafting with just one chapter at a time helped me, and then I could just look at the file list to get a real quick refresher of the structure.

      1. Writerling*

        I’m with you on not plotting short stories (on rewrite #2…3? for one story, just be better already! haha). Good tip about the post-its, unless you can magnet/pin them somewhere…

        Oh that’s a good idea about drawing out the scenes’ rising and falling action, think I’ll save that when the first draft is completed and I can go in for more… specific revisions. Also why I don’t have separate chapter files because that’s not quite set yet :’) (Soon, I tell myself as I don’t write.)

    5. Girasol*

      I tried Snowflake because it makes so much sense, but decided after all that it’s not me. I’m a pantser. I make a rough outline, start writing, realize that I’m using the wrong character’s perspective, and start over. Then I realize that I started in the wrong place (the beginning is an awful place to start but I keep doing it) so I start over from somewhere else in the timeline and flash back to the beginning. Several restarts in, everything clicks. I like the pantser process in spite of all the rework because exploring a story several different ways seems to result in appealing twists that greatly improve the plan of the original outline.

      1. Writerling*

        Hah, yeah the more I read about methods and attempt outlines – which to be fair isn’t all that often yet and simply externalizing what little structure is in my head – the more I think I function better as a pantser anyway. Even with outlines I’ll have scenes pop up that I couldn’t have predicted but fit perfectly etc. I think it’s great you’re restarting every time because with every attempt you get more familiar with the story and it’ll come out in the best way that it can! I’m still curious if I *could* outline a story before I start writing it, or if I need to “compost”/germinate it first anyway. There’s so much to try :’)

    6. AGD*

      GIANT pieces of paper. Like craft paper that comes in rolls. Colorful Sharpies. I do a lot of planning in advance, then press go and pants my way through unexpected stuff.

      1. Writerling*

        Ohh a flexible, non-erasable white board! Love it, love the “press go” and subsequent pantsing xD

  16. PhyllisB*

    I need some virtual hugs. My mother (93) is not doing well. She injured her hip (no break, she’s had x-rays three separate times.)
    Her doctors would not give her any pain meds so we consulted with hospice and they will, so we signed her up. (Note, you do NOT have to be terminal to go on hospice care in case anyone needs to know this.)
    Y’all, she has gone down SO FAST!! At Christmas she was still blowing and going, then since January she has been bedridden, and now she’s getting delusional. (Thought my sister was her youngest grandson today and told her to turn out the light and go to bed.) Earlier today she told her she missed her daily walk because she had too much company during the day. My sister who is a nurse is here overseeing her care and getting ready to move her into her home, but she says she doesn’t think she has long to live.
    She had a panic attack while I was there with my sister-in-law and the sitter (sister had a doctor’s appointment) and I….didn’t handle it well. I had been told about them but it’s the first time I’ve witnessed one.
    I’m not really asking for advice; I just wanted to share and ask for good thoughts for us while we navigate this.
    I guess it’s so hard for me because it happened SO FAST!!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sending you a virtual hug. This is so, so hard. I wish your and your family peaceful, good visits with your mom.

      (One thought, with apologies for mentioning the obvious if you’ve already pursued this idea:
      Perhaps she has a urinary tract infection? That can manifest in elders as cognitive confusion.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! Get this checked out, and her nutrient/vitamin levels. Those can really go haywire fast.

      2. Annie*

        I have a younger relative who dealt with a urinary tract infection, and it wasn’t detected until psychological symptoms came up, so it’s not just an old person problem! They’re doing fine now, thankfully.

      3. PhyllisB*

        I did think of this, I assume my sister will to, but I will mention it. Sis says the meds she’s taking for anxiety can cause this. Thanks for the suggestion.

      4. Enoby*

        We always knew my grandfather had a UTI because he’d suddenly be unable to pay bills and start tripping over his own feet. Never had pain or anything. Just suddenly got very confused. Once the antibiotics (which can also cause confusion) were done, he’d be right back to balancing his checkbook and driving to the grocery store.

      5. JSPA*

        came to say this, not as medical advice in this specific case, but because in the elderly, hallucinations are often the first sign, by many days, of UTI. And there are multiple factors in the situation that would predispose to UTI.

    2. don'tbeadork*

      This is really hard. One thing that might help you is to remember that the delusional thing is not uncommon. Once she’s back in familiar surroundings she may well do better, but that transition is going to possibly make things look a bit worse for a short time. Transitions seem to be really triggering for the elderly just starting to show signs of dementia, so when she is moved from my BIL’s to her daughter’s house, or back to the ancestral home with someone staying with her she gets really confused and has strange delusions, like we’re government spies or we are living in a hotel instead of a house.

      With my elderly MIL we find going along with the delusion as much as possible helps shorten the time she is confused. She’ll get locked into trying to insist that what she thinks is happening is real if we try to straighten her out about what really is going on. When we calmly agree and work her delusion into whatever it is we’re trying to get her to do it works better.

      I know it’s hard. You’ll get through it. It’s scary seeing someone who was so strong for us when we were little losing herself. You’ll feel like you are the only one in this situation but you are not alone. Lots of us have been down this road (or are still traveling along it).

    3. Bookworm in Stitches*

      ((((hugs)))), PhyllisB. I’m so glad you have family navigating this with you.

    4. Ellen Ripley*

      Nothing can really prepare us for experiences this, so please have some self compassion! You’re in a difficult position too.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m so sorry. Something very similar happened with my grandmother. Please be gentle with yourself, and ask for help when you need it. I hope you have a good support system to help you through this difficult time.

    6. Kathenus*

      Definitely sending a virtual hug, I’ve been on the other end of quick family declines. Hope that no one takes this the wrong way, but I think there’s some mercy in a quick decline versus a lingering one with low quality of life. I’ve lived through both with my family and the ones I still look back on with so much sadness are the people who had long, unhappy end of life situations. Sending supportive vibes to you and your family.

    7. Jay*

      How well did you research the Hospice facility?
      We had issues with the one my grandfather was in lying to us about the care he was receiving and the condition he was in. We started noticing that he would be completely fine leaving the hospital, go to the hospice, decline severely, go back to the hospital for a couple of days, be good as new, back to the hospice, decline, wash, rinse, repeat.
      Unfortunately, we just didn’t realize in time how poorly they were treating him there, how badly he was being neglected. Turns out, most of what the hospital was doing was giving him food and fluids and seeing he got his medication when he was supposed to.
      Ask around. Go with your gut. Don’t just take their word for everything.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Not specifically at Jay, but just so people are aware: Hospice isn’t always a place. “In hospice” means that you get support from a hospice agency, and there are different insurance rules and treatment expectations. Many people remain at home or in the home of a loved one when they are “in hospice.” My mother stayed in her care facility at the end of her life, but she was visited by hospice nurses who oversaw her final experience.

        1. AnonRN*

          Yes, and not doubting Jay’s experience but that doesn’t sound like a typical Hospice arrangement at all. Under Hospice care the Hospice organization becomes the primary caregiver and manages all the care (which is why your mother was visited by their nurses in addition to the care home staff). The person is only hospitalized in the event of unmanageable symptoms (pain, anxiety, respiratory distress are probably the biggest). There is no goal of treating an illness…no lab work, no procedures, medications only to promote comfort or help alleviate symptoms not treat a disease, etc. Jay’s experience sounds more like the (all-too-common) nursing home/hospital cycle. Hospice care can be provided in nursing homes but the goals of care are usually different.

    8. Not A Manager*

      Dear Phyllis, my thoughts are with you. I’m so sorry that you have to face this. I’ve provided end-of-life care for loved ones and it’s very, very hard.

      I think when people are mostly healthy, we tend to see their bodies and their minds as two separate things – the “real” person inhabits the body but isn’t the same as the body. As the body starts to fail, though, it can be helpful to start to see the body and the person as more interconnected. Your mother’s body is full of meds, and it’s in pain, and possibly it’s starting to shut down. All of that will affect how she perceives the world, and how she interacts with the world.

      I’m not sure what my point is here, really, but for me it was helpful when my loved ones behaved in frightening and unfamiliar ways, to see their behavior less as a manifestation of personality and more as a manifestation of a physical experience.

      This next observation might be too soon for you to want to think about it. If so, please forgive me for bringing it up. But if in fact this is an end-of-life experience for your mother, in the future you might be grateful that it happened “so fast.” It sounds like your mother was mostly physically healthy and mentally intact prior to now. If she, and your family, have a brief upheaval and possibly brief discomfort at the very end of her life, that might be preferable to a slow decline and loss of faculties and autonomy that so many families have to address. Which doesn’t make it any less difficult now, of course.

      I send my deepest good wishes to you and your family. I’m glad that you all seem to be in agreement about your mother’s care. I’m glad that you have her in hospice and on pain meds. I hope that you find sustenance and support from your community at this time.

    9. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Oh, this is so hard! I know it’s scary. No one expects you to be perfect. But think about things she loves. Certain smells, certain music, rituals that can be calming. Try to make her environment as soothing as possible. And I totally agree with going along with whatever she thinks is happening instead of trying to tell her she’s wrong. And be sure to take care of yourself, too. You can’t draw water out of an empty well. Just try to make her as comfortable and happy as you can. You have all my love and many many hugs.

    10. ElastiGirl*

      “With the End in Mind” by Kathryn Mannix is an intensely helpful and even encouraging book for what you’re going through. I’m so sorry.

    11. Girasol*

      It’s so hard to watch that when you feel like you ought to be doing something about it and there’s so little that you can do. Have you talked to the hospice people about your perspective? They’re usually trained to help the family as well as the patient and might be able to help lighten your load.

    12. Florence Reese*

      Phyllis – I have nothing to really offer except sympathy and good thoughts. I can’t remember the exact timeline, but I know you’ve had a lot of difficult, painful scenarios with your extended family over the last several years. It’s totally understandable that this would be hard too! I’m so sorry for you and your sister, and I hope things improve when your mom moves to sis’s house. Be gentle with yourself as much as you can. Lots and lots of virtual hugs to you and your family.

    13. WestsideStory*

      Sending you big hugs, and only suggesting you check on any added meds. My mom had similar delusions because what she was given didn’t react well with what she’d been taking for years for her diabetes and heart condition.
      It’s good you got hospice – even if not ultimately needed those folks are really helpful to the families.
      Thinking good thoughts for you all.

    14. RedinSC*

      I’m so sorry. *Hugs* sending you all the good thoughts and healing thoughts for your mom.

    15. kitto*

      sending you a big hug. i’m so sorry that your mum is sick, and that things aren’t looking positive. i hope that you and your family can hold one another through this, but also be gentle with yourself – this is legitimately hard and you’re doing your absolute best. take care <3

  17. Dwight Schrute*

    looking for book recommendations!

    I loved ACOTAR and am making my way through Throne of Glass and then plan to read Crescent City.

    However, I would really love a similarly spicy and fantasy set novel with better prose and writing. So I guess I’m searching for similarly romantic fantasy books but with more world building and better writing.

    Thank you!

    1. Phryne*

      I would be curious if this precious unicorn exists… In my experience, these are usually just not combined. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of world building in SJM’s books (in spite of the obvious large plotholes, I still enjoyed). But I have the general impression that really good world building and enjoyable spicyness are just two different genres for different audiences…
      The early Sookie Stackhouse books were pretty well written and spicy I thought, if not great prose, def entertaining. It petered out a bit in later books though, never made it to the end.
      The books I’ve read by JK Jemisin (broken earth series and the inheritance trilogy) have both good world building and some definite spice.
      Laurell K Hamilton writes very spicy fantasy, though I found the world building up and down.
      If be curious too if anyone has recommendations for this.

      1. Double A*

        I don’t even remember a romance much less spice in the broken earth trilogy… It’s been a while though!

        1. Phryne*

          Not a lot no, there is an interlude on an island (in the second book I think?), but what there is, is pretty spicy. Would not read that one as light entertainment anyway, it’s pretty bleak.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a fan of the Mercy Thomson series (Patricia Briggs) and the Kate Daniels series (Iona Andrews)

      If you need trigger warnings, look them up for the whole series before getting hooked. Briggs in particular knows trauma doesn’t disappear from one book to the next.

      1. Nihil Scio*


        Also RJ Blain, ‘romantic comedies with a body count’. The first 15 or so are great
        Faith Hunter. Her Skinwalker books are wonderful; the Soulwood series even more so
        Nalini Singh. Soooo well written.
        Anne Bishop. Her Books of the Others are amazing but very little spice

    3. Minimal Pear*

      Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner doesn’t get explicit but it is very horny (at least in the parts focusing on two of the characters) in a way I found really fun to read. There’s also a sequel.
      Also not spicy but Margaret Rogerson does great romantasy.
      T. Kingfisher is great if you want competent, interesting women with large, kind men. (Other combos as well but that’s her bread and butter.)
      The Tithenai chronicles by Fox Meadows are great romantasy with sex scenes (but the series does pretty much begin with a rape scene). These ones are M/M.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know objectively about the quality of the writing, but I think the world building is pretty extensive and there is definitely spicy (with various levels of BDSM twinge, depending on how many scovilles you want in your spicy), in Jacqueline Carey’s d’Angeline books. There’s, I think, three trilogies, each written in the first person and focusing around a different main character, and each passes through different sections of the world, which is very much recognizable as our geography somewhere in the nebulous 1600s-ish with Groucho Marx false nose and mustache on, but also a very different sort of societal structure. I liked the whole set. (She’s also rewritten one section – I forget whether it’s just one finite book or more – of the original trilogy from the POV of another key character, and I thought that added a whole ‘nother layer to the story that I enjoyed.)

      The original trilogy that started the whole thing starts with Kushiel’s Dart.

      1. Llellayena*

        Writing quality on this is excellent! I recommend them to many people (after ascertaining if they’re ok with BDSM because, except for the 3rd trilogy, it’s unavoidable and can get quite graphic). It’s fascinating to see the reinterpretation of cultural history in various parts of the world.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh good! Like I said, I personally quite like the books and particularly the world-building, especially in the third trilogy when they get way out of “Europe,” but I read so much and so quickly that I’m not very discerning about actual writing quality in most fiction.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      T. Kingfisher’s Paladin’s Noun series. Starts with Paladin’s Grace.

      I actually read these despite the romance element (I prefer that to be a minor side plot), but the characters are all likable and–important to me–they have some sort of friends or community, so I’m not thinking “Oh dear, this badass loner desperately needs some friends, not an all-purpose romantic partner who can now be their everything.”

      The world (same as Clocktower Boys and Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking) is well-built and the Order of the White Rat deeply interesting.

    6. Double A*

      There’s romance but not very much spice in Lee Barduga’s Shadow & Bone series, though I like the Six of Crows duology better. The writing is good and the world building solid.

      I think when you list spice, great world building, and great writing it’s going to be like…pick 2. So which two are you most interested in?

    7. Dwight Schrute*

      I know this is a big ask but I was hoping this magical trifecta exists lol

      thank you for the suggestions thus far!

    8. carcinization*

      Not sure if Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu books would be too “out there” for this?

