weekend open thread – April 2-3, 2022

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: Olga Dies Dreaming, by Xochitl Gonzalez. A wedding planner and her politician brother, abandoned by their radicalized mother, struggle with relationships, political corruption, and family secrets.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 965 comments… read them below }

  1. seekingrecommendations*

    I am looking for recommendations for next level facial treatments. I like spa facials but I would like to try something that will improve the appearance of fine lines (I am early forties). I have pretty reactive skin so I need something relatively gentle, but I want results Does anyone have experience of what is intense enough to make a difference, but not crazy intense?

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Not quite the same, but I have had good results from micro-needling. I was looking for something that improved small scars/ bumps from adult acne, and the claims on micro-needling is that it improves collagen.
      I had 5? treatments spaced out. A year later I did find noticable improvement.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Yes if you go the micro needling route OP make sure you have it done professionally and don’t buy an at home kit. It’s not something the average person should be doing at home, but professional services seem to have good results!

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Yes, I would never do it as an at-home! It’s definetly a major level up from masks or whatever.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I have had good luck with LED treatments. The place where I get my facials has these treatments. Good luck!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I should add that I use a prescription retinol cream as well, maybe once or twice a week, less during the summer. It is very effective and I have almost 20 years on you.

    3. Helvetica*

      Unless you already incorporate acids – niacinamide based serums. I use the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ Serum, which is gentle enough for my sensitive skin (which does not like strong acids) but also quite effective. Have been using it for about six months now and can notice a subtle difference, especially in the fine lines that you mentioned. I am 32 so the lines are really very fine, so YMMV.

    4. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      Pre-Covid I did monthly “med-spa” facials. It will depend a lot on your skin and what you want to address. I decided my skin didn’t handle chemical peels well, but they did make a difference. Microneedling was good. I really liked clearlift and ultherapy (both not for wrinkles but for tightening around the jowls – I have ten years on you). Note that most of these treatments will leave you looking like hell for up to two weeks after the treatment. The med spa near me did a monthly subscription where every month you got to try something new…… I haven’t gone back post Covid though.

    5. LemonLyman*

      I’m sure this goes without saying, but don’t forget the sunscreen! Apply everyday, reapply if outdoors, if you get wet, or if you’ve been sweating. And be sure to apply the proper amount (most people woefully under apply). Facial treatments are excellent but cannot be sustained without sun protection!

    6. Retin A all the way*

      My understanding is that retinols are by far the best thing you can do for skin aging. For sensitive skin you can start using every three days, then go to two, and eventually every day. I get a prescription cream but there are also drugstore options.

    7. Allison K*

      Keep an eye out for Profhilo (available now if you’re outside the USA, should be in the USA in 2022). It’s an injectable hyaluronic acid that plumps up the skin in a really nice way. Makes pores smaller and decreases fine lines. Quite a few British beauty magazines have done features on it that will pop up in a web search.

  2. WoodswomanWrites*

    I’ve been considering buying some new limited-run collectible items, holding on to them for a bit, and selling them on eBay (or another platform?) after they’re no longer available. In poking around online, the items consistently sell at higher prices after they’ve been discontinued. I’m not looking at this as a full-time thing or main source of income. The items themselves are of interest to me and it might be fun. I’ve been online only as a buyer, and I’ve never done any kind of selling in any context. It would be great to hear from those of you who’ve done this successfully about your experience, pitfalls, or whatever else you think would be useful to share.

    1. Swisa*

      I don’t have experience selling collectibles, but I’ve had success with eBay, in selling unwanted items.
      Having a scale to weigh the final package was really helpful. A postal scale would likely be better.
      In my case, I’d pack the item before selling (after photographing), measure and weigh the final package, and add that to the listing. There are different ways to do shipping – I did where the buyer paid, and once the item sold I purchased the shipping label through eBay (using USPS). eBay will give you a QR code, so you don’t need to print the label – you just bring the sealed package to the post office, they scan the QR code, and then print the label for you.

      Some of my items would sit months on eBay. eBay will auto renew your listing I think after 30 days. If I got tired of sitting on an item, I’d drop the price by a bit every few weeks (I didn’t do the action style of selling). You can also choose a setting about whether or not you accept offers, and what the lowest offer you will accept.

      I found it helpful, in deciding to sell something, to go to eBay and search for sold items. That would give me an idea about how often something was selling for, and a general idea of price.

      If it’s something where it won’t be a hardship if they don’t sell quickly, it’s great. Having things prepackaged makes it easy, since once they sell you have a limited time in which you’re expected to ship. (You can set it, for me it was 3 business days). Good luck!

      Oh and eBay takes a percentage or fee, I think usually once your item has sold. There are also limits to the valuation and number of items you can sell I think per month.

      1. Swisa*

        And if something wasn’t selling, it seemed like I had the most selling activity typically fairly soon after dropping the price, in the non auction way that I sold.

    2. Wildcat*

      Just remember this kind of thing is always a gamble. What’s listed for sale may not necessarily sell and there are costs associated with being a reseller. Sellers are also cracking down in resellers in high value, more lucrative items. So don’t invest money in this you can’t afford to lose.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I did hundreds of ebay auctions last year. I hope not to do that again.
      Ebay takes 13% on most sales plus other fees. The collectible items I sold were discontinued 10 to 20 years ago. I had planned on keeping the items but they were selling at many times their original price on ebay, so I sold them. It takes a lot more time to sell on ebay than you think and you will need GOOD camera equipment and skills to make your photos attractive. Dealing with scammers, even just a few, will take up even more of your time and money. It did for me. Collectibles don’t always rise in value over time. I did make money but probably less than minimum wage given the time it took.
      I recommend buying only collectibles you want to keep for yourself like I did. Don’t consider it an investment. Consider it a hobby.

    4. JSPA*

      ascertainment bias: the stuff that disappears from the market without a trace, you don’t find online.

    5. Debbie Downer*

      How do you deal with income taxes on the stuff you sell? Assuming you are able to sell an item at a profit, how do you report it? Do you just list the profit as income on your 1040? Or do you just not list it, because it probably won’t be all that much money anyway?

      I have some collectibles I bought years ago that I would like to sell, but I don’t have the receipts from when I bought them and I don’t have any idea how to determine what my profit might be. Would I just guess?

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I sold a few items several years ago, at the time my tax preprer said I didn’t have to claim it because it was under a certain amount, IIRC maybe like $500. YMMV by state and tax laws might have changed since then, but some anecdata for you.

        1. Cj*

          You probably didn’t get anything from eBay that was reported to the IRS because it was under $600. But that doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to report it. All income you receive does need to be reported on your tax return.

          After deducting what you paid for the items, eBay’s fees, and shipping charges you probably made little or no profit anyway. Especially if you just had used items that were sitting around, and not something like collectibles that had increased in value since when you purchased it.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.

    I’ve mostly been chugging along at a project that is now almost complete. It’s actually going to be weird when this is finished because I have been working on this for a while. On the other hand, once this is finished I can start the Shiny New Idea, so yay for that!

    1. Never Nicky*

      The textbook chapter I’ve written has come back from the volume editor with only the teeniest, tiniest of amends so I’m delighted.

      Imposter syndrome has well and truly been slayed. Resurrection not impossible but let me revel in this for now!

    2. Sloanicota*

      I put a post in the work thread about the business side of writing, after Friday’s letter from the erotica writer, in case anyone want to talk more about that there too (not to divert from this thread also, but just to keep work-type topics on the work thread). I try to treat my writing as a job, but I admit I’ve earned only about $20K, and feel lucky to have earned that much, in about five years over two novels.

      1. Maryn*

        I wouldn’t want to attempt to live on my erotica writing income. It would involve a box under a bridge, I hope in a warm climate. $20K is pretty sweet!

        There’s a board for erotica writing at AbsoluteWrite.com (disclosure: I moderate it) where anyone who writes it or thinks they might want to is more than welcome. It’s a little hard to have a back-and-forth discussion here where the focus is work.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          By all means share resources where hobby writers with more courage than me can share their work! This goes for all kinds, by the way, not just erotica.

          1. Maryn*

            Thanks. It always feels kind of pushy, promoting a site I’m involved in, much less my own work.

    3. Magda*

      My podcast with Rachael Herron aired this week! Very excited and I hope it connects me to some new audiences. She is such a lovely warm and engaging woman, I really wanted us to be friends afterwards haha.

    4. M Thompson*

      I post a daily diary comic but I’m also on sick/stress leave from work (3 months into a 5 month absence) and I’m trying to make a comic about it (working title: Pain&Panic). Or at least get it all drafted and thumbnailed! Fully drawing and editing will likely have to wait for my health to improve.
      It’s a big step from the single-panel, one day at a time thing I’m used to. So far, I’m getting some pages and notes done, but I have no sense of any order, or a narrative, or how this could be a real book. Maybe that has to wait for later too.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I squeezed out a paragraph the other day. Yay me! >_<

      My current project is not on hold but I've been trying to focus on getting a [thing we don't talk about on weekends]. However, I'm starting to get antsy, as I do when I haven't been working on something for a while. It feels like, as soon as conditions are better, I might be able to plow through at top speed.

    6. Maryn*

      I’m still slogging through creating the structure of the fourth book of a series. I’ve got the end solid. It’s a start!

    7. Bibliovore*

      On the advice of my grief counselor, I gave myself the gift of a self-made writing retreat at a place called Blue Fin Bay on Lake Superior for 3 days.
      While my traveling companion hiked and got a massage, I wrote and edited my manuscript, about 200 pages.
      Going well with many grief breaks.
      I did get a massage today.
      Tomorrow, writing in the morning and a trip to Grand Marais in the afternoon.

    8. Lyudie*

      I’m getting back into my fanfic, after several weeks of little or no writing on it. It helps that I’m nearly done with my final project for grad school, I think, so I feel less guilty working on fic instead of something “productive”.

    9. OyHiOh*

      I’ve decided to tackle two write-for-a-month challenges in April: Poetry (similar to NaNoWriMo but obviously) and a challenge from the Dramatist Guild to write either a full length or two one acts during the month.

    10. Cendol*

      I had another short story acceptance! My motivation to write immediately went to zero. I think that’s okay. My plan for this month is to write a longish fanfic in between exploding work and life projects (we’re moving again!).

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want to including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    Still on the Sims 3 with mods installed for story progression and a few to make the game run a bit smoother. Turns out Sims like having their stereos blaring at all hours of the night.

    1. LimePiranha*

      Whole family just got addicted to Forager on Xbox. We have 3 switches but now everyone is fighting over 1 system again ‍♀️

      1. Sunshine*

        A little aside. I just got my seven year old a switch. Any game ideas for multiple players and younger kids?

        1. Maya*

          MarioKart is a classic, and the one on Switch has an “assist mode” that makes driving easier for younger players!

        2. TheMonkeyShuffle*

          My 5 & 7 y/o kids have Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Lego Incredibles, and Splatoon 2.

    2. hmmmmmmm*

      Play the board game Quest for El Dorado last night. Fun, snappy, easy-to-play. I’ve also been obsessed with Taiko no Tatsujin on the Switch for months now and finally gave in and bought the drum controller. It’s supposed to come today, so I’m very excited for that.

    3. Emotional support capybara*

      I got My Time at Portia for the Switch before the plague but kind of wandered away from it due to a) tiny text, small screen and b) Animal Crossing. I found my Switch dock while KonMari’ing my apartment and thought I’d give it another chance and I’m so glad I did.

      I’ve played a few cute farming sim type games but off the top of my head I can’t recall another one that lets you throw hands with people you don’t like right there in the middle of town.

    4. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      We have been playing a ton of Sentinels of the Multiverse, Definitive Edition. Its a cooperative deck game – superhero themed – best with three or four players (or two players willing to run multiple heroes). We have I think everything out of the original edition, and they’ve gone back and done a revision that makes it cleaner – and has made one of our favorite games more fun.

    5. Fikly*

      After much dithering, I finally took the plunge and bought Force of Nature 2. I am having a blast with it – it’s so relaxing, and actually accessible to my various disabilities. I can take it at my own pace, the combat is very simple, and I can control it completely via mouse and one finger.

    6. Nell*

      I’ve been playing Sims 4 and altering story progression mode and it’s driving me crazy. I like trying out the scenarios and for some reason, fixing story progression mode so sims don’t randomly die on me when I don’t want them to cancels the scenario when I go back to the household, even if the household still fits the scenario.

      1. Goopy GilsCarbo*

        Oh my gosh — with story progression mode, the Goth family in my latest save has five new babies! For some reason, some families seem more inclined to add on then others!

    7. MEH Squared*

      Elden Ring. I am gorging on it, both loving it and being frustrated with it, sometimes at the same time. But the set boss fights are still incredible! I think I’m now in the last quarter/third of the game (at 175 hours). It’s been quite the ride!

    8. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      Getting close to my GW2 skyscale…but good grief playing hide & seek electronically is bizarre & annoying.
      My video game trigger motion sickness does not like run around the circle looking for something grey on a gray background!

    9. Jay*

      Been playing Weird West and Tiny Tina’s Wonderland while recovering from a double infection.

  5. Jackalope*

    Any other Critical Role fans out there? (D&D podcast) Did anyone watch the Exandria Unlimited episodes this week? What did you think? How are you feeling about the story in the main campaign as it unfolds?

    (Also, the spa in EXU was super entertaining, and also I’m working my way through Campaign 1 right now & I just got to the part where the Chroma Enclave shows up, so I’m still a bit in shock. So I was both amused and also feeling like, “Too soon! Too soon!”)

    1. Ariaflame*

      Yes, watched them both. I’d watched campaign 1 at the time so didn’t quite have the ‘too soon’ but did have the ‘oh the dragons would pitch a fit if they knew people were going to commercialise them like that’.

      I’m enjoying both stories, I may have got a bit distracted, but did that glyph turn out to be anything, or just vanished into the ‘if they’d done X it would have been relevant but eh’?

      It’s a little chaotic in the main campaign given they appear to have only one person who isn’t a chaos spreader.

      1. Jackalope*

        The glyph ended up not being relevant since they dealt with it properly. I’m not sure what it would have done otherwise.

        I will say that the “poodle” was lots of fun, and absolutely ridiculous at the end. No way it would have worked quite like that but that’s okay, it was enjoyable to watch. (And why were there no guards at the vault?)

        As far as the main campaign right now, Laudna’s revelation about who she was hit me hard since I had just gotten to the Sun Tree scene two days beforehand. Augh! I’m know it’s been awhile but I’m still reeling a bit from the implications of that. It was such a cool connection, though.

    2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      A little, my youngest has been really into it since really early on. Have you watched Dimension 20? We really prefer it here – its less of a commitment (two hours instead of four plus) and does an entire narrative arc in a dozen or so episodes that move – so its possible to binge without investing two thousand hours. They go back and forth between main cast and a guest cast My favorite main cast to start with is Unsleeping City – if you want to watch Matt play, he’s in Bloodkeep and Pirates of Leviathan (with Marisha as well as Aabria ). But for people used to Matt’s DM style, Brennan can be a lot.

      1. Jackalope*

        What do you mean by saying that Brennan can be “a lot”? I’ve never heard him DM so I have no clue what his style is.

        1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          Very enthusiastic – to the point some people find him exhausting to watch – picture Matt Mercer….then picture an action movie – Dimension 20 lands in the middle – about as much action as you can get rolling dice. Its a very different style of both DMing and D&D (Unsleeping City is modern NYC with magic, not a high fantasy world. Bloodkeep is “the fall of Sauron from Lord of the Rings – from Sauron’s inner circle’s perspective” – far more irrelevant and funny = CritRole is voice actors playing D&D – Dimension 20 is improv actors playing D&D – they are more driven to make it funny and keep it moving) Give him a try – Dimension 20 is out on YouTube (though the cast swears a lot and they bleep the swearing on most of their YouTube content, so if you get into it, its worth the Dropout.tv subscription – the bleeps are annoying.)

          Also, if you have done any TAZ (The Adventure Zone with the McElroys) Dimension 20’s Tiny Heist cast is all the McElroys and is wild)

        2. Tea the Bean*

          For me, it took some adjustment because Brennan can be… kind of yells? Idk, if that is what the above poster means, but for me the sheer VOLUME was a bit of a shock.

          I will also say that Brennan is VERY pointedly political in his storytelling and VERY intense about it. I personally agree with his POV, and so really do enjoy where the stories end up going, but that might not be true for everyone.

          Honestly, though, I REALLY love the diversity of stories D20 does. They play with setting in a way that CR generally only does in their one-shots, and I also like that the campaigns are a little more focused. Like the above poster mentioned, the episodes tend to be in the 1.5-2.5 hr range. This isn’t better or worse than CR, just different.

          Ngl tho, I actually am in the Aabria DM-style camp. Matt and Brennan are fantastic in their own rights, but I just adore the way Aabria approaches dm’ng. There is a carefulness and, idk. Well rounded approach to storytelling and mechanics. But that is just my opinion!

          1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            Aabria is by far the best at describing things. I really enjoy her DM style. She doesn’t have the voices that Matt or Brennan have that really bring NPCs to life, but she runs a good table. Its less intense than Brennan’s, but more disciplined that Matt’s. Matt’s really feels like the home game I’ve held in my house for twenty plus years – and I’d rather play that then watch it.

            Kind of yells is a fine description.

            1. Tea the Bean*

              Yes! Hers seems a more holistic storytelling style, and I get if people aren’t into that. Also, hers tends more towards… controlling and shaping the narrative? Which is not bad, just different. Her stuff tends to tell a story. Brennan is closer, but he and Matt are both good at doing open world stuff and responding to their players falling down a ravine, as it were.

              I also agree re: Matt’s dm’ing style. I would LOVE playing at his table, but it is really down to the other actors that the game is as entertaining. I tend to watch CR for the acting work versus the overall story. I like certain D20 campaigns because of the story AND the players, but it is obvious they are Improving (which I enjoy) and I am there for the giggles too. I honestly think I would just watch whatever Aabria dm’s because she always tells whole stories; the players being fun and a huge part, but I am there for the story. Does that make sense?

              Side note: I also love watching Aabria play. She is SO creative and mechanically knowledgeable, I just love watching her play. I also love watching her and Brennan have the BEST time w each other. Have you watched the Strixhaven one shot they did with Mica Burton, Becca Scott, and the Roll20 community manager? It is bonkers, and incredibly fun.

              1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

                I haven’t – I’ll go find it. Because they do have a lot of fun with each other. I did watch the CritRole Elden Ring oneshot……. HorseTasha…..which was Brennan and Kristyna having a grand time with each other.

          2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            Oh, and I love it when you get a glimpse into Brennan the philosophy major….let’s have a funny TTRPG interlude about the meaning of life, the existence of God or the perils of capitalism.

      2. Ariaflame*

        Only some snippets on YouTube, what with CR and the Streampunks games that I watch, and some other streamers and my own games, and catching up on some other things, I don’t have a huge deal of time to fit another RPGstream in. Currently watching Eric Campbell running a Changeling the Dreaming campaign.

        I did love Brennan’s ‘Five’ on the charity stream he participated in with B Dave etc. He and Matt both do things 100% but Brennan is a bit more intense.

  6. Jackalope*

    Book reading thread: what is everyone reading? Anything interesting or fun? Anyone want book recommendations of any sort?

    I recently started a fantasy romance trilogy called The Twelve Kingdoms by Jeffe Kennedy and just finished book 2. It was good and fun and I enjoyed a lot of the beats, but her style doesn’t entirely mesh with mine. I want to finish this series but then I may take a break from this author for a bit.

    1. osmoglossum*

      I just started reading Vagina Obscura by Rachel E. Gross after reading an excellent review of it in the NYT. From the review by Maya Salam:

      “Gross takes on a herculean task, exploring female anatomy from a medical, social and historical perspective, in eight chapters ranging in topic from the glans clitoris to the egg cell to the vaginal microbiome. Some passages skew medically dense and might be wince-inducing for the squeamish. “

      1. fposte*

        I bet I’m not the only one who’s more interested because of the “might be wince-inducing for the squeamish.”

        1. osmoglossum*

          Ha! I’m only 5 pages in so haven’t experienced the wince-inducing passages yet.

    2. Kiwiapple*

      I just finished reading ‘THE GOSLING GIRL’ by Jacqueline Roy, about a young woman who as a child lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media.

      As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve started reading my second Isabel Allende book (the first being Zorro) and it’s Daughters of Fortune. Only a chapter in but I’m already enjoying her writing.

      Also tried to start Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson but I wasn’t feeling it at the time so I’ve put it to one side to come back to later. I’m hopeful about it though as I really enjoyed Seveneves by him.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Snow Crash is early(ish) Stepehenson, while Seveneves is late. There is some difference in writing style, and I have come across people who like only early or only later Stephenson. Given that you liked Seveneves, you might consider tackling Anathem. It requires effort, but it pays off. I consider it Stephenson’s masterpiece. Or if the expression “glorious sprawling mess” appeals to you, there is the Baroque Cycle.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Anathem is a favorite of mine.

          For early (and so shorter) Stephenson I’ll recommend The Diamond Age, which is the book that got me into him after an NPR interview about the motivating idea being educating young girls, and I had one of those.

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          Thanks for this. It means that if I don’t like it then it’s just because it’s a different era. I’m definitely going to try it in the future but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it a few days again. I definitely take a look at Anathem too!

        3. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          My favorite Neal Stephenson book is Interface which he wrote along with his uncle under the Stephen Bury name.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      I just finished The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It was ok, but some of it annoyed me.

      1. Love to WFH*

        I only finished reading it because it was fir a book group.

        The gender/sex elements are central, and filled me with rage.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I think it’s the book’s naivety that annoyed me. I know it was written in the 90s, but even in the 90s we could look at our past and imagine something less naive.

          1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            My book club loved it when we read it in the 90s. I hated it…and I think that was part of it.

      2. Jackalope*

        Which parts annoyed you? I read it a long time ago so I remember liking it but not a ton about the specific details. I do remember one point in the sequel when the author made one too many terrible things happen to the main character and I just shut down from the book. I finished it, since at that point in my life I finished almost every book I started no matter how I felt about them, but I was cranky about it.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          It kinda felt like the author wanted to reimagine the “discovery of America” (but in space!) without dealing with our terrible history with colonization.
          I’m not a very spiritual person, but I couldn’t understand why finding life in another planet = God exists!
          But mainly, as I said upthread, it was all very naive.

          1. HipsandMakers*

            I actually thought the naivete was the point. No matter how many times colonization/colonial empires have failed on Earth, there are people who still believe that there’s a way to do it “correctly.” That hubris was fateful and fatal.

    5. Bazza7*

      These Precious Things by Ann Patchett, this is an easy read, the first essay this book is about her three Father’s, really lovely. She covers a lot of subjects. I like her writing style.

    6. Ariaflame*

      I’ve been reading through some of the T Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon) novels set largely in a shared world with wonder engines and paladins and a chunk of romance. The Paladin of Steel trilogy and I think the Clockwork Boys duology.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I just finished the audiobook of SWORDHEART, a standalone (so far – there’s a sequel-hook at the end) book set in the Clocktaur/Paladin ‘verse. I enjoyed it, though I found the writing a bit repetitive at times, more so than in most of the Vernon/Kingfisher works I’ve read. (There are some hilarious riffs on typical fantasy-adventure tropes – the bit where Halla and Zale are conducting experiments to see just how Sarkis’ magic-sword-soul-jar situation works had me guffawing!)

        1. Ariaflame*

          I was definitely on Team Halla and Zale there. Interestingly it took me quite some time to actually notice Zale’s pronouns.

    7. Princess B*

      Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron. Fun and light without being dumb. It was exactly what I needed and I think I may have gotten the recommendation here on AAM.

    8. Helvetica*

      “Regretting motherhood” by Orna Donath. It is an academic approach to the question of women who became mothers and either knew beforehand they didn’t really want to – but felt pressured to do so – or who regretted it later due to the demands of motherhood. I like it because 1) it distinguishes between regretting motherhood but still loving your children as persons 2) makes it clear how difficult it can be to say no to motherhood 3) gives a good incentive for women to think about whether they want children and not just go with expectations. I have mixed feelings about potentially having children myself and this has really given me a lot of food for thought, especially on how I dislike the societal expectations around motherhood and the quite negative effects it can have on women’s careers, something very important to me. She is Israeli and as I understand, the society is very pro-children and patriarchal, which lends the stories of the women who speak about their experiences quite an interesting additional pressure point.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Hi! Speaking as someone who has lived in Israel and has a fair amount of family there, I’d agree that the culture is very pro-children/family but would argue that the patriarchal component really depends on the specific sector/community. Just some food for thought – otherwise sounds very interesting, thanks for the rec.

      2. Pool Lounger*

        If you like that, I highly recommend Why Have Children? The Ethical Debate by Christine Overall. Published by MIT. I read it in an academic feminist book club. It discusses many of the reasons people give for having children and why they don’t track with the reality of kids. Goes into the environmental aspects too.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress at the moment, including:

      FIVE LOSE DAD IN THE GARDEN CENTRE by Bruno Vincent, one of a series of short books that are a mix of parody and homage of Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” children’s books. Here, the four kids are grown up, and have more adult-problem-type adventures, with Timmy the dog providing the occasional canine reactions. Here, Quentin – father to tomboy George and uncle to the other three – needs a new shed, after inadvertently blowing up his secret-laboratory/man-cave in the house, and the Five accompany him to a megaplex garden centre. Quite amusing, with a surprisingly touching scene or two.

      THE SECRET GARDEN ON 81ST STREET by Ivy Noelle Weir is a graphic-novel reimagining of “The Secret Garden,” set in modern New York City and with a multicultural cast. It actually does a nice job of finding believable alternatives for the original novel’s settings and traumas, while following the original story arcs.

      On the darker side, THE SANATORIUM by Sarah Pearse, a thriller set in a sprawling hotel high on a snowbound mountain (no, not “The Shining,” but there are some similar vibes). The building was once a sanatorium with as bad a reptuation as one might imagine, and the new hotel includes some relics of that time, displayed as objest d’art. But it’s the mysterious disappearances that drive the current-day plot; the reader gets to see the creepy, bizarre attacker(s), while the main characters only know that someone vanished without a trace. Early in the book still, but I’m finding it quite intriguing.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My daughter LOVED The Famous Five at around age seven–we got into a debate as to whether it was the parent or child who decided whether the child went to boarding school. (She intended to go to boarding school and start discovering secret tunnels forthwith.) I will check that one out.

      2. I take tea*

        Oh, I like story versions and have a soft spot for The Secret Garden, I’ll need to check out that graphic novel.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I got halfway through a new book before admitting that it was going from “just not quite hooking me” to “drudgery” and abandoning it to reread a Murderbot book.

      Murderbot and the Scholomance both really got their hooks into me these last 6 months, and in trying to figure out why one thing they have in common is a sense that the plot is really charging forward. Stuff happens, more stuff happens, and to characters I care about. A bit reminiscent of early Miles Vorkosigan adventures. Would appreciate any recs on those lines?

      Recommendation: I really liked The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, about a hidden magical library, which gets into what stories mean and can do.

      1. SpellingBee*

        Ha! I am this very minute reading my way through Murderbot for the third time, and have Deadly Education on my shelf to start next. Also love Lois McMaster Bujold , so we have that in common too! Have you read Elizabeth Moon’s 2 space opera sagas? (Herris Serrano and Vatta’s War.) Both are excellent, with good character development and lots of stuff happening. I also liked the Liaden books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the earlier ones more than the later.

        1. Ariaflame*

          I’m still enjoying the Liaden books, which I think I did hear of via a Bujold mailing list. Agent of Change (first book) or Fledgling (alternate entry) are good places to start with the bonus that they are in the Baen Free Library as ebooks with no cost.

      2. OtterB*

        I’m a Murderbot and Bujold fan also. The Scholomance for some reason didn’t work for me.

        I second SpellingBee’s recommendations.

        I recently read and enjoyed Tuyo, by Rachel Neumeier, and its several sequels (one direct sequel novel, two novellas that are side stories to the main action. A third novel in the direct line is expected out later this year. There’s clearly more to happen, but the endings of the books so far aren’t cliffhangers.) There’s action, and there’s also cultural differences front and center between the two societies the main characters come from.

        If you like space opera, I recommend MCA Hogarth. She has several interlocking series at different angst levels. For action happening to characters you care about, try Earthrise, which is the first of one series and might still be a free ebook. It’s the midrange angst. A trading ship running low on funds rescues a member of an uncommon race and then gets entangled in shady business. Mindtouch starts the low angst series (she calls them her milk and cookies books) with two aliens becoming roommates and ace partners in college.

        Also space opera, You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo. Retired soldier and her old team are running a restaurant on a space station. Cue arrival of an important food critic, explosions, a sentient spacecraft, and more.

