weekend open thread — June 22-23, 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: Margo’s Got Money Troubles, by Rufi Thorpe. A 20-year-old with a new baby turns to her pro wrestler father and a demented OnlyFans account to help support them. I did not expect to love this as deeply as I did.

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

{ 1,070 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 what happened to me today” 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!

    1. Kristina L*

      So cute! My 2 cats have lived in the same house for about 9 years, and although they mostly get along and sometimes play together, they don’t cuddle. Sometimes they’re both cat napping about a foot away from each other, but that’s usually as good as it gets.

      1. RLC*

        We have 4 but only 3 in pile and always same 3. Our little loner lost her favorite puddle buddies in 2018, got a new buddy in 2019, lost him in 2023 and now won’t puddle with anyone (sad emoji).

  2. sarah*

    Books you thought you wouldn’t like but actually loved?

    Books you thought you’d love but ended up not liking?

    Looking for reading inspiration, thought this would be an interesting way to do it.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Game of Thrones. A lot of my friends read it and raved about it, but I got through three chapters and I was like “I do not have time for this.” It was so boring and poorly written (above the paragraph level, that is).

      I was surprised that I liked Twilight (which I had to read for a lit class). The story was good and engaging (I really wanted to find out what happened next!), but the line-by-line writing is a hack job. The author did no research, which helped when she was coming up with a new type of vampire, but didn’t help when she’s describing a high school in the Pacific NW that doesn’t have the sense to have enclosed hallways, so that students get soaked walking from class to class. Of course, the copy I bought at Sam’s Club had an entire signature (32 pages, I think) missing, and I didn’t even notice until we were discussing it in class. That says a lot about the quality of the writing.

      1. lemontart*

        I actually thought Twilight wasn’t bad either. It’s fluff, but written somewhat engagingly.

        1. Lilith*

          Same! I think I read the whole series over a couple of days when I was laid up somewhere that had the books on their shelves – it was very readable in the moment but I can’t say that any of it stuck with me

        2. Rage*

          Same. I found it extremely engaging. I think because Meyer was able to put me, as the reader, so completely into Bella’s head that I understood her reasoning behind every decision. I always understood why she did what she did.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It took me a bit longer to ditch Game of Thrones. I will say, I have come full circle from book 1’s “omg they killed a pov character” to expecting–after countless characters appeared to die and then turned up alive 500 pages later–that that pov character will stride out from behind the curtain to explain that he has been running things all along.

        1. Girasol*

          I read it all (all but the last book that wraps up the whole plot: the one he never wrote!) I liked it but it’s a slog. He follows a different character with each chapter. There are so many chapters about other characters before the same one comes around again that I can’t remember why that character is in a cliff hanger and have to thumb back through to find the last chapter about that character so I can review the story line.

        1. allathian*

          Same here, and I greatly enjoyed the show. Yes, even the much-maligned last season.

        2. Clisby*

          I couldn’t either. I liked the TV series, and I have a niece and nephew who LOVED the books, but I couldn’t even come close to finishing the first book.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I work at a school in the PNW with no enclosed hallways. It’s an absolutely ridiculous design choice but it does happen! We also have outdoor malls :)

        1. 2QS*

          I went to a high school in the PNW with a limited number of enclosed hallways; one of the largest buildings had individual entrances for most of the classrooms. The architects had been trying to pretend we were in southern California. It worked very well in the summer, when there were usually no students around. Otherwise, I spent years feeling jealous of kids in the area who got to go inside and just stay warm and dry all day, rather than get soaked multiple times a day on a nearly constant basis.

      4. Anono-me*

        In defense of Twilight (Did I really just type that?), I have to say that as someone who went to school in a state that borders Canada and regularly makes national news for our extreme temperatures and snow. Portable classrooms without hallways were part of my life at two different schools.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I should have been a big fan of the LOTR trilogy and the Harry Potter books, struggled through each one time and cannot stomach the idea of reading either of them again. (Even without taking my issues with JKR into consideration.)

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Eh, I still read the Tolkien books every few years, and I loved HP when they first came out, and would love to reread them again, but Rowling is just such a dumpster fire of awful opinions that I know I would never be able to enjoy them.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Yeah, I tried reading the first Scholomance book, and I just hated it. Many of my friends rave about it but it was sooooo tedious and irritating for me.

          #### spoilers below with why ####

          I hated that the main character complained for most of the book, had to deal with that obnoxious guy, and then they became a couple….. aaargh!!!!!

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            Forgot to mention I was reading it as an alternative to that dumpster fire person’s books, so it was extra disappointing. :(

            1. Peanut Hamper*

              Yeah, the “magical school” trope has a lot of power, and I wish there were a good alternative to those, but there simply isn’t.

              I actually had a dream once that basically got a different story going about magical kids in a US public school (which looked very much like my middle school) and when the alarm went off I jumped up and scribbled as much down in my journal as I could. I guess I should look those pages up and see if I can do anything with them.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I re-read them recently and still enjoyed them (HP) but she will NEVER get another penny of money from me no matter what she does. When i can’t enjoy them anymore, I’ll dump them.

          Tolkien — always good. Better than HP, really. I pretty much skim all the “They walked. They camped. The hobbits cried. They walked some more. They ate lembas” parts because there are a lot of them, lol.

            1. Irish Teacher.*

              I enjoyed the books, but generally had a problem with the equating of courage with morality and cowardice with evil that goes right through them. Even Peter Pettigrew, the “evil” Gryffindor sells out his friends due to cowardice and the books constantly imply the cowardice is unforgiveable whereas people like Lucius Malfoy who enjoy doing evil are redeemable.

              When in reality, a lot of pretty evil people have been very brave. And honestly, people who are brave and evil are the biggest danger to society because if people are evil but cowardly, then strict laws can often keep them in order but if they are evil and don’t care about hurting others and also brave enough not to fear consequences, then you have a major problem.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        LOTR is a hard read. I completely understand why someone would struggle to enjoy the books. I love them and I have a hard time!

        HP I read because every one else was reading, but I started them when the 5th or 6th book was out. I like the fact that they got kids to enjoy reading and I was never as in to them as many others were. No, they’re not high literature, but that’s ok. As for the author, well, um, yeah. I try not to give her money.

        However, I am very good at separating art from artist, and also at separating out the problematic pieces. There’s a lot of good books and music and art out there was that created by someone seriously problematic. (Ender’s Game and Orson Scott Card anyone?) There can still be value in the art.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I love the LOTR stories, I just can’t read the books. But even before JKR went full bananas, I didn’t much care for the HP series of books, and was pretty indifferent to the movies.

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          LoTR can be a bit of a slog, agreed, but I still love it. There is so much going on! Tolkien likes to look at the scenery in order to create a sense of verisimilitude. If you are used to reading books quickly, you need to realize that this is one that you aren’t going to be able to do this with.

          One of the things I like about it is that the main theme (or one of them, anyway; Tolkien has a lot of lines in the water) is one of accountability. We are where we are because some people were accountable (Galadriel, who passes the test and accepts her fate to fade into the west and diminish) and some weren’t (Isildur, who thought he was above such things).

          **Spoiler Alert**

          The delight is that the level of accountability is matched to the character’s power in general, so it’s a huge surprise (although it shouldn’t be when viewed through this lens) how Frodo tries to, but can’t destroy the Ring, and Gollum saves, but ends up destroying, and is also destroyed by, the Ring.

          Also, the movies leave out the most important chapter, which is “The Scouring of the Shire” in which, again, various Hobbits are held accountable for their very small but very vital roles they played in much larger affairs that they weren’t even aware of. The book ends well; the movie just ends with a bunch of hobbits drinking beer, which is pretty much any British pub on a Friday night.

          Thank you for coming to my LoTR TED talk.

          1. Clisby*

            Well, you can join my husband, who unfailingly complains about leaving out “The Scouring of the Shire” if anyone brings up the LOTR movies.

            He liked the movies, but man, mess with the Scouring of the Shire, and he has it in for you.

        3. RC*

          Fun fact: I’ve never actually seen the LOTR films because I meant to see them after reading the books in preparation for them, and they turned out to be such a slog I gave up on the whole endeavour (I think I did actually finish the trilogy eventually, but do not ask me anything about them).

          In the intervening years I’ve gotten a lot more judicious about DNF-ing books — it turned out I couldn’t stand The Love Hypothesis, but also pretty much could infer the ending anyway. I did finish/hated Lessons in Chemistry, only because everyone loved it and I was trying to articulate why I hated it so much. (But most of the books I read, I like! And I choose to read them expecting to like them!)

    3. EA*

      Some recent reads I thought I’d love and didn’t:
      Demon Copperhead. Prose is excellent and normally I love her work but it dragged for me and the material is so depressing.
      Thursday Murder Club. Similar to other books I’ve loved, but it was too contrived for me.
      Remarkably Bright Creatures.

      Some books that surprised me:
      Legendborn. Picked this up before a long appointment with no expectations and it was such a fun YA read.
      The Queen’s Gambit. I loved this book – better than the TV show, IMHO.

      1. Slinky*

        I’ll second Legendborn! I used to work at UNC, so this had some personal significance, but I hadn’t expected to love this based on the summary, and yet I enjoyed it so much.

      2. Abigail*

        Unpopular opinion about Demon Copperhead: Kingslover used the Magical Black Person trope in Demon’s teacher/guidance counselor.

    4. Weekend Warrior*

      Thought I wouldn’t like Moby Dick so put off reading it for years but really loved it.

      Thought I would like Crime & Punishment because I like other works by Dostoevsky but couldn’t crack if after at least 3 tries. I had to agree with an online comment I saw, “nobody cares about your sad b*ner Raskolnikov!”

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

        I felt the same about *Moby Dick* — it was surprisingly awesome! (I guess I had just heard too much bad publicity from people who were forced to read it in high school.)

        Thought I would like *Vanity Fair* but just couldn’t get into it.

        1. GoryDetails*

          I loved both Moby Dick and Vanity Fair – they’re among many classics that surprised me because they feature more humor than I expected in Serious Literary Works, even though both novels are more dark than funny. The character complexities and the plot twists kept me involved in both.

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I’d like to do Vanity Fair from Becky Sharp’s point of view. It’s hinted that her parents pimped her out as a child, and that’s going to make a person Not Normal.

    5. Anon Poster*

      I still remember the disappointment I felt when I realized that I wasn’t going to love The Night Circus. That book sounded right up my alley and I couldn’t wait to read it, but I just couldn’t connect with it at all. I finished it, and I don’t regret buying or reading it, but I was so certain I was going to love it and all I felt was blah.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Yeah I didn’t finish The Night Circus. Was so disappointed because I loved the premise, and the book was a gift from a dear friend who usually nails my taste and clearly meant well. I just got so tired of it I couldn’t be bothered to complete it.

      2. BadMitten*

        I was the same. Have you ever tried the young adult series Caraval? I found that much more enjoyable.

      3. Goldfeesh*

        Yep, right up my alley but it was like eating too much cotton candy. It was pure fluff and no substance.

      4. RussianInTexas*

        Same. It was not terrible, but nothing special. My friend raved about it so I read it, and meh.

      5. carcinization*

        I felt that way about her next book (The Starless Sea, I think?). It just never caught me or whatever. Seemed like lots of cool imagery with nothing holding it together.

    6. Forensic13*

      A surprise enjoyment: Eleanor Oliphant is Totally Fine. It’s the exact opposite of books I normally like, but I loved it.

      Surprise hate: Legends and Lattes. MAN I was so BORED with that book.

      1. EA*

        I kind of agree on L&L. I didn’t hate it but didn’t like it much, and when I found out it was a NaNoWriMo project, it kind of made sense…

        1. Forensic13*

          Yeah, I read it thinking “you only let people who are really into this content read this book, and it shows. You desperately needed a second opinion on this.”

          Not because it’s terrible, but because there are just so many moments where I thought “your DnD group loved this but it is doing nothing for the actual plot.”

      2. BadMitten*

        Omg Legends and Lattes—agreed! I got the audiobook from my library and couldn’t get into even through listening. But it seemed so cool in theory!

      3. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yes to Eleanor Oliphant. I didn’t 100% love it, but spent probably the first half not enjoying it much and wondering what the hype was all about, and as I went on I warmed up to it in a very unexpected way. I felt like I was finally really getting it by the end.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Dava Shastri’s Last Day, about a billionaire with terminal cancer who stages her death a few days early, so she can enjoy the obituaries. The review of her life does not go as she planned.

      The money is like a character in its own right. A black hole around which everything else revolves. She had given her children $10 million trust funds, which I felt were on the stingy side–an emotion I never expected to have about a $10 million trust fund, and that cognitive dissonance has really stuck with me.

      I also really loved the description of the house (remote mansion on a private island)–she took a cozy ski chalet with good memories from her childhood, doubled all the dimensions, and copied it, without thinking about how to make it better fit with her life. (Like, if you have four kids, the design should have at least four guest rooms or suites of about the same size.) The awkwardness in something designed to be cozy echoes the other dissonances of the reunion.

      1. Aquatic*

        We got the Nobel prize because Alfred Nobel was appalled to read what his obituary had to say about him (and not just because his brother was the one who actually died).

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. I thought we had more than enough zombie stories, but then this one came in, set after the Civil War with young black girls training to be bodyguards for white women. (In this world the Civil War ended when the dead rose and started eating both sides.) I was reading this on January 6th, which really underscored the revanchist aspect.

      The sequel Deathless Divide is even better, and starts up a couple of years later, and the characters have grown in the interim.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This is one that I expected to love, I enjoy zombies and postapoc style fiction and alternative history, and I just could not get into it.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve tried City of Brass three times, because I loved the author’s Adventures of Amina al Safira and so this should be right up my alley. But nope.

      I also found Naomi Novik’s fairy tale books slow going, even though I have lost count of the times I reread her Scholomance series.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Aww. Sorry city of brass isn’t working for you! I loved that series. Granted, I think I loved Amina even more. I want more books where middle-aged women get to have adventures that aren’t just about rediscovering that they like men.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I read Uprooted after seeing Naomi Novik recommended here so often and was so disappointed I haven’t tried any of her other books.

        1. 2QS*

          In my opinion, Uprooted ranks WAY below Spinning Silver and the Scholomance books, which are all much better plotted and less exasperating. I should have started with those.

        2. MCL*

          I will say that her Temeraire series is so absolutely 100% different from any of her other works that I actually forget sometimes that she wrote it. If you like works like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (very stylized old-timey Napoleonic era fantasy) that’s a really masterful set of books. I can’t say her other stuff has exactly suited my taste.

        3. Yikes Stripes*

          I found Uprooted to be far less mature and interesting than Spinning Silver or the Scholomance trilogy. I haven’t felt any urge to reread Uprooted, but I’ve read Spinning Silver three or four times – the audiobook is excellent – and I’ve actually lost track of how many times I’ve ripped through the Scholomance books, both in print and in audio format.

          I also enjoyed the first two of her Temeraire books, but found myself so bored with the third one that when I set it down “for a day or so” I just sort of never found my way back to it.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I grew tired of the Temeraire World Tour, myself. I saw that she tried to change things up for the time they were in Japan, but I was losing interest by then, and her change didn’t work for me.

        4. Dark Macadamia*

          I might have to try Spinning Silver! I don’t remember why I choose Uprooted over that one but they’ve both been on my to-read list because I love fairy tale novels

          1. Yikes Stripes*

            Spinning Silver is very much a fairy tale retelling, but it’s also very explicitly Russian and Jewish for all that it’s set in a fantasy country. I love it very, very much.

      3. Pinkbasil*

        I love her Temeraire books, at least the first few, but the fairy tale books were one and done. She has a book of Temeraire short stories that include one based on Pride and Prejudice. That one is very fun!

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Oh, if you haven’t read it already, try Jo Walton’s TOOTH AND CLAW. It’s a Regency with dragons.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      The earliest book I remember being talked into was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler–I was eleven or twelve, I think? And for some reason dubious, but the bookseller (who knew me and my mom) really recommended it hard–and rightly so, became a favorite instantly.

      The most recent was Watership Down–not because I hadn’t heard it was good but because I had been traumatized by the cartoon as a kid, and Husband had to push into my hands (it’s his favorite.) Of course, I loved it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, and “couldn’t get into it” would be Helen Oyeyemi. I’ve tried her several times, she SHOULD be an author after my own heart, but I just can’t connect to the material.

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

        Ooh, I love *From the Mixed Up Files . . . ” — such a classic!

    11. Flower*

      Olive Kittridge. Everyone seemed to love it. I hated it. It was unrelentingly depressing.

      Expected to really like The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I love the other Hunger Games books, have read them multiple times. Can’t get into the prequel at all — I find it really boring. Anyone else feel that way?

      1. Abigail*

        The Hunger Games was so well written with complex character development. Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes felt like fan fiction, it was hard to believe Collins wrote both books.

        I’m nervous about Haymitch’s prequel because he is my favorite character and Woody Harrelson was a perfect casting choice. Big shoes to fill.

      2. word nerd*

        There are plenty of popular authors I like, but Elizabeth Strout, Ann Patchett, and Kristin Hannah are three I haven’t been able to connect with despite multiple attempts. Although I did really like Patchett’s memoir, just not her fiction–for some reason I have trouble connecting with her characters.

        1. Mila*

          I loved Olive Kittridge but did not love Lucy Barton, which so many people rave about. I also just read Patchett’s Tom Lake, which I liked but didn’t love, maybe because it reminded me a bit of Lucy Barton.

          totally unrelated, for years I refused to read A Wrinkle in Time despite my mom’s suggestions; finally read it as an adult and it was amazing!

          1. PhyllisB*

            I didn’t like Lucy Barton, either. I haven’t even wanted to read any of her other books.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I tried Wrinkle when I was a tween, I think? And wanted to punch Charles Wallace in the face so I couldn’t get past the first chapter. I’ll have to try again!

            1. Love me, love my cat*

              A Wrinkle In Time was definitely a favorite years ago! Try again, maybe Charles Wallace won’t strike you as so annoying this time!

        2. OaDC*

          Ann Patchett, Anna Quindlen and Anne Lamott are three writers whose non-fiction/memoirs/essays I enjoy much better than their fiction (though I did love Patchett’s Commonwealth). I haven’t read and don’t think I’d enjoy some of Lamont’s most recent non-fiction, but her book about her son’s birth and first year is beautiful. And I don’t know if I would have liked Commonwealth so much if I hadn’t read Patchett’s essays about her father, as Fix, the father in Commonwealth, was my favorite character.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I love a lot of Anne Lamott, but her most recent addition to the Rosie books felt a little “well, time to make her a troubled druggie teen” and less organically part of the story.

            I did read in her latest nonfiction that her own son had been struggling similarly, so maybe that’s what inspired it, but still.

        3. Banana Pyjamas*

          Kristen Hannah in general, and The Women specifically are extremely divisive in the historical fiction group I’m in on Facebook. I think I’ll probably pass. The most her fans can seem to say is no need to be negative or keep scrolling if you don’t like her/the book. Though seen several people say they prefer her older work, so I’m thinking of trying that.

      3. Anonymous cat*

        Ballad felt especially grim to me. The whole series was grim of course, but Ballad just seemed to take it to extremes.

        It was interesting to see more back story to this world but it was a slog to finish.

    12. Sassafras*

      I didn’t think I’d enjoy Bad Blood (based on the cover!) but I couldn’t put it down once I started! A real page turner.

      I thought I would love The Overstory, and I enjoyed the introduction of all the characters, but once they actually got to the trees I suddenly lost interest.

      I thought Rivers of London had a nifty premise but I didn’t like the writing, the “rivers” hardly featured, and the main character spent so much time ogling his crush…

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Totally with you on The Overstory – it felt like the definition of “overwritten” to me, and it could have done with fewer characters too. It doesn’t help that I read a translation that didn’t seem to be the best quality.

      2. lemontart*

        I read bad blood when it was recommended here. I read it commuting on the train, and it was fascinating. I was then disappointed by the WeWork story, also recommended here and written by a journalist. The writing and the arguments were extremely sloppy in that book (often arguing one thing in one paragraph, and coming to the opposite conclusion in the next)

      3. KTNZ*

        I powered through the first couple Rivers of London books because I was desperate for a long audiobook series and I did genuinely like the narrator. I found that they do improve significantly around the fourth book – the misogony of the first couple books largely vanishes, and Peter gets much less obnoxious.

    13. ThatGirl*

      I got about halfway thru Did You Hear About Kitty Karr and… it just didn’t keep me that interested. It was too long and I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. I confirmed the ending was what I thought it would be and returned it to the library.

    14. HannahS*

      I read Red China Blues on a whim and loved it. I don’t know how well-known Jan Wong is in the US (probably not at all?) but she’s a respected Canadian journalist. It’s a memoir of her being totally sucked into communism as a young adult, and being one of the first Westerners to go to university in China, and then becoming disillusioned…it’s fascinating, and she doesn’t spare her younger self.

      1. AGD*

        I lost the copy of this that I bought years ago, before I was able to read it! Need to order another one. Really liked the book of her collected Lunch With columns – she’s incredibly incisive, and when she gets skeptical/sarcastic, 99% of the time it’s because it’s wholly deserved. I’ve lived in Canada and the U.S. and agree that Wong deserves to be better known south of the border. I’m now remembering that at some point I actually wrote her a fan letter, and she wrote a very nice response.

    15. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I stopped reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner halfway through. I hadn’t heard of it before someone lent me a copy, so I didn’t know about the historical letters it referenced until I got annoyed with the narrative style and did a quick internet search. I usually enjoy historical fiction.

    16. AGD*

      Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Someone bought me a copy of the ginormous paperback from the mid-2000s and I had no idea how I was going to get through it. The first 200 pages are pretty slow. But putting in the effort on my third try really paid off – every bit of what goes into the setup ends up being worth it, all the threads come together with masterful plotting, and the payoff is absolutely exquisite. Just jaw-dropping. One of my favorite books to this day.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        That is simply an amazing book. I have never read anything else like it. Highly recommend it.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as well – including those footnotes (!). Indeed, I was reluctant to try Piranesi because I figured it couldn’t possibly be as good as Strange, but when I finally did dip in, I adored it. Very different, yes, but lovely and sad and masterfully written – and I couldn’t help but wonder if the worlds of Faerie might not connect with the House *somewhere*…

          1. Chuffing along like Mr. Pancks (new name for Reasons)*

            I’m excited but terrified! What if it’s not Excellent?

          2. carcinization*

            I kinda feel like there’s already a Piranesi movie, Studio Ghibli’s “The Boy and the Heron.”

    17. Square Root of Minus One*

      Surprise like: I’ll join the Twilight people, but on Midnight Sun, the same story from Edward POV. I couldn’t get past the not-the-greatest writing of Twilight. In contrast, I found Midnight Sun was so much more mature, you see the thoughts flying in Edward’s head, all his reflexions between every line of dialogue (while in comparison, in Bella’s narration, the dialogue goes with barely any thought and Bella just seems “duuuh”). Taught me a writer sometimes needs a few books to grow.

      Surprise dislike: TJ Klune’s Under The Whispering Door. I adored The House In The Cerulean Sea, so I dove into it and it’s been at 37% on my Kindle for over a year. The main character is so unlikable to me, I’m just “ok he’s dead, good riddance if you ask me, moving on”.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Loved House on the Cerulean Sea, and it was at just about a third through Under the Whispering Door that I got exasperated that we hadn’t even gotten through the plot from the book jacket, and flipped to the end. (I don’t even remember what the end was now.)

        I love tea and pastry, should’ve been right up my alley.

      2. Annie Edison*

        Yes, I had to give up Under the Whispering Door too- I just could not get into it, and didn’t really care about what was happening to anyone. I felt so bad giving up because I’d loved Cerulean Sea so much

    18. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Surprise like: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait. The plot did sound right up my street, but I really struggled with the first few chapters, as the characters were consistently horrible to each other in ways that hit too close to home. I considered dropping it at one point. I’m glad I didn’t – I loved it, the writing style is brilliant and the author has a way of developing empathy towards her very flawed characters that really makes the book in my opinion.

      On the surprise dislike, I could name several thrillers and crime novels that sounded great but ended up a major letdown. Most notable one: Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver. Very intriguing premise, rave reviews, couldn’t wait to get my hands on it…and I found it absolutely insufferable (the tone of voice is obnoxious and over-the-top nihilistic, and the story requires way too big a suspension of disbelief).

      1. Mrs. Frisby*

        I relate to not liking many thrillers! In my book club once, one of my fellow members said it could be hard to pick books because one person doesn’t like a certain genre, and I don’t like thrillers. I was offended! I like thrillers!

        At the time I happened to be reading a thriller and kept complaining about it and then I looked at my Goodreads thriller shelf and realized my friend was right. I actually rarely enjoy a thriller–usually the big twist is either too easy to see coming or very dumb. I’m always excited about the premise but not about the execution (although there are some exceptions to that and some thrillers I have thought were truly great).

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Yes! I can count on one hand the authors I would always trust with meeting my expectations on execution (and one was Stieg Larsson, RIP). I guess I’m a bit picky with thrillers! But I do love reading lots of them: even the disappointments help me learn what I believe makes a good story and what I’m willing to suspend disbelief for. It’s rare that I want to throw a book at the wall while swearing out loud like with the one I mentioned here.

    19. RussianInTexas*

      Book I hated but finished:
      Gregory McGuire’s Wicked. Hated the story, especially hated the language.
      Book that I hated and did not finish: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I don’t know what about the writing style it was, I just Could Not. I read all and everything about the Tudors and this should have been right up my alley.
      Can’t think of a book I expected to not like and did, I tend to be picky and don’t really start books I don’t expect to like.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who read Wicked and liked the book. Most of them liked the story, which is how I assume it hit Broadway etc, but not a single person has liked it as a book.

        1. Pieforbreakfast*

          I adored Wicked, and recommended it to others who also liked it. The sequels not so much, they feel like add-ons after the musical went big.

      2. WorkingForMyCat*

        I read Wicked many years ago, and still have a grudge against what the author did with his characters and world design and his poorly done job of “what is wicked”.

    20. WorkingForMyCat*

      Thought I would like but didn’t: The Rise of Kyoshi and The Shadow of Kyoshi, by F.C. Yee. I love Avatar the Last Airbender, and this came highly recommended by friends, and while I think I see what Yee was trying to write (fallible hero, destiny doesn’t always deliver, the world is not just, etc), but what came across was unredeemed and brutal violence across several generations.

      Thought I was going to quit after 5 pages but was a total fan after 100: The Phoenix Guard, by Steven Brust. Once I realized that I needed to read the dialogue like the most delightfully over-the-top Shakespeare moments, the characters snapped into focus, and I ended up loving them all, even the villains.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really liked FC Yee’s The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, which seems to hit all the themes you mentioned without the unredeemed brutal violence.

        I loved Avatar the Last Airbender, but could never work up any interest in the add on stories. (On rewatch, I was really struck by how on a technical level I think Legend of Korra does a lot of things brilliantly–I loved that the world moved forward–but for heart it’s Airbender.)

        1. Clisby*

          Same here. I think my son and daughter liked Korra, but it just seemed unnecessary to me.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Yeah, I agree. And also that the same-sex romance really came out of nowhere at the very last minute.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I thought every teen romance they attempted was cringe-y; that one seemed to rest on “If someone compliments your hair, it is true love forever.”

              Which was weird in a series that got long standing marriages so right.

    21. GoryDetails*

      These are relatively mild surprises, but as both are very new books, perhaps they’ll interest people:

      Mild disappointment:

      The Honey Witch by Sydney J. Shields is a fantasy/romance in a low-tech world where romantic diversity is welcome – but tattooes on women are a criminal offense; a bit odd, but there we are. Anyway, the protagonist is a young woman from a well-off family, who is being pressed to choose a spouse but really, really doesn’t want to settle down. Turns out she’s her grandmother’s choice as the next Honey Witch, and must return to a magical island and teach the bees which flowers to gather from, using the different types of honey to cast spells, cure ailments, and more. And she must also protect everything from the deadly and vengeful Ash Witch, a counterpart who has lost focus and wants only to drain the Honey Witch powers to gain immortality.

      The story’s good, the setting and characters interesting, and yet for me it felt rather flat – some fascinating secondary characters and their relationships got quick mentions and short shrift, the main characters’ tormented relationship was effective but leaned too much on the “one and only one soulmate” concept… Overall I’d recommend the book, but it could have been better.

      Mild pleasant-surprise:

      The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves The World Again by A. C. Wise, in which a group of drag queens become a kind of superhero squad, battling everything from Lovecraftian monstrosities to werebeasts to giant beetles. I’d expected it to be campy, silly fun, and it is, but it has more depth to it – the characters get backstories showing their various personal traumas, they tend to find sympathy for some of the more tormented foes (a mad scientist, a lost sacrificial ghost-girl), and their friendships (and some tentative romances) have their ups and downs as well. I’d expected to enjoy it as a quick beach-read and found it even better than that. [Also, there are cocktail recipes themed for each character!]

    22. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Expected to hate and loved, literary version: Middlemarch, which I avoided all through school and finally read for book club a few years ago. I did not expect it to be funny.

      Expected to hate and enjoyed, non-literary version: The Da Vinci Code. It’s crap, but it’s compelling crap.

      Expected to at least like and didn’t: The Midnight Library. I finished it (again for book club) and it was somewhere between a shrug and a yawn.

      Expected to like and couldn’t ever even read: anything by Tolkien.

      E

      1. SBT*

        The Midnight Library had such an incredible concept and the first 50% of the book, I was so hooked. I was thinking this would be my Book of the Year! And then it just…petered out. I got to the end and was so disappointed and honestly shocked the book had managed to ruin itself throughout my reading.

    23. OtterB*

      Surprise likes:

      A Gentleman in Moscow. I don’t read much non-genre fiction and can’t remember why I read this one but I found it really engaging and enjoyable.

      Twilight. I read it when the first book came out because my daughter and her middle school friends were deeply into it and I wanted to see what the deal was. Didn’t love it but didn’t hate it.

      Surprise dislikes: too many to list. My reading tastes seem to be changing and I keep finding that books I expect to love just don’t work for me. It’s very frustrating.

    24. Nervous Nellie*

      I am really enjoying Questlove’s new book, Hip Hop is History. Like his other books, Creative Quest (which I LOVED, and which I bet he would be delighted to know Barnes & Noble shelves in the self help section), and Music is History, this one is a rambly name-dropping ride. I am reading it with You Tube open so I can play pieces he refers to. Lots of memory lane stuff, and some very excellent grooves.

      I was less impressed this week with The He-Man Effect: How American Toymakers Sold You Your Childhood by Brian ‘Box’ Brown. It’s a graphic nonfiction work about the marketing bombardment of kids that began in earnest in the 80s. I felt he made his point by about page 40, but the drawings were great (and I still want an Easy Bake Oven).

      1. word nerd*

        Re: He-man Effect–I thought his drawings of people were oddly not that great. Like I wouldn’t have recognized the presidents if he hadn’t indicated who they were supposed to be, and even Mickey Mouse looked odd.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Sure – I think there are probably fierce copyright laws about recreating Mickey’s likeness too accurately. The Disney lawyers are always watching & ready to pounce. And yeah, the presidents were a bit of a blur. But I still want an Easy Bake Oven, hahaha.

          1. word nerd*

            True, Mickey Mouse did not go out of copyright until the beginning of 2024 and the book was published in July 2023, but it’s surprising they didn’t just wait for the copyright to expire at that point. I think I did have an Easy Bake Oven but my cookies never turned out as good as I thought they would. :)

    25. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I was a huge fan of Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s The Copper Crown and The Throne of Scone, and while I didn’t enjoy The Silver Branch as much I still liked it, so I figured that I’d like her Arthur trilogy as well.