    9. Virtual Light*

      I think that the Jacqueline Carey (spice was the point) or the Kingfisher is about as close as you are going to get. Though there is some spice, the Kingfisher books have a great world and emotional romance elements. I would also suggest A.J. Lancaster Stariel books. They are not spicy (except the fourth one is, m/m) but really fun and well-written with a great world.

      Lois McMaster Bujold often includes romantic elements in her many fantasy and sci-fi books, all of which are impeccably written. Spice is not her thing, though she has no problem with taking on the politics of gender and sexual equality. For Fantasy there is Paladin of Souls amid the other books in that world, and the Sharing Knife trilogy which was an age-gap romance. There is also a romance over a few of the Penric and Desdemona novellas she is writing now. In her sci-fi Vorkosigan books a few are romances, including the first one, Shards of Honor.

      If you are willing to go further sci-fi, (though with a lot of fantasy/ magic elements) the Liaden books have a few that were specifically written as Space Regencies: Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, and Mouse and Dragon. Low spice.

      Sharon Shinn’s The Elemental Blessings books, starting with Troubled Waters. No spice but lovely fantasy romance. Juliet Marillier also writes this kind of fantasy romance, also – you guessed it – not spicy. It might also be worth rooting around in Patricia McKillip’s backlist, though she leans heavily mythopoeic (no spice but beautiful writing).

      The Alpennia books by Heather Rose Jones are in a very well-drawn fantasy world and feature female pairings. It’s been a while since I read these, but IIRC not spicy.

      There is a verrrrrrrrry slow-burn romance in Victoria Goddard’s Lays of the Hearthfire books, starting with The Hands of the Emperor. The world is amazing, but the books are really very long and there is zero spice. It is such a slow burn that I didn’t realize it was even happening for like hundreds and hundreds of pages. Probably not what you want.

      A lot of the Mercedes Lackey books have romantic elements but sometimes in odd and dated ways. The Valdemar books can be a bit formulaic with like a tiny bit of occasional spice, she also has a series with magic and more romantic elements in Victorian London, no spice.

      I read a lot in these genres and my conclusion is that this is a marketing issue. Either it’s written “for women” (i.e., urban fantasy) and so romance and spice is fine, and the world looks down on it critically (because it’s marketed to women). Or it’s “serious” and the way the publishing world shows that is by making it as unlike as what’s being marketed to women as possible. I mean, obviously people don’t have to write spice in their books if it’s not their thing! The exceptions of Lancaster, Goddard, Kingfisher have tended to start with self-publishing these types of books and I don’t think this is a coincidence. Here endeth the rant.

    10. Forensic13*

      Sara Douglass writes some WEIRD but compelling books that I think fit this. She does EPIC fantasy, so very long and complicated, with plenty of spice. (Again, often very weird spice, from my recollection).

      I liked The Wayfarer Redemption series a lot, though I admit I never finished it because I missed the later books’ publishing.

      A series similar enough that I assumed it was the same author just now is the Symphony series by Elizabeth Haydon, first book called: Rhapsody: Child of Blood. I’m betting this one holds up slightly less well than I remember (the prose was fairly purple,) but it could be another to check out.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another thought that adds humor into the spicy romantasy mix: The Emerging Queens series by Jamie K. Schmidt.
      (If you’ve gone to sf/f conventions or gaming cons, you like I may feel you’ve met these people!)

    12. MuseumNerd*

      I just finished book 2 of Tasha Suri’s The Burning Kingdom’s series. It’s a fantasy world based on the near east with a lesbian romance story. The world building is really gorgeous and I like that it has strong female leads who are each flawed and unique. It also has a lot of interesting themes about religion and tradition. The only downside (for me) is I usually only start a series if it’s already complete because now I’ve read the first two and have to wait for the conclusion for who knows how long.

  18. hopeKittyIsOK*

    I’m going to try to take my kitty to the vet tomorrow to get checked out. She did something odd today (elimination related) that might indicate a health issue, and I’m going to call the vet center and see if they can see her somehow.

    If you would consider praying for her or thinking good thoughts, I’d appreciate it! She’s about 10 and has seemed fairly healthy, but this is concerning.


    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Of course! Our furbabies can really worry us, can’t they?

      Be sure to write down all the kinds of food, treats and meds your kitty is on. With Peanut, we worked out that the dried salmon we were putting on his food was giving him a bad stomach.

    2. Pennyworth*

      Sending good thoughts to you and your kitty ! I hope the vet is able to set her on the road back to good health.

    3. TPS Reporter*

      best wishes kitty! check for urgent care in your area too if needed. one just popped up near me

    4. office hobbit*

      Best wishes to your kitty!! And a hug for you if you want one, kitty medical worries can be frightening.

    5. kitto*

      thinking so many positive thoughts in your kitty’s direction this weekend. i hope that whatever is going on is temporary and an easy fix that will heal up without causing her any more discomfort. good luck at the vet, fingers crossed

    6. Puffle*

      Sending good thoughts to you both! Fingers crossed all goes well and it’s nothing too serious

      My kitty had a worrying elimination symptom a few years ago- the vet put her on a prescription diet and zero problems since then, hoping your kitty is similar

  19. Bookworm in Stitches*

    For those with ceramic tile kitchen floors what cleaning products and equipment do you use?

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Just a mop. Frequent quick wipedown with water; occasional deeper clean with sudsy ammonia.

      (The tile in my house has some cracking and some mortar issues, so I’m leery about doing anything stronger. Given the age of the house I’ll have to check for asbestos glue before a floor reno…so the longer I can postponeit the better.)

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Shark steam cleaner, water and steam are usually enough without any specific cleaner, unless there is a nasty spill or something.

    3. SuprisinglyADHD*

      A dishpan of hot water with a cap-full of PineSol (generic cause it’s cheaper), and a squeeze-sponge mop. I’m looking for something less labor-intensive myself, I hate mopping.

  20. The Prettiest Curse*

    We had a really fun thread on over-rated books thread a while back, so let’s do one for under-rated books.

    My favourite under-rated book is Dirty Weekend by Helen Zahavi (published in the US as The Weekend.) It’s about a woman who gets fed up of being spied on by her creepy neighbour (and of creepy men in general), so she kills him and then goes on a rampage. This book was hugely controversial when it came out in the 90s. It was later made into a bad film and now seems to be mostly forgotten. It was a book ahead of its time and I think it’s overdue for a revival.

    Anyway, tell me about your favourite under-rated book!

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      The Small Hours by Susie Boyt – a take on therapy, awkwardness, and how to live a life that is funny and weird.

      1. Loved and Missed*

        The NYRB reissue of Susie Boyt’s Loved and Missed was mentioned in a New York Times newsletter a while back. I loved it! Thanks for mentioning this one.

    2. Mobie's Mom*

      I don’t know if it’s underrated, exactly, but it’s a book I love that makes me laugh every time, and no one seems to have heard of it. It’s called Hens Dancing, by Raffaella Barker – basically a hot mess of a British mom finds out her husband, with whom she owns a business, is having an affair, he leaves her, and she is just a hot mess trying to get through it all. I don’t know, it’s just fun!

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Code Name Verity. It’s an incredible YA historical fiction about teen girls who are a spy and a pilot during WWII, primarily narrated in the form of a forced confession in a German prison. It was published after I started teaching middle school but I’ve only ever encountered one student who’s read it, and no other adults.

      1. fposte*

        Code Name Verity is *amazing.* It did actually get a fair bit of attention in the library world when it came out (Printz Honor, Carnegie shortlist) but it doesn’t get talked about as much since. I think some of that is the skew towards fantasy in people’s YA tastes.

        Rose under Fire (sequel) and The Pearl Thief (prequel) don’t pack the same punch but are, IMHO, worth reading.

        Code Name Verity and The Book Thief are probably the two works from that era that come to my mind most often. And I’m not that much of an historical fiction person.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah, I don’t remember how I found it but I rarely see it on booklists or anything. You’re right though that popular fiction, especially for kids, tends to skew fantasy/sci-fi.

          The Book Thief is gorgeous. I read it over a decade ago and still think about it frequently.

          1. fposte*

            I love finding people with shared book experiences like this. Thanks for bringing it up.

      2. Double A*

        “Let the Right One In.” The movie got attention for being good, but the book was excellent.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I haven’t read the book, but I loved the movie (the original one, not the American remake). I’ll have to check it out.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Code Name Verity was amazing. I actually heard about it here, I think, possibly from fposte, and read it a couple years ago.

    4. Anon Poster*

      A book I LOVED when I read it was The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. Set in 1950s post-war London, there are parties and friendship and crumbling estates and sadness and a little romance. The spirit of Elvis Presley looms in the background. It was such a fun book. A friend and I both read it/loved it and were convinced it would get short TV adaptation we’d watch on PBS one day. Almost two decades later we’re both the only people we know IRL who have read this book. It got a lot of love online when it came out, but that love did not translate to real life in our little corner of the world.

      1. Weekend Warrior*

        This was recently featured as the February read for Miranda Mill’s Comfort Book Club on Youtube! It is a delightful and poignant book that deserves a wide audience. I thought one of the most touching moments was when Talitha notes that the end of rationing (in 1954!) means that her husband and the other war dead are really gone and the world has moved on. And it has and it has to. Teenagers in love with Johnnie Ray can’t be denied!

    5. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I think it’s better known in England since you all got a movie of it, but here in the U.S. not many people (that I know anyway) are aware of it. Gothic goodness.

      1. Geezercat*

        I loved that book! (and yes, I’m in the US). I made the book club I was in read it, so there are at least 8 other women who have read it :)

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      I adore Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury. He’s obviously well known, but this particular novel was the first I remember reading that truly highlighted how magical language could be. I save re-reads for special occasions.

      The romantic mystery novels of Mary Stewart, who basically helped create that genre. Her first novel, Madam, Will You Talk? is so good you can’t believe it’s a first novel. Warning: these books are of their time, and sex/race attitudes can be…an issue.

      1. Jackalope*

        Dandelion Wine is an amazing book. Ray Bradbury definitely excelled in short stories; some of his novels are good as well but not as amazing. And the book has such an explicit tone.

    7. Fickle Pickle*

      The Golden Compass series. I was so disappointed they didn’t pick up the movie after the first one, cast was great.

      1. carcinization*

        I heard good things about the His Dark Materials series they did on HBO, but haven’t seen it. But it looks like it went three seasons.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I blitzed through the first season in a single day, I enjoyed it so much. We don’t still have HBO, which is why I’ve never finished it, but the first season at least was EXCELLENT.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        The HBO adaptation is great! I feel like some of the changes/pacing are a little off in the third season but overall the cast and visuals are excellent and they stayed pretty true to the books.

    8. Llellayena*

      There are three books based on the Myst computer game: Book of Atrus, Book of Ti’ana, and Book of D’ni. Excellent world building and really deep philosophical issues.

    9. Charlotte Lucas*

      An Alien Music, a YA novel by Annabel Johnson from the early 80s. I read it several times as a young teen, and it’s virtually unknown these days. I loved the coming of age story combined with a diverse group of characters and the end of life on earth. Also, first reference to global warming that I came across at the time.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me of an obscure YA novel from the seventies: Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater! It’s very, very seventies–for one thing, the parents and then the older sister of the main character all take off on vacations and leave him alone in the house with no one thinking “uh…” but it’s a fun, fun story about lizards from another planet who broadcast their concerts on network TV after programming goes off for the day (ahhh, seventies.)

      2. Wy-leen*

        Oh my goodness, I loved An Alien Music! I also read it multiple times, and I’ve never come across anyone else who has. Time to find a copy and re-read!

    10. Magdalena*

      It may not be completely\ underrated as it got a couple awards but The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. A 19-year old half-goblin banished from court for being born to the least favored of the wives of the emperor suddenly finds himself heir to the throne. He’s overwhelmed and afraid but he’s also a smart and kind person with a talent for finding his people. The world-building is great, and the characters vivid. The book is fairly slow-paced in terms of the plot but a lot is happening between the characters. It’s very well written as well… not a single false note is how I’d describe it.
      I was sure I’d find it in print in any large English language bookstore when I visited Amsterdam last year. We went to several (really) large English bookstores and not only did they not have it, they had not even heard of it.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The far too few books by Janet Kagan.
      -Uhura’s Song, described to me as “a Star Trek novel worth reading”
      –Mirabile (especially if you can get the original paperback with the connecting text that links the stories as if characters are telling stories to each other late at night)
      –The Collected Kagan (There are some stories in here that I dislike, and some that are deeply disturbing, but many I’d love to see on the big screen. “Butterfly Wingding” done Studio Ghibli style would thrill me. “Winging It” and “Fighting Words” feel lije Pixar.)

  21. Dandelion*

    So I have a friend who is a trans woman and has recently started to learn about bras (mainly to see if they’re something she wants to wear or not). Sometimes she apologises for asking about what are “probably incredibly obvious things” but it occurred to me that some of the stuff I was explaining really isn’t obvious at all, and that many people who wear bras all their life also don’t know. There’s probably even stuff *I* don’t know.

    So in order to prove to my friend that no, she is not an idiot for not magically intuiting this stuff now that the front bumper is growing, I figured I’d have a little thread here: what are things people generally don’t know about how bras work that you’ve found, or what is something you wish people would tell anyone starting to wear them?

    My three are:
    – wearing bras is not a requirement if you are comfy without, though being visibly braless may be an issue in certain locations.

    – the straps are not supposed to dig in to you shoulders. They are not where the support happens. If the straps dig into your shoulders, loosen them.

    – those three sets of hooks on the band are not there to help with the fit – at least not in a new bra. If you like a snugger fit, it’s better to go down a band size. After a while the band will stretch and lose its function – then you can use a different set of hooks. They’re there to basically extend the lifespan of your bra.

    1. Toni*

      If you’re light skinned: white bras (and undershirts, camisoles, etc.) can be seen though other garments. Buy a beige/camel/something that matches your skin colour for invisibility/neutrality.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        In college, my roommate and I had an argument about this! She was Black and insisted you always wear a black bra under white clothes. I am white and very pale. And you bet people could see a black bra under white on me! (At the time I didn’t have a black bra and white shirt to prove her wrong.)

        If you have a pink skin tone, matte pink can also work. But always check in good light before going anywhere.

      2. Magdalena*

        I have not worn a white bra in ages but now I am wondering what specific use they have?

    2. NorwegianTree*

      I actually was told by a male friend as an adult that I was definitely using the wrong size, and should go down in size around and up in cup, and it turned out he was completely right!

      1. o_gal*

        And on the other hand, sometimes the “right” size bra will not be. Do not let a bra fitter pressure you into going with what your measurements say is the right size, especially if it hurts! I’ve had 2 pro bra fits, from 2 different stores, and both times they wanted to put me in a 36 when I normally choose to wear a 40 or 42. They said that the measurements were that I should be in a 36 D. IT HURT! It was so, so, so tight on me. I said no thanks, bought my 40C/42C (different brands feel different so I try them on and see which ones feel better), and left happy.

