weekend open thread – March 11-12, 2023

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: All Together Now, by Matthew Norman. A terminally ill man brings his oldest friends together for a final vacation and tries to use his wealth to alter their lives.

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

{ 1,083 comments… read them below }

  1. Warrior Princess Xena*

    I love that while Wallace and Laurie are smacking each other Eve (?) is just sitting there chilling in a sunbeam.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes I thought the third cat was brilliant at completely ignoring the catfight going on in front of her and just thinking deep thoughts.

    2. Our Lady of the Cats*

      I love how they are rolling around like kittens, then both go scampering off to have zoomies together!

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Commenting on cat shenanigans like we’re sportscasters at the Olympics is a great way to spend a Sunday.

  2. Nadia*

    I realized this week that I have been living in sweats, a ponytail and no makeup for far too long (thanks, pandemic habits). I would like to start pulling myself together a little more. Clothes I have covered (I just need to start wearing stuff that hasn’t been out of my closet in a while) but I could use easy tips on how to look more pulled together in other ways. So please bring on any easy makeup, hair or skincare tips or anything else I can do to stop looking like I am on a camping trip all the time.

    1. Sockster*

      I’ve recently found that putting on cuter jewelry is a nice way to step up my appearance and feel good about myself. Like a cute necklace, or hoop earrings, or some little rings- the kind of thing that I usually wouldn’t wear if I were just hanging around the house, but it makes me feel a little more intentional about my look even if I’m just at home!

    2. Purple m&m*

      I started putting on makeup everyday so I don’t look like a crazy person after not practicing. Plus, it feels more polished to go out quickly.

    3. RagingADHD*

      For a quick minimal everyday makeup look, I’m a big fan of a color stick. I do my concealer / light foundation with one, then I have one that works for blush, eyelids, and lips. Quick eyeliner, mascara, done.

      It makes a ridiculous amount of difference for how low effort it is.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, I’m cheap. Whatever is the right shade at the drugstore. I think the ones I have right now are from Wet n Wild. I’ve also used Maybelline Fit Me, and I have one from Burt’s Bees that’s very nice in winter because it has extra moisturizer in the middle.

    4. Count von T-shirt*

      I’ve switched to a tinted sunscreen and lip gloss routine with hair in low pony or braid. It feels a little more fancy than my pandemic uniform, without a whole lot of fuss.

      1. Shannon*

        Tinted sunscreen and lip stain are my go to as well. I wear glasses so the eye makeup is less noticeable, and if my allergies are fussy eye makeup is a no fly. It’s amazing how much difference just a little bit of color makes.

    5. CL*

      In a similar place, I just updated my facial cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Nothing fancy, just getting back into the routine. Add lipstick and that’s a lot more put together than I was for most of the pandemic.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I started using a primer every day (ELF makes good ones) and it makes my skin look brighter and more even all on its own. A thin layer of powder base on top, concealer if needed and mascara on my top lashes and I look put together.

    7. KathyG*

      I would urge to to reconsider WHY you think it’s a problem that you’re not wearing makeup – – aside from the multi-billion-dollar industry devoted to convincing us that we need it. The more of us who realize that it is not vital to a professional look, the better.

      There’s nothing wrong with a ponytail either.

      1. Not Australian*

        Thank you! I absolutely loathe having anything on my face and gave up makeup decades ago. I really don’t understand why anybody does it any more…

        1. Maggie*

          People have different preferences and things they like to do with their appearance? That’s all. It sounds like OP wants to do this and that’s ok just as it’s ok if you’d rather not wear it.

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Because I like the way it makes me look, which is a valid thing to like. Why is it not ok to have different preferences?

      2. Nadia*

        Because I like it? It’s not wrong to enjoy the look of wearing makeup and having my hair done.

      3. Holly the spa pro*

        The question wasn’t about how to look more professional though. Nothing that they said was a condemnation on people who like pony tails.

        I personally like wearing make up because it feels satisfying in the way that coloring or drawing can be satisfying. I also don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t derive any enjoyment from it. It can just be for yourself. Or you can have extra coffee time in the morning instead of doing it, it’s all good.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Camping trip is not code for “unpresentable.” It means you’re dressed for function and ready to get dirty.

          There are jobs where that is appropriate. There are days where that is exactly what you’re going for in your look–I did sweats and a ponytail yesterday as I was tackling big physical chores. And there are days when that was the lowest effort option so you rolled into it, but now you would like to beyond merely functional.

          A couple of days ago my husband was looking at the newel post on our stairs and commenting that when he fixed it a few years ago he’d gotten it functional, but not pushed on to make it pretty. Aiming for “functional AND pretty” is a very common design goal not limited to women’s appearance–it describes what we’re looking for in a house at the moment, for example.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          I like makeup and having my hair done. I like the way I look that way.
          I miss dressing up while working from home. I dye my greys because I am not ready for them at the age of 44. I pick cute glasses frames that go with the shape of my face, cute jewelry, and even cute tshirts and sneakers for going grocery shopping.
          There is nothing wrong with looking these things. They make ME think that I care.
          (Except heels, I have up those for good).

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Eyeliner! It makes me feel “Okay, we’re up and active now” like nothing else in my routine. Also, earrings or a necklace if you wear jewelry.

      And put on shoes. Even if you aren’t going to leave the house for a bit, shoes are another signal that you aren’t about to go back to bed.

          1. Wombats and Tequila*

            Pencil has never worked for me–I always end up having to practically stab my eyelid to even get any color at all, which then completely fades within minutes. Then if the point breaks, it can never be sharpened again. I can only express wonderment at those who manage to get any use out of pencils at all. Liquid eyeliner is simply anarchy. Markers are the way but they’re hard to find.

            1. UKDancer*

              Can’t use pencil either, I wind up either with nothing or dents in my face from pressing too hard. I love the ones that are like a felt tip marker. They’re great. During lockdown I practised a few winged eye looks with a marker and it looks really good for parties and dressed up occasions. I also discovered coloured eyeliner which is so much fun.

      1. KR*

        Eyeliner is also my go to to feel more put together. Even if it’s just a quick flick up on the outer edge so there’s a wing (but nothing else on the lid) it just makes me feel more put together.

    9. Still*

      How about a haircut? Bonus points if it’s short enough that you physically can’t put it in a ponytail.

      1. Still*

        Oh, and there’s nail-polish, of course. I don’t do makeup but I enjoy both the process of painting my nails and the fact that I can actually see them throughout the day.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      This is a good opportunity to thank everyone for the easy brow and lash recommendations I got a few weeks back. I’m generally a no makeup person but I do like the occasional low effort thing that works. Alison’s easybrow transfer recommendation was style magic. They take just a few seconds to dab on and just look like my own eyebrows but better. I can get one overnight in them, too, before needing to wash them off. I really like the Glossier bowbrow tip I got too. You literally just brush it on with two swipes and it gives you that polish without looking scary. I’m a very big fan of the auburn colour option! Big fan of Glossier’s lash slick too. Very easy to glide on, shows up in a sleek polished way, stays put and is a great antidote to all the try hard mascaras out there which need primer and two coats because they’re trying to extend your lashes three times with a bunch of clumpy ingredients. I’ve honestly been looking for years for a mascara that doesn’t flake everywhere.

    11. Holly the spa pro*

      I feel this post in my soul. I’m also getting back into the swing of things with hair/makeup/etc. It’s a little endorphin boost for me to feel put-together. I started watching simple up-do tutorials on YouTube. I’ve never really been good at styling my hair so the emphasis is on SIMPLE. Im really not trying to soend more than 10-15 on hair. It’s been pretty fun to practice and feels more cute than a messy bun.

      I am a former makeup artist so I always loved doing a full face of makeup but it was a no-go with masks for me personally so I kinda transitioned to do lash and brow tints. I’m very blonde so that gave me some color and made me feel less washed out. I also leaned into my skin care routine. Highly recommend if you wanna keep things simple.

      No hate out there to anyone who prefers to not wear make up or rock a messy bun daily
      To each their own.

    12. Manders*

      I recently found myself in the same rut, and I had my hair cut to chin length so it’s not as easy to pull back into a ponytail. I also dust on a little powder foundation (Bare Minerals), a swipe of eyeshadow and a little lipstick and that’s enough makeup for me to feel like I’m not just headed to the gym.

    13. Valancy Snaith*

      For hair, a haircut to clean up split ends or grown-out layers will fix a lot of things, and even if you do throw it in a ponytail it will look more tidy than unkempt. Even if you are just doing a pony, a little bit of hairspray or gel to take care of flyaways and strays will take it from “just left the gym” to “neat and taken care of while busy.” For the face, if you don’t generally do anything with your brows, it makes a huge difference–getting them shaped and filling them in a little will give added dimension to your face. As mentioned above you don’t need to do a full face, but a little colour in the brows, maybe eyeliner or mascara if you like it (doesn’t even need to be both!), and a tinted chapstick or lip stain will make it look like you spent a lot more time on yourself than you did.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was also going to suggest starting with a haircut and getting your eyebrows done (threaded or waxed, whatever your preference). Add in a mani/pedi. A day of pampering might give you a good start.

    14. The Ginger Ginger*

      Tinted moisturizer or tinted sunscreen. Evens out skin tone a bit without requiring a whole make up routine (also doesn’t feel like putting on full clown makeup after not wearing any for so long). Takes the same amount of time as putting on moisturizer in the morning. You can add on light blush, tinted lip balm, simple brow gel, etc over time to upgrade it without too much additional effort. If you want to be high effort low effort, tinting your eyebrows and eyelashes means you don’t have to regularly apply makeup but you still get a similar effect. Which is great for keeping your day to day low effort.

    15. Sunflower*

      Using Tan Luxe drops in you face moisturizer will give you a glow without having to put makeup on.

    16. Flowers*

      I am SO tired of women being questioned for why we want to wear makeup, dress up and do our hair. If the decision to not wear it is to be respected and celebrated, then at the very least let the ones who enjoy it do it in peace instead of this argument coming up whenever anyone asks for makeup/beauty advice.

      1. All Monkeys are French*

        Because it’s not just a matter of liking sweet snacks or salty, it’s a deeply entrenched gender norm and those are worth questioning. There are places on the internet with makeup tips that don’t come with feminist critique, but I don’t think this is one of them.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Someone expressing their personal preference doesn’t need a whole feminist critique. It would have more of a place in “I hate wearing makeup, do I have to?” But someone asking question doesn’t need a whole derailing side critique. It’s exhausting.

        2. anna*

          It’s like if someone posted asking for tips for transitioning to being a stay at home mom and someone decided to give them a lecture about why they shouldn’t. It’s rude and it’s not the question being asked.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          If anyone presents it as though it should be a gender norm for everyone, sure, question that. If someone likes makeup for themselves, male or female, we shouldn’t try to get them to conform to our own preference.

        4. UKDancer*

          But the OP hasn’t asked for a feminist critique of wearing makeup or whether she should. She just asked for tips on make up because she personally wants to do so.

        5. Flowers*

          I don’t agree – just because I might like things that are traditionally feminist does not mean that I am “brainwashed” and “need to deeply examine” WHY I like certain things. If that’s the case then women aren’t allowed to enjoy anything and gee that’s not feminist is it?

          A feminist critique isn’t the answer to every question.

        6. RagingADHD*

          You realize, right, that the “not like other girls” trope is also deeply misogynistic?

          And that assuming other women’s preferences are due to brainwashing is extremely condescending?

          1. Howleen Wolf*

            Thank you. “You only think you like wearing makeup, actually you’re brainwashed” is downright infantilizing. I’m a grown woman and I can decide for myself that I like my lips better in a nice berry shade (Maybelline Blissful Berry, you can apply just a touch for a nice natural look or go heavier and it’s suitable for lots of skin tones).

    17. Fan of low maintenance make up*

      I have two levels of makeup: work makeup, which is foundation, NARS orgasm stick for blush (love it!), mascara on the top lashes, a little bit of eyeshadow, and powder. Takes me less than 5 minutes and makes me feel put together.

      For weekends but still wanting to have something on my face I love tinted sunscreen, as others have recommended, and a quick coat of mascara.

      As far as hair, this depends on hair type, but I only wash my hair 2 times a week or so and then blow dry it straight, which I find easy to just brush and either touch up with a flat iron or use a bit of dry shampoo if it’s looking a little greasy. I shower at night, so blow drying doesn’t take up any of my morning time (not a morning person and need to save time when I can).

      When I go to both my hair stylist and to buy make up I always just tell them that I won’t use multiple products, I want something that is quick and easy, and to suggest products/cut my hair in a way that is low maintenance. That means I have my list of products down to about 6 and it doesn’t take me much time to feel pulled together.

    18. Rosemary*

      Eyelash extensions (professional) have been a game changer for me. They are not “easy” in the sense that you have to have someone do them, and go every few weeks for maintenance and they are not cheap…but from a day-to-day perspective they are effortless. I am not a big makeup person, have always hated wearing mascara/curling my lashes… I look like I have makeup on. All I have to do is put on some tinted moisturizer and bronzer or blush and I am DONE. I go for the most natural option – so not a super dramatic “going out” look – but it is enough to make my eyes pop and like I made a bit of an effort. However – definitely make sure you get recommendations from people you know, and/or read reviews.

    19. Observer*

      So please bring on any easy makeup, hair or skincare tips or anything else I can do to stop looking like I am on a camping trip all the time.

      Moisturizer. That’s not always directly visible. But if you are using a good product (good does not necessarily mean expensive, btw) your skin will look better.

      Lipstick. Or even tinted lip balm, if your lips are chapped. Play around with colors. More definite colors tend to have the most effect, but even something not so defined tends to make a real difference.

      Lightly tinted face power. Even the plain translucent stuff helps you look a bit more put together something with some color (like a bronzer, but not necessarily) can make your face look a bit brighter and more “awake”.

    20. Leone SanVire*

      I tell myself that a tweed blazer classics up everything. Even tie dye. Please don’t disillusion me.

    21. Middle Aged Lady*

      I am getting back into oiling and caring for my nails. They were getting feral! If left on my own, I will only wear sneakers, so I have been getting out some boots that haven’t been places in a while and wearing them. I worked in a setting where we did not wear cologne, so I got out of the habit, but a nice scented soap always makes me feel more ‘me.’ Also new or nicer underthings. No one sees them but you know they are there.

      1. Healthcare Worker*

        I’ve just started doing this again, and it’s so nice to have nails that aren’t so ragged!

      2. Uranus Wars*

        I second the nice underthings! I finally took this suggestion and while no one but me saw them for years (single), and it was an unexpected confidence booster and way to feel put together.

    22. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Little self care things that feel like a treat, not a chore. For me that’s a weekly hot oil hair treatment. I gently warm about an ounce of jojoba oil with a few drops of essential oil, then work it into my hair and massage my scalp for a minute or two. Then I clip my hair up and watch an episode or two of Abbott Elementary. Then I wash my hair in the shower like normal. It’s very relaxing, and as a bonus my hair is less frizzy and softer.

      The other thing I’ve resumed is putting on some hand lotion and cuticle oil before bed. It takes 2 minutes, and I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable the hangnails, dry skin, and ragged cuticles were until they were gone.

    23. MeepMeep123*

      When I want to look fancy, I put on earrings and put my hair in some sort of fancy hairstyle – some sort of bun or some other form of updo, with some interesting hair decoration in it.

    24. allathian*

      I rock the ponytail, but I have facial hair and very bushy eyebrows, so getting the facial hair sugared off about once a month and my eyebrows waxed every two months or so does wonders for my appearance. I’m very lucky in that I have very good skin for my age, so when I go to the office and want to look more put together, I wear tinted moisturizer and lip gloss. If I want to go all out, I’ll add mascara. Putting on makeup takes less than 5 minutes with my routine.

  3. New Mom*

    I’ve been contemplating writing an e-book for a couple of years and then finally sat down and started writing it a few weeks ago! I work full-time, have two little kids, and a very small house. For others on here who write but also work full-time and have additional responsibilities, what are your writing routines? How do you intentionally make time, or do you just wing it? I feel like I do better with structure. I feel most creative in the mornings, but the littles are pretty demanding between 6:30/7-8:30am, and then it’s daycare drop off and then work.

    1. RagingADHD*

      When I had a FT non-writing job and littles, I got up at 5 to write from 5:30-6:30. Then I’d also take lunch at my desk and write for an hour on the days I didn’t go to the gym, or if I couldn’t stand being at my desk, I’d take a spiral notebook and write in my car or in the park.

      For me, transcribing my handwritten material was a good way to add a round of editing without really thinking about editing.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Ditto RagingADHD.

        When I taught writers (and with those I still coach), I urge/d them to do it first thing in the a.m., even if it means getting up earlier, and even if only for 10-20 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s not good—you’re writing a zero draft. Accomplishing just that bit sends you into the day knowing you got something done, especially on days when it feels like nothing else did. Remember, a page a day x 365, and you’ve got a book!

        And yes to handwriting. It frees brain flow in a way that differs from when we’re at the keyboard, which tends to put us in “business” mode. I’m a FT indie writer/editor but a lousy typist, so I use the voice dictation option to transcribe. Reading the written words aloud helps you catch problems sentences as that zero draft turns into your first draft.

        Best of luck!

      2. New Mom*

        I might try to get up at 5:30 after we finally pass this sleep regression in the little-little.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, Sleep is paramount. I just can’t make the words go at all if I haven’t been sleeping. My brain is just mush.

    2. Magda*

      I am a fiction writer with a FT job and there’s no one answer. I wrote my first book only in long stretches, like weekends and vacations (I would take writing retreat vacations, which presumably won’t work with kids). But my second and third book I aimed to write much less a day, like 300 words a day – just a few paragraphs. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you can do that, you’ll still finish a drafted book within a year, and then you can aim for a higher quality draft (I personally like a nanowrimo style approach also, but I find it creates a really messy draft that is a huge amount of work to fix).

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Any time I can find five minutes, I write for five minutes.

      Five minutes here and there start to add up.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      No kids, but I used to write on my lunch hour. I brought food to work anyway and then started taking my laptop. I’d eat and write in the break room, then go back to work.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Elizabeth Gilbert talks about having an affair with your writing. If you had an affair partner you’d sneak in to stairwells to make out for five minutes, you wouldn’t care that it’s only five minutes. So while uninterrupted time is amazing, it’s also not the norm for 99.9% of us, and so she says to be so passionate that you squeeze in any little time you can in order to write.

  4. word nerd*

    Share a favorite question that you can ask a stranger to help you get beyond small talk (without being intrusive because it’s still the small-talk getting-to-know-you phase).

    I feel like my small talk skills have atrophied even more with the pandemic. A typical situation is getting my kid together with another kid to play and having to make small talk for a couple hours with the parent. I find it hard to move beyond really basic, boring stuff, especially when we might not be aligned on religion, politics, etc.

    1. New Mom*

      An icebreaker that I’ve always liked at work, but could work here too, is:
      What’s a popular food you don’t like?
      What’s an unpopular food you do like?

      It usually gets funny responses, and it’s not too personal. I think food questions in general could be good.
      What’s your favorite restaurant in the area? What is your go-to order? What is your favorite meal to make?

      1. JustAnotherFriday*

        2 types of questions:

        Casual intros at the office or a dinner party:
        1. What are your weekend plans? Or, what did you do for the recent holiday break?
        2. How do you like living in X city?

        For icebreaker questions in a group:
        1. Best gift, given or received
        2. Favorite book / Favorite movie
        3. Embarrassing favorite song (sometimes makes people laugh)
        4. Favorite meme (for a techie crowd)
        5. a pandemic hobby you picked up (bread making, knitting, whatever)
        6. Favorite city
        7. Favorite Superhero / A super power you wish for

        1. Jessica*

          I suggest framing questions not as “your favorite X” but instead “what’s a good X that you like,” just because the former makes me feel like I must on-the-spot remember all the X candidates I’ve ever encountered, carefully and fairly weigh them all against each other, decide how to decide, commit to a preference, and be judged as The Kind of Person Who Likes This X Best, and all that can be weirdly stressful. The alternate framing gets at the same thing, but in a lower-stakes way that’s just like “what’s a random thing you have some opinions about so we can chat about it.” And if the person does have an actual favorite, it can still prompt them to tell you so.

          1. QR Code*

            I dunno…if someone asks me what my favorite food is, I just…say what my favorite food is. I’m not sure I understand the stress that would cause.

            1. Trixie Belle*

              Lots of people don’t have a ranked mental list of their favorite foods, colors, band, TV show, book, etc. They like various things at various times under various conditions. If you’re not feeling especially quick-witted in the moment, it can be socially awkward to stumble through the “well I don’t really have a favorite x but one x I like is…” and then if someone seems to think you’re a pain in the ass for not having a simple answer to a simple question, presto, more social anxiety.

              1. QR Coďe*

                I would say most people don’t get stressed out by someone asking “What’s your favorite movie?”, and thus it’s a safe bet for a conversation starter, which was the original question. I mean, responding with “I have so many, it’s hard to pick just one, haha” happens, but feeling judged seems an unusual reaction.

      2. Claritza*

        Any of these makes a good starter, even something like “Have you been here before?” can get people talking about interesting topics. It doesn’t matter that your first question was basic.

    2. QR Code*

      I just let the conversation lead. No matter how mundane something might sound, I might say, “Oh, ‘x’ sounds like interesting work…” and off they go. Or “Oh, wow, I’ve never been [to ‘x’ place]. What was that like?” And so on. Just pick something the person mentions and start asking questions. Works every time with little effort.

    3. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      I like to ask people what they did today. Note that is different than what they do. You get some really interesting answers and I think it helps people drop their guard a bit.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I like, “What’s keeping you busy these days?” I find that it’s open ended enough that people can talk about work if they want, or something non-work related.
      With other parents on playdates, I echo Just Another Friday and often ask either, “How was your weekend?” Or “Do you have plans this weekend?” Or “What’s your kid into these days?”

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. Especially with parents of other young kids. Most parents are happy to talk about their kids as an icebreaker, even if they like to talk about something else with people they know a bit better. Talking about kids is usually a pretty safe topic with other parents that you don’t know very well and probably wouldn’t even meet if it wasn’t for having kids of approximately the same age.

    5. Dear liza dear liza*

      I get a surprising amount of traction by following up the usual, “Where did you grow up?” with, “What was that like?” It’s really interesting to hear about, too.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Me too. And if they’re not from around here – “What brought you here? How do you like it so far?”

    6. Bibliovore*

      what brought you to this area? Did you grow up here?
      Have you read anything you love love love lately?
      Looking for some tasty treats, what is your favorite place/restaurant/bodega around here?
      Do you have a gym/park/hike that is your favorite?
      Know any knock knock/ elephant jokes?

    7. OtterB*

      I like “What do you do (or what do you like to do) when you’re not at the park /at this party/ etc.”

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Favorite vacation. Overall is good–most people will have an answer to that. Can be modified to “for a super active family” or “works with different energy levels and interests” etc.

      I routinely recommend Costa Rica, which has beaches and mountains and lovely people and a laidback vibe.

    9. EBennett*

      One of my colleagues is great at starting lunch table conversations with a wide range of ages (20s to 60s). Here are some classics:
      Also, as a teacher, I always think about “icebreakers” that won’t reflect socio-economic status – not everyone can go on vacation or even eat breakfast.
      *first concert or first “album” purchased
      *song you love to sing along with
      *song you play when you need to get psyched up
      *advice from a parent or teacher you still remember (might be good or bad advice)
      *favorite recess activity in elementary school
      *if we have a snow day tomorrow, what would you do?

    10. BetsCounts*

      My favorite ‘get to know you’ question is “who is the most famous person you have ever met”, and I specify “met” is used very loosely. Like, walked past Joe Namath in the airport? Sure, that counts! Everyone has a story, even if it’s ‘I sat next to the local weather reporter at a little league game’. Sometimes it’s that, sometimes it’s “I won first prize in the New Zealand national math competition and Prince Philip presented me with the medal”

      1. QR Code*

        “who is the most famous person you have ever met”

        …would make a perfect weekend thread!

    11. Despachito*

      I used to make these child-centered, and it worked.

      Notice something interesting related to the kid and ask about that.

      (Ask for a recipe for a tasty-looking snack, advice about where you can buy that cool water bottle, can they recommend a fun activity they have recently been to and enjoyed…)

      Share a low-key issue and ask for advice (here where I am it is very difficult to find a kids’ dentist, so I’d possibly ask if the other parent knows about one).

      1. RagingADHD*

        Asking for advice about small things is a really good one, because people love to feel helpful.

    12. Sam I Am*

      I’m listeninging to (band, album, genre, composer) a lot lately, what music have you been listening to?

      I like to volunteer info before the ask so it doesn’t seem like I want to judge them.

    13. 100 varieties of chicks*

      If you were to be summoned, as one summons a demon, which 5 items would someone need to place at the points of the pentagram? (This one is really entertaining, works well for parties, dates, social situations when Getting To Know You is the task. Obviously some people will be disturbed by comparing themself to a demon.)

      What’s the most memorable dessert/beverage/thing they just mentioned you’ve ever had?

      What’s new, good, or up-and-coming in your life?

      Have you ever been pigeonholed by an interest? People keep buying me cutesy cat stuff, but it’s the actual cats I like, not the silly mugs and pins.

    14. This Old House*

      These all sound like interesting questions, but how do you deploy them in conversation? Part of what makes me so bad at small talk (not sure about OP) isn’t knowing what to say, it’s knowing when to say it. Like, there’s a lull in the conversation after you’ve done the regular small talk stuff/commented on the kids/pointed out the weather, and you just go, “What kind of music are you into?” or “What famous person have you met?” Like, out of nowhere? Do you have an intro? (“Humor me here . . . “; “Hey, here’s something I like to ask new friends . . . “) Or . . . what?

      With my level of small talk ability (low), it feels like there’s no way to pull off anything more in-depth than “nice weather we’re having today” without being totally cringy.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        “I find I am less able to meet and chat with new people than before COVID. In fact, I am feeling kind a little lost right now. Are you experiencing any glitches getting back to normal?”

      2. Not into small talk*

        I just ask a low-key, not-so-small-talk-y question, and the other person’s reaction is a data point. If someone isn’t interested in rolling with unexpected questions, then we’re probably not going to have compatible communication styles or personalities. And that’s fine – not everyone has to like me or talk to me.

      3. JSPA*

        Take hints from your surroundings.

        Car goes by with music = excuse to discuss music.

        Or,

        “I’ve had a tune stuck in my head all day. Do you have any catchy songs you use, to chase out an earworm tune?”

        Bike goes by = “so long since I’ve ridden a bike, do you know, is this area bike-friendly?” or “that’s a classic! Is anyone in your family a bike person?”

        Something stuck in a bush = “What a pretty shade of [color], such a shame that it’s on trash” = be an opening for any dozen conversations (favorite colors, flashes of unexpected beauty, how to get kids to pick up their things, tips for keeping the wind from flipping open the local style of recycling bins, volunteering opportunities / annual trash pickup events, who to call in city government about public trash bins).

        Getting something simple done together is brief bonding, and a natural break / easy disconnect after.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        Your intros are good; you’re better at this than you think! I sometimes like to tie it to context as well; so at a party I would say “how do you know host?” + “He’s such a foodie, are you into the whole food scene too?” + “I’m just happy with pizza; I think that’s my desert island food, what would yours be?” The famous person one could be a bit of a clanger unless you have your own famous person anecdote or they’re in a line of work where they meet famous people; if they are I would just dive in with that one. You could always rephrase it for context as well: “Hey hairdresser, if you could cut any famous person’s hair, whose would it be?”

      5. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I feel the same way about some of these questions and I’m “good” at small talk. I think the questions “where did you grow up?” followed by “what was that like?” is a great structure because the first question is pretty common and can start a conversation without feeling too random, but the second one opens up an opportunity to get more personal. Like “what was your favorite vacation?” then ask why they liked it so much or if they went on similar vacations when they were kids (I get milage out of comparing my childhood to my kid’s and asking people about that). I personally just might change the second question to “how different was it from living here?” or similar, because I’m a white lady living around many immigrant communities and saying, “what was that like?” might come off as judging the country where they are from.

      6. QR Code*

        A conversation lull isn’t necessarily bad. But I do agree with you that asking questions like “What’s your favorite [whatever]?, etc.” out of the blue is cringe-y. I think the word “stranger,” which is in the original question, got lost on some folks. I think we just go with the natural flow, however way it presents itself, and if it doesn’t, that’s fine, too.

    15. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      The “We’re Not Really Strangers” site has some really neat card decks on this!

  5. New Mom*

    For people that have a morning routine that makes you feel great and ready for the day, what do you do?

    I don’t do this every morning, but on the mornings that I do, I feel so much better going into the day:

    Get up before the kids.
    Turn on the kettle.
    Do 20 minutes on my exercise bike.
    300 arm lifts with my small weights.
    Make myself a large cup of coffee.
    Enjoy said coffee while either writing, emailing, or reading something I enjoy until the kids wake up.

    If I could do this every morning, I think I’d be so much less frazzled throughout the day. I enjoy the darkish, calm house in the mornings.

    Tell me yours!

      1. Pharmgirl*

        I do too actually! I find it easiest to workout first thing on an empty stomach, then can enjoy coffee and breakfast.

        1. New Mom*

          Yeah the coffee sloshing around my belly would be an exercise deterrent for me, and I already have so many deterrents.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I usually wake up around 3:30 AM, surf my phone for an hour, get out of bed, go to the front room and turn on the TV. Mute the volume, turn on the close caption and get a bowl of cereal and eat the cereal while watching the news. Turn off the TV and surf my phone for another 2 hours, fall asleep on the couch for around 2 hours, make coffee for me and my wife when she makes up about 8 AM. Same thing every day.

    2. Weekend Warrior*

      On my best days:
      *get up 30-60 min before others
      *read 10-15 minutes first thing
      *brew pot of tea
      *look at and fill in day planner weekly view (paper)
      *note a Pleasure from the past day in the monthly view (paper)
      *write morning pages or do physio exercises/yoga with Adrienne
      * drink several cups of tea :)
      * read while having have breakfast
      * shower
      *etc!

      On less good days:
      *get up just before others
      *scroll on phone first thing
      *brew pot of tea and drink copious amounts
      *eat breakfast while scrolling on computer
      *shower
      *etc!

      Sometimes I just need and really enjoy a scrolling low energy morning but I aim to make most mornings like the “best” ones. :)

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      We have our routine forced on us by Peanut the cat, who will not tolerate having breakfast after 6 am. We work in afternoon/evenings, so mornings are spent on exercise and chores, usually.

      My usual routine is get up by 8 am, eat breakfast, make bed, dust-bust up cat litter, ride exercise bike for an hour, then take on any chores like food shopping and laundry. On Tuesdays I do a shorter ride and clean house. I just started integrating calisthenics into this, too.

      But everything revolves around Peanut’s feeding times: he has his breakfast, then his snack with his meds crushed into it, tooth kibbles for lunch, then dinner, then evening snack with rest of meds. Our lives revolve around this furry beast!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I wish I could figure out how to exercise in the mornings without riling my dogs up.

      Actual routine: wake up (usually around 5 but if not I have a 5:45 alarm on weekdays). While still in bed- review Facebook memories, check email and calendar, do daily Sudoku, solitaire and puzzle game challenges, do a Duolingo lesson after 6 to get the early bird bonus, and then read until (6:30 alarm on weekdays or pups want up, usually 7-7:30, on weekends). Get up, dressed and coiffed (snort- hair in bun), turn off the house alarm and take the dogs downstairs for outs. (Work or read) in the dark by screen light until 8am, feed breakfast to dogs, go on a walk around the block with them. Then the day is proper started.

      I’d love to fit in a half hour on the treadmill or bike between doggy outs and breakfast but logistics are fiddly.

    5. Keeks*

      Our grumpy senior cat turns into a cuddlebug in the mornings, so I spend about 20 minutes every morning petting him while he purrs, in front of my SAD lamp. It’s the first year where I’ve used the SAD lamp consistently as directed, and I started in September to try to get ahead of things – but it’s also the first year we have a cat! So jury’s out on whether the lamp or the cat or the lamp-cat combination is at work here ;)

      1. Nespresso addict*

        Do you think the SAD lamp is working? If you would recommend it can you share the brand/model?

    6. PhyllisB*

      You are smart getting up ahead of the kids. When mine were growing up I would always sleep until the last minute and then it was frantic trying to get everyone ready and out the door on time. My poor kids. By the time I was raising grandchildren I had learned to get up 30 minutes to an hour earlier and enjoy my coffee in peace and perhaps read a few minutes and then get their breakfast started. (I’m ashamed to say there were days I sent my kids out the door with no breakfast because I couldn’t get my act together.)
      When I learned to take time for myself in the morning I it made such a difference!! I could wake them calmly and not have to rush them. It sets a much calmer tone to the day.

    7. eeeek*

      It took me so long to realize that I actually take comfort in a routine – that the buzz I’d bring to work from a fractured/frazzled wake up wasn’t “energizing” but “anxiety”.