      Nope. It had all the faults of the first triology without the character relationships and the coolness factor that made the first one work. In fact, after reading it I found it harder to ignore the faults in the original.

    26. Didn’t Like Song of Achilles*

      Everyone said Madeleine Miller’s Song of Achilles was amazing, but I hated it and didn’t finish reading it. A bland main character who’s neither smart nor interesting, and yet Achilles falls in love with him for…. reasons?? I guess the plot required it (such as the plot was). I still don’t know why people like this book. I get the appeal: reimagining classical myths, the queer angle, etc. But the actual execution was so bad that it genuinely shocked me how much acclaim the book got.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I did like when Achilles asks the narrator why he didn’t just lie about something, and it hits him like a ton of bricks that OMG, I could have just–done that! And how his father was disgusted with him not for what he’d done but confessing to it.

    27. Mrs. Frisby*

      I really love this question!

      Books I didn’t expect to love:
      -Demon Copperhead (and I see someone had the opposite reaction). I would have never read it if my book club hadn’t chosen it (books about addiction and drug use are high on my do not read list), but thought it had some of the strongest use of voice in fiction I can remember and I was utterly compelled by it.
      -The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers. Wouldn’t have read this if it didn’t win the Newbery. I’m not a huge fan of Eggers’ adult stuff. But I LOVED IT, and Ethan Hawke’s amazing audiobook narration made it perfection.

      Books I’m surprised I didn’t like:
      -The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Loved, loved, LOVED Middlesex (although have often wondered how that would hold up to a read now) and absolutely HATED this one.
      -Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. Highly recommended by many people, in the same vein as lots of books I like, but I just didn’t enjoy it and didn’t understand why so many people loved it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I couldn’t get into Bernadette, either. Maybe because I kept having “rich people problems” reactions to it. I know money doesn’t PREVENT problems but when you are worried about sending your teenager to ANTARCTICA on a cruise for good grades? Yeah, sympathy lessening.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I tried out the movie Where’d You Go Bernadette. The first half I was impressed that they could engender sympathy for the main character, who Has It All–money, talent, a supportive spouse, a loving family–and yet she has brain weasels that say “Down into the rut! Trot around your little paranoid/depressed circle! No matter how tiny it gets, you can cram yourself in there!”

        And then just as I was like “Yes, this person needs to be an in-patient at a psychiatric facility, and her family is ready to do that, good.” She… ran away? Specifically, stealing her daughter’s graduation present trip, and making what was supposed to be a good experience for the daughter all about her mom instead? She threw her phone off a bridge so the cops would think suicide but she was pretty sure her husband and 13 year old daughter would know that was fake? WHAT.

        Also–and I type this as a science nerd–that design for the Antarctic Research Base sucked. But more importantly, you don’t fix mental health problems that deep by taking a vacation.

    28. Irish Teacher.*

      Surprise dislike: Wide Sargasso Sea.” One of my lecturers at college raved about it and I had always found Mr. Rochester kinda problematic, marrying Jane without letting her know it was a bigamous marriage but…half the time I wasn’t even sure which character’s point of view the writer was writing from and it was just really confusing.

      Book I didn’t expect to like but did: Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I thought it would be cliched horror, but it’s actually more like a mystery story and not at all Hammer Horrorish. It’s actually kind of sad and makes a pretty deep point

    29. chocolate muffins*

      Had to read A Tale of Two Cities in high school. I had formed an impression of Charles Dickens as boring and hard to read, but I ended up enjoying this book much more than I expected. You can tell it made an impression because high school was several decades ago now and I still remember both the book and my surprise at liking it!

    30. Not Alison*

      I have enjoyed Ann Patchett’s books so I thought I’d enjoy Tom Lake because it was set in Michigan. Absolutely could not get into it.
      If you want a better book set in Michigan try “The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man”. It sounded hokey and I didn’t really want to read it, but read it for book club and loved it quirkiness. Then read the follow-up book, which I also enjoyed.

    31. Elizabeth West*

      Books you thought you wouldn’t like but actually loved?
      I wasn’t sure about Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, but it blew me away.

      Books you thought you’d love but ended up not liking?
      I really thought I’d like The Cider House Rules because I loved The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany (which is one of my most favorite books ever), but I just could not get into it. Maybe I’ll try again another time.

    32. Banana Pyjamas*

      A book I expected to like and didn’t:

      I love Jane Austen, and Northanger Abbey used to be a particular favorite. The last time I read it, I experienced so much second hand embarrassment that I decided I wouldn’t read it again. Now that I’m writing this though, I’m getting kind of curious why I felt that way.

      A book I didn’t expect to like but did:

      The Seven Day Switch is a Freaky Friday situation. It looks at being a SAHM and being a working mom through a feminist lens. I didn’t love it, but something in it felt very important on a personal level. I am strongly considering rereading it even though I’ve only just finished it.

    33. WoodswomanWrites*

      A disappointment was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I know he won a Nobel Prize for Literature. I tried, I really did, and I couldn’t finish it.

      A friend had a copy of Lost Horizon at their house. I typically don’t enjoy fantasy but picked it up for something to read. It was written in 1933. Author James Hilton wrote it in 1933 and it included an anti-domination message at the time Hitler was gaining power, with the fictional community of Shangri-La widely used in our vocabulary today. It’s been many years, and I still remember what a good read it was.

    34. not my usual self*

      Couldn’t get into Banks’ Consider Phlebas even though it should be right up my alley. Not sure if there’s a book I though I wouldn’t like but did like, because why would I read it then? Will give this more thought though.

    35. Quinalla*

      The Wheel of Time books – I usually love fantasy epics (LOTR, etc.) but I’ve tried to start this series multiple times and it is just so bleh. My brothers love it, but have also said that there are many chapters and even one entire book that just suck a lot, but if you can get passed that it is worth it.

      I don’t know anything I was surprised that I liked, maybe how much I liked it? I will say EVERY book I’ve read by N K Jemisin (Fantasy/Sci-Fi is how I would categorize her work) has been amazing. The Broken Earth trilogy is what I read first, damn was it SO good. And The City We Became was so enjoyable and weird and yeah – really recommend the audio book for that last one if you like audio books, was very well done!

    1. Clisby*

      We visited our daughter in Florida, and tomorrow our son gets back from his semester study abroad in South Korea! Family molecular balance will be restored.

      I got the results of my liver biopsy, and it was benign.

      Weird coincidence. While visiting my daughter in Gainesville, Florida, we visited a small museum called the Theatre of Memory Museum. While talking to the owner/curator, we mentioned that on our recent trip to Ohio we had bought something at an antique store purely because it appealed to me, but we weren’t sure what it was. It was labeled as a “candle lantern”, but every other candle lantern I’d ever seen was surrounded by little glass panels. This was metal, with a little door where you could insert a candle, and on the front was what looked like a camera lens. He said, “Oh, I know what that is” and took us into a room with maritime exhibits – sure enough, there was one very similar to ours – it was a signal light for a boat. His had a little lever at the bottom where you could mask or expose the light, like if you were sending Morse code. Mine doesn’t, but we think it’s possible something like that is just missing – but otherwise, it looks just like the one in his museum.

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

          And props to you for getting through the liver biopsy, as they are not the easiest medical procedure to undergo!

          1. Clisby*

            Definitely not as easy as my thyroid biopsy – but to be fair, the thyroid is right under the skin next to your throat and just required a local anesthetic.

            However, the liver biopsy wasn’t bad, since I got the good IV anesthetic. The really tedious part was having to stay for 2 hours after the biopsy so they could monitor me for internal bleeding. I asked how they would know, since it’s internal, and they said: “Oh, your blood pressure would start dropping.” All righty. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

            I did consider forgoing the biopsy and having yearly MRIs to see if there was any change in the lesion on my liver, but since I’m an inveterate worrier, I decided I didn’t want to spend every day for a year worrying about it. I just wanted to find out. The MRI results said it most likely was benign, and the biopsy confirmed it, so I’m happy about the whole thing.

      1. Katie*

        My dad once bought me this turtle that rang when you dressed it’s head or tail. I looked into it and it’s actually a bell that they used in Spain in hotels 100 years ago. I love the thing and ring it when exciting things happen. So ringing it for benign biopsy!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I long for this bell, but Husband would probably snatch it from my hands in exasperation in short order.

    2. Six Feldspar*

      Went to the hot springs on the winter solstice! I think I’m going to make this a tradition…

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Visiting a friend who had some hand me downs to give my son, and being able to let my son run rampant in their house for a while, and even have my husband be the one who chased after him when chasing was needed, while I relaxed and talk to my friend. It was incredibly freeing.

      1. Terri E. Rathburn*

        My sister is taking me on a little road trip this weekend to celebrate finishing my Master’s degree! At my age, it was more of a personal goal than a big career move but very worthwhile all the same.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Oh, in Ireland, the temperatures are actually going up. Well, not yesterday or today, when they’ve been around 15 degrees Celsius (high 50s Fahrenheit), but they were around 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) on Thursday and they are predicting highs of 24 (75 Fahrenheit) for tomorrow and much of the coming week in the low 20s Celsius.

        So far, June has been like March. It’s about time we got some summer weather.

    4. Texan in exile on her phone*

      I just saw Jeffrey Osborne sing not only Back In Love but also September and the audience was singing and dancing and I thought what a wonderful gift it is to be able to make people so happy.

      (We’re now waiting for En Vogue to start and I expect them to be as good.)

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I hope something comes up: I have had the worst week EVER. Will post about it below…

    6. Bookworm in Stitches*

      Went to a quilt show with a friend I haven’t seen since September. It was a great show held at a college center and we both had a great time!

    7. Chaordic One*

      When leaving my dentist’s office the most beautiful big yellow butterfly flew in front of me as I was walking out the door.

    8. Rara Avis*

      Hobby conference. I wasn’t able to do the hobby all spring for medical reasons, so it’s fun to be able to participate again.

    9. allathian*

      I’m officially on vacation until July 25! Reading AAM has made me realize how privileged I am to actually get more than a few days off at a time. It’s a privilege I took completely for granted until I came here.

      Yesterday we celebrated Midsummer with my parents and in-laws.

      1. allathian*

        It’s a big joy because my dad was able to attend. He’s missed so many holiday celebrations in recent years because of his failing health (he’s 79).

    10. BellaStella*

      Getting out of town 2 days to a place with muggy warm weather and loads of jasmine in the town so it smelled amazing! Also getting loads of Sahara dust in our rains is nice for the plants and forests. And seeing friends for meals. And my seeds are sprouting in my balcony garden so I may have flowers. Maybe.

    11. Atheist Nun*

      Every year I forget that June 21 is Make Music Day. This year I was extra surprised as the plaza across the street from my apartment building was one of the event spaces. I worked from home yesterday, so I enjoyed hearing the live music out of my window. Honestly, the band did not sound great, but I support the principle of live music outdoors for all to enjoy (one of the appeals of NOLA, besides the food and sidecars of course). They were playing an odd mix of covers, including “Supersonic,” “Heart Shaped Box,” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” As usual I took the opportunity to rework the lyrics and sing them to my indifferent cat, for example, “These are the best days of my life” (because the cat is part of them) when the band played “Summer of ’69.” Later in the evening I wandered out to the plaza and listened to the next band, a jazz combo. The weather had turned balmy so it was a pleasure to be outside.

    12. DJ Abbott*

      I haven’t dated in several years, partly because I wasn’t meeting men who would make good partners, and partly because of pandemic changes.
      This week I met two men who seem like I might like to spend time with. One was a client, so of course I didn’t do anything. I gave the other one my phone number. :)
      I’m so happy I’ve reached a place where I can notice this.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        That’s wonderful. It can take so long to get to that place even when we want to.

    13. PhyllisB*

      My sister had her surgery and is doing great now.
      She has had a miserable year, and doctors couldn’t find what was wrong. They proposed everything from fatty liver disease to pancreatic cancer.
      Luckily it was none of these things, it was gallstones. Which was strange because she had her gallbladder removed 40 years ago. Anyway, all is good now and she feels like a new person.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Glad she is well now and that it turned out to be something comparatively minor/treatable.

    14. GoryDetails*

      I’m enjoying the blooms on my fragrant sweetpea plants – have tried growing them for several seasons but never got them to bloom before.

      I survived the high-90-degree heat wave.

      Got to attend a Pride parade in a neighboring city last weekend, and will be at the one in my city this afternoon!

    15. fposte*

      Had a nice kayak despite the heat wave! I need to remember that it’s often more manageable than it seems from the cool and shadowy indoors.

    16. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I feel I just had the perfect summer afternoon.

      My partner and I cycled to a nearby neighbourhood that was having an outdoor market event. We stopped for lunch at a pub on my list of places to try, and ate excellent Middle Eastern-inspired food in a lovely quiet garden.

      Going back, we stopped at a bakery we love to get pastries for tomorrow morning, and they offered a free extra item because they were about to close. I just ate half a delicious almond and jam pastry while basking in the sun in the garden, and it was glorious. This is what I’d want all summer to be like.

    17. Onomatopoetic*

      I live on the sixtieth parallel, which doesn’t mean midnight sun exactly, but it does mean that night in the summer is more of a long twilight when the slow sunset more or less blends in to the sunrise. My partner and I celebrated the Summer Solistice by climbing a hill at midnight and just looking at the horizon, where you can see the light where the sun dips just below for a few hours. We also saw some fireflies glowing green. It was marvellous.

    18. Irish Teacher.*

      Got the results of a biopsy yesterday and it was completely benign. To be fair, it was pretty much a formality. The consultant literally asked the junior doctor in front of me, “have you sent the referral in already? Well, I suppose we’ll have to go ahead with it then, but…I don’t think there is much need.” But there’s always that chance of their finding something unexpected.

      Plus, they called me 20-25 minutes early. I was actually in the bathroom when they did, because I thought “well, there’s no way they’ll want me for at least 20 minutes to half an hour, so I’ll use the bathroom while I have the chance.” But it meant I wasn’t sitting in the waiting room thinking, “oh gosh, what are they going to say?”

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Oh, another one. I remembered that when I was in college, I interviewed my dad (who is now deceased) on his time working in the creamery. I went looking for the interview and I found the 20 handwritten pages of the transcript. It’s pretty awesome stuff (stuff about pay and conditions and how things changed after they got a union and how people got jobs because their dad worked there and so on).

        I’ve also messaged my college, who have the typed up version in their archive to ask if they can send me a copy, rather than 20 pages of handwriting.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      The heat wave broke! \0/

      And today, I found some work pants that fit and are NOT black or grey. Although they probably will be after I wear them on the subway, lol.

    20. Busy Middle Manager*

      My 401K for my current job FINALLY hit “I’d be content driving into the sunset from this job with $x high amount” level on Friday morning. I’ve been saving saving saving and waiting and refreshing for the last deposit to happen. Still a long way to go but I don’t need to be fully prepped for retirement yet anyways

    21. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      The vintage tea set I ordered off of Etsy arrived and I love it so much! It’s the Blue Iris pattern from Otagiri.

    22. Dicey Tillerman*

      I’ve wanted popsicle molds for years and finally bought some last week, just in time for it to hit 90 degrees for three days. So I made popsicles and they were delicious and COLD!!

      1. Clisby*

        I remember those from my childhood! I guess when parents have 6 kids and are living in the US South they’re not interested in buying name-brand popsicles at the store.

    23. Banana Pyjamas*

      Discovered that the sectional I thrifted for $30 (30!) is from Walter E. Smithe, so it’s an even more bangin’ deal than I initially thought. It’s just so lovely to have sofa/s that are in nice condition again. Bonus points that it was so cheap I don’t feel guilty for spending.

    24. carcinization*

      Going by social media, I usually get tiki drinks this time of year, so went out for a nice Mai Tai while my husband and I were on a mini-vacation to the nearest big city. Also had a lovely swim in the hotel pool, went to a free jazz show (it cost money, I’m talking about the musical genre) and stopped by a drag show that was the other kind of free on the way back to the hotel. Had breakfast at our favorite coffee shop in the city the next morning, and then went back home to be reunited with our kitties.

  3. Manders*

    I’m going to Copenhagen for a conference in a couple of weeks – yay! I don’t have much time to sightsee unfortunately, but we land around 11 AM, we are staying near Tivoli, and we are looking to do something that first day. Ideally I’d like to do something somewhat active like a bike tour, but the ones I’ve been looking at seem to only have the English-speaking tours in the morning and Dutch ones in the afternoon. Any other suggestions for a can’t-miss Copenhagen experience? We will have most evenings free but not days other than the first day. Thanks!

    1. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I apologize for being a pedant, but I think you mean Danish-speaking tours, not Dutch. :)

      (People mix up Danish/Dutch, Denmark/The Netherlands, so frequently, if you ever want a fun scene just ask a Dane to say something to you in Dutch, or mention the Danes in the Netherlands…anyway, I hope you get some great recommendations! I haven’t been to Denmark since I was a little kid, so I mainly remember Tivoli and eating lots of pastries, which I definitely recommend.)

    2. Soft clothes for life*

      If you have time to head across the bridge to Malmö (it’s a quick train ride), try the Disgusting Food Museum. It’s really interesting and you can try things if you want. Malmö also has really good falafel.

      1. Manders*

        I attended a conference in Malmo years and years ago, and I was hoping to make it back! That museum sounds interesting!!!!

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      I got to go a few years ago and was there for several days. I don’t know if it counts as a can’t miss but it was pretty cool to go see the Little Mermaid statue in the harbor. Just walking around was great. I also got to do a lot of biking and the infrastructure is fantastic. I was with a study group led by someone who is familiar with the bike culture and they said don’t stop and gawk and look around like a tourist. The people riding are very goal-oriented as you’d expect from transportation-oriented cycling. It’s an impressive sight just to be at the rail station and see all the bikes parked there even if you don’t go for a ride. There’s a Changing of the Guard thing at the Amalienborg Palace if you can time it right (noon every day) if that’s the kind of thing you’d find interesting.

    4. GingerSheep*

      I go to a yearly academic conference in Copenhagen so I’ve been in your situation four or five times! First off, coming from France, I always end up forgetting how windy it often is in Copenhagen and to plan my clothes accordingly- definitely take a light windbreaker or jacket even in the summer.
      For tourism, some of my favourite things to see in Copenhagen are
      – the Glyptotek, a sculpture museum. Great permanent collections spanning from prehistoric times to the modern period, interesting temporary exhibitions, and the prettiest museum cafe in an indoor conservatory.
      – the National Museum. Archaeological and historical museum, collections are fantastic and very educational, incredible kid’s museum. I found a couple of things to buy at the gift shop.
      – the blue planet aquarium. Near the airport, easily accessible by metro. I went this year and enjoyed it VERY much, but it was only the second time in my life I’d visited an aquarium so I don’t know how it compares to other aquariums elsewhere.
      Tivoli gardens are very pretty and I enjoyed taking a stroll through them, but I found it very expensive and probably not worth the price ; I also once took a sightseeing boat tour around the city which included the little mermaid ; it was fine and nice for my very tired legs but nothing unforgettable.
      If the weather is nice you can just walk around the city (you’ll find different itineraries in guide books or online) or take a walk on the beach!

      1. Manders*

        I’m excited about the conference, but honestly I hate the heat and am most excited about the weather there – I might not come back home to the heat dome!

        These are great suggestions, thank you!

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        The Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Museum in Newport, Oregon is pretty amazing, and quite cheap. There’s a pool where kids (of all ages) can put their hands in and feel various sea creatures.

    5. GingerSheep*

      I left you a long message that probably got caught in moderation (no idea why); if it doesn’t show up later today I’ll type it out again – I attend a yearly academic conference in Copenhagen so have visited a few things over the years!

    6. Anne*

      Tivoli has free concerts every Friday evening/night in summer. (Well free apart from the entrance fee to get into Tivoli). Next week Take That performs!

      1. Manders*

        Nice! We had our conference dinner at Tivoli when I was there around maybe 2009. I might have to check out who is performing when we are there!

    7. Kathenus*

      I am a huge lover of recycled material artist Thomas Dambo, who is Danish, and who makes these amazing troll statues that are now in many countries. I’ll add a link in an additional comment, but since that’ll go to moderation you can google Thomas Dambo trolls Copenhagen as well to get more information. I didn’t yet know about these when I was in Denmark many years back and still regret that I didn’t get to see them. I have seen a bunch in the US though, and they are fantastic.

      1. Manders*

        We actually have 3 of those statues at a park in the city I live in – they are AMAZING!!!!

  4. Tradd*

    I’m done with the first four books of Sarah Maas’ A Crown of Thorns and Roses series. Silver Flames is the one left. Will start on that this weekend.

    Then back to Fourth Wing and Iron Flame. I massively love that books. 4-5 reads so far.

    1. PurlsOfWisdom*

      I’ve been meaning to start that series!! Curses to 2 young kiddos who keep me too busy to read as often as I’d like!

      1. Emma*

        If you’re able to get an e reader like a Kobo, that’s made a huge difference in my ability to read, with 2 young kids. Checking out books from my library without having to go in person has been a game changer. I typically read a few pages at night, way more than I did before getting this, and it puts me right to sleep.

        1. Tradd*

          You don’t need an ebook reader if you have a smartphone or tablet. I have a Kindle, but mostly read on iPhone or iPad.

  5. Anon Poster*

    Film scores! I saw Challengers a couple of weeks ago, and it was the first time in a looooong time that a score jumped out at me and enhanced the movie in a way that I felt compelled to find it on Spotify later. I used to love film scores, they were one of my favorite parts of being a movie fan. I’d buy them on CD, I’d have opinions on what score won the Oscar, etc. But sometime in the 2010s the interest just kind of faded. I don’t know if the way movies were scored changed, or if I just lost interest, or what.

    All of that to say, does anyone have any film scores they love from about 2010 on? I’d love to hear about people’s favorite scores in general, but I’d also love recommendations for scores I’ve overlooked from the past 15 years or so.

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

      Can’t help on 2010-on, but soundtrack from *Shaft* is brilliant and one of my favorites.

    2. ronda*

      I haven’t ever listened to it not with the movie, but I really loved the sound in Arrival. I saw it in the movie theater and it was fabulous with those sound systems.
      I think that movie had all the feels. and I think the sound was a big part of it.

      And I just looked up to see if there was a soundtrack and wikipedia tells me there was an award winning one.

    3. Kingfisher*

      I have a few sountrack recommendations. If you liked Challengers, Trent Reznor’s other soundtrack work is also great (they’re in a similar electronic vein). For more traditional music, I like Alexandre Desplat (he did the later Harry Potter movies and The Danish Girl, for instance). Very lush. Dario Marianelli’s soundtrack for Atonement is also gorgeous. There are loads more I can think of, but it would be helpful to know what sort of music you prefer.

      Would be curious to hear what you thought of Challengers as well. Josh O’Connor’s other film out right now, La Chimera, is extraordinary – you couldn’t imagine two more disimilar roles and he disappears into both. He’s incredible.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      Not sure if there is a difference between a film score and a soundtrack. But if you’re open to soundtracks and willing to shave off a few years, the music from Slumdog Millionaire (2008) is amazing.

      1. Ergo*

        A soundtrack is a curated playlist of (often but not always) pre-existing music, a score is instrumental music written for the film.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      The film score from the Ethan Hawke/Gwyneth Paltrow version of Great Expectations. Just love it as a whole thing.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      The original Rollerball with James Caan – excellent use of classical music to aid the storytelling in a futuristic film.

    7. Warrior Princess Xena*

      This one’s a video game, not a film score, but the OST to Baldur’s Gate 3 is well worth a listen!
      I enjoyed the recent Dune score very much but that one is better in the context of the film, IMO. Outside of the film it loses a lot of its oomph.

      1. Anon Poster*

        I do a lot of video game music with my students on quiet work days, but I usually just randomly click on a YouTube suggestion. I’ll definitely give Baldur’s Gate 3 a listen!

    8. Makare*

      The soundtrack/score to Suzume is gorgeous—when we saw the trailer in the theater, the music was what made us want to go see it (that and the animation of the harbor as she rides her bike down the hill—my god does that movie make water look beautiful).

    9. Helvetica*

      Pre-2010 but in case you haven’t heard it, I love the score for “Pride and Prejudice” (2005), which is very beautiful and catches my attention any time. “Liz on top of the world” is a stand-out for me. Philip Glass scored “The Hours” (2002) which won many awards, so presumably you’ve listened to it but if not, I find that also hauntingly beautiful.
      And not a film but a TV show – “Shadow and Bone” score is gorgeous even without the show and it really enhanced my viewing experience a lot.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Agree on Pride and Prejudice. I also love the score from Memoirs of a Geisha, which is from 2005 as well and scored by John Williams. Different characters are represented by different instruments. The main character is represented by the cello, which is played by Yo-Yo Ma

      1. Spacewoman Spiff*

        Was thinking the same thing. I’m rereading LOTR and the score keeps popping into my head. Maybe I should just fully give in and play it while I read.

    10. CTT*

      A few of my 2010-forward favorites:
      – Arrival, Jóhann Jóhanssonn
      – Emma., Isobel Waller-Bridge
      – Hell or High Water, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
      – Jackie, Mica Levi (honorable mention to Levi’s Zola score, which I find it too choppy but those harp trills are iconic)
      – Kill Your Darlings, Nico Murphy
      – Moonlight, Nicholas Britell (this and Jackie were both nominated for the best score Oscar and lost to effing La La Land, I will never get over this)
      – The Power of the Dog, Johnny Greenwood
      – The Tragedy of MacBeth, Carter Burwell
      – Tenet, Ludwig Göransson (look, the Oppenheimer score is fantastic and deserved all its awards, but this is his best work and it’s criminally underrated)
      – Zero Dark Thirty, Alexandre Desplat (controversial movie, great score)

      1. Anon Poster*

        Moonlight jumped to the top of the list as soon as I saw Nicholas Britell’s name. I watched the entire first season of Succession even though I hated literally every single character, simply because I loved the title theme and and rest of the score so much.

    11. YrLocalLibrarian*

      The Great Beauty, 2013
      Much of the film is scored with various styles of music, I don’t know if the soundtrack makes sense without the film but it’s one of my favorites.

    12. mreasy*

      Under the Skin is one of the best scores in the past few decades, I think. You can’t go wrong with Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross who did Challengers, but the work of Hildur Guodnattir on Joker and Chernobyl was brilliant. I also loved Max Richter’s score for Spaceman, especially the collab with Sparks.

      1. Anon Poster*

        Oh man I forgot about this one! This is one I had on CD, I used to always listen to it at the end of each semester in college because sleep deprivation + this score = big cathartic stress cry.

    13. allx*

      That’s how I felt about Zbigniew Preisner’s score to Polish director Kyzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Blue, where the score by was so integral to the story. Preisner has scored many movies since the Three Colours films (Blue, White, and Red) were released in 1993 and 1994. His music is haunting and wonderful. Blue remains my favorite.

    14. TheBeanMovesOn*

      Swiss army man was one of the few scores I sit down and listen to on the regular.

    15. Good Lord Ratty*

      Not a film score, but the score for the video game Journey (2012) by Austin Wintory is absolutely incredible. It was nominated for a Grammy.

      Also, the score for Rime (2017) is amazing too. That one was scored by David García Díaz.

      Both are lush and deeply moving, strings-focussed with electronic elements, and have one solo vocal song each (“I Was Born For This” for Journey, “El Sueño del Mar” for Rime). If you like one you’ll like the other.

    16. ammagamma*

      Phantom Thread
      Little Women
      Grand Budapest Hotel
      If Beale Street Could Talk
      Parasite

    17. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      James Newton Howard’s score for the Hunger Games movies. I’ve seen the movies so many ties that now I only watch them to experience the score supporting the action.

      Shoutout to allx up there mentioning Zbigniew Preisner!, a colleague of Wojcech Kilar, who wrote the score to Bram Stoker’s Dracula while he was Poland’s national composer. I can’t get enough of that score.

      Last, Hildur Gudnadottir. She came on the scene with the score to the movie Joker, and won an Oscar (FINALLY a woman). She also wrote the score for Kenneth Branagh’s latest Poirot installment, A Haunting In Venice — which is quite something, because Branagh ALWAYS had his movie scores written by Patrick Doyle, who is also quite good.

      Any nostalgia for Bernard Hermann? Lloyd Newman? Henry Mancini?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        KILAR
        Love him. Portrait of a Lady is exquisite. The Dracula score is better than the film, lol. I will listen to any and all Preisner.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      This is ALL I listen to. Film scores, game scores, TV scores. I belong to a chat room on an internet radio station that plays soundtracks 24/7. I’ve been a member of that community for twenty years.

      Faves include:
      Interstellar (Hans Zimmer; I’m a huge Zimmer fan)
      Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman)
      Avengers: Infinity War (Alan Silvestri)
      The Hitman games (Jesper Kyd)
      anything by Ludovico Einaudi, Clint Mansell, or Zbigniew Preisner
      the music from the Hannibal TV series (Brian Reitzell)
      Lord of the Rings (films; Howard Shore–they’re a masterpiece)
      Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson)
      I just listened to the Oppenheimer score (also Göransson), although I’m not interested in the film. It’s pretty great.

    19. TG*

      Challengers was amazing – the score totally helped set the tone and make the movie! Same with Call Me By Your Name in the dance sequence and the piano – beautiful. Same director.

    20. Practicalities*

      There’s some oldies but truly loved favourites in my list:
      Amelie (2001), Good-Bye Lenin! (2003) and Tabarly (2008), all by Yann Tierson—beautiful, layered piano is his main instrument

      I’ll usually end up picking out a few songs from a film score, not often do I find that I like the whole thing. Favourites on my playlist are from:
      We Were The Lucky Ones — Rachel Portman
      The Secret Life of Walter Mitty —Theodore Shapiro
      Chocolat — Rachel Portman
      National Treasure — Trevor Rabin
      The Deepest Breath — Nainita Desai
      Charlotte’s Web — Danny Elfman
      Prison Break — Ramin Djawadi
      Tron — Daft Punk

    21. 248_Ballerinas*

      I don’t have a specific one in mind, but recommend the radio show The Score with Edmund Stone. It airs on various public radio stations. If you’re interested in film music, you will like it.

    22. Euphony*

      Not a film score, but I absolutely love the soundtrack from the series of His Dark Materials (especially the first season). Gives me chills every time!
      I really like the theme music for The Mandalorian, and the 70s songs used for the soundtrack to The Continental.
      I also got really into Hans Zimmer over lockdown and discovered a load of new favourites by searching his pieces on YouTube

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I was just going to post about His Dark Materials (the show). Such a good score!

    23. NB*

      It’s from 2000, but the first movie that leapt to my mind is Chocolat. I walked out of that movie thinking, “I’m going to buy that soundtrack.”

  6. EA*

    What are the top two things you love about where you live and the top two things you dislike or would change? (You can say where you live or keep us guessing :) )

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Dislike: Humidity and bugs. Visiting daughter in Europe underscored that the summer bugs of the eastern US are really excessive.
      Like: Lots of trees. Oceans.

    2. lemontart*

      love: close to beaches & nature; people prioritize active lifestyle.
      don’t love: recent trend to have bike delivery ride on sidewalks; loud music/dance parties in public spaces

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Love:
      I live within spitting distance of like, EVERYTHING. A half dozen grocery stores, two movie theaters, craft stores ranging from small niche to JoAnn’s and Michael’s, sixty thousand and eleven restaurants of varying degrees, a post office, a library, Costco, Sam’s, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards, fire station, police station, a huge hospital complex including both urgent care and ED.
      I have a nice house with lots of room and a nice fenced yard for my dogs, with a very reasonable mortgage in a mostly nice neighborhood.

