weekend open thread – April 27-28, 2024

Meet Grendel and Teddy!

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: Like Happiness, by Ursula Villarreal-Moura. When a reporter calls, a woman reexamines the relationship she had with an older writer as a young woman. Excellent.

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

{ 1,034 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    The weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s what happened to me today” personal-blog-style posts are not. We also can’t do medical advice here.

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

  2. Nicosloanica*

    I enjoyed reading the post in last week’s thread about small items that you regretted not buying (and the related one about original or high quality things that were worth the investment). The way I was raised, we weren’t supposed to be invested in material items (“vanity”) and I guess I still feel guilty sometimes if I’m too acquisitive or material – so it’s good to be reminded that there’s nothing inherently wrong with valuing objects! Do you have any stories of things you lost or missed out on, *and then went back and acquired them?* Were they as good as you imagined? I wondered how many of the “missed out on” items in the previous post wouldn’t have been so great except for the regret/remorse building them up in our minds.

    1. HannahS*

      There was an utterly gorgeous cotton print from Liberty of London (Penrose D) that I didn’t buy, telling myself I’d buy it at a particular milestone; it was phenomenally expensive to me at the time. This was around 2012 (coral tones! floral! make a twee shirtdress!) Of course, by the time I hit the milestone, it was no longer available. I searched every so often at every online store I could think of, and finally in 2020 I found someone in Japan who had some. Possibly because she had mis-spelled the name of the pattern, it had flown under the radar. I bought 2 meters, which is all she had. I still think it’s beautiful, but, well, I wanted it 12 years ago and my taste has changed somewhat. The background has a yellow undertone that looks terrible against my skin. I’m glad to have it, and I’ll enjoy making a skirt out of it, but it doesn’t blow my hair back.

      I’ve learned over time that if I desperately love a fabric, I should just buy it and use it immediately (or not, if it’s too much money.) Often, by the time I feel ready to cut into my most precious fabrics, my taste has changed, or I am able to afford better.

      1. RedinSC*

        Back in the very late 80s my mom brought me a couple of meters of a beautiful Liberty print, with peacock feathers. I’ve held on to it for decades now, and never made anything with it.

        BUT I think I finally have a pattern for it. This year I’m going to make a dress out of this fabric, and I’m going to wear the heck out of it! It’s so pretty, there was never a pattern good enough for it!

          1. RedinSC*

            It’s by Deer and Doe, the Magnolia Robe dress.

            I’ll post a link below, but I didn’t buy it from this link, I got it from a local fabric store

    2. AJ*

      In my early 20s in Europe with family I bought a Bally (high-end for me) leather wallet in a stunning shade of blue. Then a few months later on a date I was pickpocketed at a bar at Halloween. I hunted on Etsy for a few years and have tried to replace it with another blue wallet but nothing is the same. But it is now a fun story for my children about how mommy’s wallet was taken by Superman on her 2nd date with dad (I hid the lead that losing a wallet was worth a long marriage).

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      A gorgeous dress was too expensive for me at full price (I could afford it but not justify it to myself) and sold out in my size when it finally went on sale. Last year it appeared on ThredUp and I bought it immediately! It’s so pretty and comfortable and I got it for 70% off, no regrets at all haha

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        This happened to me on Vinted recently. I rarely buy new clothes, and when I do it’s never at full price. Last year, I saw a dress and a jumper that I loved but couldn’t justify to myself (out of the budget I’m happy to spend on clothes, even on sale).

        The dress appeared twice on Vinted, and both times, someone bought it right on the day I had convinced myself to make the seller an offer. It recently appeared a third time, at a much lower price, though in lightly used condition rather than brand new. I bought it, and it looks great and fits beautifully.

        The jumper never came up for months and I was about to pause looking until autumn. But it finally appeared only a couple of weeks ago, and I got it, new with tags, for less than a third of the price.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        A looong time ago, I bought your basic ball gown from JC Penney (told you it was a long time ago). Two months later, it was available in blue in my size for half off. Did not hesitate one second in grabbing it.

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I was shopping for business clothes and my eye was grabbed by a green sequined long-sleeve dress. Luckily my mom was with me and convinced me to try it on, then buy it, over my protests of “but WHEN am I ever going to wear it??”
      The answer is like 5 or 6 times a year at any party or fancy event I go to! It’s flown across the country, survived thanksgiving cooking, even been to the opera. I love that dress and I’m so glad my mom talked me in to buying it.

    5. Grad School Attempt 2*

      Saw a beautiful, solid walnut trinket shelf at the antique store that I knew would go perfectly with my antique bed, but it was expensive and I certainly didn’t need it. But I kept thinking about that shelf for the next many months (possibly as long as a year), and when I finally went back to the antique store, they still had it! So I bought it, and it looks perfect in my guest bedroom. Absolutely no regrets for spending that $200.

    6. Aphrodite*

      I had bookmarked a very special Italian ice cream maker for about three years, watching it move between $1200 and $700, a horrendous amount for an optional machine. There were others of course that were good and much less expensive. But I never liked having to freeze the container ahead of time and so on. This one does it all and in record time.

      Well, last December the price went down again so I bought it. And I do not regret it. Sure, it’s not essential but it sure is nice. Amazon let me split the payments into five for no extra money so I decided to set aside that amount out of each paycheck. It got paid off last month and I still like it. Yes, it is as good as I imagined.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Oh would you mind sharing the name of the ice cream maker? I’ve been looking for a good one that doesn’t require pre-freezing but I haven’t found any favorites yet

        1. Aphrodite*

          I’m happy to do so. It is the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5-Quart Ice Cream Maker, Stainless – 110/120V 60 HZ for $682 currently. Be sure to read the reviews too; they. provide incredibly detailed information. One from July 2023 is hilarious: “Having owned the Lello 4080 for a month, I think it is important I temper some of the expectations that prospective owners might have:
          1. Do not expect to successfully control your weight again, ever, after buying this machine.
          2. Do not expect to eat store-bought ice cream without feeling disappointed.
          3. Do not expect to save money as, although making ice-cream is cheaper than buying it, you will invariably end up eating more ice cream than before.”

          Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004RDF0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

          1. saf*

            I have had the gelato by Lello for many years now – their machines are great. I also waited a very long time for it to go one sale. They are worth it!

    7. Almost Academic*

      A really gorgeous red Marc Jacobs purse…it was nearly $1000 at the time, and I was in college cobbling together whatever money I could to avoid taking on too much debt. So definitely wasn’t going to happen. But it reminded me of my bookbag as a child with the design, and was so beautiful in shade, and appeared so grown up – I stared at it in Nordstroms for ~2 years that it was on display, and was so sad at missing my shot when it disappeared about 6 months before graduation. Wandered into the Nordstrom Rack nearby a few months later in search of a graduation dress, saw the same display bag for sale for ~$400, and well long story short I still use it a ton 14+ years later and it brings me the same joy!

    8. Pennyworth*

      Not something I went back an bought, but I still have fond memories of a beautiful olive green umbrella with a carved parrot head handle I saw in Paris a long time ago.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I know exactly the store you mean! I had a hard time with the price but my husband bought me a lovely purple umbrella with pink trim and a green-eyed cat head in the handle sometime in the late 90s.

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I was looking to buy curtains for my bed house a couple of years ago, good ones to last and in my lounge so I’d be looking at them a lot.
      I saw some I liked but my mum persuaded me to order a different design than my initial favourite…I wasn’t sure but thought I could return them if necessary.
      They arrived and I was quite right they were too blue! I immediately (literally within minutes) ordered the ones I had favoured originally – and discovered the too-blue ones went perfectly in my bedroom so I could get rid of the awful red chenille nineties ones with random Latin words on.

      Every time I look at my lounge curtains, which I love because they have little embroidered trees on, I am reminded to stick to my guns, trust my own taste and not let others persuade me otherwise. My house my rules.
      For the Austen fans I’m like a low-stakes Anne Elliott lol.

    10. Jay (no, the other one)*

      A few years ago after losing a great deal of weight I went shopping at a Manhattan boutique for the first time in my life. I tried on a gorgeous cream and orange blouse that cost more than any article of clothing I had every purchased, including my wedding dress (which wasn’t all that expensive and I was married in 1984, but still). I didn’t buy it. I told the story on Facebook and it generated a very long thread of people telling me to BUY THE BLOUSE. So I went on the boutique’s website and ordered the blouse – and UPS fouled up the delivery and I thought it was lost. I figured that was the universe telling me I’d been too self-indulgent.

      The blouse turned up two days later. I absolutely love it and every time I wear it I am reminded that my friends want me to be happy.

    11. K*

      When I was working part-time, I was at Anthropologie one afternoon and saw an entire set of 8 plates and 8 soup bowls in a gorgeous yellow with white glazed insides. They were originally $20/30-something apiece, on sale, and they were having an additional 40% off sale or something like that. I went home and looked at my mismatched Ikea and random dishes, thought about it all night, then woke up the next morning and drove straight there as soon as they opened. Whole set for like $100! So so glad I went back.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I love upgrading like that! When you just decide that yes, I am going to have something nicer, because I want it!

    12. Elle Woods*

      A while back I saw a beautiful Kate Spade purse in a vibrant deep green shade; it was the perfect size and style for me. I just couldn’t justify spending $379 on a purse though. Fast forward a few months when I saw an ad on Instagram for the Kate Spade Outlet sale. Searched the site and there it was. I wound up getting it for about $100 and have used it every day for nearly a year now. I absolutely love it. As an added bonus, I get a ton of compliments on it too!

    13. Can't Sit Still*

      I once found a set of dessert plates with a matching chocolate pot (for serving hot chocolate, not made out of chocolate) and cups. The pattern is vintage French chocolate advertisements. I dithered about it for a while, and then had to hunt them all down elsewhere. So worth it! The dessert plates are the perfect size for sandwiches, pastries, and all sorts of small meals, and of course, desserts of all kinds. I use them all the time. And owning a chocolate pot feels decadent, but it’s a delightful way to serve hot chocolate made from scratch.

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A pair of ren faire boots. Specifically, the 9-button boots from Sons of Sandlar. I resisted them for years and finally treated myself. They are the most comfortable boots I have ever worn and look killer with leggings and a dress.

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

      Tickets to *Ain’t Misbehaving’*. When it was first on Broadway, I was too young to go get tickets and see it myself, though I really wanted to. Why I didn’t nag my parents into it, I don’t know.

      When the revival went up with the original cast again (including Nell Carter and Andre DeShields!), I was older, and you had better believe I snapped up a ticket and went as soon as I could! I got the cassette tape of the cast album, which I still play. It is one of my favorite pieces of media and one of the reasons I make sure that my CD player also has a cassette player.

  3. Flower*

    Yay, new kitties!!! Are they “fosters,” Alison? (I bet you can guess whyI put that in quotes…).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They are not! They are full-fledged adoptees. (Technically we did foster them for a week to make sure our existing cats were okay with them, but the plan from the start was to adopt as long as that part went well, which it did.)

      1. Aphrodite*

        Alison, I am always admiring of your ability have cats that accept new cats so readily. You must have a Zen household. Or something.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Literally the only characteristic we look for when fostering or adopting is “actively likes other cats — not just tolerates, but actively likes.” It has worked out really well!

          1. Librarian beyond the Shelves We Know*

            I think Ask as Manager needs a separate page just for the Ask About the Kitties, and it’s just pictures of them with their bios.

  4. HannahS*

    How do people do the zero inbox thing? Is there a guide somewhere that I could read, or if you’re someone who feels really good about how they manage emails talk about how they manage?

    1. Nikla*

      Hi, I think it depends on the work you do. Mine is very reactive with few large projects, so I tend the do the work, move the email, do the work, move the email. Delete, delete. I’ll go through in the morning and highlight anything that needs to be done, delete or file the rest, work through anything left with the highlights and by mid afternoon, it’s pretty empty. Bounce back anything with a question and file the original email. Hope this helps!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Lots of folders and faith in searching. :) it’s easier to inbox-zero my personal email than my work email because there’s way less of it. My work Outlook has a Snooze feature that I wish my personal email client would get – the email disappears from the inbox into a “snoozed” folder and reappears looking like a new email at the designated time. But otherwise, if the email requires action, I do the thing as soon as I am able to – otherwise I either delete it or file it in a folder.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It’s in “New” Outlook (which I guess a lot of orgs aren’t deploying yet, but if you use Outlook for personal you should be able to get it – I have the Snooze feature in Outlook on my personal Mac, but not on my work PC), iPhone Outlook, and Outlook Web Access. And even the Outlook versions that don’t have the Snooze feature do still have the Snoozed folder (which is where snoozed stuff goes) and will behave appropriately – the stuff moves off and comes back, you just can’t initiate the Snooze.

    3. Elle*

      The biggest thing I did was unsubscribe to all the stuff I don’t read. I did it while I was watching TV over a couple of weeks. That alone reduced my inbox to almost nothing each morning. I also have folders where I store emails I’ll need in the future. I’m far from perfect but my emails get read and are mostly stuff I need to know.

    4. EA*

      This is what I do:
      1. Unsubscribe or filter mass emails to generally reduce traffic.
      2. Use conversation mode to reduce the number of threads that are visible.
      3. Archive (I rarely delete anything except spam) any emails that you have already “dealt with” or were just informational and require no more immediate follow up.
      4. When emails come in, deal with anything that can be done in 10 mins or less – reply immediately, forward to others, add a task to my to do list, etc.
      5. I personally leave emails that need more time for a reply in the inbox, but try to translate them into tasks for my work management board (like Asana)
      6. In order to do Zero Inbox one of the most important things for me was getting good at using search to find old emails that I archived. They aren’t deleted forever, but not having to look at them is so helpful.

      1. AW*

        My favorite thing to use is inbox rules. Outlook lets you write up custom rules so that, for example, emails from certain people are automatically routed to a folder that you can look at later

      1. HannahS*

        Thanks, yes to clarify I am asking about my personal inbox! It’s a total mess and I don’t know where to start with it.

        1. acmx*

          I’ve started by sorting alphabetically and then mass deleting. I do this on flights often.
          Definitely unsubscribe as mentioned above.

          I do have folders that I try to filter with but that only helps with some of it, personally. I actually have multiple email addresses that I use (ex I have an email for travel, and email that’s more for junk) and that helps me be more organized (also 2 are newer so fresh start and easier to keep under control).

        2. Meryl*

          I am trying to reduce my inbox as well. I re-gained access to one of my oldest mails I hadn’t opened in years and there was 2000+ unread mails. I deleted over a thousand just by sorting by sender and deleting in batches from subscriptions I didn’t read (and writing down the names to unsubscribe afterwards). It’s been months and I haven’t yet got the will to return…

          1. acmx*

            If you haven’t accessed it years, do you really need to think about those emails and could just delete them all?

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              That’s what I do–I just automatically delete emails every morning. About one in every ten is something I need to see at all.

        3. slashgirl*

          At one point, my sister had over 5000 unread emails in her inbox, it made my skin crawl. We live together, so one Saturday morning, I cleaned it out for her while she was watching tv. Luckily, it was in an email client where I could sort by sender alphabetically. (And she is keeping up with her email better than she used to, I think she just got overwhelmed by all the emails…)

          A lot of the emails were newsletters or promotional stuff from companies she’d bought from. I’d ask her if she wanted to keep emails from there–then I’d delete it and unsubscribe if she no longer wanted those newsletters, etc.

          If you have gmail which won’t let you sort by sender, then do a search using the “from” function, so from:insertemailaddress.com or the name. Other times if it’s a newsletter and includes the same word in each subject line, I’ll just search on that word. Either way, I can then mass delete them.

          For my own email, I use folders–sometimes with filters to send emails directly there, but I usually let it come to my inbox and then decide if I want to keep that email. My aim is to keep the inbox less cluttered–I’m rarely ever at zero, but could be if I worked at it a little more often…but I don’t. :)

        4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The best way I have put a limit on my inbox is that my email is through Apple and I use the unholy heck out of their “hide my email” feature. Any time I need to put in an email address for something, if it may be a one time thing, I use that and it creates an email alias that I can turn off when I’m done. If I end up needing the account long term I can change the email on it later, but for like, collecting quotes on drywall repairs, I put in an alias for each of the three companies I quoted with, turned off the other two when I picked one, and turned off the third when the job was completed. If I need to work with them again I can turn it back on, but in the meantime, no spam from any of those contacts. This has reduced my incoming junk email a TON.

          On anything I do keep, I aggressively unsubscribe from unnecessary emails. I don’t keep notifications from my utilities and other bills once they’re on the docket to be paid – every weekend I check my bill calendar, schedule payments that aren’t already automated and update the calendar, and delete the emails.

          I have folders for big purchases, things related to home repairs and such, travel plans (sorted by trip, and I delete each folder when the trip is done and dusted), and a couple of short term follow-up folders for ordered purchases/scheduled appointments where I throw all the reminders, shipping info etc. When the thing arrives or passes, I either delete or file the emails.

    5. Generic Name*

      I use gmail for my personal mail and I use the feature where all unread emails show up top. I use that as a personal “to do” list of sorts. I know it violates all sorts of productivity rules, but I don’t care. It works for me. I’m also very diligent at unsubscribing from things immediately. (And I never say yes to an e-receipt because that’s how those stores get you on their mailing lists.)

    6. Elle Woods*

      I have folders and some of those folders have subfolders. For example, I have folder “receipts” and there are subfolders for it, “purchases” and “payments.” The purchases subfolder is for any digital receipts; the payments subfolder is digital receipts of online payments for credit cards, digital deposits, etc.

      I’m also diligent about reading things and deleting them as soon as they’re not needed (like dinner reservation emails, special announcements, discount codes, etc.).

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      For my personal inbox, I unsubscribed from a lot of mailing lists. I was on So. Many. Lists. I give them one chance – I unsubscribe and wait. If it’s still showing up after a couple of days, it gets tossed in Junk. It’s not down to nothing, or only rarely, but it’s not nearly as stressful as it used to be and I’m generally only receiving emails that I want now.

      I also aggressively delete. Can I find it elsewhere? Delete. Is it a someday sort of thing? Delete. Is it a temptation I don’t need? Delete. I archive conversations, emails with important information or documents attached, and receipts. That’s it. Everything else gets deleted.

    8. Professor Plum*

      I don’t even try. If I need to find something I use the search feature. I have one email that is for newsletter subscriptions and random stuff. I figure if I ever hit a limit I can anew. Just looked and it’s got over 65,000 emails in it and that doesn’t bother me at all!

    9. ifesbob*

      I do it by trying to keep the number of places emailing me down. If I can’t be bothered to unsubscribe from junk email, I simply mark it as read without opening it. I also scan my inbox for emails which are important, read them or mark them as important. I used to be really good at actually keeping up with my emails, but now I just mark them as read after checking for important ones. It really depends on the volume of work you get, however. If you get a ton of important emails that strategy probably won’t work.

  5. bright as yellow*

    Does anyone have Audio book recommendations?
    I’m looking for books on audible where the narration improved your experience with the book.

    My favourites so far:
    – Mrs Dalloway by Juliet Stevenson (she really made the characters some alive, there’s so much emotion in her reading of the book)
    – the Sandman books (full cast, background music, everything)

    1. HannahS*

      Pride and Prejudice. I never had the patience to read it, despite loving the movie* and I found that having it read to me helped me enjoy the slower pace rather than be frustrated. Same thing with Lord of the Rings.

      *Yes, the 2005 one. I maintain that it’s better than the 1995 mini-series and everyone else can just be mad about it.

      1. word nerd*

        I adore the 2005 version! And I say this as a giant Austen fan who’s read P&P many times.

      2. Phryne*

        I’m not mad for the simple reason that I never bothered to watch the superfluous 2005 movie. :p

      3. Meryl*

        Who was the narrator in the version you heard?

        I am ashamed to confess that I’ve never gotten around to see the last episode of the BBC series.. The movie has a special place in my heart because it was my introduction as a young teenager to Jane Austen’s works.

      4. Bright as yellow*

        I read the book so many times I can quote whole bits of dialogue. And I did start listening to Rosamond Pike’s audiobook, she does a great job, but I think I’ll need five more years before I get back to the book!
        And I also prefer the 2005 movie to the 1995 show! They did a great job finding a story to tell in a couple of hours.

      5. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        You are correct, it’s much more politically sharp and emotionally nuanced than the miniseries which makes it look like the Bennetts and the Darcys are basically in the same class (“all long-ago folks look fancy to my eyes!”) thus making the plot make no sense.

        Ahem. On audiobooks, I listened to Our Wives Under The Sea which I am still thinking about months later, and I don’t know if I would have stuck with it in print form – the narration adds a lot to the mood and characterisation, which is like 95% of the book (it’s not super plot driven).

      6. ElastiGirl*

        Fwiw, I taught a class where we looked at all the film P&Ps last semester, and all my students passionately preferred the 2005 version, by about 9 to 1.

    2. word nerd*

      Memoirs read by the author can be neat because it feels like you’re having a conversation with someone. Some faves are Michelle Obama narrating Becoming and Maya Angelou narrating I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

      Some others:
      Kevin R. Free narrating any of the Murderbot Diaries books
      Jonathan Cecil with any PG Wodehouse
      Stephen Fry and Sherlock Holmes
      Jim Dale and Harry Potter

      1. word nerd*

        I just noticed that you were talking about Audible specifically. Try searching for “Dolby Atmos” and seeing if any of the Audible Originals catch your eye–some of them feel like you’re listening to a movie with the full cast and sound quality, and some are surprisingly good!

        Also, several of my recommendations above are already included with the Plus membership. And I really liked Rosamund Pike narrating Pride & Prejudice, since I saw someone mentioned P&P above.

      2. Bright as yellow*

        I really liked Becoming when I read it last year.
        Murderous diaries was recommended to me by my best friend, so I’ll check it out, thank you!
        I’m currently dipping into Sherlock Holmes by Stephen Fry. But I’m basically thinking of ending my audible subscription next month. So I just want to use up the 2 credits I already have, and get maybe resubscribe later when I finish the books I already purchased.
        I was thinking of getting the Sherlock Holmes but wanted to check here if there’s anything else out there that would be more interesting :)

        1. word nerd*

          Makes sense, do try the search for “Dolby Atmos” and see if anything strikes your fancy before your subscription ends–lots of those are included in the membership.

          1. bright as yellow*

            Oh wow, they’re all included in the subscription. And I randomly clicked on a couple, and they’re not things I would search for, but I think look interesting. And it’s bedtime now, and they have some sleep sounds I’m going to try. Thanks for the pointer!

            1. the cat's pajamas*

              Thirding The Murderbot Diaries! For other snarky sci-fi, Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman was good, too.

              It’s YA, but the narration for The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steivater is amazing, she also wrote the intro music. All the Crooked Saints by her was very good, too.

              I also enjoyed Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson and Sourdough by Robin

    3. Pam Adams*

      I love the Murderbot books as audiobooks. The narrator gets the voice exactly. Also Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor and its sequels.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      They Both Die At The End – you wouldn’t think two people recording narration, presumably not together, could have great chemistry but they really do. Plus the third narrator is Bahni Turpin who has a lovely voice and always does great book narrations (my favorite featuring her is On the Come Up). Other YAs with great dual narrators are What If It’s Us and The Sun is Also a Star.

      Klara and the Sun – I feel like the audio captured the combination of sweet and unsettling really well.

      How to Be Perfect – Mike Schur narrates with support from the Good Place cast, super fun and silly if you’re a fan of the show.

      The Secret Commonwealth was one of the worst books I’ve read in years but its one redeeming feature is that it was narrated by Michael Sheen, who is wonderful to listen to. So I’d suggest seeing if other books done by him appeal to you but NOT that one lol (Good Omens is a full cast one with David Tennant, which is great)

      1. Bright as yellow*

        I already have Good Omens (I love Neil Gaiman and the Good Omens show) and I looked for other books narrated by David Tennant (i absolutely love his voice and accent), but silly me didn’t think of checking out Michael Sheen :D

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        +1- I thought the Audible Full cast recording of Good Omens was fantastic. Also I really like Phillip Pullman’s books on audio- i find reading them a little dense, but they work for me on audio.
        David Tennant’s narration of the How To Train You Dragon series is beloved by my kids.
        Other really good audiobooks I’ve listened to lately:
        The Measure- I’m pretty sure Julia Whelan’s narration made this a much better book than it was
        Monsters We Defy
        10 Things that Never Happened
        Kal Penn’s memoir was fantastic too- I can’t remember the name off the top of my head, though

        1. bright as yellow*

          Wow so many good recommendations! My library has the how to train your dragon, and that’s definitely on my wish list.

          And I’m listening to a sample of “They Both Die At The End” right now, and I love the summary and what I’ve listened so far. The performance is indeed fabulous. Will check out the others as well. :)

      3. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        Oh I am so mad about Secret Commonwealth still! So mad! Especially after loving Belle Sauvage, this was such a letdown.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I was just meh about Belle Sauvage but Secret Commonwealth was infuriating. So bad it makes me dislike Philip Pullman on a personal level for creating it!

    5. Bookworm in Stitches*

      I love the David Rosenfelt mysteries narrated by Grover Gardner. Gardener’s voice is perfect for the main character, Andy Carpenter, a smart aleck lawyer.

      1. FalafalBella*

        My family listens to a new Andy Carpenter audiobook every year on our summer drive to Maine. We actually had the chance to meet David Rosenfelt and he was so delightful.

    6. TheMonkey*

      Ben Aaronovitch’s *Rivers of London* series. SO GOOD as an audio book. Still good as a regular book, but the narrator just NAILS it on so many levels.

      If you like urban fantasy and modern magic type of reads, I highly recommend this series in the audio realm

      1. Missa Brevis*

        Seconding this rec, the Rivers of London audiobooks are SO, SO GOOD! Honestly, I recommend it even if you’re not usually into urban fantasy – I’m not – unless you’re absolutely dead-set against any fantasy series, I think they’re worth giving a try.

        Also, maybe The Anthropocene Reviewed? It started out as a podcast, which is how I listened to it originally, but the audiobook version is a little more polished, and John Green’s narration is just wonderful.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I’ll third the recommendation for the “Rivers of London” books – I love them anyway, and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration is spot-on and very enjoyable.

      3. bright as yellow*

        I love the summary, but a friend once told me he didn’t think I’ll like the book, so I left it alone.
        But with four people recommending the book, I’ll have to give it a try!
        Can someone tell me what’s the vibe of the book? Is it dense/ light, grim or light, comedy or tragedy?

        1. GoryDetails*

          The “Rivers of London” series (which is quite extensive at this point, and includes spinoff short stories and even graphic novels) is a mix of police-procedural, humor (mainly in the snarky-banter category, which protagonist Peter excels in and which his mentor, co-workers, friends, family, lover, and even the criminals seem to be able to match), supernatural-abilities-with-lots-of-limitations, and some elements of pretty creepy horror. I adore them.

          1. Me... Just Me (as always)*

            they are awesome on Audible as Kobna Holdbrook Smith’s voice is wonderful. I’ve sped through all of them since Christmas. I’d say they’re urban fantasy mixed with some good police procedural elements.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yay yay yay!

        I got to hear her read “And Come From Miles Around” back in 2017 at the library during the last solar eclipse (the one in 2017) and she’s just the best. I should start listening to her stuff in general!

        1. office hobbit*

          So cool!! I will say I actually disliked the audiobook for Doomsday Book–I think I’ve liked the narrator on other things, if I’m remembering right, but didn’t like some of the choices she made with Doomsday. But ymmv!

    7. Part time lab tech*

      For primary school aged children, the “Mr Gum” series narrated by Kate Winslet. I have two boys and these kept them quiet in the car for an hour or so. She is brilliant although my husband didn’t like the disgust factor.

      1. Bright as yellow*

        Ive listened to Winnie the Pooh as bedtimestories, and would definitely welcome recs for cozy kids stories. But I don’t find Mr. Gum by Kate Winslet on audible. Strange.

        1. Part time lab tech*

          I just looked up “Mr Gum” on the .au audible site and the complete series came up. Andy Stanton is the author.
          I don’t know that I would call it cozy though in the same way I wouldn’t call Roald Dahl cozy.

          1. Part time lab tech*

            Oops, possibly only the Andy Stanton narrated version on audible. I can’t vouch for that as Kate Winslet does all the voices. However I did find Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton books narrated by her.

      1. Bright as yellow*

        Ooh I like Meryll Streep, and I think I’ve seen Ann Patchett recommended a lot in previous weekend threads on AAM

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        Oh- I also loved Dutch House narrated by Tom Hanks- he doesn’t do as much with different voices as some narrators- I felt like his approach was more like sitting in a cozy chair with your favorite uncle listening to him read you a very good book.

      1. Bright as yellow*

        Just looked this up. Based on the summary, this sounds right up my alley. On my short-list now, Thank you!

        1. nicolaagricola*

          I really love Wil Wheaton as a narrator. His voice has a lovely timbre and he doesn’t do that stupid squeaky thing when narrating a woman’s dialogue. I also recommend Lock In and Head On by John Scalzi also narrated by Wil Wheaton.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        He is truly the ideal choice for that. (I am picturing this as a sidegig for Chaos on Leverage.)