      My good day starts the night before – sort the morrow’s clothes or at least confirm that major components aren’t lacking (best not to discover a stain/tear/empty undie bin in the a.m.), settle into bed with restful music and a short read. I have been working on my “sleep hygiene” and it has made a huge difference in my life.
      Wake at 5:45; check the weather and gear up to walk the dog for ~30 minutes or so. We often watch the sunrise together.
      Feed, medicate dog upon return.
      Head down to the basement for a conditioning session on the treadmill to help get back to running.
      30-45 minutes of yoga/stretching/balancing.
      Coffee and egg, assemble a lunch.
      15 minutes of puzzles and advice columns while petting the dog and reassuring her that I am not actually abandoning her and I will come back and she needs to take care of her human dad.
      Look ahead again at my schedule to decide where to spend my energy, where I need to be mindful of pitfalls, opportunities to elevate others.
      Shower and dress while thinking about the schedule, practice scripts and if/thens to settle the schedule in my mind.
      Kiss the spouse, pet the dog, remind the cat that I love him too and I’m sorry about the dog, and go.

      All of this would be way more hectic if I had kids, or if my spouse were more demanding of me.

    8. Girasol*

      What a fun idea for a thread! For me:

      Start coffee.
      Duolingo language lessons.
      Daily stretches and medicine ball exercises (10-15 minutes).
      Bathe and dress.
      Take a hot milk drink out to the garden bench for morning meditation.
      Drink coffee and read the paper.

    9. BreakingDishes*

      Over 10 years ago I bought a SAD light (bright light to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder). I was to spend about 20 minutes close to the light in the morning. I found that spending this quiet time in the morning was wonderful. I’d always spent that morning time rushing around to get ready to leave for work.

    10. londonedit*

      One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to get up at the same time every day (weekends I get up an hour later) and I chose 6am because if I do that, I have time to get ready for work and leave at the appropriate time on my in-office day, and on the other days I have time to go to the gym, go for a walk with a friend, or go for a run before I get ready to start work at home. I find that I feel so much better if I get up at the same time every morning regardless of what I’m doing, and getting some exercise in really sets me up for the day. I always think I want a lie-in, but if I do indulge I end up feeling sluggish all day!

    11. Cendol*

      My morning routine’s a mess, but I enjoyed reading everyone’s answers. Thanks for asking such a great question!

      My ideal would be: wake up, feed the cats, go for a 3 mile run, shower, brew a pot of coffee, have breakfast, log into work. I did something mysterious and bad to my leg so there’s not a lot of jogging happening here at the moment…

      1. QR Code*

        Yes, that sounds like my ideal, too, but I am sorry about your leg. I hope it gets better and that you’re able to jog again soon.

        My reality: sleep as late as I can get away with, feed my kitties, shower quickly, remember I forgot to make lunch and will have to buy an over-priced sandwich instead, curse myself for not finally settling on a permanent place for my keys and glasses, find them, and head to work.

        Someday. Someday…

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      This is such a great question to ponder on a Sunday evening.
      Not really a routine, but the things that I try to do in the morning to make my day better (in no particular order):
      – journal
      – plan the day, including figure out when I can go running
      -read
      – pack a good lunch that I will look forward to eating. (And a dinner too for the days that I work late)
      -make my bed
      -don’t yell at my kids
      – ten minutes of yoga or a strength workout when the littlest one gets picked up for daycare and before the school bus run.
      -hugs and kisses as I say good bye to my Husband and kids.

    13. allathian*

      Unless my husband has an extra-early morning start, I’m the one who gets up first. I have a sunrise alarm (I’m such a poor sleeper that my husband and I sleep in separate rooms) and usually get up at least 15 minutes before it rings. I start my day by stretching in bed before I get up at about 5.45. Then I do my morning ablutions and get dressed, and start the coffee brewing. Unless he gets up on his own, I drag our teenager out of bed at about 6.15. He’s a very slow eater, and prefers a calm start to the day just like I do, even if it means getting up rather early. My husband gets up when the coffee’s ready and we breakfast together. I usually read a book or a magazine while I eat. If I WFH, I usually start work at 7 by reading my email while prompting the kid to get dressed and brush his teeth. Our son leaves the house to go to the bus stop at 7.15 and gets himself to school while I drink my second cup of coffee at my desk. If I go to the office, I leave at the same time as our son and take another bus to the commuter train station, and then I’m at the office by 8.

      I don’t exercise in the morning unless you count the stretches I do in bed before I get up. On the days I WFH I go for a 30-minute walk during my lunch hour, it’s done wonders for my SAD to get at least some daylight in the middle of winter. I exercise after work on the stationary bike and weights on the days that I shower, usually every other day.

  6. Single Noun*

    Posted this a few weeks back, but it was on Sunday afternoon so I don’t know how many people saw it (although some did! thanks to Invisible Fish for the rec of Hood by Emma Donoghue). Finally remembered to check AAM on Friday evening and figured I’d repost in case anyone else has an idea:

    I’m trying to track down a book recommendation that I think I saw mentioned here, but I haven’t had luck checking Alison’s roundup posts so it might have been in one of the ‘what are you reading’ weekend threads? The summary was something like “a lesbian deals with complicated feelings grieving her partner, who was outgoing and naturally non-monogamous, both of which [pov character] was very much not”, but I can’t for the life of me remember the names of either character, the title, or the author. Ring any bells for anyone?

    1. JustAnotherFriday*

      Sorry I can’t help, but I’m curious if ChatGPT could help answer the question

      1. RagingADHD*

        ChatGPT is just as likely to write a completely plausible description of a book that never existed, thereby creating an even more maddening hunt for the nonexistent book.

        1. JustForThis*

          I just tried Bing with AI instead of ChatGPT because Bing searches the internet. It generated an answer which offered three possible titles (though at least one did not sound like a novel) — and just as it had finished writing out the answer, the answer vanished and was replaced by “Hmm…let’s try a different topic. Sorry about that. What else is on your mind?”. Microsoft is obviously extremely wary about unleashing its Chatbot after the big splash some strange conversations made. (I wonder whether it was “grief” that triggered the response.)

        2. Single Noun*

          Lol yeah, this isn’t really a use case for “confident, plausible, and wrong”, I have enough books that should exist but don’t in my own head already. :)

        3. ShinyPenny*

          Most of what I know about ChatGPT I have learned from the AAM comments, and I am so very grateful. It sounded horrifying enough I couldn’t make myself research it, and here you are making me laugh. Just one more dumpsterfire, NBD!

      2. NeonFireworks*

        I’m part of a group on LibraryThing called Name That Book! (there are similar ones on Goodreads) and someone showed up this week and used ChatGPT to try to answer three or four queries. One of the guesses it came up with was a (real) book that was an OK guess (a bit of a stretch but not unreasonable), and that was what led the poster to find the book they’d been seeking!

    2. Forensic13*

      It’s not The Very Nice Box, is it? That’s fairly close to one of the major plot lines if that book.

    3. Dicey Tillerman*

      I remember your post! I took a screenshot of it, because your description of the book sounded so good. Please share if you find it!

    4. quicksilver*

      Any chance it could be Little Blue Encylopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante? It’s about the unnamed POV character, a queer trans woman, grieving her close friend and unrequited love Vivian, a straight trans woman who was much more outgoing than the narrator in various ways.

      Some of the details are slightly different from what you describe (e.g. they were never partners) but it’s definitely a “complicated feelings” book (and a very good one imo).

    5. Rudebeckia*

      Maybe Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield? Sounds similar and I read a lot of positive reviews!

  7. Skates*

    I am traveling a lot this summer and would love all your recs! I’m a pretty experienced traveler and I love art, music, food, booze, the whole travel shebang. Looking especially for recs for:
    1. Barcelona, Zaragoza and Madrid
    2. London
    3. Birmingham vs Oxford: what’s the best day trip
    4. Best place(s) to go by train for 3-4 nights as a solo traveler when I need to ultimately fly out of Heathrow.

    Thanks all!!

    1. DannyG*

      Newcastle is a couple of hours by train I left from King’s Cross station. You can switch over to the light rail from the station. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum is the eastern terminus for Hadrian’s Wall. Well worth it. Tynemouth Castle and Priory, again, served by the local light rail, about 8 miles east of Newcastle proper, is also interesting. Longsands Fish Kitchen In Tynemouth is a great place for lunch.

    2. tea shop*

      Loved Barcelona! Don’t miss all the Gaudi things. I’d recommend the public market. Great cheeses, olives, fruits etc there.

      Day trip from London: definitely Oxford. The botanical garden is well worth it. If this means anything at all to you: find the math building. The courtyard in front is decorated in a Penrose tile.

      1. Not Australian*

        Seconding, thirding and fourthing Oxford: it’s walkable, whereas Birmingham is … messy. There are loads of walking tours, many of them Morse/Lewis/Endeavour based if that’s your cuppa, but also more generalised colleges/architecture tours. If you have time for a museum, the Ashmolean and/or the Pitt-Rivers will blow your mind. Also, plenty of wonderful places to eat. Oh, and I agree with ‘tea shop’ about the botanical garden but maybe grab a taxi to get there.

        1. UKDancer*

          Oxford is definitely more compact and walkable and works best as a day trip. I go to Birmingham quite often for work and sometimes for social activities and it’s fun but it’s a lot more spread out.

    3. Taking the long way round*

      Barcelona- Las Ramblas and the Barri Gòtic (if you’re going to the Market then you can do all in 1 day). Yes to all of the Gaudi stuff, and Parc Gűell in particular, too.
      One of my favourite places is Montserrat, with its statue of the Black Madonna. And you can get the tram up there.
      The Joan Miró museum is great too.

      If you are able to travel out for the day, I really recommend the following places – The Dalí museum in Figueres, Tossa de Mar, and Roses.

      Have fun!

      1. Retired Accountant*

        Agree with all this. Unfortunately, we didn’t get in to Parc Gúell because we didn’t realize it was something you should buy tickets for in advance. I can’t remember if it had sold out when we got there, or was just an hours long line, but it was wasted cab fare either way.

    4. KathyG*

      Paris is just 2-1/2 hours from London via Eurostar, out of St Pancras Station (right next to Kings Cross). 3-4 days is just enough to whet your appetite for the City of Lights. Pro tip: tickets for Paris museums usually are good for the whole day, and have in-and-out privileges. The Musée d’Orsay will blow your mind.

      If you want to stay in England, Norwich (rhymes with porridge) is 3-4 hours away by train, and is a lovely little city with lots to see & do.

      Going in the other direction, Gloucestershire & Worcestershire are also very pretty.

    5. sewsandreads*

      I loved York — completely accidental visit (I am geographically challenged and had it in my head something was there that was, in fact, only moments from London). But out of all the places I visited, it felt like home. So much history, which I love.

    6. Zebydeb*

      Madrid is a lovely city to explore. I went for the first time last year. Unfortunately I didn’t write up a lot of notes because I went down with Covid practically the minute I got home! Saw a great show at the Teatro Flamenco Madrid, loved the Prado obviously, and also really liked the Ermitage de San Antonio de Florida, which is a small church with an amazing painted ceiling by Goya. That was also good because walking there took us slightly off the beaten track. I’m feeling jealous now, would love to go back.

      There are some direct trains from London to Amsterdam, so that would be another art-filled city for you.

    7. InTheUK*

      Go to Oxford and visit at least a couple of colleges – I mean, people study and live in places like that? I was astonished. The Bodleian library is also good. Probably busy as a whole but definitely more of a tourist destination than Birmingham. As others said, you could do Paris in a few days if you want ‘more city’. York is really cute for a smaller destination (but 1/2 days are enough, you could add on some walking in the moors or on Robin Hood’s bay). Edinburgh is lovely but too far unless you want to splurge for a night train (or two). I am going down to London for a couple of days and we are doing the Kew gardens, the Mithreaum and prob the Soane’s museum (not the first visit to the city for us, so we are going for the smaller stuff, but hopefully we find time for a second visit to the British Museum as well).

    8. Texan In Exile*

      We were just in Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia, and Madrid. Here are some of our favorites.

      Barcelona
      * We had not one but two amazing lunches (menu del dia) at Jazz Si. The owner gets his fish and produce every morning from the mercado down the street – Mercado San Antonin (I would go there rather than the Boqueria, which was so crowded we could hardly move) – and cooks everything to order. It was delicious and not expensive. We meant to go back in the evening for the music but were too tired.
      * The Museu d’Història de Catalunya was excellent (eight euros). We spent hours there.
      * At the BORN, we took a guided tour (in English, four euros) of the ruins they discovered when they were getting ready to build a new library on the site of the old wholesale market. Alas, because they discovered ruins (from the War of the Spanish Succession, which I knew nothing about but our historian guide was an expert in), the library was not built, but now there are very cool ruins to explore.
      * We were able to get into Park Guell by showing up, but this was in February on a weekday.
      * The Picasso Museum has a free day (Thursday), but you have to reserve your tickets four days in advance. You cannot reserve them more than four days in advance.
      * I loved the Botero cat sculpture.
      * We did not pay to go inside the Gaudi places – cathedral, houses – because we are cheap and because I don’t care if I ever see another cathedral again, but we looked at the outsides. :)

      Madrid
      * The Reina Sofia has a free night (can’t remember when) and it’s worth it. We didn’t think we liked modern art until we went there.
      * The Casa Arabe is very cool.
      * Taberna Juan Blanco has a wonderful menu del dia and has fabulous rabo de toro in the evening.
      * There’s a railway museum, which is cool if you like trains. I don’t really but my husband does and he was very happy.
      * The neighborhood mercados are great. Mercado San Miguel is nice for fancy, but it’s crowded and expensive.

    9. Bluebell*

      Barcelona is such a lovely city. I visited all of the Gaudi sites, and took my time walking down Las Ramblas. Also made sure to go to a cava bar, and I still remember snacking on a bowl of very tiny crispy fried fish. In Madrid, I spent a lot of time in the big three museums.

    10. GoryDetails*

      If you’re a meat-atarian, maybe check out Fergus Henderson’s St. John restaurant. I had a lovely meal there – the roasted marrow with parsley was simple but delicious…

    11. Lead Balloon*

      Definitely Oxford over Birmingham. I am biased (I was at university there) but there is a lot of choice for good and bad weather – multiple free museums so you can go in for a short wander or a long visit, colleges you can look round, walking by the river, the botanic gardens. There will be a lot of other tourists there whereas Birmingham will be full of folks just going about their business with fewer tourists.

      3-4 day visit – you say you like art, you could look at visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle. Stay in Leeds for the best choice of hotels and restaurants (you could stay in Wakefield but there’s less choice).
      Or visit Newcastle, Durham and Hexham (for Hadrian’s wall).
      Or go to Cornwall for art galleries in St Ives and the coast (get the Night Riviera sleeper for maximum time there as it’s a long train journey – but worth doing one way in the daytime as there’s some lovely views).
      Or go to Dorset, I like staying in Dorchester which has several interesting museums, and visit the Jurassic coast, Chesil Beach, and see some traditional British seaside and eat fish and chips by the sea at Weymouth. All accessible by train.

    12. Mephyle*

      Zaragoza: an underrated but excellent place to visit.

      – el Tubo: a labyrinth of tiny streets in the oldest part of the city, crammed full of bars serving traditional tapas and unique house tapas
      – juetapas – a promotion on Thursday nights, where many bars offer a tapa and a drink for 2 euros – my experience is pre-pandemic, so I hope they still do this
      – the origami museum EMOZ
      – some special restaurants: El Fuelle for traditional Aragonese ambiance expressed in an amazing decor; Baobab – gourmet vegetarian food that may please even meat eaters; La Rinconada de Lorenzo – great dining on traditional Aragonese dishes, with good wines & desserts too

      – Tripadvisor’s top three for Zaragoza are the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar, Palacio de Alfajería, and La Seo de Salvador (and the tapestry museum within). I’d agree that those are unmissable, but would also add the Rosario de Cristal. For further art options, I’ve been to the CaixaForum a few times (the exhibits are all temporary) and never been disappointed. There’s a Goya museum, which is one of the major repositories of his work.

      For Roman history: the Zaragoza Museum (free!) and the Roman tour – five or six archeological sites in the city centre – you can get entry tickets for any of them separately or buy a ticket that gets you into all of them on the same day. If you don’t have time for that, you can at least walk past the amphitheater and look at it from the street. It’s quite impressive to know that it was forgotten and completely unknown until its rediscovery in the 1970s.

      There’s more, but I’ve just highlighted some of my favourites here. Also mustn’t omit a look at the Mudejar architecture in the old city centre.

      1. Mephyle*

        I forgot to add: one of the nice things about visiting Zaragoza is that it’s a smaller city, at least the historic center is small, so almost all the points of interest are within walking distance of each other.

    13. HCTZ*

      London – visit Regents Park and just…take a nap
      on the grass lol. It’s literally one of my favorite places in the world. The English KNOW how to do parks and gardens. Beautifully manicured.

    14. Despachito*

      Madrid – Prado is an awesome experience, and has free access every Mon-Sat from 6 to 8 pm. There is always a long queue but it proceeds pretty quickly, and you would have approx. 1.5 hour to look at the paintings. As this is about our limit to stay fully concentrated on whatever art, we found it much more enjoyable to come several times with a fresh mind than spend a whole day in the museum.

      El Escorial – the burying place of most Spanish kings and queens – is also worth seeing – it is about an hour long train ride away which is easily doable in a day.

      As to the food, I’d recommend the typical Madrid food “callos” (tripe) and “cocido madrileno” (chickpeas with vegetables and several kinds of meat and sausage), the dried ham (has several quality levels, the best being “jamón de bellota” of acorn-fed pigs).

      Enjoy your trip!

    15. Been There*

      I loved the small anthropological museum next to the Prado. It gave more context around the art displayed in the big museum.

    16. Dear liza dear liza*

      What a trip! Get tickets in advance for Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The outside is amazing, but the audio guide for inside is worth it. When we were there, sooo many tourists were turned away because they didn’t have reservations. The podcast 99% Invisible has a really good episode on it, too. Gives you the less glamorous take!

    17. Grandma Mazur*

      I’d choose Oxford over Birmingham for the reasons people have already mentioned.

      For a 3-4 day trip from London, I’d put in a recommendation for Bristol or Bath (you can do both cities from either as a base).

  8. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I had some lovely friends over for some lovely Thai food from a local place. Always a joy.

    Please share your joys big and small.

    1. AGD*

      I went out for a nice dinner with friends, and also cooked a few really good dinners. And I love how much longer the days are getting up here way above the equator, and I got a pretty song stuck in my mind, and my sewing project is coming along well. Oh, plus I had to go out for an hour and a half in the beginning of a snowstorm to run errands, but then got home with most of the day still ahead and enjoyed peeling off wet clothes, getting cozy, and watching the rest of the storm from a comfy place indoors.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes. We still have a lot of snow, with more to come. But spring is clearly on the way. We have sunny days now, and I love the fact that it’s almost full daylight when our son leaves the house for school at 7.15. I went for a walk on Sunday afternoon, and the sun actually felt warm on my face. Sunscreen and sunglasses are definitely necessary. Lovely!

        I love it that my 13 year old son still wants to do jigsaw puzzles with me.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Woke up at 3:30 AM like I normally do, spent an hour of surfing my phone and I was able to fall back asleep until 7 AM. Yeah me.

    3. Rara Avis*

      The last school event before the Covid shutdown in March 2020 was the dance show. It’s dance show weekend again, and the teacher dance is back in the show for the first time since 2020. I am very much not a dancer, but the dance teacher is all about getting everyone to participate. 3 shows down, one to go. It’s so much fun to be backstage with the kids and it seems like they appreciate our efforts.

    4. sewsandreads*

      My bookshelves are in, I’ve set up a little lamp, and even with the living room looking like an absolute shambles, it feels so cosy. As we’re getting into shorter days and longer nights in this part of the world, I’m aching for cosy and this hits the spot.

    5. Cookies for Breakfast*

      For the first time since living in a big house, I’ve been able to have a restful night’s sleep while my partner was away. I always wake up around 1-1.5 hours before my brain is ready to function, and got used to that over the years, but when I’m home alone, it gets a lot worse (lots of waking up at 2, 3, 4am and not being able to fall back asleep for the life of me). I’m usually a zombie by the time I need to actually get out of bed and start working, but the other day, I woke up feeling relaxed and refreshed. Here’s to hoping next time will be just as smooth.

      1. Rock 'em sock 'em managers*

        A good night’s sleep is a wonderful thing. I’m glad you had a restful evening.

    6. fposte*

      Went for a long walk in a state park near me and heard some really cool birds (thank you, Merlin app, for IDing them).

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Popped into the library in the next town up, found an interesting cookbook on the display (Half-Baked Harvest) and so far what I’ve made from it has been really good.

    8. Cat and dog fosterer*

      After years of randomness I have finally organized all my animal foster stuff and it will all be clean and put away later this afternoon. It has mostly been clean and sorted for the past few weeks and that made me feel really good, like a part of my life was more calm. This afternoon I will disinfect the last dog crate and do the last load of towels. Last month I sorted everything into bins and put those bins into my storage space, so my foster areas are much less cluttered and everything is easier to find. Kitten season starts in a few weeks and I feel calm and ready for it. This time last year I wasn’t doing well because rescues were struggling and it only got worse over the summer, so I forced myself to have a break this winter and it helped.

      Even smaller joy: I thought I’d run out of clean underwear and was going to have to wait until I’d done a load of laundry before doing my errands today. I’d known this since yesterday morning but couldn’t find the energy even though laundry is so easy. But I found a surprise clean pair today mixed in with dark shirts! And I started a load of laundry just now so I’ll have many more tomorrow morning.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband and I finally had a discussion about our incompatible sleeping styles and made a plan for us to have separate bedrooms the majority of the time (thanks Allathian :) ). The overall changes are still processing, mostly on his end – I’m keeping “our” room and he will be setting up “his” room so he’s still planning and acquiring the accoutrements. But in the interim he’s been sleeping on the couch in his home office and even with him on a couch rather than a real bed, we’ve both been sleeping SO MUCH BETTER and it’s amazing.

      1. allathian*

        Aww, thanks for the callout! I hope that sleeping in separate bedrooms will work as well for you in the long term as it has for us (almost 14 years now). I’m convinced that sleeping better has improved my mental health and that without it our marriage might’ve been in jeopardy. I’m certain that sleeping better has also made me a better parent that I otherwise would’ve been.

    10. Tricks Belden was my hero*

      My father suddenly regained sight in his eye that the optometrist said might never come back after long shot treatments. Its not perfect but so much better.

      1. Single Noun*

        Figured out how to organize my room so the craft stuff is in the closet and I have more floor space, and also the mask box is by the door without my constantly knocking it off the slippery table. Amazing how satisfied that extra 2 feet makes me.

    11. A Girl Named Fred*

      We’ve had a bit of a rough week, so thank you for the reminder to seek out some joys while I’m at it! We finally organized that one “catch-all” corner of our bedroom and cleared out a bunch of clutter, and this morning I found a can of cinnamon rolls in our fridge so we’re about to enjoy some surprise Saturday morning cinnamon rolls, which is just the boost I needed. :)

    12. RecentlyRetired*

      The weather was warm enough to drive my Polaris Slingshot! It’s amazing how different the city looks from that low to the ground, in a vehicle that has no side doors/windows.

    13. Girasol*

      Sad and joyful too. My husband died this week. As I was calling friends to let them know, I learned that the wife of one of his buddies was visiting back in her home in Thailand this week. She spent a day in a Buddhist monastery praying for my husband who is also Buddhist. It came as a complete surprise and it was so very kind.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Sympathies and condolences. I hope you have good people around you for when you need support.

    14. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Went to a bookstore to look for a specific magazine (which they had) and found two other books I was going to look for elsewhere – and I got them at a discount.

    15. OtterB*

      I took my daughter (adult with intellectual disabilities) to the emergency room Sunday and she ended up having her gall bladder out Tuesday. She clearly felt SO much better afterwards. Diagnostic technology was awesome, medical staff was excellent, daughter is covered by Medicare, hospital was recently renovated and extremely comfortable.

    16. Voluptuousfire*

      I’ve started to become reacquainted with one of the bands I love. I got bored with them since their last two albums had more songs with vocals (which I’m. It a fan of with them) but have gone down a few YouTube rabbit holes with them and I’m rediscovering them for the first time in awhile.

      Also going to my first concert in awhile tonight, which I’m happy about.

    17. carcinization*

      Got reservations at a new (non-fancy, just small) restaurant in town so that we could eat there without a wait on Friday night, food and wine were pretty good, but we were happy that we ran into a couple of friends there — we’d been feeling down because they’ve been too busy to meet up since before Christmas (they were going out to eat with his parents while they were in town, so this was also an example of them being busy), but they were enthusiastically wanting to make plans for the week after next, so at least we know we’re still friends!

    18. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I got another tattoo. Number seven within a span of a year. I love it and am happy with it. I may be slightly addicted to tattoos. :)

  9. HannahS*

    What’s the best “dupe” product you’ve found?

    My recent one is Vichy sunscreen for Shiseido. I go very cheap on personal care products (and have decent budget recs for sensitive, rosacea-prone skin if anyone wants), except for facial sunscreen, because I wear it daily and HATE the greasy feeling. I usually use Shiseido Urban Protect (48 CAD for 30 ml; about 35 usd for an ounce,) and remembered that Vichy makes a very similar product. It was a larger bottle for 20$ less! Yay!

    1. Salted caramel*

      Can you tell us which Vichy sunscreen it is? I’ve always heard good things about Shiseido sunscreens, but they’re so expensive…

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        I would also love to know which Vichy one it is! Every year I try to find a sunscreen that doesn’t trigger sensory repulsion and every year I fail and toss the dice on sun exposure…

      1. HannahS*

        Ok so this is very much not medical advice, but here are the inexpensive drugstore products that have worked well for me:

        Cleansers: CeraVe bar soap, Spectrojel liquid cleanser.

        Moisturizers: Neutrogena Moisture Oil-free for sensitive skin. Yonks ago I did well with Simple brand moisturizer but Target left Canada so I haven’t used it in a long time.

        Sunscreen: Have not found a cheap one that doesn’t irritate my skin or feel greasy. I’ve liked the Vichy Capital Soleil and Shiseido Urban Protect. I use a cheaper neutrogena sunscreen below the neck.

        Makeup: I don’t wear any, and I’ve found that every time I do it makes my skin worse.

        Other: By prescription, but I personally had good results with Rosiver, an ivermectin cream. Talk to your own derm, obviously. Also, large hats. Sunscreen every day, all year.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      Seconding that I’d love to hear recs! I’m currently using the La Roche Posay sunscreen and while it’s pretty good, I completely agree with you that I hate how greasy I feel afterward so I kind of want to try something else. Shiseido has been on my list for a while, but interested to hear others! (I have combination skin that’s acne prone and sensitive, so not exactly your type but close)

      1. MissCoco*

        I am very into the Supergoop unseen sunscreen these days
        I’ve gotten super reactive to sunscreens in the past few years, and right now this is my safe one. It has a slightly greasy texture, but it rubs into a very matte texture and doesn’t get greasy over the day for me

    3. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Recs please for rosacea skin.
      I keep seeing the Inky List one in ‘articles/ads’ but not sure its worth it.

    4. Generic Name*

      Ha! I used the Shiseido sunscreen you mention, and I found a drugstore dupe that was pretty much the same, but way way cheaper. It was a Neutrogena product. I don’t think they make it anymore, because I can’t find it. It’s okay because I found another Neutrogena product that I like even better. It’s Face Serum, and it comes in a small peach/yellow/orange box. I like it because it doesn’t have the dry oil/silicone texture the Shiseido/other Neutrogena sunscreen had.

    5. Sunflower*

      Monistat Chafing gel as a dupe for Smashbox primer. Apparently the ingredients are exactly the same. The LIDL version of Aveeno Daily Moisturizer lotion is also very good.

    6. RLC*

      NutriBiotic Original non soap skin cleanser dupe for Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser. Non-irritating to my dermatitis-prone face, available direct from manufacturer or from some shops specializing in natural foods and products.

  10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Tulip question! My husband remembered this Valentine’s Day that I prefer potted plants to cut flowers, and he got me a small tub of potted tulips. The flowers that were on them at the time have dried up and fallen away, so now they’re just stalks (a mix of green ones and dried-out dead ones). Do tulips bloom multiple times in a season, or are they one-and-done? Do I need to trim them back to encourage continued blooming? If I transplant them outdoors (either in the ground or in a planter) will they perhaps come back in future years?

    1. RagingADHD*

      They are done for the year. Many but not all tulips will come back next year with proper care. You should look up a guide for your location or climate zone, because the right care and timing depend on your conditions.

    2. Reba*

      They are one and done! Some tulip varieties will perennialize but a lot of commercial varieties are basically annuals — they won’t bloom again. In general, you can let the foliage keep doing its thing and storing energy in the bulb for a while, before either transplanting them to the flowerbed or letting them go dormant a while before replanting in October. I would search for perennializing or naturalizing tulips for tips on where and how to plant for the best chance of success. I love these silly flowers and wish you good luck with them.

    3. Old Plant Woman*

      They will most likely bloom next spring, later than this year because they’ve been on a warm green house. Cut the flower stems off so they don’t go to seed and weaken the bulbs. Leave the leaves! After it warms up, plant them out in soft soil with really good drainage, a bit of bone meal or all purpose fertilizer. If it gets well below freezing, mulch them in winter. Google tulip care. I don’t remember what temp bulbs freeze out or if they are poisonous to our favorite critters. Best of luck. And to your good guy who listens to you.

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        Forgot to say, plant them in the sun. And this summer keep them slightly most but not wet. Tulips are prone to fungus and disease and don’t multiply readily like daffodils. You might buy a few more bulbs this fall to keep them company. I like tulips if you hadn’t noticed

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          No deer, we’re pretty deep in suburbia, but I have petulant chipmunks who want to dig up everything whether they eat it or not :-P so most of my bulbs go into planters!

        2. The New Wanderer*

          Apparently bunnies love tulips too. I’ve been waiting for my bulbs (just planted last fall) to come up and saw that the shoots are being nibbled to the ground. It’s possible that there are deer venturing into our neighborhood, but far more likely to be the bunnies – or squirrels?

          1. eeeek*

            The rabbits in my yard wait until ***juuuuuuuuust*** the moment before the buds open, then carefully snip the stalk just below the bud, leaving the unbloomed flower on the ground below to mock my hopes and dreams of having a colorful tulip garden.
            Sigh.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I bought myself a packet of like 50 daff bulbs last fall and planted them in November, some in the ground and some in tubs in my garage – most of those have already sprouted greens at least, though no flowers yet!

        1. Magda*

          If you have other daffodils up and not these – I often find that my first year’s flowering is a bit oddly timed or not robust, and then the plant synchs up correctly for the following year and does better. I assume because they were grown in a greenhouse originally.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I was chalking it up to that we’re still getting sporadic cold snaps – the ones in planters haven’t even come out of the garage yet, because it’s supposed to snow tomorrow :-P

    4. Squidhead*

      I have planted them outside in the fall and they have come up and bloomed the following spring. Once the greenery died back, I watered (dampened) them only rarely and put the bulbs in the ground. Where we live, deer eat anything they can find and they love tulips…they’ll eat the blooms and the greens right down to the ground, so I can’t speak to how many years those bulbs might have kept going or if they would have eventually made more bulbs :( But it’s pretty low-effort to try it if you have a spot for them (including a planter).

        1. allathian*

          Our house’s in a suburban subdivision that’s surrounded by 6-lane highways on three sides, so no deer. But lots of people in slightly more rural areas plant daffodils and tulips in the same bed because it improves their survival rate.

      1. Em*

        My mum lives next to a provincial park crawling with deer (as in, they really need to be culled because they have no predators in the park like they should, but every time it’s brought up there’s a big “oh no, the cute deer” outcry — meanwhile, they’re starving, keep getting into fights, and generally being unhealthy) and successfully grows tulips and all sorts of other things while her neighbours’ gardens are heavily-chewed. She swears by bloodmeal. It fertilizes the plants AND smells dangerous enough for the deer to stay away.

        It’s exactly what it sounds like, so I imagine it wouldn’t be an option for people with ethical or other restrictions on animal products, but if you are okay with sprinking cattle blood on the ground, it works great.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I’ve planted a pot-of-bulbs a few times; as others have mentioned, let the leaves grow, and then when the weather’s warm enough, plant the bulbs somewhere suitable. They won’t rebloom this season but if they winter over successfully you could get blooms next spring. (I tend to forget that I’ve done this, as the foliage dies back by mid-summer, so when I first noticed a cluster of blooms the following spring I was surprised and delighted.)

    6. WestsideStory*

      Potted tulips are generally forced, so consider them one snd done. You can replant them outside but don’t expect anything but a few thin leaves.

      A few forced and potted items will make it back the next blooming season. Smaller daffodil take some years; Easter lilies take about 2-3 years but if you’ve got the space it is worthwhile; I have a friend whose rear garden is quite full each July from the potted Easter lily leftovers we toss out of the church. Cyclamen also come back if you are in the proper zone.

  11. Count von T-shirt*

    I’m moving next week. It’s a short haul – barely across town, 2 bedroom apt. Any ideas how much to tip the movers? Everything is already packed, anything that needs disassembling has been disassembled. (Sleeping on the floor for a few days…. Forgotten how far down that actually is) This is a small, professional company that specializes in small moves.
    Suggestions appreciated!