      Would change:
      I’m in a bluish purple area (Indianapolis) of a painfully aggressively right wing conservative state (yuh huh) and I absolutely despise our political reputation.
      If it had been planned for, our city and the surrounding suburbs, and the international airport, as well as the other larger towns within an hour or so (several college cities – Muncie, Bloomington, Lafayette), would be SO well positioned for an extensive public transit/regional light rail system. As it is, our bus system doesn’t even have park and rides in the suburbs, so there’s absolutely nothing encouraging suburban commuters to take transit into the downtown core because it’s a pain in the butt to get to the bus system. All that stuff I mentioned up above right by my house, and I think the closest bus stop to my house (which is served by a single bus line) is almost a mile away.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I was born in Indiana, I have lived in three regions of the state, went to HS and college there, have lots of friends and family there. Makes me sad to see the wasted potential! Indy is a great city that’s being held back by its state.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        My city has multiple park and rides, and I shudder to think what the traffic would be like without them, because it’s a city with many narrow, cramped old streets.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          When I first moved here (from ten years in Seattle, which had relatively excellent public transportation for the US) I was like “oh cool, I can go to a park and ride and take the bus into … what do you MEAN you don’t have park and rides? What kind of stupid is that?” And as a result, ten years here and I have still never ridden an Indy bus because they’re just not really useful to someone with other options. If there was a park and ride anywhere on my end of the suburban ring, I’d be using it at least monthly, if not more.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        One reason we’ve stayed so long in our current(ly destroyed) apartment is it’s a ten minute walk to everything. Work, grocery store, downtown, you name it. And there’s two bus stops within two blocks!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The top three things I miss most about living in the Seattle area are the transit system, Ivar’s, and Taco Time. :-P

    4. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Love: a decent public transit system (well, a GREAT public transit system by US standards) that allows me to live the car-free life; an incredible parks system (which I’m able to access by bus or train!)

      Dislike: basically unchecked open air drug market; the attitude towards litter (people regularly just drop their trash on the streets, or shove it into a storm drain which as we all know [cries] also functions as a garbage bin)

    5. Alex*

      Love:
      I’m so grateful that the vast majority of people around me are liberal leaning. Not all, but most.
      I love the compactness of where I live. Lots of walkability, and access to all kinds of things.

      Hate:
      The housing prices. I’m saving and saving and saving and the prices are outpacing my saving!
      The traffic. It is abysmal.

      I live in the Boston area.

      1. EA*

        I lived in the Boston area for a while and totally agree! I’d also say there’s really good food and particularly veg options in the greater Boston area :)

      2. Nancy*

        I live in the Boston area as well and housing costs are ridiculously expensive. I like living here but rental prices are so high even my ‘cheaper’ area.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Like: all the bookstores and long summer evenings.
      Dislike: the HCOL and disintegration of downtown into a druggy hellhole.

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

      Small park across the street is pretty and serves as an endless Breughel painting to watch (though sometimes loud at night).

      People around here are friendly and interactive (in the NYC way) — as a middle-aged spinster living alone, I feel connected to my building and my neighborhood in a way that I did not feel when I was living alone in towns on Long Island. People chat in the elevator, etc.

      Roaches — my luck ran out, and I’m fighting a ridiculous infestation. Blech.

      Mold — landlord ignored leak from upstairs until I had a substantial flood and mold problem last year.

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

        P.S. I love the diversity here, too. Queens is the most diverse borough in the world! It reminds me of what I think Manhattan must have been like at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century. We have everyone!

        1. EA*

          I love this and honestly is what draws me back to NYC! The diversity and the amazing range of delicious food

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      Likes: University city, so lots of interesting people from all over.
      We have a good amount of green space and I’m lucky enough to live near a big park.

      Dislikes: High cost of living and economic inequality.
      Many historical buildings, but even though they’re beautiful, not all of them are well-maintained. (Chunks of stone were falling off a church on a busy street for several months last year. I still gey nervous walking past it.)

    9. EA*

      Mine is:
      Loves – We are outside 365 days of the year thanks to tropical weather (and I grew up in the Northeast! But now love the warm weather). Friendly and warm people in my city.
      Would change – The litter!!! And unfortunately not many lucrative job opportunities

    10. BellaStella*

      Top 2: forests (and lakes) and ease of public transport
      Bottom 2: cost of living and some of the politics

    11. Makare*

      Top 2 I love: the public transit and bikeability of the city—I love not having a car. And the sheer number of things going on—music, art, culture, food—you name it, you can always find something interesting happening.
      Top 2 I would change: god the surrounding countryside is so flat and boring, I miss mountains and real wilderness. And it’s so far away from my family.
      I live in Berlin.

    12. English Rose*

      Like: plenty of green spaces, good community groups/resources/activism

      Dislike: nothing but chain shops without individuality, no really good restaurants.

      Great question!

    13. NeonFireworks*

      I live in semi-rural southeastern England.

      Like: Scenery and hiking! Sea views. History and local character – all distinctive. Surprisingly progressive for the region. Very decent options in terms of food and general cultural offerings. Comparatively not bad in terms of cost of living. Close enough to London that if I get bored I can usually go catch a train to the city on a whim and be there quickly.

      Dislike: The local culture is friendly but easily gets rowdy/aggressive, especially at the weekend. The rest of the UK has some terrible classist stereotypes about people from these parts. Some political rubbish has been going on nearby in the local Brexit stronghold (see thread below). 52 degrees N means short winter days (I don’t know how anyone farther north does it!), and being this far east for the time zone means the sunsets in December are sometimes around three thirty in the afternoon. I could travel, mostly westwards, all the way out to western France or western Spain and it would be an hour later there.

      I see I failed to stop at just four things!

    14. RussianInTexas*

      Dislike: politics and hurricanes/extreme weather.
      Like: the incredible diversity of the area and the range of food that follows, ease of finding any medical (well almost, see politics) services needed, in any area of the metro, tomorrow if needed.

    15. Small town*

      I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Pro: It is gorgeous here, 20 minutes and I’m on the Blue Ridge parkway. Good housing values, great and friendly people. I can walk to my work and my children walked to.school.
      Con: No public transit or consistent sidewalks, very conservative politics around liberal folks, very limited shopping options.

      1. I don’t post often*

        Lived in Harrisonburg for five years and totally agree with you. Because of the university people Harrisonburg proper tends to have a liberal bent, which I appreciated. Five minutes into the county and it is completely different!
        100% agree with you on the shipping options. I made two hour trips to the state capital each year specifically for shopping.

    16. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Charlotte, NC (former resident of Florida, so I’m still enthralled with shady parks and such!)

      Likes: Greenways, parks/nature preserves, ability to take back roads vs interstates to get to a destination, friendly people, big city with small town feel (for now), airport that has direct flights internationally, great seasonal weather, dog friendly, LOTS of options for things to do (sports teams, outdoors stuff like the US National Whitewater Center, art/museums, nearby wineries, local small businesses/markets galore, great day trip options/cute small towns very nearby, 2 lakes for all things water)

      Dislikes: Traffic on the interstates and very poorly constructed merge areas that cause it, it can be a little sprawling within city limits trying to get from places like northwest to southeast parts of the city), I live a food desert part of town aka no grocery stores, too much construction too fast.

    17. Inkhorn*

      Love:
      Mild winters. I went out today in jeans and a 3/4 sleeve t-shirt and was perfectly comfortable (a far cry from the four-layers-and-still-freezing winters in my hometown).
      All the perks that come with living in a major metropolitan area – public transport, events, galleries, parks, access to services, opportunities, always having new/changing things to see.

      Loathe:
      The humidity! Those mild winters come as a package deal with long sweltering subtropical summers.
      Living in a city built on a floodplain; I reckon I’ve got 10-15 years max before I’ll need to sell up while the selling is good and move to higher ground. Climate change is predicted to make the flooding worse and my apartment’s not *that* far from streets that already end up underwater.

    18. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Like about the area: Proximity to a Very Big City without having to live in a Very Big City. Relatively easy access to two major airports. Affordable cost of owning a home (less so if you have to rent). The combination of a small city where I have everything I need (grocery store, etc) within a five minute drive and in twenty minutes I can be in real farm country complete with cows and corn and silos and farm equipment driving on the roads. Local colleges with a lively arts scene. About my neighborhood specifically: diverse housing stock, tree-lined streets, not a cookie-cutter development, being able to walk to a lovey deli, a decent brewpub and as of last year an independent coffee shop and a small independent bookstore.

      Dislike: we’re a blue dot in a state that’s purple because of the cities and we are surrounded by a deeply red and frankly Fascist area. Summer is muggy and these days we barely get spring – it’s already unbearable. No decent mass transit and no train to the Very Big City.

    19. thunderingly*

      Love: variety of good food, close to beaches and nature, community
      Dislike: traffic, crowds, housing costs

    20. tab*

      I love so much, but the weather and walkability are at the top of the list. I hate the high cost of housing, particularly for young people, and the lack of direct flights from the airport. I’m in Santa Barbara.

      1. Pieforbreakfast*

        Ooo, I just spent a week there with my spouse and we enjoyed it so much. We chose SB partly because it was a short, direct flight from Portland.

    21. RLC*

      Love: living in a popular resort community means nearby lakes, mountains, lovely scenery and more variety of coffeehouses, cafes, and interesting shops than typical for town this size.
      Dislike: popularity of said community in recent years has led to soaring housing prices, traffic congestion, construction of high rise apartments displacing small businesses and moderate cost housing (and blocking views of lake and mountains!)
      Idaho, USA

      1. Baby Ruth*

        I was thinking Bozeman MT as I read this. Until I got to the end and saw Idaho. But everything you said describes Bozeman perfectly.

    22. Clisby*

      I love our house. It’s a 1925 Arts and Crafts bungalow in a really lovely neighborhood, right across from a big city park. I love our neighborhood and our neighbors. I love that Charleston has a lot of good places to eat.

      HOWEVER. Politics in SC in bananapants. I’m not even really complaining about Charleston local politics – they’re mostly reasonable, even though 5 of our county school board members are Moms for Liberty sympathizers. At the state level, our legislature is just unredeemable.

      1. Clisby*

        Can’t believe I forgot one thing I don’t like: 6 months out of the year is Atlantic hurricane seas0n, so I have to stay alert even when the weather looks nice outside. Granted, I don’t worry a lot except for August-September-October, but I feel like I always have to pay attention.

    23. chocolate muffins*

      Love: abortion protections in the state constitution and the fact that my neighborhood is the perfect amout of friendly. We know (some of) our neighbors, people say hi in the streets and visit with each other sometimes, but my neighbors are not all up in my business all the time.

      Dislike: a ridiculous commute to get to work, hard to get to an airport

    24. Yikes Stripes*

      Love:
      1. There’s trees *everywhere* in my neck of the woods (ha) and I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea of living somewhere without this much green.
      2. The dominant liberal politics at the state level.
      Bonus! I love living in the foothills and being two and a half hours away from both the ocean and Lake Tahoe

      Hate:
      1. The ever present fears of drought and fire season. My anxiety gets so bad during the summer that I wind up with stress headaches on the regular.
      2. The county I live in is blood red MAGA and I hate it so freaking much.
      Bonus! The homelessness epidemic really is out of control terrible and I don’t think the state or counties are doing nearly enough to address it in meaningful ways.

      (In case the Lake Tahoe reference didn’t give it away, I’m in Northern California)

    25. CtheRocker*

      Love: the diversity, small MS town, conservative, several celebrities here, genuinely good and kind people for the most part

      Dislove: heat, humidity, not a lot of jobs available, people blocking cross streets instead of keeping intersections clear in traffic

    26. Elizabeth West*

      Dislike: It’s EXPENSIVE.
      Also the constant stench of weed everywhere I go. You’d think someone would breed a cultivar that doesn’t smell like skunk farts, but no.

      Like: Food food all the food, any kind I want. :)
      There is always something to do. Too much, in fact!

    27. Ontariariario*

      Likes:
      I can get around the city without driving, either with transit or cycling on dedicated paths through great scenery
      I live in a diverse neighbourhood full of friendly people

      Wish I could change:
      Downtown’s drug and homelessness problem
      Summer humidity. I wish that it wouldn’t get above 25C

    28. Wasatch Front*

      This is the 120 mile long stretch of land that never gets wider than 18 miles and that is comprised of contiguous cities and towns starting with the city of Santaquin in central Utah and running up through the cities of Spanish Fork, Provo, Salt Lake City, Ogden and up through Logan in northern Utah. (Some people say it is only the 80 mile long stretch that starts with Provo and that runs up to Ogden.) It’s more like what I imagined Denver to be than what Denver actually is.

      Love the strong economy and availability of good jobs. This is the first place where I ever truly experienced any kind of continuous professional success. In the last 5 years I’ve made the step up from lower middle class to solidly middle class and my income has tripled! (I picked up some pointers from AAM which helped with that, too.) Still not upper upper middle-class, though. I feel that, if something happened and I lost my current job, I could fairly easily get another good job here. The cost of living is not great, but I love that it is still lower than, say, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle and the jobs tend to pay better than Denver. It contributes to having a very decent quality of life.

      What I dislike is the unfortunate and disproportionate influence of the “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” as well as the conservative politics of the state, though both are not as influential as they once were. (The sweet, elderly grandmother who lives next door makes me Christmas cookies and brings me vegetables from her garden in the summer, but she’s, um, a horrible racist and homophobe.) I have been able to find my tribe of more open-minded, diverse and progressive people among the local populace, so living here is bearable.

      Also dislike the poor air quality. (I did not have asthma until I moved here and I previously lived in Los Angeles and Denver among other places.) Related to that is that things here are really spread out, you pretty much have to drive everywhere, the streets and highways are inefficient, poorly planned and poorly laid-out. Public transportation is lousy. Still, the traffic isn’t as bad as Los Angeles.

    29. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m enjoying this thread and reading everyone’s comments.

      Love: I have access to so much nature and cultural events. I’m in a small town despite being in a metropolitan area. I can walk to most places in a friendly community where the people at local shops know my name. Diversity of every sort is visible and often celebrated. Elected officials consistently share my perspective and they always win their races.

      Hate: When I’m heading somewhere beyond a few miles away, I have to time things to avoid running into massive traffic. It’s infamously expensive–hello SF Bay Area. It works only because my long-term landlord keeps my rent way below market but he’s up there in years and I have a back-up plan in my head all the time. I’m staying put so I can be near my mom in her 90s who fortunately got a place back when it was affordable, and I have a good job I need to keep for a bunch of years before I can retire.

    30. NB*

      North suburbs of Chicago–
      Like: proximity to a world-class city and great schools; also, living around people with high expectations means that service is great in stores and restaurants, the streets are clean, parks and forest preserves are awesome, etc.
      Dislike: weather and lack of diversity; also, living around people with high expectations means that my neighbors are constantly getting SO bent out of shape over next to nothing.

  7. MeetMoot*

    Looking for stories of how you’ve managed when a close friend is in a new relationship.

    For context: this friend has been single for a long time and within four weeks she’s gone from her first date to more or less living with this guy. He’s a really decent guy and we knew him as a friend before this relationship began, so please don’t start with convo around lovebombing and red flags etc. Trust me, it’s all fine.

    I’m finding it challenging to navigate. Obviously I’m happy for my friend and I understand I’ll naturally have less access to her now. But the drop-off of her interest in the friendship has been steep. Where she used to reply to messages in hours, she replies days later. She barely asks to spend time together, and when I want to spend time with her she always asks if her BF can come. She’s receptive if I ask if we can hang without him, but it’s no longer open-ended. It’s for a few hours because she wants to go back to spending time with him. When we’re spending time in a group, they mostly have side conversations with each other. They’re also very physically affectionate and I’m super uncomfortable around PDAs.

    We’ve been such close friends and I feel like I’m suddenly so unimportant and uninteresting to her. I’m deliberating if/how I should raise it, or whether I should just ride it out – hurtful as it is – on the assumption that the honeymoon phase will pass and she’ll come back around.

    Would love to know how others have approached this!

    1. Manders*

      No stories, but I think this too shall pass. Sounds like typical early-relationship stuff.
      Annoying? Yes. I think it wouldn’t be bad to jokingly (or not) say that you miss her, even if you are also happy for her. But it’s literally not about you.

    2. Sloanicota*

      If it’s only been four weeks from the start of the relationship, I’d give her a little more time to C settle in and find her groove before you start asking for one on one time, I think. Use this as an opportunity to branch out yourself, maybe give her a chance to miss you a little.

      1. allathian*

        That’s the only way to deal with it. When I first started dating my husband we were LDR for 3 years. I certainly didn’t schedule open-ended stuff with my friends when he was in town! But most of my friends, and his, were in serious relationships at the time, so we did lots of socializing as a couple.

    3. Despachito*

      What you are describing as your previous relationship seems pretty intense to me.

      Was she your only close person?

      I get a vibe (maybe I am completely wrong) that before BF both of you were single and relied on each other for emotional support and that has now ended and you miss it.

      I would absolutely NOT raise it as a reproach. She is freshly in love, and does not have as much bandwidth for anything else as she used to. Also if you say she is able to spend several HOURS without him, that is already quite a lot. I would consider it pretty normal to hang out with a friend for a couple of hours but not more.

      If I were you, I’d try and broaden your other interests/group of people you interact with, so that you do not hang all your clothes on one nail, so as to say. It will be easier if you have other interesting things to fill the time you used to be with her .

      1. Treena*

        Wow, hello amatonormativity! There’s nothing wrong with being super close to a friend or missing it when that abruptly stops. If someone thinks spending HOURS away from a significant other is a lot, then I would be severely concerned for their emotional well-being.

        1. Goldfeesh*

          But Despachito isn’t wrong about a friend in a new relationship. It does drop off for a while.

        2. Charley*

          I think it’s still good advice to branch out and try to spend time with others or on your own. I’m not getting the sense that OP and friend committed to each other as platonic partners pre-boyfriend or anything like that, and as a single ace person I’m still a busy person who would rarely have totally ‘open ended’ hang out sessions with friends. As you pointed out, there are lots of ways to be in relationships, but if OP is feeling lonely in this relationship, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to suggest they invest some time in building up others.

        3. Despachito*

          I had to look out what amatonormativity was, and do not still have it very clear what you meant.

          It did not cross my mind that it could mean “she cannot bear spending hours away from a significant other” but rather “spending several hours with a friend is absolutely enough and nothing to complain of” above all if we see each other frequently. If I saw my friend for several hours, I’d definitely not think that she neglected me because it is ONLY a few hours.

          But one way or the other, if the friend is freshly in love, her chemistry is firing on all four cylinders, and it would be counter-productive to reproach it to her. I love what AGD below said and think this is the right way not only to not lose a friend but (possibly) acquire a new one.

          I do not see any other way out than to be gracious and give her time. If she was a good friend, she will come back and be grateful.

          1. Hroethvitnir*

            Personally, I agree with all your advice – the objection along the lines of amatonormativity is the strong implication to the way your comment was written that it’s unhealthy to have friendships as close as a romantic relationship.

            Many people deeply value friendships and spend as much time or more with friends than they would a partner, and it doesn’t mean they’re codependent or only have one friend.

            Not disagreeing re: just have to wait it out though.

            It’s so depressing when you have a close friend who has passionately agreed about the importance of friends, complained when they get neglected due to a new relationship… then they do it. Sigh. (And I am talking dropping off the face of the earth, not just a bit less available.)

    4. KeinName*

      It sounds like it is very early in the relationship. Wait it out. Also, no one has endless supplies of free time, so naturally some time slots will be taken up by the one-to-one Partner time.
      We cannot guilt our friends into spending time with us; if it turns out she prefers the company of a partner to that of a friend that’s her choice (though I personally don’t approve of focussing only on coupledom).
      I guess you could talk to her in a few months and describe the change and ask her what she would like in terms of frequency, set up, reaching out going forward.

    5. AGD*

      This happened to me as well, years ago; I took a step back and assumed that things would settle down in time. The relationship was strong and very exciting for a friend who thought they’d never find a partner, so I decided it would be worth making space for. The relationship turned into a strong marriage and now I’m close friends with both of them and see them regularly. It was an adjustment and it’s never been quite the same as the old-buddy days – they come as a unit – but I really like both of them and my friend is SO HAPPY that it’s worth it.

      1. Bananapantsfeelings*

        Aww, that’s so nice.

        Close relationships of all kinds change over time, and it can be hard during a big change.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Honestly a lot of it is using money to buy peace of mind and a bit of luxury, which I am lucky enough to be able to do. Good noise-cancelling headphones and a neck support that actually works. I buy travel insurance now (never did before). I travel a day early if I’m going to a conference or there’s some other reason I have to arrive by a specific time. I pay for extra legroom and priority boarding and TSA Precheck.

      I’m away for the weekend right now. My flight left at 7:15 last evening and the airport is on the way to the nearest beach, so I figured the usual rush hour traffic was going to be even worse on a summer Friday. It usually takes just over an hour to get to the airport, and I didn’t have to check a bag. I left the house at 2:15 PM. Took about 80 minutes to get there. So I had four hours in the airport and I treated myself to a pass for the airline club. Also paid for short-term parking since it’s only three days and that meant I could get covered parking – it’s absolutely beastly at home right now.

      1. OP*

        I see your comment re: my question above about travel, and I appreciate it!! I do think perhaps I’m unconsciously contributing to my own stress by cutting corners to try and save money. Paying for the close parking is definitely something that has improved my stress levels.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          The last time I flew, to see my sister and mom and have a little memorial for my dad, I shelled out for first class without a second thought. Those are the only airplane seats that I could conceive travelling cross country in, and as I was staying with my sister and didn’t have to pay for a hotel, it was affordable.

          You would have thought I took a solid gold coach pulled by unicorns freshly bedazzled in swarvoski crystals from my family’s reaction–“FIRST CLASS??? But that costs a FORTUNE!” I mean, it was expensive, but hardly “lighting hundred dollar bills on fire” levels of extravagance. You can bet that if I have to fly again I’ll do the same.

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            I have a lot of miles accumulated and I’d much rather pay for a coach seat and use the miles to upgrade than get the flight for free.

          2. Clisby*

            I bought first-class plane tickets for the first time a couple of years ago when I helped my daughter drive from SC to New Mexico for an internship. (I flew back to Charleston so she could keep the car; then 3 months later flew to Santa Fe so we could connect and drive back to SC together. That is a loooonnnnngggg drive.) I’m never flying anything but first class again. I’m 70, and I’ve earned it.

    7. Ane*

      I’ve experienced much the same with my best friend.
      As teenagers we did see this problem coming so promised each other that we would understand how the other was feeling and still be best friends – just with less time for each other. I don’t know if I would have behaved differently without this talk but it was nice to think back on when I stood in the situation roughly a decade after, that this was bound to happen, that it isn’t a personal slight, that we still care for each other but to take a step back and give space. I took a look at my circle and decided to be more active in whom I wanted to spend time with. And as it happened, my BFF had introduced me to more people through her new boyfriend. His sister is now a very close friend of mine.

    8. Abigail*

      This all sounds well within the range of normal for a new relationship.

      Specifically, the open ended hang outs. This happened a lot in college and a few years after. Sometime in my late 20’s – 30’s these dropped off to non-existence. Even if there isn’t a significant other, people have pets, spouses, partners, kids, etc that make open ended hangouts not really practical.

      Sometimes I miss this, too, but it’s inevitable when lift gets more complicated

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Similar boat, except there are some red, or at least yellow, flags in my friend’s relationship. I’m riding it out for now. Eventually, I’ll talk to her but for now I’m concerned enough that the relationship isn’t healthy that I don’t want to risk pushing her away. I’m focusing my time on other things and people, so I’m ok.

    10. Samwise*

      Don’t gripe about it with her (and no matter how much you think you have kept any tone of irritation and resentment out, trust me, you have not). Eventually it will slack off. Or it won’t. But nothing you can say is going to change things.

      Even when it slacks off, it may never be the same as it was between you.

      It’s ok to grieve the loss of this friendship. Btdt. I’m sorry.

      1. Despachito*

        Hard agree on the non-griping part.

        But why should it necessarily mean the LOSS of that friendship? People change in time and space, and it is very much possible to preserve this friendship if both of them are able and willing to admit it.

        1. Sloanicota*

          It is totally possible in one of three scenarios: 1. OP decides she’s still satisfied with a little less of her friend than she used to get so they stay friends even if not at the previous level 2. The friend “bounces back” from coupledom and is more or less the same level of friend that she used to be 3. The dynamic shifts – maybe to include the friends’ partner, maybe OP also gets a partner and they all get along, maybe they invite someone else to join, and everyone’s happy. But if the friend was previously OP’s number one person, and no longer has capacity/interest in serving that role, and OP isn’t willing to settle for anyone else, then it is at least a private loss that OP can grieve if that feels right. It does happen.

          1. Despachito*

            I think that the change in intensity is vastly different than change in attitude towards a friend, and unlike the latter, something that is mostly inevitable.

            If people get a romantic partner, get married or get kids, they logically are unable to provide the same frequency and length of encounters because they have to divide their time among more people. Yet the quality of the relationship can remain the same (ie they are still very close, trust each other but just don’t meet as often as they used to).

            A similar thing can happen if a married couple has kids – the quality time spent with each other is suddenly much less but there can still be some, and certainly it’s nothing unnatural.

            Of course you can miss the frequency but call it “grieving” and “loss” seems excessive to me if we are indeed talking just about lesser frequency and not about distancing in general. And the friend is just very shortly into the relationship so its intensity is logically at its maximum.

            1. Sloanicota*

              I think it’s okay for you to feel that way, but I also think it’s okay for someone who is single and unpartnered, particularly if they may not ever be partnered, to feel it as a loss and to grieve. Some people do stay lifelong friends or platonic lifepartners. It can be unclear what your status is/was/will be in both people’s minds. What’s not okay is to try and guilt the person who is excited to have found love or make them feel bad (and more than being not a kind way to treat a friend, it’s also unlikely to work).

    11. Emma*

      Open ended hanging out is not something I do anymore, first as I’ve gotten a partner, and now as I’ve had kids. So that might be a permanent change, if the relationship continues. But some of the other things may normalize, as the relationship gets a bit older/more stable.

  8. Tips to Stay Chill While Traveling*

    Ever since the pandemic, I seem to find traveling very stressful – I could use some tips for staying cool. So far I’ve tried 1) getting to the airport stupid earlier 2) cutting back on the caffeine and 3) consciously smiling at fellow travelers/light chat if appropriate. I still get a terrible panicky feeling that I’m late or things will go wrong, even when I’m objectively not and things are fine. I also find myself making weird jangly mistakes and being very irritable at people around me. How do others deal with the fear of causing expensive or stressful mistakes?

    1. EA*

      If I’m solo traveling, I give myself something to look forward to, like getting a book I’m really pumped to read. If traveling with my kids… no advice, I just accept I’ll be stressed and it’ll be low key miserable

    2. ronda*

      I do have some stress about it (ie.. I dont sleep well the night before, or on planes at all). And I have alway arrived way early at the airport. But once I am in the system, I pretty much think there is not much I can do about. Airlines are going to do what Airlines are going to do, so if something goes wrong, they will fix it, eventually.
      I did go to Europe with someone and they had a bad plan for getting to the airport and we missed our flight. They talked to the agent for a while and we got on a flight in a couple of days. Just had to get a hotel for a couple extra days. stressful, but out of my control and not really a disaster.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Hard to picture an unexpectedly long trip not being kind of an expensive disaster, although I appreciate there’s not much else to be done – but the panicked call to my dogsitter (and what if he couldn’t stay longer?!) plus the unexpected hotel and cost of new flights would probably eat the rest of my annual vacation budget at least.

        1. Samwise*

          Well, but that’s not earth shattering, right? It’s disappointing and frustrating, but not tragic.

          It can be hard to feel that way, and for a long time I would catastrophize and be angry. Therapy helped me start to shift my attitude. What really changed my response to such mishaps was dealing with truly terrible situations in my life. Something like what you describe, missing a flight and having to spend a lot of money unexpectedly? Eh, small potatoes.

    3. Orange m&m*

      It helps me to make lists ahead of time, watch travel videos of my destinations, plan, pack then take unnecessary items out of my suitcase, just using that to channel my anxiety & feel more prepared. I allow myself a few “amazing travel gadgets” shopping I also try really hard to not snap at my loved ones realizing I’m anxious but not at them.

    4. I take tea*

      For the actual travelling: noise cancelling earphones. You can either listen to some music you like, or nature sounds. Some people swear by light podcasts, a friend of my says gardening ones are the best. For me it has made travelling so much better, I used to feel trapped and stressed all the time, but now I sort of retreat into my sound and move my body where it needs to be. I can still hear announcements though them, but everything is muffled and I’ve found it is far less stressful to travel that way, not so much stimuli.

    5. KeinName*

      Contingency plans. Doesn’t really take away the low level anxiety but at least objectively I know I’m good either way it goes because I’m prepared for all outcomes. And if a scenario is likely to end badly then not travel at all (like losing my job if I don’t make it back from a holiday, or missing an important appointment, or not being able to afford subsistence when flights get postponed).
      Trying to set the trip up stressless (don’t leave early morning since I won’t be able to sleep; get myself to airport w plenty of time to spare; direct flights or sufficient transfer times).
      I hate hate hate travel but I do it a lot for work (trips within Europe) and pleasure (boyfriend lives in different country, family lives in different province). I used to spend multiple therapy sessions on that travel anxiety. I cannot remember what the therapist‘s recommendation was, or what the insight was into why it scares me.
      I know I feel much better when I have someone with me. Which is never the case :)

      1. OP*

        It’s true that I’m almost always traveling alone now, which does perhaps increase the sense of vulnerability if things go awry … hmm. Something to contemplate.

        1. Double A*

          At the same time, if you’re traveling alone there’s less moving pieces to go wrong and the ability to be more flexible if you need to be.

          It often helps to ask yourself what the worst case scenario is. I mean, if you’re stressed about plane crashes then maybe that’s not good and don’t dwell on that, but this k about what does happen if…what, you miss a plane? Forget an important item? The hotel is closed?

          I mean all of these would be stressful and could be expensive to address, but if you think through what you would do if they happened it could help you relax.

          You can also focus on the positives, and I don’t mean that in a cloying way. But isn’t it incredible that you have the opportunity to do this? That humans have made all this that makes this possible? Think about all the people who have worked hard and creatively to make this trip possible. Be grateful to them.

          1. OP*

            My worst case scenarios are real – I get overwhelmed and panicked and start making mistakes that become huge issues. I was out of practice after the pandemic so last time I didn’t note the right info at the parking deck, resulting in my wandering around for hours in the dark after a delayed return flight. In the crush of getting off the plane (because everyone is anxious), leaving the phone in the back pocket of the plane seat (no re-entry!). Mixing up a time zone or getting confused by boarding time vs flight time and having to pay for a whole new flight last minute.

            1. Orange m&m*

              I’m so sorry you’ve been going through that. It does sound unsettling and difficult. Is it maybe worth looking into coping mechanisms & strategies with a professional? Sending much support and positive vibes to you.

