Change your location, change your personality

by Grace aka costofcollege

Your Personality Changes When You Move to a New Place

… The degree of influence that place has on an individual can depend on what’s driving that place’s personality to begin with. Jason Rentfrow, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, has reviewed three different potential factors that may, together or separately, drive state and regional variation: migration patterns, ecology, and social influence….

… the most powerful influence on someone who moves may be good ol’ peer pressure. Cultural institutions and values span generations and inculcate newcomers through “social contagion,” and people tend to absorb practices and values of those around them. Schaller says social susceptibility may be one of the strongest forces in encouraging new residents to dial up some personality traits while toning down others. For example, a network of happy people can make a person happier; on the other hand, adults who move to new areas where they are in the ideological minority often feel isolated and become less able to take the perspective of others.

This seems right.  For example, I’ve seen a person become more assertive and brash when they moved from the south to a big city up north.  Have you observed or experienced similar changes?  Is it better to adapt, or to keep your hometown personality?  If you’ve moved, how would you describe your hometown’s personality compared to that of your present location?


150 thoughts on “Change your location, change your personality

  1. Have you observed or experienced similar changes?

    The biggest difference I’ve noticed in saying hello to people you pass in the hall. In the south you have to say hello to everyone you pass, if you try that in the northeast or west they look at you like you’re some sort of freak. It’s hard when you’re transitioning from one site to another to not be rude in the south or be thought a psycho in the northeast or west.

  2. I think this is accurate. I experienced the same as Rhett when I worked in offices in Delaware and Florida. People said hello in the cafeteria and bathrooms, and they expected you to respond if they said hello, or how are you? It is different in NYC offices, and I actually don’t love that some people are totally rude and won’t even say hi when you literally bump into the person coming through a door.

    Honking seems to be the same. We didn’t honk when we were in Florida, but we did when someone wasn’t moving at the exit ramp from JFK. I try to be nice in NY, but I find it is easy to slip into rushed, rude behavior that wouldn’t be acceptable in many other places.

  3. Ok, I wasn’t going to post this, because I thought it would come off wrong, but it is in the same vein as Rhett and Lauren’s comments. A good friend’s brother moved from our Midwestern city to New York City for a few years, and suddenly decided to move back. When questioned as to why, he said he caught himself yelling at a guy in a coffee shop who tried to take part of his newspaper he was reading over breakfast. He didn’t like the person that he was there. He ultimately settled in an Atlanta suburb, where presumably people are friendly to each other in coffee shops.

    My only example of this is how much more laid-back I am in a college town compared to a city environment, even as a professional. I think that is part of the reason for my plan to eventually live in different college towns when I retire

  4. There is a local stereotype of the mainlander who comes here and expects everyone here to behave like people on the mainland.

    IOW, we see a lot of counterexamples.

  5. I think where you live and even where you work has an influence. I have never worked professionally outside of Texas for more than a few days here and there, so I can’t speak to regional differences. In general, the idea that you don’t share anything personal at work would make you come off as very stand-offish or rude in every organization I worked in. However, depending upon the organization, what is “normal” sharing vs. “over” sharing can be fine line.

    In general, if it is you and one or two other people crossing paths, you speak (hi, hello, how are you). But, if there is a large number of people (think of kids changing classes in high school), not speaking to someone isn’t rude unless you know them well and made direct eye contact. Also, if the other person is managing an another person (child or elderly person) or engaged in an activity (using the copier) not speaking in order to not distract their focus isn’t rude either.

    Figuring out that line between what you are sharing is relationship building/networking vs. providing too much personal information is very situational dependent. I have a co-worker whose child as a similar learning disabilty diagnosis as my child, but my child has a much milder form. We have talked about our kids and I got a great referral from him. But, on the other hand, I know way too much about one former co-worker’s court battles to get custody of her grand children.

  6. I feel like I fit in better here. I think it is because people have settled here from other states. A ton of people have moved here in the past twenty years.
    Most people are polite, they try not to honk and will let cars take turns cutting in.

  7. I am on a trip in western desert. I overshared a bit at lunch with a couple from western Wisconsin, and on the other side of the coin I was what to be felt to me as forcibly required to converse by a worker I merely passed walking. I also ate at a Subway for the first time in my life.

  8. The Bay Area to North Carolina was a huge culture shock. Normal conversation in northern California is huge overshare in North Carolina. I had to learn how to make conversation without saying anything personal. Then when I moved back to northern California, I was startled at how much people seemed to overshare! Denver seems to work reasonably well for me and for DH. I still easily fall back into massive overshare with my California friends.

  9. When I was younger, my mother would say I’m the typical type A personality. I think age and parenthood has mellowed me a bit on many things, but I am still the impatient driver. Practically daily example: leaving work there is a roundabout. The driver can see more than far enough down the road to know if there will be a car coming from their left (or a pedestrian crossing). Even when it’s blatantly obvious there’s no reason to stop, many, many (bad driving) people — to paraphrase something Trump might say — treat the YIELD as a STOP when they don’t need to. Usually rather than honking I’ll flash my headlights, but I will also be yelling at them from the privacy of my vehicle. Yeah, the roundabout has only been there for about 2 years.