    1. DannyG*

      Similar situation: 2 man crew $20 each plus I had doughnuts & coffee when they arrived plus I got lunch for them too.

      1. Count von T-shirt*

        Very helpful, thank you. I’ve got a three man crew (heavy oak furniture), and have snacks ready. I was thinking $30 each, but wasn’t sure if that was enough. Sounds like I’m good. Thanks!

        1. QR Code*

          I recently moved across town and tipped two workers $40 each for about 90 minutes of work. I didn’t offer food, but did leave a great review online because then both workers each got a $25 bonus.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      OMG. I am totally, completely, and utterly impressed. You’re not moving until next week and you’re *already packed!* (I’m the queen of last-minute arrangements. Actually trying to be the abdicating queen but that’s another story.)
      You totally deserve a standing ovation!!
      May your entire move be free of glitches, hiccups and any other unexpected challenges. And may any active evil spirits in the universe not read this comment.

      1. Count von T-shirt*

        It was supposed to happen this weekend but there was a COVID outbreak at my office. I didn’t want to spread it so we delayed a week. Which is fine because it’s snowing to beat the band right now. Sigh. Canada …

    3. Filosofickle*

      I moved last year and think I tipped 40 each plus pizza for lunch — it was a bigger job, close to 7 hours, and they took extra care with fiddly pieces. In the past I’ve done more like 20-30 each.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        You can order the pizza ahead of time, if you want, and time it for whenever you think everyone wants lunch (and be sure to ask for plates, napkins, and forks; yours will be in boxes!)

    4. Anono-me*

      We have lots of professional mover friends.

      A normal tip is $20 per mover for a normal 1/2 day move , more if it is a complicated move. (Lots of stairs or books or canned goods or if they have to walk a long to the truck .)

      It is also nice if you can offer your bathroom if needed. Some companies have rules against asking to use customers’ bathrooms.

      1. nobadcats*

        I had lots of books and some furniture (big, wall-size bookshelf, bedframe) that they disassembled and reassembled, and three flights of stairs at the new place. I tipped all four of them $80, told them they could use the bathroom whenever they wanted (I always have two rolls of TP, other toiletries, and paper towels/towels, a few cleaning things in my personal box when I move–kitty stuff in another box), and had water and gatorade chilled and ready for them. I would have fed them, but they did take a two hour lunch between my old apt and my new one. I had snackies available though, fresh veggies, dip, and chips. And if I recall correctly my Dad had a cooler which had a full bag of ice in it, because he’s smart like that and knew it would take hours to get ice made in my new fridge, or my BIL brought a bag of ice with him.

        Always pays off to play fair and tip generously. I think this probably why my instacart shoppers are willing to schlepp up to the third floor with two or three bags. “She tips like 30%!”

    5. KatEnigma*

      $20/mover. Double it if you have 30+ boxes of books or if one or both ends are multi floor walk ups….

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Oh man, I’ve never gotten snacks for the movers! The one time I used movers we were under a super time crunch (couldn’t start moving out until noon, had to be at the new place an hour away before 4 so they could let the truck in) and we didn’t have time to futz around. Was that rude of me?

      1. Filosofickle*

        I don’t think it’s rude not to, but it’s nice when/if you can. My last move I did not have time to buy any drinks / snacks to have on hand but since it was a long move I ordered pizza for when we got to the new place.

      2. KatEnigma*

        We have moved a lot. A LOT a lot. Quick across town movers have always refused anything other than water. Long haul movers might accept snacks and sodas, but more often want to just break and go out for lunch/dinner when the company (us, through the company, in the end) is paying.

      3. nobadcats*

        I am beyond the age for asking my friends to help with moving for beer and pizza. So I usually have snackies available, not just for the movers, but for myself and the friends who are around. Like, my BIL brought over the four boxes I had sent to their house and put together some cat stuff, a broom, and my two push pedal wastebaskets for the bath and kitchen. Having water and gatorade or lemonade available, along with veggie snackies and dip is a very good hydrating option.

    7. Ally*

      Are you in the states? I would never think of tipping movers but I guess you guys have a different tipping culture!!

      1. Count von tshirt's phone*

        Canada – by proximity our tipping culture is similar.
        I’ve settled on $30 per person. No stairs but lots of books and art supplies to move, including a few sewing machines. Nothing to disassemble – that’s done. Snacks are bought, sodas chilling in the fridge.

        Thanks everyone for your help!

    8. Em*

      I tipped sixty each, but that was moving from a fourth-floor walkup to a third-floor walkup. Only a couple of big/heavy items (a couch and a solid oak bookcase) but SO MANY STAIRS. Also provided them with coffee and snacks.

  12. Sloanicota*

    A question. Someone on another blog was saying that, due to a change in medication, they are experiencing for the first time “not being constantly hungry.” This started a conversation about whether it’s normal, or common, to be usually hungry, with some people stating this was unusual and others saying it was totally normal biological necessity. I guess some people do feel quite hungry almost all the time (the OP stated that shortly after eating they were hungry again). My guess is that it varies pretty widely within the range of normal. For myself, I will only get actually notably *hungry* if a meal is late, although I can always snack out of boredom. What say you?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      Speaking only from my own experience, I’m hungry *regularly*. Every three hours roughly. I can make the difference when I eat because I’m bored or because I’m hungry. I would guess that if I didn’t eat enough, then I would be constantly hungry. But I usually until I feel full.

    2. MassChick*

      I feel hunger when a meal is more than an hour overdue or if I’ve had an intense workout (weightlifting). However, if I’m bored or feeling unproductive I think of food and what I could eat (which is not real hunger).

    3. AGD*

      I rarely get hungry. That happens only if I’ve missed a meal and it’s been many hours since – in which case I’ll probably feel intermittent hunger signals. Otherwise, unlikely.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I am by no means “usually hungry.” That sounds really uncomfortable. Like another poster, I get hungry regularly, about every 3-4 hours. If I honor my appetite and eat a small meal/large snack, I’m good for the next few hours. It does no good to front-load and eat more than I really want; I just feel overly-full for a while, and then hungry again on schedule anyway.

        1. Random Bystander*

          Yes, a long time ago, I tried that South Beach diet and I wouldn’t even get to the point of having taken care of the dishes yet after finishing the food and I was already hungry and thinking about the next time I could eat.

    5. Turtlewings*

      I am hungry all the flippin’ time. I wake up hungry, and will literally feel sick if I don’t get some food in me lickety-split. Two hours later (9 am) I’m hungry again. I take my lunch break at 11 because I’m always hungry again by then. Hungry by 2 pm, and if I don’t have a snack — preferably something with fat & protein — I will be literally lightheaded with hunger by 4. By the time I get home from work at 5:30, I’m on the verge of cannibalism. It slows down in the evening; if I have a biggish dinner, that might hold me all the way until bedtime at 11. Much later than that, and I’m trying to go to sleep with my stomach growling.

      As context: I am about a hundred pounds overweight, and my diet is very high-carb and low-vegetable, because I have yet to find a non-starchy vegetable that doesn’t taste like garbage (yes, even that one; yes, even prepared that way).

      1. Magda*

        I think this is something that people who don’t struggle with weight can’t really understand. Many people, as in the comments, are not very hungry most of the time, so it’s much less difficult to cut calories or skip a meal here and there. I’m guessing comes partly from training your body that hunger signals won’t be responded to (which definitely can happen) but mostly from metabolic differences. I have a friend who is more than 100 pounds overweight and she has said she basically has no sense of ‘satiation’ – even after finishing a big meal she always *could* eat more but she stops herself.

        1. Turtlewings*

          I’ve had a number of friends who will just forget to eat, and it boggles my mind. I could no more forget to eat than forget to breathe. I joke that I forget to *stop* eating. I do get a sense of satiation eventually if I pay attention, but honestly my mouth always wants more even if my stomach doesn’t, if that makes sense. (I’m slowly training myself to listen to my stomach, though, and not actually eat myself sick.)

          1. matcha123*

            I am one of those people who forgets to eat, but that happens when I’m doing something engaging. If I’m cleaning or running errands…basically moving my body, then I don’t think about food or eating.
            At work, when all I’m doing is sitting and concentrating AND I’m incredibly sleepy, I get hungry quickly.
            I basically didn’t eat vegetable after age 6 until I moved abroad and was basically forced into eating them for work. And I do have a lot I don’t like, but I am a lot better now than I was back then. There are lots that I power through, like tomatoes. I can eat them, but I don’t like the texture…but I also know that I should try to eat them for health reasons.

            So, I completely get avoiding certain foods for taste and texture reasons.

      2. sooooo hungry*

        This is me, to a T. (except I can and will eat veggies)
        It is awful.
        Mine is compounded by abuse in childhood where food was withheld as a form of manipulation and control. Even with years of therapy, I find it extremely distressing to try and let myself go hungry. I spiral to a very bad mental place very quickly.
        (Yes, I’m still in therapy and have done some work on this pattern. And maybe someday I’ll try again on this topic but in the meantime I’m working on other stuff.)

        1. Turtlewings*

          I do wonder how much of my food issues might be traced back to having massive childhood power battles with my dad over whether I was going to eat something I didn’t want to eat. It definitely has something to do with why I can’t make myself eat vegetables.

        2. eeeek*

          I am so sorry you experience this struggle, and I really admire you (and others) who are working to address it.
          It took me a long time to recognize that my family’s food drama was a form of forcing conformity to “really be” a member of the pack. As a child, I was doled out super-sized portions equivalent to those of my teen-aged, athletic brothers – the opposite of withholding, but still manipulation and control. “You will sit at the table until you finish the portion I gave you” is my messed up other side of your coin.

          May we both learn the balance. Best wishes to you on your journey.

    6. Blackcat*

      I’m rarely hungry. I often forget to eat but realize I’m cranky. So I get hangry without the obvious hunger. It’s not great…

      1. Magda*

        This is me TBH. I will claim I’m not hungry even if asked, but I’m not infrequently irritable and maybe have a headache, like every 3-4 hours or so. I am still learning to just eat small meals by the clock and not ask if I’m hungry.

    7. Firebird*

      It turns out that what I thought was hunger, was really pain. When I started taking Prilosec for my GERDs and an ulcer, I got hungry less often. I didn’t recognize the difference because it had been going on so long and I got used to it.
      The ulcer is gone and I can tell my GERDs is acting up when I start getting hungry more often, so I go back on the medication until things improve.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I get physically hungry on the regular, but definitely also eat for a multitude of non-tummy reasons.

    9. KathyG*

      One of my meds causes reflux that feels EXACTLY like gnawing hunger. All. The. Time. I take a break from it a couple times per year when the reflux starts to make it difficult to fall asleep. If it didn’t do such a good job of controlling my joint & body pain, I would just stop taking it.

    10. Chaordic One*

      I’m one of those people who usually doesn’t feel hungry. I’ve kind of gotten into a routine where I eat regularly, but it is a conscious decision and it doesn’t come naturally for me. It’s easy for me to skip a meal (or two) and I don’t feel hungry, although I might start to notice myself feeling a bit light-headed or head achey and then I think, oh yeah, I haven’t eaten anything all day and I probably should. So I do.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have found that I can go all day without eating and not notice any ill effects literally all day up to bedtime (not recommending, just an observation), but as soon as I have a meal in any given day, THEN I have to keep an eye on “if I eat too much of this and not enough that my blood sugar will crash.” So I usually try not to eat early in the day. (If I skip a whole day I will have a stomachache the *next* day so I don’t do that.)

        1. Sloanicota*

          I too have noticed that if I skip breakfast, I probably won’t even notice my hunger level until late afternoon if at all, but if I eat breakfast I will be reliably hungry by lunch and then again at dinner. I assume this is part of intermittent fasting works for people when they say they really aren’t hungry after a while.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m pretty much never hungry, I eat on a general schedule (fine) or when I get bored (trying to break the habit :-P ).

    12. Loopy*

      I find myself hungry probably every 3.5 hours, usually about an hour before the next meal. It’s pretty annoying because I’m caught between just waiting or trying to find the discipline for a healthy, small snack when I’m more interested in my next meal.

      I find my hunger is just slightly off my chosen meal times and it’s always an annoyance.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I have this same issue. I’m distractingly hungry by 10:30. If I try to push to lunch I get hangry and start making mistakes. If I eat too much, I’m not hungry again until 2, but if I eat lunch at 2 then I don’t eat enough dinner and I’m hungry again before bed. They sell little single serving packets of dried apricots, and it’s enough to get me to lunch without causing me to put off lunch. It’s more expensive and I dislike the extra plastic, but I don’t moderate well otherwise.

        1. WestsideStory*

          There is nothing fundamentally wrong with having 5-6 small meals a day rather than just 3 that leave you famished in between.

          The difference is what those meals entail; consider a small bit of protein and a small bit of carb for balance, plus a little fruit or vegetable for balance. Some options that work for work in the midday or late at night:
          – cheese sandwich on hearty bread
          – half cup cottage cheese with fruit
          – hard boiled eggs and roll or crackers
          – cup of yogurt (greek is high in protein)
          – baked potato heated up in the office microwave
          – hummus on pita
          – various protein shakes or smoothies

          The point is these are filling, not high in calories, fairly natural, and can be eaten quickly on a short break. I did this whenever I was full time in an office, as I knew I generally didn’t get home before 6 or 7 and would be too starved to cook a decent meal once I got home. It helped keep my energy up for sure.

          1. WestsideStory*

            One should note you have to make the time to have such meals prepped and ready, and that is not always easy on some schedules. But it’s way healthier than grabbing nuts or snacks or soda or yet another coffee.

          2. PostalMixup*

            I agree in principle. My body would prefer to eat at 7, 10:30, 2, and 6. But it doesn’t work in practice if I want to eat dinner with the rest of my family. So I tide myself over to have traditional meals at noon and 5. And then the 3yo can start getting ready for bed at 6:15 like his body clock demands.

    13. fposte*

      For me I would distinguish hunger and appetite. Hunger is what I feel toward noon if I haven’t eaten breakfast, and then sometimes when I have a Crohn’s flare I get weird bounceback hungers not long after eating and in the middle of the night. Appetite pangs are much more common and they are easily triggered by external stimuli; also, the sign of my gut generally being out of whack is wanting to shovel things in my mouth all the time. But that’s not the same sensation as hunger.

      1. HannahS*

        That’s a really interesting distinction! I do certainly resonate on the difference between “craving food” and “being hungry.” When I’m at a certain point in my menstrual cycle, I crave food–mostly carbs–well, mostly pastries if we’re being honest–but it’s weird because I don’t feel hungry. I just want to EAT.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      My husband described his teenage years as always being hungry, except for half an hour after Thanksgiving dinner. (Tall and thin body type at that age.) In his 20s the constant hunger faded.

    15. Little Beans*

      I’m rarely hungry. I usually only eat 2 meals a day, with maybe a small snack in between. On days that I’m super busy, I’ve gone until early afternoon without getting hungry, at which point I actually start to feel a little faint, and that’s my cue that I need to eat something.

    16. Alex*

      Frequent hunger here! Although in the past year or so it has gotten less so. I’m overweight and this is one primary reason why it has been so difficult for me. I HATE being hungry. Not to mention my stomach makes embarrassing rumbly noises if it doesn’t have food in it.

      I remember being in school where lunch period was 12:30 and I was so hungry by then I could barely stand up. This lead to a fear of ever being hungry because it was so unpleasant for me, and if I was going to be around people even more so, because of my rumbly tummy, and so I will always have snacks or eat preemptively because of this fear.

      Now in my 40s maybe it has gotten a bit better, but on the other hand my metabolism is at a snails pace so losing weight might not happen anyway.

    17. Barb*

      Always feeling like I wanted to eat, but infrequent actual hunger pangs because, well, I did eat frequently

      Note the past tense

      I have been severely overweight all my adult life, losing weight with great difficulty only when significantly externally motivated

      Now I’m rarely hunger and frequently go many hours not even thinking about food. This has been all because of the Ozempic I’ve been prescribed since last August
      I’ve gone from BMI 55 to 42

      1. Sloanicota*

        Weirdly I’m pretty sure this was the context of the original comment thread I’m referring to.

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      These responses are fascinating. I really had no idea this many people spent this much time just not hungry. I wake up fairly hungry, not ravenous but I will become incredibly hangry if I don’t eat within a couple of hours. (I tried a 16:8 intermittent fast ONCE and it was a total disaster, I felt like I was going to die and I still didn’t feel good the rest of the day even though I ate normally after that.) I usually make myself not eat anything until lunch but I would happily eat a decent size snack around 10. Sometimes that’s boredom or craving, but it’s generally real hunger. I’m hungry again by about 5, eat a small snack, and eat dinner around 7. If it matters, I’m not overweight but near the top of my recommended BMI.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Wow! I am surprised by the number of folks saying they’re constantly hungry. That doesn’t sound medically “right” to me because after a normal meal I’m not very hungry until it’s time for the next meal. I pretty good at staying on a schedule, but I can tell when I have a big lunch that I don’t get hungry until later than normal.

        I’m dieting now and there are some days that I’m hungry and can’t seem to feel full which is distracting. But also there’s more days when I feel full after my meals and I don’t really feel hungry.

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          So….your way of experiencing the world is what constitutes “medically right” and no other experiences can possibly be “medically right”?
          Maybe broaden your mind to realize that a range of experiences beyond yours can also be “right”

          1. The Person from the Resume*

            Lordy, Lady! I actually thinking scientifically. You don’t need to be jerk about someone using their brain and still disagreeing with you.

            Let’s assume the human hunger feeling is a signal that it is time to eat which is my understanding of the purpose of that physical feeling. Then when a person feels hungry all the time even after eating then (1) there is something wrong with their body’s signal telling them they are full (2) they did not eat enough at that meal to feel full.

            And what you do know, there’s some terminology for this MEDICAL SYMPTOM. Polyphagia or hyperphagia is an abnormally strong, incessant sensation of hunger or desire to eat often leading to overeating. In contrast to an increase in appetite following exercise, polyphagia does not subside after eating and often leads to rapid intake of excessive quantities of food. Polyphagia is not a disorder by itself; rather, it is a symptom indicating an underlying medical condition.

    19. A*

      I am almost always hungry.

      If people ask me if I want to eat something, or if I’m hungry, I sometimes have to take a second and stare at them before making a reasonable response, because the honest answer is “of course! Always.”

      I’ve never been overweight, more often closer to underweight over my lifetime. Although I recently hit the upper limit of the “normal” BMI so am starting to pay more attention (Altho ofc if we all listen to Maintenance Phase, we know BMI is trash!).

    20. Generic Name*

      This is an interesting question, and I was actually wondering the same thing myself. A good friend of mine has been on a low carb diet for a while, and she likes it because she doesn’t feel hungry. Like at all. I eat an omnivore diet (diet as in “what I eat” rather than any weight goal) with what I think is a normal amount of carbs, and I do get hungry before meals, which I assume is pretty normal. I mean, the feeling of hunger is an evolutionary drive to survive, right? I did discover that if I add some walnuts to my oatmeal, I don’t feel hungry between breakfast and lunch, but for me it’s pretty normal to feel hungry before mealtimes.

    21. ecnaseener*

      Hm. If we’re talking specifically as the feeling in your stomach that you instinctively know to be hunger, I don’t feel that very often. But other things like tiredness or tremors pretty frequently – not *constantly*, but definitely comes on sooner than “if a meal is late.” Fast metabolism meets fairly small appetite.

    22. This Old House*

      I wouldn’t say I’m hungry “constantly,” but I am definitely hungry *often.* I need at least 3 (full-sized) meals and 2-3 snacks daily. And if I let myself stay hungry for very long once I have even just started to feel hunger, it triggers a migraine. After breakfast, I usually get hungry once or twice before lunch (and then am hungry enough for a hearty lunch by right around noon), and at least once in the afternoon before dinner. It can be a rough schedule to accommodate! Especially trying to find snacks that are filling enough that I won’t be hungry again quite so soon, but also not so calorie heavy that it’s not great for me to eat it over and over if I just keep getting hungry anyway.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, same. I’m definitely not always hungry, and I try to eat healthily and I know how to eat meals that leave me feeling full for a couple of hours, but it generally only is a couple of hours. I have a snack before the gym and a coffee when I get home, and then I try to wait until 10am to have my actual breakfast because if I eat any earlier I’ll want to have lunch at 11am. I need to eat something, even a snack, on a fairly regular basis or I feel irritable and shaky and my stomach starts rumbling. I don’t understand how people can skip meals altogether or forget to eat – I could never forget to eat because my body would be screaming at me.

    23. jasmine tea*

      My hunger cues are completely screwed from GERD. I can be full to bursting and still feel desperate for food, or so empty my stomach echoes and yet have no appetite whatsoever. I’ve had to learn to just ignore my body and eat carefully-portioned meals at regular times.

    24. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I get hungry around when a meal is coming up. Sometimes early, sometimes late, which mostly depends on when the previous meal was the right size and on time. If I ignore the hunger, it will go away but come back later. I usually go to lunch at work between 12:00 and 12:15, and I’ll get hungry sometime between 11:30 and 12:30, but usually between 11:50 and 11:55. (This doesn’t happen on weekends though, when my days are much less structured.)

      If my meal schedule changes, I’ll start getting hungry at the new time after I’ve adjusted.

    25. Howleen Wolf*

      I’m always starving. Got on Wellbutrin and ritalin and finally didn’t always feel ready to devour a moose (and lost 45 pounds) but then got pregnant and had to give it up and gained it all back immediately. Sadly it’s easier to communicate with the dead than it is to get ahold of my psychiatrist, so I’ll starve awhile longer.

  13. Old Plant Woman*

    Let’s tease Murphy. You know. “What ever can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time.”
    And I’ll have to pay for it.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Ha! Thanks for the chuckle.
      Years ago I was reading somebody’s collection of variations on Murphy’s law.
      The only one I remember is “Don’t force it, get a larger hammer.”

      If I had to make up something, I’d say “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and will infuriate either the largest number of people or the most senior of the local authority figures.”

    2. Anono-me*

      Here is my story about asking Murphy for attention.

      I was driving the wheels off of a nice little Dodge when it started to rattle. I took it to a great little shop down the street to see if it could be saved. They took a look and determined that a redundant screw had come out and was trapped behind another part, but wasn’t doing any damage. Labor to remove the screw was 1/2-2/3 the value of the car so the shop recommended leaving it and turning up the radio. Then Mike made a joke about praying that the radio didn’t die. Yes, the radio died two days later. Thanks Mike.

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        That’s funny. I was just expecting a few dumb jokes. Reminded me… Years ago I worked as a flagger. One job was with a new construction company that was so inept I almost started feeling sorry for them. Good guys, treated people right, but that’s not priority for digging up a highway. So my coworker made a joke about I hope they don’t hit a gas line. Yeah, they did. Only time ever no single motorist argued when I told them to turn around and get gone.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          ::Jaw on Floor::
          ::Eyebrows through Ceiling::

          Please tell me that this was because Miss Dig (or whatever entity tracks and flags utilities underground where you are) absolutely effed things up and not because they were not called!!!

    3. NotRealAnonforThis*

      “All hail the hand of Murphy, here to F things up when you least expect it, and have less than zero time to deal with his BS….”

      That’s been the statement since our apartment’s thermostat got stuck on 85F on a 100F scorcher of a July day in a college town. Absent landlord. We absolutely put a kiddie pool on our porch that day, and absolutely created mini-AC’s w/ fans and blocks of dry-ice. We also learned HOW to remove the power leads to the in-unit HVAC system to make it STOP.

  14. AnonForThis*

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in early June. Any recommendations/advice? We’ll be starting in Athens, are good walkers and enjoy history/food/culture/birdwatching/cooking. We are past the youth hostel stage, but tend to go with lower budget travel, and won’t be driving.

    1. KathyG*

      Delphi is an easy day trip from Athens and is well worth it.

      Within Athens itself, the Acropolis museum is amazing and not to be missed. I would allow a day just for it.

      It’s a shame you won’t be driving, as the Peloponnese is great to potter around.

      If you are planning to visit any islands, give yourselves LOTS of leeway for connections. Do NOT believe anyone who tells you, “That ferry is always on time.”

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I really loved Meteora, an area of stone pinnacles (“rocks in the air” = “meteora”) with monasteries and nunneries on top. Just a lovely unique area with cool old buildings to explore.

      If you’re including the Greek isles, Knossos on Crete is neat for archaeology/history buffs.

  15. RMNPgirl*

    Since we’re changing clocks this weekend in the US – what are people’s opinions on making daylight saving time permanent or standard time permanent or just sticking with the status quo?

    I personally would like daylight saving time to be permanent because I really want that extra hour in the evenings in winter and if we did permanent standard time, where I am we would be having close to 4am sunrises in summer. I know some concerns are kids going to school in the dark, but they already do that in every northern state anyways. And supposedly being on permanent DST would be throwing our bodies out of whack with circadian rhythms, but again people do that all the time with travel and shift work. I just don’t see how 1 hour would make that much of an impact.

    1. Elf*

      I desperately want permanent Standard time. I teach high school, and I am driving to work in the dark every day already; having the sun not come up until second period would be just awful. It’s going to get dark unpleasantly early in winter even if it were an hour later, and it’s that sunrise time that has a much bigger impact on people biologically.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        At high school I did an exchange to Germany, and their school day started at something like 7.30am. It was positively surreal sitting in a classroom while stars shone out the window, then watching the sunrise while conjugating verbs or whatever.

        For my part, I hate DST. It’s murder getting my kid to bed at a reasonable time. God knows how Scandinavian parents manage.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          When I traveled to Stocholm in the summer, I noticed that hotel rooms all had shades that actually, really, 100% blocked light and made it dark as deepest night in the room when drawn (not like those travesties the rest of the world has). I bet that’s how Scandinavian parents manage.

          1. Lexi Vipond*

            I’m not in Scandinavia, but on the same kind of latitude as Denmark and southern Sweden, and at to some extent it’s just all you’ve ever known – that there’s no consistent connection between the light and the time of day. (There’s a lovely Robert Louis Stevenson poem about it called ‘Bed in Summer’.)

            But also good blinds!

            1. Felis alwayshungryis*

              I guess that’s a good point – if you don’t know any different, you don’t rely on day/night signals and adapt accordingly. Birds must manage, right?! ;-)

              We had some blackout blinds but they were hopeless because the light came in from around them. But no doubt you have them properly fitted to your windows!

              1. allathian*

                Yes, all our bedrooms have properly fitted blackout blinds, and they work.

                Kids have to learn early that just like in winter it’s not bedtime as soon as it gets dark, they’ll just have to go to bed when the sun’s still shining outside in the summer.

                I’m at 60 N and around winter solstice we get 5 hours of daylight/twilight, and in the middle of summer it doesn’t really get properly dark at all even if we aren’t far enough north to see the midnight sun.

      2. st4me*

        I also desperately want permanent standard time. I feel completely out of sync for the entire majority of the year that we are on daylight time. Good-bye to good sleep for the next 7+ months.

    2. Enough*

      Standard time all the way. It’s what our bodies need. Otherwise let’s shorten daylight savings time as much as possible.

    3. Bethlam*

      Permanent DST vote here. And my take on the argument about kids going to school in the dark is baloney. In the past, yes. When I was in school, there was a collective bus stop for a whole neighborhood of kids, so walking in the dark to the bus stop was a concern.

      But now, there are no group bus stops. The da** bus stops at Every. Single. Driveway. To pick up 1 or 2 kids. And half the time, the kids aren’t even by the road – they’re on their porch and they wait for the bus to stop before leaving the porch.

      And farther out in the country where driveways are longer and the houses set back too far for them to wait on the porch, well then a parent DRIVES them to the end of the driveway where they wait for the bus in a car with the engine running.

      Maybe it’s different elsewhere, but where I am permanent DST would have little impact on kids going to school.

      1. Observer*

        That’s not universally true. And even so, driving in the dark is a WHOLE lot more dangerous than driving in the light.

        But it’s not just that. There is a ton of evidence by now that most people’s rhythms work significantly better with Standard time.

    4. Bluebell*

      I prefer DST because I live in an area that should be Atlantic time zone. But it’s not, so sunset in the winter is before 4pm. Grrr.

    5. goldfish*

      I live in Canada, just north of the 49th parallel. When my kids were younger, the sun would just be coming up at we waited for the bus, just after 8am (in the middle of winter). I’d hate to think of kids getting to school in the dark. Playing in a dark playground for 20 minutes before school? Yeah,no. Also, unless you’re talking about Alaska, I don’t see how US kids are going to school in the dark, unless US schools start very early.

      I think daylight in the morning is important because people aren’t as awake or alert in the mornings as they are in the afternoons- when they’ve had all day to wake up.

      1. Another Canadian*

        My niece and nephew live near Seattle and they wait for the bus in the dark. It’s surprisingly far north!

      2. Floppy Ear Dog*

        Many US schools start at, or before 8, so kids are waiting for busses as early as 6am.

      3. carcinization*

        I live in Texas, and when I was in high school I waited for the bus in the dark… school started before 8am, so it checks out. Now I work at a school, and I usually get to work at around 7:30, so part of the year I’m in the same type of situation, even though I have a very short commute.

      1. Anono-me*

        Agreed. Somebody told me it was like cutting the top foot off of a blanket and sewing it to the bottom of the blanket to make it longer.

        1. Still*

          Isn’t it more like the blanket is too short either way so you have to pick it you’d rather have it cover your feet or your shoulders?

        2. Dancing Otter*

          Which actually makes the blanket shorter in total, because of the seam.

          I just wish TPTB would pick one, standard or daylight, and stick with it!

      2. WellRed*

        I resent this weekend every year. Give me back my hour. Plus I start the work week feeling behind.

      3. Brrr*

        Me too. I hate the change in both spring and fall. I agree with Saskatchewan on this (Canadian province that doesn’t change time).

      4. Mimmy*

        Adding to the chorus on this one. Changing the clocks one hour either way twice a year can be really discombobulating. Just stick to one thing year-round.

      5. st4me*

        Yeah, I am strongly in favor of permanent standard time, but my second choice is permanent daylight time. This time-changing twice a year is ridiculous and much different than jet lag one experiences traveling to different time zones.

          1. st4m3*

            People who are smarter than me and who have looked at the data say it’s not that clear-cut. Probably depends on where you are and other variables. I guess back in the days of candles and oil lamps and non-energy efficient bulbs, it was true. Today, with energy-efficient LED bulbs and air-conditioning, not so sure it is anymore. Now it seems to be just a bad habit.

      6. KR*

        Yes! I live in a state where the time doesn’t change and I love not having to remember whether I’m gaining or losing or what’s going on. Of course I can’t completely forget because I work in a company that’s based in MST so I have to remember whatever they’re doing.

      7. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I don’t much care if it’s DST or standard time, as long as it doesn’t keep switching around. I get about a month’s jetlag with every switch, regardless of the direction. I’m at 60 N, and before the pandemic and WFH, I’d go to the office in the dark and return home in the dark for several months of the year. At least when I WFH, I can go for a walk during my lunch hour to get at least some daylight in winter. It’s done wonders for my SAD.

    6. Aphrodite*

      I vote for standard time being permanent. I read that it is closest to the body’s natural rhythms. And it has the major advantage (in my view) of cutting down the summer’s nasty heat that makes air conditioning a must. I’d rather use my open windows for fresh air instead of covering them up with aluminum foil and heavy lined drapes to try to keep the temperatures down to a reasonable level.

        1. Aphrodite*

          I don’t think it’s a dumb question. It seems to me there are far more daylight hours when it’s hot. The house heats up all day and because the sun is up so much later–it certainly feels that way when dusk doesn’t come until after 8:00–it continues to heat up the house way later than normal. It’s just so much hotter for so much longer.

        2. st4me*

          Agree with what Aphrodite wrote. And I believe that is why Arizona does not change to daylight savings times. The sun setting a bit earlier gives things a chance to cool off a bit and reduces the need to run the A/C for so many hours in the evening.

    7. Decidedly Me*

      I don’t really care as long as the whole US does it at once rather than state by state.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Eh, indiana varies by county but it’s not like, one in the middle of the state is different. It’s geographical, the counties near Chicago are on the same time, the rest is not.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Actually, it used to be that some did DST and others didn’t, but I was replying to Manders…

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That’s yet another reason I’m for keeping the status quo as there is talk of the EU changing things and if we were to change and the UK didn’t, we’d have six counties on a different time to the rest of the island, which would be…odd. Googling says our government has decided we will not change unless the UK also does, which is reasonable.

        I also think it would get bright way too early in the mornings otherwise. It’s already getting bright at 7ish. I find it hard to sleep when it’s bright.

    8. Jackalope*

      I am 100% DST all the time for several reasons.

      Most of it is around when I want to use daylight hours. As a woman who lived much of my life single, the extra hour of daylight in the evening is an extra hour that I can go out in the late afternoons or evenings without worrying what might happen if I walk alone in the dark. It’s an extra hour that I can use when I get home from work to go for a walk in my neighborhood, or go for a bike ride, or whatever. Given the amount of time that it takes for the days to lengthen and shorten in my neck of the woods, that’s TWO extra months each year that I can enjoy going out for a walk until 7:00.