            2. KeinName*

              These are objectively unpleasant. Well done for finally finding your car and getting on another flight however! And replacing your phone I suppose :)
              When thinking this over I realised I also get anxiety when it’s just a three hour train, and low stakes (as in not for work). It might be I have perfectionism. I just want it to go as planned.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I replied to you above about the cost cutting, and how a first class ticket is so worth the extra space, both bodily and mind.

    6. the Viking Diva*

      My experience of travel shifted after reading “Finding Flow” by Czikszentmihalyi. He writes about turning drudgery into flow experiences by shifting one’s attitude (e.g., thinking of doing laundry as an act of care for your family) and by shifting one’s approach to make something tedious a challenge (e.g., finding tasks that are well suited to the airport, instead of feeling irritable about all the time wasted in waiting). I like taking this approach to travel – where can I sit to watch interesting people go by, what little work task can I do while waiting at the gate, or how can I optimize my path through the airport to stop at the least busy restroom or best coffee shop, or to crank up my step count? I bring my own food on the outbound trip, and I take paper magazines to read and recycle them as I finish, lightening my load as I go – it’s a little game to see if I get the amount of reading right (and I always have lots of choices of library books on my phone too). For work trips, I work on the way out and relax on the way home.

      I also take a moment to consciously step into what I call my “travel Zen” orientation: a lot of travel is out of my control (such as flight delays or security lines) so I will arrive early, move at my own pace, and be purposeful in interacting cheerfully with people (I have benefited from this – gate agents are more helpful when you are nice to them). I remind myself that most problems can be solved by a credit card and it does no good to worry about the bill now.

      I second the recommendation of noise-cancelling headphones. Mine work wirelessly with Bluetooth to my phone (e.g. a white noise / nature sounds app) or can be plugged in to a jack on an international flight that provides movie or music options.

      Also: it is real that travel is more miserable now. Seats are tighter and people are crankier. So the more you can dwell in your own inner peace and avoid dwelling on the physical discomforts, the better.

    7. The Space Pope*

      – pay for small extras like seat selection or getting a taxi to the airport rather than the bus, whatever would make you more comfortable
      – buy doubles of those little things that you normally would pack last minute like phone chargers and toothbrushes and other morning toiletries, that sort of thing, so that you can pack them ahead of time and it’s not an extra worry
      – build in little treats, like you’ll get an extra fancy drink once you’re through security, or buy a new book, that sort of thing
      – if your bags will be away from you, get an Apple AirTag or equivalent so you can track them
      – people watch and observe others with curiosity
      – if at all possible, be extra nice and helpful with other passengers, like let the family with small kids go ahead of you, that sort of thing

    8. fueled by coffee*

      Honestly what helped me with this was realizing that if things go wrong, airlines/hotels/etc. are generally happy to work with reasonable, polite people to solve the problem. For example, I once had a checked bag that the airline somehow managed to lose in another country. A polite conversation with customer service got me (1) a free bag of toiletries for overnight, (2) a promise of reimbursement up to (I think?) $80 if I needed to purchase clothes, and (3) my bag hand-delivered to my hotel the next day. Was it stressful and annoying not having my stuff? Sure. But the problem was solved with minimal additional headache.

      I also generally try to pinpoint what makes me most stressed out about travel and work to preempt it. For example, Southwest’s boarding process stresses me out (perhaps unreasonably! But I *hate* not knowing what seat I’m going to be in, and I hate having to remember to check in exactly 24 hours in advance or risk getting stuck in a middle seat, etc.). So I just… don’t book with Southwest anymore (which is a real bummer, because I miss free checked bags). Having an assigned seat relieves my stress and makes the travel process easier.

      1. Samwise*

        I pay for early bird check in — still cheaper than anyone else and I don’t have to pay t he extortionate checked bag fees of other airlines. If you buy tickets enough in advance, you’ll be in the A group. I recently had to fly out the same day I bought my ticket — I was still in the B group.

    9. An Australian In London*

      I leave plenty of time for everything: get to the airport 3 hours before flight for international.

      Cultivate conscious positive override: tell ourselves the best possible stories for why people do what they do, stories that would make us smile indulgently. That person who just bumped into me and didn’t apologise? Maybe they’re freshly in love and can’t stop thinking about their beloved! That person who doesn’t have any of their travel docs and paperwork ready and is holding up the line? Maybe they just won a small lottery prize and bought some impulse travel!

      Dial all self-care up to 11: have a meal before the flight. Assume there will be no meals on board and bring enough food to cope. (I’m routinely on 14+ hour flights.) Hydrate plenty but only from bottles; don’t drink any jug/carafe water/coffee/tea on board. Best not to have any caffeine at all. Do the silly exercises in the seat. Wear the seat belt all the time.

      Every element of air travel is great practice for meditation. We will seldom be anywhere else so noisy and crowded and confined.

      If money permits, invest in quality noise-cancelling headphones. Most of them come with an adapter to let them be used with in-seat entertainment but in a pinch (if they break) you can often repurpose the on-board headphones’ plug. Or just buy a couple of spares for $10. If possible try them on in a store because you’re looking for ones you can comfortably sleep in.

      As I age I sleep less and less on planes. I’ve now mostly stopped trying and instead go on a movie marathon for all cinematic releases I didn’t catch in the cinema. Or binge a season of a series I never saw. (See above, 14+ hour flights.)

      My #1 tip for dealing with anything stressful or anxiety-inducing is to prepare and practice so much that it goes beyond routine and becomes actually boring. I don’t think it is possible to be stressed about something we are bored by. This is how I got over public speaking anxiety for audiences of 400+. Plan and prepare. Practice all the speaking interactions for departure and arrival. Have all paperwork laid out in one place and have two pens of a sort that won’t leak in low pressure. (Sealed gel pens or fine sharpies; nothing with a liquid ink.)

      Other than getting on the wrong plane – and there are plenty of people and practices to prevent exactly that – there aren’t many expensive mistakes that can be made once we’re in the airport.

      TL;DR – over-prepare so when you’re there you can under-think.

      1. An Australian In London*

        Oh yeah, also:

        If money permits, invest in a dedicated travel carry-on bag that stays permanently packed with things for the flight. Have a spare phone charger cable, portable battery, and battery cable that all live in the bag. If they live there, then you don’t have to worry about packing. It’s now the permanent home for my passports, for example.

        I have checklists for everything. I have one in GDocs that I tick (using check boxes as bullet points) as I pack and untick before the next packing. That’s grouped logically, so I have sections for checked and carry-on; carry-on has electronics, documents, a light change of clothes, three days of prescription meds, snacks, wet wipes, spare masks x 2, etc. etc.

        1. KeinName*

          Love this. Also imagining you are very cool because you take these long flights and then hold talks in front of huge audiences.

    10. Samwise*

      1 Plan carefully
      2 You can’t plan for everything.
      3. Realize that very few mistakes or mishaps are life altering.
      4. Take a breath and ask for help politely when things go awry.

    11. Healthcare Worker*

      I find it helpful to think through things that could be problems, and come up with future solutions. For parking, I take a picture of the locator in the parking lot since I know I won’t remember where my car is. For time changes, my notes include both the time in the area I’m traveling to as well as my home time zone. I print out any reservations I have, and sometimes maps. I type these notes up and keep them with them to refer to – much easier for me than having the info on my phone, especially if I’m getting flustered.

  9. Forensic13*

    Recommendations for fun things to do in Ireland, especially anything that’s not on every travel list, please! Any unique bookstores, historical sites, things like that would be extra appreciated.

    1. KeinName*

      No tips but I’d like tips as well, for Maynooth! And best month for going there (trip might be may).

    2. Jbe*

      It’s been a few years, but in Western Ireland, some of my favorite things to do were to go to small town loca pubs to catch the musicc and to get info on local walks. Riding horses on the beach is awesome too. In Dublin, Trinity College Library is amazing if you’re at all into that sort of thing.

    3. Forensic13*

      Dublin and Kilkenny are the two main places; on our last leg we’re mostly just going to roam around and enjoy nature.

      1. SBT*

        Was there last year and we hit Dublin, Galway, Doolin, Killarney, and Kilkenny.
        – My favorite was Doolin. We hiked up to the Cliffs (but you can take a tour bus), and took a boat to see the cliffs from the sea. It’s a really small town, but the main pub has live Irish music every night, and we happened to catch a night where it was a jam session. Everyone just shows up with their instruments
        – Killarney – if you find yourself here, make sure to check out JM Reidy’s bar.
        – Honestly, by the time we reached Kilkenny, I was unimpressed. If you’re a beer drinker, obviously Smithwick’s is the draw there, but you could probably just come through for a day there.
        – Galway was cute, but we didn’t spend much time there.
        – Dublin is one of my favorite big cities. Normally, I don’t enjoy a foreign country’s “big city”. Was just in Paris for the first time and remember thinking “this feels just like New York, but with more smokers and older buildings”. But I didn’t feel that way about Dublin. We did a bike tour which we loved, hit up Jameson distillery and the Guinness tour, and stopped in for a drink at The Church bar.

      2. Rebecca*

        You are a little late for Bloomsday, but I enjoyed visiting the places Leopold Bloom went in Ulysses. It’s funner if you read the chapter either before or while at the place.

      3. Pretty as a Princess*

        In Dublin we enjoyed: (some of it is recommended in tons of tour books, but all of it was really enjoyable)
        – the permanent Yeats exhibit at the library (free)
        – the Oscar Wilde house (Wilde’s mom was one hell of a force!)
        – the GPO (In addition to really understanding how small/close everything was during the Easter Rising, this is where we learned that an early territorial governor of Montana was an Irish revolutionary!)
        – grabbing a pint at Mulligan’s, and reading the feature story up on the wall about the old manager, who had met Jack Kennedy when he was at the pub while working for Hearst
        – we did a literary pub crawl run by actors
        – Sweny’s pharmacy – it was really walking in here that pulled a lot together about how small Dublin really is!
        – the Long Room at Trinity College (need to book the Book of Kells tour)
        – I died and went to heaven eating at Gallagher’s Boxty House
        – someone mentioned Murphy’s ice cream, and I second/third that one!

    4. Trina*

      I don’t know what is or isn’t on the main travel lists, but the highlights of my 2017 honeymoon there were hiking in Glendalough (even though we got poured on) and Greystones in general. The latter is the furthest stop south on the DART and is just a really charming coastal town; The Happy Pear is a cute little café and store with good vegan options, and La Crêperie Pierre Grise has very good crêpes (albeit a very long wait when I was there, so YMMV as to whether it’s worth it or not).

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      If you’re heading for Dublin, the GPO. That sounds bizarre but it was the scene of our most famous strike for independence and they have an awesome museum there. (I must go again myself actually; there’s a sort of video with surround sound and all so it feels like being in the building during the rebellion and when I went there, this staff member stopped me on the stairs down to it and said, “watch out for spies down below.”) It is also still a working post office.

      And then there is Kilmainham Jail where the leaders were shot. You can see the little chapel where Plunket married his sweetheart before he was executed.

      Innisheer on the Aran Islands is absolutely beautiful.

      Fota Wildlife Park is pretty cool. I’m not even particularly into animals but I love the peace of it. And then there’s Cobh nearby. That is on every travel list, ’cause it’s the last stop of the Titanic and the place where many Irish emigrated from.

      And of course, Newgrange is older than the pyramids of Egypt.

      If you’re into sport, it would be worth trying to see a hurling match. Said to be the “fastest game on grass” and have been played (in some form) for millennia.

    6. migrating coconuts*

      Always depends on what you mean as fun. We were there a few years ago and drove ourselves around the island. We like quieter things, but we did enjoy Dublin. The little town of Cobh, last stop on for the Titanic before leaving for open waters was a very cute town. Newgrange was very interesting as was the Rock of Cashel. The Belfast botannical gardens were beautiful. Our favorite off the beaten path sight was the grianan of aileach ring fort. Not a very busy sight at all, just a few people around, but the view, and the peacefulness had us hanging there for a long time. Oh, and you have to find a Murphy’s ice cream store. Best stuff around :)

    7. Irish adventures*

      As an Irish person, I say: Dublin if you want a cosmopolitan city with interesting attractions, but the west for more rugged and rural adventures. (My heart personally says west!)

      West: County Clare with it’s small towns (someone else wrote Doolin and that sounds right, or Milltown Malbay during the Willie Clancy festival in July, Kilrush for the trad and set dancing festival in early August…or others), and the seaside towns for the dramatic Atlantic ocean. Galway city (during the arts festival in summer it’s especially buzzin, but in any weather it is nice to seek refuge from bad weather in the cosy pubs with their real fires!) County Galway for The Burren (beautiful geologically fascinating landscape) and more little towns and Atlantic ocean visits.

      And from County Galway you can visit an Aran Island or two – beautiful and interesting places.

      If you explore using search terms on Airbnb (my favourite would be “sea view”), you can find some charming looking houses to rent in remote, beautiful places.

      You need a car in the west, whereas in a city you won’t need one.

  10. Falling Diphthong*

    What are you watching, and would you recommend it?

    I gave up on Justified: The City Primeval after the second episode, in which the writers apparently asked themselves “Can we give this teenage girl a plot so banal that Falling will rage quit the show?” and they succeeded. In its way it’s a relief to not keep telling myself maybe it gets better.

    In contrast I am thoroughly enjoying my rewatch of the original Justified. I had forgotten how much each episode in Season 1 stands alone as a delightful short story packed full of memorable characters.

    1. Slinky*

      I just started Ripley on Netflex and I’m enjoying it. I hated the 90s movie version (The Talented Mr. Ripley) but this version is clicking for me. The actor playing Ripley does a good job of embodying menace.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        ooh, interesting — I refuse to watch this newest one because I think the 90s version is a masterpiece. Also possible that I don’t want to see Andrew Scott play such a malevolent character. Moriarty was a villain, but soooo entertaining.

      2. Clear choice*

        I loved this version! I have stayed in Atrani and so enjoyed all the scenes shot there. And the dark humor- so.many.stairs, the cat, the boat that refused to sink- hit me just right.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Yes, the “Ripley” series subtitle could be “The Stairways of Italy” – soooo many stairs! I adored the series, easily my favorite of any of the previous screen adaptations – though I did like some elements of the various films. The black and white visuals were stunning.

          And yes, that cat stole every scene!

      3. Throw in the Trowel*

        I love both versions! They are very different, so if you know the plot of the first (and the book), you could still hugely enjoy the second.

    2. PurlsOfWisdom*

      Recently binged Elementary and fell IN LOVE with it. I missed it when it first aired, but it holds up so well.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        I’m on my second rewatch (after also discovering it after it ran) and agree that it is SO good. The characters are a delight and they capture the quirkiness of Sherlock Holmes while still making it modern and likeable.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I really liked this take on Holmes and Watson. It seemed to really respect both characters.

    3. RagingADHD*

      There’s a Bridgerton themed event next week, so I have been bingeing the show while I make an outlandishly anachronistic pseudo Regency outfit. I thought it was boring at first, but I think that’s because they were introducing so many characters. I got hooked on the plot twists and now I’m enjoying it.

    4. JustForThis*

      I subscribed to dropout for their Actual Play content (Dimension 20) and have now discovered their various other formats. Game Changer — a game show, but the rules of the game change for every show — is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. Make Some Noise and the Smartypants Society are also very entertaining.

      1. Skates*

        Smartypants is my new favorite thing! My husband and I have just been saying “one huge, perfect sperm” randomly to each other for 2 weeks now

      2. DrKMnO4*

        I LOVE Game Changer! The cast, the challenges, the different rules…it’s all hilarious. One of my favorite episodes is the lie detector episode. Of course, anything with Brennan is amazing.

      3. Ane*

        The improv-musical episode “Welcome to Mountport” is just the best – I’ve bought and listen to the soundtrack often!

    5. Bobina*

      Catching up on this season of the Great British Sewing Bee and….usually I love it for the comforting challenge show but this season no one is standing out as obviously good and/or particularly likeable? I skimmed Reddit and people seem convinced that the timing on the challenges has been shortened which is why no one is completing things to a good standard and I don’t know. That’s never really been an issue before so wondering if it’s true or this is just a bad batch?

      I do love Kiell as a host though!

      1. TX Lizard*

        Are you in the UK? I’ve been trying to ffigure out if I can watch this in the US

      2. Throw in the Trowel*

        I do find the cohort a bit boring this year. Not a great mix of class, personality, background, compared to some other years. I keep thinking, “who is the casting team, and how hard have they really tried to find people different to themselves?”

    6. allathian*

      I’m still enjoying The Wire, we’re about halfway through the last season.

      The first three episodes of The Acolyte have been pretty good, and I’m loving the diverse cast.

      1. Clisby*

        The Wire is probably my all-time favorite TV series. The last season was a disappointment (to me, at least), but overall it was great.

    7. heckofabecca*

      Dead Boy Detectives on Netflix has transfixed me! I absolutely love it and really recommend it!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I’m currently catching up on Bridgerton. I read the books some years ago, and whilst it’s a fantastic looking programme, I find the deviation from the books a bit annoying.

    8. Lilith*

      I’m watching Psych as I’ve just noticed it on Netflix – I do enjoy an off-kilter procedural, and I’ve seen enough gifs over the years of funny bits of the main duo that I’ve been wanting to watch it.

      I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend it, really! I’m only on season 1 and am going to continue watching, but I think it’s just old enough that some things have moved on enough to make it awkward to watch (I’ve not been missing the disappearance of ‘metrosexual’ as an insult) but not quite old enough that I can just think of it as a sign of the times, like I can with shows from the 80s.

    9. carcinization*

      Finally watched the movie “Strawberry Mansion” which I’d heard about somewhere online as a good movie most people hadn’t heard of, it was a cute/weird movie that was enjoyable for sure.

  11. strawberry lemonade*

    I think there may have been a thread about this in the past, but any FIP tips?

    My cat doesn’t have a sure diagnosis and I talked with the facebook group. I don’t really know what the deal is—my cat’s being transferred to a better hospital tomorrow, but it’s pretty stressful even aside from her being sick.

    1. Double A*

      Start treatment ASAP. My vet just told me there’s now a compounding pharmacy in the US that makes the medicine. I actually have extra vials from when we treated my cat that I could send you if we can connect.

      But I treated my cat with the mystery medicine from China and he recovered and is doing great. He’s been recovered for about 2 years now and just had a blood draw this week that the vet said looks perfect.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hi! I’m a volunteer with FIP Warriors and we’ll help you every step of the way. Have you already connected with us and been assigned a team? If not:

      1. Click here to join FIP Warriors. Answer all 3 questions.
      2. Once you are accepted into the group, make a post describing your situation and you’ll be connected with a team that will connect you with meds and guide you through each step of the process until your cat is cured (or help you figure out if it’s not actually FIP). (You could even be assigned to my team! Depends on your state.)

      1. strawberry lemonade*

        Thank you! I ended up giving my cat her first dose last night. It’s definitely all a little overwhelming.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m so sorry!

      I second Alison: get your kitty in contact with FIP Warriors ASAP.

      Also, on that front: a friend of mine is a vet tech and does a lot of fostering. She told me the other day that a veterinary pharmacy near her has started to sell a legal cure in the US! It’s still quite expensive (1.5k for the whole treatment I think) but progress is happening!!!

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I remember when it was $10,000, and it was still $5,000 a couple years ago. And I’ve had a kitten die of FIP in the years before there was a treatment. I know it’s expensive, and hard, but having a legal option (and a pill! No painful injections daily for 90 days) that costs about $1,500 still feels incredibly positive. I look forward to even more progress on treatment, of course, and it’s far from perfect, but it’s a horrible disease where there is finally some real hope.

      2. carcinization*

        I just paid 1.5K to fix my cat’s upper respiratory infection, so that doesn’t sound like a lot at all TBH.

  12. Heffalump*

    When I got my 2005 Honda Civic, it had 2 keys and 2 fobs—each fob on a keyring with its companion key. If you have a reasonably new car, you’ll know that you need the fob to disarm the anti-theft system; otherwise turning the key in the ignition does nothing. A couple of months ago I lost one key and fob. I felt that I needed to replace them quickly—if I lost the other key and fob, then I’d really be in a pickle.

    I first called the locksmith I’ve used for years for house keys and the like, and they said they could cut a duplicate key, but they couldn’t pair a replacement fob to the car. I figured there was nothing to do but go to my local Honda dealer. When it was over, my wallet was $540 lighter. If they hadn’t had the remaining key and fob to work from, it would have been even more expensive, aside from having to tow the car to the dealer.

    For future reference, I asked on my local Nextdoor.com group if anyone had any suggestions for future reference. A couple of people recommended a particular locksmith, and I contacted him. He said he could have made the key and fob for $215. You can bet I made a record of his contact info!

    Something else to know in this situation: When you pair a new fob with the car, the existing fob no longer works, and you have to pair it with the car also.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Not something I need with my current old car, but definitely noted for the future!

      My piece of car advice is to call around for pricing if you know what needs to be done. I paid $250 including oil change for something that other places would have charged me $300, $400 or $500.

      1. Heffalump*

        When my regular locksmith said they couldn’t help me, I stopped there. In hindsight I should have called around some more.

    2. Terri E. Rathburn*

      I was able to get a new non-OEM Subaru fob and have jt programmed at an Ace Hardware for around 120. Car was a 2018.

    3. FACS*

      thank you for this! we are down to one key fob for a 2011 car and I did not know how to get another

    4. Choggy*

      My husband’s new car (Toyota Grand Highlander 2024) did not even come with a second key fob! And getting the second one seems to be about the luck of the draw dependent upon what month the car was purchased! We would be screwed if he lost the one key fob. I am asking him to keep contacting the dealership, I think it’s extremely important, but he doesn’t seem to think so, which is odd for him.

    5. LizB*

      Ooh, extremely good to know that there are less expensive options for getting a new fob! I have the kind where the physical key slots into the fob and can be extracted by pushing a button, and the loop that you attach to your key ring is all part of the physical key… I looked down one afternoon after running errands to find just the physical key on my keychain. Somewhere during the day I must have pushed the button by accident and not noticed the fob falling off. (A friend was driving, so I didn’t look at my keys until I got home.) I want another one so I have a spare, but I don’t $500 want it. $200-250, now, that I can handle.

  13. Relocating*

    It looks like I’ll be moving this summer halfway across the country for an amazing job opportunity. It will be great career advancement and really good financially as well.
    However, I have a house I love love love. Seriously cannot emphasize how much I love this house. It makes no sense to keep it as I would not move back in the future (the only thing really tying me to current city is my house, close friends and family are in another state). So, how do I say goodbye to this house? I’m going to take tons of pictures and video but driving away is going to be devastating. Any advice for being able to handle it?

    1. ronda*

      are you really sure you will never move back? even if it takes a long time?

      if it is a possibility, find a property management company (really get a few estimates) and have them run the numbers for them to manage and rent out your house for you. If it sounds reasonable, hold on to the house for now.

      Otherwise, what are the things you really like about your house? document it with pictures, floor plans, etc. When you get to your new location find a realtor and have them look at all these things and see what they can find for you that hits those buttons. If you find one and after living there for a while, find out you love it more than your ‘old’ house, then it might be time to sell your old house.

      and if your do decide to sell your old house, it is best if you decide before ~2 years (to give you time to complete sale before end of 3rd year), because you can exclude the gain from your income (up to 250k if single) on a primary residence if you have occupied the residence for at least 24 months of the last five years.

    2. Rick Tq*

      First question, can you swing the current house expenses (mortgage, taxes, insurance) AND the same for your new home? If not, then selling your home when you move is just part of life.

      Also consider what you can do with any equity you have built up in your old home. You can’t roll it over any more but that $250k exclusion could let you get years ahead on your new mortgage.

      Good luck on your move, and remember sending things to a thrift store NOW will save you on boxes and moving expenses in the future.

    3. Rebecca*

      This probably sounds totally dorky, but when I moved from a house and city that I loved, I said goodbye to everything on the way out and thanked it for being such a great part of my life. Yes, I literally said things like, “goodbye room with the cool paint job, thank you for being a nice place to sit.” It helped in the moment of leaving.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        This is exactly my response when I’m leaving a place I’ve cared about. I tell the place how much I’ve loved living in it, and that I hope the next people love it as well; and how grateful I am to have had the house/apartment/whatever in my life for as long as I did.

        That does help with the leaving, and I’m glad to hear someone else thinks so.

      2. office hobbit*

        I was coming here to say exactly this. I did this when I left a cool old apartment I really loved and that I lived in during an important point in my life. I also wrote down a bunch of things I liked about it or fond memories from being there, folded the pages up, and sealed them in a jar. It feels like a physical manifestation of my time there.

        Of course, in my case I always knew I’d move out, so it’s a different situation to a house you own and may have planned to stay in forever.

        1. Charley*

          Yup, that’s what I did when my Dad moved out of my childhood home. “Goodbye staircase, thank you staircase!” It felt silly, but it really helped.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me of the Anastasia books, where the main character and her family move into a house from a NYC apartment. She’s very resistant, and when everything’s packed up writes on her wall in the closet: “This is my room forever. Anastasia Krupnik.”

        Then, when she goes into her dad’s study, she sees he’s written his name right next to the doorjamb with his fountain pen.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Maybe think great things about the new family that the house will be getting? Pretend its like a Pixar short where a bunch of different people and families live in your house over its lifespan and how it changes to fit them all. You are one of the people your house has sheltered, and after you it will be a great home for other people.

    5. BikeWalkBarb*

      I bought an amazing historic home I thought I would live in for a long long time. One of the things that came with it was a really wonderful pen and ink illustration of the house. I did end up moving out of the house and I took that picture with me as a memory. There’s something about the artistic rendering instead of photos that really captured it. You might think about commissioning a sketch or painting as a keepsake.

      And when I moved out of that house even though I loved many things about it I also got to move away from some things, like needing to upgrade the very old knob and tube wiring and needing to worry about putting a new roof on it. There are many things you love about your house and there are possibly also a couple of things that are not your favorite. Not to look for reasons to dislike it(!) but there might be a couple of things that you’re not sorry to leave, if that provides any weird sort of comfort.

      FWIW I’ve lived in several houses since then and found things to love about each of them. Those weren’t things that reminded me of the former home; they were the unique qualities of the home I was living in.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      Have you thought about commissioning an artist to make a drawing or painting?

      1. fposte*

        Coming to say this. One of my friends had a painting of my house commissioned for a Christmas present and one of my thoughts is how much I’ll treasure it whenever I move.

    7. Treena*

      Right before I start pack, I tidy everything and make it as gorgeous as possible, then take tons of photos. So nice to look back on!

    8. chocolate muffins*

      Houses can be like people sometimes, with souls and such. So I might say goodbye to a house in a similar way as you would say goodbye to a person.

      Were there things that you and your house liked to do together? Host parties? Sit quietly together with a cup of tea? Have loud music playing while you dance in your jammies? Whatever it is, maybe savor doing some of those things with your house before you leave, and maybe plan some kind of grand finale on your last night there. It could be a quiet grand finale, like wrapping yourself in cozy blankets and telling the house ways that you are grateful to it, just something to wrap up your time together in a meaningful way.

      For driving away, my thought is to honor your process and be gentle for yourself. Would it be possible to drive from your house to another place that’s special to you or enjoyable for you and spend some time there? Or plan something nice for yourself that day/evening, like a massage or a nice meal out or whatever would be comforting for you? Maybe ask a friend to be there with you during the goodbye if you think that might be helpful, or make plans to talk with a friend later that day or the next day so that during the hard parts you can look forward to processing with someone?

      This doesn’t sound easy and I am sending good thoughts to you. You’ve done hard things before and you’ll be able to do this one too, and get through to the other side.

    9. I take tea*

      This is timely. We just moved out from an apartment I absolutely loved, and I have a hard time letting go. It got to small and there are some changes in the area we don’t like, but I still miss it. I have accepted that I will feel sad for a while. Doesn’t mean it was wrong to move.

  14. goddessoftransitory*

    So.

    Last Saturday the apartment above us had their water heater tank break. Fifty gallons of water poured down all the way through the building’s walls and onto some poor woman’s car in the parking lot below. It didn’t cause too much water damage above (since it went right down) nor in the unit below; guess where it pooled?

    So now we have half our carpet ripped up and plastic sheeting surrounding dehumidifiers and fans; it’s eighty degrees in there, but nothing else is happening until Monday when they start hacking into walls and ripping down our cabinets to finish repairs.

    This is horrible enough, but we are STILL waiting to hear who–the company who owns the building or renter’s insurance–is going to pay for packing up our apartment and getting us an Air BnB for the duration of the repairs. The building manager is very on top of things and helpful but he can’t do anything until reports about lead and asbestos levels come in, and meanwhile we’re just supposed to sleep in this sweltering hellhole. My head feels like a possum convention!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Omg I’m so sorry. Any chance you could afford a night in a hotel or stay with a friend just to get some AC? I hope it’s sorted soon.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes, but…we have Peanut, our 17 year old cat, and don’t want to haul him around more than necessary–I’ve found two BnBs only blocks away and either one would work as a “base camp.” We could sleep, cook, and take care of him in a safe place while still being able to go to work and come here to pack stuff up and such. It’s really the best solution by a mile, but I’m afraid to go ahead and book without assurance that the building or the insurance will pick up the bill.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Fair, I wasn’t sure if there were pets involved. I hope you got some sleep last night.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            We did! Thanks to my shutting the damn things off as soon as I got home from work to cool off the apartment. They’re back on now, of course, but yeah, that’s the only way to deal with it for how.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      Ugh I am so sorry. I had a huge flood a few years ago in my condo from a washing machine malfunction. It was summer and wow, I remember so clearly the misery of the dehumidifiers and fans.

      It took us a few months to get everything sorted (and the people on the ground floor below me were out of their place for like 6 months, eek!) There is a lot to work out between the various insurance companies and contractors, so try to keep breathing and do not make any rash decisions just because you’re Sick Of It. I had to refuse a nice big check from the HOA master insurance carrier because I learned that to cash it could mean legally agreeing to the payout. I knew it was short by a few thousand and so I had to sit on it and wait until my dispute was settled before doing ANY work. It was worth to the tune of like $3k additional, so yeah. Be patient and read everything.

      Also, summer is when a lot of friends and neighbors travel. So ask around, you probably have more people willing to let you crash at their places than you realize. You might be able to couch-surf various apartments and houses of neighbor friends who are away at the beach
      or wherever.

      Good luck!

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

      OMG, I have been there myself. I am so very sorry that that happened to you all. That totally sucks.

      Please be super kind and gentle to yourselves while you’re going through this.

      It can be a looong process getting that kind of thing fixed, and this is a trauma that can be very unsettling — it can make you feel like your home isn’t your safe space anymore, you know?

      It sounds like your building manager is much better than mine, but also remember that you can also hire your own lead/mold/asbestos inspectors before and after the repairs if you need to do so for your peace of mind.

      Sending you and yours a big hug!

      1. Thank you question*

        I agree with Squirrel Nutkin’s point on hiring your own inspectors. In my experience once, I the one the company hired turned out to be more rigorous than ours.
        Also, do you have any photos, receipts, etc. you can gather for insurance purposes if relevant for replacing with higher quality than base level generic, etc.? Going to work during week and library or similar in weekends may help, too.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        We’re incredibly lucky that none of our actual property was damaged! Not so much as a wet coat–it was entirely structural/carpeting. Once they get the okay to go ahead, though, they have to cut into walls and take down the kitchen cabinets and I cannot stay here for that. That’s why I wish we could just find an Air BnB now and get settled; we could go back and forth easily to pack and store things and have a clean, actual space to relax in.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Your home not being your safe space is EXACTLY it. Everything’s a mess and takes ten times longer than it should (to through all the plastic sheeting and around the equipment and cables and such.)