      3. GoryDetails*

        Oddly enough, while I enjoy seeing Will Wheaton in his TV and film roles, I just don’t care for his voice-work – something about it is just too… sharp?… for my taste.

    8. Amey*

      Juliet Stevenson is such a wonderful narrator! I loved her narration of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, I really recommend them (particularly Persuasion which I think is a masterpiece)

    9. Helvetica*

      I usually dislike audiobooks because I read fast and they are always sooooo slow, and my mind wonders away from having to listen. But I really enjoyed David Sedaris reading his own “Me Talk Pretty One Day” – he is humorous, well-paced and enjoyable tollisten.

      1. word nerd*

        I listen to audiobooks at up to 3.5x speed, which is faster than my regular reading speed. It might sound weird at first, but I worked up to it over time and now it sounds totally normal to me. Most audiobook apps now allow you to fine-tune the speed until it’s exactly what you want for a book. Plus the sweet spot for me is listening to an audiobook while doing something else (puzzles, exercise, errands, etc.) so I’m not just sitting there. Or as a “bedtime story” to fall asleep to.

        1. bright as yellow*

          I’ve been listening to audiobooks as bedtime stories for a while. Works best when you already know the story. With unfamiliar stories, it’s a fun little dance everyday trying to figure out how much I listened before I feel asleep!

          I’m also pretty picky when choosing the narrator of the audio book, and really need someone with a softer voice/accent.

      2. bright as yellow*

        I actually like audiobooks precisely because they are slow.
        If I’m reading fast, then I usually miss a lot of detail. But with an audiobook, I am more immersed in the story, my eyes are closed and free to imagine the world that the narrator is weaving for me.
        When reading a book/ebook, my brain/eyes are busy reading and my imagination is less vivid.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      The Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, which is performed by a full cast. This was a go-to for long car trips when my kids were young–engaging for the whole family.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      If it’s possible to find it: Back in the 90s we were given audiotapes of Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner read by Charles Kurault. Inexpressibly warm and cozy.

      1. bright as yellow*

        It’s not on audible, unfortunately.
        But I did find Charles Kuralt’s Spring, and listening to the sample now. I can imagine his reading of Winnie the Pooh would be very lovely.

        I listened to Bernard Cribbins’s narration of these 2 books as bedtime stories in 2020-2022 so much that I think I’ll need a few years away so I can enjoy them fresh again. I love the stories so much, they’re the perfect combination of humour, whimsy and cozy.

    12. Pocket Mouse*

      The Redwall series by Brian Jacques was written with the intent to be read aloud, and there’s an audiobook version of at least a few of them with a full cast.

      1. Girasol*

        The full cast ones are wonderful for long drives and not so good for listening in bed because there’s a lot of vocal range. I love them though.

    13. Dr. Doll*

      The “Lady Sherlock” series by Sherry Thomas. read by Kate Reading. Delightful in a totally non-cloying way.

    14. GoryDetails*

      A good narrator can indeed make a huge difference in my experience of a book. One memorable one: Christian Coulson, who narrates some of Mackenzie Lee’s “Montague Siblings” books to great effect, also narrated Aiden Truhen’s very quirky “Seven Demons,” a wacky/violent/mega-heist novel which I don’t think I could have appreciated nearly as much in text form. It’s narrated by a character so eccentric that I needed the excellent narration to get inside his head, and I adored it! (I’m only sorry that the previous book about the same characters, “The Price You Pay,” isn’t available in audiobook form.)

    15. Myceliyum*

      Crying in H-Mart (read by the author) was the first audiobook that made me really understand how an audiobook could profoundly improve the experience of a book.

      There is a fan-made audiobook of Lord of the Rings recorded by Phil Dragash that is really delightful, copyright issues notwithstanding. All the voices, sound effects, and scored with music from the film. To quote Phil: ” Productions like this are an artform and to be shared among legal owners of the officially available releases only, which include the published Books by J.R.R. Tolkien, or the Official Audiobook read by Robert Inglis.”

    16. Grad School Attempt 2*

      Cold Mountain, read by the author, Charles Frazier. The book is set in the South during the civil war, and Frazier’s distinctive southern accent really helps set the mood. (Though honestly, his voice is so pleasant that I’d gladly listen to him narrate any book set anywhere.) Also, the book is very heavy on description, and I’m not sure I could have gotten through it in written form, but with the audiobook narration it just flowed by.

    17. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have concluded that I can probably just listen to Stephen Fry read a phone book and it would be soothing and a pleasant experience. If you have any interest in Greek mythology at all, his Mythos trilogy is SO good. Not only is his writing style very entertaining and conversational, but it lends itself very well to audiobook as a result, and while I usually bounce off audiobooks hard, this just felt like SF was hanging out in my office chatting to me about a topic that is very clearly near and dear to him.

      This is just a guess as well, but I think Trevor Noah’s memoir (which he narrates) would’ve been better as an audiobook – I felt like he wrote the way he would’ve spoken, and it didn’t quite land for me in writing, but it probably would have been more authentic “out loud”, if that makes sense.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I adored the Mythos trilogy and know just what you mean by his conversational style. I love his asides about Helen’s entrancing beauty, like “those of us who are this attractive know what a burden it can be.”

    18. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. The very minimal sound effects were just perfect for the story (can’t really say more without spoilers).

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I haven’t listened to that one yet, but if reminded me that The Martian was very good.

    19. Girasol*

      My favorites as great books that are even better because of the reader are The Curse of Challion by Lois McMaster Bujold, read by Lloyd James (his voices for all the characters are marvelous) and The Martian by Andy Weir narrated by R C Bray (his folksy approach is utterly perfect for that novel.)

      1. CJ*

        You are correct, Born a Crime is one of the best audiobook experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve listened to it 3 times – beautifully written and perfectly narrated. And the humorous bits will make you weak with laughter (the demon in the house and the way he does his grandma’s voice, the dance show!)

    20. delaware baby*

      This one comes from my mom– the first book of the Dublin Murder Squad + an Irish-accented narrator. So immersive, the meaning of the character’s dialogue really came out so much more

    21. How's It Going?*

      If you’re looking for free classsics on Audible, the Jane Eyre read by Thandiwe Newton is excellent. The Audible North and South is good, too.

      If you (or anyone else) is into fantasy, the Winternight Trilogy has great audiobooks, and I quite liked the narrator on the Emily Wilde books as well. And I love any Neil Gaiman book that he reads the audio for.

    22. Makare*

      The Ancillary Justice trilogy by Anne Leckie, read by Adjoa Andoh—I love the books, and Andoh’s narration just adds so much to them. I have listened to them over and over.
      Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, read by Lisa Flanagan. Her narration and different voices totally immerse me in the world. Another repeat listen for me.

    23. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Alan Rickman narrated Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy–and a very few others, most often in ensemble.

    24. word nerd*

      Sorry, I know this thread is already really long, but all this talk of audiobooks reminded me that Demon Copperhead is especially good as an audiobook, accent and all.

    25. Mrs. Frisby*

      Ethan Hawke narrates The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers and it is PERFECTION. Yes, it’s technically a kid’s book but it’s one of those kid’s books that is great for all ages.

      I always suggest the narrator Bahni Turpin; she’s amazing and I will listen to anything she narrates because she’s so good. Julia Whelan is also an excellent narrator.

      Oh, and Dan Stevens narrating And Then There Were None is fantastic as well.

      1. word nerd*

        I loved reading The Eyes and the Impossible, and I’m totally planning on listening to the audiobook once the print version is not so recent.

        Julia Whelan is my favorite!!

        And thanks for the rec on Dan Stevens’s And Then There Were None–I liked how he did Casino Royale but haven’t heard him narrate any other books yet.

    26. Owlette*

      I actually love autobiographies read by the author – there’s a level of emotion that jumps out in a different way. My two favourite are “I’m glad my mom died” by Jennette McCurdy and “Finding Me” by Viola Davis.
      I’ve had “Daisy Jones and the Six” recommended due to full cast and musical soundtrack involved but haven’t gotten around to it yet

    27. midnightstar*

      Ben Lerner on spotify! Leaving Atocha Stations and 10:34 — both made so much richer when hear din his voice, especially because he is a poet and reads beautifully

    28. bringing kites to the picnic*

      The narrators made these really good audiobooks even better:

      If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – The main character is a trans girl who dies at the beginning. She tells us about things from throughout her life, and a couple moments are painful to experience with her, but mostly it is just such a joy to get to know her. She’s likeable AND interesting, and the narrator’s voice is warm and wonderful. (There are actually 2 narrators – the other one reads sections about the girl’s boyfriend’s mom, and she’s good too.)

      Bee Season by Myla Goldberg – read by the author, which is AMAZING because the main character is 9 years old and the audiobook *sounds* like it’s being read by a kid. I read this on paper first and loved it so much, I decided to re-read it as a book-on-CD on a road trip — and then I loved the book even more.

      Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center – At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the main character – she does something shocking early on. But you learn the context later, and for the entire rest of the book, she’s both likeable and admirable. And the narrator is perfectly cast – I felt like I understood the character better by hearing her voice.

      Also, I haven’t heard it as an audiobook yet myself, but I loved reading Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir on paper, and I can’t wait to hear it!

    29. bright as yellow*

      Thanks all for your recommendations! I’m glad I asked, there are so manyy titles here that I would never have thought of looking for but sound like something I’ll enjoy.

    30. RedinSC*

      Oh, any Carl Hiaasen book narrated by Stephen Hoy. SKinny Dip just cracked me up! It was just so wonderful.

  6. Liar Liar Plants for Hire*

    Travel recs! I’ll be in DC mid-May for a short work trip, mostly in seminars but will have some free time in the late afternoon/evenings. All weekdays. Any great museums with evening hours? Restaurants worth making a reservation? I’d love to treat myself to a nice dinner out at least one night.

    1. California Dreamin’*

      We just got back from a vacation there. We really enjoyed dinner at Le Diplomate (reservations must be made way ahead) but Jose Andres’ Bazaar in the Waldorf Astoria was our favorite meal of the trip. Outstanding! It’s small plates, though, so I’m not sure how well it would work for a single diner. Check out the menu!

    2. Emma*

      GW Deli for a hearty breakfast / lunch
      The Mayflower for a decent happy hour
      Rasika for phenomenal (and pricey) Indian food
      Ambar for phenomenal (and pricey) Balkan cuisine
      Green Zone for phenomenal (and pretentious and expensive) drinks (try the Janissary cocktail)
      Le Chat Noir for low key but delicious French food

      This is also a great time of year to visit the National Arboretum and the National Botanic Gardens.

      1. CityMouse*

        The National Aboretum is kind of a pain to get to without a car (although very cool, I don’t think it’s an evening activity), but the US Botanic Gardens is literally on the Mall next to the Capitol reflecting pool.

        I’d definitely look at the museums with late night activities. DC also has a ton of theater, if that’s your thing. Ford’s theater is doing Little Shop of Horrors that might overlap your visit.

        1. Washi*

          Sunset is kinda late now so late afternoon at the arboretum would probably be fine. But yes, it’s a giant pain to get to without a car. If you’re comfortable with city biking there is a bike share station though!

    3. Frankie Bergstein*

      What part of DC?

      The National Portrait Gallery is open until 7pm so you can go after work. The courtyard in the middle is beautiful – one of my favorite spaces on the planet!

        1. CityMouse*

          The one thing I’d note about Zatinya (same with most Jose Andres places) is they’re best with a group so you get to try a bunch of different things. But not insanely expensive solo either.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      Not a Museum, but the Kennedy Center has free performances almost every night at 6pm- check their website. Then go to their roof terrace for a fabulous view of DC. It’s a short walk from there to Georgetown for some great food- I particularly like Guapo’s.

    5. CityMouse*

      Most of the Mall museums close at 5 but some do evening events in the summer. Getting a ticket to Jazz in the Garden is just luck, unfortunately.

    6. Soft clothes for life*

      Supra or Tabla for Georgian food. There aren’t nearly enough Georgian restaurants in the US and these two are phenomenal. They’re owned by the same people – Tabla is the more casual of the two.

    7. Once too Often*

      The Hotel Washington has a roof top bar that overlooks the national mall. It’s expensive, but the view is great & it’s fun to watch the lights come on at dusk. Just know that it was packed on weekends.
      There’s so much to see, you’ll have lots of good options.

    8. Grits McGee*

      In addition to all of the good recs you’ve gotten, I’ll also chime to *strongly* recommend that you use the Metro (or walk) rather than Uber/taxis for traveling around DC in late afternoon/early evening. Traffic in DC is gridlock city, and if I had a dollar for every time I’ve almost been in an accident in a taxi/ride share, I’d be able to afford dinner at Bazaar :(

      1. Grits McGee*

        Oh, and more after-hours recs: Library of Congress is open late Thursdays, though you need to reserve a (free) ticket. A lot of the DC museums will have at least 1-2 after-hours events per month (some free, some not), so definitely google around to see if any non-Mall museums interest you.

    9. biscuit*

      The Library of Congress is occasionally open late on Thursdays. Take a look at their website to see if any of their dates align with your trip! It’s super interesting to see even if there’s not a special event or speaker.

    10. RedinSC*

      If you don’t have Ethiopian food in your area, there are a bunch of great ones there. And I don’t know about the hours, but you can go into the sculpture gardens of the Hirshorn Museum, Loved that museum.

  7. word nerd*

    My almost 9-year-old son and I have been fun going through Fox in Socks lately, especially saying sentences like “When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles, they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle.” We have little contests to see who can say it fastest without a mistake, and it’s been nice to see it build his self-confidence since he has a stuttering disorder. Any recs on some other books that have tongue twisters/rhymes that are fun to say and maybe build into some sort of story so it’s not just Peter Piper but also not as repetitive as Wonky Donkey?

    1. old curmudgeon*

      I’m not sure it’s in print, but see if you can google the words to “The Chaos,” also known as “Dearest Creature In Creation,” by a Dutch writer named Gerard Nolst Trenité. I am a decades-long word nerd, and I struggle to read it aloud accurately.

      One of my daughter’s baby gifts was a book called “Jelly Belly” by Dennis Lee. It’s a collection of poems with some memorably silly themes and a whole lot of fun with words. I think it may be out of print at this point (it was published over four decades ago) but you might be able to find a used copy for not too bad a price.

      1. Lucien Nova*

        I *love* The Chaos. Me reading it as quickly as I can is one of my livestream bonus redemptions.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Absolutely, Jabberwocky! The kids in my life are now in their early 20s, but we still express joy by saying, “O frabjous day!”

        We also used to play “what am I saying?”:
        Me: There’s an untruthful large feline reclining in the front yard. What am I saying?
        Kids: There’s a lyin’ lion lyin’ on the lawn!
        (Sorry, that’s the best I’ve got. Jabberwocky is a better suggestion.)

    2. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Shel Silverstein’s poetry is fun to read out loud, it’s got different cadences and rhyme schemes. I can still recite some of my favorites from childhood! He has an album where he reads some of them out loud, I found it on Spotify and I’m sure it’s elsewhere.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Try Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook by Shrl Silverstein. Lots of fun with all the mixed up words!

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      Shel Silverstein has some excellent children’s poetry that would fit the bill – silly but also sometimes hard to say. I like his volumes “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, “Falling Up”, and “A Light in the Attic”.

      I know he wrote “The Giving Tree” and “The Missing Piece” which are his more famous prose, but I’ve always preferred his poetry.

    4. StellaDoodle*

      Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy is just delightful. It’s probably a bit young for him, but it’s just so sweet and really fun to read.

    5. Mollee*

      Tikki Tikki Tembo

      Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo Has fallen into the well!

      1. SparklingBlue*

        I remember a song I learned in school about someone with a long name falling into a well. Unfortunately, it takes so long to say the man’s name that the man drowns in the end.

        I believe it was called “Eddie-Coochie-Catchee”

        1. Imtheone*

          I almost remember his name:

          Eddie Goochi Gotchie Gamma Terranokie Terragamma Xxxx Wackie Brown

          Fell into the well, fell into the well, fell into the deep dark well.

          (Some more verses)

          To the well
          Everybody came
          What a shame
          It took so long to say his name that
          [repeat his full name here] drowned.

          1. Imtheone*

            I’ve remembered a bit more:
            Eddie Goochie Gotchee Gamma Tosanaree Tosanoka Samma Gamma Wacky Brown

    6. AGD*

      Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston! Middle-grade book about a girl escaping a mad-scientist guardian and finding her way. All in clever rhymes, with lively illustrations and sometimes playful typography. Lots of fun!

    7. Shiara*

      You might enjoy some Edward Lear, such as “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat”. Hoberman’s “A House is a house for me” is very quotable, though less tongue twistery.

      I highly recommend Jack Prelutsky as a children’s poet and poetry anthology editor.

      1. Shiara*

        Thought of another one! NM Bodeker has a book called “It’s Raining said John Training” which is a collection of Danish Nursery Rhymes translated to English. All of them are fun and the princess Sip sippernip sip sirumsip one especially is tongue twistery while telling a story.

    8. Joey*

      There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. It looks like there are several book versions of this. I remember it from when I was a kid. It’s silly.

    9. Armchair Analyst*

      The book “Shrek!” By William Steig is a kids picture book that the movie was very loosely based on
      Some great words and sentences in there
      It does use the word “@$$” to describe the donkey though

      It is a story, not a poem, and it is not just tongue twisters. But it has them in there and is a delightful read for kids and adults

    10. Armchair Analyst*

      I bet school librarians or book stores specializing in children’s literature would be great sources for this, or probably a targeted google search.. I recall some great picture books that were just fun to read with my kids

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’ve never found the book source for it,but look up “Grip Top Sock” attributed to Dr. Seuss. I used to know someone who used it as a warmup for voice work.

    11. word nerd*

      So many good suggestions, thank you all! I’ve put a ton of them on hold at the library, and I just received a newsletter from his teacher saying that they’re going to be starting a poetry unit, so I have a feeling all these books will be a great jumping-off point to talk about meter, rhyme, alliteration, etc. I’ll report back on which were my faves!

      1. Ms. Elaneous*

        When we were 9, we loved Gilbert & Sullivan

        Modern Major General

        Several funny versions on youtube.

    12. Ms. Elaneous*

      How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
      He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood
      As a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood

      Peter Prangle, the prickly pear picker, picked three perfectly prickly pears.

      Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.

      A tutor who tooted the lute, tried to teach two young tooters to toot. Said the two to the tutor ‘Is it easier to toot or to tutor two tutors to toot?’

    13. Samwise*

      Jeanne Steig, Alpha Beta Chowder. Pictures by William Steig. An alphabet book with clever, smart, funny poems.

      First line:
      Abhorrent axolotl, scat!

    14. stunning and brave*

      They might be just a touch too young for him…but the books are so much fun that I’m recommending them anyway. Anything by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler–the Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, The Snail and the Whale–they’re all just great fun to read. Not so much with the tongue twisters, but great rhyming.

  8. BookMe*

    Looking for easy, low-cost hobbies to try! Not particularly handy. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Flower pressing? You don’t need a flower press, a mattress or some heavy books will work, and they make beautiful decorations for cards or artwork

      Or running/jogging if you live in a pedestrian friendly city?

      If don’t mind spending some money, Walmart has fairly inexpensive yarn and crochet hooks – you could probably get enough materials to make a decent sized scarf or two hats for $10. Sometimes craft stores like Michael’s and JoAnns have good coupons too.

      1. RedinSC*

        I know people who purchase wool sweaters from Good Will, etc and pull them apart to knit into new things or hook rugs with the wool.

    2. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      – assembling puzzles
      – growing potted plants
      – photography with your phone
      – bird watching
      – creative writing
      – using Duolingo to learn a new language

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Where I live the dollar and a quarter store has some pretty decent puzzles. They are a bit on the thin side, but still go together well.

        I do mine on a big sheet of parchment and then apply the puzzle glue afterward (both front and back) to make them permanent. I buy some lath strips from the lumberyard (dirt cheap) and some mis-tint paint (also dirt cheap) and glue them together to make a panel large enough to glue the puzzle to. Add a picture hanger to the back, and you now have a wall hanging for somewhere south of ten dollars. They make good gifts too.

      2. Goldfeesh*

        I’ve always had fun getting puzzles at thrift stores since you don’t know if all the pieces are there. I’m also a nerd who will recreate a missing piece if necessary.

    3. Jay*

      -Fishing (this can also be a very, very expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be)
      -Bird watching (like fishing, this can be anything from nearly free to shockingly expensive)
      -Table Top Gaming (once again, it can be ruinously expensive or shockingly cheap, depending on what you are doing and how you are doing it, just avoid Warhammer unless you are willing to sell one of your kidneys, and probably several other peoples kidneys as well)

    4. RLC*

      As others have mentioned, bird watching. If you have a smartphone, highly recommend the “eBird” and “Merlin Bird ID” free apps, both produced by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (Bird identification packs for the app are available for most of the planet.)

      1. BubbleTea*

        Yes, I was coming to recommend this! I haven’t yet figured out how to get eBird and Merlin to play nicely together (I want my Merlin birds onto my eBird life list, dammit!) but I greatly enjoy using it, and even made a friend thanks to the app. Well, friendly acquaintance anyway.

    5. Collage Queen*

      if you enjoy art, collage – you just need scissors, glue, and any kind of paper and other found objects you have on hand.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’ll second geocaching – though it does depend where you are and how ready you are to travel. Some areas have loads of caches within easy reach, others are more… sparse! [You will need some kind of GPS device, but most smartphones will be able to run the geocaching app.] There are urban caches and deep-woods ones, with the listings including attributes to help you decide whether you’re up for them or not. Oh, and the affiliated Adventure Labs offer multi-stop mini-expeditions, usually to various points of interest (historical or celebrity-based or artistic or whatever) where physical caches might not be permitted.

    6. anon_sighing*

      You can do print outs, but I buy Penny Press puzzle books or some adult coloring books and listen to some instrumental album or a calming film or a calming TV show (the common thread is usually they’re shows with minimal excess background noise, I’ve noticed) and just do them for about an hour or so with a cup of tea. It’s sort of a luxury hobby in the sense you have to have adult or old enough children to get the quiet time to do it.

      Long walks with or without music is also another nice, cheap one. It doesn’t feel like a hobby, but if your city or area is safe enough, you can bus or drive to different areas and take long walks in new places and directions. Alternatively, hiking.

      Indoor gardening. Green onions, lettuce, and celery grow from scraps. Most leafy green are pretty easy inside. Herbs — basil, mint, cilantro, marjoram and parsley — also will, too. Information online is free and plentiful (and gardening folks are very nice & helpful) and starter plants are not too much.

      Your local Audubon society, if there is one, might have some free guides and resources to jump start bird watching specific to your region.

    7. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Learn to play a musical instrument. Beginner ukuleles, recorders, harmonicas, and some other instruments are available for surprisingly little money. I’m in my 70s and started playing (sort of) harmonica last month, and it’s so much fun, plus good for the brain, my memory (I mostly play by ear), and even breathing, since it’s played both exhale and inhale. I bought a dulcimer on sale right after the pandemic started and I’ve had a blast plunking out tunes on it the last four years, too.

      1. MeepMeep123*

        I got myself a nylon-string guitar for $140 and it’s been keeping me very happily occupied for a year now.

    8. word nerd*

      Volunteer proofreading for Distributed Proofreaders, which converts out-of-copyright books into free digital copies for Project Gutenberg

    9. Armchair Analyst*

      Go to every park in your city, one each weekend, write yelp reviews of each
      Then go to county parks
      Then move up to state parks! Hashtag goals
      Those might cost more money and need planning
      Then go to national parks, historic sites, forests… you name it.

      Similarly pick a low-cost meal that you’d eat anyway
      Pizza or salad or burger or turkey sandwich
      Try every restaurant that serves it and rate it for best value, taste, presentation, whatever.

      Cocktails would be a fun hobby
      Could get expensive

      Take a deep dive into nonfiction topic
      Help a neighbor declutter
      Volunteer at a local food pantry – more than once!

      Cook every recipe in a cookbook!

      Just some ideas

      1. Me... Just Me (as always)*

        These are wonderful ideas! Just anecdotal, while in Seattle a few weeks ago, I ordered clam chowder in every restaurant we went to. I think I tried 5 different bowls. I love clam chowder & live in the Midwest, so it’s not something readily available here. I might just go back & do some ratings!

    10. migrating coconuts*

      Check your local library. They can offer all kinds of classes that are usually free. Our library has a craft DIY night once a month. It’s an easy craft and supplies are provided. They also do monthly art (pictures) night, but they can be paints, watercolors, charcoal sketch, pen and ink drawings etc and again, supplies are provided. Origami can be cheap if you use regular paper or discarded book pages. Local home supply stores sometime do make it-take it things like birdhouses, and local craft stores usually have inexpensive craft classes.

      1. Jackalope*

        If you have a location that has a Parks and Rec you might check them out too. My experience is that they’ll have classes on the cheap if you want to try something out that you think you’ll enjoy, and then you can decide if you want to keep going. If you’re in the northern hemisphere and want to try something outdoors then we’re coming up on the perfect time of year to try things.

    11. another fed*

      See if your library or community college or other maker spaces have “Things Libraries” – I regularly rent out the stand mixer bc I don’t need to own one. When I was downtown yesterday, all the 3D printers and sewing machines were in use at the maker space at our library. other free/cheap things from the library:
      –language apps
      –events of all kinds, even how to make stuff
      –puzzle rentals or swaps
      –cookbooks for helping you be more imaginative with your cooking
      –local history and travel guides – be a local tourist, especially if anyone has written walking tour books
      –genealogy tools — illustrate your family findings by checking out some drawing books

  9. OMG, Bees!*

    Since picture of cats (Hi, Grendel and Teddy!), we’ve had some minor cat drama for weeks, maybe months. Not 1, not 2, but THREE new neighborhood male cats have been coming around, meowing at our tuxedo girl this year and she is not having it, even hissing at 2 of them (she’s most chill with the black cat, but not always). Currently she is inside sleeping on a blanket when normal she would be outside sleeping on, well, anything, since our house in now Cat Central. I’ve even had to close the blinds because the neighbor cats will otherwise be staring in like a peeping tomcat (and 1 of them I had to chase out of the house twice when I left the door open because the weather was nice).

    1. Freya's cats*

      Territories of male cats cannot really* overlap with each other, but territories of female cats can overlap with those of both males and other females.
      *fun fact, they do timeshare in areas with many cats, where a patch can be one toms in the morning and another in the afternoon.
      If you see the male cats at the same time, they might be still figuring out who is boss there. Once that has been settled, she might find a sort of truce with the winner.
      But if you leave the door open, they will probably keep exploring your house as potential territory unless your cat starts chasing them out.
      (ps, I am hoping/assuming she is spayed. Else there might be a lot more cats in the near future…)

    2. TPS reporter*

      you could look into installing a purrfect fence that keeps your cat in and other cats and creatures out.

      Jackson Galaxy also has materials on this. in addition to fencing he recommends putting up motion detecting water spritzers.

    3. Which Susan are you?*

      Trap the males and take them to get neutered. Also, keep your cat inside. Outside is a very dangerous place for cats.

  10. Emma*

    Meals / foods from books that you love? For me, the descriptions of meals in the Chronicles of Narnia are always so inspiring… marmalade rolls, Turkish delight, orange squash.
    Also, pumpkin juice from Hogwarts.

    1. The cat's pajamas*

      One year my friend’s young child was obsessed with the Nutcracker, so I brought over a gift basket with all of the food things. I don’t know what sugarplums really are, but I found chocolate covered ones for that, hot cocoa, peppermint etc. We watched a recording of the video and had the treats while we watched it. It was magical.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          It was! Especially since money was tight that year and they couldn’t afford to go to the local production.

      1. Anon this minute*

        Ooh, I did this once for dinners when a local tv station was showing James Bond movies every Friday–Japanese take-out food for You Only Live Twice, Russian take-out food for From Russia With Love, Caribbean take-out food for Live and Let Die.

        And a friend and I once took ramen to a screening of Tampopo at a cool movie theater that let you bring your own food.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me! The meal served by the narrator of Connie Willis’s short story Adaptation, where he is having Christmas Eve with his daughter and she wants what the main character of her favorite book, A Little Princess, is serving. Sugar plums were featured.

      3. Imtheone*

        Sugar plums are candied fruit, made the old fashioned way. Small fruits (plums, chestnuts) are soaked in a sugar syrup, turned regularly. Gradually, the fruit juices are replaced by almost super saturated sugar syrup. As a treat, it predates chocolate’s arrival in Europe.

    2. Grad School Attempt 2*

      The Chronicles of Narnia made Turkish delight sound so good, and I was so disappointed when I tried it in real life and discovered that it’s just overly sweet jelly squares!

      1. Freya's cats*

        I like it, but only the fresh stuff I buy at the Turkish supermarket, not pre-packaged mass produced.

    3. Rara Avis*

      My grandparents always had aplets and cotlets from Liberty Orchards and my child mind was BLOWN when I read the box and found out that they were a version of Turkish Delight!

      1. KathyG*

        Ooh, I LOVED applets & cotlets the few times I was able to get them! Thanks for the reminder, maybe some googling is in order.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I love the Narnian meals! My favorites are Shasta’s solo dinner in Tashbaan and his breakfast with the dwarfs in The Horse and His Boy, and Aslan and the talking trees’ feast in Prince Caspian.