  10. Meme’s western desert comment made me think of the article’s mention of the ecological influence. If I live miles (or at least a wide yard span) away from my nearest neighbor and I mostly drive from place to place, I might be apt to engage in sharing conversation or at least greet anyone I encounter. OTOH, if my daily interaction includes being an inch away from someones armpit on the subway, I might tend to place more value my private space and thoughts.

  11. In Boston, I felt nice people got into their cars and completely changed. DH is a very aggressive driver and was way worse when he was up there.

  12. Fred – at home I am viewed as type A, except apparently when disciplining my kids. Here I am viewed as more mellow, except apparently when disciplining my kids.

  13. “In Boston, I felt nice people got into their cars and completely changed. DH is a very aggressive driver and was way worse when he was up there.”

    Yes, that’s been my experience there as well. Miami – same thing.

  14. This conversation is interesting. I grew up in Dallas and had a huge culture shock when I went to my small, uber-liberal SLAC in the Northeast. Women didn’t wear full make up (or any make up) or even shave! People wore sweat pants in public! There were entire sports, such as rugby that I had never heard of.

    Going back to Texas after time elsewhere was relatively easy.

  15. Given that I moved back and forth across the country continually as a child, I must be totally psychotic by now!

  16. Hasn’t really happened for me- probably why I have had trouble making friends here, and the friends I have made have also been transplants from a different part of the country. I have some autistic tendencies and can’t read the subtle social cues in the South. Impossible for me to tell which women here actually want to be friends and which are just being super bubbly and fake.

  17. Slight hijack – looks like I’ll be taking a business trip to Dallas in the next month or so. I’d like to bring one of my boys (age 9) and spend the weekend. Any suggestions on things for us to do/see in the area?

  18. I went running today, and I had to wear warmer clothes yesterday in Florida! It’s gorgeous here today, but I still don’t think it’s a good thing for nature. There are bees and ladybugs on porch. Birds eating berries in trees.

    We are going to get lunch from a nasty guy. He’s sort of like the soup guy on Seinfeld, but this is the only place that DD and her friends wanted to come for lunch.

  19. I don’t think my core personality changed at all moving from place to place, but my behavior did. It’s like Rhett said – if you want to follow general social norms, you learn to adapt. But it was easier to adapt in some places that I lived than others.

    When I lived in NC in my early 20’s, I did not feel comfortable at all with the social norms for my age/social group there. I didn’t like being “done up” for everything including the gym, I didn’t want to be in a serious/marriage relationship in my early 20’s, I have never given a rat’s ass about college football, and there were other more subtle things too. Like RMS said – the art of making long, polite conversation without really saying anything was a skill I definitely had to learn. I always say that I had to learn the difference between Southern-polite and friendly because it confused me at first. Anyway, in the end, I ended up hanging out with transplants more in the end & then high-tailed it back to the NE. I felt much more comfortable in the NE when I lived there even though I am a born/bred Midwesterner.

  20. Houston – haha. We are exact opposites in this regard. I went from a small town in Canada to Dallas, where people wore makeup to work out! That was something I had never *ever* seen before. I called my sister immediately to tell her about it. And they dressed to the nines for church–and, most shocking to me–they talked openly about church even when we weren’t at church. Almost no one had heard of my hometown, and a lot of people asked me crazy questions about where I was from, often referring to it as “over there,” as though perhaps they thought there was an ocean between the two countries. Or they said things like, “Ontario is a really nice city.”

    Even thought I’m still on this side of the border, I feel like far less of a foreigner up here. No more make up at the gym. Jeans at church. No discussion of church outside of church. And my neighbor spends more time in my hometown than I do.

    I loved my time in TX, though. Love the southern manners, all the ma’am and sir, and of course the weather. I will always have a soft spot for the place. I’ve taken my kids back several times and will keep returning to see friends there for the rest of my life. I will always be glad I spent time there. I just feel more like myself where I am now.

  21. “I have some autistic tendencies and can’t read the subtle social cues in the South. Impossible for me to tell which women here actually want to be friends and which are just being super bubbly and fake.”

    @Rio – Yes, I had trouble with that too. Like I said – it was hard for me at first to read polite vs friendly because even in the Midwest, the “polite” style is much different & less bubbly or something.

  22. I think I’ve adapted fairly well down here, but I’m really a New Englander (I’m somewhat aloof and don’t like to know people’s business, etc). I have to force myself to talk to people I pass (and I really do think it’s nice how polite and friendly people are down here, but I was definitely disoriented for the first year or two). People here are much more formal and their kids are exceedingly well behaved and polite so that’s been a good thing. I grew up in a more casual environment and always hated how dressed down people were so that’s a nice thing down here. I’ve also caught myself saying ya’ll from time to time which feels odd but it’s amazing how it just slips in.

  23. As a child, I spent less time in the Northeast ( a couple of years in Boston when I was little) than anywhere else, yet when I moved here for good (sight unseen since we didn’t do any college visits) I found I felt more comfortable here than anyplace else. I always moved too fast for the West and especially the South. But in the Northeast, I was at the same speed as everyone else.
    Culturally, I am from the upper Midwest, and have the accent to prove it. But I never lived there a day in my life. I think I absorbed a lot of the values though, and to this day, many of my best friends are from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan.
    The Pacific Northwest felt very transient to me – no one had any roots or ties there – which is ironic because I was as transient as anyone. By that standard, I really belonged. But I felt like I didn’t.