        1. Seashell*

          Yeah, I have heard that a properly-fitting bra should be too tight to be able to turn it around when the shoulder straps aren’t on. I don’t think I could even get a bra like that on without assistance! I have shoulder pain these days, and my arms are short to begin with, so I hook it in the front and turn it around.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, I do the same thing. I’m fat and my arms are short and I don’t have the coordination to hook the bra behind my back anyway. I’m always amazed when I learn that some people can actually do that.

            I wash mine in a bra bag.

        2. Pieforbreakfast*

          I’ve had this experience, too. If I can’t wear a bra comfortably for more than 8 hours I’m going up a band size.

          1. amoeba*

            Certainly depends on how much support you need – for me, the tight band is the only way to get through the day *without* pain, because otherwise the weight on my shoulders will kill me within half an hour!

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          And size is completely dependent on brand, I find. One brand’s version of my size is perfection, another seems to have been designed for a camel or platypus, but not me.

        4. I just really can’t think of a name*

          I don’t know if you’ll see this, but a 42C is more like a 36F (DDD), so the bra you tried on felt tight because it was way too small for you. Many women wear a band size that’s much too big, with a cup size that’s much too small. If you don’t like the support and shape you’re getting, I’d recommend trying a smaller band size again – but with larger cups.

    3. Two cents*

      Hand wash bras! It elongates their lives and makes them muuuuch slower to stretch out of shape.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          This. You can often get away with a machine wash on a cold delicate cycle, especially if you use a delicates bag, but it’s the dryer that really does them in.

    4. Ellen Ripley*

      Things my mom taught me:

      When you go to a store to try them on, bring a variety of sizes into the changing room. I usually grab my expected size, then +/- a band size, and +/- a cup size. Yes, you end up trying on a lot but sometimes you think you have the right size but the next one you try feels even better!

      Hand wash or wash in a bra bag in the washing machine, gently squeeze out remaining water with a clean towel, and lay flat/hang to dry.

      Things I learned as an adult:

      For me wide bands are more comfortable. (Usually 3 sets of hooks are a good sign)

      Make sure you try out a lot of different shapes and styles, and think about what outfits need what kind of bra. I have an athletic bra for wfh, a smooth slightly padded bra for under tshirts, a skin tone bra for more transparent outfits, and a lacey bra that I wear with certain outfits. Don’t get overwhelmed and feel like you need to build up your collection all at once! But if you feel uncomfortable, like you are always adjusting, or you end up with red marks at the end of the day, it may be time to get a new bra.

      If you have a dressy event coming up make sure you try on your whole outfit with your bra a few days before. Sometimes the shape of the neck or armhole will be more open then your day-to-day wear and unintentionally expose some bra. (I learned this rule when I realized I didn’t have the appropriate bra for my outfit… on the day of my own wedding… It turned out okay but wow that was stupid of me.)

    5. Phryne*

      The main function of a bra is support, but the brand/type/ shape also has a big effect on how your front looks. Not just eg a push up function, but the shape of the cups, cups being pre-formed, padded, underwired. I have a big size but I wear bras with pre formed cups, not for the padding but to keep them in a specific shape and to make sure no accidental nip poking through. I am already preceded by the ladies wherever I go, the last thing I need is them being preceded too.

      If you are new to bras, try on LOTS of different brands and shapes to see what works for you both in feel and look. Don’t get too distracted by lace, pattern and cuteness, most of the day they are out of sight anyway but very much present in touch, so how they feel is more important.
      Put on a shirt over them during fitting to see how they look under your clothes, to make sure there are no weird ridges from seams or edges and to see what they do to your silhouette.

      1. Phryne*

        Oh, and this might unfortunately be a thing for trans women, but let the professionals of the bra store help. They know what they are doing and will get you the right fitting ones, so you don’t have to search the store for your size. Many cidc women wear the wrong size because they are embarrassed about asking for a measure, but it is really a lot easier to just get professional help. I am very sorry that this might be an issue for trans women, the last thing you need is to deal with bigotry when doing this. Perhaps ask around in the community what are accepting underwear shops for trans women so you can get the right assistance.

        1. Dandelion*

          I think r/abrathatfits has a list of trans friendly shops. Also recently discovered they have a size guide specifically for transitioning bodies.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      The straps don’t support your breasts, so don’t shorten the straps to try to lift your breasts more. This just causes the band to ride up in the back. The band should be level around you. I hope this makes sense!

      1. Awkwardness*

        This. And it’s the band that gives support, not the straps. So the band needs top be tight.
        I once read the comparison to hiking backpack with hip belts. If properly fitted, most of the weight should be on your hips, not the shoulders.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If straps slip off your shoulders, try a style with straps that make an X across the back.

    8. Time for Tea*

      The “a bra that fits” online calculator is will give you a size or two to try as a starting point that is likely to be way off what size you have been wearing (and there is an AMAB option from memory). Most women are wearing bands 2 sizes too big and cups much smaller than they need.

      You may well find yourself “plus sized” as many brands don’t like making bigger cups, a D cup is not a lot despite what you have been told over the years.

      UK brands have a bigger size range and more consistent sizing (as per the Reddit a bra that fits community) than US brands.

      The shape of your breasts as well as the overall measurements will affect fit, so not all bras in your correct size will actually fit you comfortably.

      Bras should when well fitting be reasonably comfortable and not need constant adjusting

    9. Sitting Pretty*

      It wasn’t until I was pregnant and nursing -bra shopping with a professional that I learned you could wrap the bra back-to-front, hook the hooks under your breasts, slide it around to the back, THEN put your arms through. I felt so dim, having spent 20 years putting bras on arms-first then reaching around awkwardly to blindly hook the hooks. What a revelation! I’ve been doing the hook-in-front-first method for 17 years now. Never going back.

      1. Phryne*

        I applaud your dexterity! I unhook them that way, but I doubt I’d manage to get one on without ripping something in my shoulder…

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This is why front-closing bras exist.

          Unfortunately, they’re useless once the band elastic starts to stretch too much, and they often aren’t available in larger sizes.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        That’s the only way I’ve ever put on bras! Me flailing behind myself like a T Rex would be an amusing watch, but I’d be bralless. Ironically I have no problem UNhooking the bra from behind.

        1. I take tea*

          Same for me. I really cannot reach behind my back. I don’t know why not hooks on the front is a thing. But I’ve learned to bend over and scoop in the breasts when I do it that way.

      3. Helvetica*

        I’ve never done it any other way and when I learned women would do it arms first, I thought it was bananapants, because it’s so much harder!

      4. Filosofickle*

        I know that a lot of women swear by this but in my experience, if the band is loose enough to be twisted around like that, it’s too big! A band that fits and supports me properly is too snug to do that comfortably.

        1. allathian*

          I suspect that this is one reason why so many women wear poorly-fitting bras. I use bras that I can comfortably put on, and for me that means closing them in front and twisting.

        2. amoeba*

          Eh, I don’t turn it on my ribcage, but lower (so basically waist height, which is, at least for me, a good deal smaller than my ribs), so that solves that problem! Although if it’s a new bra, I might have to suck my belly in a bit – but there’s definitely some flex room there.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      Huh your third one doesn’t apply to me because I fall right between two band sizes. The smaller has to be worn on the loosest rung, but it gets to a point after several hours where I need liberating from it, but it never stretches out for me somehow? Whereas the larger band size rides up my back even when cinched tight; it meets with the disapproval of every bra fitted and guide but I used to buy them before discovering stretchy sports bras for round the house. I recently discovered bra extenders with a wide stretchy elasticated section for my day time bras and they’ve been a game changer; makes you wonder why all bras don’t have some elastic.

    11. Hatchet*

      If you need bra hook extenders, get them from your local fabric or craft store. I’ve found they’re much more reasonably priced and offer a decent selection.

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

        Bra hook extenders are magic! They can give you another inch or so of room when you gain weight.

        Also, if your friend is looking for a trans-friendly place to order underwear and swimwear online, Tomboy X should work. Depending on where your friend is in her journey, she might also check out their tucking packs.

    12. Zephy*

      +1 to all of the things you’ve said.

      Mine would be:
      Bra sizing has changed over the last ~50 years or so. Many of us who started developing a need for brassieres in the late 90s/early 2000s had a sizing system explained to us that is not consistent with how bras are manufactured and labeled today.

      Short version: when our moms were girls, A-B-C-D cups were basically S-M-L-XL and the number on the tag was the BUST measurement (so, if your breasts measured 32 inches around but you were fairly flat, you’d be a 32A, but someone else with heaving bosoms who measured the same circumference would be a 32D). I’ve heard a few explanations for this, ranging from “elastic fabric technology had a long way to go” to “it was a holdover from the sizing system for corsets.” I’m not a fashion historian but both of those sound pretty reasonable tbh.

      Nowadays, the format of the size tag is the same, but the letters and numbers mean different things. The number is your BAND measurement, which is just under the bust…you know, where the band sits. Or, if you like, the circumference of your chest if your boobs weren’t there. The letter describes how many more inches of circumference are added by including the breasts, and each successive letter adds an inch, approximately.

      Things get weird above a D cup in most places, so if your friend ends up very blessed in the chest by Goddess Estrogen, she may want to measure and shop for bras using her UK system size, as that’s the least inconsistent between brands. More info on sizing systems and stuff can be found on the Reddit r/abrathatfits community (which IME is full of people who are very accepting of trans women and eager to educate). They have a link in the sidebar to a calculator that even has a toggle for specifying if you are MTF trans, because bodies that went through male puberty tend to have a different general shape that can affect bra fit (e.g., your friend might measure to one size based on just the numbers, but find that a larger band and smaller cup fit on her actual human body better, because her torso is broader at that point than bra manufacturers expect).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        What? I got my first bra in the early 80s and always was told that the number was your under-bust measurement.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          It would have been a lot earlier than the eighties, but I’ve heard something similar, that cup sizes were a thing before band sizes were. The very first bras were one size fits all, in both cup and band; then four initial cup sizes were introduced and the band was still fitted just using tailoring or adjustable straps and hooks.

    13. Rosey*

      “Low impact” sports bras are great for everyday wear. (I think the racer back ones with wide shoulder straps and wide bands are the best.) I have friends that complain about their bras being uncomfortable because of the wires and straps or whatever, and I’ve never had that problem.

    14. Pocket Mouse*

      I’ve never been happy or comfortable wearing a bra, but bralettes are great for me (bonuses: inexpensive, easy care, no hooks). There are different undergarments altogether: sports bras, slips, tanks with support, etc. Basically, you don’t have to settle for an uncomfortable garment, and you can be creative with options depending what you want the garment to achieve.

    15. Dark Macadamia*

      One of the ways to make sure a bra fits comfortably is to lean forward after putting it on and “scoop” the breast tissue into the cup by running your hand forward from your underarm area to the front of your chest. It helps avoid a visible sideboob and also just feels more supportive.

      If your chest looks “squeezed” on top like a muffin top or there’s a gap hanging open at the front of the bra, your bra doesn’t fit.

      There’s a cultural thing of acting like bras are the worst thing ever and people look forward to taking them off as soon as they get home, but a properly fitted bra shouldn’t feel like a death trap and some people are more comfy with it on! After having kids and sleeping in a soft, wirefree nursing bra I realized I even prefer to sleep in one

    16. ecnaseener*

      That cup sizes are not a representation of the actual volume of the breasts! The way people talk colloquially about cup size without referencing band size, you would think a 28C and a 36C are similar-sized breasts on just a larger or smaller torso. They are not! It all scales together! Don’t assume you must be an A cup or smaller just because your breasts are small.

      (There’s a subreddit called aBraThatFits with some really helpful guides including a guide specifically for trans women)

    17. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’ve been wearing bras for over half a century. I hate underwires, so I’ve tried to find shaped bras without wires. I used to wear stretchy bralet type ones, until I noticed a picture of me on a day I was wearing one, and realized I had my late mother-in-law’s super-saggy bosom. Ew. I’ve since had medical surgery that left me very lopsided, and after fighting with every bra I owned and several new ones, I thought I’d try foam cups in a pullover style. They are incredibly comfortable, like nice breast nests, and the it still fits well even with a looser band. And there’s no reason to be a bra snob! The most comfortably supportive ones I’ve gotten were FIVE DOLLARS at Dollar General.

    18. goddessoftransitory*

      Underwires WILL poke through and start stabbing you in the upper arm, no matter how much you paid for the bra, sooner rather than later.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I had this never happen to me.
        How is that even possible? Isn’t the underwire bent to a fixed U-shape that does not allow it to “stick out”? I am confused.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Heh, for me I mean that the actual wire works its way through the fabric and starts stabbing you, even with those little plastic tips on the end.

        2. Filosofickle*

          The wire breaking through the channel has happened to me maybe twice in 35 years of wearing underwires so it happens but not commonly IMO

          1. Phryne*

            Same. In 30 years of wearing underwired bras I had it once, on the inside of the cup not the armpit side, and it was on a bra less than a year old of a brand I’ve had a dozen of, so I’m guessing production fault, not wear and tear. As it was prime brand, it was under warranty too, so they fixed it.
            This is also how I know that the underwire of this brand is plastic not metal, which is probably why it does not happen normally, not sharp enough.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          It’s a U shape, as you say. So the straight part of the U on either side can stick through the fabric.

          1. Awkwardness*

            But this will poke into breast tissue or your armpit. But the upper arm?

            Maybe there is something about the bra shape that I am missing.

            1. Magdalena*

              The upper arm lies on top of the armpit, on the other side so to speak. If you had a stain on the side of your cup, it would also stain the arm, no?

              1. Awkwardness*

                I find this hilarious. Thanks to the patient souls trying to explain it to me!

                I take it as given that I wil probably never experience this, maybe due to bra shape, or body shape, or as my straps are worn out before.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        This always happens to me too! Really expensive bra, lasts a long time; it becomes your Favourite Bra and then one day out of the blue it stabs you. There’s no mending it from that point either.

    19. osmoglossom*

      A total revelation for me: Wearing a bra doesn’t prevent your breasts from sagging and not wearing one doesn’t cause your breasts to sag.

      1. Dandelion*

        As a corollary to this one: bras don’t cause breast sagging either – that’s a myth started by a newspapers playing a game of telephone based on research someone wanted to do (but as far as I could find, never actually did).

        Second corollary: breast sagging isn’t the end of the world.

    20. Girasol*

      1) Lace can be itchy. Seams and hardware can be poky. There’s a lot to be said for stretchy pullover sports bras especially for the small breasted. (They’re not just for sports anymore!) Compare the fit of regular sports bras vs racerbacks. Chances are one will be more comfortable than the other.
      2) Trying to engineer the look of being bigger than you are can be uncomfortable. If you’re not big breasted to start with, better to go for a good small breasted look.
      3) Most bras used to be well padded to hide nipples. Hiding nipples doesn’t seem to be such a desperate social requirement these days, though, so padding is optional. Whichever you choose, go for comfort.

      1. RedinSC*

        OMG, I got 2 bras that fit, BUT the “invisible thread” they used is like fishing line and it’s pokey and horrible!