      From other books: Merlin’s midnight supper when he’s brought back to Ambrosius’ house in The Crystal Cave; tea under the chestnut trees in Rebecca (I don’t think it’s even described, just alluded to); and the sandwich that Oscar has on his journey in Glory Road. When I was little all I wanted was “petits fours” at the cafe at the Met like Mrs. Frankweiler describes in her letter to Saxonberg. I was so disappointed when I finally had them!

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Plus the other Arthurian legends, including The Mists of Avalon and The Once and Future King.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        The feast in Prince Caspian has a description of eating the most perfect grapes and I have loved grapes ever since and am always searching for that perfect, crisp outside, bursting with juicy flavour inside, grape.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        All of the descriptions of the food at Manderly make me hungry, especially when contrasted to the crap the heroine is served as a lowly companion. I would just gorge on those crumpets and tea cakes every day.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          And the meager food the Nolans eat in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I always want to eat while I’m reading that book because I’ve gone hungry (not as a child, but still).

    5. Annie Edison*

      The food descriptions in Crazy Rich Asians made me want to go to Singapore and eat everything.

      I read Narnia as a young child but didn’t have Turkish Delight until I was an adult and I will say- a whole lifetime of anticipation based on the description in the book created something of a letdown when I actually tried it. I gotta say, I don’t quite see what the draw was for Edmund

      1. Almost Academic*

        Same re: Crazy Rich Asians! I finally went there on work a few years ago, and let me tell you the food lives up to the hype. Went on a hawker stall tour with a group of coworkers and I have been dreaming of going back since.

      2. Freya's cats*

        – I gotta say, I don’t quite see what the draw was for Edmund.

        Well he was living in wartime London under rationing. He probably did not have much sugar for years.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          My English dad (born 1933) has a story about nearly getting to eat a banana in 1943 that would break your heart (a Polish RAF pilot brought it back from overseas for him but it ended up being raffled to raise money for the war effort).

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Oh man I am thinking of a sweet little boy being so excited for such an exotic treat and then having it pulled away. How sad.

            (My mom grew up on a farm in northern Wisconsin and they got an orange in their Christmas stockings every year, which seemed weird to me until I finally realized what a big deal – and how expensive – it would be to have fresh citrus in northern Wisconsin in the winter in the ’40s.)

          2. Pam Adams*

            Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, has a banana brought in someone’s pocket, and causes great excitement.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I remember reading that Turkish Delight was used specifically to appeal to an audience that had just emerged from WWII and fourteen further years of food rationing–sweets were a very, very occasional thing and that was the sweetest, most indulgent thing he could come up with.

        1. Anonymous cat*

          In addition, I’ve read that it’s best when served hot and fresh, like made that day fresh! (Which fits with Freya above.)

          And the TD sold in stores tastes awful by the time it gets there.

          So if I’m ever someplace that serves fresh TD, I’m going to have to try it in honor of little Anonymous Cat! And hopefully I’ll understand why Edmund did it.

          1. word nerd*

            The Turkish delight I had in Istanbul made from honey, not sugar, was so, so good. I brought some back for my parents, who basically fought over it like children even though they normally don’t care much for sweets. It’s definitely their favorite souvenir I’ve ever given them.

    6. Forensic13*

      Oh the Redwall books, definitely. Medieval mice set in a sumptuous abbey? Candied chestnuts? Deeper ‘n’ Ever Pie? Blackberry cordial? I could read those feast descriptions forever.

      1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

        Definitely Redwall- even knowing how much I don’t like half the vegetables mentioned, I can’t read about any of the feasts without wanting to try everything!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Not a book, but the scenes in Totoro where the kids and their grandma are eating fresh picked, homegrown veggies outside made me want to dive headfirst into a cucumber patch.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There are Redwall cookbooks! My sister made a tea bread from one and it’s positively excellent.

      3. CityMouse*

        Brian Jacques really leaned into the food descriptions apparently because he got his start telling stories to children at a school for the blind.

      4. Raia*

        Yesss!! I was waiting for someone else to say Redwall, the Jubilee feasts always made me drool as a kid!

    7. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Like Hobbits, I am fanatical about mushrooms, and in LOTR, I wanted to live with Beorn and eat honey on bread. Then there’s Nanny Ogg from Discworld, with her decidedly risqué recipes…

      1. Jay*

        They actually published Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook, based on The Joy Of Snacks!
        You can make pretty much all of the stuff in there (although the entry from Bloody Stupid Johnson might be a bit…….challenging).

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Does the scumble come with the AEC trefoil in the States? “It’s made from…apples”.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        The seed cakes from the hobbit sound so good! I’ve been looking for a good copycat recipe for years but haven’t found anything that matches my imagination yet – I think I’m picturing something along the lines of an individual poppyseed poundcake but with caraway.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Try this one:

          12 tablespoons butter

          1 cup granulated sugar

          3 eggs

          2 cups flour

          1 tablespoon ground almonds (optional)

          1/4 teaspoon baking powder

          1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds, plus caraway seed, for gamish


          Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

          Grease and line a 7-inch round cake pan with parchment paper Cream butter and sugar together until very soft and light. Beat eggs and gradually add

          into creamed butter muture, beating constantly

          Sift flour and baking powder together add almonds if using) and caraway seed Add gradually into creamed modure, beating constantly

          Tum modure into prepared pan

          Scatter a few more caraway seeds on top

          Bako for 50 to 60 minutes

          Tum out of baking pan, remove paper and cool on a wire rack

          This cake keeps well in airtight container


            1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

              I made it several years ago, now I want it again. Sorry for some weird typos in it, I had it on my computer and took a pic of it with my phone, then screenshotted that and used the text copy feature. First time I’d tried doing that and it more or less worked.

    8. Helvetica*

      Growing up in Eastern Europe, we had no shortage of especially terrible books from the 1950s about glorious socialism and one of those was called “The Meeting” about this peasant woman who grows linen and is an exemplary socialist worker and meets Stalin. She and her twin sons are ostensibly made out to be very poor – this is like 1930s Soviet Union? – but they eat so improbably well and the food descriptions are so sumptous. Golden oven baked potatoes in butter, roasted pork, fresh baked bread, pancakes with milk straight from the cows and golden honey – simple foods but so beautifully desribed that I can still visualise it to this day. The book as such is terrible but the food deserves a prize.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Smitten Kitchen’s Mathile’s Tomato Tarte was inspired by the novel The Margot Affair. The tart is delicious, very French, beautiful to look at, captures summer.

      The novel is quite good, about a teenaged girl who is the secret product of a powerful man’s affair and tired of being invisible.

          1. fallingleavesofnovember*

            I’m not sure if it’s because I have a children’s version, but I love how the recipes are simple but so classic!

    10. londonedit*

      All the picnic/midnight feast things from the Famous Five and Malory Towers books. It was always very simple and very traditionally British food but the descriptions made it sound so delicious – it was always a basket overflowing with slices of ginger cake wrapped in paper, hard-boiled eggs, ham sandwiches, and of course the ubiquitous ‘lashings of ginger beer’! At the time Blyton was writing it would have all been a huge treat for the children, and it still sounded amazing when I was reading the books in the 80s and 90s.

    11. Dr. Doll*

      Descriptions of meals in Three Pines. I was so excited to go to Quebec after reading about the food. Tim Hortons coffee IS all that!

    12. Peanut Hamper*

      If a Hobbit would eat it, I’m in. Potatoes, mushroom, cheese, beer. Sign me up please! (Oh, and as a bonus you get to be barefoot all day.)

    13. Armchair Analyst*

      Surprised no one has mentioned the meal descriptions from A Song of Ice and Fire yet!

      There was a blog, Inn at the crossroads, that tried to cook a lot of these dishes. I think they published a cookbook based on their recipes too

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, I read this last night and immediately jammed up mentally! Let’s see: they aren’t novels, but Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking and More Home Cooking always make me hungry. She also describes borrowing Anna Karenina, I think it was, from a friend at a party and reading it and getting to the dinner scene with Levin. She wanted everything they were eating!

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Butterbeer (as imagined by folks on the tail end of their drinking-too-much 20s): one shot each of gold rum, whipped cream (or vanilla) vodka and butterscotch schnapps dumped into a red solo cup or equivalent, filled the rest of the way with cream soda and, if you’re feeling fancy, topped with a “head” of under-whipped cream.

    16. Reluctant Mezzo*

      The food descriptions in the JD Robb books are pretty good (I am Peabody’s older twin Skippy, I think).

      1. Radius*

        As a tween I sometimes “replicated” Hercule Poirot’s extra thick hot chocolate by stirring 2-3 packets of mix into one mug of hot water. No idea if it was accurate, but it was delicious and, I imagined, sophisticated.

        1. IT Manager*

          Oh, this is clever! I’m going to try this.

          In Portugal this winter I had their “hot chocolate” at several different towns, which I think is what Poirot has? … it was like chocolate pudding. Very weird and disappointing. And way too sweet.

    17. Anna Crusis*

      After reading some Paddington Bear books as a child, I used to beg my mom to buy marmalade for me. I think she finally caved when I was a teen. I’ve loved it ever since. In second grade I had a duffel coat that she sewed for me, also inspired by P. Bear.

    18. Radar's Glasses*

      Kerry Greenwood – Unnatural Habits – Chapter 14. Main character Phryne Fisher goes undercover at a women’s commune and discovers self-sustaining farming, harvesting, food processing, etc. As a guest, she joins in on the communal dinner of fresh vegetable soup, coniglio alla cacciatore (rabbit stew Italian style), fresh pressed cider, and desserts of raw fruit or baked cobblers. The commune also harvests, cans and sells their own apricots, apple jelly, tomato sauce, etc. They also make their own cheese.

  11. old curmudgeon*

    Grendel and Teddy are gorgeous, Alison! Are they fosters, or did you just cut to the chase and adopt them? Please tell us all about them!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Adopted! See above. We were going to adopt one cat and asked them to suggest someone who’s been hard to place, but our rescue group said they have the most trouble placing shy bonded pairs … so here we are.

      They were shy for about two days.

      Grendel (the black one) is named Grendel because he apparently has scar tissue from a lot of untreated upper respiratory infections so he makes a snuffling noise a lot, like a tiny monster. Teddy (the grey one) is Teddy because he has the sweet nature of a teddy bear, and so we now have two separate cats named after the neighbor boy from Little Women (the other being Laurie).

      They are very small and they play wildly most of the day (and some of the night) so I think they’re under two years old, if not closer to one. They are constantly chasing and wrestling and unrolling toilet paper and generally causing chaos. But they are super chill with the other cats, which the rest appreciate. Grendel even curled up next to Eve tonight and she allowed it, which is a shocking development for Eve.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I look forward to the BBC production of their detective adventures, possibly with a Death in Paradise crossover.

      2. Monster's Mom*

        Aw, welcome to the family, Teddy and Grendel! I’m glad you were able to give them a home. They remind me a lot of my two cats, who also came to us as a bonded pair. Monster (also gray but a long-hair) is also sweet and cuddly. Missile (also a tuxedo cat) was likewise shy for about an hour and then revealed her true nature as a force of destruction and also snuggles.

      3. GoryDetails*

        “They were shy for about two days.” You definitely have some kind of cat-whispering aura in your house!

        The new guys are indeed charming. In the photo, Teddy’s got a tiny sneer in place (“who you callin’ shy?”) and Grendel has the BIGGEST eyes… and that teensy white moustache is just too cute.

      4. old curmudgeon*

        I love the way you set your criteria for adopting cats, Alison – that makes so much sense, but it seems like so few people look at behavior/personality and just choose an animal based on looks.

        Hooray for an easy integration, and welcome to Grendel and Teddy – long may you purr happily in your new forever home!

      5. Blomma*

        I just read the Grendel portion of Beowulf last night. Comparing the monstrous description of Grendel in the poem vs that sweet tuxie is kind of hilarious!

  12. SuprisinglyADHD*

    Has anyone been to Monterey California? Or Seaside, or Caramel by the Sea? My mom is planning a summer trip there to visit my brother, and the tour books we were able to find were pretty useless. They enjoy museums of all sorts, touring old houses/historical walking tours, nature trails, and tasting local specialties.
    (We used to plan our vacations by looking at the AAA state guide and then stopping at the State Welcome Center and grabbing every interesting brochure. The AAA books are PDF only now and she can’t just flip through and browse. We contacted the local tourism departments and they just told her to go to their very sparse websites.)

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

      Was there a long time ago. It’s very pretty if you go out to the very end of the peninsula and look out over the water. If your mom likes aquariums, Monterey has one. There’s also a restaurant that I always wanted to try that’s in Big Sur off Highway 1 between Monterey and Carmel, called the Rocky Point Restaurant. The view seems amazing — the reviews I looked up just now said the food was variable.

    2. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      Monterey Bay Aquarium is a MUST. I think booking one of their short “behind the scenes” tours is worth it.

      Whale watching tours are fun if no one is prone to sea sickness.

      If riding e-bikes is an option, an e-bike tour down 17 Mile Drive is well worth it. Check out Pacific Grove Adventures. Alternatively, driving down 17 Mile Drive with a tour app and getting out at the stops is also fun. We used an app called Action Tours. Lots of points of interest on that route.

      1. Annie Edison*

        yes I was coming here to say that you should definitely go to the aquarium. I could sit for hours by the kelp forest. I grew up going there as I child and I think it ruined all other aquariums for me- I have yet to find another one I like more

      2. tangerineRose*

        I’ve heard amazing things about the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

        Will you be there when the Monarch butterflies are there? That could be great too!

    3. Not that Jane*

      Nearby town of Watsonville is allegedly the artichoke capital of… the world? California? So worth tasting the artichokes and strawberries there!

      1. Not that Jane*

        Oh wait, and, there is a locally famous fish restaurant in Moss Landing called Phil’s Fish Market. Best cioppino, lines out the door for dinner, raw oysters, the works! :)

    4. Clara Bowe*

      Depending on if Highway 1 is open and they are ok for a drive, a trip down to San Simeon and Hearst Castle is 100% worth it. That and Harmony are a lovely day trip with lots of history. Also, any of the missions up and down California are super neat.

      1. Anon this minute*

        Oh my gosh, yes — that trip down Highway 1 (if safe and open) is a not-to-be missed experience! And Hearst Castle is awesome — your mom might want to take several of the different tours to see most of it. Once she’s down there, your mom could stay over a night in San Luis Obispo (the Madonna Inn is an over-the-top place to stay, and I think there’s still an old-fashioned movie house in downtown SLO if she wants to take in a movie) before heading back up the coast (or back up on 101 for a more rolling-farms landscape).

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Monterey has some good historic buildings, a former capital, the presidio, and cannery row. I have never done one, though I know there are Steinbeck themed tours as well. And fisherman’s wharf.
      Carmel also has a mission, and a lovely, though pricey shopping district. The beach at the end of Carmel Ave is a favorite of mine.
      for nature trails, I highly recommend Point Lobos! It’s not far and my favorite is the Cypress Grove, though Whaler’s Cove is pretty interesting too. If you are up for it, you can do that as a loop and it’s not far. A mile, maybe a mile and a half loop?
      The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best in the nation, and has some really impressive tanks.
      I could (and have!) spend a week there and not get bored!

    6. Rara Avis*

      Lived there. 17 Mile Drive. Window shopping in Carmel. Elkhorn Slough for nature. Monterey has a small pier with a couple of historical sites — an adobe, a maritime museum. There’s a shoreline walking path; you can rent bicycle wagons.

    7. MozartBookNerd*

      Carmel, I’ve visited there a number of times over the years. (“Carmel-by-the-Sea” is just the formal and slightly chi-chi moniker of the municipal unit. But for practical purposes it’s the same as Carmel, and that might help you gather more info.)

      Since you mention nature trails in particular, I definitely second Ginger Cat Lady’s mention above of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. It’s just a moment’s drive south of Carmel and is pretty well known, well worthwhile, different spots within it to focus on. My wife and I loved looking out at Bird Island to see the pelicans.

      Overall Carmel is a quite nice little enclave and it sounds like your mom would really enjoy it! It’s populated by educated comfortable retirees, so, plenty of good restaurants and boutiques. There’s a lovely shoreline where people stroll with their dogs at sunset. For two weeks during the summer there is the Carmel Bach Festival with excellent musicians (tickets for this year just went on sale today I believe). I’m sure there are historical houses; there’s a major preserved Mission associated with Junipero Serra, of interest on its own plus I’d bet they have a museum.

      1. Indisch blau*

        Another vote for Point Lobos. I spent an afternoon in awe and wonder there once when we visited Monterey.

      2. FanciestCat*

        Thirding Point Lobos, I’ve been to parks up and down the state but Point Lobos is definitely in the top 3. If you’ve never seen redwoods before and are interested, the southernmost redwoods are on the northern side of Monterey Bay in and around Aptos and Santa Cruz. No old growth, so not as big as the ones further north but still impressive. There’s also a lot to do in and around Santa Cruz as well.

    8. Llellayena*

      When did AAA go all PDF? I swear I picked up a physical guidebook just a year or two ago. That’s going to annoy me. Carmel sounds familiar, if I’m remembering correctly and it’s still there, I think there’s an underground house that has tours. Like a cave dwelling carved into the ground with courtyards growing orange trees. People who have been to California much more recently than 2001, please check me?

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        Are you thinking of the Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno? Those are amazing! Not particularly close to Carmel, but could be a daytrip if it’s of interest.

    9. Come On Eileen*

      I live a few hours away so visit at least once a year. There is an absolutely gorgeous walking/cycling trail right along the ocean (called the Coastal Recreation Trail) that stretches for miles. You can take it to the aquarium or Fishermans Wharf, or the opposite direction toward Asilomar. I try to walk or ride on it every time I am there.

    10. migrating coconuts*

      Look for a local library and call. They could probably point you in the right direction for local museums, houses, point of interest etc.

    11. Can't Sit Still*

      Add Pacific Grove and Fort Ord to your search terms. There are lots of B&Bs and historic homes in PG, which is literally right next to Monterey. Cannery Row in Monterey is a nice place to stay if you are looking for a hotel instead of a B&B. It’s very walkable with with lots of good restaurants with local food, close to the aquarium, and several small museums. Carmel and Carmel Valley are much pricier than anywhere else in the area, but if you are looking for luxury, that’s where to go. Marina and Seaside are the more affordable locations, including the Pajaro Dunes Resort.

      Point Lobos is glorious – there’s a reason it’s one of the most frequently painted and photographed locations in the world. It’s impossible to take a bad picture there. Parking is limited, so there’s often a longish wait to enter on summer weekends. I strongly recommend visiting in the morning on a weekday if you want to take your time to enjoy it and not feel rushed. There are both self-guided tours and ranger tours. 17 Mile drive is a fun thing to do once, especially if you want to see the Lone Cypress in person.

      If Highway 1 is open, Big Sur has very dramatic scenery. It’s tentatively scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend, but there’s no guarantee.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I haven’t been there for a long time, but the beach at Pacific Grove used to be beautiful, and it probably still is.

    12. LBD*

      The Steinbeck Center in Salinas is amazing, with walk through diorama type displays of many of John Steinback’s books. It’s also an interesting snapshot of the era that his work focuses on.

    13. Ruth A*

      Everyone else has covered most of my favorite Monterey Bay activities. One that’s slightly unusual and depends on what your family likes: Martinelli’s (the sparkling cider company) does free tastings at their company store in Watsonville. A friend and I did it a couple of years ago, and it was lots of fun. It’s basically like a wine tasting (I assume – I don’t drink) but with their various flavors of sparkling cider. They also have some small displays about the company’s history.

    14. Sparkling Stardust*

      I also agree that a whale watching boat ride tour would be a fun and unique adventure.

      The Monterey Bay Aquarium is beautiful and also an e-bike tour of 17 mile drive could be a fun time.

    15. Radar’s Glasses*

      Re Monterey, Carmel, Pacific GroveSeaside etc., be sure to dress in layers because the weather can change so quickly. And especially wear sturdy and comfortable walking shoes. Carmel preserves cobblestone walkways and streets are not evenly paved (pesky tree roots uplift sidewalks) so it’s easy to stumble or turn an ankle. Some visitors bring along walking sticks for balance. Beach at Carmel is very relaxing. Pacific Grove hosts farmers market on Monday afternoons, with produce from Salinas and local farmers.

    16. Mrs. D*

      I second (third? fourth?) the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In addition to everything else posters have mentioned, they have an outdoor eating area with tables and chairs if I remember correctly; it’s right by the water and a great place to watch the bay.

      If they want to splurge with a really nice dinner, I highly recommend Aubergine in Carmel. It’s located at a boutique hotel, but you don’t need to stay there to eat at the restaurant. They’ll want to make reservations ahead of their trip. Another good place (not as pricey) is The Sardine Factory. One of their dining rooms has a domed glass ceiling, and you can see the sky change as the sun sets while eating dinner.

      If they enjoy wine tasting, there are some wineries around the Santa Lucia Highlands near Monterey. Lots of white wine and lighter red wine varietals last time I went through there. There’s also several tasting rooms in Monterey along Cannery Row.

      I hope they have fun!

    1. Revere your cat*

      It’s spring and I have plants growing and flowering faster and bigger than last year! (First time home owner, second spring in my home and last year stuff I planted got chomped by deer / rabbits or I was worried a few things froze).

    2. Rara Avis*

      I emailed a radio show I listen to (in response to an interesting tidbit) — and got a response from one of the hosts! We had a short back-and-forth, which made my week! My kid said I was fangirling.

    3. RLC*

      The native toads that live in our garden have emerged from hibernation, hopping about after twilight each evening to catch and feast on moths and small beetles. The youngest toads are tiny and adorable, barely bigger than a fingertip.

        1. RLC*

          Wish we could do images too! Couple of summers back I got video of a toad catching and eating a huge Junebug. The Junebug was larger than the toad’s head and it took toad a few tries to figure out the best solution for a tasty meal (the toad prevailed). Toads chilling in birdbath on a hot summer day is priceless, too.

    4. Past Lurker*

      In the mornings and evenings there’s a chorus of birds singing around my place. Various kinds, so it sounds like a bird orchestra. I don’t remember this many last year!

      1. Anon this minute*

        It is such a nice joy, isn’t it? When I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, if it’s 3AM or later, the birds are all singing already. I always tell myself to pay attention to their lovely music as I lie back down, and before I know it, I’m asleep again!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        We have one outside our window I call the Wind Up Bird after the Murikami story/novel: it goes “brrrrrrrrrr CHIRPCHIRPCHIRP” starting at around seven am or so!

    5. Llama face!*

      I have been able to be outside in sunny warm spring weather that’s been just how I like it (mild breeze and just under 20°C) for the entire week! April in Saskatchewan can often be very grey and gloomy and last year we had so much wildfire smoke that I barely got outside for the whole spring and summer so I am soaking this up as much as I can (with sun protection of course).

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

        So glad you enjoy it! I love reading the answers too.

        This thread was my favorite back when others used to start it, and I’d search for it through hundreds of comments if I didn’t see it. Thanks to Laura H. and any of the other folks who started it back in the day!

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

          And as I think someone was saying a few weeks ago, really, anyone can start any thread, so if you don’t see it on here when you log in and want to start it, go for it! : )

    6. Part time lab tech*

      The temperature dropped 5 degrees at the beginning of the week and it is finally cool! April’s average max will be around 30°C. (I am in Perth, Australia so I am also looking forward to a little rain this week to green up the brown.)

      1. Knighthope*

        Opposite hemisphere, opposite experience – in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. 52° F. today, 84° predicted for tomorrow. Enjoy the coolness!

    7. Middle Aged Lady*

      The camas lily field near me is in bloom. It’s an annual trek for us and it’s always special. Thsi time, some teen girls were up there in dresses taking each others’ pictures and hubs volunteered me to get a group of shot of them. They had on gingham dresses and scarves and looked as fresh and pretty as the flowers.

    8. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      Glass etching experiments worked out far better than expected.
      Sand blaster + yard sale glassware means I now have some very nerdy wine glasses.

    9. allathian*

      My employer’s downsizing and rebuilding our offices because we’re permanently hybrid now. They sold off some stuff, I bought a docking station for 10 euros. The original list price was something like 300 euros, even if I’m sure my employer got a bulk discount. I also got a decent keyboard with a card reader for free, as well as a mouse I can use when I’m just using my laptop because I hate using the touchpad.

      Our spring’s been delayed by an exceptionally late blizzard last weekend, but now the weather’s finally turned and the birds are singing.

    10. Six Feldspar*

      After more than a year of reading I finally started commenting this week! Someone linked me to the coffee drama stories and since then I’ve been reading on just about every work day, and being incredibly thankful for my boring workplace…

      1. Anon this minute*

        Welcome to commenting! : ) This is one of the nicest communities on the internet, in my opinion, and I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to speak up!

        1. Six Feldspar*

          Thankyou! I have been lurking, as the internet olds call it, until I got the lie of the land :)

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      A former colleague and friend from the pre-internet days and I had lost touch. We found each other after a gap of 40 years, live in the same area, and discovered that we still share the same musical tastes and passion for live music. He even likes the same musician I’m obsessed with–Rhiannon Giddens–and we had a blast at her live show. Despite the decades that have passed, we’re already planning our next outing.

    12. Irish Teacher.*

      We got three or days of near summer weather here in Ireland, 15-19 degrees Celsius (about 60-65 Fahrenheit). It’s back down to about 10-12 now (low 50s), but it was awesome. And our school had an ice cream van on Wednesday. Free ice cream definitely means a good day. Free ice cream and summer temperatures = awesome.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Oh and a work related one: I had a class of 14 year old boys utterly enthusiastic in a class on poetry. We were doing “What has Happened to Lulu?” by Charles Causley and I got them to draw Lulu’s room and then write the note the mother throws on the fire. I got brilliant stuff, not just runaway notes, but notes from kidnappers and so on. And a couple that gave very melodramatic reasons for running away, like that Lulu found out the mother had killed somebody

    13. GoryDetails*

      I saw the first hummingbird of the season today! I’d set out the nectar feeders a bit earlier than usual just in case, and managed to tempt one.

      Also enjoying the spring-blooming bulbs and flowering trees – I have a small flowering-quince shrub with deep red blossoms, quite handsome.

    14. fposte*

      I discovered that a ridiculous house I submitted to the McMansion Hell blog was featured on it in February, and she went absolutely nuts over how bizarre it is. Oddly gratifying!

    15. Elle Woods*

      I bought my plants today. It’s still a bit too early to get them in the ground but I’ve got them!

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      Making some recipes I haven’t done in a while this week: Spring pasta with savory muffins, and hummus pasta with couscous on the side, yummy. I love food!

    17. Tea and Sympathy*

      The bird that built her nest on the porch light right next to the front door came and sat on the porch rail and looked in the window at us. (If birds cannot/do not look through windows at people, please don’t tell me.)

    18. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Taking out my summer bike and experiencing how it is so much lighter and faster than my winter one, I feel like I can fly on it!

      Also, a large racoon found a cozy niche way up tall in our maple tree and was curled up snoozing there in the sun all day yesterday. Pretty cute!

    19. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Today it was instantly knowing the answers in The Economist Saturday crossword puzzle, or at least the first long 1 down one which led me to all the rest. This doesn’t normally happen!

    20. carcinization*

      Went to yoga for the first time in a month or so and it was actually a decent class, not quite as frenetic as usual (we don’t get up early enough for the Saturday morning class that’s more chill). Then went to brunch at a fancy Mexican restaurant in town that we can’t have dinner at as much as we’d like as dinner is always $80 or more… but brunch was only around $30 and definitely worth it!

  13. Plume*

    Is anyone else dealing with the therapization of everyday things? How do you handle it? I find myself feeling like I can’t complain or vent at all without someone getting way to serious about minor things. It’s mostly the women in my life doing this about men.

    I mentioned my husband was cranky today and complained that he never get’s sleep even though he actually gets more sleep then I do and my friend was like “That sounds like gaslighting. Is he getting medical help?” It was such a wild leap and accusation to something that to me, is just a bog standard reaction to being the parent of a newborn. Being tired and cranky.

    And the other day my niece complained about not liking her schoolmate “Devon” because he is always trauma dumping. Concerned I asked what sort of things Devon is telling her and she launched into a tirade about how everyday he’s always yawning and complaining about being tired from working his part time job and not wanting to do the school play or swim after school because he’s sooo tired. That’s not trauma dumping!

    Am I the only one dealing with this or is it a common response due to the expanded uptake of therapy in recent years?

    1. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I’m not sure that it’s coming from therapy as much as “therapists” online who are actually Influencers. Youtube and TikTok are full of videos like this. I’ve seen a huge uptick in online communities of people pathologizing normal behaviors and using “therapy speak” to police other people. Anecdotally, more and more frequently I’ve been reading about people using therapy speak as a method of abuse, especially in DARVO. I’ve been seeing the words “narcissist” “gaslighting” “trauma dumping” “obsessive” “gaslighting” “triggered” “grooming” “toxic” thrown about willy-nilly, often not even close to the original definition. (eg gaslighting often means lying but I’ve seen it used to mean someone showing unwanted emotion).
      I have no idea how to combat this, it’s often young people trying to find any help at all in a world that stigmatizes mental health care. It also seems to be tied into the loss of all nuance, everything is either perfect or evil. You can’t just dislike something, you have to prove that it’s morally bankrupt in some way. It’s weird and I don’t even know where to start when someone I know does that.