    I never lived in the deep South. I lived in Texas in parts that were more Southern than Western, as well as the upper South. My cousins were in a state in the deep South though so I had some contact with that culture. The surface culture of the deep South is much slower, more ritual bound, and more sugar coated than the upper South or Texas, in my experience. But, and I am going to put on my flame retardant vest now, I find people in all parts of the South to be more judgmental and suspicious than people in the West or Northeast. OK, OK, not so much in the cities. Atlanta, Little Rock, Houston, New Orleans – those are all pretty much like other cities in the US. But in the regular suburbs, I always felt like people didn’t like it if you didn’t go to church, if you dressed differently, if you didn’t say the right prayerful things. Granted, I haven’t spent a ton of time there in the last few years, but my sister tells me it is still the same in the medium sized town where she lives.

    So, I like the Northeast and feel in sync here. I like the fast pace, I like the acceptance of all kinds of people, and I like the stable, close families. I even learned to say “soda” instead of “pop”.

  24. “I find people in all parts of the South to be more judgmental and suspicious than people in the West or Northeast.”

    As one of two Republicans in my dorm at my college, yeah, not so much.

  25. Midwesterners (where I’m from) are quite sincere for the most part in my experience and while friendly, aren’t extravagant with it and don’t send mixed signals. There’s a straightforwardness to most interactions. Southerners on the other hand will gush about how thrilled they are to see you and send signals (like gifts or striking up long, personal conversations) that in other parts of the country would suggest they want to be good friends. But then may cut you off cold with no warning over some perceived misstep they’ll never tell you about. Midwesterners generally tell you if they have an issue with you.

  26. I fit right in with East Coasters, with the exception of political/religious beliefs. But agree with Houston on the judgmental stuff…people assumed I was a country bumpkin who’d never met a minority and lived in a cornfield. Then were stunned that I actually had a more “diverse” set of hometown friends and a more elite educational background than they did.

  27. Houston, on my block right here in blue Westchester, we have a Mormon family, and a couple of houses that had Trump signs out during the election season. There are a lot of very conservative Catholic families who live here. And the wife of the local village mayor posts uber conservative stuff on her FB feed all the time (she is a friend via church and same age kids, so we have FB link). These people are all more than accepted. The conservative Catholics especially are deeply part of the town culture. We also deal well with LBGTQ people, Jewish people, leftists, and people who don’t mention prayer with every last sentence. I do feel that this area is more accepting than the upper South I grew up in, and where my sister still lives.

  28. people didn’t like it if you didn’t go to church

    On the other side of that church (in the deep south) didn’t necessarily have a large religious component. It was much more of a social club – a place to mingle and gossip, etc.

  29. I think I’ve shared this tale before, but back when I was a baby lawyer I took a business trip to Houston. I could not believe the looks I got – mostly from women – at the office of Texas counsel. My transgression – I wore a black pants suit, not a skirt suit.

    Now I’m thinking I may have to dress up more for my trip to Dallas. My Texas colleagues are pretty chill though. Hmm. No way my son would dress up. He is all about comfort.

  30. Kerri – back when I started, I worked for a firm in Dallas and it was a BFdeal when they announced “casual Fridays”–days on which women lawyers could wear (very expensive) pants suits. But you still couldn’t get away with that in court.

  31. Risley- Yes, court attire is (still) very conservative, even here. Lucky for me, I am never in court. I’m wearing jeans and a Uniglo top right now.

  32. Court attire is conservative everywhere, and if you work in the NYC financial sector, you have to dress up too. I don’t honestly see that as so much of a difference, though the styles differ.

    I will admit that I am always amused at the number of men in full suits, even on a Saturday, in Washington DC. You definitely don’t see that in NYC

  33. Practically daily example: leaving work there is a roundabout. The driver can see more than far enough down the road to know if there will be a car coming from their left (or a pedestrian crossing). Even when it’s blatantly obvious there’s no reason to stop, many, many (bad driving) people — to paraphrase something Trump might say — treat the YIELD as a STOP when they don’t need to.

    There’s a three-way T roundabout I go through sometimes that actually has stop signs at each entrance rather than yield signs. It completely defeats the point of having a roundabout.

  34. Your son will be fine in whatever and outside of professional contexts you will be as well, as long as you aren’t trying to climb the local social scene.

    The arboretum is beautiful right now, especially if you’re coming from a cold climate. The science museum and aquarium are very nice but pricy. The art museum is free so good for a short outing with a kid. Klyde Warren park has a fun vibe.

    If you want the stereotypical Texas experience, you’ll need to check out the Stockyards area in Ft. Worth. Which is a ways out, but

  35. I haven’t lived anywhere except the NE – NYC was as far south as I got – and that was too far for me, it was way too hot in the summer. I cannot STAND this warm weather! Gahhhhhhhh.

    Also, I like being buttoned up and not saying hello to people in the halls and good morning to everyone I pass on the way in to work, but I do smile at people that I pass in the halls at work.

  36. “Practically daily example: leaving work there is a roundabout. The driver can see more than far enough down the road to know if there will be a car coming from their left (or a pedestrian crossing). Even when it’s blatantly obvious there’s no reason to stop, many, many (bad driving) people — to paraphrase something Trump might say — treat the YIELD as a STOP when they don’t need to.”