        If you might like alt-history ancient Mediterranean, try Sword Dance by AJ Demas and its sequels. Romance between a soldier and a genderfluid ex-slave dancer. There’s also the first book of a new series out in the same general place and time, Honey and Pepper, which I’m reading now.

      3. Librarian*

        Highly recommend the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. They’re fun fantasy adventures that are wittily written and move quickly, kind of a cross between pulp and spy novels but with dragons and fae. I also enjoyed Morgenstern and found Cogman reminiscent in a lot of ways, but more active/fun and less dreamlike.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I love Murderbot so much!!! The audibs read by Kevin R. Free from Welcome to Night Vale are fantastic and capture the snark so beautifully.

      4. KTNZ*

        I have also just recently read (and loved!) the Murderbot and Scholomance books.

        You might also like the Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and the (sort of) sequel the Witness for the Dead. The Goblin Emperor is about Maya, who is summoned from exile to rule his father’s kingdom after his father and siblings are killed in an airship accident. The Witness for the Dead follows a minor character from the Goblin Emperor and is more of a steampunk murder mystery.

    11. Teapot Translator*

      Asking for recommendations:
      I really like the Zofia Turbotynska book series (Profesorowa Szczupaczyńska in Polish according to Goodreads). There’s only two out in English and I don’t read Polish, so I can’t read the next ones until someone decides to publish more translated versions.
      So, anyone has read them, liked them and can recommend other books they liked or that they think are similar?

    12. MMB*

      I just finished A Death in Jerusalem, by Jonathan Dunsky. It’s part of the Adam Lapid mystery series set in 1940’s Israel. Honestly love this series.

      Started Game of Queens about female rulers in 16th century Europe the other day and so far I really like it. It’s very well written and engaging. I’d even recommend it to people who aren’t necessarily into history.

    13. fposte*

      I was tickled to realize I remembered Xochitl Gonzalez, author of Alison’s pick today, from a wedding show years ago. I liked her on it, as she seemed sane in a world that often wasn’t, so I’m glad to see her succeeding in a new area.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      Jerusalem: the biography, by Simon Montefiore. Just after I finished Salem’s Lot, and it’s a total coincidence!

    15. Vanellope*

      I just finished Black Cake, and really enjoyed it. There were a couple of plot points I wish had been resolved differently – well, one side issue really, but don’t want to give any spoilers – but the story was very interesting and I did not see things coming in advance like you often can.

    16. M Thompson*

      If you are looking for fantasy romance recs, check out The Sharing Knife series by Lois M Bujold. Really excellent work by a writer at the peak of her career.

    17. Bluebell*

      I actually read Olga Dies Dreaming this week, and really liked it. Started The Empathy Exams, but it hit a little close to my own medical issues, so I stopped reading. I’m almost done with Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler – a fun mystery with a quirky set of characters plus an awesome dog.

      1. Can't think of a funny name*

        Olga Dies Dreaming looks good so I placed a hold on it at the library but I’m #25 in line…so it’ll be awhile! By the time I get it, I’ll forget I requested it!

    18. cityMouse*

      I am currently reading Artifact Space by Miles Cameron and really enjoying it; likeable female protagonist in interesting situations, fast-paced epic space opera. Also re-reading Mary Stewart’s Merlin series. I loved those books when they first came out, and still do. It’s like visiting with an old friend.

      1. Workerbee*

        She wrote Merlin so well.

        I’ve read her other stories (Thornyhold, Airs Above the Ground, My Brother Michael, et al), and I do still love them for the nostalgia of when I first read them, and for her lyrical turn of phrase and suspense; but damn, does it bug me now that all of her heroines have to be rescued by a man. And the “Well, it’s a man’s world, there’s nothing anyone can do about that,” thread running through all of it. Arrgh.

    19. Llama face!*

      I just picked up a hold from the library today that I have been very eagerly waiting for: High Conflict by Amanda Ripley. It sounds like it could be a really helpful read in these current times. From the book jacket:

      “When we are baffled by the insanity of the “other side”—in our politics, at work, or at home—it’s because we aren’t seeing how the conflict itself has taken over.

      That’s what “high conflict” does. It’s the invisible hand of our time. And it’s different from the useful friction of healthy conflict. That’s good conflict, and it’s a necessary force that pushes us to be better people.

      High conflict, by contrast, is what happens when discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, the kind with an us and a them. In this state, the normal rules of engagement no longer apply. The brain behaves differently. We feel increasingly certain of our own superiority and, at the same time, more and more mystified by the other side.

      New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley investigates how good people get captured by high conflict—and how they break free.”

    20. Tea the Bean*

      Yeah, I have read several Jeffe Kennedy books, and they aren’t exactly my jam. If you haven’t, I would recommend trying some Grace Draven. Kennedy got recced to me because I basically tore through Draven’s back catalog and LOVED it. Their themes are a bit parallel, but I just love Draven’s writing style better.

      The only caveat re: Draven is that her last two (Phoenix Unbound and Dragon Unleashed) are definitely more in the dark romance category than any of her earlier work. I wouldn’t dissuade you, but for a broader view of her writing content, I would recommend trying “Radiance” or “Entreat Me”.

    21. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      The latest of the Maise Dobb’s books came out this week and I “read” that (listened to it while I knit) At the start of the series Maise its the 1920s in London and Maise is a detective. Heavily flavored by the impact of WWI on England. By now in the series its the 1940s and America has entered the war.

    22. E. Chauvelin*

      Yesterday I finished Song of Flight by Juliet Marillier, which I’ll go light on the details about because it’s the last of her Warrior Bards trilogy. I found it decent enough but not my favorite of her work; there were some elements of the overall series plot that I found unsatisfying because of how somebody was initially introduced in the first book. Plus, although I haven’t gone back to verify, I think there were an usual number of narrators for a Marillier book in this last one, and that just seemed not to match. Still I don’t think I’ve read anything of hers that I disliked overall.

    23. Ali + Nino*

      Just started Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker, non-fiction account of an American family in which six of 12 children developed schizophrenia. Can’t put it down.

    24. HannahS*

      I wasn’t huge on the 12 Kingdoms, either. Some books were fine, but some of her worldbuilding made me uncomfortable.

      I’ve been reading a lot of cookbooks lately, and very much enjoyed BraveTart by Stella Parks for its extensive research. I learned so much about the history of American desserts!

      I also enjoyed Kachka by Bonnie Frumkin Morales. The tone was really enjoyable. I don’t think I’ll actually cook much from the book; her recipes aren’t great for keeping kosher, but I’ve asked for a pelmenitsa for my birthday specifically because of how awesome she makes them seem. Then the dumpling extravaganza will begin….

  7. Bread Addict*

    I am moving house today. Last time we moved the cat pooped in her cat carrier and was very stressed. It was her first ever move. She now has a new soft carrier and we are hoping that since she has moved before it will be okay. We are paying movers so at least the furniture and boxes should be easy.

    Also monday I find out if the IVF round 2 worked. So much excitement all at once. So nervous and excited. Big changes!

    1. mreasy*

      Fingers xed and good luck! Also soft carriers can be washed on cold and air-dried, if you ever need it (ask me how I know). But hopefully not!!

    2. Love to WFH*

      It’s not uncommon for cats to poop, or pee, in carriers. Lining it with a pee pad or newspaper is a good idea.

    3. JSPA*

      This may be too late, but the smaller sizes of disposable fiber litterboxes will fit inside a larger soft sided carrier.

      We’ve been known to have our mad pooper fella ride in a disposable litterbox, inside the carrier, with either plastic or a pee pad under the litterbox, plus either a pee pad inside, taped down (make sure the tape can’t come loose and stick to the cat’s fur!!!) or an inch or so of unscented, natural (pine, wheatgrass or corn-type) litter inside the box. (If you use litter, you WILL end up cleaning off your damp cat, but it’s still better than trodden-on cat poo and cat pee stew, everywhere.)

      Extra plastic disposable bags are likewise helpful. They allow you to glove up in a bag, reach in, snag the poo, and pull it out while turning the bag inside out, without unzipping enough to release the cat in the process. I can generally tell when he’s reaching the point of no return by how he turns around and the quality of the mewing (and silence) and can be ready to pull over and make the grab, as soon as the smell starts (and before he starts to try to bury).

      Mine do better if you treat it very matter-of-factly, with an “everybody poops” sort of mindset, rather than it being a crisis.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Congratulations! Moving can be very stressful, as you know, so make sure you’re extra nice to yourselves as well as to your cat today. Pizza and catnip, maybe? And good luck with the IVF!

      1. Bread Addict*

        Thanks All! The move went well. She didn’t poop! She was unhappy but she made it safely and is already exploring and surveying her new kingdom.

        Still got to finish unpacking, and go make sure the old place is ready to hand the keys back.

        Fingers crossed IVF results is a positive on monday now!

  8. Maglev to Crazytown*

    Starting a new job Monday after taking two weeks off. Spent my final weekday off handling emergency vet issues. The 4 day old bottle baby kitten I got from the attic above my previous work’s office turned into a 7.5 month old kitten demon. Who pancaked himself onto the hardwood floor with a mis-adventurous bad landing from a jump, shattering his femur. Got put back together with pins, plates, and wires, and should be coming home this weekend to start his long recovery ahead.

    So, I am excited to start the new job on Monday. But unfortunately have spent my signing bonus already getting my little furball reassembled.

    1. Yay, I’m a Llama again!*

      Poor kitten! I hadn’t realised how stressful it is to own a pet, but we’ve had our puppy since December and I stress about him every week! Hope you’re both okay, and good luck on Monday!

      1. Maglev to Crazytown*

        Congrats on the young puppy! Puppyhood is a wonderful but stressful time! The kitten’s best friend is our 18 month old border collie, who I really credit with his socialization and gentling, avoiding Single Kitten Syndrome of being a little house tyrant. She has been stressed and worried with her little friend missing right now.

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      So much for cats always landing in their feet! LOL

      Poor baby! Good luck on Monday!

      1. Maglev to Crazytown*

        I watched it happen, and it was heart-wrenching. He took a big flying leap, got interfered with mid-air (another pet ran by), and landed with a loud thud. I expected him to shake it off and scamper off like they always seem to do. He laid there in shock for a second, then hissed a few times loudly, and then hauled himself under the nearest furniture without using one leg. Had our vet called in minutes, got a referral to the emergency orthopedic vet, and was out the door with him in a carrier in less than 30 minutes after it happened (for the hour drive). Crazy exhausting day for all parties involved.

    3. Sloanicota*

      As a kitten foster mom, I can tell you that single-y raised kittens are often total terrors haha. They tend to be bitey-er and rougher players, I assume because they’re not getting feedback from their littermates / momma. I’m sure your baby is glad you found him!!

      1. Maglev to Crazytown*

        Honestly, I credit a lot of his kindness with us and the other household animals to our border collie girl who was only 10 months old when he came home. She was also being isolated to the same initial rooms he was first learning how to explore in during play time, and even just loved snuggling and grooming him. And playing hard with him too when he became old enough to do so, getting a lot of his energy out. They are best friends, and she is a sad nervous wreck with him gone. He is a sweet kind love bug with my husband and I, and all of us are worried and missing him right now. I am in my early 40s and grew up in a cat household and have always had cats, and I have never had one with this type of injury!

  9. Brightwanderer*

    I was delighted by how many people chimed in on the Friday 5 answers post to say they write erotica! I would love to hear more from you all – any funny stories or general anecdotes?

    1. Jen*

      I will try to keep this as G-rated as possible, but I like to do collaborative writing with other people. The person who said he was extremely dominant and who agreed to write a particularly “intense” scene which called for that, repeatedly wrote in graphic detail that his character was crying or that he hated what he was doing, when it had been very clear from what we discussed that the character was doing what he was doing because he wanted to. It was so unfortunately comical that I had to stop writing with him. It would always be something like “He [action] and then burst into tears, his face turning red,” and I’d have to be like “Dude, in this universe *your* character set all this up and is really attracted to my character, like??”

    2. Maryn*

      It’s not site-appropriate to share details here, but something I posted online (when I was new to writing erotica and didn’t even try to sell it) taught me a lesson: unlike other genres, readers who are really enjoying the scenario you’ve set up *will* imitate it. Sometimes it goes bad in a way that’s funny in hindsight, even though it took the person to the ER. Weirdest fan mail ever.

  10. Anony*

    Anyone have advice on being a partner to someone with chronic pain, especially with kids in the picture? It is overwhelming taking on most of the house care and child raising, while partner spends most of his free time at home in bed playing video games. He struggles with depression too but won’t treat it. We both work full time. We have a recurring argument in which I ask him to contribute more in whatever way he can and he says I don’t understand his pain. Before kids it was more manageable but now it is really really hard.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Chronic pain gets worse if you sit around. Partner needs to be actively managing his pain by doing PT or other therapies. Or you’d be better off as a single parent.

      1. gsa*

        I wonder what Partner’s Doctor prescribed/suggested. I do not have chronic pain, however I am getting older and creakier. Moving more helps me, same with my wife.

        We will be 53/50 this year.

    2. Camellia*

      Perhaps simply start treating him as a room mate. Expect nothing from him except to not make messes that you have to clean up. He provides his own food (whatever that looks like – take out, heat leftovers of the food you prepared for you and the kids, etc.), loads his own dishes into the dishwasher, washes his own clothes. If you are only washing the dishes used by you and the kids, so be it. If he doesn’t have clean clothes to wear, too bad. If you are both working full time, see if you can hire a cleaning service to come in once a month (twice a month if you can manage it) and clean; we’ve done that for years and it takes less than an hour to do a ‘wet’ clean, which costs us about $65. Then don’t worry about any other cleaning, just let go of the vacuuming etc. for the rest of the month. Do your own activities with you and the kids. Yep, basically act as a single parent with a room mate who pays you $x out of his income to live there. You will have to make some mental and emotional adjustments for that, of course, but letting go of being constantly disappointed by his failure to participate in the lives of you and the kids would be a great relief.

      1. Camellia*

        Should have added, my husband also has chronic pain from a botched hernia surgery 22 years ago, in addition to a severe case of Meniere’s disease, and he can no longer work outside the home. The difference is that he does what he can, such as paying bills on-line, putting his own dishes into the dish washer, and doing his own laundry. So when he has a week where he can’t get out of bed due to a flare-up of his conditions, I understand and sympathize.

        So I empathize with you, having a husband who can actually work but then chooses to contribute nothing at home, when he clearly could be doing at least SOME things.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          So very much agree.

          My husband was very ill and weak. We did not have a diagnosis for quite a while but it was pretty clear he was on a short road. He wanted to stay home and when the time came he wanted to be at home when he passed. (Yes, we had very candid conversations.) I agreed to this. But I set boundaries. He had to participate in his medical decisions and he had to participate in his own self-care to the degree he was able to participate.

          At one point he waited until 10 pm to tell me he was out of a pain pill. He had all day to say he was low and needed more. But he waited instead. So at 10 pm I was driving all over looking for a store that was still open and scared crapless because I left him alone and I was frustrated… so very frustrated. And I was so very tired. When I came back home, we had a chat.

          The chat went like this: “It’s a BAD plan to kill me off. I am willing to help you but I am not willing to run myself ragged and into the ground. If I end up hospitalized then you will have NO one helping you. Your body is not doing so well, but your mind is fine. Use your brain to help keep us working sharp and thinking smart.” In this example here, I asked him to help me keep a list of what he needed so we got it when we went out. (He had a dr appointment almost every day so we were always out.)

          If he has brain space for video games then he has brain space to figure out what he can and will do to help you.
          Marriage (committed partnership) is a privilege, not a right. We earn the privilege to remain in a committed every day. And part of the way we earn this privilege is by working at things to the best of our ability. If his depression is so debilitating that he needs help, then he MUST get help, period. You don’t have the qualifications necessary to help lessen that problem for him. He cannot expect you to “fix” him.

          And check this out, you DO NOT HAVE TO understand. You are not the person trapped inside that body and mind, he IS. If he understands that he has a substantial problem then that is all that is necessary. It’s up to him to act accordingly. With this in mind, when he says “you do not understand” all you have to do is say, “You are right. I do not understand. BUT you do understand and therefore it is up to you to take steps to help yourself. This is a quality of life issue. You can not lay in bed day after day. You have to start to figure out what you are willing to do to get yourself to a better spot.”

          I sound hard nosed. I think. But I also know that even setting goals such as drinking x amount of water each day will help with pain and brain function. NOT a magic bullet, but it is an attempt to help one’s self while one figures out the next step. I actually have a pretty low bar in what I can consider as “helping one’s self.” My husband was severely limited in what he could do. So for him, bathing and feeding himself were major efforts. But he knew that if I took on these two tasks on top of everything else, this would not be a sustainable plan for the two of us. I would not be able to take care of him any more because I’d be laying in a hospital bed somewhere.

          What the two of you are doing now is not sustainable, and you can say this to him. You could end up very ill yourself due to the extreme pressure here. He must decide what he will do differently in order to retain some quality in both your lives. Bottom line if he does not start deciding how to help the two of you, then you will have some decisions to make.

          I wish you the best here. The conversations my husband and I had were hard. But once we pushed through it, neither one of us regretted the effort we put in to the conversations. In an odd turn around, it worked out that we pulled together and pulled in the same direction as a team. So this can happen, but it won’t until you let him know laying in bed day after day is not an option. His job, his work, is now finding help for himself and he must “go to work” every day at this.

          1. Camellia*

            Wow, this is SO well said. You made so many good points.

            “Marriage is a privilege, not a right.”

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I think this is really well explained. (As the partner with physical limits, and in the past depression.)

            Especially the line about how if his depression is debilitating so he cannot help you, then he MUST get help for the depression. That’s part of being a partner.

          3. Burnt Eggs*

            Wow.
            “ Marriage (committed partnership) is a privilege, not a right. We earn the privilege to remain in a committed every day. And part of the way we earn this privilege is by working at things to the best of our ability. ”

            This hit hard on a couple different levels. Copies and is my new fridge quote.

          4. Anony*

            Thank you for this. The part about not having to understand particularly resonated with me.

          5. Pot Kettle*

            Wow, this was good and difficult to read at the same time. I spent more than 20 years taking care of a man who refused to work, claimed to have depression and chronic pain, and yet somehow had enough energy for numerous hobbies and socializing — and spending every penny I could make or borrow. It has been such a relief to be free of that. I know several other women, including multiple family members, who have taken care of men in similar situations — far, far more than I have heard of women taking advantage of husbands.

          6. Dino*

            I lived this. Divorced after 12 years, should have done it much earlier.

            I realized I didn’t have enough energy to keep two people alive when the other one wouldn’t lift a finger to help.

    3. Maglev to Crazytown*

      I second that he needs to be an active participant in his health maintenance, both physical (inactivity worsens chronic pain) and mentally (unmanaged depression). He needs to do it for himself, for your relationship, and especially for the children. You cannot not should not shoulder all this alone. I am saying this as someone who has personal experience with managing 20+ years chronic life-threatening illness with accompanying high pain and fatigue level (I work full-time too), and having extended family in similar boats (some working, some disabled). Even the ones that are too ill to maintain consistent employment have a daily walking or PT routine to manage their conditions such that they can take on household tasks to minimize those for their families. Your husband needs to be a more active participant in his health.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t put up with “I have this major issue that causes all these problems but I refuse to address it.”

      “We’re having a hard time finding the solution” is one thing as long as good faith efforts are happening. But “I’m not even going to try to fix the problems, I’m just going to wallow in them, whine about how hard my life is and let you pick up the slack” is a dealbreaker for me and I’ve divorced that dude twice.

    5. Onwards and Upwards*

      I respectfully disagree with the opinion that chronic pain gets worse if the person is inactive. Perhaps that is the case for some kinds of pain (I don’t know) but I know that if the person has fibromyalgia-type pain or ME/CFS, that involves Post Exertional Malaise, which is where over-exertion causes sickness (such as increased pain, fever, nausea, lack of available energy) and the bar for over exertion is very low. An extreme example is my own situation- one time I cut the tough stems of sunflowers with a knife, and the exertion put me in bed with a fever and nausea for a few days. The way to tackle this is by learning and implementing a practice called “pacing”, involving resting when you need to and experimenting with tiny increments of increased activity when you’re able to. With the aim of increasing the body’s capacity to deal with exertion. It’s hugely challenging and takes a lot of work. Chronic pain is awfully hard to tackle. But….very hard for partners too. Can you ask for more help from others? Can you pay for help at home? (We have someone who comes in once a fortnight for a few hours because this is what we can afford.) Is there funding available to help you with home help? I get that it’s so frustrating if you’re partner won’t work on his depression, while that’s pretty understandable reaction from them it’s asking a lot of you. Mental health does impact chronic pain (unprocessed trauma can be involved for some), as does nutrition and underlying issues with gut health…and many other potential factors. Apols if you know all this already. More info on PEM: Google “Post Exertional Malaise” with “pacing”. Very best of luck.

      1. Camellia*

        Agreed. My husband’s pain is due to shredded nerves, where his butcher of a surgeon put staples through the nerves when he did my husband’s hernia surgery. And my husband worked in a warehouse and when he returned to work still in a huge amount of pain which his surgeon dismissed as ‘stop being a wuss’, his movements at work pulled and tore the nerves around the staples in them. When Worker’s Comp finally agreed to let him see another doctor for a second opinion, the x-rays clearly showed the staples in the nerves. They immediately offered him full disability. Nerves do not heal. On a GOOD day, his pain level is 7 out of 10. He could take morphine, and did for several years, but it couldn’t make the pain go away but only lessen it to maybe 6 out of 10 so he stopped taking it because of the side effects.

        All of that is to say that movement can only increase his pain, it will never lessen it.

        1. fposte*

          I’m not saying this about your husband, Camellia, but fortunately nerves can and do heal. They operate on a much slower timeclock than, say, bone, and sometimes they can be damaged beyond repair (which I suspect is what happened to your spouse). But fortunately they often do heal, as my back will tell you.

          1. Lily*

            I almost completely severed a nerve in one of my fingers. It took about 5 years, but I regained all function and normal sensation.

        2. JSPA*

          nerves do heal, or rather, regrow, though it’s a very slow process. Distance matters, and type of nerve to some degree also matters. (Plus, things sometimes hurt worse in the process.)

          Additionally, there are some spots where destroying the nerve (e.g. with botox) has minimal effect on function, and significant effect on pain.

          This recognition and procedures are only about 10-15 years old–and people are learning more each day. It sounds like maybe it’s been longer than that since he’s had a discussion with a doctor about possible long-term changes? If so (or if he got the sort of doctor who doesn’t update training very often, or at all) it might be worthwhile speaking to someone more freshly trained (or re-trained).

          Will google and drop in some references specific to hernia repair. Ignore, if you’ve already both found them, and don’t trust the medical profession enough to engage further (as would be understandable).

          1. JSPA*

            Note: none of this is offered as a solution! Oblating nerves (botox or surgically) is obviously deep, deep into, “ask your doctor” territory.

            Just offering these to show that nerve pain after hernia repair is a known issue, and that there are now various approaches to fixing that pain.

            https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21668748/

            https://ls.amegroups.com/article/view/6635/html

            https://www.e-fjs.org/article.asp?issn=1682-606X;year=2019;volume=52;issue=4;spage=111;epage=121;aulast=Berri

          2. fposte*

            It does sound like Camellia’s husband was getting treated under worker’s comp, which unfortunately can sometimes mean a lower echelon of care.

            1. JSPA*

              Yes.

              [Insert whatever version of a rant you can tolerate, on that topic, in a light weekend thread, and without barreling into the “discussion of politics” rule, here]

              When it comes to keeping people functional and potentially happy, there are multiple ways to be penny wise / pound foolish.

    6. Venus*

      Agreed with Onwards and Upwards that activity doesn’t help everyone. I have a friend with fibromyalgia and she often needs to rest. Yet she has good and bad days, and always does as much as she can for her kids on the good days. I suspect the much bigger problem is the depression.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Depression is notorious for convincing you that you can’t do anything about it. It’s lying. But it’s very convincing.

      2. Maglev to Crazytown*

        I agree about this. I had a husband (now ex) like the one described. And I was the one in the relationship with life-threatening chronic illness (tack on fibromyalgia amongst the secondary conditions/symptoms), and I was the one working full-time (plus optional paid overtime) and keeping the household running. He quit his job without discussion first or another lined up, and played video games all day. Admitted he had depression, and I tried to initially be supportive, but he wouldn’t even TRY. Amazing how fast his motivation increased once I walked, utterly mentally and physically broken from carrying everything alone.

    7. Lynn*

      It might help you to learn about boundaries. I was in your situation, and I just trudged along for the kids’ sake, resenting my husband. After the kids got past the baby stage we almost divorced. I went to a therapist and learned how to set boundaries. He didn’t like it at first, but now he’s getting the help he needs and we might make it.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I don’t understand how he can work full time but not do any chores at home. Does his chronic pain not affect him 9-5?

      Can your family afford for him to work fewer hours or otherwise adjust his schedule? If he genuinely can’t do housework or parent his kids then in the very least he needs to contribute by working to better manage his mental and physical health, because whatever he’s doing right now is clearly not effective. The plan can’t just be you doing all of your work and half of his forever.

      1. Anony*

        He basically says that he expends all his energy on work and getting through the day, and he needs to rest – and while resting he plays online video games, which also provide a social outlet. Honestly I think if he worked fewer hours he would just play more hours of video games and bring in less income. I really feel that there are things he can do, like entertain a kid (in any way! while sitting down!) while I cook dinner for example, but it’s at this point where I can’t ask him to do things because he says I don’t get how much pain he’s in.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Respectfully, playing video games is not resting. It’s playing video games. I have had bouts of exhaustion (medically diagnosed exhaustion) where all I did with my spare time was sleep. I worked, made meals, took care of the pets and went to bed. Life got to be a real hamster wheel, where I robotically went through the day just waiting for the moment when I could go back to sleep.

          I paid attention to my hydration levels. I got with a nutritionist and started eating better. Very slowly the pain levels went down and very slowly I came up out of the exhaustion. It was a massive effort in part because I had zero concentration. Life is unfair that way, when we feel the worst we have ever felt is the time we have to work the hardest.

          The next time he says, “you don’t get it”. Tell him the “I don’t have to get it” line. And then walk to the phone and inform him that you are making a doctor appointment for him right now and you are going to let the doctor know that he is barely able to do life’s basic functions and he needs help.

          Actually what is going on here is that HE is the one not getting it. He is changing himself into a person who has everything is done for him. This will not improve his situation and it will probably make his situation worse. Nursing homes are full of folks who cannot do things for themselves. If he continues being so complacent about his predicament he will end up in a nursing home because no one will be able to help him return to a functioning adult. Ask him if he realizes this. The time for intervention is now, not years from now.

          Ironically, you can point out to him that EVEN if you did have an in depth understanding of his problems he would STILL not be any better than he is now. Your level of understanding is totally irrelevant to this conversation. You can even say, “then get with a doctor who DOES understand and DOES something.”
          (All spouses do not come preloaded with medical degrees, what’s up with that? He will have to find someone with a medical degree.)

          My mother did this type of stuff where she would just give up and not try to figure out how to help herself. By age 58 she was in a nursing home. By age 60 they had her in a straightjacket. (Those were legal back then.) By age 62 she was dead.

          I will be 62 this year. I have had my share of battles, I can’t complain as others have had it worse. But I do know that what we do when we are faced with a difficult situation can make or break our life story. I could not inhale/exhale for my mother, she had to do it on her own. Likewise with you. There is only so much you can do. It’s okay to say, “At some point, I will no longer be able to take care of you on my own. I will have to bring in outside help.”

          Sadly, the same advice about choices goes for you, too. The way you respond to this situation can make or break your quality of life also. Please put your own oxygen mask on first. Your kiddos are depending on you to do that.
          My heart breaks for you. And I feel a tear or two coming up here. Stay strong.

    9. Swisa*

      I would be honest about how it affects you. Resentment can build up over time. Go to marriage counseling.

      It may be that his pain really does preclude a lot of things he can do to help. But if he’s able to do video games, he’s able to do things like pay bills or plan meals for the week (if you’re preparing them, maybe from a master list of meals you create), and order groceries. Or schedule the vet appointment, or order the Target pickup.

      I would also want him to consult with a Dr and/or physical therapist, ideally with me present, to see if his pain truly is fixed, or if there are strategies to mitigate it.

      I personally feel much better when my husband (who has had various health issues) tries to helo, even if I still have to do a lot.

      But seriously, marriage counseling. You can even do zoom counseling. Ours was covered by insurance because I have anxiety (I guess I was the primary client, and my husband was allowed to tag along).

      His and your life would both likely be harder/more complicated with divorce (which may end up being the result if your resentments keep building), and this can help.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I sympathize with his situation, but he has a responsibility to do what he can. If he refuses to, then he’s a freeloader in the marriage and that’s not a good marriage.