        1. Girasol*

          I had that once! It was like a thorn poking in my ribs and I couldn’t find it for the longest time because that monofilament thread stuff really is invisible.

    21. Rekha3.14*

      In terms of fit, if the band is riding up your back, the cups are probably not big enough. If an awkward size, it’s still worth it to have bras that fit right, even if they cost more (try Change or find some European brands, they have more sizes. not everyone is a Victoria Secret size. I say this as one of those awkward sizes – I’m currently trying to find a sports bra that fits but my band is small compared to the cups and this is a tough combo to find that will still give me support for impact/intense training).

    22. Neko*

      Some people have protruding ribs, and comfortable underwire is almost impossible to find because the ribs prevent the wire from resting in the right spot under the breast.

      I always heard you “need” to have underwire for support, but I just can’t wear it. I currently wear pregnancy bras from Amazon designed to support without underwire, and I haven’t been pregnant in over 12 years. A wider (longer?) band that extends down below the cups helps, because it can form over the ribs without digging in or shifting around.

      1. I take tea*

        My breasts go outwards and underwire always dig into the sides of them. Really not comfy.

    23. RedinSC*

      There’s a website – a bra that fits dot org – that will give you a really good bra fitting measurement.

      Don’t give up on your first (dozen) bras, it can take forever to find a size/style that fits you.

    24. Usually Lurking*

      I’m 62 and only recently realized that most women hook their bra in the front, then move it around so the hook is in the back and slip the straps on! I’ve always slipped the straps on, then reeeeeeeeached around the back to hook the hook. Life changing!

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I just learned this today as well, and I’m 51. I’ve always reached around my back to hook. It never occurred to me to do it any other way, and now I feel rather foolish!

  22. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Any PMS mood lifters people can recommend that’s not eating a ton of chocolate? I’m not able to do much cardio due to an injury and that’s exacerbated my crankiness.

    1. WS*

      Eat nuts! Even if you can’t exercise, go outside. If you can’t go outside, move around inside.

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

        And if nuts won’t work, try avocados! They always lift my mood. Also, egg yolks. I get a bit of a natural high from eating mushy scrambled eggs cooked over very low heat.

        Even if you can’t move too much, maybe put on some banging music and bop around a bit to it, even if you’re just grooving on the couch? I love Queen’s *Don’t Stop Me Now* for an instant mood improver. In fact, I am gonna put that on right now!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Seconding getting outside during daylight.

      I’ll add spicy food if you like it. I’ve read that our bodies’ reaction to capsicum is the same endorphins as a runner’s high, and I know for me it lasts longer than the taste.

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      Fun music with positive associations. For me it’s 80s pop. Bonus points for chair-dancing or floor-dancing* while it’s on.

      (*A way to get yourself stretching with a little touch of groove when stretching is booooring)

    4. Llama face!*

      If you like baths, that’s my go-to. Nice hot soak with a cool glass of liquid and a good escapist book to read. I add some epsom salts if I’m achey or bubble bath/shower gel with a relaxing scent to soothe my senses. (If you are like me and don’t like the feeling of the bubbles, adding the product after the tub is full lets it disperse in the water without bubbling.)

      Getting outside in daytime, even if it’s just sitting/standing outside for 15 min, helps too, especially if I make a point to notice what’s going on in nature around me- clouds moving, birds making noise, sound of wind, feeling of sun, any signs of spring on the way, etc.

      Speaking of books, sometimes it helps me to re-read a book that’s an emotion generator so I can have a good cry and get some of the emotional aaaghs released in a harmless way.

    5. Alex*

      My psychiatrist recommended daily vitamin B6, magnesium, and calcium to help with low mood associated with PMS. It did seem to work pretty well, although I skipped the calcium because I already consume a lot of dairy.

    6. WestsideStory*

      Cut down on coffee and salt.
      Take vitamin E. That’s what my gyn recommended, and it really helped.
      My mom, on the other hand, recommended a combo of whiskey and amaretto, over ice. (I believe it’s called a Godmother?) as early in the day as needed.

    7. kitto*

      for me, doing something creative that’s easy enough (for you). i opt for knitting, but have done clay things, or gardening, or lino cutting. also any stretching that doesn’t exacerbate your injury (i’m sorry you’re dealing with that!) but that you can feel in your muscles. i prefer slow dynamic or static stretching when i’m on my period

    8. New Mom (of 1 6/9)*

      Hope you see this given that I’m late. A lot of PMDD sufferers find that calcium + magnesium + vitamin D helps a ton; I imagine it might help for PMS as well.

  23. Fellow Traveller*

    Aww I’m sorry for your injury! Seeing friends, creative art projects, fresh air, and eating well. Yoga, if you can manage it.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I realize you’re probably responding to the above question – and I agree that when I’m cranky (which often seems to have no rhyme or reason) the best thing to do for me is go out with a friend and just get out of my head. I’m not even an extrovert but going out for brunch or dinner or meeting a friend for drinks is the only thing that can reliably lift my mood enough for the other interventions like a walk outside or a hot bath to work.

  24. tybee lane*

    Any tips on how to decide where you want to live and what you want to do with your life? I wish I was kidding asking this question at 41! I’ve always been nomadic, lived abroad a lot in my 20s/30s and moved home to care for my elderly parents until they died. Met a guy locally in the middle of that, thought we would go the distance, but we didn’t and he’s since married someone else. I’ve found it hard to make friends/meet romantic partners since (home is a very small place and the generation that’s my age seems to be missing!) and I have this itch that tells me there’s more to life out there for me than what I’m experiencing right now. I don’t hate my life by any means but I’m lonely and somewhat unfulfilled, and feel the years slipping by much more quickly than I would like with less pockets of fun than I want. But in the absence of an anchor/anchors that are pushing or pulling you somewhere, how on earth do you decide where to go?! I have been thinking about this for a long time and never get anywhere with it. How did you end up being where you are? Open to all serious and not so serious recommendations at this point.

    1. Toni*

      It sounds counterproductive but sometimes it can help figuring out what you *don’t* want. It gets your brain rolling and it feels less daunting because this is stuff you are not sorry about striking from your list.

    2. Pennyworth*

      I’m embarrassed to admit that I never worked out what I wanted to do ‘when I grow up’. I have just muddled along and got to retirement age OK. Could it have been better? Undoubtedly, but it also could have been a lot worse.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        Same here. I have a lovely life that I’m grateful for, but it was arrived at by water flowing downhill in a privileged demographic stream.

        Martha Beck’s book “The Way of Integrity” might help the OP.

    3. BellaStella*

      I decided to look for a job abroad from the USA when I was 39. My mom had died, and I wanted to see the world. So I did a lot of traveling and was lucky to end up in Europe. Been here now for almost 16 years. But it is hard. I was divorced early (31) and thought I wanted a boyfriend but after 3 relationships here (each about 2-3 years), I decided to just invest in me. I never wanted kids tho, so that may be different in your case. Am I super happy? Not always but more days than not. I am trying to enjoy life as it is and travel still, and enjoy the next years. I have a good group of core friends back home and here. I have a decent work situation. I would recommend trying to visit places that appeal to you and see if you want to stay. Not everyone is like my ex who knew from age 6 he wanted to be a computing engineer. I have had 2 main tracks: software and now environmental work. I would like to be a full time student but cannot afford that. Good luck to you and be kind to yourself.

    4. Angstrom*

      It’s a great question! For me part of the answer to feeling unfulfilled has been doing something that feels useful, which usually has meant some kind of volunteer activity. My jobs have been okay-to-enjoyable but don’t always fill that need. You’re at an age where a career change is still very possible. Don’t think about job titles — think about the kinds of things that give you a sense of deep satisfaction, and then consider what jobs might include some of those elements.
      Where? I’ve lived large city, small city, and small-town rural, and enjoyed all of them. Solving lonely argues for somewhere with a larger population, but one needs to get out and be active to take advantage of that.
      Small cities & towns with colleges often seen to have a nice balance of activities and ages.
      Geographically, think about terrain and temperatures. For me, I’m happier with mountains nearby and prefer cool to hot, but I’ve enjoyed both the Southwest(higher elevations) and Northeast. One has to apprecite what’s there instead of dwelling on what isn’t.

    5. Dear Liza dear liza*

      I’m in academia so we go where the jobs are. From the small pool of options, I’d then focus on 1) being closer to loved ones 2) the weather and 3) being near nature because I have outdoor hobbies.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      On your travels did you encounter lifestyles that really suited you? It might be worth thinking about what kind of cultures appeal to you. It also sounds like you’re looking for more sociable and lively communities and people your own age. I’d probably pair that with the availability of what I had to offer work wise, or work I would find fulfilling. I always thought I wanted to travel and write, but I’ve discovered I prefer helping the kids from my own community become more literate. I like to change things, and to do that you have to understand why things are the way they are.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it really helps to picture the move as “I’m going to move to Santa Fe for a year and see how I like it. Then I’ll reevaluate.” Sometimes the things that drew us to a place at one point in our lives don’t fit at a different point; sometimes we haven’t changed much but the place does change. Because change is inevitable–you can’t lock things down once you find your happy confluence of location/people/etc.

      Back in the days of paper road atlases, when my spouse was finishing graduate school and it was a natural time to make a big move, Seattle really stood out for the green all around. The way you pick a location doesn’t have to be a spreadsheet. We wound up staying on the east coast to be close to family and aging parents, but I think we would have been happy with a move to Seattle. I think I would have been happy in New Mexico (another spot that always sung for me) but my husband doesn’t like the desert.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I fell in love with Seattle when I visited in the month of July and moved there three weeks later. When the drizzle started in late August and didn’t stop for the next nine months, and I routinely went six weeks literally without seeing the sun a single time, I started to realize I had made a mistake, and it was the summers that kept me going until I was finally able to move back to someplace that had seasons. So definitely, a move doesn’t have to be permanent.

    8. Bonne chance*

      S. Bear Bergman’s “Special Topics in Being a Human” is a really great illustrated book with short chapters that ask these very questions! Answering for yourself what brings you joy and what you need seems like a place to start.

      I’ve moved around a few times. If “my people” all lived in one location I’d move there, but they don’t. I tried to find a place that was not too isolated, or too expensive, or too embedded in politics/culture where I’d be fighting all the time. I ended up in a place with good public transit, work in my broader field, and some friends nearby, since I really value independence, stability, and community. Within that, I’ve tried to live near greenspace since I find that really improves my day-to-da and tried to spend my time away in places that are really beautiful. (Not saying that you should have the same priorities when finding a place to be, just that I hope you find somewhere that aligns with yours!)

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

      Sigh, I can relate. I feel like I’m in the same boat, though a bit trapped by my job!

      One book I liked a lot about charting your own course when you can’t count on hitting the milestones that society pats you on the head for (marriage, kids, etc.) is the 1930s classic *Live Alone and Like It*. The author gives readers a push to figure out what hobbies they would like to enjoy (both alone and with others), take an active role in going places where they will eventually make friends, make their apartment someplace where they and other people love spending time, etc.

      One of her big recommendations is travel. Maybe be deliberate about planning two to three vacations a year, if your job situation allows that — one to visit friends, one for the sheer adventure of it, and one to check out possible places where you might enjoy living?

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is what I’m wrestling with, I think. I realized early on that marriage wasn’t in the cards, and decided I didn’t want to pursue single parenthood, so it can sometimes be harder for me to feel the progression and change as I get older, and I have to accept that by the standards of some people (*cough* my parents *cough*) I was never going to “arrive” at Grown-Up-Land. Some days I’m fine with this and feel like I found the cheat codes to happiness and almost got away with something – other days I worry about the same-ness and what the passage of time will do. It’s hard to choose your own milestones and accomplishments rather that accepting the standard, widely approved ones.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      One of my favorite pieces of advice is from the humorist Cynthia Heimel, where she says that if you have to make a big decision, just go ahead and do what you want because the worst that can happen is that you will have made a terrible mistake.

      If you have always wanted to move to Montreal, move there. Rent, get a job, try the place out. If Montreal turns out to be hell on earth, well, it’s not like you MADE it that way; it’s just not for you. Try somewhere else instead if you can’t bear it, but you didn’t do anything wrong by wanting to live in Montreal.

      Now obviously money, time and job prospects all play huge parts in this, and I certainly don’t recommend flinging every dime you own into a completely strange endeavor with no prep or recon; that’s what the internet is for. But it’s okay to just go ahead and do what you want. It’s not wrong.

    11. Girasol*

      I’m here because of a job transfer. I never gave any thought when I came to being a liberal moving into a conservative state. I’m thinking about it now. Local politics are causing doctors to leave. My clinic just closed and the earliest I can get an annual physical with a doctor still taking new patients is October. My city hospital’s ob/gyn and NICU services are being closed for lack of staff. While doctors are my concern, you are probably aware of a number of other legal differences between states that have been in the news. Do any of those concern you?

    12. kitto*

      have you given any thought to therapy or counselling? even if you do a short set of sessions it can really help to bring clarity to internal thought processes that you’ve not been able to bring to the surface. it also could be helpful to speak through those feelings of unfulfillment and see what’s at the root of them – could help you to clear the route to what feels opposite to that. it sounds like your life has been so filled with curiosity and exploration so far that it makes sense you’d be asking these questions to figure out the next steps. wishing you the best!

    13. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      If your financial situation will allow it, you could look into a seasonal position at a National Park. It’s not a permanent thing, but it is a change of scenery, and positions like that often have housing provided. I know a few people who have done this and it was a great experience.

    14. Kay*

      Take what is most important to you, rank everything, and find places that offer those things.

      Do you love the heat or the cold? Do you love the mountains or the water? Do you love food and culture, or laid back solitude? Can you afford a high cost of living place or do you need a place more budget friendly. If you had no one else in your life, what do you want to do every day? Then, narrow down the list of places that fit your “features” criteria and do your research. I’m in one of those places from my previous list and it is now time for me to move on, but you can always make changes!

  25. Annie*

    Start with asking yourself what you liked/disliked about each of the places you’ve lived in. From there, ask yourself if you would like to go back to any of those places, or try a new place. You can also look up prospective new places in terms of what kind of “scene” they have for any of your interests or what percent of the local population is in your age group or of the age you wish to be friends or partnered with.

  26. Damn it, Hardison!*

    I’m looking for resources/advice for talking to my aging parent about her financial situation. It’s become clear that she is spending money that she doesn’t have, to the point it affects her ability to pay her regular bills. She is not good with money, and her husband is even worse. My brother and I want to understand her financial picture so that we can help with her bills. I’m sure that she – and her husband – do not want to have this conversation, but we don’t want her stressing out so much about money, but are concerned about coming off as judgmental or controlling. Any advice/resources on having a very fraught conversation about finances?

    1. Alex*

      Is she low income? In my area there is a service for low income seniors to have someone come out to their home each month and make sure their bills are paid. I volunteer with them, and work with a low income senior who is terrible with money–she CANNOT understand what a budget is, and she also cannot understand the difference between a want and a need. However, my job is to make sure her basic necessities are paid *first*, so I schedule the appointment shortly before her social security check arrives. That way I can keep her housed with the lights on no matter how wasteful she is with the rest of her check.