    Roundabouts are really scary. They were bad enough with bikes, with cars, they are just a bad, scary idea.

  37. Thanks for the recommendations. My husband – architect – recommended the Kimball Art Museum. Yes or No for a 9 year old?

    I’m assuming we can eat good BBQ pretty much anywhere. My son loves the stuff.

  38. You should see the roundabouts in the Netherlands, which are everywhere. They typically have three separated lanes – one for bikes, and two for cars. If you are on a bike, it is clear where you belong, but if you are driving a car, I think you have to be Dutch to figure it out.

  39. Denver – Americans do not understand roundabouts at all. I got really used to them in the UK. Whenever I see them here, they’ve added stop signs or other weird features. Makes no sense.

  40. And, I believe that roundabouts are considered to be much safer than other types of intersections.

  41. There are a bunch of rotaries (or roundabouts as you all say) on Cape Cod so I grew up driving them, but you always knew tourists had no clue of the rules so you had to be careful. One was put in recently near where my friend lives here right off of the highway exit – it’s completely bizarre.

  42. The Irish are a bit cruel. Imagine arriving in Dublin, jetlagged, and then renting a car (stick shift of course), with the driver’s seat on the wrong side of the car and keeping in mind that you must drive on the wrong side of the road. The very first thing you come to leaving the airport is a gigantic roundabout. Twisted!

  43. The Kimball Art Museum is well-regarded, but it depends on your kid’s personality. I have an 11 year-old who would think that a few hours at that art museum would be awful (because of the art, not because the museum is bad). Agree with the comment about the Dallas Arboretum, Klyde Warren Park, and the Perot Science Museum being good suggestions. FW Stockyards are also fun for kids. I would also suggest a Tex-Mex meal while in town if you want to sample one of the more popular cuisines.

  44. Mooshi: I don’t understand your point. You mention that you have a some conservatives in your neighborhood. I have a ton of liberals in my neighborhood. Remember that we had an openly lesbian mayor that everyone liked and respected. I think prejudice and judginess are human traits that everyone has. They are not more prevalent in the South and it drives me nuts when people in the North spout this type of misinformation.

  45. Not sure that an art museum would be a good fit for 9 year old boy. Try the arboretum or the Perot museum.

  46. My DS says “Yes Ma’am” when I nag him about something. In social conversation regligious beliefs don’t come up. The area of the city you live in, which schools your kids go to, discussion about schools etc.
    A fair number of women choose to stay home with their families and this was more disconcerting to me than anything else. That I think was my biggest adjustment.

  47. So far all my son has mentioned about Dallas is that he loves BBQ and that one of his favorite YouTube bloggers lives in Dallas. He is excited we’re flying somewhere.

    I think the Science Museum will be a good option.

  48. There is one thing that I will apologize to my fellow American citizens though. I feel terrible that we foisted Ted Cruz upon you. Please accept my deepest regrets.

  49. We’ve discussed here before the “too frumpy” to “too sexy” regional differences. I will say that although all regions seem to be judgmental if you are off the regional norm, the northeasterners seem much harsher in their judgment. (Assuming the woman has anti feminist or attention-getting motives, instead of just being a little clueless or from out of town.) Southerners, Westerners and midwesterners seem more willing to imagine that she’s from somewhere else and her dressing norms are different.

  50. Houston, I imagine from your moniker that you are from Houston, and I specifically said that the cities are different. US cities are actually not all that different from each other, but they can vary a lot from the surrounding areas. To me, the difference is that if I move to a medium size city in say Arkansas, I will meet with a lot of disapproval and would not feel comfortable expressing many of my opinions. On the other hand, if a conservative, gun owning, hunting kind of person moves to a medium size town in MA or upstate NY, they will be accepted, in part because there will already be people like them living there in addition to the more standard stereotypical NE liberals.

    I actually lived for 5 years in a smallish town in MA, a good ways from Boston, so I know what the mix of people is. My sister lives in a similar town in KY, and it isn’t the same feeling at all there. It was a dry county until recently, and there are very few people who aren’t evangelical Christians.

  51. When I moved to Charlotte, local neighbors/coworkers definitely asked me in the first conversation if I had found a church “yet” with the assumption that OF COURSE someone like me would be going to church regularly. How else to find a nice boy to marry immediately? Clock is ticking – you are already 23! ;) Many offered to bring me to their church/20-something church social events. But no one ever said anything critical to me when I said that I wasn’t really religious. (I did graciously attend some church social events though.)

  52. Before I moved here some of my friends from Boston were so apprehensive on my behalf that I started to wonder what was wrong with the place.
    It’s quite warm today – Part of the heat wave I suppose.

  53. “There is one thing that I will apologize to my fellow American citizens though. I feel terrible that we foisted Ted Cruz upon you. Please accept my deepest regrets.”

    Ha! I think that sentiment is shared among many political views. :)

  54. “Before I moved here some of my friends from Boston were so apprehensive on my behalf that I started to wonder what was wrong with the place.”

    I was one of 3 people who moved from CT to NC from my office. The other two are still there over 15 years later. So I was obviously the minority in not feeling as comfortable with the culture!