    11. HannahS*

      As the person in my relationship with chronic pain–although at the moment it is not disabling and I have not dealt with depression–here are my thoughts.

      Depression is a huge issue in the situation you describe. It’s normal–in the sense that it’s typical and not surprising–to be depressed when you’re in pain all the time, but it’s also not healthy to be depressed (obvously.) Learning how to accept chronic pain and live the best life you can while being in pain is very hard and it often requires professional help. I came to a point in my life when I realized that I would be in pain always; I could be exhausted and in pain and lie on the couch and watch TV, or I could be exhausted and in pain and doing whatever I could to enjoy life.

      Pain has affected my choice of career and how I live; it has made my life more expensive and more challenging. It made pregnancy harder; it makes parenthood harder. I believe that in a marriage (and especially as parents) people have an obligation to try and be their best selves; if that means getting professional help, then that’s what he should do. Maybe he needs a psychiatrist, or a pain clinic, or a therapist, or all three.

      In a marriage, “I need you to contribute more in any way you can” cannot be answered by “You don’t understand.” So what? “You don’t understand my pain, therefore you need to allow me to lie in bed and play video games all the time?” That’s not reasonable or fair. My husband doesn’t understand my pain. That’s why I tell him what I can and can’t do. It’s very hard on my back to stand at a sink and wash dishes by hand, so I insisted that we live somewhere with a dishwasher. I also can’t kneel and bend to bathe our daughter in the tub, so my husband knows that when she’s too big to bathe in the sink, he’ll have to do bath-time. But even when I’m in a lot of pain I can lie on the couch and sit the baby on my stomach and talk to her while he cleans. Maybe your husband can’t help with the meals, but might be physically able to lie on the couch and entertain the children while you cook. Maybe he can sit on the couch and fold laundry. Maybe he can sit on the couch and help your kids with homework. Or lie in bed with them and tell them stories while you take a few moments to yourself. But I get the feeling that your husband’s depression is interfering with his willingness and ability to problem-solve–that’s why I think seeking outside help is required.

      1. Swisa*

        So much all this! When my husband is in pain, sometimes he watches videos on his phone with our kid in bed while I take a shower.

      2. Owlgal*

        Yes! I have debilitating chronic pain from a car accident that literally broke my back in 2 places in 2008. I’m in constant pain, which increases to be debilitating levels regularly. I work full-time. And, it’s just about all I can do to manage that. I go to a pain doctor & get periodic shots into my back & hips. The shots only sometimes work & come with a myriad of side effects. I have prescription pain meds that I intermittently reluctantly take. There’s the chiropractor. And massage therapy. TENS unit. PT and stretches. Rubs. Herbal therapies. Ice packs. Heating pad. You all get the point. And, yes, sometimes I just need to lie down. My mind is fatigued with working through (and just living with) the pain. Life is so much harder than it once was; harder than it should be. But, I’ve got responsibilities and obligations that are inherent in having relationships & in having children. So, I do laundry. And clean the bathroom. Wash the dishes (with my shoes on, because standing in bare feet is excruciating). I can dust a bit. All of this takes me considerably more effort than it would my husband, but I attempt it. I take rest breaks. The thing is, though, that I at least try. I put effort into these things because it is important to ME that my husband not be alone in doing the work to maintain our life together. I do grieve the life I once had. The freedom. But there’s no changing things. I will likely always be in pain, be limited by pain. And it is depressing. But, it’s still a pretty darn good life.

    12. cleo*

      I’ve been on both sides of this with my spouse – we don’t have kids but we’ve both dealt (or not dealt well) with serious physical and mental illnesses. Some suggestions based on my experience:

      – Ask for what you need – at a time when it’s not a crisis. It really helped me when my spouse said that he liked it when we were partners, working on the same project together and that he didn’t feel like that was true at the time.

      – Couples counseling – it honestly took sitting in our therapist’s office, realizing that our marriage was in serious danger, for me to decide to change my anti-depression meds and get more serious about treating my PTSD. I realized that I needed to take better care of myself for both our sakes – there was no magical cure but I started thinking about how I could take of my spouse and contribute to the family given my limited resources and it made a huge difference. My spouse had to relearn how to ask for what he needed – he’d stopped asking me because he didn’t think I could give it to him (or I said no) and his resentment built up.

      – Be prepared to leave him if it doesn’t get better – in a lot of ways you’re already a single mother

    13. SnappinTerrapin*

      No advice; only sympathy.

      My late wife endured pain for the last several years of her life. It affected our relationship and our children’s lives profoundly. The interplay between her pain, her other physical and mental health issues, and her attempts to mitigate the pain made for a difficult situation all around.

      I wish I could be more encouraging. You are in a difficult situation, and there are no easy answers.

    14. Anon for this*

      This is going to sound harsh, but would it be better for you to be divorced, since you are already a single parent, essentially; if you were not living together it would be easier as you would not be taking care of your partner as well.

      My husband has developed anxiety and depression. At times incapacitating. It’s exhausting. It’s hard on my physical and mental health. We also have a college age kid with a life threatening illness that’s currently in remission; kid is away at college but comes home if ill

      My husband doesn’t like taking medication, doesn’t like therapy. He’s doing both because I told him I would not take care of him if he made no effort. I don’t expect him to be well, but I do expect him to *try*.

      I expect him to get dressed every day and get out of bed. I expect him to try to do some chores around the house. To try. I know that sometimes he can’t. But most days he can do at least a little. (He had terrible back pain a few years ago; “try” meant, do pt every day )

      I love him. But I’m ready to walk away if he won’t try.

    15. Gnome*

      The internet ate my reply. Short version… Things he can do that requires less than paying video games: sort mail, fold socks, read short stories to the kids.

      He may be lonely and depressed, but video games can make that worse. Toddler and up can be enlisted to take/retrieve mail and socks and such… Which will get him interacting a bit more with the family.

      How about family time? Doesn’t have to be a meal, but if he is stuck in bed, you can all hang out for a bit and chat, tell stories, play I-Spy or some kid friendly games. You will feel more connected, if nothing else. If he needs to rest, then instruct the kids that Daddy Needs A Nap and turn off the lights, etc.

      I spent yesterday in bed feeling like death due to a migraine. I did basically nothing. I could not have played a video game. I couldn’t even read most of the day. But barring being that sick, which if he is all the time then he won’t be working, he can spend some time with the rest of you and help at least a little. Heck, if you can play computer games you can probably take care of paying bills online…

  11. Camellia*

    Here is a dumb, stupid first world problem. My husband and I are bored. We’ve been together nearly twenty years. We loved going to museums, zoos, aquariums, arboretums, festivals, fairs, state and local parks, gem and mineral shows, antique shows, renaissance fairs, etc., etc., etc., and we filled our weekends with these activities and loved every minute of it. But the last couple of years (prior to Covid), it started feeling like, oh…another painting. Oh…another tiger. Oh…another craft booth. Oh…another tree/tank of fish/local band/fill-in-the-blank. Total ennui.

    Now that restrictions are lifting and more activities are resuming, there is nothing we want to do. One of us will say, “There’s that one museum we haven’t been to yet, you wanna go?” Then we look at each other and say, “No, not really.” “Wanna go to the Saturday Art Market again, for the umpteenth time?” “No, not really.” Ditto with all the other things we used to do. We’re trying to think of new stuff, but nothing is sparking our interest; it’s mostly just variations of things we’ve done before.

    As for hobbies, my job is very creative and it uses up all my creative ‘juices’, so I don’t have any left over for creative hobbies like crafts-n-stuff; believe me, I’ve tried. Reading is my all time favorite hobby and luckily I can still do that. His is playing video games, which I don’t because I stare at computer screens all day for my job, plus the graphics and movement in the games trigger my motion sickness. We are older and we both now have some disabilities that do limit us a bit; for example, we can no longer go bowling or skiing, and neither of us can be on our feet for more than three or four hours at a time. Thank goodness we both love watching TV and movies, and that has become our primary source of entertainment now. But we would really like to have something to do on a weekend, that we don’t do during the week. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    1. Brightwanderer*

      Could you consider volunteer work of some kind? Specifically, I’m thinking of the kind of volunteer work that involves introducing other people to the things you mention enjoying. Helping kids practice reading – or showing them around aquariums – or teaching them about minerals. Working with disadvantaged adults who’ve never been in a museum in their lives, giving them opportunities to experience this stuff and learn from it. That sort of thing? I feel like passing the joy on to someone else might be a way to rekindle it for yourself.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Seconding the volunteering idea. You guys sound like really interesting people and could be really good at being a docent at a museum or any other of those cool places you’ve been to!

    3. eisa*

      Have you considered geocaching ? It is really fun and you can pick and choose – from “drive to location, park, walk 30 meters, get the cache” to “hike in the forest required” to “you need to solve this difficult puzzle first” to a multi-stage scavenger hunt type of thing (.. to “climb a mountain” / “dive to the bottom of this lake”)

    4. eisa*

      If that’s your thing, you can also find a group that plays board games (or start one yourself)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Check at your library to see if there are any game groups starting back up again.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I was thinking this too – maybe what you and your husband are missing right now is deep community, a circle of friends/family that makes you feel loved and that you can share your struggles and successes with. It has been a long scary pandemic, I think people are craving emotional closeness right now in a way that going to a museum just isn’t going to scratch. Maybe a recurring social activity where you can get to know people will be more appealing.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Read the same book and discuss? My husband and I do versions of this all the time, or just talk about things we are each reading, even if it does not interest the other person one bit.

      What about taking a class? Learning something new is always fun for me. Cooking, making, intellectual, whatever. Or at the very least I appreciate someone else loving the thing. For example, I hate eating mushrooms, but I loved the project in school where I ended up visiting the local amateur mycologist club, their enthusiasm was absolutely infectious. I also learned some interesting stuff that was not related to eating mushrooms. Anything that puts you in contact with really passionate people can be totally fun without you needing to be individually excited about it.

      What about something local that makes you see your area differently? I’m thinking tours run by someone who knows all the local flora and fauna? Also full of excited people.

      Speaking of people, are other people interesting to you? If so, anything like a local hiking or book club can get you out and about with a sacred activity and plenty of time to socialize.

      And lastly, I’ll ALWAYS plug learning a language. It is endlessly interesting–I’ve been learning mine for well over half my life, but I still run into new fun things all the time–a joke I’ve never heard, a colloquialism of perfection, a new outlook on life. It is a lot of work, but can also be a great shared activity in my opinion.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        *shared. A SHARED activity, not sacred. Or at least, not necessarily sacred. Sorry about that!

    6. kina lillet*

      There’s three things I’m not hearing—one is, other people besides you and your husband, another is nature, and another is a sense of…value I guess. Apologies if I misread or you simply didn’t emphasize these in your post, just looking for some avenues.

      First, are you doing these activities with just your husband? Can you do some of them separately with other friends? Are you involved in other peoples’ lives, can you gossip about goings on in your community? A new activity might be trying to make new friends; going to a gem show with some new acquaintances who’ve never been would, I think, feel quite different from normal. I’m wondering if there’s a little loneliness involved. When we moved to a new city, my husband and I had each other but were pretty lonely without other friends—much happier now that we have a community.

      Second, I know it’s a cliche, but nature is infinitely variable, especially once you start learning more about it. What about birdwatching, or learning to identify plants, or looking for frogs in a wetland? Doesn’t need to be a full hike, but there’s always something new even if you go to the same patch of woods over and over.

      Finally—other commenters have suggested volunteering, which I think makes sense. I mentioned value because I didn’t want to say productivity, I suppose; but it seems like you want to be busy, and sometimes consumptive activities—buying, looking, touring—fail to feel satisfying in that way. So if you’re feeling already rested and want to feel engaged, it might help to get involved in volunteer work.

    7. Little Miss Sunshine*

      If available, be a tourist in your own town. Take a guided bus tour or visit local historic sites and learn more about where you live.

      Don’t feel obligated to find new activities for both of you right away, explore individual interests and share your experiences with each other.

      Volunteering your time either individually or together is another option, and again, this will give you more things to talk about and may spark interest in new hobbies.

      Give yourself permission to try many things and enjoy!

      Think about making your time together more special, like date night, rather than feeling like you have to do things together because you are married.

      If you do more things apart, you may find that you are more energized during your time together as you are able to still discover things about each other.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      A couple, somewhat contradictory:
      • View this as a time in your life. You like to read, he likes to play video games, and you like watching TV together. Those are rewarding. Possibly two years from now something will spark an interest and you’ll pursue it–no need to try to force it when you aren’t yet feeling it.
      • Have something that you do only on weekends. e.g. Movies are only on the weekend. It doesn’t have to be something that is physically only possible on the weekend, just something that you choose to shift to then so it’s special and breaks up the weeks.
      • If you have a vague itch but don’t know what would scratch it, skim through the offerings at your local high school extension classes, classes attached to all those museums, etc. Or choose a course from the Great Courses to do on weekends. Being a student again might be what you need. (It needn’t be “how to paint a flower.” It can be “how to diagnose your own plumbing problem” or “how to identify local bird calls.”)

    9. Not A Manager*

      In the old days, there was a leisure time activity called “going for a drive.” When I was a kid we used to do this with my older relatives. Depending on where you live and what your physical situation is, you could pick a scenic route with or without a destination, and go for a few hours’ round trip drive. You can stop along the way for a meal or to poke around in a little town, or not.

      Sometimes scenic drives are near places that are pleasant to walk in or sit in. I do find that “forest bathing” and just “nature bathing” in general can be really restorative.

      If you have the discretionary resources, it can also be pleasant to pick a nearby location and stay over at a little hotel or a B&B.

      I do wonder if moving a bit further afield might rekindle some of your interest in activities you used to enjoy, like popping into an art gallery or a festival.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My husband and I still do the Sunday drives! Sometimes we have a specific destination like a state park, other times we explore small towns. Gas may be up,but it’s still fairly inexpensive entertainment – especially now that it’s picnic weather. We also combine history with these trips and find living history museums and events like historical reenactments.

    10. HannahS*

      How about having people over? Entertaining CAN be as simple as “order a pizza” but it can also be a chance to work together on something fun, if you enjoy (and only if you enjoy) planning elaborate meals and tablescapes and making things from scratch.

    11. Cocafonix*

      My cousin did a random date thing with her husband when things got a bit stale, mostly because they got tired of thinking of things to do. I don’t remember the details, but they had a proverbial jar full of activities they like to do or try, types of food in another, and neighbourhoods in their big city in the last. Then randomly pull from each one. So they might pick cycling in Marylebone for middle eastern food. They’d figure out what to see or do along the way, decide whether to picnic or eat out, etc. Usually it would be a “day” date. She said sometimes the fun was to search for anything “museum” in some out of the way neighbourhood. She said they met interesting people and found great little restaurants they’d never have otherwise tried.

    12. Maglev to Crazytown*

      You sound like older versions of my husband and I (based on your age group description). We do a lot of what you do, but we mix it up with each of us having separate hobbies we support each other on but do not directly engage in, also the board game nights with other couples, and volunteering together.

      We don’t watch TV or movies, but we both enjoy separate video games as far as that niche of needing something lower energy and brain engagement. We have separate Nintendo Switches, and oftentimes one of us will play while the other reads or engages in another hobby nearby.

    13. moonstone*

      Some possibilities:

      Maybe something more interactive? I know you don’t want to do arts and crafts type stuff, but it seems like what you’re missing is the participation aspect. You’re just doing things in which you’re a spectator, which is a different type of pastime and imo can get boring pretty quickly.

      Could you take a weekend trip somewhere different? Like a hiking/camping trip, or a drive out to a winery or something? It’s possible you’re just bored of the usual places.

      Is it possible you and your husband spend too much time together? Maybe you both should spend some weekends doing your own things, hanging out with other friends, etc.

      1. moonstone*

        One other option: it’s possible you’re putting too much pressure on yourselves to plan things. Allow yourself to just wander around somewhere and see what’s there. Sometimes unplanned days ended up being the most fun for me.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I also recommend doing some kind of volunteer work. When you don’t have any pressing problems of your own and if you’re up to it, it can be very rewarding to help other people or organizations. You should be able to find an organization whose mission you support. It will get you out of the house and, often, it can be a good opportunity for social interaction, a low stakes chance to visit and make small take with people whom you might not otherwise interact.

    15. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Talk to your local library! They almost certainly have events, classes, and trips, and most librarians would be delighted to help you find something that piques your interest. Alternatively, many of those events could use volunteers, even if you can only give a few hours, or help with the planning and sign up.

    16. JSPA*

      Not every craft or “maker” thing is intrinsically high-creativity, but high-creativity people tend to go at them from that angle, which makes them way more intense than necessary.

      Not to say that someone can’t knit the world’s most creative socks or scarf, with bespoke yarn spun from your pet’s fur, if that’s their jam! But a plain scarf? That’s a simple sense of accomplishment.

      Make it all gray, knit-purl the whole way, so there’s no question of it being an esthetic competition; it’ll keep you warm, regardless, when finished. It’ll busy the fingers and sooth the mind and open the flow of conversation (or make you comfortable sitting in companionable silence). You can do it while you chat and sit on a park bench, when a short walk turns out to have been plenty of exercise.

      Many other crafts have an equivalent; find the quotidian version, not the instagram version.

      e.g.: Dry some herbs, without worrying about color retention. Try basic basketweaving. Hem too-holey pants into shorts. Turn a shirt collar down if it’s frayed, and sew it into a mao-style collar. Pick fruit, make freezer jam. Join your local forager group / mushroom identification club. Do a half hour stream or roadside cleanup, without fanfare or posting, and enjoy that the world is a little cleaner. If you’re solidly eco enough to commit, and if climate and strength allow, find a group doing smoke spotting on your most polluting local industries, or water testing on your local body of water. Walk puppies at the local animal shelter. Set up and stock a little free library (official TM or not) and/or a little free pantry, or make a map of the ones around you, and make a point of adding a book or some food to them, on a regular basis.

      Basically, define for yourself what would make the world just slightly happier–no herculean efforts or deep intellect required–and be that pair of hands / eyes, once or twice a month.

    17. TDS*

      Have you tried just going to do the thing? Once you’re out of the house and at the museum (or whatever), you might find that you enjoy it. Maybe it’s just not a habit anymore & the idea of it is less appealing, but once you’re there or afterwards you might feel it was a good way to spend an afternoon.

    18. Jean (just Jean)*

      Are there any local, regional, or national causes that you support? I’m thinking about anything from helping to preserve the local historic mansion (or theater, railroad station, etc.) or watershed to deciding that you really do, or don’t, want to see Candidate X voted into public office, and then attending candidate forums, or handing out leaflets at street fairs to solicit donations for Historic House or letters to one’s elected officials about not paving over the local forest or signing up canvassers for/against Candidate X.

      The other one is about pets: do you want to become a foster home for rescue dogs or cats?
      Do you and your spouse want to learn a new language together?
      What about cooking classes? Or cooking for the local soup kitchen? Or organizing the next used book sale for the library or high school?

      I hope y’all find something satisfying to do. Enjoy,

    19. Camellia*

      So many great suggestions, thank you, everyone! I will be sharing these with my husband and see what we come up with. This community is so awesome, I really appreciate it.

    20. Hey it’s Teatime*

      Something a friend and his husband used to do: activities in 6-week cycles. For example they had classes with a singing teacher and learnt one acapella piece together. Then on to the next thing. I like this idea for exploring new activities because it takes the pressure off it being your “new thing” now, but it’s also more than a single time so you can get a bit more out of it.

    21. tangerineRose*

      Have you tried going to a museum, zoo, etc. even if you don’t feel like it? Sometimes actually being there will be more fun than you think. We’ve all gotten used to not going places.

    22. Coast East*

      Local community or college theaters sorta give an excuse to dress up, are way more affordable than broadway/national tours (sometimes cheaper than a movie!), and even offer volunteer opportunities. Working on a set doesn’t require too much creativity if you have to follow a set directors vision, or you could try the acting!

      I currently live in my favorite city but I’ve also been completely “meh” about every outing lately, so I get where you’re coming from. Maybe with stuff slowly opening up, more options will become available. Hope you feel more inspired soon!

  12. Kelly Kapoor*

    Solo travellers with anxiety – please share your experiences and tips with this newbie (me)! What strategies have you used to both accommodate anxiety-brain and also enjoy your trip?

    1. Sloanicota*

      So I love to travel alone and I also have an anxious mind. Others will no doubt disagree but I’d say what helps is setting my boundaries up front. I don’t go alone to a country where the language doesn’t use English characters, for example – I would join a travel group for that, because it would be so easy for me to get in over my head. When I’m alone if I leave the city and get out into the countryside, I tend to do something more structured with set times versus something like camping/hiking in a foreign country where I don’t know anyone. I also talk to people who know the place I’m going and ask them questions (“was it easy to get around by the train? How often did people speak English? Was it easy to drive yourself? Can you recommend lodging that was friendly and not creepy?”)

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Interestingly, for me, I had far less anxiety in a country without English characters and very little English speaking than I did in one with English characters and decent amount of people that spoke English.

        I think being somewhere where things were far less familiar allowed me to feel better about myself when I got something wrong or confused because of course I’m not going to be great at something so far outside my norm. I had way more anxiety where I just wasn’t getting things when I felt like I should (even though that also wasn’t fair to myself).

        I loved immersing myself where no one spoke English and I had some amazing interactions with people through just pantomiming or sometimes Google translate.

        1. Kelly Kapoor*

          That’s fascinating, I would never have imagined it, but the explanation makes sense! Thank you for sharing

      2. Kelly Kapoor*

        Thank you Sloanicota! These sound very similar to what I would need to feel safe, going to take some ideas from this

    2. Helvetica*

      Google Maps! Before I go somewhere, I always map out the route I will be taking from airport/bus station/etc to the hotel, on the streetview. When I am on the ground, it makes me feel like I’ve been there before because I recognise the buildings and my brain doesn’t get panicky.
      I’ve mostly been alone in cities. So I also map out the places I’d want to eat, checking them out beforehand (reviews, menus, etc) so I don’t get lost in the choices and because I like to eat good food not random food but we tend to not make great decisions while hungry.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is what I do too! I love to go places, but I hate getting there, especially if I have to drive in an unfamiliar area. Once I’m AT the place, I’m fine, but driving when I don’t know what’s going on around me has me white-knuckling the wheel.

        FTR, taking public transport does not trigger this anxiety. Example: I’ve been to London enough times that I know roughly where stuff is. So, now one of my favorite things to do there is find an area I haven’t been to and get “lost.” (During the day, I might add—I don’t do this at night!) I can read the tube map and as long as I can find a station, I’m never truly lost and I can always find my way back.
        I plan and plan but try not to overplan, so I have room for spontaneous side ventures.

      2. Kelly Kapoor*

        That is a great idea, going to borrow this! I feel nervous about getting lost so this will definitely help. Thank you for sharing

    3. fposte*

      A big one is cutting myself some slack. I’m a huge planner, probably an overplanner, and I want to do All the Things! And I have a better time if I admit that sometimes I want to go back to the hotel and have a nap instead of walking the entire city. So I try to identify the main priorities and consider everything else just a secondary possibility, and even on the main priorities I stay flexible.

      1. Lore*

        Totally agree! I also find that for solo travel I need to have lodging and transport booked solidly ahead of time and I’m willing to play everything else by ear. I put a lot of time into finding places to stay that are walkable from things I want to see or do—that way if I get somewhere and find I don’t feel safe on transit at night, say, I’ll have plenty to do/eat/drink in walking radius. (This has never actually happened; I love public transit! But I feel better knowing.)

      2. Kelly Kapoor*

        How did you know I needed to hear this D: I’m also an overplanner who wants to do everything haha. This is a great point

    4. MissGirl*

      I’m not sure if you’re considering group travel as a solo person so disregard if it doesn’t apply. I’m single, want to travel, and have a hard time finding people to travel with. I also have high anxiety about travel. I found a couple of singles travel groups that do all the planning so all I have to do is get on a plane.

      I went to Peru with Flash Pack (a company for 30s and 40s singles) and had a blast. It was so freeing to know we had a guide who spoke the language with us. We also did some off-the-beaten-path adventures to get to know the local culture better. I definitely want to go with them to Costa Rica soon.

      I also found a singles travel group within my religion. This is nice because I don’t drink and a lot of Flash Pack adventures include full days at wineries and other activities like that, which I don’t want to waste a day tagging along. They do more local, cheaper trips so it works for some of my needs but all.

      This summer I’m going camping in Canada with an adventure travel group based in Canada (Fresh Adventures). This doesn’t have limitations on what types of people go so I’m a bit worried about being the only single person with families and couples. I want to give it a go and see how it is.

      With these trips, however, I’m also building my confidence in travel and working through my anxiety. There may be a day when I choose to travel alone. We’ll see. I live and work alone so I actually like having human interaction on my trips.

      1. Kelly Kapoor*

        I’m definitely open to it, but my local tour operators (I’m in an Asian country) tend to have a ‘squeeze all the touristy things into 2 days and move to another city’ mindset, which I’m not keen on :( I will look into international tour operators as well, never considered that before. It sounds perfect to have the tour company do all the planning! It would also help, like you said, to make me feel more confident in travelling alone. Thanks for sharing!

        1. MissGirl*

          I’ve seen this problem too. I’m not always keen about the travel part of traveling. Perhaps look at some inclusive resorts. I went to Costa Rica and stayed at some small boutique resorts where all the meals and activities could be accessed through the hotel. It made it so we were able to stay one place longer but still took out the anxiety of having to plan everything or know about everything.

    5. JSPA*

      Have backup systems / backup ways to check in with people, and use them.

      Download WhatThreeWords, and be ready to pop it on, if something feels a bit off, and tag your exact location to a friend. Also, know the local equivalent of 911, and know whether you can call it, from your phone.

      Make sure you know what hours food is accessible! In Tokyo, with vending machines, this may be “24/7/365.” In some countries, there is no way to access food from (say) noon to 2 PM, if you’re not at a restaurant. Or from 2 PM to 8 PM, at a restaurant. Being unexpectedly hungry and thirsty makes any situation fraught.

      People who try to hustle you “for your own good” are broadly to be avoided.

      Decide you’re OK with something that’s not perfect, over something that might be perfect, but might be you getting in a jitney with mystery people.

      Reconfirm that connections actually exist–even in this season, even after Covid. “Google says this ferry runs MWF at 9 a.m. throughout the year” is a starting point, not a fact to be trusted.

      Have backup plans for making connections, if something is cancelled. Don’t set up plans that strand you, if a train is late, a flight is delayed, etc.

      Go outside, regardless of whether you feel enthusiastic and “up to” meeting people. You can walk in a park, or windowshop.

      In general, people are more chill in early morning hours than late night hours, but remember, one person’s late night is another person’s early morning.

      Give people space.

      Have plans for maintaining your own safe boundaries. Do not be the person who gets kissed by the stoner dude with cold sores on the metro, because you are deep in an internal debate about exactly how to say “no” politely. If you’re in a culture where someone getting grabby with your body, or deeper and deeper into your personal space is still a thing, be mentally prepared to push them or slap their face or forcefully say, “hell no” in their face, and flounce or stomp off (whether you are female, male, or otherwise). “When in Rome,” basically.

      Or if you cotton to it quickly, ask some nice older lady or mom with kids if you can walk alongside, because a person is bothering you / a man is following you.

      Do not make a dear friend on the train who turns out to “just” suddenly need $200 for an emergency that just showed up on her phone. (You probably are an easy mark, and you certainly have fewer local resources than the people around you; have the humility and awareness to process this fact, and commit to letting someone else handle other people’s emergencies.)

      In your own culture, you can (and often should) make a stand against victim blaming, and march for your right to wear anything–or nothing at all!–and not be hassled. Let’s stipulate that. However, in someone else’s culture–unless you’re joining someone else’s movement or march–it’s neither safe nor wise to assume this attitude. Especially if you don’t have the language skills and awareness of local law to back up your stance.

      Be aware, therefore, of how others are dressed and how they present. Try never to be the only person in short shorts; the only person in a halter top; the only person with tattoos showing–or whatever it is that may signal something cultural that you don’t intend to signal.

      1. Kelly Kapoor*

        Thank you so much for this detailed and insightful comment! Bookmarking this to refer to later as well

    6. Sunflower*

      What specifically is giving you anxiety about the trip? I solo travel a lot and can give specific tips if I know what you’re concerned about!

      Generally, I always have a solution for a worse case scenario in my head- which mostly relates to a solution involving paying more than I want but it will get me to safety!