      In high summer here it gets light around 4:00 am and dark around 9:30 pm. If DST went away then it would get light at 3:00 and dark at 8:30. I am here to tell you that there’s nothing I want less at 3:00 am than sunlight streaming through my window. I want to SLEEP at that hour. I far prefer having sunlight from 8:30-9:30, when I’m more likely to want to do something, even if it’s just sitting on the porch enjoying my neighborhood.

      Lastly, for me at least it’s safer having more light in the evenings rather than the mornings. I already mentioned the being a woman walking alone in the dark aspect; when DST goes away in November each year it feels like prison bars slamming shut. But in addition, for me personally it’s safer to have it be dark in the mornings. I’ve heard people taking about kids waiting for school buses, and I don’t know what the best option is there. But for me, commuting in the morning (which I do on a bicycle) when it’s dark and there is a lot less traffic is safer than commuting home when it’s afternoon and dark, and there’s a lot more traffic. My experience – and I know this is not universal – is that not only are there fewer drivers in the morning, but they are more patient. I’ve had a lot more near misses of cars almost hitting me on my way home, to say nothing of aggressive drivers yelling at me. So when we shift in November I always dread it because riding home in the dark is so much worse than riding to work in the dark.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        I also feel safer with extra light in the evening when I am more likely to be out. It may be unrealistic, but I figure that criminals are lazy and won’t be up early in the morning.

    9. Not Australian*

      Actually, I love the whole ‘changing the clocks’ business and really missed it when the UK experimented with a ‘one time all year’ thingy for a while – but I will admit that my comments are not based on practicality, purely on sentiment. I’m lucky enough now to have the kind of life which doesn’t involve a regular commute and my working hours are completely up to me; the only major time constraints in this household are set by the appetites of three cats … and even they adapt eventually.

      1. Nobody*

        Me too! I like the “magic” of an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. I love the long summer evenings, and would hate it getting dark at 8:30 in the summer, but I would also hate driving to work and home from work in the dark. So I’m a vote for keeping the time changes.

    10. anon24*

      Oh bloody heck. I forgot that was this weekend. I used to be firmly on team daylight savings but somehow in the last few years I’ve developed a burning hatred for sunlight and complete inability to focus while its bright out, along with a passionate love for the night and uber focus in the dark. So now I’m firmly on team standard time. Let that sun set as early as possible!

      1. just talk to people*

        This is me too. I concentrate really well in the dusk/dark, and I’m going to miss that after this weekend!

    11. Catherine*

      I don’t care which gets picked as long as America picks one and sticks to it–I moved to a country that doesn’t observe DST years ago, yet my routine still gets messed up by it as I collaborate with some people in America who insist on keeping the same meeting time year-round (meaning I have to actively track when DST happens and update my calendar to shift our meeting forward or back in hour increments).

    12. Vistaloopy*

      Standard time! I’m probably in the minority, but I absolutely love the early dark on fall and winter afternoons. It feels so cozy to me. And the sun setting so late in the summer just weirds me out. It should be dark at night. Also it’s a lot harder to get my kid to bed when it’s light out.

      1. Mimmy*

        I live in New Jersey but a few years ago in mid-June, we were at Notre Dame for a family event (my brother is an alum), and it was so strange when it was still light out after 9:00 pm.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t actually care which way it ends up, I just want to stop changing. :-P

    14. CTT*

      Permanent standard time, because all the science shows that DST is horrible for our bodies. (And selfishly I live on the far-west side of a time zone and it would not get light until almost 9 am where I live until late spring!)

      1. Jackalope*

        Several people have referred to studies allegedly showing that DST is bad for our circadian rhythm, and I’m skeptical that they are truly accurate. Some questions I have: First of all, what latitude did they look at? Anywhere between roughly the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn the amount and timing of the sun varies little enough during the year that changing the clocks makes no sense (part of why Hawaii doesn’t change, for those in the US). Likewise as you get super far north or south there’s so much daylight or darkness depending on the time of the year that changing isn’t going to change the amount of daylight available when you’re awake. But for those who live in the middle, what pattern of daylight is most helpful will vary a lot.

        Second, what longitudes did they consider? I just did a quick check, and the difference between sunrise on the far west and far east of any specific time zone at roughly the same latitude can vary by more than an hour each way. Which “end” of the time zone is optimal? If the idea is that the sunrise and sunset hours are better aligned with our bodies’ natural rhythms of waking up and sleeping during Standard vs. DST, which end of the time zone is that true for, given that one end has sunrise an hour before the other?

        Third, what time of year did they consider? Are they just looking at March and November when we change? Are they considering winter primarily? Summer, when with Standard time the sun will be rising incredibly early above a certain point to the north? I’m nowhere close to either the Arctic or Antarctic Circle, but in my location north there are around 3 months in the summer where it starts getting light around 4 a.m.; changing to Standard Time year round would mean 3 months per year where it starts getting light at 3 a.m., which I can’t imagine is good for anyone’s sleep. Obviously this varies by location (hence my original question: where did they do the studies?), but this is why I’m wondering: did they consider the effect of sunrise/sunset on circadian rhythms year-round?

        Finally, what schedule did they consider? I have what I would imagine would be a fairly average schedule for working adults – awake 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays. That gives me 5 months a year when I wake up after the sunrise (and more time on either end when it’s twilight but the sun isn’t really up). That also gives me 12 months a year when the sun is down when I go to bed (although in the summer it’s not necessarily dark). Going to the far east in my time zone there are 8 months a year when the sun is already up by 6 a.m., and changing to constant Standard time would only net them an extra couple of weeks each year of the sun coming up by 6. Obviously this is very place-dependent, but I had to use a specific location, and the way it works in my specific location is part of why I’m so strongly pro-year-round-DST.

        So finally, I come back to my original skepticism on the supposedly definitive studies. WHOSE circadian rhythms were they considering, where, what time of year, and with what sleep schedule?

        1. Observer*

          I find it interesting that you dismiss all of the studies without having looked at a single one. Now, if you said that you looked at some and this is what you saw, I would be surprised, because the studies I had seen didn’t seem to have there problems, but at least you would be talking about actual studies. But this? Why on earth would I take this seriously.

          1. Jackalope*

            Have you seen studies that address my questions? I have in fact looked at studies on this, but NONE of them that address the issues that I raised. I’ve found a number of studies that point to the fact that the shock to our systems in March and November is bad for us – universal issues such as fatigue, increased stress, higher number of heart attacks, etc., etc. This is why I personally think we should stop the change (as I said above, I would prefer to stick with DST for a number of reasons), but it says nothing about keeping DST year-round. I’ve also heard multiple people referring to the brief time period when the US made DST permanent, and it was allegedly so unpopular that they reversed it. As far as I can find, it was in place for less than a year – it was passed in January 1974, at the end of January 1974 people were upset because some schoolchildren were hit by cars, and by October Congress had changed things back. This alleged proof that permanent DST could never work was an attempt that caused people to live exactly 2 extra months with DST, hardly a rigorous trial by any definition.

            Beyond that, I’ve seen tons of articles referring to alleged effects on our circadian rhythms. Not a single one of them that I could find referred to anything about the time period outside of about 2-3 weeks after the change in March in November. Exactly one study referenced the fact that in the tropics it makes less sense to change because the light is close to the same year-round. And every single study but one that looked at specifics (for example, looking at the number of car accidents or heart attacks in the first few weeks post-change in March and November) broke things down by country (the exception was a study looking at energy usage in the state of Indiana). Giving results according to “the USA” ignores all of the questions I asked above. The US has 6 time zones and stretches from Hawaii in the Tropic of Cancer to Alaska which crosses the Arctic Circle. None of studies stated which part of the US where they were conducted (with the exception of the Indiana study) or took into consideration how that would affect the results.

            So I repeat what I said above. Unless someone does a study looking at the effects of DST beyond “changing schedules twice a year is bad for us”, and considers the aspects that I mentioned above (longitude, latitude, the entirety of the year rather than the 2 weeks after each change, etc.), I will remain skeptical that “DST is bad for our circadian rhythms” is something that has in fact been proved by science, rather than a myth about science floating around on the internet that people hold on to because they dislike the change.

            1. Observer*

              Yes, I have seen studies that address some of your questions. I don’t recall the specifics and I don’t have the time to look them up, which is why I didn’t post links.

              If you have actually looked at the studies and still have questions that’s very different from your first post.

              And I’d be really interested in seeing the studies you’ve looked at – it’s something I’m interested in, and I like to get as much information as I can. And I DO try to avoid confirmation bias.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          These are pretty much my thoughts too.

          For example, the Central European time zone is really wide. France and Spain should, geographically, really be one time zone over. So should Portugal and Ireland. Which means that they’re basically geographically on summer time when they’re on standard time, and on double summer time in summer… Do the French really have a worse circadian rythm than the Hungarians? (To say nothing of the Spanish, who live by a different rythm entirely, culturally.)

          1. Observer*

            I’ve seen a few studies on this, and the ones that deal with DST vs STD time are all, if I recall correctly, North America based.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        The difference between permanent standard time and permanent summer time is EXACTLY the same as the difference between living in the far west of a time zone and living in the far east of it.

    15. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Another vote for “anything that keeps us from running around changing clocks twice a year”! I loathe DST, but I don’t care which standard we keep, as long as we stop pretending that clocks are the absolute arbiters of time. If that were true I’d set my clock back 24 hours every Monday morning!

      School systems can shift start times twice a year if they want to, just following the old DST standard. I’m surprised more people haven’t discussed that as the move to abolish DST has grown.

        1. nobadcats*

          Just listened to this. I used to say, when I lived in Vietnam, the worst day in your life is the day your neighbor got a karaoke machine or a rooster. Roosters really are the WORST for keeping time, they just start crowing whenever the eff they feel like it.

          My neighbor got a karaoke machine, but they usually went to bed early. But next door to them was a Chinese restaurant, and well, the duck butchery every morning was also not a fun thing to wake up to.

      1. Little Beans*

        I can’t see how schools could shift their schedules mid year. As a parent who has to do drop off and pick up around a standard work schedule, that would be a nightmare.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          School and “standard” work schedules shift by an hour twice a year now, we all just change our clocks to pretend we’re going to school and work at the same time. Without that unity it would be a lot harder, but if a school system shifted its hours most employers would need to figure out a way to cope. We already have our daycare schedules shift multiple times a year because of summer break, which like DST is also a holdover from when we were more agrarian-centric and certain conveniences (lighting, air conditioning) were not as common or more expensive to operate.

          1. Little Beans*

            Sorry, I still don’t get it. I’m expected to just tell my employer, sorry I have to come in an hour later/leave an hour earlier for half the year because that’s what school schedules are? Or arrange one hour of daycare for half the year? Yes my kid’s schedule is different in the summer, but we choose our summer childcare schedule, so we can make it align with work expectations – I don’t change my work schedule in the summer. The current system works only because everyone changes at the same time. You can’t have a significant portion of society change schedules regularly when no one else is…

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      Either permanent DST or switching one timezone east and staying with standard time–that winter sunset at 4 pm is depressing. (I live in New England.)

      I have never understood the switching back and forth rationale. The circadian rhythms thing doesn’t make any sense–those are by nature adjustable based on cues from the environment.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          But no one ever cites the study that shows “Hoo boy, massive energy savings seen in areas that switch back and forth.” There are states that do not do DST right next to states that do. And yet the energy conserved always seems to be measured in vibes.

        2. st4me*

          Based on the article you linked, the purpose “was” to conserve energy, but now it may do just the opposite.

          In fact, five of the seven things in the article are reasons why DST isn’t good and might actually be bad, energy consumption being one of them, as energy use has shifted from lighting to cooling and heating.

    17. o_gal*

      I’m in the camp of “just pick one”. But I lean toward picking Standard Time, because I am sick of everyone calling it “Daylight Savings Time”. There’s no “s”, people!

      1. ecnaseener*

        My work (sorry for mentioning!) literally said in their DST reminder “but on the bright side we get an extra hour of daytime!” No we don’t, it doesn’t come out of the ether, it comes out of our mornings!

        Daylight Shiftings Time would be more apt :)

    18. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I was in HS in the 1970s when we had DST all year round due to the energy crisis. I would have walked to school in the dark if Dad hadn’t decided to drive me instead – I had 7:15 AM choir rehearsal before school started at 8:00. As an adult, I preferred DST because I hated coming home from work in the dark. HATED it. In late December it’s full dark at 5:00 PM where I live.

      Now I’m retired and I like to walk outside for exercise and I prefer to do it in the morning, so I’ve switched teams and prefer standard time. Either way, let’s pick one and stop changing. For one thing, I have an ongoing volunteer project with someone who lives in AZ where they don’t do DST so twice a year we have mass confusion and someone misses a meeting.

      Related random anecdote: I’m a doc and there was nothing worse than being on call overnight when we switched to Standard Time. An extra hour of call….ick.

      1. Little Beans*

        I’m guessing doctors don’t get paid hourly but now I’m wondering how a time card would record hours for a shift during daylight savings? Does someone have to manually add or delete the extra hour of pay??

        1. A*

          As a nurse, we get paid the same as a normal shift. If you happen to be working on the change day, you are just lucky/unlucky!

        2. Gyne*

          Yup, you just win (or lose) an extra hour of work. We aren’t paid to work in the hospital at all, medicine is a “fee for service” model, so if I am on call and I deliver 5 babies and do 2 consults I bill for those things individually. All the time being available waiting for things to happen is unpaid.

          There are specialties where they do more salaried or hourly shift work (EM and if there is a hospital medicine service) and that would vary depending on the hospital, I suppose.

      2. Pippa K*

        There was a horse at my old stables who would absolutely Lose His Shit every autumn at the time change because from his perspective it made his dinner late. Full equine tantrum.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          FETs are typically epic and result in broken things in the stall. Having witnessed a few….this is a mental picture that is making me giggle!

    19. Lexi Vipond*

      In the depths of winter in Scotland it gets light some time between 8:30 and 9am and dark some time between 3 and 3:30pm – moving that by an hour would leave us still coming home in the pitch dark, but now going to work in the pitch dark as well, which just sounds miserable.

      (The southern point of Scotland is on roughly the same latitude as the southern end of the panhandle of Alaska, and the far north is slightly south of Anchorage – everything’s further north in Europe!)

      I have no strong feelings about permanent standard time – we’ve got too much daylight in summer anyway, and it doesn’t really matter where we put it. But the bulk of the UK population is in the south of England, where it’s light from 8ish to 4ish in winter, and there’s quite a bit of support there for permanent summer time.

    20. ThatGirl*

      I think this whole thread is a good example of why it would be tough: nobody can agree which to stay on!

    21. Alex*

      Status quo vote here! While light evenings are nice, not having sunrise until well after 8am where I am is just too much. And no thanks to the 4am sunrises in the summer either. We move the clocks for a reason! Let’s keep doing it.

      1. Retired Accountant*

        I agree. The time change doesn’t bother me, (no clocks to change), and I’m on board with the reason we do it.

        1. QR Code*

          Hard agree with both of y’all. The purpose – energy conservation – is so important, and is the big picture many seem to miss.

          1. Observer*

            Except one of the two things that study after study shows, is that it really doesn’t make all that much of a difference. We’re talking about less than a percentage point is savings.

          2. st4me*

            I don’t think that is true anymore. Any energy savings in turning on lights later (the original intent- to save candles) is probably more than offset by running cooling and heating later. Everything I have read states it is a wash or DST increases energy consumption, depending on the location and other variables.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I eventually gave up on switching my microwave last night–all I could do was get it to start running for the current time. Apparently my more tech-friendly spouse figured it out this morning.

    22. just talk to people*

      Permanent Standard Time allllll the way!!

      I hate everything about DST. I hate waking up in the dark, I hate going on morning runs in the dark, I hate that it doesn’t get light until 8 am (it would be 9 am with permanent DST), I even hate the extra hour of daylight, esp. on days when it’s rainy and bleh outside, so you can’t even watch the sunset.

      I’d rather have the time changes than permanent DST, tbh.

    23. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Yes, people change their schedules all the time with shift work and travel. And it *hurts their health* so the fact that people do it doesn’t mean we should do it for the entire population.

      1. st4me*

        Yes, and unlike with travel, when you are on DST, your body does not have light cues to adjust. You’re just on permanent jet lag.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Uh, what do you mean? Right now the sun rises right when I get up and the room brightens before my alarm. And it gets not long after work. I much prefer DST because the sun doesn’t wake me up and I get more sunlight after work to do things.

          By this comment I mean, a person’s latitude and location within a time zone impact if the sunlight works with their schedule.

          1. st4me*

            According to circadian rhythm researchers, sunlight has an impact on how well we sleep and other biological functions. Light in the early morning when we wake up is important, not so much in the evening when are winding down to go to sleep. Shifting the clocks on hour can make it feel like permanent jet lag, because you never get the sun directly overhead at noon, for example. I am sorry I cannot explain better, but it’s been a while since I read about this (and learned to watch my sunlight to improve my sleep, as a former insomniac).

    24. ecnaseener*

      Permanent standard time all the way. Sure, later sunsets are nice, but it doesn’t make nearly as much a difference to my well-being as an earlier sunrise. I feel so much better when I get to wake up with the sun. The last few weeks have been so nice and now I’ll be exhausted again :(

      1. st4me*

        I agree. It’s so important to get that early sunlight for good sleep. And to not expose yourself to a lot of bright light in the evening when trying to wind down. Where I live, daylight hours are not particularly extreme, but I still find myself pulling blinds and curtains in the evening in the summer so my body can wind down to sleep.

    25. CSRoadWarrior*

      I don’t really care what approach we take, except it would take some getting used to no matter what. If we stayed on standard time, the sun would rise at 4:30am in the summer. If we stayed on daylight saving time, the sun wouldn’t rise until 8:30am in the winter. Of course, the times would also vary depending on where you live. These times are based on where I grew up and where I live now.

      But I do agree that changing clocks is inconvenient. I always feel “off” the weeks of March and November when the time changes, and last November I even had a pounding headache for a few days. It was not pleasant.

    26. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I vote no, no, no, no, no, no, no to permanent DST. It means we’d have sunrises later than 8 am for several months out of the year in NYC, and honestly, 5:30 pm is not a whole lot less of a depressing time for a sunset than 4:30 pm.

    27. Filosofickle*

      I’m team Permanent Daylight Time. If I can’t have that, then keep the status quo. I’d rather keep changing the clocks than lose half a year of my precious evening sun.

      This is completely personal to me and how my body and mind work — because I am not a morning person and don’t have any need (commute/kids) to be up and out, morning light is not useful to me but evening light is. In winter darkness my mental health is noticeably worse and I get nothing done, not even grocery shopping, because it’s dark so early and my mind thinks it’s bedtime. With more evening light, my mood is better, I socialize more, and generally function like a human. Literally everything about my life is better when I have more evening light. Darker mornings help me sleep better, too.

      1. Ice Bear*

        I’m with you that either we keep DST or keep changing the clocks. I too become extremely unproductive once the sun sets. I need that later sunlight to keep me going and to not feel depressed.

      2. Gemstones*

        Me too, on both counts. Maybe I don’t get up early enough, because it seems like, where I am, the sun is going to rise tomorrow around 7:14 a.m. That doesn’t seem all that bad. If I’m commuting to work, I won’t leave my home until around 8/8:30, when the sun is already up, so I don’t really feel I’m missing out on seeing the sun. I guess if I had to leave the house earlier, maybe I’d care a bit more, but as it is, I usually have no idea when the sun comes up, but I’m keenly aware of when it sets.

    28. Nicki Name*

      Another vote for standard time here. I’m fascinated by how this debate is playing out, being one of the last few things that hasn’t hardened along the usual partisan lines.

    29. Lcsa99*

      Normally the clock change doesn’t bother me, but my husband just came home after I changed 9 watches/clocks in our apartment and pointed out that I changed it the wrong way. Arg!

    30. Random Bystander*

      I’m on Team Standard Permanently. I like daylight in the morning to help convince me that it truly is time to get up.

      But if I can’t have that, I will accept the alternate permanent time setting, reluctantly–it is still an improvement over the time shifting.

    31. SofiaDeo*

      Permanent Standard time because it’s healthier for our bodies overall. There are too many “modern conveniences” that have a detrimental effect on health, and IMO seeing the sun in the AM before starting work is always optimal, and having it get dark earlier is *better* because it’s better for us to actually wind our day down & get ready to sleep. Instead of staying outside later to eat, drink, etc.

    32. Observer*

      The studies are pretty conclusive.

      The shift is the WORST. But DST actually does seem to mess with people pretty strongly.

      The issue with darkness in the morning is not just about kids walking to school and the people who push that are being either disingenuous or not actually looking at the whole picture, if they are even aware.

      For whatever reason a huge percentage of people do better with light in the morning than evening.

      1. Jackalope*

        You complained above that I didn’t look at actual studies, so throwing the ball back in your court. WHICH studies show that DST messes with people “pretty strongly”, outside of the issues related to the change itself? And what time is the sun coming up (and going down) in the places where they did the studies showing that people do better with light in the morning than the evening? Is this a matter of 6 am to 7 am, or 8 am to 9 am? Or (as in the summer where I live) a matter of 3 am to 4 am?

        1. Observer*

          Unfortunately I saw the DST vs STD time some time ago, and don’t have the information handy. So I am going on recollection in answering your questions.

          I don’t recall the exact time / geographic range, but they were reasonably narrow geographically, and if I recall correctly it was in areas where sunrise would not be 3am vs 4am, but at a point where people would notice.

          So, I would have to agree that absent further studies, it’s probably a mistake to extend whatever effects were seen in those areas to places (eg close to the arctic circle) where most people are not really seeing the difference anyway.

  16. Lemon*

    Happy weekend everyone! I’d love to hear from people who picked up art forms later in life. I’ve been wanting to take up painting but there’s a part of my brain that fears that I’ll mess up and I’ll never be as good as people who’ve been painting for years (I’m in my mid-twenties). I’d really like to push through this – my goal is to just use painting as a creative outlet, not to become a fulltime artist. Anyone who’s been there and done that (or even going through the same right now) – any tips, tricks, personal stories, and/or positive thoughts are appreciated!

    1. RagingADHD*

      Have you tried accepting the fact that you will certainly mess up, because there is no other way to get better?

      The people who started earlier just got a head start messing up more. The faster you mess up, the better you’ll get.

      1. KathyG*

        This. One thing we forget fairly quickly as adults is how long one has to be bad at something before getting good at it.

        1. RagingADHD*

          And “messing up” can be fun. Make a mess! Play!

          When we’re kids, or when you have little kids, you can tell how good of a time everyone had by how big a mess there is. If there’s muddy footprints in the tub at bedtime, you know it was a good day.

          Reclaim that. Get messy!

      2. Reba*

        Yes, this is similar to my first thought! You almost certainly *won’t* be as good as people who have been practicing for years — at first. Just expect this.

        I think it was an Ira Glass observation about early years as a practitioner being really difficult because your vision exceeds your abilities. I’m not sure if he coined it but I think he called this the “skill-taste gap.” A useful idea. Creative work does put us into a space of vulnerability so I think it’s helpful to try to set one’s expectations generously toward oneself!

        I am trained as an artist and I think some contemporary ideas about artists and art, and modes of art education, are detrimental in their tendency to focus on originality and idea generation in a way that presupposes creativity as something that’s innate, in tandem with devaluing the training of skills both physical and mental that go into the work. (Obviously it is more complicated than this but I hope you can get my meaning!)

        You really can think of it like training moves as an athlete would. You will be developing motor skills, observational sensitivities, and habits of thinking that take time and repetition to get good at. I hope you enjoy it.

    2. Claritza*

      I’ve tried a lot of kinds of arts and crafts -bookbinding, alcohol ink, marbling, basketry, stained glass, watercolor, to name a few. Have fun with painting! I have found that instructors and classmates are very encouraging. It’s fun to go from, for example “I’ve never done stained glass before!” to “I made this!” Progress, not perfection! [Later in life?
      I’m 70.]

    3. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      One of the books that’s had the biggest impact on my adult life has been Olivia Laing’s “The Lonely City”. It’s a truly unusual book, so a little hard to summarize neatly, but for me it’s about how artistic expression is not just a life-enriching practice, but can in many ways be life-sustaining. Reading it really gave me the confidence/validation to carve out time in my life for making art that made me feel happy/peaceful/satisfied even if it wasn’t “good” or if no-one else ever saw it.

      If you think it would be useful to you, you can also seek out information about meditative art practices like mandalas or Australian Aboriginal pointillist paintings. They are beautiful in their own right, but the effect upon the artist from *making* them is considered to be of equal importance to the finished artwork itself. Not saying that those are art forms you will feel drawn to trying, necessarily, just that learning more about spiritual traditions that have harnessed the mental health benefits of art-making might help you feel more able to give yourself permission to experiment with making art simply because it makes you feel good.

      As far as a very specific inspirational story, my aunt has a stunning painting of some zinnias on her wall that I was admiring one day, and it turned out that a friend of hers had painted it. He was a lawyer with a successful practice who basically in his 50s took up painting, and turned out to be so talented and passionate about it that he quit his law practice and now makes serious money off his paintings. So, you literally just never know what random talents may be hiding inside.

    4. My dog is my coworker*

      I’m in my mid thirties and recently took up ceramics and it’s been a lot of fun! I’m taking a beginner class for adults and there’s something really special about being in a room full of adults who are excited to learn something new. I even have a few classmates in their sixties and beyond so it’s never too late! Starting ceramics as an adult has also helped me deal with my perfectionist tendencies and feel more comfortable doing something I enjoy, even if I’m not very good at it.

    5. Jackalope*

      I did a bit of drawing in college and then let it go with minimal skill. Picked it up every now and then but very rarely. Then during the Pandemic an artist friend convinced me to pick it up and I’ve started drawing a lot more (and making designs with colored pencils). I can see how I’ve improved – she’s given me some ideas on art and how to transfer what I’m seeing to a page. And my hand has also grown steadier at putting together an image that I like. Some of my drawings have flopped, but for the most part they’re fun.

    6. Fuzzy*

      I’ve just taken up painting in later life — much later than you, I’m in my sixties! The class I am taking is more like meditation than a typical painting class. It’s all about creative expression, not about technique or creating something “good.” In fact there is no technique instruction or critique or even sharing of paintings. Very freeing. It can be very serene and very emotional. Others in the class are very talented; I paint at about the third grade level (this may be an insult to third graders!). I love it. Don’t know where you live, but it’s online as well as in person. Look at the Center for Creative Expression website, ccesf dot org. Enjoy your creative exploration, however it manifests itself!

      1. Anima*

        That’s because for us younglings it’s implied (or we are told) that we have to start early and get extremely good at things, otherwise we are behind. And unredeemable bad at stuff. I have not really an idea where exactly that comes from, but it’s a thing.
        I’m in my mid-thirties now and just started to learn crochet. First projects were really crooked and I almost stopped because, well, I did not get good at this fast. I kept crocheing and voila, it got better! I needed to remind me that one can and should mess up in the beginning.

    7. kina lillet*

      It’s actually quite possible to become really good (and ‘better’ than someone who started early).

      Maybe you won’t be Rembrandt, but most people who started early also won’t be Rembrandt.

      Painting and drawing are very learnable skills. You can get good. It means that you practice, you reflect on the practice, you seek out existing paintings or books or advice to learn from, you try again. This learning loop, and especially the reflection, is actually something that adults are really good at.

      (A few resources on this and that—Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a great example of an external resource. There’s also a great old blog post called How to Do Hard Things by David R McIver.)

      And all that said, you can gain immense satisfaction from the hobby even if you stay at exactly your level right now. Creating a work of sublime beauty, or getting closer to what’s in your head, or figuring out how you want to tweak the real world on your canvas, will all be easier if you have technical skill and practice in your toolbox. But right now you’re still creating, and creating art no less, and that rules.

    8. Sloanicota*

      I am team Always Try It, but I’d also caution to find the right environment that will nurture your curiosity and enthusiasm as an adult learner who is not trying to go pro. For whatever reason, I have often found myself dealing with teachers who are pained if I’m not more serious and committed, I guess because they feel that is their purpose in being there (I talked last week about not going back to Doggy Agility because my dog and I are clearly just Not Cut Out For Crufts – except, that wasn’t what we were about?). So “Doggy Open Fun Night” would be more of our speed, but not a class with an instructor. Maybe look for the lowest barrier opportunity first, like maybe a paint n sip, to build confidence before you start something like a weekly class with a teacher. Just my experience though.

      1. Sloanicota*

        To clarify, there is an element of play that may be missing in most adult offerings. What I really want when I’m trying to pick up a new skill is JOY – un-self-conscious exploration in service to creativity, tapping into the childlike mind. These things are missing in my life since I entered school and then a career that values Outcomes and Efficiency and Orderliness. Unfortunately, many instructors are deeply wedded to “my role is to inform you how to do this correctly.” I find that musician instructions are often orderly conscientious people, bless them, and so was my watercolor instructor, and a ceramics teacher I had last year. So was this agility instructor. As a result, we don’t mesh well. I need to carefully select venues that won’t be annoyed by my lack of professionalism. That may not be at all your bag, though. This is apparently a weird part of my personality that not everyone has.

        1. kina lillet*

          I both agree and disagree with you here. I think it’s axiomatic that in order to enjoy a fun hobby you…well…have to enjoy it and thinks it’s fun!

          But it is a little funny to me that you object to instructors that are wedded to instructing. I’m a beginner amateur woodcarver, and I really really enjoy it. I also enjoy learning how to get better at it, because that means thinking about it and engaging with it and playing with it.

          It’s definitely not childlike, but honestly the more I learn the more joy I can access.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Oh I definitely think a lot of people experience the Joy Of Doing This Right. I’ve just come to realize for myself that this is not the joy I’ve been lacking in my life, and it’s often not the itch I’m trying to scratch when I want to start a new activity. OP may not have the same feeling at all.

        2. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I am trying to encourage this trait in myself. I took piano as a kid and just started lessons again. This is entirely for fun. I’m never going to perform (because I’m a grownup now and can say “no thank you” to the recital). I was prepared to “audition” teachers until I found one who was encouraging and not focused on performance. I got lucky on the first try.

          I have also been playing around with making glass beads, which I enjoy. I enjoyed it more before I took a workshop last spring. The workshop was billed for “advanced beginners” and above, and I was assured that I was an advanced beginner…and everyone else was way, way, way more skilled than I was. All my (not so latent) perfectionism and shame got activated and I’ve hardly touched my torch since then. Sigh.

          1. Sloanicota*

            -All my (not so latent) perfectionism and shame got activated – this exactly. There’s a switch in my head that’s like Oh This Is A Competition Now and it sucks all the pleasure out of an activity for me, so in my hobby life I need to ensure that switch does not get activated.

    9. crookedglasses*

      I leaned how to paint in my late 20s! I was working at an arts nonprofit at the time and staffed a demo that one of our oil painting instructors was doing. He made it seem very approachable (I had always been wildly intimidated by oil painting) so I signed up for the next beginner class that he was teaching. I ended up really taking to it, took several more classes, and still break out my paints a few times a year.

      I think a lot of folks come to visual arts a little later in life, especially for media that don’t get taught as commonly in school. Good luck!

    10. A Girl Named Fred*

      The one thing I keep reminding myself whenever I think I might be “too old” to start something is that I’ve had hobbies I wanted to start for years, and if I’d have just dove in when I first had the urge to I’d already have 1/5/10 years of practice behind me instead of still having that wistful “what if I tried [hobby]?” thought in the back of my head. It doesn’t always get me moving immediately, but it helps in fighting back against that, “But others have more experience already!” voice.

      Be right back, I’m going to go clean up my crafting desk so I can actually work on something soon!

      1. Magda*

        I think this all the time too. Sometimes I fret that I’m too old to start something, but I’ll always realize in retrospect I wasn’t “too old” five years ago when I thought I was, and I wish I’d done it then, so the least I can do is not fall into the same trap again. It’s like that phrase, “the best time to plant a tree is 50 years ago. The second best time is today.” (Not mathematically accurate, but emotionally true). This is still the youngest I will ever be again!

    11. OyHiOh*

      I have been around art my entire life. I did not start making visual art until I was 42. I’ve won ribbons and awards, I’ve been accepted into juried shows after ranting about how I was never going to try again. I’ve sold art, and had artists who I am in awe of compliment my work and talk about it as if we are equals.

      The technical skills of art are relatively easy to pick up. The artistic skills, to an extent come from a lifetime of experience. A person in their twenties can say more about the depth of beauty than a teenager, because you have seen and experienced more.

      One of my favorite local artist friends tells people who are just starting out that you’ll throw away the first 200 pieces you make. I think the he’s exaggerating a bit, but he makes a good point – that when you begin, you make pieces to learn from.

      Grandma Moses is the classic example of someone who began painting quite late in life, and probably half my local artist community is made up of people who began creating art around the time they retired (because they finally had time for it).