      1. wish me all the luck*

        I agree that it’s not with actual therapy, it’s with influencers.
        And, yeah, I see it with my late teenaged kid. Everything is gaslighting, bullying, trauma, etc. I got tired of the overuse of “gaslighting”, and actually showed my kid the film (highly recommend). I think all it did was make her not use the word around me, for fear I’d make her watch more old movies.

          1. Anon this minute*

            Lol! You could make a kid read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, which is about teaching kids the natural consequences of their actions. I think there was a story about the won’t-clean-up-his-roomer who gets trapped in there by his own mess when there’s a cool parade marching by that he really wants to join.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Our favorites were the Won’t-Take-A-Bath-er whose mom grew radishes on her arm and the Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker.

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

                Loved the Won’t-Take-A-Bath-er (and the Won’t-Go-To-Bed-ers)!

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I found a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle treasury that had all the books in one volume. It survived the Great Moving Library Purge, lol.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Yeah, I was told that normal healthy boundaries were “pushing my political beliefs down someone’s throat.” That’s not how boundaries work…
          I was also told that I’m not supporting a family member with substance use disorder because I’m not enabling them and completely ignoring any harm and trauma they have caused our family.
          I’m also “worse than a particular former president” because I choose to not use mind altering substances. This personal choice also somehow automatically means that I hate everyone who has ever used a substance, ever.
          I also learned that despite scientific evidence that substance use disorder has a genetic component, “addiction is just a mindset.” Sigh.

          1. Plume*

            Ugh on your first paragraph. are we related? lol.

            I literally had a cousin spread lies that I was shoving my politics down his kids throat despite him begging me to stop. I was pretty pissed to hear that since I had actually brought the issue if his kid bringing up politics all the time to his attention!

            He told us to just agree with everything he says and I told him no, I’m not willing to do that but I will happily say well I disagree with you but you are too young for this discussion. He had me babysit his kid all the time all the whole oreqdong that nonsense around.

      2. Free wifey*

        This is huge
        My husband reads every pop psychology book out there
        I can look at his Goodreads and tie what he’s read each week to what he’s accused me of in marriage counseling
        Yes we’re getting divorced
        While he’s been “working on himself” and writing novels and working as little as possible with yes therapy but no meds and no close friends and controlling our money
        I’ve been holding our family together and doing the day to day and making more money than him and building a support system for our kids and me

        But right
        I’m the narcissist or the sociopath or the whatever and I can’t respond to him because of his trauma
        Ok! See ya!

        1. Elle Woods*

          Oh my goodness, that sounds terrible. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Sending you and your kids love and strength!

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh, boy, that’s the worst. So glad you’re getting free of that crap!

          If there’s one thing I see a lot of, therapy-speak wise, it’s PROJECTION. He sounds like he should get a job at IMAX.

      3. Saturday*

        Yes! Where has all the nuance gone?? People and things are complex, and there can be bad and good at the same time. And there are degrees of bad too. Not everything is at an extreme.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          With the loss of nuance comes these extremes. People are amazed or ‘devastated’, and nothing in between. They use the word ‘heartbroken’ to mean ‘disappointed.’ Examples abound. But the thing is that we ARE our words. Extreme words tell us how to feel, and amplify the reaction to every situation. There are milder words that are a more accurate label, and that they could use to soothe themselves and get a bit of perspective, but they seem to have been forgotten.

          1. Wolf*

            And they’re not “uncomfortable”, they’re “crying and shaking”. Like “lol” it has become an internet term that barely means any emotion.

      4. Busy Middle Manager*

        The amount of “narcissists” material on youtube is actually bizarre. I’ve never met a person who met the criteria in all of these videos, and I’ve met some doozies, and at the same time, the criteria is vague enough (in the videos anyway, maybe not according to an actual psychologist) that 80% of people I know could, at times, be labelled as such.

        I am a bit confused about how the demand for “10 ways to spot a narcissist” is as high as it is. I would assume there would be some demand, but for the youtube versions of “vague posting” to get so many views?

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree (posted below about this) that social media has caused a lot of this. It would be one thing if someone saw videos, felt seen, and got an actual diagnosis/help, but I see way, way too many instances of people becoming instant armchair shrinks for everyone around them with no idea what the terms they’re using mean.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      Yes, I think you’re on to something. What people call trauma can range from something that fits the clinical definitions or an inconvenience.

      Just the other day, I heard this conversation at a meetup group:

      “I have anxiety”
      “Give an example?”
      “I get nervous before job interviews”

      Ummm… that sounds extraordinarily normal rather than a diagnosable issue?

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I had one colleague who, after getting a job offer as deputy principal of another school, said “imposter syndrome is starting to set in now.” Um, no, being nervous about starting a new job, which is completely different to your current one is not imposter syndrome

      2. Saturday*

        Agree – just because you’re not always in a state of peaceful contentment, it doesn’t mean something is wrong. Humans have never had that as a natural state.

    3. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Just here for solidarity with the “husband who gets more sleep than I do acts like he never sleeps” thing. I try to remind myself that both things can be true (he both sleeps more than I do and is more tired than I am because his body is different from mine). But also sometimes I just want to be like, YOU’RE WRONG.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same. Before we switched to separate rooms, mine was all “I didn’t sleep at ALL last night, I was awake all night!” And I would be like “Really? Because you were snoring like a damn chainsaw all night and I’ve been up reading since 3am because you woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep.” (Which is a large part of why we have separate rooms.)

        1. carcinization*

          Hahaha my husband totally snores when he’s awake, or at least not totally asleep. But now we both have CPAPs so there’s that.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            He actually has a “not quite asleep” snore that usually happens on the couch, a “dead to the world” snore (which is what these invariably were), and a “I didn’t get my CPAP on straight” whistling snore that is the absolute WORST and induces homicidal rage.

    4. anon_sighing*

      People are simultaneously too adverse to confrontation and too sensitive for straightforward conversation. This, coupled with the fact that people feel they need a REASON for everything, had made uptake of this language more pervasive.

      Guys, it’s ok to find someone annoying. You’re not a bad person because someone complaining about how much their job makes them tired all the time brings you down. It’s ok to be annoyed one day and realize the next day that “wow he’s going through a lot but I still get down hearing him talk about it all the time and I don’t like that.” You don’t need to be friends with everyone. It’s ok to say “that person is very nice but they are not for me and no, there is not reason, we just don’t click.” It’s ok for you and other people to have off days and for them to not consider everyone else’s feelings all the time, all day — literally not a human thing to be considerate 24/7.

      I am just so frustrated that people have substituted this specific diagnosis-based language as an excuse for normal human emotion to excuse or justify things that can be described in much plainer, less accusatory/serious language. It’s an excuse to not communicate and have hard conversations that people HAVE to have.

      1. Elle Woods*

        So well stated! Your last line about not having a hard conversation is so spot on, IMO. Members of my extended family excel at passive-aggressive behavior and wind up with hurt feelings, most of which could be avoided if they instead had calm, but direct, conversations about things.

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          This! I mean, isn’t “hey! It’s more than okay to talk this out!” about 90% of the advice on this site?

      2. Kr*

        Yes!!! It’s not that serious! It doesn’t have to be anyone’s FAULT, sometimes two people can be just not compatible for each other

    5. Le le lemon*

      I have a friend who readily will spout off a perceived diagnosis of any friend/acquaintance. She does have good knowledge in the area, so it’s not always off base…but often enough that I’m tempted to ask, “so, what’s *your* diagnosis?”.
      It gets a little much to be around.

    6. matcha123*

      I’ve noticed this for a few years and I think now we are reaching a peak or at a peak where more people are finally starting to question the usage of these terms.

      I definitely see the misuse of therapy and specialized terms online. And if I or anyone else tries to guide the original person to the correct usage, they get so angry that it’s almost not worth it.
      20 or 30 second clips on TikTok about preserving one’s space or leaving behind toxic people are incredibly appealing and I notice that people don’t want to do the hard work of really understanding a friend or looking at a situation. It seems that a lot of people simultaneously want friendships in which their friends are highly supportive and there for them when they are experiencing hardship, but consider being there for a friend going through a rough time to be “trauma dumping” or “toxic energy.”

      I’m not sure what the solution is, other than for people to take time to really learn and understand the words they are using (which seems unlikely).

      I also see this eager misuse as a way to get sympathy and attention from others. If someone says their boyfriend has “gaslit” them by saying he forgot to take out the trash, that’s likely to garner more support and sympathy from people than simply saying he forgot to take out the trash. I was reading a thread where someone said they “trauma bonded” with a friend about their strict parents, and it’s like…that’s not what that means…

      It also seems that the people using terms wrongly for their own situations see them as a way to excuse poor behavior. They didn’t call to cancel lunch with a friend because going out is suddenly “triggering” even after going out the previous night, etc.

    7. Phryne*

      I don’t think it is very realistic to assume anything about anything based on something a school aged kid says. They say so sorts of stuff all day long, some amazingly insightful, done very dumb, a lot parroted from peers or social media. They are still developing their critical thinking skills. You can just gently push her in the right direction by challenging the weirdest stuff that comes out of you would want to.
      Your friend is just being weird though.

      There has been a lot more attention for mental health, which made it more visible for people, and these terms more familiar. Personally I consider that a good thing, as it makes it easier for people e who do need it to realise they can get help and also because it is really getting more de-stigmatised.
      If the side effect is that these terms get misused by people seeking likes on the internet, the best thing to do is just roll your eyes at it and move on.

      1. AGD*

        I agree. I teach undergrads, and I’m amazed by how aware and well informed they are. Younger teenagers are still learning and have a tendency to be intermittently overdramatic, and that’s normal. I’d rather see overreactions that play with awareness of psychological/sociological stuff than ones about inconsequential things that lead to people stereotyping teenagers as materialistic.

        1. Plume*

          Hit send to soon this site really needs an edit button lol.

          My friend is in her 30s and I’ve noticed this with a lot of people of various ages but it’s mainly confined to the under 50 crowd in my circles at least.

      2. anon_sighing*

        I will say I agree with you here that I don’t want people to stop, just to step back. I think this mental health oriented “therapy” language has done a lot for people to be able to express their emotions and identify clear courses of action to move past them (the point of most therapy). This feels like simply too much of a good thing in some spheres, but it’s only people online who have gone overboard in dx narassicism and things of that nature. In real life, I’ve seen people be really passive aggressive with it but that’s the worst (and people were always passive aggressive…it’s just hard to call them of it when they’r being nice about it, I suppose.)

        I don’t think it’s really a roll your eyes and move on thing when mental health severity is ignored. There needs to be a distinction between “feeling sad sometimes” to “clinically depressed and impairs your life but everyone thinks your being lazy because you’re a little sad and can’t suck it up with some self-care.” Mental health awareness is great but can you call it awareness when it drowns out critical nuance? And also there is mental health (medicine) and mental health (social) that should really be emphasized.

        However, I have seen this in people in their 20s mostly. Yes, still young, but not children.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          True, I have seen some good come out of it, but at least in conversations I’ve had there’s been a noticeable line between “this sounds like me, maybe I should look into it” and an excuse for poor behavior. It bothers me less for self dx versus trying to dx others. There’s also a range of how incorrectly someone uses a term, it’s more eye-rolly for me when its wildly off and “I don’t think that means what you think it means” vs an exaggeration of what it actually means.

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think it’s so much due to the expanded uptake of therapy as due to references to therapy stuff on social media which is then read and taken out of context. I see a lot of warnings coming up on facebook about not allowing partners to gaslight you, about narcissism and so on. A lot of those are actually from specific groups, maybe for victims of domestic violence, but they are shared out of context and people who aren’t very educated about such issues or who may be only teenagers and not have much experiences of life read them and think “oh, so if somebody does x, it’s gaslighting,” without realising the importance of context.

      I follow one particular page on facebook about autism and the person running it once asked people not to share one slide of a sequence out of context because it was leading to misinterpretation.

      Like SurprisinglyADHD, I’ve also seen these words used in contexts where they aren’t remotely accurate. “Toxic” and “triggering” in particular get used for things that aren’t remotely either of those things. I know it’s partly joking but I see a lot of “my toxic trait is that I help people out even if they wouldn’t do the same for me” or “my toxic trait is buying too many books” and “triggered” gets used to mean “annoyed” or “disapproves of” or “doesn’t find something funny,” or “has a pet peeve,” none of which are remotely related to trauma triggers.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        A sort of inverse of this, I’m on a Discord server where instead of talking broadly about being “triggered,” people are good about posting things like “cw: medical” or “spoilered for insect picture,” or even “Fred do not read” and then using spoiler bars around something.

        That works partly because the server belongs to someone who includes things like “please spoiler pictures of insects and reptiles” in the rules, and it’s of a size where we can remember that specific people don’t want to see/read about something.

        I’ve taken the idea of being more specific about warnings to things I post elsewhere: rather than a general “trigger warning” or “may bother sensitive people,” it might be “cw: discussion of surgery” or “cw: current US politics.”

      2. anon_sighing*

        Toxic isn’t a mental health term, it’s a social one. It’s used in some phrases like “toxic positivity” but that isn’t a mental health term either, it’s a social one. As a result, they’re all subjective and this is probably one of the key issues with the mental health boom: everything is being conflated.

      3. Cat Executive Officer*

        I think the TikTok trend you’re referring to is meant to be joking, but I get your point. I’m someone who generally exaggerates for humor, and until recently, I would use “traumatized” and “triggered” a lot jokingly. (ie “That movie traumatized me!”) Obviously, I don’t actually believe I’m traumatized. But I’ve made the active decision to stop doing that because I realize a lot of people might take these jokes as a green light to use them in inappropriately (actually describing themselves as traumatized when they’re not).

    9. Nervous Nellie*

      Yes, this is definitely a thing. I just read a great article on the Psychology Today website by psychotherapist Nancy Coller (called, “Trauma is Not a Bad Date or Discontinued Starbucks Drink), that digs into this directly. She also points out that the extreme labeling of minor events also pushes us to a sense of entitlement and expectation that life should never be inconvenient or challenging. Not a good thing.

      This has been growing for some time, even pre-internet. I have a family member who has been going on about her ‘toxic workplace’ for 25 years. So quit already! Hah.

    10. Qwerty*

      I only hear that kind of talk from people who are chronically online. The internet is fueled by emotions, preferably in the extremes. It’s probably less related to the expanded use of therapy and more likely tied to the expanded use of sites like AITA and forcing stories into a hero/villian template.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        I like your description of the hero/villain template, it’s a pretty accurate way to sum up a lot of online interactions I’ve seen. If you’re annoyed without a “good” reason, then you’re the bad guy, if you like a book or movie that’s “problematic” (there’s another word that gets thrown around) then you must support the bad thing shown in it. People aren’t allowed to just be people, they have to fit into a clickbait headline even if it’s just a friend of yours and not a news article.
        Thanks, you’ve given me a great way to articulate something that’s been bothering me for a long time!

    11. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

      Yeah, I saw a good video on Reddit the other day saying we’re moving towards having perfect boundaries and no real friends (for the reasons you’ve described)

      1. anon_sighing*

        This sounds like someone being really weird. You can have good and perfect boundaries with plenty of friends. I don’t think it’s the right move to assume another problem on the opposite end of this problem.

        Unless the person was suggesting that people don’t understand proper boundaries and want everyone to treat them like a gd-king (THIS is what I think the issue is, everyone is moving toward a ‘I can be flawed and human but other can’t!’ mentality whereas a normal boundary is more…‘I don’t like to be touched and if you touch me I will leave this room’ boundaries are rules for you that decent people will respect but ultimately you are the one who needs to follow through and communicate them. The issue is people can’t define their boundaries well and worse yet, the boundaries are porous, meaning they let people break them without saying & then snap one day, or they never tell people and get mad.)

        1. Jackalope*

          Here’s my experience with that. I’ve seen a number of people online who conflate “boundaries” with “drop the other person out of your life the second they do something you don’t like”. Now obviously everyone gets to make their own judgment calls as far as what they consider severe enough not to keep someone around, and there are good reasons to have “one strike you’re out” issues. But I remember for example when I had just started dating my now spouse. They had a common term of endearment they called me – imagine something like honey or dear, normal and not condescending – but I happened to hate this term. For whatever reason it’s always been like fingernails on a chalkboard when someone calls me that. I happened to read someone online discussing this issue, and saying that if they had a friend or romantic partner call them by a term like this that they didn’t like (again, they were explicitly talking about a regular term of endearment, not something that is often an insult or anything like that), they would tell the other person to stop. If they did it again more than one or two times, they would call off the relationship because they considered it so disrespectful.

          Now, my spouse meant no disrespect. After much work they have dropped this term from their vocab when talking with me. But it took a couple of years before it completely disappeared (although it was several months between each usage at the end). I didn’t mind; as long as I knew they were trying I was okay with it. But according to the Interwebs I should have broken up with them almost right away.

          That’s the example I think of with this. There’s the idea that has been circulating more recently that people can make huge changes immediately, and if they don’t you should kick them out of your lives. Again, for big stuff yes. But that doesn’t work for smaller stuff. And all of us mess up sometimes and need the people around us to forgive our slip ups and be willing to move on. (Which can also involve conversations around why the slip ups weren’t okay, if that’s needed. But we can’t be perfect.)

    12. Busy Middle Manager*

      Yes. I feel like people are looking for a disorder under every bed and in every closet. For example, a recent social media trend was “they aren’t mature for their age, they had to grow up quick due to a traumatic childhood.” This one bothers me because I was “mature for my age” because of good things – grew up in a semi-rural safe area, got encouraged to go out and do stuff at a young age, not a full latchkey kid but some time periods were like that. Older kids and neighborhood parents were around if something happened. My parents gave me an allowance so I could go out on my bike and get a drink or snack if I needed. Now suddenly that is being neglected and traumatized? OK, so now these words have no meaning I guess.

      This pop psychology also bothers me because it’s just factually wrong at times. For example, the above case. My sister works in a school in an area known for neglected kids, etc (yes there is a town near me that has a bad deserved reputation – drugs, poverty etc. cluster their due to the cheap housing, sort of a cycle) and those kids are traumatized and not mature. In fact, they’re in survival mode so not receptive to learning basics things. The exact opposite of what the internet says.

    13. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I was catching up with an old friend and the conversation was kind of exhausting because it felt more like a monologue using therapy speak versus a conversation.

    14. mreasy*

      My friends and coworkers (even the young ones) don’t do this, thankfully. I am hoping the pendulum swings back and people start respecting this language.

    15. Part time lab tech*

      Totally. Armchair diagnosing has always been a thing and I do it sometimes myself.
      There’s also a trend of pathologising temperament traits in less common combinations. Personally I identify as being an intelligent introvert with a diagnosed sleep disorder. I have had a couple of people say I should be tested for autism or ADHD. The traits/symptoms they are talking about can be completely explained by the “cautious, intelligent introvert ‘s introvert with a sleep disorder” and I’d be borderline to make a clinical case for either in a thorough assessment.
      However, the pathologising of common traits can take over space that used to held by people with significant disability. A few people also try to use as a get out of consequences free card but we can all learn to be better.

    16. Anonymous cat*

      Re: narcissism: while it’s good that we’re more aware this exists, I think it’s used too quickly and for behavior that’s just self-centered.

      People can be selfish and not care about others AND understand they’re not the Main Character. They just ignore that part.

    17. Cat Executive Officer*

      I keep seeing this online and it’s driving me crazy. And like other commenters have pointed out, it’s usually couched in this selfish framework where the person is allowed to be inconsiderate because of their mental health issues, but other people can’t ask anything of them or have flaws of their own.

      When I got late-diagnosed with ADHD 4 years ago, my immediate takeaway was “great! Now I know what’s wrong, I can use the appropriate accommodations and treatments”. It was never: “I can use my ADHD to get out of doing anything I don’t want and make others compensate for the things I don’t want to do.” But it seems like a lot of ADHD TikTok is about using your ADHD as an excuse to be unreliable and inconsiderate.

    18. star*

      There was a podcast episode from the BBC radio programme Word of Mouth – it’s called “Therapy Speak”.

  14. Anonymous Koala*

    Favorite make-ahead freezer meals? My sister’s having a baby soon and I’d love to stock her fridge/ freezer with some meals that don’t require any prep beyond maybe heating in the microwave/oven.

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

      Tuna Casserole: Mix in these proportions–one can drained tuna, one can peas, one can cream of mushroom soup, one diced hardboiled egg–and bake for 30 mins at 350 degrees.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I never thought to freeze chicken Marsala – do you freeze it cooked in the sauce, or make the sauce and cook the chicken in it before serving?

    2. The cat's pajamas*

      I like crock pot meals like pot roast, chili, salsa chicken, etc. There’s lots of variations in chicken with sauce and veggies, assuming they are carnivores.

      1. The cat's pajamas*

        Some things might need rice or pasta, I get the frozen brown rice in the steamer bag when I can find it.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          the 90 second microwave rice packets are also way better than they have any business being, if you’re looking for 2-3 servings, and come in some nice flavored options.

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            I used to get those before I found the frozen ones, thanks for reminding me they exist. :)

    3. old curmudgeon*

      Make a regular-sized batch of lasagna but put it in loaf pans – a single recipe will make two or three loaf pans’ worth, so the tired parents don’t have to deal with a giant pan of leftover lasagna but can just fix a supper’s worth.

      There’s a casserole recipe called King Ranch Casserole (chicken, corn tortillas, onions, cream soup, Rotel chili and tomatoes) that freezes well, too, and I do the same thing with loaf pans for that.

      I second the idea of crock pot meals; I’ve made up crocks full of beef-barley soup or chicken and wild rice soup, then frozen the results in quart-sized zip-lock freezer bags as food gifts for someone needing help.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        The loaf pans are a brilliant idea! We are newly empy nesters, and cooking for 2 is hard. I think this is something that would work for us, too!

        1. old curmudgeon*

          Absolutely – my freezer has half a dozen loaf pans full of various casseroles right now, because my spouse and I neither need nor want to deal with four feet of leftover lasagna in the fridge.

          If you really want to go super-easy for the sleep-deprived new parents, use disposable foil loaf pans that they can just chuck in the trash rather than washing and returning. That’s not quite as environmentally friendly as using a regular loaf pan, so I don’t do it with casseroles I make for us, but it’s a nice little extra way to make a gift of food easier for the recipient to enjoy.

      2. Jackalope*

        My experience with lasagna is that it freezes really well and will stay good in the freezer for awhile (longer than some of the other pasta dishes I’ve tried). I know people sometimes get tired of lasagna since everyone wants to give that, so you might check with your sister first. But it’s such a good meal for putting in the freezer. I’ve sometimes made a double batch and then eaten one that week and put the other in single serve portions in the freezer for my lunches down the road.

    4. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      In addition to meals, I loved having muffins in the freezer as a quick snack.

      this last time my favorite was the Kale sausage and white beans my mom froze for us. I was also pretty anemic for a week so iron rich meals where great.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        to clarify the Kale, sausage, and beans was a frozen meal not muffins!

        she also did cheesy chicken and rice for us.

        1. LizB*

          I mean, I would totally try some egg “muffins” that are like little frittatas with kale, sausage, and white beans as the mix-ins.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I saw some recipes for muffin tin meatloaves and potatoes that I thought would be perfect to keep in the freezer. Alas, the meal train filled up and I didn’t have a chance to make them.

      3. the cat's pajamas*

        That reminds me, it wasn’t for a baby, but a friend once sent me a gift basket of nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, chocolate type stuff when I was going through some life stuff. It was nice to have healthy-ish snacks on hand for when I didn’t feel like eating much or didn’t have the energy to make a full meal.

    5. anon_sighing*

      The frozen meals (especially the Indian ones) from Trader Joe’s are tasty and obviously frozen. I keep a few at work for lunch when I come in and they work for me.

    6. Pop*

      Pinch of Yum has a freezer series of recipes – I haven’t made a ton of them but I remember the recipes having more variety than just many recipes for pasta bakes, etc.

    7. Silmaril*

      Absolutely agree re one pot/crockpot type meals – it’s easy when busy/tired if protein/carbs/veggies are all in one, so no brain power is required to assemble meal!

      Budget Bytes has a lot of recipes which work well for this – I use for meal prep, make a double batch in advance, freeze in single portions (in freezer bags) to take to work, reheat in microwave.

      I’ll put links to a couple which reheat well in a reply to this, but I’ve generally only had good results from her site. I tend to double seasoning quantities (except salt), because I prefer spicy/highly flavoured foods, but YMMV. I’m gluten free and find plenty of the recipes work well for GF diet with minimal or single substitutions (eg GF pasta).

      Since it’s for a post baby period, suggest it might be good freezing at least some of the meals in one person portions (labelled as such) – as even if she has a partner whoever is at home with the baby will sometimes be eating alone.

      1. Silmaril*

        Ideas for easily freezable meals from Budget Bytes.

        There are loads of others on the site, these are just some examples. As I said above, I personally prefer spicy/highly flavoured meals, so I generally double the quantity of herbs and spices (except salt, which I don’t increase), but the recipes taste perfectly fine when made as written.





        (If doing one pot pasta meals with gluten free pasta, bring it all to the boil before adding pasta, and watch the timings carefully – as in, check how long your pasta needs to cook and use this for the duration of simmering – this prevents it going gummy or disintegrating. Not an issue with normal pasta as it has more structural integrity!)

        For breakfasts:


        These are outstanding for a quick and easy but nourishing/hot/high protein breakfast, if you want a change from muffins. Can vary ingredients according to personal preferences. (If you don’t have time to roast potatoes, cook up some premade hash browns and break them up in the bottom of the bowls instead.)

        Hope everything goes smoothly with the new arrival, it’s so nice that you’re planning to help your sister out in such a kind and practical way.

    8. Pigeon*

      Postpartum dark chocolate energy bites. Not dinner, but it’s good to have things you can shove in your mouth when you have a baby

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      I like to make and freeze burritos- they reheat quickly for lunch and you can eat them with one hand.

    10. Lady Danbury*

      Soups/stews/braises freeze well. Chili, beef stew, chicken stew, etc. Freeze in quart or even sandwich size bags (sandwich bags can be placed inside a gallon freezer bag once frozen). They’re also easy to store if you freeze them flat. You can also freeze some type of bread (rolls or cornbread) to go woth them, also individually packaged.

    11. JustEm*

      I just had baby #2 a little over a month ago (other kid is almost 3), and the things I’ve enjoyed the most this time are minestrone soup (no pasta) – frozen in 4 cup servings so enough for one meal for 2 -, frozen burritos, lasagna, tuna noodle casserole, quiche, chicken pot pie. Though now I’m having to cut out dairy (common with breastfeeding) and can’t eat any remaining meal-prepped food – I wish I’d made/asked for some dairy-free options

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Oh I never thought about having to cut out certain food groups post-baby – thanks, I’ll make sure some options are dairy/nut/gluten free.

        1. Washi*

          Dairy is definitely a big one and it’s really common to experiment with cutting it out even if there doesn’t end up being an allergy because babies cry a lot and you want to try to fix it (…or at least that was what we did haha).

          I loved having homemade frozen veggies burgers and buns available, since they are easy to eat one handed!

        2. I Miss Cheese*

          Same boat, baby #2 has dairy allergy and now I can’t eat any of my extensive freezer meal stash that all includes butter or cheese; in babies this is a milk protein sensitivity, not lactose intolerance, so also need to avoid beef and sheep/goat milk. High percentage of babies (mine included) with dairy allergy are also sensitive to soy, so might be worth making some dairy/soy free options. Smitten kitchen’s puréed carrot/red pepper soup (then just need to make couscous to serve), a puréed sweet potato red lentil stew, NYT arrabiata sauce (I add some crisped prosciutto) fit the bill and freeze well. Check labels, lots of things include soy, “vegetable oil” is soy in the US. If she does wind up in this situation, VioLife feta is worth a try, and EarthBalance makes a specifically soy free non dairy butter sub; some variety of Guittard chocolate chips are dairy/soy free

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – I freeze meatloaf in patties, like hamburger patties, so it can be eaten as a slab with sides or easily whacked into a sandwich.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          I cook mine in the Instant Pot and do something similar. Do a one-pound batch, wrap in foil or parchment, cook on high on a trivet for 30 minutes (with a cup of water in the bottom), natural release for 10 minutes or when you remember it. Take it out, put in on a plate to unwrap, put it in the fridge to firm up overnight, and then slice and freeze the next day.

          I’ll usually take some out the night before I want some and then reheat in the air fryer. It’s so great that way.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do shredded pork and/or chicken, either with bbq sauce or in bean-and-corn salsa. Can go on a sandwich, into a bowl of rice or mashed potatoes, into tacos/burritos.

    13. Clisby*

      Lasagna. Ham and bean soup. Beef (or chicken) vegetable soup. Or, of course, any of these could be made without meat if your sister is vegetarian. Chili. Spaghetti sauce (not sure how well spaghetti itself would freeze, but I’ve cooked sturdier pastas like rotini or ziti, mixed them in with the cooked sauce, and frozen that.)