      1. Kelly Kapoor*

        Ah basically everything since I’ve never gone on a solo trip before, but the major ones are:
        Missing my flight (I’ve actually done this before and keep thinking it will happen again :/)
        Catching covid and having to quarantine in an expensive place, or any other illness
        Losing my documents and being stranded in an unfamiliar place
        Crime against women, a big reason of why I’m not keen on travelling within my country although it would be easiest in all other respects

        1. Lore*

          For the documents—I always make a set of color copies on paper and stow them in my hand luggage, and then also scans or photos on my phone. And I leave my passport in the hotel safe unless I know I’ll need it.

          I overcorrect for fears of missed transportation and just assume I’m going to spend an extra hour at the airport reading a magazine if all goes smoothly. Truly 50% of my travel anxiety is about getting to the airport/train station so I’ve just decided to embrace that.

          Another tip: you can download maps from Google Maps to be available offline. You can’t get directions or street view while offline but the blue dot still knows more or less where you are and you can still move around the map. In major cities the Citymapper app is also helpful.

        2. Texan In Exile*

          I have traveled alone or as the trip planner a lot. Here are some of my strategies:

          * Missing my flight: I figure out how to get to the (foreign country) airport even before I start my trip. For instance, when I went to Madrid for the first time, I did a lot of research, checking with various sources, about how to get to Barajas for my flight home. I wasted a lot of money on a taxi (35 euros) the first time because I was too nervous to try the bus, but have taken the bus (5 euros from Atocha) ever since.

          * Catching covid: Some places have been offering help with that! We went to Spain in Nov. The government was offering to put up and treat tourists who caught covid on the trip. And taking our covid test to return home was so, so stressful that time that when we went again in Feb, we took extra tests and tested ourselves the day before our official test just so we’d have some time to plan if we were positive. (We were not. Spain has a really high vax rate – I felt safer there than in the US.)

          * Losing my documents: I email photos of my passport to myself in case I need to replace it. During the trip, I keep my passport (and credit cards) in one of those little neck holders that you wear under your clothes. It’s not comfortable, but it’s the only way I feel safe. I never leave my passport in my room.

          * Crime against women: When I travel alone, I do the same things I do at home. I don’t go out after dark unless it’s in a well-lit, populated place. If a man makes me feel uncomfortable, I find a group of women to walk with. (I did this in Paris – caught up with two women and started talking to them as if they were my best friends.)

          I trust my instincts. I traveled alone from Chile back to the US after I finished my Peace Corps stint. At first, I was nervous about the men who hassled me on public transit, but after a little while, I finally learned to say, “Don’t sit by me. Don’t talk to me. Leave me alone.” It was really really hard! In the US, women are conditioned to think above all about men’s feelings. But damn – why don’t they think about ours?

        3. JSPA*

          Recently, I do indeed plan through my flights (and pre-flight covid testing and really hard-core masking) with an eye to not getting stuck in an expensive hotel, when I could be hunkered down solo in a cheaper spot.

          I forgot to include location specific items.

          Paris–check for strikes. And if time is tight, be located somewhere where you have multiple ways to maneuver, in case of RER or local airline strikes or metro line closures. There are web pages that will often tell you, a day or even two days in advance, specifically when a transit strike is about to happen.

          Delhi–this may have changed, but the mosquitos used to hit even before the baggage carousel, incoming. I learned to slather up with repellent right in the plane. Covid is on everyone’s minds, but Malaria still exists, and is no less deadly than in the past.

          The easiest large airports I know of are Changi and Schiphol. I like Denver as well. The new international terminal of Newark is lovely, airy, and open; the old part of Newark is still one of the circles of hell (and stuffy, and people are practically belly to belly).

          I don’t take ice or drink non-bottled water or eat uncooked fruit and veg on airplanes. That came to me courtesy of a fairly famous microbiologist, back in the late 80’s. The bacterial contamination problem is nowhere near as bad as it used to be, but…there’s a worldwide norovirus outbreak happening.

          Do wash your hands with actual soap and water, whenever you have the chance. Hand sanitizer doesn’t work on most enteroviruses.

          Many infectious agents cause minimal effects on the local population, as they’ve encountered them repeatedly, over their lifetimes. And mineral content (which affects “speed of digestion”) varies widely. Someone local drinking the water, or you coming from someplace where the water is supposedly less safe? That doesn’t mean your system will handle the water.

          Tourist areas tend to have the same long list of tourist scams that are more irksome than dangerous. The free tour to where they make X, that comes with the hard sell, to buy X.

          The hotels that will have no record of your reservation which you have pre-paid, and assure you that if it’s a double payment, your online booking service will reimburse you. The same hotels, that when you show them the documentation of the paid, confirmed booking, will tack on more charges than allowed (do allow for additional charges that ARE real, BTW–occupancy taxes can add 10% or even 20%). Or who charge as you check in and promise you can just drop the key at checkout, then try to insist you pay again as you check out.

          Get your massages in your home country, or outside on the beach in public. Every country I know of, some percentage of the “massages” are code for something quite different. That’s true regardless of gender.

          Some hotels don’t rent to single women, presuming them prostitutes. It’s often the same price to book as a couple, and mention on checking in that your husband’s flight was delayed, he may be cancelling entirely / your sister failed her Covid test and won’t be joining you, etc.

          Do not invite people up to your hotel room.

          Cheap non-smoking hotels often smell of smoke.

          Cheap tourist hotels in Amsterdam smell of other smoke, and there will be a street-full of non-Dutch people singing, “we all live in a yellow submarine” at 2 AM. Every night. This stops being charming quite soon.

          Amsterdam is worth remembering. And it’s safer not to smoke.

          Other countries and cities likewise, for alcohol likewise.

          Every drink you don’t drink in public is one less chance for someone to slip something into it. (That’s true at home, also.) At some point, you will be a seasoned traveller, and can make reasonable choices about risk. In the meantime, reduce risk.

          Some excellent museums and historical sites are in neighborhoods where you may not feel safe.

          Where I feel unsafe (or stick out as an obvious outsider) and where you feel unsafe (or stick out as an obvious outsider) are not the same places where this is true for you. Filtering Tripadvisor by language can be somewhat helpful in this regard, as can searching for relevant keywords (“female” and “harassment” and “racist” and “safe” and “tense”).

          Plenty of situations can be odd and unfamiliar without being threatening, per se. But if the level of “strange” is so distracting that it messes with your threat-perception abilities, you’re allowed to back off, all the same. Like a relationship, there’s no reason you must prove something by hanging around a particular place or having a particular experience, if you find that it’s not working for you.

          I find things like “going to the top of a famous tall building” or “hiking up a mountain” or “a ladders, ropes and zip lines adventure course” or “going down into a historical salt mine” or “trying discover SCUBA” (even if full of other tourists) will scratch my sense of adventure, and then I can happily spend much of my time noticing little details. Decorated “manhole” (utility covers) in Japan; hand-painted road striping and painted bullock carts in rural southern India; kids and teens with giant saturday candy bags in Sweden, etc).

          On that note, if you like the quirky–Atlas Obscura is a good thing to incorporate. I also always look for bike rentals (and call in advance), as well as making sure it’s allowed to bring the bike to the room, or that there is other secure storage. (I sometimes bring my own bike lock, on the assumption that the rental company has the master key for all of their locks.) I also try for areas where you can spend multiple days that are rich with delight and experience and exercise, without needing a car, or where a car is a burden.

          Amsterdam and Stockholm again score high; so do Lisbon, Porto, Cohimbra in Portugal, if you don’t mind hills; so, perhaps surprisingly, does Tokyo. Lucerne and surrounding towns around the lake, by boat. Milan and Verona are less intense than Rome. Prague is very navigable by foot and bike. I found myself anxious in Singapore, that I would unintentionally do something untoward, like get a bug in my mouth and spit. Thailand…OK, in some ways fine, and the beaches are beautiful…but I had an old woman knocking on my door the first night I was there, trying to sell me her very underage “daughter” for sex. (To be fair, I have also heard english speaking expats in Japan and in the Philippines bragging in english about “scoring” young girls, and about teaching at schools for expat girls there, and dating the 15 year old students, and that didn’t as strongly color my reactions, perhaps because I spent more time there, or because that wasn’t my very first impression, while exhausted, jet-lagged and on melatonin.) In Australia, I’ve generally felt I needed a car. In India, I’ve generally felt I needed both a car and driver (it’s the only country so far where I’ve felt entirely unqualified to drive). I prefer knowing that I can be self-reliant for necessities, rather than using a rideshare or tuk-tuk; if the tuk tuk or rideshare situation seems pretty mellow once I’m there, I can always change things up, and do that as well.

          The inter-city bus system in Brazil is, so far as I have experienced it, clean, comfortable, and as highly professional as domestic airlines in many countries. However, random drivers and motorcyclists in brazil (especially in the cities) are crazy…and the colorful areas are so delightful that one tends to lose track of danger.

          Many countries allow pre-teens or young teens to drive mopeds / low powered motorcycles without a license. Mopeds in these countries are disproportionately driven by people who have lightning fast reflexes, no sense, no fear of death, and whose parents pay for their gas. Assume this (and be pleased when they’re used sanely).

          My sense of direction is medium-solid, so I do better in a large town or small city or extremely well-marked out neighborhood of a larger city, than in “the big city.” You know you; adjust accordingly.

          Japanese maps are very pretty, but notoriously impressionistic, not realistic, as far as distance, missing streets, geometry.

          If you’re in any area where you can’t read the language, and you’re setting out in some direction, have a pre-drawn map with the words laboriously copied out. If rain is in the forecast, waterproof it with tape on both sides or double zip loc baggie. (Don’t trust that your cell phone won’t run out of charge, or assume that you will be able to charge.)

    7. Cendol*

      Following this thread. It’s been a while since I traveled and I was astonished to find myself having a panic attack in a crowded place during a trip last month. I hadn’t realized how isolated I’d become!

      In the before times, when traveling solo, most of my anxiety was temporal/spatial. So I would take it really easy. The first day would be for transit and recovering from transit, and on every subsequent day I would have just 1-3 things I wanted to check out with a lot of time padding between them so I wouldn’t stress about getting lost.

      1. Kelly Kapoor*

        Having a light day 1 is a great idea, thanks for sharing! I feel you on the isolation, I hope it gets better for us soon

    8. HannahS*

      I travelled as a single solo female and this is how I maximized fun and minimized stress:

      Safety:
      1. I traveled only to stable democracies.
      2. I traveled only to countries where I either spoke the language or where English was widely spoken within the tourism industry.
      3. In advance, I booked my flights, trains, and my hostels (women-only rooms,) so I always knew where I was going and where I would be sleeping.

      Fun:
      1. I researched things to do in each place extensively; for me, this meant reading a bunch of “10 best things to do in [City]!” lists, then when I found an activity I wanted to do, I’d put a pin on Google Maps. I pinned a variety of activities: restaurants, museums, parks, shopping districts, gardens, etc.

      2. I planned 1 large or 2 small activities a day in advance. So for example, I picked a cheap hostel in the north end of London, and when I looked at my map I saw 3-4 activities in the north end that I’d pinned on my map. I picked one market and one museum to tour. That was a good amount of structure for me, because I woke up and knew what I was doing each day. If I ran out of stuff to do in a day, I’d look at my map and see if there was a nice park to see or a good tea shop.

      3. If I wanted to do something outside of a major city, I booked a bus tour. It was worth it for me not to have to figure out the logistics, plus I don’t like driving.

      4. I loaded a lot of library books on my phone. I can’t be on my feet all day and I often was back at the hostel, exhausted, before dinner-time. Sometimes I found the evenings very boring because I’m not really a night-life person and I don’t pick up new friends when I travel. That’s ok. Travelling doesn’t mean keeping a frantic pace if you don’t want to. It felt kind of silly to lie on my bunk and read–I spent so much money on flights! Shouldn’t I be out enjoying the city?! But I didn’t transform into a different person on vacation, and I shouldn’t expect myself to.

  13. gsa*

    When and how did you first find askamanager?

    I found this website through Fast Company. I don’t remember the year, probably 2015–ish. The FC website used to be interesting, and now it’s not, at least to me.

    I dug into the archives to see when Alison stood this site up. Without looking it up, do you know what year?

    The there in RDU is supposed to nice, I will change the oil in my truck and we will go for a walk.

    Enjoy the weekend.

    gsa

    1. Sue*

      Through a comment on notalwaysright.com maybe 3-4 years ago. (I found that website through icanhazcheezburger which I found in college roughly ten years ago.)

      1. Yay, I’m a Llama again!*

        Also via notalwaysright, I think in 2019? I’ve found it so helpful to see what others experiences of the working world are, and when I was put at risk of redundancy in Nov 21 I knew I had support on the site if I needed it. I’ve just accepted a new permanent role with the same company, but I composed many a mental letter over the last few months!

        From frequent dips into the archives, I think it’s been around since about 2008? The questions were so different then, I often wish for updates to very classic posts!

      1. eisa*

        same here. If I had to guess .. I have been an advice column junkie for a long time and probably found the site on a “best advice columnists” list ?

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        I visit AAM nearly every day since I found it linked on a different website, but I can’t remember which one. Wherever it was that I found it was obviously not nearly as engaging as this one is!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This website made me see how far off the mark FC got. I liked FC a lot. I thought they were cutting edge. Like a deer looking into headlights, I awed at so much of what I read. Then I started reading Alison’s blog and I realized she used common sense. And that is actually what we need, we don’t need cutting edge and flashy.

    3. Happy*

      I was a college student and needed workplace advice so I googled “workplace advice.” Summer 2017.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep I’m pretty sure the first time I found it I was googling something like resume or interview advice, right around the time I graduated from grad school (so … a pretty long time ago haha).

    4. Amey*

      I’ve been here A LONG time so I’m not absolutely positive, but I think it was via Captain Awkward – either Alison was consulted or mentioned in the comments. I still read Captain Awkward when she posts but I read Ask a Manager every day and have for years!

    5. Pam*

      I came from Captain Awkward. Maybe the letter about the boss with the hatchet?

      I don’t recall how I found CA, but I’ve always been an advice column junkie.

    6. Dear liza dear liza*

      Some other site, long forgotten which, mentioned the infamous Duck Club. That was quite the hook! I actually have a very strong memory of reading it for the first time and immediately reading it out loud to dear henry. Just looked it up- Wow, that was 2015?

    7. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I don’t remember where, but someone linked to the letter about the boss who wanted to berate an ex-employee who quit effective immediately after not being allowed to go to her own graduation (but someone else going to a concert was fine because there was money involved – because education is free???). That was a wild introduction, been hooked ever since.

    8. Yaz*

      I was a temp receptionist straight out of school! 2018? Spent my days at work googling random stuff and somehow came across the post about the manipulative volunteer coordinator who wouldn’t let the person resign. I was hooked. I read AAM posts all day between taking calls and restocking sodas. I even read them on my phone on the subway to and from work.

      A lot of it made intuitive sense but something that surprised me was to stop calling after submitting an application. I was relieved that I read that before carrying out my plan of (yikes!!) showing up in the lobby of a company that hadn’t responded to my application to show interest.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I think Buzzfeed did an “outrageous workplace dilemmas” type listicle drawing some of the stories from here (graduation boss, the guy who ghosted someone who was going to be his manager, and the spicy food bandit are what I remember)

    10. Clisby*

      From my daughter, who’s now 25. (I think she found out about it through Captain Awkward, but not absolutely sure.)

    11. The Prettiest Curse*

      Some time in the second quarter of 2020, via Slate. Then I read through much of the archives during lockdown.

      The letter that inspired me to first visit this site was the one from somebody who bit their colleague. I do wonder sometimes if that person ever escaped from their toxic workplace.

      1. Cj*

        I also got here through Slate, sometime in 2018. Id just lost my job, and I dug into the archives like crazy.

    12. Pharmgirl*

      Googling interview tips when I graduated from college – 10 years ago! Can’t believe it’s been that long.

    13. Maglev to Crazytown*

      I know I have been lurking for many, many years. So many now I can’t even put a year to it. I don’t even remember how many years ago it was, but I know the site was in it’s first few. It just has always been one of those sites for me that has just “always been there” in my list of regulars.

    14. Tabby Baltimore*

      From multiple mentions in Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column when it was written under Danny Lavery’s previous name. So I figured I should go check it out.

    15. Cruciatus*

      2011. I had been in per diem jobs and had finally gotten a full-time with benefits job, but I immediately knew this was not going to be a long-term appointment (crazy management and horrible hours–2:30-11pm Wed-Sun–I remember writing in my journal after ONE DAY on the job, “I think I have made a huge mistake”). I started searching for cover letter help and I f0und one of the early on examples of a good cover letter and the rest is history. Damn, it’s been a long time! I don’t comment a lot, but I read here every day!

    16. moonstone*

      Just google searching career advice. I found this column refreshing from other job advice articles because 1) the column format allowed for more contextualized and targeted advice than the listicles, which in a lot of cases didn’t make clear how the advice would look in application (and were just really bad a lot of the time), and 2) I liked that Alison didn’t have a clear bias in favor of employers like a lot of the other sites did. Pretty much every other career website has the “employer is always right and rational” mentality, but Alison was transparent about the fact that both employers and employees are equally obligated to hold up their side of the job contract, and that not everything about working conventions is perfect.

    17. Chaordic One*

      I found it by googling for career advice. Most the other sites just offered the same old stale obvious advice (grit and gumption). There were a couple of other sites that I liked and read regularly, but I don’t bother with them anymore. The person running one site quit to go into a different career (she became a teacher). Another site linked to a Q&A column in a business magazine. The magazine dropped the Q&A column and the person running the site no longer has much in the way of new material, so I rarely look at it anymore.

    18. Llama face!*

      I don’t actually remember where I first heard about this site but I have been reading and occasionally commenting on here for at least a decade (though not with the same username the entire time).

    19. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t really remember, but I think it was in 2012 when OldExjob had layoffs. I was probably looking for job-hunting advice but then got sucked into reading all the letters. Of course, the wacky ones are my favorite. Quack! :D

    20. Bunny Watson Too*

      I was researching interview questions. Google probably led me here. I bought Alison’s book Managing to Change the World in May 2012 so I know I was reading the site at least that long ago.

    21. Christmas Carol*

      When the Today Show picked up the story about the interns getting fired for their petition to over turn the dress code.

    22. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      The Cut! In 2017. I would binge her weekly columns there, not realizing that she posts daily on AAM. (Their bio for her does! not! mention! this website!!) I assumed she was primarily a NY mag writer. At one point I googled her name to get to her archives on the Cut and BEHOLD: I found AAM. I binged the archives over the holidays in 2017–18, so it was update season! I was amazed at the volume of good stuff to read. Have been back every day since.

    23. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t remember how I found AAM, but I do remember the pantyhose debate (September 7, 2010), so I think I started reading around 2008.

    24. Gnome*

      I had a male coworker I didn’t know well decide to put a coke can on my head (from behind me) when we stood up after a meeting. I didn’t know what to do with this at all… And had been out of the workforce for a bit, so I was googling stuff like “my coworker did something really weird”

  14. Boo*

    Have you ever seen a ghost? I recently stayed at a place in the top 10 list of most haunted places in my country. I found this out AFTER my stay. Had I known beforehand, I wouldn’t have gone within ten miles of it!! Half the lights in our room went out around 9 pm for no reason at all. My husband and the manager checked the fuse box, and it was fine. The next day, the lights worked fine. I didn’t think anything of it because I didn’t know the place was haunted. After I found out, it seems much creepier. I am just thankful I didn’t see or hear a ghost as others have. Otherwise, I may not be here today to write this post. Have you encountered a ghost? I’m always fascinated by the stories.

    1. UKDancer*

      Never seen anything myself. I’ve stayed in “haunted” inns because my ex liked it and he was convinced he could tell whether there was a ghost there or not. I never saw or heard anything.

      I worked in a small castle as a student. I was a tour guide. A number of people thought it was haunted and told me they saw various things (a grey lady and some others that I can’t remember). If you were in one room you could often hear footsteps in the room above you, even when there was nobody there. I can’t saw it ever bothered me and I mostly ignored it.

      There was also a spot by the gatehouse where a number of civil war prisoners were executed. I never liked being there, it always felt cold and unsettling. I mean I never saw anything and I don’t know how much of the atmosphere was because I knew about the executions and could see the bullet holes in the wall. Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed it otherwise.

    2. Llellayena*

      Yep, specifically while on a ghost tour. Only one of the two was actually part of the tour! I saw a young boy sitting on the edge of a rooftop, just hanging out. Then I saw a woman in white walking through a graveyard. When we turned the corner and stopped in front of the graveyard gate to have the guide tell us that some people see a woman in white walking from left to right through the graveyard I realized I wasn’t just imagining things….

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, I’ve seen a ghost. I hope to never see one again. It’s too spooky and no one believes you!
      Sorry you were spooked!

    4. Maglev to Crazytown*

      I live in an 110 year old house I realized was haunted the second week I was there… By myself, in the middle of nowhere. It was mostly voices at first, that were clearly humans talking based on the tone and cadence of the voices, but just muffled enough to not make out the words. Also big band music playing in the attic, and heavy footsteps stomping everywhere. Finally escalated to occasional shadow people, with the most vivid experience being the time I saw a mist human figure leaning against a doorframe, looking at me. I know I sound crazy, but have had many family and friends also experience these over the past nearly decade of living here. History of the house shows it was built by a young guy for his wife and their subsequent seven kids, and they lived here for decades. The house has a warm welcoming feeling, not a creepy or bad one. Living here just gives me an appreciation for the things in life we don’t understand.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        A common explanation for some hauntings is that there are places where a thin spot between dimensions exists and you can sometimes hear and see stuff that is going on in the past through those spots. Like a time slip. But time isn’t linear, so it’s not like you’re looking back, more like across.

        Maybe your house has one!

      2. Cj*

        Our house was built in 1903. My husband and I have both heard what sounds like a radio playing. He hasn’t really been able to make out any details, but I hear big band music, just like you do. I also hear two radio host talking to each other between the music.

    5. Daisy Avalin*

      We have a ghost at work!
      When I started working nights (7 years ago!), the previous night worker and one of the other cashiers told me “Oh, there’s a ghost, his name is George, he’s why stuff falls off shelves and there’s weird noises.” I think they were trying to spook me, but I’m like “As long as he doesn’t break anything valuable, or leave a big mess for me to clean up, that’s fine.”
      I’d blame George if little annoying things happened on shift, but I never really actively considered that there was a ghost.

      About eight months after I started working night shift, 1am I round one of the shelving units in the middle of the shop, and walk nose-to-chest into a man in a plaid shirt. I startle back, “Oh, sorry!”, assuming I’d inadvertently locked a customer in with me… but there’s nobody there.
      Another colleague, covering one of my night shifts a couple of years ago, heard footsteps going down an aisle and assumed he’d locked a customer in, but nobody was there. I’d warned him there might be noise/movement/whatever that wasn’t explainable, so he just said (he told me afterwards) “Hi, George!” and carried on!

      Never seen him since, although sometimes the tills ring once as though someone’s picked up a pump, by the time I get to the till, there’s nobody on the forecourt, but someone is just about to pull on. I think that’s George, warning me I’m about to have customers, although it’s not very often it happens.

      Honestly, I use George as a scary story, to freak out a BEC co-worker who refuses to cover night shifts “because it’s scary”!

    6. Not a cat*

      Yah. It runs in my family. Last fall my neighbor died. The cops were there for a while, so I think they were suspicious of something. Anyway, the day after they removed the body, early in the AM, I saw her standing out her front door, clear as day. The house was empty, out of town relatives were staying at a hotel. My dog looked straight at the spot and barked and she only ever barks “at” things, not for no reason.

    7. small town*

      My house was built in 1920 and we have a ghost. We think she was the housekeeper for the original owners. My house has a front staircase (for the family) and a servants stairs in the back. It starts at the maid’s room over the kitchen and has a door that opens from the stairs and also one from the landing. The place also has buttons in each room that ring into the kitchen and maid’s room. Very entertaining for the children. She sometimes opens to door to the stairs (even after I have checked and is definitely closed). My husband has seen her once, me and my older son twice, and my younger son a half a dozen times. The daughter of the original owner told me that they had the same housekeeper for 45 years so I guess she is looking out after us. “There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

    8. Too Woo-woo*

      A couple of times. After my grandfather died, I saw him in the living room of his home, standing in front of the phonograph, looking like he’d just walked into the house from working in the yard. He said nothing and looked straight at me with a very sad expression on his face. And then he faded away and I’ve never seen him since. I felt like he saying “goodbye” to me.

      More recently, I saw the ghost of a friend from work. My friend moved back to her hometown on the east coast after a period of unemployment and found a job there, and then I lost touch with her. Letters went unanswered and when I phone her, the phone would ring and ring. I hadn’t had any contact with her in about 10 years, but I thought we were close. I imagine that she had probably retired. She had some health problems when I knew her and I suspect that they grew worse as she grew older and may have been the cause of her death at 75.

      One day I was watching a TV show where contestants had to travel to different places in the U.S. and one of the contestants had to travel to same town where my friend lived. This inspired me to do some cyber-stalking and I found the obituary for my friend and that she had passed away about a week before. (Previous cyber stalking revealed that my friend had made donations to the local chapter of the Humane Society and had attended events at her local senior citizens center.) I left a tribute on the page of the mortuary. I was the only person who did so. (I suspect that a lot of other people weren’t aware of her death).

      I had also moved since the last time I had seen my friend and she would have had no idea where I lived. I was walking through the living room of my house, not really thinking of anything in particular, when, all of a sudden, there appeared in the corner of the room, a ball of what I can only describe as white energy, about 3 feet in diameter, floating about 3 feet above the ground and about even with me as I was standing. An arc of energy shot from the ball, but before it could hit the ground my friend appeared at the end of the arc and the ball and the arc disappeared.

      My friend smiled and she just looked really happy and relaxed and like a younger version of herself. (Not nervous or tired or anxious like she was in so much of her life.) She said, “Hello…” in an exaggerated manner. She was smiling and she pranced around in a little circle, her knees peeking out of her skirt when she lifted her legs. She exuded an energy that I can only describe as “lusty” and “sexy.” (My friend really did like men, had suffered through a failed marriage to a gambler, and made comments to me about her frustration at becoming “invisible” to men as she grew older.) And then she disappeared and I’ve never seen her since, but again, I felt like she wanted to say “goodbye” to me.

      Other than those instances of actually seeing ghosts, face-to-face, I’ve sometimes gotten weird feelings from certain places. In a nearby town there are a number of shops in building that gave me the creeps. It was brightly painted and by all appearances was a cheerful place. I later learned that the building had previously been a “sanitorium” for patients with tuberculosis. I’m sure it must be haunted.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I thought on occasion that I had seen / encountered paranormal situations, seeing things out of the corner of my eye, seeing and hearing movement, lights flickering, etc.

      I can’t speak to your situation, but in my situation it turned out to be that the very old building I was in had intermittent shorts in the wiring, and rats (possibly the one caused the other). I am far more scared of that reality thinking back on it, than I was of the ghosts.

      That place was a firetrap.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t see them but I can *feel* them. Or feel weird vibes in a place. Mom took me to the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis for lunch before the pandemic and I wandered around upstairs. I smelled perfume in an area where there was no one, and it wasn’t from a person because I would have smelled it in the hall and I did not. I also took a picture with a strange shadow in the Lavender Suite. There’s probably a logical explanation for that, but it’s spooky anyway. I really want to spend the night there!

      The house I grew up in was haunted, or at least the property was. There is a big barn that had a ghost in it and very strange (scary) vibes in a storage room. Two of my family members can see things, and they said respectively that 1) they saw a big white blob, and 2) it was a pretty lady. I never saw her but once she (?) came up behind my chair when I was alone in the house and scared me silly. Someone did, anyway—I could totally feel a presence! Also we would sometimes hear footsteps on the plastic runner in the hallway when there was no one there. It was my grandpa’s house so that might have been him, who knows.

      It’s annoying that I can’t see them because I want to. Actually, that’s what Tunerville is about—the protagonist wanted to see a ghost, invented a thingy so he could, and then everything went sideways, haha. Writing the book made me way less scared of them and of death in general. Because of the research I did, I’m firmly convinced we go on, though what it’s like is anyone’s guess.

      If you look on the dedication page of Tunerville, it says “To the ghost in the barn.” Someone else lives in the house now and I just wanted her to know she’s not forgotten. <3

      1. Cj*

        Your book is awesome! I downloaded the kindle version from amazon, and have been reading it for the last hour. I used to devour books, but haven’t found one that could hold my attention for years. Tunerville had me hooked from the start.

          1. Cj*

            I couldn’t find it at first either. I was searching for Turnersville. Came back here to double-check the spelling, and then of course I found it.

        1. Cj*

          I stayed up way too late last night reading this. I finished chapter 12, Which kindle is telling me is 30% of the way through the book. I see there is a recent sequel. That is next on my list.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Haha, the poor sequel (Confluence) doesn’t have any reviews yet. It is naked and afraid!