      It might help to have someone like this, rather than you, because they are a neutral third party and don’t have all the baggage of being family. (There is NO WAY I could do this for my own mom, we would kill each other, lol)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        If she has access to the internet/online shopping, you may need to turn it off when she’s alone. My mom gets up in the middle of the night and just starts buying stuff online, then doesn’t really remember doing it in the morning. My sister pays her internet cable bill and is basically at the point where she has to take control of my mom’s ability to use the internet; turning it off at night and on again in the morning (access, that is.)

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          Fortunately she’s a total Luddite and refuses to use any technology. It was a big deal to set her up with a Kindle during the pandemic shutdown so she could get ebooks from the library. I’m glad she isn’t online for the very reason you mention.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Oh, this is a great idea, thank you! I will research senior resources in her area. I’m not sure if she qualifies as low income but there may be resources she can use even if she’s not.

    2. Lynn*

      One suggestion that is adjacent to your question – look into buying a long-term care insurance policy for your parent. For better or worse it’s not illegal to make terrible financial choices, and you may or may not get your parent to make any changes (or even admit there is a problem). As you know, this topic is very fraught. But long term care insurance can give you peace of mind for how they would be cared for, and (if I’m not wrong), you don’t need their permission to get it.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Thank you for the suggestion! I think both my husband and I have access to this from our jobs. I will look into it.

    3. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      From dealing with my dad as he got older and increasingly hampered by Alzheimer’s, my biggest suggestion is to be sure, in very clear conversations before trying to talk with the older folks, that you and sibs are completely on the same page about what to do and how to do it. It’s analogous to the united front that parents have to show with kids — your parents will sense any disagreement like bloodhounds! As for specifics — great idea in thread to get an agency involved if you can. Otherwise, try to work out a priority list of what to talk about and do it in steps, not all one huge horrible session. Would your parents agree to (for example) put one of you on their checking account? (not “and”, but “or”) Will they agree to let you pay the utility bills online automatically? Would they agree to get you copied on any online notices of overdrafts? And finally — maybe it will go down better if it’s couched in “there are so many scams out there that have taken in really really smart people and we are concerned for your financial safety!” rather than “we think you’re spendthrifts.”

      The very best of luck in this difficult and necessary area!

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        This is so helpful, thank you! Fortunately my brother and I are on the same page.

  27. Aniima*

    People, I want to burn the world down sometimes.
    My mum has cancer. When we ate together, I stupidly commented “Wow, you sure do eat a lot.”, meaning I hadn’t expected my mum to want food at all, thinking about the side effects of chemo. Mum reacted with “Oh, I should watch my weight, shouldn’t I?” I immediately explained that I wasn’t thinking that and that I worded it wrong and all, but *why* did my mum’s thoughts jump there first thought??? Why does a woman who is actively fighting a possibily terminal illness thanking about her weight at all??? I hate it.
    And I’m so sorry I set that in motion.

    What was your “I want to burn the world down”-moment recently?

    1. Not A Manager*

      I frequently want to burn the world down. In this one case, though, maybe consider that your mother has spent her whole life absorbing these beauty standards. When she thinks that she needs to stay slim, this is part of her normal, healthy, non-chemo life experience. At that moment, her mind wasn’t on terminal illness, it was on her own expression of normalcy. I have to admit that when I read her response to you, it didn’t make me angry, it made me smile. I like it that she’s thinking survival thoughts.

      I would tell her that she should eat whatever she wants, get fat as a pig, and then when the chemo is over she can happily diet if that’s what she wants to do.

      1. Aniima*

        That is about what I told her, and I was internally angry, not at my mum.
        It looks like she’s living her best life right now, besides chemo, that’s reassuring.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          I get it. My mom has had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 1997 (thankfully in remission) and a whole slew of other health issues. She made a comment about needing to lose 10 pounds. I was so sad for her that she would still feel that way at 79, having lived through every health issue she has. There is no medical reason for her to lose weight, it’s purely societal pressure she has absorbed and will never get over.

        2. Not A Manager*

          Quick apology – I did not read your OP as being angry at your mother. Sorry my comment made it sound like that. I really meant, her remark didn’t even make me angry at internalized beauty standards. It just made me pleased for her that she still cared about the things she has always cared about.

          Best wishes to both of you. This stuff is so hard.

    2. SeeTheRocker*

      Learning that everything Medicaid covers, even as a secondary insurance, must have a pre-auth. This means a lot of extra work and lots of time getting documentation so insurance will not deny the claim. The process was not so bad before, but this? This is awful for everyone involved. The powers that be SUCK!

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I’ve been on Medicare almost 10 years, on an Advantage plan, which requires referrals and pre-authorizations. It used to be a hassle until I realized it was my primary care doctor’s horribly snotty office staff who never followed through on requests. I finally switched doctors, and this one’s staff are so prompt and cheerful, and sometimes anticipate when I’ll need paperwork. For tests and anything ordered by specialists (scans, surgeries, whatever), they’ve done all the scheduling and pre-authorizations for me without me having to ask. So you might have a medical office problem rather than a Medicare one.

    3. ooof. And argh*

      when my mum had cancer, (diagnosed too late to help) one of the doctors asked her if she’d been losing weight, my mum said ” yes, the diet that I’ve been on (for 50 years) is finally working”. There’s always a beauty standard we’re not living up to, and it’s hard to get that out of our heads. I’m sorry your mum has cancer.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      The recent SCOTUS decision, for sure. Sorry, I know it’s political but yeah. Bring on the gasoline.

      And yes, I am sick and tired of my baseline, default thinking around any kind of food at any time being “how fat will I get? Am I too fat to eat this?”

      1. TPS Reporter*

        yep we can’t choose what to do with our bodies either way. we have to be baby factories but also a slim ideal.

    5. carcinization*

      Incidentally work-related but… I was trying to talk to a co-worker about wanting to be included in lunch orders (because usually everyone else in the same hall gets asked if they want something from whatever restaurant, but I’m skipped over for some unknown reason), and was explaining that I’d wondered if it was because, in the first few weeks I worked there, “Mildred” (a different person than I was having this conversation with) had asked me if I wanted Chik-Fil-A and I politely declined due to not eating food from that place. My co-worker said that wasn’t likely to be it and the conversation went on from there. Only later that day did I realize that “Mildred” is not the name of that person, but of a person whom I dislike quite a bit who works down a different hallway than us. So now I am upset that I thought “Gertrude’s” first name was “Mildred” for an unknown amount of time and may have made similar faux pas while I was under that impression. Sigh….

    6. Mimmy*

      I want to burn the world down sometimes too with current events. My most recent moment personally is seeing my husband deal with insurance cr*p from a surgery he had a year ago–a surgery he probably didn’t even need.

  28. Asus Zenbook*

    It’s time for me to replace my personal laptop, currently an HP Spectre 14, and I would get another one except that I detest the keyboard. I’m looking at the Asus Zenbook 14. The reviews are pretty good, but are there any downsides I should be aware of?

    Audio quality is important to me as well as general build quality and reliability.

    I’m resigned to having to transition to Windows 11. I occasionally use a Mac, enough to know that I want to stick with Windows even with all of its aggravations.

    1. No name yet*

      I have an Asus Zenbook 14, purchased last fall to replace my 8 year old Dell, and have generally been pretty happy with it! The two things I don’t like: 1) the charging ports are on the right side, which is different from any other laptop I’ve had, so all of my charging set-ups don’t work (and when I have it on a lapdesk, it gets in the way of the mouse on the lapdesk as well). And 2) the power cord is much shorter than the Dell’s was, so if I want to sit on a couch/chair other than right next to the plug, I have to either use it on battery (which I prefer not to do) or plug it into a different outlet. Well, and I do also find it noisier than my Dell was, it seems to run hotter and need the fans more often. None of this is tragic, overall I’m quite happy with it! (Though I would 100% pay for a longer cord if they made one.)

      Oh, and you mention the keyboard – I like the keyboard just fine, to me has pretty laptop-standard loudness/give to the keys.

      1. Asus Zenbook*

        Thanks, that is very helpful. The short power cord could be a deal-breaker for me because of my desk setup, so I’m really grateful that you mentioned it — depending on how short it actually is.

        1. No name yet*

          I just measured mine – it’s 80″ long. Which feels like it should totally be enough, but I guess my set-up is a bit odd. And FWIW my exact computer version is ASUS Zenbook 14 (UX3402) – not sure if the different versions would have different cord lengths. Good luck with your search/decision!

          1. Asus Zenbook*

            Thank you! I tend to dither on this kind of expensive decision …am still dithering.

  29. Fellow Traveller*

    Share with me your favorite musical theater cast albums of the past few decades! I’m feeling under the weather, but get bored just lying in bed, so looking to find something engaging to listen to while I rest.
    I was a huge Phantom/Les Miz fan growing up in the 90s then I kind of got busy and stopped listening to musicals so I’m discovering the world of musicals since the 90s. Like I *just* listened to Hamilton. Come From Away just lifted my heart and made me laugh. Next to Normal made me so sad (though I didn’t love the end). Wicked was a lot of fun.
    So what has amazing musical storytelling can I listen to? Revival albums too. And what do you love about your favorites?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Sooo many! My childhood featured a number of soundtrack albums courtesy of my parents, including “Kismet” with Alfred Drake, Joan Diener, Doretta Morrow, and Richard Kiley – that’s from the mid-50’s. The Borodin-inspired music is lovely, and the performers did wonderful jobs with their songs.

      More recently, favorites include:

      “Sweeney Todd” with Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury – got to see a couple of different stage versions of that, but the original cast album is my favorite. The drama, horror, bits of humor, and Sondheim-at-his-best music make an awesome combination.

      “Little Shop of Horrors” with Lee Wilkoff and Ellen Greene – that’s from the off-Broadway cast; I got to see the show live in 1982, and adored it. The 50s-style music – especially the chorus/narration by Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon – always makes me happy. (Also, man-eating plant!)

      “Jane Eyre” with Maria Schaffel and James Barbour – I didn’t get to see a stage version, but I adore the soundtrack. The lyrics come almost entirely from the novel’s text, and I find the music very effective.

      1. Nitpicker*

        Agree about Kismet. I can’t listen to Borodin without hearing the lyrics in my head.

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        Jane Eyre is my favorite book!
        I put this one in the queue and it was great because I could follow the story. I love these big hearted unironic musicals of the 90s! Though, I saw James Barbour in Beauty and the Beast years ago and his Mr. Rochester was *very* Beast like.

      3. Goldfeesh*

        Seeing the name Len Cariou makes me feel like I should be doing a crossword puzzle.

    2. Angstrom*

      “The Pajama Game” and “Damn Yankees” are old favorites.
      There was an old off-Broadway show called “Little Mary Sunshine” which was a loving parody of the 1936 Jeanette MacDonald -Nelson Eddy movie “Rose Marie”. Delightfully silly.
      “Kiss Me Kate” — Cole Porter being Cole Porter.
      “Ain’t Misbehavin” — A Fats Waller jukebox. Great singing.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I really enjoy the original Broadway cast recording of Jekyll & Hyde – listening to Robert Cuccioli sing duets with himself is just amazing. (But after seeing Moon Knight I really desperately want someone to make a film version of it with Oscar Isaacs, who has described himself as “a singer who occasionally acts,” as Jekyll & Hyde.)

    4. Annie Edison*

      Oh gosh, so many options!
      Company had a decent revival with Raul Esparza
      Hadestown (disclaimer: I was obsessed after seeing it live, but didn’t really “get it” just from the album
      Haven’t listened yet, but heard great things about the new cast album for Parade
      The Last Five Years (off Broadway but still a favorite)
      Spring Awakening (I’m not a huge fan but it definitely had a moment when it first came out, and there’s some fun numbers)
      In the Heights

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I have tickets to see the tour of the new Company and I’m super excited!
        Very intrigued by The Last Five Years.
        Oooh Rent is one I need to listen to as well. I still haven’t listened to that one yet and I feel like I’m missing some cornerstone of contemporary musical theatre.

        1. Annie Edison*

          Oooh I’m hoping to go see Company when it comes to my city this summer!
          Last Five Years was honestly probably my favorite show throughout college. As an adult now, I feel like there are maybe some issues with his portrayal of Kathy, but I still absolutely adore it. “I’m Still Hurting” is my go-to song after a breakup, and any time I need a good cry.

          And yes! Rent!! I think it probably sounds dated now but absolutely a huge deal when it first came out. Also one where my middle-aged adult eyes look at the characters a little differently than early 20s bohemian me did, but I don’t really care. It still has so much beauty and goodness in it

          Netflix did a filmed version of Tick Tick Boom, which was Jonathan Larson’s first show, and it was pretty great. Add that to your list after you listen to Rent

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      Hadestown! There’s no one album that has all the songs, but you can cobble it together from the concept album, the original cast recording, and the original Broadway cast recording—I’m sure someone’s done just that on YouTube. My personal favorite is the original (off-Broadway) cast, but they each have their strengths.

      1. Lilo*

        The show has released a pretty large amount of pro shot footage too. I’d check some of that out.

    6. Anon Poster*

      I recently saw and liked Hadestown, and I love listening to the cast album so so much. I love it so much I went back and listened to the original concept album the project began with. Beautiful music, the vibes just really work for me.

    7. fposte*

      A slight digression, but have you ever listened to any Forbidden Broadway recordings? They’re affectionate, often very sharp parodies of shows that are currently big. The old ones are a fascinating time capsule while still offering fun listening, even if you don’t know the particular show.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Forbidden Broadway is great fun! Got to see them live some time ago – not long after “Into the Woods” came out, and they had a marvelous riff on it called “Into the Words”.

    8. Cicely*

      “Evita” original cast album (London). Elaine Page, especially. Also love “Wicked,” the one with Joanna Gleason.

      Very favorite of all time is “Jesus Christ Superstar,” from the ’70s.

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

      Two revivals:

      The City Center Encores production of *Merrily, We Roll Along*. Score is gorgeous, and it has Lin Manuel Miranda in it.

      The Daniel Radcliffe version of *How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying*. Another gorgeous score. Ear-worm warning!

    10. Charlotte Lucas*

      Years ago, Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury, and Linda Ronstadt were in a version of “Pirates of Penzance.” It was made into a film, and I highly recommend.

      Kline plays the Pirate King.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, yes, that version of “Pirates” was delightful! (The policemen had some especially good scenes.) And of course it has to do with a leap-year birthday, so I think of it whenever leap year comes up {grin}.