    14. Anonymous Koala*

      Thanks everyone, these look delicious!!! Definitely going to make some of these this week to prep for our new family member :)

  15. goddessoftransitory*

    Welcome Grendel and Teddy! May you solve many cat crimes while wearing small hats.

  16. Chronic*

    I need help figuring out how to have fun without using my eyes (while home in my apartment). I have chronic migraines and when I have downtime my eyes are either too painful to focus or I need to just keep them closed. The logical suggestion of audiobooks/podcasts does not work with my ADHD – I lose track of auditory items after a sentence or two. I am so bored but all of my hobbies involve looking at things and I’m unsuccessful at switching stuff like knit/crochet to being my touch. I know there’s a lot of disabled folks here so hoping someone else has experience with this? Internet searching has not been helpful

    1. kalli*

      Can you handle sound with your migraines? Enough to play an instrument? You don’t have to follow tab or notation to just get a small keyboard and mess around with it, and you can tell where your hands are by what notes they play. Or you can just listen to music – my migraines don’t like higher/thinner tones but heavy bass is soothing. Unless you’re into prog or classical, a lot of pieces are under 5 minutes and don’t really require active mental engagement – if there are words you don’t have to follow them, it’s just sound that takes enough cognitive load to take the edge off.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        For the first, I wondered if Says You would work? After a few sentences they’ve moved on to another topic.

    2. anon_sighing*

      Music and stretching? Daydreaming? Aromatherapy? Tactile puzzles (such as those for the visually impaired)? (Guided) Meditation?

      I suppose it depends how much time you will be down at any given time. I’m sorry about the migraines, we don’t take them seriously enough…anywhere.

    3. AGD*

      How about something using your voice and a computer-based transcriber? Journalling or creative writing maybe?

    4. Chaordic One*

      Listening to music? I find jazz and classical music helpful in situations like this. I like to listen to my local classical music radio station (we don’t have any jazz radio stations nearby) or to online classical or jazz radio stations. I set the volume fairly low. (I want to be able to hear the words that a singer sings, but not blasted out of the room.)

    5. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I have the same problem :( The only solution I found was changing my phone’s screen settings to something I can’t even see on a good day. On my old android I used an app called Night Shift, it dims and reddens the screen well past what the phone’s brightness settings let me. On my new iphone I couldn’t find a good app but dug into the accessibility settings. I set three taps of the Lock button to bring up the Accessibility Menu, which I added two settings to: “Reduce White Point” and “Color Filters.” I set the color filter to be “color tint” then chose red and turned up the “intensity” slider. With those two settings on, and the phone brightness turned down, I can’t even see it on a good day. But with a migraine, I can still play simple puzzle or word games that don’t rely on color or sound, or read if I can get my eyes to focus right (I exclusively use dark mode both online and in apps).

    6. tangerineRose*

      Would it help to listen to audiobooks you’ve already read? If you know what’s going to happen, it could be somewhat entertaining but wouldn’t matter as much if you lose track.

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      If you enjoy listening to the radio, the weekly 1-hour NPR game program ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” can be found online and replayed. The questions are fun, the hosts are warm & lively, and the guests/panel are an often surprising mix of celebrities and comedians. It’s easier than an audio book because it’s more like a conversation with people around your dining table, with many voices and short sentences (and some very witty banter that can be a real chuckle). It’s not like following a long monologue or book on tape. Maybe worth a try?

    8. Anonymous cat*

      Can you listen to audiobooks or podcasts if it doesn’t matter if you lose the thread?

      If that works, maybe anthologies or short story collections would help? And there are multiple podcasts focusing on short stories. If you lose the thread you can pick it up in the next story. (I do something like this when sleeping.)

      Or interview type podcasts! They usually bounce around from topic to topic so you can definitely go in and out and still enjoy them.

  17. MozartBookNerd*

    Has anyone tried “prism glasses,” a/k/a “periscope glasses” or “lazy reader glasses” or the like? I gather they’re basically designed to let you read while keeping your neck straight instead of hunching your shoulders over the book or computer.

    There seem to be a bunch of different brands out there, so I’m interested in opinions from folks please! Are some of them adjustable? Workable with contacts? Workable for working on a laptop? Etc.? They all seem inexpensive but it’d be nice to avoid hassles in finding a good one — thanks so much!

      1. MozartBookNerd*

        Me too, I figure they’d probably be good for breaking bad habits about posture! On the other hand I usually use reading glasses, so that’ll definitely be an issue LOL.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t know the details of various brands or options, but I was just gifted a pair of these! I have not tried them yet, but I’ll report back next week.

  18. Jackalope*

    A bit late tonight, but reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading, and give or request recs.

    I just finished the last book so far in Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid series. It was a good book and fun to see the perspective of Mary after having read about her so much. At the same time it was also painful since this was the first book where family members died, and much of the book was spent dealing with grief.

    I Also just started The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi which has been a lot of fun and rollicking so far.

    1. Llama face!*

      I just read Mom of the Chosen One by DM Fike. It was a free Kindle ebook and it was exactly the fun easy read I’d hoped it would be. It’s the first in a series so I still have a few more books to enjoy.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      Just finished “The Husbands” by Holly Gramazio. Such a fun book. An excellent and imaginative premise that was executed really well.

      I think I’m going to start “What Happened to Nina” by Dervla McTiernan.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      A recommendation from an author blog of Beneath Strange Lights by Vivian Valentine. The author’s description is “‘Gay Nancy Drew meets The X-Files with a touch of Cthulhu”, it’s set in small town US in the 1950s, and it was a fun read.

      Also re-reading the Vorkosigan series by Bujold, which I haven’t done in a while.

      1. GoryDetails*

        OK, “Beneath Strange Lights” is now on my radar – that description is very tempting!

    4. Six Feldspar*

      Just finished reading The High Window by Raymond Chandler, I’m really impressed by his prose.

    5. Teapot Translator*

      I read House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, which was good, but not wow, and A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot (in the original French).

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I loved Trap for Cinderella! Alas I cannot read French so I read the English translation.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I had dropped a few new books and decided to loop back through the duo The Epic Crush of Genie Lo and The Iron Will of Genie Lo. YA but I would recommend for anyone; by FC Yee, who also wrote the Avatar Kyoshi and Yangchen novels. (I haven’t read these, but it seems to be where a lot of people know him from.)

      A teenager in a poor section of Silicon Valley is laser focused on how she will escape this place by crushing the college admissions process into dust; the Monkey King shows up and insists that she has to help him defeat a bunch of demons who escaped hell. Genie is a really engaging heroine; I recognized the obsessive desire to defeat the admissions process from my own kid; I like that she enjoys volleyball for the chance to get out there and crush the competition. (This aspect of competitive sports often seems to get downplayed.) There’s a good logic to the story (why her; why are the demons in Silicon Valley) and a lot of nice small touches, like that her mom is the queen of passive aggression and they butt heads a lot while also having an underlying deep love for each other. Like the Percy Jackson series, you learn a lot of Chinese mythology from the point of view of a modern person who will point out that Ye Olde Tradition is really morally screwed up.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Wow! That sounds really great. I’ve just ordered it at the library. Thanks! And thank you also for the great description. I have several Falling Diphthong picks on my library list.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I have to live about a hundred and fifty more years or so to catch up with all the books I’ve noted down from these threads.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        Thanks! I read your description, put the ebook on hold at the library (I’m getting on a plane in a few hours), and minutes ago, it became available!

      3. IT manager*

        I read this just today, from a recommendation here and really enjoyed it! Just borrowed The Iron Will.

        Really fun to learn about other folklore than the Greeks. Well written.

    7. word nerd*

      Lots of good reads for me this past week:
      The Word Hord, nonfiction about Old English words
      The House of Doors, historical fiction about Somerset Maugham
      Funny Story, a solid new Emily Henry, although not as good as Book Lovers
      The White Deer by James Thurber (a rec from here, really odd fairy tale but in a good way!)
      The Monsters We Defy (another rec from here, and it was excellent–my favorite of the month! I really hope she writes another book with the same setting)

      One book I did not like was The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, my first attempt at Brandon Sanderson. The humor really did not work for me, although I’m also not a huge fan of the humor in Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

      I’m about halfway through The Shadow of the Wind and mostly bored throughout. Debating giving up at this point even though I totally thought this would be up my alley since it’s a book about a book.

      1. Shiara*

        I typically enjoy Brandon Sanderson, and I bounced off “The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook” hard. As in I haven’t been able to get through the first chapter. You might find something like “The Emperor’s Soul” a more enjoyable entry point to his work.

      2. Warm sweater*

        I almost gave up on shadow of the wind. As you I adore a book about a book . My last resort in that situation is to read the ending first. I am not sure why it helps, but I did it and it gave me the energy to read the middle to

        1. word nerd*

          I did read the end last night and decided that was good enough and officially gave up on reading the rest of it. :P

    8. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress as usual, including:

      A Letter to the Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall, an epistolary novel set on a world almost entirely covered with ocean, where different cultures – survivors of some kind of catastrophic event from generations past – try to explore the ocean depths at great cost. Unusual, charming, with two characters (each married to a same-sex partner, something non-remarkable in this world) find themselves bonding over their shared attempts to delve into the histories of their lost, beloved siblings, who had themselves connected via letters.

      An unusual little book in German: Der Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann, aka “Slovenly Peter,” a collection of dark little anecdotes meant as cautionary tales for children. (I read a little German, though not well enough to read the book without help. But it includes the traditional 19th-century illustrations, showing – for example – the Scissorman snipping off the thumbs of the incorrigible thumb-sucker. Ah, the good old days!)

      Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill, a post-apocalyptic tale of a world in which only robots still exist – with one robot roaming the bleak terrain, scavenging for needed components, and feeling disturbing sensations regarding the destruction of humankind. (So far the robot protagonist feels a bit too human, if that makes sense, but I’m interested enough to continue reading.)

      Mystery on the Isles of Shoals by J. Dennis Robinson, non-fiction about the infamous 1873 ax-murder on the Isles of Shoals off the Maine and New Hampshire coasts, which ostensibly puts to rest any remaining doubts as to whether the person convicted of the crime was indeed the killer. Lots of intriguing detail so far – including a modern-day experiment to verify the possibility of rowing from Portsmouth to the island and back in a small rowboat, as the killer would have done.

      In Praise of Poison Ivy by Anita Sanchez, non-fiction about the history and (surprisingly varied) uses to which that (literally) irritating vine has been put. I was among the lucky few to be immune to poison ivy as a kid, but after some unwise and pretty serious exposure to the roots of poison sumac I found that I was now very, very sensitive to all the urushiol-bearing plants – so I’m finding the book quite interesting.

    9. Nervous Nellie*

      Three for me this week!

      The Red Notebook by Paul Auster – odd little 2-page vignettes that weave themselves into a story/diary. Auster’s writing is so elegant!

      You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero – It’s a bit woowoo about the universe (ahem, The Universe) but it’s the pep talk I need as a spring cleaning for my life. I never read it when it came out. It has some useful nuggets for making life changes.

      Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt – with a grumpy, dying octopus as narrator, this cross-species friendship story is unputdownable. It was recommended here last week – thank you! My local bookseller also recommended I get a big box of chocolates and a bigger box of tissues to go with. Done. And needed.

    10. But Not the Armadillo*

      I finished Frank & Red by Matt Coyne in the week. Lovely and funny and sweet.

      Up next – maybe Two Metres From You by Heidi Stephens and/or Widowland by C J Carey.

      I ordered the sprayed-edge indie bookstore version of How to Be a Bad Botanist by Simon Barnes as a gift for a family member; it’s on the way to me now and I’m very excited to give it!

    11. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m hoping to finish Black Mouth this weekend. I’ve been liking it so far and it certainly gives off King vibes if that’s your jam

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Rereading from opposite poles this week: Shirley Jackson’s Raising Demons, and Lolita. Quite the mix!

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Douglas Preston’s new book Extinction. It’s about what might happen if scientists were successful in bringing bring back long-extinct animals, like the woolly mammoth. Seems a bit like Jurassic Park.

      I tried reading The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, but I just couldn’t get into it. I’m really glad I got it from the Libby app rather than buying the Kindle version. I’ve enjoyed Rollins’s books, and I’ve seen the Twilight movies, but the combo of his type of book with the addition of vampires just isn’t for me. It also seems obvious where his writing stops and hers begins.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        As I recall you and I have similar taste in books — if the Preston book works for you, you may also like Matthew Reilly’s “Great Zoo of China” – it’s specifically a Jurassic Park homage, only with a female main character and sort of crossed with Indiana Jones.

    14. carcinization*

      Reading Up the Walls of the World by James Tiptree, yes, I know the author was actually a lady (people always want to point that out when I say I’m reading something by this author). I mostly grabbed it from the bookcase because I finally finished the previous small-paperback-I-carried-around-to-coffeeshops, Stations of the Tide by Swanwick.

    15. Texan In Exile*

      American anarchy: the epic struggle between immigrant radicals and the US government at the dawn of the twentieth century, by Michael Willrich. It’s about the anarchist movement in the early 20th century, with focus on Emma Goldman and the lawyer who founded the ACLU. It’s gripping and awful and depressing, about the government squashing First Amendment rights and wrongfully imprisoning people, claiming they had conspired to overthrow the government.

    16. ElastiGirl*

      I’ve gotten lots of great suggestions lurking on this thread, but this might be my first time responding…

      I tried to read Jimmy Carter’s biography, A Full Life but had to put it down after less than 100 pages. I admire the man greatly, but I’m afraid I was bored with his life.

      Reading Simon Winchester’s Knowing What We Know right now and finding it fascinating. It’s about how knowledge is transmitted. Today I learned that the Amazon Alexa was named after the Library of Alexandria!

    17. MeepMeep123*

      I’m rediscovering Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May series. Wonderful stuff. I read all the books about 3 years ago and I’m really enjoying coming back to them.

  19. Jackalope*

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

    We continue ahead with our D&D campaign, which is going swimmingly. I just decided to multiclass my character which I’ve never done before but which I think will be fun. She’s mostly a ranger (level 12), but now has 2 levels of monk as well.

    1. Notamimic*

      I have FINALLY gotten protector of the valley in Stardew Valley, those pepper rexes took forever. Now I just need to get enough moss to craft all the new craftables, and I should be able to achieve perfection.

      In tabletop, we recently got some battle maps from an Amazon returns store for very cheap, which was exciting. I’m vaguely prepping for our next session, which is still a month away.

      Party just hit level 5 and are going to be checking out a pirate hideout. I think this might be a fun opportunity to throw a mimic or two at them. Most of my players have minimal prior DND experience, so I’d like to throw in a classic.

    2. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I watched a streamer play a very early access version of Hades 2 and I am SO excited for it to be released! I’m debating buying it during the beta/early access phase. I never do that, my mentality is “give me a finished game or you don’t get my money.” But after seeing how they handled the beta for the first game, including continuing to patch any issues players found for so long after the final release, I’m inclined to join the beta for this one. Has anyone played a game in late beta, and is it worth it?

    3. OMG, Bees!*

      I’m hopping around a lot, but Stardew Valley since 1.6 came out (this time I will finish the community center!); some SuperMarket Simulator, but I think I hit the end of current content; a recent one I picked up but haven’t finish is Pacific Drive, which is better than expected (although at times intense and spooky)

  20. Myrin*

    Last week, I asked about little things you regret not getting or doing and it resulted in an awesome thread with a lot of really interesting stories – I’ll put a link in a reply (and I’m seeing that today’s very first comment already did so, which makes me feel very honoured!).

    This week, I would like to talk about the opposite: tell me about a time when, in hindsight, you were glad you didn’t get or do something. I’ll start:

    There was this absolutely gorgeous dress in one of my mum’s catalogues. I didn’t have any formal wear at that time and I saw this dress and immediately fell in love. It was made from dark green satin – I’m a redhead and dark green is just a colour that looks good on redheads -, had a beautiful and a bit extravagant cut, and above all lacey long sleeves, which is something you don’t see often but which I love. I was half-pining after this dress for literal years.

    And then, by total coincidence, my sister actually got it and allowed me to try it on and oh boy, did I look silly in it. I’m not tall anyway and this dress made me look like some sort of short, stumpy gnome with no body shape to speak of. Best decision to not buy something ever. It does look fantastic on my sister, though (we are actually the same height but she has a very different body type which clearly lended itself to this particular dress)!

    So, guys, tell me about your experiences with something like this!

    1. Six Feldspar*

      Massive thanks to my younger self for being too scared of the pain to wax or pluck her eyebrows! I wouldn’t do that now either in case they don’t grow back…

      1. Stephanie*

        Same…I was a teenager/young adult in the 90s and 00s and just didn’t wax or pluck my eyebrows. My eyebrows now are very happy for that…

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Not piercing my nose! And yes, not doing the “eyebrow threads and brown lipstick” trend from the nineties in general.

    2. AGD*

      At 14, I couldn’t decide whether to spend a huge proportion of my savings on a minidisc player and several minidiscs to put in it. I went back and forth for about 8 months and felt foolish for doing so much fence sitting. I never did make up my mind. Am glad I didn’t go for it, because it didn’t take long for minidiscs to be 100% obsolete!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I bought cassingles back in the day! (For those who don’t know, cassette tapes with one song on them.)

        1. carcinization*

          The ones I bought had at least one song on each side (but I guess once in awhile it was a song and then an alternate version on the other side), hmm….

    3. Generic Name*

      My ex really really wanted one of those console/credenza types of furniture with a simulated fireplace in it. Somehow it uses electricity and is a space heater as well. I never liked the look of any of them, and I thought the place he wanted to put it didn’t need another piece of large furniture in it. But I humored him and went shopping for them. Fortunately (ha ha) we got divorced shortly after that, and I had to practically beg him to take any furniture from the house (I later learned that he wanted all new stuff but for me to pay for it), so he likely would have left that piece behind. I guess alls well that ends well because he got that fireplace credenza he wanted, and I still don’t have one.

      1. Enough*

        Sure. I had two serious boyfriends in college and one I dated while broken up with boyfriend #2. It is good that I didn’t end up marrying either of the first two. I did marry number three, 8 years after I first met him. 40 years and counting. Should have known he was the one as we stayed friends after our short dating history.

      2. Generic Name*

        I mean, the ex described in my comment about the fake fireplace credenza was my college boyfriend who I married and later divorced……

      1. Anon this minute*

        Lol, yep. Dodged a bullet with first long-term boyfriend. He is lovely person, but it wasn’t going to work, and we’re both happier apart.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Me too, with a guy I dated on and off for a few years (before I met Husband.) Great guy, similar interests…but it wasn’t going to be The Relationship. I had a friend ask if he and I ever discussed marriage, and my stomach dropped like a rock–I knew then this wasn’t a good idea.

      2. allathian*

        I’m also happy that I had the sense to end my first serious relationship. We just weren’t compatible.

    4. Anon this minute*

      I used to covet mini coopers — there was a dealership in CT that I’d go by every so often, and I’d fantasize about buying one . . . until I actually sat in the back seat of one. Hard as a rock. Now, I just enjoy looking at mini coopers for how cute they are, but I have zero desire to own one.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I thought about getting a mini cooper or a Fiat, but I read the reviews on consumer reports, and apparently both are terrible cars. Super cute, though.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I drove a smart car for years, and when I test drove a Fiat, it felt smaller than the Smart had. Like, none of the advantages of the Smart and all of the downsides of a tiny car. (Why on earth would you put a “back seat” in the thing. :P My 4’10” roommate couldn’t fit back there.)

        2. londonedit*

          That’s really odd because there are millions of Minis here and they’re generally seen as very good and desirable cars. The very first models of the ‘new’ Mini from 20+ years ago maybe weren’t the most reliable, but mine’s over 10 years old and it’s never had a problem. You see tons of them on the roads here, they’re a really popular choice.

      2. londonedit*

        Do you mean the modern Mini? I have one and it’s great! Granted I spend my time in the driver’s seat and not the back seat, but it’s amazing how many people you can fit comfortably in my car. You wouldn’t think the back seats would be comfortable but everyone who sits there tells me it’s surprisingly comfy and spacious! And mine’s only a 3-door! I love it.

      3. Esprit de l'escalier*

        My friend just gave up a lease on a mini cooper after a year because, though it was super fun to drive and was adorable, it kept having expensive and/or inconvenient problems, and there was finally a last-straw breakdown 40 miles from home. Friend told me their new non-sporty car is more comfortable and is likely to be more reliable and they enjoyed the mini for a year but that was enough. (Friend is both romantic and practical about these kinds of things though not always at the same time.)

  21. matcha123*

    For those of you who are the low income friend amongst a bunch of high-income earners, do you ever feel like your lower income makes you a worse friend?

    Objectively, I know that’s not true. But I feel like a crappy friend because I didn’t have the skills or ability to do a major that would pay more. I don’t have the personality type (highly extroverted and aggressive) that tends to do well for going after higher income jobs. And I’ve mostly only ever been in low income jobs, where I can pay my bills and live a better life than I was raised with, but a life that is such a significant step down from my peers that they have difficulties relating to me.

    I take on side jobs and I also spend time studying to increase my skillset. And it seems like my friends don’t really need to do the same and at times I pick up on their frustration that I can’t travel with them or to them. Not everyone, of course. I just feel like I’m being low-key hated at times because I don’t have a “eat out and travel with friends” fund in addition to having a certain amount of savings. I feel especially bad when I have to turn down invitations due to having a side job or needing to carve out time to study something.

    On top of that, I also feel like I’m being deceitful if I technically could pay for something or go somewhere, but don’t. I could technically go with a friend and pay $4k+ to fly out to Finland and go with her to see the Northern Lights or something, but then that’d be that much that I don’t have in savings. Logically, I know I’m not doing anything terrible, but I do feel like a massive downer and let down as a friend. If any of you have been or are in a similar position, how do you cope? This isn’t a “give it 5 years and it will be better” situation. I am going to be in this position for life unless I win the lottery.

    1. anon_sighing*

      > I just feel like I’m being low-key hated at times because I don’t have a “eat out and travel with friends” fund

      If your friends can’t appreciate doing something with you at your comfort level, they’re not being super great friends. This is not how friendship should feel at all. I will ask, do you *FEEL* this way or do they make you feel this way? It’s a huge distinction and would cause me to rethink this.

      Most people, even high earners, don’t expect a friend to fly at a whim to Finland to see the northern lights, too.

      1. matcha123*

        I feel awkward since we are all childfree/childless people who are more introverted in ways and also don’t have massive friend groups. So in various instances, me not going on a trip means the other person will not go on a trip because they don’t want to go alone. The trip isn’t always Finland, but I’m one of the only, of not THE only female friend they could ask to join them (since their other similar age female friends either have kids or are married).
        Obviously I’d love to go if I could, but I don’t have it in my budget. They say they understand, but I can hear the disappointment and see it in their faces.

        1. Dr. Doll*

          Your income is not making you a bad friend. if someone can’t go on a trip (or whatever) because YOU can’t come, that’s their problem to solve in some way.

          it does sound like you are not comfortable with this friend group and may need to branch out?

          1. matcha123*

            Logically, I completely understand and agree.
            It’s less a friend “group” and more of a number of women I know one-on-one. Some of whom live in my area. I’ve tried to have them together and see if maybe they felt comfortable with each other and that would allow us to consider travel or eating out as a group. But they are under no obligation to like each other, and they aren’t all that interested in doing group things, which is a issue for me that I can’t force on them.

            1. mreasy*

              Hi! This sounds stressful, but I have to admit I’m side-eyeing your wealthy friends. I don’t have impulse trip to Finland money, but I have friends who make a lot less than I do. If I invite a friend to travel who can’t afford it and I want them to go I just…pay their way. Finland friend should choose a trip that costs $2000 pp and pay your way. If the friend is too shy or timid to travel alone, but won’t offer to cover you, there is zero obligation on you to feel bad or to blow your savings to go, and I hate that they are making their disappointment visible. I wouldn’t feel great about a friend who didn’t make this offer. That said, grace goes both ways, and if they offer to pay, please accept – they want you to be there and that’s what money is for.

        2. Chicago Anon*

          Not wanting to travel alone is a them thing, not a you thing.

          Awhile back, there was a movie called Friends With Money. After I saw it, I realized that I both had friends with money, and to other people I was the friend with money. Thinking about how different friends with money treated me helped me to be a better friend to the ones who had less than I did, and it was also helpful to see this kind of situation as a continuum. Any chance you have or could make friends who have less than you (maybe younger people) and be a tactful but generous presence in their lives? Or you can be generous with expertise. It might help you think differently about the friends you wrote in about.

        3. anon_sighing*

          > So in various instances, me not going on a trip means the other person will not go on a trip because they don’t want to go alone.

          Woah. This is NOT your problem, are you kidding?? This is leaning to codependency and I don’t want to be mean, but if they’re only asking you because you’re the only option then, too bad, so sad. I also really hate solo traveling – I get bored and time passes faster and funner with a friend but I also get traveling is expensive and it’s exhausting…and the other person may not even wanna go to where I wanna go. It’s a huge ask of someone. I offer to pay for a meal or even their ticket (for a weekend trip a nearby large city) to show them I appreciate them going on a trip for my sake.

          I am gonna go back to my original comment: your friends are not being super great friends.

        4. PotatoRock*

          I totally get the instinct but I would separate “friend sounds disappointed I’m not going to see the Northern Lights with her” from “friend thinks I’m a bad friend because I can’t go see the Northern Lights”. Being a little disappointed you can’t go see the Northern Lights is more a sign that you’re a good friend! This would have been a really fun adventure and your friend wanted to share it with you! Maybe someday if you both win the lottery :). If she’s any kind of a decent friend, I wouldn’t read it as disappointed “in you”, just as the kind of natural sorrow that goes along with the absence of any good thing

        5. fhqwhgads*

          If you were my friend and it were that important to me to go with you and not without you, and you actually wanted to a budget were the only thing blocking, I’d probably just insist on paying for the whole thing.
          Different people have different budgets and friends who don’t respect their friends’ budgets are being bad friends. You’re not being a bad friend for not having the budget.

        6. Still*

          You are no more of a bad friend for not being able to afford the trip than those other friends are for being busy with their kids.

        7. HannahS*

          There’s a really important difference between them
          a) feeling sad that you can’t come do fun things, because they like you and
          b) resenting you for having less money.

          I wonder if A is coming from them and you’re subbing in B on your own? Either that, or your friends are jerks? I can’t imagine resenting someone for having less money. When I hang out with my friends who have less, we do things that they can afford. When I want to see my friends who have more, I invite them to things that I can afford.

        8. goddessoftransitory*

          I mean, I get that, but it’s certainly not your job to be available for Finland. And if you DID have one of those high earning positions, trying to organize the mutual time off would probably mean that jaunt took place about 2060.

          I know what you mean, though. I have a very low-ranking job; thanks to being a DINK couple with no car, we live quite well even in our high cost of living area. But said job is at weird hours, and I work weekends, so it’s nigh-impossible to get together with anybody–takes months on end to try to organize the same time off just to have brunch with a couple who were pregnant the last time we saw them and the kid’s nearly a year old now…

        9. Awkwardness*

          but I’m one of the only, of not THE only female friend they could ask to join them
          we are all childfree/childless people
          I know it’s really hard to find agreeable women who are around my age who also are single and don’t have or want kids

          I hope I do not sound too harsh, but do you all have anything in common except being childless and single?
          If this is the only common denominator, then I would think long and hard if these are “friends” and if maybe I was trying a lot more to preserve the relationship then they do.

          Do not get me wrong, I had this type of acquaintence too. It’s easier than doing everything everytime alone. But those meetings were about not doing things alone, not about doing things with me. And that’s okay! But you should be aware of it and adjust your feelings accordingly. I would not feel responsible the way you described it.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Are your friends actually pressuring you or making you feel guilty, or are you extrapolating? My friends are from all different backgrounds, and “sorry, that’s not in my budget” is something we all say and/or hear pretty frequently. I don’t think anyone is angry or hating on folks who say that.

      And no one thinks that means you literally don’t have the cash, it just means you can’t/don’t choose to spend it that way. I’d give a bit of thought to whether your friends actually are annoyed that you can’t fly your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun, because if they are, they’re sort of crap friends.

      1. matcha123*

        There have been instances of: being sent a budget for saving for Finland; asking about my personal spending habits; comments about how I just need to loosen up and that I’ve probably saved enough, and so on from various people.

        I have explained that I have a budget, and to some people I will go into detail about my series of low-paid jobs. But even the people I’ve given explanations to tend to forget and make comments that lead me to believe they think I’m either extremely cheap or I simply do not want to meet them.

        I should add that I am single and childfree and most of these people are either single and childfree/childless or partnered without children. I know it’s really hard to find agreeable women who are around my age who also are single and don’t have or want kids, and I also know that for travel or eating at fancy places, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to invite friends who are married or have kids. I get the disappointment. I’m disappointed in myself for not having higher paid jobs, but I am living debt-free, albeit with not a lot in savings.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          Those are all examples of your friends being a bad friend to you, not vice versa. Your friends may have good intentions, but their actions are saying my wants (because a vacation will always be a want) take preference over your wants/needs. Your friends are not respecting your autonomy, which isn’t about money, it’s about lack of boundaries. Even if you had excess funds, choosing to spend your money on something that is more aligned with your own preferences is 100% OK.