            1. Cj*

              I don’t usually bother to do reviews on Amazon, good or bad, but I will definately leave you an excellent one for Tunerville. And for Confluence, also, assuming I like it.

          2. Fiction Reader*

            How had I not realized there was a sequel? Just ordered it. Tunerville had a great concept and fun characters, and wasn’t too scary for me. ;)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Confluence is darker, just so you know…
              I also went WAY out in left field with this one, hahaha.

          1. Cj*

            There’s one part where somebody is filming a ghost appearing, and the crew is watching it on TV. One of them says something like. “I’m so tired of the zooming”, meaning going in and out with the camera. All my pandemic addled brain I could think of at first was being tired of Zoom meetings.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Oh yeah, I forgot all about that, hahaha! :’D

              That was where they were watching the amateurish YouTube video and Josh says, “All these zooms are making me woozy.”

    11. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I haven’t seen any, but I’ve had a few odd interactions with deceased relatives and a dog. I’d love to have more!

      1. Cj*

        For about a year after she died, our cocker spaniel would visit me about once a month. Her ghost, or essence, or whatever, would jump up on the bed right after I crawled in, just like she did when she was alive.

        We had to have our almost 18 year old dog put to sleep on Tuesday. I haven’t seen her yet, but I hope she comes to visit me too.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Awww, I hope so too. And I’m sorry for your loss. <3

          I hoped Pig would visit me, but she never did. I imagine when it's my time to go to the Realm, she'll be sitting there like, "What took you so long? Feed me!"

    12. LikesToSwear*

      My first job (McDonald’s) had a ghost. We called him “Bob”, and he would do things like throw the lid from the ice tea urn off the urn and across the room a bit. I never saw the ghost, but I saw the lid from the urn fling off the urn a few times.

    13. allathian*

      I’ve never seen a ghost, but I’ve felt weird things in some places. I’m not religious at all, but it’s only churches that were built before the Reformation, i.e. consecrated Catholic, that creep me out. It’s a weird feeling of “wrongness of place” that I can’t really explain, except as an urge to get out of there before something awful happens to me. Modern churches that were consecrated Lutheran, or some other Protestant variant of Christianity, don’t bother me at all, even if I don’t particularly enjoy being in them because I’m not religious.

      I’m not Pagan, but I’ve never felt more at peace anywhere than when I was walking between the standing stones at Carnac. I’m sure I’d feel the same way if I ever got the opportunity to walk between the stones at Stonehenge.

    14. Boo*

      Thank you for sharing your creepy (to me!) stories! I enjoyed reading them, but I hope I never see a ghost.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I feel like it would have been less scary when the barn ghost came into the house if I could have seen it.

      2. Not a cat*

        Alison used to request ghost stories ’round Halloween. Hopefully, she’ll keep it up. They are among my favorite posts.

    15. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I saw my husband’s parent’s dog, or more accurately, his giant furry butt, in the kitchen probably 3 months after he died. After first I thought it was their other dog, before realizing that dog was outside. He died in the house so it made sense his spirit was hanging around.

      I also had a ghostly experience in college, in a dorm that was well known to be haunted. My friends and I were hanging out in another friend’s suite style dorm room. My friend’s roommates left and we were the only ones in the suite, but after a while we started hearing the shower and the sink turn on full blast, then off again, then on again. This went on long enough that I started thinking, “Who showers for so long with an on off pattern like that?” Someone finally asked my friend who was in the suite with us and she said, “oh, that just happens sometimes.” We all gave each other a Look because we had definitely not experienced faucets just going on and off by themselves!

  15. AnnonANanny*

    Has anyone here seen a life coach? What for? Was it helpful?

    I’m trying to think about what I might like to do for my next career, having been a (very successful) nanny for the last decade. I have a Bachelors in psychology

    1. AnnonANanny*

      Having seen pretty much everything I think I would make a great sex therapist too, but I’ve zero desire to go back to school and get a Doctorate

    2. New and improved me*

      I worked with a business and mindset coach to prepare for my book to be published. I wanted to be confident enough to hit the ground running when it was time to promote it. I had many insecurities around selling that we worked through. What I learned about myself and dealt with through this experience has impacted all areas of my life. It was money well spent! Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I did after my husband passed. I woke up one day and realized, “I can do anything I want.” My next thought was, “OMG!!! I can do anything I want??????”

      I looked for someone similar to me (middle age woman). She understood when I said, “So I was standing in front of the snow blower and trying to figure out how to start it and trying not to cry…”

      It helped to some degree. She had me do various exercises in thinking. There was an expectation that I keep moving, keep doing things until I nailed something down. And that was hard with doing an estate plus grief plus other stuff.

      In the end she did help me, I am sure she does not think so. Her cheerfulness helped. Her optimism was very supportive. The fact that she kept talking to me in spite of all my hurdles inspired me to keep going. I thought it was helpful, but in the end we still have to make that final decision of what path to take on our own.
      I think a few sessions could be very supportive for just about anyone but no magic answers.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I did this with someone whose specialty is specifically career transitions. She was helpful in guiding me to find my direction, and recently published an excellent book that enables people to utilize her practices independently. Her name is Randi Benator and her book is Awaken to Your Calling: A Guide to Discovering Your Career Path and Life Direction, which is available on Amazon.

      I think it’s important to find someone with genuine training and qualifications, since there a lot of people out there who call themselves life coaches without credentials. I would be leery of working with someone without training.

  16. Loopy*

    Looking for advice on getting my MIL a overly simple, near impossible to mess up smart phone. She gets frustrated with most because she’s always somehow causing some setting to get turned off/on without realizing and she doesn’t want to deal with 90% of the phone. Her phone is always “broken” soon after getting it (meaning something unexpected is going on and she’s beside herself not knowing what).

    She wants to text, take pictures, and call. Voice command is all she’ll use for any Googling. I saw Jitterbug has a smart phone options, would love to know if anyone’s had good experiences with it/knows of it? Any other similar options folks can recommend? Ideally something that can be set up with her existing plan/number? Im not sure if jitterbug works with something like a Tmobile plan…

    1. eisa*

      Where I live, Emporia is _the_ producer of mobile phones for the old generation – they do both smartphones and “stupidphones”. We gave one of those to my MIL.

    2. Angstrom*

      It is frustrating that Apple and other manufacturers don’t seem to realize that one aspect of “accessibility” is making a lot of features non-accessible. My mom is fine with basic functions, but gets lost in menu trees and then gets confused and upset trying to get back to where she was. Being able to lock out most options would actually enhance the usefulness of the phone for that set of users.

      1. Anonymous for this specific post*

        I feel like it would be a cool feature of android/apple operating systems if you could turn on that sort of limited accessibility and designate someone who can remote onto your phone and adjust settings/look at what is going on. So theoretically you could set up a phone for a more basic user and designate someone who, when you need help, can see what you’re seeing and adjust settings as needed from their own device.

    3. CopperPenny*

      I always say the best phone for the elderly is the same phone as you. Much easier to explain how to fix something on a call when you can go through the motions.

      That doesn’t seem quite what you are looking for though. A jitterbug was surprisingly unintuitive to anyone who had used a smart phone when my grandparents had one. But that was over 5 years ago. It might have changed.

      You can also look at phones for teens, where most of the settings can be locked behind parental controls. No specific phones to suggest though.

      1. OyHiOh*

        A friend with some cognitive and memory deficits tried to switch from a familiar Samsung model they used for years to a “simple” Jitterbug. They found it really frustrating and difficult to use and someone helping my friend with legal and technical issues found it almost impossible to change the settings. I wouldn’t recommend based on this experience.

    4. anon7557*

      My parents in their 70s have jitterbug phones. They are probably a little easier but still plenty opportunity to click on something accidentally and then they get frustrated. Some apps like Marco Polo may or may not work on them. My dad actually loves talking to tech support which he has to do frequently, so that’s something to consider too. The biggest problem is my mom found it way to easy to dial 911 accidentally. They ended up putting duct tape on the part of the screen that had the 911 button. I’m actually thinking a more normal phone that is similar to mine but had ways to turn things off (like for young teens that someone mentioned above) might be better.

    5. Anono-me*

      One of the second hand computer and phone dales and repair centers near my old house has a section of phones and laptops that they have set up for people that find technology overwhelming. Limited simple apps, larger icons, certain functions disabled or restricted in a very difficult to undo technical way etc. I would expect that you could find something similar near you or commission it.
      Good luck.

    6. Little Miss Sunshine*

      We got my mom a Samsung A20, which is a pretty slimmed down smart phone. We helped her set things up and she never has reason to change the settings, so pretty easy. It does all the things you want and works on T-Mobile plans. I highly recommend it.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      We had Jitterbug basic phones for my parents and they were great. Specifically in the sense that they were easy to use and not mess up. Basic phone will do phone calls and take pictures, which you can send. The easy text sending options are rote replies like “Okay” or “Thanks” and you would need a keyboard for better texting options. One feature was that the numbers could be put in remotely from another state.

      I had a plan to get the Jitterbug smart phone for my mom and put Lyft on it, so she could have an option other than driving. For various reasons did not get to do it, but given how well the basic phone worked for my parents I’d recommend Jitterbug. Good, patient customer service.

    8. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Go through Consumer Cellular; their target customers are geezers like me, and their tutorial videos are super easy to follow. I have a pretty basic Motorola that’s enough to take decent photos, has the basics like calendars and calculator functions, gets me on the internet, and let’s me text I’ve downloaded some apps to suit my interests. The phone was only about $125, and they may have a few lower models still.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Seconding the recc for Consumer Cellular. They have very pleasant and helpful customer service. They have a range of phones on their website, and I would guess the cheapest ones have the fewest features.

    9. Clisby*

      I really like the $70 phone I bought from Tracfone, where I don’t have to buy a monthly plan. I just buy minutes ($199 for a year, which I never use up). I can do more than talk, text, and take pictures, but almost never do. Every once in awhile, I google something.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Same for my parents – they have a flip phone that is thru Tracphone and it just makes phone calls. They can text but mom hasn’t figured out how yet. They have had this type of phone for 10 plus years and it works great.

        1. Clisby*

          I used to have a Tracfone flip phone, and it did work great. I think I eventually switched to Android because something to do with that particular flip phone was no longer going to be supported, and I decided to upgrade. One upside is that the phone camera takes way better pictures than my little handheld camera ever did, so I could ditch the camera.

          I am a huge Tracfone fan. It’s not that I can’t figure out how to do a lot of functions on the phone – I just don’t want to, so I won’t.

    10. Observer*

      Jitterbug requires their service. I’m not impressed with what I’ve seen of the phone. But if you are willing to change carriers, you should be able to port over your number.

      Perhaps you could set up her phone with parental controls? This way you can basically lock her out of all of the other functions.

    11. ShinyPenny*

      In my experience helping an elderly loved one with her Jitterbug phone, there was no net benefit to going with Jitterbug. All the typical elderly-user problems were in play, the worst being the many invisible (to her) physical and on-screen “buttons” that she would frequently hit without any awareness of them—so her subjective experience was constantly randomized. This really reduced any hope of learning to use it independently. I’m not sure why Jitterbugs are supposed to be elder-friendly? Nothing out there seems to acknowledge or address this serious design problem.
      If the user can deal with calling customer service independently, that could be a useful Jitterbug difference. Given time, my loved one and I could get thru to customer service for help, but she couldn’t do it alone.
      For a different elderly loved one, my solution was to buy us identical cheap ($120?) smartphones from Tracfone. This has been TOTALLY successful. I can coach her easily on the phone (on the cell itself, or on landlines if necessary). I have WAY less stress, and she has a phone she can easily get help with.

  17. Potatoes gonna potate*

    This may be a silly question but….how do people learn about cars so that they don’t get ripped off? I feel like everyone I know learned about cars from their families growing up. I didn’t learn to drive or have any interest until I was in my 30s, so I didn’t get any guidance. I still don’t have too much interest, but I just want to know enough so that I don’t get ripped off? 

    The backstory is this: We have a leased car from Nissan. My husband took our car to a local auto shop for a routine oil change. The mechanic said that our brakes were almost destroyed and needed to be replaced ASAP and gave us an estimate of $1000; if we waited any longer, the damage could be in the thousands that insurance wouldn’t cover. He was on the fence about it b/c it’s a lease vehicle and I actually texted someone who was skeptical as well, so we decided to just wait it out. 

    I took the car to our local Nissan dealership for a free look over. He said that the rear brakes needed work but the front ones were absolutely fine. The price he quoted was a quarter of what we had gotten. When I had made the appt on the phone to bring the car in, I had told him about what the other mechanic had said, and he said that because our car’s inspection from last summer was fine, it’s extremely unlikely our brakes would be destroyed with normal everyday driving. 

    So…..I’m a bit incensed about that.

    1. mreasy*

      I think you did the right thing, which is get a second opinion if someone comes back to you with an unlikely-seeming/super-expensive repair estimate! My dad had been a mechanic for awhile when I was a kid, and even still I can just about check my oil, change my wiper blades, and top up my washer fluid. Luckily cars now (I bought my first one in 20 years awhile back) have a lot more notifications telling you when things are wrong. I will say that if you want to learn basic maintenance, YouTube has how-tos for just about every car model. Good luck out there!

    2. Wildcat*

      Sort of a tangent, but I’ve had this happen with dentists too. Some dentist told me at 12 I needed all my molars filled. My parents fortunately got a second opinion and none of those teeth have been filled and I’m in my 30s.

      Second opinions are just generally the way to go.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        You know it’s funny I told this story to a few people and they ALL mentioned their experiences with dentists! Apparently it’s easy for dentists and mechanics to rip people off?

        1. Wildcat*

          I find bad dentists so infuriating because unnecessary work in a car is money but it’s permanent damage to your teeth.

    3. Fit Farmer*

      There’s a difference between “how do I never end up at a sketchy mechanic” and “how do I not get ripped off.” It sounds like you avoided the latter here pretty well! You were skeptical and did some extra checking, and avoided the ripoff. There’s not really another way, once you’re presented with a potential-ripoff situation. In general, the hard-sell emergency catastrophe work, and oil-change upsell maintenance like system flushes etc, is a known moneymaker for sketchy mechanics and Jiffy-Lube-type oil change places. Just say no! Always no, for surprise things like that (they are never truly emergencies), and then go to a trusted mechanic if you want a second opinion. There ARE service intervals for transmission flushes etc (like every 70,000 miles for my car), but that’s not something to worry about popping up at a regular oil change — just say no and ask a trusted mechanic about it.

      The real issue here is how to find that trusted mechanic. I don’t know about engines, I have to trust somebody else–just like I do for my plumbing, my teeth, chimney maintenance, etc. There are untrustworthy and sketchy people out there in every given area of expertise and all must be avoided; it’s just a fact of life. I feel like that is, in fact, the essential skill here: not needing to know enough about cars (teeth, chimneys, etc) to make your own assessment, but calibrating your BS meter to a degree that you only engage honest, competent people whose assessment you can trust. For cars, I go to a mechanic recommended by multiple neighbors, who has always left me with a simple fix and a small bill compared to other mechanics I’ve been at. Since I’ve been to him often, and had a good and honest-feeling experience, and since my neighbors have had a good experience trusting him, I would trust him if at one point he said I needed some major surprise thing.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        This advice is spot on. It’s all about finding a trustworthy mechanic. Mine is incredible and has saved me a fortune over the years.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yes that’s the hard part for me, finding who to trust. I can be very trusting, I hate that

      1. Christmas Carol*

        I almost hate to admit it, but back in the day actually I learned a LOT from Click and Clack of NPR’s Car Talk. While the show is now off the air, and Tom Magliozzi, aka Click, has passed away, his brother Ray, aka Clack still has their website running, and offers a weekly podcast as well. You can learn a lot between the Car Talk guys. In between the laughs, they knew their stuff and could explain it well.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          My mom was a caller on that show. Those guys were both knowledgeable and entertaining, even if they hadn’t given my mom great advice.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          That show is one of my favorites…excellent communicators who turn a technical subject into something very accessible.
          There was an episode where they all had fun imitating the very distinctive sound of a loose heat shield. About two months later my husband’s car made a noise that I diagnosed correctly….and I’ve done it twice again since then.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Vice Grip Garage on youtube for me, or I guess anybody who makes videos about fixing cars that are entertaining enough to watch them for pleasure and learn stuff by accident. Once you watch somebody replace a few brake lines, you pick up how they work and probably google how it works and what the real term is out of curiousity. (The Vice Grip Garage guy tends to use terms like “sparkelator” and “fuel make-it-happen-er” which are entertaining and descriptive, but perhaps not the most helpful for talking to a mechanic.)

    5. Clisby*

      Good idea to check with the dealership. Not because they necessarily have better mechanics, but in my experience dealerships tend to be a little pricier than other places. Not extortionate, but no bargain prices either. If the dealership quoted me a price 1/4 of what the other mechanic said, I’d believe them. Plus, I’ve had brake work done on multiple cars, and my eyebrows shot up at the idea of paying $1000. So some knowledge just comes from the experience of going through it multiple times.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Exactly. Unless you’re driving a brand new Ferrari, a new set of brakes shouldn’t cost 1k.

        I tend to visit the dealership for any repairs or maintenance now. I had a local garage patch up an issue with my car (telling me that to fix it outright is expensive and that it would likely not be worth it since my car was old). It cost $1200. Same issue popped up two weeks later so I took it to the dealership instead. They were shocked at how badly the other mechanic did the patch up and replaced everything. The mechanic who did the job took a pic of the patch up and they showed me. It looked like someone melted a Freddy Kruger mask over the part. They charged me $1500, which is pricey but made sense.

    6. Lizabeth*

      I have always relied on word of mouth for good mechanics, with a “I’m looking for someone that isn’t going to go cha-Ching the minute a lone woman walks in with a car” qualifier. Good that you got a second opinion from the dealership!

    7. Idyllic Gulag*

      I didn’t learn about cars through family, but taught myself as a teenager after buying my first car through books and service manuals (this was pre-YouTube).

      You’re probably not looking to get to the point where pulling an engine for major overhaul is NBD, but learning the basics of how a vehicle functions is key. How the fuel, oil, air, and spark are delivered to the engine, and how the mechanical components interact. Grasping the basics will help you understand the severity of an issue and decide on whether to repair immediately or defer the work for later; some repairs are critical for life safety or vehicle health, others can be left un-repaired basically forever. Know the rough cost of various repairs – experience and research tell me that brake pads are going to run roughly $300-$400 for all four, so if I hear a quote exceeding $1K, I’ll have some questions.

      This knowledge will help immensely in assessing a mechanic. If you’re well aware a repair isn’t an immediate hazard, and the shop is hard-selling you like they did on the brake job, that’s a good sign you should take everything they tell you with a whole shaker of salt.

      It’s an unfortunate reality that gender and/or appearance can determine whether an unscrupulous shop tries to hustle you or not. I’m a large, surly-looking guy who describes issues in deep mechanical detail, so I rarely encounter situations like the one your husband did (though a couple chain quick-lube joints have tried – my personal favorite was a tech telling me my serpentine belt badly needed replacement…on a car didn’t have a serpentine belt). My wife, on the other hand, was constantly given the hard sell – sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars in unnecessary or overpriced work – until I set her up with a trustworthy local mechanic and she got more comfortable asking questions.

      This reply’s longer than I anticipated, but the TL;DR is – learn the basics, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion on most major work.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That gender/mechanic stereotype thst you mentioned was my first thought but I avoided mentioning it so as not to derail. I’m aware there’s a stereotype that women get ripped off at mechanics. It hasn’t happened to me yet as I always leave that to my husband. He’s not as experienced with cars either but in the past we had my father & uncles who could recommended mechanics and give advice. Here, I just had to google whichever was closest. We went to them before with no issues. I’m considering writing a review on them but double minded about it

    8. RagingADHD*

      Second opinions are important, as you saw. Word of mouth is also good.

      The third way to screen is by behavior. Honest mechanics talk to you like regular people. They explain things, give options, and answer questions fully.

      For example, our trusted mechanic always gives a range of options for addressing an issue. He puts those options into context for the age and value of the car, in terms of what is worth doing and what isn’t. He explains the life expectancy of different parts, such as whether some things are considered consumables. He tells us about known strengths and weaknesses for our make and model.

      I don’t remember which ad campaign used the slogan “an educated consumer is our best customer,” but those are the kind of service providers I stick with. Doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc – the trustworthy ones give me the whole story and the context. They don’t try to pressure me into a single option.

      They aren’t trying to sell me anything.

  18. PoorSingleAunt*

    How do i deal with my family from making comments about how I should be spending my high income?

    I just accepted a new job offer with a large pay bump and my mom found out my salary (she did so by violating my privacy by going into my email I accidentally left logged in when I used her computer but that’s a separate problem to deal with). I had only told her it was a nice pay increase but didn’t provide a number. I’m 33, single and live in Manhattan so my new salary will not get me nearly as far here as it would in my parents city. That being said, while you could easily blow through my salary living an average life here, I would be delusional and flat out incorrect to claim it’s not a very high annual income even for NYC. I’m well versed on budgeting and personal finance so I’m planning to live at the same means I previously did and sock the majority of the rest into savings.

    My family can be manipulative, are definitely gift givers (I’m a saver) and have a bit of a ‘buy it if you can afford it’ mindset. I’m annoyed that I’ll now have to deal with comments like ‘just do X, you can afford it’ anytime I have a conundrum, the price of gifts I give at holidays and expectations I should be gifting people things for how they’ve helped me in the past. My sister (married with a household income of over 400k in my parents city) has always pushed me to do more for her kids since I’m single and now I only expect that to amplify. It’s also not lost on my that my families flippant attitude about money is the reason I became so informed about finances and why I’m handling this pay bump the way I am.

    I obviously have a not great relationship with my family so the only way to deal with this is to firmly shut down their expectations/comments vs try to talk to them about why its inappropriate. I also am highly aware I’m in a very privileged position thus why I had no plans to share my salary with them.

    1. Camellia*

      My best suggestion is to go to Captain Awkward and read her many posts about setting and maintaining boundaries, especially with families. Her stuff has helped me so much!

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        This. You have a comprehensive problem, you need a comprehensive solution, and boundaries are it. If part of your boundaries includes reducing contact, that’s ok.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yup. Come up with a breezy dismissive script to deploy when people suggest how you could spend money on them.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this. Very strong boundaries and a willingness to end conversations/visits as necessary. How you spend your money is none of their business. Also, do not discuss ANYTHING that has anything remotely to do with money with them. Talk to your friends, the guy on the bus, anyone but them.

    2. Jessi*

      Could be a good time for unexpected bills, or next time your mum brings it up lie and say “sadly, it was a typo”

      1. Clisby*

        There’s no need to make anything up. Just say something like “Yes, this will really help me meet my financial goals. I’m looking forward to making that a priority.” It doesn’t matter what those goals are – for all I know, it’s going to Las Vegas to find out how good you *really* are at blackjack. None of my business, and none of theirs.

        1. Pennyworth*

          You can even say ”I am living to a budget I have agreed with my financial advisor”, just don’t tell them you give yourself that financial advice.

    3. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      Honestly? I do a lot with statements like, “I’ll take that under advisement,” and, “Yeah, I’ve had some unexpected expenses I have to deal with,” or, in the case of more in-depth demands on *my* time and finances, I might say something like, “I’ve got some things that are taking financial priority right now,” and it is absolutely no one’s business whether that is a nasty unexpected bill (home repair, vehicle repair, health issue) or the big vacation I’m planning with my kids. I recently went with, “I just don’t have that sitting around extra right now,” when asked for a…larger…sum of money. Which is true. I have what extra I’ve got allocated to 16 different places, at least one of which is boosting my savings account because I’m well aware that my roof has outlived its anticipated lifespan.

      Unfortunately, financial information does occasionally sneak its way out, sometimes due to nosiness, sometimes because family members notice spending patterns, sometimes just…because. When it does, I politely decline to discuss, change the subject, and try to move on. I also don’t want to set an expectation that I’m going to constantly bail someone else out. If there’s a true need, and I can do it without putting myself and my family in a bad place? Sure. If there’s not/I can’t…I’m sorry, but I don’t have the extra sitting around right now.

      I have, in the past, used the strategy of making the money less immediately accessible. (Bonds, investments, etc that tie it up and make it harder to get to.) It makes “I don’t have that available right now” feel like less of a lie.

    4. Jamie Starr*

      “NYC taxes are so high that the net increase isn’t much after taxes!”

      – signed someone who also lives in NYC.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Gosh, it it were me I’d be likely to say something like, “the only way you know about my salary is because you violated my privacy to find out. That was completely unforgivable. The only way that you can begin to rectify this is by never mentioning or referring to my income ever again.” I’d say it in a chilly voice, not a hot voice.

      Then, when she or someone else does reference it (which they will), I’d say, “if I’d wanted you to know how much money I was making, I would have told you myself. My finances are my business.” That I would say in a very very flat tone.

      I suppose if you want to bypass some of this, your response could just be “my finances are my business.” That might be better. Ugh.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Well, unfortunately this means you really can’t talk freely with them about conundrums. But after all, it doesn’t sound like they were giving you good advice in the first place.

      For your sister, it might be appropriate to say simething like, “You and I took different lessons away from our upbringing. Mine was that spending isn’t the best way to build a great relationship with kids. I love the kids, and I need to build a connection with them my own way.”

      For other unsolicited advice, something short and dry like “duly noted” can help change the subject without starting an exhausting back and forth.

    7. *daha**

      They are soooo out of line, and it doesn’t help to pretend that they are saying normal, reasonable things to you in a normal, reasonable context. So I recommend quoting Kurt Vonnegut to them. Practice saying “Why don’t you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughtnut? Why don’t you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?”
      Just keep repeating it into the mirror so that you have it permanently mounted at the back of your tongue, ready to release the instant one of these people gets up into your business.

    8. Gnome*

      Your income to spend as you please, not theirs. Please repeat this to yourself daily. You are not responsible for their expectations. Gifts are given out of love, not as payment.

      Now, defensive moves: “oh, but it’s like 10 percent of that after payroll deductions and taxes!”, “You may have seen my salary, but you didn’t see my expenses”, “you seem very keen to tell me how to spend my money on you, why is that?”, “You never really know other people’s finances though”

      Also, if it helps, name your retirement/savings account. Preferably something like “Landlord”. I have to pay 10 percent to my Landlord every month, etc. This works for some people.

      Good luck establishing boundaries!

    9. Batgirl*

      I think their signals indicate they need an even stricter information diet than you already put them on. Like, you didn’t give them the amount of your raise, but I would reconsider giving them any news about your salary, like that you even got a raise at all. If your sister pressures you about money say “it’s not in my budget”, if she says anything about your raise just say “Mum wasn’t snooping in my budget, and I’d rather not talk about it”. Don’t be afraid of being prickly or cool with your family. They’ve given you a blanket reason to be prickly about money. Any snide comments about gifts should be met with “honestly that reminder about family snooping and overstepping doesn’t make me feel any closer and more inclined to be generous”. Make it a very unproductive thing to bring up. Offer your time, be thoughtful and warm when people are good, but go off like a light switch when people presume too far. I’m sure you’re going to lock down your privacy more online, but I would also add that you might reconsider sharing your conundrums with them! It’s the same as sharing information with them. I would switch to only giving news you’re certain about the direction of, after it’s a fait accompli, if you don’t want their input into the process. I’m sorry, about that for you (it sucks), but there will be safer and surer ways to connect and make sure you do so on your terms.

  19. Melon*

    How do you respond to people who compliment you on losing weight? For me specifically – I do have a few pounds to lose and I am making an intentional effort to lose them, but I feel weird about these comments. They clearly mean well, so I would like a polite script to not have to spend too much time talking about this.

    1. Helvetica*

      As someone who recently lost weight because of very stressful life events, I just go with a plain “Thanks!” No explanation, no desire to continue the conversation but I also recognise that people do have an urge to comment on changes in others’ appearance. Whether they should or should not is a valid thing to also discuss but I just try and avoid having further conversations about my weight and move on.

    2. Jessi*

      “Thanks, I’ve been working on my health. “ done! Then distract distract distract! So “have you seen x/what do you think of y/what have you been upto”ect

      1. Maglev to Crazytown*

        I concur with this one. I stress-gained 60 lbs, and then ended up losing 80 lbs (which put me back to my college weight that my coworkers had never seen me even when I first started). When I didn’t want to talk about it, I used the approach that you suggest and it worked fantastically. Eventually I became more amenable to discussing my process when it was with coworkers who approached me quietly about it because they went through similar stress gains and felt helpless on where to start losing.

    3. Come On Eileen*

      Seriously, “thanks!” is all you need to say. Thanks + topic change will set you in the right direction.