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m sorry to hear that, what a nightmare! Sending best wishes that the insurance situation and everything else is resolved quickly and smoothly..

    5. Frieda*

      Call your renter’s insurance company again and explain that the condition of the apartment is unlivable (heat and humidity can be very hard on your health if you have any kind of other health concerns!) and you need some steps taken now. Can’t hurt, might help.

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

      What did your insurance say when you called them? They should really cover your expenses and then deal with going after the building’s insurance. There’s no reason they can’t get you moved out immediately.

    7. Indolent Libertine*

      If your renter’s insurance includes “loss of use” coverage, then I’d say you should make a claim with them, because that’s exactly what that coverage is for, and in that process give them all the info they will need so *they* can go after the building ownership if they want to, to recoup whatever they have to pay you. Same principle as car insurance; your company pays for the damage to your car, and if the other driver is at fault then your insurer will go after the other driver’s insurer to recoup their losses, sometimes even including getting your deductible reimbursed, but in the meantime your damage is fixed and you haven’t had to wait for the lawyers to finish squabbling.

    8. germank106*

      We had a huge tree fall on our (100 year old) house during a tornado. I filed a claim with our renter’s insurance and they paid for us to live in a hotel for two months. Eventually they ended up taking the landlord to court to get some of their money back.

    9. Zona the Great*

      I agree with a commenter above. You don’t care who pays. You demand action immediately because this is unacceptable. Under no circumstance do you suffer by default here. Not even for a night. Someone needs to make this right for you tonight.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I truly don’t care who shells out but am afraid that if I book without knowing who, the entity that’s supposed to pay can use that as an excuse not to if I pick wrong and it’ll take months to resolve.

    10. Banana Pyjamas*

      Oh man I feel for you. The kids and I just had our first full week home after a sewage back up. May your situation resolve quickly.

  15. PurlsOfWisdom*

    Anyone else excited for the upcoming Tour De France? Vingegaard and Van van Aert are back for Visma!! Cannot wait for the drama in this years Tour.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Yes! We are big fans of cycle racing in this house. The Giro was great and the Tour promises to be even better. Chills, spills, drama, beautiful countryside, chateaux – can’t wait. We just finished watching Netflix’s TDF: Unchained both seasons. All those old and middle aged men sitting in comfort on team buses and in cars yelling at young men to go harder – and dissing them when they lose. It’s a tough business.

    2. BikeWalkBarb*

      Annual tradition to watch at our house! My husband used to do a little local amateur racing so he does a lot of armchair analysis of the tactics. I ride but never raced so I haven’t had the experience he’s had of being in the pack. I find myself picking favorites every time out of the sheer drama of it all even though I don’t follow racing all the time. I felt my heart break a little when Cavanaugh had that terrible crash and didn’t get to set a new record for the number of stage wins.

    3. Bazzais10thisyear*

      Yes, but more for the scenery, chateaus, road side displays, crowds, for me the cycling is background noise to all that.

    4. HHD*

      I accidentally got my endurance racing obsessed partner into it last year and now we’re both very excited

    5. Yorkshire Tea Lady*

      Absolutely!

      It’s the one time of the year when I have the TV on in the background whilst I’m working, and the scenery is a great visual reset from my screens.

    6. Six Feldspar*

      Yes, I love the cycling! I don’t pay that much attention to the actual teams but I like the mix of sports, politics (as in team alliances/timing/strategies), landscapes and history.

    7. Angstrom*

      Yes! The grand tours are fun because there are so many races within the race, and all the human drama. Which domstique will get an unexpected stage win? Which young rider will exceed expectations? Which aging veteran will have one more glorious day? This year there’s Pog trying for the double, Remco in his first Tour, Roglic with his new team, and Jonas as a huge question mark. It won’t be dull…

  16. ThatGirl*

    Anyone have specific recommendations or avoids when it comes to travel pillows? We have a 9 hour red eye flight in July that I’d love to be able to sleep some on.

    1. Economy class*

      I’ve found most travel pillows don’t go high enough on the neck. They end up being a fat scarf with no actual support for your head. I’ve seen, but not tried Trtl travel pillow that has a plastic insert on one side to rest your head/neck against. Also high neck ones like Evolution have been recommended. There are a lot of strange designs out there. I have actually been most comfortable with a small pillow, or even a rolled up sweatshirt only if I’m in the window seat. I’ve also bought a sling footrest to just give me some different positions for my feet. It hangs on the tray table and doesn’t seem to bother the person in front.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I have the Trtl and I like it a lot. The u-shaped pillows never worked for me.

    2. Soft clothes for life*

      I really like the caldera releaf neck rest. It looks like a cervical collar neck brace, is smaller to pack than most pillows, and works really well. It costs about $20 on amazon, so not a huge commitment. Safe travels!

    3. Catherine*

      I love the trtl pillow, except for the part where I can’t use my noise cancelling headphones while wearing it!

      1. Just a name*

        I used the trtl on our last trip for the 1st time. It was great once I got it in the right place. I was able to use my over the ear noise canceling headphones (old Bose). Eye shades and even the retainer that I sleep in set the scene for sleeping. I also take one NyQuil to get to sleep.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just did a 10-hour flight (well, two of ’em– there and back) and got a Bcozzy pillow. I initially planned to get a Trtl but wanted something softer that could give me support in the front as well as on the sides. I don’t actually sleep well on planes regardless of the pillow, but I found this one to be really helpful. I have a tendency to jerk my head forward when I sleep and the Bcozzy helped me avoid that, plus it worked with my noise-cancelling headphones. I also liked that I could adjust it so I could lean my head to the side if I wanted to. While my sleep wasn’t great, I didn’t leave the flight with a strained neck, so that was a big help.

  17. The Rat-Catcher*

    I’m getting into calligraphy and would love any calligraphy-for-dummies type advice y’all might have for me.

    1. Knighthope*

      Amateur calligrapher here. A few questions to ask – Are you looking to do classic styles of calligraphy like you see on diplomas and special documents? Fun contemporary styles like on posters and greeting cards? Something edgy? Medieval? etc. Are you thinking pen and ink? brush pens? kids’ markers? chalk? Want to make cards or write out quotations? Address invitations? Create certificates? A little thought about these questions can help you focus because there are tons of styles, materials, videos, books, workbooks, and so on.

      Here are three sources I like:
      https://handlettereddesign.com/
      https://ensigninsights.com/
      https://www.amylattacreations.com/
      (I am in no way associated with these artists/businesses.)
      As with anything, practice is the key! 

    2. LD RN*

      Look online to see if anyone local offers lessons! I did a one day class through a stationary shop nearby. Actually made a day of it with some friends.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      If you have Instagram, there are some great calligraphy accounts there to follow. They can provide a lot of instruction and inspiration.

    4. Almost Academic*

      Very basic: Making sure to breathe and keep a light touch on whatever setup you are using! These have been the hardest things I need to continually remind myself of whenever I practice. Early on I would set up a timer or work with a friend to have us each remind each other.

      Only practice ~3-5 letters at a time before examining as you get started; it really helps to keep that close look and not train in bad habits early on. Old school, but I also suggest seeing if your library has an overhead transparency projector you can borrow (or take pictures and zoom in) – I found blowing up the letters I was working on really helpful for analyzing my technique and form.

      Finally, I found this list of pangrams extremely helpful! Have fun! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangram

  18. HannahS*

    Thank you all for recommendations a few weeks ago on getting my toddler to drink more fluids. This week’s question: occupying a toddler in a stroller.

    Once a week, we go visit a relative, and it’s about an hour away by foot. My 2.5 y/o falls asleep on the way home, but on the way there, she gets really bored and antsy after about half a hour. I don’t blame her, but I can’t let her get out and walk (major roads, narrow sidewalks, it would take us 3 hours,) and it’s really tiring for me to sing “The ants go marching one by one” for 30 minutes. I’d rather not use snacks or a screen as distraction. Any ideas? One parenting book said that French parents like sticker books but I have trouble picturing how to do that in a stroller.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      We did a lot of “I spy”. If there was a billboard or something that had a turtle on it I’d say “I spy a turtle! Can you find it?” We also would count things. How many fire hydrants? How many red flowers? You could also count buses, stop signs, blue things, etc.
      How many different kinds of vehicles you can see. Look for bikes, cars, trucks, motorcycles, even airplanes.
      A pinwheel or small flag might be fun sometimes.
      Can you do other songs or are they hung up on the ants one?
      When my kids were a bit older we would do things like “How many words can we think of that rhyme with CAN?”

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      It’s been a few years (my kid is 17 now!) but boy, I don’t know how we would have survived all the stroller walks without call-and-response songs. My son was incredibly active and needs to be engaged in something or else it was meltdown city.

      all the songs that have the kid contributing silly sounds or other nonsense. Raffi stuff is great for this. I’m sure there is a lot of newer music but some of our go-tos:

      Willaby-wallaby
      Cat goes fiddle-dee-dee
      Green grass grows all around
      Wheels on the bus (extra points if what’s on the bus gets wackier as you go. Like monkeys and spaceships and stuff)

    3. Kristina L*

      What about listening to audiobooks for kids? You might be able to check them out from the library.

    4. Kaleidoscope*

      a lot of people where I live have those trikes that the parents control.

      otherwise a baby backpack with a lead or leave earlier so you can let her out the stroller around the 30 mins mark for a little run around

    5. allathian*

      A baby trike with a handle so you’re still in control and can push when your toddler gets tired might help. They won’t be able to sleep on it, though.

    6. iced americano*

      Could you get one of those reusable sticker books and hole punch it so you can affix it to the stroller with a ribbon or something, so it doesn’t fall out even if your toddler drops it?

      My neighbors have a stroller that also has a little platform in the back (kind of like a scooter) their child was able to stand on when they got a little bigger – they could alternate going on the sitting part or going on the standing part. That would require new equipment, so maybe not as helpful – but it seemed like a game changer to them.

      1. Observer*

        You’re talking about a “buggy board”. And the good news is that for a lot of strollers, you can get it as an add on. So, I would definitely look into this.

    7. Mrs Claus*

      Snacks? Those little snack cups they can eat out of so she can pick her snackie.

      A drawing board? I think they’re called magnadoodles, or they were when I was wee.

      My toddler likes driving his toy cars along his prams roll bar. We count cars, point at the red cars, take detours to look at building sites. We also touch every fire hydrant and go “beep beep!”

    8. M*

      We took our toddlers on a long long car trip (never again!!!!) and some things i made kept them very entertained. One, I printed and laminated a whole bunch of photos of our family. The photos were about 3 inches square. I punched a hole in the corner of each and put them on one of those ring binders- I don’t know exactly what they are called but the ones that are just a metal circle. The kids could flip through the photos by themselves and the binder was much easier for them to hold than a book. These were their absolute favorite things,

      The second was an i-spy bottle. I put rice (or anything small) and tiny toys into an empty clear plastic water bottle (leave a little space for everything to move around) then sealed the lid with both glue and tape to make sure they couldn’t open it. They shake and turn the bottle to see if they can find the different toys. You can buy these too but i just made them. My kids were gaga about these. Because they find different things every time, they kept them engaged for longer than almost anything else.

    9. Observer*

      In addition, what are some toys she likes that you can attach to your stroller? There are some things that are designed to go on the front, so you could look at those to see if you get some good ideas, as well.

      Is there no way to take public transport one way?

  19. Thank you question*

    In cleaning out my attic recently, I found a pile of personal and professional thank you notes ranging from a few months to two years old that I intended to send. I must have been looking for stamps or my address book and been interrupted by a call or the needs of a family member. (It’s been hectic around here.) Some were from me and my students to library staff or tech support (I’m a teacher). Is it too late to send them?

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        100% agree!

        Oh, my gosh, I would love to get one of these. It’s so nice to be reminded that you had a positive effect in somebody’s life, even if it’s a while later.

    1. Isabel Archer*

      Definitely send them. It’s the thought that counts.

      Reminds me of an Erma Bombeck bit about how she’d fallen behind on correspondence after her youngest child was born. She picked up a letter she’d started with “The baby is potty trained,” crossed out “potty trained” and wrote “graduating from high school.”

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      It’s never too late to thank someone! I would include a “sorry/update” note just as a, well, sorry/update, but I would love getting a thank you from someone, no matter how delayed.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Me too! Plus—mail!

        There’s so little physical mail now that I’m always delighted when I get one.

    3. Thank you question*

      Thank you, everyone, for these encouraging answers! I am determined to be timely with thank yous, starting today, hence this reply!

  20. The Prettiest Curse*

    Fellow UK folks, election season is almost over. (Yay for 6-week election campaigns!) To keep this discussion weekend-thread appropriate, don’t tell me who you’re voting for and why, but DO tell me about any weird and quirky election stuff happening near you.

    Has Ed Davey fallen off a kayak in your local river? Do you get to vote for Lord Binhead because you live in Rishi Sunak’s constituency? Are your local Green and Tory party candidates having a wild love affair? Tell me about it!

    My local election quirk is that our sitting MP proudly announces in his campaign leaflet that he is a “bee advocate”. Good for him, but (thanks to this comment section), whenever I read it, my brain automatically goes to the phrase “full of bees”.

    1. Lexi Vipond*

      Nothing this time, fortunately. It was before the last Scottish election that a car followed me down the road shouting that it was Alex Salmond.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          I wish it had been. Although it always amused me that Salmond was succeeded by Sturgeon!

    2. English Rose*

      Nothing local that I know of, but amused by all the national shananigans going on with people who should know better betting on election dates, and everyone agreeing we shouldn’t give a certain goggle-eyed chancer so much air time but giving it to him anyway.

    3. NeonFireworks*

      I live along the Essex-Suffolk border and for the last few weeks it has been much too close to Clacton.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        While I’m complaining, I’m also much too far from Witham to have needed to see any campaign signs at all for Priti Patel.

    4. Gracie*

      I’m in one of this country’s several bankrupt cities. The debate appears to be get out the current MPs because clearly they’re not working out versus some of the misspending was their fault but the overall problem is the government at the top, so we need to KEEP voting for our current MPs to be able to kick out the government

      At the last local election we did vote out the Police and Crime Commissioner who, while in power, got suspended from driving for multiple instances of speeding near schools. So that was nice. Always good to not have an active criminal in charge of crime.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I have nothing right now, but years ago, in a previous neighbourhood, one of the parties that came up in the brochure for the local election was called Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol. They got more votes than the BNP, which I found absolutely delightful.

      Checked in earlier this year with a friend who now lives in that area, and unfortunately, that party was no longer advertising.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I wish I could go back in time to vote for the No Fruit in Main Courses Party!

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Looking from Ireland, I must say I love ye’re random parties and candidates. We don’t have anything like Lord Binhead here (actually, with our system, candidates like that could actually get elected if they tried it!)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I have to say, joke political parties and candidates are one thing that we do really well. There’s nothing quite as majestic as seeing the defeat of a well-known politician being announced while they’re standing on a stage next to a bloke dressed as an alien. I also love the tradition of everyone’s full names and vote totals being read out in alphabetical order by surname, so that it takes forever to get to the person whose result you actually care about while everyone discovers that Frederica Mongoose who got 23 votes has 5 different middle names.

      3. Ontariariario*

        Canada has the marijuana party, and they host a yearly marijuanathon on parliament hill!

        1. Sportdogs*

          we also had the Rhino Party, who wanted to knock down the Rocky Mountains, so we could easily see coast to coast .

      4. The Prettiest Curse*

        I love a good joke political party name. Back in the early 2000s, there was a Let’s Have A Party Party. I was hoping that they would be opposed by the Let’s Not Have A Party Party and the centrist Let’s Have The Occasional Party Party, but sadly they had the party-themed political Party beat all to themselves.

    6. Bobina*

      A coworker posted Lord Binheads policies and I would definitely vote for them if I could! This is where preferential voting would be amazing – one fun protest vote and then one boring realistic one

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Back when he was running for Mayor of London, I did like his proposed re-naming of London Bridge to Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
        The only time I remember a joke candidate actually getting elected in recent years was the time a bloke who campaigned dressed in a monkey suit got elected as Mayor of Hartlepool. He ditched the costume after getting elected, though.

    7. OxfordBlue*

      Nothing very exciting for me except that I have moved constituency due to boundary changes and didn’t realise this until I began receiving campaign leaflets. Unfortunately, I’d already donated £100 to the Green Party candidate in my previous constituency!

    8. Weekend Warrior*

      Despite sharing the Westminster system, we don’t usually rise to UK levels of political eccentricity in Canada, but we do have the surrealist Parti Rhinocéros Party. Their heyday was 1963-1993 after which a change in election rules sidelined them for a time but I see there’s still an active group. It was the brainchild of Quebécois creativity (see also Cirque du Soleil, Denis Villeneuve, etc) but has “candidates” across Canada. They’ve never elected a member of parliament but have come second and third in some surprising ridings.

      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhinoceros_Party for their platform but just a flavour:
      *Rather than awarding money as prizes in the lottery, the winners would be appointed to the Senate of Canada.
      *Building one nuclear power plant per household, including monthly distributions of lead underwear to Canadians. Indoor lighting would then be provided by radioactive citizens.
      *Eliminate small businesses, and replace them with very small businesses, having less than one employee.
      *Repealing the law of gravity
      *Providing higher education by building taller schools
      *Instituting English, French and illiteracy as Canada’s three official languages
      *Amending Canada’s Freedom of Information Act: “Nothing is free anymore; Canadians should have to pay for their information”.
      *Making the Canadian climate more temperate by tapping into the natural resource of hot air in Ottawa.
      *Storing nuclear waste in the Senate: “After all, we’ve been storing political waste there for years”.
      *Declaring war on Belgium because a Belgian cartoon character, Tintin, killed a rhinoceros in one of the cartoons
      *Offering to call off the proposed Belgium-Canada war if Belgium delivered a case of mussels and a case of Belgian beer to Rhinoceros “Hindquarters” in Montreal (the Belgian Embassy in Ottawa did, in fact, do this)
      *Banning guns and butter, since both kill
      *Counting the Thousand Islands to see if the Americans have stolen any
      *Knocking down the Rocky Mountains and building giant bicycle paths sloping downhill in both directions, so Canadians could coast from coast to coast.

    9. An Australian In London*

      My electorate was decided by fewer than 200 votes in the last election.

      In that last election I foolishly wasn’t thinking and voted by habit in the Australian way (vote for you who actually want) rather than what has to be done in non-preferential systems (vote to keep out the ones you don’t want). I won’t make that mistake again this time, so the incumbent’s ~160 vote lead is now a ~159 vote lead, assuming everyone else votes the same way again.

      It’s kinda exciting thinking I may be one of only 161 people changing the MP for my electorate.

    10. anon in uk*

      The local Tory candidate dropped off some pamphlets. The people in my building seem to have collectively decided that the right place for these is all over the floor mat so that we can step on them as we pop in and out.

    11. Jill Swinburne*

      I’m an overseas citizen voting for the first time! Up till now that hasn’t been allowed. I’m having a family member vote by proxy though, because there’s no way I’d be able to receive and return a postal vote in the two weeks they give you.

      I registered because I’m still bitter about being excluded from the Brexit vote (I think all UK citizens should have been given a say, regardless of residency) so I’m taking my chance now. Also, other reasons that are too political for here ;-)

      That said, I thought it was daft that you had to register in the last electorate you lived in. I have not lived there for a very long time, despite regular visits back (and it feels a bit moot anyway because it’s a safe seat for the party I’m voting for). I’d have liked them to do what other countries have done and set up an overseas constituency, with a Minister in charge, but hey ho.

    12. Dark Macadamia*

      Not UK, but one of my state’s candidates for governor has the last name Mullet and I’m starting to see signs that say “it’s Mullet time!” I guess if you have a dumb last name you have to lean into it, lol.

      Also, one of my neighbors at the end of a dead end street got this giant sign shaped like Joe Biden’s head and it’s SO CREEPY. I was surprised when I got close enough to realize the text is in support of him because it honestly looks evil.

  21. Trying a new parenting thing*

    Parents! I am trying to create a sticker chart for my kid. He is five and a half and intrigued by the idea. There are oodles of templates out there, but I’m struggling a bit with the formulation of goals or things I want to change in a way that is maximally understandable, achievable and realistic. I’d love to just read some examples of what people picked for their kid, how it went, all of that anecdotal stuff. My Google fu is failing me here, though, because I just keep turning up blank customizable templates.

    Does anyone have any resources or any stories to share? Thank you in advance!

    1. I didn't say banana*

      I’m a child psych and we encourage sticker/reward charts all the time because they work so well! Ideally you’d chose one thing to work on (e.g brushing teeth) and make it achievable in a short space of time (e.g. after 14 instances so they could achieve it in a week). And then the reward should be something that grows the relationship between you and your kid, e.g. taking them out for ice cream, buying a craft kit to do together. Then you can increase the time needed to achieve it and increase the reward size. Don’t forget to involve your kid in the process of making the chart and putting on the stickers or stamps. Good luck :)

    2. Not A Manager*

      If he wants a sticker chart, why don’t you ask him what his personal goals are and work on some of those?

      1. Trying a new parenting thing*

        I think his personal goal is to own the stuffed whale he saw at the store. It is far between grandparent visits, his birthday and any other gift giving event or possibility. I’m open to using it as a reward, but it is far too expensive to just give him…

        I’ve wanted to have some sort of system for positive rewards for a long time, but previously they haven’t worked: all rewards immediately became the assumption of normal for him going forward and that caused more disruption than it was worth. There are some existing mechanisms for rewarding good behavior in our daily routines, but they are very short term and immediate. There isn’t tracking over time or working toward something larger. I think he is ready for that and open to it in a way that he wasn’t say, for example, six months or a year ago.

        I have other plans for shared activity sorts of rewards, but I’m OK with him having the first one be a thing and also a larger thing.

        1. Double A*

          Lol so true about their personal goals. “Get the thing I want right now.”

          So I don’t do sticker charts with my 5 year old because she just does not connect action and consequence (my youngest I think will be a different beast because he totally does), but I do give her an allowance. She gets $5 a week, and $1 is for savings and $1 is for helping (charity) and she gets $3 to spend. This is nice when we’re shopping and she wants something because she gets to decide if she wants to spend her money, if she has enough.

          You can then easily adapt an allowance into a specific savings goal for a specific behavior or chore. And you could adapt it to a sticker chart by noting the price of the thing he wants and keeping track of how close he is (obviously you can adapt this…like the whale is $30 but that would take too long, you can make it $10).

          Our decision is that allowance is unconditional (I call it our universal basic income) but they can earn more for specific tasks and chores that are above and beyond basic chores. (This is a work in progress….right now she’s pretty spotty on even regular chores, ha).

          Also, the way I pay her is that I printed out a bunch of monopoly money. We have different envelopes taped to the wall for each category. We bring the money to the store and she has to count it to figure out how much she has and if she has enough. At the end of the year we’ll pick a charity and she’ll donate her helping money as part of our Christmas practice.

      2. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

        Don’t have a template but you might consider placing well rounded goals, one of each of the following: social, physical, intellectual, and emotional.
        Let him choose the goals! Sit down with him and teach him how to make a a goal. Discuss how to make appropriate, character building goals, and have him make a few goals and a plan. You can nudge him in the right direction, and steer him away from silly goals( picking up toys vs eating ice cream everyday)
        He’s gonna commit better to goals he had a say in, and it will teach him a valuable lesson.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      I have made sticker charts over the years.
      For one kid (4 yrs old) it was chores so we listed all the chores that we expected him to do:
      -empty the silverware from the dishwasher
      – take the dish towels to the laundry room
      -set the table
      – take the compost out
      – a general bonus for random good behavior this would be things like being helpful to his siblings without being asked, doing chores that aren’t his, getting through the morning without a meltdown, saying something kind…
      If he got a sticker for each chore/day for one week, he got to choose a tv show to watch on the weekend.
      For our older kid (8 years old)- during COViD I made a chart for all her subjects that she had to touch upon.
      I will say we weren’t the most consistent and also my kids are not externally motivated so the sticker charts didn’t last very long. The charts are still hung up on our wall, but act more like to do lists rather than any kind of reward system.
      One thing that has worked with chores is a spinner wheel- the kids didn’t like having to do the same chores over and over so we started spinning for chores.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Honestly if there’s not a behavior you need to reinforce it seems strange to use a sticker chart? It doesn’t sound like you need it and I wouldn’t want to waste the novelty of it then have it stop working when you need it later lol. But I’ve used a couple with my kids:

      Dinner – they’re picky and have trouble staying seated, so they earn a dinner sticker each time they stay at the table and try some of everything without complaining. The reward for a certain number of stickers is dessert (this also helps a bit with asking for treats constantly, although we still have them sometimes outside of the earned ones so it’s not the most consistent).

      Cleaning – they earn a sticker for putting away toys in the evening without complaining or needing a ton of reminders. These ones rarely get earned, lol.

      Bedtime – for awhile one of my kids was constantly sneaking out of bed and into the other’s room. We started doing a sticker for each night she stayed in bed, to earn the reward of a sibling sleepover. It was instantly effective to the point we didn’t continue with the chart for very long, now it’s just a routine that she stays in bed during the week and they get a sleepover on the weekend!

      1. Trying a new parenting thing*

        Oh there are absolutely things about his behavior that I wish could be better! Staying on task, for example. But that’s far too vague by itself. Also, he’s a wiggly kid and I want to make sure I’m not setting him up for awful feelings when he really CAN’T sit still. So looking for and reading actual examples I think would help me formulate that wish better, clearer, more appropriately. We’ll see. Thank you for your examples!!

        1. Hroethvitnir*

          You might have already looked into this, but without your child needing to be neuro divergent, if he is an energetic wiggler you might find recommendations for ADHD kids might help.

        2. Observer*

          I want to second @Hroethvitnir suggestion to look at ADD type suggestions, because many of them really work for kids who are just very energetic and “wiggly.

          In the meantime, look at some specific components of not staying on task or any other behavior and pick a couple that really matter.

          Keep in mind sometimes the obvious thing is not the real issue. Like your kid is “wiggly” and energetic, but is that actually the thing that keeps him from staying on task?

        3. ThatOtherClare*

          Hello dear parent! I come bearing several decades of professional experience working with children 6 and under, from my Mother. She has given me this wisdom to pass on to you:

          Wiggliness can be associated with focusing/attention difficulties, which can be associated with memory difficulties. If you find him saying ‘I forgot’ a lot when, for example, you ask him if he put his backpack away – please consider that he might be telling the truth.

          For example, it might be unfathomable for a person with good focus to imagine that a boy could truly forget to hang his bag on the hall peg instead of dumping it at the door – it’s just laziness, surely? The peg is right there! But when he comes in the door he is immediately assailed by a barrage of thoughts: “Home! Yay! I’m hungry. What’s for afternoon tea? Then should I play with my cars or read my book? What about my new Lego kit? Jack’s Lego truck at show and tell was so COOL today! What should I bring for my show and tell?…..”. The bag is shrugged off with a quick subconscious muscle movement and he dashes off to fullfill the thoughts of his whirring brain. So what can a parent do about this? 4 things.

          Firstly, lots of verbal and physical rewards for doing the right things. There’s no harm in letting your face light up and enthusiatically saying “Great job!” or “Nice work!” every single time he (e.g.) puts his bag up. He won’t get lazy or greedy from verbal affirmations. He’ll come to associate the action with pride instead of guilt and shame (for all the times he’s forgotten it) so his subconscious will remind him to do it more readily. Throw in the occasional hi-five if you like. A trip to the park or the pool will be a better reward than a new toy, generally, and cheaper, too.

          Secondly, he might need lots of regular verbal reminders. Keep your tone happy and positive. It’s no big deal, you’re not mad or frustrated (on the outside), but you’re also not budging. If he still needs ongoing reminders for twice as many years as other kids, that’s ok. Just stay positive and encouraging and he’ll get there.

          Thirdly, if his attention moves quickly, he might benefit from a lot of in-place reminders. A toothbrush poster on the back of the bathroom door, bag hooks at eye level, duplicate chore posters in multiple rooms etc. If possible, switch them up often. You could print out a new clip-art toothbrush every second Friday, for example. Once his reminders become ‘part of the furniture’ his brain won’t ‘see’ them any more, despite the highest levels of goodwill and intent on his part, so you do need to change them up in some way, on whatever schedule you observe to work most effectively. Some trial-and-error will be involved, but you’ll work it out.

          Lastly, physical kids are better than most at encoding things in muscle memory. If you can come up with, for example a ‘coming home dance’ where he takes his shoes off, twirls around twice, hangs up his bag and cha-chas his way to the kitchen to put his lunch box in the sink, it will stick in his much better in his mind than the tasks alone will. Even better if you and any siblings do it with him until it sticks. Make it physical, make it lively, and make it social, and you’ll be giving him the best chance of success, far better than a motionless sticker chart will. Plus a silly cha-cha dance is again free (ignoring the small cost to your dignity, of course). Dancing to music or doing silly walks together while he puts away clean dishes or clears the table are more ways of ‘weaponising the wiggle’ to get some enthusiasm for chores. He’s still young enough that joining you in activities like ‘chicken dance dusting’ and ‘monkey walk tidying’ won’t sound weird yet. Just make sure you’re clear and firm that he can’t wiggle away and neglect the chore. The fun is the reward while doing the chore activity, not a distraction.

          Good luck and best wishes from both of us! We hope the establishment of chores and good habits goes well for all involved!

  22. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Looking for advice from pet owners who solved a cable chewing problem. I noticed bite marks on my second screen and HDMI cables (both of which are quite thick), so want to cover them up with protectors. Is there a specific product you’ve used that you’d recommend? I’m overwhelmed by hundreds of identical Amazon listings at the moment.

    1. Belvedia*

      I have an anti-recommendation. I bought this 5+ years ago: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CVDVG25/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      It was cheap, you get a lot, and it works… BUT it’s nearly impossible to get onto your cords unless they have a very small plug on one side. Definitely consider something that wraps instead of something like this– Thankfully my cats grew out of cord chewing, but if they hadn’t, I probably would’ve gotten rid of this and used something else, so ultimately it would’ve been a waste of money.

  23. Isabel Archer*

    Following up on the Vodka Chakha Khan playlist from a comment thread earlier this week. Songs, please!

    1. 248_Ballerinas*

      I missed that thread – what kind of songs are you looking for? I’m always up for helping with a playlist.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        It was on the “my employee puts on a show of being busy, but they shouldn’t be” post from June 18, 2024. Commenter Shellfish Constable wrote:

        “Vodka and Chaka Khan” is the title of one of my personal Spotify playlists. It is composed almost entirely of a musical genre we might call “women who are DONE with this bulls#¡t.”

    2. Professor Plum*

      Look on Spotify—there are several playlists there. Don’t know which belongs to the one that was mentioned during the week, but a couple of those lists look good.

  24. BikeWalkBarb*

    Cat owner needs advice here. My almost 4 year old cat has a terrible woolsucking habit. I had never even heard of this before him. I now think of him as a giant moth. He has chewed little (or big) scalloped holes out of the hems and sleeve edges of lots of merino wool base layers, round circles in other spots, holes in a good wool coat, bits out of the edges of various scarves. He has destroyed my knitting habit because I don’t dare get any wool out. Strong preference for natural fibers so points for having good taste. It’s genuinely fortunate that I have a lock on my closet door because if I don’t lock it he will paw and paw at the door to try to get in and eat my clothes and he has actually managed to work it open a time or two. Have any of you actually broken a cat of this habit and if so how?!