  55. BTW, the smallish town in MA was near a state forest, and in hunting season, we would hear guns going off all the time. In winter, the ice fishing shacks came out. There was still a functioning mill in town at the time (they made thread) so lots of millworkers, but also lots of tech industry people. Ice fishing in winter, and boating in summer was popular across the board, though.

  56. “I think prejudice and judginess are human traits that everyone has.”

    Me too. I know extended family members who are suspicious of blacks or Asians (“Orientals”), UMC DC professionals who mock Republicans and orthodox Catholics, orthodox Catholics who object to women with bare heads in church, and northeastern liberals who think that anyone who speaks with a thick southern accent must be a racist idiot.

  57. Mafalda – I never know what to wear to more formal events in Miami. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often. I’m often much more concealed/conservative than what the local women are wearing. That is mostly due to my own personal style and tastes but there definitely is a regional difference too.

  58. There’s actually plenty of mediocre BBQ. Go to Pecan Lodge if you’re willing to wait in line.

    For more upscale Mexican, try Javier’s. Mr. Mesero is good Tex-Mex.

  59. Stuff to do – Thanks for the specific recommendations. He’s 9 so not choosy, but I’d enjoy having good local cuisine.

  60. Kerri – you can’t go wrong if you bare your shoulders, your legs, ( including thighs) umm maybe something low cut, a bit of navel, your feet, – don’t forget the 4 inch heels. I’m kidding of course!

  61. Mafalda – you forgot the jewelry! =)

    Me: flats, pants, blouse (not low cut, maybe sleeveless), no jewelry, minimal make-up. Nah, I don’t stand out at all. /s/

  62. I know extended family members who are suspicious of blacks or Asians (“Orientals”),

    Asians? What are they expecting them to do? Good at math, terrible drivers….?

  63. Didn’t the schools just have snow days last week???

    We have some leftover snow in our driveway and the kids were taking photos in their flip flops on the snow mound.

  64. “Asians? What are they expecting them to do? Good at math, terrible drivers….?”

    The Asians they have encountered, usually medical professionals, often speak with an accent they find hard to understand. They also look Asian, not “American.” And those from the WWII generation tended to call them “Japs” regardless of their actual origin. (Also refused to buy German or Japanese cars for decades).

  65. Kerri – You might like the Ft. Worth and/or Dallas Zoos. The Dallas Zoo is not really near anything else, but if you are doing other things in Ft. Worth, the zoo is more central. I love the Kimbell, but not sure your son would. Louis Kahn was the architect and some people go to see the building as much as what is in it. If you are an architecture geek that is!

  66. Scarlett — I’m curious: What do orthodox Catholic women wear on their heads to church? A hat? A veil? Do the men cover their heads as well? DH’s parents were Catholic, and whenever we went to church with them, it seemed that everyone in the congregation was super casual — lots of jeans in cooler weather, and shorts in the summer.

  67. NoB – I would say very orthodox Catholics and women from certain cultures cover their heads. The immigrants from Eritrea use a thin white scarf while in church but I have observed that they are dropping it the longer they are here.

    Anecdote. Today my DD’s class visited a senior living facility. It is part of an oral history project where they interview residents on their life, write down the answers and publish a book at the end. The families of the residents have sometimes used these oral histories as part of the eulogy.
    Anyway, DD’s Grandbuddy who volunteered was no where to be found. DD learned that she was a very busy lady who had a full schedule. DD was impressed with senior living – it’s cafe and salon. She is fixin’ to go live there herself.
    The Grandbuddy who showed up was a 95 yr old gentleman. He told the kids that his father would be in jail today because he was regularly whacked with a leather belt.
    Fun with oral history !

  68. When I was a very little girl I couldn’t wait until I got to make my first communion and wear a veil to church. Unfortunately they stopped that requirement a later so I was out of luck (Vatican two?). I was dying to have a little white veil – but I think my mom would have made us wear hats instead – I guess that was the other option.

    My vague understanding was that it was respectful to cover your head when you were in church.

  69. Not Scarlett, but I’ll speak on the head coverings since I’m an orthodox Catholic. It’s no longer required and I don’t do it. Some women choose to veil as a private devotion, but it’s a personal choice.

  70. Thanks, everyone. I’m not traditionally religious myself, but I do find it really interesting to learn about others’ religious practices.

  71. We finally made it to Costco. We’re fine with the produce and dairy quantities, and the multipacks of cereal, bread, ravioli, etc. There were a lot of things, like lox, that we’ll need to get samples of before we commit to a whole package. I didn’t see scallops, will go back alone to look more carefully. Most surprising were the things they didn’t have–very small selection of feminine hygiene, only one type of microwave (I’ll look online to see if they have others). Anyway, thanks everybody who gave me tips. They were being really strict about members only, so I might not have done it without your advice.

    Ivy and Lauren, could you please email me at this handle at hotmail?

  72. SSK, I wore a veil to my first community ion a decade after Vatican II.

    Ivy, your experience in Charlotte sounds like mine in Ga and Tx. Not going to a church and not wanting to date were very, very strange. It doesn’t surprise me that a person with S Asian features would not get the “what church” question (and therefore not the follow up “then I invite you to mine, the Church of x, on this street. Services are at y:00 and z:30).