    4. moonstone*

      My usual response to weird comments is to either not say anything and nod, or just say something along the lines of “mmhmm yeah”. It’s very good for appearance comments like “you’re so skinny! You’re so tall!” It’s like, yeah, congrats for making obvious observations about my appearance.

    5. Double A*

      My first thought is to say, “Thanks! Turns out that tapeworm was a blessing and a curse.”

    6. Jacey*

      As others have said, the easiest option that lets you move on quickly is “thanks,” followed by a topic change if you can.

      If you have the energy for it, though, this is the polite but hopefully educational script I use when I’m feeling brave:

      “I appreciate your kindness, but just so you know, a lot of people—me included, actually—aren’t fond of getting weight comments, even when they’re compliments.”

      If the person gets defensive, I usually say, “again, I appreciate the thought. I’m just asking that you don’t mention my weight again.” Sometimes they’re still huffy, but, well, I can’t control that. I’ve been polite. They can be upset if they want.

      If the person is embarrassed or ashamed, I try to say, “No worries, you didn’t know, and I know you had good intentions! I hope you’ll tell me if I ever say something that makes you uncomfortable, too.”

      If the person is curious about the why, I say something like, “Weight can be a pretty sensitive subject in our culture. There’s a really persistent health myth that losing weight is always healthy and gaining it is always unhealthy, when the reality is much more complex. Plenty of people lose weight due to serious health conditions, or gain it as part of healing. Plus, our culture treats skinny as the only ‘right’ shape for bodies, when lots of different shapes are natural, healthy, and good. So I’m just letting you know that losing weight isn’t something everyone wants compliments for.”

    7. *daha**

      “That’s not something I talk about. How do you think Notre Dame will do next season?”

    8. Swisa*

      Ideally I would say something like “I prefer not to discuss my weight, but how was your weekend?”

      Basically shutting it down but giving them a conversational out.

      I get so tongue tied and panicked in situations like this, and find it hard to give a good response on the moment!

    9. I take tea*

      I really dislike dicussing weight as well. I have met the “did you lose weight” with a breezy “no idea, I never weigh myself on principle” (which is true) and adding something like “I think this shirt is flattering, I found it in xx, really quite nice, I like purple, do you?” or something along those lines. Just ignore as much as you can and change the subject.

      If they don’t get the hint, I usually follow up with “as I said, I never check, weight is something I don’t discuss on principle, it’s personal”. But it usually isn’t needed, I live in a thankfully not especially nosy culture.

    10. AnonAcademic*

      I usually “misunderstand” (i.e. pretend they are expressing concern, rather than enthusiasm, that I lost weight) and say, “No need to worry, I’m healthy! Everything’s fine!” and then redirect. But that sounds like it carries the risk of the exchange going on for longer than you would like.

  20. Anon for this one*

    Real estate people! Also people who recently bought a house.

    If your earnest money deposit has been sent to the title company by the deadline but not deposited by said company before the deadline, are you in danger of losing the property? I plopped a big chunk of money down (more than the 3% average, the market here is so crazy) and really want this house but am very nervous about the technicality with the earnest money deposit.

    (And before anyone asks, I did ask my realtor about this. He hasn’t gotten back to me yet and my deadline is today.)

    1. fposte*

      At least in my jurisdiction, no. It sounds like the title company is operating as the escrow holder here (mine was the seller’s attorney, which turned out to work great for them and not so great for me). You’ve delivered the money to escrow and fulfilled your part.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Coincidentally, I’m in the same boat — mine was supposed to be deposited by EOD yesterday and I don’t think the wire transfer made it. But while they told me it had to be in, they didn’t make it sound like I’d actually lose the house if it didn’t make it. Title company did ask me to screen shot my transfer and email it to them so they could note in the system that I’d done my part, so if you haven’t sent them some proof of payment definitely do that. If you need this answer to feel safe, lean on your agent! This is what they’re getting paid for.

  21. Green Snickers*

    Can someone recommend good resources to learn more about dual dental insurance plans? I understand they can be confusing and aren’t very straightforward (esp based upon my research I’ve done so far) so looking for a reliable source of info! I have a lot of complicated dental work to be done but dental school or going abroad isn’t an option I want to consider yet.

    1. Clisby*

      Do you mean when you’re covered by 2 different dental plans? Like your own and a spouse’s?

    2. MacGillicuddy*

      At one point I was covered by both my dental plan and my spouse’s. I needed a procedure that each plan covered 50%. I thought I could get it totally paid for, but that’s not how it worked.

      The primary plan paid 50% of the total cost. The balance was submitted to the secondary plan. They paid 50% of the balance.

  22. Nora without an h*

    I’m looking for hair ideas for my wedding. My hair is a little longer than shoulder length, very fine and straight, and a very average amount. I’d like an updo with a flower. We have had a couple of tries with my hairdresser but he says the hairstyles I like need extensions or more hair.
    The wedding will be rather small and the style is boho elegant if that makes sense. I’m out of search terms for realistic hairdos that my average hairdresser can recreate with my average hair.

    1. Invisible today*

      Is your hair long and even enough to be braided or french braided ? Lots of fancy styles that are nothing more than variations on braids / french braids…

      Flower Dutch hraid, never ending French braid.. etc…

    2. Wildcat*

      It is very common to need extensions or hairpieces for more elaborate styles.

      If your hair is too short for an updo and you don’t want extensions what about some set curls with flowers? What about a lower/looser look (still pinned up)?

      Can you describe what you’re looking for in a little more detail?

    3. Llellayena*

      French braid coronet? Start a braid anywhere except right at the top front and have the braid follow (roughly) the perimeter of the hairline all the way around and tuck the ends in when you get back to the beginning. Since you pick up more hair as you go around, you don’t need the hair to be super long. You can tuck one or many flowers above the braid once you’re done.

    4. Kiwiapple*

      Two plaits from the crown and joining at the back with some loose waves and flowers?

    5. Susie*

      I had similar hair length/texture for my wedding. I did a french twist and had my florist attach flowers to a comb which I wore after I took my veil off.

    6. Generic Name*

      It’s not an updo, but for my wedding I did a half updo, which requires less hair. The down part was curled into loose waves.

    7. Delighting in daffodils*

      My recommendation is a half up/half down hairdo (with some portion of your hair pulled back, twisted, or braided and the rest left to flow freely! you could leave that to be your natural texture, or curl, straighten or wave it).

      But in terms of helping you decide, perhaps you want to think about what you know about your hair—does it hold styles well, or does your natural texture supersede heat and hair product? For my wedding day, I wanted to have my hair look great and I wanted to not worry about what my hair looked like as the day went on! So I chose a style that I knew would hold and could blissfully ignore.

    8. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      Different hairstylist? Maybe one that specializes in vintage updos and such. I have had some pin-up type pictures taken and when my daughter wanted a prom updo, we had the photographers hair and makeup person do the updo on her fine shoulder length hair.

    9. Swisa*

      I really enjoyed a waterfall braid at my wedding, so I basically had a half up half down style. You could totally tuck in tiny flowers!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      I used to have hair down to my butt, and after that I had hair at shoulder length. Both can go up …and there’s so many ideas out there! Type ” updo for medium length hair” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find buns, twists, & braids. Some styles use a little bit of padding to add shape or size.
      I agree with TheRain’sSmallHands that you consider a second consultation with a different stylist. Because although they may be technically excellent with hair, they have not suggested alternatives in your desired aesthetic that can be done with the hair you have.

    11. grocery store pootler*

      Some youtubers you might want to check out: Lilith Moon does a lot of fancy updo hair tutorials. Some she uses extensions for, some just her own hair, which might be rather like yours. Milabu does updo tutorials for shoulder length or even shorter hair. Kayley Melissa– see her “Updo Hairstyles for Short Hair” video, and perhaps others.

  23. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Cat people, I need ideas. I am coming to the end of my rope.

    Arwen the cat is 14, and for her entire life she’s had a challenging relationship with the litterbox. When she’s unhappy or mad at me, one way it comes out is to deliberately miss the litterbox. This is 100% behavioral – I’ve done the vet checks, etc. A couple years ago, my other cat Sibley died, and ever since then Arwen has been peeing on the house. She did it when she was the only cat. She’s done it when I had other cats in the house. Arwen seems to want another cat in the house, but when she has one there she wants it to leave her alone.

    I currently have Elrond, a nearly 15 year old male as well as Arwen. Elrond is friendly and generally well behaved. He makes polite overtures to Arwen, she growls or hisses, and he backs off.

    I never catch her in the act, she knows she’s not supposed to pee outside the litterbox so makes sure I don’t see it. Health wise, she’s got a slight heart murmur (no treatment necessary), and starting a bit of arthritis.

    There is a limit to my patience and tolerance, and I am coming to the limit. Arwen NEEDS to stop peeing on the house. Seriously. This is not optional. So, help.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Out of curiosity, how many litter boxes do you have? If she’s peeing all over the house rather than just near the litter box, that could solve the problem. Another thing to look into (though you’ve probably tried this already) is a change of kitty litter. Also, have you tried different kinds of litter boxes? It could be she doesn’t like the particular kind you have.

      Are there any strange cats hanging around in the neighbourhood? This can also be a territorial thing, especially if she’s anxious about territory. Considering this started up again after Sibley’s death, it may be that something about that made her anxious (cats don’t generally like change), but considering how long it’s been I’d say she is more generally anxious. Has anything ever happened to her that causes her to associate the litter box with bad memories (for example, has she ever been attacked – even playfully – by another cat while using it)?

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I have 2 boxes, and I don’t have long term ability to put more in. I’ve tried different box types, different litters, etc. The other options were worse because she didn’t like them. She does use the boxes, daily. She also pees in the utility room, and on the wall, and just outside the litterbox, and in the bathroom, etc. Boxes get scooped generally daily.

        Sibley left her alone in the box, Arwen would occasionally harass Sibley (Sibley would swat her in return, no claws). Last summer my parents and their cats were here for a while, and one of their cats caused a lot of problems with Arwen. That resolved in September when parents moved into their own house. I adopted Elrond a bit less than 2 months ago, in between Arwen was an only cat.

        Anxiety would make sense. Sibley was the boss, though it was a very low key type of dominance. More that Arwen’s world was based on Sibley being there.

        I have tried feliway in the past and it hasn’t really solved the problem, and I have ordered some now to see if it will help at all.

        1. Maglev to Crazytown*

          I had success in a similar situation with multiple feliway diffusers throughout the house.

          An off the wall sounding idea is to try a “cat herb blanket” for self-medication? I am into herbalism as a hobby, and found the idea in a periodical I get. The premise is that in nature, animals self-medicate all the time by rolling in plants and chewing on them etc. There are a lot of articles online about different herbs that are beneficial for cats (and completely harmless), and so you take a few of these and create a “patch” of several types on a large spread out blanket. A lot of people report reductions in destructive cat behaviors and neurosis, both due to the herbal benefits themselves as well as the cat having agency to select and dose what works for it.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Feliway has helped in the past, but not solved. And when I say helped, I mean instead of 3-4 days a week it’d be 2-3 days. So its not a miracle thing.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          It seems like that’s quite a bit of changing circumstances recently (parents, then Elrond), so it could be the situation will resolve itself when she settles in to her new routine, especially if Elrond ends up taking on a similar role as Sibley.

          If all else fails (and I highly encourage eliminating every other possibility first) you could also circle back to your vet and see about getting prescription anxiety medication for her.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Yeah, I’m going to talk to the vet and see if we can try meds. Yes, it’s been a tough couple years, but she’s getting worse, not better right now.

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the vet figures out a solution so she can live a happy life again.

      2. SkinCare Enthusiast*

        I adopted a 14-year old crotchety kitty with a penchant for peeing outside her box and used Dr Elsey’s Cat attract litter. Miss Kitty responded well to it. I agree with A.N. O’Nyme about having more boxes and heard you should have 1 per cat + an extra.

        I cleaned & rotated the boxes and also mopped around her boxes each week. As she aged and lost her vision, I had two enormous boxes within a 5′ radius of the couch, which became hers after she peed on it too many times.

        Before getting Cat Attract litter and acquiescing to her demands for cleanliness, I was sorely tempted to leave her in the forest preserves near a coyote den. :)

    2. CatCat*

      I have a picky litter box cat in my two cat household. If things aren’t just so, she’ll go right outside the box.

      We’ve discovered the picky one has a heightened sense of smell. She is greatly bothered by a lot of scents, even to an otherwise we’ll maintained litter box. We’ve also discovered she hates litter boxes with high sides or that are covered. So we have a shallower litter box with the fine grain litter she prefers, scooped twice per day, and litter totally changed out twice per week (we had two boxes previously that we changed once per week, but we were able to downgrade to one, it may be worth trying two if you don’t have two boxes). We put a puppy pad in front of the box just in case.

      It’s a lot of litter maintainance, but the system works well with the puppy pad managing any occasional “out of the box” behavior.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        She uses the litterboxes regularly and daily, with no apparent complaints. Then she moonlights on the side. She also will use a completely filthy litterbox with no issue, though I don’t let them get that bad.

    3. Wildcat*

      Have you tried a flat tray litter box? Older cats sometimes get arthritic and can’t climb in as well. They are worse for tracking but can help on compliance.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Tried in the past, that was an complete flop. Arwen doesn’t consider a flat tray to be a litterbox. She’s perfectly happy to fling clean litter around though.

    4. Sundial*

      Valium helped my defiant urinator. Caveat that it made her very clumsy, so if you go this route, you’ll need to monitor her for safety.

      Also note that it was challenging to find a compounding pharmacy that would do refrigerated formulas, so that depends on your location.

        1. cat socks*

          One of my cats is on Paroxetine for anxiety peeing. He takes 1/4 tablet daily. I’ve also used gabapentin for anxious cats going to the vet. Paws crossed that you’re able to find a solution.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I ran over to the animal shelter to drop off donations, and saw their adoption counselor who I’ve accidently become friends with. You know you’ve had an interesting few years with cats when you become friends with the shelter employees. I was able to talk to her about the problem.

      She had a suggestion that maybe Arwen is anxious, and as long as Sibley was around that kept a lid on the problem but without Sibley things just got worse, and it comes out as peeing on the house. If Arwen does have anxiety, this would make a lot of sense. At this point, I’ll try anything to see if it works. Arwen has a vet appointment next week to discuss anxiety medication. If it doesn’t work, well, it was worth a try.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Looks like I was typing right when you posted this update, but yeah, if you already have the appointment that’s a good thing to discuss.

      2. osmoglossum*

        I swear by Bach’s Rescue Remedy for Pets for anxious cats. I would start to put it in my cats’ water a few days before anxiety-inducing events (going to the vet, having people over, flying from NY to CA when we relocated), and while they weren’t thrilled, they weren’t as horribly freaked out. If Arwen doesn’t drink much water, you can put a couple drops on her paw for her to lick it.

        Also, are you using Nature’s Miracle or some other enzyme spray to neutralize the urine smell?

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Yes, I have an enzyme cleaner. Thank goodness for those, but they aren’t perfect.

      3. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I think treating for anxiety is becoming your only option. It sounds like you have done everything else over many years, and I’m not sure what else to suggest. I know of a family that has problems limited to one location so they covered it in puppy pads, and if she goes in predictable locations then that might be an option for you. It is very frustrating, and I am sorry you are experiencing this.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Yeah, that’s my problem. I have tried EVERYTHING else, and nothing has solved the problem. Some things have made it worse, but nothing has gotten her to stop. At this point, I really hope it is anxiety and meds will help, because otherwise I’m going to have to put her down. I can’t handle this. It’s 3-4 times a week, consistently. There are spots that I just look at every time I walk past because she pees on them so much. Who looks at the same spot on their wall that much?!?

          1. Dog and cat fosterer*

            It’s the one problem that owners can’t cope with, and rescues won’t take in pets (especially cats) with toileting issues. Dogs are slightly less of a problem, mostly because they can wear diapers or bellybands. I had a friend whose cat peed around the home and they tried everything, and in the end had to euthanize because it was such a health hazard with younger children and the cat was constantly anxious. The children weren’t the issue nor anything else around the home, and the cat seemed to develop a chemical imbalance (Jackson Galaxy has had this on his show, in addition to their vet’s expertise). In the end they euthanized the cat for health reasons, because they couldn’t continue and no one will take in a cat with that problem.

            If the meds don’t work, please know that you really have tried everything and it’s okay to make that decision. It will be hard, because you will likely feel guilty because she’s otherwise healthy, but a cat with this type of problem isn’t actually healthy.

            I really hope you find meds that work, so I’m not being pessimistic and assuming the worst, but I worked hard with my friend and asked for help and advice from fellow very experienced rescuers, and they all said the same thing, which is what I wrote above. The last option is anxiety meds, and it’s okay to make the decision if those don’t work.

            1. TPS reporter*

              It’s not okay to make that decision for n otherwise healthy cat. You seem angry with her, I bet she’s picking up on those vibes. There are shelters or fosters out there that will take in cats of all kinds. Do your best to explore those options

              1. Dog and cat fosterer*

                Have you ever tried to rehome a cat with litterbox problems? In my experience there are not a lot of good places that will rehome those types of cats (sketchy sanctuaries or places that put them outdoors aren’t healthy options in my area). So many people think it is easy, and get upset at the thought, but no one actually wants the cat who pees randomly.

                1. TPS reporter*

                  I have, the shelter I volunteer with specifically takes in cats with a lot of problems including this. It’s a tough road but behavioral issues with cats are usually about stress. It sounds like a lot of change has happened for this cat and maybe there is a better home out there. I have also myself fostered then adopted a cat who has consistently peed outside the box. She has slowly and painfully gotten better over 3 years and it’s still not perfect. I would never dream of putting her down for this.

    6. Jane*

      One other idea for anxious cats: how often do you have interactive play sessions with chaser toys? More play sessions might help her to feel more confident. That helped me with my cat who would hide in the closet whenever he got the chance, but to be fair, it wasn’t so bad that he was having litter box problems.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I offer to play, she declines to play. I have toys all over, and multiple types of toys. She really only plays with one type and I have bunch of those. She’ll play on her own periodically. For whatever reason, I’m not supposed to play with her.

        She’s not hiding, she just pees on the house.

        1. Jane*

          What does offer to play mean? Sometimes you have to play solo with the chaser toy, making it hide behind and under things, for 5-10 minutes before they’ll join in. I set a timer for myself for 20 minutes usually to make sure we play for long enough.

          I’m not doubting that you’ve already tried a lot! I’m just channeling my inner Jackson Galaxy here, because I think he would recommend play therapy as a supplement to the extent that it’s possible. :)

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            She will not play with a laser with me. At all. Ever. Other people? Sometimes. Not me. Not sure why, but she’s decided it’s not a toy if I’ve got it. She likes the catnip bananas, but again, I’m not permitted to interact with her much while she’s playing. If I do, she’ll walk away. I can provide toys, then leave her alone and she may decide to go after it. But if I throw a mousie? Nope. Strings? Nope. Balls? Nope. She’s been more solitary in her play since she was a kitten. I was able to play more directly with her when she was young, but she tapered that off over the past decade or so. And it was never like the interactive play that people think of.

            Arwen is weird. Always been weird.

            1. Jane*

              Not laser, chaser/teaser. Like this: hxxps://www[.]chewy[.]com/pet-fit-life-2-guinea-feather-wand/dp/150945

              But I hear you that this is not your cat’s personality.

              1. I'm A Little Teapot*

                Oh that kind. Nope, she doesn’t like them. Some of them scare her, others are just uninteresting. She also doesn’t like anything that crinkles. I feel like she’d like the kicker toys, but every one I’ve tried she doesn’t like. The bananas? Yep. She likes those. I have at least 5 of them.

    7. GingerSheep*

      Another idea you don’t seem to have tried yet – perhaps because it is not possible in your living situation : giving outdoor access to your cat. I’ve had two cats who peed in the house, and one of them (a five-year old rescue) became perfectly clean once he became an indoor-outdoor cat (and though his previous owner had kept him in a studio apartment). Letting him out also solved other anxiety-related issues. The other cat was rescued as a small kitten and had major cleanliness issues which led me to consult with a behavioural vet. It took lots of time to get things right, but in the end, finding the one type of cat litter he’d accept and giving him outdoor access was the solution. He now occasionally pees in the bathtub if the litter box is not clean to his liking, but it happens maybe twice a month, whereas it was daily before and included peeing on beds, sofas, curtains and carpets.
      I know letting cats outdoors is frowned on in the US, but it was a lifesaver for me (or more precisely, for the cat).

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        She is allowed outside in the backyard, but she also doesn’t like it when its cold. She was out this morning for a bit, then came in (and complained at me that its not warm enough!). In a month or so she’ll be out a lot more as it warms up. I have a cat door which I will leave open for her to go in and out as she chooses, but Elrond isn’t allowed out yet (he will be, I just haven’t done the intro to outside yet) so I can’t use it.

        However, going out doesn’t impact the peeing on the house. She’ll be outside, come in, pee on the wall, eat, then go back out. I’ve seen it. She also doesn’t use the yard as a litter box much. I don’t think she’s ever pooped outside. She will sometimes pee outside, but at least half the time she’ll come in to use the box.

        1. rr*

          I know this isn’t a great solution, but after trying everything else, I put down pads and, where my cat went the most frequently, a tarp. Yes, I had to replace it fairly frequently, and yes, it wasn’t pleasant, but it was better than the alternative. Of course, that doesn’t really solve the wall issue.

          And I know you said it was definitely not medical, but vets miss things too. I have a great vet, but only after years of this behavior, did he diagnose my cat with something that I remember as interstitial cystitis (spelling?). By then, of course, the behavior was ingrained. I’m just saying, nobody -human or animal doctor – always knows everything. I definitely felt so guilty after that, because I definitely was angry with her for a long time.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Tried it. She just relocates where she pees. In a way, it’s preferable to know where she’s going to pee so I can clean it up faster.

  24. East Coast Traveller*

    Hello to the wonderful community here, I am planning a two-week vacation in the USA at the beginning of May and I would greatly appreciate your input, as I am from Europe.
    I will be flying to New York. The first 7 days I wanted to see NY and Washington, probably with a day stop in Philadelphia:
    3 full days in NY, then on 4th day evening bus to Philadelphia, then 1 day there, then evening bus to Washington, 3 days in Washington. Then back to NY (either with bus or with one-way flight), then some 3-4 days visiting my friend in Boulder, Colorado. (So I will be flying from NY to Denver and then back to NY, and then back to my international flight).
    I am solo female traveller, very active, somewhat experienced and somewhat on budget…. I will be moving with public transport / possibly Ubers there (in Boulder, my friend has a car and we would go on some hikes). I am history, arts and nature buff, so: museums, parks, hiking and historic landmarks are my jam.

    – Sooo my question is, does the itinerary sound realistic to you? Or would it be better to skip Philadelphia? Or spend more time in NY and less in Washington?
    – Between bus and train between NY and Washington, which option would you recommend?
    – And what are the best things to do in NY and Washington?
    – Another questions: are hostels in NY generally safe? I have booked a private room with a shared bathroom to stay on budget, but I will have my laptop with me and don’t want it to be stolen.
    – And how reliable Delta airlines usually are, and how long does it take to board for a domestic flight with a hand luggage? I am looking for a flight option with 1,5 hours of transfer time in JFK airport, but these would be needed to be booked separately, so… is it enough time, or is it better not to risk it?

    Sorry for the lots of questions – I am very excited about the trip and also a bit lost at the moment :-)

    1. BRR*

      Why not fly from Washington to Denver then from Denver to New York?

      Your itinerary sounds good to me. Train might be slightly quicker/more comfortable but I know a ton of people who take the bus because train tickets aren’t always cheap.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Oh, wow, thank you for the idea! I was not sure about Washington-Denver-NY flight would be much more expensive, but I will definitely check it – even if it is a bit more expensive, I would probably save a lots of time in bus or train etc. Thank you!

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yes, you should fly Washington to Denver, there are two major airports (Reagan and Dulles) so you shouldn’t have trouble finding flights and it will save you time.

          For domestic flights airlines recommend 2 hours lead time, but you can get away with a bit less if you’re not checking baggage.

          1. BlueWolf*

            Don’t rule out BWI (Baltimore-Washington International airport) either. It’s fairly easy to catch the train from Union Station in DC to the Baltimore airport (there is a free shuttle between the train station and airport once you get there). If it’s a weekday you can catch the commuter train (MARC) for about $7, a bit more for Amtrak if it’s a weekend (MARC doesn’t run on weekends). Granted, I haven’t done any of this since COVID, so not sure what the train schedules are like these days. Sometimes flights out of BWI are cheaper though.

            1. BlueWolf*

              Actually, I’m now realizing MARC does run on weekends. I think it just doesn’t run on certain holidays. I think I flew into BWI on Christmas and had to take Amtrak back to DC, so that’s probably what I was thinking of.

          2. OtterB*

            Actually 3 major airports, since BWI is technically in Baltimore but accessible from DC by public transit.

            I have taken both train and bus between New York and Washington. I like the train better but the bus was fine. There are several passenger bus lines – I think I took Vamoose.

            I like the touristy trolley ride that offers you the chance to see many of the sights and hop off at one if you want and catch the next trolley.

    2. UKDancer*

      Different people like different things so I’m not sure about the “best” things to do but in Washington I’d definitely recommend the Smithsonian. It’s amazing. I think the Air and Space museum is closed but the Nat History, African American History and First Nations museums are all excellent, I could spend ages there. There was also quite a fun museum of espionage at l’Enfant Plaza but I’m not sure if it’s still there.

      I loved pottering around Georgetown and looking at the shops (especially Sephora because we have not got one in the UK). It’s also a nice place to mooch around for retail therapy.

      I was with a group and we got to have a tour of the Capitol which was really interesting. I don’t know how easy these are to organise now but if you can do one it’s worth a go. We also did the White House tour which was less informative but good for photographs in my view.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you!!
        Smithsonian is definitely in the itinerary – I will check African American history, it sounds amazing! Also thank you for Georgetown and Capital ideas! Re: retail therapy: what do you think, is the retail therapy better in NY or Washington? (for someone who wants to stroll through downtown…)
        Definitely plan to do something of that…

        1. UKDancer*

          I’ve not been to New York so can’t comment on how it matches up on the shopping front so I’d defer to those who have. DC isn’t renowned for shops but I quite liked it.

        2. Reba*

          You need free, booked in advance tickets for NMAAHC — it may be too late for that now. Otherwise all Smithsonians are free to enter. I highly recommend the Portrait Gallery and American Art, current highlights being the Hung Liu temporary exhibition, orchid show in the courtyard, and the Folk and outsider art permanent collection. NMAI is another lovely one.

          Also on the National Mall (in the Smithsonian’s neighborhood) is the National Gallery and special mention here of its sculpture garden.

          Despite being strait laced in some ways, DC has some quirky hidden gems in the city like the “Graffiti Cliffs,” the “Barbie Pond” on Q street, and little artworks installed in old call boxes all over town. There are also many cultural centers run by the various embassies that could be worth a look if they have something on during your visit — House of Sweden, Mexican Cultural Center are my favorites. Actually the embassies big open house day might be going on while you are here!

          To look for things to do in DC, my ref’s are Cultural Tourism DC and the Washingtonian.

          1. East Coast Traveller*

            Thank you for the hidden gems info, I will definitely check them out!
            And, well, try to book African History museum as soon as possible…

        3. Janet Pinkerton*

          100% the shopping is better in New York. I don’t know that DC has anything that New York doesn’t have, whereas the opposite is definitely true.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            Agreed, NYC has every big name American store imaginable plus very unique shops, and they are generally clustered together so you can walk to a bunch at one time.

      2. Imtheone*

        You probably need to book tickets ahead for the Afro-American History museum. It’s very popular. The Holocaust Museum is excellent. I was afraid it would be too painful to see, but while the subject is horrific, it is well-paced.

        1. Let me be dark and twisty*

          Just to clarify Imtheone, African American History Museum requires timed-entry tickets but they are free. You have to get them in advance online from the website.

          And also in my not-expert opinion, the NAAMH has the best food in all of the Smithsonian Institute. The food is cultural for the museum, developed by famous and professional Black chefs. I work nearby and I used to go to the museum for lunch all the time (before they re-implemented timed-entry tickets).

          1. East Coast Traveller*

            Thank you for the suggestions, both info on timed-entry tickets and the food!
            Cultural food sounds really really cool – I have no idea how the “Black” cuisine in the US tastes and it would be great to try.

            1. Fellow Traveller*

              The Museum of the American Indian also has a great cafeteria.
              You’ll want to double check Smithsonian museum hours. Most of the museums are currently only open four days a week, and it varies by museum. It might be different come May, though.
              (The National Gallery of Art is technically not a Smithsonian Museum, so check that website individually.)