    I can also now definitively report that the dye in SmartWool persists through a cat’s entire digestive tract and into the litter box. That particular top was turquoise.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      You could try giving him a piece of genuine sheepskin, so that he can nuzzle and suckle that to his little heart’s content, and it will stand up to years of kneading. I have bought them in the past from opshops (charity shops) and garage sales, and washed them in the washing machine with a very mild shampoo (like baby shampoo). They take a while to air dry and the skin itself may become stiff but you can manipulate it back into being more soft just with your hands.
      If you have any friends with children who have grown up a bit, they may have a ‘baby’ sheepskin they don’t use any more – they used to be pretty common to line a baby capsule or stroller. Your cat will think all his christmasses have come at once, when he gets a sheepskin!

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Oh wow, this seems bad for the insides! Our vet warned us that if he eats any strings those can get wrapped around his guts in various ways and be very problematic. He does like the strings on those flimsy backpacks and any other stringlike objects (hence my no-knitting sadness) but so far this hasn’t resulted in any emergency vet trips.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Nesting fail–this was supposed to be a reply to a different comment on this post. I wish the interface let us delete comments!

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        Thanks for this suggestion. He definitely loves a soft velour blanket for kneading, although he doesn’t eat it, and this could be a winner. I’ve been a bit worried that if I give him something soft I’m just encouraging him but he’s clearly hardwired for this so I may as well try to shift him to something that’s all his. I’ll try my local Buy Nothing group.

        1. TPS reporter*

          my cat that likes string and fuzzy blankets also likes to suckle on brown paper insulation that you get with frozen items deliveries. it’s pure paper so I think its okay? he doesn’t appear to actually eat it.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      The softness of the wool probably reminds him of his mother; it’s common for cats to do kitten behaviours reminiscent of feeding from mum like kneading something soft blankets like they would knead her for milk. I’d rule out any obvious contributors to the issue, like stress, boredom, or medical issues such as dental pain, (especially if the behaviour is new), but if he’s just a cat who likes wool suckling (apparently more common in kittens weaned early but it’s not necessarily due to any cause beyond the fact they like it, like human thumb sucking). I’d probably go with natural fibre chew toys like catnip mice or silverline sticks. Basically train the cat to chew certain things and not others. If he’s still trying to get into your closet when he has alternatives to chew, consider if he has adequate hiding spaces.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        He does knead on soft blankets and holds a piece of them in his mouth while doing it, which definitely feels like the thumbsucking analogy, although he doesn’t eat holes in the blankets (synthetic fibers usually aren’t his preferred taste treat). He was weaned early–got him at a shelter when he was maybe 8 weeks old or thereabouts (COVID kitten). That does feel like a factor; when he was a tiny kitten he used to lie on my chest and try to nurse on a mole I have, which made me sad we got him so young. I had counted on the shelter not letting him go until he was ready to.

        This has been a habit for at least 3 years so I don’t think there are new factors or stressors. He has toys and we play with him. He has lots of the kitty condo climbing towers and places to hide including his carrier that’s always open with a bed inside it (so that he’s comfortable with it and doesn’t mind being transported when necessary), has a soft blanket on one of the cuddle spots on a climbing tower that I put a heating pad under for occasional extra warmth. He has a pretty good life. The closet entry effort is very definitely about the clothing; he lurks outside when I go in there and tries to get in and if he succeeds he goes straight to something to chew on. I’m lucky it’s a walk-in so I can shut him out while I think about what I want to wear.

        He’s not a catnip cat, which I understand is a genetic factor. I tried the sticks and he didn’t care about those either. I’ve half-resigned myself to protecting my clothes from him for the next 14 or so years (if he lives to be 18) but if I can redirect him to sheepskin as Lizzie suggested that would be a huge win. I’ll do that with some rewards; I’ve had pretty good success keeping him on his scratching posts rather than furniture by catching him doing the right thing and giving him a dental treatment tasty bit.

        I’m writing this with him curled up on one of those soft blankets on on my legs, every so often scooching down so he’s just about reached my feet, dozing and purring a bit. Of course he’s cute now while I trash talk him.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I’m laughing at the turquoise surprise in the litterbox – but sympathetic to the problem! One of my sister’s cats was into wool, and it did require a new set of habits to keep wool-based items safe from the cat (and vice versa).

      One of her current cats likes plastic, as in those thin plastic bags or anything else made of a similar texture of plastic; she switched to reusable cloth bags, but once in a while a shopping trip or a gift will result in the tempting kind of plastic getting into the house, and there’s usually a quick dive to pull it away from the cat before he swallows any.

      1. Myrin*

        I neighbours’ cat is absolutely obsessed with rubber and plastic! I have never seen anything like it! He has chewed through several laptop cables (thankfully never hurt himself), keeps nibbling on my rain boots (thankfully very sturdy!), regularly chews on backpack straps, would prefer the baggies his wet food comes in to the food itself if anyone let him (dude, get a grip!), and had completely unraveled our doormat by eating the rubbery outer layer.
        Last time I visited home, I noticed that the doormat seemed considerably smaller and upon closer inspection realised that my mum had cut away the rubber he would always chew on and sewed the other parts really firmly together so that he doesn’t have any leverage. It seems to be working so far but good god.

    4. Rebecca*

      This is common in cats who were weaned too soon, and it can grow into pica, where they eat all sorts of non-food items which subsequently get stuck in their gut and require surgery. I’m no vet, but if your cat is 4 and doesn’t have pica, it’s probably not a risk, but just thought you might like the information.
      The usual advice for sucking cats is to re-direct from the thing you don’t want them sucking on to something better. A chat with your vet or a google search will help you find more info and advice.

  25. Not the Bee’s Knees*

    Looking for advice from the hive mind: months ago, during an athletic event due to a site owner’s negligence I slipped, peeling all skin off large sections of my knees. I kept things bandaged until recently and skin grew back without a scar, but the grown-in areas are much lighter (I’m brown-skinned, a minority). I’ve searched online but haven’t found a comparable case yet. It’s very hot out but I’ve been wearing pants all the time still because of the way my knees look. Any advice on reducing the shade difference? Thanks.

    1. English Rose*

      First, ouch! Second, I’m white-skinned, but had something a little bit similar – on my calf – where the skin ended up even lighter than usual. It took time I’m afraid – a good 18 months. Not sure if it would be the same for a brown-skinned person.

    2. Lighter scars*

      I too get lighter scars. My doc told me to cover & sunscreen the light areas from the sun the first year. Something about the sun or tanning the scar tissue makes it stay lighter longer. The rest is just time.

    3. AnonRN*

      Burn nurse here and unfortunately from what I see it just takes time. A lot of time. I’ve had patients come back with healed skin months later and they still have pale pink areas. It happens with all skin tones but is more noticeable in people with darker skin because the rest of the skin has lots of melanocytes (unlike a light skinned person) and the healing area has to regrow them.

      Wish I had a better answer for you! Protecting the skin from sun is a good idea, so your long pants are serving a dual purpose. If you’ll be indoors, maybe stockings would help hide the area (if you would consider wearing stockings). I don’t want to get too close to medical advice but your injury is like a burn or road rash, so using those search terms might help you?

    4. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Maybe look into Dermablend? It’s a makeup that’s often used to hide tattoos, scars, etc., so I think it would be pretty long-wearing in addition to offering good coverage. Check Ulta or Sephora if you’re interested.

    5. o_gal*

      Maybe a scar cream like Mederma might help. I think it’s supposed to help blend scar tissue so that it goes back to the skin’s natural color. It might be worth trying. And seconding the recommendation for Dermablend.

    6. Roland*

      Skinned my knee once and it took years until that area was the same color as the rest of my skin. In my case the new skin was reddish compared to my very light skin, so the times might be different for your coloring, but that was my time-frame. Sorry! At least it’s a story. And I know it’s easier said than done but I hope you can work towards wearing whatever you like to wear without worrying about it because you deserve to feel comfortable.

  26. Cats in hats*

    What show do you wish ended either differently or a season or two early?

    Mines Modern Family. I would have loved for Hailey to end up with Andy. If they would have ended the show when he went back home, I think I would have been happier than what the last episodes played out to be.

    1. Vio*

      Veronica Mars Season 4 ending just a few scenes early would’ve been a big improvement. I get what they were going for with the ending but it just felt needlessly cruel.

      1. Helvetica*

        I choose to believe that it ended with the movie, and that season 4 does not exist. It’s easy to do since I’ve not watched season 4 after hearing about the ending.

        1. Vio*

          The rest of Season 4 is worth a watch, it’s really only the very, very end of the last episode that lets it down.

      2. Whip*

        Seriously. I’ve been a huge Veronica Mars fan from the beginning and that one scene obliterated my desire to rewatch. If they were going for a hard stop to the franchise, it absolutely worked.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Breaking Bad would have ended on a much higher note if they’d stopped one season earlier.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel started out with so much promise and then had so many characters do inexplicable turns.

      The final season of Lost should have been the people on island figuring out that they had to stop the two petty gods from crashing any more things into the island and then killing the survivors, while the flash sideways showed how their lives worked out if the island was destroyed a few decades ago and so not able to mess with them.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We’ll see how it goes on rewatch, but Justified seasons 5 and 6 I recall as being well below the peak of Season 4. Like they ran out of interesting stories and coasted on the appeal of the characters.

        Which in hindsight might be why I never got into the spinoff–they were out of interesting stories to tell. Almost like some sort of deal with the devil at a crossroads at midnight situation.

        Season 4 is a masterpiece, though, and while it stands alone it’s even better when you know the characters.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I really wished the final season of Mrs Maisel had stuck with the format of the first episode of that season – I thought the opening scene with her daughter in therapy was so compelling and would’ve loved to see that character more as well as the son, but then they just were like okay we’re going to do all kinds of random flashforwards now! Felt like a waste of really excellent casting because both of the adult kids were so good. Would’ve liked more of the Hedy story too – it just feels like they wanted to drop a lot of hints for shock value instead of telling a real story.

    4. Clear choice*

      BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER should’ve ended when they graduated high school, or at least before Dawn was added.

      And I refuse to admit WEST WING continued without Alan Sorkin.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        As with Veronica Mars, a lot of the atmosphere rested on how as a high school student you ARE trapped right there. Once you’re 18 and have the option to move… you should stop living on the Hellmouth.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        For me, I’m always torn with Buffy because The Gift is a perfect ending and makes such a good bookend to Prophecy Girl. But the season 7 ending is ALSO good, and I would hate to miss the enjoyable season 7-7 episodes even though there are a lot of bad ones too!

      3. Goldfeesh*

        I happened to start watching Buffy when Dawn was added. I found watching the first couple seasons odd without her and missed her.

        1. Clear choice*

          Dawn made more sense to me when I later learned she’d been written as a 10 year old but the network insisted on a teen being cast. At the time, though, she seemed like a whiny brat who constantly got into trouble just to give Buffy something to do.

    5. Ane*

      I don’t know if this counts (possibly too drastically a change/cut) but IMO Once Upon A Time should have ended 4 seasons earlier.
      Upon reading your question I even dug up an old comment I made about it earlier last year lol:
      Halfway through season 3, with episode S3.E11 ∙ Going Home would have been the perfect time to stop. It has the second highest rating on IMDB, it has a good resolution, it has redemption for our “good” villains, it ends on a hopeful note and we got introduced to interesting characters but the writing was worse than the previous seasons so viewers could agree that “yeah better stop while it is still good”.

      1. ecnaseener*

        The sad truth about OUAT is it peaked in season 1 and slowly, then quickly, declined from there.

        1. Ane*

          That is so true. I mostly/only enjoy Alternative Universe fanfics. The basic premise and the characters had so much potential.

      2. Le le lemon*

        That show had such good promise and intrigue, and yet it panned out like there was no real master plan behind it. Sigh.

      3. Banana Pyjamas*

        My unpopular opinion is that if I rewatch Once Upon a Time, I would probably only watch the last season. I actually love the last season, but it probably should have been a spin-off rather than a continuation.

    6. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      Prison Break should have combined season 3 and 4 into one shorter season, thus keeping away from some of the more outlandish shenanigans.

      Game of Thrones is probably a prime example of a show whose latter seasons disappointed, though I might be in the minority by thinking that it could have been saved by some smaller tweaks and one or two additional episodes dealing with the white walkers.

      Scrubs shouldn’t have tried to add another season on top, and just stopped or done a proper spin off.

      1. ThatGirl*

        The real series finale of Scrubs was great, in this house we don’t count the spinoff season :D

    7. Everyone is different*

      Law and Order. They should have either not ended it or should not have brought it back. The current version seems too superficial.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree they shouldn’t have ended it in the first place but I don’t mind the new one. Interesting though, how much turnover there is among the detectives.

    8. Rain*

      Criminal Minds should have ended when Hotch left.

      And I refuse to acknowledge the reboot – no Reid, no show.

    9. Trina*

      Supernatural should have ended after season 5 – the finale pretty clearly feels like the writers thought it WAS ending and left it at a pretty clean stopping point. Some of the individual episodes after that point are still fun and worth watching, but the overarching plots not so much.

    10. fposte*

      Dirk Gently should have ended before the second season. And also before its creator was horrible, but that’s probably harder to pull off.

        1. carcinization*

          I’m assuming they mean the show and not the book, the show was pretty different from the book!

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Babylon 5 was originally written to be a five season story arc. The showrunners were told they were done at the end of season 4, so they sliced and diced and stirred and finished the series at the end of season 4, everything all set and sorted, no cliffhangers, it was properly done.

      And then the network came back and was like “that was amazing! You managed that so well that you have a fifth season after all!” So the fifth season is just kind of a bunch of filler.

      1. allathian*

        It’s not as strong as the other seasons, but B5 is pretty much my favorite show ever, so I’ll take it. Even a mediocre B5 episode is better than most shows out there.

        The last two seasons of SG-1 were not nearly as good as the earlier ones. The show wasn’t the same without Richard Dean Anderson. I also felt that the entire storyline with the Ori was tedious. I loved Claudia Black and Ben Browder on Farscape, not so much on SG-1,and I hated that they avoided promoting Amanda Tapping’s character Sam to team lead by bringing in Ben.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh for sure! I just would have liked to see where it all went if they hadn’t had to shoehorn the storyline into four seasons and then fill in the fifth. :)

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      X Files once Duchovny left. It just wasn’t the same, and the reboot couldn’t capture the magic.

    13. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m still pretty upset that The OA ended with deadnaming a central character, and thought that was okay.

    14. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m disappointed with the…I was going to say latest but it’s only latest to RTÉ; the BBC are a season ahead of us…season of Father Brown.

      It just seems to have become a bland formula. There is an event about to take place in the village. Father Brown and his friends and sometimes the local police are waiting for it to begin along with five people we haven’t met before. One of those five is murdered. Another seems like the obvious suspect and the policeman inspector arrests him or her. Father Brown visits them in prison and they tell him something they can’t tell the police, like that they are covering for something. Father Brown questions the other three suspects, finds the vital clue and confronts the villain. Then the last scene is the event finally taking place.

      I guess that was always the format, but the solutions were sort of in-depth and you felt some sympathy for the killer who often seemed to be in a desperate situation. Now, it’s like “you murdered him because he was in love with your wife, didn’t you?” or in one case, “you murdered him because he knew you’d been in prison under a different name” and…it didn’t even tell us what the guy had been in prison for or anything.

      I guess they’ve done over 100 episodes in about 10 years. It’s unsurprising they’d start running out of originality.

      *we do get BBC here, by the way, but the show is on in the afternoons when I’m at work, so I wait for it to come to RTÉ where I can watch RTÉ Player.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree–I still love the show, but once the reporter left it went downhill for me. (Although I loved the ep where she and the cop finally got together and he answers his hotel door; she’s standing behind him, literally glowing with the great sex they clearly just had! Fab moment.) Also Bunty taking off–she was so great, and her striptease in one episode was a work of art.

        Also, I am a little sick of “tiny gem-like village existing out of time but the entire world happens to show up to host cooking/dancing/singing contests that are televised.”

    15. Anon Poster*

      How I Met Your Mother, which is the most basic answer ever, but I will literally die mad at this show. I don’t even know when I’d choose to end it, but definitely several seasons earlier. The last few were a real slog, but I kept up with it because Jason Segel’s movie career was going well enough that I thought he’d want to leave, and they’d just go ahead and wrap up the show. But that never happened, and I’ve never regretted sticking with a show more.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        I was mad about the Robinified ending for a long time but recently read something that made me rethink – that basically the entire show was Ted telling the story of him and Robin, even without knowing it. Whoever was writing the thing I read pointed out that Ted is an unreliable narrator, which makes a ton of sense to me but which I wasn’t thinking about while I was watching the show (I mostly didn’t think about the fact that the audience is privy to a story he is telling rather than being objective third party observers). So even if his goal was to talk about the person he ended up marrying, what he actually ended up doing was taking a lot of detours in the story and focusing on a person that he had a bunch of unacknowledged feelings for. Maybe none of that matters to anyone else who hates the ending of that show but this perspective really shifted my thinking.

        My own contribution to this thread is This Is Us. The beginning was excellent and then it went off the rails when COVID happened. I felt like the show was trying to say something about COVID but everyone working on the show was too close to it while they were making those episodes, so they didn’t know what to say. The last season was somewhat better than the initial COVID season but nowhere as good as the beginning of the show.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I agree that it was the story of Ted and Robin. But I have no patience with storylines where I am supposed to root for the two people to get together, even though they have had plenty of opportunity and couldn’t make it work. (Looking at you, Castle.) In the last season (the one I watched live, after catching up with the show streaming while sick in bed) I would skip any episode described in the promo as “Ted or Robin wonder What If…” because I was so beyond done with that storyline.

          For me, Penny dies = poignant storytelling, but Ted just needed a dead baby mama so he could be with Robin = gross. (I don’t consider “but the kids are old enough not to need a babysitter!” as “doesn’t have kids.”)

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I remember when Heroes did the same thing back in the day–it started so great and then the strike totally derailed things. Never got back on track again.

    16. UsuallyALurker*

      For an older one, I thought Night Court would have been better if it ended after season 6. Or at least if all the season finales after that point had been better. But the Harry/Margaret and Christine/Tony plotlines were some of the weakest in the show. And the show ending with Bull apparently abandoning his new wife to leave with some aliens? It just stopped being fun.

      1. Ane*

        Oh yes, hard agree.

        And if we could change a character as well, I vote for Irene Adler. The canon version beat Holmes on account of her intelligence and being good with costumes just like Holmes and his bias – a much more interesting basis for plot than *gasp* sex!!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        “A story about a smart person, written by a stupid person who thinks that smart people are indistinguishable from wizards.”

        I found the first season really good and second enjoyable. By the third I was like “Having the other characters read lines about how this insight is brilliant does not actually make it sound brilliant.”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I literally thought the show would go through all the stories, but then it turned into the Holmes Family Soap Opera.

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

      *Charlie’s Angels* should have ended after Kate Jackson left. Cheryl Ladd managed to replace Farrah Fawcett okay (I think the “Kris is Jill’s little sister” thing helped, as did having Farrah come back a few times), but no one could replace Sabrina.

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

        P.S. Fun fact — the British royal family were big *Charlie’s Angels* fans in the ’70s.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          So was I, tbh!
          I also loved Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter kicks ass on social media too, lol.

    18. Clisby*

      I wish the American version of House of Cards had been planned with a clear ending point, like the British version was. I loved the British version. I loved the first season of the American version, and the 2nd was pretty good. By the third, it was clear they had Lost. The. Plot. The series was a critical success, and it seemed like they decided they’d just milk it as long as they could, whereas the British version was a trilogy, like the books it was based on.

  27. Vio*

    I’ve recently started going to the gym to improve my health and all is going well except for the music they play there. Obvious solution is to bring my own, but unfortunately I’ve never been good with headphones due to sensitive skin on my ears. Ear buds are even worse. Anyone have tips on (preferably wireless) headphones that are comfortable for sensitive skin and exercising?

    1. Annie*

      My solution to the sensitive ears problem when I wore headphones was to take a pair I otherwise liked and wrap a no-show sock over each ear muff. My mom is a fan of around-ear headphones because they’re butting against the head rather than the ears.

      Combining those two should get you what you’re looking for.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      I have an avid gymgoer friend who swears by bone conduction for his music. Maybe?

        1. Double A*

          Bone conducting headphones are amazing! This was going to be my suggestion. I find them very comfortable.

        2. BikeWalkBarb*

          I have a bone induction headset by Shokz. They don’t shut out ambient sound, which is what I wanted since I use them sometimes on a bike ride for route directions. When I really want to focus on their sound and not ambient sound I put earplugs in. I don’t know if that combo would work for you with the sensitive skin.

          I like these because they’re lightweight and I can let the connecting part rest on my neck, not on top of my head which I don’t like. The one downside comes from using them in a day with a lot of back to back meetings when I wear them for hours on end; my cheekbones feel kind of weird afterwards as if I can still feel the headset, similar to the way you’ll experience a phantom buzz from your cell phone. But for a gym session that wouldn’t come up.

          1. BikeWalkBarb*

            More accuracy on the brand and model: I have Trekz Air by After Shokz. I guess the Z in the name represents the buzzzz….

            1. Charley*

              I have AfterShokz as well, but they sit so loosely on my head that I can’t use them for exercise or anything with much motion. Is there a way to adjust them that I’ve been missing, or is it just about sizing?

  28. Falling Diphthong*

    What have you been reading?

    I read Rosewater by Tade Thompson. It asks what if aliens arriving on Earth was less little green men in flying saucers, and more a blob that lands on Earth and puts out spores and doesn’t want to talk to you about what it wants. Rosewater is the city that grows up around one of these near Lagos. Kaaro, the main character, is a psychic who works for a bank (putting out a dampening field so other psychics can’t read passcodes) and the secret spy agency. I really liked how the psychic ability was rooted in detecting fungi in the air, and how this segued smoothly into fitting some fantasy tropes. Also that the world felt mundane and lived in, the fantastical becoming as routine as the phases of the moon. I have gotten the next two books in the trilogy.

    I have started The Appeal by Hallett. Epistolary novel (mostly emails) about the amateur theater troupe in a Quaint English Village who are at the center of an appeal for special medical treatment for the grandchild of the founding members. About a quarter through and it’s very engaging, though we don’t yet have a dead body. (I infer from the cover that one will be dropping, and then we’ll follow the case through more emails.) Would recommend for fans of Agatha Christie or Death in Paradise.

    1. Valancy Stirling*

      Both books sound lovely! Especially The Appeal, I’m a sucker for a good epistolary novel.

      I’m reading Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Fairies. It’s a historical fantasy about an expert in the Fae who goes to a small rural town to study a particular type of fairies. I’m halfway through and I’m obsessed.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I loved the Emily Wilde book and am in the queue to get the next one from my library.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I just finished The Appeal and it was really good. And got quite funny as I hit the middle–the sort of humor that rests on knowing the characters.

        I like how the emails are not “Dear Mom, Here is a point by point recap of my entire day” but “Mom: Agh. So annoyed by aggravating person. Cannot believe she came by again…” and then “Dear Aggravating Person: So nice to see you this Tuesday….” It’s more about the feelings people have about actions than it is relating the actions themselves. And how we present ourselves to different people.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I just finished The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer, but my library doesn’t have the next book *sobs* I might just have to buy the whole series anyway, I already reread the first book while waiting for this one to be available.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m reading The Exchange by John Grisham. It’s the sequel to The Firm, set 15 years later (so about 2005). I’m liking it better than his biloxi boys which is proving a slog with the first couple hundred pages explaining various characters and their history and connections. Who cares?

    4. GoryDetails*

      As distinct from sarah’s pleasant-surprise/disappointment book-thread, I enjoyed:

      The Z Word by Lindsay King-Miller, which opens with protagonist Wendy dreading a Pride party because her ex-girlfriend will be there with her new lovers. (Turns out Wendy torpedoed the relationship herself, but that doesn’t make her feel any better about it.) But it turns out there’s something much worse afoot than broken hearts: an escalating plague of a zombie-like nature devastates the neighborhood. The story’s rather intense and gritty – the many degrees of personal relationships make the inevitable deaths more impactful, with new found-family elements coming in as the survivors adjust to their situation. (Favorite character: Sunshine, the nonbinary pizza-truck driver and very well-prepared zombie-slayer!)

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Putting this one on my library list. Fortunately I have vacation the next couple of weeks with lots of time to read.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Anecdotally in life, I’ve noticed that the person with Very Strong Feelings about how their ex is moving on too fast is almost always the person who torpedoed that relationship. (This was a detail in Funny Story that really helped the emotions ring true.)

    5. beware the shoebill*

      I just finished a few as part of a challenge I’m doing this year where we read books we own but haven’t read yet, plus some classics we’ve always meant to but never gotten around to.

      My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber. I love his fairy tales so I was excited to read more of his, and it was fine, entertaining short stories, but didn’t draw me in like I expected.

      The Plague and I by Betty Macdonald. Amazing, beautiful writing about bizarre experiences. It provides a fascinating look at medical history and it quite funny. I read this one after reading the Egg and I which was also good, but the casual racism turned me off a bit so I didn’t like it as much as this one, where there is definitely racism present but it’s not perpetuated by the author.

      The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Also extremely good, though I had a bit of trouble keeping track of whose stories were connected to whose. Really engaging portrayal of different perspectives/realities.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m listening to Starling House by Alix E. Harrow on audiobook and it’s so good! I like how it feels a bit like a modern, supernatural Bronte novel but doesn’t feel the need to hit you over the head with it like “omg remember Jane Eyre? remember Wuthering Heights?”

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m reading Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. It’s a cosy mystery with a plot that’s dragging quite a bit in the middle, and it sometimes seems to be trying too hard to be funny, so I can’t say I’m loving the writing. But several parts are about loneliness, chosen family and characters lifting each other up during hard times, and I can’t get enough of those. I kind of need a grandmother-type figure that makes me delicious tea and says exactly the right things to help me work out what to do with my life.

    8. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      I’m currently reading No Windmills in Basra by Diaa Jubaili. The book introduced me to the term flash fiction, i.e. mostly really short short stories. It’s certainly not a book for people looking for happy endings. Metamorphosis, death and despair are common themes, and some of the stories have a quite dry sense of humour. Many of the stories leave me a bit baffled in the end, though I appreciate that the endings are often not where I thought the story would go. The more I read, the more slightly repetitive the stories seem. However, I’m certainly missing a lot of cultural and historical context and so don’t understand all the meanings and references, and this somehow seems to be more pronounced than with other similar culturally foreign (to me) works.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      I do like The Appeal. I found her second book, The Tyford Code disappointing though. it doesn’t live up to it.

      And the dead body comes fairly late in The Appeal.

    10. Yikes Stripes*

      I just finished listening to all the Murderbot books again – somehow they became comfort listens/reads without me noticing! I’m kind of casting around for another good audiobook series at the moment, but it’s hard to find anything that isn’t a disappointment after those.

      1. word nerd*

        I’ve been using them to fall asleep at night and they’re so familiar I’m out in 10 minutes!

  29. Ellis Bell*

    What’s the silliest piece of advice you’ve ever seen offered online by someone with the confidence of an expert? I’m kind of bemused by Pinterest at the moment because they seem to want to throw a lot of “how to avoid looking older” articles my way, like god forbid we don’t all look like we’re 12. I will click on them on rare occasions because I am a visual person and I love fashion! Talk clothes to me and I’ll be into it unless you really have no idea what you’re doing and/or if you’re kind of insulting. Well, these writers I’m seeing lately are both, but they have the redeeming feature of being hilarious. Actual tips I’ve seen lately include: 1) Don’t wear burgundy and if you do, not near the face (no explanation as to why) 2) women over 30 shouldn’t wear leggings (again, zero theories accompanying this) 3) Silk and tweed are for old ladies and will “make you look experienced” 4) Don’t wear matching suit pieces because someone older than you has already done this 5) Don’t wear too many beauty products 6) Make sure you wear enough beauty products 7) Don’t follow trends, 8) Make sure you keep up with trends. I’m also seeing a pattern where they compare two different pictures of the same female celebrity and put a massive green tick on one and a red cross on the other side so that you know which one looks bad. Sometimes the correct and incorrect pictures look completely identical to each other, and sometimes they’re clearly comparing a red carpet picture to someone being papped as they try to get through a busy day. Surely there are people in the world actually interested in the real artistry of these areas and might, I don’t know, mention colour theory more than a woman’s age or trying to use a Caligula thumb on famous women’s appearances.

    1. Mrs Claus*

      It’s me! I shared our meal planning system on another site, and was roundly criticised by the rest of the thread for its needless complexity. Sure! It’s not for everyone. I hope I gave someone a good laugh.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Not gonna lie, now I want to know what your wonderfully complex system is. I LOVE hearing about other people’s various household logistics. (Especially non… standard? households. Roommates, polycules, multiple generations of adults, basically anything that’s different from two adults plus optional underage children, but even those are still interesting.)

        1. Mrs Claus*

          It’s just more elaborate than it needs to be. I have a magnetic chalkboard divided into days of the week and lunch/dinner/notes. Pictures of all of all our regular meals glued onto magnets (along with some regular things for the notes column – work from home day, cleaner’s coming, games night). If it needs a recipe, the book and page number is written on the back of the magnet.

          They’re colourful and tactile which appeals to my brain. And because we’re choosing from a limited number of options, it’s faster to meal plan.

          My partner despises meal planning and this helps bring them on board: I did all the setups and do all the maintenance (exciting new recipe? Put it on a magnet!), but they’ve got no excuses now.

          Like sure I could scribble a meal plan on the back of an envelope (and did for years!) but this works for me. Specifically I like shuffling the magnets – fried rice follows curry night but whoops salmon-and-rice would be rice three nights in a row, swap it for spaghetti and meatballs…

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I love it! I did a halfway version of that for a while – mine was on index cards rather than magnets, but I called it the “Deck of Dinners” and each card had an ingredient list :)

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Have you read the I Hate To Cook Book? She’s got a whole chapter in there of “31 Recipes to Get You Through the Month” for this exact thing. It was written in the fifties and dated in that way, but the endless slog of three meals a day every day never ends.

          2. WellRed*

            I think this sounds cool although I’m trying to envision a magnet that holds a readable recipe on the back.

            1. Mrs Claus*

              No, just the book and page number! “Green Roasting Tin p103” or whatever. I print the pictures on card and glue them onto magnets which are smaller than the card so there’s a card-border to write on, if that makes sense.

          3. GoryDetails*

            That actually sounds cool! I keep looking for the perfect meal-planning guide for my own preferences, and have yet to find it – though I do indulge in Hello Fresh every other week or so, as it motivates me to prepare balanced meals.

            I found some wooden food-choosing dice online somewhere, and thought that might be helpful – there are sets for different cuisine styles and for basic foods (types of meat, common vegetables), and one can just roll the dice and see what turns up. My gaming background made me appreciate die-rolling as a decision technique, though the way it works in practice is that if I don’t like the results I’ll just keep rolling until I get something I do like, so why is that easier for me than just imagining what I’m in the mood for? I don’t know!

            [There are similar dice for dining-out options; that could be fun if you have friends or family members who always bicker about where to get food, or who play the “I don’t care, what do YOU want” game. Roll the dice!]

            1. TheBeanMovesOn*

              With food, I have always found that the easiest way to make a decision is to make a decision. If it feels wrong then it is. I don’t know why it works but it does.

          4. fposte*

            I am a lover of spreadsheets and have many different meal spreadsheets (dropdown menus are more fun than parties), so this sounds delightful to me.