    On saying “hi”–it took me a while to adapt to when and how Germans acknowledge strangers. I’d generally say the stereotype of not greeting is roughly accurate. So I was surprised recently when a German friend who has lived in a Paris suburb for a few years was complaining and included “they are so unfriendly here! I want to say “hello” on the street and not be looked at like I have three heads!”

    Otoh, I apparently don’t fit the stereotype Germans have of Americans. Quite a few people commented that I couldn’t be all American. When pressed, they’d say it was because I was too nice. Ouch. Also “ouch” was the consensus among my Somali boyfriend’s compatriots that I was very unusual for a white woman, because I respected them, related to them as individuals, and didn’t just want to have to s of sex. I spoke with The German women a couple of them were married to and unfortunately found the characterization fitting.

    In the US, I find Southerns and Midwesterners to be judgemental, each in their own ways. The main thing about it that bugs me is the effort necessary to figure out what they are trying to say, in their circumspect little ways around the bushes. It amuses me that my son says “ma’am” and “sir”. My parents couldn’t stand it when my ha boyfriend did that. DS’s explanation is “I don’t want to get smacked!”

  73. DH and I inadvertently talked about this today. We were driving home chatting about how our friends from different areas drive. And how they always tell us we are aggressive even though how we drive us defensive for metro NYC.

    I’m sure my personality has changed. Oddly I’ve mellowed over the years in RI but I think that’s more maturity than being in New England. I do like the relative slowness of being around here.

    On Catholics – my aunt and mom were reminiscing on wearing head coverings st church. And mom pinning a tissue or hankie to their scalps if they forgot their coverings. I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that.

  74. Oh and my city is getting 5 new roundabouts in the same area to improve traffic flow. 4 are done. Not bad. If you remember what lane to be in… unlike me yesterday who was in the right lane and needed to go left into the circle. I made it because no one was on the road. If not I would have driven to the next roundabout and banked a u turn.

    First time I messed up on the roundabouts.

  75. S&M – yes, we all wore veils at our First Communion (like mini wedding veils!), but I guess I was referring to afterwards, when I had to go to church regularly. My parents did not bring us that often when we were little; they each went to a separate mass, one of them bringing my older sister when she made her First Communion. I think we started all going together when both of us had made our First Communions and they would bring my younger sibling along as well. I bet they thought of church as an hour of peace and quiet in a household with three young children!

  76. I see as getting invited to attend a church or temple (my neighbor asked me) as more of a social invite that anything else. There could be other invites for group activities when people tell you the name of the gym or yoga class they go to. If one is single this may be more so as people think that the single person may want to meet up with other people.
    We have often talked about the difficultly of making friends as adults and these are some ways to meet up.
    I hear ads on the radio for activities clubs but those are more geared to younger singles.

  77. You all stirred up forgotten memories of wearing veils to Catholic mass. It was a requirement when I was a child, and a tissue that was bobby pinned to your hair would do if you forgot your veil. We called the larger triangular veils “mantillas” and the small circular ones “chapel veils” IIRC. My parochial school uniform included a felt beanie, and I seem to remember that could substitute as a head covering.

  78. Rio, when you say you are “orthodox Catholic”, do you mean you are not Roman Catholic? Or do you mean you are Roman Catholic but adhere strictly to the rules?

  79. DH’s entire extended family is Catholic. I have been to tons of funerals, baptisms, and weddings, and have never ever seen a veil, even among the most elderly Polish ladies. I have seen a lot of photos of his sisters going to Easter service in the 60’s, and they always had hats on, not veils.

  80. Hosted a sleepover with 5 14 year old boys. A fun time was had by all, but my house now smells like teenaged boy. It reeks–the kids are clean, but the house still smells funky. Need to open the doors and windows to air out the place!

    What is everyone else doing this weekend?

  81. Costofcollege – yes, that is what I wanted to wear! However I think I would have had to wear a hat instead.

  82. Louise — interesting article. But different people use the term “orthodox Catholic” in different ways, and it makes a difference if the “O” is capitalized. I used to work with a guy who was orthodox Catholic, and his group basically just rejected everything that came out of Vatican II. So that’s why I’m asking rio what she means, and i wonder if Scarlett identifies that way as well.

  83. Thanks RMS – I’d be interested in what Rio and Scarlett have to say as well. My family has/is mainstream with some people deciding to pay more attention to their faith especially as they grow older.

  84. Houston, we had a similar sleepover last night. DW and I are going to a concert tonight, otherwise we have no plans for the weekend. DD got back from Costa Rica yesterday and is still totally exhausted.

  85. I always took Orthodox Christian to mean Eastern Orthodox, which itself covers a lot of different religions. I didn’t think it meant a particular American subset of Catholic.

    I went to an Armenian Orthodox wedding once. Really interesting to see the similarities and differences with a Catholic ceremony. The maid of honor and best man had to hold something (flowers?) over the bride and grooms head throughout the entire ceremony.

  86. That’s what Orthodox Christian means, yes, I agree, Kerri. But rio referred to “orthodox Catholic”.

  87. Kerri – DS went to visit the college on the other hill and brought back Nines pizza and Purity ice cream!

  88. Kerri – Re. the Armenian wedding, those were probably wedding crowns being held over the couple’s heads. Such crowns are central part of Eastern Orthodox weddings. Each sect can have its own variation on the theme, though. Sometimes flowers or leaves are used. Other times the church performing the ceremony has heavy, ornate crowns that they provide; in those cases, the crowns are generally not placed directly on the couple’s heads, but rather are held above their heads for the ceremony by the best man/woman. The Greek Orthodox use crowns that the couple selects, and the crowns are placed on their heads for most of the ceremony. Here are some examples.