          I’ve been the friend/family member with more money and I either choose activities that are in the other person’s budget or paid for them to travel with me bc the value of their companionship was worth it to me and they shouldn’t have to suffer financially because I want a travel buddy. Obviously I’m not saying your friends need to offer to pay for you, but they do need to respect your no.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Yeah wow, I’m also single and sometimes travel with friends and sometimes can’t, and these comments are really rude – I would not hesitate to set a firmer boundary with someone who said something like that to me! If you do really like them, I’d say, “I can’t do that, but I’d be willing to save a bit and (do something cheaper, like an overnight in a nearby town, if you want to). It’s true that “I don’t choose to spend my money this way” is in some ways a matter of priorities, but they should respect your priorities!

        3. Not A Manager*

          Okay, yipes. I’m sure you’ve had enough “your friends are a-holes” comments so I won’t add to them. I suggest taking a look at Captain Awkward for “boundaries” and similar tags. It’s possible that you are over-explaining and giving your quote-unquote friends (sorry, I couldn’t help it) ammunition to argue back at you. Obviously explanations aren’t working, so maybe just cut to the chase? “Sorry, I can’t join you on your gold-plated trip to Finland, how about if you plan a trip to my area and we can sightsee?” “No, I don’t need a budget for Finland, I already have a budget.” “My spending habits are personal, thanks for understanding.” “Sorry, still can’t join you at Biarritz, sounds like a blast though.”

          I think if you just say “no” often enough and blandly enough, you can at least cut down on the intrusive comments and suggestions. Also, if you have the budget and feel like spending time with these folks, you could suggest your own affordable getaway on your own timetable. At least that indicates that you do, in fact, want to hang out with them.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Or I guess, if you actually really truly do want to go and they truly want a companion, and you don’t think they’re jerks, you could *try* “my budget for something like that would only be X dollars. I am willing to be your companion for the trip, but I’m afraid you’d need to pick up my flights and hotel rooms. I understand if that’s not something you can do.” I have actually had wealthy friends happily offer to cover me on some stuff, and when I’m the monied friend I’ve been truly happy to cover at least a nice meal out because I wanted to go out with that person at that place. However, I admit skeptical this person would have good boundaries around it.

        4. office hobbit*

          waow those comments are out of line. I would never dream of telling someone how to budget for a trip I wanted them to go on, or telling them to stop saving money. The sole exception would be if we were having an open and frank conversation about finances and they directly and specifically asked me for my thoughts, and I would still only phrase it as possible suggestions and if/then statements for them to consider and make their own decision.

        5. goddessoftransitory*

          Okay, wow; all of that is some serious “you need to back off now” from me, personally. If this was something you all had planned to do for a long time, I could maybe see the first one IF you had indicated you really wanted to go.

          But this sounds much more like a person who has just decided that it’s your job to be her travelling companion at your own expense (ironically, I would bet she thinks that it’s “much easier” for you to arrange to travel because your work is “less important.”) Not cool.

    3. WellRed*

      I think this is at somewhat in your head. Bring a crappy friend means never being there for them or making it all about you. I’m probably going to have to work long after my friends retire. I don’t feel guilty, why would I? If they are making you feel guilty, that’s a whole separate issue.

      1. WellRed*

        I do want to add, if you literally never agree to coffee or lunch or a movie, that’s something you should probably try to change.

        1. matcha123*

          I only turn down those when I am already booked/tired/or some other non-financial reason. And almost always offer an alternative date when we could meet.

          A coffee or dinner with one person twice a month isn’t going to break my budget. But it’s more like lunch or dinner with a number of different people, multiple times a week, along with a few of them also wanting to go to concerts or travel.
          I’ve tried setting up dinners or a cafe time where a few of us could meet together, but if one is open to meeting a new person, another isn’t and yeah, it’s not my place to tell people who to meet. But trying to juggle multiple women who somehow want me to only ever be free to meet them is getting me a bit worn out and stressing my wallet.

          I can’t save for travel and also eat out with people whenever they are bored. And I also don’t appreciate when they drop the occasional comments about how they chose a place with my budget in mind as if I was being a big cheapskate or wasting money on frivolous things.

          1. WestsideStory*

            One thing you might consider is whether your are making too big a deal about your budget and frugal ways. I have a friend who does this – she is always going on about how tight things are and isn’t she so clever to bring her lunch every day/buy her clothes secondhand/get her furniture from the buy nothing group etc – it’s very tiring to listen to, it sounds a bit like boasting – especially as I have in past been in financially tight situations and kept it to myself.
            If that’s not the case, why are some of these friends implying you are cheap?
            A reasonable reply to a suggestion to join a friend for an expensive trip or dinner out is, “no thanks, I don’t want to” without further explanation.
            It sounds like some of your friendships with these other women are aspirational; do you really like them? Maybe prune the list to those you really like?

          2. office hobbit*

            This is just something for you to consider, but your descriptions and tone when talking about outings with these friends remind me of myself several years ago, when I was trying very hard to be agreeable and friendly with several people who weren’t really a good match for me. Eventually I realized I did not actually enjoy a lot of the outings we went on, a lot of the time these friends were just talking at me and took little interest in what I said or wanted to do or had going on in my life, and I was spending a lot of time and energy to maintaining those connections…and for what? They routinely disappointed me but I felt I could never disappoint them. I don’t know if this is the case for you, but it might be worth thinking over. The way you describe trying to entice people into group gatherings sounds like you’re trying hard to solve a problem, that nobody else agrees is a problem, in a way that keeps everyone happy, but everyone (except you) is already happy. Maybe for the people who don’t care enough to compromise to help you, it’s time to pare back or let them go?

            1. anon_sighing*

              BIG hugs because I think so many people have been here and it’s so much clearer in retrospect than it is in the moment.

            2. matcha123*

              It’s definitely this. I started asking myself about relationships, especially when it seemed like a specific type was more attracted to my energy. I’ve been trying to be less accommodating with my time and energy. They are open to compromise in that they will offer lower cost options, but they seem to think that going to a cheaper cafe will translate into me suddenly having spare cash for other, bigger activities.
              I can recognize that we are definitely a mismatch in many ways and thank you for sharing your experience!

              1. office hobbit*

                Good luck to you! I know what you mean about a certain type being attracted to your energy. I can’t offer any advice on how to find more thoughtful and compatible friends, but you sound very hardworking and thoughtful and I think if you put even a fraction of the effort you’re currently spending to accommodate your wealthy friends into finding new ones, you will succeed!

          3. wish me all the luck*

            But it’s more like lunch or dinner with a number of different people, multiple times a week

            For this specific thing, potluck dinners/picnics is the answer — *if* they really want to spend time with you. You can also throw potluck dinner/games/netflix nights, invite multiple people and see who shows up.

            Do you enjoy spending time with all these people? Are you feeling seen/heard as a person? Are they a true friend to you? Or are you just a companion?

          4. goddessoftransitory*

            Another thing to keep in mind: these women may also be funding this YOLO lifestyle with credit cards. You saving your money and staying debt free is a MUCH better long term plan than owing 18% on ten different Visas, no matter who makes more per paycheck.

            These people seem to treat you like a placeholder, not a person, and it’s irritating me just reading about them! They really can’t hang out with you and X and Y for coffee once in a while? Why do you owe them your time, attention and money if they never reciprocate?

    4. GoryDetails*

      I was in that position after a layoff left me out of work for some time, but while I was irked about that, I never felt judged by my friends. Sometimes they’d offer to buy me dinner or theater tickets or whatever, and sometimes I’d invite them to my house for a homemade meal or a D&D game – low-cost things that we all enjoyed. [If you don’t have the time or inclination to host that kind of thing, that might not be a helpful suggestion, but if you can suggest some free or low-cost gatherings – picnic in the park, visit to a museum, etc. – it might help you feel less unhappy about having to turn down those high-cost expeditions.]

    5. Workerbee*

      I was struck by your statement here: “ I don’t have the personality type (highly extroverted and aggressive) that tends to do well for going after higher income jobs.” I just wanted to say, I don’t have that personality type and it has not stood in my way. And maybe you believing that it does has shaded into your personal perspective with friends. I’m not trying to discount your lived experience, and maybe these friends aren’t aligned with where you currently are.

      I was just thinking that maybe that’s an additional burden / misconception you’ve laid on yourself that you don’t need.

      1. matcha123*

        That’s certainly something I may need to explore more and that’s kind of been dancing around the edge of my mind. I live in a large city that attracts people who are trying to pursue passions and make it big. I am not like that, and have a mix of people who prefer one-to-one meetings and a few who are more social. It’s the one-to-one types who tend to be more, hmm… possessive? of my time and money and have been resistant to meeting with the other people I know.
        Personally, if even two others came and were open to doing lunches together it would help my budgeting and planning a lot, but that’s not a request that I can make.

        As I’m writing here, I can see that I’m having issues balancing my need to re-charge and take care of tasks to improve my personal and work life, and meeting the needs of friends who are already mostly set with their worklife and savings.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Keep in mind, sometimes when people are a bit creepy/pushy/have poor boundary skills, they end up with few people who want them in their lives, and it can make them even more possessive of the few people willing to put up with them. I’m not trying to blame lonely people, but … sometimes there’s reasons they’re lonely. It’s not your job to solve that for them.

        2. allathian*

          Sounds like you need new friends. You could tell your most possessive friends that they can either see you less often or agree to meeting in a small group rather than 1:1.

        3. anon_sighing*

          Data science and other programming-based jobs are notorious for being higher paid and you don’t need to be an extrovert. If that’s remotely up your alley.

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          It is, 100%, a request you can make.

          You obviously can’t demand it, and they can say it’s not something they can do; but that doesn’t mean you owe them endless one on one meals and coffees. Your budget and planning are every single bit as important as their schedules and desires. EVERY SINGLE BIT.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I don’t think one has to be extroverted to get a high income job. Some may be more appealing to extroverts than introverts, but I think a lot would appeal to introverts, as they often involve a lot of individual work, research alone, etc.

        And even jobs that are stereotypically “extrovert” have introverts who can succeed in them. And vice versa. I think politics would be considered a job for extroverts, yet looking at the taoisigh of Ireland (equivalent of prime ministers) a lot of them are definited introvert types – de Valera, W.T. Cosgrave, Garret Fitzgerald, even our current taoiseach, Simon Harris. We’ve had extroverted types too, but it’s not like it’s been only extroverts who have succeeded at the top of Irish politics. De Valera apparently once half-joked that being jailed in the War of Independence and Civil War gave him some peace to read (he also apparently worried the jailors by doing Maths problems; they thought he was writing in code). I don’t think you get much more introverted than that.

        That’s not to say that a high income job is necessarily right for matcha123*. There are all kinds of reasons why they may either prefer to prioritise work-life balance over income or why they may be unable/unlikely to get a high income job, the latter being largely luck related, but I don’t think it’s about introversion versus extroversion.

        Or necessarily about aggression. Again, there are well-paid jobs that require one to be pushy, things like politics and sales, but those aren’t the only jobs that pay well.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Agreed. I’m currently in the highest paid job I’ve ever had, and everyone on my team including the manager are either introverts or mild mannered nerds. All the highly paid tax attorneys I’ve ever known are quiet (though not necessarily shy about meeting people).

        It certainly takes some confidence and self efficacy to pursue higher paid work, but highly extroverted and aggressive, no. And after all, if you’re constantly having to look for new side gigs, it’s the same set of people skills as interviewing for a better job.

      4. Stephanie*

        Yeah, engineer here. Trust me, there are plenty of highly paid engineers that are more introverted.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Engineering, programming, accounting tend to attract introverts and tend to be well-paid.

    6. My Brain is Exploding*

      From the reverse side – I have a friend who has a much lower income than I do. We (spouse and I) don’t ask her to do things like take a big trip with us; when we get together for longer periods of time we base the budget off what she can afford and then I might chip in some. We do house projects at her house. So much fun to do together and saves her money. I LOVE HER SO MUCH and in no way feel that her financial position makes her a worse friend!

    7. The Not-Rich Friend*

      YES! I have friends who are huge professional successes – partners in major law firms, NY Times bestsellers, CFO of F50 company.

      I am not. I have never achieved any kind of professional success. My jobs have paid my bills and helped me save some, but that’s about it.

      And my income and willingness to spend has affected some of these friendships. One couple for years had talked about renting a house in Provence and having us and other friends visit them.

      COVID delayed the trip and when they finally took it, we were not invited. But their rich friends were. They took expensive tours and classes, which, to be fair, I would not have wanted to spend the money on, but after years of hearing how we were all going to spend time at this villa and cook together and walk into town for coffee and hang out, it hurt.

      I don’t see this particular situation changing. My solution is to focus on nurturing the friendships with the people who share my values (that we don’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun). But I had been friends with this couple for a very long time and it’s a huge loss that I grieve.

      (And I would like to re-word your question “…your lower income makes you a worse friend?” I feel like it’s the friend who has gotten rich and doesn’t want to do things with you that you can comfortably afford who has become the worse friend.)

      1. matcha123*

        Wow, that non-invite sounds so mean! Especially since you’d all been talking and looking forward to it.
        I’ve been in situations where I’ve needed to sit out activities that weren’t in my budget and I’ve found that the other people found it extremely off-putting. I suppose they wanted an experience where money was no object and didn’t want to think that someone in their group wasn’t enjoying it in the same way.

        I will try to keep your last paragraph in mind. With the people I have in mind, there’s definitely this sentiment that if only I’d been better at saving, the cost of a flight to Europe or a fancy experience wouldn’t be anything to stress over.

        1. The Not-Rich Friend*

          Yeah, from when they started talking about it years ago to now, their income has increased a lot. Not their own plane rich but new car every year, second house, and eat out all the time rich. And ours has dropped because we have decided to retire and live within our means, which works because we have very modest desires (and, thank goodness, excellent ACA options, which friends in Texas who want to retire do not have so they are still working).

          When they first started talking about the trip, our visits together were at each other’s houses, where we would hang out and cook and hike and do very inexpensive tourist things together.

          But now that they have a lot of money, they want to do expensive things. We could have afforded a flight to Europe, but all the other things that they ended up doing instead of the original plan were expensive. They looked like fun! But I would have been sick to my stomach to pay $200 a person for a three-hour cooking class or for a fancy meal.

          So yeah – my focus now is on the friends I can be my authentic, thrifty self with and not be made to feel I am a spoilsport.

    8. Sloanicota*

      I think this is something that’s more noticeable when you’re younger and people like to do things like travel together or have a lot of social time at restaurants. In college everyone I knew was broke so it didn’t matter, but in my late 20s a set of friends broke out financially and started planning group getaways in Ibiza or whatever that I could never go on. Anytime I did join them for, like, a weekend in Chicago or a wedding I had fun but it was also really noticeable that I was A Poor – just the hotels they picked, restaurants they wanted to eat at, ordering bottle service at bars, thinking nothing of it while I’d be groaning and frantically trying to add up the night’s cost. They went on to have kids so it’s not like they plan friend vacations any more. I see them when I’m in their town and we go out to dinner once, it’s not the same thing at all. I do prefer to make friends in my own income bracket, although I’m still generally the poorest one if only because I’m single. Sometimes I accept their generosity of treating me. Sometimes I suggest things in my budget and they enthusiastically agree and we have a great time. Sometimes I let myself splurge a little.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Sorry then I went back and read your other comments and realized you’re not in this exact situation. I actually think it sounds like your friends are being jerks! Maybe they need to reflect why they don’t seem to have more close acquaintances if they can’t take a decline gracefully. People can join travel clubs, there are meetups for travel, they can sack up and go alone – they don’t need to pin it on you to make their dreams come true.

      2. Is it Friday yet?*

        Wow – that sounds very much like what I went through! Now that I’m doing somewhat better financially, everybody has kids so the stress of spending on trips/ going out has luckily calmed down. Being “a poor” is never a good feeling. Plus I really found there’s a difference between that and living on a budget/ within my means.

    9. Manders*

      One of the best sayings I’ve learned as an adult is “sorry, that’s not in my budget this month/year”. I just say it matter-of-factly and if they have a problem with me not wanting to go to an expensive restaurant or travel to some place, then that’s their problem, not mine. I guess my friends aren’t jerks because they don’t seem to have an issue with it :)

    10. Is it Friday yet?*

      Your post really resonates with me as I was the charity-case friend in my friend group for a long time and am now dating someone who makes significantly more than me. We were all really close right out of college and those years right after, and I just never progressed enough career-wise to make more at the time. They would pay for me, but in a way that made me feel really terrible.

      For example, we went on a trip once and I couldn’t afford a flight so I took the overnight train. I don’t like lying, but I was vague about my travel, and when it came out that I took the train, they wouldn’t let me pay for dinner, even though I had saved specifically for this trip. It was conveyed as – you’re not paying because you’re poor – in a tone that made me feel like dirt. In this case, I wasn’t poor, just living in my means!

      On the flip side, I went back to school after a decade in the workforce and made a new group of friends all about ~10 years younger than me. We’re all similar in income and have grown together in the years after school, sharing about savings, investments, roths, etc. It feels really good to be friends with people who get it and don’t pressure you into spending more than you want. When I started dating my now boyfriend and we hadn’t yet gotten into talking about money, they brought up how much things cost and whether or not they were (relatively) expensive to us. I didn’t find out about this till later, but this is what supportive friendship is like.

      Just to go back to your example – you could save and spend $4k+ to go to Finland with your friend, but it’s not your fault she has nobody to go with, and wouldn’t you rather save/spend that money to go on YOUR dream trip?

      1. matcha123*

        Yes, this. Your comment reminded me of a time when I went on a cheap trip with a former friend who found a good deal. She said something like, “This one is cheap, so you should be fine with this.” It involved long travel by train, and she also made comments that made me feel like she was making a sacrifice for me. I was paying off student loans and her parents had paid her tuition, so despite making the same on paper, our monthly expenses were very different.
        Unfortunately, my salary went down after that job and took 6 years for me to get back to that salary and now I am earning more, but only within the last 4 years or so.

        I feel guilty for not being able to join friends on travel or for not being able to travel to visit them. Some understanding friends have been kind, it’s just those ones are scattered around the world. If they lived close, I’d have them over for meals and movie nights.

        Your last paragraph is true. I did travel with her before to a closer location and it was incredibly stressful. (Complaints about everything) I don’t think I’d be able to enjoy a week-long trip and would rather use that money elsewhere.

    11. Stephanie*

      I don’t think you’re being a bad friend at all. Your high-earning friends should either offer to subsidize if it’s that important to take the trip or eat out or be open to meeting you at your budget.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Exactly. I have been both the subsidized and the subsidizer. Things change over a lifetime.

    12. SBQQ_Custom_Object__c*

      So it sounds like your friends need to get a life. But I totally do understand what you mean!
      I’m a single parent burning out trying to carve out a living, while almost all my friends are wealthy enough to do/own things I could never dream of. It absolutely sucks to feel left behind, it hurts to watch them cover for me so often (even though I am grateful), and I generally just feel like I don’t belong even when they assure me I do. It’s a weird juxtaposition, hanging out with them, but they do their best to help us.

      One thing to keep in mind is all that pressure is one-sided. At least in my case, I’m the only one thinking of the massive socioeconomic divide, while they just want to kick back (or, lately, teach my 2yo Latin). Rich or poor, we’re all just people. We’ll all die just the same, no matter how flashy the car or holey the shirt. Just have fun while it lasts!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I can’t speak for your friends, but I can say that when I had a good income and my friends did not, I was happy to buy their lunch or whatever because the important thing to me was to hang out with them. These days, there are a lot of things I want to do that my husband does not want to do – go to the opera, attend certain plays – so we get two tickets and I take a friend as my guest. I want my friend to experience the thing with me!

        And we don’t even have to do something that costs money. When my friend’s daughter was born and she was home a lot, I went to her house and helped her fold laundry. I’m sure you’re right that your friends do not care that they are covering you or hanging out at your house. The older I get, the more I realize how rare and precious good friends are and how important it is to keep those friends.

  22. Meryl*

    Any recommendations for what to do when you can’t really move from the bed/couch but doesn’t strain the eyes?

    I really need to get off my tablet… Is reading books less hard for the eyes than e-books?

    I would also love to learn something like embroidery or crocheting or knitting but am unsure about what to buy as I can’t really go to a shop to feel and see the materials. Do you know of any beginner kits/projects that I can buy online but which are still of a decent quality? (Not in the US but I do have access to Amazon.)

    1. TabletUsuallyBetter*

      Sorry, paper books are typically harder on the eyes than a tablet thst you can adjust font/size/lighting on (although, like everything else, your personal experience may be different).

    2. Freya's Cats*

      Assuming the problem is your eyes get tired. An e-reader with an e-ink screen is easier on the eyes than a regular tablet. I’m not good at the technical details, but something to do with the screen being completely still and not constantly refreshing or blasting light into your eyes. They are generally lighter in weight too. They still have the advantage of being able to adjust the size and line width.
      If you like watching movies or series, casting them to a bigger tv screen further away is also good for relaxing your eyes abit, as you focus further away. And if you are in range of a window with a view, make sure to stare in the distance every now and then to relax your eye muscles.

    3. Six Feldspar*

      I much prefer my e-ink reader for longer reads than my phone, it’s a bigger screen and the e-ink is closer to a paper book than text on a phone or computer screen.

      If you want to try knitting or crochet you can get cheap yarn to practise until you’re confident. I would look for a thick yarn and thick knitting needles/crochet hooks so you can see the stitches when you’re learning, then when you get the hang of it you can size down to regular needles/hooks and nicer yarn.

    4. AnonyOne*

      For knitting, I would start with a ball of worsted or aran weight wool yarn and 5 millimetre needles. I would probably buy what are called circular needles (they have a cord connecting the needles to each other) with a cord length of around 40cm.
      Unless you are allergic to wool or have other reasons not to use it (eg are vegan), buy a wool yarn. It is much nicer and easier to knit with than a lot of other materials. Do not start with something like cotton or linen for knitting- the fibres are less elastic and that makes it harder on your hands and uneven stitches are less likely to smooth themselves out.
      I learned to knit just by learning to cast on about 16 stitches and then to form knit stitches, then once I had that, I added purl stitches, then tried alternating them to make ribbing or seed stitch, etc. from there I moved on to projects.
      I would make something like a hat or cowl for a first project. A lot of people say to start with a scarf but scarves are really long and I think a smaller project is better.
      For yarn, you could buy a ball of Cascade 220 (make sure it is the Aran weight and not the fingering weight one).

      1. K*

        Not OP, but thank you for this! I want to get into knitting so badly but feel lost on where to start. Tried some YouTube tutorials and just felt like I was missing some insight.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting is also a handy resource, or was when I taught myself to knit from it almost 25 years ago :)

          1. AnonyOne*

            Me too! (Actually I think I used the Dummy’s Guide).
            I had learned as a child but forgotten and I found this book very easy to follow as an almost beginner

    5. Simaril*

      I sympathise – I once spent many months laid up on the bed/sofa after an injury, and it’s tricky to find things to do that aren’t too taxing when lying down.

      I completely agree that an e-ink reader (eg Kindle) causes less eye strain than a tablet. But if you don’t need big print etc, paper books are great – more restful on the eyes than any other reading option. If there’s someone who can go to the library for you, or if your local library does a delivery service, this is worth looking at (and if you do get an e-reader, lots of libraries now do ebooks via the app Libby, and project Gutenberg has loads of free ebooks that are out of copyright). The key thing with paper books is that they shouldn’t be too big, as it gives one arm strain holding up a weighty tome…

      Re crafts, knitting and crocheting are both good. I could already knit and embroider, and did a lot more of both while stuck in bed – and also taught myself to crochet. If you’re trying embroidery for the first time, I’d suggest cross stitch – it’s very easy to pick up. Choose a small kit project first so you don’t get discouraged. May I ask which part of the world you’re in? Could suggest a few specific options/brands for kits if you’re in the UK or NZ.

      Kumihimo – Japanese thread braiding – is fun, easy to get started with, and lightweight. I got my starter kit from Etsy UK, can find you a link if that’s a site you have access to.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        -reads your last paragraph, does a quick google-

        I don’t need another hobby, I don’t need another hobby, I don’t need another hobby…! xD

    6. A Girl Named Fred*

      I bought an embroidery kit from a site called Vikas Space that was super high quality and from outside the US! She’s actually getting ready to do another kit drop on May 1st, and all of her projects are satin stitch only. If you don’t want to go the kit route, I think she had recommendations on which things to buy elsewhere and so far all her recommendations have been on point, IMO (especially the “get a clip on reading light and clip it on your hoop to make it easier to see and easier on your eyes” tip).

    7. Llellayena*

      Most needlework or cross stitch kits on Amazon are good and come with everything you need without needing to know exactly what to get. If you like hand sewing, an English paper piecing quilting kit might work too (look for pillows, not bed quilts, to start). Look for a kit with precut pieces.

    8. Workerbee*

      I find physical books to be much easier on my eyes than any ereader/adjustable screen tint yet. My eyes don’t get as fatigued. I do use readers now, and read with sunlight at my back or a good light.

    9. tangerineRose*

      Audiobooks are great. I’m not sure if reading a tablet or a paper book is easier on the eyes if the tablet uses black as the background. If you can set the background to black with white or light gray background, that’s usually easier on the eyes, in my experience. On a laptop with white on the background, I find paper books easier.

      BlinkTears was recommended to me by an eye doctor for dry eyes, and it also seems to be good for this.

    10. Amey*

      I had a period of long Covid where I had to spend quite a bit of time in bed (actually lying down not sitting up) and rediscovered crochet. I’m a good knitter already and had done a bit of crochet many years ago so had some muscle memory for it. It was great because I found I could do it lying down which I definitely can’t do with knitting (or embroidery which I also do). I crocheted an entire rectangular shawl while listening to many hours of podcasts but audiobooks would have worked great too.

      As for materials, you just need a hook and some yarn and some YouTube videos! I’m in the UK – if you’re here, I recommend Wool Warehouse online for inexpensive good quality yarn. I’m using Drops Lima for a jumper at the moment which is inexpensive and a wool/alpaca blend.

  23. NoName*

    Things to do in Bergen, Norway? I’ll have a weekend by myself there. Planning to go up with the funicular (?) looking at gnomes. And doing a Fjordtour (haven’t booked it yet). Open to all suggestions!

    1. Two cents*

      I loved just walking around. There are a couple really good bakeries and shops, but they’re close enough to big streets that you’ll walk by them without directions. If memory serves, the aquarium was pretty cute, small but we’ll done. It had a traveling exhibit from my home country when I went, which was funny. There were some historic boats and storage houses to explore, too.

      I thoroughly enjoyed the furnicular. :)

      1. NoName*

        Important question because pastry is my passion: are they affordable? Will I be able to have multiple? :) I’m going on a work trip and trying not to bankrupt myself yet still eat a lot!!

        1. Brunost*

          The pastry situation in Norway isn’t all that exciting, it’s mainly yeast buns with or without some vanilla crème. $4-$5 US is normal.

        2. DistantAudacity*

          From Bergens Tidende (main Bergen newspaper): Finalists for best Bergen bakeries/cafes 2023!
          These will have own-baked goods, and are located in very quaint areas of Bergen.

          Cafe Ambrosia, Wergeland area
          Bod24, Sandviken area
          Kafé Solros, Marken area
          Hyssingen, Møllendalsveien
          Blondehuset kafé, Arboretet at Milde, outside Bergen

    2. ILikeBergen*

      Things my family and I have enjoyed doing in Bergen (as well as the Fløibanen funicular):

      – Eating (and having a beer) at a bar called Pingvinen.
      – Going up the cable car to Ulriken – the landscape at the top feels wilder than Fløyen.
      – The Kode art museums around the central park – the fixed exhibitions in Rasmus Meyer were fine, we loved a temporary exhibitions on children’s storybooks in one of the others.
      – Going to a lunchtime recital at Troldsalen as well as visiting the Grieg museum in his house at Troldhaugen (and having our own picnic on a rock by the water in his garden).

      I hope you enjoy Bergen :)

    3. nicolaagricola*

      We walked back down after going up in the funicular, it was scenic and not too strenuous (only do it if you have good knees though, otherwise it’ll probably be uncomfortable).

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I remember shelling and eating fresh prawns on a bench in front of the fish market.

    4. DistantAudacity*

      Will add: get lost in the small alleyways, and also in the old Unesco World Heritage Hanseatic buildings (the ones that give Bergen its distinctive look) – try to catch a guided tour!

  24. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Things to do and places to eat in Lanzarote? We’re going there for a week, staying in Puerto del Carmen and open to travelling pretty much anywhere on the island.

    Bonus question: if you hired a car on your visit, where was it from? I saw prices on the Discover Cars website that look way to good to be true.

    I’m trying to convince my partner that we’ll need a car (he doesn’t love the responsibility and cost, I always do all the driving). We had many nice holidays travelling by public transport only, but the time wasted waiting around for buses and planning to get the last bus back when it’s earlier than we’d like keeps getting to me.