      2. Clisby*

        Yes, if anyone wants to see a sample, go to youtube and search for “with catlike tread kevin kline”

    11. Nitpicker*

      So many here too! I grew up in New York and was taken to musicals throughout my childhood and have loved them ever since. These recommendations are all older but wonderful.
      “Finian’s Rainbow” (many of the songs became hits). “Fiorello” and “She Loves Me” (both by Bock and Harnick who wrote “Fiddler”). “Ragtime”. “1776”. All of Bernstein’s Broadway work (“West Side Story” (the original cast recording -not the one with Kiri te Kanawa and Jose Carreras), “Candide”, “Wonderful Town”, “On the Town”). “The Most Happy Fella”.
      “Guys and Dolls”. And then there’s Sondheim – my favorite being “Pacific Overtures”.
      And, going back to the beginning, the first really serious Broadway musical was “Show Boat”. Book and lyrics for that were by Oscar Hammerstein – way before “Oklahoma”. John McGlinn put together a 3 CD version with all the songs including some from the 1936 movie and many that were cut.
      That plus everyone else’s recommendations should keep you busy!!

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I have that Show Boat recording! I come from an opera background so when it came out I got it because I liked all the opera singers in it! It’s a great recording. I have John McGlinn’s Brigadoon too and that’s a beautiful recording.

    12. Elle Woods*

      I love the Kinky Boots cast recording. The music was written by Cyndi Lauper and there’s quite a range of tunes on it. There are a couple of get up and dance your butt off songs and a couple of tunes that are quiet and heartbreaking because of how poignant they are.

      I’m glad to hear you say what you did about Come From Away. I have tix to see the touring production of it in a couple of months and am really looking forward to it.

    13. Lilo*

      Oh, boy, just so many.

      Carousel (1994 Revival)
      Six (I like listening to this one while driving)
      Kimberly Akimbo
      Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet
      A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
      25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
      Avenue Q

      Lots of great stuff.

    14. ElastiGirl*

      The just-released cast album for “Merrily We Roll Along” (Jonathan Groff-Daniel Radcliffe-Lindsay Mendez) is spectacular.

    15. Fellow Traveller*

      So many suggestions! Thanks! I’m going to star all the ones I can find in Apple Music for listening on my commute.
      I’ll have to give Hadestown a listen- so many people recommended that one!
      And maybe a comparison of all the versions of Merrily We Roll Along…
      I’m loving all the ideas here!

    16. WestsideStory*

      Can’t imagine no one is mentioning the soundtrack to “Pippin.” My college roommate had that on auto repeat freshman year. I still hum it in the back of my mind. Uplifting in so many stupid ways!

    17. Blomma*

      So many favorites :) I’m including some older shows too, because I love the OBC recordings but also because there are more recent revival cast recordings available for them:
      Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, Waitress, Six the Musical, Titanic the Musical (absolutely gorgeous music), Ragtime, Mamma Mia!, Come From Away, Chess, Hadestown, and Ride the Cyclone, Moulin Rouge (cast recording).

    18. Yay!*

      Oooo, fun question. Not that new, but fabulous: Godspell, the original cast recording. Are movie soundtracks ok? If so, The Prince of Egypt original album from the movie.

    19. I take tea*

      Notre-Dame de Paris. The music is composed by Riccardo Cocciante and the lyrics are by Luc Plamondon (from the book by Victor Hugo). I’m specifically recommending the one with the original Paris Cast. It’s is in French, but you can find translations pretty easy and it is so fantastic. I don’t really know French, but I’ve listened to it so many times that I sometimes song along anyway. It is magnifique.

      1. I take tea*

        A little warning: The original story is really dark, nothing like Disney’s version. I always cry at the end.

    20. IntoTheFire*

      This is going to be unpopular, but the best show I’ve seen on Broadway was Scarlet Pimpernel. I saw the third iteration with Ron Bohmer, Carolee Caromello, and an absolutely riveting Mark Kudish as Chavelin. The original casr recording with Rex Smith and Terrence Man is fabulous, but I remember I liked the songs better in the version I saw live (some of them were reworked).

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        OMG- i remember seeing Douglas Sills singing Into The Fire during the Tony Awards and thinking he was the most beautiful man in the world. Thanks for reviving the memory! I wish they still wrote these big hearted melodramatic musicals these days…

  30. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I’m having a new refrigerator delivered Tuesday. Yay! I’ve never actually gotten a new appliance delivered before. Do I tip? I’m in the U.S.

    1. Becky S*

      I tip appliance delivery people, especially if there are stairs involved, or they are taking the old one out, or if the weather is especially hot-cold-rainy. I once tipped $20 to each of 2 guys because there were stairs involved and they took the time to take tight blue plastic protective covering off. They told me some people don’t even thank them.
      Even $5/person is nice, and maybe offer a bottle of water.
      They work hard.

    2. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I usually tip the delivery person(s), 5-10 bucks each. Also the installation tech if that’s a separate event/company. I live in a high COL area in the US.

    3. sagewhiz*

      Unfortunately, these days, yes. With appliances I’ve tipped $10 ea (usually two delivery guys)

    4. Lifelong student*

      I have never tipped a delivery person for that kind of product- not that I have had many deliveries of items. I suppose I would tip if I had food delivered- but I don’t do that either. Tipping is generally used for service personal service people. I consider this a store service and presume the person receives an appropriate wage. I don’t tip the mail carrier, Amazon or UPS delivery person. Back when there were local newspapers which were actually delivered by independant- ususally young people, they would get a bonus at the holidays. This tipping culture has gotten out of hand!!

      1. WestsideStory*

        Erm, I may be wrong but it strikes me that perhaps you’d never had to lug a giant mechanical object up a flight or two of stairs, or struggled to maneuver an object through narrow doors when the only obvious solution is you’ve got to carefully remove one part (like the door) without scratching the precious finish) and then out it all together at the other side.
        Yes I could be wrong, but in my universe when someone has delivered a large heavy object to my home I will give the $10 a person for saving me the trouble.
        Tips supposedly were “ To insure prompt service.” When I call for a delivery food order, do I get it fast and hot? When I’ve got a building issue my super is there in minutes. Why? Because we tip – not extravagantly, but in measure, recognizing that a service is being provided “above and beyond” what the person is getting in salary. Does it acknowledge the person doing the job? Do we get better service? Hell yea. Does my mail person give me a cheery hello every time I see him? You bet. Does yours?

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Except I paid Best Buy am extra $100 for delivering this fridge and $40 for hauling away the old one. The guys delivering it didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts.
          Also, never in a million years I would tip my apartment maintenance workers. It is my rental agreement that they must provide timely maintenance.
          In addition, I have no idea who is my mail person is. Never seen them.

    5. Nicki Name*

      Here to say “of course not” but by looking at this thread I’ve learned that some people do.

    6. WellRed*

      I tip for appliances or when I had a new bed delivered and set up but it’s like $5 or $10, not 20% or anything.

    7. EveryDayICheckMyEmailandForWhat*

      I always offer water and a granola bar, and they always take me up on the water. If the service is exceptional, I tip, but a bad experience kind of put me off furniture delivery tipping. We had ordered from a store who promised us the delivery was included, but when the haulers got there, they basically kept our furniture hostage until we tipped them, cash! It felt like such a rip-off and a scam, and looking back we probably should have called the company directly in the moment, but we were moving into our first apartment and didn’t have anything. So now I’m very wary of any furniture delivery.

    8. RedinSC*

      I believe it’s traditional. 20 years ago I tipped $10 each to the 2 guys who delivered a sofa. So now, I’d probably tip $20 each for a fridge.

    9. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Yes, for big appliances/orders, always. 5 EUR is my standard, 10 if the delivery guys are nice/it’s a big order.

      I tipped 15 EUR each to the guys who delivered my fridge because they brought it into the flat to the exact spot it was supposed to be instead of to the door, which was the furthest ‘into’ the flat I could actually book delivery to.

      My thinking is: I can afford it, and it might make someone’s day better, so why not?

  31. Falling Diphthong*

    What are you watching, and would you recommend it?

    Echo, Maya Lopez’s origin story on Disney+. This turned out to be well done and engaging (despite being an origin story) and tightly told in 5 episodes. Maya is a really compelling and unique badass, and while the show follows on the series Hawkeye (where she was the chief antagonist) it isn’t trying to lug along plot developments for 14 other Marvel stories. The Choctaw aspects are thoughtfully integrated, and there is some really good fight choreography.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Leave the World Behind, Netflix movie in which a family takes a spontaneous weekend away to a quiet corner of Long Island, and things get weird. Phone service goes down; internet goes down; deer act weird; an oil tanker hits the beach. A slow burn that I thought sort of fizzled out at the end. It explores the concept of the apocalypse not coming with a helpful monologuer who explains to everyone exactly what’s happening, but instead a series of weird breaks to normal life. At what point do you realize that the normal world isn’t coming back? Stellar cast–Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali–that I wish had been given a bit more plot to work with.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Leave the World Behind: I found bits of the film OK, but I preferred the novel; it also had the slow-burn/what’s-going-on aspect, but managed to keep it at an unnerving level.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          oh good! the movie came up in discussion at work this week, we’ve been dealing with a huge ransomware attack, but I was hoping it was available as a book too, and just hadn’t gotten the chance to look. Thanks for the reminder, I just grabbed it from the library :)

      2. California Dreamin'*

        I liked the movie okay but also preferred the novel. I read it in the early days of the pandemic (actually WHILE we were on one of those early-pandemic airbnb “vacations” with our teenaged kids where we just lounged around the house and pool for a few days just to get our out of our own house) and I found it very unsettling!

      3. Mimmy*

        I didn’t realize this was a book! We watched the movie and thought it was disturbing but very good.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Reservoir Dogs about four high school students in Oklahoma, trying to find their way a year after the death of one of their close friends. This was a slow burn in a good way: I thought the first few episodes were fine and well crafted; by season 2 I was deeply invested in everyone.

      A theme is that no one has the answers. There is no wise one behind the curtain willing to explain it all to you.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Reservation Dogs is such a great show. I’m sad it’s over.

        Would also recommend Echo, as Falling Diphthong did.

        The new Quantum Leap is worth watching, too. Its season 2 finale was pretty amazing, and I really hope there’s a season 3.

        Julia got canceled, unfortunately, but it was such a great series.

        I also really like The Equalizer.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I also just found out Brothers Sun got canceled. First season was great and definitely worth checking out.

      2. Jay*

        Isn’t that something like “Reservation Dogs”?
        I know Reservoir Dogs, and that is something COMPLETELY different ;)
        It’s also a pretty awesome movie.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Sorry, yes–it’s Reservation Dogs. Despite never seeing Reservoir Dogs, the title seems to be firmly lodged in my brain.

    3. GoryDetails*

      The live-action “Last Airbender” on Netflix – I loved the animated series and was worried about the adaptation, but I’m enjoying this very much.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      After watching season 5 (series 5 in the UK) of Unforgotten on PBS, we became PBS Passport members and have watched the first two seasons. TW for things like suicide and definitely sexual abuse, but we have enjoyed it. Superb, perfectly understated acting, just riveting. (Americans: we lived in England for three years but I still had a piece of paper and pen to write down slang we didn’t understand.)

    5. DistantAudacity*

      Letterkenny is now on Netflix! All of it! I’d managed to watch up to series 8 before, but then it got too difficult to find. Anyways, Letterkenny v funny comedy series is a small canadian town of 5000 people (hicks, goths amd hockey players), and these are their problems. Surprisingly wholesome and inclusive, in amongst all the word plays and shenanigans.

      Also am watching Doctor Slump on Netflix, which is very charming. The leads are very cute. Content warning for depression/burnout, handled in surprisingly decent way! Also content warning TV medicine on some of the doctor stuff.

      1. Wireknitter*

        I watched the first episode of Letterkenny a couple of years ago. It felt like one long homophobic rant and I never went back. What am I missing? Wholesome and inclusive did not come through in that episode. Does it just need time to get up to speed?

        1. ThatGirl*

          The characters get more likeable, and more accepting. I didn’t love it at first either but it grew on me.

        2. DistantAudacity*

          Oh no, they are very explicitly not OK with the homophobics!
          That gets very clear; it’s generally very sex-positive and anti-slut-shaming. And wholesome, for a specific meaning of it: value-wise, not necessarily for whole family :) Although your Grandma might enjoy it anyway!

          Majorly supportive of people doing their thing. They may be anti-specific persons, though, and definitly anti-the-next-town-up-country (degens).

          Also well known for very good positive depictions of the neighbours from the closest reservation.

    6. Cicely*

      Anything and everything with Vera Farmiga. Set to watch “Up in the Air.” Loved her in “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.”

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Professor T, on Britbox; the remake with Ben Miller (the first detective on Death in Paradise.) It’s very funny and has great character work, especially from Miller. There’s also a chihuahua named Kafka, so I was in love from the get go.

    8. Professor Plum*

      I’ve been enjoying The Traitors, US season 2 on Peacock. They’ve been releasing one new episode a week, but we’re at the final episode this coming Thursday, so it’s a great time to binge the show if you haven’t seen it yet. Campy, reality version of the party game mafia. Alan Cumming is fantastic as the host. There are also versions from other countries and three new seasons are set to show up in March. The US version features reality stars from other shows; most other countries feature regular folks.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’m not much for reality TV, but Alan Cumming really made the show as host. Worth it for his campiness alone.

    9. carcinization*

      Just caught Shogun on FX, some unpleasant visuals and slightly weird choices with language stuff, but overall intrigued and will keep watching.

    10. Mimmy*

      This is much older, but after watching the ENTIRE Grey’s Anatomy series last year, I was itching for another medical drama, so I started watching House, M. D. I am up to its final season. Dr. House can be incredibly exasperating, but some of the cases he and his team are tasked with solving are really interesting. I also love watching his coworkers try to knock him down a peg or two LOL.

      If I had to compare, I like Grey’s Anatomy more. It’s a more diverse cast and more interesting character dynamics.

  32. The OG Sleepless*

    Inspired by HannahS’s request for funny videos, are there any other places to find old videos besides Youtube?

    Specifically, I’m looking for the full version of the Shaquille O’Neal Reebok commercial where the old basketball stars recite Rudyard Kipling’s “If” to the very young Shaq (his stepfather delivers the last line.) Youtube only shows a 30 second clip of it.

    1. Other Duties as Assigned*

      I suggest archive.org. They have a wide array of moving images: old films, videos, commercials, news, etc. There’s a category called Classic TV Commercials which might be worth a look. Otherwise, you can watch entire blocks of old TV like complete national newscasts of the past, entire old sporting events, local newscasts, etc., all with commercials intact.

      Searching the Moving Image Archive on the word Reebok under metadata brought up 683 results, which you can then narrow down by year.

  33. in pursuit of calm*

    i am building a reading list and looking for books that fall into the same category as the fabulous frances hardinge novels. i’ve just finished the lie tree, and recently finished fly by night and fly trap. my absolute favorite was a face like glass. her protagonists are so wonderfully complex, and her world building is amazing. looking to avoid stories about romantic relationships and any references to physical relations if you know what i mean. i just love her writing, her adventures, and her main characters so much. thanks!

    1. fposte*

      Ooh, Frances Harding is wonderful and very individual, so finding something like that might be a tall order. She stands out for me also because I’m warmer toward realism than fantasy, so regular fantasy readers may have a bigger mental library to draw on. I won’t necessarily remember which books include a romance but I’m trawling my memory for other younger-aimed fantasy that managed to get to a similar place in my brain. You might have a look at S. E. Grove’s The Glass Sentence for a start.