            1. Ontariariario*

              I have always appreciated your comments, but this one in particular made me LOL with agreement! I have an “I <3 Spreadsheets" mug.

              1. SarahKay*

                I, too, have an “I <3 Spreadsheets" mug, and likewise love a good excel sheet :-)

          5. Ellis Bell*

            Oh my goodness I am totally doing this. We actually just go to the fridge and look at the ingredients, such is our need for visual prompts, even though we know what’s in there. Can’t believe I asked for silly suggestions and got something that will actually stop us from going to the fridge, staring at it, and saying “What do you want?” “I don’t know, what do YOU want”.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              “That half jar of pickles looks good.”

              Yeah, when we make our weekly shopping list we always scan the fridge and pantry for half used up stuff to incorporate rather than throw away.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      There was a run where WaPo kept offering me links to articles on The Correct Lipstick So You Don’t Look Old and The Correct Home Decor So You Don’t Look Old.

      This was during the pandemic shutdowns, so no one could actually see my lips or the inside of my home.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        But what if–gasp!–you looked OLD while sitting alone in your dated house wearing the wrong lipstick???

    3. Ane*

      It was a somewhat reasonable list for habits to improve your life (for an able-bodied single with no children) and then one of the items was “take a walk twice” .
      Twice what? Twice a day/week/year? And one of the earlier items was “exercising daily” so was the walk included in that or not?

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Maybe not what they were talking about, but I’m about to read On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz, on how taking the same walk multiple times with people who understand it in different eyes through their specific expertise or perspective will make you realize how much is there. Somewhat similar to Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing. I’ll drop a link to an article about it by Mike Sowden, who writes Everything Is Amazing. He’s doing a reading circle with it now.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          That was supposed to be “understand it in different ways”. I wish we could edit comments.

    4. Knighthope*

      My favorite was a Glamour Magazine work wardrobe makeover for a kindergarten teacher around 1980. A recommended dress (!), cute as can be, was pure silk and $125 (equals about $500 today).

        1. Observer*

          So it was written specifically for Lady Di, then?

          LOL! Not even. I’m pretty sure that she didn’t wear silk to work.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes, nothing says “work with kindergartners” like five hundred dollars worth of PURE SILk.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Flippin’ heck! I wouldn’t wear that teaching my teenage boys. Too much chance of snagging it on a desk or something. Never mind teaching small children.

      3. Clisby*

        I still remember a Real Simple article explaining how to get your morning facial routine done in 15 minutes. I almost wrote in and asked if they’d like me to write an article on keeping it under 5 minutes.

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      So many of those are just plain clickbait.

      But I did see a funny cartoon that describes every plant guide ever:

      Q: What is wrong with my plant?

      A: Did you water it? If no, then water it immediately. If yes, then stop that immediately.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Or “drink water” for every condition ever!

        “I broke my leg!” “DRINK WATER.”

        1. Chaordic One*

          Or “eat yogurt” for every condition ever!

          What’s your secret for living to be over one hundred? “EAT YOGURT.”

    6. fposte*

      The version of this I’m currently grappling with is “Does this advice genuinely work or is it just something people keep repeating?”

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Oops, I’m over 30 and wore a burgundy shirt with leggings yesterday! I’m a fashion disaster!

      My sister has been sharing name posts from her pregnancy group on Facebook and the things people want, or suggest to others, are so atrocious I keep asking if she accidentally joined some kind of affinity group thinking it was a normal new mom group lol. Parenting advice online is awful in general but I’m gonna go with the names because it’s the worst and also the funniest.

        1. SarahKay*

          When my friend was pregnant with her first she and her husband had great fun coming up with suggestions that almost sounded like a pretty name…. but weren’t! I can’t remember most of them now, but I know Chlamydia was on the list.

          1. Ane*

            There’s a Danish comedian, Niels Hausgaard, who has a bit about how ugly names for pretty things and pretty names for ugly things should be switched around. Like the beautiful fields of rapeseed which has the ugly name “raps” in Danish and the ugly illness with the beautiful name “Klamydia”. Switched around and Klamydia would be such a lovely flower name for a girl!

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Let’s see I think the worst was someone asking for advice on a good middle name for the first name Cricket. Someone pointed out that her last name paired with Cricket was likely to be made fun of (probably as a nicer way to question CRICKET lol) and the person was like “My last name isn’t (word it absolutely resembles) so that won’t happen. Cricket is an animal name just like Robin.” Is it though? -_-

          Someone else lamenting that they had to name their 4th daughter Andromeda as a “last resort” because apparently after 3 kids they had exhausted EVERY other name possibility. Not the worst name, but unusual and it seemed like even the parents didn’t like it?

          Lots of spelling “tragedeighs.” Lots of lists of names where some are fine and some are questionable. My favorite list included Swayze, Jagger, Suede, Zephyr, and Stallone. One person seemed very apologetic for suggesting the “old school” and “uncommon” name… Bryan.

          1. Observer*

            Someone else lamenting that they had to name their 4th daughter Andromeda as a “last resort” because apparently after 3 kids they had exhausted EVERY other name possibility

            Well, I guess that’s what happens when you MUST have a *truly unique* name. If even half the stuff I see on line is true, people as *seriously* weird about that.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      3) Silk and tweed are for old ladies and will “make you look experienced”

      I am now picturing a lot of former “good time girls” looking all sex-ay in tweed and silk.

      1. Girasol*

        Tweed isn’t particularly sexy at any age. As an older woman who likes tweed, though, I’ve been imagining a nice tweed jacket, and trying to think what I’d look experienced in if I wore it.

        1. Angstrom*

          Riding your horses? Shooting a brace of pheasant for dinner? Making the rounds of your estate with your gamekeeper? :-)

    9. HannahS*

      From a single “cool girl” design influencer, “Weddings don’t have to be complicated. Instead of traditional decor, you can just like thrift some meaningful things and then it’s cheaper and tailored to you…”

      My friend. That is usually the most expensive and labour-intensive way of doing it.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah: I am so tired of stupidity being pushed on women and the “home made hack” one is up there with believing that a teenage model uses anti ageing cream. They’re essentially saying: “Don’t buy mass produced items from an assembly line! Efficiency is for men! Besides, you’ll enjoy working harder if we tag on the word “meaningful!” I truly love crafty and homemade things, but I think when it gets pushed as a shortcut, or aimed at helping someone who is finding planning complicated, I do get exasperated.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Makes me SO irritated when seeing “bake ten dozen cookies over the weekend for easy, cheap holiday gifts!” type articles–like, that’s what a professional baker would turn out in a day! It is easier and cheaper to pay the professional!

    10. Ali + Nino*

      My husband occasionally brings home this alternative lifestyle magazine called Natural Awakenings or something and their articles are sometimes (but always unintentionally) hilarious. One of our favorites was a piece advising men on how to make friends and recommended against “mere talking” as an activity. The whole thing sounded like it had been written by a robot and now from time to time we tell each other in a robotic voice we cant settle for “mere talking.”

      1. Clisby*

        If that’s the one I’m thinking of, my daughter and I used to pick it up in the grocery store so we could read the ads. We never figured out what a soul coach is, but apparently we had a few in our area.

    11. I take tea*

      I remember seeing a short with “these will age you ten years” and it was capris, bold prints on a dark background and comfortable dresses (i.e. loose fitting). Well, I just rolled my eyes, and will continue to wear what I like, but so fascinating that someone can be so sure of what you should never wear.

    12. ThatOtherClare*

      For years I looked ‘meh’ in all my clothes because I followed online fashion advice for short-waisted people to “lengthen your torso!”. The problem with that is all my long blouses stole length from my legs and made me look oddly proportioned. Eventually I started doing the opposite of all the online advice. I started tucking in my blouses and cardigans, and purchasing them from the ‘teens’ section, and the compliments rolled in. Yes, I have an unconventionally high natural waist, but I look far more aesthetically pleasing when emphasising my real shape than I ever did when trying to be ‘fashionable’ and altering it.

      Fashionably long-waisted Clare is ‘unattractive woman doing her best’, short waisted Clare is ‘attractive woman successfully pulling off a fashion statement’. Which is funny, because the only fashion ‘statement’ I’m trying to make is “I don’t like wearing blouses that are too long to properly fit me”. The problem was never me, it was the clothing and fashion advice.

  30. More Za More Problems*

    I have a good problem! I am trying to figure out what food is similar to pizza.

    We finally “invested in” one of those fancy pizza ovens, and it has improved our pizza game to the point where regular pizza in the regular oven just tastes a bit sad. However! It can only be used outside, and not in inclement weather. Which means sometimes we have to skip pizza night.

    So I’m looking for a food which feels similar to pizza (quick to make – varied flavours – a “treat”), but isn’t pizza. Any ideas?? We don’t have any dietary restrictions.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Bruschetta.

      I make a version that is more similar to Texas Toast, because I like the bread closer to a chewy center rather than a rigid crouton. Brush slices of bread with olive oil (I usually infuse it with garlic and pepper flakes; I have done the rub the bread with the cut clove thing and it is just too much fuss for not enough bang) and bake for 10 minutes or so–I just put the slices straight on my oven rack. You can find a ton of suggestions for toppings, so it’s easy to vary. Pizza is my go-to way to use up leftover bruschetta toppings later in the week.

      Sausage, prosciutto, salami, etc
      Steak (leftover works) with chimichurri
      Anchovies (I like the fancy white ones)
      Various cheeses, soft or hard
      Tomatoes with basil, roast beets with basil, avocado with garlic and herbs, roast figs, roasted red peppers, roasted mushrooms, artichokes, white beans.

    2. Lizabeth*

      I do a “pizza” with the crust being thinly sliced cooked zucchini layered, sauce, cheese and toppings of choice. Great way to use up an overabundance of the veg.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Well, there are things that are relevantly similar to pizza, and then there are things that feel like pizza night. (If you’re familiar with “more like french toast,” that’s what I’m thinking of.) For the latter, you might substitute pasta night. If you are making your own pizza dough, it’s not hard at all to make your own pasta dough. If you use commercial fresh dough, use commercial fresh pasta. There are endless varieties of shapes, sauces, prep methods, etc., it takes less time start-to-finish than pizza, and it feels like a treat.

      If you do make your own pasta, try ricotta gnocchi. It’s quite easy and fun to make with kids if you have any around.

    4. Squidhead*

      Quesadillas? Cheese, put in sauteed veggies or shredded meat, top with salsa/guac/sour cream. They cook well in a hot skillet (we put oil in the pan) but there are also electric “press” appliances where you don’t need oil.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        I second the quesadillas idea. Less bready but you can switch cheeses, fillings and toppings!

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Oh yeah, quesadillas! I love doing them up in a cast iron pan with oil. They get a nice crispy texture, almost like the Mexican pizza crust from Taco Bell. So good!

        1. Clisby*

          I do, too. Also, I make them with corn tortillas instead of flour. Mine are usually just cheese, onion, and jalapeno, but plenty of other things can be added.

    5. Seashell*

      Fondue? You could have cheese fondue (with varying kinds of cheese and various dippers) or cook meat and/or veggies in broth or oil. Most of the work is chopping, which could be done ahead of time if needed.

      My husband found a like-new fondue pot in a thrift store, so, you don’t have one, it’s the kind of thing I suspect people buy with good intentions and later donate.

      1. Mrs Claus*

        Oh we fondue! I don’t think I could stomach it (literally) every week though. Have you ever had raclette? That might work… you melt stinky cheese under an electric grill and pour it over potatoes.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      We alternate pizza with focaccia. We usually use the focaccia as sandwich bread and eat it with cured meats or grilled veg and cheese, but you can also find recipes for a focaccia dough that has toppings you bake in the oven (kind of a softer, breadier pizza).

      1. More Pizza More Problems*

        Oh! Focaccia sandwiches could work. Leaning into the bready-ness of it all.

    7. sagewhiz*

      Large flour tortillas work well as individual, thin crust pizzas. Coat top side lightly with cooking spray and bake about 5 min at 425 degrees F, then add toppings as you please and pop back into the oven till hot and bubbly.

    8. BikeWalkBarb*

      A friend of mine did a “will it waffle?” thing for a while. She’d throw various leftovers together with an egg to bind them, mash a bit so it was a batter, and cook them in the waffle iron, or do some veggies like zucchini and potatoes. She reports that many, many things will waffle. The different shape and texture make it fun so it’s a treat.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I bought one of those mini waffle irons a couple of years ago and got another for Christmas. I’m not big into waffles, but I like this idea and will try it!.

    9. Pieforbreakfast*

      I make savory galettes frequently, basically free-form pies filled with cheese and veggies/meat baked on a pizza stone or baking sheet. The crust is slightly denser than a pie crust, more liquid or sour cream is used, and I will add sesame seeds to give a little more flavor.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      There’s always focaccia! It dresses up nicely with all sorts of savory ingredients.

    11. Nihil Scio*

      Manoushe. It’s a Lebanese, thin crust ‘pizza’ typically made in a wood-fired oven. The dough is brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar (a salty herb combo), feta, or ground meat
      You eat it wrapped around a tomato/onion/cilantro salad or just top it (after cooking) with feta, tabouli, hummus, or whatever for a lovely summer dinner

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Tarte Flambee or Alsatian pizza. It’s a flat dough with sliced onions, bacon and sour cream as the basic recipe, but you can vary it with cheese, mushrooms and smoked salmon.

    12. Loretta*

      Alternative to outdoor pizza oven: a pizza stone and a “peel” which is a giant paddle you use to transfer the “raw”pizza to the stone and remove it when done. Works in regular oven. Put stone in cold oven , then heat oven to 500 degrees F. Sprinkle cornmeal on the peel, assemble pizza on the peel, sprinkle cornmeal on the (hot) stone and put pizza on stone. You need to pull the peel away vigorously to get the pizza to slide onto the stone. 8 or 9 minutes, then retrieve pizza with the peel (sometimes I use a wooden spoon in the other hand to guide the pizza-fetching action).

      You can make pita bread on the stone (check internet for recipe) it’s neat to see it puff up -hope you have a window in your oven door ;-)

      Also some bread recipes that are crusty.

    13. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      Loaded nachos are a favourite ’round these parts. Some possible toppings: red onion, olives, bell peppers, black beans, mozza. I really like topping it with shredded kale because it gets really nice and crispy. Guacamole and salsa on the side.

  31. chocolate muffins*

    What was the first thing you noticed about someone who is now important to you? A friend, partner, etc? I think the first thing I noticed about my now-spouse is how smart he was – curious what stood out to others about people with whom they ended up being close.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The first first thing I noticed about my now-husband was that he didn’t seem terribly approachable, heh. (In retrospect that’s because he didn’t particularly like the person who introduced us, which was my boyfriend at the time and is now actually my ex-husband. This was literally 20 years ago this summer – we met at GenCon 2004, where we were all involved in running a live action RP.)

      Once we actually started to be halfway decent friends, the first thing that actually stands out was, at the GenCon immediately after my now-ex and I had separated and were in the process of divorcing, ex was also there and had spent an evening being particularly viciously awful to me. Now, I do not cry in front of people. But now-husband (who at the time was just a friend and also married to someone else) came up to me for something else, paused and said “You’re not okay.” And I absolutely collapsed on him in about the worst ugly tears I have ever cried, for about five minutes. And he just sort of stood there, bewilderedly patting my shoulder and just letting me fall apart, and I’m pretty sure waving away other people who were about to come over. And then I put myself back together, he looked at me and goes “you’re okay now.” And I said “yep, thanks for that,” and we fist bumped and got back to running our game.

      We were good friends from then on, and I’ve told the story here before that I adopted his dog when he moved overseas with his wife, and then they split and he moved back and I told him he could crash on our couch while he figured everything out but he couldn’t have my dog back, and he just never left again. Our seventh anniversary is this fall.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          He’s a good dude. :) the dog we joke he married me for has crossed the bridge, but I’ve gotten two more dogs over the years and he’s hooked on them too, so he ain’t going nowhere :)

    2. Not A Manager*

      Weirdly, with both of my life partners, the first thing I noticed was their posture.

      1. Reebee*

        I love this! I like to people-watch, and good posture really stands out to me. Just something about it that I find really admirable.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Posture says so much! Saggy, droopy stances just convey sloppiness to me.

    3. Myrin*

      I’m very bad about remembering such things – which recently amused my coworker, who said the first anyone ever thinks about him is “tall” and “bald”, both things that he is, but if anything, I thought more in the vein of “glasses” and “goatee”; also, he was sitting down – but I do have two anecdotes to add!

      1. My sister: “Oh, it’s a girl!” (courtesy of the gender-stereotypical pink blanket of the 90s) and then concurrently “Thank god!” and “I knew it!”. I absolutely did not want a baby brother but I also somehow knew that I would get a sister.

      2. A close friend (also a coworker): “Well now that guy was kinda weird”.
      My predecessor introduced me to a couple of coworkers in their office and my now-friend was already in there, standing a bit to the side. When my predecessor and I left, he said “I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other from time to time!” and my not-yet-friend said “Oh yeah… I’m sure of that…” in this really… foreboding, eerie kind of way. I even remember telling my mum a week or so later “… and then John, you know, that ominous guy I mentioned, said…”.
      Now I know that he just felt out of place still (he started only two weeks before me) and is also… not shy, really, but reserved with new people and often at first intimidated by forceful personalities, which both my predecessor and I are. I’m very fortunate to have gotten to know him better over time because I really cherish our friendship!

    4. Double A*

      I mean, I definitely noticed how cute my future husband was. Also that he had a super sexy tattoo (very simple on his forearm).

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I met my now partner online, not on a dating app and before dating apps were even a thing. We were close online/texting friends in our late teens and early 20s before meeting IRL more often and eventually getting together. The first thing that came across was how articulate and funny he was, beyond what I’d seen in any other guy our age. My sense of humour was a bit of an oddity in the environment I grew up in, but his was very similar, and so it felt easy to communicate with him in a way that felt like the “real” me.

      As for my best friend of nearly a lifetime, we met on holiday as kids. We are both only children, and the adults we were with struck up conversation so that the two of us could feel comfortable playing together. So the first thing I noticed, with some kind of relief, was that for once I didn’t seem to be the only lone and painfully shy kid on the entire beach. Which is ironic, as she is actually a bubbly extrovert, can’t miss that once you’ve spoken to her for five minutes!

    6. EngineerMom*

      My spouse: I noticed he was bald, and rocking it! Found out early on he was a PhD student (we were both early 20s), and being with someone who could keep up with me intellectually was important to me, so loved that.

      My best college friend: she was funny, open, honest, and kind during orientation week. I broke my pinkie toe early on, and even though I’m definitely a lot taller/bigger than her, she would come and make sure I could get around.

      My best friend where I currently live: she packed all reusable stuff at a school picnic! Metal silverware, cloth napkins, etc. And then was out climbing trees and physically playing with her kids at the same event (stuff I like, too!).

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      I notice mouths and teeth. My whole family has really good teeth: even, white (although my mom’s teeth yellowed terribly through a lifetime of coffee and I bleach mine occasionally to avoid this), nice teeth and 5 out of 6 of us kids didn’t wear braces. People often assume I did if the topic comes up. My maternal grandmother was in the hospital when she was in her 80s and a nurse came in “to help take out her teeth”, assuming they were false. My grandma proudly announced that hers were the real thing.

      The man who would become my first husband had terrible teeth, which should have been a clue that when we had children it would mean orthodontic bills if his genes won that race. But what I noticed was the way he lit up and said “Hey, cool!” when I explained my degree in linguistics by noting that all blackbirds are black birds (which I’ve since learned isn’t technically true but I wasn’t majoring in birds) but not all black birds are blackbirds.

      I met my third husband (I’ll skip #2) online pre-app. He’s handsome (which he doesn’t see so he doesn’t have the entitled ego I associate with guys who look like models, sorry handsome men that’s just how it is) and he has two front teeth I call his “tippy teeth” that give him this endearing little-boy touch. We didn’t have any kids together so I didn’t incur any more orthodontic bills, haha.

    8. Zephy*

      The first thing I noticed about my husband was his shapely behind, LMAO (we met on an informal sports team in college). Then I actually talked to him and realized how smart and funny the person attached to said shapely behind was, and 11 years later I married him.

      I think my best friend tripped my “same hat: queer and neurodivergent” sensor immediately when I met them at work, but more overtly I think I was drawn to her initially because they were the only other person in the department who was close to my age and in a similar stage of life.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Humor, for sure. Now-Husband was a coworker back in the day, and when we were straightening the same area he was very low key fun to talk to. And smart, in a “on the same vibe” way, in that I didn’t feel either left behind or like I was accidentally condescending to him.

      Then, when we began dating, I went to his house for dinner. He was living with a big group of roommates and most of the house was a typical disaster, but his room was tidy, his cat well cared for, and he cooked an actual meal that wasn’t all frozen or direct from boxes. He was a grownup not looking for a replacement parent, and that was incredibly attractive!

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      The first thing I noticed was when I arrived at a Scottish ball with friends and one of my friends saw him at the end of the hallway and took off down the hall shouting, “hisNAAAAAAAAAAME!” by way of greeting. The second thing I noticed was that he was a big flirt, in the nicest way. There’s a way of flirting in Scottish country dance that is charming and innocent and in fact I learned it from nuns. It’s not “I’m going to Do Things to you” but rather, “This dance is our special secret world and nobody knows about it except the whole rest of the set and it will last until the end of time, which is when the music ends”.

    11. Square Root of Minus One*

      It’s strange to me observing all of you because I honestly… have no idea. Partners or friends, I don’t remember any first impression at all. I just get to know them and stop “wait, how have I overlooked you before?”
      My partner, however, loves to tell that the day we met, he almost made me sick. We were among a group of friends in a restaurant, I was pretty shy then, and he was insisting I had the last share of that pie, you haven’t had any of this one, don’t be shy. I hadn’t had any because it had goat cheese and I despise that. But I forced it and summoned all my willpower to keep it down.
      I told him when we started dating. He remembered that pie. I think he still feels bad almost two decades later.

  32. Invisible fish*

    Suggestions solicited: best website or app for quickly looking up calories? It can be one that allows you to track them or not. I was using My Fitness Pal, but the most recent updates changed it enough that I don’t care for it.

    1. EngineerMom*

      I like My Net Diary, though it’s not totally free.

      I cook a lot from scratch, and the paid version will let you import online recipes, then tweak the ingredients if you changed anything. You can also save your own recipes. It’s pretty accurate.

      (I’m Type 2 diabetic, need to know carb counts)

  33. CTT*

    How did you come to find your hobby?

    Although I have plenty of ways to fill my non-work time, I’m trying to switch it up so they’re less screen-based. I’m having trouble finding something though! There have been a couple of activities I’ve tried and were neutral on, but exploring them further will be cost-prohibitive. If you picked up something new to do for fun, how did you find it?

    1. GoryDetails*

      My primary hobby from early childhood has been reading, so it may not be too surprising that when I stumbled across a magazine article about BookCrossing some 20 years ago I jumped in. It’s a web site where you give your physical-copy books unique identifying numbers, label them with the numbers and the web-site info, and then pass them along when you’re finished with them: give them to friends, leave them on book-swap shelves or in Little Free Libraries, donate them to charity-sale shops, leave them in public places – park benches, interesting sculptures, even suspended from trees… I’ve made friends in the online forums and at some of the conventions, have discovered new books/authors, and have visited some interesting places in my quest for new and scenic spots at which to leave my books.

      And I learned about geocaching via BookCrossing, as there’s some overlap between the hobbies; some Little Free Libraries also contain geocaches, some geocaches are large enough to hold books, and both encourage people to explore their home locales as well as any place they may be visiting.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        BookCrossing sounds really interesting! My neighborhood is pretty rich in Little Free Libraries and I visit them all so I may pick up on this. I could leave a few printouts of the instructions in the boxes to spread the idea.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I have a lot of hobbies, but historical costuming has been a main focus for a while now. I already knew how to sew, but this particular interest started when my youngest was in elementary school. We visited a local historical site with costumed reenactors. One of the talks was about all the layers of 18th century clothes, and they had a dress-up room for the kids. Of course she needed to be an 18th century lady for Halloween!

      Then that blended with her love of American Girl dolls, Little House on the Prairie, and Little Women, so we spent a few years in the mid to late 19th c.

      Then we discovered our local Renfaire, so that led to medieval and Tudor inspired outfits.

      Currently, I’m participating in the local Jane Austen society, so Regency (and by extension fantasy Regency) is the order of the day. Both my daughters got ball gowns last year, I finished a day dress earlier this month, will have a fantasy-Bridgerton outfit for an event next week, and found a thrift store coat for my husband that is long enough to hack into an excellent approximation of a late-period tailcoat.

      I love it because it involves lots of geeky research, lots of sketching and pattern drafting, lots of “thrill of the hunt” to source materials on a budget, some artistic flair (especially when covering mistakes), and there are very active communities of like-minded geeks online and at various events. Also crossover with lovers of literature & history, as well as cosplayers who are into scifi/fantasy. So that bridges the interests of my family quite nicely.

      1. Hyaline*

        If you’re interested in crafting hobbies look into local “maker’s spaces”—these have been popping up more often and offer supplies and equipment use (plus classes and camaraderie) for a usually quite reasonable fee. If you’re interested in sporty stuff, see if there are local leagues or even intramural open to community at nearby colleges. They’ll often let you borrow equipment. And check out your library system’s events calendar—ours has everything from crafts to cooking to D&D.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My mom and gran taught me crochet and plastic canvas stitching when I was like, five. I picked up cross stitch (which I still do sporadically) in my preteens, taught myself to knit when I was 20, tried (and concluded I don’t really like) fabric sewing (like clothes and quilts and such) in my 20s. Mostly I’ve been a knitter and crocheter for the last 20+ years.

      Since March of this year, I have hurled myself headlong down the hobby hill and now have two e-spinners (like a spinning wheel but with a motor instead of the big foot-treadled wheel), a 24” rigid heddle loom and a 1940s 4-harness floor loom (which I haven’t been able to set up yet, we’re remodeling upstairs), so I’ve been spinning yarn, teaching myself to weave (first project: a set of four dish towels), and acquiring a fiber-for-spinning collection that is starting to rival my previous yarn collection. :-P (The looms ended up named Buttercup and Wesley after I observed that while some people tiptoe into new hobbies, I apparently hurl myself headlong down hobby hill yelling AS YOU WISH.)

    4. EngineerMom*

      I find hobbies in several ways:

      1. Look at classes to take through my local park district or library.

      2. Get invited to do hobbies with friends (friend has a hobby, invites me to go with turn, or do the hobby with them at home.) This is how I picked up long-distance cycling – my dad invited me to do time trials when I was 14, I discovered that riding like that made me feel powerful & calm. I’ve now done several very long rides, including a bunch of century rides (100 miles).

      3. Decide I want to find out how to DIY something creative (that’s how I discovered that watercolor painting calms my brain – I decided to try painting a simple flower for a Mother’s Day card)

      4. Do kid crafts. NOT purchased craft kits, but the kinds of crafts you can do with household supplies, like making snowflakes or flowers with coffee filters, or making cinnamon-applesauce ornaments at Christmas.

      5. Plan to fail. I pick an activity I know/think I’m going to be TERRIBLE at, and just… plan to be bad! It makes trying the activity really fun, rather than discouraging. Paint-n-sips, cake decorating, darts, karaoke, etc. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so planning to be bad at something is basically healing therapy :)

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      I had a therapist tell me to think back to what I liked doing as a child.
      I’ve always like drawing so I started taking art classes, which I think really motivated me because there were regular assignments to work on. I don’t paint or draw regularly now that the class is over, but I will do something once in a while when I feel the urge.

    6. Two cents*

      Most of my hobbies have roots in my childhood but got cemented or changed significantly due to circumstances and social contacts later in life. I was a pretty crafty child, so I tried loads of stuff as a kid and teen like pottery, mosaic tiling, sewing, drawing, painting, some needlework and knitting stuff. Baking. Reading. But my focus shifted to fit my situation, so in university I couldn’t do ceramics because I was moving so much and had no space. But my roommate had her sewing machine set up so I got in to sewing a quilt and some pillow cases as a social thing with her. Now I’m sewing more jersey for myself and my kid, in part because one of my new parent friends did some really cool and inspiring stuff and I wanted to try it too.

      If I were starting from scratch, I’d look around to see what crafting classes are available, what maker spaces are available and what social crafting groups are around. Or sports, baking, reading, whatever style if not crafting. Then I’d set a goal for trying out stuff until it was not fun anymore.

      Since hobbies double as social time for me, that advice would work. But if social is not interesting, I’d try to drill down into what exactly you are looking for: something to keep your brain busy? Hands busy? What other goals do you have e.g. physical fitness, which might point towards something sporty? Or intellectual self improvement, so maybe certain kinds of reading or classes or learning? If that isn’t easily answered, then I’d go back a step farther: what do you enjoy in life? Where do you feel happy and comfortable? Is it at home or in a forest or at a friend’s house or at your favorite restaurant, and if so, what about that space is so great? Can you bring that feeling closer by doing something? At this point, self reflection would end up being my hobby until I could answer some part of those questions honestly, which would point me in some sort of direction.

      Good luck and I’d love to hear about it if you find something good for you!

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      I’ve wanted to try improv for a long time and found classes through my local parks/rec district. I took an intro course, then a short-scenes course with a different instructor, and I’m now taking that one again. Some of the students repeat across these the way I’m doing, and a married couple who took the second classes started an “Improv Friends Club” by inviting us to their house for a potluck dinner and we did skits. They’re now in the same short-scenes course again and I expect IFC to pick up again after the class is over; they used the same night of the week for the party so it was great for scheduling. The classes cost something like $57, which for 6 weeks of a guaranteed night of fun and stretching myself in new ways was a screaming deal.

      I occasionally paint “kindness rocks” although I don’t do the whole tracking thing that some people do, to put a code on their rocks so others can report they found them. It’s a very soothing and absorbing activity to sit on my deck painting rounded beach stones with simple designs or a word or two. I’m not a great artist so I stick to simple things and if I don’t like what I did I can always paint over it and try again–no wasted paper or canvas. I leave them at bus stops and in a nearby park (where it’s legal; wouldn’t be legal in a state park). I love walking past the spot and noticing the rock is gone, which means someone found it appealing.

      Many of my hobbies were ones I learned from my grandma, like knitting, or my mom who taught me to cook and bake. I learned in some policy work on outdoor rec I was involved in that intergenerational transfer is really important for many activities (think learning to camp, hike, fish, birdwatch from your parents or grandparents). Are there things your parents or grandparents taught you that you left behind and might want to go back to? Or they didn’t teach you directly but you saw them doing something that gives you a nice nostalgic happy bump when you think about it? I watched my mom can lots of things and make jams and jellies. She didn’t teach me but I do that now, learning from books and websites.

    8. migrating coconuts*

      Try your local library. Our has a monthly DIY craft, all very different. They also have a monthly virtual art class, everything from watercolors to pencil drawings, etc. Supply kits are given out. You can pick up cheap books and puzzles from the sales they hold. If you want outdoorsy stuff, try local nature centers or your town’s parks & rec offerings. You can also look for a local facebook group. There is one in my area that is very active trying new stuff. This month they are kayaking on a local lake, trying axe throwing, an escape room, and a gardening class.

    9. Dancing sparks joy*

      I have a good friend who convinced me to try folk dancing. I was very sceptic, but she told me I was just prejudiced and to try it out. She was absolutely right, I have done it for years and it brings me so much joy. Sports bore me, but I can dance for hours, even if I’m drenched in sweat. And the social aspect us nice too, in folk dancing there’s more focus on the group than on just the one you happen to dance with, which I really prefer.