    12. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I took up photography in my 40s. And it’s just for me, just a creative outlet, so I don’t really compare myself to others. I absolutely DO look at others, and have learned a lot from seeing and evaluating what and why I like and dislike what I see. But it’s not a comparison.
      One quote I really like is from Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst.” – and it’s absolutely true. It can take a lot of making mediocre art to learn how to make better art. And that’s okay.
      Start painting. Don’t compare. Enjoy the process, the learning and the growth. Start today and keep at it and in a few months you’ll see consistent improvement, and in 5 years you’ll see far more progress than you can imagine today.

    13. Generic Name*

      I suggest watching Bob Ross. In an art like painting, I suggest that there’s no such thing as “messing up”. I mean, look at any abstract art. The point of art isn’t to perfectly execute something. There are many definitions of art, and there’s lots of disagreement on what art is, but I think most agree that perfection or “not messing up” isn’t part of a working definition.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Yeah, he’s got great things to say (even if you don’t want to paint along!)

        YouTube is wonderful for this. You can paint away, and no art teacher will come to look. I do watercolour – I need something easy to pack down – and have learned so much from Paul Clark, Emily Olson, Karen Rice, and Lois Davidson.

        I wish I’d got into it in my mid-20s when I had no children and lots of spare time to practice! But back then I was busy getting good at sewing *shrugs*

    14. carcinization*

      My grandma started painting when she was, well, a grandma, so definitely older than 25! She took some classes and then painted so many pictures of so many different things! Some of them are good — like, people come to my house and compliment them, then are surprised my grandma painted them. If you’re in your mid-20s you have plenty of time to become a person who has painted for years, it doesn’t matter if you’re not at that stage now!

    15. just another queer reader*

      Agreed with everyone who talks about art as an act of creation, because as humans we love to create!

      I paint sometimes and have some other hobbies on rotation too. It’s a fun thing to pull out occasionally. I’m not terribly good at it, but that doesn’t matter to me!

      You can get some canvases and paint and paintbrushes from an art supply store for probably $30, lay an old towel down on your table, and have at it! I hope you have a really good time.

    16. cat in cardboard box*

      The books “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Play” (I found out about the second as it was referenced in the first) finally gave me the last bit of push I needed to pick up painting in my mid-30s. (The thesis is basically that play is REQUIRED for, not just important to, our health/functioning/well-being as humans.) I thought that acrylic on canvas (or paper, of course) would be the easiest to start with, and I didn’t do a ton of research, but it’s worked well for me. I just used one of those perennial online Michael’s coupons to buy the 48 color starter pack (one step above the cheapest, I believe), plus a few cheap brush sets and a few basic canvases, and although I’ve added more supplies over time I’m still working quite a bit from my starting supplies. I keep reminding myself that I am not doing it for anyone but me, and like anything else that you repeat lots of times, it’s become easier to believe. The key things that I needed to implement were (1) *scheduled* time to work on art, as otherwise it’s definitely something that I never get around to and (2) the scheduled time being free of pressure, so that if I’m not feeling it that day, no guilt for letting it go. Turns out (2) is much harder for me than (1), but I’m excited because I finally worked on my current long-unfinished painting a few days ago! One thing that I like to do, especially when I’m not feeling up to working on a longer project, is to paint blank greeting cards and postcards and send them to friends. No matter whether it’s an occasion like a birthday/thank you or just a random card, people love fun mail, and I always take a photo before sending so I still have that to remember the project by. I guess that might go against the “not doing it for anyone but me” statement, but I have found that people who don’t paint are impressed even with my barely-existent painting abilities, and artists really don’t criticize either because they know the vulnerability that comes with showing your work to others.

    17. HannahS*

      This may not resonate with you, but for me, something that snapped me out of that sort of thinking was realizing that it was actually really arrogant to secretly hold an expectation that I’d be able to just *do* things without having to put in the time, and that it devalued other people’s work.

      Like most (ahem, recovering) perfectionists, I find it easy to slide into self-criticism, and a thousand people telling me to be gentle with myself is basically just noise. It helped me to think about how actually, it’s pretty rude to look at the work of someone more experienced and think that I should be able to do what they do without putting in the same amount of work. Like, why would I think that? Do I secretly think that I’m smarter, or better, or more talented than they are? Giving myself that little shake really did help me see that it’s actually fine, and normal, and even GOOD that other people are better at their hobbies than I am. They worked harder than me! They SHOULD be better!

      OK now go have fun :)

    18. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If you live an average lifespan, you have about 50 years left to get good at any skill you start learning today. 50 years is plenty of time to get good at anything.

    19. Aristotle*

      (Oops! sent that earlier message too soon)

      I’m also a recovering perfectionist, and I started knitting in my 30s. It was a weirdly freeing experience for me, probably because knitting felt “niche” enough, that I knew that NO ONE cared whether I was any good at knitting!

      I felt like I could just bumble around and “play” at knitting just for myself, and there weren’t any consequences to making mistakes. (In fact, this turned out to be extra true for this particular craft, since knitting is very forgiving. There are very, very few mistakes in knitting that can’t be fixed or ignored.)

      It was so nice to pick up an activity where I could feel zero pressure to be good, and I could just enjoy the process: picking out pretty colors and patterns, watching YouTube to figure out a new stitch, experiencing the joy of finally getting a stitch after having to try many times, ending up with a cozy hat at the end of all of it, etc.

      It’s been really healthy for me, honestly. I *think* I’m starting to be able to apply this kind of mindset to other areas of my life — not always successful! But it’s a start!

      I feel you on the pressure to learn things early. Our culture doesn’t seem to give us good examples of people having fun and learning new things after a certain age, but I’ve definitely seen it happen in my personal life. My mom’s a recently retired schoolteacher, and she has picked up photography. She learned entirely through books and online tutorials, and has been able to start a small photography business and even won a local photography contest! She’s tapering off of the business now, because decided she didn’t want another full-time job. She just wanted to enjoy herself.

      Hope you find something that you can enjoy, too!

    20. Numbat*

      I started painting as an adult and did so because I like the feeling of moving a brush around and applying paint to paper. I remind myself often that the actual doing of painting is the thing I enjoy, and that I’m showed to just about doing it without creating something spectacular. I also signed up for a trial membership of SkillShare and did some classes.

  17. ThatGirl*

    This is all pretty hypothetical, but some new townhomes are going to be built near us in the next year or two, and we’re considering it as an option for our next house.

    My question is, has anyone bought into a brand new townhome community? What are things to look out for both in terms of construction and HOA-related things? We currently live in a townhome but it’s well-established so there was no newness or getting everything set up.

    1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      At least in my city, there have been a slew of problems with newly constructed places, so I would first of all find out the name of the construction company and do some basic searches on whether they’ve had any legal problems, or have been mentioned in the news.
      In terms of construction, look closely at corners and seams for signs of shoddy work. Are there any weird gaps below the kitchen cabinets? Any weird little gaps on window frames/flashing on the outside? Can the realtor give you any details on warranties for stuff like windows, heating/cooling systems, appliances? Run the faucets and check under sinks and in the basement for drips– a lot of the horror stories I’ve heard are plumbing related, and obviously there’s only so much you will be able to see, but whatever you can do to stress-test the pipes during a walk-through, I think is worth doing.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        find out the name of the construction company and do some basic searches on whether they’ve had any legal problems, or have been mentioned in the news

        Definitely this. My sibling and ex-spouse bought in a brand new development and less than a year later, they bailed because the house was starting to fall apart. It looked okay, but it just…wasn’t.

    2. Anono-me*

      If you think that you might be in the townhouse for a long time, look at how the budget is allocated. Many new build townhomes set their monthly fees as low as possible in order to be more attractive to new buyers. This is often done by keeping the contingency and long term maintenance portions of the budget very low.

      1. Sloanicota*

        To be fair, I assume the initial expenses of long term maintenance would be quite low, so relatively small amounts set aside and left to compounding interest isn’t necessarily a problem yet? Just that they would increase, yes, as the building gets older.

        1. Anono-me*

          It is a question of ‘How small is the amount being set aside for the reserves?” It isn’t a near term problem.
          Yes, some maintenance beyond the yearly will start to pop up at 5 +/- years, but most things won’t start to need major investment until about 20 years in the future.

          So if the reserves portion is the bare minimum the questions are:
          How long are you planning on staying? If you’re there long enough, this will probably mean deferred maintenance and or a special assessment.
          Will other residents vote to significantly increase the monthly dues to have a larger reserve budget ? If so, your dues might go up significantly.
          Will having a small reserves budget scare off future buyers when you go to sell?

          Personally, a small reserve budget wouldn’t scare me off of a new build townhome, but it would be something to consider as part of the overall process .

      2. Anona*

        It also depends on how the HOA is structured. My townhome community has significantly lower dues than local condos, but that’s because we are responsible for roof replacements, hvacs repairs, siding issues, etc. With no pool, the HOA really just covers snow removal, landscaping, fence maintenance, and an eventual parking lot redo.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, our current HOA covers everything exterior (except the windows) so they paid for new roofs, for instance. But hvac is ours to do. Definitely would want that all clear.

    3. Tib*

      Make sure you get a home inspection just like you would with an older unit. And check how the HOA plans to build up the reserve fund.

  18. anonymous slav*

    I was reminiscing on the polka played in our house growing up. My dad had a vinyl LP of a German polka album, presumably for kids(?) that had two people in some kind of rodent costumes. I’m not sure what they were supposed to be. I’m hesitant to say chipmunks, because it is definitely NOT the Alvin variety. They did song in high pitched voices etc. I’m trying to track it down but cannot find the name of it. We were 70’s/80s kids, so probably from around that era, possibly earlier.

    My family is from a Slavic country that isn’t Germany, so I never understood the lyrics.

    Does this sound familiar to anyone? lol

    1. Anima*

      Maybe Frederik Vale? I had a cassette with songs by him, but the cover was a girl doing something, not Chipmunks or squirrels. But the music you describe sounds like it, maybe.
      Though I’m an 80s/90s kid…

      1. anonymous slav*

        I don’t think that’s it from the photos I found online, but thanks for your response. The photos I found looked like drawings of animals. The one we had was a photograph of people wearing animal costumes. There might have been other people with them, I don’t recall for sure.

        1. sagewhiz*

          Which country? If Czech, I correspond with a distant relative there. He and his wife are quite knowledgeable about folk music, and I could ask for you.

          1. anonymous slav*

            it was German language. I think it was modern and not folk. Now I think of it, if might not have been polka, though we did have lots of polka albums. The animals were singing and/or talking and iirc, there was another non animal person interacting with them.

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      My only suggestion is that the animals might have been alpine marmots – apparently they used to be kept to ‘dance’ to the music of travelling musicians. But it hasn’t helped me find anything!

  19. Jackalope*

    Sorry this is a bit late, everyone! What are you reading? Please share, and give or ask for recommendations!

    I just finished (literally less than a minute ago) Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. It was good and well-written and I enjoyed it, but it was pretty heavy. Also, long – 548 pages. But I’ve read it now!

    1. sewsandreads*

      I’m reading two:
      1. The Magic of Ordinary Days
      2. American Duchess

      Not sure how much I’m liking American Duchess. Love reading about aspects of the time period, but I think the narration is throwing me. I’ve just started the Magic of Ordinary Days (TikTok kept reminding me about the movie so I decided it was high time to read it). Hoping it’s as fluffy as I remember the movie being, but my memories could also be a bit fuzzy!

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m also reading (well, listening to the audiobook) of Demon Copperhead. I was hesitant to start it because I’m not a fan of Dickens and I know that it’s a modern retelling but I’m about half of the way through it and enjoying it. I’m a little worried that the good bit of Demon’s life I’m in isn’t going to last but, as always with Barbara Kingsolver, it’s very well written.

      I would, however, like to recommend Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt. I read it a few weeks ago and just adored it: Marcellus the octopus has such a fantastic voice that I was drawn in because of him.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      I tried Holding by Graham Norton because I enjoy cozy murder mysteries, but I couldn’t get past a few chapters. One of the characters is fat and the clichés kept piling up. Very annoying.
      I’m now re-reading The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman. I needed something light and overall positive.

      1. PhyllisB*

        If you like cozies, you might enjoy one I just finished: The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thurgood. It was hyped as similar to Agatha Christie. A good comparison, but no one beats Dame Agatha!! (Sorry Robert!!)
        I thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s short (less than 300 pages) and very entertaining. Best of all, it’s the start of a series!!

    4. Angstrom*

      Last Train to Memphis, the Elvis Presley biography. Very well written. Gives a great sense of the kid before the star.

    5. germank106*

      Reading “Unnatural History” by Jonathan Kellerman. I was on the waiting list at my library for what seems like forever, but the book was just released at the beginning of this month.
      It’s Book #38 in the Alex Delaware/Milo Sturgis series and as usual it can be read as part of the series or as a stand alone. I’m 9 chapters in and it shapes up to be another who done it with some psychological problems.

    6. Sloanicota*

      I just finished the House on the Cerulean Sea and Every Heart a Doorway, and to be honest, I didn’t care for either one – just not my style, too twee, not enough going on. This was my first venture into YA-ish books lately, and it might not be for me.

      1. word nerd*

        There are plenty of cozy books and YA books I like, but I’m with you, I didn’t love with House on the Cerulean Sea. I had trouble connecting with the main character, so I found the book hard to get into when I didn’t really care what happened to him.

      2. AGD*

        I read both last year, and neither did it for me either. However, I LOVE YA books and wouldn’t have thought to describe either of these as YA-ish, if that helps. Both of them are idiosyncratic fantasies about some young characters, but they didn’t feel like typical YA books to me. YA books these days (even those belonging to “genre” fiction) often have a straightforward, clear-eyed view of e.g. societal power dynamics that is harder to find in “adult” fiction.

        1. word nerd*

          I feel like if a book has:
          1. fantasy
          2. children as significant characters
          3. not a ton of violence/explicit sex
          then there’s some tendency to think of it as a children’s book, regardless of what it’s technically marketed as.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah Cerulean is an odd example, because the main character is an office worker trying to deal with bureaucracy – so not at all a YA theme – but it’s handled in a very YA way IMO, and there are significant child characters running about, and is a bit light generally (and fantasy, a rather childlike fantasy world at that, except with this bureaucracy overlaid on top). So it’s not YA but it felt very inspired by it.

    7. Big Moody Curve*

      Digger, the graphic novel by Ursula Vernon. Actually rereading for the third time straight – I can’t think when a book has grabbed me this hard. It sounds so silly when I try to describe it. An anthropomorphic wombat as the main character, plus snarky hyenas, prophetic slugs, a pirate shrew turned professional bridge troll, vampire squash. But it’s anything but silly. In particular, it has left me pondering how society ignores any harm done by powerful people, but comes down hard if the powerless try to fight back.

      Also, the hyena Boneclaw Mother can take her place alongside Granny Weatherwax and Miss Marple – those elderly women who know exactly when to seem feeble and dotty, and when to bare their (metaphorical or literal) teeth.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Digger is awesome! It was my first experience with Vernon’s work; since then I’ve become devoted to her range of writing, from little-kid books like Danny Dragonbreath and Hamster Princess to her T. Kingfisher books ranging from reimagined fairytales to fascinating horror novels inspired by classic works (The Twisted Ones, The Hollow Place, etc.).

      2. OtterB*

        I adore Digger and have read it multiple times over the years. I agree that it has a great mix of the amusing and the thought provoking, sometimes in the same panel.

        “Has a name!”

      3. word nerd*

        All right, you’ve convinced me to put it on hold at the library, not least because I love wombats.

        1. Big Moody Curve*

          Well, I started to mention that Digger is available legally and for free online. But something seems to have happened to the hosting website. I think it’s more enjoyable on paper in any case, even though it was originally a webcomic. There’s a lot of it (800 pages), and the online page loading can get tedious.

          I learned some stuff about wombats! I didn’t know about their armor-plated rumps (cartilage). I had also forgotten that they are marsupials. Digger, in a discussion of the birth process: “Placental mammals are DISGUSTING.”

          1. word nerd*

            I definitely remember being envious of marsupials when I was pregnant. Imagine being able to birth a little jelly bean and then being able to peek inside your pouch any time after that to see how your baby was getting along and how big they got.

    8. word nerd*

      Some of my reads this week:

      The Dictionary of Lost Words–I was surprised to find myself not that into this one, and it was a slog to finish. I normally adore books about dictionaries, but maybe mostly nonfiction books about dictionaries?

      The Circle–brought up a couple weeks ago in the reading thread–I had trouble engaging with the main character, but there were some amusing parts about the giant tech company that I’m assuming were satirical. :)

      Tess of the d’Urbervilles–well-written but so depressing and infuriating that I got very worked up and had to follow it with…

      The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel–funny and sweet and feel-good. The perfect antidote to Tess, basically.

      I’m starting the graphic novel Ducks this weekend after it was mentioned here last month, pretty good so far!

    9. just talk to people*

      Children of Time and now Children of Ruin, Adrian Tchaikovsky. Fantastic space opera, haven’t read anything like it in a while.

      1. clownfish*

        I just started reading One Day All This Will Be Yours by Tchaikovsky and am enjoying it a lot – very good main character voice! Is Children of Time similarly fun, or more of a slow and serious read? I keep seeing people reading it on goodreads and am considering picking it up :)

        1. just talk to people*

          I haven’t read One Day All This Will Be Yours.

          Children of Time is third person, not first; and is not funny but has compelling, very human characters –– even those that aren’t human, and even the presumptive villains. It’s a first contact novel on an epic scale with a surprising ending. Similar science fiction might include Foundation and Canticle for Leibowitz. It took me maybe 60-75 pages to really get into it, but the more I read, the more fascinating and moving I found it.

    10. Tortally HareBrained*

      I started ‘A Tiding of Magpies” which is book 4 in Steve Burrows Birder Murder series. This is perfectly on genre for me as a lover of murder mysteries and an avid birder. I think sometimes the author forgets that we aren’t in his brain though with the backstory of the characters. But they are enjoyable either way.

      For my book club (science non-fiction themed) we are reading The Last Stargazers by Emily Levesque which would make an outstanding magazine article but I’m struggling to make it through an entire book. It is stories and insight on what it is like to be a modern astronomer.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’ve read a couple of Burrows’ “birder” mysteries – A Siege of Bitterns and A Shimmer of Hummingbirds; they are fun, and are definitely bird-watching-centric!

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          A Shimmer of Hummingbirds has been my favorite so far. We got to meet the brother in the book before that A Cast of Falcons, which helped with extra engagement.

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      I just finished The Starless Sea after my daughter urged me to read it. I liked it, but didn’t quite love it. Fascinating premise and world building, but it was a slow, meandering read and I was kind of relieved when I was done.

      1. Jackalope*

        I loved that book but I can understand why many people didn’t. I mostly enjoyed reading it and letting the beautiful language flow through my mind, but if one was looking for things like plot and characterization it was somewhat lacking.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          Now that I know what to expect, I might read it again later and just enjoy the language and the imagery.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Current reads include:

      Death in the Andes, by Mario Vargas Llosa: strange tales-within-tales novel set in a remote village in the Peruvian Andes and featuring elements of political oppression – and Dionysian myth…

      All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, which opens with a grisly discovery: the axe-murder of the wife in a young family who’d recently moved in to a farmhouse they’d bought via foreclosure. The writing’s lovely, and the atmosphere increasingly spooky – not merely for the family tragedies (yes, plural) and the painful results of economic disaster but for ghostly presences in the house itself…

      Could You Survive Midsomer? by Simon Brew, a choose-your-own-path book based on the long-running “Midsomer Murders” TV series (and the original novels); here, you’re the new detective, faced with choices as to which clues to follow, whether or not to break procedural rules, how much risk to take in chasing a fleeing suspect… and the results can range from successfully wrapping up the case to ignominious failure to outright death. [The possible endings are all grouped at the end of the book, under a “Performance Review” section, with commentary as to how it worked out (or didn’t) and what, if any, this says about your potential future as a detective!]

      And on audiobook:

      Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes, narrated by Simon “my favorite narrator ever” Vance and Neil Patrick Harris; it’s presented as a guide to the school for “deletionists” (aka assassins), and bits of it remind me of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld assassins-guild – as well as the film “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” based on the novel Israel Rank, in which dark-comedy murder-plots abound.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        That was terrific! If you haven’t read it already, I also recommend Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton.

        I just started The Glitch by Elisabeth Cohen and I’m loving it – I was getting into kind of a funk but this has been great.

    13. OtterB*

      I just read Malka Older’s new The Mimicking of Known Successes. It’s a short book with a kind of gaslamp fantasy, Sherlock Holmesish feel intertwined with science fiction. The setting is in colonies in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, connected by rail lines. One protagonist is a detective and the other is her former girlfriend, a scholar studying ways to restore the ravaged ecosystem of Earth. I enjoyed the mix of setting, characters, and plot.

    14. Aphrodite*

      I have a lot of home decor magazines from years past. While I still subscribe to most of them (that are not gone) I find their quality has deteriorated noticeably. So I enjoy on occasion rereading the ones of years gone by. And that is what I am doing now. I’ve started with Domino and then will likely go on to what used to be my absolute favorite, House Beautiful. (What a shame it has gone so far downhill from what it used to be, though.)

      1. Retired Accountant*

        I feel the same way about Runners’ World. I really only still subscribe to it for sentimental reasons.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          We could almost make a whole separate thread about magazines that aren’t what they used to be. Mine would be Reader’s Digest plus most of the cooking magazines I’ve bought in the past few years. Beautiful pictures and really second-rate recipes.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m re-reading Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson–I go on a kick with her stuff a couple times a year, she’s so great! Also Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, which is fascinating. Oh, and Either/Or, by Elif Bautman, which I highly recommend, she is so wry and funny.

      Next up is Horror Stor, a zombie novel set in an IKEA-like furniture store.

      1. word nerd*

        I love Shirley Jackson. I normally don’t read horror, but I read her horror novels anyway because her writing and stories are so well-crafted.

    16. Brrr*

      Last night I finished Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce. It’s the 3rd book of hers that I’ve read in the past 2 months and as I finish each book I think that was my favorite one yet! But then I recall the previous ones and decide nope I truly can’t pick a favorite. I actually purchased a new physical copy of her latest book, Maureen, even though I almost always get my reading material from the library. But the wait list at the library was 6 months long and I just couldn’t bear it!

    17. Saddy Hour*

      I’m reading Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees. I’m still pretty early in — the writing is quite beautiful and flowery, and it was published in 1926 so there are some common language hurdles on my end. I’m taking my time to get through it and enjoy the prose the way it was intended. I like it a lot so far! It probably shouldn’t surprise me this much, but Mirrlees makes points about class and society that could be written in the last decade. I spend a lot of my reading time with this one stopping to go “ooo! ohhhh!! woaaaahhh!” which is pretty delightful for me.

      I’m not sure if anyone else is doing the Storygraph 2023 reading challenge. The first prompt is to read a book with more pages than the longest book you read in 2022. My longest book last year was 528 pages. I hadn’t heard of Demon Copperhead, but I love Barbara Kingsolver and the rave reviews here are encouraging. I’m adding it to my options for the challenge this year!

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I’d never heard of this Storygraph challenge but it actually looks super fun, thanks for mentioning it!

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I’m reading Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby, it’s interesting to learn more about her so far.

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            I meant “listening to the audiobook”, oops. It’s read by her, too. I especially enjoy books read by the author.

    18. Bluebell*

      My looong read of the week was Paris by Edward Rutherford. Similar to his book New York – several different families interact over many hundreds of years of the city’s history. I definitely learned a lot and kept referring to a Paris map, which was fun. As light reading, The Sister Effect by Susan Mallery was the least enjoyable of any books of hers I’ve read. Both lead characters had to forgive siblings who did awful things. And in what universe can a waitress live in Seattle and save thousands of dollars over 6 months? Am reading Night of the Living Rez slowly. Looking forward to reading Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone- a friend recommended it.

    19. Broken scones*

      I started reading HALF OF A SOUL by Olivia Atwater on a whim and it’s delightful. It’s a historical fantasy (with I’m thinking a dash of romance later on). It’s fun and reminds me of SOULLESS by Gail Carriger.

  20. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Everyone share what you’re playing this week. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    My D&D group just finished up a mystery we were working on, and we’re getting ready to move on to the next thing. We tied up the final loose ends this week. It’s been awhile since we had a proper treasure hunt, so when our DM dangled one in front of us we decided to bite.

    1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Chugging along in Like a Dragon: Ishin and loving it. The substories and minigames are Peak Yakuza Bananapants and it’s great.

      I’ve also been grinding in Dragon Quest VII on the 3DS to fall asleep at night. It’s cute and fun and nice light bedtime fare.

  21. goddessoftransitory*

    I get physically hungry on the regular, but definitely also eat for a multitude of non-tummy reasons.

  22. Neurodivergent in Germany*

    Looking for home remedies against the common cold, both for prevention and treatment.

    With a kid in preschool, we’ve been coughing and sniffling nonstop since October.
    We have hot baths and drink lemon tea, i.e. lemon juice, honey and sometimes crushed ginger in hot water. And we eat as much garlic as possible.
    What has helped you?

    1. Double A*

      There’s no treatment for colds (as in, something that helps.cleae the infection faster like and anti-viral), just symptom management. So the tea etc. help with that! I mean honestly I also break out the cold medicine. I’ll especially give my kids expectorant to help with coughs if coughs are making it hard for them to sleep, because sleep and fluid are the most important treatments. The kid versions, of course, following dosing recommendations and doctors orders if applicable.

      As for prevention, it’s the same as for covid. Masks helps, hand washing helps, limiting contact with others help. Disinfecting surfaces. Avoiding touching your face as much as possible. To be honest we don’t do much of these except hand washing and the adults can try to limit our face touching. I try to make sure my kids wash their hands before we leave the house and after we get home and if we’re out together I try to have them wash or sanitize their hands a few times. But they get sick at school, and it’s just inevitable. For us, really the only way out has been through. We’ve been miserable A LOT since the fall. So I feel you.

    2. Rekha3.14*

      We have a humidifier and do the saline nose rinsing. I find that I personally am healthier and have fewer symptoms if I rinse almost daily, even when I’m not developing symptoms. We rinse the kiddos nose when she’s symptomatic (she is not fond of it and still doesn’t blow her nose on her own; she’s 3). My Mil swore by “pepper tea” when sick (hot water with ground fresh pepper). Sometimes she does have a cough she just can’t shake for a while, mostly at night (apparently this could be related to asthma, which they can’t diagnose so young, so we wait and see). Good luck – it’s so hard with sick littles!

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        I’ll have to try rinsing! My girl doesn’t blow her nose yet, either and hates having it cleaned with a bulb syringe.

        And pepper tea sounds right up my husband’s alley. Thank you!

    3. 00ff00Claire*

      There’s some evidence that probiotics supplements can decrease susceptibility to viruses, both from infection and symptom severity. Unfortunately, it’s not a well-studied area, but on the other hand, most people can tolerate probiotics and some people find them helpful for digestive function.

      Getting as much sleep as you possibly can each night might help. I found that to be helpful when I was teaching young kids and exposed to lots of colds, especially if I could get an extra 1-2 hours by going to bed early at the first sign of a cold. That’s not always easy, but I found it helped me bounce back faster. The actual medicine that made the most difference for me when I did get a cold was Mucinex + lots of water to help thin the mucus and get the gunk out.

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        hmm, we could try probiotics.
        And I agree, more sleep would certainly help.
        Unfortunately, the aforementioned preschooler has a sleep disorder. My immune system is a lot worse for it

    4. sagewhiz*

      A tip I learned from a nutritionist & holistic practitioner years ago, which does work:

      The first sign of a cold coming on will be a scratchy feeling at the back of the throat. As soon as that’s noticed, drink something very hot, then take a long, hot shower (as hot as you can stand), followed by bundling up in the warmest clothes & blankets, while drinking more hot liquids. Unlike flu, colds are caused by bacteria, which the heat can successfully kill off. You must act quickly, as you have just five hours to knock it out.

      1. Pippa K*

        Nope, colds are caused by viruses (several different types, including rhinoviruses and others). I’m all for hot liquids and cosy blankets, but bacteria (1)aren’t causing your cold and (2) require temps of like 140F or higher to kill them, which isn’t really feasible for the human body.

      2. Generic Name*

        No. This is categorically wrong. Colds are caused by a variety of viruses and are NOT caused by bacteria.

      3. RussianInTexas*

        Colds are caused by viruses.
        Bacterial infections are caused by, well, bacteria. Many will require antibiotics to clear out.

        1. sagewhiz*

          Whoops, my bad for the bacteria bit! But the “remedy” has worked for me and several other people I know.

    5. Aphrodite*

      Masks. No kidding. Plus my usual (that is, way pre-Covid) routine of not touching things directly that others touch. These include but are not limited to things used in both personal and professional life: door handles, faucets, street push buttons for “walk,” copiers, pens, etc.

    6. onyxzinnia*

      Not sure if you can get it in Germany, but Throat Coat herbal tea makes a huge difference if you have a sore throat. Sitting with your face over a steaming bowl of water with a towel on your head to keep the heat trapped helps with congestion. I’m also a big fan of taking Theraflu before bed to help you sleep.

      As far as preventative, handwashing and disinfecting surfaces are a big one in our house. We also drink bone broth and Emergen C to keep our immune systems up.

      1. Chaordic One*

        There are several varieties of tea called “Throat Coat” for sale in my area of the U.S. made by a company called “Traditional Medicinals.” Google them. The original “Throat Coat” tea made with slippery elm is wonderful for a sore throat. More recently they’ve added a “Throat Coat Lemon Echinachea” and “Throat Coat Eucalyptus” that are good, but I prefer the original. I find it at my local Walmart or Kroger grocery stores. They used to be displayed in the OTC medicine department, but lately they’ve been displayed with the regular and herbal teas (next to the coffee), but you can order it from their website, too.

        Also, something that soothes a sore throat is hot Dr. Pepper (the soda pop soft drink). Pour the Dr. Pepper into a cup and nuke it in the microwave for 45 seconds or so.

    7. carcinization*

      If you look up “Forest Nui Cobalt Flu Shot” you’ll find a recipe for a similar drink with some spices added, that my husband and I have found helpful. Forest does sell pre-made drink mixes of this, but googling that specifically comes up with the recipe rather than the pre-mixed version.

    8. Jazz and Manhattans*

      When I think I may be catching something,
      I make sure to either use disposable cups in the bathroom or change it out daily. I also switch off between using 2 toothbrushes each day (use one one day and the other the next). I want to ensure that if the bugs are hanging out on surfaces I give them time to die before I use the appliance again. I’ve read you can’t re-infect yourself but some years ago I just could not shake something and *as soon* as I did the above it went away.

    9. Waffles*

      https://kidseatincolor.com/elderberry-for-kids/

      This is an article about the potential for elderberry supplements to reduce the duration of colds/respiratory stuff. I think it’s worth trying! With very little kids it’s hard to avoid colds because in general no one (including me!) Keeps kids home with just a cold, and most preschools don’t mask anymore.

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        This!
        If we kept her home every time she has a runny nose, she would be out sick more than she is there.
        I will try if my picky eater accepts elderberry. She’s game to try new hot drinks as long as I make a big production out of it “we’re having a tea party! Cheers!” but so far she hasn’t liked any (well, except hot chocolate)

    10. Pocket Mouse*

      As soon as I notice I’m feeling sick, I drink two Emergen-C packets a day until I’m certain I’m on the mend- I’ve done this with a dozen plus colds, and can only remember one where I wasn’t convinced it helped. I especially enjoy it in hot water when I’m in the mood to be cozy.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        for managing symptoms, the old school salt water gargle helps with sore throats, and drinking pineapple juice helps for cough relief. My friend told me about the pineapple juice, weird but it helps me at least.
        Also, splurge on the extra soft tissues for colds. I can’t do the lotion ones myself. There’s a gel, I think its called ocean or ayr you can put on your nose when its red and painful that doesn’t sting.

        I can’t prove this works but a friend who is a nurse says to put a thin film of Neosporin on the inside of your nose before a flight. I still do this plus am still masking in general. It helps with the dry plane air at least.

    11. Namenlos*

      Anecdotal for prevention: Excercise in general and even more outdoors seems to help keep your immune system up. My husband commutes by bike (60min each way) 3-4 times per week while I commute 45min by car. He didn’t catch Covid or the flu when I came down with those.

    12. Squawkberries*

      Peppermint tea for congestion. Kiddos drink it lukewarm
      Its a bit spicy but if you steep a tea of cloves and honey, thats terrific. Cloves have natural antibiotic and antalgesic properties that help with sore throats and coughs (about as good ime as otc cough drop).

    13. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I’m in Germany too and this is what I always have on hand for a cold:
      – Fliederbeersaft (aka Holunderbeersaft, this country has too many names for everything). I add a good shot of it into a cup of hot water, then add lemon and honey. Tastes good and I like to imagine it helps.
      – Kamillenblüten and some kind of peppermint oil for inhaling before going to bed. I used to hate this and now I swear by it. Boil water, small pot, add 3 table spoons-ish Kamillenblüten plus a few (!!) drops of the peppermint oil. Put a towel over your head and sit in the steam for 15-20 minutes (remember to put on a podcast beforehand so you don’t die of boredom, or maybe that’s just me). I start doing it as soon as my nose starts getting a little stuffy, and I always feel so much better going to bed.