              1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

                The Museum of the American Indian cafeteria was closed when I was there last fall, so check before you go. The museum was also disappointing-tons of stuff about how the White Man Did the Indian Wrong, which is important of course, but they didn’t bother including much about What the Indian Did, which ought to be more important. I don’t think there was ANYTHING about pre-Columbian history, for instance. So probably go to the African American History one instead.

                The new Uvdar-hazy Air and Space museum was awesome, but out of the way, so you’ll probably want to skip it unless you are flying out of Dulles.

              2. saf*

                The chef from the Indian museum went to the African American museum. The Indian museum cafe is nowhere near as good as it was. The museums are all in the process of opening for full hours, except for Air and Space, which is closing for renovations.

        2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          The AA History museum is one of the best museums I’ve ever been in – and I have been all over the world. Its incredibly well curated. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is also really good (though my favorite U.S. Art museum is the one in Chicago and frankly, if you are looking for Western classics, Europe has more of them). I’d skip the U.S. Holocaust museum because as a European, you have better access to that period. As a History buff, I also really like the Smithsonian’s American History Museum – the thing with DC is that all those museums are within walking distance, so if Air and Space isn’t your thing, you can head down the street for something else.

          Mount Vernon is a ways away – and might be difficult or expensive to get to – check out bus tours. If there is a bus tour that hits Mount Vernon and Monticello (Jefferson’s home) over the course of a day, both are worth the time. Plus the Virginia countryside on the way to Mount Vernon is very pretty.

          1. East Coast Traveller*

            Thank you for the ideas!!
            I really wanted to go either to Mount Vernon or Monticello (yes I am a history buff…), but Mount Vernon looks better re: public transit, so it will be probably Mount Vernon. However I will look at the bus tours, may be it is a better option than going on my own.

            1. Grits McGee*

              Pre-pandemic, you could get to Mt. Vernon by taking the metro to the end of the Yellow line and then taking a public bus to Mt. Vernon. There are also river cruises you can take down the Potomac, which are a bit spendy but a nice ride. Be warned though that Mt. Vernon is going to take all day, and tbh, my history buff parents found it pretty disappointing. The actual house tour is pretty superficial (and extra $$$ on top of your ticket), so I would only recommend taking the time to go if you are an agriculture enthusiast or are more interested in the history of slavery and labor at Mt Vernon than you are in George Washington.

              1. East Coast Traveller*

                Oh, thank you for the honest Mount Vernon assessment!
                That doesn’t sound overly exciting, it seems that for a history buff I would be better served with Lincoln’s house and house of Frederick Douglass, as other commenters have recommended…

                1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

                  One thing to understand about both Mount Vernon and Monticello is that they are run by private non-profits – both sort of have agendas that are shaped by the nature of the non-profit. You’ll find politics in play within the walls of the Smithsonian as well – it turns out that how a curating team presents History is a politically charged deal. (And for more information on this I recommend reading History Wars).

    3. RMNPgirl*

      1 day in Philadelphia should be enough if you want to hit the historic sites (Independence Hall, Liberty Bell etc). Depending on how much you want to see in DC, 2 days may be enough there. Look at the Smithsonian website to see which museums you would want to see and then factor in if you want to do White House, Capitol, Arlington. That might help you figure out if you need all 3 days there or not.
      When you’re in Boulder, see if you can do a day trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park. Lots of great hikes and scenery, although there may still be snow in May. Double check with the park service, not sure when timed entry tickets will start again but you may need one.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you!!!!
        Re: DC, I was definitely going to check lots of museums, and probably a tour trip to Mount Vernon (I am a history buff after all ;) Any interesting hikes in the surroundings, that could be available with public transit? White House / Capitol also sounds great, thank you for the idea – I would look on how I can join as solo, if there are any tours.
        Yes Rocky Mountains is on the plan, my friend promised to take me there ;) Thank you for the weather update – will plan to bring some warm clothes!

        1. Grits McGee*

          I live in DC and hopefully am not going to be too annoying with lots of recommendations :)
          FYI, the Capitol building has been closed for indoor tours since the pandemic and has not restarted, but the grounds are open and you can walk around the exterior.
          I’m not sure if the White House has reopened tours, but I honestly doubt it. To tour the White House, you have to submit a request to your country’s embassy in DC at least 21 days before you visit. Getting close to the White House has been tricky for the past couple months b/c police will close off the surrounding areas on-and-off for various reasons. The Pennsylvania Ave-side of the White House is always great for people watching though.
          If I may make some alternative suggestions-
          When I feel like strolling the small, I like to start at Union Station, walk south to the Capitol, then west down the Mall with the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonians. If you walk down First Street, you’ll pass the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress (which is currently open for self-guided tours). Once you hit Independence Ave, you can head west to the Mall. The Mall is where most of the Smithsonians are located, and depending on the crowds, it’s pretty easy to duck in and out. FYI- Many of them require you to go through a metal detector, and all of them will check your bag. Based on your other comments, I think you should definitely make sure to visit the American History museum and African-American History museum. Normally I would insist on the Air and Space museum as well, but I think they’re going to be closed for renovations when you will be in town. If you are a European art buff, the National Gallery West Building is pretty rad. The Smithsonian Castle is also a quick, fun visit if you are interested in the history of the Smithsonian Institution. You might also be interested in visiting the National Archives, which is a couple blocks north of the Mall; the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are always on display, but they might be between exhibits in their museum when you visit.
          From the part of the Mall where the Smithsonians are located, it’s a flat+easy walk to the Washington Monument, and then the WWII Memorial, reflecting pool, and Lincoln Memorial. The Korean War Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial are on the sides of the reflecting pool.
          You also might want to check out Old Town Alexandria- it’s accessible by metro and water taxi.

      2. Christmas Carol*

        If you’re a certain type of movie fan, you might want to at least ride by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Sylvester Stallone ran up the steps in Rocky. And don’t forget to stop for a cheese steak.

    4. Let me be dark and twisty*

      The one question I have about your itinerary is why are you traveling from DC back to NY to fly out to Boulder? Is it because the flights are cheaper from NY to Boulder than from DC? DC has three airports – Baltimore, National, and Dulles. Baltimore and Dulles are a bit of a trek to get to but may be cheaper than going back to NY (where you might have to get a hotel for the night). Just look into it–something to consider if it might help you logistically and time-wise.

      Your itinerary sounds very busy, but that’s ok! The key will be to really nail down what you want to see and do. Planning ahead will be helpful since there’s a lot to do in each of the cities. NY, Philly, and DC in a week is doble but planning ahead will be super helpful. A day in Philly doesn’t leave you a lot of time to see things – at best it’s maybe one museum, a mid-day meal, and walking around. If you really want to do Philly, then I recommend doing one of the city sightseeing tours (the trolley tours are my favorite, and many are hop-on, hop-off). You’ll see a lot of Philly in that way. Do keep in mind how big the cities are. You could be spending quite a lot of time in transit (ubers, walking, public transportation, etc.) and that could cut down on what you want to do. That’s why hop-on/hop-off tours are usually recommended. Especially if it’s your first visit!

      I take the train (Amtrak) all the time between NY and DC so I am biased there and can’t advise on the bus. Whichever one you choose, definitely be aware of the stations/pickup and dropoff locations. There are several options and you don’t want to end up at the wrong one, needing to go across town. You probably won’t make it.

      Things to do: DC has the Smithsonian Institute. By far the best bang for your buck there. Almost all of them are free (I think there’s a fee for the National Zoo) and all are worth the attention. My favorite museum is the National Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art. My favorite memorials are the FDR Memorial and the Korean War Memorial — the latter especially if it’s a rainy or foggy day. FDR Memorial is a little off the beaten path so it might take some time to get there. You didn’t say when you’re traveling, but the seminal thing to do in DC is to rent a paddleboat from the Jefferson Memorial and explore the Tidal Basin that way — in the spring, you’ll see all the cherry blossoms; in the summer, it’s great for people-watching; in the fall, you’ll see the fall foliage. For the history buff in you, I recommend doing a Lincoln Day – Ford’s Theatre where he was assassinated, which I believe also comes with a short tour of the house where he died, and Lincoln’s Cottage, his “summer” home in NW DC that comes with a great interactive tour and lectures on the Civil War. (Also the First Ladies exhibit at the Museum of American History is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular exhibits and worth checking out!)

      NY: Definitely the 9/11 Museum and Memorial (and bring tissues, even if you aren’t a crier). My favorite museums in NY are the Tenement Museum (about immigrants in NYC) and the Museum of the City of New York (about the city over time). I think Grant’s Tomb might be interesting for you too, and you could easily spend your whole 3-day visit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art or Central Park. You can also take tours of the United Nations complex – it’s really neat but it does require some advance coordination.

      Philly: As a nature person, I think you would really enjoy Longwood Gardens, but you’ll probably need a full day and may not have the time. The Franklin Institute, Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall are the key things there to do for history buffs. Except I think the Franklin Institute is more sciencey–either way it was a lot of fun for the 9 year old me!

      Delta is a reliable airline. They tell us to be at the airport 2 hours early for domestic (within the US) flights because of security checkpoints. Actual boarding time is probably 30-45 minutes. Domestic flights usually allot 30 minutes total for boarding so if your flight is at 3pm, doors will close probably around 2:55 with boarding to start around 2:25ish. Your biggest issue with traveling out of NY and DC will be the travel time to get to the airport so if this “1.5 hours of transfer time in JFK” actually means you have a 1.5 hour layover (i.e. time that you’re waiting between flights) at JFK, then you’re probably going to be fine. You might have to hurry since you may have to go through an international checkpoint but I think you’d be ok. (Where you will definitely have a problem is if your domestic flight gets to Laguardia or Newark and you have to transfer to JFK for the international flight, 1.5 hours probably isn’t enough time and you’ll need to pray to the travel gods to have time and traffic be on your side.)

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you for such a detailed comment with lots of great ideas!! So many people recommended paddle boat and Tidal Basin, I think it would be my “nature part” of the DC visit ;)
        Yes there was a flaw in the plan, thanks to the excellent commenters here I will be flying from DC to Denver directly, and then from Denver to NY. It would save me lots of time and hassle, and probably some money too…

        If I may ask, do you know, is Frontier a good airline?
        The Delta flight goes at 6 AM from Dulles, so I would need to shell another 60-70 dollars for an Uber to the airport. With a Frontier flight, I could go with public transport as it goes later in the day. Frontier offers an option of bying a checked bag which I would need, but it looks like the prices are veeery dynamic, and the maximum weight is 18 kg which isn’t a lot, so I am not sure how strict / reliable they are at the actual boarding.

        1. David*

          I am not the previous poster but I’ve heard sketchy things about Frontier Airlines. From what I’ve heard, they’re an extreme low-cost provider and the way they cut costs is by keeping bare minimum staff, packing people as densely as possible into their planes, and not offering a lot of the amenities that you’d expect from other airlines, like a free checked bag. All that translates into a higher risk of delayed flights and missed connections, and terrible customer service when any of that does happen. It’s enough that whenever I’m looking for a flight, I will absolutely avoid Frontier and other “hyper-budget” airlines like Spirit. I stick with the better established carriers, in particular Delta and United. (Before the pandemic I used to really like Southwest, but recently I’ve heard some disappointing things about their COVID safety protocols so I’m not sure about them anymore.)

          But again, that’s just what I’ve heard, not personal experience, so don’t just take my word for it.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            My family takes Frontier fairly often since they live near Denver. I’ve never heard of a big problem. It’s basic but for relatively short flights (e.g. Denver to Cancún) it has been fine. Just go into it expecting that your ticket price doesn’t include amenities but on the flip side if you don’t need them you don’t pay for them.

        2. KR*

          I took a direct Frontier flight from Vegas to Cincinnati. It seemed like an older plane and it was a very bare bones flight. No snacks, no screens on the seat backs, I don’t even think my ticket included a carry on. I didn’t have a problem with the staff, it was about as clean as any other airplane I’ve been on, and it was a cheap flight when I needed it, so that’s cool. One thing I would note is to see if the flight you’re taking is the *only* flight to your destination that day. If you book a flight and for some reason it is missed or delayed, but that’s the only/last flight going to your destination that day you might be in for a night at the airport or an expensive last minute airport change.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’ve lived in both NYC and a DC suburb, and Let me be dark and twisty already covered a lot of what I would have advised, I’d second most of that! I did take the bus back and forth a lot for a while when money was tight, and I’d definitely recommend Amtrak for the one-time or occasional trip. Penn and Union stations are very centrally located and IMO easy to navigate if you’re an experienced traveler. If you’re hungry when you are at Penn Station, I usually get pizza at Don Pepi’s or a bagel with lox and cream cheese at Zaro’s depending on my mood, it’s hard to go wrong at either one. I did take the train from DC to Philly once, and IIRC it was also very easy, although that was many years ago. Don’t rely on the Amtrak wifi, it’s worse than hotel wifi, so be prepared to use your cellular data.

    5. Let me be dark and twisty*

      For DC – Lincoln’s Cottage might be interesting for you. It’s off the beaten path but a really fun and interactive tour about Lincoln’s life and the Civil War. As a nature person, I think you’d really enjoy getting a paddleboat and exploring the Tidal Basin around the Jefferson Memorial. My favorite Smithsonian is the National Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art — fun fact, they used to hold inauguration balls on the upper floors back in the day.

      For NY – consider the UN tour. It may require some advance coordination to arrange but I loved the one I got onto. (Not sure if they’ve restarted them because of COVID but it’s worth looking into.)

      For Philly – I think you’d really enjoy Longwood Gardens but it’s an all-day sort of thing and I don’t think you’d have the time for it.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Wow, thank you – I have never heard of Lincolns Cottage and National Portrait Gallery – I have really enjoyed National Portrait Gallery in London, so I will be checking out the DC one too!
        Thank you for the NY ideas and the Gardens in Philadelphia – I have not yet booked exact dates between NY and Philadelphia and DC, so it is an option.

    6. Lore*

      The worst thing about JFK is security; if you’re transferring within the same terminal, 90 min should be plenty but if you need to take the AirTrain between terminals and go through security again it might be tight. Amtrak is running very good deals right now if you advance purchase—I’m going to Philadelphia in May and the train was only about $20 more than the bus—and it’s definitely faster, plus in Philly the train station is more centrally located than the bus station.

      I have never stayed in an NYC hostel but I think they probably have a safe?

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you – I will check the trains first! I also didnt know about security issues, so I will be probably not risking it and try to fly from DC to Denver directly.

        1. Lore*

          I should say I mean getting through security, not that that the airport is unsafe. Domestic to domestic on the same airline is probably same terminal—but no reason not to fly direct to Colorado if you can! If you’re flying back to NY from Denver and going into Manhattan, public transit from JFK and Newark is much better than LGA, so opt for those if you can.

          Also re Broadway, I recommend Today Tix for discounts if you want to book ahead. TKTS is great for spontaneity but no guarantees, and the prices are often comparable on Today Tix.

          1. East Coast Traveller*

            Thank you for the public transit info re: JFK and Newark in comparison to LGA! Will keep that in mind.
            For DC, I almost booked a relatively cheap flight which would definitely need a 60-70 dollar Uber as it takes off at 6 AM… looking for some better options now ;-)

            If I may ask you, do you know, is Frontier a good airline? It offers an option of bying a checked bag which I would need, but it looks like the prices are veeery dynamic, and the maximum weight is 18 kg which isn’t a lot, so I am not sure how strict / reliable they actually are.

            1. acmx*

              You’ll probably need to pay for an overweight (over the 18kg) bag that’s $100 per bag. The reason they’re so cheap is because they’re ultralow cost and break everything out with fees. But Denver is their base so maybe really cheap fares that even with $100/bag. Spirit Airlines, too.

              Try Jetblue, Alaska Air or Southwest.

            2. Jamie Starr*

              I would avoid Frontier and avoid flying out of Newark. You have to take a PATH train from NYC to Newark and in my opinion it just adds extra stress with having to deal with Penn Station, possible PATH delays, etc. LaGuardia is not an international airport so you would not use it to fly in/out of the US. While you can take a city bus to/from LGA, I would just go with JFK if you can.

              1. Lore*

                You don’t have to take the PATH anymore—the Midtown Direct line goes from NY Penn straight to the airport station, then you switch to the AirTrain.

    7. Sunflower*

      I wouldn’t skip Philly if you like history- it is the birthplace of America! One day is enough though. Agree that it’s probably best to check your options to fly from DC to Denver. DC has multiple airports and Baltimore airport isn’t too far away either. I believe Frontier (a budget airline) flies to Denver from both DCA and BWI.

      Hostels in NY are generally safe and should have lockers or safes. I would check if they do and if not, definitely bring your own lock along and see if you can lock your possessions in a closet.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you – there is a Delta flight DC to Denver to NY that looks good, now I really need to check the airport and how the heck do I get there for the flight at 6 AM…
        Thank you for the idea with my own lock – I will check it with hostel and bring my own lock if they don’t have it.

        1. Sunflower*

          The metro may go to the airport. If not, there are usually buses and shuttles you can buy a seat on that leave from a central point in DC (and NY) and they are cheaper than cabs.

          I recommend downloading the app CityMapper for when you’re here if you don’t have it. It will give you the best ways (public transit, cab, bike, etc) to get around the city along with times and prices for each. The directions for public transit are extremely clear (tells you how many stops to wait, directions for getting out of the station).

          1. East Coast Traveller*

            Thank you once more! Will definitively get CityMapper – it sound that I would need it.
            Do you know, is Frontier a good airline?
            I found a good Delta flight, but then I would need to pay 60-70 $ for Uber as it takes off at 6 AM. With a Frontier flight, I could go with public transport as it goes later in the day. Frontier offers an option of bying a checked bag which I would need, but it looks like the prices are veeery dynamic, and the maximum weight is 18 kg which isn’t a lot, so I am not sure…

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      I’d take the train from NY to DC. Amtrak is about a 4 hour ride and dependent on what time of day you travel, can be as cheap as $59 one way. That would be a better bet than the bus. Most buses to DC from NYC go down I-95 which is the main highway from Maine to Miami. You can get stuff in awful traffic, especially when you hit Delaware/Maryland side of DC.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you, I will check the trains first – I haven’t thought about the traffic which would affect the bus but not the train!

      2. Jamie Starr*

        Yes, I would vote for Amtrak over the bus. The Acela route is slightly faster than the regular Amtrak route and only costs a bit more. (Source: I live in NYC and have taken Amtrak to both Philly and DC.)

        Re: hostels in NYC…I can’t comment on this. But re: safety in general — NYC is a large city so, like you would anywhere else, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t engage in panhandlers or people who try to talk to you at the airport*, on the subways, on the street. It’s okay to be aloof — New Yorkers are known for that! Stay away from the cheap costumed characters in Times Square who want to take a pic with you. They will expect money for it.

        *At JFK – avoid any offers for a ride into the city. You can actually take the AirTrain (about $8) to the subway (E or A lines, $2.75 ) and then take that all the way into Manhattan. It will probably take 1.5 hours but it’s far less expensive than an Uber or cab.

        Things I recommend in NYC:
        The Met — if the weather is nice, go to the roof for a great view of Central Park and midtown Manhattan
        The Guggenheim – for the architecture alone
        A walk through Central Park

        If you like Marcel Duchamp, you must visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It has his Large Glass and Etant Donnes.

        1. East Coast Traveller*

          Thank you for such a detailed comment!!
          I didnt know that you could go to the Met roof, I would check it as I love the panoramic views ;)
          And yeah, it looks that I would take the Airtrain to JFK instead of taxi – it looks much more budget-friendly.

          1. Jamie Starr*

            Oh, I thought of something else. If you want to see the Statue of Liberty, don’t go to Ellis Island. Take the Staten Island ferry. Take the 1 subway line allll the way to the southern tip of Manhattan (South Ferry stop). Look for the Staten Island Ferry terminal (it’s huge, you can’t miss it). The ferry is free — just wait in the terminal to board. On the way to Staten Island you want to be on the starboard (right) side when you get on. When you get to Staten Island, get off the ferry, and just follow the signs around to quickly get right back on the next ferry to Manhattan. (Hurry so you don’t get stuck in Staten Island! ha ha) This time you want to be on the port (left) side, and near the front of the ferry. You will get a great view of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan.

            If you have any interest in seeing the World Trade Center Memorial, it is not too far from there — definitely walking distance if it’s a nice day.

            1. Jamie Starr*

              Ah, a few more tips regarding the subway! If the subway comes and there is one car that has no one in it, or only 1-2 people in it, but the rest have lots of people, DO NOT GET IN THE EMPTY CAR. It either smells very bad, has something gross in it (that probably smells very bad), or the air conditioning (or heat) is broken.

              Also, you may want to look for the car with the conductor in it and ride in that one. (You will see the conductor peek out their window when the train pulls in. They are usually towards the middle of the train.) Or at least look for a car that has several people – preferably a mix of men and women. These are probably safer options than riding in the first or last car in the train where there may be only 1-2 people.

    9. WestSideStory*

      First off: Traveling NYC-Philly-DC back to NYC take the Amtrak train – go to website and look for package deals and discounts. Website is wonky but the trains are reliable and I used to do the NY-Philly one commuting every day for about nine months. (The soothing Keystone service is an express, has no cafe car but is always quiet and comfortable).

      One can also go direct from Philadelphia to DC, different train line but still a comfy ride.

      Alternately, if on budget, I have also traveled the wi-fi-equipped express bus lines that make daily trips between NYC, Philly, and DC. Megabus, Flixbus – they are much cheaper than the train fares and if you book in advance it is quite a savings. The pickup/drop off points also tend to be in center of town, which is convenient.

      I cannot recommend hostels as yes anything valuable you will want to take with you daily. Check hotel websites – cities are still recovering from the Covid loss of tourism and you may find a room more affordable than you think.

      In New York you will want to see a Broadway show. Of course you do! Lots of choices, and some of the older shows offer good discounts. Never saw Phantom of the Opera? Come From Away? Wicked? Aladdin? Macbeth? We live in the theater district (I can see the marquee for Wicked when I step out my door). Happy to follow up with restaurant recommendations that the locals rely on, or our local (a very welcoming irish pub on 48th between Broadway and 8th Ave) plus the little spots to go afterwards for jazz and drinks where you would not feel out of place as a solo. Other than that, walking around any neighborhood is alway an adventure.

      Opera and ballet season is still on, Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden fully open.

      One day is usually enough for Philadelphia (my inlays live there so we go frequently). A metro takes you straight from the train station to the historical area, the main sites are all free and within walking distance. A double-decker bus tour loop takes about 3 hours and shows you all the sites (took family on one last summer and learned a lot about the city from the knowledgable guide). Regrettably, downtown Philadelphia does not have much of a nightlife and public transit can be skeevy after work hours. (Philly residents please feel free to contradict me here).

      Save your museums for DC – they are all FREE and lovely. Denver is a lovely city on its own, but I will leave the tips to residents. Hope this helps!

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you for such a detailed comment!!!!
        Re: Hotels: Manhattan looks very expensive, but I have found some bit better deals on the Long Island, near Metro Queensboro Plaza. Is it a good area for the first-time NY visit? Things like safety, public transport to Manhattan, or just an opportunity to eat breakfast somewhere nearby…
        And thank you for the very cool Philadelphia itinerary, I would probably go to the Independence Hall and then for the bus tour, and see how much time I will have after that, if any :-)

        1. Jamie Starr*

          Long Island [also, no one calls it The Long Island :-) ] is not the same as New York City. When you say near Queensboro Plaza, you are likely referring to Long Island City, which is a neighborhood in Queens, right across the East River from Manhattan. This is part of NYC. Long Island is not part of NYC; it’s for lack of a better term – the suburbs. You definitely do not want to stay in Long Island! Long Island City is a short subway ride to midtown Manhattan BUT, sometimes the subways don’t run to Manhattan on the weekends as they are doing repair work; or the trains are rerouted along different lines. I would really try to stay in Manhattan — that is where everything people think of when they think “New York” is. The area near Queensboro Plaza subway is okay — it’s a weird mix of industrial and all sorts of soulless high rise apartment buildings. There isn’t much in the way of restaurants, shopping, sightseeing, etc.

        2. Lore*

          There is a glut of hotels in downtown Brooklyn now—I don’t know if they’re cheaper than Manhattan but if they are, they’re definitely better situated for stuff to eat and do than Long Island City. (There is some very cool stuff in LIC right now but it’s mostly East and south of Queensboro Plaza and Queens is not super easy to navigate. You could also check out the pod hotel in midtown.

        3. Patty Mayonnaise*

          The above posters are right about Queens, but depending on the price difference, I would definitely choose to stay in Long Island City near Queensboro Plaza if you are going to save a good chunk of money. It’s one stop into Manhattan and there are enough subway lines that stop there that at least one will certainly be running on the weekends. I live in Queens and it’s very common to see tourists get off at Queenboro or the next stop into Queens for their hotel.

    10. MaxKitty*

      New York:
      Metropolitan Museum of Art
      The Tenement Museum
      Cooper Hewitt Design Museum (it’s a Smithsonian, but in New York instead of Washington)
      The Frick Collection (though apparently it’s in temporary quarters right now)
      Boat to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

      Be careful if you want to do a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. I had my credit card number stolen and had to get a new card as a result of paying for a HOHO bus tour in NYC (the tour itself was good, though).

      Washington:
      Any of the Smithsonians
      National Archives Building (home to the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence)
      International Spy Museum
      Monuments on the Mall
      Arlington Cemetery

      Boulder:
      El Dorado Canyon State Park
      Red Rocks Amphitheatre (open to public to visit during the day, hiking/walking trails in the area)
      Meow Wolf in Denver (difficult to describe; an experience in art and creativity)

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you for so many ideas!!!!
        Especially for Denver / Boulder as I will be spending some 3-4 full days there, and my friend also needs to work sometime. Do you have any recommendations what one can do in Denver / Boulder on my own (as it, without a car)? Meow Wolf sounds very cool, and my friend told me that just biking through Boulder can be pretty cool, exploring the town…

        1. Texan In Exile*

          The History Colorado Center is very good, with some amazing exhibits about the settlers, Mexican-American history, including labor history, Native American history, and I think (it’s been a few years) the internment of the Japanese Americans in WWII. It is definitely not a rah rah feel good museum, though.

    11. moonstone*

      Washington state or Washington DC?

      Definitely try to group your west coast and east coast stuff as much as possible. I would minimize flying back and forth during the trip.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I’m thinking DC based on other comments but I was thrown off too! LW, use DC if you mean east coast and Washington if you’re referencing the awesome West coast state :)

    12. kina lillet*

      The train will be a lot more expensive than the bus, but if you’re willing to go zombie mode and just deal with the bus stuff, it’ll be fine. I took Bolt Bus and Megabus a lot, not sure if Bolt is still around but Megabus is going strong.

      In Philadelphia I am very fond of the Mütter museum, but it requires a certain strength of stomach. I found it a lot more respectful than, for example, the plastinated anatomy / body world exhibits, but it still does involve medical stuff, so beware.

      In New York, loved the transit museum in Brooklyn—they have old subway cars you can run around in, and the entire museum is inside an old subway station!

    13. X*

      This sounds great! I haven’t done NY to Washington but general east coast travels if you can financially swing taking the Acela over a bus I’d recommend it. Spent a lot of time in college on those buses and find the train infinitely more comfortable.
      If you can take the train to the Hudson valley from NYC you might enjoy that! Lots of nature and some really cute towns some of which really aren’t far from the city.
      Have fun!

      1. Lore*

        I agree with train > bus but for trips as short as NY/Philly/DC, don’t spend the extra money on Acela. DC to Boston, it saves you some time; NY to Philly it’s maybe 10 min and twice as expensive. Northeast Regional should do you well!

      2. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you!
        I wanted to do a “nature day-out” in NYC, so the Hudson valley thing sounds really interesting: can it be doable as a day trip, and if yes, which stops would you recommend?

        1. Fishgoldfish*

          You can do a day trip to the Hudson Valley but if you only have three NYC days I wouldn’t. Check out some NYC nature – the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (especially if you are there on one of their free admission mornings) are amazing and you can also visit the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park which are right there too. The Prospect Park Zoo is tiny (Bronx Zoo is way more impressive) but also pretty close by.

          Walk the Hudson Greenway to get some river views and visit the High Line (which may be pretty crowded these days, I haven’t been in a while). If you like medieval art, go up to the Cloisters and then walk a bit in Fort Tryon park. And of course everyone should at least pop into Central Park on their first NYC visit! I second the Met rooftop tip. If you are going in summer see if you can enter the lottery for a free Shakespeare in the Park performance, or look to see if there are any Summer Stage shows going on. And overall if it’s not too hot, walk walk walk. Obviously take the subway to get from neighborhood to neighborhood but I think (as someone who lived there for several years) you experience NYC best when you pick a nest place and just wander. Have a few destinations but don’t hesitate to see what restaurants and shops and pocket parks you find unexpectedly.