      Sorry for the speech. To answer your question – ask someone who knows you well. And if possible, do something that involves movement.

    10. ThatOtherClare*

      I asked real-life friends and families about their hobbies, and if it was one that sounded enjoyable I said: “That sounds like so much fun! I’d love to try it out myself, how does a beginner get started in (hobby)?”

      Every time the hobbyist was overjoyed to give me a few of their old starting tools and/or materials, along with some hands-on advice. I have now been the donor instead of the recipient many times over, and it’s honestly a privilege. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted surplus or beginner items that I was never going to use, and it clears up space for any new things I’ve been eying off. In addition, I get the joy of feeling like a kind, generous person while I’m at it :)

      Another thing I did with both sewing and crochet was to look up projects intended to use up scraps. Such projects are good for the intermediate crafter who is now finding they have plenty of small remnants from large projects, but yet also for the beginner crafter who is working with amounts of material that other crafters would consider to be scraps. In the past I made many a single coaster without a matching set, painted many a cereal box, and filled my windowsills with cuttings propagating in the bottom of coke bottles. Furthermore, working with a rapid succession of small, fiddly, one-off projects pays off by advancing your technique far more quickly than a large simple project will do, so you needn’t consider it a pointless stopgap. It’s more like your training montage. Have fun!

  34. Bibliovore*

    San Diego.
    Thanks for the recommendations for my trip.
    I am staying at the Marriott Marina.
    I would love to get a massage as traveling is really hard on me, if someone can recommend an easy to get to spa or person.
    Bonus points if it a place with hot water to sit in but not essential.
    In the before times, I could usually trust a Bliss spa but they seem to have all gone out of business.

    1. anon2*

      The hotel itself has a spa. Sorry I can’t recommend anyone in particular. There is also a Bliss Massage and Therapy center 10.5 miles from the hotel.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      That hotel has a pretty robust spa and you never need to leave the property. You might be able to book a massage using the website/Mariott app.

    3. Bibliovore*

      Yes, I did book one at the hotel but I was wondering if anyone had a personal recommendation.

  35. Trina*

    I’m working on a baby registry, so parents: what are your must-have recommendations? (Either the item in general or a brand you feel strongly about)

    1. RagingADHD*

      I can’t recommend brands because they have all changed, but some things that were most useful:

      A buckwheat nursing pillow. It’s firm but moldable, and I found it much more useful than a Boppy. The family kept using it for about 15 years to prop up in bed or find a comfy position for injuries or headaches.

      It’s a little thing with outsized impact, but I’m a huge fan of those large foam sponges you can lay the baby on in the bath. They’re usually shaped like teddy bears. Newborns are slippery! Having a non-slip cushion to lay them on took a lot of stress out of those early baths. The sponge also dries quickly when you stand it up, so it never got sour.

      We liked the long open bottom gowns for nighttime, because they make diaper changes quick and quiet.

      You’ll want to try different styles of swaddles, because it really depends on both your ease and the baby’s proportions as to whether a plain cloth or a shaped product works best. However, we got the most mileage out of the cotton gauze swaddles that are just a big square. They’re good for everything – nursing cover if needed, sunshade on the stroller, play mat, burp rag, impromptu sling, and of course swaddling the baby. These also got repurposed for years and years into picnic blankets, tea party tablecloths, sarongs for little kids, etc etc.

    2. Barb*

      Umbrella stroller, lightweight and durable

      We used the big stroller that the car seat could attach to around our neighborhood but the umbrella stroller was invaluable for in and out of cars, buses, trains, airplanes, etc

      Can’t recommend a brand, my babies are in their 20’s, lol

    3. EngineerMom*

      Do you bike, jog, walk, or picnic at all?

      One thing I really wished I’d put on my registry at the time was a Burley 2-kid convertible trailer/stroller. Even if you only ever plan to have 1 kid, having the extra space for stuff or kiddo to lay down & nap in a protected portable enclosure is so helpful!

      They’re bigger than a “regular” stroller, with bigger tires that can handle rougher terrain, so I personally used them much more even when we weren’t cycling. And after the kids grew too big, I continued to use the trailer to haul things (groceries, used it to carry picnic/chairs to/from car when going to kid sporting events, etc.)

      I got rid of my strollers pretty early on, other than 1 umbrella stroller for when we traveled or took the bus. But I kept our bike trailer/stroller until just a year ago, when I finally broke the axel! My kids were 15 & 12 when that trailer finally died.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I remember seeing recommendations for the Boppy nursing pillow and being like “lol really, a pillow?” but someone gave me one and I ended up loving it. I used it to nurse but also to prop myself up so I could sleep comfortably while recovering from my C-section.

      I really liked babywearing. The Moby wrap is great because it’s adjustable to anyone’s body, but takes practice to tie. K’tan is great because it’s easier to put on and fewer layers of material, but is sized to the wearer like a tshirt.

      Not a brand, but I hated the footy pajamas that snap. It is so hard to attach a million little snaps while your baby kicks and wiggles! After about two months I only bought footie pajamas with zippers, lol.

      You don’t need a bottle warmer. You don’t need a high chair (I got a little seat that straps onto a regular chair and it was nice because I could bring it places easily). You don’t need a dedicated changing table if you have an appropriate height dresser where you can attach a changing pad.

        1. Local Garbage Committee*

          I think just the boppy loungers and not the nursing pillows were recalled, but the loungers were indeed awesome outside of the safety concerns.

          1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

            yes it was the sleep products that got recalled. nursing pillows are fine as long as you are letting the baby sleep on it.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Oh god, doing up all those little poppers at 3am…zips were a life changer.

        Really I found there was very little that was absolutely indispensable. They just don’t need much stuff – certainly nothing like what the baby industry tells you. I’d say lots and lots of burp cloths. Also, those old school white square nappies are useful for many, many things. We used them as mats, burp cloths, cleaning cloths, and even as modern cloth nappy inserts when we went away somewhere without a dryer – because they’re flat they dry on a line very quickly.

        1. Local Garbage Committee*

          Yes, the old school cloth diapers are my favorite thing to include in shower gifts because of how versatile they are. Great as burp cloths, then booger cloths for daycare illnesses or just general cleaning rags!

      2. Emma*

        Yes, zip sleeper footie pajamas are all my kids wore, pretty much, for the first few months of life!

    5. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      I wish I’d had the woolino sleep sack earlier. it’s really nice and works from 3 months to 2ish years

      1. Part time lab tech*

        I used muslin cloths to swaddle when my boys were new borns and loved the sleep sacks once they could wriggle of those. I bought the 6 to 18 month ones so they lasted until they could go into a bed. Second zippers and a mattress protector with a cotton top to go under sheets.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Ooh, sleep sacks! I got some Carter’s fleece ones that were great for when my kids were too big to swaddle. Plus they look hilarious

      3. Emma*

        Seconding woolino! They are expensive but last forever – we’ve passed down to several kids. We’ve also bought used from Poshmark and eBay. They’re expensive new, but one I bought used from eBay lasted 1.5 years for our kid, and then we passed it to a friend, who used it with 2 kids!

        1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

          when I added up how much it would cost to get all the different sizes and seasons the woolino definitely came out as an investment worth making. our 3-month-old is about to start using it ( now that he’s out of the swaddles)

    6. Lady Kelvin*

      These are the things that we either used excessively and/or are still using (my kids are 5 and 2):
      – Swing/rocker. Both my kids spent lots of time in their swing that I kept in the room I was usually in during the day for the first ~4-5 months of their lives. Once they can roll over they should stop using it, but it was a great place for them to hang while I did other things.
      – Ubbi diaper pail – we used cloth diapers for the first and disposable for the second, and used this pail for both kids. We could keep the used diapers in their room for a week in that thing and not smell anything. Highly recommend.
      – Transition high chair. We have a Keekaroo but there are several brands. It was a high chair and then a booster seat for my kids to sit at the table and can change in size as the kids change in size. It also can hold up to a 250lb person, so it’s an extra chair if we need it.

      Beyond that, it really depends on you. Some things people will swear by you will never use (I’m looking at you, My Breast Friend) and others people will say is useless but you will love.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        totally agree that it really depends. I have loved my wrap carriers for both my kids but my friend found that her kid didn’t like the carriers at all. however I would strongly recommend having a carrier that feels good because it’s a godsend when the baby doesn’t want to be put down and your arms are tired or you need to get stuff done

        1. Mrs Claus*

          Came here to say ring sling! We couldn’t do without ours. Some structured carriers can put babe’s hips in a poor position, and the giant wraps are a bit annoying to put on. Ring sling all the way!

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            Meanwhile I hated my ring sling and really regretted getting one at all, haha. See if you have a babywearing club or library in your area so you can try different kinds before buying one!

            1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

              yes to trying them on! a good one is totally worth it but it’s too much money to buy and try
              while the wrap is annoying to put on I love it because I am very petite and find that most structured carriers just don’t fit right. with the wrap I can fit it perfectly to myself.
              the sling puts too much pressure on my shoulder

          2. Observer*

            Ring sling all the way!

            Be careful with Ring Sling’s though. They are the only type of carrier which seems to a real and significant risk to the baby you are carrying.

    7. Two cents*

      BOOKS! Books books books books books! Sandra Boynton, Richard Scarry, Eric Carle, DK non fiction, bath books, fabric books, there are so many cute and awesome books. Walz in to your local book shop and you will find something great.

      Otherwise, clothes for the future, burp cloths, things to chew on.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        I always feel like books are the greatest default baby shower present. I often combine them with a cute onesie or bib. You can probably just tell a few close friends that you’d love more books for baby, and that way you don’t have to pick out specific ones from the registry. Though Sandra Boynton is definitely a hall of fame author in our house!!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Goodnight Moon, for sure! I’ve bought it for many baby gifts over the years.

      3. chocolate muffins*

        We have some books that are made for the bath and change colors when you put them in water. Those could be a neat book/bath toy combo if you’re looking for something like that, though definitely not a must-have.

        One thing that was really useful to us that I haven’t seen mentioned here was a DockATot – basically like a little bed type thing to put infants down in. We hadn’t thought about this at all when getting baby stuff but a friend who had three kids pointed out that sometimes we would need to put our baby down somewhere other than their nursery (where the crib was). Our son ended up taking naps in his DockATot sometimes and just generally hanging out there when we needed our hands. If you like to wear your baby this might be less useful but I could never figure out how to wrap any of the baby wearing things around myself so having a place to put a baby down for a while was very, very, very useful for me.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          For Trina and anyone else with a similar question: Heads up that Dock-A-Tots (and lots of other places to park a baby) aren’t safe for sleep. Please be very careful with what you allow you baby to sleep in/around!

    8. Pocket Mouse*

      Cloth wipes, like just little flannel 6” squares. At least 50 of them, more if you want to use them for diaper changes too. At first because of all the spit-up. Later because of all the meal/snack cleanup, and allllll the snot.

      (And 2-3 mesh bags to wash them in.)

    9. No Tribble At All*

      KeaBabies!!! Never gone wrong. KeaBabies bibs (the little muslin bandana ones!), towels, sheets, freezer trays, baby carrier, etc, etc.

    10. Rain*

      The latest edition of the book “Baby Bargains”! It’s like Consumer Reports but for baby stuff.

    11. MP*

      I am more of a frugal minimalist but I would make sure you get a good quality high chair, stroller and baby carrier. I am also a huge fan of zippy jammies specifically cloud island by target but whatever zips both ways! My youngest was born in December and basically exclusively wore those until the weather got too hot….so easy! It can be super overwhelming and everyone has an opinion but I hope you have fun with it and congrats :) fb marketplace has been my best friend to get some “nice to haves” like a mamaroo swing and some other random stuff.

    12. Vanessa*

      The baby bargains book/website was so helpful in reviews and making a good necessity list.

    13. Maggie*

      I have a 4 month old so this is all very fresh in my mind!

      – If you plan to breast-feed, the Brest Friend pillow worked great for me and many other parents I know
      – Fisher Price Kick and Play piano mat
      – Muslin burp cloths
      – Handful of newborn size clothes. We had a small baby and he was drowning in 0-3 size clothes. Generous friends had given us lots of 0-3 but he didn’t grow into them for a while!
      – Portable changing pad (we got a Kopi Baby brand one and it’s great)
      – FridaMom post-partum items (Sure, the hospital will provide a lot of these things but I loved the quality and ease-of-use of a lot of the Frida brand stuff)

    14. Ali + Nino*

      NoseFrida!! Those bulb things they give you at the hospital have literally never worked for me at getting anything out of a child’s nose. Friends gave us our first NoseFrida and now we give it to our friends as they become parents. Your kid won’t like it but it quickly became essential for us.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Oh yes, I forgot that! We got given one too, would never have bought one ourselves but now I give one to every new set of parents.

        Also: dimmable nightlight. Makes a real difference for nocturnal changing, and obviously then you use it when they’re older too.

    15. Emma*

      I found Lucie’s List great for sorting through products. It doesn’t have all brands, but it’s helpful for thinking about some of the differences.

      I really liked the My Brest Friend pillow for breastfeeding, if that’s something you’re considering.

      Woolino 4 season sleep sacks are awesome, but $$$ ($110 new), but I’ve bought used ones on eBay and Poshmark, and my kids have used them from around 2 months of age to 2 years.

      Good Buy Gear is a great website for used and open box products, if there’s stuff people don’t get you that you still need. We bought a stroller that way.

    16. NB*

      FWIW, my babies are all grown up now. But I had opinions back in the day. (1) I didn’t think a changing table was really necessary. I usually changed my babies on the floor, because they couldn’t fall from there. (2) The baby swing was essential for me. (3) If you’re up for it, we liked cloth diapers–especially a brand called FuzziBunz, because they had snaps that eliminated the need for pins. (4) We used rice paper liners in our cloth diapers–if they were just wet, we would wash them with the diapers; if they were soiled, we could flush them. I’m not sure that was a good idea, but we thought it was at the time.

  36. The Gnome*

    Does anyone happen to know how one would legally obtain large print Kindle books?

    My mother loves reading, but regular print is a strain on her eyes, and since she’s retired and feeling well again after her emergency open heart surgery last year, she wants to take up reading again, but I’m at a loss as to how to either get large print Kindle books or to set the phone app to be large print. She has a refurbished iPhone X, if that helps at all; I’m considering getting her an actual Kindle for her birthday/Christmas present (her birthday is 8 days before Christmas and yes it IS a pain in the tuchus to try and shop for both lol).

    1. Trina*

      There should definitely be a way to increase font size on the phone app. On mine, you tap the very middle of the page, then there’s a font (Aa) button in the top right corner that brings up options including a slider for text size. I don’t *think* it should be different from iOS to Android?

    2. Rick Tq*

      Get her an actual Kindle if font size is a concern. Any Kindle has a bigger screen than a phone (6″ for the base, 6.8″ for the Paperwhite, and 10.2″ for the Scribe) plus the e-ink display technology is a lot easier on the eyes than a cell phone screen.

    3. Double A*

      There’s a built in font adjustment for Kindles and its apps, you don’t need to get a special book. It’s one of the huge benefits of e-readers. Just Google how to adjust fonts size on kindle.

      Also a kindle is much nicer to read on than a phone especially with large print so if it’s in your budget I’d recommend the kindle.

      1. slowingaging*

        I second this. Get a Kindle. It is much easier on my eyes than phone or computer. You can change font, size, brightness, warmth, inverse color mode. Especially good for reading in the dark

    4. Alex*

      I’m not far sighted at all and I find reading on a phone to be a strain! That said, you can definitely increase the font size. There aren’t going to be any “large size” kindle books, because kindle books are designed to be increased and decreased in font size on the device. A quick google gives instructions on how to increase the font size in the kindle app.

    5. Another Janet*

      I’ve seen others recommend a tablet (iPad or iPad mini, though I’m sure an Amazon Fire tablet could work) with the Kindle App, too. The screen is comparatively large and it’s easy to adjust the brightness.

    6. Treena*

      There is no such thing as large print Kindle books, they all come with adjustable fonts so you can select the best size for yourself. Any e-book tablet should do the trick.

    7. Hyaline*

      Highly recommend just getting her a kindle. I find the paperwhite really easy to read on.

    8. ronda*

      I use reader glasses with my phone when something is too small (actually a game I play rather than a book, but works for text too)

      I dont like to wear glasses for long periods of time, but it is helpful when I need to see something small.

    9. UseBiggerFonts*

      I’m legally blind. One of the points of eBooks us that the reader has control over how it looks. You can literally display one word per screen if you’d like. You can also usually substitute in a preferred font face, but that takes more work.

      The exact mechanisms vary a lot by device and app versions so I can’t tell you exactly how to do it in your specific case.

      BTW, in general Android is friendlier/more configurable for folks with vision issues (but it’s been a few years since I last tried an iOS device, so it’s possible they improved). If your mom is just in the “I’m a little bit older and just having a little trouble seeing stuff” category it won’t matter much, but if she starts inching toward “I’m genuinely starting to lose my vision” it might.

    10. UseBiggerFonts*

      In response to those folks recommending a Kindle over a tablet, make sure your mom tries it first. Feedback I’ve seen is that they can be less flexible for folks or harder to configure. Again, this may be a matter of which of the above categories she dalls under – things that can be helpful for the “just getting a bit older” crowd often do not help many who have progressed to genuinely losing their vision territory (cont and ast issues may read differently, a bright white background might be difficult to use, etc).

      So try it first.

    11. Jay*

      They make some Kindles and Tablets with very large screen sizes.
      I, personally, would go the Tablet rout. You can get one cheap and they can do a lot more than the E-Readers.
      Both of my parents have their birthdays right at Christmas. One a couple days before, the other a couple days after.
      What they prefer is that I get them one big gift for all of these at once.
      It’s a big box of really high quality seafood that they have no access to where they live and getting it is one of the highlights of the season for them.
      You could try asking your mom if she would prefer something similar.
      One nicer gift for both Christmas and her birthday.

    12. Anonymous cat*

      Seconding getting a kindle instead of using a phone app!

      Also —if you have Amazon prime, sometimes they have deals at Prime Day or during November (early Black Friday stuff).

      I think Amazon Prime day is coming up? Maybe you could get her a half-birthday gift!

    13. Emma*

      I have a Kobo e reader (the non amazon version of Kindle), and it’s really easy to change font size, just by pinching your fingers on the screen to zoom in or out. Mine is connected to my Libby/overdrive account through my local library, and it’s been really easy to get books that way.

  37. EngineerMom*

    I’m in the midst of an engineer-to-nurse career change in my early 40s, just wondering if anyone else here is in a similar spot. And if you’ve navigated such a change, any tips/tricks for the life/parenting stuff!

    (I have 2 teens and a supportive spouse. I’ve been a SAHP for 2 years after quitting my last engineering job and realizing that I never really enjoyed any of my engineering jobs, and wanted to get back into the nursing career change I had started before I unexpectedly got pregnant with our son.)

    1. lemontart*

      Interesting. As a female engineer, I wonder how the difference from male-dominated to female-dominated (with all the respect, etc that entails) will go. I’d love to be updated on the social dynamics.

      1. Ontariariario*

        As a complete tangent, an engineering friend of mine is transitioning from female to male and the results only confirm what we all suspect. Specifically that sexism exists, men are taken much more seriously even when they haven’t opened their mouths to say a word, and I’m very happy for my friend but also a bit grumpy with society and not surprised at all with their experience.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Interesting! Nurses do such vital work. The ones I saw in the intensive care unit, step-down unit, and emergency department seemed to really enjoy and be good at their jobs. (I spent considerable time in academic teaching hospitals during the final illnesses of my husband and dad.) I wish you well over this transition.

      Not a lot of advice here about handling the life/parenting stuff except to be, or become, as organized as possible. Consider: synchronized online calendars, with each family member having their own assigned color; pre-typed, photocopied grocery lists hanging in an easy-to-see spot in the kitchen so that anyone who opens the last package can easily circle “mustard, ketchup, milk, etc.” on the list; bonus points if you can format the list so that the rows or columns match the layout of the grocery store; ensure that everyone has at least one week’s worth of socks and underwear; ensure that everyone knows how to do laundry for themselves, the others, and the general household; have a chore list or assigned day for basic household cleaning; declutter as much as possible so you’re not tripping over piles of random junk.

      Don’t stress if you can’t do this all at once, or ever! And, finally, remember basic self-care: sufficient food, nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise, and a smidge of time for relaxation/recharging.

      The self-care advice I learned from a former commenter here known as Not So NewReader. I hope she’s doing well, wherever she is now.

    3. Angstrom*

      Healthcare will involve questions of faith and dealing with death, which I hope were not part of your engineering career. ;-) One book I found helpful when I started as a volunteer EMT was Kate Braestrup’s “Here If You Need Me”.

    4. AnonRN*

      2nd career nurse here (no kids, though) wishing you the best of luck! There are a lot of things about nursing school that are not fun, seem needlessly authoritarian, and are generally stressful. Some of them pay off in the end, but the main point of school is to keep your eyes on the prize and pass your boards. You can do it! Hope your student scrubs are a good color!

      I went to school when it was all in-person but did my BSN in a hybrid program (pre-COVID) and using an online learning system (discussion boards, etc) was a big change from my first BA degree. I guess this would be true even if you went back to study English Lit, but it was definitely an adjustment!

  38. Dark Macadamia*

    What are your favorite (or least favorite) ways shows have dealt with recasting a character?

    I just rewatched Sense8 and it cracks me up how they introduce Capheus in season two. He and his friend have a whole conversation about how appearances matter and people notice these things, without showing Capheus’ face at first. When he’s revealed the friend comments that he looks different and he says he has a new barber (both versions of the character are bald).

    I don’t love how Beelzebub was recast in Good Omens because when it’s commented on they act like the change happened a long time ago even though in-show it’s only been a couple years. Just feels odd to hand-wave the change in that way when they’re a character who could reasonably change their face at any time, and also imply they had the same face for thousands of years only to suddenly change it for the first time now.

    1. Double A*

      I liked how they changed the casting from Nathan Fillion to Alan Tudyk in Santa Clarita Diet. Considering the character is a rotting zombie head in a vase, the make up means they look similar but they explained the voice change by saying some of his his vocal chords fell out.

    2. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I never liked how they recast Greg in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Not sure why—they actually handled it really smartly by working the recasting into the storyline (Rebecca viewing Greg differently than she did in the first seasons, and so he looks like an entirely different person), but I think I was so attached to the initial Greg that I found it hard to adjust to the new one.

        1. fposte*

          I agree so much on this. And I really wanted to like Skylar in the role, and I know he’s a great actor, but he seems more wooden than evolved. I have several of the songs in car audio rotation so I think about this way more than it deserves.

      1. Annie Edison*

        I kind of loved how they handled this actually? I totally agree with all of your points and also, I so appreciated that they didn’t try to ignore the recast and addressed it in the universe of the show, even if it was kind of ridiculous. I had a huge crush on original Greg so couldn’t quite get on board with new Greg, but I did enjoy the honestly.

        I don’t know if this is true or not, but I read that there were some ego/personality conflicts on set with original Greg, so I think that helped me feel a little more accepting too

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It was less personality conflicts and more so just that he hated being in LA, and didn’t really enjoy the television experience. He wanted to be back in NY and on Broadway. I don’t think he expected to dislike it as much as he did when he originally signed on. So they let him leave because who wants to work with someone who is miserable?

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Back in the day when I used to watch Days of Our Lives, I would be amused when a brand new actor would walk on playing an established character, and a little box would pop up saying “So and So is now playing the role of Amanda” or whoever it was. It was funny watching the long established performers just never seem to notice that the person they were married to/on the run from/the evil twin of suddenly was totally different!

    4. Roland*

      This doesn’t really answer the question but I can’t not bring up Due South where in universe, they were like clearly Callum Keith Rennie can pretend to be David Marciano for the foreseeable future, no one will notice probably

      1. Anon Poster*

        I was in here to say Due South! I used to watch reruns on TNT when I was a kid, and I still remember how WTF it felt for new Ray to just swoop in and assume old Ray’s identity. But I grew up with soaps, so it was easy to just roll with it.

    5. Bewildered*

      My mind is a bit fuzzy about this, but back in the 1960s on the classic sitcom, “Bewitched,” the part of nosy neighbor, Gladys Kravitz, was temporarily written out of the show when the actress who played the part, Alice Pearce, tragically died from cancer. It was explained that Gladys was away visiting her mother and, as I recall, sort of implied that she was recovering from nervous exhaustion or maybe even had a nervous breakdown because of witnessing all of the supernatural goings on at her neighbors’ (the Stevens’) house and no one believing her. There was a temporarily replacement with a new character, Harriet Kravitz, the nosy sister-in-law of Gladys (and sister of Abner, Gladys’ husband).

      Actress Alice Ghostley was offered the part of Gladys Kravitz, but turned it down because she had been a close personal friend of Alice Pearce. (Ghostley would later join the show in the role of the witch, Esmerelda.) When the part was finally recast with actress, Sandra Gould (also a close friend of Alice Pearce IRL), Gladys finally returned from vising her mother and Samantha asked her if she had had good vacation (or maybe a good rest) and Gladys (now played by Sandra Gould) replied with something like, “I feel like a new person!”

    6. Niki Smith*

      I sort of like how certain soap operas explained casting changes by having the character undergo a terrible accident and then get “plastic surgery.” (Steven Carrington on the original “Dynasty,” or Alexis on the “Dynasty” reboot.)

      Really bad and never explained, the recasting of the character of Blair Cramer on “One Life to Live.” The part was originated by Mia Korf who is bi-racial (half-Japanese and half white), then taken over by Kassie DePaiva who is white. When DePaiva took over the part her hair was (dyed?) black, but over time it lightened to being blonde. On the show other characters made references about Blair being bi-racial, but those were dropped after the recasting.

      Then there was the first funeral of Asa Buchanan (played by Phil Carey) in 2001. At that time Asa had been married 11 times to 9 different women. Although 2 of his wives had died. his then-current wife and all 6 surviving ex-wives (including Blair) were present at the funeral. During a eulogy by then two-times ex-wife, Renee, each ex-wife gets a close-up shot sitting in the funeral, followed by a flashback scene of their wedding.

      We get to wife number 7, Blair Cramer. There was a close-up of Blair (played by Kassie DePaiva) and then a flashback to Blair and Asa’s wedding (when Blair was played by Mia Korf). Why didn’t they just reshoot the wedding scene with Carey and DePaiva in heavy gauze?

      1. Niki Smith*

        Here’s a link to the funeral scene from YouTube:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QtRFX2w9GM

        Renee’s eulogy starts at the 6:59 point on the video. The close-up of Blair (played by DePaiva) starts at 8:16 on the video, at 8:21 we see the flashback wedding scene with Blair (played by Korf), then from 8:24 to 8:29 we go back to Blair (played by DePaiva) in the funeral. I guess they tried to have fun with the discrepancy. The WTF look on DePaiva’s face. Even on the low-quality video clip. LOL!

    7. Meetmoot*

      Best recast was in George of the Jungle 2 when the narrator says something like “Hey you aren’t George!” and the guy looks straight into the camera and said the studio couldn’t afford Brendan Fraser

  39. Pop*

    Any recommendations for Victoria, Canada for a few days with a toddler? Already have a few things on the list but would love to hear any personal recs. We’ll have a car and wouldn’t mind driving up to ~1 hr outside of the city for some cool stuff.

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Do they like walking (or being carried/pushed for a walk)? Butchart Gardens is a great place for that.

    2. lemontart*

      Might be a more than an hour drive, but going to botanical beach – at Port Renfrew -for low tide would be what I would do. the tide pools are about a 20 minute walk from port renfrew. My 3 yr old spent literal hours gathering stones from the beaches at Juan de Fuca park, as you go/come back. There’s a surprising good gastro-style pub in Port Renfrew as well. 3 yr olds welcome.

    3. Rain*

      Not sure if they’re old enough to enjoy this but there’s a Miniatures museum, not too far from the empress hotel that has a huge amount of really cool dioramas- from World War II scenes to 1800s Gold Rush scenes to Victorian living Sands.

      It’s really fascinating.

    4. Nihil Scio*

      Beacon Hill Park. It has a petting zoo at one end, a large pond with turtles who like to sun themselves on a log at the other, AND a great playground with toddler- appropriate activities

      There are sooo many beaches but a couple of favourites with playgrounds are Willows Beach if you are in the Oak Bay area and Cadboro Bay/Gyro Park The first has a little place that serves food and the second has sea-monster-shaped play structures. Both have easy walks for picking up shells and seaglass

    5. InLoveWithVictoria*

      It’s been over 15 years since my trip, so no promises any of these things still exist, but there’s a small bug zoo near the harbor that was really nice and seems like it would appeal to kidlets.

      There was a small aquarium inside a submarine which also had some nice harbor views (I want to say it had a glass bottom, but I’m not 100% certain).

      I really enjoyed the wax museum, but I know they freak out some kids. It was surprisingly large with a lot of variety including a replica of the crown jewels.

      There was a miniature museum inside the really large/nice hotel overlooking the harbor (it had a separate entrance to the side). I wish I could remember its name.

      I took the ferry up from Seattle for a day and afterward wished I’d reversed my trip – week in Victoria, day in Seattle. I enjoyed Seattle, but I loved Victoria.

      I have friends who really enjoyed Butchard Gardens but I never made it that far – in fact, I stayed within 3 blocks of the harbor the whole time.

      I’m so jealous. Enjoy!

  40. SuprisinglyADHD*

    So I just realized that what I thought was a large clover patch in my lawn is actually virginia creeper. A quarter of my lawn is just very small virginia creeper leaves. Which would be fine, if I wasn’t struggling to rip it out of my gardens before it strangles my plants! It already killed an entire grapevine, the main root from that one was without exaggeration 15-20 feet long! (that’s probably where the lawn patch came from). Any suggestions on how to contain this? I’m not normally opposed to targeted applications of herbicide (it’s how I’ve been removing the larger patches of poison ivy from the gardens) but I’m not gonna dump herbicide over the lawn.
    The vines are winning, I’ve got bindweed taking over 3 different gardens, poison ivy along the entire property line, virginia creeper in the lawn and every garden, wild rosebushes in the woodpile, and something new I haven’t identified yet… And I’m super worried about poison sumac, it’s not something I’m used to looking for and it gave me an incredibly painful rash last summer (I’d never seen it before then). Luckily I haven’t found any this year yet but I suspect it’s only a matter of time.
    Any advice is welcome!!

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Roundup. it’s extremely effective, and if you use it carefully for localized application, it’s not evil.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Roundup in its simple existence is very very evil. Never support Monsanto.

        Surprisingly ADHD, use a solution of epsom salt, 70% acid vinegar (buy on Amazon) and dawn dish soap with hot water. Spray on the leaves and everywhere you can in the heat of the day every day until dead.

        1. RagingADHD*

          This will kill herbaceous lawn weeds but not hardy vines like bindweed.

          Roundup is one of the very few tools that will work in this situation, and it is safer than the effective alternatives.

          I understand not wanting to support Monsanto, but leaving invasive, destructive species on one’s property is not helping the local ecosystem.

          If you use any form of transportation that has ethanol in its fuel, eat anything containing corn or corn syrup, soy, or seed oils, or purchase produce other than heirloom open-pollinated varieties, then you are “supporting” either Monsanto or DuPont. You get to make your own lifestyle choices about what’s worth it for you, but choosing to invest one’s energy in more direct and concrete means of improving the world is also valid.