      Also some people in my family absolutely swear by Zwiebelsaft but I hate onions and can’t bring myself to investigate that further.

    14. eeeek*

      I agree with all of the comments about how to manage symptoms – the best ever I can do is ride it out. (Mom said “a cold lasts 7 days with medication, a week without…)
      I used to dose myself with Dayquil to be functional enough to go into the office and knock out a workday, but now I regret all the times I probably spread my virus to colleagues. Now, I WFH or —believe it or not— take one of my many banked sickdays. (Who knew that’s what they’re for? If you’ve got ’em, use ’em!)
      My favorite cozy tea is ginger tea (freshly grated or powdered ginger) with honey and lemon. The heat and spice feel like they break up the congestion.
      And if I really want to get the sinuses clear, there’s always the brute force method: wasabi…

    15. Peanut Hamper*

      We went through a bout of this years ago. As soon as one person started feeling better, someone else would start with the sniffles and sore throats.

      We ended up rinsing all the dishes (plates, bowls, glasses, silverware) in a mild bleach solution to disinfect them (just put them in the dish drainer and let them air dry), and then went around with Lysol disinfectant spray and hit every single thing that a hand touches: doorknobs, light switches, sink knobs, toilet handles, etc. About a week of this, and we finally stopped reinfecting each other.

    16. theguvnah*

      i swear by oil of oregano.
      I also do a ginger lemon drink near daily!
      i agree with other mentions of gut health and regular exercise – moving your lymph is important!
      Also if someone has a cold cut, out dairy – it can really help with reducing congestion.

    17. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      Thanks everyone for the tips and commiseration!
      Many new teas to try out!

  23. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m feeling a little nostalgic at the moment so I thought I’d throw this question out to the readers.

    For those of you who have moved far away from home, be it another country or another state, what are the things you miss the most from where you come from?

    I moved from the UK to Spain seven years ago this April and while I don’t miss much about my home country, I do miss the supermarkets and the sheer volume of selection they have in them compared with Spanish ones (chocolate raisins in particular!) and, of course, fish and chips.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m not too nostalgic – living in London is overall a much better deal than sticking around in Italy. But boy do I find myself missing some of the homemade or bakery / deli food from my life back home.

      I love living in London because of the sheer variety of world cuisines I can try. Still, sometimes I get cravings for Italian dishes that are too niche to be found here, and I can’t recreate exactly at home.

      The fried dough balls filled with cream that are typical of our Carnival in February! Morning pastries filled with ricotta or pistachio cream! A good, not-too-bitter espresso at a bar! Fried calamari in the summer! Pumpkin gnocchi with smoked ricotta grated on top!

      I could go on for hours.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We went to Florence in January, and those pistachio cream filled pastries are a delight.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m British, married an American, lived in California for many years and now back in the UK. I really missed Marmite while I was in the US and would pay through the nose to buy imports. It also took me a long time to work out how to get decent quality chocolate there. I really missed hearing regional UK accents in America – obviously, you just don’t hear them as much there. And even though I think the British stiff upper lip/tendency towards emotional repression is generally a bad thing, people in California do sometimes go a bit too far in the opposite direction. (If you’ve just met me for the first time, you really don’t need to hug me, thanks.)

      Now we’re in the UK, my American husband misses American peanut butter (none of the British brands are up to his standards), so he has resorted to buying it online. He misses Wheat Thins too, and has also resorted to making his own ranch dip.

      As far as missing the US goes – I really miss the California sunsets, hummingbirds (and the flora and fauna in general) and hearing people speak Spanish. (Even though I live in a city with a very international population, you don’t hear Spanish as much.) But wherever you’re living, you’re going to miss something about somewhere else.

      1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

        I was totally going to mention the peanut butter!
        We lived in thr UK for a bit when I was younger and totally had a friend mail us some because it just wasn’t the same.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          My husband now has stashes of peanut butter all over the house because he’ll buy 5 jars online at a time! I don’t know why the peanut butter made it the UK isn’t as good – maybe it’s because we see it as an American thing and don’t make the effort.

    3. sewsandreads*

      I’ve moved back now, but when I was living interstate, I missed the beach! Growing up, I lived so close to the beach that I could go there almost daily if I wanted. When I moved, it was inland — the nearest beaches were a couple of hours or so away, which wasn’t the worst, but definitely a full day trip rather than a whim visit.

      When I was travelling, if I ever found myself getting homesick I’d make my next destination an oceanside one to wash away the feelings. I’m so glad I’ve moved back; I’m 5 minutes from the beach each day and it never fails to make me feel at peace.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I moved from the Midwest to Washington state, I missed Steak ‘n Shake.

      Now that I’ve moved back, I miss Taco Time and Kidd Valley. Also I miss seeing mountains. And decent public transit. (But I do not miss the weather or the cost of living.)

    5. Sloanicota*

      I really miss the linguistic quirks of northern England, where I grew up. It’s strangely isolating to have moved the US where nobody would recognize the musicality of my childhood. The up-tick at the end of the sentences, the construction of questions, the slang. I would like to go back and just sit on a corner listening to people talk. Sadly, I suspect it has already changed with exposure to more television and media.

    6. KatEnigma*

      Trees.

      When we lived in North Dakota, all the expanse of sky over the prairie is just so tiring to the eyes. Along the highways, but even in neighborhoods, there weren’t tons of trees. Every time we would travel to other places, we’d comment on how much better we felt for their being hills and trees.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is so funny to me, because I’m the opposite. I grew up in Nebraska, and I consider myself a “plains girl”. When I visit places with lots of trees, it feels oppressive and claustrophobic. I live in the West, and as soon as I get out of town and I can see the unbroken line of the horizon, I breathe a sigh of relief. I can feel peace. I like seeing the whole sky.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I feel that way in Missouri because where there are less trees, I can see the tornadoes coming. :D

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        Anytime I spend time away from Georgia, I miss the trees. Like, to the point of being a bit agoraphobic. If you’ve watched the early seasons of The Walking Dead, the end of Avengers Endgame, or Tag, you’ve seen what it looks like where I live. I love my excursions to the west, but I’m always relieved to retreat to Atlanta (which from the air looks like two clumps of high rises in a forest; you have to be on the ground to see that there is a city under all those trees).

    7. PhyllisB*

      I’m living where I grew up, but my youngest daughter moved to the Midwest and she says she misses Southern accents, Duke’s or Blue Plate mayonnaise (when we went to visit last summer I took her six jars.) And grits. Her daughter misses being able to get sweet iced tea in restaurants. Yes, you can add sugar to unsweetened, but it’s not the same.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        What part of the Midwest doesn’t have Duke’s in grocery stores? I buy it all the time. And sweet tea has gotten pretty ubiquitous, which is unfortunate for those who prefer it unsweetened.

        1. carcinization*

          I live in Texas and even here getting “unsweet” tea is no problem, it’s just that there are two options for iced tea rather than just unsweet that one has to sweeten oneself. Sad to hear that there may be places that only have sweet tea!

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I grew up in WA and when I lived other places I missed mild summer weather, Tillamook cheese, mountains, my family, and living in a blue state. Now that I’m back, I miss restaurants, work friends, and my general lifestyle from TX, cactuses and kid activities from AZ, and nothing at all from IL lol.

    9. Kix Vector*

      We spent three years in Bedfordshire (a few decades ago), moved there from the US. I missed fabric stores and my spouse missed hardware stores (there wasn’t anywhere close he could run to and get some lumber for shelves, etc.). We missed inexpensive fast food (we didn’t eat it a lot in the US but had it for a treat occasionally). We were able to shop at a military commissary so no problems getting good peanut butter, etc. When we moved back (to a fairly rural area), we missed pub lunches and every town having a wonderful bakery. We missed having a ton of neat old places to visit within a few hours drive, the ubiquity of park-and-ride, and PUBLIC TOILETS.

    10. 2QS*

      I’ve lived in a lot of places (this is just a partial list) and miss different things about each of them. I have no idea what kind of winter I would actually like, lol.

      London: Nearly everything. The history, the parks, the Tube, the shopping, the museums, the food and/or people from all over the world. I don’t miss the rain.

      PNW: I miss the oceans, beaches, and forests. Again, don’t miss the rain. Or the earthquakes. Or the New Age stuff.

      California: I miss the landscapes, plants, warmth, same ocean, and the amount of sun. Sunrises over the mountains, sunsets over the water. I don’t miss the lack of seasons, the traffic, droughts, fires, and earthquakes, or also the New Age stuff.

      Small-town inland New England: I miss the autumn colors, vibrant springs, indie businesses, and general ability to be outdoors a lot. I don’t miss the harsh winters there, or the not-great public transportation, or the general political rhetoric in those parts.

    11. 00ff00Claire*

      I’m from the Appalachian region of the southeast US, and I moved to Houston TX for a few years. When I lived there, I missed trees and variation in the landscape. Southeast TX is very flat and the city did not have as many trees as I was accustomed to, so I always felt exposed and it felt odd to see building after building and so much concrete. Even cities in my home state have lots of trees and get their nicknames from trees. I missed the soda Mountain Dew and other foods.

      When I moved back to my home state, I missed the food from Houston. Everywhere I ate there was great!

      1. OtterB*

        When I was in high school, we moved from Houston to Maryland (DC suburbs). My father said that we had more change of elevation in our front yard in the new house than there was in the 7 miles between our old house and his office in downtown Houston.

    12. Anima*

      It’s also food for me. It never occurred to me that eastern Germany (former DDR) has had it’s own distinctive cuisine, but I went to a restaurant with my parents recently that specialises in DDR food and it hit home. I’m always on the look out for typical eastern German products, like Nudossi and Leckermäulchen (think Nutella and a fluffy custard), because I live in western Germany now and those products are not always available (I feel the irony in this, ha).

    13. I'm Done*

      I’m now back in the US after having spent half of my life living overseas off and on. I miss the food like the bread and pastries, the insane variety of yogurts and quark, and cold cuts from Germany, plus the weekend markets, the Easter and Christmas markets, the castles, the wineries right next to where we lived, the wonderful public transportation and being able to walk everywhere. From France, where to start? I miss just about everything, Paris, Provence, Cote d’Azur, Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy, but foodwise especially Boudin Noir, the bread and pattiseries, the rhubarb yogurt and the fromageries and the wonderful language. From South Korea I miss the quirkiness. Just driving around the countryside you come across unexpected things in the middle of nowhere, the cute cafés that you find everywhere, the banchan (mostly pickled side dishes) that usually accompany all the meals, the beautiful artwork and Korean pottery, the people, hearing Korean spoken, now that I’m back in the US. I wish I could live in several countries at the same time. I love the US but I also love all the other countries where I had the fortune to live.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I have only ever “lived” in Europe for a month, twice, and another 2 week visit, and even I crave the bread. And I don’t know why almost no one in the US can manage to make a proper croissant. You can sometimes find good breads from different European specialty bakeries, but almost never croissants that are worth eating. We only stumbled upon a good croissant once, in a small bakery in the Little Italy section of Chicago.

        And is it me, but the Nutella in Germany tastes different than the Nutella sold in the US? I could look it up, but no doubt Hershey or Mars bought up Nutella rights in the US and is making their own version that’s not the same. (Like they now do for Cadbury)

    14. Ally*

      I’m from New Zealand, and I miss being able to go barefoot!

      In Europe there are snakes and, I don’t know, standards ;)

      1. Ally*

        Oh I also miss people saying “thanks driver!” while getting off the bus. It feels so rude to me to just leave, but it would be seen as truly insane here.

        During Covid I just used to mouth it silently behind my mask.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          They say that in Glasgow! (In Edinburgh you can say thanks, but calling someone ‘driver’ would be a bit odd. Too Glaswegian.)

        2. SarahKay*

          Come to Edinburgh in Scotland, lots of people say it here. And I agree, it would seem rude not to.

        3. Irish Teacher*

          In Ireland, saying “thank you” to the bus driver is absolutely expected. I agree just walking off seems rude, though I know logically, the bus driver probably doesn’t care.

          And we don’t have snakes either.

          (Honestly, I think New Zealand and Ireland have a lot in common, including a very similar number of people living in each.)

            1. QR Code*

              If it’s any help, I live in the US in a small town with a huge university, and take bus transportation to and from work. Mostly filled with students, the bus makes multiple stops, and nearly everyone shouts “Thank you!” as they step off. I love it.

        4. WestsideStory*

          In New York City it is common to hear someone say “thank you” to the bus driver when stepping off the bus. Mind you, it is generally the folks getting off the front of the bus rather than exiting through the rear door as always recommended (older folks with mobility issues, people carrying large shopping bags or strollers) and it is almost always the locals.

    15. Filosofickle*

      I grew up in Tucson, and I miss the Sonoran desert! I miss the mountains, valley vistas, saguaros, surprising wildflowers, monsoon lightning storms.

    16. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Moved to Maryland after college, and I missed great pizza, hoagies, and ethnic church picnic food, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, etc from PA. Now that I’m back in PA, I miss fresh seafood such as crab cakes, rockfish, and homemade biscuits and BBQ. But I’m so glad to be in the mountains again.

    17. ESus4*

      Grew up in Southern Illinois, now live in the Pacific Northwest USA, and I miss the fireflies!!!!

    18. Chaordic One*

      I miss the woods that surrounded my home town and all of the campgrounds and creeks where I would go fishing. We never actually went camping at any of the campgrounds, but would often picnic at them, hike around them, fish or swim in the lakes and streams around them and spend afternoons at them. When I lived there, I really didn’t appreciate them, but then I also never had anything to compare them to.

      I also find myself nostalgic for stores that have gone out of business, schools I’ve attended that have been torn down, restaurants that have closed.

  24. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I’m going to Rome next weekend. It’s not my first time and I’m Italian, so I’ve done all the mainstream tourist sights and walks, plus a few less known attractions (I’ve often been in the company of locals, not this time though).

    I want to find even more activities that are new to me, but my usual trick of looking for temporary exhibitions and gigs is failing me this time. Also, by now, my friends and family have all had the same experiences so wouldn’t have new recommendations.

    For those of you who have been, and done things off the tourist path: what did you do that you enjoyed? Where did you eat that you loved?

    Strictly within the city / public transport friendly as we won’t be able to rent a car (can consider getting taxis though not too often).

    1. Lifelong student*

      One of my favorite places which is a little off the beaten track is the Borghese Gallery. The sculptures are so wonderful- they look as if you could touch them the stone would react like a human body! As I recall, you have to obtain a ticket for a time.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Oh, this is a great tip. I must have been when I was a lot younger and not taken in much of the art because, hey, teenager on holiday with Dad. I’m much better equipped to fully appreciate it now. Thanks!

      2. Retired Accountant*

        Agree. The statues are stunning.

        I’ve wanted to go to the Etruscan museum but have not made it yet.

    2. MaxKitty*

      We went to see an aqueduct. I don’t remember exactly where we went, but it must have been public transport friendly because we didn’t rent a car or use a taxi.

      1. Anecdata*

        “Park of the Aqueducts” (is how Google maps in English labels it as least) was one of my favorite Rome places! It scratches the tourist need to see some ruins, but it’s also just a pleasant place to walk around, bring a picnic, etc. It’s on a light rail line but a chunk outside of the city center

    3. Tiny clay insects*

      Have you been to the Acqua Claudia and Acqua Marcia, the aqueducts that are in a beautiful park on the outskirts of the city? They’re easily reachable by the Metro (second to last stop on one of the lines, I forget which).

  25. The Prettiest Curse*

    Recent letters here about internal church politics/congregational issues has made me realise that I find reading about this type of thing completely fascinating, even though I’m not religious at all. Is there a similar topic which you wouldn’t expect to find interesting, but do anyway?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      The recent shutting of SVB has captured my interest, probably because I used to work in Silicon Valley and worked at many start up companies. Unfortunate result of not diversifying their investments and dropping the ball while interest rates increased. Reading everything I see about it.

    2. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Multi-level marketing schemes are one of my deepest internet rabbit holes. I never even knew what they were until a few years ago: I grew up in a small country village, and even in the big city I moved to, I don’t have a large enough social circle that anyone would try to rope me in.

      When a woman I got a lot of harmful body-shaming from in my 20s started to call herself a Herbalife “fitness coach” on social media, I started digging. I was curious what on earth could turn someone who enjoyed putting down other women into, supposedly, an advocate for healthy living. Oh, it’s a scam! I’m not surprised at all.

      So here I am now, consuming every podcast, long-read and subreddit on the subject, and figuring out other people I know and would never have suspected are part of MLMs.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      Multi-level marketing. I’m deep into the topic on YouTube and haven’t yet got bored. The psychology of how people get into MLMs despite the many and various red flags is fascinating.

      1. Cookies for Breakfast*

        I just left a comment saying a very similar thing! Not seeing it in the thread yet, so it’s probably lying in a queue somewhere.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I also find this & the psychology of how people get pulled in by other scams fascinating. Hoaxes, too.

      3. Elle*

        Yup! A number of people I grew up with have gotten involved in MLM and I’m so curious as to why.

        1. Double A*

          Have you listened to the podcast The Dream,. Fascinating look into all aspects of MLMs from the personal to the political to the legal. And the host comes from an area where a lot of people she grew up with are sucked into them, so she has a sympathetic eye towards the people. Then the second season is about Wellness. Both are so good.

          1. Elle*

            Excellent pod cast. There’s also some journalists I follow on Twitter who write a lot about it. Meg Conley is a great follow.

      4. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, I find MLMs and (closely related) cults weirdly fascinating too. I’m sure it’s because we all think that we’d never fall for anything so silly – but in fact, we probably would.

    4. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Royal family logistics (shout out to GFY even though they very reasonably don’t cover any royals anymore). I can spend hours reading about what goes on in the background of that apparatus, even though personally I believe all royalty should be abolished. But still! It’s so fascinating!

      1. 2QS*

        Oh, me too! Very much not a royalist, and I mostly don’t care about celebrities. But it’s just fascinating what kinds of bizarre things happen when people still belong to royal families amidst a Western world that has largely moved on from that sort of thing.

    5. NeonFireworks*

      I am very much not a true-crime person…except when it comes to missing-person cases. Absolutely fascinated by those and pay way too much attention when they’re in the news. No idea why!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Have you come across Ireland’s Vanishing Triangle? It’s pretty interesting. Numerous women disappeared from a fairly similar area within a couple of years, back in the 90s. None were ever found.

    6. Mrap*

      The NFL draft. Totally uninterrsted in sports, but I find all the machinations and negotiating fascinating. This week especially there’s a really interesting article on yahoo sports where four top agents anonymously talk about this stuff.

    7. OtterB*

      I can think of two things for me. One is wilderness search & rescue. I can read about that forever. The other is infrastructure. Years ago I worked for an electric utility, and my husband has worked for a water treating plant and other engineering facilities, and I like knowing more about how the things we take for granted work. I have preordered a graphic book called Hidden Systems that sounds like it will be right up my alley.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Have you found the Practical Engineering channel on youtube yet? Sounds like you might enjoy it.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            This reminded me to check if he has a new video out, which means I just learned about Howard Fisk’s maps of the Mississippi river and how it has moved over the years. WOW! Highly recommend you check those out. They are gorgeous.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m with on the wilderness search and rescue thing.

        The other thing I’ve been fascinated by is the ongoing legal journey of the fraudulent company Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes. While I’ve never been involved in tech at all, this story is gripping. I recommend the documentary on the subject, The Inventor: Out for Blood.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Canadian banking and mortgages, because I watch ThoughtSlime and Scaredy Cats and the host is having a rough time due to these issues!

    9. GoryDetails*

      Re finding interest in unusual places: I do this so often it’s seldom surprising to me anymore! I fell for “biographies of things” (sometimes shelved as “cultural histories”) long ago, possibly via Mark Kurlansky’s book Cod, and have found myself delving into all manner of topics that I hadn’t previously thought about: the history of the pencil, or the passport, or the numbering-systems on houses (I’d thought that was much older than it turns out to be), or the industry of allegedly-holy relics, or… well, it goes on. Some great books on the history of specific colors (red’s a good one).

      And way, way back, when I worked summers at the local library, I stumbled across industry-specific publications – the kind that aren’t usually displayed in the reading room but that were on hand for patrons to request. Subscriptions usually for people working in those industries. Since the publications were so specific, they provided a fascinating (and sometimes appalling!) peek into the various industries – and while they might be hard to follow at times, as they assumed that their readers already had a solid foundation in the industry, they were quite revealing.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        I like the things you like! Reading insidery stuff is like finding out secrets; you just have to have some patience. I love histories of things as well. Bill Bryson’s “At Home” is one of my favorites.

    10. Anono-me*

      I recently read ‘The Feather Thief’. It is about feathers being stolen. I found it fascinating.

  26. Movies!*

    One last movie thread before the Oscars! What movies have people seen recently?

    I am now 9/10 on Best Picture (sorry, Avatar! Never saw the first one, so this is too much of a time investment now!) I saved the two real bummers for last. I spread All Quiet on the Western Front over two nights, which I definitely recommend. I didn’t enjoy it at all, but I thought it was very well done, if that makes sense. Same with Women Talking; a movie about widespread sexual assault isn’t a fun sit, but the acting was amazing.

    1. Lilo*

      Going to be honest that the only nominee I’ve seen is Everything Everywhere All at Once. But I really liked it and am pleasantly surprised a Scifi movie, especially one that leans into weirdness, is the front runner.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I have only seen Everything Everywhere All at Once. (Which was great and I endorse giving it a pile of Oscars.) Right now I am not at all vibing with “This movie deals with an important topic you should mull over seriously” and instead just want something fun and escapist.

      Last weekend we watched King Richard, about Venus and Serena Williams’ father. That was very good. The “I believe these girls will be legendary champions in a notoriously expensive sport if we just stick to the plan” stuff is just really interesting when you know that this in fact happens.

      Also really liked The Woman King, about the Dahomey Empire and its unit of woman warriors. Great characters in a setting that hasn’t gotten much attention. Watching I was struck by how up until very recently, the only way to tell this story would have been with a white person who travels to the area and marvels at stuff as a stand-in for the audience. (It has one of those, but as a minor side character and you’re in the headspace of the people he’s observing, not his.) And afterward I was moved to look up all the “making of” vignettes because damn those fight scenes.

    3. anon7557*

      I’m not sure if you’re focusing only on Oscar nominees, but if not, I really was transfixed by “Misbehaviour” with Keira Knightley and “Don’t worry darling”.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      A confession: I saw Cocaine Bear in theaters. It’s good stupid fun. It’s exactly what you’d expect: a monster movie where the monster is a bear that ate cocaine. Granted, there is a *ton* of cheesy violence, so it’s definitely not for everyone. But in a theater with friends, I had a blast.

    5. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      I made an attempt to watch at least a few Oscar-nominated movies before the ceremony. Made it through The Fabelmans, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Fire of Love, and some of the short films. I ended up loving The Fabelmans, which I hadn’t really expected to like, and was impressed by some of the short films. Highly recommend “Haulout” and “The Ice Merchants,” both available on the New Yorker’s YouTube channel.

      1. mreasy*

        I loved The Fabelmans! I thought it was done so dirty by the marketing department – the trailer made it look SO ho-hum. I also thought Tar was a revelation (def Blanchett’s movie almost entirely) and Banshees was both moving and funny – but EEAAO has my vote for best picture! Very curious to watch tonight.

    6. Dear liza dear liza*

      I can’t do depressing right now, so I’m watching the Best Animation nominees. Saw Pinocchio when it first came out so I can avoid it now (a bit dark for my mood), and I absolutely love TURNING RED, PUSS IN BOOTS, and MARCEL THE SHELL. THE SEABEAST was pretty good too! It’s nice to have a category where I’m ok with all of them!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      The last movie I went to see was Ant-Man: Quantumania. Before that, I checked out the new Alamo Drafthouse here with a showing of M3GAN, which was hilarious and better than I expected. (I need to go see something else since I have a Victory Club free pizza voucher!) Boston is getting an Alamo–no way can I afford to live near there, but it will be close to my work.

      Waiting for the rental price of Everything Everywhere All at Once to go down on Amazon – unfortunately, I missed it in the theater. (No spoilers please)

  27. Stressful Anxiety*

    Has anyone gotten a license for medical Marijuana for anxiety?

    I’ve been struggling with insomnia for two years. At my last sleep doctor appointment, I told my doctor the lack of sleep has driven my anxiety way up (I’ve always been an anxious person). I ‘m thinking my insomnia is from stress since I read that people with stress-induced insomnia wake up consistently at 3:00 AM from high cortisol levels (which is what happens to me—I have trouble staying asleep after a few hours, usually around 3:00 AM). He said to find a doctor to help manage my anxiety.

    I’ve been taking CBD gummies (with no traces of THC) for a month to help with stress, which has provided a minor improvement some nights, so I was hoping I could get something stronger. I read that you can’t get medical Marijuana for insomnia in my state, but you can get it for anxiety.

    Of course I’m getting anxious about finding a doctor to approve the license for me. I looked at a few doctors from a government list, and the ones closest to me aren’t covered by my health insurance. The first one I saw that is covered does rehabilitation and pain management.

    So I guess my specific questions are: Can I only go to a doctor who would “manage anxiety?” (I don’t know what kind of doctor that would be?!) Are they actually likely to help me get the license even though I haven’t been going to therapy or been on antidepressants for years (I can’t “prove” I have anxiety).

    1. Deschain*

      I live in VA where it’s been very easy to get a medical marijuana card for several years now. In VA, insurance does not cover this, but you can use HSA/FSA to pay. Regular doctors do not give you a card. That has to be done by a specific certified doctor or nurse practitioner.

      My husband and I use CannabisRXHealth. You meet virtually with an NP once a year. The first time, they discuss your needs and give you recommendations. For me, who has anxiety due to a medical condition (chronic migraine with vertigo), the NP was very upfront that THC might exacerbate my anxiety (she was 100% right and I no longer use it). She suggested I do a larger percentage CBD to THC (she told me a specific percentage, which was nice). I currently use CBN oil from NuLeaf to help me relax and/or sleep.

      My husband has anxiety from years of having a super stressful job with long hours. He met with the same NP. She said that THC would probably work very well for him. And it does! He gets THC extract and uses a vape pen twice a day. One small jar of extract lasts him one month (about $95).

    2. Missb*

      If you have a regular doctor I’d start with them.

      Back before our state had recreational marijuana, we had a system in place for medical marijuana. Dh has a fairly rare arthritis in his back that is slowly causing his spine to fuse together. His former primary care doctor had no issues with signing the paperwork necessary for his medical marijuana license. When that doctor retired, his new primary care doctor took one look at his most recent x-rays and said yep I’ll sign it no problem.

      So you might start with your sleep dr. and see if they’re open to signing the paperwork. If not then perhaps you have a primary care dr you can talk to.

      Different insurance companies seem to have different points of view on this. We found that Kaiser doctors in the area would first (and second and third) suggest he go to pain management despite the diagnosis. Providence health plan doctors were much more open to the idea. Let your fingers do the talking if you’re looking for a new primary care dr. It’s a fair question to ask as you interview a potential care provider. (it’s also a much easier conversation to have when your state eventually allows for recreational marijuana).

      Good luck!

    3. Cj*

      My husband and I both got approved for medical marijuana just last month at the pain clinic we go to. They are hoping it helps with our pain, but also for my husband’s anxiety, as he takes Xanax along with the opiates they prescribe him. That can be a dangerous combination, and they’re hoping he won’t need the Xanax if he uses the marijuana.

      We haven’t registered yet, because it’s $200 apiece just for the annual fee for the card.

      I think most prescribers, in my state of Minnesota anyway, would rather see patients using medical marijuana on other prescription medications like opiates and benzodiazepines. I’d try your general practitioner first. They may have to refer you to a psychiatrist for at least one visit, but my husband’s GP has been prescribing his Xanax because it is so hard to get an appointment for mental health in rural areas.

    4. Generic Name*

      Yes. In short, it didn’t work for me. It made me nauseous to the point of throwing up. In my state, there are doctors who specialize in MMJ cards, and we also have recreational use. Honestly, it probably would have been easier to just try stuff from the recreational side. I went with the medical side because I was hoping to get guidance regarding type and dosage, and it didn’t work that way. The benefit of a medical card in my state is you can access higher concentrations of THC and it’s cheaper than recreational. I finally saw a psychiatrist for anxiety meds, and I’m now taking a beta blocker, and it’s really helping. I don’t feel constantly on edge and nervous.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      It may work differently state by state, but here in Massachusetts you don’t have to prove anything – you do a five-ten minute call with a doctor set up specifically for this purpose who asks about what you have, symptoms, etc. That’s it, then they approve you and. you get a license

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      I have an MMJ card from an outfit called Greenleaf something. It was required by the dispensary before I could buy from them unless I already had one from another provider. I’m pretty sure they linked it on their website.

    7. ?*

      This will vary very much depending on your state, but I found that Delta 8 gummies helped a lot with my sleep issues. Delta 8 is a THC variant that is legal some places due to some technicality—it is definitely psychoactive in a way CBD is not, but doesn’t require a card. I was easily able to buy it in New York until we legalized “traditional” marijuana and Delta 8 was simultaneously made illegal. I used to order it from Greenbelt Botanicals. If you can easily get a medical marijuana card that’s probably better long term but if Delta 8 is legal in your state you could try it first to see if it helps!

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Yes, I was also going to say Delta 8 gummies help me get much better sleep. I actually order online and have it delivered. I use Exhale Well and they also have softgels, oil tincture as well as gummies. I’ve been a terrible sleeper since elementary school and Delta 8 helps me fall and stay asleep. I have rarely felt any psychoactive effects because you have to find the dose that works for your intentions (mine is sleep vs “feeling weird”).

  28. Magda*

    Can anyone explain why I find myself thinking often about getting a second dog, when I’m barely handling the one I have? I was browsing Petfinder and local AKC breeders this week and I truly don’t understand myself. I adopted a large mixed breed as an adult a few years ago. If I had understood what I was getting into, I might not have done it, although of course I love him very much; he has shattered all my routines and the expenses are much more than I anticipated. One factor is that dog people will often confidently say you need a second dog if you ask for tips on anxiety and separation issues (my dog has both), so they’ve gotten in my head about that. People tell you two is not much harder. I have started dreaming about getting a smaller puppy without health problems, basically the opposite of my current dog. I worry this is a passing whim and I’d regret it if I went forward, but I find myself returning to the idea again and again. Why???

    1. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Even healthy, well-adjusted pups are SO MUCH WORK. I foster a lot of dogs and pups, yet when I got my own it felt overwhelming because it was a permanent decision instead of a short-term commitment of a few weeks while the rescue found adopters. A second dog can help with separation anxiety, but not always, and often you end up with twice as much work instead of less. I think it’s more typically true that two cats are easier than one, but I have also known owners who took in a second cat that hated the first and it was years of complications and added expenses. I don’t regret getting my second dog, but it’s more work than expected. My first was an easy older rescue and the second was a pup and they typically get walked separately because they have different walking styles and speeds. Thankfully the younger one doesn’t need as much walking because he can burn a lot of energy playing fetch. I feel like I doubled my expenses and time commitment.

      Is there a way that you can temporarily look after another dog?

      1. Magda*

        “An easy older rescue” is what I THOUGHT I was getting haha. And my lifestyle is basically ideal for a dog (except for being single meaning all the work is done by me). I really thought I was ready. It is an unbelievable amount of effort! I now agree with the people who say, “a cat is a pet, but a dog is a lifestyle” or that dogs are basically toddlers who never, ever grow up.

        1. Little Beans*

          It depends on the dog. I had a pup for the longest time who was so much trouble – chewed or ate everything, barked a lot, lots of health issues (but also the best snuggler and I loved him to bits). The dog we have now is so easy – he’s a rescue terrier mix we adopted when he was around 2 or 3. He’s not super social with people or other dogs, he just wants to be fed and go outside a few times per day and get pets occasionally. The rest of the day, you’d barely know he was here.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      People tend to minimize the troublesome parts of things that they find generally positive. Pregnancy and childbirth can be (by reputation) not a particularly pleasant experience, but people do it multiple times on purpose. Getting a tattoo can suck, but I have 25.

      I love my dogs. They have both given me major issues at various points, but I’m far more likely to scroll back through puppy pictures and think about how cute they are and when Alannah climbs into my lap and Abigail snuffles my head. It takes more work to remember the rough parts :)

      1. Mom of 3*

        Pregnancy and childbirth can be (by reputation) not a particularly pleasant experience, but people do it multiple times on purpose.

        Can confirm and chiming in to say I think this on the daily, alternating between “omg I’m drowning” and “awww 10 kids wouldn’t be too many honey”

    3. Emma*

      We have 2 dogs, and I’m one of those dog people who now recommends it. It reduced anxiety in our first dog. Definitely more vet bills, and the house is dirtier. But they’re little buddies and I feel better when we have a second when I leave the house. We started out with 1 dog and will always have 2 going forward. Second dog is smaller.

    4. Lilo*

      The problem is it really depends on the dogs. My mom ended up taking in a second dog after a relative went into a nursing home and the two dogs fought to the point that it was dangerous. Mom kept trying for months before she gave up. My sister ended up taking the new dog solo instead.