      1. fposte*

        Sorry, autocorrect took the “e” off of her name. For anybody looking, it is definitely Hardinge.

    2. Gracie*

      I mentally put Hardinge into the same category as Diana Wynne Jones? Howl’s Moving Castle has a fairly central romance, but lots of hers don’t

  34. Rosey*

    I’m a mid-thirties woman with thinning hair. Can anyone commiserate or provide hair growth product suggestions?

    My thick hair was the only thing I ever got compliments on when I was younger, and now it feels like I’ve lost my only good trait, so this is very upsetting to me. I noticed it was thinning when my scalp was feeling a little itchy and I used a 3-way mirror to search for irritation. I asked a friend to look at my hair, and they confirmed the hair at the crown of my head is thinner than lower on my head.

    I don’t find a lot of hair on my pillow or on my clothes. I counted all the hairs I pulled off myself or found in the shower/bathroom each morning this week, and it’s about 15-20, which is normal according to Google searches. I comb my hair with a wide tooth comb before using a hair dryer to partly dry it, and I don’t notice a lot of hairs falling out. So it’s not a sudden, catastrophic loss of hair and I don’t know what could be causing it. I was in a toxic job for two and a half years that caused depression, anxiety, and insomnia, which might explain it, but I left that job 6 months ago, so wouldn’t my hair have started growing back by now?

    I have shorter hair and used to rub my towel along my head to dry it, which I now realize was probably a bad thing to do, so this past week I started to just press the towel against my head gently. I also switched from a sulfate containing shampoo to a sulfate free shampoo.

    Is there anything else I can do? I looked at some hair and nail vitamins at the grocery store, but there were several different ones and I don’t know which, if any, actually work.

    1. Sloanicota*

      You don’t do a lot of tight ponytails right? I’ll be interested to see what others say – the ponytail is the only thing I noticed – I used to pull it back for work every day and in my 30s I realized it was too fragile to do that anymore.

      1. Rosey*

        I used to have shoulder length hair that I kept pulled back in tight ponytails, which left a receded hairline. I didn’t realize it was damaging my hair that much until my mid-twenties and cut my hair short at that point (too short for any sort of ponytail).

      2. Rosey*

        I wore tight ponytails until my mid-twenties (which did cause a receded hairline), then got my hair cut short enough that I can’t wear it in a ponytail anymore. It did occur to me that I might have permanently damaged hair all over my scalp from that, but I think I would have noticed it before now.

      3. Rosey*

        Sorry if there ends up being multiple responses here. I’ve tried to respond twice, and nothing appears, so it might be getting caught up in moderation.

    2. A313*

      I would see a dermatologist, if that’s available to you. You will skip all the unhelpful measures and save time (as you found, there are a lot of products that claim to help, but your situation might not need a particular one, and you won’t know for a while as you have to wait for your hair to grow, or not). And you’ll find out if this is something that needs more medical treatment, like if it’s a thyroid issue.

    3. Not A Manager*

      See a dermatologist and also your regular doctor. Rule out thyroid or other issues. Prescription strength minoxidil has helped me regrow hair in one area on my scalp that was getting honestly kind of bald. But rule out other medical issues first.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m a late 30s woman and have been dealing with this for the past couple years too. It’s really miserable.

      Are you also having acne? Awhile after I noticed the thinning I also started getting really painful, constant cystic acne across my chin and when I went to a dermatologist she told me the two symptoms are likely related and hormonal. She prescribed spironolactone and the acne cleared up but I’m still seeing hair loss so a few months ago she increased the dosage. I also use women’s rogaine daily but I think the next step after that is stuff like laser treatments, unfortunately.

      Hope you find a solution that works for you!

      1. Rosey*

        I had painful, cystic acne until my late twenties, at which point I started using tretinoin. My face has mostly been acne free since then. At the time, I was told the acne was hormonal though.

        I’m on birth control (and use it continuously to avoid all the cramps and nausea). Maybe my hormones changed and I need something new? have an OBGYN appointment at the end of the month, so I could ask the doctor about it then.

        1. mreasy*

          I mentioned this before, but retinoids can unfortunately cause hair loss and thinning. It was a commenter here that told me about it, and when I quit my prescription strength tretinoin the thinning near my face reversed after awhile. It may be worthwhile in your case as cystic acne is horrible, but I have heard from friends that dermatologists don’t always mention this side effect, and mine didn’t.

          1. Rosey*

            Did you use topical or oral tretinoin? I started googling it, and it says the topical doesn’t cause hair loss, but the oral can.

            I use the .5 cream every other night. Had no idea that you could get it in pill form!

    5. Cicely*

      Same for me, and I was just looking up this topic. I am post-menopausal, so that likely is a lot of it for me, but I also take a blood pressure med., and my hairdresser once mentioned that it can cause thinning hair.

      About two decades ago, I was vegan, and I ate a lot of kelp, which seemed to do a LOT for my hair and skin; glossy, full hair and dewy skin, and fuller eyelashes. I doubt if the same effects would occur at my age now (58).

      But I plan to start with a dermatologist as suggested in this thread. Can’t hurt!

    6. Rara Avis*

      My hair completely stopped growing for a while, and when I mentioned it to my doctor, she tested me for iron deficiency. (Specifically ferritin uptake.)

      1. Rosey*

        A lot of people are suggesting to go to the doctor, so I just scheduled an appointment with my primary care doctor next week. (I’m tired all the time and have low energy, so maybe I have an iron deficiency!)

        1. Not A Manager*

          Not to play doctor, but if they don’t offer it, consider asking for a thyroid panel.

    7. Nicki Name*

      Mine started thinning for a while before I was diagnosed with PCOS. Going on hormones for that seems to have addressed it (and a bunch of other things).

    8. Spacewoman Spiff*

      What others have said, definitely see a dermatologist. I waited for a year after I first noticed my hair was thinning before I went in, because I was so embarrassed. When I finally did go in, she was very straightforward…they see this all the time. I’m still not quite sure what the root cause was for me (work stress? Shampoo? PCOS? Normal thinning with age?) but about five years on, and I’ve changed the shampoo I was using at the time and have also been using Rogaine on my derm’s advice. I also started on Spironlactone (PCOS related) which I’ve heard can improve hair growth though I haven’t noticed any change in the year since I started on that. For an about a year I stopped wearing ponytails or hair clips at all, just wore it loose or in a braid, and now I’ve been able to relax on all that because my hair is really back to its more normal state without thinning. Good luck! I know how terrible it feels but a derm may be able to help you out.

      1. Rosey*

        I’m embarrassed about it too (even though I know I shouldn’t be)! Thank you for mentioning that the dermatologists treat hair loss all the time.

        I looked up PCOS since a few people have mentioned it, and I fit some of the symptoms.

      1. WS*

        +1, this was my problem. Iron, calcium, B-vitamin and zinc deficiencies can also slow hair regrowth to the point that you’re loosing more than you’re growing.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Humphrey Bogart apparently had such a severe Vitamin B deficiency at one point that he lost all his hair and started exhibiting symptoms of dementia! A series of shots reversed the damage before it was permanent.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      I would consult with your hair stylist, pronto. And your doctor–hair thinning can be symptomatic of a lot of things, including nutritional deficits and thyroid issues.

      Have you had any switches, of any kind, in your diet or medications? Any medical issues (including menopause?) Been pregnant in the recent past?

      And 6 months can be not a lot of time to process toxicity and trauma–sometimes there’s a delayed reaction when your body finds a safe place to start dealing.

      1. Rosey*

        The only switch I can think of is I started taking a prescription for insomnia a month or two before I left the toxic job (so I’ve been taking it about 7 or 8 months).

        I googled it, and it seems like webpages about the medication don’t list hair loss as a side effect, but there are other websites that include it in lists of medications that can rarely cause hair loss. So I don’t know if it’s that or not. I tried to stop taking the medication a few months ago, and was actually trying to wean off it again right now.

        I didn’t know that bodies can delay dealing with trauma until they’re safe. That’s interesting!

    10. Once too Often*

      I’ve had excellent results from Zenagen products. Staff at the cancer center were impressed.

      Shampoos target men & women for hormone differences. I think the conditioner is gender neutral. The daily serum is expensive, as in ~$100/month, but clearly makes a difference for both growth & melanin support. Love the way my hair feels.

      The hair dresser supplying me mostly recommend it for age related hair loss. 3 months of use typically makes visible differences.

      Note that their shipping is expensive. If you have a local supplier, you can have product shipped there for pick up & not pay shipping.

    11. Sad indefinitely*

      Go to a dermatologist NOW, as in make the appointment immediately. It could take significant time just to get to see them. Of course I have no idea what your situation is but i can tell that one possible scenario is “we have options to stop or slow the loss but can’t reverse any that’s already happened,” so in that case the earlier you act the more options you have.
      It’s too late for me but i hope this warning may still help you.

    12. mreasy*

      I know it’s expensive and annoying but Olaplex made a world of difference when I started having these issues a few years back (I’m 44 now).

    13. mreasy*

      *also I found out here that retinoids can contribute to hair loss, so if you are using them, it’s worth stopping or trying a lower dose.

    14. RLC*

      In addition to going to the doctor (mentioned by many others), sleeping on a silk pillowcase, also a microfiber hair towel for drying rather than traditional towel. Anything that reduces friction on hair may help.

    15. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Rosey, ask your doctor for baseline hormonal tests re perimenopause too, may as well get everything checked!

    16. Strawberry*

      Echoing the advice to see your doctor! My husband and I both have/had vitamin D deficiency and when we started taking the supplement regularly we both saw an improvement in our hair. The hair wasn’t the reason for the test but it was a nice bonus to have a noticeable improvement.

    17. Chauncy Gardener*

      I starting losing a lot of hair in my early 40’s. Turned out my thyroid was hypo. But the synthroid alone didn’t bring it all back. I take a biotin tablet every day and also use women’s rogaine. All together, my hair looks pretty normal now if I keep up with it all
      Good luck!

  35. Arsloan*

    How do you keep your patience around challenging dogs? This has been a rough week for my dog and I. He pulled my lunch off the table when I went to answer a phone call – and I didn’t have enough food in the house to make another real meal for myself – and then seems to have gotten tangled in the cords of my laptop and pulled it off the table. Twice. The send time, just now, I had moved how it was arranged but he did it again. They say never yell at animals, they don’t understand anyway, but I’m never sure what to *do* in these circumstances. Thoughts?

    1. Emma*

      I think it’s getting to know their quirks, and adapting accordingly. For example, I had a dog who would always chew up anything plastic or wood if it was on the floor/chew level (like a pen). So I made every effort to keep dog out of rooms if I had something on the floor, by keeping the door shut, or making sure I was really attentive to anything that might have gone on the floor, and picking it up.

      If something got by me and got chewed, it was irritating, but a known issue of having this dog, so I couldn’t be but so upset.

      So basically – prevent known issues (like in your case, don’t leave food unattended, from now on), accept the occasional annoyance and irritation as part of the price of having a dog, and recognize that sometimes they’ll just do stupid, annoying, sometimes expensive stuff.

      1. Emma*

        And for the laptop issue, you might consider charging it on an out of the way place, and then using it on the kitchen table unplugged, to avoid the cord issue.

        Over the years my dogs have done so many things that are irritating! But I love them.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      This seems par for the course? I have two dogs and theyr’e well behaved but also ocassionally do the “feet on table” thing and ocassionally grab something. Since most dogs do it rarely I assume it’s more about them being hungry/craving some nutrient (the same way people have cravings for “weird” things) so with these two dogs, I cook actual food (like chicken or ground turkey and carrots and squash in a pot, and that helps them not go crazy with cravings. Also having various chew toys, rawhides, occasional bones, those biscuits that supposedly clean their teeth. Also make sure they ocassionally socialize and lots of walks with some dog park visits. Lastly, it’s not your dog’s responsibility that you have absolutely no food in the house. You can’t be mad at an animal that you haven’t gone shopping! Always have some rice in the cupboard and a frozen dinner or burrito or veggie pattie or something in the freezer.

      So long answer short, I learned you don’t do anything specific in these cases, you prevent them from happening by making sure they are well-fed and exercised and stimulated in general.

    3. Shiny Penny*

      I think “feelings management” is a legit part of dog training that tends to be overlooked! My current dog is challengingly fragile, so when he goes off script I have to be really careful about how I express my feelings, or his behavior deteriorates. I’ve also had a dog that was challengingly… challenging. So he needed a whole different suite of responses from me, because he would… escalate if didn’t manage my feelings well. Etc etc, for each unique dog!

      My strategy is to treat it all like a Tetris puzzle that *I* am playing. Fortunately, this makes my brain weirdly happy. I focus on fine-tuning my understanding of ‘this particular dog.’ Then I focus a lot of energy on consciously *predicting* the many ways each life scenario could go off the rails with this particular dog, and implementing strategies *beforehand* that will let us evade the worst outcomes. Maybe I need to block a power cord with chairs or cardboard boxes. Maybe I need to crate the dog during meals until his training advances. Maybe I need to have all visitors put their purses on a high shelf as soon as they arrive because many people have Advil or xylitol chewing gum in their purses.

      So I guess I have trained myself to see dog behavior disasters as more about ME and not so much about THE DOG. I can help myself feel better by devising a plan that I feel confident will prevent a reoccurrence of this particular disaster— and hopefully a whole related category of similar disasters. This strategy works really well for me, and totally reduces the number of dog behavior disasters that actually occur.

      But sometimes it does not work, and then what? My current dog, for instance, has episodes of eating dirt. In 10 years I haven’t been able to fix this, and it could indeed be lethal. It’s not possible to eliminate his access to dirt. And often I am not able to physically contact him in that moment. This has indeed brought me to tears, but it actually now leaves me enraged, which is unusual for me. I think because it’s a no-win situation which is potentially lethal? I cannot fix this by eliminating (all the unknown) triggers. I’ve tried! And I cannot “bully” him with The Ogre Voice from afar (normally a fair option when it’s a life threatening situation) because the days of behavioral collapse that follow are too much for both of us. So I feel powerless and oddly victimized. A lot of bad feelings!

      Last night I tried Distraction (verbally offering A Walk) which did work. But other times, I just have to remove myself from the situation so I don’t make everything worse with my big emotions— so I have to go inside and distract *myself.* It’s interesting how hard it is to walk away from a situation like this, but the biggest priority is Don’t Make It Worse.

      So, I’d say it’s critical to have a well-honed, frequently practiced method of getting some space when you need it. My dogs always start out with crate training, so they have a safe happy place to be if either of us suddenly needs a time-out, or if there’s a sudden danger. If I drop a water glass and it shatters, I just need to give the crate command, and I know the dogs are safe. A crate is better than a whole separate room (even if the crate is IN a separate room) because a freaked out dog may launch a new career in house destruction, and that’s worth predicting and avoiding. Over time, I always add other options for “broken glass on the floor” type events— verbally sending them to a specific bed, or down/stay right where they are. But for the moments when my last iota of patience has burned up, a safe time-out plan like a crate in another room — which DOES NOT DEPEND ON CONTINUED INTERACTION — is, to me, a critical dog essential.