  89. I know we like to share the stories from our local Nextdoor groups, we have a great one going on ours. There is a drainage ditch that runs alongside a street on the edge of our neighborhood. It gets pretty full with runoff when it rains. There is a dirt/gravel trail that runs between the ditch and the road, maybe about a half mile long. The trail becomes very muddy difficult to navigate when It rains or snows, and pretty much impossible for people in wheelchairs or using strollers.

    The city has finally started a project to pave the trail. I see this as a very good thing. However, the design for the project requires the removal of three healthy trees. The city claims they cannot plant new trees along the path because there is no irrigation system in place. (The current trees have done perfectly fine without irrigation, so I don’t understand why new trees wouldn’t be able to grow, but that’s a side issue.)

    People in the neighborhood are outraged about this. One guy is a retired geologist and went out with a clinometer to show that the grade won’t be as steep as they claim (the reasoning for removing one of the trees). People have calling and emailing all the local politicians, they’ve called all the TV stations and the newspaper. They are now planning to have a protest rally tomorrow to try to save the trees.

    This is a much-needed upgrade and I can’t believe these people are spending so much time fighting over three trees. And the venom of some of the comments is unreal.

  90. “DH’s entire extended family is Catholic. I have been to tons of funerals, baptisms, and weddings, and have never ever seen a veil, even among the most elderly Polish ladies.”

    Most mainstream American Catholic women don’t wear veils and many never have seen a woman wearing one at any Mass. But they are common among certain sectors of orthodox Catholics, and can often be seen at daily Masses at basilicas, cathedrals, and parishes that offer the Latin Mass, especially among women from certain Hispanic countries. And you’re far more likely to see a young homeschooling mom and her daughters wearing veils than elderly Polish ladies.

    I have never worn a veil, but have had interesting conversations with other orthodox Catholic women who wouldn’t dream of entering a church without one, or, for that matter, attending Mass wearing pants or sleeveless tops or dresses. It’s an issue of modesty with them, and though most of them regard it as a purely personal choice, a small number think that everyone should follow their example. But there are some more liberal Catholic women who are absolutely livid when they seem women in veils.

  91. So by orthodox Catholic I just mean I believe and follow all of the Catholic Church teachings to the best of my ability, including less popular teachings like no contraception and weekly Mass attendance. I don’t say “conservative Catholic” because some positions like anti-death penalty aren’t considered conservative in the U.S. I don’t reject Vatican II and I like Pope Francis well enough though Benedict was more my style.

  92. “orthodox Catholic women who wouldn’t dream of entering a church without one, or, for that matter, attending Mass wearing pants or sleeveless tops or dresses.”

    If they’re not going to wear pants or dresses, then what are they going to wear to church?

    I’m guessing it’s not shorts.

  93. Actually, that was a sort of serious question. I am really wondering what they wear if not pants and not dresses, and where I live, shorts are socially acceptable in many settings.

  94. OK Finn, I’ll play.

    The phrase was “sleeveless tops or dresses” with sleeveless modifying both tops and dresses.

    Get it now?

  95. The case for the Oxford comma. Or in this case, the case for multiple commas.

    Have I mentioned before that I tend to read things literally, and not necessarily what was meant by the writer?

    I think that if I were a lawyer, I’d be good at proofreading documents and pointing out alternative interpretations that the writers totally missed but could possibly be exploited to the detriment of the writers’ clients.

  96. Finn, even with your interpretation of the sentence, they can still wear skirts, with tops that are not sleeveless.

  97. Mooshi’s comment reminds me of this.
    Irving Berlin – Easter Parade Lyrics
    In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
    You’ll be the grandest lady in the easter parade.
    I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over,
    I’ll be the proudest fellow in the easter parade.
    On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
    And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.
    Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
    And of the girl I’m taking to the easter parade.

    Louise, certainly there are other things to which one could be invited, but the consistency of invites to church made it clear that it wasn’t just one more social option. Blerg.

  98. Finn, the lawyers here can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the obvious and overwhelmingly common understandings of words and phrases are given precedence in legal matters, and if one wishes to claim a strange understanding of a string of words, a very clear and detailed explanation of why they would not accept the obvious would be required. Showing up to church in my birthday suit and claiming I thought it was required for the reason you gave would not fly.

  99. SM, an anecdote from my early adulthood:

    After suffering an injury, my MD prescribed PT for me. I checked my medical insurance coverage, and it seemed pretty clear to me that the PT was covered up to a certain %age, so I went ahead with the PT. As was the usual case for me back then, I paid the therapist, then filed a reimbursement claim with my medical insurer.

    I was quite surprised when the insurer rejected my claim, so I wrote a few letters, quoted the exact section I’d checked earlier, and explained how their coverage document clearly stated it was covered. After a little while, I got a reimbursement check for the amount I’d claimed.

    After reading the insurance company’s explanation, I went back and re-read the applicable section, and realized there was another possible interpretation, in which my PT was not covered.