      1. KatEnigma*

        This. Exactly this. Some dogs do better with a second dog. Even ones you don’t think are particularly lonely- our first dog as adults was like that. He 100% stopped being reactive to other dogs at the park (always a big dog, that he’d go after that was simply passing by! Although too close, because someone let their dog come ALL THE WAY UP TO US on a retractable leash! Bleeping people!) as soon as we got another dog. He didn’t like being an only dog, apparently didn’t trust us to be Alpha, but as soon as our Rott mix was half grown, he relaxed!

        But my mom’s terrier? HATED any and all other dogs. Despite never having been an only dog, who they got as a puppy!

        1. Magda*

          Yeah, I think about this … I suspect my dog would prefer another big-ish dog as a playmate, but – I just can’t do that. The size of my dog affects a lot of things, like my ability to control him on the walk, how much walking he needs, how secure I am letting him interact with people he’s just met, the cost of feeding & vetting (every medication he’s on is the most expensive possible level due to the amount). I do worry that getting him a extra-small dog companion (“his own dog” as I’ve been privately calling it) won’t scratch the itch for him and won’t address his neediness, extra energy, or separation anxiety. Then I’ll just have two dogs to worry about. Of course I could test for this before taking anything on, but I know things can change down the road.

          1. KatEnigma*

            Can you afford doggy day care? We found that taking our GSD to daycare once a week is enough to hold her. She’s not alone, she plays allll day (except for when the workers break for lunch) and comes home and sleeps for 2 days.

            But not all big dogs have high energy needs. Great Danes, for instance, are always listed as good “apartment dogs” because they really don’t need much. Our Rottie mix is good with low energy. The GSD mix would probably be moderate, if she wasn’t primarily husky and malamute (the people who adopted her littermate did the DNA testing and shared with the foster) And conversely, most terriers (small) have BOUNDLESS energy. I can’t even consider most small dogs. (plus barking)

            1. Magda*

              We do doggy daycare when we can, and I think he likes it! Or at least, I really like getting a break. I wish it was cheaper and closer – I’d go every week. Alas. It does not wear him out at all though. I suspect he plays for a while and then sits out watching when he gets tired (he’s a senior dog with health issues, so I’m lucky he even seems to enjoy it). I do worry one day he won’t be able to go anymore, either because he’ll suddenly decide to be too aggressive – he’s better off-leash than on, but not perfect – or his health won’t be good enough anymore. But you’re right, bumping up the daycare is probably cheaper and more reversible than buying a whole nother dog about it.

              1. KatEnigma*

                Yeah, our real day care is a 20ish minute drive away. When we lived 10 minutes away, it was a lot easier to take them. We also have been blessed with SUPER day cares who would let the old arthritic dog hang out in the office with them, if she got too reactive. The last place split the dogs up into “small” “large” and “old” ROFL This place (we moved 1200 miles) does their groups 100% by temperament and asked super intelligent questions before the temperament test. (as in, had she ever grabbed another dog, but not drawn blood, drawn blood but no damage, to damage- recognizing dog temperaments and the difference in those scenarios!)

                And in California, the dog park had a “foyer” area where you were required to use to remove leashes, because dogs on leashes are very often more reactive than dogs who are off leash, so they didn’t allow you to bring a leashed dog into the off leash park!

            2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I am desperately waiting for my Dane to tip over into giant couch potato mode, but at a year old, she still gets 112 pounds of zoomies and when she jumps onto the couch at speed, it slides across the floor. Heh.

              1. KatEnigma*

                Big dogs don’t mature until age 2. There is still hope for you. LOL

                But zoomies aside, I’d be willing to bet even so she’s lower energy needs than my mom’s Jack Russel or my GSD/Sled dog mix.

                Or we also have a cocker/cav mix who was shockingly active- way more active than the long line of cockers I’ve had in my life, and Cavs were bred to sit in your lap! But the groomer casually mentioned that yeah, it’s like 50/50 between high and low energy.

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  Yeah, my older dog is an 8 year old sighthound mix who still only has two modes, zoom or couch potato, and her zoom mode only lasts about 5 minutes at a time. Luckily, right now her favorite way to get out her energy seems to be to shake a tug in the Dane pup’s face and then they wear each other out, or at least mostly :) (Entertainingly she usually wins, despite being only 50 pounds to Abigail’s 112. I haven’t figured out if Abigail lets her win yet out of respect, or if Alannah is truly outsmarting her. Either is possible.)

    5. crookedglasses*

      Ah, yes. I am one of those people who reasoned that a second dog wouldn’t be that much more work.

      I was wrong, and instead of one dog with a modest slew of behavioral problems we had two dogs with a cornucopia of behavioral problems.

      I think the suggestion down thread to try fostering is a good one.

      1. Magda*

        Yeah, I may go that route. I am an experienced foster-er of other animals but not dogs. I could try fostering small puppies and see how my dog does. I have been on a lot of dog messaging boards where people have behaviorally-challenging dogs and keep getting more dogs, and I am always like ???? – why did you get a second or third big dog once you had so many issues? But a) rescue people can be kind of batty and b) I guess this is how. TBH, even though I am a lifelong shelter person, I am starting to see the advantage of dealing with a breeder when it comes to dogs. I just don’t know anything about my rescue’s health or behavioral background. I would not rescue another XXL dog because the problems they can have from poor conformation are unbelievable expensive. I actually got super lucky with my boy despite his other issues.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I seriously looked into breeders when I was looking for a pup a few years ago. I enjoy fostering cats and dogs, but dogs and pups are an incredible amount more work in comparison and rescued dogs have unpredictable issues. Most are wonderful, but I have fostered dogs that were listed by the shelter as being easy and they ended up having a lot of behavioral issues once they were in my home and able to unwind for a few days. I helped them, spent a lot of time training, and was able to find them great homes because I was very honest with their adopters. I don’t fault shelters because they do the best that they can but it is a problem with some dogs. If you really want to get another dog then I think your best options are to either adopt from a foster-based rescue that is very honest and spends a lot of time introducing your dog to theirs, or fostering for that type of rescue.

          Keep in mind that even a rescue puppy can be perfectly treated and yet have behavioral problems that are genetic. I don’t want to scare you away from getting another dog because it is extremely rare (and tends to be specific breeds for example around here backyard bred rotties are a known problem), but I know of several people who have taken in 8 week old rescues and within weeks realized that there was clearly a genetic behavioral problem that couldn’t be fixed. They’ve done everything perfectly yet their dogs are so reactive that they can’t take them outside of their yards. They spend thousands upon thousands on expert trainers who help them marginally. They don’t want to give up on their dogs, yet their lives are consumed by them with the only hope that their dogs are big and hopefully will have shorter lives than average. One is a neighbor who lives with constant worry and regret and I feel so sorry for her. In hindsight she would have adopted another breed or put herself on the waiting list for the one really well known breeder.

          Sorry, I’ve probably gone too far in making my point! I really hope that you find a perfect smaller dog who helps alleviate your current dog’s anxiety and everything goes well. Yet there are many stories with dog rescue where it doesn’t go well and it is very hard on everyone. I might be a bit jaded as I had one of those dogs last summer – she was described as timid and sweet by the shelter but she was unusually energetic and almost aggressive when she was in a home – and I had to return her to the rescue after several months because I wasn’t able to train her enough. Take care of yourself and your current dog, and I hope you find the perfect way forward!

        2. Leone SanVire*

          We have two, largely so they can be company for each other. But we have a greyhound and a galga, so that makes for major couch lumps, really. They are rescues so research some calm breeds and look for a breed specific rescue?

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      One of our dogs became a lot more anxious at age 2. This took him from “not great at listening” to “needs to be tightly watched around other dogs, probably on a leash.” Which made everything a lot more work–both dogs were large. So if he was trying to pull because “This is the one dog in 20 who is the enemy!” and the other dog was like “I just go along with whatevs, so if this approaching dog is snarling and buddy dog is snarling I will also yank on the leash” it was really stressful.

      When he died and we just had 1 very chill older dog who got along with everyone, it got a lot easier. So I am leary of getting a second dog, especially because of the late arriving personality change with that one. The right second dog could be great, and I have owned or dogsat for that dog–but not any dog. (Existing dog is 10 and I think less “I need a companion” than “you young people go bounce around over there.”)

    7. Double A*

      This completely makes sense because you’re looking for a solution to a problem! I often find myself window shopping (scrolling?) when something else in my life is kind of out of control, like maybe a product would make things better as advertising has tried to convince me all my life. Not that a dog is a new pair of shoes but maybe the analogy works.

      I’m not a dog person but a second dog really might make sense? A second child doubles how hard it is to be a parent for awhile, but that’s because managing kids in very different places in their life is tough, and babies are hard period. But I feel like a dog wouldn’t be like that? It would be more expense obviously, but it seems like your routines could remain fairly consistent. If you got the right dog. I would definitely look at your budget and talk to people about this idea. Like maybe instead of scrolling petfinder so much really take the idea seriously, do the research, and then make a decision so it’s not just kind of vaguely nagging at you.

    8. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi, do you need another dog or would a cat be a better option? An adult, dog-friendly cat might provide company and affection in a more manageable way. Getting a second dog seems to have the potential of making your life much harder without necessarily benefiting your current dog. I do think your idea of more doggy day care is a good one, if it can be affordable, though. Maybe you could try that for 3 months and see if it makes a valuable difference. Good luck!

      1. Magda*

        Weirdly, I do have a cat, and although the two seem to tolerate each other pretty well (they’re currently asleep just a few feet away from each other) they don’t “play” together really, and I doubt she helps his anxiety. But I would certainly feel more confident taking on more cats than another dog! Yeah maybe I just need to up the doggy daycare and back awaaay from the dog sites.

    9. Blythe*

      I have one lovely dog and am mayyyybe adding another to the mix. She *can* stay with her current family, but she might be a *better* fit with mine. So she is going to move in for about 3 weeks and we will see how it goes! If you can do a trial run with a dog, that seems like it would be the way to go…

    10. DWIGHT SCHRUTE*

      I’m a dog trainer and please do not get a second dog to manage your first dogs anxiety. Adding a second dog will not treat their separation anxiety. Please find a trainer who specializes in treating it and your life will be SO much better. They usually do virtual consults because there’s no need to see a SA client in person to handle it properly.

  29. Teapot Translator*

    I have a strange question. I’ve gained weight and I’m now at a size that not all brands service and where plus size options are rare and generally don’t fit (too loose). This means I have a hard time finding clothes for outdoor activities. Mainly winter hikes. Do you think it’s worth looking in the men’s section? Are men’s clothes bigger than women’s, like in shoes?

    1. Sandi*

      I started buying men’s pants and shirts a few years ago and have zero regrets. Absolutely look in the men’s section, and worst-case you waste a few minutes looking. If you are like me then you find pants that fit well that have real pockets rather than fake flaps. The sizes are completely different but I find that women’s clothes often vary and I have to try on a few before finding the one that fits.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! It’s stupid, but I wanted to be reassured that other people do this.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      They are, for the most part, but they’re also cut differently (especially pants, generally cut for less hips/butt and more room in the groin to accommodate the tackle) so they’ll fit differently. Dealable – I generally wear men’s jeans because I like super loose wide legs (though women’s stovepipe jeans are apparently coming back into style), but the extra fabric in the front is noticeable even beyond the fact that I buy them big on purpose.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Definitely go men’s then – my regular winter coat is a men’s London Fog leather that I got from a thrift shop like ten years ago for $5, and it’s great. Plenty of room underneath for layers.

    3. o_gal*

      Go for the men’s section, most of the time it’s basically the same thing. The better brands will cut differently for men and women, but if you don’t care about a snug fit, then you’ll be OK. I generally find that I’m a large or extra large in women’s, and a medium or large in men’s. Another advantage I’ve found is that men’s sleeves tend to be cut longer, which I really like.

    4. Lilo*

      I realize this is a different body shape thing, but when I was pregnant I just wore men’s jackets. I’d definitely just check the men’s section first.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I do wear a lot of weight on my belly, but I can’t claim it’s as beautiful as pregnant belly. :-D

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      For active clothing, Eddie Bauer and LL Bean both sell a full range of sizes online. It’s infuriating that they’re not available in the store. I’m imagining you’re a US 14 or 16, which is kind of “in between” what’s available for straight and for plus sizes. ThredUp has a lot of their gear for much lower prices, although it can be harder to tell what you’re getting.

      Coolibar is an Australian company that sells sun-protective clothing – not just for beachwear. All outdoor activity. Also a full range of sizes. EXPENSIVE. In my experience worth it – wears like iron, doesn’t fade or shrink in the wash, and is just as sun-protective as they say it is.

      Men’s tops work fine for me as long as I rolled up the sleeves. Men’s pants and shorts never did. I’m a cis woman, 5’5″ and pretty evenly proportioned so the rise on men’s pants is always wrong and often uncomfortable.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for the recommendations. I don’t like to order online because the sizes are not consistent and something that I thought would fit, don’t. I prefer to try in store and be done with it.
        And yes, I’m a 16! Or XXL.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Yeah, I get that. I finally decided that ordering online is “trying,” not “buying,” especially from places that have free returns. I’m lucky enough to have a UPS/USPS dropoff location very near my house. Returning things is really annoying, though, and ThredUp usually charges for returns. I try to buy things from them that I know will fit.

          Last time I was in Target, they had their Champion gear in a wider range of sizes than I’d seen previously. Might be worth a look. I really like their leggings and sports bras. Haven’t bought anything specifically for cold weather.

        2. o_gal*

          Another possible option is something like Stitch Fix (Thred Up may be similar). You get a box of 5 pieces of clothing/shoes/jewelry/handbag/etc. You try them on and send back the ones you don’t want to keep. If you keep all 5, you get back the “styling fee” of $20. If you only order a few pieces, they take the styling fee off the total. So last time, when I bought 1 piece, it was the price of that piece – $20. Since that piece was an awesome Columbia fleece jacket in periwinkle blue, that made it a steal. You can control how often you get the box – from once a week to once every X months (currently doing every 3 months). And they do lots of other stuff to keep you as a customer. You can drop out at any time.

    6. Alex*

      Ah, so you are at that awesome size of “regular size 14/16/18” where the “16w” is too large, you need a “16” non W. Been there, done that!

      I’d recommend the Columbia brand–I have a size 16 pants from them, very well fitting until I gained a bit of weight, and now i have a size 20 which is also awesome. See also Deluth trading or eddie bauer. I also bought my favorite “hiking” pants ever from Kohls clearance section, so you never know.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for the recommendations. And yes, that is exactly it! The plus sizes are too wide.
        Not all stores carry the Columbia brands bigger sizes in store. It’s very annoying.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Absolutely shop in the men’s! I have done it many times. I have ski bibs, a big puffer jacket and my beloved insulated Keen hiking boots all from the men’s section and all work great. Size numbering is very different so try things on! Don’t assume a women’s shoe size 9 is the same as a men’s shoe size 9. They’re different.
      And sometimes it’s cheaper.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! My feet are too small for men shoes, I think. But I am now determined to try the rest.

    8. Girasol*

      I’m not overweight but straight as a stick. Women’s clothes never fit and men’s do. Men’s clothing sizes are different but there’s everything from boys sizes on up so it’s not like everything is huge. You might start out at a discount store where clothes are displayed close together and you don’t have to feel obvious slipping into a women’s fitting room with clothes from the men’s rack. Men’s clothes are great because they’re generally better quality and designed for a moving body, where women’s clothes are often designed for an immobile mannequin. The color choices are sometimes a bit somber but especially going into spring you should be able to find some brighter items.

    9. just another queer reader*

      Definitely try it out!

      I own some men’s clothes. Generally the sleeves and shoulders are bigger, and the hips are smaller. Pants length can be super similar (wild).

      I wish that men’s clothes fit my body better, because I really like the styles (floral print button ups, practical pants, substantial flannel). Unfortunately I have a lot of trouble with the hips and shoulders. A lot of my (women) friends fit really well in men’s clothes though, so try some on!

      A couple tips:
      – different brands can fit really differently, so try a few
      – tailoring can make a huge difference, especially if there’s just one small tweak to make the clothing fit better (hemming pants, bringing in a shirt). Thrifting a high quality item that fits in the shoulders, and then getting it tailored can be cost effective.

    10. Pocket Mouse*

      It’s definitely worth looking in the men’s sections! I’d even say to look in thrift shops too, since there’ll be a variety of brands, styles, and sizes. For non-outdoorsy clothes, check out gender-inclusive brands, as they tend to also be size-inclusive (Google “queer clothing brands” to start out.) Hope you find items that bring you comfort and joy!

      1. Chaordic One*

        Yes to thrift shops! They’re like scavenger hunts. You won’t find what you’re looking for most of the time, but if you have an open mind you’re very likely to find some treasures for extremely reasonable prices. (Tuesday bag sales!)

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      Perhaps you’ve already looked at these plus size brands for women and they don’t work, but I’m listing them here just in case. If you’re interested, you can check out the website Happiest Outdoors and the post Women’s Plus Size Hiking Clothes: The Best Brands and Where to Find Them.

  30. fposte*

    Travel recs for Austin! With a big caveat–I am, which I didn’t initially realize, going during SXSW. Oops. I have a hotel with a kitchenette and I’m not going to starve. Mostly I’m a walking/looking at art/going to museums person and not a nightlife person. I suspect restaurant recs will be fruitless but am game to hear, especially if they’re exceptions to BBQ-TexMex, which I have low health tolerance for, and more cafe-like things. It looks like the bats are back so I’ll be booking a bat boat tour, and I’m figuring out what kayak rental to do; it looks like Town Park will keep me happily occupied as well and there are several art galleries I’d like to see, plus there’s the UT Landmarks app. I’m staying downtown and am thinking rideshares will be tough to get so am focusing mostly on stuff I can walk to. Thoughts welcome!

    1. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like mobility isn’t a big issue for you. When I’ve been in downtown metro areas I’ve sometimes looked into a bike rental either for recreation or for easy transportation. If you’re going to be there for a few days and really want to be able to get around, it might be worth renting one bike for the whole trip from a bike shop, rather than doing the bike-share apps or hourly rentals.

    2. Paris Geller*

      Locals might be able to expand a bit more, but I don’t remember Austin being very walkable, unfortunately–might be worth renting something (like a bike rental, as Not a Manager) recommended if you can. I’m not from Austin but I have several friends that live there so I’ve visited multiple times. Magnolia Cafe is well-known and might be a place you like–a little heavy for cafe food but not on the level of BBQ or TexMex. Sounds like you’re down for a lot of outdoors stuff, so If you can get to it, I also recommend seeing if you can get to Mayfield Park – it’s a beautiful area with a ton of peacocks wandering the grounds! I’m not even a super outdoorsy person but I loved it and did the hiking trail. I also have to recommend everyone visit the BookPeople bookstore at least once.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I did not think Austin was walkable beyond the core downtown. My friend and I tried to walk to other neighborhoods/areas but found it not great — technically we could get places on foot but it was not walking-friendly if you know what I mean.

        Best meal I had there was at Emmer & Rye. (Actually the best food was a brisket taco but I have no idea what the name was!)

    3. Tex*

      Sorry, Houston and Dallas are the better museum districts. But at the UT campus – the Blanton, the Ransom Center are great; the Johnson presidential library is there. Slightly further away, the Lady Bird Johnson butterfly gardens are great.

      Try Scholz’s Garden (bar with burgers, etc.), just behind the capitol, but it was Johnson’s favorite watering hole.

      SXSW is nuts, but bands playing everywhere, lots of corporate sponsored pop ups but lots to see.

    4. Ranon*

      The central library has a great roof terrace with a view if you want a chill place to hang out

    5. carcinization*

      You might like Bouldin Creek Cafe, it’s vegetarian and they have good specials sometimes. The best vegan meal I’ve had in Austin recently was at the Beer Plant, they had very cool cocktails too despite the name. You’re right that downtown is going to be completely subsumed in SxSW so it’s pretty hard to think of walkable recommendations for downtown given that, it’s going to be a lot of people waiting in huge lines for events even during the day.

    6. Hatchet*

      Seconding the Harry Ransom Center – I’ll never stop being in awe of seeing one of the original Gutenberg Bibles there. (Bonus is that the HRC is free, but I always leave a donation.) It’s pretty close (reasonable walking distance) to the Blanton Museum and the Bob Bullock Museum (which as others mentioned are worth checking out), the later of which is only 6 blocks or so north of the Capitol building and grounds. Regardless of politics, the Capitol is pretty cool to see up close (made up of pink granite) and the rotunda and the underground extension with the skylight are pretty cool architecturally. And the Capitol grounds have so many different monuments and statutes to explore. Have fun!

    7. What Is Sleep Even*

      Oops. Sorry about the SxSW! Downtown will be a mess, but the people-watching will be fantastic. I’d suggest taking a bus to the UT campus (or hike there past the capitol) and spending a day. It is big. Ransom Center, Blanton art museum. There’s a Kerbey Lane (brunch) just off campus.

      A bit north of campus, the Elisabet Ney museum is local history plus art (Ney was a German sculptor who built a studio there). You can take a bus up Guadalupe. Along the way, Wheatsville Coop is a co-op grocery store, they also sell ready-to-eat food on the cafe end of things.

    8. Red Sky*

      If you’re going to be there during 3/15-3/17 check out the SXSW Flatstock event for awesome gig poster art, it’s at the convention center and is free admission. My fav mueseums are Mexicarte (downtown), The Contemporary Austin (they have 2 locations- downtown Jones Center or west/central Laguna Gloria Sculpture Park), Women and Their Work (eastside).

      If you’re into gardens there’s the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens (just south of downtown but maybe not walkable depending on where you’re staying and your stamina), Umlauf Sculpture Garden (small, but in the same general area as Zilker) and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center (way far south).

      If you’re comfortable with public transportation, the Cap Metro bus system is pretty easy to navigate and the app is useful in trip planning. The 1 and 801 (rapid) go up and down Congress/ S Congress from downtown. The S Congress strip between Ladybird Lake to Oltorf is very popular for food, shopping etc but has also become very touristy.

      What type of restaurants/food are you looking for? We have a huge variety!

    9. mreasy*

      If you have budget for a higher end meal at some point, Uchi and sister restaurant Uchiko are incredible (Japanese/sushi). I have to admit, Downtown is gonna be truly nuts during SXSW, but if you can get in, Forthright is one of my faves, and you can’t go wrong with Jo’s, which is an institution for a reason. I recommend against pedicabs during SXSW, have had too many scary rides, but they are extremely available if you’re willing to brave it to go east or across the river. Bouldin Creek is a staple for great veg food. And if you are a coffee snob like me – Houndstooth downtown is a godsend! Alfred at the Line is also reliable (good cookies too).

    10. fposte*

      Thanks everybody for some terrific input! I hadn’t realized there’d be so much free SXSW stuff that might be entertaining too.

  31. A Girl Named Fred*

    Any engaged or married folks here who would be willing to share some info about their engagement ring? My boyfriend and I have been talking a lot about how we know we’re headed down the marriage road, just not sure on timing because we’re not sure if/when we can afford everything. So I want to set some savings goals, but the range of prices on engagement rings is MASSIVE and every article I find says you should spend $2k or $3k which feels super high. If anyone would be willing to share what they paid for their ring, maybe also what kind of stone it has (if any), and/or where they got it, I’d appreciate the info and any other recommendations you might have on approaching this and other wedding-stuff!

    1. YNWA*

      My first ring was a total of $800 and the upgrade at our 10th anniversary was $1250. My rings are all Montana sapphire (my homestate) and I don’t like diamonds. They’re in white gold settings. They’re not huge (the stones are under 1 carat, I believe). The first we bought at a consignment store and added a wrap after the wedding, the second we bought through a small family owned stone/jewelry store. I think if you stay away from platinum and diamonds, you can get a really nice ring for under $2000. I also think if you stay away from the big jewelry stores you can save money.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Oh, good call on avoiding the larger stores – they’re mainly what I’ve been looking at, but I’ll do some research to find some smaller or family owned stores in our area. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    2. Paris Geller*

      I feel like all those articles are mostly just trying to sell you something. My engagement ring was a $200 pearl ring (which pearls are super soft and not the best for a ring you wear everyday, but I knew that going in. I’m just very delicate with it!) If you want a more traditional look but don’t care if it’s actually a diamond, look at moissanite rings.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        It’s funny you mention pearls, because I’ve been debating them as an option! My middle name is Pearl so I love pearl anything, but was wary about getting one for a daily ring since I’ve had another pearl ring where the pearl has fallen out at least three times. I don’t think I’d even be able to tell the difference between a diamond and moissanite at-a-glance, so I’ll do some checking on those, too. Thank you! (And definitely agree about those articles trying to sell me things; that’s why I wanted to find a more impartial source who wouldn’t immediately start bugging me about it like my friends/family would!)

        1. Paris Geller*

          Yeah, pearls are definitely not recommended for daily wear–mine has fallen out a few times, but we did pay an extra $40 for a lifetime warranty that they will continue to fix it. But I knew that was going to be an issue going in and I was willing to put up with it because I just prefer pearl to anything else.

    3. AnonymousToday*

      If I recall correctly, mine was a little over $1k. I got it at a local jewelry store. It is pretty simple. The main stone is amethyst because I like purple and then it has a small diamond on either side. Certain gemstones are much cheaper than diamonds, so if you don’t mind color, you can make the larger stone a gemstone and still have small diamonds. Gemstones of course will be softer and may not have the same longevity, so that is something to consider.

      1. Tiny clay insects*

        Mine sounds just like yours except with peridot instead of amethyst! I LOVE having a yellow-green stone as the main one.

    4. PostalMixup*

      Lab-created stones can be substantially less than natural stones. I keep getting Facebook ads for one particular company (I don’t remember the name) that sells engagement rings with lab-created stones for much less money. And, really, lab-created stones are just as good (if not better) than natural stones; we’ve just assigned status to the latter.

    5. Valancy Snaith*

      I have a sapphire with a couple diamonds in it from Brilliant Earth, it was a couple grand 10+ years ago. Please note that while you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a ring if you don’t want to, there is something to be said about spending the money on something that will last. If you’re planning on wearing your engagement ring daily indefinitely and potentially handing it down one day, plan for that–buy something that will stand up to the wear and tear. I know a couple people who have cheap rings, and for women who aren’t into jewelry or don’t plan on wearing it every day it’s probably perfectly fine! But think realistically about your lifestyle and what your day-to-day looks like. It might make the bill more palatable. I’ve had mine for about twelve years and doing the ballpark math it has cost about sixty-two cents a day thus far.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I don’t like wearing rings. So we didn’t get an engagement ring. And I regret getting the wedding rings. My husband wears his, but I never wear mine.

      TLDR You don’t have to get a ring at all!

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Yes, I did! Mr T had a crummy plastic trash can, knee high with a lid that had to be opened by hand.

          I wanted the fancy Simple Human trash can that my friend Leigh had gotten – tall, so I could peel onions directly into it, lidded, so smells didn’t get into kitchen, and opened with a foot pedal so I could keep my hands clean, use my hands for cooking, and, most importantly, not bend over, which I hate.

          Mr T, who did not cook many vegetables, did not see the value of such a trash can and was resistant, but started watching the ads anyhow. Menards (this was before we boycotted Menards) and Bed Bath and Beyond would not put this trash can on sale. They would not do it.

          Because they knew.

          They knew it was the Good Trash Can.

          Finally, after six months, Mr T caved AND PAID FULL PRICE.

          Here we are, 15 years later, and the trash can is still going strong.

          (Although I do have a bone to pick with Simple Human about their bathroom trash cans. The hinge on ours broke and they will not sell us a replacement part, offering instead a 20% discount on a new trash can. Everything else is fine with the can so we don’t want to replace it. We just want to repair it. We don’t want to create more trash.)

    7. Princess Peach*

      Anything labeled “wedding” will up the price. Go to a jewelry store and tell them you’re looking for an engagement ring, and they’ll push $10k rings on you. However, there are plenty of perfectly good rings to be had for hundreds rather than thousands.
      Granted, it’s been 12 years, but mine was $300. Black diamonds set in white gold.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Oh man, there was one big-name store that kept trying to steer me to bigger stones. I told them up-front I was looking for something in the half-carat range. The salesperson kept telling me I “deserved” at least a carat. I was like, “buddy, this is not my fiancé ‘cheap-ing’ out. This is MY preference.” Needless to say, we did not buy from them.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Mine is a diamond solitaire in a custom embossed band. My husband worked with a local jeweler to design it. It was about $1,500. The diamond is modestly sized and has an inclusion, so it was less expensive. But the custom setting makes the flaw invisible unless you are actually examining it with a loupe.

      I thought he paid too much when I found out, but it’s not like we could return it.

      If you have time to shop and like distinctive jewelry, I have known some folks who found beautiful colored stones and retro settings at estate sales.

    9. Double A*

      Zero dollars as it was a family ring. I also don’t wear it now; I wear the $300 gold band we got at a local independent jewelry store.

      I would personally never spend more than like…well, I was going to say $1000 but actually I think $400 is about my max on a piece of jewelry. And that would be something where it’s local or crafted by an artist whose work I like. But I’m pretty thrifty.

      My husband and I also do a lot with our hands, so he doesn’t even wear a ring for safety reasons and I would be too rough on anything with stones. Our ultimate plan is to get them tattooed. Spending $3k is supposed to be about the commitment of the thing, so a tattoo seems like more of a commitment and it won’t be a problem gardening or rock climbing.

    10. No Tribble At All*

      We paid $800 for his and $1300 for mine (sapphire, white gold, two bands so I could wear the engagement ring and still have a band for the wedding). We got it from a local jewelry store & found them much easier to work with. We gave them our budget & they helped us pick out stones. The big names kept trying to upsell us.

      You can always upgrade later. It’s a symbol of your promise to each other— not a symbol of how much you’ll spend on each other.

      We recently got silicone rings as well to wear while on walks, working out, etc. I don’t like wearing my fancy one while working out because my hands swell so much. Ours our Enso brand and are very pretty! They were about $30 each. So if you really want to stick with a budget, you could try something like that, and plan to pick out Fancier Ones for your, eg, three year anniversary.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Married in ’90.
      • Were given rings that had belonged to my husband’s grandmother. (Setting was old and fragile and not particularly pretty.) Reset the diamond flanked by 2 small sapphires to personalize it.
      • 8 years later, I got meningitis. (Would not recommend.) Resting my hand with ring on the pillow was agonizing so I took my rings off. Lost the engagement ring and a ring from our honeymoon–most likely fell off the bedside table and landed in the trash and we didn’t notice. I was not dead, so this put things in perspective.
      • The next year, he got me a nice jewelry box. The year after, a ring with a sapphire flanked by 2 small diamonds–so similar, but not a copy. Also not as expensive. A few years later, a turtle ring to replace the lost dolphin ring.
      • 2020 hit with a bang and I took my rings off while undergoing a slew of medical stuff. Last year went and got them resized (so if more medical stuff happened they would be easy to remove). Fine for wedding band and turtle ring; ring-with-stone had some damage pointed out by jeweler. Decided to do nothing with it for now; it’s in that jewelry box in case I want to either reset the larger stone or give it to a kid.

      I have some mild wistful fondness for both the original diamond ring and the follow-up sapphire ring. But they’re really overwhelmed by how solid my husband was during both “in health” shocks. And by our kids. For emotional pow it’s probably a necklace with two ducks that he got me on a business trip to Korea, and because I wore that a lot he got me similar earrings on a later trip.

      Questions for you:
      • Do you want an engagement ring? (It’s okay to want traditional symbols! It’s okay to want them to look pretty! It’s okay to require them to fit into your budget! This also goes for, say, hosting 40 people for Easter brunch and an egg hunt.)
      • If yes, how traditional does it need to be? Sapphires, emeralds, and rubies all have similar sturdiness (opals, which I love, do not) but lower cost.
      • How does your fiancé feel about those questions? This would be in the realm of “If it’s really important to one person and the other is meh, you do the thing.” If you’re both eh-ish, maybe you’d rather do something different that you vibe with. Emotions count!

    12. Little Beans*

      My husband was given a stone by his mother and had it set in a new ring at a high-end jeweler for $200. I had the wedding band custom made from an artisan on Etsy for $30.

    13. Squidhead*

      I’m a bit of a spoilsport, but here is my wedding advice: don’t do stuff you don’t want to do! Especially if it is stuff that costs a lot of money. This could include an engagement ring- you don’t *have* to have one, especially if you don’t have your heart set on any particular type of stone or setting. Or get something purposely simple…a silver band at a craft booth…and you will know what it means even if it doesn’t look traditional.

      If you just read that and thought “no, I really want one, this internet person is wrong!” then you probably need to start looking at ring designs- not to pick a specific ring, but to get an idea of the setting, metal, and color of stones that you actually like. When you have some ideas, go to a jeweler or two to talk about stones, pricing, and timeline. Until then, you sort of have a chicken/egg problem: you don’t know what you want because you don’t know what you can afford, and you don’t know what to budget because you don’t know what you want. So start with finding the general idea of what you want and then find out how to budget for it. I’d say this is true for all elements of wedding planning (and life, I guess): you want dancing? How can you make music happen (boombox, DJ, live band, get married at a public festival)? You want plated meals? How can you align the cost (limited attendance, no steak, afternoon reception instead of evening)? You want yellow flowers? Do they *have* to be one flower (have a simple bouquet of a rare flower) or can they be an in-season flower with the right general color?