      (All the sensible parent people say this too, I’ve noticed. “Go to your room” has always been a thing because both kids and parents benefit from having an established de-escalation plan.

    4. Jay*

      My parents use those little toddler gates to seal off parts of their house from their dogs.
      Anything that isn’t “dogproof” goes into those places.
      Anything that they don’t want to (or just can’t) involve the dogs in happens in those places.
      The trick seems to be to keep most of the spaces that you use most as shared spaces (living room, etc.) but have things like bathrooms and the kitchen sectioned off.

  36. Steam Information*

    @Bibliovore mentioned asking about how Steam works on the “update: recovering professionally after an internet hate campaign” post from earlier this week. I don’t see a thread on this yet so I thought I’d start one for anyone who wants to know more about what Steam is and how to buy/play video games on Steam.

    Steam is a little like Amazon for video games. It’s free to create a Steam account, and then you can buy games through Steam. There’s a website, but it’s better to install the client. The update post has a link to the Steam website and there’s a green button near the top right that says “Install Steam.”

    Once Steam is installed, you can buy games through the Store and see games you own in the Library. You’ll need to download the games you buy to your computer in order to play them. If you replace an old computer with a new one, you can download Steam on your new computer, log in to your Steam account, then download all of your games onto your new computer (you can also have games downloaded on multiple computers at once, if you own multiple computers).

    If anyone has any questions, I’ll check this thread again later today and tomorrow and do my best to answer them.

    1. SuprisinglyADHD*

      To add to the above, you can also “share” a game on Steam if you set up yours and a family member’s account to allow that. Only one person can play at a time, just like handing a game disc over. There are guides how to do that, the method changed slightly over time.
      Many games will automatically keep a “cloud save” allowing you to keep your save even if you move or delete a save (all games have a local save unless they specifically say otherwise, like some multiplayer online games.
      I had a much better experience buying games using the website in the browser rather than the Steam Client (standalone program). I find that the Client takes a long time to load the store or community pages, but I also use a browser with several ad-blockers and script-blockers to make it run better so ymmv.
      In many games, if you press shift and tab at the same time, it will bring up the Steam Overlay. It’s basically several menus that let you access your friends and chat without leaving the game. It might also have screenshots but I don’t use those so I’m not sure.
      One of the newer features is controller adaptions. In the game’s “properties” menu, it lets you set which controller you are using, so it will know what your button presses mean (eg if you press a on an xbox controller, it can tell the game you mean x on a playstation controller). Not all games have this yet.

    2. YNWA*

      You can also install games not purchased on Steam to Steam and have those in your library.

    3. Bibliovore*

      I did ask on the gaming thread. I will go to the steam website and give it a try. Do you have a recommendation for a “first/easy” game to try?
      I am sorry that I am ignorant and should google these terms but I am asking here if it is easy to respond to-
      What is a controller and how does it attach to my computer (I have an Apple laptop)

      1. Steam Information*

        I usually play games with my keyboard and mouse, so that’s an option if you don’t want to deal with a controller. I will link to an article I found about pairing controllers to a Mac. The article includes some pictures of different controllers (Playstation controller, Xbox controller).

        First/easy game recommendation: “The Stanley Parable.” I’ll link to the page on the Steam store. There’s a free demo of the game available on Steam so you can download and play the demo to decide if you want to buy the full game.

        On the Steam store page, there’s a “system requirements” section. This will tell you which OS (operating system) version the computer needs, which processor, how much memory, and what graphics card. It’s good to check the system requirements before buying a game to make sure your computer can run the game. I’m no computer expert, so I usually just google “check [os version/processor/memory/graphics card] on pc” before I buy a game (because I have a Windows laptop). Because you have a Mac, you can google “check [os version/processor/memory/graphics card] on Mac” instead.

      2. Jay*

        -Cell To Singularity is a pretty good first game.
        It’s super simple and you actually learn things.
        It’s also free (a lot of games are, they are supported by people buying voluntary things like decorations and such).
        -Dave The Diver is a pretty fantastic little game that is kind of hard to explain, just that it’s funny and feel-good, and generally, not that difficult.
        -Dredge is sort of the Lovecraftian cousin of Dave The Diver. There are even crossovers between the two.
        -Dreamscaper is…..hard to describe. It might also be the best game that I have ever played. It’s more challenging. Look it up, look into it, watch some videos before you buy.

        A controller is the little hand-held thing with the switches and buttons that things like PlayStations, Atari’s, etc. use to do things in the game. Computer players often will use a mouse and keyboard. It can be more cumbersome, but offers many more options.

      3. Puzzle Gaming Anon*

        For a “first/easy” game, I would recommend Stardew Valley. It’s a chill game that you can take at your own pace. It is playable with a keyboard and mouse/mouse-pad.

        A controller is a handheld device that is used with lot of gaming consoles– if you have ever heard of a Nintendo Switch, or an Xbox, or a PlayStation, those are all gaming consoles. Controllers can almost be thought of as a really advanced computer mouse that is used with both hands. They connect to a computer either with a wired cable (to a USB port, usually) or with Bluetooth. I don’t think you need to worry about having/using a controller at this point; most video games on Steam can be played with just a mouse/mousepad and keyboard.

        Please be aware that some games only run on Windows computers and not MacOS. In Steam there should be a little icon over the “Add to Cart” button that will tell you what operating system(s) the game will play on.

        If you are ever looking for some more “advanced” games, particularly in the puzzle genre, I recommend:
        A Short Hike
        Untitled Goose Game
        Thomas Was Alone
        Return of the Obra Dinn
        Baba is You

      4. anon24*

        I answered you on the gaming thread. I actually really wouldn’t recommend a controller, the benefit of gaming on a computer is that a mouse and keyboard can be way more precise!
        Also, if you join Steam you can be “friends” with people. This allows you to play multiplayer games with them if you want, but also just lets you message people through their system. If you join Steam and would like a friend to help you with startup questions and to walk you through things, I would be happy to share my gamertag with you!

      5. Phryne*

        what remains of edith finch is more an interactive little movie than a game, all you do is walk around and look at stuff and the story gets told, so could be a nice easy start up game. (tw for death/ loss of family though, do check that if you need those)
        A classic one is Portal. It is a bit more challenging, but it does ease you into it really well, you learn to play along the way.
        If you like the kind of game where you have to build a town and make it prosper, I like Ostriv, but there are many different of those games around and most are not very expensive.
        Personally I like RPG/storytelling games, but I am not interested in spending lots of time learning the correct finger muscle memory of bashing the exact button in the exact second that the fighting element of those games requires, I just want to frolic around imaginary towns and rob some tombs by one-hitting a ghoul. If you find this is the case for you: many of these games have hardness settings where you can make the game easier. If you are the opposite and like that kind of challenge, you can put it on hard, so the experience can be tailored to your enjoyment.

        1. Jackalope*

          I would actually recommend against Portal for a beginner. I’ve been playing video and computer games for years and I’ve had spots where I’ve just… gotten stuck and couldn’t keep going. There are a few sections that are really challenging and don’t have an alternate action or workaround if you can’t make what the creator of the game planned.

          1. Bibliovore*

            okay. having an odd flash back. Was MYST a video game? I think I lost patience with it within ten minutes. This would have been in the early ’90s I think.

            1. Rage*

              Yes, it was. And yes, it was frustrating. I don’t think I ever got further than the first puzzle.

            2. anon24*

              Yes, MYST was a video game, but if I remember correctly it had pretty much no guidance, which was part of the allure, as you were supposed to have woken up in a place with no idea what was going on. I never finished it because I got stuck. Most games will give you a tutorial, quest log, and some directions.

              Also, depending on the game, some games will have good walkthroughs available online, either in text or video form! If you get stuck you can look up the walk through and find help to get past a tricky part. I’ve even “cheated” and had games that I really wanted to play for the experience, but didn’t feel like putting in a lot of time and mental effort figuring out, so I found a video walk through, propped up my phone, and just followed along. I got to enjoy the game and not have to stress over what I was supposed to do next.

              To add on to that, a lot of games have difficulty modes. For example, many RPGs (role playing games) have what’s called story mode. So if you really just want to enjoy the story, it will put it on “super easy” mode which makes combat very easy and you can focus on enjoying the world and the story. I played a lot on story mode when I was starting out and even now occasionally when I just want to be super chill sometimes I’ll turn my difficulty way down for a bit. Some days I’m playing on insane (the hardest) mode, some days it’s story mode! There’s no shame in playing on whatever difficulty you want! No matter whatever anyone says, gaming is for you to enjoy, so play the way you want!

  37. Michelle*

    Just wanted to share that my first granddaughter was born on Thursday! Hopefully her future employers can wrap their heads around a Leap Day birthday! LOL.

    1. Emma*

      Congratulations! My mom has so enjoyed being a grandparent. I hope it’s a joyful experience for you!

    2. Clisby*

      Congratulations! I’d love to be a grandparent but had my children late enough in life that it’s unlikely. (Neither has ever expressed any desire for children, but I had no desire for children at their ages. If they wait until the 40s like I did, I’m sure I’ll be dead.)

    3. Yeah!*

      I have a friend who is a leap year baby. She’s 16 this year. We watch the Pirates of Penzance every year :)

    4. Big sigh*

      A couple in Akron Ohio are both leap babies, had their wedding on leap day, their 2nd children was born this Feb 29th and while their first was not a leap baby he was born in March of a leap year.

    5. allathian*

      Congrats to you and the parents! I hope you’ll enjoy grandparenting as much as my parents and MIL are.

    6. KathyG*

      Congratulations! Grandchildren are the best! All the fun and (almost) none of the responsibilities; you can send them back home when you or they are tired.

  38. Sloanicota*

    Have you ever had luck explaining to anyone that they’re better as a “sometimes friend” and not all the time? I feel like there’s absolutely no way to deliver this message that’s not going to be hurtful, so it’s better to just arrange events so that you see this person every week / every other week and decline all the other invites. I’ve been trying to make it more of a “me thing,” but they know I’m going out with others so I’m clearly up for socializing, just … not with them again right now.

    1. Not A Manager*

      If they know you’re going out with other people, would they accept that you’re just over-extended? Or are these people that they would reasonably expect to be included with? I don’t have any friends that I see more frequently than every few weeks, so it’s shocking to me that someone’s feelings would be hurt by that. They all know that I have other friends and other activities, and also that I like to stay home alone sometimes. (As do they! No one wants to see me twice a week, as far as I can tell.)

      If you really need to have a conversation, I’d keep it to the logistics and not the feelings. “I’m sorry, the way my life is right now, I can only be available every few weeks. I love our hang-outs when we have them, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings that they can’t happen more frequently.” If they push for details, I’d stick with “things are crazy right now,” “I just can’t make it more often,” etc. People who keep pushing, in my opinion, want their feelings to be hurt. I think it’s okay to refuse to do that, or at least to refuse to do it explicitly.

    2. fposte*

      Yeah, I don’t think “I am only lukewarm toward you” is a message you can humanely deliver. I think the way you’re doing it now is the way to go. Offer what you can (and do make sure you offer sometimes), turn down what’s too much. I think most of us are such friends to somebody, so think about how that works.

    3. carcinization*

      Wow, the most often I see any of my friends is usually every other month! Maybe slightly more often once in awhile with one in particular, but not usually even with that particular person. I guess compulsory schooling and college were a little different but not in the decades since then! So every other week doesn’t seem like it should be a horrible fate for anyone.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I agree! I’ve been friends with most of my friends since high school and college when I saw them daily and was happy to do so. I love my friends but can’t imagine seeing any of them more than once a month or so now. Work and family obligations take a lot of my time.

    4. anywhere but here*

      Every week / every other week is still very frequent! I think the bigger thing is finding a way to explain the discrepancy in seeing them vs. seeing your other friends (which is much more frequently, it seems) since every week or two is still enough to be considered a close friend (imo).

      That being said, I have explicitly told a friend that I enjoyed their friendship but that we seemed to be interested in different levels of closeness and that I thought that they would be better off trying to find that closeness with someone else because that wasn’t something I was interested in. (I did also explicitly say that I enjoyed their friendship and wanted to remain friends, I just wanted to calibrate expectations for closeness.) Although in that case it wasn’t “I already have closer friends than you,” it was more “I don’t want to be this close, period.”

  39. Typing All The Time*

    Hi all. I booked a trip to Scotland for this August and I used to do a lot of side jobs (retail, petsitting) to help earn extra days when I was in my 20s and 30s. Due to time and energy, I’m trying to find another flexible side hustle (recently had a job end). Right now, I’m trying to sell some books to a bookstore near me. What else do you recommend?

    1. Emma*

      I have had friends sell plasma (which I don’t know if I’d recommend), take late night jobs at the Amazon warehouse, and then there’s stuff like driving for Lyft or Uber (though a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle, and I had one friend have an issue because he got in an accident and insurance wouldn’t cover it because his car insurance wasn’t meant for commercial use, so be careful!), and then there’s stuff like instacart.

    2. Pieforbreakfast*

      I’ve been unemployed for six months, I got on a list for paid food tastings through the local university’s food marketing lab, and paid consumer panels (one recently was a law group presenting their argument in a lawsuit to get feedback before trial). It’s not a lot, $50-100 depending on the length, but it’s an okay way to spend time. The latter I found through a social media post and the former through a friend, maybe a source in your area can be Googled.

    3. Vanessa*

      Would you be willing to clean houses. It is really hard to find someone in my area that has availability. Depending on size and needs it could be 120 and up (in my area it’s around 40/hr)

    4. Shiny Penny*

      For the right type of person, helping out an elderly person (driving them places, taking them shopping, moving the not very big thing that’s still a too big thing) can be very mutually beneficial. I adore the woman who helps my elderly relative when I cannot. She is a trusted back-up for my relative and I (one who actually follows my directions, unlike my relative lol). She enhances my relative’s life, even tho my relative is usually a bit peeved that the helper isn’t me.

  40. Once too Often*

    Shout out to anyone dealing with various stages of cancer treatment & recovery, or facing down any other significant illness. Good vibes coming your way. May your recovery anniversaries be sweet.

    1. Biopsy result looming*

      Thank you. I was just called in for a third screening and a biopsy an will get the results next week. The radiologist said that it didn’t look bad, so I’m hopeful, but of course still a bit worried.

      And just as I predicted, my partner had a meltdown and started a huge fight. Just the one so far, and we’re good now, but still a bit frustrating to have to deal with it. They are not good with uncertainity. I would prefer not to take care of their feelings, but I’ve always been the strong one.

      “I’m the strong one. I’m not nervous. I’m as tough as the crust of the earth is.” Luisa’s song really resonated with me.

      1. allathian*

        Good luck, I hope you get the news soon, and that it’s good.

        Sounds like your partner needs someone else to dump their uncertainty anxiety on rather than you. I hope y