          If you are a theater person know that you can sometimes find cheap balcony seats online which can be faster than standing in line for half price tickets at TKTS (even if those seats might be closer!). There are (or were) also now other TKTS offices besides Times Square and I believe there’s an app (and TodayTix was a thing too). Also check out theater companies like Roundabout or Second Stage which have great shows and deals for people under certain ages if that applies to you.

          Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge if the weather’s nice and grab some pizza at Ignazio’s to eat in Brooklyn Bridge Park while looking at the Manhattan skyline. Walk up to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a different angle on the skyline and then wander Brooklyn Heights a little to check out the architecture.

          Save hiking for DC where you can do a short lowkey one right in Rock Creek Park or get out to Great Falls or I’m sure other places people have recommended that won’t take you very long to get to.

          Oh and I second the train tip but buy train tickets as early as possible, they go up as you get closer to travel date. Bus tickets don’t get as pricey but you can definitely lose time getting stuck in traffic or if the bus breaks down. Trains get delayed too but not as much I think on that line.

          Have a great time!

    14. Fellow Traveller*

      In DC for hiking near public transportation: Theodore Roosevelt Island has lots of trails and you can walk there from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop.
      Also Rock Creek Park is good for a wooded ramble.
      I live just outside of DC and feel like there is always something I want to see. There are so many free museums, and a lot of museums that are worth the price of the admission they charge. (The Phillips Collection has a Picasso exhibit right now.). Three days is not enough in my mind, to see everything, but it is definitely enough time to see some really great things. And there is definitely the bucket list stuff (Smithsonian, monuments, Arlington) and then the more obscure stuff (Museum of Medicine, doing a mural walk…)
      The Kennedy Center has free performances every day at 6pm. (And you can walk there from Teddy Roosevelt Island.)
      The Washington Monument is again open and you can go up, but you have to book tickets ahead of time.
      +1 for Lincoln Cottage. If you want an interesting contrast, the Frederick Douglas House is also worth going to. I find it interesting how different the two houses are.

      1. Washi*

        I loooove the Frederick Douglas House. I’ve taken the tour 3 times :) I think maybe it appeals so much because I’m a house museum fan but rarely go to the house of someone I actually admire as a person.

        I lived in DC for 7 years and definitely did not see all the things, so I agree that 3 days is definitely not too long to be there!

        OP wasn’t specific about what things they like, so some general recs in addition to the above:
        -walk around the Tidal Basin
        -get a capital bikeshare pass and bike up the C&O canal, OR go across the river and bike up the anacostia riverwalk trail to kennilworth aquatic gardens, where you don’t even feel like you’re in the city
        -try some Ethiopian food!
        -if you’re a garden person, Dumbarton Oaks is gorgeous in May and is in a beautiful neighborhood to walk around
        -old town Alexandria is touristy but super cute, and you can get a “key to the city pass” that gives you free access to all the little museums in Alexandria plus a discount to Mount Vernon

      2. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you for so many great ideas!
        I didn’t know about free performances – will def check them out!
        Thanks for the info re: booking ahead for the Washington Monument!
        For DC, I was thinking about 2 days of museums / downtown, and 1 day with a bit of nature and relaxing by hiking. Theodore Roosevelt Island sounds interesting, or may be Tidal Basin exploring with a paddle boat, as others here had recommended…

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      I don’t have knowledge of the East Coast portion of your trip, but when you make plans for Boulder it’s good to remember that you may need to slow down the pace of your planned activities if your body is adjusting to the higher elevation. Since you’re visiting a friend with a vehicle, it sounds like you’ll have flexibility for your destinations. Personally, coming from sea level, I find that I get a lot more tired hiking at higher elevations and have to generally slow down my pace. I fend off altitude-related headaches with ibuprofen. Have a great trip!

      1. Professor Plum*

        Yes! The higher altitude is a real thing—drink lots of water and plan for extra sleep. I’d suggest going to Rocky Mountain National Park close to the end of your time in CO so that you first adjust to Boulder’s altitude. That said with only a few days, you won’t really be fully adjusted.

        One thing I love in CO is heading to the hot springs—either Hot Sulpher Springs or Glenwood Springs if your friend is up for the drive.

        1. East Coast Traveller*

          Thank you, I haven’t thought of that! Will be packing some of the ibuprofen definitely ;-)
          Thank you for the idea with hot springs – that sounds great, I ll ask my friend if she is up for the drive.
          Re: Boulder: I have an option of doing either 3 or 4 full days there. If I do 3 days, I would get an extra day in NY. What do you think is a best option, regarding places to see and visit?

      2. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you, I haven’t thought of that! Will be packing some of the ibuprofen definitely ;-)
        Re: Boulder: I have an option of spending either 3 or 4 full days there. If I do 3 days, I would get an extra day in NY. What do you think is a best option, regarding places to see and visit?

    16. RagingADHD*

      In May, in New York, make sure you visit Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters Museum. They are particularly beautiful in the spring, and you can even find bloom lists for the Heather Garden if you look up the park’s website.

      I wouldn’t leave valuables in my room in any hostel, anywhere, but I’m rather untrusting anyway.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you for the parks / garden ideas! I would have 3-4 days in NY in the beginning and 2-3 days after return from Colorado, so a trip to a park / gardens would be something that I really love… Especially in May!

        Re: Hostels: I would take my credit cards and travel documents with me, definitely, I don’t have any especially valuable things besides that, but I wanted to bring a laptop with me (rather new and expensive MacBook Pro). Do you think it is a good idea, or am I better served if I just bring my older 2012 Mac which I could also “afford” to lose if anything happens?

        1. RagingADHD*

          If you can’t tote the laptop with you during the day in a backpack or something, I’d bring the older one. It would *probably* be fine to leave it in your room, but personally I would be leery.

    17. E. Chauvelin*

      Every few years or so I wind up in Philadelphia alone on conference travel, and it’s one of my favorite places to go solo because there’s so many historic sites so close together (plus, in my circumstance, the end of that district is only about a fifteen minute walk from the convention center so it’s convenient to get there). I like to start at Independence Hall/The Liberty Bell and then just pick a street to walk down, but I’d also particularly recommend The Museum of the American Revolution for somebody who hasn’t been there before. And since most of it is so close together you can probably hit a good amount in a day.

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Thank you for the Philly itinerary, it sounds very promising! I love history and I love walking through downtowns, seems that the city is right place to visit!

    18. *daha**

      Consider the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, because it is extraordinary, but be warned, because it is a medical museum with human remains. The website home page starts you off with a high resolution photo of a case full of skulls – so even seeing that much may be too much for you.

    19. Washi*

      So something interesting to me in reading your comments is that in each location, you seem determined to do 2 days city things, 1 day “nature.” And you know best what you will most enjoy! My personal take is that if you’re in a city, make the most of the city stuff. The “nature” right near a huge city like NYC or DC can be a nice little break during a day of museums, but it tends to just not be that interesting compared to the city stuff that makes those places unique. Especially since you are then going to the Rockies, where nature will truly be the star of the show!

      1. East Coast Traveller*

        Oh, that was nicely pointed out! Thank you for sharing your impression – you are right, of course. I do need a bit of green and quiet after city things, but in NY and DC, I will try to go to scenic parks or waterfronts instead of large-ish hikes somewhere further away (excellent commenters provided me with so many ideas here!!!!): for hikes, Boulder is probably much better and worth an extra day!

    20. *daha**

      Since you want outdoors things as well, consider Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. The water lotus and lily pads are extraordinary. Caveats: You’ll need a car or uber to get there and back. I’m not sure what the sights of the season will be in May. The website seems to have lost its gallery of photos so you can’t really see what it offers. I’m not sure that this is an “only three days” destination, but that’s up to you.

  25. Falling Diphthong*

    Any thoughts on why we hate-watch certain things? Examples of things you wound up hate-watching?

    As an abstraction, I don’t want to hate-watch anything: life is too short, I should drop it if I’m not interested, WHY would I do something optional that just annoys me? Psychologically I don’t like the idea of putting myself into a mode of being really irritated.

    Yet somehow, after weeks of “Yeesh, this is so terribly written!” directed at The Endgame, I find myself watching the next episode each week. For the first couple of episodes I hoped for a fun heist show, and the writing is miles short of that. I don’t think it’s going to pull it together and pay off. Yet somehow each week I find myself checking to see if it’s become good in the past seven days.

    1. UKDancer*

      There was a terrible dating show called “Take Me Out” hosted by Paddy McGuinness which involved a man having to impress 30 women with the object of winning a date with one of them. If they didn’t like what they were seeing they switched the light on their lectern off. I don’t know why I watched it because it was not at all my sort of thing and many of the contestants were absolutely awful. But there was just something about it that made me howl with laughter and I watched it compulsively.

    2. fposte*

      Often things I’ve hate-watched have something in them that I like, so I’m held hostage, frivolously speaking, by that one actor or premise while rolling my eyes at the rest. Sometimes, if I’m honest, I hate watch or hate read to confirm my biases against a group, person, or genre (I think this is most snark communities). And sometimes I start regular watching and it turns into hate watching because I can’t let go.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Held hostage by that one thing you like makes sense–I’ve stuck with some shows (Ugly Betty) past the point of active enjoyment because I got attached to the characters and the first season or two were really great. But when it doesn’t improve, I stop and check out recaps online to scratch the “what happened to this character in the end?” itch. This is the first time I think I’ve gotten stuck with something in season 1.

        There’s an element where it’s an elaborate heist plots type show with two strong female leads, and I want it to be good so in the future those aren’t dismissed because they tried it once. The two actresses are great! The writing is what’s wrong!

    3. Helvetica*

      I don’t know if this is “hate” but I typically don’t watch any reality TV, it is just not for me. However, I did watch Too Hot to Handle and Love is Blind, and I disliked both the shows but mostly because I could not fathom being on either show or either of their premise being plausible. So I treated it like a learning experience and especially for the first one – I immensely disliked most people on it and I could’ve easily not watched it but I kept going, for, well morbid curiosity.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Morbid curiosity might play an element with me. “Are they really going to hit all these notes again? Yes, look, they’re doing it!”

        I gave up on Manifest when it got repetitive and I looked up the episode count and cringed. Usually I’ve very “not holding my interest, so dropping.” Somehow the badness is actively holding my interest with The Endgame.

    4. Lcsa99*

      I think for me, the stuff I’ve hate watched always start out as something I enjoy, then they turn to crap and I feel like I have to keep watching just to see it through to the end. My husband calls it “punishment homework,” and some of them do feel like that, but I just can’t seem to stop. I do the same for books I am not really enjoying.

      I’ve gotten better in recent years. There are a few that I’ve managed to pull free from, but it does take a conscious decision to just stop.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Back in the 90s there was an NPR interview with a guy with a radical idea: If he wasn’t enjoying the book he was reading, he would just stop and read a different book. Actual life-changing advice, but it took a long time for me to tone down the feeling that I was betraying the author and characters by not seeing their story through.

        1. Can't think of a funny name*

          I used to feel like I had to finish a book too but now I stop if it doesn’t keep my interest…for the most part, I finish…it’s only been a couple that I’ve given up.

        2. Filosofickle*

          I have learned to do this but it’s rarely easy for me. Right now I have two castoffs by my bed that will probably end up in a little free library if I don’t pick them back up soon. Often I still want to know how it turns out, though, so I look up a plot synopsis online. That closes the loop in my head so it’s easier to walk away.

    5. moonstone*

      I wouldn’t go as far to say I hate it, but I definitely watch bad TV. Bridgerton is the most recent example of this. It’s so badly written but it’s entertaining and a good break for my brain. However, I can’t tolerate reality shows, even for watching ironically. It has to be fiction/drama.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love Bridgerton. LOVE it. And it’s not the kind of thing I usually watch at all. But I adore it. It’s like, I know they’re going to get there in the end, so let’s just enjoy the ride. Plus the costumes and sets are beautiful.

        I’m also watching The Great and I love that too. I think it’s better than Bridgerton (definitely raunchier, haha). It’s clever and funny, with very snappy dialogue.

    6. Bluebell*

      Gotta admit, one of the reasons I watch Endgame is to marvel at all of Elena’s couture outfits, and how they aren’t wrinkled at all. And to yell at the TV each time she says “let me tell you a story.”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I yell at the TV every time she drops a clue, and then 5 hours and 17 minutes later–as she predicted–the FBI figures it out just in time to disable the deathtrap with one minute remaining.

        I have also started to yell whenever they have yet another meeting in the command center which has a gigantic window into the “cell” of the dangerous criminal. You could use a conference room! She could have a normal cell without windows!

    7. Double A*

      I don’t intentionally start anything to hate watch it, but there have been a lot of shows that turn ridiculous and when my husband starts watching them with me we have a ton of fun with snarky commentary. I think it’s fun for the same reason that Mystery Science Theater 3000 is fun; you get to make jokes at someone else’s expense, but it’s harmless because it’s just TV. Humans have a tendency to bond in-group vs. out-group, so I think hate watching is a form of othering. It also feels good to feel superior to other people. Not saying these are our finest tendencies, but I think hate watching is a way to indulge them harmlessly.

      We also will hate watch stuff that goes downhill, like an early season is good and then it just goes off the rails. We had a lot of fun hate watching season 3 of The Sinner (and we love Bill Pullman!) and season 2 of Hannibal.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Interesting point about the fun of othering, and it hits what FPoste said.

    8. Cruciatus*

      Like others, I didn’t set out to hate watch, it’s usually something I’ve been invested in for a few seasons and then it starts to go off the rails. I do remember Secret Lives of the American Teenager (starring a teenage Shailene Woodley! I think Molly Ringwald being on it gave me the impression it might be good…no.) That show got crazy fast and I did hate watch that one with a friend so we could discuss how insane whatever plot was.

      But something more recent, I started New Amsterdam but now I’m usually left shaking my head at X, Y, or Z. I’m still attached to some of the characters but it’s gotten more cringeworthy as time has gone on.

      Also, The Goldbergs. I was so fond of the early seasons, but now it’s the same plot over and over and no one ever learns anything or grows in any way. But since there was that weirdness with Jeff Garlin I’ve been watching to see if I notice when they’ve obviously superimposed him into a scene or whatever. But at the beginning I just really remember being so into the show and I think fondness kept me around.

      I think I don’t give up those shows that drive me crazy because there’s a hope it will improve, or sometimes there is a story line that keeps my attention. I’ve only very rarely dropped a show, though I wish I could get better at it!

      1. Mimmy*

        Re Goldbergs: Did you see the episode where Erica and Jeff got married? The superimposing of Murray Goldberg was horrible! As for the show itself, I agree that it’s the same plot over and over and Beverly is super-annoying. However, I have a fondness for the show because I love the 80’s culture references.

        1. Cruciatus*

          And I also liked when they brought in real people from Adam’s life to play characters and showing his home videos at the end of an episode showing a plotline was 100% true. Neither of those things have happened in a long time, at least that I can remember (the pandemic has made my brain a sieve).

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Bridezillas!

      I watched one episode when there was nothing on (I think it was on Netflix at the time). I thought it was the most ridiculous, obviously exaggerated thing on earth, but I got hooked on it. Seriously, it was like a train wreck and I could not look away. I watched every single episode. Confession: I kind of miss it!

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      Grey’s Anatomy! I know I’m in a minority of one. I only really liked the first three seasons. I kept watching because…I don’t know. I kept expecting it to get better. The characters had been interesting, and if they were all going through a whiny phase, so be it. And it was just such a pretty show. The lighting was lovely, the actors were good looking, their scrubs fit perfectly, it was just kind of restful for my brain. I finally had to make myself remove it from my TiVo because I was mad at myself for wasting that hour every week, and I was surprised at how conflicted I was.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I don’t really hate-watch anything, but I do hate-listen to the radio when I’m working. I’m still working from home, and that will probably last for at least a couple of weeks more. During the last couple of weeks they’ve pulled me off of the phones to have me process a back-log of paperwork. It’s mostly fairly easy, a bit boring, so while I’m doing it I’ve been listening to the radio. And the sad, pathetic state of radio… Both over the air and internet.

      I’ve been listening to a lot of NPR and BBC. I will rotate between several different stations on the internet. And it just seems like the same news over and over. Ukraine, Will Smith, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Inflation. I had to stop, so I’ll switch to a classical music station or a jazz station. But then I get bored and go back to NPR and the Beeb. And most of the time I can’t stand them.

    12. Mimmy*

      My “hate-watch” show was Judge Judy. I did genuinely enjoy her for a long time, but in the last several years, she became increasingly nasty and rude. For me, I “hate-watch” just to see what she would say next–I was half-waiting for her to say something so awful that it’d go viral lol.

  26. Trixie B*

    Business Travel – Denver in April. Central Business District area. I have a business trip this month in Denver in the Central Business District area. What should I expect in terms of weather? I am a solo traveler open to restaurants and activities. I booked a hotel in Cherry Creek because of the amenities but wonder if that is too far away. Is the Capitol area suggested? Rambling. Not sure if I should change hotels. Thank you!

    1. Generic Name*

      When you mean central business district, do you mean the tech center or downtown? They are very different. As far as weather, it could literally be anything from a blizzard with 2 feet of snow to low 70s and sunny. April is our second snowiest month, on average. Start watching the 10 day forecast now, but don’t finalize your packing until the day before. We normally reliably know 2 days out that there will be a snowstorm or not. But even if it’s supposed to be mild, it gets very chilly at night, so be sure to bring layers. There’s a reason you see people wearing shorts with a puffy jacket. :)

      Cherry creek is reasonably close to downtown, but if you won’t have a car, look at the bus/rail routes on the RTD website. They have a trip planner.

        1. Generic Name*

          Unfortunately, no. There are a bunch around 17th street that seem to be the place where business travelers stay. That’s where a lot of the conferences are.

        2. E. Chauvelin*

          I stayed at The Curtis for a convention there a couple of years pre-pandemic. It was quirky fun (themed decor on some of the floors) but not awkward “fun” (a hotel that shall not be named in another city for a convention soon after that one that featured glass walls for the bathroom – fortunately I was traveling alone); the rooms themselves were basically what you’d expect/want with most of the odd stuff in the hallways and elevators, and I remember the restaurant being good.

    2. MaxKitty*

      Downtown Denver is suffering a bit from people working so much from home. Not as many people downtown, except along the 16th Street Mall area, and an increased presence of people suffering homelessness. Cherry Creek might be a nicer place to be in the evenings. It’s not a far drive, but not as convenient as a downtown hotel. I would not recommend the Capitol area, which is kind of at the outskirts of the downtown core. If you want to switch, probably stick with a hotel closer to the convention center and theater area. The theater has been back in operation so there will be people around.

    3. specialK*

      As long as you have a rental car, Cherry Creek will be fine. I wouldn’t recommend using public transportation to get to the CBD though Uber/Lyft would be more realistic. The Crawford Hotel is right in Union Station so easily accessible to pretty much anywhere downtown. Also super convenient in that you can take the light rail directly from the airport to the hotel. My SIL doesn’t stay anywhere else when she comes to visit. As mentioned below, the homeless population has increased since the beginning of the pandemic but she says the hotel is very secure.

    4. OyHiOh*

      If you have time for side trips, and arts/culture are your thing, go see Meow Wolf Denver. The room full of scenes built inside radio bodies wasBut one of my favorites.

  27. Overeducated*

    Any tips on how to set up a safe carpool with strangers from the internet? I’ve got a 50 mile commute to a major city and would love to share with others going the same direction; the county-run rideshare signups are very undersubscribed, so I’m thinking asking around in a massive (like, tens of thousands of members) local Facebook group is the way to go.

    But I am a small woman and I don’t want to get axe murdered! So what kind of info would you exchange and/or what pre-meetings would make you feel safe planning to travel with a stranger? I *think* this is a weekend question, not work. Thanks for advice!

    1. Xena*

      I would start by seeing if you can carpool with more than one person. There is often safety in numbers

      1. Overeducated*

        That would be ideal! It would also mean each person would have to drive less frequently. But trying not to be too optimistic here.

    2. Just a name*

      In our area (DC) they have slug lines where you can pick up passengers and then use the HOV lanes. It seems very organized in that people line up according to destination. I think people often end up slugging with the same people. Not certain what the pandemic did to that though. Not sure if that is just something in this area.

      1. Overeducated*

        I don’t think there are any where I live, especially since telework has expanded so much. (My local colleagues don’t know of them, nor does the internet.) Would be great though!

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I am not familiar with the phrase “slug lines” in this context. Can you explain?

        1. Fellow Traveler*

          They have them in San Francisco area too , only there it is called “casual carpool”. Basically what Just A Name described – it’s a central location where people who want a ride into the city stand in a line, and people who are driving pull up and take passengers in so they can use the HOV lanes and avoid paying fares.

    3. Sunflower*

      In the spirit of FB groups, try joining some solo female traveler ones- there are TONS. They should have amazing resources and perhaps you can find a local rideshare in there?

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Personally I’d ask about tickets, accident history, etc. You are way more likely to end up with a bad driver endangering you through their driving, then through an axe.

  28. Anonymous cat*

    Hi! I’m looking for recommendations for meditation or guided imagery videos, preferably free.

    I’ve tried googling for this on YouTube and there are just so many!!

    So I thought, the AAM community probably has favorites that they would recommend!

    I’m a beginner at this but I liked both meditation and guided imagery sessions. I know there’s Headspace for this but I’d rather not pay $69 unless I’m sure I’ll use it.

    Does anyone have any recs?

    1. Wordnerd*

      I do not think it comes with guided imagery, but the Healthy Minds app is free and has some nice meditation practices. It might be a little more educational than you are hoping for, but it’s something I looked at for a work thing.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Danny Penman and Prof Mark Williamson on YouTube do the best guided mindfulness meditation imo, but there’s no visuals.
      Also they’re free.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Thanks! Do you happen to have the link? I’m finding their names for things like the “8-week plan” but not guided meditations.

    3. Ampersand*

      I like John Davisi’s guided meditations. They’re free on YouTube. He has the most calming voice—I found him randomly while searching for meditation and he’s my go to now.

    4. Bobbi*

      My county library system offers Headspace free to cardholders, for 3 months at a time. Other library systems may have similar options.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      Belleruth Naperstek is wonderful. A lot of her audio guided imagery exercises are available free on YouTube and on Spotify. Don’t listen while driving, she advises :). A therapist told me about her. I return to them often.

    6. anonagain*

      I like Tara Brach, Elisha Goldstein, and the AudioDharma podcast. All have a mix of talks and meditations so just look for the meditations. Mindful magazine has some good stuff online too.

  29. Sunflower*

    I have a few weeks off between jobs and want to go somewhere warm with a beach that I can plop down on but also would like to do some cultural exploration and hopefully meet some other travelers (I’m traveling solo). I don’t want an all inclusive!

    I feel like Caribbean or South America would be my best bet here but would love your input and specific islands or activities! Ideally 3-5 nights and flying out of NYC or PHL. Travel dates could be anywhere between mid to end of April.

      1. Bluebell*

        I’d second Puerto Rico. Easy to get to, beautiful beaches, and culture too. I took a great architectural tour when I was there pre-covid; found it through AirBnb. Also did a sailboat trip, a food tour, and a very cool program where you could feed manatees.

    1. Anon for this*

      Costa Rica, fly into Liberia, arrange a van to take you to and from the coast.

      Or Cancun. Stay at a smaller hotel or air bnb. Easy to get to.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Sanibel Island in FL? Nice wildlife reserve where you can kayak. Good restaurants. Can bike all over the island. Best beach combing ever. Some small museums, so may not as cultural as you were looking for, I’m thinking as I type this….

    3. Hola Playa*

      Thirding Puerto Rico! So much to see or just pick one place. Ocean Park, San Juan for all the city stuff and easy Uber access to great food and tours. Luquillo for a beautiful, local, chill beach vibe. El Yunque rainforest has amazing hiking and views. Aguadilla is gorgeous with a bit more touristy vibe but still plenty authentic PR. Scuba diving in Guanica.

  30. Cimorene*

    Has anyone had luck transitioning to non dairy milks when you really like the taste of milk and don’t like the taste of non dairy milks? And am on the only one who just doesn’t like the taste of non dairy milks? (I’ve tried most of the common options such as oat milk and most nut milks). For digestive reasons I think I really need to reduce/eliminate a lot of dairy in my diet but I find the taste of most substitutes unappealing. Is it just a matter of forcing yourself to use them until you get used to the taste? Just curious if anyone else has felt the same and how you made the transition.

    1. fposte*

      It might be easier to do without, or at least try going without for a few weeks and seeing if total milk absence makes you soften a little on the alternatives. I’m not a fan of the taste of most of them either, and when I’ve been milk restricted I’ve realized that most of my milk use is a luxury for taste purposes anyway. So if I’m not getting that taste I might as well have my oatmeal in water, which turns out to be just fine.

    2. BRR*

      I think of them as their own flavors and not imitations. When I drink an oat milk cold brew, I’m expecting the taste of oak milk, not dairy milk. I find comparing substitutes for any feed or drink often leads to disappointment. And finally getting around to answering your question, I eventually did learn to like them in some circumstances

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This. I’m a vegetarian (but not vegan), & I like the Chinese description of traditional vegetarian dishes: “Fool the eye & please the palate.”

        For example, I don’t expect a veggie burger to necessarily taste like a regular hamburger, but I expect it to be delicious in it’s own way. And for its flavor to work with the regular burger fixings that I like.

        That being said, non-dairy milks do have distinct flavors that don’t all work with everything you might use cow’s milk for. It can be very mix & match.

        1. Cimorene*

          This is very spot on. And i think i am not expecting non dairy milks to taste like milk…but unfortunately i don’t like the taste of them as an independent thing either.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I used vanilla-flavored rice milk for a very long time and never got used to the taste. I eventually realized it was better to just do without.

    4. Cocafonix*

      I’ve done a transition about 2 months ago. I tried before and like you, was not a fan so went to 1%. But for me, upon seeing a test result showing a bad trend, the switch was then surprisingly easy to make. Health or dairy? I chose health. Quit cheese, milk that day, along with white things (bread, pasta, rice), salty snacks, sweets etc. Rarely eat meat, much reduced wine (gol blammit I don’t want to quit you entirely!) Feel much better. Rather than being “forced” I’d say after a week or two, I got used to it and now 2 months since regularly eating a block of cheese and 2 litres of milk weekly, I don’t wish for it anymore.

    5. Helvetica*

      I did this a while back. I also dislike the non-dairy milks; I especially hate oat milk as to me this tastes like oatmeal water, which it should and I do not like that at all.
      What I had luck with was finding lactose-free milk so it still comes from a cow but with added lactase so easier to digest. It should work if your reasoning is digestive and not vegan. I lived in a country where this was freely available. Soy milk is also fine – it has a taste but I found that I got used to that much better than any nut milks.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Yes this is what worked for me too – switching to Lactaid or similar store brands. I actually prefer the taste of it now to regular milk. It I also don’t drink much milk as much as I love it – an ounce in my morning coffee, might have ½ a 1 full glass at night 1-2 nights per week. As mentioned above maybe try going without to see if you can get by without a replacement?

    6. Generic Name*

      I’m in this predicament as well. If you’re lactose intolerant, there are lactose free dairy milks out there that supposedly work, but I’ve never tried them. I don’t mind the taste of almond milk, but it gives me the same problem I’m trying to avoid by cutting out dairy. I’ve gone from having cereal with milk and half and half in my coffee to powdered non-dairy creamer and anything out cereal for breakfast.

      For cooking, I’ve found canned coconut milk a reasonable substitute for cream.

      I’m having trouble avoiding dairy “hidden” in packaged foods. Mostly because I forget to check and unthinkingly eat “made with real cheese” cheese balls. I know, duh. I don’t necessarily miss dairy, but it’s more like it’s annoying to avoid. I don’t like black coffee, and I seem to have trouble with the milk substitutes, so if I meet someone for coffee I end up getting tea, which feels lame somehow.

    7. Sundial*

      It just takes time to change your palette. I switched to almond milk a few years ago due to stomach upset, and now cow milk tastes awful to me. The first 6ish months were a struggle.

      Also, brand matters much more than it does with cow milk. I hate Almond Breeze and love Silk.

      1. Cimorene*

        This is helpful. I may try soy milk. But also recognize that the transition might just be a struggle for a while.

    8. Amey*

      I’ve had this issue too – have you tried soy milk? I know it’s a bit out of fashion but if you’re not trying to avoid soy, I find it works much better in my tea (I’m in the UK, very picky about tea!) than any of the other non-dairy milks. Most of the milk I consume is in tea! I can’t have oat milk (coeliac) but I think nut milks work well in smoothies and other places where the flavour is a benefit. But as a like for like substitute, I find soy is best.