      Congratulations!

    14. Pippa K*

      You should of course do what makes you content, but I’d say you can simply ignore the “should spend X amount/percent of your income” jewellery industry marketing stuff. As this thread shows, people choose and love lots of different things.

      My ring is an antique but not a family heirloom. I love 1920s style platinum and diamond rings, and we found a beautiful one online for a lot less than $2k. It was also a practical design choice for me because the stone doesn’t stick up and catch on things, and the materials aren’t delicate. Plus, I love that it’s a ring with a long life of its own before we even existed – I like to think it carries that long timeline into our relationship too!

    15. Ginger Cat Lady*

      To hell with what people say you “should” do and buy what you want and will be happy wearing.
      Same with every other “should” about weddings. Do what you want and (IMO) put more focus and money on building your marriage and life together than on the party that starts the marriage.
      Weddings are overrated and high stress. They do not have to be if you don’t buy into the craziness.

      1. RagingADHD*

        100 percent. A wedding is a ceremony that marries people. A reception is an optional party to celebrate after the wedding.

        You can define those things any way that makes you happy.

    16. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mine was under $200 originally. I was uninvolved in picking the original ring since I didn’t know we were getting engaged. My husband wanted “orange stones” and ended up picking fire opals, two heart-shaped ones with the points pointing outward. He got it from a jeweler on Etsy.

      I loved it, but around our third anniversary one of the stones was loose, and it turns out it was chipped because opal is super fragile. So I still have the original stones, but we had them replaced (which cost another $240) with a Madeira citrine (orange is my favorite color) and a lab sapphire (blue is his), so we’re both represented. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I ended up paying $130 for both our wedding rings together – they’re titanium bands with a very thin copper inset stripe through the middle. His is a wider band since he doesn’t wear anything with it, mine is very narrow because I wanted it to fit comfortably with the e-ring. Again, Etsy seller. We’ve been married for five and a half years now and no problems with the rings other than the opals as previously mentioned :)

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My mom’s original engagement ring was a hematite band. Her wedding ring had a diamond in it and people always got them mixed up.

    17. PoolLounger*

      My first ring was $200. 10 years in I got a $1400 ring. Both were from etsy. You can go as inexpensive or expensive as you like. I personally did not want a diamond from a mine, I didn’t want something that I thought looked boring, and I didn’t want something that cost several month’s rent. My current ring is moissonite with a white gold band and yellow gold accents. I love it, it’s very sparkly, and also very me.

    18. Rara Avis*

      I don’t like diamonds and I didn’t really wear rings. My engagement ring was inexpensive from a craft store with a mother-of-Pearl heart. Our wedding bands came from a Museum Company catalog (they say”Amor Vincit Omnia “, “Love conquers all” in Latin) — it has been a lot of years, but I think they were under $200. There’s no “should” — do what seems right for you.

    19. Glomarization, Esq.*

      We’re both sort of “opt out of the wedding-industrial complex” people … We got our wedding rings at a second-hand jewelry store. I’m pretty sure we spent less than $1,000 for both. I don’t have or wear an engagement ring, just my plain band.

    20. Cj*

      We talked about upgrading the quarter carat diamond in my engagement ring this year for our 30th anniversary. The original set was $725 40 years ago (yes, we were engaged for 10 years before we got married).

      Instead, we ended up buying a set almost identical set for $300 at a pawn shop that had a 1/3 carat diamond. Prices to replace my existing diamond with that same size were around $600 to $1,000, depending on the cut, etc. And that was just a diamond itself, not having it set.

      If I was newly engageed now, I would go to the pawn shop route from the start.

    21. The teapots are on fire*

      I had a plain gold ring at one time. My fiancé and I made out rings this time with a jewelry maker in the Bay Area. It was a two-day workshop and was expensive (I think around $2000) only because we chose an involved technique (mokune gane) that took longer and involved expensive materials. But we had a big enough piece of stock that we were able to make two sets of rings in case we lose one. Anyway it’s not nearly that much for a more normal ring and I think several major cities have newness who offer this service. It was super fun.

      I didn’t want a stone because they catch on things.

    22. GoryDetails*

      Yeah, I’m with the “completely ignore the ‘what you SHOULD spend'” folks; go with what you and your boyfriend want and can afford.

      FWIW, I didn’t get an engagement ring at all – not really a ring person, though I like the idea of fantasy-role-play costume-type rings, just not for everyday wear. We got matching gold bands with a Celtic knotwork pattern, made by a local goldsmith – they turned out a bit too heavy for my taste, but otherwise I liked the concept. (Truth in advertising – the marriage didn’t last. Had nothing to do with the rings, though!)

      If you haven’t already checked it out, there’s the “A Practical Wedding” web site, which aims at providing advice, articles, checklists, and more, for tailoring your wedding to your own tastes and budget.

      If you think you might want some advice on the interpersonal-relationship issues surrounding weddings – family feuds, overwhelming expectations, etc. – check out the “Captain Awkward” blog; if you search on “Captain Awkward” and “weddings” you can find some articles that might be of interest. (And if you’re lucky enough that your friends and families are kind and helpful and nonjudgmental and don’t demand things… well, the letters can be fun in a “glad I don’t need that advice” kind of way!)

    23. KatEnigma*

      $1600- $800 for the stone, $800 for the ring. Unfortunately, they seem to have all but gone out of business. And that was 20 years ago, but it was while gold was high. But it was a little over 2 weeks’ salary- not the silly months “recommendation” by DeBeers.

      I have an emerald surrounded by diamond chips, and the setting is thick yellow gold, with an inset celtic pattern. When I lost the stone and we replaced it 6-7 years ago, it also was in the $800 range. We went with a natural stone, but one that has some minor flaws, that you can’t see with the naked eye. Both times.

      We do talk about one day getting me a diamond anniversary band, but we decided to cruise for our 20th anniversary instead. If it ever happens, it would be a manufactured diamond. Which are identical to “real” diamonds- so much so that they have to inscribe a serial number to let a jeweler know it’s manufactured!

    24. Generic Name*

      My engagement ring and wedding band were about $500. Yes, you read that right. The center stone is a raw (uncut) diamond, there are small cut diamonds in the band, and it’s sterling silver. You absolutely do NOT need to spend thousands.

    25. Millie's Mom*

      I haven’t read any other replies. For myself personally, I don’t wear my ring. I like it, it’s beautiful, but even when I was newly engaged, I didn’t wear it all the time. I don’t wear jewelry much anyway, and I just found it mildly interfere with the things I was doing – catching a bit, etc, and I didn’t like that it was hard to dry underneath after I washed my hands. Anyway, my husband actually got his ring finger tattooed with my initial, and I was going to do the same, but was working at a place that had a “no visible tattoos” policy, so I just didn’t. Still might, but it’s a non- issue for us.

    26. Generic Name*

      And to answer your other wedding-related question, only pay for what’s important to you. This is my second marriage. I had already done the giant church wedding with a floofy dress. Didn’t want to do that again. I wanted to be married outdoors in the mountains, wear a dress that made me feel like a princess, have gorgeous flowers, and amazing pictures. That that’s exactly what we did. A planned elopement with no guests. You don’t have to save thousands for a wedding. If you want to be married, you can go to the courthouse and get married on Monday for whatever the filing fee costs. Yes, relatives might be upset, but if they are reasonable people, they’ll get over it. And if they’re unreasonable, do you really want to pay thousands on something because someone else thinks that’s what you should do? If it’s so important to them, they will pay for it.

    27. carcinization*

      My engagement ring is from Zales. Got married in 2009/we bought the ring at the very end of 2008. I remember those recommendations of spendy rings too, but mine was a little over $500. It’s white gold with 3 larger (still pretty small) diamonds in the middle that stick out and 3 tiny channel set diamonds on each side. I think they said it was from their “past present & future” collection, hence the 3 larger diamonds. I still really like it and it still looks nice, and I don’t usually remember to get the regular cleanings that came with the ring purchase. I do not know how much it’d cost now since I don’t really have a reason to price engagement rings again. Discussing other wedding stuff would probably need other specific questions though since that’s such a broad topic!

    28. Callie*

      My engagement ring cost maybe $1500-2000 when my now husband bought it 15 years ago.
      Not going to lie, I’m not a fan of it. He sort of got my style, but the main problem is the diamond sticks out too much and has ruined a number of my sweaters by catching threads. I only wear my engagement ring and wedding band to work and on dates.
      And to be honest, we almost broke up over his desire to get me a nice ring. We had discussed getting married and both said it was something we wanted, but he was stuck on doing a nice proposal. I wanted the marriage not the ring and just asked for a gold band. He had saved up for a ring, but then had to do an expensive car repair. We had planned to get engaged when my parents were visiting…but then the car issue and he wanted to save up again. I didn’t know he was trying to save up again. The weekend he actually planned to propose, I planned to break up with him. I spent most of Saturday crying because I felt he didn’t want to get married any more and decided to just cut ties. Luckily for him, he proposed the next day.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Mine has a high setting too. Which is probably what led to the stone getting knocked out. When we replaced the stone (and it took a couple years to have the extra cash for that) we asked the jeweler to lower the setting as much as she could. It wasn’t lowered much, but it almost never catches on sweaters and things now.

    29. Maggie*

      Mine was like $6500, center round diamond and pink ombré sapphires on the sides. I’ve worked in jewelry for a long time. Ignore all advice and get what YOU want that makes you happy and a price you’re comfortable with. Also get something you’ll want to/feel comfortable wearing, so many people just let theirs sit. Get a hard stone like diamond or sapphire, soft delicate stones will get damaged over time. And treat it well. If you never take it off it will warp and sustain a lot of damage. I personally love sapphires for engagement rings as sapphires come in very color and I love a pop of color. But anyways just do YOU and if you like it, go for it. Whether that’s $300 or $3000. Oh and don’t get something whisper thin unless you want your ring to be in for repairs every other week.

      1. WestsideStory*

        Your ring must be beautiful! I am imagining it.

        I don’t wear my engagement ring these days except for special occasions, although I did wear it daily the first 2 years. White gold, a square diamond with baguettes on either side. The center stone is a big chunky hand-cut diamond over 100 years old, it belonged to my husbands grandmother, he had it reset. I feel it’s an heirloom to pass down so I am way careful with it!

        1. Maggie*

          Your ring sounds super cool too! I love unique vintage cuts! It sounds like a great heirloom.

    30. California Dreamin'*

      Married 30 years this year, so this is not recent, but mine’s an antique (not a family ring but we found it at a small local jewelry store that had antiques.) The diamond is fairly small (maybe 1/2 carat) and the band is very slim. I liked the old-fashioned setting and at the time wanted something small because I have small hands. I think we paid $1,000 at the most. Then I chose an equally slim plain gold wedding band. I wanted a 10-year diamond anniversary band and had a heck of a time finding something (again) slim that would not overwhelm the original ring. I actually had a salesperson at Tiffany tell me that I should have my husband replace my original engagement ring with something bigger, which I thought was weird to suggest… I like my original ring, not looking to upgrade! I did find the slim anniversary band at a small jeweler. I’ve worn all three rings together for the 20 years since. Just recently I had them soldered together on the advice of another jeweler.
      I have a good friend who just wears a simple band, no stones. So you definitely don’t have to have the traditional engagement ring if you don’t care about that.

      1. WestsideStory*

        This made me laugh. I wanted to try on yellow diamonds so we went to Tiffany’s. The first one the salesperson urged me to try was a full carat; I have small hands too and I asked to see something a bit more in scale. Said the salesperson (and I swear) “That’s the first time I’ve EVER heard anyone say a diamond was too big!” God love ‘‘em and their urge to upsell!

    31. anon for this*

      I spent about $3k for my wife’s engagement ring in May 2022, and most of that was the stone. We went with a bigger stone–and a marquise cut, which looks even bigger–because her hands are large and she worried about a ring drawing attention to their size.

      We bought lab-grown diamonds (we’re both women, and I also got a ring) and prefer those over mined diamonds, so it’s nice that they’re also cheaper. We briefly looked at sapphires and rubies, which are hard enough to withstand daily wear, but the lab-grown versions were more expensive than mined gems. Moissanite is also lab-grown and hard enough for daily wear, and it’s much cheaper than a diamond if you don’t care about the symbolism of a diamond.

    32. MissCoco*

      It completely depends on what you want, but it’s definitely possible to spend a lot less if you are willing to be flexible. My rings are heirlooms so we only spent about $250 to do resizing and a minor change to the shank of the engagement ring. I could have found something similar for $800-1200 (potentially less, I don’t actually know much about my diamond, and I kind of suspect it’s not maxed out with the different “Cs”).

      My overall advice on rings is to not get talked in to any more “quality” than you actually want, I have ring shopped with a friend and was surprised by how much he wanted to get the “best stats” even when he couldn’t tell a difference in the stone.
      It is good to know the limitations of alternative stones so you aren’t disappointed down the road, but if you are interested in going non-diamond (or lab-created), it’s a great way to reduce the price.

      Definitely go to an independent local jeweler, we’ve had great experiences with several, and never felt upsold on anything. Our local shop even has an estate section with really nice options

    33. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’m not any of those, but I do have some suggestions.

      *My parents ended up getting replacement wedding rings fairly recently-in stainless steel. Cheap, and the symbolism is pretty good too. Bad part is that they’d be hard to saw off if you got into an accident or something.
      *I like the look of brown diamonds, and they are cheaper than white
      *Damascus rings are stunning
      *my mom says to make sure your diamond setting isn’t poky-she had to stop wearing hers when she had kids since she didn’t want to scratch the baby

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I got myself a stainless steel divorce ring twelve years ago and it still looks brand new. Very sturdy.

    34. FrontlinER*

      I’m currently planning my wedding. My engagement ring is mossanite (I did not spell that correctly lol) and it’s so sparkly! No one can tell that it’s not a diamond, and frankly, I don’t care. I get compliments on it and how he must have spent a fortune, when in fact, I know he did not! Definitely look into lab grown!

    35. SofiaDeo*

      IMO spending a lot of money on a ring is only if you have a lot of it to begin with, and can afford to lose an expensive stone. de Beers has a great marketing department, they have managed to sell the idea of expensive diamonds to most of the US at least. I personally don’t want to wear anything super expensive, what if the stone falls out? Or I lose it? My engagement ring was passed down, and is a modest square cut emerald. I’d rather have a new car or pay down the mortgage balance instead of spending money on jewelry or an expensive wedding…big party yes, matching “everything” and expensive deco, no. Plus, I don’t want to be a target for crime; I don’t take my “good” stuff with me when traveling anyway, only inexpensive arty stuff.

    36. Be the Change*

      My ring was a $20 silver and moonstone from a local hippy dippy shop. It got the job done; I started wearing it and immediately people began asking if it meant we were engaged. Don’t spend more than you feel comfortable.

    37. jasmine tea*

      My ring is a heart solitaire estate piece, with the old-fashioned V prong on the point. I refused to go with a modern setting, because they’re too frail for the stone shape. It’s .65 carats, VS1, and cost about $600 in the mid-aughts from a local family-owned jeweler.

      I worked in jewelry for 8 years, and I highly recommend estate pieces. The price is right, and the survivorship bias works in your favor: the flimsy pieces don’t survive for resale.

    38. HannahS*

      I didn’t get an engagement ring and we just did wedding bands, but I’d recommend looking for jewellers who are actual jewellers–like, they do the work in house, as opposed to the folks at a mall who take your order and ship it out. And if you live in a big city…consider driving out to a cheaper one :) Some independent jewellers cater to a luxury market so cost even MORE, but many don’t.

      Kay Jewellers (and similar) wanted TWICE as much money as a local jeweller who worked out of his house for plain gold bands. We spent $900 (CAD) for two 14k bands, one 3.5 mm and one 4.5 mm. This was in 2020.

    39. Melody Pond*

      We didn’t have rings at all until we were on our honeymoon (in a small town at the Oregon coast), and stopped in at a local jeweler’s shop on a whim. I found a dainty ring I really liked with three very small diamonds, nothing else. It was about $300, as I recall. I absolutely love it, and now that we’re coming up on our fifth anniversary, I’m so, so glad we didn’t do anything more expensive.

      At the time, I did occasionally catch myself thinking I needed or wanted something more glitzy and crazy expensive… but looking back, that was just me being susceptible to all the wedding marketing stuff. I don’t actually wear much jewelry at all, and this much smaller, simpler ring is far more consistent with my values than what “the articles” would have told us to get.

      Don’t listen at all to what magazines or internet articles tell you that you need. Those are put out by an industry with a financial incentive to convince you that you have to spend oodles of money on this event in your life. Think carefully about what will actually bring joy to you and your future spouse, and do that. Forget everything else.

    40. Bart*

      My partner (he/him) and I (she/her) decided we wanted matching bands. After our feminist engagement (no surprises and we each asked the other), we each wore our ring on one right hand as an engagement ring and then switched to the left hand when we married. Our bands are cut so they look like there are small stones in them but are just platinum.

    41. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My engagement ring cost about $250.00 in 1982. I know that would be more now but even then it was far less than most people spent. It’s a pear-shaped opal with two very small diamonds on either side. I love opals and did not want a typical engagement ring with a single diamond (not all that fond of diamonds even before I knew about the ethical issues involved).

      The best advice I can give you about all of this is to try and ignore what anyone says you “should” do. Buy the ring you love that you can afford. If you’d rather spend the money on something else, don’t get a ring! Have the wedding you want to have with the people you want there. If looking at Pinterest boards and IG feeds from wedding planners makes you happy, go for it! If it makes you anxious, then stop looking.

      You don’t need a ring to be engaged. You don’t need an IG-perfect sunset wedding to be married. It’s the intention that counts. Stay focused on the relationship and plan a celebration that will make you happy.

    42. Bluebell*

      I really didn’t want a diamond, so my husband and I went to a jeweler before we were officially engaged, and picked out a sapphire and two smaller triangular cut sapphires. I didn’t see the final product until the official proposal a few weeks later, but I was very happy with the result. My mom had an emerald in her engagement ring, and sold it after she and my father got divorced. I still really like my ring, but now that I’m not in an office every day, I don’t wear it all the time. My band is very small – I lost the original one after we had been mariied about 5 years and it cost less than $100 to replace – that was about 20 years ago. You should choose something that makes you happy, and if it’s not a diamond, or if it is an antique, that”s all good. Unlike other aspects of the wedding, this one is totally about you (and your fiance) so do what you want!

    43. Salamander*

      I find the idea that your engagement ring “should” be a percentage of your income, or even between price X or price Y, to be incredibly obnoxious. You don’t need a ring to be engaged.
      If you and your sweetie have discussed and decided you are going to get married, you are engaged. No jewelry is necessary. Any staged “when and how shall the proposal happen” is not necessary. The only thing required to be engaged is the mutual decision that you intend to get married.

      Everything else is window dressing, much of which is promoted/advertised by the wedding industry.

      Call a function hall and tell them you are having a 50th birthday party for your parent, with 150 guests, and see what kind of prices they quote. Then have a friend call the SAME hall and tell them you’re having a wedding reception for 150 people, and see what they quote. You’ll be amazed at how much they up the prices.

    44. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Do you really want an engagement ring, or is it just something you think you are “supposed to do”? If you don’t really want one, then don’t get one and save your money. If you do want one, then get one you can pay cash for; don’t go into debt for it. My wife did not want one because she didn’t want me to spend the money, and she didn’t want to always be snagging it on things. I did get her a 10 year anniversary band with diamonds in it, but they don’t stick up like a solitaire (also much more affordable). Also, diamonds are not actually worth the retail (or even wholesale) price. If you have a $2k ring and tried to sell it one day, you would be lucky to get $250 for it. It’s only worth $2k if you “trade up” to a more expensive ring with the same jeweler.
      General wedding advice – make sure you are focused on the marriage and not the ceremony. If all of your wedding day plans fell through (like, say there was suddenly a global pandemic..), would you go down to the courthouse and get married anyway and be just as happy, or would you insist on waiting it out indefinitely just so you could have “your special day”?

    45. Nack*

      I picked out a $89 engagement ring on Etsy. It’s sterling silver with white topaz as the stone. At a glance it probably passes as a traditional diamond ring but that was never important to me. Our wedding bands were given to us, so free :)

    46. Choggy*

      Mine was $5,000 for the diamond and a few thousand for the setting which is platinum, also have a platinum and diamond wedding band so all told the cost was probably $10K. This was about 22 years ago and I find myself wearing my engagement and wedding rings less and less. I think we were caught up in the whole needing to do what everyone else did, even if it really was not us. Case in point, I picked out a china pattern for my registry and have barely used it. If I had to do it over, I would not have gotten such an expensive ring and eloped. You do you.

    47. Chaordic One*

      One of my aunts had an enormous white sapphire ring which people regularly thought was a diamond and which got a lot of attention from people.

      Another aunt was nuts about jewelry from “Black Hills Gold” and she had matching engagement and wedding rings that she had soldered together. They were comparatively modest and reasonbly priced (cheap), but they were pretty and what she wanted.

    48. Numbat*

      We went with no engagement ring at all! ignore anyone who says you “must” spend a certain amount.

    49. vegan velociraptor*

      My engagement ring was around £300, and I got it in Brighton (UK) from a vintage jewellery shop. I literally have no idea why you’d spend huge amounts if you don’t want to! Mine is really lovely and unique (a fire opal), and I love it far more than the really really expensive diamond rings.

      My general advice for wedding stuff is to think about what things are most important to you and put the money there. Completely ignore what you “should” do.

    50. allathian*

      I’m not big on the whole wedding hoopla. We decided to get married when I was past the first trimester of my pregnancy, it was a joint decision and there was no proposal. It was largely a practical matter, I much preferred for all of us to have the same name. Neither of us particularly likes being the center of attention, so we ruled out a big wedding from the start, and my pregnancy gave us the perfect excuse.

      So I didn’t have an engagement ring, but my wedding ring has a plain band of yellow gold and a band of white gold with 7 artificial diamonds inset level with the band. If you don’t know otherwise, it looks like two rings. My husband has a plain gold band. I’ve never particularly enjoyed wearing jewelry of any kind, and now I only wear it on special occasions.

  32. Paris Geller*

    What are things you like to keep on hand for packing cold lunches/dinners when you don’t feel like cooking? My husband and I work separate shifts, so sometimes one of us will cook dinner for both of us but we often just do our own thing for meals. I’ll cook for one sometimes (as will he), but I’d like to have more things I can easily throw together. My go-to is a spring mix salad when various toppings & dressings and I do love that, but I’d like to expand a little more. Hoping for ideas for things like sandwiches, salad combos, etc. I haven’t thought of rather than my usual go-tos!

    1. fposte*

      Is cold required or do you really mean “not cooking a whole thing”? I do a lot of batch roasting of red peppers and then refrigerating them, and I put slices on crispbread with grated cheese and nuke them for a minute to melt the cheese. Actual cold: apples or pears and cheeses are a common lunch for me. My favorite summer dinner is sliced ripe peaches with slices of mozzarella and prosciutto on top. I keep a bowl by the fridge that holds packets of dried cherries and sliced almonds and then when it’s salad time I just pull out the lettuce mix, throw some of each in, add a drizzle, and I’m good to go.

      1. Paris Geller*

        Mostly not cooking a whole thing, but definitely interested in actual cold meals (that’s more for lunch options). That peach + mozarella + prosciutto combo sounds delightful!

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I often make a pasta salad (non-mayo with lots of veggies and sometimes chicken, cheese or meat) at the beginning of the week and eat it a few times through the week. A batch will make me three meals.

      1. Paris Geller*

        What dressings do you use? I’m not a fan of mayo-based pasta salad and I sometimes make one with Italian dressing that I do love, but I’d be interested in more ideas!

        1. Red Sky*

          Back when I could eat wheat and dairy I loved to make a big batch of tortellini pasta salad; toss in cherry tomatoes, blue cheese or feta crumbles, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, olives, chick peas, maybe some bacon bits or pancetta, and toss with an oil/vinegar type dressing. Maries Red Wine Vinaigrette was one of my go to’s.

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          I often use the Olive Garden Italian but have also used a Greek salad dressing and made my own lemon vinaigrette.

    3. Missb*

      I like peanut noodle salad from Budget Bytes. You can dress it when you eat the meal (pack the dressing separate). The red cabbage may stain a bit. It’s an easy salad to add cold sliced chicken breast to if you want some meat.

      I also like a greek “salad” bowl with chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, greek olives, feta, roasted red peppers and marinated artichokes. I do a tahini lime dressing with a bit of water to make it thin to pour over the salad (sorry, hard to call it a salad when there are no greens). At any rate it is filling and tasty with plenty of protein and different flavors. I tend to add a bit of smoked paprika to the tahini and lime dressing (which, by the way, is just tahini thinned with lime juice, sprinkle salt if you feel it needs it).

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My go-tos tend to be sandwiches – deli turkey a lot, but also tuna salad with mayo, Dijon mustard and a bit of relish. (You could also do tuna salad on a bed of greens or as a stuffed tomato. Maybe a stuffed pepper too, not sure?)

      I am also a big one for quick and easy nachos – plateful of chips with a lot of cheese and maybe some black beans, microwaved for a minute and a half. Sour cream or guac for topping if you like.

      A jacket potato can be done in 6-8 minutes in the microwave – wash it and leave it wet, stab it with a fork a few times, wrap it loosely in a paper towel, and microwave it for 7ish minutes (partially dependent on size). Then split it open and top it with whatever appeals – butter and sour cream, cheese, broccoli, bacon bits, beans, leftovers of many varieties do well on a potato.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Cold meal: summer sausage, sharp cheddar, a few baby dill pickles, sliced up apple or pear, all on a plate. Crusty bread roll/slice on the side. (Husband likes a spicy mustard to dip in as well.)

    5. Alex*

      I love sliced avocado, tomato, and tuna plain from a can, all on a plate next to each other. Dress with balsamic dressing (or just olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which is often what I do. Add salt if you do this). Also nice to add a hard boiled egg if you want some more protein. Tons of good fats, protein, and fiber to keep you full!

    6. KatEnigma*

      We have been defaulting to scrambled eggs when nothing is defrosted/just want something quick for dinner. We currently have some precooked frozen sausages that I can defrost fast and add in. With or without mushrooms or broccoli or anything else we have in the fridge to toss in, but always with cheese.

    7. KatEnigma*

      Also, for lunches, there was a time I’d just bake up some boneless chicken- with a dusting of curry and garlic salt, or other spice/mix of your choice- on a weekend and then have them to toss onto salads throughout the week. You can vary the salad with different dressings as well as different spices. Sometimes egg, sometimes shredded cheese, sometimes grapes or craisins or nuts.

    8. Retired Accountant*

      Cooked black lentils, or sometimes green lentils. I drizzle some pickled tomatoes over them (Vivian Howard’s Red Weapons) or Target’s Calabrian chili paste (or sauce, can’t remember). Add any raw vegetables I have around, tomatoes, sweet peppers, salad cucumbers, or cooked greens if I have them. It keeps well and is good right out of the fridge. I wouldn’t buy fresh herbs for this but it’s a good way to use up leftover cilantro (there’s always leftover cilantro.)

      1. This Old House*

        I’ve also been loving lentil salads for an easy prepped lunch. I use a balsamic dressing and chopped cucumbers and carrots (should really be shredded carrots, but then I’d have to wash a box grater!) at a minimum, plus whatever other veggies I have available.

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      I commiserate- I often don’t get home until 11pm and need to have second dinner. Some things I keep in hand at various times:
      Jenny Rosenstrach’s marinated beans – great for salads or mixed with grains, or just eaten on their own.
      Soy marinated tea eggs – I make kimchi ramen and eat a tea egg with it. Or I just eat the egg as part of a larger snack dinner.
      Kimchi. For fried rice or to scramble in an egg or just mashed with tofu.
      Hummus, cucumber and pickled onions in a wrap.
      I have also been known to come hime from work and eat half a jar of pickled herrings and an avocado for dinner. I think an avocado is one of my favorite “almost a meal” items.

    10. HannahS*

      My two “I REALLY don’t have time for this” packed lunches are:

      1. Slices of whole wheat bread, some cheddar cheese, and two raw eggs in a glass container. At lunchtime, I scramble the eggs in the glass container and microwave for one minute, stir, add the cheese, nuke another 30 secs, and make a sandwich. Pack an apple and some nuts for snacks.

      2. Cut up some tofu, put it in a container, add a tablespoon of miso paste. Stick a dashi packet* in a ziplock bag. At lunchtime, boil water in the kettle and pour it into the container, add the dashi packet, stir, discard the dashi packet, eat.

      *Dashi packets are like a little teabag of savoury flavours used in making quick miso soup (among other things.) I use the Yamasan brand, which I buy online. It’s without MSG and without shellfish, so works well for me.

  33. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

    Any recommendations for things to do in the Charleston, SC area in April? Restaurants, day trips, etc.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I was there in 2007, and have no idea if the restaurants I visited are still open – more up-to-date reviews are probably more reliable. But I recall the lovely setting, the historic neighborhoods, and some delicious meals! (I wasn’t into geocaching then, but if I were visiting now I’d use that as one point of interest – often there are geocaches attached to intriguing historical sites, some of them not that well-known to the usual tourist routes.)

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        The geocaching thing reminded me that the Folly Beach pier was *swarming* with Pokemon Go back when it was big in 2016. There were kids running on and off the pier all day.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It’s been years since I was there, but the things I remember most were an excellent ghost walk (lots of purported haunted places, and the tour guide was great) and an amazing dinner at 82 Queen.

      Based on general knowledge of coastal areas in the Southeast, you should expect high humidity and be prepared with lots of bug spray and antihistamines. April is either going to be high pollen, high mold, or both.

    3. Loopy*

      Charleston has a lot to do, what sort of activities and food do you like? How long will you be in the area?

      For military history the Yorktown is a popular place (and very Interesting!) but fewer people know about the Huntley museum and it’s very cool if you’re interested in seeing a civil war era submarine. For less military focused history I adore the historic house tours. For a more traditional history museum experience, there’s the Charleston museum.

      There’s lots of water activities (renting kayaks, paddle boarding) and hiking if nature is a top goal. If a beach is your goal there are several, depending on the vibe and proximity to certain amenities you’d prefer.

      Food and shopping are everywhere downtown, lots of historical areas to walk, bakeries and coffee shops and nice park on the water if you prefer water views. There’s also the market which is pretty touristy but not bad for a stroll is you’re open to playing tourist. Be warned, downtown can be on the pricey side as it caters to tourists. Lower cost options tend to be chains around the college of Charleston.

      There’s a lot more, happy to give more specific recs.

    4. Loopy*

      I’m a local and had a long comment that appears to have gotten eaten/disappeared?

      What specific types of things do you like to do/eat?

      Weather will be warm/hot in April but not yet the oppressive muggy heat of our June/July. I’d say highs in upper 70s to low/mid 80s are likely, and definitely in the 80s towards en dog April. Night will be more comfortable.

      1. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

        My husband is more of the lay on the beach, do something active type. I’m more of the explore culture/history and learn something new about where I’m visiting type. Both of us enjoy finding a good coffee shop and reading together.

        1. Loopy*

          Ah, looks like my comment appeared after all! There are several history recs up there (going to definitely recommend a historic house tour, my favorite is Edmonston Alston house), but also I don’t mention there are lots of local plantations with tours that include the history so it’s more than just a pretty stroll through gardens (I can’t remember which, but one had a Gullah woman who would give talks on the Gullah Geechi culture and that was very informative). Magnolia gardens and Middleton place are the ones I usually recommend.

          Beaches are all over and on weekends can get pretty crowded. I actually really like one that’s a bit out of the way, Kiawah’s Beach Walker Park (it’s a bit of a drive if you’re downtown, around 45 mins). You can walk quite a ways down the beach away from the crowds and the buildings which is really lovely because there are lots of birds and it’s much quieter, and the bathrooms and shower rinse off stations are always clean, there’s a parking lot which is very convenient, entrance is a 10 dollar fee though. Folly Beach has all the fun touristy beachy stuff and eateries but parking is a huge hassle and it’ll be the most crowded. Traffic at peak times is also a hassle. It’s a fun atmosphere but only if you enjoy the beach town vibe (lots of beach rentals, surf shops, restaurants, etc)

          For active things, shem creek has some good kayak and paddle board rentals if I recall, I haven’t been in a while but as a note there are boats around where you start and end but you can get away from all that if you ask where to head.

          For coffee, my favorite place downtown is Kudu coffee specifically for it’s outdoor courtyard. Hard to snag a seat but has a lovely little fountain and is worth it if you can. Downtown is loaded with coffee shops, so that’s where I’d focus on that!

          Echoing whoever recommended bug spray as well! It might make hiking less appealing, even with bug spray, but I’ve got hiking recs too if that’s the sort of active thing you might want to include.

    5. Dr. Doll*