    1. Anonosaurus*

      the public bus service on Lanzarote is pretty good at least between Costa Teguise-Arrecife-PdC-Puerto Calero- Playa Blanca. I have done it both with and without a car. if you want to visit the interior or the bodegas without going on a bus tour you will need a car but if you just want to explore the resorts you can do that by bus. getting from the airport to PDC is easy – the airport taxis are plentiful and legit.

  25. WoodswomanWrites*

    For the musicians out there…

    I’ve been playing the mountain dulcimer for decades and haven’t had real lessons since my beginner days. I’m excited that for the first time ever, I’m going to a week-long music camp specifically focused on my instrument. The instructors are outstanding professional performers. I signed up a while after registration opened and the manager explained the intermediate class was full with a waitlist, and there was room in beginner, advanced beginner, and advanced. I signed up for the advanced class.

    Truth be told, even though I think I belong there based on the descriptions, I’m nervous about being with a bunch of accomplished players because so much of what I’ve done has been by ear and exploration. If someone is playing or singing a tune, I can instinctively accompany them. But I can’t remember where to fret some of the chords if someone asks me to find a specific one by name. I can read tablature but I’m slow with it. I know almost nothing about music theory.

    I get self-conscious when others watch me do something I’m learning. I plan to practice in the weeks leading up to the workshop after not playing for a bit, and to work on memorizing the names of the chords I already play. Even though the workshop isn’t until July, this stuff is on my mind already. Any suggestions for helping me feel ready beforehand, and for keeping myself calm in a group setting even when I know everyone else is a learner, too?

    1. Little John*

      I’ll be going to a similar event focused on parallel but different musical/song stuff this summer, so I’m very happy this worked out for you, and I bet you’ll have a great time!

      I struggle with feeling self-conscious when I have to try a new skill with other people watching, so no advice there, just fellow feeling. I’m starting to move past this, just due to lots of repetition, I think/hope, but it’s A Journey. Your ideas for practice and preparation seem right on target.

      My advice to myself which might also be of interest to you: pick up what you can. You don’t have to learn everything in one lesson or one series of lessons, but any new idea you take on board is a net plus. And I think your skills are at exactly the right place to try a class like this: you have a lot of skills already but want to learn new ones, and many of your skills are self-taught and developed without other people’s input, so you can also gain context from this class. There’s no reason you should know music theory — many brilliant traditional musicians down the ages have operated on vibes alone — but maybe this will give you a grounding in music theory that will help you learn new stuff or work more easily with other musicians. Or you can ignore it and just focus on the parts that interest you most! It’s your life.

      Something that therapy taught me that I have been comforted by: every other student is likely to be so wrapped up in their own learning needs and insecurities that they won’t have a lot of time and attention to spare for having opinions about you and your journey.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, I’m the only one putting those expectations on myself. No one else will be doing that.

        I am very lucky that I grew up in a musical household and learned music the same way I learned to talk. You’re helping me recognize that I can come into the class confident with where I am now instead of worrying about what will happen.

        I appreciate the solidarity. The weight of the mental tape loop definitely feels lighter when I hear from someone else that you have a similar experience. I love your perspective to “pick up what you can.” That definitely takes weight off.

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Maybe do some YouTube or other online lessons beforehand, to brush up any weak spots?

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Good suggestion. That’s a lot of what I’m going to review in advance. The pandemic spawned these incredible online festivals called QuaranTUNE and I have lots of video recordings, tablature, and handouts from those. The instructors are oustanding. I’ve been so enthusiastic about the workshops over the years that there are so many it’s hard to revisit them all and strengthen my skills in the topics covered.

        The next one is at the end of May. I think this time I’ll focus on attending the concerts, and only sign up for workshops that will serve me for the in-person camp this summer.

        And if you like mountain dulcimer and/or hammer dulcimer, you can look up QuaranTUNE and get a ticket for $25 that includes 5 concerts totaling over 12 hours of live music from the instructors who play those instruments as well as others, sing, etc. Super fun.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      You are probably a better player than you are giving yourself credit for. My son is a mostly self taught musician. He shocked everyone including himself by auditioning for and being accepted to a performing arts college. He says that the best musicians aren’t always the ones with the most training, but it’s easy to pick them out because you can literally hear the joy in their music.
      Mountain dulcimer is also one of several instruments my son taught himself to play. My parents bought one from a craftsman because they liked the woodwork and thought it was beautiful. They had no idea that someday they would have a grandchild who would learn to play it…also because he thought it looked beautiful!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Last year I bought an extraordinary dulcimer specially made for me, and it is a definitely a work of art in addition to having a beautiful sound: https://woodswomanwrites.com/2023/05/10/heart-strings/

        Thanks for your encouragement. I know I’m a strong musician or I wouldn’t have signed up for the workshop. I think my anxiety is about not coming from a background of training and feeling lost, and then being embarrassed.

        It’s good to be reminded that much of music across history has been taught informally person to person. From what I’ve read, the invention of recordings had a massive influence on culture. People started comparing themselves to what they heard and started judging their own playing more.

        It’s good to be reminded that no one is going to be paying attention to my playing except the teachers and me. And I already know the work of the teachers, who are kind people.

    4. Don’t make me come over there*

      I’ve been involved in traditional Irish dance for a while and it seems that most of the musicians learn by ear – I think that’s quite common in folk music!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yep. And that’s explaining the discomfort that’s come up for me. Formal instruction? What’s that? :)

    5. Samwise*

      Plenty of accomplished musicians have not had formal training. Please don’t worry about it!

      I have a dulcimer but have not played in years — you’ve inspired me to get back to it!

  26. Keymaster of Gozer (She/Her)*

    Book recommendations please! I just finished reading ‘The Gate to Women’s Country’ by Sherri S Tepper and would love to read more fantasy/sci fi of the similar feminist or women in leading roles being awesome variety.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Never Let Me Go. Not necessarily feminist, but the main character is female and so are a lot of the characters who have power in the story.

      The Butterfly Assassin.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Machine by Elizabeth Bear – which I was delighted to find was an homage to James White’s marvelous “Sector General” series about a galactic hospital staffed by humans and a huge variety of aliens. (Bear confirms this in the after-notes, as well as giving a nod to C. J. Cherryh, whose work impressed on Bear the sheer vastness of space.) I loved protagonist Dr. Jens – still regretting the rift with her wife and their daughter, and coping with her own chronic-pain syndrome that’s barely ameliorated by an AI-driven framework that she wears nearly all the time – preparing to investigate a newly-discovered generation ship that’s been missing for centuries, the Big Rock Candy Mountain. (The ships all have… interesting… names.)

    3. Phryne*

      The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow (and other books by her)
      Spinning Silver and Uprooted by Naomi Novik. And also her Scolomance series.
      Books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I’ve read God’s of Jade and Shadow, Mexican Gothic and The Daughter of Dr Moreau and all had strong female lead, so I assume het other books have as well.
      The Dun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz (which I found a bit bleak for my taste but which has excellent world building)
      Godkiller by Hannah Kaner
      The folk of the air series by Holly Black
      (Feminist fantasy is kind of my thing, can you tell?)
      The broken earth series by N. K. Jemisin
      A Master of Jinn by P Djeli Clark (I can recommend reading the short novels The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and A Dead Jinn in Cairo first, to get into the world)

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      From the rage side of feminism, Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. Young women with sufficient chi potential are paired to the pilots of giant robots that fight the monsters outside their city. Usually they die, and then another concubine pilot is subbed in.

      Sometimes you want a character who says “My family killed my sister this way, is willing to kill me, and I plan to burn it all down.”

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Anything by Ursula K Le Guin; check out her short stories to start, but both her Earthsea and Hainish cycle book series are great too!

      Also, The Lathe of Heaven. It’s a terrific novel and set in Portland, Oregon.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I read The Lathe of Heaven roughly 45 years ago and still think about it every so often. Love all of her fiction, and recently discovered that she wrote books of poetry and one on the Tao Te Ching so I’ve started on those. I got to hear her read once upon a time and she kindly autographed the used paperback of one of her short story collections I brought with me (it was what I could afford at the time).

      2. Once too Often*

        LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness explores gender roles & social questions in an engrossing story.

    6. Anonymous cat*

      Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. Not only a fantasy with female protagonist but a middle-aged one!

      This is second in the series but you really don’t need to read the first one. It can stand alone.

      But if you’re interested, the first book’s main protagonist is a man who is tutor to a princess who becomes the heir. And it’s fascinating to watch her grow and watch him figure out how to guide her. (Title is Curse of Chalion.)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls are excellent books centered on middle-aged protagonists.

        I love Iselle (the princess in question) and her journey. The scene where she lays into the tutor because people won’t tell her what’s going on (because of her delicate maiden sensibilities) and then those same people criticize her for not making choices based on full information–that has lingered for years. Iselle plays herself from pawn to queen over the course of the book and it’s breathtaking to watch.

        (For me there’s a sharp break in Bujold at this point, where every future ingenue just sets my teeth on edge. “Stop scampering!” I snap. “You’re not a squirrel.”)

      2. ronda*

        Bujold also has :

        Shards of Honor
        main character is a middle aged women in space, then in barrayar (a feudal type society). Sci Fi rather than fantasy. there are lots more books in the series (vorkosigan saga), but her son is typically the main character. except gentleman jole and the red queen

        and her other fantasy series, The Sharing Knife. 1st book is beguilement. it is a settlers/ Indian type society with a romantic couple as the lead characters. It was mostly from the woman’s point of view.

    7. carcinization*

      Tepper was decently prolific; another good one by her is Grass but there are a bunch more.

      Other authors… I recently read Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds and that was great. Le Guin obviously has some great ones too but I especially loved The Telling and don’t hear a lot about that one these days. Finally, I read and enjoyed a book called Black Wine, by Dorsey, a couple of decades ago and it’s always described as feminist.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Tepper wrote quite good mysteries as A.J. Orde and B.J. Oliphant. Probably have to find them at a library or used this far out.

        1. carcinization*

          I’m aware but always nice to point out for others! The first thing I read by her was a short story called “The Gazebo,” back in 1990!

    8. A Girl Named Fred*

      I finished “This Is How You Lose The Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone a little bit ago, and I’m not sure whether it fits your criteria exactly but both the main characters are kickass women. I don’t know how to pitch it without spoiling it… Rival agents in a war across time and space begin a correspondence that leads to a bond that leads to who knows what – there’s still a war going on, after all. But one of the author reviews on the jacket said “sapphic” and I was like yoink, and it did not disappoint. :)

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        I have a good friend who is a girl named Fred:) who was a college sorority sister of mine. She became Fred because of another girl named Fred.

        For books: I just read Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead, which was absolutely amazing. It does not meet your sci-fi/women led criteria but it is a real masterpiece. I had forgotten how really beautiful her books are. The Poisonwood Bible is another of hers that I fell in love with 20+ years ago. That book has 4 female protagonists and tells the story alternately from each of their viewpoints.

        If you like sort of easy brain candy kind of reading, the Maeve Kerrigan books by Jane Casey are a fun read.

  27. 653-CXK*

    Grendel and Teddy look slightly shocked to have their pictures taken. Very nice cats, though!

  28. Teapot Translator*

    Inspired by my trip next week : what travel accessory do you think is really worth it?
    For me, ordinary packing cubes. I’m a messy packer and they help me keep my suitcase organized.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      A thin zipping black cardigan from REI. Small and light enough to slip in a daypack. Right on that line where it looks fine with a nice dress for dinner and also with jeans for hiking.

      1. Recs?*

        @FallingDipthong, Do you happen to have a link? I’m looking for exactly this type of top—black casual cardigan/jacket I can wear to work as business casual but also can wear on walks to exercise; but my last two attempts from online shopping haven’t worked out, and everything I see in stores is too sporty or formal.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Sorry, the tag says REI and it was purchased many years ago.

          At home I tend to wear heavier weight sweaters for coziness, so this has lasted me a long time getting most of its wear when I travel.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      This was brought up by the earlier week’s discussion about washers and dryers.
      I grew up handing clothes up to dry, dryers were not a thing that existed, and hanging up clothes to dry was my chore since I was a kid. We lived in an apartment in a cold climate, so clothes dried on the line in the larger bedroom.
      American style tumble dryers were a revelation to me. I love them. I will never go without one as long as I am able, I do not care about any reasoning why not. Couple years ago mine broke, took 6 weeks to fix it, and drying clothes on the line was terrible. Especially sheets and towels.
      Is there any modern convenience you will not abandon for any reason?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Our new electric stove–the kind with the inset burners, not coils. And the fridge. Refrigeration is THE game changer.

      2. Raia*

        Dishwasher, my folks were completely against having or using one and so I was a stubborn Gus about it for no logical reason, but it came with the house I bought a few years ago. How I lived without one is now in distant terrible memories!

      3. Clisby*

        Indoor plumbing. Both my mother and my husband had to live without for awhile and the idea holds no charm for me.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Portable charger for devices
      Melitta single serve pour over cone and paper filters
      Thin cashmere hoodie cardigan
      Nylon daypack from REI
      Small thermos
      Folding duffel that fits in my carryon
      Crushable travel sun hat
      Backpack specifically sized to fit under the airplane seat, has many pockets and compartments

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      A few years ago my SIL asked for a hanging toiletry bag for Christmas and after seeing it in use on a future visit I bought one too. It opens out into 4 compartments with clear fronts so you can see all your stuff, there are elastic bands to hold items in place, and it just makes it so easy to fit everything and not have to either fully unpack in the hotel or dig through a single bag every time you need something.

      Also, weirdly, a diaper bag? The one I got when my first kid was born was designed to look like a giant purse so it doesn’t immediately read as “baby gear” and I still use it as a carry on for flights and as a beach bag. It has several big pockets inside and out so it’s great for “kid travel” stuff like books, drawing supplies, snacks, etc and it’s “wipeable” material so it doesn’t get ruined by sitting in the sand.

    5. Anon this minute*

      A good around-the-neck passport/ticket/credit card holder with anti-theft design. If you get pickpocketed or robbed of your cash, you may still be able to get where you were going if the really important stuff is still on you.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Related to this: In the US, I recommend the passport card along with the passport. Because it’s a different size and shape, it’s easy to store somewhere else. If your passport is stolen, replacing it when you have the card is much faster and easier.

    6. Girasol*

      Replying from my hotel room on a big trip now. This: a Kindle fire with a bluetooth keyboard. Holds books and audiobooks, views websites nicely, offers email access, has games and movies. Best of all I can type my journal entries and save them offline to be moved to OneDrive and put on my home computer when I get back. It’s small and quite sturdy, though there’s a bit of a learning curve what with it being sort of windows, sort of Android, and sort of all its own thing. But it’s just what I wanted for a travel computer.

    7. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I need to be able to munch on something with protein to ward off airsickness. I pack in my carryon a thermos full of reusable ice cubes, cheese, and salami sticks. It keeps them cold all the way to the hotel, and the ice cubes re–freeze in the minifridge for the home trip.

    8. Professor Plum*

      A Smartish Wallet Case with Crossbody Lanyard Strap from Amazon. It’s so convenient to have my phone hanging crossbody and I put my credit card and ID into the wallet part. Easy access when I need it. And my fill purse can stay in my carryon.

    9. Stephanie*

      Packing cubes — helps compress clothes
      Protein bar — good if you get peckish on a flight or too much turbulence for flight attendants to do service
      A water bottle that you don’t care if you lose it — I’ve used a Camelbak Podium bike bottle that’s like $12. Good for helping me avoid pricey bottles of water and keeping me hydrating but the bottle is cheap enough that if I lose it or forget it, it’s not a huge loss

    10. All Monkeys are French*

      Packing cubes have been a game changer for me, too.
      Another big one for me is my Brita water bottle. It has a carbon filter in it so I can refill it with any old tap water and it will taste fine.

    11. Six Feldspar*

      Some of my faves have already been mentioned, but also:
      – a long charging cord
      – a scarf that you can fold into a pillow shape
      – earplugs and eyemasks (maybe they won’t help you sleep but they can help you zone out at least)
      – some kind of very simple game on your phone, ideally that you can play without internet access, to make all the waiting go faster (infinity loop was a lifesaver for me when I was jetlagged and waiting in lines at the airport)

      I also always, always travel with crystallised ginger – it works on nausea and sinus issues, doesn’t spoil or leak, lasts almost forever, and is a tasty snack or breath freshener.

    12. Packer*

      Keep in your under seat personal item for lost luggage if you’re checking luggage or even for carry on luggage if they make you gate check it.
      Extra change of clothes
      Necessary toiletries
      Power bank
      A pen
      Extra cash
      Extra Credit card & debit card (keep separate from your regular cards)
      I also like to have lip balm handy

  29. RMNPgirl*

    Hope everyone in the Central US is doing okay after the storms and tornados yesterday! I’m in the Des Moines area and it was the closest call I’ve had since moving to Iowa 10 years ago. Tornados have always freaked me out so it was not great seeing a tornado on radar pass just south of my area.

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      Similar area to you (-waves from the DSM metro area-) and we’re thankfully fine! Our only fully interior room is the guest bathroom though and my dog hates it in there because that’s where she gets her baths, but she was very brave (and confused as to why I kept stopping her from getting in the tub lol.)

      I was touched that a few different friends/family reached out to check on me when the warning started. Wasn’t expecting it, but it made me feel very loved! I’m glad you’re safe, too!

    2. RussianInTexas*

      We don’t get tornadoes often unless on the edges of a tropical storm (south of the main Tornado Alley), but they do occasionally pop up with spring (and sometimes winter, there was EF3 in the January of 2023) fronts.
      About 3 weeks ago a coworker woke up to a business plaza half a mile away from his house destroyed by a tornado that sprung up from the overnight storm. No warning at all! Took NWS about a day to declare it was in fact a tornado, regular storm wind did not fling a taco truck into a storefront. EF-1, with the wind of 90mph.


      Hi from the Omaha area. Our part of the city is ok but the tornado in Elkhorn was not that far from our daughter’s house in West Omaha. And the next town over got golf-ball sized hail!

      1. California Dreamin'*

        My husband’s whole family is in West Omaha, and one of our nieces is actually in Elkhorn. Thankfully her house was missed, but it was waaay too close for comfort. My husband’s parents are not too mobile, and I guess getting down to the basement was hard. Really lucky that it seems no one was hurt.

      2. Frieda*

        We’re also fine (we just got rain and very light hail) but some of the damage around town is awful. We were in the basement sheltering for a long time yesterday. My parents called and I had to explain that we’d had *seven* tornados spotted in our region.

        Glad your daughter is ok. It’s hard to imagine having 100 homes in one area destroyed overnight.

  30. RussianInTexas*

    This was brought up by the earlier week’s discussion about washers and dryers.
    I grew up handing clothes up to dry, dryers were not a thing that existed, and hanging up clothes to dry was my chore since I was a kid. We lived in an apartment in a cold climate, so clothes dried on the line in the larger bedroom.
    American style tumble dryers were a revelation to me. I love them. I will never go without one as long as I am able, I do not care about any reasoning why not. Couple years ago mine broke, took 6 weeks to fix it, and drying clothes on the line was terrible. Especially sheets and towels.
    Is there any modern convenience you will not abandon for any reason?
    I’ll mention another one below.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      My air fryer. I’m on the third one now. My oven is long since abandoned. (Also, those parchment air fryer liners are amazing. The silicone ones are better than nothing when it comes to clean-up, but the parchment ones are better.)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I love my air fryer and my toaster oven. I’ve been looking at the combo Breville one, but it’s so dang expensive.
        I also love my Zojirushi rice cooker.

          1. Just a name*

            I have the cephalon air fryer / toaster oven combo and while it is awesome, the air frying is less than stellar. The fan only blows intermittently so it’s more baking than air frying. Still I love it.

            1. BRR*

              I have the $400 one and I love it. I think it’s a decent air fryer and it’s a fantastic oven. I’ve read where it falls short is toast lol. I use the proofing setting a lot, which makes it worth it for me but others may not get their moneys worth out of it like I do.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      I have a similar one to you – when I first moved out into my own apartment, one of my biggest non-negotiables was that it HAD to have in-unit laundry. I know myself and I will never lug all of my stuff to a laundromat to deal with, and my patience for shared building laundry ran out in college. I would 100% rather pay some extra rent and have laundry in my apartment than not.

      (Usual caveats that I’m not looking down on those who have to use laundromats or who prefer to use laundromats, and I know it’s a privilege to be able to afford a little extra rent. This is just the first one that came to mind before something more obvious like “internet/computers” lol.)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Yeah, I wasn’t looking for internet/electricity/refrigeration/indoor plumbing, more things that you COULD live without, but really really don’t want to.
        Another one for me is all produce I can buy. I grew up in the land of food deficit and mandatory gardening, including growing potatoes on allotments with basically Medieval instruments. Even kids had to go to the potato digging trips (we are city people!). I refuse to grow anything. I go to a store.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The dishwasher. They’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

      I grew up without it. My mother only got one when I was in my late teens, and it clearly made her life better. After moving out, I lived in dishwasher-less houses for over 10 years, and always ended up being the person who did everyone’s dishes most of the time (sometimes begrudgingly, as I’ve lived in houseshares with people who had no respect for common spaces).

      I was delighted that there was one already installed in the house we bought. I sometimes still express my joy out loud as I load it, especially in the evening or after having guests.

      1. allathian*

        Agree, I grew up without one, and the the first apartment my husband and I rented together had one. I never want to be without one again.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’m also someone who grew up with dishwashers. When my best friend finally got her first apartment (with a balcony!), I was shocked when only a few months later she moved out of it and into a different one (without a balcony) in the same building because the second apartment had a dishwasher. But, after actually having a dishwasher, I wonder how I ever got along without one and completely understand her decision.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          We have a balcony that we literally use only to store junk to be hauled away. I would pick the dishwasher every single time.

      3. Clara Bowe*

        I remain incandescently happy with my counter-top dishwasher. I got it earlier this year and it has done SO MUCH for my mental health.

      4. Spacewoman Spiff*

        THIS!!! Somehow I’ve been without a dishwasher for 2/3 of my adult life and sometimes, in my last apartment, it would nearly break me…I love cooking and baking and always staring down that mountain of dishes would start me crying. Just bought my first house and thank god, I have a dishwasher and did not have to do any remodeling to get it!

      5. Elizabeth West*

        I grew up with one, but as an adult, I never had one until I moved into this apartment. I kinda love it. Sometimes I wouldn’t bother to cook or bake in my old house since I would have to wash a ton of dishes, but now if I want to make something, I can just chuck ’em in the dishwasher.

      6. Filosofickle*

        Dishwasher for sure! I grew up with one, then didn’t have one in college or the next handful of years, and once I got one again I realized I would NEVER go without one again. Never.

      7. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I haven’t had one since I lived with my parents (so over half of my life now!) but we’re planning a kitchen reno next year and I’m really excited for a dishwasher! I’m used to doing dishes, but we like to host dinner parties and even with just 2 guests, that’s 4 water glasses, 4 wine glasses, 4 tea mugs…never mind plates, cutlery, and the actual pots and pans!

      8. Texan In Exile*

        I don’t mind washing dishes by hand – there are only two of us, but I will not dry them. That is what air is for.

        Mr T and I got into a huge fight at my mom’s because my mom wanted someone to dry dishes while she washed and he volunteered me to do it, even though I kept hissing to him that I hate drying dishes. (And the reason I hate them is because it was one of my chores when I was a kid because my mom didn’t and doesn’t like letting dishes air dry and I don’t see why anyone would waste the labor on something so stupid just so they don’t see dishes drying in the rack.)

        1. Clisby*

          Well, tell him to volunteer himself instead. Problem solved.

          I’m fine with or without a dishwasher – especially since our 2 kids are grown, there’s not nearly as much dishwashing to keep up with. But I’m with you on the drying.

    4. Grad School Attempt 2*

      Central heat! Years ago, I rented a house with just one heat source, a furnace in the living room. The heat from the furnace didn’t really make it all the way upstairs, or even to the two downstairs rooms next to the living room. I had to heat the house with space heaters, and due to the cost of using them, that house stayed 55 or 60 degrees all winter the entire time I lived there. I never adapted! I was wearing long underwear under my sweatpants, three hoodies, and two pairs of socks all winter. I know this is what they did up until modern times (they just dressed warmer in the winter), and I know it’s more cost effective and better for the environment to keep the heat down… but ever since I moved to house a house with central heating, I’ve been keeping the heat at 70 all winter. I’m house hunting now and I refuse to consider any house that’s just heated by a single wood stove or a furnace in one room with no ductwork.

    5. nicolaagricola*

      My dishwasher, it was an incredible pain in the neck when mine broke down. My kitchen isn’t set up for the washing up by hand, usually dirty dishes go straight into the dishwasher. There wasn’t enough room to stack up dirty dishes or drip dry more than a small amount of clean dishes so I was constantly washing small quantities throughout the day.

    6. Forensic13*

      Air conditioning. I get overheated super easy and I just don’t thermoregulate well. And the problem is I cook slowly like a boiling frog, so I often don’t notice if it’s just a little too hot until I’m already sick.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          We had 100 days of over 100 degrees last year, it was hell. It’s almost impossible to live without a/c here.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Definitely air conditioning! And it might sound odd, but shower stalls. They’re not common where my in-laws live (everyone has ‘wet rooms’ where the whole bathroom is your shower) and every time I visit I remember how much I love not getting the entire bathroom wet when I wash my hair.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          Ohh, you just reminded me how much I miss shower doors instead of curtains! I grew up in a house with shower doors on everything and I always hated how the curtains inevitably get sucked into the shower with you (wet sticky plastic on my legs/arms was a big BLECH texture for me). But my apartments for the past couple years have both had curtains so I had to get used to it. But that’s a “luxury” I’d love to get back in my next place… I’ll add it to the list of “nice to haves” lol

          1. Anonymous Koala*

            If you can convince your landlord to let you do it, curved shower rods make a huge difference to the way plastic shower curtains cling to you – something about the curved bar holds the top of the curtain away from the stall so it doesn’t get so wet. They’re not very expensive ($30-ish) and very easy to install. In one of my apartments I installed a curved shower rod and kept the original rod, then swapped them out again right before my lease ended.

          2. Ricotta*

            I also grew up with shower doors and hate curtains. Another benefit I didn’t realize is that doors keep the animals out. I am so tired of cleaning up stray litter from the cat who likes to sleep in the tub. I’m always terrified that eventually enough pieces will end up going down the drain that it will get blocked.

            1. carcinization*

              Yep, we definitely keep the bathroom doors closed so the cat can’t get in there! Ours tends to chew on the shower curtain, so the edges get completely perforated, and he also steals disposable razors out of the trash and chews on them!

      2. Clisby*

        Yes. I rank A/C as far, far more important than central heat. I’m sure living in Charleston, SC, has a lot to do with that.

    7. KarenInKansas*

      Air conditioning and running water. I recently started a new job at state-level water resources agency, and I sometimes am in near tears with gratitude when I take a shower. Clean, running water is such a blessing.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I put it above: Our fridge. Our last one (we rent so it comes with the apartment) died on us, and trying to keep an ice chest full of essentials like milk was insanely difficult. We normally cook at home and eat leftovers and we had nowhere to put them.

      Getting that new fridge was EVERYTHING.

    9. Six Feldspar*

      I’m Australian and I can line dry for about 9 months a year, so I don’t miss a clothes dryer but a clothes *washer* is a different story! When i moved house I hand washed for a few weeks, then leveled up to a little caravan washer about the size of a microwave… both work but need a lot of time to wash/empty/rinse and they took longer to dry because I couldn’t get as much water out of them. Buying my own full size washing machine was such a happy day!

      Also, fast reliable broadband internet (relatively speaking – #Australianinternet). I grew up in the dialup age, I lived through the early broadband phases, I’ve done my time.

    10. Chicago Anon*

      Can I just say that I love threads like this where people are grateful for stuff a lot of people take for granted! Very heart-warming, folks, thank you for all your comments!

    11. MeepMeep123*

      The bread machine. I love fresh-baked bread, and it takes about 10 minutes to set it up in a bread machine.

  31. RussianInTexas*

    As a young teen, I also started my puberty without disposable menstrual supplies. It’s was terrible, and never again. My BC basically stopped any need now, but there is no environment reason I would care about to go without disposable stuff if needed.

    1. Jackalope*

      Opposite experience here! I grew up with the disposable stuff and learned about reusable supplies as an adult. The world will pry my reusable supplies with no need to throw away gross smelly used stuff out of my cold dead hands! But I can see how that could easily go the other way.

      1. Alex*

        I second this, although I think reusable supplies have come a long way in the past 30 years or so. I’ll take my 2024 silicone menstrual cup and snap-on, fleece lined reusable pads, not the 1950s sanitary belt crap!

  32. Llellayena*

    Has anyone figured out how to get Safari (iPhone) to not reload while you’re on a website? I just lost a 2 paragraph comment here because the page reloaded while I was typing! And it keeps reloading while I’m reading which collapses the comments and I have to find where I was again! arg!