    The next year, I noticed that section was re-written, such that it was clear that the type of PT I received was not covered.

  100. Finn that is exactly what I expected you to say. :)

    Me too!

    Thanks for the explanation, Rio.

  101. Interesting article Rocky. I would give most people the benefit of the doubt that they are simply unaware of this issue. I was until I just read the article – I had no idea that different fonts are harder or easier for people with dyslexia to read.

  102. I am a font weenie (I actually wanted to be a type designer back when I was in HS), and yes, I do like Times Roman. I like New Century Schoolbook even more. But I tend to put all my handouts for my students into Century Gothic, which feels more open and “friendlier”. It is also considered to be an “ink saving” font, and appears in at least some lists of dyslexic-friendly fonts.

    For whatever reason, I find comic-sans difficult to read. It appears “jumpy” to me.

  103. Question, from someone mired in proofreading and seeing double: Is the term “Indian Summer” racist?

    I just Googled that, and found a blog post that say, in part, this:

    “Wikipedia gives three theories of the term’s etymology:

    That was when the Native Americans in the Northeast harvested their corns and squash.
    Raids on European colonies by native war parties were generally though to end in the fall, so summer-like weather in the fall was associated with more raids.
    Like “Indian giver,” it was based on the idea that Indians were deceitful: as false as summer in October.
    So, that’s one non-racist explanation and two racist ones. I doubt anyone really knows how the term came about.”

    What do you all think? If you were to read “Indian summer” in a novel, would you think the author is racist?

    Should I just change it to “an unseasonably warm fall” and be done with it?

  104. Risley – FWIW and strictly as a reader, not an analyzer of the author’s intent, the term Indian summer brings up this picture – beautiful fall weather, warm, leaves turning color, blue skies with not a cloud. You know that this weather will not last so you try to make the most of it.
    “Unseasonably warm fall” conjures up no images to me as a reader.

  105. I agree with Louise about the images that come to my mind when I think of Indian summer. I have heard the same phrase used when I was working in the UK, so I didn’t think this was a racist term that had anything to do with Native American Indians.

  106. I do not take “Indian summer” as racist, but I have never thought about it.

    Likewise. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get yelled at for it.

  107. ‘ “Indian summer” racist ‘ brought up 197K search results on Google. I’d skip it and use another phrase.

  108. Thanks all. I’m considering asking a guy I barely know, who practices Native American rights law. Not that he’d have ever had a case on it, but I assume he’s given such things some consideration and would have an opinion. I want him to tell me there’s no issue with it. Likely wishful thinking.

    As kids, we said “Indian Summer” and “Indian sunburn” and “Indian giver.” We dumped the last 2 because they’re racist–about the time we started saying “Inuit” instead of “Eskimo”–but I don’t recall discussing the first.

  109. Ah – just saw your 4:13 post, RMS. Thank you for that! Not going to bother emailing the guy now, and will go with “unseasonably warm fall.”

  110. I am such a mischief maker ! I declare both brown nose and Holy cow ! to be racist. Maybe they already are and I am totally ignorant.

  111. I’d never thought of Holy cow, Louise, but I see your point there. I’m w/ RMS on brown nose. Nothing to do with skin color.

  112. I never thought of any of those terms as racist, as opposed to the Redskins, which clearly is.

  113. I remember being taught in elementary school that Indian Summer was an unseasonable warm spell in winter that was going to be taken away by Mother Nature, like an indian giver would take back what they gave you. So yeah, I guess it is something that wouldn’t be acceptable today.

  114. ““Unseasonably warm fall” conjures up no images to me as a reader.”

    I agree.

    I also have some fond memories of some specific Indian Summer days, particularly when they fell on weekends.

    OTOH, the weather on the day of the Loma Prieta quake might be considered to be Indian Summer as well.

    It may not work in your context, but how about something like, “the weather was what it days gone by might’ve been called Indian Summer.”

  115. I’d avoid the phrase “Indian summer”, unless I were a novelist, writing dialogue for or describing a character whose racism was mostly a lack of attention to anything not directly in his own path.

    Louise, you’re declaring “holy cow!” racist because of connection to Hindu Brahmins?
    Claiming that the “brown” in “brown nose” is connected to race–that’s racist!

  116. There is a contingent of people who believe that the term brown nose has its origin in the colonies where it refers to the native population trying to curry favor with their British masters by kissing their arse.
    I’ll end here.

  117. “Claiming that the “brown” in “brown nose” is connected to race–that’s racist!”
    I know we are supposed to ignore trolly comments like this but Louise did not deserve this. She is one of the gentlest and kindest regulars on this site and she always seems to assume the best about what others say. I appreciate her contributions.

  118. There are problems with all polls. My point was that well-intentioned people who strive not to offend but who also have regular lives to lead can be confused about these matters.

  119. Louise, I hadn’t heard that colonial context. Thanks for that. I’m familiar with it in the classroom–teacher’s pet. But the source of the brown is the same, of course.

  120. Since when is calling someone a racist a joke? Perhaps this is a cultural difference between our two geographic regions?

  121. Houston, it’s word play.

    Risley, you could say something like “a lovely late warm spell” if you want to get across the positive connotations that Louise mentioned for Indian summer without people getting their hackles up.

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