    1. Workerbee*

      I thought I had the solution by only viewing this site on Chrome, but it still happens. But – all this reloading only happens to me while I’m on my ol’ tablet.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      Honestly this might be an AAM problem rather than a browser problem. This site does it to me (Chrome on iPhone) but others don’t. I know Alison and her tech person had been working on it – not sure if they’ve fixed the original issue and another cropped up or if it’s just a really stubborn glitch. (Thank you to both of them for their work on the site!)

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just use the Brave browser on my iPhone (really, I use it on all of my devices), and it takes care of all the glitchiness.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        Just to clarify, Brave is a privacy browser, and it does block ads. While I do want to support content creators, if the bloat makes the site unusable I will switch over to Brave. It’s not my default browser, but I do find myself opening a link in that app if the user experience is bad in a standard browser.

    4. Samwise*

      I select-all, copy when I have to navigate away from a comment on this site. Then I can just paste it in if it glitches.

    5. Ellen Ripley*

      I type my long comments in a notepad app, then copy and paste it into the comment box in the browser.

  33. prm*

    Heading to Philly in May. I can redeem points at the Philadelphia Marriot Downtown (13th and Market). I’m traveling with a child: is the area reasonably safe, especially at night?

    1. Sam*

      Philly is a completely different city now than the one I grew up in. I am not trying to fear monger, as everyone’s experience is different, but I do not feel safe in downtown Philly anymore.

    2. WestsideStory*

      Despite all the activity in the tourist area during the day time, downtown Philly can be practically a ghost town at night, and the metro can be harrowing. I definitely would not walk around there after dark.
      If you want to get a good idea of the city, try one of the on/off open top tour busses to see the various neighborhoods; then you can go back via Uber to places you’d like to see.

    3. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Ack! Just lost my comment due to a website reload so I’m going to try retyping this fast. :) I’m a woman who’s lived in Philly for over a decade and while the city does have its problems, I’ve rarely felt unsafe and the area you’ll be staying definitely isn’t a ghost town. Around Broad and Walnut area would be a bit busier, but a lot of people live around Center City. Just be attentive as you’re walking around, keep in mind that we sadly are working on getting rid of our Filthadelphia nickname, and if you’re taking the el be prepared for it to be grimy and not real pleasant (smoking etc.)—if you like to take public transit I’d recommend the buses and trolleys over the el, given the current state of things. I’m bummed that the other comments so far seem to be from people who don’t live in Philly; if you talk to folks who live here I think you’ll find that by and large, it’s such a fantastic city, super walkable, with distinct neighborhoods that you can easily explore by foot or hopping on a bus. I hope you’ll have a great time!! And although we don’t have a reputation for friendliness, we really are kind here if you need to stop someone with a question!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        We were in Philly last year, with a funeral in South Philly (have you all made a will? My 62 year old SIL died without one and watching my poor niece deal with the estate has been heartbreaking), and walked all over after dark. I wasn’t alone – I was with Mr T, but it did not strike me as unsafe in any way. We walked downtown and we walked from the art museum to a deli two miles away and we walked from downtown to South Philly and never felt weird. That said, we live in Milwaukee and walk downtown there after dark all the time. Maybe we’re just used to walking in big cities?

        (Also, yes, PHILLY IS FABULOUS! I mean, we were there for a horrible reason, but outside of that, I really enjoyed the play.)

    4. strawberry lemonade*

      Is the question will you feel safe or will you be safe?

      You might not feel safe if you’re not very used to big cities (no shade) or if you watch a lot of news about how crime-ridden the city is.

      You will probably be safe. Exercise some basic city smarts, naturally; know where you are, don’t run into traffic, and remember that “more people” is safer than “fewer people.”

      I no longer live around Philly but I do love to go back. There’s definitely sketchy areas but it’s really really not a zombie apocalypse where you have to batten down the hatches once the sun sets.

    5. Good lordt, Center City is perfectly fine*

      That area is very safe. It is right next to City Hall. Directly south is “Midtown Village” and the Gayborhood, lots of shops and restaurants that will be open and safe after dark.

      Source: I raised my own child in Center City / South Philadelphia

    6. Nightengale*

      I used to live about 4 blocks from there. (Go to Reading Terminal Market if you have time!)

      I would say it depends on what time “night’ is. Evenings, yes. Midnight could be pretty desolate walking home from the subway.

  34. Pharmgirl*

    I’m going to Nashville in about two weeks (just a long weekend trip) and would love some recommendations! We’re staying in downtown and won’t have a car.

    *One specific rec I’m looking for is Nashville Hot Chicken BUT we are traveling with some vegetarians as well – are there any good hot chicken places that have solid vegetarian options and not just sides?

    1. Just a name*

      Walk-in’ Nashville is a great tour. Music history, sites, etc. “ TOURS RUN FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS AT 10:30AM, FROM APRIL – DECEMBER. PRIVATE TOURS FOR 4 OR MORE ARE AVAILABLE ANY TIME.”

      Station Inn has a great venue for shows, free bluegrass jam on Sunday evenings. You will need to catch a cab/uber.

      Robert’s western world was our favorite honky tonk. Inexpensive (relatively) and live music almost all day.

      The Bluebird cafe is legendary for music but it is hard to get tickets. The Rhyman is the old home of the Grand Ole Oprah and you can walk there if there is a band playing that you are interested in. The Country Music HOF was wrthwh8le, especially taking the trolley over to the old recording studio. The Grand Ole Opry requires a car trip.

      I haven’t been since pre pandemic, are are a lot of new bars near Broadway. Also you’ll be amazed at the number of bachelorette/stag parties happening.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      The best hot chicken is going to be Hattie B’s or Prince’s (I prefer the latter). I don’t know about vegetarian options since they’re known for chicken.
      Broadway at night will be full of bachelorette parties and likely new college grads/their parties. There are tons of new honky tonks – Robert’s is a solid longstanding rec, and the Stage is good for live music that is less country.
      Museums around there: Country Music Hall of Fame, the Frist (art museum), Musicians Hall of Fame is solid, too.
      Early May is usually pretty busy for Nashville, so I’d highly recommend getting reservations for places you’ll want to eat. I love Monell’s for southern food (served family-style); you may want to walk around the Gulch for shopping…there’s lots to do and hopefully you have good weather! Have fun!

    3. tangerineRose*

      The Nashville Zoo is amazing, but without a car, I think it would be too far away. They have red pandas and cassowaries.

    4. mreasy*

      Hattie’s is probably more accessible and will have sides for your pals. The original Prince’s location unfortunately closed a few years back and their alternate location, while big, is a bit far out. The country music hall of fame is a really fun time. Seconding Robert’s, but I highly recommend seeing a show at Exit/In for a more “locals” experience. Parlour and Crema are my faves for coffee, and if you have one big experience meal in your budget, Husk is worth it if you can go without the vegetarians for a dinner. (Parlour is also good for breakfast sandwiches.) You can get Uber/Lyft rides anywhere but sometimes they are *interesting*. The record store Grimeys is famous for a reason – highly recommended visit (and IIRC there is a great local brewery with a pub/tasting room nearby). Parnassus Books, owned by Ann patchett, is a fantastic store – plus it’s in a little shopping center with a really great old-school donut shop. If stars align and there’s a show you want to see at The Ryman, it is a STUNNING venue – they also do tours some days. Biscuit Love is tough to get into but worth it imo. Also great vintage shopping all over the place. Nashville is so fun!!

  35. Anonymous cat*

    I’m thinking about taking one of those tours to Europe that specializes in a subject and/or is designed for the solo traveler, but I’m not sure which are basically travel scams.

    Can anyone recommend a reliable tour company that does either of these? (Tours based on a particular subject area or solo travelers. )

    I know people do these kinds of trips on their own but I need a little help setting it up plus I’d like someone available to call if there’s an emergency.

    1. Generic Name*

      I suggest going through wither Costco or AAA. Both have travel agencies. Yes, you have to be a member of both, but a base level Costco membership is less than $60, which I think is worth it for peace of mind.

    2. ronda*

      I went on road scholar trip in Spain. It did have a focus on learning about local culture and history. I do recommend them. Their solo prices were not too much more than the double occupancy price.

    3. Pharmgirl*

      I’ve used Guide to Iceland before. Not really about a specific subject but good for solo travel, and I believe they have more than just Iceland. It made planning a solo trip very easy.

    4. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I’ve used Intrepid Travel for tours of Iceland, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey, and always had a great experience. There’s usually a lot of solo travelers and I’ve had fun on the trips because they’re an Australian company, so there end up being lots of folks from that part of the world, just fun to meet these travelers who otherwise I’d never run into. They’re also pretty good about having trips at different price points.

    5. IzzyTheCat*

      Check to see if your local university (or the college you attended) does travel trips with professors over the summer!

  36. Bing Kelly*

    Can someone explain something to me about diabetes? Not for medical advice reasons, I don’t have it but have been wondering about something. Say you have diabetes but don’t know it. Your blood sugar is high enough that if it were tested, your doctor would tell you you’re diabetic. But you don’t see a doctor so you have no idea. Then you get healthy and lower your blood sugar to a normal number. You get a blood test and everything is fine. So how does that work, you had diabetes but you don’t have it anymore? As far as I understand, there’s no cure. So what does this mean for your health?

    1. WellRed*

      Would it help to think of it more as remission? Because if a person no longer has high blood sugar because they make lifestyle changes or whatever, that’s great but doesn’t mean the issue won’t rear up again. And to be clear, I’m referring to Type 2 only here.

    2. AnonRN*

      Very broad explanation. First, there are two* types of diabetes. One involves the pancreas not making insulin any more. This is not really curable except with a pancreas transplant. With this type, your blood sugar will get very high, you’ll get very sick (you’ll know something isn’t right) and without treatment you will die. These people need insulin (usually 2 types) every day, but diet and exercise regulation can help control the spikes.

      The other type involves increasing insulin resistance…the pancreas is still trying its best, but the body’s cells are resistant. This can be modified or slowed by diet and exercise and some non-insulin medications that help control the spikes. So these people could get to a point where there are no chemical traces of diabetes in their blood (it’s not just blood sugar we test for). However, the longer this goes unrecognized and uncontrolled, the more progressive the damage may be.

      *there are definitely sub-types, not to mention diabetes insipidus which is a whole different disease.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      You didn’t really have diabetes if you had it and then quote “g[o]t healthy” and suddenly don’t. Diabetes is usually the result of your body either not producing insulin or not processing it. You can’t undo it by “getting healthy.” If you could, we wouldn’t need insulin, metformin, ozempic, etc. When you’re diabetic, you do, in fact, have to be healthy—what you eat and in what quantities and exercise—but being “healthy” doesn’t cure diabetes.

      1. Maggie*

        You can reverse type 2 diabetes with diet, it’s just really hard to stick to I’d imagine which is why people use all that other stuff. If you google “reverse type 2 diabetes” you’ll find a lot of info from reputable sources that it is possible to do on diet alone

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, my father did. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was maybe 60? He went on a strict diet that he followed faithfully (dying of the complications of diabetes was way up on the list of things he wanted to avoid.) He took some kind of medication for years, but by the time he died at 81 he hadn’t had to take the medication in quite some time.

          My 69-year-old sister was diagnosed with Type 1 about 60 years ago, and no recovery for her. She’s been taking insulin daily all that time, and is pretty healthy except for the diabetes.

    4. Phryne*

      As I understand it, once you have full blown diabetes, there is no cure, but with the kind that can develop from lifestyle there are several stages before that where you can still come back from by a health intervention. A friend of mine was as some point warned by her doctor she was one step away from getting diabetes, so she made some radical changes in food, drink and exercise and now her blood test shows values nearly back to safe levels.
      Once you have real actual diabetes though, something in your system is completely broken and can’t get fixed anymore. And at this point you will notice, as you will get (very) sick and only medical intervention will help.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        No, I’ve had real actual diabetes for about 6 years and it’s pretty well controlled by one Metformin a day. I don’t even watch my diet that much but I always test on the low end of what’s considered diabetes, and I’ve never felt sick.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Think of it this way: your body’s ability to process glucose / energy is on a spectrum. That range of values runs from hypoglycemia (chronically too low), to normal, to pre-diabetes (high and risky), to diabetes (chronically too high).

      The healthiest state is for your body to remain on an even keel in the normal range, without big swings or running too long at a high or low state. There are many factors that affect the ability to regulate. Those include the type of foods you habitually eat, the performance of your glands in producing the right amount of insulin (and other hormones) at the right time, stress, exercise, sleep, percentage of body fat, inflammation, your immune system, etc.

      If your pancreas stops producing insulin (Type 1), then you have to take insulin. All the other factors still matter, because they help the system work. But you can’t function without that hormone.

      If your body produces insulin but isn’t processing it well, that’s Type 2. And the side effects of Type 2 are a cycle that increases inflammation, increases body fat, stresses your glands, stresses your immune system, and often becomes self-perpetuating.

      If you interrupt that cycle early by helping the body return to a well regulated state, some people can avoid or delay that snowball effect from starting. It is unlikely someone could do that if they had already reached the diabetic range of the spectrum long term. It is more feasible that they could correct a pre-diabetic state.

    6. Maggie*

      Studies have shown it’s possible to reverse type 2 (NOT type 1) diabetes with diet so it’s theoretically possible someone could do that without knowing, but it’s a pretty strict low carb diet that’s usually doctor supervised so I think it would be rare someone would just accidentally follow that diet.

    7. anon_sighing*

      You are still a diabetic. Period. (I assume this is about Type 2).

      You can manage your diabetes without medicine with a healthy lifestyle and exercise, but once the damage is done, the damage is done. You have not “reversed” it; you’re managing it. It’s akin to taking HIV medication to undetectable and untransimittable levels — your ability to maintain that status depends on ongoing, proactive management. If you stop proactive management, then your condition will reemerge.

      People saying you can reverse it are not telling the whole truth. You may not need meds to manage it, but you will need to manage it.

      1. anon_sighing*

        Upon re-reading your example, having one high blood sugar reading may not be diabetes though. There are specific tests to confirm a diabetes diagnosis.

        Untreated and/or poorly managed diabetes is the leading cause of amputation and blindness in the USA. It’s no joke and not worth playing around with, hoping you’re doing things right!

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      Type II Diabetes is tricky in that it’s not really a binary “have / do not have” sort of disease. What happens in type II diabetes is that your cells stop responding well to insulin, so they can’t use the sugar in your blood very well (insulin is the hormone that helps sugar get into your cells). When the sugar doesn’t get into your cells, it hangs out in your blood and causes high blood sugar. Then your body makes even more insulin to try and get the sugar in your blood into your cells. This, in turn, makes your cells even less sensitive to insulin, so your body makes even more of it – a vicious cycle.
      When people reverse type II diabetes, what they’re actually doing is reducing the amount of sugar in their bodies through diet and exercise. When people lower the amount of sugar in their bodies, their bodies don’t need to make as much insulin, and over time their cells get less insulin -resistant because there isn’t as much insulin hanging around. (This is a basic explanation; there’s a lot more nuance to diabetes than what I’m describing here.) But people who ‘reverse’ type II diabetes will never be able to eat normal or high-carb diets again without developing diabetes symptoms; whereas someone who isn’t prone to diabetes might be able to eat high-carb without developing insulin resistance. This is why diabetes diagnosis is about a lot more than just labs; doctors have to understand patients’ lifestyles and medical history to guide them properly.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, when I said above that my father had “reversed” Type 2 diabetes, that was an oversimplified description. He stuck to his diet with ruthless discipline, and eventually he didn’t have to take medication, and was back to normal blood sugar levels. It wasn’t like he could abandon the diet and still be OK. But it’s more like a “reversal” than with my sister – she’s extraordinarily disciplined, too, and nothing she could possibly do is going eliminate her need for daily insulin injections.

  37. vulturestalker*

    I’m looking for bathrobe recommendations! Ideally something that could double as a cozy house robe, not necessarily just for post-shower.

    I’d prefer a natural fabric like cotton; I’m not a fan of the “super soft!” plasticky synthetic fuzz texture or microfiber. I am about 5’1″, so something that doesn’t drag on the floor for shorter people would be great.

    Do you have a robe you love? Tell me about it!

    1. Jm*

      I had a wonderful cotton chenille robe for years and wore it to death but didn’t replace it and can’t find one. Was gifted a plush robe beautiful but I didn’t like the zipper. Good luck in your search

    2. BRR*

      I have one from the company store and love it. It’s very absorbent which was my number one criteria.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I was gifted one that is the same kind you get in fancy hotels that is waffle terry cloth style. My particular one is probably too long though. The one I have is from Monarch towels but you could probably find similar ones. I was skeptical at first, because it’s very lightweight but I find it still absorbent enough, less bulky, and still warm enough in winter but not too hot in warmer months. The only thing I don’t like is that they only make white ones. I think they are literally the same ones hotels buy.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I looked at my robe again today and it’s not quite as long as I remembered. I’m 5′ 4″ and it’s probably a couple inches above my ankles, so might still be ok.

    3. Reba*

      I have a cotton flannel from coyuchi and a quilted down robe from the company store. Both are a bit $$$ but I adore them. I am also short, love the cozy length on these.
      My spouse has one of the Turkish striped cotton type robes, but I run cold and that would never be warm enough for me.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      I have 2 bathrobes. one is terrycloth and I love how absorbent it is and the texture on my skin but it’s so heavy. Like imagine wearing 3-4 bath towels at once. The other is the more fleecy type and it’s much lighter but I also don’t like the weird fluffy feel of synthetic fabric on my skin.

      I bought my partner a really nice plaid flannel bathrobe a couple years ago from LL Bean I think? Though I think Ralph Lauren and Vermont Country Store have similar ones. Anyway, I wear his robe far more than I wear either of the other ones! I love the soft cotton flannel feel. It’s capacious and warm but also lightweight. At some point he’ll want it back and I’ll need to get one for myself.

    5. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I loooove my robe from Anokhi, they have a US site, mostly because they are made from stunningly beautiful Indian block-print fabric, and wearing one makes me feel gorgeous. Not sure they quite meet what you are looking for in terms of not being absorbant, but they are 100% cotton and I find quite warm for how light weight they are.

    6. Juneybug*

      I recently purchased Women’s Jockey® Everyday Essentials Long Wrap Robe and I love it for spring and summer.
      I am 5’2, female, and weight 140 lbs. I ordered Large from Kohl’s. I could have gone with a Medium but wanted it loose. It comes down to below my knees.

  38. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    After getting concerning test results from a doctor’s office, how normal is it to not hear anything from them (either a phone call or an email message explaining the results) for two weeks afterward?

    I got my annual physical a couple of weeks ago and this is what happened. I’m getting emails from the practice encouraging me to write a review, and were I to actually write one, I’m trying to judge if “no communication for two weeks after visit after seeing concerning numbers in my lab results” is a fair criticism, or if it’s on me to chase down the doctor for an explanation of what to do next. (I’ve seen four doctors over the past decade — the last doctor I saw before this one called me every time even with nothing badly out of range; the doctor before that never even sent test results; and the one before that didn’t call, but nothing was out of range, so basically at this point I’m just not sure what is normal.)

    1. Enough*

      Unfortunately I believe more and more doctors don’t call. I have had the same doctor for 40 years and he now only calls if there is an issue while before he called each time. I just saw a gastroenterologist and was told I should call in a week to get my results. Which is fine except the phone tree is a pain and in the end you usually end up at the receptionist who takes a message and then they call you back.

    2. WellRed*

      If there’s a concern my experience has been they reach out right away; even if results are normal, I’ll typically hear from the practice even if it’s not the doctor herself, via a nurse or even a letter.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Is there a patient portal? A lot of times my doctor will post notes and results to the portal, and sometimes I don’t get the notification.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t get calls anymore, unless it’s something VERY concerning, something that requires a medical intervention. Otherwise I get the test results and the accompanied doctor notes in the MyChart.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          It’s used by almost all large organizations in my area, and I specifically try to pick ones that do use it, because it’s extremely convenient.
          Given that all doctors I dealt over the years are terrible about calling, this is a solution I like. Plus, I can access and download all my test results at any time, pay via the app, e-sign documents, do check-in before an appointment, etc. And they share results, so my PCP can see my gyno visits or my colonoscopy results, or my dermatologist screening. And all medications are in one place.
          It improved my medical experience so much, it’s amazing.

          1. Clisby*

            That’s been my experience. And yes, one of the big advantages of MyChart is that my doctors can see everything, and my husband and I also get notified of each other’s new test results, etc.

        2. fposte*

          One study says at least three quarters of adults between 50 and 80 have used at least one patient portal. It’s used by a lot. Some people report problems with text to speech apps but other say that it actually works pretty well, so it seems to depend on the specific tech.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I really like MyChart specifically because it works across multiple organizations, but even small practices now create websites with messaging and test results, with various success levels.

      1. WellRed*

        I get lots of results and communication through my chart and it’s made requesting refills or a certain test so easy.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Since patients can see lab results in their online portal in a lot of cases, I think fewer doctors call. That said, when there are concerning results, they absolutely SHOULD call so that patients know what to do with those results. It shouldn’t be, but it often does fall on patients to chase down information and make sure they get care. If I hadn’t logged into MyChart after my last physical and noticed all my liver values were off, would they ever have called me? It had been three weeks, I only logged in to see if the billing was correct. When I called the doctors office, they just said “yeah. that probably should have been followed up. I’ll have the doctor call you back.” – and then it was another week of me calling daily before I got a call.
      In general, communication from doctors offices these days is just really, really bad. So many “we’ll look into it and call you tomorrow” responses. I recently had some complicated issues and was working with four different doctors and not a single one of them would ever call me back, despite promises to do so and some urgency.
      The whole system is just broken.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Without MyChart I wouldn’t know that my insurance suddenly decided that once room inside the suite that is covered inside the hospital that is covered even with a provider that is covered was not covered, because my insurance could not figure out that a suite can have two different street numbers. MyChart sent me a $2800 estimate for the routine colonoscopy, which alerted me to the issue. The hospital sure wasn’t going to do it.

    6. Girasol*

      I don’t like the “no news is good news” model and I demand to see test results. Good doctors will hand over the paper and explain the numbers. Poor ones will hand over the paper and goodbye. I’m ditching doctors who won’t give me test results. I’m going to the doctor to find out if I’m healthy. If I don’t find out, what’s the point? (I’m old enough to remember the “don’t you worry your pretty little head about those big numbers!” days and I’m so over it.)

      1. Imtheone*

        In the US, new rules require test results to be released to patients right away, often before the doctor has time to review them.

      2. A313*

        My gynecologist just told me that the mammogram radiologist (in a particular healthcare group here) reading my mammo won’t be contacting her with the results unless there is a concern. This is a problem! As she pointed out, she wants to see the results herself, and has on rare occasion, found an error. I’m not sure how to handle this going forward, but before I schedule, I will definitely inquire how results are handled.

        1. FACS*

          At least where I practice, interpreting radiologists are required to report results to the ordering physician and notify the patient by call or letter of the results.

          1. A313*

            If anyone here is in the Chicago area using NorthShore, it’s their radiologists who won’t be reporting the mammo results to your doctor, or to you, unless they’ve flagged an issue. If the results were reported to me, I’d happily send them to my doctor, but that’s not what they’re doing. Yes, I know there’s SO MUCH “paperwork” involved in medical care now, but having a test and not knowing the results beyond the radiologist’s report is it’s fine and no, your own doctor hasn’t seen the report. It doesn’t hurt to have your own doctor also following up!

            1. Samwise*

              Right, and occasionally something slips up—you don’t get notified when you should have. I like providers that call with the results regardless. Or if they don’t call, they put it in mychart and I get a text saying update in mychart.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      That’s a fair criticism: even if some patients wouldn’t care, it is a relevant fact about how they treated you.

      Unfair criticisms are things like “they made me pay for parking in the hospital garage” or that the nearby Starbucks messed up someone’s order.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I once had one where I had to go to the lab company instead of my doctor for results. I ended up calling that time but iirc they also had a web portal.

    8. HannahS*

      Where I am, it’s not typical to call unless there is further action to take. Ideally, doctors would remember to explain that to people (“If you don’t hear from me within x days, the test was normal and you don’t have to worry”) but many forget to do that. If there is an abnormal result that requires follow-up, I would expect a doc to reach out within two weeks, and ideally earlier depending on how serious the finding is.

      Sometimes, there are abnormal results that aren’t clinically relevant, so a doctor won’t call back about it, but the patient is waiting for a call because the result was abnormal, and they’re (understandably) concerned. I still recommend that someone get clarification from their doctor. But that is a frequent frustrating and anxiety-provoking situation that MyChart (and similar) can create.

    9. TX_Trucker*

      I think a factual and detailed review of your experience is always fair. Saying your doctor was slow to communicate – unfair. Saying your lab results were abnormal and your doctor did not proactively call to communicate – fair.

      At the time of my annual physical, my doctor tells me that he will call me immediately with test results that need intervention, call within 30 days for stuff that is concerning but doesn’t need intervention (such as borderline high blood pressure), and not call at all for normal results.
      Don’t know if this is “normal” but that’s how he handles it.

    10. FACS*

      I am a physician. I set aside a half day a week to call about any out of range results to discuss treatment recommendations and follow up. Anything really concerning gets a call when I’m running that days labs. Normal results get posted to the patient portal if the patient has one. Our EMR allows us to set a reminder to sent out paper copies of labs if the patient has chosen not to have a portal account.

    11. Doctor is In*

      Experienced physician here. No news means no news. Results could have been never sent by the lab, missed when the results came back, etc. If you are tech savvy and see the results on a portal and they are normal, that is fine. If not, keep calling till someone who is qualified to interpret the results explains them to you. And it horrifies me that mammogram results would not be sent to the ordering physician; one hospital that I occasionally have patients go to for imaging studies will not send me results because the patient can get them on the portal. Terrible idea in my opinion.

  39. Helvetica*

    I’ve been having trouble with the website eating my replies. I’ll post something, it doesn’t show up and if I try to re-post, I get a warning that I am posting a duplicate, yet the “original” never appears. Not sure how to go about fixing it or what could be causing it.

      1. Helvetica*

        If they sometimes go into moderation, I will still see them with the added “Your post is awaiting moderation” but lately, they just…vanish. Not sure what I am doing wrong :)

        1. anon_sighing*

          I’ve never seen that message and I have definitely seen them later after they’re approved. Is that a separate screen that you see?

          Otherwise, they do just appear to vanish until approved.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Does it never appear, or does it appear a few hours later? A lot of my comments go to spam and then get fished out later. There are lots of reasons and the blog’s author has asked us not to speculate or share which terms trigger it, but you might be frequently using those terms innocently. Sometimes it seems to just happen randomly. Of course I’m assuming you’ve looked at the commenting guidelines and aren’t posting things that violate the standards haha. It *is* disappointing because there’s a pretty narrow window where you might get comments or responses to what you post, but you can make a differently phrased comment elsewhere if you’re really hot to make a point before the discussion moves on (or sometimes that’s my cue to go outside and touch grass for a while).

    2. GoryDetails*

      I ran into this today – I posted my usual rather longish entry in the what-are-we-reading thread, and it took several hours to show up. I don’t know if it was because of the post’s sheer length, or the number of my posts within a short time, or maybe a keyword somewhere in the text, but (so far) my posts have always turned up eventually. [I may try making separate, shorter posts for each title I want to mention, and see if that cuts down on my languishing-in-moderation time!]

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve found I have to close the site and reopen it to see the comment when that happens.

  40. kalli*

    I have a new tablet! It has a keyboard case so hopefully I can use it to talk to people.

    However, it runs Android and my experience with note apps and word processors on Android has not been conducive to typing, and I’m still using Docs on a Blackberry for talking.

    I basically need:
    – a sans serif font that can be made large-type
    – wraps when it reaches the side of the screen
    – full screen view (limited interface or ability to hide the interface entirely)
    – dark mode
    – ability to save as a document (currently some doctors have me type in a word doc on their computer instead so they can keep it on file, and i keep important conversations or interactions with police etc.)
    – ability to use “web layout” i.e. there aren’t visible page breaks or page views (at the very least, it should scroll and not switch pages, such as to prevent paragraphs being broken over page views so only half is visible at once)
    – keyboard shortcuts for formatting and view options (ctrl+b, ctrl+i and similar, something to transition to web layout or full screen view etc. as sometimes i won’t be able to see/use a stylus to select these options on the screen)
    – freeware, shareware or demo option so I can use it before shelling out for a full version.

    things I would love but aren’t critical
    – predictive text
    – ability to remove autocorrect (i.e. if you don’t choose a predictive option it won’t change anything for you)
    – text to speech functionality (I currently use a free browser app and I’m saving for a TTS device once my social worker finds someone who can refer me for one, but some people just won’t read, and others have more trouble reading than hearing in a conversation context)

    On my Debian-based screen I use LibreOffice (does everything but dark mode) and I’ve had good feedback, so I tried Collabora and it did not work out at all, but I’ve looked at Polaris and OnlyOffice and a few others and I can’t really tell if they will be helpful based on whether it has PDF conversion and who develops it and half the other things going on in reviews. I know most people don’t use these for talking to people, but if anyone has used Android based word processors or has a note app that covers the necessary things (like, wordpad does most of this if i’m using a windows device so it doesn’t have to be a fully kitted out office suite!) and has suggestions I’ll give them a go!

    Any suggestions gratefully appreciated.

    1. Lady Alys*